Can Wolves Restore An Ecosystem?

This seems to be a reasonable conclusion made by Dr. Bechta and Dr. Ripple who studied the Lamar Valley’s rehabilitation of cottonwood and willow following wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone NP. These researchers feel that wolves, if returned to the Olympic Peninsula, would help restore the flora as well as a balance in the fauna in the national park. They claim that elk are an obstruction to forest health by feeding on the young trees which appear to be unable to thrive there.

Can Wolves Restore An Ecosystem?

19 Responses to “Can Wolves Restore An Ecosystem?”

  1. jerry b Says:

    Leave it to Bangs to always put a positive spin on these ideas….isn’t it time to put him out to pasture. Retire Ed!!!

  2. Salle Says:

    Seems like he’s been waiting for “something to give” somewhere so that he can feel that it is safe to retire. Maybe he will in the next year or so.

  3. kt Says:

    Bangs says: “Wolves are magnificent, cool animals, but they’re a pain in the butt, too,” said Bangs, who fields the calls from ranchers whose sheep and cattle are picked off”. In reality, it is the public lands welfare ranchers that are a pain in the Butt – and they bite Bureaucrats like Bangs (via Risch, Crapo, and now it appears Minnick) if he does not yield to them.

    Time for ecological principles to dictate where wolves live – not the welfare cattle and sheep industry. Are you listening, Ken Salazar?

  4. Ken Cole Says:

    The one and only cougar I’ve ever seen was on the Hoh River. There is a high population of lions there. When talking to one person who lived there the subject of wolves came up and they said that they had taken a photo of a wolf there in recent years but I kind of find that doubtful. No real source population for them to come from and I highly doubt that a population would persist without being noticed.

  5. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Ken’s right, cougar can hang out unnoticed much easier than wolves.

    I’d think the rain forest would be ideal for cougar because of the branches they can rest on and wait for prey.

  6. Alan Gregory Says:

    Especially interesting to me in the Times’ article wee the sentences regarding vegetation losses and overbrowsing. Those are the same issues much of the beleagured Northeast has faced for decades due to overabundance of white-tailed deer.

  7. jdubya Says:

    We are beginning to hear this song enuf that maybe state Fish and Game will learn the words. Everyone on these pages already knows the Yellowstone cases well enough. Also an interesting study in Biological Conservation (2006:133:397-408 ) that looked at cougar populations in Zions and found that with more cougars had better control of deer population. Thus better riparian habitat and, most importantly, better fishing opportunity!! I am looking forward to reading this book entitled: “Where the Wild Things Were; life, death and ecological wreckage in a land of vanishing predators” by William Stolzenburg.

  8. Brian Ertz Says:

    it’s heartening that the trophic cascade is able to be articulated so well in parks.

    perhaps one day many more obscured public landscapes will enjoy predators’ restorative influence — once the cattle and sheep are removed.

  9. Linda Hunter Says:

    I disagree that would be hard for wolves to exist unnoticed. I believe that gray wolves have been living in ——–(a place they are not supposed to be) for the last ten years pretty well unnoticed except for the ones I have seen, tracks I have documented and the consistency of which I seem to find their tracks. However, no one believes me about this, which is how it should be. The packs are so small, two or three animals, that they get away with it.

  10. John d. Says:

    They’ve been saying this in public literature since 1991 and only now does the media get with the program.

    Gotta love the comments from the guy formerly from British Columbia – another bus stop avoider!

  11. jdubya Says:

    More on this from OSU…..lots of links to additional studies…go Beavers!

    http://www.forestry.oregonstate.edu/wolves/

  12. monty Says:

    Olympic NP has a very “healthy” cougar popularion & I believe that lions kill more elk than this article suggests. Olympic pennisula–draw an east/west line between the cities of Olympia & Aberdeen & everything north of this line–about 5 million acres–is in large blocks of federal, state or private timber lands with relatively few livestock & low human densities, a truely wild & wonderful place!!! . An excellent place to re-introduce wolves.

    Is anyone aware of any studies that show how lions & wolves interact? They co-evolved together for thousands of years so I assume that both species can co-exists, and thrive– on the same ground.

  13. Save bears Says:

    I think one of the biggest scientific arguments you will find against re-introducing wolves to the Olympic NP area, was brought up in the lawsuit against de-listing the Northern Rocky Mountain region, and that is the “genetic exchange” question.

    The Olympics are a lower population area that sure could support a good population of wolves, but with out more human intervention in the future, the possibility of genetic mixing is very low due to the nature and isolation of the area…

  14. Ralph Maughan Says:

    There are several formal studies and a lot of observations from Yellowstone, Glacier NP and other places.

    Wolves and cougars are antagonists and they will kill each other.

    I have posted stories on both types of interspecific mortality in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

    Lone wolves are at a disadvantage with cougars, but a pack of wolves will tree a cougar or catch a cougar and kill it. The wolves will sometimes (often?) wait under the tree for the cougar come down, fall out, etc.

    As a result of this competition, introduction of wolves to cougar territory does not necessarily have an additive effect on the number of prey killed.

  15. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Save Bears,

    You are right, but this is a case where Ed Bang’s otherwise lame “we’ll truck the wolves around” argument in the last attempt at delisting, may be relevant.

  16. Save bears Says:

    Ralph,

    You are correct, Ed’s trucking argument was indeed very lame, and I would think the ongoing cost as well as man power to capture and exchange wolves from the remote areas in the Olympic would be a major road block to reintroduction there.

    In the whole scope, it is a large area, but, it is bounded on all four sides with very large barriers to any migration…

  17. Layton Says:

    Wasn’t there a pretty comprehensive study done on this Olympic Penninsula thing about 15 years ago?? Seems to me I’ve seen it.

  18. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Yes it was, Layton.

    Maybe someone has a copy or a link?

  19. Moose Says:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=CuX&q=author:%22Ratti%22+intitle:%22Feasibility+Study+on+the+Reintroduction+of+Gray+Wolves+…%22+&um=1&ie=UTF-8&oi=scholarr

    “Feasibility Study on the Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to the Olympic Peninsula”
    – – – – –
    Moose, thanks! Ralph Maughan


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