The Millenium Wolves Pdf ; A Book Worth Your Time
I feel obligated to respond to Mr. McMillan’s response regarding his solution to wolf management. Like all hunters, his is, “Shoot to kill.” Perhaps we should look at human population control as an alternative. We keep minimizing wildlife areas with our urban sprawl. As a result, there are more animals in smaller spaces. Some spill over into human domains and the hunters and trappers have an excuse to maim and kill.
Let mother nature take care of the problem. Too many wolves, or any other predators, will result in less prey and they either starve or, by nature, have less pups. Nature has always been a case of checks and balances, and like the old saying goes, “Why fool with mother nature?” Guns, traps, snares and arrows are not the solution. Those methods belong in the 19th century, not in the 21st. We humans are the problem, not the wildlife.
The Wolf at the Turn of the Millennium
As the new millennium dawns, it is beneficial to review the past. A thousand years ago wolves lived almost throughout their original range. However, as human populations increased, as livestock herding spread and as technology developed, the incentive and the ability to curb wolf numbers affected their existence.
During the past few centuries, wolves were wiped out of much of western Europe, Japan, Mexico, and all of the 48 contiguous United States except Minnesota and Isle Royale, Michigan. In other areas, their ranges and numbers were much reduced. Except for the last 70 years or so, the human mindset throughout the northern hemisphere was that the creatures were vermin, perhaps worse than rats, mice and cockroaches. Widespread poisoning, bounties, traps, snares, pits and actions such as digging pups out of dens were used to persecute the wolf and eliminate it wherever it competed with humans for livestock and sometimes even where it did not.
At the same time, market hunters were depleting herds of the wolf’s wild prey, forcing the predators to turn more to domestic animals. Only in the last several decades—primarily the last 30 years— have public attitudes about the wolf begun to change. We are fortunate to be bringing that change into the new millennium. Wolves are responding well. Through human protection and nurturing, they are repopulating such areas as France, Germany, Scandinavia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, North Carolina and Arizona.
Populations are strong in Minnesota, Alaska, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Eastern Europe, Italy, Russia, several areas of the Mideast and central Asia. As we enter the new millennium, the International Wolf Center celebrates this significant success and congratulates all the citizens, organizations, government agencies and media outlets that have together wrought this change.
We know that the new millennium will bring even greater challenges as the increasing populations of both wolves and humans continue to conflict. Thus we will strive through education to promote a greater understanding and tolerance of the wolf and a reduction of this conflict. With the solid support of our members as we enter this new era, we are confident of continued success.
Wild Lands and the Wolf
When the Rose Creek pair of wolves were flown from Canada and released in Yellowstone National Park in 1995, they explored the wilderness, killed elk and behaved like healthy wild wolves.
But the pair traveled outside of the park. A few days after they reached the outskirts of Red Lodge, Montana, wolf 10, a classically handsome 122-pound male affectionately nicknamed “The Big Guy,” was illegally shot and skinned. His mate, wolf 9, had just given birth to eight pups.
What happened next is perhaps a textbook example of why Mike Phillips, project leader for wolf restoration in Yellowstone at the time, believes that wildlands make the best home for wolves. “I asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to return wolf 9 with her pups to Yellowstone’s wildlands,” Phillips said. “It may have been the most important management decision of the project.” Relocated back to the park, wolf 9 gave birth to several more litters, and her first four female young and two of the males parented pups in 1997 and later years.
No longer near people who intended them harm, the pack infused generations of young wolves into the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. “While wolf populations ebb and flow in other places,” Phillips contends, “wildlands will always be the nidus—the nest or breeding source—where wolves can flourish in safety.”
The Wolf on the Porch
In northern Minnesota, some wolves living around humans have become relaxed, much like “nuisance” bears that hang around dumps and garbage containers. Bill Paul, district supervisor of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Wildlife Services office, handles such complaints of wolves killing livestock and pets.
Sometimes wolf incidents seem like fiction, even to experienced wildlife officers, says Paul. In one instance, a woman was fixing a friend’s hair in her kitchen. She heard pounding outside, investigated, and found a wolf trying to kill her dog on the front porch. She grabbed a snow shovel and whacked the wolf until it backed off into the yard.
Investigators didn’t know whether to believe the telephone account until they arrived and found blood from the wounded dog in the snow on the porch. As wolf populations grow in many areas, wolves are forced to colonize near humans. When a wolf comes up on a porch to eat suet from a bird feeder, it naturally provokes concerns for kids and pets playing in the yard. While there has been no attacks on children in Minnesota where the wolf populations are thriving, it could happen, Paul says.
