Wolf Predation: More Bad News

Charles E. Kay. 2008. Wolf Predation: More Bad News. Muley Crazy, Sept/Oct 2008 (posted with permission of the author).

Full text:

As I explained in an earlier article, pro-wolf advocates are now demanding 6,000 or more wolves as one interbreeding population in every western state. Pro-wolf advocates also claim that predation, in general, and wolves in particular have no impact on prey populations. Recent research by Dr. Tom Bergerud and his colleagues, however, paints an entirely different picture and serves as a poignant example of what will happen to the West’s mule deer if pro-wolf advocates have their way.

Woodland and mountain caribou have been declining throughout North America since European settlement. Many attribute the decline to the fact that caribou must feed on aboral or terrestrial lichens during winter, a food that is being destroyed by logging, forest fires, and other human activities; i.e., modern landuse practices are to blame. While others attribute the decline to predation by wolves and other carnivores. To separate between these competing hypotheses, Dr. Tom Bergerud and his co-workers designed a series of simple but elegant experiments and have now accumulated 30 years of data.

In the northern most arc of Lake Superior lie a cluster of seven major islands plus smaller islets. The Slate Islands are five miles from the mainland at their nearest point and only twice during the last 30 years has winter ice bridged that gap. Terrestrial lichens are absent, plus the islands have been both logged and burned, making them unfit for caribou according to most biologists. The Slate Islands lack wolves, black bears, whitetailed deer, and moose, but caribou are indigenous. As a companion study, Bergerud and his associates chose Pukaskwa National Park, which stretches for 50 miles along the north shore of Lake Superior. In contrast to the Slate Islands, Pukaskwa has an abundance of lichens, which are supposed to be a critical winter food for caribou, but unlike the Slate Islands, Pukaskwa is home to wolves, bears, moose, and whitetails. Woodland caribou are also present.

So we have islands that are poor caribou habitat, but which have no predators, versus a nearby national park that is excellent caribou habitat but which contains wolves. Now according to what many biologists and pro-wolf advocates would have you believe, habitat is the all important factor in maintaining healthy ungulate populations, while predation can largely be ignored. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Habitat it turns out, is irrelevant and ecologists have been, at best, braindead for years.

Despite the supposedly “poor” habitat in the Slate Islands, Bergerud and his research team recorded the highest densities of caribou ever found anywhere in North America. Moreover, those high densities have persisted since at least 1949 when the herd was first censused. More importantly, the density of caribou in the “poor” habitat, but predator-free, Slate Islands was 100 times that in Pukaskwa National Park where predators hold sway. 100 times or 10,000% more caribou per unit area. A significant difference by any objective standard.

Then during the winter of 1993-94, a natural experiment occurred when Lake Superior froze and two wolves crossed to the Slate Islands. Within days, the two wolves proceeded to cut through the Slate Island caribou like a hot knife through butter. Because caribou, like mule deer, are exceedingly susceptible to wolf predation. Only when the two wolves disappeared did caribou numbers recover.

A second set of manipulated experiments was conducted when Bergerud and his associates transplanted Slate Island caribou to adjoining areas with and without wolves. A release to Bowman Island, where wolves and moose were present, failed due to predation. A second release to Montreal Island doubled in numbers until Lake Superior froze and wolves reached that island. A third release was to Michipicoten Island where wolves were absent but so too were lichens. Despite the “poor” habitat, those caribou increased at an average annual rate of 18% for nearly 20 years. A fourth release to Lake Superior Provincial Park on the mainland failed due to wolf predation. Thus, the data are both conclusive and overwhelming. Habitat is largely irrelevant because caribou numbers are limited by wolf predation. Bergerud goes so far as to say that managers have wasted the last 50 years measuring lichens! Remove the wolves and you have 100 times more caribou, even on supposedly “poor” ranges.

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15 Jan 2010, 10:20am
Homo sapiens Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Policy
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Two Views of the Serengeti: One True, One Myth

Charles E. Kay. 2009. Two Views of the Serengeti: One True, One Myth. Conservation and Society 7(2): 145-147, 2009

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

A book review of:

Sinclair, A.R.E., C. Packer, S.A.R. Mduma and J.M. Fryxell (eds.). Serengeti III: Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2008. x+522 pp. (Hardcover). ISBN 978- 0- 226-760339. (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-226-76034-6. and

Shetler, J.B. Imagining Serengeti: A History of Landscape Memory in Tanzania from Earliest Times to the Present. Athens: Ohio University Press. 2007. xiii+378 pp. (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8214-1749-2. (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-8214-1750-8.


Serengeti III is the third book that has come to print on the ecological studies conducted in the Serengeti ecosystem. The first book appeared in 1979, while the second was published in 1995.[1][2] The first two books of the series dealt primarily with wildlife issues and if indigenous people were mentioned at all, it was in the pejorative as ‘poachers.’ As this new volume is subtitled Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics, I was expecting a more balanced presentation of human-wildlife conflicts, but that turned out not to be the case.

Serengeti III contains 16 chapters by 57 authors, forty-one of whom are from Western Europe or North America, primarily the United States. Of the 16 authors that list a Tanzania or Kenya address, a large number are either from the West or have been trained in the West. Of the 16 senior authors, 15 are from the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe, while the one with a Kenya address was born in the United States and educated in Britain. In addition, the authors fail to acknowledge, or even mention, many of the major works that historians, social scientists and others have published on wildlife-human issues in Africa. … Needless to say, this biases the analyses and conclusions presented in Serengeti III.

The message of Serengeti III can be summarized in a few sentences. According to the authors, “The Serengeti is one of the premier natural ecosystems in the world” (p. 301), and “The Serengeti is a large, mostly pristine ecosystem [and] as such is one of the most positive examples of conservation in the world, and is a treasure for the entire planet” (p. 434). That is to say, the book’s fundamental premise is that the Serengeti is a wilderness without a human history of any importance. However, according to the authors, this idyllic state of nature is threatened by the indigenous people surrounding the park, who as the authors admit are some of the poorest people on Earth and who receive few benefits from western preservation. “The main conclusion is that unless human population increase in areas surrounding protected areas is stopped, or even reversed, the future of conservation in both the community areas and the protected areas will be seriously compromised” (p. 484). Judging by the general tone of Serengeti III, one wonders what ultimate solution the authors have in mind? Or is this simply a call to expropriate additional indigenous lands to create even larger buffer zones around the park? …

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22 Jan 2009, 2:29pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Research Methods Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Management
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Range Reference Areas and The Condition of Shrubs on Mule Deer Winter Ranges

Charles E. Kay. 2009. Range Reference Areas and The Condition of Shrubs on Mule Deer Winter Ranges. Muley Crazy Magazine. Vol 8(1):35-40.

Dr. Charles E. Kay, Ph.D. Wildlife Ecology, Utah State University, is the author/editor of Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature [here], author of Are Lightning Fires Unnatural? A Comparison of Aboriginal and Lightning Ignition Rates in the United States [here], co-author of Native American influences on the development of forest ecosystems [here], and numerous other scientific papers.

Full text:

After predator control, range management is the key to maintaining healthy populations of mule deer and other wildlife. It is not just habitat, but the condition of that habitat. For instance, how do you tell if a range is being overgrazed? One way is to establish what are called range reference areas. There are a few places that have never been grazed by livestock, such as steep-sided mesa tops, where the vegetation can be compared with nearby grazed areas. Unfortunately, there are very few places in the West that have never been grazed by livestock and there are even fewer that deer and elk cannot reach. So in most areas it is necessary for managers to create their own range reference areas by building exclosures, which they have been doing for years.

If you are working in a national park or on a winter range where livestock use is prohibited, it is a relatively simple matter to build an 8-foot tall fence around a representative plant community, such as willows, aspen, grasslands, or upland shrubs. Then by measuring the vegetation inside and outside the exclosure on permanent sampling plots over time, you can determine what, if any, impacts wildlife are having on the range. It is also important to establish permanent photopoints when the exclosure is first erected.

If on the other hand, you are working on BLM or Forest Service lands that are grazed by livestock and wildlife, the design of the exclosure is a little more complicated. One part, termed the total-exclusion plot, is still high-game fenced to exclude both livestock and wildlife, while an adjacent area, called the livestock-exclusion plot, is fenced in such a manner that livestock are excluded but mule deer and/or elk can jump the low fence and graze/browse by themselves — please see the accompanying photo. Unfenced adjoining areas are grazed by both livestock and wildlife. Thus by measuring the vegetation in all three areas — total exclusion, livestock-exclusion wildlife-only use, and joint use — you can determine, what vegetation changes, if any, are being caused by wildlife separately from those caused by livestock. The total-exclusion portion of the exclosure can also be used to tell if climatic variation, disease, or insects are causing certain plants to decline.

As you might have guessed, the latter type of range reference area is called a three-part exclosure because vegetation conditions are measured under three different grazing treatments. During the 1950’s and 1960’s when mule deer populations were at all time highs, a series of three-part exclosures were built on BLM and Forest Service allotments throughout the West. Unfortunately the Federal land management agencies have no nation-wide program to maintain those exclosures and many have fallen into disrepair, which is extremely shortsighted. Because without long-term range reference areas there is no way to determine what is happening on our public lands.

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21 Oct 2008, 3:39pm
Population Dynamics Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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Yellowstone’s Destabilized Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict

Frederick H. Wagner. 2006. Yellowstone’s Destabilized Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Review by Cliff White, Parks Canada, Banff, Alberta, Ca. [first published in Mountain Research and Development Vol 28 No 2 May 2008]

In an influential book of the 1960s, Fire and Water: Scientific Heresy in the Forest Service, Ashley Schiff (1962) documented how, for over 3 decades, the United States Forest Service subverted ecological science to justify an agency policy of total fire suppression. This policy was especially flawed in southeastern pine forests that evolved under a regime of periodic burning. Schiff’s exposé showed how, in a technologically-based society, science could be systematically manipulated to become clever advocacy for a political end. The book became a must read for a generation of ecological researchers and natural resource policy specialists.

Fred Wagner, formerly associate dean of the Natural Resources department at Utah State University, continues this tradition of exceptional scholarship to describe policy-driven research in Yellowstone, the United States’ flagship national park. Ironically, the general political and ecological scenario is in many respects similar to the southeastern pine forest debacle—management actions driven by a strong political constituency were imposed on an ecosystem ill-adapted to them, and scientists were unwilling or unable to evaluate and document obviously negative outcomes. In Schiff’s example, the fire suppression program was rooted in a strong American land management and resource husbandry movement of the early 1900s. In Wagner’s work, Yellowstone’s management and scientific research is motivated by equally powerful, but opposite societal forces supporting wilderness or “natural regulation.”

For those unfamiliar with the Yellowstone situation, removal of native peoples from the park in the 1800s and reduction in large carnivores in the early 1900s provided favorable conditions for the population of elk (Cervus elaphus), a generalist herbivore, to increase dramatically. After government biologists observed the effects of high densities of elk on soil and vegetation in the 1920s, park rangers routinely culled the herd for over 4 decades. In the 1960s, recreational game hunters lobbied to take over the cull. Given the potential political incompatibility of sport hunting with conservation in one of the world’s premier national parks, the federal government made the decision to cease elk culling. Park managers and senior scientists then carefully selected a generation of researchers to evaluate the revised policy. The result was a new paradigm of “natural regulation” that was underlain by 4 key hypotheses:

1) long-term human hunting, gathering and burning had not substantially influenced the ecosystems of North America’s Rocky Mountains;

2) ungulate populations in Yellowstone were, over the long term, generally high;

3) carnivore predation was a “non-essential adjunct” having minimal influence on elk numbers; and

4) high elk numbers would not cause major changes in plant communities, ungulate guilds, and other long-term ecosystem states and processes.

Although the natural regulation paradigm seems rather farfetched today, remember that it was born in the 1960s, a time of antiestablishment flower children, when wilderness was untrammeled by Native Americans, when biologist and author Farley Mowat’s wolves subsisted on mice (Mowat 1963), and the only “good fires” were caused by lightning. Moreover, an excellent argument can be made that ecological science needs large “control ecosystems” with minimal
human influences.

In the 40 or so years since the implementation of the national regulation policy, both the National Park Service and outside institutions conducted many ecological studies. These culminated in 1997 with a congressionally mandated review by the National Research Council. It is this wealth of research and documentation that Fred Wagner uses to evaluate changes over time in the Yellowstone ecosystem. He provides meticulous summaries of research in chapters on each of several different vegetation communities, the ungulate guild, riparian systems, soil erosion dynamics, bioenergetics, biogeochemistry and syntheses for the “weight of evidence” on the primary drivers of ecological change. This background allows readers to develop their own understanding on the results of this textbook case of applied ecological science.

Wagner clearly shows that most studies did not support the hypotheses of natural regulation. In cases where studies did seem to support a hypothesis, methods and results were suspect. The elk population clearly grew beyond predictions, some plants and animals began to disappear, and the importance of Yellowstone’s lost predators and Native Americans should have become undeniable. However, faced with these incongruities, park managers still supported the natural regulation policy. Some researchers closely affiliated with management then began to invoke climate change as a potential factor for observed ecosystem degradation, but the evidence for this was similarly tenuous. On the basis of the almost overwhelming evidence, Wagner concludes that much of the park-sponsored science on the natural regulation paradigm “missed the mark” and that “Yellowstone has been badly served by science.”

