Yellowstone Park wolves. Mange is showing up (and more news)

Here is the latest update on the wolves of Yellowstone Park. As usual there is a lot of news, especially interesting to those who follow the Park wolves closely.

Perhaps most important, however, is that the non-native parasitic mange infestation has finally spread from either Wyoming, or more likely Montana into the Park.

The first mangy wolf was discovered last year, a member of Mollies Pack who was old and soon died.

The closest source of mange outside the Park has always been from Gardiner, MT north, especially the Paradise Valley where many packs have battled mange. Just last week two mangy wolves in the area were put down. Of this, Ed Bangs wrote in his weekly wolf update report,

On the 24th, MFWP responded to a call of a sick wolf hanging out near a livestock feedlot in Paradise Valley, MT. The wolf was bedded in a stackyard and was extremely mangy. It was euthanized and found to be a disperser from Yellowstone Park’s Leopold pack.

On the 25th, MFWP set up over a mile of fladry around a calving pasture in the 8-Mile pack’s territory in Paradise valley. The wolves have been frequenting this area and the producer had started calving. Cracker shells were also issued and the producer will randomly fire these off during his night checks. The producer has also reported seeing a mangy collared wolf sleeping in his haystacks. The collar does not seem to be working.

On the 30th MFWP/MT WS euthanized a mangy wolf seeking refuge in a hay barn in Paradise Valley, MT. The collar was not working but the serial number indicated it was once a member of the Swan Lake pack (205M).

Uphill to the south inside the Park, several mangy wolves have been hanging out in the Mammoth area. In fact, mange is suspected as a possible reason why the new wolf pack that formed last winter in the Swan Lake flat/Gardiner’s Hole area fizzled.

Mangy wolves are susceptible to dying from the cold, which is why they are often found seeking shelter in barns. It is thought, but not proven, that very cold weather and, thus altitude, will limit the spread of mange deep into the Park.

A starving mangy wolf a few miles west of Tower Junction. Photo Jan. 2008. Copyright and courtesy Matt and Sarah Lewis. Apparently the wolf looked much worse from the rear.

The first phase of the winter study and wolf radio collaring is over. There are some surprising results.

The Yellowstone Delta pack is almost always the most difficult pack to collar because of their remote range in the SE corner of the Park and southward into the Teton Wilderness, where aircraft are not allowed to land. This winter, however, 4 female members of the pack were captured while on a kill and colllared or recollared, and it was discovered that the Delta Pack is the largest in Yellowstone — 22 wolves.

The Park’s oldest wolf was also discovered, she is wolf 126F, daughter of two of the originals 13M and 14F of what was then named the Soda Butte Pack. She is eleven years old, was wearing a non-functioning radio collar, and was found to be in good condition, weighing 121 pounds, and might still be capable of reproduction. Two of the other females were adults. One was an equally large wolf, but still a pup. One GPS radio collar was deployed along with 3 standard ones. This pack has always been hard to keep collars on because it has always been a “collar-chewing” pack. Past collared Delta wolves have also dispersed or been shot while south of the Park.

The Cougar Creek Pack in the NW corner of the Park received two radio collars. One of the wolves collared turned out to have just 3 legs. One had been completely amputated. Did she chew it off after an injury or a trap outside the Park? She was in good condition. This pack was (and still is?) led by wolf 151F, who is 10 years old.

The Leopold Pack got 3 radio collars, including 2 of a new kind of GPS collar. These are being deployed for summer predation studies. Summer predation is much harder to track than winter, and what wolves of Yellowstone eat in the summer and the rate of kill differs from the winter. This the first time a pack got 2 GPS collars. This will allow more accurate checking of the pack’s prey patterns.

The Oxbow Pack got a GPS collar on the alpha male. A female pup was collared too. The Oxbow Pack will also be part of the summer predation study.

Three members of the Slough Creek Pack were collared, including a former Druid male who was allowed to join the pack.

In her last wolf update, Kathie Lynch wrote quite a bit about 380F, the Slough alpha female’s aggrssive attitude toward other pack females, especially low ranking 527F. 527F has now left the Sloughs and is hanging with a group of wolves trying to find a place between the Sloughs, Druids and Agates. The Idaho wolf that had briefly been part of the Slough Creek Pack remains alone. He has not been seen courting any female wolves or them showing interest in him so far during this mating season.

The remnants of the Hayden Pack continue to look for a safe place on the northern range. The surviving adult Hayden female has now been joined by an adult male disperser making it a pack of five, counting the black male pup and his two sisters.

Yet to be collared are Mollies Pack, Druid Peak, Agate Pack, Gibbon Pack, and Bechler Pack.

Snow is the deepest on the northern range since the killer winter of 1996-7, and the wolves are finding and utilizing more dead elk and bison than in recent decade of drought winters. Because the grasses were in poor condition as winter arrived, with the deep snow it is a reasonable expectation that the kill rate will increase, perhaps a lot, as the ungulates starve in March. Added Feb. 3, 2008. Current snow depth map (west wide – Snotel).




  1. Jim Avatar

    Great info. How do you think the deep snow pack will help with the ongoing drought?

  2. Jim Avatar

    Great to see that the Hayden’s are holding on.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    It will certainly help with the drought. The deep snow is pretty general in the Northern Rockies, with Idaho, Western Montana, and Washington state having some snow emergencies.

    Of course, to make a serious dent in the drought a big snowpack has to be followed by a wet spring and summer and a melt period that is not early, nor especially rapid.

    I have read weather predictions that the above normal precipitation will continue into the summer.

    I would certainly enjoy a Rocky Mountain summer like they used to be — not full of forest fire smoke from July 1 until mid-September

  4. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I am pro-wolf and pro Yellowstone. I get very angry when I read about this over- done study with all of the emphasis on radio-collars.
    Radio collars don’t just magically appear on the wolves, they are put on after the wolves are chased to exhaustion by helicopter,,darted, drugged, handled and posed for photographs with the smiling researchers. Yellowstone is a special place for WILD animals. I have a hard time seeing collared wolves as wild. They look very domesticated and in most cases annoyed if not handicapped by the collars.
    This study has been going on for 13 years and needs to either stop of change. Yellowstone and its wolves belong to all of us, not just the researchers and those who insist on wolves having numbers and names. It is time to let the Yellowstone wolves be WILD wolves.

  5. Monte Avatar

    Larry, I am starting to lean that way too. Surely we could leave some of these wild wolves alone. Does every pack we can get to need a radio collar or two? I’m all for research, but these are supposed to be wild animals.

  6. mikarooni Avatar

    I join your concern regarding the need for and advisability of collaring every animal. I understand the need for scientific research, but also understand the human frailties of overzealous scientists out to further careers and the dangers of putting too many technological tools into the hands of agency personnel who are hired/promoted/retained by a new political machine every four years. Even from a scientific standpoint, there is a point at which the level of interaction with the subject, including them having to live their lives carrying unnatural hardware around their necks, will taint the scientific results anyway. This sounds ever more like harassment of a listed species.

