Wyoming Wolf – ‘Once In A Lifetime’







  1. Jim Avatar

    Wow, he definetly has a skewed view of reality.

  2. vicki Avatar

    This is going to do what Saunders calims not to have done…stir the pot.
    He shows some willingness to bend. Eventually wolves will be hunted, there is no way around it, no doubt about it. But they shoudl be hunted as a trophy game species. Only then can you take their actual numbers into account, their location, and their prey base.
    Shooting wolves on sight is a complete load of bunk, they do not reproduce or hunt like vermin, Hunting them that way is wrong.
    He points out something key, hunting them should be truly a “Once in a Lifetime” experience. He shows that there is a demand for trophy hunting, based on the hunt, not the kill.
    As far as the wolves creating mayhem among moose, and killing elk they don’t eat, well it seems a lot like hear-say. For an outfitter, he sure lacked in the area of comfirmation, he most certainly should have known how to find the kills. By not knowing of verifying his infor, he fuels speculation and hysteria. Shame on him.
    I give him credit for trying to point out what he feels has legitimately happened to his livelihood, but I think he needs a reality check about what the true cause and effect are.
    He seems somewhat flexible. He might be one of those guys who would be willing to back off current management if the possibility of a trophy hunt wa still on the table. He is the type of person you might be able to compromise with.

  3. JB Avatar

    I don’t even know where to start…

    “…wolves plague the upper Gros Ventres year-round where his hunting camp is located, …leaving fewer nice adults for paying clients to come and hunt – affecting his livelihood.”


    “…there will be eight to 10 elk they just hamstrung and killed,” Saunders said. “They didn’t eat any of them.”

    —And your presence didn’t have anything to do with that?

    “…Saunders and two friends set out on their snowmachines”

    —Sounds like a true hunter! I’m sure it took a tremendous effort to follow a fresh set of tracks in the snow on a snowmobile. He should be proud.

    And then the title, “Wyoming Wolf – ‘Once In A Lifetime’”

    —Once in a lifetime my ass. He’s just shown that any idiot with a gun and a snowmobile can kill a wolf.

    Again, I don’t have a problem with hunting wolves. But riding them down with goddamn snowmobiles… So much for fair chase.

  4. Gerry Miner Avatar
    Gerry Miner

    “If lawsuits shut down hunting wolves in Wyoming’s predator area after April 28 (when Earthjustice has indicated it will file suit against the final delisting and 10(j) rules), Saunders said his young son might never have the same chance to hunt a wolf as he’s had this spring.”
    How about that my children might never even SEE a wolf, much less have the ability to KILL one. And in such a cowardly way–by snowmobile?!! Get off your gas guzzling, polluting, lazy man’s machine and walk, like the wolf did, over hill and dale, if you really have to have that “once in a lifetime experience”–even though it probably isn’t once in a lifetime given that he found another wolf a few days later!!
    People like this make me sick.

  5. vicki Avatar

    I agree about the lack of sportsmeanship it takes to ride a snowmobile, but they hunt lions with dogs all the time.
    What we really need to do is focus on what we actually have a CHANCE of changing here. How wolves are listed, and what type of hunt they’d be.
    This guy Saunders says he wants his son to be able to hunt a wolf, that would require some being available to hunt. Point in fact, that requires conserving the species… that is a good thing in it’s perverted way.
    Secondly, this man shot a wolf in spring, which is a bad time to do so… that needs to be changed. Spring is crucial, as thepack hunts to support the newborn offspring, they need their numbers then especially, to enable the wolves to have a chance at maintaining their species. That is something that having a regulated trophy hunt could help with.
    I am no fan of hunting on any type of machinery, you may as well sit in your truck, and fire away. But that is maybe, I repeat maybe, something else we could fight to regulate.
    There needs to be a plan, that will eventually allow for wolves to be hunted. What we can do is have a plan in place that may fly with hunters.
    SO what we need to consider is what we don’t want as part of that plan, and what we do want?
    So maybe we start with what this guy has said… he says he enjoys the hunt and sees it as a once in a lifetime.
    SO maybe then initially, the hunt should limit the times a hunter can be drawn for wolf, like moose and sheep in Colorado.
    Maybe we ask that no hunting using snowmobiles or motorized vehicles off road be allowed.
    Maybe then we say that biologists should be able to analyze packs and numbers and give a quota on the number of wolves per area can be drawn and taken.
    Also, the biologists can give the dates for hunts in effort to assure that packs can be more viable and productive.
    Let’s face it, this guy had his once in a lifetime, which he went out to repeat shortly there after. (negates the title)
    But despite the one carcass he nabbed, he may have caused an alpha female her meal ticket, and therefore compromised her ability to keep her young alive.
    Some things we will never get, some things we might. Choose the battle you enter wisely, analyze your enemy, work their weakness and use it to win. But go into it with your eyes open, you can win a war, but you will not change the thoughts of those you defeat, and you always have the cost involved with cleaning up the mess left behind.

  6. Gerry Miner Avatar
    Gerry Miner

    Very well said, Vicki

  7. vicki Avatar

    Thanks Gerry.

  8. JB Avatar

    “I agree about the lack of sportsmeanship it takes to ride a snowmobile, but they hunt lions with dogs all the time.”

    True; but that’s a lousy analogy. Hunting with dogs requires training and maintaining hunting dogs; moreover, Lion hunters also presumably follow on foot. Thus, it does require some skill and effort. Chasing an animal down with a snowmobile and then shooting it requires no skill (other than shooting) and very little effort.

    This guy should not be allowed to hunt, let alone guide.

  9. vicki Avatar

    I know of some hunters in Colorado that take the dogs on the back of and ATV well into the forest. Sucks!!!!
    There is a level of skill with dogs. True, I conceed. But the point I was making is that many people perceive the dogs as an unfair advantage too. (With cats I tend to agree).
    There have been efforts to ban hunting with dogs over the years. They have been unsuccesful. Do we want the snowmobile to be our focus? I say there are more concerning things to tend to, first, or as a part of the whole package.

  10. vicki Avatar

    We need to be careful that we don’t play into the anti-wolf people’s arguement. We can’t give anyone the impression, however wrong it may be, that we say we’ll allow hunting, but are merely waiting to pull the plug on that too.
    They will use our emotional resistence and reaction to claim that is our true agenda. They’ve had a lot of fuel for the flame lately, given the number of wolves killed in the first few weeks of delisting. I just hope we don’t give them ammunition to shoot us with.

  11. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Yes, as a hunter, I’ll add my “yeah right, whatever” comment to the “hunting” aspect of this tale. Hey buddy, ever head of snowshoes? Does the term “fair chase” mean anything to you?

    But, my real beef is with the “reporter” who wrote the story. The outfitting industry’s claims that wolves are ruining the hunting in that particular area go completely unchallenged. That’s just substandard work. You don’t print one side of a controversial issue without at least trying to get the other side. At least that’s what I learned in journalism school and from all the editors I worked for.

    Well, yes, I can see how a tiny paper right there in Sublette County might not want to take those risks. But if this reporter ever moves on to a bigger paper where at least some level of actual professionalism is expected, she’s in for one heck of a rude awakening about the first time she turns in such a poorly done, one-sided story.

  12. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    “…wolves plague the upper Gros Ventres year-round where his hunting camp is located, …leaving fewer nice adults for paying clients to come and hunt – affecting his livelihood.”

    Is this the United States, or Europe? Last time I checked, game here was not supposed to be a cash crop for the entertainment of “paying clients.”

    Or am I wrong… and is it now just not kosher for wolves or the average Joe to take their share of “the King’s” game?

  13. vicki Avatar

    You are not wrong. And I’d say outfitters not willing to look for the trophy are straight up lazy.
    The flip side will be them saying that is how they have supported their family for years, yadayada…
    They (cattlemen, outfitters, etc.) have never supported to argument that wolves are the cause of lower numbers of elk. Now they will just have to work a bit harder for their bucks-no pun intended.
    The reporter is no differnet than most in Monatna, Wyoming or Idaho…stating what line she is fed regardless of validity or signifigance. Journalism also tells us that quoting a source doesn’t require that the source be accurate…as long as you heard it, you can quote it.
    Next thing you know we will hear how wolves have eaten all the bison in YNP.
    But this remains, we can learn something from this guy. We should use it to our advantage.

  14. Monty Avatar

    Great comments! The only thing I can add is that the “lookers” out number the “shooters” & the only opportunity for the lookers to view wolves in the “wild”( in the lower 48) is in Yellowstone & Glacier & Teton NP’s and you would have to be very, very lucky to see a wolf in Glacier NP. In the temperate regions of the world, there are two special areas left, relatively unfragmented, which are the Yellowstone & Glacier ecosystems where all wildlife, at least in the parks, have a measure of security. I guess I am unreasonable in believing that humans should, expand & not shrink, protection for all wildlife in these special places. We don’t need anymore “killing fields”.

  15. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Vicki I understand your wanting to go for a battle you can win. . but both farm and trophy hunting are going to ruin hunting for those who hunt honorably. (I don’t hunt despite my last name). The thing about this article that struck me is that here is a guy who thinks killing something to hang on the wall is a thrill of a lifetime yet a short time later he is accusing the wolves of killing for fun as if that is the most terrible sin imaginable. The trophy hunter takes the remains of an animal, has the taxidermist give the animal a fierce and terrible countenance and the true nature, personality and character of the animal is lost for better bragging rights. If the mankind were honest, trophy hunting would be considered a social sickness, sort of like pulling the wings off flies.

  16. vicki Avatar

    That is quite the comparison.
    The simple thing to see here is that this guy is neither intellegent, nor wise. But he is typical of a large group of voters. For generations anti-hunting groups have been the loser in the fight to end killing. That will not change.
    You could no sooner get people to stop hunting than you could get them to stop killing eachother in the name of religion.
    I see that you mourne the loss of every animal you know is killed. With out compromise, your loss will be much larger.
    I grew up hunting, and eating wild game. I know that doesn’t suite some people’s tastes, but it was not a big rush of ego… it was the start of my path to conservation.
    Say what you will, but hunters and anglers are by far the largset contributers to conservation. They probably have had something to do with preserving an area you track in. They (meaning the non-backward ass red necks) see the same need, just for different reasons, as most of us here. Hunters/anglers(the true sportsmen) are bound to the respect they have for their quary. They see their game as a worthy adversary, and right or wrong, most of them don’t just shoot for the fun of killing. It is far more than that to them.
    Like it or not, humans have shifted evolution, and demolished habitat. Animals are limited in their ability to maintain themselves or their habitat.
    We can’t expect to just let them all roam free, that would be a bit too unrealistic. Just as we have limited their habitat, we have limited their freedom. People aren’t going anywhere, you won’t remove them from all places wild. So we have to do what we can.

  17. Ryan Avatar

    I find it sad that most are so quick to debunk what the outfitter has to say.. Espicially seeing as how he is in the woods 3-4 months out of the year outfitting in wolf country and lives in wolf country. I think that the ancedotal evidence he is pointing out has to make some sense and carry some weight, unless you want put your head completely in the sand.

    As for following a wolf for 35 miles on a snowmobile, It doesn’t cound easy to me. I would still be willing to bet that there were miles and miles of walking involved in the tracking of said wolf.

    I see hysteria quoted on both sides here.

    “As far as the wolves creating mayhem among moose, and killing elk they don’t eat, well it seems a lot like hear-say. For an outfitter, he sure lacked in the area of comfirmation, he most certainly should have known how to find the kills. By not knowing of verifying his infor, he fuels speculation and hysteria”

    “How about that my children might never even SEE a wolf, much less have the ability to KILL one”

    Dogs are the most ethical tool to harvest cougars.. In the states where hound hunting has been banned there have been issues more issues with problem cats than states where it is allowed. Hound hunters know there target and selectively take animals, where as with no hounds cougars are shot on site by hunters when the chance arrives upping the chances of females with cubs etc being harvested. Hound hunters selectively harvest adult males with opens up more territory for younger males keeping the population stable while still allowing for take. Hound hunting cant be that bad for cats because that is how 99% of biologists get there collars on cats in the first place. Running them with dogs and then tranquilizing them and collaring them.

