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Wolves and Ecosystem Stewardship

February 2, 2010

The current issue of BioScience has a very intriguing article about large predators and their role in ecosystem restoration.  “Using Small Populations of Wolves for Ecosytem Restoration and Stewardship” proposes0 a new wolf management paradigm for small natural areas which runs contrary to the current wolf recovery planning.  The recovery strategy always  involves large habitat areas and large numbers of wolves.  What these writers are proposing is a management system that can be used in addition to the “recovery” paradigm.

The writers are not being naïve in putting this idea forward.  Their proposal to introduce small wolf populations into carefully selected natural areas is put forward with an outline of the intensive management methods that would be required for success in the project sites.  GPS real-time tracking, methods of reproductive control, fences and virtual barriers are all discussed by the authors.

The authors also identify the political, social, and ethical considerations that will have to be debated and resolved in order before such projects can be implemented.  As I said, it’s a highly intriguing idea and worth examining.

The paper may be accessed at www.biosciencemag.orgWhether or not you go for the idea of small numbers of wolves working in a small natural area, the paper still provides good wolf biology and a discussion of the role that large predators play on the landscape. 

— Jim Margadant

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