For scientists or managers working in similar arenas of high ecosystem values and intense politics, the book’s concluding chapters will be of most interest. Here, Wagner explores the interface between science and policy. As an alternate model to Yellowstone’s research and management system, he promotes an adaptive management process (Walters 1986) where an open political environment exists between scientists, stakeholders, and managers. Here, a controversial management option such as natural regulation could have been evaluated, as Wagner advises, “in the bright light of objective scientific understanding.” Stakeholders and managers could then use this knowledge as a basis to adjust policies quickly before grave ecological consequences occur.

However, the limited and, in terms of literature review, dated discussion of the public policy process is a weakness of the book. A more complete discussion of ecosystem management in a highly polarized political environment could have described a range of current approaches for collaborative problem solving. In fact, another recent review of wildlife management in Yellowstone concluded that the major problem facing the park was not the quantity or quality of the science, but the lack of mechanism to resolve conflicts between and within groups of scientists, stakeholders and agency managers. Gates et al (2005) remark that “collaboration is necessary to define what is acceptable; science is necessary to define what is possible; organizing people to use knowledge to design and implement management in the face of uncertainty is fundamental.” Applied ecological researchers, progressive managers, and stakeholders with a strong civic responsibility should strive for this ideal. Our parks, and indeed most places on our planet, need high-profile models such as Yellowstone, where science should help people to understand, value, and maintain the biodiversity of ecosystems.


Gates CC, Stelfox B, Muhley T, Chowns T, Hudson RJ. 2005. The Ecology of Bison Movements and Distribution in and beyond Yellowstone National Park. Calgary, Canada: Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary.

Mowat F. 1963. Never Cry Wolf. Toronto, Canada: McClelland and Stewart.

Schiff AL. 1962. Fire and Water: Scientific Heresy in the Forest Service. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Walters C. 1986. Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources. New York: Macmillan.

31 Mar 2008, 6:09pm
Predators Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Policy
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Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit Working Paper

Armstrong, J. Scott, Kesten C. Green, Willie Soon. 2008. Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit Working Paper Version 68: March 28, 2008

Full text [here]

Abstract: Calls to list polar bears as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are based on forecasts of substantial long-term declines in their population. Nine government reports were prepared to support the listing decision. We assessed these reports in light of evidence-based (scientific) forecasting principles. None referred to works on scientific forecasting methodology. Of the nine, Amstrup, Marcot and Douglas (2007) and Hunter et al. (2007) were the most relevant to the listing decision. Their forecasts were products of complex sets of assumptions. The first in both cases was the erroneous assumption that General Circulation Models provide valid forecasts of summer sea ice in the regions inhabited by polar bears. We nevertheless audited their conditional forecasts of what would happen to the polar bear population assuming, as the authors did, that the extent of summer sea ice would decrease substantially over the coming decades. We found that Amstrup et al. properly applied only 15% of relevant forecasting principles and Hunter et al. only 10%. We believe that their forecasts are unscientific and should therefore be of no consequence to decision makers. We recommend that all relevant principles be properly applied when important public policy decisions depend on accurate forecasts.

Key words: adaptation, bias, climate change, decision making, endangered species, expert opinion, extinction, evaluation, evidence-based principles, expert judgment, extinction, forecasting methods, global warming, habitat loss, mathematical models, scientific method, sea ice.

Dr. J. Scott Armstrong is professor of Marketing at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Professor Armstrong is internationally known for his pioneering work on forecasting methods. He is author of Long-Range Forecasting, the most frequently cited book on forecasting methods, and Principles of Forecasting, voted the “Favorite Book – First 25 Years” by researchers and practitioners associated with the International Institute of Forecasters. He is a co-founder of the Journal of Forecasting, the International Journal of Forecasting, the International Symposium on Forecasting, and forecastingprinciples.com [here]. He is a co-developer of new methods including rule-based forecasting, causal forces for extrapolation, simulated interaction, and structured analogies.

In 1989, a University of Maryland study ranked Professor Armstrong among the top 15 marketing professors in the U.S. In 1996, he was selected as one of the first six Honorary Fellows by the International Institute of Forecasters. He serves or has served on Editorial positions for the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, the Journal of Business Research, Interfaces and the International Journal of Forecasting , and other journals. He was awarded the Society for Marketing Advances Distinguished Scholar Award for 2000. One of the most frequently cited marketing professors worldwide, his “first-author” citation rate currently averages over 200 per year.

