Wait, that’s illegal?

There’s not a new wolf in town in New Hampshire; state law prohibits the introduction of predator populations

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

I’m not one to know a lot about hunting or wild animals — I tend to gravitate more toward puppies than wild wolves, but this New Hampshire law has me scratching my head.

According to the Revised New Hampshire Statutes from 2017, Section 207:61, “207:61 Wolf Introduction Prohibited. – I. For the purposes of this subdivision, ‘wolf’ means any canine classified as Canis lupus or Canis rufus. II. No person or state agency shall introduce wolf populations to the state of New Hampshire.”

Let’s say that again for the people in the back holding a really large crate somewhat open near this state’s border: introducing wolf populations is illegal in the state of New Hampshire. I was confused when I first read this law — being a person who doesn’t hunt — and decided to dig a little deeper.

After additional research, I found that New Hampshire, like many states in this great union, had a serious knack for hunting down these top predators back in the day. Recent inquiries to reintroducing wolves at a state level to manage populations of other animals (looking at you, deer) have risen, but at the moment there are no concrete plans to manage a reintroduction of wolves to New Hampshire.

Historically, the United States had a problem with wolves. As a top predator, wolves put people’s lives and livelihoods at stake by preying on livestock. This caused tensions between the people who are using the livestock as a means to survive with the wolves who were also using the livestock as a means to survive. Ironic, isn’t it?

This competition eventually became a nationwide campaign to hunt down wolves and nullify this problem. Unfortunately, when one takes a top predator out of an ecosystem, things start to go crazy. Deer populations have spiked since the anti-wolf campaign.

This leads to the current status of wolves in the United States. In almost every state in the continental US, they are endangered — except for Minnesota (you go, Minnesota).

Now, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate for a little bit. I can see how historically the population had a reason to fear these furry creatures — they’re scary! They pose a threat to people and to their livelihoods, but I don’t think that’s a reason to go all gung-ho and eradicate them from the face of the earth.

What all of this boils down to is the health of the ecosystems. Without top predators to keep animal populations at reasonable levels, the country will soon be overrun by Bambi. If that doesn’t sound particularly peachy keen, I would recommend the lower 48 states should attempt to reintroduce helpful pockets of wolf populations back into their ecosystems. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy — just think of how Yellowstone National Park recently reintroduced a group of wolves back into the park after finding no remaining populations there.

This law specifically prohibits individual persons and state agencies from reintegrating missing wolf populations back into the ecosystem, so I don’t know how realistic that idea I had would actually be. I do think that reintroducing missing species would be good for the health of ecosystems across the country, though.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].