‘It’s very scary in the forest’: Should Finland’s wolves be culled?

alaska-wolf-yva-momatiuk-and-john-eastcott-national-geographic-creative

Alaska wolf Yva Momatiuk-national-geographic-creative

GR: How can 235 wolves be too many when Finland has 5,500,000 humans? Does nature hold no value in our eyes? E. O. Wilson’s recommendation that we dedicate half of the Earth to wildlife would insure that moose, wolves, ravens, and other wildlife would survive, and so would we. The tiny part of the ecosystem these far-north creatures represent is an essential part of the natural processes that allow humans and other creatures to live on Earth. The alternative of a farm-and-concrete-covered world just isn’t sustainable and it’s not at all attractive.

The following article becomes more of a report than a question if you compare wolf kills to automobile kills or if you would like to preserve nature on Earth.

Moose antlers emerge from a frozen lake. Photograph: Davide Monteleone for the Guardian

“The story of a kill is told in the snow. On the Finnish island of Porosaari, we find the first paw print. “That’s a male,” says Asko Kettunen, retired border guard, hunter and tracker. How can he be sure? “It’s big.”

“Five ravens rise from dark pines, croaking in the icy silence; they will scavenge anything caught by the wolves. We wade through knee-deep snow. There’s a spot of vivid blood and a tuft of moose hair, cleanly cut, which Kettunen deduces has been ripped from a living animal. This, he says, is the moment the wolves made contact. First they try to puncture the intestines; if they succeed, the moose may run on, but the damage is done.

“We find moose tracks, each hoof print far apart: the animal was running. Kettunen points to wolf prints on either side, to where a second and third wolf joined the chase. There are blood spots and more hair and a pine sapling snapped in two. “The moose collided with a tree, so it was not that well,” Kettunen says, with Finnish understatement.

“There are spots of blood by every moose print now. Finally, up the hill, is the kill zone. A young moose has been reduced to two front legs and a skin detached precisely from the body, intestines that spill like butcher’s sausages and a mound of freshly chewed grass where its stomach once was. Kettunen thinks that five wolves feasted here the previous night. We find faeces and a curved bed of snow where a contented wolf took a postprandial doze.

“Finland has a wolf problem. Five and a half million humans share the country with an estimated 235 wolves, and that’s too many, say rural Finns, whose livestock and hunting dogs are being killed. Some parents are scared that wolves will attack their children. “Before, wolves were afraid of people,” Kettunen tells me. “Now people are afraid of wolves.” For the past three years, the government has assuaged these fears with a wolf cull. Last winter, 43 wolves were killed in a “management hunt”, while total fatalities numbered 78, including “problem” wolves shot by police and road casualties.” –Patrick Barkham (Continue reading:  ‘It’s very scary in the forest’: should Finland’s wolves be culled? | World news | The Guardian.)

Beyer Introduces Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act To Protect Biodiversity

Urban Sprawl--Los_AngelesGR:  Wildlife corridors are elements of healthy wildlife habitat. As part of the Half for Nature movement, they would be broad longitudinal swaths of our continents and oceans. However, we should have developed them a century ago. Today, farms, cities, roads, and power-transmission corridors make it impossible to create uninterrupted corridors without dams and bottlenecks imposed by human developments.  Still, we can encourage such efforts for they are like sweet music to sustain our spirits as the ship sinks.

seal_of_the_united_states_house_of_representatives-svg“This week, Representative Don Beyer introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2016 to begin reversing the tide of habitat loss and fragmentation for U.S. fish, wildlife, and plant species.

“Wildlife corridors are stretches of habitat that allow species to move from one area of habitat to another for such purposes as accessing resources, establishing new territories, shifting ranges, promoting gene flow, and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate. Corridors have been successfully implemented around the world and throughout the U.S., yet current law provides limited requirements for land and water managers to address species’ connectivity needs.

“With roughly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do is to provide them ample opportunity to move across lands and waters,” said Rep. Beyer.

“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act establishes a National Wildlife Corridors System to ensure that species are able to move between habitats less encumbered by obstacles. The bill directs key Federal land and water management agencies to work with each other, as well as with States, tribes, local governments, and private landowners, to develop and manage national wildlife corridors in accordance with existing laws and the habitat connectivity needs of native species.

“Paired with a new public-facing geographic information system (GIS) database of corridors and modest additional funding to the key agencies, the National Wildlife Corridors System promises the framework to strengthen fish, wildlife, and plant species populations, while at the same time improving recreational opportunities and roadway safety for people. –Congressman Don Beyer (Read more: Beyer Introduces Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act To Protect Biodiversity)

Nature Needs Half

GR:  Earth’s ecosystems can survive the human onslaught if we reserve half the lands and seas as natural areas where we prohibit humans.

Here’s how you can join the action: be part of the WILD Half!

“Reaching the goal of at least half is ambitious but achievable. The short term milestone for the progress of this vision is to move urgently to protect at least half of the planet’s remaining large, mostly intact wilderness areas (for example Boreal Forests, the Amazon Basin, and formally protecting Antarctica), while achieving incremental gains by quickly protecting surviving remnants in fragmented areas of very high biological importance – for example in the Biodiversity Hotspots, Key Biodiversity Areas and Alliance for Zero Extinction sites. This rapid action is essential to respond to the global warming and extinction crises. The goal of achieving the target in every region will be more aspirational, requiring long term strategies with restoration efforts, and with many national/regional milestones along the way.

Boulder, Colorado. Photo: Melanie Hill.

“The goal has already been largely achieved in many parts of the world. Boulder County, Colorado, USA, home of the WILD Foundation, is 67% protected. The Canadian Boreal Framework (signed onto by many varied interests) calls for the protection of at least half of Canada’s Boreal Forest in an interconnected manner, and both Quebec and Ontario have made public commitments towards at least half of their vast northern regions. Over half of British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands (Canada) have been protected through the combined action of governments and the Haida people. Countries such as Bhutan and Venezuela have set ambitious conservation targets; 51% of Bhutan is currently protected and 46% of Venezuela is currently protected. The Dominican Republic, a very small nation with a dense and growing population and one of the lowest per capita incomes in the western hemisphere has 67 protected areas covering 32% of the county’s land.

“Case studies in different ecoregions and under diverse management point the way to Nature Needs Half.” –Nature Needs Half (Go to the website to learn more:  How do we achieve the goal? | Nature Needs Half)