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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.

48 Responses to Wolf work mounts: With 1st Montana hunting season done, canine hides in taxidermists’ hands

  1. With the “Exposure of…” thread going viral itself in the meantime, why not put a little fuel into this one here: “They(the local wolves)´re pretty impressive”, the taxidermist says. Agreed, they are indeed, especially when romping around alive! What a sad end for those bears from Russia, to end up in the horror cabinet of a wealthy American. A 15ft long display of running Alaskan wolves in a Texas living room? Great, many of these objects will be discarded in a few years by the proud heroes heirs, bug infested and covered with dust!

  2. avatar Layton says:

    Peter,

    “What a sad end for those bears from Russia, to end up in the horror cabinet of a wealthy American”

    Just in an “American” cabinet right??

    C’mon Peter, I’ve lived and worked in Germany quite a bit. I’ve seen MANY mounts and trophies adorning everything from living rooms to hotel lobbies. It isn’t just an “American thing”.

    European mounts of Rhea (sp?) deer and any type of bear mount from full body to rugs seem to be the most popular. Every once in awhile there is even one of a “WapitiHirsch” on someone’s wall.

    Sorry about the spelling. German isn’t my strong suit.

  3. Yes Layton you are absolutely right. And one of the last austrian bears was also discovered recently by the authorities, mounted in the living room (horror cabinet) of a well known hunter (poacher). My remark was only to point to fact that these remains travelled halfway across the globe to grace an american living room. I am well aware that this also works vice versa. I´m not anti american at all. At least you responded to my little “teaser” (Layton, honestly, I´d miss you if you´d quit blogging here!)

  4. Did anyone notice that Carter Neimeyer was right. The wolves shot early in hunt had poor quality fur and difficult for a good mount?

  5. Wildlife photographers also do not like to picture a wolf in summer coat. Ever seen a wolf during the coat changing? Not very impressive! But that´s what you get when you cannot wait or suppress the desire to shoot a wolf………

  6. avatar JEFF E says:

    …”Did anyone notice that Carter Neimeyer was right. The wolves shot early in hunt had poor quality fur and difficult for a good mount?”

    However Mark Gamblin maintained a number of times that the summer pelt would provide a excellent trophy pelt for a rug or mount (somewhat of a paraphrase, but that was the jist of that load of ****)
    And for what is a significantly inferior pelt it will cost ~1000.00 + dollars for something that apparently the taxidermists don’t even feel good about.

  7. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Raph, JeffE –
    My comments on the quality of wolf pelts early in the hunting season and more importantly, the value of those pelts to individual hunters – as trophies – are in fact supported by this article. The concept of a “trophy” is different for each hunter. Certainly, we are accustomed to think of trophies as large antler racks, or horns or early winter prime pelts. For most hunters, those attributes of the animals physical stature are desireable. Desireable is the operative word. Each individual hunter, photographer or wildlife viewer measures the quality of their wildlife experience by many different and personal values. This was my point – that even a sub-prime wolf pelt will be highly valued by many hunters, as a token of that hunting experience. You or I can apply our own values to the “quality” of a early season wolf pelt trophy, but in a discussion of trophy value, our personal values are relevant only to ourselves. It is highly presumptuous to suggest that those hunters who chose to take a wolf pelt early in the season do not value the wolves or the pelts they successfully collected.
    The facts are: the 2009 Idaho and Montana wolf hunting seasons have been a success. Montana was able to meet it’s conservative wolf population (harvest/kill) objectives. Idaho is well short of achieving our conservative wolf population (harvest/kill) objectives, but this season is an important learning experience to guide future successful wolf hunting seasons. All indications are that successful (and unsuccessful) hunters are happy with their hunting experiences.

  8. avatar JEFF E says:

    “While that reassured wildlife management officials that private hunters would be able to find and kill wolves, it vexed the taxidermists who received the pelts. That’s because wolves and most other furbearing animals still have their light “unprimed” summer coats until around mid-November.

    Hennriken demonstrated the difference with a pair of coyote hides hanging in his shop. Although the animals were the same length and weighed roughly the same, one shot in summer had a noticeably thinner fur and skinnier tail than the prime hide shot last winter. The belly in particular on the prime hide had much longer and fuller covering.

    “This would be worth peanuts to a fur buyer,” he said of the summer coyote. “On the flanks, there’s almost no hair at all. It’s night and day, the difference you’ll see.”

    In the corner of his showroom, Hennriken had a single white wolf on a full-body stand. It was an early season kill, and its fur has a frizzy, almost transparent look.”