    These hunts are once in a lifetime for many easterners who don’t have the gear. Outfitters in Wyoming don’t sell tags, the provide the gear and transportation which is relatively inexpensive compared to buying it. Its no different imho than paying for a guided horseback tour etc. Hal read idaho’s elk herd reports (its on the IDFG website) in many units where wolves are present, the herds are declining, with low calf recruitment where as the units that do not have wolves present are not facing that problem. If there article is so biased towards outfitters, why then are 50+% of the operations around yellowstone for sale? I’ll give you a hint its not because hunting is so good they are selling for a big profit..

  18. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    If outfitters poor mouth the hunt, they will tend to go out of business even if the hunting is great.

    I trust the studies done in Yellowstone Park where carcasses are watched closely and detailed statistics gathered rather than anecdotes from outfitters. Carcasses don’t go to waste and wolves rarely kill more than they eat because hunting is hard work and it is dangerous.

    Read the Yellowstone wolf report they put out each year.

  19. vicki Avatar

    The man wasn’t talking about a once in a lifetime elk hunt, he was talking about hunting the wolf he shot, and in the next breath was saying he went back to get another one…once in a lifetime for who? Him, no, the wolf absolutely.
    You can presume that hunting cougars with dogs in the best sporting and most human way of hunting them, I wasn’t really arguing it’s ethics. I was talking about using non-human means to hunt game.
    You paint this guy as quite the hunter… I say he is lazy. But again, my point was that he is like many people in the area concerned.
    There was a time when outfitters had to do more than ride in on their snowmoblie to a herd they knew would be there. I guess in some ways that time is back. They may have to put some effort into it.
    FYI, I spend about 168 days a year outdoors. I do it without making a profit, but I still do it. It doesn’t require that much effort. And as far as outfitters doing hard work, well unless those outfitters are horses, mules, or Llamas I doubt their backs are too broken.
    And by the way, your research is a bit faulty. Inmost areas I have read about herd size was declining BEFORE wolf reintroduction. Now how do you differentiate between drought, and depredation, and loss of flora due to freakin’ cows and sheep.
    Contribute something productive Ryan, I challenge you. Put forth a solution you think would help, and satisfy, all parties involved. A solution that won’t be one sided or a joke…try it.

  20. vicki Avatar

    By the way Ryan, while you cry foul over outfitters not making it, or ranchers having to move cattle….why don’t you consider how many rangers and wildlife officers will be unemployed if people like you had their way…how many small businesses in West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Cooke City and Jackson would be done for? What about the kids that never see a live wolf outside a museum or zoo. What about the guy who can’t afford to pay an outfitter? He isn’t entitled to hunt on public land? Hunting is down there, partially in part to the effects of ranching on the ecosystems…so when will people who aren’t rich get their opportuntiy to hunt?

  21. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    That was mostly venting on my part.
    I have mixed feelings about outfitters. On one hand, many good, decent hard hunters who live somewhere else do need a guide to help them along — at least for the first season or so out here. Many guys hire outfitters becasue they want to do it right, and become better hunters themselves. That, I have no problem with.

    But the problem is, in the larger picture, it turns it into a money/profit game. It it does attract many very lazy “hunters” who just want to be led around and pampered.. and have five sub-guides go out and scout their trophy for them… so they can hike a little ways to it and shoot it.

    As for the criticism of trophy hunting… it’s like anything else. There are people who do it for the right reasons. They are such skilled hunters, they want more of a challenge, and will hike farther, camp out longer and hunt harder than many guys are willing to. Even on guided hunts, they will bust their tails and do it the hard way. Those guys tend to enjoy the meat as much as anybody else. A steak from a big buck cooks the same as a steak from a small one.

    And then, again, there are those who hire an outfitter, so they can just be hand-led to a “big one” and then brag about how mighty they are.

    Anyway, I understand outfitters have a steak in all of this, but I think things tip too much in their favor sometimes, because that’s where the money is. And again, in principle, in the United States, game herds are NOT supposed to be about money and profit.

  22. Ryan Avatar

    Neither was I please try and read it twice before responding. Hal was talking about hunters the outfitter guided. He wasn’t talking about outfitting in his story about his wolf hunt. The areas that he is talking about is a horse back in remote camp, which is alot of work.. Its obivious you have never been on one of these adventures, there is little easy about it. Go on one you’ll see what I am talking about, they have one of the hardest jobs out there. I spend a ton of time in the wilderness my self not for profit either (far from it) I do it because I enjoy all aspects of the outdoors. This is how he makes his living though, thats the difference.

    Your just aimlessly ranting in your second post so I will answer quickly.. Anyone can hunt public land, ( there are some exceptions in wildernes areas in WY and AK) it is challenging though when you live in the east and have to go blindly into a new area. I have never said to eradicate all wolves, I just stated that I have no problem with the current plans in place.. (BTW there will still be plenty of wolves left.) As for businesses being done for.. None would, only 5% of yellowstone visitors said they wouldn’t come if there were no wolves in yellowstone which I have never called for. (even that number is suspect, I pulled it off the NRDC website). As for the last question, when ever there is a legal place where they have tags to hunt. Hunting is not down because of ranching, it has been going on longer than you or I have been alive with stable and increasing numbers in many areas pre wolf. There will be plenty of Rangers and Wildlife officers that will still have jobs, they will just transfer from federal to state jobs.

  23. Ryan Avatar

    I have read it.. Ungulate populations are delining since wolf reintroduction. I was not commenting on the claims that wolves kill for fun.

  24. Ryan Avatar

    Were in agreement on that issue, there are both sides. Although it becomes to polarizing in many cases. I have watched videos from one of the most famous western trophy outfitters, some of there clients hunt very hard and although they are about profit, I have a hard time condemning what they do. I will admit there are lazy hunters out there, but there are just as many guys who are living out there dreams on a wildnerness hunt.

    As for the big game herds being about profit, I guess and this is mostly directed at private ground, that as long as they have a value then they will be protected. Ranches that become more hunting orientated (Not High Fenced, I hate those operations) offer some of the best wildlife habitat outside of the national parks in the US.

  25. Piper Ellison Avatar
    Piper Ellison

    To all of you:
    One of the saddest parts of the ID and WY regulations is that they don’t take into account the fact that it’s whelping season right now. The wolf that’s shot could be the provider for an entire newborn litter waiting for its next meal! Even in the east, the avid foxhunters self-impose a
    4 month moritorium season on foxhunting, so the newborn may survive and grow up!
    The new laws should have provided a HUNTING SEASON, not AREAS where one can shoot any wolf at any time! That’s called extirpation!

  26. Linda Hunter Avatar

    It is really hard to generalize about hunting and hunters, or outfitters and ranchers. My comparison to pulling wings off flies was because i have had the misfortune to get to know and love a wild bear that was subsequently harvested by trophy hunters. I saw them, talked to them and saw the grusome results after they skinned her and took the parts they wanted. Any researcher who studies animals has to be ready for them to be killed at any time by a speeding car, poison, hunter or thoughtless shooter. (notice I put hunters and thoughtless shooters in a different category) My reaction to this article was based on the fact that wolves aren’t to eat and they just wanted one for reasons I just don’t understand. To me it would have been much more thrilling to track that animal for miles and see and hopefully understand a little of it’s life. And Ryan, everyone assumes because a person spends time in the woods that they see things. . that is true but seeing and understanding is different. You can stand on the edge of a blue lake with a group of people and hear them argue about what color the water is. To some it is the percieved blue of the reflected sky, to another it is clear no matter how you look at it and to a third the water is brown from looking straight down. Who is wrong and which one do you want to manage the water?

    Good discussion so far on a volitile issue.

  27. JB Avatar

    Ryan said: “…read idaho’s elk herd reports (its on the IDFG website) in many units where wolves are present, the herds are declining, with low calf recruitment where as the units that do not have wolves present are not facing that problem.”

    Good grief; are we really back here again? Ryan, please read this post: http://wolves.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/central-idaho-elk-and-deer-doing-fine-in-presence-of-wolves/

    Ryan also said: “I see hysteria quoted on both sides here.
    …’How about that my children might never even SEE a wolf, much less have the ability to KILL one.’”

    I don’t follow you here? How is this quote representative of “hysteria”? Is it hysteria to wish that your child had the opportunity to see a wolf in the wild? You seem to suggest the only legitimate use for a wolf is as something to be killed, if that is your claim then I wholeheartedly disagree.

  28. vicki Avatar

    Aimlessly ranting? Nope. You should practice what you preach.
    As for the % you quoted, perhaps that is based on a very small number of people who are polled. When you throw in the slaughter of bison, soon there will be little to see. You can see elk easily outside the park. Folks like you oppose bears too, those would be off the table.
    FYI, horse back hunt are something I am very familiar with, I can always go along with my numerous hunting family members. After my first time out, I opted not to do it again.
    A lot of work? SOme work is more like it. Now if you had to walk that far in, with all your gear, that would be a bit more challenging.
    You always seem to think you have all the answers. Yet, people rarely agree with you. So, I remain thankful you’re not my legislator. I take the route Lynne Stone has-I opt not to banter with you! Good day!

  29. vicki Avatar

    Good points.
    That is a very sad experience. I hope you never have that type of thing happen again.
    You are right about wolves not being food. I am one of those hunters who finds it too much like shooting a pet or even a person. The packs are too family oriented. I could never shoot a wolf thatwasn’t trying to eat me or my kids..or my spouse! But I am sure that some sportsmen will. I will hope that they do it with responsible conservation in mind.
    Do you track only for fun? I’ve wondered for a while now. It seems so interesting.

  30. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    The complexity comes because wildlife on private property is at the crossroads of three basic American principles:

    *The freedom to own property.
    *The freedom to pursue business ventures.
    *The concept of wildlife as a public trust, and not the property of an elite or ruling class.

    Sometimes, those things are bound to conflict with one another.

  31. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Vicki I started out tracking for safety since I was not into carrying a gun . . and tracking has lead me down many paths, some of them have been professional, but I look forward most to the times when I can just go out by myself. I am no longer afraid of any animal except humans even though I have been told over and over that animals are dangerous. What I wanted to find out is what makes them dangerous. . . and I have found some of the answers but want to know much more. One thing I can say with some confidence is that for an animal to hurt you they have to be up close and personal . . for a human to hurt you they can do that from a long ways away without even knowing your name or anything about you.

  32. Dave Avatar

    “It’s once in a lifetime. Anything you get one shot at doing, I think is pretty exciting.”

    He gets his temporary adrenaline rush, and a sentient being has to die in the process. What a weird way of relating to the natural world.

  33. JB Avatar

    I hesitate to post this quote, as many here know it and I do not want it to be come cliche. However, given the circumstances of this “hunt” it seems particularly appropriate…

    “In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy…When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.

    We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

    –Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

  34. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    I’m with you, in that I don’t think I could ever shoot a wolf — too much like blowing away a big German Shepard for me…

    But, I still don’t have a problem with other people sport hunting them on regulated licenses. At any rate, I think they will become increasingly difficult to hunt, even for guys with snowmobiles.

    I imagine they’ll become smart enough to just head into deep timber or rocky ground when they hear a snow machine coming.

    The problem with Wyoming’s plan is not so much the number of wolves private citizens will kill… that will drop off soon enough once the wolves get smart. It’s the sentiment it relfects — that wolves are just a nusiance to be killed by any means. How that might carry over into the state’s entire wolf managment plan has troubling implications.

  35. Ryan Avatar

    http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/manage_issues/ung/elkClear.cfm.. The yellowstone herd has declined by 50% post wolf reintroduction.