    I am even more interested in the continuous presence of mange in recent years. Mange does not spring up through spontaneous generation; it is spread by contact or at least close proximity to vectors that must have intermediate hosts native to the area or brought into the area. Does anyone know what these intermediate hosts are supposed to be? Is mange native to the area and, if so, when was it first documented in the wild and what was the host or hosts prior to wolf reintroduction? I know that it is common in dogs; but, is there a record of it occurring in the Park, in coyotes or other native wildlife in the past?

    The vector is coyotes, and mange was deliberately introduced into Montana in the early 20th century as crude biological warfare against canids. Ralph Maughan

  7. Jon Way Avatar

    While I appreciate the prior posts about collaring wolves and their effects on keeping them wild, I hope that folks realize that virtually all of the info. that Ralph and others post here on Yellowstone wolves is from them having radio-collars. Without collars, researchers can’t be sure who is who and most of their deaths will go unnoticed, out of sight.
    I for one and very supportive of the study and ongoing efforts of radio-collaring about 20% of the park wolves. The info. that these researchers are collecting is one of a kind and literally has never been documented for wild wolves (anywhere) before. So, I guess, if people would like to see radio-collaring in national parks phased out they should also be willing to not have these wonderful updates that Ralph (and others) post on these wolves. When I go to Yellowstone I see every wolf (collared or not) as truly wild. The collars let us find these wild wolves easier and provide incredible data that researchers are discovering for the first time.
    I would rather not have wolves outside the park collared since whenever they make a “mistake” (like killing a calf) managers use those collars to gun them down.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The percentage of the wolf population with collars in Yellowstone has declined over the years, and they have got better at capturing the wolves without injury and putting on the collar in a way that the wolf is not harmed.

    All kinds of incorrect ideas about wolves have been corrected with the research that comes by being able to track packs and the same wolves over time.

    On the other hand, GPS collars are larger and more likely to affect the wolf’s behavior (at least I think the latter is true).

    Every pack needs to be collared because they need an exact pack count because Wyoming plans to shoot so many packs outside the Park. An exact count is needed to make sure they don’t drop below the relisting number in Wyoming.

    I think this is deplorable.

  9. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Tell the bighorn ewe that I saw shot and killed by a park ranger in Glacier after she was overdosed while being fitted with a collar how wonderful the research is. Tell the pronghorn doe in the Bison Range that I saw trying to pull a capture dart out of her abdomen how wonderful it is.
    Tell all of those 100 coyotes caught in leg-hold traps by researchers in Yellowstone how wonderful it is.
    Tell the bighorn ram in Idaho who got darted in the jugular vein and died how wonderful it is.
    Tell the hundreds of sea otters in California who get radios put in their abdominal cavities how wonderful it is.
    Tell the marmots in Olympic National park with radios inside of them how wonderful it is.
    Tell the cow elk I saw in Yellowstone choking from the radio-collar that was turned up side down on her neck how wonderful it is.
    These are just SOME of the many examples that I have encountered in my travels.
    If the wolf researchers in Yellowstone were caught treating stray dogs outside of the Park like they do wolves in the Park, they would all be in jail!

  10. vicki Avatar

    I can sympathize with the angst of seeing the collaring process take place. But to suggest that the scientists have huge egos and personal motivation is , in my opinion, wrong. It isn’t like they are getting huge multi-million dollar endorsements for each wolf collared.
    I trust that these scientists, many of whom are the persons responsible for reintroduction efforts, will do the collaring on an as needed basis.
    Sometimes there is a price to pay for preservation of species. If that means that collaring takes place, then I say collar them.
    For every crappy scenario given, there are numerous
    successes to credit to the research and information obtained by collecting the data from these animals.
    I am quite certain that the research being done will better the chances of wolves entering other states.
    I am also quite certain that if domestic dogs were at risk, and you were a pet owner, you might feel more inclined to support efforts to save it… in actuality, I think people would be more proactive if it was their family pet in the need that wolves are in.

  11. vicki Avatar

    What is the likely hood of an animal with mange surviving? Is there any natural way for them to heal, or do they all die?

  12. Heather Avatar

    Ralph: could you talk more about the deliberately introduced Mange? thanks.

  13. Heather Avatar

    Ralph: I did go to that blog on mange. but if you want to say more I would appreciate it. As well, it is my understanding that we used to have vets that would treat wolves for mange. True? and I dont think we do anymore correct?

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Vicki and Heather,

    I can’t say more about the deliberation with which mange was introduced than the article by Mike Stark in the Billings Gazette that was linked to above.

    Wolves seem to be able to often fight off mange, or at least keep it well under control. It probably is related to how well nourished they are, but once it is in a pack, it tends to be passed to other wolves. Pups too seem very susceptible.

    I know the Sunlight Basin Pack and the Absaroka Pack, east of the Park in and near the North Absaroka Wilderness, had severe manage, but later they were largely mange free. That was about 4 years ago, but since wolf information from Wyoming no longer comes to me, I don’t know if it continues beset these packs.

    Captive wolves have been successfully treated for mange with ivermectin, but I think the animal has to be captured and held for a period for this to work

  15. Wendy Avatar

    Thanks for the very interesting news, Ralph. Especially about 126F still being around. With 113 gone, she is now the last of the first! And I hope we hear more about how the three-legged Cougar pack wolf got that way.

    Larry, I don’t want to get into anything heated with you about the collars but just to offer my own observations.

    I look forward to the day when it is no longer necessary to place collars on the small percentage of YNP wolves that have them, for a variety of reasons. Although I have posted about my dislike of the helicopter chase I must also stress that this happens to individual wolves only once a year. Wild animals are extremely resilient and have ways of managing pain and stress that consistently amaze me. Don’t forget Druid #253M, who survived 2 collaring operations as well as several long distance journeys while on three legs.

    I have watched collared wolves (and uncollared wolves) in YNP since 1998 and have never, ever seen any behavior that indicates to me that the collars bother them or prevent them from doing anything they would not normally do.

    Of course I don’t see them as much as others, and I don’t see them every moment, but in all my sightings I have never seen anything like the choking elk situation you describe. (That sounds horrible, BTW, I hope you were able to notify someone who might have been able to help her.)

    I continue to support the collars because until we know what is going to happen after delisting (or when the new 10j rules kick in) we are going to need to continue to know where these wolves are and how well (or poorly) they are doing as they may at some point be the only wolves to survive the rule changes. In my opinion, it would actually be irresponsible for the collaring to stop at this point in time. It is true, however, that as the biologists got better at knowing and tracking the packs, the number of collared individuals in each pack has decreased.

    In my observation, the scientific studies being done in the Park are rigorous and thoughtful, practiced by consummate professionals.

    Far more animals in the Park are maimed and killed by careless drivers than by collaring mishaps.

  16. Heather Avatar

    Wendy: It would be interesting to know the statistics on that – wolves being killed or maimed by vehicles vs collaring. I am curious – in what capacity do you work with wolves?

  17. Heather Avatar

    If there is a chance wolves can survive mange, why are we euthanizing them? Perhaps they were very very bad cases. Still, would it be possible to treat them rather than euthanize? My dog had mange and her treatment took several weeks of ‘dips’. But if we are collaring, why cant we treat for mange?

