Defenders of Wildlife reported today that nearly 1,000 wolves have been killed by hunting and trapping since Congress delisted them in the Northern Rockies in 2011. Wolves had only recently been restored to the Northern Rockies and despite their positive effect on the environment, they are being slayed in numbers that suggest the species is under attack. The wolf season remains open.
Wolves preserve an ecologic balance. For example, when wolves were eradicated from the Yellowstone 80 years ago, elk numbers increased, and groves of aspen—browsed heavily by these ungulates—declined. After wolves were reintroduced, young aspen trees began to thrive, restoring a keystone to the landscape. Wolves also affect predators such as coyotes, whose populations were reduced by nearly 50 percent after the wolf reintroduction. The process has layers of effects in terms of biodiversity of flora and fauna.
Thanks mostly to federal predator control and a conflict with the livestock industry, the gray wolf was extirpated from the West by 1945. These same policies and inclinations are driving wolf numbers downward. The ecologic healths of the regions are diminished as hunters and trappers try to win a war against the natural systems embodied by the wolf.
Sources: Defenders of Wildlife