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‘Wolf Wars’ big question: How many wolves will society tolerate?

April 5th, 2012 Posted in Opinion

“Do I think they belong here? Absolutely,” biologist says

By Jimena Herrero

LOGAN — Wolf specialist Carter Niemeyer had a powerful message for his audience this week: “The wolf refused to be our friend and we’ve never forgiven him for it.”

Niemeyer is a wildlife biologist and author of Wolfer: A Memoir. He’s also one of the biologists involved in the current “wolf wars” controversy. He spoke at Utah State University on Tuesday evening.

While the reintroduction of gray wolves into Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California has been successful, he said, misinformation and anti-wolf groups have created fear among many citizens.

“People aren’t thrilled to have wolves back,” Niemeyer said. “A lot of people are mad about it and there’s been a lot of controversy.”

He believes that the main reason for the public’s resistance is a general misunderstanding of wolves and their true nature.

“Wolves are like people, they take the path of lest resistance,” Niemeyer said, “I’ve never had a wolf stand its ground or attack me.”

Despite the countless stories of wolf attacks, Niemeyer believes they are often blown out of proportion. “I just don’t believe it. That’s why I’m here sharing my experiences. People need to get used to the fact that wolves are back”

Recounting his experiences with wolves, Niemeyer hopes to educate and create tolerance for the wolf. He also hopes people will understand that they can enjoy the outdoors as long as they are smart about it.

“We can’t kill wolves based on stories we hear, we need documented evidence,” he said.

Niemeyer believes that education and advocacy can help change the negative perceptions surrounding the wolf. Wolves have been demonized, and it’s important for people to understand that wolves are an important part of the ecosystem, he told the audience.

“Do I think they belong here? Absolutely,” Niemeyer said. “The question is how many wolves can society tolerate?”

Students in the audience had positive responses to his talk. “It was very informative and he’s a very down-to-earth speaker,” USU student Jenna Moore said. “It was nice to see an advocate’s perspective.”

“My family is from Idaho so it was nice to hear a fact-based perspective, rather than a rural one,” USU student Jessica McFarland said.


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