Wolves ARE The True Lords Of Nature!

It’s important to remember why we need wolves!

This was one of my early posts in the fall of 2009. Wolves were being hunted in Idaho and Montana for the first time since their near extermination in the lower 48.

October 29, 2009 

Wolves effect their surroundings and bring life to the lands they inhabit. For sixty years elk browsed the meadows of the North Fork of the Flathead, in Montana. Their adversary, Canis Lupus, who had chased them through time, was gone, hunted to extinction in the West.

Then the wolf came home to it’s native habitat and dispersed the elk. This brought back the aspen and willow, young shoots no longer trampled under the complacent elk’s hooves. With the aspen came the songbirds and other wildlife.

Once more the circle was complete with the return of the great canine, the wolf.

 “Aspen ecosystems are considered some of the finest and richest songbird habitat on the continent, second only to river-bottom riparian zones. Remove the wolf, and you remove the songbirds. Remove the songbirds, and the bugs move in. Everything changes, top to bottom, right down to the dirt”…..Cristina Eisenberg,  Oregon State University researcher


Wolves Increase Biodiversity And Greatly Benefit The Ecosystems They Inhabit

Matt Skoglund Wildlife Advocate, Livingston, Montana

Posted October 26, 2009 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

Wolves matter.

They lead to more songbirds.  Better trout habitat.  More game birds.  Less insects.  Better soil.  Fewer coyotes.  Wilder elk.  More aspen trees.

Wolves, in essence, are key to a healthy landscape.

So says biologist Christina Eisenberg in a fascinating Missoulian article on the effect of wolves — and their absence — on an ecosystem.

Eisenberg has been studying the top-to-bottom effect of wolves — called a “trophic cascade” — in Glacier National Park for years.  She’s also been researching ecosystems near St. Mary’s, Montana, and in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada.

“Each study site is about the same size, and each has a similarly large elk population, native to an aspen-based winter range, and each has the same general density of cougars and bears.”  The difference between the sites is the number of resident wolves:  St. Mary’s has none, Waterton some, and Glacier many.

Her findings on the much heated debate over wolves and elk mirror what others have found:  there are plenty of elk in the Northern Rockies, but the return of wolves has made the elk behave again like wild elk:

The North Fork, Eisenberg said, is “full of wolves,” and has been for 20 years now.  It’s also full of elk – as many as 14 elk per square kilometer in this meadow, where the wolf den site is located.  Elk scat litters the ground not 20 yards from the den.

Clearly, the wolves aren’t eating all the elk.  But aside from the tracks and the scat and the bones and the antlers, there are no elk to be seen.

“They’ve totally changed their behavior,” Eisenberg said.  “For 60 years we’ve become used to complacent elk.  These elk aren’t complacent.  They’re on high alert.”

From a browse standpoint, that means elk eat a bit and move on, eat a bit and move on, never standing in one place long enough to eat a tree down to its roots.  And from a human standpoint, it means hunters see far fewer elk even as state wildlife officials insist Montana has more deer and elk than it’s had for years.


Hunters, of course, prefer elk that aren’t quite so wily, but trophic cascades work both ways in wildlife management.  Remove the wolves, and elk are easier to find.  But then coyote populations explode, eating their way through the local game-bird population.  Enhance one hunting opportunity, and you affect another.

And from a bigger viewpoint than just elk, Eisenberg has found that wolves increase biodiversity and greatly benefit the overall health of the areas they inhabit:

Remove the wolves, she said, and you lose the birds.

Remove the wolves, she said, and the coyotes fill the niche.  The coyotes eat the ground squirrels, and so the meadows don’t get “plowed,” and soil productivity declines.

Remove the wolves, she said, and the deer eat the river-bottom willows, and the bull trout lose both their shade and their food, as insects no longer fall from overhanging brush.

Remove the wolves, she said, “and everything changes.”

Why is this so noteworthy?

Because the places with greatest biodiversity are the places most resilient, most able to adapt to, say, changing climate.

And Eisenberg wisely thinks her — and others’ — findings should guide wolf management.

