Studies Indicate that Eliminating Wolves Hurts
Browsers and Plants
Letters to the editor
/ Anchorage Daily News / March 6, 2004
I agree with Vic Van Ballenberghe's piece "Wolf debates subject to distortion" (March
3). Supporters of both sides of the issue, whether intentional or not, often
use distorted facts to support their views. I was raised by an avid hunter and
outdoorsman. What concerns me is not that predator control is being implemented
but that biologically unsound management practices are being used by the Board
Two studies recently completed by Oregon State University in Yellowstone National
Park revealed that wolves improved the health of plants by limiting overbrowsing
by elk. If this hypothesis holds true, it would confirm that when the top predator
is removed from the ecosystem, other parts of the food web decline, thereby negatively
impacting ungulate populations.
I find it ironic that the board's singular focus on eradicating or moving predators
may fail by negatively impacting the very critter they want to enhance -- moose!
Wolf and bear impacts on habitat must be understood and considered. Imagine the
constructive effects bears have on plants through their constant foraging and
digging. What Alaskan hasn't seen bear poop filled with seeds? Without healthy
browse, you won't have a healthy moose population.
To improve management of Alaska's wildlife, please call your legislator and offer
support for SB 343, a bill that creates a balanced Board of Wildlife.
-- Beth Verrelli / Anchorage
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