Survey of non-resident hunters shows perception of wolf impact biggest factor in not buying elk tags-

As early as nine years ago, Idaho elk outfitters begin to tell the world that wolves had killed almost all the elk in the state. For the last two years Idaho Fish and Game Department honchos have joined in.

Today in an article* in Pocatello’s Idaho State Journal by Cody Bloomsburg, discovered an ID F & G survey of 2600 non-residents told that of those who did not return this year for an Idaho elk tag, 28 % blamed wolves, 13% blamed the recent non-resident fee increase, and just over 11% the bad economy.

This is the second year in a row that non-resident elk tag sales have declined (25% in 2008). A likely hypothesis is that the negative advertising barrage by the outfitters was not as effective as the ID Fish and Game officials following orders to poor mouth the state’s elk and deer prospects. ID Fish & Game did not begin to bemoan the supposed effect of wolves until two years ago.

The actual effect of wolves on Idaho elk populations is hard to measure. It is suspected that wolves are depressing or suppressing elk numbers in just two of Idaho’s 29 hunt areas. Most recently the Idaho elk population was estimated by Idaho Fish & Game elk surveys at 103,160 animals, at or slightly above the statewide objective.

– – – – –

*The article by Bloomsburg is not on-line.

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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.

56 Responses to ID Fish and Game/outfitter ad campaign to drive hunters from Idaho yields success

  1. avatar Maska says:

    You have to wonder about the intelligence of many of those in the outfitting business. Believe it or not, outfitters in New Mexico’s Catron County (and elsewhere) have been singing this same lament for several years–never mind that the end of year lobo population was only 52 animals, of which only about half were even in NM. Why would you badmouth your own business? So far, at least, our Department of Game and Fish hasn’t joined the doleful chorus.

    Maska,

    I’ve asked them on TV why? They don’t answer, but Idaho Fish and Game is told what to say by higher authority. Ralph M

  2. avatar Ken Cole says:

    But Ralph,

    They have to be at or above objective everywhere in Idaho or hunting just sucks.

    As we all know perception outweighs reality 10 to 1.

  3. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    That lowers credibility of these outfitters even more. Only and idiot would be saying that the hunting is bad when it is their business to guide hunters. What exactly did they think was going to happen if they were saying hunting was bad? People were going to buy licenses? That is about as smart as a car company saying that their cars are not good. They are really shooting themselves in the foot on this one and have nobody to blame but themselves.

  4. avatar Jon Way says:

    There will be an article in the paper tomorrow saying that ranchers in the “affected areas” are complaining of too many elk. IDFW should promote hunting cows and sheep not only to rid our public lands of these domestic herbivores but also, since they don’t like wolves then they must not like the fact that deer and elk are what they are (sleek, magnificent) b.c of the predators that have honed them in the last thousands of years. But, of course, you have to believe in evolution for that (pretty obvious scenario) and maybe the knuckle dragging legislators of ID just don’t get it.

  5. avatar cred says:

    Maska – please get your facts straight. You stated that “the end of year lobo population was only 52 animals”. But of course, that is 52 collared animals. There is an unknown population of uncollared Mexican wolves, and they have to eat, too.

    The original target population for Mexican wolves was 100 – it is possible (and in my opinion and the opinion of those who actually live here and inteact with wolves, rather than form their opinion on second hand biased web statistics) that the true population is already in that area now.

  6. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    JOn, the outfitters should make that argument. Do you suppose a lot of them don’t believe in evolution?

  7. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Here is an article in the Times News in Twin Falls, ID
    Survey: Wolves, fees keeping out-of-state hunters away
    By Nate Poppino
    Times-News writer

    Tony Mayer from SaveElk.com is spewing the bogus argument in the comment section that the “Canadian” wolves are the wrong species based on old science. He says “We believe that the main reason that this Canadian wolf has been so successful is because it is 30% larger, 50-100 # heaver wolf than the native timber wolf (C. l. nubilus.)”

  8. In the story by Nate Poppino (cited by Ken Cole above), it read “Fish and Game officials now plan to study the findings for ways to draw more people back to Idaho. Commission members took copies of the surveys home to review, and Keckler said he plans to post a summary on the agency’s Web site.”
    – – – –
    How to draw more people back to Idaho? Tell the truth!!

