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Kenya and Tanzania: The difference between conservation and preservation

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I fell in love with Africa the first time I set eyes on her. Beautiful landscapes set the backdrop for a kaleidoscope of cultures. But, what draws me back to her soils over and over is the bountiful wildlife. It was the wildlife that led me back to Africa, this time to visit Kenya and Tanzania. As I had just completed my Bachelor’s of Science in natural resource ecology and management I was keen to put my new degree to the test on this trip. I made detailed notes of the wildlife I was seeing as I traveled through the parks of these two countries. I quickly noticed some major differences between them and wanted to share my observations and conclusions with the readers of this page.

Grevy's Zebra in Lewa

Grevy’s Zebra in Lewa

Tanzania and Kenya have drastically different approaches when it comes to wildlife management. Kenya has been closed to big game hunting since 1977, whereas Tanzania is still one of the top countries for hunting safaris in Africa. These different approaches have allowed the wildlife of one country to thrive while the other has sharply declined. It may surprise some folks that Tanzania is the one that is actually thriving. For years I have heard and read accounts of how Tanzania’s wildlife is booming while Kenya’s wildlife has declined by 70-80% since the late ’70s. Most of what I have learned about conservation and wildlife management at OSU would support this idea, but my scientific training I received there has also taught me to question everything especially if I cannot find a source without obvious bias. After all, most reports of Tanzania’s success and Kenya’s decline come from pro-hunting sources. Likewise I have read many accounts of Kenya being the best, but these were published by openly anti-hunting organizations. With so much contradicting evidence and very few credible sources I set out to discover the truth for myself. So here is my personal evaluation of both countries:

My time in Kenya was amazing! I have never met friendlier people and it was an awesome experience to walk in the footsteps of some of my personal heroes such as Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway. I was in the heart of classic Africa and loving it. Which is why I was so disappointed when I realized that everything I had heard was true. I loved the people, landscapes, and history so much that by the end of my time in Kenya my own personal bias made me want to reject what I saw.

At the Watering Hole

The wildlife we saw in Kenya was abysmal compared to what I have seen in other parts of Africa. Tsavo, which I had greatly looked forward to, was almost barren of wildlife except for birds. The birding in Kenya was truly its saving grace, although bird levels were just as good in Tanzania. I can give an exact head count on every mammal species seen in Kenya, whereas in Tanzania the herds were so large I had to estimate numbers. I must admit that I was not able to coordinate a few days in Kenya’s Maasai Mara area, which is supposed to be its best park. However, this is the northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. For the purpose of removing this bias I can say it is easy to assume the wildlife levels in these parks are relatively the same throughout the year as most species migrate from one to the other. Even removing the Serengeti factor from my analysis the wildlife I observed in all four of Kenya’s parks i visited, including the Lewa Conservancy, combined did not match up with the variety and abundance of wildlife I saw in any of the other three parks I saw in Tanzania. By itself Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park with its small area and extremely thick vegetation, which greatly diminished visibility, surpassed the Kenyan parks.

DSC_0028

But why is this the case? Shouldn’t Kenya’s wildlife be thriving since there is no more hunting? In essence, no. Africa is a hot bed of poaching both for feeding the Asian black market and for feeding the people living near game reserves, bush meat. The main approaches to combat these problems are anti-poaching patrols and public outreach/ community involvement campaigns. Lewa and the surrounding reserves are good examples of community involvement/ outreach programs in Kenya, in fact the Lewa Conservancy will be the topic of my next post as it was the only successful system I witnessed in Kenya. But these methods require a lot of funding, funding which Tanzania has and Kenya does not due to taxes and fees on the hunting industry. A portion of every dollar raised through hunting goes back into conservation. This money pays for education, anti-poaching, habitat improvement, and community development. Not only does the wildlife benefit, the local people receive benefits as well for simply tolerating the wildlife. This is why hunting is such a powerful tool in conservation, it brings value to wildlife which would otherwise be a nuisance.

Poached rhino with  calf

Poached rhino with calf

Conservation, directly managing wildlife through sustainable use, has been superior to preservation, hands off and let nature take its course, throughout much of the history of wildlife management. With an ever expanding human population more and more efforts are needed to protect and conserve wildlife. This is where sustainable use methods of conservation, such as hunting, step in to pay the bills. Tanzania likely has such great wildlife populations today because they have kept this idea as the core of their wildlife management approach, while across the border Kenya has rejected it.

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Animal Rights vs Conservation and Human Rights

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A friend of mine posted this recently and I thought it would appropriate to share here.

Animal Rights vs Conservation and Human Rights
17 Sep 2012

The debate on animal rights vs conservation has seen a third contender rising from the ashes – human rights.

In reaction to an article in last week’s Pot-Shot, reader “Johan” posed the question whether some people “would rather support saving rhinos than helping an orphaned human life”. It is fine to look after animals, but “not neglect

ing our accountability in looking after each other.”Tanya Jacobsen, campaign manager of RhinoDotCom, says animal rights vs conservation “emerges as a ‘war’ between the two schools of thought and one that has degenerated to aggression, violence, disrespect and blatant hatred. We would like to clarify some aspects of the main concepts.

Essentially, the two views are literally worlds apart with Animal Welfare featuring somewhere in between:

The Wildlife Society maintains that anyone who has an understanding of social issues in Africa will know that Animal Rights principles simply cannot work here. Where it has been attempted to a large degree, for example in Kenya, it has failed miserably and many of the local people’s livelihoods have been severely negatively affected. This in turn led to disastrous consequences for indigenous wildlife.

Regarding SA’s rhino situation, :calls against legal trade in horn and rhino farming are often heard from various groups and individuals, based on animal rights principles. We respond as follows:

“Our rhinos have the right to be worth more alive than dead. They have the right not to be brutally and indiscriminately slaughtered for their horn when we can keep them healthy and happy and provide their horn to those who want it, without having to harm the animals.

“Our rhinos have the right to be protected by us.

“They have the right to breed and live in safety.

“They have the right to be afforded any measure, as long as it is not cruel, that will save them from joining the ranks of the many species that have already gone extinct, due to the unwise, misguided and ill-informed practices of humans. “

An interesting write-up on Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare has been posted here: http://www.ncraoa.com/AR_VS_AW.html. A great amount of detail and statistics are offered on this website to enhance knowledge by questioning and cross-referencing data.

An opposing viewpoint by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) is offered here: http://www.animalrightsafrica.org/EthicalConservation.php
ARA uses extreme language to denounce people who promote sustainable use, saying that “it is elements within the WUM that consistently resort to violence, including murder, to achieve their objectives. And, all too often, ethical environmentalists and animal rightists are the victims of this violence.”

They involve politics in their arguments, alleging that: “Sustainable utilisation is also a smokescreen, used by recreational animal-killers and others who, for reasons of political expediency, job security or greed, wish to win favour with human communities and populations that were previously oppressed under apartheid or colonialist rule, and who now hold the fate of wildlife and environmental conservation in their hands.”

In the book, Game Changer, award-winning environmental reporter Glen Martin finds that the policies championed by animal welfare groups could lead paradoxically to the elimination of the very species – including elephants and lions – that are the most cherished. Martin revisits the debate between conservationists, who believe that people whose lives are directly impacted by the creation of national parks and preserves should be compensated, versus those who believe that restrictive protection that forbids hunting is the most effective way to conserve wildlife and habitats.

Focusing on the different approaches taken by Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia, Martin vividly shows how the world’s last great populations of wildlife have become the hostages in a fight between those who love animals and those who would save them.

Martin builds a convincing case… But the real value of Martin’s book is in showing how hard it is to find any conservation strategy that works in the complex reality of today’s Africa… Walking the fine line between unregulated killing and managed hunting will not be easy, it may be the only hope for Africa’s wild creatures. Martin emphasises that measures such as ecotourism and protection for iconic species have backfired dramatically.

Read more on this subject by clicking the Kalahari link here.

• It seems that sustainable hunting takes humans into account, while ARA and its ilk seem to claim to the idea that animals should be conserved in their natural state without taking into account human needs, especially in Africa that is plagued by poverty and the lack of employment opportunities. – Editor

Wolf Hunting Opens in Wisconsin

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Wolves are a unique species in terms of their cultural and politic affects, especially their ability to polarize public opinions. To some they are a symbol of the wild, the majestic rulers of the mountains if I may. To others they are a nuisances that kill cattle and wildlife species such as deer and elk. I for one find myself somewhere in the middle. As a small child I feared wolves, even though I had never seen one. By the time I was ten this fear had turned into respect and admiration. So I can see both sides, on one hand wolves must be maintained at manageable levels to prevent over population (accompanied by over-predation) but they should not be slaughtered to the point of extirpation as they were before.

On August 31 of this year wolves were officially delisted in Wyoming and control was turned over to the state wildlife agency. In a little over a month I have seen dozens of blog posts and news articles blasting the Wyoming Game and Fish Department over wolf management, specifically their use of limited hunting as a management tool. So after reading a lot of BS I took it upon myself to do some real research, something the other writers have not attempted to do or have no desire to do.

As most wildlife enthusiasts know wolves had been on the endangered species list for quite a while. However, many folks are unaware of the fact that wolves met the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) requirements for delisting ten years ago in 2002. Since then state agencies have been working with the USFWS, the agency which enforces the Endangered Species Act, to design acceptable management policies. Since control was turned over to Wyoming in late August there have been a lot of false statements about Wyoming’s wolf policies. So here are the facts I gathered in an interview with a representative of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

As of December 2011 Wyoming is home to 48 separate wolf packs, 36 of which are outside of Yellowstone National Park, with at least 27 breeding pairs and 19 of those are also located outside of YNP. The state has a total of 328 wolves with only 104 of those being found in the park. These numbers may seem low but they are actually good considering 1) Wyoming is on the fringe of the wolf reintroduction areas and 2) we are dealing with a carnivore, carnivore levels are stable at much lower number than prey species.

Wolf hunting has strict guidelines and is only allowed in certain zones. In fact the wolf hunting areas comprise less than 1/4 of the state and can be seen in the maps below. There is a strict quota system in place which splits the hunting are into different zones and once quotas are met the season closes. The zones with the highest wolf populations are only allocated a quota of 8 wolves while others are only allowed 1-2 wolves and any wolves killed must have their skulls and pelt presented to the WGFD for verification and study purposes within 24 hours of the kill. All together the total number of wolves on quota are 47 individuals, out of a total population of 328 individuals this means less than 15% of the total population can be harvested. One addition I might add here to help the reader understand how insignificant this number is has to do with how populations are surveyed. Based off my time as a Wildlife Ecology and Management student I can say that most population surveys count only adult animals. Thus the number of 328 most likely does not include the juvenile wolves.

Wolf Trophy Game Management Area Boundaries

Several anti-hunting groups have made remarks that wolves are now going to be slaughtered without restriction, dens are going to be gassed to kill pups, and a bounty has been placed on all wolf pelts to encourage the slaughter. After my interview with the WGFD I can now set the record straight. I was assured that there is no bounty on dead wolves and that the gassing of dens is highly illegal. While some may try to do this anyone caught will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. As for simple slaughtering of wolves there is some truth to their claims although as usual the details have been sensationalized and the truth has been disregarded. According to the WGFD any wolf outside of the hunting zones and YNP can be considered predatory and may be shot as such. However populations are so low outside of the YNP and hunting zones that they believe very few will ever be seen let alone shot at. If any predatory wolves are killed they must be reported to the WGFD within 10 days.

The bottom line is wolves are not in any danger here. They are a vital part of the ecosystem and our state game agencies intend to manage  them in a way that promotes the overall health of wolves and their habitat, including prey species. There is no need to sensationalize the story and claim the wolves are going to be extirpated again, to do so would be simply crying wolf. I apologize but I could not resist that last remark.

Additional Information and Direct Links to wolf regulations in Wyoming:

http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/wildlife-1000380.aspx

http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/Departments/Hunting/pdfs/REGULATIONS_CH470002742.pdf

http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/Departments/Hunting/pdfs/REGULATIONS_CH210002741.pdf

Hunter-Conservationists: The Driving Force Behind Wildlife Conservation

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This weeks topic may be a little controversial as I am about to take a firm stand on an issue which often divides wildlife lovers. On the one side we find the preservationists, those like John Muir and the Sierra Club, who believe wildlife and nature should be left alone. Then on the other side you find conservationists, like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and myself, who believe in a hands-on approach to wildlife management. This approach is the main method used by wildlife agencies around the world and involves the concept of sustainable use: this being ecotourism activities, the biggest of which is hunting/fishing.

The truth is, the original conservation movement was started by hunters. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of this great nation, was an avid hunter and naturalist. During his term as President he created a little over 50 wildlife refuges in America including Pelican Island in Florida and Tongass in Alaska (PBS). He was also a founding member of the Boone and Crockett Club as well as a member of the New York Zoological Society which is now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society.

However there is one other great American hero of conservation that may out shine even Roosevelt. Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, was an avid conservationist, hunter, and political cartoonists (one of which is posted below this paragraph). In 1934 he was asked by Franklin D. Roosevelt, as an effort to stifle his criticism of FDR’s administration, to head the U.S. Biological Survey, which would one day become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Ding). One of his biggest actions as such was the hosting of a massive meeting of conservationists, firearms manufacturers, and hunters. Out of this great meeting came conservation landmarks such as the duck stamp and the Pittman Robertson Act. These two actions are essentially self imposed taxes on hunters and hunting equipment set aside to pay for conservation efforts. These two pieces of legislation can very well take credit for the amazing restoration of North America’s wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Outside of  the U.S. we find this same phenomena of hunters being the root of conservation. No other place is this more evident than in Africa. Like North America hunters were originally the bad guys. By 1900 unrestricted hunting had already caused the extinction of two species: the blue buck, Hippotragus leucophæus, and the quagga, Equus quagga quagga. However, just like in the U.S. hunters were the first to realize the damage they were causing and changed their ways. Many hunters, ranchers and conservationists started converting land from agriculture to wildlife and worked to create national reserves such as the Kruger National Park. Now in Africa the mentality is “if it pays it stays”. While this may not be as altruistic as the North American version of conservation it is effective none the less.

Currently wildlife and hunting can bring large sums of money to otherwise poor areas as well as a constant flow of red meat. As can be seen in the picture below nothing goes to waste. This provides incentive for both land owners and local people to tolerate wild animals and the damage they can do to crops and property, as well as livestock predation from carnivores. In Sub-Saharan Africa the major trend for wildlife species has been increases in numbers. This is due in large part to the massive trophy hunting industry since as I stated before the trophy hunting industry provides monetary incentives to tolerate wildlife as well as providing funds to pay for anti-poaching efforts. However, as an alternative the country of Kenya closed to hunting in the mid ’70s and his since then seen drastic decreases in its wildlife populations. Probably the biggest contributor to this decline is rampant poaching and a lack of anti-poaching efforts.

It is thanks to conservation minded hunters that we all enjoy the amazing abundance of wildlife  which we have today. If not for them there would not have been enough funding or motivation to protect our treasured wildlife or to protect and restore habitat. This has been a very general overview of the topic however you can trust that over the next couple of weeks I will dive deeper into this subject.

References:

Ding Darling Society. http://www.dingdarlingsociety.org/who-is-j-n-ding-darling

PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/tr-environment/

Saltwater Crocodiles: Should limited hunting be allowed?

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It has come to my attention recently that Australia is considering the idea of opening trophy hunting for 50 saltwater crocodiles a year for a two year trial period. As such I have decided to take a temporary break from my Africa theme. Whether this proposal will pass remains to be seen but I can see this being a very interesting, and likely controversial, topic to follow once the public starts sharing their opinions. The most important opinion, that of the local Aborigines, is unknown. The majority of saltwater crocodiles are found on Aboriginal land so it is important that wildlife officials discuss their proposal with the local people before moving forward with this.

However, some groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have already spoken out against this as being inhumane and needless killing.

