Judge also indicates that delisting opponents may prevail in larger case.

New Expanded story. Federal judge says gray wolf hunts can continue. Good chance plaintiffs may win in the end. By Matthew Brown. AP

Here is the judge’s actual ruling.pdf

Newer stories.

9/10. Wolf hunt will go on for now, court says. But the judge who made the decision hints the animals may eventually be returned to the endangered species list. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

9/10. Views from Montana. Judge OKs wolf hunt, questions delisting. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

117 Responses to Federal judge says gray wolf hunts can continue

  1. avatar April Clauson says:

    But he adds that by carving Wyoming out of the recent decision to remove wolves from federal protection, the government appeared to violate the Endangered Species Act by making its decision based on political boundaries. Molloy says that means environmentalists could ultimately prevail in their bid to restore endangered species protection for the animals.

    Now to me that is good news, I know not to some. Maybe in the end the deaths will save more wolf live’s…

  2. avatar JB says:

    Ken,

    Could you post a link to Molloy’s ruling on the injunction?

  3. avatar Ryan says:

    Has their been any update on the Wyoming lawsuit against the federal goverment?

  4. avatar Alan says:

    Interesting point of view, April. I have to wonder, though, if this won’t simply cause the feds to accept some new version of Wyoming’s same old funky wolf “management” plan that will result in more deaths rather than fewer? Nothing seems to happen as you would logically think that it would. Look at the Yellowstone snowmobile issue.

  5. JB,

    I will post it when I get it. I think Ken is gone for the rest of the day.

    I’m not all that upset by this decision, although without the judge looking over their shoulder the states could let the hunt get out of hand.

    The real danger to wolves is Wildlife Services with their radios, aircraft and poison.

    I hope for an eventually victory over delisting so a new delisting rule can be crafted.

  6. avatar jdubya says:

    It boggles the mind at how the federal judiciary has to play these kinds of roles in environmental decisions. Next week we may finally see a ruling come down on the fate of the Snake River dams, also from a federal judge. Why do our politicians abdicate their jobs and instead leave the hard work to the guys and gals in black?

  7. avatar April Clauson says:

    Alan Says:
    September 9, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    Interesting point of view, April. I have to wonder, though, if this won’t simply cause the feds to accept some new version of Wyoming’s same old funky wolf “management” plan that will result in more deaths rather than fewer? Nothing seems to happen as you would logically think that it would. Look at the Yellowstone snowmobile issue.

    You are right, but I can hope! Maybe this time around if they are put back on the ES list, the Feds may not accept the old funky wolf mgmt, it is a different bunch now…

  8. avatar timz says:

    It’s a different bunch but they’ve already accepted it for the most part, since they delisted them again.

  9. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    The judge agreed we are likely to succeed on the merits. However, the issue of irreparable harm hinged on whether the death of a single wolf/individual wolves constituted “irreparable harm”, which advocates had argued it does. The judge disagrees.

    Our claims concerning the “arbitrary & capricious” decision to set the delisting DPS at the Wyoming border (effectively slicing them out for political reasons rather than forcing them to come up with a plan that works & setting a biologically justified DPS) are good claims.

    It’s sad that individual wolves will die. It has been happening all along with Wildlife Services, in fact – worse, slaughter of entire packs, extirmination of wolves from entire landscapes, has been taking place as a matter of 10(j) – on behalf of Livestock with your tax-dollars footing the bill.

    In my perfect world, re-establishing ESA protection of wolves, then re-initiating the 10(j) litigation, hopefully getting some favorable judicial clarification on that issue, would be the best scenerio for wolves & wildlife.

    As much as I sympathize with individual animals, I have not agreed with the focus of this thing being held to individual wolves in such a way that demonizes hunting. I don’t think it’s right nor do I believe it’s a direction that will benefit wildlife in general. For this reason, I agree with Ralph, this decision is not devastating news – in fact, Molloy’s mention that we are likely to succeed on the merits should be good news. You can bet the lawyers are busting their asses on that Motion for Summary Judgement right now.

  10. avatar Dan says:

    The article says 3 wolves have been killed since the hunt began, but Idaho’s official site says 4. The 4th appears to have been illegally killed in an area where hunting has not yet began. Does anyone have any information on this 4th kill?

    http://www.fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/wolf/quota.cfm

  11. avatar josh sutherland says:

    I hope they treat him just like any other poacher. Seize his equipment and fine him and revoke his hunting rights for 5 years at the minimum. This is the kind of behaivor we cant afford to have if we expect the hunts to go smoothly.

  12. Irreparable harm must be evaluated not only in the numeric realm but also qualitatively. In other words each animal represents an irrevocable loss of genetic/evolutionary potential as well as an irrevocable loss of genetic data.

    That is one of the reasons that Wildlife Service’s propensity to take out entire packs is so devastating. For instance, what if a particular pack (consisting of only 10 individuals) had a preponderance of alleles that comprised a survival advantage which could be passed on through successful (reproductive) dispersal — like the color white which would make wolves less visible (and then less vulnerable) in winter. This is a case of microevolution by genetic drift.

  13. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Dan – here is a IDFG press release announcing the status of our investigation of the illegal shooting of a wolf out of season, in the McCall-Weiser wolf zone. This is the fourth wolf killed since hunting began in the Lolo and Sawtooth zones.

    Wolf Poaching Citations Issued
    An Eagle man has been cited by Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers Tuesday, September 8, in connection with a poached wolf.
    Two citations were issued: shooting a wolf in a closed season and shooting from a public road. Witnesses told officers he shot the wolf while standing in the road at the back of his pickup truck.
    The wolf was shot about 6 p.m. Sunday, September 6, in the McCall-Wieser wolf zone, which is closed to wolf hunting.
    He called the 24-hour wolf harvest reporting line Tuesday morning and reported the wolf killed in the Sawtooth wolf zone. Later that day he checked in the wolf at the Fish and Game office in the Nampa. He later told officers he thought he was in the Sawtooth wolf zone until he looked at a map back in camp Sunday evening.
    An illegal take would be charged to the harvest limit of the zone in which it occurred. In this case, the wolf will be taken out of the McCall-Weiser wolf zone harvest limit.
    The wolf is a small female, still a pup. Officers seized the wolf hide and skull, a rifle, camera and tag.
    The investigation is ongoing and the charges have not been filed with the court.

    IDFG
    09-09-09

  14. avatar Virginia says:

    Idaho should be so proud.

  15. avatar Smitty says:

    Virginia said- “Idaho should be so proud.”
    Of what, citizens that turned in a poacher? There are bad apples in every state, er barrel.

  16. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    At least in the comments in the Statesman this guy wasn’t a martyr.

  17. avatar Anne Gilbert says:

    Ralph and all:

    Does this mean that the opponennts of this wolf hunt are going to take it to the Supreme Court? I really don’t understand why the judge let the hunt continue, unless he just wanted to duck the brickbats, so to speak. Or maybe there are unresolved issues? I”m hardly an expert here, but I will get back tomorrow or so and read the rulinig.
    Anne G

  18. avatar Merdoch says:

    Anne:

    The way injunction requests normally work is that the judge decides if the plaintiff in the case has shown they are likely to win the case, AND the damage done in the short term will be so severe to warrant an injunction before an actual decisions in the case has been made. In this case the judge decided that the overall wolf population will not be irrevocably damaged by the current wolf hunt levels so no injunction was required for the moment. However the judge first DID rule that the plaintiffs are likely to win the case with the issue of the selective leaving off Wyoming from the delisting being such an obvious problem he didn’t even need to consider the other problems with the delisting for the moment.

    I don’t know if the decision to not grant an injunction will be appealed or not, although I haven’t read anything suggesting it will be in any press releases I’ve seen so far in response, which suggest they won’t do so and will focus on winning the case when it goes to trial.

    While I’m not an absolute legal expert, my understanding is an injunction could still be sought if the circumstances significantly change. I.E. if Idaho announced tomorrow they are not getting rid of wolves fast enough and also intend to start gunning down an additional up to 300 wolves from helicopters, at that point an injunction could be sought again and would be very likely to be granted.

  19. avatar Cris Waller says:

    My understanding- this was just a preliminary ruling on the emergency injunction, since, as the judge put it, the “Sword of Damocles” was hanging over his head concerning making a decision on the hunt. He has determined that, for now, the plaintiffs haven’t shown cause that the wolf hunt will cause irreparable damage to the population and can thus continue. He also expressed his view that the delisting of wolves in ID and MT but not WY is a case the plaintiffs are likely to win. However, the final ruling on that issue is in the future; he said he’d announce hearing dates.

  20. Anne Gilbert,

    The plaintiffs have the option of doing nothing, and allow the hunt to continue with the judge ruling on the validity of the delisting in his own time.

    The plaintiffs can appeal their failure to get an injunction to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of appeals. The might lose their too.

    The judge gave a strong signal the plaintiffs will eventually win one way or another, so question for the plaintiffs is “is the hunt all that bad?”

  21. avatar JB says:

    For what it is worth, I think his decision was right on both counts: The hunts will not do irreparable harm to wolf populations and plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the Final Rule violated the ESA.

  22. avatar JimT says:

    Ralph, some here have raised the issue of WS getting involved if not enough wolves are killed and counted (a key issue here given the recent poaching; if it continues, or statistically significant numbers of untagged, dead wolves relative to the population are found, irreparable harm standard is alot closer to being met and PI being issued). If the states are the ones legally responsible for the hunt, how can they turn to WS to potentially use helicopters, planes and poison to accomplish the stated end death count? Isn’t that reason enough to go back to Malloy and get him to amend his order so poison, planes and WS stay the hell out?

  23. avatar gline says:

    “Jim Unsworth with Idaho Fish and Game said his state’s hunt so far has gone smoothly. Everything is working just like we planned, which shouldn’t be a surprise since we’ve done this for years with other critters,”

    wolves are far from “other critters” politically speaking…. they are trying to minimize the hatred that does exist for wolves. I am glad this is going to a higher court but like many have brought up how many wolves will die that wont be reported to fish and game? No one really needs to call. I’m sure I may be corrected on this last statement but really is the state going to do forensics on every dead body they find and trace back to the owner of the gun?

  24. avatar gline says:

    Jim T good point but I remember Mr. Honnold stating at the hearing that Idaho could kill all the wolves they wanted to . i.e. they could kill 500…

  25. avatar Save bears says:

    gline,

    Where did you read it was going to a higher court? I may have missed it someplace but have not seen any indications that I know of, that it is going to a higher court?

  26. avatar Virginia says:

    When I state “Idaho should be so proud,” my sarcasm should come through. There is a constant flow of stories from the state of Idaho concerning the wanton destruction of wildlife, waters and the war on the environment in Idaho. It shocks me that the citizens of Idaho continue to accept and even condone these situations.

  27. avatar gline says:

    yes Save Bears it is going to the 9th circuit per Mr Honnold….and judge Molloy. Don’t know if Earthjustice has their papers in right now as I am not privy to that type of information but I am sure they are working on their Motion of summary judgment, as someone on this blog has mentioned already. …

  28. avatar gline says:

    *ie comments by judge Molloy – he had asked in the hearing if the attorneys planned on taking this to the 9th circuit

  29. avatar gline says:

    which is always an option and kind of a given

  30. avatar Save bears says:

    okay, I know the question was asked if it could be appealed by Anne.

    Were you in court for the ruling? Just curious.

  31. avatar josh sutherland says:

    I have a feeling this scenario will just keep repeating itself year after year. Hunt will start, enviros sue, hunt stopped. Hunt restarted, enviros sue, hunt stopped. It will be a constant circle I am afraid.

  32. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    Not if the wolf is relisted. Is it possible that Judge Molloy could toss the 10j? That would keep WS out of the picture.

    Rick

  33. avatar hilljack says:

    Any info on what happened near Dillon, MT. I heard wolves killed over 100 sheep in a night and the rancher was actually pro wolf or as much as a rancher can be. I am glad the hunt is going to continue and actually bought a tag. If nothing else it can hold a place in my wallet. I think most of you on here are off the deepend in your love for an animal. Wolves are one of the greatest species because of there social life styles, hunting style and proud vocalizations but they are not gods or any better than other species like sage grouse, elk, deer, turkey, bear, cougar etc. Let off the hunt it won’t hurt the population or the genetics. If you follow Valerie’s line of thinking the loss of any one individual at any time may effect all of that species. Not likely when you have several thousand individuals between the provinces and and rocky mtn states.

  34. hilljack,

    Yes we discussed the sheep incident quite a bit in another thread.

    It has been hard to get accurate information about the thing, but from what I’ve gathered I doubt the rancher was pro-wolf. I think it was the opposite.

    I think there is something very odd about this whole thing and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks should tell the complete story.

  35. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Rick Hammel asks:

    Is it possible that Judge Molloy could toss the 10j?

    There is other litigation contesting the Bush change to the 10(j) rule also held before Judge Molloy. That litigation is now moot, unless & until Molloy orders that the delisting was unlawful and restores ESA protections.

  36. avatar Cris Waller says:

    “Hunt will start, enviros sue, hunt stopped. Hunt restarted, enviros sue, hunt stopped. It will be a constant circle I am afraid.”

    That, of course, is almost exactly what happened in CA in the 1980s, regarding mountain lions, which led to the eventual passage of Proposition 117 which permanently banned mountain lion hunting in the state (the real difference is that, in 1987 and 1988, the suits stopped the proposed hunts before they began.) And, after decades of protection, the mountain lion in CA is doing just fine, despite all of the dire predictions of what would come to pass. Depredations are on a steady downward trend, deer populations are not being decimated by predation (although habitat loss, drought, and forestry practices have impacted herds) and CA has no more public safety issues with lions that states with intensive hunting programs do.

    I think the only real end to the wolf hunt circus, however unlikely and controversial it would be, is a Federal law governing management of large carnivores (at the very least, wolves, mountain lions, lynx, grizzlies and wolverines;) animals which do not respect state boundaries, have gigantic home ranges, are sensitive environmental indicators- and are animals that inspire fierce passion on all sides of debates.

    We don’t hunt birds of prey after centuries of prosecution because we realize their environmental benefit. We don’t hunt them- even though there are no doubt some “sustainable” populations and birds of prey do impact hunters to some degree- because we’ve become environmentally aware enough to know it’s neither necessary or prudent.

    As far as I am concerned, large mammalian carnivores should receive the same treatment. Just because a species might possibly be hunted without impact to the species is not, in and of itself, cause to do so. And, in the case of the large carnivores I have mentioned, there is little evidence that hunting benefits them (in fact, with cougars, the species that I am most familiar, recent studies in WA and elsewhere are showing the long-unrecognized harmful effects of hunting.)

    Although I doubt that our society will be enlightened enough any time soon to enact such legislation, I can hope such a time will come. Perhaps, someday, we will be able to see fully-functional ecosystems as more desirable than giant ungulate farms, and wild predators as valuable in their own right, not just as rugs and trophies.

  37. avatar rick says:

    “The real danger to wolves is Wildlife Services with their radios, aircraft and poison.”

    “If the states are the ones legally responsible for the hunt, how can they turn to WS to potentially use helicopters, planes and poison to accomplish the stated end death count? Isn’t that reason enough to go back to Malloy and get him to amend his order so poison, planes and WS stay the hell out?”

    Just for clarification, I don’t believe there are any poisons registered for wolves or used by WS for wolf control. I think there was one accidental poisoning of a wolf that pulled an m-44 but WS is not supposed to use m-44s in known wolf areas.

  38. avatar JB says:

    Cris,

    I agree. When I suggested (the other day) that we are headed for such legislation I was accused of having a “pipe dream”. The fundamental problem here is that while wolves are listed, all U.S. residents will have some say (however small) in their management. As soon as authority moves to the states, only Idaho residents–who am I kidding–only Idaho hunters and livestock producers will have a say. Thus, large, national NGOs like Defenders will (and should) fight this thing as long as they can.

    The Idaho legislature has proclaimed that it wants wolves removed by any means necessary and Gov. Otter opined that he would support managing wolves back to 100. I fully trust that IDF&G biologists are capable of sustainably managing wolves in a fashion that is acceptable to most people; I just don’t believe that Idaho’s government will keep their hands off this issue.