  9. avatar Hilljack says:

    Let’em go. If you aren’t up to the challenge of competing with a natural predator you don’t need to be in the woods. I don’t care if I shoot an elk or just see one it is the experience of matching wits with an animal born to get away that I like. I am happy just seeing a wolf in the woods and know that if I walk a little farther I will find the elk again.

  10. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Ralph, the truth is probably all that is needed to get people into Idaho. Just like if more people knew the truth about Alaska’s wolf program they might decide not to visit Alaska. The truth could even be bent with some clever advertising. Just show some wide open spaces, nice vistas, and shots of wildlife in their natural habitat and you could persuade people to visit your state. With the right advertising tactic you could make anywhere appealing.

  11. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Gotta love the saveelk.com rant. When they mentioned that a lot of the respondents based their opinion on word from hunters and blogs, can you take that seriously? Are they listening to sites like saveelk.com? When they say personal experience is it just because they didn’t get an elk or see one that they think wolves did it? What about Alaska? People are still going there all the time to hunt and there are a lot more wolves there than anywhere else in the US.

  12. avatar JEFF E says:

    Boy, Tony (saveelk) you sure keep trying to fit that square peg into a round hole. (I know you read this blog, probably daily. The only place you can get accurate information to then spin).
    I will give you this though, you are getting more sophisticated in you hyperbole.

  13. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    If folk want to know where the elk are, you should call & ask a local environmentalist, this seems to vindicate that b
    they’re the most competent. it appears as if the outfitters don’t know what the hell is going on on the Idaho landscape and are unwilling to look very hard. It’s entirely appropriate that
    they go out of business if they can’t even find all the elk that are out there.

  14. avatar Ryan says:

    Brian,

    Spot on, next time I need hunting advice I’m going to call my local enviromentalist instead of an outfitter who spends 3 months straight in the woods looking for elk. Obivioulsy the local envirmentalist will tell me exactly where there at, population levels, and feild observations. Where as most outfitters are too drunk to even get off their horses and look in the back county.

  15. I should have mentioned the effect of blogs like saveelk.com in promoting the perception the elk are all gone in Idaho.

    Of course, residents often do not feel bad when non-residents don’t show.

  16. avatar Jeff N. says:

    Cred,

    Get your facts straight. There are NOT 52 collared Mexican Gray Wolves iin the recovery area. According to the USFWS the 2008 year end TOTAL population was 52 animals. This includes both collared and uncollared wolves. Do your homework. A kindergarten kid could have looked up this information on his wireless laptop, while waiting for the bus in the wolf-proof-bus stop-shelter.

    Obviously living in wolf country doesn’t make one an expert on wolf issues. You are a prime example. Your “opinion” on population numbers doesn’t mean anything when 99% of your wolf information comes from the Wolf Crossings web site.

  17. avatar Layton says:

    Amazing!!

    All of the guesses about why the outfitters would be so “stupid” to advertise that the elk population IS depleted in Idaho.

    The outfitters are wrong — the F&G is wrong — oh, and I almost forgot — John Q Public (that “anecdotal” guy) is wrong too!! The only entitiy that has it right is the folks here that somehow devine that there is NO PROBLEM!!

    How come the obvious hasn’t occured to thefolks comprising the aforementioned entity?? ie: MAYBE THESE “other” ARE TELLING THE TRUTH???

    I know it sounds pretty far out to some, but could it just possibly be possible???

    And there is of course the other question — how come the science got old only AFTER the intro of the wolves?? Just curious. 8)

  18. avatar cred says:

    Jeff N: You’re right – I hadn’t checked the latest Mexican wolf report. It doesn’t say there are 52 uncollared wolves, but 26. It also doesn’t say how many pups there are out there that were born to collared wolves and are in dens right now, either. It also doesn’t provide any estimate of how many uncollared wolves there are (although the implication is “not many” with the use of the word “some” for the uncollared population). http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/BRWRP_notes.cfm

    As for homework, when I have spoken with actual IFT members and actual wolf professionals in the reintroduction area, they have no problem saying that the numbers of wild wolves can only be guesstimated with no guarantees of accuracy. Seems to me, then, that rancher guesstimates are just as good as anyone else’s sight-unseen, no-way-to-count numbers, since unlike wolf program people, ranchers are out there every day seeing wolf scat, seeing the wolves themselves – whereas of course most of the “official” counting is by airplane.

    Rancher guesstimates are for sure going to be more accurate than guesstimates by people who aren’t here, have no interaction with the on-the-ground Mexican wolf program, and who get their info from third-hand sources.

