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Reintroduction of Wolves Would Boost Ecology of Scottish Highlands

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The reintroduction of grey wolves in the Scottish Highlands would create a beneficial “landscape of fear” that would prevent red deer from severely overgrazing the region, according to a new study. U.S. and Australian researchers studied the beneficial ecological effects of the reintroduction of grey wolves in Yellowstone National park in the 1990s and concluded that bringing wolves back to the Highlands would be equally salutary. Scotland’s grey wolves were extirpated by hunting 250 years ago, and without fear of predators the red deer — a species of elk — have badly overgrazed the hills and valleys, leading to a sharp reduction in tree species such as Scots pine and birch. In Yellowstone, the scientists found that the return of gray wolves kept elk from overgrazing many areas, leading to the regrowth of aspens, willows, and cottonwood trees. That, in turn, has led to a resurgence in bird and beaver populations. A co-author of the paper, to be published in the journal Biological Conservation, said “we want to broaden the discussion not just to the intrinsic value of the wolves but to the ecological effects.”

This piece originally appeared on Yale e360

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Comments

Arooooo!

Maybe the U.S. can balance its budget by exporting wolves to predator-free regions.

For the budget shopper, there's always coyotes, who can at least keep feral cats in check.

Now what we really need is a really strong, smart wolf bred to chase recreational ATVs and chew off their tires w/o harming the riders. This would reduce the numbers of vegetation-destroying ATVs and make the sport a lot more interesting.


Posted by: Stefan Jones on 28 Jul 09

A very good idea. This would help restore some of the natural balance in nature in Scotland. I think some people in Britain and Ireland forget that wolves were a very important part of our wildlife until they were relentlessly hunted to extinction in the 1700s.


Posted by: David Coen on 30 Jul 09

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