Thursday, January 9, 2020

Reintroducing Wolves Is A Dumb Idea

Having to take a science class was a requirement for a degree when I attended college back in 1981. I decided to take an ecology course to fulfill my needs. I  had a great teacher who I found out later specialized in reptiles. He was a wonderful teacher because he was very sensible about the subject. Yes, even back then there were crazies who were extremist. Thankfully, he wasn't one of them.

The last thing that I wanted to do was sit through a class where the teacher was some sort of environmentalist nutcase who wants to rid the earth of people just to save a species of fish that's not even supposed to be where its been found. And yes, they are among us. Yes, especially here in California where farmers were once denied precious water for their crops -- just to keep a few fish alive.

In fact, one of the things that my teacher stressed was how vulnerable ecosystems are in a constant fight against invasive species. I remember him saying how it's taking place all over the globe on a continual basis. I also remember how invasive species are a huge problem.

From what I gather, nothing has changed. Either through accident or by design, non-native plants spread like wildfire in areas that nature did not put them in the first place. The same goes for animals. Many have been introduced and even reintroduced into environments by accident and by design -- yes, on purpose. Many of those animals should not be there. 

Take for example rats. In most places around the world where rats were not present, they are today. Most were introduced by accident. Most were introduced by way of ships arriving at their seaports. Rats are an invasive species. How long ago has this being taking place? Well, that started when the first ships took to the sea. And while all sorts of precautions have been taken place to stop the spread of rats, most efforts have been unsuccessful.

If I remember what I was told, because their spread has been taking place over a few thousand years, rats are the most invasive species of animal around the world. Because of this, rats leaving ships have indirectly caused the extinction of many species. Remember, this is by accidentally introducing rats to areas where rats were not there. It being accidental is the thing to remember here. 

And no, if you're wondering, rats are not native to North America. It is believed that rats were accidentally introduced into North America in the late 1600's, although some say 1700's. And now, they are everywhere. Rats will eat anything including eggs, chickens, vegetables, garbage, you name it. While rats are found in rural America, their population is mainly located in filthy cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Boston, and Atlanta where they thrive on the filth. They are in the sewers, in buildings, slums, and ghettos of almost every city in the world.

There's an urban legend that says the rat population in New York City is equal to that of its human population. While I don't know if that's true, it sure may be the case in San Francisco and Los Angeles where the homeless population has exploded. And with it, the filth and sanitation problems associated with that. And as we all know, they eat garbage and spread disease -- such as the bubonic plague, Lassa fever, leptospirosis, and Hantavirus infection.

Rats are omnivorous, very capable of eating all sorts of plants and animal feeds. Rats attacking grain storage on farms and ranches is a huge problem. As for their climbing trees and eating chicks in their nests, when introduced to a new area, they quickly reproduce to take advantage of the new food supply including preying on bird eggs and chicks.

Because of the destructive effect, and their very high birth rate, rats have contributed to the extinction of many native species, including birds, small mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants. That's especially true on islands where there are no predators. And by the way, rats are smart enough to avoid being killed, caught, or eaten.

Here's something to think about. Contrary to what some environmentalists say when inflating the effects of the hoax known as Climate Change, experts agree that rats are to blame for up to sixty percent of all seabird and reptile extinctions. Again, remember, this was all caused through an invasive species being accidentally introduced to areas where rats were not there. Accidental is the thing to remember because there are those who have introduced invasive species because someone wanted to do so. Yes, on purpose.

They Should Be Shot On Sight

Accidental is one thing, but let's take a look at introducing an invasive species on purpose -- all while not realizing the adverse effects of what can take place. Take for example the nutria. Those huge rodent like critters were initially brought into the United States from South America for their fur in the 1930s. They ended up flourishing in the wild and have grown out of control in Louisiana after they were released into the wild when the fur industry died out there.

In Louisiana, they are simply called "swamp rats" because of their looks. But they are not really rats. They are just a distant cousin of the rat. In fact, nutria don’t look like rats with long tails and orange buck teeth. To me, they look more like beavers, but they certainly breed like rats. Female nutria give birth to litters of up to 14 young before going back into heat just two days later. 

