Minnesota is the Great Lakes state not run by the Republicans. As a result, the state continues on in a fairly progressive way. including wildlife. Minnesota was the last holdout of wolves in the 48 states. From there they made a grand comeback in Wisconsin and Michigan. For a while it seemed the anti-wolf hysteria that developed with the big Republican takeover in 2010 might infect Minnesota, but things have calmed down and the advocacy group, Howling for Wolves has good news.

NEWS RELEASE

New ‘Wolf Data Bill’ Approved by MN Senate Committee
Bill temporarily suspends the wolf hunt to collect additional data and addresses tribal concerns

(St. Paul, Minn) – A new bill which addresses the wolf hunt in Minnesota was approved this afternoon, March 11, by a majority of members on the Minnesota Senate Committee on Environment and Energy. The bill was then referred to the Senate Committee on State and Local Government.
The Wolf Data Bill, Senate File 2256, is supported by Minnesota-based wolf advocacy group Howling For Wolves and temporarily suspends Minnesota’s wolf hunt to implement the Minnesota DNR’s Wolf Management Plan to formally study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population. The duration of the temporary suspension will be based on the Minnesota DNR providing information originally outlined in the Plan, including a dataset on all known wolf deaths and illnesses, mapping of wolf-livestock conflicts, the establishment and dissemination of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that may be utilized by the livestock sector to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts to include non- lethal methods. It also directs the Minnesota DNR to study public sentiment towards wolves. In particular the plan calls for regular assessment of the public’s knowledge and attitudes toward wolves including issues related to intolerance.
The bill also calls for additional steps to be taken, such as annual census counts, to fully understand Minnesota’s wolf population dynamics, and to ensure Minnesota’s wolf population does not fall below 1,600 (which is the number where it could be relisted as a threatened species).
Minnesota’s tribal concerns are also addressed. This legislation would end the hunting and trapping on native lands if requested by tribal leadership.
“This wolf data bill is an alternative proposal that addresses common-sense concerns with Minnesota’s wolf population and wolf hunt. It directs the Minnesota DNR to gather better information that is needed to understand our wolves with sound, scientific methods. It also addresses key tribal concerns by allowing each tribe to opt-out of hunting on their lands. It’s a reasonable bill that we are optimistic legislators can support,” said Founder and President of Howling For Wolves Dr. Maureen Hackett.

 

 

 
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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.

110 Responses to Good news for Minnesota wolves

  1. avatar Mike says:

    I’ve always liked Minnesota. And to be honest, when wolves were wiped out of the country, it was Minnesota that was wild enough for them to survive. It says a great deal abut that 2 million acre BWCAW/Quetico wilderness ecosystem, doesn’t it?

    It is my firm belief that wolves always held on in the U.P., specifically around the Huron Mountain/McCormick tract wilderness areas, and I believe this is why wolves were re-introduced to the Huron Mountain Club in 1974. The four re-introduced wolves died (trapping and shooting) but IMHO their mistake was trying to head west back to Minnesota.

    Even so, while everyone was cheering Yellowstone’s re-introduction, wolves were making a big time comeback in the hacked Northwoods.

  2. avatar Richie G. says:

    This is the best thing I have heard in a long time and it proves it is against Dems and Republicans see politics almost always. If not always why do animals have to suffer I will never understand people.

  3. avatar WM says:

    The bill is sponsored by the chair of the Committee on Environment, representing a suburb of urbanized St. Paul, so would get out of Committee. Now it goes to the Committee on State and Local Government, where it will no doubt get a going over.

    I am always a bit confused by the distinction between the DFL (Democrat-Farm-Labor) in MN, and how that translates to votes on farming/livestock matters, and whether some might be moderate R’s in other states. US Senator Al Franken is a DFL who jumped on the WGL wolf delisting wagon shortly after his election.

    And, MN’s DNR, you will recall, has basically said they have waited their 10 years after the anticipated delisting date, while HSUS and others sued time after time on technicalities trying to keep wolves listed and NEVER hunted, long after the minimum objective of about 1,200 was achieved. Wonder how rural No. MN/livestock/hunter constituencies feel about this bill?

    A very good history of how DNR manages wolves in MN (population/range expansion/livestock depredation) …in hearing before the Environment and Energy Committee in January 28, 2014. http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/wildlife/wolves/leg/20140128.html

    Does DNR support Maureen Hackett’s bill? I’m thinking not so much, based on their (diplomatic) presentation, and Q&A on poaching enforcement.

  4. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    I think it’s important to note that the Northwoods Wolf Alliance, a grassroots coalition of Anishinaabeg people and their allies working to protect wolves (particularly in MN, MI, and WI) does not support this bill.

    Among other things, this bill empowers the Commissioner of Agriculture to make wolf policy, giving wolves to the ranchers. In addition, it fails to address key tribal concerns.

    Also, The media and press are saying that this bill will temporarily stop the hunts (which are already temporarily stopped because wolf season won’t start up again for months), but to what end is not clear. There is no language in the bill to say when the hunts will
    stop or if they ever will.

    • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

      I read the bill again and it states that no wolves will be taken until certain requirements listed in the bill are met, and the “results are submitted to the House of Representatives and Senate committees with jurisdiction over natural resource policy.”

      So the hunting of wolves can resume once the requirements are met, and it looks like the politicians will still be involved. And again, the Commissioner of Agriculture seems to have far too much influence in developing wolf policy.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Joanna, I don’t know about the Northwoods Wolf Alliance but I’ll go and read what their concerns are. I think that you can be sure of one thing if Maureen Hackett is behind this bill she has done her research and introduced a bill that she believes has a chance to pass. Some of the problems with predator advocacy efforts are that there is not enough collusion, cooperation or discrete goals to achieve any meaningful reform. There are so many hurdles to overcome including public support to end predator hunting. In MN of the many things wolves have going for them, public support is a big one. Howling for Wolves has understood this all along and then also argued correctly that the state wolf recovery plan was ignored. This gave the first legal if not practical way to challenge the knee jerk response by special interests to hunt. Ms Hackett understands that Minnesotans are very supportive of wolves. She also knows that the wolf population here was very stable for a lengthy period of time with not many problems and this bill also includes the concerns of the tribes that did not want wolves hunted. Maureen Hackett has run a relentless, sophisticated campaign. The parts of the bill that seem very important in my mind and increase its legitimacy and potential for success and correcting problems with the current hunt are 1) that it is not calling for a permanent suspension of the hunt but a temporary suspension to formally study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population. Given MN’s ten year history of a stable population prior to the hunt they should be able to get some valuable data about how the hunt impacted the wolves and also whether or not depredations or human wolf conflicts increased. 2) The bill asks to establish databases and information on all known wolf deaths and illnesses, mapping of wolf-livestock conflicts, and to establish and disseminate Best Management Practices (BMPs) to be be utilized by the livestock sector to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts including non- lethal methods. Any responsible DNR or wildlife management agency should be taking these actions if they are “managing wildlife”. If they argue its not necessary they discredit themselves. If claims that wolves need to be hunted to be managed are being made then those claims should be verified by data. If agencies are going to use lethal control to remove wild animals that are causing damage then they should also be doing their best to prevent conflicts and therefore the livestock industry should be provided with information on how to do so and encouraged to do so. These are commonsense requirements to bringing predator or any wildlife management for that matter into this century.

      Perhaps most importantly, to me, this bill also calls for the Minnesota DNR to study public sentiment towards wolves. In particular the plan calls for regular assessment of the public’s knowledge and attitudes toward wolves including issues related to intolerance. This is huge! This would provide an important public record. Now, most public comments seem to be ignored, shoved aside or hidden while special interests are accommodated. In MI, the DNR actually directed its employees to destroy public comments against hunting. Even then only 13 of the 7000 received were in favor of wolf hunting. a public record is an important tool to defend wildlife.

      As Ralph pointed out, the bill also calls for additional steps to be taken, such as annual census counts, to fully understand Minnesota’s wolf population dynamics, and to ensure Minnesota’s wolf population does not fall below 1,600 (which is the number where it could be relisted as a threatened species).
      again this should be mandatory especially when a species is just delisted. I don’t know how many animals that have been delisted have been hunted immediately as wolves have been but I suspect its not many, if any. Since the federal government seems to be sidestepping its obligation to protect wolves then this is an important tool to allow MN to protect its population.

      Finally MN tribal nations asked to have their populations of wolves excluded from the original hunts. If I remember correctly the DNR refused to remove their portion from the number of wolves that could be hunted. Now if minnesota’s tribal concerns are also addressed the legislation would end the hunting and trapping on native lands if requested by tribal leadership. This too is big.

