One of my favorite blog sites is “Coyotes, Wolves, and Cougars Forever” operated by blogmaster Rick Meril.
Rick’s blog site:
“…invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint, from expert and laymen alike, on …predator and prey….revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded…..Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands…..enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. “
I thoroughly enjoy reading commentaries that Rick receives from well known scientists who focus on Nature’s top predators such as wolves, bears, coyotes, and cougar. I was recently drawn to a commentary by carnivore biologist John Laundre regarding the killing of predators. Rick has given me permission to reproduce John’s commentary here. Rick invites each of you to comment directly either to Rick or John. Here is John’s commentary:
“Well that hunting magazine, Grand View Outdoors, has done it again! In an article titled “Explaining USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service)’, HSUS’( Humane Society of the U.S) War Against Predator Hunting”, the author [ Judd Cooney] proceeds to lambast these two entities for what he calls their “unscientific” and biased resistance to uncontrolled predator hunting. He then proceeds to fill his article with unscientific and biased reasons why we should eliminate … predators, especially wolves! His inaccuracies are too many to cite them all but I do offer a rebuttal to a few of his more outlandish statements.
The most glaring … is his insistence that 20,000 plus elk in Yellowstone Park were first of all a stable and second a desirable population level for the Park! All who knew Yellowstone before wolves agreed that the elk were far from stable and that these many elk were killing the Park ecosystems! The rejuvenation of the park after wolves is evidence to that! He also failed to mention that back when humans killed elk in the Park to control them, most hunters also gladly agreed there were too many elk, because they then got a chance to kill them! As for the tourist dollars supposedly lost, those have been clearly made up by increased dollars to come and see wolves…alive!
[Author Judd Cooney’s] examples from Alaska are also bogus and he obviously does not want to be bothered by “facts” and “reality”. Does he not realize that before white people came with their logging, their sports hunting, their building homes everywhere, there were plenty of caribou and moose AND wolves! What changed? Did wolves get more efficient? I doubt it. The problems they are having in Alaska are not from the wolves, they are from the people that have moved there! This is in fact the situation worldwide before humans “managed” these systems! Now after millennia of prey AND predator abundance, there is a problem with predators? What reality does the author live in? It is the mismanagement of wildlife and the massive habitat alterations that are occurring, with the blessing of hunters, that are impacting wildlife in Alaska!
It is rightfully so that the National Wildlife Refuges of Alaska should NOT be controlled by a bunch of biased hunters, guides, trappers, and other political hacks that constitute only 12% of Alaskans [who] hunt !, and have a vested interest in running Alaska simply for their economic gain! These groups have time and time again demonstrated they know less of how nature works than “doctors, lawyers, and the like”, or…the rest of us!
On to Idaho where author Judd Cooney says the wolves have decimated the elk herds everywhere. I guess he failed to include the data that show just the opposite, with even growing herds because of mild winters! It’s the weather stupid! Again, he complains about the revenue lost due to reduced human hunting. These small towns could have easily increased their revenue, year round, by promoting wolf watching! But did they? No, they continue to insist that large areas of land owned by all of us should be managed for less than the 5% of us that hunt elk and the less than 1% of us that live there! As with Alaska and all his views, the fact that he insists on putting everything in terms of what is best for human hunters and not the rest of us (95%) or the health of the natural systems, he clearly shows the selfish attitude that nature should be run by the hunters and for the hunters…period.”
[MY NOTE: The North American Wildlife Conservation Model (NAM) is the only one of its kind in the world. In the mid-1800s, hunters and anglers realized they needed to set limits in order to protect rapidly disappearing wildlife, and assume responsibility for managing wild habitats. Hunters and anglers were among the first to crusade for wildlife protection and remain some of today’s most important conservation leaders. The model’s two basic principles—that our fish and wildlife belong to all North American citizens, and are to be managed in such a way that their populations will be sustained forever—are explained through a set of guidelines known as the “Seven Sisters for Conservation.” The “Seven Sisters” hold the key to wildlife conservation as we know it today. Now, back to John Laundre’s commentary.]
“Why should we run the natural world for less than 5% of the population? Where are “Sister”# 1 (The Public Trust) and Sister #3 (Democratic Rule of Law) of the (NAM)? Where is the public trust (Sister #1 ) and what is democratic (Sister #3) about just 5% of the population having the only say about wildlife that is supposed to belong to ALL of us?
[The magazine’s] brief mention of predators and livestock shows its complete ignorance of the situation concerning predation on livestock. Livestock losses from predators are minimal (less than 1% for cattle) and only rarely do coyotes do the “human” thing of killing more than what they need. Ranchers lose more head of livestock to poor husbandry and rustlers! Read the chapter on predation effects on livestock in the book “Animal Welfare in Extensive Production Systems“ to get a balanced unbiased view of just how serious predation is on livestock. It is not!
Lastly, [the magazine article] clearly demonstrates why hunters should NOT be put in control of wildlife management simply because of [ author Judd Cooney’s ] final statement: “No Seasons, No License, No limits”. This is not “Management” it is the view of an ignorant position that shows a lack of knowledge of how nature works. It is a view from our dark past where people killed just to kill. It is a view that demonstrates that this kill lust still motivates hunting and hunters. The 5th “Sister” of the NAM clearly states that wildlife should not be killed for FRIVOLOUS reasons. The SCIENCE (Sister #7) clearly shows that killing predators to “control” them has no scientific basis and therefore killing them for that reason constitutes a frivolous reason. There is no reason for killing predators other than ignorance, greed, and an egocentric view that ALL of nature should be run just for the kill-lust of hunters! It is time we ALL have a say in how wildlife, especially predators are managed.”
Worth Your Extra Attention :
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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.