Dr. Franz Camenzind weighs in on wolf hunting and the population reduction it will bring. He asks what kind of country are we to recover a population of an animal only to promptly start killing large numbers of them.

Good question.

Wolf High: Is It Now All Downhill For Wolf Numbers In The American West? Dr. Franz Camenzind – Wildlife Art Journal.

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About The Author

Ken Cole

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

143 Responses to Wolf High: Is It Now All Downhill For Wolf Numbers In The American West?

  1. avatar Nancy says:

    Excellent article Ken.

  2. avatar Ted Clayton says:

    Yes, it does now seem clear that the density & spread of wolves will be curtailed & controlled. That wolf packs will not be allowed & protected, ‘wherever they want to be’.

    But no, that doesn’t mean it is “now all downhill” for wolves, from here on. There are districts where some increases are planned (WA). Stability of target population goals will at times require expansion. Admittedly ‘exploitative’ interests should be expected to ‘lobby’ for additional local packs.

    Federal agencies are working with state agencies to establish what they figure should be the minimal wolf populations, and distributions, to keep a healthy gene pool in the region (Northwest) overall. The main part of this is now a done-deal, but tuning & tweaking will be on-going.

    Hunting & trapping (of wolves) could become very popular (more so than it plainly already is, at its outset), raising demand for bigger harvests, which would necessitate a larger standing population (trading off against other prey-harvests, to make more wolves available?) and there could be (‘probably will be’) important biological responses by preyed-upon wolf populations that are either not recognized or are ‘studiously ignored’.

    It’s understandable that those who have anticipated a relatively free, ‘hands-off’, or even ‘Sacred Cow’ type approach to wolves will now be disappointed, even think/feel that ‘something went wrong’ … but many others have indeed expected all along that wolves would ultimately be ‘closely managed’.

    • avatar JEFF E says:

      un-mitagated horseshit

    • avatar Mike says:

      Twisted.

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Jeff, Mike;

      Is this the outcome that you expected?

      Did you support wolf-reintroduction, to establish a sport-hunt?

      To see them delisted, shot and trapped?

      You didn’t see that coming? You didn’t expect that to happen?

      Your lovingly-polished vision is upside-down in the ditch?

      And the explanation must be that everyone else is stupid?

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        hate to burst your bubble cupcake but it was always the plan to “responsibly” manage wolves at some point.

        What is not happening is the responsible part.

        What is happening is a wholesale reduction in numbers to the bare minimum thought by the states that will keep the wolves from being relisted for the remaining time that they will be subject to federal oversight, ~4.5 years.

        Meanwhile the livestock industry and there drones such as Simpson will be doing all that they can to rewrite the ESA so that wolves will not be able to be relisted regardless of the population or range.

        In fact they will depend on those clueless such as yourself to try and deflect the facts while that plan moves forward.

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          No, the Fed isn’t stupid, and neither are the States.

          They are working together, within the law, according to plan. The outcome-on-the-ground is consistent with legal & social realities.

          The States are on the right side of Federal laws, but they do have wide latitude, themselves. They always did, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise, or require the invention of a blame-object.

          It is something of a long-shot, but the hunting/trapping interest offers a possible route to what some would prefer – higher wolf numbers. If the demand is there, States have the option of setting their target-populations higher.

          Thus far, the wolf-take is not meeting reduction-goals. Additional incentives are being considered, to increase the kill. Still, interest & enthusiasm do seem very strong, and it is reasonable at this stage to credit the ‘newness’ of the hunt for its failure to meet the quota.

          However, no doubt about it, as wolves are exposed to hunting & trapping, they will become much harder to take. Additionally, trapping experience in both Canada and Alaska underscore trappers’ preference to keep populations high (and to trade game-animals for more fur … making them an ally of those who want more wolves).

          As wolves learn to fear humans, they will tend to stay away from them, and everything associated with them. This is plainly visible in the historic record, and is confirmed across large expanses of the continent where healthy populations of wolves were never eliminated.

          Fear of humans, alone, brought on by hunting & trapping, could in & of itself, do a lot to raise numbers … and at the same time reduce complaints that justify reductions of numbers.

          The hunting & trapping of wolves is a responsible element of the management plan, and it is not at all far-fetched that it could create the conditions that would allow for higher populations. The only cost is that ‘pure advocates’ will have to share the resource with other stakeholders. But … that’s going to happen anyway.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            wow
            Ted
            how will wolves escape 40,000 to 60,000 permits a year, men like Branson who set 90 snares and traps at a time, and a mindset of extreme, bizarre, surreal, and dedicated hate? This is what wolves are up against. The state plans have nothing, not a shred of science, logic or fairness, to do with responsible management.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Louise,

              The impulse to vilify & demonize hunters & trappers, is the same natural (but ‘problematic’) reaction that leads some to vilify & demonize wolves.

              Taking – killing – animals is not a matter of hatred, on the part of hunters & trappers.

              About 97% of us eat animals, which makes everyone collaborators in the killing. Most avert their gaze from the moral & ethical facts.

              Others look the truth in the eye, and accept – “I am the hunter.”

              It is no more inherently morally & ethically objectionable that humans would take wolves, than that wolves would take ungulates – or coyotes and cougars.

              Indeed, all apex predators make a special point of taking one another, at every opportunity.

              It’s basic biology/ecology.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              Ted if you don’t see hate as part of the equation when it comes to wolves you must be blind

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Louise,

              Hate happens; it exists. But it seems overrated.

              It isn’t an important motivation of hunters & trappers – or farmers (who kill their animals, to sell the carcasses). It is fairly well-accepted that farmers “love” their animals … and much the same situation exists with those who harvest/take/kill wildlife.

              More problematic, perhaps, is that “the H-word” appears to been adopted as a term to indicate ‘blanket’ disdain & condemnation, without really ‘meaning’ anything.

      • avatar WM says:

        The FWS April 2009 delisting rule discusses the NRM states’ intent to manage the population no lower than about 1,000, still 2X+ what the minimum contemplated under the 1994 EIS at 300+ buffer = 450 and 45 breeding pairs.

        The fact that Mr, Camenzind fails to mention the reason there were 2,000+ was because of the litigation and delisting delays. The fact that the states are rapidly heading toward the 1,000 is disappointing, but not unexpected, in the big picture.

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          A timely fact, and a very good point, WM.

          It was never a good idea to paint the goal as wolf-sightings for all, and a pack within earshot, everywhere.

          It was a disservice all-round, to inflate the intended wolf-presence.

  3. avatar Tom Page says:

    I think it’s less important to focus the discussion on wolf numbers at any given time than it is to work on improving cultural tolerance over time. As we’ve seen since 1996, it doesn’t take long to have lots of wolves running around. If the cultural tolerance develops over the next generation or two (anything quicker is an unreasonable expectation), and the states get more skilled at exerting political control (rather than the heavy-handed and belligerent approach currently in place) there may be wolves in places that we can’t even imagine now. This shift can be enhanced through cumulative long-term transfers of land into predator-tolerant ownership.

    • avatar Mtn Mama says:

      …”If the cultural tolerance develops over the next generation or two (anything quicker is an unreasonable expectation)…”

      Herein lies my greatest hope! I am raising 2 young naturalist. I realize that there are some unethical Hunters and Sport Hunters who are raising children and will pass their enthusiasm for killing on to their offspring. All in all I agree with Tom. Hopefully the wolf population can hang on that long.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “As we’ve seen since 1996, it doesn’t take long to have lots of wolves running around”

      That kind of comment is really confusing to me Tom, as it might be to anyone following this blog. I’ve seen wolves 3 times and heard them four times over the last 16 years (southwest Montana)
      So if you wouldn’t mind, please clarify the “it doesn’t take long to have lots of wolves running around” comment by suggesting areas where, all those wolves are running around, (outside of Yellowstone, of course)

      And how much “running around” are they actually doing given the fact that their populations are so incredibly small, tiny in fact, compared to other predators?

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Nancy, I see or hear wolves almost everyday here in NW Montana, in fact I was late for an appointment this morning because I stopped to watch 7 of them horsing around and playing in a meadow about a mile from the house.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          Nice SB…. but do you agree that there are lots of wolves running around now? Can’t fathom that when you compare them to just about any other species (of wildlife) in the western states.

        • avatar Mike says:

          SB –

          You live in what was the last, true refuge for wolves west of the Mississippi in the lower 48. Not all places are like that.

      • avatar Tom Page says:

        Going from 50 to well over 1000 in 15 years exceeded all pre-release expectations, Nancy. In the long run, 15 years is an eyeblink. Compared to most other predators, wolves breed fast and have lots of babies. They also cover lots of new ground. With cultural tolerance, numbers could increase rapidly.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        Thank you Nancy
        I am also confused about the comments that state that wolf populations are so high. High compared to the tens of thousands that once existed before the campaign to exterminate them? high compared to other predators? or high compared to the none or close to none after they were eliminated?
        I guess two thousand animals in 3 of our largest states is a similarly huge success story – until we kill those off again

        • avatar Tom Page says:

          I never wrote they were high…I wrote (basically) that they can increase rapidly to whatever level we allow them to, given certain biological factors, and they increased greatly from 1996 to 2011. It’s a narrow (and politically useless) argument to focus on numbers at any given point in time, rather than focusing on trying to change attitudes over time. The fact is that most people don’t care about the difference between 1000 or 2000 or 200 or 500, but there are a lot of people who care about the difference between 0 and 150.

  4. avatar TC says:

    Ted – are you ‘winking’ at us or do you have a ‘twitch’? Write what you mean and stop referring to nebulous third parties. You want to trap and/or hunt wolves, and you think they belong in carefully controlled zoos without fences; sack up and say so. Quit mincing around, take a stand, and then defend it.

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      TC – I understand the “zoo without fences” simile, and that some folks perceive it negatively, but that isn’t how I see or characterize the policy.

      1.) Modern zoos aren’t big on fences.
      2.) Natural habitats also have bounds.
      3.) I don’t use zoos as a diss-object.

      Hunting has lost a good deal of its position in society, since say about 1960. True. But still, even at low-ebb it is a powerful social theme & pragmatic reality. And hunting (esp. “subsistence activities”) could ‘come back’, in a big way.

      Attempting to portray one animal (like the wolf) as Special, while dismissing comparable animals (like coyotes) as Not Special, leads to credibility problems with the wider audience. There’s a conspicuous fallacy involved.

      Having a relatively small number of wolf packs on more-or-less selected territories & den-sites, which are closely managed as what some bemoan as open-air zoos, gives us a very valuable open-ended research setting & opportunity (“labs”). I expect historically important wildlife biology & population genetics results to be forthcoming.

      It’s not the perfect situation or outcome, from some points of view (pro & con) but it has enough potential (and limits) that it need not be posed as the sworn enemy of the perfect, either.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        Wolves and coyotes are special. They are specially targeted for special hate and killing programs

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          Louise,

          “Wolves and coyotes are special.”

          Most of us do ‘like’ certain species or categories of animals, more than others. We feel as though we ‘relate’ to some creatures more, and to others less so (or negatively).

          There are noticeable ‘fashions’ that come & go, bringing first one animal to the forefront, then another, as the other recedes.

          Native American tribes selected “totems” from among the wildlife, both for their group as a whole, and on an individual basis.

          Wolves & coyotes have recently become special to some folks, particularly with a slice of the public who share certain general views of Nature (and Humans).

          Other groups of folks, though, have been impervious to this (relatively new) attitude toward predators. Many Americans view coyotes & wolves, as the British viewed the Sacred Cows of India. Though they lived in India for generations, the British never come around to seeing cows as Indians see them.

          Same with making canines in America “special”. It’s a way of looking at things that many just never come around to.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            Ted,
            first off you entirely missed the post, it was fairly obvious sarcasm.
            as for your post ending with “Same with making canines in America “special”. It’s a way of looking at things that many just never come around to.”

            I think you entirely miss the distinction and relevancy of special in the context of the argument of how wolves are managed and why some of us object so strongly to what we feel is persecution and mismanagement. Whether wolves are special to some of us is not the issue in the current management paradigms although I believe public opinion should take a greater priority. Wolves should be considered special in that they occupy an important niche as apex predators. When they have been removed en mass in the past, there are considerable impacts. Despite the differing opinions about these impacts being positive or negative, the best available science seems to argue that perhaps one of the most harmful threats facing us is due to the removal of large apex predators and carnivores from the ecosystems where they naturally occur. The idea of wolves being special does have meaning in the context of current management models but the reason that they are special is not being considered, or is being ignored while politics and hate override science. I happen to believe that wolves are special for other reasons but I also think that about wildlife in general. Human population teeters on 7 billion individuals. A mind boggling and unsustainable number. When populations of wild animals that used to number in the millions, whether it be bison, wolves, lions, tigers, or whatever, are now counted in the hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands, its time to adjust our ideas about managing wildlife. I am ashamed and disgusted that we as a species call on killing as the primary tool for predator conflicts, perceived or real. When it comes to wolves, to think that a group of experts in a task force could rationalize using a number of 150 wolves or 10 breeding pairs, as the target number for recovery, is just indefensible. I know many here will disagree with me. But this is where we are now, arguing about wolves being recovered many years ago and that the states should have been able to start killing them as soon as they reached that measly recovery goal of a hundred or a hundred and fifty wolves. We are stuck with the plan that was a result of political compromise, that abrogated the intent of the ESA by using the deadly and ironic classification of special status for wolves that allowed for takes of wolves in the first place, and a ridiculously low goal for populations. anyhow I was being sarcastic in my original post, something you missed

  5. avatar Jon Way says:

    Excellent article Franz. Truly a shameful movement by the feds to let the states come up with these insane management plans. Meanwhile, the USFWS is ignoring wolves in the Northeast and (apparently) refuses to hire a biologist to help restore wolves there…
    See:
    http://mainewolfcoalition.org/

  6. avatar Nancy says:

    “Attempting to portray one animal (like the wolf) as Special, while dismissing comparable animals (like coyotes) as Not Special, leads to credibility problems with the wider audience. There’s a conspicuous fallacy involved”

    Who said anything about dismissing coyotoes Ted?

    I happen to enjoy seeing and hearing coyotes but I haven’t seen or heard them in awhile becauses its calving season around here and WS, as usual, is doing their very best to make sure its a “predator free” landscape for the ranchers.

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      I was disappointed, that genetics has taken coyotes out of the dog-origins picture, Nancy. I think it can be argued that they are a better fit as a proxy model for humans, than the standard assertion of wolves in this role.

      [Ben Franklin liked the Turkey better than the Bald Eagle.]

      We see the hunting & trapping of wolves posed as inappropriate, and we see the wolf portrayed in a special, unique light. We can’t make one animal “more”, and exempt it from standard wildlife management, without casting other animals as “less”.

      Or in the formulation of George Orwell: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
      =====

      True, there are those who honestly object to the hunting or trapping itself, and will condemn it equally in all species-contexts.

      That hunting/killing is bad/should stop (maybe for predators, while allowed for less-equal game) is a separate topic.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Forgive me Ted, but your point is?

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          No problem, Nancy.

          The point to keep in view is, it is the Citizens who control the polices & programs applied to wolves, through the ballot box.

          When voters think the wolf-advocacy is just singing from their wolf-hymnal, their credibility suffers, and their ability to influence the vote is diminished.

          For the biggest chunk of the electorate, it is seeing the advocacy ‘elevate’ wolves over other animals that causes them to ‘tune out’.

          • avatar Mike says:

            Wolves were “elevated” because they were almost extinct in the lower 48.

            It’s a strange argument to blame environmentalists, when they were the ones who brought wolves back in the lower 48.

            If you want to blame anyone, blame those who shot and trapped the wolf into near-oblivion.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              The Endangered Species Act “elevates” wolves while reestablishing them in a given region.

              It then “de-elevates” them, when the job is done.

              No; ‘lionizing’ or ‘romanticizing’ the wolf is no crime or sin, or character-defect, in & of itself – we tend to do that with whatever is most important to us.

              But that can be a counterproductive ‘public relations’ approach, for sure.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++
              No; ‘lionizing’ or ‘romanticizing’ the wolf is no crime or sin, or character-defect, in & of itself – we tend to do that with whatever is most important to us.

              But that can be a counterproductive ‘public relations’ approach, for sure.++

              Seems to work well for the NRA.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            and where is your data that points to this “biggest chunk of the electorate” and when and where was this vote taken?

            Here is a clue for the clueless.

            The “biggest chunk of the electorate” don’t care or know about what is happening with the wolves.

            Methinks you are swiming in the shallow end of the pool.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              I’m not above sticking a wet finger in the breeze, to collect some basic data.

              If you need more-formal confirmation, consider current & evolving wolf-policy as a likely proxy of citizen opinion on the subject.

              And keep an eye on the election-returns.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              No cupcake. has nothing to do with citizen opinion. In fact citizen opinion has consistently been in support of wolves on the landscape from the beginning.

              Now special interest lobbies, in particular the livestock industry, which ARE calling the shots is a different matter.

              The fact that you are completely clueless to that basic paradigm tells us every thing there is to know about your knowledge of the subject matter. And is downgraded with nearly every post you make.
              Perhaps it might be a good idea to get up to speed on the issues and then you can make all the smarmy posts you desire, and have at lest “some” validity.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              “Now special interest lobbies, in particular the livestock industry, which ARE calling the shots is a different matter.

              The cattle-barons can’t trump the ballot-box, Jeff.

              “Leading” typically involves correctly reading which way the crowd is going, then getting out in front, and checking frequently over the shoulder.

              “Votes”, not conspiracies, is guiding wolf-policy.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              the cattle barons Are trumping the ballot box cupcake.

              downgraded again

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Underestimating Democracy is a known error, Jeff.

              We trim far bigger & stronger adversaries than the cattle industry down to size, through that-there ballot box, year in ‘n year out.

              There is more to be gained by admitting that your fellow citizens don’t see through your eyes, than trying to claim that Democracy is broken.

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        Who is We?

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          “We” is the general audience; the bulk of society who neither advocate earnestly nor object vehemently.

          “They” are the ones who mean the most.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            annnnnd you are the elected?? or self-proclaimed?? spokesperson for the great “silent majority”??

          • avatar Ken Cole says:

            I’m sure it’s pretty easy to defend the status quo. You don’t have to challenge yourself at all.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Hi Ken,

              I noticed your blog, tracking ‘or7 wolf’ on Google News. Good-looking project, nicely organized, and some good/interesting participation.

              If it was only me, guys, your favorite issue wouldn’t be going the way it is.

        • avatar louise kane says:

          Ted was it the ballot box that took wolves off the ESA? I thought that was one of those non germane sleazy riders that are used to try and circumvent democracy.

          I guess you also have not heard about super pacs and citizen v. united?

          • avatar Ted Clayton says:

            Louise,

            Plenty will agree that the ESA has been applied in political ways; that it serves a political agenda.

            Since the Canis lupus species was never even remotely endangered, plenty do wonder how it came under the ESA, at all.

            • avatar JB says:

              Then “plenty” don’t know anything about the ESA. One of the reasons we have an ESA is that prior legislation failed to adequately protect species that were being wiped out in one place, but had stable populations elsewhere. The definition of endangered species makes it clear that the intent isn’t just to prevent extinction: endangered species “means any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range”.

