Rocky Mountain National Park would rather allow Park employees to shoot their over-browsing, over-abundant elk population instead of bringing in wolves to do what they’ve been doing for hundreds of thousands of years, keeping elk herds healthy and in check. The stupidity of this is mind-boggling.
“Rocky Mountain National Park sometimes has so many elk that they overgraze the vegetation, leaving other animals without enough food and habitat. Few natural predators are left there, and hunting is prohibited, so little remains to keep the elk population in check.
The park launched a 20-year program in 2008 to thin the herd by having park employees and trained volunteers under park supervision periodically shoot and kill elk. The program also includes fences to protect vegetation from elk and redistributing some of the animals.”….The Australian
Park Service employees have shot 131 elk since 2008 and even allow volunteers to join in as well. Sounds like hunting in a National Park to me?
WildEarth Guardians sued the park in 2008, challenging their elk culling program. They lost that challenge and appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, who is considering the case.
The excuses the park offers, for not introducing wolves to control their burgeoning elk population, are toothless.
“Officials said reintroducing wolves to control elk numbers was infeasible. They cited a lack of support from other agencies, safety concerns of people who live nearby, expected conflicts between wolves and humans and the amount of attention that a wolf population would require of park officials.”…..The Australian
The Tenth Circuit heard arguments from the US Park Service on why wolves were not an option to control the vegetation-elk-munching-population. WildEarth Guardians countered that the wolf option was never given serious consideration or opened for public comment. The Tenth Circuit gave no hint on when they would rule.
We’re living in bizarro world, where up is down and down is up. Wolves are elk’s natural predator, they keep herds, healthy and strong by culling the weak, sick and old. Yet instead of reintroducing them to RMNP, the US Park Service would rather have an elk cull/hunt.
Many of our national parks are facing the same fate as RMNP, out of control elk and deer populations, which destroy park vegetation. This is due to LACK OF PREDATORS, mainly wolves, who were systematically slaughtered by the US government in cooperation with ranchers in the 1900’s and are now carrying out the same slaughter in the Northern Rockies and soon the Great Lakes if litigation challenging the killing is not successful.
You would think the Park Service would have learned their lesson by now but oh no. We can’t have apex predators controlling their natural prey. That would be too forward thinking. Instead they opt for the elk/hunt cull. Look to Yellowstone for guidance RMNP and see how the park has been re-born, due to the reintroduction of canis lupus.
Someone give these people a copy of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, where he coined the phrase “Thinking Like a Mountain” and describes it this way:
“Aldo Leopold first came up with this term as a result of watching a wolf die off. In those days of Leopold’s adventures, no one would ever pass up killing a wolf because fewer wolves meant more deer, which meant great hunting experiences. However, when Leopold saw the “fierce green fire dying in her eyes” he knew that neither the mountain nor the wolf deserved this. Leopold stated in his book, A Sand County Almanac:
“Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn … In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers … So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the change. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.”
In this example Leopold shows that the removal of a single species can result in serious negative consequences in an ecosystem. While avoiding trophic cascades is one way to think like a mountain, there are countless other environmental actions that can be categorized under this broad and interconnected concept.”…Wikipedia Commons
US Park Service defends refusal to use wolves in Rocky Mountain National Park
September 21, 2012 4:54AM
Top Photo: WyoFile
Bottom Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Wolf Wars, biodiversity
Tags: Rocky Mountain National Park, closed-minded, over browsing elk herds, National Parks in need of predators, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, WildEarth Guardians, wolves, trophic cascades, Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like A Mountain, A Sand County Almanac