Foes of wolf protections discuss strategy. No decision yet on whether to appeal district judge’s ruling. By  Associated Press.

If they appeal, the temporary injunction could remain in place for 15 months or longer while the appeal being considered.

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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.

49 Responses to Anti-wolf defendents can't decide whether to appeal injunction

  1. avatar kim kaiser says:

    A quote, “Don Peay, who participated in Friday’s meeting as a representative of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said his group hasn’t decided whether to support an appeal of the preliminary injunction, but that the “time bomb’s ticking.”

    “I know this much, that everyday that wolves aren’t managed there’s a greater destruction of elk herds and deer herds,” he said. “It just has an increasing devastating impact on game populations and license sales for game and fish agencies and the whole hunting industry.”?

    I thought the livestock people said there were just tooo many elk and that they needed to be culled.

  2. Kim,

    It’s amazing that these 2 views coexist with so few people noticing the contradiction.

    I guess it’s our job to point it out.

  3. avatar Salle says:

    Kim,

    I would suggest that it would depend on which argument they are making at the moment. Both arguments can work, only in different hearing settings. Currently, the argument that wolves are devastating the indigenous ungulate “game” populations is the one they think will work for them at the moment. (Probably based on the concept that the judge ruled on data based on wildlife aspects rather than the ranching interests, per se.) When that fails, rest assured that the other argument will hit the press immediately following complete with the usual lack of rationale or data to support the claims, again.

    What it comes down to is a “control” issue. The word is bandied about with a varied and confusing array of definitions. In some cases it is used in disguise or double entendre.

    It’s about control alright but it’s about who has control over whom and how that control is implemented and by whom and for reasons established by whomever has control over the control. You know what I mean, I mean, you know what I mean?

    😉

  4. avatar JB says:

    What these comments indicate to me is that what constitutes “too many” or “too few” [insert species] is totally subjective–it depends upon your management objective. Groups like SFW and FOTNYEH are interested in maximizing havestable game…period. That don’t care about ecosystems, non-game species, or anyone else’s point of view. Similarly, livestock producers are interested in maximizing profitability by removing predators (e.g. wolves) and competitors (e.g. elk, bison).

  5. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    The only “time bomb’s ticking” is these people’s heads.

    what a sick thing – this obsessive compulsion to slaughter these animals as soon as possible.

  6. avatar Barb says:

    It’s just amazing to me that our governments will support barbaric and ill-advised plans to appease certain constituents – such as Alaska’s state wolf “management” plan.

    To shoot a highly intelligent and magnificent animal like a wolf for no good reason and especially in this manner (from airplanes where they unfairly run the animal to exhaustion and just shoot it) is atrocious. There’s no words to describe the un-natural-ness and idiocy of it.

    I just shake my head how man stupidly continues to abuse his environment and brother animals in this ignorant way.

  7. avatar John says:

    Didn’t their mothers ever teach these fellows to share?

  8. avatar JEFF E says:

    What I found most interesting is that Bob Wharff of Wyoming and Nate Helm of Idaho has maintained up and down that each chapter of SWF is akin to an independent franchise and operate essentially separate one to another, however it appears to not be the whole story(most of us knew that) as Don Peay is the one represnting SFW as a whole in the losing effort to circumvent the ESA.

  9. avatar Beth says:

    I was in Stanley Idaho the other day and saw a pick up with plates that said “WOLFTRK” was this anyone from here? I waited a little while but no one came out of the store to the pick up while I was there, and we had to leave.

  10. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    What chaps my ass is the fact that Wyoming’s Attorney General Salzburg other state officials from Idaho and Montana, possibly including Wyoming Governor Freudenthal, that should be representing ALL the people of their respective states and NOT JUST special interest groups. participated in a CLOSED MEETING via phone conferencing.

    Folks, our Governors, Attorney Generals and other state officials are sleeping with livestock producers and special interest groups such as Don Peay of Some Sportsmen for Some Fish and All The Big Game and Predators We Can Legally Kill.

    This is old news.

    But it violates the Public Trust Doctrine and is simply more proof of the control that special interest groups have on our state governments.

    I am infuriated.

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  11. avatar nate says:

    Missing from the AP Story…
    The conference call was not JUST a group of ag interests, sportsmen and state representatives talking down wolves but rather the interveners in the suit talking about best ways to deal with what they all felt was a poor decision. Nothing more, nothing less…

    Jeff E, things have not changed in the SFW structure. I find nothing in Don’s quoted statement that is inconsistent with what every state Board of Directors have said in the past. I was the one who attended the oral arguments in Missoula and was quoted as well speaking for SFW.

    SFW Idaho has been pushing hard to get state management of wolves. I know, I know, our view of management is different than many of your views. However, we have maintained our support for state manaqement – supported by the Service – that keep wolves in a healthy (I know, I have heard your arguments) population in Idaho.

    I will not continue to debate on this string but wanted to ensure that the AP story was not misunderstood even though it did not point out the fact that all participants in the call had been interveners.

    nate

    p.s. Brian, that is kind of funny – what you think about our members. And, Mack, we were going to go with that name but we could not get all of the words on our caps:)

  12. avatar Layton says:

    Mr. BLAA,

    Really sorry that someone ELSE having closed meetings “chaps your ass” — does your “we watch while our favorite wildlife kills the rest” organization always have PUBLIC meetings??

    I doubt it.

    Why don’t you file ANOTHER law suit??

    By the way, since you like to criticize how other folks write and spell —- should the sentence (that you wrote) say

    “What chaps my ass is the fact that Wyoming’s Attorney General Salzburg other state officials from Idaho and Montana ————”

    Or should it say

    “What chaps my ass is the fact that Wyoming’s Attorney General Salzburg “AND” other state officials from Idaho and Montana ———-”

    Just curious.

  13. avatar JEFF E says:

    Actually Layton “chafes my ass” would have been the more correct terminology, but Mack probably said “chaps” because he knew it would elicit a Freudian response in your psyche.
    As for Organizations; the difference there spanky is public government vs. private.

  14. Nate (Helm) wrote:

    “Missing from the AP Story…
    The conference call was not JUST a group of ag interests, sportsmen and state representatives talking down wolves but rather the interveners in the suit talking about best ways to deal with what they all felt was a poor decision. Nothing more, nothing less…

    Jeff E, things have not changed in the SFW structure. I find nothing in Don’s quoted statement that is inconsistent with what every state Board of Directors have said in the past. I was the one who attended the oral arguments in Missoula and was quoted as well speaking for SFW.

    SFW Idaho has been pushing hard to get state management of wolves. I know, I know, our view of management is different than many of your views. However, we have maintained our support for state manaqement – supported by the Service – that keep wolves in a healthy (I know, I have heard your arguments) population in Idaho.

    I will not continue to debate on this string but wanted to ensure that the AP story was not misunderstood even though it did not point out the fact that all participants in the call had been interveners.”
    – – – – – –

    Well, thanks for the comment, Nate.

    My view is that the best way to have a strong wolf population is to have a strong elk and deer population and that means, good habitat for elk and deer — the major threat being livestock. RM

  15. avatar JEFF E says:

    Nate,
    thanks for the additional info. One big problem for all of us is that the information that any one individual has is only what the local paper chooses to edit or not and without additional effort to find out any and all information related to a subject we all have problems making informed decisions.
    Just curious though, in the list of in intervenors on be half of the defendants it lists just “sportsmen for fish and wildlife” rather than ……..of Idaho, or Wyoming, or Utah. So which of the wholly independent from each other chapters was the actual party in the motion?

  16. avatar nate says:

    Good question JeffE.

    Simply put, we were the collection of the SFW states in the lawsuit and as a group we determined it was easier to operate in this situation as such.

    More specifically, all of the chapters got together as we prepared to address a strategy for the suit and intervention and commited dollars to the cause. At the same time we initiated discussion about and drafted a rough outline of a non-profit corp that would allow each of the SFW states to have a single Board position in the new entity. We tentatively assigned it the name Western States Association of SFW. We have drafted all of the documents to get our “status” but it will still take some effort to get the details of bylaws and such worked out. That effort is to prepare the states to deal more efficiently with situations like the one we faced in this suit where multiple states share an interest in a single situation.

    As SFW grows across the West it becomes more and more critical that we have lines which are better described for our members. Moreover, it will provide an easier platform for sportsmen across the West to stay involved in the larger issues that may affect the wildlife in the state in which they reside.

    Have you checked out our corporation on the secretary of state’s web site? I know he will send you a certificate of existence for SFW-Idaho. It may (some may never be convinced) help to demonstrate the independence of each state.

    nate

  17. avatar JEFF E says:

    Thanks Nate,
    Information is a good thing

  18. avatar HAL 9000 says:

    As a hunter, I can always count on SFW to say something stupid and embarrassing.
    Looks like they hit another home run…

  19. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Nate Helms, former natural resources coordinator for Idaho U.S. Sen. Larry Craig and current Executive Director for Some Sportsmen for Some Fish and All The Big Game and Predators We Can Legally Kill of Idaho, said “The conference call was not JUST a group of ag interests, sportsmen and state representatives talking down wolves but rather the interveners in the suit talking about best ways to deal with what they all felt was a poor decision. Nothing more, nothing less…”

    Thanks for ‘splaining everything Nate. The call and everything related to it is clear to us now.

    Actually, the conference call was much more than his simplistic explanation.

    The conference call is just one example of the height of government arrogance because it demonstrates an overt violation of the Public Trust Doctrine, which mandates that states manage ALL their resources, including wildlife, in the best interest of all the citizens of the respective states and not just special interest groups.

    Last time I checked, Nate’s “sportsmen” group was a special interest group. Last time I checked, hunting outfitters were a special interest group. Last time I checked, livestock producers were a special interest group.

    Last time I checked, wildlife watchers were a special interest group and I’ll be damned if wolves are being managed in OUR interest, to ANY degree, by Idaho, Montana or Wyoming.

    Nate also said “p.s. Brian, that is kind of funny – what you think about our members.”

    What Brian said was “The only “time bomb’s ticking” is these people’s heads. what a sick thing – this obsessive compulsion to slaughter these animals as soon as possible.”

    What’s so funny about that?

    Nate Helms, tell us about the coyote slaughter your group, Some Sportsmen for Some Fish and All The Big Game and Predators We Can Legally Kill of Idaho, sponsored in Idaho. If you don’t want to go into details, readers can find excellent coverage here: http://www.hcn.org/issues/349/17076

    Also revealing is Nate’s comment about Western States Association of SFW: “That effort is to prepare the states to deal more efficiently with situations like the one we faced in this suit…”

    “…prepare the states…”

    This dovetails with a quote from the article above: “It was set up so that if we needed to, we could do a lot of lobbying for our interests.” In the early days of SFW, Bateman explained, lobbying was a big part of their work. “But not so much now,” he said. “We have our relationships built, and we can do the same thing with just a phone call.”

    Let’s be clear ~ there’s nothing wrong with a special interest group looking out for it’s member’s interests. But does this group actually do that?

    From the article above, a quote from Barry Reiswig, ex-manager of the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: “They have shied away from habitat protection, for example, and with some of the company they keep, I sometimes wonder whether they actually represent the interests of sportsmen,” he says.

    Then he offers an example: “Right now, we have millions of acres of public land with mule deer and antelope on it, but elk are barred from ever going there. Instead, they are kept on these postage stamps (the feed grounds), time bombs for disease. The stock growers are not economically powerful, but they have political power, and they have kept the fish and game from buying any more winter range.

    “We definitely need a powerful sportsmen’s group here. Maybe someday SFW will become more sophisticated.”

    From the article: “The Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council includes 31 wildlife and hunting groups, Middleton explains. “And SFW is the only sportsman’s group in the state that is not on it. They were the only wildlife organization to vote no to a fee increase to support Idaho Fish and Game, because they want Fish and Game to have no power,” he says. “They want the power like they have in Utah, where they can just go to the Legislature and demand what they want.”

    My problem with Some Sportsmen for Some Fish and All The Big Game and Predators We Can Legally Kill is with it’s attitude toward the predators that God put on this planet for a reason which was to establish a natural relationship between predator and prey and this includes the spilling of blood and guts.

    This “sportsman’s” group is interested in minimizing predator populations solely to maximize prey populations so they can kill ’em, and kill as many as possible.

    One last quote from the article: “A boy of about 14 tells me how he has a place near here that is his favorite, and he points to a ridge, just now in full darkness, to the southwest. “If I could, I’d just stay up there and live,” he said, “go hunting every day. I don’t like living in town.” Later he will ask me what kind of rifle I shoot, and whether I think it would be fun to hunt coyotes with a machine gun.”

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  20. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Layton, you’re making some progress in remedial reedin’, rightin’, and ‘rithmetic.

    Now go do your homework which is to study the Public Trust Doctrine and then prepare an essay, with no spelling errors, on the benefit of the Public Trust Doctrine to all Americans and publish it here.

    Mack P. Bray

  21. avatar Ryan says:

    Mack,
    While your quoting God please read Genesis, In chapter one God gives man dominion over all everything on the earth. Through out the old testment the call is given to protect the flocks from predators. Before you blame just christians for predator management. Native inuits practiced Denning (the act of killing entire litters of pups) to protect their wildlife populations. SFW, OHA, Delta Waterfowl, and other conservation groups who encourage predator management, also spend quite a bit of money to protect and enhance habitat for all species. Controlling predator populations also helps many other species like sage grouse, song birds, and wading birds. SFW is in the fight against drilling in Vernal and other places across the west. When quoting the Public Trust Doctrine please take into account that on a general note across much of the land mass across the nation that Hunters, Fishermen, ranchers, and Oil and Mining interests bring in much more economic benefit to the local economy than wildlife watchers. Also the the money to support the vast majority of wildlife management comes from Sportsmens dollars.

  22. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Good points, Ryan.

    Actually, I didn’t “quote” God; I offered my interpretation of His/Her intent. It is also my interpretation that dominion implies responsible stewardship. It is also my interpretation that while we are “managers,” He/She is still the owner of planet earth. And, Ryan, I believe we rely on the New Testament for much of our guidance as opposed to the Old Testament, which you seem to rely upon for guidance about predators.

    I’m not opposed to reasonable, science guided “predator management.” I am opposed to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming’s wolf management plans whereas wildlife watcher’s interests are not taken into consideration, as required by the Public Trust Doctrine.

    I am also opposed to coyote killing contests; one reason is that the science is in ~ remove X coyotes from an area and others come in to take advantage of new territory and a new food source and they have bigger litters and whoever was hoping for ” coyote control” ends up with more coyotes than they started with.

    Ryan, you might want to study U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 nationwide survey of anglers, hunters and wildlife watchers, found here: http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/2006_Survey.htm

    Wildlife watchers, some 71,000,000, far out number anglers and hunters combined.

    And you’re right about *some* (not all) state’s wildlife management departments being funded largely by sportsmen. Our fledgling group, Wildlife Watchers, intends to create some very innovative funding sources for wildlife management departments. However, be aware that the Public Trust Doctrine does not require that any funds whatsoever be dedicated for resource management in order for a particular interest group to have a voice. However, it is the right thing to do.

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  23. avatar Ryan says:

    “Wildlife watchers, some 71,000,000, far out number anglers and hunters combined.”

    Nice editiorial work. Over 2/3rd of that number are people who just have bird feeders in there back yards.

    I am all for Coyote control, We removed 15 coyotes from winter and fawning range this year and the fawn crop survival has been very good in comparison to last year.

  24. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    You know what, Ryan, it doesn’t matter if a wildlife watcher spends 365 out and about with scopes and whatever or if a wildlife watcher is a sweet little old lady on a pension who enjoys watching black-capped chickadees in her back yard ~ all wildlife watchers have the right for their wildlife to be managed on behalf of all the citizens of a respective state and not just special interest groups. I say “their” wildlife because the wildlife of a state belongs to all the people of that state and not just hunters, anglers, outfitters and livestock producers.

    RE: coyote control ~ wolves are great coyote controllers…

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  25. avatar Jay says:

    Well Ryan, I did a rain dance last week and dadgummit did it pour like an S.O.B. last Tuesday!

    Did you think that maybe fawn “crop” (didn’t know we’re farming mammals now…where can I get some deer seed, I’d like to plant a few in my garden?) survival has other underlying factors, not withstanding your fine coyote plinkin’? What do you do with those coyotes? Leave them to rot?

  26. avatar Ryan says:

    Mack,
    “RE: coyote control ~ wolves are great coyote controllers…”

    So are .223’s… and they dont eat elk =).

    Jay,
    “What do you do with those coyotes? Leave them to rot?”

    We sell the hides if they are in good condition and feed the vultures.

    “Did you think that maybe fawn “crop” (didn’t know we’re farming mammals now…where can I get some deer seed, I’d like to plant a few in my garden?) survival has other underlying factors, not withstanding your fine coyote plinkin’?”

    Predation is a huge underlying factor in fawn and calf survival when populations are not at carrying capacity. For example, in a study (17 year duration) in Eastern Oregon, the elk calf birth rate is high, the calves are born healthy with the parents having a good forage base, but yet by the end of the season there are less than 20 calves for 100 cows, with predation accounting for more than 90% of the mortality.

  27. avatar Jay says:

    Ryan, hasn’t predation been around for, oh, about as long as there’s been predator and prey? Seems elk and deer have done pretty well for themselves, despite those nasty predators, huh? What do you consider yourself, Ryan? If you kill deer and elk, doesn’t that make you a predator? Which species of predator is more selective of the non-productive segment of the prey population, humans or bears/wolves/lions, prey tell?

  28. avatar Ryan says:

    I consider myself a top of the food chain predator, as such I like to limit my competition and mange for my prey species while keeping in the needs of other species. The three to four big game animals I take a year provide healthy meals for me and my family with the least amount of impact to the enviroment possible. Jay no predator is more selective of the non-productive segments of prey population. Lions and Bears tend to prey heavily on the young, wolves are rather indiscriminate with not a huge tendancy towards older animals (look at the northern elk herds age make up) and humans are not much better. Deer and elk do fine with predators in a pristine habitats. It needs to be noted that before the white man took up predator control, the natives did it before us. These areas have been gone for nearly a century in most of the west. Humans controlling wildfire, over grazing, and the rampant market hunting in the late 1800’s nearly decimated populations. Without state fish and game departments and hunters efforts there would be very few elk and deer left across the west as they were exterminated in most of there natural range.

  29. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Ryan, I hunt, and perhaps we could be considered “top of the food chain predators” but we have major advantages over our prey: we have bigger brains, opposable thumbs, and modern, high-powered rifles with scopes, just to name a few.

    Bears, lions, coyotes, wolves, etc., your competitors, as you describe them, have to rely on only their natural senses and their claws and fangs to kill their prey.

    To me, there’s no competition between us and nature’s predators: we’re far more efficient.

    And some, but not all of us are smart enough to willingly share.

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  30. avatar Dan Stebbins says:

    Ryan,

    Your claim that wolves are indiscriminate killers is absolutely untrue. I spent time tracking with the wolf project and none of the evidence we found supports your claim.

    Surveying wolf-killed elk carcasses and the research done in the Park indicates is that wolves generally take the old, the sick or injured, and the young. You can look that up on the YNP Wolf Project’s annual reports.

    Cow elk between the ages of 2-10 years old are rarely taken by wolves in YNP. As cow elk start getting older than 10 their predation rate by wolves goes up drastically.
    Bull elk between the ages of 2-7 are rarely taken by wolves as well. The majority of wolf killed elk are either calves, older, less productive cows, or older bulls.

    I suggest you take a look at any & all of the annual reports at this website:

    http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/wolves.htm

    Try Page 11 and 12, 2002 Annual Report… (this was the year I was involved in).
    Also if you look in any of the reports under the table of contents for “Composition of Wolf Kills”, you should find the statistics for that year.

    Frankly your insinuation that wolves are indiscriminate killers is not in any way backed up by any of the research done.