    My reference with that quote, is the OMG there going to kill all of the wolves mentality which isn’t going to happen either. Many may think that though.

    I am glad that your so objective that one expirience was all you needed to make your mind up on a pack in hunt. I did one for dall sheep in AK, we rode horses in for 30 miles and then hiked an additional 4 to base camp and then hiked 10+ miles a day for a week. Hardest hunt I have ever been on. I am opposed to shooting the bison as well as most people are, where would you get the idea that I was pro shooting bison. Although I will say that they have been doing it for years and there are still bison there.

    I am sorry to hear the expirience of a bear you were studying being shot by a hunter. I have harvested several black bears over the years and have had the pleasure of observing many more. They are a very neat animal, that being said I do not have a rug or a trophy mount but I do enjoy bear sausage and smoked bear hams very much.

  36. billybob Avatar

    I’m sure during his 35 mile chase this”guide” made sure to steer clear of any elk or deer so as not to cause “mayhem” among the herd.

  37. vicki Avatar

    Gee Ryan,
    I didn’t say anything about “shooting” bison. But then you are full of inaccuracies. ANd as for saying that they’ve been “ding it for years”. Well Hitler slaughtered jews for a long time, they are still around too, but it took some work and a lot of sacraficed lives. No-before you go there- I am by no means saying wolves are as important as people, but the analagy stands.

    “Harvested sevaral black bears”. Fine way to put it. It almost sounds like you actually had something to do with their existence as opposed to just their death.

    Back to the point, this Saunders fellow, is evidence that there is room for compromise.

  38. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Do you think the northern range Yellowstone elk herd and the elk of the upper Clearwater in Idaho are the only elk herds where there are wolves?

    We’ve been over this many times on this blog, but you are new and unfamiliar.

    When you talk about elk and wolves and declines or increases, you have to talk about all places where they co-exist. In fact elk harvest overall in wolf country is stable in Idaho and Montana. Some units are up; some down, other stable. You can’t cherry pick the ones you look at.

  39. Ryan Avatar

    You said “When you throw in the slaughter of bison, soon there will be little to see. You can see elk easily outside the park. Folks like you oppose bears too, those would be off the table.”.. I would be refering to FWS killing bison for the burcelosis scare.

    This is from websters..
    One entry found.
    Main Entry: 2harvest
    Function: verb
    Date: 15th century
    transitive verb
    1 a: to gather in (a crop) : reap b: to gather, catch, hunt, or kill (as salmon, oysters, or deer) for human use, sport, or population control c: to remove or extract (as living cells, tissues, or organs) from culture or from a living or recently deceased body especially for transplanting
    2 a: to accumulate a store of b: to win by achievement
    intransitive verb
    : to gather in a crop especially for food
    — har·vest·able \-və-stə-bəl\ adjective
    — har·vest·er noun

    I have been trying to get more research done on this issue. It seems from my limited research from population estimates put out by state fish and game departments. The units with more established wolf populations have declining elk or age stacked elk populations. But I have enjoyed the reading I have gotten from reading this site and am learning more every day.

    Did you get the article I sent you on wildhorses and burros, I know the source isn’t your first choice, but in talking about western ecological issuses this is huge. They are absoultely destroying the desert ecosystem in Oregon and Nevada.

  40. JB Avatar


    The Northern YNP herd was near a historic high and range conditions were terrible. Elk were going to decline wolf or no. Even the notorious Charles Kay–the bullshit artist you cited in a previous post–admits that the herd likely historically contained between 3,000-5,000 animals.

    In regards to Idaho….

    The study I cited (Jim Peek’s) looked at populations across Idaho; the “study” you’ve cited collared 81 elk in 1 management area and showed that survival among collared elk (76%) was lower than biologists typically want in a sustainable herd (85%), and that wolves accounted for ~40% of overall mortality–hardly damning evidence.

    But wait! Let’s examine this in more detail; let’s do a simple sampling exercise! Assume there are 500 elk total in the area (N=500). At a 95% confidence level, with a sample of 81 (n=81), the margin of error for the study would equal 9.98%.

    What does this mean? It means that when one considers the margin of error–again, assuming 500 total elk in the area–we can be 95% confident that survival ranged between 66% and 86%. Another interpretation would be that this particular sample of individuals did not fall outside of what we might normally expect. Perhaps more importantly, the “study” does not account for temporal variation is survival. That is, we would expect populations to have higher survivorship in some years than others (elk populations can’t grow continually). Thus, we can’t know if survivorship this year is representative of a trend or anomalous. The problem with this type of evidence is it isn’t sufficient to conclude anything (other than wolves killed 8 of 81 collared animals), so forgive me if I continue to be skeptical.

    Of course, IDF&G knows all of this and should have continued to collect data for 3-5 years in order to really spot a trend. Moreover, they should have published the margin of error and confidence level on their estimate. But publishing the data fits with their political agenda–it SUGGESTS that wolves could be responsible for lower survivorship in 1 herd.

  41. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton

    Ryan said,
    “I find it sad that most are so quick to debunk what the outfitter has to say.. Espicially seeing as how he is in the woods 3-4 months out of the year outfitting in wolf country and lives in wolf country. I think that the ancedotal evidence he is pointing out has to make some sense and carry some weight, unless you want put your head completely in the sand.”

    Well Ryan, the problem I see with your perspective is that anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much if it can’t be backed up by hard empirical data. Anybody with an axe to grind can claim anything they want.

    You see, I live in wolf country (grew up here) and spend as much or more time out in the wilderness as any rancher or trophy hunter I know of. And I know for a fact that many of the things that some of the people in my area are claiming about the wolf situation are completely bogus. (However, I am not proposing that people should take my word for it either). People from outside the area sometimes believe these liars because they don’t know better. But I do know better and I know for a fact that many of these anti-wolf people are outright lying to attempt to get their way.

    Growing up here I have had the opportunity to see up close the attitudes of the people in my area and has given me some insight into what drives these beliefs. Hating the wolf is not about facts or personal experience for most anti-wolf people, it has more to do with an ingrained cultural ignorance. It is an inherited ignorance part and parcel of a dominant segment of the traditional ranching/hunting culture.

    So no Ryan, I do not put any stock in what this outfitter says. His bias is obvious. Furthermore, his claims are completely at odds with what hundreds of years of biological research has demonstrated about wolf behavior and ecology. It is also completely at odds with census data gathered by the respective state wildlife agencies.

    Here is a portion of a letter I recently wrote to a local paper as a response to an anti-wolf propaganda piece that they printed:

    “The third major criticism leveled at wolves is the absurd claim that they decimate elk herds. However, if leaving wolves unchecked inevitably results in the “decimation” of prey species then we should expect that when Europeans first arrived here they would have found populations of deer, elk and bison to be scarce or non-existent, which we all know was far from the case. Likewise, Canada, with its more than 50,000 wolves, has thriving populations of wildlife, including deer, elk, and moose.

    The reported drop in elk numbers in Yellow Stone Park from 22,000 to 6,000 is misleading. In January 1994, the official count for the northern Yellowstone herd was 19,045, (22,000 is what the newspaper erroneously claims, I can find no data that supports this). It is important to point out that this was a record high count, not the average size of the herd. For example, just three years earlier, in 1991, the official count was only 9,456 elk. And in 1968 only 3,172 elk were counted. So there were wide fluctuations in this elk population before wolves were even returned to the area..

    The herd’s numbers continued to fluctuate after the return of the wolf. Due to a combination of factors (weather being the main one) elk populations can vary by several thousand from year to year. The recent count of 6,279 is nothing to be alarmed about, it is well within the historical population variation. Remember, before the wolf was returned, many people (biologists and ranchers alike) believed that there were too many elk in Yellowstone and that the park and surrounding areas were facing serious ecological consequences due to debilitating overgrazing. Wolves help to keep elk populations healthy and sustainable. In any case, it doesn’t make sense to compare the highest figures ever recorded (from January 1994) to the low count of 6,279 and conclude that wolves have cut the size of the northern Yellowstone herd in half.

    The suggestion that elk populations are being decimated in other Northern Rockies areas outside of Yellowstone is similarly unfounded. The Wyoming Game and Fish stated in May 2007 that “elk are probably at an all-time high historically”. The 2006 winter census saw elk numbers jump to 91,555 in Wyoming, approximately 9,000 more than the agency’s objectives. The department considers 82,645 to be the optimal number of elk for the state. The department also reported that “hunters killed 21,685 elk last hunting season, an increase of more than 300 compared with the average from 2001 to 2005″.

    In Idaho, data from 2005 indicate that hunter harvest numbers were higher than in many years before the wolf even arrived in the state. According to Idaho Fish and Game’s 2006 progress report, “Overall elk populations statewide are near all time highs.” The outlook in Montana has looked very favorable as well. In 2006 the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks stated “elk hunters in Montana have enjoyed good hunting and healthy populations of elk and this year promises more of the same”. That same agency stated in 2007 that “hunters are going to see very healthy populations of elk and liberal hunting opportunities”. The November-December 2007 issue of Montana Outdoors (the official magazine of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks) reported that Montana’s elk population has grown over the years; from only 3,000 in 1910, to 40,000 in 1951, 90,000 in 1992, and finally to a current population estimated at more than 150,000–well above the state’s objectives for elk numbers. All told, Montana has around three times the amount of elk now as it did only 30 years ago.”

    Also read the article that JB posted a link to.

    Every bit of scientifically gathered data we have on ungulate population numbers in wolf-inhabited areas lead to the same conclusion: wolves are not decimating (or even significantly decreasing) ungulate populations.

    If anyone, especially avowed wolf-haters, want to claim otherwise they damn well better come forward with something more trustworthy than their own biased anecdotal reports.

  42. Layton Avatar

    And there you have it folks — the thread is pretty much complete!!

    We have “family groups” of wolves, we have “sentient beings” when talking about wolves, we have the old “they eat all they kill” when referring to wolves, we’ve quoted Aldo and the “green fire dying”, we’ve even compared people that kill wolves to Nazis killing Jews.

    Then of course we have pointed out that most hunters are lazy, and even the ones that maybe aren’t lazy are rich — the only thing that I think has been missed is the part where they are always drunk and never get out of the motels, but that would conflict with the remote horse camps wouldn’t it!

    All this in only thirty some comments.

    Isn’t that a new record??

  43. Ryan Avatar

    I understand completely, it was just one study thats still in progress that I cited. As I have said before the article that I posted on a different thread which I will state again was just posting what was linked by someone else.
    You’ll have to forgive me if I continue to remain skeptical about the populations of elk, deer, and moose not decreasing, from seeing the evidence put out in other studies and from simple logic that adding another predator that on average kills 22 animals per each animal a year and has a population that is growing at a robust rate..

    I took statisics as well, I was hardly looking to make damming evidence from the study I quoted.
    Although read the Elk and moose population trends posted in the yearly IDFG population studies.


  44. vicki Avatar

    Way to twist things. you are good at that, if nothing else.
    Not that it makes a difference to you if you take things out of context, that might require you to actually have to make a real argument of your very own.

  45. JB Avatar


    I understand yours (and others) skepticism. Forgive my frustration, but those of us who’ve been here a while have been through this all many times before.

    Yes, we’ve added a new predator to the mix. However, you can’t assume that wolf predation is necessarily additive–it could be compensatory. (Compensatory mortality occurs when the addition of a new type of mortality is compensated for by reductions in other forms of mortality). Example: This winter in particular the snows are very deep on YNP’s northern range. Thus, the Elk are weak from lack of food and are killed by wolves. Many of these elk (not all) would have died from starvation or would have been killed by other predators were wolves not present. Thus, the addition of a new source of mortality (wolves) is compensated for by reductions in other forms of mortality (e.g. starvation).

    Note: I’m not saying that wolves do not affect elk/moose/deer populations. Clearly, wolves kill elk, lowering elk populations. What I am saying is that this effect has been VASTLY OVERBLOWN by people who oppose wolves.

    Just for shits and giggles, check out 50 years of data on wolf and moose populations on Isle Royal: http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/data/data/womoabund.html

    – – –

    PS- Layton: you forgot the Isle Royal wolves and additive and compensative mortality. You need to add those to the list of evidence that you find unpersuasive. 😉

  46. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    another perspective on Wyoming outfitters. This was posted on another blog:
    ” By bob Jackson, 4-21-08
    I have been following the comments and want to add what I saw happening in the supposed wolf safety area. I don’t think wolf killing ranchers are going to be the ones wolf advocates need to worry about because the wolves will either be directly or indirectly killed before they get to those private lands. The following I submitted for a comment to another article but was asked to send it on to others.

    In the paper world of wolf regulations and recovery objectives the “safe zone” for maintaining wolf populations in Wyoming supposedly allows this animal an area of sanctuary. In reality this zone is not all that safe.

    Most every hunting outfitter hates wolves because, for one, wolves move elk around. Thus every guide who glasses a herd of elk the night before is Pod the next morning when he sees no elk (and no $300 tip from his hunter) but lots of wolf tracks. The outfitter he works for is doubly Load because he hears shots coming from close to private hunter’s camps… or worse yet, from a neighboring outfitter he has been feuding with. Those were his elk, “damn it”.

    On federal lands, where outfitters have, by de facto, taken “ranches” the wolf represents a threat no different than what cattle ranchers feel when wolves come onto their property.

    These outfitters will go to any lengths to kill every elk out on their “land”. For one, they have the blessing from the state of Wyoming. The management plan gives them the green light to shoot any wolf harassing their horses. Since there is no law and order or witnesses back in these areas any wolf outside Yellowstone is fair game.

    But we still have the core sanctuary of Yellowstone, don’t we? Not so. There are few packs of wolves in Yellowstone that don’t have some part of their circuits outside of the Park. Plus all these fall hunting outfitters take dudes into Yellowstone for sight seeing and fishing trips in the summer. Any den discovered…and it is not that hard to find, just look for the pup tracks on the sand bars and do a few circuits in the area … is hoof pounded out by the outfitter and his whole entourage. Then after the dudes, unaware of what they are contributing to, go back to camp this same outfitter makes sure the wrangler runs all the stock over this spot and every guide slips away to do the same thing everyday the dudes are fishing anywhere near. Then when the outfitter leaves he tells the other outfitters and the same thing is repeated the next week. Get the idea? Destroy the core den by harassment and wolves either move on immediately or they won’t come back next year.

    In my neck of the woods, the Se corner of Yellowstone, there was a wolf den less than a mile from my cabin and a half mile from the Bridger Teton Wilderness boundary. As soon as I saw and figured out what these guys were doing I rode to every camp, sorted the outfitter and help from the dudes, and in very explicit terms told them if this behavior continued there would be hell to pay. I may have been able to save this den with its 4 pups, but with Yellowstone wanting all its back country rangers to make only short trips into its backcountry, how much of this illegal behavior by outfitters will be noticed or curtailed? As for the “trophy hunting” area, where the Forest Service has volunteers or cowboy wannabes on its backcountry staff, who there is going to insure critical denning areas are saved? No, I don’t think the wolves are safe in their sanctuary!! And when wolf numbers go down in these areas and these harassed wolf packs are increasingly dispersing out of these “safe” areas to lands where open season prevails the biologists won’t know why. It will be blamed on disease, “new” carrying capacity information etc. Then the number of packs needed to be maintained, as stated in the recovery plan, will be downsized. It will be the easy way out for our govt. Finally, the “caring ones” will sympathetically put a hand on the shoulder of wolf advocates and say the idea of wolf recovery may have been for a good cause but today is not the days of the frontier when there was lots of open land for wolves.”

  47. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    here is another story that actually says what it is all about for politicians.http://www.trib.com/articles/2008/04/21/news/breaking/doc480d064e6d5e3893446357.txt

  48. timz Avatar

    Jeff E.
    Thanks for posting that, it is the first I’ve heard F&G recommended charges. Perhaps the area U.S. Attorney should step in. If not nobody is ever going to be charged in any of these killings by these local yokels.

  49. Layton Avatar


    Me “making a real argument of my very own” would imply that somehow, sometime you made a point that was really worth arguing about. In this case, on this thread, I don’t believe that you have made a point that REQUIRED a “real” argument. All I have seen is emotion and the associated drivel.


    You HAVE to quit injecting humor — I was all ready with a scathing comeback about Isle Royale not counting cuz’ the wolves are the ONLY predator involved — ‘cept for the bugs!!

    Does that mean there really was not a record set??


  50. vicki Avatar

    No Layton, it wouldn’t. What it would mean is that rather than invoking other people’s anger by being condesending(when your witt clearly leaves you lacking), you actually triend to come up with some CONSTRUCTIVE idea on solving a problem.
    I actually find myself welocoming your insulting and unfounded comments. You strengthen my resolve.
    Try not to get too bent out of shape, I know it’s hard to handle when I can find something positive, even in your comments.

  51. vicki Avatar

    Everyone else,
    Please accept my apologies for my loss of composure. I am at a point where I am sick of sitting by and letting pushy people who have little interest in helping or compromising. I am at that point where you make a stand, and make some noise too.
    I’ll try not to muck up Ralph’s blog.

  52. vicki Avatar

    meantto say …compromising, run the world.

  53. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton

    Hey Layton, how does the wolf being the only predator involved not count? On what planet does that make sense?

    By the way, lots of people have made valid points and posted statistics to support their views on this thread and yet you avoid discussing those figures or provide any evidence that they are in error. So much easier to make personal attacks or simplistic snarky remarks than to actually respond to any of our arguments.

    Then again, I expect nothing else from the typical anti-wolf crusader.

  54. Ryan Avatar

    I have read the Isle royal story. There is another article on wolves that when reintroduced removed a whole deer population as well. Granted theses deer were living in marginal habitat and they may or may not have made it anyways.
    I have read both opionons on wolves and am still undecided on whether or not they are an additive or compensatory predator. One of my biggest concerns lies more closely with my home state of oregon where wolves are beginning to make there in roads already. Oregon, unlike many states across the west has Elk and Deer herds that are already in trouble due to in large part to predation. ( this was proven in the Sled springs, wenaha, walla walla study) Calf predation is very high combined by cougars and the herds are not making recruitment right now,add wolves, and I fear that our herds will completely collapse.

    How much more should everyone compromise? I am not anti wolf, I am just pro wolf management.

  55. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton

    Ryan said,
    “I have read both opionons on wolves and am still undecided on whether or not they are an additive or compensatory predator.”

    It isn’t a question of being one or the other. It is most certainly some of both.

    That said, wolves most definitely do not “decimate” ungulate populations. Wolves co-existed and co-evolved with ungulate species over hundreds of thousands of years. There were large and healthy populations of deer, elk, bison, and pronghorn co-existing with large numbers of wolves when Europeans first came to this continent.

    More recent evidence against the claim that wolves decimate ungulate populations is the unique situation found on Isle Royale. Wolves have been alone with moose on the island for decades and they have not decimated the moose population.

  56. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley


    I don’t believe a predator species can be classified as additive or compensatory, nor can a single act of predation be classified without laboratory analysis to attempt to ascertain the health of the victim.

    I know the wolf team in YNP and some of the Fed teams outside the park do this type of study during their research projects. IDFG claims to do some of this type of work during their predation studies and on occasion I have seen IDFG mortality studies use one or both classifications.

    There is an interesting article on the subject at:

    The discussion is about mule deer populations but the principles apply.

    As for Saunders:
    “With three elk feedgrounds, major deer and antelope migration routes and plenty of moose dining on willow, it’s no surprise the upper Gros Ventres (part of the trophy-game area) holds two large packs that Saunders has heard are killing elk and moose left and right.

    “In one or two days, between (a rancher’s place) to Alkali Creek, there will be eight to 10 elk they just hamstrung and killed,……”.

    Suanders “has heard”..”In one or two days…” Is this a prediction? What the hell is he talking about?

    I think he is full of BS. The Gros Vente is a heavily used winter recreation area. There have been no reports in the local media, no reports to WY G&F, either the Dubois or Jackson offices, no reports from the local snow machine outfitters and the owner of the a guest ranch smack dab in the middle of the country to which he is referring has not heard of this.

    Finally, The Outfitters Association has a code of ethics to which their members attempt to adhere. He may not be a member, but most of their members would think pursuing a wild animal of any classification was beyond the pale.


  57. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    PS, Mr. Jackson makes it clear that not all conform to the outfitters code of ethics.


  58. vicki Avatar

    I know that wolves will need to be hunted, and managed(for lack of a better term).
    My opinion has always been that the wolves should be scientifically managed in their entire range. There needs to be compromise as far as how they are managed… how they are hunted, and how many will be hunted.
    If there isn’t compromise, we will undoubtedly be slugging this all out in courts for decades.
    I am very open to constructive input and suggestions. But I get really burned out on the “Wolves need to be gone, stay away from my state, it’s not your income, they eat everything” arguments thrown out. They show no good will or intention to meet anywhere, let alone in the middle.
    I am also not saying that I am against private property rights, or against hunting. I don’t think the current plans allow for feasable species maintainence. I think the plans have shown us what many people don’t want and do want.
    So, if you have positive, forward thinking, suggestions on change…I am all for hearing them.
    Thanks so much for asking.

  59. Layton Avatar

    C. Walton,

    “Hey Layton, how does the wolf being the only predator involved not count? On what planet does that make sense?

    By the way, lots of people have made valid points and posted statistics to support their views on this thread and yet you avoid discussing those figures or provide any evidence that they are in error. So much easier to make personal attacks or simplistic snarky remarks than to actually respond to any of our arguments.

    Then again, I expect nothing else from the typical anti-wolf crusader.

    First the Isle Royale thing. The reason that the wolf being the ONLY predator on Isle Royale “counts” is fairly simple — on this planet or any other — as I said, and as you could find out with a bit of research — the only predator the moose on Isle Royale have to face is the wolf, unless you count mosquitos and ticks. If the moose population dies the wolves die, I can understand that.

    Contrast that with the situation here in Idaho, we have cats, bears, coyotes, etc. — then someone has the bright idea to dump in ANOTHER “apex” predator — the wolf. Do you see a bit of difference here?? The nice, tight little theory about population controls occurring naturally goes to hell in a hand basket. The other predators are still there, they still eat, but you just ADDED another.

    As for providing facts and figures, I do, I have, if it’s something new I will again. This thread has offered nothing new to warrant that. The fact that the data I usually use doesn’t come from some publication that has more wolves as at least one of it’s guiding principles negates it as soon as I cite it anyway. Then of course there is the fact that simply reading what the data point to is subject to different interpretation (apparently) depending on which side of the equation you are on.

    “Crusader” I think not, just not part of the choir. A discordant note is needed everywhere once in a while.

  60. Ryan Avatar

    They are being scientifically managed by the plan set out and compromised by all from the origional reintroduction plan. How much more do you want? The origional agreement is being kept, WY has compromised from there origional position on the matter to ensure delisting.

  61. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    I’m increasingly convinced that hunters are becoming our own worst enemies on the wolf issue. Too many simply want to keep passing the same “wolves are bad” stories back and forth, yet seem unwilling to listen to any outside sources or even consider the vast evidence of the good wolves are doing for the ecosystems.

    I guess it’s just easier to accept SFW posistion statments and your buddies’ stories as the Gospel truth, and dismiss anybody with information that might contradict those claims as a “radical” or “tree-hugging whacko.”

    I keep hearing these same basic gripes:

    “Wolves are bloodthirsty and kill for fun!”
    (Ironic, that’s exaclty what anti-hunters say about us.
    Ever stop to think that maybe nature has a REASON why wolves sometimes don’t eat an entire kill? After all, everything in nature has a reason and/or function. Or, do you honestly believe that wolves really are evil operate outside of nature’s rules? How do you explain that? Are wolves supernatural? Planted here by space aliens? Perhaps they were made by Satan, and not God?)