  18. Jon Way Avatar

    I have had 2 of my study coyotes treated for mange by licensed rehabilitators in Massachusetts. It requires about a month of treatment then they can be released back into the wild. It takes 3 different injections of ivermectin about a week apart to kill the parasitic mite (mange). It can be done in the wild as well, only if the correct target animal is given food with ivermectin in it. I have heard people do that with foxes back east and 1 month or so later the animal has a bushy tail.
    There is no reason why it can’t be done with wolves. The animals don’t seem to acclimate to people even when in captivity for a month (usually canids are isolated and contact is kept minimal). It just requires the proper facilities.

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Park Service does begin to capture wolves and treat them if mange spreads in the Park.

    It wouldn’t be done to save individual animals but rather the population. This could be critical if the states have a big slaughter of wolves outside the Park.

    Of course, this won’t happen as long as Bush/Kempthorne is in office.

  20. kt Avatar

    Following the Game Department’s recent publicized killing of cougar cubs, Bill Cope at the Boise Weekly wrote this calling for a Carnivore Rehab Center in Idaho:

    Fish and Game and their Commissioners will get right on that – After eradicating the bighorn sheep in the South Hills or any place Woolgrowers don’t want them under the Butch Otter Bighorn Sheep Eradication Plan.

    After getting IDFG biologists to violate the law/circumvent NEPA and use helicopters to dart and tranquilize wolves to put radio collars on them in the Frank Church Wilderness and the Selway.

    And after they get done carrying out a significant portion of the Butch Otter Wolf Killing Plan, i. e. silencing the opposition to all of the above – namely one vocal opponent, named Jon Marvel.

  21. Heather Avatar

    How are they silencing?

  22. kt Avatar

    Heather –

    Here is a Post Ralph put up a few days ago:

    This shows some of what is going on.

  23. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Cougars and Hounds

    Did anyone notice that a cougar kitten was just killed by HOUNDS In Teton National Park? Overzealous researchers were trying to put a radio collar on the kitten, using HOUNDS to pursue and tree the kitten. The mother was already radio collared and not able to provide enough food for its kittens.
    Another radio collared cougar starved to death when moved from Jackson to the north end of the Teton range last year.
    Cougars + Collars = Starving and Dead Cougars
    Hounds and radio collars have no place in National Parks.

  24. Wendy Avatar

    Heather, I am not a scientist nor do I “work” with wolves and I apologize if my posts gave you (or anyone) that impression. I am a wolf advocate and a supporter of (most) wildlife science; since 1998 I have followed the story of the YNP wolves very closely.

    Once I become a permanent resident of Montana, I hope to follow Lynne Stone’s example and actually assist such work as hers where it is needed.

    Nothing is ever simple when it comes to wolves in the West, (including those in the Park) and I think at the moment, euthanizing them when they are found with mange is the most expedient for all parties (except the wolf itself of course). I agree with Ralph, that if mange becomes more common among Park wolves, that we may see a change in the response.

    At present, there seems to be a strong feeling against offering vet care to the re-introduced wolves since it represents “too much” of a human assist.

    For example, several early decisions to “interfere” for the good of the wolves (re-locating#9F and her pups and
    the attempt to save Druid wolf 40F) have been examined at length for their good or bad points after the fact. In the early days, there was more concern that the YNP wolves would not survive without human help – whereas now, I think most scientists would be inclined to trust the population’s ability to survive such adverse events,
    whether they are considered “natural” or not.

  25. Heather Avatar

    No need for apologizing. I was just wondering if you were a biologist. My point was that it just seems to be the more prevailing attitude to kill them now, rather than conserve. I definitely agree that there may be too much ‘assistance’ and interference (with research, collaring, monitoring etc.) but how much worse could it get? How much worse would it be to treat for mange? Especially if it was put into their food? Noone in Idaho is looking at preserving this species. The Fish and Game dept’s plans are not based on science and it is disgusting. Look at how much money will be going into killing them in Idaho when the 10J goes into effect. My point was about conservation, not eradicating the species again, which is my main concern right now.

  26. Heather Avatar

    kt: thanks for the link. I’ve been reading this .. but I wonder if there have been threats or anything like that on the vocal opponents. that would be a true try at silencing (like the mafia!). Doesnt seem like the vocals wont stop thank god.

  27. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Wendy….I noticed your comment”Once I become a permenant resident of Montana, I hope to follow Lynne Stone’s example………………….”
    I think it’s a great idea and one which I tried to get support for over 3 years ago.
    With all that’s happening and the continued slaughter of wolves here in Montana, maybe there is more interest in this idea now.
    I give Ralph permission to share my email address with you if you’d like to discuss this further, contact me.

  28. Peggy Avatar

    As I was reading all the posted replys, which are extremely interesting and the people very knowledable, I just wanted to add my thought. Having worked in the Veterinary field for 22 years, and 3 years of that at a Animal Dermatology Hospital, I just want to say that while Ivermectin does indeed treat most cases of mange, it is not without some very adverse side effects. Using Ivermectin, may cure the ongoing mange, however it could create a multitude of serious side effects for the treated animal and possible genetic problems for offspring of the treated animal. Also if it is a resistant form of mange, all the ivermectin in the world may not erradicate the disease. Just my two cents.

  29. Kathryn Avatar

    While we are discussing the collaring from various viewpoints, I would like to ask a very simplistic question. Why can’t they move collared wolves to other areas (maybe more welcoming) instead of the proposed slaughter? I’ve read many comments about other areas that would welcome and protect wolves. It just seems to me that the West has enough wilderness to support the current population of wolves and that would not interfere with ranchers, etc.

  30. vicki Avatar

    I think the idea is to study wolves, and their transition into the environment of the GYE and beyond. Moving them would only allow the wolves to be in areas that were socially acceptable as opposed to allowing them to intergrate back into their native habitat. I agree, the west is plenty big enough, sadly, the majority of ranchers say otherwise.

  31. vicki Avatar

    To those who have been following the wolf that was spotted int Rocky Mountain National Park, I just returned from there. I got a photo of a large canid paw print, with my husband’s shoe print next to it. He wears a size 12, and the paw print was atleast half as big as his shoe print. There were a lot of tracks, including this one, but they are atleast a few days old. The picture doesn’t do justice… but man, I was psyched!

  32. Heather Avatar

    Vicki: thats awesome!!! Huge paw…

  33. vicki Avatar

    I wish it were fresh. But who knows, if it hangs out long enough, maybe a mate will happen by. I was really skeptical at first, and have been to RMNP four times since they announced spotting a wolf there. This was the first time I saw anything convincing. There were bones near by, scattered. But that doesn’t say much since there are tons of coyotes, and a few lions in that area… not to mention magpies. But this was a refreshing find! Thanks.

  34. Heather Avatar

    I hope the wolf in Oregon is doing ok .. and finds a mate as well. and fed protection.

  35. vicki Avatar

    I’m pretty sure that fed protection is guaranteed until there is a sustainable population (interpretation of that is debatable) in the state. But hopefully there will be populations widely spread through out the west.

  36. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Federal protection is not guaranteed for the Oregon wolf. The USFWS made a point to draw “generous” delisting boundaries for the Idaho, Montana, Wyoming delisting. These lines include Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington. It’s clear they went out of their way to deny any federal protection for dispersing wolves.

    Oregon, however, protects the the wolf as a state endangered species. Oregon will protect the wolf if any government agency does.

  37. vicki Avatar

    Gee, I can’t keep up with the unfair practices that have been forced onto the wolves. I’m glad Oregon will protect the wolf, if they do. I assume they have less cattle? I hope they do. Thanks for clarifying Ralph.
    I know Colorado already has “guidelines” for the return of wolves. BUt it seems unjust to me that rules regarding Idaho/WY/MT can include other states. I guess that wouldn’t be a problem if the feds were being fair to begin with… but to spill their crappy rules into other states who are less wolf-hostile is just obscene. I try to keep up with all of it, but the entire thing has gotten so huge (conveluted). I’d rank anyone who can keep on top of all the regs and rules and changes, super human or saintly.

  38. kt Avatar

    I don’t think Oregon has less cattle – there are a LOT of public lands cows in eastern Oregon. Really trashing BLM and Forest lands. Public lands welfare ranchers just have less of a chokehold on state policies.

    They just have more enlightened citizens that value wildlife. It’s that Blue State Effect … those coasts and all that …

  39. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    It is so aggravating that something that should be so simple, is an enormous complicated mess. Just IMAGINE this; with the discover of an outbreak of mange, plans for delisting wolves have been put on hold indefinitely as this could be detrimental to recovery and stability of the wolf population. I just can’t help but imagine if it were not for a certain industry, this scenario could happen. A similar situation for the protection of the last wild bison too…….. and the list goes on.

  40. Heather Avatar

    time to move to oregon and take a few wolves with me! male and female – alphas of course

  41. vicki Avatar

    My hat goes off to Oregon. Beautiful state, insightful citizens.
    Maybe we should deliberately plant that state-of-mind in Monatana, Idaho and Wyoming. If only….

  42. Janet Chapple Avatar

    Just a word of thanks to you, Ralph, and to the knowledgeable people who respond to you. With information from you we are able to keep up from a distance on the continuing saga of the wonderful wolves of Wonderland. My Amazon blog and “Yellowstone Treasures” website owe you a lot!

  43. Heather Avatar

    I found this on another wolf website, Wolf Howl Animal Preserve: “Soon, a cottage industry of “wolfers” cropped up. Between 1870 and 1877, they killed more than 55,000 wolves a year, according to a 1986 article in Montana Magazine by Dave Walter, reference librarian at the Montana Historical Society.

    Biological warfare…

    “I am constantly receiving reports from all over the state of Montana of stockmen finding dead or badly diseased wolves and coyotes that are easily killed, many of them being destroyed by a blow from a club, being so poor as to be unable to get out of the way,” Knowles wrote.

    I did not know mange was deliberately introduced, guess I am behind the times. If mange was deliberately introduced long ago, and maybe again (?), another reasons for this new 10J to not go into effect. Wolves need to be protected, not killed with biological warfare, natural causes, kiled for supposed livestock predation and now, a hunt for trophy heads. We are really 100 years back now…

  44. Concerned Avatar


    Are you suggesting that some body has re-introduced mange in this day and age? I sure hope not, that would really be getting out there..

  45. Catbestland Avatar


    Why would the use of mange as a biological warfare weapon against wolves be any more surprising than the other despicable tactics used by anit-wolfers such as poisons, traps illegal shootings etc. It’s just less effort they have to put into destroying the symbol of all that threatens their ability to exploit the Natural World.

  46. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t think anyone reintroduced it.

    It was present in coyotes before and after the wolves were restored. Coyotes were the host population.

    Someone would have to capture a number of wolves, hold them and infect them to reintroduce mange.

  47. Concerned Avatar


    That would be a logistical nightmare to capture and hold wolves to re-infest them, I fully understand there are some people out there that might want to do that, but to actually pull it off, why be so clandestine? heck if they can shoot, blow up or poison them without handling them, it is more effective…I understand the void that exists here, but to come up with full blown conspiracy theories is going a bit far and helps neither side of this issue

  48. Heather Avatar

    Concerned: I was just saying if it (introducing mange) happened before, it could happen again, therefore it is not exactly full blow conspiracy…. there is a lot of evil stuff going on that you wouldn’t believe (slaughterhouses, genetically modified food, etc etc), or maybe you would…
    The real point is is that mange doesnt need to be reintroduced as it already there- (because it was deliberately introduced before.) We know some people will bait them (and are baiting them now) and they will be poisoned. However, maybe things will change.

  49. Catbestland Avatar


    What would be so clandestined about releasing a mange infested dog in known wolf territory? It’s a sure bet that wolves would attack and kill it, thus contracting the disease. Anti wolfers would be accomplishing their goal of reducing wolf populations while avoiding the legal consequences of illegally shooting or poisoning a protected species. They would be putting out much less effort and with less risk of getting caught. I have no doubt that this tactic has been and will continue to be used.

  50. Concerned Avatar


    So what your saying is somebody is releasing mange infested dogs in Yellowstone? I don’t think so, trying to do that into a population that is as well monitored as the parks, would never happen, as I said, conspiracy theories don’t help either side of this issue and accusations without proof in fact can hurt a cause more than it helps it…

    Even Ralph stated he didn’t think anyone was re-introducing mange…you may have no doubt, but the question is, do you have any proof to back up the claim that this tactic has been used and will continue to be used?

  51. Catbestland Avatar


    If I had proof, I would turn it over to authorities. I don’t have any proof that certain individuals illegally shoot and poison wolves either, yet we KNOW that this occurs. I can’t see the wind, yet I know the havoc it can wreak. Why wouldn’t the same type of ethically challenged people that would ellegally slaughter wolves take the route with less chance of getting caught? People dump dogs all the time.

  52. Catbestland Avatar

    illegally, that is

  53. Layton Avatar

    Oh brother!!! Did you see the black helicopters or do you just “know they are there”??


  54. Catbestland Avatar

    Are you trying to insinuate that “anti wolfers” are above such tactics???

  55. Concerned Avatar

    There is proof, that certain individuals do shoot wolves as well as poison wolves also, this has been prosecuted and adjudicated in court, there is no proof, but speculation of human cause mange infestation…I am neither pro, nor anti wolf, but it amazes me the speculation and innuendo that shows up on both sides of this issue, which is why it is so difficult to come to any agreements at all on the issue, both sides swing so far left and right….

  56. Concerned Avatar

    And by the way, I am not saying anyone is above doing anything, I have seen some pretty amazing things in life, I am just saying that this one is a bit far out there…

  57. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    about radio collars . . there IS another way. For those of you who are interested please look at this website:
    At the ISPT tracking conference in Seattle this year I was introducted to these folks and their methods. . This computer model they have produced should be able to completely replace the old radio collar technology and give MUCH more data. Cybertracker of Africa has also come up with a unique system of using tracks to monitor wildlife WITHOUT collars using an ancient and new method. If any of you are interested in these things they have a north American branch who are holding tracker evaluations and classes all across the country. I heard at the conference that 60 biologists who have jobs of indentifying kills and animal tracks attended and learned how much they didn’t know. . only to come back later and be much more proficient. THIS is the way we need to take research.

  58. Heather Avatar

    Concerned: Have you been to any Wolf delisting meetings in the past year? Have you heard comments from people who live near or around Yellowstone? I have. The comments were mostly about eradication. Shocking comments. To be personally honest with you, if you are neither pro or anti wolf why are you Concerned? Your comments about inuendo and speculation don’t help. There is proof of the evil stuff going on and by you saying its only possible is not the truth. The truth needs to come out just like any other violation of human or animals in the past and now. (Waterboarding?)

  59. Heather Avatar

    Concerned: what is this one? Reintroducing mange into yellowstone again? Like I said, its not far out there if it has been done before. Seems like you dont want to own up to this for some reason. Why is that? Curiosity killed the cat…

  60. Concerned Avatar

    Heather, as a wildlife biologist, I have been to many of the meetings for the last 18 years, by the way, I live near and around Yellowstone as well as Glacier, I am pretty up to speed on what is going on, I just don’t happen to buy into the conspiracy claims that both side tout..There is no definitive proof that it was introduced, there is speculation, and the possibility exists it may have happen, but I would need to see far more evidence than a newspapers claim, I do have to say that many that post here as well as other page, cry wolf, far to often…

  61. Concerned Avatar

    And you Heather, made an unsubstantiated claim, not I, the smallest population does indeed get the most amount of press, thank god, they are not the majority…and in the end, calmer heads will prevail..

  62. Catbestland Avatar


    Where there is smoke, there is fire.

  63. Catbestland Avatar


    Unfortunately, calmer heads do NOT prevail. Deeper pockets do. Have you not heard, the code of the West is the Golden Rule. He who has the Gold, makes the Rules. Until recentlly those deeper pockets belonged to the livestock industry. Fortunately, with more and more exposure of the situation, this is changing. Unfortunately again, most of the contents of both pockets will be spent in Court. However, those of us who contribute to the wildlife orgs in order that they may wage these Court battles would rather do without that money than loose our precious wildlife heritage. Fortunately again, there are millions more contributors to these orgs. than there are cattlemen.

    On another note, being a wildlife biologist does not necessarilly make one “up to speed” on what is going on. It depends on which side (of the argument, I presume) his bread is buttered on. After all the dept. of Ag’s “Wildlife Services” is full of so called “Wildlife Biologists”. I am sure that their take is completely different than that of a Wildlife Biologist from, lets say, The Center for Biological Diversity or from Sinapu or any other organization which represents the best interest of wildlife and, that is not acting in behest of the livestock industry.

  64. Michael Williams Avatar
    Michael Williams

    113 has always been my favorite. I watched him babysit with the Agate pups last summer, do a little slow chasing and generally be just beautiful. I’ve heard he is gone, but what is the proof?

  65. Concerned Avatar

    Well rest assured Cats, I am up to speed on the issue, and have been for quite a long time now, my bread is not buttered by either side, my opinion is my own as I don’t work for any agencies involved in the wolf issues, but I do have a deep interest of both sides of the issue..Thanks for all your assumptions.

  66. Catbestland Avatar

    No problem, you make it easy.

  67. Concerned Avatar


    Your funny! But your ability to talk with someone who has a different opinion or stance, is seriously lacking..

  68. Concerned Avatar

    Which by the way, is a seriously detriment on this issue, neither side will listen to the other side at all, it is really a shame….

  69. Catbestland Avatar


    So you admit that you have a different opinion than I or other pro-wolf people might state??? That is all that Heather was asking, that you admit to which side of the issue you are on. And your accusations that I or anyone else do not have the ability to talk with someone of a different opinion is ironic when you are the only one that has found it necessary to criticize the others position. I agree with Heather, it does seem like you don’t want to own up to your position, which by the way is obvious. Comments about inuendo and speculation are divisive and, do not help. I always welcome informed debate on the issue of wildlife.

  70. Concerned Avatar


    I don’t care if they are hear or not, I have not made a statement about pro or comments were about the speculation that people are introducing mange, when there is absolutely no proof that this is happening, people are speculating because it happened 103 years ago, that it is happening now…

    Again, I don’t give a rip if they are here or not, If they cause problems, take care of the problem, if they don’t then leave them along, and on public land, I believe they take precedence over the rancher, period, no negotiation!

    What position, would you like me to own up with? The one that I don’t care? If we have wolves or that we don’t have wolves, there here, I have no problem with that, if they weren’t I would not have a problem with that either! Is that so hard to understand?

    What I do have a problem with, is people posting publicly about things they have no proof of!

  71. Concerned Avatar

    I forgot to add, I have many problems with those who are against wolves as well, yes, I have a different opinion than many pro wolf people and I have a different opinion than many that are anti wolf…I just don’t happen to believe EITHER side is doing their cause any good at all!

  72. Concerned Avatar

    And another thing, my contribution to Defenders of Wildlife last year was north of $1000.00! I have never contributed to Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk and would not, I don’t contribute to groups who use lies and innuendo to further their cause!

  73. dbaileyhill Avatar

    SOOOOoooooo…… How ’bout those wolves? I wonder if anyone is planning to assess the extent of the mange outbreak. If this is not a couple of isolated cases, and combined with the 10{j}, could be a serious problem. Peggy mentioned the difficulty of treating wolves, especially that it requires a series of treatments that requires catching affected wolves, not to mention possible side effects. It would seem the appropriate course of action would be to keep the wolves on the endangered list and follow any further cases of mange, if it spreads, and to what extent. Are some animals immune?
    I have the impression that unless it spreads in the park nothing will be done. It seems to me there are many factors that must be dealt with.

  74. Catbestland Avatar


    I agree. Wolves should not be delisted until this potentially most devastating set back has been dealt with. I know that in the beginning of reintroduction, wolves were recaptured and held for extended periods of time for various reasons without suffering too many negative effects of the captivity. Maybe this should be attempted in order to treat the mange which I believe requires a series of treatments. The biggest problem I see with this is that most of the effected animals would have to be quarantined at the same time in order to avoid reinfection. This might be very difficult. I don’t know if there is any preventative treatment that could be given to healthy animals.

  75. Salle Avatar

    I wonder what the true definition of “wild” might be at this point, considering the comments on possible treatment strategies. I am against vaccinating the wild bison of Yellowstone Park because wild animals don’t have veterinarians or “keepers” to take care of them. That’s what “wild” should mean in our vocabulary. It’s a natural thing, to have animals without vaccinations and such.

    I do care about whether the wolves and bison have a healthy environment to live in and that we should leave them be.

    Why is it that humans think that everything on this earth for their sake? It’s a pretty self-agrandizing position.

    The researchers of the wolves, many whom I know, do not do their research for some ego-centered purpose, they truly are studying the intricacies of their focus. There are some who are engaged in corporate inquiry for the sake of profit and exploitation, but they are few in number compared to those who are legitimately studying their subjects for knowledge gain to understand how humans can help these species with less interference.

    I don’t agree with endless research though.

    If mange has entered the mix, it should be left to “run its course” for the most part. Interfering with the natural processes is what got we people into the messes we lament now.

    Perhaps the lesson for us, in all of this, is to learn that nature is not for us to manage or control. We’ve obviously done considerable damage, we should learn to put things back or just leave them alone in the first place.

    The more we interfere, the worse we make it. N’est ce pas?

