|Grey Wolf by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources|
Federal Judge order that the grey wolf get listed as an endangered species. This allow to protect the animals from trappers, license hunting, hunting with dogs, and other forms of killing. This decision will cover The following Midwest States: Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
At least in Wisconsin the last harvest wolf hunting exceeded the quota per region and total (by 1.)
For scientists concerned with wolf management this is a relief. The science was not at the same pace with the decision of providing licenses for hunting. The decision to provide licenses was implemented rapidly, and was politically more that scientifically driven. As a result, in some areas female pack leaders were killed. The hunters also tend to target what they consider trophy specimens of the species rather than what DNR will call problem animals. Harvest of animals by the public (licensed or not) without consideration of the pack health maybe detrimental for the populations of wolves in this area. If there is any control, it perhaps should be done by rangers familiar with the packs. DNR argues that they won't be able to control animals that attack domestic animals such as dogs or cattle. This may be a problem with the regulations, and in any case they should negotiate for exceptions but not for open hunting the way it was this year.
The decision by the federal court also revert a previous controversial decision to allow trained dogs to hunt wolves. The owners of those dogs can't no longer train these animals for the purpose of hunting wolves. DNR pays a fee if a dog is killed by a wolf. I suppose that is valid even for trained dogs driven to track wolves out of season. The hunters can take a wolf for the price of their license. Hunters were also allowed to use traps, which are really damaging to the animals that fall in them. How is it possible that us who understand pain in humans (e.g., broken limbs), may decide to purposely impose such damages and the torture that this may imply to another mammal who may feel as much pain--similar nervous system. This decision is probably be fight by the pro-hunting interest. In the mean time scientist and managers may come to the table and find better ways to understand and manage wolf populations. This time many also serve for both hunters and wolves lovers to come together and recognize that this animal belong to the wild. The ecosystem needs large predators such as wolves. Aldo Leopold who for years was involved in the hunting decisions later in his life recognized the big gap represented by the absence of this powerful species on the land. The land does not belong only to humans and we need to learn to share it. Although living with predators may scare us, the damage by large animals is very low compared with more familiar things such as cars.
If you visit the Facebook Wolf Hunting Community- There a is a picture with many lifeless animal being throw down like rocks from a pick up. All along the web one may found pictures of the trophy animals the hunters harvested. There is pride on killing other species, just because they can and are allowed by law. This is not management, this is trophy hunting. It is what an open hunting season allows. It is a policy that needs consideration and reviewing. Now, there is an opening for that.
Real population management needs to be done by conscious and knowledgeable trained people. People who know not only to pull the trigger, but also what does it mean for a particular pack the removal of the specific individual. Management also involves to relocate or take away an animal that is dangerous or aggressive, or to close to people. Most people would agree with that measure. Management may also mean managing for contagious diseases by which the removal of one or many individuals may save the others. Although hunters and managers could come out with many ways to rationalize their need to kill an animal, the fact is that in other areas, management is done different. Ranchers at Yellowstone have shown that it is possible to do grow cattle and coexist with the wolves. In fact some of the means appear to be very inexpensive, such as investing in plastic fences-- made of moving plastic flags. Why is this not extensively applied?
Can we rethink our ways?