Discussion Topic: On Hunters, Researchers, and Wolf 527

On October 3rd, a hunter bagged a female radio-collared wolf in Montana’s backcountry. And on October 25, the Los Angeles Times made her a celebrity, with the back-story provided by the collar she wore.

From the Times, in case you missed it:

Wolf 527 was a survivor. She lived through a rival pack’s crippling 12-day siege of her den.

When another pair of wolves laid down stakes in her territory, she killed the mother and picked off the pups while the invader’s mate howled nearby in frustration and fury.

It’s all very dramatic and–no surprise–has caused quite a stir. But even as Yellowstone wolf biologist Doug Smith argues that the shooting of collared wolves does adversely affect research, he was shocked by the national sensation surrounding wolf 527 and remains in favor of the hunting season. Meanwhile, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf-recovery coordinator Ed Bangs, flatly says the loss of wolf 527 is no big deal.

From the Billings Gazette:

_The loss of two collared wolves out of a park population of more than 120 wolves in 12 packs was deemed insignificant by Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

_”It’s not a big deal,” Bangs said. “Certainly from a research standpoint, you’d like them all to stay alive.”

_The loss of the wolves is biologically inconsequential, he said, since wolves die all the time and packs dissolve.

Smith disagrees, saying the loss does affect the park’s research, though not critically.