Recently I received an alert from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) asking me to send a letter to the Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks  (MDFWP) requesting a slight reduction in their wolf killing/trapping quota outside of Yellowstone Park. The main rationale of the alert was that wolves were important to the local economy because people came to view wolves in Yellowstone and killing of wolves outside of the park jeopardized the Yellowstone wolf-watching experience.

The alert had some additional information in the form letter like wolves were not destroying elk herds, nor a real threat to livestock therefore MDFWP theoretically did not need to kill as many wolves adjacent to Yellowstone as planned.

However, the alert left me feeling disappointed. Why doesn’t GYC  and other groups defend wolves?   There is no good justification for indiscriminate hunting and/or trapping of predators anywhere, any time.  What they are legitimizing by their stance is the persecution of predators to appease the prejudices of some members of society.

There is good scientific evidence that wolves and other predators are “self regulating.” They do not need to be “managed.” Social interactions in all predators serve to limit population numbers, along with the normal mortality associated with the dangerous proposition of depending on killing other large, strong animals for your food.

The attitude seems to be just because wolves have a high reproductive capacity (many pups) and therefore can “tolerate” high mortality rates that indiscriminate killing is somehow acceptable.  Where is the outrage? Why should we tolerate anyone killing animals just because their particular biology can compensate for human hatred and ignorance?

There is also a growing body of evidence that indiscriminate killing of predators disrupt their social systems and may contribute to greater human conflicts. For instance, killing of key pack members may reduce the effectiveness of the pack for hunting or cause them to lose their territory. In both cases, this can lead to a temptation to kill livestock. In any event, given the importance of social interactions in predators, this issue should not be disregarded. Yet state wildlife agencies routinely discount social ecology of predators by simply managing for “populations”.

GYC and other groups should challenge the basic assumptions of state wildlife agency management instead of legitimizing their archaic ideas. At the very least, groups like GYC should be telling the public that state agencies are managing wolves based on politics, not science.

Most of the biologists working for these state agencies would readily acknowledge that their agency’s attitudes towards predators are not based upon the best available science, rather are an attempt to appease the irrational response of hunters and others.  GYC can challenge state agencies in a sympathetic way by acknowledging that these institutions have been captured by ignorant hunters, rural legislators and others.  Nevertheless, we cannot expect any changes in policies as long as those prejudices and ignorant stances remain unchallenged.

Furthermore, there are ethical issues that GYC could raise. Many state wildlife agencies like to promote the idea that hunting should be ethical whereby wildlife killed do not die in vain. In other words, that wildlife is not be “wasted” which typically comes to mean that animals killed should at least be consumed.  Yet I have yet to come upon a hunter who consumes the wolves he/she has killed.

It is clear from the attitudes of most hunters that they kill wolves out of vindictiveness and hatred. Those motivations are not defensible justifications for animals to die, nor can anyone suggest they represent “ethical” treatment of our collective wildlife heritage.

When it comes to trapping, the ethical issues are even clearer. Trapping of any animal, whether wolves or otherwise, is barbaric, cruel and unnecessary—and any environmental group willing to wear the name “environmental” should be willing to say so loudly.

What I expect from GYC and other organizations is a willingness to speak up on behalf of predators.  GYC should demonstrate the courage to speak truth to ignorance.

 
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About The Author

George Wuerthner

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

116 Responses to Greater Yellowstone Coalition Wolf Alert lacks courage

  1. avatar Larry says:

    YES!

  2. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    A couple decades ago I was an active supporter and even a frontline soldier for the GYC, from here in Cody WY.

    Gave up on ’em. They are no longer grassroots , no longer engaged on Wyoming issues ( but the issues are still there ) , and in fact have very much worked AGAINST genuine urgent Wyoming issues. They are the Montana Yellowstone Cabal now. Overstaffed, spending too much effort fundraising. Major administrative siphoning of those funds.

    Qualitatively and precisely as George says , the GYC has not stood their ground on apex predators. Especially wolves . Ditto the sordid Montana FWP-Department of Livestock vs. Bison imboglio. Among other concerns. So I went from being neutral about the GYC to bidding them adieu. They would not let their Cody rep do her job. But it really was their laxity and duplicity on wolves that was the final straw for me.

    Organized Regional Environmentalism ain’t what is used to be, or should be , these days.

  3. avatar Jerry Black says:

     “GYC should demonstrate the courage to speak truth to ignorance.”
    Exactly! And why don’t they?…..Because they’re afraid to speak out against politicians, hunting organizations, and the livestock industry, all of which have a stranglehold on MFWP and their wildlife management policies.
    One can add Defenders and quite a few other “conservation” groups to a list of those that lack the courage to “speak truth to ignorance”

    • avatar sally mackler says:

      Thank you, George. Bravo.
      And you nailed it, Jerry. Those who stand to profit from killing wolves are those with the political and cultural edge/advantage in the decision making conversation, while science takes a back seat. Advocacy orgs should be pushing the science and the lack of benefit/profit motive from which they are operating. Hunters don’t want competition for their prey and livestock industry wants to ‘cry wolf’ and look like the poor farmer besieged by lions,tigers,bears and wolves. In truth we know the majority of their loss is due to their poor/nonexistent husbandry. Especially on public lands where they are destroying the habitat and killing public predators on tax payer’s dimes. This is government ‘intervention’ ranchers are happy to accept.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Researchers conducted a study of the new technique from 2007 to 2012. The new method, called patch occupancy modeling, uses deer and elk hunter observations coupled with information from radio-collared wolves. The statistical approach is a less expensive alternative to the old method of minimum wolf counts, which were performed by biologists and wildlife technicians. The results of the study estimate that for the five-year period, wolf populations were 25-35 percent higher than the minimum counts for each year.

      I don’t doubt that the wolf populations were higher – are they accounting for human error, observers who aren’t scientists, and just flat out lying and manipulation of data (which already exists)? Citizen Science works with birds, but observers are a much more diverse group with no ulterior motives. I wouldn’t trust their input. We don’t want ‘cheaper’ alternatives because you get what you pay for – we want sound science as we’ve been promised! A stamp would help if they need more money? We also want accountability of where the money is going

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        “It takes a lot of people and time, and the budget has gone down with delisting,” Gude said. “It’s getting more and more difficult to keep up, and we felt like we’re getting farther and farther away with the minimum count.”

        This is not what we were promised after the delisting – we were promised that the states would do a good job, not a half-assed one. F*cking liars! I think wolves need to be relisted because this is playing out just as everybody feared it would. Maybe they ought to have wolf advocates in on the counting too and not just hunters.

        • avatar Elk375 says:

          I doubt that hunters are lying about the number of wolves seen. Every time I go through a check station one of the questions have you seen any wolves; I always tell the truth, no wolves but plenty of tracks. Do you want wolf advocates counting to? Ida are you capable of hiking all day on a cold November day or can you ride a horse/mule twenty miles?

          The only people who are capable of counting wolves are hunters, because there is not enough wolf advocates. It takes a 100,000 people through out the state reporting there sightings to develop a trend.

          • avatar Jerry Black says:

            Come on Elk…..maybe you you hike all day, tell the truth, and ride a mule 20 miles, but you are one in a thousand and you know that most hunters in Montana are lazy and used to “getting their elk” by walking not more than half a mile. Hikers, back country fishermen and wildlife watchers put in many more miles than hunters, so yes there are lots of folks out there that can “count” wolves.
            AND, if a hunter doesn’t get his elk, it’s because of wolves..”nothin but wolf tracks out there” “They’ve eaten all the elk!” Sure!

            • avatar Mike says:

              Jerry,
              I call bull. Most hunters I know in North Idaho hike way more than a 1/2 mile. To be successful each year you have to. We go down into some of the roughest country there is and some places it can take two days to pack out an animal.
              Yea, some guys can’t get off the road or atv, but those are not what I consider to be real hunters, there just guys driving around taking in the sights.

            • avatar Elk375 says:

              Jerry maybe it is smart not to hunt more than a mile from your car. In Alaska I would never shoot a moose farther than a half a mile from the air strip or river where I had a boat, unless I had horses. In fact I think a half of mile is too far for moose. Before one pulls the trigger one must decide if they can retrieve the carcass in a timely matter. I have packed it all on my back: sheep, goat, bear, moose, caribou, deer and elk and all of it on horses. I will take a horse any day but I will never use an ATV.

              There are hunters who hike all day and other hunters who never leave the car. There are wildlife watchers who never leave the car and others who hike all day.

          • avatar Ida Lupines says:

            Hiking all day in November on a cold day? No problem. I’m not much of a horseback rider, not that I wouldn’t like to be.

          • avatar Yvette says:

            “Ida are you capable of hiking all day on a cold November day or can you ride a horse/mule twenty miles?”

            Not to get in the middle, but…that is a might pompous of you, Elk. Hike all day on a cold Nov. day? In Montana? Piece–of–Cake. Lived there. Done that. Oh, I ride horses, too. 20 miles is nothing on horseback; have never ridden a mule.

            Tell you what: you come spend a day at work with me. It’s field season. Hike through the tick, pygmy rattler and poison ivy infested woods to get to the creek. Then it’s climb up and down incised creek banks packing POS too heavy water monitoring equipment and sample bottles. Oh yeah, it’ll be June, July and August, so we’re lucky to have 92 degrees as a low; humidity will be high. No breeze down in the bottoms. I work alone almost always, so I could use some help.

            Today at work I encountered 2 pygmy rattlers; a doe and her cute fawn; a water moccasin that crossed in front of me in the creek; and a pile of dead feral hogs. (WS is trying to clear them out).

          • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

            The only people who are capable of counting wolves are hunters, because there is not enough wolf advocates. It takes a 100,000 people through out the state reporting there sightings to develop a trend.
            +++

            that’s a freakin’ delirious scientific wolf monitoring

            wait, maybe to count one wolf it is required that one hunter holds him by the ears while another one takes a photo and ticks a box in a form

            • avatar JB says:

              There are ways to make ‘citizen science’ work; the birders really have this figured out. Of course, they rely on knowledgeable folks who are interested–but don’t have a vested interest in a particular outcome. Both of these are key. How many hunters here would rely on ranchers to estimate elk populations?

          • avatar Ken Cole says:

            I can tell you firsthand that when it comes to using the public to count wildlife that there is a lot of intentional lying. When I worked for Idaho Department of Fish and Game doing salmon creel surveys we would ask anglers whether they had caught and released any wild fish which were easily identifiable because their adipose fin had been clipped off. This was used to determine how many fish would die from their injuries or the extra stress and when we would reach the incidental take quota allowed due to the fact that the wild fish were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The calculation was that for every 10 wild fish caught and released, one would die. If the incidental take quota was reached then the fishery would close.

            While fishing on my own and not wearing anything that identified me as working for Idaho Department of Fish and Game, I had many, many conversations with anglers who told me they weren’t reporting any of the wild fish they were catching out of fear that it would close the fishery early.

            I can’t imagine that hunters are telling the truth in many cases either. Just like I won’t ever report a wolf sighting now, I doubt that hunters would be honest in their reporting if they think that they could inflate the estimate by reporting more wolves than they see.

            Also, how many people do you know who have mistakenly identified a coyote as a wolf?

            When I was at Riggins last weekend I stayed at a crowded campground with some very loud obnoxious people standing around a campfire drinking and cussing until all hours of the night. Then I heard some coyotes howling on the hillside and one of the guys said “hey, listen to those gawd damned wolves howling”. If asked, he would have likely reported that he heard wolves rather than coyotes.

            Another time, while watching a coyote in Yellowstone National Park, I had someone come up to me and ask how big I thought that wolf was. I told them that it was a coyote and not a wolf. Soon after, another car pulled up and they asked the person who asked me the very same question and they said “that guy says it is a coyote”. The new guy said “no, that’s definitely a wolf, and it’s big”.

            The public doesn’t know its arse from a hole in the ground and they see and hear what they want to see.

            • avatar Ida Lupines says:

              Also, how many people do you know who have mistakenly identified a coyote as a wolf?

              I had forgotten about this. I think reports from non-professionals can be useful, but nothing can compensate for the unbiased scientific training of a biologist/scientist.

              Yesterday I saw what I thought was a small coyote at first, but on a closer look turned out to be a fox! I had been hearing them around so I was glad to see one.

              • avatar Ida Lupines says:

                With bird watchers, people who report sightings generally have a love of the subject, and there’s a lot of us. Also, it takes a lot of time and experience to be accurate despite best intentions! With hunters, they don’t like wolves. But maybe there’s something to be said for involvement, for some. But for most, wolf hate continues.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              Totally agree Ken.

              “Also, how many people do you know who have mistakenly identified a coyote as a wolf?”

              And how many people have shot a wolf because they mistakenly identified it as coyote?

              • avatar Elk375 says:

                Last fall on the opening weekend of hunting season I made my required stop at the Cameron, Montana check station in the Madison Valley. Julie Cummingham, the region 3 biologist approached my window and looked in the truck bed and asking me several questions about where I had been hunting and the number of elk seen.

                She then ask how many moose, wolves and both grizzly and black bears seen. I answered the questions truthfully. Until I read about wolf sightings being used to determine wolf numbers I never gave it a second thought.

            • avatar Yvette says:

              +++ Ken Cole

              • avatar Yvette says:

                Let’s not forget that in Montana this past winter a malamute that was walking off leash with his owner was shot and killed. If I remember right, the hunter had a wolf tag and was hunting for wolves. He said he thought it was a wolf.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      This has RMEF written all over it, and they are going to cough up for the cost of the radio collars! I’m offended by this suggestion, and I hope our illustrious Interior Secretary did not encourage this.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      http://helenair.com/lifestyles/recreation/fwp-looks-to-new-technique-to-document-wolf-population-size/article_cc7283b4-f742-11e3-b26e-001a4bcf887a.html

      another article here
      Are they kidding?
      what is with these state agencies how can they expect to pass a red face test with this
      when is the USFWS going to make some noise and step up to the plate in their monitoring obligations.

      all of a sudden there are 800 wolves
      they will rely on hunter observations in the first week of hunting
      whats wrong with that equation?

  4. avatar Kathy Vile says:

    I agree, there is no reason for the slaughter of the wolves aside from hatred and a sick desire to kill and torture these, and many other animals. Much of it is based upon making money. The only reason any thought is given to wolves at all is due to those like myself who want to see wildlife as it should be. Wild. There is also money to be made from us when we do come to their states in hope of seeing nature at it’s best. The animals have very little help in the way of real support. Very few take a true stand for them and people don’t care what science has to say until they are all gone and there are none to see or to hunt and it hits them in the pocketbook. Then the ranchers will be happy, one less predator that they have to deal with. God forbid they should become responsible for their herds, their property that are grazing on our public land.

