For the past two years, I’ve spent a few weeks of my summer tracking wolves in Idaho. The wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990’s, and have since been a hot issue for locals. Environmentalists, such as the defenders of wildlife, all agree that the reintroduction of this keystone species is crucial to ecosystem survival. Ranchers, on the other hand, believe otherwise. They claim that wolves are dangerous creatures that affect their livelihoods, and were eradicated for a reason. Last summer, the wolf population was sufficiently established for the hunt on wolves to be reopened. Some bumper stickers I noticed on the trip included “Wolves: Smoke a pack a day”. It’s clear at this point that this issue is incredibly emotional, and both sides need to explore the others points.
When it comes to the ecosystem, it is clear that wolf reintroduction has aided streams and rivers that were previously destroyed and trampled by herd animals such as elk. The wilderness of Idaho is one of the vastest in the lower 48, making reintroduction, in my opinion, important for the maintenance of this habitat that houses, among other creatures, deer, elk, cougar, bear, and some of the last pacific salmon habitat. For more information on this issue, check out this link.
Personally, wolf tracking has been an incredibly transformative experience, allowing me to deepen my personal knowledge of this apex predator. That being said, with their jaw snapping power of 2000 pounds per cubic inch, they’re not a creature I would like to come face to face with. Let’s remember that wolves are an animal to be respected, and admired at a distance.
(Photos by Eric Himelfarb)