A while ago I posted about legislation being passed in Idaho to reduce the current wolf population down to 100 individuals (or 10 “packs” = “mating pairs”), each wolf costing $26.50 to hunt. Now the price has been lowered to $9.75, the same price it costs to hunt black bear and cougar. I really don’t know what to say. Wolves have clearly been documented as a keystone species and essential to their ecology, their take of livestock coming nowhere near the amount of sheep and cattle killed by coyotes and disease. Occasionally wolves do take livestock and to deny this would be foolish, but the number of animals lost to wolves is insignificant compared to other causes of death and there indeed ways to deter wolves (fladry, or using differently colored flags, is one). There’s more about this is a book I have at home entitled Of Predators and People which came out of a symposium dealing with these problems, and I will likely post more about this topic later.
20 wolves have also been reintroduced to Europe, now living along the Polish/German border. Of course, however, people aren’t too happy about this and storybook fears are being rekindled. There are some animals, lions for instance, where I could understand people’s concerns for their safety. Lions occasionally attack and consume people, and often times when young males get kicked out of their pride they prey on livestock in dry times when there is not enough food (this has been well documented in India and is discussed in David Quammen’s book Monster of God). Wolves, however, do not pose such a threat, and to the best of my knowledge there is not one documented case of wolves killing anybody. Hell, it’s hard enough getting close to and finding wolves in the first place, much less getting into a situation where they would attack someone. By the same token I’m not going to say that they’re just big puppies and people should not be aware of their surroundings when out alone in wild places, but the idea that wolf packs are going to start ravaging the hillside and killing every cash cow in sight is utterly ridiculous.