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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wolf 'translocation'

Who says there is no good news?

Not me, why just last week the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced plans to bring wolves back to the Olympic Mountains and I can't wait.

The wolf reintroduction plan mumbo jumbo says the wolves will be "translocated" from other areas of the state where people are sick of them. This is different from wolf "relocation" plan that got the locals so steamed the last time the state tried it. However the wolf is located here doesn't matter.

The howl of the wolf is the true symbol of the wilderness. It was really too bad that wolves were eradicated back in the 1920s in the first place.  Even back then, the wolves had become a casualty, like the hundred pound salmon and the poor bull trout, of the human over-population of the Olympic Peninsula. 

I can think of no better way to restore the wilderness that once was the Olympic Peninsula than with the return of the wolf.

The reappearance of the wolf could be the key to the restoration of the entire ecosystem. This place once supported vast herds of elk and deer and packs of wolves that followed them with the seasons, from the Olympic Mountains in summer to the fertile lowlands in winter.

The delta of the Dungeness River was once prime wolf habitat. It was a 1,500-acre savannah grassland maintained by the Native American practice of periodic burning to provide feed that would attract game.

In the 1700s Captain George Vancouver named the area Dungeness because of the “lawns” that reminded him of the beauty of his native England.

In the 1800s James Swan described how the vast game herds of the Sequim Prairie were eradicated for the Victoria meat market. Swan advised hunters that any game shot on the Sequim Prairie had to be removed before dark, or be eaten by the wolves before morning.

By all accounts, the Dungeness delta was a paradise on earth that has been subsequently impacted by a sudden and dramatic increase in the human population. Millions of people have moved to Washington  since 1920 when the North Olympic Peninsula was first determined to be too small for humans and wolves.

Any responsible wolf recovery program would have to include a restoration of the wolf’s prey species, which would require the rehabilitation of their lowland winter habitat, and a significant reduction of the human population. 

I’m not suggesting that people be forcibly removed from their homes for wolf habitat, no. I would expect those who support the wolf habitat recovery program to move voluntarily.

Any reactionary anti-wolf obstructionists whose bourgeois sensibilities foster an unhealthy emotional attachment to their homes are liable to change their tune and become willing sellers after they are surrounded by packs of howling wolves.

The Olympic wolf was known to attack people.

 In June of 1916, Chris Morganroth was treed by a pair of wolves near the Lillian River. After the experience he said “a revolver has the same value in the Olympics as on the Texas border.”  

Morganroth was a pioneer homesteader who served as a forest ranger for 25 years. He survived shipwrecks, forest fires, floods and a plane crash in the high Olympics , all documented in the book, Footprints in the Olympics written by his daughter Katherine Morganroth Flaherty.

So what makes you think you’re tougher than he was?

Here in the state of Washington, we try to manage our game without hurting anyone's feeling.

Country folks are tired of getting their beloved pets and livestock eaten by the plague of cougars we are experiencing now.

Reintroducing the wolves will just make the cougars more ravenous. City folks love cougars. I would suggest the wolves be located  to a location that affords the maximum benefit to the ecosystem, at our State capitol,  Olympia. We'll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now. 

1 comment:

  1. I have seen grey wolfs in the olympics once when hunting, then in the park while riding my horse. I along with several other people have spotted them. I don't belive the wolfs will be a problem and sence we have logged most of the timber that now grows brush and grass there is more deer and elk. In squiem the elk seem to be a problem to most people the elk eat the flowers and garden crops this may help. Jackie Hunter