Carter Niemeyer: How many wolves will be killed in the hunt?
Wolf expert trapper, shooter, advocate, manager Carter Niemeyer writes special essay for this blog-
How many wolves will hunters kill in Idaho in the upcoming wolf season?
Copyright © Carter Niemeyer
We can all speculate on the number of wolves that hunters may kill if a wolf hunting season happens in Idaho, but the outcome will depend on a number of variables that are hard to predict. The quota for the state of Idaho is 220 wolves (I am not going to address the Tribal quota of an additional 35 wolves). I think that the full quota could be reached quickly if hunters start killing wolves early in the season with no consideration of age or size. Hunters who want to even the score for all of the elk that have been killed by wolves will probably be satisfied to kill any wolf they see. On the other hand, a real sportsman may wait until November when the the wolf pups have grown and all of the wolves have thick, prime winter pelts. Finding large, adult wolves that present themselves as easy targets will be a difficult task.
I predict that most wolves killed early in the season will be taken by hunters who have purchased a wolf tag and opportunistically encounter a wolf while hunting for other big game species. Many hunters report seeing wolves while on a deer or elk stand or bugling or cow-calling for elk. Hunters will be pre-positioned in a tree stand or other camouflaged situation and a wolf or wolves, hunting for their next meal, will come upon the hunter and be shot. I think this is how most of the wolves that are taken legally will die. Wolves’ encounters with people are often at very close range. With 10,000 or more hunters in the field carrying wolf tags the 220 quota could be attained in this manner. On the other hand, if hunters are more particular about the size and quality of wolf they want to kill, they may postpone killing one until they actually can kill a trophy. Wolf hunters are going to have to be very stealthy and surprise a wolf pack or they aren’t going to see them. Wolves, with their wary nature and keen senses, have the advantage over people.
Wolves are going to need time to adjust to hunters in the field. I suspect that the longer wolves survive during big game hunting season, the longer they will survive overall. Like other wild animals wolves will quickly adapt to avoiding hunters and move into remote locations the same way elk and deer do when constantly harassed, not just because they are being pursued, but because their prey is moving further into the hills. Hunters will get lazy and when they can’t pursue big game along roads and trails their success killing wolves will likewise decrease. The severity of winter will also play an important role in forcing big game to lower elevations, which will also create a situation where it might be easier to kill a wolf.
I have followed wolf packs with radio-collars using telemetry and very seldom see the wolves except in the summer when they are protecting pups. When the pups grow large enough to travel with the adult wolves the entire pack seems to be able to make themselves invisible especially if they sense a person is nearby.
Another advantage for wolves will be Idaho’s quota system. When a wolf quota is reached in a particular hunting unit the area is then closed to further wolf hunting. Hunters normally hunt in areas familiar to them or close to home and when the wolf quota in their area is filled they will be forced to travel greater distances to hunt wolves, perhaps to areas they’re not familiar with, or they may decide not to hunt them at all.
When I think of the terrain in many of the hunting units open to wolf hunting I think many hunters are going to be out of luck killing a wolf unless they are willing to walk extensively. While some wolves will be shot from an ATV, motorbike or other vehicle I think the opportunity will be short-lived when wolves realize they are the target. Obviously, several wolves will be easily killed in the opening days of wolf season but I think the number will drop off quickly. Public road closures will diminish road hunting opportunities as will snow fall.
I don’t know how soon wolves will wise up that they are being hunted, but I suspect they will learn quickly. I know that adult wolves, including the breeding pair and individuals that are two years or older will be tough to kill after they adjust to the fact that hunters are out to get them. I fully expect that most wolves coming through the Fish and Game check stations are going to be pups and yearlings simply because they lack basic survival skills only acquired through dangerous life experiences. Many hunters will be disappointed in these specimens if they were going for trophy wolves, but those who are filled with anger and animosity toward wolves probably won’t care what they shoot.
The bottom line is that hunters in Idaho probably will kill a lot of wolves simply because of the sheer number of hunters out there and the chance encounters they will have with wolves. Idaho has a lot more roads than Alaska, so I don’t think you can compare the two. The young, inexperienced wolves are going to perish first while the surviving wolves have a chance to adapt to hunters tactics and avoid people. Only a tally of dead wolves at the end of hunting season will give us a picture of the mortality that hunters will inflict and what age groups are most vulnerable and whether 220 was too low or too high.
– – – – –
Ed. note: Carter Neimeyer managed the Idaho wolf population for the federal government until Idaho took over management. During that time the wolf population grow, but livestock losses grew less than proportionately. Few people have had as much field experience with wolves as Neimeyer. I am very pleased he took time to write this essay for the Wildlife News.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
166 Responses to Carter Niemeyer: How many wolves will be killed in the hunt?
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I don’t know about the wolves adapting to being hunted the way some predators such as coyotes have. I am not an expert in any way but the wolves were killed off before when no matter how hard humans have tried coyotes have thrived.
Rusty, at least part of that is due to the coyote’s inherent rate of reproduction advantage though where every mature Coyote female can reproduce once per year, while it is only usually the alpha male and female of wolf packs that reproduce. Another significant difference is coyotes are sexually mature and reproduce after just one year instead of two like with wolves.
All things being equal, a signficiantly higher rate of reproduction in of itself makes it much tougher for humans to wipe out species as long as there is viable habitat for the animal to live in.
At the beginning of the article he said he was not going to address the 35 tribal tags.
Probably the most straight forward level headed explanation you could find on this issue.
I did not ask carter to discuss it. I’m discussing it.
Primarily because there seems to be a great deal of confusion about the TOTAL number of wolves up for shooting.
“This is a great hunt!”
I am not an expert in any way but the wolves were killed off before when no matter how hard humans have tried coyotes have thrived.
That is my main concern Rusty.
Lets see…would Carter write the way he did if one replaced wolf decription with humans as the prey? Hopefully Carter doesn’t see wolves as he describes them. What the hell is a “quality” wolf if you are a biologist? Lets see “if a hunter wants a quality human what age is it?
The whole article sounds so hunter.
Wolves have families the same as humans. Thus I would think things such as population recovery potential when it comes to numbers of individuals on the ground has little to do with effectiveness and viable infrastructure of any family. Take away the young and infrastructure is lost. Take away the leaders and the young are driftless. Think human and one soon realizes numbers shot or quotas achieved has little to do with ecological sustainability.
Hopefully Carter was talking in hunter terms and not necessarily reflect his thoughts of how wolves live entirely differently than how G&F sets “seasons” for these wolves.
I’ve met Carter, he seems like a real down to earth guy who cares about wolves. I’ve also met Mech, he’s a scientist who has the emotions of a scientist. I know cause my daughter is one also.
Thank you Bob! I think too many people compare the wolf hunt to that of cougars and bears. The structure of a pack and the “family” nature of wolves adds a totally different dimension to this hunt. Wolf packs are complicated structures and the success of all members is predicated on this delicate balance. A no, this doesn’t mean we are humanizing wolves. They, much like our pet dogs are highly social animals. We had a family friend who died in a climbing accident last winter in the Bitterroots and his dog stayed at the sight for three days until people could retrieve her. I also remember the day or two that wolf #21 spent howling for his mate (I believe #42) after she was killed by another pack several years back up on the backside of Specimen Ridge. This is different then any other predator hunt.
This seems like a good place.
Mark Gamblin have you heard of this incident?
If you read the description of this incident it sounds very possible that the two hunters stumbled across a rendezvous location for this pack. To me (very humbly), this sounds more as if the wolves were protecting this year’s young and the location rather then acting in an aggressive (hunting) manner. But hey, we all can interpret situations differently.
On a side note, is there anything more wild then a wolf howl? This is a sound that all lovers of wilderness should be so lucky to hear once in their lives.
Expand the “more info” button on the right side
I’ve known Mr. Niemeyer for some time and can attest that he has a unique view and his personal sentiments about wolves is not so unfeeling as some have suggested in the past, including on this blog. Yes, he’s a biologist but he also has a kind of compassion for wolves that I have not seen in most biologists ~ perhaps due to the political warfare he had to participate in as a federal employee in a hostile environment based on the specie of interest.
By “quality” I am certain he was referring to the quality of the pelt, if that was the purpose one adopted to justify hunting wolves.
I would wager that the perspective he adopted for this writing is more of a hunter’s view in general. The best way to get your message across is to approach the topic from the perspective of the audience; in this case I would guess that to be hunters surprised by the lack of massive harvest this week…
May I refer you all to a NYT article about the hunt so far….?
Apparently there’s a video that goes with it.
As for Carter and all the conversations I’ve had with him about wolves, I don’t question his personal perspective, I know he has no hatred for them and is dismayed by the social calamity that arises whenever wolves are the topic. Not all feds are bad.
JEFF E – no, this is the first I’ve heard of their report.
This reads pretty straight up on the hunt. We can agree or disagree but I don’t think Mr. Niemeyer made any values judgements either way in this piece.
I’m grateful for the perspective.
Carter was blogging on the hunt…so of course he wrote it from a hunting perspective. Many hunters like to challenge themselves to go after a wise old buck/bull, if one is looking for the real trophy hunting wolves. a mature wolf is what would bring bragging rights in hunting circles. No doubt there are some seasoned, skilled backcountry hunters that will be seeking the biggest wolf this season. Carter was simply point out that the real trophy hunters will be looking for a good pelt from a mature alpha and that Central Idaho is extremely rugged in general and most hunters won’t be able to access a lot of packs.
I don’t normally get involved in discussions on a website but I want to clarify that my comments speak in hunter terms because the reality is that there is a wolf hunting season going on and I am describing what is going to happen to wolves during the hunting season. I am not getting into the arguments over comparing wolves and humans-that is not the issue or the point. Wolves are going to be the targets of hunters for the next several months and I simply offered Ralph some perspective of how hunters and wolves will behave.
As for the wolf population surviving the hunting season, they will do fine. Hunting isn’t what eliminated wolves in the past-it was guns, traps, denning and poison in combination on a year around basis with no holds barred by stockmen, government agencies, bounties and wolfers. I have no interest in killing a wolf but I speak in hunting terms because wolves are legally being hunted in the Northern Rockies. No disrespect to those who want to speak in more philosophical terms about wolves.
Carter, keep up the good work. I think you have the respect of most wolf advocates, I know you have mine.
I have a hard time when people start comparing wolves to humans. You mention “families” they do not have families. They have packs. Very different from families. See if I am not mistaken a wolf will sometimes try to kill the Alpha Male or Female if they feel they can take over the pack. Now if they were “human” that would be murder. But obviously they are not. They are animals, with no sense of remorse, consience or guilt. They act on instinct to survive. So of course Carter is not going to discuss them as families. They are animals. It reminds me of PETA when people start talking and using terms that are associated with humans and put those values on animals. You cant have your pie and eat it to. If so wolves are murderers, poachers, trepassers and the list could go on.
There are obvious similarities between some human social behaviors and the social behaviors of non-human animals.
Some people look at them and say, “they’re just like us.” Others say “no that is just the psychological mechanism of projection and anthropomorphism at work in your mind.”
It seems to me reality is somewhere between, but the pole a person is on this issue helps determine how they treat animals.
My experience has been that wolves are extremely difficult to hunt. I have hunted wolves in Kazakhstan, Siberia (in the Russian Federation) and Karelia. On these hunts I saw only one wolf and we bagged none. Many Russian hunters have told me that it takes long and detailed preparations to bag a wolf. Wolves are highly adaptable and when hunted their natural instincts emerge and they become extremely wary of humans. When not hunted, young wolves in very remote areas often show more curiosity toward humans than fear; however, this usually changes rapidly if hunted. I predict relatively few wolves will be culled in relation to the total population.
Thanks for weighing in on your essay I too agree with your overall take on the issue of the hunt itself.
I do have a few issues with the politics but that is another thread.
josh sutherland: I think your world is very black and white. You say that wolves “are animals, with no sense of remorse, consience or guilt.”(sic) Have you ever seen a dog act guilty?
I see the problem being in the people in power that steward our lands and wildlife. If they believe that wolves, or any other great predator for that matter, have no conscious, and need “control” their numbers, why not use any method at all to do that? Why do we have the notion of “humane”? When we start using words such as “family of wolves” it certainly could change the game plan…
The emotion you see in the family dog is the basis for extension of that in “family” make up.
