The resumption of wolf-hunts in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming illustrates why citizens must continue to oppose such unnecessary and senseless slaughters.

The wolf-hunts are predicated upon morally corrupt and inaccurate assumptions about wolf behavior and impacts that are not supported by recent scientific research.  State wildlife agencies pander to the lowest common denominator in the hunting community—men who need to bolster their own self esteem and release misdirected anger by killing.

Wolf-hunts, as Montana Fish and Game Commission Chairman Bob Ream noted at a public hearing, are in part to relieve hunters’ frustrations—frustration based on inaccurate information, flawed assumptions, and just plain old myths and fears about predators and their role in the world.

Maybe relieving hunter frustration is a good enough justification for wolf-hunts to many people. However, in my view permitting hunts to go forward without even registering opposition is to acquiesce to ignorance, hatred, and the worst in human motivations. Thankfully a few environmental groups, most notably the Center for Biodiversity, Wildearth Guardians, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for Wild Rockies and Western Watersheds had the courage and gumption to stand up to ignorance and hatred.

All of the usual justifications given for wolf-hunts are spurious at best.  For instance, one rationale given for hunting wolves is to reduce their presumed effects on big game populations. Yet in all three states, elk and deer populations are at or exceed population objectives for most hunting units.

For instance in Wyoming, one of the most vehement anti wolf states in the West, the 2010 elk population was 21,200 animals over state-wide objectives, and this did not include data for six herds, suggesting that elk populations are likely higher. Of the state’s elk herds most were at or above objectives and only 6 percent were below objectives. Similar data are found for Idaho and Montana elk herds as well.

However, you would not know that from the “howls” of hunters who characterize the elk populations as suffering from a wolf induced Armageddon.  And Fish and Game departments are loath to counter the false accusations from hunters that wolves are somehow “destroying” hunting throughout the Rockies.

Experience in other parts of the country where wolves have been part of the landscape longer suggests that in the long term, wolves – while they may reduce prey populations in certain locales – generally do not reduce hunting opportunities across a state or region.  Despite the fact that there more than double the number of wolves in Minnesota (3000+) as in the entire Rocky Mountain region, Minnesota hunters experienced the highest deer kills ever in recent years, with Minnesota deer hunters killing over 250,000 white-tailed deer during each of those hunting seasons – an approximate five-fold increase in hunter deer take since wolves were listed under the ESA in 1978.

Another claim made by wolf-hunt proponents is that hunting will reduce “conflicts” with livestock owners. Again this assertion is taken as a matter of faith without really looking into the veracity of it. Given the hysteria generated by the livestock industry one might think that the entire western livestock operations were in jeopardy from wolf predation.  However, the number of livestock killed annually by wolves is pitifully small, especially by comparison to losses from other more mundane sources like poison plants, lightning and even domestic dogs.

For instance, the FWS reported that 75 cattle and 148 sheep were killed in Idaho during 2010. In Montana the same year 84cattle and 64 sheep were verified as killed by wolves. While any loss may represent a significant financial blow to individual ranchers, the livestock industry as a whole is hardly threatened by wolf predation. And it hardly warrants the exaggerated psychotic response by Congress, state legislators and state wildlife agencies.

In light of the fact that most losses are avoidable by implementation of simple measures of that reduce predator opportunity, persecution of predators like wolves is even more morally suspect. Rapid removal of dead carcasses from rangelands, corralling animals at night, electric fencing, and the use of herders, among other measures, are proven to significantly reduce predator losses—up to 90% in some studies. This suggests that ranchers have the capacity (if not the willingness) to basically make wolf losses a non-issue.

However, since ranchers have traditionally been successful in externalizing many of their costs on to the land and taxpayers, including what should be their responsibility to reduce predator conflicts, I do not expect to see these kinds of measures enacted by the livestock industry any time soon, if ever. Ranchers are so used to being coddled they have no motivation or incentives to change their practices in order to reduce predator losses. Why should they change animal husbandry practices when they can get the big bad government that they like to despise and disparage to come in and kill predators for them for free and even get environmental groups like Defenders of Wildlife to support paying for predator losses that are entirely avoidable?

But beyond those figures, wolf-hunting ignores a growing body of research that suggests that indiscriminate killing—which hunting is—actually exacerbates livestock/predator conflicts. The mantra of pro wolf-hunting community is that wolves should be “managed” like “other” wildlife. This ignores the findings that suggest that predators are not like other wildlife. They are behaviorally different from say elk and deer. Random killing of predators including bears, mountain lions and wolves creates social chaos that destabilizes predator social structure. Hunting of wolves can skew wolf populations towards younger animals. Younger animals are less skillful hunters. As a consequence, they will be more inclined to kill livestock. Destabilized and small wolf packs also have more difficulty in holding territories and even defending their kills from scavengers and other predators which in end means they are more likely to kill new prey animal.

As a result of these behavioral consequences, persecution of predators through hunting has a self fulfilling feedback mechanism whereby hunters kill more predators, which in turn leads to greater social chaos, and more livestock kills, and results in more demands for hunting as the presumed solution.

Today predator management by so called “professional” wildlife agencies is much more like the old time medical profession where sick people were bled.  If they didn’t get better immediately, more blood was let. Finally if the patient died, it was because not enough blood was released from the body. The same illogical reasoning dominates predator management across the country. If killing predators doesn’t cause livestock losses to go down and/or game herds to rise, it must be because we haven’t killed enough predators yet.

Furthermore, most hunting  occurs on larger blocks of public lands and most wolves as well as other predators killed by hunters have no relationship to the animals that may be killing livestock  on private ranches or taking someone’s pet poodle from the back yard. A number of studies of various predators from cougars to bears show no relationship between hunter kills and a significant reduction in the actual animals considered to be problematic.

Again I hasten to add that most “problematic predators” are created a result of problem behavior by humans—for instance leaving animal carcasses out on the range or failure to keep garbage from bears, etc. and humans are supposed to be the more intelligent species—though if one were to observe predator management across the country it would be easy to doubt such presumptions.

Finally, wolf-hunting ignores yet another recent and growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that top predators have many top down ecological influences upon the landscape and other wildlife. The presence of wolves, for instance, can reduce deer and elk numbers in some places for some time period. But rather than viewing this as a negative as most hunters presume, reduction of prey species like elk can have many positive ecological influences. A reduction of elk herbivory on riparian vegetation can produce more song bird habitat. Wolves can reduce coyote predation on snowshoe hare thus competition for food by lynx, perhaps increasing survival for this endangered species. Wolves have been shown to increase the presence of voles and mice near their dens—a boon for some birds of prey like hawks. These and many other positive effects on the environment are ignored by wolf-hunt proponents and unfortunately by state wildlife management agencies as well who continue to advocate and/or at least not effectively counter old fallacies about predators.

Most state agencies operate under the assumption that production of elk and deer for hunters to shoot should have priority in wildlife management decisions. All state wildlife agencies are by law supposed to manage wildlife as a public trust for all citizens.  Yet few challenge the common assumption that elk and deer exist merely for the pleasure of hunters to shoot.

I have no doubt that for many pro wolf-hunt supporters’ predators represent all that is wrong with the world. Declining job prospects, declining economic vitality of their rural communities, changes in social structures and challenges to long-held beliefs are exemplified by the wolf. Killing wolves is symbolic of destroying all those other things that are bad in the world for which they have no control. They vent this misdirected anger on wolves– that gives them the illusion that they can control something.

Nevertheless, making wolves and other predators scapegoats for the personal failures of individuals or the collective failures of society is not fair to wolves or individuals either.  The premises upon which western wolf-hunts are based either are the result of inaccurate assumptions about wolf impacts or morally corrupt justifications like relieving hunter anger and frustrations over how their worlds are falling apart.

I applaud the few environmental groups that had the courage to stand up for wolves, and to challenge the old guard that currently controls our collective wildlife heritage.  More of us need to stand up against persecution of wildlife to appease the frustrations of disenfranchised rural residents. It is time to have wildlife management based on science, and ecological integrity, not based upon relieving hunter frustrations over the disintegrating state of their world. And lastly we need a new ethnics and relationship to wildlife that goes beyond a simple utilitarian view of whether any particular species benefits or harms human in real and/or imaginary ways.

For on predator studies and management see http://thewildlifenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Predator-report.pdf

 
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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

233 Responses to Wolf-hunts morally corrupt

  1. avatar Alan Gregory says:

    I can’t escape the gut feeling that certain state hook and bullet agencies are sanctioning the killing of wolves because of the revenue they get from selling licenses and tags.

    • avatar Ty Price says:

      This is a false gut feeling. Idaho for instance sells a resident wolf tag for a only $11.50 and a Non resident wolf tag for only $31.50. That is significantly lower than even a Deer tag that costs $19.75 for residents and $301.75 for non residents. Idaho, a large agriculture state, is sending a message that wolves are not welcome and is gaining very little profit from permit fees.

  2. Alan

    I suspect that most wildlife agencies would prefer not to deal with wolf hunting at all if they had a choice. But since they get most of their fees from license sales, and species like elk and deer are the most popular, I suspect loss in those license sales is more important than anything they gain by selling licenses for wolves.

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “…inaccurate assumptions about wolf behavior and impacts that are not supported by recent scientific research.”

      George, you preface your op-ed with this statement, but then you go on to claim, in so many words, that destabilization of wolf packs leads to increased depredation. I hear this a lot from wolf advocates, yet I don’t know of any actual research to support it. If you have a link to any peer-reviewed science that would support this, please provide it.

      I was (reluctantly) a part of a couple of lethal control efforts against depredating wolf packs when wolves were briefly delisted in the WGL in 2009. We removed the alpha male from one pack, and both breeders from another, and depredation in both areas ceased. We did not observe any increase that could be attributed to social fragmentation.

      In fact, high wolf densities, such as we’re seeing in the WGL states actually create another form of social anomaly – normal dispersal appears to be inhibited. We have a number of 3-4 year old females with radio collars who have not dispersed from their natal packs – they make continual pre-dispersal movements but continue to return to their home territories, apparently due to a lack of unoccupied landscape within normal dispersal distance. This suggests that reducing wolf density in these areas might actually allow more normal dispersal to commence.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        ma’iingan,

        Not for the sake of argument, but discussion, but the fate of pack members, pups of the year in particular have been continually brought up during the course of discussion(s) if the alphas(breeders) are removed. I guess a lot hinges on the age the breeders. Are there enough “subordinate” wolves to hunt natural prey or not?

        In terms of wolf dispersal and return to home territories because of occupied adjacent territory makes all the sense in the world.

        It seems that so much information is coming out about wolves and how they interact and influence what is around them as of late, that the jest of George’s essay rings so true. There is just so much to learn and the data is beginning to pile up. If there is/are to be seasons on wolves it seems a shame that it is simply to reduce numbers with no real rhyme or reason behind it.

        For Wisconsin to try and drop the population down to 350 is as bad as what is happening out West. Watch deer auto collision numbers rise, as well as agricultural damage due to deer. I only hope that if/when MN initiates a season on wolves, it does not borrow from the example of the NRMS.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          Immer, there’s much we don’t know about wolves, even though they’re one of the most-studied animals on our landscape. The fate of pups who’ve lost their parents may well depend on those non-dispersed adults that I referred to. Certainly, in “new” packs with only the two breeders, pups would likely perish. Actually, anecdotal evidence gained through direct observation suggests that almost all the killing is accomplished by the breeding pair, even when there are yearlings in the pack.

          George refers to the likelihood that hunting will skew the population towards younger animals, but I would suggest that those animals will be the most vulnerable, and that a portion of their mortality will be compensatory. They are certainly the most vulnerable to trapping, and I would expect they will be the most vulnerable to hunting as well. Will wolf hunters, with a low percentage of success inherent in their efforts, be willing to wait for a large adult “trophy” to present itself?

          There was a recent effort in WI to forego the minimum population level, and instead manage wolves for conflict prevention – wolves in marginal habitat, in areas with high risk for depredation, would be subject for removal post-delisting. The “management goal” would be undefined numerically, as long as the population did not fall below 350. This idea was apparently squelched by the new governor – it will be interesting to see what the current political climate brings to bear if the current delistig effort succeeds.

      • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

        It seems possible that there may biologically be neither reason to greatly liberalize hunting on wolves with the specific objective of exerting more control on them and their prey, nor to fear the population will suffer substantially from such liberalization. The idea of “managing” wolves for specific population and prey population objectives may just not work out for a number of reasons including but not limited to the following: alphas difficult to hunt/trap, high reproductive and dispersal rates, and increased per capita prey kills with reduced pack size (killing pups/yearlings may not reduce prey consumption much, but may allocate more of kills to scavengers). Despite drafted policies and initiatives driving more liberal wolf management to try to protect or increase elk and other prey of interest to humans, it simply may not work out on the ground short of massive government resources and drastic means like poison and bounties that were used to eradicate wolves last time — and the ESA and other laws (and now gov’t fiscal constraints) stand in the way of that. Not to draw any moral comparison, but it may be similar to many unsuccessful human endeavors including fighting decades-long controlled campaigns against enemy insurgents to achieve what many might agree are reasonable goals. That’s the feeling I got recently watching the real-life movie “Restrepo” , putting a lot of resources into clearing the Taliban out of a single remote valley in Afghanistan — but what happens to your hard-won gains the moment you leave? In those cases in which prey is constrained primarily by the predator complex (including wolves) and wolves are reduced, they will likely quickly increase again in response to a rebound in prey and if overall non-compensatory mortality factors remain unchanged, the prey population will likely decrease again. Coyotes have taught that lesson in spades. My folks used to raise sheep and calves, slept poorly at night when they heard howls, and welcomed the government trapper and his cyanide guns, even after one killed their dog. But it turns out unless you’ve got the spare resources and time to kill more than 70% of the coyotes present each and every year, you are better off getting some good ear plugs.

        http://www.predatordefense.org/docs/coyotes_letter_Dr_Crabtree_11-04-97.pdf

        But that probably hasn’t changed policy much, just like Vietnam hasn’t had much lasting impact on foreign intervention policy, Rumsfeld’s pontifications “I don’t do quagmires! ” notwithstanding. It’s in our genes to admire a can-do attitude and grab the stick and try to control variables to achieve tangible outcomes, but sometimes the coyote comes along and makes a fool of us . . . . enables us to repeatedly demonstrate the definition of insanity. I’m not saying I’m at all certain of what’s going to happen with NRM wolf management but I worry a bit more about the overall mental state of all the participants than what will actually happen on the ground. One thing I think most of us can agree on is that it is wrong to kill something for no lasting reason and even worse if you are spending precious resources in the process that have other beneficial uses. It’s not a settled question with wolf management and that’s one reason I’m now over half-way through Bob Hayes’ book, not to learn what his personal values are but what wisdom he gained from a career spent asking the question.

  3. avatar Immer Treue says:

    In the Ely, MN area this Summer, I never saw so many deer. A friend who hunts my land says there are almost too many deer, and that yes, it is a FALLACY that the wolves arre killing all the deer. Only saw signs of wolf activity once around my palce this Summer, but based upon radio telemetry, they are in the area.

    To further support one of George’s points, when speaking with another friend in the area, it’s the old guard with the old stereotypes who are largely the wolf haters, newer people to the area, largely favor the presence of wolves. They just have to keep a better eye on their dogs.

    George, I imagine you are going to get “ripped” by the (un)faithful. But you hit so many nails on the head. That said, I am in favor of a wolf season, but nothing, nothing like the plans of MT, WY, ID. for all the reasons you listed. If Lolo and Sawtooth are problems, then let them try and prove that so many wolves exist there. If there is too much wolf activity around certain ranches, same thing, knock them back and perhaps instill a bit more conditioning to steer clear of humans. Where wolves cause no pronlems or supposed decline in elk and deer populations, gosh, just leave them alone

    Good piece George.

  4. avatar D. Anthony Abott says:

    Science and common sense support the control of wolves in these states.Hopefully more states wont allow the situation to get out of control.The claim of wolf population being “decimated” is laughable.The amount of tags for harvesting a wolf sold and how many tags are filled is tiny.Tag sales are slow now in Idaho,but when elk and deer season begin sales should pick up.Having a tag on person when a quick humane kill is presented is always nice.

    • avatar Daniel Berg says:

      One man’s common sense is another man’s extermination. I support reasonable wolf hunts, but I cringe these days any time someone uses the phrase “common sense”. I’ve found that the more one claims to have a monopoly on common sense, the less willing they are to listen to any other opinion.

      There are a little over 6 billion opinions on what is and isn’t common sense as of 2011.

      • avatar Salle says:

        Actually, the estimate of late is that it will be 7 billion before the end of the year.

        Great piece, George… thanks again for telling it like it is.

  5. Michael

    What you’re talking about is targeted removal–which depending on the circumstanes might be acceptable. However, not to produce more elk for hunters to shoot. But I could accept it if targeted surgical removals as with mountain lions in California were the rule. If a wolf becomes too “fearless” and is hanging around say the edge of a town or whatever, than that might justify removal just as Yellowstone NP sometimes removes a coyote that becomes too “friendly” to tourists. But that is different than a wholesale hunting season that does not target any specific animals other animals by a species–i.e. wolves, bears, or mountain lions.

  6. avatar Jon Way says:

    Hi George,
    Thanks for this article. I think your words echo what many of us feel on this blog. I just posted your article to my sister website to my http://www.EasternCoyoteResearch.com blog – which is My Yellowstone Experience: http://coywolf.org/.

    Thanks again, you summarize it all by describing the cultural fear, hate and double standards that exemplify many state fish and game agencies.

  7. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Regarding the social hysteria surrounding the wolf debates , ” Wolves have nothing to do with reality “. Ed Bangs said that , as quoted by Carter Niemeyer in his book ‘ Wolfer’.

    Yup.

  8. avatar Paul says:

    George,

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. I hope that this is shared across the country so that more people understand the true motivations behind the persecution of wolves and other predators.

  9. avatar willam huard says:

    George-
    Once again you have captured the reality of the situation. The anger displayed by hunters does have very little to do with wolves……I suggest counseling, medication, or even shock treatment to help these poor frustrated hunters

  10. avatar Catbestland says:

    “The same illogical reasoning dominates predator management across the country” And there-in lies the problem. I don’t see how any change can be effected as long as our representatives in government are placed there by beef industry’s (and other consumtive industry) money and influence.

    They simply do not think the same as the rest of us. They believe that creation exists to be exploited by them and for no other reason. They actually believe that “GOD” gave them this land to be used for their profit alone and it doesn’t matter if they destroy because “GOD” is going to give them a new earth after he raptures all of them. This is a side effect of the corporatization of America. This problem must be addressed from an early age. We must demand that conservation be required learning in schools from kindergarten up.

    Also, has anyone ever explored the possibility of seeking to change existing laws governing the processing of beef to require a stamp on all beef products from cattle that have been grazed on public lands? This along with an educational program might give people the opportunity understand the issue and to have a choice to by beef that has contributed to the pollution of our clean water sources and the destruction of our public lands and wildlife heritage or not. I think a required “public lands grazed” or “non-public lands grazed” stamp would at least put the issue on the radar of a lot of people who otherwise would have no idea of the problem. It would be the same sort of stamp they use for “grain fed” or “organically grown” or “now hormone infused”

    Any thoughts? Or does anyone know if this has been tried before?

    • avatar Bob says:

      Hey I’ll use the non-public lands stamp and yes it’s been tried by defenders as “wolf friendly beef”, fell flat.
      Wow george baffle me with BS.
      My favorite by far was “Experience in other parts of the country where wolves have been part of the landscape longer suggest that in the long term wolves – may reduce prey in certain locales – generally do not reduce hunting opportunities across a state or region.” Like in Montana where we only have wolves in about a third of the state. The rest of the state should not see any effect of wolves.
      Then the 3000 wolves in MN again maybe we should ship them about 3000 mountain lion and a 1000 grizzlies and see how those deer do.
      Wish I had more time but I’ll have to channel the rancher hatred later. Maybe this evening.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Bob,

        There are also 20,000 black bear in MN that impact the deer population, particularly fawns. Add the 250,000 hunter harvest and the MN deer population is still robust. Robust to the point that it is the deer via brainworm along with recent Summer temperatures that is “most likely” having the great negative impact on moose, not wolves.

        Incidentally, bear harvest is about 3,000 or 15% of the bear population. Nothing like is being pinned on the wolves in NRMS.

        • avatar Elk275 says:

          The published number of Montana elk is 150,000 the elk numbers are increasing in Eastern Montana which is mostly private land which has restricted trespass and hunting fees are near $2,000 an elk. Elk in Southwest Montane with increasing wolf, black bear, mountain lion and grizzly have not increased and I feel the numbers will decrease in the coming years which mean restricted hunting opportunites. I have seen this over the last 20 years

          The number of moose tags in Northwest Montana have been reduced because of wolf predation. Montana has gone from 600 moose tags 10 years ago to 360 moose tags this year. Not all of the 240 tags are because of wolves but wolves have are a large reason for the loose of tags.

          • avatar Mike says:

            If you’re worried about elk numbers, stop shooting them.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            It does not work that way, if you are worried about the impact of people on western wildlife why do you try to spend 4 to 6 weeks in the western wildernesses. The fewer people the less the impact.

            People are not going to stop hunting and it is time that you understand and get over it.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            +The published number of Montana elk is 150,000 the elk numbers are increasing in Eastern Montana which is mostly private land which has restricted trespass and hunting fees are near $2,000 an elk+

            Hmmm…. Ranchers suddenly recognizing another way to make a profit off the old homestead? (and the abundance of elk) Been happening here for a few years Elk. Are the kickbacks $$ from outfitters a lot more lucrative then offering Block Management to the locals?

    • avatar Salle says:

      Cat,

      I like that idea a lot. the problem is that the cattle industry’s lobby with make certain that it never happens just like the GM labeling issue. Look how long it took, and how much $$ it took with lobbying and lawsuits, for health warnings to make it to cigarette packs… as an example. Big industry always gets what it wants, and we get the scraps (of benefits) if there are any and all of the detrimental results.

    • avatar John says:

      Catbestland, your post assumes much that is inaccurate or untrue. First of all, I’m an atheist and a hunter. I don’t believe any of the creationism superstitious nonsense that you spoke of. Secondly, a “required conservation course” would need to show that the conservation efforts of hunters since the beginning of the 20th century, who lobbied Congress and enacted legislation, through the Lacey Act, which outlawed the interstate commercial trade in wild game, restored game herds to healthy levels. In addition, hunters have put aside more than $20 billion for conservation and habitat restoration projects through the Pittman Robertson Act of 1937. Hunters also spend millions of dollars a year donating to conservation groups like Ducks unlimited and Pheasants Forever, which improve habitat and strengthen animal numbers. It is hunter conservationists, not the so-called animal rights advocates who have been stewards of wildlife for the past 100+ years. Hunters pour more money and volunteer work into conservation than all other environmental groups combined. Many of your environmental or animal rights groups do nothing for the environment or for animal habitat. Many raise money solely to hire attorneys and fight court battles instead of putting it where it would best be used, out in the woods working for wildlife.

      As far as the reasons why we hunt are concerned, There are many. One of them is to keep touch with our hundreds of thousands of years of being at the top of the food chain and being the top apex predator on this planet. Whether you want to admit it or not, man is part of nature and many of us are drawn to it. You can deny this part of your being if you like, but I won’t. Hunting is also the most cost effective game management tool available. Herds are constantly monitored by state and federal agencies and hunters are used to achieve management goals. Another reason to hunt is for us to be able to humanely harvest animals that are not raised in stock yards, tiny cages, or pens, animals that haven’t been pumped up with hormones and chemicals, and which have roamed free their entire lives until a hunter kills them. This is the epitome of free-range meat. And by the way, I kill animals a lot quicker and more humanely than the rest of nature.

      As far as wolves are concerned, their healthy populations need to be managed just like any other wildlife. Although this article is aimed at supposed wolf supporters, it irresponsibly does not speak to game management. You may think the howl of a wolf is a beautiful thing to hear, as do I. But, unchecked wolf populations HAVE drastically decreased several herds in the aforementioned states to a point where hunting has been severely curtailed, especially in MT and ID.

      We can have our cake and eat it too. You can have wolves and we hunters can help manage them to keep ALL wildlife populations balanced. But, remember that when you eliminate hunting and hunters, you eliminate almost all of the money put into herd management, conservation, and habitat restoration. There is a balance. Environmentalists and conservationists can work together. Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

  11. avatar Virginia says:

    What a great and well thought out article. It says what I have believed for a long time, based on people who show up at these meetings to give their opinions on what should happen to wildlife and, in particular, predators. Our local county commissioners have their own agenda and do not represent the entire community – only the hunters and ranchers who agree with their point of view – that wolves must be exterminated. I have a student who comes in to class wearing a tee shirt that states, “all God’s creatures have a place in the world – next to the potatoes and gravy.” When this is the mentality of these young students, it is frightening to think they are our future.

  12. avatar Catbestland says:

    Virginia,

    That is exactly correct. We have to get to the children and teach them. I was raised by the most biggoted bunch of southern republican/John Birch Society, white supremacist, bible thumping Rednecks you can immagine. I know how they think. I had one teacher in school who was not from that background. She is the one who planted the seed of knowledge which helped me escape that world. It took a while but I finally broke free. By your last post it seems you are a teacher. If this is true, You will make a bigger difference with children while they are young than all of our efforts trying to change the thinking of old ranchers. We must petition congress or what ever we have to do to require more education on conservation in public schools. I think children can learn to be respectful of nature just as easily as they learn to exploit it. Which is what children in these ranching areas are taught.

    • avatar Brian says:

      “That is exactly correct. We have to get to the children and teach them”

      You mean brain-wash them to your way of thinking. What makes you think you have the right to decide moral values for other people’s children? Talk about arrogant… sheesh

      • avatar Alan says:

        Education isn’t “brainwashing”, Brian. Teaching children that there is more to this world than what they hear around the dinner table every night and demonstrating that predators have a valuable place in a healthy ecosystem is not preaching “moral values”, it is teaching scientific fact.

        • avatar Salle says:

          And now a word from a cultural anthropologist with a sub-interest in linguistics…

          It is widely accepted among anthropologists that what children learn is what stays with them throughout their lives and becomes introduced to several generations through them.

          For example: Immigrants to this country and its culture, the source of the vast majority of this country’s population BTW, may come here with little knowledge of the language yet the next generation – their children – learn the language and culture through immersion/presence in the culture. They interpret for their elders and their progeny which means that they will be the distributors of the language and culture for not only themselves but for the generations before AND after them. It is the children who also teach their parents what they learn and analyze. It is also known that children’s minds are more flexible and teachable than those of adults. Teaching involves inspiring one to think and decide for themselves with given information where brainwashing is forced acquiescence to a concept… big difference there.

          I fully support education efforts to change the sick mindset of our society. It’s also the probable motivation for the Michele Bachmans and Sarah Palins and other anti education clowns because they can’t control the flow of scientific info that is out in the public domain and it exposes their creepy world view that, if adopted by the vast majority of legislators would destroy what we consider our freedoms and abilities to exercise our rights via their continuation of their campaign to dumb-down the population.

  13. avatar Mike says:

    “”I have no doubt that for many pro wolf-hunt supporters’ predators represent all that is wrong with the world. Declining job prospects, declining economic vitality of their rural communities, changes in social structures and challenges to long-held beliefs are exemplified by the wolf. Killing wolves is symbolic of destroying all those other things that are bad in the world for which they have no control. They vent this misdirected anger on wolves– that gives them the illusion that they can control something.””

    That paragraph gets to the heart of the matter. I’ve been saying this the last two years. An eloquent example is the recent “debate” between the two political crazies in Montana (Tester and Rheberg) over who gets credit for removing the wolf from the list. Is this REALLY a pressing issue for the state? No, not really. But it is a nice symbol for blaming their problems on.

    The “wolf” problem is really a man-child problem. Always has been.

  14. avatar Scott says:

    The biggest thing you missed in that article is the fact that in states with wolves they are mostly against them and are also large ranching states. So wether you have hunters or not you will still have the same number of wolves removed by federal and state agencies. Why not allow those of us that want to hunt wolves to spend our money on license, tags, gasoline lodging and all the other expenses that are a part of hunting. I wont kill a wolf just because I see it. I will hunt for them when the have good hides so I can have a sking and skull that will be used later in educational programs. I have spent over two weeks in the mountains hanging trail cameras and checking for use by game. This year I found an area commonly used by wolves and was waiting to go hunt there but to bad for me wildlife services killed three of the 5 wolves in that area on August 30th. I think hunters should hunt, non hunters should do what ever they do and my tax dollars should go to meaningfull work not paying some jackass to go hang snares or shoot animals from a plane. And it will be a cold day in hell before I pass information about wildlife to the IDFG so they can miss use it.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      +I wont kill a wolf just because I see it. I will hunt for them when the have good hides so I can have a sking and skull that will be used later in educational programs+

      ????

  15. avatar Catbestland says:

    Bob,

    “Wolf Friendly Beef” never got off the ground. Infact never got beyond the proposal stage. We’ll do it differently this time. A”Non-public lands grazed” stamp would broaden the issue to those who are interested in saving public lands with or without wolves.

    • avatar Bob says:

      Catbestland
      If you develop the market the beef will come, only there’s a lot of hate for ranchers mostly based on miss information. I’ll watch for that beef classification.
      Also if people wanted ranchers off public lands they should work towards land swaps. Most ranchers here would block-up their ranches and get rid of their public lands if they where not intertwined lands.

  16. This is a good popular article that summarizes the finding of several studies. I have the specific studies referenced in my paper on predators which is listed above at the end of the article. So I suggest reading this generalized article, then go to my paper to find some of the specific references.
    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=293989170815&topic=16847

    Two other references that I don’t think I have in my paper but are germane are below. There are others I’ve recently collected, but have not incorporated in the review I did.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0012918

    http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/people/treves/Pubs/Treves_Hunting_to_conserve_carnivores.pdf

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Too much current wolf behavior “knowledge” is still based upon observations of captive wolf packs. They were not family units, just wolves thrown together. Analogy would be basing understanding of human behavior upon studies done on prison populations

    • avatar Bob says:

      George
      Two other things and I’ll quite.
      One your non-lethal preventive measures don’t work in the real world and only 90% in studies. When the wolf has hunger he finds food or dies that’s motivation.
      Second all ranchers may not pay for WS but in Montana each county has a per head tax collected for predator control. Almost all of us in this valley haven’t been getting back what we’ve paid. Also until the wolf came most of the older ranchers had never used WS. So keep the propaganda machine going.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        +Second all ranchers may not pay for WS but in Montana each county has a per head tax collected for predator control. Almost all of us in this valley haven’t been getting back what we’ve paid. Also until the wolf came most of the older ranchers had never used WS+

        So Bob, those helicopters & planes (I’ve seen for years around my valley) are just up there wasting taxpayer money and shooting blanks?

        • avatar Bob says:

          Nancy
          First if your going to assume all those planes and helicopter belong to WS I can’t help you. WS has only one copter in western Montana.
          Second WS don’t waste much time or ammo too busy.
          Lastly you and George act like you pay for WS and it’s free for ranchers. I pay taxes and a WS tax on top of that. Bet if you figured number of cattle in your county WS is paid for by the rancher plus some. Just pointing out a little known fact to those who may care.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            I don’t assume they belong to WS, Bob. I’m sure you’re familar with contract labor? Lot of flyboys around with time on their hands.

            And, how many other self employed people in this country have a government funded agency, like WS, at their fingertips?

          • avatar Bob says:

            Nancy
            Sorry but WS doesn’t contract out work.
            Second even you can call WS if you have a animal problem, their federal, available to every tax payer just like all federal programs.
            You stay paranoid.

          • avatar CodyCoyote says:

            Bob- you need to qualify your statement about Wildlife Services not contracting out their ( dis)service. They can’t hire out on the side to individuals, but they do very much contract out to other agencies, even those outside their cabinet department.

            Wyoming Game and Fish has already said they will be using WS for their wolf control above and beyond the public hunting. Their stated goal is to use public hunts as the primary means of state wolf control, but as George W. so succinctly points out here , that more often results in chaos and counterproductive takes.

            Read Carter Niemeyer’s book ” Wolfer” to get a crystal clear picture of how Wildlife Services actually works. Several times in the book he mentions how some of WS trappers were doing a good business on the side. The ethical line is wide and grey on that.

          • avatar Bob says:

            CC
            I meant WS doesn’t hire others to kill wolves as Nancy implied. Sorry about the confusion.
            Also read Carters book It’s a nice history of how it was up to about 10 years ago, a lot has change in even the last 5 years. Seems we need look at more things in a current light, as what has happened in the last 5 years instead 15 years ago.

          • avatar CodyCoyote says:

            Carter Niemeyer ” retired” in 2006 and his book contains material up to that farewell. I still consider it a current primer.

            Carter needs to take Wyo G&F to the woodshed, and George needs to teach some Ecology 101 ; Predator-Prey Realtionship classes in Cheyenne and Boise and Helena ( probably under an assumed name , in disguise)

      • avatar Alan says:

        “Also until the wolf came most of the older ranchers had never used WS.”
        Which is surprising considering how few loses are attribuatible to wolves and how many are attribuatible to coyotes, bears and other predators. Is it just the stigma attached to the big bad wolf?

        • avatar Bob says:

          Alan
          - Is it just the stigma attached to the big bad wolf?-
          First the wolf was a protected animal we had no other choice,chance at jail or WS.
          Second we’ve always had higher numbers of other predators and that is reflected in depredation numbers. Yet as wolf numbers grow so does the number of losses from wolves. If one looked at depredation losses compared to predator population wolves would have the highest percentage. I’ve never lost a animal to a predator other than a wolf and most beef ranchers would say the same. So my answer would be NO.

          • avatar Alan says:

            “Then the 3000 wolves in MN again maybe we should ship them about 3000 mountain lion and a 1000 grizzlies and see how those deer do.”……..Why not? Apparently nobody ever loses a single animal to any of these other predators!!
            I’ll just bet that nobody ever lost a single animal to disease, birthing problems, poisonous plants or weather either. Just those pesky wolves!! They’re everywhere! Especially at bus stops eyeing our kids! It’s only a matter of time and the wolves will be living in the houses and we’ll be in the woods! I’ll huff and I’ll puff…..

          • avatar JB says:

            You reminded me of my favorite Far Side, Alan. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

            “I know you miss the Wainwrights, Bobby, but they were weak and stupid people–and that’s why we have wolves and other large predators.”

            http://inebriatedpress.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/090404-farside-wolves.jpg

          • avatar Bob says:

            Alan
            We lose about 3% to disease ect.
            Just like humans, we don’t mind death just don’t want to be murdered.
            As for the school bus comment bring your kids I have a bus stop for them, we can do it thanks giving week. Days short, dark to bus stop dark coming home. They can check out bear shit in the mornings and listen to the wolves on the way home. It’s about .75 of a mile walk. It’ll be fun I promise. You can tell them no kid has been eaten yet. The best part is while you have breakfast in the morning you can turn on the floodlights and watch the grizzlies walk by outside the electric fence. Tell them not to run nothing triggers a predator like a little speed. Remember its your gene pool.

          • avatar Alan says:

            “As for the school bus comment bring your kids I have a bus stop for them, we can do it thanks giving week. Days short, dark to bus stop dark coming home. They can check out bear shit in the mornings and listen to the wolves on the way home.”
            Then move to the city. Or talk to the school district about starting later in the winter. Personally I’ll risk it with the four legged predators compared to the two legged type you find in the big cities. BTW, how many kids have been attacked at that bus stop in the last year? Five years? Ten? Twenty?
            Funny how it’s all about point of view. You hear wolves howling and see monsters. I hear them howl and say, “God, I’m glad I live hear!!”
            JB, I love Far Side. One of the best cartoons out there. I keep a Far Side book in each of my “reading rooms”, if you know what I mean! :-)

          • avatar Daniel Berg says:

            Bob,

            I’d send a younger kid to a country bus stop alone .75 miles away with wolves around 10 times quicker than I would a bus stop .75 miles away in south Seattle. Ha, that’s even with south Seattle being much safer now than it was 20 years ago!

            You know what though? I’ve chosen to spend a few years in the city even with its predators. The city doesn’t owe me a perfectly sanitized environment to live in and I accept the risks.

            There are however, a multitude of whiny, city-dwelling individuals who want a completely sanitized environment to live in, regardless of how detrimental or unrealistic their demands are. If only some of the rural residents who incessantly complain about predator/safety issues realized how much they have in common with the whiny city-dwellers they have such contempt for.

          • avatar WM says:

            Daniel,

            Been to any lowrider events in Kent recently featuring La Raza entertainer Baby Jokes, and the gang bangers that shot 12 or was it 13 people?

          • avatar Daniel Berg says:

            WM,

            Nope, I missed that event. Baby jokes was kind enough to mail me a signed “Viva la Raza” T-shirt though.

            Kent has been in the news lately in discussions about a recent uptick in gang violence. It appears that as south Seattle becomes more gentrified, more criminal elements are moving into Kent, Auburn, and other cities in that area.

          • avatar JB says:

            I’ve seen coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossum and stray dogs all walking through may neighborhood (avg. lot size is about .18 acres). Never seen anyone attacked, nor heard anyone complain (though I know some do).

  17. avatar Catbestland says:

    Bob,

    “I’ll watch for that beef classification.”
    No classification, it will be a certification. And I would suggest something like “Earth Friendly Beef” which would appeal to a broader base of progressive thinking people than “Wolf Friendly Beef” which would garner only the support of those that are thoroughly educated on and agree with that issue. I believe it could even have the support of small time private land ranchers because it would make their product more attractive to a broader base of people.

    One of the requirements for certification would be that the cattle were not grazed on public lands. No cows owned by registered grazing lease holders could recieve the “Earth Friendly” stamp. I bet the groups would support it.

  18. avatar Catbestland says:

    Bob,

    If people have a choice to buy “Earth Friendly” and opposed to “Non-Earth Friendly”, I believe they would. Not everyone understands with the wolf issue but EVERYONE understands destruction to their wild lands and clean water sources.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Needs to be marketed and advertised. I remember the talk about wolf friendly beef at 2000 wolf symposium. Wondered where it went. If available, I’d buy it. As it is now, I eat very little beef.

    • avatar Bob says:

      Catbestland
      Well like I said build a market and the beef will be there grass or grain fattened.

      Watch out for the “Marvel Cult”.

  19. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Catbestland, I’m not so sure there is such a thing as “earth friendly beef”. There certainly isn’t such a thing anywhere in the arid west, even on private lands, in my humble opinion. Raising beef takes a lot of energy and water, a hell of a lot more than raising the same amount calories in the form of plant based food. It also contributes greatly to greenhouse gasses.

    Beef should seen as a luxury rather than a necessity because it is certainly not needed as part of a healthy diet.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Ken,

      Recently (6 mos)switched to a grain free diet. No rice, potatoes (that was easy, thanks Idaho, I’ll sneak in a bit of bread, no cereal. Just meat(very little red), eggs, fruit and vegetables. I gained 15 pounds when I quit endurance cycling a year ago, and it’s all but gone since the change in diet began. Recent blood work should be interesting.

      I actually eat less meat now because I’m just not as hungry as when I was pounding carbs. I don’t know if this is how it supposed to work, but makes me think about the way grains are farmed, that perhaps industrialized agriculture is just as archaic as the ranching industry, perhaps more so.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Profound statement Ken,Last time I looked you did no have a MD designation behind your name

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        I was thinking the same thing ;)

        I think tv is worse than eating meat for the environment.

        All of these people working out at gyms are the worst. Running on a treadmill that runs on electricity while needlessly burning calories. Huge carbon footprint.

        • avatar JB says:

          That’s an interesting comment, Wolf Moderate. A number of eastern states with high human populations have thousands of black bears, with remarkably few human-bear conflicts (HBCs). The US population is growing, but the percentage of people who hunt, fish, and recreate in the out of doors is decreasing. Personally (and I’ll stress this is my opinion) I think cable television, air conditioning, high-speed internet, etc. have led to a lives led largely indoors; and while I shutter to think about what this is doing to children, I think it has been remarkably good for wildlife (i.e., fewer people in the outdoors = a lessened human impact).

      • avatar Ken Cole says:

        Yeah, that’s true, I don’t have an MD behind my name but I know some damned healthy vegans who don’t seem to suffering any ill effects of not having meat in their diet.

        They get all of the protein they need, even enough of the rare amino acids that are not produced by plants because they are only needed in small quantities and there are enough of them from the errant bugs or bug parts that accompany all manner of food.

        Eating meat, which I do sometimes, is not a required part of anyone’s diet.

  20. avatar Catbestland says:

    Ken,

    I agree, there is no such thing as “Earth Friendly” beef and I do realize that beef is not necessary in a healthy diet. I haven’t eaten beef in more than 20 yrs. and the stamp doesn’t have to be called “Earth Friendly”. That’s just a suggestion. I was thinking toward something that would appeal to a broader audience than “Wolf Friendly”.

    • avatar willam huard says:

      The “grinning idiots” with their grisly photo ops with dead wolf pups will begin shortly.
      Add your own caption-
      “See I’m a real conservationist I killed a wolf pup”
      or “why are we killin em anyway- oh I know- becuz we can”

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        I have been told that it’s better to be a “grinning idiot”, than a disgruntled idiot.

        As for the wolves that have died and for the many more that will also die-it brings sorrow more so than satisfaction to the average hunter or resident of the nrm states in my opinion. I look at it like baiting it hounding for bear and cougar, it’s a necessary evil in this day n’ age.

        Humans must be the puppet master to ensure all parties are represented. The government needs to ensure that mining,agriculture, environmentalists, sportsmen, etc…are able to use the land. So, one thing to keep sportsmen happy is to keep predator populations at a level that doesn’t negatively affect insulate populations too bad.

        There are 310+ million people in this country. We can’t have boom-n-bust cycles taking place anymore, due to the rural economies that rely in a stable game population.

        • avatar Moose says:

          “I have been told that it’s better to be a grinning idiot, than a disgruntled idiot.”

          And ignorance is bliss….

    • avatar JEFF E says:

      Female black bear with young. No female black bear with young may be taken. (cubs stay with the mothers ~1 year)

      Cougar
      Kittens, Female with young. Neither spotted mountain lion young or females accompanied by spotted young may be taken. (spots up to one year, sometimes longer)
      It is unlawful to hunt or pursue any mountain lion within 1/2 mile of any active fish and game big game feeding site.

      yet

      According to Fish and Game wolves will be managed “just like black bears and Cougars”.
      We hear this horseshit time and again.
      The wolf pup taken in Island Park could not have been more than 5 months old. period.good for a couple pairs of gloves or a shammy. the pelt itself is worthless this time of year. other than the five month old skull displayed on the mantle the rest will probably go to the county landfill. So much for the Idaho law against wasting big game animals.
      In addition it is legal to take cubs from the moment of birth. What other “big game animal is subject to THAT parameter?

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        the fact is that Idaho has essentially enacted a predator hunting season just like coyotes are subjected to and the difference between the end of June and the first of September(2 months) will be made up with WS control actions and depredation hunts.(oh,you have not herd of those? stay tuned. those hunts can be implemented at any point in the year, any where in the state).
        The simple undeniable fact is, is that the wolf season had absolutely nothing to do with science or the conservation of the species. Anyone that takes that position is lying. plain and simple.The effort is to knock the animal down to the bare minimum that will escape Federal intervention.(who will be doing the counting??)

        No, it is the livestock industry controlled legislature, the livestock industry controlled Fish and Game commission and the livestock industry controlled Governor of Idaho (when he is not in the corner drooling on himself) that is setting the season on the kill of wolves, not science or sound management.

        Sound management and science be dammed.

      • Jeff
        The guys that kill wolf pups don’t bother with the landfill, they just dump the remains along the road just like they do with their regular garbage. They are the same guys who leave ruts in the public roads when they go “mudding” in the spring. They are the same guys who leave their empty worm containers, beer cans, and fishing line on the bank when they quit fishing. They are the ones who leave used toilet paper all over the campgrounds after they squat and leave it. They are slobs in everything they do.

  21. avatar Virginia says:

    Wolf Moderate – you are quite the “moderate” claiming that bear and cougar baiting and killing wolf pups are “necessary evils.” That attitude is, in my opinion, disgusting.

    • avatar wolf moderate says:

      Fair enough. I think you are naive to think that animals can live in harmony with our ever increasing population. Killing is a necessity, but must be done responsibly. baiting and hounding isn’t “hunting” imo, rather it’s an excellent management tool.

      I hope that you enjoy the holiday weekend. I’m going hunting for elk but didn’t buy a bear, cougar, or wolf tag this year ;) No sense in buying a wolf tag due to the fact that ifg killed the entire pack….which I’m not happy about (moderate).

  22. avatar SEAK Mossback says:

    I don’t know if anybody else has noticed but a study was recently published from an area with 19 mostly heavily exploited wolf packs in Alberta (between Rocky Mountain House and Banff-Jasper) that may be the best available predictor for results of liberal hunting and trapping in the US NRM region.

    Webb, N.F., J.R. Allen, and E.H. Merrill. 2011. Demography of a harvested population of wolves (Canis lupus) in west-central Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology 89: 744–752.

    http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z11-043

    From what I’ve read about SW Alberta, the area may be even more roaded and industrialized than many areas south of the border and I think is roughly where the re-introduced wolves came from. It has a quite active trapping community with hunting and/or trapping open 10 months of the year with no quotas for either. Estimated mortality rates were 22% trapping, 12% hunting and 4% other for a total of 38%, which could have been low due to assumptions about the few collared wolves where contact was lost. They found pack territories were relatively stable, breeding appeared minimally disrupted and reproduction appeared sufficient to offset combined natural and harvest mortality. The dispersal rate of wolves from natal packs was relatively low (25%). Of the 19 packs monitored, there were no observed cases of disease or intraspecific killing. They say “Because intraspecific strife among packs often results in the death of breeding wolves (Mech et al. 1998; Smith et al. 2006), it is possible that moderate levels of trapping which remove primarily juveniles may actually promote stability within packs compared with unexploited populations” (an applicable perspective relative to the above article and comments). They conclude their results are more consistent with Layne Adams et al. (2008) who reported that natural mortality did not decline significantly until human caused mortality reached 29%, but was reduced above that level — than Creel and Rotella (2010) who indicated that human-caused mortality may not result in declines in natural mortality. They don’t discuss the effect of the intensive hunting and trapping on wolf predation on ungulates, but it doesn’t sound like it could amount to a very significant reduction if at all. They conclude “Results of this study suggest that under the current harvest regime, primarily juvenile wolves are removed, breeding pairs are left intact, and spatial harvest patterns may contribute to a local source-sink dynamic within the area.” They speculate that could change with increasing industrial access that may impact the source areas and result in more breeding wolves killed.

    What differences and similarities are there south of the border? One difference is that the density of trapping effort in Canada is limited by designated registered traplines. Another is that there appears not to have been a well-equipped professional government-funded predator control entity working in or around the study area concurrently. Otherwise, I suspect similar results may apply, which would mean wolf-advocates’ fears may not be remotely close to realized, while those who hope liberal hunting and trapping will roll back the population toward 150/state may be frustrated as well as those who hope to significantly reduce wolf predation on elk from what it be in an unexploited population, particularly in complex terrain near source areas (Lolo example). Significant sustained reductions in predation on elk through liberal hunting and trapping alone may be possible only on the margins in major sink areas and those may well not coincide with where identified predation issues get raised, on mountainous public land. There will likely be a similar source-sink system and the sinks may be intensified (compared with the Alberta study area) by more concentrated trapping participation near settled, accessible areas and Wildlife Services protecting livestock. However, balancing that are huge source areas in the Idaho wilderness and Yellowstone and surrounds and much of western and northern Montana. Wyoming away the NW mountains may be a vast sink.

    • avatar JB says:

      Seak:

      If we’re lucky: (a) wolves will prove harder to kill and more resilient than many wolf advocates think, (b) wildlife agencies will conclude that the cost of “aggressive” management outweighs the short term benefit of wolf population reduction, (c) wolves’ impact on domestic and wild ungulates will continue to be relatively small in most places, and (d) this whole controversy will blow over in a few years.

      Unfortunately, our experience with wolves in the US suggests this rosy outlook is unlikely.

      • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

        JB –

        I guess I’m just trying to focus on what is “rational” first and leave “moral” for broader discussion because that often comes down to someone’s personal values, traditions and personal use or gain. I do believe that persistently carrying on with a policy that is irrational at some point becomes immoral. But then that requires equating stupidity or insanity with immorality and (when combined with greed) even criminality, and our society has clearly not gone that far — otherwise, there would be plenty of CEO’s from financial institutions in jail, and probably even at least one former president and vice president and certainly one former CIA director. Many of our current politicians would be flirting with Alcatraz. I find that frustrating, but I realize that’s the way it has to be. In a democracy, we still have to somehow collectively look in the mirror to find the real culprit for our problems.

        The main point with NRM wolf re-introduction is that the primary decision point was whether you have wolves or you don’t. That decision was made in the mid-1990s. Any on-the-ground differences after that, after 5 years of legal protection, are probably just minor differences around the edges of core suitable wolf habitat — with the likely exception of colonization of major suitable habitat to the south, particularly in Colorado, and even that may eventually happen. Regardless, there has been a huge amount of cultural chest-beating and hyperventilating over the issue. Now the tables appear to have turned a big way against the desire of wolf proponents and groups that had effectively used the courts to prolong and maximize protections for many years. Now that people who thought it was past time to de-list and either roll back wolves to the legal minimum or “manage them just like other wildlife” have their way, I’m still not sure there is going to be much actual on-the-ground difference in the wolf population or their effect on ungulate prey populations despite increasing aggressive management mandates by politicians and wildlife management commissions. Wolves are relatively new back in a somewhat changed ecosystem and they will continue to have effects that are decried or lauded. And because they are newly returned, those who oppose them will continue to be vocal and will continue to blame those who support wolves and will push for more aggressive management, and some will do SSS.

        At some point, the rapid turning of the tables may actually speed “acceptance of wolves” but not necessarily just in a socially positive way that some have suggested by just letting frustrated people draw some blood, but also a “resignation acceptance” that wolves are here just like coyotes and are not that easily “managed” down, except on the margins. I think that’s kind of where most of the populace is in areas where wolves have been present all along. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t always proponents of predator control in those areas, and in my state they managed in the 1990s to get a legislation passed that by law keeps predator control near the forefront in wildlife management in much of the state.

        But there is still can be a gulf between policy and results on the ground. It is scientifically very well recognized that moose could potentially be much more abundant in the Yukon and much of interior Alaska and produce far larger MSY harvests if limited more by available food rather than by wolves and bears. Rather than argue cultural “hunter versus non-hunter” priorities, those who favor predator control often sell it as a win-win even for “wolf-watchers” because wolf numbers would be much higher if the moose population were liberated from the predator pit and allowed to increase. It’s more of an argument between those with a “can-do” attitude and faith in human endeavor and technology over nature to produce tangible benefits over those who appreciate the workings of the system as it is and doubt the sustainability of the purported benefit or the cost-benefit ratio.

        I have not hunted moose in the interior in many years but have a few friends who make an annual September pilgrimage and I would say most fall into the latter category if they have even thought much about it. With the exception of a couple who have drawn cow permits in a high-density area north of Fairbanks, most have been able to access areas (by truck & foot, swamp buggy, jet boat, and in one case aircraft) in low moose density areas where they have usually been successful, and all greatly appreciate the scarcity of other hunters in those areas, something that would greatly change if there were more moose. Such hunting is sustainable even in high predation areas with a simple bulls-only restriction as long as there are not enough hunters to take more than 5% of the population, reducing the bull-cow ratio too low. Where that happens, the next step is usually limiting the bull harvest to spike-fork and over 50” spread or 3 brow tines. Predator control has been going on in several areas across the interior and south-central for a number of years now and I have not kept current on success. However, from articles I’ve read, the major success model that is still held up is Unit 20A south of Fairbanks where moose crashed to a very low level in the 1970s after being at a very high level (along with wolves) in the 1960s following a decade of intensive federal predator control in the 1950s. That area naturally has very few grizzly bears in the moose calving area for some reason, and that seems to be the main difference causing it to trend toward “high dynamic equilibrium” between wolves and moose, plus being near Fairbanks it gets heavy wolf trapping pressure. So applying and sustaining that model elsewhere in the interior may be challenging but it is being attempted so we will find out.

        As a hunter myself, I appreciate both types of areas. In three trips to the Brooks Range, our quest amidst a period of scarcity of both legal Dall rams and other sheep hunters allowed my son and me to spend many days seeking them across vast amounts of incredible, seldom-visited country, and during those three trips we took only one each total. We would have missed out on so much if success had been easy. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate having out-the-door 5 month hunting opportunity for a potential limit of 4 tasty Sitka blacktails on an island with only intermittent wolf presence and a modest black bear population that is also enjoyed by 800 other deer hunters. I think some of both is good, but I think in the long-run that nature is going to determine more where those two different kinds of opportunities exist than wildlife commissions and the hunting public want to admit — or wolf advocates fear.

        • avatar Bob says:

          SEAK
          Once again thanks for your comments, the end is near comments get old.

        • avatar JB says:

          “I think in the long-run that nature is going to determine more where those two different kinds of opportunities exist than wildlife commissions and the hunting public want to admit — or wolf advocates fear.”

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Seak. I appreciate the time that you put into posting here. I generally agree with you (quote above) regarding the ecological outlook. What I fear is that the wolf issue will continue to be used by self-interested politicians, who see political gain in railing against wolves and the environmentalists who brought them here. In the long run, keeping the spotlight on wolves (in the form of aggressive control policies) will only serve to erode hunters’ standing with the non-hunting conservation community. The division that is being promoted by groups like SFW (over issues like wolves) will hurt conservation in the long run.

          • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

            JB—
            I generally agree. It is important for the states to differentiate between providing hunting opportunity for wolves and implementing predator control. In northern areas, wolf seasons tend to get stretched into times of the year when they have little or no physical value, probably on the theory that every wolf killed is a benefit to prey populations. That may not be true for two possible reasons. First, when the elk or other prey population is already at or above objective and/or not being limited by predation (as appears the case with whitetails in the Great Lakes area for example). Second, for reasons already discussed here, killing wolves and particularly young non-breeders may have very little effect in reducing predation anyway because of different compensating factors — not just the fact that wolves regulate themselves somewhat anyway if not hunted but also because smaller packs kill substantially more prey per wolf (more so larger prey like moose) because they can’t consume much of their kills before scavengers do. Even when sustainable, extending seasons outside of when a wolf is at least near prime over broad areas without some specific justification will certainly send the message that they are not being “managed just like other wildlife”.

    • avatar Mike says:

      Again, you “harvest” vegetables. When you take the life of a living, thinking mammal, you KILL it.

      • avatar willam huard says:

        “Harvest” is “fancy” Fish and Game language. Versus yesterday had these two hillbilly hunters that were trophy hunting lion in Africa. The woman injured this lion so they brought in about 10 hunters to help them finish the job the next day. This injured lion tried to at least take one or two of these hunters with him before he died…..They shot the charging lion between the eyes… The guy was so proud of himself that he “harvested” this lion. I wanted to throw up- do these people really think that they will develop some of this lions courage? Talk about morally corrupt…..

        • avatar Paul says:

          William,

          I don’t know what is sadder, the killing of the lion, or the fact that there are television shows devoted to this type of activity. I cannot fathom why people travel to exotic parts of the world just to kill an animal. Do they not have enough to kill here?

          A couple of nights ago I watched a PBS documentary about human evolution, and how mankind migrated from Africa into other parts of the world. The show pointed out that human migration routes could be tracked based upon the extinction of large animals along the way. It seems like this the urge to not just kill but overkill has been with humanity from the beginning. I find it funny that when talk arises about destructive “invasive species” taking over an area it is never mentioned that humans are the ultimate invasive species.

          • avatar willam huard says:

            When all the lions are gone in 20 years- humans will have no one to blame but themselves. SCI and Conservation Force will have moved on to the next species to destroy- all in the name of conservation- what a joke.

        • avatar jon says:

          These people need to drop the word harvest. harvest is not what is going on. It’s KILLING. You don’t harvest a wolf pup like that one hunter did. That wolf hunter who shot that wolf pup is nothing but a coward.

        • avatar Elk275 says:

          One of my best friends in Bozeman, who is a Zimbabwean, years ago was best friends with “Ronny”, who shot the lion between the eyes on a full charge and knocking him to the ground, he knew 3 or 4 of the PH’s in that film clip. The last lion my friend shot had his main camp cook dead in her jaws. Peter Chapstick wrote about that incident.

          • avatar jon says:

            What was the point of your friend shooting a lion? Why didn’t he shoot it with a camera instead and let the lion keep its life elk?

          • avatar willam huard says:

            Jon-
            Trophy Hunters are “Superior Beings”
            We should all be grateful for all the conservation work they do. After all- baiting a lion with 3 or 4 other animals that die to provide the bait for the real trophy target is very hard work.

  23. avatar WM says:

    Sounds like an interesting study. Read the abstract, but don’t have access to the full paper.

    So far, nowhere did the term “morally corrupt,” come up in the discussion referencing hunting and trapping mortality. Guess that just must be an American viewpoint.

    • avatar JB says:

      I was also taken aback by the claim that wolf management was “morally corrupt”. Wildlife management has always been distinctly amoral–meaning wild animals do not given moral consideration. This is the same whether we are speaking of wolves, elk, fish, or mussels; wildlife are managed at the population level.

      But perhaps George was referring to the notion that management objectives are being driven by “the least common denominator” of hunters (an accusation that many have made)? If true, the term “corrupt” would seem appropriate?

      • avatar JB says:

        Sorry, should read: “…wild animals ARE not given moral consideration…”

      • avatar WM says:

        I took the “morally corrupt” allegation to be much broader indictment, implicating state wildlife agencies, livestock owners and their undue influence, dastardly state legislatures and governors, and a psychotic Congress (and President by the fact he had to sign the rider and the Sec of Interior continued the blueprint of the 1994 wolf reintroduction plan). If the swath is so wide, does that really give much credibility to a “pandering to hunters” argument and moral corruption?