  19. avatar otto says:

    Of course ranchers have no incentive to inflate the numbers, cred. And they have a real reliable track record of truth telling as well.

    Jeff N cites not to his own opinion but the the USFWS, people who are actually on the ground and are paid to acquire first hand information.

  20. I was in the Mexican Wolf recovery zone in Arizona in late January and early February. There was an elk depredation hunt in progress for cow elk. An Arizona F&G wildlife area manager told me the elk were increasing. Somehow this doesn’t sound like the mexican wolves are much of a problem as far as elk numbers are concerned.
    I traveled up the south fork of the Payette last week and from Garden Valley to Lowman, the south facing slopes were covered with Rush Skeleton Weed (Chondrilla juncea). If this inedible weed continues to spread, the elk will all starve in the winter and so will the wolves.

  21. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Layton, here is a quote from the article:

    Twenty-eight percent of hunters didn’t plan to visit Idaho because of the effect the state’s burgeoning wolf population is having on elk. Some respondents cited personal experience, Keckler said, while others said their worries came from reading blogs and talking to other hunters.

    It says that some respondents cited personal experience dealing with wolves. What does that mean? Did they just not see elk and that is their assumption? I think it is a safe assumption that people hunted in Idaho and did not see elk or get one long before wolves were restored.

    They also said a lot of hunters had worries from reading blogs. What where they reading? Sensationalist things like saveelk.com? They said they got information from other hunters. Are these hunters the type that think that because elk have changed behavior due to wolves’ presence they are saying they elk are nearing extinction? From what I have seen on this site it seems like Idaho has done a pretty good job demonizing wolves. I am not sure how indicative of the state this is, but I have talked to people from Idaho who have an absolutely fanatical dislike and fear of wolves. If outfitters are in fact doing an ad campaign then what do they think will be the result? People will not feel sorry for them. They will go to states like Montana and Wyoming that have not done campaigns like that and are not putting out all of this propaganda. This kind of propaganda and ranting will probably hurt Idaho’s hunting industry more than wolves ever will.

  22. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Larry, it is amazing what you can find out from professionals.

  23. avatar Hilljack says:

    I really wonder if there will be any change on this issue in 20 years. I remember 10 years ago when I started reading the wolf weekly reports and how excited I was about seeing a wolf in public. Now its to the point I almost don’t look forward to talking with hunters in the field anymore because of all the mistaken over inflated facts by both sides.

  24. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Hilljack, things will only change with more education on the truth about wolves. Education that is based on science and not information from hunting groups, livestock groups, and animal rights groups. From scientists who are at least somewhat neutral and don’t benefit from these groups.

  25. avatar Maska says:

    The Mexican wolf population at the end of 2008 was 52 wolves. Of those, 29 had functioning radio collars. The remaining 23 wolves documented by the project in the end-of-year helicopter survey were uncollared. Source: the 2008 annual report, available on the AZGFD website.

    http://www.azgfd.com/w_c/wolf/documents/MW2008AnnualReport.Final.20090511.pdf

  26. avatar Jon Way says:

    Prowolf,
    great last points in your comments. I agree 100%.
    Back to my point above: to me it is amazing that outfitters can’t see the larger picture and realize that wolves and elk have been around for thousands of years except for a ~75 year time period before 1995. So, my guess is that they don’t believe in evolution and have no idea how the natural world works… It is a shame, as you indicated above, the propaganda runs everything all the way up to our politicians who sadly determine things such as hunting regulations.

  27. avatar JB says:

    “And there is of course the other question — how come the science got old only AFTER the intro of the wolves?”

    Layton: The answer to your question is obvious: for anything to age requires the passage of time! Wolves were listed and reintroduced based upon the science available at that time; certainly they couldn’t be reintroduced based upon the science of the future! Unless you think FWS has a time machine they’re not telling us about? 😉

  28. avatar rick says:

    Since reading this website I have heard over and over the arguement about the “Canadian Wolf.” I have heard this arguement from some of my relatives in Idaho as well. I know this is widely disparaged on this website so I wanted to do a little research on this. From what I have read, it sounds like there are differences in size from the subspecies of wolves that were in Idaho (pre removal, than the subspecies of wolves that are from the areas in Canada where they captured the reintroduced wolves.

