Hunt will begin in four Montana Wilderness Areas and two more Idaho areas-

Although the Idaho wolf hunt has got all the attention, Montana’s hunt begins on a limited basis Sept. 15.  It will be in the Bob Marshall complex of Wilderness areas and the Beartooth Wilderness immediately north of Yellowstone Park.

Idaho’s hunt is currently open only in two hunting areas, but the Selway and Middle Fork hunting units open Sept. 15. The rest of Idaho will open on Oct. 1.

So far about 3500 wolf tags have been sold in Montana compared to about 11,000 in Idaho.

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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.

152 Responses to Montana wolf hunt begins tomorrow, Sept. 15

  1. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Ralph and others – In addition to Montana’s hunts that start tomorrow, Idaho has two new hunts that start tomorrow in the Middle Fork and Selway Zones. Those wolf management zones include big game management units 20A, 26, 27, 16A, 17, 19, and 20. Those are all back-country remote areas with general, any weapon deer and elk hunts also beginning on the 15th.

  2. avatar John d. says:

    Considering that Montana’s desired number is 75, the number of tags sold is unsettling.

  3. avatar Save bears says:

    John,

    What does it matter how many tags are sold, as long as the hunters stick to the rules and report their kills, there is a quota, when the quota is met, then the season will be shut down..there are many here that make far to much of how many tags are sold, there is a quota, period end of story..the extra tag sales go into the fund for wildlife management and nobody bitches about it..

    When a quota is set, that is the legally allowable animals killed by law and it does not matter how many tags are sold.

  4. avatar Save bears says:

    To put it into a bit of perspective, how many people around the country, buy a lottery ticket? Every week, And how many win?

  5. avatar John d. says:

    Save bears,
    My point being there must be a lot of people who bear grudges.

  6. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    It will be interesting to hear how Montana’s hunt goes, if it gets the attention Idaho’s has.

  7. avatar Mark in ID says:

    I have an ID wolf tag and I don’t bear a grudge against anyone or anything. I bought the tag, as did my co-workers, simply to show support for the ability an freedom to hunt wolves in Idaho. I have a cougar tag but have never seen one in the wild nor do I seriously believe that I would fill it. The majority of ID tag holders likely share my view. Tag sale numbers can be deceiving. The chances of the quotas being filled, or even close to being filled are very slim, as any hunter would know.

  8. avatar BrianTT says:

    “My point being there must be a lot of people who bear grudges.”

    Or maybe just a lot of people who are showing their support for state management. I’ve got my tag.

  9. avatar Save bears says:

    John,

    I am sure there is, based on what I have heard around the region in my travels…there are a lot of people out there that hate wolves, not because they know any science behind re-introduction, but because that is the way they were raised, lets get these two hunting seasons over with and then evaluate how many were right or wrong..there is no way, that Idaho and Montana are going to put the population in that much jeopardy. Once the seasons are over, then we will have actual data to put forth more informed information…if it does not work, then it would not be a problem, if it does work, then it won’t be a problem. But until such time as we have the data, everything is pure speculation..and the judges, the environmental groups the game managers, can’t make an informed choice on the next step!

  10. avatar John d. says:

    Brian

    Showing support for state management? Last time I checked the reason for hunting wolves was to save elk/moose/deer/their babies/livestock/children and kill some killers because thems is bad and illegal. A nicer approach would be to allow tolerance and respect for wolves to flourish as a ‘game’ animal. There is absolutely no respect for wolves when hunted and you can’t expect tolerance just because they get shot, that will only increase the notion that it is noble to kill one because the state agrees that wolves deserve to die for taking from ungulate herds.

    As for your tag, *it tells a lot about your knowledge of predator ecology

    *please note: sarcasm

  11. avatar BrianTT says:

    Do you live in Idaho John? If you do you should know that the wolf has more than “flourished” as a game animal. The hunting season is not just designed to save prey, it is designed to control population numbers to allow a balance between predator and prey. We would be wasting each other’s time to argue about it though since we will never agree on anything. We obviously come from vastly different cultures and upbringings.

  12. avatar Don says:

    As sad as it may be, the Wolf population has to and needs to be controlled. Deer and Elk populations (this being the main food source for wolves) have been controlled for a very long time, keeping their numbers to a bare minimum so we humans can live in harmony with them, now that we have started living and working in what used to be, their homes.

    If, lets say, Humans would go back to the main cities to live, we eliminated cattle and sheep grazing from the factor, and stop all farming and ranching in wildlife habitat, then Deer and Elk could populate as nature allows. However, this is not the case.
    In order to maintain a healthy balance, Wolf populations need to be controlled as well, like all the other animals we humans seem to think are a nescience to our progress. It would not be beneficial or healthy for the wolves, or for anything and anyone else in this mix to allow one species to populate un-checked, while keeping others to a minimum, especially the Wolves food source.

    Hunting tags are a good source of revenue for the states selling them. They not only benefit the state government directly, they also help the economies in and around the areas that are to be hunted. Like all the other game animals’ tags are sold for, only a small number of the tags are actually filled by the hunters that bought them. This is not a “slaughter of Wolves” by any stretch of the imagination, but a healthy way to maintain a balance of species. Sure, it would be great if the Wolves and their food sources could grow in great numbers, but in today’s world, this cannot be. As long as one species is controlled, so must all others be, or the balance of what is left of nature becomes drastically unstable.

  13. avatar josh sutherland says:

    John D. lives in Australia.

  14. avatar John d. says:

    Balance does not mean kill predators so hunters have more ‘valued’ prey to hunt, nor does it mean shoot predators because they get in our way when it comes to development of any kind.

  15. avatar Ryan says:

    From what I have read, if you kill any animal, John d. is most likely to get his britches in a bunch. If you keep that in mind, its easier not to get sucked into a circular arguement that will eventually go no where and end in name calling.

  16. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Balance does not mean kill predators so hunters have more ‘valued’ prey to hunt, nor does it mean shoot predators because they get in our way when it comes to development of any kind.

    This is the kind of mentality that needs to be changed.

  17. avatar Save bears says:

    Prowolf,

    I am sure it will be in time, but right now, I am not so sure, changing mentality takes generations….things will change in the future, but right now, this needs to happen, before we have the data required to say if we were right or wrong…humans are well known for destroying anything in their way…

  18. avatar John d. says:

    Ryan

    Ironic coming from a person who kills practically anything that draws breath and you are incorrect.

  19. avatar Layton says:

    Just WHERE is Ryan incorrect John d,??

    Ryan said: ” if you kill any animal, John d. is most likely to get his britches in a bunch.”

    From what I have seen of your writings on this blog, he is 100% correct. Have I missed something??

  20. avatar John d. says:

    Layton,

    I do remember stating I have no concerns over those who hunt for food, I also remember stating that I have friends who hunt deer and I feel its getting extremely personal all of a sudden.

  21. avatar josh sutherland says:

    John D,

    You just have sensitive feelings… 🙂 All joking aside, John from the conversations you and I have had in the past, I know you would never suppor any sort of wolf hunt, regardless of the circumstances, so I would have to agree with Ryan, it would be a circular argument that would end up nowhere. I dont hunt elk or coyotes or anything because I have a “grudge” I dont get that comment.

    Can you explain?

  22. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Save bears, I think you are right, but there need to be more aggressive education attempts. I hope years from now I can laugh with my grandchildren about this outdated thinking.

  23. avatar John d. says:

    Josh

    You’re right and I still don’t agree with a wolf hunt or any predator hunt in general because the justifications behind them are fundamentally flawed. Grudges include: killing of elk, killing of livestock, killing of pets and just plain because they are wolves. The solution sought is a bullet and that doesn’t solve either the depredation nor quell the negative attitude – even if it is conveyed in a pessimistic manner.

    Forgive me for not mentioning the ‘because I can’ sentiment which is far worse for the reputation of hunters and hunting, particularly when the animal being targeted is killed for entertainment purposes only.

  24. avatar John d. says:

    Correction: passive

  25. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    because I can

    That gives anti-hunters more fuel than probably anything else. People use that as a justification for shooting anything. People in Wyoming shoot coyotes simply for that reason, and possibly because it is like a duty. I have seen more people who see coyotes when they don’t have a gun and pretend they are shooting it.

  26. avatar josh sutherland says:

    John d,

    Like I mentioned, we have had this discussion before. Its hard to argue with you over predator hunting, if I remeber correctly you argued with me extensivley that wolves can and have raised children in the wild and you believed that whole heartedly…. SO having any sort of argument about wolf hunting will just end in the same result with us not agreeing…

    Oh the hunts are fundamentally flawed to you, thats your opinion and your entitled to it.. they are not flawed to thousands of other individuals, and they are entitled to that opinion also. Any killing of a wolf is fundamentally flawed to you, so of course there would be no justification that you would agree with.

  27. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    if I remeber correctly you argued with me extensivley that wolves can and have raised children in the wild

    Josh, that has happened before. I think there was a case in the 1920s in India.

  28. avatar John d. says:

    Josh

    “Any killing of a wolf is fundamentally flawed to you, so of course there would be no justification that you would agree with.”

    In defence of life: in other words when a wolf attacks with intent to kill.

  29. avatar josh sutherland says:

    Prowolf,

    I have read second hand accounts from 100 years ago in a third world country.. It would not happen, a child would die from exposure even in the middle of summer. Let alone from parasites and diseases from eating raw meat and drinking from unclean water sources.

    John d… What if his intent is not to kill? What if he just wants to maim you? How long does one have to wait before he can know for sure that the wolf is trying to kill him? Like I have mentioned before, I dont put wolves, elk, deer, moose or any other animal and say that is the only animal we will not manage or hunt.. Things have changed since the wild wild west John..

  30. avatar josh sutherland says:

    John d. one quick question though? You question the science, the fundamentals and the motives and all aspects of a wolf hunt, and you want answers to them.. like if you had the answers you would be accepting a wolf hunt based on those questions?!? But regardless of any science or any sort of answer or changes in practice you would not want a wolf hunt at all?? So why even argue with you when you are way left wing and will not budge or compromise?

  31. avatar Cobra says:

    John d,
    In defense of life:
    Is that human life or does it pertain to pets and livestock also. Just curious.

  32. avatar John d. says:

    Josh

    Its quite simple, believe it or not wolves have their ways of communicating. Intent to maim? If a wolf wants you dead it will kill you.
    And I really have to laugh when you say that no animal is left unmanaged: the bald eagle is one of them and there are a number of other animals deemed to be non-game.

  33. avatar John d. says:

    Cobra,
    I was speaking specifically of human lives. However, livestock and pets would be protected if the persons who keep them practice proper animal husbandry and use some common sense.

    Josh,
    I know enough to understand that hunting apex predators is a mistake both ecologically and ethically.

  34. avatar josh sutherland says:

    John d. thats my point, and there are others with alot more knowledge than you that say we should hunt wolves and other apex predators. So who is right? There have been many experts, Including the Carter gentleman that Ralph had write an essay that said the wolves would be just fine from a wolf hunt, I feel he would probably know more than you or I? Dont you think, if you are strictly going from a ethical or moral point, then that argument can go on forever. I dont think its morally wrong to shoot a wolf, you do. Prove me wrong?? You cant because its just a matter of opinion….. Endless circle.

  35. avatar josh sutherland says:

    And eagle and a wolf is not really a good comparison……

  36. Most animals are left unmanaged. They are the small ones, which in total can have enormous effects. . . an evolutionary strategy to deal with humans is to get small and multiply fast.

  37. avatar John d. says:

    Josh,

    I’m not the only one who thinks this way. The concept that apex predators “need to be managed” is due to the concept that their impact on ‘game’ herds is to be considered a negative instead of beneficial to other organisms and plant species. This concept was what eliminated the vast majority of the initial population of grey wolves in the lower 48 – not to mention the influence of the livestock industry played. Now its the same ideal albeit marginally diluted with a euphemism.

    Wolf hunting is ecologically unwarranted because the population of large predators, such as grey wolves, is controlled by the availability of prey, smaller litters are born when prey is less abundant and larger when prey is more abundant (Eli Geffen, 1996 from Spirit of the Wild Dog, Chapter 6: Sex and Reproduction, p.111). The wolves of Isle Royale also provide insight against the hunting of wolves. While it is a simplified ecosystem, the wolves have never wiped out their prey on the island.

  38. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Ralph, John d. – all species are managed in one way or another. If society and the management agencies responsible for stewarding those resources have objectives for a species, whether that includes hunting or not, and takes actions to achieve those objectives – each of those species is “managed”. Restricting hunting, habitat protection or manipulation and other actions are examples of wildlife management. This ongoing argument about “management” (sometimes invoked as a pejorative) of wildlife is more about the type of management or management objective, than it is that wildlife (non-game species included) are in fact managed.

  39. avatar Ryan says:

    Its getting predictable now, you call somebody out on thier anti-hunting animal rights stance, then all of a sudden have “friends” that hunt for food and have no issue with it, yet their comments previous comments on nearly all occasions go in direct conflict with their new found stance.

    I don’t hate bears, yet I still hunt and eat them, don’t hate cats yet I still hunt and eat them. Don’t hate coyotes, yet I still hunt them and sell hides when the value is there. Its funny, when you get into the predator hunting scene, there is rarely any “hate or Grudges” thrown around instead most have respect for their quarry. Its a veritable quandry that most do not understand.

  40. I haven’t commented on this.

    It is a bit unusual to find someone who eats bear and cougar meat, although I did eat cougar myself once. It was kind like greasy pork.

  41. avatar Save bears says:

    I eat bear, if you know how to cook it, it is quite tasty, I have eaten cougar meat, but was not much to my liking, but I have a very good friend, that loves it, I don’t hunt cougars and would only kill one if it meant life or death…

    Eating meats only takes the knowledge of how to prepare them correctly, each type of meat has a certain way it needs to be processed, aged and cooked to get the best out of it.

    A lot also depends on what it was feeding on, what time of year it was taken, what physical condition was the animal in.

    Pretty much any mammal can be used for food by humans, some just make a choice to not eat certain species.

  42. avatar Ryan says:

    There both actually very good, cougar is a bit stringy, but very mild flavored. Bears when they are on grass or berrys are delicious, one of my all time favorites. They make great sausage, roasts, and jerky. A bear that has been eating carrion or dead fish is no bueno though. Bobcat, cougar, and beaver were favorites of the early trappers.

  43. avatar BrianTT says:

    Spring Bear meat is among my favorite wild game. To me it is similar to very lean pork. I have never eaten or hunted cougars but know people who do eat them.

  44. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Ralph,

    Eating bear is not unusual at all, although I suspect less prevalent than in the past. Most black bears in the West are primarily herbivores. I have eaten it a variety of ways many years ago (a unique flavor some parts fatty others quite dry), Smoked bear ham is quite good. I suspect it is/was eaten by Native Americans too, although some tribes may not have due to spiritual beliefs. Of course, bear grease, hide, claws and teeth had many functional uses. And, then there is the Asian trade in bear gall and other body parts with reputed medicinal properties.

    Never had cougar, but might try once.

  45. avatar JEFF E says:

    cougar is not bad smoked. Historical legend is that it was considered quite good by many tribes/early trappers.
    Bear was somewhat sought after in the fall due to it’s high fat content which was a necessity for the long winter months.

  46. avatar AMMT says:

    BrianTT,

    You need to read the study presented by the Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation where despite elk predation by wolves, the herds in both wolf kill states continue to grow.

    Rest assurd, the wolf hunts in both ID and MT have nothing to do with population balances and everything to do with revenge killing based on fear and ignorance.

  47. avatar Jay says:

    Dog was a delicacy among native Americans (from what I’ve read)…I’d be curious if they ate the wolves they killed too? I don’t see any reason they wouldn’t…

  48. avatar Ryan says:

    AMMT,

    Actually if you read the unit by unit population surveys, it is a yin and yang, Elk populations are gowing in areas where they are causing ag predations etc, but declining in some units were wolf predation is a major factor.

  49. avatar gline says:

    have you read that Native Americans cherished the wolf jay?

  50. avatar JEFF E says:

    gline,
    I would encourage that native Americans not be painted as somehow one people/tribe which have the same beliefs/values across the board. Even historically that is not accurate and even less so today.

  51. avatar Ryan says:

    Gline,

    Respected or not, they still killed them and used them as they did every animal.

  52. avatar John d. says:

    Ryan

    Drop the attitude. I have my reasons to be against predator hunting and you should know why well by now.

  53. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    The wolves of Isle Royale also provide insight against the hunting of wolves. While it is a simplified ecosystem, the wolves have never wiped out their prey on the island.

    Why can’t anyone acknowledge that? And also, if someone is using the argument that Isle Royale is different, please explain how this predator prey relationship is so much different than the Northern Rockies.

  54. avatar josh sutherland says:

    Pro wolf,

    Is hunting of moose allowed on the island?

  55. avatar Cris Waller says:

    No. There is no hunting of any kind on Isle Royale; it’s a National Park.

  56. avatar John d. says:

    Mark,

    If the purpose of this hunt is to meet a selected population size objective with the ambition that it will relieve pressure on both game herds and the qualms of certain individuals, why do places such as Minnesota lack this hunt when the state has considerably more wolves and yet still boasts a healthy herd? More so if Idaho Fish and Game proclaims to be good stewards, why are there still stories of grossly overweight child killing herd destroying “Canadian wolves” lurking about when this is clearly not the case?

  57. avatar bob jackson says:

    Mark G.

    Wouldn’t it be more correct to say,” State G&F agencies manage PEOPLE, not the wildlife”. At least I would hope this is the case because then there is at least some hope….. they are showing some level of success in their mission and goals.

  58. avatar Ryan says:

    John D.
    Why don’t you go ask someone in Minnesota why they do what they do, for a man asking someone to drop the tude, your snarky comments sure make it hard to.

  59. avatar josh sutherland says:

    John d,

    First off MN has like some odd 1.5 million deer. Whitetails reproduce like rabbits. Very different than elk. Also you know that the size difference from MN wolves and the Rockie Mtns is pretty considerable. The average female in MN is 60 lbs and the average male is 70-90 lbs. Alot smaller than the wolves in ID, MT and WY. Hence their success on smaller more agile prey like deer vs elk. JMO

    I dont think its the IFG that is proclaiming those stories so I dont know what your talking about. Maybe your talking about Ron Gillette…

  60. avatar John d. says:

    Ryan,

    Nice use of ad hominem.

  61. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Also you know that the size difference from MN wolves and the Rockie Mtns is pretty considerable.

    Josh, there is not that much size difference between Canis lupus nubilis and Canis lupis occidentalis. The Northern Rockies population is perfectly capable of catching deer and the Great Lakes population is perfectly capable of catching moose.

  62. avatar josh sutherland says:

    Prowolf,

    Maybe so but there is almost a 30 percent size difference. Thats a pretty big difference for an animal. I am just saying that the larger wolfves would obviously have a better chance of killing larger prey like buff and elk.

    If I remember correctly the average size of a female in the Rockies is like 80 lbs and the average male is around 100 lbs. That is quite alot larger than the average MN wolf. I could be wrong on the weights of the wolves in ID though.

  63. Josh,

    I think size of wolves is less important than the size of the prey. It is my impression, and I think I read it in Mech and ?? handbook, that with bigger prey, the wolves form bigger packs. 60-70 pound wolves don’t take bison; but they do take elk with equal facility as 90-110 pound wolves.

  64. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    bob jackson – state f&g/g&f agencies manage people and wildlife. Agencies manipulate wildlife numbers with hunting/fishing seasons, harvest limits, age restrictions, etc. People (human activity) is managed with those restrictions in addition to age participation limitations, gear restictions (firearms, atv’s, fishing gear, etc.). Both are necessary to accomplish wildlife management objectives for public desires. Agencies have always had and always will have more control regulating human behavior than regulating animal populations.

  65. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    John d. – you asked: “If the purpose of this hunt is to meet a selected population size objective with the ambition that it will relieve pressure on both game herds and the qualms of certain individuals, why do places such as Minnesota lack this hunt when the state has considerably more wolves and yet still boasts a healthy herd? More so if Idaho Fish and Game proclaims to be good stewards, why are there still stories of grossly overweight child killing herd destroying “Canadian wolves” lurking about when this is clearly not the case?”

    Minnesota doesn’t have the elk – wolf population dynamic Idaho has. Wildlife species, habitat, habitat productivity are all different factors that make their wolf management issues quite different than those the western states (Idaho) are faced with. Minnesota also has a very different dynamic with their livestock industry and they don’t have a similar public lands grazing situation comparable to western states.
    I don’t think state or federal agencies have described “stories of grossly overweight child killing herd destroying “Canadian wolves” lurking about….”. We do have conclusive documentation of wolf predation reducing elk production and recruitment significantly below levels capable of being supported by current habitat conditions and higher levels of human harvest than we can allow with current levels of wolf predation – for the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones in Idaho. That conflict with elk predation by wolves is one of the significant differences between Minnesota and the western states. The Lola and Sawtooth Zone situations are also examples of why there can be very important wolf predation impacts on elk herds, even though elk populations as a whole in western states continue to do well. I don’t believe that either the states or the federal government has said that all public benefits of the elk resources in MT, WY and ID are at risk of wolf predation.

  66. avatar Bonnie says:

    I don’t know about Minnesota, but let’s throw some Wisconsin information into the mix. Wisconsin has about the same population density of wolves (0.010 per sq mi) vs Idaho with 0.12 per sq mi. Prior to 1995 elk were extinct in Wisconsin (the last one was killed in the 1880s). In 1995 25 elk were reintroduced to northern Wisconsin and located right smack in the middle of wolf territory. Last winter they counted 134 elk, but wolves killed 3. This spring state game officials estimate approximately 40 calves were born with 8 known mortalities. Of those eight, 4 were killed by bears, 3 died of unknown causes, and 1 of a natural accident – no known wolf mortalities. Apparently the 15 packs that inhabit this area didn’t know they were supposed to kill all the elk. In 14 years, the elk population has increased almost 600%. Wisconsin does not have an elk hunting season (for obvious reasons) and they also don’t have open range so that the elk are having to compete with cattle and sheep for their food.

    I don’t pretend to be a scientist, but this seems to indicate to me that there are other factors involved in the declining elk populations in some areas. I’m not saying that wolves don’t contribute to the problem, but trying to single them out as the culprits is overly simplistic.

  67. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Bonnie – you are correct that there are multiple factors determining how many elk the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones can sustain. Habitat and predation (wolves and human) are two of the most important factors. We have the benefit of very good radio telemetry data that allows us to say, very accurately, how many cow and calf elk are killed by wolves. We also know, with a high degree of certainty, what elk production and recruitment was before wolves were reintroduced to those areas (very recently) and therefore what numbers of elk existing habitat (previous levels of hunting) was capable of supporting. Elk predation by wolves is a new component of elk mortality that has reduced elk production (calves born) and recruitment (calves that survive to reproductive maturity) significantly below the numbers habitat and previous levels of hunting were capable of sustaining. The wolf predation of elk we see today has required the IDFG to substantially reduce elk hunting opportunity. This is a real and significant conflict between wolves and other important wildlife resources in those geographic areas of the state.

  68. avatar jerryB says:

    Mark G IDFG…..trying to track down your answer to my questions from previous posts.

    jerryB Says:
    September 15, 2009 at 1:12 PM
    Mark…..OK then. But, I’m still asking WHY not delay a hunt for a few years to iron out these differences of biological and social constraints and desires.
    Aren’t public attitudes and public opinion worth anything?Are elk more important than other wildlife? Are you listening to only ranchers and hunters?
    Please explain the Public Trust Doctrine and how it fits into wildlife management.
    Why the rush to kill wolves as soon as they were delisted without at least attempting to resolve these issues beforehand.

  69. avatar jerryB says:

    Mark G IDFG
    Here’s the comment you made that prompted my questions.

    Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:
    September 15, 2009 at 11:37 AM
    jerryB – the management issues in Minnesota are different from Idaho’s by not having the wolf-elk interactions we experience; Minnesota’s livestock industry is quite different that Idaho’s (public lands grazing being a big difference; public attitudes and values towards wolves are a few differences. I’m sure there are more. My point about differences is simply that wildlife management encompases a host of biological and social opportunities, constraints, desires. Any two states will significantly differ in their wildlife management dynamic. Minnesota certainly has a different suite of social and biological issues to manage than any of the western states do and vice versa,

  70. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    jerryB – You asked: “WHY not delay a hunt for a few years to iron out these differences of biological and social constraints and desires.
    Aren’t public attitudes and public opinion worth anything?Are elk more important than other wildlife? Are you listening to only ranchers and hunters?
    Please explain the Public Trust Doctrine and how it fits into wildlife management.
    Why the rush to kill wolves as soon as they were delisted without at least attempting to resolve these issues beforehand.

    You’re questions are relevent and fair. Public attitudes and opinions are the foundation for all public policy. Your questions address Fish and Game Commission deliberations, decisions and actions so my answers are an attempt to explain Commissions positions. The Commission or Commissioners might provide a different answer(s). I believe that the Commission has in fact heard and understands the diversity of public opinions, desires and preferences and has take all into account with the decisions the Commission has made. JB and I covered this ground several times in previous threads. I made the point then that there is an important distinction between being heard and having or not having your preferences or perspective carry the day with a particular Commission decision. The reality is that wolf management is complex and contentious and no matter what the Commissions decision, there will be a significant segment of the public who will be dissatisfied with those decisions, regardless of the thoroughness of testimony and deliberations of same. Inherent in your questions is an assumption that taking an additional 5 years (beyond the 20 years that we have been discussing/debating these issues leading up to and after the reintroductions) to further discuss and debate would yield a stronger consensus among a polarized public. I believe the Commission has taken into account all values and points of view and made a good faith effort to approve for implementation a sound wolf managment program that meets all requirements of the ESA to maintain the current delisted status and to also satisfy the diversity of public desires and demands for wolf management in Idaho.
    I understand that many folks see the current hunts as rushed management actions, but there are also many who believe these actions are overdue. The Department and Commission believe these are measured, conservative management actions to achieve appropriate wolf population objectives that balance the diverse public desires and expectations we have received since wolf restoration efforts began over 20 years ago.
    Elk are important in the same way wolves and other Idaho wildlife species are important. They are all part of the Idaho wildlife legacy we enjoy and are responsible to steward for future generations. Managing wolves for more elk does not mean that elk are more important than wolves. The Idaho wolf management plan is designed to manage for a balance of wolves as a top predator to allow for an optimal number of elk to meet public desires for the benefits wolves and elk provide to human society. Those benefits include ecosystem health, and public opportunities to view wolves and elk and hunt wolves and elk. These objectives are bound in the concept of wildlife as a resource with great value to our society.
    The Public Trust Doctrine, as I understand it (and I don’t pretend to be a legal scholar), is a constitutional precept we inherit, founded in Roman Justinian and English Magna Carta common law. Fundamentally, it makes the states (i.e. state governments) responsible to hold in trust public resources such as water and wildlife for the benefit of the public (state citizensA). But there is much latitude in HOW those resources may be managed/used to be consistent with the consistent with Public Trust Doctrine responsibilities. For this discussion – wolf management – I see no conflict between either the Idaho wolf management plan and the Public Trust Doctrine. The public is not denied access to or enjoyment of this common trust resource – wolves. In fact, the state wolf management plan ensures that wolves will continue to be an integral part of the Idaho landscape and wildlife heritage for present and future generations.