“There is no possible conservation benefit to be derived from the killing of crocodiles for      trophies, nor does it provide a means of controlling problem crocodiles,” said RSPCA Australia chief scientist Bidda Jones..

But what are the facts on saltwater crocodiles and this issue of hunting crocodiles in Australia?

Remnants of the dinosaurs this particular species of crocodile can be found in the more tropical, northern regions of Australia. These are some of the largest crocodiles in the world with record sizes of 7 meters in length and nearly one ton in weight, although average crocodiles measure 5 meters and weigh in around 1,000 pounds (National Geographic). They also have  a peculiar habit of leaping out of the water, just a little fun fact for you.

As for conservation of the species they have been protected since the 1970s when they were nearly wiped out due to the value of their skins in fashion (Oz Magic). Now, after roughly 40 years of protection their numbers are estimated between 200,000 and 300,000 individuals worldwide (National Geographic) with nearly 150,000 of those in Australia (The Telegraph). Numbers are so high that Australia’s current management plan has 500 crocodiles culled each year as a sustainable quota.

The 50 individuals to be hunted are to be taken as part of the 500 already on quota, thus there will not be any additional impact on crocodile numbers. However, these 50 would benefit conservation by providing funds for further conservation efforts and bringing jobs to rural areas. So in my opinion this is a no brainer. If the 50 allocated are already marked to be culled why not let the wildlife departments and local communities benefit from it?

References:

National Geographic-    http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/saltwater-crocodile/

Oz Magic-    http://ozmagic.homestead.com/australiansaltwatercrocodiles.html

The Telegraph-    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9330981/Australia-considers-crocodile-trophy-hunting-plan.html

African Elephants: The price of preservation

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I recently returned from a study abroad trip to South Africa focused on wildlife conservation and as such many of the upcoming topics will be focused on conservation in Africa. The trip was  incredible and as students we were allowed  interact more with Africa’s amazing wildlife than most tourists. We also had the opportunity to speak with some of Africa’s leading experts in wildlife and wildlife management. One topic they kept returning to was the elephant, Loxodonta africana, problem in South Africa.

Although elephants were once decimated by uncontrolled hunting and poaching, they have managed to recover quite successfully in southern Africa. According to the IUCN’s elephant specialist group southern Africa was home to roughly 320,000 elephants in 2007 (IUCN). Although they also stated 15,000 were recruited, generally recruited means they have reached breeding age, into the population in 2006 alone. Given this it is reasonable to assume a current population for southern Africa around 400,000 or more, and according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service there is an estimated 600,000 elephants across the entire continent of Africa (USFWS). One of our lecturers on the subject of elephants, Ralf Kalwa- retired after nearly 30 years of working in Kruger National Park, informed us that when Kruger was first established in the early 1900’s there were only 12 elephants in the park. Now the park holds an estimated 13,050 elephants according to a recent survey by Dr. Ian Whyte (Kruger).

At first glance this seems like a major success. However there is a darker side to elephant conservation in that too many elephants are a problem for the environment. As our lectures on elephants were focused on South Africa, and particularly Kruger, I will stick to this area for the discussion. While Kruger may have 13,000 elephants it originally could only sustain 7,000 elephants. Back in the day this was not a problem as park officials were able to maintain the parks elephant population at this level through translocation and culling of excess elephants. Then in the 1980s things got out of hand.

Elephant numbers started to become a problem in the 80s after parks officials were told they cold no longer cull elephants. Culling means removing excess animals by lethal means. Preservationist groups, which believe in hands off management of wildlife and as such are against killing as well, were behind this change. This left only translocation as a method of controlling elephant numbers. But suitable habitat is limited and Kruger has now run out of space to move their elephants to. As such, elephants have exceeded the carrying capacity of the park and are now destroying large areas through over feeding. We visited one reserve which had dropped its fences with Kruger only 18 months prior to our visit and found that the elephants had already destroyed nearly 25% of its trees, particularly marula, Sclerocarya birrea, and knob thorn acacia, Acacia nigrescens.

