Idaho Wolf Hunt/"Custom & Culture" photo
By Brian Ertz On September 3, 2009 · 184 Comments · In Delisting, Idaho Wolves, Wolves
184 Responses to Idaho Wolf Hunt/"Custom & Culture" photo
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I wish the wolf slaughter was not allowed to begin until judge Molloy gave a DEFINITE decision, instead of a wishy-washy ‘I will give you an answer soon”. ‘
“Soon” to him might be 2 months down-the-line. How very sad and worthless it would be if he decides to help the wolves survive, but it took him so long to think that the wolves are all shot!
I agree with you about that. And that picture? It says a lot, IMO about the minds of those who want to hunt wolves in Idaho. I also find it odd thatt there has been very little news about this event.
Not a very smart business move. This is why emotions should not dictate your actions.
The reason there has been very little said/reported is because most individuals understand that the numbers is now at a level they need to be managed. They have been delisted, and states can now manage them. Hunting is a form of managment and source of income for the state. Wolves can pay for their own managment. Other big game species in the state do. Being from Idaho I see the above sign in good humor. I have purchased a tag and by doing so showed my support wolf management steps taken by the state.
Here’s my comment, and a question for you.
I’m from Idaho. I see the sign as humorous to some people and irritating to other people who live in Idaho.
When you say, “wolf management,” do you mean anything in addition to killing wolves?
There is also a photo that includes the business’s sign – here – which includes the business phone number.
One would wonder whether folk in Chicago, New York, California, etc. would find it prudent to give the business a call & order take-out ?
Only in the minds of the misguided!!
The deal was made for delisting at aprox. 300 wolves in a THREE STATE AREA!! I guess Idaho ALONE having 1000 is just part of the deal??
Two constitutes a slaughter. About .2%?? Wow, some folks do “funny math rather than fuzzy math.
The subsequent years of biological research and data gathered tell us now that the original estimates were too low to achieve a self sustaining, healthy, genetically diverse population, especially with the data showing there is virtually no intermixing among the populations of the three states. Indeed, that is one of the key concerns mentioned by Judge Malloy. But, as the delisting by Bush cronies and this hunt is showing, science and the law matter little. When all is said and done, the opponents of wolf reintroduction will show folks that the main reason they don’t want the wolf back comes down to the same reason they were killed out of existence in the lower 48 in the first place…blind, hysterical hatred based in ignorance, selfishness, and greed.
That sign gives Idaho a black eye and could potentially hurt tourism if enough people saw it.
I have no interest in moving to Idaho (unless Ralph sets up a commune on his ranch for all of us for our golden years), but not all folks or areas in Idaho are full of “nuts”, just like any state. The political power does seem to be in the hands of folks and interests who run counter to the environmental crowd,and tolerance of different views is “constrained” to say the least…Colorado has had its share of whackos over the years, but the demographic change has taken full root here, and I suspect it will someday in Idaho as well.
Forward any videos you discover onto YouTube…the internet will do the rest for us. I would LOVE to see an interview with some of the patrons of this establishment expressing their unguarded opinions…VBG..
JimT, it will be interesting to see how the west changes. However, Colorado’s Division of Wildlife has some of the same thinking as Idaho’s. Just read what they say about grizzly and wolf restoration.
I might add to JimT’s point about genetic connectivity that the recent control order on the Steel Mountain Pack kinda throws a wrench in the government’s argument. The Steel Mountain Pack contained the lion’s share of the Yellowstone population’s contribution to Idaho’s wolf population.
What a wonderful demonstration of how hunting wolves increases tolerance for the species.
Very important data about Steel Mountain, Ken!
And I just read your report about the Sheep Experiment Station (this was the email). The Station alone seems to be the biggest impediment to Idaho wolves mixing with the Greater Yellowstone wolves.
Once again I see the problem, livestock, livestock, public lands livestock.
I’ll paste the picture and location on my MySpace page. It should get a couple thousand hits in a few days. Don’t think the family from Chicago or LA will want to recreate in a state taken over by “crazed wolf-haters”. Let the issue be solved by voting with our hard-earned, tourist dollars.
Ken, so the years and years worth of pup reproduction is undone because the founding wolf or wolves is gone? You could make the exact opposite argument that there is now available territory for new wolves, with different genetics, to start up and contribute to genetic diversity.
I think what Ken meant is that the Steel Mountain Pack was one of the few wolf packs where there was plausible genetic mixing between Greater Yellowstone and Idaho Population wolves. Lack of mixing was a fatal flaw found by the judge in the last delisting lawsuit.
So the Wildlife Services dummies go shoot up Idaho’s most important wolf pack– important from a legal standpoint.
Anyway, that’s how I take it.
Might I suggest you substitute “plausible” with “documented”–my guess is there’s lots of packs where origin of the founders is a complete unknown.
it’s an important pack that demonstrates potential for genetic exchange – killing it coul shed doubt on the government’s competency with regard to ensuring such exchange. Helps with the “arbitrary & capricious” claim in that respect.
by the way – it’s also Faulkner’s sheep who were killed by the Steel Mountain Pack. you may remember Faulkner’s boots were licked (i.e. praised) by a few wolf advocates (Defenders) for sparing the phantoms — what’s lesser known is that less-known packs are being killed on his behalf all over the state without his “benevolent mercy”. Faulkner is a bad actor in this respect, and managed to pull the wool over the whole Phantom issue – so to speak.
Defenders was asked to speak up on behalf of the Steel Mountain Pack once the control order was made known – given their self-proclaimed building of a relationship with Faulkner. A representative of Defenders refused, claiming that Defenders does not work on behalf of individual packs (uhhh.. what’s that whole “Sleeping with Sheep” thing all about then ?) – they would not ask IDFG, WS, or Faulkner himself to spare this incredibly important (from a genetic perspective) pack of wolves. So much for the “working with producers” money-line.
Livestock is the problem – eradication of entire packs on behalf of public land ranchers wipes out incredibly important genetic contributions to the viability of wolves. I’m no apologist for hunting, but an argument might be made that the death of an individual is of less consequence in this (genetic) respect, because the genetic diversity might remain & contribute given any remaining members of the pack not shot by hunters.
the fact that there are so many pack whose origins are unknown is exactly the point – it casts doubt on the genetic exchange, which bolsters advocate’s suggestion that assurances of genetic exchange are arbitrary & capricious – unlawful.
the steel mountain pack’s origins being known is why it is so important
That makes absolutely zero sense Brian.
Ralph – That USDA Dubois Sheep “Experiment” Station – Those are the extra-special Butch Otter University of Idaho WELFARE sheep. What a waste!
I’ve made sure people do see it. On my blog.
Re your comment about the Sheep Experiment Station: You are right. Livestock raising is one of the problems here, and for better or worse, farmers and ranchers in Idaho and elsewhere in the West, h ave a big influence over their local wildlife resources departments.
I realize now I should have taken a photo of the crowd at a bar in Stanley, watching the Boise State-Oregon football game to post on Facebook, or some other media. I managed to get through the game’s 1st half, despite listening to wolf hunters next to me, talking about how they were going to use dogs to lure in wolves. They said they had to leave to get to camp and go after the wulfs in the mornin’.
It is interesting to note that so far, I’ve not talked to anyone around Stanley or the Sawtooth Valley, who thinks that a seven month wolf hunting season is intelligent. People are worried about their dogs getting shot by anti-wolfers, wanting to shoot something, anything. IDFG’s season goes until March 31st here, and wolfers on snowmobilers are going to ruin what is normally a quiet time of the year in the Sawtooth area.
This Sheep Experimental Station sits along the Idaho-Montana border (the Continental Divide).
This is the major potential wildlife corridor migrating from the Yellowstone Country to Central Idaho Wilderness areas.
These damn sheep sit right in the way.
Not really related to this photo but I did attend “Lords of Nature” movie tonight in Missoula, regarding the benefits of wolves and other major predators tonight followed by a panel of speakers. the movie was great, the panel not so great. One speaker, (originally from Canada), said conservationist groups shouldn’t sue, it is impolite. All panelists but one was trying to persuade the goodness of delisting…. very strange.
Ralph, are you going to keep a tally on the announced number of wolves killed each day/week? I say announced because having grown up in a hunting community in this state, I know that things happen and not everything is on the up and up.
I find this initial wolf hunt of several months disturbing, just like I find using bugles and bear bait flat-out absurd. I used to hunt but it never made sense to call hunting a sport. When I competed in sports, I had an equal opponent.
Anyway, so much for my hope that wolves were too smart to not investigate calls, etc. I really hoped it could happen and then felt that hope dwindle when I read about the first, second, and third one shot. By the time we legally reach 220, I wonder how many will be gone. (And yes, I worry about deer being smashed by cars, too.)
I don’t have any special way of finding out how many wolf tags have been filled — wolves killed and reported to Fish and Game.
Fish and Game has a map that is supposed to keep track of this in total and by area. Here is the map’s URL again (I’ve posted it in other places), but so far it isn’t being kept up.
I should add that the Sheep Experiment Station is run by the USDA Agricultural Research Service or ARS. They own the lands and these lands are NOT public. The only lands that they allow public access to are those at the top of the Centennial Mountains. And, like kt mentions, the sheep are owned by the University of Idaho and they receive subsidies on those sheep.
University Of Idaho Bursar received payments totaling $213,539 from 1995 through 2006 from their operations in Clark County – meaning the Sheep Experiment Station.
Here is what happened to wolves that dared to eat government managed sheep this year. I don’t know whether there were any guard dogs with the sheep
“On 6/8, Idaho WS confirmed a sheep was killed on the U. S. Sheep Station near Humphrey, ID. The pack thought responsible is called Sage Creek and it is a border pack. ID WS heard the Sage Creek radio within about ½ mile of the depredation site. ID Fish and Game authorized ID WS to remove 1 wolf. The pack has since moved back into Montana and MT FWP has given ID WS or MT WS staff authorization to work on either side of the state line.
On 6/16, ID WS killed a member of the Sage Creek pack in Montana, as authorized by FWP. Back on 6/8, Idaho WS confirmed a sheep was killed on the U. S. Sheep Station near Humphrey, ID. The pack thought responsible is called Sage Creek and it is a border pack. MT FWP has given ID WS or MT WS staff authorization to work on either side of the state line. Lethal control is completed. FWP and IDFG are taking steps to improve coordination on border packs that are confirmed to have injured / killed livestock.
On 7/16, IDFG called FWP (Ross) and reported that the Sage Creek pack (a MT-ID border pack that is counted in the MT population) had killed another sheep on the Experimental Sheep Station near Humphrey ID. FWP agreed to the IDFG request for lethal control and granted permission for IDWS to work within MT and to coordinate their work with MT WS. One adult male was killed on 7/23.
On 7/23, FWP (Lance) coordinated with ID Fish and Game and ID WS regarding confirmed sheep killed near Humphrey ID by a wolf pack that is a “border” pack. This pack resides in ID and is considered an ID pack, though it occasionally travels in Montana. IDFG had authorized full pack removal. FWP authorized ID WS to carry out lethal control efforts in MT should the wolves be found in MT and requested ID WS to coordinate their work with MT WS. ID WS killed one adult wolf about 1 mile across the state border into MT on 7/23. The carcass will be retained by IDFG as a part of their pack management / data collection effort.
