Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Learning to live with musk oxen (hcn.org)
60 points by deletionist 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 22 comments

Some years ago in my poetry book I wrote a poem about them (in German)

  Auf dem Fjell
  Suche ich jeden Tag
  Den mächtigen Moschusochsen
  Im Fernglas zeigen sich nur Elche
  Dann habe ich dich gefunden
  Auf einem Foto

Reminds me of the wolves vote in Colorado. Rural locations (which will actually come into contact with wolves) voted against but were outvoted by the more populous urban locations (who probably won't encounter a wolf).


Major difference is that musk oxen are essentially an invasive species, whereas wolves play a critical role in the surrounding ecosystem. Look into the impact of Wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park if you're curious about that role.

No, as the article describes, musk oxen are native to Alaska, only disappearing in the 1800s.

TIL (I initially only read the first half of the article).

I still think opposition to their presence differs from the anti-wolf movement in the continental US, which is primarily driven by commercial interests.

>>wolves play a critical role in the surrounding ecosystem

So do hunters.

Hunters are important for a lot of ecosystems because we knocked off all the large apex predator competition.

We are the apex predator? I admit wolves probably played a role as well.

Hunters kill large, healthy deer. Predators kill unhealthy and weak deer.

Lower educated rural folks think about the issue emotionally instead of realistic. Its the same everywhere.

Haha. I think it's the other way round. City Dwellers who will never set foot in the countryside vote based on emotional attachment to animals.

The rural folks will have far more understanding of wolves than the city folks.

The rural folks will have more understanding of for wolves effect their farming.

It's the fancy city learning that appreciates the role apex predators play in wild animal populations and the role the wild takes in keeping the land healthy.

"I don't want to be attacked by wolves" is a valid desire, neither unrealistic nor emotional.

Attacks against humans from non-rabid wolves are extraordinarily rare if they have ever existed.

I have lived in a part of Eastern Europe where wolves had been abundant, but no attacks against humans from non-rabid wolves have ever been recorded, for centuries.

Even supposing that attacks from wolves might exist, they must be many orders of magnitude less frequent than attacks from the existing dogs.

Attacks from rabid wolves exist, but they are still much less frequent than the attacks from rabid dogs or rabid foxes. Because rabid animals usually just bite and then run away, such attacks are really dangerous only when it is not possible to reach quickly a hospital, for treatment against rabies.

The wolves are a serious danger for sheep and goats and other domestic animals, which must be properly guarded where wolves exist, not for humans.

Therefore "I don't want to be attacked by wolves" is a completely unrealistic fear, unlike the fear of dogs, including stray dogs, for which there may be valid grounds in certain places.

Possibly there are other wolf subspecies that are more aggressive; there are many (anecdotal) stories of non-rabid wolf attacks e.g. in Canada and Alaska, and Wikipedia [0] seems to bear this out.


Assuming that the causes of death have been correctly identified (because wolves will not hesitate to eat the body of an already dead human), that list contains only 2 attacks in North America during the last century (not counting rabid or captive wolves).

While this supports the supposition that the wolves from Alaska and Canada might be more aggressive than those from Europe, when starved during cold winters, this still shows that an attack from wolves is one of the least probable dangerous events that can happen.

Did you read the article linked? I don't know why you're talking about Eastern Europe.

If some random fuck was voting for my domesticated animals to die, I would reasonably object.

>In 2022, gray wolves attacked domesticated animals hundreds of times across 10 states in the contiguous U.S. including Colorado, according to an Associated Press review of depredation data from state and federal agencies. Attacks killed or injured at least 425 cattle and calves, 313 sheep and lambs, 40 dogs, 10 chickens, five horses, and four goats, according to the data. Other times livestock simply goes missing, such as two calves that Mr. Gittleson said disappeared after wolves had passed through.

> Such losses can be devastating to individual ranchers or pet owners. However, their industry-wide impact is negligible: The number of cattle killed or injured in the documented cases equals 0.002% of herds in the affected states, according to a comparison of depredation data with state livestock inventories.

>“95% of ranchers in Colorado will never have a problem,” said Ed Bangs, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who led the reintroduction of wolves in the mid-1990s to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. “4.5% will have the occasional problem every couple of years maybe, and maybe one or two guys will have a problem like every other year. I don’t think it’s enough to put them out of business.”

>“But if it was my cattle and my business, I’d be pissed,” he added.

>voting for my domesticated animals to die

You can guard and fence them, just like in every other place with predators the farmers haven't driven to extinction.

This is just the gun control holy war with the sides flipped.

It's the same war, no sides are being flipped. Step (1) increase populations of dangerous animals. Step (2) remove self-defense capabilities. Step (3) refuse to let the refugees build denser housing in the cities. Step (4) profit from mind-boggling real estate prices.

Or something like that. I jest, but wants and needs, lived experiences, and whatnot do tend to divide fairly cleanly on population density boundaries in the US (statistically, obviously not everyone), and it's very much not just those two topics where you can see that voting divide.

Well at least they're sorta tasty?

Great read!!!

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact