Switchback: Running and Wolf Reintroduction

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Should wolves be reintroduced to Appalachian forests?

Yes: 68% From an ecosystem standpoint, the forests of the East would definitely benefit from the reintroduction of a large predator, as right now our forests are dominated by overpopulated herbivores like the white-tailed deer. As coyotes have dispersed from the West, they have hybridized with wolves and domesticated dogs, resulting in what is called the Eastern coyote, a larger animal than those in the west, and one that tends to more frequently hunt in packs. The Eastern ‘Yote has assumed the mantle of top predator, but there is for sure room for wolves or mountain lions in the ecosystem.

Overpopulation of herbivores has a detrimental effect on the re-growth and development of forest habitat, and it’s likely that relieving some of that browsing pressure would bring about numerous ecosystem changes that the Appalachian region has not experienced since all large predators were hunted to localized extinction over the last few hundred years. It would be wonderful to see. —Jesse P. Cecil, via e-mail

Yes they should be re-introduced, but only after we can figure out what will allow them to survive. I remember we tried to re-introduce wolves to the Smokies a while back, and unfortunately, they all died. —Jon, Knoxville, Tenn.

No: 32%
I’d love to hear wolves howling in our backyard forests, but I believe the East Coast has been too over-developed to successfully support them. It would be unfair to re-introduce a species if we cannot give them the proper habitat to not only survive but also thrive. I regularly read about farmers struggling to protect their animals from the increasing number of coyotes. I don’t want wolves to be reintroduced and suddenly be considered another nuisance species. They need freedom to roam, and I don’t think we have the space here.
—Dan Wilkinson, Danville, Va.


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