Federal wildlife officials say "there’s no hope of eradicating nutria from Louisiana." And because of their habit of endlessly digging on the banks of rivers and other waterways, they are known to cause soil to erosion while destroying native habitats for everything from muskrats to crabs. Yes, all while ripping up native species of plants by the roots. Because of their destruction, it's said that coastal restoration projects involve planting vegetation to stabilize marshland requires nutria control to be a success.

Then there's the European starlings. Native to Europe, Asia and Northern Africa, European starlings are little birds that travel in huge flocks that are known to wreak all sorts of havoc on farms and ranches across our nation. These are pests that were purposely introduced here. Yes, they are an invasive species that we introduced on purpose. Again, not understanding what harm can come for making such a decision.

Imagine this, it is reported that "every year, the Agriculture Department’s division of Wildlife Service's kills 4 million animals identified by residents across the country as a nuisance, and European starlings are the number one targeted nuisance." For me, the term "nuisance" doesn't quite cover the harm they do -- or the huge costs incurred by farms and ranches to deal with the problems they create. 

The huge flocks that the European starlings form are impressive with more than 3,000 birds in a flock at one time. Because of that, their flocks resemble small black clouds. They feed on fruit and grains, and cause serious damage to a farm. Starlings are known to enter buildings to roost and build nests which create sanitation problems. Starling scat carries Histoplasma capsulatum, an infectious fungus for humans, as well as at least three human-pathogenic bacteria and salmonella. Beside health problems to people, European starlings are known to carry diseases that are also transmissible to livestock. This includes TGE (transmissible gastroenteritis) which is a swine disease, blastomycosis, and salmonella.

As for starlings descending on farms and ranches, they in fact point their beaks at the ground and swarm feeding cattle and horses and steal their feed. Besides that, they are known to take over other birds' nests, which means native birds are left without a place to lay their eggs or raise their chicks. And also, these birds are very aggressive as they are well known to fight over food and territory. Believe it or not, they do that by preventing cattle and horses from eating by needling and harassing livestock to keep them away from their feed. Fact is, starlings are one of the more omnivorous bird species, as they eat feeds, seeds in freshly planted fields, fruits, invertebrates, and even human leftover foods.

Why were they purposely introduced? Believe it or not, European starlings were brought here by people who thought they would help control crop pests. They were also brought here as pets. And believe it or not, one man is said to be responsible for introducing these nasty birds -- all because they were mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. Yes, they were introduced in the United States by a Shakespeare fan in 1890.

Talk about the act of a fool. In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin was a fan of Shakespeare. He read about starlings in Henry IV, and became inspired to bring some of the birds to America. He is known to have brought sixty European starlings to New York City and released them in Central Park.

Did he achieve his mission? Well, with a population today of about 200 million, European starlings are an invasive species completely out of control. In fact, they are now listed among the top 100 invasive species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And frankly, especially because of huge expense of dealing with their negative effect on farms, ranches, orchards, and even wineries, they should be shot on sight. And please don't kid yourself, invasive species like the European starling in the United States inflicts billions of dollars in loss and damages annually. Yes, especially on agriculture which can least afford it.

So now, let's talk about feral hogs, a species not native to America that was purposely introduced for food. As I stated in my post Let's Talk About Feral Hogs -- They Should Be Shot, while they were first brought to the United States in the 1500s by early explorers and settlers as a source of food, according to the USDA, "free-range livestock management practices and escapes from enclosures led to the first establishment of feral swine populations within the United States."

To make matters worse, back in the early 1900s, the Eurasian or Russian wild boar was introduced into parts of the United States for sport hunting. Because they did not have a predator as they did in  Russia, those now feral hogs are loose to breed. Between them and domestic hogs, there are hybrids which are taking over. They are in more than 40 states and their population is estimated at over 6 million -- and growing rapidly.

Remember, they have no natural predators here. And to complicate matters, urban sprawl has meant that feral hogs once hunted in the unincorporated areas are now in city limits. As with deer hunting in some places, since there is no hunting within city limits, nevertheless discharge of firearms within city limits in most cities, they are running rampant. And to make matters worse, the federal government brought in all sorts of control restrictions since the 1960s.

While some jurisdictions actually encourage feral hog hunting, others say no to hunting and trapping to the tune of large fines and even the possibility of jail time. As for using humane approaches, it's proven that they don't work. They need to be exterminated.

