Sunday, June 09, 2013

Bears in wolf clothing

Reported in May 23' 2013' issue of Nature journal:
Hot topic, scalding hot, is the observed decrease in elk population in Yellowstone Nation Park. "It's those damned wolves!!!" Wolves, the ancient scapegoat for everything. Let's look underneath the wolf clothing.

In an attempt to 'reclaim' the trout population in the park lakes, 'humans' (clarification of which humans are not mentioned in the report) restocked the lakes with lake trout. Instead of the native trout. A detail missing from the original ecological assessment was that the lake trout spawn on the bottom of the lakes, unlike the natives, which do not. The introduced non-native fish are unable to be harvested by grizzly bears. Since fish are a major dietary source for grizzlies, the bears look for alternative food sources. Elk calves.

A research team in Wyoming estimated that this dietary shift accounts for as much as 11 percent reduction in the elk population, even elk that winter outside the park. "The decline of these elk is often blamed, perhaps erroneously, on the reintroduction of wolves."

But we do so love our scapegoats, don't we?

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