When a trophy hunter or rancher kills a wolf, it can have a cascading, splintering effect, leading to the deaths of other members of the pack, particularly yearling wolves and pups. Featured image: Photo by Alamy
Approximately 59 percent of the world’s biggest mammalian carnivore species—from wolves to tigers to lions— and 60 percent of the largest herbivores, are now listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species as threatened with extinction, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. That information is at the core of a new report from dozens of scientists from six continents, published in the journal Bioscience, that details how large mammals throughout the world are facing an existential crisis. The report warns that “business as usual” will allow the declines to continue and eventually lead to the extinction of some of the world’s most iconic species.
As I’ve written in The Humane Economy, by liquidating these species for short-term gains – whether trophy hunting, bush meat, the pet trade, or animal parts for medicinal or commercial uses, along with habitat destructions and fragmentation – we are robbing present and future generations of aesthetic, emotional, and economic opportunities. The animals should be protected for their own sake, but we’d be foolish not to recognize the benefits they bring to people throughout the world, especially to communities that live among or are adjacent to these species. These animals, who often have made a last stand in national parks and other protected areas, are the draw that bring millions of people to these public lands, and jobs and revenue to rural and gateway communities.
We see that circumstance in the United States. When state officials in Alaska relentlessly kill off wolves and grizzlies, by aerial-hunting the species, they are diminishing the economic potential of their national preserves and national wildlife refuges, which can draw immense numbers of visitors who want to see the animals in the wild. The same is true when Montana and Wyoming kill wolves around Yellowstone and threaten the viability of packs. We’ve engaged in litigation for years to protect wolves in this ecosystem. When a trophy hunter or rancher kills a wolf, it can have a cascading, splintering effect, leading to the deaths of other members, particularly yearling wolves and pups.
It’s ironic that there are more than 300 million Americans and only 5,000 wolves in America, and some people say that’s too many wolves. If a single town had 5,000 people, settled within a few square miles, we’d call it a small town. But if it has 5,000 wolves scattered around tens of millions of acres of federal and state lands, some people say it’s too many. We’ve gone dangerously astray and lost perspective on the issue. [click here to read full article from Wayne Pacelle’s Blog]