Ecosystems are limited in size. There is only so much room for plants, critters, and humans. When one thing is out of balance, everything is impacted.
The Buffalo herd in Yellowstone Park is a perfect example. The magic population number is 4300 animals. Nature takes care of some of the population control with disease, weather, predation, and age. The problem is that annual breeding can exceed limits and routinely increases the population. There is a finite amount of grazing, habitat, and competition available for Buffalo and all other Yellowstone Critters.
The Madison River can only fit so many drift boats and catch so many fish. Catch and release mortality is responsible for nearly 100,000 trout a year, based on the current fishing pressure numbers. Natural mortality removes many more fish from the river. At some point, usually during a drought, something will break.
Grizzly Bears and wolves were on the edge of extinction. Like it or not, they were considered a threat to human safety, farm animals, and game populations. This motivated a wide spread extermination. Now these dangerous critters are rebounding and impacting the human population. One grizzly bear tag will cost thousands of dollars that can be used to protect the rest of the population. The Canadian wolves that are now in Montana are not natives and don’t fit perfectly into our ecosystem. Farmers, ranchers, and folks living close to the land are directly impacted by wolves and bears preying on their livestock, dogs, and property. Many of the decision makers are not in the same state and do not understand the intimate reality of having a wolf pack or Grizzly bear living in their back yards.
Everything and every part of an ecosystem are important. Mosquitos and ticks suck but are important for other reasons. Everything has a purpose within the limits or “Carrying Capacity” of our Big Sky Ecosystem. You can’t have one without the other.
Intelligent and educated decisions need to guide our wildlife and ecosystem choices. Not everyone will approve or agree. The key is to carry our ecosystems to the finish line. Conservation, wildlife management, and smart protections will ensure our wild futures.
Before you complain, protest, and ridicule, educate yourself about what the facts and choices are. Sometimes there will be sacrifices of a few to protect the many. You may not like it, but you will understand it.
Nature always finds a way!
For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.