Eric K. Ganshert: Colorado does need wolves
May 4, 2017
Contrary to Mr. Bowers' beliefs (stated in a letter to the editor in the May 4 issue of Steamboat Today), Colorado needs wolves. I encourage him to learn of the historic ranges of the Western Grey Wolf species. “Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West” by Michael Robinson is a good starting point.
Additionally, interested parties should learn about "anthropogenic trophic downgrading" and the downstream impacts, known as "trophic cascades." These impacts resonate from waterway health to the overall biodiversity of ecosystems and have been documented by dozens of studies published in peer-reviewed journals. William J. Ripple and Robert L. Beschta are PhD ecologists who have produced thorough literature on the subject.
If Mr. Bowers' concerns are for that of the hunting/livestock industry, I challenge him to produce data that proves wolves make a significant impact. According to the USDA's 2011 cattle death report, predator kills of cattle amounted to a minuscule 5.5 percent of total U.S cattle loss. Only 3.8 percent of predator-caused deaths were wolf related, compared to the 11.3 percent killed by dogs.
Regarding the hunting industry, a study comparing wolf and human kills of female elk found that the average age of a wolf kill was 13.9 years old, while the average age of a human kill was 6.5 years old (prime reproductive age). So, who is really doing the damage?
It's hard to comprehend, how some think the "millions" in economic impact is more valuable than the vitality of our Coloradan ecosystems. The truth is that Colorado reaps billions in benefits through ecosystem services and wildlife tourism.
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