Montana’s resident human population recently topped a million, according to census takers. That may not seem like a lot in today’s grossly overcrowded world, where dozens of U.S. cities could boast three or four times that number (if wall to wall people were something to boast about). But compare 1,000,000 humans to the estimated 650 or so wolves in the state and it’s pretty clear which species’ population is out of control.
It’s not like I’m comparing apples and oranges here, either. Both species are predatory mammals (although human beings don’t have to predate, they just do it for fun), and carnivorous (unlike wolves, we can get by–a lot healthier, I might add–on a plant-based diet). Both wolves and humans would be considered large animals, roughly equal to each other in size and weight (well, actually, the average wolf weighs around 100 pounds, whereas the average Montanan weighs in at 3 or 4 times that nowadays).
Meanwhile, thanks to humans, there are two and a half million cows in the state. That’s two and half million cows, each of whom is slated to eventually be killed and eaten by humans. Wolf livestock predation amounts to only a tiny of that number; in 2011 for instance, 74 cows were killed by wolves. As Roger commented yesterday, 74 divided by 2,500,000 is .00029 percent, statistically zero. Range cattle are 147 times more likely to fall prey to intestinal parasites than to wolves. Yet those 74 cows amount to a wolf “problem,” according to the state of Montana and are cause to declare open season on wolves there.
So far this season, hunters and trappers have killed nearly 200 wolves. Montana wildlife officials say they are hoping to reduce the wolf population to around 450. That number does not even come close to representing a recovered state wolf population by any historical standards when you consider that in 1884, 5,450 wolves were killed in the Montana Territory, after a bounty was first initiated there. Before that, wolves probably outnumbered people.
How I long for the good old days.