        Maybe MN is a little more tolerant, but I don’t see the same in WI, and MI in the midwest. Let’s not forget UT which simply does not want wolves, or CO that silently cheers as WY defends the DMZ predator zone that prevents wolves from wandering south to the Columbine State where a 300,000 table feast of lazy elk await them.

        Maybe there is even the complicity in advancing the morally corrupt acts which were are the heart of reintroduction, as the federal government lured states into believing they could manage wolves like any other wildlife. George asserts this cannot/should not be done, and does his own selective screening of the science for that purpose.

        The uncomfortable zone, once again seems to rest somewhere in the middle. That is ground neither the anti’s nor the pro’s seek to find it.

        Go ahead, George, kick the hornet’s nest again. How’s that working for ya so far?

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Do wolves present a challenge in some areas? Sure they do! Should there have been a wolf season last year? I think so! Wyoming would be ostracized and perhaps Montana would have been a bit more modest with their plan, and Idaho would not have spilled over the top.

          That said, the over reaction of all three states appears as nothing more to wolf advocates than a plan to reduce wolf numbers to the bare minimum, without due regard to folks who “enjoy” or are willing to tolerate wolves. The pandering to the loudest common denominator, and the return of the wolf to the demon of fairy tale despite the knowledge out there about the benefit of having wolves, is indeed morally bankrupt.

          Great Lake states, if there is a god I beseech the deity for MN plan to be reasonable. One of the reasons I chose Northern MN as my home is because of wolves. I’ll be pissed if the MN plan is simply to kill wolves. WI, I’ve said before, agricultural damage and deer/auto accidents have dropped state wide since the wolf population increase. MI, gosh, but last year 61,000 deer auto collisions, Sure the majority of those were in the lower P, but based upon population, you had a better chance of hitting a deer in the UP!

          With the unfounded vengeance that man went after wolves through the 19th and 20th centuries, would one not hope for a responsible and beneficial program toward wolf management rather than the direction we seem to be headed, again.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “WI, I’ve said before, agricultural damage and deer/auto accidents have dropped state wide since the wolf population increase.”

            Wisconsin agricultural damage and car/deer collisions have dropped due to very aggressive herd reduction hunts implemented by WDNR. Most ag crop damage and car/deer collisions occur in areas not occupied by wolves.

            Payments for verified livestock, pet dog, and bear dog depredation, on the other hand, have reached record levels – over $100k annually.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            ma”iingan,

            I’m fully aware of the aggressive herd management by WDNR. I’ve got a county by county breakdown for the past ten years sitting in front of me, and almost without fail, deer auto collisions are down statewide,including rural counties occupied by wolves. The statistics are from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. At an estimated $2,000 per incident, it adds up fast.

            Ten years ago between Eau Claire and Superior on 53 N it was carnage along the roads. I know it’s not a peer reviewed study, but it was direct observation, and there just aren’t as many carcasses along the road.

            Once again, I’m not saying wolves should not be managed, but knocking them back to an arbitrary number such as 350 does not make sense either. Are bear dog depredations not covered as you have written earlier, by conservation plates?

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            Fluctuations in Wisconsin’s whitetail population are primarily influenced by two variables – winter severity and hunter harvest. Predation is a minor component, and there is a growing body of evidence that black bear and coyote predation are the major contributors to that component.

            As far as compensation for livestock, pet, and bear dog losses, the funding from the sales of endangered resources license plates is no longer sufficient to cover the claims – the overage is being paid from the wildlife management budget (hunting licenses/ P-R funds).

  24. avatar Immer Treue says:

    ma’iingan,

    Then if predation is a minor component, and black bear and coyote are the major component the mantra of “wolves are killing all the deer” is false.

    I find it more than coincidental, that as the WI wolf population has grown, the deer collisions, in rural counties is down. A county at random with a high wolf population -Vilas, and deer/auto collisions: 2000-1,425; 01-1439; 02-1,003; 04-738; 05- 748 06 – 759; 07-745 08 – 365; 09 – 291; 10 – 351. Almost without fail one will find this sort of stat within Wisconsin “wolf” counties.

    I’m not arguing about wolf damage to dogs, and livestock, and I’m not arguing about responsible wolf management. I am very respectful, and in a way envious of the work you do. One can make stats say about anything one would want them to say, but deer/auto collisions show this pattern of slow, gradual decrease in wolf county per wolf county. Whatever current wisdom is in deer per wolf per year, there must be some sort of correlation in fewer deer/auto collisions. I think the numbers would indicate that wolves are in fact a silver lining within the dark cloud.

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “Then if predation is a minor component, and black bear and coyote are the major component the mantra of “wolves are killing all the deer” is false.”

      Of course it’s false, and the current deer mortality studies underway in the Michigan U.P. and in Wisconsin should support it. But you know as well as I that wolf opponents aren’t exactly bound by science – nor are many wolf advocates, for that matter.

      Here’s some car/deer collision data from Waupaca County, historically one of the worst Wisconsin counties for such incidents – and not currently occupied by wolves;
      2004 – 2,333
      2005 – 1,701
      2006 – 1,943
      2007 – 1,335
      2008 – 1,027
      2009 – 950

      Since winter severity is almost inconsequential in that area due to it being an ag-dominated landscape, the decline in car/deer collisions is due entirely to aggressive herd reduction in the form of free bonus tags and additional antlerless harvest opportunities. Again, I would submit that the presence of wolves in an area is an extremely minor component in the reduction of car/deer collisions.

      As far as establishing a minimum management goal for wolves in Wisconsin, there was a recent effort to increase the management goal to 500 animals, but it was squelched politically – once again demonstrating that science has little to do with wolf management.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        ma’iingan,

        I am certainly not disputing the WDNR herd reduction program. We could go tit for tat with wolf and non wolf counties as we are looking at the same data.

        Another Wolf County
        Douglas deer/auto collisions
        2000 504
        2001 473
        2002 333
        2003 182
        2004 324
        2005 177
        2006 160
        2007 144
        2008 139
        2009 207
        2010 201

        Certainly not as dramatic in total numbers as the WDNR actions in Waupaca county but both do equate to about a 60% reduction, or for that matter wolf county Vilas about 75% reduction. The only point I’m trying to make is that where there are wolves in Wisconsin, during the 10 years of WDNR data, there seems to be some evidence that deer/auto collisions are down. I’ve read that it is about 2K on average for damage from these collisions. If wolves are just partially responsible for this drop, I would submit that they help pay for their keep, at least in terms of the consumer pocketbook and insurance.

        Again, with respect.

        • avatar WM says:

          Immer,

          I can see it now. WI and MN auto insurance underwriters ask their actuaries to evaluate influence of wolves on reducing auto deer collisions. The logical follow-up would be auto comprehensive coverage premium reductions in low risk counties (or more likely zip codes).

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            WM,
            :-)

          • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

            WM & Immer –
            During a picnic a few years ago with extended family out of Siren, WI the topic of deer hunting came up and a couple of hunters expressed the belief that the auto insurance industry was driving unduly liberal deer management. They were very unhappy about the “earn-a-buck” program where a doe had to be presented at a check station to “earn” a tag to shoot a buck. I took it with a grain of salt as I usually do when hunters rail against shooting female animals. Many hunters don’t seem to understand that you can’t stockpile animals and, if you try you increase risk of big downward fluctuations due to weather. Actual MSY harvest is attainable only from a population held considerably below habitat capability, even though an individual hunter will have to work harder to get a deer. It sounds like reducing deer some in Wisconsin, whether the credit is due to hunters, wolves, coyotes, bears or all of the above has generally been a good thing.

            That has been one of the things biologists have warned about with predator control programs in the interior — it increases risk and hunters up there so far have shown very limited tolerance for cow and especially calf moose hunting that would be needed to prevent overpopulation and potentially massive die-off as happened in Unit 20A during and after the winter of 1968-1969 with continued effects for many years.

            I gather wild food, including proxy hunting deer, for an old friend (and his wife) in his mid-80s who grew up here, spending his career skippering vessels and hunting and fishing a lot through the depression and several decades thereafter. He witnessed and was deeply affected by the insanity of techno-arrogant 1950s when anything that ate anything of interest to humans was killed off, including scavengers. There was a bounty on bald eagle feet, on Dolly Varden char (now known to eat relatively few young salmon, and many of the tails turned in for bounty were actually from juvenile salmon), dynamite was dropped into river estuaries from airplanes to kill seals by concussion, and the feds perfected delivery of poison to wolves using specialized baits made of seal meat distributed from the air. Anyway, he will always give a wolf a pass but has grave doubts about humanity —“Man is the real wolf!”.

            But on the other side, he is still very much overly protective against hunting female animals and sees our modern liberal season on the same island he hunted as a kid under a more restrictive season and 2 buck limit as headed for catastrophe. I, who now bring him deer from the same island, see it as working perfectly but just don’t discuss it anymore. Just because a hunter has spent much of their life in the woods observing doesn’t mean they really grasp population dynamics. However, one exception is that he’s able to find some logic in the Indian perspective on either-sex hunting. He tells of how federal agents in the 1930s caught old Chief Kadake from Kake with a doe and enough other food in his cabin (than just a salt & pepper shaker) to get him hauled him into court where he posed a question to the judge: “The white man shoots all the bucks. Who is supposed to service (may have used a different word) all those does? You, Judge?”

            I suspect WM may be painfully picturing himself as the defense attorney . . . .

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      WM,

      All kidding aside, insurance companies are not in business to lose money. I would hazard a guess that industry actuaries leave no stone unturned and have a look at the number and location of these collisions.

    • avatar JB says:

      Immer, ma’:

      I wonder if the poor economy has impacted DVCs? We know that some people drive more slowly when fuel prices increase; we also know that some people drive less (fewer miles); I also suspect that reporting of more minor accidents is significantly reduced in poor economic times. Some people raise their deductibles or choose (or are forced) to cancel their insurance.

  25. avatar jon says:

    From our friend howcolorado who I believe is spot on with this.

    “Do yourselves a favor, as you talk to people about the wolf hunts. Don’t sanitize what’s happening with terms like “harvest” … this is killing. People like to avoid the harsh realities of their lives by hiding them behind friendly sounding terms. You harvest corn, or tomatoes or oranges, not animals. Especially not animals you don’t kill to eat.

    Blood sport has no place in a civilized world.”

    A hunter recently shot a wolf pup. Didn’t Mark Gamblin say that wolves will be treated like other wildlife such as cougars and bears? I don’t think hunters are allowed to kill cougars with kittens or bears with cubs, but they are allowed to kill wolves with pups.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      jon,
      I’ve clarified several times that young of the year elk, deer, antelope, moose, all small game are routinely legal. Restrictions on the harvest/kill/take of lions and bears are structured to reduce the likelihood that orphaned lion or bear cubs would be without the means to survive. As others have explained, young of the year wolves (pups)from late August on – are assisted by other adult pack members – if needed, are mobile and active with the pack and have foraging skills of their own. The likelihood of a “pup” at this stage of their life starving due to the loss of a parent is far from a certainty. The more significant mortality risk is being harvested/killed/taken by a hunter – neither a threat to the wolf population or out of the ordinary for hunting harvest/kill/take of any hunted species.

      • avatar willam huard says:

        1000 wolves give or take
        -mysterious no quota
        token 150 wolf population “to be tolerated” in all of Idaho compliments (Mr my hair is almost as good as Rick Perry’s)
        ————————
        850 wolves shot, trapped- HARVESTED

        Sounds like a common sense science based wolf management plan to me without any hint of political manipulation

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Jon Way,
          Thanks for your …. intriuging observations. I assume you mean Jon Peavey – referencing the string on WS removing depredation wolves from the Peavey private ranch. I haven’t posted a comment on that string because I don’t see a relevant issue for IDFG wolf management policies or programs that merits my participation. The issue being discussed there was a standard predator management action to reduce loss of private property by wolf predation, through the efforts of WS. The IDFG coordinates with WS to facilitate those wildlife mangagement responsibilities as a matter of Idaho Fish and Game Commission and State of Idaho policy – protection of livestock and other private property from wildlife (in this case predator) depredations. Other than that clarification, not much for me to comment on. BTW, actions based on state policy to control wildlife depredations of private property extend to other game species such as deer, elk, antelope and if required virtually all species under state authority. We routinely conduct actions to haze, and when necessary, kill depredating elk (most often) and less frequently deer and antelope.
          With respect to holding George and others to a reasonable expectation that conjectural theories presented as arguments for wildlife management policy – actually be supported by facts, data, research (peer reviewed or simply credible technical work) – guilty as charged. Evidence to support wolf hunting? What do you suggest? I’ll offer a couple of suggestions to get you started. Wolf hunting is legitimate, appropriate and supported by research/data/scientific evidence because:
          1. The Idaho wolf population is of such size, distribution and genetic diversity that hunting and trapping poses NO risk or threat to its current or future viability and integrity and the Idaho public desires a wolf hunting season. That is a science based public policy consistent with wildlife conservation principles and good public policy. It’s understood that you and others viscerally disagree with that priority. Implementation of your preferences for wildlife management (wolves in this instance) is neither necessary to keep Idaho wildlife management policies within the bounds of sound wildlife management principles, nor would it best serve the needs, desires or expectations of Idaho public stakeholders.
          2. This goes to your curious comment – “…..yet there is no data on reasons to hunt them – just thoughts and ideas and seemingly common sense ideas (reduce wolves to increase elk) with no scientific evidence…”. Oh my, where to start? Elk management objectives in large, broad geographical portions of Idaho are founded on the very well discussed and documented (on this blog) relationship of wolf predation of cow and calf elk keeping elk production and recruitment6 and ultimately elk abundance WELL BELOW the capacity of current, existing habitat to support significantly larger elk populations. The two geographical regions with solid, conclusive data, reported in IDFG annual management reports and at least one peer reviewed publication – are, of course, the Lolo Zone and the Sawtooth Zone. Public wildlife resource benefits – elk hunting opportunity – have been substantially reduced due to wolf predation in those large geographical areas. Managing (reducing) wolf predation on other highly valued wildlife resources is both solidly supported by science, is strongly supported by the Idaho public. The conjectural statements by George and others regarding wolf pack fragmentation and unintended exacerbation of wolf depredations does not have close to the same level of technical documentation that this wolf management issue has.
          3. Idaho wolf management objectives, incorported into the 2011-2012 hunt, include benefits of reduced depredation of private property as explained above. The 50% reduction in reported wolf depredations of livestock following the 2009-2010 Idaho wolf hunt is a matter of public record and has been reported on numerous occaisions since the hunt concluded. If it will help, I will follow up with a citation and link (if available). Again, evidence/data that contradicts the unsubstantiated conjecture that wolf hunting will cause more depredation problems by somehow fragmenting or destabilizing wolf pack integrity. ma’iingan has provided further technical corroboration, based on WI wolf management experience that discredits George’s conjectural statements.
          4. Wolf veiwing vs wolf hunting represents conflicting managment objectives in yours and others views. I can only say that based on public involvement in the Idaho Fish and Game Commission process of establishing wolf management priorities and objectives, controlling and reducing wolf numbers in Idaho has been far and away the highest priority for Idahoans. Certainly there is a desire and demand for wolf viewing opportunity by some Idaho stakeholders, but managing geographical areas of the state solely for wolf viewing opportunity at the expense of wolf hunting opporunity or other wildlife management objectives that require wolf hunting/trapping would poorly serve the needs, desires and expectations of the Idaho public as expressed during the wolf management public involvement process.

          And Jon – OF COURSE the North American Model applies to predators. It applies to ALL North American wildlife. If you have a new or unique insight that you think supports that novel premise, you have my attention.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            your point #4 describes it all. IDFG is clearly biased and will support consumptive users over all others. It is frankly a load of crap that IDFG can’t provide at least 1 wolf viewing area – esp. on Federal land that all Americans own. Jeff E has adequately described how wolves (with legal seasons on newborn pups in some zones) are not managed like all other wildlife.

            In about a month or two I will be able to share you and this list-serve a paper (peer reviewed) that offers a different perspective to counteract much of what you say – not that it will change your views on hunters having the benefit of the doubt and greater pull than any other user group of wildlife.

            That 50% reduction in livestock losses – was that in the winter when livestock losses to wolves are minimal. It is hard to take IDFG’s data seriously given the inherent biases we have all discussed.

            But let me give you some passages of this paper that has the support of peer reviewed journals. Please see my point #4 as you claim (your point #3 above) this is a weakness of George’s statement. It does in fact have support, actually (please see below):

            1. Although research indicates that the acceptability of lethal management of carnivores increases with the severity of carnivore impacts (Arthur 1981, Zinn et al. 2000, Whittaker et al. 2006, Decker et al. 2006, Don Carlos et al. 2009), generally, people find non-lethal methods (especially changes in animal husbandry practices) to be more acceptable (Arthur 1981, Bruskotter et al. 2009) and humane (Arthur 1981, Reiter et al. 1999) than lethal forms of management. In fact, lethal management, at least without adequate justification, can actually promote social conflict with substantial consequences for wildlife managers, including litigation, legislation, tourist boycotts and ballot initiatives (see Nie 2004a,b).

            2. Bruskotter et al. (2009) found that while non-lethal measures (i.e., harassment, livestock guarding dogs, relocation) of dealing with livestock depredation were acceptable to a broad array of stakeholders in Utah, lethal measures (including hunting) were socially divisive; that is, they were generally acceptable to people who indicated that agricultural or sportsmen’s groups represented their interests, but unacceptable to people who indicated environmental or wildlife preservation groups represented their interests. (note: these stakeholders are from Utah, so aren’t eastern liberals!)

            3. Because wolves are territorial (Mech and Boitani 2003), areas subject to random removal of wolves (i.e., through opportunistic sport hunting, as opposed to targeted removal of known depredators) could open up territories for new individuals or packs and potentially exacerbate conflicts by fragmenting packs that could kill more prey per wolf (Bangs and Shivik 2001, Treves and Naughton-Treves 2005, MacNulty et al. 2010, Treves 2009).

            4. *** Furthermore, random removal could replace individuals or packs not depredating on livestock with those that will—evidence for this is found in the recurrence of depredations after wolf removal (Bradley 2004, Harper et al. 2005, Musiani et al. 2005, Treves and Naughton-Treves 2005; Treves et al. 2011). Indeed, Musiani et al. (2005) found that even targeted removal of depredating wolves did not decrease depredations at the regional scale; rather, they found strong seasonality in wolf attacks which tended to reoccur even after wolves were removed.They concluded that improved animal husbandry provided “the greatest promise for reducing wolf depredation” (Musiani et al. 2005:885).

            5. Furthermore, the management of wildlife entails a broad range of practices and policies, and many of the most socially-divisive (e.g., aerial shooting, foot-hold traps, hunting over bait) tend to be used with canids (see Reiter et al. 1999, Bruskotter et al. 2009, Mech 2010). Thus, while Treves and Naughton-Treves (2005:105) noted that regulated wolf harvest had the potential to increase tolerance for carnivores among some stakeholders, managers risked “alienate[ing] urban constituents who place higher value on non-consumptive use of wildlife”. Similarly, Nie (2002:68) cautioned that the hunting and trapping of wolves is “perhaps the most divisive and potentially explosive issue in the entire wolf debate”.

            Hopefully ID and MT and other states do some human dimensions work following the hunts to see if the hunt is as successful as they may think it is by going to the local saloon and talking to folks that have shot those 4.5 month old pups and claim to be happy about it.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jon Way,
            If there are currently no similar examples nor have been similar examples in the past – allowing the legal take of a species during its annual birthing season, you Jeff E are technically correct that this is an example of how wolves are being managed differently than other game species in Idaho. If you and Jeff E argue that means that wolves are managed differently than other game species because this wolf season is structured to achieve population reduction (including hunting in some areas during the birthing seasson)objectives – I remind you that population reduction objectives are a common feature of all wildlife management plans. There have been and will continue to be challenges with elk, deer, antelope management that require reductions in herd size to meet other important social or biological objectives just as we are experiencing with wolves today. Your argument would be relevant IF this plan and the hunt prescribed by the plan intends to extirpate wolves or reduce the Idaho population to a point that it would be unsustainable or not viable. Wolves are managed like bears or lions (the closest examples of wildlife management challenges) BECAUSE each of the three species are public trust wildlife resources managed to achieve social and biological objectives chosen by the Fish and Game Commission, with public stakeholder involvement. For each of the three species, those management objectives are developed to stay within the statutory(State statutes) requirement that all wildlife be managed for sustainable populations.
            Your third point – that opportunistic hunting of wolves “could” fragment wolf packs, creating a “potential” for increased depredation is – conjectural supposition, unsupported by empirical field research. AGAIN – real world, recent experience in Idaho and other areas (Wisconsin e.g.) have demonstrated that hunting and other wolf removal efforts not designed to prevent “wolf pack dispersal or depredation exacerbation” demonstrates that this concern is unwarranted – i.e. a “red herring” issue that lacks relevance to the wildlife management decisions being discussed.
            I agree that IF I had said wolf viewing could not be accomodated – that would be a load of crap. But, that’s not what I said. I explained that while wolf viewing is a valid wolf management objective that IS accomodated under the present wolf management plan, your preference that significant geographical areas be set aside solely for the benefit of wolf viewers, at the expense of wolf hunting opportunity and more importantly, achieving broader wildlife management objectives is simply not responsible nor necessary. Yours (and others) personal preferences for that wolf management prescription would work against the expressed needs, desires and expectations of the Idaho public stakeholders for whom this wildlife resource is held in trust. That is why wolf viewing sanctuaries are neither necessary nor appropriate for a responsible wolf management plan.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            Thanks for your response. Again, it comes down to values. I do not think that the your comment is true: “Yours (and others) personal preferences for that wolf management prescription would work against the expressed needs, desires and expectations of the Idaho public stakeholders for whom this wildlife resource is held in trust. That is why wolf viewing sanctuaries are neither necessary nor appropriate for a responsible wolf management plan.”

            I think you are saying that in response to the vocal hunters and ranchers that want wolves reduced, not the population of Idaho at large.

            If you take a step back, it is unbelievable in my mind that you don’t see anything wrong with a literal wholesale slaughter of an animal that is just coming off the ESA – now we could argue that wolves should have been removed years ago, but nonetheless it is just happening. Your fancy wording is covering up that you are catering to a minor of the population – even if 10,000 people buy tags to hunt wolves that is still just a fraction of ID’s population and still a minority of hunters. Yet, you claim that wildlife watching areas are not desirable to the stakeholders – I just don’t buy it and wish you could also see things from a different perspective. AND provide numbers to show which/all stakeholders (I assume you mean the ranchers and hunters that run IDFG) wouldn’t want this…

            Also, when you made this comment “opportunistic hunting of wolves “could” fragment wolf packs, creating a “potential” for increased depredation is – conjectural supposition, unsupported by empirical field research”

            you must have missed my comment #3 substantiated with literature references:
            “Because wolves are territorial (Mech and Boitani 2003), areas subject to random removal of wolves (i.e., through opportunistic sport hunting, as opposed to targeted removal of known depredators) could open up territories for new individuals or packs and potentially exacerbate conflicts by fragmenting packs that could kill more prey per wolf (Bangs and Shivik 2001, Treves and Naughton-Treves 2005, MacNulty et al. 2010, Treves 2009).”

            Also, you must have missed this comment (#4):
            Furthermore, random removal could replace individuals or packs not depredating on livestock with those that will—evidence for this is found in the recurrence of depredations after wolf removal (Bradley 2004, Harper et al. 2005, Musiani et al. 2005, Treves and Naughton-Treves 2005; Treves et al. 2011). Indeed, Musiani et al. (2005) found that even targeted removal of depredating wolves did not decrease depredations at the regional scale; rather, they found strong seasonality in wolf attacks which tended to reoccur even after wolves were removed.They concluded that improved animal husbandry provided “the greatest promise for reducing wolf depredation” (Musiani et al. 2005:885).

            I disagree with you that this is a “red herring” issue that lacks relevance to the wildlife management decisions being discussed. One of the major reasons for the wolf hunts is to reduce damage to big game and to livestock. My points #3 and 4 above indicate that many people in the peer reviewed world disagree with your assumption that sport hunting will reduce livestock damage. It might be not relevant to IDFG b.c maybe IDFG doesn’t read the studies that might be most relevant to our discussion here. I can get you the full references of those studies if you wish…

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jon Way,
            First, I agree with you that this debate is for practical purposes about competing values, perspectives and philosophically based desires for different wildlife management paradigms.
            To the extent that Idahoans have weighed in on this issue, through a variety of public involvement outlets, some Fish and Game Commission directed, others through conventional media, there is no indication of significant Idaho public opposition to the Idaho Wolf Management Plan or past, present and future wolf hunts. It would be a mistake to conclude that public support for wolf management in the NRMR is restricted to a small portions of society represented by hunters, outfitters and the livestock industry.
            I didn’t miss your documention in your third point, I was emphasizing again, that those works provide no documentation of wolf pack disruption by hunting or other lethal removal of wolves by hunting or administrative actions (depredation control), nor do they substantiate the premise that through wolf pack fragmentation due to hunting (e.g.) depredation problems are made worse. ma-iingan provides compelling evidence to the contrary from Wisconsin wolf management experience as does the Idaho experience following the 2019-2010 wolf hunting season. You continue to point to published conjectural supposition, which remains conjecture because each of the cited papers speculate on potential outcomes based on other wolf behavior observations, not documented observations of pack disruption caused by hunting or other lethal wolf removal and certainly no documentation of increased wolf depredation activity associated with pack disruption. It coudn’t be more clear that the premise of wolf hunting causing more wolf depredation problems is not supported by any empirical published data, but is strongly contradicted by years of recent observations by credentialed professional wildlife biologists actively manageing wolves in the NRMR and GLR. This is indeed a red herring issue that has little or no relevance to the merits of ongoing wolf management across North America.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            Again I disagree with you. While people in Idaho (and other states) may not disagree with setting a hunting season on wolves, I would like to see evidence that a wholesale slaughter and not one wildlife watching area in the entire state is supported by a majority of citizens. It would require IDFG to disclose public information and withstand peer review to ensure that they adequately sample unbiasedly throughout the state. Hopefully, social science people like JB will do this in your state b.c I just don’t buy that the majority of people in Idaho would support a drastic reduction of an Endangered Species. Also, remember that a lot of Idaho is Federal Land. All Americans should have a say on these areas, especially since we are paying welfare ranchers to graze on these lands.

            The following paper does support reoccurence of livestock depredation following killing wolves:
            Indeed, Musiani et al. (2005) found that even targeted removal of depredating wolves did not decrease depredations at the regional scale; rather, they found strong seasonality in wolf attacks which tended to reoccur even after wolves were removed.

            It even suggests that killing wolves doesn’t do any good to prevent livestock depredation in the title – while it might not increase livestock depredation per se, it certainly doesn’t decrease it (ie, by killing wolves):

            Musiani, M., T. Muhly, C. C. Gates, C. Callaghan, M. E. Smith, and E. Tosoni. 2005. Seasonality and reoccurrence of depredation and wolf control in western North America. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33:876-887.

            Thanks again for the debate. And again, I disagree that this is indeed a red herring issue that has little or no relevance to the merits of ongoing wolf management across North America.

            Unfortunately, those of us who feel differently than you (which is a relatively standard and entrenched viewpoint favoring hunting in a state fish and game agency) have absolutely no voice on wildlife management nationwide. I would like to see the studies that you and ma-iingan say “provides compelling evidence” toward the contrary, then maybe I will loosen up a bit to meet you halfway b.c most of the literature indicates that killing wolves doesn’t largely affect livestock depredation. (I will leave the effects on social structure alone but to think that killing a social, intelligent animal has no effect on a given pack is qualitatively ludicrous).

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            I re-read this blog and ma-iingan’s posts which, by the way, have no scientific papers referenced despite his/her asking George to do likewise.

            However, ma-iingan mentions that targeted removal might help reduce livestock depredation. Well, if you read George’s original article, that is exactly what he discusses. And the papers that I quote indicated that without increased husbandry practices livestock depredation is likely to be ongoing.

            2nd, ma-iingan mentions that dispersal is low b.c all available territories are taken. While research has shown that disperses may have a higher probability of dispersing and then returning to a pack: 1) some still do disperse and leave their packs; 2) this doesn’t discuss that killing wolves can’t affect packs when say breeding males and females are killed and pups are left to fend for themselves – esp. 4.5 – 5 month old pups in Idaho killed around now.

            So, again – please provide references for your statement “It coudn’t be more clear that the premise of wolf hunting causing more wolf depredation problems is not supported by any empirical published data, but is strongly contradicted by years of recent observations by credentialed professional wildlife biologists actively manageing wolves in the NRMR and GLR.”

            If not, I think readers of our back and forth conversation can see why environmental groups have won most of the court outcomes. You have claimed a lot but still haven’t backed up any of your statements with established science and have killing wolves (using many publicly unacceptable methods) as the default.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB -
            I agree that the wolf hunt is not the only explanation for the reduction in wolf depredations immediately following the Idaho wolf hunt. The hunt was one of several reasonable explanations. However, that wasn’t my point. My point is simply that contrary to George’s and others assurances that wolf hunting will exacerbate wolf-livestock depredations, that hasn’t been the experience of Idaho or Wisconsin. I don’t have data/information for Montana’s experience. Since before the 2009-2010 Idaho wolf hunt, this assumption has been invoked frequently, as if it were an established fact – when it is not. Hopefully, perhaps, we can agree that until opposing data or observations are provided – the best evidence suggests that wolf hunting does not exacerbate wolf depredations of livestock.

          • avatar JB says:

            “My point is simply that contrary to George’s and others assurances that wolf hunting will exacerbate wolf-livestock depredations, that hasn’t been the experience of Idaho or Wisconsin.”

            Mark: I absolutely agree that George is overconfident in his assertions given the existing evidence. I would also point out that wildlife agencies have been equally guilty of overstating the degree to which wolf conflicts are likely to be solved via regulated public hunting.

            Jon and I spent a lot of time talking about this issue when drafting the paper he is citing. My view is that (a) there are several good reasons to suspect that hunting could exacerbate livestock depredations, however (b) the current evidence is inadequate to rigorously evaluate this hypothesis (thus, you correctly noted the language we employed in the paper conveyed this uncertainty).

            I hasten to add that I think what researchers will find will depend upon whether this hypothesis is investigated at the individual or population level, and could also depend upon the specific characteristics of each case.

            Let me explain. First, it is plausible that the season of harvest and status of individuals harvested within the pack could affect the probability of future depredations. Thus, if an alpha is killed when the young of the year haven’t yet learned to hunt, they may turn to livestock (I believe a recent example of this was reported in Montana). Of course, this could also depend upon the availability of livestock and the size of the pack from which the animal was harvested (with big packs having hunters). It might also depend upon the role that the animal harvested takes when hunting (recent research suggests this varies), and on the vulnerability and availability of local game. These are all factors that could plausibly affect whether individuals from a pack depredate on livestock in the future.

            Likewise, if one assesses the hypothesis at the population level, then population characteristics become relevant (e.g., population, age, health of wild ungulate herds; winter weather conditions; etc.). Whether conflicts are reduced might also depend upon what types of domestic animals we’re talking about. There is tremendous year to year variation in sheep depredations (as opposed to cattle), which may preclude statistical analyses. It could also depend upon the harvests’ ability to reduce the wolf population–so if fewer wolves kill more livestock per wolf, but less livestock than in the previous year, has the hunt succeeded in reducing conflict? That depends upon how you frame the research question.

            All of this leaves us right back where we started…

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            JB,
            Yes, thanks that is what I was referring to. Targeted removal vs. general hunting – see my comments below.

            Mark,
            It is tough to follow your post, but it is also tough to trust IDFG’s data without outside peer review. Your statement seems to contradict the need for a hunting season: “Note that the bulk of the reported 2010 wolf depredations occurred after the hunt concluded and during the peak depredation season, not just the late winter period. Additionally,”

            To respond to ma’iingan’s 4 statements that you quote:

            1. “We removed the alpha male from one pack, and both breeders from another, and depredation in both areas ceased. We did not observe any increase that could be attributed to social fragmentation.”

            My response: Yes, this is called targeted removal which I argue is more effective in an upcoming Journal of Wildlife Mgmt paper. George also argues this (calling it surgical removal). This is different than a wholesale slaughter that ID is allowing as we speaking.

            2. “We have a number of 3-4 year old females with radio collars who have not dispersed from their natal packs – they make continual pre-dispersal movements but continue to return to their home territories, apparently due to a lack of unoccupied landscape within normal dispersal distance. This suggests that reducing wolf density in these areas might actually allow more normal dispersal to commence.”

            My response: Normal dispersal? Considering that wolves are thousands of years old and have only really been “controlled” (aka killed) in great numbers in the past 200-300 years I would argue anything but “normal”. I would say that anything pre 1700 (and for the 1000s of years before that) should be considered normal and I am sure that saturated territories was the norm back in the day.

            3. “George refers to the likelihood that hunting will skew the population towards younger animals, but I would suggest that those animals will be the most vulnerable, and that a portion of their mortality will be compensatory. They are certainly the most vulnerable to trapping, and I would expect they will be the most vulnerable to hunting as well.”

            My response: Yes, I would agree with this. Hunting will probably result in more juveniles killed as adults will likely quickly figure out to avoid humans – at least better than 5 month old pups (which by the way, counters Mech 2010 suggestion to wait until Nov. to allow wolf hunting to avoid obvious pups from being killed).

            4. “…… we removed the alpha male from one pack, and both breeders from another, and depredation in both areas ceased. We did not observe any increase that could be attributed to social fragmentation”.

            My response: Again, this is surgical, targeted removal and is absolutely not the same as hunting which is non-selective. How could you make this happen. Have would-be hunters in an area get calls from ranchers following a depredation. This would keep Wildlife Services out of the mess, and would only target depredators. Just as you quote at the end of your post about “no one has provided documentation of relevant research to support the conjecture that hunting wolves exacerbates wolf-livestock depredations” you continue to fail to acknowledge my aforementioned literature citations that killing wolves doesn’t prevent livestock depredations – which is what the general public is going to be more interested in. In other words, the general public (not the minority that associated with IDFG) what is the point of killing wolves if depredations don’t decrease.

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          Jon Way,
          Mark never has provided any links to any of his assertions, peer reviewed or other wise. It is always bureaucratic innuendo that we should all believe because he says it is so. After that it is always generalities that will “help us understand” where we are wrong.

          For example in the case of it being legal to kill wolf cubs from the moment of birth, where another predator, cougars, it is specifically illegal to kill cubs still in spots which means a year or more old. Or where in the case of black bears it is illegal to kill a sow accompanied by cubs, which may be a year or more old, no such restrictions applies to wolves.

          What Mark will then do is try to use the Lolo and Selway zones as a example of special circumstances, but will conveniently not mention that in the very liberal, historical (pre wolf) and ongoing, seasons on black bear and cougar, in an effort to reduce bear and cougar populations in those zones, the SAME RESTRICTIONS on killing bear and cougar young remain(ed) in place.

          Oh ya Mark, we understand all right.

          What has happened is that Idaho has essentially co-opted Wyoming’s “plan” and just does not have the guts to say so

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Jon Way,
          I’ve been away on other duties for a while, am just now catching up and don’t want to let your questions and responses go unanswered. This is an important issue. Sorry for the delay. It seems that we are not speaking entirely to the same questions. I comments focus on two questions or assertions in George’s article: 1) does wolf hunting result in wolf pack disruption, fragmentation that results in dysfunctional wolf behavior; and 2) more important- could a potential dysfunctional behavior include creating MORE wolf depredation problems that without general wolf hunting (i.e. wolf hunting that is not restricted to removal of specific problem wolves or wolf packs)?
          On the question of wolf pack disruption/fragmentation – I don’t argue that killing wolves will have no effect on wolf pack dynamics. Wolf mortality caused by hunters will certainly have some effect on wolf packs just as other sources of wolf mortality do. This question should be asked as: does wolf hunting cause stresses or disruptions to wolf pack structure and integrity beyond what wolf packs typically experience due to other natural mortality wolves experience? Is hunting a destabilizing factor for a wolf population that somehow presents a threat or risk to those attributes of the wolf population valued by human society?
          Ma’iingan spoke to the Wisconsin experience of wolf pack dynamics under these varied sources of wolf mortality and offered the professional opinion that wolf packs are resilient and adaptable.:
          “ We removed the alpha male from one pack, and both breeders from another, and depredation in both areas ceased. We did not observe any increase that could be attributed to social fragmentation.”
          “We have a number of 3-4 year old females with radio collars who have not dispersed from their natal packs – they make continual pre-dispersal movements but continue to return to their home territories, apparently due to a lack of unoccupied landscape within normal dispersal distance. This suggests that reducing wolf density in these areas might actually allow more normal dispersal to commence.”
          “George refers to the likelihood that hunting will skew the population towards younger animals, but I would suggest that those animals will be the most vulnerable, and that a portion of their mortality will be compensatory. They are certainly the most vulnerable to trapping, and I would expect they will be the most vulnerable to hunting as well.”
          You cited Musiani, et. al. saying:
          “ The following paper does support reoccurence of livestock depredation following killing wolves: Indeed, Musiani et al. (2005) found that even targeted removal of depredating wolves did not decrease depredations at the regional scale; rather, they found strong seasonality in wolf attacks which tended to reoccur even after wolves were removed. It even suggests that killing wolves doesn’t do any good to prevent livestock depredation in the title – while it might not increase livestock depredation per se, it certainly doesn’t decrease it (ie, by killing wolves):”
          That is not the conjecture that George proposed and I commented on: “wolf-hunting ignores a growing body of research that suggests that indiscriminate killing—which hunting is—actually exacerbates livestock/predator conflicts.”
          George provided no relevant literature citations (including the two peer reviewed papers and one newspaper article) to document a “growing body of research” on livestock/predator conflict exacerbation. Recent experience in Wisconsin and Idaho counters George’s assertion. In both states wolf removal did not increase wolf depredation problems, to the contrary – wolf depredations DECREASED. In the Idaho wolf depredations declined by 42% – NOT 50% as I incorrectly reported – for the 2010 reporting period, compared to the 2009 reporting period (Idaho Wolf Management Update June, 2011; Table 2 – http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/wolves/reportMonthlyJune11.pdf). BTW, ma’iingan did not cite research as George did – no similar failure to cite referenced research.
          So, references for my statement that:
          ““It coudn’t be more clear that the premise of wolf hunting causing more wolf depredation problems is not supported by any empirical published data, but is strongly contradicted by years of recent observations by credentialed professional wildlife biologists actively manageing wolves in the NRMR and GLR.”
          are the June 2011 Idaho Wolf Management Update, citing a 42% reduction in reported, verified wolf depredations of cattle, sheep and dogs that resulted in death or injury of livestock from 2009 to 2010, during and immediately after the 2009-2010 wolf hunt which concluded on March 1, 2010. Note that the 42% reduction in wolf depredations following a wolf hunting season is for the entire state of Idaho. Note that the bulk of the reported 2010 wolf depredations occurred after the hunt concluded and during the peak depredation season, not just the late winter period. Additionally, ma’iingan reported (personal citation) in 2009 …. “…… we removed the alpha male from one pack, and both breeders from another, and depredation in both areas ceased. We did not observe any increase that could be attributed to social fragmentation”.
          Bottom line – in this thread, no one has provided documentation of relevant research to support the conjecture that hunting wolves exacerbates wolf-livestock depredations. To the contrary, in Idaho and Wisconsin, recent (2009-2011) documented responses of management actions to reduce wolf numbers, by killing wolves, has demonstrated reductions in wolf-livestock depredations.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Oh geez, my head is spinning after that read Mark.