The very fact humans have the word, “murder” and the need to control those that do shows the similarities between humans and other animals. Your statements actually are the best arguments for the sameness between species.
Animals also have ways to deal with “murder”. It is called infrastructure of family and extended family…no different than it takes infrastructure of a human “civilization” to set in place “legal” controls.
For example, when Native Americans were being decimated by small pox, extermination of their food stuffs and settlers, acounts of “packs” of roaming 11 and 12 year boys chasing and raping young girls within the camp were common. Was it instinct that made these boys do what they did or not enough able bodied men to control them?
You say “instinct” with animals but probably classify it as disorder with humans. Since these”uneducated” Indians are closer to nature, ie “savages”, then maybe in this case it is part instinct and part violation of human morals? Is that it? Hitler seemed to carry this thought even a bit further. He and the Aryan society even saw subhumans in other white “races”.
I see no difference.
The state sanctioned hunts of “packs” of wolves, and the effects of disruptions on family when members of these families are hunted indiscriminately has the same effect as hunting humans. Thus if one believes in families of wolves, packs of humans, extended families of ungulates (bison, elephants, elk etc.) then one realizes the fracturing and ecological unsustainability of what state G&F hunting seasons do to these populations.
It even comes down to the quality of food we get from these supposedly wild “instinctive” animals. With todays regulations geared toward individuals, and thus allowing for removal of most role protective males, the stress in game animal herds is very high. Thus, the food we get from these animals is very inferior to what Natives had Pre White Man.
The Plains Indians hunting was geared mostly to killing families of bison and elk. Their surrounds and jumps meant all died within that family. Thus one family died and other families stayed intact.
Wolves, as another predator kill the fringes of families the same as individual Native hunters did when they went out solo. The families of herd animals pushed these individuals to the sides and thus they were the ones most easily preyed upon.
The same for satellite herds spun off from well infrastructured main core families. Carter talks of the young individual wolves being most vulnerable to the gun. If one extends this thinking to the NEXT LEVEL then one has to acknowledge spin off packs from the seasoned one are the ones most vulnerable.
What I am getting at is the way Carter talks in todays “hunter” terms is a hunter concept that is the most elementary form of any attempt at managed biology.
It is all symptom husbandry and only by looking to the human model do we have a chance to change this very distructive way we “hunt”. Of course the human model means looking to the hunter-gatherer families, clans, and tribes for guidance because the one we exist in today is very dysfunctional. But of course we know these folks needing to be saved are just savages ……part animal and part human until they are “converted”….right?
My personal feelings on hunting are I would rather snowshoe in several miles from any roads and try to take a mature animal. I would prefer not to take an alpha wolf as I would not want to cause that kind of disturbance in a pack. Talking an adult non alpha would likely cause little disruption as these animals are the most likely to disperse from the pack in the near future. In a perfect world a mature dispersing adult would be the best animal to take but tracking down a single wolf is beyond difficult. I have tried with both wolves and cougars and other than an occasional glimpse of them far off I have only gotten close to 2 cougars, one on a kill and the other called in neither where harvested because one was small and the other I could not confirm sex on.
much better said then me Bob! thanks.
After watching that youtube video I can see it is only a matter of time before the first humans are attacked and killed. If you read Dr. Valerius Geist’s article on the 7 stages leading to an attack on people by wolves it seems like the pieces are coming together exactly as he said.
“Within the packs territory prey is becoming scarce not only due to increased predation on naïve prey animals, but also by the prey evacuating home ranges en mass, leading to a virtual absence of prey. ”
“Wolves in search of food began to approach human habitations. The wolves were heard howling even during the day.”
“Wolves turn their attention to people and approach such closely, initially merely examining them closely for several minutes on end. This is a switch from establishing territory to targeting people as prey. The wolves may make hesitant, almost playful attacks biting and tearing clothing,
nipping at limbs and torso. They withdraw when confronted.”
“Wolves attack people. These initial attacks are clumsy, as the wolves have not yet learned how to take down efficiently the new prey. Persons attacked can often escape because of the clumsiness of the attacks. A mature, courageous man may beat off or strangulate an attacking wolf. However, against a wolf pack there is no defense and even two able and armed men may be killed.”
There are others in the article also. The only one not occuring in Idaho, yet, is the last one, people actually being attacked and harmed or killed. It is only a matter of time. There are a few people like Bob Jackson and Lynne Stone that will probably be thrilled when it happens but the vast majority of Idahoans who were on the fence about the wolves will be fully on board to irradicate them once again.
For any that might not have read this piece it also outlines some very interesting points on when wolves are ‘not’ dangerous to humans.
brian TT, what the elk and deer number in the western states are at historic high levels and you want to build the scenario that the territory prey is lacking and the wolves are about to attack human outposts? dude, you watch too much star trek. put your head back into reality.
the wolves are coming, the wolves are coming!!!!!!
One last thing on Josh’s comment. It is inaccurate to say that it is normal for subordinate wolves will try to find opportunities to kill the breeding male or female. However, this notion of taking higher rank through aggressive action is more normal in captive wolf packs. But naturally, in a wild situation, a wolf pack will start with one breeding pair, they will have offspring, then when they are old enough, may choose to disperse and make new packs, much rather then attack the leading pair.
The term Alpha for wolf, is actually outdated. Because it is a term for one who has fought its way to the top. They are now referred to as the just the breeding male and female.
David Mech talks about this in more detail:
jdubya, there are areas of Idaho were the prey base is extremely low due to predation by wolves. I know this because I spend a lot time in these areas, far from roads and see it with my own eyes. Some article from the F&G or RMEF is not going to convince me otherwise. You can believe everything you read, I will believe what I see and know to be true. If elk numbers in the sawtooth zone are at historic highs why did they drastically reduce the number of elk tags available to hunter this year? Just out of curiousity where are you from?
Brian, did you know that in the past 400 years essentially none, or an extremely low amount of deaths have been caused by wolves?
I mean in the USA at least.
Yes Aaron, I have read all about it. Things have changed though. We now have wolves in a very different landscape where humans have encroached on much of the habitat that used to be available for wolves and prey animals. Thus the need for humans to control and manage all wild animals.
That You-Tube video reminds me of a couple of little boys imagining all sorts of dangers as they walk through the woods; feeding off of each others fears. A friend and I had a similar experience while hiking the Rescue Creek trail in Yellowstone last fall. First we saw a couple of wolves on a hillside. They were moving in the same direction as our trail led us. We saw them, on and off paralleling us for some time. Then we entered a narrow arroyo and stopped to have lunch. As we ate, we caught glimpses of several wolves coming to edge of the arroyo and looking down at us. Then the howling started. The most spectacular howling I have ever heard. Every manner of vocalization that you can imagine. We couldn’t see them, but it sounded like they were very close as their howls echoed down the canyon. We wished very much that we had some way to record them. Funny, I remember commenting at the time how (some…not all) great white hunters would be shaking in their boots thinking that the wolves were “out to get them”! To us, this was a good part of why we were out there. An experience we will remember for a lifetime. We certainly didn’t feel threatened, only privileged. We finished our lunch and reluctantly continued on our way down the trail, leaving the howls behind us. We did catch another glimpse or two of wolves after that, but the main show was over.
Now I don’t know if we had “stumbled” across a rendezvous site, or if it was the edge of one packs territory and the beginning of anothers, and they were howling back and forth at one another (which is what we kind of surmised at the time). All I know is that I have a treasured memory, and that I need to get some kind of recording device to carry in the field!
The incident sounds so much like a wolf den defense. Aggressive charges along with howling, was it bark/howling by chance? Because clearly, they weren’t out to eat them. It was not predatory. They had no guns to make sharp noise with, yet they are still alive are they not? Without injury?
I agree with you Aaron.
Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective with the viewers of this web site. If the wolves are not re-listed in the next few months we’ll learn something about both the hunters and wolves.
Though obviously wolves have always had fatal conflicts w/ other carnivores, they didn’t evolve with the kind of pressure we can exert today & one might even argue that wolves would not have evolved to form packs if frequently hunted w/ high-powered scoped rifles. For this and other reasons I am opposed to hunting carnivores in general, not limited to wolves. Nonetheless I am interested to see what impact hunting will have because this issue is not likely to fade away in the next few decades.
Aaron, they did not have guns this time but one of them did shoot at the aggresive wolf with an arrow that stuck in a log next to it causing it to retreat.
Frankly, all I see in the video is a hunter who is kind of smirking talking about something that supposedly happened 10 minutes before they started filming. Did a wolf ‘charge’? Did a curious wolf (probably a young, inexperienced wolf) simply approach to have a look-see? Did their imaginations fill in the rest so that they would have an exciting story to tell the guys back at the pub (assuming they are even old enough to drink), or to post on You-Tube? No way to know for sure. But, hey! If there really was a wolf that close, and I had any kind of camera with me at all, I would have pictures; wouldn’t you?
My guess is that this is kind of like that witch-hunt movie a few years ago, or one of those ghost hunting TV shows. It’s a lot of, “Did you hear that?” and, “Did you see THAT?” and then, “What if this happened?!” and “What if that happened?!”
Then you hear a wolf howling!! Out comes the camera and
before you know it your boring, unsuccessful bow hunt is turning into a great adventure, and even you start believing it.
“And this log over here is where he charged us!!” “And over here is where we made a stand for our lives.” Just like the picture of the cow eating grass. The art teacher looks at the blank white paper and asks, “I don’t see a cow or grass!!” The student says, “Well, that’s because the cow finished eating the grass and left; now its started to snow!”
Man, you should see the fish that got away!!
I love how you immediately down play the hunters version of the story and discredit them as “boys” or “children” not capable of discerning a dangerous situation from a non-dangerous situation. Obviously a wild wolf approaching a human is dangerous no matter what the wolves intent was. I get nervous when I call a bull elk into 20 yards, they are called wild animals for a reason and are unpredicable.
I have 3 English Pointers that I hunt and train with. My oldest male is top dog. He would let the other dogs starve to death if he did not have his own kennel. I have broken up many a knock down bloody dog fight over food. He show absolutley no remorse about his actions. He would kill them over food, and why does he do that? Because he is a dog. He is an animal. It is all instinct. When I kick his butt after he does it, he sulks around because he knows I am mad. But he would do it again ten minutes later if I let the situation get out of hand. So no I do not agree with you.
I am not gonna lie, I had a hard time following what you wrote. I do not see animal instinct and human behavior having any sort of relationship. See the large majority of humans have the ability to discern between right and wrong. Animals dont, they just know they need to survive and do anything at all possible to survive.
I seriously doubt when the indians were planning a hunt, that they purposefully hunted individual family groups of buffalo. They killed what was the easiest to kill. Period. You know that as well as I do. I think you are giving elk, deer and wolves etc WAY to much credit as far as their relationships with each other. I have over 15 years of very intense experience hunting, scouting and killing elk and I have never seen any of the stuff you talk about. I once watched a bull slam a cow to the ground because she would not let him breed her. He showed no remorse either. Kind of wierd, I thought he would of felt bad for that assault. Not to mention that mature bulls only spend about 45 days with cows during the ENTIRE year. Sometimes when I read some of the stuff you write it is way out there, especially coming from someone who spent so much time in Yellowstone surround by elk and other animals.
BrianTT – In your 9 am post above, mentioning my name, I’ve no idea what you are talking about except you seem to be stating that I will be thrilled if a wolf ever hurts or kills someone in Idaho. I don’t know who you are, or how you came up with this, but this is a really sick statement to make and I resent it. Regardless, in the future, stick to speaking your opinion, and not stating what you think “will thrill” me or others, or go blog somewhere else – there are plenty of anti-wolf sites that you can attack me on.
What if this form of “management” isn’t as efficient as the state/hunters desire it to be? Will the state be forced to cull the remaining wolves of the quotas? There are far too many poorly made assumptions in this management plan that didn’t rely on any real input from those that make the closest approximation to wolf behavior.
And how will hunters react if few wolves are “managed”? Will they become more frustrated and demand more or will they just become Palin-ated and start using helicopters and snowmobiles to kill them?
They didn’t pay any attention to historic elk and deer harvest rates, so if someone charismatic gets them riled up over low wolf “management” yields, there could be a horrible backlash through the entire system.