    In fact, studies have been done that indicate that the least discriminate hunters are generally humans.
    Now I am also a hunter, so don’t misunderstand me. I am not in ANYWAY making a point that human hunting is a negative.
    It’s just that studies have shown that human hunters generally take a fairly equal sampling of every age of animal.

    This is mainly due to the fact that we can’t generally tell by sight the nuances of an animal’s age or health.

  31. avatar Jay says:

    Ryan,

    You obviously don’t have much of a clue as to prey selection by predators–the fact is, wolves, and to a lesser extent lions and bears, are tremendously selective for younger/older indivuals and nutritionally compromised prey. Here’s the abstract (Wright et al., JWM, Vol 70-4) from a peer reviewed journal article with a HUGE sample size comparing wolves and hunters–read it and than tell me which group is more selective:
    “We compared selection of northern Yellowstone elk (Cervus elaphus) by hunters in the Gardiner Late Hunt and northern Yellowstone wolves (Canis lupus) with regard to sex, age, and impacts to recruitment. We compared harvest data from 1996–2001 with wolf-killed elk data from 1995–2001. We assessed the effects of hunting and wolf predation on reproductive female elk by constructing a life table and calculating reproductive values for females in the northern Yellowstone herd. We devised an index of total reproductive impact to measure impacts to calf
    production due to hunting and wolf predation. The age classes of female elk selected by wolves and hunters were significantly different. Hunters selected a large proportion of female elk with the greatest reproductive values, whereas wolves selected a large proportion of elk calves and
    older females with low reproductive values. The mean age of adult females killed by hunters throughout the study period was 6.5 years, whereas the mean age of adult females killed by wolves was 13.9 years. Hunting exerted a greater total reproductive impact on the herd than wolf
    predation. The combined effects of hunters killing prime-aged females (2–9 yr old), wolves killing calves, and predation by other predators has the potential to limit the elk population in the future. Yellowstone is unique in this regard because multiple predators that occur sympatrically,
    including hunters, wolves, grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), black bears (Ursus americanus), cougars (Felis concolor), and coyotes (Canis latrans), all prey on elk. Using an Adaptive Harvest Management process the known female elk harvest during the Gardiner Late Hunt has been reduced by 72% from 2,221 elk in 1997 to 620 elk in 2004. In the future, hunting harvest levels may be reduced further to partially offset elk losses to wolves, other predators, and environmental factors.”

  32. avatar Layton says:

    “In the future, hunting harvest levels may be reduced further to partially offset elk losses to wolves, other predators, and environmental factors.”

    And there, ladies and gentlemen is the suspected basis for the wolf introduction in the three state area!! And you STILL wonder why the “common” people are against the uncontrolled populations of an artificially introduced, apex predator??

    CMIYC

  33. avatar Ryan says:

    “Wolf Project staff detected 323 kills (definite, probable,
    and possible combined) made by wolves in 2007,
    including 272 elk (84%), 11 bison (3.4%), 7 wolves
    (2%), 4 deer (1%), 4 coyotes (1%), 3 moose (<1%), 2
    black bears (<1%), 1 pronghorn (<1%), 1 golden eagle
    (<1%), 1 red fox (<1%), 1 otter (<1%), and 16 unknown
    prey (5%) (Figure 4). The composition of elk kills was
    41% bulls, 21% calves (0–12 months), 16% cows (1–9
    years old), 12% old cows (≥10 years old), and 10% elk
    of unknown sex and/or age”

    Jay,

    Obiviously I do and am not some dumb uniformed hillbilly as you would hope. Last I checked Calf survival is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy herd. The gardnier hunt was specifically there to target breeding age females, and it did a good job of lowering the numbers, not that I really care as I heard that it was more of a shoot anyways. In the study posted above, wolves took more breeding age cows than old cows and are espicially hard on bulls, espicially mature bulls post rut. (You know the ones that ensure cows are bred in the first estrus and produce the healthiest calves)
    Other herds in Idaho are having the same issues of old age females and low (sub 100:20) cow to calf ratios that the northern herd has exipienced in years past (this year I read it was 100:24). Not that you really care about elk populations as much as hunters do from what I can guess.

    Dan,

    From everything I have read wolves tend to do a good job of taking up the animals that bears and cats leave out. In a study posted by Montana University researchers, constant wolf predation lowers reproductive rates, make elk less effective foragers, and leaves the elk weaker going into winter.

    “It appears that one effect of changed behavior is lower pregnancy rates, Creel said. Preliminary data from the Gallatin Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Madison Valley, Paradise Valley and Elkhorn show that elk pregnancy rates have declined where wolves are most active. The elk — especially females — spend less time eating and more time watching for predators when wolves are around.

    “They just say, ‛Today the job is to avoid being killed,'” Creel said. “So they’re probably not as efficient at foraging. That’s what Dave (Christianson) is studying now.”

    http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=3646

  34. avatar Jay says:

    Ryan,

    Therein lies the fundamental difference between you and I–whereas you seem to only care about wildlife you can shoot, I do care about elk (got elk meat in the freezer if you doubt my sincerity), as well as bears, lions, wolves, bluebirds, grouse…well, you get the picture. As for the information you cite, that was written by Doug Smith, who is coauthor of the paper abstract I posted. So, obviously he was signed on to the information presented therein. YOu can’t really compare one year of data to 6-7 years of compiled data, can you?

