Wolves said to disrupt winter elk feeding in Wyoming

“Wolves are causing a variety of problems on state elk feedgrounds, from spooking the elk and causing them to move from one area to another to killing work animals,” the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said. From Billings Gazette News Services. Read Article.

The entire premise of the article is wrong. There should not be elk winter feedlots! If the wolves disrupt the operations and chase the elk, so much the better, especially in the Gros Ventre River drainage (disruption may be a problem further south near Pinedale, Wyoming where the elk feedlots are near ranches and roads).

The article mentions that the wolves killed a feeder’s dog as though that was unexpected and terrible. Several weeks ago Ed Bangs sent out a much longer description of the event.

Bangs wrote: On the 23rd [Feb], Jimenez [WY FWS] examined and confirmed that a 8-month old male Catahula hound was killed by wolves on one of the Gros Ventre elk winter feedgrounds near Jackson, WY. The feeders stay at the feedground and had 5 pet hounds sleeping outside the cabin. The dog was killed about 200yds from the cabin. The other dogs are fine. The feeders had been previously advised that a wolf pack was visiting that feedground and their dogs might be at risk. No control is planned.

Did the feeders care about the dogs ? They were left sleeping outside next to an elk feedlot frequented by wolves, coyotes, and no doubt cougar as well. This is way back in the mountains, east of Jackson Hole, untamed country.

Wyoming Game and Fish is just plain irresponsible, and these “problems” are to be expected.

The wolves seem to be the only ones in Wyoming actually doing something to reduce the prevalence of brucellosis (by scaring elk off of the diseased feedlots).



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  1. Moose Avatar

    “In a blog and article published recently in the Idaho State Journal, the Journal of Science (a non-hunting organization) states that the elk population is dwindling due to the pressure wolves are putting on elk herds during mating season not allowing cows to produce offspring.”

    I googled “Journal of Science” – could find no such periodical or ‘non-hunting organization’ of that name. Does anyone know of this David Langston, Outdoor Writer? Couldn’t find any outdoor writer of that name. Anyone know any more?

    By the tone of the entry I would suspect a troll, but I’m open to being ‘educated’.

  2. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    Ah, the non-native Canadian discussion has finally spread over from the Billings Gazette! Even worse, here we talk about non-native to Idaho. At least in the famous comment section there, they speak about non-native to the USA! So everything and everybody non-native to Idaho is the natural enemy of the true Idahoan? Great, really!

  3. Alan Sachanowski Avatar
    Alan Sachanowski

    In the first place Dave, this article is discussing elk on Wyoming feedlots. This herd is stable. The “Yellowstone herd” that you are so concerned with (reduced from 19,000 to 7,000) is not even that. It is the Northern Range herd, one of several “Yellowstone herds”.
    Historically the numbers in this herd have been all over the place. A few examples:
    1929: 8257…..1935: 10,281….1958: 4884…..1960: 8150…..
    1968: 4305 (Yellowstone stops artificially reducing numbers).
    1975: 12,014 (Montana begins late winter hunt to reduce numbers over fears that elk are overgrazing range).
    1976: 8980 (no wolves)……1987: 18,913….1990: 9456 (no wolves)…..1993: 19,045 (highest number ever counted, and also demonstrates how quickly a herd can recover under ideal conditions)…..1994: 16,791 (again no wolves)…..1995: wolves reintroduced. Complete numbers are here: http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/yellowstone_elk_counts.htm
    No one says that wolves don’t have an affect on elk populations. That is their function in the ecosystem. But as these statistics show, herd numbers will fluctuate widely with or without them.
    One interesting study would be a correlation between wet and dry years and elk counts. I’m sure it’s out there someplace.

  4. kt Avatar

    Peter K:

    I’m beginning to think that this fearsome giant long-fanged flesh eating Canadian carnivore, scourge of the north, is likely the stuff of, not Urban Legend, but let’s just say tales spun by the Hunting Industry and ATV industry to prey on those weak enough of mind to believe it so they can sell the poor suckers more armament and gizmos to protect themselves while they are out zooming around (oops, I meant hunting) and plinking beer cans and road signs in the “wild”.

    Maybe we should have a contest to try to name this creature – undoubtedly it will qualify as a separate Distinct Population Segment (DPS), ivaling that of the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS for sure!

    Maybe if we come up with a name, they can get their handmaidens in Fish and Wildlife Service to redo these maps:

    http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/ProposedDPS_NRM_January2007.pdf .

    Sure wouldn’t want nuthin’ Can Ay De-an intruding on sacrosanct Idaho soil, would we?

    It is sort of like the U. N. Black Helicopter gun nut paranoiac legend of the 1990s, in Helen Chenoweth’s Glory Days …

  5. elkhunter Avatar

    You say some wierd things. You obviously dont like hunters, but name calling should of stopped in junior high. And not all hunters go around shooting beer cans and road signs. Prime example, not all pro-wolf people act like children, like you, so I dont judge all pro-wolf off my experience with with you. You act as if hunters are stupid, as if I can be swayed by whatever hunting manufactures tell me, give me a break KT I have been around long enough. Stop with the degrading and name calling and maybe, just maybe people will take you more serious.



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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Ralph Maughan