Without providing a shred of evidence Cal Groen says wolves are decreasing big game numbers-

Here is the brief story, rife with contradictions and no evidence except his own say so. It would be great if some reporters asked him where he got his figures, disentangled the confusion outlined below, and were actually given a study or some sort.

Big game drop attributed to wolf pack increase.  The Associated Press

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“He says big game populations are decreasing by as much as 15 percent a year.”

This is new news, and notice he uses the plural — populations — meaning other populations did not decrease by 15%. Some, or even most might have increased. If you give one end of a range in statistics, you need to give the other end. It would be nice if he defined “population,” and perhaps the species.

He said, “Without the wolves, Idaho’s deer and elk herds would be increasing 7 percent a year.”

Both deer and elk, 7%?  How was this determined?

“Groen says the wolf packs have become overcrowded and wolves have begun to kill each other.”

This hasn’t shown up in the Idaho wolf reports, but if they have, then the wolf population has reached a natural limit and the problem, if there is one, is probably solved.

“Idaho Fish and Game officials say the state’s wolf population is moving south and getting into trouble.”

Ken Cole’s analysis of new population figures say no, the wolf population growth is in Idaho’s Panhandle. That’s way up north.

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One conservationist said, “. . . since Idaho’s elk population in 2007 was reported to be 20% above objectives, it would appear that wolves have now helped lower that to only 5% above carrying capacity. Old Cal out to be thanking them for helping his department avoid damage to the habitat!”

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

3 Responses to Idaho Fish and Game Director alleges big game drop due to wolf pack increase

  1. John d. says:

    Its not trying to understand why something is, its wanting something then trying to prove it.

  2. Ken Cole says:

    I wouldn’t say that wolves aren’t moving to the south however, most of the growth seen in the population occurred north of I-90. My understanding is that the population overall increased only by 7% this year compared to the 8-9% last year. If only the wolves south of I-90 are considered the population growth was only 5%.

    That is nowhere near the 20% growth rate seen during the first 10 years. It is very apparent that wolves have nearly reached their population high in Idaho and it is likely that wolves have overshot their natural carrying capacity so will likely decline naturally through interpack strife.

    Wolves are not like rabbits, they self regulate their populations. If IDFG starts killing mass quantities of wolves then the number of “problem” wolves will likely increase and predation of livestock, which has been pretty low overall when compared to other causes of death, because the social structure of the packs will be disrupted.

    I think the IDFG would be better served if packs that kill livestock infrequently are left alone so that a new pack won’t move in to the area that may kill more livestock. I also think that livestock producers need to use proper animal husbandry and take more precaution so that fewer livestock are killed. Putting a band of sheep in the middle of known wolf territory is likely to result in dead sheep and dead wolves. The same could be said for breeding cattle at a time when they will calve in January during the extreme cold. Last year the Buffalo Ridge Pack was slaughtered because of an incident just like this. I think it could have been avoided had the cattle either been moved to an area where they could calve in safety or if breeding had been postponed to a later period and calves hadn’t been born in -20° temperatures.

  3. ProWolf in WY says:

    You keep reading all this stuff about big game populations being eaten up by wolves, that all of the elk herds in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico are going to disappear. Do people think wolves are locusts? By the “logic” people are using, then shouldn’t wolves have eaten all the game in Canada and Alaska decades ago? Shouldn’t the species have gone extinct millenia ago if they went and ate everything in their paths like people seem to think? I grew up near Yellowstone and everyone there said that wolves had decimated the herds. I don’t remember the exact figures but it seems a matter of 5th grade math will tell you that a few hundred wolves are not going to kill off thousands of elk.


February 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey