The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2006 Interagency Annual Report is out and the mainstream media are playing the story as all about continued wolf population growth and more dead livestock than before.

I haven’t had time to read much of it yet, but some of the MSM statistics seem a bit suspicious to me, so I will need the weekend to read the report before writing extensively on it, but, for example, wolf  “depredations” were up only slightly in Idaho from 2005.  Cattle taken by wolves increased in Montana, but the number of sheep killed declined dramatically. All told only 42 domestic animals were killed wolves in Montana, including 4 dogs. In response 53 wolves were killed — 53 dead wolves for 42 dead domestic animals!

So read the the MSM story, here is one from the Billings Gazette/Casper Star Tribune, and read the report for yourself and decide.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

16 Responses to 2006 Northern Rockies Wolf Report out. Media makes splash about wolf population growth

  1. avatar Vicki says:

    No report or statistic will change the simple facts. In order for our country to preserve a BALANCED environment, we have to achieve as realistic an equalibrium as possible. Crying about a few live-stock is feeble. Crying about domestic dogs, when we are so badly in need of the balance wild canines provide is pathetic. We swung the balance too far, now we have to tip the weight back to center. Human encroachment is the problem. (Not wolf/grizzly encroachment.) We are far more capable of limiting our destructive ways than any wild animal is capable of limiting it’s instinct to simply survive!!!!

  2. avatar elkhunter says:

    We dont have wolves in UT, and we are not “so badly in need of wild canines”, I think it is more a want, than a need. I can understand Yellowstone being a need, but outside Yellowstone it is a want, not a need.

  3. Is this just an opinion, or are there some steps in how you came to this conclusion?

  4. avatar elkhunter says:

    It is my opinion, but I also belive there is some fact to it. In UT we dont have an overwhelming ungulate population that is destroying the land like Yellowstone. We have a struggling deer herd, from alot of different reasons, predators, habitat loss, drought, hard winters…..there is not alot of good wintering range in UT. So adding another predator would strain the deer herds in my opinion. Our Elk herds are very stable with mature bulls in almost every unit. Not overpopulating like certain areas in CO, and Yellowstone. So in my opinion I think that having wolves in UT would be more of a want than a need. Bringing wolves in would not releive any sort of ecosystem problem I feel. So ya I think it would be more of a want than a need. And when wolves come they bring lots of drama with them, which we don’t need.


    Thank you explaining your reasons.
    Webmaster.

  5. avatar Wolfen says:

    This is almost a 1 to 1 ratio for wolf vs livestock death. I would say that is an equitable ratio.

    On another note, Idaho did not need these wolves to solve any ecosystem problem either. What is needed is more responsible humans who use the environment, i.e. public lands, for recreation or livestock use. Anything you see wrong with the environment is a direct cause of human intervention. Likewise, wolves were not needed in Idaho but only a desirable want by a select few.

  6. Wolfen,

    Three questions for me.

    Why is a 1 to 1 ratio of wolf to livestock death equitable? Are you suggesting that wolves are (or should be killed) as revenge?

    If the ecosystems in central Idaho would not benefit from the presence of wolves, why did the population of wolves grow faster in Idaho than anywhere else?

  7. avatar Steve says:

    elkhunter, chances are that if the ungulate population in utah is too small, the state will simply not support a large number of wolf packs. Wolves wont enter the state and reproduce beyond the carrying capacity of the suffent environment there.

  8. avatar elkhunter says:

    Steve,
    I agree with you on that, but since are herds are struggling why bring in extra predators? Does not make sense. We have cougars everywhere and they put alot of pressure on deer and elk herds. Not so much elk as deer. And when wolves come they bring alot of baggage with them. Constant issues, problems with landowners and ranchers, hunters. I obviously dont want them here at all. For many reasons. We are constantly wanting the state to reduce cougar populations to help bolster deer populations. Cause ID was supposed to have like 250 wolves,I read, I could be wrong on that, but now they have 700. And are fighting de-listing them very aggresively. They may say that we can support only a few packs, then they will grow and pretty soon we will have lots, just like ID.

  9. Steve is correct. Wolves don’t grow beyond their prey base. They have to eat. They only eat meat.

    If Utah’s mule deer herd is struggling, and I believe it is, here are some things to look at: 1. subdivision of their winter range, 2. invasion of their winter range with cheat grass and the increased number of fires cheat grass brings (that means the end of their browse), 3. competition with cattle, although elk would be hurt more. 4. Failure of aspen stands to regenerate properly. This is due to invasion with conifers and livestock grazing (cattle eat the suckers the aspen clones put up, preventing new aspen, and weakening the clone as a whole).

    The best mule deer habitat in Utah is in the Book Cliffs (guess where they want to develop oil shale).

  10. avatar Wolfen says:

    Ralph, You asked “If the ecosystems in central Idaho would not benefit from the presence of wolves, why did the population of wolves grow faster in Idaho than anywhere else?”

    I said wolves were not needed in Idaho. Can you show me how the ecosystem in Idaho has benefited from the presence of wolves. Idaho’s balance of the ecosystem was quite healthy before the introduction of wolves. Just because the wolves adapted very well to Idaho because we have good habitat for them and because their have been plenty of ungulates as prey does not mean that the ecosystem is benefiting from the wolves. It is the other way around…. wolved are benefiting from a healthy ecosystem minus the human intervention.

  11. avatar Vicki says:

    I have read several valid comments here. It is nice to see this interaction. Perhaps these dialogs will promote compromise and progress. I have to say though, we do know that wolves predate on ungulates. By effect, Idaho’s wolves have benefited from availabilty of prey. Likewise, the ecosystem (plants and water bodies) benefit from the predation that occurs too. It is not a one-sided profit margin. It is a win-win situation. Balanced ecosystem, healthy tourism….good hunting for actual trophy animals.
    One hudred years ago we hunted to eat, now we hunt for sport. Over grazing and drought are, by far, large contributing factors to the demise of ungulates. When you reduce ungulate population, you allow the environment to regenerate enough balance to begin to sustain larger populations again. It is a very self-healing process. It comes full circle. This is very evident in a revived population of aspen, cutthroat, and beaver in the areas of Yellowstone that wolves have balanced over grazing elk herds. Now, studies are beginning to show that elk herds that graze these areas are on the mend , and are becoming healthier. The key here is that more isn’t aways better. Too much can be harmful. None is never enough. A healthy small herd is much more likely to persevere than a large deseased and weak herd. That is why when a population becomes too large, the natural out-come is for the numbers to decline during drought and poor feeding conditions. Wolves promote the process of regeneration. Cattle, however, tip the balance so far off that there becomes a huge need for human intervention….which comes at a high price. They don’t give anything back and they devestate food sources fo ungulates…. We can’t say that about wolves. It is simple, we have to maintain range for ungulates. We can not do that while drilling holes in their habitat, allowing their food to be ravages by cattle, or by promoting unhealthy feed lots. We can do this by promoting land conservation. Maybe hunters and environmentalists should realize that, when working together, they could effectively solve more. They could out number the oil industry’s lobbiests. We could stop their consumptive buy-out of our government and resources. AND they could put cattle back on the ranch instead of the elk/deer range.

  12. avatar Wolfen says:

    Vicki,

    I appreciate and respect your comments. However, as all of you know my heart and soul is supportive of the ranching industry as that is what I was involved with for +20 years. I will not attack you or others as I did earlier because this does no good. However, I still solidly back their way of life but recognize they can and need to be better stewards.

    This morning, on another thread, Ralph mentioned that we have much more wildlife now than they did back in the 1800 and early 1900s. We also have much more livestock on private and public land and thousands of more humans than back then. It then appears to me that wildlife and ungulates have adapted and coexisted sufficiently well since there are much more than in the 1800s and early 1900s. You are correct that grazing and drought has aided in their being less ungulates than what an ecosystem can maintain minus the livestock. Hunting in Idaho has also done a nice job of maintaining ungulate populations. In fact, between hunting and the livestock industry, the ungulate population has always been in check. If an ecosystem is out of balance because of high numbers of ungulates then the other solution for that is to issue more hunting permits to reduce the population. This is very effective and also has brought much needed revenue to the state. The presence of wolves also can accomplish the same thing but what then happens and has happened as I have talked to several out of state hunters is that they will not come back to Idaho to spend their dollars. And Idaho will not make up the lost revenue with wolf watchers. I guess I do not see the need to bring in wolves when we have maintained a good wildlife population which can be maintained by issuing more permits if the ecosystem is out of balance.

  13. avatar Vicki says:

    Wolfen… I grew up hunting and fishing. My family is still active in these areas. My respect to you also. I know that some how, we have to find a place for ranchers too. Obviously, people eat beef. Not too many eat elk. I am whole-heartedly in agreement that hunters/anglers are a huge, if not the largest, providers of revenue for conservation as well. We can issue more tags. The number of ungulates reduced by wolves will not eliminate the need for hunting. But as an angler, I am greatly thankful for the benefits wolves are providing too. I also realize that at some point management of wolves will mean hunting them also. But before we get there, there HAS to be a thriving population. Then, and only then, they need to be hunted as a trophy animal. I live in Colorado. Hunting used to be a major source of tourism revenue, and a major attraction for this state. The sad fact is, it’s a thing of the past. Now, Chronic Wasting Desease is threating all ungulates in the state. Hunters have been cautioned about handling their kill. We do need help. No one wants to pay top dollar to shoot a deer or elk that looks like death on hooves. BUT, they will pay to see wolves and other animals. I have been reading through these sights since the mid- nineties. The trend seems to be that those opinions which could sway me come from those who take a minute to become educated. The other trend is narrow-minded hatred. An intelligent and true sportsman will value the good that can come from wolves too. If we can make little room for everyone, we’d all be better off. I think ranchers occupy a good chunk of public lands. But they don’t usually feel the need to acknowledge that the public actually has a right to determine what to use it for, and to enjoy it as well. The number of livestock lost is minute compared to the benefits we could see from balancing things out. Not to mention that there is substantial reimbursement available for valid loses. Anytime someone feels their income is on the line, we can expect emotion to take the forefront. We can all stand to give a little to the common good. Perhaps, our congressmen need to see how people here can have a dialog. Or perhaps we who can communicate should consider talking about better respresentation?…

  14. avatar Wolfen says:

    Nice remarks! Less defensive and not totally blaming the rancher for everything. I too agree there should be common ground found somewhere, somehow between all entities. Maybe there is hope.

  15. avatar chris thomas says:

    elk hunter are you really sure there are no wolves in Ut. Here are some facts– one trapped last winter near Tremonton. One caught in Morgan a few years ago. ONe shot in West a mere couple of miles north of the Utah border. Two shot several years ago near kemmer. I would bet there are more than a couple in Utah some where– like around deseret ranch or the logan forest area.

  16. Private emails to me indicated there was probably a wolf pack with pups for a least a year in mountains NE of Ogden.

    I’ll reveal that info now since about 3 years have passed since I got emails from a number of sources about seeing wolves, hearing them, and seeing tracks, including smaller tracks with the large wolf tracks in mid-summer.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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