“The Plains Indians hunting was geared mostly to killing families of bison and elk. Their surrounds and jumps meant all died within that family. Thus one family died and other families stayed intact.”
I am curious to know more about your comment. Can you direct us to a published source for this information?
I think that wolves will wise up as they are hunted, but I think that hunters will also wise up and become better at finding wolves. We need to keep a close watch on wolf hunting quotas and change those as needed to prevent over”harvesting” (Killing) of individual packs. You and I both know that finding wolves is not particulary difficult if you have been around them a lot.
Lynne- I agee with you on the personal attacks. If people like BrianTT, can claim to read our minds , they need to be brave enough to use their real names and let everyone know what they really do. I disagree with you every now and then, but I respect you for being upfront and taking ownership of your opinions. There are some sick little cowards on this blog that attack others and then hide behind their fake names. I have no respect for them or their opinions.
If I went to court and claimed that my nieghbor tried to attack me, and as evidence all I had was a video tape of the hedgerow between our properties and said, “This is where he came through the hedgerow after me;” then I panned over to the lawn and said, “This is where he almost got me, but my wife turned the hose on him and he ran away;” how do you think it would fly?
Why film the empty woods at all if your intent wasn’t simply to put the video on You-Tube and raise a stink? We all know that SOME hunters, as well as SOME ranchers and outfitters hate wolves and are highly motivated to try and turn public opinion against them. Why is it that whenever we hear a story like this about wolves it’s always hunters? Why is it that thousands of hikers and backpackers never have a problem? (Except a rare case involving having a dog along, or a single habituated wolf.)
I’m sorry if there is just something about that smirk, but I’ve been in dicey situations; don’t recall smirking about it ten minutes later. Especially when there was still a potential danger.
You know, I’ve also had elk (and other large animals) up close.
A couple of years ago I stumbled on a new elk calf, and I thought Momma was going to kill me. She got right into my face, her head held high as she pranced around and I slowly backed away. Very, very scary; but I didn’t run out and post a video on You-Tube implying that elk were turning on us, or how dangerous they are becoming. Especially not a video that did not have a single elk in it, just one bugling in the distance! It’s all part of being out in the woods, isn’t it?
And you know what? Fifteen years from reintroduction and we are still waiting for our first bite, our first scratch. When a child was going to die within a year, I remember someone saying!
A hundred people could be trampled to death a year by cows (heck, thousands DO die every year from mosquito bites) and no one would care, or take notice; but by God if one person gets so much as a scratch from a wolf, the world shall surely end as we know it!
I’m not saying this wolf thing didn’t happen just as described. As I said above: No way to know for sure. I’m just giving my opinion of what it looks like to me. Could also be that the situation was misread by the hunters. Wolves are very intelligent and curious.
No way for us to know. One thing I do know: back in court, the case would be thrown out for lack of evidence.
ok, ok, Lynne and Larry, you are right, my comment was in poor taste and uncalled for. I just don’t understand how some people can put wolves above or equal to a human. Lynne, I apologize that I let my emotions dictate my comments. You are right, I don’t know you personally though you are somewhat of a celebrity in the wolf debate world.
Did some research on multiple different sites about the hunting methods of the Plains indians and could not find anything about them hunting specific “families” or herds of buffalo. It depends on what era of plains indians you are referring to. Before horses they would ambush and stalk individual animals, like our hunting methods today, after horses they would stampede the herd and shoot as many as possible before their horses got tired or stampede them over a cliff, which obviously would result in the whole herd dying. Nowhere could I find any mention at all of them trying to kill buffalo for the reasons you mentioned. Maybe you could point me in the right direction.
Question for Carter or Mark Gamblin if they are still tracking this blog and willing to answer:
Hypothetical: Hunter gets his elk in the late afternoon and dresses it, but cannot remove it until next day. Takes/ or does not take measures to leave human scent, like a hat or t-shirt. Comes back next day and wolves have eaten on carcass, as occasionally bears will do.
Are you aware of this happening much with wolves, and, if so, do you anticipate the frequency will be reduced from behavior response by being hunted?
Your statement “There are a few people like Bob Jackson and Lynne Stone that will probably be thrilled when it (a wolf attack) happens” is ludicrous.
You reach a conclusion after watching the UTube that “it is only a matter of time before the first humans are attacked and killed.” There was not even a wolf in view; only finger pointing.
Perhaps the wolf would have moved on without an arrow having been shot; “one of them did shoot at the aggresive (subjective?) wolf with an arrow that stuck in a log next to it causing (?) it to retreat.”
You seem to read a lot into situations of which you have little knowledge.
“Obviously a wild wolf approaching a human is dangerous no matter what the wolves intent was.”
It might be perceived by the humans as dangerous but that does not make it so.
I have never kicked my dog for any reason. It sounds like you have little respect for wildlife or dogs.
I can see how some folks can put even slugs and worms above some people. Maybe I could. 😉
I linked this video primarily because the two individuals claim they talked with a “fish and game biologist” concerning it. I wanted to know if Mark Gamblin had heard anything as I would think something like this would go thru that agency pretty quickly. As he stated he has heard nothing.
As for the “incident itself” to me it is pretty clear that the wolves were reacting to something new/unusual in there domaine and nothing more.
It is also pretty clear that these two know next to nothing about wolves i.e. they referred that the biggest wolf was the alpha. That just is not always the case and unless a whole pack is observed together over a period of time there is no way to definitively state what wolf is dominate and which are not.
They also state that they were on that ridge line for 3.5 hours and when they dropped over the other side all of the sudden they were being “hunted”. More like they dropped over the ridgeline and surprised a few wolves hanging around a rendezvous area on a warm afternoon. The black was either very curious and approached to investigate or was actually one of the dominate wolves in the group and as such will be the first to meet any perceived threat. The wolf howling in the woods was calling to the rest of the pack which was out goofing around that there is a threat and they need to get back to the rendezvous area post haste. After that the wolves were keeping a eye on the hunters as they left the area.
It never was stated where this was but it could be that this was the first time these wolves had any kind of close encounter with humans.
You make me smile. I dont care what kind of wild animal approaches me, bear or wolf or deer or elk or beaver or badger or any kind of animal. Once it has identified me as a human and still chooses to approach me. That is a dangerous situation. Especially with a large apex predator. Your kind of innocent thinking is how people get hurt. If you are not seriously alarmed by a wolf approaching you at 20 yards once it knows your a human, you are just begging for a bad experience. Something is seriously wrong with the animal, ie rabies, or its gonna get aggressive. JMO.
As for kicking my dog, when he is latched onto my 1 year old dog and blood hair and slober is flying all over the place what would you have me do? Nicely ask if he would stop??? LOL!! Dont be so naive, I dont just go out and kick my dog, but if its gonna save me hundreds of dollars in vet bills and permanent injuries to my other dog. Then ya gotta do what you gotta do. He learned though, have not had a problem with him for a few years. Also, I have all the respect in the world for my dogs. I train them 2-3 times a week. Hunt them consistently throughout the fall and make sure that they are healthy and in shape. My wife says I spend too much time with them. And my oldest dogs still follows me around like a puppy even after 8 years of me “dis-respecting” him… This seems to be the case of you “reading things into something you have little knowledge about”……. 🙂
Those seemed like alarm barks to me. I have heard that hundreds of times when I am hunting coyotes. Usually with coyotes it means the gigs up, we know something is not right. Could be something different with wolves though.
they were alarm barks/howls. Means there is a threat in the immediate area and the pack needs to be warned about it.
Josh & Wilderness,
I do a fair number of presentations across the country on social order bison. If you are anywhere in the area (Bozeman, Ogden etc.) you can listen to a lot more than what I say here. Also I give presentations at some of the International Bison and Wildlife Society conferences. Some are by myself, with my partner and some with a Indian from Pine Ridge. …oh, I also have been invited twice to the Intertribal Bison Conferences to talk on how their tribal makeup mirrors herd animals.
If you look up some of the Range Science happening out of Utah State you should also find some stuff there. Or just google me and you will find some more info on presentations to the different Indian tribes.
Or if you want to stick with “whitey” buy some of the buffalo hunter books authored by the likes of Vic Smith, Fred Mayer and John Cook. All those stands were with families of bison and they focused the killing of those stands with this knowledge. Vic was a particularly ugly sort of guy with all his prejudices but he did have the largest stand on record…103 buffalo. I’d say this extended family was a power group (60-70 animals in fertile areas) and a newly formed up satellite group still very dependent on “mommy”. vic talks of humping up the main cows with a gut shot then proceeding to kill all the “grandmothers, aunts neices and sisters and brothers”.
Mayers hunting was further south thus the family groups were smaller….15-25 animals.
There was so much emphasis and need on hunting family groups by Indians they would have their law enforcement cops beat any hunter trying to go out on his own during these tribal cooperative hunts. There were two big hunts, the summer and the fall…and these provided most of the meat for the year.
Hunt leaders would have to change frequently if the bison families they encountered were small (15-25) because he and the hunters …and their horses …would have to put about as much energy into the smaller surrounds as the larger 60-70 herd groups. The idea was to kill every one of its members so there was no running off to tell other relatives. This took a lot of mopping up but was essential.
The bison jump success was also dependent on bison family cohesiveness. These jumps are not the same as bison stampedes where thousands of bison and hundreds of families ran together. Most jumps in areas such as Colorado had no more than 23 bison go over at one time. In northern areas it was up to 100 members of a family. The jumps also were limited to the matriarchal components if there was to be success. You can not get mature bulls to stampede over anything.
The third element of family herd hunts was the piskin or corral. This and the jump were the main ways of hunting bison prior to horses. The jumps never employed horses except for far off preliminary movement of animals…just a glimpse here a glimpse there for the bison to see …and two days later a herd might be in position for a funneled drive by concealed people on the flanks of a cliff.
The books to read about this are a lot of the early recorded historical accounts and anthropologist writings (Bowers for one) on the Mandan, Omaha, Pawnee, Hidatsa and Cheyenne. The book, “Heads, Hides & Horns” by Barsness is probably the most thorough book on any large animal hunting by Natives and Whites. It is my favorite and I can read it many times over and each time get more understanding of the quotes he refers to. One also reads a fair amount about wolves and their behaviors and numbers.
Of course if I wereyou I’d also read as many of the great white hunters of Africa books also..especially the earliest accounts. The boys there doing all the killing had to know what a herd consisted of.
Don’t feel too bad about being so ignorant however. The ungulate biologists in all of academia are in the same boat. Yellowstone, the home of the “wild” bison has no biologists that know about families of bison, elk or anything else. They talk about “seeing some bonding up until the yearling age”. It is just the early whiteman hunters and ,of course, just about every hunter-gatherer that ever walked this earth that know this stuff.
I guess it means you two are novists, huh. If only you knew your hunting would be so much more successful. You might even be able to get that last bull(s) which you don’t think have any connection with the cow herd pre or post rut.
Protect native banana slugs! 2nd largest slug in the world; lives on the west coast of the USA.
Thanks! I find the topic fascinating and look forward to learning more.
Gotta tell ya Brain that would be really sad if we could control wildlife, nothing would be wild , just what we want and can control. very sad
I hope you don’t breed that dog!
Please let’s not go down the my-dog-is-the-alpha-because-he’s-a-resource-guarder path when we’re discussing wolf packs and roles within it. You should know that many dog behaviorists study resource guarding and dog group hierarchy and the notion of alpha being the one who kills for food within the dog group is rapidly changing, given new studies being done.
That being said, I appreciate Carter Niemeyer’s post. I heard about the 100+ sheep being killed up near Dillon, MT, and I can appreciate that rancher’s emotions even while I worry about the fate of the wolf.
This is definitely a touchy situation in Idaho. Having grown up here and having spent six years in Yellowstone, it’s definitely less heated there (though surprisingly it still is somewhat heated) than here.
I could care less about the social order of buffalo. I dont plan on hunting buffalo in my life time. One of the few remaining wild herds of buffalo is about an hour away from me, my wife will draw a tag soon.
