Warning wasn’t needed in the past because presence of wolves was unknown-

North Cascade signs warn hunters not to shoot wolves. AP. Seattle Times. “With deer hunting season opening Saturday, the state is putting up signs in the Methow Valley to warn hunters that federally protected wolves may be in the area and should not be killed.”

Folks may recall that the first verified wolf pack in Washington State was found this year near Twisp. It is closely monitored. There may be other wolves in NE Washington.

 
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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.

42 Responses to For the first time North Cascade signs warn hunters not to shoot wolves

  1. avatar Jon Way says:

    “Coyotes can be hunted all year, but the wolves are listed as an endangered species in Washington.”
    In my opinion, that is a pathetic example of wildlife management that coyotes can be hunted all year long. Pathetic.

  2. avatar Save bears says:

    Well it is pretty much “pathetic” all over the country then, coyotes are a pretty prolific animal, and I believe they need to be managed aggressively, but I am not in favor of the free for all that currently exists.

    Jon, what would your solution to the extremely high population of coyotes around the country?

    Just curious.

  3. avatar Jon Way says:

    Save bears,
    b.c they are prolific you think they need to be managed aggressively. Then why do they self regulate themselves in national parks where they are not hunted.
    My solution is to treat them like any other wild animal. Leave your cat inside, leash your dog, guard your cattle. They are territorial, they will regulate their own numbers. To think that they have to be “managed” is a European belief that we have to have dominion over every other living thing. The species is a million years old, and they did fine without “control” for all but the last 200-300 years.
    So, my solution: get a straw and suck it up and let them be. They will work it out
    PS – I captured and radio-collared 4 in my back yard on the Cape. Our cat was inside and they are doing fine, part of 3 social groups that guard mutually exclusive territories.

  4. avatar Save bears says:

    Jon,

    I happen to be a biologist, so I was just curious, based on various studies I have been involved with both while working for FWP as well as independent capacities..I can tell you for a fact, self regulation in this day and age, is a lofty goal, but the only way it would be successful, is to remove the human element from the landscape, as it was a few hundred years ago, before populations started expanding into the wildlife habitats around this country. By the way, the self regulation in the parks, is not so well understood, which is why there is several studies and collared coyotes in Yellowstone now a days.

    Because I have a different opinion than you, you seemed to take a pretty aggressive stance against my question. I hope I am reading that wrong, because, I actually use web sites like this to contribute to the opinions and such I formulate for various entities..

  5. avatar Jon Way says:

    Save Bears,
    it is what it is. I think it is unfortunate that state wildlife dept. get their money basically exclusively from hunters dollars and therefore (I am not saying you in this case) think that human management is the main solution to everything. My radio-collared coyotes that live in more urban areas actually live longer lives than more rural ones. That doesn’t mean that they need to be controlled more, it just means that they live longer, fuller lives, and keep other coyotes off their territory.
    The work in Yellowstone has taken place for about 20 years on coyotes. A long time. The researchers effectively saw natural regulation until gray wolves were restored. Even with humans around, coyotes will naturally regulate themselves.

  6. avatar outsider says:

    yes they will also eat sage chickens, their eggs, newborn deer and antelope, desert tortoise, and just about anything that they can find. They have a place in our ecosystem as garbage collectors but they also need to be kept in check or they will start causing real damage.

  7. avatar Bonnie Kelly says:

    I don’t claim to be an expert, I just have a lot of years experience observing animals, both wild and domestic. I think both Jon Way and Savebears make some valid points. In a restricted territory, I think coyotes would be self regulating, but they are also an extremely adaptable animal. The numbers of urban coyotes tells us that. So, we have to do something to keep them from becoming so completely comfortable around humans that they become a danger. I don’t mean a pack of them is going to start attacking people, but if they start regarding a backyard as their territory, they may try to defend it. On the other hand, I do think that we should allow nature to take it’s course both on public lands and private (where possible). I seem to recall an article posted on this very website about a Montana rancher that doesn’t believe in killing coyotes because he says that when the family groups are allowed to establish their territories without disruption, they know where to find food without attacking his livestock and will defend those territories from other coyotes.

    Granted, these coyotes are predators, which means that they will kill sagehens, grouse, pheasants, and any other birds they can catch, as well as their eggs. They will also take deer and antelope fawns. In a lot of America, I’m not sure we can’t afford to loose a few more deer to coyotes. They will also kill some of those feral cats that everybody is so up in arms about. Isn’t that what Darwinism is all about, survival of the fittest?

    Will they overrun the country? I doubt it. Even though they have few natural predators in most of the country, they still have to contend with man and his activities and as they become established in territory, I think their recruitment levels will drop to maintain a status quo.

    This is just my opinion, so I’d love to see some documentation to either prove or disprove my theories.

  8. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    So, I take it that Save Bears believes that the coyote requires aggressive management…..does this also apply to the wolves?

    And, if not, what is the distinction between the 2?

    There exists in every closed biological system inherent limits on wildlife populations.

    Why would the coyote be above these environmental constraints?

    And how can any reasonable person believe that these constraints don’t apply to coyotes, but do apply to wolf populations?

    If coyotes require aggressive human management, which actually means killing or slaughter, of course, why doesn’t the wolf?

    Then why all the complaints on here about Alaska’s aerial hunting and killing of wolves to protect other wildlife populations?

    You can’t have it both ways.

  9. avatar Save bears says:

    SmokyMtMan,

    I am talking from a pure biological standpoint based on population numbers that are current.

    You people try to read FAR to much into a statement, than is really there.

    I am not for free for all slaughter of Coyotes, as am I am not for slaughter of the wolves, and have vigorously fought against the Wyoming Wolf Management plan.

    From a biological standpoint and impact, there is quite a distinction between the two canids.

    Coyotes are quite prolific even in the presence of man, and wolves are not.

    By the way, I am also fighting against the aerial hunting of wildlife in the state of Alaska.

    Don’t assume you know how I feel or what my purpose is.

  10. avatar Barb says:

    Wolves used to keep coyote populations in check. Everything is off balance now.

  11. avatar catbestland says:

    Barb,

    That is exactly what I was going to say. Introduce more wolves and you will have less of a coyote problem.

  12. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Save Bears said “Don’t assume you know how I feel or what my purpose is.”

    When did I do that?

    I asked questions, did they upset you, or what?

    And wolves are quite plentiful in Alaska, are they not?

    Save Bears said “I am not for free for all slaughter of Coyotes.”

    Who said you were? You are responding to allegations that do not exist, man.

    Your own words: “I believe they (coyotes) need to be managed aggressively.”

    I responded to that sentence in your post, that’s all.

    And you did not answer why coyotes supposedly require “aggressive management” but wolves do not require the same aggressive control measures where they are very common.

    I would love to hear the reason(s) coyotes lack natural population regulation while wolves do not.

  13. avatar Save bears says:

    SmokyMtMan,

    Your talking two entirely different species with their own population dynamics and reproductive capabilities as well as environmental sensitivities.

    No, you questions did not make me mad, but just demonstrated some of the mis-understandings that happen.

    I believe that wolves require a completely different management plan based on populations, environmental considerations and sensitivity to human populations.

    I never said, coyotes lack natural population regulation, what I said, is they are a far more prolific species with far more tolerance to human encroachment than wolves are.

    I have no desire to see any species wiped out or extinct, especially in favor of ranchers and livestock..

    But I also understand at this point in time, there has to be some compromise for anything to work.

    As far as the Alaskan population of wolves, that has no bearing on the lower 48 population of wolves, I look at Alaska in a completely different light than I do in the lower 48.

    How many wolves do we have in the lower 48? somewhere around 2000, now how many coyotes do we have in the lower 48? at last count give or take, I have heard estimates of over 1 million, one is an endangered species, one is not, I believe that coyotes, should be treated as a game animal and managed as such, I don’t believe in the free for all that currently exists when it comes to coyotes, as I did not for the short amount of time wolves were de-listed.

    You can ever hope to treat them the same, and yes, I know wolves reduce coyote numbers, but there is never going to be a time that there is enough wolves to control coyote populations, except in small population clusters in the lower 48..

    Take my opinion, just as it is, MY OPINION based on the official studies I have worked..I am not against either species or for that matter any species.

  14. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Save Bears said “that has no bearing on the lower 48 population of wolves, I look at Alaska in a completely different light than I do in the lower 48.”

    I never brought up the lower 48 at all. Not once, and for very good reasons. The lower 48 is completely irrelevant to my point.

    Yet, you use the lower 48 in half your response to me. This is obfuscation of the central question.

