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The word "wolf" conjures up a host of images, most of them frightening.  From the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign ad to the children's tale "Little Red Riding Hood" to films like The Day After Tomorrow and the upcoming The Wolfman, our culture uses wolves to frighten us.  But history suggests wolves have more to fear from us than we do from them.  They are an essential part of our natural world, and may help cool our planet.

More below the fold....

DK GreenRoots - Wolves and Predators

Note: Thanks to organizing efforts by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse and Land of Enchantment, and with support by Meteor Blades, this is DK GreenRoots week, with diarists and series asked to look at environmental issues.  Here at Morning Feature, we're both privileged and pleased to join in that effort.  Today we'll look at the plight and promise of the grey wolf, and tomorrow and Saturday we'll explore the carbon footprint of mass transportation.  A list of recent and upcoming GreenRoots diaries, and an invitation to join the DK GreenRoots campaign, are at the end of today's diary.

This past May, wolves were taken off the endangered species list.

"We have recovered a wolf population," said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, based in Montana.

"The populations are viable, they are in great shape, they have extreme genetic diversity and so the endangered species act did its job to bring wolves back."

Once nearly extinct in the lower 48 states, grey wolf populations now top 4,000 in the Great Lakes region and more than 1,300 in the Rocky Mountain region.  Estimates for Alaska range from 8,000-11,000.  It is among the signal successes of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, and the presence of wolves may be helping revive forests in Yellowstone National Park.  As forests are our planet's lungs, scrubbing carbon from the air, that would seem to be a win-win outcome.

Predators and prey.

But some ranchers disagree:

"They can have as many wolves as they want in Alaska, Canada, Yellowstone Park, but don't bring them to the Svenson ranch, they're not needed here," said Sven Svenson.

He's a man who's running out of ideas and running out of ways to stop more of his animals from being killed by wolves on 10,000 acres of grazing land. "I've lost with the ones we just looked at this makes 27 head," said Svenson. "I'm sure there's stuff I haven't found yet. I won't know until I get a count in February."

While the state of Montana reimburses Svenson for livestock lost to wolf predation - the story's claim that the reimbursement fund is depleted was refuted - some say that's not enough.  Perhaps it's the common impulse to "solve a problem once and for all," or our culture's demonization of the species, but some ranchers want the wolves gone, dead, period.

Some ranchers, but not all.

"In the grass business."

Jael Kampfe is a fourth-generation rancher in Montana.

"My grandfather taught me to think of myself as being in the grass business instead of the cattle business," Kampfe says[.] "The better you treat the land, the better it will treat you."

That attitude led Kampfe to focus on sustainability rather than convenience, with practices ranging from pasture rotation to prevent overgrazing, to taking advantage of the Bailey Wildlife Foundation Proactive Carnivore Conservation Fund's offer of "range riders" to stay with the herds through the summer and deter predators.

It's hardly a new idea.  "Range riders" is simply a new name for the longtime roles of cowboys and shepherds.  It's the ancient practice of animal husbandry, set against the modern practice of animal factories.  Whether to save labor costs or simply because our outlooks on even the oldest human endeavors became warped by dreams of efficiency, too many ranchers don't want to have to look after their herds and flocks.

And as Kampfe notes, too many large ranches - which act as highways for indigenous species - have been subdivided into "ranchettes" where fences keep livestock in too small an area and cut off natural migration routes.  The result is often pastures grazed to wasteland and the inevitable conflicts with wolves, coyotes, and other predators.  Nature, it seems, favors openness, diversity, and resilience over boundaries, simplicity, and efficiency.

The trees return.

That's what scientists are finding in Yellowstone National Park.  Renewed wolf populations keep the elk population in check.  With fewer elk eating spring shoots, more trees survive and thrive.  The wolves also help other species who feast on the wolves' efforts.  Grizzly bears rarely take down adult elk, preferring to pick off the young, but wolves routinely kill adult elk.  Grizzlies and other carnivores either eat what the wolves leave behind, or may even drive them off a kill.  Regardless, the ready availability of adult elk carcasses taken down by wolves means more young elk reach maturity.  Scientists say the wolves are to Yellowstone as the Everglades are to south Florida, not only an essential link but the essential link in the complex chain that is an ecosystem.

We humans too often want One Size Fits All, Once And For All Time solutions that minimize labor and maintenance.  If we're to build sustainable societies, we'll need to get back in touch with nature's lessons of openness, diversity, and resilience.  We've taken steps toward that - the Endangered Species Act is an example - but we still have a long way to go.

Happy Thursday!


If you are interested in environmental issues, please join DK GreenRoots, a new environmental advocacy group created by Meteor Blades. DK GreenRoots is comprised of bloggers at Daily Kos and eco-advocates from other sites. We focus on a broad range of issues. We alert each other to important eco-stories in the mainstream media and on the Internet, promote bloggers at one site to readers at other sites and discuss crucial eco-issues.  We are in exciting times now because for the first time in years, significant environmental legislation will be passed by Congress.  DK GreenRoots can also be used to apprise members of discussions and strategy sessions happening in Meteor Blade’s Green Diary Rescue thread, which is also our workroom.

Schedule for DK GreenRoots - yesterday, today and tomorrow
All listed times are PDT.

Wednesday July 1:
5am: Beware the Silver Bullet ... by A Siegel
9am: Good Green Jobs: Moving from Rhetoric to Reality by ChangeToWin
noon: The Video that Could Save Your Life by FishOutofWater
1 pm: Go Ahead, NPS, Seize These Cal State Parks, Please! by RLMiller
3 pm: The Insanity of Bottled Water by Asinus Asinum Fricat on bottled water
5 pm: Keep an eye out for bear - Shenandoah NP photodiary by it really is that important
7 pm: Marine Life Series: Responsible Shrimp Buying by Mark H
9 pm: Soil organic carbon pools in the northern circumpolar permafrost region by shpilk
10pm: Green Transit and Hybrids: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles by Vikingkingg
Wednesday Series:
Bookflurries: Bookchat: The Setting as Character by cfk
Siglines! Caring for the environment by Wee Mama
Green Diary Rescue by Meteor Blades

Thursday July 2:
9am:  jeremybloom on climate
11 am:  Muskegon Critic
3 pm:  Bruce Nilles
5 pm: boatsie on social networking
7 pm: rb137 on blood minerals
9 pm:  Jill Richardson on food
Thursday Series:
Morning Feature by NCrissieB
Labor Diary Rescue by djtyg
Considered Forthwith by Casual Wednesday
Thursday Night Health Care by TheFatLadySings
Top Comments by Elise
Write On! by SensibleShoes
Overnight News Digest by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
Green Diary Rescue by Meteor Blades

Friday July 3:
11 am:  Meteor Blades
3 pm:  TXsharon
7 pm:  Land of Enchantment on energy
Friday Series:
Morning Feature by NCrissieB
Mojo Friday by rbutters
Frugal Fridays by sarahnity
Friday Night at the Movies by Land of Enchantment
Overnight News Digest by Oke
Green Diary Rescue by Meteor Blades

Plus there'll be music on environmental themes in jotter's High Impact Diaries every morning, along with schedule updates.  Additional diaries will be filled in from amongst the following: faithfull, The Cunctator, and Turkana.  And we’ll make more slots as needed - anyone who has an environmentally-related story they want to post this week, we’ll create a place on the schedule for you.

Originally posted to NCrissieB on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for canis lupus. :) (45+ / 0-)

    While Blogistan Polytechnic Institute's canine mascot - Woofie the Younger - is often mistaken for a wolf, he's actually an atavistic Siberian Husky: a genetic throwback to his lupine ancestors.  It's not just in his size (80 lbs) and long legs; he also has the wolf's surprisingly shy personality, which is why he lets Pootie the Precious (who is anything but shy) do most of the mascoting.  But since we're discussing his cousins today, he agreed to let me post these:



    As always, ::smooooooooooooooochies:: to Kula, wherever she is, and ::huggggggggggggggggs:: to the Kula Krew!