  76. Heather Avatar

    Si, senora. however, is that possible? (to leave them alone – via research, collaring, culling, monitoring etc .) There are too many cooks in the kitchen now. ‘We’ had to be in it to get them reintroduced. Seems to be a battle of which cook wins. Where does the ‘we’ leave off? The pic above is very sad though, cars driving by. Yes, I believe in letting nature have its course, but that would be without thousands of human beings, I think. We are now in the picture, (some of us) as stewards.

  77. Heather Avatar

    Concerned: you are trying to stay safe with your ‘neutral’ position but it is very obvious to me what side you are on. If you love wolves you would not say you don’t care if they are here or not. I personally love this species and want to see people coexist with them at numbers their gene pool can support. the current 10J will not support that but basically eradicate again. Mange will not help. Poisoning and baiting and further killing will not help. COEXISTENCE needs to be learned.

  78. Concerned Avatar


    I don’t love them, and I don’t hate them, I don’t love elk, I don’t hate them, I don’t love bears, I don’t hate them.

    Please don’t presume to know what side I am on, I have to say after 18 years of making comments on wildlife as well as studying them, you are the first who accused me of being against them. I believe they have a place in nature of course, as I do with all other species, the unique things about wolves, they were not hear until I was in my 30’s, the other species I have studied, were. I just believe there has been a whole bunch of things on both sides of this issue that has been done incorrectly, that is both the anti as well as the pro side. But believe you/me, there is not wild species, I love nor hate, love or hate, does not come into the equation for me.

  79. dbaileyhill Avatar

    The million dollar question.
    That is the problem of not working with nature in the beginning. Destroy first, worry or not, about the results later. A viscous circle, seemingly unending.
    Consider all the parts as a whole, instead of separating them.

  80. Concerned Avatar

    My work with wildlife is based on science, not hate or love, I have worked on many endangered species issue, bears, mice, wolves, etc in order to work in this field, you have to be able to look at the science, not the emotion if it is going to be done correctly, that is why I fight so hard on the Bison issue, the science does not rule, the emotion does, the land control issue does…just as it has since white man came to North America, look where it has got us, to very polarized factions that will not talk, it has nothing to do with science and what is best for the environment or the species in question.

  81. Salle Avatar

    Well, scientifically speaking, the rest of the inhabitants of the biosphere would probably do well, actually much better, if there were a massive reduction of humans, the real problem. Just because we “educate” ourselves does not give us unlimited bias toward our own specie.

    Humans are the problem. Just like those who claim that reducing carbon emissions will “save the planet”… actually, the planet will be just fine, it’s the biosphere we are destroying which limits our survival options, nothing more. Yes, we are destroying it for other species but at the same time, we are merely destroying our, and others’, viability not that of the planet itself.

    So what’s a mother to do?

  82. Concerned Avatar


    You HIT the NAIL on the HEAD squarely ! I watched a show on Discovery the other day called “Life after Man” it was quite an interesting show, and it was interesting to note, how the wolves will again, thrive if man were gone, all the way to the point of basically being one of the most prolific species….but no matter which side of the coin your on, man is indeed the Biggest problem..

  83. Heather Avatar

    Concerned: I am not presuming – its obvious.

  84. Concerned Avatar


    And why is that?

  85. Heather Avatar

    How about giving me your name and we can go through this again.

  86. Concerned Avatar

    What does my name have to do with my position?

  87. Concerned Avatar

    but on the off chance, it does mean something, my first name is David

  88. Heather Avatar

    Gee David: still neutral I see. I dont have any interest in this conversation actually. Maybe another time. On a different neutral subject.

  89. Concerned Avatar

    Why would I post more, you only post your first name, but I agree, we are in disagreement over the position I hold, I have no problem with that..on to other things

  90. Catbestland Avatar

    Getting back to the mange issue. Salle, yes, I would agree that if mange became part of the equation as a natural process, then wolves should be left alone to let the disease run it’s course. However I believe that delisting should not occur until this threat has passed. If there is the slightest chance that the disease has been introduced by human tactics, I am for treating the ailment if that is possible. I definately think that an investigation into the matter of whether or not humans have done this should ensue. If this can be proven then, those involved should be prosecuted just as if they had illegally shot or poisoned the endangered species. The cards are just too heavilly stacked against wolves especially with the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan in the works. It would be a perfect world if nature were allowed to work out it’s problems on it’s own. I just don’t think we are there yet considering the mentallity of local wolf haters and the extent to which they have proven they will go to erradicate wolves.

  91. Concerned Avatar

    I have to agree with Cat on this last post, if there is evidence that human involvement is happening in this outbreak, then it should be investigated, and if it poses a big threat, then delay de-listing until such time as the ramifications can be ascertained. My ONLY problem was I have not seen any evidence that humans have caused this current outbreak, anywhere other than on this blog…but do agree if illegal activities are going on they should be investigated and prosecuted as any other crime.

  92. Heather Avatar

    Delisting should be stopped NOW. Hopefully with the current litigation here in Montana, the court will place an injunction on this rule and have the states go back to the drawing board. Idaho’s rules are incredulous. (see Wolves can be shot for harassing/hunting ungulates (their main food source), harassing pets, or outfitters animals, hikers, and of harassing/hunting of livestock (as before). The new 10J is suited toward outfitters, hunters and livestock owners. Where are the needs of wildlife watchers’ met? Stats show most Idahoans watch wildlife, not hunt. see above listed wolf plan reference for this stat) Steve Nadeau’s opinion of them is not based on science, but what he thinks. (See defenders YouTube video for him speaking about this issue. If you want the exact reference I’ll find it) There is illegal human involvement now, such as baiting ( see as well as natural diseases such as parvo, mange and other diseases dogs would get, cold winter weather, and of course culling because of livestock predation. (which seems to be the first response anymore.) I have personally seen wolf control reports from people who insist livestock or pet predations were wolves, but FWS found out kills were by neighbors dogs (for ex., See Dec 19, So the irrational fear will be listened to more with the new 10J , rather than an enviornment of tolerance. I am glad that senators wrote to Kempthorne about the hostile environment toward wolves in the west, and that now is not a great time for delisting. So, I think the point of this blog was to show that the show up of mange could possibly be a step in the direction of protection for canis lupis. Lets hope so!!!

  93. Heather Avatar
    Heather is the reference for Steve Nadeau’s non scientific talk. I like David Mech’s work much better. I wish Idaho would refer to the biologists and scientists that know what they are talking about for the wolf ‘REcovery’ process.

  94. Buffaloed Avatar

    Mange has been present in coyotes since before the reintroduction. I don’t know why you all are fighting over this. It was brought in with the intention of killing wolves a long time ago and remained in other animals. When the wolves were returned they contracted mange from coyotes or some other animal and now it has spread into the park. If you look through the weekly wolf reports or any of Ralph’s old reports it is quite evident that the Paradise Valley has had a problem with mange since the beginning of the wolf project and that this is not a new problem.

    There has also been a problem with distemper or parvo virus that has remained in animal populations. These diseases are not recent arrivals and have not dramatically impacted the wolf population over the long term.

    There are conspiracies to eradicate wolves but these problems are not likely part of that. Even if they were they wouldn’t be adding anything that isn’t already present.

