Wolves, elk, sheep, and cattle along with National Parks

Ever since my freshman year J-term, I have a love of wolves and all things that go with them. The hate, the love, what they mean from ecology to farming/ranching. I guess a month on skis and snowshoes sniffing their poop and pee, makes you know them more then most. I also understand both sides of this issue, as a farm kid I was the side of that during class and reading article I still get it that with wolves what it means for the families that live on cattle and sheep. But also my eco-friendly side understands and loves what has gone back to “normal” in Yellowstone National Park and Glacier along with the area. So I was super happy when I got this months National Geographic there is a story, Wolf Wars by Douglas H. Chadwick.

By 1930s almost all wolves where gone in the west only some left in Minnesota and some place close to Canada. In 1974, it was listed as endangered in the lower 48 states. Then in the 1980s some came down from Canada into Glacier. Then in 1995 & 6 they captured 66 in Canada and then released them into Yellowstone and Idaho. Where by the end of 2008, there where now 1,645 wolves in 217 packs. Which is very impressive.

Yellowstone National Park, has not been the same since. Elk have had to learn that wolves will eat them, and they are not the coyotes. Beavers now can have their streams back, since they have willows and other trees to eat and dam. birds have more trees, and with wolves we get more birds, thanks to killing and leaving some stuff behind. Also Elk have been cut in half, which from an eco stand point is a great thing, they eat way to much and destroyed it beacuse there was no check or balance. Its the cycle of life and for the past years there has not been one. Sadly we need to let the top dog in this case the wolf be there so it checks the whole way down.

But now sheep and cattle come into play. In 2008, there was 569 confirmed deaths of sheep and cattle by wolves. Along with that 264 wolves where killed. Now comes the hard part. Making both sides happy. One of things I learned during my class was that wolves don’t like cattle, they want deer or elf, wild game. But once they get a taste and see how easy it is, they will go after it. It could be compare to us and sugar. The article talks about this, how now ranchers need to destroy dead or sick/found dead calf/cattle before the wolves get to it. There needs to be more clean, just don’t go throw them over the hill which was practiced before since I’m guessing the 30s. There is now a group of people that have a rider, that lets people know where the wolves are and along follows/tracks them to make sure the ranchers know where to move their livestock. They are also using what was used in Europe with wire with flags around the cattle to make them notice. These are great steps forward or backward if you want to look at it that way. We might need to remember what they did before there was no wolves and start to re use those ideas. The government needs to work better one how to protect livestock, I remember in our class and bunch of different ways rancher/farmers where working to make them stay a way. But also if they do attack/eat/kill livestock how better to deal with it, from money stand point. $600 is not much and if it keeps happening then well you don’t have much left to show. It will take time for both sides to find better new or even old ideas of how to best work with it.

Hunters are also mad beacuse they are losing elk and deer, but they have to remember with out the wolf they would also decline beacuse nature is way better at population control then we are. In fact it should be looked at as better for the elk and deer population, get rid of sick…survival of the fittest. So maybe they will really need to hunt for them, and not just sit and wait and kill 5 in a day. So yes the population is down but its a good thing not bad.

I could go on and on about wolves, but we also have to remember other things out there. During my class I was way more worried about a Lynx coming out and attacking me from a tree then a wolf. In fact my teacher who did it ever January and more for 20 years only ever saw one once in the wild. I never did the whole time, only when we went to a place that was a educational/place for sick & captured wolves did I get to see them. Up close they are amazing. They remind me a lot about us and I think that is why we hate/love them.

I must say them have much better smelling pee then foxes or coyotes, so at least they have that going for them.

We need to remember things:
Wolves are sacred of us and don’t like us; as we are of them.
We don’t like them beacuse they are also on top of the food chain just like we are.
Sometimes going back is also going forward.
We need the wolves as much as it needs us.

Tracking wolves in NE Minn.