Montana greatly extends wolf hunting season-
Idaho to kill supposed large population of Lolo wolves with helicopters-

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has extended their wolf hunt not for just a month but for a month and half, with maybe more to follow.  Having reached only half their dead wolf quota in early December they just extended the season to Feb. 15, 2012.

It seems odd that wolves are claimed to be nearly everywhere in Western Montana, especially in the Bitterroot Valley near the abodes of right wingers who seem to be able to see what others, including hunters can’t.  Maybe the state game commission (Fish, Wildlife and Parks) will meet the quota given enough time, but wolves are obviously a lot harder to find or less abundant than claimed by noisy political groups who have dominated the news.

In Idaho, attention is always on the Lolo Zone where elk populations crashed before there were any wolves, but the canines got blamed anyway when elk number did not rebound. For several years now the Lolo area along the Idaho/Montana border has been subject to intense hunting (quotas not close to being filled), a special outfitter wolf killing season where methods not used in hunting (high tech) are used, now there will be direct government killing by helicopter gunships and trappers.  They want to kill 50 or 60 sixty wolves. We have long doubted if this many wolves exist because it is true there are few elk. What do the wolves in the area eat?  Whitetailed deer perhaps?

Our alternative explanation is that the Lolo wolf superabundance story is a myth.  If there were a lot of wolves, they soon moved on or starved.  All myths demand rituals to fan and maintain belief.  Historically in many cultures when people begin to doubt myths, those who benefit from the myth demand increased peformance of the ritual, so here that means an escalation from long hunting seasons to direct killing.  A interesting question will be what happens it they don’t come up with 50 wolves?

AP story. Idaho game officials plan to mount air, ground attacks on wolves. A significant quote from the story: “Idaho’s wolf hunting season opened in late August, but only six wolves have been harvested in the Lolo Zone. . . .”

– – – – –

This article from the LA Times from Dec. 8 is certainly relevant to these states politically driven attacks on what was an endangered species just a few years ago.
The new war on wolves: As soon as federal protection ended, the slaughter began. By J. William Gibson.

I think the wolf issue and the state’s rights issue do go together. Historically, states have often engaged in practices that are highly offensive to Americans in general, often related to racial, ethnic and gender issues but in this case one of the least dangerous large carnivores on the planet.

avatar
About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

391 Responses to Idaho and Montana game officials going nuts over failure to kill enough wolves

  1. avatar Mike says:

    What we’re seeing here is a return to the extermination period.

    Sad.

    • avatar william huard says:

      Idaho officials are pathetic….period. Ahh- those mythical LOLO wolves….I wonder what excuse Gamblin will come up with when they fail to execute 50 wolves in the LOLO.

    • avatar anthony criscola says:

      So what our we suppose to do about it; just stand by and watch. I say create a ruckus. The OWS movement changed the conversation in this country from one of deficit reduction to one of economic fairness.

      They didn’t do it by writing letters or signing petitions.We need to occupy wolf country.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Make sure you wear bright orange while occupying wolf country Anthony. Make sure you are not on private land while doing it.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Quentin Kujala, the FWP wildlife management section chief, noted that the agency originally considered extending the season until Jan. 31, but based on the low harvest numbers decided to add two more weeks. He said that since the proposal initially was made public, about 100 comments were received, and as with other wolf proposals, the perspectives were “quite diverse.”
          He added that as FWP looked further into the proposal, it also proposed – and the commission supported – not mandating hunters to wear bright orange vests as they have to during regular big-game season.

          Wise? Yes? No?

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Immer,

            There is no way in Hell I would venture out during any gun season without a bright orange vest on, and anyone who does, is not being smart.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Whole-hearted agreement here. What would you think of a dog’s chances, even if vested in orange? Not a loaded question but as MN gets closer to delisting, a big concern of mine, even with dog in orange.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Immer,

            I had orange vests/coats for both of my Golden’s when they were alive, and I know for a fact that twice it saved their lives, as they were the same color in the fall as the Whitetails around my area were, It can save their lives, so I would recommend it..

          • avatar Jeff Wegerson says:

            Oh Yes. I’m for it. Let’s put wolf hunters in increased peril to being shot by … other wolf hunters.

  2. avatar Paul says:

    Have these geniuses ever considered the possibility that maybe the wolves are just not there in the numbers that they thought? Of course now that these “Liberal Canadian Wolves” have the ability to close logging mills, force kids to be on free school lunches, all while eating most of the livestock and elk, shape shifting might not be too much of a stretch. Wow, wolves are far more amazing than I ever thought. They know to target only hunters, ranchers, their families and then disappear into thin air. What a joke. Thanks Obama, Salazar, and Congress for letting these fools “manage” this species. What is next calling in military airstrikes on suspected wolf dens?

    • avatar Maska says:

      Drones?

      • avatar Salle says:

        Indeed, drones. It’s already part of the “strategy” for killing all but the bare minimum number of wolves. And if they get too many, oh well.

        My guess is that we’re next. And it won’t be long. It seems they’re already doing it in ND:
        ——–

        Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front
        Unmanned aircraft from an Air Force base in North Dakota help local police with surveillance, raising questions that trouble privacy advocates.

        http://current.com/1sa62kc

    • avatar william huard says:

      Do you expect IDFG to take responsibility for mismanagement of ELK populations? Or the impact fire and habitat changes have had on the area?
      Maybe it’s just the outfitters in Idaho are incompetent misfits and they couldn’t find the wolves….

      • avatar Paul says:

        But William that is just not possible. These fine “conservationists” (outfitters) are just out there “putting food on the table,” and these big bad Canadian wolves are conspiring to ruin their businesses. I thought the wolves are waiting at every bus stop, and outside of every hunter and ranchers door huffing and puffing to blow their house down (or eat their children)? Maybe they were picked up by the black government helicopters that parachuted them there in the first place to destroy the hunting heritage of the Rocky Mountain States. Don’t you know it is all one grand enviro-nut conspiracy to “change” these folks heritage?

        • avatar william huard says:

          According to one of the eloquent Idaho commenters- these wolves are conspiring with the Iranians! You know- I was thinking the same thing myself. Weren’t some of those foreign wolves “talkin to Van Jones bout shuttin down those there hunters livlihoods” and workin with that communist appeaser Obama to take away their weapons and guns… What would we do if we couldn’t kill stuff Elmer? I don’t know Zeke-

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Paul,

      North central Idaho hunters and politicians remember when there was a tremendous elk herd in the Lolo, although it has now been over a generation.

      Idaho Fish and Game also knew that habitat change was going to cause a decline and it happened. They predicted the crash in the 1970s!! I think the department did believe the elk population would come back if the proper habitat manipulation measures were employed, and I think it will too eventually, but the dense mature forest has to be replaced first by new growth of the appropriate age and type, most likely after forest fires. In fact, there have been some pretty big fires in recent years and that leads me to optimism.

      This complicated explanation for low elk numbers (and by “complicated I don’t set a high bar — more than two steps), does not satisfy those hoping for a return of the elk while that are young enough to hunt them. They can’t stand the idea that the elk numbers are habitat limited. If it was predators, and they don’t blame wolves alone, they hope there could be a quick fix.

      In reality wolves have been moving to the west in North Central Idaho to the cutover timber lands where there are more deer.

      Politicians will not allow Idaho Fish and Game to approach this in a rational way. Anyone who does will lose their job.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        Ralph –
        This has been repetitive for some time now, but remains necessary to keep the discussion on track – with the facts. Wolf numbers in the Lolo Zone (and every other management zone in Idaho) are well known with presicion for one tail of their distibution – the minimum. Idaho wolf population estimates are not extrapolations, “guestimates” or modeled estimates. These “estimates” are estimates in the sense that they are verified MINIMUM measurements of the true abundance of wolves in the management area. Verification is from physical, visual observation by trained observers using standardized methods. The methodology was developed by wildlife professionals from the IDFG, USFWS and Nez Perce Tribe wildlife management staff. The persistent speculation of overestimates of wolf numbers is absent any rational explanation for how mis-counting” is occuring. Your (and others) suggestion that the lack of effective removal of wolves by hunters is evidence of lower numbers of wolves is not supported by either contemporary evidence or by what we know about the effeciveness and efficiency of tradional hunting methods in North America – decades of experience in Canada, Alaska and increasingly the NRMR and GLR of the lower 48 states.
        The known minimum number of wolves in the Lolo Zone (BTW, I don’t believe the IDFG has referred to wolf densities in the Lolo Zone or any other wolf mangement zone as – super abundant) juxtaposed against the very low number of wolves harvested/killed/taken by hunters or trappers simply verifies the well established fact that tradional hunting and trapping methods are consistently ineffective and inefficient as methods for wolf population control.

        • avatar Salle says:

          Yeah, so this sounds like an argument to bring on the drones, isn’t it?

          I knew it, just like Beetljuice, say his name enough times and, much to the chagrin of those present, he appears.

          The only transparency that goes on here is that of the failed attempt at agency “spin”.

        • avatar Jay says:

          According to your 2010 annual report, the wolves aren’t being visually counted in the Lolo and Selway:

          “This technique differs slightly than that used since we initiated this estimation method, in that
          this year we use a total count of wolves for those packs where we have a high degree of confidence that we observed all pack members and applying the mean pack size to the remaining packs (with incomplete counts)[i.e., lolo and selway packs], rather than using the mean pack size for all packs.”

          Based on the maps in the report, looks like there are very few packs in those zones that are collared, so how are you coming up with counts for them?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay –
            The 2010 wolf management report and the pop estimates reported therein were prepared by Nez Perce Tribe wildlife biologists during the short period of re-listing status (following the Malloy decision) when Idaho relenquished all wolf management activity. Since the second delisting action and resumption of Idaho management authority, IDFG is again conducting wolf population estimates. I explained this several times in previous threads. The 2010 wolf population estimate is especially conservative because the Nez Perce biologists did not have the time or the resources to conduct aerial surveys of all search areas the IDFG does annually. Large geographical areas including the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and Frank Church Wilderness Areas, which includes the Lolo Zone.
            The number and availability of radio collars is a limitation for wolf pack location and accounting. As you note, some zones like the Lolo Zone have fewer radio collars than we would prefer – for population estimates and other wolf management needs. That limitation only enhances the conservative nature of those estimates – i.e. makes them more likely to UNDER-estimate the true population number. The Lolo Zone wolf population estimate is a minimum, verified estimate, based on visual observations assisted with radio telemetry, as is every other management zone estimate and the total state population estimate.

          • avatar Jay says:

            As you note, some zones like the Lolo Zone have fewer radio collars than we would prefer – for population estimates and other wolf management needs. That limitation only enhances the conservative nature of those estimates – i.e. makes them more likely to UNDER-estimate the true population number.”

            That’s a completely fallacious argument. You might as well say that there’s a lot more elk in the Selway than you can account for because surveys in other others where you’re better able to count elk indicate higher densities in those areas. In other words, you’re saying that there is no possibility that there might be differences in wolf density from good wolf habitat (lots of prey) to poor wolf habitat (low prey densities; i.e., selway and lolo). Its scientifically inappropriate to assume similar densities from obviously dissimilar areas.

          • avatar Salle says:

            So you’re blaming the Nez Perce guys for your inability to validate your pretzelogicspeak? They, supposedly, did the pop count so anyone questioning the official state/party line can blame them if the official claims aren’t valid? No surprise there.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay –
            No – nothing falacious in my response to your question. Having fewer radio collars on wolves in a search area (Lolo Zone for this example) increases the likelihood of having “unmarked” individual wolves and/or wolf packs. Therefor, the likelihood of under-counting wolf packs and the total number of wolves in the search area is greater (enhanced) than if there were more radio collared wolves to assist the process of locating, observing and counting wolves in the search area. Nothing in my response assumed or infered a relationship between wolves, habitat or sightability. Your mistake does highlight an important aspect of these wolf population estimates that you and others don’t seem to understand or accept. The population “estimate” is not based on inferential statistics. It is literally the actual number of wolves that were observed and verified by the biologists conducting the population estimate. That is why …… it is a MINIMUM population estimate. We don’t account for EVERY wolf in the search area (Lolo Zone here). It is a virtual certainty that there are wolves we will miss during the counting process. The conservative nature of these estimates is intentional. Better to base management decisions on a population estimate that errs on the side the side of conservatism – to maintain a safety buffer that favors maintanence of a viable and ….. robust wolf population.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Salle –
            WHAT?? ….. I said – the protocol for counting wolves, producing a wolf population estimate was developed by wildlife professionals from the IDFG, USFWS and Nez Perce Tribe. The 2010 wolf population estimate was compiled and reported by Nez Perce Tribe biologists standing in for IDFG biologists. Because the state decision to not participate in wolf management activities required the Nez Perce biologists to conduct wolf counts on short notice with limited resources, they were unable to fly and count some large geographic areas of the state – Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church Wilderness areas which includes the Lolo Zone. In lieu of an updated count, the 2010 wolf population status report (estimate) for the Lolo Zone was based on the 2009 estimate. No blame to be assigned, just an understandable limitation to ability to fully implement the standard protocol.

          • avatar Jay says:

            Don’t talk down to me like I’m dumb Mark. You are applying the average pack size in areas where you can count wolves, to areas where you don’t have a clue how many there are, because there are not collared packs to observe. Tell me what the average pack size is in the wilderness areas, and what the sample size that average is based on?

            Fact–you are not counting packs in the backcountry, because by your own admission, they aren’t collared. Instead, you substitute average pack size from other areas–areas which very likely have different predator and prey demographics than the Lolo and Selway–to the places you don’t have collared packs. If you can’t recognize that population demographics vary across areas and habitats, and that it’s not appropriate to apply statistics (averages, in this case) from one to the other, than you failed undergrad statistics.

          • avatar Jay says:

            Let me follow up on that Mark–hypothetically speaking, lets say you couldn’t fly surveys in the Selway/Lolo for whatever reason–do you think its appropriate to apply pop. demographics from other elk areas (lets say the Tex Creek elk herd) to make predictions on the elk population in the Selway/Lolo?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay –
            I’m not suggesting you are dumb, nor am I speaking down to you. What is it about direct, verified obesrvations that you don’t understand? We DO NOT use average pack size to base the estimate on. The estimate is based on actual, direct observations of wolves. Another description would be raw counts, NOT extrapolations, NOT applying average observed pack size of other areas to the Lolo Zone. Where did average pack size come from?

            So …… your hypothetical is inappropriate., but IF your analogy applied to Lolo Zone wolf population estimate protocol – it also would be an inappropriate methodology for estimating wolf abundance – anywhere.

          • avatar Jay says:

            Mark, you should read appendix A of the 2010 annual report…actually, here it is cut/pasted to make it easier for you to understand that you do use average pack sizes (after reading, tell me how this statement “It is literally the actual number of wolves that were observed and verified by the biologists” jives with the number of packs that have counts in the Lolo and Selway zones…also found in the annual report) :

            APPENDIX A. POPULATION ESTIMATION TECHNIQUE USED TO DETERMINE WOLF POPULATION NUMBERS IN IDAHO
            From 1996 until 2005, wolf populations were counted using a total count technique that was quite accurate when wolf numbers were low and most had radiocollars. We have, for the past 2 years, used an estimation technique that is more applicable to a larger population which is more difficult to monitor. In 2006 we began using an estimation technique that had been peer reviewed by the University of Idaho and northern Rocky Mountain wolf managers. This technique bypasses the need to count pups in every pack, and instead relies on our documented packs, mean pack size (mean of minimum number of wolves detected for those packs where counts were considered complete), number of wolves documented in small groups not considered packs, and a percentage of the population presumed to be lone wolves.

            This technique differs slightly than that used since we initiated this estimation method, in that this year we use a total count of wolves for those packs where we have a high degree of confidence that we observed all pack members and applying the mean pack size to the remaining packs (with incomplete counts), rather than using the mean pack size for all packs.

            Mathematically this technique is represented as:
            Minimum Wolf Population Estimate = [# Wolves counted in documented packs with complete count + (# Documented packs lacking complete count * mean pack size) +
            (# Wolves in other documented wolf groups of size >2)] * (lone wolf factor) where;
            # Wolves counted in documented packs with complete count = 142
            # Documented packs lacking complete count = 67
            the number of documented packs that were extant at the end of 2010 was 87,
            complete pack size counts were obtained on 20 of them, leaving 67 packs with counts that
            were presumed incomplete,
            Mean pack size = 7.1
            mean pack size (7.1) was calculated using only those packs (n = 20) for which biologists
            presumed complete pack counts were obtained in 2010,
            # Wolves in other documented wolf groups of size >2 = 9
            “total count” for those radiocollared wolves in groups of 2-3 wolves that were not
            considered packs under Idaho’s definition,
            lone wolf factor = 12.5%
            a mid value from a range derived from 5 peer-reviewed studies and 4 non-reviewed papers
            from studies that occurred in North America and were summarized and reported in 2003
            (Mech and Boitani 2003, page 170).
            Using this technique, the 2010 wolf population estimate is 705 wolves and represents a
            decrease of ~19% over 2009’s corrected wolf population estimate:
            ((142 + (67 * 7.1) + (9)) * 1.125
            (142 + (476) + (9)) * 1.125
            (627) * 1.125 = 705

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark Gamblin,

            I was reading over the Nez Perce population count for the Lolo Zone, apparently the actual number of wolves observed.

            I noticed the actual count was 31 animals. Now, how does that justify the large scale operations to try and kill up to 60 wolves in that area? If there are only 31 counted, then you must be extrapolating (guesstimating) a much bigger population. Methinks you are possibly guilty of the “Paradigm Effect,” the screening of data based on a belief or model for doing something that results in not seeing, changing or rationalizing information contrary to what one believes.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Or perhaps, Mark, I could call it “Paradigm Paralysis,” the paralysis that occurs that prevents a person from seeing reality or a different way of doing something. We screen data based on what we believe in order to create support for our beliefs.

          • avatar Jay says:

            “What is it about direct, verified obesrvations that you don’t understand? We DO NOT use average pack size to base the estimate on. The estimate is based on actual, direct observations of wolves.”

            Mark, have you had a chance to read the material I copied from the 2010 wolf report (appendix A)? I’d like to hear your response to using surrogate numbers for uncounted packs.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jay,

            ++You are applying the average pack size in areas where you can count wolves, to areas where you don’t have a clue how many there are, because there are not collared packs to observe.++

            You may be right in your other comment that Mark hasn’t read the Appendix to which you refer regarding the estimation techniques rather than actual counts the last two years.

            However, just to put some perspective on this technique, that is pretty much what they do in parts of the Western Great Lakes, and specifically MN. They have a few collared wolves in parts (primarily Dr. Mech’s), rely heavily on visuals from volunteers and agency types, do some winter flights, run some fancy math in their model, including adjusting average pack size, and extrapolate to come up with their estimates. In their case it is done only every five years. They also do a sensitivity statistical analysis to come up with internal ranges, if I recall correctly.

            You can pretty well bet some folks at IDFG and the Nes Perce have done that sort of exercise as well, with peer reviews of the technique and the results, along with sensitivity analysis regarding the variables. There are probably lots of data on their computers, with fancy little charts and graphs, only some of which we see in the reports.

            Maybe ma’iingan, if he is reading this thread, can shed some light on population techniques in his state of WI.

          • avatar Jay says:

            Well Mark? Nothing? Not even a “I was mistaken”? I would hope you had more integrity than just pretending this conversation never happened?

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jay,

            Just a question, is there an answer that Mark could give you that would satisfy you?

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            How about
            ” Gee, Jay, I do not know what the f@#$ I am talking about. Let me go see if Clem will fill up my water buckets.”

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            As I understand this, Mark Gamblin was making statements that wolf counts were made of actual sightings of real animals. When, in fact, the Nez Perce report says otherwise. The same report, unless I misread it, too, lists 31 wolves for the Lolo that were ACTUALLY counted, and then IDFG wants to kill 60. Obviously, there is a disconnect here, unless they are estimating.

            I think if Mark simply said, “I made an error,” it would be good enough. We all make mistakes, that’s why a little give and take irons out the mistakes. Mark has been giving, but not taking.

          • avatar Jay says:

            +Jay,

            Just a question, is there an answer that Mark could give you that would satisfy you?”

            For starters, a simple acknowledgement admitting it was Mr. Gamblin that doesn’t “understand” (“What is it about direct, verified obesrvations that you don’t understand? We DO NOT use average pack size to base the estimate on. The estimate is based on actual, direct observations of wolves”) would be a good gesture on his part. It really doesn’t speak well to his character if he can’t at least admit that.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay –
            Sorry, I’ve been away and these are important questions than need a full discussion. You are correct, and I was wrong – regarding the use of mean pack size in our population estimate protocol. I did not keep current with changes in the protocol we follow for estimating wolf numbers. I have a responsibility to be on top of all aspects of IDFG programs as a Department spokesperson. I apologize to everyone following this thread for getting this wrong.
            As Appendix A explains clearly, when the search team is unable to verify the size of a particular wolf pack, we use the average statewide size of wolf packs to estimate the contribution of that pack to the total wolf population – for the total state estimate. That mean value for wolf pack size has not been applied to reported pack numbers for individual Zones. The 2010 annual report shows pack numbers as confirmed or incomplete. For the Lolo Zone, there were 7 documented resident packs, 1 documented resident border pack, 1 suspected resident border pack, 1 other documented group of wolves in 2010. At the end of the year one documented resident pack, the suspected resident pack and the other documented group were not considered extant. Additionally, there were 5 documented border wolf packs in Montana.
            Back to the key point of this thread – the accuracy and reliability of the Lolo Zone wolf population estimate(s). We know with certainty that at the end of 2010 there were 6 documented resident wolf packs, 1 documented resident border pack and 5 documented border packs – for the Lolo Zone. At the end of 2010 we know with certainty that there were a MINIMUM of 31 adult wolves and 20 wolf pups in documented Lolo Zone packs. These numbers are verified by multiple aerial counts conducted by trained, professional wildlife biologists.

            So, the suggestion that low harvest/kill/take of wolves is evidence of incorrect reporting of wolf numbers in the Lolo Zone isn’t just unlikely – it is simply incorrect. No only are wolf numbers in the Lolo Zone well established by direct, verified observations ….. the effects of predation on elk by that wolf population – in the Lolo Zone – is also known to be direct and substantial. The Lolo Zone elk population continues to decline by over 11% per year. Wolf predation of adult cow and calf elk is far and away the most important factor driving that population decline.

          • avatar Jay says:

            Thanks Mark, I appreciate the taking ownership for the error your statements on the population estimate.

            Regarding your follow-up, I could be wrong, but I’d suggest you’re probably overcalculating total animals when you say there were 31 adults and 20 pups at the end of the year (i.e., 51 wolves). My interpretation in reading the pack descriptions is that the number of pups was determined from summer surveys, and year-end counts from aerial counts of total wolves observed (which would presumably include both adults and pups). Therefore, the pups would be included in that count of 31.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay –
            Yes, good catch. I said, incorrectly – ” At the end of 2010 we know with certainty that there were a MINIMUM of 31 adult wolves and 20 wolf pups in documented Lolo Zone packs. These numbers are verified by multiple aerial counts conducted by trained, professional wildlife biologists.”
            I should have said…. At the end of 2010 there were a minimum of 31 wolves in documented Lolo Zone resident wolf pacts….”

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            I hope this is in the correct thread. You made this comment:
            “The Lolo Zone elk population continues to decline by over 11% per year. Wolf predation of adult cow and calf elk is far and away the most important factor driving that population decline.”

            I hope IDFG is planning on submitting this data to a peer reviewed journal. Because without out that many of us are skeptical and think that you (being IDFG) is just out for bloodshed against wolves.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          Mark – you do realize what you’re up against here, don’t you?

          Everytime you’ve posted, there’s been a diligence on your part, to make sure your words convey a sense of responsibility on behalf of the the agency you work for, even though that agency has been bullied and roughed up for years, by ranching and hunting interests.

          +I don’t believe the IDFG has referred to wolf densities in the Lolo Zone or any other wolf mangement zone as – super abundant) juxtaposed against the very low number of wolves harvested/killed/taken by hunters or trappers simply verifies the well established fact that tradional hunting and trapping methods are consistently ineffective and inefficient as methods for wolf population control+

          I don’t hunt and I’m not a rancher, but I do live close to wilderness areas and I’m thrilled everytime I see wildlife, big or small, in what’s left of wilderness areas.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Nancy –
            I’m sure you intended to make a point. What is it?

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “Maybe ma’iingan, if he is reading this thread, can shed some light on population techniques in his state of WI.”

            Wisconsin counts every wolf. An army of trained volunteers, with WDNR, USDA-WS, USFS, USFWS, and Tribal agents conduct a winter census.

            Augmented by aerial counts of collared packs, the “minimum” count that results is the most accurate grey wolf census in North America.

            Not a practical method with a population the size of MN, nor on a landscape like the NRM.

        • avatar rick says:

          1. How many wolves are in the Lolo?
          2. “16000 elk in Lolo in 1980 and now only 2000.” “Researchers from the department recently determined wolves are the primary cause of elk mortality in the zone.” How did they do the research? How can wolves be the primary cause when they weren’t even there for half of the years mentioned?

          Note: webmaster corrected a typo in the comment above. RM

          • avatar Savebears says:

            I knew what he meant Ralph, which is why I was being a smart ass! LOL

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Rick,

            Short history of Lolo elk and wolves. Anyone feel free to edit.

            The Lolo elk were at ~ 16,000 8 years prior to wolf reintro. By the time wolves were on the ground, the population was at 12,000. The Winter of 1996/97 dropped the population down to 8,000, with no significant wolf impact.

            Over harvesting of elk continued the slide. From the IDFG states it wasn’t until 2005 that wolf predation on elk began to rise sharply (elk population ~5,000). Wolf predation became a leading cause of elk mortality, but malnutrition was also an important factor during the Winter of 2007-08 (Elk population ~ 3,000).

            Also from IDFG: “Conditions favorable to elk likely peaked 10 – 40 years
            following the fires of 1937, and slowly declined after that. Brush fields slowly grew up and noxious weeds such as spotted knapweed started to become established on winter ranges in these two zones, reducing the quality of the habitat for elk. Not only did food become more limiting for elk during winter, but the extensively overgrown brush fields in calving areas may have allowed predators to be more effective.

            To say that wolves were responsible for the Lolo collapse is simply not true. Are wolves one, and I emphasize one of the factors holding the Lolo elk down? Yes.

  3. avatar Mike says:

    The important thing here Ralph is to define where the myths come from and grow. And in this case, all the anti-wolf baloney comes from hunters and ranchers. It does not come from anywhere else in the country. It is absolutely paramount to define these groups as the starting point of the misinformation, and to work towards correcting it.

    • avatar Mike Post says:

      Mike, I do not disagree with you but you should not discount the centuries of anti-wolf stories that our European forefathers brought with them to this country. Every child in NA has been read the big bad wolf stories based upon an entirely different rabies induced european wolf-human history. This may have a lot of bearing on the big “silent majority” that is sitting this fight out.

  4. one more thing from MT FW&P, while wolves are having a pretty bad day – ranchers will be allowed to invite hunters in to kill wolves accused of depredation on livestock.

    http://helenair.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ranchers-get-ok-to-use-hunters-to-kill-wolves-that/article_948a2b4e-2235-11e1-a695-0019bb2963f4.html

  5. avatar Jeff N. says:

    This is nothing but revenge…..on the wolves, obviously, but also on the people who support wolf recovery. Hate politics at its finest. Don’t try to spin this as wildlife management based on science, Gamblin.

    Thank you Tester, United States Congress, Salazar, and Obama.

  6. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Well, the Montana FWP and the more reflexive reactive rhetorical rubythroated ” sportsmen” have a reputation to live down to …

  7. Wyoming Wolf Biologist Mike Jemanez said in that Oprah article that wolves were: “dumb as a box of rock around humans”. This must mean that the outfitters and wolf hunters are DUMBER than a box of rocks.

    • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

      I remember reading Jimenez’s comments when Wyoming had its brief wolf season a couple of years back, saying they had simply wiped them out of some areas. I suspect some of that is the open terrain in much of Wyoming where the hunting was done, perhaps combined with a level of enthusiasm and pent-up blood-lust that the other states may not have been able to match. A lot of them were tracked down in open terrain on snowmobiles, likely a much less successful strategy in western Montana and northern and central Idaho.

  8. avatar Jeff says:

    Weather made this fall hunt tough for all animals. I seriously doubt many wolves get killed in Jan and Feb mainly due to the cold and the lack of broad appeal of predator hunting. There are a lot of guys who would shoot a wolf while deer and elk hunting, however there aren’t nearly as many guys willing to hunt wolves in the middle of winter in MT, ID or WY.

  9. avatar LiddyARA says:

    When is someone going to step in and stop these idiots? Obviously there aren’t as many wolves as the scare mongers claimed there were. I know someone who has lived in Montana her whole life and has never seen a wolf. She lives in farm country, so you’d think she’d at least see a track? Nope. We’re trusting people who believe in fairy tales to manage these animals, someone needs to stop them before they force the wolf into extinction a second time!

    • avatar JR says:

      Unfortunately, relying on the purely subjective evidence of one MT resident seeing or not seeing wolves (to suggest that there are not as many wolves as otherwise perceived) has just as much of a negative impact on a reasonable and rational discussion as does the exaggerated reports on the other end of the spectrum.

  10. avatar LiddyARA says:

    BTW, we’ve even got idiots shooting peoples dogs out there right now thinking they’re wolves. STOP THIS MADNESS!

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Thank you. This is a real problem. Many people can’t tell a wolf from a dog or a coyote. That is one reason why so many “wolf attack” stories are so suspect (besides the fact that they are never bitten).

      Goings on like the Ravalli County, Montana county commission’s hearing on wolf problems create hysteria.

    • avatar Salle says:

      Most of my friends who live out in the hunt area (like not in town proper) put big red ribbons on their horses’ manes and tails and all the pets – dogs have red bandannas so that idiots don’t shoot them. It seems to help.

    • avatar Mike says:

      Hysteria has taken over Idaho and Montana. Unbelievable. Years and years of hate and misinformation have led to this result.

  11. avatar Vicki S says:

    LiddyARA,
    My thoughts exactly as I read that article.

    Shooting wolves on sight in WY, longer and longer wolf seasons in MT and ID, that goofy Gov. Otter saying something recently about killing wolves like…”we can’t poison ’em…yet…”

    Ralph, realistically, what’s to stop all three states from going to a “shoot on sight” (or worse) policy next year, instead of having limited wolf hunting seasons?

    Some experts say that wolves will just “get smarter” as hunting them intensifies. My question is, what’s really to stop MT, WY and ID from all but eradicating wolves again?

    This is becoming truly disconcerting.

    • avatar Jeff N. says:

      Don’t doubt for a second that when WY can officiall beging shooting wolves on sight in the “predator zone” that ID and MT will not be far behind. The wolf will have varmint status in these 3 states by 2013 at the latest. Montana may attempt some sort of goodwill gesture to protect the packs in and around Glacier. Idaho will do what it can to knock the population down to the threshold of delisting.

      It’s going to be a bloody few years for wolves in these 3 states.

    • avatar Mike says:

      It’s been proven before that the states cannot effectively manage predators.

      This has happened before, and it’s happening again.

    • avatar Oregon Native says:

      You fail to understand that the goal has never been to eradicate wolves, at least not by the states. Wolf tags are a new revenue stream to help prop up falling revenue in other areas, simple as that.

      Many hunters could care less about hunting wolves just as they have no interest in hunting cougar. Others won’t actively hunt wolves but will buy a tag in the event the opportunity arises. The fact is very few hunters will ever see wolves while hunting other wildlife and even fewer who do will find the wolf within range or an opportunity to get a shot.

      What you are seeing is the same as with Coyotes, when the numbers are perceived to impact other interests then the population must be reduced. If normal hunting methods can’t achieve the goal then they take to the air (which has proven very effective in many areas).

      The fact is most of the population thinks the idea of having wolves out there a great idea, but they also are starting to make it clear that it can’t be at the expense of other wildlife. There’s a lot more folks that love all the other species than the few extremists that will do anything to protect wolves. If you want to see wolves survive in these states, you better get on board with the general population that wants all the species out there. It’s not about whether you are right or wrong, it’s about the larger public’s perception of the situation. If you get wolves and other numbers fall drastically then all your wanting won’t protect them from public opinion. The 99% are already tired of the OWS folks who not only don’t represent the 99% but don’t represent their values. Beware or fall into the same trap…

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        “Oregon Native” wrote “You fail to understand that the goal has never been to eradicate wolves, at least not by the states. Wolf tags are a new revenue stream to help prop up falling revenue in other areas, simple as that.’

        This wasn’t addressed to me, but I want to answer. As far as Idaho and Montana go the “new revenue stream” thing just isn’t true. The state legislatures/game commissions made it very clear that wanted lots of wolf hunters and that the price of a tag would be so low that hardly anyone would be deterred by its price. Both states are spending far more on sol-called “wolf management” than they are collecting from tag sales..

  12. avatar Jon Way says:

    Message to Mark G.,
    Some North American model you guys are following. You look like a bunch of flaming rednecks and have lost trust with just about all non hunters in this country. How do you justify that? Absolutely a disgrace to wildlife mgmt…

  13. avatar rtobasco says:

    By reading your responses to this article it would seem that hysteria is not limited to the anti-wolf crowd. I can only offer comment based on my own personal observations as a result of hunting in a couple of drainages on the western edge of the Lolo zone this fall.

    Ralph may be correct when he states that wolves are moving west in North Central Idaho where there are more deer. In recent years I have seen what I would describe as significant amount of wolf sign/tracks, but nothing at all compared to this year. Though I never saw or heard wolves it seemed they were everywhere and in greater numbers than past years. Fresh tracks in the snow where ever we went. Deer numbers still were decent but elk were virtually non-existent in areas where they were once strong.

    I have hunted the Lolo zone since the mid-70’s and am well aware of changes in habitat that have adversely affected elk populations. Fire suppression, along with significantly reduced logging has contributed to reduced carrying capacity. Combine those factors with a msot severe winter in ’96 (I think that was the year) which was close to the time wolves were introduced and you have a one-two punch that sent elk populations reeling.

    I agree with Ralph that fires will hopefully play a big role in oepning some of that country again. As it stands now wolves are literally knocking at the doors of residents in North Central Idaho. Based upon what I observed recently there is a sizeable and growing population (whether it is due to reproduction or wolves coming in from areas where big game populations have been decimated) of wolves in the area. If left unchecked it is quite likely they will cause unprecedented damage to deer populations as well as livestock and, quite possibly pets, in the area. It appears they need to be controlled more effectively. Contrary to what was written earlier – they don’t appear to be “dumber than a box of rocks.” If that were the case kill rates would be higher in both Idaho and Montana.

    • avatar Jeff N. says:

      Bullshit rtbasco. You had me until you threw this nonsense out there.

      “If left unchecked it is quite likely they will cause unprecedented damage to deer population.”

      Just what “damage” do wolves, or any other predator, do to game herds? They hunt and kill to surive. Lets do this…..so if wolves will do unprecendented damage to the deer/elk population, doesn’t your same sentiment have to apply to hunters and poachers? While killing deer/elk… are they also doing “unprecendented” and unnatural damage to the herds. Or maybe in your view only wolves can do unprecendented damage by acting naturally.

      Now do not get me wrong here. I do not hunt but I am not anti-hunting. I have never once made anti-hunting statements on this website.

      But I am getting very tired of wolves being blamed for damaging game herds by killing them for food, while hunters get a pass and poachers get very little blame.

      • avatar WM says:

        Jeff N.,

        Apparently you haven’t been following the reintroduction since its inception. The NRM wolves reintorduced to Yellowstone in 1995 went from 33 wolves to nearly 200 and went thru thousands and thousands of elk (from the late 1980’s fires there) . The herds got knocked way back and the wolf population within the YNP went to less than 100 as the wolves sought food OUTSIDE YNP where the pickings were easier.

        See, that is the problem with some of the strident wolf advocates. They just don’t get the wolf-ungulate population dymanics.

        • WM,

          I think your comments are better directed at Idaho Fish and Game. Units 10 and 12, “the Lolo” has about the same land area as Yellowstone Park. However, the elk habitat is much worse at the present.

          Idaho Fish and Game has wanted to kill 50-60 wolves there for years now. If things changed so much in Yellowstone Park and they have in other places too, how is it that the wolves in Lolo are stuck there as with superglue, apparently living on moss when they can’t get one of the rare elk?

          I wish we really had a wolf/bear/elk/deer/hunter harvest chart of numbers in the Lolo. Of course we don’t.

          • avatar WM says:

            If I remember correctly, Ralph, the 10A unit immediately to the west of the Lolo had its wolf harvest quota met in the first two weeks or so of the 2009 season. So, you may be right they are moving west out of the Lolo if there are few elk there now. In either case, it is a reasonable and scientifically defensible conclusion to say they go where the food base is more dense and less wary. And, as we know, they can have large territories, making a circuit returning to a place they have been before after the elk/deer may become less wary once again.

          • avatar WM says:

            And, yes, I do mean the ID Lolo, Units 10 and 12.

          • avatar Salle says:

            All the same, I found this in the Denver Post:

            State to target wolves in Idaho’s Lolo region

            http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/ID_LOLO_WOLVES_IDOL-?SITE=CODEN&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

            Which shows that IDF$G think there are wolves where there probably aren’t any. But the yocals sez there is so they’re out to get ’em… send in the sheriff. If the quota was met early, it would seem that these so-called hunters must have “hunted out” that area. I don’t there have been many, if any, long term residencies of wolf packs there due to the lack of elk – which came long before the wolves came back to the general tri-state region.

            I think this is all about emotional politics with regard to the fear-mongering and a “now’s our chance to get ’em/show ’em…” Facts are the secondary casualty here, after the wolves, of course.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            @ Salle,
            An interesting little tidbit from the article you posted “…State wildlife managers had hoped to remove up to 60 wolves this season from the area,…”
            (Meaning the LOLO zone and the Selway Zone).
            So first there are no published quotas for those zones, and second it has been repeated ad nauseam on this blog by the state water carrier that there are no hard and fast numbers for this highly dynamic situation(OWTTE), but yet here in a Colorado newspaper we have a hard number.
            Hmmmmmm.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            ++State wildlife managers had hoped to remove up to 60 wolves this season from the area, which has seen its elk numbers decline from a high of about 16,000 in the late 1980s to about 2,000 today.

            The steep drop has been blamed on a combination of poor habitat conditions and predation from wolves, mountain lions and black bears. Researchers from the department recently determined wolves are the primary cause of elk mortality in the zone.++

            Problem with this statement is that even via IDFG, wolves had no significant impact on elk in Lolo until 2005. Statement makes it look like wolves were responsible for the big drop. No mention of the Winter of “96”, and of the over harvesting that did occur.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            WM,

            So we can assume that if some alfalfa farmer was complaining of too many elk feeding on his crops than you would have no problem with the state agency bringing out the choppers and big guns and blasting away at the elk responsible for the crop damage? Come on don’t bs me.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jeff N,

            ++So we can assume that if some alfalfa farmer was complaining of too many elk feeding on his crops than you would have no problem with the state agency bringing out the choppers and big guns and blasting away at the elk responsible for the crop damage? Come on don’t bs me.++

            To my knowledge, there obviously would not be a response that ridiculous scenario, Jeff. I do bet a bunch of deer disappear if they are in some farmer’s winter wheat field (across the entire country). Whether it is done by a wildlife agency or the farmer is the question.

            But, in fact, problem elk have been removed lethally or relocated when they have become troublesome. Happens, usually in winter, but can at other times of year too. Two examples: Elk in Eastern WA orchards destroying fruit trees in winter, with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars (some killed in special hunts, others at the hands of pissed off fruit farmers – who were later prosecuted, and even others dispatched by state wildlife officials). Elk in gardens around Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula (removed and given over to the care of the Quilliyute Indians. Problem elk have been removed lethally in other locations. Sometimes elk (or mountain goats)are lethally removed by government hunters. Two more examples: goats in Olympic NP; elk in Rocky Mountain NP; deer in lots of areas, like the Air Force Acadamy in Colorado Springs; Boeing facility in Tenn; gators at the Kennedy Space Center, if I recall correctly. As for helicopters and “big guns,” (I am not sure what you mean by that), I think the same type of firearms are used in most of these instances, a shot gun or a high powered rifle of the same ga/caliber as hunters use. And, no I really don’t have a problem with these types of apparently necessary control actions. Do I like it, no, but I understand it is necessary in some instances.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            WM,

            You say: “But, in fact, problem elk have been removed lethally or relocated when they have become troublesome. Happens, usually in winter, but can at other times of year too. Two examples: Elk in Eastern WA orchards destroying fruit trees in winter, with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars (some killed in special hunts, others at the hands of pissed off fruit farmers – who were later prosecuted, and even others dispatched by state wildlife officials). Elk in gardens around Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula (removed and given over to the care of the Quilliyute Indians. Problem elk have been removed lethally in other locations.”

            Fair enough. These elk were doing damage to private property so they were removed. Wolves depredating on livestock are removed.

            Wolves preying on elk are not doing any type of damage. So then what is the purpose of IDGF bringing in helicopters to kill wolves? Certainly the wolves being targeted aren’t all cattle killers. Idaho has a long wolf hunting season with no set quota, so they really can’t base the reason for using the helicopter’s in order to reach a quota when there isn’t one.

            It is simply a tool for killing as many wolves as possible with absolutely no scientific merit. As an educated person you can justify/defend this.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          WM,

          I would say that you apparently haven’t been following the reintroduction since its inception.

          The wolves are doing exactly what they were supposed to do when they were reintrouduced….reduce the elk population…..dumb ass.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jeff N.,

            ++The wolves are doing exactly what they were supposed to do when they were reintroduced….reduce the elk population…..dumb ass++

            Well, uh… ok, Jeff. I know that was a motive to do one reintroduction in YNP (and the other in N Central ID which didn’t have such an elk problem), and the very rationale for it. The problem is, they went through most of (surplus?) the elk in the Park, and then started looking for more outside the Park, while their numbers within the Park diminished with a start of 33 > peaking at 200+ in the Park > then down to about 97 now (and let’s remember a wolf will eat between 12-23 ungulates between Nov. and April, and then there is the rest of the year they get even more).

            So, if I understand wildlife biology pretty well, which I do, they continued to expand their numbers and range, which kind of takes us to the stage of wolf management that we are at today, along with what the FWS (and now Congress by the rider bill) says the ESA requires.

            If I am not mistaken, ID, MT,or even WY (outside YNP and the GYE) have not been complaining about having too many elk and needing help from wolves to manage them, and seem to have been doing fairly well without. The challenge has been to manage elk IN THE PRESENCE of wolves, and an apparent need to reduce wolf numbers.

            Even the 1994 EIS for the NRM non-essential experimental wolf reintroduction recognized that, and gave “flexibility” assurances states could deal with the issue if wolves took to many elk. Then there are the regulations under Section 10(j) of the ESA which give them the details of how to go about that, even while wolves were ESA listed.

            So, bone up on your knowledge of the issue,…dumb ass.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Jeff N. and WM,

            I don’t think it was clear what wolves would do. It was in part an experiment, and a great deal of data has been collected now and much has been learned. I like watching what happens because I don’t know all the answers in advance.

            I was sure the wolves would change elk behavior, but I didn’t know about their numbers. Wolves clearly have changed elk behavior, and I think that is a good thing, but this is a value question. I like wildlife to be wild, and wolves made them wilder. Recall Ripple’s research on the creation of a “landscape of fear[ful]” elk. Some people would be happy with the opposite, and, in fact, they kill domestic elk at game farms and seem to feel no shame when they say they went “hunting”.

            I think it is clear that in some places wolves have tipped herds of elk into population declines, but in almost every case, it was because their take of elk was additive to other predators already there including human hunters.

            Yellowstone Park’s northern range is a classic example. This range is not really all inside the national park. Much of it is to the north and the elk winter outside, and it was heavily hunted. Still the elk numbers remained high, but the herd was also preyed on by grizzly bears, black bears, cougar, and coyotes. They even saw an elk taken by a wolverine.

            As the wolf population grew, it probably overshot as WM seems to be saying, but Montana FWP complicates this conclusion because they did not reduce the number of elk allowed to be killed in the late elk hunt for a long time. This was many thousands of elk taken out of an area with 4 elk predators and a fifth one added. We can say they are as much to blame for failure to react as the wolves, but then is a northern range herd of 5000 instead of 12-20,000 a bad thing? That is another value question.

            Folks should realize that you can’t generalize broadly from Yellowstone Park. Where else are there so many elk predators?

            Even so why is Wyoming Game and Fish still trying to reduce the elk numbers in most of its hunting units? I guess some folks missed the many articles we put up how all the Wyoming elk units were (and still are) “over Wyoming Game and Fish objective” even after years of wolf predation. There were a few units where their status in relation to Game and Fish objectives were and are unknown.

          • avatar WM says:

            Salle,

            Jeff N has actually been kind of rude (as Immer points out), and when someone makes the kind of unsubstantiated wild-ass statements he does, they are worthy of challenge on alot of fronts, especially on this forum with so many sarcastic, highly opinionated, don’t believe the government types in the mix. Then there is the gullibility factor which seems to build when some of the more opinionated types start to frenzy feed on each other’s lack of factual knowledge and flawed reasoning skills, and then pass it on, where it re-appears in the words of yet another low reasoning skill commenter (Don’t get me going on that one).

            And, since you asked the question directly, I will answer. I don’t tend flaunt credentials, but I have provided them on this forum over time as issues have come up. I have a master of science degree in natural resources and a juris doctorate law degree (both from very good schools in the West, where I have lived, worked, hiked, hunted and fished most of my childhood and adult life). And, specific to wolves, I have been studying them as an avocation for quite some time now, and had conversations and exchanged writings with lots of professionals and scientists in the field, including both NRM and WGL wolf populations, and the continuing research on them.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            Immer,

            You are entitled to your opinion and I respect that, but I will not respect someone who intially minimizes my “understanding of the reintroduction since it’s inception”.

            Don’t expect me to roll over and let this type of comment go unanswered without the same intent it was applied toward me. I’ve learned that fighting fire with fire is the best tactic in these situations. Being passive has gotten us where we are today. No thanks.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Jeff N.

            I am not passive about wolf issues at all. Lashing out at someone who measures and supports what they write, however, is no way to support your point, especially when in error.

            One thing we have to remember is that we are all more or less on the same side. But at times we are going to disagree. Keep it at disagreement rather than eating, metaphorically, OUR own young. Sometimes it’s easier to “tangle” with someone who we might feel a bit more comfortable with, rather than a true antagonist.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jeff N,

            Perhaps you will be taken more seriously by some of us here, if you stick to the facts, document your sources and articulate your position with some good reasoning, and a few less exclamatory phrases and name calling. Now, if we revisit your assertion that the wolves were brought in to the NRM to deal with too many elk, do you agree or disagree that this rationale was exclusive to the YNP situation and to specifically make an attempt to do the reintroduction as an “experiment” on wolf recovery (pursuant to the 1987 reintroduction plan and the 1994 EIS) or not? And, if you care to, explain why you agree or disagree.

            Otherwise, I’ll stand by my previous comments that you have, in effect, a limited understanding of wolf-ungulate interactions, and the issue surrounding the states’ desires and right to control their numbers.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            Immer,

            Don’t think I was in error…unless you feel that IDGF is managing wolves like the rest of the state’s big game by blasting away from helicopters to meet some “undetermined” population objective. Ya know what I mean?

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            WM,

            I’ll play along. I will agree that wolves were brought to YNP to primarilly cull the overabundant elk population, primarily on the norhtern range. Regarding ID and MT…prior to wolf reintroduction these states were and are currently above or at the population objective for statewide elk numbers. So yes, I stand by my statement that wolves were brought in to reduce elk numbers in the NRM.

            Now WM..if in fact the credentials you claim to have are true..congrats. But, you, as a self proclaimed expert on wolf – ungulate interactions must have conveniently missed the latest data that wolves have not decimated the elk in the NRM. They are just one factor in the population decline….and that decline may actually be the overall objective.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Jeff N.

            We are on the same side in terms of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming wolf policies. Your error was the comment you made about the mode in which someone hunted elk. That was my original point, and only point.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jeff N,

            The credentials are true. Ralph will verify, if you wish.

            I don’t claim to be an expert on wolves, just an interested person with a natural resource/wildlife science background who reads the scientific literature, makes inquiries and tries to pass on the information, sometimes with an opinion, and with documentation if I can find it. I do know a bit more about law and the ESA.

            There was a literature review done by Ken Hamblin of MT GFP and about two years ago about wolf – ungulate interactions, which I commend to your reading. The Exec. Summary will do.

            Hamlin, K. L. and J. A. Cunningham. 2009. Monitoring and assessment of wolf-ungulate interactions and population trends within the Greater Yellowstone Area, southwestern Montana, and Montana statewide: Final Report. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Wildlife Division, Helena, Montana, USA.

            http://www.wolfandwildlifestudies.com/downloads/huntingpaper/elkwolfinteractions.pdf

            The interesting thing is that they were analyzing data that was as much as five years earlier, before the wolf population increased by nearly double in MT. So, it is no great wonder they reached the tentative conclusions they did in certain parts of the state, but they still recorded substantial impacts of wolves on ungulates, and even greater than hunting in some units.[By the way, I didn’t see any comment or reference in there that they needed help from wolves to manage their elk/deer herds]

            Today, MT has taken a more pragmatic view, and figured they needed to short-cut this time lag on gathering data and synthesizing it in a scholarly way, because they can see the impacts in real time. I don’t know whether they have formally updated that report.

            And, as for game management units being at or “over objective,” that can be adjusted quickly with a change in the harvest prescription in just a year or two, by keeping a season open a little longer, and adjusting what is harvested by hunters (sex, antlered age group/point restrictions). On the other hand predators like wolves moving through and procreating, a bad or early winter, late spring etc., can change that “over objective,” dramatically maybe in a year. Again, one conclusion is that wolves have taken more elk than hunters in a few units during the course of one year’s time, if I recall. When that kind of impact occurs, it takes several years to climb back to that level, if at all, assuming no other factors are to blame or intercede during the recovery period.

            If you were to ask FWS who performed the wolf reintroduction under the ESA, as well ID, MT and WY, I bet you a beer they would unanamously disagree with your statement wolves were brought in to control elk numbers for any area outside YNP/GYE. And, the history seems pretty clear all three states were not particularly enthusiastic about getting them. And, I am pretty certain many areas of the respective states were not at a point in 1995 (year of wolf reintroduction) where they felt their state elk totals and maybe even most areas within areas of the state were “above objectives” to the point they wanted/needed wolves to reduce elk (or deer) populations. Your statement is simply nonsense – unless, of course, you would like to provide written documentation from an authoritative source that supports your view. I’ll buy you the beer, then.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          WM,

          I don’t have a problem with wolf management via fair chase hunt, but state sponsored slaughter thru the use of helicopters and gunners is barbaric and flies in the face of sound scientific wildlife management. It’s indefensible and you know this.

          • avatar JR says:

            The usage of the “Air Gunning” of the wolves in Lolo as a management tool of IDFG seems to be a hot button issue for many folks. I’ve even heard it said by some that hunting the wolves as a means of control is fine, but the “Air Gunning” has crossed the line. What is the heart of your distaste for this particular management tool? If in fact, hunters aren’t having the success in relation to actual pack numbers that was otherwise anticipated, what other means of control would those opposed to the air gunning advocate instead? I have heard the arguments that if in fact the elk populations have dipped so low in Lolo as they have been cited by F&G, then why in fact would the wolf populations have themselves taken up such a sufficient base there… A sound argument I would agree, but lacking I feel. 2000 elk are a sufficient number of course to more than sustain the proposed pack in my layman’s point of view, even at the extreme numbers, but what is not equally noted is that these wolves, unlike the elk they plunder, are not limited to one small geographic area. If one day they find success in Lolo, the next days or weeks they might find success a hundred miles away, and then return the week after that. If in the naysayers of the air gunning the wolves in Lolo do agree that the elk there are in dire straits, due to the variety of influences that have been mentioned, then would it not be in the best interest to limit the number of wolves that would call that area home either for some time or all the time? Which animal is in greater need of protection in that microcosmic scenario? The wolf or the elk? Arguably the wolves have exceeded pack numbers originally proposed, so their advance in numbers seems to be a given, but the elk on the other hand, at the fault of the wolves, or some other factor, are suffering. Who is to fight on their behalf? Wouldn’t the same factors that have limited their populations in that Lolo area, equally be a factor in creating weakness within those elk populations that the wolves will use to their advantage? Then on the other side of that argument, if honestly you don’t believe that the wolf numbers are there, which in turn means you don’t believe them to be a threat to the elk populations there, then what problem do you have with F&G going in there with their intention to air-gun 20, 30, or even 60 wolves, only to find out there aren’t any to air gun after all. If in fact F&G goes in and finds the 60 wolves to shoot, then they are in fact validated in their pretense that the wolves were there in a significant enough population to further encumber the elk herds, but if in fact as you say there aren’t that many wolves there anyways, then what harm is there in them going in and proving you right? Either way, it doesn’t hurt you if they go in to air gun; as on the one hand, Im sure you would admit that the air gunning was indeed necessary (unless you have a better or more cost effective idea of controlling the wolf populations if necessary) if they do indeed find that many wolves in the vicinity of a struggling elk herd (unless you are pitiless to the plight of the elk) and on the other, your current point of view is validated.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            One solution would be for IDFG to better train hunters in the skills necessary to hunt wolves. I suppose, although I know of no data to support this – it’s my own guess, is that the majority of hunters who purchase wolf tags are primarily out looking for elk and deer and want a tag to fill if they happen upon a wolf. It’s perhaps not a priority with them, and with a number of hunters, not a priority at all. With time, hunters will become more proficient. But that is part of the problem. With the political situation in Idaho, IDFG doesn’t have several years to reduce wolf numbers gradually. There is a perception of panic and the politicians want it done immediately in one season.

            A far as the Lolo area, I believe that in conjunction with reducing wolf numbers,IDFG should place a moratorium on human elk hunting until the herds are rebuilt to a level they find satisfactory, however long it takes. Human hunters, even easier than wolves, can take their hunting elsewhere. I think we should do everything possible to help these elk, that the elk should be the priority over hunter convenience. If the range re-growth makes this herd regeneration impossible, IDFG will find this out and the question will be settled regarding that issue.

            Where I take issue with wolf reduction efforts in the Lolo is that IDFG does not know with any reliability the actual number of wolves present. If they killed 60, and they might, that could indicate that they were right about numbers, but it could also mean they killed the vast majority of wolves present. They tried aerial-gunning already, but with poor results vs. the financial cost of the operation. Some argued that it was an indicator that there are not as many wolves as thought, but IDFG maintained it was because of the timing, which made wolves hard to find. Both positions have the possibility of taking data to support their preconceived beliefs, although one is probably correct. My point here, is that I believe IDFG is making big decisions without knowing the real wolf situation.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Jeff N.,

          I’m sure WM can and will speak to this point, but allow me to say your comment is both rude, and I’ll venture to say highly inaccurate

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            WM,

            You say:

            ++++If you were to ask FWS who performed the wolf reintroduction under the ESA, as well ID, MT and WY, I bet you a beer they would unanamously disagree with your statement wolves were brought in to control elk numbers for any area outside YNP/GYE.+++++

            OK, I guess in layman’s terms, the official reason for reintroducing wolves to areas outside the GYE would be to: Recover an endangered species to its historic range which in turn would provide restoration and balance to an ecosystem missing an apex predator.

            What could they have meant by this? Is it a stretch to state that part of restoring balance to an ecosystem by reintroducing an apex predator would involve the reduction in ungulate (elk) numbers…. Come on, with your credentials you know this. Don’t split hairs here.

            We both agree that ID, MT, or WY didn’t want wolves in the first place, so outside of Yellowstone, I don’t think selling the reintroduction as a way to control the ungulate (elk) population would have made the process any easier.

            We do know that the elk population in ID has been reduced due to wolf predation along with other factors. But it hasn’t been decimated by wolves as Rtobasco states, you know this also.

            I’m well aware of predator/prey population dynamics and the hysteria coming from the strident anti-wolf side “wolves literally at the door” is a laughable.

        • avatar WM says:

          Actually, Jeff, I don’t road hunt and consequently have never shot an elk near a road. On the other hand, I have shot elk on old logging grades, many of which which have not been used in many years and are so grown over with alder in spots even the ATV riders can’t get through. These old grades, now are pretty decent trails for wildlife, with the occasional open spot and grasses, forbes and browse plants. They are the same ones these days where I see alot of wolf poop, because they like to use them for travel and hunting. We used to see elk on these trails, but do not any more. They are mostly in the brush avoiding the wolves.

          ———–
          ++…..state sponsored slaughter thru the use of helicopters and gunners is barbaric and flies in the face of sound scientific wildlife management. It’s indefensible and you know this.++

          As for the state’s management responsiblity (and do recall it is the state’s wildlife – all of it if its not on some federal list like the ESA), I guess the rules of “fair chase” are not really relevant, since a state is charged with doing things in a manner not inconsistent with federal law. They can pretty much do what they feel is effective and maybe even a least cost approach. But there are limits. For example, they cannot use helicopters in Wilderness unless permission is granted by the USFS under a special use permit, which is kind of a laborious process. We know from this forum the issues of getting permission get fair hearing(after litigation on the Frank Church Wilderness by groups like Western Watersheds of which Ralph is a board member).

          And, of course, we do know federal law allows the use of helicopters, because Wildlife Services in USDA has been doing it for, what something like 10 years. Maybe they will continue to do some of this work for wolves bothering livestock, if there is funding.

          One last question, Jeff, what are your educational and/or work experience credentials to weigh in on the issue of an make a conclusion that helcopter use by a wildlife agency is indefensible as “sound wildlife management,” as you suggest above?

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            WM,

            Just got around to your answering your question(s).

            So you say this:

            ++++”And, of course, we do know federal law allows the use of helicopters, because Wildlife Services in USDA has been doing it for, what something like 10 years. Maybe they will continue to do some of this work for wolves bothering livestock, if there is funding.

            One last question, Jeff, what are your educational and/or work experience credentials to weigh in on the issue of an make a conclusion that helcopter use by a wildlife agency is indefensible as “sound wildlife management,” as you suggest above?+++

            I would agree that using helicopters to eliminate wolves that repeatedly prey on livestock is an alternative. But you know as well as I do that we are not talking about the use of helicopters in this circumstance. As I commented and the questioned you in another thread, IDGF is considering using helicopters and gunners to reach a population objective because hunters couldn’t do the job. This has nothing to do with livestock depredation so your point is irrelevant. As I stated in a previous post, IDGF has put no quota on the number wolves “harvested” during the hunting season. There is no magic number to reach. So why do they feel they need to kill more wolves from helicopters? You and I both know the answer and any rational person would see that this is simply a solution to kill as many wolves as possible. And any rational person would agree that this is not sound wildlife management…you simply cannot call it wildlife management and be taken seriously. It’s indefensible and a farce.

            As far as my credentials are concerned, none of your business. I do not need to come on this site and flaunt my education and career choice in order to inflate my ego or to have some self preceived edge over someone else. I have a right to comment on any topic as much as anybody regardless of my education and career choice.

            You also claim that I was being rude by calling you a dumb a%% and I will accept this. But be clear that it was in response to your condescending comments:

            “Apparently you haven’t been following the reintroduction since its inception.”

            “See, that is the problem with some of the strident wolf advocates. They just don’t get the wolf-ungulate population dymanics”

            So I suggest that before you label someone as being rude, you may want to look in the mirror.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jeff N.,

            ++As far as my credentials are concerned, none of your business. I do not need to come on this site and flaunt my education and career choice…++

            For the record, Jeff, there are a number of folks who have shared their backgrounds on this forum as dialog has continued on complex topics. I can probably rattle off a couple dozen without much effort, who have given their work/life experience and/or academic background. It has nothing to do with ego, but rather knowing where someone is coming from with an opinion or sharing verifiable information.

            Some of the most irrational opinions and ridiculous assertions of unverifiable “facts” (and they do assert them as “facts”)expressed here come from those who have the least experience/formal subject training on the topic.

            Opinions are fine, and this is surely the place to express them. But, a couple of statements you made above (apparently of facts you could not support)were preciesely the reason I challenged you. You should expect that.

            And by the way, have you read the 1994 EIS on NRM wolf recovery, or the link to the wolf-ungulate study by Ken Hamblin at MT GFP above that I provided?

            When you do, you may have a better understanding of the ground rules of the wolf reintroduction/recovery and the perceived “damage” a growing wolf population and wider range is having on ungulate populations. Few thought there would be this many, this soon, and get in so much trouble or have so much impact on ungulates at this scale.

            And, in closing I am bit perplexed why you find the following comment rude, because it takes us full circle as to why I challenged you.

            “Apparently you haven’t been following the reintroduction since its inception.”

            “See, that is the problem with some of the strident wolf advocates. They just don’t get the wolf-ungulate population dymanics”

            And, I should add this, “….which is one focus of the wildlife agency’s desire to control numbers and range of wolves in their respective states (the others being perceived effects on livestock and disdain for the federal government telling states if they do certain things wolves will be delisted, followed by broken promises).”

        • avatar Salle says:

          WM,

          It only takes one phone call from the states’ agencies to bring on the WS hit-squad and you know it. The state calls on the federal agency to do its bidding on that and WS is way too happy to oblige. This has been the standardized, government sanctioned (both state and fed) method of mass wolf killing in the western US for over two decades now.

          As for helicopters to supposedly “take inventory” of wolf pops in the Frank Church, Idaho would have had a blank check with little to no oversight in that endeavor if WWP and others had not contested it in the courts. And that would have begun the argument that they could do it whenever they chose because they were allowed to do it before with no argument. This is the general, logical, cyclical argument process usually employed by Idaho’s agencies.

          And by what authority (other than self aggrandizing condescension) do you feel you have the right to ask someone their credentials when you offer none of your own to dispel doubt? What is this, an inquisition of those who might have a different take on things than you?

          Jeff has a valid point and is, by the way, correct in his suggestion concerning helicopter use by WS and complicit agencies to harm wolves being indefensible… it is. The only management tools they use anymore are lethal to the wolves, and they prefer to use helicopters and whatever gives them the greatest advantage in thrill killing on the job – at taxpayer expense.

        • avatar WM says:

          Sorry, Salle, I posted my response above in another sub-thread. Maybe Ralph will be kind enough to remove that one, since I am reposting it here.

          Salle,

          Jeff N has actually been kind of rude (as Immer points out), and when someone makes the kind of unsubstantiated wild-ass statements he does, they are worthy of challenge on alot of fronts, especially on this forum with so many sarcastic, highly opinionated, don’t believe the government types in the mix. Then there is the gullibility factor which seems to build when some of the more opinionated types start to frenzy feed on each other’s lack of factual knowledge and flawed reasoning skills, and then pass it on, where it re-appears in the words of yet another low reasoning skill commenter (Don’t get me going on that one).

          And, since you asked the question directly, I will answer. I don’t tend flaunt credentials, but I have provided them on this forum over time as issues have come up. I have a master of science degree in natural resources and a juris doctorate law degree (both from very good schools in the West, where I have lived, worked, hiked, hunted and fished most of my childhood and adult life). And, specific to wolves, I have been studying them as an avocation for quite some time now, and had conversations and exchanged writings with lots of professionals and scientists in the field, including both NRM and WGL wolf populations, and the continuing research on them.

        • avatar Salle says:

          And given your guestimation of the “way it is” you don’t either, WM.

          This part is very confusing, perhaps you could elaborate…?

          The NRM wolves reintorduced to Yellowstone in 1995 went from 33 wolves to nearly 200 and went thru thousands and thousands of elk (from the late 1980′s fires there) .

          And this is the part where I doubt your credibility:

          The herds got knocked way back and the wolf population within the YNP went to less than 100 as the wolves sought food OUTSIDE YNP where the pickings were easier.

          According to the studies I read and followed from the YNP wolf project, I think that there were a number or causes for the rapid decline in wolf numbers inside the park following reintroduction. As I understand it the park had way too many elk. Wolves were considered a wise reintroduction, not just for the sake of reducing elk in the short term but to complete an ecosystem lacking a major component that was, at the time also an endangered species. They weren’t able to repopulate any of their historic range due to the same social misconceptions we see today. The ESA requires some remedial action, not just putting species on a list.

          So the wolves were put back into the park and they started eating some of the over abundance of elk and reducing the over abundance of coyotes and helped restore riparian areas that benefit most of the other species whether directly or indirectly.

          Because they started out with a lot of elk to eat, the wolves increased rapidly in response to an abundance of food. (People do the same thing.) As the elk number lessened, so did the wolves. Some were killed off by other wolves, many died of mange, parvo virus, and distemper… (not every pack reproduces every year either) and a few dispersed outside the park entirely though some crossed the park boundaries regularly – many of whom were killed during the hunting seasons. (It seems that the hunting units along the park boundaries are those for which the quotas are filled first.) It’s not like they ran out of food and decided to go marauding about looking for something to kill like some massive army out on a binge.

          Nature does a fine job on its own, we humans are not smart enough to know how to manage the natural world and should stop wasting so much time, energy and resources trying to control something that we cannot control without destroying it entirely.

          You discredit yourself by making such a simpleton’s summary of what happened regarding the decline of the wolf population of YNP.

          The whole problem is a social problem, not a biological problem. And a social problem is created for, by and against humans, though we seem to like to take it out on other species with impunity.

          • avatar WM says:

            Salle,

            I had no intent of “making a simpleton’s summary of what happened regarding the decline of the wolf population of YNP.” You broadened the topic way beyond what my cryptic comments in response to Jeff’s rather bold (and inaccurate as applied to ID) assertion that wolves were brought to remove surplus elk there. I appreciate the complexity of the reintroduction of wolves to YNP, and nobody has a full explanation of what is going on. The research can only tell us some of what has happened, mostly in little segments as time passes. It’s an experiment, right? I have no intent to oversimplify the dynamics of it, including the sources of mortality and other factors which have governed the net increase and dispersal of wolves out of the Park. The fact is YNP reintroduced wolves are a source of wolves outside the Park and they are having impacts on elk/deer populations in some places where they have gone, and those impacts are not particularly well received by the states in their overall comprehensive wildlife management responsibilities.

            I will stick with the general concept that YNP wolves ate their way through the easy elk pickings in the Park, migrated out (some back in, some died off of various causes as you point out), and they and their progeny constitute a material number of those which are widely dispersing. That is where state wildlife management comes in now that they are off the ESA.

            And, I do agree the wolf thing is a social problem, but then much of what occurs on earth, is at its roots a social problem if it involves humans with different values and socio-economic/political interests. The constant challenge is how to accomodate those differences. And, whether you or I like it or not, the world is a human managed environment, and will continue to be so, for better or for worse.

          • avatar JR says:

            Salle,

            You are right on the money when you state that the whole problem is a social problem not a biological one, if we humans weren’t here eating up the natural habitat of the wolves and the elk combined, then there wouldn’t be a need for this argument. But to suggest as you did that the best management policy would be to effectively just leave the poor critters all alone and get out of the way, there you show your ignorance of the issue. If in fact, we as human beings were not in the equation, ie not in the area impacting the land, taking up winter range, building wind farms, etc, then yes, I would agree that the animals and nature would in fact do just fine in finding its own equilibrium. But the second you input humans into the equation, then you immediately input the necessity for wise management. F&G has to manage the elk herds because people are living where the herds would otherwise winter. F&G has to manage the elk herds because some people choose to exercise their right to hunt the animals. F&G has to manage the wolves because unchecked, they would have a negative impact on elk herds (due to the fact that the herds are diminished in their ranging capabilities, which would have aided them in their ability to escape the wolves in the era of yesteryears) and un checked, the frequency of human to wolf interactions would continue to increase. Unchecked, how long would it take for wolf populations to get out of control, then with the elk populations decimated they then enter our towns and communities in search of more ready food sources? Unfortunately for the plight of the elk, they are much less adaptable to immediate change in their environment than is a wolf in my opinion. A wolf can quietly scavenge food out of trash can in an era of want, where an elk in its timid prey mentality might stray as close as to nibble at a farmers haystack, but likely to its own demise. Wolves also seem to have the advantage with their wide ranging capabilities, and if one source of food does not satisfy their needs, then they are capable of moving onto the next source. Elk on the other hand seem to be very set in their ways, and will get “stuck” in areas of excessively hard winters, where they will literally starve to death when it would seem rational in our minds to just find greener pastures. This is certainly an advantage for the wolves, and a disadvantage for the elk, and one that has likely resulted from general loss of habitat over generations, but one that need not be exacerbated by unmanaged wolf populations being allowed to make things even worse for the ungulates.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            JR,

            A thoughtful reply to Salle, but I didn’t care for your comment: “…there you show your ignorance of the issue.”

            Most people don’t seem to like being told they are ignorant, or stupid, or similar terms. Your comments have been thoughtful, so don’t spoil them by stooping to such terms. One can make a point better, in my opinion, by being tactful when trying to convince those who think differently..

          • avatar JR says:

            IDhiker and Salle,
            My apologies for pointing the “ignorant” comment to a person, when in fact it is better aimed at the argument. My frustration with the idea or argument of “live and let live” is that it is in essence ignorant of some inarguable facts, and represents to me an argumentative style that is dangerous to a rational discussion. If one is to strip away all the fluff and look at the core facts of this particular argument, at its core is the simple fact; “wolves were here before humans” that is a fact, indisputable. Then the argument adds; “wolves were here before humans, so therefore they have a right to be here” Now, this part of the argument is not completely fact, but is based largely in opinion. One can argue its merits based on ethical conjecture, but one could also equally argue against it with just as much fervor. Then the argument continues; “wolves were here before humans, so therefore they have a right to be here, and therefore we should just let them be (implying that they are to be left to roam unmanaged in their pre-human state)” This is where the argument takes a turn for the ignorant (meaning lack of knowledge of a factual basis) To suggest that wolves should be left unattended based on the preceding opinion and preceding fact, sounds good to an uneducated eye or ear, but is dangerous because it draws emotion from the reader and causes opinions to be created on something other than fact or fiction. The fiction of this particular part of the argument is simply that things have changed since humans were introduced into the balance of that equation. To expect things to go back to the way they were even though hundreds of thousands of humans now occupy the same space is an argument based in ignorance and not in fact. Unless you had a magic wand to wave and make all the environmental impacts of the last 200 years disappear, and make all the humans disappear, it can never, (by simple logic) go back exactly to the way it was before. To suggest that we let the wolves roam unimpeded, unregulated, and unmanaged (live and let live) is to suggest in defiance of logic that we expect things to go back to the equilibrium of 200 years ago despite the fact that things are vastly different today. People are entitled to their own opinions, but when the opinion is in opposition to basic logic or simple facts, then that opinion is ignorant (lacking information.) Ignorance also need not be a derogatory term, in fact Im sure we are both ignorant to some thing or another. Ignorance is merely a factual term to define ones state of having or not having knowledge concerning a certain subject. Ignorance could also be defined as one who believes they have the facts, but in reality have fiction, and therefore are ignorant to the truth. The danger with this particular ignorant argument is that it sounds so good to people who love animals, that they forget to study its factual basis, and in turn they foster ill will towards those with opposing viewpoints, even though their own is based in part in fiction. Nothing in my mind is more dangerous to a real argument that needs rational ideas from both sides, than is a half-truth or partially ignorant opinion.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            JR,

            “Nothing in my mind is more dangerous to a real argument that needs rational ideas from both sides, than is a half-truth or partially ignorant opinion.”

            I think you will find that many of the pro-wolf folks understand this “lack of rational” argument. It’s impossible to go back 200 years, and we would say it’s equally impossible to go back to the days of wolf extermination. Most of us have no problem with wolf management, or protection of private property.

            As you wrote from your hunting experience, unless one just gets lucky, “harvesting ” a wolf is tough work, ie not shooting a fish in the barrell, but actually having to work at it. One has admiration for that type of hunting. No dogs, no baits…

            I was interested reading your first post. I don’t want wolves killed, but being rational, I know it must happen. I also believe that many of us feel empathy for ranchers who live on the edge, and a few losses are tough for them. Then again, with the largely unfounded arsenal of anti-wolf hysteria, pro-wolf folks provide about the only empathy for the wolf itself.

            Elk/deer are not livestock and cannot be managed in that fashion. I understand the utilitarian value of elk/deer, but in terms of the damage they do to their own environment, the impact of severe Winters on limited range, and the spector of CWD and other disease, the wolf is probably the best year round manager of these populations.

            The answer can be found, but level heads using rational arguments and coming to a consensus, and then perhaps a generation more in terms of time, and maybe, just maybe, the wolf will be accepted as the valuable animal it is, to be enjoyed/utilized by both the consumptive and non-consumptive folks who truly enjoy all things wild.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            JR,

            My only point was that there are better ways to get your point across than through using the word “ignorant.”

            Although I agree with you that things will never go back to the way they were 200 years ago, probably about a hundred years from now, someone will be saying, “Things will never be able to go back to the way they were 100 years ago.” And so on, and so on…

            Unfortunately, the one population that really needs controls is the human one. But, it will never happen due to various reasons such as societal, religious, etc. So, years from now, people will look back, I’m afraid, and think of this time as the “good old days.” Although none of us will be around 100 years from now, wolves or not, the hunters of that era will never have the opportunities that you have today.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            By the way, JR, you used the word ignorant / ignorance twelve times in your previous post. Does that make you an “ignoramus?” (just kidding)

          • avatar JB says:

            “To suggest that wolves should be left unattended based on the preceding opinion and preceding fact…is dangerous because it draws emotion from the reader and causes opinions to be created on something other than fact or fiction. The fiction of this particular part of the argument is simply that things have changed since humans were introduced into the balance of that equation. To expect things to go back to the way they were …is an argument based in ignorance and not in fact.”

            JR:

            I appreciate your willingness to wade into this “den of vipers”, and especially, your reasoned response to this emotional topic. However, I thought it important to point out that one need not believe that things will “go back to the way they were” (i.e., pre-Columbian N. America)to prefer that wolves not be “managed” in the traditional way (i.e., killed via sport hunting). It is perfectly possible for one to come to such a conclusion by (a) noting that wolves are a density-dependent species that “self-regulates” their populations largely via overt aggression (what ecologists call intra-specific strife), (b)opposing human interventions designed to increase ungulate populations for the purpose of human harvest, and (c)opposing the removal of native wildlife for the purpose of benefiting privately-held businesses that are operated on public land.

            In short, it is perfectly reasonable for a well-informed person to conclude that wolf populations need not be “managed” (i.e. killed) for the the sole purpose of benefiting a select group of individuals (i.e., elk hunters and public lands’ ranchers).

            NOTE: Personally, I favor regulated public hunting of wolves, and federal “control” of wolves that kill livestock (at least on private lands) or ANY wolf that represents a threat to public health or safety. And I fundamentally agree with you that more moderate voices need to speak up!

          • avatar JR says:

            JB,

            Thank you for your observation of the error I made in explaining my position of the ignorance of the ‘live and let live’ argument. I should have been more clear in my explanation, in that what I often hear in this argument is a more simple version of ‘live and let live’ and a literal unmanaged population of wolves; citing as evidence that ‘the wolves were just fine before man was here, so they can take care of themselves’ your points b) and c) both in my opinion are parts of a managed system or management plan, and show well thought out procedures and precautions instead of what I generally hear from ‘live and let live’ which is to essentially turn a blind eye. I feel in part that you have in essence proved my point, and that is that even a plan that results in no hunting of wolves is still a “management plan” of sorts and therefore to suggest that we leave the wolves alone and unmanaged is by its very definition different from what you have indicated. Futhermore, if a person advocates for a non-managed population, again by definition they are advocating for a policy that would equally turn a blind eye to wolves that are trouble makers (interacting with humans in a negative way, killing livestock, etc) which most reasonable people would not expect. But then they might argue to “leave the wolves alone, except when they…..” but again, isn’t that by definition a management plan as well? All I am suggesting here is that many in the extreme pro-wolf camp seem to throw some of these loaded phrases around like ‘live and let live’ or ‘don’t manage the wolves, they did just fine before we were here’ etc, without fully defining the parameters of their statements, and when they look at it in depth, they will rationally find that yes indeed, even what they would advocate for truly is a ‘management plan’ of some sorts, so to deny the existence or necessity of management plans entirely is ignorant by definition.

          • avatar JB says:

            “I feel in part that you have in essence proved my point, and that is that even a plan that results in no hunting of wolves is still a “management plan” of sorts and therefore to suggest that we leave the wolves alone and unmanaged is by its very definition different from what you have indicated.”

            JR: Thanks for the clarifications. I’m not sure the distinction that you make is meaningful from a practical standpoint? The vast majority of plant and animal species do not have official ‘management plans’; these are reserved for species classified as “protected” (i.e., threatened or endangered) or “game” (i.e., those that are “harvested” for human benefit). It seems you are suggesting that the lack of management for these species is–in itself–a defacto management plan? I would argue that it is merely an expression of agency priorities, which are generally centered around (a) providing game species for benefits, and (b) protecting imperiled species from extinctions (most else falls by the wayside).

            Regardless, in my experience, most wolf advocates don’t object to all forms of ‘management’; rather, they object to the idea that wolves “need to be managed [i.e. killed]” for the purpose of controlling their populations. To many, the term “management” means only “kill”, which is, in and of itself, the central problem.

            “Futhermore, if a person advocates for a non-managed population, again by definition they are advocating for a policy that would equally turn a blind eye to wolves that are trouble makers (interacting with humans in a negative way, killing livestock, etc) which most reasonable people would not expect.”

            Forgive me, but this is a bit of a “straw man” argument. You have defined “management” in such a way as to include any human intervention, and then argued that people who are against management are therefore against all forms of human intervention. You are imposing a definition of “management” here that most folks–even on the pro-wolf side–do not share. In fact, the majority of pro-wolf folks that I have surveyed are, in fact, proponents of “management” of wolves. However, they would like to see non-lethal forms of management used proactively to prevent conflicts, rather than rely solely on lethal forms of management. This is why I used the phrase “traditional” management (i.e., regulated public hunting) in my initial post.

            Yes, I’m sure there are some who object to any form of “management”; but I would wager that these folks represent a tiny minority. Likewise, the people who advocate the total removal of wolves “by any means necessary” represent a tiny minority as well–they just happen to be the minority that has the ear of the legislature (at least in Idaho).

          • avatar JR says:

            JB,

            If a person is against the killing of wolves, but is for managing them in some other manner, then they should say just what they mean; “I am for a non-lethal management plan of wolves” which again is still by definition a management plan. If they instead say “I am against a management plan for wolves, or I am against managing wolves” and they are implying as you suggest “traditional management, ie lethal management” then as you can see by this very discussion that there is some ambiguity, and room for confusion. People need to be very specific and detailed in their verbiage so as to avoid misunderstandings that will only compound an already out of control argument. Outside of the wolf argument, from a layman’s point of view, management means interaction or control. To hear one say “I am against the management of wolves” especially when courted in the same sentence as “The wolves were doing just fine before the white man came” it is easy to see why some undereducated folks on this topic could easily assume that by “no management” they mean literally “no management” or no Human involvement or interaction. And if that is not really what the person making the statement meant, then there will rise a misunderstanding, where in fact there perhaps need not have been.

          • avatar jb says:

            JR,
            Indeed, ineffective communication is a pervasive problem in this ongoing debate. With that in mind, it is important to understand that our differences often arise not from ignorance, but from differing interpretations of terms, phrases, data etc.

      • avatar WM says:

        ++ Contrary to what was written earlier – they don’t appear to be “dumber than a box of rocks.” If that were the case kill rates would be higher in both Idaho and Montana.++

        This, of course, would be consistent with observations and statements of Dr. Mech and other behavior ecologists, noting that wolves learn pretty quickly and would likely avoid humans. Jiminez may have made the “dumber than a box of rocks” comment in a way the author of that Oprah magazine piece took it out of context. Afterall, the author thinks she saw wolves in Colorado five years ago outside her condo window (which would not be an accurate statement). I’m still scratching my head over that one, poetic licence in her writing and all by those who would apologize for the factual inaccuracy which creates even more misinformation as it spreads to the readership of the magazine, and in subsequent republications in casual conversation.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          I don’t know the context of the Jiminez remark, but taken at face value I strongly disagree. I have 12+ years of professional involvement in wolf management, so I know of what I speak.

          Wolves habituate fairly quickly given no negative consequences, but when their human encounters become adversarial they become extremely wary.

          Some contributors to this blog claim wolves are easy to observe, however they’re not shooting at them.

          • avatar JB says:

            When I was living in Utah, the state DWR brought Carter Niemeyer down to discuss his experiences controlling wolves (this was ’03 or 04). He discussed their relative success with various types of lethal and nonlethal control, but I’ll never forget one comment: “Wolves are easy to kill.” This comment was made in the context of “controlling” depredating wolf packs. Note: the terrain and lack of a canopy make wolves far easier to track and find out West, especially in the winter. That may explain the difference between Niemeyer and Jimenez comments’ and ma’iingan’s experience.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “Note: the terrain and lack of a canopy make wolves far easier to track and find out West, especially in the winter. That may explain the difference between Niemeyer and Jimenez comments’ and ma’iingan’s experience.”

            Good point JB, and in all fairness I should’ve added that caveat. “Wolf watching” is kind of an odd concept here in the GLR.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            “Wolf watching” is kind of an odd concept here in the GLR.

            With patience though, it is possible.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “Wolf watching” is kind of an odd concept here in the GLR.

            “With patience though, it is possible.”

            I’m talking about the scale at which it takes place in places like YNP, where large groups gather – and where it’s been identified as a contributor to the local economies.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Perhaps not on the scale as in the NRM states but,

            Interest in wolves can have positive impacts on tourism. The International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota receives 40-45,000 visitors a year to its education center, and to the town of Ely. Economic analysis1 indicates that the International Wolf Center generates around $3 million dollars annually and created as many as 66 new jobs in a town of 3,724 inhabitants.

            Herein is the key, education. When one thinks of the number of individuals within short to relatively short driving distance to to GLS, we have a tourist industry ripe for the pickings. This would take time and an awful lot of change in mindsets.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          I’ve heard Carter Niemeyer say wolves are very easily to kill, but then he is hardly an average hunter.

          • avatar Mtn Mama says:

            Agreed. Carter correctly predicted that few wolves would be trapped in Idaho- the last I saw, 1 wolf had been killed by trap.

      • avatar rtobasco says:

        Jeff N.,

        You’re a classic example of what I was referring to when it comes to hysteria…….fans the flames on all sides it seems. Ease back down – I detect a little foaming at the mouth. Please recall that I have hunted in this area for years and have seen significant change. Not all of it due to wolves of course. By unprecedented, I mean that never before has the wolf population been so great in this area as to have the potential to significantly reduce deer numbers. Wolves will be wolves – they eat big game animals, whenever and wherever they can. Not necessarily a bad thing – but when and where the “balance” is so obviously out of whack it is probably time to exercise a little prudent control. By my limited observation in this area (when was the last time you were in the woods? – where I hunt?)wolves have moved in to places directly adjacent to private land and areas where loggnig has created more suitable habitat for big game herds. Deer in this area are known to concentrate on private land in the winter. If it is true that wolves are moving in where there is a better food source, as Ralph indicated it just may be, then the stage is set for wolves impacting the deer herd in the same way they have negatively impacted elk numbers in the area. (The elk haven’t disappeared entirely as a result of fire suppression and reduced logging, have they Jeff?) Hence, unprecedented conditions seem to exist in this area.

        If wolves played by the “rules” – that is, killed only in moderation, and remained only in “designated areas”, there wouldn’t be issues, I suppose. But you should probably accept a couple of givens on the topic of wolves. They make their own rules and they will go will there is an available food source, and man, like it or not, is part of the equation. As a result, there will likley always be conflict here and there. I and most of the the other hunters I know accept these notions – just as we generally accept the fact that wolves have become part of the equation. If you can manage to settle down a bit you may become better able to exercise a little objectivity from time to time.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          RTobasco,

          Let me get this straight. You accuse me of fanning the flames of “hysteria” but in your above post you drop this little beauty –

          “If left unchecked it is quite likely they will cause unprecedented damage to deer populations as well as livestock and, quite possibly pets” – No hysteria here.

          This statement is a prime example of the hysteria that has gotten us to the point where Idaho is now planning on using helicopter gunners to blast away at wolves because hunters couldn’t get the job done.

          Sorry Rtobasco….it’s hard for me to be objective about that. I can’t be objective in regard to states that have a bizarre bloodlust when it comes to managing wolves.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            Rtobasco,

            One more thing Rtobasco. You said:

            “As it stands now wolves are literally knocking at the doors of residents in North Central Idaho.”

            Ease back down buddy I sense a little hysteria and some foaming at the mouth.

          • avatar rtobasco says:

            Jeff,

            Visit the area east and north of Kamiah. Talk to the residents who have lost llamas, goats, dogs from their pastures and the grounds immediate to their homes. Most of these folks have lived there for years and the changes they are seeing are somewhat dramatic in that wolves have encroached in a big way in recent years. All I am saying is that wolves, a dominant predator, are likely to create more conflict in the area when they inevitably turn to easier pickins – if not controlled. It is one thing to have them further up the Lochsa, quite another to have them move down to private land because they are seeking a more consistent food source.

            Perhaps we need another 1910 burn which will ultimately result in better elk habitat and thus a more suitable home for wolves.

            Wolves are going to follow the food – when the food becomes livestock, wolves lose. Get in your seemingly thick head that wolves aren’t necessarily to blame for these circumstance, however, when such conflict arises there is typically only one outcome and it ain’t good for wolves. They are not an animal to co-exist with people and livestock. They have never been and never will be. In this case, it might be that they have, as Dr. Maughan suggests, moved in search of fo food. When that movement results in direct conflict with people, pets and livestock it is going to be bad for wolves. I have to be believe that supporters of wolves don’t want this type of conflict anymore than anti-wolfers because it is simply bad press.

            However, bleeding hearts, such as yourself tend to be so blinded with your own emotion that you fail to see the all of the potential ramifications of this scenario.
            I am certainly no scientist – just one who has lived in this region all my life. My hope is that our wildlands/wildlife can be managed responsibily to the greatest benefit of all.

            Jeff – which big city do you live in? You need more time in the hills, friend. Might temper your suffering soul a bit.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            rtobasco,

            If wolf management is necessary, and I believe it is, what I don’t understand is why is there not more pressure in areas around farms and ranches, and less pressure in remote areas. And as any pro-wolf individual would think, with all the hyperbole of the wolves are everywhere, then they should be that much easier to shoot. It just does not seem to be the case.

            So, at this time, all we can do is carp about it, and that will continue and get loader when the gun ships come out. The answer is out there, but it’s certainly not in the Idaho, Montana, Wyoming models.

            Perhaps this could have been handled much better/differently, but what it will most certainly do is draw in folks and their opinions, who might never have got involved in the issue. Don’t really think it’s in the best interest for wolves, nor is it in the best interest for the anti’s.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            I think it’s pretty hard for anyone to really be objective. A lot of my continual angry preoccupation about the Lolo is the insistence that it is full of wolves and always will be unless they kill a lot. In other words, it irritates me to hear professional wildlife managers insisting that somehow wolves live there in large numbers with nothing to eat but a small and declining elk herd.

            I would say every time I have challenged Idaho Fish and Game on the Lolo the wolf numbers issue I have won. Far fewer are always taken than they say they are going to. You can’t kill wolves that are not there. Now if they kill 60 wolves out of there, I will admit I was wrong.

            As for Rtobasco, that is a huge exaggeration that wolves are literally knocking on folks’ doors in central Idaho. I’ve heard that a long time. Then there comes a hunt and they can’t find them.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            Rtobasco,

            Ahhh….the old knee jerk “what big city do you live in” comment. That ones getting a little old and tired RT. Now if I would have said I live in SF or NYC you could have gotten really clever and used this one: “wolves should be reintroduced to the Presidio or Central Park”.

            I happen to get out in the woods plenty and it’s wolf country. You see I hear the same type of crap down where I live. The hysterical paranoids where I spend time actually have built wolf proof bus stop shelters for their kids…..and they claim that the 50 or so Lobos are decimating the elk herd. They also claim wolves are literally at the door, bus stop, post office, library. old folks home..etc. Same shit different region.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          Save Bears,

          Totally uncalled for? I don’t think so…unless you feel that it was equally uncalled for that he asked what “Big City” I was from and referred to me as a “Bleeding Heart Liberal”.

          I will refer you to the original thread where I responded to RTobasco. You can then follow it from there.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Jeff N.,

            I think you are a bit angry and I have deleted a few comments, but I agree that the “what city are you from” is very irritating because it often comes from people with far less experience than you (and me) in the outdoors.

            There is an assumption by at least a fair number that if you don’t hate wolves you are very urban and well-to-do. This is not true, and it has happened to me a lot and by people who are relative newcomers to Idaho when I have been here all the time.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            Fair enough Ralph, but with all due respect; shouldn’t you also delete his big city – bleeding heart liberal comments. Just sayin’. He who casts the first stone…and I didn’t go throw the first.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Jeff N.,

              Because I just referred to it, I’ll leave it up. I don’t like it though, that’s the point.

      • avatar JR says:

        In my layman’s opinion, the damage that wolves have the potential to do to resident elk and deer herds is this; Hunting quotas are easily managed, but wolves are not bound by the rules and laws of mankind. The wolves will have the potential to exacerbate existing population issues within struggling herds. The Lolo example in my mind is key; while I agree that the wolves are not the historical cause of the original decline in elk numbers there, it does appear that they are a significant impediment to the regrowth of that elk population. From year to year F&G can adjust harvest quotas in given hunting zones to reflect the natural ebb and tide of the herd numbers due to the other outside factors like climate change and habitat loss. But unfortunately the wolves dont listen to those mandates, and so even though a herd might be suffering due to other extenuating circumstances, the wolves may continue to prey on them to their eventual destruction.

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          The possibility remains with the changing environment on the Lolo caused by all the re-growth of the winter range, that the elk herds will never come back to being close to what they were.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            I remember back in the 70’s the huge numbers of elk one could see right off the Lochsa Highway. But, it was all brush-land then, and now it is mostly evergreens. It needs to burn again to reestablish the range.

      • avatar Vay says:

        Amen!
        Seems to me that every time man thinks that he can manage the world better than God he screws up everything.
        Which came first…”the chicken or the egg.”
        What came first: a well tuned eco system or the sport hunters? But I do think that ifsomeone is just hunting for “sport” he should be required to hunt with a spear, bow and arrow and a knife, instead ofa gun that can shoot an animal that is a mile away. Those that hunt just for food should be able to hunt with rifles.

    • avatar adam gall says:

      rtobasco, thank you for adding your comments. It is great to hear thoughts coming from someone who has actually been there and can see the change. Yes, brutal winters, maturing forests, prolonged lack of fire, the loss of logging, and without a doubt, wolves and other predators have really put a dent in unit 10 and 12’s elk population. If I were in charge of things (ha!) I would close down those units to elk hunting for 5 years period. I love the Lochsa country more than anyplace on the planet and I hope that I can bowhunt elk there again someday.
      Lately, my friends and I feel guilty hunting there because it feels like we are pursuing the last of a few remaining animals there. So we don’t there anymore.
      Hearing wolves howl in that country is a beautiful thing, but it would be great to see a couple more elk there too! Hopefully in time that will be the case…

      • avatar Salle says:

        So, is “hunting” the only thing that you do out of doors? Can’t you just go hiking/camping and enjoy that activity? Or is the prospect of possibly killing something that is the only draw for your going out into the wild?

        • avatar Mike says:

          Salle –

          It’s a psychological thing, largely based on insecurities. One could make the case that those who can enjoy the outdoors without heavy weaponry and killing have moved beyond a certain level of insecurity, and that those who only seek to kill in the woods, or who can only enjoy the woods with the possibility of killing, do so because they haven’t found the appropriate mechanism to deal with feelings of inadequacy, so these “manly” endeavors reinforce their beliefs in how a man should act. In many ways, guns are psychological vulnerability shields, and why they’ve become an almost quasi-religion to many people. Without the weapons and the shooting, some of these folks feel “naked”.

          This of course doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s a large portion of the group.

          It is stunning, and quite revealing when you observe these groups of hunters driving two miles from town only to park their truck, get out, and fire on a herd of deer in a meadow. What a contrast.

          This activity was of vital importance when we pioneered our great country. We needed the meat, the hunt, the trapping to survive winters. But now? Now we live in an overpopulated country with roads everywhere and abundant sources of food–all the food you can dream of. There’s really no need for this activity in many cases (especially predator hunting), and that’s why you’re seeing hunter numbers fall through the roof. The new generation isn’t buying it. They’re well- read (certainly more so than previous generations) and understand it’s an outdated activity.

          The “tradition” of hanging around campfires on the night of the hunt with guns cleaned and whiskey poured still has a hold on certain people. There’s a romantic element to it, of yesteryear and a time when the country was unsettled. But that’s gone. And the peripheral activities which surrounded it should be, too. Tradition doesn’t mean “right”. And there’s a reason for the whiskey. It makes the pain go away, makes the five shots to kill the deer as it dragged its back legs into the brush go away, at least for a while…

          Wolves challenge the campfire romance. How can there be another great hunter in these woods? How dare the wolves pockmark these hunts, these times of men in the woods in big country?

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Now you are a mental annalist Mike?

            You know the mindset of those who choose to hunt?

            You should write a paper Mike and see how the industry peer reviews it!

          • avatar Salle says:

            Savebears,

            Whatever.

          • avatar GabbersF says:

            I agree with Mike. Most of the men/women I know that hunt using rifles and other high-powered weapons are insecure in one way or another and it shows. Especially those who hunt predators. I also know some hunters who simply love being in the outdoors and only hunt for meat (ie dear, elk, moose) which they actualy EAT. I also know a lot of bow hunters who come home empty handed or heavily laden with guilt for the deer that they shot, but didn’t kill.

          • avatar JR says:

            While there is some validity in your opinions about hunting, namely the disgust we both share for those who would call themselves “hunters” but who have every disregard for ethical fair chase practices, and even from time to time the law, I fear that your comments are too broadly encroaching on the hunting population as a majority, which is made up of wise, discerning, educated, and even moral individuals. Hunting, when done responsibly, is a time honored past time with not only historical significance, but also serves as a firm basis from which to educate our young people about what it means to be proper stewards of our natural resources. Some, if not all of the most effective and staunch advocates of environmental values that I know of are hunters. Many policies enacted to preserve and protect lands and wilderness from developing interests are due to the values and cooperation of like minded hunters united to preserve the natural resources they hold dear.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Salle,

          The majority of us that hunt, spend the rest of the year in the woods hiking, camping, etc. Hunting is only one activity that happens during our full year in the woods.

          • avatar Salle says:

            But I wasn’t asking you, Savebears. I was asking adam gall and, maybe, that tobaco guy who is worried about the abundance of wolves – that don’t exist – in the Lolo area.

            We’ve already been over that in the past.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Salle,

            The reply button on this blog applies to all, not just one.

            And yes, we have and I will continue to comment when redundant questions are posed

          • avatar Mtn Mama says:

            Savebears, I disagree with your statement of hunters. It is great that you actually do other outdoor activities but I dont think you are an average representation. I know many hunters and few do any hiking or camping. They will go “scout” hunting areas and even set up camera traps on private property so they know where to go hunt once the season opens.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Mtn Mamma, you are wrong, I allow a hell of allot hunters on my property in the N. Fork every single year that are camping and hiking with their families, without guns..

        • avatar JR says:

          Salle,

          I hunt, I fish, I hike, I camp, I take scouts on backpacking trips, I take my kids on backpacking trips, I snowmachine in the winter, I Ice Fish, etc. I take enjoyment from all of them. In each I try to be a good steward and set a responsible example for the next generation. In all, I likely spend nearly 100 days a year in the woods. Just because I hunt, and you dont, does not make you a better or more ethical person than me. If you choose to not hunt for your own reasons, that is your business, but what I and other hunters do with our time is our business. Who are you to judge us?

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++ As it stands now wolves are literally knocking at the doors of residents in North Central Idaho. ++

      This is a prime example of what’s wrong in Idaho right now.

    • avatar GabbersF says:

      What did the deer/elk populations do before people were around to manage things? I take it we’re concerned about their populations because people want to be able to hunt them in mass amounts w/out worrying about other predators limiting how many we can take, or making the number of allowed lower? Keep in mind that wolves/deer and other game animals used to keep each other in check before we were around to manage things. Take a count of how many people are hunters in the area. I’m betting there are more human predators than there are wolves. 🙂 That with fire suppression and our encroachment into habitat areas… who, over the long run, do you think is affecting the elk population the most. People or wolves? As for the wolves getting smarter and evading us more as hunting intensifies. We wiped them out of these areas before, what makes you believe that it won’t happen again?

      Wolves have more right to be on the land than we do. How about we start “managing” some of the human predator populations?

  14. avatar Jeff says:

    Outside of year round trapping and poisoning I wonder if the wolf will wind up being just fine—if his only enemy is man with a rifle. Helicopters, poison and intensive trapping are probably the only way wolf numbers will be significantly reduced.

    • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

      That certainly may be true. The best model may be where these wolves came from in Alberta. They are hunted and trapped pretty steadily there and it appears sustainable. Unfortunately, the whole paper, while very informative, isn’t available without a subscription.
      http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z11-043

      The main difference south of the border is that everybody is much more exercised, either about them being there at all or protecting them. Those who hoped they would be controlled at will by hunting within normally accepted seasons are feeling the heat. If having guys walking around on the ground with rifles hasn’t worked, try bombing Hanoi — whatever the cost. Eventually, some will begin to accept what they really cannot control (in any lasting way) while others will stop worrying so much.

      I have to admit though that society has not quite registered reality yet with coyotes. However, we did finally cave in to sanity with that terrible economic scourge, the bald eagle, when a strapped Alaska territorial government narrowly voted to cease funding the bounty in 1953 after shelling out for 128,273 pairs of feet over 36 years (over 100,000 of which came from Southeast). “Eagle Bill” Egan, a local democrat and one of the revered fathers of Alaska statehood was one of the last to cave. Now they have a better health care plan than most people — whenever one falls ill it’s quickly bundled up and taken off to the raptor center, cared for, operated on if needed, nourished back to health and released (or offered free unlimited long-term care if unfit for independent living). Our salmon runs seem to be scraping by, even the Chilkat fall chums after 3,000 eagles descend on them every winter and yard as many as possible out of upwelling holes in the ice – – – most after successfully spawning. Quite a few big lens types from all over show up for it.

      • avatar GabbersF says:

        I live in anchorage and spend weekends in Homer. Went fishing for Halibut and all we caught were “chickens”. The babies. Certainly this isn’t cause by over-fishing! There must be some predator out there that we can blame. Now lets see…..

  15. avatar JEFF E says:

    Not sure why any one who has been listening to the rhetoric coming out of Clem and the state legislature in Idaho or the political one upmanship taking place in Montana should be surprised by this. This has been predicted on this blog for years that the states(livestock industry) never have had any intention of treating wolves as anything other than vermin.
    Has nothing to do with anything than proving that the livestock industry runs these states and will not be ceding that power anytime soon.

    • avatar Jon Way says:

      You are exactly right Jeff E … That is why I have mentioned the wild canid act for some time at least on public/federal lands. This wouldn’t protect every canid from getting killed but it would at least set some sane laws and maybe have diverse stakeholders on the “commission”. Simply put, I don’t think states should be in charge of predators under their great “North American Model” – esp the “robust wolf population”.

      • avatar william huard says:

        Aw damn Jon- we hadn’t heard the word ROBUST in at least two or three days…..

      • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

        Jon Way —

        I’m not sure how realistic that is, but it is interesting to contemplate relative to the shift in the relationship between commercial fishermen and marine mammals over the past 40 years after passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. I still sometimes find it amazing how smoothly that went down — the abrupt change from fishermen blazing away at seals and sea lions near their gear to submitting obediently to federal inquisition and mandates over even incidental and accidental impacts. There is increased grumbling about on-going sea otter expansion totaling out a number of dive fisheries, but that’s about all its been so far — grumbling (and perhaps a little focused attention in certain locations by Alaska natives who can take sea otters and even market the pelts when made into crafts).

        What’s the difference? For one thing, fishermen don’t have a sense of owning the ocean. It’s undeniably a commons, whereas my impression is that many public lands ranchers believe they really rightfully own their grazing leases, particularly those situated where they can control public access.

        However, that may not be all of it. Otherwise, going back 150 years, the solution might have been to leave the west entirely as a public commons like Mongolia (and maybe graze something more “robust” like yaks). But predators are pretty hard-pressed there too. Perhaps the real difference is that a commercial fisherman is not engaged in “agriculture” but is really still a hunter/gatherer. You do not own that fish until it’s in on deck, or better yet in your hold. Until it’s over the rail, it’s up for grabs. There are occasionally massive conflicts with sea lions following trollers in droves and grabbing salmon, and sperm whales attracted to the particular engine sound signaling gear being pullled, working their way up groundline being reeled from hundreds of fathoms — and either plucking every highly valuable blackcod off individually or running the line through their teeth like dental floss, cleaning off the fish and leaving straightened hooks. It’s aggravating and expensive and NMFS and ADF&G are trying to help fishermen with creative solutions, but there has been not gunfire out there that I’ve heard of in many years.

        I’ve heard salmon trollers described as the last genuine cowboys, and in some ways it’s true, in terms of independence and freedom to follow the herds (or schools) wherever they go. Over-flying trollers scattered along the coast north of Cape Spencer to the Alsek River on a calm, sunny day, I thought they had picked the single most scenic work site in the entire world — with the freedom to pick up and move wherever they wanted up and down the coast for hundreds of miles.

    • avatar Salle says:

      JEFF E…

      Ayuh.

      Thanks for bringing that point up again. That is the truth of it.

    • avatar Salle says:

      I just have to ask clarification to satisfy my own curiosity… Do you mean the term “Clem” to refer one to “Clem Cadiddlehopper” – a Red Skelton character OR “Clem the Clown” Firesign Theater’s We’re All Bozos On This Bus skit?

      I think either is appropriate, I’m just curious.

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        Actually I always think of Clem as a clown, but not as a humorous one as in Red Skelton’s character, but instead as a bumbling buffoon.

        Why I call him Clem is because his name is Clement.

        He was given the nickname “Butch” by the nun’s at the parochial school he attended as a child.

        Methinks the nuns were engaging in a little inside joke.

        And now the joke is on us.

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          …and he has just never realised the nuns were playig a joke on him…to this day.

          • avatar Salle says:

            In that case, the mental image of “Clem the Clown” from Firesign Theater would fit best. (I forgot about his real name…)

            In the skit Clem has a two word script: “Uh, Clem.” is all I recall he said in the entire skit. The skit itself is a parody on a Nixon jobs initiative that helped develop the “trickle-down theory”. Folks on the bus find, somehow, that they actually have an opportunity to speak to a barely animated facsimile of the pres. One character gets to the mic and asks, “Say Mr. President, where can I find a JOB?” The robotic figure blows off the question, since it has only limited campaign oriented responses. When the querants’ time is up a big hook comes out to haul them off. When Clem gets to the mic, the robotic figure asks him for him name and then a follow-up question to each of which Clem can only answer, “Uh, Clem.” Which ultimately causes the robotic figure to into “meltdown mode” and causes a chain reaction of governing bodies – I think. I can’t remember the whole thing as it is some 20 minutes long but I bet the satire is relevant today… And in Butch’s case for certain. 🙂

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Good analogy.
            He has gone from a drunkard in that center of cultural enlightenment, Garden City, to where he is today solely on the back of Simplot and the rest of the livestock industry.

            And he is well aware of which side his bread is buttered on

    • avatar Salle says:

      He’s a lot like Denny Rheberg… but he publicly refuses to pay his taxes because he sees himself as a type of 1%er with privileges.. because he is in government, he perceives himself as above the law and suffers no remorse at his actions and attitudes. Any Idahoan with a positive (+# as opposed to a negative# on a number line) IQ has no respect for him and no desire to allow him to keep his legislative seat. But the legislature, mostly thinks along the same lines as he and will likely “shield” him from any real consequences. “As the Capitol Spins”

  16. avatar Nancy says:

    +And, specific to wolves, I have been studying them as an avocation for quite some time now, and had conversations and exchanged writings with lots of professionals and scientists in the field, including both NRM and WGL wolf populations, and the continuing research on them+

    And that & the cost of a cup of coffee WM, has gotten us where in this debate when it comes to wolves and their place here on Planet Earth?

  17. avatar JR says:

    As one new to the voicing of my opinions in a public format, I will try to tread amicably here to begin with… I have three questions;

    1. What is the ultimate gain or desire of the majority of the folks in the Pro-Wolf Camp (ie, ZERO hunting, X number of wolves in ID, MT, WY, etc)

    2. What is the ultimate gain or desire/goal of the majority of the folks in the Anti-wolf Camp (ie, Zero Wolves, huntable population of wolves, x number of wolves in ID, MT, WY, etc)

    3. When the wolves were originally re-introduced, what was the management goal or rather the agreed goals between the two opposing camps? How far from those goal numbers are we today?

    • avatar GabbersF says:

      This depends on which side you’re on of course. 😉 While I’m on the side of the wolves living their wolfish lives (they were here first after all…) I’m irritated with the radicals on both sides. The hunters and those whose job continuation depend on kissing political ass, COMPLETELY over estimate the numbers in order to satisfy the desire to hunt, w/out concern about populations. They quote the low populations of prey animals (elk and deer in the lower 48, moose in alaska) as a direct result of wolf predation, when in reality it’s the lack of habitat that is causing the majority of the low numbers. Fish and Game in Alaska tried to start areal hunting of wolves on the Kenai peninsula because of political pressure, siting the falling moose population as due to wolf predation. Biologists did surveys and research and (unlike ID, MN and WY, AK biologists know and track wolf packs and have VERY acturate numbers) found that moose population decline was due to habitat decline and, moose/car accidents!
      The other side to this story is the liberal wolf loving side (my side), which claims there are almost NO wolves. And that they are being over-hunted to the extreme. All hunters are evil, all politics care about is the money that the extra hunting permits will bring in… blah blah blah.
      In the end, we reintroduces wolves to help naturally balance out prey animals and to create a more complete ecosystem, as well as to try to help wolf population numbers come up from the once endangerd numbers. They weren’t reintroduced to provide hunters with another animal to shoot.
      Speaking of hunters. Shooting predators with little to no food/meat value from the air, or nearly a mile away on a differnt ridge doesn’t prove you’re a bigger/badder man. It does, however, prove you’re a coward. I’m tired of hearing my coworkers say that they want to go hunt for bear, with a high powered rifle and a scope that will let them shoot it from a loooong ways away, so they’re not in any danger themselve. Get a bow and go hunt that brown bear from close range and see how that goes for you.
      “Humans are destroying ecosystems, killing off species in their thousands and destabilising climates. “We became the Earth’s infection” James Lovelock.

      • avatar JR says:

        I appreciate your insight GabbersF. Here are my thoughts; Hunting (in general) certainly comes from a variety of motivations. For me it is a combination of the meat/fur value of the harvest weighed equally against the sport/entertainment factor of it. I will often pass on opportunities to harvest an animal if I have not sufficiently (in my own mind) put the effort in necessary to justify the taking of a life. I enjoy the art of hunting, and often pass on animals early in a season so that I may continue the hunt. Sometimes I let too many opportunities pass, and my tag inevitably remains unfilled at the end of a season, but the memories and photos that I took from it are worth far more to me. To me, the ethical hunt is paramount. While I am not above hunting with a rifle, I do prefer the bow because of the challenge it presents. You mentioned that you wished your coworkers would have the guts to stand up to a bear with a bow vs a rifle, well, not to brag, but my wife took her first big game animal several years back; a Black Bear she shot with her bow at 15 yards. And yes, we did eat it, and it tasted like a cross between pork and venison. But I will say this, to each his own… so long as these other hunters you speak of (that are shooting game from nearly a mile away) are not exceeding the maximum legal weight of the firearm they are using, they have every legal right to do so. For me personally, it is difficult to imagine an ethical shot beyond 400 yards, but I do know of individuals who put consistent effort into increasing their own effective range out to over a 1000 yards, and they consider that challenge and sport not less that what I consider of my desire to bow hunt. I say that if they are competent enough to pull off such a shot with consistency, then all the more power to them.
        As far as hunting animals with little or no food value, I can concede the ethical dilemma there, but in all fairness, in most instances the fur or hide is equally valuable to the hunter. Furthermore, the hunting is used as a means of keeping predator populations in check, and were it not for the impact of hunting, who is to say that the predator populations wouldn’t “eat themselves out of house and home” thus exposing their own populations to future weakness. Hunting also, in my opinion, installs in them a healthy fear of humans, which in turn likely minimizes confrontations between them and us. Were the predators not afraid of humans, I would expect that more of them would die due to impacts with cars, or an over reliance on human excesses (like the bears in Yellowstone of years long past were unhealthily dependent on the human garbage, and the humans feeding the bears like pets only compounded the problem)

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          JR,

          I, personally have always accepted the idea of wolf hunting, but I draw the line with extremely long seasons, trapping, poisoning, and aerial-gunning.

          I, too, am surprised how ineffective hunters have been, and I realize game often seem to act differently during hunting season, and of course, wolves are extremely intelligent animals. As others have found, wolves are easy to see in the off-season.

          I can either agree with or understand much of what you have said, but I do disagree where you have stated if an action is “legal,” and the hunter is good at it, then “more power to them.”

          Perhaps the best example is the 1000 yard shot. Legal? Maybe. But there are in my mind absolute ethical issues here. The challenge here is in the shot, not the hunt. I can’t ethically agree with anyone shooting an elk at a 1000 yards, legal or not. Perhaps you can.

          Also, remember that many things have been and are legal, but that doesn’t make them right.

          • avatar JR says:

            My point IDhiker, was simply that if they have the experience and qualifications to back up a shot like that, then I dont have a problem with it. But that is a really big “if” and there arent many outside of military snipers that would fit this description in my mind. To be sure, I whole heartedly agree with you on in the argument against those who dont have the experience taking iffy shots, whether it is at 1000 yards or 100 yards. But also in the same token, I try to not judge another’s actions or ethical decisions. For I know that I myself am imperfect, and its not wise to throw stones in glass houses.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            IDhiker

            The number of people who can shoot accurately at a 1000 yards is so small that I would not concern myself about it. How many 1000 yard rifle ranges are available, very, very few. Most hunters have trouble shooting beyond 200 yards, most hunters do not practice with their rifles before hunting season, most hunters have zero knowledge of the ballistics of the ammunition they are shooting except what is printed on the box. Less than 1/2 percent of all hunters have chronographed their loads before going afield, know the ballistics coefficient of the bullet, understand how temperature, humility and elevation effects external ballistics. Most hunters can not afford a good range finder and guess at the distance.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            JR,
            We all have to make judgements of people’s actions, otherwise our society would be chaos. How could we have laws? Yes, we are all imperfect, but I do think there are ethical limits to what is right or wrong, and just because someone approves of something in their own mind, doesn’t necessarily make it OK. For example, my dad used to hunt with a guy whose philosophy was no matter what the range, he would fire on elk. To him it was OK. But, to you and I, it was not.

            I think generally judgements are needed more in our society, but not ridiculous ones. Such as, most hunters would agree a shot at an elk up to 300 yards is OK, or even a little farther. So, to say a 250 yard shot is unethical, would be a poor judgement, in my opinion.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            True, ELK275. I personally know of no one who shoots game at near that range. 1000 yards is over half a mile.

            I totally agree with you about how much hunters practice, as I used to be one, and was around many others who hunted. Heck, my dad hunted all his life and never went to a range.

            1000 yards is just a theoretical concept to talk about ethics over.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Good questions Jr. My suggestion would be to start at the top of the site, click on history and read about the re-introduction. If you have the time, check out the various links on the right side.

      I’d also suggest looking through the archives if you have a lot of spare time and really want to get a clue as to how some feel about the wolf issue (atleast on this site)

      Archives use to be listed on the left side of the site, not sure where they are now. Ralph? Ken? Brian? Are the archives still available to look through on the site?

      I can only render my opinion to question #1:

      Live and let live…. and for those living in what’s left of wilderness areas who somehow feel slighted by the re-introduction of wolves (who’s ancestors were here long before “things got tamed and exterminated to benefit mankind) got two words – BUCK UP – because the alternative – the lazy, narrow minded way of doing things in the past – has and is, costing millions & millions to address.

  18. avatar Jeff Wegerson says:

    What does a wolf knock sound like? Being from the city I have never heard one.

    @rtobasco

    “As it stands now wolves are literally knocking at the doors of residents in North Central Idaho.”

    • avatar Salle says:

      You know what? I live here where the wolves are and I have never seen one close enough to a door to be “knocking” on it. Never had one knock on my door… I’ve had bears sniffing at the door but never had a wolf knock. I hear them howling sometimes but they aren’t knocking on any doors that I have ever heard of.

      I think they need a more fitting metaphor…

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Same situation here in my neck of the woods Salle, even with 3 big cattle ranches surrounding me, I’ve somehow never had wolves knocking at my door or even close to it either and other than that rare howl or a very brief glimpse every once in awhile, its hard to imagine after 15 years, how they’ve become such a horrible presence for others, who don’t live that far from me….

      • avatar Jeff N. says:

        I’m assuming your house isn’t adjacent to a school bus stop. If it was they would be knocking at your door quite frequently.

    • avatar rick says:

      I believe that wolves can knock on doors because a lady from North Central Idaho told me that she saw a 275 lb wolf. In my book, a 275 lb wolf can do anything it wants.

  19. avatar rick says:

    A, just under life size, carving of Butch Otter, in the back of the Salt Tears Coffee Shop, in Boise,is a good depiction of Idaho’s management of wolves. The carving is of Butch with a bottle of whiskey in one had, a tin of chewing tobacco in his boot and the other boot pressing on the head of a squashed down wolf.
    I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR ADVICE ON HOW INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS, LIKE MYSELF, CAN HELP BRING SOME SANITY INTO IDAHO’S WOLF MANAGEMENT. SEEMS THIS THREAD OF MESSAGES HAS A FEW FOLKS WHO ARE CAPABLE OF GIVING SOUND ADVICE ON WHAT SPECIFIC THINGS WE CAN DO. PLEASE DO THAT.
    I was just told that typing in caps. means I am yelling. So, I now know that I am yelling.

    • avatar JB says:

      Rick:

      My advise is to write your legislators, the head of Idaho Fish & Game, and all of the members of IDF&G’s wildlife commission. Put your letters in the mail (as opposed to email) as these have more weight (at least with legislators). Tell them your preferences for wolf management clearly and concisely and without vilifying anyone (especially the people you are writing).

      • avatar Savebears says:

        I remember back in the day, when Burn’s was in office in the state of Montana, and I was specifically told, that they read every real letter and many emails don’t even get past the spam filters and the ones that do are handed over to an intern, if the intern feels it is worth something, then it goes to the next level..

        So if you don’t want an intern deciding if your position is valid, then write on paper, with everything spelled correctly, addressed to the right person, without calling names or making threats, you stand a far better chance of getting through..

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          That’s probably because Burns didn’t know how to even turn on a computer. I can certainly see where a large volume of e-mails would be cumbersome to review, but nowadays who even writes letters anymore. I’d be surprised if even letters make it past the gatekeeper. It seems politicians have forgotten who they work for and who pays their salaries

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jeff,

            I write a heck of allot of letters on paper and I have very good luck at being heard and get call backs quite often from those in charge.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Also, believe me Burn’s knew how to turn a computer on and was quite smart when it came to computers. I received many emails from him when I was on the campaign trail trying to get him defeated because of his stance on Bison.

          • avatar Jeff N. says:

            SB,

            This is way off topic, but since you are a resident of the North Fork (I’m pretty sure you stated that ), do you spend any time at the “Northern Lights Saloon”? I’ve been ther twice…88′ and 09’…great little place.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jeff,

            Have been there many times over the years

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          SB,

          I have also heard this comment of paper letters vs. emails. I believe it is true. Unfortunately, it is too easy to send an email, and my understanding is that people who write actual letters are figured to be more serious, so that they take the time to write. Thus, a paper letter is “weighted” with more value than an email or petition for that matter.

          Take the time and write a real letter!

          • avatar Salle says:

            It is true that paper letters get more attention. I try to visit these guys whenever possible, in person. Sometimes they actually come out of their caverns and show their faces to their constituents. But, in Montana, I find they still only send stupid form letters telling you, in veiled lingo, “…too bad you don’t agree with me and the folks who give me money but you’re wrong and we are going to do what those with money want so piss off. Feel free to contact me again for more of the same.”

  20. avatar IDhiker says:

    Mark Gamblin(IDFG),

    I was reviewing the IDFG 2011 elk report. I noticed that when elk population goals are usually not met in any given area, it is usually bulls that fall short, not cows.

    I’m wondering if that could be a sign of over-hunting / human harvest in those areas. Clearly, many hunters desire bulls over cows, and bulls always are in lesser numbers to begin with. I can’t imagine why wolves or other predators would favor bulls.

    I realize there may be a number of reasons for this disparity. But, certainly in the backcountry areas, primarily used by outfitters, bulls would be the animal of choice for their clients. Perhaps the bull ratio to cows desired by IDFG is in error and unnaturally high??

    I am just wondering why cow numbers are acceptable while bull numbers would not be. It seems to me that wolf predation would drop both bulls and cows below acceptable numbers if they preyed on them equally.

    Also, awhile back I asked you a question about the Lolo Zone and the wolf killing goals of IDFG. According to the Nez Perce report, as I recall, only 31 wolves were actually counted in that area. I wondering why the quota goal is twice that number. Is IDFG using a formula to estimate a larger number off the number seen? It would seem to me that if IDFG is doing that, there is a possibility of error.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “I noticed that when elk population goals are usually not met in any given area, it is usually bulls that fall short, not cows”

      I must admit IDHiker, in all the homes and business establishments I’ve been in over the years in Montana, I’ve never seen a cow elk head hanging on anyone’s wall.

      We hear a lot about elk cow/calf ratios being down in some areas, maybe…. just maybe, it might have something to do with a lack of quality bulls around to “impress” the ladies.

      There’s certainly been enough scientific evidence over the years (and not just in the human species 🙂 when it comes to females…. and settling for less.

      • avatar SAP says:

        Nancy wrote that low cow/calf ratios “might have something to do with a lack of quality bulls around to “impress” the ladies.”

        Fairly unlikely. I could see three ways that would work out:

        1) The Allee Effect — that is, with other constraints held constant, a small population continues to decline, most likely due to difficulty finding mates. I could see this happening with wolverines. A highly mobile herd animal like elk — not likely until the population was very very small and very remote from other elk populations.

        2) Genetic problems leading to infertile bulls. A different problem from the Allee Effect, but in the same general category of bad things that happen to tiny populations. Again, not likely a problem with Rocky Mountain elk populations, but who knows?

        3) Picky cow elk turning down “unimpressive” suitors. Can’t rule it out, but . . .

        • avatar Salle says:

          A factor: Herd behavior. Elk usually “divi-up” until mating time. Males hang around with males or go off alone and females take their young and keep together with a few young bulls among them. During the rut, the bulls compete for more than one mate, a harem is formed. After that I am not certain but perhaps the group thing has a specific order of reproduction that is not easily detect by humans…?

          (After the rut, the bulls go find some place to get over the hangover for much of the winter and travel rather far.)

          The selection process may be more complex than anticipated.

          Just a thought.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          +3) Picky cow elk turning down “unimpressive” suitors. Can’t rule it out, but+

          Maybe the “unimpressive” suiters are family (father, brother or son) SAP and because bulls are highly sought after during hunting season, the pool of suiters isn’t that great during the rut.

          An interesting example – I have a 2 year old spayed female dog and a friend has her brother, he’s nuetered. I also have an 8 year old spayed female (no relation) when we get them out for walks, the male is “hot” on the tail 🙂 of the 8 year old. Everytime she pees, he has to pee on that spot but, he could care less when his sister takes a pee. Recognition of family?

          Inbreeding is the norm with livestock because its forced on them (maybe why preg testing is so important?) but I have a feeling its not the norm in many species of wildlife.

          While elk numbers are not down in most areas, as habitat is lost (thru development, overhunting areas, etc.) groups do splinter up, and the opportunity to find “suitable” mates could be a factor.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            For elk and deer, pregnancy rates are maintained at surprisingly low bull:cow ratios. Inbreeding is not a legitimate issue for managed elk or deer populations. Bull elk numbers being below management objectives is – a management issue corrected most often by adjustments to bull elk hunting opportunity – to meet desired objectives for bull elk hunting opportunity.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      IDhiker –
      Not sure what you refer to regarding a Lolo Zone wolf quota. No quota for this hunting/trapping season. Hunting is generally the most important source of mortality affecting management objectives. I can’t say with certainty now, but my guess is that predation affects are greater for cow elk than bull elk.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Hmmm, unless I’m mistaken, Mark, I seem to have seen published figures somewhere that indicated IDFG wanted to kill at least 60 wolves in the Lolo Zone this winter, which I thought seemed quite excessive since only 31 were actually observed. Am I wrong about the 60?

        Regarding cow vs. bull numbers, I had wondered if hunters had caused the decline of bull numbers in areas where cow numbers were within department objectives and bulls beneath. Of course, the lesser bull numbers caused the areas to be classed as “not meeting objectives.” If wolves kill more cows than bulls, it would seem to be a possibility. This could easily be managed by IDFG with management of hunter harvest. If these bull numbers were higher, the number of areas not meeting objectives would be very small statewide.

        Also, have you seen the results of the first six months of the West Fork Bitterroot calf-survival study recently published in the Ravalli Republic newspaper? Everyone down here in the “Root” has been blaming wolves for the decline in calf survival, but, that has not been the case. Of the calves killed by predation so far, 22 were by cougars, 11 by black bears and 2 by wolves. Researchers say that the proportions of calves killed by predators may change as calves grow larger, but that the number of tagged calves is now so small it may not be a reliable study number. They were surprised by the numbers killed by cougars.

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          Mark,

          I did a little research and found in the IDFG News, June 2011, Volume 23, #6, that a “minimum” of 40-50 wolves were the objective for this season from the Lolo Zone. Being a minimum, doesn’t that seem excessive seeing how only 31 animals have been actually documented?

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Also, in the “Wildlife News,” December 9th, Ralph wrote that IDFG wanted to kill 50-60 wolves in the Lolo Zone this season.

            Is Ralph wrong?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            I wouldn’t say anyone is wrong regarding the frequently quoted and variable number of wolves to be removed from the Lolo Zone. The Idaho Fish & Game News article (“Lolo Zone Wolf Control Action Under Way”) you cite above says specifically:
            “…Fish and Game wants to reduce the population in the Lolo Zone to 20 to 30 wolves in three to five packs over the next year. … A minimum of 40 to 50 wolves would be removed during the first year. Removal during subsequent years would be lower, but variable depending on wolf abundance.”

            The number to focus on is the management objective of 20 to 30 wolves in three to five packs. Ultimately the reduction of Lolo wolf numbers will be based on a sustained 70-75% reduction in current numbers to achieve a lasting reduction in wolf numbers for that management zone.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          IDhiker –
          Semantics getting in the way of good communications – perhaps. A quota and a management objective are differnt concepts. No wolf harvest/kill/take quota this year – which means no predetermined number at which the season would close. A management objective in this case is the target number for wolves to be maintained at in the Lolo Zone.
          As I said, hunting is often the most important cause of falling below bull elk managment objectives and, when so, is easily corrected by lowering bull elk hunting opportunity and harvest.
          I havnen’t seen the Montana research results yet. Each management issue/challenge has individual and variable factors in play. We know that bears and cougars continue to contribute to cow and calf elk mortality in the Lolo Zone. However, those predators account for a small fraction of the total predation loss of cow and calf elk in the Lolo Zone.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Ok, Mark, but there are some apparent problems here. Only 31 wolves are known for sure to be in the Lolo, but I’ll concede there are probably more. But with no “harvest/kill/take quota,” and “no predetermined number at which the season will close,” how can you aim for 20-30 wolves in three to five packs with such vague concepts? And, assuming IDFG wants to remove 40 to 50 animals this year, that means IDFG is estimating there is a current population of 60 to 80 wolves in the Lolo, well beyond the actual 31 counted. And, with no actual standards to go by, the number of wolves could theoretically be reduced to zero in the Lolo. And, please, don’t repeat the mantra that the season will be closed when enough animals are killed, when that number is unknown.

  21. avatar Alan Gregory says:

    It’s all very sad, especially when one reads about “quotas” and “the harvest.” Both are favorite terms of the “game” agency PR pros. In my years of covering the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s work before moving earlier this year to Vermont I came across these terms all the time. It’s all about selling licenses and tags and putting the royalties into the agency budget. And to heck with “ecosystem services” and the role of predators in an ecosystem.

  22. avatar JR says:

    I would like to put my 2 cents in here about the general difficulty of hunting wolves from the hunters point of view. I have just returned from a week long wolf hunting trip to the Stanley and Salmon areas. We found plenty of wolf sign, fresh kills, fresh tracks, etc. We were somewhat successful in calling in the wolves with predator calls, although in every instance that wolves actually came into the call, it was only after 40 minutes or more of consistent calling from one location. The wolves that did come in did so under cover and rarely presented themselves for any semblance of a clean shot, and even then they were moving. I personally never had an opportunity for a clean shot, but did see several wolves within 300 yards, and one at about 75 yards on a dead run. My friend who was with me did have a shot that he could have taken at 125 yards where the wolf had stopped to howl at us, but the wolf moved before he could take it. (I do resent the implication that All Wolf hunters are out there with high powered rifles shooting wolves across vast distances. We did not have any sets that would have allowed any shots further than 400 yards, and I personally dont know of hunters who would be comfortable taking longer shots than that, all though I know they do exist.) All in all, from our brief experiences this week, I would deduce that there is a healthy population of wolves in both areas we hunted. But my subjective observations should in no way be used to completely asceratain the actual number of wolves in the Stanley or Salmon areas. I will say this though, the wolves are by far the most difficult quarry I have hunted yet.

    In reference to the issue of the difficulty level of hunting the wolves, I remember reading this post last week;

    “As for Rtobasco, that is a huge exaggeration that wolves are literally knocking on folks’ doors in central Idaho. I’ve heard that a long time. Then there comes a hunt and they can’t find them.”

    Ralph, I respect your intellectual viewpoint on the matter at hand, but you have eluded to this idea several times that somehow the hunting success or rather lack of success should be representative of actual wolf numbers, and that in fact because the hunters haven’t harvested as many wolves as expected, that should in turn mean that the wolf populations have been equally exaggerated.

    As a hunter, who has hunted many of the same areas that I see your Google Earth photos of, my opinion is that wolves as a prey are much more wily than the majority of our hunters have experience hunting. Having hunted elk for years, I find that in general they can take quite a bit of hunting pressure before leaving an area. Even an inexperienced hunter can find success if he plays his cards right when it comes to hunting elk or deer, especially with a rifle (I typically hunt them with a bow). Wolves on the other hand, seem to have such broad ranging home areas that it is virtually impossible to ascertain any sort of a pattern, and any slight hunting pressure can send them into the next county. Wolves also seem to recognize general hunting techniques that they employ themselves, and out of instinct will (again in my opinion) stay clear of a hunter in a stalk mode, but will pay little attention to a hiker or mere camper not exhibiting hunting activities. This may explain why it seems easier to see wolves in a passive sense rather than when you are actively hunting them. I have talked to a number of hunters this year that saw wolf after wolf during their pre-season scouting activities or hikes with their families, but once the season opened were hard pressed to find even one. My own personal experience is that wolves are quite a bit more skittish than other animals. Elk and deer will often exhibit the “deer in the headlights” syndrome if they are spotted from the road, which gives some hunters the chance to “road hunt” (Im not implying at night mind you) but the only time I have ever seen wolves from the road, it was only for a moment and they never gave me a chance to even stop the truck to snap a photo. Ultimately, I think it is unwise to use harvest statistics of wolves as any sort of definition of total wolf populations, as the data will be subjective at best. There is no way in my mind to quantify the general hunting abilities of Idaho, Wy, or MTs hunters, when wolves have been off their radar for so many years. Chalk it up to the hunters inexperience, or the wiliness of the wolves, either way there are far more wolves in our woods than are being shot by hunters.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Honestly JR? IMHO, Your obsevations don’t amount to a hill of beans to those of us who’d much rather see/hear/ experience wolves in the wild.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        I thought it was a well thought out explanation from a hunters viewpoint, I didn’t read anything derogatory in his statement on his experience hunting wolves, which are legal animals right now.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          I agree.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          +I have just returned from a week long wolf hunting trip to the Stanley and Salmon areas+

          Sorry SB, just couldn’t get past that sentence.

          While I do try and respect the “putting food in the freezer” mentality when it comes to the need to hunt, this is just an example of killing for the sport of it.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Nancy,

            He made no statement about that aspect of the hunt, I know of two locals in my area that are thrilled they got wolves, it was not a trophy hunt, but as distasteful as it may be to some, these wolves were butchered and put in the freezer for food.

          • avatar JR says:

            I have a legal right to hunt a wolf (or two if I buy the extra tag) and you have a legal right to your opinion to oppose my choice. Isnt America great? We are both free on this accord.

      • avatar Daniel Berg says:

        I didn’t really take this comment as anti-wolf, necessarily. I suppose it could be taken as such if you are of the opinion that a wolf hunters must be anti-wolf.

      • avatar JR says:

        Nancy,

        I too enjoy seeing and hearing wildlife in the wild, it is one reason that I enjoy hunting so much. I even enjoy hearing wolves in the wild, no different than I enjoy seeing and hearing elk or deer. Just because I choose to hunt a legal game animal does not mean that I am anti- or against the preservation or managment of that animal. To the contrary, I believe that hunting in our modern sense is essential as a rational means of maintaining the balances necessary in populations. Prior to human interaction with animals in general, Im sure that they would have gotten along just fine by themselves, but Im sorry to report that those days are long past. And unless we as humans all collectively agree to live on the moon or something, there will always be a coexistence with the animals that will require management of their populations. You yourself, by your very existance are taking up a space that thousands of years ago was occupied by beasts and not man. Are you willing to give up your own stake in this equation? Take the area of Southeastern Idaho, rather the Snake River Plane for example; before man, that whole area was elk and deer winter range. Yes, the wolves and elk coexisted just fine during that period without any interaction from humans. But the elk herds were far more prolific than they are today, and they had far more areas of retreat and safety than they do today, so now that we as mankind has introduced ourselves into the equation, it is no longer fair to suppose (on the elk’s behalf) that an unmanaged and rampant wolf population would be prudent. 200 years ago the elk by their sheer numbers could stand in an equilibrium with the wolf packs, and the wolves were even a necessity for maintaining that balance. But today, things are different, and to suggest a policy that we simply let the wolves range and populate unchecked is simply ignorant, and unless you have a plan to remove all the human inhabitants from the equation, is no more natural than a mixture of oil and water. To suggest a simple ‘live and let live’ policy concerning wolves is to put arbitrary undue pressure on the prey that they would in due turn kill in ever increasing numbers as their own population grew. To say I am anti wolf on these premise is no different to say that you are anti-elk by your desire for unmitigated and unchecked population growth of the wolf packs.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          JR – you will have to forgive me if I somehow implied you were anti-wolf.

          For some reason when you originally posted (with your 3 questions) I got the impression that you were not only seeking, but had a real interest, as to why some of us here feel the way we do about the controversy surrounding wolves.

          Obviously my mistake 🙂 Just voicing my opinion – Live and live – seems to be a hard thing to hear (since you’ve repeated it a few times) to those who’ve had their way with hunting (and access to paid agencies willing and able to control/ manage/ mandate/manipulate) those living, breathing public resources, although I have tendancy to look at them as other species we share the planet with, that are too often forgotten in the big mix when mankind doles out more and more ways to utilize and exploit “their” existence.

          Ecosystems are crashing all around us because of mankind’s desire to be the top predator, time to wake up, don’t you think?

          • avatar JR says:

            Nancy, what do you mean that ecosystems are crashing all around us because of mankind’s desire to be the top predator? What ecosystem that has crashed because of hunting are you referring to?

            Just a thought here, but you have some pretty harsh words against humans that choose to hunt for food or otherwise, but yet you seem to have no problem with other animals that hunt. In your mind, what is the difference between a human hunter and a wolf or cougar hunter. Both are taking a life. What in your eyes is the difference?

            As I have indicated in my posts, I am very pro animals. I love to watch, photography, and even hunt a variety of critters. Many other hunters are much like myself, and we represent a significant power for good when it comes to preserving what is necessary to allow our children’s children to have the same benefits from the animal kingdom that we enjoy, if not better.

          • avatar JR says:

            Nancy,

            In reference to my original three questions, you are right, I truly am interested to hear everyone’s basic points of view on this subject, I think it would add a lot of context to this forum. I also think it would be valuable for everyone to compare their current opinions of what to do now and in the future with the original wolf population goals set and agreed upon by representatives from both camps all those many years ago. Perhaps if each side is honest with themselves, they may realize that the original expectations have been met, or not, and I suppose that could be a good topic for discussion. Perhaps one side or the other would have to (again if they were honest within themselves) concede that their own personal expectations have far exceeded the original goals, and that perhaps there in lies some of the current conflict.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            JR,

            I have found your posts to be reasoned and sincere. You are a good representative of hunters on this site. However, I think it is unfortunate that most of the press in Idaho and Montana is given to the extreme anti-wolf faction represented by people such as Gillet and Bridges, who, in my opinion, give all hunters a black eye.

            I, of course, have no illusions that these men are representative of hunters in general and believe they are a small minority. They do seem, however, to have taken over with the legislatures in both states. The unfortunate thing is that people such as yourself seem, and I mean “seem,” to have been mostly silent, allowing the whole process to be hijacked by extremists.

            I think what is needed is for people like you to take more control of the situation and have more visibility with the Idaho press and at IDFG commission meetings. You have indicated that you are more a “middle of the road” hunter, not a “kill all the wolves” type, and that you accept and enjoy the wolves in the woods, but believe they should be managed to a larger degree than wolf advocates.

            I have never been immune from the fact that wolves would be hunted in Idaho and Montana. However, in my opinion, this is where your credibility is to be put on the line. What sort of management do you support? The implication in your posts is that you do not support the “winner take all” mentality in current politics, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. But, unfortunately, that is what I believe has happened here. When wolf supporters had Idaho and Montana agencies hamstrung with litigation, the feeling was probably the same on that side also, but once the rider was passed, I believe that the Idaho F&G was sent in the opposite direction and “winner takes all.”

            There was a time when the IDFG director stated that he felt the IDFG should aim for a statewide population of 500-600 wolves, back when compromise might have been necessary, so that was apparently acceptable to him at the time. Of course, once the rider was through and “pro-wolf” litigants had no further options, Idaho dropped both the spirit of compromise and the 500-600 number, and went for the extreme reduction plan we see today.

            “…of what to do now and in the future with the original wolf population goals set and agreed upon by representatives from both camps all those many years ago.”

            I take from this comment of yours that you favor the minimum 150 population number. Is this the case? Whether that was in the original paperwork isn’t as important to me as the idea that we should take a more middle ground and compromising approach, where both sides are not totally happy, but reasonably content. My idea is that IDFG should strive to have the largest number of wolves in the state that will not adversely affect populations of other game animals, primarily elk. 150 is just a number.

            I will appreciate your comments on the direction of the current IDFG management direction.

        • avatar JR says:

          IDhiker,

          I too appreciate your sound sense of reason and willingness to debate on merits of fact vs fiction.

          You said; “My idea is that IDFG should strive to have the largest number of wolves in the state that will not adversely affect populations of other game animals, primarily elk.”

          I would have to say I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. But, I also think that there is perhaps an impossible amount of data and research that would have to go in to determining that perfect number, and ultimately a decision would have to be made; do we err on the side of the wolves or do we err on the side of elk? My opinion is simply that we err on the side of the elk, as if their population were to dip too low, in turn the wolf population would likely suffer as well, so it would make sense in my mind to maintain a wolf population lesser than or equal to what is necessary to not “adversely affect populations of other game animals, primarily elk.” Furthermore, there is some argument as to define what it would mean to “adversely affect populations” to some hunters, the loss of even one elk is to many, and by definition they would argue that the loss of that one elk has ‘adversely affected the population’ For me, the jury is out personally, I have not read enough conclusive data to affirm for my own mind how many wolves per elk are acceptable. But again, I would be for the erring on the side of caution so as to not put accidental undue pressure on the elk and other populations, on ranchers, on hunters, etc.

          You said; “I take from this comment of yours that you favor the minimum 150 population number. Is this the case? Whether that was in the original paperwork isn’t as important to me as the idea that we should take a more middle ground and compromising approach, where both sides are not totally happy, but reasonably content.”

          To this comment I say that no, I am not necessarily in favor of one number or another, as you read above I feel that more work, time, and data needs to be resolved to properly educate myself as to what the perfect number of equilibrium may be. I brought up my reference to that original minimum for several reasons. First of all, I hope that people in the extreme pro-wolf camp can see that the wolves have done better than originally anticipated, and are a much more resilient animal than many of them give credit, and the fear mongering that if we don’t succeed here they wolves will succumb to extinction is just not the case. Secondly, I believe that there are many sportsmen and ranchers who would prefer a minimum impact of wolves who feel that they have been duped, cheated, or mislead. I believe they feel they were promised in the beginning that the minimum number accurately reflected the eventual outcome, but now they see numbers of wolves far in excess of those original numbers, and all they hear from the pro-wolf camp is ‘more wolves, more wolves, more wolves’ and I can see their point of view that they fear that the opposite camp will never be satisfied. This feeling of betrayal can explain much of the animosity of the current debate. Regardless of what perfect number of wolves that I would feel is acceptable personally, I am a staunch advocate of “keeping ones word” and if the general public was promised 150 wolves, and instead got 300, or 500, or 1000 wolves, then they were mislead, and that is not right.

          As far as the current IDFG direction on the management of wolves, my opinion after talking with their employees is that they do not seek the eradication of all wolves any more than you or I do. Unfortunately, they seem to be an easy scapegoat for many of the pro-and anti wolf attacks. I approve of the hunting of the wolves to stay within that hypothetical equilibrium that we both agree on, but again, where does than line lie? (in reference to how many wolves are acceptable) I also believe that until recently, the IDFG has had its hands tied as to being able to control the management of the wolves, and I would expect that in this time period following, they are working hard to play catch up, and to no fault of their own. I would suggest that if the extreme pro-wolf camp hadn’t forced the issue out of state control, the wolf numbers could have been more moderately gauged and maintained slowly over a broad period of time, which would likely have eliminated the need for current emergency actions like the air gunning of wolves in Lolo, two tags per hunter, and other changes that Im sure the pro-wolf camp does not particularly enjoy, but ultimately are responsible for themselves.

          As to persons such as myself voicing more of their opinions, I again whole heartedly agree. When I speak on this issue with other concerned citizens and sportsmen, I rarely encounter one with as extreme a view (on either side) as I have read on this forum, but the reality (and this is no excuse for not being involved) is that most of these people are busy, hardworking, middleclass citizens that are having enough of their own problems and other priorities just ‘keeping food on the table’ (in the middle of a recession) than to be able to go out and join their voice in with other moderate voices on this subject. How do you propose we effectively motivate them to join in this discussion? Another reason that many shy away from this and other political arguments is that so often on the extreme ends, there is too much of Demonizing going on. On this forum alone, how many times have hunters been demonized for example? Most sensible hardworking Americans don’t enjoy rolling up their sleeves and getting in a knock down drop out fight. So if the opposing ends of the argument would like the input from the middle, they need to cease the cheap shots, the vulgar accusations, the demonizing, belittling, etc. There is also a general distrust of the “system” that makes many of them feel that their efforts would be wasted and fruitless anyways, (for example being promised 150 wolves, and getting more) They feel that they would come to the discussion, voice their opinions, come to a compromise, and then the ‘powers that be’ would just do whatever they want anyways. Furthermore, the vocal minority always seems to have the most time to put into advancing or fighting an issue, and again in reference to the average (majority) American, who is busy with work, getting their kids to piano lessons, tending homework, honey do lists, etc etc etc, it seems an impossible task to compete with that vocal minority who seems to have nothing better to do that sit at a computer and blog about all the social woes they can think of. How do you propose we combat those feelings?

          I would also like to hear your opinions on some of the other posts I have made, ie the demonizing of Ranchers and F&G and hunters, etc.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Jr,

            Thank you for your response. As far as defining what I mean by “adversely” affecting elk herds, I mean causing herds to dip below the stated numbers that IDFG recommends for each area. For a person, for example a hunter, to bemoan the loss of even one elk, I think that is unrealistic and just as extreme as some on the pro-wolf side. Going that far will never make one happy, just like those who expect no wolves to die. As far as wolf numbers, I believe the number that would not adversely affect elk numbers is significantly above 150. Even today,the majority of elk areas are within recommended numbers, and of those that aren’t, several are only below because of too much hunter harvest of bulls. And, this with all the wolves we have today.

            I am disappointed that you seem to be pressing for a population close to the 150 minimum. We have to realize that much of this conflict over wolves is political, and the original 150 number was, too. I believe IDFG knows Idaho can support more, as per the directors earlier position of 500-600 wolves in the state. I remember a member of the legislature saying at the time that the legislature would never accept the directors number, and they would insist on 150. Which is what has happened. Of course, the legislature is dominated by special interests (aren’t they all), that naturally would oppose wolves. I believe if you are advocating the minimum, then you are not willing to compromise, but are, unfortunately, subscribing to the “winner takes all” attitude you have previously criticized.

            I have always known and expected wolves to be hunted. But, my concept of wolf hunting was that wolves would be treated and respected as an intelligent big game animal, whereas now Idaho, meaning some hunters and state government, are treating them as “varmints” to be eliminated by almost any means possible. This is, in my opinion, because IDFG is trying to do “too much, too fast.” I think a more careful, patient approach would be better. When I mentioned to you that more reasoned hunters needed to reclaim their position from the anti-wolf extremists, part of what I meant was taking back your good name from people such as Gillet and Bridges who have hijacked the sport, if you will, and are giving it a poor image.

            I don’t demonize hunters or the IDFG. I used to hunt, and had some great experiences hunting in the Bob Marshall, Frank Church, and Selway-Bitterroot. While I no longer can ethically kill animals myself, and for that matter, I don’t eat meat anymore either, I can understand why others hunt. There was nothing more enjoyable than a wilderness pack camp. I do, however, disapprove of the attitudes that promote the killing of wolves based on ideology or mindless hatred, which is what too often makes the news. I realize people are busy, but this is where people like yourself need to take the time to write letters to the editor, attend meetings, etc., to stem the tide of these extreme people from the hunter side.

            IDFG is for me, a love/hate relationship. I have met a number of wardens in the field, and all have been professional, except for one. That particular one didn’t want to talk to me as I wasn’t hunting. I believe the men and women in the field are doing the best job they can, and I don’t envy them, considering the circumstances. Unfortunately, and I realize all agencies are this way, they are controlled by politicians lacking the training and expertise, so sometimes decisions are made that I find not in the best interests of the wildlife, but rather benefiting other special interests represented by the politicians. I think there is a lot of this going on in Idaho and Montana, currently.

          • avatar JR says:

            IDhiker,

            Your definition of “adversely affecting elk” while a perfectly reasonable and perhaps even one that I could agree with, is Im sure still going to be hotly debated. There are many on the Hunter’s side of the argument that have whined at F&G for years that they aren’t managing the elk herds up to numbers that they (as hunters) would like to see. There are others who would like to see F&G even reduce the elk numbers substantially. So even from your definition, I think we can both agree that there would still be much to negotiate. Some would also argue that even before the wolves were re-introduced, the F&G was having trouble keeping numbers of elk up due to the advance of climate change, loss of habitat to development, etc. So therefore, those same would argue that the wolves in any number will only exacerbate an already declining population over time. My personal opinion is that, were it possible from an ecological standpoint, to have more elk than there are now, I would appreciate that as a hunter.

            Here is some anecdotal personal evidence of a potential impact of the wolves; In the early 2000s, not more than a decade ago, rarely a morning could pass (where I was in Island Park) during the September Elk Rut and coinciding Bow hunting season, where I didnt hear a half dozen different bulls bugling from sunup to around 10 am. There is not a sound in the wild that I find more invigorating and beautiful than the call of bull elk. I frequently tell my associates that, “I could care less if I harvest something, so long as they are ‘talking’” (bugling) unfortunately, as the 2000s wore on and we began to see ever increasing evidence of wolves, I began to hear fewer and fewer bugles, until last year, (the last year I hunted Island park,) I heard two bugles the entire month!!! I was on the hill over 20 days out of 30, in multiple areas, and I only heard TWO bugles. Think how I must feel, here is a sport that I love, and one that I love because of the closeness it brings me to nature, and yet one of the primary reasons I enjoy it has dwindled beyond recognition. Now, Im not suggesting that the wolves ate all the elk, and that’s why I didn’t hear anything, and I recognize that there could be other contributing factors, but the timing was impeccable. I can easily see why many hunters can blame the wolves for such an occurrence. So, when I hear people advocate for the plight of the wolf, it reminds me of what I have lost. My loss is great, hearing the elk bugle on a cold crisp autumn morning was one of my most favorite past times of my life. All I would have you to understand here by this example is that there is some context to the animosity you feel against the wolves. Many feel that they and their rights were imposed upon for the sake of an animal and its rights. Do I agree with ALL of their opinions? Of course not. I have already stated that I have no problem with some wolves being here, in a number that I have yet to determine in my own mind. But I can, and I hope you can see where they are coming from.

            As far as the 150 number, I would appreciate it if you would refrain from putting words into my mouth. I did not say that I agreed with that number one way or another. All I said was that, regardless of what number you or I would prefer, the public was promised one thing and got another. It is a bald faced lie for a politician, special interest group, or individual to say one thing, and then do another. If the general public was promised 150 wolves, then that is what they should have gotten. If after a time it was again agreed upon by the general public to increase or decrease that original number, it was up to them to let their legislators know to do so. If it truly was the end game of the pro-wolf crowd to accept the compromise of 150 wolves back then, with the eventual goal of weaseling in additional wolf numbers later on, then that was deceptive on their part and only compounds the animosity between to groups. Furthermore, I don’t agree with you that accepting a 150 number would be a winner take all scenario. ZERO wolves would be a winner take all scenario. 150 represents more wolves than many in the extreme anti-wolf crowd would want, so if you were to divide a ‘winner take all’ between pro and anti wolf groups, and suggest that the winner was the anti wolf group, then they still would not be happy with 150 wolves. The winner take all scenario here is either no wolves (to the benefit of the anti wolf crowd) or Unlimited wolves, un-managed, with no hunting (to the benefit of the pro wolf crowd) Either of these extremes would represent to me a ‘winner take all’ scenario, and ultimately either would only serve the extreme fringes of either side. A middle ground scenario, a compromise would be somewhere in the middle. 150 wolves, 300 wolves, 1000 wolves? I don’t know, Im not a biologist. I also think that a middle ground scenario would allow for some hunting. I also think that the number should be one that the majority of the people in the affected states can agree with.

            As for the Legislature being catered to by special interests, that may be so, but I don’t agree with the implication that they are wholly corrupt and incapable of voicing the opinions of the people they represent. In your opinion, do you believe the general majority of the population in the fair state of Idaho is overall in favor or against the re-introduction of wolves? I believe that the attitudes in the Legislature, while certainly voicing the concerns of the special interests (who are their constituents as well) are also voicing the general tenure of the public’s opinion on the matter. Regardless of what you or I believe on the matter, the legislature should do what the MAJORITY would have them do. If the majority is wrong on the subject, then it is up to folks like you and I to properly educate them. But, understand that I fear a “correct” minority much more than an “incorrect” majority being in control. If this country goes the way of its decisions being made only to represent the few (albeit well meaning) then that is only a few steps away from us losing many of our liberties. I wish there was a way to poll every person in the states of ID, MT, and WY to find out what the general opinion on this matter was. I would also like to know a comprehensive number of people whose lives have changed for the better because of the wolves and the number of people whose lives have changed for the worse because of the wolves. Regardless of yours or my political or ethical views on the subject of wolves, I think we both could agree that if ultimately the re-introduction of wolves hurts more people than it helps, then that is a dire affect that was not taken into account unfortunately.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            JR,

            Sorry, I posted this reply to you in the wrong place:

            I used the IDFG recommended numbers of elk per hunting area in my comment because, and I’d like to believe this is true, that IDFG professionals know how many elk an area can support, and that they had some biological reasons to arrive at those numbers. Whether hunters want more was not part of my point.

            As far as anecdotal evidence, my wife and I spent nine days along the Middle Fork Salmon three years ago in late April into May. In the first week we backpacked down river from Thomas Creek to the Flying B. We counted slightly over one-thousand elk, innumerable deer, and one wolf. This after hearing how decimated the herd was in there. We thought how silly all this talk was about wolves eating everything. In addition, we saw many more elk higher on the slopes from the plane as we flew in, which we could never see from the river trail.

            I respectfully disagree with your contention that 150 wolves is not the bottom, but that zero is. 150 is the bottom because it is the bare minimum mandated by law, and Idaho cannot go below it. Zero is not an option, even though some extremists want to go there. Since there are 650-800 wolves now, a middle ground would be somewhere between 150 and those numbers, perhaps 400-500 animals.

            Whether the legislature represents the will of the majority is also a question to consider. Polls that were done by Boise State University indicated that Idaho public opinion was fairly evenly split, not so in the legislature. Idaho is a conservative state, and conservative legislators are not usually advocates for environmental concerns. I have complained about this in the past, but hunters often vote for the same people that work to destroy the game range and habitat of the very animals they pursue, in effect, “shooting themselves in the foot.”

            Finally, I am sorry if I erred in judging that you are an advocate of reducing wolves down to 150. My belief was based on comments from you like the following:

            “I am a staunch advocate of “keeping ones word” and if the general public was promised 150 wolves, and instead got 300, or 500, or 1000 wolves, then they were mislead, and that is not right.”

            I think most people, after reading this, would make the same judgement I did. Re-reading your comments, you did not actually state you were for 150, but then again you never said you weren’t. Your comments such as the above give the wrong impression. Perhaps you should have stated more directly where you stand.

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      JR
      Your right all one has to do is look at success for Canadian and Alaska wolf hunters there is no way Montana or Idaho will ever reach a 200 wolf quota even when the population increases.
      The main problem here is the only thing that matters is they want more wolves and will say or do anything for that to happen. To bad they can’t shut off the computer and get out there to enjoy the wild.

      • avatar Daniel Berg says:

        Who are “they”, Bob? I read comments daily on this blog from people who have views regarding wolves that are much more complicated than just “they want more wolves and will say or do anything for that to happen”.

        I bet you wouldn’t even bother coming to this site if your statement were actually true.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      JR, you wrote, “Ralph, I respect your intellectual viewpoint on the matter at hand, but you have eluded to this idea several times that somehow the hunting success or rather lack of success should be representative of actual wolf numbers, and that in fact because the hunters haven’t harvested as many wolves as expected, that should in turn mean that the wolf populations have been equally exaggerated.”

      Thank you. Let me clarify. I believe that almost all of my comments with a remark on the lack of success hunting wolves refers to the the Lolo area of Idaho where Idaho Fish and Game has said there is a large wolf population, so large it makes recovery of the small elk herd there difficult.

      I do think wolves are abundant in other hunting units and wolf hunt success shows this is true, but in the Lolo even with the use of high tech tools such as radios that track frequencies and locations of radio collared wolves and the use of aircraft, the result has always been an expression of disappointment that more wolves were not taken, and that there are more out there that must be taken if the elk population is ever to recover.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        Ralph –
        I don’t recall IDFG references to a “large” wolf population in the Lolo Zone. The IDFG has documented documented the presence of resident and border wolf packs and a minimum verified number of wolves that comprise those wolf packs.
        The IDFG has further documented the verified effect of wolf predation on cow and calf elk which is primarily responsible for the continued decline in the Lolo Zone elk population – at a rate of over 11% per year.

        • avatar JB says:

          “Groen said eight of the state’s 29 elk hunting zones are below the department’s population objectives. He said five of those have significant wolf populations, including the Lolo, Selway and Sawtooth zones.”

          I don’t ever recall IDF&G using the term “large” in reference to wolves either. However, every press release I can find regarding wolves and elk in the Lolo implies (or explicitly states) that elk are under objective because wolves. The implication, of course, is that wolves are over objective, or in layman’s terms–the wolf population is large relative to the elk population. Am I missing something?

          http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/info/archieve/newspapers/viewnews.cfm?ID=6454

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB –
            Director Groen characterized those wolf populations as “significant” primarliy because of the documented impact of wolf predation on the respective elk populations. In that respect, the key point is not precisely how many wolves there are – it is the effect those local wolf populations are having on other highly valued wildlife resources.
            This goes to the heart of this ongoing debate about wolf numbers in the Lolo Zone. The actual number of wolves is less important than the role of wolf predation on other wildlife management objectives. I don’t believe IDFG explanations or characterizations of wolf packs and minimum number of wolves in the Lolo Zone imply, explicitly or otherwise, that wolf numbers are “large” relative to any wildlife population convention. Wolf presence and wolf predation effects simply are what they are.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            “Significant/Significance” has a couple of potential applications to this discussion: 1) statistical significance – as a value that is greater or lessor than a compared value, with certainty at some predetermined level of confidence to be real and not due to chance alone; 2) a value that lends substance and meaning to understanding a factual relationship or situation.
            Off the cuff, my words only. In this case, significantly more wolves than the minimum number reported means enough additional wolves to make a difference in understanding the impact of wolf predation on elk herds – e.g..

          • avatar JB says:

            “This goes to the heart of this ongoing debate about wolf numbers in the Lolo Zone. The actual number of wolves is less important than the role of wolf predation on other wildlife management objectives. I don’t believe IDFG explanations or characterizations of wolf packs and minimum number of wolves in the Lolo Zone imply, explicitly or otherwise, that wolf numbers are “large” relative to any wildlife population convention…”

            I’m confused? If the wolf population is not too “large” (relative to what IDF&G wants) in the Lolo, then why is IDF&G making such a concerted effort to reduce the wolf population in this area? If the “actual number of wolves is less important than the role of wolf predation” perhaps the IDF&G should consider initiating efforts to reduce elk predation that don’t involve reducing the “actual number of wolves”?

            When the agency goes around telling everyone that wolf numbers are two to three times what the agency would prefer, then I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that the population is “large” or “overabundant” relative to said agencies’ objective.

          • avatar WM says:

            I am thinking an extra 10 uncounted wolves might have the following impact.

            Doing the simple math with each wolf eating 12-23 ungulates a year between Nov and April (and of course more from May to Oct), that might be as many as 120 – 360 elk that are taken. Assuming, say 3/4 of those are additive kills that would be about 250 elk, maybe more.

            Now assuming a hunter success rate of 20% (1 in 5 hunters gets an elk), that would mean those 10 uncounted wolves would have the impact of at least 1250 additional hunters on the ground.

            In addition to the direct depredation loss, there is always that risk of predation that keeps some elk from eating as much to get thru winter, maybe keeps them on higher ground eating less nutritious browse instead of grasses, and going into winter with less body fat, making them easier prey for wolves, bears and cougar. Then there is those underweight calves in Spring because the cow mammas are skinnier/weaker, and they might be easier for those same predators, and maybe some coyotes to boot.

            Sure, you can disagree with the numbers of elk mortality and whether they are additive or compensatory. But the illustration and impact of uncounted wolves (because you can’t document them as being there by visual count each and every year) seems generally valid.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Hey Mark,

            Would you please give me a link to where I can access the predation study done for the Lolo? I am curious to know who did it, how extensive it was, and the methodology that was used. Thanks.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB –
            OK, in the context of more wolves than necessary to meet ecological objectives, including an elk population adequate to meet social desires for beneficial use – yes, it is appropriate to say the number of wolves in the Lolo Zone is “too large” to meet management objectives.

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          If the IDFG objective is 20 to 30 wolves in the Lolo, and that being after a 75% reduction, I would say that is a “large” pre-reduction population estimate.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            No – A population management objective is independent of assumptions of existing population size.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            True, but you are assuming a large population of wolves, never-the-less. To reduce 75% to 20-30 animals requires a starting population of around 80-120.

            I understand the objective and also the concept of whatever the number of wolves are, that they are having an effect on elk predation.

            To make this easier, IDFG should refrain form throwing out numbers such as 40-60, perhaps.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            It would seem that in the Lolo the actual number of wolves is important, unless you are not concerned about killing so many that the number is below the 20-30 objective. Not having knowledge of real numbers and then setting population goals is unrealistic. When will you know when to close a season? When 30 are killed? 50? It is also impossible to know how many animals are left in such a short time frame as one season. It seems to me that you are pushing ahead, giving it the max, and hoping for the best, and that things will work out OK.

            “Wolf presence and wolf predation effects simply are what they are.”

            By this statement, you imply that whether the population is large or small, the impact is what it is. I agree with that. However, depending on whether the population is large or small puts more or less weight on the impact of an individual wolf.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            We are not assuming a “large” wolf population. We assess wolf numbers annualy and report the number of observed and verified packs and individual wolves documented by trained observers. Emphais on MINIMUM. We know that there are significantly more wolves present that the reported number.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Sure, I agree there are more than the actual counted number. But how many? Perhaps without knowing what that number is, IDFG shouldn’t make statements regarding “75%” reductions to 20-30 animals, then. I guess you could avoid pitfalls like this by simply saying we’re going to reduce the wolves to 20-30 animals, period, whatever the total starting population is is, whether 40 or 100.

            But, again, as I have harped on for a long time, without knowing the number, it is impossible to know when to stop in order to have 20-30.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark, how do you define “significantly?”

      • avatar JR says:

        Thank you Ralph for you clarification. For my own edification on this matter, as I have not ever hunted the Lolo area and it sounds like you are familiar with it, is there a possibility that there is some unique factor to that area that makes it less easy to hunt wolves in or that would account for the lesser numbers being harvested other than the assumption that there are simply just fewer wolves there than F&G has anticipated? Perhaps its remoteness makes it prohibitive to the volume of hunters in other zones, perhaps other hunters have ceased to hunt there due to reduced elk numbers (thus creating fewer hunter/wolf confrontations) perhaps the denseness of the forested areas is greater than that in other areas, thus enabling the wolves more cover under which to avoid observation from the air or targeting from hunters on the ground? All I know for sure is that based on my experience from this past week, which again is very subjective at best, the wolves seemed to be expert at using the densest avenues of approach to conceal their movements, which therefore made them virtually impossible to identify until they were at very short range, but which in turn allowed them to identify us as a threat and leave unharmed. Perhaps the Lolo area has similar issues, or is even worse? Another observation I made, at least in the Stanley area, was that it appeared that a large number of elk had already moved down to their winter range areas, and could easily be seen from the Hwy. This in turn put the wolves within the same area, which made them all the more accessible to us. Most of our successful sets were not more than a quarter mile from the hwy. An area like Lolo with fewer roads may present a greater problem to hunters not prepared to go in deep enough to find the packs.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          JR,

          You wrote that you have never hunted the Lolo area so needed so information. Then you made some possible explanations for the low wolf hunt success other than there just not being many to shoot.

          The Lolo is really quite a variable place, and to me its major interest has always been for fishing. Streams like Kelly Creek are regionally famous.

          Some parts of the the Lolo are very difficult and hard to hunt/hike/whatever. These are cutover areas with strong regrowth, recently burned areas, steep areas (the relief is great), avalanche areas and roadless areas.

          However, the Lolo is not all deep wilderness, not by any means. For years wilderness advocates have been trying to establish a Great Burn Wilderness near the Bitterroot Divide where evidences of the Great Fires of 1910 and afterward are still in evidence. Much of this country is quite open. Other parts of Lolo are now mature forest, close to old growth forest that are bad habitat for elk. They are not especially difficult to walk in because the lower canopy is shaded out.

          So yes, this is more difficult country than around Stanley, which seems to be getting easier all the time will all the forest fires in lodgepole pine.

          However, there is some good road access into the Lolo as well as some fairly large roadless areas. I would say compare it to the Frank Church Wilderness which has no roads at all. The Frank is not as thick in general as the Lolo, but as a huge Wilderness area, it is hard to get into except with an airplane and still the wolf harvest is high.

          • avatar JR says:

            Ralph,

            Are there then, in your mind, any other possible reasons for low hunter wolf harvest in Lolo other than the assumption that the wolves are simply not there in the numbers expected by F&G?

            How many hunters frequent that area compared to the Frank, Salmon, or Stanley areas?

            How does the geographic size of the Lolo area compare to the Frank Church Wilderness and other areas? (how many wolves are taken per square mile in each?)

            I would also be interested to see harvest statistics of wolves, and how close or far they were harvested from known access points of any given area. You mention the Frank Church, and referenced that there have been some successful wolf harvests there, but I would be curious to know if in fact those wolves were harvested way way back in there (ie via getting in by plane), or if in reality it was mostly on the outskirts of the FC where access was easier.

            I know for me as a hunter living in SEastern ID, my budget and time only allows me to go so far from home to hunt or fish. It is only once in a blue moon that I get the opportunity to go someplace as far as Kamiah or elsewhere. Considering that the vast majority of the population of Idaho lives is the southern half of the state, perhaps the Lolo is just too far up there for many hunters to go, and in turn we see fewer wolf harvests… I dont have an answer, do you?

      • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

        I also find the discussion of what constitutes a “large” wolf population interesting. In interior Alaska, it has been pretty well documented that where there is more prey, there are more wolves. Vast areas, have low prey (primarily moose) densities, not just because of wolves but because of the combination of abundant bears and wolves. Wolves are often most abundant where they are hunted and trapped most heavily, like right around Fairbanks. Wolf control proponents, therefore, propose expanding that model out to vast areas where both wolf and prey populations are low. Far from arguing a completely hunting-centric view, they also espouse the benefits to tourism and the broader economy of creating an “Arctic Serengeti” where majestic ungulates as well as wolves would be more readily observed and enjoyed by all.

        So far, I have not really heard wildlife advocacy/protection groups take on this argument. They continue focusing their argument at motives: the “greedy guiding industry” catering to undeserving “nonresident trophy hunters” while steering well away from mention of more sympathetic beneficiaries (subsistence hunters) or the idea of enhanced wildlife viewing. What really do you want, wolf advocates? 1) more wolves, always more, 2) protection of all individual wolves, or 3) a “naturally” functioning system? All of the above? — may not be possible. If it is just number 1, then maybe there is room for compromise with predator control proponents after all. Westours may even get on board with that!

        My personal view is that humans usually lack the knowledge, patience and, these days, the resources to actively alter and manage complex natural systems to our liking sustainably over time — especially with a variable as resilient and elusive as the wolf, among others. The Arctic Serengeti exists only in the limited areas where sustainable conditions are in place over the long run to support it (i.e. naturally low grizzly bear density in the calving area, perhaps boosted by intensive ongoing public wolf trapping effort, and controlled by heavy, manageable, distributed moose hunting effort). There is no doubt that it can be fleetingly and perhaps expensively expanded to broader areas, but toward what end if not sustained? Pushing certain buttons may lead to an initial desired response, but what’s the plan for sustaining it? Is it good policy to spend money seeding expectations that cannot be sustained, whether by habitat limitation or elasticity of the predator community? The same questions are playing out in the NRM region, although perhaps not always recognized as such. It’s not so much whether there are many or few wolves in the Lolo region in absolute terms, or relative to prey availability (I assume more prey there would also mean more wolves) — but what variables if any can reasonably be controlled that will lead to long-term net benefit? The public likes to see action, but sometimes it’s in the broader best interest to say: “It is, what it is”.

        • avatar Doryfun says:

          Hey Seek,

          Good perspective. Often trying to eradicate invasives (as in the variety defined by a human value system, or any competitor for something desired by man, often back-fires into gaining more of the very things trying to be eliminated. ie. killing ground squirrels that respond with higher fecundity, etc.

          In trying to manage/control wolves, I still cannot bring myself to appreciate helicopter gunning. If no other controls are effective, and we are down to terrorism by aerial assualt, it seems a difficult cruelty to justify. (in my mind anyway).

          However, I doubt a wolf cares what method is used to kill it. The same result will be its destiny by the hand of man, whatever method is used. Perhaps it only matters by whatever terms or standards we use on ourselves, as an index to measure our own level of intelligence and compassion for other members in the business of ecosystem services.

          Nature taxes us, no matter what we do. Predator prey relationships, the bottomline to all life systems, (eat or be eaten)is alwasy difficult for man, who is always trying to figure out just where to stick his finger into the natural role of things.

  23. avatar JR says:

    I read this comment in an earlier post; They were speaking on the subject of the IDFG using helicopters as a platform from which to shoot wolves.

    “The only management tools they use anymore are lethal to the wolves, and they prefer to use helicopters and whatever gives them the greatest advantage in thrill killing on the job – at taxpayer expense.”

    Im sorry, but comments like this are inflammatory at worst, and improperly cited at best. Where is your proof that the motivation for state and fed employees is this “thrill killing” rather than an honest dedication to their jobs, and the proper management of the lands and animals within their control? If you have no proof, how dare you insinuate otherwise? I personally know many of the IDFG employees, and for example I have volunteered with them on a number of occasions, and in general I find that they are a highly educated, very moral bunch of individuals. What more, in comparison to the amount of education most of them have, they are under paid and over worked in my opinion, and only deserve our gratitude for the fine job they do considering that they generally do it with the proverbial ‘one hand tied’ behind their backs. They serve us diligently and I respect their sacrifices as I do our military and other law enforcement.

  24. avatar JR says:

    To those who speak with disdain towards the ranchers who argue against the wolves on a basis of the preservation of their own livestock; I am a hunter, who shares these public lands with these same ranchers. Although I do not agree with many of the outcomes of their ranching in general (who likes camping in a pile of cow manure, not me that’s for sure) and I would prefer to see elk and deer in the back country rather than a big black cow, but when it comes right down to it, until the legislature and courts say otherwise, they have a legal right to graze their cattle on these lands. Like it or not, a cow looks just as tasty to a wolf as would a deer or an elk. To try to minimize their losses is simply ignorant. Sure, there will be some that will take advantage of the issue, or blow things out of proportion, but for many of these small ranching operations, even the loss of one cow is significant. I live in the same communities as many of these people, and the impact of the wolves on their herds coupled with the general state of the economy is in my mind just not fair to them. I have personally seen wolves stalking ‘moo-cows’ on public land, and done my part to shoo them away (pre hunting season) but what happens when we aren’t looking? Unfortunately, many of these free range cattle aren’t within an area that their owners and ranch hands can easily see each of them on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. They may not know the loss of one, two, or ten cows out of a herd of a hundred for weeks or more. By that time the bones will have been picked clean by the crows, and nothing but the sheer pre-wolf cattle mortality and post-wolf cattle mortality numbers will be there to tell the story. If in fact, this whole wolf re-introduction is a round about way to “stick it to” the ranchers for their use of our public lands, then I say grow up and take your concerns to the legislature or courts where they belong. Some would argue that the wolves should have never been re-introduced at all, or that the wolves have no place in the NW US. Personally, I agree with those who regard them as a beautiful animal, and the howl of a distant wolf in the early morning hours is a thrill in of itself. But, they do need management (Which I believe includes a hunting season as is currently in place), and understanding for the imposition upon those whose livelihood has been affected is necessary, and a population balance needs to be maintained in a way that our other native herds need not suffer, nor our population of hunters and sportsmen who enjoy their pastime. Certainly a balance on all accounts can be reached with reasonable compromise and an avoidance of polarizing positions.

    • avatar IDhiker says:

      JR,

      “Certainly a balance on all accounts can be reached with reasonable compromise and an avoidance of polarizing positions.”

      I totally agree with this statement, JR, but I don’t think it has been reached. It’s been a “winner take all” situation for too long and still is. How to achieve this “reasonable compromise” is the question.

      • avatar JR says:

        IDhiker,

        Unfortunately, your comment about the “winner takes all” is so reflective of our current partisan politics, whether we are talking about wolves or any other issue it does seem to be that way doesn’t it. Seems like George Washington knew what he was talking about when he discussed the eventual woes if we fell into a partisan or party system. This and many other issues need not be as polarizing as they are, the most sensible solution most often falls far from the extremes, and somewhere in between. We are all citizens of this great country, why should I win and you lose, or visa versa?

    • avatar Jon Way says:

      JR,
      Given your comment:
      “Unfortunately, many of these free range cattle aren’t within an area that their owners and ranch hands can easily see each of them on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.”

      It is hard for many of us on this post to have sympathy for a rancher that doesn’t have access to their livestock within a monthly basis, on our public land. Sure they may currently have a right to graze their but if they can’t practice husbandry skills then many of us don’t think wolves should pay for their lives for killing unmanaged cattle on our public lands.

      • avatar JR says:

        Well, then, lets not look at the extreme end of my example; would you have sympathy for ranchers who have their eye on their cattle on a daily or weekly basis and still lose them to wolves? Are you saying that your sympathy for them is based upon their own due diligence in preventing wolf attacks of their own accord? What do you have to say to the rancher who takes every reasonable precaution, but still loses stock to predation? Also, what would you consider to be a reasonable amount of due diligence, assuming that each additional effort undertaken likely costs additional time, money, manpower etc to enforce, to what end is it fair to impose on their livelihood? At some point it no longer becomes cost effective I would suppose. Sure, if you had a hired Hand for each individual cow, and each Hand had a rifle, then they would never lose a single cow to wolves, but obviously such an extreme example would be too costly, and therefore impossible to implement. What then would in your view be enough measures that they could undertake, that even when exhausted they still lost stock, and therefore were worthy of your pity?

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      JR
      I hope you continue to post here and thanks for the well put middle ground view, at least to me it seems middle ground.

  25. avatar Elk275 says:

    JR

    Very well written. One of the best comments on this forum in the last 2 years.

  26. avatar Elk275 says:

    I have seen the word pragmatic used 3 or 4 times today. “Pragmatic” is the Merriam Webster’s word of the year(2011).

    • avatar IDhiker says:

      I’ll second that!

    • avatar Dude, the bagman says:

      Interesting.

      In 2007, “blamestorm” made the list but did not top it.

      Since the economic crash in 2008, the words have been:
      2008 – bailout
      2009 – admonish
      2010 – austerity
      2011 – pragmatic

      Perhaps next year’s word will be “agenda,” “hegemony,” or “rationalization.”

      • avatar JB says:

        How about “ostensibly”? Comes in handy for addressing the results of linear thinking…and pretty much anything that comes out of the mouth of a pundit.

        P.S. I vote “no” on hegemony; it’s easily the most over-used word in sociology.

        Thanks for the laugh!

        • avatar Dude, the bagman says:

          I can accept “ostensibly.”

          “Hegemony” may be overused by sociologists (particularly your students?), but it’s under-understood by most of the population.

          I’d say that’s ironic, but I’d be wrong because the Machiavellian nature of the idea(s) is kind of the whole point.

  27. avatar jon says:

    Check out what Montana is trying to do. Any thoughts?

    Group Offers $100 Bounty To Wolf Hunters

    http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/30041409/detail.html

    • avatar JR says:

      Perhaps you should not make the over generalizing comment of “check out what MONTANA is trying to do” and instead say, “check out what this one small group of people is trying to do” To say ‘Montana’ is responsible implies its people, its sportsmen in general, its official management agencies, the like, and that would be inaccurate.

      • avatar Dude, the bagman says:

        Hear hear.

        I’m a bit sick of reading that kind of divisive over-generalization on this site. Even if it’s a majority of the state population that pays any attention to wildlife issues (or just the most vocal), I don’t want to be lumped into the same group as the most extreme elements.

      • avatar Dude, the bagman says:

        And by “that kind of divisive over-generalization,” I mean a couple of chronic offenders.

    • jon,

      It’s true. You have overgeneralized here.

      This is nothing but a PR attempt by this group, and probably not to their advantage because they will end up paying bounties for wolves that would have been killed anyway, and $100 will not encourage many to go hunting when they were not in the mood.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Yet, for some reason I didn’t get that feeling at all by Jon’s post.

        The topic dealt with:

        “Idaho and Montana game officials going nuts over failure to kill enough wolves”

        269 posts later, same tired old numbers and statistics paraded out, quoted and expounded on, regarding wolves.

        Square 1 is stilling looking everyone painfully in the face, except now we have a “little” group attempting to get a foothold, a few of the hunting crowd off their butts, to do “the right thing” ….for who exactly?

        And is this an extreme example, or a sample of what wolves have to look forward to?

        http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=50d_1322694444&comments=1

        • avatar Nancy says:

          FYI – After viewing the video, I had no reason to doubt this kind of sick abuse goes on, because a rancher’s kid had no problem bragging about doing the same thing to a coyote, on his snowmobile a few years ago.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            After viewing the video, I wonder if it is real. I have seen animated video games that were similar to this video; it is amazing the how real video game are now days.

            The snowmobile driver dragged the coyote underneath the snowmobile a distants. I did not notice any blood when the machine was stopped and the coyote was intacted. Part of the coyote appeared to be under the tracks and the tracks would have tore up the animal and left a large blood trail. I have my doubts about the video. It could or could not be real.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            No blood trail, you have to be “fn” nuts. He lifts the coyote up and blood issues from its mouth and drips in the snow as he lifts to the snow machine.

            I see something like this and I sincerely hope that karma is a reality.

            Also, the term sportsmen has continually popped up on this thread. This is not meant as anti-hunting, but I’ve always looked upon the term sportsmen, when related to hunting, as a whole lot of oxymoron. In terms of competition, the only means of the hunters prey to win is escape. Not much sporting about that when the alternate scenario is the death of the animal.

            If you hunt, you hunt.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            Immer Treue

            I saw the blood from the mouth, but there is no blood trail behind the snowmobile. The coyote appears to be under the tracks of the machine and either the coyote would have been kick out immediately or the snowmachine tracks would have torn the animal up. The animal was intact when the machine stopped and blood appeared from it’s mouth. If it was bleeding from the mouth it would have left a blood trail. I did not see any blood trail.

            All I am saying is the video appears “funny”. Something is not right.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Elk,

            I don’t know why you continue to try!

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Daniel,

            My wife just upgraded her version of Adobe premium, which includes a studio quality video manipulation and sound studio quality 4 track program, you would be amazed at what can be done now a days. There are many people now a days, that will go to great lengths to rile the other side up!

        • avatar Daniel Berg says:

          The guy was using a GoPro camera. I’m sure you’ll see more videos of this nature in the future. GoPros are becoming extremely popular for outdoor activities.

          When we first started using them for big mountain skiing, I never envisioned that they would also soon be used for documenting thrill-killing.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Yup,

            Give me a GoPro and Photoshop and I can convince you of anything!

          • avatar Daniel Berg says:

            Well I can’t say it wasn’t photoshopped. I casually watched it one time and it didn’t seem like to much of a stretch that someone could drill a coyote with a snowmobile on flat, open terrain. If I’m mistaken and doing so would be an impossible feat, I suppose that would gaurantee the video is fake.

        • avatar JR says:

          Nancy,

          So just to clarify here; You didn’t feel that Jon’s reference to all of MONTANA instead of the select few that were involved with the group sponsoring the prizes was an over generalization? So, does that mean that you believe that ALL of MONTANA is responsible for offering the 100$ prize per wolf? I’m sure the people on your side of the argument (that live in MT) would resent that implication.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Well I can tell you for a fact, I am not giving anyone $100 for a picture of a wolf, hell I would not give them $100 dollars for a real wolf! They are simply another group grabbing headlines..

        • avatar JR says:

          In regards to the video of the coyote being hit by the snow machine;

          Does it honestly matter if it is fake or not? I don’t think anyone here is disputing that this sort of thing can happen, or that it is an unethical, (and at least in ID, and illegal method of take) Im sure we can all agree that this type of activity is inexcusable, as is poaching, burglary, arson, murder, etc, etc. What I don’t approve of is the insinuation that this type of activity is somehow condoned or applauded by the general hunting community, or that it somehow represents how hunters in general behave. In reality, most hunters are highly ethical and moral individuals, and would be just as disgusted watching a video of this nature as you are Nancy. I hunt because I love being in the woods and close to nature. I no more despise wolves because I hunt them than I despise elk because I hunt them. I despise neither. To insinuate that this video is somehow a referendum on how the majority of hunters will treat wolves in ID, MT, and WY in the future is inaccurate, and a gross overgeneralization. Will a small minority of degenerates behave this way? Im sure it will happen regardless of the laws in place to govern the wolves. Unfortunately, dwelling on these type of isolated incidences only bolsters the rift between two opposing viewpoints and ultimately further entrenches both sides deeper into their ideologies. If you really want a conversation that will result in real solutions that both sides can live with, both sides need to cease this type of emotion driven propaganda.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            JR,

            You will find, that if you hang on this blog for a while, there are quite a few that seek out this type of stuff to discredit hunters, and always generalize about us. Just because one commits an illegal act, that means all are condoning it, despite the fact that many of us fight tooth and nail to show that is not true.

            The sides are entrenched and despite statements to the contrary, they are not going to give an inch.

            Sad state of affairs it is.

  28. avatar Nancy says:

    So maybe it was a “stunt” coyote for the first driveover Elk?

    • avatar william huard says:

      Nancy

      Let Elk and SaveBears deny that these things happen. These idiots that do these things to animals like coyotes are fu^%ing SADISTS. They are dispicable human beings. While Save Bears keeps apologizing and making excuses for these ass^&ipes you will continue to see predator derbies and other forms of predator persecution

      • avatar Paul says:

        Anyone remember this story?

        http://wsau.com/news/articles/2011/nov/29/weyauwega-man-gets-11-years-after-mulling-down-deer-with-snowmobile/

        He won’t serve any extra time for killing the deer but has to pay $2000 for “hunting” violations. Yes, this type of scum exists and like poaching I am sure that very few get caught.

        “Circuit Judge Philip Kirk said the deer slaughtering case was more of a sign that Kuenzi has a quote, “socio-pathic personality.” And the judge said he would not punish him a second time for having that personality.”

        Shouldn’t being a sociopath be all the more reason for extending the punishment to protect the rest of society?