  5. avatar Diane Bentivegna says:

    As we learned from Dr. Gordon Haber’s 43 years of wolf research in the book “Among Wolves,” written with Marybeth Holleman, when it comes to wolves, it’s not about numbers. It’s about its pack. A wolf is a wolf when it’s part of an intact, unexploited group capable of complex cooperative behaviors and unique traditions. If a pack is left unexploited, it will develop its own traditions for hunting, pup-rearing, and social behaviors that are finely tuned to its precise environment.

    Wolves should not be managed by the simplistic “cost effective” models most commonly used by today’s wildlife agencies. The notion that we can “harvest” a fixed percentage of an existing wolf population that corresponds to natural mortality rates and still maintain a viable population misses the point.

    You can’t manage wolves by the numbers. You can’t just count the numbers of wolves over a particular area and decide whether it’s a “healthy” population. That’s because the functional unit of wolves is the pack. If we leave wolves alone, they will manage their own numbers in concert with their environment. And, if we leave wolves alone, we will be the ones to benefit – for the presence of wolves brings natural balance to ecosystems.

  6. avatar Anja Heister says:

    Alas, I have to agree with George. A major reason for why wolves and other wild animals are slaughtered by hunters and trappers for fun, recreation, profit, trophies and out of vengeance is because so-called “wildlife conservation” organizations support this type of lethal pseudo-“management.” The slaughter can continue because our front is weak and divided with most (all?) of the influential organizations that could put an end to this nonsense, support hunting and trapping, while those of us, who are concerned about individual beings, are labeled “animal rights activists” whom the big organizations stay far away from. As members of the big organizations, hunters and trappers have successfully hijacked their missions in the same way that these special interest groups have hijacked Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and all other state and federal wildlife agencies.
    Defenders of Wildlife started out as an anti-leghold trap group in the 1940s I think, and now they only oppose trapping if it is done “unsustainably” (whatever that may mean). They, as other organizations, have bought into the ethos of “managing for the whole – ecosystems, populations and species, while sanctioning the sacrifice of an unlimited number of “individuals” to be killed by guns and traps and snares.
    Trappers in Montana reported killing at least 66,919 wild animals, including otters, fishers etc. in 2011-12… to make a personal profit from selling their fur to China, Russia, Asia and Europe. Each of these tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) animals died of either shock, a broken spine or neck, drowned, froze or starved to death, or was killed by the trapper via strangulation, shooting, clubbing or stomping to death, or intentional drowning… But hey, it’s all good so long as the species and its populations can be sustained.
    Wolves will continued to be killed just because someone feels like blowing them away or enjoys seeing them helplessly awaiting their fate in a trap; their family structure will continued to be destroyed and some of the survivors will continue to die simply as a result of grief about losing their important friend, family member or mate, or otherwise.
    We could all be a strong and united front and we have the power to put an end to this mess. But for this to happen, some of the big orgs need to step it up a bit, and show courage and integrity.

  7. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    “GYC and other groups should challenge the basic assumptions of state wildlife agency management instead of legitimizing their archaic ideas. At the very least, groups like GYC should be telling the public that state agencies are managing wolves based on politics, not science.”

    Amen, George! I am so sick and tired of many so-called “conservation groups” that think the only way to save wolves is to agree with the hunting and trapping of them. This misguided approach to “conservation” is not only gutless, it’s utterly illogical and unsupported by science. And, it’s contributing to the needless killing of wolves.

    Until these groups begin to take a real stand for wolves and other predators, they will never have my support or see one penny of my money.

  8. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Can someone answer these questions? These are from the article Immer provided.

    In two years, FWP’s requirement to provide a yearly minimum count to the Fish and Wildlife Service expires. That expiration opens the door for state officials to use other means to estimate the state’s wolf population.

    What does this mean, are they still required to report to the Federal gov’t? So how are wolves protected from extirpation?

    The traditional field methods yield an increasingly conservative count and well below actual population sizes, according to the article.

    I thought being conservative was important, so that the wolves are not overly hunted and to allow for natural losses and poaching numbers?

    I can see where hunter observations could be useful, but I don’t think they can be seriously relied upon. And along with the proposed increase in the number of wolves private landowners can kill for ‘perceived threats’, it looks pretty bleak out there for our nation’s wolves. I haven’t forgotten about the dire straits our sage grouse are in, it’s just that wolves are so incredibly persecuted, in in this day and age. Just like the 1800s, only now we are more devious about it and have better technology.

    Nobody’s getting a dime from me either.

  9. avatar Jerry Black says:

    Anyone who doubts that the social structure of wolf packs in Montana is being destroyed needs to spend time out there where they used to den but no longer do because they’re finding it more and more difficult to “pair up”. A pair in Sept or October doesn’t have much of a chance of making it till mating time in February without being shot or trapped.
    Add that to the wolves being killed each day in traps and snares (Yes, trapping and snaring of non-game animals is legal throughout the year, so the thousands of snares out there that are “supposedly” set to trap coyotes and foxes are killing wolves and in many cases intentionally.)
    That’s what we get when we have an agency that accommodates special interests and “unprincipled” conservation groups that collaborate with, instead of exposing, the livestock industry and hunting organizations for the greedy sob’s that they are.

  10. Thank you very much George for telling it the way it is. This is one of the reasons why we are gathering at Arch Park June 28-29 for Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014. As a staff member for a principled conservation group (Friends of the Clearwater http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org) it disgusts me to see certain groups/individuals in the movement cater and pander to state agencies that are completely corrupted and dysfunctional. I’d rather fight like hell in the alley than have a seat at the table and compromise. Join the movement and be part of http://www.speakforwolves.org. It’s an opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and restore our natural heritage.

    • avatar Logan says:

      Brett,

      I have come so very close to joining Friends of the Clearwater on several occasions but it is comments like this: “I’d rather fight like hell in the alley than have a seat at the table and compromise.” that convince me I have made a good decision to spend my money elswhere. I would like to support Friends of the Clearwater efforts for the conservation of wildlife and the roadless areas in the clearwater region, areas that I spend a lot of time in each year but due to their uncompromising position on Wolves I have withheld my support.

      Extreme views on both sides of this debate just cause everyone to become even more entrenched and distrusting.

      I wish I could propose a solution but I might just as easily solve the problems of our two-party government.

  11. avatar Louise Kane says:

    George great summary as usual. With your permission I’d like to send this to a legislator that we just met with.

    As a note about compromise, in writing the MA Carnivore Conservation Act which currently deals with Ma carnivores, Jon and I struggled tremendously with the issue of compromise. We really hope the tenants of the act, if not many of its provisions, will be adopted by interested parties for use in their own states so it became even more critical to think about what we put out there,

    In your much appreciated review of the act you suggested why not ban carnivore hunting altogether? And that in my opinion would have been the course Jon and I would have liked to take. Yet after reading numerous other reviews, some of which came from posters here, we realized that the best chance we have for success was a compromise.

    The compromise being that we did not ask for an all out ban on hunting MA carnivores. The act does however ban trapping, snaring, killing contests, baiting, night hunting, predator calling, and then restricts hunting seasons to one month that don’t overlap other hunting seasons or do so at the tail end. The act would call for a quota of 1. We felt that would minimize mortality a great deal. The act also calls for non lethal management strategies to be employed, funding for a carnivore specialist and we are looking at the stamp issue now as an avenue to provide funding for conservation and coexistence strategies. Most importantly we seek bans of hunting in national, state and all public lands or refuges within the state. To not ask for an all out ban feels traitorous and makes me uncomfortable because as you point out these animals self regulate their populations and its inhumane and unnecessary to hunt them. But there are few if any protections for carnivores here and we have to start somewhere.

    In MA we don’t have wolves but have coy wolves and if there is another species that is more persecuted than wolves, its coyotes. The arguments that you make against managing wolves without consideration of their pack structures and sociality apply to coyotes also. I too believe that no carnivores should be hunted but to start the process of creating better, more humane and ecologically defensible management policies we needed to be “practical”. While we believe the act is very defensible we are fighting an uphill battle. We had our first and very disappointing meeting with a MA legislator this week, who suggested among other things that she felt it was dangerous to legislate wildlife reform, because the state agencies (DNR) should have the flexibility to do so. We pointed out the conflict of interest issues and the inertia when it comes to incorporating best available science into state wildlife agendas as well as institutional bias against independent science. Yet our supposedly liberal democrat is playing it safe in s state where fishing and hunting traditions are strong. We felt like our comments fell on somewhat deaf ears.

    It’s going to take a lot to bring down the ideologies that perpetuate the bad policies in wildlife management today and especially in carnivore management. Managing carnivores as they are is really indefensible. We look forward to any and all suggestions on how to refine the carnivore act to increase its chances of gaining ground.

    Thanks for writing another reminder about why its important to stay the course. There are some things that can’t be compromised in good conscience, trapping, snaring, hounding, penning, killing contests, killing wildlife in refuges, creating wildlife sanctuaries from hunting are first and foremost in my mind.

    • avatar Pamela Gartin says:

      Louise,

      Is the MA CCAct available on line as written? If not, can members of the public obtain a copy or outline?

  12. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    In two years, FWP’s requirement to provide a yearly minimum count to the Fish and Wildlife Service expires. That expiration opens the door for state officials to use other means to estimate the state’s wolf population.

    This is extremely concerning. We’ve been lied to by those who clandestinely schemed to put together this delisting, and now by those who are being relied upon to protect a healthy wolf population. Wolf stamp indeed. I think at all costs these people do not want wolf advocates involved at all in the decision making. The stamp is a win/win for wolf haters; if they make the conditions so unappealing to wolf advocates that they won’t take part in it, they still win. Hunters being trusted to self-report is a very naïve and dangerous way to go.

    The RMEF and other wolf-killing extremists being entrusted to guard the henhouse is extremely worrisome. How did things end up this way? It seems SaveBears was right all along; the Federal government wants to wash its hands of wolf blood, leaving it up to the states, under the pretence that they want to protect other endangered species. Well, they don’t seem to want to do their job where sage grouse and grizzlies are concerned either.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      It’s more like Montana wants a Wolf Stamp-Out.

    • avatar Logan says:

      I agree that self reporting by hunters will not be very accurate. Many hunters I talk to don’t have much actual knowledge about wolves beyond the standard anti-wolf propoganda. Many times I have seen a photo on hunting forums showing “wolf tracks” that are actually mtn lion or some other critter. However, I don’t find many non-hunters to possess any more knowledge either.

      Many that I encounter while backpacking or hunting are surprised to learn that there are wolves, mtn lions and bears in the very mountains they are walking in. I’ve even heard the reply “I thought those were all in Yellowstone.” I’ve also heard some pro-wolfers state that they falsely report wolf sightings by intentionally not telling Wildlife officials of sightings and locations.

      In the long term, sightability surveys are going to be too expensive and the method used will ultimately look more like surveys for other large animals. That is a combination of hunter/recreationist observations, harvest trends, wildlife/car collisions and occasional flight sightability surveys an each method has its element of error.

  13. avatar Brooks Fahy says:

    George is spot on. Unfortunately many other organizations reflect the same reluctance to just come out and say we shouldn’t be hunting predators at all. These organizations bare some responsibility for this slaughter considering the millions of dollars they’ve raised off the backs of wolves.
    It’s time to speak up and to stop being so fearful of losing a few members.

  14. Louise

    Your proposal sounds good. The point of my essay is that we should always be saying there is no reason to kill predators indiscriminately. Your approach greatly restricts and reduces killing of predators and its effect will be very similar to a complete ban. So long as the ultimate goal is not compromised, most progress is done in steps. This would be a positive step.

    What I was suggesting is that GYC does not say that its ultimate goal is to stop all wolf killing (and other predators like grizzly bears if they are delisted). This is the problem–they do not challenge the assumption that hunting/trapping is detrimental and unethical .

    • avatar JB says:

      “The point of my essay is that we should always be saying there is no reason to kill predators indiscriminately.”

      This statement is simply false. States have provided a variety of reasons to kill predators, and they’ve been pretty consistent about it. Predators are killed because (a) they occasionally kill livestock, (b) they occasionally kill pets, (c) under some conditions they can lower the populations of other valued game species, resulting in diminished opportunity to harvest these species, (d) though rare, under other conditions (i.e., disease, food-conditioning, and sometimes, habituation) they can also pose a direct threat to people.

      You–and indeed many people here it would seem–may question whether these are good reasons (or adequate reasons) to kill predators, but agencies have been clear about these reasons from the get-go. Moreover, a significant portion of our society supports these justifications. A recent (2014) study that I took part in found just 14% of people disagreed with the statement “It is acceptable to remove predators that prey on livestock”, while 11% agreed with the statement “Predator control is unacceptable”. These data characterize public opinion at the national level, with robust sample sizes (>1200 respondents), and consistent with other studies, they show support for predator control is broadly supported.

      There’s no question that there are very good reasons and some limited evidence to suggest that regulated public hunting will not be an effective means for addressing conflicts. That is certainly a defensible position–and one that should make agencies think hard about this policy. However, ignoring others’ interests does not make these interests (nor those that have them) go away. And stating that your “ultimate goal is to stop all wolf killing” is likely to earn you more opponents than converts.

      Perhaps the GYC’s reluctance to define their mission as “stop[ping] all wolf killing”, stems from recognition of these facts?

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        “indiscriminately”
        the crux of the issue.

        worldwide; for all prey/predator dynamics

        • avatar JB says:

          The logic:

          Fewer wolves = fewer depredations on pets and livestock, lower probability of impacts on other game species, lower probability of human injury.

          The crux is that their judgment is that the risk of these impacts is unacceptable and justifies indiscriminate killing of wolves to lower their populations, where others (myself included) think the risks of such impacts are minimal. The argument here is about (a) quantifying the risk of these impacts (the scientific question), and (b) whether the risks are acceptable (the normative question). Claims that agencies are unscientific or unethical in their approach cloud these issues, and instill in certain people a false sense of righteousness.

          • avatar Ida Lupines says:

            It isn’t a false sense of righteousness. We can’t have it both ways. We’re the most ridiculous species on the planet, thinking we can do whatever we want and consider ourselves as good, ethical unselfish beings too.

            I wish somebody would clarify that fewer wolves = fewer depredations and impacts on other game species, because the studies just don’t seem to bear it out, and yet we still cling to the theory.

            • avatar JB says:

              Ida:

              It is a false sense of righteousness insomuch as it is based upon false premises (i.e., agencies are not being scientific, agencies have no justification for their actions).

              FYI: I just correlated the wolf population data from the Northern Rocky Mountains 2000-2009 (the data I have on hand) with depredation data. The correlation is 0.866 — meaning about 75% of the variability in depredations can be explained by wolf population size. So it seems there is some justification for the idea that fewer wolves = fewer depredations. The relationship with ungulates is far more complex and the impacts far less clear.

              • avatar Ida Lupines says:

                Ok.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,
                Not to argue with your data, but as the wolf population expanded during those years (2000-09), it goes without saying that new food stimuli would very well equate to higher depredation(s). Does the data still hold consistant for areas where wolf populations have had an annual presense?

                Dan Stark commented after the first wolf season that the hunt wasn’t likely responsible for lower depredation rates, but more likely the response to a very prolonged Winter. Believe it was a 1986 study by Fritts and Mech that first presented this connection between severe Wimters and less depredation, though it does not raise implications with your 10 years of data.

              • avatar JB says:

                Immer:

                I don’t have the rest of the data handy; but yes, I suspect the relationship holds (I’ve seen similar correlations with data from other states). If memory serves, MI calculated the correlation ~0.65 (but again, that’s from memory).

            • avatar Ida Lupines says:

              Ok, so there is a small amount of livestock depredation that can be attributed to predators, and smaller still once sloppy ranching habits and lack of rancher responsibility have been addressed.

              Do we really need to declare what seems like all-out war by having Wildlife Services kill wolves, giving ranchers more leeway to kill wolves, and ever more liberal hunting seasons on wolves to address it? It seems like a nitpicking obsession and has no place in a modern world.

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          So what needs to happen is to pin the baseline to each and every discussion.
          Problem is : that baseline will never be a consensus.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            this has been an issue from day one of the reintroduction.

            on one hand there are self-appointed “researchers” that could not successfully research the label of a can of tomato soup,(east coast POS) and on the other hand you have a collection of hot flash shadow boxers that could not feed themselves with out direction.

            Good luck

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              Jeff perhaps you might try reducing the acrimonious hatred you direct toward some here, including myself. It stays bottled up for awhile and then comes rolling out in a wave of unbridled scorn and derision (east coast pos?). Talk about hot flash…

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        I may be wrong but I think George was equating public hunting to indiscriminate killing
        but I also think the Idaho policies in the Frank Church and other wilderness areas were indiscriminate killing
        I’m not sure what one calls that

        • avatar JB says:

          Louise:

          In their view, hunting and trapping keep the wolf population lower, which reduces depredations and reduces the probability of localized impacts to elk herds. Lots of folks disagree that these impacts are unacceptable (and many believe that lots are avoidable with good husbandry). The point is, their management is not arbitrary — there are reasons to hunt wolves. It’s just that lots of folks here don’t agree that these are good reasons.

          You can’t claim the moral highground while distorting the positions of your adversaries.

          • avatar Serena says:

            That pretty much sums up the anti-wolf crowd. Distorting the positions of those of us who are absolutely exasperated at the wanton hatred, killing and lies to justify even more wanton hatred, killing and lies regarding wolves. Distorting our truth, and our position with name calling, labelling us as “self-righteous” or any other number of psych op BS, crooked men with dollar signs in their eyes and deceptively construed words, presented as “facts”. Surely, equally deceptive politicians could use such damage control PR. Hmmmm….

            • avatar Logan says:

              One thing that completely frustrates me is the constant assumption that the only justification for killing wolves is hatred.

              JB has posted several reasons used for wolf hunting and population control, hatred was not among them. Just because you do not agree with the rationale used does not make them invalid.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            You are right their management is not arbitrary it is single-mindedly aimed at reducing populations without rational or humane justification.

  15. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Wisconsin-wants-to-scale-back-annual-wolf-hunt-5562118.php

    Well color me surprised as hell. I guess in the race to the bottom for uncivilized behavior, even WI has decided they have a limit. Why can’t Montana, Idaho and Wyoming study the effects of hunting on the wolf populations, instead of slowly increasing hunting and taking advantage of the general public’s apathy/ignorance on the matters?

    Wisconsin Wants to Scale Back Annual Wolf Hunt to Study Effects

    The Western governors have demonized themselves along time ago, and most people who care about wildlife and the environment have zero faith in them. And how can the wildlife people look at themselves in the mirror in each morning, knowing they are complicit in letting this happen? “Feeding Their Kids” is a cowardly excuse, because your kids would respect you more if you showed some courage and conscience.

  16. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    I agree that indiscriminate killing of predators is bad science, but we do not live in only a science based society. Organizations such as GYC and Defenders of Wildlife are working everyday to protect wildlife and its habitat and I think the criticism stated on this site is somewhat unwarranted. You may not agree with their methods (ie. compromise), but they have and continue to accomplish numerous benefits for the protection of the landscape.

    Since state wildlife agencies operate on the income from hunting licenses and fees, their objectives are to promote ungulate populations, thus increasing the likelhood of hunter success. Studies have shown in areas where marginal habitat exists, predators tend to be the main cause of mortality of elk calves and cows (which directly affects future recruitment of herds). This is why IDFG hired Wildlife Services to gun down wolves in the Bitterroots and hired the trapper in the Middle Fork Salmon River. Of all the factors affecting ungulates (ie. climate, habitat, predators) they have the ability to control only predators. I do not agree with the short sighteness of their decisions, (short term solution to a long term situation) but if you put yourself in their shoes you may understand why they chose these decisions.

    In a perfect world there would be a consensus that predators should not be killed (except in defense of human life and property). I have seen how changes have occured (in small steps) and do not advocate for extreme measures (ie. eliminate all grazing on public land) because it does not work. Perseverance in educating the public is the best chance for success in protecting predators and their habitat.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Of all the factors affecting ungulates (ie. climate, habitat, predators) they have the ability to control only predators.

      This is what I have a difficult time understanding. Surely this type of management can’t go on forever, because while we think we can ‘control’ the variables, nature sometimes throws us a curve ball and has the final say. I’d hate to think we are being too aggressive in predator control and are the cause of loss of genetic diversity and extinction simply because we want to satisfy a need for something pretty meaningless and unnecessary. I just don’t think it can work in today’s society where weapons are very advanced, people have reduced hunting to practically placing an order for a trophy. In the grand scheme of things, our silly little systems are fairly meaningless, but can do a lot of long-term damage. We also do have the ability to control how much we damage habitat, and we just eat up more and more of it.

      • avatar Mark L says:

        I think your ‘grand scheme of things’ comment is very telling…agree 100 percent. I think the only way to change a long held view is to bring the light of day to it and expose it for what it is…in this case I think minds won’t change through number and charts. A living demonstration will be the only way to change some minds. Its obvious some states will pervert whatever laws are set before them. A living working demonstration of a state with more fair predator laws exists…we should put most resources into that state. Cut the mullets. F’em.

      • avatar Logan says:

        Good comment, our understanding of all of the variables that affect our wildlife and wildlands is very limited. In the long term, actions like sending a professional trapper into the Frank are not sustainable. I only take issue with this part of your comment:

        “I just don’t think it can work in today’s society where weapons are very advanced, people have reduced hunting to practically placing an order for a trophy”

        This (placing an order) only happens on the game farms and high fence operations whose primary customers are the wealthy who can’t be bothered with the trouble of putting work into a hunt.

        The average success rate on elk hunting in the western US is 15-17%, that is hardly placing an order. I have been able to beat those odds by putting in a lot more miles and a lot more work than the average hunter. Perhaps that is why I have a more acceptable view of wolves.

        Could you explain what advanced weapons you are referring to? I’m not sure what the non-hunting public believes is actually available to hunters and what percentage of them use it.

        • avatar Elk375 says:

          IDA

          ++I just don’t think it can work in today’s society where weapons are very advanced,++

          The 30-06 is the most hunting popular caliper in the USA. It was developed in 1906 a military round using a 220 grain bullet in World War 1 in World War 2 it was used in the M1 Garand. The M1 shot a 150 grain bullet at 2740 feet-per- second today’s 30-06 shoots a 150 grain bullet at 2800 hundred feet-per-second for factory ammo or 2900 feet per second for reloads. Where is the advancement?

  17. avatar Louise Kane says:

    http://www.leadertelegram.com/local_news/story/article_86b2e22c-ec6d-11e3-a936-0019bb2963f4.html

    man kills bear without license tells warden bear was charging him, bear was shot while retreating not charging

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      I hate those deer drives. They always result in a lot of traffic accidents on rural roads. 🙁

  18. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Elk, it’s too bad they can’t all be like you and some of the other hunters who comment here.

  19. Animals are the natural extension of the human race. Many need protection, before they are wiped out due to ignorance. In the United States, the Grey Wolf is one such species that is on the “run” again for its survival. Please go onto MoveOn and read, and if inclined, please sign my petition. Search by the words: States are Reckless – Please put Grey Wolves Back on Federal Protection List

  20. avatar Wapitime says:

    Wolves good for the economy? Give me a break! Elk and deer hunting brings a thousand times more dollars to local economies! That will be better understood when all of the elk and deer are killed off by wolves and the hunters dwindle and fail to show up. Hunters are the true wildlife conservationists! Just ask Teddy Roosevelt!

  21. avatar Wapitime says:

    I believe the best start to controlling wolves in my state of Oregon is to have a General Season O.T.C. tag for wolves in Northeast Oregon during deer and elk season….like they do for cougar and bear. It would be a good start——-and most likely as it is with bear and cougar not that many would be harvested. And Immer “False”‘ T.R. might be gone but the legend and his philosophy still exist and make sense today. And, you might refuse to believe wolves are having a huge impact on deer and elk numbers, but you are way off base and wrong in your belief. It just proves to me you don’t spend much time in the mountains—or if you do you put on blinders and refuse to take notice instead falling back on and worshipping your Humane Society, PETA, Sierra Club religion.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Your suggestion to have a wolf season that overlaps bear deer and elk season would do the exact opposite of what you suggest. One of the beast ways to reduce take on one species is to not have it overlap deer and elk season. If you read anything by Immer’s you would appreciate his/her knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Wapiti…
      Your correct, I don’t live in the mountains, but I do live in the middle of Superior National Forest in MN, a place that never lost its wolves, and I live around folks who have the same sorry outlook toward wolves as you do, only to watch deer starve to death each Winter, after they’ve over-browsed young growth. The death toll would be higher of folks would stop feeding the deer. Nature is not a game farm.

      • avatar Wapitime says:

        Immer, no nature is not a game farm, and I do not believe in game farms, did I say nature was a game farm? I guess Miinesota, the Great Lakes, has lots more deer than we do because of the cover back there, also a lot more wolves… So, do you think the mountain men and pioneers should have lived off wild mushrooms and onions? I take it you are not a meat eater… Hey, you can live your life the way you desire but a lot of us out west don’t want that lifestyle shoved down our throats. Good evening.

        • Each creature has a natural place in our ecosystem Wapitime. Humans should not be acting as God, Judge, Jury, etc. For example, Minnesota has the last remaining original grey wolf pack family in the lower 48. In addition, Wolf keep Lyme Disease in check, by being the natural predator for the large deer population that carry the Lyme Disease. If we eliminate the wolf, we are also eliminating our natural defense for Lyme Disease.

          Just a thought…

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          WT,
          You’re words might have more serendipity if you would stop making assumptions about people whom you don’t know.

          So, wrong again.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Immer – posted some interesting links for WT re: “wolves good for the economy” (and the ecosystem)

            No response. Guessing he’d rather troll 🙂

        • avatar Barb Rupers says:

          Wapitime
          There are also a lot of people in the west that want the wolves here and supported their reintroduction, including me. I don’t feel they were forced on us but that it was the only way they would ever become part of the ecosystem from which they had been eradicated decades ago.

          The best news out of Oregon is that a litter of pups was born in the south Cascades this spring. Additionally this state has the best protection for wolves in the west.

          I have been a resident of the Pacific Northwest (which to me includes western Montana) for all but seven years when I lived in Maine.

        • avatar JB says:

          Here (below) are few articles you might want to read, WT. Both of these studies–in Northern Michigan and Wisconsin–sought to investigate the impact of predation on white-tailed deer. The impetus– the classic, ‘wolves are killing all the [insert ungulate]’ story. What they’re finding may surprise you, and should give you pause.

          Pat Durkin column: Wolves aren’t biggest threat for deer – http://gbpg.net/1oBIcdD

          “Researchers attached radio-collars to 139 newborn fawns over the past three springs at the Eastern site, and monitored them throughout summer. Roughly 31 percent died each year, with most succumbing soon after birth. Of fawns monitored, 14 percent (20) died of starvation/disease, 7 percent fell to coyotes, 3 percent were road-kills, 2 percent died of unknown causes, 1 percent fell to bobcats, 1 percent fell to bears and 2 percent fell to predators that couldn’t be identified by tracks, bites, scat and other evidence at kill sites.

          “We didn’t expect to see starvation>/b> as the Eastern site’s top killer,” said Daniel Storm, the project’s lead researcher.”

          Michigan Predator-Prey Study (sponsored by SCI): http://www.fwrc.msstate.edu/carnivore/predatorprey/reports.asp

          [from their 2013 annual report] “We recorded 16 mortalities of radiocollared does. Eleven of these mortalities were attributed to predation (7 coyote, 3 wolf, and 1 bobcat). Additionally, 1 mortality appeared related to birthing
          complications and malnutrition, 1 yearling appeared to have drowned after falling through the ice, 1 died of disease, and 1 was attributed to illegal harvest. We were unable to determine cause of death for 1 doe.
          Of the 43 collared fawns, 26 died as of 5 Sept ember 2013. Predation was
          the largest source of mortality, accounting for 19 fawns. We identified
          6 coyote, 2 black bear, 3 wolf, 2 bobcat, 1 fox, 1 unknown canid, and 4 unknown predations. In addition to predation, 1 fawn was killed by a vehicle collision, and 6 mortalities in which the cause of death could not be determined in the field…”

          The same group’s 2011 Annual report found: of 52 neonate fawn predations 4-7 were (8-13%) were wolves.

          • avatar Wapitime says:

            Some of these animals don’t die of starvation but of stress and exhaustion from being nervous and on the run from the wolves….don’t believe me, spend four months in the mountains. I have seen a dramatic change in the behavior of our elk in Northeast Oregon…not good if you like elk. Numbers are dropping dramatically….Reports will be forthcoming soon. And speaking of exhaustion corresponding to a hoard of Sierra Club – PETA members is tiring to say the least, unless of course you are a progressive and worship Obama, which is not me!

