The first wild wolf to enter California in more than eighty years sparks a debate about conservation:
“The return of wolves to the West has indeed resulted in a trophic cascade of benefits to the ecological landscape. In Yellowstone, for example, the absence of wolves meant the park’s elk and deer were fat, slow, and stupid. They destroyed streambeds, overgrazed grass, and overbrowsed the shrubs and aspens. When wolves were reintroduced, the days of deer and elk lazing around riparian areas like hoofed couch potatoes were over. Yellowstone’s aspen groves made a comeback, streambeds are in better shape, shady shrubs have increased oxygen levels in creeks and streams, thus improving fish habitats, berries are dropping, seeds are scattering, grasses are growing. A case can be made that wolves are far better wilderness managers than humans will ever be.
“But for Sykes it’s a moral issue as well. ‘For one hundred years, wolves were hounded, hunted, trapped, hacked, and poisoned until every single one was exterminated. They were extirpated in a brutal, vindictive, ignorant campaign,’ he says. ‘I would like to see this wrong righted. I would like to see some compassion and understanding for our most persecuted wildlife.’”