            Were you really “away?” Or were you holed up, scrambling, researching, for words to justify wiping out over half the population of wolves in Idaho…… in order to placate (as in appease) a very small percentage of the population in your state?

            Same BS going on here in Montana…..

          • avatar JB says:

            Mark:

            Not to be a pest, but I don’t think you can attribute the reduction in wolf depredations specifically to the 2009 harvest for a number of reasons.

            First, 2009 was an extreme outlier as far as depredations were concerned (with 324; approximately 50% more than in any other year); so was the 42% reduction following 2009 due to hunting, or simply regression toward the mean?

            Second, the 2009 hunting season co-occurred with a SHARP increase in targeted removal of wolves. Specifically, targeted removals of wolves in Idaho more than doubled from historic highs in 2007 (i.e., 50) to 108 removals in 2008 and 93 in 2009. So again, was the decrease in depredations due to hunting, or two years of aggressive lethal removal of problem animals?

            Finally, all three states (Wyoming, Idaho and Montana) had very high numbers of sheep kills in 2009; yet Wyoming’s sheep depredations decreased the MOST (195 to 33) from 2009 to 2010 despite the fact that they did NOT have a regulated public harvest.

            For these reasons, I would say that the jury is still out on how regulated public hunting will affect livestock depredations.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            Mark, JB, Jon Way -

            I’m a little surprised that no one from Minnesota has joined the discussion about wolf removal and depredation. They’ve been at it longer than anyone, so I would assume that some good data exists. Last year, around 265 wolves were killed in Minnesota – I’m not sure if those were all reactive measures, or if some were proactive. Regardless, a database of that size should help answer some questions about wolf removal and resulting effect on depredation. Anyone have any information?

          • avatar JB says:

            ma’iingan:

            To avoid an argument due to confusion, I want to make clear that what *I think* Jon was saying is that lethal removal of animals through regulated public harvest may have different effects on an affected pack’s propensity to depredate in the future, as compared with targeted lethal control of known livestock killers. (see my post, above)

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            ma’iingan,

            Here is a 2008 study about wolf removal and depredation in MN. In a sense it contradicts Mark.

            http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1096&context=usgsnpwrc&sei-redir=1#search=%22wolf%20depredation%20Minnesota%22

            None of our correlations supported the hypothesis that killing a high number of wolves reduced the following year’s
            depredations at state or local levels.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “lethal removal of animals through regulated public harvest may have different effects on an affected pack’s propensity to depredate in the future, as compared with targeted lethal control of known livestock killers.”

            I get that, JB – but if Minnesota conducts removal proactively it might “simulate” removal due to hunting. It’s very difficult to remove all members of a wolf pack – so I’d speculate that proactive removal might leave a portion of a pack on the landscape. And it would be interesting to see if there was a subsequent need for reactive removal of the survivors due to depredation.

            I believe there was a Dave Mech study some years ago that correlated winter severity with subsequent depredation the following summer (in Minnesota?). Severe winters were followed by decreased depredation, mild winters were followed by increases in depredation. I’ll try to locate it so I can cite it properly, unless someone knows of it.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            ma’iingan,

            I believe the above cited paper is the one to which you referred.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “I believe the above cited paper is the one to which you referred.

            Thanks Immer, but the one I’m referring to is from way back in 1988.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            ma’iingan

            Mech, L. D., S. H. Fritts, and W. J. Paul. 1988 a. Relationship between winter severity and wolf depredation of domestic animals in Minnesota. Wildlife Society Bulletin 16:269-272. Mech …

            Can’t find the paper itself other than as sited by others

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            The correlation between winter severity and livestock depredation the following summer -

            http://www.wolf.org/wolves/learn/basic/resources/mech_pdfs/125winterseverity.pdf

          • avatar JB says:

            ma’iingan:

            Thanks for the citation and clarification.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            Unfortunately, there’s a page missing, and the only place I can find it is the Wildlife Society Bulletin. For those who don’t have access, the premise is that fawns born after a mild winter are in better condition and less vulnerable, so wolves may turn to livestock depredation to compensate.

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        deer, elk, moose, antelope, et al. are hunted for food, especially if it is a young animal which by default, removes any sort of “trophy status” for the animal.

        Now tell us again Mark what is the driving motivation for having wolves cubs subject to legal take from the moment of birth?

        If at all possible leave the bureaucratic doublespeak out of you’re reply.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Jeff E,
          Yes. Elk, deer, moose, etc. are eaten and wolves are not. Neither are lion or bear cubs, with rare exceptions. In any case – whether bear, lion or wolf young of the year – being eaten has nothing to do with jon’s comment or my response. jon commented that lion and bear hunters are not allowed to harvest/kill/take young cubs, implying that somehow that is evidence that wolves are not managed within the same principles or with similar management objectives. I clarified that the purpose of those lion and bear hunting restrictions, their purpose is to avoid leaving lion and bear cubs, unable to fend for themselves, without a parent to rear them to self sufficiency. Further, that concern does not apply to the majority of this wolf hunting season (Lolo and Selway Zones are exceptions because those wolf management zones will remain open until June 1 2012 to enhance wolf population reduction) because wolf “pups” at the age of 5 months are fully mobile with the pack, have begun to develop hunting skills for small prey and are supported by other adults in the pack. The likelihood of wolf pups being orphaned by hunting or trapping and consequently dying due to lack of care is inconsequential – in any part of the state. This is a red herring issue that is much ado about nothing.
          Trophy status; to be eaten or not to be eaten; – No bearing on the precedent or consistency of allowing young of the year wolves to be legal game during this or other wolf hunting seasons. Relevant points of discussion might include objectives of the 2011-2012 Idaho wolf hunt, which do include reducing the number of wolves in Idaho (particularly where wolf predation of elk is a serious wildlife management problem), and yes, to provide Idaho hunters with legitimate opportunity to hunt wolves. The “trophy” status you refer to will be valued by hunters in a variety of ways. Wolf pelts, wolf skulls, full body mounts of wolves, possible use of wolf pelts for garments, possible sale of wolf pelts on the fur market – all potential beneficial uses of wolves harvested/killed/taken in this and future wolf hunting seasons. The wolf pelts, whether adult or young of the year (“pups”) will be valued by hunters whether in prime market condition or pre-prime condition because few (if any) of those pelts will be sold to the fur market. Pelts taken in September are very acceptible for taxidermy mounts of pelt preparation and will be valued by hunters as a mounted mule deer or elk head and antlers are.
          As others have emphasized with me, young of the year wolf mortality will indeed increase due to direct harvest/kill/take by hunters. In fact, the majority of hunting and trapping harvest/kill/take will likely be those young, inexperience wolves. In fact, the majority of all annual wolf mortality is comprised of the same young, inexperienced wolves. It’s a rough old, dangerous world out there, with or without hunting and young wolves surviving to reproduce are the exception, not the rule, with or without hunting.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            It is interesting that you freely are able to post here about pro-hunting issues, yet where are you on the other post about Don Peavy and how much of a waste of money Idaho spends when those wolves could/should be the wolves that hunters target rather than the population at large?

            I also find it interesting on another thread on this post (morally corrupt) how you apparently elude to the double standard of needing for George to back up everything he says with evidence/literature (of which there is an abundance to back many of his comments on) yet there is no data on reasons to hunt them – just thoughts and ideas and seemingly common sense ideas (reduce wolves to increase elk) with no scientific evidence just like you claim on his end. This double standard, I believe, is why many on this blog are skeptical of your comments.

            For instance, where is the data on a reduction of livestock kills following the 2009 hunt that you claim on this post. Why wasn’t this peer reviewed – or was it?

            Also, last week you made the comment that ID wolves are available to be watched 24/7 yet on this post you are clear that greatly reducing the wolf population is a major goal. Can’t you see the conflict of interest with your comments and the seemingly endless double standards that you make, which is common in wildlife management circles.

            Many of us aren’t anti-hunting here but when you do the same thing you are claiming others of doing (saying things without backing up your claims), and you are basically in an official capacity based on your position, it is hard to take your comments meaningfully – beyond typical wildlife management lingo that the NA model is based on hunting and that is the way it is – basically, “tough luck if you have other interests in how wildlife is managed”. I for one, don’t think the NA model applies to most predators like it does ungulates (with maybe bears an exception)…

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Mark,
            You keep trying to deflect my point.

            That being that Idaho has made it legal to target wolves from the moment of birth.

            No where did I raise any concern about how a five month old pup would fare. My point is that a five month old pup is legal to kill. For what purpose Mark.
            Not food.
            Not any kind of trophy.
            It is a pup.
            The pelt is useless except to make a pair of gloves or two.

            Essentially Idaho has co-opted Wyoming’s “plan” without the guts to say so.

            To wit, knock down the population to the bare minimum to keep the feds at bay.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jeff E,
            OK, I’ll try again. As I noted in my last post – in two (actually three – Lolo, Selway and Middlefork) wolf management zones, the 2011-2012 wolf hunting season extends until June 1 when new born pups will be technically legal to harvest/kill/take by wolf hunters. I think your point is: that is an example of how wolves are NOT managed like lions or bears. Without looking at all other hunting seasons I can’t say with certainty, but I can’t think of a routine hunting season that overlaps the birthing period of a wildlife species. With that said, if you or jon suggest that constitutes a violation of wildlife mangement or other priciples, please explain how. In those wolf management zones, the sesaon was extended to enhance the likelihood that the management prescription to reduce wolf numbers sufficiently to achieve elk population recovery objectives. That certainly is a high priority for the Lolo, Selway and Middlefork wolf management zones. Would a wolf hunter use a wolf tag on a new born pup, IF that hunter had the opportunity? What do you think? I’ll go first – Nope. Again, this is(drum roll)….. a red herring issue of very little consequence that gets some folks lathered up, but has little or no relevance to meaningful considerations for this wildlife management issue.

            And finally, the old “what constitutes a meaningful trophy for the Idaho wolf hunter” discussion that you and I have engaged with since 2009.
            You have a high level of certainty that you understand the desires, values and criteria for a “trophy” of thousands of Idaho hunters when it comes to ….. a wolf pelt. If you mean to say that hunters will not, cannot value the pelt of a 5 month or older wolf as a trophy or to use for other legitimate purposes – well I have to tell you that you are wrong. The legitimate value of a “trophy” to thousands of individual Idaho hunters cannot be described or catagorized by your personal values or preferences nor by mine of by any fixed set of criteria. It is enough that each hunter is given the choice to harvest/kill/take a wolf during the hunting season that runs from August 30 to March 1 in the majority of the state and until June 1 in the remaining 3 wolf management zones. The hunters who participate in this wolf hunting season will make their own decisions and if legal those decision will be entirely legitimate and ethical within the bounds established by the Idaho governmental electoral process. And yes, absolutely, one important objective of this hunting season is to significantly reduce the Idaho wolf population to achieve a broader balance of public wildlife and personal property benefits than can be achieved with the current Idaho wolf population. Hopefully, we will be able to report success after all of the data are collected and analyzed at the end of this hunting/trapping season.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Mark,
            To clarify a point I can say with near 100% certainty that Jon and my views on hunting are polar opposites.

            You are coming close to the point however that no other animal classified as a big game animal is targeted from the moment of birth. Only animals considered/classified as vermin get that distinction. It is also not the point of will a newborn/weeks old pup be killed. The point is that it has been made legal to do so. We know that pups as young as five months will be killed.

            If that is not that big of a deal why not allow the kill of cougar cubs in the same age group? If it is a near certainty that it will not happen then why is there a law to make it illegal?

            What it gets down to is ethical fair chase hunting, both of which is subverted by Idaho’s management plan.

            As for the trophy question, I can see it now;
            (Standing in the trophy room of an International Hunting convention)

            Ian points to a cape Buffalo mount.
            ” I shot that bugger at full charge with my .500 Nitro Express and dropped him literally at my feet.”

            Liam nods and says” Good shot!. I bagged that 500 lb lion (pointing) with my .300 Weatherby Magnum at 50yd after a four hour stalk. Chance of a lifetime”.
            and so it goes around the room until Mark says, ya, I bagged that five month old wolf pup at 150yd with my Savage .270. (Pointing at the juvenile skull, cleaned alabaster white in beetle bin) Never had a chance. You should see the look on the grand-kids faces when I tell that story”.

          • avatar JB says:

            I think I may be able to help sort out what is at issue in this argument.

            When people say wolves are being managed differently or the NA Model does not exactly fit, it is because, the NA Model is predicated on using regulation as a means to restrict the killing of an otherwise valued resource. Yet, it appears that the majority of people who would hunt wolves are not motivated to obtain a resource they value (e.g., meat, trophy), but rather, to rid themselves of a competitor (see Idaho’s wolf management plan and survey; see also Treves & Martin 2010; http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/people/treves/Pubs/Hunters_as_stewards_of_wolves_Treves_Martin_2010.pdf). I would also point out that wolf management is different in that state governors and legislators seem very comfortable getting involved in the specifics of wolf policy and management.

            Regardless, because of wolves’ reproductive capacity, wildlife agencies may not need hunters to “act as stewards”, but merely to NOT act in such a way as to damage wolf populations (i.e., kill them illegally). In this respect, as some have pointed out here, hunting wolves may actually relieve some of the tension. We made this point in a reply to Treves in Martin that is due out next year (see: http://bruskotter.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/bruskotter-fulton-in-press-will-hunters-steward-wolves-a-reply-to-treves-martin.pdf).

            From my perspective, what is different about wolves is that most in the non-hunting community seem to value them highly, while many (most?) hunters assign little value to wolves (again, see Idaho’s data). Thus, one segment of society would protect them as a valued resource (by limiting hunting), while the other segment would attempt to minimize their population (or treat them like a nuisance species). (Note: This is probably true of cougars in some areas as well, but for whatever reason, they do not attract nearly as much attention and debate.)

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Great post JB.
            I would like to add one caveat.
            I do not think that the state Governors are particularly comfortable getting into the wolf debate, but are directed to by their handlers in the livestock industry.

  26. avatar willam huard says:

    Think of the possibilities for next year- hand grenades, cluster bombs, bazookas…..you could kill wolves more efficiently! What a great country- where people get to kill native populations of animals they dislike and it’s legal!!!!

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      William,
      It is indeed a great country where the American hunting tradition is alive and well – for a variety of native species that are thriving under scientific management of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. All of those native North American species are available for diverse beneficial public uses. Few countries in the world today conserve their wildlife legacy as well for societal benefits as we do here.

      • avatar willam huard says:

        Yeah, keep tellin yourself that Mark. How do you get to “thriving” with fragmented and broken wolf packs under constant harassment and hunting pressure from your “conservation minded hunters” and WS goon squad?

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          William,
          For the sake of helping you keep your comments better grounded on science (facts) – it’s also been explained several times that the worry about pack fragmentation, with conjectural predictions of more livestock depredations, etc., etc., etc…… is neither supported by science (research) nor the most recent real world experience of the 2009-2010 Idaho and Montana wolf hunting season. Idaho experienced a 50% REDUCTION in wolf depredation incidents. No worrisome observations of fragmented, disfunction wolf packs causing more problems than before the hunting season. It’s important to emphasize that a sample size of one observation (wolf hunting season) is not adequate for a definitive conclusion. It is however the most instructive data to date to clarify the speculation of hunting effects on wolf pack integrity.

          • avatar willam huard says:

            Mark-
            Keep it simple- without the Fish and Game mumbo jumbo. You just said that one hunt is not enough data to draw a definitive conclusion. Maybe you should reread George’s article again- slower this time.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            William – my comments apply particularly to George’s article. His assertions are simply another example of the same unsubstantiated – no – contradicted speculation. In simple words – much ado about nothing at this point. No evidence of wolf pack disruption, no evidence of hunting causing more problems, but strong circumstancial evidence that hunting achieved one intended wolf management objective of the hunt. As I said, this is to help you (and George and others), better ground your positions on facts.

          • avatar willam huard says:

            Mark-
            George’s article contains very litle speculation. You would have more credibility with me and I’m sure others on this blog if you just admitted that there is a great financial incentive to limit predators like wolves. All your revenue is derived from hunter fees and equipment sales in Idaho which sets up an enourmous conflict of interest where your goal is to increase hunter opportunity, bag limits, and keep your hunter constituency happy at the expense of predators like wolves. Admit it Mark

          • avatar willam huard says:

            People are not stupid. You could have had a reasonable wolf management plan and kept wolf numbers around 500 but you didn’t. Your Governor, state legislature, and hunting community are more interested in teaching wolves a lesson for being wolves. Pathetic. It may not matter to you, but every time I buy a bag of potatoes I make sure the name Idaho is not on the package, and I have convinced several people not to reward your predator hating wildlife policies

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            William – The people who take the time to read, listen and objectively think are not stupid. Some who are not stupid, still will not or cannot resist clinging to a unfounded argument that advances their preferred outcome. This discussion of the premise of wolf pack disruption by hunting and, more importantly, unintended negative consequences for society, is a good example of that human foible. My contribution to this thread is to help you and others be better informed of what is known about hunting effects on wolf pack integrity and the myth, to date, that hunting wolves increases the wolf-human conflicts that hunting is partially designed to reduce.
            ma’iingan noted at the top of this thread that George offered no supporting research for his assertion that hunting disrupts wolf pack integrity and creates more depredation problems and that experience in Wisconsin contradicts George’s assertion, as does recent Idaho experience. George offered two published papers and one newspaper article for documention. No documentation of pack disruption or unintended exacerbation of wolf conflicts due to wolf hunting to be found in either published paper or the newspaper article. That is why George and others (William) are SPECULATING about a theoretical effect of wolf hunting on wolf packs. There are arguments against wolf hunting that are legitimate considerations in the debate – primarily those objections based on personal values and preferences for wildlife management, weighed against other legitimate values and preferences for wildife management. The challenge that wolf hunting will disrupt wolf pack integrity in a way that increases wolf conflicts is not supported by research or other reliable science and, at this time has little validity as a legitimate consideration for wolf management options.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          “George’s article contains very litle speculation.”

          William, you might try exercising some critical thinking rather than emotional knee-jerking. The “fragmented social structure” and “cultural learning” theories blow up in light of wolf behavior in the WGL region. Our long-term average pack size is on the order of only 4-5 animals, and dispersal from natal packs is almost a given by the age of 22 months. In fact, I would submit that “social fragmentation” in this region occurs when animals can’t disperse normally due to a landscape saturated with wolves.

          And if “cultural learning” were a necessity to long-term wolf survival, how could the WGL wolves be thriving as they are, when few animals remain with their natal pack for even two years? Prior to the densities we have now, we saw dispersal occurring as early as 9-10 months.

          You and others have expressed great concern about the offtake of pups – you do realize that pups are the most expendable members of the population, don’t you? They have the highest mortality rate, even in unexploited populations. A good share of pup mortality due to hunting will be compensatory, not additive. Would you rather that the hunting offtake consist only of adult breeders?

          • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

            I the book I’m reading about wolves in the Yukon, Bob Hayes describes how very young recolonizing pairs did extremely well at killing moose – can’t remember the exact numbers but their per capital kill rate was very high. This was a follow-up study after wolf removal in the Finlayson area. They did not need a long undisturbed cultural history to quickly be successful on their own in a place where there was plenty of room for them, similar to those caught by Alberta trappers in a heavy trapping/hunting area and moved to Yellowstone and Idaho.

  27. avatar Harley says:

    This probably could have gone in a better spot I suppose but it’s early and I don’t feel like searching for the right place.
    I just have to say, I’m sick to death of people on both sides of the wolf argument heavily appealing for that emotional gut reaction. Some on one side want to point out how hunters will go after pups. Who can hear that crap and not get revved up? Most reasonable people have an instinct to protect young of just about any species. At least I think they do. They also want to point out the lingering death of an animal in a trap or even how horrible traps are along with indiscriminate poison and the mental image of neanderthal-like hunters running around shooting anything that moves.
    Then you have the other side that show horrendous pictures of horses with their entrails ripped from them, wolves eating prey still alive, calves ripped from their mother’s wombs and partially consumed. What the hell?
    I really don’t even know what I believe or feel anymore. I try to stay with the thought that both sides have very valid arguments and concerns but it’s hard to stay focused amid the barrage of emotionally charged sights and mental images thrown out there.
    Sorry, just my frustration boiling to the surface here.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Harley,

      Very heartfelt. I’m unabashedly pro wolf, and I look at it as nature. Much of what happens in nature is rather disturbing, but I would hazard a guess that 99.9% of this is natures quest for food.

      Man is part of nature, but in his/her high falootin self image man is more intelligent than everything else, but seldom acts this way.

      By accident of where we were born, discussions such as these are conceivable. Better to have these discussions, and allow a voice for those in nature unable to speak for themselves.

    • avatar Catbestland says:

      Harley,

      It is hard to know who is telling the truth sometimes. It is true that wolves will kill, mame and mutilate livestock on public lands. But that livestock needs to be cared for properly, and kept out of harms way. Would you let your children play in shark infested waters. These public lands are/were the habitat for wolves and other predators. If livestock is on public lands where wolves reside, a few of them will be taken. Not near as many as ranchers would have you believe, but they do eat meat.

      You will notice that it is only those who profit from our public lands or from the hunting experience that squawk the loudest about wolves infringing upon their profits. It is all about money. If a rancher had a good horse that he cared about, he would not leave it on public lands where it could be attacked by anything including wolves. More likely a horse that has been killed by wolves has been abandoned on public lands because the owner is tired of feeding it and perhaps it is old and loss most of its usefulness. Laws on disposal of horses have changed making it more profitable for ranchers just to “dump” horses on public lands where they are likely to be attacked. Then the rancher gets to collect big money from reimbursement programs for that horse he couldn’t sell at auction. ANYONE, who loves a horse (and I say this because I am a horse owner) would never leave it where it could be attacked by wolves.

      It is natural and beneficial to wolves on our public lands. They help maintain a healthy ecosystem. Many ecological benefits have resulted with the wolf reintroduction. Many ecological disasters have resulted from the invasion of cattle in our public lands. Put simply, wolves belong in the western high country, cows do not.

      Always remember, follow the money. It’s all about making money. Wolves are a threat to ranchers making easy practically free money from grazing their livestock on public lands. And anti wolf hunters hate wolves because wolves make it harder for them to hunt or guide because game is more warry around wolves. This cuts into a hunting guide’s profits.

      Those who are trying to protect wolves are trying to protect your interest in public lands. Ranchers would just as soon keep you from knowing that you have an interest in public lands an public wildlife because they thihk they have exclusive rights to it.

      There is a segment of this population that believes money is the bottum line. There is another segment that believes the health of our home, the earth, is far more important than the profits of a couple of industries which very few people in general have anything to do with. I hope this helps.

      • avatar willam huard says:

        Read George W’s explanation of the ranchers role in relation to livestock depredation. He makes it clear- ranchers like the FED intervention. If they wanted to make depredation a non issue they could. They like playing the victim

      • avatar Elk275 says:

        ++ANYONE, who loves a horse (and I say this because I am a horse owner) would never leave it where it could be attacked by wolves. ++

        Catbestland

        You have never hunted with horses or mules or even fished with them. A month ago I purchase a very good mule, well trained, 14 years old and hopefully bomb proof, if that is possible.

        When hunting with horses or mules one does not ride all day hoping to see a elk, dismount and shoot the elk. One rides into the mountains, dismounts, ties the animal to a tree and hunts on foot. I only have a place to keep one horse or mule, therefore I am hunting with one mule this year. Horses and mules are herd animals and they do not like to be left alone. After tying the mule up, I will have to hobble the front legs since it is alone. In years gone I never had to worry about wolves, now it is something to think about an I am a bit concerned. An outfitter in the Frank Church lost a mules several months ago to wolves, several weeks ago he was offering 8 day wolf hunts for $500.

        I have tied many horses up in Alaska and British Columbia; I was concerned but not worried about wolves, bears yes. Things to think about. If I was to lose this animal to wolves and I was compensated for its value the compensation would not cover the year’s time it took to find this animal and that is the problem with compensation the NGO or state pays replacement cost but one then has to find a similar animal. If wolves would ever kill my mule …………………………………………….

        • avatar WM says:

          I will submit that wolves, wherever they are, also get a fair number of livestock including cattle, sheep, horses (miniatures killed outside Superior, MT last year), turkeys (lots of them in the Western Great Lakes, as many as 1600+ in some years), dogs (10-20 per year per state), and the occasional llama or mule that ARE NOT ON PUBLIC LANDS.

          That is a distinction that some on this forum tend to conveniently forget.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            +I will submit that wolves, wherever they are, also get a fair number of livestock including cattle, sheep, horses (miniatures killed outside Superior, MT last year), turkeys (lots of them in the Western Great Lakes, as many as 1600+ in some years), dogs (10-20 per year per state), and the occasional llama or mule that ARE NOT ON PUBLIC LANDS+

            The question is WM, how many of those losses could of have been prevented with better fencing and better supervision?

          • avatar WM says:

            Nancy,

            Agreed. But, expect a companion question along these lines:

            “If I can keep my horses/cows/sheep (turkeys) on my property with a 3 wire barbed wire (or other sufficient fence), who is going to pay for keeping the government’s wolves out? It’s not my responsibility to keep the government’s wolves out*, and more importantly I shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

            I bet this question/statement is made alot in the WGL and NRM, at the fringes of wolf and human territories where depredation risk is higher.

            So, just playing this out, what are the materials and labor costs of converting a 3 wire fence, for say a 20 acre pasture and a lean to, with 4 ft (wolf proof) sheep fence and two strand barbed wire above, with an enclosed pole barn or pen to keep stock safe at night? And then, maybe somebody to round up the stock, not every night, but just when they think wolves are in the neighborhood?

            _________

            *post script – even the experts say fladry (red flags spaced closely on wire) to deter wolves does not work over the long term, this according to the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN, Nancy jo Tubbs, in an interview a few months back.

          • avatar Harley says:

            Immer,
            Thanks, it was very heartfelt. It’s frustrating as a side-liner to listen to both sides of the argument, find validity in Both sides, but also be aware of the manipulation, subtle and not so subtle that is going on.

            Nancy and Catbestland,
            I’m not saying that people don’t leave their animals on public lands, not very well protected, and at the mercy of predators. I’m not even going to get into the debate of whether cattle belong on the range or that there are those that try to take every advantage of any system out there.
            However, you say that people should keep their animals where they can be protected and anything less than that proves that perhaps some people don’t care about their animals. Are you ok then with people who will shoot a wolf that is attacking their stock, their horse, their llama, sheep etc.? And I’m pretty sure the person who’s horse was killed by wolves that was rather widely photographed over the summer was not on public lands. What about the depredations that occur on someone’s property, in someone’s back yard, in someone’s home corral? And not all people who are against wolves are ranchers or game hunters or those that profit from that sort of thing. You can’t neatly package it up with a bow tied around it. It’s not that cut and dried! That’s what’s so frustrating about all of this.

          • avatar Paul says:

            WM, I understand your point, but why would it not be the responsibility of the property or stock owner to provide proper safeguards from predator attacks? To me that should be the price of doing business or owning property.

            Homeowners are responsible for putting safeguards in place to keep out the many two legged predators. This includes locks, fencing, alarms, etc. The same is true for private businesses. Protecting your assets should be the most important aspect of doing business or owning property. The rest of us should not be responsible for providing these safeguards for a select few who refuse to adapt to a changing world. To me that smacks of the “socialism” that many of these types rail against.

            I don’t like it when a sex offender is released into my neighborhood, but the residents in my area have to take precautions to protect the vulnerable from being attacked. The police cannot post a guard outside of every house in the area because the resources are not there. The government makes us aware of the threat, and it is up to us to provide the safeguards to protect our families and property. We may not like it, but the law makes it this way. Why should the responsibility for protection of livestock be any different?

            I am not comparing wolves to sex offenders (I am obviously very pro-wolf); I am just making an analogy about the responsibilities of protecting our property from external threats.

          • avatar WM says:

            Paul,

            It would be reasonable to say the reintroduction or repopulation of wolves to most areas after an absence of 70 years or more, is a paradigm shift. It is accompanied, apparently, by burden shifting, requiring a segment of the public (whether it be a livestock owner who raises for profit, or someone who lives and cares for their recreational livestock in country newly occupied by wolves) to now expend money where before they did not, on a “new” government created risk. In some instances there will be reimbursement for actual proven wolf kill damages whether government or private ogranization (like the Defenders of Wildlife program that was once in effect for ID and MT).

            The idea of fencing something out, by taking an affirmative act that costs you money to keep it (wolves) from trespassing is pschologically and legally different different from keeping something you own in to prevent it from escaping and causing damage or being destroyed.

            The middle ground, from the government’s perspective, is WS taking out problem wolves, after the kill livestock. WS is active in the WGL states as well as the NRM. They are likely to become much more active in OR and WA quite soon. Wait for the first horses to get run into a barbed wire fence trying to escape pursuing wolves in WA or OR. More than likely that will happen relatively soon. The wolves may not even have to get in an enclosure to do it. I hope I am wrong on that for alot of reasons (for both horses and wolves), but it seems inevitable.

            _________

            I saw a bumper sticker just yesterday:

            Isn’t it ironic we must look to government to fix a problem that government created.

          • avatar WM says:

            Ironically, this article appeared in the Missoula 9/4 paper. The topic is chickens as an attractive meal for bears, and the need to keep them separate. Here the issue is a bit easier to address with minimal cost, perhaps. One wire hot fence between grizzlies and their meal. Not so easy for wolves and their broad menu, it would seem. Wolves, like dogs, I suspect over time, will just go under a hot wire, even when it is also wearing those little red fladry flags.

            http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_0541978c-d6aa-11e0-9729-001cc4c002e0.html

          • avatar jb says:

            In order to protect myself from economic loss, I must carry insurance. So when my car (property) collides with a government managed deer on public land (freeway) I don’t lose my shirt (though every year a number of people lose their lives in such collissions. Interestingly, white-tailed deer were exterminated here in Ohio; to recover they were re- introduced and protected until their populations could withstand human hunting.

            Using the logic of western livestock producers, I should not have to carry insurance, but rather, should be reimbursed by the government for the damage done by this unnecessarily reintroduced species.

            Food for thought.

        • avatar wolf moderate says:

          I was told by a fish n game elk biologist that the reason that elk are not bugling as much as previous years is because calls have gotten much better, therefore the elk that bugle are the ones that die. He said that only the bulls that don’t bugle live to breed so the offspring are also less likely to bugle when they reach sexual maturity (not sure I believe his hypothesis).

          Is it possible that like elk-certain wolves have a predisposition towards killing domestic animals? If so, would it be possible to focus on these wolf packs to hopefully kill off the gene(?) that makes some wolves go for the easy meal?

          Just thinking out loud…

        • avatar Jay says:

          Elk–I heard about a guy who’d lost a mule in the Frank to a rutting bull moose (punctured lung, apparently) a couple years ago…not just wolves you have to worry about.

  28. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    So the question becomes: What would a sound Grey Wolf state management plan based on predator ecology and genuine conservation actually look like ? Maybe the Pro-Wolf community can be just as faulted for not providing a sound Grey Wolf management plan to the States as the leaders and vested interests in those states were faulted for advancing such corrupt narrow dysfunctional plans based entirely on scattershot killing.

    It’s both tempting and easy to tear down the three state’s Wolf Mismanagement Plans , because they are built on faulty foundations. p[redator management never has been beholden to science. Instead, provincial folk wisdom prevailed and I am ashamed that ” wisdom” is revealed as bigotry towards predators when you strip the hide off it. Human arrogance and ignorance trumps Nature , but this goes back to the Old World and thousand years back in time.

    What would a good Grey Wolf management plan look like ?

    Wyoming’s official comment period on its new old draft wolf plan closes on September 9. The state Game & Fish Commission is meeting just five days later, and the whisper in the wind is they will rubber stamp the plan regardless of what the public input said. Ka-thunk!!

    We do need a better plan ,regardless…

  29. avatar Catbestland says:

    Elk275,

    Then apparently you love hunting elk more than you love your horse or mule. Again!!! ANYONE who loves their horse (or mule) would not leave it where it will be attacked by wolves.

    • avatar willam huard says:

      Plus Elk sent his old horse to the slaughterhouse…..How’s that for years of service.

      • avatar Elk275 says:

        William, I have not sent my horse to the slaughterhouse yet, cuurently he is grazing in a large pasture. In the next few weeks I will have to make a decision sell him in the ring see if I can give him away on craigslist or see if Eagle Mount wants him.

        I only have winter boarding for one horse of mule, it’s numbers game.

        • avatar willam huard says:

          Well there is hope for you yet Elk. Remember that they are very well aware of what awaits them in the killbox. How old is the horse? What kind of a horse is it?

          • avatar willam huard says:

            If you exhaust you’re possibilities let me know, I have some contacts in horse rescue………If you want

          • avatar willam huard says:

            Sorry should be “your” not “you’re”

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            It is a 24 year old horse with mostly quarter horse qualities. The animal is no longer strong enough to carry myself in the mountains and he was never sure enough footed for me to trust him. I purchased him from an outfitter, he was bomb proof but could and would not work alone. I never trusted him, it was a stupid mistake buying him in the first place.

            My new mule is a gem who will carry me 20 miles a day every day. I have two major concerns: will it work alone and tie along and how will it handle moose.

            He is a very interesting article in the Missoulian.

            http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/territory/article_4acb117a-d5a6-11e0-bb6b-001cc4c03286.html

  30. avatar Catbestland says:

    Harley,

    It is far easier to protect your livestock on your own land than on public lands. Usually people have dogs that bark and give an alarm. Wolves are very shy and will not normally approach a busy farm. There are some that will but they have been incouraged by the easy unprotected pickings on public lands. Whether on public or private lands livestock should be tended. Ranchers are too used to having their cows and eating them too. They have had it easy too long. They place the responsibility of protecting their livestock on public lands with the government. This is the worst form of entitlement.

    But on the other hand. If there is a problem wolf which has been conditioned to prey upon livestock on private lands, those wolves do need to be destroyed. It is a leaned behavior, not an inherited one. I say if a wolf is on private land preying on livestock and the owner has done all he can to protect his livestock, then yes he has the right to protect his land and his livestock. If not, and you want to protect your livestock then get them off of public lands where the country’s wildlife reside. No one with any sense at all would leave a horse or mule tied up so that it cannot flee, where there is a possibility of being attacked by wolves. We ALL have interests in public lands. They are not just a free meal ticket for ranchers, contrary to their belief.

  31. avatar Nancy says:

    +“If I can keep my horses/cows/sheep (turkeys) on my property with a 3 wire barbed wire (or other sufficient fence), who is going to pay for keeping the government’s wolves out? It’s not my responsibility to keep the government’s wolves out*, and more importantly I shouldn’t have to pay for it.”+

    I know you’ve heard this comment repeated here often WM but the fact is, wolves are responsible for a fraction of livestock losses. And honestly? Would the “government’s” wolves be in the public eye at all IF livestock raisers took more responsibility for their product? According to NASS, they’ve had years and losses numbering in the millions, which they didn’t care to address and now suddenly its a crisis……

    Fact is life’s been good, for those living on the fringes (or in) raising livestock in wilderness areas, ignoring the obvious reasons that might bring predators in, what with all the subsidies and WS, til now.

    I’ve shared more than a few situations I’ve run across, where dead, bloated cattle have been left in fields to rot (and can only imagine the livestock that die from a host of reasons, other than predation – on public lands – that no one notices til the “cows or sheep, come home”)

    You and I and many others know, its been the norm for years, deaths that will attract coyotes (the #1 predator) bears and cougars and yes wolves, waiting to take advantage of those “free meals on wheels” that are either left in pastures dead or out on public lands……

  32. avatar willam huard says:

    George W
    “And it hardly warrants the exaggerated psychotic response by Congress, state legislatures, and state wildlife agencies.”

  33. avatar Nancy says:

    +The idea of fencing something out, by taking an affirmative act that costs you money to keep it (wolves) from trespassing is pschologically and legally different different from keeping something you own in to prevent it from escaping and causing damage or being destroyed+

    But you’re forgetting something WM – the double standard out here in the west called “open range”

    $2 grand out of MY pocket last year in order to prevent it (cows) from trespassing on MY property.

    • avatar WM says:

      Nancy,

      I am not taking sides on the issue, just pointing out the other viewpoint. It is not just open range in some Western states, but also think of the elk or deer that want your roses or carrots in your garden, or the bear or raccoon with an appetite for dog food (see post above about grizzlies working on the chicken coupe). Those critters will take your stuff in a heartbeat if given the chance. The difference is, as was noted in the first comment, that the government just put the wolves back after a 70 year break, and there is a large land requirement of livestock prey and the associated costs of protecting them. We know there is a risk there because that is why wolves were removed in the first place.

      But for the presence of the new risk, would the owner have to spend the money on the fences, guard dogs, range riders, and somebody to bring the stock in at night?

      As for your expenditure to keep the cows out of your yard in MT, I guess you knew or should have known of the rules when you moved out here. Not right, maybe, by other regional standards/laws from where you came, but then the West has been cattle and sheep country for over 150 years. Wolves were originally removed so that one controllable risk could be reduced.

      Of course those cows (and maybe a grizzly) can be kept out with a hot wire strung on driven steel T posts for not so much $$$. Don’t know what you paid the $2K for unless you did a large acreage, or needed something more for a different purpose.

      • avatar Harley says:

        Tenderfoot, there are some that like the taste of cow flesh. There are some out there that are meat eaters. I’m thinking for some views here, that makes those that enjoy a steak or some pork chops or a rack of lamb rather evil.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Well it was kind of like this WM, the ranch adjacent to my property didn’t think they needed to do anything about their pathetic excuse for a fenceline (even though their cows were coming thru it) and the back part of my property also butts up against their land (another pathetic fenceline which I was responsible for) so yeah, I had a fair piece of land to fence in. And no, wasn’t familiar with the out dated mentality of “open range” when I moved here. (and its amazing how cranky a rancher can get when you complain about THEIR cows, trespassing on YOUR land, because of THEIR lousy fences)

        I don’t have a problem with wild critters coming thru or spending time on my property, you seldom know they’ve stop by and if given a choice, I’d have no fence surrounding it (only have to cut a couple of half dead deer out of a fence to understand why)

        My vegetable gardens are enclosed and so are my chickens and I don’t leave dog food outside. My flower garden has gone to seed now and it was a rare treat this morning to watch two Mulie bucks and a doe, feasting on whats left. After all… it will grow back next year.