  35. avatar Ryan says:

    Jay,

    I have been to hiking in almost every national park in the western US, been to Katmai to specifically watch bears and other wildlife, etc. I don’t hate Apex predators by a long shot, but on the same hand I am unwilling to forgoe my opportunity to hunt to support unregulated predator populations. What has polarized many sportsmen against unregulated wolf populations is the wolf supporters to be completely honest. True or not, many feel that wolves are a means to end hunting in the west.

  36. avatar JB says:

    Ryan said: “I am unwilling to forgoe my opportunity to hunt to support unregulated predator populations.”

    Mark these words: they are the mantra of anti-predator groups such as the so-called “sportsmen” for fish and wildlife. Their are two underlying assumptions, both are false: (1) that wolves, bears, and other predators are not controlled/managed (2) that unless they are heavily “managed” (i.e. killed) they will eat all of the game available to “sportsmen”.

    Wolves co-exist with all kinds of ungulates and very little (or no) human control in places like Ellesmere Island (Musk Oxen), Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan (White-tailed deer), and Isle Royal (Moose), and in some places in Alaska and Canada. Yet the ungulate populations have persisted and thrived. Furthermore, the claim that wolf populations are “unregulated” (i.e. uncontrolled) in the west is also false. From the 2007 northern rocky mountain wolf report:

    “Of the 102 documented mortalities, 72% (n=73 wolves) were killed to address livestock related conflicts. The remaining 28% (n=29 wolves) died due illegal / suspected illegal killing, legal harvest in Canada, incidental trapping/snaring, natural, unknown, car/train, and incidental to management or euthanasia for poor health.” Folks, that means that at minimum, roughly 3/4 of all wolf mortalities in the NRM population are human-caused. Again, note that in places like Isle Royal there is no human mortality and yet moose persist.

    The claims that wolves are eating all the elk are simply fear-mongering. Wolves will take some elk, deer, moose, and even antelope. In some years and in some places they may even significantly impact ungulate populations (and “hunters” might actually have to get off their ATVs before they shoot). The fundamental question is this: do you want wolves managed for a sustainable population or do you want wolf populations marginalized and minimized for the benefit of a few lazy “hunters”?

  37. avatar Heather says:

    just got back from a long trip to OR (my brother died- he was 35. A good true, wild spirit) Wanted to check in and see what is going on here on this cite, and as usual the same dumb, polarized comments from RYan, Layton and others. You guys really need to analyze your writing here – it comes across as very very naive….
    The best news i’ve had this summer is that wolves are back on the Endangered species list. It is my one bright spot. Long live the wild and free.

  38. avatar Catbestland says:

    Heather,

    Sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like you and your brother were close. Welcome back.

  39. avatar Ryan says:

    JB,
    There are more deer in Minnesota and Mighican, than total elk in the west. If the wolf take of ungulates in Oregon matched the take of deer in MI, there would be no elk in 2 years and no deer in 5. Wolves on Ellsworth island are hunted by the native inuits. In AK and most of Canada wolve populations are very controlled by both hunters, trappers, and state agencies.

    If you knew anything about most hunters (atleast the ones I choose to associate with, besides your misguided sterotypes, probably similar to my bongo beating liberal know it all sterotype of you) You’d never see a quad in our camp and be damn lucky to see me hunting anywhere near an open road. That being said, your attitude is exactly why pro wolf groups have alienated other conservation groups that would be valuable assets in the fight to conserve the west. The other great fallacy is that by controlling populations they will crash, in AK and Canada they have very liberal bag limits, yet wolves have still flouished.

  40. avatar Chuck says:

    Ok tell me this Ryan, were the wolves up in Canada or Alaska ever completely erradicated like down here in Idaho??? If not then they have had plenty of time to reproduce. So the way I understand your attitude is that we should have the same type of libral hunting seasons down here where the wolves have not had a chance to get settled in. The bottom line is its greed, the big game hunters are affraid the wolves are going to take all their elk and I use the term (their elk losely). My wife and I are big game hunters and do not mind sharing the deer and elk with the wolves, bears and cougars. After all they were here first.

  41. avatar JB says:

    Ryan:

    I note that you neatly avoid the Isle Royal example and avoid the THOUSANDS OF YEARS in which wolves and native ungulates coexisted and coevolved without constant human intervention. Both point to wolves and ungulates being able to sustain themselves without the need for heavy-handed human “control”.

    (1) Yes, wolves are hunted and trapped in some areas of Canada and Alaska. They are not trapped and hunted in others (e.g Denali NP). Yet they persist pretty much everywhere, suggesting again that claims that hunting and trapping are “needed” are specious. They also support your claim that hunting and trapping will not lead to wolf eradication. However, I never suggested this and have supported a hunting season from the very beginning–as long as the goal is a sustainable population of wolves. That was not the intent of Wyoming’s plan, which was about wolf eradication, plain and simple. It would’ve turned Yellowstone and a few surrounding areas into a wilderness zoo for a few isolated wolves.

