Viewpoint: Our ignorance toward the timber wolf
The wolf is a creature of mystery, but we are still more barbaric than this animal, once again hunting them, managed to totally eliminate the wolf from our state.
After a century of extinction, for some unknown reason, wolves came back to Wisconsin, slowly establishing packs and occupying suitable habitat. The return was unprecedented; the woods were second-growth, totally different from the old-growth forest that previously covered the state, now fragmented by many roads. But wolves found the new habitat suitable, they traveled those roads too, they could co-exist with humans.
In this age of science, a century after the first extermination of the wolf, biologists did not have answers; they guessed wrong on important questions like those I’ve mentioned. There was little knowledge of how animals within a pack related to each other, except in rudimentary ways. A subservient female can leave a pack, at times, to start her own pack, picking up a male to help form the new pack; she now becomes an alpha female. No one understands how this occurs, what triggers this move.
Yet still we go ahead with a hunting season on a animal we don’t know, just as we did a century ago, a second act of ignorance, even less forgivable now. We do not know the carrying capacity of the range, the limit to the number of packs. The wolf now prevents the spread of CWD in deer, yet still we allowed a hunting season on them.
It’s really not hunting: most of the wolves are trapped around bait piles and then shot when the trapper comes in the morning.
And what if hunting destroys the social structure of the pack, due to killing destruction of the hierarchy? In this age of science, of learning, it’s hard to believe we could be so ignorant.
Jerry Rau, Rhinelander