The Future of the Mexican Gray Wolf

"Hugh Walker grew up in Shageluk, on the Innoko River in Alaska. A native American, he has a degree in social work at the University of Alaska. He tells a story his father told him. In the 1960s his father and his uncle were shooting wolves from airplanes, hoping to collect bounties and sell the furs. One winter day, he said, after following wolf tracks, his father and his uncle herded a pack of wolves out of the forest and into the open on a valley floor. Says Walker, 'The wolves were heading for the timber and they got almost halfway over and realized the plane was going to catch them. They turned around and faced the plane and were jumping off the ground at it. Over the sound of the engine, my father and my uncle could hear the wolves barking and snapping. They were barking and screaming because they knew it was over. My uncle did shoot them. But from that day, they could not do that any more. They didn't have the stomach for it any more after that.'" From the book The Company of Wolves by Peter Seinhart

Wolf Recovery

To deal adequately with wolves, we have to overcome our long history of estrangement. North American culture, being a forest culture, has an innate sense of 'good land' embracing deep shade and groves of trees. Wolves do not necessarily need thick forest and lots of precipitation to be successful populations. As more is learned about the wolf, the increasingly urbanized public continues to favor wolf recovery. Even though illegal 'taking' of wolves persists in some areas of North America and Europe, it has not been sufficient enough to prevent wolf population growth. Although as wolves move into agricultural areas, conflicts with humans greatly increase and the US. Department of Agriculture and Animal Damage Control Programs (and individual ranchers and farmers) will retaliate by killing the accused stealers. There is a distinct danger of public backlash. Not only will wolves in semi-agricultural areas take increasing numbers of livestock and incur the wrath of the livestock industry, which often has strong political support, but they will also kill household pets. With natural habitat in so many areas greatly fragmented and wolves adapting to travel through relatively settled and open areas, some disjunct wolf populations are developing where wolves can live without causing livestock damages. Wolf management zoning is a definite part of wolf recovery. [Mech, 1995] Because of the wolf's high reproductive rate, and long dispersal tendencies, the animal can successfully re-colonize many more areas. The use of large or small- scale zoning for wolf management may help resolve the issue. Public education is probably the most effective way to minimize the problem and maximize recovery.

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