    I’m not sure what anyone can do about mange at this point and, just like brucellosis, it will never be eradicated from the GYE.

  95. Jay Avatar


    I’m curious–if a wolf was in your yard attacking your dog, would you not want the right to protect your companion? What about your horse, what if you were in a backcountry site horse camping, and wolves were attacking one of your favorite (and expensive) horses…wouldn’t you want the right to protect your animal? And I’m not saying this as a wolf “hater”–I appreciate all wildlife, including wolves. However, I don’t know that I would stand by and watch wolves kill my pet or livestock. So even though state rules allow you to shoot any animal that’s attacking your pets/livestock, you’re saying wolves should be exempt from that?

  96. Jay Avatar

    One more thing Heather–you say you like David Mech’s work better. Ok, fine. So that means you’re all for heavy harvest then, because that’s what Mech says with regard to managing wolf populations. I’m paraphrasing here, but Dave M. says that wolf populations require fairly heavy removal just to control (not reduce) populations once they reach a certain level.

  97. Heather Avatar

    Jay: predation rates on pets and livestock are very low in comparison to how many millions of cattle are in this country and pet dogs. If I had a wolf in my backyard I’d have my camera out. If he/she were milling about needing food I’d sure as hell put my dog inside. They would move on. They dont want to see me. My horse would be in a barn at night. I would do things to minimize the conflict. NOt that hard to coexist. I really dont want to live in a country that has nothing but friggin cows and pigeons.

  98. Heather Avatar

    Jay: What paper are you referring to exactly regarding heavy harvest of wolves. Remember you used the word heavy. If you would be so kind as to give me the title to that paper I would appreciate it.

  99. Heather Avatar

    Mech wrote a statement he would repeat throughout his career: “. . . for the sake of successful, long-range conservation of the wolf in Minnesota, some individual wolves will have to be sacrificed.” (Ely institute website) He is using the word ‘some’ here, but since he is a trapper/hunter he may advocate for more culling than other scientists. I like his work with the wolves in the arctic. It shows a real care for the animal. As well as his research on wolves and problems with global warming/prey in the arctic.

  100. Heather Avatar

    more info re: your comment Jay about heavy wolf culling: see for comments regarding this issue (Mech calling for a heavy cull). As usual there are two sides to the story, if not more.

  101. Jay Avatar

    It wasn’t in a paper, it was comments he made at a meeting. Can’t remember where I read it, but that’s what he said. You don’t have to believe me, but feel free to do a search on the internet or send him an e-mail if you doubt it. As for your comments on pets, so what if the number of incidents is low compared to the number of cows? If its your dog that’s killed, I doubt you’re going to be too concerned at the stocking rate at that moment. And how is a person supposed to keep a horse in a barn when camping out? I think there are many people who don’t want to be put in a situation where they have to shoot a wolf, but a person has a right to protect their property. Lastly, what was that link you posted about? All I saw were 3 comments in a thread saying Dr Mech the wolf expert is cow dung. No idea what you were getting at with that…

  102. Heather Avatar

    Jay:That thread is much longer than 3 comments. Go down to the bottom and push ‘Next’. Its pages long… read the comments of’Grace’ a seemingly active wolf activist. She is right.
    I’ve aleady done enough internet search to see what I need to see. I dont see anywhere on the net that David Mech proposes a heavy cull on wolves. The Feds gave the power to the states, and of course the states (Idaho, MT and WY) being mostly owned by livestock and outfitters choose to kill wolves. Wolves are the scapegoat. No one is talking about the effect of fire. Out of state hunters are probably really asking about the threat of fire. (Which is a threat to wolves as well by the way) But there has historically been a need to kill wolves – makes them feel like men I guess. I’m surprised homo sapiens can last this long.

  103. Jay Avatar

    Read through this for more on Mech’s stance on wolf population management:

  104. Jay Avatar

    You linked the last page, that’s why there was really nothing of substance there.

  105. Heather Avatar

    Jay: hmm Idaho statesman sounds right away pretty biased to me but I’ll give it a shot. Yes, I linked the last page, and there is a bunch of substance there – you can go to previous to see PREVIOUS pages. I didn’t think I had to spoon this out for you, but there you go. Seems like you should know how to read a blog if you can read this one.

  106. Jay Avatar

    Seems like you would know how to link the page with the content you’re intending someone to read, rather than a random page, but there you go. And what’s there, you call substance? Wow. Yes, I’m sure the Idaho Stateman made up the comments by Mech too.

  107. Wendy Avatar

    Jay, Heather, etc – Here are the relevant comments by Mech from the Idaho Statesman article:

    “Mech, senior research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and a University of Minnesota adjunct professor, is regarded as the pre-eminent wolf biologist in the United States, if not the world.

    His study of wolf-moose relationships on Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior, redefined science’s understanding of predator-prey relationships.

    He has argued for decades that for wolves to be recovered in the lower 48 states, they need to be controlled, hunted and legally killed when they continually kill livestock.

    They are very prolific and actually become more productive in the face of rising mortality.

    Once their numbers become large, such as the current 1,500 wolves that live in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, their population will continue to grow as long as it can expand and it has a healthy food source.

    “They may never go down,” Mech said. “I don’t know any way you’ll get them down legally.”

    Smith is the chief wolf researcher in Yellowstone National Park. He has studied Yellowstone’s wolves since they were reintroduced in 1995. A former student and colleague of Mech, he disagrees that the growth of the wolf population cannot be halted or reversed.

    “They stopped population growth in Wyoming through legal killing outside Yellowstone Park,” Smith said.

    The situation is different in the West than in the Midwest and the Arctic, where Mech has most of his experience, Smith said. “Wolves are a lot more vulnerable here than they are there,” Smith said. “They all have to come down to valley bottoms here, and everybody knows it.”

    Despite his differences with Mech, Smith said he is in philosophical agreement with the stated philosophy of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

    Its managers say they want to focus on reducing wolf conflicts and allowing them to thrive where they aren’t causing problems.

    Mech agrees. “I think that’s a good approach,” Mech said. “We’ve been advocating that for years. “There are places where wolves can’t live with humans, there are places wolves should be, and places in between.”


    Note: no use of the words “heavy cull”.

    Note: Mech’s use of the word “legally” which in this context I take to mean “within current ESA restrictions”, which I further take to mean he favors delisting now (which does not equal being in favor of “heavy cull”, although it could be argued that he believes it will likely come to that anyway in certain livestock-heavy areas, via either de-listing or application of the “new” 10j rule).

    Note context: “…they need to be killed…when they continually kill livestock.” I see a direct correlation between this and his statement “there are places where wolves can’t live with humans”. For myself, I would suggest the reverse is more accurately true – that there are places where humans can’t live with wolves – because they don’t think they ought to make the effort.

    But ultimately, I see nothing here to be outraged about. The charge that Dr. Mech has changed his tune or that there is some serious disagreement between him and Dr. Smith is manufactured and does not hold up.

    The headline on the linked chat page that the wolf-supporting community feels betrayed by Dr. Mech is entirely misleading and deliberately provacative.

    If Dr. Mech did call for a “heavy cull” in areas where wolves are not causing repeated problems with livestock, then I hope someone will kindly provide that evidence.

