In 1915 one of the pioneers of conservation, Aldo Leopold, delved into what he thought of as “game management.” One of his main conclusions was that wolves, mountain lions, and any other predator that fed on deer should be exterminated in order to save the deer population for sport hunting. He later admitted that the premise was wrong and began to correct the error.
Instead of increasing the deer population, the elimination of animals that killed and ate the deer allowed the number of deer to increase so drastically that there was not enough forest to feed them all. The deer then started dying of starvation and disease.
In 1929 the federal government built the 60 mile long North Star Road. This road allowed hunters to access the starving deer herd so it could be thinned. The North Star Road is now the boundary between the Aldo Leopold and Gila wilderness areas.
In 1976 the Mexican gray wolf was placed on the Endangered Species List and reintroduced to South Western New Mexico. Today the wolf population is on the increase but the merit of this development is being disputed publicly.
The State of New Mexico, the federal government, and various environmentalist groups are on one side of the fence wanting to protect the wolves. On the other side of the fence stand the ranchers and residents that live where the wolves are.
Saturday morning I met a lady in Silver City who was handing out literature (see: http://www.amprowest.org/) that warned of dangerously bold wolves. When I asked her if the ranchers were compensated by environmentalist groups when a wolf killed any livestock she loudly replied, “We are concerned about the safety of our children and our pets. We’ve had to build shelters from plywood and chicken wire to protect the kids at the bus stops in Reserve. There have been too many close calls.”
Another group has put up billboards warning of the danger for pets, elk, and children. These signs have graphic illustrations of what they claim are victims of the wolves.
On the other hand, the forest service has posted signs urging citizens to report any injury or killings of wolves. The New Mexico State Hunting Proclamation states that anyone convicted of killing a wolf will face one year in prison and fines of up to $50,000.00.
None of the anti-wolf propaganda encourages the killing of wolves but leads one to feel that it may be warranted.
Maybe the wolves should stay in designated lest they be shot or trapped. Maybe the people should move to a big city like Albuquerque. I am trying to stay objective on this issue. Please post your comments.