Give a standing ovation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a recent decision to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in the western Great Lakes region, an area encompassing Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and some parts of neighboring states.
In an effort to restore native species some years back, the Service allowed the introduction of wolves to many areas of the country with little thought to the far-reaching effects a long-absent primary wilderness predator in a modern world would bring about.
In many states where an unchecked number of wolf packs have become nothing short of dangerously destructive to formally healthy herds of other animals such as elk and deer, the food chain is becoming unbalanced and costly.
Do-gooders with political clout and emotional backing continue to herald the growing number of wolves as a really cool thing while wildlife officials with actual scientific management experience are left out in the cold on matters of common sense and predator-prey balance.
The result has been a remarkable growth of wolf numbers, and an equally remarkable reduction of other wildlife species. Of course farmers also lose stock to wolves, just as Ohio farmers loose stock to unchecked coyotes in more populated, semi-rural areas.
It’s always a mess when wildlife management is determined in a courtroom or at the public ballot box instead of by educated wildlife professionals.
For many years, the Fish and Wildlife Service was stymied by an unfounded idea that the wolves in the Great Lakes region were of two separate but similar sub-species causing concern that any sort of management of the increasing problems might affect the wrong group of wolves.
Scientific evidence proved that theory wrong by proving that all wolves of the region are indeed of the same species. The removal of the wolves from the ESA will place the huge, problematic predators under the management of the wildlife departments of each state.
The result will be limited hunting seasons, the only reasonable method of controlling wolves or any large wildlife species. Of course, it will also bring courtroom-bound do-gooders to the footstep of sympathetic judges and emotional voters asking them to protect wolves.
Hopefully, common sense will prevail but don’t count on it.