Monday, January 07, 2008

Wolves, Cougars and People

The other day I got an e-mail asking for a light bullet load for a .30-06 from a feller up in British Columbia, which is one of those Yankee States north of Oklahoma, I believe. Anyhow he wanted a load that would take down wolves. Now we don't have any wolves down here in northeast Texas and so I asked him why he was mad at wolves. Well, it seems that they have been breeding heavily lately and they are starting to cause trouble.

Each individual wolf will take down seventeen to twenty three big game animals each year. In an area that derives a good part of it's income from big game hunting, that can become a problem, fast.

My corespondent did not wish to be public on this, he didn't say why I. I presume it's because of the Bambiists, I didn't ask. He did send me a news story, which I was unable to transfer here because I'm not very good with computers. A computer wizard can probably find the article on the Monday, Sept.4, 2007 issue of the Vancouver Sun. It seems that a couple of families were out with some ATVs, pulling young kids around on a toboggan when a couple of very skinny, hungry wolves showed up. Their dog, a Rottie Mix went and duked it out with the wolves who were trying to get to those kids. Well, one parent went off after his rifle, a Ruger 10-.22 if it matters, while another adult waded in with a shovel. The two wolves were driven off but they then followed these folks back to camp. The guy with the rifle managed to then shoot one of the wolves, they dragged the wolf back to their camp (or cabins?) and the next morning the wolf had been dragged off and partially eaten. They then managed to shoot the other half of this pair. With a belly full of wolf.

Now, I never have claimed to be the world's greatest authority on carnivores. I have no idea how many wolves it takes to make an area unsafe for people, nor any great idea on how many wolves an area can support before the big game gets difficult to find. (Not that big game is easy to find without wolves) Questions like that must be answered by someone smarter than me. I do know that down here in the lower 48 people are now being attacked, and sometimes killed, by Cougars, aka Mountain Lions, aka Catamounts.

Now when I was a boy lots of folks hunted Mountain Lions. We hardly ever killed them, unless we used dogs, but we killed enough of them that they avoided people. In my entire youth I saw two Mountain Lions in the wild, both times it was through binoculars, way too far for a shot, while we were examining country to see if we wanted to go try to find deer over there. Yet seeing Mountain Lion tracks was common. I would wager that lots more of those big cats saw me than I ever saw.

Those cats were afraid of people, though. They stayed out of our way because we killed enough of them to maintain that fear. Now those days are over. In many states it's illegal to pop a big cat. We are not losing a whole lot of people and it seems that most of the ones we do lose are Libs, but even so, I liked it better when the cats were afraid of us. We are losing a lot of pets.

I bring this up because we are reseeding some of the West with wolves. Okay, fine.Can someone besides the Bambiists figure out how many can live on a piece of range before the big game, livestock and people are threatened?

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