Wolves Essay, Research Paper
The wolves were deliberately driven from existence in Idaho and the rest of the lower 48 states in the early 1900?s according to the Encyclopedia Britannica information on wolves. This act was to be beneficial to the up and coming way of life in the west. It was intended to keep the livestock from getting killed and other harmful effects on life. Now the government is attempting to reintroduce wolves into the Idaho wilderness. These wolves are to complement the ecosystem and play a role in the environment (Gray Wolf Returns). The problem is that the reintroduction of these animals may put the environment into a state of ?shock? since it has now adapted to the absence of the wolves. Without the gradual migration of wolves back into the wilderness of Idaho, the wilderness may actually suffer more than it benefits. Is the reintroduction of wolves necessary and beneficial at the time?
The gray wolf, or Canis Lupus (Mech 14), has been a nuisance to the ranchers as far back as the 1600?s when the settlers first arrived in Virginia. This was also when the first bounty was ever established on wolves (DiSilvestro 93). From that day on, the inhabitants of the great United States have been attempting to push these ferocious beasts out of their land so that they would not eat their livestock. The reason the wolves began eating the livestock in the first place, was due to the fact that the settlers pushed the bison, the elk, mountain sheep, pronghorn, and deer into new territory. The plains wolves that were dependent on the big game had to find a new source of food. The only thing left was domestic cattle and sheep. Ranchers believed their only source of defense was guns and traps. They thought the only way was to kill these animals. The federal government saw the answer to be the same and joined the killing rage of these creatures (DiSilvestro 94). Now the wolves are nearly extinct, except for the small number that managed to live in Northern Minnesota. Suddenly the government is feeling remorseful for what they have done and are trying to fix their wrong.
In 1967, the wolf was added to the endangered species list. The problem with this was that this did not protect the animals; it merely stated that the animals? existence was in jeopardy (DiSilvestro 95). It wasn?t until 1973 that endangered species were actually protected by law. Now that the wolves are protected, the government is trying to reintroduce them into the wilderness of some states, including Idaho. This won?t work. The government needs to let these wolves move into the territory slowly and naturally. With a sudden reintroduction of wolves into the ecosystem of Idaho, there are a number of things that could happen.
First, the artificial reintroduction of the wolves into Idaho would most likely have a bad impact. The ecosystem has now adapted to the many years of wolves being absent. The food chain has adapted, the way of wilderness has changed, and people?s perception of the wild has changed. The wolves have been taken out of the food chain. Therefore, we have more elk, antelope, and deer to hunt because the wolves are not predators. The wolf reintroduction program is underway and becoming successful. ?Now we have to look at the effects it has on our big game populations? (Martinez). The wolves feed on these animals and that could drive the population well under the normal count. The most obvious adaptation of the missing wolves is the way people live. Now everybody can go out into the wilderness to go camping or fishing and not have to worry about whether or not they are in a wolf-populated area. This worry free environment will be taken from people when the wolves are introduced into the national landmarks.
A second possible result is that the land may benefit from reintroducing the wolves. Bringing the wolves back restores the way that nature was intended to operate. With them coming back, this may cause the food chain to change yet again, and will be restored to the way it was originally intended. This will also put the wolves in their former habitat and let them reproduce in their original stomping grounds. It will also be in favor of some Indian tribes? beliefs. In Mark Cheater?s article ?Wolf Spirit Returns to Idaho,? Ed Bangs says about the Nez Perce tribe that ? . . . they bring a different attitude about wolves ? a reverence for wildlife is part of their national heritage.? Wolves are not only animals but are also a part of the Nez Perce?s beliefs, and they respect the animal.
Ralph Tamez, a strong supporter of the reintroduction program states that the wolves will not bring any harm to the wilderness. ?This will bring it back to the way that nature was intended to be.? He thinks nature is diverse enough to adapt to the wolves being reinstated to the wilderness artificially(Tamez).
A challenge that the government may or may not be taking into consideration is the fact that the few wolves that they reintroduce at one time may die or be killed before the next wolves are released. Wolves can fall prey to various elements of nature, and even humans.
Wolves are natural predators and according to David Mech who wrote The Way of the Wolf, there are dominate wolves, or alpha members, and there are wolves that are dominated, or subordinate members. If the wolves that were released were to be an alpha member and a subordinate member, the alpha member may attack and kill the subordinate member, leaving only one wolf. One way to ensure that the wolves would not kill each other is to capture two alpha wolves from the same pack. The challenge here is that the two alpha wolves would be more dangerous to any wolf or wolves from another pack. ?It is not very uncommon for wolves to die by attack from other wolves . . .?(Mech 78).
Wolves can also die due to human interaction. Wolves, as stated before, are natural predators. They will find the easiest and the most convenient food source. The easiest and most convenient food source in this area is often livestock. Ranchers have found that cattle are dying from being attacked by the wolves. The Federal Government had planned to actually grant ranchers lethal take permits until two wolves were found dead. Now the government has pushed these permits back another year, and until then, killing wolves in response to attack on livestock is still illegal. These animals are protected under the Endangered Species act, and the government is trying to reintroduce them back into the state. At the same time they plan to issue lethal take permits on them? The actions of the government are just spinning everything in circles.
Wolves being reintroduced into Idaho are not only affecting Idaho ranchers, these animals are migrating out of Yellowstone National Park into Wyoming where there are also many ranches. According to an Idaho Statesman article one wolf that was planted in an Idaho section of Yellowstone, migrated to Dubois, Wyoming and killed cattle on an area ranch. Now the owner is suing the Interior Department, which is in charge of the reintroduction program in Idaho(Wolf Lawsuit). If this is something that the government wants to continue, it should be prepared to pay the ranchers for losses they suffer due to the wolves.
Wolves do not need to be moved from Canada, or Alaska to Idaho. As wolf populations grow, they expand in territories as certain wolves break away from their pack and go find their own land to
claim (Mech 31). As they migrate, they are going to have to move somewhere where there are no inhabitants if they want to survive. This may require long travels to new lands. The wolf will most likely stay in higher elevations where there is big game as a source of food. When moving south, one of the states in the path is Idaho. This process may take many years but this is better than setting the action artificially. This way, all of nature?s processes can take place at their own pace and may provide a better understanding to the people that this is inevitable.
Now that the wolves are actually being reinstated into Idaho, feelings are coming up that the government should have reevaluated their decision and thought the consequences out more thoroughly. Although wolves may be part of history and they may belong here, there are just too many downfalls to the sudden reintroduction of the animals. Allow a natural migration and let nature take its course. If the government is so worried about the natural species of the wild, why did they drive them out in the first place? Wolves should be in Idaho, but a sudden drop on the ecosystem would not necessarily be a good thing. Livestock may eventually be killed due to these animals, and ranchers would shoot the wolves in revenge. But the wolves do need to run in packs and stay with their own packs so that they can reproduce and keep the population growing. Nature will take its course. The reintroduction of wolves at this time is not necessary and is not beneficial to the Idaho Wilderness
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?Gray Wolf Returns.? National Wildlife Federation. January 1995. Online. Internet.
9 Feb. 1999. Available: www.nwf.org/endangered/learn/wolfrein.html.
Martinez, Kendra. ?Experts to gather, discuss effects of wolves in Idaho.? Idaho
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Mech, David L. The Way of the Wolf. Stillwater: Voyageur Press, Inc., 1991.
Tamez, Ralph. Personal interview. 28 April 2000.
?Wolf.? Encyclopedia Britannica. 1978 ed.
?Wolf lawsuit hearing continued to August But a rancher says cattle are dying, wants
action now.? Idaho Statesman. 22 Jul. 1998, 6b.