Another story on the "howlbox". . . this one in the NYT.

A Bid to Lure Wolves With a Digital Call of the Wild. By Kirk Johnson. New York Times.

I have mixed feelings — every wolf tracked by the authorities just like those protecting us from the terrorists want to track our every move.





  1. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    My worry is that this device will get in the hands of folks that would use it to find and kill the wolves….I am sure it can be duplicated.

  2. SAP Avatar

    April – I wouldn’t worry about that. If someone wants to illegally use electronic howls to hunt wolves, that kind of thing is already available. So are remote-controlled speakers and robotic bunnies to keep the predator focused on something besides the shooter while the animal comes in to investigate the sounds.

    Presumably, with Wyoming’s “predator” classification for most of the state, those technologies could be used LEGALLY there to hunt wolves.

    The innovation about the howlbox is that it can be left in the field without someone there, and it can give us an idea of how many wolves howl back. Those features aren’t of any great use to someone who just wants to kill a wolf. They just want to howl them up, get them within rifle range, and take a shot.

  3. Linda Hunter Avatar

    I thought at one time researches had decided that howling might make wolves move out of their territory thinking that another pack is there. Perhaps that is just when dispersing wolves are looking for a spot to settle.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t know of any evidence that howling makes wolves move (except maybe briefly). They certainly notice howls, can recognize individual howls, number of wolves, and what they signify.

    I recall that feature on television about the man who lived with a wolf pack. He thought setting up recorded howls for a Polish farmer would help, but there was no follow-up on the farmer he thought he’d helped.

  5. Buffaloed Avatar

    I doubt that howling would make wolves leave their territory, especially if the pack is established. Pack territories are established more than with just howling, there is also scent marking and patrolling of borders and pushing into other pack territories. I assume that there is also a lot of research that has gone into the development of these boxes and the types of howls used. There are many different messages that can be conveyed with howls and the boxes probably use a howl that is not aggressive.

  6. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    April – I wouldn’t worry about that. If someone wants to illegally use electronic howls to hunt wolves, that kind of thing is already available. So are remote-controlled speakers and robotic bunnies to keep the predator focused on something besides the shooter while the animal comes in to investigate the sounds.

    Now that is down right wrong!!!! whom ever hunts like that should be shot themselves, right between the legs!!

  7. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Could wolf-hunters bait wolves the way bear hunters can bait bears? Bait plus a howlbox might be a deadly combination. I find it interesting that hunters who claim they hunt deer/elk/moose to put “meat on the table” have no moral issue with killing wolves or bears and leaving the meat in the field. Nor do game laws require them to salvage the meat. How do you argue, “we’re not killing bears and wolves for fun and sport, and don’t you dare label us as trophy hunters; it’s OK to kill bears and wolves and waste the carcass because . . .”

  8. Joe Avatar

    Here is a story about wolves in Utah andit includes the use of digital calls by biologists to confirm their presence

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The Montana FWP Parks Commission specifically prohibited this kind of hunting when they recently met and set up the hunt.

    I don’t know what limitations Idaho put use of certain techniques. I think they may be waiting until their May meeting to establish these.

  10. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the only thing idaho has had to say, to my knowledge, is that hunting techniques will become increasingly aggressive to achieve sought after quotas should less aggressive measures not prove effective at culling to the desired levels in different conflict regions ~ i.e. regions determined to be ‘high conflict’, whatever that is supposed to mean, will allow more aggressive hunts ~ and of course the inverse, which is hunts and techniques will become increasingly restrictive should numbers approach 150 in the state.

    but Ralph is right ~ they pushed specifics further into spring

  11. Brian Ertz Avatar

    also, one of the complaints that folk voiced during the public hearing in Hailey (remember – none of the other presentations involved a formal hearing in the state where folk were allowed to speak before all in attendance) was that the floor number for initiating more restrictive techniques and hunts were at absurdly low population numbers — there was, and still is to my knowledge no informed buffer that passes any meaningful test.

    that is to say ~ the wording of the plan and the description presented allowed for rock-bottom numbers before any mechanism was tripped to reduce hunts or restrict aggressive technique.

    Page 29 of the March 6 approved Idaho Plan

    Harvest opportunity can
    be altered through harvest quotas, season length and timing, bag limits, method of take, and other
    regulatory tools depending on objectives (Table 7.1). Hunting and trapping opportunities would
    be reduced or terminated if wolf populations drop to ≤20 breeding pairs statewide in order to
    provide an adequate buffer to allow annual harvest opportunity as well as flexibility to manage

    20 breeding pair is where the breaks begin ~ what does this number have to do with maintenance of viable population – contiguity ? nothing ~ ‘conflict’ is the standard.

    it’s time to remove the conflict from federal public lands


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