Wolf management is the headline, but actually, the article is more about coyotes. Retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) wildlife biologist, special agent and refuge manager Jim Beers says about the Washington Post article: “To conflate the [lawful and beneficial] extirpation of wolves in the 1800s and the eastward expansion and western control of coyotes in the mid to late 1900s is both unjustified and an urban wildlife fantasy designed to feed the imaginings of current animal rights and environmental extremism.”
The author is right. Prior to wolf eradication, coyotes were almost entirely found west of the Mississippi, and today they are found nationwide, including in some large cities. And now wolves are coming back. No one is sure how many wolves were here originally, but they were common and found coast to coast before the government launched an eradication campaign resulting in small populations in the upper Midwest and the northern Rockies, and even smaller populations of red wolves in the Southeast and Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona.
A coyote-wolf hybrid slinks along in West Virginia, near the Virginia state line. (Image by www.ForestWander.com.)
In 1995, 29 gray wolves from Alberta, Canada, were transplanted to Yellowstone National Park. The following year, 37 more Canadian wolves were brought into the central Idaho wilderness. The deal was that when there were at least 300 wolves and three consecutive years of at least 30 breeding pairs across the recovery areas, the states would take over management of wolves from the federal government. That has not been the case.
The new Canadian subspecies of gray wolves is larger, some growing to almost 150 pounds.
While gray wolves all but disappeared from the Lower 48 for a while, there has never been a shortage of wolves in North America. There are more than 60,000 wolves in Canada and 10,000 in Alaska, even though Alaska harvests more than 1,000 wolves a year.
This wolf-dog hybrid from Wildlife Park Kadzidlowo in Poland is from a female wolf by a male Polish Spaniel. (Image by A. Krzywinski.)
This second example of a wolf-dog hybrid from Wildlife Park Kadzidlowo in Poland is from a female wolf by a West Siberian Laika. (Image by A. Krzywinski.)
Today most buffalo are on private lands and wolves have seriously reduced native deer, elk and moose populations. So wolves are spreading into new areas, turning their attention to livestock, and they’ve lost a lot of their fear of humans. In 2010 alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that wolves killed 8,000 cattle in the Lower 48.
Wyoming Game and Fish reported that a pack of wolves killed 19 elk, and there was little actual eating of flesh. Surplus killing is when predators kill more than they need and either cache or abandon the remainder. (Image by Wyoming Game and Fish.)
In reviewing U.S. wolf management, Lyon says, “The issue of how wolves could be controlled is not science at all, it’s pure unadulterated politics.” He adds, “The Federal government and the states have spent over $200,000,000 on wolf introduction in the West and another $26,000,000 in New Mexico and Arizona to reintroduce Mexican Wolves.”
"The Real Wolf" co-author Will Graves, former Chief of the Livestock Inspecting and Vaccinating Brigade of the USDA’s Bureau of Animal Industry, first became aware of coyotes and wolves when the wild canines were discovered to be carriers of foot and mouth disease.
In regard to the Washington Post article, Dr. Geist says: “The author of the piece in question is not very able to distinguish between scholarship and advocacy. I bear this writer no ill will, but what he has written is in my eyes fake news.”
About the Author: James A. Swan, Ph.D. is co-executive producer of the “Wild Justice” series on the National Geographic Channel and chief executive officer of Snow Goose Productions, LLC. His 2008 documentary “Endangered Species: CA Fish and Game Wardens,” is the inspiration for the “Wild Justice” series. A recent project is as a co-writer for “Falconer: The Sport of Kings,” winner of Best Film and Script at Skyfest Festival. His book, “War in the Woods,” co-written with Lt. John Nores, (Lyons 2010), has been optioned for a scripted dramatic TV show, “Lone Pine,” that’s currently in development. He’s the author of 10 nonfiction books on human aspects of environmental conservation, including three about the psychological aspects of hunting, that have sold over 250,000 copies and over 800 articles and his columns have appeared in a wide variety of publications including NRAHLF.org and American Hunter. James also has appeared as an actor in 20 feature films, three dramatic TV series and 30 industrials, commercials and print ads. To learn more about James visit his website.
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