    “Wolves are killing lots of elk!”
    (Most of which probably would have died from winter kill or other natural causes anyway, after hunting season, had the wolves not been there. In other words, many of those elk being “decimated” by wolves weren’t the elk hunters were killing in the first place. Or, are you so naive as to think that before the wolves came back, human hunting was the ONLY way elk died?)

    “I’ve hunted in (area X) for 15 years, but now all the elk are gone! The wolves ate them all!”
    (No, the elk are still there. It’s just with the presence of wolves, they don’t stand around like cattle any more, waiting for you to come spot them from your pickup. When the behaivor of the game changes, the thing to do is change your hunting tactics, not bitch about it and expect sympathy from the non-hunting public — which also owns America’s wildlife.)

    Yes, there is propoganda from the “other” side too. But from what I’m seeing so far… to put it bluntly… hunters need to pull their heads out of their asses.. because on this one, we’re really starting to look like a bunch of clowns.

  62. JB Avatar

    Bravo, Hal!

  63. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Thank you Hal! I always hope the people who share the woods with me who carry guns have more common sense than their politics indicate.

  64. vicki Avatar

    I don’t know who you think agreed to Wyoming’s plan, but it obviously wasn’t everyone.
    Wyoming hasn’t compromised. In fact, they have stomped their feet, passed regulations that were bought and paid for by ranchers, and went on their merry way.
    If their plan was scientifically sound, they wouldn’t be in court to defend it all the time.
    If their paln was scientific, they wouldn’t have so many biologist saying it isn’t. Several who post here, one of whom I am pretty sure lost his job because he wouldn’t just shut up when he had the ability to show inconsistencies in one management plan for wolves.
    At any rate, you offer no suggestion. I still remain open for that, though I doubt it was ever your intention to offer one. I believe it was merely your intention to try to argue everyone’s opinion if it fell in favor of wolves… that is a bit played out. We are passed the point where arguments to persuade people to oppose or favor are the main need. Now we are at that place where we know there is opposition and alliegence, so what we really need is to meet in the middle. Not this side or that side… the middle.

  65. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yes, it was US Fish and Wildlife Service who “compromised.”

    For a long time they said that they (USFWS) absolutely would not approve a state plan that took away all protection from the wolf, including the normal state protection as a game animal, and made it into vermin in any part of the state. However, with a few more political appointees in place, they reversed.

    I followed this controversy for 6 years and wrote extensively about it on this blog and my older web site at http://www.forwolves.org

  66. Layton Avatar


    Since you have gotten the “kudos” for what some of the folks here seem to think is a wonderful dissertation on the evils of hunters, maybe I could interject just a little bit of rebuttal, which I really think your post needs.

    To your point about —-“the vast evidence of the good wolves are doing for the ecosystems.”

    Would that be the increased growth of willows, etc. in YNP?? It really seems to me that killing the elk so a lot more bushes can grow is kind of a rough form of horticulture, — but — if that flips your switch. What other good is it that they do??

    As far as “accepting SFW positions and buddie’s stories as the truth” I would submit that the stories that “buddies” tell are every bit as credible as some of the “hearts and flowers” stories about cuddly wolf “families”. There is a LOT of BS on BOTH sides!!

    SFW?? Come on — MOST of the hunters I know think they are as full of crap as the most radical of the “wolfie” movement.

    “Ever stop to think that maybe nature has a REASON why wolves sometimes don’t eat an entire kill?” What would be the reason for repeated instances of apparent “thrill killing”?? I’m curious, and please don’t try to tell me it doesn’t happen — many times — and NOT just when they are scared off of a kill — that just is NOT TRUE!! In the National Forest where I work we have repeated depredations with MANY animals killed and not consumed. These are documented instances, not just “anecdotal” stories.

    “MOST” of the elk that wolves kill would have winter killed or died anyway? Weeellllll, certainly they would have died eventually, most everything does, but it seems like a bit of faulty reasoning to suggest that wolves only do “compensatory” damage to the elk population — even the most rabid wolf supporters would have to admit that is a stretch.

    Sorry Hal, but if you are laboring under the impression that hunters are the only folks suffering from cranial/rectal insertion, you are sadly mistaken.

    Here’s another thought, have the wolf supporters thought about the FACT that most folks running around the woods with guns have been pretty mellow toward Canis and his buddies for the last ten years. If this upcoming suit results in an injunction against the long awaited delisting, there just could be a real live backlash!! I really hope is doesn’t happen that way, but I would not be surprised and there are a LOT of people that are not wolf fanciers in the woods on any given day.

    You ask if hunters consider wolves supernatural or extra terrestrial — I don’t think so, especially not any more that some of the “worshipers” seem to. They (the worshipers) get misty eyed when referring to this creature that is, in fact, almost exactly the same genetic make up as Fifi the poodle or Bruno the Rottweiler.

    In short, the extremists on BOTH sides are screwing up the whole scenario. I just can’t help but wonder where it will end.

  67. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I think you are trying to find extremes, when most of the folks who post here, while having strong opinions, are not in these categories you create.

    You have been pretty irritable lately. What’s going on?

  68. Donald McDowell Avatar
    Donald McDowell

    Thats a good start, kill them all. those killers need to be run down and shot

  69. JB Avatar

    On the subject of overkill…

    If I recall correctly, Adolph Murie (The Wolves of Mount McKinley) wrote about an instance when wolves killed a large number of dall sheep in Denali NP. He hypothesized that this behavior was a function of ease of which sheep could be killed–the sheep had become trapped in deep snow and were easy pickings for the pack. This fits with what we know about wolves; they don’t *just* kill the sick and the old, they kill the sick, old, weak, and injured–in short, the vulnerable.

    I suspect other cases of multiple killings are much the same–they are a product of normal hunting behavior and a bit of good fortune for the wolves (bad fortune for their prey). As to wolves not eating all of the carcasses–this seems quite normal to me as well. When we make too much food for dinner we put the leftovers in the fridge to be eaten later. I suspect wolves are doing much the same. To suggest they would leave a known food source in their territory and never come back to feed is beyond ridiculous! Perhaps the kill was made in another pack’s territory, perhaps they were surprised by people and left the kill site, or perhaps the individual(s) that made the kill were subsequently killed themselves. In any case, such instances of overkill are rare, and in my opinion, simply propaganda to repaint the wolf as some evil, mythological beast, hell-bent on killing all in its path.

    Layton, I’m surprised to hear you use the phrase “thrill killing”; if you’re truly interested in middle ground, this type of terminology seems designed to inflame. You must know that invoking such terms will only get people up in arms, further polarizing the issue?

  70. Heather Avatar

    Its ironic that most “evil” things the wolf does, humans do better. …”Thrill kill”? excuse me, but humans are the ones providing the unneeded mayhem, killing, torture, environmental abuse, racism, rape, child molestation, war, etc. a wolf is just trying to eat. and hunt and they do it well. Then the humans that would like to irrational things blame predatory animals for doing what they would like to do. Seems like a big competition… however we are supposed to the stewards of the earth

  71. Donald McDowell Avatar
    Donald McDowell

    What about the poor deer and elk that are dragged down and eaten alive by a blood thirsty pack of wolves. You wolf lovers don’t care about them do you??? They are animals too

  72. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Humans have found models of good and bad among animals from time immemorial, but animals have their own standards of judging each other. We can only made guesses as to what they are, although the more actual knowledge we have, the better the guess.

    When will decide that the wolf is an evil killer or a wonderful family animal, we are projecting ourselves into that world. What see is a reflection of our ourselves, not the essence of the wolf.

    I’ll bet (hypothesize) that the more black and white the opinion a person has about an animal, the less they know about biology.

  73. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Layton, actually, in venting my growing frustration at what I see many of my fellow hunters saying about wolves, I was hoping to get a rebuttal and perhaps widen my own understanding.

    But again, your analysis seems a bit shallow to me. For example, you seem to pooh-pooh the willows coming back as if it’s no big deal. My understanding of nature is that any change — good or ill — has wide-reaching effects. You know, the whole “web of nature” and that whole thing.

    I do not deny that wolves sometimes “thrill kill.” What I’m saying is, it seems silly to me to condemn them for that. As with everything in nature, there must be a reason for it. I suspect it’s very benifical to other species, such as foxes and bears, that depend upon carrion. (And last I checked, a lot of guys really like to hunt bears. So, what’s good for bears is good for bear hunters, no?)

    I also don’t deny that some people try to “humanzie” wolves, and act as if one of their own children — or at least a favorite cousin — has died every time a wolf gets shot.

    Those are NOT the opinons I’m talking about, Layton. I’m talking about the opinions of biologists, ecologists, range managment specialist and others (many of whom are also hunters) who have said the benifits of the wolves to the Yellowtone ecosystem have exceeded even their expectations. Are rank-and-file hunters just simply NOT listening to these people?

    Again, I suspect that many hunters are not. They are just sharing the same stories swapped by buddies (“the elk are gone from such and such an area I’ve hunted since 1982.. so the wolves must have ate them all”) and accepting them as Gospel truth. And then, as you just did, upon hearing even a hint of a contradictary point of view, they assume it’s coming from some spaced-out Earth Muffin who thinks wolves are literally his brothers and sisters.

    But Layton, the last person I heard tell me about the benifits of wolves was not a spaced-out Earth Muffin. It was a grizzled old forest ranger and hunter. Are you telling me that guy is full of dung simply because he’s not saying what you apparenlty want to hear about wolves?

    Oh, and BTW, it lifted my heart to hear you say MOST of the hunters you know think SFW is full of dung. That made my day.

    I don’t want the extremists from either side to pee in the punchbowl either, Layton. But more and more, most hunters are looking extremist and very ignorant on this issue. They’re saying things that the numbers, facts and testimony for actual experts simply aren’t bearing out.

    Please, stop assuming that every time a positive opinon is expressed about wolves, it’s coming in a cloud of pot smoke tinged with the smell of just-eaten granola.

    All that does is provide more ammunition for anti-hunters to use against us. And that, I really, really don’t like.

    Oh, and BTW, if you know any more guys who want to come here and debate my points, I’d love to hear from them. I’m sorry if I come across as ranting sometimes. I’m just very frustrated, but I’d like to know where other people are coming from too.

  74. Layton Avatar


    I used the term “thrill kill” because I really don’t know what else to call it. Using hindsight I guess the phrase “multiple killings” would be less inflammatory — my bad, but I’m not very good at the “PC” thing.


    Yes, I have been a bit “on edge” lately. The crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth over some wolves being killed kind of has me that way. Did folks think this day would never come?? Unfortunately, I think they did, AND I think that those same folks are looking forward to plugging up the courts with suits, injunctions, and other legal shenanigans that will keep the issue unresolved while the wolf population grows and gets further out of control.

    Every instance of a wolf being killed is, and will continue to be blamed on the delisting. In spite of the FACT that some of the mortalitys have been because of depredations and would have happened anyway — the “spin doctors” are alive and well!! They explain it all away by saying that “they are just killing to eat”.

    I’m deadly serious when I say that I fear a heavy duty reaction if this delisting thing gets tied up in court. Then it’s more ammunition against a delisting and then there are MORE wolves and a bigger problem — etc — etc — etc.

    “Finding extremes?” Sometimes maybe, but most of the remarks I quote are to be found right here on this blog. The “bloodthirsty redneck” stereotype is alive and well and used several times a day.

  75. Layton Avatar


    We were evidently typing at the same time.