    Sure Mark, whatever you say.

  9. avatar Save bears says:

    I don’t think the value of the pelt to a fur buyer would have any bearing on the individual hunter, I seriously doubt any of the hunters that participated in this first hunt were doing so, with the intent of selling the pelt. I don’t know this to be fact, but have spoke to quite a few people who participated and they didn’t have any intention of selling them.

  10. avatar Ryan says:

    Jeff E,

    What Mark is saying is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and market value should have little impact in this discussion as almost all of the wolves killed this year will not be sold. Hell, I’ve seen mounted does and immature forkenhorns.

  11. avatar josh sutherland says:

    I saw a spike mounted once, and I also knew a guy who killed a bull that scored 385 with his bow and sold it to Cabelas for $3000. I was speechless……

  12. avatar josh sutherland says:

    To him it was worth $3000 in my eyes, if I killed that bull it would have to be a helluva lot more than that.

  13. avatar JEFF E says:

    Nowhere did I say anything about selling the pelts.
    The article makes mention of it. the point I made was that even the taxidermists were unimpressed with the summer pelts.
    Ryan et all. reading comprehension classes are offered thru adult education.
    If someone wants to throw away 1000+ for a scraggly summer pelt which will start losing hair after very little wear have at it. Like trying to make a silk purse out of a sows’ ear

  14. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    Prime or sub-prime, hair does not slip on a properly tanned pelt. The only difference between a prime and sub-prime pelt is the thickness of the pelage.
    Based on your last post, I think we should be able to agree that hunters who choose to kill a wolf before pelts are prime can indeed put a high value on that “trophy”.

  15. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    yes it does,
    Why do you think that pelts an furs are stored in cold storage for all but the few hours a year that the garment is being used.
    I have been around any number of processed hides, pelts and furs. they ALL shed or slip fur/hair. True the very high end processes will end up slowing that down but it still happens and happens faster with sub-prime pelts.
    goo

  16. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    This seemingly small point is important because it goes directly to your mischaracterization that a wolf harvested/killed early in the season can’t be valued by hunters.
    Sub-prime (blue) pelts have little commercial value because the pelage of the pelt lacks the winter underfur of a prime pelt. There is no other difference between a blue or a prime pelt. A properly tanned blue (sub-prime) pelt does not slip hair more than a prime pelt – which is to say it does not slip hair. Cured pelts and finished fur garments are sometimes kept in cold storeage for protection from insects and sunlight, not because cold storeage is necessary to protect against hair slippage.
    OK, lots of verbage to establish a small but important fact. The value or quality of a wolf taken by a hunter in August or September is determined by that hunter and his or her personal experience and values. Very few hunters will shoot a wolf for the monetary value of the pelt, but those hunters will put a high value on the experience and the pelt, as a trophy, will be a valued token and reminder of the hunt.
    It’s clear that you would not shoot a wolf and cannot relate to the hunter who does respect the wolf and does put a high value on the animal and the trophy if the hunter is fortunate to be successful. This illustrates another reality of this wildlife management controversy. The wildlife conservation community is highly polarized on this issue with much misunderstanding and mistrust on each side. For this misunderstanding the facts are that a wolf taken in August or mid November is still a valued experience by the hunter.

  17. avatar gline says:

    This is a really disgusting conversation for those who watch wolves and take pictures of them. Admire them as animals not a pelage…..What about that “pelage’s” family? Wonder?

    I’m sure I’ll get the reply don’t like it don’t read, but that is a 2 way street…

  18. avatar JEFF E says:

    Like trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear
    Mark, you know nothing about me or what I would or would not do.
    Where did I ever say I would not shoot a wolf.
    It would have to be for more than just to kill it and it would certainly not be with a worthless summer pelt. Be like shooting a starving deer in February and then brag about the venison steaks I have in the freezer.
    As for slippage, I probably need to rephrase that as opposed to shedding. Slippage is losing hair in “patches” and can and will happen to any tanned hid/fur/pelt if not continuously cared for, like any other garment. Some things that will cause it for example is prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, extended period of high humidity, or improper storage.
    Shedding on the other hand, the overall loss of individual hairs, will happen a some rate, dependant on many factors over time, as evidenced personally with my wolf pelt lined caribou parka given to me by family in Alaska.

  19. avatar JEFF E says:

    …….if there is no difference why don’t you recommend that all fur bearer seasons be opened the first of September?