On 7/30, IDFG contacted FWP to report that 13 buck sheep were confirmed killed just across the MTID border in ID on the sheep experiment station. This is the same area as previous sheep losses on 6/10 and 7/16, totaling six dead sheep. The Sage Creek pack is suspected to have a rendezvous site 1-3 miles away from the sheep pasture on the ID side of the border, but the pack dens in Montana and is considered a Montana pack. FWP has been coordinating with IDFG since June. There is also close coordination between IDFG, ID WS and MT WS. FWP and IDFG decided to authorize removal of up to three adult wolves, which is ongoing. Monitoring suggests that two adults and a litter of pups would remain when this lethal control effort concludes.
Correction: FWP previously reported that a MT-ID border pack east of I-15 was a border pack that was counted in the ID population. After 3 incidents in which at least 10 sheep were killed in the Middle Creek / Pleasant Valley areas on the ID side of the border, MT FWP and IDFG decided to authorize lethal removal of the rest of the pack. During the control efforts, it was learned that the pack had indeed denned on the MT side of the state border and will in fact be counted / reported as a Montana pack – and not an ID pack. All control efforts concluded by 7/23, with the removal of an adult male and 6 pups.
On 8/3, IDWS confirmed that wolves killed 7 buck sheep on the ID sheep experiment station near Humphrey in the same area as previous losses occurred on 6/10, 7/16, and 8/3. FWP had authorized removal of up to three adult wolves, which was completed by ID WS on 8/4.
The final straw for the Sage Creek Pack comes from this incident: http://fwp.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=39997
On 8/17 WS confirmed one calf and had a second calf as probable killed by wolves in the West Fork of Corral Creek (public land) on the south side of the Centennial Valley in Montana and near the Idaho border. This is in the territory of the Sage Creek pack. This pack has been involved in confirmed livestock losses in Montana and Idaho in 2009. Six adult wolves have been killed thus far and with this newly confirmed incident, MT WS has been authorized to remove the remaining pack members.
From the latest MT report comes the investigation report of the incident near Dillon where 122 sheep died: http://fwp.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=40088
Wolf – Livestock Activities
WS completed its investigation and reported final results of the sheep incident south of Dillon. On 8/18, WS concluded 82 dead buck sheep as confirmed killed and 40 buck sheep as probable killed by wolves. WS also determined that the losses occurred within a short span of 1-3 days and likely comprise a single incident, as all appeared to have died at about the same time. The sheep owner has been putting lime on the carcasses to discourage scavenging. Nonetheless, bears had been scavenging and thus clear confirmation that 40 were killed by wolves was not possible – thus 40 were concluded as probable. The total of 122 includes injured animals that died during the August incident. Previously in July, WS confirmed 26 buck sheep were killed (includes injured which died as a result of the attack) in the same pasture. FWP authorized lethal control of three wolves that had been in the area and believed responsible for the July incident (1 gray was killed; 1 black was mortally wounded and suspected to have died; 1 black wolf is still alive). One uncollared adult wolf from the Centennial pack was killed on 8/18 upon authorization by FWP because it was found within about 1/2 mile of the sheep band on the morning of 8/18. The pack now consists of 2 collared adults and a litter of pups of the year. Control work is completed for the Centennial pack. However, WS is still authorized to kill one or both black wolves if found in the area where the sheep depredations occurred.
A wolf hunting article hit CNN:
Some of you might find this interesting. Wisconsin has viable wolf population and has since the 1970s when they apparently emigrated from Canada (the dreaded non-native, super predator Canadian wolves). As of last winter, the population was estimated at 537-564. Wisconsin’s area is 54,310 sq miles, for an average of 0.010 wolves per sq mile. Idaho has an estimated wolf population of 1000 (plus or minus 200 depending on who you talk to) and an area of 82,747 sq miles for an average of 0.012 wolves per sq mile. Obviously, the population is not evenly distributed throughout either state, but if anything, it is probably denser in Wisconsin because it is concentrated in the northern 1/3 of the state.
Wisconsin does not have a large elk population. In fact, they were extinct in the state between 1880 and 1995 when 25 were reintroduced near Clam Lake, right in the middle of some of the heaviest wolf population in the state.
As of last winter, there were 134 elk, but wolves killed 3 (2%). There were an estimated 40 calves born this spring with 8 known mortalities (4 by bears, 3 of unknown causes, and 1 by natural accident, but 0 by wolves). Apparently the approximately 15 packs that inhabit this area didn’t know they were supposed to kill all the elk. I should also note that the elk population is heavily monitored; if one dies, they know about it.
Finally, I looked at depredation by wolves. Between 1976 and 1998, there were a grand total of 225 livestock animals (cattle, sheep, dogs, and fowl) killed by wolves in Wisconsin for an average of 10 per year. Most of the losses were dogs (142). In Idaho, between 1995 and 2001, there were 236 livestock animals (cattle, sheep, and dogs) killed by wolves for an average of 39 per year. Wisconsin does not have open range, most of the livestock was killed on private property, except for the dogs. A large percentage of the dogs killed seem to be hunting breeds, especially tracking dogs used for bear hunting. I could not find a breakdown for Idaho as to where the depredation occured, but from what I could find, dogs were a much smaller percentage of the fatalities in Idaho. I would theorize that the big difference is that livestock owners in Wisconsin typically keep closer control of their animals. I also found that while Wisconsin does have a program to reimburse livestock owners for losses due to wolves, they will not do so if it is found that the owner did not practice good husbandry, i.e. properly disposing of dead animals, maintaining adequate fencing, etc.
I also found that there is very little of the hysteria concerning wolves in Wisconsin. It is very rare to hear of anyone claiming to have been stalked by wolves. Children do not require an armed guard while they wait for the bus, and poodles are not snatched out of their owners arms. Does this mean that the people of Wisconsin are made of sterner stuff than Idahoans?
Ken Cole: according to the Billings Gazette report on the 122 sheep killed near Dillon, the ranchers were asked if they were implementing the recommended procedures used to frighten and keep wolves away from their livestock, i.e. monitor their livestock, etc. They declined to answer that question.
Interesting data. Amazing, no armed guards for the kids!
The Steel Mountain Pack is in the Smoky Mountains near the Trinity Lake area. Am confused on previous posts about likely genetic mixing with Yellowstone wolves. Long ways apart.
I learned from an important source yesterday that these people were offered a lot of help over time and repeated turned it down.
Of course Defenders no longer compensates for livestock losses in Idaho or Montana, but I understand if they were confronted with a claim like this they would probably reject it out of hand. Hopefully Montana won’t drain their small compensation account by giving these folks money for easily anticipated and avoidable losses.
Once all the facts are examined, the dollars are totaled, and the “big picture” is examined, I am so very curious why there is such fuss over wolves.
– wolves are an IUCN specie of least concern
– humans and wolves have coexisted for thousands of years
– humans have killed wolves for thousands of years
– the federal government, states, and NGO’s have spent millions of dollars to establish wolves in areas outside of areas where wolves are thriving. I think a sound argument could be made that the areas the wolves have been reintroduced into are marginal habitat areas based on the current landscape – ranching, hunting opportunity, sprawl conflicts, etc.
Yes, I’m well aware of this. I am also with Ralph on the compensation. It should be your responsibility to guard your sheep, especially when you have had recent attacks. This rancher did nothing and left it to someone else to look after his sheep while they were gone. He even mentioned that he only looked in on them once every 2-3 days. It doesn’t seem to be good business sense to me.
Constant guard of one’s own property sounds like anarchy to me.
Query, who should bear the additional labor or capital costs imposed on the grower by the new presence of wolves near livestock operations? For example, a grower has been wolf free, and all of a sudden a pack takes interest, harasses or predates on the stock.
You are right Dan, and that is one of the basic reasons for having government — to protect private property.
You and Dan want to discuss this in the abstract, but the facts of matter are only partially known; so I don’t know what kind of abstract argument to make.
For example, were the livestock operations there first, or were they moved there despite the knowledge the area might be dangerous?
Let us assume for this hypothetical these four situations (there are undoubtedly more, but too cumbersome to describe or comment on).
1. Livestock on private land which has been used consistently by owner/lessee for raising livestock for last twenty years. Wolves move in and prudent owner incurs cost of purchasing, training and feeding dogs and/or incurs additional capital cost and labor cost for fencing, non-lethal deterrent and property policing (pick up carcasses, etc.) and persistent herd presence to ward off wolves.
2. Livestock on leased public land used consistently by same or different lessee with no history of wolves in area (even though lessee is generally aware wolves are migrating toward the area)
3. Livestock on leased public land wolves known to be in immediate area for, say three years prior, but no problems have occurred.
4. Livestock on leased public land wolves have history in area and have been a recurring problem for lessee (and would be for prospective lessee) into the future.
Feel free to add any other qualifying facts.
I.am sure the ranchers wont except any responsibility. for there lack of actions.It is aways easier to cry wolf.one once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I guess I should have restated the question again for the hypo abore: Who should bear the additional labor or capital costs imposed on the grower by the new presence of wolves near livestock operations?
the cost of doing business ingresses every year. the growers should be more proactive to protect there stock.
the rancher should incur the cost in each event – just like the rest of us are forced to take responsibility for our property. the ESA required restoration of the wolves that were eradicated, the wolves were here first.
Muse – have you ever heard of the “open range”/fence-out laws ?
there’s a double standard in our country, and your question is indicative of just that.
I think anyone who has studied capitalism and ranching/farming would freely come to the conclusion that capitalism brings efficiency to the marketplace. With that as the backdrop, I think the real argument here is, Can the ranchers of Idaho afford the additional costs of wolves and efficiently bring their products to market? In other words, Can the ranchers of Idaho compete with the other producers in the market while bearing the additional costs of wolves? or; Is the marketplace willing to create a niche market along the line of wolf responsible products? i.e. pay a premium for products that where raised responsibly in a wolf area
In the case of number 1. [“Livestock on private land which has been used consistently by owner/lessee for raising livestock for last twenty years. Wolves move in and prudent owner incurs cost of purchasing, training and feeding dogs and/or incurs additional capital cost and labor cost for fencing, non-lethal deterrent and property policing (pick up carcasses, etc.) and persistent herd presence to ward off wolves],” I think the wolves should be shot and the owner perhaps compensated.
In the other 3 cases, the burden should be entirely on the livestock producer because federal public grazing fees are zero, practically speaking. Because of this large subsidy (basically free grazing), the producer should expect predation to be a normal, expected, uncompensated cost of business on these lands.
answer this question :
Who ought be held financially responsible when private livestock break down my fence, eat my private vegetation, and rub up – causing significant damage to my private home ?
Who do you believe ought compensate me, a landowner for that ?
Bonnie, you touched on a couple things about wolves in Wisconsin. The most outrage comes from a few cattle owners and mostly bear hunters and dog owners. I go into remote areas of the Nicolet National Forest into known wolf territory and camp just to be able to hear the wolves howl. I take my dog with me and an full aware of the risk involved. I would feel terrible if my dog were killed by a wolf – but I also understand that I am treading on their domain and would not wish the wolf be killed because of my own stupidity. What angers me the most is these so-called “hunters” of bears who use dogs to track, chase and tree a bear(in known wolf territory) while the “hunter” uses a radio tracking device to follow the dogs and hence find the bear. The “hunter” then points his high powered rifle at the scared, defenseless bear up in the tree and murders it in cold blood. What an awful scene that must be! They call this a sport??? I have no sympathy for these people or their dogs as they go about this type of accepted behavior(murder) of a defenseless, motionless creature! Why not just go to the zoo and kill the bears as they eat their lunch! To me it is poetic justice as they train their dogs and then “hunt” with them and they fall prey to wolves when treading into their territory – in a way, I feel that the wolves are helping protect the bears from such barbaric “hunting” techniques. I know wolf hunts will probably occur in Wisconsin in the near future – but I hope we can learn from what is going on in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and we can keep the barbarians from exterminating the Great Lakes wolf population.
The wolves in WI are a different species and smaller than the wolves in the west. ~60% of the size of the introduced wolves from AB.
Its always fun listening to someone talk about something they have absolutely no expirience talking about. For some reason emotions and facts rarely seem to mix.
Correction sorry that was me.
*Correction again: the above comment was for a post that got deleted*
This photo says a lot about ‘tolerance’ doesn’t it?
Your comment (3:59 PM) on who should compensate you for damage to your property from encroaching livestock. It sounds like trespass to me, and whatever damage is caused by somebody else’s stock, should result in compensation to you. That being said, open range/fence out apparently changes that legal outcome in some states. A prudent landowner might talk to his neighbor to see if the matter could be equitably resolved in your favor. Then see if the neighbor would bear all/part of the cost to PREVENT it from happening in the future. A reasoned solution in my mind.
I kind of think that is the way the concept ought to work with government wolves encroaching on land of a rancher (public grazing issue aside for the moment). Help pay for the preventive measures, as well as the damage done. Defenders advocates non-lethal measures, some of which are costly in the form of requiring capital outlays, or even recurring labor costs. All well and good, if they work in the short and long term (which some people have validly questioned). The real question is who pays for it. A rancher should not have to bear all the cost.
P.S. If reasoning doesn’t work in your livestock problem, get a good hot fence. Doesn’t cost much and with a few rags on it looks like a fladry, but with an invisible bite.
Post 2:24 PM
Scenarios 1-4: Who pays for preventive measures to keep wolves from livestock operations.
The reference point here is the individual rancher and the rancher’s reasonable expectation. If the encroachment by wolves on the property was unanticipated when the ranching activity began, and would not have been forseen as a cost of business, it would seem the better equity argument lies with the rancher. She/he is incurring a cost that was foist upon the operation directly as a result of government action. There is a justifiable reliance argument, that you ought to be able to keep doing business without an arbitrarily imposed new condition by your government. Never mind wolves were once here over 70 years ago, that is too remote in time.
It should not matter that the cost is preventive in nature, whether it is additional labor or capital cost to protect against wolf interference. It also may be a recurring cost. The question is who pays? It does not seem appropriate for the rancher to pay for all.
Scenarios 1 and 2 the rancher should be compensated for preventive measures.
Scenarios 3 and definitely 4 present a situation where the public lessee knows full well what he is getting into ahead of leasing- he assumed the risk- and the cost of protection should be just as any other cost of doing business for as long as the land is occupied.
Compensation for killed or injured stock – assuming a reasonable rancher standard of care should result in compensation (somebody mentioned that higher standard of care for WI livestock losses than in the NRM area). However, one of the big issues is actually proving up a claim that a loss was wolf caused, and that seems to have some equity problems too, like the time spent looking for carcass, and then actually proving the connection. Not sure how to deal with that.
THE OTHER ISSUE – Public Lands Grazing Subsidies: Ranchers should be weened from grazing subsidies, and gradually grazing prices should be increased to market levels within, say 3 to 5 years. Alternatively grazing on public lands should be eliminated altogether beginning with the ecologically most sensitive areas, with a phase out that eliminates it completely in 5-7 years (As a practical matter, it will never happen in my lifetime). A phase in for either would allow for adequate ranch planning, and the idea to catch on.
Ryan, there are only two species of wolf in N. America: gray (C. lupus) and red (C. rufus).
I agree with the option you present that grazing of livestock should be eliminated from the public lands. This grazing is usually only artificially profitable. The reason is the many grazing subsidies. Furthermore, grazing has many negative side effects (externalities) for other public land uses and users. These are not paid.
As it is now, those who would like to see grazing ended are not even allowed to engage in bidding to see if they or their members (if it is an organization) are willing pay more for no grazing than the grazer is for grazing.
I first thought about bidding when I was working on our first edition of “The Hikers Guide to Idaho.” That was in the early 1980s. I was hiking in Corral Creek in the White Knob Mountains just west of Mackay.
I saw a rare (for that country) moose. The area should have had scores of moose. It was potentially perfect habitat with springs and seeps everywhere. There were many old, abandoned beaver ponds, and willow and aspen on all the steep slopes with water. However, wherever the land flattened a bit, the seeps were trampled out by cattle, the springs were cow wallows, the willows were tall, dying, and often growing on pedestals (cow humps). The same was true for the quaking aspen.
What could a sportsman group do about it, or any group, for that matter? . . nothing but complain to the Lost River Ranger District, a district fully captured by grazing interests. Even if they were not, it would be very hard to get a grazing cutback. You could say”I’ll pay $500,000 to get the 50 cattle out of the drainage, but even that would not be an authorized transaction.
When I first heard of Jon Marvel, who was trying to outbid a rancher for a state grazing lease (Idaho allows bids, but the feds don’t), I immediately joined his budding organization, then named the Idaho Watersheds Project.
This option would eliminate the need to consider scenarios 2-4.
have you ever Bear hunted with dogs in Wisconsin? You are right I am not a hunter, never wanted to be or never will be. If I lived 200 years ago I would probably do it to survive. I saw a 3 part program on our local PBS channel dealing with the wolf controversy in Wisconsin. The scenario I described was exactly what was filmed with the bear “hunters”. One of the “hunters” dogs was injured while on the chase – but of course the “hunter” was no where near the dogs and he guessed that it was a wolf that attaked his dog. Of course it could have been a coyote, bear, wolf or a cat(yes we have big cats, too) – but of course the hunter blamed it on a wolf! They showed the “hunter” after the bear was “treed” as he shot the bear and it fell to the earth. So, correct me if I’m wrong – is this how it happens or was it staged? Is this a sport? I don’t think so! …Pretty lame if it is actually considered hunting!!
September 4, 2009 at 5:26 PM
“The wolves in WI are a different species and smaller than the wolves in the west. ~60% of the size of the introduced wolves from AB.”
The wolves, not a different species, introduced from Alberta into Idaho had an average weight for adults of 87 pounds. If you are correct that the Wisonsin wolves are 60% the size of the Alberta wolves that makes the Wisconsin wolves weighing on the average 52 pounds; about the size of a large coyote.
Can you give data on Wisconsin wolf weights?
Ralph, Speak-of-the-devil ! The Lost River Ranger District (i.e. The Forest Service) has just proposed paying $10,000 per rider in tax-payer dollars to literally hire cowboys to help herd private ranchers’ livestock on public land rather than reduce the number of cattle given the dire condition of the public land as documented by it’s own scientists. You remember the condition of that land on Pass Creek ~
I should probably do a post on this sometime.
Brian Ertz Your wondering who should be responsible for your fence and vegetables? You claim the thoughtless rancher should be responsible for protecting his sheep 24/7. So I guess you should be responsible for protecting your own property. If not then maybe you are a negligent property owner.
Let’s not forget that the sheep experiment station is pretty much the only impediment to establishing bighorn herds in eastern Idaho too.
As far as who should bear the cost, let’s look at those of us with backyard chickens. I lock my up in a coop at night and I’m in city limits. Yes, I had one killed last year. We bought a live trap, set it on my land, and took a feral cat to the humane society.
kudos on the public land ranching stand.
As for “just compensation”, I bring up Open Range laws as an obvious example of the double standard held. Private property rights, & ‘just compensation’ don’t mean thing when a rancher’s cattle trespass on my land, even destroying it. That’s to say nothing of the wild – we are all expected to take care of our own property ~ livestock, bear, deer, bad weather or feral cat.
I’d further say that compensation, even for private land grazing, should be taken care of in the free market, the way the rest of us have to do so – private insurance purchased by the rancher. Let the private insurance decide the premium based on likelihood of predation event – which might include geography, known population of predators, management practices, etc. If there’s not a market for private insurance – then that ought tell us something about the economic reality/appropriateness of the activity in the first place.
The problem with covering the cost without the rancher holding any responsibility is 2 fold :
a) it’s a double standard, everyone else must pay for insurance or cover the cost of their own oversight.
b) it results in what economists call a “moral hazard” i.e. When a third party covers the cost of insurance/compensation for a propert, the owner of that property doesn’t take care of it as well as if they payed for it via consequence or insurance. Anyone with a teenage driver knows what I’m talking about.
It’s not responsible for the public to spend tax-dollars on this interest group (especially with all the subsidies already enjoyed) while leaving most others in the country on their own (the double standard), it’s doesn’t encourage responsible livestock management (just the opposite), and it’s not responsible wolf/wildlife management to extirminate wolves for being wolves – we know better. It’s just plain bad policy.
with the wildlife: my sentiment exactly – but let’s hold that standard to the rancher too … that’s the point. taxpayers should not cover the cost of wildlife destroying my property.
another person’s property destroying my property is another question altogether. wildlife is wild – that’s one thing, but a man making a profit should not trespass on my land and be held harmless to the damage inflicted by his property, because being a person and being capable of abstract thought & a member of a society of laws – he is beholden to an implicit contract – namely, not to destroy another man’s property. wildlife is not capable of opting in to such, and so we should be responsible to take precaution, knowing that fact.
September 4, 2009 at 12:11 AM
Not really related to this photo but I did attend “Lords of Nature” movie tonight in Missoula, regarding the benefits of wolves and other major predators tonight followed by a panel of speakers. the movie was great, the panel not so great. One speaker, (originally from Canada), said conservationist groups shouldn’t sue, it is impolite. All panelists but one was trying to persuade the goodness of delisting…. very strange.
OKAY!!!! I’ll take full responsibility since I was the one who put this panel together and I agree with “gline”. At times you just don’t know what kind of fish you have till it surfaces.
I’ve had lots of feedback since, and the #1 complaint was with Montana’s Wolf Director, Caroline Sime, and her condescending attitude, coupled with her failure to respond to legitimate, sincerely offered questions.
Fortunately, this entire program was taped and will be available on CD for those interested. I’ll have a cost next week, I anticipate it will be minimal.
Also the movie is available from “Greenfireproductions.org”.
Something that struck me the most in the movie was the stark difference in attitudes between the progressive and cooperative Wildlife Agencies of Minnesosota vs those of
Montana and Idaho. Hopefully, Montana and Idaho will learn from their counterparts in the Midwest.
The good news is that we had between 130-140 people show up for this event who asked very intelligent, well thought out questions….however, many of those went unanswered.
That sounds like stewardship to me Brian…
sorry jb! no offense to you whatsoever! But it took me a couple of days to get over that panel. The movie was wonderful and I was very glad to see a packed house. What is the tired argument from Caroline regarding how Minnesota does it better than us? Their landscape is different??? Minnesota Fish and game spoke of the west and how we haven’t had time to change our culture…why cant Fish and Game just take responsibility? like for education to change the culture of hatred??? I just don’t get it.
Average weight somewhere in the mid 60’s for wolve in the mid west. (according to the DNR website)
Average weight for wolves in the rockies,
Some where aroung 105-110 per this website.
“Ryan, there are only two species of wolf in N. America: gray (C. lupus) and red (C. rufus).”
Really, your correct I should have said different subspecies. Of which there are several.
I’ve been on hunts with dogs and seen the amount of work that goes into training the dogs, tracking etc. The little blurb PBS I truly doubt showed the true picture. You could go watch me hunt birds with my pointer and I’m sure you’d make the same comments. That being said, I have spent 100’s of hours training my pointers to hunt.