    Believe it or not, I actually mostly agree with what you said in your last post. But — (there has to be a but)

    “Layton. I’m talking about the opinions of biologists, ecologists, range managment specialist and others (many of whom are also hunters) who have said the benifits of the wolves to the Yellowtone ecosystem have exceeded even their expectations. Are rank-and-file hunters just simply NOT listening to these people? ”

    Hal, in the summer I work, every day with those exact people that you speak of and I’m here to tell you that all of their opinions are NOT the same. In fact I have been a “mouse in the corner” while a lot of that type of discussions are going on and I can assure you that the opinions are far from unanimous — on EITHER side.

    A good discussion is usually beneficial to both sides — I just don’t like the tears and apparent worship of the critter that usually occurs.

    “it’s coming in a cloud of pot smoke tinged with the smell of just-eaten granola.”

    That’s been a long time, and I never DID like granola!! ;^)

  76. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    This is what I know about wolves and their prey from looking at them from both sides of the fence (Yellowstone boundary) as applies to this discussion..

    It is a lot easier for hunters to shoot the bulls (elk) nowadays because wolves make elk bunch up. The elk are easier to find. On the Yellowstone valley bottom pre wolf herds of 25- 30 were forming up into wintering herds of 200 (not the migration bunching). The boundary guides had easy pickings for the 2-3 bulls in these groups. Their main worry was about their clients not hitting the cows. Indians hunted these bunches of up to 300 elk with the same tactics as with bison, using surrounds to kill them all.

    Wolves make weekly to 10 day circuits. One would see wolves pulling out cow behinds (vagina and anus). The elk may get away but this cow would become next weeks weakened meal. Better than a freezer for food storage.

    Modern hunting regulations translates into most all bulls being killed off. These were the protectors and the sentries for the cow calf herds. When I was in Thorofare in the 70’s in the fall one would see and hear maybe 10-15 rag horns and smaller 6’s circling the breeding herd (12-15 cows and calves) perimeter. These younger bulls stayed a couple hundred to 1/4 mile away. No wolf pack would have been able to suprise these vulnerable cow calf groups. All these bulls are gone due to a lot more hunters killing male elk.

    In the summer the bulls would always stay on the perimeter in the more wooded areas below the alpine meadows of the large (up to 400 animals) cow calf groups. In narrow mountain drainages occupied by smaller cow calf groups these bull groups were above and below cow groups. Again wolf packs would have had a hard time sneaking up to the vulnerable cow calf groups. (the same partially applies to why griz have such easy calf pickings now in the Park)

    So as I see it modern hunters and mismanaged state wildlife regulations are the principle reasons hunters are complaining they have “less” elk to hunt in wolf areas.

  77. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Layton and everyone,

    Use of emotive terms to refer to classes of people, animals and events often prevents meaningful discussion from taking place.

    That’s one reason why social scientists try to avoid these terms for groups (and of course it makes their writing less interesting to read).

    Words like rednecks, wolf lovers, thrill killing, communists, bloodthirsty, ivory tower professors, welfare ranchers, butchers have their political uses, but reasoned discourse is not one of the uses.

    If I use them, and I do sometimes, I am trying to stir things up.

    This is just to make everyone aware.

  78. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Layton, I would love to sit in on one of those discussion. It would be great to hear experts debating these things — rather than the same tired old “wolves = good” or “wolves = bad” oversimplifications. I still say too many hunters over-simplify things, trying to say “wolves = dead elk = bad = kill wolves.”

    That makes us look bad, IMO, and the public image of hunting is becoming increasinlgy important. There’s many more non-hunters than hunters. And the sterotypical image of a hunter itching to kill wolves so the wolves won’t kill the elk before he gets a chance to kill them is the sort of thing that turns non-hunters into anti-hunters.

    Ralph, sorry — once again — to play up on stereotypes. Truth be known, I sort of BOTH an Earth Muffin and a Redneck. But like Bill Clinton said, I never inhaled. (heh, heh)

  79. Joy Avatar

    I am alternating between having a blast and feeling somewhat nauseous reading all of your acidic dissections and brilliant analyses of the article I wrote about the young man who shot a wolf. He shot it with his grandfather’s gun, the same gun this homesteader used to shoot wolves for in the old days when people’s lives as well as those of their animal were endangered even in daylight hours. Those reports can be found in the old Jackson Hole Courier archives.
    Mr. Saunders is neither stupid or lazy by any remote stretch of the imagination. He is one of the most decent, thoughtful, hard-working people I have ever met. I did not include “empirical data” because that is not what this article was about. It was about one person’s experience.
    He did not run the wolf down on his snowmachine; if you read closely you will notice that he followd the tracks for 35 miles before ever seeing it. What is wrong with his having a cell phone so he could the property owner and ask for permission to enter the property?
    Of the people in Sublette County who have shot wolves, I chose to ask him for an interview because he is NOT one of those foaming-at-the-mouth rabid kill ’em all hunters. He is perhaps a bit naive; I doubt he even knows people like you exist. The way you all talk about things and people you don’t know makes me queasy, as if your opinions have a superior reason for existing than anyone else’s.
    Thanks heaven there are some sane people in your little chat room who have open minds. How can you pass such cruel judgement on someone you don’t know?
    This article wasn’t in any way, shape or form meant to be a definitive piece. I didn’t even try to disguise it as one. So back off, dude. It was what journalists often call a “news feature.” He tried very hard to express himself properly, being unfamiliar with “human wolves” like you people appear to be. He was relating his experiences, plain and simple.
    I worked for outfitters for years too and you can’t tell me that is a lazy way to hunt. Nor is snowmachining a lazy way to hunt. Even for fun, they take an incredible strength and stamina. Remember, these tracks were right behind his house.
    In case you aren’t experienced with those machines because they offend your delicate sensibilities of how the world should be run, well, don’t put someone else down if you yourself have no experience with the activity (just because YOU don’t like it).

    This kind of ranting and raving is exactly what drops some of your best causes into a bottomless pond like a heavy stone.

    There is some oversimplification involved in asking one person to relate his story. There are all kinds of considerations for a small weekly, which is what the Sublette Examiner is. I haven’t seen any other newspaper running someone’s hunting tale, complete with name and pics, since March 28?
    At least he is decent enough to not be ashamed of using his own name, and he never assumed a braggardly demeanor.

    The fact that wolves are running rampant up the Gros Ventre has been documented time and again, with wolves running elk off and between feedgrounds. Read the newspapers more often.
    We are a small-town kind of place in this little part of the world. We know whose word is good and not. If an outfitter/rancher/father and husband sportsman who is respected and decent says he sees something or someone in G&F can’t be quoted, we know who’s good and not. In an interview as such it is inappropriate to do anything other than ask Qs and take the answers.

    I think some of you are just horrible people, those of you jumping up and down like maniacs trying to figure out how to vilify a person who is decent and good, and who enjoys a life of being outside every single day whether it’s +90 or -50.

    As someone said above, everyone could look at a pond and say it was a different color of blue. We carry our individuality and our history within us; you can’t understand exactly what he thinks because you aren’t him. And vice versa. You can’t say it’s wrong he wanted to kill a wolf because his grandfather and his wife’s grandfather (and other historic family members) grew up with wolves being an incredible dangerous predator.
    He’d say to you, “well, you are entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine.”
    Shame on you all. You really should stop and look at how you present yourselves and your hatreds and miseries to the world and then expect other people to take the blame for your unhappiness.

    I would be willing to bet each one of you thinks you are a “decent” human being….

    start acting like it then.

  80. Joy Avatar

    This was Vicki to Ryan:
    “why don’t you consider how many rangers and wildlife officers will be unemployed if people like you had their way…how many small businesses in West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Cooke City and Jackson would be done for? What about the kids that never see a live wolf outside a museum or zoo. What about the guy who can’t afford to pay an outfitter? He isn’t entitled to hunt on public land?”

    Another common piece of misinformation I keep reading and hearing is that people come to yellowstone to see wolves and what will happen to the gateway towns if stupid ignorant people start hunting off all the wolves?

    Well, they can’t hunt them in Yellowstone or Teton Park anyway! So why worry about it? All of this bad stuff isn’t going to happen; if you want to see wolves they should always be in our parks, shouldn’t they?

    At this point in time outfitters are only RQ’d in Wyoming when hunting in wilderness areas. There are no rules/regs set yet for the trophy-game area. Who knows what that will bring? I am getting a preview of the plotting and subterfuge right now, right here, though.

    That’s the kind of rhetoric that boggles my mind. But then I’m a really insigniciant uneducated mindless journalist who works for a paper part-time in Sublette County because I wouldn’t dream of doing the big-city thing you all might aspire too… I am just serving my community as best I can. And I’ll let you know- even the smallest newspapers in Wyoming can get ahold of the governor, senators, people in charge, because most of us recognize any one of us as important as the other.

  81. Scott Avatar

    This is an interesting thread and I feel like an interloper – everyone seems to know each other. I have a few questions and I am curious what this group thinks.

    There is some controversy about the effect of wolves on the elk population. But one thing is for certain, the elk populations in the three wolf states is robust. So what if wolves cause a decline in elk numbers? I have hiked and hunted all over the west and land without predators is nowhere near as interesting as real wildlands with the full complement of predators. It is sad that the hunters making the most noise about wolves don’t seem to care much about the hunt, but only the kill. At some point, one might as well go to a game farm. Why do those of us who want to hunt, hike and experience real wilderness have to effectively subsidize hunters who want the easy game? What does it say about hunters and the outfitters who support this view of the world?

    As for the original subject of this thread – the “hunter” who killed from a snowmobile – the ethics of this are appalling and the unsceptical reporting is simply sad.

  82. JB Avatar

    Joy said: “I worked for outfitters for years too and you can’t tell me that is a lazy way to hunt. Nor is snowmachining a lazy way to hunt.”
    “The fact that wolves are running rampant up the Gros Ventre has been documented time and again, with wolves running elk off and between feedgrounds.”
    “We know whose word is good and not.”
    …and finally…
    “I did not include “empirical data” because that is not what this article was about. It was about one person’s experience.”

    Well, you’ve certainly convinced me of your unbiased approach [yes, that’s sarcasm]. My father edited a small town newspaper for more than 30 years. I can tell you without a doubt that the approach you describe would not have passed muster under his watch, and your words here do NOT lend any credibility to your story.

    Joy also said, “In case you aren’t experienced with those machines because they offend your delicate sensibilities of how the world should be run, well, don’t put someone else down if you yourself have no experience with the activity (just because YOU don’t like it).”

    So let me get this straight; I shouldn’t get to criticize someone for engaging in behavior that I find deplorable? Last time I checked I lived in America, where everyone has the right to express their opinion. How convenient that you think that only people who agree with you should get to express theirs! Using a snowmobile/4-wheeler/pickup/whatever to track and kill an animal (any animal) is LAZY and should not be considered hunting (yes, in my opinion). If you don’t agree, good for you! It appears you already have the ear of Wyoming.

  83. JB Avatar

    Joy also said: “…most of us recognize any one of us as important as the other.”

    Unless–apparently–that person is not one of you (i.e. from the big city), in which case it appears you are more than willing to dismiss their opinion altogether.

  84. Jay Avatar


    That was a biased piece of garbage. “Wolves plaguing the Gros Vante”…do cougars plague it? Coyotes? Bears? People? Every one of these uses the area, and also kill elk. But wolves are a plague, to be compared with locusts, or some other biblical infestation? If you don’t like wolves, that’s super, hate away, but maybe as a so-called journalist you might try to inject just a smidgeon of objectivity in your not-intended-to-be-definitive “piece” (piece of what, I’ll leave that for others to decide). I didn’t know writing tabloid stories qualified one as a journalist.

  85. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    To be honest with you, I am quite surprised that people are hunting off snowmachines, and don’t get me wrong, good outfitters are worth their weight in gold, as far as I know, most every single state, has a regulation against shooting from a vehicle, which a snowmachine qualifies as…

  86. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Wow Joy,

    I have to say, that is quite a rant, you threw down there, I have not seen a reporter, get that mad for quite a while, but I think many parts of your rant is a bit of a streatch, and that is coming from someone, who lives in a very rural part of Montana, that has wolves, as well as a family history that goes back in this area for over 100 years…get mad, get even, but as I tell the pro wolf side as well…don’t get stupid..because it won’t help your side, and will only help the other side, of course I seen the same thing on the pro side as well, when sides are at such an extreme, the fringe element has a tendency to get ignored..

