Worse news still for the protection of wolves in the Northern Rockies

On July 6, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will publish a new proposed rule 10j in the Federal Register, that will make it every easy for state agencies and even private persons to kill wolves even without them being delisted. They won’t have to scientifically prove that wolves are depleting elk herds, essentially they can just everybody in the bar or cafe. They may also be able to shot wolves for simply standing near livestock and not have to provide any evidence that even that was so.

We seem to be in the process of seeing the executive branch of the government reverting to the days when wolves were to be eliminated, made extinct, not recovered. All this has been done by the Bush Administration, by-passing Congress, just like it has done on everything else.

I’ve got to wonder how an Administration with a 25% approval rating gets away with these things?

Here is a news release we issued today. There will be a lot more to follow.

For Immediate Release

July 5, 2007

Contact: Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife (208) 424-9385
Amaroq Weiss, Defenders of Wildlife (541) 552-9653
Ralph Maughan, Wolf Recovery Foundation (208) 417-0906
Chris Anderson, Wolf Education and Research Center (503) 913-2816
Steve Thomas, Sierra Club (307) 672-0425

New Rule Would Lower the Bar on Killing Endangered Wolves in Northern Rockies

BOISE, ID. – A new draft rule from the Bush Administration would once again diminish protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and threaten endangered wolf recovery efforts in the northern Rockies. The new rule would significantly broaden the circumstances under which wolves can be killed allowing the states to kill more than half of the approximately 1,300 wolves in the region today prior to their delisting. The new rule is ardently opposed by wildlife conservation groups in the region.

“The new rule allows state agencies to kill wolves for essentially political reasons,” said Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “This is clearly a back door attempt by the Bush administration to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves by sidestepping the public delisting process.”

If the rule is finalized, wildlife managers would be permitted to kill wolves that they consider to be a “major cause” of elk and deer declines. Additionally, the new rule would allow private citizens to kill any wolf that they claim is “chasing, molesting or harassing” livestock, pack animals or even dogs used to hunt carnivores – terms that are poorly defined by the draft rule. This action would essentially remove all federal protections for wolves, despite the fact that they are still listed as an endangered species.

“We support a healthy balance between our endangered wolves and our ranching and hunting communities,” said Chris Anderson, executive director of the Idaho-based Wolf Education and Research Center. “However, ranchers are already allowed to shoot wolves that attack their livestock. And hunting concerns are unfounded; all three states have robust elk populations that even exceed state management objectives.”

In Idaho, elk populations are 20 percent above management objectives, and, according to Idaho Fish and Game’s 2006 progress report, “Overall elk populations statewide are near all time highs.” In Wyoming, the state wildlife agency declared that “elk are probably at an all-time high historically.” There are nearly 100,000 elk in Wyoming, which puts the population approximately 17 percent above Game and Fish Commission objectives. In fact, according to Wyoming Fish and Game, the state is increasing the number of hunting tags it will issue this year due to the overabundance of elk. Additionally, two-thirds of the hunting districts in southwestern Montana, all of which support wolves, are currently offering the most liberal hunting opportunities seen in 30 years due to higher elk populations, according to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2005 Interagency Annual Report. Montana wildlife officials just announced that they’re seeking additional ideas from the public to reduce elk herd numbers in the region.

“The new rule would allow the killing of wolves as a first, rather than last, resort, and the government has no basis to do so,” said Steve Thomas, regional representative from the Sierra Club, based in Sheridan, Wyoming. “Clearly, the wolves are not affecting hunting opportunities. This rule would promote the needless killing of wolves that eat elk and deer; the same animals that wolves have been preying upon for thousands of years.”

This latest rule further erodes protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies. When wolves were first reintroduced in 1995, the original rules required wildlife agencies and livestock owners to first exhaust all non-lethal alternatives before killing a problem wolf. Private citizens were allowed to kill a wolf only if it was in the act of attacking livestock.

A 2005 revision by the Bush administration weakened wolf protections by eliminating the requirement that wildlife managers exhaust all non-lethal methods before resorting to killing wolves. It also permitted the killing of wolves that were proven to be “the primary” cause of deer and elk populations falling below state game objectives, but subsequent agency studies have found wolves are not the primary threat to big game populations. Private citizens were permitted to kill wolves in the act of attacking domestic animals, not just on their own property, but also on public lands they are federally permitted to use for grazing.

“Any further erosion of wolf protections, and we’ll be back to the days of shooting wolves on sight,” said Ralph Maughan, president of the Wolf Recovery Foundation. “Today, we’ve learned what an important role wolves play in our natural ecosystems. With this newly realized information, there can be no reasonable justification for returning to the days of mindlessly killing wolves.”


Boulder White Clouds Council • Defenders of Wildlife • Idaho Lands Council • Sierra Club • Western Watersheds Project • Wolf Education and Research Center • Wolf Recovery Foundation



  1. DV8 Avatar

    WTF? It’s like the last day’s of Hitler’s regime when they picked up the pace with killing people. Only now, it’s our wild places and animals that are getting the shaft.

  2. DV8 Avatar

    By the way, what can we do to help?

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Got to read the awful details in the Federal Register tomorrow.

  4. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Dick Kempthorne strikes again.

  5. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    DV8, it is a certainty that this disastrous rule will wind up in court. Unfortunately, litigation is hugely expensive. What we can do is shake out our piggy banks and contribute whatever we can to organizations that are involved in the lawsuit (most likely the ones listed at the top of the press release, along with others). Let them know the donations are intended for legal action against the rule. Every dollar really does count.

    In the longer term, it is important that conservationists contribute to, volunteer for, and elect candidates for Congress and President who have good records on conservation issues. Both Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club have 501c4 organizations (their non-tax deductible public affairs affiliates) that publicize office holders’ records on important environmental questions.

    The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is another good source of such information, but unlike the two mentioned above, they also endorse specific candidates.

    There are also various conservation PACs through which one can funnel donations to conservation friendly candidates across the country. WildPAC is one, but I’m sure there are others. Most conservation PACs are non-partisan, in that they support candidates of any party who have good records on conservation.

  6. kt Avatar

    DV8 is right. Maximum destruction of wild lands and animals, maximally applied. Anyone who thought Bush replacing Norton with unctuous industry puppet Kempthorne would make any difference in environmental destruction policies at Interior has hopefully by now had that illusion shattered.

    And it ties back to the Post here recently on the disregard for, and shattering of, ESA protections under the Bush regime. A place like Copper Basin in the headwaters of the Big Lost River in central Idaho perfectly illustrates what the Bush cabal and their Repub cronies are up to. Copper Basin is targeted for killing of wolves because the arrogant and greedy public lands cattlemen (including the ex-president of the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association who just happens to be a buddy of Butch Otter) don’t want to act responsibly and control their cattle – including those they wantonly trespass.

    And the same public lands cattle operators are destroying the streams where the Lost River whitefish is going extinct. And on top of the cattle caving in streambanks and desertifying the headwaters, irrigation diversion (water is wastefully used to grow cow food) are killing this fish. The Kempthorne Interior Department has refused to act to protect the whitefish — hoping they will disappear so the greedy wolf-hating ranchers won’t have to be bothered, and can continue to abuse the watershed until the whole place looks like the lower Lost River near Arco – a dried up riverbed with a few remnant dead cottonwoods as a reminder of what has been lost.

  7. Jeff Avatar

    I hate Bush

  8. Layton Avatar

    Sooooo. listen to the crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth because someone gave old John Q Public the right to protect his property!!!

    And then this

    ” This action would essentially remove all federal protections for wolves, despite the fact that they are still listed as an endangered species.”

    I have seen from reading this blog that the “forwolves folks” that live here normally don’t subject their own to justifying anything they say – it’s just the folks that aren’t 100% blindly in favor of whatever Canis Lupis does that are subject to peer review – BUT, isn’t the truth of that matter that the wolf population that we are typically speaking of here in the Northwest is considered “experimental and non-essential” NOT “endangered”?


    Welcome back Ralph 8^)

  9. J. Delaney Avatar
    J. Delaney

    To Layton’s remarks: The reintroduction of the wolves may be labeled ‘non-essential or experimental’ … but if you have been in greater Yellowstone ecosystem lately you’ll see the comeback of aspen, willows, waterfowl, fox, beaver, otters, black & grizzly bears with the reduction of total elk numbers. It’s been 10 years (since the reintroduction) and the ecosystem is beginning to revert back to it’s natural balance…..With this in mind, it’s very apparent that wolves are essential to this healthy balance.

  10. J. Delaney Avatar
    J. Delaney

    Correction…..it’s been 12 years since the reintroduction….

  11. elkhunter Avatar

    But pro-wolf people always profess that wolves dont lower elk populations, Ralph has stated that many times, So Delaney, do wolves lower elk populations or not? It seems to be the question on everyones mind, when it fits pro-wolf agenda, they keep populations in check, when it does not, then they dont. I am confused. All I know is there will be more money wasted on stupid litigation.

  12. Jon Way Avatar
    Jon Way

    To Elkhunter,
    A lot of money wasted on stupid litigation…. What kind of (*^%&) comment is that – people putting money into what they care for. This Fed Gov’t has put us more into a moneypit (Fed deficit) with all of their spending (obvioulsy Iraq standing out #1) and non-taxation on anything including their oil buddies on our public lands. Why don’t you and Layton start choosing bigger battles than on these “pro-wolf” people – which I assume is a synonym for liberal, green, democrat in your language. While wolves obvioulsy kill elk and maybe in some places lower elk numbers, look at how many elk are still harvested in the Rocky Mtn states where wolves live. Ralph has only posted on that about 2 dozen times this year.
    For some people, like me, to absolutely despise the Bush Admin based on their actions and policies… means I must be a bleeting liberal to hate gov’t wasting and corruption.

  13. Steve Avatar

    Layton and elkhunter,
    When will you realize that this is not just about wolves? The people in this administration skirt all of the rules and want nothing more than to develop all public lands for anything possible to make money for themselves and their friends. Eliminating protections for wildlife is the first step in this process of taking the lands away from the people. Good luck hunting anywhere in the west with oil and gas wells everywhere…

  14. Layton Avatar

    “They won’t have to scientifically prove that wolves are depleting elk herds, essentially they can just everybody in the bar or cafe. They may also be able to shot wolves for simply standing near livestock and not have to provide any evidence that even that was so.”


    Did you read the same federal register that I did?? I used your link to get to it, but it seems that we read two different things.

    The one I read said that folks could take care of wolves that were ATTACKING their dogs. It also said that impact on ungulate herds had to be SCIENTIFICALLY DEMONSTRATED!

    I think you read their quote of the current rule, not their proposed rule. They begin that section by quoting the current rule and why they are changing it, then they give their proposal.


    Maybe you didn’t read that far, this was under the heading of “supplementary information”

    Could you maybe give me another link to the one that you read about just doing something with the folks “at the bar or cafe”?

    Sorry to post again on the same topic, but I just got through reading what the link pointed to.


  15. elkhunter Avatar

    I thought this post was about wolves, not gas drilling or oil or whatever, I was responding to to the post. As far as harvest data for ID I have asked Ralph many times for a unit by unit comparison for harvest. Because obviously some units have wolves and some dont. And all the best elk units in the state are in the SOUTH. Where there are few to no wolves! So I would just like a unit by unit harvest report. Then if you can show me that things are okay across the board, then fine, but I just dont like it when you lump all the units the same.

    I just emailed Idaho Fish and Game for a unit by unit comparison, so hopefully there will be an answer, Elkhunter.


  16. J. Delaney Avatar
    J. Delaney

    Mr Elkhunter—- I answered your question with my comments. You’ll need to re-read my comments and you’ll find your answer…… If we have 100000 elk in Wyoming today…. find the number of elk in 1995 and you can then find the answer for yourself….

  17. elkhunter Avatar

    No you didnt. My statement was that pro-wolf have always said that wolves do not LOWER populations. You say they did in Yellowstone. How did your statement answer that. Also you cannot lump the entire state of WY into the populaiton of elk. I am sure there are areas that dont have wolves? Am I right? If so then what is the health of the herd in that area? Why did the WYFG do a huge study showing the negative impacts of wolves on calf recruitment? I know you will discredit that study as all pro-wolf people did. You could have all the science in the world, as long as it disagrees with you, you will ignore it. Go read that report, its on their website.

  18. Eric Avatar


    IDFG has the harvest history by unit on their website. You could set up an excel spreadsheet and do the comparison you talked about above.

  19. Moose Avatar

    I don’t see this quite as the death knell for wolves in the RM segment.

    The changes in criteria for attacking livestock, dogs, etc., are fairly minor and will likely only result in a small increase in human-caused wolf mortality – many wolves in those areas will “wise up” and present fewer opportunities in the future.

    I do share the concern of many of those who post here about giving license to the states to determine which and how many wolf packs need to be reduced to facilitate increased ungulate pop.s in certain management areas – see Alaska – especially given the rhetoric from certain politicians in those states.

    Science is bandied about in the new proposed rule doc like it will provide unquestionable solid data for making the above decisions. Doesn’t happen that way. There are just too many variables intertwined …weather, disease, habitat, harvests, predation… and the latter two are the only ones that can be manipulated in any way. As usual, I’m sure both will be manipulated at the same time – doesn’t lend itself to making good ‘scientific decisions’ from the results. As stated by many above, politics will likely trump science in that case.

    Elkhunter – you are right in calling many here to task for painting all hunters in a negative light becuz of the actions of a few…on the other hand, you shouldn’t do the same to wolf advocates – “pro-wolf have always said that wolves do not LOWER populations”.

    I truly believe once there are hunting seasons established on wolves many of these issues will cease being as emotionally charged. But hey, I’ve always been a hopeless optimist.

  20. SAP Avatar

    “Hopeless optimist”? That’s the best oxymoron I’ve ever seen! 😉

  21. Moose Avatar

    ‘ “Hopeless optimist”? That’s the best oxymoron I’ve ever seen’

    I stole that from someone, I don’t recall who.*

    * – my citation

  22. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Glad you’re a hopeless optimist. As for myself, I’ve always been a real pessimist. The good thing about that is that things usually turn out much better than I anticipate, but I’m not disappointed when they don’t.


  23. Jay Avatar

    Mr. Elkhunter–you mention the study done by Wyoming showing adverse effect of wolves on calves and say that pro-wildlife folks will discount the results. However, you can’t deny the politicizing of their commission. When one of their own biologists (D. Moody, a respected professional) spoke out and discounted the overall impacts of wolves, he was put in their penalty box (suspended without pay, I believe). I’d say that’s a good indication the department is trying to make the data fit the contention that wolves are the primary cause.

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    When I read their study, I thought there was slight evidence that wolves might be having a negative impact in about three areas, but other posters said the Game and Fish data was of poor quality.

    Regardless, if wolves are having a slight negative impact on population size in a few areas, so what? Wyoming Game and Fish says they have too many elk. I’ve posted several articles on that.

    How can you have it both ways? — too many elk, but wolves killing too many elk.

    Note: I suspect the real limiting factor on elk in Wyoming is the ranching industry, which will not provide enough habitat and the natural gas/coal bed methane boom.

  25. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    To address Moose’s comment:

    It isn’t about what the rule allows; it is about how the rule change allows for people to get away with illegally killing wolves.

    There are now going to be few imaginable means by which to prosecute someone for illegally killing a wolf. Even the one in the field next to my house that hasn’t been publicised yet; if the person were caught, under the new rules, he could just say he saw it next to livestock, or that he let his dogs out to walk and the wolf threatened them; and he gets off scott-free.

    I hope people realize that. You can’t think of it from what it allows, but what it allows to be gotten away with. It really reduces the legal means to protect wolves in the courtroom and the means to prevent illegal killing. Basically, Kempthorne handed Otter and his buddies exactly what they wanted; a free ticket to kill all of the wolves they want.

  26. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You are right on!

    Further, it opens up the way for much easier mass wolf killing by the government.

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Fighting the Bush power grab by the congressional appropriations process.

    The AP reports President Bush this month is giving an obscure White House office new powers over regulations affecting health, worker safety and the environment.

    Today in the Daily Kos there is an article about fighting Bush’s power grab over the regulatory process by means of the congressional appropriations power. Read. House Dems Win Battle against Bush Power Grab. By Lapin.

    This may be a method of defunding the new anti-wolf rules and other anti-conservation, anti-worker, and his initiatives that deny the average American health care.

  28. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    It’s so sad to see that people don’t comprehend what the Bush administration is doing to this country, and as applicable here; what these rules and policies do not only to wolves, but hunters, ranchers, loggers, and recreationists; all non-corporate persons who use our public lands.

    I just don’t comprehend how the pattern of abuse and destruction is so clear to me, Ralph, and many others; but some just can’t see it. The only thing I can think of is that the harsh truth can’t be seen because some don’t want to see it; and are blinded by the propaganda.

    This has happened before.

    Try to imagine what it was like, being a person who supported the rise of Hitler in Germany; how good it felt to support true reform. Try to imagine those who soon stopped supporting him while you stayed true to your belief in Hitler. Now, for those on the other side; try to imagine what it was like when you, a Hitler supporter, found out the awful truth…and that you supported the mass murders.

  29. Overlander Avatar

    Speaking of Daily Kos, I posted you news release over there.

  30. DV8 Avatar

    This news has kept me up tonight. So hypothtically speaking, if I’m Joe Blow living in Stanley, or Bozeman, or Dubois, and I suspect a wolf or wolf pack is causing elk depredation I can go shoot it/them? And I don’t need any science basis for this action? Ummmm…well, in that case, there is really no wolf protection in existence at all should this law go into effect. That’s quite obvious.

    Unless a judge is paid off before hand, I can’t imagine they would find this adendum consistent with anything in the wolf reintroduction program or the ESA. And it sounds like, with the involvement of Governor Richardson (and perhaps other politicians), this could become a HIGHLY politicized issue.

    From the wolves perspective, there needs to be a very organized effort by the environmental community to make sure that if this does become official, it is in the courts the minute after it become law, and is pushed through the court system at record speed for an emergency stop.

  31. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Having spent three winters in northern Canada studying the most scientifically rigorous wolf control program ever conducted in North America, the Champaigne-Aishihik program in southwestern Yukon, a control program ostensibly instituted to relieve wolf pressure on moose and caribou populations, a program that nevertheless discounted radical changes in moose and caribou habitat from both historical and contemporary human activity, primarily road building and mining, and overhunting, primarily by Natives but also in some cases by Whites, I find all this talk about scientific “proof” of negative wolf impacts on elk in the Greater Yellowstone and central Idaho to be sheer nonsense.

    The number of factors that must be controlled for–environment, climate, disease, negative human impacts, and predation, etc.– to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that wolf predation is primarily additive on ungulates boggles the mind and the pocketbook. It’s only been done well once, and that nearly broke the budget of the Yukon Dept. of Renewable Resources. And the program still didn’t prove that wolves regulate moose and caribou independently of all those important other factors.

    Despite all the studies done on the question, no one–and I mean no one–has yet scientifically demonstrated that predators are the primary limiting or regulating factor on ungulate populations. (That is, no has proven the existence of a “predator pit,” which is at best a theoretical construct.) Virtually every honest scientific study ever done on the question of predator impacts has found that habitat and climate are the primary limiting factors on ungulates, along with human impacts on land and wildlife. Where in the short term additive impacts from wolves can be reasonably demonstrated, there is always some important habitat or climactic factor that underlies “excessive” predation. And in almost every case, these systems cycle highs and lows of ungulate and predator populations. It just takes a long time.

    In the Yukon and central Alaska, for example, the construction of the Alaska Highway during World War II, and the subsequent construction of additional roads and trails off the Highway, has had an enormous negative impact on ungulates, particularly on migratory behavior–essentially stopping it, essentially fixing ungulates in place. This fragmentation of habitat from the Highway, and other roads and trails, has made it much easier for both humans and wolves to hunt both caribou and moose; this combined hunting has had impacts on numbers and densities. Indeed, in both Alaska and the Yukon, the only areas where you hear complaints about wolves are in areas where there are roads and hoards of hunters from Anchorage, Fairbanks, and even Whitehorse looking for moose and caribou.

    In essence, you’ve got too many hunters for too few ungulates in areas that are not particularly ecologically productive anyway, so moose and caribou densities are already naturally low. So what do we do? We kill wolves to eliminate their take of ungulates, and hand out more licenses to the city boys who want to kill a moose. Doesn’t do much good.

    In Wyoming, we hear that wolves are having “excessive” impacts on elk. Well, is the impact of wolves on elk more excessive than the constant pressure from landowners to reduce elk numbers to leave more forage for cattle? Is the impact of wolves on elk more excessive than the impact of thousands of late season cow-calf tags that G&F hands out year after year like candy to reduce elk numbers because of the complaints from landowners about too many elk? How about the feedgrounds, which are the primary mechanism in northwestern Wyoming west of the continental divide for maintaining elk numbers (and densities) at levels that far exceed the carrying capacity of the habitat? Excessive numbers that then have to be cut down by those additional late season cow-calf tags because the ranchers, who also demand feedgrounds to keep elk away from forage “reserved” for cattle, also don’t want the excessive numbers of elk that the feedgrounds produce?

    Not to mention the fact that the feedgrounds foster the disease brucellosis, which the ranchers claim poses a severe economic threat to the industry.

    Have you heard of anything more fundamentally irrational in your life?

    Elk management in western Wyoming is the most irrational, most ignorant, most stupid, and most damaging game management system in North America.

    To date, wolves have barely made a dent in it. To claim otherwise is to display the most appalling ignorance of the facts and the situation. Or, in the case of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, to claim otherwise is the most baldfaced lie.

  32. J. Delaney Avatar
    J. Delaney

    Mr. Elkhunter— What don’t you understand about my comments…yes, IMO wolves have lowered the overall elk numbers in Yellowstone. I’m pro wolf. My main comment is that there were too many elk for the habit to remain healthy. What is so God awful wrong with wanting a healthy habitat?

  33. elkhunter Avatar

    Delaney, my point is every other pro-wolf person here will DISAGREE with you!! CAN YOU NOT READ. They all state that wolves do not lower or effect negatively populations. READ all the posts. I feel like I am talking to a 5 year old. I have had this discussion that wolves will lower populations, they all say they dont, its cows hunters, roads, global warming, george bush. Those things, not wolves. So get on track with your friends.

  34. J. Delaney Avatar
    J. Delaney

    Well, you asked me what I thought .. and I answered your question. Then you tell me that I need to change my thinking and to get on track with my friends. This makes no sense…. Name calling & shouting … now those are traits of a 5 year old.

  35. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Generally speaking, it is human tendancy to complicate the simplest issues.

    I think almost every facter that is detrimental to wildlife has been mentioned–fire, mining, habitat loss, etc. But I just want to bring up one more point about this issue.
    I bet that most of you have noticed that a few days before hunting season starts the elk {or deer, depending where you live} go somewhere else..They know the time of year the “human predators” are going to be in the woods. With the wolf reintroduction, year round hunting season began. So, would it stand to reason, that the elk are moving around to different areas, to put some distance between their year round, hunters/predators?
    I would bet those {missing} elk have just moved around.

    It is amazing the amount of knowledge that can be gained by; always keeping your eyes open, paying attention, being very observent, being objective, and thinking about the consequences. Those things actually cover quite a bit of territory, and I am very thankful my dad made sure I understood them.

    I am not an animal expert, but I have spent a lot of time out in nature observing. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but from what I have seen and studied, I doubt that there are enough wolves to make anywhere near a significant reduction in the elk population. The elk have simply moved from their usual locations. If hunters have been in the habit of hunting in a favorite area year after year, I bet they are very irritated that the wolves have caused the elk to relocate, because now those hunters have to find a new area. So it takes a little more effort to bag an elk. Maybe I am old fashioned, but isn’t it the tracking of the animal and trying to outsmart it to get your dinner the big adventure?

    So whats at the root of the wolf controversy? Maybe it’s human arrogance. Throughout history arrogance has wiped out untold numbers of animals and human’s. There are those that say the “fast food attitude”,{ food being figurative} is destroying todays society. But, that is just a new label for an attitude that has been around for a very long time.

  36. elkhunter Avatar

    Tracking an animal? That would be what I call impossible, first off, how do you know if its a male or female? I look at tracks to confirm that there is in fact elk or deer in the area, and when the hunts start, the elk/deer dont leave the area, they just become more nocturnal, only moving right at light and just before dark. I see deer and elk almost every day I hunt. And elk and deer locations will stay the same on the norm, elk and deer will always need food, water and shelter, so its pretty simple you find those areas and you will find elk and deer… regardless of wolves. Its not just wolves that have the negative effect, its black bears, cougars, coyotes and NOW the addition of wolves. So do you think that just maybe in certain areas of high predator populations, that elk/deer herds might be affected? Just curious

  37. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    I think it has been established that many factors effect wildlife both positive and negative. Predators go after the sick, weak and new offspring, because it is easier and expends much less energy. It is my opinion/belief that the number of wolves added to the predator population is not large enough to make a significant decrease in the elk populations. I thought that as the packs reproduce and split into other packs, that they start moving off into other areas. Just a few months ago there were a couple confirmed wolf sightings in NE Oregon. It was only one wolf though.

    It seems to me that because of habitat loss, that drought and fire may have the greatest effect on populations. With the extent of one of the worst fire seasons in 2003 I would guess it had a very noticable effect on the wildlife. I have not seen any reports, but did cover a lot of territory in August 2003 -a long road trip. Mostly backroads in NW OR, E WA, ID, MT around Gracier NP{it was closed}, then all the way to Jasper, Alberta, across to BC and eventually met up with friends in Whistler. We didn’t see much for all the smoke. But it was quite an adventure dodging fires, road closures all on little backroads with some of the world’s largest potholes and me with with 3 freshly broken ribs….. Anyway just about everything was on fire. I did not intend for that to drag on….. Gotta go take care of my animals.
    Elkhunter—I’ll get to your other questions a bit later.

  38. SAP Avatar

    All this talk about cavemen and smilodons reminded me of the work of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. She lived among Bushmen in the Kalahari desert in the 1950s. You can read her 2006 book on the subject; here is a link to a 2003 article in Anthropologica:


    I have not read her stuff in awhile, but it seems that the Bushmen and the lions had some kind of millenia-long “truce,” so to speak. It’s fascinating. Heartbreaking, too — “civilized” (HA!) people have destroyed the Bushmen, moved them out of their homelands for “nature reserves;” see this link:


    So, people CAN live with large, fierce carnivores. There are obviously huge differences between a stone-age hunter-gatherer culture and our way of life here, but we have to take inspiration and instruction where we find it.

  39. elkhunter Avatar

    SAP, you posted on the wrong blog! 🙂 Its the one about Gov. helping the wolves!

  40. SAP Avatar

    While I’m being lazy and just providing links instead of commentary, I’ll post the link to Professor Scott Creel’s publications. Creel is at Montana State and has done some very interesting work on African wild dogs, Yellowstone wolves, and elk.


    Creel’s work should generate a lot of discussion about how wolves change elk movements and influence population dynamics. See especially his 2007 paper, published in Science, “Effects of predation risk on reproductive physiology and demography in elk.”

  41. SAP Avatar

    Elkunter – gosh, you’re right, I got distracted while looking up Creel’s work, which I think is relevant to this thread.


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