Are Hunters Stupid?–The Unintended Consequences of Wolf Hunting

George Wuerthner has written an essay exploring the reaction of many people to the wolf hunt.

Are Hunters Stupid?–The Unintended Consequences of Wolf Hunting . New West.



, , ,



  1. Veronica aka Gal Yellowstone Avatar

    “Indiscriminate hunting and reduction of wolves …skews the local population towards younger animals which are less skilled hunters, thus more likely to attack easy prey like livestock.”

    I find this train of thought interesting, though I don’t understand specifically how wolf-hunting skews the age distribution towards a younger average age in any given population. Can someone please fill me in?

    An oft-repeated rationale for killing wolves (indiscriminately or otherwise) is the economic damage they may cause to domestic cattle, sheep, etc. While I am STRONGLY in favor of wolf restoration, I am not blind to the (albeit small, unless it happens to you and your business is on the edge financially) impact on the livelihoods of livestock ranchers. While I believe that rancher compensation for predation losses is a good solution, I would have liked George Wuerthner (a very well-respected author) to have responded to that mindset as well, since it is an often cited justification among hunters.

    I also have long suspected that the fear/hatred of wolves comes from some deep, elemental source in many people. In history the wolf has been widely regarded as evil (to wit: Little Red Riding Hood’s encounter with the crafty animal-with-intent-to-harm, Peter and the Wolf, and so on and on) and I believe that also has to be acknowledged and answered by those of us who so strongly support wolf restoration.

  2. jdubya Avatar

    The answer is “yes”. But this article is like bring coal to Newcastle for the readers of this board. It needs to get published around the country so people living in Virginia can visualize the western culture war on carnivores.

    Nice summary at the end: “If hunters want to help realize their worst fears—that is fuel opposition to hunting by society–they could find no better way to do this than continue blowing away wolves. But if Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho want to signal to the world that they have entered the 21st Century and no longer hold archaic and outdated ideas about predators, they can begin to value wolves as essential for ecological diversity, as well as their role in the American imagination as symbols of what we are doing right to heal the ecological wounds we created. The way to do this is to stop the hunting of all predators starting with wolves. “

  3. JW Avatar

    Great article. This is exactly what I meant a few posts ago about more people seeing hunting negatively b.c of this wolf hunt. Altho George worded it a 100 X better than I did.

  4. mikepost Avatar

    This is a well constructed article but I am puzzled by one thing: why haven’t any of these “unintended consequences” been seen in Canada where wolves have been hunted for decades? I am not advocating wolf hunting per se but it seems that just the other side of the border things are functioning quite well for both hunters and wolves. Am I missing something?

  5. jdubya Avatar

    Mike those are Canadian wolves. We are talking about American wolves.

  6. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Read the comments below George’s article. The hunters (and anti-wolf people) really show their stupidity in their writing.


  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    There is another article on wolf hunting in the same publication with a link to a DOW video on hunting wolves in Idaho by Ashley Judd. It features Butch Otter and Ron Gillette.

  8. Cris Waller Avatar
    Cris Waller

    “I find this train of thought interesting, though I don’t understand specifically how wolf-hunting skews the age distribution towards a younger average age in any given population. Can someone please fill me in?”

    This phenomenon is known as compensatory natality. The theory (which has been well-documented for many carnivores, such as coyotes, mountain lions, and African lions and well as, most thoroughly, with ungulates) is that, when a population loses many members, especially when this happens quickly, females respond by breeding earlier, having more offspring, and having more female offspring. Therefore, the population becomes skewed towards younger animals, as there are more being born and more reproductive females in the population.

  9. jdubya Avatar

    One such comment:

    “”Wolves only cull out the old, weak or diseased animals….really, how does that explain the 120 sheep they killed last week? “”

    How about stupid?

  10. Veronica aka Gal Yellowstone Avatar

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful and authoritative answer, Chris.
    Do we also know that young wolves are “…thus more likely to attack easy prey like livestock” has been observed/documented, or is it just assumed to be the case?

  11. mikepost Avatar

    JDUBYA, so the environmental and social aspects of wolf hunting are different with “canadian” wolves? The environmental consequences are different across the border? Tell me, how do wolves know they are american or canadian and when to stay on which side? Where do you think many of our wolves came from.

    I think it would be very germain to this discussion to see what the hunting impacts have been in the canadian habitats immediately adjacent to the areas of concern. It could very well support either side of the wolf debate.

  12. JW Avatar

    number-wise I think you are correct. 220 wolves won’t necessarily harm their pop. size. I think more are worried now that they are social predators that needn’t be hunted just to be hunted, and some are concerned that the pop. plan doesn’t address the genetics well enough. Some also think that there isn’t enough known on their ecological impacts of killing a certain #.
    And I don’t know Canada well enough but maybe (and I could be wrong) there is so much inaccessible area up there that it provides de facto sanctuary for many wolves despite others getting killed.
    You raise some good questions that shouldn’t be ignored.

  13. DB Avatar

    George should realize that most hunters are not redneck, wolf-hating rubes. Most of us (hunters) realize that this is a complicated and emotional issue for all and that killing an icon like the wolf turns many off. It bothers me too and I have no interest in it as do most others who buy a hunting license.

    The people he describes are just like the jerks that taunted the Oregon players leaving the field after the BSU game last night. Their behavior does not reflect most of the 34,000 that enjoyed the BSU victory. Georges’ characterization is just like calling all the BSU fans jerks.

    We need everyone we can get help to bring back wolves and focusing on a few wolf hating jerks is not the way, especially if we alienate the majority of hunters. Hunters have been active, indeed taken the lead, in wildlife conservation for a century. Besides there are more important things than stopping the wolf hunt (not that there may some merit in that), like stopping the influence of the livestock industry on public policy.

    And whether George recognizes it or not “wolves need to be managed.” The ESA requires it. George’s article would be more aptly titled “Is the FG Commision stupid” or are “We, the Public, (who keep electing the same governors and legislators) Stupid”?

  14. jimbob Avatar

    This is such a well-written, thoughtful article. It explains almost every problem with predator hunting and the “maniac, kill all predators Hunter” mentality. I would love to hear a biologist refute these points to support the political side of game management. Too often science is only used by game and fish departments to drive a wedge between groups rather than exploring realistic solutions to problems

  15. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Mikepost, I think the reason why Canada has not had “unintended consequences” as much is due to the much larger population in the US. Canada is probably the best stronghold wolves have in the world. In places like the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, there are many wolves that probably live their entire lives without ever seeing a human or seeing very few. In general, the wilderness areas are much more pristine and undisturbed.

    Jdubya, the summary on the end is very true, particularly the fact that Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming are not in the 21st century in a lot of ways. When it comes to wolves, they are in the 19th century.

  16. jdubya Avatar

    It was a joke, Mike, just a joke……..

    ProWolf hit it on the head as well as the fact that there are so many fewer barriers in the wilds of Canada to stop wolves from roaming and thus mitigate any hunting effects. I am always amazed how some of these critters, that we can follow with collars, can move around so much over the interstates the like without becoming roadkill.

  17. mikepost Avatar

    JDUBYA…so a wolf walks into a bar…a canadian bar…

  18. SR25Stoner Avatar


    Does not the history of the American Hunting Conservation Model dispute your claim, ” maniac, kill all predators Hunter” ?

    Is this why a prey base was obviously established since the 1930s to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995 ? That prey base supplied hunters with opportunity to harvest annually, as well cougars and bears thrived in Idaho also. .And the health of that prey base funded by the hunting community allowed for wolf reintroduction..

    Only a small percentage of hunters hunted cougars and bears, the majority of hunters hunt elk, deer, upland game birds, fowl, and participated in fishing..

    Myself and the majority of my hunting friends across Idaho do not hunt predators, in fact in forty years I only know two hunters which prey on predators.. And one has passed on..

    I wonder how many hunting licenses are out there right now, in the past I know it would roughly be 60,000, and then each one had and elk or deer tag, some buy all tags, I used to..

    I think this is why the 70,000 wolf tags, their hoping to sell all tags.. But like cougars and bears all hunters will not take a predator..

    To take a predator is a different hunting skill all together versus harvesting hoofed creatures..

