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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wolves are important, no matter what you think.

 Some people think that wolves are useless, simply evil predators that are going to kill all of their livestock and eat Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. That is a stereotypical assumption. Wolves are important in the ecosystem. They kill off the sickly and weak animals, they keep coyotes at bay, and they feed lots of other animals with the carrion they leave behind uncovered, such as bears, ravens, and vultures. Wolves are an animal that help us, more often than they hurt us. In fact there is no record of a healthy wolf attacking a human in North America. Nearly all Wolf attacks have been from a rabid wolf, non rabid wolf attacks, although very rare, do happen. Many non-rabid wolf attacks happen at home by people who kept a wolf as a pet. Although wolves do attack people, wolves are still a very important predator in this world. Here are many reasons why.

  In 1995, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. Before that, the park was overrun with elk and coyotes. The pronghorns were gone, the bears were gone, the beavers were gone. The elk over ate in the forests, causing the amount of Aspen trees, Willows, cottonwoods, and many other types of vegetation, to plummet. When wolves were reintroduced, the trees came back. Along with all other animals that had been gone because the wolves had all been killed or chased off. The elk population dropped by 50%, contributing to the trees regrowth. Coyotes became scarcer. Because wolves do not cover their kills, Ravens and other scavengers returned to the park. The pronghorns returned because the number of Coyotes, which were their main predator, was lessened. Bears returned because, the wolves carrion made an easy meal for the bears. the return of the wolves to Yellowstone resulted in the park becoming full of life. all because the wolves returned after sixty-one years of being gone.

 Wolves do not kill a lot of livestock. In fact, only one percent of missing/dead livestock was wolf caused. Coyotes were over twenty-five percent of the cause. Domestic dogs were one point one  percent. Man's best friend, killed more of our livestock that wolves did. Five point eight were killed by old age. Even that has more blame than wolves. (These statistics were gathered in 2008, for sheep) In 2005, 0.11% of livestock death was caused by wolves. This year Wolves killed less than one percent of livestock (cattle). Wolves are responsible for coyote numbers dropping, which is good for the ranchers as coyotes are the leading cause of livestock deaths (sheep). These are just some reasons wolves are important to our ecosystems.

 When the Yellowstone wolves were being reintroduced, the zoologists and wolf biologists were getting assassination threats. For the wolves. The wolves had to be kept locked in kennels for much longer than they should have been, and they were always under guard, because they were afraid to transport them to Yellowstone. The assassination threats, as silly as they may seem, were a very real possibility. All because of stereotypes caused by uneducated fairy tales. Eventually the wolves were transported to the Park, were they were kept in a secluded enclosure. Once the assassination threats stopped the wolves were released into the rest of the park. People are still giving threats to the wolves.

 In Idaho wolves are making a comeback. Much to the disdain of hunters and ranchers. But the wolves are here to help. They will help the hunters; they will kill the sickly, weak elk giving them a better trophy. They will help the ranchers, there livestock will be safer because the wolves will take the coyotes down, which cause more livestock death than anything else. But still they don't listen, they see wolves as the big bad wolf, not the beautiful and graceful predator they truly are. We were given this world to take care of it and its inhabitants.  That includes the wolves, and every other animal we see as evil. Their lives are just as important as our own. If one can change the world, think what everyone else can do.

 (Information found from Bing, Google, National Geographic March 2010 issue: Wolf Wars, IMAX movie: Wolves, National wildlife federation documentation: Survival of the Yellow Stone Wolves)

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