Dr. Kesten C. Green is Senior Research Fellow, Business and Economic Forecasting Unit, Monash University, Australia. He is Co-director of the Forecasting Principles site, forecastingprinciples.com [here], and a member of the Editorial Board, Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting and the Editorial Board, Forecasting Letters. He is also Founder and former Director of Infometrics Limited, a leading New Zealand economic forecasting and consulting house. He is also Founder and former Director of Bettor Informed, a computerised horse-racing information magazine based on assessment of probabilities under different conditions.

Dr. Willie Soon is a physicist at the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory. Among his many published research studies is Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes Of The Past 1000 Years: A Reappraisal with Sallie Baliunas, Craig Idso, Sherwood Idso, and David R. Legates. Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, Nos. 2 & 3, 2003.

1 Mar 2008, 11:32pm
Wildlife Habitat
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Cattle and Wildlife on the Arizona Strip

Gardner, Cliff, Edwin R. Riggs, and Newell Bundy. Cattle and Wildlife on the Arizona Strip. 1993. Gardner File Nos. 3-a. and 8-b.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

TED RIGGS is one of the best known Mule Deer hunters in the West. During a lifetime spent in the Country known as the Arizona Strip, Ted has killed 40 bucks with antler spreads exceeding 30 inches, ten of which measured over 36 inches, and fifteen in the 34 to 36 inch range. His widest buck had a spread of 43 1/2 inches, and scored 249 6/8 Boone and Crockett points.

Ted is best known for the many Mule Deer he has taken, but to those that know him best, his real prowess is as a trapper and tracker.

“I’ve been trapping for 65 years now. When I was 8, I can remember my father would set the traps for me and I would go bury them. By trapping, I was able to put myself through High School during the Great Depression.”

Ted was born in 1916 in Kanab, Utah. After being discharged from duty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1945 he went to work for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“At that time Ranchers were losing 4500, of their calves and lambs to predators. We shot coyotes, used coyotes getters, poison (strychnine and arsenic and later 1080). Four years after we began the ranchers’ calf crop jumped to 90%. ‘1080’ was the most effective, we would inject it into the meat of mustangs or burros and scatter it across the desert once a year.”

Ted spent 28 years as a guide, mostly hunting Mule Deer. …

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1 Mar 2008, 11:28pm
Wildlife Habitat
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The Destruction of the Sheldon

Gardner, Cliff. The Destruction of the Sheldon. 1995. Gardner File No. 22-a.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

IN THE SPRING of 1989 Bertha and I were invited by Harry and Joy Wilson to visit the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, which is located North of Winnemucca in Northwestern Nevada right up against the Oregon line. Created for the purpose of protecting pronghorn antelope, the Refuge comprises a huge area, somewhere around 460,000 acres. The thing Harry wanted us to see was the destruction that was occurring on the Refuge because of mismanagement by federal agents.

At that time the agency in charge, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was nearing the end of their long effort to rid the Refuge of livestock permittees of which Harry and Joy were among the last. So it had been a frustrating thing for them, as it had been for all the other permittees as they were being forced off - not only from the standpoint of all they were losing as livestock operators, but also from the standpoint of having to watch the area they loved go down hill.

Harry had spent his entire life there in the Virgin Valley, his father having lived there even before the Refuge had been created, so he remembered what it was like before the government created the Refuge. Harry related how abundant the antelope had been in the 1930’s and 40’s. He said that during his youth it had been a family tradition to count the antelope each Fall as they left the high country and headed for the Black Rock Desert for the Winter. He said at times antelope would come through the valley strung out in bunches of a thousand or more. He estimated that at that time there were at least ten thousand antelope summering on the Big Spring Table each year. (Big Spring Table being a high mesa that lay just North of where they lived). But now, after years of government management, there were few antelope left.

I related to what Harry was saying, for in Ruby Valley our family had similar experiences, only with us it was with deer. Back in the 1940’s and even up until the late 1960’s, we would watch the foothills above the ranch as the deer migrate South in the Fall and North in the Spring. And they too would migrate through in bunches of a thousand head or more if the weather caught them right. And like Harry, we too had seen the great herds diminish because of stupid government management.

Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature

Kay, Charles E., and Randy T. Simmons, eds. Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature. 2002. University of Utah Press

Selected Excepts:


Most environmental laws and regulations, such as the Wilderness Act, the Park Service Organic Act, and the Endangered Species Act, assume a certain fundamental state of nature, as does all environmental philosophy, at least in the United States (Keller and Turek 1998, Krech 1999; Spence 1999; Burnham zooo). Included in these core beliefs is the view that the Americas were a wilderness untouched by the hand of man until discovered by Columbus and that this wilderness teemed with untold numbers of bison (Bison bison), passenger pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius), and other wildlife, until despoiled by Europeans. In this caricature of the pristine state of the Americas, native people are seldom mentioned (Sluyter 2001), or if they are, it is usually assumed that they were either poor, primitive, starving savages, who were too few in number to have had any significant impact on the natural state of American ecosystems (Forman 2001), or that they were “ecologically noble savages” and original conservationists, who were too wise to defile their idyllic “Garden of Eden” (Krech 1999). As Park Service biologist Thomas Birkedal (1993:228) noted, “The role of prehistoric humans in the history of park ecosystems is rarely factored into … the equation. If acknowledged at all, [the] former inhabitants are … relegated to what one cultural anthropologist … calls the ‘Native Americans as squirrels’ niche: they are perhaps curious critters, but of little consequence in the serious scheme of nature.”

This view of native people, and the “natural” state of pre-European America, though, is not scientifically correct. Moreover, we suggest that it is also racist (Sluyter 2001). In fact, as Bowden (1992), Pratt (1992), and others have documented, the original concept of America as wilderness was invented, in part, by our forefathers to justify the theft of aboriginal lands and the genocide that befell America’s original owners. Even those who view native people as conservationists are guilty of what historian Richard White (1995:175) describes as “an act of immense condensation. For in a modern world defined by change, whites are portrayed as the only beings who make a difference. [Environmentalists may be] … pious toward Indian peoples, but [they] don’t take them seriously [for they] don’t credit [native people] with the capacity to make changes.”

Contrary to this prevailing paradigm, the following chapters demonstrate that native people were originally more numerous than once thought, that native people were generally not conservationists-as conservation is not an evolutionary stable strategy unless the resource is economical to defend, and that native people in no way, shape, or form were preservationists, as that term applies today (Berkes 1999:91; Smith and Wishnie 2000; Sluyter 2001). Instead, native people took an active part in managing their environment. Moreover, changes wrought by native people were so pervasive that their anthropogenic, managed environment was thought to be the “natural” state of the American ecosystem (Buckner 2000). In short, the Americas, as first seen by Europeans, had not been created by God, but instead those landscapes had largely been crafted by native peoples (Hallam 1975) …

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26 Jan 2008, 6:26pm
Predators Wildlife Habitat
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Wolves in Russia

Graves, Will N. Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages. 2007. Detselig Enterprises LTD.

Selected excerpts and ordering info [here]

Review by Bear Bait

I finished it. Dryer than a popcorn fart. A sort of disjointed set of citations. Somehow the organization could have been better. Or so I think.

Wolves in Russia was PhD edited for facts and translations, but perhaps not for literary style. I have no doubt as to the veracity of the material, just some discomfort in how it was presented. I have neither the experience or talent to detail how it should have been done, however. My cop-out.

Wolves In Russia can be used as a reference, but you had better be an expert reader of Russian like the author. The book is edited by Dr. Valerius Geist, PhD, P.Biol., Prof. Emeritus U of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Wolves in Russia has excellent scientific trappings, if not the order and style that would make it more digestible for me.

But after reading Will Graves’ gleanings from the historical record of the last 150 years, it becomes clear that Russians, and that means all those people under the rule of Mother Russia in the last 150 years, have every right to fear wolves.

There is an old Russian saying, “I kill the wolf not because he is grey. I kill the wolf because he kills my sheep.” Russians don’t hate wolves for being wolves. They hate them for what they do to their lives.

If you were rural and subsistence living in Russia during the last 150 years, you would have known political upheaval, government intervention and non-intervention, money for government services, and times without money for government services. You would have experienced long periods of gun control and being defenseless against violent people and predators. Hundreds of millions of Russians died in that 150 year period, and probably the majority at the hands of their own government by acts of omission as well as commission.

The apparent difference between the pioneer experience in the U.S. as opposed to Europe is the amount of liberty in the U.S. The freedom to own and bear arms was essential to a pioneering people who were able to succeed without undue influence of wolves in their lives. In the U.S. wolves were shot, on sight, by European immigrants because their life and cultural experiences were that wild predators consumed the means of human survival. “I shoot the wolf because he eats my sheep.” It is likely that pre-European North American residents felt the same way.

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