    •  Woofie the Younger is a great mascot (12+ / 0-)

      for Blogistan Polytechnic Institute! I read a novel recently that included a canine character, Kato, that is half wolf and half dog. Kato was a protective, very smart, and obedient canine. I've also known people who have raised "dolves" and have found them to be lovely pets. (The novel is called Something Deadly, by Rachel Lee. It's a great summer read!

      Good morning and Huggs Crissie and Krew!!

    •  thanks so much NCrissieB! fantastic diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, rb137, kktlaw

      the key is sustainability and being aware of the interrelationship of issues so that real solutions are found. your diary just makes that case beautifully.

      It really irks me that some see the ESA as means to increase wolf population so that they can be removed from list and killed and then when numbers dwindle, place on ESA list again for protection, rinse repeat. That just-another-subsidy approach without consideration of the issues you raise must stop.

      thanks. :)

      Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

      by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:26:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wolf hunts are a part of that, however. (1+ / 0-)

        The point of the diary wasn't to return wolves to the endangered species list, but to celebrate a success of the endangered species program: in most of their current habitat, wolves have rebounded to sustainable populations.  There are some who still want to eradicate wolves, but they are fewer than they were 46 years ago and if we can educate the public as to this marvelous species, those who want to eradicate them will be fewer still 46 years from now.

        That said, carefully-managed wolf hunts are part of that ecosystem and always were, because we humans are also part of the ecosystem.  We're not the central part, and I hope 46 years from now we're even more aware that the earth does not exist solely for our comfort and convenience.  For me, sustainability means re-learning that we're part of a very complex system and fitting ourselves to what that system best rewards: openness, diversity, and resilience.

        Good afternoon! ::huggggggggggggs::

  •  Thanks for the great educational diary, (10+ / 0-)


    Scientists say the wolves are to Yellowstone as the Everglades are to south Florida, not only an essential link but the essential link in the complex chain that is an ecosystem.

  •  what a beautiful boy... (9+ / 0-)

    and thanks for such great advice..."If we're to build sustainable societies, we'll need to get back in touch with nature's lessons of openness, diversity, and resilience." it's been a tough past few months for me, so I especially appreciate the reminder of resilience.

  •  Thanks for the diary Crissie! (11+ / 0-)

    I didn't know that about wolves as an essential part of the Yellowstone (and elsewhere) ecosystem. I will think of them in a new way now, instead of Yikes! Scary!
    Good Morning to you and Krew.
    Huggggggggggggs from rainy Cape Cod.Will summer never come???

    •  Good morning, mommaK :) (8+ / 0-)

      And huggs.  I love wolves.  They're not nearly the dangerous creatures myth has made them.

      "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

      by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:41:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wolves are actually quite gentle and shy. (10+ / 0-)

      There's a reason we were able to develop canis domesticus: canis lupus is actually a gentle and shy creature that almost never harms human beings.  Where domestic dogs and wolves live together, the wolves - despite their larger size - are almost always the pack followers.  Yes, wolves will kill unattended livestock, but in the old days of animal husbandry - vs. today's animal factories - farmers and ranchers didn't leave their livestock unattended.

      The howl we're trained to find so spine-chilling is a sophisticated form of communication that wolves use both within and between packs.  Within a pack it's used for social bonding and for counting noses, as each wolf in a pack will howl in a harmony with the others already howling.  It seems wolves can tell if everyone in the pack is okay, simply by the blend of voices in the pack howl.  Between packs it's used to signal each other - "Hello?  Is this area off-limits?"  "Yes, we're here already!" - and avoid inter-pack conflicts.

      They're truly an amazing species, and the essential link in their ecosystem.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  Amazing! Sounds like you know a lot (7+ / 0-)

        about wolves. Are they as smart or smarter than domesticated dogs? Their communication system seems pretty sophisticated.

        •  Animal intelligence is hard to measure. (9+ / 0-)

          Most domesticated dogs would die if they had to survive in the wild.  In that sense, wolves are obviously more intelligent.  On the other hand, many wolves find it challenging to live with humans, as they haven't been bred to recognize and interpret our vocal and body language and thus sometimes just don't understand what they're being asked to do.  In that sense, domestic dogs are obviously more intelligent.  And different domestic dogs have been bred to excel at certain skills - retrieving, herding, etc. - that would be much harder to teach to wolves.

          Wolves are marvelously well-adapted to living as wolves, and they exhibit some social behaviors that are breathtaking.  Wolf packs have better "day care" than some human societies, for example.  It's not just the moms who raise the pups; the females (and some males) of a pack take turns looking after the pups while the rest are away.

          Even the so-called "omegas" in the pack - those who are last to feed, etc. - have pack roles (such as initiating playtime) for which they are respected and rewarded.  When higher-ranking wolves get too serious in a dominance struggle, the "omegas" are the ones who pounce in to start a game, breaking the tension before someone gets hurt.  When that happens, the senior pack members will usually offer the "omegas" a treat, as if to say "Hey thanks for the laughs; we were getting a bit heated there."

          Some of those same patterns exist in domesticated dogs, either as between dogs or as between dogs and their human packs.  Woofie the Elder usually steps in if the humans are upset here at Casa Crissie, to lick a hand in comfort, or even to separate Pootie the Precious from whatever trouble she's intent on (and she sometimes gets impish that way).  He once let her know, in no uncertain terms, that it was not acceptable to scratch Herself's legs because Herself was sitting in Pootie P's favorite chair.  He chased Pootie P out of the room and wouldn't let her back in for a good ten minutes, as if to say "No, you don't harm the hoomans."

          •  Grieving the death of a pack member... (8+ / 0-)

            When you mentioned the Omega, Crissie, I remembered a TV series about a wolf pack that was being prepared for return to the wild.  The Omega died in a battle with a mountain lion.

            The pack grieved for nearly a month.  All play stopped.  Howling sessions became more common as the wolves came together and simply sang for hours, as if trying to call back the Omega...although they clearly knew the Omega was dead.  Even hunting activities lessened.

            It was sad to behold.

            "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

            by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:45:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the great diary, Crissie. Wolves have (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, DBunn, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

            been close to my heart all my life, starting with The Jungle Books as a kid and on through Never Cry Wolf and all the discovery that came after. They have been too much maligned by ignorance and hubris on our part. They're a fascinating, essential part of the natural world.

            Good morning! :::Huuugggsss:::

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:46:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Wolves have a type of intelligence that's (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

          surprising to people not accustomed to it. They tend to 'think things through' more than dogs do and figure out many ways around obstacals, which makes working with and containing them challenging for those who do so. They are social in different ways than we expect and many have a very interesting sense of humor. Also a surprise for many who work with them!

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:39:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Wolves think things through" (5+ / 0-)

            From the Department of Stuff I Heard or Read Somewhere: Some expert was claiming that humans living in the wild (hunter-gatherers) have a better developed sense of smell, and canines living in the wild (i.e. wolves) have better problem-solving and strategizing skills, than do civilized humans or domesticated dogs, respectively.

            His suggestion was that in the symbiotic development of dogs and humans living together, a sort of division of labor has emerged, with the dogs doing the olfactory work, and humans doing the strategic thinking and decision-making.

            I have no idea how to test this proposition, but it's interesting to think about. If it's true at all, I wonder if the phenomenon is strictly cultural and/or experiential, or if occurs at the level of genetic evolution to some degree.