Feral hogs damage pastures, ruin crop land, destroy hay and irrigation. Feral hogs can transmit pathogens to livestock, kill calves and lambs, and vulnerable adult animals during the birthing process. Feral swine may also eat or contaminate livestock feed, mineral supplements, and water sources. The expense that farmers and ranchers is something they don't need when they are already fighting to stay afloat. And don't kid yourself, the financial losses to farmers and livestock producers due to lower productivity, veterinary costs, or mortality are huge.

So now, with this their numbers are growing in leaps and bounds. To address the problem, the answer from environmentalists is to bring in predators that are not native species. Yes, bring in a predator species that is not a native species to address another non-native species. You see where we're going here?

Reintroducing Wolves Is A Dumb Idea! 

Well-meaning environmentalist screw with the natural balance of ecosystems when they purposely introduce an invasive species. Of course others have to deal with the havoc they wreak on native species when environmentalists introduce species where they weren't meant to be in today's world. Keys words, in today's world.

Take for example the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves as predators to decrease the feral hog population in the southern United States. This is one of those dumb ideas. As we stated, one of the most notorious invasive species is the feral hog. In Texas, the hog populations cause ecological and agricultural damage that costs the state $52 million annually.

Gray wolves have been reintroduced into feral hog habitats. The problem has to do with today's world. Use of the Mexican grey wolf for feral hog population control has had very little success. One key reason is that the wolves have found much easier prey than the feral hogs which they were supposed to go after. From pets to livestock, grey wolves have found them a lot more defenseless than feral hogs and their razor-sharp tusks. 

A Dumber Idea! 

While this is an effort to control feral hogs, there are environmentalists who simply want to play God and reintroduce species into areas where they have been eradicated. The willingness of environmentalists to play God is actually causing the decline of native animals and livestock while putting human health and economies at risk. And by the way, for some reason, environmentalists don't understand why some species were weeded out. As with the wolf, they caused more harm than good on once dwindling native species, livestock and local economies. It's a dumb idea that environmentalist are too proud to say hasn't worked.

For example, there's no good reason to reintroduce the wolf into Yellowstone National Park. The global grey wolf population is estimated to be 300,000, so it's obvious that they are not on the brink of extinction. Canada is said to have over 60,000 wolves. And here in the United States, we have a population of at least 18,000 wolves.

Back in the 1880s, there was an effort to control the numbers of wolves in that area simply because they were killing precious livestock and game animals. Away from the economics of the loss of livestock, we're talking about the loss of food for people. By 1914, the federal government was working to completely remove wolves from Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding states. By 1927, while not completely eradicated, a large number of wolves were removed from Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana.

In the 1960s, environmentalists introduced wolf reintroduction to the federal government with the belief that the reintroduction of natural predators would help to "stabilize" the number of native species the region. By 1973, the Federal Endangered Species Act reinforced the clout of the environmentalist to get their way. State laws passed by politicians beholding to environmentalist groups only helped the effort to play God.

The reasoning on the part of environmentalists is three fold?

First, they wanted to reduce the number of "grazing game animals." Because of the hunting activities of wolves, environmentalists figured they would reduce the number of elk, deer, moose, buffalo, and such. They did this because they saw elk, deer, moose, bison, and such detrimental to tree and grass growth. They really believed that by killing off elk, deer, moose, bison, and such, so that more birds would populate the region.

This is called playing God at the height of the stupidity. And no, no one taking the money from the environmental groups bothered to mention how hard Americans worked to bring back elk, deer, moose, and bison from their decline in the 1800's.

Second, environmentalists saw reintroducing wolves as a way to make money! It's called "ecotourism," and environmentalists believed they could boost ecotourism by getting the National Park Service to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park as well as other regions.

Environmentalists pitched the idea that the reintroduction of wolves would be nothing less than an attraction that would draw more visitors to Yellowstone. The promise was that you too could see wolves in the wild, no matter what adverse affect they had on the native species that were thriving after years of decline. And by the way, the park service bought it hook line and sinker.

