Wolves And American Ranchers

Conservation is an elemental essential. However, extremism in anything is not good.

A few years ago conservationists said the buffalo and elk herds in Yellowstone were over populated and wolves needed to be reintroduced to enable a balance of nature. In 1994 there were no wolves in the Yellowstone area.

I just returned from Montana where I had the good fortune of visiting with ranches. The experiment has gone on long enough for there to be an observable result. Wolves, the apex-killers, have changed the ecosystem in Yellowstone and the region.

Wildlife biologists and ecologists in Yellowstone are still rather pleased with the result of the reintroduction of wolves. The elk herd has been driven to greater elevations and reduced from around 19,000 to 11,000. Vegetation eaten by elk along low lying steams has rebounded and proliferates. Other carnivores benefit from food left from wolf kills.

It is ranchers and businesses in the area who have suffered the greatest losses.

The elk herd in Yellowstone has been so depleted that it has impacted hunting in the designated areas. Normally 2,000 to 3,000 permits are granted. None will be awarded this year because the wolves have decidedly depleted the herd. That means millions of dollars are lost due to hunters not coming into the area. Great revenue is lost because of there being no permits sold. These lost funds normally go to wildlife conservation.

Some persons disparage the iconic image of blood-lusting wolves. Ranchers don’t.

Wolves have impacted cattle herds. In certain regions there is only a 5 percent survival rate of calves. That represents thousands of dollars lost to the ranchers.

Grown cattle lose between sixty and eighty pounds of weight because of being harassed by wolves. At $1.05 per pound in a herd of 500 cattle that is a loss of $84.00 per head for a total loss of $42,000 per herd.

In one area 123 sheep have been killed by wolves.

We watched a herd of elk being harassed and eventually stampeded by a pack of wolves. A ranger pointed out five dead elk in a field killed by wolves. They don’t just kill for food. They kill for fun. The pack attack we saw was in a vast snow field on the slope of a mountain and was carried out for fun.

Various packs prefer certain animals. Over by Ted Turner’s Circle D ranch the preferred elk herd has been so impacted they are now working on the buffalo.

The Circle D has about 4,000 buffalo  Aldo Leopold wrote of a fierce green fire in a wolf’s eyes. The fire blazes when wild predators and domestic prey encounter each other.

Conservation is not only commendable it is crucial. However, forethought and unbiased planning is needed. The Green Movement has a lot to offer if they can just control their extremists who tend to act on emotion and impulse rather than un-skewed facts and fundamental logic.

In all decision making reason and logic should take precedent over emotion and sentiment.THIMK! Yeah, I know.