            • avatar Yvette says:

              Sounds like the wolves are restoring the more natural elk behavior. Aren’t elk prey animals? Eyes on the sides of the head so they have a wide range of vision to run from predators? Of course their behavior has changed since wolves have returned. pffft, sounds like you might have to actually hunt now that elk are once again behaving like prey species.

              • avatar Elk375 says:

                Wapititime, JB, Yvette, Immer, Logan, et. al.

                First of all Elk are not whitetail deer and I do not think that a comparison of them is accurate. If there are wolves and elk the wolves are going to eat the elk.

                Wapititime is talking about Northeast Oregon and lets include Southeast Washington. From my knowledge both of those areas, the Sky Caps and the Blue Mountains, are all drawing districts for elk and it takes about 3 to 5 years of bonus or preference points to draw an elk tag.

                There are about 50 wolves in the area from what I have read. If each wolf kills and eats 20 elk a year times 50 that is 1000 elk. If the success ratio is 50% on the drawn tags without a wolf kill then the game department could increase the issued tags by 2000. A 1000 elk that are killed and eaten by wolves could be killed by hunters.

                My question is does Oregon and Washington need wolves to reduce the hunting opportunities.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Elk,

                ” That will be better understood when all of the elk and deer are killed off by wolves and the hunters dwindle and fail to show up. Hunters are the true wildlife conservationists! Just ask Teddy Roosevelt!”

                The spark that lit the fire. Deer, elk, it doesn’t matter. They both evolved with wolves. If not for wolves, with regard to natural selection, you wouldn’t have deer/elk, you’d have cattle.

                Artificially high numbers of elk/deer equals game farm mentality. I like meat, got a pound + sirloin ready for the grill. Probably like back strap more, but if I don’t get my deer, big whoop.

              • avatar JB says:

                “There are about 50 wolves in the area from what I have read. If each wolf kills and eats 20 elk a year times 50 that is 1000 elk.”

                Elk: I’m not explaining compensatory mortality to you again. Good grief, it really isn’t that hard to understand.

                The myth of strong ‘top-down’ effects is being challenged by a bunch of science right now–whether we’re talking white-tail deer or elk. Not that I expect that you’ll listen.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Wapitime you might ask yourself this what would your world be like without Sierra Club, Wild Earth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity or Earth Justice and even PETA. Do you think extractive industries or organizations that use/regulare or are otherwise concerned with wildlife or animals would self regulate and do the right thing. I suspect that you’d find a lot less habitat for those elk you love so much, a lot more poaching, and a lot less diversity not that that point seems to bother you much. Its too bad that these groups are needed to make people behave civilly or to protect the long term interests of Americans but they are. People most of the time prove they can’t be trusted to consider the future or what they leave to others, unless of course they are forced to. It’s those progressive liberal bastards that will probably ensure your kids or grand children don’t suffer from the impacts of the scorched earth policies that tend to predominate in conservative politics.

              • avatar JB says:

                Elk:

                I was recently asked to review a colleagues manuscript which sought to review the literature on ‘trophic cascades’ for large, terrestrial carnivores. For those who don’t know, a trophic cascade is the idea that predators exert a ‘top down’ effect on prey (in these systems, ungulates), which, in turn, effects ungulate herbivory. I think I’m safe posting a very short quote from that review:

                “The greatest intellectual contribution of asking, ‘Have trophic cascades occurred in Isle Royale or Yellowstone?’, may be to highlight that the question does not have a simple, precise, or definitive answer.”

                In other words, though we ‘know’ that predators sometimes exert top-down effects, these effects are often too weak to detect; they occur conditionally; and we’re terrible at predicting when and where they might occur.

                That’s what the experts say. But of course, those are experts. You hunting folk can’t learn anything from them. 😉

              • avatar Elk375 says:

                JB

                ++Elk: I’m not explaining compensatory mortality to you again. Good grief, it really isn’t that hard to understand.++

                ++For those who don’t know, a trophic cascade is the idea that predators exert a ‘top down’ effect on prey (in these systems, ungulates), which, in turn, effects ungulate herbivores.++

                I know what compensatory morality is and I know what trophic cascade is.

                Trophic cascade may work in an island environment or a large national park, such as Yellowstone or the Arctic National Wildlife refuge . But trophic cascade is not going to work very many places in the Northern Mountain Rocky States. In Western Montana the valley floors are private and the mountains are federal. There will never be an large enough intact ecosystem to allow trophic cascade to effectively work. It can not work if the valley floors are used for cattle ranching, trophy ranching or second homes. Cattle are going to trample the riparian areas and river bottoms. The rivers will be dewatered for hay production. Predators may be shot on site. Private property rights are going to rule whether it is right or wrong. As long as there is private property and agricultural production: livestock, hay or row crops, trophic cascade may germinate but will never develop.

                Compensatory morality: There is and always will be compensatory morality but when does compensatory morality with an the increase in predator numbers start to effect hunting opportunity. Last Friday evening I was at my brothers for dinner; he lives up the Trail Creek road about 5 miles east of Bozeman off of Interstate 90 on the Park and Gallatin County line. I left about 8:30 and started seeing cow elk out in the hay fields some single and small groups of 2 and 3. I suspected that they had calves hidden in the hay. I got within sight of Interstate 90 and a herd of 15 elk started across the road, one large bull and there should have been several spikes. That leaves 12 cows that I doubt had calves, some cows were yearlings and some probably were barren. What about the other cows and no calves,I suspect that within the two weeks predators killed their calves. It takes calves to maintain an elk herd.

                What is the best available science? Is a balance ecosystem the best available science or is the maximum number of elk, deer and moose the best science. Both are science it is the desired outcome of what one wants to believe that is the “best available science”.

                ++That’s what the experts say. But of course, those are experts. You hunting folk can’t learn anything from them.++ Oh wait a minute! Does one have to be a college professor or researcher with a Ph.D. to be an expert. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks requires a minimum of a master’s degree and some biologist have Ph.D.’s are they not experts in there field. Maybe these experts can learn from hunters. I have seen several times where wildlife researchers can not find game in the field. I mentioned earlier that a friend of mind saw seven grizzlies in the Centennial Valley several weeks ago; he is the former chairman of the Wild Sheep Foundation and one of the best sheep hunters in the world. Several times ever years he has to go out with biologist, wildlife researchers and graduate students and find game for their studies. If one can not find the animals is he/she an expert. It takes all of us working together to accomplish what we collectively love.

                Years ago, I was hunting sheep in the Beartooth’s Mountains and here comes a graduate student doing his thesis on mountain sheep. We talked for a minute and he had not seen a sheep all day. I pointed out about 40 ewes, lambs and yearling rams, it made his day. Years later I read his thesis. Was he an expert?

              • avatar Mark L says:

                Wow, this compensatory morality stuff is really complicated. I suspect the mortality is even worse.

              • avatar JB says:

                Elk:

                I’m not sure you understand at all. If you did, you would see the folly in this (below) type of statement:

                “A 1000 elk that are killed and eaten by wolves could be killed by hunters.”

                First, some of the protein wolves requires will be scavenged, so you need to separate their energetic requirements (how much will they consume) from kill rates. More to the point, the idea that mortality is compensatory suggests some of these 1,000 would have died anyway from malnutrician, illness, starvation, old age, vehicle collisions, etc. Because predators (especially coursing predators like wolves) will focus their efforts on killing weak and otherwise vulnerable animals, they are more likely to kill animals that would have otherwise died and–this is key–not been available to human hunters.

                Re: Trophic Cascades-
                “…trophic cascade is not going to work very many places in the Northern Mountain Rocky States.” I’m not sure you entirely grasp the implications of your suggestion. The mechanisms by which trophic cascades work are (a) reduction in population of prey, and (b) by moving prey out of preferred feeding areas. These researchers are saying that EVEN IN YELLOWSTONE and Isle Royale, trophic cascades are hard to detect and even harder to predict. Why? In part, the explanation lies in the mechanism: there is not a strong, ‘top-down’ effect of wolves on ungulates. Or more appropriately, the strong, top-down effect is conditional on other factors, so it happens rarely. So yeah, the ecological “benefits” associated with top carnivores are going to be relatively rare, but so are the COSTS.

                Here’s the most telling statement in your post:

                “What about the other cows and no calves, I suspect that within the two weeks predators killed their calves.”

                So despite what science says, the fact that you observed cows without calves leads you to the conclusion that the predators must have killed the calves.

                P.S. The authors of the piece I cited all work with wolves and ungulates; the youngest has a couple of decades of field experience.

                I hadn’t realized that the ability to find something makes one an expert in that subject? What does this tell you about the expertise of all of these hunters that can’t seem to find any elk? The wolves don’t seem to be having a problem…

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            Thanks for posting that JB

            • avatar Wapitime says:

              It is those progressive liberal bastards that fail to close our borders as we continue to be the worlds dumping ground.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Hey Straight Shooter

                The Statue of Liberty Poem

                “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

                Between 1820 and 1920, approximately 34 million persons immigrated to the United States, three-fourths of them staying permanently. For many of these newcomers, their first glimpse of America was the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

                The statue, sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, had been conceived of as a gift of friendship from the people of France marking the two nations’ commitment to liberty. France provided $400,000 for the 151 ft 1 in. (46.05 m) statue, and a fundraising drive in the United States netted $270,000 for the 89-foot pedestal.

                The Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus saw the statue as a beacon to the world. A poem she wrote to help raise money for the pedestal, and which is carved on that pedestal, captured what the statue came to mean to the millions who migrated to the United States seeking freedom, and who have continued to come unto this day.

                –The U.S. Department of State

                “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

                Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
                With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
                Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
                A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
                Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
                From her beacon-hand
                Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
                The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
                “”Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”” cries she
                With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
                Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
                The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
                Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
                I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                What the …. Are you so afraid of, the end of the good old white boys club?

              • avatar Elk375 says:

                Louise

                ++I suspect that you’d find a lot less habitat for those elk you love so much, a lot more poaching, and a lot less diversity not that that point seems to bother you much.++

                You forgot the RMEF since there foundation in 1984 they have either purchase land outright or acquired protection on over 3 million acres. The Wild Sheep Foundation raised 4 million dollars last year for North American wild sheep and will spend 1.25 million in Montana trying to find additional relocation sites for reintroduction of Big Horn Sheep this year.

                The SCI is corrupt and is losing members.

                You and me and the rest of us can be selective in our thinking.

              • avatar JB says:

                Ahhh…I see. You’re a troll after all.

                Well then, nice chatting with you.

              • avatar Yvette says:

                “fail to close our borders”? Baawaahaa, what the hell does that have to do with elk and wolves? Thanks for the laugh, Wapitime.

            • avatar Wapitime says:

              JB, more like 65 wolves, and if they tell us 65 wolves, probably more like 85….and to draw a branch bull tag now in the Wenaha, Walla Walla or Mt.Emily Unit— you better have 15 to 17 preference points, or years of putting in…. Other than that, spike only. And spike numbers are dropping considerably as the calves get eaten by everyone’s best friend, the wolf. I know this is just what the anti-hunters wanted….. Join the NRA and REMF….or eat potatoes and lettuce.

  22. avatar Wapitime says:

    Let me say this, even though we totally disagree on a lot of important issues—I believe you are good folks here, but not being hunters yourselves, we have a totally different viewpoint on things. I have been retired for ten years now, a member of RMEF, and the Mule Deer Foundation, and I spend almost 3 weeks a year on volunteer habitat restoration so I DO CARE, but in a different way.

    • avatar Jeff N. says:

      Wapitroll,

      It makes me feel all warm and special inside that you think all of us PETA loving vegans, devout members of the Sierra Club religion, Humane Society loving, Obama worshipping progressives are “good folks”. I needed that validation from you.

      Sadly, I don’t feel the same about you. Nothing personal but bad first impressions and moronic posts do that to me. Have a great day.

      • avatar Wapitime says:

        Jeff, who is the troll here? That is kind of funny really. Typical liberal response to a conservative that disagrees with your philosophy… I do understand that this website is inhabited by your like mindset. Some logical straight above board thinker like me is necessary I believe in order to bring you back to reality. Cheers and may the bird of paradise—–wait, may a griz bite your ass. Just kidding, let that damned bird fly up your nose!

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          Wapitroll,

          Obviously you have no idea what my mindset is. However, based on the accusations and generalizations in your posts I have a pretty good indication of yours. And I wouldn’t be so quick to pat yourself on the back and gloss yourself as an above the board thinker. Your posts say otherwise. Cheers to you also.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Nice post, Wapiti.

    • avatar rork says:

      Wapitime:
      Some of us hunt. I volunteer allot, for the state DNR (MI), restoring plant communities. But I don’t accept assertions with no data. In MI (and WI) wolves-are-decimating-the-deer stories are still as common as cattails, despite nobody being able to point to any evidence of serious troubles, and pretty good evidence that they aren’t affecting hunter take much. I know deer aren’t elk, and I’m open-minded about what the effects are, so point us to someone estimating the effects. Like with great lakes deer, if there were good estimates of the effects and they were large, why aren’t they well-known, and being pointed to in every discussion of the issue? (I can propose an answer.)

      Most people think that because wolves eat perhaps 20000 deer per year in upper MI that it must be disastrous. They don’t get compensatory death ideas – cause it’s a bit tricky to see how 20K eaten might have almost no effect. Briefly, on compensation:
      Some of them were going to die anyway, particularly last winter, where we may have to thank wolves for every fawn/yearling eaten since those were mostly dead deer to be, just still walking and eating stuff for a few more months, food that could have gone to other deer with a chance of surviving. The zombie deer thus lead to the death of other deer, and degrade the carrying capacity of the land long-term. Recruitment can actually improve. Also, some deer were actually dead or nearly so. Cars, disease, etc. Further, less mouths to feed gets you fatter does, increasing doe fecundity and fawn rearing. I’m not saying the effects are zero, just why they might be smaller than people with bad math compute.

  23. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    There will never be an large enough intact ecosystem to allow trophic cascade to effectively work.

    Or we don’t allow enough time for it to work. Our concept of time is only the blink of an eye. These are the things I have been reading, things are too far gone. There’s evidence of it in Yellowstone.

  24. avatar Nancy says:

    “It takes calves to maintain an elk herd”

    Elk – and how many calves would of been born this spring if pregnant cows had not been shot the previous fall? So maybe buy a license this year but bring a camera instead of a gun 🙂

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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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