The annual, and always controversial count of elk on the Yellowstone northern range has been released. The northern range of Yellowstone extends well north of Yellowstone Park itself.

The news article concludes on the basis of speculation by a couple biologists that more elk are now living north of the Park due to the long term drought, lack of predators, and milder winters. A Montana state biologist says this makes the winter range north of the Park even more valuable. This is true. That range has always been invaluable and the state ought be buying more of it before it is completely filled with trophy homes.

If this is a trend, however, it takes more than one year to establish. One data point does not make a trend. This year’s elk count is two months late. As the winter progresses, these elk move to lower elevations, and that always means north. Until these “new” locations are replicated, we don’t know that elk are in general moving north.

It would certainly help if the agencies could get it together to count the elk at the same time every winter. That is what they are supposed to do — count at the same time each year. Otherwise, you end up with hard to compare figures.

Story. Count shows elk pushing north out of Yellowstone. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Tagged with:
 
avatar
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.

5 Responses to Northern Range elk count is in. Elk numbers down slightly

  1. avatar Jay says:

    Where’s Bob Wharf to eat his words when he guaranteed that coyotes weren’t getting any of the N. Range herd?Eleven percent of summer calf mortality was attributed to coyotes…that’s not the lion’s share–no pun intended–but it aint chump change,either. Anything to say about that Bob?

  2. avatar vicki says:

    I guess elk are doing what they should be doing… adapting and moving around. Gee, I guess they deserve more credit than some people gave them. They really don’t just stand there petrified waiting to be eaten.
    Coyotes are quite crafty, huh Bob?

  3. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Jay Says: “Where’s Bob Wharf to eat his words when he guaranteed that coyotes weren’t getting any of the N. Range herd?Eleven percent of summer calf mortality was attributed to coyotes…that’s not the lion’s share–no pun intended–but it aint chump change,either. Anything to say about that Bob?”

    Jay, did Wharff say that on Ralph’s blog? Can you direct us to the specific page? Much appreciated…

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  4. avatar Jay says:

    Yes, I can’t remember which post it was, though. In the thread of comments, I made a comment about the suite of predators taking elk, including coyotes, and BW’s response was a guarantee that coyotes weren’t getting any.

  5. avatar Flying Scotsman says:

    Gee, that’s funny…I thought the Northern Range Elk Herd was supposed to be extinct by now. At least, that’s what Bob Fanning “predicted” 4 years ago. In fact, he said they’d be extinct in *3* years.

    What happened, Bob?

Calendar

February 2008
S M T W T F S
« Jan   Mar »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
242526272829  

Quote

‎"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."

~ Edward Abbey

%d bloggers like this: