Current wolf hunt management by states may well end scientific study of wolf behavior in the wild-

Scientists had about 17 years to study wolf behavior in the wild in the Northern Rocky mountains. Hopefully they got most of the data they wanted because the new heavy state wolf hunts coupled with lack of concern about the hunts’ effects on scientific projects, if not outright disdain for them, has pretty much ended the ability to collect more data. This is becomes more evident with the death of so many research wolves in Yellowstone Park and now to the south in Grand Teton National Park too.

It was evident from the start that Grand Teton wolves would be shot in the Wyoming wolf hunt because the Park is relatively small but with long boundaries. While many wolf packs have used it, none have even come close to spending all of their time within its boundaries. In the public testimony over the Wyoming hunt, the obvious danger to Park wolves was repeatedly pointed out by conservationists. It is perhaps a surprise that it took so long to have two research wolves from Grand Park shot in Wyoming first wolf hunt.

It has been revealed that two radio-collared wolves from the Park have been shot and that as many as 13 more killed that probably used the Park because they were uncollared, but killed close to the Park’s boundaries. The Jackson Hole News and Guide has the details of the story. Two Teton collared wolves killed. A rash of killings of wandering park wolves spark calls for hunt buffer zones. By Mike Koshmrl.

As the headline says, there are calls for a buffer zone at Grand Teton as around the Montana portion of Yellowstone Park where a temporary buffer zone has just been erected, mostly after the fact. Wyoming Game and Fish’s Mark Bruscino, their large carnivore supervisor, told the News that buffer zones were not needed or feasible to conserve the NW Wyoming wolf population, and that people should not get psychologically attached to individual animals. The News reporter, however, indicated that “In Grand Teton park, wolves are not as reliably visible or well known individually.” So protecting “famous” wolves is probably not really an issue here.

In the News article neither Bruscino, nor long time former federal wolf manager for Wyoming Mike Jimenez touched on the heavy effects on wolf research.

Marc Cooke of Wolves of the Rockies, however, suggested a solution that is more feasible than a buffer zone around the relatively small national park — small wolf quotas in units close the Park. These would reduce the likelihood that research wolves would be killed.

An argument can be made that a larger wolf population next the Park is a good thing because Wyoming and the federal government feel compelled to hold an “elk reduction hunt” every year inside the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park. This year only about 150 elk were killed in the elk reduction hunt because the warm weather kept the elk up high to the north and east of the Park. A recent story indicated there was concern so few elk were “harvested.” Inasmuch as wolves reduce elk populations, a very controversial hypothesis that is far from proven, wolves near the Park might reduce the overcrowded National Elk Refuge and the state elk winter feedlots up the Gros Ventre River to the east.

It is not clear if there is state support for more wolf research in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming or whether those who decide on details of hunts feel they have all the facts they, scientists, and anyone else needs.

Perhaps studies of wild wolf behavior can still be carried out in Alaska or remote parts of Canada though these wolves are hunted too.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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

62 Responses to More collared research wolves killed in hunt. This time Grand Teton National Park.

  1. avatar Richie G. says:

    They can have feedlots for elk,but wolves must be harvested,that’s good science. Maybe all in all this is pointing to a slow end to wolf hunting or at least a slow down of hunting ?

  2. avatar Leslie says:

    “Wyoming is a whole different can of worms,” said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. Cooke said they would advocate reduced harvest quotas around park boundaries, not hunt-free buffers”

    As far as their existing trophy zone, I would agree. They have few wolves to hunt–their quota was 52–and the Absaroka range itself was 16, almost 1/3. They need smaller quotas, redrawn hunt areas, and tighter hunt times in vulnerable areas. If, and when, they change their ‘predator’ status, then a buffer could be created.

  3. avatar Leslie says:

    This brochure link includes the map of the hunt zones for WY. From it you can see the zones that borders the Parks.

    http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/Departments/Hunting/pdfs/REGULATIONS_CH47_BROCHURE0002871.pdf

    Here is a link to the zones and the quotas with harvest to date

    http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/Departments/Hunting/pdfs/WOLF_SUMMARY0003407.pdf

  4. avatar alf says:

    Anyone ever consider making collared or ear-tagged wolves off limits ?

    That probably wouldn’t eliminate the problem, but I think it should almost certainly be less disruptive to wolf studies. But now that so many collared — and I assume ear-tagged — wolves have been “harvested”, it may be too late and after the fact to do any good with existing projects, but it should help protect any wolves involved in future work.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Alf,

      It has been discussed numerous times on here, at the state level and on other blogs around the internet, there have been many news media reports on this very subject.

      To my knowledge since the beginning of collaring there has never been a state that made it illegal and the Fed’s don’t even address hunting collared animals.

      There are many biologists that believe putting collared animals off limits would skew the information gathered in the study.

      • avatar Kim Bean says:

        Alf and Savebears — From my understanding, talking with key people, it is virtually impossible to enforce such a law. Plus, in the thick heavy fur of winter it is much more difficult to see these collars. We at Wolves of the Rockies have a plan that may help this particular issue but need time for presenting it. Nothing seems to happen over night when it comes to our wolves!!!

  5. avatar Mtn Mamma says:

    “Details about the animals are few because a state statute prevents the park from releasing wolf-specific information”

    “The results of such tests and details such as age, sex, breeding status and location are being sought by the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. Two weeks ago the alliance filed Freedom of Information Act requests with Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks seeking details about killed wolves that are known to use the parks.”

    Anyone know what this state statue is and if it can be challenged with the FOIA?

  6. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Oh no. I hadn’t seen this new post. What a disaster this has turned into.

  7. avatar OLM says:

    How about an “eat what you kill” law?

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      eat what you kill ……thats what I’m bitching about. don;t eat it don’t kill it. Don’t kill it using barbaric painful, inhumane methods and get rid of the indiscriminate shitty – snares and traps. Its 2012 we should know better. Crazy ignorant and stupid. basically keep your hands off carnivores/ predators and do the environment a favor. and don’t support killing contests, derbies or culling of animals including animals like prarie dogs.

  8. avatar Mike says:

    Another step towards protecting wolves in the Rockies from hunting. Thank you, hunters.

    As usual, you are your own worst enemy.

  9. avatar Steve C says:

    I wouldn’t put it past these rednecks to specifically shoot collared animals to stick it to the government and to supporters of wildlife. Why can’t it be illegal to shoot a collared elk/wolf/bison especially when considering the cost to collar these animals by wildlife management personnel and researchers? These crybabies who hunt want to be able to shoot 100% of animals in 100% of areas and anything less is considered an assault on their rights… It really makes me sick.

    • avatar Jon Way says:

      I agree, there could easily be a law of not allowing the deliberate shooting of collared animals in certain areas, esp. around national parks…. While Save Bears and others have correctly (and repeatedly) stated that it isn’t against the law to shoot collared animals part of the compromise could make it so and maybe that and low quotas around park boundaries could be some type of management solution.

      • avatar Steve C says:

        They could even keep quotas the same and outlaw shooting collared animals. The pelt of a collared animal must be worthless meaning that hunters are killing these animals for the sake of killing them.

        • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

          I would think they would be getting their thicker coats by now.I could be wrong for I have been before.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            As I was telling Ma, the other day, the hunters are not selling the pelts, they are hunting for a trophy and even with the collar area, a good taxidermist can weave that area and mount it and make it look quite good. Trappers on the other hand, I would expect to be trapping for the pelt.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++As I was telling Ma, the other day, the hunters are not selling the pelts, they are hunting for a trophy and even with the collar area, a good taxidermist can weave that area and mount it and make it look quite good. Trappers on the other hand, I would expect to be trapping for the pelt.++

              So you support hunting an animal just for a place to set your ashtray and can of Pabst Blue Ribbon?

              • avatar Harley says:

                Mike,

                Good grief stop already!!

              • avatar Savebears says:

                No Mike,

                I do not, I have stated that many times in the past.

                I am simply stating the truth, does not mean I approve of the practice.

                You really try to twist things don’t you Mike.

                Please explain how my post my post implies I support hunting just for a trophy? And don’t get off track when you are explaining it Mike.

              • avatar Savebears says:

                Harley,

                Don’t fret about it, Mike is playing the George Bush game, If your not with us, you are against us.

                I was sure he was a liberal, but with each and every post, he is showing extreme conservative tendencies.

              • avatar Harley says:

                SB
                After all the news today, tolerance level is low for this kind of sh*#.

              • avatar Barb Rupers says:

                Mike

                I feel that Savebears is only stating facts. Trappers want a hide with no gunshot wounds.

                Your last paragraph (sentence) is completely unwarranted.

                I agree with Harley.

              • avatar Mike says:

                ++Please explain how my post my post implies I support hunting just for a trophy? And don’t get off track when you are explaining it Mike.++

                You never seem to condemn the actions. We all know wolf hunters are doing it for trophies or bragging rights, common traits of sociopaths.

                Most find it disturbing.

                Just say it, SB. Say that these guys are wrong, that their actions in regards to collared wolves and trophy hunting is distasteful. Rather than shrugging and saying “oh well, it’s legal”, tell the truth. Rip your peers for their slovenliness.

                Trapping wolverine is legal too in Montana, and we all know there’s no science or common sense involved there.

  10. avatar timz says:

    27 killed in a school shooting this morning, we are a culture of killing regardless of what it is.

    • avatar Mike says:

      Shocking, horrible news.

      It’s time to look at licenses for handguns, the way Canada has it set up.

    • avatar Wolfy says:

      Agreed. Although many of us care deeply about the senseless slaughter of animals, the issue seems kinda mute in light of the senseless slaughter of little humans. It’s difficult to comprehend how an advanced society, such as ours, could even tolerate the kind of grievous violence that played out on our streets every day. Notwithstanding, the war that we have waged on the environment and wars waged on third world countries. I don’t know what scares me worse, the carnage meted out on our own people and environment, or the lack of outrage on the part of our people and leadership. Civilized people do not tolerate this.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “we are a culture of killing regardless of what it is”

      Yep, you got that right Timz.

  11. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Here’s something that has been nagging me since it has become known that collared wolves were being disproportionately taken in the NRM state wolf hunts. US Fish and Wildlife is not yet out of the picture in Wyoming-Montana- and Idaho state management. USFWS still have a monitoring role , and quite a lot of hands on authority over wolves. They can, for instance, mandate re-listing if theu feel populations are threatened or fall to low levels. There is a 5-year probation period before the states recieve full authority over wolves. USFWS has just stepped back from the front lines and primary responsibility, for now.

    So—does the inordinate amount of ” REsearch Wolves” being taken by sportsmen bring USFWS any grief? Does it bring them back to the worktable or invoke any mechanisms ? Could they for instance tell the states that collared wolves need to be targetted much less.

    I haven’t much from USFWS since delisting became real in Wyoming. What exactly is their role in ongoing management and what tools remain to them and what are the triggers for using them ??

    • avatar WM says:

      Cody,

      ++…since it has become known that collared wolves were being disproportionately taken in the NRM state wolf hunts. ++

      Not looking for a fight, but do we know this is an accurate and verifiable statement? And, if it is, do we know for sure why? Is it for sure known that these collared animals are being illegally electronically tracked by some, or is it that despite the presence of a collar (which may or may not be readily visible at a distance), that these are larger or more desirable animals for these yoyo’s to shoot?

  12. avatar Mike says:

    I think there’s no doubt SB and I would get along fine face to face. But his apologizing here is annoying.

    I know he thinks trophy hunting is lame, yet he defends it. He is better and more compassionate than he shows on this blog.

    • avatar Harley says:

      I think I’d get along with a lot of people here face to face too. But no one likes things rammed rudely into their faces or jammed down their throats.

      I think SB defends the RIGHT for someone to trophy hunt, not defending that’s its ok.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        There are many things in life, that I don’t like, but not all things are a black and white to me.

        I know people who have taken wolves this season and actually butchered and put them in the freezer for consumption, I also know hunters who have taken wolves and let the carcass lay, only taking the hide. Both were legal.

        I am sure, I would get along with most people, even those I disagree with.

        I have apologized for nothing. People like to jump to conclusions on my and a couple of others statements posted on this blog, but have no real understanding of what I do away from here.

        I am a very compassionate person, who does have strong feelings about this issue, but I voice those strong feelings in a place that can actually effect a change.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          You don’t need to apologize. I’m glad we can all speak freely whether we think each others’ views are right or wrong, or if we disagree.

          We don’t need to worry about offending delicate feelings, what’s more important is this issue I am afraid is only going to get worse. I have no doubt that we would all get along well and very civilly in person – here we have narrow discussions about almost incendiary issues. 🙂

          • avatar Harley says:

            Well heck, I say we have a Christmas party then! :-)After all, this is notoriously the season for good will and feelings!

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              Harley – I don’t know if you saw my post a few days ago, but one of our WI collared wolves is in northern IL. A young female, collared in central WI, about 100 miles north of the WI/IL border about a year ago. I haven’t heard for sure if IDNR is going to take over radio-tracking her if she stays south of the border.