The little blurb was a couple hours! You seem to think it is a sport – killing an animal sitting in a tree? The dogs deserve to get attacked by the wolves if this type of killing is a sport. If you want to train dogs go teach them to chase cattle off our public lands. If you need excercise go for a walk or a run – maybe even take a trip into the wilderness and enjoy being with all the wildlife without a gun instead of taking such pleasure in killing wild animals who have as much right to be on this planet as people like you! I have also read many articles and especially in hunting and outdoor mags. Most people who hunt with dogs seem to agree that the only good wolf is a dead wolf. It is this mentality that gives me no sympathy for such pathetic forms of “hunting”. I’ve backpacked in the rockies and Alaska many, many times without a gun and have been yards away from grizzlies, black bears and mountain lions and feared for my life and never once felt the need to exterminate any of these creatures. I was treading upon their domain and again if I or my dog got killed it would have been from my own stupidity. I respect these animals and their rightful place in our ecosystems – if one takes precautions we are actually able to coexist. I don’t need to show my superiority over them by using dogs, radio tracking and all other technology available so I can murder them as they sit motionless in a tree!… They should allow open season on cattle grazing on public lands – then you can get your kicks shooting cows – this would preserve our lands without fear of losing a dog and you could still get your kicks by killing something!!
“The little blurb was a couple hours!”
Holy crap, a couple of hours. You must be an expert then!
I eat the vast majority of animals I have killed including bears and cougars. For the record I have never killed a bear over dogs, although I did chase one up a tree myself (no dogs) and fill my freezer with it. I’ve also hiked without a gun, I’ve done chilcoot pass, resresuction pass, mt st helens, mt ranier, Sky lakes and Mtn lakes wilderness trails in the last 5 years. Not counting hunting excursions in which I have hiked all over the steens mts, Kalmyopsis, and other wilderness areas.
Do you know where your meat comes from, or are you happy to let someone else do your dirty work?
I never once claimed to be an expert!.. That’s all it took to be able show what the “hunt” was all about. Again, my point is – shooting a bear sitting motionless in a tree is not a sport!!! Plus, if your dogs are out of sight you have no right to complain if they fall prey to a wolf. The idea is that if you take the proper precautions when in wolf territory – you can reduce the probabiliy of losing a dog. It’s the mentality that you and your dog have more right than the wolf to live on this planet. I respect the wolf as a hunter much more than the person using all available technology and a pack of dogs. Maybe while you spend so much time training your dogs – you can train them to stay away from wolves so they don’t get killed!!! Just like driving a car – you risk your life every time you drive down the road – well the dogs risk their life every time you let them run miles ahead of you into wolf territory! Deal with it!!!
“shooting a bear sitting motionless in a tree is not a sport”
Neither is kicking a football through two uprights, but everything that leads up to it is.
BTW, I only own upland dogs (pointers) and a Waterdog (Retriever) and don’t generally hunt in wolf country. The difference is I feel I am responsible to protect my dogs from threats (rare) if it ever does happen I will choose my dogs over just about anything.
Ryan, one more thing. My whole point was in response to Bonnie and who are the people who want to exterminate wolves in Wisconsin. It is the people who hunt with dogs. So, they hunt bear with dogs and they risk losing a dog. Go buy another dog instead of blaming the wolf for the”hunters” stupidity when he allows the dog to get miles away from him and it falls prey to a wolf.
“Wisconsin does not have a large elk population. In fact, they were extinct in the state between 1880 and 1995 when 25 were reintroduced near Clam Lake, right in the middle of some of the heaviest wolf population in the state.
As of last winter, there were 134 elk, but wolves killed 3 (2%). There were an estimated 40 calves born this spring with 8 known mortalities (4 by bears, 3 of unknown causes, and 1 by natural accident, but 0 by wolves). Apparently the approximately 15 packs that inhabit this area didn’t know they were supposed to kill all the elk. I should also note that the elk population is heavily monitored; if one dies, they know about it.”
Wisconsin has about 1 million deer and the wolves that naturally migrated to WI are deer hunters, in stark contrast the wolves that were reintroduced to the GYE fed significantly more on elk.
I’ll have to check through my notes, but If I remember right there are more deer in MI, ME, and WI than total native ungulate #’s in the OR, WA, ID, MT, WY, CO, and UT combined.
So, again what you state has no bearing on my point. The peole who are most against wolves here in Wisconsin are the people who hunt bear with dogs!!! I am fully aware of the popualtion of deer, elk, wolves, etc. in Wisconsin. I read the DNR website weekly and keep up to date on wolfpack territories and depradations. I have spent many hours hiking and camping in northen Wisconsin. I went to school in Stevens Point, and studied at Clam Lake. I know more about Wisconsin than you ever will. I know where all the wolves are and I camp right in the middle of their known inhabited areas. It’s nice that you can read and actually spew out figures – but that has no relation to any of my points. I take my dog and let him get only a few hundred yards at most ahead of me. I know that is even a risk for my dog when I am in wolf territory. And again, I would feel terrible if my dog got killed by a wolf because of my stupidity – but that doesn’t mean I’d want the wolf killed or the rest of the wolves removed from the state. I never claimed to be an expert about your part of the country except that I have travelled and hiked there in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and truly love that area of the country. It pains me to see so many people who have no respect for wolves and many other animals there also. Not to mention the degradation of the environment from the cattle industry, mining interests, oil, natural gas, etc., etc., etc. I said to Bonnie that we in Wisconsin hopefully can learn from what is going on out there as Wisconsin probably will have wolf hunts in the near future. So, keep making your points and argue about things which have no relation to my points. Again, killing an animal sitting motionless in a tree is murder – regardless of what you did to get it there.
I think I have it figured out now. You never liked hound hunting, and now that they don’t like wolves eating their hounds their even more evil. Okay got it.
I’m sure you know way more about WI than me, don’t really care to be honest. When you talk about how abused the west is by profiteers, it sure seems a lot nicer than the vast majority of the great lake states I’ve been too. People in the west have to work too, what do you propose they do?
I guess I was mistaken – I thought you could read.
I (PROUDLY) live next door to the business that put up this sign – if you’re not from this part of Idaho you have no business condemning those of us who want the wolves “controlled”. You don’t see on a DAILY basis what these animals are doing to all other wildlife- they are decimating the elk population, killing ranchers’ stock, among other things. They don’t kill only what they need to eat – they kill for sport, and most of the time they don’t even eat what they kill. I had to call fish and game to come “finish off” an elk that was STILL ALIVE in my backyard – the wolves had eaten it’s back legs off and left it alive. IN MY BACKYARD. That’s when you know you have a problem with an animal- when they’re coming this close to people. I can’t even let my daughter go outside to play. We desperately need to control these wolves. Don’t talk crap about what we KNOW when you have NOTHING to back it up.
The photo was taken by a person of the Salmon area. I’d say that person knows as much as you . . . more so if you say you can’t let your daughter out to play.
Your argument has been used for 16 years now. Where are the wolf attacks? I know you don’t see wolves every day even though the area around North Fork is indeed wolf country.
About the wolf-killed elk in your backyard, still alive. I’ve heard those kind of stories. Try to track them down and they become greatly modified or just disappear.
. . . . and don’t you dare tell a fellow Idahoan he can’t comment because he’s not from Salmon!
Hannah, how did the wolves eat the back legs off the elk and not get seriously injured themselves? While wolves have eaten animals alive, they go for the innards and the animal does eventually die.
That’s how fake stories are discovered. Wolves prefer the organ tissue. They eat the muscle later. Now if there really was an elk in your backyard in that condition, think black bear.
Still more Hannah,
I know that country and the residences in scattered homes and trailer courts along and near the Salmon River. It is on the edge of millions of acres of rugged mountains, backcountry, and wilderness. Between Carmen and North Fork, I have seen elk many times, deer of course, moose, coyotes, bear, and I know there are cougar.
If you fear for your daughter, how is it you single out wolves? How can anyone live in such country and complain about the wildlife? Most Americans would wonder, I think.
Yeah, heh, I always wonder, out of all the things to fear in the wild, why wolves and them only? Yet they are just around the lowest cause of human deaths, how many humans deaths caused by wolves have been documented this year? I mean, one man can strangle a 90-100lb with his bare hands. Its just all the fairy tales from 400 years ago to promote wolf extermination due to cattle depredations, you know, that they were the man-eating devil or something. I’d fear getting confronted with something a lot bigger then a wolf.
I like to study wolf-human encounters, and the only time I know you get “death by wolf” is when it has rabies, or on very rare occasions attacks as a pack (in a rare event when a pack is habituated to humans, then attacks when finding a human threatening or possibly competing for territory). In addition to the latter, a pack may take hostile action when one invades a wolf den.
If anyone wants to know more about the behavior of wolves to humans I would suggest reading the downloadable PDF “A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada” and the book “The Great American Wolf” Bruce Hampton books.
Often I have seen here and other places cite that the majority of Americans are for wolf reintroduction. Is this a simple poll of Americans or has the issue been fully studied. For example, the majority of Americans have indicated in a simple poll that they would be willing to pay for “green” building products. e.g. Lumber that came from sustainable means. Because of the paper chain and other expenses brought to the marketplace, “green” lumber costs a little bit more per 2×4, 2×6, etc. When this poll was put to the test, it was shown that the majority of people bought lumber that was slightly cheaper and from “non-green” sources, solely because it was cheaper than the “green” lumber even when the “green” lumber was advertised as “green” and from sustainable sources. So, the moral of the story is that in a poll Americans indicate one thing, but when it comes to reality they pick the exact opposite choice. I have always wondered if the same people who indicated that they are for the reintroduction of wolves would still be for it if we reintroduced them outside of Seattle, or San Francisco, or Chicago.
I don’t know about polling, but the vast majority of public comments on the EIS for the ID/WY wolf reintroduction were favorable. I would imagine alot of those did come from people living far away from the proposed areas who wouldn’t have to adapt to wolves or do anything at all.
But we live in a majority rules democracy, public land is public land, and you’re about 15 years too late to argue the point.
We live in a majority rules democracy? I think we live in a representative democracy….I think it is best that we live in a representative democracy because the majority is not always the best informed….15 years too late??….Is that also like saying what’s done is done? Would that be the same as saying a species is already gone from here so you’re to late? With my last comment I truly just wonder if the it would be different if the question was asked in a more realistic nature i.e. if wolves where in your backyard…
Wolves are in my backyard…and I don’t mind them being here, but all the wolf watchers who where supposed to be here spending money at our businesses in lieu of the elk hunters haven’t showed up yet…I like wolves, but I also like abundent elk for hunters so I support wolves and hunting wolves.
Federal reintroduction of this particular species has more to do with replenishing a species that was exterminated, not how it would contribute to human hunting. Please look outside the box …and elk numbers are ok for hunting. livestock loss by wolves stats are extremely low compared to disease, other predators and dogs. Really really sick of the elk are disappearing because of wolves argument when the wolves are making them move around instead making you a better hunter….. again look outside the box please….
Furthermore, we need this species to add to biodiversity… we need all species…science isn’t a bunch of bs…
I am sick of it because the best Idaho Fish and Game can come up with is a possible reduction in two areas — the Lolo and Sawtooth. Montana has stable elk population. It increased last year in Wyoming. The claims about the elk deficit in the Sawtooth are very sudden. The Lolo has been down since the early 1990s.
Wolves mostly change the way elk behave. That was expected to happen, and it has. Most of the people who can’t find elk and who have hunted quite a while haven’t adjusted to that. But 16 years have passed since the wolves were introduced. That means many of the hunters are quite new. There have been wolves here since they were teenagers or younger. Blaming the wolf has just become an accepted excuse for lack of hunting success.
If elk numbers are ok for hunting, why is the F&G year after year shortening the seasons and the harvest even though they claim the number of hunters is dropping? Wolves are not exterminated, they are thriving throughout the world…As for the biodiversity argument…why is that the only argument people turn to…and why are we waging war against so many other species e.g. hawkweed, napweed, mud snails, milfoil, brook trout, and on and on and on…when they are just filling an open niche….when I was a kid we did not have any barred owls around here. About 15 years ago they moved in here….my point is that ecosystems are dynamic not static, so maybe wolves had run there course in some places.
By 15 years too late I meant the reintroduction occurred 15 years ago. Maybe you can invent a time machine and argue about the merits/support of reintroduction when the rest of America did.
The elk in the Sawtooth Zone are still using the same browsing patterns and migratory routes they always have, I’ve witnessed this for the last forty years. The only change is they spend less time lingering in usual browse areas and there are less elk..I find them in the same places I always have.. As well, I have been angered at I.D.F.G. myself because the wolf depredations of this Zone should have been admitted to five years ago, also rifle cow elk permits in units 33-34-35-36- are no longer available, second year running I believe…Removing 55 wolves from this zone will not help the elk..I need to see the 55 removed by hunters on foot with rifles to even believe they can do it..I seriously doubt this will happen.. I can not speak for other hunt units.. Getting your elk in the Sawtooth Zone has never been a simple task.. The wolf Sawtooth Zone includes U39, and that unit historically has been very difficult to hunt, 39 is very vertical and heavily wooded…
Are you really saying what I think you are saying? That history is not worth a second look and not open to debate?
Aaron MC, the majority of the fears are strictly fairy tale fears. Ralph, I agree that lack of hunter success is blamed on wolves since they are an easy scapegoat. They weren’t here, then they are, now people can’t find elk so easily. I had this argument with my dad not too long ago.
I’m just surprised that you are so keen on debating a decision (the reintroduction) long past the point you can influence it. Many folks are tired of the same old arguments being made for so long.
If you like wolves then you’ve got a recovered population. If you want control of them then you’ve got that too with hunting and all the past, present, and future removals by federal and state agencies.
I am 4th generation Idahoan on both sides of my family. Recently, I have read numerous articles, threads, and blogs that have completely belittled and thrashed the people of Idaho. e.g. New York Times. I think if this issue were so dead and people where so tired of it, they wouldn’t be so interested in the propaganda everyone seems to be throwing out left and right. After reading backwoods, misinformed, redneck, murderous, etc. I am questioning why this was worthwhile in the first place!
Understood. While everyone may not be tired of it, I sure am. I can’t wait until everyone treats and views the wolf like every other wild animal, but I wonder if that day will ever come. The wolf issue isn’t really as complicated as people make it out to be and the demonization and propaganda on both sides is inexcusable.
Thanks for your comments. While, of course, you might not be entirely correct (I don’t know), I like the fact that you talk about the details — the hunting units, specific elk behavior, the history of elk hunt rules, and the geography of the placek, etc.
It gives your views more weight than most things posted here about changes in elk habits and hunting.
Over the last few years Montana fish and game has blamed low fawn recruitment on dry spring conditions after mild winters and wolf advocates say that overharvesting whitetail does in region one is the reason for reduced hunter success as of late. (I never had reason to believe that mild winter and spring was a problem). Last winter I observed more snow than any other year since 1996. Winter kill was profound in 1996-97.
Spring conditions were wetter for sure this spring. Extra deer tags for the region have been reduced to offset these low recruitment numbers tho. I hope winter kill is not the excuse now, but my faith in government entities is pretty low and I dont trust what they portray as truths. My question to those that know more than I is, how long will it take for the deer to rebound if wolves obviously dont reflect the cause of failing deer herds as professed by wolf advocates? I want to hunt here not travel five hundred miles east to hunt deer. Or is it global warming causing this now too?
I simply cannot agree with your assertion that wolves have little impact on the numbers of elk. The respective game departments of ID, MT and WY do not agree with you either, as well as recent research by credible scientists. And remember these wolf populations are still growing at a dramatic rate of 20% per year (which may or may not change depending wolf hunter success or Judge Molloy’s pending decision).
That elk behave differently in areas where wolves are present cannot be denied. In fact it is obvious, based on antecdotal observation by hunters everywhere. Wolves keep them from some grazing/browse areas, and push them into steeper ground, typically at higher elevations with heavier cover. Even hunters who have figured this out are not getting elk.
The simple nutritional needs of these 100+ pound wolves suggest a considerable additive impact on elk populations. As you know a NRM wolf will consume between 8-23 elk/year (average 16), mostly between November and April. While the claim is they take only the old, sick and the young, that statement needs a little closer attention. These wolves will take healthy mature bull elk temporarily weakened by the rut, and they will take perfectly healthy young calves of both sexes (from birth until yearling, but mostly about 6 months, if I read the literature correctly). This is confirmed by Stahler and Smith in YNP over the last decade. And, presumably the wolf – elk behavior has credible application to all wolf- elk in the NRM. Additionally, reserach by Dr. Scott Creel at Montana State University, released just last month in a National Academy of Science publication , shows that wolves keep elk to higher elevation, less nutritious browse, rather than grazing habitat, for some time resulting in lower weight gain, and ultimately culminating in lower successful calf survival rates. Harassment and fear of predation seem to be the issue there, according to Dr. Creel, resulting in weight loss, which makes winter survival even tougher. The wolves also keep entire herds from critical winter range, which results in higher mortality.
One only has to do the simple math to get an idea of elk mortality from direct predation. One thousand more wolves x avg. 16 elk/year = 16,000 elk. Of course, not all elk would have survived in winter anyway, but the example at a glance does seem to suggest that increasing wolves impact elk populations. There are, of course, many other variables that affect the time series data showing increases and decreases in elk population like weather (bad winters especially, but also drought), habitat changes (logging has improved habitat in some areas, and these areas now growing over with reprod).
And, as for the NRM comparison to Wisconsin, and why the wolves there have, sof far not killed many of the newly introduced elk in WI. Think – smaller wolves, and elk 3x the size of their puny deer. It is highly unlikely these 60 pound ankle biters have figured out elk make good prey, when smaller deer and a largely unbroken history that links wolves to deer. If bears do not get young born elk calves first, expect the smaller wolves will figure out they are nearly as easy to snag as deer fawn, if they can get past mama elk It is just a matter of time. It is also my understanding Wisconsin intends a wolf season within the next 2-3 years.
I can’t wait until everyone treats and views the wolf like every other wild animal, but I wonder if that day will ever come. The wolf issue isn’t really as complicated as people make it out to be and the demonization and propaganda on both sides is inexcusable.
People seem to refuse to see wolves simply as wolves and nothing else.
Wilderness Muse, there is not that much size difference between the wolves in Wisconsin and those in the Northern Rockies. Deer are probably the preferred prey since they are more plentiful. Wolves in the Great Lakes are perfectly capable of taking down moose.
You appear to be the expert in ungulate habitat ecology…
How about giving a few reasons why elk are important to maintaining diverse wildlife populations and healthy biodiversity within ecosystems. In other words ..what benefits are derived from having elk present other than to hunt them?
I have not seen this in the media, but the wolf shot at Bull Trout Lake (in the Sawtooth Zone), was a GPS collared wolf from a nearby pack. The wolf’s killer claimed it was bothering his horse. I don’t buy that. He had time to go assemble his rifle (that’s what newspaper articles reported). He likely knew he was shooting a collared wolf, that he could have easily scared off. IDFG has asked that collared wolves not be killed, but it’s not illegal.
There have been wolves around Bull Trout Lake for years and often campers hear them howling. I’ve seen quite a few hunters around Bull Trout and Cape Horn, looking for wolves. When the rifle season starts, and there are more hunters in the field, thus more gut piles to attract wolves, is probably when we will see many more wolves get shot.
“One only has to do the simple math to get an idea of elk mortality from direct predation. One thousand more wolves x avg. 16 elk/year = 16,000 elk. Of course, not all elk would have survived in winter anyway, but the example at a glance does seem to suggest that increasing wolves impact elk populations.”
Simple math is the problem. Short study lengths (most are 2-5 years) are also problematic. The effects of wolves on elk and other ungulates is likely to moderated by a host of factors. Getting “good” (i.e. adequate) data to determine how these complex ecological relationships play out is near impossible. I suspect it will be many years before we fully understand the nature of the relationship between elk and wolves in the northern Rockies.
Does one wolf consume 16 elk per year? Seeing as how individual wolves would not be able to take down an adult elk, are these calves they are talking about? Is this an average? It seems to me that one 16 elk for each wolf seems like a phenomenal success rate, which anyone who knows anything about any predator knows they are not successful 100% of the time.
This Department of the Interior (a seeming throw back to the BUSH administration), and those states which choose to destroy our wildlife, apparently wish to quickly forge ahead to the creation of Soylent Green status…I, for one, will never forget the scene with Edgar G Robinson having to choose to be “recycled” into Soylent Green, but first asking to see films of our parks, forests and wildlife before he died…
Remember that hunters choose to kill the best animals…leaving behind those who will sire more average examples of the prey…eventually reducing the most desirable prey…FOR thrills and blood lust and NOT HIGH ENOUGH FEES…
Hunters who today do not need wild meat in order to survive may one day find themselves being “recycled.”
We need to put our energies and money into helping to turn around global warming before folks chosing to live close to oceans, rivers, creeks, lakes, and streams have to move to higher ground. We must reduce our use of resources by using renewable energy sources and preparing our homes so that we do not have to use so much air conditioning. Having stuffed bears and wolves on the walls of our homes do not help prepare our homes for increases in temperature.
If elk are so hard for the hunters to find why are the statewide harvests still above anything pre-1990? And they are still 200% of what they were in the late 70s.
I think the “I can’t find any elk” is more of a reflection of the change in how you bought your tags. We used to have 2 main zones something like “valley or mountain”. If you didn’t find something you could go hunt in a different unit as long as you stuck with valley/valley or mountain/mountain. Now it’s pick your unit and stick with it. A bit harder for us city dwellers to scout each unit to find out where we should buy a tag for. Pick the wrong unit and poof, no elk.
Forgot to leave a source on the harvests. Page 2 of
Just to amplify your point, the success rate for wolves is around less then 10% per a hunt attempt. Pretty low.
Why was there such a decrease in 1995 with no recovery to pre-1995 levels? Is this real or a change in data collection methods?
A single wolf most certainly is capable of killing an adult elk; they’ve been known to kill adult moose. But obviously the pack social system is more conducive to successful hunting of large prey. Certainly the 16 elk/yr. is an average; that comes out to about 1 elk/23 days for 1 wolf if you figure it over the entire year. If a wolf can eat 10 lbs. of meat in one feeding, then it is entirely reasonable that a wolf could consume a 700-800 lb. elk in 23 days (or more calves). This has nothing to do with success rate.
Lynne, seems you don’t buy anything anybody but yourself has to say. Why is everyone a liar but you?
Jay Barr, with the numbers you put up then it seems that the wolves would still not be able to decimate the herds like people are claiming. How many elk on average are shot by hunters and hit by cars?