  39. avatar Anne Gilbert says:

    Ralph:

    I downloaded and printed the pdf of the ruling yesterday, and I took the time to read it today. Personally, since I know a little about how these things work, legally speaking, I feel the judge basically issued a rather strange ruling. On the one hand, he said no “irreparable harm” could be done by shooting a few wolves. Much as it pains me to say it, in a strictly legal sense, the judge is right. OTOH, he did leave a rather large loophole that allows the plaintiffs to press their case on somewhat different grounds(e.g., that the whole delisting process, the way ZI understtand it, was not applied correctly. This means that the plaintiffs could presumablyc tacke it allc the waccycc cto the Supriemc cCourt. But, and again this is just my opinion, Judge Molloy basically ducked potential brickbats here and “passed the buck”. But, as I say, that’s just my opinion on the matter.
    Anne G

  40. avatar Merdoch says:

    Anne:

    What you need to understand is Molloy Judge DID NOT rule against the plaintiffs with regards to the actual decision in this case.

    What he said was there is not enough evidence of irreparable harm to a preliminary injunction, but he thinks the plaintiffs seem likely to win the case when he later makes his decision on the actual case after hearing further evidence from both sides. (This is where he specifically talked about the issue of selectively leaving out just Wyoming from the delisting.) The catch is the judge the plaintiffs only met the second qualification, but not the first one about the damage being severe enough in the short term for an injunction.

    A preliminary injunction is something that can be requested prior to having a full trial, but ordinarily has a substancially higher burden to actually be granted. The decision not to grant an injunction can in of itself be appealed, but it in no respect means the plaintiffs have lost regarding the legal case itself.

    In other words, Judge Malloy will set a schedule for a full trial where he will personally hear a full presentation of evidence from both sides and make a decision, and it looks likely that he will rule the delisting was illegal at that time. Basically the judge has already written that he felt the decision to leave Wyoming out of the delisting was so obviously problematic he didn’t even need to consider the other arguments the plaintiffs brought up to decide that the plaintiffs are probably going to win at the actual trial when a decision will be made.

  41. avatar gline says:

    Yes Save Bears as I’ve said several times, I was at the hearing for the injunction. There was no ruling at the time of the hearing. The ruling was told to us yesterday, as you know.

  42. avatar gline says:

    the question was asked AT the hearing as I said in my thread or maybe it wasnt clear. I was AT the hearing. 🙂

  43. avatar Save bears says:

    gline,

    Okay, I was just reading it differently than you were writing it, I know since the ruling on the injunction was posted, I have seen no indication they were going to appeal the ruling on the injunction…now on the case itself, I think it will be appealed no matter who prevails…

  44. avatar Ryan says:

    “CA has no more public safety issues with lions that states with intensive hunting programs do. ”

    Do you have any research to back that up, from what I have read Cougar incidents continue to rise in California, more are killed now by the CADFG on average than were killed by hunters. It seems the vast majority (all though still a small number) of human attacks also occur in CA. On another note, TX, which manages its cougars nearly polarly opposite to CA still has a viable population of cats and no loss of home range.

  45. avatar Cris Waller says:

    Ryan-

    “from what I have read Cougar incidents continue to rise in California”
    You can see the depredation stats here- http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/lion/depredation.html As you can see, they have decreased to 131 reports and 46 cougars killed this last year. Note that this involves all cougars taken for any type of depredation or public safety removal. Compare this to Idaho, where sheep producers alone claim to have lost 400 head to cougars in 2008, according to http://www.sheepusa.org/?page=site/text&nav_id=dd2bbed78d9c6cece3ec99b60d0d6b77

    “It seems the vast majority (all though still a small number) of human attacks also occur in CA.”
    We have had three fatal attacks since Prop 117 passed. Attacks from 2001-2009 are here- http://www.cougarinfo.org/attacks3.htm- although this includes some attacks on livestock and outside of the US as well. Only four of the 35 reported incidents are in CA.

    Keep in mind that CA also has probaby the largest mountain lion population of any state in the West- 3000-5000 cats.

    As far as Texas goes, the populations there are almost unstudied; I know of no real research to support the assertion that populations are stable/unthreatened. Without the research, no one knows for sure!

  46. ” … each animal represents an irrevocable loss of genetic/evolutionary potential as well as an irrevocable loss of genetic data.” – Valerie Bittner

    Interesting. Please remember that evolution has been forced by man, that is, the introduction of canis lupus occidentalis into the range of canis lupus irremotus. This was done without preparing sufficient habitat, i.e., removal of human activities such as grazing, etc.

  47. avatar Cris Waller says:

    Arne-
    “Please remember that evolution has been forced by man, that is, the introduction of canis lupus occidentalis into the range of canis lupus irremotus.”

    Please also remember that subspecies classification is also done by man, and is fallible. Wolf taxonomy is in flux, and many taxonomists no longer regard irremotus as a valid subspecies, and merge it with occidentalis.

  48. avatar JB says:

    And also recall that C. lupus was forcibly removed by man, making the RE-introduction necessary. For a species that lacks sufficient habitat, I’d say wolves are doing quite well!

  49. avatar Save bears says:

    Hey JB,

    I was wondering if you would be inclined to discuss a couple of things through email? If so, Ralph has permission to reveal my email to you…

    SB

  50. Cris Waller – “Please also remember that subspecies classification is also done by man, and is fallible. Wolf taxonomy is in flux, and many taxonomists no longer regard irremotus as a valid subspecies, and merge it with occidentalis.”

    Who are we to accelerate this process by forced introduction of different subspecies? Evolution of the smallest feature takes centuries.

    JB – “And also recall that C. lupus was forcibly removed by man, making the RE-introduction necessary. For a species that lacks sufficient habitat, I’d say wolves are doing quite well!”

    It will do well until it exhausts its food supply, starves, and starts following the remainder of the herds into residential areas like last winter. Starving wolves test human settlements for food sources. In the past, in North America, this has been met with firearms (hence few injurious attacks), but on the Eurasian continent where firearms are restricted the story is different.

    Irremotus was determined to be “extinct” by the courts, accepting one scientific opinion over another: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/law/lwsch/journals/bcealr/27_3/03_TXT.htm : “Finally, and most surprisingly to pro-wolf forces, the plaintiffs included various environmental groups (including the National Audubon Society, Predator Project, Sinapu, and Gray Wolf Committee).153 These organizations were primarily concerned with protecting the endangered status of naturally occurring gray wolves.154 They were concerned that naturally occurring wolves which wandered into the recovery areas would essentially lose their “endangered” designation and would mistakenly be treated as part of the experimental population.155” The conclusions, instead of being based on science, are based on the merits of human legal arguments and self-imposed guilt from previous extermination of the wolves that dared come too close to man, ignoring infrequent but regular eye-witness accounts of irremotus wolves still living in the proposed “recovery” area.

    My “big picture” question will always be: Did they do enough research to prepare an adequate habitat for the introduced wolves? According to this, http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/animals/mammal/calu/all.html , a viable population of 50 wolves needs 7,818 square miles of habitat. That’s 1,563.6 square miles for a typical pack of ten. That’s a square almost 39 miles on a side. Logically that also assumes X number of ungulates to produce Y number of prey animals for the wolves. Are human activities such as grazing, hunting and other recreational uses compatible with wolves’ needs? Where is the data?

    Imagine if, one day while you were walking down the street, you are hit with a tranquilizer dart and, not knowing anything about the culture south of here, you wake up 1,000 miles away in a different ecosystem. Similar but different. How would you react? Remember, you have had no previous television, newspaper, schooling or other education as to language, customs, food sources, etc. of the new area, nor any of the “higher” human analysis functions we take for granted. I believe subspecies classifications we think are minor have more effect than is readily apparent.

    Do a Google image search of the following: “canis lupus occidentalis” and a separate one for “canis lupus irremotus.” Occidentalis seems to include the all-black wolves with a larger body and more rounded muzzle. Irremotus wolves are smaller and have a specific brown/white pattern with a white “smile” under the muzzle. Underlying these external appearances are many millenia worth of subtle adaptations to specific conditions. They are different animals. Who are we to judge which is suitable to a specific environment?

    To think we know everything is ignorant, indeed. It took more than a century to wipe out most of the wolves. In that intervening time we have completely changed its environment. The last 15 years of “quick fix” may satisfy our emotional needs but ignores the slow, steady pace of evolution. We gave no consideration to adequate habitat for the newcomers, adapted by evolution to a different place in the world. Close, but different.

