Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Delisting of Wolves in the Midwest Overturned in Federal Court

Some people should just be spanked. This from today's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel:
A federal judge on Monday overturned a decision that removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The ruling immediately halts the practice of killing wolves that threaten livestock and pets in the three states.

OK, that's bad enough. Wolves have rebounded beautifully in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the upper midwest, and poulation pressure is forcing them into more heavily populated areas, placing them into close contact with farms and residential areas. But I love the judge's reasoning:
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington, D.C., said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not remove wolves from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region while wolves remained endangered in other parts of the country.

That is utter horseshit. It is absolutely possible to have a surfeit of an animal population in one area, while having a shortage in another (animals don't know from borders, your honor: they go where the food is).

Of course, the Humane Society, who brought the suit that led to the decision (BTW: the HS is qualified to speak on issues of wildlife management how?) is feeling smug and self-righteous about the decision:
Karlyn Berg, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, said her organization was pleased by the ruling.

There are instances when problem wolves need to be killed, but she said, “people want to continue to go back to the old way of management that humans have to kill a certain number of wolves to make everything hunky dory.”

No, sweet little deluded darling: the old method was to kill any wolf on sight. The current method is to let them breed until they're up to our eye-teeth.

We we want to try a new way of management: maintaining populations at a sustainable level.

This is why I believe that in any case when wildlife management is under question, animal rights activists and most environmentalists should be patted on the head and led off into a corner somewhere to play with their dollies and blocks. It's all a Disneyesque, touchy-feely question for them. No brain cells allowed.

Now, I love wolves. I'll never forget the first time I heard a pack calling in northern Wisconsin while I was camping a few years back: it was a blustery early October night: cold, with snow flurries flying. Suddenly, the howls drifted into our campsite. The pack sounded very close, perhaps only a mile or two away. It was deliciously spooky.

But I don't let my admiration for the species overwhelm my judgment. These animal populations are no longer in a natural balance, and will never return to that balance as long as human civilization is present. We obliterate that balance simply by dint of our need for space and food. Until we control our own population, we have a responsibility to take an active hand in managing animal populations. Unfortunately, managing animal populations is not a one-way street. Expecting natural processes to control animal population growth is unrealistic in the extreme. A few years ago, sand hill cranes were all but unheard of in Wisconsin. Now we're hip deep in them. A few years ago there were almost no bald eagles here. Now we have over 1100 nesting pairs and they're dumpster-diving behind McDonald's.

Animal populations rebound, folks: and when they do, they often rebound hard (especially if the animals become acclimated to the presence of humans). We failed to move quickly enough to rein in the Canada Goose, and they are now actively pests in every urban area in the upper Midwest.

Maybe we should enlist the cat-people. Tell them that the wolves eat kitties, and those morons will go to war against PETA and its ilk. That'd be fun to watch.

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