Wolves ARE The True Lords Of Nature!

July 6, 2015

It’s important to remember why we need wolves!

This was one of my early posts from 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

Posted in: biodiversity, wolf recovery, gray wolf,  Glacier National Park

Tags: wolf recovery, gray wolf,  biodiversity

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for sharing!


  2. Reblogged this on Bear Foot Connections 'Empowering the Web of Life'.


  3. This is an interesting way of looking at the issue.

    This also further demonstrates that Nature always, in some way, maintains a balance, while the so-called “experts” (usually the pro-big industry folks and their lobbyists) just mess things up.

    How many times I have argued with vitriolic wolf-haters that wolves are a necessary part of the Natural community! Gee. Even commonsense is lost upon these idiots when it comes to discussing the Natural Balance.

    – Rev. Dragon’s Eye


  4. When will people accept that wolves are important to a healthy and intact ecosystem? When will they even accept a healthy and intact ecosystem?


    • Because their perception of a healthy ecosystem is one that is not.
      Because an apparently healthy ecosystem is only such when it can be profited from or at the very least utilisted to serve human endeavours. A non-human animal’s worth is only measured by the money that can be made from it – strip away the PR drivel and the animal itself is seen as expendable… little more than an unthinking object. It’s outright psychotic.


  5. Wolves affect surroundings, they effect changes. I get confused when they don’t…

    I was just looking at Jim & Jamie Dutcher’s “The Hidden Life of Wolves”, (2013) with condensed info on the time they spent in 1992-96 with the original Sawtooth Pack, and beautiful pictures of their family.

    If you haven’t got the book it is right now an amazing bargain.

    What Eisenberg means is what is called “ecologically effective population”, one which interacts sufficiently with other animals in the community in a way that causes those effects.
    Carrying capacity is another concept, having in part to do with the number of individuals able to thrive in the system. Wolf reproduction tapers off to match normal mortality, when nearing carrying capacity.

    The crazed murder going on in Montana and Idaho, no matter the explanations of the wildlife agencies (or their rather benighted “wolf specialists”), is preventing the wolf from reaching natural ecological numbers or carrying capacity.

    This very murderin’ keeps the reproductive rate high (just as it is in war-torn human populations, you baby-boomers out there) and so continually reinforces the fiction of the “need” for “management.”

    Explore population ecology and peer-reviewed literature for good insight.
    This is why a number of wolf biologists speak against public killing of wolves – it’s not necessary, and as you know destroys their families, causes grief, leaves uneducated and partly educated wolves without role models who teach them to keep away, or who sooner or later will learn and teach this, from the Cattlemen’s profits, so promoted in some comment columns.

    Going to West Yellowstone August 7-9th “Speak for Wolves?” A good place to be.

    Also on Aug 7, in flagstaff, is a rally for Mexican Wolves.Lobo Rallies In Flagstaff and Santa Fe
    August 7, 2015
    AZ Game and Fish Commission Meeting and Rally
    Flagstaff, Arizona
    Location not yet announced
    You can also sign a petition to the AZ Game and Fish Commission here.
    August 27, 2015
    NM Game Commission Meeting and Rally
    Santa Fe Community College, Jemez Room
    6401 Richards Ave.
    Santa Fe New Mexico
    Contact the governors office
    Calls are most effective: 505-476-2200
    Email: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.asp


  6. There truly is a purpose for all of creation. One much larger than our puny minds can begin to comprehend.

    Especially some minds.


  7. Reblogged this on Coalition for American Wildbirds.


  8. Did you guys hear the news? A new species of wolf was just discovered in Africa! It’s scientific name is Canis anthus, and it is going to be called the “Golden Wolf!”

    You can read the very exciting news here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/grrlscientist/2015/jul/30/golden-jackal-a-new-wolf-species-hiding-in-plain-sight


  9. Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:




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