            •  It's becoming clear (5+ / 0-)

              that brain development in humans is somewhat of a use it or lose it proposition. Perhaps the same is true of domesticated dogs, not having to do much problem solving or strategizing, they simply don't develop those skills.

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:16:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  True, but use it or lose it doesn't just apply (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Orinoco, NCrissieB

                in individuals, capacities and traits can be either conserved or selected against in bloodlines, too. Capacities present can be developed or left fallow, but trying to teach something that just lacks capacity is tough. Try teaching a dog with no setter or pointer blood to freeze in place and lift a paw when they notice a certain scent. Not impossible, but much easier to start with those who inherited the instinct.

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 12:05:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  A bit oversimplified. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DBunn, winterbanyan, FarWestGirl

              Wolves are better at the sorts of problem-solving they need for living in the wild.  Domesticated dogs are better at the sorts of problem-solving they need for living with humans.  Each struggles in the others' environment, which is probably why wolves who live with humans usually follow the family dogs' leads despite the wolves' size and strength.  I've not seen any studies on it, and don't know to what extent it's happened, but I'd guess that dogs who fell in with wild wolf packs - and if they were accepted as pack members - would follow the wolves' leads in the wild.

              It's a bit oversimplified to conclude that wolves are better problem-solvers than domesticated dogs.  I think it's better to say each solves different sets of problems.

              •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                In my comment, I left open the matter of whether the posited changes in the capabilities of dogs, resulting from their symbiotic association with humans, is a matter of essence (genetic evolution) or simply of the culture of human/canine "packs" and/or the individual life experience of each domestic dog. And of course, we could still question whether the posited changes are real at all, in a generalizable way.

                This type of ambiguity is a common feature of items submitted by the Department of Stuff I Heard or Read Somewhere :)

                It would be interesting to compare the individual and social behavior of wild dogs with that of wild wolves...

    •  Hugggs, mommaK! (7+ / 0-)

      I've heard about all the rain in New England. I wish I could export some of our warmth and sunshine here in So. Cal. to you on Cape Cod. A rainy day by the fire sounds inviting to me. To you.... maybe not so much. Please have a relaxing time despite the weather!!

    •  Tell me about it. I mean that seriously (7+ / 0-)

      Has it been any different from the weather in town [f the Bean and the Cod]? We were contemplating a day of escape from the manuscript deadline to a friend's house.

      There has been sun on the Cape, I hear, but the way I understand it, it was a miraculos sign and a portent rather than a weather change. According to a friend in P[rovince]town who had worked for Franken,  the sun came out at just about the same time the MNSC rendered its decisions.

      It is now thundering close enough to me for me to go on battery. which means a very short time with you guys.

      So huuuugs to you all and if I go off line, blame it IBM.

  •  I once researched wolves for a writing project (11+ / 0-)

    and learned some amazing things about them. )

    Back in the 20th century (so much fun to say that. Not.) a meat-packing plant in Minnesota, alarmed by the number of livestock kills, put a bounty on wolves.  Despite the near-extermination of local wolfpacks, the predations continued and were finally traced to packs of feral dogs.  Nonetheless, the bounties remained in place.

    Wolves are far less aggressive than dogs.  We bred aggression into dogs.

    With less than 500 wolves in Montana, now that they've been removed from the endangered species list by Obama's Interior Department (as of May this year), Montana is considering issuing licenses to kill more than half the wolf population.

    Interior's determination of a sustainable wolf population is five, count 'em, five, breeding pairs.

    Huggs and good morning, Krew!

    "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

    by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:40:05 AM PDT

    •  Montana is just above the minimum for listing. (8+ / 0-)

      In Wyoming, where there are only 300 wolves, the wolves are still protected.  While five breeding pairs is a minimum survivable wolf population, the Department of Interior is trying to keep populations of at least 400+ to ensure genetic diversity.  Plus, as noted in the diary, scientists are learning more about how wolves participate in the ecosystem, and it turns out that healthy wolf populations are better for other carnivores (including raptors), as well as for the forests themselves.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

    •  Good heavens! Why only five pairs when, (7+ / 0-)

      as Crissie points out, wolves are an integral part of the ecosystem? It doesn't seem to makes sense. Good Morning Winter, and Huggggs!!

      •  Re: five breeding pairs (9+ / 0-)

        Given the structure of a wolfpack, only the alpha male and alpha female mate.  So if you have five breeding pairs, you will have five packs.  Packs, however, seem to have a maximum size so as these grisly calculations are made, among consideration is how many wolves will be left when you cull the packs.

        Wolves have such a complex social structure, and are so dependent on their fellow pack members, that scientists once destroyed an entire pack by accident.  They were trying to get the wolves to move, and sealed off their dens.  Instead the wolf pack broke up...and utterly disappeared.

        More huggs!

        "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

        by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:09:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It also makes very poor policy re. genetic (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orinoco, DBunn, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        diversity. One of the reasons cheetahs have such reproductive difficulties is because there was a dieoff at some point with their population dropping down to about 10K individuals. Ten thousand. And some idiot is claiming that a viable population can be derived from five packs?!?? Pure stupidity.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:59:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly my question, FWG (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco, DBunn, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

          I don't know how they reached this calculus.  Honestly I don't.  But since ranchers get reimbursed for every one of their animals killed by wolves (and this number is debatable since often it cannot be determined that wolves killed the animal, but ranchers get paid anyway), I'm not quite sure this is the huge problem that is being claimed.

          However, ranchers do have one new argument: when wolves are in the vicinity, the grazing herds become nervous and don't eat as much, thus failing to fully bulk up by as much as 20%.  This costs the rancher at market, and I can understand the upset.

          However, it has been shown that if you put a range rider out there with the herds, the animals remain calm and graze, and the wolves stay away.

          So it just seems to me we need to revert to practices we followed as herdsmen for thousands of years before we decided to exterminate the predators: watch your herds and flocks.

          All hail to the cowboy and shepherd.

          "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

          by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:05:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No one can afford to pay outriders anymore. Many (6+ / 0-)

            if not most range operations are family owned, often with one family hanging on by threads because the feedlots concentrate overhead to increase the profit margin and cut into what a range operation can clear. Llamas, donkeys and dogs can help extend protection, but it's still difficult with the low margins for traditional ranching techniques.

            Most shepherds are imported from other countries because no one here will work that cheap or under the tough, primitive conditions that come with range grazing. It's a difficult situation.

            But you're right, and it gets conveniently left out of conversations/arguments, ranchers are reimbursed for stock losses due to predation.

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:18:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There's a foundation to help offset costs. (5+ / 0-)

              I cited it in my diary.  As I've said throughout this thread, this seems like an employment opportunity to me.  We have a job that needs doing (guarding herds on the range), and people that need jobs, and even a charitable foundation willing to pay them, though the Bailey fund could greatly benefit by subsidies ...

              ... can we spell s-t-i-m-u-l-u-s f-u-n-d-s?

              The pieces of a solution are all there.  It's a matter of putting the pieces together.

            •  I agree this is a problem (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco, DBunn, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

              I'm not saying this is a magic fix.  But it's the one we had to rely on for thousands of years.  Many efforts are underway to find ways of keeping wolves away from herds, from rubber bullets to sealing dens.

              Since in my younger days cowboys were paid the astonishingly small sum of $250/month... yes, even then it was too small to believe... I can imagine that a lot of people in this country wouldn't want the job.

              An argument for immigration if ever I heard one.  Argentina, for example, has a huge beef industry and plenty of cowboys.  Mexico, too, relies on them.

              There is something wrong in our economy that ranchers get paid so little for their beef that they are on shoestrings.  But then most of small agriculture is.

