The Sky Won't Fall if We Let Predators and Prey Strike a Natural Balance
Letters / Anchorage Daily News / December 14, 2006
Kerry Crandall's letter was a typical "Chicken Little" approach to wildlife management. He frets that after 50,000 years of co-existence, suddenly Alaska's wolves are going to decimate the moose and caribou. His description of them "multiplying virtually unchecked" ignores the 50 percent mortality of wolf pups in their first year. Adults are subject to starvation, parasitic infestation, severe and fatal injuries from moose and fellow predators, and an average annual take of 1,600 wolves by humans.
Other errors in Crandall's letter include his example of the cougars in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Web site 2006 hunting forecast notes: "Š a slow, long-term decline in the black-tailed deer population thought to be caused by habitat changes on forest lands. Š" The same Web site notes: "Elk populations appear to have remained stable in 2006 following a very mild winter in much of the state." Indeed, its opening sentence of its regional forecasts makes note not of predation effects but of weather and habitat conditions as major factors in population numbers.
Finally, Mr. Crandall talks about apex predators. There is only one apex predator that has consistently been shown to be the cause of species' extinctions: humans. Wolves, moose and caribou have evolved together over millennia to a nicely tuned natural choreography. Bounties, airborne shooting and the other efforts Mr. Crandall would institute are the real dangers to our wildlife.
-- Art Greenwalt / Fairbanks
EDITOR'S NOTE: The writer is a board member for the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.