Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Will the Wolf Survive?

Planned Wolf Hunting Stirs Passions in Midwest:

Hunters in the Upper Midwest are gearing up for the region's first-ever wolf-hunting season this fall, the latest sign of the comeback of an apex predator on the verge of being wiped out in the U.S. when it was placed under federal protection nearly four decades ago.

But animal-rights groups that have blocked such moves in the past could still sue to try to scuttle the plans. Critics also raise concerns about the potential cruelty of the hunt in Wisconsin, which is to allow hunting at night and the use of dogs.

For some, particularly farmers concerned about attacks on cattle and hunters who say wolves have reduced the number of deer, the hunt is long overdue.

Wolf hunts here in the Midwest? But aren’t wolves like you know, endangered or something?

The gray wolf, a pack hunter weighing up to 130 pounds that rarely attacks humans, was exterminated in most of the contiguous 48 states by the 1950s, but a few survived in heavily forested northern Minnesota. After wolves were placed under federal protection in 1974, the population slowly increased and spread into Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The recovery of the wolf population in the lower forty-eight is one of the great conservation success stories. In fact, it’s actually been too successful:

There are about 3,000 wolves in Minnesota, 800 in Wisconsin and 700 in Michigan—far above the federal goals for sustainable populations of 1,400 in Minnesota and 100 in Wisconsin and Michigan combined.

So we actually have around three times the number of wolves in these parts than the government thinks we should? It shows how difficult it is for anyone to predict with any accuracy how things will play out in the natural world. It also shows that for all the doom and gloom we hear from environmentalists, trends don’t only go in on direction and depleted natural resources can be recovered.