Should we manage wolf populations?

The 21st century is the time of Artificial Intelligence, the time where cryptocurrencies thrive and people have learned that nature is irreplaceable. Or is it…? For many decades, since early development, people consider themselves as higher beings. Our never-ending search for knowledge leads to the fact that we have researched countless topics. With the acquired know-how, we often regard ourselves as the ones who have control over our surrounding environment. And with numerous mistakes from the past, you would think that we have learned to cherish the valuable and fragile ecosystems around us. But still we manage, even in developed and modern countries, to tend to fall back into the same pattern as in the Middle Ages. We are talking about the protection and conservation of nature, especially our large carnivores.

Please also read: EU: Four steps to solve wildlife conflict

An exemplary country

Switzerland, a well-developed country, famous for its Calanda wolf pack. The local authorities and hunters acknowledge that the wolves’ presence improves the forest health. And in the middle of their territory lives Astrid, a shepherdess who uses guard dogs to protect her sheep. For over several years, she has not lost a single sheep to wolf depredation.

But despite all the positive developments, this developed country considers to remove the wolf from the list of protected species. As a consequence, it would be fully legal to start killing of these animals. This message would not comply with the exemplary role that Switzerland currently has, as pioneer in the use of proper herd management and guard dogs.

Excuses to control wolves

France implemented their new Wolf Management Plan, doing more good for farmers than wolves. The country allows hunters to kill up to 12% of the wolf population every year. This way France wants to ‘control’ the wolf numbers. Or what about Norway? Ruthless and unjustified killing costs tens of wolves their lives, year after year. The European countries use different excuses to kill wolves. The latest excuse that wolf-dog crossbreeds threaten the wolf species, grows in Italy.  But is it really because we despise the wolf, is it a political game, or are there other reasons why we hate the wolf?

A delicate balance

Nature is an open-ended process that does not need human intervention, contrary to what many believe. Nature has supported species greater than humans, nature has destroyed species greater than humans. Nature finds a way to balance herself through complex ecosystems with countless actors. And just like this, the wolf plays a crucial role in nature’s balance. Contrary to the myths, fairytales and legends, the wolf is not a blood-thirsty creature. So should humans decide whether the wolf should survive?

As a predator, the wolf hunts. It will take the easiest prey that it can get of course. If people leave their livestock unattended, it is only a matter of time. This is part of the natural instinct of wolves. It is not a trained characteristic, neither a targeted consideration. It is nature. And in response, we are considering to kill the wolves, to solve the problem. Yet, we know that proper herd management is more effective than killing wolves.

Same applies to Wilderness

Just as with our large carnivores, human look at nature from the perspective of a police officer. If a species becomes invasive, we try to keep it under control, preferably with killing or capturing. We remove dead wood in forests to prevent spreading diseases, yet dead wood is crucial for many species. Humans always try to shape ‘nature’ to what we believe nature is. Nature is not an organised and cleaned up place. Nature is Wilderness, self-wiled land without human interference. We have to ask ourselves if we let us slip back into the Middle Ages. If we still believe that nature needs people, or if people need nature?

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