How many wolves are too many?

In 1922 the federal government passed a law that allowed wolves in Yellowstone National Park to be hunted. In just four years later the last wolf was hunted. In 1995, the gray wolf was reintroduced to the park. The government started off by introducing 31 wolves in the Montana and Wyoming parts of the park. Now 116 wolves now live and more then 75 pups.

The controversy surrounding the reintroduction of the wolves are many from both sides. Some local farmers are against it because some wolves hunt their animals. However, if the farmers can prove their animal was attacked by a wolf, then the government would reimburse them for the animals value. Another problem is that some taxpayers are against the reintroduction because it cost them money to get the wolves back into the park. Another issue for taxpayers is that they have to pay for the damage the wolves do to the farmer’s animals.

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The pro for the reintroduction is the ecosystem is healthier. With the reintroduction, the wolf hunts sick deer and elk. The weak are sorted out and the strong survive. The same goes for the wolves. The wolves that are injured or have diseased cannot survive. When they die scavengers get to eat their meat, which contributes to the ecosystem.
Another pro is more people come to Yellowstone National Park to see the wolves since they were extinct for more then 30 years. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, an average of 15,000 people see a wolf in Yellowstone a year. Douglas Smith, who is doing research about the wolves, recording a wolf sighting for 135 straight days from the park roads.
In other parks, the federal recovery program is going well. At Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, wolf’s population reached 29, which is the maximum number to survive in the ecosystem. Those 29 wolves can easily live sustainable off the 210 square miles of land. The state of Minnesota has more then 2,500 wolves living and roaming the lands.

There are many controversies surrounding the wolf protection policy. From the view of the farmers who loss there live stock, I understand why they would not want the wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park or any place else. The problem I have with it is how does the government find market value for a cow? Is it a flat rate? Many questions surround the value of a cow or any other livestock.
Both con issues are related to each other. Money is taken out of the taxpayer’s earnings and is given to the farmers if they can prove a wolf attacked their animal. The argument against this is that the money is coming out of the parks budget. However, if it comes out of the budget, that same money could have been used to clean up the park, put picnic areas in, and build campsites.
One pro issue is that it makes the ecosystem healthier. This is very true. If the wolves were not in the ecosystem disease would run rapid throughout. Without the wolves elk and deer get lazy which also leads to a bad ecosystem because they are not doing their part to contribute. Now that the wolves are there, the deer and elk are not in one part of the park eating all the food in that area. They move around and graze the other parts of the part. They are now up and running around. While the weak and lazy are now gone.
The other pro is all the visitors come into the parks to look for the wolves. With the more people coming in the more the park is used for what it is there for. People are hiking more, picnicking more and walking throughout the land more to see the animal that has been extinct for more then 30 years. Parents can bring their kids to the parks for free instead of paying for pricey tickets to theme parks or movie theaters.
Both sides are very understanding of there views and I can agree with both. However, I am for the reintroduction of wolves to certain parts of the lands in North America. The pros in my eyes heavily out weigh the cons to both the citizens and the park goers. I believe they should introduce some wolves to upstate New York as well. There the ecosystems can thrive just like the ecosystem has in Yellow Stone National Park.

Defenders of Wildlife, PO Box 96981 Washington D.C. 20077-7225
National Audubon Society, 700 Broadway New York, New York 10003 219-979-3000
National Parks Conservation Association


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