  51. avatar gline says:

    Arne: wolves are wolves. Per Federal Law if a species is endangered, we must take remedies to reintroduce that species. If that particular species is gone because of extinction, we are to use the next available species… Please read the below excerpt from the ESA:
    As per the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884),
    Public Law 96-159 (16 U.S.C. 1533, 93 Stat. 1255-1230), … designated the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Fish and Wildlife Service, as the Endangered Scientific Authority for implementation of CITES. It also created an International Convention Advisory Commission, and extended the scrimshaw amendments for three years.
    Public Law 100-478, enacted October 7, 1988, (102 Stat 2306) included the following provisions:

    * Redefines the definition of “person” to clarify law applies to municipal corporations.

    * Provides equal authority to Departments of Interior and Agriculture for enforcing restrictions on import/export of listed plants.

    * Requires the Secretary of the Interior to monitor all petitioned species that are candidates for listing and specifies emergency listing authority.

    * Directs the Secretary of Interior to develop and review recovery plans for listed species WITHOUT showing preference for any taxonomic group.

    * Establishes recovery plan criteria for listed species.

    * Requires a status report to Congress on recovery plans, every two years.

    * Provides for public review of new or revised recovery plans prior to final approval.

    * Requires five-year monitoring for species that have recovered and been delisted. (where is that in Idaho’s plan???)

    * Clarifies the use of funds allocated to the States and establishes criteria for allocations.

    * Directs that deposits from the General Fund amounting to 5 percent of Pittman-Robertson/Wallop-Breaux Federal Aid accounts be made each year into a special cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.

    * Prohibits damage or destruction of endangered plants on Federal lands and on private lands when knowingly in violation of State law.”

    source: http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/ESACT.html

    Hundreds of hours of biological research went into the wolf reintroduction.

  52. avatar JB says:

    Arne:

    What makes you think wolves will “exhaust [their] food supply”?

    The predictions you are making simply are not backed up by the historical record. For example, it wasn’t wolves, but disease and lack of forage that caused moose populations to crash on Isle Royale, and wolf populations followed. Wolves, ungulates (wild and otherwise), and people have co-existed with humans for a very long time in North America, and wolves co-existed with many species long before humans showed up.

    Attacks on people have and will occur; but the historical record shows that they are exceptionally rare. Given how much attention is focused on preventing wolves from coming into contact with people and livestock, and how easy it is for WS to kill “problem” wolves, I would suspect that attacks on people will remain extremely rare.

  53. avatar JEFF E says:

    Arne,
    Okay, lets just stay with the sub-species argument and ignore the past 30 + years of genetic research. What was the historic range of c.l. irremotus..
    Here is a little exercise for you. As you probably know it was “Wolves of North America, by Young and Goldman” which broke out all the different sub-species thought to exist that time.
    Now here is what I would like you to do. Take the fig. from that book that shows the range of the various sub-species and expand it out on a photocopier so that it will fit nicely on a 11 x 17 paper. Then take that and photocopy it again onto a clear plastic overlay. Next find a good map of Alberta Canada and copy that to the same scale as the information you now have from the Young and Goldman book. Then take the clear overlay and place it over the map of Alberta and Locate the northern boundary of c.l.Irremotus. You will find that it appears to be the Athabasca river. Now the majority of the reintroduced wolves were captured in the vicinity of Hinton, Alberta within 50 miles I believe. Hinton lays right on the Athabasca river. Now this raises a few questions when we consider what factors cause a “sub-species” and the behavior of wolves.
    1.What impediment does the Athabasca river present to wolves that there would be a different sub-species on the north bank from the south bank.
    2.When wolves disperse they go in all directions, potentially, and has been documented, for 100’s of miles, so it can be assumed that the dispersers from packs North and South of the Athabasca river had been mixing for as long as there have been wolves in existence.
    3. Because of 1 and 2 it is just as valid to me to say that the wolves were c.l. nubilis than occidentalis.
    and
    4. the last thirty years of genetic research renders all of the above a moot point anyway.

    Arne, you would probably be better served to direct your efforts along those lines in order to stay current on the topic.

  54. avatar Richard Giallanzo says:

    Look when they kill enough wolves then their will be an outcry and then they will rule in favor of the wolves. Obama in this instance is on the side of big bussiness that’s it in a nutshell.

  55. Legal and other definitions aside, The wolves were moved back here by force. They did not do it on their own. The initial subjects constituted an “experimental” population, and, no matter the hypothesis, an “experiment” can run counter to expectations.

    “Look when they kill enough wolves then their [sic] will be an outcry and then they will rule in favor of the wolves.” – Also consider that in the not too unlikely event that a human is attacked by a wolf, especially if it is a child in a remote campground, for example, the sentiment will run the other way, possibly triggering home-grown vigilantism. Someone will point out that you are more likely to be killed by a bee sting or traffic accident, but those are just statistics. A wolf attacking and possibly killing a human would generate a media-fueled frenzy.

    This is a fascinating account: http://www.youtube.com/user/lanceito#play/all/uploads-all/0/2k35v2VBT7w . More than 4,000 people have seen this in the last 5 days. It is important to read the entire description, as they were too preoccupied to begin recording video earlier. I have heard of similar stories in the past. This also presents a novel wolf hunting strategy: The hunter uses himself as bait. Record the event on one of these: http://pistolcam.com/pages/pistolcam.html .

    I have nothing against wolves, having encountered one in the Frank Church Wilderness several years ago. I’ve been a backpacker for more than 40 years and enjoy seeing all kinds of wildlife. I remember encountering bears and rattlesnakes every day and night on a week-long hike up the Tuolumne River more than 30 years ago. This is always a positive addition to the experience as long as one is prepared for the encounter. I only question the motives, experiments and techniques used by some humans in their quest to “improve” things.

  56. Arne P. Ryason Says:

    “Also consider that in the not too unlikely event that a human is attacked by a wolf, especially if it is a child in a remote campground, for example, the sentiment will run the other way, possibly triggering home-grown vigilantism.”

    Predictions of imminent attack on a child have been made since the wolves were reintroduced in 1995. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana predicted a little girl would be dead by the end of the first year.

    Sixteen years have passed and no attacks from the reintroduced wolves. In the meantime almost every other large animal has killed sometime.

    If actual evidence is what matters, where is the body? Why have the bloody predictions all been wrong? Why not even a single nip on the hand.

    Fearmongers!

  57. It isn’t about fear, it is about being prepared. We have elected to introduce a top predator to the area. This predator has a history of attacking unarmed, unprepared and/or ignorant humans:

    “Algonquin Provincial Park is one of several areas where people are encouraged to “howl” at the wolves in hopes of a response from the wild wolves in the area. In August, 1996, the Delventhal family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were spending a nine-day family vacation in Algonquin and joined a group of Scouts in “howling” at the wolves. They were answered by the howl of a solitary wolf.

    “That night the Delventhals decided to sleep out under the stars. Young Zachariah was dreaming when he suddenly felt excruciating pain in his face. A lone wolf had bit him in the face and was dragging him from his sleeping bag. Zach screamed and Tracy, Zach’s Mother, raced to his side and picked him up, saturating her thermal shirt with blood from Zach’s wounds.

    “The wolf stood menacingly less than a yard away. Tracy yelled at her husband, Thom, who leapt from his sleeping bag and charged the wolf. The wolf retreated and then charged at Tracy and Zach. The charges were repeated. Finally the wolf left. Thom turned a flashlight on 11-year-old Zach and gasped “Oh, my God!” “The boy’s face had been ripped open. His nose was crushed. Parts of his mouth and right cheek were torn and dangling. Blood gushed from puncture wounds below his eyes, and the lower part of his right ear was missing.” Zach was taken to a hospital in Toronto where a plastic surgeon performed four hours of reconstructive surgery. Zach received more than 80 stitches in his face.” – http://www.aws.vcn.com/wolf_attacks_on_humans.html

    That’s a little more than a “nip on the hand.”

    Other attacks are documented, but most are not considered “official” attacks unless the person dies from his or her wounds. From the above:

    “1. The wolf has to be killed, examined and found to be healthy.
    2. It must be proven that the wolf was never kept in captivity in its entire life.
    3. There must be eyewitnesses to the attack.
    4. The person must die from their wounds (bites are generally not considered attacks according to the biologists). ”

    Some are afraid their preconceived notions might be wrong. Not me. The wolf is not “sacred,” merely a top predator. that is all. I am prepared. I do not let my kids wander alone while we’re in the woods. No fear at all.

