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Endangered, But Not Enough Apparently

gray_wolf

Image source: www.groaction.com

Wolves are intelligent and social animals. They have an intricate pack hierarchy, each member dependent upon the others.

The loss of one member of a pack is like a human losing a family member.

Each pack has a male and female leader called the alphas and they are the only ones allowed to have pups. Litter size is usually 4 to 6 pups and they never have more children than the environment can provide for.

Wolves have their own communication system which includes their howling, barking, growling, posturing and scent making.

Wolves are known to keep wilderness habitat healthy for the forest ecosystem.

The wolf is the keystone species because they cull out weakened prey species and maintain the deer and elk populations that forage on the understory vegetation of the forest. Along rivers and streams, ungulates such as deer and elk do not graze for long periods of time due to the presence of wolves.

This “ecology of fear” improves the health of the water systems in the forests and meadows.

Studies in Yellowstone National Park have demonstrated just how valuable a healthy wolf population is to having young trees to grow to middle age.

Wolves were absent from Yellowstone National Park from 1927 when the last wolf was killed by bounty hunting.  After wolves were re-introduced in 1995 (with much public controversy) the Yellowstone river was brought back to a healthier state. The river bank has less erosion and supports more wildlife. More vegetation supports more beavers that have now damned up more streams and parts of the river. This results in cooler river temperatures and healthier fish. The increased vegetation also provides for a healthier bird and small animal habitat.

The sad story is that these intelligent animals are endangered and continue to be taken off the endangered species lists. They are hunted but not for food or resource.  Is it not time for change?

wolf-map-usa

Image source: www.graphics.latimes.com

 

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