  20. avatar Cobra says:

    People like to watch and take pictures of elk, deer and moose also gline, why doesn’t that bother you? Wolves are just another animal like bears and cougars each a great speciman in their own right, although I must admit I get a greater thrill out of seeing a cougar than wolves or bears, probably because we see them less. I get a thrill out of seeing wolves and hearing them howl also, but they are just another animal, no mystic powers, no cure-all to the environment just another cog in the system.

  21. avatar Save bears says:

    Jeff

    Fur Bearer seasons are set for prime fur, because the individuals participating are planing on selling their fur for money, wolf hunting is not. Trappers trap to make a profit..

    And please I didn’t say ya or nay, I am just simply stating fact..

  22. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    You are right. I don’t know you and I don’t know if you would shoot a wolf or not. It is/was my impression that you would not choose to hunt and shoot a wolf.
    Harvest/kill seasons for other fur bearers are set according to the management objectives for those species. Different species with different management issues. Beavers are frequently in conflict with private property owners, and road managers when they flood property, fell trees on property or plug culverts. We adjust harvest/kill seasons to reduce those conflicts (not unlike wolf management objectives), issue kill permits or use live traps to remove problem beavers. Other fur bearers don’t conflict with elk management objectives or cause depredation conflicts with livestock and pets, as wolves do.

  23. avatar JEFF E says:

    But what if I wanted to hunt a furbearer and did not care if the pelt was in prime condition or not. I just wanted to have the Memory of the experience. Why should I and other hunters not have that opportunity?

  24. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    If you are asking why should you be deprived of the opportunity to shoot a fur bearer or game animal without making use of the meat or the pelt (whichever is required) – the answer is first it would be illegal to do so and second, it’s illegal because society does not sanction “waste” of those animals. Waste, in this case being defined as killing the animal without consuming (idividually or by donation) the meat or making use of the pelt/skin/hide/fur.
    If your question is simply, what if you want to legally trap or shoot a furbearer and didn’t care if the pelt is prime, that would be your choice to make. You would still be required to harvest (not waste) the pelt. Trappers and hunters are not required to harvest the meat of fur bearers, though many do eat beaver, muskrat, bobcat and lynx.

  25. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    where did I say I was for doing something illegal,
    please do not apply your moral standards to me.
    I simply asked why if a non-prime pelt is good enough for the reason to harvest one animal then why not others.

  26. avatar Save bears says:

    Jeff,

    I am confused as to what your trying to say here, I would say, if a legal season is open for an animal, the the quality of the pelt does not come into it at all, it would be your choice to take a non prime or prime pelted animal…

  27. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    I didn’t apply moral standards to your behavior. I gave you the most complet answer I could, not being clear on what your question was. I think SB probably answered your question better than I did.

  28. avatar Save bears says:

    I know a lot of hunters who don’t consider a deer in its prime until it is hard horned and ready for rut, and then there are the hunters out there that consider a velvet horned animal to be great, but it is up to the hunter on which he/she chooses to take, I have taken deer and elk both in velvet and hard horned, it has been a personal choice as long as there was a legal hunting season going on…

  29. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    let me elucidate.
    We have had many conversations about the wolf season starting in the summer.
    My point is that starting at that time is for no other reason than to kill wolves as the only reason to kill a wolf would, normally, be for the pelt which is worthless in the summer.

    Your position is that in addition to the challenge of hunting a wolf, that a summer pelt would indeed represent a personally satisfying memento of the kill, even to the tune of spending 1000+ dollars to have it processed. The subject of this thread confirms that is so.

    So if that is the case; many hunters just wanting a memento of a kill regardless of quality thereof, why not make that the standard for all species?
    After all as you have said, “those that want prime pelts/furs will wait until that is the case”, and those who just want to kill something and have a memento of the experience should have that opportunity across the board.

  30. avatar Ryan says:

    Jeff E.

    Here is where you are missing the point, the trophy is in the eye of the beholder. You seem heart set that the only trophy wolf has a full winter coat, that is your definition of a trophy wolf.

    BTW it is a standard of all species within the legal confines of the seasons set forth. One has the opportunity to harvest a buck or bull (in some cases) in velvet with a light summer coat all the way to hard horned with a dense winter coat.

    My reading comprehension is fine, your myopia is getting in the way.

  31. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    My point is simply that a wolf taken by a hunter in August can be a valued trophy just as a prime wolf taken by a hunter in mid-November is valued. Ryan and SB did a better job explaining that fact than I did in earlier posts.
    Without infering or intending any criticism of you personally, I believe the difficulty you seem to have with understanding this simple reality is indicative of the ignorance and lack of understanding by non-hunters and hunters for the values and traditions of each other’s valid wildlife resource user preferences. It would to our collective benefit if the energy expended in these discussions could be focused more on finding common ground and less on finding fault or assigning villany to differing philosophies and wildlife management preferences.