  71. avatar JB says:

    “… there is an important distinction between being heard and having or not having your preferences or perspective carry the day with a particular Commission decision.”

    Yes; in the latter your voice is given some weight in management decisions, while in the former it is simply ignored.

    Mark, I certainly appreciate your efforts at outreach on this blog and I appreciate the fact that IDF&G sought public input on its wolf management plan. However, what you fail to grasp is that all these efforts are for naught if a significant portion of the public (stakeholders, in F&G parlance) believe their input was ignored. Note, I’m not saying that IDF&G did not listen to, hear, or consider the input it received from nonconsumptive users of wildlife, only that their ACTIONS (the important part) suggest that the desires of these nonconsumptive users were ignored/dismissed/not acted upon.

    This type of decision-making strategy is typical of a wildlife management agency seeking to involve the public, but not really sure how to go about it. Some have called it the “invite, inform, and ignore” style of decision making (see Daniels & Walker, 2001). Question: Even if you believe that a commission of older, white, male, hunters can legitimately represent the interests of a much, much, much more diverse group of people, do you really believe that people not in this exclusive group will perceive they are being represented–especially after their input is considered, and ignored?

    Daniels, S. E., & Walker, G. B. (2001). Working through environmental conflict. Westport: Praeger.

  72. avatar Cris Waller says:

    Mark-
    “Managing wolves for more elk does not mean that elk are more important than wolves.”

    It does, however, mean that consumptive needs are being seen as more important than maintaining a healthy, naturally balanced ecosystem. It does mean that hunter demands drive wildlife management, not what is best for the ecosystem or the species involved. It does promote the archaic viewpoint that wildlife only has value as far as its ability to provide “recreation” for humans; itdoesn’t have intrinsic value of its own.

    “Those benefits include ecosystem health, and public opportunities to view wolves and elk”
    If this is so, why is there not one unit in the entire state of Idaho closed to wolf hunting? If learning how wolf hunting affects wolves and their prey is important, then why no closed area to serve as a control? If non-consumptive use is viewed as valuable, why no closed areas where wolf tourism could take place? Given these facts, it’s hard to take the claim that nonconsumptive use is important very seriously.

  73. avatar JEFF E says:

    Cris Weller, well said.
    Expect smoke and mirrors reply.

  74. avatar jerryB says:

    Chris….good point “why no closed areas to wolf hunting where tourism could take place”.
    Mark (IDFG)…I’m not sure you grasp the frustration of those who question the motives of IDFG, the Commissioners, and their counterparts in Montana. I can tell you…the average person who is not affiliated with a “special interest group” such as the livestock industry, the outfitting industry, hunters or trappers are becoming outraged that they’re not being heard.
    To give you an example from Montana. We have an “effective” population of 34-36 wolverines in Montana, yet the commission and FWP still allows trapping. I requested, under the public disclosure law, all 135 written comments submitted to the commission. Of those 135 comments, some from very knowledgeable biologists, only ONE was supportive of continued wolverine trapping. Once again a “special interest group”, the Montana Trappers Assoc. ruled.
    Examples like this are why G&F agencies and Commissions are not trusted to represent ALL the people of the state and are not trusted to manage wildlife based on “best science”.
    Shutting out concerned citizens and making decisions based on groups such as the livestock industry, is creating a backlash that may not be apparent now, but is growing and WILL affect wildlife management in the future.

  75. avatar Cris Waller says:

    To give a counter-example- although Montana didn’t do it entirely right, they are allowing only 2 wolves to be killed in the North Fork of the Flathead, adjacent to Glacier (it should have been 0.) This area sees a lot of wildlife tourism- much by foreign visitors- which is a boost to the local economy. My husband and I spent a pretty penny traveling there this spring, specifically because there was the *possibility* of seeing a wild wolf. We would have been happy even if we didn’t see one, but we were rewarded with a very brief sighting of the rear end of what was probably one of the members of the Kintla pack very near the Canadian border on the North Fork Road. I think they were hunting; not long afterward a pretty panicked herd of whitetails bounded across the road in front of us.

    There is a lot of unexploited value in wolf and wildlife tourism and, on the whole, it’s more profitable than hunting. I looked over a few studies, and the average wildlife tourist has more disposable income than the avrage hunter and spends more per day. “2007 Study of Elk and Wildlife Viewing Potential”, produced in part by the RMEF, mentioned that “The average nature tourist spends on average $138.45 per day.” There are also many. many more wildlife watchers than there are hunters, and, unlike hunting, wildlife watching in many areas is a year-round activity.

    Given all of this, ignoring the needs and desires of non-consumptive users simply doesn’t make any fiscal sense.

  76. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB – let’s start with a basic premise (or two…). The F&G Commission has a statutory responsibility to ensure healthy, sustainable wildlife populations for the benefit of the public those resources are held in trust for. Public involvement in the process of developing management goals, objectives, regulations, consumptive and non-consumptive use of those resources is essential in our democratic/republican system of government. My definition now: The Commission carries out it’s public involvement responsibilities to the diverse public we serve by understanding what the Idaho public desires for appropriate uses (consumptive and non-consumptive) of it’s wildlife resources and then balances those desires against it’s highest priority to sustain healthy, viable Idaho wildlife (wolves included) resources for current and future generations. A healthy ecosystem is inherent is this definition. It is impossible for the Commission to satisfy all public demands for wildlife management or wildlife uses. Some want more harvest opportunity than appropriate. Some mule deer hunters want management to prioritize trophy buck management to the exculusion of other appropriate desires. Some want NO management of non-game species. Some want to see hunting banned. Some want areas of the state managed solely for wolf viewing opportunity without wolf hunting allowed. The Commission determines which desires are compatible with wildlife conservation/stewardship as the first priority and which management options serve the broadest public needs and desires, knowing that there are always constituents who will not have their specific desires met. In the case of contemporary Idaho wolf management the Commission has chosen to manage for a healthy, sustainable number of wolves in Idaho that also provide for wolf hunting, wolf viewing and a balance with other wildlife management objectives – e.g. elk hunting opportunity.
    Are you suggesting that with respect to Idaho wolf managment the Commission can adequately represent the diverse Idaho public only by delaying a wolf hunt, manage for higher numbers of wolves or keep a portion of the state closed to wolf hunting? If so, help me understand how any or all of those management alternatives better serve the Idaho public that the current management plan.

  77. avatar Cris Waller says:

    Mark-

    How has the commission “allowed for wolf viewing”? Can you name any specific actions that have been taken to promote and foster wolf viewing?

    More to the point, are you aware of any instances where consumptive and non-consumptive viewpoints clashed where the non-consumptive use was given priority?

    “Are you suggesting that with respect to Idaho wolf managment the Commission can adequately represent the diverse Idaho public only by… keep[ing] a portion of the state closed to wolf hunting?”

    Yes, absolutely! The population of Idaho is about 1,523,816. If 14,000 wolf licenses sold, then 99.91% of Idahoans don’t hunt wolves. Yet the entire state is open to the .09% who bought a tag. There are *zero* closed areas for the many, many, many more Idahoans who did not buy a tag to enjoy unfragmented, unharassed, natural wolf packs. So yes, I think it’s entirely fair to say that the interests of those Idahoans who called for a wolf viewing area have been ignored.

  78. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Chris Waller –
    “It does, however, mean that consumptive needs are being seen as more important than maintaining a healthy, naturally balanced ecosystem. It does mean that hunter demands drive wildlife management, not what is best for the ecosystem or the species involved. It does promote the archaic viewpoint that wildlife only has value as far as its ability to provide “recreation” for humans; itdoesn’t have intrinsic value of its own.”
    Several very important assertions: 1) consumptive needs are certainly not more important than fundamental conservation – healthy ecosystems. Nothing in the Idaho wolf management plan or the ongoing wolf hunt is contrary to sound wildlife management principles or threatens healthy ecosystems in the state. If you disagree (I think you do) help me understand why you believe contemporary Idaho wolf management is doing so.
    Understanding wolf-elk interactions does not require that geographic areas of the state be managed without wolf hunting. Neither does wolf hunting preclude wolf viewing, listening to wolves howl or enjoying a variety of other non-consumptive benefits of wolves as a wildlife resource. The suggestion that only by closing areas to wolf hunting can the public be property served, I believe is a narrow view that would not serve the greater Idaho public well.

  79. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    jerryB –
    “Mark (IDFG)…I’m not sure you grasp the frustration of those who question the motives of IDFG, the Commissioners, and their counterparts in Montana. I can tell you…the average person who is not affiliated with a “special interest group” such as the livestock industry, the outfitting industry, hunters or trappers are becoming outraged that they’re not being heard.”

    I/we do understand the frustration of any segment of the public when they believe they are not being heard. The length of my comments to JB about Commission representation stems from a career of balancing diverse desires and management preferences, often times diametrically opposed. Non-consumptive constituents are by no means the only segment of the public who have and will feel like they aren’t listened to and don’t have their wildlife management preferences satisfied. If I could get agreement on one reality of any aspect of public service, especially wildlife management, it would be that this is a messy, contentious process that must look for solutions that best serve the needs and desires of the largest segment of the public while safeguarding fundamental rights and responsibilities. Public meetings, state and national surveys, focus groups, citizens advisory committees are public involvement tools we’ve used in the past. We use statistically sound public surveys much more now that in the past because of the increasing diversity of public values and preferences.

  80. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Chris – one last post before giving this a break.
    “How has the commission “allowed for wolf viewing”? Can you name any specific actions that have been taken to promote and foster wolf viewing?
    Everywhere we are managing for healthy wolf populations there is an abundance of wolf viewing opportunity – Bear Valley Creek, Hayden Creek, Stanley Basin are three well known examples.
    “More to the point, are you aware of any instances where consumptive and non-consumptive viewpoints clashed where the non-consumptive use was given priority?”
    Consumptive and non-consumptive veiwpoints are clashing in virtually every part of this state. I have been describing management actions that serve both viewpoints, not one to the exclusion of the other. There is a premise in your questions that non-consumptive viewpoints or management desires can only be served if consumptive desires are denied. I don’t believe that is true. If you are saying that you and others can only be fairly heard and served by closing geographical areas of the state to hunting (e.g.) when hunting does not jeapardize the health or integrity of that wolf population and when wolf viewing and other non-consumptive uses of Idaho wolves is provided at the same time – I will ask …. isn’t that request/demand unnecessarly exclusionary to the detriment of good service to the Idaho public?

  81. avatar Cris Waller says:

    “If you are saying that you and others can only be fairly heard and served by closing geographical areas of the state to hunting (e.g.) when hunting does not jeapardize the health or integrity of that wolf population and when wolf viewing and other non-consumptive uses of Idaho wolves is provided at the same time – I will ask …. isn’t that request/demand unnecessarly exclusionary to the detriment of good service to the Idaho public?”

    Let me turn this around and ask you the same question.
    If. 99.91% of Idahoans do not hunt wolves, isn’t the demand that the entire state be open to wolf hunting unnecessarily exclusionary to the detriment of good service to the Idaho public?

    I would hope we can agree that, in the majority of the state, there is no biological need to hunt wolves {The ability to hunt wolves without “harming the population” does *not*, I hope you agree, *mandate* a hunt.) Therefore, the decision to hunt wolves in these areas is not being made in the interests of a healthy ecosystem. It’s being made in the interests of those who want to hunt wolves.

  82. avatar Jeff says:

    ProWolf: “I have seen more people who see coyotes when they don’t have a gun and pretend they are shooting it.”

    Um, if you don’t believe in hunting (or hunting coyotes), then it could be said that you would never be out with someone who is hunting them so even one person without a gun seeing a coyote would be “more people”

    Facts are good folks, facts…

    BTW, I photograph more than I hunt these days but I can assure you that when I used to hunt coyotes I saw more in any day then I ever see now with my camera. Why? because I don’t call them when shooting my camera. You’re probably wondering why I don’t, surely it would lead to more photographs… because the purpose of calling is to draw them in quick and close for a kill. I don’t like the subject focused on me when I’m photographing wildlife. I’d rather they totally ignore me, allowing me to be the 3rd party in a scene.

    A couple things to keep in mind…

    1. People are predators (hunter/gatherer) and have been for many thousands of years. That is stronger in some than others, thus the differences in opinions on hunting.

    2. If it weren’t for humans, this world would be a nice place to live. The problem is we are here and we are in nature’s mix, thus managed wildlife. Same as managed people.

