As an apex predator, the wolf is an animal that can play an important role in the ecosystem by ensuring that ungulate herds (browsers like deer, elk, moose, bison etc.) do not overpopulate and deplete the forage on which they depend. The wolf is natures check on another species. However, the wolf itself is an animal that needs to be managed so its prolific breeding tendency and voracious appetite (17.5 pounds of meat per wolf per week), does not outstrip the ungulate populations on which it relies.
In modern day America, wolves are no longer needed to reduce huge, roaming herds of ungulates as many environmental changes already limit the populations of deer, elk and moose. Cities and residences now create gaps between continuous, suitable habitat and ungulate populations have adjusted to the available forage. In Eastern Washington other predators, including bear, coyote and cougar also feed on ungulate populations, putting a mild check on the herds.
The introduction of the Gray Wolf to Yellowstone Park in 1997 started a trend in the west that has brought the wolf back as one of the most hated predators. A population of 66 wolves into Yellowstone and 35 into the Salmon River Wilderness in Southern Idaho have mushroomed into an uncontrolledwolves were not the native subspecies that existed prior to the introduction. Their primary recovery goal was to have 10 breeding pairs for three consecutive years distributed among the Northern Rocky Mountain Recovery Zone and remove the wolf from the endangered species list.
We have made the wolf a modern-day monster by failing to manage the population.
As of 2013, there are 1,691 Wolves made up of 320 packs and 78 breeding pairs spread throughout Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington. The territory of these packs directly overlaps on areas that do not have contiguous habitat, but rather are places where people, cities and towns exist. By failing to keep the population under control, we force situations where wolves attack people, livestock and pets as they roam unhindered.
As much as we would like for the misnomer about wolves not attacking people to be true, recent evidence shows otherwise. Out of respect for those who have died and been maimed in these attacks, lets not ignore the real possibilities and dangers of wolves. For information on these attacks and others, please click on the Human health risks page.
Thank you to everyone who attended our first WARAW wolf rally in Spokane last weekend. We had some very educational speakers, including Steve Alder from Idaho for Wildlife. Steve gave a sobering presentation about the impacts of wolves on elk herds in Idaho. Idaho for Wildlife has been very active on this issue, including helicopters to document actual wolf impacts and teams to collect better wolf related data. Below are some resource links from the Idaho for Wildlife website that were used in Steves presentation:
Steve Alder from Idaho for Wildlife visits with WARAW wolf rally attendees. We also had a fantastic presentation from Oregon Wolf Education (OWE). OWE is made up of citizens and ranching families who have dealt with wolves first-hand on their ranches and farms in Oregon. OWE faces many of the same challenges as WARAW and we look forward to partnering with them in the future.
Below is a link to the full OWE Powerpoint presentation:
OWE Spokane WARAW rally PP final