    I used Alaska specifically and solely for the simple reason that wolves are not endangered there, and can be fairly compared to coyotes in that context.

    In the lower 48, wolves are endangered, so any comparison between the 2 species there is unrealistic and quite inappropriate in this conversation.

    Save Bears, you also asked “Jon, what would your solution to the extremely high population of coyotes around the country?”

    I am curious as to what the evidence is that coyote populations are currently “extremely high”, and why this would constitute a danger that requires wholesale government killing of them?

    Why would you believe that coyotes require “aggressive management”? Because they are very plentiful and enjoy a wide range? In that case, I can list many other species of U.S. mammals that desperately require “aggressive management” by government agencies as well.

  15. avatar Save bears says:

    I am not talking about Alaska, as this original article was about the state of WA, I don’t work for wildlife service and I don’t agree with what they do.

    This subject was about the State of WA and their warning not to shoot wolves and coyotes can be hunted year around.

    So you and I are talking about two entirely different subjects.

    I have stated my opinion, and now am through with this subject.

  16. avatar Save bears says:

    I never said aggressive management by government agencies, I feel there should be hunting seasons on coyote’s just as with most game animals, I don’t believe in classifying animals in such as way as any yahoo with a gun can start blasting away.

    Sorry, just had to add that small bit more.

  17. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    it seems to me that the suggestion for a need to control is purely to facilitate human wants – mostly the want to be negligent with regard to our own interests and not be bothered with being aware of the outside world.

    Jon is right – keep kitty inside if you’re going to complain about the natural world being the natural world.

  18. avatar Barb says:

    I have put this on all my e-mails —

    “The root problem in the relationship between humans and nature is our pathological drive to domesticate the land and to destroy those wild animals that do not accept our overlordship.” — Dave Foreman, president of The Rewildling Institute.

    Of course, some want to completely overpower; others are trying to live in harmony.

  19. avatar John says:

    The coyote population is so high because of the decimation of their primary predator. I agree wholeheartedly with Brian.

  20. Coyotes are so numerous because they are very well adapted to the ecosystems that exist at the current time.

    They fill a niche very well. Were it not so they would be struggling, or at least not expanding their range.

    The reasons why they fill a niche so well, I argue, is mostly due to changes made by humans, including the heavy mortality imposed on them, which only reduces their numbers locally and for a brief time. In the end, they adapt, and more.

  21. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    The coyote has adapted so well to man primarily due to it’s ability to eat anything that another mammal can eat. This ability to eat almost anything is legendary, and along with the demise of the wolf, has fueled it’s rapid population growth and entrance into habitats where it has been historically absent.

    The success of the coyote is that much more remarkable when you consider the war our state and Federal agencies have waged upon it in the name of agriculture and livestock.

    It is the most persecuted and wantonly slaughtered mammal today, isn’t it?

    And, for some, this war against the coyote still isn’t sufficient. The only reason the coyote is so persecuted, and labeled as a nuisance animal in many areas, is due to the fact humans would rather slaughter this animal than to tolerate it’s affects upon agriculture and the livestock industry.

    There are no laws regulating the hunting of coyotes. That is a shame on us all.

    Also, as you kill coyotes, it’s response is to breed earlier and more often. Predator control programs for the coyote have NEVER worked, despite millions per year being spent on them.

  22. avatar John says:

    Humans are wasteful animals, providing abundant food for scavengers – such as the coyote – in urban environments. Their role in towns quickly becomes somewhat of the waste disposal unit. Good for keeping rats and other rodents at bay.

    In the wilderness, however, they may fill a few gaps left in to the absence of grey wolves Ralph, but a meso-predator can never be expected to perform the role of an apex predator.

    …How on earth did the topic change so quickly from wolves not being shot to coyotes being shot (not to sound callous or anything)?

  23. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Back to hunting in Washington State. . I hope they put up some signs to keep hunters from shooting people. . I just came in from the woods and there was almost a traffic jam headed out there to camp tonight so they can be up shooting at first light. Time to put in the cats and pets and farm animals . .not because an animal will eat them but that you might find them full of lead. Now, before you write back to me on what an anti-hunting post this is . . this is the opening of modern firearms and I can’t help but tell it like it is. . the bow hunters did a great job this year . . no garbage, no one killed no messes left in camps and I hope in these economic times they all filled their freezers, but tomorrow will be a zoo out there. The coyote I almost saw this afternoon was wise enough not to let me see him even though he was just a minute ahead of me. The tracks were so fresh that even though it was snowing there were no snow flakes in the crisp new tracks. I hope he makes it through the next week.