As for elk, though I am gonna have to disagree with you. I am just surrounded by the best producing elk units in the world for the last decade. The world record was killed in my back yard. I had a tag on one of the best units in the state last year. No luck though. I am sure bulls, now I am talkin mature in the prime of their life bulls, not 2-3 year old bulls, interact with cows on occasion throughout the year beyond the rut. The funny thing is Bob, we scout 2-3 days a week, have trail cameras ALL over the mountain. On water holes, on wallows, bedding grounds and transition areas. Funny thing is we never see the big bulls with the cows EVER. And I mean EVER. They are holed up in small groups in very nasty country. Especially after the rut. Mainly solitary animals. The big bulls group up in the winter, but very rarely with cows unless its in an area with a limited winter range where they will run into each other. Since we find all the big bull sheds in very much higher elevation than where we see cows and younger bulls winter. So I am gonna have to call you on that one..
bob jackson wrote
“Don’t feel too bad about being so ignorant however. The ungulate biologists in all of academia are in the same boat.”
Obviously you feel very highly of your opinion and if you feel all biologists who study for years to learn these things are ignorant, then I dont know what I can bring to the table.
No I will not breed him. He is only aggressive when he is around food. Other than that he is an amazing animal. Its a problem with the dogs that I train with, I compete in trials so I usually buy the most independent and dominant male in each litter to get one with lots of range, then you get 2-3 of those around each other, and all are intact, things can get out of hand if you dont pay attention. All of the fights my dogs have gotten in were because I failed to pay attention to small details.
I dont know what your talking about, or if that comment was even directed at me.
Josh – why in this day and age, do you hunt coyotes? On second thought, don’t bother to answer.
I dont think you and I would agree on much as far as hunting is concerned.
One last response, although in your case I think it is all a matter of matter. Think what it would be like if the percent of population numbers of male humans were the same as those of hunted elk. I’d say there would be mayhem and all kinds of gangs. This is what you have in elk with seasons set as they are now. Could even account for that bull elk knocking down that cow, huh?
And as for the bulls being WITH the matriarchal components of the herd that is your interpretation of what I said, not mine. . Males usually protect from afar. They are the scouts, the flankers and the standing army. With wolves and other predators the female components of ungulates, such as elk and bison, are usually defended by the cows and dependents going to the males.
By you not thinking males serve any other value than breeding and gene transfer you may not know it but you are very much subordinating the roles of males in all species…including humans. Unless, of course, you believe males of humans are Earths Aryan exception. I am curious what is your perception of human females..other than conception?
You are a unique individual. Once again you are using human examples and applying them to elk. I dont know how or even why you would do that to try and prove your point. You are the first person I have ever heard that explained it the way you just did. The males protect from afar and are flankers? Come one Bob. I spend countless hours scouting and hunting elk and I have never seen what you describe. We find elk sheds almost 2,000 feet higher on the mountain than where we find cows wintering. Males serve alot of different purposes for different species. But trying to say that the role of a bull elk and the role of an alpha male and the role of a human male are one in the same is a joke. A bull elk primary duty is to breed and pass on genes during the rut. Buffalo its probably different where you have bulls protecting the herd etc. But I have over 15 years of extensive interaction with elk and have never witnessed what you are describing.
If you want to talk about elk and how they work together thats fine. But I am not going to get drug into your world of similarities of human and elk behavior and how we should manage them as if they were a city or population of people with the intelectual capacity of humans. Thats borderline PETA stuff Bob.
Lynne Stone “Why in this day and age do they hunt coyotes?”
They’ll always be some who must define their manhood by killing unwilling participants for fun. They literally take pleasure in killing. The prey is unimportant, whether it’s a coyote, wolf or the latest victim of a serial killer.
BUT, I believe times are changing. The younger generation is finding more value in all wildlife thanks to efforts of people like yourself.
Do you feel that me and a serial killer share alot in common? Just curious. What makes you feel I hunt coyotes to define manhood?
Josh….just general comments . Your questions are interesting though.
I am curious how elk can find a hiding place on “the mountain” will all your sophisticated surveilance gear. Are you set up to monitor all these areas from a location in your house?
Love this blog and just wanted to add my 2 cents.
– Based on my experiences, Carter Niemeyer knows more about wild wolves than everyone on this board put together.
– The hunters reactions in the video (and its title) are meant to stoke fear and anger. I have been in similar proximity to wolves from the Scott Mountain, Kelly Creek, Chesmia, Jungle Creek, Juerano packs and a few others. I have been “surrounded” by wolves- if you can call it that. I have never felt the slightest bit threatened. I only felt a tremendous sense of awe and amazement that I was fortunate enough to experience it. They are some of the most vivid and memorable experiences of my life.
– I am not a “wolf hugger” nor do I put wolves on a pedestal. They are just another creature on the planet trying to survive. To enter wild places where our species overlap is nothing short of compelling. Every child in the US should have the opportunity to be “surrounded” by wolves. Hopefully, we can teach the next generations to respect the value of every living thing on the planet (however Idaho is a lost cause 🙂
Josh, check out the documentary, Killing Coyote: http://www.highplainsfilms.org/fp_killcoyote.html
Josh – for the record. I’ve hunted and killed deer, and hunted elk but never shot one. I gew up in a hunting, gun nut ranch family in eastern Oregon. (And I apologize to the oldtimers on this blog, who have heard me say this before). I am not against hunting for food.
I shot my share of squirrels, rabbits, marmots and other “varmints” as a kid. Then I went off to college and my new friends wondered why I was killing animals I didn’t eat. They had enough trouble with accepting deer and elk hunting. This was over 40 years ago, and the end of my “varmint” hunting days.
I wanted to do a follow-up before this thread runs out. You will be happy to know I ordered the Barsness buffalo book, and do look forward to exploring this topic. As for the transferrability of your theories to elk, I am a bit more skeptical. I am open minded, but skeptical.
My observations on elk behavior over many years in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington – both in observing behavior throughout the year, as well as hunting season, seem different from yours. I do not discount that your generally described theories could have application in a world uninfluenced by humans and in the presence of wolves, in a more balanced natural state – absent what do to the land physically, how we occupy it, and the compounding adverse effects of our large and growing numbers.
I have a couple of inquiries in to some of my research buddies, in hopes of getting feedback on the plausability of your theories, and will report back, perhaps on another thread.
A general comment and a bit off topic- Harris Sherman has just been nominated to be the new head of the US Forest Service (think grazing leases along with Secy Interior Salazar’s BLM resonsibilities). Sherman has a long history of public service in Colorado, and is not without controversey. He is smart, well educated, politically astute and a pretty good listener, although can make tough decisions. Probably good to have an outsider run the agency, for awhile.
James – I agree with your experiences with wolves, having had similar ones myself. However, I don’t think Idaho is a lost cause. It’s going to take a couple of generations to change. I won’t be around to see it, but I will keep working to change the people who are open to listening. Wolves make being outdoors so much more interesting. I used to only go hiking where I could see mountain goats. Now, it’s where I’m likely to see and hear wolves.
We scout like crazy. You have to if you want to kill a mature bull. I only have about 2-3 cameras out, everything else is from hiking and glassing etc. Believe me, they find hiding places.. I wish I could set it to watch from my house, would make it alot easier!! Never hunted a coyote to prove my manhood, in fact I usually go with my dad and not really trying to prove my manhood to him.. 🙂 And my wife hates me being gone hunting, so not really a good way to prove my manhood to her.. Its very challenging and I enjoy hunting them, obviously whatever reason I give you as for why I hunt coyotes will not be enough so if you want we can continue to talk about it or we can talk about something else.
I respect what you do, I browsed through your website some great pictures and information. I am glad there are people like you Lynn that fight for things, without people like you then alot of animals, not just wolves would suffer. You fight the cattle industry alot for your protections of wolves, which in turn benefits deer etc. I might not always agree with everything you say or do, but without people like you who are willing to fight for wolves and other animals would be in alot worse situation. I am not way pro-wolf or anti-wolf, I am somewhere in between. I would not mind having them around in certain areas, but I dont want the drama that follows them.
josh: Doesn’t surprise me at all that you don’t agree. You seem to be quite arrogant on this blog. Your opinion or the highway. so doesn’t surprise me at all…
However since there are other opinions, I’ll express mine at this point. In general, it has been my experience with domestic dogs that they react the way they are brought up… regardless of breed. Of course that is a very controversial point, especially with respect to pitbulls. But I still believe and based on what I have seen if dogs are fighting over food, there are reasons for that that you have introduced him/her to. sounds. I have seen how some Alaskan sled dog owners “train” their dogs and how the respectful mushers, such as Jeff King, train their dogs. There is a BIG difference.
Sounds like a hellish life for a dog on your campground by the way. Dogs earn respect for their owners but not the way you are treating them. You do not have respect of your dogs, just disgust and fear and hatred. a wolf wouldn’t put up with that crap…
What a lot of intermountain, midwest, rural folks don’t realize is that while the kids spending Sunday afternoon blowing away bunnies, squirrels and birds may be perfectly acceptable behavior to them, in most parts of the country such activities would be cause for serious concern; perhaps a trip to the psychiatrist. Certainly signs of grave emotional problems.
Hunting for food is a time honored tradition, and sustenence hunters are our brothers and sisters in conservation. Sometimes it becomes necessary to kill something you are not going to eat: fox IN the chicken house, mice in your house, gopher in the vegie garden etc. Civilized people do this to prevent damage or disease. Then you build a better fence. But to kill for fun, or to hang some animal part on your wall, or because you dislike one species or another, or simply to prove your manhood as in some ancient tribal ritual; most civilized people find that sick and depraved. As human beings we should have outgrown such activities.
A quote from as far back as 1872 recognizes “killing for fun” as unsportsman like:
“In a similar vein, the November 1872 issue of American Sportsman magazine tried to define what makes a true sportsman: “It is not the mere killing of numbers, much less in the mere killing at all; it is not in the value of things killed, though it is not sportsmanship, but butchery and wanton cruelty, to kill animals which are valueless as food…”
I doubt recreational hunters will get all 255 wolves. Supposedly they are difficult to shoot, taking refuge in thick trees, etc. On this Alberta government website they state that wolves are not attractive targets for recreational hunting: http://www.srd.gov.ab.ca/fishwildlife/wildlifeinalberta/wolvesalberta/managementplan.aspx . “Harvest management is confounded by problems that include low market demand for black wolves, occurrence of mange (a skin parasite) and mediocre pelt quality (coarse-haired individuals). Recreational hunting of wolves in Alberta is inefficient in areas of heavy tree cover.”
Elsewhere I have read that ungulate/wolf populations tend to change over time. Left to themselves the sequence goes something like this: First the wolf population increases, they over-hunt their prey and starve, reducing their numbers. Next the ungulate population rebounds and the wolf population slowly increases again. Repeat the cycle. This is in conflict with the human game management desire to have more or less constant populations year after year. Stability in nature is sometimes not perceived by man, who tends to be myopic with his sense of time.
I do not object to the wolf hunt, however. Wolves were moved here unnaturally, faster than if migration were allowed to happen on it’s own, moving humans and their activities out, first, to prepare suitable habitat. The total area available here is too small to allow them to breed at the rate they are capable of. Their method of getting here was forced by man, therefore their evolution will be influenced by humans as well.
I don’t think it is fair to say killing rabbits and squirrels are just for fun, I know around my house, we eat them, in addition to elk, deer, etc..
I really dont know how to respond to what you wrote.. but I will try.
“In general, it has been my experience with domestic dogs that they react the way they are brought up… regardless of breed” BREED is what an animal is bred to do. IE a sheep dog herds, a pointing dog points, a hound dog chases cats, a lab retrieves. Its called INSTINCT. My 10 week old pointer will point a quail. Nothing I taught him or raised him to do. He does it on INSTINCT. Because he is an ANIMAL. Pit Bulls were bred to be aggressive, they were bred to attack other dogs. So if you take a bear you can train it to be nice? Thats following your same line of thinking.
And explain this comment please:
“Sounds like a hellish life for a dog on your campground by the way. Dogs earn respect for their owners but not the way you are treating them. You do not have respect of your dogs, just disgust and fear and hatred. a wolf wouldn’t put up with that crap…” Going out and chasing birds is all my dog cares about. That is what he was bred to do. He hunts at least once a week in the fall. Goes to a couple of field trials each year, is in great shape, sees a ton of wild birds each year. Goes up the mountain looking for elk with me, goes on 4-wheeler runs. My vet even tells me he is one of the best looking dogs he has seen. (Imagine me taking him to the vet) He has an amazing life. He could not ask for a better life especially for a bird dog!!!! Thanks for your input, I am sure you are a very qualified dog trainer.
