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Aug. 21 editorial: Remove wolves from Endangered Species Act list

Earth First! and other environmental groups fail to understand the science


It just goes to show you that some people will do anything to force their agendas and their beliefs on others, regardless of the costs.

Word came last week that Earth First!, the often radical environmental group, has created a 12-page online manual that details how to disrupt wolf traps and sabotage wolf hunts.

The move came about because Earth First! and other so-called environmental groups are upset with proposals by the federal government to remove wolf protections under the Endangered Species Act. That move is based on research that shows there are roughly 6,000 wolves living in the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes region, enough to prevent extinction of the species given the rate they are growing in numbers.

And as anyone who has ever talked to ranchers in eastern Oregon, Washington or northern Idaho can tell you, the federal counts for wolves are based on state numbers that are very conservative; it’s likely there are many more wolves plying the forests and back country of the west than the feds are accounting for.

Be we digress. The issue comes down to whether state and federal agencies will be allowed to manage wolves like any other predator. And that’s what they are, predators, just the same as bears, bobcats, cougars and the like. And as predators they must be managed by hunting and trapping, otherwise there becomes an imbalance in the ecosystem because the game animals they typically hunt — deer, elk and moose — suffer depredation and their numbers plummet.

In short, if you eliminate the wolves from the equation, a policy embraced by this country a century ago, then that results in elk herds so large they cannot be sustained by the land. On the other hand, if you allow wolf packs to grow unabated, they will decimate elk and deer herds. The ecosystem, much more fragile than many people on both side of the debate give credit for, suffers either way.

Grayson Flory, spokesman for Earth First!, was quoted in a recent AP story saying the group doesn’t condone “the harming of living things.” Well, that’s all well and good, but it’s not living in the real world and shows an ignorance of nature’s ways: wolves, cougars and bears will “harm” elk and deer regardless of whether Earth First! or any other group likes it or not.

Allowing hunters and trappers to restore the balance between predator and prey is simply good science, but it must be held in check to maintain that balance. We do not advocate for the extermination of wolves and are chagrined that this country ever adopted such a failed policy. We believe that wolves have a place in the wild alongside the other species that make up the ecosystems of the West. But the science behind maintaining those ecosystems is best left to the experts, state and federal wildlife biologists, not overly sentimental environmental groups.



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