By now, you know that my specialty within science is biology. A few years ago, I took a course on Wildlife Management taught in part by the National Forestry Service and learned some very important things concerning conservation and this new concept of Rewilding. Rewilding is a new "conservation" idea of "returning areas to their natural condition prior to the settlement of the US by the European descendants" or at least what is perceived by certain peoples as the natural state.
It turns out that these people don't know what they are talking about or doing. Their concept of rewilding or reintroducing predator species to an area is to simply turn a bunch of them lose in the desired area without any preparations to return the area to an ecologically compatible state for those predators. You see, they don't realize that these ecosystems are no longer ecologically compatible with these predators.
Over the last 100 years, we have moved into these areas building homes, towns, and ranches. This necessitated the stopping of forest fires from burning themselves out in these areas as was previously the case. Not permitting the forest fires from burning themselves out stopped the natural population control of trees in these areas by the destruction of most of the younger trees before they could reach an age where they are more resistant to the normal grass fires which previously burned through these areas. This permitted a massive increase in the number of trees in these areas to the point to where the average population of trees in these area is about 5 times what it was just 100 to 200 years ago. In some areas, it is even worse.
Even the conservationists themselves have contributed to this problem by protesting and stopping logging in these areas. This has permitted the tree populations to increase even more.
The problem this causes is that the trees shade the ground beneath them to the extent that the grasses and brush beneath the trees wont grow or wont grow as densely. This decreases the food available for the prey species the predators depend on for food. But it also decreases the ground cover which is necessary to prevent soil erosion. The resultant soil erosion has further decreased the potential grasses and brush used as food by the prey species by reducing the ground area available for these vegatations to grow in.
The result of this ecological damage is that there is less than 20% of the foods available to support the prey species which are used as food by the predators these people want to reintroduce into these areas. Therefore, these areas cannot possibly have even 20% of the prey species which existed in them when these predators previously existed in these areas. This means that these areas cannot support these predator species and the ecosystems are no longer compatible with these predators.
The result of this when releasing the predators back into these areas will be one of two things. The first is that it will be natural for those predators to leave these areas in search of food. To understand why this would tend to be the case, you must first understand how these predators hunt.
The way these predators hunt is to wander or just plain old blunder around until they happen on prey. This means they will continue to wander around until they happen onto enough prey on a regular enough of a basis to support them in this area. In this case, they will remain in the area. But, if they don't blunder into enough prey to support them, they will keep wandering until they reach an area where they can consistently happen onto enough prey to support them. Therefore, if an area doesn't have enough prey population to support the predator, the predators will leave that area.
An excellent example of this is the relatively recent release of just four wolves into the Gila Wilderness Area. The people monitoring the wolves quickly lost contact with the three males. As it turned out, the female had had pups shortly after being released which froze her in the area she was released into until the pups were old enough to travel. The three males were not tied to the area by the pups and continued to wander until they ended up in an area where there were humans and domestic animals they could use for food. To my amazement, the people managing this release couldn't figure out why the three male wolves left the area. The reason should be obvious that the area cannot support enough prey species to keep the wolves in that area.
Another example is a problem commonly faced by communities near these areas. When ever the weather in these areas gets just a little drier than normal and the amount of grazing grasses decrease so that the areas can't support as many prey, the predators already existing in these areas such as black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes begin roaming into the cities in search of food preying on people and their pets. Even when these animals are relocated, they tend to return to these communities because they found food there.
A recent example of this is the relocation of a black bear from Albuquerque, New Mexico to an area 75 miles west of Albuquerque during the recent drought. Within days, the bear was killed crossing a freeway in Albuquerque because there was not adequate food where it was relocated to. In spite of this and many other examples, these people want to reintroduce even more predators to these same areas to further over burden the existing prey populations. This is actually the cruel and inhumane treatment of these predators being reintroduced into these areas, the predators already existing in these areas, and the prey species in these areas and should not be permitted. These people are not using common sense.
The second thing which reintroducing predators into these areas without proper preparations of the areas would be the predators remaining in the areas and depleting the already depleted prey populations to a point where just a normal winter would result in the predators being killed off by starvation and diseases. This is unfair to both the predators and the prey populations and should be considered the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
If these people really knew what they were doing and were using common sense, they would realize that these ecosystems MUST be returned to a more natural state before anyone should even think about reintroducing these predators into these areas. This would have to be done in the proper steps as follows.
First, they would have to log out at least an average of 80% of the existing trees in these areas with some areas requiring the logging out of over 90% of the existing trees. The conservationists would not permit this.
Second, they would have to undo the extensive amount of erosion done to these areas to increase the ground area available for the grasses to grow in.
Third, these areas would have to be reseeded with the indigenous grasses to increase the prey food supplies and it would take at least a few years for these grasses to properly populate these areas.
Fourth, they would have to either let the prey populations grow for at least 5 to 10 years before reintroducing the predators into the areas or reintroduce at least 4 times the presently existing prey into these areas. The latter is risky because it could introduce diseases into these areas resulting in a massive biological die-offs of the existing prey.
This process, if done properly, should take at least 10 to 20 years and would cost at least tens to hundreds of billions of dollars to achieve. For these "conservationists" to not do this properly should be considered the cruel and inhumane treatment of all the animals involved and should result in the prosecution of everyone involved.
But, even if this process is done properly, it would not return the areas to an ecologically compatible state for the predators because of the increased human populations in and around these areas which would still have a tendency to draw these predators to the human habitats. This will result in the increased stressing of the predators released into these areas along with the increased stressing of the humans living in the areas and constitutes the cruel and inhumane treatment of both parties. Therefore, we should not try to play God until we learn more about what we are doing and these people doing these things with good intent, truly don't know what they are doing.
One of the things that you need to know and we were taught was that over 80% of the conservation projects which have been attempted in the US have failed and/or been disasters. I have seen some of the projects which are considered successes and at least some of them should not be considered successes. Should people with such a terrible track record be permitted to reintroduce vicious predators into areas which are no longer ecologically compatible with those predators? Absolutely not.