  32. avatar catbestland says:

    Mark,

    ” It would to our collective benefit if the energy expended in these discussions could be focused more on finding common ground and less on finding fault or assigning villany . . .”

    Does that common ground include IDFG’s willingness to stop the ill-conceived wholesale slaughter of wolves that exists at present, which would be in the best interest of the public who owns those wolves? If not, there is no common ground.

  33. avatar JEFF E says:

    ryan,
    Your reading comprehension is obviously lacking in that the subject of this thread is pelts in this case wolf, not antlers, velvet or otherwise. A very poor analogy.
    As stated in the subject article, many taxidermists, the professionals of the trade, are vexed, (let me help you out here and you are welcome:
    vexed
      /vɛkst/ [vekst] ,

    –adjective
    1. irritated; annoyed. )
    by the low quality of the summer pelts.
    I am simply echoing that position by those professionals and others, such as Carter Niemyer as quoted by Ralph.( I wonder who among all of us is more qualified than Mr Niemyer on all things wolf, who actually used the term “worthless”).
    So far from “myopic”(quite a big word for you) it is actually the majority or mainstream view of what constitutes an acceptable pelt. As far as “the eye of the beholder, I said but you may have not comprehended,”If someone wants to throw away 1000+ for a scraggly summer pelt which will start losing hair after very little wear have at it. Like trying to make a silk purse out of a sows’ ear” which again is echoing the opinion of the professionals in the trade.
    After that I asked why the same standard can not be applied to all species that are killed primarily/solely for the pelt/fur but which is obviously abstruse.
    Mark,
    Nice sidestep.
    Also good try at consensus building.
    It will probably be successful in this case.

  34. avatar Ryan says:

    Jeff E,

    I understand what you are saying, you feel that there is no trophy value to a wolf that is taken before prime fur occurs. Obiviously others do not feel the same way, at which time you feel it is necessary to push your values, reinforced by the opinions of others, on to this discussion as superior, refusing to look at other definition of a trophy.

    Ask the taxidermiest about the doe, spike, or other non trophy animals in their to be mounted by clients and they will no doubt be equally as vexed.

  35. avatar JEFF E says:

    ryan,
    far from pushing my values I am stating my opinion and nothing more. It is still my opinion that a summer pelt is worthless. That is not an opinion expressed only by myself but is more likely the majority thinking on the subject.
    No one has to accept my thinking on this subject or any other, and if it is indeed something to become defensive about the question becomes why if a summer pelt is ((acceptable)), then why should what I say matter at all.

  36. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    catbestland –
    There is no “wholesale slaughter” of wolves now or planned in the future. This type of misleading and mischaracterizing language is polarizing and does not contribute to real conservation progress.

  37. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    taking a population from ~1000 to ~500 would constitute what?

  38. avatar Elk275 says:

    Jeff E

    What if you have a population of 1000 elk and the wolves kill 500. What would that constitute?

  39. avatar Ryan says:

    “taking a population from ~1000 to ~500 would constitute what?”

    Jeff E,
    Where has the officially ever been stated? Or is it, like many other statements, just speculation to feed the fire?

  40. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    Taking a wolf population from approximately 1,000 animals to approximately 500 animals (the state wolf population management objective), with measured actions over a period of years would constitute successfully and responsibily achieving a population management objective. It would not constitute a “wholesale slaughter” , a phrase that evokes images of uncontrolled elimination of the population.

  41. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    So you are saying the state plans to reduce to that number “over a period of years”?
    How many years?
    Where is that detailed in the state management plan.
    Ryan,
    get up too speed or get off the playing field

  42. avatar JEFF E says:

    elky,
    that has probably happened over time, somewhere.
    It is called nature.
    We are talking about human management here however.
    Or miss-management to be more correct

  43. avatar JB says:

    “It would not constitute a “wholesale slaughter” , a phrase that evokes images of uncontrolled elimination of the population.”

    C’mon, Jeff! You are getting careless. How dare you suggest that IDF&G’s elimination of the wolf population will be “uncontrolled”! 😉

  44. avatar Elk275 says:

    “We are talking about human management here however.
    Or miss-management to be more correct”

    Wildlife in the tri-state area has been very well managed for the last 100 years allowing the herds to reach there carrying capacities or exceed them. Where they have exceeded the carrying capacity is because of lack of access. You may or may not like the treatment of predators but they been managed because of the will of the people. I copied this from a entry on Monster Muleys:

    Last Spring we were calving our heifers on pasture in a semi-developed area. When we pulled in the yard, we noticed one heifer was in labor. When we walked out to check a fox ran from behind her. The calf’s face was eaten and the calf was dead. Well, it became a war zone for us. We shot 4 foxes in 3 days. A few days later we pull in mid-day to check again. One heifer was down calving and behind it was a fox, circling the end of the heifer. Killed that one 5 feet from the cow.

