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Wolf Awareness

The wolf is a creature of mystery, a creature of power. Why is it that so many are afraid of this planet's predators? Are we truly afraid of them, or do we just not understand? Every single animal has a role to play one way or another. Whether it is to serve as food for one species or to help control the population of another. Everything has a place whether we can see it or not, and the wolf has just as an important role to play.

Some see the predators on this planet as a danger to not only us, but also a danger to some our ways of life. Many who have livestock fear them because they may try to hunt their animals and in the end they will lose money and suffer. Others fear them because they are powerful animals and fear them just out of simple stupidity. All over the planet we are killing an important role in the ecosystem, and not always out of fear, but also some for profit. And it is not just the wolves, but all predators including lions, tiger, crocs., etc. Then in many areas, especially in the US we are seeing a dramatic rise in the amount of prey animals, especially deer because there are not enough predator species to keep them in check. So we resort to killing them on our own to try and keep them in check. However, it will never work because we have a systematic way of killing them mainly by sex and age. But the predators will not pick and choose them in that way, but other ways that will weed out the weak making it that only the strong survive. But now there are too many of some prey and they are starving because there is too much competition for food.

In this day and age more people are worried about getting ahead and making money than taking care of the environment or even having fun. We need more people like Steve Irwin, that didn’t necessarily want to become famous, but just wanted to do what he loved and help to inform people that just because we might see an animal as evil, it's just because of our ignorance and fear that we may perceive it like that. What Steve did was not just a job for him but it was also a way of life and for his love of animals that he did what he did. There is a balance in this country and many others that is slipping further and further from the normalcy, because we are disrupting it for our own benefit. Even though many believe that some animal populations are getting out of control, it is actually people that are getting out of control. We are the ones that are multiplying at an alarming rate, consuming more and more resources, and polluting. We need to realize that it may not be that some animal populations might not be increasing, but we are decreasing their land and therefore we are seeing more of the species since they are confined to a smaller area.

Once we get wolf populations up enough in zoos and reservations to the point where we can reintroduce them into the wild where there will be enough packs to make everything stable it will then be up to us to make sure that they continue to flourish. But people as a whole are a long way off with dealing with the reintroduction of wolves. Because they are already wolf packs that have been reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, and there have even been problems there. Because every so often they might get turned onto a neighboring farms livestock because the leaders of the pack decided on it. And the only solution that we can think of is just getting rid of the one that is leading the attacks on the farm. I understand that farming might be their way of life and they can't afford to loose any livestock, but that's just it people as a whole just can't stop thinking about themselves.

In Yellowstone National Park they were doing research on why there has been hardly any new aspen tree growth and all of the older trees are dying off. They had found that most of the growth had stopped in 1930 when the last wolf was killed in Yellowstone. Then in 1995 while conducting a completely different experiment, 31 Grey wolves were imported from Canada to Yellowstone. The wolves travel in packs so they can take down larger prey than most other predators that hunt alone. And now there are roughly 16 packs and over 140 wolves in Yellowstone. They are even more important to the ecosystem that the obvious reasons, because their kills not only feed them but literally hundreds, because the leftovers from a wolf pack kill can also feed coyotes, vultures, hawks and many different types of insects. The elimination of Yellowstone wolves allowed elk to browse aspen trees willingly and now where elk are on the run trees and shrubs are now coming back. Since things are starting to go back to normal there are also other animals coming back that have been absent, like the beaver. It was found out that wolves, through elk, through the vegetation, might actually control the character of the Lamar River, since they are seeing such a shift in the way it looks. By putting back one thing were restoring a whole system and how it works. Bringing back predators invites surprises. It isn't tidy. Whether we decide to expand this strategy depends on our willingness to see adversaries in a new way. Predators are a powerful force that keeps ecosystems strong and resilient.

When you think of wolves, they just seem to encompass everything about the wild. Whenever there's a big undisturbed forest in a movie you can always seem to hear the howl of a wolf pack in the distance. I think that everyone would like to sit on a ledge overlooking a forest and a clear lake at dusk just to hear the call of wolves off in the distance. Because it is a sound that is eerie but also amazingly soothing at the same time.

We can only hope that people open their eyes before it is too late for other species and for ourselves. Because now predators, once fearsome beasts, now look out on a world overrun by humans. The very survival of big predators is now at stake. When once we asked, "can we live with them?" we are now asking, "can we live without them?" That more heroes like Steve Irwin arise to help spread the word and do their part to help animals. That we can't just help ourselves, but also everything else that we share this planet with. Because until we can learn to live in peace with animals, then we won't be at peace with ourselves. But what we all need to remember is a little line from The Lord of the Rings, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Philip Stefancin - 2006

View the National Wolf Awareness Week 2006 Honorable Mentions
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