  83. avatar nabeki says:

    Wolves do not need to be “managed”. They are natural dispersers and will go where the hunting is good and that means establishing packs in other states besides Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as they are already starting to do in Oregon and Washington. I find it ironic that hunters seem to be so worried about declining elk and deer populations, even though it’s been proven over and over that wolves strenthen ungulate herds and elk populations are stabile.

    So let me get this staight, hunters want to get rid of wolves so they can kill more elk and deer that they’re so worried about? Give me a break! Wolves do a better job of culling elk herds then people, that’s a fact.

    I hope Judge Molloy rules on this case soon so this senseless killing will not be repeated again next year.

  84. avatar nabeki says:

    Mark,

    Do you think the image of the Governor of Idaho, “Butch “Otter, publicly declaring his obvious bias against wolves by stating, “I’m going to bid for the first ticket to shoot a wolf,” is good for the image of Idaho?

    Do you believe wolf bias played no role in their present delisting, by the rancher Ken Salazar?

    Why is Minnesota able to live with 3000 wolves and have the full support of the majority of Minnesotans? Yet Idaho with a population of roughly 897 wolves feels the need to have a hunting season to kill off one quarter of it’s wolf population within months of their delisting? Minnesota also declared it would wait at least five years to even consider a wolf hunting season if wolves were delisted.

    Do you believe that Idaho’s wolf hunting season, that extends to the end of March 2010, when wolves routinely mate from February to April, is not going to have an impact on pack cohesiveness or their ability to rebound?

    I think it’s pretty clear that in pursuit of the wants of a few the wants of the many are being ignored in both Idaho and Montana.

  85. avatar jerryB says:

    Cris Waller……
    I give Ralph permission to share my email address with you. I’d like to discuss this topic in more detail, specifically the #’s and revenue associated with “wildlife watching”. I’ve got some ideas I’d like to share with you.
    Jerry B

  86. avatar jerryB says:

    Mark IDFG….with all respect, Mark, it’s beyond my comprehension how you can continue to stick with your assertion that this wolf hunt has the support and is the best course of action for the majority of citizens as well as ecosystems involved. Why can’t non-consumptive use be given at least equal consideration?
    I’m also still not clear why certain areas cannot be set aside as wolf protected areas for wolf and other wildlife watching.
    Nabecki has concerns, as do many, as to why the wolf season will last well into the Spring.
    My final question for today……..What is the range of cost associated with collaring a wolf in Idaho? In Montana it can range anywhere from $300 to $3000, depending on location, use of aircraft etc,for which a $19 wolf tag hardly covers, when a collared wolf is killed.
    Once again, I appreciate your willingness to at least respond to questions here and I realize that you do not make the policies…only carry them out, and you must abide by “the party line”. You should consider running for a “political” position. You’d make an excellent press secretary!

  87. avatar Jeff says:

    Jerry B. : My final question for today……..What is the range of cost associated with collaring a wolf in Idaho? In Montana it can range anywhere from $300 to $3000, depending on location, use of aircraft etc,for which a $19 wolf tag hardly covers, when a collared wolf is killed.

    They aren’t selling one $19 tag…

    I haven’t seen the numbers yet, but I’m sure everyone will see soon enough that tag sales will far exceed any costs associated with all collar replacements necessary due to collared wolves being taken. Make no mistake, issuing tags is driven more by revenue than anything. In the end you’ll likely see that hunters will not reach management objectives regardless of their desire to and the agencies will supplement with control same as they do with coyotes.

    If areas are set aside as no-hunt units it shouldn’t be where there is conflict as that will never fly, it should be places like wilderness. This doesn’t mean wilderness management might need to occur if prey populations are severely impacted, but if I understand the science correctly the drop in prey should precipitate a drop in preditor populations too. This might actually work in wilderness areas, just no way to know for sure without trying it.

    The up side to wilderness areas is that just as with places like Yellowstone, the wolves will soon learn where they are safe from human predation and where they are not. Assuming that is true, the populations stabilize in the wilderness areas and drop to desired levels in areas with competing interests. Everyone wins as much as anyone could.

  88. avatar JB says:

    “Are you suggesting that with respect to Idaho wolf managment the Commission can adequately represent the diverse Idaho public only by delaying a wolf hunt, manage for higher numbers of wolves or keep a portion of the state closed to wolf hunting? If so, help me understand how any or all of those management alternatives better serve the Idaho public that the current management plan.”

    Mark, I’m suggesting that your commission can not adequately represent nonconsumptive users because it is biased in favor of consumptive users; more importantly everyone is well aware of this bias and so is distrustful of any decision IDF&G commissioners make. But I suspect you know this well enough.

    We seem to be in the midst of a communication breakdown, so let me make my assertions as clear as I possibly can (please feel free to tell me where you think I’m wrong):

    (1) The IDF&G commission is composed only of older, white, male hunters and anglers.

    (1a) Most (if not all) of IDF&G decision-makers are also hunters.

    (2) Regarding the issue of wolf management, the interest and desires of hunters conflict with the interest and desires of nonconsumptive users.

    (3) It is extremely unlikely that the commission–a group of hunters–will make a management decision that conflicts with the interests from which every member is drawn in favor of the interests that oppose this group.

    (4) It is even more unlikely that any decision the commission makes will be perceived as fair and unbiased by nonconsumptive users.

    (5) Idaho could have adopted a management plan that was broadly representative of these groups and, in turn, avoided a lot of criticism by simply closing some areas to hunting for wildlife viewing.

    (6) If IDF&G were really interested in adopting a management plan that was broadly representative of the diverse set of stakeholders that care about wolf management it would have adopted a collaborative process that included representatives of ALL of the various groups interested in wolf management. Instead, the decisions were made by hunters for hunters.

    – – — –

    Your answers to Chris’ questions suggest that you believe that those interested in viewing wolves and those interested in hunting wolves are not in conflict. Am I interpreting your comments correctly? If so, I have a few comments of my own…

    I think it is reasonable to assert that (1) hunting will reduce the wolf population, and (2) wolves hunted by humans will be harder to find, get close to, and view. I am not an expert on wolf behavior, but these conclusions seem logical and seem in line with what others (who are experts) have suggested (including those defending the wolf hunt).

    You argued that you do not believe that wolf hunting and wolf viewing are mutually exclusive activities. I agree. However, Idaho has made an effort to show that wolves negatively impact hunting opportunities. I think it is equally clear that wolf hunting will negatively impact wolf viewing opportunities. Thus, while they may not be mutually exclusive, they certainly are in conflict. Consequently, by choosing to allow hunting in EVERY management unit in the state, IDF&G again sends the message that the interests of hunters are more important than the interests of nonconsumptive users.

  89. avatar Jeff says:

    “However, Idaho has made an effort to show that wolves negatively impact hunting opportunities. I think it is equally clear that wolf hunting will negatively impact wolf viewing opportunities. ”

    I’d say you are right and wrong.

    You are right in that all wolves that have been hunted (shot at) will be weary of people (just as coyotes are), but this just means you won’t have the Yellowstone experience of seeing wolves up close without them spooking. However most people never see wolves up close in Yellowstone, that’s why you generally see the wolf viewers with huge spotting scopes.

    You are wrong because most wolves will ignore people at distance, even weary ones. This means you will still have the viewing experience that you might have in Yellowstone. Just not the chance of viewing any (all) wolves up close.

    Now consider people like photographers… do you have any idea how hard it is to get quality photos of a wolf in nature and acting naturally AND be close enough to provide viewers those close-ups they want to see in their favorite magazine? Trust me, really difficult.

    Hunting wolves as a primary goal is something few hunters naturally desire. Many carry the tag in support of the cause and some because they might want to take one if they incidentally come across one while hunting something else. Make no mistake, wildlife objectives must be met and by law the wildlife services are required to act to that end. Meaning if there is no wolf hunting season, then the various FWS will still adjust numbers to meet the goals same as they do with coyotes. Either way wolves will die.

    When the wolves were re-introduced to the lower 48 and listed everyone knew (or should have) that when wolves reached sustainable numbers they would be delisted and “managed”. No one made any attempt to hide the fact that this meant hunting, in fact it was widely known. The folks that wanted the wolves here ignored that or felt they would deal with it when the time came and they focused on getting them established. Well they were very successful, so much so that numbers need to be managed to protect other wildlife numbers (and generate revenue). If they don’t like it, then why didn’t they deal with it before bringing the wolves back into the lower 48? It’s not like they were ever really endangered, just look at the numbers in Canada and Alaska. A good number of folks wanted the wolves back in the lower 48, well they got em!

  90. avatar Cobra says:

    Jeff,
    I think you hit it right when you said wolf tags will help to generate revenue. To date from what I understand sportsmens dollars has carried the lions share of wolf management. I still have a hard time believing that a wolf viewing area will generate more funds than selling wolf tags.

  91. avatar Cris Waller says:

    “I still have a hard time believing that a wolf viewing area will generate more funds than selling wolf tags.”

    Wolf tourism in Yellowstone *alone* has been shown to bring 35-70 million dollars into the local economy yearly. You’ll need to sell about 3.2 million wolf tags at 11 bucks a pop to equal that!

    Red wolf tourism in North Carolina brings in about 37.5 million dollars per year, and Eatern wolf tourism in Algonquin NP in Canada brings in at least 1.9 million.

    My husband and I spent about $2000 on a trip to the North Fork of the Flathead in hope of seeing a wolf- and we saw one. That is a heck of a lot more than a hunter would spend to kill that same wolf. And an unlimited number of people can view one wolf- while only one person can kill it.

    Wolf tourism is a viable, reliable, low-cost economic money-maker.

  92. avatar JB says:

    Jeff: “You are wrong because most wolves will ignore people at distance, even weary ones. This means you will still have the viewing experience that you might have in Yellowstone. Just not the chance of viewing any (all) wolves up close.”

    Jeff, I think we can agree that hunting wolves opportunities will diminish opportunities to see wolves at close distance (which is the most desirable)? The logic in IDF&G used in their assessment of the negative impact of wolves on elk hunting opportunities was: Increased wolves = decreased elk = decreased elk hunting opportunities. The same logic applies for wolf viewing opportunities. Fewer wolves and a hunted population will lessen the likelihood of quality viewing opportunities. My point was by choosing to hunt wolves in EVERY management unit, the commission sent a clear message that the interest of big game hunters (elk hunting opportunities) are more important than the interests of nonconsumptive users (wolf viewing opportunities). By the way, I don’t oppose hunting wolves in principle; in fact, I think IDF&G’s harvest objectives are quite reasonable. My comments focus on explaining why the Idaho wolf management plan is perceived as unfair.

    On Yellowstone…

    I totally disagree with what you’ve asserted about viewing wolves in Yellowstone. I’ve been to the park eight times since the reintroductions occurred and seen wolves 7/8 times. On three occasions I have been within 50 feet of wolves crossing the road in Lamar (though one of these was at night). In May of 2008, I was lucky enough to witness a young wolf howl at a reasonably close distance and got my first opportunity to get some decent shots. Unfortunately, I was in the area for a conference and didn’t have my TCs and tripod (I used the hood of the rental car). Every time I’ve been to YNP I’ve driven to Lamar for the sole purpose of finding wolves. Idaho is missing an opportunity to market this type of experience and bring in a lot of tourist dollars in the process.

  93. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    MANY comments and I’m already taking up too much of the space on this thread. I’ll try to respond to those comments that grabbed my attention, not disrespecting those I don’t. Some I have already responded to in previous threads.

    Chris W. –
    “If. 99.91% of Idahoans do not hunt wolves, isn’t the demand that the entire state be open to wolf hunting unnecessarily exclusionary to the detriment of good service to the Idaho public?”

    Chris, the proportion of the eligible Idaho public participating in this year’s wolf hunt says nothing about Idaho public support for or against wolf hunting. To be sure, wolf hunting in the western states has been a hotly contested issue, some of that opposition comes from the residents of MT, WY, and ID – but I doubt that anything close to a majority of those state residents have offered an opinion on the issue of wolf management or wolf hunting. Your implication that a majority of Idahoans have an unexpressed desire for wolf viewing areas that exclude opportunity to hunt wolves is possible, but I am unaware of any public data to support that desire.

    “Therefore, the decision to hunt wolves in these areas is not being made in the interests of a healthy ecosystem. It’s being made in the interests of those who want to hunt wolves.”
    Chris – The decision to conduct the hunt is being based on: a societal need/demand to manage a robust and growing population of wolves that now conflict with other important public wildlife and private property values and provide legititmate opportunity to hunt a big game species – while ensuring that those management objectives and actions to accomplish them sustain a healthy and sustainable wolf population in Idaho. The wolf management plan and the hunt we have designed is also compatible with and will protect those ecosystem functions that that define the very broad and unprecise concept of “ecosystem health”. You are correct that the hunt is not being used as a tool to manage ecosystem health. It is being implemented to address other appropriate social needs and desires, WHILE being compatible with sound ecosytem manament precepts.

    jerryB –
    “Why can’t non-consumptive use be given at least equal consideration?”

    Non-consumption use is provided for in the wolf management plan. The ongoing hunt does not preclude non-consumptive use. By guaranteeing a strong, vibrant wolf population, the plan specifically provides for non-consumption use by ensuring that wolves will continue to thrive in Idaho. Setting aside geographical areas for wolf viewing is not necessary to provide abundant opportunities to view wolves and would exclude legitimate and compatible opportunities to hunt wolves and to implement management measures to achieve wolf population objectives.

