The Silving Lining to Wolf Hunts

Environmentalists are upset that wolves can now be legally hunted in Idaho and Montana. Michael Hutchins provides some necessary context to this emotional issue:

There is no doubt that some individuals and organizations will have a difficult time shifting from a mindset where wolves are rare creatures that need every protection to one where wolves are common and can become pests.  To quote a 2005 article by Jim Robbins in Conservation in Practice (October-December: 28-34), “In the wake of successful wolf reintroductions, managers who once fervently defended wolves are now faced with killing them. Are we ready for modern predator management?”

Hutchins then points to a similar “transition” that had take place when the alligator population rebounded in Florida.

Once perilously close to extinction, these large reptiles have recovered as the result of government protection.  There are now some 1-2 million in Florida alone.  In order to manage potential conflicts between alligators and people, the state of Florida sanctions a regulated annual hunt.  In addition, it removes another 15,000 or so gators a year following public complaints of aggressive behavior.

As a conservationist, I can only hope that we are faced with many more of these dilemmas, as it will mean that carnivore conservation has been a roaring success.

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