Idaho Fish and Game news release on wolves
I just got this. “Buffaloed” posted part of it as a comment. I am putting all of it up.
The “control” of the Buffalo Ridge Pack is a total outrage and a preface to what we will see with total state control. This has been one of Idaho’s most visible wolf packs, and one that has stayed out of trouble.
The dead calves were no more than a day or two old and might have been stillborn. The owner, and apparently some others nearby, has them on rented pasture, he his cattle calve in late December and early January. Temperatures in the area have been -20 degrees F.
For these small calves four wolves were killed by Wildlife Services. I have heard that Curt Hurless (recall the recent article on him and Lynne Stone?) knows that the Buffalo Ridge Pack was not even in the area when these calves were supposedly killed.
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IDAHO FISH AND GAME
HEADQUARTERS NEWS RELEASE
January 28, 2008
Wolf report: wolves spreading?
Another Idaho wolf has wandered into eastern Oregon – this one a radio-collared female wolf from the Timberline Pack.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists just found the two- to three-year-old wolf in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest near the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. The biologists had received reports of wolf activity in that area and were searching for missing wolf radio-collars from Idaho.
Idaho Fish and Game biologists had put a radio-collar on the wolf – identified as B-300 – northeast of Boise in August 2006.
Oregon biologists observed only a single wolf. But it was the fifth confirmed wolf to be found in Oregon.
In March 1999, a radio-collared female was captured near John Day and returned to Idaho. In 2000, a collared wolf was found dead along Interstate 84 south of Baker City, and a wolf without a radio collar was found shot between Ukiah and Pendleton. In July 2007, a mature female wolf was found dead from a gunshot wound in Union County.
All four wolves were from Idaho.
Wolves in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and other parts of eastern Oregon and Washington are included in the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its intention to remove this population from the endangered species list. A final rule is expected on February 29 and would take effect March 29.
Wolves would remain on the list in the rest of the two states.
In Idaho, four wolves from a pack that has killed at least two calves have been shot. This pack has been implicated in several depredations on cattle over the last few months.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services confirmed the Buffalo Ridge pack killed two calves in December on private land near Clayton.
Aircrews killed three gray wolves in December. In January, they shot a fourth wolf from the pack along the East Fork of the Salmon River near Clayton.
Wolf biologists estimate the wolf population at the end of 2007 is about 730 wolves in 82 packs with 43 breeding pairs. Federal agents confirmed wolves killed 52 cattle, 170 sheep and six dogs. A total of 76 wolves were confirmed dead – 43 killed by federal predator control actions, seven by ranchers, and 26 died of other causes.
Meanwhile, research in Yellowstone National Park shows that early winter wolf predation fell back into its typical pattern of nearly all elk. Kills were about 40 percent calves, 40 percent bulls, and 20 percent old cows. The composition of prey varies from year-to-year and is probably related to relative vulnerability because of environmental variables, such as drought, forage quality, snow depth and time of year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the wolf recovered in the northern Rocky Mountains and has started the process to remove the wolf from the federal endangered species list. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s weekly wolf reports as well as annual reports, can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/.
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.
58 Responses to Idaho Fish and Game news release on wolves
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I would recommend that everyone keep up to date on the weekly reports if you don’t already.
I posted this on another post but thought I would repost this as an example of WS blaming livestock deaths on wolves with little evidence AND EVEN ADMITTING IT!
“On the 23rd, ID WS investigated a report that wolves killed a pair of ewes on private land south of Riggins, ID. There was not enough evidence left to confirm the depredation, but ID WS did determine that it was “probable”.”
Looks like another federal government “ram-rod” affair.
I’ll bet Wildlife Services was looking for something to do. Wolf “depredations” on livestock have been very low, and WS hasn’t had much chance to prove how valuable they are to their rancher constituency lately.
Oh, I forgot this whopper from:
On Jan. 31st, ID WS reported that two wolves were taken by M-44 devices that had been placed for coyote depredation control on private land near Riggins, ID. These are the first wolves taken by M-44’s in Idaho. No wolf sign was detected previously. The remaining M-44 devices were removed and we are trying to identify practical ways to further reduce the likelihood of any more incidental wolf take. An investigation is ongoing.
On the 12th, a dead wolf was found on private property in a snare that an ID WS specialist had placed on a fence line to catch coyotes. The snare had a break-away lock and no wolves were known to be in that area. WS immediately contacted law enforcement officers from the IDFG and FWS. The matter is under investigation.
The thing that is amazing about Buffaloed’s posts is how acceptable it is (supposedly) to kill coyotes using poisons, snares, and the like. I am so glad my tax-dollars are wasted on this, yet the people complaining about wolves (etc.) don’t want people from the east to comment on their issues on our public land. I, for one, say fine, then stop using our tax-dollars to continue your/their unnecessary slaughter of our native wildlife.
Buffaloed, I don’t want to make it seem like you thought they were acceptable. I know you don’t. I mean Wildlife Services and state of Idaho writing those articles which you linked us to. Sorry if it sounded otherwise.
Buffaloed – I checked back through Ed Bangs’ USFWS weekly wolf reports for December 07 and January 08. To date, three Buffalo Ridge wolves have been shot by Wildlife Services. A kill order is still out on one more wolf.
There are only 5 or 6 wolves left in the Buffalo Ridge Pack.
A way simply must be found to make Wildlife Services, a federal secret agency, accountable and responsible.
I can haze the heck out of wolves all summer long, but if one calf dies of natural causes, and the investigating Wildlife Service’ agent, says its a depredation by a wolf, true or false, then WS will start killing wolves.
A concerted efforts must be made by wolf groups to stop unjust wolf executions by WS, and also the sloppy husbandry practices that goes on with sheep and cattle operations that attracts wolves. I know Sinapu has worked extensively on WS and there may be others. Time for some brain storming? Remember everything you say will be read on the world wide web.
Lynne: I am glad you brought up the ‘sloppy husbandry practices’ issue. I have often thought that the ‘tolerance’ that was supposed to be built up for this endangered species was supposed to include responsible husbandry… as part of the deal. It seems this never really happened, and hence becomes a rebellion by the public that doesnt want wolves. Then reintroduction backfires. You’ve worked in this issue much longer than I, so please excuse my ponderings… and I must say you are superwoman! As well, I have never understood the logic to shoot 1, 2,3 wolves out of pack, which makes the rest of the pack more hungry, tired and nervous, greiving and in ‘survival mode’ which would lead to killing calves or easy sheep. I have NEVER understood this logic. but I know that reintroduction included lethal control to ease livestock owners minds. .. however it went that way too quickly… plus illegal kills. I am starting to wonder if a wolf sanctuaries are the best thing…
Re: Buffaloed comments on FWG control reports. Look at the report for the week of Dec. 19, 07. There were 2 pygmy goats killed. probable cause was wolf, but the report said they couldn’t tell because there were dog bites on the neck. This same dog, a St Bernard, had tracks all around the goats. Week of Dec. 19. Hamilton, MT. I wrote a letter to the Missoulian, but it was not published.
Electrified Wolf Control by an old farm kid
Many Years ago I was having trouble with four very large neighborhood dogs. They would show up every evening and drive my dogs from their food and eat it. Shouts and rocks didn’t seem to have an effect on them, so I put a metal roasting pan full of wet dog food on a board for insulation, ran a wire from my electric fence to the handle on the pan, put my dogs in the garage and waited to see what would happen.
Each of the large dogs, in turn, grabbed a mouthful of the electrified dog food, got a large shock and ran home, yipping all the way. They never came back. In fact, you couldn’t entice them to come onto my place again. One shock each was all it took.
I think if you wired pieces of dead calves or dead lambs into metal feed pans, insulated them from the ground and wired them to an electric fence, you could condition wolves to leave livestock alone. I think you could condition them to stay completely off of a ranch. It would be simple to wire up dozens of wolf-shockers along an electric fence line.
There are lots of things ranchers can do based on research that has been done around the world. Even less harmful then shocks. But I think this thread is about letting it all go before the fat lady sings….
Wildlife Services has experimented with a lot of non-lethal methods, and several years ago their researchers and some of their field personnel were talking enthusiastically about them and using them in Idaho and Montana (I never heard anything from Wyoming).
That’s all water under the bridge now.
Well done! WS could be much more creative in investigating non-lethal methods–especially the type of conditioning you describe.
My perception is that WS is killing wolves because it is a relatively easy way (as opposed to non-lethal methods) way to appease ranchers who’ve lost livestock. I think they believe these “revenge” killings increase tolerance. This is not a belief I share.
The problem I see with Wildlife Services and IDFG is that they both deny responsibility for their actions. Often I hear that WS can’t do anything unless IDFG signs off on it but then IDFG says that WS is who makes the initial recommendation. It appears that there is now a “take two and call me in the morning” policy from IDFG whenever WS submits a report and recommendation but there is no real effort anymore to try non-lethal techniques. It appears that WS is against the techniques that have been tested and don’t want them used. What happened to fladry or the turbo-fladry idea presented at the wolf conference a couple of years ago? Why aren’t they testing these techniques anymore? Do they just want to kill wolves? Do they like being called “coyote killers” because that’s essentially what they have become here in Idaho.
To my knowledge, Wildlife Services has one wolf specialist in Idaho. How is that person supposed to set up, monitor, and tend all these non-lethal methods you mention for all the depredations occurring at any given time? Non-lethal aversion is a great concept, but it’s only effective in certain situations, and wolves eventually become desensitized to it, thus making it ineffective after time. What’s your solution?
Before talking about non-lethal techniques or lethal techniques there is the matter of placing and/or herding livestock to keep them out of harm’s way because wolves are only one of many threats. However, it appears a fair number of operators won’t do that. Maybe that lack of attention to their welfare is a measure of the true value of their livestock to them and maybe of their abilities.
JB is right, I think, about WS’s motivation today — killing is easier . I’d add that it’s also kind of fun (taxpayer-funded, high tech shooting), and it does keep them tight with their political constituency in the livestock industry.
Or course, what happens to them if their constituency loses power?
Jay, if they really want to use non-lethal techniques, you are right that these techniques lose effectiveness over time, but often the threat is brief, so a week of effectiveness is good enough and the wolf pack moves on.
Jay – the one and only “wolf specialist” for Idaho Wildlife Services seems to have disappeared along with any non-lethal efforts from WS or IDFG.
Maybe WS has him pushing papers in some basement office or polishing M44 Coyote Getters? Maybe a 200 lb (sic) Danskin wolf that survived a 2007 Wildlife Services aerial execution frenzy got him?
As its been stated by Buffaloed and Ralph on this site, there appears to no longer be any interest or effort going into preventive tactics by WS or IDFG.
And, you say that non-lethal aversion is only effective in certain situations. What experience and facts can you provide that back this up?
You know it is the same concept with using herbicides in the forest-seems cheap and easy at the get-go, but in the long run it isnt. And, if you take it nationally, we do this with every program. It’s all about now, not thinking of the future. …It is the same viewpoint with wolves, kill something you perceive to be a danger to your$ (livestock). In the end because you are a small piice of the pie, and your livestock as well, it ruins everything else ecologically , but you use everything to justify that viewpoint. It is just pure greed. Utilitarian greed. My problem is I dont see wolves as weeds.. they are living beings – very intelligent and we can learn from them.
There is the other ‘secret’ issue of what else would wolves eat. I mean really? The amount of trapping and hunting going on, whoever sees a rabbit running through the woods? Wolves in the arctic eat small mammals as well as large. Small mammals supplement their diet. Wolves in the NW are left to livestock, elk and deer and maybe pygmy goats. I hike and I have never seen a rabbit or small mammal. And when one or two wolves are killed off for pecking away at the million+ cattle, that leaves the rest of the wolves (maybe a young pup) to fend for itself, what would would be the easiest meal?… That (trapping) has to figure into the equation…It pisses me off that we have spent thousands if not millions of dollars and 30+ years of knowledge on wolf introduction only to argue and fight over what it eats??? That is the ROOT of the problem, as everyone knows… Would you stick an Lion into a donkey farm, with nothing else on the menu??So for us as humans to take the lethal approach right away just pukes all the effort some of us put into it. I’m sure I am preaching to the choir right now..
Sure Lynne, I can. Read “Non-lethal and Lethal Tools to Manage Wolf-Livestock Conflicts in the Northwestern United States”–coauthored by Ed Bangs, Carter Niemeyer, Joe Fontaine, Mike Jimenez, Curt Mack Doug Smith, and Suzanne Stone, to give you just a partial list. That’s a lot of year of wolf experience behind this journal article, wouldn’t you think? I’ll let you read it yourself, but pertaining to flady, they state “fladry must be constantly maintained, due to wind and livestock damage. Fladry is only effective for weeks. Wolves habituate to it or may walk adjacent to it until they can find a place to cross.” Pretty much what I just said, yes?
Jay – My experience with fladry is what you describe. Yes, you’re right, there’s a lot of experience behind the article .. tho am wondering how much fladry the first person on that list has strung.
Last June I asked for permission to put up fladry during the 15 days cattle would be on public land near a wolf den. There was no interest on the part of WS higher ups or these particular permittees in doing so. So the alternative was for wolf advocates to spend 24/7 for over two weeks in the area, scaring away the wolves when they happened to show up.
By being present, we documented a calf that died of natural causes and were there when the wolves showed up and started to feed on it. Fortunately, the WS agent who examined the dead calf was honest and convinced the animal’s owner it was already dead before the wolves .
There’s a little more to the story of those early weeks in June 07. One little Basin Butte Pack wolf had already been shot by a cowhand, less than a mile away, as she left a field where she had been hunting Columbian ground squirrels by herself. The cowhand could have shot to scare her. She was on the run when he took after her, trying to reach the safety of the foothills where the rest of her pack was. She was B313. Anyone coming this way, who wants to go see the prayer flags and memorial where she was shot, I’ll take you there. She was my favorite of the Basin Butte wolves and I had seen her dozens of times.
Heather – the wolves around here eat a lot of ground squirrels in the Spring. They also are fond of stalking beaver, which we have a lot of as well.
“Jay – the one and only “wolf specialist” for Idaho Wildlife Services seems to have disappeared along with any non-lethal efforts from WS or IDFG.”
Are you really referring to a state agency?? Just wondering, cuz I know three guys that “specialize” in wolf control, but I thought they all three worked for the feds. I’m POSITIVE that one does and I thought the other two worked with him.
Layton – they ARE federal employees, but WS is organized by state, so they seem to refer to themselves as “ID WS” or “MT WS;” Bangs refers to them as such in his weekly wolf reports.
If that is the case — and I don’t claim to be sure, I just thot’ they worked for the feds — there are at LEAST two people that specialize in wolf control. I haven’t seen the other one in about a year, so I’m not sure about him.
Not trying to argue here Lynne (suprise!) but one of the folks is based out of Arco and one out of Grangeville, the other one used to be in the Burley area.
Layton, here’s my understanding of the situation: as SAP says, WS is organized by state; they have field personnel that do wolf control, but I believe the guy out of Arco you refer to is the only employee in Idaho dedicated to doing strictly wolf work. The others do wolf stuff when they can, but also tend to all other wildlife damage complaints.
Layton – Jay is talking about Rick Williamson who lives near Arco who is the Idaho WS “wolf specialist”. Rick has pioneered non-lethal methods to help wolves, but as I stated earlier, he seems to MIA.
Probably most people on this blog know that WS used to be called “Animal Damage Control”. The agency has an extensive website. Check it out.
There are also WS pilots who fly the planes that kill the wolves. Some of the pilots like Jeff Ashmead and Sam Kocherhans also do on the ground “control” work. Ralph just posted a story on the WS 2007 report and maybe we should shift our comments on WS to that thread.
Mr. Williamson is a federal employee working within the State of Idaho and he is a wolf specialist. Perhaps he’s been MIA because the current administration, the Bu$hCo., isn’t interested in his expertise due to a general lack of interest in anything but the Bottom $$$, I mean line. There’s not a lot a of room for realistic problem-solvers in a realm of “know-it-all-know-nothings” who have no concern beyond strafing the public lands for profit and retribution tactics.
Perhaps the Secretary Kempthorne has silenced Mr. Williamson to meet those ends.
40% of the calf and 40% bull thats kill my elk hunting we need to stop these wolfs or we will not have a elk hunt any more
I am seeing a huge problem here. People who dont want the wolves harvested are reading opinions not fact and making opinions from them and most have not been in the woods themselves to see, on the other hand alot of hunters want them taken back out of the ecosystem and that is equally as wrong. As a hunter myself and most importantly a conservationist it is very important that the wolves be allowed to survive. But it is 100% irresponsible to “manage” deer and elk herds and not manage the wolf populations as well. I dont make these statements from stories or propaganda I make these from FACT from personal experience in the field. I have seen places teaming with wildlife irradicated down to literally zero wildlife in a matter of only one year, now the wolves are starting to weaken from starvation. If we can balance the wolf population out to a sustainable size then ALL animals can flourish. People dont realie that by allowing the wolves to overpopulate they are actually causing more deaths and suffering from starvation than any hunting could cause. I say let all NATIVE creatures including the wolf esist in sustainable populations, anyone disagreeing with this statement is making decisions from “feelings” not scientifis fact or true care for the animals well being.
In january you had posted a report of M-44 killing wolves and noted that there are no real signs of wolves in that country. Well I have been to riggings-and mcall and spent ten days there this year. I huntedd there because as of last year it had the highest success rate for hunting which means there are some good populations there, but this year I spent ten days in the woods and saw only 3 deer and not one elk, yet every day I saw at least 20+ wolves. These wolves showed up everytime literally within minutes of me calling for elk, etting alot of up close and personal views of them these wolves were starving and mangy looking, because they had exhausted all the food sources in the area and now wil dye a slow death from starvation rather than quick and painless from proper management techniques. What you think your saving your actually killing along with the rest of the wildlife.
I would guess that given your discription of the wolves you cited, they ‘managed’ themselves and are likely dead, if not reduced in number.
There is room for management, but until you can actually trust agencies that would regulate a hunt, or those who oppose wolves all together…it ain’t gonna happen.
You may have seen a rare instance, an excess of wolves for a certain habitat…but in a miniscual amount of time under a delisted status, their numbers were signifigantly effected over all.
Not everyone here thinks wolves should never be hunted. I personally have always thought there would be a season, and a trophy hunt, if and when numbers of wolves caused need for one. I don’t think we are there yet. SInce wolf populations seem to have plateaued in most spots, we may not get there for quite some time. Nature has a way of swinging things her own way.
Just so you know though, I hunt Colorado, and have seen a diminshed numbers of elk in some areas where they used to be overly abundant, and now see many where I hadn’t seen them before…you cannot blame it on wolves. You can say drought plays a role, and I am certain pine beetles do too, but I know that cattle has as much to do with it as any other possible cause.
I am not opposed to a scientific approach to a necessitated management plan…..but don’t be think for a minute that you will sell a “quick and painless” arguement. People miss or gut shoot elk, which are considerabley larger, and I have read about wolves shot in the back who wandered off draggingtheir hind legs behind them before bleeding to death….and unless you know someone who has come back from the dead after having been shot, we can’t say “painless”. WHat we can say is that no animal should be forced to starve to death because of man’s inhumanity and poor practices…but then, if we used that approach, we’d close the elk feed-lots that will spread chronic wasting desease and bring tragedy to the entire ecosystem…one slow death at a time. Yet, I rarely if ever, hear a hunter advocate for those closures. Why? Because most, not you necessarily, are concerned with maximum tags per person, to hell with the ramifications of artificially inflating populations.
Shan’t expect any starving or mangy ones to be killed by sport hunters though.
I suggest you read my post again. I was quoting the actual report issued by the IDFG/FWS. They were the ones who said there was no wolf sign present. In fact, there have been wolves in the area for a long period of time before the incident happened so WS shouldn’t have been using M-44s in the area. To my understanding the agent who placed the M-44’s was cited for this. I don’t know how the case was resolved.
It appears that you have just stumbled on this site and do not know much about the issues surrounding wolves. I suggest you read more of the posts on this site before making the types of assumptions you have made.
You do realize that populations of deer and elk had a very difficult winter last year don’t you? Could that be one of the reasons why you didn’t have any hunting success?
It seems to be a pretty common complaint from hunters who didn’t have success. I’ve heard the same complaint since day one of the wolf reintroduction even though at the time there were only 35 wolves. Many hunters would rather blame wolves for their lack of success instead of their poor hunting abilities or just plain bad luck. Just saying……..
As I’m sure you realize, hunters complaining is nothing new. Before wolves were reintroduced, hunters blamed their lack of success on poor range management, cats, grizzlies, and more generally, Fish & Game agencies. We hear similar complaints here in the Midwest, despite the fact that we’re overrun with white-tail deer.
Mat said: “I dont make these statements from stories or propaganda I make these from FACT from personal experience in the field…If we can balance the wolf population out to a sustainable size then ALL animals can flourish…I say let all NATIVE creatures including the wolf esist in sustainable populations, anyone disagreeing with this statement is making decisions from “feelings” not scientifis fact or true care for the animals well being.”
Matt: The fact that your statements arise from your personal experiences does not necessarily indicate they are facts. Each person’s experiences are a little different. Isle Royal, for example, has had wolves and moose now for over 60 years and neither population has yet been exterminated, despite the fact that they are not managed. A person who visits the island might well conclude that wolves need not be managed at all. Is this conclusion based upon “feelings”? I would argue it is a conclusion that can be logically drawn based on this hypothetical person’s experience. Likewise, I would point out that wolf populations in the Minnesota have been essentially unmanaged since the ESA was passed; and yet, even with wolves we Midwesterners have more deer than we know what to do with. In Idaho, despite all the dire predictions from nay-sayers, there are still plenty of elk to be had. Check hunter success rates in Idaho since reintroduction.
Like Vicki, I believe that wolves will need to be killed/controlled in certain instances, and I’ve always thought that some hunting of wolves would result. However, I strongly disagree with the view that you’ve presented here–that seems to suggest that anyone who disagrees with you is expressing an opinion based upon emotion, as opposed to the facts.
Bravo, great response and obviously well educated, boy it sure would be nice if we had better hands on management from the powers that be so that some areas weren’t overpopulated while others had none.
I have hunted that area before there were wolves, even after harsh winters. That area has a very easy escape and migration route down to lower pastures with plenty of forage, and there has never been a lack of, let alone zero game animals, I am no sport hunter nor a trophy hunter but a naturalist who feels its natural and healthy to hunt but I do enjoy a nice rack and the pile of hunting awards from pope and young and other archery championships speak for themselves its not from a lack of skill or luck but a lack of all game animals but wolves, again let me remind all that EVERY time I tried to call for elk or made a peep I found myself surrounded by wolves that were very thin and did not look healthy no doubt from the lack of game for food. They should have been properly managed so that the other animals could live and they didn’t suffer from starvation.
I know that area, I know that it was teaming with wildlife for years until the wolves were there, now there is no big or small game and the wolves are EVERYWHERE and starving, you do the math. Listen in areas like yellowstone where there is no hunting or harldy any human impact leave everything and let mother nature do the balancing but you can’t balance one thing and not the other if the environment is already being artificially balanced by man, which is unfortunate but true.
Listen folks it is what it is lets all quite debating, we must pay close attention to ALL animals populations down to the bark beetle or completely get out of the woods and disturbing mother natures balance which wont happen, so we have this issue, wolves. Solution: Pay close attention to the balance of the wolf/elk/deer population along with everything else as an entire ecosystem and just like the same way a certain amount of tags are issued for cervids in a given area we need to determine how many if any wolves need to be harvested from the area as well to create balance where we have disrupted it its that simple.
The proper procedure is to put your name or alias where you put “to buffaloed”
In the body of the comments, write “to buffaloed”
I hope this helps you do it correctly.
Yes, animals-not just wolves, should be “properly” managed. However, there is a huge rift in what people see as proper.
Perhaps, given the area, the elk left because of the wolves. If the wolves failed to follow, then nature will weed them right on out, and they will starve. Some times, not always, it is the correct course of nature is for animals to starve. It isn’t easy to watch, but it is a natural process.
However, I have to say, even then most skilled hunter will acknowledge that collective herds sometimes leave, die off, thin out. I don’t know where the elk went, but I do know that the condition of the wolves you mention could be not only due to starvation, but mange, distemper, any number of reasons.
Perhaps what occured with the elk is, they were effected by drought and other conditions….in days past they may have hung around and stuck it out. But this time, with these conditions and the presence of wolves, they left in search of other spaces where fewer predators exist. Had this occured a hundred years ago, we would have seen it as a normal process…ever evolving. However, because wolves were exterminated, this behavior was made historically unnecessary. It should come as no surprise, but because of the newness of wolves in this modern environment, it is.
I do feel though, if the wolves are in the shape you describe, they have no learned to adapt, or move on in search of food….so the will be naturally culled. This is what nature does to promote survival of the fittest.
Correct me if I am wrong here, perhaps Save Bears, or someone with biology or history background….
I was always taught that the history of Native Americans was a lesson on how nature cycled.
Many tribes were nomadic, and followed herds in order to feed their families. Those who remained stationary hunted animals that were far more adapted to predators…and they adapted how they hunted. The Native American’s lifestyle revolved around the behavior of animals…now the behavior of animals is expected to revolve around the behavior of humans.
Given that a far greater presence of predators existed, the herds were moving regularly to avoid being predated upon. Therefore, the movement assured that areas were not over grazed, Bison (who have hooves which are adapted to turning soil and promoting growth) would move along fertilizing and tilling soil, thus promoting healthy growth. Elk were also plains animals, so were grizzlies and wolves,(those plains are largely occupied by people now) and all animals occupied considerabley more space….therefore using less resources in one spot to maintain themselves. With human encroachment we forced the animals to become mountain bound, which limits greatly the habitat they have available to them.
The predators that used to push the grazers along helped to maintain a far more healthy food chain. Now that is less likely due to the broken corridors and fragmented habitat.
Removal of wolves, and to a great extent bears,and fragmented/over populated habitat, has caused a massive disruption of balance, and animals are struggling to adapt.
It bothers me to see how many people would rather tweek an natural balance to suit themselves, than promote a natural balance that all would benefit from.
We have to take a lesson from our mistakes, and figure out how to “manage” animals with the very minimum amount of interference possible.
Man was formerly a part of the food chain, because he needed to hunt to survive. That was before ranching. If what we really want is to be able to hunt the way we used to, we had better buck up and restore habitat, give it back to native species…and stop allowing grazing of livestock in those habitats.
So vickif when you restore habbitat are you going to pull out the thousands of miles of water lines that where put in? Are you going to tear your house down and move back to the east coasts? I’m not sure but alot of the big time records were from the 60s, for mule deer anyways, sage chickens were killed by the tousands, and all of this happend with more livestock grazing than there are today. There have been a few major changes, 1) well meaning people decided that they knew how to manage the land better and they “loved” it to death 2) gov agencies have grown by leaps and bounds making it impossiable to make any on the ground decisions, they are more woried about their jobs than doing what is right. 3)Because of the constant uncertainty of public land grazing, critical habbitate on private lands is being destoryed so that the livestock grazers can maintain their livelyhoods. They are clearing brush and shubs, with chemical and mechanical meathods, then they replant to nonnative grasses that can support more livestock. 4) The explosion of atvs in hunting also has caused masive damage not only to the wildlife but also to the land itself. How hard is it for a chicken hunter to ride after a flock of birds shooting untill their limit is filled or the flock dessimated? There is no easy answers here but to continue to beat the drum for no more livestock grazing will take you to an end that you will not like, condos, game farms, highfenced property that fragments critical habbitat and interferes with migration routs, more canned hunting that only the wealthy can afford, blocked access to remote areas because only access is across private lands. If you still think I’m nuts take a good look back at the wildlife numbers from the 60s and before it should be an eye opener for you.
to vicki F,
You keep implying that EVERYTHING that is edible for the wolves is dissapearing is due to drought or other natural things, I have given each of those a thought but cant seem to ignore the fact that before there were any wolves we had droughts, huge fires, epidemics, hard winters etc etc and the populations may have been lowered but were at least still existent. Bears eat alot of the same things and also rely on water too but the bears are doing excelent up there because wolves predation on them is most likely extremely minimal. They didn’t disapear or move on their carcasses are strewn all over the hillsides. Your going to have to swallow the truth here its the unmanaged wolves. Now there may also be a little of those other natural reasons helping it along but the straw that broke the camels back is the wolves which I might add aren’t a native species to begin with. The hills are baron and empty now. Plus I am not sure why or what we are all debating fact is fact we either need to completely pull out of the woods 100% or manage the entire eco system not just parts that are higher profile or bring profit.
What you posted at 12:53 was genius!!!
So when are we all gonna quit pointlessly debating the same ole thing, swallow our pride, quit thinking of ourselves (hunters killing all wolves- anti hunters saving all woves), think about whats best for mother nature and get off our butts and get together and set a reasonable management plan that is best for the eco system??? I am tired of all this pointless debaiting like everyone is trying to prove themselves smarter than one another.
Gee guy, that was extreme. I ‘m not saying we can rip things up…it is a bit late for that, duh. WHat Iam saying-not too unlike yourself, is that we need to manage with a minimal approach to things. The more we interfere, the more screwed up things get.
Ofcourse we can’t boot all people off the continent (but can we vote a few off?). But what we can do is give public lands back to the public. Take it back from ranchers. Regardless of what they do for a living, they are not entitled to monopolize or demolish public lands. Furthermore, we have an adequate supply of cattle being raised by corporations that do not graze public lands.
I agree with most of what you said…a lot needs to be changed. But we definitely owe it ourslevs, and the environment, to manage for the betterment of the environment, not just a segment of the population…like, ranchers, oil companies, guides, hunters, hikers, etc.
We could live without the extremely small percent of cattle that are grazed on public lands.
What is abundantly ironic is, that small percent of all the cattle raised in the USA is responsible for such a large percentof damage to public land. Cattle as a whole have got to be managed in a more eco-friendly way….methane, manure, and all.
I wasn’t saying ‘it’s all drought’. I am saying it IS NOT all wolves. Big difference.
And, wolves are native, and would have continued to be present except for the grave misunderstanding and poor judgement by humans.
I am not anti-hunting. I am not someone who will ever say “never hunt”, I do not do the PETA extremism at all. I believe we have to have a balance, or as much of one as possible. We can’t keep repeating mistakes though.
We need to manage with the intentoin of having a healthy balance. Not a ‘hunter’s balance’ or an animal right’s balance…
I also said, quite plainly, that if the wolves you saw did not learn to adapt…they will die, and that is a natural consequence for animals that don’t evolve or adapt.
Ofcourse, there is little natural about how elk numbers are, or wolves are, or bears, or deer. But we do need to figure out how to best manage all of them…not just exterminate wolves.
I also hunt elk, and I can tell you that so much has changed here in the past decade or so. I am in Colorado, but I can tell you, places where we used to see herds of hundreds we rarely see elk in at all anymore. We used tobe able to go back, year after year, to the same area and have great success. But now, we are hard pressed to find any large herds where we used to go, and now we have to search a lot harder just to find a worth while shot.
I am all for figuring it out. I just don’t think wiping out predators is a good solution.
Thanks though, for the last post. I am a pretty neutral person, and I am far from extreme. I am also always willing to listen. If the situation you mention was more documented and more common, I’d be pushing for a more aggresive approach.
YOur last post is the real deal. What can we all agree on? WHat would be best? I am all ears…and have asked these things myslef a million times.
Sorry, our posts over lapped and I didn’t see your last one before I posted.
lot of people feel that wolves will eventually be hunted, and think it should be under trophy status, with a draw, and a decent tag price. It should also be done atthe right time of the year, so pups can survive and so that we can get an accurate (or mostly accurate) count on wolves.
Did you expect that, because you’ve had success there in the past, that you would continue to harvest an elk every year in the same location in perpetuity? Elk (like other wildlife) have the annoying habit of moving around.
I apologize if I come off a bit harsh. But you must understand that you are not the first hunter to show up on this blog and complain that (and I’m paraphrasing) wolves killed all the (insert game species) in my hunting area. And yet, according to the notoriously anti-wolf IDF&G’s elk report, overall elk harvest appears relatively stable (see: https://research.idfg.idaho.gov/wildlife/Wildlife%20Technical%20Reports/Elk%20PR07.pdf).
So despite the assertions of hunters who show up occasionally on this blog complaining of wolves, harvest in 2007 was the 11th highest since F&G started measuring harvest rates in the 1930s.
Is it possible that wolves killed all the elk in the area that you hunt? Absolutely. Is it probable? Not at all.
Idaho Fish and Game is now pushing the idea that wolves have hurt the 2008 hunt in Idaho, even though the data from the hunt is partial, and the hunt is not over with some of the best weather just getting started.
Below is the pathetic result in the Idaho Statesman. Nevertheless, it will convince those who are predisposed to believe.
Hunting Big Game update: There are more hunters getting less big game this season. By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman.
Just what is pathetic about the statistics that are being seen in southern Idaho? You can’t actually believe that the wolves are not having an impact on the elk herds and the hunting. The biggest impact I’ve seen in North Idaho has been the increase in the number of hunters from other areas because they say the wolves have ruined a lot of their country. We’ve seen a lot more hunters from southern Idaho, the Clear Water, Lochsa, and even the St. Joe drainage hunting in the Coeur ‘d’ Alene River drainage this year hoping to get away from the wolves. A lot of them went home dissapointed when they found out that we have the wolves up here also.
Cobra said: “A lot of them went home dissapointed when they found out that we have the wolves up here also.”
The Idaho elk “hunter’s” lament is the result of years of coddling hunters to increase the sale of licenses. Look at the graph of statewide harvest on p. 2: elk harvest in the three most recent years was higher than in any year before 1988 (and 6 years since ’88)–despite wolves and the drought. And yet they continue to complain.
Boohoo. Cry me a river.
Again, here’s the report: https://research.idfg.idaho.gov/wildlife/Wildlife%20Technical%20Reports/Elk%20PR07.pdf
“As has occurred over much of the west, elk herds have expanded dramatically from the mid-1970s through the 1990s” (p. 107).
Elk increased and harvest increased along with their numbers. Now–despite the fact that they are still near historic highs in harvest–hunters are complaining that wolves have eaten all their elk? Seriously?
Look, I’m not saying wolves don’t have an effect on elk populations; they do. What I’m pointing out is that Idaho elk populations are still high, harvest is near its all-time high, and yet hunters have been complaining since wolves hit the ground 14 years ago. So what gives?
I think we also need to look at the success rates. I haven’t, but if more hunters are taking the same amount of game as 3 or 4 years ago with less hunters I can see why they say the herds are down. the wolves have affected the elk herds, especially the way the elk move so alot of hunters are still trying to figure out how to hunt them with being pressured by wolves. Idaho fish & game also has some information on calf survival rates that show quite a decline in calf and cow ratios. I’m not one of the hunters complaining about the wolves because I wasn’t successful in my hunt because I was, but I have many friends that are very good elk hunters that have harvested elk almost every year and they like Matt saw nothing but wolves. I heard wolves in my area also for the first time this year but I was lucky enough to use them as an advantage. Elk herds move in certain patterns where I hunt and when their patterns are disrupted by hunters or wolves they seek escape routes. It’s almost like hunting whitetails.
What you are saying, essentially, is that some hunters just don’t know how to hunt. They may have been successful in the past due to the elk acting more passively due to lack of natural predators, more like cattle, giving the “very good hunters” a false success rate since just knowing where the elk hang out was good enough. However, elk, under traditionally natural conditions are not “pasture prone” as they are naturally wary all the time, they are ROVING UNGULATES by definition meaning that they are constantly on the move.
My point: a good hunter is aware of this fact and is prepared to hunt with that in mind and, therefore, more aware of the natural habits of their prey. This requires actual hunting, the aspect of “game” in my understanding is that there is some element of the unknown ~ like who’s going to win in the end, the prey or the predator? If this element is lacking, it isn’t “game” anymore, it’s actually more like walking into a pasture and having to walk a little ways across the field and plugging an animal in plain sight with no element of the unknown. Not much of a challenge, which is what most “hunters” will claim is the reason they like to hunt. Double standard is more like it when they use that argument along with the “culling the herds” nonsense. (Don’t forget, predators were removed to eliminate any competition for take and based on artificially high populations due to this lack of predators. They are managed with this factor in mind, period. And for what? Revenue to fund the artificially high populations. Even F&G will tell you that this is the rationale for hunting tags and their primary objective. Just read the IDF&G mission statement, it says that they manage all wildlife for harvest, period.)
Been away for awhile, to busy to look back. Actually yes, some huntersdo not know how to hunt but there are many that do. If you’ve ever hunted in North Idaho you would know yourself that it is far from hunting some type of pastureland. It’s some of the roughest and thick country I’ve been in. Many of the unsuccessful hunters complaining may not get off the road, however the ver good elk hunters I’m speaking of hunt hard and really go after it and still came up empty. As far as a lack of natural predators goes we’ve always had them, cats, bears and yes some wolves. I’ve never hunted an elk that acted like a farm animal. Some of the shows on T.V may show that but we do not see it here. The wolves are having an impact and fromwhat I’ve seen and heardit’s not all positive. Somewhere and at sometime there will be a balance I hope. Hopefully these are just little bumpsbefore everything evens out.
If I can interject.
Well the wolf population has stopped growing, so whatever future impacts they have on elk will be smaller than the changes brought about by the reintroduction and recovery.