    In “The wolf: The ecological and behavior of an endangered species” by David Mech, he says,

    “The wolf originally inhabited most of the Northern Hemisphere, and any animal with such a wide distribution could be expected to vary considerably from area to area.”

    In “The mammals of North America,” Hall and Kelson (1959) list the preremoval wolves in Idaho as Canis lupus irremotus, the wolves from Alberta as Canis lupus occidentalis and the BC wolves as Canis lupus columbianus with size being one of the main differences.

    I realize that there is some dispute about the accuracy of these subspecies and that the characteristics of the subspecies can become blurry in the areas where the different subspecies mix. Is this the “old science” that you are talking about Ken?

    A more conservative classification by Nowak in “Another look at wolf taxonomy” (1995), he shows the classification of the “Canadian” wolves as Canis lupus occidentalis and the majority of the wolves in the US as Canis lupus nubilus. Nowak describes the C. l. occidentalis as “a large animal of Alaska and western Canada” and C. l. nubilus as “a moderate-sized wolf…”

    My question is why is the arguement about the “Canadian wolf” so disparaged on this website when it seems like there is a difference? Is it because the differences in size are not as great as some anti wolf people would have you believe, or is there some other reason? I may need to go back further in some of the older posts to find some reasons why the arguement of larger “Canadian wolfs” are so ridiculed.

  29. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Rick, the reason why this is so disparaged is because people make it sound like the Canadian wolf is the size of a male lion (maybe a slight exaggeration). There may be a very slight size difference between C.l. occidentalis and C.l. nubilus, but it is not a huge difference. Also, the wolf subspecies are not bound by strict geographic boundaries. Wolves can easily disperse from Canada into Idaho. These two wolf subspecies could interbreed easily and they probably do. The same thing would have almost certainly happened in Colorado and possibly with nubilus, occidentalis, and the Mexican wolf. The point is that a gray wolf is a gray wolf. The wolves found in Idaho are the exact same species as Arctic wolves, the wolves in Italy, the ones in Romania, the ones in India, etc. The wolves captured for the Idaho and Yellowstone restoration were captured because they were from a population that hunted elk which would be the primary prey. It would not have made sense to restore wolves from the Great Lakes who primarily hunted deer, nor would it have made sense to restore Arctic wolves that primarily hunted caribou and musk oxen, even though both types could survive in Idaho.

  30. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Rick, in your post you cite a book from 1959. That is probably pretty outdated as the idea of subspecies is continually evolving and new subspecies are removed and added all the time.

  31. avatar Save bears says:

    The Gray Wolf Taxonamy, cited in this book has pretty much been disregarded with more research since 1959, that is outdated information that does not really pertain to the current situation, with more research comes more information, we can’t continue to rely on information that was derived 5 or even 2 decades ago, as new information is always being discovered based on the advanced techniques and science that is now used..with the destruction of the wolves in the early part of the 20th century, we basically changed the scope of evolution and adaptation and cannot say what would have happened if they had been left alone to evolve and adapt on their own..so now there is a new set of rules that guide adaptation and evolution..

  32. avatar rick says:

    ProWolf,

    Thanks for the comments. I agree that the 1959 citation is out of date, and that is why I also added the Nowak citation which is right around the time period of the reintroduction. To quote Nowak, “Nowak made the first attempt to systematically analyze statistical data on the morphology of all modern wolves. Computer based multivariate analyses of ten measurements from each of 580 skulls of male wolves indicated the presence of five subspecies of C. lupus in North America.” He then mentions that the occidentalis wolves were larger than nubilus. So, it seems like there is some morphological differences. I can understand though the frustration with exaggerations in size. I have not been around a lot of real vocal anti wolf folks so I don’t know how much of the comments by anti wolf people about “lion sized” wolves is hyperbole on this website or their actual thoughts. Does anyone know if there are specimans of these wolves anywhere that the general public could look at and compare to see if there are actual visual differences or if you have to get down to morphological skeletal measurements to see an actual size difference.

    I am sure there was some degree of interbreeding between the subspecies, but Nowak in “Wolves: behavior, ecology, and conservation, edited by Mech and Boitani” points out that nubilus was pushed south during when a route through the glaciers opened and the larger occidentalis form developed in the ice free Beringian refugium in Alaska and then moved out into Canada when the last glaciers withdrew. Based on the writing of Nowak, it seems like there is a difference in the sizes of these wolves. Unfortunately, Nowak just refers to the “larger” occidentalis and doesn’t give any specifics about how much larger. Pro Wolf, you mention there may be very slight differences in size. Do you have any information to support that. Thanks.