              We need to find a way to get our small agriculturists on sounder economic footing, and if that means paying more to eat, then maybe we should.  Hell, we'll pay whatever it takes to put gas in the damn car.

              "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

              by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:28:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Simple (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DBunn, NCrissieB, kktlaw

                We need to find a way to get our small agriculturists on sounder economic footing

                Ban factory agriculture. We can phase it out now and avoid the sticker shock that will happen when it collapses of it's own accord when the oil runs out.

                Some of your great grandchildren will plow fields behind teams of horses, mules or oxen.

                I'm already paying an extra dollar a pound (or more) for grass fed beef and bison. If paying an additional couple of bucks per pound to support some cowboys or shepherds pushes the price of meat into the only-on-holidays category, well, all the nutritionists worth their salt are telling us that's where meat belongs, anyway.

                "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                by Orinoco on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:28:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Paying more to eat (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

                Actually, I've come to think that we do need to pay more for food. For several reasons:

                1. The price of food is kept low, in part, by grossly inhumane exploitation of agricultural labor.
                1. Even with that exploitation, the amount of labor required for food production is kept down by industrial farming practices that require large inputs of cheap petroleum products.
                1. It is widely acknowledged that we Americans consume far too much unnecessary crap. This is made possible, in part, by keeping food prices low, so as to create the 'disposable income' needed to pay for the unnecessary crap.

                We could probably think of more reasons if we put our minds to it, but the ones we have already are enough to prove the case. Point 3 is kind of interesting to me-- essentially, it amounts to saying that the monetary expression of "consuming less crap" is that the cost of food will become a proportionately greater share of household income. The good news is, there's no particular reason to think we can't produce enough food for everyone (that's at a global population of ~6 billion; at 12 billion, we got a different problem). The bad news, as usual, is the problem of equitable distribution. Essentially, that's the same problem we always have, it's just that it's getting a lot more urgent now.

                •  That may be a big part of the equation. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DBunn, winterbanyan

                  We homo sapiens sapiens are accustomed to a lot of conveniences that we can afford only because we've been able to produce basic necessities so cheaply.  Still, conveniences don't become necessities, however accustomed to them we've become.  We may find some of those conveniences are ones we'll need to learn to live without.

        •  Canine genetics are curious that way. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco, winterbanyan, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

          Canines have a curious genetic quirk: leave them be for just a couple of generations and they self-generate diversity.  It's the same genetic quirk that makes us able to create domestic dog breeds so quickly.  Left to work on its own, it creates diversity rather than similarity.  So yes, five breeding pairs are a minimum wolf population.  But in Wyoming, where there are only about 35 packs, wolves are still on the endangered species list.  They'd really prefer to keep regional populations above 50 packs.

          •  Must be a high mutation rate. Cats and dogs are (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

            different in a lot of ways, that may well be one of them.  Although there are a lot of genetic problems in purebred dogs, too. It just seems a little too optimistic to allow a population to drop that low and expect not to have it cause problems at some point in the future. My own bias, I suppose, I'm strongly in favor of as much diversity as possible. ;-)

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:26:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A very high mutation rate. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco, winterbanyan, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

              I can't remember which gene it is - I saw it in a science documentary about dogs - but canines have one of the most active 'accepted mutation' genes on earth.  Recessive genes cause big problems in breeds that are too inbred, but the science shows that if you introduce interbreeding for just 3-4 generations the dogs' own genes sort it out.

              My jaw was hanging open as I listened to the geneticist explain that.  Talk about a species designed for resilience!

              •  Maybe they'll be the inheritors of whatever is (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Orinoco, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

                left of the biosphere. It sounds like they'll be better able to adapt to it than we will. ::sigh::

                Wow, if you happen to remember the name of the documentary I'd love to try and track it down, sounds fascinating. And if you look at the difference between wolves and say, Pembroke Corgis and Borzois and realize how little time has passed, it makes sense that the spontaneous mutation rate must be high.

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:49:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  TheCanadian research that launched Never Cry Wolf (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orinoco, mommaK, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

      was investigating an assumed link between wolves and excessive caraibou losses. What Farley Mowat actually found, (and they tried to supress because it wasn't the result that they were looking for), was that human over hunting was the culprit, not the wolves. And for anyone not familiar with it, Never Cry Wolf, either the book or the movie, is well worth checking into. Mowat was the biologist who did the research, and a very good writer.

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:25:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tips for the wolves (9+ / 0-)

    Nature, it seems, favors openness, diversity, and resilience over boundaries, simplicity, and efficiency.

    and for openness, diversity, and resilience.

    Morning everyone :)

    "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

    by Edgewater on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:42:45 AM PDT

  •  Yellowstone and wolves (8+ / 0-)

    I spent the summer of 07 at West Yellowstone. The divide between "I'm glad we're reintroducing the wolves" and "Kill all the wolves, yesterday"  was as passionate as any political or religious discussion I have ever been part of. Most engaging in it were long past listening to each other, or anyone else.

    In Minnesota, wolves were off the endangered list in May and just put back on.

    Morning all.

    •  I'm convinced it's a culture issue. (7+ / 0-)

      Wolves have been so maligned for so long in Western culture that we're almost predisposed to hate them.  It takes real effort to get people past that cultural indoctrination and to recognize what a marvelous, beautiful, and environmentally important species the grey wolf is.  They have much more to fear from us than we've ever had to fear from them.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  We've proved that by nearly (7+ / 0-)

        exterminating them. :(

        Many Native American cultures held wolves in high regard, and often modeled themselves on them, both socially and as hunters.

        "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

        by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:21:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  First Nations legend of why wolves were created, (5+ / 0-)

          (can't remember which Nation, I think this one may have been Inuit),

          People hunted, and in their pride, took the best from the herds, so the herds became weak and sickly. Creator saw this and created the wolf to cull the weak from the herds so that they would become strong again, because man's pride wouldn't change.

          Good morning, Winter! ::::Huuugggsss:::

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:14:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for this, FWG :) (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, mommaK, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

            There are many NA peoples who esteem the wolves.  The pack I talk about elsewhere was eventually settled in Idaho because the Nez Perce nation wanted the wolves back.  They even held a wonderful ceremony of welcome for the wolves.

            Time to listen to some voices less Eurocentric.

            Hugggs and good morning!

            "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

            by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:17:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ah yes. (4+ / 0-)

            There is a delightful story from Armenia, quite funny actually, but the plot involves god sending a fool to be eaten by a wolf who is always hungry.

            I told the story to a fellow storyteller, who was horrified that god would send a human being to his death.


            "God said the tree couldn't get any water because there was some gold buried between it's roots and the stream, and if someone were to dig up the gold, the tree could get all the water it needed."

            "Did you dig it up?" asked the wolf.

            "No, God told me I had to keep traveling until I found my destiny, discovered my fate. I couldn't waste time on the tree. I'm sure someone else will come along and dig the gold up! And the beautiful girl, God said she was unhappy because she didn't have a husband, and if someone were to marry her, they'd be happy for the rest of their lives!"

            "Then what are you doing here?" asked the wolf.

            "I told you: God said I had to keep going until I discovered my destiny, found my fate. And as for you, Brother Wolf, God said you're always hungry because you've never had one really big meal. And God promised to send this really incredible fool down the road, and if you ate that fool, you'd never be hungry again!"

            "Oh, really?" said the wolf...

            Maybe, I thought, god is god of all creatures, not just humans, and well fed wolves are more important in the scheme of things than fools.

            Good morning! and ::huggggggggggggs::

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:48:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  LOL Orinoco! (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco, mommaK, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

              Thanks for sharing this.  I'm grinning from ear to ear.


              "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

              by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:49:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Oh I adore that story! (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco, mommaK, winterbanyan, FarWestGirl

              Now if I can get the breakfast cereal off the screen....

              Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

            •  Sounds like we need to transplant a few wolves to (4+ / 0-)

              Washington, eh? Great story.

              Good morning! :::Huuugggss:::

              Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

              by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:32:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's certainly no lack of incredible fools (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                winterbanyan, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

                in Washington. And South Carolina. And New Mexico. And California... maybe it's an occupational hazard. Defending the indefensible and all that.

                Good morning! and ::hugggggggggggs:: glad you all liked the story. I found it in a book titled Armenian Folktales. It was called "An Armenian Folktale." I call it: The Wolf, the Girl and the Tree.

                Once there was a poor man... He worked hard, but no matter how hard he worked, things just did not go well for him. Finally, in frustration, he threw down his tools.

                "I'm going to go find God! and ask God why I have such a hard life! And see if there's anything I can do about it."

                and thus the journey begins...

                "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                by Orinoco on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:07:57 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's the concentration of fools from all over (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Orinoco, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

                  in DC that would make such efficient hunting. ;-)

                  The story reminds me of the one that ends- 'I sent you a ladder, a boat and a helecopter, what are you doing here?'

                  Love your sig, BTW

                  Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                  by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:15:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My friend tells that story (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    winterbanyan, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

                    and ties it into a day in her life when she was in desperate need of some assistance. People she knew kept offering help, but she kept turning them down because she was independent and self reliant. Finally she realized why that particular story kept running through her head on the awful day in question.

                    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                    by Orinoco on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:39:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Nice diary NCB. I imagine it's tied up (4+ / 0-)

        with keeping moving herds of domesticated animals. If you're tending a walking pantry of food that predators can pick at, there will be tension. Being excellent nocturnal hunters, wolves can instill a greater sense of danger than they actually pose. It's not just a Western thing.

        China's herders plea for help as wolf packs return

        Scanning the vast northern China steppe surrounding him, Delger leans on a wooden staff that is his herd's only protection against a lethal enemy that is out there, somewhere.

        "They come at night, but you never hear them. When you do hear something, it is the sheep crying out, and by then it's too late," he said.

        Delger, 44, has lost six of his 40 sheep in the past two years to stealthy attacks by the wolf packs that roam northern China's Inner Mongolia region.

        The wolves were hunted to near extinction in China as Communist leader Mao Zedong encouraged the eradication of an animal viewed as a threat to his utopian efforts to increase agricultural and livestock production.

        But mounting attacks by the wolves -- now protected -- have sparked calls by herders and some local governments for resumed hunting of the predator.

        "There is not enough protection for us herders now. The wolves cannot be hunted. What about us?"

  •  A compliment and a 10 minute video clip (9+ / 0-)

    Great work here these past few mornings, and this morning especially. I've been reading, but not participating much as since school let out I've been cleaning, job searching, and playing with babypsych!

    But, here's the graduation speech embed:

    and a link to the text of the speech (on my website for the classes I teach/taught):

    The text

    The video is not television quality (flip cameras are best for close-up work, not 14th row work). But, it is what it is.

    Thankfully, there were no wolves in the audience that day. At least, none that I know of.

    Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest. - Alexandre Dumas

    by elropsych on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:16:22 AM PDT

    •  Great job, elropsych :) (8+ / 0-)

      Thanks for sharing!

      Hugs and good morning :)

      "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

      by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:29:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Great speech, elropsych! :) (8+ / 0-)

      I'm dabbing away a tear here, especially at the way the students responded to realizing they really aren't there for themselves but for those who will come after them.  It's too easy to forget that some days, especially when our own problems seem so intractable.  We need to remember that.

      Thank you, and good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  The biggest surprise from where I stood on the (8+ / 0-)

        stage was the student response to the moment when I spoke about asking questions. There was a loud response to that line, and one I did not anticipate.

        Matt Lauer was in the audience and I ad libbed the part about there being "some people in the room who understand the power of a good question" as I looked directly at him.

        After, while the graduates were actually doing their walking, I snuck over to him and this happened:

        EP: "I hope it wasn't inappropriate to have singled you out for that line in the speech, but I wanted to recognize your being here without drawing too much attention to it. I respect your courage and candor when interviewing people who don't want to answer your questions, and that line just came to me as I was standing there, so I used it."

        ML: "Thank you, I appreciate what you said, and I hope these graduates understand it."

        EP: "If they don't now, they will someday."

        Then, during the closing music as I went up to grab my laptop and thank the booth A/V guy, ML was jogging across the lobby to beat the crowd, stopped, came over and shook my hand again and we thanked each other once more. Then, he was out the door and so was I.

        Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest. - Alexandre Dumas

        by elropsych on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:45:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wish I had more than dialup, ::sigh::. I'll have (6+ / 0-)

      to go to the library and watch it there.

      Congrats Elropsych! And you can add that brush with ML to yesterday's 'Claim to fame'.

      Good morning! :::Huuuuggggsss:::

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:06:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! I hope it ends up worth the trouble! be (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orinoco, mommaK, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

        warned, though, the audio is low, so if you do watch it in a library, you may want to use headphones or something so as to turn it up a little bit, my father-in-law had trouble hearing it, but that may be as much my father-in-law as it was the clip! I found the limitations of my Flip camera with this exercise, though...

        Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest. - Alexandre Dumas

        by elropsych on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:21:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Whew! You did it! (The speech, I mean.) (5+ / 0-)

      I'm fading here and realize I need a few more zzzzzz's, but I look forward to watching the video a little later. Congrats and Hugggggs!!

  •  Wolves are a predominant part of our global (8+ / 0-)

    consciousness, too -- they appear in stories, legends and myths, an example of which is the piece I posted not too long ago called The Wolf You Feed.

    And here's one of my favorite "Woof" pics (Jack):

    ...along with his most favorite toy (Ember -- who considers Jack ~her~ most favorite toy):

    A corrupted government. Patriots branded as renegades. This is how we roll.

    by GreyHawk on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:23:06 AM PDT

  •  So much to learn, so little time (7+ / 0-)

    It is always most fascinating to learn about our other fellow animal's social structures.  In the book The Horse Whisperer, the author tells about following herds of horses and watching the Alpha female banishing a young colt from the herd for causing trouble of a sort.  The young colt would try to merge into the herd during his banishment, but the alpha female had only to cast a wicked eye his way, until finally, with his head hung low, the Alpha female allowed him back into the family.

    Elephants have been observed mourning the death of one of their fellows, although it was a ritual interpreted as mourning by their observers.  I guess we have to be careful with self projection.

    •  And so much to relearn. (7+ / 0-)

      A lot of this isn't so much new learning as relearning.  The rise of Cartesian dualism and empiricism that combined in the Enlightenment were good for us in some ways, but they also led us to discard some valuable knowledge.  We became more, rather than less, egoistic.  The Industrial Revolution simply added to our inflated sense of self-importance, convincing too many that we no longer had to heed nature's rhythms or needs at all.


      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

  •  Scientists warn that we are in a (9+ / 0-)

    mass extinction event.  A major mass extinction event, unlike any the world has seen in millions of years.

    They say, quite frankly, that they don't know which animal, plant or microorganism will turn out to be the tipping point: the place where, once it has vanished, the world's ecology will become utterly inhospitable to us.

    Scientists worry about these things for good reason.  Utterly exterminating wolves would have ramifications scientists are only beginning to understand and appreciate.  And it's so much harder to gauge with other species.

    We need to walk humbly when we talk of "getting rid of pests" because we have little idea of just how beneficial they may be.

