Wyoming seeks massive slaughter of non-YNP wolves, expects the federal government to do it.
Wyoming, still hasn’t received permission to manage wolves from the federal government, but they want the number of packs, outside Yellowstone Park, said to be 23, reduced to six. To add insult to injury they don’t want to pay for it. They want the federal government to do it before wolf management is handed over — that is, they want you to pay for it.
Story. Wyo targets wolf packs. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.
The article quotes Wyoming Governor Freudenthal: “In terms of reducing the packs, that’s always been a state objective from the outset,” . . . . “Frankly, it’s essential for both wildlife and domestic livestock that we do that.”
I don’t like profanity, but this guy has got to be an all time lying son-of-a-bitch! Even the head of his Game and Fish Department, Terry Cleveland, recently said the wolves have not hurt Wyoming’s elk numbers (although Cleveland predicted disaster in the near future). The number of livestock killed by wolves in Wyoming is trivial compared to livestock dead from other reasons, including other predators. Furthermore, livestock killed by wolves is largely reinbursed by the private group Defenders of Wildife. Of course, it seems that the wolves always get the rancher’s favorite ewe, so they want extra for their special animals.
Defenders has paid about $160,000 so far in 2006 for livestock losses to wolves in the 3 state area (not just Wyoming). Spread out, this isn’t very much money. Does the governor think that eliminating lets say, being generous, $100,000 worth of largely compensated livestock losses is “essential?” Of course he doesn’t.
Wyoming is a state rolling in money due to the massive destruction of its landscape by the energy industry. Many millions of dollars damage is done to livestock grazing land, not to even mention wildife. Energy development and chronic wasting disease is the real threat to its wildlife. Freduenthal, and the rest of the state’s political oligarchy know these facts damn well, and the destruction of the wolves outside Yellowstone Park will be just a blood ritual to divert attention from the destruction of what was once a beautiful state.
He apparently thinks if he keeps repeating these false charges, the media and the people will believe. Unfortunately, he may be correct because it is the rare story in the main stream media that gives any figures (see some figures below).
In the few places where elk have declined in Wyoming, it is mostly due to deliberately long elk seasons at insistence of powerful ranchers who didn’t want the elk eating the grass they wanted from their livestock. It wasn’t due to wolves, but, of course, these ranchers would like hunters to believe it was wolves.
People should not assume that the wolves inside Yellowstone Park will be safe either, because at least three wolf packs that reside in the Park do leave the Park at various times and live in the adjacent Absaroka Mountains and the area just south Yellowstone (but not in Grand Teton NP).
Here are some statistics on the official livestock losses to wolves in 2005 in Wyoming, 2006 is not available yet, although mortality is up a bit.
Wyoming official losses for 2005: Cattle 61; Sheep 53, dogs 2. These data are from the table at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain%2Dprairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt05/2005_WOLF_REPORT_TOTAL.pdf
It is important to note that most cattle killed are calves, and most of the calves are young calves. There are some losses to wolves that are never found and not reported. The percentage is not known. The graph below assume 9 are lost for every one found–very doubtful. The highest figure I have heard biologists mention is 5 to 1. I doubt it is even 2 to 1.
Because relative numbers as well as absolute figures are important, the graph below shows the relative number of wolf-caused cattle losses comparted to total losses in Wyoming. Remember the USDA assumed actual wolf kills of cattle was 600, not 61.
Given the very high estimate of 600 cattle killed by wolves, nevertheless, that is only 1% of the dead cattle. The largest predatory loss of cattle in Wyoming was dogs. Where is the governor’s outrage about dogs? Shouldn’t he institute a door-to-door search for these terrorist canines?
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
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It’s time for ‘Governor Dave’ and his ill-advisors to stop pretending as if it is still the 1890s. The mandate of the Endangered Species Act is clear: wolves must be restored to, “all or a significant portion of their former range.” Presently, wolves occupy less than 30 percent of the state of Wyoming, which is hardly ‘significant’ when you consider that means that 70 percent of the state has no wolves. This is the point of law that is pivotal in this debate.
Beyond the law, however, is the ecological reality of wolves: they are the driving force behind the health of the herds, the health of the trophy bulls and bucks, and the health of the landscape itself (yes, we have plenty of science to support such a claim). Moreover, science is clear on the impact of wolves on livestock: very little. That’s right, more cows in Wyoming get killed every year by weather than get killed by wolves. In fact, cars kill more cows than wolves. It’s time for ‘Governor Dave’ and the Cowboy Caucus to give it a rest. It’s time to give wolves a chance.
Ralph, you have hit the nail right on the head. I promise that Sinapu and our partners will not let Dale Hall turn back the clock on wolves. If it takes every last breath I have, Wyoming (and Colorado) will again be a howling, tail-wagging, wild haven!
So Ralph – I know nothing about Wyoming or Freudenthal.
You are saying he is using killing wolves to placate cattlemen and bull elk hunters and provide lots of media fodder to distract from the environmental devastation of energy development — out of a sense of impotence at his own inability to stop the Energy destruction? So he can appear to be In Charge and Leading — on something, anything???
Is this political, ideological, or a personal thing? (Recognizing that they are all inter-related). How beholden is he to Energy?
I do not like profanity either. I remember about a month ago Ralph kicked an individual off from blogging and then stated his rules. One rule was to not use profanity or else one would lose priviledges to make comments. This does not set a very good impression for those who comment and live by those rules and yet you go ahead and use profanity.
On another note. Most of the ranchers I know do not mind having the elk interact with the cattle on public land. In fact, the majority welcome it. It is not the cattle rancher that is destroying the public land. It is the very government we pay our taxes to. Yes, cattle may destroy habitat but that is ultimately the fault of the government because of their regulations. Obviously, the government needs to implement stricter regulations. The cattle rancher is only abiding by the law. I am more concerned about those SUVs and recreational vehicles (4-wheelers) than cattle.
