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Old 01-31-2009, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default Can wolves restore an ecosystem?

Can wolves restore an ecosystem?
Wolves last roamed the Olympic Peninsula nearly a century ago. A controversial new study argues the absence of these predators has led to dramatic and often destructive shifts in the area's ecology.
by Sandi Doughton
Seattle Times science reporter

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm..._wolves25.html
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THE HOH RAIN FOREST No trace remains of the wolves whose howls ricocheted for millennia down the lush valleys of the Olympic Peninsula.

Settlers and trappers killed them all in little more than three decades.

But the loss of the stealthy predators in the early 1900s left a hole in the landscape that scientists say they are just beginning to grasp. The ripples extend throughout what is now Olympic National Park, leading to a boom in elk populations, overbrowsing of shrubs and trees, and erosion so severe it has altered the very nature of the rivers, says a team of Oregon State University biologists. The result, they argue, is an environment that is less rich, less resilient, and perhaps in peril.

"We think this ecosystem is unraveling in the absence of wolves," said OSU ecologist William Ripple.

Everything from salmon to songbirds could feel the fallout from the missing predators, the scientists say.

It sounds hard to believe, but the research adds to growing evidence that key predators do more than simply keep prey species in check. Most famously, Ripple and his OSU colleague Robert Beschta showed that within three years after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and elk populations fell, pockets of trees and shrubs began rebounding. Beavers returned, coyote numbers dropped and habitat flourished for fish and birds.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:45 AM   #2
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An excellent example of what an ecosystem is: everything affects everything else.

Not something that is easy to understand when the concept of a wolf to most people is a picture of a wolf - not his social relationships, his diet, his territory, his habitat, etc.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:48 AM   #3
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That little rule of physics shows up in unexpected places in nature

For every action, there's that little reaction you have to deal with at some point. Even when it comes to wolves, snakes and other things people would rather not have on their property.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:59 AM   #4
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In Alabama people hate snakes to the point they have killed king snakes almost to extinction. king snakes are predators on copperheads and other poisonous snakes that are now proliferating because their predators are gone.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:09 PM   #5
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In the midwest US, we are have a similar problem with white tail deer...lack of predators has turned animals that were once browsers into hogs.
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Old 01-31-2009, 01:35 PM   #6
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up home in Michigan the deer predators have been replaced with hunters who invade private property every November. They always manage to shoot a cow and even my beloved collie dog once. Id rather have the original predators back and keep inexperienced hunters off private property.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:08 PM   #7
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I'm with a conservation organization - a group of hunters. I don't hunt personally (not a fan of being cold and miserable) but I organize their outdoor activities for disabled folks.

I can tell you that our guys and gals are serious hunters and are not fans of the Weekend Warrior type hunters either. There's a code of ethics, safety and sportsmanship to consider - something the hunter-wanna-be doesn't grasp, and the Occasional Hunter forgets.

On opening weekend, the real hunters avoid public lands if they have a choice, because that's when you have lots of people who don't know what they're doing roaming the woods, marshes and fields with guns.

Sorry to hear about your collie.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:48 PM   #8
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As long as I can remember November was when you stay out of the woods until the hunters leave. Its just too dangerous.
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:25 PM   #9
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I'm a proponent of reintroducing wolves.
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:46 PM   #10
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Where do they get wolves for reintroduction projects? Where are there plenty to spare?
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