      I know I’d like to see all predator and especially wolf hunting ended. I think that if an animal is predating or causing issues a much better approach is to surgically remove the offending animal. And I realize that is going to happen but a huge first step is to have real information, to understand public sentiment and to require that livestock owners conduct commonsense and realistic measures to reduce potential conflicts. That would go a long way to helping wolves and in the meantime I think MS Hackett buys more time in MN to help an already sympathetic people develop even more reasons to support wolves and to abhor hunting of them. I think its outstanding.

      having said that I wish the bill had a provision in it about trapping but thats another matter entirely.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        also Joanna
        there are parts of this bill that remind me of the Oregon and washington wolf recovery plans that have good components to them. I think those two states struggle with state agencies that are too sympathetic to livestock industries but they both incorporated public input and also required using non lethal methods before allowing lethal takes. I think they are not at all perfect but much better than Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. A first step is a big step. obviously I have to read more on the tribal issues and why they oppose but I was glad to see this bill. I hope on further digging I am not disappointed. anyhow thanks for posting the other side.

  5. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    This bill gives Big Ag as much power as the DNR, and neither are friends to the wolf. They will be deciding how many wolves will be killed and where.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Joanne,

      The where and how many is the big thing. The diagonal belt of the state where forest transitions into farm land, a no brainer, wolves need some type of management.

      The farther one moves to the northeast in the state, the rationale for wolf hunting/trapping loses ground. No one lives in the BWCA, so the only purpose of wolf season there is trophy/$ for MNDNR.

      Deer hunters have no leg to stand on as has been pointed out over and over to the point of redundancy, Winter is the big killer of deer, in particular the farther NE one moves in the state.

      Moose, wolves take their share of moose, and they always have. What’s changed? Weather? Perhaps. Are Tick loads Weather related? Influx of deer into moose territory: prior to 1860, deer rare in moose country. Brain worm
      And liver flukes, both deer vectored to moose are having an impact on moose. Wonder how MN DHA views that?

      • avatar WM says:

        Immer,

        Who is this dingbat MN State Representative Jason Isaacson, who is the prime sponsor of this same bill on the House side?

        He is a horrible orator, and rambles a lot in his questions at the January 28, 2014 general wolf hearing before the House Environment Committee. Very unfocused and you often can’t tell whether he is commenting or asking a question (he takes crap for that from his fellow committee members), doesn’t understand science very well, and is a poor listener (though is a MA social scientist in a communications discipline from his bio), based on his sloppy chastising comments to DNR staffer Dan Stark (who is an accomplished wolf scientist in his own right). Geeez, he reminds me of the Bizzaro World equivalent of some ID state legislators of the R persuasion.

        So, this “wolf data” Senate Bill passes by a vote of 6-8 out of committee after parliamentary maneuvering. Could be a tough bill to pass in the end, however:

        http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_25322800/senate-panel-favors-suspending-wolf-hunt-gathering-more

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          WM,

          I don’t know much about Jason Issacson, other than he is a rep who lives in a nice suburban area of the Twin Cities. Where did you see that interview/link where he grilled Dan Stark? Stark seems to be a good enough Individual. I’ve contacted him twice and the response was fast, polite, and professional. A bit like Mark Gamblin, he gets it from both sides. A wish the wolf situation would get solved (I guess there exist too many solutions, depending who the solver is) so the bitching would stop, and guys like Stark are no longer punching bags.

          • avatar WM says:

            Immer,

            Rep. Issacson asks questions of Stark after Stark’s very good presentation to the House Environment Committee at this link:

            http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/wildlife/wolves/leg/20140128.html

            All I got was streaming video that didn’t really allow for skipping any of the presentation, which was followed by individual Representative questioning. I think Issacson was about fourth legislator in. And, he was even referencing scripted questions, which I think were supplied by someone who understood the topic. He’s not very polished for passing himself off as a college instructor. He was so bad I was almost embarrassed for him – and of course he is the sponsor of this bill in the House.

            I too have spoken with Stark, a couple years back, when I was first trying to understand how MN did its population estimates, and why the range didn’t seem to expand much to the south. He also informed me at the time, that most of their collared wolf data were from Dr. Mech’s studies.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              WM,

              Thanks. Next time I get into town and visit the library I’ll pull that up. Data plan gets sucked dry by videos.

  6. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    Northwoods Wolf Alliance Press Release, March 12th 2014:

    Duluth, MN. The Northwoods Wolf Alliance, an all volunteer group of over 1100 wolf advocates based in northern Minnesota, strongly opposes SF 2256, which was approved by the Minnesota Senate Committee on Environment and Energy yesterday.

    The Northwoods Wolf Alliance urges members of the Senate Committee on State and Local Government to seek broader input, in particular from tribal members and other northern Minnesotans, before advancing a bill that Northwoods Wolf Alliance founder Reyna Crow says will likely led to a permanent hunt on wolves in Minnesota.

    “We now have something in common with wolf hunters”, says Crow: “Both wolf lovers and wolf hunters feel trampled on by people from the cities who don’t care about northern Minnesotans, but have the resources to disproportionately and somewhat unfairly impact policy that directly affects us. We can’t compete with the monied interests on this wolf issue, but we are northern Minnesotans, we live where wolves are and we deserve a say in this policy, I plead with the legislature not to ignore our interests up north, despite our lack of lawyers, PR professionals and lobbyists”.

    According to Crow, the publicity the bill has received is misleading in that it presents this bill as a wolf protection bill, when it’s anything but. Giving control of wolf management policy to the Commissioner of Agriculture, is exactly what people mean when they say `letting the fox guard the hen house’, says Crow, and rewards both the DNR and big agriculture for not upholding their end of the roundtable management plan.

    Wolf advocates negotiated in good faith and honored the roundtable agreement, but the DNR, in an admitted intent to cater to the special interests who’ve captured the agency, backed out of it’s obligation to the public to have the 5 year moratorium on wolf hunting that the roundtable management plan required, saying that it `owed’ it’s `primary and secondary clients’, `hunters and trappers’ and the `livestock producers’ a hunt immediately after federal de—listing.

    Members of the Northwoods Wolf Alliance are also angry about the bill being presented as if it were an expansion of tribal sovereignty. “Our membership is truly insulted by this claim, the clause about tribal land merely reflects the current situation, not what our tribal membership or others working on wolf protection in Indian Country tell me they want to see.” says Crow.

    Crow’s group is supporting an initiative led by long time Anishinaabeg wolf advocate Bob Shimek, who calls for policy which upholds the right of “… tribes to have jurisdiction over wolf management within the exterior boundaries of the reservations” (emphasis added). That’s significantly different than the policy advocated for by the lobby group Howling for Wolves.

    “Maybe city people have the privilege to fight big agriculture interests over recreational killing of wolves for the next 100 years, or until they’ve been rendered mere relics again in Minnesota, but northern Minnesotans, including tribal members, do not”, says Crow, adding “We need policy that is in the best interests of Minnesotans, including tribes, and wolves, which is both economically and scientifically sound. This bill is a complicated step backwards in all regards”.

    Shimek and Crow will discuss wolf policy in Minnesota at a Bemidji rally on March 18th. For details contact NorthwoodsWolfAlliance@gmail.com.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Joanna thanks for posting this I;ll read more on it. I’ll also write Maureen Hackett and ask her opinion on why the tribe is so opposed.

      • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

        Louise, I think the press release states pretty clearly why they are opposed. Their input is being ignored, among other valid concerns. And putting the Commissioner of Agriculture in control of wolf management policy is indeed “letting the fox guard the hen house.”

  7. avatar Dave says:

    And right next door, here in Wisconsin, it’s legal to hunt wolves with packs of dogs!

  8. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    It also directs the Minnesota DNR to study public sentiment towards wolves. In particular the plan calls for regular assessment of the public’s knowledge and attitudes toward wolves including issues related to intolerance. Minnesota’s tribal concerns are also addressed.

    Thank God! I’m going to avoid the wolf-hating states like the plague from here on out. I’ve always wanted to visit Minnesota….

    The bill also calls for additional steps to be taken, such as annual census counts, to fully understand Minnesota’s wolf population dynamics, and to ensure Minnesota’s wolf population does not fall below 1,600 (which is the number where it could be relisted as a threatened species).

    This is very, very prudent – and gives the public reassurance and confidence that the state takes their concerns seriously and values their native wildlife. Idaho and Wisconsin have been total disasters, and dishonest with the public. Naughty schoolboy MI Senator Casperson lies to the public and embellished stories, makes an insincere apology for telling fibs and continues on with bad policy. He should be made to stand in the corner with a dunce cap.

  9. avatar JB says:

    Here’s my read on this bill: (1) If the DNR wants to conduct hunts with the potential to reduce the population by 25%, then they should be collecting yearly data (not necessarily censuses) on wolf populations. However, (2) once you require yearly data collection you impose a significant cost on the state/DNR which will inevitably be used as a justification for continuing to hunt and trap wolves. I don’t have a problem with hunting or trapping of wolves, so long as it is sustainable. However, those that are pushing for this bill thinking it will somehow slow hunting or trapping are mistaken–and in fact, it could have the opposite effect.

  10. avatar Immer Treue says:

    I don’t know if any peer review studies exist of hunting effect on wolf pack dynamics. Does it cause them to splinter (like a gang who’s leader is killed), providing it is one/both of the breeding pair. Stats would not back this as 50% of wolves taken were pups of the year.

    Does it affect pack hunting structure? Wolves die all the time. Does it increase interpack hostility as packs attempt to move into a weakened packs territory? Does it increase/decrease breeding? Will mange begin to abate with a decrease in wolf density? Will there be an increase in deer starvation, with decrease in wolf density (considering the variable of winter severity)? Livestock depredations: up or down, again with Winter Severity Index as a variable.
    Poaching remains at an average of 10%, no change in the MN daffodils.

    In sure there are legions of questions, and the problem I had with the first MN season was, OK, let’s see what happened. I’ve said before, that I don’t think you can manage wolves like deer, by numbers. The packs are what is important.

    An awful lot of science out there for proper wolf management. Time, effort, money. Patience!

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “An awful lot of science out there for proper wolf management. Time, effort, money. Patience!”

      Agree Immer. How many of us have ancestors of wolves, sitting in our homes right now?

      And some have even bigger problems because of the DF’s out there allowed to sell hybrids:

  11. avatar Louise Kane says:

    “I’ve said before, that I don’t think you can manage wolves like deer, by numbers. The packs are what is important.”
    +1

    and why should they be managed like deer by numbers they are not eaten so why hold public hunts to kill or trap them them causing severe stress and pain if any “problem wolves” can be handled individually.

    JB I don’t understand why you would not have a problem with hunting and trapping wolves especially all that is known about their sociality and intelligence. I have a big problem with trapping any wildlife.

    • avatar JB says:

      Louise:

      Deer are social creatures–indeed, many fish could be judged to be “social” as well. “Sociality” is not justification for differential treatment of wildlife. Note: Justifying protections for wolves based upon alleged effects on “pack dynamics” is (if I may adopt a legal analogy) akin to resting one’s case on paper-thin, circumstantial evidence. Wolves ARE intelligent, social creatures–no doubt. That such animals would be impacted (i.e., affected in some way) the loss of a pack member is obvious. The question is whether the pack is adversely impacted to the point that it fails, fails to reproduce, or impacts wolves’ conservation in some meaningful way. The bulk of the evidence doesn’t support such a contention. Indeed, the fact that wolves are INTELLIGENT, SOCIAL creatures also makes them quite adaptable to the loss of pack members.

      The matter of wolves’ intelligence is a different justification entirely. And I think it is one that deserves (though is unlikely to get) some careful attention and thoughtful deliberation. (For example, I wonder about the intelligence of a wolf, relative to a human fetus at 20 weeks?) If we, as a society, decide that it is inhumane to hunt animals with certain cognitive abilities, I would like to think that we would apply that rule consistently. And of course, we need to consider situations beyond hunting for profit/fun. So is killing a pet or livestock adequate justification for killing intelligent species? Or is it conditional upon other factors?

      Where you see black and white, I see a whole hell of a lot of grey.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        JB OK I agree that sociality is not in and of itself a justification to differentiate treatment of wolves. Still the sociality factor taken in concert with others like their intelligence and sentience merit consideration and restraint in my mind. You wrote, “The question is whether the pack is adversely impacted to the point that it fails, fails to reproduce, or impacts wolves’ conservation in some meaningful way.” These are important questions. You claimed that “The bulk of the evidence doesn’t support such a contention. Indeed, the fact that wolves are INTELLIGENT, SOCIAL creatures also makes them quite adaptable to the loss of pack members.”
        What bulk of evidence suggests this?
        What are studies showing post hunting seasons? What packs have been studied? Observers in and around Yellowstone are seeing less wolves. The famous Lamar Canyon pack dissolved after the distraught male The distraught male left and the pack splintered. It seems presumptuous to think that a social animal like a wolf would not suffer stress after the loss of one or many members or be adversely affected by that stress. The long and constant seasons and pressures from the nuts and methods of hunts must surely cause additional stresses not encountered in the wild under “normal” conditions. Jim and Jamie Dutcher recorded their pack’s acute response to the stress from the death of one of the pups. They documented that the wolves grieved and were not themselves for weeks. When people experience stress they are less healthy, less fit and studies show that people exposed to regular stress do not live as long. Wolves appear to be very intelligent and adept at problem solving. I’ve been reading that when wolves and dogs are tested in completing exercises involving intelligence dogs look to humans for the correct response while wolves more often than not solve the problem themselves. If wolves are capable of understanding and solving complex problems than I believe that they would experience undue stress from hunting and trapping. So where are the studies for either position? I don’t really see the issue of hunting wolves or predators as black or white, its just that I’ve yet to hear one good reason to manage predators as they are now, trapped, hounded, shot, snared, hunted with helicopters or fixed aircraft, subjects of killing contests and treated as varmints with no consideration for their sociality, intelligence or sentience.

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          please excuse typos in haste!

        • avatar wolf moderate says:

          Do you know how many prairie dogs are shot, trapped, blown up, and poisoned per day? Take a look. They aren’t cute but deserve the same amount of love as wolves right? I haven’t read one article here on there plight.

        • avatar JB says:

          “What are studies showing post hunting seasons? What packs have been studied?”

          Louise:

          Please recall that wolves in North America have been continuously “hunted” by humans–and other predators. When efforts turned from hunting to eradication, populations plummeted, but wolves persist and thrive throughout Alaska and most Canadian provinces despite regulated hunts. Moreover, the wolves of the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies have also been continuously killed by humans, including illegal mortality (poaching) and legal “control” efforts. And they not only persisted with such mortality, they thrived. Then there are studies that indicate canids respond to heavy mortality with greater reproduction.

          All of these data points indicate wolves, whether counted as individuals or packs, are capable of thriving despite high human mortality. And I will go out on a limb here and say that if you were to discuss this topic with a room full of wolf ecologists, you would get roughly the same answer from 95-99% of them.

          Wolf packs are continuously being “disrupted” by mortality of pack members through senescence (rarely), intraspecific and interspecific killing, injuries caused by prey, motor vehicle collisions, poaching, hunting, etc. Their adaptability and sociability make them extreme resilient to such disturbances–which is why they continue to persist and thrive in many places around the world.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            I’m asking JB where are the studies specifically about human hunting on wolves, what impact/toll does it take, on an individual on the pack? Yellowstone could have made a good study but even now that may be too late. Perhaps the better question is what happens when wolf populations are left unhunted. MN I think was a good example….stable for 10 or more years and depredating wolves being controlled by the state with relatively good support for wolves save for a few small areas. I don’t know of any long term studies of how behaviors, survivability and general health compare hunted to unhunted. AS you point out wolves and wolf packs are disrupted in the wild but I think that the level of hunting effort in western states combined with methods is not something any predator is designed to withstand.

            • avatar JB says:

              What do you mean by “toll”? Are you talking about psychological effects? The reason I ask is that our prior experiences suggest wolf populations are robust to such disturbances.

              “Perhaps the better question is what happens when wolf populations are left unhunted.”

              That experiment was largely conducted in Denali. Mech et al. found that 39-65% of total wolf mortality was due to wolves. A note here: While regulated human hunting occurs seasonally, during daylight hours, and in restricted areas, wolves are subject to wolf-caused mortality 24/7 x 365. You might also consider that the ancestors of our current wolves would have been subject not only to continuous human hunting, but killing by a variety of now extinct competitors, such as saber-toothed tigers and the North American lions (to name a few).

              Honestly, Louise, there really is no reason to believe that human hunting is somehow more impactful than these other sources of predation.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                JB says,
                “Honestly, Louise, there really is no reason to believe that human hunting is somehow more impactful than these other sources of predation.”

                I somewhat disagree. Humans don’t kill the same wolves that would have died in intraspecies conflict. Human hunting, with some extrapolation from your examples, will make wolves a more crepuscular, or even nocturnal hunter. They also learn nothing from the encounter if they are shot from a distance. Wolves surviving a ‘pack on pack’ conflict DO learn something if they survive. This changes the dynamic of the surviving pack differently than human hunting with a member gone in a pink mist (IMHO).

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                “Perhaps the better question is what happens when wolf populations are left unhunted.”

                That experiment was largely conducted in Denali. Mech et al. found that 39-65% of total wolf mortality was due to wolves.

                ++++

                JB,

                is wolf-caused mortality comparable with intensive (above 25%)wolf harvest in absolute numbers?

              • avatar JB says:

                “…will make wolves a more crepuscular, or even nocturnal hunter”

                That’s in interesting hypothesis. I’m not aware of any support for it, but I can see the logic. Of course, this is potentially true of all hunted species. Wolves’ behavioral adaptability should mean that they are better suited to deal with such challenges than most other species (thus minimizing any impact).

                “They also learn nothing from the encounter if they are shot from a distance.”

                True; however, surviving pack members could learn something. They might also learn human avoidance if the shot was missed, or the animals was minimally injured.

                “is wolf-caused mortality comparable with intensive (above 25%)wolf harvest in absolute numbers?”

                Mech et al reported that the “average” for wolves from all sources was 27%.

                Mech L.D. et al. 1998. The Wolves of Denali. U. of Minnesota Press, St. Paul.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                ““…will make wolves a more crepuscular, or even nocturnal hunter””

                During deer rifle season in MN, wolf activity shifted a bit. Actually, in the early morning hours, when hunters were moving to stands, wolves became less active, and as the day moved on, wolf activity followed more normal patterns.

                And I will further resonate, wolves will learn little to nothing in regard to a high powered bullet, whether it hits or misses them. There is no evidence that they learn from lead poisoning.

              • avatar JB says:

                “And I will further resonate, wolves will learn little to nothing in regard to a high powered bullet, whether it hits or misses them. There is no evidence that they learn from lead poisoning.”

                You bet–a dead wolf can’t learn or teach. But a pack member who sees another wolf get shot and then watches a hunter retrieve that wolf certainly has the capacity to learn something.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                “You bet–a dead wolf can’t learn or teach. But a pack member who sees another wolf get shot and then watches a hunter retrieve that wolf certainly has the capacity to learn something.”

                But, does the pack have the cognitive ability, the power of deductive reasoning, the ability to put two and two together that the hunter retrieving the dead wolf actually killed the wolf, or is just scavenging the kill?

              • avatar JB says:

                They don’t have to, they just have to associate the hunter (perceived via sight, sound, or smell) with a negatively-valenced stimulus (dead pack mate).

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,

                Is there research that supports that claim? At about 25% annual turnover, for whatever cause, and about 50% of shot(hunting) and trapped wolves pups, there doesn’t appear to be a long cycle of time to learn. Sarcasm not intended, they don’t go to school, not that school helps many of the humans that attend them. Immortality in youth.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                JB Immer, Mareks and Mark addressed some of the points that are relative to your claim and I’d like to add one. In the process of evolving alongside humans that evolution too place where habitat was not as diminished and human presence was not as dense. Today good habitat is scarce, people use motorized vehicles or fixed wing aircraft or helicopters to hunt wolves and some 40,000 people signed up the first season and bought of wolf tags in Idaho,. Thats a lot of hunter effort and technology to bear against wolves. Not to mention traps hidden everywhere. I just can’t imagine that this does not have some negative consequence. To ask a species to be on the defensive from these kinds of threats is abnormal in any context.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Mark good points

              • avatar JB says:

                Immer; I don’t know of specific research that directly addresses the claim; however, there is little reason to doubt that wolves have the cognitive capacity for such associative learning (essentially, we’re talking about the same mechanism employed by Pavlov).

                Wolves certainly have the ability to
                teach their offspring–I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

              • avatar JB says:

                Louise:

                Wolves managed to exist with a variety of competitors (predators) hunting them 24/7. And recall that people would have hunted them 24/7 x 365–people who lived on the land, who spent their entire lives out of doors. Most of the 40K you speak of would have hunted 2-5 days, during elk season. Those that keep up the hunt for wolves are relatively few.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,

                Pavlov’s dog got a reward, not a bullet. And if I recall correctly, the sslavation fid not begin after the first alarm.

              • avatar topher says:

                If the local deer can develop a fear of humans I don’t know why wolves would be unable to.

              • avatar JB says:

                Immer:

                Pavlov’s experiment took advantage of classical conditioning. In CC, a neutral stimulus (tuning fork) is paired with a valenced stimulus (food). Through such pairings, the subject learns to associate the neutral stimulus with the positive/negative stimulus to the point where presentation of the formally netral stimulus elicits the same behavioral response as the valenced stimulus.

                In this case, the neutral stimulus is the person who is paired with a negative stimulus (death of a packmate). Presumably, such a negative association would initiate an avoidance response.

                One might hypothesize a similar response via operant conditioning (popularized by Skinner), but the outcome would be the same.
                —-

                Note: The elk at Hardware Ranch in Utah (a de-facto preserve where elk were fed during winter) somehow learned to come to the ranch just a day or two ahead of the beginning of hunting season. Notably, they did this despite the fact that managers had not yet put out food for the elk.

              • avatar Jake Jenson says:

                I know of two ranches in Idaho where this has been taking place for several years. We used to joke that they read the regulations.

                “Note: The elk at Hardware Ranch in Utah (a de-facto preserve where elk were fed during winter) somehow learned to come to the ranch just a day or two ahead of the beginning of hunting season. Notably, they did this despite the fact that managers had not yet put out food for the elk.”

              • avatar ma'iingan says:

                “Humans don’t kill the same wolves that would have died in intraspecies conflict.”

                What kind of wolves die in intraspecific conflict, in your experience? In mine it’s dispersers who trespass in occupied territories. These are usually young animals that are also the most vulnerable to human harvest.

                “Human hunting, with some extrapolation from your examples, will make wolves a more crepuscular, or even nocturnal hunter.”

                Wolves are most active when their prey are most active, so they’re crepuscular or nocturnal by nature, depending on the season.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                I would suspect dispersers would not respond agressively to an electronic call from a non-visable source. Lone wolf, cautious. Would an alpha male or female in their own territory? They’d have no choice.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                Nocturnal– I think there is some evidence in larger felines for this predicted effect also. Their prey didn’t change either. The ones that hunted at night has less success but lived.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                Mech et al reported that the “average” for wolves from all sources was 27%.

                +++

                JB,

                if one remembers WM’s favorite reference to Dr. Mech that current wolf numbers probably are ~20% underestimate, then 27% comes down to ~21%.

                And how that relates to human caused mortality in lower 48??

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                During deer rifle season in MN, wolf activity shifted a bit. Actually, in the early morning hours, when hunters were moving to stands, wolves became less active, and as the day moved on, wolf activity followed more normal patterns.
                +++

                Immer,

                it seems that the only way you would recognize that breeding or other adult wolves can learn to avoid hunters would be if wolves collectively would disappear from territories where they are hunted.

                I mean the only way to convince / impress you would be if wolves emigrated from ID,MT,WY,MN,WI,MI at once.

                If they are not behaving in that way then they can’t learn anything about hunters.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                Hot that straight from a MNDNR presentation. Information taken from Wolves wearing GPS collars. Movement was shown graphically, before and during rifle season. Activity decreased during early dawn hours ie dark to sunrise.

                Activity returned to more normal pattern once movement in woods, by humans, slowed down. Ergo, best time to shoot a wolf from a tree stand would be around 8 am til sundown.

                Don’t quite catch the drift of remainder of your question/comment. Care to rephrase?

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                50% of all wolves shot in MN were 1.5 to less than one year old during the 2012 hunt. There’s just more if those age cohorts than almost all the others combined. They never get the opportunity to “learn”.

                Plus, if one is downwind of a wolf/pack, they don’t know you are there. Do they associate the crack of a rifle with humans/death? Where is the empirical evidence to support that?

                If I remember correctly from Dan Starks testimony, about 10% of female wolves killed were breeders. Definelty fewer killed, but a much, much smaller % of the population.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Sorry, just over 10% of all wolves killed were breeding females.

                http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/fish_wildlife/wildlife/wolves/2013/wolfseasoninfo_2012.pdf

                And if one looks at the data, sure, fewer older wolves got killed. Is that because they learned, or because there’s just fewer of them. I submit, the latter.

              • avatar JB says:

                Mareks:

                I’m not sure I completely understand your comment? 27% Annual average mortality is what Mech reported for the wolves of Denali. I do not think the way the estimated populations in Denali is exactly the same as how they are counting wolves in the NRMs–where they have focused on identifying a minimum number. However, I don’t care to argue the point. If you don’t like the estimate, take it up with Mech.

                “…if one is downwind of a wolf/pack, they don’t know you are there.”

                They certainly know when the hunter walks up to the dead pack mate to retrieve it!

                “Do they associate the crack of a rifle with humans/death? Where is the empirical evidence to support that?”

                How would you propose we design that study? (I’ll be sure to send you the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee’s forms to fill out when you’ve got it pieced together.)

                The empirical evidence is documented in thousands of studies that show wolves/dogs abilities to use associative learning, along with wild canids’ general neophobia (i.e., fear of novel stimuli). Does that mean every animal will make the connection. No, of course not. But it is certainly plausible, and logically given what we know about wolves and their capacity to learn.

                Note: You also conveniently ignored multiple comments that elk and deer “learn” the timing of hunting seasons and specific places to go to avoid hunters. Cripe, if elk can do it, why not wolves?

              • avatar JB says:

                Immer:

                Also consider that a wolf pack might be inclined to investigate the site where a pack-mate was killed. There they will find the scent of their pack mate, including its blood, as well as the hunters’ scent. Would this not be enough to make an association?

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,
                The stats so far do not support that wolves learn. Behavior may be altered a bit, but do they learn about human hunters.

                Look at the data. A similar % is harvested from each age cohort. There are fewer older wolves, but statically, about the same % of each killed. They don’t live long enough to learn about humans. Also, the pack is not always present when a pack member is killed.

                We can go round and round on this. It’s interesting that it is stressed that a subject such as trophic cascades be approached with caution. Yet, wolves “learning” or conditioned to avoid hunters and trappers appears so blindly accepted when data does not support such a conclusion.

                Perhaps it was different during the legendary final cleansing of wolves when that grizzled old Wolfer would spend months going after the few remaining wolves.

              • avatar JB says:

                Immer:

                You’re looking at one year of data from Minnesota and drawing the conclusion that wolves do not learn from human hunting. I’m not telling you that wolves ALWAYS learn from human hunting, I am telling you THEY HAVE THE CAPACITY TO LEARN.

                Yes, it will depend upon the individual, and it may depend upon a variety of other factors (e.g., how much hunting pressure there is, how much contact has the indivdual had with people [so they could habituate to human presence]. I’m not blindly accepting anything, I’m simply asserting that there is every reason to believe they have the capacity to learn that human hunters are to be avoided. All that is needed is a negative stimulus (e.g., loud shot, pain from graze, dead pack mate, etc.) and an association with people. If you don’t want to accept the possibility, that is your prerogative.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,

                I’m not disputing that wolves have the capacity to learn. What I’m saying is they don’t live long enough to do so. One year stats from MN, but I believe WI and NRM state stats are similar, more younger wolves are killed because there’s just more of them.

                Agreed, can’t make blanket conclusion that wolves don’t learn based on one year stats, but you certainly cannot make a conclusion they do learn either.

                Face it, wolves live in pockets in the lower 48, all but surrounded by mankind. Fill a bag with marbles of differing colors, each color representing a different age cohort/gender, also figuring in there are more of the younger wolves. You’ll approach the same stats.

                Listen, I’ve got to go haul in wood for next Winter. I can use some help. No mosquitoes, plenty of Bushmills, or a libation of your choice. We’ll sit around the wood stove and have at this topic. 🙂

              • avatar JB says:

                Would love to join you hauling wood (and downing libations), but I’m daddy on duty today.

                But let me leave you with one last thought: If wolves have the capacity to learn socially, then fear of people/hunters could be acquired through individual experience or learned via a packmate. Such learning would explain the phenomena you observe (roughly equal harvest across age cohorts).

                Another datapoint to consider: Ask yourself, are wolves that are hunted easier to observe than wolves that are not hunted. I submit that the undisputed answer is “yes”. The question we’re trying to answer is why? Is it because wolves that are not hunted have habituated to people, or because wolves that are hunted learn a negative association with people, or some combination of both. I submit that the most plausible answer is the last.

              • avatar JB says:

                Well, I thought I was signing off, but had another thought that is relevant to the conversation. Wolves in both the GLs and NRMs have both been subject to “hunting” and trapping in the form pack monitoring (i.e., researchers/managers placing collars around their necks).

                We know that once this happens, it becomes a whole hell of a lot harder the next time around (presumably, because wolves don’t enjoy this experience). So many of these animals will already have a negative association with people. Assuming others can learn from their packmates, the fear of people could be passed along without a human encounter.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                Don’t quite catch the drift of remainder of your question/comment. Care to rephrase?
                +++

                Immer,

                you suggested to observe changes in wolves’ movement pattern as an indirect evidence of wolf’s ‘learning capacity’ about hunters. So if they would move away / disappear / emigrate from NRM & GL states that would be a smart decision. That exodus to states without wolf hunting seasons would impress you.

                The only minor trouble is that wolves are territorial animals and staying in NRM/GL there’s not much they can do to avoid hunters as both of them hunt the very same prey species (ungulates).

                So some changes in timing is all they can do but that’s not enough to avoid being shot.

                I mean, if wolves are not moving out of NRM/GL hunting grounds it doesn’t mean they aren’t learning anything.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                And if one looks at the data, sure, fewer older wolves got killed. Is that because they learned, or because there’s just fewer of them. I submit, the latter.
                +++

                Immer,

                in Latvia (where monitoring is based on age cohorts, % of breeding females, litter size) the percentage of young wolves who reach one year of age is ~ 10-15% but in some years close to zero.

                So it seems that adult wolves do learn smth (of course, if it’s not the case when breeding pairs consist of incoming wolves from other neighboring countries).

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                I attempted to reply with you earlier today, but the message apparently floated somewhere out into cyber space. Why would wolves “exodus” MN, WI, or MI to states without hunting seasons, when there is food available? The few dispersers into Illinois or Missouri have been shot.

                Data from MN simply indicates that 50% of the wolves shot/trapped during the 2012 season were of the age cohorts <1 year old to less than 2 years old of the 413 wolves killed that season, or just more than 200 wolves. Fewer than 15% of the wolves killed were of the age cohorts of 5 and 6 years of age. Does that mean the older wolves were more adept at avoiding being killed, or that there were merely fewer of them? I submit, that with annual non-human mortality among wolves of about 25%, that there are just fewer of the older wolves. I would also submit, that of the age cohorts 5-6 years of age, we would find about 50% of their number shot or trapped. This is only one years data. The 2013 data won’t come out till late Spring/early Summer. I predict the same results, many young wolves taken, fewer older wolves for the simple fact that there are more younger than older wolves, and very little to do with “learning” to avoid getting shot or trapped.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                Why would wolves “exodus” MN, WI, or MI to states without hunting seasons, when there is food available?

                ++++

                Immer,

                because only that would qualify as an evidence to convince you that wolves are ‘learning’ smth – that would be an ultimate evidence.

                “I would also submit, that of the age cohorts 5-6 years of age, we would find about 50% of their number shot or trapped.”

                in Latvia under intensive wolf harvest within 5-6 years almost ALL wolves are shot – so your argument about 50% mortality in 5th or 6th year of age cohort still doesn’t imply anything

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                In a sense you have proven my point.
                Why would wolves “exodus” MN, WI, or MI to states without hunting seasons, when there is food available?

                ++++

                Immer,

                because only that would qualify as an evidence to convince you that wolves are ‘learning’ smth – that would be an ultimate evidence.

                But where is the evidence? There is none. And the occasional disperser gets shot for its efforts in states where no wolf hunting formally/ legally exists.

                “I would also submit, that of the age cohorts 5-6 years of age, we would find about 50% of their number shot or trapped.”

                “in Latvia under intensive wolf harvest within 5-6 years almost ALL wolves are shot – so your argument about 50% mortality in 5th or 6th year of age cohort still doesn’t imply anything”

                So? What are you trying to imply, that wolves learn to avoid hunters or not? In MN, only about 10% of wolves are taken legally. All I’m saying is that it might appear that an equal % of each age cohort is taken, which might also imply that 5 or 6 year old wolves have learned nothing about hunting/trapping. Until more data is available, or experiment is designed to prove or disprove hunting avoidance, it’s only , and I repeat only anecdotal evidence or wishful thinking that would indicate wolves learn to avoid hunters and trappers, neither if which is science.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                Immer,

                nothing of the kind / nothing like that.

                You tried to defend your stand that wolves are slow to catch the lesson by arguing:

                1)about changes in timing concerning wolf movement pattern WITHIN their pack territories

                2)referencing to age cohorts.

                your point about prey species in Great Lakes area is irrelevent as “wolf learning” would be proven not by staying where prey species are (remember that elk etc. are also hunted by humans and they will gladly shoot wolves who are chasing ungulates along their trails / tracks) but by leaving / emigrating from states with wolf hunting seasons. You are the one who is deluded about changes in movement pattern WITHIN a wolf territory as a decisive proof about their learning capacity.

                Imagine Immer would be a terrorist of a bin Laden’s stature and would be searched down by the USA Special forces within area of average wolf’s territory size. How do you think, for how long would you escape/elude thoese forces??? for 5-6 years?? really? By your own standard / reference point, if you wouldn’t avoid them for a year you would be as dumb as my thumb (tongue-in-cheek implied). So much about the relevance of age cohorts to get a clue about wolf’s learning capacity.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                Nothing of the kind! I referred to MNDNR GPS collar data. It indicated that early am hours during deer and wolf season, that wolf activity slowed down a bit while it was still dark as hunters moved to tree stands.

                Once things quieted down from early morning movement (as hunters were in stands and quiet) wolf activity once again resumed. Hardly “learning” anything.

                If you think wolves learn hunter avoidance, please refer to the hard data. Also refer to the video Nancy provided of the Alberta hunter who got two wolves with one shot. Sure the others took off after the shot, but at 300 yards, prove to me they associated the noise, man, and dead pack ages, and if baited or on a carcass, food is going to win almost all the time.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                please refer to the hard data
                +++

                Immer,

                hard data? maybe start with yourself and provide hard data whether wolves were killed along/near ungulate trails/tracks or not.

                All your speculations /’educated guesses’ about wolf’s learning capacity are abusing wolf’s attachment to his territory.

                ++ food is going to win almost all the time ++

                or translated in simple English – most wolves were killed near ungulate trails.

                You are framing the issue in such way that ONLY by mass exodus wolves would prove that you’re wrong.
                And dismissing high probability to be killed (given the wolf’s territory size and competition with hunters over the same prey species).

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                Give me anything other than anecdotal evidence that wolves learn to avoid getting shot. Heck, 10% in MN are illegally shot every year. Coyotes are shot by the thousands if not 10’s of thousands. Where is the learned avoidance?

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                This video, originally posted by Nancy, illustrates my point. Where is the learned avoidance? I believe this is in Alberta where wolves have been hunted forever.

                How can a wolf be expected to learn avoidance of human hunters if they can’t see them, can’t smell them, and get hit by the bullet prior to the sound reaching them?

                http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f114/alberta-two-wolves-one-shot-131387/

              • avatar Mark L says:

                To go back to the original statement/question JB was asking, are humans affecting wolves through hunting? (reminder–grey wolves, not red or Mexican gray…and major discussion was on shooting, not trapping)
                I’d say yes, we are not hunting the same wolves as would be compensatorily killed if they had other large predators. Shooters are getting mostly dispersers (who are usually alone with no ‘witnesses’ to benefit from seeeing them shot BTW), which would eventually lead to a population where less and less wolves successfully disperse, right? Or, are we getting more alphas and causing the dispersals? Whats the long term effect of this? Would it reduce livestock conflicts? Does trapping have the same selective grouping?

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                Where is the learned avoidance?
                +++
                Immer,

                1) wolves could not see a hunter with rifle, so it’s strange you demand of them ‘avoidance’

                2) we all know that wolf’s hunting success is ~ 15-20%, so they can be attracted to a bait

                3) how about you, Immer – if you’d be set up a trap by Special Forces and couldn’t avoid it – would it prove that you can’t learn anything?

                4) maybe ask Dr. Mech to provide hard data about wolf’s learning capacity/ hunter avoidance, uh?
                Sure, if Dr. Mech would provide smth, you’d shut up

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                if you’d be set up a trap
                ++

                maybe correct way is :
                “if you had been set a trap up”

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Mareks,

                Show me the proof that wolves learn hunter avoidance. Until you can, I have nothing more to say.

          • avatar Mark L says:

            When you say wolves have been ‘continuously hunted in North America’, are you referring only to grey, or also to Mexican gray and red? I don’t see a lot of historical references to red wolf hunting by native Americans. Not sure about Mexican gray either…(Apache word for gray is also word for wolf). Its a complement to older folk.

        • avatar JB says:

          “I’ve yet to hear one good reason to manage predators as they are now, trapped, hounded, shot, snared, hunted with helicopters or fixed aircraft, subjects of killing contests and treated as varmints with no consideration for their sociality, intelligence or sentience.”

          Is it that you haven’t heard any good reasons, or that you disagree that the reasons you’ve heard are adequate justification for killing wolves? Wolves are killed for lots of reasons, some of which I think are good (e.g., to protect people), and others that clearly many other people believe are good (e.g., to protect livestock or pets, to provide people with hunting opportunities, to reduce mortality on game species).

          Each of these justifications is a valid reason to someone. For me, the soundness of proposed management action can be judged, in part, on the probability that the action will bring about the desired condition (e.g., a reduction in wolf-caused game mortality, a reduction in risk to livestock). The most compelling reason to oppose management is when the action being proposed has little to no chance of bringing about the desired outcome, or when bringing about the desired outcome would result in an unacceptable risk to the wolf population.

          Back to the ethics question (which underlies the conversation): At some point, those of you who are pushing the ethics angle will need to articulate some principle that is relatively robust to critique. So far, I haven’t heard one.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            No I have not heard any good reasons to justify public hunting. Public hunting does not remove offending animals. It does not act as a pressure valve for wolf haters. Its a legal excuse for people to kill wolves or trophy hunt. Since state wildlife agencies trend to manage wolves to their lowest viable population numbers than I suppose the management agencies can justify public hunts. i find no good justification or valid argument for managing wolves this way. I guess that the public hunts are sound to wildlife agencies as their primary goal is to kill wolves. But this does not mean that its sound management.

            • avatar Mark L says:

              Well said, Louise. Especially the part about not removing offending animals.

            • avatar JB says:

              All good points, Louise. Concerted hunting and trapping does, however, appear to lower populations.

              The empirical question (for those of us interested in such things) is to what extent does lowering wolf populations actually result in (a) reduced risks to pets, (b) reduced risks to livestock, and (c) increased wild ungulates. In the case of (a) and (b) the answer is “not much” because these risks were already extremely low. The answer to (c) is still being debated by ecologists (enter trophic cascades argument).

              In any case, many people consider these “good reasons” that justify wolf hunting. What we as a society need are better data on the overall effects of wolf hunting. That would help us better evaluate whether the proposed intervention (i.e., hunting) is capable of bringing about the desired end states.

              • avatar Yvette says:

                I’d like to see someone research how hunting wolves effects their packs, and pack behavior.

                Questions I have; 1) if a pack loses one or both alphas how does that effect the behavior of the younger pack members, 2) what is the age of “problem wolves”, are they significantly younger wolves? 3) are there fewer or greater confirmed cases of depredation within X time range following an intense hunting season, 4) do complaints against wolf depredation rise or fall within some time frame following wolf hunting season.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Yes concerted hunting does appear unfortunately to lower populations and we do need better data but I’m not sure that all this killing should be part of management given that it does not greatly reduce risks and also that a in my mind should not be so much of consideration. I think that the answer to c is not so easy as there are so many variables, habitat, severe weather, other predators etc but should this even be the driving factor in a management strategy? If predator control is figured into management then so should human hunting? It seems reduction of hunting effort is given less consideration than predator control.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Let me try this again JB. My computer seems to be playing tricks today with a maddening auto spell check feature that is also rearranging sentences or deleting parts! Its also operator error as my hand hits a function key on the keyboard as I am using the laptop mouse. My apologies

                so here goes
                Yes concerted hunting does appear unfortunately to lower populations. So to reach that goal it is effective. yet the goal is the problem especially where, as you indicate, that for concerns of a) pet and human safety and b) livestock deaths the risk is not so great. (and should pets be a consideration anyhow. the owner assumes a risk when he lets his animal loose). I think the issues impacting c) ungulates and other game are not so easy as there are so many variables, habitat, severe weather, other predators etc but yet even in Montana and Idaho the Fish and Game agencies are having a hard time illustrating that wolves are a impacting these animals save for a few areas where there were already other factors driving their declines. And should this even be the driving factor in a management strategy? It seems before managers seek to reduce wolves in wilderness or other areas like Frank Church and or Lolo they ought to reduce or eliminate hunting first especially in places where wolves can have virtually no impact on livestock, humans or pets. Seems like elk have been doing just fine in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Not so for wolves lately.

              • avatar JB says:

                See here is the problem, Louise: You both deny that there wolves are having any impact (without adequate data) AND deny that the justifications provided are good reasons. These are separate questions, though they are absolutely linked.

                I understand that you do not agree that the justifications are valid reasons to hunt wolves (and respect your opinion). However, many people DO believe that these justifications are adequate (more on how many later). The critical piece that is missing (for many of us) is the data to adequately evaluate whether hunting results in the desired effect– or more conservatively, under what conditions can hunting result in the desired effect.

                At this point, those of us that are willing to consider various justifications need data to critically address the effectiveness of hunting and trapping over a variety of conditions.

                _____

                “…It seems before managers seek to reduce wolves in wilderness or other areas like Frank Church and or Lolo they ought to reduce or eliminate hunting first especially in places where wolves can have virtually no impact…”

                Great example. For those who accept the justification of reducing wolves to boost game populations, the logic runs exactly opposite. In any case, we need data on how well hunting (as an intervention) works across a variety of conditions.

            • avatar Jake Jenson says:

              Elk hunting has been extensively reduced in the Frank Church Wilderness hunt units, the Sawtooth Wilderness hunt units, and surrounding wilderness hunt units. Research it for yourself. The IDFG regulations over the last several years verify this.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                I know this Jake…
                Before killing the packs in these areas they could have shut down human hunting. There are over a hundred thousand elk in this state plenty of places for elk hunters virtually nowhere for wolves. Its a wilderness area, I think it was outrageous for them to kill those wolves on federal public lands set aside for wildlife.

              • avatar WM says:

                Louise,

                ++Before killing the packs in these areas [Sawtooth and Frank Wilderness and adjacent elk units] they could have shut down human hunting.

                Well, that ought to play well in Boise and Pocatello. If you were looking for a rally cry for the anti’s, and a good way to really piss off some hunters in the middle (folks you should be seeking as allies), Louise, that would likely be it.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “I would suspect dispersers would not respond agressively to an electronic call from a non-visable source. Lone wolf, cautious. Would an alpha male or female in their own territory? They’d have no choice.”

            If you’re speaking of responding to howls, of course dispersing wolves do not typically make their presence known by howling. As for dominant territorial wolves, of course they have a choice to respond or not – else my howl surveys would have a success rate of 100% instead of 30%.

            And if you’re referring to the electronic predator calls that are commonly used for fox and coyotes, I’ve yet to hear any substantive evidence that they’re effective on wolves.

            • avatar Mark L says:

              30% howl back. Interesting. Is there a way you’ve measured responses by other means, like approaching towards your vicinity or other voicings? What I am wondering is what percentage of your howls are ‘just ignored’ by a dominant wolf that obviously heard it. May not be a way to account for that…just curious.

              • avatar ma'iingan says:

                “What I am wondering is what percentage of your howls are ‘just ignored’ by a dominant wolf that obviously heard it.”

                No way to measure how many attempts are totally ignored, but in my experience, corroborated by my colleagues’ experiences – territorial wolves, whether or not they respond by howling, will frequently approach the site from where the foreign howls emanated.

                This approach may not occur for several hours, but it seems to be a fairly common behavior. So I don’t believe that foreign howls (assuming they are somewhat realistic) are ever “ignored” by resident wolves, even if they don’t respond vocally.

                Of course, I would never expect 100% success during howl surveys – there are instances every summer where I’m unknowingly too close to the resident pack and they’ve detected me.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            Sorry to post this here it pertains to the discussion JB and Immer are having. While it does not specifically relate to wolves and whether or not they have enough time to learn to avoid humans there are some interesting conclusions.

            “http://www.cof.orst.edu/leopold/papers/Laundre_etal2010.pdf”

            Studies have demonstrated that predator efficiency (% success per kill attempts) for a variety of predators is commonly around 8-26 % (Nellis and Keith 1968, Mech 1966, Temple 1987, Longland and Price 1991, Mech et al. 2001). This means that generally around 80 % or more of the time, the prey escapes! We argue that escaping near death is an effective learning tool for prey, especially if their narrow escapes are even narrower in certain areas. If we add the advantages of social learning about predation risk (Kavaliers and Choleris 2001), prey not only have the ability but ample opportunity to learn the peaks and valleys of their landscape of fear and adjust their behavior accordingly.”

            THis study does not look at humans as the predator but if it did I wonder what it would show then. what would be the percentages of escape with so much hunting effort and trapping and snaring included. What would be the take away lessons for wolves? I tend to think that certainly wolves have the capacity to learn but agree with Immer and Mareks that its hard to “learn” avoidance behaviors in landscapes with so much adversity and hidden booby traps. Interesting paper though. I wonder of something exists that is specific to wolves?

            • avatar Ida Lupines says:

              Good point – they may not be able to avoid human hunters at some point, with baiting, calling and advanced weapons. And they couldn’t before, when they were eradicated in large numbers by national policy with poisonings, killing pups in dens, bounties, etc. even with less sophisticated weapons.

              So learning to avoid humans doesn’t seem very likely.

              • avatar Ida Lupines says:

                Or I should say, it might be possible that they could learn to avoid humans, but humans won’t avoid them, and will seek them out to kill them.

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        Could have saved some time and just said because they aren’t cute.

        Sage grouse ain’t sexy either so why waste time with them. I agree Ken.

  12. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    I’m reading the bill right now, commenting as I go:

    1) the Board seems a little more objective than Idaho’s Wolf Control Board!

    2) Must include publicly accessible data and statistics from animals killed in vehicle collisions and by poaching,

    3) Increased wolf counters, BMPs for livestock producers, and a map of wolf/human conflicts (not just he said, she said)

    4) baiting limitations within ten miles of tribal lands, and closing tribal lands to hunting and trapping if tribal leadership requests it

    5) studying public sentiment

    6) goal of insuring long-term survival of the wolf

    Worrisome:

    1) Open Areas: the Commissioner may by rule designate where wolves may be taken

    2) it says the Commissioner of Natural Resources ‘in consultation’ with the Commissioner of Agriculture? That doesn’t sound like handing over management of wolves to the CoA or am I wrong?

  13. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    The DNR and the Commissioner of Agriculture will decide how many wolves are killed and where. Neither are big friends of the wolf. With the fox helping to guard the hen house, there can be no doubt that Big Ag will have a lot of influence regarding how wolves are “managed.”

    This bill does not end the recreational killing of wolves, and there are many tribal concerns that are not being addressed. For one, they don’t even have a seat at the table as they will not be part of the task force described in the bill. I encourage everyone to read the press release by the Northwoods Wolf Alliance that was posted above. Their opposition to this bill has a lot of merit.

  14. avatar Kathy Vile says:

    Great news, hopefully we can end it forever and maybe some other states will follow this.

  15. avatar Immer Treue says:

    WM,

    I’m placing this at the boo tom of the thread so as it might prevent it from getting lost. Finally saw the presentation at the MN wolf “hearing”. I don’t think Issacson was “that” bad, but did seem to pontificate and lose train of thought. It was pretty obviously lobbyists had gotten to him and his plate was full. The female rep beside him was a real lost puppy (sorry, don’t remember her name but Italian…) Stark must have thought how many different ways can I present this to you to get it through your thick skull.

    Closer to home, I was approached by Howling for Wolves to provide testimony. Initially it was a for sure thing, then when found out testimonies were only three minutes (long way to go 5 hour drive…) I was asked to give written testimony on poaching, to which Maureen Hackett referred WM,

    I’m placing this at the boo tom of the thread so as it might prevent it from getting lost. Finally saw the presentation at the MN wolf “hearing”. I don’t think Issacson was “that” bad, but did seem to pontificate and lose train of thought. It was pretty obviously lobbyists had gotten to him and his plate was full. The female rep beside him was a real lost puppy (sorry, don’t remember her name but Italian…) Stark must have thought how many different ways can I present this to you to get it through your thick skull.

    Closer to home, I was approached by Howling for Wolves to provide testimony. Initially it was a for sure thing, then when found out testimonies were only three minutes (long way to go 5 hour drive…) I was asked to give written testimony on poaching, which Hackett referred to a provided written copies to panel. Probably best that way as it was loaded with reference and data.

    One other individual who posts here every once in a while provided verbal testimony. If he wants to take a bow for his testimony, I’ll leave that up to him.and provided written copies to the panel.

