On September !, the State of Idaho will officially sanction the killing of 255 wolves in that state, and on September 15, Montana will do the same thing(though I don't know the number of wolves they're going to try to shoot there). As some of you who read my blog may know, I'm "into" wolves. As some of you may also know, wolves were reintroduced to the Rocky Mountain West via Yellowstone Park, in 1995. They had been absent from that park since the 1930's. In the meantime, their smaller cousins, the coyotes(Canis latrans), took over some of the functions wolves had previously performed, such as dining on elk.
Unfortunately, elk are rather large, and coyotes are smaller than wolves, so the "coyote contribution" wasn't adequate to keep elk herds under control, and the ecology of Yellowstone and some surrounding areas changed, not always for the better. In 1995, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, and they thrived. They were also introduced to parts of Idaho. They thrived there, too. And the ecology of Yellowstone, at least, was partly restored.
The wolves thrived so well that they spread in Idaho, and moved out of Yellowstone into other parts of Wyoming. At this time, they were still on the Endangered Species List, and therefore protected from hunting. And they continued to thrive. They thrived so well, that, despite protests from various conservation groups, arguing, correctly, I think, that in most parts of the US outside Minnesota and Alaska, there were not enough wolves in the places where they have been reintroduced, to justify delisting, and therefore "unprotecting" them. The full details can be found at Ralph Maughan's Wildlife Report, where a far more detailed proposal of this "plan" can be found.
Many people in Montana and Idaho oppose this wolf hunting. For one thing, it would, if successful, wipe out nearly one-third of all the wolves that now live in these two states. That, it seems to me, is not what is required here. It is true a lot of farmers and ranchers approve of these proposed hunts, and they seem to be enthusiastic about wanting to join in. This is understandable in places where people invest their money in livestock, and predators are traditionally considered worrisome. However, wolves have to learn to dine on sheep and cows; their natural food is deer and elk, but, like all members of the dog family, will eat just about anything biodegradable if they have to. They can be "discouraged" from eating cows and sheep in various ways; this has been tried in Minnesota with a fair degree of success.
Even worse, these proposed wolf hunts will probably be conducted aerially, not unlike the ones the former governor of Alaska has so enthusiastically promoted in the past. These wolf "hunts" are unfair and disgusting, and they work by running the target wolf down, exhausting it, then shooting it dead, dead, dead. There's no particular reason to kill them, even if ranchers and farmers worry about livestock, because "wolf damage" just isn't that great. Ironically the deer that wolves traditionally eat, may cause a lot more damage to crops, at least; I once saw a herd of them attack some growing wheat just outside of Bozeman, Montana. Wolf predation would go some way to solving problems like this.
So what is my bottom line here? These hunts, if you want to call them that, are unnecessary. They will not accomplish much of anything, except, in the long run, I think, to drive wolves back onto the Endangered Species List, where they will again begin to thrive. Furthermore, in Montana and Idaho, although there are plenty of people who welcome the idea of possibly exterminating all wolves in their states, there are plenty of people who oppose these hunts. Even in Alaska, which is full of wolves, most people there oppose wolf hunting. Besides which, farmers and ranchers are no longer exactly the "majority" of the population in those states. There are a great many people from "outside", who would like to see wolves and wildlife thrive. So I, for one, would like to see this hunt halted, hopefully by some sort of court injunction, if at all possible, and immediately. I urge everyone to think about this, and, if possible, go to Facebook, where Defenders of Wildlife has a presence, sign their petition, and give them as much support as possible so that this effort to stop what is essentially a disgusting and unnecessary hunt, will stop.