Promoting wolf conservation since 1999

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Wolves: The ‘Best Natural Defense’ Against Chronic Wasting Disease


MYTH: Predators are bad for wildlife.

The scientific community agrees that this claim is quite wrong, yet it’s a surprisingly pervasive belief in rural Western culture. Misconceptions like this can unfortunately cause real harm, as they drive political discourse and policy.

FACT: Wolves make prey populations healthier.

The preponderance of scientific evidence supports the view that wolves generally kill prey that are vulnerable, such as weak, sick, old, or young animals. By killing sick prey individuals, wolves remove infectious agents from the environment, reducing transmission to other prey. The scientific community argues that in this manner, wolves help reduce the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a degenerative neurological illness that is similar to mad cow disease, among elk, deer and moose.

Beyond wolves, perhaps no issue is as controversial in the hunting community right now as CWD. Yet former Montana Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gary Wolfe still went on the record last Friday stating that wolves “are the best natural defense” for the spread of CWD.

No doubt wolves serving as an unexpected ally in protecting the West’s most popular big game animals could be a hard reality to swallow for some hunters and hunting groups who have long opposed the predators. But this acknowledgement is a start.


So the question remains, why are some states spending millions in tax dollars to eliminate predators that help keep wildlife diseases in check?

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