  16. avatar Louise Kane says:

    Immer care to share any of your thoughts on the written testimony? I’m very interested always in what you have to say.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Louise,

      Here is most of it with personal information taken out… Still got some folks out there who don’t care a whole lot for me…
      Focus is on poaching stats: additive or compensatory, and lack of ethics of poachers, with possible ramifications

      Poaching Testimonial for 1/28

      I am one of those who are willing to advocate for wolves, who lives in wolf country, about three miles outside of Ely, in the middle of Superior National Forest. I both hunt and fish, …allowed friends to hunt my land. …dream to live in the North, in an area where wolves are part of the landscape. I have photographed and observed wolves on my property. I have a degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, …. I have had a lifelong interest in wolves, and I guess I always thought they were cool, so in that respect, I never bought into Little Red Riding Hood. I have Winter camped in the BWCA, and have been in close proximity to wolf packs a number of times, with one encounter published in the International Wolf Center (IWC) magazine. I have also camped in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Isle Royale in the company of assorted predators and never felt the need to carry a gun. I have contributed to the original, and the IWC’s “Of Wolves and Gray Matter” curriculum. I developed a Wolf curriculum for my students that focused on both the pros and cons of wolves. In addition, I’ve already been told I’m a foreigner, and that’s all I’ll ever be as well as called or referred to as: wolf pimp; wolfaboo; wolf hugger; eco nazi. So go the emotions in regard to wolves.

      As I do not know what ramifications my testimony may portend, unless on Public record, I will not reveal names. I am not, nor have I ever been against wolf management, and this includes lethal means.

      Poaching
      One can understand the contentious nature of wolves when someone like David Mech is vilified by extremes on both sides of the wolf issue. I saw my first “Smoke a Pack a Day bumper sticker in Ely recently. It makes one wonder if social tolerance for wolves has increased since the onset of wolf hunting/trapping two years ago. A brief history, leading up to current times leads me to believe, no, it has not.

      In a review “Population Dynamics of Wolves in North-Central Minnesota ( Wildlife Monographs no.105, Oct.1989) wolf ecologist Todd K. Fuller reports that; “Despite legal protection, 80% of identified wolf mortality was human caused (30% shot, 12% snared, 11% hit by vehicles, 6% killed by government trappers, and 21% killed by humans in some undetermined manner); 10% of wolves that died were killed by other wolves.” Many wolves (26% of mortality) were shot by deer hunters during the 16-day season in November, and others (27%) were shot, snared, or hit by a vehicle in other months.
      From a 11/16/12 Star Tribune article written by Peggy Callahan
      “According to John Hart, district supervisor for U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, the agency removes an average of 200 wolves annually in response to livestock loss, or roughly 6 percent of the population. Illegal killing of wolves has gone on throughout wolf recovery. And still the Minnesota wolf population has grown.
      Many of us hope to and expect to see a decline in the illegal take of wolves, in response to its elevation to a game animal, to peer pressure and to hunting opportunities. The black bear followed the same path from disdain to reverence.”
      From the same article: “Todd Fuller looked at wolf mortality in north-central Minnesota. He found that with a human-caused annual mortality rate of 29 percent, the wolf population nonetheless increased slightly.” An electronic correspondence with a DNR agent prior to first wolf hunting season: ~10% of MN wolves illegally killed, as many as 400 wolves*. A recent DNR source stated on average, 10% of MN wolves are illegally killed annually, which includes the past two years of hunting and trapping. On Isle Royale, where no human-caused mortality occurs, Rolf Peterson reports that annual wolf mortality from 1971 to 1995 averaged 23.5 percent.

      The big question is if that 10% (200- 400*) wolves illegally killed is largely additive (in addition to the 23.5% annual wolf mortality), or compensatory( at least part of the 23.5% annual wolf mortality)? If we extrapolate with known percentages and using a MN wolf population of about 3,000, which most accepted as an average Winter figure prior to the past wolf count. Using Peterson’s 23.5% = 705 annual wolf mortality in MN. 29% (Fuller’s figure) of that is just over 200 wolves illegally taken each year ( which is in the 10% annual illegal take range), if illegal wolf killing is only compensatory. If additive, we are looking at 200 or more wolves illegally killed in addition to the annual MN wolf mortality. The big question is if that 10% (200- 400*) wolves illegally killed is largely additive (in addition to the 23.5% annual wolf mortality), or compensatory (at least part of the 23.5% annual wolf mortality)?

      Has the wolf season increased social tolerance for wolves in MN? I asked a friend who works for the county, who both hunts and traps if he thinks wolf hunting has stopped illegal killing. Reply, “No”. The DNR has added that even with wolf hunting and trapping seasons, 10% of MN wolves are illegally killed, and we know that deer hunters play a major role in this activity. Gut shooting, so the wolf will move on and die away from the tree stand where the shooting occurred is the method of choice. Add to this the ubiquitous I thought it was a coyote excuse, plus other methods I would rather not state.

      A basic principle of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model is Sister (rule) #5 Non-Frivolous Use. In North America, individuals may “legally” kill certain wild animals under strict guidelines for food and for self-defense and property protection. Gut-shooting a wolf from a tree stand is frivolous, illegal, and cruel. If those willing to advocate for wolves are to believe that the DNR looks at the wolf as an important game animal, the illegal killing of wolves must stop. The code of silence, the smoke a pack a day, and shoot, shovel and shut-up mentalities must come to an end. On the back of my deer tag it says TURN IN POACHERS (T.I.P.) 1-800-652-9093

      There are some in the anti-wolf contingent that say wolf advocates must accept part of the blame for illegal killing of wolves as wolf delisting was continually pushed back by legal means. To this I say, I do not expect to receive any credit for the successes that you achieve in life, conversely, do not blame me for your failures. I came across some words of wisdom worth thinking about. “If we hunters don’t clean up our own act, someone else will do it for us and we won’t like the results, but when that time comes, and it surely will, these “hunters” (poachers) will have only themselves to blame.”

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        Thank you for sharing, Immer

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        Thanks, Immer!

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Immer Treue (translation: always loyal 🙂

        Thank you for your positive efforts regarding this highly debated topic.

      • avatar Yvette says:

        Wow, someone with a voice of reason, and the character to stand and speak. Thanks for sharing.

        To the hunters that gut shoot, whether it’s a wolf or coyote: How do you live with yourself?

        I hope more hunters like this person begin to speak up. Publicly.

  17. avatar Gary says:

    The Minnesota DNR is trying to end a 30 year bear study by Dr. Lynn Rogers in Minnesota. Here’s a link to an article:
    http://www.timberjay.com/stories/Bear-study-in-doubt,11395

    the link to Dr. Rogers website: http://www.bearstudy.org/website/
    Click on the Research tab to view more on the legal fight

  18. avatar Nancy says:

    “Another datapoint to consider: Ask yourself, are wolves that are hunted easier to observe than wolves that are not hunted”

    Trick question JB?

    Remember this thread on the WN site?

    http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/11/28/love-wolves-and-hate-coyotes/

    The little relative (coyotes) of wolves, has been on the “bad side” of the ranching industy for what a century or more out here in the west? And, they continue to do far more damage to livestock but didn’t get, for some reason, the same kind of treatment the wolf did when it came to exterminating predators. Why is that?

    Occasionally I hear the chatter from some old timers around here that things were just fine before the reintroduction of wolves back in ’95 into Yellowstone. “Yeah, we’d see those ‘little’ wolves from time to time around here and that was okay, but bringing in those huge Canadian wolves??? 🙂

    The little relatives of wolves (even after being on the top of hunters and rancher’s and their friends “hit list” because of their taste for livestock, for what? a century?) have managed to move comfortably into human turf where they no longer get shot at – Chicago, LA, San Fran, the list of states/cities/counties, goes on and on…..

    I hear coyotes, early morning, early evening and on rare occasions, during the day but I seldom actually see them because they’ve grown accustomed to being shot at when they get too curious and linger to long, in one place.

    • avatar JB says:

      Nancy: In the thread you cited I asked if coyote populations would respond differently were they not hunted–I made special reference to POPULATIONS (as opposed to individuals). The above thread concerns the behavior of individual wolves (not their numbers/populations). To be clear, I was asking whether wolves were easier to observe (presumably because they lacked fear of humans) in areas where they are not hunted. If the answer is “yes” (and I think it is), the the presence of human hunting is a plausible explanation for why wolves are harder to observe (i.e., they ‘learn’ to avoid people) which was the subject of the debate.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        JB,

        Not to belabor the past discussion, but up here, where the forest areas are rather dense, the chances of seeing a wolf, let alone getting a clean shot at one, is very rare.

        For folks new to this blog, I DO NOT HUNT WOLVES!

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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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