The Endangered Species Coalition, along with Wolfwatcher, Nature 365, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife, among others, have launched a year long campaign in the Western Great Lakes to help demonstrate that wolves are a public asset, beloved by the citizens who live here. The majority of citizens, including those living amongst wolves, representing all walks of life including hunters, hikers, naturalists and farmers of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan believe that wolves belong on the landscape and understand the vital role wolves play in the ecosystem. The goal of the campaign is to engage and educate others about the benefits of wolves.
[expand title=”Top Ten Reasons we Love Wolves”]
Reason 1: Making ecosystems great Without wolves and other large predators, ecosystems can go haywire. A 2001 study found that when wolves went extinct in Yellowstone, for example, the moose population ballooned to five times its normal size and demolished woody vegetation where birds nested. As a result, several bird species were eliminated in the park.
Reason 2: Scavengers Scavengers thrive when wolves are around. The species that help themselves to wolves’ leftovers include (PDF) ravens, magpies, wolverines, bald eagles, golden eagles, three weasel species, mink, lynx, cougar, grizzly bear, chickadees, masked shrew, great gray owl, and more than 445 species of beetle.
Reason 3: Healthy soil Wolf kills are also good for the soil. A 2009 study in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park found that wolf-killed elk carcasses dramatically enhanced levels of nitrogen and other nutrients.
Reason 4: Carrion Wolf kills feed more animals than hunting by humans, since wolves scatter their carrion over the landscape. Wolf kills benefit (PDF) three times more species than human hunting kills. The carcass above was a bull elk killed by a pack of eight wolves in Agate Creek, Yellowstone. The skeleton was picked clean by wolves and scavengers in less than five days.
Reason 5: Bringing other species back When wolves disappeared from Yellowstone, coyotes preyed on pronghorn almost to the point of no return. But since wolves have returned, the pronghorn have come back. In fact, pronghorns tend to give birth near wolf dens, since coyotes steer clear of those areas.
Reason 6: Keeping deer and elk moving Deer and elk congregate in smaller groups when wolves are around. This helps reduce the transmission of illnesses like Chronic Wasting Disease.
Reason 7: Controlling Chronic Wasting Disease Chronic Wasting Disease is a major threat to elk and deer in the West. Wolves can help by reducing sick animals’ lifespans, in turn limiting the amount of time they can spread infections.
Reason 8: Rivers and streams Yellowstone elk are less likely to overgraze near rivers and streams—damaging fragile ecosystems—when wolves are in the neighborhood.
Reason 9: Climate change Wolves help protect against climate change. A 2005 UC Berkeley study in Yellowstone concluded that milder winters, a product of climate change, have led to fewer elk deaths. This left scavengers like coyotes and ravens scrambling for food, but the problem was far less pervasive in areas where wolves were around to hunt elk.
Reason 10: Tourism Wolf tourism is an economic boon (PDF). Restoration of wolves in Yellowstone has cost about $30 million, but it’s brought in $35.5 million annual net benefit to the area surrounding the park.[/expand]
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