    (2) Ryan, I know a lot about hunters and occasionally hunt myself. My comments were in no way meant to generalize to all hunters (you’ll note that I used quotes around the word “hunters” above, as in “for the benefit of a few lazy ‘hunters’.” My comments were meant to generalize to those few hunters who feel the need to have their competition eliminated so that they can have easier access to semi-domesticated game. In my view, this is not sporting, its lazy.

    (3) As to the “kill” rate in Michigan. I’m sure that you realize these rates vary over time? By the way, how many wolves have you got in Oregon? A half dozen? I don’t think your elk population is in jeopardy. (Note, last time I checked, Michigan had over 2 million white-tail deer which cause hundreds of millions in damages and about a half-dozen deaths every year. Managers there would love it if wolves could actually reduce WT populations).

    (4) Finally, you asserted that my attitude “…is exactly why pro wolf groups have alienated other conservation groups that would be valuable assets in the fight to conserve the west.” Which groups have been alienated? SFW? FOTNYEH? Look, my position (again from the very beginning) has been in support of a wolf hunting season. My “attitude” is the product of listening to the same, tired tirades by greedy “sportsmen” who believe that all of the wildlife in the West belongs to them. These “sportsmen” cherry-pick numbers to claim that the sky is falling and wolves will eat us out of house and home. Despite all scientific and common sense claims to the contrary, they continue fear-mongering, pushing their anti-predator agenda to serve their own greedy purpose: more elk for me and mine. Frankly, I’m tired of it. Tired of the same half-baked arguments, the same bullsh*t rhetoric, the attitude that game belongs to and should be managed exclusively for their interests.

    They burned the bridge, not I.

  42. avatar Ryan says:

    1) Sorry I avoided Isle Royale, 1st of all there is only 1 predator on island royale . Second there numbers have been controlled by disease, and the biggest factor is IMHO its a pristine ecosystem with little human interference. Wolves are trapped all around Denali and actually hunted in the recent addition to the park under subsistence permits only the monument part is not availiable to hunting from what I last remember. (BTW) The caribou herd has tanked in Denali.
    “Studies from the late 1970’s indicated that early calf survival was very poor even though adult cows were in good condition and had adequate food resources. Predation on young calves was thought to be a major factor in the population decline.”
    http://www.nps.gov/dena/naturescience/caribou.htm

    Wyoming set the boundries of where it wanted wolves and it didn’t I am sure the plan wording will be changed from “OR” to “And” and it should be approved.

    2. Competition controlled and competition eliminated are to completely different things. Atleast in Oregon, the populations are already no bueno and a 300 animal net loss per year in many units would end hunting.

    3. I am concerned at the start of the problem, 6 is no big deal.. 600 is considering the shape of the elk herds in the area they are coming into. If you read the Mighican, MI, or WI dnr population stat sheets on animal densities, the ares where wolves are present have low populations and the overpopulated ares are agricultural areas that wont support wolf populations.

    4. REMF, OHA, SCI, and has caused almost all of the sportsmen I know to stop supporting sierra club and others. I personally like what SFW has done for big game populations in UTAH and other states.

    Chuck,

    They couldn’t eliminate all of the predators if they wanted too. Wolves are here to stay, I grew up in Alaska and have spent more time in wolf country and around wolves than many on this board there a neat critter, like black bears and cougars but there numbers need to be controlled to benefit all user groups, not just one in particular.

  43. avatar JB says:

    [sigh] The fundamental point is that wolves and the species they prey on co-evolved for tens of thousands of years with little or no human control–certainly not the use of poisons, high-powered rifles, modern traps, and helicopters. And yes, there were numerous other predators (e.g. bears and cougars) in the mix as well. Nature does a damn good job of maintaining a balance between predator and prey without human intervention.

    You can’t dismiss the Isle Royal example based on a one-predator one prey species logic-the same is true for wolves and musk oxen on Ellesmere Island (which, by the way, is twice the size of Wyoming and has a human population of ~150, which sort of kills your argument that they are heavily controlled by the Inuit). On the multiple predator argument: in the Midwest we have black bear, coyote, and wolves and only one major ungulate, WT deer.
    You’re correct about wolf/deer densities in the Midwest. Of course, deer densities have always been much lower in the heavily forested, northern areas than in the southern, agricultural regions. I suspect wolves will increasingly use these areas, though they will probably always be marginal habitat because of high road density/human use.

    We will see about the Wyoming plan. I hope you are right.

    You said: “…the[y’re] a neat critter, like black bears and cougars but their numbers need to be controlled to benefit all user groups, not just one in particular.”

    Wolf numbers ARE controlled, though I would much rather see this done through hunting (via a trophy game status) then via Wildlife Services. I would agree that wolf management needs to benefit multiple stakeholders instead of just ranchers and SOME hunters.

  44. avatar Heather says:

    Thanks Cat, puts a lot of things in perspective. like the value of keeping the wild wolf, and other wild predators. keeping them because they belong, rather than eradicating. It really isnt up to homo sapiens to decide on eradication of a species that has been thousands of years. and no the Dire Wolf (prehistoric wolf) is not fiction.

