In illustrating the concept that wolves have a rightful place in the natural order and balance of life, Levi Carson, Nez Perce Fisheries Technician and traditional fisherman explains how the Nez Perce have long known that predators like wolves help protect the salmon.
By hunting at watering holes, wolves teach the grazing ungulate population like bison, moose, elk, and deer not to bed down or lounge around and graze near the river banks. This keeps them from eating all the lush riverbank shade foliage and defecating in the water, which raises water temperatures making those rivers and streams uninhabitable for spawning steelhead and salmon. ODFW builds miles of fence to protect salmon by keeping cattle from doing this, but those fences do not stop deer and elk. Human hunting and hazing can help to keep ungulates out of riparian areas, and have taken the place of the wolf in the ecosystem to some extent. Some people believe this new balance should be kept intact. Others believe that the old one should be restored, and that it allows for humans to enjoy nature’s resources along with the wolves.