The map at right indicates projected “mega-linkages”, or proposed wildlife corridors for large keystone predator and prey species in North America. These maps were developed by The Wildlands Project, tireless advocates for “rewilding” the continent of North America by returning to conditions that existed 500 years ago.
The proponents of rewilding have compiled much more detailed maps regarding specific regions, but many of those maps have not been released to the public due to their controversial nature. The map shown below is only a small portion of the original large scale map published by the Wildlands Project revealing areas of the United States where rewilding projects are prioritized and actively focused. This particular map drew so much negative attention that it was removed from the official Wildlands Project webpage.
But it would be extremely naive and dangerously short-sighted to think The Wildlands Project is comprised of a few left wing kooks with a pipe dream. The basis for rewilding stems from the United Nations 1992 Rio Conference, The Earth Charter, the International Treaty (Convention) on Biodiversity, and the now infamous “Agenda 21”, which is the guiding force behind every United Nations initiative on the environment and politics. Indeed, Agenda 21 has been in the driver’s seat of U.S. policy for twenty years.
All environmental organizations in the United States are actively engaged in promoting some aspect of the “rewilding” agenda. Environmental and conservation groups are funded by a number of sources, including public donations and government grants. Many of the wealthiest donors are well known to the public. Others are much less well known but are equally influential. Their names really don’t matter. What they are trying to do to the rest of us, does matter.
We can expect wolves to be with us in Washington State for the foreseeable future. Not only do we have wolves migrating in from Canada, Montana, and Idaho, but we now have at least a dozen wolf packs and multiple breeding pairs in the State. We need to be well armed with the facts before we can design strategies for countering the anti-human green agenda. The map at left shows “The Spine of the Continent Initiative” and provides a little more detail about the planned big game wildlife corridors (“areas of connectivity”) deemed essential by conservation groups.
In my three previous posts I have laid out information about wolves and the philosophy behind wolf recolonization with plenty of supporting documentation. Wolves occupy whatever territory is available and will consume any prey species that exists. Wolves have never been endangered. Our current Washington State wolf plan, like all the other state wolf plans in the Rocky Mountain Region, endows wolves with special privileges, protections, and advantages they do not require in order to succeed as a species.
Human beings should not accept the premise that we have to allow wolves to live around and near us. We do not have to “coexist” with wolves. By doing so we are capitulating to the misinformation being spread by the radical environmental lobby. We should challenge the entire notion that wolf re-colonization across all of their former “historic” habitat (which includes all of the contiguous United States) is beneficial or necessary in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
The terminology must be changed. Man and wolves “compete”, they do not “coexist”. Human beings and other species, such as grizzly bears, moose, and elk, are being asked to tolerate unnecessary competition for available food sources and habitat. We have to understand REWILDING terminology and get the “science” back on our side where it belongs.
The scientifically proven wildly fluctuating NATURAL wolf/prey cycle is already well documented in the literature and must be more widely publicized. When the prey base is high, wolf numbers spike upwards very quickly. When their preferred prey base becomes scarce, wolves begin seeking alternate prey species and will attempt to expand their ranges. Wolves will eat virtually any other animal depending on availability, including beaver, fish, livestock, other wolves, and yes, humans.
Precipitous declines in prey species are inevitable in the natural world, especially when wolves are involved. Wolves, left uncontrolled in their natural state, reproduce exponentially until they exhaust a particular prey base. When all available prey is exhausted, and if other factors, such as competition from other packs limits or negates the ability of wolves to expand their range, disease and starvation kicks in and drastically lowers the local wolf population which, in turn, allows decimated ungulate populations limited time and space to recover. Voracious and diseased wolves are where all those old “myths” and “fairy tales” come from. A rabid wolf is recognized as one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet!
So-called “Wolf Management” entails trying to maintain an arbitrary “NON-NATURAL” steady state where extreme spikes and precipitous drop offs of both prey species and the wolf population are prevented or at least, mitigated. Wolf “management”, by its very definition, is patently UN-NATURAL and in practice, nearly impossible to achieve. REWILDING advocates understand this, and are already pushing the next step, which is the creation of expansive wildlife corridors (a.k.a. “areas of connectivity”) at the expense of private property owners, rural settlements, and agricultural activity.
This fight will be won or lost in the court of public opinion, starting at the local level. It is important for people who really care about their environment to do what the radical greens have been doing so well for decades, which is to ask specific questions, then provide the answers based on “the best available science”. Now, I’m not sure who made “science” king, but that’s the only way to be effective in this debate. I for one, am an advocate of protecting natural landscapes, but I am also an advocate for “wise use”, or “multiple use” of our protected lands. I am not a REWILDER, one who seeks to return North America to it’s pre-columbian settlement period.
FACT: Wolves will cost livestock producers X amount in projected losses due to depredation. It will cost livestock producers X amount to implement all the ineffective non-lethal controls required or suggested by State agencies and wildlife managers. These increased costs will have to be passed on to consumers and taxpayers in A TIME OF HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT, ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY, AND GLOBAL POLITICAL PERIL!
To insure a strong public advertising and lobbying effort in Olympia and D.C., livestock producers must line up their own slate of wolf experts, former and current wildlife managers, wolf biologists, and habitat specialists. We must build a strong network of hunters and outdoorsmen, local food production advocates, wildlife managers and range land experts. But the scientific facts don’t really matter unless we can wake up the average citizen with simple facts about how living with wolves affects them personally. Here in WA State, knowledgeable people are often out voted by the ignorant brainwashed masses.
We must never stop pointing out that not only do livestock producers create revenue and jobs for the state, they produce affordable high quality food for consumers. Hunters and fishermen support our state wildlife agencies which in turn, manage a wide diversity of wildlife species. By contrast, wolves are very expensive to “maintain”, they destroy jobs, eat wildlife that will not be available to hunters, and create an increased burden on the taxpayers.
There are plenty of game managers and “scientists” out there that have the credentials and knowledge to challenge the prevailing notions about how many wolves Washington State can support. These experts can provide answers that are much different than the info we’ve been getting from the green lobby and the REWILDING proponents.
Imagine a wildlife expert answering the following questions:
How many wolves can the available habitat in Washington State support? Answer: Depends on how much management can be effectively applied. Without intensive management, not very many wolves can be supported by the available habitat in Washington State. Unmanaged wolves will deplete the available food resources rather quickly.
What will be the effect of a rapidly expanding wolf population on the ungulate base? Answer: If left unchecked, we can expect to see very rapid and significant reductions.
“What about all the diseases wolves carry that could be transferable to man and domesticated dogs? Are cattle and sheep also vulnerable to things like hydatid disease?” Answer: Hydatid disease is just the tip of the iceberg. Besides the more well known diseases such as mange and giardia, wolves can carry and spread a host of other diseases that can be transmitted to animals or humans such as rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus, infectious canine hepatitis, papillomatosis, canine coronavirus, brucellosis, lyme disease, leptospirosis, tularemia, bovine tuberculosis, listeriosis, anthrax and foot and mouth disease. Wolves are known to carry as many as 50 species of ectoparasites and endoparasites. The fact that wolves may carry Neospora caninum, should be of particular concern to farmers, as the disease can be spread to livestock, with infected animals being 3–13 times more likely to miscarry than those not infected.
“What animals have taken over the roles wolves play in the environment in our state?” Answer: Many, including coyotes, bears, cougars, weasels, birds, and man.
“What are the benefits of having wolves in Washington?” Answer: little or none. Wolves do change the landscape by affecting many other species, including many non-prey species. To say these effects are “beneficial” is an arbitrary value judgment and a matter of opinion, not science.
“Are wolves essential to the environment here in Washington?“ Answer: No.
“What are the real costs for managing wolves in Washington State?” Answer: Calculating the real costs includes all sorts of factors. When all these factors are made available to the public, tolerance for living with wolves will decline.
“What effect will rapidly expanding wolf numbers have on other predator species, bears, coyotes, cougar, etc.?” Answer: Bears and cougars will become much more aggressive. Coyote numbers will decline in some areas, but remain the same in others, and may even increase in urban areas.
“Why haven’t Washington State hunters and other outdoor users been warned about such things as hydatid disease and the safe handling of not just wolf carcasses, but the carcasses of elk and deer that could be contaminated with the parasites reintroduced into the environment by wolves through their fur and feces?” Answer: Such information, if it were made available, would dampen enthusiasm for wolf recovery. We should take hydatid disease much more seriously and warn hunters and campers about the increased risk.
What happens to the state budget if hunting seasons for ungulates have to be curtailed due to wolf depredation? Answer: Revenue will decline which will necessitate cuts to other wildlife programs to make up for wolf management costs. Alternative funding sources will have to be developed in order to manage wolves.
How much is it costing other states to manage wolves and what can we learn from them? Answer: Costs for wolf management have exceeded projections in every case. Citizens are growing increasingly concerned and a major backlash to wolf recolonization is forming.
What does wolf “management” look like in the years ahead? How many wolves will have to be killed yearly to create a “steady state” and prevent precipitous declines in the ungulate population? Answer: Managers should target a 70 to 75% reduction in wolf populations annually. This figure is hard to accomplish, distasteful to wolf advocates, and very expensive.
So what’s the bottom line? Answer: Our best option now is to shoot for a wolf management plan patterned on Wyoming. We need to make known the scientific basis and common sense approach to managing wolves under three very different classifications:
First, if we really need to compromise, than wolves can be “totally protected” in our National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and designated Wilderness areas to placate armchair environmentalists. That way the Federal government (and all the taxpayers in America) will have to shoulder at least a portion of the high costs for managing wolves.
Second, wolves can also be classified as “big game” animals open to regulated hunting in select regions. This is Wyoming’s plan for wolf management, and it can work.
And third, we must NEVER compromise on classifying wolves as a “predator” species throughout most of their ranges, especially where they intersect human agriculture and development. If science is to be employed as the final determinant, than the proper designation for the species is “predator”.
The Endangered Species Act must not be interpreted as requiring non-endangered large carnivore species to proliferate to the limits of their “historic” ranges.
I foresee that in the not too distant future, WA State we’ll be looking at re-instituting a bounty system and/or poisoning program for wolves because all other wolf control measures will have proven ineffective, as they have all across the greater Rocky Mountain region.