  45. avatar Dan Stebbins says:

    Ryan,

    I can’t agree with you that wolves take “the animals that bears and cats leave out”. Basically natural predators tend to take the sick, young, weak, or old. The carcasses I surveyed with the Wolf Project were absolutely in line with that.

    In the 2004 annual report, there is a graph (page 12) where they outlined the different age & sex of the wolf-killed elk from 1995 through 2004. Over that time period, 38% were calves, 13% young cows, 23% old cows (10+), and 26% bulls.

    As for your mention of the University of Montana studies regarding elk grazing habits & reproductive rates I have read over those (albeit briefly) and they’re fascinating. Although I have to admit they also make perfect sense to me. I can easily see how wolves could effect elk grazing & reproductive habits.

    I guess what I don’t see is where that is a major problem. The elk living in the period without wolves in the ecosystem took advantage of the loss of that major predator. They tended to overgraze & browse certain types of vegetation. The elk populations were so blown out of proportion that the northern range herd was subjected to annual “Late” or “Bonus” hunts of over 3,000 tags!
    Those hunts were specifically designed to cull that herd because it was absolutely out of control.

    Now on one level, hunting an overblown herd is wonderful because it means unheard of opportunity. However, hunters should also be interested in healthy, balanced, local ecology. In which case an overblown herd is definitely not good.

    I hunt, but I will admit that human hunting is not really a quality substitute for natural predation. It helps drop overall numbers, but numbers alone don’t necessarily indicate a healthy population. Humans don’t take mostly sick, weak, young, or old. We take a fairly average cross-section of the population. This is because we generally can’t tell the age/health of an animal by sight or hunting style (like testing a herd like a natural predator). So much of our hunting is based on simple random chance.

    Now I believe that wolves should be currently under state control & that the populations should be managed for sustainable balanced numbers. As I have understood it, that has always been the ultimate goal. I believe that the major reason that they are not has more to do with the overall 19th century attitude coming out of Wyoming than anything else.

    However, the longer we take to get to that, the worse off we are going to be & the more people will listen to alarmists & extremists like Fanning, Gillette, or even some of the stuff coming from the SFW people.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but absolutely on no level do I see the reintroduction of wolves as a way to “end hunting”.
    In my opinion as hunters, what we need to realize is that natural predation is important & necessary. Somewhere we need to strike a balance between human hunting & natural predation.

  46. avatar Ryan says:

    Dan,
    Above I qouted the 2007 report on prey.

    “However, the longer we take to get to that, the worse off we are going to be & the more people will listen to alarmists & extremists like Fanning, Gillette, or even some of the stuff coming from the SFW people. ”

    I am not sure how it can get much worse, in working on fish issues, Specifically Salmon and steelhead policies and restoration, the issues are extremely polarizing but pale in compaison to the polarization that wolves bring out in people. The “big bad wolf” tends to bring out he worst in all of us. On both sides of the equation there is little look at the othersides concerns and borederline hatred for the opposition.

  47. avatar Dan Stebbins says:

    Ryan,

    I see you quoted the ’07 prey report. If you are somehow saying that wolves are taking a majority of younger cows because of the results of one single year, then I would say you need to look at the findings of the Wolf Project over the long haul. Short term scientific data can always be misleading. The longer term data that is recorded, the better off you are in getting an idea of what is going on.

    That’s why I quoted the numbers over the first 9-10 years in the ’04 report.

    Now I agree wholeheartedly with you that wolves are very polarizing. Ultimately there needs to be some type of compromise here, & it’s doesn’t seem like either side is willing to do that.

    Wolf advocates I think need to realize & accept that there needs to be some type of control or hunting season.

    On the other hand, hunters need to also realize the importance of natural predation in regards to a healthy ecosystem. Hunting predator-free & overpopulated herds is not in the best interests of any ecosystem.

    Ranchers need to understand that American public land system does not exist solely to provide them with cheap, predator-free grazing land. Their livestock can (& does) severely impact our wild lands.
    Grazing their livestock on public lands is a privilege & not a right. They need to realize that their livestock should not take precedence over any wildlife species on public lands.

  48. avatar Ryan says:

    “On the other hand, hunters need to also realize the importance of natural predation in regards to a healthy ecosystem. Hunting predator-free & overpopulated herds is not in the best interests of any ecosystem.”

    To my knowledge prior to wolf reintroduction there were no predator free herds in existence in the US anyways.

  49. avatar Dan Stebbins says:

    Ryan,

    You’re right there aren’t probably any purely predator-free herds. What I was referring to when I said “predator-free” is more along the lines of this attitude by some that predators don’t belong in the ecosystem.

    This is ridiculous in my opinion. Many people I hunt with recognize the need for natural predation, however there are those people out there that seem to want nothing but heavy predator control mixed with hugely overpopulated herds that they can themselves benefit from.

    For example outfitters from the Gardiner area. They continue to perpetuate this myth that the historic northern range elk high of 19 or 20,000 was the ideal population number. They seem to think that predation on that elk herd is an unacceptable thing. I guess as long as they can charge high fees for guided hunts for all those extra tags then everything is great, right?
    The heck with the environmental concerns of having an over blown elk population.

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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."

~ Edward Abbey

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