One of the last acts of the Trump Administration was the removal of the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list. A 2012 Wisconsin state law requires an annual wolf hunt when the animals are not under federal protection.

The logic of this is that wolves prey on livestock and deer and humans are supposed to be the ones who get to kill livestock and deer. Even though humans are the most efficient killers on the planet, we don't like other critters infringing on our turf. So Wisconsin set up the wolf hunt. It was estimated that Wisconsin had 1,000-plus wolves, so the kill quota was set at 119.

We blew that quota (and a bunch of wolves) away. In three days, Wisconsin hunters snuffed out 216 wolves. I told you that we were good killers.

Now, a few days ago, the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a fascinating study titled "Wolves Make Roadways safer, Generating Large Economics Returns to Predator Conservation." It turns out that higher wolf presence translates, on average, into a 24% reduction in deer-vehicle collisions in Wisconsin counties. The cost saved in accident reduction is 63 times greater than the costs of verified wolf predation on livestock!

While the wolves are killing deer and lessening their population, the reduction in deer-vehicle collisions is due mainly to behavior response in the deer population, the wolf presence creates a "landscape of fear" making them more cautious. Also, predation by wolves reduces deer damage to crops. In Wisconsin, deer cause 90% of all wildlife-related damage to agriculture.

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I am hopeful that now we might have more people willing to look at the data and see that wolves are not a problem in Wisconsin. We should recognize them for what they are, a valuable part of a healthy ecosystem.

Kent Peterson