My suggestion on Heads, Hides & Horns is to value the quotes but temper the authors generalized assessments. For example, Barsness will say how the naturalist, Seton, said it would take a lot of years before buffalo occupied an area after the herd there was shot out. What Barnsess couldn’t know is that it is the same for humans. If a territory is freed up what keeps human families or tribes from leaving their home to partake of the resources? For one they lose control of their own resources. Thus occupying becomes an incremental increase in expansion of that herd…or tribe.
As for elk or any other ungulate the physical closeness of family is directly porportionate to the size of that animal. In other words elephants stay very close together, bison pretty close and elk more so than deer. The larger ungulates can’t or don’t want to flee as well as animals such as elk or deer. But just because we don’t see them tight together doesn’t mean social structure isn’t just as strong.
Wyoming did some recent studies on deer and found those even 2-3 miles away were blood connected and moved and interacted as one grouping. The elk herds you talk of as not having the same characteristics are dysfunctional, thus don’t show as much cohesion. A few of the herds in Yellowstone stay in the Park year round. These are the best examples and can be seen in Yellowstone Lake’s SE arm 300 head elk herd. One can also see a lot of male roles in the Two Ocean herd …where the bulls haven’t been decimated….because they have learned to flee overnight through the gaunlett the 40 miles to the safety of the Elk Refuge.
A lot of what you will now notice with elk will be because you are now able to look for it. With bison it is easier to see but even then there are lots of researchers who are blind to what is before their eyes.
If you logic this out then you will realize it has to be this way. Structure had to form up. Evolution would not have allowed any species to not evolve into one the best it can be (sounds like a Marine commercial). To say any male is there just to be competitive and pass on genes is a lot of waste of the rest of the year for any species. To not have additional roles consistent with humans means that specie would die out. Enough for now.
Feel free to have any of your research buddies contact me. There ability to “see”, of course, will be directly porportionate to their sense of supperiority over other species,…. aka Josh of this thread as one with highest view of superiority…. compared to hunter-gatherer indigenous peoples as the “equal” to other species.
I dont think we need to argue the human species as “superior” to all other forms of animal life. Especially intellectual superiority… I gues we will just have to agree to disagree, also the elk herds in my state have some of the highest bull to cow ratios, so no decimation here. If riding a horse in the Yellowstone back country makes you an expert on elk then I cant match you there. What college or degree do you have Bob? Just curious, or what field of study?
“Dogs earn respect for their owners but not the way you are treating them. You do not have respect of your dogs, just disgust and fear and hatred. a wolf wouldn’t put up with that crap…”
gline – Pack structure is created from respect. Usually physical respect. Since Larry’s upstream I’ll use one of his photos to illustrate with a little altercation over a bison kill. http://www.larrythorngren.com/Wolves_Bears_Kills/IMG_8224%20Wolves%20Canyon%20Pack©.jpg
If we want to talk dog breeds and their instincts my very assertive pit bull does not touch the cat food if it’s in the cat food dish, ever. Why? Because I told him not to. Now my other dog, yep a hunting breed, waits just long enough for you to step out of the room.
Then your elk herds must consist of maybe 35-40% males, I assume? Plus they have all the ages and role training infrastructure associated with herds pre Whiteman? Yup you definitely have non decimated herds in your state if your herds meet this criteria.
As far as education I have a research oriented degree in F&W Biology from Iowa State University.circa 1969.
Unfortunetly some of our herds have bull to cow ratios of 1:1. Its a joke. But they are all about 1:2 maybe 1:3. The state of Utah issue very few tags, hence the age class we have. But I still dont see the family structure you have mentioned. But I dont want to keep beating a dead horse, so we will just have to disagree.
Cat, re: above 3:04 pm comment: I think there is a difference between physical altercations amongst wolves vs human/domestic dog interaction re: the respect concept. Human abuse against a dog doesn’t bring respect from the dog . Are you saying physical abuse of the dog is ok because wolves do it to each other?
also for you David Mech fans, I found this quote from Mech that I used to have on my email a couple of years ago..
“If the Wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered.
They must be outshouted, outfinanced, and out voted.
Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an
attitude based on an understanding of natural processes.”
L. David Mech
I would put the wolf haters in the same category as tea baggers. I don’t see any attempt on their part to consider reasonable and usually complicated solutions to complicated issues. It is easier just to hate and shout over everyone else. They have no “understanding of natural processes” nor do they wish to do so. Killing for the enjoyment of it is disgusting.
I was not trying to gain the respect of my dog. I was trying to break up a dog fight. My dog did not attack ME, he attacked my other dog because of a dispute over food. Re-read my post. I did not just run out there and physically abuse my dog. I have no interest or desire to abuse my dog. But I will correct him quickly especially if harm could happen to him or another dog because of his actions.
And my dog respects me very much, he is very obedient and his obedience is based on repetition and constant training. Any dog trained with violence or intimidation will not produce the results that I want, hence the reason I dont train that way. Hard to get a hunting dog to hunt with you if he is scared of you.
Actually at this point in time, it really does not matter which side your on, it seems as if both sides have discounted the others and shout over each other. I do find it pretty interesting that the argument is pretty much a moral argument than a scientific argument now a days…
that is so true, Save Bears.
It’s a warm night in Stanley, don’t even need a jacket. This only happens about 5 nights a year. I wanted to say that this morning I saw a beautiful 5 point bull elk along Highway 21. If any skunked bow hunters are reading this blog, and you think the wolves have gotten all the elk, I might even tell you approximately where he was. Several other elk with him. Another 30 head right by the Salmon River, including 12 calves and one 2 point bull. Didn’t see the usual bunch of 60-80 head that frequents other locales. Thought IDFG said the Sawtooth Zone was about out of elk, that’s why we’re having this insane 7-month wolf hunt. Also, all my records say that IDFG doesn’t want elk wintering around Stanley, that’s why we had elk season go on from Sept to December.
Arne P Ryason says:
“I do not object to the wolf hunt, however. Wolves were moved here unnaturally, faster than if migration were allowed to happen on it’s own, moving humans and their activities out (Who was forced to move out?), first, to prepare suitable habitat. The total area available here is too small to allow them to breed at the rate they are capable of.”
Too small? The entire Northern Rockies? I hate to do it, because it has been rehashed over and over, but…….what about Minnesota? Here you have a state with more people, more cows and a fraction of the wilderness (Minnesota has 815,000 acres of designated wilderness compared to over ten million acres in the three Northern Rockies states!!), and twice as many wolves; AND NO WOLF HUNT, yet.
Over ten million acres of designated wilderness, plus millions of other acres of defacto wilderness: national parks, forests, BLM land that is not designated as wilderness, not big enough to support a couple thousand wolves? Really?
“I do find it pretty interesting that the argument is pretty much a moral argument than a scientific argument now a days…”
In reality, it always was a moral argument. at base. In the case of wolves, some science may say that wolf populations can tolerate losses. This does not mandate a hunt. It is a moral decision to therefore allow the hunt, not a scientific one. I am not aware of any scientific arguments that state that wolves need to be hunted for their own good.
Thank you Carter for giving us the straight analysis on this most convoluted of wildlife issues in the Northern Rockies. Your expertise and pragmatism are priceless.
Over here in Wyoming, the control and taking of Wolves has been primarily in the province of Wildlife Services from USDA. Their agents have their work cut out for them. To that end, WS has at their disposal the full gamut of Wolf control tools , including baiting, trapping, and aerial gunning not available to the sport hunter or permitted stockman.
I would suggest to Ralph that he make a sincere request of Wildlife Services to hear from their field people about the working realities of Wolf control…like trying to take out a specific animal or pack using all means possible. For instance, by reading the weekly Wolf reports for USF&WS over the summer I’ve noted tha WS has had a low success rate in eradicating wolves in some parts of Wyoming but done the deed in others. Overall, they are batting maybe .333 if I’m doing the box score right.
If they can be persuaded to give an honest account of their wolf work, a parallel article from Wildlife Services agents may add much to the knowledge base here. ( Good luck with that … they try to stay out of the public spotlight ).
Well we can try. Wildlife Services tends to ignore requests,including, FIOAs.
They did issue a 2008 report for Idaho which I posted. I hope some folks read it. The report was very revealing.
My point was, in my experience a moral argument will never be won by either side, when you argue morals, you are arguing based on emotion. With humans, rarely is emotion controlled by just facts.
Facts rarely come into a moral argument. The imposition of your morals on me, or my morals on you will do nothing to solve the issue at hand…all that will do, is inflame both of us.
However as you stated, some science does state that wolves can be hunted with very little harm to the overall population. And there is some science that claims irreparable harm. So which science is correct? Without the hunt, there is really no way to prove either side, so we are now back to emotion.
“when you argue morals, you are arguing based on emotion”
I have to disagree with this. A good ethical argument is logically sound; a purely emotional argument isn’t.
“Facts rarely come into a moral argument.”
Facts absolutely must come into valid ethical arguments. However, sometimes the facts don’t automatically lead to a conclusion, and that is where logical argumentation comes in.
“The imposition of your morals on me, or my morals on you will do nothing to solve the issue at hand…all that will do, is inflame both of us.”
Our entire society is based on shared morality and morality changes and evolves as we do. A generation or two ago, granting complete protection to birds of prey would have been unthinkable, for example- now hardly anyone questions it.
“However as you stated, some science does state that wolves can be hunted with very little harm to the overall population. And there is some science that claims irreparable harm. So which science is correct? Without the hunt, there is really no way to prove either side, so we are now back to emotion.”
Not really- again, we can come back to a basic morality- don’t cause harm to sentient beings unless it’s necessary to avert a greater harm. This is not based on emotion, it’s based on some very sound logical reasoning. If you’re really interested, works by the philosophers Peter Singer and Tom Regan are great places to start. Regan’s “The Case for Animal Rights” in particular is written, deliberately, to eschew emotion and use logic and reason to try and prove his case.
I will state, that the definition of “sentient beings” has different meaning to different people, it is only logical if the theory presented happens to match your belief system, to others that don’t believe the same as you, it then becomes a moral or ethical or at its worse an emotional issue.
I have read both of these philosophers when I was in college, I can’t say that I agree with all of their ideals, but I do feel them have some valid theories… and the end, it as you stated, Regan is using logic and reason to prove his case, but yet there are those that he has not proven his case to.
This is where one of the biggest problems with wildlife and most importantly wolf issues come into play, the difference in peoples morals, ethics and especially their emotions…what is logical to you, may very well be illogical to me…hence we are never going to have an agreement on what is “wrong” or “right”(not saying that you and I agree or disagree) I try hard to look at both sides of the issue and find valid points on both sides..and can say, I disagree with many points on both sides, based on my upbringing as well as learning experiences..
Facts rarely come into a moral argument.
Something politicians need to learn…
You lost me with that comment.
I mean that politicians make moral arguments that are based on opinions and beliefs and not on fact.
So do the majority of humans, politicians have no corner on that market!
Cris, Save Bears, etc.
Where is the science that says “wolves must be hunted for their own good”? I am still waiting for the commissions to address that. I understand that there is a “need” to hunt them for political reasons.
For the record, I want to state that the majority of hunters I know are ethical and while none of them hunt predators, most are not willing to judge those who do, except those who do it in illegal or cruel ways. I cannot understand why mankind hunts predators, but at the same time, at the moment I believe that the GYE wolf population can probably
withstand losing 255 in Idaho, 75 in Montana (and however
many will be SSS’d in Wyoming.)
My objection to the current hunting plan is its length (through March, really?), its breadth (all areas) and the lack of any mention of the wolf’s place in nature, nor any committment to leave them alone in units where elk populations are at sustainable levels, (which is the majority
of units in all those states).
And to the person who posted that the re-introduction (non-natural migration) required/caused humans to dislocate in order to provide suitable habitat for those wolves…what are you talking about?
I would argue that decision-makers (politicians) make policy, ie law, based on facts. Whether all facts are presented, or given equal weight is the issue. Some facts are ignored, or minimized. Decision-making for the greater good is even more difficult.
