The argument presented in Friday’s “Recovered wolves run rampant against farmers” was far too simplistic and omitted several important points.
Predation of livestock is not a new problem. Anyone interested should read up on the “historical compensation” referenced in the article, specifically the large-scale government-funded poisoning programs and the ecological fall-out that followed.
There is also significant research that supports increased livestock predation with targeted hunting of predators, including an article on mountain lions published in the Daily Evergreen earlier this year.
Conclusions made in the article, including “more wolves mean less food, causing wolves to feed on livestock” and “wolf populations [have] grown so large that it has begun to negatively impact caribou herds” fail to fully represent the complexity of the issue, excluding other important factors such as habitat loss, behavior and reproduction rates.
Finally, the tone of the article frames the rancher as a victim. As a previous federal employee and range scientist, I know firsthand how much federal aid ranchers receive and it’s not trivial. Ranching is still a hard life, but I disagree that giving ranchers the right to kill and some extra cash will fix their woes.
Instead, we as a nation need to re-evaluate our “cheap food” expectations, our demand for meat with every meal, and start paying for our steaks like we actually value all the hard work that went in to producing them.
Grad Student, Plant Pathology