      • avatar Savebears says:

        F*&k you William, who said it didn’t happen, I said, why keep trying with you die hard anti hunters, you remind me what what you loath, extremists I have never apologized for these types of people, I have many times condemned predator derbies on this blog, I have condemned poachers and stated that the penalties are not severe enough, I want poaching to be a felony, loose you right to hunt, or own a gun for life. You are so freaking blind by your hate, that you don’t even know what your saying.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          And I will add, you sound like George W. Bush, and his statement “if your not with us your against us” I am not either side of the issue that is extremist, and William you are a Zealot!

  29. avatar Nancy says:

    +All I am saying is the video appears “funny”. Something is not right”

    You can say that again Elk. What exactly happens to a body when its run over in deep snow and it keeps getting up, fighting for its life? Maybe a lot of internal damage but no real sign of destruction (like a bloodtrail) because its just getting mashed, over and over again (til its dead) instead of slammed into a hard surface and dragged along?

    Please do let me know if this was photoshopped, because the first few minutes didn’t suggest anything other than a sicko on a snowmobile, out for a little “fun” with the local wildlife.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      I think this was most likely staged. He ran over an already dead coyote. There there should have been a lot of blood. In the last sequence rigor mortis had set in.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        +He ran over an already dead coyote+

        So, were the first 3 direct hits on a living, breathing coyote, also stagged?

        • avatar Savebears says:

          I know a few people that are thrilled to make propaganda videos to get you guys all riled up like this, it is amazing, that you and a couple of others doubt the man who started all of this many years ago to help wildlife.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            SB – that video (whether photoshpped or not and I’m inclined to believe it actually happened, since I personally know someone who took pleasure in doing the exact same thing….short of filming it) was just as outrageous and offensive to me as the paw prints on that WS plane.

            And no, not doubting the man who started all of this many years ago to help wildlife, just questioned the events as I witnessed them taking place on this video.

            Coyotes have been persecuted for years, especially in this part of the country and I have little doubt their larger cousins will encounter the same kind of abuse by some, who have little or no regard for wildlife, if the opportunity arises.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            The key words “By Some” but not all, in fact not by the majority. As has been said by many, there are bad people in every single group of people, heck I know people who have blown things up in the name of conservation…

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Also, I am not surprised your inclined to believe it, it furthers your agenda.

  30. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Elk,

    Sorry for any insinuation about your mental health, was not my intention.

    SB,

    All I’ll say is WTF, as I have not been one of the “anti-hunters” on this site.

    Someone who used to post on this site said he used to run coyotes down with a snow machine in this fashion for the fur. The coyote was continually pushed down into the snow. The animal had internal injuries as was evident when it was picked up and put on the machine. If this is a proven photo shop, I’ll gladly eat crow, and in the future be considered the wiser.

    Ralph,

    Doubt it was rigor mortis. I picked up someone’s dog that had just been hit by a car, legs splayed out just like the coyote.

  31. avatar Savebears says:

    Immer,

    I made no reference to you being anti hunter, I simply stated, why keep trying, I can fake a video that would quality and convince anyone of anything. But again, made no reference to you being anti hunting..

  32. avatar Nancy says:

    +Also, I am not surprised your inclined to believe it, it furthers your agenda+

    I think many here have agendas SB 🙂

  33. avatar Ken Cole says:

    The video looks real to me.

    I don’t think this is representative of hunters in general but this kind of thing does happen and pigs like the one in the video do exist.

    I do have a problem with hunters who wouldn’t roundly condemn this kind of thing. This demonstrates that there are depraved people out there. It also justifies my concern about Wyoming’s wolf plan which, while not condoning this kind of thing, does nothing to prevent it from happening.

    I’d like to ask Ken Salazar directly whether he thinks that Wyoming’s plan would adequately protect wolves from this kind of depravity.

    I’m not anti-hunting, I’m not a animal rights person, and I don’t think that hunting of wolves is going to wipe out wolves in the Nothern Rockies. I do, however, think that there needs to be adequate protections in place to make sure that there isn’t needless suffering and to make sure that this kind of depravity is harshly punished. I don’t think those protections are in place.

    As far as trapping is concerned, I don’t think it is a very humane method of killing either. It also isn’t very selective and will likely end up catching a lot of pets and other wildlife.

    With all of that being said though, I don’t really support any of the killing even though I know it is going to occur.

    • avatar william huard says:

      Ken-

      What I find shocking about the Rockies is the matter of fact carefree attitude people have when they see videos like the coyote being run over what- 4 or 5 times? Maybe people are desensitized to this shocking violence, but what did people discuss- whether or not the video was photoshopped and who is anti-hunting and trying to use these events to further their anti-hunting agenda!
      The focus always turns to the anti-hunting agenda….Paranoid much….
      Where I come from there just isn’t this level of hostility toward any animal -and when some dipsh^& does something terrible they are immediately denounced and shamed- the “culture” is totally different. Instead what you keep hearing is “well these things are only a small minority of people”…or you hear the ridiculous comments about how coyotes kill in such grotesque fashion…..It’s coyotes being coyotes- they are opportunistic predators. The behavior becomes almost acceptable as people try to justify the hostility. Very strange….

  34. avatar IDhiker says:

    I hesitate to say anything here, what with all the tempers flaring and nasty words…

    This is the kind of thing where I believe serious and ethical hunters need to step up to the plate. Too often extremists (Bridges, Hagadorn, Gillet, etc.) get their thoughts published in the media and make the headlines. This, of course, paints all hunters with an image that is not desirable. Of course, I realize the people on the extremes are just a small minority, but what about the casual, uninformed observer? Too often, the people responding with letters to the editor, etc., are not hunters. The hunting fringe element could care less what anti-hunting “do-gooders” think.

    What is needed here, is for outrageous behavior and press from the hunter extreme fringe to be overwhelmed by indignation and protest from hunters that are ethical. Being ostracized by their own ranks will help stop this behavior and press that is damaging to the tradition of hunting. It’s always the kooks who seem to get the press and airtime. What if Ron Gillet was followed to the podium by numerous hunters opposing his views, after he gave the commissioners some of his diatribe?

  35. avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

    IDhiker,I for one,am not going to bash you for expressing your opinion or observation.I,too wish the ethical and conscientious hunters would speak up.They far out number the bad apples,but it just takes a few to ruin the whole barrel by their callous actions.

    • avatar Paul says:

      I hear the hunters that I know express to me all the time how revolting they find activities like this. The problem is that they will say it to me, but I doubt that it is said to other hunters. Where I live all you have to do is look at the stickers and decorations on a good number of pickup trucks to see the mindset that many of these people have. And it is not just young men either. Walk in to a Gander Mountain or similar type store and it is all about the “trophy” or the kill. Look at magazine racks and the topics in “sportsmen” magazines. It is all about getting the “trophy” buck, elk, etc. Where I live look at the local newspapers or TV station websites. It is all about posting “brag board” pictures while grinning over a dead animal.

      This is what most non-hunters see. I know that I do. We rarely see or hear the ethical hunters speak out publicly. We do not hear them speak out about horrific acts. We do not hear them condemn legal, but brutal practices like hounding or trapping. If they did speak out about this and ostracize the “trophy” crowd and their exhibitionist ways maybe many of us would look at them differently. I know that I would.

      I know that animal welfare advocates like myself do not hesitate to speak out about the extremists in our ranks like PETA, ALF, etc. While PETA’s antics may be legal they still make the rest of us look bad and I along with others who share my views distance ourselves from groups like them. Unfortunately, we are still grouped together with them just like ethical hunters get grouped together with the extremists, and exhibitionists.

      • avatar JR says:

        Well put Paul, I appreciate a fair minded approach that admits weakness in both camps.

        I do disagree though, on the inference that legal Trophy hunting, hounding, or even trapping are to be lumped in the same negative connotation as what we saw in the video of the snowmachine running over the coyote. What was in the video was illegal and immoral, but hunting in hopes to find a large bull or buck, or hunting bears with hounds, or trapping furbearers are not illegal or immoral, and much skill and preparation goes into them. You may disagree with them, but one does not have to hunt with the sole goal of meat harvest in order to be considered an “ethical hunter” There is little skill or challenge necessary to harvest an animal JUST for meat (you can road hunt and be successful), and to many hunters, the challenge of the hunt is a part of why they do it, and there is nothing ethically or legally wrong with that. Trophy hunting has in its roots as well the essence of maximizing ones output; A large bull elk in comparison to a cow elk can be the difference of 50-70 pounds of meat (equivalent of the amount of meat you would get off of one deer) Furthermore, every pound of extra antler weight is value in and of itself, up to $10 a pound or more in some markets (ground up for medicinal purposes, used for art pieces, etc) So there is a physical reason of looking for the biggest animal as well as the emotional. On the other hand, if a trophy hunter harvests a trophy animal, and then leaves the meat to rot, that is illegal an wrong.

        • avatar Paul says:

          JR,

          I appreciate your comments, but I have to disagree with you about trapping and hounding being ethical. It may be legal but I think it is far from ethical especially when there is often zero consideration for the pain and suffering of the animal. In this day and age I feel that these acts are cruel and barbaric, especially considering that they are done mostly for recreation. I have no major issues with sustenance hunting because it does provide food and nourishment, as long as it is done humanely. I do have a problem with recreational activities like hounding and trapping. I guess I just do not understand how trapping and animal or treeing a bear or cougar is “recreation.” It sure isn’t for the victim. I know many others, even hunters, who agree with me about this. I have to respectfully disagree with you about how ethical these activities are especially in the modern age. Nothing should have to suffer just so a person can get pleasure or “sport” out of it. I just do not understand how inflicting needless pain on something strictly for recreation can be considered ethical or moral.

          That being said I do appreciate the civility of your comments. I may not agree with what you said, but you presented it without the usual bluster and vile that many here, including myself, are guilty of.

          • avatar JR says:

            Thank you Paul, I too appreciate the civility of your comments, and I am fine with agreeing to disagree on this subject. What I dont enjoy, and Im sure you agree is when those, on both sides seek to demonize or villianize the opposing view points. I think these conversations would be far more productive if reasonably minded people such as you and I were able to maintain our opinions without hindering the rights of the other.

  36. avatar Nancy says:

    +Indeed, ineffective communication is a pervasive problem in this ongoing debate. With that in mind, it is important to understand that our differences often arise not from ignorance, but from differing interpretations of terms, phrases, data etc.+

    Well, well put/said/ expressed JB, for those of us who at times, seem to appear “ignorant or undereducated” on the topic even though, we are smack dab in the middle of the debate and are trying like hell to relate to it.

    Indeed, ineffective communication is a pervasive problem in this ongoing debate. With that in mind, it is important to understand that our differences often arise not from ignorance, but from differing interpretations of terms, phrases, data etc.

  37. avatar IDhiker says:

    JR,

    I used the IDFG recommended numbers of elk per hunting area in my comment because, and I’d like to believe this is true, that IDFG professionals know how many elk an area can support, and that they had some biological reasons to arrive at those numbers. Whether hunters want more was not part of my point.

    As far as anecdotal evidence, my wife and I spent nine days along the Middle Fork Salmon three years ago in late April into May. In the first week we backpacked down river from Thomas Creek to the Flying B. We counted slightly over one-thousand elk, innumerable deer, and one wolf. This after hearing how decimated the herd was in there. We thought how silly all this talk was about wolves eating everything. In addition, we saw many more elk higher on the slopes from the plane as we flew in, which we could never see from the river trail.

    I respectfully disagree with your contention that 150 wolves is not the bottom, but that zero is. 150 is the bottom because it is the bare minimum mandated by law, and Idaho cannot go below it. Zero is not an option, even though some extremists want to go there. Since there are 650-800 wolves now, a middle ground would be somewhere between 150 and those numbers, perhaps 400-500 animals.

    Whether the legislature represents the will of the majority is also a question to consider. Polls that were done by Boise State University indicated that Idaho public opinion was fairly evenly split, not so in the legislature. Idaho is a conservative state, and conservative legislators are not usually advocates for environmental concerns. I have complained about this in the past, but hunters often vote for the same people that work to destroy the game range and habitat of the very animals they pursue, in effect, “shooting themselves in the foot.”

    Finally, I am sorry if I erred in judging that you are an advocate of reducing wolves down to 150. My belief was based on comments from you like the following:

    “I am a staunch advocate of “keeping ones word” and if the general public was promised 150 wolves, and instead got 300, or 500, or 1000 wolves, then they were mislead, and that is not right.”

    I think most people, after reading this, would make the same judgement I did. Re-reading your comments, you did not actually state you were for 150, but then again you never said you weren’t. Your comments such as the above give the wrong impression. Perhaps you should have stated more directly where you stand.

  38. avatar JR says:

    ID Hiker

    ““I am a staunch advocate of “keeping ones word” and if the general public was promised 150 wolves, and instead got 300, or 500, or 1000 wolves, then they were mislead, and that is not right.”

    I think most people, after reading this, would make the same judgment I did. Re-reading your comments, you did not actually state you were for 150, but then again you never said you weren’t. Your comments such as the above give the wrong impression. Perhaps you should have stated more directly where you stand.”

    If you will re-read my explanation, and in fact the comment itself that you quoted, you will see that I am not speaking about the number of wolves that I PERSONALLY would approve, only that if the public was promised one number and got another, then in that LIE someone has erred in my opinion. If in fact, the intention was to have more wolves than that number, then the public should have been privy to that decision. It is disagreeable to be to have a politician or group on either side of the fence promise one thing and then do another. If in fact the promise had been for 2000 wolves, and we instead got 800, I would similarly argue that the promise to the public has not been satisfied. The number is not material, only that there was deception involved.

    If in fact the BSU poll was done with proper statistical parameters to represent the whole of the state (as arguably some in one part may think differently that others in another part) then that represents a disconnect between what our elected officials are doing for their constituents and what the constituents want their representatives to do. Although, if the majority (even a small one) does want the legislature to act as they are on the issue of wolves, then that is the system working as it should. If for example, you were to split (now mind you this example and the numbers are purely hypothetical, as I do not know the absolute data myself at this time) the total number of voting Rep vs Dem in Idaho, to something around 60/40, you could reasonably assume that the majority of the legislators at the state level would have been elected by the Rep leaning majority. Then to go back and compare the BSU poll, if they had polled only those who had voted for the legislators currently in place, one could easily argue that the disconnect between those that voted them into office and those in office would not be as wide as it appears when taking the number from the entire voting body, who in themselves are naturally divided fairly evenly on party lines. If the legislators that ran and were voted into office, did so promising to do X, and then do Y, then I have a problem with that. If they promised to do X, then the majority votes them in on that basis, and then in office they actually do X, then I cannot argue with that circumstance, even if I personally do not agree with the majority who voted them in. In that instance, I am more grateful to live in a free country and state that allows it to be so. If you or I find ourselves on the side of the minority, and the legislators are acting against our own personal desires (but are acting in accordance with the desires of the majority), then we cannot find fault with them, only with ourselves in not properly educating the majority to the proper truth.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Oh geez, a lot of Manspeak” going on in this chapter of your book (post) JR.

    • avatar IDhiker says:

      JR,

      The only comment I have here is that, using your 60/40 example, that 40% of voters voted against he winner. I believe that elected official still have a responsibility to represent the interests of those who voted against them. For another hypothetical example, let’s say that 51% voted for politicians that oppose wolves in Idaho, and 49% voted for politicians that don’t mind wolves. Should the winners (51%) ignore the 49% losers? As the representatives of all the people, they have an obligation to compromise somewhat, knowing that many oppose their philosophy. As we have discussed, I don’t think this is what has happened.

      • avatar Paul says:

        IDhiker,

        “Should the winners (51%) ignore the 49% losers?”

        Just ask Scott Walker in my state that question because that is exactly what he and his Koch fueled cronies did. I think that is the problem with our two party system in this country it is one extreme or the other. These people get a narrow victory and they think that gives them free reign to impose their agendas, no matter how extreme, onto the rest of us.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          IDhiker, Paul –
          For this topic, HOW should state government accomodate your preferences, in Idaho or Montana (Paul – your desires as a non-resident included)?
          What would be balanced consideration and accomodation?

          • avatar Paul says:

            I have always said that non-consumptive users should have a place at the table on these topics. No matter what anyone says they do not. I know that in my state the agenda is completely controlled by hunter and trapper interests, and I would venture a guess that it is that way in the western states as well. I think that non-consumptive wildlife enthusiasts need to have an equal place at the table, even if that means we pay for it through taxes, fees, etc. It does not have to be just animal welfare advocates like myself, but photographers, eco-tour guides, hikers, etc. Not just hunters, ranchers, and trappers. I am so tired of the hunters and trappers in my state proclaiming that if someone is not a hunter or trapper that they have no business commenting on wildlife issues. That is a bunch of crap in my book. Just because I do not take wildlife it does not mean that they are any less valuable to me. Just the sight/sound of any rarely seen wild animal is a treasured memory for me and no less valuable or important than that of a hunter or trapper. The states might do well to put a larger emphasis on attracting eco-tourists to visit. This is a potentially untapped gold mine for many states that seem to place priorities on hunting and trapping over viewing. Our money is just as valuable as that of the consumptive users. Charge us fees to take part in these activities, just give us a fair say.

            Even though I do not partake in the holiday festivities because I am a dirty heathen :), and I am stuck at work for 12 plus hours today, I still want to wish everyone Happy Holidays. And don’t forget about the poor emergency service schmucks like me who are helping to keep people safe this day (and earning time and a half to do it 🙂 Happy Holidays!

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Thanks Paul –
            Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays

            Moving a step beyond a place at the table, what do you want for wildlife management that is different than current policies and programs? What specific changes would you ask your state wildlife management agency to make in current programs?

          • avatar Paul says:

            Mark,

            I have an obvious bias, but as a non-consumptive user I would like to see wildlife managers place more of a premium on eco-tourism and take that into account when setting their management objectives. How about setting aside lands that are free from hunting or trapping to draw in wildlife watchers year round? Even as mentioned before here a “wolf sanctuary” would draw in wildlife watchers from all over the world, and bring in much needed revenue to wildlife departments. I recently saw “flash” ads on several internet websites that said “You can hunt Idaho too!” or something similar. How about using the same techniques to draw in “tree huggers” like myself? It just does not seem like many fish and game departments realize or care how much money these places and activities can bring in. There was an article posted on this site a couple of weeks ago about how wolf tour guides in Idaho around Yellowstone were upset that they were ignored when Idaho developed their wolf management plan. When I read about the tours that they were offering, both my wife and I were giddy at the prospect of participating in something like this. How can people like us feel comfortable visiting a state that takes such harsh views and actions on an animal that we cherish and would travel across the country to see? How could we feel welcome if people have such hatred for the very thing that would draw us to your beautiful state?
            I know that this is not necessarily the job of wildlife managers but another thing that I would like to see is an emphasis on getting more people involved with nature and getting outdoors. The more people who get the opportunity to experience nature and see our wild animals, the more likely that they will work to protect our dwindling wild spaces, and the creatures that inhabit them, including wolves. In my state many of our wild lands are under major threat from mining interests who have deep pockets, and the ear of the Governor and likeminded politicians. If there is one thing that both hunting and non-hunting wildlife enthusiasts can agree on it is that our lands need to be protected. If our wild lands go so do the animals that both sides value. I admit that I do work to eliminate the hunting practices that I view as cruel and barbaric, such as hounding and trapping, but I do also see the bigger picture concerning the dwindling wild spaces in this country. The protection of these lands and their animals should be the number one thing that both wildlife managers and tree huggers like me agree on.

          • avatar william huard says:

            Mark-

            I find it encouraging that at least Idaho is looking for ways to improve in these areas. I would start with the basics. People that live in Idaho need to obey laws. Your Governor did you no favors with his caustic and hateful tone regarding wolves in Idaho. According to a recent study by an International Animal Rights Organization-

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/24/animal-abuse-worst-states_n_1151233.html

            Only Kentucky and North Dakota scored worse in how they treat animals. This sends a signal to people about priorities. Wolves are codified as wildlife in Idaho which is good. Adopt some of the ideas Cody gave concerning poachers- which will make people think twice before committing a crime.
            There are many creative ways to raise revenue from non-hunters, trappers to give everyone a voice in how wildlife is managed. Heck- it couldn’t kill you to put a pro-wolf person on your wildlife commission…….
            This is all about leadership from your Governor and legislature. Based on past events most people will remain skeptical of good ole Butch.

          • avatar JB says:

            I hope the people who post here will take a break from arguing about the proper punishment for a poacher and respond to Mark’s query. IDF&G is soliciting input here, and I see that as a very promising development.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Mark,
            Thanks for the offer… I think we need this comment thread to be a separate post on the Wildlife News and thus I’ll be brief here…

            I see one development as changing the wildlife commissions to be more reflective of the population at large. There is no reason why wildlife watching groups and maybe even human/animal rights groups can’t have a spot at the table along with more traditional constituents like hunters and anglers.

            That would be a productive start and in some urban states the disparity between the composition of these boards/commissions and the general public at large is hugely different.

            Thanks again for the welcoming of suggestions….

          • avatar WM says:

            IDFG Commission statutes already have the necessary enabling language to allow for a variety of interests on the Commission – regional, party affiliation, knowledge of “wildlife conservation,” etc.

            http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title36/T36CH1SECT36-102.htm

            There are two obstacles that will likely result in limited opportunity for certain interests to be very prominent unless the electorate in ID changes. The governor appoints and the Senate confirms – that pretty much takes the matter to the bottom line.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            The only consideration that IDFG will react to is what Clem and the legislature (livestock industry) tell them to consider.

            Period.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Geeze Jeff,

            Give it a rest and perhaps, forward movement will happen!!!

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            I see no reason to raise expectations above reality.

            Do you?

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Unlike you Jeff in my many years on this earth, I am an optimist, you however are a pessimist…being directly involved in much of this over the years, I know for a fact that things will improve.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Gee, where do I send the pychlogical evaluation fee.

            The truth is SB you do not have the remotest clue what I base my posts on.

            but you do have your opinion…….

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jeff, you are correct, I have no idea of what you base your ideas on, but I do have an idea of what I base my ideas on after working for one of the agencies involved in this issue. But I can tell you, you and people like you are one of the reasons we are still fighting this issue and that includes people on both sides, hate or love, your extreme, I can tell you where to put your “fee” but it would get my comment removed!

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Awww, you’re bringing a tear to my eye

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jeff stop telling lies, because I know for a fact, I will never bring a tear to your eyes..

            LOL

    • avatar JEFF E says:

      JR,

      There was never ever a “promised” number.

      The number of 150 was a stated MINUMUM number, and only ONE component of the overall rule to restore wolves to their historical range.

      And even then the low minimum number of 150 was arrived at as a compromise with the livestock industry.

      Not sure why this field has to be continually replaced.

  39. avatar Virginia says:

    Wow – I just tried to read most of these 323 comments – most of which seem to be anti-wolf and most tend to go on and on and on. I guess my comment is that I don’t understand how someone does not see the difference between a human killing an elk and a wolf killing an elk – because the elk is dead anyway!? WTF? Sorry – I just get a little tired of the constant defense of hunting, trapping and other forms of the death of animals. This site seems to be turning into a place in which to defend practices of killing and I have to say I find that disgusting.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      I for one am grateful to the website owner as well as his management team that allow both sides of any issue to continue to comment on a wide variety so subjects. Hunting just being one of them.

    • avatar JB says:

      I see very little here that is “anti-wolf”. Rather, I see people trying to negotiate the vast gray area between uncompromised protection and eradication.

      Happy holidays!

  40. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Here in Cody Wyoming, a breeding ground of Anti-Wolf Hysteria, we have this lively little AM radio talk show on weekday mornings. Typical repetitive rhetorical right wing blather , although I do my best to inject alternate opinions edgewise.

    Last week a State Legislator was the guest and he was going on and on about how great Wyoming
    ‘s wolf plan is and how solid the science was to back it up. I called up and reamed him on both vectors, for a good 10 minutes.

    The caller after me leapt to the defense of anti-wolfing and defensed the Wyoming wolf eradication plan as holy scripture. HE is a frequent caller whose day job is nuisance animal control and his hobby is running a few traplines. he moved here green as grass from Pennsylvania about 30 years ago and has risen to become both an official and unofficial spokesperson ( mouthpiece) for hunting , the various ‘
    Insert Favorite Species here ” Unlimited clubs , RMEF, and especially the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife chapter hereabouts which is very politically active. Did I say this guy hates wolves ?

    Well, his main point was this: Wyoming’s rugged individualist sportsmen are already taking matters into their own hands with wolves. He said without apologizing —in fact almost inviting USFWS to knock on his door — that he knows with smug certainty that individuals are already smoking wolves and killing wolves wherever possible. he said this absolutely explains why northwest Wyoming’s wolf population outside Yellowstone has leveled off or even fallen in some areas, like my back yard.

    In other words, without saying so he testified to and advocated for Illegal Wolf Kills, coming and going. That it is already happening. He of the anti-wolf ilk believes that control or management of wolves is synonymous with eradication of wolves. QED.

    Poaching: The Un-Official State of Wyoming Wolf Policy ? Well, that’s pretty much how he expressed it. And he’s definitely not alone in that .

    I have no reason to think it isn’t much the same in Idaho and Montana. Toby Bridges said so…

    • avatar Savebears says:

      And there in lies your problem, you are gathering your information from one source and refuse to look at other informational resources Cody

      • avatar Jon Way says:

        What does your statement mean SB???
        If Cody says that people are admitting to “smoking” wolves than what other sources do you need in this case? Altho yes they are probably blowing a little steam but the fact that USFWS doesn’t seem to be reacting to admits of Canicide (illegal wolf killings) raises a red flag with me.

        • avatar william huard says:

          The most troubling aspect of the wolf issue in Wyoming is that the USFWS/ Rancher Salazar made a deal w/ Bourasso and Mead who represent these rugged individualist sportsmen. How could taxpayers in the US get the FEDS to investigate these poachings?

          • avatar WM says:

            william,

            I think the better question to ask is whether federal investigations, and federal prosecutions if warranted, of wolf poachings are a good use of taxpayer dollars?

            Probably few prosecutions from whatever investigations yield enough evidence to get a good case to take to trial (if no plead outs), and then there is that aspect of getting a jury panel in federal court (sitting in Casper or Cheyenne) that is likely to produce a conviction. Elk275 already spoke to that uncertainty in MT. I suspect it is no better in WY, where in nearly 90% of the state wolves are considered predator status and can be shot on sight once delisting is achieved.

            I think it would be a waste of MY federal taxpayer dollars, producing few convictions.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            WM,

            Right now in MT, ID and WY, they are not going to convict, they have not done so and they will not do so, unfortunate as it is, the truth be told, most people that live in the area don’t really care at all, they have far bigger issues on their minds.

            Wolves are the least of their worries.

          • avatar william huard says:

            WM-

            I’m sure that is true. It still isn’t right for people to take matters in their own hands and blatantly ignore FED law. After Cody Coyote’s post I had an image of the “Unwilling delegates from Wyoming” picture (page 46 of the Predatory Bureaucracy book)and realized that very little has changed in states like Wyoming….it’s still 1899 and they are still at the Livestock Convention…..

          • avatar william huard says:

            What type of a country would this be if everytime someone did’nt like a law they just ignored it and did what they pleased? That doesn’t say much for ID, Wyoming and Montana now does it?

          • avatar WM says:

            william,

            Presuming your comment is confined to states or residents of states not following federal law, that happens all the time, and we need not look far for examples.

            Then there are those instances in which the federal government passes laws, and either does not find it high priority to enforce, or it consciously chooses not to enforce.

            My latest peeve is the federal do not call list, in which you voluntarily put your phone number(s) on the national registry. No vendors, especially robo-call types are supposed to call if you are on the list (subject to certain narrow exceptions).

            This example serves two purposes of the above. 1) These a-holes violate the law repeatedly, and we get illegal calls all the time, notwithstanding the fact we have been on the list since the law was passed; 2) The federal government has no intention of enforcing the law and no resources to do it if they wanted, and the violators (often large corporate businesses) know it.

            Another huge elephant in the room is enforcement of current immigration law.

            That doesn’t say much for the federal government, now does it?

          • avatar william huard says:

            WM-

            I’m not going to defend the Fed Government. The examples you cited are just a few of the many ways the FED government can’t seem to get out of their own way. Our priorities in this country are mixed up. The Military Industrial Complex is a giant massive bureaucracy filled with waste and inefficiency. We add money to their budget every year and cut home heating assistance for the elderly….

            How much money did the FED government spend to protect wolves while they were on the ESA? It doesn’t make sense to allow a few lawless outfitters to poach wolves because they don’t like them. We don’t really even know if this is true- but you have to think it is a distinct possibility

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Jon, being an on the ground Biologist in the very area that these allegations are happening, means I have a different perspective than those who are not on the ground here. Jon, I respect your opinion and your work, but it has very little to do with what is happening out west.

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        SB: The man I quote to is a spokesperson or public presence for several hunting organizations and hunting activist groups. His opinion is one of consensus between and betwixt his peers , not sole source ( not exclusively his own ). He is, unfortunately , representative and his statements are , unfortunately , local dogma hereabouts. Dissenters to those views are rare. Me and a couple other folks are about it.

  41. avatar Nancy says:

    +Jeff, you are correct, I have no idea of what you base your ideas on, but I do have an idea of what I base my ideas on after working for one of the agencies involved in this issue. But I can tell you, you and people like you are one of the reasons we are still fighting this issue and that includes people on both sides, hate or love, your extreme, I can tell you where to put your “fee” but it would get my comment removed+

    So SB – shut up, quit complaining and maybe someday wildife will catch a break when the “powers to be” can work it into their busy schedules?

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Nancy, “Shut up” you know that ain’t going to happen, “Shut up” you ought to know better…that is funny!