For example, looking over the time horizon of the last forty years, NEPA, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, FLPMA and especially the ESA ,were enacted based on factual inputs. Those facts generally were that, we as humans have done bad things to our environment. We have screwed up the water, the air, ecological balance by putting certain species on the threshhold of extinction (supported by scientific facts and observations) and need to take steps to correct the situation (morals and survival issues involved here – what is right and good). But balanced with that were the realities that we cannot as a society do all that may be required because of perceived economic consequences of following a path that is directed at a purist morality perceived by some.
I know I have left out alot in the paragraph above, but I think you get the picture. Facts are important. Emotion is sometime, driven by facts; at other times it is driven by values (what is right, what makes me happy, what makes me sad etc.)
And, Cris, I agree with how you began your discussion. So many people who post here could use a philosophy class. My first year of graduate school I took a class in formal logic – logic and scientific method, and it made me a better thinker.
I don’t believe either of us said, that there is a scientific need to hunt wolves. The hunt is a political need, based on political ideals.
the ethical/moral question is a bit diffusive at this point.
there is no grounded ethic upon which to depend for guidance, let alone a strategic approach to enfranchising wolves, with regard to a hunt as of yet.
without such a grounded ethic, without a rationale – the moral/ethical/emotive outcry is a giant fundraiser – and that’s just my opinion, having a bit of a cursory idea about what’s going on.
mostly, the wolf hunt seems to be felt most personally by the dog-lovers among us – which is good, and one must certainly look upon such compassion with respect and a hopeful sense of the world.
however, the outrage has not been as generally felt (or expressed) in response to wolves dying for reasons other than the hunt – say, livestock depredations. nor is it felt as widely or with as much amplification for other species which are subjected to the same, if not “worse”, all around us. this may be because of a lack of organization toward fomenting such a response among groups like Defenders, who have the long lists and the bank-roll to finance such response – or it may be because people are responding to the seemingly more arbitrary nature of a hunt. it might certainly be more comforting to believe that wolves that die after killing livestock somehow “deserve” it more than those who are just out there. Who knows ?
In either event – the narrative is moving toward an animal-rights perspective, which is interesting.
perhaps at some point i’ll give a best-effort allusion to some of the more developed/grounded environmental/animal ethic lines of thought as i understand them and share those (perhaps) rational arguments. but the bottom-line, it seems to me, is that people never needed a reason to care, to express compassion – it just needs to happen.
Unfortunately, as I see it, the emotive outcry ~ as currently projected at the hunt ~ has very little hope of accomplishing much in the way of preserving wolves. Advocates in this respect are aiming at a political institution(s) that do not share in this compassion, and the ESA is not a tool which will ever safe-guard that. It may give us another year – and perhaps we love dogs enough once wolves are recovered that we will give wolves a separate/new statutory safe-guard, but it is doubtful – with Western Dems pissing their pants at the prospect of any environmental safe-guard, a new one for wolves seems unlikely.
In this respect, it seems to me that working to emasculate Wildlife Services, to take away our federal contribution in tax-dollars & “public” servants to these arbitrary “controls” of wolves, and working to reclaim public land habitat for wolves via removal of public land ranching – are among the most promising prospects for saving wolves in the West.
Very Well Put…
I have heard of wolves feeding on or consuming hunter killed elk. I don’t know the facts of the matter or if wolves actually ate the game animal, but it wouldn’t surprise me that wolves would eat a game animal left on the ground overnight.
On numerous occasions I conducted necropsies on livestock killed by wolves only to have the wolves return in the night and eat the remaining flesh and hide with no concern about human scent or handling of the carcass, one reason why it is good to remove the dead livestock carcass if possible.
Unless hunters protect the elk, deer or moose carcass by hanging the quarters in a tree or some other creative method of keeping the carcass away from carnivores and other scavengers and keeping it cool, I expect wolves will eat it.
I also expect that a wolf or wolf pack that has been conditioned to avoid humans through hunting, trapping and other forms of lethal harassment may be more cautious than other wolves but still eat a big game carcass abandoned by hunters overnight. I think an adult wolf taught to fear humans will stay away from a dressed big game carcass, but wolf pups six months or older may follow their noses and appetites and eat anything that tastes good without regard to human scent or clothing items left nearby.
A small bit off topic, but I found this article interesting, concerning the hunting of predators…
So do the majority of humans, politicians have no corner on that market!
You’re right Save bears, I should not have specified politicians, it is the majority of humans.
Save bears, that is an interesting article. I can understand that some people do hunt for subsistence. I just question what that number really is and agree with the game farm analogy. I think the heart of the issue is aerial gunning or land and shoot. That is completely unethical and any true sportsman/sportswoman would not participate in that.
I don’t believe the majority of sportsman/woman participate in aerial gunning/hunting, but I did find it interesting, that they are reporting an increase in moose and caribou numbers because there is a decrease in predator numbers based on killing the wolves and bears…it basically is the exact opposite of what I have seen people say on this as well as other blogs..
And please don’t think in anyway shape or form I am endorsing anything, I just found it interesting, especially with the various posts and conversations on this blog..
Save bears, I am curious if it is an actual increase in numbers or if the moose and caribou are letting their guard down, sort of an opposite effect from what the elk and deer are doing in the Northern Rockies. I would also be curious as to how many wolves are being killed. If it is a huge amount then it would make sense that there is an increase since there wouldn’t be any predators, just like why Colorado has so many elk.
I am not assuming that you advocate aerial gunning or land and shoot hunting.
Save Bears, my question was meant to be rhetorical. I know neither you nor Cris stated that such science existed and didn’t mean to suggest you had.
I would like the state wildlife commissions to address it, though.
There seems to be a tacit assumption on the part of some game departments that an increase in ungulate numbers (moose and caribou in Alaska, for example) is a good thing. That may be the case in some places, and at some times, but how often? How do we decide when it’s appropriate to employ predator “control” measures? What about adverse effects on other parts of the ecosystem precipitated by a sudden decrease in predator numbers?
So much of what emerges from game departments seems on its face to treat predator-prey relationships in a vacuum, and to ignore the complexities of the larger system. (I’m not suggesting that the individual biologists working for the departments don’t understand the bigger picture–merely that by the time it gets translated into policy, the broader perspective gets lost.)
Maska….I’ve been asking the same question..”sort of” for the last 2 weeks and can’t seem to get anyone to answer. I’ve directed it to “Wilderness Muse” and Mark Gamblin(IDFG).
What IS the overall affect on the ecosystems when the top predators are taken out? What happens to the biodiversity..ie mesopredators, amphibians, raptors and other mammals such as beaver? Where are the studies and what followup studies do these agencies propose?
Also…what are the benefits to these ecosystems do elk provide, other than occasional carcasses? What is the importance of elk in an ecosystem, other than for hunting?
No Pro, its an acutal increase in numbers. I have been to the nelchina area and its mostly resident hunters in that area. Infact most of the area for many years was only allocated for tier 2 subsistence permits. The non resident take is really a non issue, as the numbers are very small in comparision to resident take in most units.
Who eats Alaska moose?:
Map control zones:
Pro Wolf said- “Save bears, that is an interesting article. I can understand that some people do hunt for subsistence. I just question what that number really is and agree with the game farm analogy. I think the heart of the issue is aerial gunning or land and shoot. That is completely unethical and any true sportsman/sportswoman would not participate in that.”
I lived in Alaska for a while and it is my understanding that it is illegal for hunters to shoot from a plane or land and shoot. (In the same day) I believe that by law if a hunter flies in that they have to wait until the next day to hunt. Of course this would not affect the government or poachers. The only folks legally shooting from planes or landing and shooting are the government shooters/trappers.
Smitty, there is aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska. I’m not sure if Pro Wolf was referring to that but I think they were.
I also was under the impression that it is not just government shooters who are shooting wolves from planes. Am I correct in this?
Always love a good propaganda peice, Who was the author?
Ken, I was referring to aerial gunning,t he kind that Palin endorsed. I was not sure what the laws were. I had read that hunters could not fly and shoot the same day but would question how enforceable that is.
“only to have the wolves return in the night and eat the remaining flesh and hide”
Carter, that seems to poke holes in the idea that wolves only kill for sport.
“The only folks legally shooting from planes or landing and shooting are the government shooters/trappers.”
To get around laws that the people passed, the government simply designated hunters as, basically, volunteer predator control agents. That allows private citizens to use aerial gunning for wolves.
jerryB – I responded a couple of times in previous threads.
“What IS the overall affect on the ecosystems when the top predators are taken out? What happens to the biodiversity..ie mesopredators, amphibians, raptors and other mammals such as beaver? Where are the studies and what followup studies do these agencies propose?
Also…what are the benefits to these ecosystems do elk provide, other than occasional carcasses? What is the importance of elk in an ecosystem, other than for hunting?”
Euphamistically and seriously – that’s a very good question. If all top predators are removed from ecosystems, a predictable outcome is an initial unregulated increase in prey abundance with ripple effects of prey exploitation of their resource base. Trophic Cascade is the popular term for the effects of removal or replacement of top predators from an ecosystem. There is evidence that replacement of wolves as a top predator in YNP, resulted in apparent trophic cascade effects on vegetation communities in riparian and upland habitat. Trophic Cascade theory has it’s origins in classic fish ecology theory and has been debated for years inside and outside of peer reviewed publications. There is broad agreement that trophic cascade effects do occur with ebb and flow of top predator population dynamics, but applying the theory to predict outcomes of changes in predator populations is not straightforward. For example – there have been several comments on this blog that restoration of wolves to Idaho will result in trophic cascade induced ecosystem benefits, similar to those believed to have occured in YNP. The common example being improved riparian habitat health resulting from wolf predation of elk. Other than a small sliver of the state, Idaho is not YNP. Elk and other large native unglulates in Idaho have long been regulated by THE top predator – humans. The return of wolves to our landscape is changing elk numbers and behavior, but the likihood that we will notice or be able to measure trophic cascade effects on Idaho ecosystem resources – due to the restored presence of wolves – is unknown.
Likewise – “what are the ecosystem benefits of elk, other than providing prey for human hunters?” – good question. For a start they are a crucial resource for other top predators – lions, bears and wolves. Winter kill elk provide sustenance for wolverines, coyotes, fox, ravens, eagles etc. Nutrient cycling is mediated/driven to some degree by all members of an ecosystem, but large ungulates like elk, moose, deer etc. play a large role in moving nutrients not to mention seeds and a host of other ecosystem parts throughout the whole. Those are commonly understood principles, should be familiar to most readers of this thread. Is there a specific point you are working to?
I’m concerned that the goal of a balanced ecosystem has been lost in the rush to kill wolves at all costs just to protect elk and elk hunting. It is frustrating to question agency people with questions about the affect of removing wolves, lions or bears and have them actually say that there should be studies pre-removal and post removal of predators to determine how all biodiversity (trophic cascade affect) will be affected. Course, they always comment “off the record”.
Maybe you can explain why Minnesota agencies believe that educational outreach and scientific studies are so important, that they’re waiting at least 5 years for any type of hunt. They also have 3,000 wolves and more cows than either Idaho or Montana.
There seems to be a stark difference between what appears to be a progressive thinking wildlife agency in Minnesota as compared to Montana or Idaho.
Maybe you can explain why Minnesota agencies believe that educational outreach and scientific studies are so important, that they’re waiting at least 5 years for any type of hunt. They also have 3,000 wolves and more cows than either Idaho or Montana.
There seems to be a stark difference between what appears to be a progressive thinking wildlife agency in Minnesota as compared to Montana or Idaho.
Jerry B, I am also curious about those points.
Did the agencies choose to wait or were the pursuaded by certain pro-wolf organizations through a law-suit that they needed to wait.. I thought that Minn. did delist, and had a hunt structure put in place, then they were sued to put them back on. It makes you wonder that even with 3000 wolves in MN pro-wolf groups are still pushing ESA protections. Leaves lttle hope for the Rockies…. Also the wolves have plenty to eat in MN, like some odd 1.5 million deer. So I dont think that they are dealing with the same situations that ID and MT are. JMO
there is a stark difference. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming operate under undue influence of the livestock industry
Also as J Sutherland pointed, out a stark difference in prey base reproduction and numbers.
jerryB – I can’t speak for the Minnesota DNR. Their wolf management issues are indeed different from Idaho, Montana or Wyoming issues – socially and biologically. Your question may go partly to the question “why/how do wolves NEED to be managed?”. There is an identified social desire (need) in western states to balance wolf numbers and their predation effects on public wildlife and private property. Idaho wolves are thriving and will continue to thrive with or without wolf hunting. Every wildlife management objective and program is ultimately for the benefit of the human society that establishes those programs. Diverse societal needs, desires, expectations result in diverse wildlife management policies and programs.
