Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rare species working way back into news

David Horst - Appleton Post-Crescent

Nature seems to be coming back with a vengeance. The news of the past week has been loaded with stories of endangered species making a recovery. Some that were once in trouble are now causing trouble. Let's check the clippings.

An improved state: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service heard a unified call to ratchet back the protection of gray wolves in Wausau last Wednesday. The proposed delisting from a federal endangered species in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan would simply mean that the states could trap or shoot a problem wolf.

We have a couple dozen either side of 500 wolves in Wisconsin, according to DNR estimates. There may have been 10 times that many when settlement began. Thanks to fear, bounties and a basic misunderstanding of how predators keep prey populations healthy, they were eliminated from the state until a few slipped across the Minnesota border in the mid-1970s.

I had the eerie pleasure of hearing an entire wolf pack howl in central Wisconsin and am forever incapable of arguing they don't belong here. But I have also doted over newborn livestock and know what it would be like to lose one to a wolf, so I would argue we must control conflicts with farms as best we can.

Adrian Wydeven has devoted most of his career with the DNR to the study of wolves and he says it's time to control the population. His word is good enough for me. But we just have to let science guide the level of control, not the ravings of the kind of hunter who expects to be guaranteed a deer every fall.

  • Appleton Post-Crescent