    "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

    by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:10:43 AM PDT

    •  What's for supper? (7+ / 0-)

      Living in the country makes it easy to see the ecological system at work.  A couple of examples:  When we have a wet spring, there are more grasshoppers, but as grasshoppers are wild turkey's favorite tidbit, in a wet spring, there are more wild turkeys to eat the grasshoppers.  In a wet spring, there are more mosquitoes, but that results in more visits from Swifts that don't come around in dry springs.  One way or another, everybody eats.

      •  And the links apparently reach well beyond (6+ / 0-)

        turkeys and swifts. :)  The interconnectedness of our biosphere is only just beginning to be understood...

        Rather late, since our ancestors seemed to have understood it better.  The Masai used to follow the elephant herds.  Why?

        Because once the elephants had finished grazing the trees of an area, it became grassland.  The Masai then migrated to the area with their cattle.  When the cattle overgrazed the grasslands, the Masai moved them on to the next new area of grassland, and and the forest that had begun to grow behind them filled in.

        The cycle is astonishingly beautiful, but it is now broken.  Decrease in the elephant herds has resulted in the Masai having to become settled populations, and they grieve the loss, because now they have trouble raising enough cattle for food.

        Lessons everywhere. :)

        Huggs and good morning, JF!

        "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

        by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:32:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Begging Your Pardon - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    By any definition, the wolf reintroduction into Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho has been highly successful.  Wolf populations have increased twenty-fold in little more than a decade.  Part of the agreement made in the 1990s among state and federal wildlife agencies, land owners, and environmental groups was that predatory wolves could be destroyed.

    Here is a relevant sections of the 1994 Final EIS -

    Effects of wolf recovery on domestic livestock was one of the major issues identified during scoping. It has been shown in other areas (Minnesota and northwestern Montana) that a responsive program to address conflicts between wolves and domestic livestock reduces  the degree of livestock depredation by wolves, increases public acceptance of wolf populations which likely reduces illegal wolf mortality, and allows growth of wolf populations toward recovery levels. While the incidence of wolf depredations on livestock is expected to be comparatively low, some level of depredation is probably inevitable where wolves and livestock exist in close proximity. Removal of problem wolves does more than stop the depredation; it relieves the pressures and antagonisms direct toward the total wolf population by those incurring losses and other members of the public. Timely response to actual depredations will alleviate the perception of government inaction that too often results in the indiscriminate killing of wolves. By responding quickly to resolve depredation problems, the overall wolf population will be in less danger from potential nonselective and illegal attempts to damage control. While some wolves will be removed from the population through control measures, removal of wolves demonstrating this undesirable behavior will promote public acceptance of wolves, will reduce overall impacts, and will allow population growth to recovery levels.

    Here are some numbers -

    Current estimated # of gray wolves in Northern Rockies
    (Mont., Wyo., Idaho): 1,500
    Number of wolves introduced to region in 1995-1996: 66
    Number of wolves killed legally in region in 2008 thru Dec: 245
    Percentage Increase over 2007: 31%
    2008 wolf kills by state:
    Montana: 102
    Idaho: 101
    Wyoming: 42
    Number of domestic animals killed by wolves in 2008: 523
    Domestic animals killed by wolves in 2007: 420

    Ed Bangs is the chief wolf recovery expert for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  He, along with practically every other wildlife official, state and federal, with any direct wolf experience in the Northern Rockies argues that wolf populations have increased dramatically and that predator control is essential.

    Fish and Wildlife Service officials acknowledged that incoming Obama administration appointees could reverse the delisting decision if they wished, but believe that the science backs up their stand that now is the right time for this. "The bottom line is wolves are fully recovered, and they should be delisted," said Ed Bangs, federal gray wolf recovery coordinator. "It's the right time and the right thing to do."

    "The success of the endangered species act has costs – one of the costs is more conflict with livestock," Bangs said. "It seems like a lot but it’s really not that much; the price of success is more depredations and more wolf control."

    I was under the impression that Daily Kos was an information-based community.  In a perfect world there might be no need for wolf predator control; however, even though there are hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness and near-wilderness in the Northern Rockies, potential wolf habitat is not unlimited.  Wolf populations grow dramatically each springs as pups are born.  When driven away from packs that have already utilized all available wild lands, where will these wolves establish their territory?  Or are you suggesting that we can dismiss the biological principle of excess fecundity with a wave of the magic wand?

    Unfortunately, the internet is knee-deep in websites like this -
    (The dripping red font is especially convincing.)

    Parental Discretion is advised..

    The reasons for Humans fearing and hating Wolves are many. One is because of Hunters like this man above who don't want to share Elk with Wolves.  Another is because there are Ranching Communities that regard Wolves as monsters and fear them to the absolute extreme. But primarily their main enemy is those who murder them and that is certain individuals within the US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with certain members of the Department of Natural Resources.

    Whether you agree or disagree with the wolf numbers necessary for recovery in the Northern Rockies - 1500, 3000, 6000 - at some point even the highest number will be reached.  What does one do after that?

    •  I don't know what you're rebutting. (5+ / 0-)

      I didn't argue that wolves should remain on the endangered list, except where they already are (e.g.: Wyoming).

      •  Well, for Starters, This - (5+ / 0-)

        But some ranchers disagree:

        While the state of Montana reimburses Svenson for livestock lost to wolf predation - the story's claim that the reimbursement fund is depleted was refuted - some say that's not enough.  Perhaps it's the common impulse to "solve a problem once and for all," or our culture's demonization of the species, but some ranchers want the wolves gone, dead, period.

        You use the term "predators" in your title.
        You proceed to say that wolves are misperceived by the public.
        Then you use Svenson as an example of one who misperceives.

        You portray Svenson as some kind of barbaric throwback.  And your last line implies that he wants the wolves dead and gone, period.  But that is not what he said.  He clearly stated that he  accepted wolf reintroduction, but he doesn't want wolves on his ranch.

        Just for your information - - Reed Point is about 50 miles from Yellowstone as the crow flies.  It is a small community on the Yellowstone River and I-90 - a corridor of human use since paleolithic times and, certainly for the past century, a corridor of farms, towns, roads and railroads.

        But when you reach wolf populations of 1500 in the Northern Rockies - the present-day Northern Rockies that includes human populations - you get conflicts.  Sooner or later, and wolf populations have grown faster than most projections, there comes a point where potential wildland habitats are occupied by packs and increased populations are forced into areas of human population.

        What do you do then?  There were agreements reached in the 1990s - not by everybody, not 100% - but the final Wolf Recovery EIS is generally accepted as the blueprint.  Certainly by the courts.  Do you change the rules of the game?  Who assumes the costs?  Fact is, even if one accepts that Defenders of Wildlife can cover the escalating costs of wolf wildlife depredations it is the rancher who must show proof - including finding the carcass, photographing, establishing wolf predation, and verifying with wildlife officials.  In case you were not aware, the days of a bunkhouse full of singing cowboys are long over.  Ranchers are lucky to have one hired managers and, if lucky, a couple of teen-aged kids or grandkids to help.   So, if nothing else, it is a significant additional claim of time and effort.

        And yet, you portray Svenson as some kind of unthinking cardboard cutout. You didn't quote what all the following -  

        "We've gone out at night and looked around and we've set up all our non-lethal decoys, the guard dogs, the flashing lights, and the scare crows and it doesn't seem to faze them any," said Eric Svenson.

        The family's also turned to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials and also brought in federal trappers

        So - -
        It appears that the Svensons put in a lot of effort to find non-lethal ways to address their growing livestock losses to wolves.


        I would bet that I do not share many political of cultural views with the Svensons, but I have lived in the Northern Rockies for twenty years.  Although I am not a rancher, I have many friends who are.  They are not perfect people, but every single one of them tries to be a good steward of the land amid conditions that become more and more daunting.  Yes, the Kampfe's have a more tolerant view than most, but there operation is both dude and working ranch - percentages of both unknown.  They are fortunate to abut national forest land and have the vistas that high-end tourists require.  What about ranchers who don't have this option?