    I have had cougar and bear tags in my pack and watched both animals in the field, yet to this day I never took one.. But those funds provided for those predators..

    Once again, I have never seen a maniac in the field while hunting.. a couple litter bugs, but no maniacs..Lol..

    Go by a wolf tag, then you cheat a real hunter out of that percentage of the opportunity to take a wolf and you support wolf conservation… 😉

  19. mikepost Avatar

    Prowolf, I agree with what you say but what about the hunted wolves in Southern Ontario for instance. That area is much more developed than WY or MT but admittedly does not have the same ranching issues although there are plenty of dairy cattle and other livestock to attract predators. I am not trying to dismiss the concerns discussed here it just seems that everyone has formed an opinion based upon conjecture when we should be out there analyzing the hunt and its impacts before crying “wolf”!

  20. SR25Stoner Avatar

    The abundance of cougars and bears in Idaho over eight decades dispels this predator hatred nonsense. As well show me the thousands of reports over the last 15 years of maniac elk and deer hunters poaching, or in the correct definition shooting wolves and leaving them lay..

    No doubt we can assume it has gone on, I even think so, and had I witnessed such and event I would have seen to it the party was caught, and most hunters I know feel the same way.. but the percentage of that activity would be very low..

    Frankly I am tired of being tossed into the outlaw barrel just for being a hunter gatherer..of several forest items, not just meat..

    Let me emphasize something here, to take illegally, poach, shoot out of season, is not only violations of the public trust at large, but also it is the theft of the animals life to cheat… I loathe such actions.. The majority of hunters do..

  21. Brian Ertz Avatar

    I agree that the generalization & hysteria about hunters is rediculous and misplaced – counterproductive even.

    It’s like the video Larry linked to – it’s a giant fundraiser – disgusting.

    Too bad the real threat (direct & political) to wolves (& all wildlife) just got a free pass – and those hunters that care about habitat enough to potentially wedge away from that threat just got alienated.

  22. Ryan Avatar


    Its too bad that people look to Ashley Judd for information on western wildlife, it illustrates how stupid the american public is.

  23. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Prowolf, I agree with what you say but what about the hunted wolves in Southern Ontario for instance. That area is much more developed than WY or MT but admittedly does not have the same ranching issues although there are plenty of dairy cattle and other livestock to attract predators.

    Mikepost, I’m not familiar with southern Ontario, but what kinds of practices are farmers doing to ensure their cattle are safe? If it is dairy farming, I imagine they are not grazing cows unguarded over large areas. That is probably why the Great Lakes region does not seem to complain as much about wolves. Just a guess, like I said, I’m not too familiar with southern Ontario.

  24. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    80 years ago was 1929 at which time Idaho had a bounty on cougar – it had been in effect since 1914 and wasn’t ended until 1960. That hardly shows there was tolerance for this predator. So your statement “The abundance of cougars and bears in Idaho over eight decades dispels this predator hatred nonsense.” is not backed by the evidence.

  25. Anne Gilbert Avatar

    Having read the article, I must say that I have no problem with people who hunt for food(or at least hunt things that are usually eaten, and then eat them). I’ve known a handful of such people over the years, and the only reason I don’t know more of them, is that I live in a city. Be that as it may, I don’t quite understand the mentality of these hunters(and I’ve seen the videos), who just want to “shoot wolves”. People don’t usually eat wolves, though in some cultures, they may make good fur coats(I can see hunting wolves or otgher predators for that reason,also). But these Idaho hunters don’t seem to be using their fur coats for anything, either. So I just don’t see the point. The only thing I can see, with these people is, that they have bought into the myth of the “big bad wolf”, and the “bit bad wolf” needs to be “managed”, so they’ll go out and do it. Sad.
    Anne G

  26. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I agree with Brian Ertz in that the article should only be about some hunters.

    A point to ponder . . . whether the quota of 220 wolves is reached or not doesn’t make any difference to Idaho government. The Fish and Game Commission made it clear they are taking the population down to about 500 wolves. Therefore, if the wolf tag quota is not reached, they will simply shoot wolves from airplanes or order a massive wolf kill when even a single lamb is killed or possibly killed by a wolf.

    There is good reason to be upset, but I wouldn’t focus on those folks who are out there lawfully (for now) hunting.

  27. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native


    Is that a hypothesis or do you have actual evidence to back up that claim?

  28. Vicki S Avatar
    Vicki S

    This is probably a stupid question, but not being a hunter, can someone explain to me how it works when they sell 11,000 wolf tags, but (theoretically, anyway) only allow 220 wolves to be killed?

    How do they keep track of the wolf kills, and then how do they notify the tag holders when the quota has been reached? Then, how do they “call off” the hunt?

  29. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wyo Native,

    We have evidence. Brian Ertz was at the meeting and has video. He is going to post it over the weekend, I think.

  30. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native


    I look forward to the video. I have absolutely no problem with the hunts by license holders based off the current quotas.

    I do however have a problem with a wildlife management organization taking it upon themselves to ensure they “Get” their numbers. If this type of management were done with ungulates there would be outrage.

  31. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Barb, the cougars still living in Idaho is evidence of no wipe out, yes in those years 1914-1960 Idaho was a very poor state, and the ungulates were a valuable resource for Idahoans supper tables, as well a few old books, which I have on the subject while blaming man for the ungulates decimations of those decades, included were Eagles, coyotes, and cougars..Thus Idaho restocked elk to the state from YS National park…

    “-In the Beginning-
    The management of big game began in earnest around 1900. Seasons were shortened and bag limits
    established: No more that four each of deer, antelope, mountain sheep and goat; three-month season on elk;
    bag limit two; and buffalo were removed from the game animal list as probably none had survived by then.
    Licenses for residents and non-residents were required in 1903. Women were required to purchase hunting
    licenses in 1921. Eleven big game preserves were legislatively created by 1925 along with sanctuaries
    designated by the Idaho State Fish & Game Department (Dept.). Combined, the two classifications involved
    three-million acres mostly on National Forest lands. Most of the preserves were established expressly to
    protect transplanted elk from Yellowstone Park. In 1924 it was noted “we have three distinct species of
    deer in our State—commonly known as whitetail, blacktail and willow deer. Willow deer are somewhat
    smaller than whitetail and found in the northern portions of the State.” Winter losses of big game were
    attributed to the abundance of predators. Idaho was the only state in the U.S. hunting mountain goat in
    1926. It was hunted as a trophy with no requirement to salvage meat. By the late 1930’s the deer
    population was estimated to be 125,000, elk 25,000, mountain goat 4,000, mountain sheep 2,000, antelope
    10,500 and moose 1,000. Let the saga unfold. ”

    “The bounty on cougars was finally terminated
    in 1960, and the cat was later classified as a game animal in 1972 with a season limit of one. A four-month
    season was established, except sixteen Management Units were closed. Prior to 1971 when lions were
    unprotected the average yearly take was about 125 animals. ”

    Fifty Years of Game Management (1938-1988) in Idaho

  32. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Any how during those years 1914-1960 it was economics, revenues, and depression.. Not hate, and not relevant concerning today’s standards compared to then..Those folks had a heck of a lot less options than we do today..And the cougar made it through as well..

  33. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    We still have a bias against predators here in Idaho. We allow the shooting of bears as they eat out of drums full of french fries, old donuts etc. but it is against the law to bait deer and elk. We allow the use of hounds for hunting bear and cougar, but using the same dogs to hunt deer and elk will get you arrested.

  34. Dan Mottern Avatar
    Dan Mottern

    Why is Daryl “clueless?” What about embracing what makes us all different; experiences that make us unique from one another. Understanding cultures other than our own. Daryl turned “the ladies” off because they did not value his charm. No harm done! I never read where Daryl broke a law….Accordingly, I guess mainstream is the only stream!

  35. SR25Stoner Avatar

    It seems to me wolf hunters, like cougar and bear hunters have a responsibility to call in and make sure the unit they are hunting wolves in is still and open unit.. I would, the hunter best know that unit is open.. So they check every day, because if their in the field and the quota has been met that day, they have no excuse.. I will be totally shocked if the 255 wolves goes down… I seriously doubt it..

  36. bambi Avatar

    Three kills out ot 11,,000 tags– either they suck as hunters or it is not so easy?

  37. Jeff Avatar

    Vicki-Tags are sold in an unlimited fashion for a variety of game species but quota have been set in all the wolf areas in a state. Some hunters like to by a bear or lion tag and if they incidentally have an opportunity to shoot one while pursuing elk or deer they have a tag. Wolf season is the same way. Here in WYoming if someone is cougar hunting they have to call in every morning to see if the quota has been filled for their hunt area. Hunters must tag and report their kill usually with 48 hours. Once quotas for areas have been reached via the department web page and toll free phone numbers the season is announced as closed. Since predator denseties are so low the chance that animals will be over the quota before all kills are reported is low and if it does go over by an animal or two it isn’t a big deal as the quota are essentially round about numbers to begin with. Does is really matter is 17 wolves are killed in an area instead of 15? In the grand scheme the answer is no, a percentage was harvested but the vast majority will enter breeding season again next year.
    As far as George’s article goes he does nothing to further the discussion, he simply starts off by insulting hunters in a childish way and really provides nothing of any substance to support his views. All experts on wolves agree that a sportsmen only hunt will never decimate a wolf population, let alone even reduce it significantly, they are simply too wily and they are prolific breeders. I say this as an avid elk hunter and wolf fan who has no interest in shooting any predator. The other thing George misses completely is the fact that Western hunters’ heritage and sport are very safe from antihunting groups opinions. The sport and industry is so well entrenched in Western politics that there is no reason to worry about “out of state protests” Since when has any hunter out West cared anthing about what the anti-hunting community in New Jersey or California thinks? I’m glad wolves were reintroduced, I have crossed their path on more than one occassion while pursuing elk and I think ID and MT are conducting a pretty balanced regulated hunt. I will be surprised if either state actually fill their quotas. Wolves were exterminated by relentless trapping, poisoing, denning, and shooting. Hunters will not accomplish this with only rifles and a set quota.

  38. mikepost Avatar

    Vicky, Jeff is correct. In California they have been running the bear season this way for many years with a harvest cap but unlimited bear tags for sale. It has functioned successfully. I believe that the “serious” wolf hunters will be few and far between and that much of this is the novelty of the new hunt and extra wolf tags tucked in the backpack “just in case”. It might even be possible that the public efforts of some pro-wolf extremists are driving some to buy the tags as a statement against the extremist rhetoric. That said, being pro-wolf or anti-wolf is not an extremist position per se but there are some “wild eyed pistol waivers” out there on both sides that muck up the reasoned debate.

  39. gline Avatar

    wait till this weekend folks… it is a 3 day weekend.

  40. John Avatar

    five days in and can you believe the slaughter thats taking place. ha ha ha( sarcastic laugh). Yeah the hunters are sure stacking them deep. Think of all the pizzas and pictures of beer being handed out. I think 3 individuals have taken wolves. Big deal, wildlife services can snipe a whole pack in one flight. Once again folks HOWLING over nothing. The wolves prefer hunters to the fling guns cause they are easier to evade and they can’t cover the miles a chopper can. Plus with a little healthy fear of humans less packs will find themselves in trouble for killing a dopey sheep or 125. Time will tell the tale but few here have a real clue and just spout emotionally driven drivel. The wolves luckily don’t have to count on you folks for their survival. They are a phenominally adept survivor and will soon possess the knowledge they need to evade even the most creative hunters.

  41. Anne Gilbert Avatar


    I’m not looking to Ashley Judd for information on wolves, or hunting, or anything else lupine-connected. I try to get my information from more, um, scientific sources before I make any decisions. . . . .
    Anne G

  42. Anne Gilbert Avatar


    I have a very large concern re your remark about “some” hunters. I think you are right that the sort of hunters you refer to are probably in the minority. Trouble is, they seem to have the loudest mouths, and they make the news. There is also the problem of what influence,if any, these kinds of folks have on the wildlife departments in their respective states. That should be examined.
    Anne G

  43. mikepost Avatar

    John, I am with you. Educated predators are HARD to hunt. A coyote on a ranch in California turns on the afterburners any time a truck stops within 1000 yards. A limited hunt may even result in fewer livestock interactions as humans and human locations/herds become negative conditioning.
    Harrassment of predators is the most effective way to keep them alive as a populations.

