Wolves at the Top | God's World News

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Wolves at the Top
Critter File
Posted: January 01, 2024
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    Red wolves are apex predators. (123RF)
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    A food chain can tell you who eats whom. A food web is a little more complicated. It shows how all the food chains in an ecosystem work together. (123RF)
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    Dr. Karen Wolf and her team care for another apex predator. (AP/The News Tribune, Drew Perine)
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    A group of red wolves stretch out at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge near Manns Harbor, North Carolina. (AP/David Goldman)
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    A female red wolf peers from inside a log. (AP/Gerry Broome)
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Why are people trying to save the red wolf species? It’s partly because red wolves have an important job. Even the littlest critters in an ecosystem need the Big Bad Wolves to stay around.

Red wolves are apex predators. Apex means the highest point or peak. Apex predators are the top of the food chain in their habitats.

The food chain describes what creatures eat. Bigger animals eat smaller animals. Meat-eaters eat plant-eaters. And what eats apex predators? Nothing! Grizzly bears, tigers, lions, orcas, and saltwater crocodiles are all apex predators too.

People didn’t always realize that red wolves served a purpose. The U.S. wildlife service once rewarded hunters for killing wolves. The idea was to protect people and other animals.

Back then, “we thought predators were bad. We didn’t understand ecosystems and how important it is to have predators in those ecosystems at the time,” says Natalie Davis. She’s part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ program to save red wolves from extinction.

Apex predators help keep other species in check. Too many deer around? Those herbivores may eat all nearby plants. Got out-of-control populations of raccoons and opossums? They’ll shrink the number of songbirds.

Red wolves are also a keystone species. That means the ecosystem depends on that species. For example: Wolves eat sick prey. That keeps disease from spreading. Without the keystone species, the ecosystem may get out of whack.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the Church to a body. Just like each part of a body is necessary, so is each member of the Church. Without you, the Church misses out. It can’t experience the fullness of completion.

And without wolves, the world misses out. A wolf can’t live well if its teeth fall apart. And an ecosystem will crumble without its apex predator.