    • avatar Elk275 says:

      Nancy why do you think that wildlife does not get a break. The number of all animal types has increased many times since after World War 2. I think that it is very wrong to think that wildlife is not getting a break.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Elk,

        Most people of Nancy’s position think they are right, and unfortunately forget that there are other valid positions on the issue. The biggest problem with these debates is many don’t seem to realize, their opinion is not the only opinion. Also, they are not willing to listen to any opinion that is different than theirs

  42. avatar Savebears says:

    But Nancy, I can tell you where to put your “shut up”

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Anyway, good night boys and girls, I am back out in the field in the morning studying that issues we discuss here. see ya next weekend.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        OUCH!!!

        +I think that it is very wrong to think that wildlife is not getting a break+

        Your’e so right Elk. Forgive me, I forget sometimes, that its all about grooming the numbers – wildlife (via agencies) so there’s always something out there available to “harvest”

        • avatar Elk275 says:

          Nancy you moved to Southwest Montana and hunting is a way of life — it is a reality — accept it. One of my friends went bald before 25, his statement: “it was the best thing that happen to me, the sooner one learns that they are things in life that they can not control the easier and happier life will be”.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Slavery was also once “a way of life” in this country Elk. Going bald is often in the genes, its a human condition 🙂

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Nancy –
            You live in Montana and have made it clear that you understand the culture and lifestyle of your home state. State government is responsible to understand and provide government service to meet the needs and desires of state residents, in the reality of diverse values and desires.
            Were you a FWP Commissioner, what would you advocate for different wildlife management policies and programs that would do a better job, in your estimation, of serving the needs and desires of Montanans?

  43. avatar Nancy says:

    Mark – I think there is sound reason to pursue other avenues (and revenues) when it comes to wildlife, like eco-tourism, because the vast majority of this country’s population do not hunt.

    I thought Paul expressed it well:

    “I have an obvious bias, but as a non-consumptive user I would like to see wildlife managers place more of a premium on eco-tourism and take that into account when setting their management objectives. How about setting aside lands that are free from hunting or trapping to draw in wildlife watchers year round? Even as mentioned before here a “wolf sanctuary” would draw in wildlife watchers from all over the world, and bring in much needed revenue to wildlife departments. I recently saw “flash” ads on several internet websites that said “You can hunt Idaho too!” or something similar. How about using the same techniques to draw in “tree huggers” like myself? It just does not seem like many fish and game departments realize or care how much money these places and activities can bring in. There was an article posted on this site a couple of weeks ago about how wolf tour guides in Idaho around Yellowstone were upset that they were ignored when Idaho developed their wolf management plan. When I read about the tours that they were offering, both my wife and I were giddy at the prospect of participating in something like this. How can people like us feel comfortable visiting a state that takes such harsh views and actions on an animal that we cherish and would travel across the country to see? How could we feel welcome if people have such hatred for the very thing that would draw us to your beautiful state?
    I know that this is not necessarily the job of wildlife managers but another thing that I would like to see is an emphasis on getting more people involved with nature and getting outdoors. The more people who get the opportunity to experience nature and see our wild animals, the more likely that they will work to protect our dwindling wild spaces, and the creatures that inhabit them, including wolves. In my state many of our wild lands are under major threat from mining interests who have deep pockets, and the ear of the Governor and likeminded politicians. If there is one thing that both hunting and non-hunting wildlife enthusiasts can agree on it is that our lands need to be protected. If our wild lands go so do the animals that both sides value. I admit that I do work to eliminate the hunting practices that I view as cruel and barbaric, such as hounding and trapping, but I do also see the bigger picture concerning the dwindling wild spaces in this country. The protection of these lands and their animals should be the number one thing that both wildlife managers and tree huggers like me agree on”

    • avatar WM says:

      Nancy (and Paul from whom the original comment came),

      I am inclined to believe most of the Western states, mostly through their Tourism offices, do an admirable job of advertizing to attract various types of visitors, including what you and Paul have labeled “eco-tourism.”

      It would seem the tourism market, itself, would dictate whether those responsible for marketing tourism would focus on “eco-tourists” as opposed to the folks that want to go stay at a resort/motel with a pool and a golf course nearby, or a stay on a dude ranch to ride a horse and go for a chuckwagon evening meal, or in winter to ski. No doubt this stuff gets looked at all the time, in this tough economy, as they try to attract people to their respective states to part with their hard earned dollars.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        WM, Nancy, Paul, others –
        Idaho does promote a diverse message about the outdoor recreation opportunities that wolf viewing is a part of. I won’t try to characterize specifics for wolf viewing, but wildlife based recreation is recoginzed as a huge industry for this state. In recent years, I’ve given numerous presentations to chambers of commerce, county commissions and civic groups – on the economic value of wildlife based recreation in Idaho. The 2006 USFWS National survey reported over $1 billion in economic activity generated by Idaho wildlife based recreation, making it one of the largest single industries in the state. Wildlife viewing consistently comprises a large percentage of national and state estimates of wildlife recreation, though few surveys distinguish what percentage of wildlife “watchers” are hunters and anglers. Those surveys that cross-reference both categories consistently show that a large percentage of wildlife watchers are also hunters and anglers who describe themselves as wildlife watchers.
        Every state fish and game/wildlife agency that I’m familiar with has a “non-game” wildlife conservation program. The IDFG has a substantial Wildlife Diversity program dedicated to inventory, conservation and management of non-game fish, animal and plant species. It is funded entirely by dedicated federal (non-DJ/PR) funds and special dedicated state funds (primarily specialy license plate funds, voluntary income tax check off contributions and private donations).

        • avatar Paul says:

          Mark,

          That is exactly my point. I would be willing to bet that the amount of money brought in to Idaho because of wolves is a huge chunk of the overall tourism intake. That being the case, why would people feel comfortable coming to a state that politically and socially demonizes and shows open hatred for a species that they come from all over the world just to see/hear? For me personally my wife and I cancelled the trip that we had planned for last September to the Yellowstone area because of the states policies toward wolves. It may have been a small drop in the bucket, but why would we patronize an area that shows open disdain both socially and politically toward a species that is very important to us? Was it ever brought up when your state was putting together your wolf plan the impact that it may have on tourism? Or is the tourism dollars of those who are carrying guns more important?

          I look at it like tourism in my state. A good number of people in Wisconsin flat out despise people from our neighbor Illinois (see, Chicago), and have several less than flattering names for them (Google F.I.B.). The difference is that we know exactly how vital their tourism dollars are for our economy so we welcome them with open arms. Many of us may grumble and whisper things behind their back but we make them feel welcome even though our culture and way of life is far different than theirs. We tend to view them as being rude, boorish, and reckless drivers. They view us to be country bumpkins. Why can’t the western states realize that wolves are a potential goldmine, swallow their pride, and welcome those who value them? Or dare I say embrace the wolf as a vital part of the ecosystem and a tourism draw? As difficult as it can be we are able to put aside our negative perceptions of those from Illinois for the overall economic benefit of the state. Can Idaho do the same for the wolf and those who value them?

          • avatar Gary Wilson says:

            Paul, you hit the nail right on the head in my opinion. I have been stating for many years now, much to the chagrin of everyone that if the state of Idaho is going to legislate hunting everywhere, then we need the freaking feds to step in and create a national park somewhere in Central Idaho, whether it’s the White Clouds…or a swath of the Pioneers. Or upgrading the SNRA into an area where wildlife is allowed the chance to survive and live out it’s existence without the fear of being hunted. I always laugh when I see that the greatest hunting records in teh state were from the old time days of the 50’s and 60s. They don’t allow game to get large anymore in the state, because they are practically killed off before they reach their prime. I’m so tired of it, that it’s becoming ridiculous. Everywhere you go in idaho, the wildlife is considered “game” and hunted. Central Idaho is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but not one spot in that area is practically free from the range of hunters and doesn’t face pressure. It’s time. Time for some places in Idaho where we have our mini-yellowstone free from the hunting crowd that thinks all wildlife are just game and meant to be hunted or just trapped. ..and I don’t consider myself a tree hugger. I just want a mini-yellowstone to be established somewhere, anywhere there. Let a bull elk live to be 15 to 20 years of age. I have my doubts that many bulls in Idaho ever reach that age.

          • avatar Paul says:

            Thank you Gary. You make an excellent point. I would certainly love to see more areas off limits to hunting and trapping not just for my personal views but also for the reasons you said. Unfortunately human encroachment and greed will make your proposition very unlikely. You are also right about the sheer beauty of Idaho, and the whole west for that matter. How wonderful it would be to have more large tracts of land that are untouched by roads, oil rigs, development, or any touch of humanity for that matter. That is why I get so damn angry at these “drill baby drill” types that cannot leave places like ANWAR alone. We as humans must have some capacity to just leave some things alone and let nature be nature without our meddling. I hear all the time about invasive species wrecking havoc all over. What we seem to not realize is that we are the ultimate invasive species that disrupt everything that we touch. I am not exempt either, I like my modern conveniences but there has to be limits before we destroy it all.

          • avatar Gary Wilson says:

            Paul,

            It’s a pretty pathetic state of affairs how a majority of people treat wildlife in Idaho. I pretty much rejected hunting culture early in my life, and instead was more intrigued to photograph, film, and study it, and the wild areas of this country than try to tame it. Over time I became more and more bitter about what I saw. I spent over a decade trekking in central Idaho, mostly hiking solo, going from summit to summit to summit and valley to valley. I”ve photographed and documented a lot of the mountain areas of the state. Saw a lot of wildlife, but I also saw a lot of wildlife being killed by hunters. All this hysteria over the wolf is mostly from the same groups – the trophy hunters, and the ranchers. I have downloaded the official elk harvest numbers from the previous decade state wide, and they show that Idaho hunters kill about 12% of the population of ungulates every year, if you believe in the elk numbers statewide (they say 103,000 estimated currently). I believe the hysteria over wolves is overjustified. In the Stanley Basin, alone during the early part of the last decade (2000 to 2001) hunters were pulling out about 1200 elk per year. Then you wonder where all the elk went. I can tell you it wasn’t all the wolves. It was clear mismanagement by F&G and too much catering to the elk fitter crowds. I rememeber back in 2003 being out and about on a weekend in the Sawtooths during the height of rifle season, and through the mountains gunshot after gunshot kept ringing out through the hillsides. Probably heard about 200 shots in 2 days worth of backpacking, and then you wonder…. where did all the elk go in the Sawtooth zones? Yep, it was all the wolves… right.

            Remember, F&G estimates there are about 100,000 elk in Idaho. Yet, here is what they take every year… and this doesn’t include other methods of control which aren’t reported. I estimate between wolves, hunters, and cars, about 25% of the elk population is killed annually, and then you wonder… where did all the game go? Yeah…. bring on the national park.

            2010 total elk harvested: 11,794
            2009 total elk harvested: 10,443
            2008 total elk harvested: 10,763
            2007 total elk harvested: 12,558
            2006 total elk harvested: 12,266
            2005 total elk harvested: 13,549
            2004 total elk harvested: 12,092
            2002 total elk harvested: 9,330
            2001 total elk harvested: 11,125
            2000 total elk harvested: 8,677

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Gary Wilson,

              Thanks for the table. We put up a similar one several years ago showing the same no relationship between the number of wolves in Idaho and number of elk harvested. This in my view is nearly irrefutable evidence that the wolf restoration has not decimated the elk population. Sadly for ID Fish and Game the decimation story is widely believed though totally false and they pay for it when it comes to sale of elk tags.

          • avatar jon says:

            Gary, Idaho fish and game told me that hunters were killing around 16,000 elk past few years. It’s bad when the wolves kill elk, but it’s good when hunters kill elk.

          • avatar Paul says:

            Gary,

            We hear the same gripes here in Wisconsin about the wolves “eating all the deer.” Hunters killed over 226,000 deer in just nine days here. I guess those were the ones that the wolves missed. What the whiners fail to mention is the number of terribly disjointed “special” deer seasons throughout the year. The WI DNR has special season after season where deer are killed by the thousands yet ignorant fools blame the wolves for the “lack” of deer. One has to be very careful when out in the wilds at any time of year because it often seems like a free fire zone in many areas because of all of these seasons. I work as a dispatcher and I can tell you that there are no shortages of cars running into deer or vice-versa. I guess the wolves are going to be somehow responsible for that too.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Continue to push for more areas of public lands off limits to hunting and you will think the wolf issues are peanuts compared to that fight. You seem to forget, that the hunting community is part of that “Public” The way public lands are funded needs an overhaul, but currently the majority of public lands are funded by hunters through license fees, Pitt funds, Duck stamps and a wide variety of permits, special licenses. etc.

            Until such time as we overhaul the funding process, even though there are less hunters than hikers you are going to see hunters carry a strong word in the public lands issues.

            Now with more and more states passing or pushing for state constitutional amendments that guarantee the right to hunt, you are going to even see a stiffer battle. When we start comparing rights and it concerns public assets, which rights overpower?

          • avatar Savebears says:

            I think one good idea would expand on Montana’s conservation permit system, if you use public lands in Montana, your suppose to purchase a conservation permit, All hunters and fisher persons have to purchase in order to get their license, I would not mind seeing a Non-Hunting/Fishing license sold at the same cost that we as hunters pay, which would include the conservation license. I would also like to see the same penalties assessed for not having that license if you are caught that as hunter is assessed if they are caught hunting without a license(I am not talking about poaching, that is an entirely different subject)

            I believe this would be a fair and equatable way for both sides to help fund the public lands, I would also like to see some type of tax structure implemented on outdoors gear for the non-hunter, similar to the PR act, hunters pushed for this act to tax themselves on their purchases, why are non-hunters not pushing for a tax on the items they purchase? If you want to fix the problem, then be proactive and be part of the solution..

          • avatar Paul says:

            Savebears,

            I am all for paying a fee/tax for non-consumptive use/equipment. But, do you really think the hunting community wants to give up the monopoly that they have for being the primary funding source? To me this is a “pay to play” system so that means that non-consumptive users will get more say in the use of public lands than they do now. Do you really think that hunters and trappers will accept this? I don’t.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Paul,

            Until things change, you are talking about an unknown, making the effort to institute something different might go a long ways bridging the gap that the various groups have.

            Right now, it is perceived that the non-consumptive users don’t contribute. That is not my perception, I have worked within the system, but it is a perception held by many. It does not matter the subject, those who are perceived to have contributed the most, get the most control, it happens in our elections, it happens in our ability to choose the best parking place.

            Humans have equated wealth/money to control. I am talking from pure experience, not speculating..

          • avatar Savebears says:

            And Paul, if the state legislatures instituted a law requiring a non-hunting license, there is really not much the hunting community can do about it, the agencies are going to look at dollars.

          • avatar Paul says:

            Savebears,

            I don’t doubt anything that you said. I honestly do not know why more on my side do not push for non-consumptive users to pay more. I pay taxes and fees on just about every service that I can think of, so why not on one of the things that I value most? Tack on to non-consumptive products something like those insane fees that the airlines get away with. At least these fees would be going for a good cause, and not improving someone’s bottom line. You are right that something like this may make for a good middle ground in the disputes that both side have with each other. I know it would for me.

        • avatar Gary Wilson says:

          Savebears, there is VERY little places in Idaho where hunting doesnt occur. I’m all for paying an annual license fee. I pay them every time I visit a National Park, and I had the Sawtooth plates on my vehicle, and I also wasn’t one of those that complained when they had that rule to pay for access in the SNRA trailheads a while back. Bring it on. I enjoy trekking in public lands, and like most hikers/photographers are in them a majority of the year. Not just during hunting season. I would rather see a variety of wildlife on the lands. You can hunt on just about every goddamn public land in Idaho except for the miniscule small stretch of land that makes up Yellowstone. So, dont give me the bull that “Idaho’s lands” are being lost to hunters. I call BS on that. Hunters can hunt everywhere for the most part, and there is not many areas of the state that aren’t open to wildlife extraction.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Gary you can call BS all you want, I am simply posting my opinion based on being a former wildlife agency employee as well as being employed by the federal government for over 26 years, you want more say, then pay the piper. As the hunters of this country have footed the majority of the bills for many decades now, they will continue to have a front row seat at the table. Like it or not, that is the way it currently is.. Hunters have paid for the areas for what you call “Wildlife Extraction”

            I am a hunter, but I also spend the other months of the year in the woods, either doing studies, or hiking and camping.

            You sound like another vocal anti hunter, which there are quite a number of on this website, but right now, with the various proposals and delistings going on, your voice is not really being heard where it needs to be.

          • avatar CodyCoyote says:

            You guys do realize that a significant portion of so-called public ‘Wildlife Conservation Funds ‘ comes from excise taxes on sporting goods paid by the entirety of the outdoorsy public, not just hunters…things like binoculars and camp stoves, sleeping bags , and tents . Furthermore, my own Wyoming Game & Fish Department as recently as the 1970’s was completely self-sufficient in funding, the bulk of it from hunting and fishing licenses. Now it only gets about half its revenue to manage hunting from the hunters of wildlife itself , and has to draw on a multiplicity of sources to meets its budget. It gets about a quarter of its funding directly from the federal government ( i.e. taxpayers in Rhode Island and Hawaii et al ) and a huge chunk from the State Legislature ( which comes with ideological policy strings attached, unfortunately . Actually , they are steel cables…). Consequentially , Wyo G&F is no longer autonomous, and does not fully set wildlife/game/hunting policy all by itself. Science gets shoved to the rear, and political appointees on the Wyo Game and Fish Commission make some pretty bad policy instead. What right does the Republican Governor’s good buddy and financial supporter—the owner of a big cement plant in Cheyenne—have in setting state wildlife policy anyway ? What’s his credibility and qualification ? Thatw as the case during some very crucial years in the 1990’s, and the makeup of the state Game & Fish board is pretty lamentable on any given day. The Buck– and the Bull, and the Ram— stop there. The various big game species don’t even come close to paying their own way with license tags, except for Pronghorn. Surprisingly , Elk are a big loser for Wyoming, requiring a LOT of subsidy due to fewer hunters buying general licenses or worse, not applying for limited quota tags. Even though Wyoming’s elk population is at record numbers almost everywhere, too many of the seasons are severely limited quota due to poor hunting management for the past 30 years or so. To my mind that is coincidental with G&F having to get outside funding and make concessions to livestock and outfitting and forego biology and range conservation management of the herds themselves. They began overhunting prime bulls and filled the high country with too many licensed outfitter camps. Hunting is actually the problem, not the solution to big game management currently in Wyoming in too many critical areas.

            Why ? because the money shifted.
            Why ? because the North American Wildlife Conservation Model is obsolete ( since about 1960 when big game herds achieved restoration and plateaued at sufficient numbers for both hunting and nonconsumtive wildlife management , back from the abyss of market hunting in the late 1800’s. But from there forward, Wyo G&F went over to using hunting for revenue rather than what is good for the game itself . Then came grizzly management which G&F has never gotten a good biologic sense for, let alone developed a workable plan . Now wolves. Now EVERYTHING is politics in wildlife, it seems. Where did the biology and the ecology go ? The North American wildlife model is old school, pertinent and useful to another era only. We failed to adapt it to modern times to actually favor the wildlife instead of favor the hunter by providing unrealistically high artifically sustained ” put and take ” game herds for the hunting public…a public which itself has changed and largely moved away from hunting in general and what’s left just want 6-point or better trophy bulls for the wall. Keep shooting all the big bulls and pretty soon tour herds get stunted and shunted. I’ve seen just that in my short life on Earth ( 61 years) out my back door in Cody. Too many elk , not enough trophy bulls, less general meat and attrition hunts and more elitist trophy hunts not producing.

            Every wildlife species seems to be managed politically these days, and the money behind that is weirdly prioritized , both publically and privately; far too much dependent on special interests and too little on what’s best for the animals themselves. Throw in rampant energy and mineral development and some ill-placed subdiviosions and fragmentation of habitat due to human encroachment, and there is almost no place for a North American Wildlife Management credo , Version 2.0, to work. Whatever you think Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation , Safari CLub, and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife contribute to wildlife conservation , think again. They still do not grasp the essential difference between an elk as wildlife and that same elk as big game. Elk is a noun…game is a verb. Wildlife are to be preserved , then conserved . Game is to be hunted and killed, QED. Reconcile THAT.

            Follow the money. Then , let’s put some appointees on the state G&F Commission who are not political but pragmatic, and thus will not be beholden to ranching and commercial for-profit hunting clubs and other vested interests, but answer only to the needs of wildlife in the context of what is doable and practical in these modern times of fragmented habitats and shifting demographics.

            One of my mantras — ‘ Wolves are wildlife, too.’

          • avatar WM says:

            Cody,

            ++You guys do realize that a significant portion of so-called public ‘Wildlife Conservation Funds ‘ comes from excise taxes on sporting goods paid by the entirety of the outdoorsy public, not just hunters…things like binoculars and camp stoves, sleeping bags , and tents .++

            I do not believe that is a factually true statement. If I am not mistaken you are referring to the federal Pittman Robertson Act enacted in 1937 (it applies a federal exise tax on hunting rifles, ammunition and archery equipment) or “Wildlife Restoration Act” funds, or the Dingell Johnson Act (modeled after P-R in 1950, it assesses an exise tax on fishing equipment).

            To my knowledge there is no federal exise tax on general camping or optical equipment. I also don’t think there is a state exise tax in WY on such equipment, although like other purchases of goods there is a sales tax on many items (please correct me if I am wrong on that).

            The federal P-R/D-J exise taxes are collected at the manufacture point, and are redistributed to individual states based on formulas (the exact terms of which I have forgotten) based on population and number of hunting/fishing licenses sold in that state.

            Some of the funds are earmarked for certain types of wildlife projects, and they generally benefit ALL wildlife, not just hunted species, since many have to do with habitat improvement.

            P-R: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/federalaid/pittmanrobertson.html

            D-J: http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/FASPORT.HTML

            And, here is a mystery. It has been rumoured that the 1995-96 wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and ID were partially funded from P-R exise taxes. I do wish someone could factually confirm or refute this assertion with links to authoritative references.

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          SB,
          I fully agree with your 8:57 pm post.

          Man…. I am going to have to mark this day on the calendar. Carry on, Col. ☺ ☺

        • avatar Gary Wilson says:

          @ Ralph,

          If you want to grab the statistics, just go to the IDFG website:

          http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/stats.aspx?season=general&game=elk&yr=2010

          and you can download all the cvs files of the hunter report card numbers. It’s got every statistic you need. Then if you know a bit of excel, you can get the real numbers from it. The numbers being painted by the harvest statistics dont show the same (mis)information as what all the antis claim about wolves. However it does paint a much clearer picture to why the elk might have declined in places like the stanley basin, and wolves werent the main culprit. Clear mismanagement by the IDFG seems like the more likely culprit when you add up the numbers of the amount of elk being taken in those zones in the early part of last decade.

  44. avatar Utah Guy says:

    I personally feel the rhetoric on both sides of the wolf debate is to the point that is destructive to both sides and makes it difficult to seek out the truth.

    I am a hunter and a conservationist. The fact that hunter dollars have done A LOT for conservation efforts in the US is not lost on me. In fact hunter dollars have likely been the primary funding source for conservation efforts in the last 50 years, if not more. Sure one could question the motives but the fact remains. In my eyes a true sportsman is one that is concerned about conservation and has a love and repsect for the species that he/she hunts.

    As a hunter and conservationist I only want to see balance amongst all species. Most hunters hate wolves not just because they have big teeth and eat desireable big game animals, they also hate wolves because they are not allowed to manage them in balance with other species. Many hunters hate the wolf because it represents a bigger political battle, it feels as if the wolf is meant to be a start to end hunting. Whether that’s true or not, many hate the wolf for those reasons.

    While it might be true that looking at Montana for example there are not a lot of wolves statewide, many of those wolves can be concentrated in smaller areas and have a significant impact on other species in those areas.

    Balance is all I ask for and what most states are working towards despite the rhetoric and hunting is one of the tools that can be used. Most states are working on management plans that include managing wolves at sustainable levels with provisions for ranchers and problem wolves. I do not want to see the wolf poisoned or abolished. I want to see the wolf in the landscape but I do not want to see the wolf protected at all costs or I may find myself one day too hating the wolf.

  45. avatar Nancy says:

    Gary Wilson – repeating your comments below because that “reply” button doesn’t always appear after a post for some reason… Ralph?

    But I did want to say, you are RIGHT ON with this response to Paul:

    +Paul, you hit the nail right on the head in my opinion. I have been stating for many years now, much to the chagrin of everyone that if the state of Idaho is going to legislate hunting everywhere, then we need the freaking feds to step in and create a national park somewhere in Central Idaho, whether it’s the White Clouds…or a swath of the Pioneers. Or upgrading the SNRA into an area where wildlife is allowed the chance to survive and live out it’s existence without the fear of being hunted. I always laugh when I see that the greatest hunting records in teh state were from the old time days of the 50′s and 60s. They don’t allow game to get large anymore in the state, because they are practically killed off before they reach their prime. I’m so tired of it, that it’s becoming ridiculous. Everywhere you go in idaho, the wildlife is considered “game” and hunted. Central Idaho is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but not one spot in that area is practically free from the range of hunters and doesn’t face pressure. It’s time. Time for some places in Idaho where we have our mini-yellowstone free from the hunting crowd that thinks all wildlife are just game and meant to be hunted or just trapped. ..and I don’t consider myself a tree hugger. I just want a mini-yellowstone to be established somewhere, anywhere there. Let a bull elk live to be 15 to 20 years of age. I have my doubts that many bulls in Idaho ever reach that age+

  46. avatar Cobra says:

    I highly doubt you’ll see a bull reach 15-20 years of age in Idaho. Remember we have wolves.
    Also, there are record book animals taken every year from Idaho, maybe not as many as the good old days, but they are taken.

  47. avatar Louise Kane says:

    I started to read this thread and want to make a comment related to the public’s input regarding Idaho’s wolf management plan. For those of you who wonder what the responses/comments to the Idaho solicitation actually said, I am in the process of organizing, and categorizing those comments according to the several classifications i.e general solicitation, invited hunters ect that Idaho used. Idaho’s online solicitation included a general solicitation as well as an invited hunters solicitation.

    I am doing this because I was unable to find any document that summarized the comments other than a one page summary that outlined the range of comments. If one exists I would be happy to learn of it.

    In any event, it’s my contention that federal and state managers do not play fairly when it comes to using stakeholder’s input. I also do not believe that these comments are integrated into wildlife management plans consistently. It seems that the paradigm that calls for killing predators, in response to cattle and ungulate depredations, for wildlife management is outdated and that many Americans do not want to see state or federal funds used for trapping, snaring, poisoning or shooting wildlife.

    To test my theory, I started looking at Idaho. I am have begun surveying the comments. To date, we have catalogued more than 2000 of the comments in the first 100 pages that were received by the public in response to Idaho’s wolf management plan. It appears that even in wolf-conflicted Idaho the public comments seem to be overwhelmingly concerned about wolves being managed too severely, or are not in support of trapping and snaring, and/or want wolves to be a part of the landscape. Its difficult to determine what portion of the comments are from idaho only because they are mixed into the general solicitation. However, we are noting the state of the responder when possible. Of note is that in the invited hunter solicitation a good many hunters are concerned that the wolf management plan is too severe and or do not agree with trapping.

    I have not completed the catalogue of comments yet but intend to have the 17000,00 completed in the next two weeks.

    I would like to know if Idaho, Montana and Wyoming used the public’s input in designing their management plans and or placed a value on the majority opinion?

    Plans like Idaho’s are disheartening for the many of us who want to see science prevail, who would like to see ecosystems where organisms are allowed to play out their intended roles, who hope that wildlife populations might be allowed to live without the threat of hunts designed to eliminate entire families of animals, as when entire wolf packs have been eliminated, or who want to see an animal aging naturally.

    For those of you ready to attack my qualifications, I am a JD and have an MA in marine science and policy. I worked in Washington on the essential fish habitat regulations and was part of a team cataloguing comments for the federal government. I come to the issue of wolves, however, as a professed lover of wolves, saddened and perplexed by the continued intolerance of predators and especially wolves. It does not take an advanced degree to have compassion, to want to see landscapes untouched by escalated killing policies, and to wish for a different approach to the management practices that use our tax money to kill the wildlife that they profess to conserve. Look at the US Fish and Wildlife mission statement on the website.

    What has changed in Idaho, in the west, from when wolves were hunted into extinction?

    Please look at Washington’s wolf management plan that calls for integrating education, for reducing human predator conflicts, and for compensation for depredated livestock as wolf management tools. Washington wisely used their public’s input in designing the plan. Hopefully this is the tide turning. Its been a mockery of our democratic process to have a non-germane rider remove wolves from the ESA, and then to prevent judicial review.

    If anyone would like to see the results from the Idaho comments, I would be glad to post.

    Finally to address some thread of the comments made much earlier, regardless of whether the Lolo region has 31 or 50 wolves, if the state plans to kill 60 and is successful, how is that even remotely reasonable management? How can we argue that extermination of one animal from a region is sound or science-based wildlife management?

    I love the Edward Abbey quote.
    we can only hope that a more civilized modern day, monkey wrench gang might stop Idaho from using our tax dollars to try and kill all of the wolves of the Lolo region.

  48. avatar Louise Kane says:

    I’ll be glad to post when I am completed. I was hoping to have them done before the state started killing the Lolo wolves.

  49. avatar Don says:

    I am 46 years old, and I have been all over the Targhee National Forest over the last 25 years. I hunt, but I really won’t shoot anything unless I can drive to it with some kind of vehicle. I really just like picking up shed antlers, and just getting into the woods. I have had the pleasure of having squirrels drop seeds on my head, and even caught what they have dropped. Their chirps would warn off the animals in front of me. Occasionally, a Pine Martin might make a stand with me. I have also crossed paths with black bears, walked up on a sleeping coyote, walked up on a sleeping mountain lion, and had a Grizzly follow me 13 miles before I got to see him 40 feet away from me. I’ve had elk, deer, and antelope herds walk up on me. Now, I see nothing. I hear nothing. Although, I find wolf tracks on every ridge and slope where I used to find nothing but shed antlers. I don’t think the wolves will wipe out everything, but I do think a person will be killed by wolves. I just hope it’s somebody that has something to do with the wolves being in the forest.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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