  44. gline Avatar

    John wolves have been shot for years now because of livestock depredations but now they are being hunted miscellaneously as well. No one said a mass loss of wolves would happen overnight, it is the fact that there are MOREe killings allowed now , vs any non violent solutions.

    A few days into the hunt and “only” 3 individuals have been killed seems to mean nothing to you and even something to be happy about – but weighs a lot on me in a negative way. Those 3 individuals have families that are affected by their loss, and if that pack suffers another loss it leads to more trauma for that pack i.e., trying to feed pups into the winter. Make sense yet? Its over time… the bad ramifications for the species as a whole… over time.

  45. jdubya Avatar

    John, wolves were extirpated in the lower 48 without much, if any, use of helicopters. Don’t underestimate the resourcefulness of Homo sapiens. I thought it was interesting the Idaho kill sheet left open the use of traps if kill objectives were not met with the rifle. After traps, is poison next?

  46. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The low take of wolves presently may be because
    knowledgeable hunters are waiting until later in the season, when the wolves have a nice pelt to tan and hang on the wall, before they shoot one. Pelts of wolves killed in September will end up in the dump. Wolves I photograph in Yellowstone do not get a full winter coat until November.
    Since there IS a hunting season on wolves, we should encourage ethical hunting, with no wolves taken until the pups are mature enough to hunt on their own(December). If the the wolves are hunted later and responsibly the wolves will rebound in numbers each spring if the quotas are not set to high.
    I do think the wolf hunting zones are too large and will result in easily accessible wolf packs being over hunted before the zone quota is reached. Smaller zones with their smaller quotas would help keep accessible wolf packs like the Phantom Hill Pack from being totaly eliminated. A wolf viewing area would work even better.

  47. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The Idaho Commissions are going to use helicopters after the hunt is over regardless of the outcome of the hunt.

    They haven’t gone on record, as far as I know, to rule out poison, which is what really wiped out the wolves 80-100 years ago.

  48. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Market hunters and unrestricted hunting reduced all of Idaho’s game animals by the early 1900s.
    USFS Rangers were directed to periodically ride out in their districts and distribute balls of beef suet with a strychnine tabled enclosed. This killed all of Idaho’s wolves, lynx, wolverines, fishers and nearly eliminated a host of other meat eaters.
    Elk were transplanted by hauling them in railroad cattle- cars from Yellowstone to many sites in Idaho for the next 25 years to re-establish the Elk population.
    Canada had a similar problem with market hunting and brought in Elk from Yellowstone also. The elk that those “Canadian” wolves were eating in Canada were decendents of those Yellowstone transplants.

  49. jdubya Avatar

    A bit off topic, but it does address some hunter’s inability to know the difference in species to kill…

  50. gline Avatar

    What do you mean regardless of the hunt Ralph? Even if the Idaho quota is met (including non reported wolf kills)? I dont see why Molloy is waiting… I guess I am more conservative and not sitting in his hot seat.

  51. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I really don’t know why the judge is waiting. I think one reasonable assumption is that he is watching the conduct of the hunt just like many of us.

    The plaintiffs claimed the the hunt would do irreparable harm and sought an injunction. Because this harm obviously would not happen instantainously, my guess is he wanted to watch what really would happen. Because both sides made contradictory predictions using “expert” testimony he might be seeing which side’s testimony is evident in the actual events.

    On the other hand, maybe he is just busy and needs to wade through all the briefs.

    As far as “regardless of the hunt,” at the Commissioners meeting in Idaho just before the hunt when they set the quota of 220 wolves, 3 commissioners were unhappy that quota was “so low.” Other commissioners assured them that they had “plenty of tools” they would be using to bring the Idaho population down a lot further — close to the approximately 500 wolves that is their stated goal (for now).

