To J.O.: Wolves are apex predators, designed to be at the top of the food chain; they have population regulatory mechanisms built in. For example, if the wolf density is high, fewer females breed. I have never heard of a wolf population exploding and starving itself out; to claim that they need to be managed "just like deer, elk, sheep, goats, pronghorn, etc.," is an invalid comparison. These are all prey animals, which are adapted to being controlled by a predator higher up. Comparing wolves to coyotes is also invalid; the coyote is a mesopredator, not an apex predator. Bears, mountain lions, and perhaps bobcats are the only other apex predators on your list, and as you inferred, I don't think they ought to be managed either. However, I do tend to focus on wolves because they are being "managed" even more harshly than the rest of the wildlife right now, and because they are unfairly demonized. (I have yet to hear anybody going on about how a bobcat is going to eat their child at the bus stop.) Wolves also have a high level of intelligence and social structure. Kill a wolf, and you haven't just affected that one wolf; you may have destabilized his whole pack. http://web.nrdpfc.ca/newspages/New%20Scien…
I also do not believe that an ecosystem with artificially enforced population stability is more healthy by default than one with fluctuations. On what do you base that idea? I find that management advocates have a tendency to conveniently define "healthy ecosystem" to match up with whatever happens to afford humans the greatest short-term pleasure. Even if you are correct in this presumption, forcibly sacrificing individuals to serve the welfare of the collective is not something that we consider ideal for our own species, so why any other? Again, wolves in "reasonable numbers" are not enough for me. How would you feel if your dog (or whatever sort of pet you might have) died and I acted as if it didn't matter, and said that it's all good because we still have a reasonable number of dogs in the state? So no, we cannot have it ALL through traditional wildlife management. Your list of benefits does not include the one thing I am most concerned about: the protection of INDIVIDUAL lives from deliberate, premeditated destruction that serves only human wants rather than genuine needs. I also wonder how these "professional wildlife managers" know what level to set the wolf population at, to ensure that we have stability. They can't even count the animals properly, for pity's sake! How are they supposed to know how many we should get rid of, when they don't even really know how many we have at the moment?
I don't have time for a long discussion, so I'm going to bow out and not visit this thread again. I think it's fairly obvious that you and I are arguing from a different values base anyway -- your response did nothing to address my concerns about the worth of individuals, which tells me that you find these concerns unimportant. There's not much I can do about that, except shake my head at you. Here's a final thought that might be of interest to someone in your position, though. Wild predators have a culling effect on game herds; their physical limitations make them more likely to go for the prey that are easiest to catch. Humans, having produced technology to overcome our limitations, are more likely to take the biggest and the best. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009… Over time, if predator populations are kept to an artificially low level and extensive human hunting of the prey takes place, what you are likely to see is genetic decline among the prey. Whether you're a hunter or not, that's not cool.
Montana FWP does not intend to "manage wolves just like they manage similar species." Their management goals are calculated to hold the wolf population at abnormally low numbers compared to mountain lions, bears, and other predatory animals in the state (even if we accept that the population is as large as MFWP's bean counters claim it is).
And no, I do not want to leave this in the hands of "professional wildlife managers," because most of the people to whom that label applies view wild animals as commodities. They are not; they are individuals with histories, families, and personal lives that they enjoy. Saying, "Well I'm not anti-wolf but I want them controlled" is weasel language. It's like owning an African slave and going on about how you love Africans. (No, I don't think wolves are equal to humans, but the same kind of logic is in play for both scenarios.) I will not accept what Scully called "numerical survival only" for the wolves. Leave them alone to live out full lives as God intended. The ecosystem will find its own balance; how do you think wolves and their prey manage to live in remote areas where there is little or no human hunting?? Game numbers do fluctuate, but this is not a bad thing. The motivation for keeping them stable is rooted in human selfishness -- the hunters want a steady stream of elk and deer, every year, no matter what. Get over yourselves and share with the wolves. Eating beans and rice for one winter won't kill you.