        Do you wish to see most the ranches of the Intermountain West become playgrounds for the rich and famous?  Or ranchettes for the not-so-rich, but indebted?


        PS - I am quite well aware that I may be a minority of one on this thread.

        •  As I said above: employment opportunity. (5+ / 0-)

          We have lots of unemployed people.  We have lots of ranchers that really need range riders.  We even have some charities like the one I cited who are willing to pay most of the range riders' costs.  Seems to me the pieces for a solution are all there, and it's a matter of putting those pieces together.

          The law has always allowed ranchers to kill wolves that are caught preying on their herds, and I've no problem with that, although long-term there are much better ways to reduce predation.  Killing a predatory wolf, as noted above, does not deter other wolves.  Driving the wolves away from the herds by non-lethal means trains the wolves to eat something else.

          Part of the issue is that ranchers get reimbursed by the state for wolf predation, but not for livestock lost to accidents or disease.  And yes, that means some ranchers game the system and claim wolf predation for other losses, especially when they "can't find" the carcasses until months later ... when it's no longer possible to verify a cause of death.

          •  NCB - (4+ / 0-)

            I think you are one of the best bloggers here -
            But I have to disagree with you on this one.

            Any person who has had experience with predators, especially with wolves, knows that wolves which prey on livestock cannot easily be dissuaded.  Livestock are like the McDonalds of the prairies.  Wolves, like any other predator, seek out the easiest prey opportunities - if for no other reason than to conserve energy and improve odds of success.  Sheep are really, really good odds.  Cattle pretty good.  Not to mention that the livestock are also fenced - even if the fences enclose 40 acres.

            I don't think you realize what it takes to work on a ranch.  Unemployed people from Chicago are not likely to be able to ride horseback - even ride ATVs - into the range to do what you suggest.  And would be clueless as to what to look for.  To train them would be prohibitively expensive - whether for the government or for the rancher.

            And, please, if anything it is the rancher who assumes costs of unproven kills - not vice-versa.  I fear that you have already made your mind up on  this issue given your earlier comment about the Svensons and your statement above about ranchers "gaming" the system.  The fact is - as confirmed by the Defenders of Wildlife data - that reimbursements have increased dramatically over the past decade. One would expect the reimbursements to increase given the twenty-fold increase in wolf populations.  Actually, if wolves have exhausted their potential wild range, one would expect depredations to increase far more than population since an increasing number of wolves would not have ranges.

            Unless you and many of the others commenting here think ranchers should assume a greater and greater burden of wolf recovery - to the point of losing their ranches - then, sooner or later, predator control for wolves must come into play.  If not now in five years.  If natural increase is 25% per year, how can it be otherwise?

            Sooner or later numbers will force wolves to predate.
            Sooner or later there will have to be lethal control.
            Please, show me how it can be otherwise.

            PS -
            A federal reimbursement bill, introduced by Sen. Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) is working its way thru Congress.  ttp://

            •  Discussion that earns we MF'ers our good rep.... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DBunn, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

              ....that's Morning Featurerers, of course.

              Information, reason, mutual respect of positions, on point, on topic, and if I had my druthers on to the top of rec list.

            •  We disagree less than you assume. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              johnnygunn, winterbanyan

              The purpose of my diary was not to suggest that wolves should remain on the endangered species list forever, nor that controlled wolf hunting is always evil.  It's not.  My point was first to celebrate this success of the Endangered Species Act - unlike some who say it's done no good whatever - and to help change attitudes toward one of the world's most amazing and important species.

              We've given the wolf a horrible reputation, one the wolf did not earn, and I think that reputation and modern practices of "factory ranching" over animal husbandry fuel most of the controversy.  If we can recognize and celebrate the wolf's vital place in the ecosystem, it can put livestock predation in a better perspective.

              Livestock kills are inevitable.  We can mitigate that, in part by better animal husbandry practices and in part by maintaining a stable balance in the wolf population, but we can't and shouldn't try to eliminate livestock predation completely.  The challenges of humans living and practicing animal husbandry among wolves - both for us and the wolves - are inherent in nature.  Accepting those challenges as part of life, ones we can mitigate but never stop completely, is a necessary step in recognizing where we human beings fit in nature's order.

              Would more labor-intensive, traditional husbandry practices raise food costs?  Yes, and that too is part of recognizing where we humans fit in nature's order.  As others have noted throughout, we've used artificially low food prices to subsidize markets for conveniences.  Simply, Americans live above our means.  We're 5% of the world's population consuming 25% of the world's energy.

              That's not a sustainable ecosystem, whether that "eco" is short for economy or ecology.  More of us need to do more physical work, with more activity powered by human energy rather than other sources.  The late 20th century paradigm of "Americans think and others sweat" can't last.  We need to do more of our own "sweating" - and esteem those who do - including survival-essential jobs in agriculture and animal husbandry.

              Pieces of solutions are there.  We have work that needs doing and people who need work.  Yes, many workers will need training.  Yes, it will require capital.  But we Americans will also have to change our attitudes on physical work, and stop treating that as something others should do for us.  We can do all of those things, but not if we continue to treat those challenges as ones we shouldn't have to deal with at all.

              Tomorrow and Saturday we'll look at challenges of mass transportation, which isn't automatically as green as many assume.  It lower our carbon footprint, but for that to work we'll also have to accept some challenges as part of being alive.  We will have to learn to respect nature's mandates of openness, diversity, and resiliency ... in how we plan our time and our travels.  We'll have to give up some boundaries, simplicity, and efficiency.

              That's not saying things have to get "worse."  It's saying we need a saner vision of what "better" is.  When it comes to our living among wolves, "better" is recognizing that human can't replace what wolves bring to the ecosystem, so we must learn to live with them and accept that challenges like livestock predation are an inevitable part of our real place in the natural order.

    •  I don't see how this rebuts the diary (6+ / 0-)

      which argues that wolves are generally beneficial to the environment as a whole.

      Giving us the agreements that were first made with ranchers etc to gain approval for reintroduction in no way addresses the surprising benefits that reintroduction has brought to the overall environment.

      And it is those benefits we must weigh against the ranchers' interests, because a healthy ecology is important to us all.

      "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

      by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:41:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, You Are Suggesting - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orinoco, BlueStateRedhead

        That ranchers should assume the costs of wolf reintroduction?
        Simply because the ecological benefits are greater for all?

        In that case, why don't we bulldoze Atlanta, Los Angeles, and St. Louis?
        Think of all the ecological benefits that would achieve.

        You are probably saying - "Well, that's stupid."
        But is is that stupid?  I am, tongue in cheek, suggesting that large established populations and infrastructure be displaced to improve the overall ecology - not to mention reduce air pollution, restore waterways, and put the brakes of Sunbelt sprawl.

        If you justify the loss of ranches on private lands, not public, for the greater public ecological good - why not follow such logic to its end?  Or do you recognize that limits exist?

        If so, then it becomes a discussion, and I would hope a civil one, about where those limits are best placed.  The 1994 EIS, which you so easily dismiss, was a framework of limits that most parties agreed upon to allow for wolf reintroduction.  Predator control was part of that agreement.

        Why, now that wolf populations have reached a sustaining level, is that no longer acceptable?  And if that is not acceptable now, when will it be?  Are you suggesting that populations can continue to grow without check?  Can the Northern Rockies support 12,000 wolves?  48,000 wolves?  If there were 48,000 wolves, there wouldn't be a ranching operation left - not to mention a whole lot of starving wolves.  Is that your goal?

