It’s A Bit of A Grey Area

Batten down the hatches, fasten your seat belts and hold on tight, because you’ve guessed it. Another article about the grey wolf. I can almost hear your eyes roll, your mind sighing with thoughts of ‘yeah, because we haven’t heard it all before.’ Well that may be true and I am not about to state that this is an article full of new information that nobody has ever mentioned before. If you’ve all quit this page now and I find myself alone in my writing, well, I kind of asked for it with an opener like that. But what did you expect? They are and always have been my favourite species, so the chance to write about them is too good to be resisted. Just like that extra piece of chocolate cake.

Grey Wolf

Re-wilding is all the rage right now and I am right there in the centre of the party (judge me if you will). There are countless arguments for: controlling of deer populations, subsequently controlling overgrazing and the general recovery of an otherwise very sick ecosystem. Yellowstone is a fabulous example. Wolves were hunted to extinction in Yellowstone, elk, moose and deer populations exploded, overgrazing of grasses, willow and aspen was rife and smaller animals such as ground squirrels, beavers, pine martins and numerous species of song bird decreased. When the wolf was reintroduced in 1995, grazer populations came under control, tree and shrub species increased and there was more food for voles, mice and gophers with beavers, eagles, bears, magpies and ravens also increasing, among countless others.

On the flip side, there are countless arguments against. What about livestock? What about land? We are a small country after all! Can we really allow such uncontrollable and large mammals to be released into the wild? We know all of this, we know all the arguments and we know that everyone has their own opinion and they are, of course, entitled to it. But let’s be honest. What does all this controversy boil down to? Quite simply, we’re afraid. After all,  nobody wants to see this staring back at them, even me.

Of course we are. Fear of the unknown is natural and is not something to be ashamed of. After all, they are large, they have big teeth and they are carnivores. Flash back to childhood memories of little red riding hood:

‘Oh Granny, what big teeth you’ve got!’

‘All the better to EAT you with, my dear!’

And if you have seen films such as ‘The Grey’, you will be even more doubtful about the wolf. And whether you enjoyed it or not, ‘The Grey’ really was nonsense. No offence Liam (you know I love you), but wolves do not take revenge and they don’t even look like that. And if we hadn’t hunted them to extinction, along with bears and lynx, they would all still be here and we would have to deal with them! Nobody is suggesting we introduce 1000s of wolves into the country, we really don’t have the room, unless they roam our cities. And I doubt that we or the wolf want that. Realistically, we are talking one or two packs in remote areas of Scotland where their movements can be monitored and maybe even controlled. The Allerdale Estate is one establishment that is willing to try it and are planning on controlling their movements with fencing. I know, I know, as if a fence is going to hold a wolf pack in! Well it will if it’s the right type of fence and they have enough food and space to live.

Now I’m not expecting everyone to throw caution to the wind and open the wolf with open arms, but try to be a little more accommodating. The wolf is not going to steal children, destroy all our livestock and run riot, not if the re-wilding experiment is implemented carefully and with every consideration taken into account. So don’t be dead set against it and don’t dismiss those who have their concerns. Let’s try and see both sides of the argument and then maybe we can gain a better understanding of the whole situation.


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Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard
I have been a bird enthusiast since I was a child and have just completed my MSc at Newcastle University on 'Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management.'
Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard

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