A GREATER TOLERANCE: The Coexistence
I f humans and wolves survive for another thousand years and if the history of the relationship between the two species is ever chronicled in detail, the beginning of the third millennium will be recorded as a period of great change. In the last half of the 20th century, people in North America and western Europe began to alter their views about the wolf and about nature in general. For example, increasingly favorable attitudes were expressed in books, movies and art. Other indicators of this attitude change included the pleas to restore wolves to Yellowstone National Park, the creation of protective legislation, and the founding of organizations to defend and promote the wolf.
Beginning in the 1970s, numerous opinion surveys showed considerable acceptance of the animal in several nations. Surveys show more support—a broad trend occurring in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. The rabid anti-wolf rhetoric of earlier decades has largely subsided. Now, often wolves are not only tolerated but valued and admired. A recent public opinion survey in Minnesota showed strong appreciation for wolves, with only a small minority disliking them. Even most farmers in the state now have favorable attitudes about wolves!
Moreover, many people are willing to make economic sacrifices for the well-being of wolves, for example, contributing to livestock compensation funds either voluntarily or through tax dollars. Recognizing an “environmentally friendly” niche in the consumer marketplace, some farmers and ranchers offer “predator-friendly” products; no wolf or other predator is killed in raising the meat animal or the sheep for its wool, and customers are willing to pay a higher price for products derived from them. It seems that Western societies are willing to tolerate at least some of the added costs of maintaining substantial numbers of wolves.
Wolves have responded to this greater tolerance by expanding their range and increasing in numbers, reclaiming some areas in Canada and reoccupying places in western Europe where they were long absent. In the United States, several states that lost their wolf populations now have wolves from reintroduction or natural colonization. In Minnesota, the wolf population has quadrupled in the last three decades, and populations in the northern Rockies are increasing rapidly.
A Wilder Place
We would be deluding ourselves to think that the calendar has been turned back to a time when the world was a wilder place. Many areas being reoccupied by wolves are not what they once were, but rather are used by people for a variety of purposes, including livestock production. The expansion of the Minnesota population has resulted in more wolves living near people and livestock than at any time in the state’s history.
In the next few years there will be further range expansion, and the wolf population will increase in several countries. As this happens, more people will hear wolves howl, observe their tracks, and see the chewed remains of animals— both wild and domestic—that they have killed. SteveFritts Bill Paul examining a wolf-killed cow.
Unlike our ancestors, we know that wild wolves are extremely unlikely to harm people. Indeed, not all of those humanwolf encounters will be welcomed. Wolves will cause anxiety to parents of children who wait for the school bus in wolf country. Wolves will fight with the family dog.
They will kill more and more domestic animals, and in some circumstances compete with hunters for big game. How far will future societies that value the wolf go to address those situations? Will they consider the wolf an “untouchable” animal, like cattle in India, and do nothing, or will they insist on corrective action to safeguard the interests of people who are adversely affected by wolves?
Reasons for Action
There are three reasons why our descendants will want to take action against individual wolves or wolf populations. First, wolves will continue to be perceived as a threat to people, especially children, and will affect the peace of mind of people who live in wolf country. Unlike our ancestors, we know that wild wolves are extremely unlikely to harm people.
However, a few recent incidents of wolves grabbing and injuring children in Algonquin Park, Ontario, and the recent documentation of wolves carrying away and eating small children in India, requires that this issue be taken seriously. Some wolves seem to have less fear of humans than decades ago when the animals were avoiding bullets, steel traps and poisons. Although the risk is still minor, the potential for a wolf harming a human has increased.
Even a single documented human death from a wild wolf in North America, which would undoubtedly be highly publicized, might be enough to sway public opinion against the species. Therefore, any wolves that are “hanging around” a populated area should be removed. Another reason to take action against wolves is increased depredations on livestock and pets.
This problem creates economic losses and causes resentment against wolves and those who venerate them. Some believe this problem can be solved through changes in farm management practices and nonlethal means such as guard dogs and scare devices. While most Americans prefer those nonlethal approaches, the hard truth is that killing problem wolves is the most effective tactic available, and often the only option. No viable substitute is in sight.
Monetary compensation, an important supplementary tool in wolf management, offers no permanent solution to the depredation problem. Some European countries pay huge amounts for livestock killed by wolves, and payments are increasing in the United States. Compensation in Minnesota has totaled some $664,361 through 1998. Increased payments could ultimately result in political opposition to compensation programs — and wolves.
As stated by Italian biologists Paolo Ciucci and Luigi Boitani, compensation payments may “encourage a state of permanent conflict.” A third reason to take action is for the management of big game herds. There are circumstances in which wolves can hasten the decline