Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Do ranchers have a right to a predator-free landscape? In this article on New West, George Wuerthner ponders that very question. He compares the way ranchers “externalize” one of the costs of raising livestock to the way power companies externalize the costs of reducing pollution–both require tax payers to clean up the mess. He goes on to describe how responsible ranchers are taking extra steps to protect their livestock and reduce conflict with wild animals.

A female wolf nurses her pups in Yellowstone. Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Nothing draws a crowd like the chance to see wolves, especially when they’re in the lobby of your local law school. But the wolf supporters who packed the University of Denver Sturm College of Law building on Nov. 17 also want to see wolves in the wilds of Colorado. The event, put on by Wild Earth Guardians and DU’s environmental law clinic and co-sponsored by Defenders, was intended to raise awareness and garner interest in plans to reintroduce wolves to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since wolves were eradicated there nearly a century ago, elk populations in the park have soared, wreaking havoc on natural plant and animal communities. Restoring wolves could help bring balance to the ecosystem by controlling prey populations, similar to the effects that have been documented in Yellowstone.

The Wyoming court’s decision last week means wolves in the Northern Rockies are likely to be in limbo a while longer. As this Casper Tribune editorial points out, Wyoming still needs to get a plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that meets the minimum recovery goals outlined in the ESA. The alternative to continued litigation is for all parties to come together and agree on a viable delisting plan.