Friday, May 30, 2008

Wolves in the News

428 Wolves, a New York Times article came across my "radar" this afternoon. As we have travelled across the United States, we generally find that we did not know very much about the local and regional news. As I follow the Yellowstone Newspaper links I generally see articles from local papers around Yellowstone and Grand Teton. But right now it really pleases me when I see either the wolf issues or the bison issues make the larger papers such as the New York Times. Yellowstone wolves and Yellowstone bison are national treasures. But for the average person, they are not only out of sight out of mind, many have never gotten to experience the thrill of seeing these amazing creatures in the wild. Bison have always been easy to find in Yellowstone and even with the greatly reduced numbers this year, I suspect most park visitors will get to see either one or a herd. But the Yellowstone wolves require more effort and some knowledge about where to go in the park, when to be there, and how to look for them. Yes, some people will be lucky enough to get a chance look when a wolf crosses the road, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

While I can understand the ranching interests (more so about wolves than the bison), I also believe that it is important to keep the greater Yellowstone ecosystem healthy.

We visited Yellowstone while they were in the planning stages for the wolf reintroduction. I remember how few wolves were in the lower 48 states. Only Minnesota and Michigan had wolf populations. From the reintroduction, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming (and perhaps Colorado) now have wolf populations. However, if the hunts progress as planned, the genetic diversity will be reduce, the wolves will only exist within the Yellowstone Park Boundaries.

I would love to see the protection for the bison and the wolves to be extended to include the federal lands that surround Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. And perhaps, we need to be sure that the ranchers whose livestock on private lands that have been killed by wolves are reimbursed. I'll be radical here . . . if ranchers want to lease public land around Yellowstone for cattle, then they need to accept wolf predation as a normal cost of doing business. I don't know the current status, but it used to be that the leases for federal lands were significantly less than leases on private land.

Yellowstone is a unique treasure. It draws tourists from all over the world. The local economy benefits from these visitors. This area was set aside to be preserved for future generations to marvel, to appreciate, to enjoy, and to learn about nature.

I hope more large newspapers pick up these stories, so that people all over the United States can be more aware of the issues involving our national parks.

No comments: