Editorial: Wolves Shouldn’t Be Hunted

Allyson Lin, Caopy Editor

Conservative lawmakers in Idaho and Montana have passed new laws to reduce the number of wolves in those states drastically, according to NPR. The law allows people to kill 90% of them. 

Concerns over the animal’s impact on livestock and wild prey have long festered among ranchers and some hunters and reached the floor of Idaho’s House of Representatives last April.

Twenty-five years ago, federal wildlife officials reintroduced wolves to Idaho. The numbers increased in 2011, so the animal came off the endangered species list. Since then, hunters have legally killed hundreds every year.

Michael Lucid, a biologist in Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game who helped write the state’s wolf management plan before the new law, says big herds of elk don’t mean healthy ecosystems. While the presence of wolves changes elk behavior, the animals congregate less and spend more time at higher elevations. Lucid said the predator actually makes its prey species healthier by “reducing disease and culling older and weaker members of those herds.”

Farmers are always concerned about wolves killing their cattle, and the law would now allow them to hunt down any wolf that comes across their property freely and legally. Wildlife biologist Cristina Eisenberg counters that idea. 

“Hunting wolves disrupt[s] their society and destabilize[s] their packs. Packs may split into smaller packs made up of younger animals, with a greater influx of unrelated individuals. And younger, less-complex packs may kill cattle or approach humans for food,” Eisenberg said about a case study, according to LivingWithWolves.

Lawmakers should not be allowed to make such environmental decisions. There is clear proof, (with common sense) based on numerous case studies, that removing predators from their ecosystem will ultimately dramatically increase prey numbers. Then, the plant life will be affected. There is a reason why predators exist – to balance the food chain.

There are biologists and wildlife experts who are clearly against this law. Legislators should remove the law allowing hunters to hunt wolves to extinction as the professionals in that area do not agree. We have been through this already, and wolf numbers were almost completely decimated. We cannot allow this to happen anymore. 

Furthermore, wolves in Native American cultures represent strength, loyalty, and success at hunting. 

They are considered closely related to humans by many North American tribes, and the origin stories of some Northwest Coast tribes, such as the Quileute and the Kwakiutl, tell of their first ancestors being transformed from wolves into men.

In Shoshone mythology, a wolf plays the role of the noble Creator god, while in Anishinabe mythology, a wolf is a brother and true best friend of the culture’s hero. Among the Pueblo tribes, wolves are considered one of the six directional guardians associated with the east and the color white. The wolf is clearly a sacred symbol in Native American culture, so to hunt down and kill them mindlessly would be devastating.

As someone who loves the animal, the fact that states would allow the slaughter of these beautiful creatures is outrageous. We need to better protect wolves because the ecosystem depends on them.