In Washington state in the US, wolves were driven to extinction 70 years ago but against the odds they are coming back across the border from Canada. Land of the Lost Wolves (BBC One) explored the love/hate relationship between the locals and these beautiful animals.
While biologists are hoping this marks a comeback for the wolf in the western states, with the territory they use spreading as far south as Mexico over the next few decades, hunters are twitching their triggers. Ranchers claimed the wolves threaten their grandchildren as well as their livestock and are ready to “shoot, shovel and shut up” – even though it is illegal to kill one.
The BBC film would have made particularly fascinating viewing for animal lovers in Scotland, where there are serious suggestions that wolves should be reintroduced in the Highlands.
Gordon Buchanan, the Scottish wildlife film-maker, is more than aware of the problems. Here, he was shown shocking pictures of skinned wolves and interviewed angry cowboys in a saloon bar. But really he is on the side of the conservationists and the viewer was swept along in the excitement of finding the “pioneer” pack leading the recolonisation of the Cascade Mountains.
Biologists claim that wolves help keep the ecosystem in balance by stopping deer from overgrazing. “The Cascade Mountains without wolves is like the Serengeti without lions,” one said.
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