  87. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    to hunt something down just to kill it, whatever “it” may be is sick. It does not matter if you are in Wyoming or wherever. The extreme amount of vitriol of your post tells me you know that. And please spare me the “because the grandparents or great grandparents did it twaddle.” And the “wolf is an extremely dangerous predator drivel” Please

  88. JB Avatar


    I decided my initial reply to your comments needed some clarification. I hope this helps you understand why I personally do not believe that this “hunt” was ethical:

    “Jim Posewitz…describes fair chase as “a balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken…In this view, the kill is the exception and escape is the rule. Simply put, a chase is fair if the animal has a reasonable chance of escaping the pursuit unharmed. If the animal has little or no chance, the chase is not fair.”

    When an animal is pursued for 35 miles by a person on a vehicle, it has “little or no chance” of escaping. If s/he so chose, the snowmobile-mounted pursuer could have kept chasing the wolf until exhaustion and then simply killed it. Whether that happened in this particular case is not the point; the point is that when the pursuer can keep on pursuit without incurring cost to him/herself, then the animal has little or no chance of survival. To be clear–when an animal has to expend vast amounts of energy to escape while the pursuer expends little or no energy in the chase, THE PURSUIT IS NOT FAIR, and in my view NOT HUNTING.


    From: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/article_2557.aspx

  89. vicki Avatar

    Please take five seconds to realize that you, as a reporter, have lost some footing here. Reporting is an objective job, not a subjective one. You seem a bit too close to your subject to be at all objective.
    Let me be clear though, I am not an anti-hunting advocate. My grandpaernts handed a gun down to me when I was young, my son hunts with it today. I have been a hunter since I was old enough to hold up a chipmunk .22. But I disagree with how it was done, period.
    I think that the wolf had to walk those 35 miles, so the challenge of the hunt was diminished by how this young man tracked it… on a snowmobile.
    I won’t rehash what I said before.
    You may not think that tourists come to see wolves, but they do come to see animals. You can argue that all you want, but since I am one of those that travels there to see animals, I can tell you I have stood along side crowds of literally a hundred people in one small stretch of road, who all came to Yellowstone to see wolves. To deny the increase of revenue since their reintroduction is a matter you should take up with the NPS, and with the census. Perhaps their reports are wrong.
    I don’t know this Saunders kid personally, so I was left with the picture you helped paint. I read your report, your quotes. I interpretted what I read. It seems you are wondering about the fall out of your report. Well, you reported what you felt was accurate. How we perceive it doesn’t make us any more wrong than you were for writing it. There was a lot more to think about than this man shooting a wolf with his grandpa’s gun. It didn’t seem at all a reflection of tradition…just a man who was proud to have tracked and then killed a wolf, who never posed him a physical threat…by your own account. If you had wanted readers to walk away with a different sense of that, you may have taken another approach.
    You bring up what I said about people losing jobs; well, if the management of public lands and wildlife continues to be handled with haphazard disregard and wreckless indifference, we won’t have anything left for them to do. You can call me hysterical, you can argue about this man’s integrity, but what we are really talking about is much more than him, this wolf, or your article…. it is about a much bigger picture.
    I am sorry that you find all of our opinions so unworthy of any consideration, perhaps then you won’t be bothered that you haven’t changed them.

  90. scott Avatar

    Joy – I did not get the impression from your piece that Saunders was either stupid or lazy. Nor have I read any other folks suggesting that he is. In fact, he seemed a throroughly decent, hard working and bright guy. And that was what was troubling – that a smart, decent guy like Saunders was comfortable taking down a wolf from a snowmobile. And that you so cheerfully reported it. Although you say he didn’t “run the wolf down”, he admits getting within six feet of another wolf trying to “head it off”.

    My feeling as a hunter and someone who likes all wildlife is that this is a profoundly unethical way to hunt. Would that be an ethical way to hunt elk…..to motor 35 miles through the snow on the animal’s track and then shoot the animal?

    The story was also filled with a lot of anectdotes about wolf behaviour that were parroted without balance. When I read your comment about the wolves “running rampant” in the Gros Vente around the feedlots, my thoughts were: “Wyoming needs to feed it’s elk in feedlots, where the elk are unaturally crowded and subject to CWD and brucellosis….and they are suprised the wolves show up?” “Why isn’t half the energy and outrage that is focused on the wolf directed towards decent winter habitat for wildlife?” “Why aren’t folks concerned about the fact that “wild” elk have to be artificially fed half the year?”

    If we want sustainable elk numbers, protect elk habitat; don’t blame wolves.

  91. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    FYI, I worked for over 15 years as a newspaper reporter, in the Rocky Mountain West, at papers ranging in size from no bigger than the one you work for to one of Idaho’s major flagship daily papers. I also still do occassional freelance newspaper work. Based upon my experience, your story would not have made it past ANY editor I worked for, regardless of paper or community size. I would have been instructed to at least try contacting a second, or third source to get a response to the obviously biased statements regarding a controversial issue with immediate local effects.

  92. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Furthermore, as a hunter, I am not impressed by anybody who used a snowmobile to “hunt.”

    True, I’ve never hunted wolves. I understand that sport comes with its own special challenges. But I’ve hunted many other critters, in the dead of winter, in deep snow.

    There’s things called cross country skis and snowshoes. They worked perfectly well for our fathers and grandfathers — who killed plenty of wolves — well before we suddenly decided we were incapable of doing anything without an internal combustion engine.

    It seems to me, there must be tactics for hunting wolves that don’t require the use of a snow machine.

  93. JB Avatar

    “Fair Chase,” …is the ethical, sportsmanlike, lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over such game animals.

    Use of any of the following methods in the taking of game is considered Unfair Chase.

    * Spotting or herding game from the air, then landing, pursuing & shooting
    * Herding, pursuing or shooting game from motor boat or motor vehicle (PLEASE REREAD THIS LINE)
    * Use of illegal electronic devices for attracting, locating, or observing game, or for guiding hunter to such game (check state & provincial laws)
    * Hunting game confined by fences or enclosures, or game transplanted solely for the purpose of commercial shooting
    * Taking game illegally or using illegal methods against regulations of the federal government or any state, province, territory or tribal lands

    from: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/hunter_education/homestudy/ethics/fairch.phtml

  94. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    Okay, now that I’ve had time for my sermons, I do want to clarify that I in no way question the character or sincerity of either you or the subject of the story. I’m still passionate about journalism, and hold it to strict standards — standards that were taught to me by deeply dedicated people.

    I also don’t question that the subject of your story is probably a very nice, pleasant guy. I just question his hunting tactics, and I think his veiws on wolves are naive, biased and based upon misinformation.

    The silver lining in all of this is that people still care enough about wildlife and land use issues to get their hackles up and argue about it. If nobody really cared either way… then I would start to worry.

  95. Jay Avatar

    It boils down to the ethics of fair chase, which was pointed out earlier as the possiblity of the prey escaping. Unless I’m mistaken, wolves down have the ability to levitate above snow, so now matter how hard and how quickly they try to get out of the country, all it takes is a person with a sled, a rifle, and a thumb to push the throttle to follow that animal until the snow disappears or the animal is shot. Oh yeah, and a cell phone to call and get permission to follow that animal’s tracks across private land.

  96. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    In all fairness, I’d like to point out that IMO — as time goes on — using a snow machine will actually put the hunter at a DIS-advantage.

    Wolves are smart enough to eventually figure out that “the sound of a snowmobile = high probablity of approaching death.” And, since they can hear a motor from a much greater distance than that from which the person riding the snowmobile can see the wolf — it will simply be a matter of them figuring out that they need to go to places where the snowmobile can’t follow. Realy thick timber, for example.

    When that happens, the guy on showshoes or skis will have a huge advantage over the guys on snow machines.

    I’ve actually used much the same concept in my deer hunting. I affectionately call road hunters or guys who can’t seem to divorce themselves from ATVs my “game drivers.” Because what happens often is this: I show up very, very early, hike in farther or up higher than they are willing to go… and the infernal noise of their machines will push the game toward me.

  97. Jay Avatar


    I’d say you’re right under certain circumstances…there needs to be sufficient escape cover near enough that a wolf can reach it before the sled gets there; you know how fast those things go, so I would say a couple miles is all the time they’ve got. Also, terrain and the locale will dictate that–wolves caught out in open expanses won’t stand a chance, and timber will have to be pretty thick to deter a good rider. In my neck of the woods, thick timber is not common.

  98. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    You could be right. My experience tells me that motorized “advantages” hunters try to give themselves not only tend to be lazy, they can also end up being a disadvantage. But, that’s only my experience — limited only to the animals I’ve hunted and the terrain I’ve hunted them in.

    I think overall, Wyoming’s plan does indicate an underlying philosophy of vindictive extermination and containment of wolves. I’m not at all opposed to fair chase wolf hunting, or other forms of lethal wolf managment when needed. But Wyoming’s plan does seem to be too much, and for the wrong reasons.

    Simply put, I wish people would quit veiwing wolves as the enemy or the literal incarnation of what they think is oppression from the government or other “outsiders.”

  99. Ryan Avatar

    Look at most of the articles posted on this site, they are editorals and op ed pieces, with out 1 bit of journalistic credibility just opions with added sensationalistic headlines.

  100. Ryan Avatar

    I was a little harsh there and it came out wrong, but there are a few liberties taken with the news articles posted on here.

  101. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    There is a question whether the original article was journalism or a puff piece that most people would find offensive, and that’s why I put it up.

    We rub shoulders pretty closely now on the Internet, don’t we?

  102. John Avatar

    What a heartless monster.

  103. John Avatar

    Basically this is a man who is puffing himself up and saying “look at me! look at what I did!”
    The sooner intolerable people like him disappear the better!

  104. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    I doubt this guy is a heartless whatever. He honestly thinks that what he did was right and helpful, and helped “save” elk, deer and cattle.

    The problem is, too many see wolves in narrow, black-and-white, cause-and-effect terms.

    For example, “Wolves eat elk. Therefore, they threaten my business as an outfitter. Killing wolves = better business.”

    Of course, it’s far more complicated than that, and it’s likely, many of the elk the wolves are killing are the kind of elk this guy’s clients would not be interested in anyway, and the wolves are actually doing him a favor by removing inferior elk from the gene pool. But, he simply doesn’t know that. From what I’m seeing, many hunters and others in the local communities don’t see or realize these things.

    Is there a certain degree of pig-headed pride, and a refusal to listen to “elites?” Yes, I think so. But, I also think a little bit of education and sound arguments to point out how many of the assumptions this guy and others like him have made about wolves are wrong will go a long way.

    Just calling people names won’t accomplish anything.

  105. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Most of the “news” coming out of the Sublette/Pinedale area is blatantly biased. But, I think that’s a case of a local “yay team” philosophy dominating the papers there.

    In the larger sense, I think the press tends to just over-simplify things. They like to divy everybody up in to neat little categories. In other words, all hunters and ranchers hate wolves, and are shouting across the fence at all “environmentalists” and “conservation groups.”

    What they don’t seem to realize, or illustrate, is the lines blur among all those groups. Indeed, many conservation groups have numerous hunters among their founders or rank-and-file members, and not all ranchers are ballistic about wolves.

    To a degree, it’s a problem with the mechanics of journalism. A reporter who is on deadline and might not know any better is going to seek out reliable “talking heads” to represent the various points of view. Therefore, the leader of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife ends up looking as if he’s speaking for all hunters. And so on and so forth.

    To a certian degree, the press thrives on conflict, and the most polarized sources give the best quotes.

