FOCUS ON FACTS
In an April 24 letter to the editor Betty Wagoner reports that “a friend who lives in Arlie, Mont. … states that the wolves have completely destroyed the elk herds in his area.” That sounded quite untrue, so I checked the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website and read their 2012 Elk Hunting Outlook. Here is what their elk herd status report states: Northwestern Montana, “elk populations remain stable.” Western Montana, “elk numbers are generally above the long-term average.” Central Montana, “elk populations are solid.” South Central Montana, “elk populations are healthy and growing”. Northeastern Montana, “elk numbers are at or above management objectives in most hunting districts.”
Let’s try to focus on evidence-based arguments and make an effort to put aside fear-based prejudice.
Fred Runkel, Twisp
WOLVES HELP WATERSHEDS
This is in response to Betty Wagoner’s letter to the editor (April 24), “Damage wolves do.”
Damage? It’s proven that ungulates (deer, elk, cows) left alone to graze with no predators gather in riparian zones, mowing down plants that keep the soil on the banks in place. Erosion of the stream banks can be monumental. Whole landscapes have been transformed by the ungulate-without-predator syndrome.
Wolves are a very important part of a balanced environment. They move the ungulates around so they don’t overgraze one watershed, or one area. The ungulates are forced to graze a more widespread area. It is proven that wolves improve the quality of watersheds, especially if the watershed was over-populated by sluggish elk.
Because of the stress on the urban/wildlands front I (unfortunately) think that the wolves may need to be “managed,” but I believe that in an environment without wolves the true “killers” will be the deer and elk as they decimate our watersheds. These watersheds are not only important fisheries. They are also the source of our very beautiful and precious water.
A couple last items: Not all “sportsmen” are deer hunters. There are also fishermen. I would venture a guess that clean streams with healthy habitat luring these fishermen to our area brings in the same or more revenue that deer hunting does.
I would also like to say that one can’t put a price on clean water.
Finally – if livestock predation is a problem at least there are programs to help compensate the losses.
Rico Meleski, Twisp