Wolves: Wolf and Carter Niemeyer Essay

Submitted By preshis1
Words: 1969
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Wolves - An American Controversy
Jen Cole
March 4, 2012
Allison Martin

Since the early days of America, wolves have been a controversial species. Stories brought over by European settlers told of bloodthirsty man-eaters, though based upon folklore, they were believed to be true tales. These tales are still present in the fight to save an imperiled species. Human intolerance led to the near total destruction of this iconic animal by the end of the 1930s. Today, after a noble and moderately successful effort to restore them to their place in nature, we are once again repeating history. Wolves manifest an unwarranted fear, mostly of the unknown, but it is interfering with our ability to protect a species in need. Humans must learn to coexist with wolves and allow them to fulfill their roles in nature. Carter Niemeyer said; “The fate of wolves in this country has always come down to whether people will allow them to persist.” (Niemeyer, 2010, p222)
Documentation verifying wolf caused kills is not readily available, mostly because of the inability to prove that wolves had indeed killed an animal. Proving that wolves caused the kill required more work than government officials were allowed to do. Carter Niemeyer, who was in charge of wolf reintroduction, was one of the only wildlife biologists who took the time to find the real cause of death in livestock cases. For the government or Defenders of Wildlife to pay for loss of livestock, Carter had to sign off that he had verified the killer as a wolf. No other state or federal agency employee could do this, only his word was accepted. Most kills were not wolf related, but blamed on them because of fear. Ranchers were quick to place blame because they did not want to accept responsibility for a human or natural cause, because then no compensation was given. However, once Carter was called to investigate, they were proven wrong. He skinned out what was left of the animal, and performed a necropsy. Most ranchers agreed with his answer after watching him work and learning the different ways animals killed. Nevertheless, blame continues to be placed on wolves, no matter how obvious the reason or how many witnessed the truth. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Animal Damage Control Department were called to sites all over Montana, Wyoming and Idaho when the reintroduction began yet there was little evidence to support the claims. “Hunting Wolves in Montana – Where are the Data” reported: In areas where wolves and livestock coexist, wolves caused less than 1% of livestock deaths. This report covers totals for 2009, and although some animal deaths were unaccounted for in these statistics, the low percentage points to a virtually nonexistent problem. [ (Mallonee, 2011) ]
The wolf debate has been ongoing, starting before reintroduction. While part biology, part science and population based, the majority is not. Money, politics and public opinion seem to be the leaders in what happens to these animals. Some studies say the minimum sustainable population has been met, and to remove them from the Endangered Species Act, while other studies contradict those studies. Likewise, studies show trends leaning toward support for their survival, and others completely contradict them. Well-funded groups support the politicians who share their beliefs. Many economic bills written in the last couple of years had wildlife and environmental riders attached that were anti-wolf. The pro-wolf groups raise money to fight the politically based decisions, but it seems to be a stalemate. The longer these groups argue, the more money is wasted. Carter Niemeyer was put in the middle of this battle several times and always came away with the same view. If each side would just listen to the other, they would see they have more in common than they realize. He believes this will never happen, and wolves will pay the ultimate price. (Niemeyer, 2010) Both sides want smart management, livestock