    “What is the range of cost associated with collaring a wolf in Idaho?”

    Jerry, I need to consult with wildlife manager, will get back to you with a range of costs. I doubt that our costs will differ significantly from Montana’s. You are correct that the revenue we gain from wolf tags will not pay for wolf management in Idaho. This is true for MT and WY also.

    JB –
    “I’m suggesting that your commission can not adequately represent nonconsumptive users because it is biased in favor of consumptive users; more importantly everyone is well aware of this bias and so is distrustful of any decision IDF&G commissioners ”

    JB – thanks again for your reasoned and well spoken points. We haven’t found much middle ground yet, but I do value your concerns and civil dialog. I believe the Commission has in fact chosen management alternatives that accomodate the non-consumptive desires of those who have engaged with the Commission. I’ll be quick to agree that desires to aside areas for exclusive wolf viewing opportunities were not adopted and that is percieved to be a rebuff by the Commission. I must continue to emphasize that the Commission is balancing a wide spectrum of public desires and demands for wolf management while adhering to it’s first responsiblility to ensure continued healthy numbers of wolves in Idaho. I believe the Commission is doing a good job with that very difficult challenge.

    “I think it is equally clear that wolf hunting will negatively impact wolf viewing opportunities. Thus, while they may not be mutually exclusive, they certainly are in conflict.”

    Wolf predation in the Lolo and Sawthooth Zones has and continues to reduce elk production and recruitment below levels that can be sustainded with current habitat conditions and require us to reduce hunting OPPORTUNITY. We have always emphasized that hunters enjoy an opportunity to hunt, not a guarantee to take home an elk, deer, etc. Hunting will indeed affect wolf behavior. That is one objective of hunting. It will change wolf viewing opportunities, but it will not reduce opportunities in any way. In the same way that some on this blog emphasize that hunters should accept that wolves will change elk or deer behavior in a natural way, and be prepared to hunt differently for elk or deer in the presence of wolves, it is appropriate to suggest that wolf viewers can expect to change their techniques for wolf viewing in the presence of wolf hunting. Human hunters are a natural component of the ecosystem we inhabit. A holistic view of this dynamic would recognize that wolf behavior with responsible hunting in the mix is a more natural experience that without. I cannot agree with you that wolf hunting somehow denies or ignores the desires of those who wish to enjoy non-consumptive uses of our wolf populations or that hunter are being catered to at the expense of non-hunters.

    ” Points 1-6″
    OK, we’ve discussed the old, white, male Commissioner point several times. Again – those are attributes of the Commissioners. Those attributes say nothing about the job this Commission is doing. I understand that you and others are not satisfied with the decision this Commission has made for wolf management in Idaho. But, I don’t think the age, gender and ethnicity of the Commissioners has much to do with that dissatisfaction. Neither do I believe that this Commission is not doing exactly what any governmental body should do with similar responsibilities. This Commission makes itself available to anyone who wants to speak on the record – four times a year in different parts of the state. Individual Commissioners are available to anyone who desire to talk to them about these issues. They recieve mail, emails and take phone calls – from anyone who wants their attention, whether they hunt or not. JB, I have resisted making a blunt point in our past exchanges on this topic, but I think it’s time. Suggesting that gender, age, ethnicity should be a bench mark for adequate representation flies against fundamental principles of our system of government. There are some in our country who argue that our current president can’t represent them because of his ethnicity. Citizenship responsibility is and should be nuetral with respect to those attributes. If there are specific examples of this Commission ignoring the legitimate input, desires or needs of a segment of the Idaho public then you have a legitimate argument. I don’t see one yet.

    I am probably violating one of my rules – that I wouldn’t engage in a debate. This is too important to not participate in a good, respectful debate.

  94. avatar jerryB says:

    Cris Waller……Where are you finding the wildlife watching stats?
    I’m aware that USFWS publishes some, but you’re coming up with some valuable info I haven’t been able to find. (I’m in the process of forming a “WildlifeWatchers.org)
    Please email me..Ralph has OK to give you my email.
    Thanks
    Jerry B

  95. avatar JB says:

    “Those attributes say nothing about the job this Commission is doing.”

    Mark: You’re missing the point. Perhaps an analogy would help? The F&G commission sets policy for an agency that (under the public trust doctrine) is charged with managing wildlife for the state’s citizens. Of course there are many federal, state, and local agencies that serve similar roles, so I’ll pick one with somewhat similar responsibilities, the state EPA.

    State environmental protection agencies are generally charged with establishing and enforcing environmental standards within the state (i.e. policy making). Now, imagine you attend a meeting of your state’s EPA (not sure Idaho has one) and learn that the director, assistant director, and deputy directors (i.e. the decision makers) all worked for land developers–that is, they all worked for the same group and that group had a vested interest in the policy decisions being made. I have to imagine you would view the decisions of that policy making body quite skeptically?

    This is essentially the situation you have in Idaho. Even though ALL Idahoans have a stake in how wildlife are managed, the decision makers are all pulled from one small group (hunters). More importantly, this group has a strong vested interest in policy decisions–a vested interest that sometimes conflicts with the interests of other stakeholders.

    When judges are faced with this scenario, they generally recuse themselves from a case. They do so not because they are incapable of making a fair decision, but because they know any decision they make will be perceived as unfair. Your F&G commission is in this type of scenario.

  96. avatar JB says:

    And FYI, I resent the implication that I am being racist/sexist by pointing out the commission’s obvious bias and conflict of interest.

  97. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB – I obviously offended you. I apologize, that was not my intent, nor do I think you are a racist. I have no reason to think that you are; I don’t know and I don’t need to know what your principles are in that regard. My point is that age, gender, ethnicity have no place in judging the effectiveness of this Commission in representing the people of Idaho in formulating wildlife management policies that serve the needs of the Idaho public.

    I understand your analogies but can’t agree that they help your argument. If the make-up of the Commission were to be contingent on some gender/age/ethnicity/hunter, non-hunter proportion to represent the demographic proportion of the Idaho public which Commissioner should recuse his/her-self when a deliberating a wildlife management issue that might displease one or more segments of Idaho society? In fact, this Commission does have rules for disclosure of conflict of interest and on occasion, a Commission will recuse his/her-self (we had a woman Commissioner very recently) if a conflict exists. By contrast -experience with hunting as well as experience with bird watching (and other non-consumptive wildlife uses), knowledge of wildlife, and a committment to wildlife conservation are and should be considered important attributes that prepare a Commisisoner for the responsibility of stewarding the states wildlife resources – for current and future generations of Idahoans.

  98. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    We have always emphasized that hunters enjoy an opportunity to hunt, not a guarantee to take home an elk, deer, etc.

    Mark, it is nice to hear someone from fish and game make that point. So many people think they have this guarantee to take home an animal and if they don’t then the wolves are eating all of them. Something like that should be published in game regulations.

  99. avatar JB says:

    Thanks, Mark. No worries, I have thick skin.

    Race, gender, and age are obscuring the issue. I only brought them up to show how your homogeneous F&G commission reflects the homogeneous hunting population (i.e. older, white, men). Regardless, it seems to be distracting from the issue, so lets drop it altogether.

    The important point is that a group of people drawn entirely from one interest group are very unlikely to make decisions that reflect a larger, broader population. Tey are even less likely to make decisions that adequately take into account the views of interest groups that are opposed to their view. Finally, I will go out on a limb and suggest that it is next to impossible for people drawn entirely from one interest group to make decisions that are deemed fair by an opposing interest group. Like it or not, this is your situation.

    To be clear: Your problem is procedural. There is simply no way that you can have one interest group (hunters) make decisions for an opposing interest group (non-hunters) and have members of the opposing group believe the decision was well-reasoned, adequate or fair! If Idaho’s F&G commission is not a biased decision making body when it comes to wolves, then you all must be working with a different dictionary in Idaho.

  100. avatar JB says:

    A few quotes on game commissions from a noted political scientist:

    “A classic client-manager relationship has historically characterized state wildlife management (Decker et al. 1996). Wildlife managers have seen their primary responsibility as providing resources (fish and game) to their clients—anglers, hunters, and trappers. Agency capture also characterizes this management paradigm.”

    “…The most direct challenge to this paradigm has come from disgruntled interest groups that believe their values and perspectives do not receive serious consideration in the dominant wildlife commission decision-making framework. Many of these groups strike at what they see as the root of the problem: the wildlife policy-making process.”

    “…A few interest groups are beginning to challenge the wildlife commission process. Many wildlife advocacy groups inside Alaska have been critical of the state’s Board of Game. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, together with other state-based groups, filed an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the legality of the “all hunter-trapper monopoly on the [Board of Game]” (Alaska Wildlife Alliance 2000–01, 1). The lawsuit charged that the Board of Game failed to fulfill its statutory requirement to provide diversity of interest and points of view in its membership and that it violates the state’s constitution, which mandates that the state manage wildlife in the public interest.”

    “…Like the professional history of American forestry, the wildlife profession has been characterized by a utilitarian, technorational philosophy, an emphasis on wise use, sustained yield, and scientific expert management. As such, it has been slow to respond to changing American values toward wildlife. Gill is also critical of the way most state wildlife agencies continue to be funded: ‘Though perhaps unintentional, license fees effectively married public servants to special interests. It was an unholy marriage because it blurred the essential distinction between public interest and special interest and inevitably eroded both scientific credibility and public trust’”.

    And finally…

    “Controversy in Idaho illustrates how criticism can come from myriad interests, including both consumptive and nonconsumptive users, and for very different reasons. In January 2002, Rod Sando, the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, stepped down because of topdown political pressure (Barker and Phillips 2002a). Many interests in the state, from hunters to nonhunting environmentalists, believe the pressure came from ranchers and farmers who were upset with Sando’s predator-control policies, among other issues. This pressure was channeled, they believe, through the governor and onto the state wildlife commission (a seven-member board appointed by the governor and approved by the state senate). Alarmed by what they saw as undue political meddling, the Idaho Wildlife Federation, along with other groups, drafted a ballot initiative that would reduce the number of commissioners to five and would require the governor to choose them from a list voted upon in public caucuses held around the state (Barker 2002; Barker and Phillips 2002b). (Given time and other constraints, not enough signatures were gathered to get on the ballot). The reasoning for such change is based partly on perceptions of a “hijacked” wildlife commission that is unnecessarily politicizing state wildlife management (Barker and Phillips 2002b).”

    Nie, M. (2004). State Wildlife Policy and Management: The Scope and Bias of Political Conflict. Public Administration Review, 64(2), 221-233.

  101. avatar ID_Paul says:

    Dedicated no-hunting wolf viewing areas? Are you serious? I just don’t see the economic motherlode the wolf advocates promise. I have heard some Idaho outfitters have already tried offering wolf viewing trips and received little interest and couldn’t make money on them.

    I have no sympathy for anyone that expects to be able to watch wolves from the road or a leisurely jaunt up a trail. If you want that, go to Yellowstone. Here in Idaho, we have WILDlife.

    Part of why I find it ironic that anyone would complain that wolves will be too hard to see if they don’t have a refuge zone is that I, like many others in the West, enjoy watching elk, deer and other wildlife. I usually make a couple trips each year just to watch and photograph elk and deer. Since your wolves came on the scene it is a lot more difficult to find elk. It’s not so easy to find them grazing by the hundreds on the sweet grasses of an open meadow – now they spend most of their time hiding from the wolves, holed up deep in the timber. Instead of grazing, they’re now browsing on poorer quality food that increases chance of winter kill, and may be reducing their reproduction as well.

    So cry me a river about your wolf-viewing zones. If you want to see wolves, do as I have to do to see other species of wildlife. Put on a pair of boots, load your pack, and start walking. Maybe you’ll see one, maybe not. I’d like to see and photograph a wolf some day too. I’ll see you somewhere miles up the trail if you’re serious about seeing wolves.

  102. avatar jerryB says:

    Mark IDFG…This was a question asked previously by “nebecki”, but I can’t find an answer.
    Do you believe that Idaho’s wolf hunting season, that extends to the end of March 2010, when wolves routinely mate from February to April, is not going to have an impact on pack cohesiveness or their ability to rebound?
    Also Mark, regardless of how you spin it, non-hunters are left out of decision making when it comes to wildlife management. This is regardless of their qualifications. I’ve sat in enough meetings of “citizen” advisory committees, whose members are chosen by game agencies, to realize members are chosen, not by experience on wildlife issues or education, but by whether or not they hunt, trap or are in the ranching business.
    On rare occasion, a member of one of the “mainline” conservation groups will be appointed, but they’re nothing more than surrogate voices for politicians or the livestock industry.
    There’s a disgruntled group of us out here that don’t trust the people on the commissions and the committees, and rightfully so.

  103. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    I’m gunna have to weigh in on behalf of Mark here.

    It’s just flat not true that IDFG only acts on behalf of hunting interests.

    The IDFG listens to other-than hunters all the time – in fact, they’ll even host their collaboration groups/meetings in other-than hunter friendly places, doing the bidding of other-than hunting interests – even to the point of making decisions counter to hunting interests.

    I participated in such an event, in the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s basement – where IDFG employees, in full prostration of Idaho sheepman developed policy that sold-out Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, subjecting Idaho’s – scratch that – the West’s premier big-game animal to deadly disease & IDFG gunners on behalf of no more than 4 politically priveleged, affluent, old white men ~ public land ranchers.

