The wolf, as an apex predator, plays a very important role in the ecosystem. Their presence influences the behaviour of other animals, keeping grazers on the move and changing the foraging patterns of ‘prey’ species. This then has a knock-on effect throughout plant and animal communities, altering the landscape itself. For example, where wolves still exist, deer populations are naturally controlled and they graze less intensively over a much greater area. This allows scrub and forest regeneration to occur.
In Yellowstone National Park, USA wolves were reintroduced, and they restored the landscape and the balance of predator and prey species. This had a positive impact of forest growth, meadow biodiversity and even trout populations, as well as proving to be very good for tourism to the area. For this reason, wolves are considered a ‘keystone species’, an animal that is crucial to the health and balance of an ecosystem.
Although they sometimes kill livestock, we need to realise that we are incredibly lucky to still have a healthy population of wolves in the Hârtibaciu Valley. The consequences of them disappearing would be much worse.