Yes he should. And without waiting another minute. After all, there could very likley be a public health hazard (rabies!). It’s the shark-bite vs. traffic fatality syndrome as far as the media is concerned. You can guestimate pretty well just how many people die on the highways and byways vs. the number that are attacked by sharks.
And one more thing, just as back here in Pennsylvania we still have “buck hunting” vs. deer hunting, it seems as if Wyoming has a “bull elk” season rather than an elk season.
Dave Freudental is one of the most cynical politicians I’ve come across anywhere. Outside of the state, he has projected an image of being a moderate Democrat; inside the state, he is out-repubbling the Republicans. His positions on wolves, bears, elk feedgrounds, and CBM and natural gas development in northeast and southwest Wyoming have been fully in line with the demands of the two oligarchies in Wyoming, the livestock and minerals industries. We would be a long time in undoing the damage he’s done, if it were not for the fact that every Wyoming governor seems determined to outdo his predecesor in destroying land and wildlife for political and economic gain.
In short, Dave Freudenthal is just one more length in the long slide toward ecological disaster in this state.
Rob….”fault of the government??”
That makes about as much sense as someone driving 100 mph, killing someone in an accident, and blaming it on the highway patrol for not stopping him to tell him to slow down.
I assumed that ranchers were intelligent enough to figure out what overgrazing on public land looked like and actually cared about the land without the goverrnment monitoring them. Thanks for clarifying that for me.
The government set the regulations for livestock grazing; not the ranchers themselves. If the government set stronger requirements the rancher would abide. Which planet are you from?????? Apparently you have no conern about other negative effects of abuse of our public lands. I have seen many areas in our national forests and BLM where SUVs, 4-wheelers, mortorcycles and even humans leaving their trash and waste which scares the land and you seem to only focus on the cattle. That is also brilliant.
Hayduke Mackay ,
Wow you really need to do some research on this topic instead of spouting off all your feel good management scenarious.
First of all Wolves have no benefit what so ever towards the heath of Wildlife herds especially Elk.
Our Elk herd in Idaho has some of the worst all time calf recruitment and our ave. adult cow age has increased. This means our cows are getting older and our calf recruitment is not able to sustain the overall population in many areas of the state.
These areas just happen to coincide with the areas where Wolves are.
This is 2007 not 1930. we can’t return wolves to every single bit of territory they once occupied.
Get a grip.
You people make me sick. Wolves are COMPLETELY RECOVERED BY ALL ACCOUNTS.
Their Recovery goal was attained years ago and now it’s time to KILL off the excess Wolves down to the numbers agreed upon before this introduction occured.
“This is the point of law that is pivotal in this debate.” Maybe to you and your pro wolf loving supporters but this will have no bearing now that they will be delisted and managed accordingly.
“There are estimated to be 23 wolf packs outside Yellowstone National Park, with three packs in the park. Under federal guidelines, Wyoming needs to maintain a minimum of seven packs outside the park, in addition to three inside, to ensure that wolves will not become endangered again.”
Here it is spelled out for all your wolf lovers in plain english.
– – – – –
Just a note, the figure of 3 packs inside Yellowstone Park is clearly an error in the newspaper article. Whether they are counting groups of wolves or breeding pairs of wolves, there are more than 3 instead Yellowstone Park.
I haven’t talked with Doug Smith for a while, but I think I’m on firm ground saying there are at least 7 breeding pairs in the Park now. However, it it clear that Wyoming can’t count on the Park alone to maintain ten packs. I guess they figure six more outside would keep them at least barely in the safe territory. Ralph Maughan
Obviously you do not know much about range management and the laws behind them. I say it is the governments fault, yes….you pay your taxes to the government, and in your mind they are not doing a very good job.
If the feds set stricter regulations, such as rotation schedules to different allotments several times throughout the summer instead of placing cattle in one allotment all summer, then naturally public lands would not be overgrazed or if they allowed fewer cattle on these allotments then they may not be overgrazed. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out so yes the government is the one at fault as they set the regulatilons for how many cattle can be grazed on public land and how often they are rotated from pasture to pasture. You guys should be whining about the governments oversight of the public lands primarily and the ranchers secondary.
And little do you know but the government is responsible for monitoring public lands grazing contrary to your statement that government is not responsible for monitoring.
As one of those ‘pro-wolf loving’ folks, I’d like to give Hayduke’s assertions a bit more weight, given that they are actually backed by published scientific evidence. There is now over a decide of biological evidence underpinning the claim that wolves are good for the land and wildlife. All of that information is available, at:
I do hope that you’ll take the time to read through the information at that website. Moreover, if you have other scientific articles to support your assertions, please do provide links to them here. Thanks.
Kind of interesting that you chew Jerry out for his lack of knowledge about how public land grazing works and then blithely blunder off on a tangent that shows just how little you know yourself!!
“If the feds set stricter regulations, such as rotation schedules to different allotments several times throughout the summer instead of placing cattle in one allotment all summer, then naturally public lands would not be overgrazed ”
As an employee of the USFS for the last few years, I have worked on the range crew for one of the larger National Forests here in Idaho.
Just FYI, regular rotations ARE mandated by the folks that handle the range allotments. These rotations are monitored and quite closely controlled for conformity.
Yes, cattle are sometimes NOT where they belong – I guess they can’t read the schedule that they should adhere to. BUT, these situations are reported to the ranchers in question and are usually handled quite quickly. Continued possession of the grazing permit itself ensures that the rancher complies.
Numbers of animals are also closely monitored. This is done by actual counting as well as by monitoring the condition of the range forbs as well as general conditions of fences, watering troughs, etc.
Your last post shows a lot of thought about what SHOULD be done by the federal folks —- you just simply don’t seem to realize that most of it IS done. On a constant basis. Ask a rancher that has a permit.
Am I confused??
Here is what Hayduke said — not all, but I think the portion that Mike S is referring to.
“Beyond the law, however, is the ecological reality of wolves: they are the driving force behind the health of the herds, the health of the trophy bulls and bucks, and the health of the landscape itself (yes, we have plenty of science to support such a claim). ”
Then you point out the link to the OSU site that is talking about THE HEALTH OF THE TREES AND GRASS IN YELLOWSTONE!
Well yes Rob, the trees and anything else the elk eat in the area are bound to be more abundant THE WOLVES HAVE KILLED 2 THIRDS OF THE ELK HERD!!
Will you please explain to me how wolves are ” the driving force behind the health of the herds, the health of the trophy bulls and bucks “? To me this would be rather difficult — since a significant number of them – I refer to critters here, keep that in mind – ARE DEAD!!
If you prefer a landscape that has very healthy groves of apens, wonderful stands of willows, and a wolf behind every bush, but no elk, it looks like you are getting your wish.
Just as an aside, and I won’t presume to reveal his identity or credentials until he wishes to, if Mike S. is the person I think he is, he is trained, well respected and has spent a career as a wildlife biologist. If you want scientific proof I’m sure he can provide it ad nauseum.
I am the daughter of a rancher. My father was a fair, thoughtful man who understood and celebrated the natural order of the land. It saddens me to see such venom against native carnivores flung about in public (or private). Such ugliness only serves to further divide the people of the American West, and will ultimately guarantee that ranching here is eliminated. We must share this landscape with all of the people and animals. As ranchers, we cannot be hypocritical–calling ourselves ‘stewards’ of the land at the same time we are waging war on wildlife. Wolves are not the problem. Our sense of entitlement is the problem. Our attitude is the problem. We are the problem—and the solution.
The day has passed when we could do whatever we want with the land. Through the power of technology, everything we do and say is now subject to the critical eye of the public; shout from the rooftops that you’ll kill every wolf you see, and the world places blame on all ranchers, not just you. Stomp your feet in rage saying that wolves have no place, and soon growing livestock on public lands will be illegal. Hold out your weathered, rope-burned hands and ask those crazy city folks to help you find a way to keep growing cows amongst the wolves (yes, it is very doable!), and your kids might actually have a ranch to inherit. The world is watching, and will judge us accordingly.
All I am saying is that if the feds are closely monitoring and the public land is still being overgrazed then why are not the feds imposing stricter regulations that allows fewer cattle to graze on these allotments or that rotates these cattle more frequently than they currently are. It appears those monitoring are not doing a very good job. And guess who gets the blame, the rancher. Unfortunately I know all to much about the situation. You may work for the USFS however, I have lived and worked on a cattle ranch for 20 plus years and have dealt directly with the USFS and BLM so I think I can make good rational assumptions and facts.
Rob…..I realize the feds set the regulations. However, if they’re made more restrictive, why would the ranchers obey them when they disregard them now?
You probably don’t spend much time on the streams…I do, and am disgusted when I see what irresponsible grazing has done to them. That, has an economic impact on alot of folks that aren’t associated with livestock.
I’m just as adamant when it comes to 4-wheelers, suv’s, and human trash.
Layton, I was in Yellowstone in June and I saw plenty of elk. Granted, they were not down in the valleys, but many could be seen at higher elevations. It makes sense that they would stay under cover more to avoid predation. Wolves and elk have coexisted for thousands of years and have evolved with one another. Only when humans have decided that they know better than nature do we have abnormally large game populations with the appearance of many diseases (chronic wasting etc). Without wolves pressuring the elk population, old animals survive and are more apt to get sick, creating a generally less healthy but larger population. If I were you, I would worry less about wolves killing all of the elk in yellowstone and I would worry more about elk in wyoming spreading disease to cattle. That will do more damage than wolf predation ever could.
In an effort to keep myself off of the edge of my seat whilst waiting for our biologist, ‘Mike’, to provide countervailing biological evidence to the Theory of Evolution (the basic premise behind Hayduke’s claims, and mine), I’ll respond to you. Please keep in-mind, however, that you must accept evolution as a real and present force in Nature if you are to agree with this response in any manner; if you don’t accept evolution as such a force, please admit it up-front.
What we are debating here is whether wolves have a positive influence on the fitness of the herd animals that they prey upon. Fitness, in this instance, isrepresented by the presence of healthy herd animals. Weaknessand vulnerability, brought-on by disease, old age or malnutrition, are the opposites of fitness.
Wolves, being predators that generally hunt as a group and hunt by direct encounter with potential prey, ergo ‘test’ their prey todetermine potentialvulnerabilities that would allow for asuccessful kill. This type of predation is called ‘coursing’ predation, and is widely thought by scientists to have a direct effect on increasing the overall fitness of the herd by: 1) reducing theprevalence of diseases in the herd through both directelimination of diseased animals and reduction in the average proximity of herd animals to each other (thus reducing thelikelihood oftransmitting certain diseases through saliva or air); 2) eliminating malnourished members of the herd, thus allowing for more foodavailability for the remaining members of the herd.
Interestingly, this view of the predator-prey dynamic is so widely held in the scientific community, that finding an single article (on-line) on the subject that ‘proves’ the theory is nearly impossible, because all of the research being done is focused on how–not if–predation effects the fitness of prey; the jury was in on this one decades ago. Nonetheless, were you to ask a random sample of 600 PhD biologists if they think that wolf predation generally maintains the fitness of wildungulates, I’d be shocked if you found more than five who say ‘no’.
Not convinced? Well, Layton, let’s take your argument to its logical conclusion then: In sum, you argue that–left unchecked/un-managed–wolves will decimate their native prey. Yet, wolves have existed side-by-side with teeming herds of wild ungulates forhundreds of thousands of years,all but the last two-hundred without any ‘management’ at human hands. There seems to be no evidence to suggest that wolves decimated their prey during that time span. To the contrary, if you read the diaries of Lewis and Clark, you’ll encounter more than a few descriptions of huge herds of bison, elk and deer–herds that supported no small number of wolves, grizzlies, and other meat eaters. The bottom-line is that it is not in the best interest of wolves to eliminate all of their prey; were wolves prone to do that, they would have gone extinct long before humans began wringing their hands about it.
Finally, your reference to wolves killing two-thirds of the elk in Yellowstone is not supported by science. Please read the article on this subject available on-line (click here). Also, a great source for on-line information regarding the scientific aspects of this debate is the Google “scholar’ search engine (click here). Thanks for your consideration of all of this information.
“In an effort to keep myself off of the edge of my seat whilst waiting for our biologist, ‘Mike’, to provide countervailing biological evidence to the Theory of Evolution (the basic premise behind Hayduke’s claims, and mine”
Who claimed to be a Biologist? Thanks Layton but although I have been involved with this Wolf introduction from the begining I am no Biologist.
You people can believe whatever you want but depending on who’s paid by whom to do their research and reports, different opinions can be easily bought one way or the other.
So lets confront this so called ” Theory of Evolution” Is that what we are talking about or did it have something to do with Wolves eating 2/3 of the Elk in Yellowstone and the great recovery of the plants and Aspens in the park?
I’ll post this statement again.
“There are estimated to be 23 wolf packs outside Yellowstone National Park, with three packs in the park. Under federal guidelines, Wyoming needs to maintain a minimum of seven packs outside the park, in addition to three inside, to ensure that wolves will not become endangered again.”
So what’s the problem? It sounds like Wyoming has too many Wolves to me.
Here’s the facts and they CANT de debated.
The Gray Wolf Introduction and recovery program is a complete success.
Wolves have far surpassed the numbers that were previously agreed upon and they should now be delisted.
They WILL be delisted and they will be managed down to the numbers agreed upon previously.
When thinking and talking about the wolves impact (real or perceived) on the elk herds in ID, the age of the average cow elk, calf recruitment, keep in mind that the objective of most hunters, particularly those in ID and the nonresidents who go to that state to hunt, is to kill a bull or a buck, not a cow. So while wolves have been killing cows, humans have been overkilling the bulls needed to impregnate the cows, so less cows get pregnant and produce less calves. A 1:1 ratio of bulls to cows, or something close to it, is best for growing and maintaining a large ungulate herd. This has been proven by states who wanted to increase the size of their herd and did so by curtailing buck/bull hunting. Idahoans live off of myths and would never consider trying something that actually makes sense.
Ranchers already comply with the regulations as they are now. If they do not then the government should kick them off and they are not doing their part.
If the cattle are damaging the streams them why don’t you feds implement controls to keep the cattle off the streams like maybe fence off the streams and place water troughs above and away from streams. This is obviously not being done by your assessment. However, if the feds would implement stricter controls and impose fines then cattle would have minimal impact but when it comes right down to it the federal government has to issue stricter regulations and this is not being done. Blame the rancher all you want but the government, the very agency you work for, is to blame for trashing our public lands primarily. Maybe you should complain to your employer first to change their regulations. Enough said!
I’ll believe that Wyoming has too many wolves when the preponderance of scientific evidence says it is so. Until then, may the wolves out-breed and out-smart us all!
The numbers you quote are indeed MINIMUM numbers for de-listing, and de-listing would have already occurred had Wyoming come up with a reasonable management plan. These numbers were never meant to be MAXIMUM numbers. Using your logic, one might ask, “What are the minimum numbers of elk, moose, pronghorn, bighorn or deer required to ensure that they will not become endangered?”
One could then make the argument, once again using your logic, that there are too many of each of these animals.
Alan is right; the 10 breeding pairs/100 wolves per state was never intended to be a cap, but merely an indicator that recovery was on its way and wolves could be delisted into state management, with “adequate regulatory mechanisms” in place to ensure wolf conservation over time, which in Wyoming, is Trophy Game status for wolves in the entire state.
The fact that the entire state of Wyoming was declared to be part of the recovery area, and the fact that the Final EIS rejected a “keep ’em in Yellowstone” alternative–Alt 4, the old Wolf Management Committee proposal–is clear and indisputable proof that the concept for wolf recovery included wolf distribution THROUGHOUT the state.
NO ONE EVER AGREED–INCLUDING THE FWS–TO A CAP ON WOLF PACKS/NUMBERS ANYWHERE IN THE RECOVERY AREA. ANY CLAIM TO THE CONTRARY IS SIMPLY AND INDISPUTABLY FALSE. READ THE FINAL EIS AND THE FINAL RULE FROM 22 NOVEMBER 1994.
The Wyoming Wolf Plan and the recent FWS proposal, which dictate a cap on wolf numbers, are illegal. Period. Not only do they violate the Final Rule under which wolves were reintroduced, they violate the ESA, which requires restoration of endangered/threatened species throughout their historical range. Wolves, as the Stockgrowers Association never fails to tell us, were originally present throughout Wyoming.
Furthermore, we need to lay to rest this claim that wolves are wiping out elk herds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It’s not true of the Northern Yellowstone Herd–there is no evidence that wolves have had a significant impact on the reduction of numbers in that herd, and it is certainly true that the herd has had some pretty drastic fluctuations over the years, even before wolf reintroduction in 1995. It’s certainly not true of Wyoming’s Wiggins Fork Elk Herd, which happens to be the elk herd in my watershed of residence and the herd that I hunt every fall and study throughout the year. Unfortunately, the Wyoming G&F Department has claimed in its Petition to Delist Wolves that wolves are significantly reducing the cow-calf ratios in the Wiggins Fork Herd. That isn’t true. What G&F is not telling people is that it ran a rather extreme herd reduction program from 1998-2003 that removed between 1000-1500 cows and calves from that herd to address landowner complaints about “too many elk” in the area. That’s a lot of dead elk, all killed by hunters.
If folks think that taking that many cows and calves out of a herd hasn’t anything to do with reduced cow-calf ratios, then those folks are biologically illiterate.
Layton, Could you please submit the documentation or sources that would indicate that wolves are responsible for a 2/3 reduction in the elk population in Yellowstone.
Jim, No where in the world are naturally occurring ungulates at a 1:1 bull/cow ratio. It just doesn’t happen. If other states are in fact doing anything like that that would be very curious as when seed populations of elk were shipped to other states in the 20’s and 30’s there were always substantially more cows than bulls in those instances and in fact I believe that even birth populations are higher in cows than bulls.
There doesn’t have to be a 1:1 ratio of bulls to cows by any means. However, in the presence of predators, especially bears, there has to be enough bulls, especially experienced bulls to efficiently impregnate the cows so that there is a flood of calves the late spring. This “swamps” the predators, so to speak. After about 2 weeks the elk calves can escape the bears.
If there is a predator depression of elk in the controversial upper Clearwater River area in Idaho, it is the indirect result of a sub-optimal ratio of experienced bulls to elk cows, Much of this blame is the result of pressure to overharvest the large bull elk.
I would think the anti wolf folks would be more concerned about the spread of CWD and brucillosis in elk and deer populations and appreciate the vital role wolves play in keeping the herds healthy.
Re: Sara O’s comment, that would be the logical response–to be more worried about disease in big game populations–but with the Stockgrowers and its front group, the so-called Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, beating the anti-predator drum so loudly, hunters, who have hardly ever taken the time to understand the basics of wildlife management, much less the intricacies of wildlife ecology, simply have stayed with the old prejudices.
At one time, the Wyoming G&F Department spent more time explaining the basics to hunters, and actually tryng to blunt the old prejudices, but now that the Department has fallen fully under the thumb of the Stockgrowers, these days G&F is simply going along with the old prejudices and making claims about predators and their alleged negative impacts on big game animals in public that the biologists know have no basis in fact–such as the false claim about cow-calf ratios in the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd that I mentioned in an above post.
I have found that the biologists put the facts in the annual Herd Unit Reports, which no one reads because they’re so hard for the public to gain access to, and then you have to know something about wildlife biology and management to read them. However, I always compare the facts as stated in the HURs to public statements by the G&F bureaucrats. There is always a disconnect between the two.
If I could find the time and the resources to do so, I would write articles on the HURs that put in plain English what the facts really are.
It can also be argued that now with the presence of two major predators, the wolf and the bear, the elk are more wary and observant during the breeding season so that this ‘swamp’ that Ralph speaks of may not be as efficient or does not happen as it has in the past without the presence of wolves. Therefore, there may be a significant number of elk that do not get pregnant and so the cow to calf ratio is less than it has been without the presence of wolves. Even those that do get pregnant may abort their calves in the winter or spring due to undue stress from being chased around all winter by wolves and losing much needed fat reserves throughout the winter. Over time this can be detrimental to the elk population.
Another argument is that with two major predators, in the spring many more calves will be killed than adults. As a result, the age of adult cows become older and there are fewer young cows available to mate and so the sustained elk population becomes oler and fewer. As a result, years from now the main diet of wolves and bears may not be elk. Maybe then the wolves will feed on the bears and the bears will feed on the wolves.
I’m sure if the elk population declines noticeably that the wolf advocates will blame the rancher for this because of the abuse of our public lands. Just another scapegoat.
The wolf is a beautiful animal, however, I do not see wolf restoration as being healthy for wildlife as some of you proclaim. And it certainly is not economical for the hunter advocates. There is no win-win situation with the restoration of the wolf by any means!
If Idaho Fish and Game’s study used to justify killing wolves in the upper Clearwater showed anything (and it didn’t show much due to its short time frame and small small size), it was that black bears killed young elk calves and wolves did not.
There was a better study on the Northern Range of Yellowstone. These one was reported widely. IT showed that the primary predator of young elk calves was bears (both black and grizzly).
What a very sad day it will be if Wyoming ever gets it’s way to slaugher all, or most of their wolves. Not only for people who really care about animals, but the envirionment also and how mother nature, when left alone, controls the relationship between predators and pray. Nature is never left alone anymore, and our environment is out of whack because of all the human interference. I remember a time when people wondered why the wolves had not arrived in Wyoming yet, it took them some time. Then one of the first wolves to travel there and stay was feisty #24 from the Soda Butte pack. She started the Teton pack, later along came escape-artist wolf #29 for the Gros Ventre pack. It appears it was all for nothing, actually it would have been better if they had never came since humans hope to shoot all their progeny. Albert Schweitzer once said “until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man himself will not find peace”.
So what during elk calving time what do the wolves eat? Other wolves? Wolves will go after the easiest prey and that would have to be fawn elk calves, fawn deer, moose, baby bison, etc. You get the picture. More than likely the easiest prey are the baby animals born in the spring. More than likely that study is highly flawed.
Why would they go after adults instead of babies. After all, you state time and again that wolves generally kill baby beef cattle and not adults so why would they treat wildlife any different?
At elk calving time, wolves mostly eat adult elk if elk are the primary species around. If it’s deer, then they eat deer.
Wolves don’t just eat the easiest prey. Size matters. Elk calves aren’t big enough to bother spending time. Bison calves are too difficult because they are protected by the herd.
Elk are about the optimum size for a wolf pack in terms of effort versus reward. Statistically they take the weakest adult elk (and elk calves that are have a couple seasons growth).
Your assessment on what wolves eat during elk calving does not make much sense particularly when in other threads you state that wolves by far and large kill land eat young calves (cattle) and not the adults. Prey is prey and younger prey is generally easier to kill than larger prey.
You say “It is important to note that most cattle killed are calves, and most of the calves are young calves.” Any rational scientist knows that wolves do not distinguish the difference between young calves whether they are beef or elk. So again; I rest my case that this study is highly flawed or should I say just another scapegoat to get the public to believe that bears by far kill more elk calves than wolves. Not true!
Cow calves are not elk calves. You analogy is flawed.
Prey is not what is easiest to kill. If it was, wolves really would live on rodents. Size matters. Access to the prey matters. What a predator is used to killing matters as well.
It is not known why wolves eat cattle at all, but part of it probably has to do with their lack of response as prey (they don’t act like prey, except the calves, which are skittish. Cow calves tend to run. That sometimes prompts an attack). Everyone who has driven through a herd of cattle on the range, knows that the ones that run are the calves. Nevertheless, it is commonly observed that wolves pass through herds to cattle, including calves, to chase elk.
Bison calves are not elk calves either. Few bison are killed and eaten by wolves, but those that are killed are usually injured adults and bison calves.
Every species’ young is different to a predator. And every species of predator views the young of other species differently. Wolves don’t eat antelope fawns, but coyotes key on them.
PREY is what wolves think are prey, not what you reason it should be.
You don’t offer any evidence, nor do dismiss any findings by saying “any rational scientist.” You can’t say a study is flawed if you haven’t read it.
No one is trying to scapegoat bears here. I am as fond of bears, as I am wolves, as I am elk, as am beaver, as I am hawks, as I am trout, etc.
Oh, I have read many studies about the wolves, elk, and the statistics behind them. I am a scientist also and I know that any study, either right or wrong, can be supported by statistics.
I also find that your assessment in this original thread which reads “There are some losses to wolves that are never found and not reported. The percentage is not known. The graph below assume 9 are lost for every one found–very doubtful. The highest figure I have heard biologists mention is 5 to 1. I doubt it is even 2 to 1.”
Ralph, the 5 to 1 ratio is documented in a study and is found in the 2nd paragraph of the following link the defenders of wildlife whom you support.
You say that you doubt the ratio is even 2 to 1. Well read the research on this link and you will find out that the ratio is actually 5 to 1 and maybe even 6, 7, or even 8 to 1. Obviously, you have read the research but are disrediting the research because it is not favorable for the wolves when it comes to the number of cattle that wolves actually kill and are not found.
Once again another scapegoat to the wolf advocates agenda. Oh, cattle do not act like prey so wolves more than likely prey on them. Another scapegoat! Must I go on.
You may have to type Idaho Wolf Depredation Compensaton Plan in your search engine to get to the site I mentioned in comment 38
I might be incorrect on the ratio, I don’t knw, but I am willing to admit it. But if 600 cattle were lost in Wyoming instead of sixty or so, it is still but 1% of the total cattle that died in Wyoming and were, therefore, losses to their owners.
It also means that dogs are much greater problem than wolves. Read the article I just posted about the Colorado blizzard for a bit of perspective.
I am a bit of a late comer to this site … To put a little perspective on the conversation for me- I would like to know how many acres are in the greater yellowstone wolf recovery area? Also for the current 23 or so packs in the area how many elk are estimated taken in a year per pack. How many elk are in the area? I understand calf mortality- most young in nature have a high mortatily rate- 50% or greater as they fall easy prey to predators raising thier own young or gaining strength after hibernation- it is a basic cycle in nature that will never be altered. I have read that some ranchers breed thier cows later so the calves are not born so early – when they are born predators have other natural food options and predation on domestic calves is lower.
Once again the graph is somewhat misleading. It shows that 1% of the cattle deaths are due to wolves. What we are forgetting is that 8% are due to other predators and 91% are due to non-predators.
The other predators include those deaths that were due to bears, cougars and those that were due to predators but impossible to tell which type of predator did the kill meaning that wolves could are also included in this category.
The Non-predator related deaths are due to diseases, starvation, sickness, etc. This category also includes cattle that are missing for which we do not know the cause of death. Why they place cattle that were missing in to this category I do not know. Since the animals are missing iit is reasonable to say that wolves and other predators may have contributed to them not being accounted for (missing). Since this category is the largest piece of the pie, I think you can reason that a substantial part, maybe as high as 10% of the 91%, is attributed to predators but the animal was never found. So yes, I believe the ratio of losses to cattle that are missing may be 5 to 1 and as high as 9 to 1.
Rob, the graph above assumes that it IS 9 to 1. Yet even WITH that assumption loses to wolves are only 1%. If the actual number is lower than 9 to 1, like 5 to 1 for example, then that means that loses to wolves are even less than 1%. I think that the point is that ranchers seem to put an inordinate amount of attention on wolves when they are responsible, even using the very liberal numbers above, for a very small percentage of loses.
Wyoming is just asking for control of the packs. If the packs aren’t controlled they will wipe themselves out. As far as energy developments go, the land is restored by the minning companies after the area has been mined. They are restored to their previous state if not better.
