Can Colorado Sustain Wolf Recovery?

Wolves successfully live in states or parts of other countries with far greater human populations than Colorado. Photo George Wuerthner 

A recent NPR radio story titled: “Is Colorado Too Crowded To Support Wolves” suggested that with 6 million residents, there wasn’t enough habitat to sustain wolves.

I’ve been involved with wolf restoration since the 1980s, first in Montana and Idaho, then later in Oregon.

Wolf-photo George Wuerthner 

I have heard the same argument ever since wolf restoration was initiated. There wasn’t enough room for wolves in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California. It’s always the same argument—there isn’t enough space for a wide-ranging predator.

While the argument might sound plausible to those who know little about wolves, the argument is easily refuted.

For instance, Italy has a human population of 59 million, more than the combined population of all western states (if you exclude CA), and there are more than 3000 wolves in that country.

Romania has a human population of 20 million. Colorado has 6 million. Romania has 2500-3000 wolves. And it also has 6000 grizzly bears. I once asked a Romanian bear biologist how he could explain that Romania has many more bears than the entire western US. He said average people in Romania don’t have guns.

Minnesota and Colorado are nearly the same size and have the same human population and Minnesota sustains nearly 3000 wolves. Photo George Wuerthner

Minnesota has 51 million acres and has 5.7 million people. Colorado has 67 million acres and is approaching 6 million residents. Minnesota supports 2700 wolves. One could assume that if Colorado is more than 16 million acres bigger than Minnesota, it could sustain at least 3,000 wolves.

 

Oregon has approximately 175 wolves and could sustain up to 2000 based on prey base and other factors. Photo George Wuerthner

Years ago, I estimated the number of wolves Oregon could support (Oregon and Colorado are nearly the same size, though CO has a few more people). Based on factors like prey base, etc. I estimated that Oregon could support 2000 or more wolves.

The large open valley of the Upper Rio Grande River in South Park is the kind of habitat that is abundant in western Colorado. Photo George Wuerthner 

One of the things that people ignore is geography. The human population in all these states is concentrated in specific locations with vast areas with limited human residency. Most of Colorado’s population resides along the Front Range in cities like Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, and other communities.

Most of Colorado’s public lands lie west of the Front Range cities of Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and others. Photo George Wuerthner

The majority of public land and, thus, wolf habitat in Colorado is west of the Front Range in the Western Slope. There are no large cities on Colorado’s western slope.

Missoula, Montana, one of a number of large urban areas situated in western Montana where nearly all of the state’s wolves also reside. Photo George Wuerthner 

By comparison, Montana supports over 1000 wolves. The bulk of Montana’s human population lies in western Montana counties that include cities like Missoula, Kalispell, Helena, Bozeman, Butte, and other communities that hold vastly more human populations than any town on Colorado’s western slope. Yet this is precisely where the bulk of Montana’s wolf packs are found—in the most densely populated portion of the state.

The most important thing for successful wolf restoration is the prey base. Colorado has nearly 300,000 elk and hundreds of thousands of mule deer. By comparison, Montana only supports 143,000 elk, which is sufficient to provide prey for over a thousand wolves.

Much of western Colorado’s lower elevation (elk and deer winter range) is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Dolores River Canyon. Photo George Wuerthner 

Another critical advantage of Colorado over Montana is that much of the lower elevation lands of the western slope are in public ownership, principally by the Bureau of Land Management. This provides winter range for elk and deer that is unavailable across much of Montana, where the Forest Service manages most of the higher elevations in western Montana, while most valleys and foothills are in private ownership.

So the next time you hear someone say Colorado has too many people to support wolves, please inform them that they need to do a bit more scholarship—Colorado, based on both prey base and available habitat, can support hundreds if not at least a thousand wolves.


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  1. Krystal Avatar
    Krystal

    Great fact-based analysis. Hope those who don’t regularly follow you somehow get exposed to this article

  2. Wayne Tyson Avatar
    Wayne Tyson

    If I remember correctly, I heard wolves in northern CO in 2008. My CO pals said I was hearing elk.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      You probably heard wolves because at that time a small number had migrated into Colorado and probably formed a small pack. They were mostly (perhaps all) shot and disappeared from the Colorado/Wyo border area.

