I saw last night the second programme about wolf packs in the wilds of the USA, and very well made it was too. It tried its best to give both sides of what appears to be a very sensitive issue with some people having very strong feelings on both sides of the fence. Aren't you lucky! Now it's time for my two pennies worth.
I agree with protecting wolves as I am a huge lover of all wild life. My hesitation is this, we humans drove them to near extinction, over, I guess a period of nearly one hundred and fifty years. We did the same to Buffalo and numerous (too numerous to mention in this blog) other species. The problem as I see it is, that the wolves hunting range although huge, have we humans dabbled too extensively and are now left with a problem we cannot solve? Nature has its own way of balancing out numbers of predator and prey. Because we humans have severely upset this balance, although currently wolves stay out of our way, we have a huge imbalance in favour of the prey species. So in the short term all that would happen is that wolf numbers would increase immensely as there is certainly no shortage of food. The packs would have larger litters and only would their numbers stabilise once the prey species began to thin out. Okay, that may take a hundred years, or more (so not our problem!?). It could of course take more or less dependant on many variables. So once the balance between prey and predator which will see-saw in balance for many decades. What then?
With human encroachment bringing wolves to our door (or more accurately the other way around), of course a wolf will take easy prey. Yes, cattle to begin with. My guess is that once too many cattle start being taken by wolves we humans will yet again hunt this beautiful creature to the brink. The alternative would give the States a situation similar to that of many cities in the UK with foxes. Like wolves they are not keen on coming into contact with us humans especially in the wide expanses of the countryside. However, look at what has happened, we now I imagine have larger quantities of foxes in urban areas than we do in the countryside and the fox is becoming increasingly bold in its contact with humans. Okay, the fox is not a pack animal, but when it comes to survival, the easiest pickings will be taken. Of course this may change the habits of a wolf pack and I do not foresee that happening any time soon. Certainly not in my lifetime, but as with most things related to the way we humans have left our mark on this planet, we must STOP and look back at history to give us the results of our actions today!
I can hear the holler now, 'NO, that would NEVER happen in the States, it is way too large'. Well it already has! No, not with wolves, but with polar bears and so we can see the impact that we humans are having on the movements and numbers of these top predators. In parts of Canada and the USA where, due to global warming where the pack ice is either not forming as it used to, or is retreating faster than it should in the spring time. Polar bears are increasingly moving into the small towns and settlements as the pickings are far easier to find, and they are prevented from getting to their traditional hunting grounds. They currently have very strong and powerful legislation in place to protect the Polar Bears. Permits are difficult to come by even for the indigenous peoples who survive by hunting these fine beasts. How many years will go by before that changes and then open season on the bears once again?
So in short I think the problems we have created will ultimately stay with us as conflict between human and wolf will be inevitable, and there will be only one loser and it will not be human!