    Regarding mange in YNP wolves – I would like to know if there is reason to believe that an otherwise healthy population of wolves can survive an “outbreak” of mange, i.e. can they develop immunity? If there is a good chance that most wolves will survive exposure to this disease, then I would favor the current “policy” of doing nothing. However, if science believes that the population is at risk of a massive die-off, then I would actually favor culling the infected animals rather than initiating some kind of medical intervention. My opinion is that it would be wrong-headed to try to make a natural environment like YNP disease-free. Of course if there is actual evidence of human introduction of a disease, accidental or deliberate, I may view it differently.

  108. Concerned Avatar

    Wendy Said:

    “My opinion is that it would be wrong-headed to try to make a natural environment like YNP disease-free. Of course if there is actual evidence of human introduction of a disease, accidental or deliberate, I may view it differently.”

    Another Nail on the head statement, at this point in the game, there is no evidence, nada, …..what happened 103 years ago, in my opinion has no bearing whats so ever on the current events, different time, different place, different attitude…If evidence comes to light that there is a man made connection, then of course it needs to be investigated and prosecuted..

  109. Jay Avatar


    It wasn’t my intention to suggest Dr. Mech is somehow changing his tune to use your phrase. I have a great deal of respect for him, not only for the work he’s done, but for his ability to present his research objectively without injecting the emotional biases that come with becoming so intimately familiar with a long-studied species. Rather, I was pointing out to Heather that DM recognizes the need for wolf management, which means killing wolves for chronic livestock depredation, allowing people the ability to protect their pets and livestock (not locking them in a barn, as she suggests) as well as acknowledging the fact that wolf populations are more than capable of sustaining an annual hunt. And even though it doesn’t say it specifically in that article, I have read comments by Dr. Mech suggesting that heavy harvest is required to stabilize wolf populations.

  110. Wendy Avatar

    Hi Jay,

    I forgot to include my comment on your “what would you do if…” question to Heather.

    The scenario of wolves attacking one’s prized horses while one is camped in the back-country is something I don’t think has actually happened, although I have heard many anti-wolf people worry out loud about it, and I have heard them tell stories in which they incorrectly assume that a curious wild animal noticing them from a distance means the animal is “unafraid of man” and therefore about to do them harm. I am amused that the question so often includes a “prized” or “favorite” animal (as if ordinary stock animals are not worthy of defending), but I would support your “right” to defend your stock or anything else from any wolf that actually attempts to harm it – same as I would if the animal were a bear, a cougar or an enraged moose. However, if someone is lucky enough to spend leisure time in country where wild animals are present, I would fully expect that person to take sensible precautions to avoid encouraging such an animal into camp – to set a watch if need be (such as a hunting camp with bloody meat) and to make every attempt to frighten the animal away before taking lethal steps.

    You didn’t ask me, but I hope you don’t mind my response.

  111. Wendy Avatar

    One more thing – if you are going to repeatedly use the phrase “heavy harvest” (with its hunting connotations) in your posts as something you believe Dr. Mech has specifically advocated, then I think it is fair to expect you to provide a supporting document.

  112. Jay Avatar

    Sorry, I don’t recall where I read that…like I said in a previous post, you don’t have to take my word for it, but I have no reason to make it up. Furthermore, although he doesn’t say it outright in the ID Stateman article, I think it’s pretty well implied. As for wolves attacking horses, I don’t know about the backcountry, but wolves have been documented to kill horses, so it does happen. I believe an outfitter shot a wolf a few months back for getting in to his horses in Northern Idaho (I’ll have to go back through the wolf weeklies and doublecheck). The reason I used the favorite horse comment is some people really look at their stock as equipment-moving units and not living, breathing animals, sad as that is. As far as adding your .02 cents, I appreciate it, and I fully agree with you everyone should have the right to protect their property, so long as folks are using the backcountry with due diligence appropriate for their wild surroundings (i.e., highlining your horses near camp, rather than hobbled and wandering at night, keeping dogs leashed, etc.). You have this right for every other potentially dangerous animal (save for endangered grizzlies), wolves should be no different.

  113. Heather Avatar

    Thanks Wendy for the clarification on ‘heavy cull’. I appreciate your work.

    The rest of you need to go back to kindergarten (Jay and Concerned).

  114. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    About the Idaho Statesman article. I read it, but didn’t find it up to Barker’s usual well crafted writing. I didn’t put a link to it.

    I’m not sure what Mech told Barker, but I had talked with Doug Smith in Yellowstone at about the same time Barker talked with him and Smith didn’t say anything to me that had much resemblance to the what appeared in the article.
    Smith has to be careful. Government employees have to parse their words in the current political environment, but my impression was that he thought it would fairly easy to shoot a lot of wolves if the states allowed it. He did tell me that Montana, Idaho and Wyoming wolf country is not at all like Minnesota, so anyone has to be careful generalizing about population growth and control

    Mech apparently has gone out on a limb and is talking about the need to reduce some wolf populations at lot, but this opinion of his doesn’t seem have appeared in any of his many referred articles.

  115. Heather Avatar

    Thanks Ralph for some truthful clarification. FYI, my point about Mech to begin with was his many years of research- not necessarily the current ‘need’ to cull wolves. I can respect one biologist for some of his/her points, but perhpas not all of their beliefes. For instance I know Mech is a trapper, and I’m not quite into that, but that doesn’t negate my respect for his other research. My point has been taken out of proportion to suit the needs of those who want or belive in a ‘heavy’ wolf cull. Personally I think the ‘heavy’ wolf cull is a justified political propaganda for livestock owners, outfitters and perhaps hunters. The science does not appear in the ID 10J, as I had originally said.

  116. wolf gal Avatar
    wolf gal

    For anyone wanting to read more on mange try this article…

  117. wolf gal Avatar
    wolf gal

    In response to Linda Hunter:
    about radio collars . . there IS another way. For those of you who are interested please look at this website:…….

    Until FIT can confidently identify over 80 individual wolf tracks in various substrates in YNP, including snow, it will not replace VHF and GPS radio collars. I’m not saying that this won’t happen. But I’m trying to find something on FIT’s website that would make me think that this would be remotely possible. I’ve visited their website and there is no mention anywhere on how it can be applied to areas other than Africa or other non-arid countries. In Africa they may find pristine tracks in sand or mud. I work in the wildlife field in the Yellowstone area and I very rarely find such detailed tracks. So until FIT can come and do a trial in Yellowstone, and collect more data with the same degree of accuracy as GPS collars, it’s just not going to work. FIT is a novel idea that could help many other wildlife projects, and it could supplement the already on going research with wolves in Yellowstone, however, it just won’t replace VHF and GPS collars completely.

  118. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    Speaking about collaring, there are rumours that a grey Druid only very slowly recovered 4 hours after being darted and while he was still weak was badly beaten by two unknown wolves. Other rumours on the YNP blog even say he was killed but that seems wrong.

  119. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This Druid pup was briefly attacked by one of two non-Druid gray wolves (pack unknown) that came down out of the trees. They wouldn’t have darted the pup if these wolves had been detected first.

    The pup wasn’t hurt much; maybe not at all.

    Dan Stahler told me today that the pup was seen yesterday with the rest of the wolves and seemed completely healthy.


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