    Telling people that wolves don’t attack humans is irresponsible. This imposed ignorance will lead to people being lax about preparedness, resulting in a human attack and bad news for the wolves involved. If we want to protect wolves, we must tell the truth.

  58. avatar Cris Waller says:

    Arne-

    I’m not commenting one way or the other on the veracity of the Algonquin incident, but I am curious- you are making such a big deal about the subspecific designation of the Rocky Mountains wolf, but the Algonquin wolves are regarded by most taxonomists as an entirely different *species* (Canis lycaon.)

    So, if you have huge problems with the reintroduction of gray wolves because you believe the two subspecies are very different behaviorally, how can you use an entirely different *species* of wolf to make valid predictions on the behavior of Canis lupus?

  59. If people want to reduce the liklihood of wolf attack, which is low to begin with, leave your dog home in wolf territory. If a wolf approaches and growls or attacks your dog, the wolf isn’t interested in you. It’s your dog. Outside the U.S. there have been people injured when they tried to break up a fight between a dog and a wolf.

    Never feed wolves. One Yellowstone wolf had to be shot because it had been fed and began to approach people. It might have even chased a bicycle.

    Several wolf attacks in Alaska (or maybe it as northern Canada) were related to wolves that hung around camps and were fed. Attacks on Vancouver Island on the Pacific Coast Trail were fed wolves.

    I have posted this comprehensive summary of wolf attacks a number of times, and so have others. Does anyone ever bother to read a pdf file?

    The Fear of Wolves: A Review of Wolf Attacks on Humans” (pdf) Norsk Institiutt for Naturforskiknung

  60. There is also the debatable case of Kenton Carnegie, discussed several times in this forum.

    I see Wikipedia now has a long article on it Kenton Joel Carnegie wolf attack.

    Assuming he was killed by a wolf or wolves, not conditioned by human food, just one death establishes in my mind that wolves are the least dangerous of all large North American predators.

    To those easily frightened folks out there, I say BOO!”

  61. Oh how interesting! I just read this in the Wikipedia article on Carnegie, “Despite disagreements between the official investigation and investigations commissioned by the Carnegie family, all parties agreed that the wolves and black bears inhabiting the area were habituated to humans through regular visits to an illegal landfill operated by the owner of Points North Camp, Mark Eikel.” [emphasis mine]

  62. avatar Layton says:

    So I guess my question about this whole issue would be “how can the habituating of wolves NOT occur?’

    Almost every animal on the North American continent is, to some extent, “habituated”. In case you haven’t noticed there are a few million people out there and not a lot of non-inhabited real estate.

    Somehow it seems that the wolves don’t stick to wilderness areas and national parks. Aren’t incidents like Carnegie and the Delventhal family bound to happen?

  63. Layton,

    Excuse me. It should have said habituation to human food where the wolves comes to see people as a source of food.

    We have all experienced this . . . for example, feed a stray cat a few times, and it is on your doorstep. It isn’t your friend, however. Try to pick it up and it will try to bite or scratch you. Keep feeding it and it will become demanding, although that is just a minor irritation. What if the cat weighed 350 pounds?

  64. See? It’s all about habit. Was sufficient habitat prepared for the re-introduced wolves? Were man’s activities removed from 1,500 square miles for each pack of ten? That’s probably the only major issue I have with the whole program (my species-subspecies nitpicking is probably a minor issue to some, but not all).

    Thanks for posting the pdf. I am new to this site so I will read it all at some point.

    Ralph, from your comments (and my perspective) you seem to think that all people opposed to the wolf re-introduction program are afraid of them or are trying to instill fear in others. To the contrary, just like putting on your seat belts and looking both ways before crossing the street, we should be AWARE of large predators in areas we visit and modify our BEHAVIOR accordingly, i.e., leave the dogs at home, keep a neat camp, hang foodstuffs between two trees and so forth. BOO! is counterproductive and unscientific.

    The dog factor seems to be a big issue. I have never and will never own one, as I hike solo, mostly, and domesticated animals interfere with the wilderness experience. (I also never build campfires while solo but that is another story). A friend of mine owns a dog and is a major wolf lover, ascribing some sort of “new age” sacred status to them. She also walks her dog in wolf country off-leash. I pray she does not have a messy wake-up call.

    Years ago I listened to a wildlife biologist on NPR. He said the best way to introduce wolves to an area was to to first remove man and his activities, creating wilderness corridors that wolves will naturally move into. Instead, they have been artificially re-introduced. Since that introduction, years before any hunting season was considered, misbehaving wolves, entire packs for that matter, were slaughtered from the air by wildlife officials who imposed their own brand of “natural selection.”

    I have no problem with the presence of wolves, but the postage-stamp-sized “wilderness” areas available to them (compared to former habitat) dictates some method of control. From this they will learn to stay away from man, reducing the likelihood of negative encounters and assuring their continued presence. Those that have the patience to walk deep into the woods, follow ungulate tracks and sit in one place for hours, if not days, will have the opportunity to see these marvelous predators in action.

  65. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Again, as has been stated here many times the reason that wolves were allowed to reintroduced other than the requirements of the ESA was because Senator Jim McClure (R) Idaho saw the writing on the wall and withdrew his opposition to reintroduction so that there could be a 10(j) rule which classifies the reintroduced wolves as experimental, non-essential. The 10(j) rule allowed killing of wolves to protect livestock and would not have been allowed if wolves were allowed to return naturally, which they were doing at a slow pace.

    We could argue about how fast passive recovery of wolves would have been but it is a moot point. I think that wolves would have recolonized Idaho but their genetic diversity would have been severely compromised because they would have been derived from a very small population since there seems to be a very low density of wolves in southern Canada and northwest Montana’s wolves came naturally from these wolves.

    It is important to maintain connectivity between the Canadian populations, NW Montana, Central Idaho and the Yellowstone populations. The management plans of the states does not ensure this and management activities in important corridor areas have been heavy handed. Also, the pack with a Yellowstone wolf has had a kill order placed on its head thus compromising the state’s argument that wolves can successfully disperse their genes across the landscape.

    There is no requirement to remove humans from the landscape and wolves are perfectly capable of living in the presence of humans if left to their own devices, it is the opposite which is a problem. Many humans seem to have a problem with wolves living in their presence.

    Arne, it takes prolonged separation for subspecies to develop. In the case of wolves this has not occurred. Wolves had some regional genetic traits which have disappeared but these traits could be passed across a continent. It is more appropriate to think of wolves as a species which consisted of a continuous population with regional differences rather than a bunch of different populations made up of different subspecies.

    I think it is more appropriate to be concerned about subspecies of fish like cutthroat trout which inhabit different basins altogether or even different runs of Chinook Salmon which are more susceptible to reproductive isolation even if they occupy the same drainage. The conditions experienced in any given stream can select for drastically different traits such as migration timing etc.

    These selective pressures surely existed but not to the degree that would keep wolves from Idaho from breeding with any other population of wolves on the continent. I think that much of the concern about wolves (or other widespread species) and different subspecies comes from the fact that humans have severely fragmented their habitat and populations and a desire to protect all of the remaining genetic diversity. It is also important to protect the ecological function of wolves as well.

  66. Ann,

    You just happened to hit a pet peeve of mine — people afraid of the wilds. That is why I went on so.

    The Northern Rockies were already well prepared for wolves, as evidenced by their quick growth and recovery. Their habitat is deer and elk and a bit of cover. They are not deep wilderness animals, although they like that fine too if there are deer, elk, moose, etc.

    I didn’t fully understand that before the reintroduction. I actually thought they might head to the heights of the Sawtooth Mountains and live there, but the good wolf habitat in the summer is the meadows and forest of the hills and lower mountains of the Sawtooth Valley where the elk live.

    In the winter they have great habitat in the Salmon River Canyon downstream from Stanley. They do stay around Stanley in the winter, however, because local feeders, led by Ron Gillett, have created an artificial wintering ground for the wolves’ food.

  67. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    This predator has a history of attacking unarmed, unprepared and/or ignorant humans.

    Arne, you mentioned one attack. That is hardly a history.

    Layton, yes, it is possible for a wolf attack to happen. However, if those two attacks are so far the only documented attacks in North America, I think the odds are in our favor. If people are not stupid and don’t habituate wolves, we can probably expect this to be a very rare occurrence.