This is for Ralph and Hannah:
It’s weird how some myths persist and persist. A few years back, there was serious talk of reintroducing wolves to Olympic National Park in Washington State. Deer wander into those towns in the wintertime, and dine on people’s rosebushes and vegetable gardens, among other things(yeah, things like kale and cabbage, mind you). In any case, I remember seeing a letter to the editor from some woman who was afraid that if wolves were reintroduced to Olympic National Park, they would get out of the park chasing deer, but if they saw her daughter walking home from school, she essentailly said that they would stop chasing dder and chase her daughter! It was laughable, but some myths just never seem to die.
That is where wolf education would be handy-I’ve seen a few videos in the local video store. I never bought that myth as a child… thought it was ridiculous.
There is one point I almost never see addressed in the “wolves reduce ungulate numbers” controversy. It seems to me that many of these units are managed for maximum possible elk numbers, for the benefit of hunters and to the possible detriment of any other species. Elk feedgrounds are one example of this phenomenon.
In such a case, are wolves just doing what *should* be done- bringing elk numbers in balance with the environment- or are they reducing herds below a level where they are sustainable?
I don’t see a drop in elk numbers alone as a problem. I don’t think ecosystems should ever be managed as giant game farms. If the wolves reduce elk numbers because the elk were overpopulated in the first place, I don’t see a problem.
There is no feasible way to introduce wolves to Olympic, it is an isolated area, that is surrounded by the sound, the ocean and freeways that carry many thousands of people every single day, it would be a black hole to introduce to that area, that would require capture and movement actions to continue a genetic exchange. And No, I don’t think they would chase human children, but it would be one of the most difficult places in the US to re-introduce wolves to…
That is the point about introducing (or is it reintroducing) wolves into Olympic National Park, it is isolated, has seawater within a few miles on three sides, no public lands grazing, and an adjacent Makah reservation to the NW. Major freeways are on the east side of Puget Sound, not on the peninsula. Non native mountain goats were introduced into the park years ago; wolves might be a benefit to the ecosystem.
As far as black holes for wolves go Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming seem to be that already. Perhaps a few more black holes, in other areas, are not a bad idea.
You’d have to check the states’ harvest records to see how the kill stacks up between wolves and humans: for ID wolves 846 (end of yr. 2008) * 16 = ~13,500. From what little I know about ID, there is little data to suggest that wolves are “decimating” ungulates anywhere in the state; all but a tiny handful of the units/zones are at/above management objective for elk. I think the issue is not whether wolves are having excessive negative effects on deer/elk herds, but whether the number of deer/elk are suitable for the habitat (how often do the states reassess these objective?). One other big issue is that larger #s of deer/elk allow the state agencies to sell that many more permits, so it’s in their interest to maintain high (artificially so?) herd sizes. Is what wolves take “competition” with humans? Research from lots of places shows that wolves tend to kill inferior (my word; ie. very young/old, sick, disadvantaged/unlucky) prey. On the other hand humans mostly harvest prime-aged ungulates.
Jay Barr and others,
This comment doesn’t apply to the heavily forested areas of northern Idaho or wilderness areas, but in many hunting units in south central Idaho, not to mention eastern Idaho, cattle and sheep consume 90% or more of the forage that elk could eat.
If the livestock was gone, elk objectives could be set much higher because the land would support many more elk than it can now.
I spent the last 5 days up around Stanley! Walked into 4th of July lake, Washington Basin, all the way to Castle Peak. Then went to upper Hardin creek, came down through lower hardin creek to the Salmon river.
Never saw a single Wolf, I did see tracks but know Wolves , saw about 15 Elk, a few Deer, and a Mountain Goat and 4 Black Bears.
Every person that owned a 4 wheeler or Motorcycle must have went to Stanley this weekend for a last hoorah of camping season. Half of them didn’t have the new license plates required for ORV’s. Never saw a Forest Service employee either, but did see Fish and Game up checking on people Hunting Wolves.
Did not hear of anyone shooting a Wolf that Lynne claims are so easy to kill! I took my Video Camera and tracked many miles hoping to get a chance at seeing a Wolf to prove how hard it is to get a shot at one.
stayed off the main trails by a few hundred yards and side hilled just to be in more timbered cover. So after my little journey I’d say that 55 wolves will not be shot in the Sawtooth zone “BY HUNTERS”. If the FWS goes in with Helicopters and kills them then that’s a differen’t story. I did see open glass cockpit copters flying in a lot of places which I have never seen up there normally!
If anyone has a long lens, please get a photo of the copters. It’s probably nothing, but it’s worth a photo.
I was in Heavly timbered areas when I saw them, so I couldn’t get a photo,I have a 600mm zoom on my Nikon which I had with me too. I also Cow Called and Bugled but only got responses from a couple bow hunters. The Wolf tracks I saw were fresh and the scat looked to have deer hair up in Hardin creek, the other areas I only saw tracks. Most hunters in Hardinn creek and 4th of july basin, I asked them if they saw any Wolves and they had not!
I’ve had one in my neighborhood three times in the last two days. It was mostly in my neigbors “yard” and he got some great pics of it.
There is one little thing you forgot, how are you going to ensure genetic diversity in this area? South of the area, there are many farms and people who raise livestock. I did a lot of field studies in that area when I was in school and even the elk on the peninsula show signs of being genetically stymied…in other words, to many generations are starting to breed within the same family lines. At least the elk can find other genetic lines if they move south and they won’t face opposition like wolves would. The peninsula may be remote, but the surrounding areas contain more human habitation that all three of the states wolves are in now…
One other thing I forgot to say was how bad the Hardin creek area has been devastated by cattle! I saw them all the way up to the big burn and saddle looking down into Yankee fork! I can”t understand why the hell they are running cattle up there??????
Also ther has been a bunch of new testing for mine exploration, which I think Ralph brought up a year or so ago, they tear the hell outta everything just doing that!
I agree with Cris, the western states are managed like enormous game ranches.
Jay Barr, I think that the elk populations are probably articifically high in most of these places. That is probably where a lot of the devastation of population belief is coming from. Since you don’t see these herds because they are spread out more people think the wolves just killed all of them.
I think Craig has his finger on the problem — cattle.
I think before the wolves introduced, that elk were too high for the available habitat (which can have a negative impact on the vegetation). But it was all about bringing in the dollar, and wolves hunt elk, so they were held as a negative impact on the economy, which is one of the factors resulting in their extermination. Now an elk population free from wolves will generally be higher. And I imagine Idaho has gotten quite used to that amount. Then, wolves get reintroduced, elk go down in some places, everyone panics and proclaim the elk are getting decimated. That’s pretty much how I know it.
Barb and Save Bears:
There has been some controversy as to whether mountain goats are native ot the Olympic Peninsula or not. Some people feel that there actually are or were native mountain goats in the area at one time. Be that as it may, the park removed, and(I think) relocated some of the goats, who in any case occupy the high conutry. However, Olympic National Park has an abundant elk and deer population. Some people feel the population is a bit *too* abundant, hence the idea of reintroducing wolves(to eat the elk and deer). The Makah Reservation is nearby, but then, so is the town of Forks, now mostly famous for being the setting of Stephanie Meyers’ vampire series. Be that as it may, people in the area didn’t want wolves reintroduced at the time(at least the ones in Forks and Sequim didn’t), because they seem ot have bought the kind of myths Hannah seems to have bought into. However, you are right about the idea that reintroducing wolves possibly benefiting the ecosystem there. The way elk brows, reduction in elk numbers might go some way to encourage the gradual growth of a more natural forest there. Wolf reingroduction has already had something of this effect in Yellowstone.
My only concern with re-introduction into the Olympic Peninsula area, is how do we ensure genetic intermingling and diversity? That was the black hole I was referring to, there is no way with the human population densities and where they reside, in addition to the natural barriers in this particular ecosystem to hope their would be genetic intermingling. Genetic intermingling is one of the major points that is argued in the lawsuits concerning the Rocky Mountain populations, so how could it be thrown out the window in this particular ecosystem? With out constant intervention from humans in the form of capture and relocation of populations, which in turn could and most probably would disrupt family and pack groups, I just don’t see it from a scientific point being a viable option for this area. Would they be beneficial? I am sure they would, as to bringing the ecosystem back into a more natural balance, but there are just some areas, it is not a viable solution any longer.
Here are the sources for information on my last post, for anyone interested.
1. Elk consumption by wolves 8-23/year ( November – April is the standard research period) remainder of year may total to slightly more. I used the mean/median of 16 for illustrative purposes only.
Personal communications with Ed Bangs, Wolf Program Coordinator USFWS (10/08); Steve Nadeau, Wolf Program Coordinator, IDGF (10/08).
See also, Hamlin, K. L. and J. A. Cunningham. 2009. Monitoring and assessment of wolf-ungulate interactions and population trends within the Greater Yellowstone Area, southwestern Montana, and Montana statewide: Final Report. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Wildlife Division, Helena, Montana, USA. Page vii (7-23/elk per year).
2. Wolves do not always select the old and weak, although they often do. They kill healthy calves (competing with cougar and bear), as well as mature bulls and prime cows.
See Stahler, D.R., Smith, D.W., et al. 2006. Foraging and Feeding Ecology of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus): Lessons from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. Journal of Nutrition 136: 1923S.
Study period of 1995-2004 showed YNP wolves selected for elk 88% over other ungulates. Of elk kills the following percentages were represented: bulls (43%), prime age cows (25%), calves (18%), old cows (15%). For the winter months this is a mean of 1.9 elk killed per wolf per 30 day period. This equals about 8-20 elk/ wolf/ year; summer diet seems oriented toward smaller mammals and vegetation. Don’t know if it has been updated.
3. Elk behavior changes that result in weight loss and reduced calf recruitment – Creel S, Winnie JA & Christianson D 2009. Glucocorticoid stress hormones and the effect of predation risk on elk reproduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. advanced online edition 7/13/09. Creel Website: http://www.montana.edu/wwwbi/staff/creel/creel.html
4. NRM wolves reportedly are 30% to 60% larger by weight than Wisconsin wolves.
WI – Range 50-100 pounds. Average: M- 75; F-60
NRM – Varies based on source population. Avg. 80-100 pound, up to 130 lbs.;
http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/ see Recognizing a Gray Wolf
In the NRM, adult male gray wolves average over 100 pounds, but may weigh up to 130 pounds. Females weigh slightly less than males.(Mech as referenced in the Final NRM delisting rule, April 2, 2009, 74 FR 15123).
Stahler, et al., referenced above, refers to average YNP wolves at 100 pounds.
5. The reason the small, but growing elk herds in Wisconin have not yet been bothered is that wolves are smaller and conditioned to dieting on deer. WI wolves are smaller (see above) and even WI whitetail deer in the WI are thought to be generally smaller than mule deer of the West.
Moose are not big in thei WI wolf diet either. There are fewer than 40 moose in all of WI according to WI DNR, and most certainly the larger of the Great Lakes wolves can and do take down moose regularly, but WI wolves likely prefer deer because they are less dangereous.
Wilderness Muse……Once again, you appear to be an expert in wolf and ungulate ecology, so I’m wondering if you’ve done studies on femur marrow fat percentage and survival probability of elk?
My understanding is that the prolonged drought (over 10 years) has caused a nutritional deficit in elk herds and they’re emerging from winters with much lower femur marrow fat that before drought. This is especially true of bulls that are also weakened by rut. Hence, the increased # of bulls killed by predators.
40% and below FMF gives elk a low survival probability…above 85% gives them a high probability of survival.
Most kills in winter are of 85% or lower FMF.
This coupled with injuries and arthritic conditions, all of which predators sense, makes them more vulnerable to being preyed upon by wolves, lions and bears especially in the months of march and april.
I’m interested in what you have for research in this area.
