Being a prey animal in the U.S. is not an easy existence. Grizzlies and wolves were once on the endangered species act, but due to efforts from conservationists and wildlife managers these animal’s populations have risen, to where they no longer need to be listed on the endangered species list. Grizzlies now stand at 600 in Yellowstone Park versus the 300 back in 1975 when hunting was allowed. Wolves have spread out from Yellowstone into surrounding states and all of these gains are making humans nervous again. Prey animals serve a purpose. They cull the weak out of elk, bison, pronghorn sheep, deer, and keep these populations in check. Local governors and state wildlife managers think its time to allow hunting again. Ranchers don’t want to lose livestock, and then you have the occasional idiot who gets killed by provoking a grizzly. The U.S. court system is not allowing this to happen, at the moment. But, local politicians feel it’s a local issue, and not a federal one. The question we need to ask ourselves is just how selfish of a species are we? I can’t imagine 600 grizzlies being a threat to mankind, nor can I envision an outbreak of wolves entering suburbia like the coyote has. But, we really need to consider exactly how many prey animals can we live with here in the U.S. The ubiquitous coyote has re-entered amongst us in cities and suburbia. An occasional pet poodle is eaten, but places like the city of Chicago are protecting them because they are eating rats and rabbits that have gone wild in the city. Here we welcome back this prey animal. I don’t expect to see a grizzly or wolf roaming Lake Shore Drive, but I can see them spreading throughout the American Rockies, and I think that is a good thing for the American ecosystem.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis