Interpack wolf conflict accounts for 44% of wolf deaths on Park northern range.

The northern range Yellowstone wolf packs are increasing fighting and killing each other according to this article in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.  If you compare the 2005 and 2006 statistics on Park wolves, you may be astonished to see that the natural death and out-migration of adult wolves from the Park has been close to 50% a year.

The more scattered packs of the Park’s interior do not suffer from this rivalry.

As Ed Bang’s says in a quote and I predicted 2 years ago, the Park wolf population has peaked and will likely never again reach the high number counted at the end of 2004.

Read  YNP wolves in mortal combat. By Cory Hatch



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  1. John Avatar

    They naturally follow the prey base, With the high number of wolves in 2004 , increased competition and decreasing prey base they disperse to find new food sources. Seems like a natural cycle.

  2. be Avatar

    this seems to me to be a pretty good indication that the best way to manage wolf numbers is to let them do it themselves…

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This will happen everywhere given another year or two. Wolf population growth paused in both Wyoming (outside the Park) and Montana a year or two ago (an indication the growth curve has topped off).

    Politicians and the media just assume the wolf population will grow and grow (unlike any other organism).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the long run average population in Idaho is about 500 wolves. If the wolves are hunted sustainably, I can’t see why the average population won’t be the same.

    Of course, they aren’t planning a sustainable “harvest.”

    I do think hunting will make wolves less visible to the public and it may increase, or reduce wolves, killing livestock. That depends how the hunt is conducted.

    For example, if there is a wolf population in a cattle area that kills very few livestock, they are stupid to kill the wolf pack because odds are the wolf pack that moves in and replaces it will kill more livestock than the original pack.

  4. seamonster02 Avatar

    Hi there! I was reading blogs and came across this one. I will be checking back often to find out how the fight to protect the wildlife is going. I tried to read the “After killing a record number…” post but it won’t come up for me. All the others do fine. Keep up the good work!

  5. elkhunter Avatar

    The only thing about the wolf populations is as they grow, dont they normally just move off to other less populated areas with less wolves? If the population in ID keeps growing, whats to stop them from coming into UT, and CO. If you confined them to an area I believe they would do that, control populations, but free-raging would they not just move to less populated wolf areas?

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yes, they usually move off to other areas. That’s one reason they don’t kill all their prey. The wolves seem to generally self regulate their population density (unlike people).

    Having mostly grown up in Utah (Cache Valley), I want wolves back in Utah (and Colorado too). That might be one positive for a wolf hunt. If you kill half a wolf pack, it is likely most will leave the area.

    Wolf control actions near Challis in 1999 sent the remainders of the pack clear across the state to McCall (within just one week) and one wolf to Baker, Oregon.

  7. John Avatar

    So hunting wolves might actually precipatate there dispersal and subsequent population of new high prey base areas. I essence more effectively then going through all the trouble of EIS and red tape for introdution approval. Colorado has a huge Elk population and Utah has very healthy Elk Herds as well. I think few Give as much credit to wolves for there ability too adapt and capitalize on a good situation. I wonder how all this will play out over the next say ten years.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Some endangered species have to be nursed along. Unfortunately, that is a sign the Earth has been changed so much that they can hardly exist anymore.

    Wolves in the Northern Rockies, took off with a boom, once reintroduced. That indicates that the current ecosystems were plenty ready for them and that the wolves have an important existing, but vacant, niche to fill.

    Yes, there is plenty of prey for them in Utah and Colorado. The only problem is human hostility and minor conflicts with cattle.

  9. elkhunter Avatar

    I dont think alot of people here in UT want wolves all that bad. I kninda like our elk herds as they are. If we had a problem with too many elk, or over-population then i would understand bringing them in, just like yellowstone. It as taken UT over 15 years to get the elk herds to where they are now, plus i feel you would have alot more problems with wolves in utah, because almost all the wintering grounds for the elk and deer are very close to human populations. I-15 is the real problem for the wintering range because it cuts off alot of the natural wintering range that the deer and elk used to use. All the elk and deer in the UT, Salt Lake counties and also the majority of the elk herds in southern ut all winter in areas close to human populations. I think people would freak out if they watched a pack of wolves drag a elk down in their backyard. We have cougars that are doin that now. 2 years ago my neighbor lost his 2 dogs to a cougar. and we used to always see their tracks in the snow around my neighborhood. Plus I see all the drama and city meetings that ID has because of their wolves and it seems like alot of drama. And Ralph is right there is alot of hostility about wolves coming to UT. I think USU did a study where they think that UT could only support 200 wolves. I am afraid that if they get here, then the pro-wolf people will sue if we try to control populations, then they will continue to grow like in ID, if it was set in stone that we will only have 200 wolves and will manage to make sure that is all we have, then i could be fine with that. i just dont want hundreds and hundreds of wolves.

    There actually was a survey of Utah residents done by a professor or graduate student at Utah State University and presented at our (we are a co-sponsor) North American wolf conference. I recall that public opinion was divided in Utah without either side having much, if any, majority.

    Utah would never support the number of wolves like Idaho. It is too dry, and there are too many livestock. A number of wolves have already come to Utah because one was trapped and returned, another found dead in a coyote trap. Others killed some sheep near the Hardware Ranch up Blacksmith Fork Canyon. No doubt others are or were undetected. Ralph

  10. John Avatar

    Well good Luck, it’s like pandoras box once you have them they will populate to the level the prey base will allow. Then when you want to manage them a very loud minority will Howl about it. I know that Idaho is overdue for State management, but who knows when that will come. I feel for the record that Idaho does indeed have a niche for the wolves and I actually don’t mind they are here just that the levels are not compatable with the wishes of Idaho Citizens. I actually think that the hunters of Idaho will be much more excepting of their presence once they have oppurtunity in managing them. I think they will adopt there presence here and be much more interested in them in general and not necesarily in a sinister way.

    The wolf hunt could resolve hurt feelings, frustration, and lead to a reduction in tension, or just the opposite. It is all in the details of how many tags are sold, method of take, etc. If it is really a big wolf reduction plan, things will get much worse. If it really is an effort to manage wolves much like elk, bears, turkey, and deer, I foresee a resolution. I am opposing the Idaho hunt myself because I believe the governor and the Fish and Game Commission do not want to manage wolves like other game. They want a huge reduction. I hope I am wrong.

  11. elkhunter Avatar

    Thats exactly what I am afraid of. That exact scenario you just said.

  12. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    “and I actually don’t mind they are here just that the levels are not compatable with the wishes of Idaho Citizens. ”

    Thanks for speaking on behalf of all the citizens of Idaho, like you actually know what they think.

    On the basis of his past posts (see above), Elkhunter lives in Utah.

  13. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    I’m on Spring Break too, in Florida. I love the photos you posted of your break. AWESOME! We love to camp where there are no lights or signs of civilization too. Seems the wilderness is shrinking.
    Had to let you know there was a PANTHER sighting at the PAWS Dog Park at JAX Beach, it was about a 70 pound-er.
    Looks like it has an appetite for domestic dogs. Duh! Go figure…
    Sorry if this is off topic, but I heard through an email that the MOLLIES were seen in DRUID territory this week up in stone country. Any word on the survival of 193M???? I’m really concerned about the spreading of mange. And wondered if you had any news from Doug since he gets to fly and the weather is so nice so early in the year.

    I haven’t be able to contact Doug Smith, although I haven’t tried very hard. They are still working hard on their winter study.

    I am working on a page of all the “obscure” mountains ranges of Southern Idaho, NW Utah, and NE Nevada. I hope people will find the photos and descriptions interesting, if not necessarily beautiful. Ralph

  14. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I find it curious that no state has actually put the question on a statewide ballot? Could it be that the various high paid lobby’s, not to mention the politicians in there pockets, are afraid what the out come would be. In fact state governments to my knowledge have not even initiated any comprehensive surveys on the issue of reintroduction and this after twelve years. Why not.

    I think they don’t want it known there is substantial support against the states’ official position, probably even a majority against it. The anti-wolf sentiment is almost completely stirred up by the “Old West” lobbying groups who are using the issue as a way of holding their political power. The wolf issue is little about biology and everything about political power and cultural hegemony by the oldest interest groups in these states.

    Ralph Maughan

  15. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    And probably some relatively newer ones as well. Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife springs to mind.

  16. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    BSU has been asking about wolf reintroduction in their public policy survey off and on since 1994, I believe, and even though the support is not as striking as it once was, there is still plurality support for wolves in Idaho, based on this survey…

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I think livestock is behind SFW-ID, at least in part, and perhaps other extractive groups too.

    That’s why I emphasized that their E.D. was Nate Helm, a former major staffer for Senator Larry Craig, who is a hard line advocate of traditional extractive interests in Idaho.

  18. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Ya, I remember. I bring that group up for a couple of reasons. First a couple of newer posters have that flavor about them, and second, at least in Idaho there is strong resistance against their agenda even among hunter groups if I am interpreting other blogs I visit correctly.

  19. kt Avatar

    Jeff E: The SFW maneuverings bear careful observation, because they appear to be bonded with Cameron Wheeler, others of the current Fish and Game Commission and the state legislature. i think we can expect endless efforts at incremental actions to try to privatize wildlife, to “farm” public lands for big game, and KILL predators.

    Like the “Commissioner’s” Wolf Pelt Tags that the current IDFG Commission authorized, and you get an insight into what is going on. These Tags are to be handed over to “‘Sportsmen” groups for auctioning at fundraising, and the group now gets to keep a small percentage of the Wolf Tag Sale. See Comm’r McDermott’s Bio here: .

  20. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Exactly. From what I have been reading, there are a couple of states to the south of us whose fish and game agencies won’t so much as break wind without SFW signing off on it.


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