December 16, 2010
I’m shocked and saddened by the article supporting wolf hunting, that appeared in the International Wolf Center (IWC) Winter 2o1o edition.
Unbelievably, the author of the article was Dr. Mech, the renowned wildlife biologist, who founded the IWC and is vice-chair of their Board of Directors.
Not only does Dr. Mech support wolf hunts but he goes into shocking detail on how to carry them out. There is talk of harvesting wolves, killing pregnant females, hunting wolves for their pelts, hunting pups later in the year so they don’t look like pups, leg-hold traps, baiting, calling and hiring bounty hunters. Seriously, if I didn’t know better I would have believed this article was written by a fish and game agency.
Last year, Doug Smith, the Yellowstone wolf biologist, stated wolves should be hunted later in winter when their pelts are thicker. This year we have the pro-wolf hunting article by Dr. Mech.
Why would the IWC publish this when wolf advocates are fighting so hard to save wolves from another Western extermination? Why now when there is an all out attack on the ESA? Why now when Mexican gray wolves are fighting for their very existence, being used for target practice in the Southwest, with six wolves killed this year alone? Something is very wrong here. Read for yourself:
Considerations for Developing Wolf Harvesting Regulations in the Contiguous United States
L. David Mech
Other equally upsetting articles that appeared in the same IWC issue:
Wolves Meet Their Match In Airborne Predators
(This article discusses hunting wolves with eagles!! WHAT???)
Another Viewpoint: Why Hunting-Trapping Is Best Plan To Manage Gray Wolf Populations
(Trapping? I seem to remember the Feds using trappers to exterminate wolves in the West the first time around. What is the IWC thinking? This is outrageous)
Response To David L. Mech’s “Considerations For “Harvesting” American Wolf Populations
December 9, 2010
The International Wolf Center’s mission to educate the public about wolves has taken an unlikely turn on the road to wolf conservation. Dr. L. David Mech, founder of the IWC, published an article in the Winter 2010 Magazine titled “Considerations for Developing Wolf Harvesting Regulations in the Contiguous United States.” In this article, Dr. Mech argues that the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act is “inevitable.” Perhaps Dr. Mech knows something we don’t. But Dr. Mech’s article goes well beyond merely accepting the “inevitable.” He expresses a clear desire to educate the public concerning the most “efficient” methods of wolf harvesting. Let’s not pretty it up, “harvesting” means killing. Dr. Mech offers elaborate detail on the presumption hunters will not kill sufficient numbers of wolves once the “novelty” wears off. For instance, Dr. Mech suggests killing pregnant females, increasing the “monetary value” of wolf pelts by educating the public about proper ways to skin wolves and designating hunts during times when wolf fur is optimal, “fair chase” as well as “trapping and snaring,” and the use of “professional trappers” who are paid per wolf killed. To further maximize kills, Dr. Mech additionally advises “guided hunts” for persons seeking a “trophy” and seeking ways to “maximize the recreational value” of wolf hunting. To “minimize public animosity” towards wolf hunting, Dr. Mech advises promoting more extensive hunting in areas where wolves threaten livestock.
The idea that there is some need to reduce wolf populations is debatable. Wolves are highly adaptable but they prefer to remain in wilderness areas outside the boundaries of human territories. Wolf populations vary but they are subject to losses due to predation, injury, illness, and other natural circumstances. It is also suggested that wolves adapt their pack size to fit the resources and make other adjustments to accommodate pack numbers.
The notion that hunters will tire of killing wolves defies the urgency with which wolves have been massacred for over 100 years to the point of their near extinction. Killing pregnant females goes well beyond killing the she-wolf and her unborn pups. Wolves form close relations within the pack, and organize themselves by specific roles. Young members are essential and killing a pregnant female can disrupt the functioning of the whole pack.
The concern that wolves threaten livestock populations is more-and-more becoming a non-issue. For example, Montana reports loss of 97 out of a population of 2.6 million cattle to wolf depredation in 2009. These cattle roamed freely on both public and private lands with little or no protection. Non-lethal methods of protecting livestock ((i.e., flag fencing, guard dogs, range riders, noise makers, electric fencing, chemical fencing, repayment for lost livestock, range riders, and good animal supervision) have been tried and proven successful. Though he does not offer any figures, Dr. Mech suggests that harvesting wolves will save the cost of using non-lethal methods of protecting livestock. This ignores the obvious cost to organize and regulate hunts, particularly to monitor use of fair chase practices and seek out and deal with poachers.
Dr. Mech argues that paying professional trappers is not “bounty” hunting because they would be directed to kill specific numbers of wolves in specific locations, rather than permitted to seek out and kill wolves at random. This may be a technical argument but makes little practical difference. Trapping and snaring are less than “fair” and cause unnecessary suffering.
Dr. Mech recommends increases in wolf pelt value, to also improve numbers taken. This reduces the wolf to little more than a commodity, not unlike bludgeoning baby seals for making fur hats or fining live sharks to make soup. Dr. Mech additionally recommends killing wolves for “trophies” and encourages “recreational hunting” of wolves. This clearly places the killing of wolves in the arena of a sport, and not some public service related to necessary thinning wolf populations.
Wolves are of little threat to us, and they serve an invaluable purpose. Without wolves balance is disrupted in wilderness areas, which can ultimately lose the ability to sustain plant and animal species from the top down to the bottom of the food chain. Wolves are known to prey on the old, sick and weak animals, which serves to promote the health of elk, caribou, moose and other species. Wolves, even in the great numbers of their distant past, rarely caused harm to humans. It is believed that cavemen followed wolves to learn to hunt, and wolves continue to play an indispensable role in the environment we depend upon for survival. Dr. Mech’s advice sets us back at least 50 years, and is unconscionable at a time when we have come so close to finding enduring solutions to peaceful cohabitation with wolves.
D. J. Lentine, Ph.D.
Please contact the IWC and tell them what you think of this egregious betrayal of wolves.
International Wolf Center
1396 Highway 169
Ely, MN 55731-8129
Phone: (218) 365-4695
Fax: (218) 365-3318
TTY Relay Service – (800) 855-2880
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Minnesota gray wolves
Tags: IWC, wolves in the crossfire, Dr. Mech, wolf hunting, ESA
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