The Nature of Things: Why not have wolves here in Oregon?

E.H. Van Blaricom, columnist

After a long, contentious election season I think those of us who are not in therapy or have fled to Canada need a rest from the political wars. I know that I would much rather be writing about wildlife and all things bright and beautiful in the world of nature.

Which brings me to a topic I have written about several times before. And that is: Should we allow wild wolves to be returned to Oregon? Since I have fully recovered from the bias against wolves after reading "Little Red Ridinghood" in the third grade, I think I am qualified to have an opinion on this subject.

Here's the way I see it:

I am fully acceptable to having wolves in this state providing it is done on a test-demonstrated basis. Since Oregon now has over 3.5 million residents, and since we need to know how compatible the wolves and people will be living together, why not try this as an experiment: instead of putting wolves in the vast hinterlands of Eastern Oregon where they would seldom be seen by the public, and only a tiny minority would ever be able to experience the life-time thrill of hearing a wolf howl, why not plant the wolves where they could immediately interact with the public? This would shorten the learning curve considerably.

Someplace like Lake Oswego

My choice would be someplace like Lake Oswego. The houses are not too close together, and there is quite a bit of hiding cover in the way of trees, shrubs and hedges. The prey-base in that area could sustain several breeding pairs of wolves for quite some time.

I realize that people are emotionally attached to their pets, but there would be good things to be considered, such as that neighborhood barking dog that has been annoying everyone would not last long when the wolves come calling. And the songbird population will increase after most of the free roaming housecats are gone.

Not only would the wolves eliminate the nuisance animals such as raccoons and opossums, but they would soon take care of the Canada goose problem on the golf courses.

Another thing that would happen, is that people wouldn't have to watch those gory nature documentaries on TV showing lions dragging down wild beasts on the plains of Africa. People could witness the killing of Alpacas and Llamas from the safety of the kitchen windows. I realize these graphic scenes might traumatize small children, but there is always counseling available.

Bring in the buffalo

It is possible that the wolves' prey-base would become depleted over time. If that happens, we could bring in one of the wolf's original prey species, the bison. Perhaps that great philanthropist, Ted Turner, would send a small herd from one of his thousands of acres of buffalo. Those bison would probably scar up the greens on the golf course, but "let the chips fall where they may," as people used to say.

Another down side would be that children could no longer be allowed to play outside alone. But that's not all bad, as they would learn more social skills and harmonious behavior as part of a group.

And speaking of social behavior, the animal rights groups that are using or wolf introduction in Oregon have always been big admires of the social structure of a wolf pack. And yet I doubt that they would ever be happy if they had to live in a society where everyone is subservient to the dominant Alpha Male. Not even if it were Al Gore.

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