Did the environmentalists do this to get people into parks? No, they did it to garner more donors who saw their misplaced plans of reintroducing wolves as a wonderful. And it worked, it is belived that over 150,000 people from around the world go to Yellowstone National Park each year specifically for the wolf population. With that, the coffers of environmentalist groups have filled while at the same time more people have gone to the park and surrounding area to see wolves devouring a moose, a bison, a calf that was moments before feeding on a mama cow.

Wolf-watching tours makes millions of dollars for environmentalists. But they won't tell you that. They will say they wanted to reintroduce wolves because of the ecological impact on the native grasses. They will tell you that wolves help provide a balance to local ecosystems. They will tell you that one of the grazing herds in that region actually totaled more than 35,000 animals after wolves were almost eliminated from Yellowstone National Park. But that's a lie.

In fact, after being introduced in Yellowstone in 1995, the elk population in the park which was 21,000, is today less than 1,000. And of course, they will not tell you that the moose population in the Yellowstone region is in drastic decline as a result of the estimated 528 wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as of 2015.

And in today's world, they have no care what wolves do to livestock producers. Of course, they will assure us that there are controls in place to prevent livestock losses -- but their attempt to control what wolves kill is laughable at best. And frankly, the most insulting lie is that wolves don't go after livestock when they are hungry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims that wolves killed over 4,300 cattle in 2015 in the Northern Rocky Mountains. And image this, environmentalists argue that domestic dogs kill 100% more livestock than wolves do. It's this sort of false claim that demonstrates what measures environmentalists will go to in an effort to justify reintroducing an invasive species.

And How About Wolf Attacks?

As for wolf attacking livestock, this happens. And in some cases, the livestock is not killed and eaten but only mauled. Some cattle perish from a lethal mix of injuries and the stress of being chased by wolves. Some cattle have to be put down because there's simply no saving the animal after such a vicious wolf attack. And sadly, ranchers are on their own against wolves who prey on their livelihood with no means to stop them since in many places the law is not on their side.

As for attacking people, they happen more than most realize. Take for example what happened to a family camping in a Canada national park in August of 2019. That was when an American family, the Rispoli family, visiting Canada was camping in one of Canada's national parks in Banff National Park in Alberta and a wolf attacked them in the middle of the night. Fortunately for them, another camper in a nearby tent helped fight off the wolf -- while the family of four was able to flee.

Mrs. Rispoli recounted the terrifying incident on Facebook. She wrote "It was like something out of a horror movie. Matt literally threw his body in front of me and the two boys, and fought the wolf as it ripped apart our tent and his arms and hands."

And when I hear wolf fans say that there hasn't been a wolf killing anyone in the United States for a hundred years, I can't help but wonder what the family of Candice Berner think about that.

At approximately 6:00 p.m., on March 8th, 2010, the body of Candice Berner was found next to a snow-covered road approximately two miles from the community of Chignik Lake, Alaska. The state of Alaska determined Ms. Berner’s death was not the result of a criminal act, but instead she was killed by wolves.

In fact, a state of Alaska Medical Examiner determined that "Ms. Berner died from multiple injuries due to animal mauling. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and the DPS Alaska State Troopers (AST) then evaluated both the physical evidence and the eyewitness testimony of Chignik Lake residents. The investigators concluded that Ms. Berner was attacked and killed by wolves.  A joint action to lethally collect wolves from the immediate area was undertaken by the two departments to address public safety concerns and to investigate biological factors that may have contributed to the attack. Genetic analysis of samples taken from the victim’s clothing and from wolves killed in the lethal removal action positively identified one wolf and implicated others in the attack." 

No matter how the environmentalist tried to spin what took place, wolves killed Ms. Berner and they attack people, livestock, and pets. They refuse to accept the fact, or don't care, that reintroducing wolves has a detrimental impact on agricultural economies, farmers and ranchers suffer. They also refuse to acknowledge that wolf relocation is a huge expense to taxpayers, wolves can harm the livelihoods of people in regions where they are present, and wolves also attack people and pets. And while environmentalists want to make excuses for wolf attacks on humans, it is a real danger that should be taken under consideration when reintroducing such predators. 

Sadly, even though there is evidence of multiple attacks on people taking place in the United States and Canada, there are those who say anyone attacked by wolves must be at fault. Thus the mindset of environmentalists.  

Tom Correa

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