  68. avatar BrianTT says:

    “If people are not stupid and don’t habituate wolves, we can probably expect this to be a very rare occurrence.”

    Do you think these ‘Wolf viewing areas” that some people are pushing where no hunting would be allowed might contribute to habituating wolves to humans? I know it hasn’t too much in Yellowstone although I think there has been atleast one incident with a wolf chasing a biker or something?

  69. avatar Anne Gilbert says:

    Brian, Ralph, and all:

    I think there are places people have already habituated wolves to humans, because they are idiots who evidently think it’s cute to feed the furry gray wild doggies with pointed ears and brushy tails. . . . then the wolves get used top eating “human food” and follow people around, and trouble results. Same thing used to happen with “black” beears in various parts of the West. I can remember lots of bears along the roadsides in Yellowstone, when I was growing up, and one time, I was in Mt. Rainier, and a bear wandered into the place where my parents and I were camping and nosed around. No harm was done, but. . . . that’s when I learned that it isn’t a good idea to encourage the wildd things, at least not too much. And since wolves, like domestic dogs, will eat anything biodegradable, people need to be smart about what they bring into areas where there are wolves(or bears, for that matter), and how they store it.

    OTOH, I wonder if, as at the McNeill River in Alaska, wolves and other wild creatures could be “habituated” to the presence of humans, without “considering” them to be a source of “goodies”.
    Anne G

  70. avatar Ken Cole says:

    BrianTT,
    No, I don’t think that the “wolf viewing areas” would contribute to habituating wolves to humans. It hasn’t in Yellowstone and won’t in Idaho unless people start feeding wolves like has been documented in Yellowstone. Once those wolves were shot with beanbags the wolves avoided roads and humans. It’s not the lack of harassment that causes wolves to habituate it is the reward of food that habituates them to humans.

    This is besides the point anyway. There will be no “wolf viewing areas” in Idaho.

  71. avatar JB says:

    Two points:

    (1) Arne: Know your source. The article you cite was published by the so-called “Abundant Wildlife Society of North America”; I urge people to take a look at the articles listed on their website to get a flavor for what they’re about: http://www.aws.vcn.com/. Two words come to mind…”not credible.”

    (2) Habituation is NOT food conditioning. Nearly all large carnivores in YNP are habituated with relatively few problems. Habituation is a natural process via which an animal learns to ignore a stimulus via repeated exposure. We are all habituated to certain stimuli; else we couldn’t function in a stimulus rich world.

    (3) Food-conditioning is the problem. It occurs when an animal learns to associate food with another stimulus. The most problematic scenario is when people feed (even unintentionally) animals, especially large carnivores. When a large predator learns to associate people with food a problem is imminent; or, as the park service says, “a fed bear is a dead bear.”

  72. avatar JB says:

    Okay, so I can’t count.

  73. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Do you think these ‘Wolf viewing areas” that some people are pushing where no hunting would be allowed might contribute to habituating wolves to humans?

    Yes BrianTT, that is a possibility. Any place where people can view wildlife readily has that possibility, like all national parks. As Ken pointed out, it is going to result from actions like feeding. I personally am all for wildlife viewing areas for any species even with that risk.

  74. avatar JEFF E says:

    Ralph says,
    “…….Outside the U.S. there have been people injured when they tried to break up a fight between a dog and a wolf……”
    There was also an incident just earlier this year over by Ashton where a dog was being attacked by several wolves wherein the owner waded in to the middle of it, grabbed his dog and received not one scratch.
    Arne,
    Everything you have brought up has been discussed on this blog at least once, usually way more than that. Maybe read the history on here and add that to your study of the genetic research that has been taken place for the last three decades+.

  75. avatar JEFF E says:

    I remember feeding bears in Y-stone bread out the car window. Still have quite a few pictures of it. Also remember in Ashton the signs along the hi-way telling people to not forget to buy their bread to feed the bears

  76. avatar JEFF E says:

    …how times change.

  77. avatar Save bears says:

    Jeff E.

    The problem is, it still happens Just because we know that we shouldn’t does not mean people won’t feed animals…

  78. avatar JEFF E says:

    Yes SB…….. I Know

  79. avatar JEFF E says:

    So riddle me this,
    As the elk/deer hunt takes place and the ones that are shot and then dressed, which will usually involve the hunter(s) leaving quite a bit of human scent in the immediate area of what will soon be a gut pile, to be consumed by whatever critters that come by……will that not in essence be “food conditioning”?

  80. avatar Ryan says:

    OTOH, I wonder if, as at the McNeill River in Alaska, wolves and other wild creatures could be “habituated” to the presence of humans, without “considering” them to be a source of “goodies”.

    At Mc Neil river and Brooks Camp there is a vast natural food supply that attracts the bears and lessens their interest in Human Goodies. That being said the precautions taken there with regards to food safety and bear proofing are very very tight. Both of those areas have the distinct advantage of being single point of entry areas and relatively small crowds to control.

  81. avatar JEFF E says:

    ….a step further. It has been supposed that Grizzly key on rifle fire during hunting season because of the resultant gut piles. Would wolves not be doing the same?
    So one day rifle fire means dinner, the next it means your dead, the next dinner…….
    So which one will be dominate to a wolf?
    Sounds like quite a few wolves are going to need counseling. 8*)

  82. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Anne,

    Grizzly bears, different behavior than black bear, at both spots. McNeil River, is run by the state of AK, and has a very small number of visitors a dozen or so at a time for an overnight stay to see bears chowing down on abundant salmon, so no food issues – long list and backlog of a couple of years before your turn. The environment is tightly controlled, with very strict rules as Ryan points out, and escorts with a 12 ga. nearby at all times. That being said, I do not believe there has been an incident for the full run of the program.

    Brooks Camp is a little different and part of Katmai NP, but still a highly controlled environment, bear encounter training is required, with elevated viewing platforms, and backcountry campers are enouraged to bring their own “electric fence” – no kidding.

    Jeff E,

    You pose an interesting question. I can say from personal experience in wolf and coyote country gut piles do not last more than 24-48 hours, typically gone by morning, and that was why I posed a question on another post here directed at that very topic, which Carter Neimeyer answered.

    There have been reports in MT that grizzly bears have begun to associate gunshots with hunter kills, and head to the sound. And, I believe, a couple of attacks on hunters when the bear made a claim. The hunting regs. in MT even have warnings.

    I suspect in all cases the smell of an easy meal for a bear or a wolf will overcome any fear of humans, in most circumstances. What the animals do when the hunter approaches the occupied site is the troubling part.

  83. avatar JEFF E says:

    Speaking of Alaska,
    One of my daughters spent two summers tagging salmon on some tributaries of the copper river. Fly in camp. No contact with the outside for two weeks at a time. They were given a shot gun for bear and in spite of wrestling salmon for 14+ hours a day and sleeping in tents, with plenty of bear around, there was never a time the gun was used. All that was needed was to yell and bang some pots together…throw some rocks….

  84. Wilderness Muse wrote:

    “There have been reports in MT that grizzly bears have begun to associate gunshots with hunter kills, and head to the sound. And, I believe, a couple of attacks on hunters when the bear made a claim. The hunting regs. in MT even have warnings.”

    There is no question about this. Grizzlies migrate out of Yellowstone Park into the Teton Wilderness [national forest in WY] for easy nutrition from the elk hunt. I even think there is a controversy whether the extra nutrition provided offsets the number of grizzly bears killed.

    I’m sure Bob Jackson could say a great deal about this although it has been maybe 5 or more years since he was the ranger there.

  85. avatar JB says:

    Just as a follow up:

    Folk’s here might recall Brandenburg and Mech’s 1980s-era Nat Geo special, entitled “White Wolf.” There are scenes of the photographer and scientist a few feet from wolves, which (via habituation) learned to essentially ignore (i.e. they were not viewed as a threat, nor a food source). There is one scene where Mech sits among that year’s litter of pups mock-howling.

    Yes, wolves are a undeniably a potential danger to human beings. However, the relative risk posed by wolves is absurdly low when compared to other threats. You are FAR more likely to die choking on your dinner. In fact, it is almost laughable that we are still having this conversation.

