Source: Duluth News Tribune
I am encouraged by reports that wolves in Wisconsin are finally starting to make a recovery after nearly being wiped out in the Great Lakes region (“Wis. wolf population hits record,” June 17).
What’s not so encouraging, though, is that some officials are hellbent on using this cause for celebration to call to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves and return wolves to state control so they can once again be hunted or trapped for trophies (“Walker wants wolf hunting to resume,” June 21). Wisconsin even permits wolves to be hunted with packs of hounds, unlike any other state.
Removing federal protections is premature. Wolves are not yet recovered to a majority of their historic range. On top of that, they face habitat destruction, disease, poaching and hostile state wildlife managers.
Endangered Species Act decisions must be dictated by science, not politics. A recent, steady stream of peer-reviewed research shows that trophy hunting and lethal control of wolves can exacerbate livestock conflicts. That’s because when wolf packs are disrupted wolves turn to easy prey. Government culling programs may even increase poaching, according to other studies. Science also shows that wolves do not threaten white-tailed deer populations; but rather wolves prey on the weak and sick, including animals infected with chronic wasting disease.
Wolf conservation yields enormous benefits to ecosystem health and increases biological diversity. It would be a grave mistake to heed this call to remove Endangered Species Act protections from wolves simply based on the species reaching a certain number, with no other considerations. Are we actually asking for history to repeat itself?
The writer is the Wisconsin state director for The Humane Society of the United States.
Featured image is of Melissa Twedrowe