Trophic cascade impact one of many reasons to support grey wolf preservation

There’s nothing new or particularly scientific here, but the term “trophic cascade” is always cool to lob at the anti-wolf contingent. Of course, its polysyllabic makeup tends to complicate its ability to be received.

Nevertheless, this is a great summary on the issue and it lists without nuance the many benefits of riparian restoration that the wolves have stimulated in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Meanwhile in Idaho, wolves remain a target of state-supported eradication efforts under the guise of economic support for ranchers. I don’t deny at all the value of a few head of livestock to a thin-margined ranch operation. Drought, a growing corporate influence within the industry and ever-expanding government regulation has contributed to the decline of ranching as a true Western way of life. Beyond the wolf debate, this is an issue that impacts all of America.

However, the impact of a wolves on a livestock operation has been proven many times over to be minimal, even less so when head loss is compensated for by the funds of various private environmental groups. The industry was struggling before 1995, the re-introduction was not the impetus. Pun intended, it simply provides a convenient scapegoat.

“I don’t deny at all the value of a few head of livestock to a thin-margined ranch operation.”

I think the anti-wolf subset of the ranching community is short-sighted, unable to adapt to the changing conditions of its workplace. (The brevity of that statement is going to be subject to response, I’m sure.) In this case, the conducting of grazing operations on wide open expanses of wild land has to come with the acceptance of risk. Why wolves are any more to blame than a cold spell or an errant coyote continues to baffle me.

I have no problem arguing that wolves simply represent a physical form of government intervention; and while I won’t dare to sprinkle even a small percentage of the ranching community into the Cliven Bundy basket, let’s not act like pushing back on Washington isn’t synonymous with the western mindset. Many ranchers conduct their land wars and local legislative battles tactically and politically, unlike Archie from Bunkerville.

Thankfully, two wolf advocates I have read thoroughly, L. David Mech and the very person who led the re-introduction effort, Carter Niemeyer, both agree that “wolves are back” and that at this point, another eradication is highly unlikely. The protections have worked.

“News hits of a wolf kill before it can be proven, or weeks after a carcass has been picked apart by ravens, vultures and coyotes.”

I believe that man has always had an impact on the population numbers of the wild animals with whom we share the planet. But I don’t know why we think we have more right to a wild space. I also don’t believe wolves are responsible for as many livestock kills as reported. News hits of a wolf kill before it can be proven, or weeks after a carcass has been picked apart by ravens, vultures and coyotes. Let’s not forget how easy it is for a golden eagle to take a few sheep.

Point is, I believe balance is needed and that some wolf hunting will promote that natural equity. However, there remains too many people dedicated to ensuring that wolves simply stop existing, and promoting that man is more meaningful to the planet than other animals. Thing is, we can prove very easily that our impact, our trophic cascade, is much more detrimental than beneficial.

At least wolves can point to a healthy Yellowstone or Firehole River bank and bark, “Hey, we did that.”

FiveFinger devotees have some explaining to do


Image source:

The above ad has an entirely different meaning now, doesn’t it? I’ll spare you the pun.

Not for a single moment did I buy into this trend.

I wasn’t against the shoe or the idea of lightweight running gear. And I fully recognize the value of Vibram to the shoe industry and the company’s heritage within the hiking world.

What I was against were those people who suddenly became champions of barefoot running, who were able to so quickly and confidently tell me that today’s running shoes were leading to the de-evolution of man, and that if we didn’t alter our evil habits of heel-striking the universe would soon cave in on itself and along with roaches and Richard Simmons, only those who donned these goofy rubber foot gloves would be left thriving.

All people had to say when they were asked about wearing a set of Vibram FiveFingers was something like, “They’re comfortable.” or “I just like them.” Fine. I can’t argue with that. I sometimes wear my visor backwards. Does that make sense?

However, don’t follow up with a tirade on your orthopedic expertise pedantically gleaned straight from the marketing collateral of the manufacturer or the article in Runner’s World which just happened to be placed in between two full page ads for the product its text was spewing on about.

Today, I’m happy to be reminded of just how many suckers there really are out there when it comes to fitness trends. And in a few years, when Yoga is revealed to be responsible for more injuries than Al-Quada, I’ll go through this little exercise all over again.

Let’s call e-bikes what they are: mopeds


When I was really young, five or whatever, I remember my brother having interest in a rusted yellow moped my aunt and uncle had in an old barn behind their house. I remember thinking, “Dude, no. Shit’s lame.”

The good news is that the memory isn’t that clear, so I’m not sure if he ever rode it or the interest continued. Either way, I’d rather not know. Unfortunately, I’m afraid my fear may be reincarnated thanks to the onset of e-bikes.

First, these aren’t bikes. They’re mopeds. And no matter how similar to actual bikes you make the paint scheme or volume of trendy urbanist cool you apply, they still won’t be acceptable. I’m having a hard enough time accepting electric skateboards. Thankfully they’ve made those things so expensive they’ll never crack the mainstream marketplace.

The problem with e-bikes is that most functional bicycles today already require a line of credit to acquire thanks to an industry that has about as much ability to control costs as Donald Sterling does his dementia. Since $6,000 is already an acceptable amount to pay for a bicycle with pedals, hell, why not step up another few bucks to one that pedals for you?

Either get a Vespa or a set of pedals, because you can’t have both.

At least not on the same machine.