Though wolves were eradicated from Ireland and Scotland long ago, there is a growing debate about reintroducing wolves to these countries. Two thoughtful wolf advocates - one Irish, one Scottish - recently shared their views with me. Here are excerpts.
Dan Lettice wrote an article, "Re-introducing wolves to Ireland: Could we? Should we?" for IrelandsWildlife.com. Lettice noted two benefits of reintroduction: reduced damage from over-abundant deer herds and eco-tourism that could bolster local economies.
He also sees challenges. Glenveagh National Park, Ireland's largest, is 170 square kilometers (approx. 66 square miles) in size. Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is over 4,500 square kilometers (approx. 1,700 square miles). By comparison, Yellowstone is nearly 9,000 square kilometers (approx. 3,400 square miles). He adds that Irish and Scottish parks are not buffered by wilderness areas. If dispersers leave the parks, "Irish wolves would be wandering into areas where people have no experience of dealing with large predators, and have been led to believe, through myth and fairytale, that wolves are savage killing machines."