  3. Michael Sauber Avatar
    Michael Sauber

    I’m sure once again, the entitled livestock industry is the main stumbling block to any introduction/expansion in the US.

    1. Louie McKee Avatar
      Louie McKee

      Comparison to MN wolf population is extremely misleading.100% of the wolf pop in MN is in sparsely populated or wilderness area. The western slope of CO is entirely different than where wolves live northern MN.

  4. Michael Sauber Avatar
    Michael Sauber

    I looked up article and responded to it.

  5. Duane Short Avatar
    Duane Short

    Do you know that, in Wyoming, cows outnumber people roughly two to one? Cows and sheep outnumber 11,900 ranchers 125 to 1. Not that many Wyomingites are ranchers. But one is led to believe by anti-wolf folks that everyone in the state is a cowboy, cowgirl, or non-binary cowpoke. This perception is false.

    While Colorado ranchers claim the state has no room for wolves, one never hears Colorado or Wyoming ranchers complain that there is not enough room for the 1.2 million plus cattle and 300 thousand plus sheep (including calves & lambs) that graze almost anywhere they want in the state of Wyoming, in particular. I suspect a similar statement is true of Colorado’s cow and sheep pokes and the politicians that do their bidding.

    Of course, wolves are not cows, but to say that most western states in the USA do not have room for wolves is utterly false. The room exists for top predators in many states. What is lacking is political will.

    Most states boast ample wildlife habitat when trying to sell their state as a great place to live. Yes, they do.

    Those conducting the habitat assessments consider only deer, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl, and other (shoot-to-kill) game species while categorically denying that the state possesses no habitat for wolves and other predators other than a never-ending increase in the population of the most prolific predator of all, Homo sapiens sapiens.

    The “We don’t have room” statement assumes every human being espouses anti-wolf and anti-wildlife positions. Most of us know that when we assume anything the assumption makes, to put it nicely, a fool of us.

    Most people know that having a few predators in their state is good for the state’s environment. Yes, most human beings are well-educated enough to know that wildlife predators do not seek human prey. Wolves and other lower-48-states predators fear and avoid human beings. The rare encounter that goes bad for the human is exceedingly rare.

    Wild predator-to-human predator encounters, far more often, end with a dead wild predator. This is an irrefutable fact.

    Most ranchers cry wolf continuously. Do the math. Wyoming, for example, is home to about 314 wolves. Four-thousand seven-hundred and seventy-seven cows and sheep occupy Wyoming to each wolf. This is roughly 1,500,000 (that’s 150 million) cattle and sheep.

    If every wolf in Wyoming ate a beefsteak and a lamb chop per day, the impact on the ranching industry would be minuscule. Three hundred and fourteen wolves cannot eat that much beef or mutton. Do the math.

    One might think that a rancher claiming financial ruin caused by wolf depredation would be laughed out of any objective politician’s office. But most Wyoming legislators ignore the math and reflexively sympathize with the ranching community.

    Regardless of the ridiculously exaggerated wolf predation impacts claimed by ranchers, wolves need space to hunt, den, breed, and roam. Only one of these three needs presents a remote threat to livestock.

    When considering the potential threat a hunting wolf poses to livestock, one must remember that wolves largely predate other wildlife ranging from fieldmice, voles, gophers, rabbits, bird eggs, and such to pronghorn, mule deer, elk, moose, wild sheep, and goats. As a rule, Wyoming wolves have too much food to eat. Wolves have learned that livestock depredation comes with risks posed by thundering firesticks.

    The abundant wildlife in Wyoming is much more than sufficient to meet the nourishment needs of wolves. The wolf depredation impact on the ranching industry is but a pinprick. The ranching community “cry wolf” scheme has worked for over a century. It is time people recognize this phony “victim” game must end.

    I, for one, have had enough of the false claims that ranchers and their apologists make. It is time people consider the facts about wolves and other predators.

    Wildlife freedom to roam and disperse is a fundamental and essential behavior that predator and non-predator wildlife share. The definition of wild•life defies the notion that wolves dispersal should occur only where human beings allow it.

    Colorado has plenty of room for wolves. Wolves occasionally disperse across state borders. Wolf dispersal across the Wyoming border into Colorado is not uncommon, particularly regarding the western side of the common border.

    A twisted logic describes the cowboy, cowgirl argument that domestic livestock be permitted free-range status. These same cowpokes want to confine a few predators to razor-sharp boundaries beyond oppressive core habitat areas or other protected spits of land.

    The longer I live, the more I see nature preservation vs human domination arguments hover irrationally in the clouds of politics and unrelated concerns. In these clouds, no argument hinges on the unforgiving laws of nature. Instead, the argument waxes and wanes on gotchaism and factors having no basis in science or the laws of nature.

    Until humanity plants its feet firmly back on the ground where human needs (not limitless desires) and the essential needs of wildlife and wildlands meet, we will continue to mutter on and on about a sustainable planet in vain.

    Wildlife extinction and rates of extinction are among humanity’s most accurate and reliable measures of how our planet fares in terms of sustainability. The current rate of wildlife extinction provides a measuring stick of how “we” are doing. Our planet is sick and dying.

    The bad news is this. Dumb humanity, like a bull in a China closet, is capable of destroying our planet. The good news is this. Wise humanity is capable of reversing what dumb humanity does.

    Smart does not necessarily mean we need more technology to save our planet. Intelligent humanity recognizes that nature, not humanity, created the bountiful and ecologically well-balanced planet we found when we came on the scene. Humans arrived but a few geological and biological seconds ago. We inherited the riches that nature had already created.

    We must acknowledge this fact of our inheritance. Oh, I know. We human beings loathe admitting that we are trust fund babies. We want to believe we are the products of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We didn’t. First, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is scientifically impossible, illogical, and is as gravity-defying as it gets.

    So. Let’s get over this “by my own bootstraps” mythology. Every human on earth has inherited life that nature created, not us.

    Consider the following.

    Wolves, wolverines, bison, big cats, and other predators are natural dispersers. Absent the freedom to roam and disperse, our wildlife is doomed. We humans will be close to follow if we domesticate more and more wildlife.

    Domestic cattle are a great example. Livestock have lost many survival traits, instincts, behaviors, and anatomical and physiological features to domestication.

    One of the first steps in the wild animal domestication process is to familiarize animals with humans.

    Domestication is first accomplished via confinement. Confinement may be a box canyon or achieved via a lead, rope, shackle, corral, or cage.

    Preventing predator dispersal is the modern equivalent of the ancient and continuing practice of building walls or fences to keep predators out of camps. Fear was a strong motivator in those days of old and ignorance.

    Preventing the dispersal of terrestrial wildlife is the equivalent of clipping the wings or restricting the migration of wild birds by tying anchored strings to their feet. Restricting wild animals leads to domestication.

    Domesticated animals are but shadows of their wild ancestors. And too many humans think this is a great thing. It’s not.

    As an evolutionary biologist, I assure everyone that dispersal is essential to the survival of wildlife, even more so than core habitat.

    Protecting core areas is a necessary undertaking. Protecting core areas alone is an exercise that leads to ever-shrinking wildlife habitat.

    Legislating laws or creating policies that delineate where and where not a given wildlife species can go, i.e., roam and disperse, is little more than an act of wildlife domestication.

    Humanity has demonstrated its propensity to domesticate non-human organisms throughout its history. Ask yourself. Where has all the biodiverse and ecologically well-balanced wilderness gone?

    We can say wilderness has been destroyed and occupied by expanding development, agriculture, and industry. But is this really how it began?

    Before the industrial-scale destruction of wilderness (and wildlife habitat) existed, human beings were deciding where forests, prairies, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, lakes, and other ecosystems should exist and, in some cases, expand.

    Tree! You can grow freely here… but not there! And thus, it began. Humanity, the ultimate predator, became the adamant controller.

    Beware, dandelion. You are not allowed to grow on my lawn.

    Humanity has become so accustomed to controlling land and landscapes we see nothing amiss when we refuse to tolerate the least “effort” by nature to re-establish its balance upon the face of planet Earth. How dare a wolf venture beyond an invisible but deadly Yellowstone National Park wolf boundary!

    The Yellowstone wolf is not protected by the established boundary as claimed by anti-wolf law and policymakers, not in the least. The wolf has no shock collar that reveals where his presence is safe and unsafe. The Yellowstone wolf that steps across the go/no-go line is as good as a dead wolf.

    In addition to well-defined boundaries that are, in reality, created to initiate the domestication of wolves are more like cultural boundaries. Culture is beyond powerful. Culture can be stifling.

    Anti-wolf forces have created a culture that says it is okay to hate, fear, or kill a predator just because they have crossed an arbitrary line in the sand. We see these unfortunate reports regarding this cultural phenomenon in the news from time to time.

    Consider this example. The fools that approach bison in Yellowstone unconsciously assume (there is that ‘assume’ word again) that the bison is somewhat tame because it is in a park or within a boundary. The foolish intuit (likely unconsciously) that the park makes bison more domesticated/tame. Some find out how wrong they are. But in one odd sense, these not-so-bright people are right.

    The more we confine and contact wild animals, the more tame or less hostile they become. Imagine a bison a thousand years ago that would casually graze and allow hundreds of loud automobiles to pass or to park so people could watch and even approach them. This scenario would not happen.

    In a sense, even the dumbest people possess a gut feeling that animals behind literal or figurative fences/boundaries are less wild. They are less wild. Nonetheless, wildlife man•agers and Park officials want you to keep your distance. On this point, wildlife man•agers are correct. Though more tame than their ancestors, park bison are still wild creatures.

    The term “Freedom to Roam” is popular. But this term does not convey the sense of urgency that “Freedom to Disperse” evokes. A wildlife ecologist worth his or her weight in salt should understand what I mean.

    To roam sounds a bit melancholy, even when human beings do so. To disperse, as from a house on fire or a mass shooting, suggests urgency. We live in urgent times.

    Animals are similar to humans in that they disperse when local conditions are unfavorable. Wolves disperse for a ‘reason.’ The reason the wolf disperses is an instinct. A young male wolf leaves the pack and its territory to find a mate. The need to breed drives one form of dispersal.

    When only 314 wolves inhabit Wyoming in Yellowstone National Park as part-time tourist attractions, even the layperson can imagine why a young male wolf might venture or disperse to find a suitable mate.

    When the pickings get slim, the mate seeker is going to move. We all get this.

    But when the young male wolf acts on its wolfly instincts, B O O M!

    The unfortunate young wolf doesn’t have a chance. So now, it’s left up to aging males and females to sustain a pack(s) that becomes increasingly gene-pool-poor and more domesticated, i.e., accustomed to human beings who don’t shoot them.

    If the local pack fails, there is no disperser “out there” to perpetuate the gene pool. The subtle process, in terms of public awareness, continues as if wildlife man•agers are attempting to make dogs of wolves all over again.

    Protecting dispersal favors the individuals of a given species that possess the behaviors, genetics, and existing anatomical & physiological advantages that render their dispersal successful. The evolutionary result of this freedom to disperse is

    1) the immediate establishment of a new pack(s) and

    2) a pack that, utilizing its parent disperser’s genetics and survival tools, adapts and ultimately evolves to thrive in a habitat that its ancestors could not.

    I highlighted the importance of wildlife dispersal regarding wolves, Canada lynx, and wolverines in the early 2000s. I encountered deer-in-the-headlight looks among advocates for the reintroduction of these species into Colorado. Yes. Even well-meaning biologists and ecologists didn’t get it.

    A woeful lack of understanding of evolutionary biology exists in today’s biologist’s gene pool. Period.

    Evolutionary biology exposes and explains many false premises wildlife man•agers espouse, especially those employed by wildlife and wildland man•age•ment agencies and consultants.

    The reintroduction advocates listened to wildlife agency biologists tell them, “Colorado does not possess core habitat for Canada lynx, thus protecting dispersers into the state is a futile endeavor.”

    No one blinked an eye. I did more than blink an eye. I spoke scientific truth to this group only to be eye-rolled, figuratively speaking. It was a conference call that occurred long before the emergence of video conferencing.

    These “importance of dispersal” skeptics have since appeared to have caught on slightly. Sadly, the evolutionary benefits of dispersal continue to be poorly understood and underappreciated among those who should know better. The immediate benefits of populations originating via dispersal from so-called core habitats appear to be appreciated more recently.

    Limiting the more adaptable and dispersible individuals to their core habitat is a colossal mistake. The concept of core habitat emerged, incidentally, from human encroachment into the given species’ historical range.

    Core habitat, as identified today, is more accurately identified as a suitable habitat for a given species that humanity has not degraded or destroyed.

    To focus on core habitat to the exclusion of providing dispersal opportunities is to present an obstacle to the process of evolution that created the species in the first place.

    Contrary to popular belief, the evolution of species has not ceased. Humanity is far from understanding all of the influences involved in biological evolution. Evolution shapes species sustainability, development, and the survival of all species in ways we, at best, partially understand.

    If and when we know and understand everything about life on Earth, we will do well to allow nature and evolution to have their way. How do we learn how nature works? We study nature.

    When we manipulate nature, we learn how to tinker with nature. We discover only how nature responds to human manipulation. What have we learned? Now, ask this question in the context of evolution. We have learned so little.

    Human beings can either allow species to continue to live freely and evolve according to the laws of nature rather than the laws of humanity or we can face the prospect of living an oppressive existence with only other human beings with which to interact and enjoy.

    In the future, our brand of humanity will define the collective spirit of our kind.

    Imagine no more majestic wolves, bees, and the beautiful wildflowers they pollinate. Imagine no soul-warming birdsongs or loons that wail on a cold water lake. Imagine never again watching, through a fog, a graceful deer drink from a stream. Imagine never feeling the power of a bugling bull elk, one that makes our human heart race.

    Imagine no monarchs or swallowtails to decorate our prairies and flower gardens. Imagine that not much of anything wild exists except in zoos or drive-through parks. But then, the poor creatures confined to what constitutes wildlife prisons are not truly wild. They are captives of an insatiable human desire to control nature.

    Instead, traffic noise, neighbor outshouting neighbor, construction chaos, and sullen cries for sanity will define our lonely human existence.

    Perhaps I dramatize too much. Perhaps not.

    If humans want total control of nature and its incredible creatures, we might gain it. But then the question will be, “Dear God! What have we done?

    Perhaps only then will we ask ourselves, “What have we lost?”

    1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      It would appear that the ability to disperse and the necessity of having migration corridors for wild predators as well as prey animals is beyond comprehension. Although I think most of the of the non-comprehension is caused by the influence of livestock & mining lobbyists upon politicians.
      Very informative “essay”- its disturbing how ignorant humans are – even when its to their advantage to understand exactly how damaging their “management” of nature is.

    2. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Well said! It’s something I can see happening all around me and am very worried about.

    3. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Every western state today in fact has a wolf population except Colorado.

      1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
        Wayne Tyson

        That may be true, but “absence of evidence does not imply evidence of absence.”

        “Anecdote is the singular of data.”

    4. Nancy Avatar
      Nancy

      Excellent comments, Duane.

      But unfortunately, IMHO, this will be the fate of wolves if their populations start to grow in Colorado:

      The first line:

      “Wolf populations are still strong across Montana despite a slight dip in 2022”

      https://www.gohunt.com/content/news/montana-proposes-wolf-quotas-for-2023-2024-season

      Thousands of people (from all over the country) weighed in on the proposals for wolf hunting & trapping in 2021

      https://fwp.mt.gov/binaries/content/assets/fwp/commission/2021/aug-20/wildlife/wolf-comments-7.26.21-3-of-4.pdf

      but sadly it did little good to sway those in charge of the “management” (maiming and killing for sport and pelts) of Montana’s wildlife, especially wolves.

      30 million acres of state and federal lands in Montana and 1,000 wolves is considered a strong population???

  6. Duane Short Avatar
    Duane Short

    Correction:

    The following sentence should read, “Those conducting the habitat assessments consider only deer, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl, and other (shoot-to-kill) game species while categorically denying that the state possesses “ADEQUATE” habitat for wolves and other predators…”

  7. H.G. Longobardi Avatar

    Interesting thoughts by Duane Short .I agree with all of you in that there is an ample prey base and room for wolves in Colorado. But the sad fact is to have wolves in Colorado means there will be non-stop killing of wolves forever in Colorado and I sometimes think we would have been better off leaving them in Canada as much as I like seeing and interacting with them. I think most people would be appalled at the number of wolves killed by the government each year, mostly by aerial gunning out of helicopters.Don’t forget your taxes will pay for it and we are 30+ trillion dollars in debt.

    NW Colorado is one of the last strongholds of domestic sheep in the country and has a robust cattle industry.

    Granted, the overall impact of wolves on domestic livestock is small, but it can be quite substantial to individual stock growers where the predation is occurring.

