Wolves are key
To the Journal editor:
I’m writing in response to a letter written by Bob Johnson, which appeared in your paper on Jan. 20, that advocates the killing of Upper Michigan’s wolves. Johnson blames wolves for “killing and eating our cattle, sheep, dogs, cats, etc.” as well as attacks on humans. Let’s put Johnson’s arguments in perspective.
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, wolves killed 13 livestock animals and 17 dogs across Upper Michigan in 2013. Johnson asks wolf advocates to “explain what is humane about wolves eating these animals alive.”
He forgets that nationwide, humans kill – under very barbaric conditions for a species that supposedly knows right from wrong – 10 billion farm animals every year just to enjoy a tasty meal, not to satisfy an instinct to survive like wolves. In fact, humans can survive (and be quite healthy) on a strictly plant-based diet. Wolves, like cats, are obligate carnivores. Although the death of any livestock animal does present a financial loss for farmers, Michigan does compensate those people for wolf depredation of their animals. With only 13 livestock animals killed a year, this compensation isn’t going to break the state’s budget.
How about the 17 dogs? While the death of any companion animal is tragic, veterinary experts estimate tens of thousands of companion and wild animals die annually from antifreeze poisoning across the country. If Johnson wants to exterminate wolves to prevent pet deaths, shouldn’t we also ban antifreeze?
The DNR indicates there have been no wolf attacks on humans since those animals began returning to the U.P. around 1990. In fact, there have been only a handful of wolf attacks on people in all of North America since 1950, and most of these were by wolves kept (unwisely) as pets. Many more people have died in hunting accidents during this time. Should we ban hunting to prevent unnecessary mortality?
Many more wolves than today lived in Upper Michigan eons before Europeans settled this area. Native Americans, recognizing the important role these animals played in maintaining healthy ecosystems and prey populations, respected wolves.
In fact, the threat to people, pets, and livestock posed by wolves is too low to justify the persecution and extermination of this species that plays a beneficial role in the long term. Michigan residents already can shoot wolves they see threatening pets, livestock, themselves or other people.