Where do you live, Danielle? I have never heard that, and I have never seen that. Do you have the slightest idea how hard it is to get native high desert vegetation to grow on site where all the vegetation and the top soil has been scraped off?
You can get some stuff to grow afterwards if you irrigate it and fertilize it, but they aren’t going to do that.
Even if they were, these wells will be in place for many years, and the migration of the antelope, elk, and deer will have been long disrupted before they are restored.
You are right. Wyoming’s political establishment just wants to kill the wolf packs, and they should not even bother to justify it with livestock losses or wildlife losses. If they do as they have done, I will continue to call them “damn liars.” Ralph Maughan
Rob, no. The 1% figure is based on 600 wolves in 2004 and 700 in 2005. I wondered what absolute numbers in the pie chart were based on, so I went to to URL below the pie chart. For the sake of ease, that is
If you click, and go there, you find the wolf kill estimate (that includes lost cattle, never found) is as follows: the year 2004, 100 cattle, 500 calves; the year 2005, 200 cattle, 500 calves.
The nice round figures indicate they are estimates. If you go to the USFWS web site for confirmed losses, you find find 75 cattle in 2004 and in 2005 54 cattle.
You also find the following estimated losses for other predators at the USDA web site: that is, in addition to 700 presumed killed by wolves: 200 grizzly bears, 100 black bears, 2200 coyotes, 100 dogs. I made a mistake there in my original posting, and transposed the figure for dogs and coyotes. 500 lost to mountain lions and 200 to other predators (those mostly bobcats and eagles according to the table).
You will also see that the pie chart I posted (I took it from Defenders web site) is a simplification used to show the relatively small amount lost due to wolves (1%). The USDA site has another pie chart that shows the losses by each non-predatory category.
Now to go back to the point of post because that’s what I care about. I quoted Wyoming governor as saying “In terms of reducing the packs, that’s always been a state objective from the outset,” . . . . “Frankly, it’s essential for both wildlife and domestic livestock that we do that.”
I wondered, and still wonder, why the 1% of the total losses that were due to wolves make it essential that the number of wolf packs be reduced? Why is not 16% due to digestive problems intolerable to him? Why does not the 8700 cattle lost to respiratory problems (21%) leave him lying on the floor twitching, jerking, and mumbling incoherently?
There may indeed be a mining company somewhere that cares enough to fully restore a mined-over landscape to its pre-mining state. But that company would very much be the exception. Look what’s been going on in West Virginia with mountaintop removal mining. Entire Appalachian mountains are razed by gigantic earth-devouring dragline shovels and explosives experts, the peaks blown away in order to access the bituminous coal layers beneath. The hardwood forests that once sustained forest-interior bird species like the scartlet tanager are, in the end, replaced by monocultures of grasslands. And the mining rubble is used as “valley fill,” shoved on top of mountain streams beneath the peaks.
This is the reality of mining in the United States.
To view photographs of mountaintop removal operations, go here: http://www.ohvec.org/galleries/mountaintop_removal/010/index.html
Ralph, as you state “I wondered, and still wonder, why the 1% of the total losses that were due to wolves make it essential that the number of wolf packs be reduced? Why is not 16% due to digestive problems intolerable to him? Why does not the 8700 cattle lost to respiratory problems (21%) leave him lying on the floor twitching, jerking, and mumbling incoherently?”
I can answer that for you simply. Any loss is a financial burden, even due to health problems. These are intolerable and often out of his control. However, the rancher is accepting more risk with the introduction of the wolves.
Ranchers have a difficult time making ends meet. Their business is the riskiest of all professions, economically. They have mother nature against them which in a bad year can put them out of business, market prices fluctuations, increasing fuel costs, major property taxes, labor, etc. and many other items that I have not listed. The wolves are just another added risk and burden placed upon them. They only get reimbursed for confirmed kills. Now let me ask you. If you were in their shoes would you accept all the risk they currently have to deal with and be happy about having to accept more risk forced upon them for which their livelihood depends? What you are saying is that the wolf is more important then peoples llives. That, I disagree with. That is almost like saying well let your employer decrease your salary by several thousand dollars. Is that OK with you?
It is a small additional burden, but not much, and it is partly controllable. Losses to all kinds of predators can be reduced by changes in livestock management. These changes are often cost-effective.
Did you read the posting today about eminent domain in Wyoming? Agriculture has just about had it with the energy industry. Wholesale diminishment of the value of agricultural property is far more than a burden. It does far more than making it difficult to make ends meet.
And that, precisely, is why they are talking about wolves — it’s to try to prevent ranchers, and everybody else, from talking about the “elephant in the room” — the ransacking of the land and waters of Wyoming by the energy industry.
Here is the link back to the eminent domain article
Here’s an idea Rob,
1. Have the ranchers pay “going rate” instead of (public) government subsidized grazing fees for grazing livestock on public (my) land. or
2. Run livestock on there own private property and keep them off public land.
Either of the two would make myself and probably many others more sympathetic to the ~1% losses they suffer from wolf predation.
The challenges that you list that are faced by ranchers are the same ones faced by all business . It is far from the most risky of all professions.
You guys still do not get it. I am all in favor for the livestock owner as I have worked many years for them and have been one myself who has had cattle on public land. I have seen their livestock killed by wolves and I can tell you that for some it may be 1% but for others it may be 10%. So your 1% is very much underestimated. Obviously, you would rather have wolves and drive people out of business. And Jeff. Not all businesses have as many economical risks as the rancher or landowner. Give your employer back 1 – 10% every year of your paycheck then if you have no sympathy. It is a large burden if you own livestock yourself Ralph but you will never know.
Okay, you are completely sympathetic to the livestock industry. Fine. But what about one or the other of my ideas about where to graze and/or what to pay. Again, all business face the same challenges that you listed.
