By Dr. Michael W. Fox
Wolves play an integral role in maintaining the health of wildlife and ecosystems, and indirectly, livestock and public health. Recognition of this role and its ecological ramifications calls for greater respect, protection and incresed numbers of wolves in appropriate habitats across North America. Current federal and state government initiatives, backed by diverse vested interests, are poised to reduce the nation’s existing wolf population which is contrary to the directives of sound science, reason and the public interest.
State wildlife management practices directed to maximize deer numbers for recreational hunters, rural America’s virtual extermination of the wolf over the past two centuries, coupled with forest management practices and agricultural expansion indirectly providing feed for deer and the encroachment of real estate housing developments with deer-attracting gardens and vegetation in municipal parks, have had unforseen consequences associated with high White tail deer numbers; and elk in western states. Two of these unforseen consequences concern public health and potential harm to the livestock industry which a higher population of wolves across the U.S. would do much to recitify.
According to the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, “After the young (fawns) are born each spring, there are between 900,000 and 1,000,000 (White tail) deer in Minnesota. The hunting season is important to keep the deer population from getting too large. Each year, Minnesota hunters harvest between 150,000 and 200,000 deer”.