What is Episode 70 all about?
Feared, revered, persecuted, and worshiped, wolves have lived alongside humans for millennia all across the Northern Hemisphere. In the United States, Anglo-Saxon settlers decimated wolf populations to protect their livestock and families from predation. Biologists recognized the destruction removing wolves had on the ecosystem and reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s. Since then, wolf populations have flourished. Many areas have recovered from years of overgrazing by large herbivores, and wolf tourism and hunting have brought in millions of dollars to local communities. In the past couple of years, however, wolves have been at the center of wildlife politics in the United States, much to their detriment.
So, what’s actually going with wolves in the US? Why are some states doing everything possible to get rid of their wolves while others are saving them? Why did wolves lose federal protection in the first place?
To answer these questions and so much more, today, I’m sitting down with Aaron Bott, a wildlife biologist, and wolf expert. In the 1800s, Aaron’s family moved west to make a new life in the wild Rocky Mountains. When his ancestors first arrived in the area, wolves were thriving and represented a very real threat to the new settlers. Over the following century, wolves were removed to make room for more and more pioneer families.
Fast forward to today, and Aaron’s family still resides in the Rockies with a mixed view of wolves. Aaron grew up exploring his family’s mountain home and fell in love with the area’s wildlife. Once it was time to choose his future path, he decided to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist studying human-wolf conflict and how to mitigate it. With extensive research experience and rich family history, very few people understand society-wolf dynamics better than Aaron and I’m more than excited to share our conversation with you. Get ready to finally have a firm grasp on the science and politics behind all of the headlines you’ve seen in the past couple of years.
Alright, everyone. Here is my conversation with Aaron.
Listen to this episode.
Watch this episode on YouTube.
Links & Resources
Utah State University (PhD student): https://qcnr.usu.edu/wild/people/graduates/bott_aaron
People & Resources Mentioned in the Show
“Endangered Species Act” – USFWS
Aldo Leopold – Father of Ecology in the US: https://www.aldoleopold.org/about/aldo-leopold/
Adolf Murie – “Denali’s Wilderness Conscience” – https://www.nps.gov/articles/denali-adolph-murie.htm
Public Trust Doctrine
Wolves in Colorado – Colorado Parks & Wildlife: https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/CON-Wolf-Management.aspx
“Colorado Proposition 114, Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative (2020)” – Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_114,_Gray_Wolf_Reintroduction_Initiative_(2020)
“Trump Administration Returns Management and Protection of Gray Wolves to States and Tribes Following Successful Recovery Efforts” – US Department of the Interior: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/trump-administration-returns-management-and-protection-gray-wolves-states-and-tribes
“Gray wolf listing reinstated under Endangered Species Act” – The Wildlife Society (2022): https://wildlife.org/gray-wolf-listing-reinstated-under-endangered-species-act/
“Montana has made killing wolves easier. Some hunters are pushing back.” (2021) – National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/efforts-to-make-wolf-hunting-easier-upset-hunters
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