Contributing Monkie Jennifer Buonantony
Published on March 7, 2008
Here’s a stupid idea somebody had: let’s spend time and money to restore the population of a precious and nearly extinct species and then remove it from the endangered list so we can hunt it.
Not sure why I wasn’t invited to that meeting…
Gray wolves were almost lost in the 1970s due to over-hunting. Man’s fear of the animal brought about an eradication campaign from the ranching industry and, believe it or not, government agencies. Wolves were hunted for reward to protect livestock, and for their meat and valuable fur. It wasn’t until their near extinction in 1973 that they were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Research and education regarding wolf behavior and biology followed, revealing that – surprise, surprise — wolves play a critical role in maintaining their ecosystems.
Kill first, learn second. Wonder who thought of that plan?
Gray wolves are amazing. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they’re second only to humans in their ability to adapt to climate extremes. Found across North America from Alaska to Mexico, these wolves can thrive in a wide range of habitats including forests, mountains, tundra, taiga and grasslands. The gray wolf is one of the largest and most common in the wolf species and usually travels in packs over territories ranging from 50-1,000 miles wide.
And contrary to popular belief, wolf attacks on humans are almost as rare as human-to-wolf transformations. In fact, wolves are historically shy animals who often flee when coming into contact with people. Native American culture revered the wolf throughout folklore and mythology. But as North America was settled, animals like elk, bison, moose and deer — typical prey for wolves — were depleted, forcing wolves to attack sheep and cattle instead. Naturally, this didn’t please the ranchers, who began killing them.
But thankfully, the post-‘70s reintroduction of the gray wolf has been successful in places like Yellowstone National Park, the Rocky Mountain Regions and states such as Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Minnesota, where populations have reached in the thousands.
However, with success often comes idiocy. The restoration of wolf populations has been so successful overall that there’s currently a proposal to “de-list” the gray wolf from the Endangered Species club so man can once again hunt them. And then, when the population falls below 300, the protection will be restored.
Like I said, stupid. To learn more about gray wolves, including what you can do to help protect them, click here.