              Further, an examination of the congressional record makes it clear that the intent of the ESA was not simply to prevent extinction, but to promote recovery. In fact, this too is captured in the Act’s definition of “conserve”: “the terms ‘conserve,’ ‘conserving,’ and ‘conservation’ mean to use and the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to this Act are no longer necessary.”

              Else we can go back to allowing endless localized extinctions under the mantra that “there are healthy populations in [insert responsible country]”.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              JB,

              “Then “plenty” don’t know anything about the ESA.“.

              Or any oher Act of Congress, either, and it couldn’t matter less.

              If voters think something waddles & quacks like politics, then next time they come into power, it’s a sitting political duck.

              Although the ESA did some good things, embodies some good principles, it went astray. It’s now a Tim Tebow.

            • avatar JB says:

              I see things a bit differently, Ted. Nothing in the ESA has been changed to make it a more aggressive tool to promote the conservation of imperiled species. Indeed, nearly all of the amendments have sought to increase “flexibility”–which many would argue essentially weakened the Act. In fact, the political influences that have been documented show impropriety on the part of those who don’t want species listed–not the other way around (e.g., Julie McDonald).

              My read: the ESA has not gone “astray”; rather, the same forces that always opposed the protection and conservation of resources simply got better at organizing opposition. And, of course, a fair portion of the public has bought into the silly anti-government ideology of groups like the Tea Party.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              I’m hustling to get off for a big outdoor work-day away, JB.

              Good comment, good points – a nic piece of new candy I won’t be able to resist – and look forward to giving it’s proper due, this evening.

              Have a good day, all. – Ted

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              JB,

              “Indeed, nearly all of the amendments have sought to increase “flexibility”–which many would argue essentially weakened the Act.”

              That’s how a major piece of legislation is normally attacked by its political enemies: by amending it. The Act’s critics describe their changes as ‘reining it in’, or ‘bringing it in line’. The Act’s supporters describe the same modifications as ‘weakening’ or ‘gutting’ the legislation.

              Since there are species that are endangered, and the Fed must take the lead role in intervention efforts, we need the functions of an ESA (by whatever name, or agency). ‘The devil is in the details’.

              “[A] fair portion of the public has bought into the silly anti-government ideology of groups like the Tea Party.”

              The conservative streams of America have been surging, forming identities, testing their muscle. They have their established priorities, though, and know not to get distracted by side-issues (they salute ‘discipline’) like wolves or the ESA, pro or con.

            • avatar Dan says:

              “My read: the ESA has not gone “astray”; rather, the same forces that always opposed the protection and conservation of resources simply got better at organizing opposition.”

              Organization might have been a little better but I think that was in the most part due to a larger opposition group. ESA stepped on more toes than at any other time or case. ESA has always brought on conflict, it’s the nature of restoring and telling people they can no longer do what they were doing. In the wolves case, more people were affected and the collective voice was louder. IMO

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              In all honesty I think that opposition to the ESA is rooted more in a ideological response to what is seen as a federal intervention than any real (or even perceived) toe-stepping. In reality the VAST majority of Americans have not been negatively affected by the ESA in any measurable way.

              The wolf is a case in point. There were no (zero) land-use restrictions with wolves’ reintroduction, and USFWS went out of their way to remove any animal that became a problem for livestock producers. Despite claims that there would be a dead child within a year, in 17 years we haven’t even had an attack, let alone a death. Moreover, (as of 2009) since wolves’ reintroduction Idaho had experienced a slight DECLINE in sheep depredations (which may be attributable to wolves’ impact on coyotes). Likewise, while there is evidence that wolves have impacted elk in a few locations, populations in most units are at or above objective and hunter success rates are relatively stable.

              Let’s be honest, shall we? USFWS has fallen all over themselves in recent years in an attempt to minimize any impacts of the ESA on developers, livestock producers, and extractive industries–in large part to counter the silly rhetoric. Yet the anti-ESA rhetoric continues unfettered; and it emanates most strongly from those who make no secret of their opposition to the federal government in general, along with those who stand to gain from removing any and all environmental laws that slow development or extractive uses of any kind.

              If people were really and truly being harmed by the ESA then we would’ve seen substantive revisions that truly weaken the law. Yet almost 40 years after its passage support for the Act remains strong, and despite continuous attack from extractive industry, the ESA has survived every serious attempt to remove its teeth. This simply wouldn’t be possible if large groups of people were really and truly being impacted.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              JB,

              “[O]pposition to the ESA is rooted more in a ideological response to what is seen as a federal intervention than any real (or even perceived) toe-stepping.”

              That’s good step in the right direction. But ‘environmentalists’ & Co are held more to blame than the Fed.

              The resentment is of ‘those people’ finding ways to come into states & counties and connive to promote their lifestyle priorities, by crafting an endless variety of ways to ‘make an end run’ around the principles of “local jurisdiction”.

              This was a well-developed problem before the current wolf-project. It was part of what incited the original Sagebrush Rebellion.

              ‘Locals’ see environmentalists as seeking ways to erode local authority; they see the ESA as but one tool among many for achieving this, and the wolf as but one surrogate in a long string of ‘excuses/subterfuges’.

              The wolf is no longer the lead ESA ‘issue’. Having conferred official protection on the polar bear, that is now the leading/favorite ‘proof’ (laughing stock) that the ESA is a ‘game’.

              But you’re right, JB: it’s not firstly about the wolf – or the polar bear, spotted owl, snail darter, etc – it’s about using them to achieve political goals across the country, outside the legitimate channels.

              A follow-on to the Sagebrush Rebellion appears to be underway now, and while not the whole story, this ‘enviro-insertion’ dynamic/technique has played a big role.

            • avatar WM says:

              Ted,

              ++A follow-on to the Sagebrush Rebellion appears to be underway now…++

              Care to elaborate a bit on this? Or is it just another dimension of the voodoo Tea Pary shi_ that has this entire country stalled out by a bunch of redneck R’s who are too dumb to figure out what the real game the rich R’s (read as the 1%), are doing to the rest of us?

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Let’s be honest, shall we? USFWS has fallen all over themselves in recent years in an attempt to minimize any impacts of the ESA on developers, livestock producers, and extractive industries–in large part to counter the silly rhetoric. Yet the anti-ESA rhetoric continues unfettered; and it emanates most strongly from those who make no secret of their opposition to the federal government in general++

              Which is why it was a mistake to even go down that road.

              The people who oppose the ESA only seem to respect force and power. Ramping up the ESA and making it even more restrictive and bulldozing over anyone in the way would probably earn their “respect” quicker.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Oh and guns. The USFWS should talk about guns or something too when they talk about the ESA. Or maybe brandish them at press conferences, raise them in the air, and shout? Maybe.

            • avatar JB says:

              Ted:

              It seems you’re choosing to be part of the problem here by perpetuating the myth that environmentalists are using the ESA “outside the legitimate channels…to erode local authority.”

              It isn’t about wresting control from locals, it’s about preserving and protecting species and ecosystems that span cities, counties, states and even countries. The temporary restrictions on development and extractive industries–which, in reality are rare–are a small price to pay to ensure the continued existence of these species and the ecosystem services they provide.

              This isn’t about local people being harmed, it’s about the federal government standing in the way of those who would rape and pillage our lands (public and private) to line their own pockets (the 1% WM mentions). The 1% know they have the wealth and means to squash local opposition to their activities; but they still have to comply with those pesky federal laws–and people like the Koch brothers resent it, deeply.

              Regardless, you seem to have missed my point entirely. If the ESA was as bad as people like you make it to be, it would’ve been scrapped long ago. In reality, only in rare cases (spotted owl, snail darter) does it have any impact on development at all (and those impacts are temporary); nevertheless, these cases get exploited by the far right to achieve their political ends, and the Fox News-fueled dimwits bite– hook, line and sinker.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Don’t bother Ted
            Not to speak for JB, but it is glaringly apparent you do not know WTF you are talking about, even in the most innoxious aspects of the subject matter.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Jeff E.

              Of course there is the person who posts on the Idaho Statesman who goes by the pseudonym, “ForeignOregonian.”

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              ????

            • avatar louise kane says:

              JB said” This isn’t about local people being harmed, it’s about the federal government standing in the way of those who would rape and pillage our lands (public and private) to line their own pockets (the 1% WM mentions). The 1% know they have the wealth and means to squash local opposition to their activities; but they still have to comply with those pesky federal laws–and people like the Koch brothers resent it, deeply.”
              I agree with this 100%, but the law needs amendment to strengthen it, not weaken it. Having Salazar as the head of DOI came at a very bad time, for wolves and the ESA.

    • avatar Barb Rupers says:

      The coyotes that are living near me in western Oregon certainly help keep the population of gophers, moles, voles and ground squirrels in check. I want to keep the coyotes around; interesting to watch and a pleasure to listen to their communications.

  7. avatar bigbrowntrout says:

    Nancy.
    I live here in sw montana, and i do regularly see wolves. I agree that for a time in the early 2000s wolf sightings were much more regular. i feel like the the last few years have been a little slower. but i do see wolves regularly around livingston and frequently while im elk hunting in paradise valley. Ive even seen real mangy wolves midday running across east river road. i also dont view all ranchers as coyote killing machines. Its the black and white attitude on the subject that makes for nothing getting done. but i dont think sightings or sign of either coyote or wolves is rare as you seem to think.

  8. avatar Mtn Mamma says:

    Jeff E- I will assume that your condescending cupcake comment is directed at me. As for me being clueless about wolf management at federal & state level your wrong! I won’t bother to defend my thoughts that the budget bill rider was more an assult on democracy than wolves. I won’t waste my time anymore on this blog. Obviously my optimisitc boots on the ground approach to life doesn’t conform to you “enlightened” sitting around bitching and nitpicking on the internet . The problem with wolf advocates is the divison between groups & thoughts. Instead of a united front, we have been divided and conquered, and wolves have paid the price.

    • avatar JEFF E says:

      Mt Mamma,
      Nope,have not tried to engage you in any conversation at all. No reason to and no plans too

      sorry

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      I won’t waste my time anymore on this blog.

      Now, now – I was just get started, and glad to see your input! “What!? She must not be drinking her Kool Aid!” 😉

      The problem with wolf advocates is…

      That could be an involved investigation. One that I would throw in the pot, is picking Edward Abbey as their go-to guy.

      Edward Abbey, eh?

  9. avatar Robert R says:

    Ted you have made some valid points. I know most want a wolf population far greater than the lower number of breading pairs, which was a joke. They populated far faster than what the alpha female could produce.
    As much as some hate the fish and game of Idaho and Montana for there wolf management the wolf will not be eliminated. They probably will not let the numbers go that low because of the possibly of being relisted.
    The more the wolf gets hunted the better it will adapt and survive. The coyote has been hunted, trapped and hunted more by government trappers and has survived and multiplied and the wolf will do the same.

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Thanks, Robert.

      “They populated far faster than what the alpha female could produce.”

      How do you think that happened/worked?

      “As much as some hate the fish and game of Idaho and Montana…”

      F&G throughout the West are hard-boiled veteran professionals. Like coyotes, they have been hammered on the anvil of reality, for generations, and their cagey ability shows it.

      “The more the wolf gets hunted the better it will adapt and survive.”

      Wolf advocates are quick to assert that having wolf-predation will improve our game-stocks … but they resist recognizing that the same thing will apply to wolves.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        +++They populated far faster than what the alpha female could produce.”+++

        Huh?

        How do you think that happened/worked?

        “The more the wolf gets hunted the better it will adapt and survive.”

        +++Wolf advocates are quick to assert that having wolf-predation will improve our game-stocks … but they resist recognizing that the same thing will apply to wolves.+++

        Let’s put this last statement in reverse, if hunting wolves, will improve wolves, than are you also implying that wolves will improve the game-stocks, so that the refrain of “the wolves are “”””decimatin”””” our elk, spreading deadly tape worms, attacking our kids at bus stops, attacking granny’s in the field, and giving a particular blog site(not this one), and the yammerings of the like of the Rockholms, Bridges and Hemmings(among others)reason to dry up and blow away?

        If so, sounds like it could work.

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          “[D]ry up and blow away.”.

          Yeah, fuming & sputtering is an understandable reaction to frustration; to finding things turning out badly for our hopes & ideas.

          Like basketball players tearing off their jersey and stomping off the court; flipping the crowd the bird & spewing expletives at them, ’cause they’re losing. It’s understandable.

          But it’s not effective. It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t help the cause any. It doesn’t change the score.

          So, yeah, sure, blow off some steam. We know how you feel. But then, try to get yourself back together, get something more effective going, and get back in the game.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Ted,

            Not blowing off any steam at all. You were the individual who made assertions, and in a sense, well, they make sense. However, if your goal was to stir up a hornets nest, someone is going to get stung. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, eh?

            If what you say will be good for wolves, then it’s a win-win for every one. Then perhaps, just perhaps some of the vitriol can begin to go away. If what you say is nothing but an effort to stir up the pot, then please do wait for the next good wind.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Immer,

              “Then perhaps, just perhaps some of the vitriol can begin to go away.”

              Do you really think so?

              Today’s prevailing opinions on wolves (reflected in unfolding policy) sure look a lot like yesteryear’s. I’m not noticing any signs, that views will become something different, next year.

              Maybe it’s another case of “The devil is in the details”.

              ‘Having’ wolves is supported. Having wall-to-wall wolves; having human-habituated wolf-populations, hanging around nonchalantly near humans … that could be a key sticking point.

              On wolves, as in religion, politics, etc, I go on the assumption that some differences among folks are just permanent fixtures of the social scene, and I will have to work with/around them, as they are.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Ted,

              “Then perhaps, just perhaps some of the vitriol can begin to go away.”

              Do I really think so? I’d like to hope so. How about you?

              +++‘Having’ wolves is supported. Having wall-to-wall wolves; having human-habituated wolf-populations, hanging around nonchalantly near humans … that could be a key sticking point.+++

              And I think “most” here would agree. That said, and as echoed by many, why not concentrate the wolf seasons in areas of: depredations; where wolves nonchalantly hang around humans; or where wolves are having negative effects on ungulate populations, and leave wolves alone where they cause no concern. That would be a form of management that would strike a greater accord than the seasons as planned, and in Idaho still going on.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Immer,

              “I’d like to hope [vitriol can begin to go away]. How about you?“.

              Sure, I too hope for noble things. Even some hopeless things. Hope is eternal, and universal.

              First, though, I try to take people & work with them, as they are. I don’t require them to change first, or be more like me, before I’ll deal with them.

              Influencing folks to be different than they are, is secondary for me. A sideline hobby. An expression of hope & optimism.

              I try not to make it a pre-condition.

              “[W]hy not concentrate the wolf seasons in areas of: depredations … and leave wolves alone where they cause no concern.”

              OR7, for starters.

              Human-naive packs will disperse problematic colonizers.

            • avatar Jay says:

              “Human-naive packs will disperse problematic colonizers.”

              Where you’d pull that one from?

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Jay,

              Not everyone agrees that wolves & packs that are comfortable in proximity to humans, their activities and infrastructure, should be viewed as “problematic”.

              Many advocates do recognize, though, that this kind of wolf-behavior is a recipe for trouble.

              Then there are those who approve of wolves being nonchalant about humans, because their desire to see wolves, to photograph them, and generally have the opportunity to interact with them, clouds their judgement (about what is best for the animal).

              Some become so selfish in their attitude toward wolves, that they will, eg, provide food to a wolf that shows an initial neutral tolerance of, eg, traffic on the road, and people who get out of the car with cameras.

              There are those who then toss a part of a sandwich out, the wolf investigates, sniffs, eats … and the rest is history. Those – even firm advocates – who will succumb to such temptations, are nowhere near unusual enough.

              In recognition of a very wide range of important realities & responsibilities, it is better that wolves not be at-easy around people & their affairs.

              It is better to accept the loss of ready & common wolf-viewing opportunities (and other contexts that arise from nonchalance toward & in the human world), and instead to promote management concepts & practices that keep wolves & packs comfortable in natural settings, and averse to anything suggestive of humans.

            • avatar Jay says:

              “Not everyone agrees that wolves & packs that are comfortable in proximity to humans, their activities and infrastructure, should be viewed as “problematic”.

              Many advocates do recognize, though, that this kind of wolf-behavior is a recipe for trouble.”

              So actually what you mean is human-habituated wolves, not human-naive (as in, no experience around people). In that I can agree to some degree in that human-habituated wolves typically are the ones that become agressive towards humans, but that doesn’t mean that every wolf within proximity to human habitation needs to have lead flung at it at every opportunity, as you seem to be suggesting.

            • avatar JB says:

              Ted:

              It is extremely important to distinguish the process of habituation from the process of food-conditioning. Wolves in YNP are, generally speaking, habituated to human presence–meaning the “normal” flight response exhibited around humans has ceased as wolves have “learned” (through repeated exposure) that people pose little threat. Clearly, this hasn’t been a big problem, as millions have come to view wolves in the Lamar, virtually without incident. Habituation can be contrasted with food-conditioning (what you describe) where wolves (or any other animal) start to approach people after learning to associate them with food. Not a bad thing of the animal is a chickadee, but extremely problematic if its a large carnivore. Large carnivores that are food-conditioned are problematic in virtually any context, and these animals ultimately will be killed.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Jay,

              No, the human-habituated term is applied to a specific, closely defined case, and I did mean to point to a wider range of “problematic” situations that can arise.

              The feeding-example is an example, not the point. And feeding-conditioned aggression does not seem to be a high or ‘serious’ risk/threat, because actually there appears to be a lot of fed & feeding-wise wolves, darn few of which ever become “aggressive”. Clandestine feeding is commonplace … and quietly ‘acceptable’, among many.

              I did not go on to make the obvious observation that wolves can be made averse to human situations, by shooting at them on-sight. I wasn’t looking for an opening to advocate for that option … and it would hardly be necessary to do so, since it’s doing well-enough, as-is.

              Nor did I point out that the question/option of which method(s) to use to encourage wolves to be stand-offish of ‘everything-human’ is now fairly moot, since there’s been a generous season on them for several years already.

              The opportunity to have used non-lethal aversion techniques was lost, in the early wolf-states, but it might come into play in WA, and OR F&G is dabbling at it half-heartedly.
              ====

              The hunting of wolves will of course rapidly become very difficult to succeed at. This is probably why quotas have not been met, and why increasingly creative elaborations of the seasons are being offered.

              Trapping-success can be expected to be low at first, but then steadily climb as experience is gained & skills grow. Trapping-success will have a longer improvement-curve, but then it too will decline, even for the best trappers. (And trappers, esp. the best, are notoriously poor partners in predator-reduction schemes…).

              Dogs are the best wolf-hunting & aversion-training option. They are the most difficult & expensive tool to learn & maintain, and take the longest to establish in the community. But dogs work, like magic.

              And “pursuit-only” is a popular form, both with dog-owners, and with F&G Depts. Advocates should take note: Once the high entry-costs have been met, and the skill/training acquired, nothing approaches the efficacy of dogs, for instilling aversion in predators.

              After awhile, it is not even necessary to do much actual pursuit. Leash the dogs along perimeter-routes, drive backroads with them on the hood, let them ‘mark’ good post-locations, and the wolves will stay well-clear.

              To have wolves, and to have larger populations, they must be kept ‘back’, away from the human realm.

            • avatar Jay says:

              Ted–maybe it was just a mis-use of wording on your original comment (human-naive packs dispersing problem wolves)–you seem to be contradicting yourself, because human naive packs/wolves is exactly what you’re arguing for: wolves that are not accustomed to being around people.

            • avatar Mike says:

              JB –

              A fine argument for the banning of all animal baiting.

          • avatar Ted Clayton says:

            JB,

            My apologies, I didn’t mean to contribute to the confusion & misunderstanding.

            The reason I used the term “problematic”, is that ‘hanging around’ human environments puts the wolves in situations where they end up in trouble. Feeding them certainly encourages them to hang around, even if they don’t then ‘pressure’ people for further hand-outs too often/badly. (OTOH, there may be many ‘incidents’ that did not require treatment, and stay under someone’s hat.)

            Park-people & rangers remind folks, in the case of bears: “A fed bear is a dead bear”.

            This isn’t so much because a fed bear (or wolf) will necessarily become nakedly aggressive toward a person, to get more food (tho it sometimes occurs), but simply that once these animals become ‘keyed’ on the human scene in general, they are headed down a bad road that ends up requiring they be ‘removed’.

            It is undesirable that major predators become nonchalant in human-settings, and wolf-advocates really should come around to what bear & cougar supporters know & accept without thinking about it: that we should not be seeing bears or cougars – or wolves – just hanging out in the vicinity of human settings.

            Actual habituation, as you point out, is a more-specific thing than nonchalance … and because so many folks are feeding animals deliberately, it could be a considerably bigger part of the overall management picture & challenge than would seem.

            Here’s my emerging Rule of Thumb on wolf-feeding:

            1) Crudely, anecdotally, 1/4 of all wolf snap-shots I see are of wolves standing still, looking straight at the photographer, with “Feed Me” written plainly all over it’s face. (We’re talking snap-shots, not pros.)

            2) Another 1/4 of all such snap-shots, are of wolves sniffing the ground, fully expecting to find food, because a human is standing there, with a camera.

            3) It is entirely too common for people in wolf-country to state that they see wolves “all the time”, right there, next to the road, coming & going to work or town, etc. There’s a reason those wolves are doing that.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              +++Dogs are the best wolf-hunting & aversion-training option. They are the most difficult & expensive tool to learn & maintain, and take the longest to establish in the community. But dogs work, like magic.

              And “pursuit-only” is a popular form, both with dog-owners, and with F&G Depts. Advocates should take note: Once the high entry-costs have been met, and the skill/training acquired, nothing approaches the efficacy of dogs, for instilling aversion in predators.+++

              We’ll see how this works in Wisconsin.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              3) It is entirely too common for people in wolf-country to state that they see wolves “all the time”, right there, next to the road, coming & going to work or town, etc. There’s a reason those wolves are doing that.

              The reason is, they are seen the wolves are in the open and it’s just easy traveling for wolves

              +++2) Another 1/4 of all such snap-shots, are of wolves sniffing the ground, fully expecting to find food, because a human is standing there, with a camera.+++

              ???

              1) Crudely, anecdotally, 1/4 of all wolf snap-shots I see are of wolves standing still, looking straight at the photographer, with “Feed Me” written plainly all over it’s face. (We’re talking snap-shots, not pros.)

              Natural curiosity.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Immer,

              “We’ll see how this works in Wisconsin.”

              Wolves are going a little bonkers in Wisconsin, with killing sprees on 47 farms last year. Livestock, pet dogs, and a bunch of tied-up (bear) hunting dogs.

              This is the kind of action that could remind folks how useful dogs are with wolves.

              And bring Upper Midwest voters around to considering new wolf-seasons, like over there in the Rockies. “Maybe we should give that a try.”

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Immer,

              “Natural curiosity.”

              Curious alright: “Hmm – is that a P-B n jelly or baloney sandwich in that hand?? Hurry up & toss it – I’m dying of curiosity!”

              Not only are a startling number of people carrying wolf-snacks in their car, but the uber-symbolic Canis lupis is proving himself a right-handy little beggar.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Ted,

              Though wolves have gone onto private property and killed dogs in Wisconsin, I believe most of the bear hounds that have been killed, have been killed in the field. Training around rendezvous sites, and wolf territories has proven disastrous for the hounders. Plus there is fear that hounding wolves will create more conflict between wolves and dogs. Wolves will defend their territory.

              Wisconsin hounders spend an awful lot of their time traveling the roads, and are not with their dogs. You can’t protect them if you are not with them. I believe Wisconsin law limits the dog number to six that can be allowed on a hunt. Six dogs vs six wolves. I’m not a betting person, but I’d put my money on the wolves.

              Try doing this in the Rockies, with fewer roads and rougher terrain, and you’ll end up with a lot of dead dogs, and more hard feelings.

              Also, in my neck of the woods in MN, wolves carve out a pretty good living on deer, not PBJ’s. Wolves are often seen on the roads, simply because it’s easy travel. I remember a big black wolf I got within about 20-30 feet of when I was cycling. It was just trotting along the roadside, I gave it a couple of clucks of the tongue, and it looked back at me with those big golden eyes and dashed off into the woods.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Immer,

              You’re right. With some more glancing around I see that wolves are killing bear-hounds in the field, in Wisconsin. It’s not clear whether wolves are also getting them on the farms or not, and owners should be able to ‘plug that hole’, if dogs are vulnerable (tied out, singly). It looks indeed like mainly a field-problem.

              In pointing to the use of “hounding” to ‘train & orient’ wolves, and to the nonchalance & ‘undue-familiarity’ (feeding) problem, I am referring to the new wolf-populations in the Rockies & Northwest. This is where these problems are conspicuous/pressing (feeding is getting bad in many contexts, further North, too), and with the ‘wolf-culture’ still in flux there, a better opening to intervene exists.

              But now that the States have set up ‘seasons’, they now “have” a plan, and dogs (et al) aren’t it. They could be added, but they are not part of the direction or momentum of “management” (or the expressed preference of the public) … so the chance (‘danger’, for advocates etc) that dogs will now enter the picture, in a substantial or strategic way, is on the low side.

              What happens in areas that have had a wolf-population all-along, will be a different case from the ‘newbie’ Rockies. With aggressive packs launching repeated, “directed” assaults on farms (the way-bigger problem than bear-dog losses, really) and hunting parties in the woods, that issue (which is not present in the Rockies) will dominate the wolf-topic, in the Upper Midwest
              ====

              Firstly, Immer & all, using dogs on major predators does not aim for a ‘gladiatorial’ contest. Done right, hunting with dogs is not Michael Vick in the bush. You hear talk about ‘encounters’; articles about fights used to crowd the pages of Outdoor/Dog magazines; and of course Hollywood does what it does.

              It takes a lot of time & carefully orchestrated training to field a decent hunting dog. By far & away most owners are serious (hopeless) dog-Lovers. ‘Losing’ dogs is personally painful, and not an asset on one’s record.

              Like racing sports cars or motorcycles, or doing the rodeo-circuit, dog-hunting is a high-performance activity, and there are ‘intense’ elements to it. Like at the race track, accidents happen … but like at the track, they are not the goal – they’re “accidents”.

              Secondly, to hunt bears requires bear-training for the dogs, and a bear-hunting plan by the hunters. To go after cougar takes lion-dogs and lion-hunt methods. If it is decided to put dogs after wolves, the appropriate dog-training & hunt-planning will follow, and certainly it can work as intended.

              “Pursuit” is a particular closely-managed/executed form of dog-hunting, entails less risk, and since it does not kill wildlife, is less of an issue for elements of the public that are inclined to protest.
              =====

              Dogs are wolves, and wolves are dogs. Therein lies much of the explanation for the effectiveness of dogs in dealing with … it’s own species.

              And thus too, the animosity of wolves, toward dogs. This is a universally known hazard, all across the Far North Country communities. Wolves will try to kill your dog(s).
              =====

              Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, strikes me as seriously great country, Immer. I could ‘see’ it. My brother did a stint in Brainard, and liked it.

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              “My first input on your situation in Wisconsin, is that those 800 wolves last year conducted 47 high-impact raids on farms, and up to several dozen evidently dog-oriented running-interdictions on bear-dogs and in some case, the human hunters.”

              I suspected that you didn’t know what you were talking about – and now you’ve proved it.

            • avatar WM says:

              Ted Clayton,

              Ya know, Ted, with each subequent post, after several bold assertions, you are disclosing you know little about wolves, and even less how to converse with people who do. There are some very some very smart folks here who work with wolves, study them professionally or as a passionate avocation.

              My sense is you should write less and read more, here. Maybe even ask some intelligent, well phrased questions. You just might learn something.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Ma’iingan,

              I thought you might cock an eye at the speculations I make (wolves getting run over, chasing cars, etc). But instead, you object to widely published & DNR information.

              The DNR also says, that the target population goal for wolves in Wisconsin was only 350 animals. Like in the Rockies, the rate of increase surprised folks, and then overshot the goal.

              The best that the advocacy can now hope for in Wisconsin, may that the brazenly aggressive & destructive wolf-individuals & packs are specially targeted for removal, while leaving the rest alone.

              However, it’s a lot easier, simpler and cheaper for the State to just open a season on the population as a whole. Like in the Rockies.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              WM & all,

              “[You] are disclosing you know little about wolves…”

              Where I get the facts wrong, do please point it out. I will swallow my medicine.

              If The Wildlife News is not intended for those with diverging views, interpretations, and debate-arguments … cannot accommodate such participation; then please do show me the door. Again, no drama.

              Where you disagree with me, where you think another explanation or interpretation would be better, do please engage the issue. En Garde! 🙂

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Ted,

              Diverging views are always welcome. WHat WM, ma’iingan, Nancy, JB, and I have pointed out is that what you are writing has a lot of holes, and rather poor connections with what is actually happening on the ground.

              Some of us believe wolves should be “managed”, others believe wolves should be left alone, and probably everything in between. Quite a bit of divergence.

              Please do continue to post.

            • avatar WM says:

              Ted Clayton,

              ++Where I get the facts wrong, do please point it out. I will swallow my medicine.++

              One need only look at the long string here for evidence that is already happening maybe even more than it should, in response to some of your largely incorrect bold assertions and conclusions. You seem clueless to the copious medicine doses that have already been offered. My candid impression is you don’t know jack shi_ _ about wolves, though you are prone to opine on them, anyway. Read the reply posts of JB, Jay, Immer, ma’iingan, and SB. Everyone of these folks has experience with wolves, and/or wildlife academic training (MS or PhD), and rigorous self-study or acute observational skills, and the ability to write clearly.

              The point, Ted, is whether you are reading what they write and comprehending it. Because, based on what I have read of your posts on this string, you are not absorbing much. And, by the way, ma’ is a wolf biologist in WI, in case you didn’t catch that part; JB is wildlife biology professor at a major university with an acute academic interest in wolves and measurement of social impacts; SB is wildlife biologist in MT; Immer is a biology teacher living in the heart of wolf country in MN. But…. what do they know in your world of …mis-facts and opinons?

              My apologies for the candor, but in my world, candor is often viewed as a virtue. Immer would have said this far more diplomatically, and with greater eloquence.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              cupcake,
              in response to the recent valid evaluation by another poster and my previous accurate assessment, you may always point out on your study wall to the BS diploma from Google University.

              But please do continue to post. It provides a benchmark of sorts.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Immer,

              “[W]hat you are writing has a lot of holes”

              I can fumble the facts, and I know what it is to ‘stick my foot in a hole’, and do a face-plant.

              Yeah, I try to minimize these experiences .. but when they occur (and folks are kind enough to articulate the error or hole), I am keen to acknowledge it, learn and do better.

              I participate in a forum like The Wildlife News, with an eye to readers who are not commenting. When a website like this is working well, those who are not visible are far more important than those who are.

              I came here from Google News. Admittedly, conducting specific searches. But that’s good news & a big deal, for TWN, and points to where the potential lies.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Jay,

              “Now you use a citation of habituation in yellowstone as support of your ridiculous “human-naive” theory?

              That’s good paper, and it does deal with the acclimatizing/desensitizing process that precedes ‘actual’ formal (food) habituation.

              Good photographs of ‘wolves gone bad’ in Yellowstone, too. For at least some wolves in the Park, humans are not neutral figures.

              “Human-naive” is just a descriptive term, adopted because the formal terminology describes a somewhat different case.

              Human-oriented wolves, whatever the terminology, are detectable/identifiable. Officials & management are capable of investigating, and almost certainly already have a pretty good idea what the situation is, in different areas.

              All that it takes is to drive around to areas where wolf-sightings are report, take note of animals loitering in roadside situations, and observe their reaction to the presence of vehicles & people.

          • avatar Ted Clayton says:

            Jay,

            “[H]uman naive packs/wolves is exactly what you’re arguing for: wolves that are not accustomed to being around people.

            No, remote packs that stay away from humans are by no means necessarily naive about humans.

            On the contrary, even in the trackless expanses of Canada or Alaska, far from the bush-destinations, it is unusual find human-naive wolves.

            Keeping wolves back & away from people is not what leads them to feel nonchalant about humans. It is a different context that creates this aberration.

            • avatar JB says:

              Ted:

              We can agree on the problem of food-conditioning (and yes, Mike–it is a good argument against baiting for the purposes of hunting). However, I’m unclear about just what you mean by “human-naive” wolves?

              From what I can gather, your definition of “naive” implies a lack of contact with humans?

              I submit that both the type of contact and the context in which it occurs define whether or not exposure to people is a problem.

              As I pointed out earlier, wolves in YNP have had numerous contacts with people, but generally these contacts are neutral, and so wolves learn to ignore people. This condition is great for tourism, great for photography, and generally unproblematic so long as it occurs in settings where people anticipate encountering wolves (e.g., big national parks). Outside of these places, such habituation gets wolves killed (as happened immediately adjacent to YNP during the recent hunting seasons). It could also be problematic if a wolf appeared in the wrong setting (e.g., an unaccompanied child who reacts fearfully might actually initiate an attack; though, I don’t know of a single example of this occurring in NA).

              Wolves are problematic (in any setting) when they learn to associate people with food, and so learn to approach, rather than ignore people.

              ——
              I also disagree with your characterization of wolves’ behavior when being photographed. Photographers will often use a call (I make a squeak with my lips) to get an animal to turn and look into the camera with that ‘interested’ look, and many animals will stop and stare when they see, hear or smell something they don’t recognize (I see this response in deer all the time). Eyes and ears forward (the classic pose you mention) merely signifies alertness, not intent to give chase or do harm.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              JB,

              “… I’m unclear about just what you mean by “human-naive” wolves?”

              There is a good example of human-naive wolf-behavior, still currently on the front page here on The Wildlife News.

              A wolf dispersed from Yellowstone, and was struck & killed, crossing the road in South Dakota.

              How/why did that wolf come to that end? It was naive. In Yellowstone, drivers who see a wolf ahead slow or stop; perhaps creep ahead. This wolf had ‘no idea’ what a road really entails or means.

              In this case, wolf-naivety was fatal, for the wolf. Many other situations, contexts & outcomes can arise & unfold … but all stemming from the underlying naive condition. ‘Clueless’, if you will.

              The antonym of human-naive, is “human-wise”.
              ==========

              National Parks are well-known to tolerate or even foster conditions that actively & persistently corrupt wildlife, in order to accommodate tourists, etc. The Service has certainly made laudable progress on this (at times & places, “grotesque”) issue in recent decades, but then again, the financial imperative to compromise themselves & the wildlife has become more acute, recently.

              Certain key priorities in Yellowstone’s policies on wolves are not motivated by the wolves’ interests, but rather by cash-flow considerations, and in reflection of several important pressures that are a mix of politics & ‘philosophy’.

              I chose the word naive to describe these wolves. Human-incompetent would be good, too. Your term, “neutral” is reasonable (implying that humans & everything about them are/is “transparent” – which is a transparent fallacy). “Stupid” would be the default take, for many ‘un-fancy’ observers. More-technically, we could refer to such animals & populations as ‘poorly adapted’, or even maladapted.

              Yellowstone is turning out – and widely dispersing – generation after generation of behaviorally/developmentally disabled wolves.

              And in part, many like this overall dynamic, because it suggests a potential to ‘project’ Yellowstone (“Park”) standards & norms, far beyond the Park purview, proper. “We the Park & Co” prepare a wolf to live in a Park ‘fairy-land’, knowing it will go forth to live with “you”, and we imply that you should accept this specially-adapted (human-naive) animal, on the same ‘unique’ terms that we created in & for the ‘fairy-land’.

              We once made emphatic use of the term, “Park-bear”, to imply a massively & gratuitously-corrupted bear. We now have the subtler Park-wolf compliment.

            • avatar JB says:

              Thanks, Ted. That helps me further understand your perspective. When I describe wolves’ behavior, I use terms like “food-conditioned” and “habituated” because they have generally accepted meanings, and they don’t convey any value judgment. (Not that I don’t have values, mind you, merely that I want to distinguish between my value judgments and my analysis of wolves’ behavior). When you refer to a habituated wolf as “corrupt”, you’re making a judgment about the appropriateness of their behavior–i.e., that it is wrong/abhorrent. Yet, the behavior of YNP wolves, in fact, is particularly well suited to their environment–it helps them survive in the park (if they ran every time they saw a person, they’d do nothing but run). It only becomes a problem when they step out of the park–the environment changes, but they don’t understand the fact that it (and the “rules”) have changed.

              Personally, I find it highly desirable to support the conditions that exist in parks (my value judgment)–conditions that often allow us to observe “natural” animal behaviors (i.e., the behaviors they would exhibit if we were not present). It is also desirable, however, to have wolves (and other animals) that are aware of the threat that humans pose, and so avoid us in areas where they might do people harm. Again, as I said before, what is appropriate behavior for wolves depends upon the context.

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              “There is a good example of human-naive wolf-behavior, still currently on the front page here on The Wildlife News.

              A wolf dispersed from Yellowstone, and was struck & killed, crossing the road in South Dakota.

              How/why did that wolf come to that end? It was naive. In Yellowstone, drivers who see a wolf ahead slow or stop; perhaps creep ahead. This wolf had ‘no idea’ what a road really entails or means.

              In this case, wolf-naivety was fatal, for the wolf. Many other situations, contexts & outcomes can arise & unfold … but all stemming from the underlying naive condition. ‘Clueless’, if you will.

              The antonym of human-naive, is “human-wise”.”

              Are you implying that wolves in areas with higher road densities are better able to cope with traffic?

              We recovered 72 dead wolves in Wisconsin last year, and 26 of those were road kills. These are animals that encounter traffic frequently and should be “human wise”, to use your term.

              While this does not imply that 1/3 of our wolf mortality is due to road kill, it certainly is a significant number, considering that these wolves are “human wise”.

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Ma’iingan,

              “We recovered 72 dead wolves in Wisconsin last year, and 26 of those were road kills.”

              Thanks for the intriguing statistics!

              With a population of 800-850 animals, it’s remarkable to recovered 9% of them dead, and that 3% were road-kill.

              “Are you implying that wolves in areas with higher road densities are better able to cope with traffic?”

              Roads ‘can’ make wolves smart, the hard way, kinda by themselves, but what I say is that ‘human-wise’ wolves know to be leery, wary, cautious & uncomfortable, around a human feature such as a road. That makes it rare for a car to ‘get’ one. They’re ‘on guard’, near roads.

              In most regions, this bears out pretty well. Your numbers stand out, dramatically.

              My first input on your situation in Wisconsin, is that those 800 wolves last year conducted 47 high-impact raids on farms, and up to several dozen evidently dog-oriented running-interdictions on bear-dogs and in some case, the human hunters.

              My take is – “Wow. There is something pretty unusual going on with the Wisconsin wolf-population.”

              I’m going say; ‘That looks like a good preliminary angle on which to approach this surprising road-kill statistic’.

              Are those wolves also taking offence to those presumptuous automobiles driving through their territory? Are they out there attacking vehicles? Chasing cars, trying to bite their tires off?

              They sound like “brazen” wolves you guys got over there. Are you hearing any tales of strange wolf-antics on the roads, from drivers?

            • avatar Jay says:

              Ted, certainly wolves in the wilderness encounter people from time to time, but if you’re suggesting that that amount of exposure is on par with, say, a pack of wolves living on the outskirts of Coeur D’Alene or St. Maries or someplace like that, than I really have to question your logic?

              That said, given your notion that even wilderness wolves aren’t human-naive (“On the contrary, even in the trackless expanses of Canada or Alaska, far from the bush-destinations, it is unusual find human-naive wolves”), than where exactly is this undiscovered, human-uninhabitated landscape where wolves become human-naive and pump out all these problem-prone wolves that you talk about?

              Lastly, what evidence do you have that these wolves coming from the as-yet-discovered land devoid of humans are more prone to problems than wolves with more exposure to humans?

            • avatar Ted Clayton says:

              Jay,

              “… even wilderness wolves aren’t human-naive …

              Right. Remote, isolated wolves are typically ‘wise’ and ‘sophisticated’ – in all respects & contexts – and will normally/overwhelmingly respond as such upon rare/first exposure to humans.

              Human-naivety in wolves is taught, learned, fostered. It arises by conditioning (“desensitizing”) wolves to the presence of humans and their infrastructure, and their acceptance as neutral/transparent (ie, ‘meaningless’) actors/factors.

              Naive wolves are highly susceptible to (food) habituation. Some formally habituated animals are not naive, though.

              “… where exactly is this undiscovered, human-uninhabitated landscape where wolves become human-naive and pump out all these problem-prone wolves …”

              Human-naive wolves arose in Yellowstone, and then spread to pockets & regions where it was reinforced, as they dispersed.

              With hunting & trapping, naivety is diminishing, and with continuing pressure would tend to disappear … except that the original source and protected pockets outside the Park continue to colonize surrounding regions. There are people who like/prefer wolves to be ‘friendly’, and will encourage such animals, in places where their behavior is not penalized by hunting & trapping.

              Here is a 2003 paper by Smith & Plumb, with input from Ed Bangs. It addresses formal habituation in Yellowstone Park, overtly, but also discusses the ‘set-up’ or pre-conditions that lead to (make wolves vulnerable to) food-habituation, which also produces what I call a human-naive animal (particularly when human-“desensitized” wolves go on to raise pups from birth to be nonchalant about humans & their world).

              MANAGEMENT OF HABITUATED WOLVES IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

              http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/FinalWolfHabPlanforemail.pdf

            • avatar Jay says:

              Ted, do you remember this dialogue: Me: “So actually what you mean is human-habituated wolves, not human-naive (as in, no experience around people). ”
              You: “No, the human-habituated term is applied to a specific, closely defined case, and I did mean to point to a wider range of “problematic” situations that can arise.”

              Now you use a citation of habituation in yellowstone as support of your ridiculous “human-naive” theory? You talk in circles, continually contradict yourself, and basically throw out your unsupported opinions as factual, even though it’s clear to myself and everyone else that you haven’t a clue. I don’t mind that you have opinions on the subject, but what I do mind is stating opinion as fact, which none of your statements qualify as.

            • avatar Jay says:

              Ted, you might benefit from reading the definition of naive (take note of #2) and habituation (take note of #3)
              na·ive
                 [nah-eev] Show IPA

              adjective
              1.
              having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.

              2.
              having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous.

              Definition of HABITUATION

              1: the act or process of making habitual or accustomed

              2: tolerance to the effects of a drug acquired through continued use b : psychological dependence on a drug after a period of use—compare addiction

              3: a form of nonassociative learning characterized by a decrease in responsiveness upon repeated exposure to a stimulus—compare sensitization

    • avatar louise kane says:

      “they populated far faster than what the alpha female could produce.”

      I am sure that JB, WM or someone else where can provide exact specifics on the expected rate of repopulation, yet it always amazes me that people refer to the repopulation as though it were extraordinarily prolific. Is a population of 1700 – 2000 in 2010 up from 65 over the course of 17 years that remarkable? Its not like we are talking bunnies here. And the populations showed signs of stabilizing not increasing.

      • avatar bret says:

        the several hundred per year that WS/USDA removed each year and the population potential they represent is not insignificant.

        • avatar JB says:

          Louise: Wolves met recovery goals in the year predicted in the 1994 EIS. Bret: A total of 1681 wolves were killed/removed from 1987-2011. That’s an average of 65 wolves per year. Of course, that number increased with time, but it peaked at 270 in ’09–it never reached “several hundred per year”.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            Thanks JB
            so given that some wolves were removed each year for specific depredations or conflicts….are there any estimates as to what the populations would have been without the takes? It seems that some of the data suggests that dispersal into other regions as well as other factors that cause mortality would have kept the populations somewhat self limited. I think Ralph expressed that he felt Idaho was nearing a self limited number and that MN had. My point being is that if wolves were managed by targeting problem wolves only, the rest of the population would most likely maintain some reasonable density without the severe “harvesting” that the states are calling for.

          • avatar WM says:

            JB,

            I think you and I have had this conversation before. Seems it is more representative to look at the post NRM re-introduction period compute the statistics of how many wolves die from human take-off, including the averages and median. Though I have not done the math, it seems the average would go above 100/year pretty quickly. Of course, the compounding effect if those wolves were left on the landscape would potentially result in an even higher reproductive rate and contribution to gross population increase.
            __________________

            Louise,

            I think the rate of growth of the wolf population indeed was prolific (and reportedly well beyond the expectation of some of the scientists involved in the reintroduction), and certainly would have been higher had there not been systematic large take-offs of problem animals and the hunting seasons up to present. And, do remember the wider the dispersal on the landscape, the greater the probability they will be under-counted, according to Dr. Mech. We seem to be getting evidence of this as dispersal occurs to the west in WA, OR, and maybe UT, and even ND (maybe).

            • avatar louise kane says:

              I hope some of them can get out of Idaho and Wisconsin pretty fast. Not a good place for wolves.
              no one answered my question about the populations stabilizing, with or without takes for depredation or conflicts.

            • avatar JB says:

              WM:

              They averaged 99/year since reintroduction, 214/year for the last 6 years. My point was that they never reached “several hundred” nor should we expect that they ever would have.

              Were those wolves not killed, some would undoubtedly have reproduced; however, some would have died and increased densities overall might have accelerated wolf deaths. We will never know…

              —–
              Louise: There was a paper recently (can’t recall the author) that presented data that supported the notion that wolf populations are not merely a function of available prey. The mechanism of population regulation is intra-specific killing–meaning, as densities increase wolves become more aggressive toward neighboring packs.

              I don’t think anyone truly knows what the maximum wolf population *could* be for the NRs–nor are we ever likely to find out.

            • avatar WM says:

              JB,

              Thanks for doing the math. I think in the end, Bret was on to something, though, in response to louise’s question: “Is a population of 1700 – 2000 in 2010 up from 65 over the course of 17 years that remarkable?” and then the following limitation “And, we are not talking bunnies here.”

              I tend to believe the reproduction rate while wolves continued to expand territory (even with in-migrating wolves coming down from CAN) would have had few incidents of intra-specific killing resulting from densities resulting in more aggressive toward neighboring packs. There would be some, for sure, but would it suppress rate of population increase? As long as they were expanding range and relatively high density prey was available the gross wolf total IMHO would have continued to climb rapidly as wolves out-migrated to new areas. I just don’t think density would have been a huge negative factor for some time.

              With a human take-off of 100 – 200 per year after they got a foothold, this had to put a pretty good dent in the reproduction rate that reduced the net numbers.

              If wolves had not been controlled in any way from 1995 to present (no control actions of problem wolves or hunting), I do not think it unreasonable to believe there would be 5,000 – 7,000 or even more wolves in the NRM and adjacent areas, even south to CO, west to UT, and I would even go so far as to project several (there is that imprecise word again, meaning greater than “2”) hundred wolves in WA and OR each.

              As we speculate theoretically on this without the benefit of analytical tools, I bet there is some desktop computer at FWS or one of the state agencies/universities that has modeled this, manipulating several variables including the suitable habitat scenarios without ever considering social carrying capacity (where tolerance by livestock owners, hunters, pet owners or other factors, like changing land use over time were considered).

            • avatar louise kane says:

              JB and WM thanks for your notes. Will look at the info in greater depth on return from Mexico
              Thank you for taking time to respond

  10. avatar Nancy says:

    “To have wolves, and to have larger populations, they must be kept ‘back’, away from the human realm”

    And where exactly do you live again, Ted?

