The pro-wolf environmentalists who have fought tooth and claw the management and control of wolf numbers in the Northern Rockies and in the Upper Midwest may now be proving to be the worst enemy of wolves. Not satisfied with a recovered wolf population, those groups and organizations which represent them have repeatedly kept management hunts tied up in court, to the point where in the West we now have upwards of ten times as many wolves as outlined by the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan. And in the northern tier of America's heartland, wolf populations have exploded, from only about 1,000 just 30 years ago, to more than 5,000 today. There now could be as many as 10,000 wolves in the lower 48 states.
Conservation success story...or wildlife disaster?
That depends on who you ask. The environmentalist, who dream of returning to a pre- Columbian environment, before humans appeared upon North America, are thrilled with the growing wolf numbers. And one of the groups, the Center for Biological Diversity, has stated their goal is to see tens of thousands of wolves roaming freely from coast to coast, border to border. The sportsmen, who have paid for all wildlife conservation efforts in this country for the past hundred years are now seeing that work going down the drain wherever there are wolves. The deer herds in the Upper Midwest are 40- to 60-percent less than ten years ago, and many elk herds in the Northern Rockies are down 60- to 80-percent. Such losses can be directly linked to wolf depredation or losses due to the stress wolves place on wildlife populations.
Sportsmen in this country have had their fill of wolves, and they are fighting back. While wolves may still be, as this is written, protected by the Endangered Species Act, more and more are now being found dead - and not all have been shot. It seems that quite a few very disgusted sportsmen are now reverting to a bit of chemical warfare.
In the December 2006 issue of Veterinary Medicine magazine, the article "New Findings on the Effect of Xylitol Ingestion in Dogs" sheds light on the deadly effect this popular artificial sweetener has on canines. Then in March 2007, an article in USA Today, titled "Popular Sweetener is Toxic for Dogs" shared the same information. Somewhere along the way, sportsmen put it all together. Wolves are canines, nothing more than the wild cousins of the dogs so many of us keep as companions, use for hunting, or often cherish as working dogs with cattle or sheep. They figured if the sweetener was deadly when ingested by dogs, then Xylitol would have to be just as deadly for wolves.
The news spread quickly, and the word is that many hunters are now making sure they have a plastic baggie with a healthy dose of the sweetener whenever they head out for big game. And if they are successful, they are leaving many very sweet gut piles behind. Likewise, if they happen upon a wolf-killed elk or deer carcass, they are also dousing those down with Xylitol as well. And this has had the environmentalists in an uproar. So much so, that when the LOBO WATCH website shared this news, these groups went overboard to try getting the site shut down for good...but it didn't work. Their accusations, blogs, petitions, threats, and public comments just brought more attention to the LOBO WATCH efforts to keep the spotlight burning on the wolf issue - and to bring in more followers. And we would like to thank them.
Noted 19th Century American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Every sweet has its sour." And that sour to sportsmen is that the very same Xylitol laced gut piles and carcasses pose the same deadly danger to hunting dogs. Be aware that the sweetener is now being widely used (sales of the sweetener have never been better in the Northern Rockies), and that every precaution must be made to prevent your dogs from eating on game offal or carcasses where you hunt.
So, what is Xylitol...and how does it affect canines?
Snopes says, "Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used in candy and chewing gum. It is also found in some pharmaceuticals and oral health products, such as chewable vitamins and throat lozenges. It can also be used in home baking.
While Xylitol is safe for humans, it can be harmful to dogs. The compound doesn't affect glucose levels in people, but when ingested by dogs it can cause a dangerous surge of insulin. (In as little as 15 minutes, the blood sugar of a dog that has eaten gum containing Xylitol may register a marked drop in blood sugar.) At higher doses, Xylitol is believed toxic to the canine liver."
For more at Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/xylitol.asp
Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute that is often made from a combination of various plants or plant bi-products, including birch tree bark, beets, or even corncobs. This sugar substitute is just as sweet as sugar, but has only about half the calories - and because it is healthier for most people, it is growing in popularity.
This sweetener comes with the American Dental Association's approval, since it causes little if any dental decay. The Dentist.Net website has this to say about the sugar substitute, "Xylitol is a sweet tasting naturally occurring sweetener which is low in calories and dentally friendly." The stuff also has the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - and it can be found at most larger food retailers and in health stores everywhere. It is sold in both liquid and granular form.
Still, it is deadly toxic to canines, including all dogs and their wild ancestors, such as wolves and coyotes. And a small dosage can cause considerable damage. As few as two sticks of Xylitol sweetened sugar-less gum has been known to kill a small dog. It has been reported that as little as 3 grams of the sweetener can kill a 65-pound canine - and that's only the volume equivalent of 1/5 of an ounce of sugar.
Hunters who strongly suspect their dog or dogs may have eaten on anything laced with the sweetener should take them to the veterinarian immediately. A dog that has eaten on an item containing a large amount of Xylitol can begin to show symptoms quickly, in as little as 30 minutes or less. Those symptoms include weakness, loss of coordination and seizures. Without quick help, the dog can suffer irreversible brain trauma, leading to the canine's death.
Whether we like it or not, those of us who spend a great deal of time in the outdoors, and enjoy seeing an abundance of wildlife, plus prefer to harvest our own wild meat for consumption, are now at war with those environmentalists who want to destroy our opportunity and ability to do so. As long as our anti-hunting enemies keep fighting wolf and other predator management, allowing our big game and even small game resources to dwindle to nothing, the sportsmen of this country are going to devise ways of taking care of the predator problem.
Right now, Xylitol is being used to reduce wolf populations. If you hunt with dogs, or just spend time in the outdoors with a dog or dogs, beware of the danger - and do not allow your dogs to feed on any remains left in the woods.
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