Looking to Make America (Ecologically) Great Again? Wolves are the answer!

Looking for an opportunity to “Make America Great Again” without having to vote for Donald Trump? Here’s your chance!

Recently, President Obama commemorated the 100th anniversary of America’s National Parks system by designating the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine. This 87,500 acre (roughly 140 square miles) reserve is a groundbreaking opportunity for both wildlife and woodlands conservation efforts. As Char Miller notes in an op-ed for the Pinchot Institute for Conservation “It serves as a model for the kind of private-public partnerships that are redefining the conservation movement”, a new style of conservation where the private and public sector work together to achieve conservation goals[i]. This is an unparalleled executive move for a sitting U.S. President, and sets a great precedent for future conservation in the United States. Some have boasted that this national monument will hinder economic progress, but in actuality there is evidence against such a claim. In reality what this provides is a real opportunity to “Make America Great Again” (at least ecologically), a chance to restore the eastern forests of the United States to their prime condition.

And all we have to do is release a few wolves?

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument offers an unparalleled opportunity for the reintroduction of the Eastern Wolf, which has been eradicated in the forests of eastern America. Despite the ecological conservation potential, some have scoffed at the monument, calling it an unnecessary government overreach and an undue burden upon rural Mainers who don’t want it.

wolf-ap-2015_0006_web

The Eastern Wolf: By Scott Martin Photography[i]

Long labeled as the villain during the settlement of the east, the Eastern Wolf was shot to extinction within the United States. There is a small but stable population of Eastern Wolves resides in Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, and transferring a small colony of wolves to establish a breeding population would be rather simplistic. And besides, there is already a working model found in Yellowstone National Park

How do we make this work?

We’ve done this before. Gray Wolves from Canada were released in Yellowstone, and now roam the landscapes in and around the park. Guess what else? There was little to no collateral damage, no fatalities, no maulings. Nothing negative happened.

But what about economic losses from closing this land from private sector profits? (Also note: this was private land donated to the federal government).

Some will argue that establishing this monument will rob Maine of economic perspectives, saying that the conservation of these resources will limit economic growth and opportunities. But on the contrary, the establishment of a national park on said land, the only national monument east of the Mississippi with the potential to rear wolves, would actually bring in vast sums of money. In addition to the federal money poured in for operations, entrance fees, and grants, ecotourism related to wolves brings in millions of dollars. Yellowstone has actually made money from its wolf reintroduction program through ecotourism. So what’s the objection? Clearly this makes economic and ecologic sense.

Maine provides some of the most suitable habitat for wolf reintroduction in all of America. A scientific study yielded nearly 20,000 square miles of habitat suited for wolves in Maine[i], with even more area that they could expand to with minimal affect on humans. This new monument would be a perfect cornerstone for further reintroduction and a testament to the America that existed before man tamed it for his own means. Wolves will naturally propagate and expand their territory, but will not frequently come into contact with humans.

And really who wouldn’t want to see a legend of American folklore restored to their natural place in the food chain? All the pieces of the puzzle are right in front of us. What we have here is the perfect opportunity to “make America great again”, and take back our natural history by placing wolves back in their habitat. All we need to do is get the ball rolling, make our voices heard, and bring back the echoing howls of the wolf to the east coast of the United States of America.

 

 

 

[1] Char Miller. August 29th, 2016. The Pinchot Wire: Private Cash, Public Lands- Why the Katadin Woods and Water National Monument Matters. The Pinchot Wire.

http://www.pinchot.org/articles/586

[2] Scott Martin Photography. November 2015. The Fox & Wolf of Algonquin Park. http://www.scottmartinphotography.ca/2015/11/the-fox-and-the-wolf-in-algonquin-provincial-park/

[3] Richard P. Thiel and Adrian P. Wydeven. November 2011. Eastern Wolf (Canis lycaon) Status Assessment Report Covering East-Central North America. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resouces. Pg. 34-35. https://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/aboutwolves/pdf/thielwydeveneasternwolfstatusreview8august12.pdf

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted in Conservation Biology Posts, Conservation Editorials 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

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