Until recently, in most states where wolf reintroduction has occurred, the three S’s were mandatory to deal with the issue: shoot, shovel, and shut up. Despite the gray wolf hitting target population goals in the early 2000s, the previous administration fought all attempts to allow hunting them.
Environmentalists are up in arms about the probability of removing protection from the once-endangered gray wolf. Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt stated that it is “indisputable” that gray wolves have achieved federal recovery goals. This does not phase the animal rights types at all. Their rhetoric mostly centers around historical (read as pre-colonial) ranges not being re-established. That is never going to happen. We have cities that occupy parts of that area. Second, the point of rebuilding a species is not to build it to a previous level. The purpose is to create a situation where the species can survive and maintain itself in the current circumstances.
The gray wolf population is doing that just fine. In some areas they are encroaching on civilization and need to be culled. In other areas, they are unbalancing the ecosystem, as there are no longer natural checks on their population. This is where proper management practices come in. One of those practices is hunting.
Varmint hunters love the challenge of matching wits with a wily predator. In my few attempts at coyote hunting, the coyotes have won. They have managed to avoid me enough that I could not get off an ethical shot. Considering that, I am not likely to spend the money, time, and energy to go to a different state to hunt wolves. That being said, if they lived in Tennessee, I would like the option.
Hunting is a great management practice because it acts as an aid on two very different fronts, only one of which the anti-hunting, anti-gun crowd sees and dislikes. I will tackle that one first. Hunting kills animals. If I sit in the stand or stalk the animal with my Remington 700 in .270 Win. or JP Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor, the goal is a dead wolf. When I get a good shot opportunity, the animal takes a round and dies within 5 to 30 seconds. This reduces the population, usually of animals in their prime or slightly past it. Few hunters want to use a tag on a juvenile.
The culling of such animals provides space in the ecosystem, reduces pressure to expand the range into civilization, reduces pressure on prey animals, and makes for a great hunt. What the anti-hunting crowd does not see or acknowledge is the conservation drive of hunters and the money they directly and indirectly put toward that preservation.
With legal hunting, the gray wolf will not head toward extinction again. This will be more because of hunters than federal regulation. The fees I spend on acquiring my hunting license and the wolf tag contribute to keeping wolves around. I will likely take a friend along, as I do in coyote hunting. These creatures are crafty hunters and can trick you as easily as you attempt to trick them. Having backup and a second set of eyes is smart. It also doubles the money we pay the outfitter, landowner, and guide. This provides them a very positive incentive to maintain wolf populations for future hunts. The money spent on gear, transportation, lodging, and sales tax while I am away from home all contribute to the welfare of this formerly endangered species.
Hunters of today are very cognizant of the need to properly manage the land and animals that inhabit it. Ducks Unlimited raises roughly $240 million per year, and approximately 75% of that is used for cleaning, improving, or purchasing land for wildlife protection. I focused on Ducks Unlimited, but there are many similar organizations like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ruffed Grouse Foundation, Pheasants Forever that contribute as well.
As Gavin Shire, spokesman from Fish and Wildlife Service said, “The Endangered Species Act is not a means to keep species from being hunted in perpetuity once they’ve met the threshold of recovery.”
Allow hunters and hunting to protect the species while helping to cull its more aggressive members and to protect people and prey species. Both of whom may be negatively impacted by unfettered growth of the wolf population.
Do you favor the reintroduction of wolves or do you believe the ecosystem was better off without them? Share your answer in the comment section.
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Source: Cheaper Than Dirt