    I stood at the Idaho Cattleman’s Association Annual meeting and watched Jim Unsworth lick the boots of the Cattleman in a conspicuously desperate attempt to gain their political favor.

    I’ve read the internal memos and welfare rancher letters to the governor ~ the chronology of events that stymied Dave Parrish’s career.

    I can appreciate Mark’s contribution to this forum, but the fact of the matter persists – people who know what’s going on inside the Department, the hyper-political channels that persist and expand – know the extent to which IDFG’s independence has degenerated, particularly since the Kempthorne governorship.

    There are ample reasons why interested citizens should be wary of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s ability to uphold the general public interest.

    That distrust is not a symptom of failed communication, it is a rational and productive response to a fundamental lack of systemic political insulation that ought be characteristic of any department charged with upholding the public interest.

    I don’t give a damn whether the commission is represented by men or women who are white, black, green, or purple (though I certainly appreciate the legitimacy of concern). These guys are captured, and their notion of “public interest” is wholly dictated by Butch Otter, Jeff Siddoway, Burt Brackett, and a few other old, white, cowboy crooks who are out for themselves and themselves only.

    Until you (Mark) can communicate to me the adequacy of the political insulation you have from those crooks ~ my problem, and the problem of a whole lot of people who are watch-doggin’ it and agitatin’ on behalf of the public interest – is going to remain, because the plain and simple truth is that even if what Mark says is true, delivered crystal clear and with the best of intentions ~ those crooks still call the shots.

    Of all of the science and regard for the public interest that has existed with the IDFG on the wolf issue, the only reason it’s allowed to be there, that space given to those of good-faith employees within the department, was afforded because crooks fear the gavel – the loss of their control & legitimacy.

    They need to fear that more…

    There should be a judge sitting on the table at every IDFG Commissioner meeting.

    except that, unlike Idaho’s governor & state legislators, judges typically have a pretty healthy regard for independence.

  104. avatar JB says:

    “It’s just flat not true that IDFG only acts on behalf of hunting interests.”

    Brian: Of course! But that’s the straw man position. I never said the F&G commission only acts on behalf of hunters, I said–as a general principle–a decision making body composed entirely of one group of people (a group with a vested interest that conflicts with other groups) is unlikely to make fair decisions when that group’s interest conflicts with another; perhaps more importantly, it will rarely be PERCEIVED as making fair, legitimate decisions for opposing groups. Note, whether a decision is viewed as good/bad/fair/adequate is a matter of perception.

    I first brought up commissions in a post where Ralph asked what could be done to alleviate the problem of political capture and give state F&G agencies more legitimacy. I responded one of the first things I would do is get rid of F&G commissions or change their structure so they are more representative. Mark responded that the commissions were desirable because they insulate agency scientists from political decisions. They latter part is true, F&G commissions make many of the political decisions. Many times this is not problematic (read=representative), as the interests of hunters and non-hunting conservationists don’t conflict; but when they do you get the sort of scenario Nie describes above.

    Look, the undeniable facts are:

    (1) F&G commissions make decisions for all stakeholders. To a large degree, they determine what wildlife (and their habitat) are managed for.
    (2) F&G commissions are usually composed almost entirely of hunters (though some states require livestock producers as well); that is, hunters often have a functional monopoly on the states most important decision-making body.
    (3) Where hunters interests conflict with the interests of other groups, decisions reached by the F&G commission will be viewed skeptically; they will be seen as a biased decision making body (which they are).

    Take these propositions or leave them, I could care less. Frankly, I’m tired of debating what seems to me to be common sense.

  105. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Brian E,

    I agree and that is why many of us hunters do not believe the estimated 100,000+ elk IDFG claim. bs.

    I have traveled to several and consistent winter ranges for three decades, to locate, photo, and admire trophy class bulls, and bucks, 375″ bulls, and 200″ bucks specifically, and every thing else in between, watching genetics coming and going of horn patterns and such. It is just not there any more.

    Once the hunts are over, I spent two to three months searching those ranges consistently, and still do. As well shed hunting was the goal, and I needed to keep track of those animals so to easier end up with those sheds.

    Liars are liars, you cannot believe anything they say, I suppose southern Idaho’s elk have moved north. I think if those ranchers are calling the shots as you suggest, and I am leaning towards believing you, the decimation of ungulates by wolves suits their agenda. They can eventually call the wolf a disaster and toss it in your face, and they will.

    The winter ranges and shed collection does not support IDFG fabricated estimations. And as a hunter, just as Elmer Keith said it in the 1930s when elk were reintroduced from YP, I am saying it now, hunting by humans should be closed in the Sawtooth Zone for elk and deer, as well hunt units 43-44-48-49, which I used to guide in should be closed to human hunting. It is that bad.

    I will be hitting all those ranges again this winter, as I have for three decades, and I will be asking IDFG where the hell are the elk.

    Just as Keith said in the 1930s when this happened, and he blamed to many cougars, and to many human hunters, Idaho government punished the cougars, and still accepted fees from humans to hunt, it was about the dollars then, and it still is today.

    No hunter wants to be guaranteed and elk, but it sure would be nice to see them. I can still find elk, but I have been finding elk for 40 years, I know where to look. The elk still do the exact same thing they always do here, same migration routes, there are just a hell of a lot less of the doing it. To many Wolves are the reason.

    This has been one hell of a nice experiment, and it still is just that, and ongoing guessing experiment from afar. Frankly the view on the ground is not coinciding with the ink and paper being relied upon by arm chair QBs.

    Now I’ll head out and do another 15-20 miles in the saddle today. JB, should get a horse under him/her self, and get in some brush, more opportunity’s of photo ops can just trot by you more often, while riding that big steak around.

    It seems to me IDFG has completely lost touch with hunters investments in Idaho Big Game. Their over coddling of the JBs of this country has created a fine mess. No going after JB here either, I just can not understand why this kid is having trouble finding wolves for his/her camera for crying out loud.

    Get in the brush with em !!

  106. avatar JB says:

    “I just can not understand why this kid is having trouble finding wolves for his/her camera for crying out loud.”

    Stoner: I never claimed I had trouble finding wolves. I’ve had very good success, on the few occasions where I’ve had the opportunity to look for them. However, I don’t live in a state where I can walk out the door and find wolves, elk, moose, cougar, or grizzly; I have to make due with coyotes and white tails.

    You seem to have made a lot of inferences about what I believe based upon a few very specific arguments I’ve made. For the most part, my interests are aligned with hunters…say 95% of the time. So I guess I have to agree with you, many F&G agencies have “lost touch” with broader constituencies by “over coddling” people like me. 😉

  107. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    “For the most part, my interests are aligned with hunters…say 95% of the time.”

    Perhaps. And I did say your theory may work out if it can be kept fair. I disagree hunters have been coddled, IDFG was designed for a purpose, to protect and manage all species large and small, by over coddling the wolf, we have a lower carrying capacity of the Sawtooth Zone concerning ungulates, and possibly other small game and this is far more damaging to wolf productivity than hunting wolves ever will be, thus IDFG has failed to keep their responsibility to those who have funded IDFG with a lion share of funding for that purpose which are hunters.

    We need IDFG term limits instead of career men in those upper management positions, Then I might go along with your theory. This way no one gets left out from your perspective and mine, a level playing field. That said I still feel that the opportunity to locate and view wolves is prime right now, and has been for years, and regardless of hunting seasons, when those units are closed the wolves will be visible, just like elk and deer are in the off season.

    I’ve spent a life time tracking down critters to look at them, this is no zoo, this is no Yellowstone Park, you got to earn it, and if the city folks don’t want to go out into the brush to look for their favorite critter, all I can say is tough.

  108. I know JB, but not your Stoner, but you certainly have a lot of experience.

    I’d bet if you two had a coffee or a brew together you might well see eye-to-eye.

    One problem we have is that folks make assumptions about each other.

  109. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    ID_Paul, you make some good points. Wolf viewing areas that would make money would have to do so indirectly. You would not be able to charge people to look at wolves, but in places like Hailey with the Phantom Hill pack, if the local chamber made an effort to advertise their presence, people might come in to see them. Otherwise, there would have to just be informational signs like we have in Wyoming, the “Wildlife Worth Watching” sings at rest areas. If the state advertised wolves’ presence people might be willing to pass by to see them. As far as outfitters having wolf watching areas I’ll believe that when I see it. It seems like Idaho has done a good job pissing and moaning about wolves to the point that people are not booking hunts there. That is not to say that outfitters in Montana and Wyoming don’t either, but not to that extant.

    Elk behavior may have changed, but with the sentiment you said about trudging through the woods to find wildlife, I guess I am surprised you would be upset. (I also happen to think it is rewarding to see actual wildlife). Also, why couldn’t people attempt to try ecotourism businesses where they take people willing to work hard to see wildlife? That has worked in Central and South America pretty well. Ranchers are finding that jaguars do have some value alive.

  110. avatar ID_Paul says:

    ProWolf in WY,
    I can agree that there is enough interest in wolves that some indirect income to communities in wolf habitat may be possible in the manner you suggest. However, I do not see any possibility of wolves becoming an economic miracle like some promise they would be. Giving them special protections at the cost of other native species makes no sense to me. What you describe as “ecotourism businesses” is what I _think_ some outfitters here have already tried to do, but received very little interest.

    As for being upset about the change in elk habits – yes, I am. It’s frustrating to put in all the effort and see nothing, when once it was almost a sure thing to see them if you just were willing put a few miles on the boots. Some places, the deer and elk even came to me. One of my best camping memories was the time we got very little sleep, due to all the chewing noises coming from a few feet outside our tent.

    I don’t perceive the elk now as being more “wild” than before. They are simply terrorized. The stories I hear are all the same: Fewer elk, scared elk. Fewer calves. Wolves have no hunting restrictions, no off-season. Even if the number of elk they kill directly is low in comparison to other factors, the constant pressure is hurting the elk, at least in some parts of the state. I like elk, and seeing this rapidly increasing negative influence on their ability to survive is distasteful to me. It isn’t so much the wolves, as it is the extreme politics and emotionalism on the part of humans – on both sides of the debate – that are making the situation worse.

  111. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    ID_paul, wolves probably won’t be an economic miracle. just as ecotourism is not an economic miracle. Central and South America remain poor for the most part.

    Also, did it ever occur to you that the elk that you saw in large herds was not natural? Look at what Rocky Mountain National Park is dealing with now, overpopulation. With that you get disease and starvation, which I don’t think are more pleasant ways to die than by wolf predation. Elk and deer should not also be approaching you. Wolves and elk coexisted for thousands of years. When you look at it, it is really not a long time that Idaho was without wolves. Yes, the elk have had to learn do deal with them again, over time they will be more effective. After all, the caribou population in Alaska and Canada is doing just fine and elk are not extinct in the areas where the original wolves were captured. I also have to point out that emotionalism is being used in your argument about elk being terrorized. Elk, like all prey animals, live like this. It is natural because nature is very cruel and violent.

    I also might add that I have had a camping memory similar to you, but it was a moose that was outside our campsite.

  112. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    ID_Paul, I think more people are more hoping for responsibility with managing wolves than special protections. Extreme views coming from people like Otter, Gillette, and Rammel are not helping alleviate fears.

  113. A wolf viewing area would have to be in the Sawtooth Valley/Stanley Basin area — the very place ID Fish and Game wants to greatly reduce the wolf population.

    The legal nature of a Wilderness area makes wolf watching a very spotty thing even with a high number of wolves and deer/elk.

    The Sawtooth Valley is open country like the Lamar in Yellowstone Park. Forested areas are just not good places to expect to see any kind of large animal on a regular basis.

  114. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    For many years I watched elk in small groups scattered through out the Sawtooth Zone, with the winters coming on they would congregate on the same migration routes annually once enough snow pushed them out to the lower elevations. I could see those elk dispersing from the large winter groups once on the winter ranges if all the city’s and homes were not there.

    This Zone was never over populated with elk. I know these migrations so well, I can just about predict where elk are consistently and usually sit and wait on them, even with no snow, just the first snow which melts off, and those elk, depending on the drainage I choose to hunt are right there. I don’t hunt them, I just wait on them. Once they walk into me, I pick one out.

    This Sawtooth Zone U33-34-35-39 cannot be compared to Yellowstone nor Rocky Mountain National Park. This Zone is part of the Frank Church, and the Sawtooth Wilderness area’s, just the outside border of U39 is roughly 250-325 miles. 33-34-35 dumps into 39, the migration, and parts of the migration are part of 36 dumping into 35 and 39, with 34 dumping into 33-35, and some 36 elk go to the Challis area, with some elk staying in 36.

    There is a helluva lot of ground here with no elk now. My specialty was 200″ mule bucks. 7 locations I packed to and glassed for years provided me with that opportunity, I still go look, but their not around. Those deer are dead and that gene pool is gone. It’s my back yard, and I am frustrated.

    Everyone on both sides of this wolf issue has their pain. Stupid or intelligent, you have pain on both sides. I like the wolf, but damn are they efficient at what they do. I think the Lobo would be more to my liking, like the solo cougar, and the opportunistic bear, rather than the wolf pack per say, the pack rules out here, hands down.

