August 26, 2019

Are Hybrid Wild Dogs So Wonderful for Our Ecosystems?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Wolf advocates, in broken record fashion, always resort to the false claim that having wolves in every corner of our landscape is “good for a healthy ecosystem.” Is it?

The claim is that there were abundant wolves in every state of the Union…once. Perhaps that is true, perhaps not. Real historic accounts reveal that even if wolves were in every state of the Lower 48, they did not exist in numbers that some seem to think they did and are demanding that they do today.

When Teddy Roosevelt traveled throughout the West and the Rocky Mountains, he toiled to document the differences between wolves and coyotes and pointed out that each breed of wild dog had different names often depicting the region in which they inhabited. He also pointed out that these wild dog breeds essentially remained geographically separate. This separation limited, or even eliminated any kind of interbreeding between coyotes and wolves. So, one has to ask if this phenomenon of mixed breeds of wild dogs is a modern era event.

When one examines the journals of Lewis and Clark as well as the explorers and trappers that soon followed Lewis and Clark, we see that wild game was not widespread and abundant. It was found in certain pockets. As a matter of fact, often these explorers nearly starved to death due to lack of food from hunting. We also find scant accounts of encounters with wolves.

I recently have been rereading “The Journal of a Trapper” by Osborne Russell. On rare occasions, he mentions the distant howl of a wolf but never an encounter. Is all of this evidence that wolves existed in abundance, so much so that with the number of wolves we have today, along with the number of coyotes, cross-breeding was inevitable?

If wolves and coyotes are important to an ecosystem, as is claimed, should it also be important that we do what we can to ensure that a wolf remains a wolf and a coyote a coyote? That is not what is happening as DNA testing of wild canines is revealing. If the distinct qualities of each canine species become blurred what then becomes of the animal so many are claiming to be wanting to save? The other question is what changes in our ecosystem and what dangers do these changes put on the rest of the items within those ecosystems?

In a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about hybrid coyotes/wolves, a Maine wildlife biologist is quoted as saying that he wonders “what additional wolf-like traits will mean for the future of coyotes.” The article continues to quote the biologist about this subject: “Whether these wolf genes are conferring some kind of advantage to these coyotes,” he said, “that’s where it really gets interesting.”

Interesting may be a bit mild in terms of the possible serious complications to our ecosystems from a mixed bag species we know nothing about. It appears that to this point in time, our wildlife biologists and managers have had only to deal with the wolf and the coyote. Over time and through studies and experience, scientists have learned about these creatures and their behaviors. Along with these, they have discovered how each species interacts with everything within an ecosystem. Throw into this equation a new breed of animal, a hybrid wild to semi-wild canine and what changes? What other species are now being put at risk because some have chosen to artificially and unnaturally grow, by protection, wolves and coyotes and all other large predators? No matter how much some of these people want to rid man from the landscape, thinking that somehow we are ruining everything for the poor animals, it isn’t going to happen. Get over it. Time to move on.

It makes little sense that some would argue that large predators need to be restored to their historic habitats because of the importance of their perceived “in balance” ecosystems while in their effort, mostly due to historical ignorance, attempt to force unlimited numbers of their favorite animals into habitats that not only may not have the room but in so doing destroy other species. Isn’t this selfish, reckless abandon? Perhaps it’s just plain insanity.

A member of the coyote advocate group Project Coyote was quoted in the above linked-to article when referencing coyote management, “If we leave them alone, they will self-regulate.” Not only has this claim been repeatedly proven as a falsehood, consider what is being said here. “If we leave them alone,” is essentially not being practiced by anyone, including the group Project Coyote. It has always amazed me that these clowns will yell and scream in protest that man is attempting to manipulate wildlife in order to meet the social demands of people, and sometimes will even employ a bit of science in their work, while they do all that they can to manipulate the same species for their own selfish purposes. But, I thought that “if we leave them alone, they will self-regulate.” In other words, they want us to leave them alone but they can do as their agenda demands.

From everything I have read and researched, it appears to me that this hybridization of wild canines is a recent phenomenon brought about by the protection of the species. At the rate we are going, there will no longer be wolves or coyotes anywhere where there are human settlements. Perhaps it will be more drastic than that in time. This may solve the problem of keeping the wolf in the habitat where it belongs isolated from human-settled landscapes, but of the actions in place now, what kind of creature are we left with roaming undauntedly on our landscape and what threats from disease and the dangers to other species will exist?

These questions need to be answered before we keep up this foolishness of predator protection and demanding a wolf in every yard.

Share