    Our neighbor calved his herd of cows and had a heck of a time keeping the coyotes from killing the calves as they are being born. We also had coyotes eat a calf as it was being born and then they tore open the cow.

    My Dad and I had a fancy, reg. quarter horse in a pasture in Alpine. It was a small 2 acre pasture behind our friend’s home, but it boardered on open lands. One day I went to check on the horse and it was crazed and bloodied. When I finally got close enough I could clearly see a rake mark on its withers and 8 perfect holes on towards it’s hind quarters. Obviously a cougar had attempted to make it dinner, but failed. The horse was ruined after that.

    This all happen on private land.

    We are never going to go back to the times before Lewis and Clark and nor do I or you want to. The land ownership patterns are fragmented private, state, federal and trial each element wanting the highest and best use for there property.

    I do not think that the residents in Idaho, Wyoming or Montana wants the wolves to control the elk. This has been shown in commission meetings, public meetings and state legislators. You may win it in January with Molly and you may not. The wolves are going to be here but in what numbers.

    I can not stand the politics of Sarah Palin and could never support her, but book tour and her politics are drawing numerous people — I am very surprised, get her elected and the ESA will be gutted with a signing statement. I really do not think that the American people give a rat ass about wolves. There interest is their health care, if they can made there mortgage payment, their job security and their retirement.

    This afternoon I went to Costco and there was a red fox out hunting, I stopped and watched him for five minutes and then he had enough and was on the run for places only he knew — I was a very special sight.

  45. avatar Save bears says:

    Opinions supported by opinions supported by speculation and inuendo, now that constitutes science, of course only if the opinion agrees with your opinion! Who cares what the majority you quote think, I would imagine, the majority on the other side of the issue, probably have different opinions.

    Simply stated, the trophy is worth what it is worth to the one who takes it, and to hell with everybody else. Your majority Jeff, may very well not be the majority of those who made a choice to legally hunt a wolf, even if it was not a prime pelt, they valued the hunt and yes the kill, but maybe not the pelt and it is their choice to spend the $1000+- to have it prepared or mounted.

    Now Jeff, you have still not stated your point in this whole thread? Care to really bring up what is on your mind, do you want wolf season held off until such time as the pelts are prime, or do you want to be able to take fur bearers before their pelts are prime?

    Now of course that would present a conundrum! Because a fur bearer and a big game animal are two entirely different classifications as far as most game agencies are concerned..

    This thread is starting to remind me of my dog chasing her tail!

  46. avatar Elk275 says:

    Save Bears

    I could only hope to be as good a wordsmith as you are. You said what I can not say.

  47. With no open thread or other suitable thread currently available, there´s nevertheless something I´d like to share with you: More or less unnoticed by the rest of the world another controversial wolf hunt is planned for 2010 in Sweden. After nearly half a century of full protection Sweden is going to hunt 20-40 wolves (out of a population of around 200, recovered from “almost zero” 30 years ago, to put the numbers into the right perspective). Sweden intends to limit overall wolf numbers to max 210 despite a statement of scientists that at least 500 would be needed for a healthy population. Officials say that this hunt is intended to raise the “acceptance of wolves in the public” and to “cut down the many poaching incidents”. Its remains questionable if it is wise to surrender to criminality (always assuming that this the true reason behind), but they pretend that a similar hunting scheme for bears cut poaching of bears to nearly zero. Another question not answered is how the handful of wolves that in a mathematical manipulation are “shared” with Norway count here. Latest news from Finland is today, that the Swedes intend to import wolves from Finland at a price of about 48000 Euros each, because they need to boost the population a little bit. In other words: They admit, they do not even have that 210 wolves. At least they get a little fresh blood into packs they have. I think the whole thing could be called “management”. What a crazy world….or does this sound all too familiar?

  48. avatar JEFF E says:

    Elky,
    I don’t know if you were looking for a reply or not to your last post but the short answer in my opinion is that one should always have the inalienable right to protect private property.(I know, there are always exceptions to the rule) If what you described happened to me then there would be some dead fox and coyote.
    After that, whats your point.

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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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