        •  My goal is not to turn the west over to wolves (7+ / 0-)

          but neither is it to turn the west over to ranchers.  And I have not said that no wolf, caught in an act of predation, should be killed.

          As I said elsewhere, we need to find a way to put ranchers on a better economic footing.  They are not getting paid nearly enough.

          By the same token, we have discovered just how beneficial wolves are to the environment, and frankly cattle don't hold a candle to that.  Quite the contrary, it seems, with their methane emissions and desertification of the Southwest.

          So either we find a way to make sure ranchers get more of our food dollars, so the loss of even a few steers doesn't put them at the breaking point, or we give up beef.

          I would prefer to put the ranchers on sounder footing.  I have no desire to put them out of business.

          "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

          by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:49:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Jumping in here... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          winterbanyan, NCrissieB

          This has been a really interesting, if somewhat contentious, thread, into which I now insert myself and my famous, nearly Solomonic wisdom. Here's what I'm seeing:

          1. Wolves are good. They are used here as symbols of the natural ecology, separate from the endeavors of mankind. Natural ecology is good.
          1. Ranchers are good. Ranchers are people too, their lives are hard just like all of ours, and as people we like to eat what ranchers produce. People are good.
          1. The statements "people are good" and "wolves are good" are like clouds. We are quite certain about the middle of the cloud, but the edges are much harder to define. At what point does the statement "wolves are good", which is solid at the center, begin to break up and cease to be true?
          1. There will always be edges. We can move where the edge is, but we can't remove "edge-ness" from the picture. For example, we could have Svenson stop ranching and turn his acreage over to wild habitat, but that would just mean that some other rancher is now on the front lines. Or we could eradicate wolves from his neighborhood, creating a new boundary that has to be defended, and that will inevitably be transgressed by one side or the other, or both. The point is, there is no solution that doesn't have an edge, and the edge is always probelmatic.
          1. Parts of this discussion have revolved around the questions of expense-- how much does this or that cost in money terms, and who pays. Should Svenson pay the whole cost of further restoration of the wolf population, by losing his ranch, so that all humans can benefit in diffuse fashion from the incremental shoring up of the natural ecology? That's obviously not fair, but neither is it fair that all of humanity should suffer further critical loss of planetary habitability just so one family can have a really great ranch and make the kind of money that Americans have come to expect.

          Ultimately, all of this is about what we might call the Big Edge between civilized humanity and the natural world. Most of us here on this site would agree that we humans have been far too successful in pushing that Big Edge back, to the point that we are in real danger of dying from our own success. Our marvelous economic system, which has been responsible for that success, has not evolved in a way to solve this problem, quite the opposite-- it has evolved in a way to create this problem. The problem may be experienced most acutely by those, like Svenson, who happen to live at the edge, but it belongs to all of us. Sooner or later, one way or another, we will have to alter our economic system so that shepherds and cowboys are economic again; so that guys like Svenson aren't forced to pay a disproprtionate share of the costs of change; and so that the solution to our economic problems is not seen as being to take yet another chunk out of the already perilously skinny remainder of wild nature.

          •  Brilliant comment, DBunn (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            You're always the reason I come back in the late afternoon.

            Your clarity is exceptional as is your reasoning.  Unfortunately, many are paying for the human tendency to "overdo" everything, from agriculture to consumption.  You're right about the "edge" and we have too many people there right now.

            And we only make the edge worse by refusing to look at alternative solutions that will preserve our biosphere.

            "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

            by winterbanyan on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 01:14:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks, winter-b! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I find myself hanging around the MF thread more and more these days. The topics are stimulating, and the tenor of the discussion is both friendly and intelligent. Much credit to Crissie and the krew, including yew, for both of these things!

          •  Accepting the "edge." (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DBunn, winterbanyan

            My main focus this week will be on our need to accept that challenges are an inherent part of being alive.  In your terms, that we all live at "edges."  For far too long we've tried to push back the edges - to say we should "solve problems once and for all" so we no longer have to deal with those challenges - and to me that's a big part of why we face the environmental (and economic) crises we see.  One Size Fits All, Once And For All simply are not values nature will respect.  The sooner we accept that and decide that living with our challenges is our real place in the natural order, the sooner we'll be able to build a more sustainable society.

            Thanks as always for your kind and thoughtful comments!

            •  Edges are **everywhere** (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Not to be paranoid or anything, but have you noticed how just about every time we try to discuss anything-- moral philosophy, political strategy, economic policy, legal theory, what have you-- we come upon edges? It's creepy! They're starting to take over!!

              To be honest, it's making me just a little bit edgy :)

  •  Huh? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    Grizzlies and other carnivores either eat what the wolves leave behind, or may even drive them off a kill.  Regardless, the ready availability of adult elk carcasses taken down by wolves means more young elk reach maturity.

    shouldn't that be more young grizzlies?

    Good morning! :) and ::huggggggggggggggs:: to the Kula Krew and DK GreenRoots!

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:20:29 AM PDT

  •  wolves are good for the fish (8+ / 0-)

    I live in wolf country (Minnesota) and have taken that as a point of pride (though it's undue since I have never actually seen one in the wild but I have often heard them and seen prints and scat and leftover meals).

    But that's not my point.  I would add to the contention that wolves are to the northwoods what the Everglades are to the Florida wilderness.  Recent studies (wish I could steer you towards proper attribution) show that where wolf populations are healthy, water quality and fish health is improved.  Here's how it works:  Without wolves the elk population skyrockets which diminishes the tree population which causes erosion issues which is bad for the water which is bad for the fish.  Where wolves have been reintroduced the stream and lake fishing is much improved.

    Wolves are cute too.

    •  That makes perfect sense! (5+ / 0-)

      And thank you for noting it.  I was in junior high school when the Endangered Species Act was passed, and our earth sciences teacher talked about what a change it was from the early 20th century thinking that we could re-route rivers, drain wetlands, and extinguish species with impunity.  We're still learning how much we had misunderstood back then.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggs::

    •  Salmon are good for the forest (4+ / 0-)

      No wolves where I live, but here on the NorCal coast we have salmon, or at least we're supposed to. Lately, the salmon population has been in a crisis, much of which is a direct result of blatantly political anti-environmental decisions of the Bush admin, but that's not what this comment is supposed to be about, so I'll try to turn off 'rant-mode' now.

      Commencing actual comment here: Salmon live most of their lives in the ocean, then swim up the freshwater rivers and streams to spawn and die. Effectively, they are aggregating hundreds of tons of ocean nutrients into their bodies, then transporting those nutrients hundreds of miles inland. The spawning or dead salmon are eaten by all the local wildlife-- bears, raccoons, birds, insects-- who transport and deposit those ocean nutrients all over the forest when they poop or die. It's an astonishing cycle of fertilization, when we let it happen, which we often don't for "economic reasons" that lead us to block the salmon migration by building dams, or destroy salmon habitat through development, or divert the freshwater the salmon need to service industrial agriculture in some other place. In places where the salmon run still flourishes, the local forests are demonstrably healthier.

      Healthy forest --> healthy river --> healthy salmon --> healthy forest. Funny how often we see that pattern, isn't it?

  •  Thanks for this awesome diary! (6+ / 0-)

    I think there's something to be appreciated in all "wild" animals, and I just hope we don't lose another species because of humanity's "dislike" of wolves. People and wolves can live in the same world ... and since we're the more "evolved" species, we have to take it upon ourselves to find a way to co-exist.

    Please support equality in California:

    by Curiosity on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:46:23 AM PDT

  •  Good morning Blogistan! (5+ / 0-)

    How are all of you today?

  •  Awooooooooooowooooohhh! nt (1+ / 0-)
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