  24. avatar John says:

    I wouldn’t put it past some people.
    In Miles (a town in western Queensland), some ‘feral’ dogs still have noticeable ring marks from collars.

  25. avatar Jon Way says:

    Save Bears,
    Sorry I am just getting back to internet access after a night and morning of field work. I do want to apologize if I sounded harsh in my 1st/2nd post. It wasn’t directed at you, but to the system.
    I mostly agree with SmokyMtMan on all his posts. While Save Bears is right that coyotes and wolves are different species they aren’t quite as different as many make them out to be. Wolves are actually quite prolific too and in some areas (like northern Minnesota) they could survive a year round hunting season similar to coyotes throughout their range (mostly)….
    However, I agree with Smoky in that wolves are abundant in Alaska. Now I don’t agree with the aerial slaughter that takes place up there thanks to Palin et al, but lets quickly look at the facts. Roughly 250 wolves have been killed per year up there with private planes doing the killing. However, nearly 30,000 coyotes are aerial killed in the lower 48 using public tax paying dollars. We spend more than the actual damage they cause. Couple that with a coyotes behavior to increase reproduction following control actions, I am making the argument that we shouldn’t be worried about aggressive control yet how to prevent interactions from occuring. These animals are just as social and family loving as wolves are (although they live in smaller social groups) and my argument is that “Joe-6 pack” as Palin would say, shouldn’t be able to kill them just to kill them.
    Hopefully this clears the air and ends the discussion and clears any mis-intentions on my original posts.

  26. avatar Jon Way says:

    A follow up to the above post… wolves are quite prolific, but certainly not so as coyotes and we are seeing the effects of unlimited hunting on them in open states like Wyoming.

  27. avatar vicki says:

    Coyotes and their management is largely due to their aility to effect their numbers by breeding and litter sizes. They effect their own reproduction in direct response to their environment, mainly food sources.
    Coyotes doing that discredits a need for any protection for them, it makes them (to many-not me necessarily) appear able to over-come odds.
    The times we have seen notable decline of species has been when poisons and traps have been prevelant.
    I don’t see the problem so much that they effect livestock ( they are more likely to eat your poodle than your cow), I see it as they have become conditioned to have less fear of man than many other species.
    Raccoons and foxes are very similar to the coyote in it’s adaptability. But coyotes are far more easily found, because they are less nocturnal in nature. (Just based on my experience.) They are hunted more because we SEE them more, and it is less of an inconvenience to humans to hunt what they can easily find.
    Coyotes are often found in headlines and on the news because they approach humans, bite the, snatch food from them, and attack their pets in plain sight. That creates fear of them, and villanizes them….like rattle snakes, grizzly bears, and wolves.
    Let us keep in mind that there would be the same unregulated hunt of wolves in Wyoming, save for wolves low numbers. Why is hunting wolves different? Because legislation says so, and that is all. Once their numbers have reached the level deemed appropriate, expect them same hunting of wolves.
    Is it good to post signs? Well, about as much good as it is to tell people not to trespass…..it is only effective to those who observe the law.
    What posting signs does help with is proving deliberation when a wolf is poached…but even that is a stretch.

    Aerial hunting is wrong. Calling it hunting is a lie. Without the element of chance or escape, it is not hunting.

  28. avatar vicki says:

    I forgot to mention that coyotes decline when their is plague and drought, because their prey base does.

  29. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Vicki said: “They (coyotes) effect their own reproduction in direct response to their environment, mainly food sources.”

    Also, as you kill coyotes randomly and wantonly, like many other species, their biological response is to breed earlier and more often. And coyotes live in social packs like wolves, with only the alpha pair breeding.

    However, when the alpha female is killed, often many other females in the group will then breed, increasing the population much quicker than it would have.

    So, many factors affect the population of coyotes, although Vicki is completely correct to say coyotes are limited by their food base.

    But this food base is not limited to rodents. Hardly. Here is the list of coyote food sources from my National Audubon mammal guide:

    Rabbits, mice, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, and other small mammals, birds, frogs, toads, snakes and other reptiles, insects, fruit, carrion, plants. They also eat deer, crustaceans, and grasses.

    Basically, the coyote can eat almost anything, just like your dog. This ability to consume such a wide range of foods makes the coyote one of the most adaptable mammals in America.

