Genetic tests have confirmed that the first wolf in more than 160 years was found in Massachusetts in October, the Boston Globe reported March 4. The last confirmed sign of any wolf in New England was in 1992 east of Bangor, Maine. Are wolves on their way back in the Northeast?
Wolves had been hunted to regional extinction in Massachusetts by the mid-1800's, at about the same time that coyotes began to increase. Coyotes are often considered to be urban and rural pests; studies in Yellowstone National Park have shown that after wolves were reintroduced there in 1995, the coyote population was reduced by 50%.
The nearest wolf population to New England is in Southern Quebec, according to the Maine Wolf Coalition,
which promotes wolf restoration in Maine. Although the U.S. Dept. of the Interior had been dragging its feet in implementing a 2003 wolf restoration law, a recent ruling by the U.S. District Court in Vermont has ordered the government to get on with the business of restoration of the wolf population in Vermont and Maine.
Elsewhere in the country, however, wolves are not faring so well. Last month The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the protected status of wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, allowing hunting to take place. Aerial shooting of Alaskan wolves has been approved by the Alaskan state government. Wolves, foxes, bears and 10,000 other wild animals a year are being poisoned with sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate in a misguided attempt to control coyotes. You can send a comment to the Environmental Protection Agency to ban these chemicals at the Care2 PetitionSite, and speak out for wolf protections at the Defenders of Wildlife website.
In November I wrote about the return of fishers and moose to Massachusetts, thanks to the increasing reforestation of our state. Seems to me that learning to share our environment with other animals will help us to save our environment for ourselves.