I am admittedly a long advocate for protecting wolf populations as well as other wildlife severely displaced or reduced by development or hunting. However, there now appears a type of environmental dividend for those looking for a reason to support wolf reintroduction programs: lower accidents and insurance rates. A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that car accidents with deer decreased dramatically after the re-introduction of wolves.
The study found a decrease of 24 percent in deer/vehicle collisions after the reintroduction of a wolf population. That is not apparently due to the just reduction of the population through a natural predator. Dominic Parker, a natural resources economist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and co-author of the study said “When you have a major predator around, it impacts how the prey behave. Wolves use linear features of a landscape as travel corridors, like roads, pipelines and stream beds. Deer learn this and can adapt by staying away.”
Since a 2008 study for the U.S. Department of Transportation found car crashes cost more than $8 billion annually, that is quite a wolf dividend.
Obviously, many argue that wolves represent a threat to cattle and other operations. There is also a high demand by hunters for the ability to hunt wolves.
So if you want lower insurance rates, get some wolves.