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Sorry, wasn’t trying to get personal Ted but I live right up against what most would consider wilderness (as do many others who post here) and to insist that wolves be kept “back” from the human realm is, well, amusing 🙂

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Not a problem, Nancy. I enjoy challenges. 🙂

      Most places that have cougars & bears, rarely see them – and the same is definitely true of canines, throughout virtually all ‘true’ wolf-country (Canada, Alaska).

      Anchorage, a large city, physically, but a small piece of predator-territory, is ‘experimenting’ with resident (seasonal) urban bears. But even they are rarely seen. The wolves “stay back”.

      It’s not that there ought never ‘be’ a cougar or bear or wolf near a road, or settled deep-rural area (or even city). They will ‘be’ there, on occasion at least, but they will be wary, will rarely be spotted, and if they are – oops! – it ain’t for long.
      =====

      I live a few minutes from the Elwha River, alongside Olympic National Park.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        “I live a few minutes from the Elwha River, alongside Olympic National Park.”

        That is a beautiful area of the country, I have explored the peninsula many times, the rain forest of the Olympic are awe inspiring to say the least.. I do hope to go back there now that they have removed the dam and see how it has changed the ecosystem.

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          Thanks, Savebears! It is quite the treasure, isn’t it?

          Getting out to explore new places, and revisit acquaintances is such a great trip.

          Our salmon runs are re-establishing strongly in all the little creeks where they were wiped out, and I’m hopeful that the Elwha will ‘explode’.

          It will be neat to watch as the lake-beds are reclaimed by the jungle. 🙂

  11. avatar Nancy says:

    “How/why did that wolf come to that end? It was naive. In Yellowstone, drivers who see a wolf ahead slow or stop; perhaps creep ahead. This wolf had ‘no idea’ what a road really entails or means”

    I’m not so sure about that Ted, this wolf crossed quite a bit of territory (surely roads were included?) getting to South Dakota WITHOUT getting runover.

    You seldom hear about wolves getting runover out here and their little cousins (the coyote) are pretty adapt to staying away from roadways too.

    I put in a lot of miles on the roads and seldom see a dead coyote in or along side the roadways. See plenty of dead deer, elk, even antelope though.

    People just drive to damn fast out here and don’t take into consideration the time of day or areas that wildlife might cross.

    I have a neighbor that’s totaled two vehicles hitting deer, think that slowed them down any?

    And why would it? Full coverage (minus the deductible) if you hit the animal instead of trying to avoid it. The nasty little side of insurance companies and probably why rates are so high.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      The nasty little side of insurance companies and probably why rates are so high.

      One of the reasons

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Yeah … driver-habits are hard to defend.

      In Fairbanks, drivers hit & kill an average of 50 moose each winter. A town of <30K.

      In Anchorage, they take out 250 a year. Prisoners, retirement homes, etc – some of best chow on planet earth. Organized salvage/cleanup operations are popular "social activities".

      In lieu of slowing down, watching out – they just take a moose in the lap. At 50 mph.

  12. avatar Robert R says:

    Ted deer and elk collisions are no different in my neck of the woods.on one vehicle alone we had $18.000 in claims. Animal collisions are one of the few accidents that don’t increase your premium. it’s not that were bad drivers it’s because of deer density due to private land owners not allowing any type of hunting. It’s not the one crossing the road that you hit it’s one coming behind that one that most are not watching for. This all coincides with the fish and games management of deer and elk. They cannot manage what cannot be accessed or hunted.
    I have to avoid deer and antelope daily on my commute to work.

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Robert,

      “[F]ish and games management … cannot manage what cannot be accessed or hunted.”

      Along I-90, on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass, in the near-vicinity of the new “Teanaway” wolf-pack in WA, there ‘used’ to be a goodly stretch of 8′ high ‘hog-wire’ elk-fence running along one side of the freeway. The mountain farms drew in concentrations of elk, which would mill around on the Interstate.

      Would have worked better just to have a special hunt zone along the freeway corridor … and the wolves wouldn’t now have that fence to deal with.

      • avatar WM says:

        Ted,

        ++Along I-90, on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass, in the near-vicinity of the new “Teanaway” wolf-pack in WA, there ‘used’ to be a goodly stretch of 8′ high ‘hog-wire’ elk-fence running along one side of the freeway. The mountain farms drew in concentrations of elk, which would mill around on the Interstate.++

        Not sure what your point is, but the fences remain. They were put up there, as well as alot of places, along Interstate hiways and state hiways in WA to keep most wild animals from getting hit on the roads. As for the addition of wolves to the mix, it creates an artificial barrier that may in some cases limit flight opportunities to prey, that might make it easier for wolves now increasing in number in that area to get a meal. And, as many times as I have travelled that highway, I personally haven’t seen all that many elk along I-90 between the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, all the way to Ellensburg – ever, even in winter.

      • avatar DLB says:

        I’ve driven that stretch of freeway at least a couple hundred times and could count on one hand the number of times I have seen elk around there.

        I honestly don’t know how much of an impact those fences will have on wolf dispersal.

        Up closer to Snoqualmie Pass, they will be installing a number of wildlife corridors in the coming years. I believe that funding is actually in place for a couple of them.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      *** it’s not that were bad drivers it’s because of deer density due to private land owners not allowing any type of hunting. ***

      Don’t let Don Peay know this.

  13. avatar Nancy says:

    “Not only are a startling number of people carrying wolf-snacks in their car, but the uber-symbolic Canis lupis is proving himself a right-handy little beggar”

    What?? Where are you pulling these stats & incidents from?

    • avatar Peter Kiermeir says:

      Pssst! Don´t feed the troll!

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Nancy,

      “Where are you pulling these stats & incidents from?”

      It should come as no surprise that the wolf-feeding dynamic is a two-way street.

      Tens of millions of dog-owners will greet the observation that wolves are beggars, that they actively incite folks to toss the treat (and then reward them – ‘Thank you, Nice Person!’) with a yawn.

      This is part of the problem. Counselling people (No-no!) addresses only half the picture. Wolves are very, very good beggars – and there’s no way to make them stop it.

      It is fairly clear that we have dogs, because wolves assumed the beggar-role with early humans.

      As human-naive wolves disperse (from Yellowstone, and now from subsequent low-inhibition reservoirs) and interact with the general human population, away from the watchful gaze of Rangers (road-cams,etc), feeding is the default outcome.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “As human-naive wolves disperse (from Yellowstone, and now from subsequent low-inhibition reservoirs) and interact with the general human population, away from the watchful gaze of Rangers (road-cams,etc), feeding is the default outcome”

        Gee Ted, aren’t ranchers already doing that?

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        There’s a pretty solid theory that wolves did more domestication of the humans than vice versa. The opportunistic wolves saw an ally in humans with common goals and more or less allowed themselves to be ” domesticated” , at least at first , in exchange for food security and mutual assured protection . One social animal phasing with another. The Siberian researcher who took his Foxes from ‘ wild’ to ‘ domestic’ in only three generations , and had them behaving like pseudo-Dogs, could not have occurred had the Foxes not wanted or didn’t know how to be thus conditioned.

        A ladyfriend of mine many eyars ago had a wolf-dog hybrid. The animal ( she called him ” Bear” for reasons I never knew) seemed more like a wolf than a Shephard-Husky…he had the huge feet and short ears and yellow eyes of a wolf. I always felt that dog was more wolf than domestic dog, but he was an incredible animal to be with if he accepted you.

        Wyo Game and Fish made her get rid of it. Apparently there is a law against keeping wolf hybrids of any fraction in Wyoming. I felt that was wrong at the time, and today I feel it’s more wrong.

        The inference from that ‘ law’ seems more like knee jerk superstition becoming policy than a reasonable or necessary rule. Here in Cody Wyoming last week a man’s 2-year old bulldog turned on its owner and severely mauled him – 60 puncture wounds requiring two surgeries, and the dog was destroyed by the cops with a handgun.

        It’s complicated. And not necessarily a reflection of biologic realities.

        • avatar Ted Clayton says:

          CodyCoyote,

          Yes, the two-way-street-effect comes into play in more than just begging-feeding.

          There is also an older, similar suggestion, that the ‘domestication’ of Fire then turned and ‘domesticated’ humans. Not hard to imaging weighty consequences.

          Are humans indeed “domesticated”, themselves? By whatever means & influences? It’s a good question, and there can be a great deal riding on the answer.

          Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs & Steel, relies heavily on establishing that most larger mammals are unsuitable to domestication, and basically immune. That they can be ‘trained’, but not really ‘tamed’.

          He makes a central list of characteristics that determine whether an animal can be domesticated … and humans do poorly on it.

          Diamond has been asked if he intended to bring humans into the domestication-question, and he maintains that he did not.

          Some figure humans are probably more trained than tamed … but important interests & institutions find that prospect too threatening.

          Interesting stuff, for sure!

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          In Idaho once an owner “states” that their dog is a wolf-hybrid, it is, even if it looks like a chiuaua. This is of course before DNA technology made it all a moot point, but that is still the law. You say it is a wolf, its a wolf. Has a lot to do with rabies. There is no approved rabies vaccination for wolves. I know, go figure. But the law says that all dogs have to vaccinated for rabies, there fore you can not legally have a wolf or a wolf hybrid and be in compliance with rabies vaccination laws, with out a special permit. Starting to see a trend here? Don’t believe me, take a dog to a vet and say it is a wolf hybrid and it needs a rabies vac. Depending on the vet, you are probably going to have F&G visiting you.
          Idaho also now has a law that says that having a hybrid with “any” amount of wolf DNA is illegal.

    • avatar Ted Clayton says:

      Nancy,

      <em"… aren’t ranchers already doing that?

      “Baiting”, more specifically, in the view of critics.

      Much the same outcome, alright. Once they get a taste of beef, you could call it “habituated”.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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