  33. I was standing on the Bear Valley bridge on the road to Dagger Falls last summer watching salmon with my grandson. A large family there, from back east, asked us if we had seen any wolves as they wanted to see some. They had stayed in a cabin the night before in Stanley and had been berated by the blue- roofed cabin’s owner when they said they were going to look for wolves. They said they would stay elsewhere the rest of their vacation. I wonder how many other vociferous anti -wolf outfitters have run off their paying customers like this famous one did. Maybe some of them should quit promoting shoot, shovel and shutup and just shutup.

  34. avatar jburnham says:

    this post has wolf sizes at the time of capture as well as average yellowstone wolf sizes and lots more helpful information.

  35. avatar Jon Way says:

    There is a good chance that C. lupus nubilus living in the Great Lakes is actually a gray wolf x eastern/red wolf hybrid and thus why smaller. It is a good thing that the wolves came from Canada, actually, because the eastern United States is literally a Canis soup with gray and eastern/red wolves mating and eastern/red wolves and coyotes also mating to produce the eastern coywolf in New England (also incorrectly called eastern coyote). Thus, this discussion of larger Canadian wolves is just plain stupid.
    Among other sources, see:
    Wheeldon, T., and B.N. White. 2009. Genetic analysis of historic western Great Lakes region wolf samples reveals early Canis lupus/lycaon hybridization. Biology Letters 5:101-104.

    Wilson, P.J., S. Grewal, I.D. Lawford, J.N.M. Heal, A.G. Granacki, D. Pennock, J.B. Theberge, M.T. Theberge, D.R. Voigt, W. Waddell, R.E. Chambers, P.C. Paquet, G. Goulet, D. Cluff, and B.N. White. 2000. DNA profiles of the eastern Canadian wolf and the red wolf provide evidence for a common evolutionary history independent of the gray wolf. Canadian Journal of Zoology 78:2156-2166.

    Wilson, P.J., S. Grewal, T. McFadden, R.C. Chambers, and B.N. White. 2003. Mitochondrial DNA extracted from eastern North American wolves killed in the 1800s is not of gray wolf origin. Canadian Journal of Zoology 81:936-940.

    Wilson P.J., S.K. Grewal, F.F. Mallory, and B.N. White. 2009. Genetic characterization of hybrid wolves across Ontario. Journal of Heredity 100:S80-S89. doi:10.1093/jhered/esp034.

  36. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Rick, the “lion size” statement is an exaggeration I use. I don’t think anyone has ever actually said this. As far as specimens, I believe the wolves at the Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone are occidentalis in origin but I am not positive. I have never found written evidence that occidentalis is larger than nubilis but seeing as how occidentalis is found further north it would make sense that they might be larger (like the Arctic wolf is the largest), just like it makes sense that Mexican wolves are smaller. I think if you saw an occidentalis and nubilis specimen standing together you would be hard pressed to notice a difference. And if the wolves were male and female, they wouldn’t care. 🙂

  37. avatar rick says:

    Jon,

    I am not sure what your point was with the citations or how they support your point that “this discussion of larger Canadian wolves is just plain stupid.” I read the Wilson et al. (2009) paper and it refers back to the Nowak paper that I had read and the five subspecies of wolves in North America. The paper also points out “there has been no similar formation of Canis soup in areas inhabited by western gray wolves.”

    I don’t mean to be arguementative about this subject, and I certainly am not trying to support saveelk but I have seen the ridicule of the “Canadian Wolf” arguement on this website and I am trying to find out where that is coming from since it seems that there is scientific evidence that their is a difference in the size of these wolves. I still need to learn more about this and I would appreciate any information that can describe the historical difference in size.

    In an interview I read with Ed Bangs, he mentions that the wolves from those areas of Canada were chosen because they were use to eating elk, and as Prowolf mentions you couldn’t bring wolves from the Great Lakes area because they would not be used to eating elk. I think rather than dismissing the size difference between occidentalis and nubilus a better point would be that the wolves that were brought in from Canada evolved with elk also and did not kill all of the elk in Canada.

    Perhaps in that way, the arguement about wolf size is pointless.

  38. avatar Ken Cole says:

    This is what has been told to me by someone who knows:
    “The Last of the Loners by Stanley Paul Young tells about some of the last wolves in the West as they were hunted down. He has weights for some of the last “Lobos” and the weights were right in the ball park of the reintroduced wolves.”