I understand there is aerial shooting of wolves in Alaska. I dont consider this hunting and it is an activity that only government agents can particpate in. Private parties that are appointed by the state are agents of the state and thus government shooters/trappers. If the average Joe Hunter did this activity it would be poaching. My question is, in this respect is Alaska any different than Idaho?
I’m certain the money collected from the wolf tags will help with management. To date I’ve read that most of the money for wold management has come from sportsmens tags for other animals. Is that true Mark.
jeff E…….I agree and it’s the consensus of most who want the wolf to get an even break, that it’s the livestock industry that calls the shots when it comes to wildlife management…even more so than the outfitters.
Mark…you state that wolf management issues are different in Idaho and Montana compared to Minnesota. Please explain.
Also if there’s a social desire to balance wolf numbers because of their effects on public wildlife and private property…How is that different from Minnesota?
And if it’s that complex, why not wait at least a couple of years and do some outreach and damage control so that we don’t have such a polarized society? That happens to be one of the reasons that Minnesota arrived at a 5 year wait…to educate and work with the various stakeholders.
Mark……..Just want to say that I sincerely appreciate getting your insight and having you comment here. I only wish that you had a counterpart here in Montana that was willing to do the same.
jerryB, Pro and Josh,
Let me take a crack at the question posed to Mark. And my apologies to Mark if I am stepping in where I should not. And, somebody please correct me if I am wrong here.
It was my understanding MN stated in the body of its adopted plan from February 2001, that they would commit to a five year public education/science program following delisting, and before a hunt would be considered. Here are their words, written in legalese akin to a regulation. From MN Wolf Management Plan p. 21:
Population management activities — Population management measures, including
public taking (i.e., hunting and trapping seasons) or other options, will be considered by
DNR in the future but not sooner than 5 years after Federal delisting by USFWS. If, in the
future, public taking is proposed by DNR, there will be opportunity for full public
comment. Decisions on public taking will be based on sound biological data, including
comprehensive population surveys.” http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/natural_resources/animals/mammals/wolves/wolfplan2000.pdf
This is a BINDING legal committment. Delisting date is uncertain for them as the Great Lakes wolves are still in a public comment period after the DC Circuit suit, and subsequent litigation with a quick settlement committing USFWS to a public comment period on the delisting rule. Litigation will no doubt follow.
Recall MN has been in the wolf expansion game since the late 1970’s, and with their latest approved plan in 2001 (Sorry I don’t know if there were earlier versions).
The individual NRM state plans – ID, MT and WY were reviewed and approved in the last three years or so. They entertained planning documents with more flexiblility (dare I say wiith better lawyering input than MN), and were maybe even were smarter in developing the content of their plans [WY, of course, is the exception because they got cute with their Predator Zone], plus the 10(j) status of the ID and WY wolves gives also gives more flexibility if it holds up in court.
What amazes me in the MN plan is that they would lock into an arbitrary and uncertain date plus five years. If, however, they find the present plan unworkable, I guess they could seek an amendment, and revisit their 5 year lock.
And then, of course, there are those pesky elk populations the NRM wants to keep at high levels, and the open range grazing which is not present in the Great Lakes states.
“What amazes me in the MN plan is that they would lock into an arbitrary and uncertain date plus five years. If, however, they find the present plan unworkable, I guess they could seek an amendment, and revisit their 5 year lock.”
Minnesota never completely eliminated wolves. Thus, generations of Minnesotans have lived with wolves and grown accustomed to their presence; I lived in MN for three years and never witnessed the kind of fear and hatred that pervade the western issue. Moreover, wolf populations in MN have largely stabilized in the past decade with very little range expansion, so there is no talk of wolves being “out of control” nor any “need” to be managed.
As I’m sure you know, the ESA requires population monitoring 5 years post-delisting. I think Minnesota played the issue very smartly; by taking the most conservative approach (i.e. no hunting or trapping during the 5-year monitoring period) they have made the strongest commitment possible to ensuring the viability of wolves. This stance insulates them from the kind of accusations that have plagued Wyoming, Idaho and to a much lesser extent, Montana.
Of course, MN isn’t saddled with a rabidly anti-wolf legislature, either.
From the “Missoulian”
Montana should look to Minnesota for wolf tips
Guest column | Posted: Monday, September 14, 2009 8:05 am | (11) Comments
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Three of Montana’s conservation groups recently sponsored a showing of the new Greenfire documentary “Lords of Nature” at the Roxy, followed by a two-hour panel discussion that included Montana’s wolf coordinator, Carolyn Sime. The evening served to put in perspective the current controversy over the wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho, which was the subject of a court hearing just a few days earlier. As the Montana director for one of the plaintiffs in that suit, it seems to me that this element of perspective is sorely lacking from Montana’s plans to manage wolves.
The state of Minnesota is about half the size of Montana, and currently has three times as many wolves. It also has 5.5 times as many humans, half a million hunters and derives 3.6 times as much income from livestock. It also has a lot more experience dealing with wolves than Montana does, as their population was never exterminated. So you might wonder, what have our wolf managers learned from Minnesota’s? Apparently, not much. The contrast in attitudes between Minnesota’s hunters, ranchers and wolf managers and our own is striking. Ranchers there have learned to live with wolves, taking all necessary steps to minimize depredation. Hunters there recognize that wolves make elk and deer more difficult to find, but respond by simply becoming “better hunters.” Nobody seems to hate wolves for doing what wolves do in Minnesota.
And Minnesota’s wolf managers? They’re committed to a five-year public outreach process once their wolves are delisted by the feds to determine if and how to conduct a wolf hunt. When Sime was asked why Montana and Idaho are in such a rush to kill wolves that the whole point of delisting seems to be to get on with the hunt, her response was that the landscape is different here. While that may be true of our political landscape, our larger, less populated landscape would seem to cut against her argument. In court, Montana emphasized that tolerance and acceptance of wolves was a crucial element of wolf management. But when Sime was asked what portion of her budget was devoted to public education and outreach, her response was evasive. This may explain why so many of our hunters are convinced that wolves are decimating elk populations, while the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation reveals populations are stable.
There are legitimate concerns over whether Montana can have a controlled hunt in an environment of misinformation and irrational animosity toward wolves. Assuming that trophy killing of a recovering species is justified in the first place, our wildlife managers must lay the proper groundwork for such a hunt. That includes changing prevailing attitudes so that wolves are respected for their critical role in our shared natural environment. Did you know that without wolves and cougars, trout streams lose the streamside vegetation they need to prosper?
Montana also emphasized in court that “all species fit together,” the wolf was an “integral part” of the ecosystem, and thus wildlife management must include them. If that is true, how can Montana pretend to manage wolves in an integrated wildlife approach while simultaneously excluding one of their principal prey species, the bison? This clearly illustrates the hypocrisy and short-sightedness of Montana’s position on wolves.
If we were truly interested in taking an ecosystem approach to managing wolves, we would allow bison to re-colonize public wildlands up and down the front range and into eastern Montana, which in turn would reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock. And according to recent scientific studies by independent experts, wild bison present almost no risk whatsoever of transmitting brucellosis to livestock. So this kind of balanced wildlife management approach is timely. When asked about this, Sime observed that there seemed to be a lot of “opinion” in the question, though it was posed carefully in terms of conservation biology. Apparently, in Montana the very word “bison” is opinionated.
Montana has a long way to go before we are ready to manage wolves like grown-ups. We could start by listening to our elders in Minnesota.
Every species has controls within its populations to regulate itself …in order to maintain ecological sustainability without the benefit of predators, thank you maaam.. But the key to this is well developed infrastructure within that species…in this case the ungulate, elk.
The “damage” to Yellowstone’s Northern range by elk without predators I’d say happened because a lot of those elk would migrate out and the killing off of animals needed for balance in roles of those extended elk families…caused for very dysfunctional systems….one where elk in the northern range was always in a state of turmoil.
Compare this herd with the totally resident 300 head elk herd in the delta area of Yellowstone’s Lake Se arm. Roles and infrastructure all intact and where one sees those families pushing the “rejects” to the outside. Vegetation in its core winer range is still intact.
Yes, it would be nice to have predators around to pick off these outcasts but they will die anyway without herd support. Well infrastructured families of bison do the same thing. Hell, they all do it. Species have to have the ability to do it on their own otherwise they would not be a species.
It is man, and in this case, Idaho F&G and Montana G&F and Wyoming F&G…as well as every state in the country…and their biologists and administrators who set seasons with only the consideration of population densities and “multiples of individuals” determined for carrying capacity of the land that guarentees the importance of man as supposed much needed management of wildlife.
The management of big game and their “predators”, I feel, is carried out to unwittingly sustain the lowest level of species evolutionary survivability. I se no difference in game management than agricultures cattle production ….where production is based on a species again kept at the lowest level allowed for a species to keep a beating heart.
Agribusiness and game management have a lot in common. Actions and reactions for both are all symptom management.
That being the case, I don’t single you out for this “abuse”. It is endemic in all of superior related cultures and academia and its emphasis on superiority of individuals (ie. grades), as compared to superiority of groups,units, families etc. will perpetuate a science that has no way of understanding the actions needed for us to live with other species.
There is no top predator. There are just species eating each other. Science’s predators fall and then bacteria eat them…. except humans put in airtight caskets….and even then eventually the materials making the casket deteriorate and it all starts again. Top predator classification is so elitist and just another example of Aryan style superior thinking of our own species. On the ground it keeps biologists from setting game species seasons similar to the way indians hunted…families killing families so infrastructure is maintained in both species.
Be warned, if you believe or repeat any of what I am saying you will be an outcast within your division. Or you can stick with your G&F “groups” mode of operation.
But the beauty of well infrastructured family life means they all have homes and these homes they defend as territories. The “group” best able to survive, the one with the best evotion for that time…will be the one to outcompete the other family or “group”. So you can stick with your peer group and probably make it through your entire professional life being as some would say “fat, dumb and happy” (quote from Dean Vernon Wormer to Flounder of Animal House”.). But someday your present group will die away. It will lose out to a group that doesn’t think the world is flat …. or that humans are the top predator Aryan species. Such is life..or the lack of it.
I agree with you regarding the angst which seems to exist in the West, some certainly unjustified. There are also unknowns which seem to be worthy of a cautious approach. And, yes I agree the post delisting ESA obligation is the source for the 5 year timeframe.
It is also important to note, as you well know, that MN was at the forefront of the wolf movement, with the involvement of notable key scientists who remain highly visible in the NRM reintroduction. Dr. Mech, and the folks at Isle Royale, as well as Ed Bangs, who cut his teeth in AK. I found an interesting, but somewhat dated, study that addresses some of the comparison issues that we have been touching on –
What is different about the West and the Great Lakes reintroductions? Here is a MN specific study which kind of sets the stage for this dialog.
It is important to put the material below in context, as it is several years old (research 1976-86), a lifetime in the science of reintroduction. I suspect there is an update somewhere, but I have not looked for it. The material is important for its insight.
” Important differences exist between northern Minnesota and other areas in the United States where wolf populations might be recovered. These differences occur in vegetation, terrain, size of ranches, animal husbandry practices, abundance and distribution of the wolf’s natural prey and, potentially, in wolf behavior associated with learned avoidance of humans and livestock production areas. Conditions in Minnesota differ from those in the West by having (1) denser vegetation, (2) less-rugged (relatively flat) terrain, (3) smaller ranches, (4) more-controlled calving (although there is little control at some Minnesota operations), (5) fairly stable and nonmigratory natural prey populations, (6) virtually no grazing on public land, and (7) a long history of wolf-human interaction. These factors might suggest a higher rate of depredations outside Minnesota. Early observations of wolf recovery in Montana suggest that wolf-livestock contact may be induced by uneven terrain; wolves tend to use river valleys that support wintering ungulates or high year-round densities of ungulates in areas where livestock are most concentrated (E. E. Bangs, J. Fontaine, and S. H. Fritts, unpublished data).