Are you familiar with the UMT study, that concludes that because the elk are contstantly ran by wolves, they are less fertile and in overall lower health than elk not affected by wolves?
I have never claimed to be an “expert.”. Rather, I am an advocate for good facts, better science, knowledge of the law, and critical thinking about complex topics.
If you want to discuss FMF, maybe you would be kind enough to expand upon what knowledge you have, as above, and point the rest of us to sources of the information so we can all become more enlightened, and even ask more questions of each other.
Your explanation of why higher #’s of drought weakened but otherwise healthy animals fall prey to wolves and other predators is a reasonable hypothesis. Bears, cougar and wolves are seemingly all on the increase in MT and ID. Maybe that is part of the explanation.
I am thinking this would also be a good place for Mark Gamblin or other IDGF managers/scientists to weigh in.
And to Ryan, your last post and link is a summary of the Scott Creel (MSU not UMT) study from my earlier post.
While there are people living fairly close to Olympic National Park, in towns and on the “rez”, the area itself is not heavily populated. The main population centers in Washington State are east of the area, along the I-5 corridor, which is on the eastern side of Puget Sound. There isn’t even much farming in that area, although there is some. And there’s certainly not a lot of sheep and cattle ranching or livestock raising there, except for some dairy farms, last I heard. The one dairy farm I know about is in Seequim, and belongs to the youngest daughter of some friends of my family. And it’s not all that close to the park. It’s rather doubtful; that any wolves that might end up there, would chase elk all the way to Sequim, although there are plenty of coyotes in the area. . . . . and bears.
“but WI wolves likely prefer deer because they are less dangerous.”
I think this is the primary factor (as well as their abundance) re: primary prey of Great Lakes wolves…I really don’t see wolf size as much of a factor though..wolves on Isle Royale prey only on moose (ungulate-wise).
Like I said, I did quite a few of my field studies in and around the park when I was in college. And my concern is the genetic exchange question, how are other wolves going to get there or how are these wolves going to get to others to ensure genetic exchange? You have the sound on two sides, in addition to the I-5 corridor and as you move south you have communities in that area, mostly private lands and then the Columbia River. You would have to have a very active capture and transfer program to ensure genetic exchange, costing quite a bit of resources and time. The genetic exchange question is a very important one, and I, in my opinion based on research and extensive time in this area don’t feel it is a viable situation. In Montana the argument has been made there is no genetic exchange going on, which I have my doubts, because the barriers don’t exist that exist in the Olympic peninsula area.
Yes, I agree, the Olympic is not heavily populated, but the surrounding areas are, which would lead to quite a few conflicts as wolves prospered and spread out seeking new territories.
I don’t think wolf size is much of a factor in these matters. One of the best elk chasers and killers in Yellowstone was a 60 pound female. Speed was as important as bulk. Park wolf watchers will remember wolf 106F.
Wolves tend to stick with the prey they know. If they learn to hunt elk, they will continue with elk even though deer may migrate in, as they do in the summer in Yellowstone.
They aren’t completely inflexible, however. If times get tough, they will try other prey, and they also naturally experiment a bit, which I think explains most of the killing of cattle because it is so sporadic.
Times don’t seem tough in Minnesota or Wisconsin.
Save bears and Ann Gilbert, allow me to enter the conversation here. Sorry for the length, but it may clear up a couple of matters you have been discussing, as well as add some detail. I know the area well.
Wolves in Olympic National Park may happen, but not for awhile. Olympic Associates, a group with which I am familiar, has advocated reintroduction for several years. It comes up periodically, but not much action. The last formal opportunity was an updated ONP master plan two years ago, but Parks avoided the issue, saying it was too specific a proposal for that document. Oregon State University released a biological study in 2008, suggesting reintroduction would be extremely beneficial to the riparian zones. The thinking has been to use a smaller wolf (think 60 pounds), originating from Vancouver Island, and which reportedly has a partial diet of salmon. There is some dispute whether these wolves would stay with the salmon diet.
The Peninsula is an isolated area, there is no possibility of genetic exchange from adjacent areas due to geographic constraints. However, Vancouver Island could provide additional transplant stock at will.
The coastal streams of the Hoh, Queets, Quinault on the west, (as well as the Elwha which empties into north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and currently being restored with dam removal) have substantial salmon runs, but currently nowhere near historic levels. So do drainages to the east and south. Salmon die after they spawn, and the carcasses seasonally accumulate on gravels bars for consumption by scavengers, potentially wolves.
ONP on the west and northwest flanks has considerable winter habitat adjacent to the park (national forest and state forest land). The winters at low elevation – near sea level- are not usually severe in temperature, only in rainfall, upwards of 200 inches in the Hoh Rain Forest deep in the park, tapering to 60 or so further to the west. Only 40 inches or less on the North and East. There is alot of forest, much of which has been logged over, opening up more browse and grazing habitat, but not so many people, especially on the west. The nearby Quinault Indian Reservation is quite large. They have a great natural resource program.
Clallam County and Jefferson County which comprise most of the area not in NP status have something like a total population of 50,000. The growing human population is along the north coast – Port Angeles and Sequim receiving most of it – I expect the latter was the community of origin for Anne Gilbert’s comment. Sequim, is in fact less than 8 miles from the northern ONP boundary, and contains winter range, so wolves would likely find this good spot to hang out, and there would likely be considerable negative human- wolf interaction, with livestock (horses, cows, llamas are big) and dogs.
Additional human population is along Hood Canal to the east, which creates a natural and impenetrable water border from much of the populated areas. Elk hunting is popular and hunters do fear wolf impacts. Hunting is extremely difficult, brushy, terrain very steep and very wet. Hunters and residents with pets would definitely want to confine them to the NP. No public lands with livestock grazing here. This reintroduction would not be on the same scale as the NRM in terms of numbers or habitat.
A former ONP biologist, and a friend, is confident moving elk out of the riparian zones (think wide flat river bottoms, very mushy and muddy at the margins most of the time) would be extremely beneficial for salmon habitat restoration. The Roosevelt elk, cousin to the Rocky Mountain elk, is a separate ecotype/subspecies, and is about 10-25 percent larger in body mass, but smaller antlers. Still these small wolves could disrupt elk behavior, especially during and after calving time, to keep the elk out of the riparian zone. I do not know if they would kill many elk, but deer are also present. Maybe somebody else has information on that. Controlling wolf numbers, if their numbers got out of balance with social or ecological objectives, would be difficult because of the dense vegetation.
Very informative, thank you for the information, working in the area at times, quite consistent with my position as well as experience.
I knew Sequim was fairly close top the northern end of the park, but I wasn’t sure how close. SEquim has become a bit of a “retirement community” fo a lot of people(Seattle, etc., being awfully expensive to live in these days), and so there’s some population growth. The Olympic Peninsula is, however relatively thinly populated as Western Washington goes. There’s some farming in the areas, and yes, some of it is dairy farming. But as you pointed out there are also lots of deer and elk and some of them wander into towns like Sequim during the winter(yarding up and eating). The idea of wolf reintroduction would “bother” some people in the area, obviously, but if their reintroduction changed the way elk and deer move around, perhaps that actually might be a good thing. I don’t know. Probably it’s a tradeoff here.
“Again, killing an animal sitting motionless in a tree is murder – regardless of what you did to get it there.”
I’m sorry I guess I missed your point. By your logic then, the vet murders dogs when they have to put them down, All meat bought in the store is murdered, When you stomp a spider its murder… Where do you draw the line.
We spent about 4 days at Sequim last Summer and up into the Park.
There are blacktail deer all over the place at Sequim even though the countryside is getting seriously populated. I’d bet there would be wolves wandering into the area, not that that is any great problem problem, but our culture being what it is, the people would freak out.
Going westward, past Port Angeles, the population of people thins out quickly.
I chose to spend the first few days of the Idaho Wolf Hunt in the Lamar Valley, hoping to see the Druids in all their glory. Unfortunately, I think word got out about the hunt and all wolves heeded the best advice, stay under cover—ie:viewing was a little light. I did however have the chance to watch 2 Druid pups one afternoon, hanging out at the traditional rendezvous site. I always enjoy the pups as they represent the next generation of strong and healthy wolves in our ecosystem…where they belong. Uh-oh, I better mention I’m a Wyoming citizen, have been for nearly 35 years, my Mom was born and raised in the State, my grandfather a Wyoming forest ranger, so I do have some roots in these parts. I wouldn’t want anyone accusing me of being an “outsider” telling the local folk how to handle wolves in their backyard. Anyhoo, when I asked Rick McIntyre about the small gray one, he corrected me. It was in fact a black pup. Black not gray? Boy I thought I was pretty good at wolf identification through my scope. Then I realized I was looking at one horrific case of mange. Wow, what a relentless disease (maybe this will comfort some anti-wolf folks) The mange had caused most of his hair to fall out and the rest was, well, mangy. It’s pretty apparent this little guy will most likely not grow up to be a strong and healthy wolf. As I sat up on the hill watching this animal literally scratching itself to death, I wondered what grand schemes we’ll come up with this time to “control” the wolf population. Who cares what size they are, how they prefer their meat (heck we like ours full of steroids, antibiotics, electrocuted and sometimes skinned or gutted while apparently still alive and conscious). I don’t care if wolf eats his way to survival, or any of the rest of the hunter/agriculture arguments. For starters I hate to mention it, but it’s not 1925. We can learn and become educated about things we may not know about. We can grow and become responsible advocates for the passions in our lives. But for goodness sake, there is no excuse for ignorance–the animals deserve better (including the ones on our menus, which by the way, I gave up in honor of having wolves on my Wyoming landscape).
Ok, ranting over – bottom line, let’s not allow inhumane and disgusting practices anywhere near our wildlife management plans.
That was my point — that there are a lot of deer in the area, and they’re all over the place. I saw some in Port Angeles in November a few years back. One of them swam into pounding surf to get away from some silly dog that was bothering it. In any case, I rather doubt the wolves would be much of a problem west of Sequim, or even in the town itself. Though if they did turn up, people would probably freak out, as you mentioned
Yes the latest Wyoming wolf news says that there is getting to me quick a bit of mange on the Northern Range.
Yes, I think the problem is what seems to be a growing fearful populace.
I’m from Wyoming too. I like to watch elk and deer calves every year. With being said I head to the forest to hunt them every fall. I would also assume your father hunted also. Just a guess. Hunting is a form of management. Their numbers are great enough that they need managed. A good portion of Wyoming residents wants to kill wolves on site. You have to agree that Idaho and Montana are on the right track managing their numbers.
Blacktail populations in the NW are not doing well for a variety of reasons. The only places to consitently find them in any numbers is on private land. Habitat, predators, and poaching have all taken a pretty big toll on their population as of late.
TR – I came to terms with the hunting season aspect of wolf management years ago. I just have trouble with the jubilee I see surrounding the killing of an animal freshly off came off endangered species list. Do you feel comfortable that we’ve watched the process long enough to make good sound management decisions? Some animals have a few years after coming off the list before the hunting begins. But really, the hunting is not the issue here. I worry when anti-wolf folks decide hunting isn’t working, what next? Let’s make sure we have rules and regulations in place which will keep wolf management practices high up on our moral compasses.
There are a lot of deer and elk on the peninsula. Currently food sources is not the problem, I think there is probably a strong population of prey animals.
But what happens when the genetic exchange does not happen and has no reasonable way of happening? Without human intervention, there is no way to have genetic exchange.
We can’t say genetic exchange is so important in the Rockies, but yet say it has no meaning in the Olympics?
Or am I missing something here?