              • avatar Harley says:

                No I missed that! When she was last tracked, was she more to the west or closer to Chicago? I hope for her sack she’s further west…

              • avatar Harley says:

                lol sake not sack! Yikes

              • avatar ma'iingan says:

                “When she was last tracked, was she more to the west or closer to Chicago? I hope for her sack she’s further west…”

                You Freudian slipped “sack” because that’s what Clay Matthews is going to do to Jay Cutler tomorrow.

                She was near Warren last week – she was not located by our pilot this week, and I’m unclear if it’s because he didn’t try or if he was unable to locate her.

              • avatar Harley says:

                Ok… I see how this is. A Greenbay fan… LOL! I hate to admit it but the Bears are kinda beat up so I think this will not be pretty tomorrow. 🙁
                Does this mean if we have that Christmas party, you’ll be bringing the cheese? *smirk*

                Warren, that’s not far from where I pass through when I head out to Iowa. Man, I hope she’s doing ok, that’s pretty nice country for a wolf, not too populated and probably plenty of deer.

              • avatar Mike says:

                Let’s hope she turns back north. Rural Illinois is full of hillbillies who shoot anything they see.

      • avatar Mike says:

        ++I think SB defends the RIGHT for someone to trophy hunt, not defending that’s its ok.++

        If something’s “not okay”, it’s not okay.

  13. avatar Nancy says:

    “Man, I hope she’s doing ok, that’s pretty nice country for a wolf, not too populated and probably plenty of deer.

    Interesting, you just described what a vast part of the country looks like out here Harley, pretty nice country for a wolf, not too populated and probably plenty of deer (not to mention elk) yet wolves are NOT doing okay.

    • avatar Harley says:

      I dunno Nancy. Wolves are survivors. I’m not sure it looks as grim as either side is letting it on to be. One side says they are killing off all the game animals, the other side states that wolves will be wiped out again. I don’t take much stock in either view but this is spoken from a person who sits in a suburb of Chicago and reads the posts put out there and tries to sift through all the rhetoric she hears.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Can relate Harley, lived on the east coast many, many moons ago.

        All sorts of wildlife out here get by and are “survivors” but the deck keeps getting shuffled and its seldom in their favor, depending on “mankind’s” whim.

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      Nancy
      “yet wolves are NOT doing okay.”
      Since 2004 the state of Montana’s wolf population has increased every year including a 15% increase last year. Individual wolves are dying but the overall population has been increasing since mid 1990’s. Painting that bleak outlook again, your going to have a long winter if you already have the blues.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        I thought those MT numbers are very much disputed in some circles, Rancher Bob

        • avatar Rancher Bob says:

          Louise
          Every winter I spend time counting wolves in my area with state biologist and I can tell you and they will tell you that the Montana wolf numbers are minimums. The state wolf biologist will tell you the number is probably at least 20% higher.

          • avatar Robert R says:

            Rancherbob I herd the same from the biologist from Missoula.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              Seems odd to me the only people “seeing” wolves around, are ranchers…..

              • avatar Rancher Bob says:

                Nancy
                I did not say I saw wolves to count them, we use tracks, and our knowledge of home ranges of wolves. Simple to count wolves with tracks, they can’t be in two places at the same time.

              • avatar Mike says:

                Also, oddly, they happen to be the only ones reporting the strange “I was surrounded by snarling wolves” stories…

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Louise,

          Actually they are disputed by both sides, those that think there are not enough, and those that think there are to many, it is a never ending circle.

  14. avatar Richie G. says:

    I hope both sides come to some kind of agreement.

  15. avatar Bill Wood says:

    I think they should be allowed to be managed by each state individually. I will be elk hunting in the Bridger Tetons this fall and I would like to be able to harvest a wolf as well and do my part to help manage the wolves in that area. I hunted it two years ago (the year before they opened the hunting season, we saw and heard alot of wolf activity in the area) Talking to other hunters and guides in both Montana and Wyoming, they have a completely different view than most of what I am reading here. They are seeing thinned out elk herds, changing activity during the rut, where bulls used to bugle and respond to bugling, they go silent as when they get vocal they are targeted by wolves, so believe what you will and sob for the wolves if you want, but I fully support a reasonable management plan that creates a good balance for ALL of the wildlife in the area.

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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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