  52. jerryB Avatar

    Larry Thorngren…..I took this info from the Montana Natural History Center newsletter Sept-Dec edition. References used in the article were from James Halfpenny, Doug Smith, Sylvia Johnson and Jim Brandenburg.
    “As fall approaches, wolf pups are big and strong enough to ACCOMPANY adults on food forays, learning to become functional hunting members of the pack. This juvenile phase, which lasts until a wolf is TWO years old, prepares pups to be successful predators.”
    It looks to me that any wolf under 2 years old who loses it’s mother or father doesn’t learn to become an efficient predator and may then turn to the “easy and defenseless prey”, namely cows or sheep.

  53. gline Avatar

    Aren’t there wilderness areas one cannot fly into in Idaho? An obstacle to aerial hunting.

    Wow to spend that much money on reintroduction, then management (which in my opinion in the past few years has been increasingly turning toward terminating wolves with regard to livestock depredation rather than working with them) now money spent on helicopter hunts? And people complain about the money spent on the program? Seems to me like the reintroduction was never completely followed, ie the species was re introduced and that was the end of story…. Defenders sure put their time in assisting with education and financially compensating ranchers, but when the states take over it becomes a hunt??? Caroline Sime the other night said with 600,000 budget for wolf reintroduction they didn’t have money to educate the public on wolf behavior and to reinvent the stereotype..just wolf control evidently. At the hearing one of the Idaho attorneys stated that hunting is just one of the tools and that Idaho isn’t hostile toward wolves. Why lie? This outcome is Very disappointing in my opinion.

  54. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Neither Wildlife Services or anyone else can legally gun wolves from above designated Wilderness areas — one refuge in Idaho from government aerial shooting.

    Someone might quickly misunderstand what I just wrote, however. The current wolf hunt does not allow aerial shooting of wolves anywhere in Idaho.

    Aerial shooting currently is only done by some government entity.

  55. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Jerryb, did the article mention anything about other wolves in the pack taking over parental roles should the parents die? I know this happens with lions but am not sure if wolves do the same thing.

  56. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I don’t dispute what you say, but expecting hunters to be able to tell which wolves are which after the pups get adult teeth and fur in December is like wishing on a star.

  57. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    When the alpha pair of the Hayden Pack were killed, some of their pups were seen months later with some adult wolves, so what you suggest does happen. I photographed them the day before the alphas were killed, and there were two more adults and five pups in the pack.

  58. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    To gline,

    It is my understanding that some funding for wolf reintroduction comes from the federal Pittman-Robertson Act, which imposes a federal tax on sales of firearms and ammunition. So, in effect, hunters have been subsidizing a portion (how much I cannot say) of the reintroduction. And, from posts I have seen here and elsewhere, that has irritated those stakeholders. Combine that aspect with the promise to states of being able to manage the numbers of wolves made in the original reintroduction documents and subsequent upward adjustments (EIS, state management plans, delisting rule false starts) and it has created the conditions for a backlash.

    The states would say, had we been able to begin management plans earlier (say two to three years ago), the numbers to be taken in annual harvests would have been fewer, and thus less controversial.

    If the delisting and current harvest is stopped due to the connectivity issue advanced by plaintiffs, it would be likely the numbers of wolves taken in future harvests once that issue is resolved, OR the continuing efforts to control problem wolves will likely increase substantially.

    Defenders et al. may be shooting themselves in the foot so to speak.

    So, the fact that Wyoming is not even in a position to legally implement a harvest plan allows the population to continue to grow, including in the dreaded “Predator Zone” encompassing something like 75% of the state, will mean the anticipated harvest numbers will be even larger if and when the delisting issue is resolved for WY. In the short term good for wolves, but more divisive and traumatic in the longer term.

  59. jerryB Avatar

    Larry Thorngren….I wasn’t disputing you either, Larry. Just wanted to ad some more info from reliable sources.

  60. jerryB Avatar

    Pro Wolf in WY……No, it didn’t mention that, but since you did, that’s an interesting idea and I’ll try to find out.

  61. jimbob Avatar

    SR25—I was not referring to the normal, ethical, meat hunter, but rather the same “maniacs” that are out to kill predators because they “kill the deer and elk”. One should only kill what they eat……sorry if you thought you were lumped in.

  62. Paul Guernsey Avatar

    “I find this train of thought interesting, though I don’t understand specifically how wolf-hunting skews the age distribution towards a younger average age in any given population. Can someone please fill me in?”

    You’d think hunters would target the bigger, older animals if they possibly could. That’s what trophy hunters do.

    But Australian research on dingoes suggests that it’s actually the reduced size of the pack due to culling rather than the age of the animals in it that triggers increased predation on cattle.

    And in case you’re wondering what dingoes have to do with wolves, they are both top predators in their respective environments and have a very similar pack structure and social order. Both species have been known to kill calves on occasion. In any case, I’ve got a link on my site if anybody wants to read the Aussie research paper.

    I notice that very few Idaho wolves have been killed so far. Can we expect more later in the season?

    Great site BTW; I’ve been following the wolf hunt issue here, but this is my first comment. — Paul

  63. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Hi Paul Guernsey,

    In a comment above Chris Waller wrote: “This phenomenon is known as compensatory natality. The theory (which has been well-documented for many carnivores, such as coyotes, mountain lions, and African lions and well as, most thoroughly, with ungulates) is that, when a population loses many members, especially when this happens quickly, females respond by breeding earlier, having more offspring, and having more female offspring. Therefore, the population becomes skewed towards younger animals, as there are more being born and more reproductive females in the population.’ ”

    On the other hand I think it might make the population of wolves older because of disproportionate mortality of young, inexperienced wolves.

    I expect the number of wolves killed will increase because right now only 2 Idaho hunting areas are open. Later the entire state will open.

  64. Paul Guernsey Avatar

    Thanks, Ralph. I think also because the “alpha” wolves are typically the only ones in the pack that breed, when the alphas are killed the pack often splinters and more—and younger—animals get the chance to reproduce.

    Really enjoying the discussion.

  65. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    They did wipe out the wolf during those years. The cougar survived, not because of good will, but because the same effort was not put into eradicating it as the wolf.

    And from the report you quoted from above:
    -Predator Control-

    During the 1930’s and 40’s the management of terrestrial wildlife and winged species was ultra conservative. Old mindsets were hard to overcome. One of the most classic examples was the Predatory Animal Control Program. Crows, ravens, magpies, kingfishers, pelicans, cormorants, herons, gulls, great horned owls, golden eagles, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, lynx and cougar were unprotected and killed indiscriminately year around. Actually wolves were eliminated before 1939 but remained classified as predators. Winter loss of big game was still attributed to the abundance of predators on winter range.

    Relating to upland bird predation, crow and magpie roost rookeries were dynamited and the birds were pentrapped and bounties were paid. In 1940, 55,675 magpies were bountied and 143,250 in 1941. The magpie bounty was paid through 1950 with adult magpies bringing ten-cents a head. Basically, eagles were shot on sight on antelope and goat ranges.

    Cougar were bountied year around at $15 a head in 1938 and increased to $75 in 1947. A “Cougar Derby” was held in 1946 with a $100 award to the individual who killed the most cats. The bounty was reduced to $50 in 1953 and to $25 in 1955. The bounty on cougars was finally terminated in 1960, and the cat was later classified as a game animal in 1972 with a season limit of one. A four-month season was established, except sixteen Management Units were closed. Prior to 1971 when lions were unprotected the average yearly take was about 125 animals. In 1971, the year before the lion was to be reclassified, the word was out and hunters took 300. During State Warden James Beck’s administration (1940-47) both coyotes and bobcats were bountied at five-dollars per animal. The combination of Dept. funds, United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) predator control and by hunters paid from all other funds, resulted in the killing of 22,529 coyotes and 1,053 bobcats. Coyote and bobcat bounties stopped in 1947. Kingfisher, cormorant and pelican were removed from the predator list in 1971.

    Idaho did and does not treat predators well.

  66. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Barb, I don’t think any state has treated predators well. As I understand it took quite a while for the bounty system to go away all over the west. You talked about the Predatory Animal Control Program. There was also the Predator and Rodent Control that not only decimated the predators but has also reduced prairie dog populations to the lows they are at.

  67. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Don’t they still have prairie dog shooting contests in eastern Woming?

  68. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I’m not sure if they do or not. I am in western Wyoming and we don’t have nearly as many prairie dogs.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ken Cole