Wilderness Muse….. I wasn’t claiming you were an “expert” in a derogatory sense and if it sounded that way…my apologies. I wanted to know if you had further knowledge of FMF. I was reviewing notes I took while listening to Teri Ruth with the Selway Institute on predator/prey relationships. I’ve also attended recent presentations where her data was used . It’s always interesting to get an “independent researcher’s” view as opposed to those that are associated with our State Universities.
I might have asked this question elsewhere on the blog….What are some ecological reasons why it is important to have an elk population as part of an ecosystem if there are other sources of prey? Or, is the main reason to have elk solely for hunting?
Cindy….I suggest you get a copy of the video “Lords of Nature” and compare wildlife management agencies in Minnesota to those of Idaho and Montana.
Minnesota has had a wolf population (currently over 3000) and a larger livestock population than either Idaho or Montana and they have fewer depredations.
They’re still not comfortable with a hunting season and have delayed such for at least 5 years so that they can provide outreach and education to Minnesotans so as not to polarize their population as Montana and Idaho have done.
Thanks Jerry – I took a class at the Yellowstone Institute this past June with Doug Smith (last summer with Nathan Varley) we spent some time on the Minnesota vs. western states management policies. It was interesting to have a couple from Minnesota there giving perspective as well. I was basing my comment on their 5 year wait. I appreciate you mentioning the word polarize as I am really working hard, on a personal level, to be one that can at least show up to the table, I still have a ways to go on learning about compromise, but I promised Doug I’ll get there (for the good of the wolf). It was the quiet contemplation while watching this young wolf dying a slow and painful death, that started getting me off course:) ie: emotional!!
Cindy……..Nathan, as well as Mike Leach from Yellowstone were on a panel I assembled last Thursday in conjunction with the movie I mentioned. There was a taped 2 hour discussion with a well educated 130-140 participants. Very interesting!!
If you’d like a copy of the tape ..Ralph has my permission to forward my email to you.
Yes please! I’d like to ask if you ever saw one of my Wolf Meditation Cards I did last spring? I ended up doing a writing to go with it as well – Ralph-email exchange:):)
yes you have missed the point totally.
Where do you get your information that “blacktail” deer aren’t doing well in the Pacific NW? I know cougars dine on them with some regularity; bears from time to time, but bears eat such a variety of foods that deer are only one part of their diet(and they arent eating them in the winter, anyway). Around here, they seem to be fairly common, and the major danger to the local deer population may actually be from cars.
But it was all about bringing in the dollar, and wolves hunt elk, so they were held as a negative impact on the economy, which is one of the factors resulting in their extermination. Now an elk population free from wolves will generally be higher. And I imagine Idaho has gotten quite used to that amount. Then, wolves get reintroduced, elk go down in some places, everyone panics and proclaim the elk are getting decimated. That’s pretty much how I know it.
Aaron, I think you have nailed it.
Almost every anti-wolf person or group in WY, ID,and MT claims that these reintroduced critters are Canadian wolves and, therefore, not native. What would the arguement be if the border was at 54-40, and not the 49th parallel? (Probably not many have heard of the slogan 54-40 or fight; check out a bit of American history.)
Rounded to the nearest pound, the average weight of the ADULT wolves introduced from sw Alberta into Idaho in 1995 on the Main Salmon river west of North Fork was: 6 females 82 #; 6 males 92 # for a combined average of 87 pounds.
Those released at Daggar Falls on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in 1996 were from NE British Columbia. The average adult weights for 5 females was 94 #; the average for the 10 males was 113 #. Combined average of 106 pounds.
So the average weight for all adult, introduced wolves in Idaho was 101 pounds.
“Where do you get your information that “blacktail” deer aren’t doing well in the Pacific NW”
Mostly from talking to regional biologists and ancedotal evidence. I know that the biologists in Oregon are getting very concerned because this year they actually started a big study and action plan. Blacktail deer have been hammered in the last few years by HLS and a few other diseases.
On an ancedotal note, from my observations over the last 10 years the numbers are definately declining, its getting to the point that even seeing a deer in some places on the coast is rare.
Who really knows what would have happened if History made our contry bigger? I would like to know what the average size of wolves that were naturally migrating into MT, ID, and WA is comparitively to the reintroduced wolves from northern Canada. Ungulates and carnivores are bigger by necessity the farther north you get when compared to their southern cousins. For example a 300lb WT deer in MT would be big news, where as in Northern AB its a pretty common thing. Compare the moose sizes, shiras in rockies are downright small compared to the moose in Northern BC, AB etc. If the naturally migrated woles in the Midwest are the same species, then why do they weigh 15-30% less?
Whats the point then? I’m lost as to the logic of your rants.
Earlier you said that wolves in Wisconsin were 60 % of the weight of Idaho wolves; now you are saying only 15-30% less? Make up your mind. Don’t want to be pinned downed?
‘Who really knows what would have happened if History made our contry bigger?”
You never do seem to get the point. Had the US border been at 54-40 these wolves you are complaining about would not be “Canadian” wolves.
I gave you data on the wolves introduced into Idaho in 1995-96. It included the data for wolves from NE BC. You don’t listen.
Responding to your query “I would like to know what the average size of wolves that were naturally migrating into MT, ID, and WA is comparitively to the reintroduced wolves from northern Canada:
In the 1950s I lived in Kalispell, Montana. While at a visitor center in Glacier National Park I saw the mounted head of a wolf taken in the park several years earlier. (during the 1930s?) I was amazed at its size – a female taken in the spring weighed in at 135 pounds.
I don’t think that these wolves migrating into Montana came from northern Canada but from SW Alberta.
Why do people fixate on the size of wolves? Does it really matter? My *guess* is the weight of YNP/Central Idaho wolves is a function of lots of things (e.g. prey availability, type, pack size, the size of the founding population, etc.). Who cares?
– – –
FYI: If you look at the most recent report from Isle Royale, the average wolf was around 75 lbs (beware of small sample sizes). Yet, there are documented cases of single wolves killing moose on the island.
Uhh – The reason the monster giant Canadian wolves are so demonized is because the demonizers are insecure, threatened twats.
You know, like with the jacked up pickups … What WAS that bumpersticker from the 1980s??? Someone must remember … I think it was mass-produced to be stuck on a leviathan pick-up with perma-glue.
It’s all about size with insecure white males.
The reintroduced wolves were not from northern Canada. The majority were from around Hinton Alberta. That is ` 450 miles from Bonners Ferry Idaho. An easy weeks journey for any self respecting wolf. A few came from British Columbia, yes farther north but still not considered Northern Canada. That would be Yukon andthe Northwest territories unless I am way off base.
What would the arguement be if the border was at 54-40, and not the 49th parallel? (Probably not many have heard of the slogan 54-40 or fight; check out a bit of American history.)
Good question Barb.
JB, apparently size is important to somebody. Could it be just a matter of perception? For some critics of reintroduction smaller wolves may have been more acceptable. Or, could it be that smaller wolves have less biomass nutritional requirements than larger, and in total take fewer elk? Or could it be there truly is a relationship between phenotype size of predator and its target prey? Does size make a difference when packs have territorial conflicts with each other- who wins? Is it the big ones or the faster, more agile ones? I wonder if the folks at USFWS and the states who did the planning, and capture gave thought of those things.
Now to the statistics Barb and Ryan have been debating.
Could there be confusion as to the reference point for measuring weights?
Simple example: Compare a WI wolf at, say, 75 pounds to an ID wolf at 100.
The ID wolf is (100/75) 33.3% larger than the WI wolf.
The WI wolf is (75/100) 25% smaller than the ID wolf.
Again comparing, if an ID average male wolf is 113 as observed from Barb’s stats above (NRM average is 100, but range up to 130 pounds), and a WI wolf subpopulation is say 70 (the range of a WI wolf is 50-100 pounds),
The ID wolf would be (113/70), or 61.4% larger.
Wilderness Muse, the wolves selected were wolves that were used to hunting the main prey which is elk. Yes, the slightly smaller nubilis subspecies could survive in this region, but it is not a population that routinely hunts elk. It is also not the population that is found closest to the area and would eventually disperse into the region with the others. The Canadian wolf argument makes as much sense as if people in Bangladesh complained about Indian tigers killing livestock. It is the same species regardless of what country it comes from.
Ryan, we agree on one thing … you are lost!
“Or, could it be that smaller wolves have less biomass nutritional requirements than larger, and in total take fewer elk?”
WM: I think you may have hit on something here. Of course, if smaller wolves consumed fewer elk/wolf, the additional biomass might simply support more wolves.
I think some people might also believe that smaller wolves would be less successful hunters; that’s why I made the reference to the smaller, moose-killing wolves of Isle Royale. People who believe this should know that the dominant ungulate species immediately east of the Rockies was bison, and wolves seemed to have little problem hunting them…until we wiped them all out, anyway.
The previous predator – prey relationship was a given for those wolves selected for relocation. Wolves experiment as well, and as they disburse the available prey base will change. Elk as you know are presently absent from much of their historic range, too, and the wolves to avoid territorial conflict will continue to spread geographically (or will they? choosing to stay until their traditional prey base is depleted and then move on, out of shear survival instinct).
In WY outside the GYA and into the stupid “Predator Zone” it is going to be deer, rabbits, domestic stock or pronghorn, isn’t it?
Isle Royale is its own reality, an 8 mile by 50 mile island, that is essentially a closed ecosystem. A moose population that, at least historically, exceeded the requirements of its wolf predators, based on territorial requirements. Something like a thousand moose for years until disease -ticks and liver flukes, etc.- started to weaken and take down the population to approximately half that. A total wolf population of between, that hovers around 24, in four packs or so (genetic problems for sure). I do not know that much about the Isle Royale population, but it seems that in the confined area, which neither predator nor prey can escape, and wolves having a social density issue, that just eating the very young, old and the recently and severely weakened moose, as the population declines just kind of takes care of itself. There is no shortage of old, arthritic and feeble moose on Isle Royale. Query whether some of these wolves work very hard (would those in the moose rich portions of the island around the shore seem to do better, while others may be underfed as they avoid territorial conflicts with other packs holding more productive ground). Size and ability may not matter as much there. I do not know.
As for bison, I agree as well. It was my understanding, and maybe Ralph has better information on this, that one pack in YNP was selected and transplanted for its larger size that are working on the bison there, where other wolves have chosen not to. The name of the original pack escapes me at the moment. I am not certain, but was told this by a knowledgeable and usually reliable source.
And yes, I agree with you about the increase in the numbers tradeoff on biomass, and that is why I posed the question. Human social carrying capacity would likely stifle that as the hunters’ argument that more wolves running around would continue to affect wolf behavior and over an even larger area.
The one pack used to killing bison in Canada and introduced to Yellowstone, the Nez Perce Pack, broke apart as soon as they were released. Its individual members went on to found or join other Park packs. So it is hard to say if their knowledge of how to kill bison was communicated in any important way.
My math was off as WM noted above they are about 30% smaller of 70% the avg size. That being said its not 54-40, its the 49th paralell and that debate has no value in this discussion, unless you want to relect George Jr, tell him there is oil and terrorists there.
Nice comment KT and you wonder why people in Idaho hate people like you and dislike wolves because they are associated with people like you.
I think my question is legitimate, as did the Audobon society in their original lawsuit against the reintroduction. It brings up the question of subspecies, of which change in many species directly related to their habitat and regional location. Subspecies management is widely used for certain animals, but not for others.
“Ryan, we agree on one thing … you are lost!”
We’ve lowered it to name calling now, were getting some where!
. . . and this thread has come to an end.