As cited in:
Fritts, Steven H., William J. Paul, L. David Mech, and David P. Scott. 1992. Trends and management of wolf-livestock conflicts in Minnesota. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Publication 181. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
The report is definitely worth a read. No doubt there is an update of sorts somewhere.
Unfortunately, there is no specific comparitive mention of prey density. Additionally, the MN wolf population at the time of this paper was about 1,200, the number of cattle between 200-300 thousand, more highly concentrated than in the West, within wolf inhabited zones, not so many sheep, but lots of farmed turkeys which seem to be a favorite.
The discussion of wolf population for the study area is cryptic, but alludes to the fact that “Although the over all population seemed to be generally stable, with essentially all habitat filled, our observations suggested that some increase may have occurred in the western part of the range….” Of course, the MN wolf population is triple that population now, with some range expansion, and does now appear to be stable at the 3,000 number. Will that always be so?
During the 10 year study period 437 wolves were captured in foot traps and 262 were destroyed, a sign that there was a fairly intensive control effort in place, in a fairly small area.
It is probably not good to draw too much from this report, but it is a reference point that I had not previously seen on Ralph’s blogs.
As you probably know there is a law on the books that authorizes the state of Idaho to use aerial gunning of wolves, (the exact language say’s carnivores I believe).
My question is; Is the state currently engaged in training for this activity.
I would guess that the training in place used for Coyote control would be sufficient.
As they have used aerial gunning before, I don’t think there would be any new training in place.
I was referring to a state only operation as opposed to what is now being done by the feds WS. I did not know if the there was a state only operation in place or if it will be a “future state”
There were also efforts to bypass wilderness regulations so that wolves may be darted and collared during elk surveys in the wilderness. I’m guessing there are ongoing efforts judging by comments made at commissioner’s meeting last year.
Also, there was an incident involving a private individual in a para-glider shooting at wolves.
JeffE – No. There are no state efforts to shoot coyotes or wolves from the air. I am not aware of any past state efforts to shoot predators from the air.
jerryB – the management issues in Minnesota are different from Idaho’s by not having the wolf-elk interactions we experience; Minnesota’s livestock industry is quite different that Idaho’s (public lands grazing being a big difference; public attitudes and values towards wolves are a few differences. I’m sure there are more. My point about differences is simply that wildlife management encompases a host of biological and social opportunities, constraints, desires. Any two states will significantly differ in their wildlife management dynamic. Minnesota certainly has a different suite of social and biological issues to manage than any of the western states do and vice versa,
……and I’d have to add a real big bigge…..the wolves of Minnesota have a lot more infrastructure in their packs. Start busting this up with hunts and you end up with dysfunctional wolves …and more livestock depradations etc.
Look at any indigenous peoples with this kind of disruption of social order and you can predict when you do ithis with wolves. The wolves of Idaho, though in pack formation, are still embryonic when compared to Minnesota’s ancestoral pack and geographic infrastructure. they need nurturing not aggression at this stage.
What will be the states preferred method of reducing the number of wolves down to whatever number is arbitrarily deemed acceptable? I believe that the general hunt is pretty well recognized as unlikely to achieve that number and is more of a show to sooth the hunting communities whereas the serious killing will take place behind the scenes with little fanfare and quite likely involve active discouragement for anyone wanting a closer look at it.
I don’t think Idaho really cares that much Bob. Hate to say that, but from what I see its not about the wolves and their health. You (bob) know much more than I do but it looks like to me the same old hunting/conservationist concept applied to wolves. Like making all species fit into the same box. Which they don’t.
Caroline Sime (MT representative but state representative nonetheless) stated that it is about mgmt. ie “they need to be controlled” which is on tape from the “lords of nature” movie in Missoula. why?
Mark…..OK then. But, I’m still asking WHY not delay a hunt for a few years to iron out these differences of biological and social constraints and desires.
Aren’t public attitudes and public opinion worth anything?
Why the rush to kill wolves as soon as they were delisted without at least attempting to resolve these issues beforehand.
Someday, and IT WILL HAPPEN, the livestock industry and it’s puppets on game commissions and in state government, including our governors, will no longer be in a position to dictate wildlife management.
Times are a changing..demographics are changing, and more and more people care about wildlife than they do cows or sheep.
The sooner, the better.
yes I agree as to Idaho’s reason for “controlling wolves”. What I was trying to let Mark know is that population and depradation control of wolves actually means allowing them stabilization of infrastructure. the wolves are just a bunch of kids right now and there are not ancestoral elders in place to control family and territory. Just like the USA was a “new” country with lots of influx of immigrants it took time for “civilization” to filter out the gangs of NY and the rowdies of the “wild west”.
Disrupt now and one just perpetuates happenings such as a dysfunctional gang of wolves killing 120 sheep. thus the wolf reintroduction will look like a lost cause and then justify their elimination again…all because man is so myopic.
One actually needs more to stabilize for less. I know, it makes some of G&F necks turn a bit cockeyed but a lot of times the answer is once removed from direct cause and effect.
If there is reductions it should be to eliminate whole packs and athus allow further ancestoral infrastructure development of remaining intact packs.
Underlying this all is the inability for game management folks to say that wolf “management” just means killing wolves, period. Other types of game management involve many different activities.
WM: Thanks for the link. I read this while working on my M.S., but it is definitely worth another read (not sure if it has been updated).
There are clearly many differences between MN and ID, WY, and MT, both ecological and social in nature. I can’t support this with any data, but I would argue the most meaningful differences are social. Wolves in the West have become a pawn in the cultural war. It’s too bad that so much symbolism has been heaped upon this species; it would be great to just let wolves be wolves.
Wilderness Muse, I did not know that Minnesota had an education campaign like that. That would be a huge benefit. I also forgot to acknowledge that Minnesota does not have the open range grazing.
Mark, has Idaho ever entertained the idea of an education campaign about wolves? I know Wyoming has not done that (the predator zone being a prime example. )
Bob, why would Minnesota wolf pack structures be any different from those in the Northern Rockies?
No different, same species just a lot more “advanced”. Compare a start up embryonic immigrant settler family on a farm in the midwest. Then jump forward with an infrastructure developed over 150 years with the same family heirs running it. There was so much they didn’t know at first. The info of operation is passed on from generation to generation and the family itself has the support from those in the family now dead.
Thus each generation of wolves knows more than their ancestors…as long as they haven’t been disrupted or fragmented to the point of no return. Those in idaho and Yellowstone have few generations of info passing on compared to those in minnesota. The info never left those in Minnesota. They were ancestoral to the area…compared to the Idaho and Yellowstone ones.
Again there cis no comparison between infratructure of Minnesotas wolves and those introduced out West. It is like kindergardners compared to post grad. It is like night and day….or a Lord of the Flies situation almost in idaho wolves. The ones in Minn. have CULTURE and the ones in Idaho do not!!! That is why they need to be “nursed” with infrastructure needs in mind till this culture can develop. Then there were be similar depradation (less) of livestock, for one. END of STORY. Of course i do not believe any of this will be allowed to happen. The only infrastructure will be from packs that can keep some kind of generational info passed on…and still be able to stay in the same home…. Something that will be very hard to do in the “social atmosphere” Mark uses as an escape hatch for the present policies in Idaho Game and Fish.
I think all the Western states with wolves should have been looking to the model used in Minnesota. I did not know there was that much education being funded and focused there.
I guess I can not go along with the supposed differences in the two areas…at least not the arguments used to support this Wolf “hunt”. Public versus private grazing doesn’t cut it. This argument oozes of people assimilating such things as property rights etc. A wolf doesn’t care if a cow is on one side of the fence or not. I doubt a rancher with both private and public grazing in wolf country thinks there is much difference either.
What I see happening is Idaho G&F in trying to point out the differences is going to be caught in a double speak. A lawyer would have them sqirming on the stand. But even calling this a hunt as Ralph points out is just a front. Maybe Idaho “misspoke”.
Bob, shouldn’t the wolves in the Northern Rockies still have had the same genes passed on since they were wild in Canada when they were captured? I can see this argument with the Mexican wolves and red wolves.
Yes, same genes, but it is something more than INSTINCT we are talking here. It is called CULTURE and culture is the working part of gene expression. Kinda liKe, “Be all that you can be” of the marine commercials. the marines thing they can teach you something and it doesn’t start with that years first year drill instructor.
Anybody can carry a gun, but it takes a lot of training to be a soldier. but it doesn’t end here. The soldier is an extention of all those battles before as studied in all those war colleges.
Military is probably one of the best examples of where genes allow a person to pass the tests to be enlisted in the service, but it is all the infrastructure of ancestoral training that seperates the 14 year old boys carrying guns in Somalia and those in the USA. Thus the wolves of Idaho would compare to those African boys with no training. The wolves of Minnesota might be likened to the Irish Republican Army and the wolves of pre Whiteman would compare with the best army of the world…whatever that is in history…maybe Ghengis Kahn?
Could you be a little more specific about what you mean when you say the wolves of Minn have “culture”? Culture has generally been regarded as a human construct that is handed down from generation to generation through traditions and institutions – not anything to do with gene expression. There are some animal behaviorists who posit that some monkeys/whales exhibit what they refer to as an “animal culture” WITHIN small groups. This is far from established however. Adaptive, learned behavior is very different from “cultural learning”.
Would you say the infrastructure of wolves of Minn differ from those in Wisc? Mich?
Culture by definition can be seen/observed…..In what ways does the “culture” of Minn wolves differ (which in itself could hardly be considered a small group)?
Not trying to be argumentative…I just have a hard time conceptualizing what specifically you mean by ‘animal culture’ when you use human examples to explain it.
I am on Utah States Range Science BEHAVE committee (look it up on the iternet if you want. I am one of the ones they talk about in their NRCS book, a book to go to every NRCS district in the US of A) . Well before I became a part of this they were referring to animals with culture. I’d say if agri boys are doing it then who are we to say animals not so “domesticated” can’t have “culture”?
Got a bit more time to respond now.
I see most people thinking of “culture” as those having it ….as those being superior to others. To use human analogies again; I’d say you think the French have culture…especially in the rual areas where they stomp on grapes and make big festivals out of it…with all that french bread, wine and weird, soft caps those guys wear.
I’d also say you would think the folks of
New Orleans having more culture than those people living in the suburbs of a fast growing suburb of LA, correct? you would also say the South with all those Klu Klux Klan gatherings, such as seen on the Cohen Brothers Oh Brother movie had culture, right?
But even though you trhink quaint culture is less developed in LA suburbs you still know those people are part of a larger culture that defines US of A living.
Lets say its a family of Australia’s Bushmen or includes that isolated family of Sheepeaters in their brush lodge …as seen in the photo taken by explorers of Yellowstone. Not much culture there, huh? Even though they have distinctive clothing that would be no different than the peasants of France or the bright clothing and beads of those living in the French Quarter of New Orleans?
Families of savages off by themselves? Not much culture …but potential.
The point I am making is “culture” is defined in levels of “higher” when it is closest to what we and our surroundings identify with.
Put those savages in a pow wow and it looks closer to what we like to think of as people who gather together for like kind cultural beginnings. Put a bunch of Bushmen together with all those horns blaring and we have some culture, right…especially if there is more than a hundred together.
Now you put a million buffalo together and there is all kinds of activity going on and you still see just a mass of animals, right?
I Would say it is our inability to see others outside our environs that shows the prejudices that define our own little world. At each step further from us it takes more proof of them having higher culture like us. Savages can never have as advanced culture can they? Now put a bunch of temples together in the Andes or Pre Mexico and throw in a bit of human sacrifice…or slay a lamb on the alter and then we have higher culture? More than those isolated families of Sheep Eaters or even more remote…a single pack of wolves? if we don’t understand how this family associates with like kind same extended family packs then we don’t have a chance…especially if we don’t see them tooting horns or getting down boggying on that dance floor.
Indigenous hunters thought of animals as their brothers. Do you think they were talking in terms of endearment or did they actually think of them as themselves? Without including knowledge of “culture” in these animals there could have ben no equality of attitude. Thus, I’d have to think anyone who thinks of themselves as superior to “subhumans” or animals has little chance of gaining the knowledge of those sub humans or animals. Thus, again, there is no chance for even thinking of others having culture is there?
Monkeys, of course, come from our beginnings as humans, right, thus we can not entirely exclude them from having some rudimentary form of culture?