If nothing is done to prevent this destruction elephants may soon push their environment to far. Many experts we spoke to predict a population crash will soon take place in which 90% or more of Kruger’s elephants will be lost, not to mention all the other species affected by the habitat loss associated with elephant overpopulation. Elephant are magnificent creatures and something must be done to stop this. In order to prevent this disaster control must be taken back from the preservationist groups and returned to the wildlife experts so that they may practice proper, science based conservation techniques.

End Note: If anyone can provide more recent data on elephants from a reliable source such as IUCN or CITES please leave a comment here or send a link to okie_archer@hotmail.com.

References:

  • IUCN Species Survival Commission: Elephant Specialist Group. http://www.african-elephant.org/aed/pdfs/aesr2007s.pdf
  • Kruger Park Wildlife Encounters http://krugerparkencounters.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/elephant-census-proves-positive/
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/international/DIC/species/afe/afe_facts_current_cons.html

The Big Bad Wolf: Societal Views and Modern Conservation

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As this will be my last post before I leave for three weeks in Africa I wanted to hit another North American conservation issue which has interested me since I was little.

I have always been interested in the discrepancies in the way people view wild dogs and wild cats. All through history people have wanted to compare themselves to large, wild cats, Richard the Lionheart for example, as a sign of power, strength, bravery, etc…. However wild dogs are demonized, the big bad wolf. In an effort to protect cattle and deer this ideology led to the eradication of wolves from the lower 48 states.

Even some of the leading biologists of the time believed wolves needed to be eradicated to boost the number of deer. Aldo Leopold himself, the father of wildlife management, at one point bought into this belief. However, large canids such as wolves are necessary for a healthy ecosystem. In his short story, Thinking Like a Mountain, Leopold describes the moment he realized this idea was wrong.

“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. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. 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.”- Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like a Mountain

Wolves were one of the first species listed after the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. While the ESA called for a recovery plan of all listed species, wolf recovery did not begin until the 1980s. In 1982 gray wolves, Canis lupus, after 50 years of absence were reintroduced to the Rocky Mountain area (Smith). A second round of reintroductions started in 1995 for central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. The original restoration plan called for the establishment of 3o or more breeding pairs and 300 or more individual wolves amongst the three areas (Smith).

Recovery efforts have been very successful. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service there are an estimated 6,100 gray wolves in the lower 48 (FWS). As a side note there are anywhere from 7,700 to 11,200 gray wolves in Alaska, but this population was never classified as endangered like the wolves from the lower 48.

With the successful recovery, management of wolves has once again been handed over to state wildlife agencies. This has caused a considerable amount of controversy though. Most states are enacting wolf hunting seasons, which has many in an uproar. This concern is valid as hunting by humans caused the original extirpation of wolves.

However, the original persecution of wolves took place in a time when many states did not have legitimate game departments or laws concerning wolves. In those days wolves were accepted as vermin and it was considered a responsible citizens duty to shoot them if possible. Modern conservation on the other hand employs scientifically based quotas or bag limits to protect species from over harvesting.

I firmly believe that regulated hunting is necessary. This is due to the effect wolves have had on elk populations. Just in the central Idaho region before wolf reintroductions there were  16,000 elk. Now the elk have been knocked down to 4,000. However let us not jump to conclusions and blame only the wolves. The decline is mainly due to one particularly harsh winter in which an estimated 8,000 elk were lost. The problem is, that with current wolf populations the elk have not been able to bounce back. Hunting is necessary to correct the balance. Quotas must be set to reduce the wolves low enough to allow elk recovery without threatening the over all survival of the wolves as well.

As humans have interrupted the natural order it is our responsibility to maintain the balance. When wolves are too plentiful deer and elk numbers plummet. But when wolves are scarce or absent deer and elk destroy the local vegetation which leads to their own starvation. A final word from Leopold to end this post:

“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. 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 range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.”

References

Leopold, Aldo. “Thinking Like A Mountain.” Sand County Almanac.

Smith, Douglas et al. “Survival of Colonizing Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains of   the United States, 1982-2004.” Journal of Wildlife Management. 74 (2010): 620-634.

US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). “Gray Wolf Current Population in the United States.” http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/aboutwolves/WolfPopUS.htm

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