    Another sad fact is that in Wyoming every wolf pack that interacts with domestic stock will eventually start killing them. It may not be year 1, year 2 or year 3 but it will happen. Then wildlife services will go in and take them all out. It’s not very pretty and maybe we should have left them all alone in Canada.

    Colorado really has no wild country large enough for wolves to be wolves and live their lives w/o human intervention. Correct me if I am wrong but I think the
    largest wilderness area is the Flattops at 250,000 acres or an area about 20 miles x 20 miles. A wolf can trot across that in 2-3 hours. When the elk leave and head to Meeker,Craig, Maybell ,Rifle, Rangley and the lower White River there will be a lot of trouble for wolves and a lot of heavy handed control.

    Almost every valley in Colorado is occupied by ranches and or sub divisions with dogs, goats, llama’s, sheep, toy horses , burros and kids. Though they don’t prey on kids, the long shot potential sure gets a lot of press. Look at Catron County,New Mexico.

    There is plenty of room and prey in Colorado for wolves but to have them there means non-stop killing forever. They will never be left alone.

  8. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Oh I certainly hope so. Already I have read where the top priority from those opposed to this is how to kill them. I am for it, but am a little leery of how it is going to be received.

    I wish we could learn from the mistakes of the first reintroduction, and let them migrate naturally? I can’t believe some of the articles where is says they can’t migrate naturally.

    1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
      Wayne Tyson

      This video exposes two most likely rare cases, but unfortunately it is highly probable that the latter is even more so . . .

  9. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    The media being used as tool again. “Is Colorado too crowded for wolves”, seriously?

    1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      Does make you wonder just how ignorant & blinded humans are when it comes to wildlife and their habitat. It makes me sick seeing whats done to any wild creature that attempts to go beyond the “boundaries” the humans draw!

      1. Immer Treue Avatar
        Immer Treue

        In our consistent rapaciousness, we have the capacity to be a truly horrible species.

        1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
          Wayne Tyson

          This link may provide some insight. We are all creatures (thank you for making this distinction); humans ARE animals.

          1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
            Wayne Tyson

            Sorry–forgot the link!

            1. Ida Lupine Avatar
              Ida Lupine

              This was interesting. There’s no doubt in my mind!

              Thanks for posting.

  10. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    First things first, of course – they had to have an agreement on the terms of killing them, and now they are suing entirely. Terrible, and concerning:

    https://apnews.com/article/wolf-reintroduction-colorado-lawsuit-environment-80dd1eeac13b5f6395c4c007a96df7aa

  11. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    “[Judge] Rodriguez further argued that ranchers’ concerns didn’t outweigh the public interest in meeting the will of the people of Colorado, who voted for wolf reintroduction in a 2020 ballot initiative.”

    https://apnews.com/article/wolf-reintroduction-gray-colorado-lawsuit-407dc2fcb7aaf1dd199ffadcb9b8e9e3

  12. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
    Jeff Hoffman

    The only reason that a comment such as, Colorado is “too crowded” for wolves could be entertained at all is that the vast majority of humans are human supremacists (anthropocentric). If they weren’t the obvious solution would be to reduce human numbers in order to properly share the land with wolves and other native species. This is not to say that Colorado can’t support wolves, because it certainly can. But human overpopulation is the biggest problem on the planet, and its worst effect is to crowd out native wildlife.

    1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
      Wayne Tyson

      Don’t despair. Optimism is the only option, but Nature does bat last.

      I’m over 85, and have seen both advancement and regression, but I would say that the score is at least advancement 51, regression 49. It’s a s l o w process.

      I have been kicked off a listserv for saying this, but I see human destiny as a helmless ship with 51 down below, each with a single finger pressing on the tiller and 49 banging on it with sledge hammers, with the bulk of the passengers and crew on the poop deck drinking the last of the champagne while the iceberg looms.

      I’ll take those odds . . .

      1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
        Jeff Hoffman

        You’ve got about 15 years on me Wayne, but I never give up hope either.

        On the other hand, my realistic expectations couldn’t be lower. Things have been getting worse ever since humans left Africa 60-90,000 years ago and caused extinctions wherever they went (including here!), and since humans started using agriculture and the resulting population explosion. Sure we win some battles, I’ve led a campaign or two that’s won. But overall, it just keeps getting worse. There’s no coming back from extinctions or destruction of ecosystems, for example.