    Ralph, I would love to make JB a cup of joe over and open flame and call him in a wolf, piece of cake. I might even sacrifice a couple old appy horses I’m tired of, just high line them and watch.. Course the misses would kick my but and likely make a rug out of me if I did. 🙂

  115. avatar Cobra says:

    Stoner,
    Maybe you ought to get Chris out on a guided wolf tour, your probably cheaper than a couple grand and it sounds like they’ll see more than one wolf. I agree with you 100%. I never had a problem with cougars ad bears, even in the spring when I’ve seen bears running with elk calves in their mouths and never slowing down one bit. Both

  116. avatar Cobra says:

    Sorry hit the button, anyway both are effecient predators in their own right, ut they don’t even come close to a pack of wolves. Up here in North Idaho we are seeing a difference in our herds but I think because of the terrain and the fact it’s so thick in most areas our elk are holding their own for the time being. I have noticed though for the last three years since finding wolf sign on my property I have yet to see anymore cat tracks during the winter. Makes ya wonder.

  117. avatar JB says:

    “…I’d bet if you two had a coffee or a brew together you might well see eye-to-eye. One problem we have is that folks make assumptions about each other.”

    Ralph: Thanks for the reminder that we all have more in common here than our comments often suggest. Communicating in this form can be extremely frustrating, and it is far too easy to make snap judgments about people from comments taken out of context. I’m as guilty of this as any.

    It is good to step back in remember that the points on which we disagree, while hotly debated, are often extremely nuanced. At the end of the day we are all (or nearly all, anyway) working for the same outcome: the protection and restoration of habitat and the continued conservation of wildlife.

    P.S. Stoner: I’m sure I would very much enjoy a trip into the back country of Idaho with you, whether we saw a wolf or not!

  118. avatar ID_Paul says:

    ProWolf – First, as Stoner said, this area has never been overpopulated by elk. The herd numbers have not been unnatural, and are currently well below capacity.

    What benchmark do you use to decide what is a “normal” elk population? I have heard the “overpopulated” argument from a lot of wolf advocates and just don’t buy it – not in Idaho. Central Idaho can’t be compared to Yellowstone, RMNP, or the NER in Wyoming. 2009 can’t be compared to 1809.

    I can walk for miles through prime elk country and see very little elk manure or tracks. The bunchgrasses and sedges are untouched. That hardly sounds like an unnaturally overpopulated situation.

    In my original post my comment of seeing them “grazing by the hundreds” wasn’t the best choice of words, given the overpopulation/unnatural conditions argument. There was one very large meadow below the mountain where we used to camp. What I was seeing was a temporary mingling of multiple smaller groups that entered the meadow from the surrounding drainages in the evening.

    I’m gathering from various things I read that there may be more artificial herd manipulation in Wyoming by means of elk feedlots and such. I am not aware of any area of Idaho where the elk population exceeds the carrying capacity of their
    habitat.

    My comment about elk being terrorized was not an emotional statement. It was simply in reply to what I read as your implication that elk are more “wild” when wolves are around. I disagree. They were completely wild before wolf reintroduction. I have never had elk or deer approach me or otherwise act tame anywhere in Idaho. Did I say something that made you think that happened?

    I do agree with you that nature is at times cruel and violent. Does not living in violent conditions terrorize – cause a state of distress – any creature?

    As for wolf advocates’ fears of irresponsible management, all I can suggest is to read the official wolf management plan. It clearly states that they are not out to eradicate wolves.

  119. avatar Cris Waller says:

    “I do agree with you that nature is at times cruel and violent. Does not living in violent conditions terrorize – cause a state of distress – any creature?”

    Ungulates have evolved with carnivores throughout their existence. They have evolved to deal with the stress of an environment where predators are present; being in a constant state of heightened physiological arousal isn’t conducive to survival. Learning what is dangerous and how and when to respond to danger is.

    In the studies I have found, stress (as measured by fecal glucocorticoids) is not increased when ungulates are simply in environments with predators. A study of African ungulates, for example, found much more stress variation linked to changes in season. A paper by Millspaugh and Washburn on the factors that can confound measurement of fecal glucocorticoids in wil animals didn’t even mention the presence of predators.

    It’s interesting how some people chide others for “humanizing” wolves while at the same time insisting that elk in the presence of wolves must live in constant terror.

  120. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    ID_Paul,
    As far as benchmarks to determine overpopulation, I do not have official numbers. However, in places like Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park where it is clear that elk are overgrazing. As far as central Idaho, I may not know about that area as much, but the fact is that wolves and elk coexisted there for thousands of years and I see no reason why they couldn’t coexist again. It doesn’t make sense.
    You are right about the unnatural conditions (feedlots is a good description) that do exist in Wyoming and I think it is no coincidence we worry about CWD and brucellosis whereas I don’t hear that much about it in Idaho. Wolves going into those areas would be a good thing to disperse the herds. As far as elk not exceeding the carrying capacity in Idaho, that is probably indicative of why they are not having problems like we are here in Wyoming and in Colorado in terms of disease (at least according to what I have read).
    As far as the terrorizing and distress comment, that is natural conditions. I think it is safe to say that most animals live in an environment like that and the wolves are hardly immune. They may be an apex predator but they still get kicked and gored by prey, come into conflicts with other packs, and compete with mountain lions and bears. They are hardly living the good life.
    I know that the official plans in Idaho and Montana do not call for eradication, but the sentiment of Otter, Rammel, and Gillette makes me worry more. Even in Wyoming with the predator zone, there wasn’t nearly this much anti-wolf rhetoric.

  121. avatar josh sutherland says:

    Cris,
    The for side of the “humanizing” is significantly worse, on this blog alone, I have heard them referenced as “families” “mothers” “aunts” “sisters” and “murdered” and at times their situation compared to the civil rights movement.

  122. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Josh, wolf packs are made up of related animals so doesn’t that fit the definition of family? Families have mothers, aunts, and sisters don’t they? Those words are not used just for people. I suppose if we were calling them men, women and children then it would be different. The word murder might be a bit off though.

  123. avatar ID_Paul says:

    Of course elk, wolves and other species have survived for unknown millennia. One problem is, none of us were around to see what actually happened. It’s easy to sit here at computers and speculate about history, not so easy to know the year-by-year events of the past. Who knows how many times one or more species still with us today suffered from a serious population decline; perhaps one factor being all that prevented extinction? There’s no way to know for sure.

    The bigger problem is that regardless of history, the land that deer, elk, moose, wolves, bears and cougars now inhabit is very, very different than it was before the wolf population of the region was virtually extirpated. It isn’t reasonable to just toss the wolf back into the ecosystem and expect everything to work itself out just fine because our local species survived history.

    Yes, living with possibility of injury or death is part of the natural cycle. No disagreement there, but the hunting methods of wolf packs are so different than other existing predators, the change on the elk herds’ behavior is clear. Bears and cougars have always been here, and nothing I have heard indicates they have ever changed elk habits in all that time even close to the extent the wolves have caused in just a few years.

    Cris – The most recent study on stress hormones does indicate that there was no significant increase in stress hormones. However that is not the whole story. Perhaps it is not “constant terror” as you suggest I said, but would logically be more than before wolves were reintroduced – even if it is not a strong enough chronic stress to increase fecal cortisol.

    Here is a quote from the study’s abstract: “When wolves are present, elk alter their grouping patterns, vigilance, foraging behavior, habitat selection, and diet. These responses are associated with decreased progesterone levels, decreased calf production, and reduced population size [Creel S, Christianson D, Liley S, Winnie JA (2007) Science 315:960]”

    One of the authors of the study said in a news article, “Elk regularly hunted by wolves are essentially starving faster than those not hunted by wolves.” – http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=7324

    The results of that study match up with what I have personally seen, and what so many people who spend time in the Idaho backcountry have also reported.

  124. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Brian Ertz has proven to us Otter is a worthless brown noser. Actually I already new it, don’t worry about him. Rammel might get 64 votes total, no worries there either. And one foot on the banana peel the other foot in his own hat Gillette has done nothing but yell loudly at best. No sweat there either. Fear is false enemy’s appearing real. The Lobos are putting on a waltz in the thick timber and its all good on the Sawtooth front, we did have a howling contest this morning for 45 minutes but they were not going for it this time because they know there it, I have it straight from the wolves mouth, sorry Stoner no photos until spring, we’re on to ya. ha ha. P.S., We think that crow call is cute, nice try old man, but we don’t trust ya. Shucks, I need a nap. No, I wasn’t hunting with my Stoner, it was my Pentax.

  125. avatar Cris Waller says:

    “Who knows how many times one or more species still with us today suffered from a serious population decline; perhaps one factor being all that prevented extinction? There’s no way to know for sure.”

    Actually, we can know for sure- at least if such a situation did occur, We can measure genomic diversity, and, if it is very low (like it is among African cheetahs, for example,) we know that that species suffered a genetic bottleneck at some time in the past.

    “It isn’t reasonable to just toss the wolf back into the ecosystem and expect everything to work itself out just fine because our local species survived history.”
    Well, let’s do better studies then to see if “everything is fine.” Let’s define “fine” in a way that does not equate “having plenty of animals for hunters to shoot” or “having maximal numbers of elk.” As far as I am concerned, the *less* interference an ecosystem needs from humans, the “closer to fine” (to quote the Indigo Girls!) it is.

    As far as I am concerned, a decline in elk numbers in an area is not, in and of itself, a problem. Automatically assuming that there must therefore be “management” to raise elk numbers up to what some hunters expect them to be is a problem.

    As far as the study, again, if we are looking at maintaining elk as elk, and not letting human pressures be the primary driver of their evolution, than the decine in birth rate and survival isn’t a problem. As the link you gave noted, “Elk are potentially long-lived, and many prior studies have shown that, in species like this, natural selection favors individuals who do not compromise their own survival for the sake of a single reproductive opportunity.” In additiopn, although I am not an elk expert, I would guess that extensive grazing isn’t what elk evolved to do, but that they were taking advantage of an open niche provided by the extirpation of wolves and the tremendous decline in the bison population. So wolves are possibly just restoring the status quo to what it had been for millennia, not causing a perturbance.

    “the hunting methods of wolf packs are so different than other existing predators, the change on the elk herds’ behavior is clear.”
    Why is that a bad thing? Most of the effects are positive for the elk and for their environment.

  126. avatar JEFF E says:

    Josh,
    Just a question to ponder.
    I have heard you refer to your religious background from time to time and with that in mind I have a question.
    If the Heavenly Father created all living things, man and animal, why would He not use the same structure within each species?
    I too have some problem with the human family nomenclature,( human created), but, why not the same structure?

  127. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Cris,

    Then simply one predator must retire from the game. Me. I suppose the bad thing forth coming is the die off of surplus wolves then, as the Sawtooth Zone is obviously well below the elk carrying capacity the Zone provides for, thus the elk carrying capacity for the existing surplus of wolves also is below carrying capacity.

    ” When top carnivores such as wolves are added to halt the inevitable long-term damage to the ecosystem, the ultimate result (unless predator density is carefully controlled) is depleted prey populations that remain well below the carrying capacity of their range. Once the predators also deplete their alternate food sources, they succumb to starvation, disease and killing each other.”

    IDFG has come out and admitted wolves are killing each other. And these herds are mere shadows of their former selves. Seems history is credible after all.

  128. avatar Cris Waller says:

    SR25Stoner

    The quote you posted is from George Dovel, whose credentials are unstated, writing for the Western Institute for Study of the Environment, a fairly-strident anti-wolf “wise use” website, not from the IDFG. I tjink it’s important to make that clear.

    By the way, of course wolves kill each other. They always have. They evolved that way. Most mammalian predators, from lions to mink, do the same thing. It may seem repugnant to us humans, but it is *not* a sign of overpopulation or mismanagement.

  129. avatar JB says:

    ID_Paul:

    Please understand that fluctuations in populations are “natural”–that is, they occur in the absence of any human management. Just because elk are declining in some areas doesn’t mean wolves will drive them into extinction.

    Moreover, severe decreases in abundance can be quite desirable! Allowing a population to exist without selective pressures from a top level predator can have detrimental consequences for the population in terms of size and ability to deal with predation (e.g. island populations). In the case of wolves and elk, changes in the abundance of the latter have promoted changes in the species composition inside of YNP. My point is, ecosystems are naturally in a state of flux, it is only with human manipulation (management) that species abundance is fixed at a certain level.

    There are numerous examples of wolves co-existing with ungulates with little or no human population checks. Take a look at this graph from Isle Royale for an interesting comparison: http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/data/data/womoabund.html. Note, the data here is wonderful due to the fact that many confounding variables are removed (e.g. in and out migration, presence of other prey species, presence of other predators, variation in ecosystem types). Notice the roughly 10-15 year cycle (peaks and valleys) in both populations.

    Note: Management can stabilize elk and wolf populations. The question is, is this type of stabilization desirable? And if so, is it desirable everywhere? Or put another way, should we always manage for stable populations and “harvestable surplus”?

  130. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Cris,

    Yes, Dovel wrote the quote, he is not anti wolf he is pro better management of wolves as I am. I want the wolves to work, I also want to hunt elk. This is and on going experiment and the final telling results are not in yet..

    http://www.2news.tv/news/39146442.html Idaho Director of Fish and Game, Cal Groen, says the wolves are getting over crowded, are reducing deer and elk herds by 15% and that the wolves are now beginning to kill each other. Depleted prey populations that remain well below carrying capacity of their range.