  106. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think you’re right on this, Hal (both sets of comments).

    The great problem is how to break though this. Name calling won’t help, but will anything?

  107. Ryan Avatar

    “Basically this is a man who is puffing himself up and saying “look at me! look at what I did!”
    The sooner intolerable people like him disappear the better!”

    You should try to put yourself in his shoes.. I have no idea where your from, but you need to look at where he’s coming from and not be so judgemental. Your comment is a indacative of a growing dichotomy between Rural and Urban citizens. Many Rural citizens feel that they get Urban Values and laws pushed upon them by people with no clue on with no clue on what it takes to live there lifestyle. Which is true in most cases.

    You brought up some good comments. The reason that many hunters are so polarized against wolves has more to do with the groups behind the pro wolf movement, of which many seem to have a very anti hunting undertone to them.. This situation has done nothing to help the conflict, and I only see it getting worse in the coming years.

    As for the elk comment, he does have some validity in his claims..

    This is an interesting article, it states that Elk reproductive success is down because wolves run elk making them less effective foragers leading to both lower reproductive success and less prepared for winter. From ancedotal evidence, there are several archery hunters that hunt in Idaho that I am close friends with. Many report that in wolf habitated areas, calling during the archery season brings in mostly wolves searching out elk and the elk have changed there behavior to being almost completely silent in many areas. In many years of hunting and observing elk, if they can’t communicate with each other, there could be consequences that would affect breeding success.

  108. Connie613 Avatar

    I only wish the photo was the other way around. Tracking for 35 miles is not my idea of hunting and killing a wolf goes against my grain. I have been blessed to not only have looked into the eyes of a wolf but was able to touch and feel this magnificent animal. Killing of a wolf is killing me as well.

  109. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Maybe I need to shake off the rust and do some articles on wolves? (heh, heh)

    That might actually be a possiblility, but not in the immediate future.

    Meanwhile, I might pester some reporters to dig deeper. Heck, anybody who posts here could do that. When you see SFW quoted as speaking for hunters… call or writer the reporter and say, “Hey, I’m a hunter, and that’s not what I think…”

    Just an idea…

  110. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    I get the point about some wolf support groups, but that’s simply not true of all of them. Furthermore, by continually taking an ignorant, reactionary stand against wolves, all hunters really do is play right into the anti-hunters’ hands.

    When that happens, all they (anti-hunters) have to do is point out to the public the over-simplification that hunters are angry because they think wolves are killing too many of the animals they want to kill. I know that’s not entirely accurate, but it’s effective, and too many hunters are saying things that make it seem true. It makes us all look like incredibly selfish cretins. Not good P.R.

    I also think it’s a gross exaggeration that most of those favoring the wolves are anti-hunters. I think if hunters would quit closing ranks and venture out of their rather tight social circles, they’d find that’s not the case. They could then go about turning the tables and marginalizing the anti-hunters. But, if they insist only on closing ranks, plugging their ears and repeating over and over….”wolves are destructive. Wolves are supported by anti-hunters” then they will look like jackasses.. and the anti-hunters’ work will be done for them.

    In other words, if we really want a voice in this issue, hunters are going to have to come out and play with the group, instead of pouting on the pourch.

    Also, as far the elk changing behiavor… as I said before, as hunters, when the game changes behavior, do we whine about it? Or, do we improvise, adapt, overcome… learn, and change our tactics?

    Maybe, in the absence of wolves, the elk were acting in a way that was actually un-natural. Hunters got used to that, and thought it was “natural,” and therefore formed their tactics around that situation.

    Which do you think will be more effective?

  111. John Avatar

    I’m from the country in Australia. I see people like this all the time killing our endangered wildlife then gloating over it. Pinning carcasses against fence posts. The government spends $30 000 000 on 1080 aerial baiting programs (even over national parks), nationwide extermination plans for endangered species including trapping, individual 1080 baiting and shooting every year. Requesting that entire packs be exterminated because of a meagre 1 or 2 losses.

    These types of ‘country folk’ are nothing more than parasites. They spoil the ecosystem to sustain their pathetic egos.

  112. John Avatar

    Pardon the outburst and name calling, but we’ve also lost a species already due to sport hunting and farming disputes as well.
    People need to learn about grey wolves before going gung-ho into culling. The boards of game from WY MT and ID display very little knowledge about grey wolf ecology and social behaviour. If there is a predation problem: get a herd guardian. If there is an elk problem: reduce the take on elk.
    It stands to reason.

  113. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton

    Hey Hal, I really appreciate your comments. Very balanced and sensible.

    I am a hunter of a sort. However, I only hunt every so often and I don’t personally agree with killing for sport (I am just morally opposed to killing something for fun).

    I hunt to add a healthy source of food to my diet and in order to stay in tune with “the true facts of nature” regarding life and death, and what a struggle survival is for most animals on this planet. I feel that some people get too disconnected from these realities.

    That said, I don’t agree with the attitudes of a great many hunters, ranchers and other rural types. And I get tired of anti-wolf people pretending to speak for all rural people, as if all people who see a place for the wolf in our ecosystems are from big cities. This is patently absurd. I was born and raised in rural eastern Arizona and I know of a whole lot of people from my rural area who are in favor of the wolf (and very few of them represent the “spaced-out Earth Muffin” extreme of the spectrum).

    Ryan said,
    “Your comment is a indacative of a growing dichotomy between Rural and Urban citizens. Many Rural citizens feel that they get Urban Values and laws pushed upon them by people with no clue on what it takes to live there lifestyle. Which is true in most cases.”

    Sorry Ryan, but that view really doesn’t make much sense (see comments above). Well, stated more accurately: there is some truth to it but it is greatly exaggerated. I know that some “rural citizens feel that they get urban Values and laws pushed upon them” but I feel that this belief is largely unwarranted.

    City people have as much of a vested interest in the wildlands of the country as we rural people do. For example, in my state millions of people from big cities like Phoenix and Tucson rely on surrounding public wildlands to hike, birdwatch, fish, hunt, do scientific study, picnic, camp, watch wildlife and any number of other outdoor activities. It isn’t as if only rural people do these things. In fact, many more city people do these things than rural people (yes, many hunters also live in big cities).

    The idea that people who live closer to those less disturbed areas should have some special right to dictate what happens in those areas, I find completely absurd. A person can’t do whatever they want even on their own property (for example, I can’t dump toxic waste into a stream that runs through my property), why in the world should they think they have a right to control what happens on nearby PUBLIC lands?

    We should be happy that the majority of people in our states are willing to cram into relatively small geographical portions of our states. Imagine if everybody was fairly evenly spread out…there wouldn’t be any wilderness or wildlife left.

    This attitude that some small town folk and ranchers have that they ‘own the wilderness’ that surrounds them is pathetically naive.

  114. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    So Connie613, you would be happier to see a human laying there on the ground like that? The wolf laying there is bad enough, but you really wish it was the man? Somehow priorities seem to be getting screwed up here a bit!

  115. Heather Avatar

    Connie should speak for herself, but I think she was aiming at humans “trying on another’s shoe” so to speak. Some empathy. Step outside of your human self. Hearing about this killing everyday (and for the past few years ‘lethal control’ of problem wolves) has killed me bit by bit. However, I will choose to help the situation somehow..

  116. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I have been involved in it for over 20 years now, and don’t want to see my fellow humans in the same situation, just as I don’t want to see the wolves in this situation…Perhaps, it would be best if you did let Connie speak for herself…

  117. Heather Avatar

    Sure Save Bears, but I do have a right to my own opinion of what she said. You don’t need to explain how long you have been involved in this issue, as everyone’s opinion matters here… it seems a bit arrogant to do that. Although I’m sure you have a wealth of knowledge I dont. The reason I responded to her comment was that I liked what she had to say for my own reasons. (Hence, the point of talking, we all feed off of each other and could learn from that) The things is that humans are dying for crap reasons. Wolves are dying for crap reasons. Violence encompasses all of us. There is a tie.

  118. John Avatar

    “When you kill a man, it doesn’t hurt to be polite.”

  119. Joy Avatar

    Please take five seconds to realize that you, as a reporter, have lost some footing here. Reporting is an objective job, not a subjective one. You seem a bit too close to your subject to be at all objective.” from Vicki)

    Well, Vicki, I am a flawed human being, not a machine. What can I say. Any reporter who says every word he or she has ever written is “objective” has never deeply considered the use of words chosen or they’d realize nearly every word selected has a different significance or emotional value than another. As you are aware, I see, from your own comments to other people you don’t agree with..

    I don’t care of I have lost footing here or not, really. I’m doing this as a part-time job in large part because I do it better than “no one.” And I really like it. I live here, this is my community. I didn’t go looking for the job; it found me.

    My debut diatribe was very unattractive; my own personal disgust with the way you all tear people apart and rip at each other is probably niavete at never having done the “blog” thing before. I guess if you can’t see people it’s easier to stab them in the back.

    I have not hidden who I am and what I do, at least. And those comments about myself and Mr Saunders really hit me in the gut. There are numerous references to laziness from the beginning and questining of character; lack of intelligence, ambition, decency. Oh yes, and in my case, I’m writing a “puff piece” about a topic so controversial no one else had done it yet to any degree in the local papers despite the incidents taking place.

    So who’s to say what is the absolutely “best” way to write an article? Hal, I guess. And I’m not knocking this career by any means (I love writing – better than talking).

    Mainly I was very upset by your comments about how Mr Saunders could be “used” in your campaign as if people are chess pieces.

    You don’t actually know how I personally feel or what I believe, especially about wolves. Just because I interviewed someone and printed his responses doesn’t mean you know what I think. It is certainly not black and white in my mind.

    And just because this article came out in a tiny Sublette County paper (of which there are only 2 – remember, we’re the least-populated county of the least-populated state in the country) – doesn’t mean there’s a total slant toward wolf killling. Not veryone here hates wolves; not everyone loves them; not everyone like environmentalists either for that matter.

    What I was trying to point out in what became a negative and quite highly bad-tempered fashion on my own part is that you can’t label people; you shouldn’t treat people who do things differently than you would as if they are wrong; you should treat people the way you want to be treated. And by responding in the manner I chose, indeed by responding to the personal criticisms at all, was wrong. I should have just read, let my stomach roll over, and left it behind.

    We are small-town people here; I don’t even live in a town. It’s an area. Grocery store in one direction is 20 miles, 45 in the other. I grew up close to a small town in upstate NY, farm country. Girls Scouts. 4-H. I have lived in cities and I have worn dresses to work. I am over 50 and graduated from high school in 1973. I have traveled some but not as much as I’d like.
    My point is, I am a person about whom you know very little yet you will quote me, finding something else wrong with me. I do my job here with pride because I have done a lot of very good things for people; I am not a bad writer, and anyone who expects a p-t writer on a staff of 1.5 plus editor and ?? to be a Pulitzer Prize winner is dreaming. I just do the best I can, with what I can.


    I suggest that anyone with a serious problem about the recent “Once in a LIfetime” article, its writer (myself) or subject matter write a letter to Trey Wilkinson, the editor of the Sublette Examiner, pinedale, WY 82941.

    “The reporter is no differnet than most in Monatna, Wyoming or Idaho…stating what line she is fed regardless of validity or signifigance. Journalism also tells us that quoting a source doesn’t require that the source be accurate…as long as you heard it, you can quote it.”

  120. Hidden Avatar

    Stupid pumpkin!
    This saunders guy is pathetic!
    this isn’t hunting!
    When you toil for hours, sweat, are hungry cold or too hot
    it’s a fight between you and the animal 50/50 that is hunting!
    and as for wolf hunting no matter how you do that it’s pathetic!
    after all if it wern’t for wolves there wouldn’t be dogs and possibly not even our own existance!
    Where is sport in hunting a friend?
    where is sport in 90/10 hunting in your favor?
    oh! thats right there is none


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