I am a Montana resident in the Gallatin Valley area. I know one person who reported hearing wolves howl while staying in a cabin, and that is IT for any sign of wolves among me or my acquaintances. The black bears, on the other hand, are so numerous and unafraid that they come right into town in the fall, to eat fruit off people's trees and get into their trash. Most people don't make a big deal out of it; when the bears start showing up, it's just that time of year again. The fact that wolves are treated so differently demonstrates the depth of the hysteria surrounding them.
I have a car with rusty fender issues that I don't want to get any worse, so this hits home for me. I appreciate the plant-based nature of the stuff too ... the fewer strange chemicals we have getting into our land and water, the better.
The chef biographies are, perhaps, more interesting than the recipes themselves ... I was particularly caught by the story of "Peter the Pie Guy."
This inexperienced driver prefers roundabouts ... they seem easier to use, somehow, than traditional traffic lights, especially if you need to make a left turn. But perhaps that is because I am young and not so used to traditional stop lights. My mother seems to find roundabouts very confusing.
I wish I knew what to think about this. At first, the things people were saying about it sounded scary, but then I read the bill myself, and found myself wondering whether panic was really warranted. As mentioned in the article, I suppose the true scariness depends to some extent on how the language is interpreted. Regardless of how you feel about the law right now, I'd encourage everyone to read the relevant sections of the bill themselves (it is available on the internet, and the controversial parts are not too long).
First of all, New Yorkers are not the only ones who oppose wolf hunting. I'm a resident of Montana's Gallatin Valley, I support a large, healthy wolf population in Montana, and I attended the Helena "howl-in." I appreciate the solidarity from wolf supporters who live outside Montana, because Montana's elected politicians don't listen to me and others like me. The hunting and ranching factions seem to get primary consideration from them.
Second, you can't necessarily compare wolves to coyotes. Wolves are an apex predator, whereas coyotes are a mesopredator -- they operate differently. Comparing wolves to cougars is more fair. No, I don't think wolves are more special than cougars ... I think we should stop hunting cougars as well. Any animal that we don't need for food should be allowed to live in peace. But wolves are not just being "managed like any other wildlife." Compare what the game agencies of MT and ID have established as the target wolf population, to the average cougar population, and you will see a large discrepancy. These states are willing to tolerate five to ten times as many cougars as wolves! (And I believe a cougar eats more than a wolf.) That alone suggests that there is more behind these wolf hunts than a sincere desire for responsible wildlife management.
Third, wolves are not out of balance or out of control; they have not "decimated" their prey, and they are not going to. The RMEF, which is hardly a pro-wolf organization, has claimed that Montana had about 150,000 elk for the past three years. I don't really care if you haven't been seeing very many elk in your area lately; local declines are not a bad thing, and do not indicate that the overall population is unhealthy. The sharp decline in some herds (e.g. northern Yellowstone) probably just indicates that the elk were overpopulated in those areas to begin with. How do we decide what represents "balance" anyway? Maybe a lower population of grazers would be a good thing. Wolves have lived in harmony with their prey species for decades in the few places where they are not hunted -- Isle Royale and Canada's high arctic. Occasionally some wolves might starve, but in that case it is likely to be the old or the weak that go first. Human hunting tends to remove the largest and strongest individuals from the population, since they make the best "trophies." And this sort of hunting might actually increase the chances of starvation -- kill a couple of strong individuals in a pack, and yes, they have fewer mouths to feed, but you also reduce their ability to hunt successfully (making them more likely to go after livestock, perhaps -- oh noes!). In a couple of areas, Idaho's hunt even runs through denning season, which means pups may starve after their parents or supporting pack-mates are shot. Even if hunting DOES prevent wolves from starving, is it really the best way to approach the problem? An acquaintance of mine asked how we would feel if aliens decided to "manage" the human species to prevent famines. We'd probably decide they were evil, wouldn't we? The "I'm killing you for your own good" argument just doesn't fly very well.
And I'm tired of arguing about whether wolves "sport kill," so I will just say this: the next time your pet house cat leaves an uneaten dead bird or mouse in your yard, ask yourself whether it deserves to die for such "horrible" behavior.
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