A New York Times op-ed on Sept. 28 lays out in very clear terms why wolves are an important and necessary part of our world and of their habitats and why the lifting of the endangered species protections could spell their doom in Wyoming.
And with a headline like this — ‘Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf’ — the piece, by author Mary Ellen Hannibal, should be the most-read online item this week.
It turns out, no surprise here, that wolves aren’t the worst of the food chain, valued only for their hides. They are an integral part of maintaining the ecosystem.
Since wolves were returned to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s (they were wiped out in the early part of the 20th century), “scientists have noted an unexpected improvement in many of the park’s degraded stream areas.”
Animals behave differently when wolves are around, and that helps the vegetation and waterways. With predators around, for example, elk don’t have time to browse vegetation down to the ground, so the plants can reproduce, and the vegetation in turn stabilizes stream banks.
This is a good line: “The wolf is connected to the elk is connected to the aspen is connected to the beaver.”
That sounds fun, but it’s very serious.
The extinction of top predators, like the endangered wolf, will have repercussions far beyond the loss of one species. Their place in the planet’s ecosystem matters.
– Linda J.