I get your point too, Rob, although I side with Jeff.
I don’t know where you live, but I have kept returning to the matter of Wyoming because my original post was on Wyoming, and what I think is the real issue there — billions of dollars of natural gas and wholesale destruction of the state’s open space, including ranch land.
If you want to talk about Idaho or ranchers generically maybe another post will facilitate that better.
p.s. I live in Idaho, but I have spent much of my outdoor career in Wyoming, so I really care what happens there.
I am only trying to emphasize that according to this thread and one of the studies that was done that anywhere from 5 to 9 cattle are killed by wolves and end up missing for every documented kill. With a ratio like that the dollars are staggering.
For example, several ranchers I know have lost calves to wolves this year. One rancher lost three while the other lost six. Yes, Defenders compensated them.
However, according to the study that means that possible 15 (using the low end ratio of 5 to 1) calves were lost to wolves and ended up missing and in the other case 30 calves were killed and ended up missing. With numbers like that and where fall prices averaged $700 per animal this fall that puts the loss at $10,500 in the one instance (3 documented losses) and at $21,000 (6 documented losses) in the other. When you talk 1% of all losses to wolves for documented cases that is not much but when you talk about the ratio of losses to wolves that end up missing the losses are overwhelming.
Now back to Wyoming. Ralph, you are correct in this assessment. Develpment of natural gas is definitely an economic loss to all, even the ranchers, all at making those in the gas business wealthy.
Rob said, “Obviously, you would rather have wolves and drive people out of business.”
This line is getting about as tired as the “Canadian wolf” line. When will people realize that is not the intention and that most reasonable wolf advocates (I believe most that post here), even those who do not favor public lands ranching, agree that woles and rural business are not mutually exclusive and that there is not a hidden agenda to drive people off of public land?
I live in Wyoming, and believe me I know how hard it is to get vegetation to grow, but we have the mining companies at our school and they’ve shown us the pictures of the restored land. I guess they could be making it up but what is the benefit of that.
I read an article in the Caper Tribune that said that the problem was more the loss of weight their cattle were suffering from the wolves being around then the actual killing of livestock.
the address was way to long to paste, but I’m sure if anyone is interested they could look at it there.
Danielle and everybody. There is a way to make a long address — URL — short. Go to http://tinyurl.com/. There you can turn any URL, no matter how long, into a short URL. Ralph Maughan
After reading all this, It seems to me that EVERYONE is missing one simple and extremely important fact. The wolves (and other animals) were here long before man was. It is Man who has taken over the wolves home land. It was Man who in the early 1930’s who COMPLETELY ERADICATED the wolf from the United States. It is Man, in all his greed and thrist for more and more and more, who has imposed his will upon an animal that is doing nothing more than wanting to live and eat in his home. The human race is truly a plague upon the earth, destroying all that gets in its way, using up resources without finding viable ways to replenish them as nature does.
You wouldn’t put your hand into a hornet’s nest for fear of being stung. You wouldn’t put your foot into a yellow jackets nest for the same reason. You wouldn’t stand in the middle of the freeway for fear of being hit. Man has entered the domain, the homeland of the wolf, and you complain about the losses.
It’s not the Wolf who is the problem. It is Man in all his ignorance which is the problem.
“The wolf, now an endangered species, has become a symbol of all that is right and in harmony with nature. It is modern man who in his ignorance has been wrong and out of step with nature. Not the wolf.” Michael W. Fox, The Wolf (1989)
I love animals and there must be a balance somewhere, it will just take a long time to find it. People are stewards of the land, since wolves haven’t been around for 70 plus years and now have only been around for a decade, we haven’t figured out how to live side by side. I’m sure a balance will be discovered. It will just take patience and understanding and less pointing of the finger
This issue has been blown so far out of proportion that it would laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. The people who oppose wolves don’t want 23 packs, nor 10 packs, nor even 3; they want wolves completely eradicated (go on, try to convince me otherwise). What’s “in play” is no less than the wolf’s right to exist in the state of Wyoming.
Ranchers are allowed to turn cattle loose on lands that belong to ALL citizens of the U.S. for a mere fraction (about 1/10) the market rate. ALL U.S. citizens also pay to subsidize the “management” of these lands by paying for the FS, FWS, PS, BLM, etc. Moreover, we subsidize ranching through Wildlife Services which kill animals that kill livestock.
Do I feel sorry for ranchers that go out of business? Sure! Same way I feel sorry for all of the people in my home state of Michigan who have lost jobs to cheaper labor over seas; but nobody came to their rescue. When the automakers left Flint no politicians rushed in to preserve their way of life. I also don’t remember anyone speaking up for my relatives who couldn’t afford to raise livestock in Michigan because they actually had to pay fair market price for cattle feed. So I ask, why should Western ranchers be treated any differently?
Personally, I have no problem with people who choose to raise cattle. I can even live with cattle grazing on public land. But if you’re going to turn domesticated livestock loose on public land and, in effect, use EVERYONE’S RESOURCES FOR YOUR PERSONAL GAIN, then you should do so at your own risk. Accept that wolves and other predators are part of the cost of doing business and do like everyone else and modify your business practices to prevent losses; don’t go crying to the government to eliminate all of the risk.
I get a huge kick out of the fact that ranchers oppose wolves because the wolf represents “big government.” Truth is, without all of the federal subsides (i.e. “big government”), most of these people would be out of business!
Let’s breath some sanity back into this debate. How many wolves are there in Wyoming? Roughly 350. How big is Wyoming? Roughly 98,000 sq. miles. That’s one wolf per 280 square miles. And that’s too many? If it were ANY other species (let me reiterate) ANY OTHER SPECIES, you couldn’t find a biologist that would recommend reducing their population.