Wolf populations aren’t recovered with 12 breeding pairs, or 15, or 20, Eisenberg said.  They’re recovered when there are enough wolves and other top-end predators to maximize biodiversity.  

Her findings are important, and they’re timely, as wolves are being gunned down all over Idaho and Montana right now.

In her research and in this article, Eisenberg simply and unequivocally points out a critical fact that’s been lost in the recent debate over the wolf hunts:

Wolves matter.



Tracking science: Biologist’s findings show forest diversity, health influenced by wolves



Photo: first people

Photo: wolf wallpaper

Categories posted in: biodiversity, wolf recovery, gray wolf,  Glacier National Park

Tags: wolf recovery, gray wolf,  biodiversity

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35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Makes me happy to read these Positive, enjoyable facts about our beloved Brothers, the Wolfs .. Thank You for having my Heart sing!

    • standingwiththewolfs,

      You’re very welcome, The anti wolf side wants to keep us occupied with their constant assaults against the wolf both psychological and literal. It keeps us sad and feeling powerless. We have to forge on no matter what they are doing. We have our own agenda to save the wolves and we can’t stray from it.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  2. We need more HUNTERS and TRAPPERS that can read in MONTANA that can understand what this means!

    • Unfortunately Joann, they don’t care about trophic cascades or the positives wolves bring to the ecosystem. We have to reach everyday Americans and people around the world who may not know what’s happening to wolves. The anti wolf crowd will continue to demonize and kill wolves until the last howl is silenced in the Northern Rockies.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


    • I agree Ron, trapping is horrific way to kill any animal and as far as I am concerned should be against the law.

  4. Can someone please nail these reports to the doors of the policy makers. So they cant claim ignorance to the facts and so they know that everybody knows what game they are up to .. personal gain.

    • steven…I think the policy makers are concerned with one thing, getting re-elected or holding onto power. They have decided to form alliances with wolf haters and persecutors. We need new policy makers and wolf advocates and wildlife watchers must have a say in how wildlife is cared for. They are destroying what we love and it has to stop.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  5. That was one of the best description of natures cycle and the reason why all members of it are so important , how can you claim otherwise, I can’t believe anyone couldn’t see the beauty of all the players in it , but………..involve money and humans and the story changes,thats the sick part of it, the country voted to restore wolves and the majority spoke , and through corruption and groups gaming the system the wishes of dishonest people rule the day,not the majority,the people should rise up and take care of these low lifes before all of nature and its beauty is gone.

    • Amen!

    • rajaju…it’s amazing how important wolves are. Sadly apex predators are disappearing around the world due to greed and ignorance. One thing we can’t do is give in to this. We have to keep fighting for the wolves, for the voiceless.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  6. The noble father of all dogs……the wolf!

    • Yes Linda…the great canine, the wolf.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  7. Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially the hunters, plain do not care about the role that wolves play in the larger scheme of nature. People don’t want to believe in global warming either if it interferes with their lifestyle or money-making.

    • Marcia, you hit the nail on the head.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  8. I am so happy this post is on the positive side of Wolf management, or rather non-management. Just goes to prove that leaving nature alone is the best way to keep our world on the right track. Wish we could manage Global Warming in this fashion – who out there can help us with that? Wonderful & long live our Beloved Wolves.

  9. So well written and so true.

  10. Reblogged this on Forty Two Teeth and commented:
    Why We Need Wolves: an amazing post by Nabeki at the HowlingForJustice blog

    • Thank you owstarr!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  11. If only we could get the people who are killing the wolves to understand why they need to stop, I don’t think it is about the wolves
    so much as it is the pure enjoyment of killing them, which saddens me beyond words!

    • Patricia….so true and so sad. It’s truly one of the great tragedies.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  12. Did you see where a hunter killed a Grizz mama and her cub and the Fed’s have put out a 10000 $ reward leading to the arrest of their killer in Idaho its on MSNBC, the blog is quite active with people from Idaho

    • Rick…The grizzlies will be next. Hunters are itching to start killing them, as this horrible poaching incident demonstrates.

      Idaho is certainly making a name for itself and it’s not good.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  13. Nabeki, I have the picture of the fives wolves that you have posted here framed hanging in my den. Do you know where this was taken? On the bottom of my picture it says Peter McLeod 1991. It is called First Light and I suspect it was taken in Canada. I’ve been trying to get information about Peter McLeod but I have not been able to find out anything about him. Obviously he loved taking pictures of the wolves. The one I have is in black and white. I love it. If you have any other information please let me know.
    Thank You for keeping us going forward and sharing so much wonderful knowledge about the wolves with us. Its tough for all of us and we need to be reminded to stay in the fight. Thanks Nabeki!

    • Bert,

      You are so welcome, we have to stay positive and go forward no matter what. We’ll come back stronger to help the wolves. We’ve suffered bitter defeats but this is not over by a long shot. The wolves have tremendous allies, we just have to find a way to harness that support and make it work for them.

      As for the beautiful photo, I think it appeared in a book called Wolves that was published in 1991. Many of the older photos are housed on wallpaper sites and don’t describe the original photographer. It’s a terrific picture. Wolves are one of nature’s true works of art.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  14. Re. continued media demonization of wolves: Can we please generate a few letters to Volvo, in response to their currently running TV ad on the USA channel among others. It features a red Volvo outrunning a pursuing “wolf” (looks more like a photoshopped feral dog of some sort). Back seat passenger is a child dressed as red riding hood being asked to howl like a wolf while she escapes. Just one more bit of anti-wolf propaganda which we do not need. Also, we see that Liam Nissen’s latest junk film is now being advertised as a take-home video.

    And while we’re responding to idiocy, check out the Center for Biological Diversity’s new white paper that tries to claim victory for the Endangered Species Act on http://www.ESAsuccess.org. This contains plenty of news about salvation for bugs, plants, bats. Wolves are clearly a tabu subject. Cover letter (kieran@biologicaldiversity.org) states, “Our study is a potent rebuke of recent critiques by right-wing politicians who deem the Act a failure.” Can any of you explain this comment? I am not a right-winger due in part to Sarah Palin’s eloquent demonstrations of the right-wing’s policies toward wolf hunting, and in part to Mr Romney’s disgusting abuse of his dog. Of course the Obama administration’s environmental policies leave me with no place to turn, as it seems cruelty rules. Does anyone get any of this? If so please reply!

    • Dana,

      Yes, I saw that commercial and was appalled. It seems that is the new paradigm, beating up on wolves for profit. If you would like to write a letter addressing this I will post it on the blog. The Grey and a few other TV spots this past year has had a lot to do with the negative ads that are popping up on TV. We must address this because the longer they are allowed to demonize wolves the more ingrained in the culture it will become. I’m with you on this!!

      As for CBD, I think they are trying to put a positive spin on things because the ESA has been under attack but I do know that Michael Robinson of CBD is a staunch supporter of wolves.He wrote Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West. He is firmly behind wolves and their recovery and has called for a national wolf recovery plan, since they inhabit just 5 percent of their former habitat.

      I understand your concern, every day there is more bad news and another assault on wolves. But we WILL turn this around, I firmly believe that.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

    • Marc Bekoff for President!! Or better yet, Secretary of the Interior!!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