        I live on the edge of a wilderness area WM. In 6 years, I’ve only lost one chicken, to a weasel. Wasn’t his fault, he was hungry and I should of done a better job, sercuring my “livestock”

        I just heard this morning that the little black bear up the valley, the one who wandered up behind a neighbor and licked his leg, was shot. Officials thought he’d gotten to comfortable around humans…..

        ++We know there is a risk there because that is why wolves were removed in the first place++

        In those 70 years since, the worst predator has been, still is, coyotes, as far as livestock depredations go. How come the same war wasn’t waged on coyotes? They have the same family structure and pack mentality as wolves?

  34. avatar Catbestland says:

    +”As for your expenditure to keep the cows out of your yard in MT, I guess you knew or should have known of the rules when you moved out here.”+

    How could anyone know about such stupid laws that exist nowhere else in the country. The laws pertaining to public lands grazing were made by cattlemen without consideration to any other portion of the population. It is only common sense that you should fence animals in if you want to keep them safe. Ranchers shouldn’t have the right to turn them loose on the nations last wild places and expect them to remain safe. This kind of ignorant reckoning doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country. The laws have to be changed by more responsible people. Public lands ranching MUST end.

    I know it is difficult to rewrite the laws concerning public lands grazing but the time has come. The laws that exist are STUPID and no one could understand them if they were not from this area. Until then the laws should at least be ammended to address the concerns of other portions of the population.

    • avatar willam huard says:

      Maybe some of the people on this blog that are always apologizing and pandering to hunters- should go on Nabeki’s Howling For Justice website and look at the cat with the arrow through it’s skull and ask yourself- why do I pander to these “hunters” that would do that to a cat- probably a homeless cat trying to survive

      • avatar Harley says:

        You know, I’m not into hunting. But I am willing to bet not all hunters would put a random arrow into a cat. William, you need to stop lumping them all into one little neat package. That’s like the other side saying all wolf supporters are tree hugging veggie chomping gay and lesbian liberals…Both views are just wrong.

        • avatar willam huard says:

          I’ll give you an example of why I am so frustrated. Why wouldn’t Dan Ashe, Rancher Boy Salazar and the Fed gov DEMAND that in wyoming for instance wolves would not be subjected to “torture”. Right now if this predator zone leg goes into effect in Wyoming wolves could be “burned alive” just like they were in the “good ole days” and it will be completely legal. We are suppose to just “trust” that the hundreds of thrill killing idiot hunters
          won’t do these things…..Some people in our society like doing that to animals. Tell me why there aren’t any safeguards in place? Does that make any sense?

        • avatar Harley says:

          Tenderfoot
          I’m not sure, but did you just compare someone who likes meat to someone who is a cannibal? Did I get that right? Seriously?
          Is that like when those on the other side of fence equate wolf lovers to communists?

        • avatar Harley says:

          Hmm… Tenderfoot, I’m pretty sure your way of thinking is just a bit too far out there for me. I mean, I could get even stranger and say that plants are just as innocent and don’t deserve to be consumed, some people actually believe that! But I’d like to keep things relatively in the realm of what I think is reality.

        • avatar Harley says:

          Hmm…. then it’s a good thing I don’t do either.

  35. avatar Catbestland says:

    Harley,

    If you want to eat beef, that’s alright, but, beef should be raised in the midwest or the east or southeast where ecosystems are hardy enough to withstand them. Our delicate arid ecosystems in the west simply cannot bear the damage done by cattle. It’s like trying to grow orchids in the desert. It is a HUGE displacement of resources for the very little resulting energy.

    That is why I am for a stamp that will allow consumers to know whether beef was grazed on public lands or not. They don’t have public lands grazing back east because they don’t need it. Their ranches and farms are fertile enough to support cattle.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      +It’s like trying to grow orchids in the desert+

      Wow Cat! What a great/visual way of putting it!!

    • avatar Elk275 says:

      Catbestland

      Montana is 29+% federal lands, take out the wilderness areas, national parks, high mountain country and other lands that are not grazed that 29% then becomes less than 15 to 20% of the entire state. Then what is one going to do with small insolated acreage’s in large tracts of public lands that have no public access. Any public lands map has thousands of isolated tracts of land that are part of a large private ranch, any hunter or individual who wants access would need a helicopter.

      Public lands grazing is Montana is big, but not as big as you think it is. Sixty five percent of the state is private land and five percent is public land. No one is ever going to stop grazing on private land or isolated tracts of public lands. NO one is ever going to stop western cattle grazing. Definitely there is some areas that need to curtail public lands grazing such as the Gravelies and Snowcrest Mountains.

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        It’s in my files that at most only 6 percent of the nation’s beef cows ever set foot on public land at any time in their short life that leads to the slaughterhouse anyway, as is their destiny. Or put another couple of ways…94 percent of cattle are raised on private pasture, or feedlot, cradle to grave. All the cattle that are grazing on public lands could vanish at once, and the beef market would barely register the blip. Full adjustment to their loss would come in 45 days, and consumer prices would not fluctuate much if any.

        Yet to hear the western rancher hue andc ry, you’d think charging fair market price for public graze , instead of a paltry $ 1.35 month for a cow and her calf, would put them in bankruptcy , and removing public land grazing altogether would be the end of the world as they think they know it. Yet the public still tolerates losing money on ranching and diversion of vital resources such as grasslands and riparian zones for unprofitable special interests that contribute surprisingly little to local economies or the tax base.

        It’s a matter of scale and perspective.

        The impact of wolves on the cattle industry in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho is statistically closer to zero than not, as is. If you don’t count all the extra taxpayer resources used to grossly overcompensate the cattlemen for these illusory impacts, such as free predator elimination , that is…

        • avatar Catbestland says:

          +”It’s in my files that at most only 6 percent of the nation’s beef cows ever set foot on public land”+

          Then the beef industry would not even miss the cows that are grazed on public lands. As stated earlier, the delicate arid ecosystems of the Rocky Mountain West cannot support the trauma of cattle. Lush pastures of the more humid east and mid-west are far better suited to withstand the production of beef.

          Also, it would be a lot easier and cheaper if only 6% of beef that makes it to the market gets the “public lands grazed” stamp. Or it might be a better idea if the 94% of cows NOT grazed on public lands gets the “Non-Public Lands Grazed” stamp. Regardless, it would be a relatively simple thing to require the stamp which would give people the choice of eating beef that has contributed to the destruction of the planet or eating beef that has not.

    • avatar Harley says:

      catbestland,
      Personally, I prefer beef, pork, and poultry raised on the smaller family type farms, which are getting harder to find these days. Lot fed cattle is just nasty in my opinion. Grass-fed is the best. Free range chickens are the very best!
      Gotta admit, I was a bit surprised about your comment that the midwest, the east and south east is better equipped to handle beef, but then again, I am not as familiar with the ecosystem out west. I’ve always figured, maybe through stories or from family that most beef is better raised out west on pasture. I guess I’ll have to do a bit more research…

  36. avatar Catbestland says:

    Elk275,

    29% of a state is simply too much to be destroyed by cattle.

    As far as hunters getting to their hunting areas, I simply have no interest in how they get there. I’d prefer they didn’t.

    • avatar Elk275 says:

      Catbestland

      Read what I wrote. Of the 29% of the state’s federal land approximately 50% of that 29% is grazed by cattle. It would be an interesting number too know, exactly. The lands that are grazed are not destroyed; it might be something that we do not like but there is no total destruction. I do not enjoy walking in cow pies up the trail. What are you going to do about cattle being grazed on a isolated small acreage tracts of federal land. The feds have to get permission to enter private land before can access their small tracts. Most of those small federal tracts are not even fenced and if the federal government wanted to kept cattle off of the federal land, they would have to fenced them out. The more fencing the more impediment to wildlife movement.

      ++ As far as hunters getting to their hunting areas, I simply have no interest in how they get there. I’d prefer they didn’t.++

      If a hunter cannot access isolated tracts of public land then the public cannot access their public lands. Your knowledge of landownership in the west is limited. I have spent the last 30 years dealing with landownership. On August 31 the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks voted to purchase a 1/2 mile easement across private land for $50,000 so the public would have access to the National Forest. The access to that part of the National Forest was very limited. The Billings Rod and Gun Club purchased and installed the cattle guards. This is National Forest land the is now accessible to the public, wildlife watchers in clued.

      • avatar Catbestland says:

        Elk275,

        +” Your knowledge of landownership in the west is limited.”+

        I am a landowner in the west and I know enough to know that the laws pertaining to open range are stupid, archaic and benefit no-one except ranchers. My land boarders National Forrest and BLM. I’m quite familiar with how the racket works.

        In case you haven’t noticed, there is now a wide variety of knowledgeable folk from diversified backgrounds living in the west whose interest in public lands is just as valid as the ranchers’. Laws pertaining to public lands should address their concerns as well.

        As far as access to hunting areas, if you get it, fine. If you don’t, fine. I do not argue whether or not you have the right to hunt, obviously you do. And especially here in Colorado where we have elk out the Ying-Yang, I can understand the need, especially since we have no wolves. (Coloado is a giant elk farm) I just question the moral and emotional health of anyone who cannot be fulfilled without killing something beautiful. But by all means, if you can get to them, kill them. Most of them are going to die from wildlife diseases introduced by bad management anyway. Wolves may be a solution to that problem too but hey, if you want to shoot sick elk, then be my guest.

  37. avatar Nancy says:

    +They concluded that improved animal husbandry provided “the greatest promise for reducing wolf depredation” (Musiani et al. 2005:885)+

    Thank you Jon Way for pointing that fact out. It needs to be repeated over and over again but I seriously doubt it will be a “lightbulb” moment for many ranchers.

    Abstract: The economic impact of changing land-use policies has traditionally been estimated using the standard economic model of profit maximization. Ranchers are assumed to maximize profit and to adjust production strategies so as to continue maximizing profit with altered policies. Yet, nearly 30 years of research and observation have shown that family, tradition, and the desirable way of life are the most important factors in the ranch purchase decision – not profit. Ranch buyers want an investment they can touch, feel, and enjoy, and they historically have been willing to accept relatively low returns from the livestock production. Profit maximization appears to be an inadequate model for explaining rancher behavior, describing grazing land use, and estimating the impacts of altered public land policies.

    http://www.publiclandsranching.org/htmlres/resources.htm#permittees

    • avatar Bob says:

      Nancy
      They said, improved animal husbandry provided the greatest “promise” for “reducing” wolf depredations. That’s almost as good as George’s science. It’s also very true yet, there’s only one way to stop wolves from killing cattle. Let us also repeat that.
      The pro=wolf group always have a promise. Got to like a promise.

      • avatar willam huard says:

        You’re right Bob. There is one way to stop wolves from killing cattle. Get rid of the cattle. If you are not willing to participate in 21st century animal husbandry techniques you shouldn’t be ranching. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but times have changed. Stanley Young is dead

        • avatar Elk275 says:

          William you or anyone else is not going to get rid of the cattle and the rancher is not going to participate in your animal husbandry techniques.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Elk, you of all people on this site, ought to be familiar with the clashes and changes happening in this part of the country and yeah its time to change animal husbandry techniques.

            Hundreds, if not more of those “been in the family forever” ranches are now on the selling block (only have to google ranches for sale in Montana to realize that fact) because many of those kids just don’t want to carry on that old “family tradition” of sun up/ sun down, 24/7 way of life anymore, and they especially don’t want to fight with all the relatives who are also clinging to those ranches (because thats the way it was arranged back then)
            An ancestor who laid claim to the land and then his siblings, and then their siblings, and so on, and so on……..

            Hope you made it up to Twin Lakes this summer Elk, because right now the whole area is socked in with smoke.

            The little, “let it burn” 150 acre fire the Forest Service has been tending outside of Wisdom for weeks, jumped to 1,600 acres in a day and the day’s not over yet.

        • avatar Bob says:

          Here’s the 21st century in my valley:
          We have carcass pick=up 12 months a year and have had for longer than we have had introduced wolves.
          We have range riders 6 months during the summer and still we loose cattle.
          We’ve lost cows and horses to wolves because of night pens.
          We’ve lost animals within yards of the house even with watch dogs.
          we have collars on most packs but the rest of the pack does as it likes.
          Electric fence doesn’t work.
          Fladery does not work.

          Every confirmed wolf depredation I know about in the valley happened on private land again happened on private land.
          So we’re still ranching and times have changed the wolf is delisted and I find comfort now in a warm gun.
          You should accept change.

          Dark ages?

          • avatar willam huard says:

            How do you keep your gun warm Bob, sleep with it under your pillow? Dark Ages-You’re a dinosaur

          • avatar Nancy says:

            +We have range riders 6 months during the summer and still we loose cattle.
            We’ve lost cows and horses to wolves because of night pens.
            We’ve lost animals within yards of the house even with watch dogs+

            In those frustrated paragraphs, I’m not seeing any numbers regarding total depredations and what predators seem to be responsible for your losses.

            Where do you live Bob?

          • avatar jon says:

            and you wonder why people hate ranchers.

          • avatar wolf moderate says:

            I didn’t know people hate “welfare ranchers”. Kind of strange that city folks pay thousands of dollars to stay at dude ranches. Seems like the average urbanite romantacizes the rancher lifestyle.

            I’d agree with your statement if it said “No wonder why 1% (maybe up to 5%) of the US poplulation hates ranchers”.

          • avatar SAP says:

            Bob, that’s quite a statement to say “electric fence doesn’t work.” I am a big believer in a good hot fence, but it’s gotta be the right design and it has to be maintained.

            We don’t know if you’re referring to a single strand, multiple smooth wires, or what. There are designs that work. They may be cost-prohibitive for large acreages, but for smaller calving pastures and night pens, they work. They have to be maintained.

            And I know you probably know this, but believe it or not some folks think otherwise — you have to close the gate, and the gate has to have hotwires on it too.

            Fladry is a different story. I have seen it work, and if properly electrified it can work for quite a long time. It is a maintenance nightmare though. So, when you say it “does not work,” do you mean it’s impractical? Because I have seen it work, seen wolves turn away from it.

            It won’t work all the time with all wolves. The name of the game is risk reduction. Nothing is guaranteed.

            Are you around Helmville?

          • avatar SAP says:

            Tenderfoot, your comments to date on this blog have either been of no value or have been borderline creepy.

  38. avatar mikarooni says:

    …and the same to you, sir!

  39. avatar Nancy says:

    +This blog is breath of fresh sanity+

    And I totally agree with you there Tenderfoot……. but comments like “Blow it out your ass!+ are not appropropriate or appreciated here, so many tone it down alittle?

  40. avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

    Wolf moderate, Do you know any of those city slickers that want to come out to those dude ranches?Most city folks and those that live in the surrounding areas,around the country are dealing with either drought,fires or flooding. Lets not to mention recovering from hurricanes and tornadoes..Bad weather has hit most of us. I will have teach my grandson to lasso the mail box and try to corral the dog into the fenced yard.Yahoo!

    • avatar wolf moderate says:

      Sorry to hear about your troubles. Where do u live…The state would work;)

      People have been visiting ranches for a long time. Remember the hit “city stickers”. Great movies.

      Hope everything works out.

  41. avatar Cobra says:

    Tenderfoot,
    Maybe be a little more open minded in your thoughts. Have you ever been to Idaho? Do you know any ranchers, hunters or as you put it bumpkins from Idaho. Like any state we have good and bad and yes there are good people that ranch,farm, hunt and fish.Idaho is a great place with many outdoor opportunities for those who enjoy them.Many of us are very lucky that live here because the great outdoors is right off the front porch and I wouldn’t have it any other way.The very first thing I get to see every morning is the mountains,the last thing I see before it gets dark is the mountains. Moose in the back yard, wolves howling on the ridge, bull starting to bugle, yea it really sucks being a hunter, bumpkin etc. from Idaho but I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with it.

  42. avatar Judy Crowder says:

    Cattle Is Big Business, All These Cattle Ranchers has to do is Bark And People Jump. They Want the Wolves killed Off that’s what they do. Take The wolves out of the picture They Get More Free Land Given To There Cattle. I will Not Buy From These States Ever As Long As There is Wolf Slaughter. My Meat Is Bought from Amish. My Veggies Comes From Ohio & Pa. I don’t Buy Idaho Potatoes. I don’t buy Hewitt Packard Computers. Boycott them all Wyoming, Montana , Utah, Idaho, Alaska , I’m sick of Our Wild Animal’s Losing Because Of Jerks, like these cattlemen, and These Idiot Politicians who can be Bought with Blood Money…

  43. avatar Kayt says:

    I voted to put wolves in Yellowstone in 1995.

    Nowhere in the petition did they say “Canadian Wolves” I thought we were talking about what was already here.
    What was already here is now gone. They threaten our town, I pack a gun, and for the first time in my life I will kill one of them. Just to see it die.
    Any of you ever seen them? I have a 117 pound dog, (by vet scales) and this dog does not stand a chance.
    Anyone on here been surrounded by 7 wolves. Over about 10 minutes?
    Don’t say they are a valuable animal. There is a reason they were exterminated in the 30′s

    • avatar Paul says:

      This is a joke right? And how do they threaten your town, Johnny Cash? I call bull$hit on this one.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Katy,

      Please allow me the license to pick, choose, and respond to your post.

      “I thought we were talking about what was already here.”

      “There is a reason they were exterminated in the 30′s.”

      If they were exterminated in the 30′s, where do you think “they” came from.

      “What was already here is now gone.”

      Huh? Did you not write that “they” were exterminated in the 30′s?

      “Anyone on here been surrounded by 7 wolves. Over about 10 minutes?”

      Yep. Once for two days, while with a 100 pound dog that had the brains to not go running after “them”. Oh, and I was not packing a gun.

      “I pack a gun, and for the first time in my life I will kill one of them. Just to see it die.”

      Hmmm, just to see it die. Speaks volumes about you.

    • avatar william huard says:

      Now listen here Billijo Bob Beck, you wanted to post on the Black Bear Blowhard blog with the dimwits right? Wrong site

    • avatar Alan says:

      “Anyone on here been surrounded by 7 wolves?”
      Yes! The single most amazing experience of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. They were never threatening, only curious.

      • avatar william huard says:

        This person is probably from Wolf watch, or whatever that degenerate group from Idaho is. You know the site, with visonaries like Chandie Bartell and toothless Bruce Hemmoroid

  44. avatar Alfredo Kuba says:

    Great piece of reporting! wolf-hunts morally corrupt
    by GEORGE WUERTHNER. Please allow me to add, as an environmental scientist, we shouldn’t be measuring wild life and nature by the standards of ranchers and hunters or one species, men! All are unnatural and equally, extremely destructive to both, wild life and nature. Hunters are nature’s terrorists, causing unbalances in wild life populations, pushing them to the brink of extinction or over compensating populations due to the loss of predators by hunters (animal terrorists).

    Furthermore, The ethical and moral aspects of this issue are conveniently left out because of course these acts are immoral and unethical, murdering other species simply because they are different then ours rests on the principal of a supremacist theory, that one is better than another, that might is right. As long as humans continue their arrogant cravings, to devour the flesh of other innocent beings in order to satisfy their gluttonous, unhealthy, insatiable, blood thirsty appetites, all other life will continue to suffer the consequences from it.

    “Towards creatures all men are Nazis. The smugness with which men do with other species as he pleases exemplifies the most extreme racist theories, the principal that might is right.” Isaac Bashevis Singer – Yiddish Nobel Prize Laureate 1978

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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