By Steve Mueller
Wildlife has made headlines for three species this week. Rhinoceros populations have been eliminated from a wildlife preserve by illegal poaching because people want horns for aphrodisiacs. Elephant populations in parts of Africa have been reduced 50 percent by poaching for ivory. Wolves in the United States are posed to lose protected status across the U.S., including Michigan.
Many know that wolf protection on public lands in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem was already removed outside the national park. The wolf population suffered greatly as a result. Yellowstone National Park’s signature pack that was radio-collared and studied for years was killed because the park is too small and wolves must also use the surrounding national forest. An important wolf food is elk. The elk population during the 20th century grew excessively because of wolf elimination in the early 1900s. It reduced biodiversity and the natural checks and balances. Too many elk removed vegetation that supported many other animal species.
Wolf established in the Yellowstone during the 1990s reduced the elk population and it allowed species like beavers to repopulate because aspen grew. Beaver activity created wetlands and other animal species were able to reestablish. When wolves have the opportunity, they kill and eat beavers and other animals. That also keeps those species from becoming too abundant.
What naturally keeps a wolf population from becoming excessively large? Primarily it is food availability. When hunting is poor, wolves die and prey populations’ recover. Many people would like to see all species live without difficulty or death. This is not realistic in the physical world. Human religious views supports this idea so we look forward to life after death with no limitations on longevity and no need for food, water, shelter, or living space after physical death. More....