A non-profit from Texas is hopeful that it can get the ball rolling on the idea of reintroducing wolves into West Texas -- or specifically, Big Bend National Park.
Historically, wolves once ranged over two-thirds of the state but were eradicated over 50 years ago. Texas ranchers waged war against any predator that could pose a threat to livestock, and eventually, one by one, wolves within the state were executed until they disappeared. This story played out all over the country.
The last known wild wolves in Texas were killed near Alpine in 1970.
In the 1990s, there was some momentum behind the idea of restoring wolves back to Big Bend National Park. But those efforts fell short and haven't been revisited. However, New Mexico and Arizona used that momentum as a springboard to eventually release wolves back into their states. Wolves were also restored into Yellowstone National Park with great success.
The non-profit, Texas Lobo Coalition, believes things could be different now than in the 90s when the idea was eventually rejected. Among the reasons for that belief is that many landowners who opposed the idea have either sold their land or died. But for such an ambition to become a reality, there needs to be some degree of political push for such. And as of now, there isn't.
Should there be?
Big Bend National Park is a special place. With its magnificent vistas, Big Bend is a state crown jewel. But due to the remoteness of the park, it's one of the least visited in the National Parks System. Wolves being restored to the park would be an attractive draw for tourists. Wolves are also important to the food chain, as they would help balance the overpopulation of park animals such as mule deer and javelinas.
More importantly, having these magnificent animals back where they belong would be right. Texas was home to these apex predators. And to think that for over a half-century, not a single wolf roams the expansive landscapes of the Lonestar State any longer is a shame.
In 1995, a mere 14 wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park. Now, there are around 100 in the park. More live outside the park's boundaries.
The wolf restoration in Yellowstone was a rousing success, and there's no reason it couldn't be here.
For more on the Texas Lobo Coalition: https://texaslobocoalition.wordpress.com/
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