This story here on the Yellowstone National Park Grey Wolves and the beneficial effects that having wolves on your doorstep can have and just how important each piece of the jigsaw is to the whole reminds us that wolves used to live here too.

Wolves have long been eliminated from Britain and any attempt to reintroduce them is met with howls of fury by sheep farmers and the like. I am unconvinced and think that we could do a good deed for the environment and therefore on behalf of all people if we took the bold step of reintroducing them.

The good news story in The Times is only half-told though. For example, wolves have been hunting and eating the elk and elk leftovers provide food for animals such as ravens, eagles, and bears which also therefore flourish. Wolves also scare elk from streams. With fewer elk near the water, plants that normally grow there, such as willows, can grow taller. Taller trees means more diverse habitat for other animals, especially birds. In addition taller trees provide more food for beavers whose population has increased as a result. A good article on the benefits of the beaver can be found here but beavers are, on balance, good for their environment as well, though there are some downsides.

Wolves have such a big effect on Yellowstone because scientists believe wolves are a keystone species. Keystone species are species on which a large number of other plants and animals depend.

Scotland, and indeed parts of England groan under a surfeit of red deer. They do enormous damage to the land and especially to commercial tree plantings. They will, of course, take some sheep, but that would be a small price to pay (and the Scots farmers will not be slow to ask for their compensation, you may be sure!) for a significant and quite rapid improvement in our habitats. Perhaps we ought to revisit this idea.

The Wolf Trust may be found at this site. They advocate the reintroduction of the wolf, making a sound case that the objections of Scottish farmers, , whilst sensitively to be taken into account, should not, ultimately be allowed prevail, given that they receive huge sums of subsidy without which much hill farming in Scotland would be unviable. Whilst sympathising to an extent with the hill farmers, it seems to me that the greater good can be achieved by allowing the return of the Gray Wolf to our hills and forests.

And then, time also for the Lynx and the Beaver.

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