Why Wolves Are Important

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New post from Cameron Frost

cameronfrostwolfI’ve worked to raise money for several animal-focused charities, but most of them have been smaller, domesticated pet causes.  One person can only donate so much time to so many things.  There is a whole kingdom of animals in need of real attention.  I was browsing causes dedicated to animals outside my normal purview and came across an article from Mother Jones.  It’s a slideshow called 10 Reasons We Need Wolves.  I thought it was a great summary about a topic that I’ve heard a lot about recently.

Wolves are part of a delicate ecosystem, not some above-it-all predator.  When wolves when extinct at Yellowstone, the ecosystem went absolutely haywire.  The moose population ballooned, and several other species went extinct!  Scavengers depend on wolves more directly, benefiting from the scraps left over by wolves.  And not only are wolf kills good for scavengers, they’re good for plant eaters.  A hunted animal left on the ground for a few days to decay is wildly good for the soil, enriching plants with more protein.  And wolves spread their carrion for miles, which means many more species and a greater area of land benefit from wolf kills than, say, human hunter kills.

So the above were all things I knew about wolves going into the slideshow, but there were some very interesting things I hadn’t known before.  For instance, the prey of wolves travel in smaller herds when there is a healthy wolf population.  This prevents the spread of disease among the elk population.  So more wolves mens it’s less likely many elk will die when a few get sick.  And when wolves are present, the lifespan of elk is lower, which means further protection from disease that older elk may be more susceptible to.

There’s more information there, along with some beautiful pictures of wolf habitats.  It was enough to spur me to search more for worthy causes going to repopulate the large swaths of the country where wolves have been intentionally wiped out.

from Cameron Frost http://cameronfrost.org/why-wolves-are-important/

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