Editorial: Wolves aren’t the problem

Studies suggest quite the opposite

Could it be that the B.C. government has not given the whole wolf cull its due diligence?

Perhaps not enough studying has been done on the subject of the wolf cull.

But no, that could never be. Our government never does anything rash, does it?

The idea of culling wolves was tried in the 1980s, to great public opposition. From 1982 to 1986, 798 wolves were killed, according to the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre.

Yet caribou populations didn’t rebound and here we are again, with the province once again suggesting that the best way to help those dwindling caribou herds is to cull the wolves.

But wait a minute. Why are we protecting the caribou?

Is it possible that the wolves are actually doing the ecosystem a favour, by controlling the caribou population?

Experiments done in other parts of North America suggest as much.

It’s called a trophic cascade, and one has to look no farther than Yellowstone National Park to see how it works.

When 31 Canadian wolves were relocated to that American national park, its transformation was spectacular.

The park began a revival of sorts; areas that had turned into virtual wastelands, after the deer and elk had eaten all the vegetation, started to grow again, as the wolves forced the deer and elk to change their grazing habits. There was a “reforestation” of sorts; trees “quintupled in size in just six years”, and, thanks to the trees, birds came back. Burrowing animals and rodents re-emerged, as their greatest threat to existence – the coyote – gave way for its superior cousin.

Even rivers changed course, because the rejuvenated forests stabilized the banks, causing less erosion. (There’s an argument in there somewhere about our own riverbank erosion on Vancouver Island, but that’s another topic, for another editorial.)

Sustainable Human has a four-minute video on YouTube about the transformation of Yellowstone, thanks to the re-introduction of the wolf. Watch it here bit.ly/1fpWu6C

By watching it, you may believe that wolves aren’t the problem, after all. Maybe, just maybe, wolves are the solution.

–with files from the Chilliwack Times


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