    I just ordered a copy of the book and will tell you all what it says when I get it.

    The link that jburnham posted is a good one to refer to. Thanks.

  39. avatar rick says:

    Thanks, that would be great.

  40. avatar Jon Way says:

    Rick,
    my point was the argument by the people against the wolves that the Canadian wolf is not the right wolf is stupid. I didn’t infer that your post was. These wolves were captured about 500 miles from where they are now. Some wolves (individuals) have dispersed that far. The point is that gray wolves, not Canadian (or US) wolves are here and they are the right version to be here, b.c as you said they hunt the same prey.
    So we are basically both saying the same point from diff’t angles.

  41. avatar Jon Way says:

    Rick,
    sorry for a second post but your comment, “The paper also points out “there has been no similar formation of Canis soup in areas inhabited by western gray wolves,” definitely supports the viewpoint that wolves should’ve come from where they did and not MN or further east where eastern/red wolves hybridize with gray wolves. Gray wolves have been the only wolf apparently to inhabit the western 1/2 of the US and they do not mate with coyotes as opposed to what is happening in the east.
    Good question though about tracking down sources with verified weights/measurements to discount the Canadian wolf, rather than just gray wolf, theory.

  42. avatar jburnham says:

    I’m curious if the ‘saveelk’ crowd take issue with the ‘Canadian wolves’ that naturally migrate to MT and ID. They’re certainly not monster sized, and seem to do just fine in the U.S. The point is that it’s an ecosystem/habitat question, not one of political borders.

  43. avatar Ken Cole says:

    One of the biggest problems that I see with the “Canadian” wolf theory as proposed by anti wolf people is that there was very little systematic data collection of wolf sizes to back up their assertions about wolf size. If there is I would like to see it.

    In the Northern Rockies
    Adult males average 113 lbs
    Adult Females average 92 lbs

    How big do they say the “native” wolves were? Judging by Mayer’s comments they were 50-100 lbs smaller. Using their logic, that would mean that males ranged from 13 to 63 pounds and females -8 to 42 pounds. It sounds like someone is confusing helium filled wolves or coyotes with wolves.

    The argument just doesn’t make any sense.

  44. avatar Ryan says:

    “I’m curious if the ’saveelk’ crowd take issue with the ‘Canadian wolves’ that naturally migrate to MT and ID. They’re certainly not monster sized, and seem to do just fine in the U.S. The point is that it’s an ecosystem/habitat question, not one of political borders.”

    Jburnham,
    Why werent’ the pro reintroduction people fine to just let the wolves return naturally instead of reintroduction?

  45. avatar Ken Cole says:

    “Why werent’ the pro reintroduction people fine to just let the wolves return naturally instead of reintroduction?”

    I’ll answer that. One of the main reasons the re-introduction occurred was due mainly to the fact that wolves were returning on their own. Senator James McClure (R-Idaho) became the driving force for re-introduction by dropping his opposition to it. He saw the writing on the wall and wanted to have some ability to manage wolves. That could only be accomplished through a re-introduction with a experimental, non-essential classification under the 10(j) rule. Without the re-introduction there would have been no legal recourse for livestock depredations.

  46. avatar Jay says:

    Ryan–how was that working out (recolonization from Canada) with respect to pack formation prior to reintroduction? There wasn’t any reason for wolves not to re-establish themselves prior to the ’95-’96 reintroduction, other than 1) too few wolves making it to Idaho; and 2) the one’s making it getting illegally killed, not finding a mate to form a pack, etc. Do you think that somehow, with the USFWS coming out and saying that they want a population of wolves to naturally re-establish themselves, that the folks doing the three S’s on the few wolves coming down would decide they’d ease up on them?

  47. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Jay,
    I think that wolves would have re-established on their own without the re-introduction. It would have taken longer but I truly think that we weren’t too far from it becoming a reality.

    We’ve all seen how well the NW Montana population has fared in recent years and I think that we could reasonably assume that they would have made a strong comeback on their own to Central Idaho. I’m not so sure about Yellowstone. I think that would have taken much longer due to barriers for safe dispersal to the Park.