  86. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Jeff, What a great experience. That is probably the way it is MOST of the time, although grizzly and the larger more aggressive black bear of AK (yes they are not the sweet little blacks we have down here) don’t intentionally want to bother you, if the salmon are in. They just want to get fat for winter, but tend to react unpredictibly to surprises.

  87. avatar JEFF E says:

    WM,
    Ya, She has also spent various summers in Hawaii tagging leather back turtles, sleeping on the beach all summer, and another time documenting foreign exotic species. Now lives in Cordova Alaska and I get copper river salmon year round.

  88. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    You are lucky indeed, and the copper river salmon part too!

  89. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I’m always amazed by seeing those pictures of the bear jams in Yellowstone and the viewing areas by the garbage dump.

    As the elk/deer hunt takes place and the ones that are shot and then dressed, which will usually involve the hunter(s) leaving quite a bit of human scent in the immediate area of what will soon be a gut pile, to be consumed by whatever critters that come by……will that not in essence be “food conditioning”?

    Jeff E, I have heard that argument said about grizzly bears as you wrote previously. However, it was in Outdoor Life which I have become more and more skeptical of as they spend a lot of time demonizing grizzlies and wolves. Have there been any actual studies on this? I have seen camp robbers flock to a dead deer as soon as they hear a shot, so I would be curious if bears and wolves would, but I have never heard of coyotes doing that. They probably know enough that gun shots should be avoided.

  90. JB – ” (1) Arne: Know your source.  The article you cite was published by the so-called “Abundant Wildlife Society of North America”; I urge people to take a look at the articles listed on their website to get a flavor for what they’re about: http://www.aws.vcn.com/.  Two words come to mind…”not credible.” …”

    You sprung the trap I set. Of course, if you dig deep enough you will find holocaust deniers and so forth in any “disreputable” web site loaded with “well poison.” I chose the incident they cited, deliberately, because it is a reference from Readers’ Digest. This is easy to Google and find relevant portions of text, abstracts and so forth, unless the trusty old Readers’ Digest is a hotbed of anti-wolf, anti-environmentalist philosophy. Here is how to find it. Look for “Cook, Kathy; “Night of the Wolf” READER’S DIGEST, July 1997, pp. 114-119. I don’t have this in my local library but it is referenced here in a USGS website titled: “Wolf Restoration to the Adirondacks: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Participation in the Decision – References” – http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/wolfrest/ref.htm . I assume these people check references. Here it is again: http://washingtonwolf.info/wolf-human_encounters.html , and so on. Be careful of what you try to discredit. The fact is that the humans in the story were howling at wolves and sleeping in the open. Maybe, instead of wasting time trying to discredit the story, we should learn a couple of important things:

    1) Don’t howl at wolves. They will misinterpret it. You might think it is lovely singing, but the real meaning is a life-and-death acoustic territorial marking, pack member identification and so on.

    2) Don’t sleep in the open, outside of a tent after howling at the wolves. First, you have invaded the wolves’ territory, howling like it’s yours and second, you have exposed your animal shaped and smelling body to inspection by a wolf. He might want to evict you or see if you are good to eat or both.Who knows? Stay in a tent. The shape of that structure is probably not imprinted on their millenia-old instinctive behavior. (I think they recommend sleeping in a tent in lion territory in Africa for this reason. I like tents because I don’t like being awoken by insects crawling into my ears, etc.)

    Wolf attacks in North America are very rare, but since the wolf is “new” to many, any future attack will be more noticeable than the myriad of other ways we normally injure ourselves. All that is needed is a future bad incident. What is wrong with doing our best to prevent such incidents? A wolf advocate saying that wolves are essentially harmless to man invites a member of the homo stultus sub-species to do something wrong, get attacked and have retribution directed towards the wolf, which was doing nothing wrong, just behaving normally in the situation. Please think about this, especially if you care about wolves.

  91. avatar Cris Waller says:

    Arne- Are you going to address the subspecies/species issue I mentioned earlier in this post?

  92. Cris – No, It is probably trivial and I have a life. The fact is we moved the wolf back here from somewhere else. We did not allow this to happen on its own. Impatient, short lived humans want instant results. Nature does not use tranquilizer darts, truck transport of drugged animals and official gunfire from airplanes to cull misbehaving wolf packs and individuals. I postulate that a slow, natural migration would tend to select individuals more suited to the new environment (isn’t this how a subspecies arises?), reducing the possibility of negative encounters with humans and their domestic animals in the new territory. Hey, I heard it from a wildlife biologist on NPR many years ago. It might be true. (I used to get “A’s” in science class…)

  93. avatar Cobra says:

    Arne,
    I agree with you on wolves migrating on their own and yes that would not satisfy the I want it now mentality. Also, if wolves had migrated down on their own I think more people would be accepting of them.

  94. avatar JEFF E says:

    Arne,
    It’s funny that you spent a great deal of time in your earlier post rambling on about sub-species and now it is trivial.
    HmHmmmmm

  95. avatar Anne Gilbert says:

    Wilderness Muse:

    I’m well aware that grizzly bears are somewhat different, behaviorally, than “black” bears. They’re bigger, for one thing, and have longer claws. I also know quite a bit about the McNeill River and Brooks camps, and one of the things I learned was, that not only do the peoplle in charge keep thigns “pretty tightly controlled”, as you suggest, and only let rather small numbers of people in at any one time, they also teach the people about “bear etiquette”, which is basically useful advice anywhere in “beqr country”. It basically boils down to “the bear has the right of way” and “keep a respectful distance between yourself and a bear. Any bear.” I also know that at McNeill, at least, there has never, ever, been a bea/human incident of any consequence. Basically, people need to be taught the same aout wolves. I don’t think there have been any “incidents” in Yellowstone between wolves and people(at least I don’t know of any), other than some people being so eager to see one, that they surrounded some wolf or wolves who were trying to cross a road, and the wolf or wolves couldn’t cross. I think those issues have since been addressed.
    Anne G

  96. avatar JB says:

    Arne:

    Apparently you didn’t read the rest of my post; nor any of the others I’ve made throughout this thread? I think it is important that people be aware of what not to do while in the proximity of large carnivores. As Ralph points out (above), not taking a dog into an area known to be occupied by wolves is one important step; not feeding wolves is another. As I said before, “…wolves are a undeniably a potential danger to human beings.” But it is also an undeniable fact that wolf attacks–if notable at all–are notable for their extreme rarity.

    I stand by what I said about your source, not because I doubt the particular incident they describe, but because of the other content on their website (which is clearly anti-wolf). I am familiar with the RESEARCH, as opposed to the popular, literature on wolf attacks. This research paints a much different picture then the slanted article you cited. For example:

    McNay (2002) reviewed 80 documented cases of wolf aggression toward people in North America between 1900 and 2000. He found 19 cases of “unprovoked wolf aggression”, though 18 of these occurred after 1969. He argued that habituation and food-conditioning played a role in 11 of these cases.

    The bottom line: don’t feed wolves. Trying to stoke fears so that people are afraid to camp out of doors is just plain silly. You’re more likely to be attacked by a deer or a moose than a wolf; heck, you more likely to be attacked by bees, for that matter.

    McNay, M. E. (2002). Wolf-Human Interactions in Alaska and Canada: A Review of the Case History. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 30(3), 831-843.

  97. avatar JB says:

    By the way, I deeply resent being compared with a holocaust denier because I disagree with you regarding the risk of being attacked by wolves–especially when your evidence comes from Reader’s Digest.

  98. avatar JB says:

    And to summarize the Linnell et al. (2002) publication referenced by Ralph (above):

    “By far the vast majority of global wolf research has occurred in North America, so…it should be expected that wolf attacks on people should be particularly well documented from this region. However, it appears there have been relatively few wolf attacks…The result of this entire enquiry has been the edition of only one minor incident. The fact that individual aggressive encounters with wolves…are considered worthy of publication in the scientific literature is an indication of the rarity of such events…The most persuasive argument for the rarity of wolf attacks on people is that good statistics exist for attacks by black bears, grizzly bears, coyote, and mountain lions…It is unlikely that a high profile species like the wolf will have a greater reporting bias than these other species” (p. 28).

    Again, here’s the link: http://www.nina.no/archive/nina/PppBasePdf/oppdragsmelding/2002/731.pdf

  99. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    I should stop walking my dogs across 200 acres which have been my families land since the 1870s then, it is surrounded by National Forest, and is at the base of Archie Mountain.

