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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 27, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Wolves in the Olympic Peninsula

AP Photo / U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A gray wolf rests in tall grass in this undated photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Gray wolves have been taken off the federal Endangered Species Act list in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Put an end to the pity party

Editor, The Times:

As an elk hunter, I always keep up on the latest sentiment regarding wolves. Sandi Doughton’s article hit numerous “hot buttons” of the debate, yet most of the issues hunters and ranchers subscribe to were buried in the end of the article [“Can wolves restore an ecosystem?” Times, page one, Jan. 25].

Front-page readers were greeted with an emotive introductory sentence: “No trace remains of the wolves whose howls ricocheted for millennia down the lush valleys of the Olympic Peninsula.”

Though the efficacy of wolf predation on certain species is not in dispute, introduction of canis lupus (the gray wolf) opens the proverbial Pandora’s box of problems, such that once introduced, wolves propagate quickly and, if not controlled through hunting, create as many problems as they may solve.

Wolves are a majestic predator, but we seem to have a fascination with them as something sacrosanct. Wolves have devastating effects on elk herds and other wildlife and, contrary to popular belief, do not hunt only what they need.

Yet, as Doughton stated, it’s illegal to hunt wolves, except in rare circumstances. Yet wolves are so fruitful in Alaska and Canada, they are considered vermin by many.

Wolves may indeed be the panacea forests and certain species of wildlife need for recovery, but they can also become prolific in a short period of time.

Many decent, nature-loving people are erroneously loath to see wolves hunted to regulate their numbers and range, to the chagrin of others.

— Thomas Martens, Bothell

Sympathy for the elk

It’s easy to believe that an overabundance of elk is causing environmental problems in Olympic National Park [“Can wolves restore an ecosystem?” Times, page one, Jan. 25]. And certainly, wolves would help with that, though they would also create problems for ranchers, which is why wolves were eliminated in the first place.

One would think that the easiest solution would be to allow hunting of the elk by humans, but this possibility is dismissed with the words, “. . . killing of animals inside a national park would not be popular. Wolves are.”

I think your reporter is forgetting that the elk are killed in either case. Either they are killed by a shot from a hunter, or they are killed by the teeth of a pack of wolves.

Were I an elk, I know which I would prefer.

— Jeff Evans, Kirkland

One species endangered, several preserved

Wolf advocates just won’t give up on selling the wolf as the answer to all ecology problems. What is missing in this discussion are the advocates of elk, deer and, in Alaska, caribou.

Have you looked into the precipitous declines of those animals after the introduction of wolves? Go find out what happened to Yellowstone, Montana and Idaho deer and elk herds after the wolf packs were reintroduced and what will happen to Washington herds now that wolves are in Northeastern Washington.

Go confirm that the caribou population in Denali National Park was reduced from 22,000 to 2,000 after the reintroduction of wolves. Go find out that the reproductive capability of these herds is hamstrung by wolves killing the calves, not just the weak and old animals.

Wolves are not the answer.

— Ronald Riedasch, Anacortes

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