    The above is what I have witnessed in the Sawtooth Zone. I can not speak for other units or zones. Although I have rode the horses from Altanta over the Leggit divide and topped out again at Snowslide and crossed over to Big Peak and rode a lot of unit 43, doing the Smokey Creek Loop, and returned over Alturas’s Mattingly Divide, a once very rich elk area, I found it to be void of tracks and scat. Twice in the dark i rode for several hours and the wolves were present, all though they only sang for me..

  131. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    “Management can stabilize elk and wolf populations. The question is, is this type of stabilization desirable? And if so, is it desirable everywhere? Or put another way, should we always manage for stable populations and “harvestable surplus”?

    Harvestable surplus is not just good for me, it is good for wild predators, as well does Isle Royal show fluctuations for other predators during this time frame ? Is it comparable to this scenario we debate now, which includes me, cougars, bears, and even the wolverine, since the wolverine competes with the wolves also.

    I think we need the surplus.

  132. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    I left out the golden eagle which preys on deer.. A lot to balance.

  133. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    “How delicate is the balance of nature?” (National Wildlife 23(1):54-59) David Mech admitted that his brief research at Isle Royale as a graduate student “helped fix the balance-of-nature idea in the public mind.” But he also wrote, “During two decades of wolf research in northern Minnesota and on Isle Royale in Michigan, I have learned that far from always being ‘balanced,’ ratios of wolves and prey animals can fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically.”

    Mech also described how protected wolves had destroyed the once famous white-tailed deer herd in northeast Minnesota during severe winters in the 1960s while he studied them. When the wolves ran out of deer in that area and turned to killing moose, Minnesota authorities closed the entire state to deer hunting in 1971. …

  134. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    ID_Paul, It would not make sense for an animal to be pushed to extinction by predators. If wolves were this efficient then they should have pushed the elk, deer, and moose to extinction a long time ago and then they would have gone extinct themselves. Yes, the ecosystem has changed since people were on the scene, but people being around does not mean that wolves can’t be around. No, wolves will not live everywhere they once lived. There is no reason that they can’t survive in other areas with habitat, which is exactly what central Idaho has plenty of (as well as plenty of grizzly habitat). As far as elk habits not changing due to bears and cougars, those are not major predators of elk, especially the black bear that is there.
    I agree with Cris. Populations doing fine should not mean more elk for hunters to shoot.

    Once the predators also deplete their alternate food sources, they succumb to starvation, disease and killing each other.
    IDFG has come out and admitted wolves are killing each other. And these herds are mere shadows of their former selves. Seems history is credible after all.

    Stoner, wolves kill each other due to territorial disputes or even when members of the same pack try to take the alpha position. I am sure biologists with a fish and game department would have to know that.

  135. avatar JB says:

    I think people are too quick to depict the wolf-ungulate issue as a “zero sum” game–that is, a game where you are either the winner or loser.

    In the post entitled, “Of Wolves & Wilderness”, Mark Gamblin of IDF&G said: “Management by definition is human intervention to achieve a desired outcome.” I agree, completely. What we need to recognize is that different stakeholders have different views regarding what outcomes they find most desirable. From what I hear, many non-consumptive users of wildlife would like to watch the drama of wolves and elk play out without human intervention. That doesn’t mean the whole state should be managed that way, but we could learn a LOT about predator prey dynamics if parts of the state were managed that way.

    The all or nothing approach is the problem. It isn’t a matter of WOLVES OR ELK its a matter of where do we emphasize wolves and where do we emphasize elk….or at least it should be.

  136. avatar JB says:

    “…does Isle Royal show fluctuations for other predators during this time frame?”

    Isle Royale has only one top-level predator and only one prey species, that is one of the reasons why it is such a wonderful laboratory for studying predator-prey dynamics.

    “…I have learned that far from always being ‘balanced,’ ratios of wolves and prey animals can fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically.”

    Which is exactly my argument. Fluctuation is natural, and those who study evolution would argue that it is desirable as well. Change in the abundance of top level predators and ungulates promotes changes in the composition of other species. Change is the natural state of things!

    “When the wolves ran out of deer in that area and turned to killing moose, Minnesota authorities closed the entire state to deer hunting in 1971.”

    Somewhere I have data on wolf populations and deer populations in Minnesota (can’t seem to find it). Suffice it to say, there is little correlation between the two. I know the deer manager in MN quite well and they are currently more concerned with trying to figure out how to kill more deer than with any effect wolves are having.

    —-

    I would be happy to support a plan that promoted heavy management of wolves in some areas and no management in (a few) others. Such a program would allow for some semblance of natural population fluctuation to take place. And, in my estimation, would help disprove the non-stop chorus of “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!”

  137. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    “When the wolves ran out of deer in that area and turned to killing moose, Minnesota authorities closed the entire state to deer hunting in 1971.”

    Stoner, do you think maybe deer populations might have been having problems then? Considering that there are many more wolves in Minnesota now than there were in 1971, and hunters are still shooting lots of them and cars are still hitting plenty of them, I don’t think wolves are or ever have been eating them all. Also, shouldn’t the moose population have had a major decrease since the deer were gone?

  138. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    The author of the quote says it all to me, harsh winters were a factor along with the wolves, you could argue that hunters were a factor then also, but they had a season to abide by, and we need the rules of those hunts and harvest data by hunters before we can push their impact either way. Wolves and harsher winters did impact the deer according to Mech, I at least must attribute the harsh winter even if Mech is not, but he likely did.. So yes I think Mech states the problems he witnessed while there.

    I just started Alaska’s wolf man-The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser, by Jim Rearden, interesting, He supports the over predations theory’s of wolves, but refutes healthy wolves bothering man, excepting rabid cases, and starved wolves of course. I’ve decided to stick to my decision to pass on the taking of a wolf. I’ll take and elk and call it good. Time will tell us what is right or wrong about this experiment and hopefully the right corrections and or adjustments can be made.

  139. avatar Cris Waller says:

    I don’t think the Minnesota closure was due to wolves. In fact, the first article I found, from the Minnesota DNR, “Minnesota’s Growing Game-Game wildlife populations are booming today thanks to hunter-funded management programs.” doesn’t even mention wolves:
    “In the spring of 1971, Minnesota’s newly appointed wildlife chief did the unthinkable. The state’s deer herd was tottering on the point of collapse. Ravaged by severe winters in the late 1960s, an overharvest of does, and continual habitat loss, the depleted white-tailed deer population could no longer sustain a regular hunting season. The Department of Conservation, as the Department of Natural Resources was then known, had authority to adjust hunting seasons and limits, but it couldn’t require hunters to shoot only bucks or limit the number of hunters who could take does. Roger Holmes, the agency’s 33-year-old wildlife chief, realized he had only one option to protect the struggling deer herd: He recommended that the commissioner — Robert Herbst — close the season statewide. Herbst agreed.”

  140. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    It probably was all hunters fault, the one to three weeks annually to harvest a deer certainly would decimate deer herds, harsh long winter months and predations by wolves 365-24-7 had absolutely nothing to do with the failure.

  141. avatar Cris Waller says:

    SR25Stoner-

    I am not making up what I posted. It came straight from the Minnesota DNR.

    “harsh long winter months”
    Did you actually read the article? Notice that the third sentence starts “Ravaged by severe winters in the late 1960s…”

    Also, note that wolves were trapped and hunted year-round in Minn. until 1974. Before this, the statewide population was estimated at about 750 wolves.

  142. avatar JB says:

    The Minnesota deer population in the North Central region of the state (where wolves are present) fluctuates (i.e decreases and increases) over time.

    Fuller (1990) studied a variety of factors believed to be affecting white-tails in the regions during the late 1980s. Here is what he found were the causes of mortality:

    Legal hunting: 15%
    Poaching: 5%
    Wounding during hunting season: 3%
    Predation by wolves: 4%
    Predation by domestic dogs: 1%
    Predation by other (non human) predators: 2%
    Other causes: 2%

    “Sensitivity analyses using plausible extremes of reproduction, summer fawn survival, winter survival, wolf mortality, and hunting pressure indicated that changes in harvest had the greatest impact on rates of population change. However, acceptable changes in hunting pressure alone likely would not cause the population to increase. Subsequent modeling incorporating successive years with mild winters and reduced harvest of antlerless deer resulted in a stable to increasing population. Biologists using accounting models with reasonable input data will be able to manage deer populations with greater understanding, but must realize the limitations of their predictive abilities.”

  143. avatar JB says:

    Oops, forgot the citation:

    Fuller, T.K. 1990. Dynamics of a Declining White-Tailed Deer Population in North-Central Minnesota. Wildlife Monographs, 110, 3-37.

  144. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    It probably was all hunters fault, the one to three weeks annually to harvest a deer certainly would decimate deer herds, harsh long winter months and predations by wolves 365-24-7 had absolutely nothing to do with the failure.

    I don’t think anyone is blaming hunters.

  145. avatar JB says:

    ProWolf:

    Nope, nobody will blame hunters. But hunters and poachers together killed 23% while wolves plus all other predators killed just 7%; and here we are again having to defend the big bad wolf.

    If you actually take the time to read the article I cited, they note that a host of different factors impacted white-tail populations (and they really didn’t even get into habitat, which is a major flaw). But again, it’s got to be a zero-sum game. Somebody or something must be to blame! And that thing/person/species must be punished!

    The truth is that populations NATURALLY FLUCTUATE! In my estimation, hunters have become way too used to having harvestable surpluses every year, in every region (regardless of habitat).

    You know the real story in all of this is that both wolves and deer have increased substantially since 1971–despite the fact that wolves have been listed as threatened the entire time. Now MN has more deer than they know what to do with.

  146. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    Looks like management at that time should eat it. Hunters did get punished for it in the end, of that era, now rewarded it seems with the surplus. Hey man, hunters have blamed hunters before, Elmer Keith, myself, and others.

    People obviously wished to avoid the natural fluctuations and sustain a resource for the table. The bottom line is dinner time boys, Another thing humans get to used to is readily available surplus foods and the humans get lazy and forget about famines.

    I will of course put and elk on the table again shortly, but several Idahoans will not. And some folks will say they don’t need this source of protein, ok fine, I agree. I also look south and see 50% of this nations resources which grow from the ground turning to dust over a smolt.. ok fine again, maybe Americans should write ESA in black on their dinner plates.

    I also like organic almonds, sprouted, and I make fresh almond milk also, seems the ESA could freeze that bad habit soon to..

    And once again I blame management for the fluctuation we are seeing on the ground here right now. Wolves will die off, ungulates will make a come back, and then it will repeat. How wonderful. And the bottom line, it all started over from human management, that is not nature, we did it, because we started it.

  147. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    The truth is that populations NATURALLY FLUCTUATE! In my estimation, hunters have become way too used to having harvestable surpluses every year, in every region (regardless of habitat).

    That is the fundamental fact that these hunting groups and magazine like Outdoor Life ignore. They expect there to be a surplus. Look at Colorado. The Division of Wildlife has this long-standing opposition to restoring wolves and grizzly bears to the state. As author Mike Lapinski says, Colorado is a gian elk factory.

    You know the real story in all of this is that both wolves and deer have increased substantially since 1971–despite the fact that wolves have been listed as threatened the entire time. Now MN has more deer than they know what to do with.

    People seem to look past this. It’s too bad that some of these wolves can’t be restored to other regions they are native to due to no available habitat.

  148. avatar Cobra says:

    Pro-Wolf,
    Blackbears are a major predator on elk calves in the spring which makes them a major predator of elk. We see bears carryin off calves every spring. In fact I have friends that hunt spring bear and are successful because they know the calving grounds.

  149. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    You know I had not mentioned this yet either in my replies and Cobra just caused me to think of it again, something that I find odd as of late, I see bears all the time, out in the open just doing their thing, this has increased in the last three years, I’ve been wondering why ? Does it mean more bears ? Or are they seeking more nourishment from grass, plants, berries, roots, bugs ? They are mostly feeding when I observe them. I have enjoyed this rare event, as it is not normal at all here. They don’t seem to worried about me riding past either and they just keep on trying to eat.

  150. avatar Cobra says:

    Stoner,
    We’ve got a bumper crop of bears up here this year. My son and I have some pretty good video of a couple from our elk stands. We see them just about every day we’re there. The major reason is our property is loaded with choke cherries and elderberries and the yogis’ love em. Almost makes it hard to walk up some of the steeper trails cause we’re slipping in bear crap all the way up.

  151. avatar SoSad says:

    I have been reading thru these threads about the wolf hunt debate, and as of now the season is open. I personally do not believe that I have the right to end a life for recreation/sport or because they are a annoyance. Whether that life is animal or human, it is still a life. Especially from a species that functions as a family.

    It is sad but true that there are going to be instances where wolves and humans living in the same terriotory may cause problems for one another. If you are killing protecting your life it seems to be just. But then when the wolves kill to eat/survive the same rule does not apply.

    I am not saying that the wolves should get to over run the territory and destroy our homes and livestock…. the point that I am making is we shouldn’t be doing it to them either.

    I do believe that the goverment should provide the funds to supply the equipment necessary to protect our homes and livestock in the territories with growing wolf populations so that we can avoid these conflicts.

    Unfortunately this is a lose/lose situation at the moment. Since we are suppose to be the species that regulates the population, I see no reason why we cannot come up with a smarter solution than killing.

    And if there is a solution that comes about and their are not enough game left to hunt for sport… then thats just to bad. I do believe that the survival of this species is more important than killing for recreation.

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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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