  48. avatar JEFF E says:

    i would like to write more and cover this in depth but short and quick.
    In my opinion the “Canadian Wolf” myth has roots in the original government docs that talked about c.l. irremoutes as the original inhabitant. the problem stemmed from the fact that for some reason they cut the northern border off at the united states/canadian border. Why they did that is anyone’s guess but I believe that led to mass confusion as all sorts of people/organizations tried to get there mind around what was actually involved with the reintroduction and took the gov papers at literal face value.
    sorry about any typos and hope this make sense.

  49. avatar Jay says:

    I disagree Ken, but its a moot point now.

  50. avatar jburnham says:

    Ryan, I think it’s clear that many people were fine with allowing natural reintroduction, especially in NW Montana.

    As for Yellowstone, I suspect you know that the reintroduction took place when the political winds were friendly to that cause. Also there was some urgency at the time to ‘manage’ the record numbers of elk on the northern range.

  51. avatar David S says:

    Wow the outfitters nailed it, the outfitters credibility will be higher than ever! If your hunters show and they have an expectation of what the hunt should be like, and it is not what was expected, the quick blame is on the outfitter. With the wolves that all changes. The outfitter does not have to work nearly as hard, he has the wolves to blame. And when this mess simmers down just a bit he can call his clients back and tell them he can get them a good bull elk. And they will buy his hunt because he advised when the hunting was bad, so he must be telling the truth. His integrity is at an all time high. The perception (real or not) is that wolves have damaged Idahos elk numbers. The outfitters are playing it the only way that makes sense. Either way they are going to get hurt from this and many have alot of time and money invested into their outfits. In the end non res hunters bring to much money into Idaho to be ignored. There needs to be a very good hunting year to get the funds back to idaho. And if that does not happen i believe the situation will get real ugly for wolves. Not all nice like right now.

  52. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I think rather than dismissing the size difference between occidentalis and nubilus a better point would be that the wolves that were brought in from Canada evolved with elk also and did not kill all of the elk in Canada.

    Rick, that is a point that I have been arguing on this site until I am blue in the face and that is the most important point to counter what the saveelk people say. Regardless of size or subspecies, this wolf evolved with elk and the elk are far from being endangered in Canada.

    Jburnham, the point about Canadian wolves migrating into the US on their own is proof that so much of what the anti-wolf people say is not even close to credible. I have never seen anyone answer that question.

  53. avatar Layton says:

    “Jburnham, the point about Canadian wolves migrating into the US on their own is proof that so much of what the anti-wolf people say is not even close to credible. I have never seen anyone answer that question.”

    If Canadian wolves managed to migrate into the Northwest enough that the resulting genetic mingling makes the sub-species science invalid —- doesn’t that also mean that the argument used about the SUPPOSED inability of wolves in the US to intermingle with Yellowstone wolves that was used to get Malloy to issue an injunction is ALSO invalid??

  54. avatar Rick says:

    I was just reading an old article by Elbert Bowman, a rancher in Montana during the 1880s-1920s. He describes the wolves of his area as “a great, sleek, well-fed brute, who grew sometimes to a length of seven and a half feet, tip to tip, and who stood nearly three feet high, possibly weighing 150 pounds.” I thought this was interesting in relation to the discussion about wolf sizes.

    Ken, any update about wolf size from Stanley Young?

  55. avatar JB says:

    People always overestimate the size of wolves. I think this is due to their (1) relatively large head and feet (when compared with dogs), (2) long legs, which makes them much taller than most dogs of a similar weight, and (3) their long, dense coat, and (4) the fear and mysticism that surround the species.

    When I was working on my M.S. we brought a group into town that had ambassador wolves (a practice I now have mixed feelings about). Regardless, they asked a crowd of high school students how much a particular wolf weighed. Several students made guesses that ranged from 200 to 700 pounds! In fact, that particular wolf was a very small female. She weighed 65-70 lbs!

  56. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    If Canadian wolves managed to migrate into the Northwest enough that the resulting genetic mingling makes the sub-species science invalid —- doesn’t that also mean that the argument used about the SUPPOSED inability of wolves in the US to intermingle with Yellowstone wolves that was used to get Malloy to issue an injunction is ALSO invalid??

    Layton, I don’t think that there was argument that the Yellowstone wolves had an inability to mingle, it was just that there was no evidence that they had. The argument was the if taken off the endangered species list and hunted to the extant that Idaho wanted, and shot as predators like Wyoming wanted, there would not be genetic mixing and the populations would suffer from inbreeding.

    I would have responded sooner, I have just been on vacation. 🙂

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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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