    I Have been visited by wolves on the property, and on national forest lands in the last eight years more times than bees or bears in fifty one years. I also repaired the fence where the wolves blew 19 horses through it.. Never even had a bear do that one in my life before.

    Took me three days to round em back up, those rotten horses were stealing public grass, I don’t understand why those unloyal traitor horses wanted that dry old public grass over my rich wet and bright green grass..

    I’m buying a head camera this week, I’m hoping no more undocumented visits by wolves on our property, or while out camping can be scoffed as invention and gossip. I understand no one in this nation is credible, we all fabricate things we see.. Not me.

    On the ground in the Sawtooth’s.

  100. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    I should stop walking my dogs across 200 acres which have been my families land since the 1870s then, it is surrounded by National Forest, and is at the base of Archie Mountain.

    I Have been visited by wolves on the property, and on national forest lands in the last eight years more times than bees or bears in fifty one years. Those wolf critters sure are curious animals, quite a bit more than bears and cougars are. I also repaired the fence where the wolves blew 19 horses through it.. Never even had a bear do that one in my life before.

    Took me three days to round em back up, those rotten horses were stealing public grass, I don’t understand why those non loyal traitor horses wanted that dry old public grass over my rich wet and bright green grass..

    I’m buying a head camera this week, I’m hoping no more undocumented visits by wolves on our property, or while out camping can be scoffed as invention and gossip. I understand no one in this nation is credible, we all fabricate things we see.. Not me.

    On the ground in the Sawtooth’s.

  101. This thread is playing trivial pursuits. I’m outa here.

  102. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Can’t stand the heat eh?

  103. avatar Ken Cole says:

    SR25Stoner,
    Who here says they don’t believe your story? This is the first I’ve heard you mention it.

  104. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Ken,

    For years I also disagreed with IDFG about what I see in these units here concerning elk numbers and why their in decline. And when sharing my views on this topic everyone jumps to IDFG herd estimations and said your just a wolf hater, ok. Now the IDFG comes out and agrees with us wolf haters, and now the same folks are calling foul on IDFG for doing this to. And then the wolf visits all the time, whats up with that ? And then why all the excuses for the wolf ?

    I want video, video can not be refuted. People see things taking place out here and they are called wolf haters and biased hunters and such. In my experience when the wolves come around it happens so fast I can’t get my camera in action to prove they came to pester me.

    By pester I mean it is a big jungle out there what is so fascinating about me? My horses must be it, no horses around I rarely see them wolves around. We need to video these exchanges. Then folks in New York City, Utah, Seattle, can realize the wolves are off the wilderness area.

    I have made a lot of changes around here, for example my dog is my prisoner now, and I never let them horses out of my sight any longer. And the elk around here, still have the same herd coming in here, what is left of them.

    I see some very real problems and issues which are completely ignored, even scoffed..I figure video might change that. Doubt it, but all these onlookers from afar know my yard better than me it appears.. I find this concept fascinating.

    The one video the man shared of the two bow hunters shows a very common event around these parts. Why are these wolves slinking around me to while I am hiking to my lake to fish ? Sure, when I face off with them they leave, and there is no dog with me. And this nonsense about ” Well their just looking to see what you are ” bs, They smelled where I walked and knew what I are long before they came within twenty feet of me for a look see.

    I’ll keep going fishing and when they finally get around to chewing on me then you guys can analyze what it was caused it. Salmon eggs maybe.

    I did take a woman from the Wood River Valley out into the Franck Church, she wanted to see for herself these visits, She loves wolves, she also will never go in there again..

    You guys figure it out.

  105. avatar jerryB says:

    Stoner…….video can be a “double-edged sword”….useful for both sides of the argument.
    I’d like for the folks in NYC and Seattle to witness some aerial gunning of wolves.
    I’m headed out the door to interact with some elk…yup, we still have a few here in Montana.

  106. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    SR25 on your 7:24 am post,

    And your experiences, like many other wolf related chases/experimentations/attacks or whatever one wants to call them never make it to the published statistics. So, for analysis purposes these do not get counted because there is no “injury” to person or property as defined by the regulators, and should be. You expended time, effort and maybe incurred $ cost in rounding up stock and repairing fence.

    I came across a writing of Dr. Valerius Geist, a noted Canadian elk scholar formerly at the University of Calgary. He knows a bit about wolves too. He wrote an essay specifically on his experiences with the wolves of Vancouver Island. The essay, unfortunately resides on an anti-wolf website so I will not post the reference here. Dr. Geist, who some pro-wolf advocates find divisive is, in fact, a respected scientist and acute observer, whose name is sometimes used in the same sentence as Aldo Leupold. If one uses the search terms “Geist wolves Vancouver Island” I believe the site will come up among the results.

  107. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    What does Alaskan state government approved aerial gunning have to do with Idaho ? Or anything I said ? Yup, we still got a few elk here to.

    But something has to give some day, and I think it is me and my lifestyle. I know when I am being pushed out, and I know when I am being prey tested.

    I find a lot of credibility here, and I find disnifo as well, just like every where, eat the meat spit out the bones.

    Val Geist has a lot of credibility from where I am standing, In the Idaho Sawtooth’s, Not Australia, Seattle, New York, nor Utah..

  108. avatar Anne Gilbert says:

    Ralph:

    Like I said elsewhere, the moment wolf reintroduction is proposed anywhere, the alarm cry about dead children rises up. It did in the Sequim area, when wolf reintroduction was proposed in Olympic National Park. Yeah. Fear mongers all right. They just come crawling out of the woodwork at times like these.
    Anne G

  109. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    I hardly would call a deep respect for the intelligence, strategy, and power of a wolf pack fear mongering. Wolves prey test people, I have been prey tested several times by them, chased them away from horses tied out on high lines, watched them follow me around constantly for miles, rode horse back pulling a string of four behind me, in the dark and the howling is all around us while traveling. You can call it what ever you wish to call it, or believe what you have read concerning the behaviorism of wolves, I am experiencing it first hand. I recommend you go into these places, (Sulpher Creek) Several area’s in unit 43, and enjoy them, their obviously as harmless as cougars and bears are, statistically speaking.

  110. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    SR25Stoner,

    Have your experiences been different when on foot or on horseback with a string? Daytime or darkness? And, if so, in what ways? Any discouragement of them if you made noises?

  111. Stoner and Muse (and others),

    What would be nice is if someone like Carter Niemeyer or others who are out with wolves very frequently, who have trapped them, handled them, shot them, studied them, and so on, to see what their experiences were.

    Were they ever “prey tested,” chased, etc. In general what kind of behavior did a wolf or pack show them up close when they were alone, or with a group of people, a pack string, on foot?

  112. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Great idea, Ralph!

  113. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    I back pack into the same places and I rarely see them, hear them, and see their tracks and scat . With the horses it is a totally different story. I stopped taking the dog a long time ago, I am not giving up my horse to. I believe we are habituating them to ourselves.

    When I first enter the area with my horses, usually alone, just myself and the horses, the first couple days the wolves stay out about 100 yards, and bark or howl, I have also heard some type of fighting take place amongst them, very mild correctional type fighting it seems to me.

    By day three and beyond their coming right into the camp, darting in and out type of activity, very interested in the horses, I seem to scare them off. We don’t run, so I think this messes with their heads a bit. The Tennessee Walkers just lay down their ears and face off with them.

    Eventually, if this continues every time myself or others frequent back country there will be and incident. And in all honesty it gets annoying after awhile. Not really enjoying the peace and serenity of the place. I also take a guard to, basically a camp sitter, while I hike, fish or hunt.

    Several people I know flat out refuse to go any longer. It’s just to much trouble, nothing like cougars or bears. Nothing. And it is not fear, it is just aggravation. I myself will never surrender ever..

  114. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Adjusted first paragraph

    I back pack into the same places and I rarely see them, I do hear them, and see their tracks and scat . With the horses it is a totally different story. I stopped taking the dog a long time ago, I am not giving up my horse to. I believe we are habituating them to ourselves.

  115. avatar Anne Gilbert says:

    SR25Stoner:

    Where have you read or observed that wolves “prey test” people? Usually, people don’t encounter a whole pack, unless they are professionals, studying them. At least not that I know of. Of course, I can’t say I know “everything”, by any means.
    Anne G

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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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