Primary causes are warming, lack of shade and poor nutrition-

It’s obvious to anyone who has spent years living in or visiting Jackson Hole that the moose population isn’t what it was 30 years ago or even a decade. Now biologists are discovering why. Unfortunately for those who want more moose around little can be done to change any of the primary conditions that are causing the decline.

Moose on the decline in Jackson Hole area. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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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.

11 Responses to Research shows continuing decline of moose in Jackson Hole

  1. avatar Elkchaser says:

    Pretty biased article to only have one small blip about predators.

  2. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Yup, it must be biased because, as we all know, those predators must be the main cause of any declines in ungulate populations.

  3. Most people are not aware how greatly the fires of 1988 opened up (removed the trees) from the immense backcountry/wilderness at the north end of Jackson Hole. Road travelers don’t notice it because the fire stopped before it burned it all. A narrow band of unburned forest blocks the view.

    This land, mostly in the Teton Wilderness (don’t confuse with the Teton Mountain Range), went from thick forest with cool meadows to miles and miles of burned trees.

    The fires that swept the Teton Wilderness burned forests that were mostly different from the lodgepole pine of Yellowstone Park.

    These was a land of spruce and fir, ideal for moose. Unlike lodgepole pine spruce and fir do not grow back rapidly after a fire. Even now, over 20 years later the effects of the fires are much more obvious than in Yellowstone Park.

    I know this because I spent about 5 summers there. The first was in the late 70s when I researched it to write “Beyond the Tetons”. Then in the mid 90s, I teamed up with Lee Mercer to research it to write the “Hikers Guide to Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness areas.”

    This is something Bob Jackson might want to write about because he was the summer ranger for YNP in the Thorofare, and it was transformed by the fires.

  4. avatar Elkchaser says:

    That wasn’t my point Ken. Habitat has a big impact on moose, so do wolves. To not give the wolves more than 1 measly sentence is shoddy journalism in my opinion.

    • If Bob Jackson is following the blog tonight, it would be great to hear his opinion how the fires of ’88 changed the habitat quality for moose in the area (and habitat for anything else)

  5. avatar JB says:

    Elkchaser: Can you cite any study that suggests that wolves have a “big impact” on moose populations? My understanding of the Isle Royal study is that habitat has had a much greater impact on moose populations than wolves. In fact, the major crash of the moose population that occurred several years back was largely attributed to lack of top-down pressure from wolves (i.e. the moose ate themselves out of house and home). Of course, there were extenuating circumstances (i.e. parvo reduced wolf populations), but then, Isle Royal wolves have no in/out migration and are not subject to lethal control.

  6. avatar Ryan says:

    JB,

    Purely looking at it ancedotally, Moose tags have dropped in almost every GMU where wolves are present across the west, while areas sans wolves are fine.

    Ralph,

    I would have thought the fires would have been a boon for moose populations as they are browsers that prefer tender young shrubs.

  7. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Elkchaser this is not biased at all. I would say this journalism is written very well. The purpose of good journalism is to report facts and not opinions. I would say this “measly section” is good reporting with accurate facts:

    Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife biologist Doug Brimeyer said predators have also taken a toll.

    “We did document lion, bear and wolf predation in the population,” he said. “When you have predation on top of poor survival already, it really adds to the decline in the population.”

    Notice that it also says lion and bear predation and not just wolves. This article is acknowledging all the causes of moose mortality.

  8. avatar Elkchaser says:

    So.. if the article had been written on the impact of predators on the moose population and at the end it said, oh yeah habitat is a problem too, y’all wouldn’t have been screaming about the article being biased?
    I really don’t have a beef on the article itself, I just find it ironic that any article that is written about how wolves actually do have an impact on elk, moose, etc. is bashed for being biased, but any article that plays down the impact of wolves is applauded.

  9. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Elkchaser, though my screen name may indicate otherwise, I do look for bias in any article and will agree that it is possible for an article downplaying wolf predation to be biased. However, I also follow the scientific proof that wolves would not have such a deep impact on ungulate numbers simply because if wolves had such impacts on ungulate numbers they should not be one of the most successful animals in the world after people, in terms of size of original range. I look at sites like http://www.saveelk.com and can see what is propaganda. I also look at things like ranching interests who are obviously going to state facts
    against wolves and many hunters’ groups who use this Little Red Riding Hood fear and act paranoid.

    As far as this article goes, I think it is not biased because it supports known scientific fact.

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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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