I have the utmost respect for ungulates, yet they sometimes tend to get lazy when what they seek is within easy reach, right there in front of them. That statement (not the “utmost respect” part—the “lazy” part) could also apply to hunters who don’t hesitate to shoot half-tame elk, deer or bison right outside of park boundaries.
In one of their most telling remarks, Montana hunters have complained that wolves make elk “too hard to hunt.” Ever the lackeys, state game departments use that for an excuse to promote wolf hunting, instead of sticking up for wolves by pointing out that they are just doing their job of preventing elk from over-grazing.
The fact is, wolves keep browser and grazer populations healthy precisely by keeping them on the move, making sure they don’t get too complacent. As with human beings, inertia can set in from staying in one place, causing individuals or entire populations to get fat and lazy.
So next time you hear hunters complaining about wolves, remember, it’s not because they really think wolves are going to eliminate all “their” elk—they just don’t want to have to walk too far from the pickup truck to make their kill.