      • You know, in my meanderings I sometimes think that what’s going on here on Planet Earth at the present time is akin to what was happening in the 1960’s. (Not that I was old enough to appreciate those days then, I was just a kid). The feeling that seems to slowly be pervading many minds and from the information that is coming in from scientists, philosophers, thinkers, researchers etc. and just the evidence that we ourselves can understand with our own senses as we live, seems to point more and more towards the connectedness of everything as per James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia’ theory that he has expounded on since the 1960’s and which of course has been ridiculed ever since by many people. But then so was Rachel Carson after ‘Silent Spring’, Galileo after he said the Earth goes round the Sun etc., etc.,
        I just finished listening to the second part of a 3 part series on BBC Radio
        4 called ‘Extinct’ and so far has said that we are at the crossroads and our next few years and decisions will determine what may happen to us and the planet. We have most of the species we need to keep our systems going but be in no doubt we are losing them, in fact the point they made was that the systems are so vast and complicated and interwoven that it is not possible to measure, calculate and put down on paper exactly how much, what, where and when. But we know enough to know that we have to preserve what we have and that everything is indeed here a for a reason and a purpose and that is no quasi religious point of view, a dream or a fantasy. This is reality. The bigger picture is that we are creating conditions similar to those when an extinction arose from volcano eruptions which wiped out 96 per cent of life. The plant, rock, sea and other facilities which ‘soak up’ the output of monoxides and other gases cannot do this quick enough to compensate for our current output. Given the chance they will. No one knows for sure the implications of this. Moderating things may spring up that will kick in and make life tolerable, we may find solutions, we may not.
        Paul Ehrlich, esteemed man that he is, says people have to care, but if you said to a Wall St. banker, ‘We have to save the Panda Bear’, he’d say,’ I’ll never see a Panda Bear, who cares?’ But if you said to him, ‘If we don’t change our lifestyle you might not eat, or survive’, then you will get his attention.
        It’s imperative we see the wolf alongside the other life forms, like the bee’s whose colonies are collapsing and as Einstein said, ‘If the bee’s go, we go’. Perhaps if people can see the wolf in the whole picture, the part they play, the interaction with all wild life, maybe they will appreciate that it in THEIR interest to allow the wolf to thrive.
        No one can be sure about the scenario we are entering, so then surely in the face of ignorance we should err on the side of the angels.
        Would you want to try and cross the New Jersey Turnpike wearing a blindfold? That is what we are doing.
        Back to the sixties. There was a movement, a shift, cultural, human, economic, ethically and scientifically. Perhaps there is a parallel with the Civil Rights movement in as much as a certain people felt ostracized by its own cultural, social and governmental views and indeed laws. Although things are still ongoing, a change did indeed happen. By applying pressure and being on the side of right and justice, eventually a system which saw itself and was seen the rest of the world as being unjust, had to change, the people willed it so.
        We probably need someone or something to begin a movement which encompasses and represents all our living systems as fundamental to our survival and that the wolf is at the head of this movement carrying all before it. Maybe the wolf’s ‘image’ (badly formed by man) is too powerful for people to accept as a force for good, though the Greek word for wolf ‘lukos’ is so close to the word for light ‘leukos’ that perhaps it may make it possible for people to see the light.
        Who will pick up the mantle and march?

  15. Ken Salazar does not need to be President. He is against the Wolves. So are these people::Brian D. Schweitzer P.O. Box 20080 Helena, Mt. 406-444-3111. governor@mt.gov.us Dave Fruedenthal 200W.24th St. Cheyenne,Wy 82002-0010 governor@state.wy.us ::: Sean Parnell 2509 A. Fairbanks St. Anchorage, Alaska 99503 907-771-9090….
    Write to these people and see if you get an answer.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Did someone suggest Salazar for President? That would be horrible.

      Yes Parnell is not a whole lot different from Palin.

      What worries me about Montana is Schweitzer will be leaving office and replaced by a new governor Almost every Montana governor candidate is running on an anti wolf platform. Montana needs to know that if they go down this extreme wolf hating road there will be a price to pay in tourism dollars. Boycott the wolf states who are destroying America’s wolves. That is one thing we can all participate in. One thing we can’t do is roll over and allow this to continue. Every year the hunt goes forward, the more radical these states become.

      Matt Mead is governor of Wyoming now.


      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  16. How can people read this and not want the wolf! Wolves are wonderful;

  17. Not just Volvo – there is an ad for Dodge – driving down road blocked by flock of sheep so they ask for Big Bad Wolf to be played – parting the pack! Not a day goes by when CNN (station I happen to have on most of time) uses “lone Wolf” in it’s various discussions – usually about terrorisim. I agree w/ whoever said it – every day “they” kill and torture Wolves the more acceptable it becomes and the more difficult it will be to remove – congress opened a bloodbath that is going on under the radar!

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