        1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
          Wayne Tyson

          I don’t disagree.

          If folks didn’t recognize the fact that we’re driving the whole gol-durned Earth to Hell in a handbasket, there wouldn’t BE any progress. I wrote a paper about this in 1965 “Culture Against Society,” but it ended up in the trash–so much for academia . . .

  13. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Here’s something interesting:

    “It’s not that the US government can’t afford to fund conservation, said Ken Hayes, a conservation biologist at Hawaii’s Bishop Museum, who has studied endangered species for more than two decades. The problem, he said, is that we, as a society, don’t value biodiversity nearly as much as we should. “We don’t have a money problem,” he said. “We have a prioritization problem.””

    https://www.vox.com/down-to-earth/2023/12/18/23989030/endangered-species-act-explained-environment-biodiversity-extinction

    1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
      Wayne Tyson

      I got into trouble by writing some Op-Eds for some newspapers in the mid-80’s pitching for the California condor captive breeding program when one of my clients (One of the major conservation organizations) wanted to leave them “in the wild.” My contract was dropped.

      1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
        Jeff Hoffman

        I was an Earth First! campaigner during that time, and we vehemently opposed taking condors out of the wild. Dave Foreman even came to California, and we held a demonstration at the San Diego Zoo (whose program the captive breeding program was) against the program. Turns out you were right and we were wrong about this, which we readily and happily admitted when the program succeeded.

        To be clear, our opposition was based on our lack of trust that these people would actually reintroduce the condors to their native habitats, or in fact would set them free at all. We’ve been back-stabbed and otherwise betrayed and lied to so many times by organizations like zoos that we didn’t believe that they wanted to do anything with the condors except keep them in captivity and sell or trade them to other zoos.

        1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
          Wayne Tyson

          Oh, was against it too. When a chick died of apparent stress from handling by USFWS, I called a friend who was a curator of birds and mammals at a natural history museum and started raising hell. He calmly explained the facts, and I converted, spent that December interviewing some of the key players and writing the Op-Eds, which got reprinted by a number of other publications.

          I have the greatest respect for folks smart enough to change their minds, especially when the information I got was probably not available to them.

          Speaking of which, here’s a very interesting link on that subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0

  14. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Well, they’ve released five of the ten wolves they plan to release. Is that truly a big threat for the state of Colorado, and ‘controversial’ as some articles are calling it? One question I have is that will they stay, or will they try to make their way back home to Oregon?

    1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      The “threat” is humans and their unnatural crap like cattle. Wolves are native and by definition not a threat.

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        Yes. It’s just the way the coverage is, Colorado is too populated, controversial program, etc., it’s ridiculous, especially in modern times. It’s only going to be ten wolves, and I hate to think of them running the gauntlet of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

        1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
          Jeff Hoffman

          To use Derrick Jensen’s term, most humans are human supremacists. Anything that interferes with whatever humans want to do is seen as a threat, and to hell with the Earth and the other life here. THAT’s the problem, and it started at least when humans started using agriculture, maybe even before that when they began leaving Africa.

          1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
            Wayne Tyson

            Right on! One of my projects is “Advancing Toward Eden” (rather than going back). In my unpub. 1965 term paper, I suggested that truly social beings take only what they need and The Gift (which see) was the rule, not possession and trade. Even caches were for the group. As you say, it started with culture (agri- and otherwise).

      2. Nancy Avatar
        Nancy

        Just up on Youtube. A rancher/real estate developer from Montana, warning Colorado about wolves:

        This guy is so full of crap, its almost coming out his ears but as you can see from the comments below the video… like Trump…. he’s got a healthy following of misinformed subscribers.

        1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
          Jeff Hoffman

          Ranchers need to be eliminated. Not as in killed, but as in not allowed to graze cattle. Agriculture is very destructive to natural land and the native life there, and animal agriculture like ranching is the worst of it.

          1. Ida Lupine Avatar
            Ida Lupine

            And a real estate developer too, to make it that much worse IMO. Only interested in land and money.

  15. Wayne Tyson Avatar
    Wayne Tyson

    Don’t take the bait, but silently observe.

  16. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    And a real estate developer too, to make it that much worse IMO. Only interested in land and money.

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