    And explains why we now find it practically everywhere regardless of the war we wage against the poor fellow.

  30. Except for certain situations such as very high value livestock or endangered species in restricted geographic areas, coyote control is not cost-effective because of what SmokyMtMan wrote above.

    We must admit, however, that much of the killing is psychological matter to the person who kills it (and, of course, for Wildlife Services, it is an economic benefit — job).

  31. avatar vicki says:

    Ralph,
    I agree. It is a psychological. In the minds of most who shoot coyotes, they are of little value. So their numbers of them that die, or live, are also of little consequence.

  32. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Good points, Ralph. I think it’s prudent to support the coyote removal programs at the Alligator national Wildlife Refuge in NC where the endangered Red Wolf is threatened by coyote inbreeding and competition for food sources, for instance.

    And concerning economic benefits, once government has created a job, it is often quite difficult to eliminate it. I wonder how much money is spent each year in the U.S. killing coyotes?

    I am sure that money lines many pockets.

  33. avatar Jon Way says:

    Hi agree with Vicki and Ralph’s comments of essentially phsychological effects (not practical) of killing coyotes. I find it moral repugnant that anyone would need to kill anything for phsychological gain. For that reason alone, I think there should be restrictions on killing a social, intelligent species like the coyote/wolf since there is little effect on its populationn status. It is inexcusable to allow the random slaughter of them for someone’s personal gain and I hope to work with others to create a national canid protection act to reflect that – especially on our public lands.

  34. avatar Save bears says:

    Although, I know it rubs many the wrong way, but there is actually a very good market for coyote pelts in the fur market, it is used in a wide variety of products, including of course fur jackets and such..I have seen prime fur/hides sell for $125 each in many stores in Montana and Wyoming…

    THAT SAID, please don’t think that means I condone the fur trade, I am not in favor of the fur trade and believe its day has past..but just posting an observation I have made around the rocky mountain states.

  35. avatar vicki says:

    Actually, I doubt coyote hunting pads much of the government’s pockets. They fall into vermin category, and as such require only that you posses a small game license. (Atleast in the states I am awarre of.) That gets spread far and wide….small game consists of water fowl, rabbit, and many more species.
    I do believe you can shoot them without a licenseon your own property.
    They are not likely the primary species people purchse a license to hunt.
    I know little about the cost of licenses to poison them though. That is a horrific way to die, and effects every scavenger or bug that feeds on the coyote once it dies.
    Trapping is equally extreme, often injuring or crippling an animal and leaving them to suffer and die, or struggle to survive as a mamed animal.
    You see signs about coyotes too. They say more like “Danger, Coyotes have been known to bite humans” and “Do not feed the wildlife” with their pictire crossed out with a big red line!
    Signs have come to be a symbol of what is wrong, and usually come about after a problem has been a proble for quite some time. They rarely reflectthe human factor involved….and hardly help any species, even wolves.

  36. avatar Save bears says:

    I know in Montana a lic is not required to hunt coyotes, any dufus with a gun can shoot them at any time of the year, I have not hunted in WA for many years, but it used to be that way in WA as well…

  37. avatar catbestland says:

    Coyotes eat the heck out of Juniper berries too.

  38. avatar Barb says:

    Save Bears, what really strikes me quite hypocritically is how some Aspen folks are often members of PETA yet they wear these expensive fur coats or coats with fur collars, leather shoes, etc. Pam Anderson recently said she didn’t know her sheepskin boots were from sheepskin.

  39. avatar Barb says:

    As far as coyote “predator control” WildEarth Guardians is advocating for the removal of all lethal predator programs as carried out by Wildlife Services.

    I hope they’re successful…. It’s a criminal like activity, using tax money to destroy native wildlife. They even kill coyotes in some areas in ADVANCE of “calving season.”

  40. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Vicki said: “Actually, I doubt coyote hunting pads much of the government’s pockets.”

    I meant it the other way around. The millions of dollars the states and governments spend on killing coyotes goes into a lot of civilian pockets.

    Like hunters, game and fish employees, trappers, the pilots, etc.

    All that money goes somewhere.

  41. avatar vicki says:

    SmokyMtMan,
    Very true!

  42. avatar atlas says:

    cattle ranchers should have learned how to protected the cattle a hundred years ago instead there still blasting bullets a wolves

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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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