I have written about issues that have arisen from the delisting of wolves in America. Given their absence from a large portion of the USA, the suggestion that they have recovered is insane. Unfortunately, putting states in charge takes the decisions of what a sensible ‘harvest’ is, away from scientists and puts it in the hands of local governors.
Wisconsin has already killed 1/3 of the wolf population based in the state. The fact is, that Wisconsin stated that their aim was to have a stable wolf population, something clearly not successful.
The great so called wilderness of Yellowstone covers roughly 3000 miles. It is clearly not the best wolf habitat, as only about 94 wolves inhabit this wilderness. This seems very low – in good habitat, wolves should live at densities of around one animal to every 5 square miles – meaning in theory a population of roughly 600. So, why 25 years after their reintroduction have wolves not done better?
Well, it is simple. Wolves are incredible travellers, when youngsters leave their birth pack, they can travel tens or in recorded cases, hundreds or even thousands of miles before settling down.
This means that in order for the wolf to recover within the park, they must not be eliminated outside the park. Yet, over the last couple of months 20 Yellowstone wolves have been shot – for the horrific crime of leaving the protection of the park. a 20% take on a population so small is clearly unsustainable.
The park superintendent Cam Sholly is very aware of the stupid situation and has urged the Montana governor to shut down hunting and trapping for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, Greg Gianforte is a keen hunter – last year he trapped and killed a Yellowstone wolf violating state hunting regulations. Quite understandably, therefore, he has not be receptive to the request.
In an official statement last week he said “Once a wolf exits the park and enters lands in the state of Montana it may be harvested pursuant to regulations established by the [state wildlife] commission under Montana law”, This statement is clear that the governor has no intention of having any stable wolf population, and therefore the decision on wolf management should be taken away from him.
The recovery of wolves in the USA will do far more good than harm to the USA population. In the same way as the UK lost its wolves, the USA exterminated them. Given that they still exist in north America, this mistake can naturally correct but only if Trumps delisting is reversed. Clearly, allowing each state to set its own rules is a devastatingly foolish move. My hope is that as with many other foolish moves by Donald Trump, President Biden will reverse it.