Fish and Game director wants expanded wolf hunting

Trapping of wolves may begin in Idaho next year.

Unsurprisingly, Cal Groen wants more wolves to be killed in the Lolo Zone and other places. Trapping is also being considered for next year.

Fish and Game director wants expanded wolf hunting
Associated Press



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  1. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Why do I get the feeling that even if wolves are ordered relisted the feds will just find a way to ignore the ruling?

  2. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    As has been stated many times over the last year, re-listing will have very little effect on the agencies involved in killing wolves. All re-listing will do is stop the hunt, but WS will still kill, especially since 10(j) has not be overturned and it seems as if little focus on what the true problem is.

    Now I am starting to see an upswing in many hunters who are tired of this as well, Montana has cut hunting quotas in region number one, no more doe hunting for a while, and the hunting community is blaming it squarely on wolves.

    I see nothing but a bigger and bigger rift between the opposing parties….and no real end in sight…unfortunately.

    The environmental groups in my opinion have focused their resources on the wrong issues concerning wolves….

    1. jimt Avatar

      Really? Let hunters kill wolves AND deal with Wildlife Servicesand the ranchers killing as well? And Trapping?

      Again, the hint that the enviros are the ones who are unwilling to compromise while the anti-wolf side gets more radical, more determined to kill the wolf off again.

  3. Mike Avatar

    You have to be kidding me. Trapping wolves? That has to be a wonderful tool for taking out wolverine and lynx too.


  4. spanglelakes Avatar

    The state of Idaho detests wolves so much, that IDFG will stop at nothing to kill them, inc. allowing traps and snares by hunters, and letting Wildlife Services kill entire packs. Everyone who gives a damn about wolves needs to be calling IDFG, the governor’s office and IDFG Commissioners to protest. Next up – gassing wolf pups in their den this Spring, after their mom and the rest of the pack has been gunned down by Wildlife Services’ wolf killing air squadron.

  5. spanglelakes Avatar

    Mike – snares are allowed as well as traps, and these horrible devices kill non-target species including wolverines, lynx, deer, domestic dogs. Of course, trappers don’t report any of this. Snares are attached to bridges and along trails, and IDFG looks the other way. A wolf was just killed by a snare in Idaho and what the hell, not a big deal. Two other wolves shot by hunters had snares around their necks, wolves that were dying a slow choking death. Stray dogs are treated better in Idaho than wolves.

  6. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    So much for treating wolves like valuable game animals. What happened to all of those eager hunters that bought wolf tags? Can’t find the wolves while driving an ATV?
    It is 100 years since the huge forest fires that got the elk population started in northern Idaho. The forest has closed in so much, that the elk population would have gone down without the wolves. The area needs to burn again.
    Wolf populations will start going down in Idaho just as they have in Yellowstone. The IDFG needs to get off of the destroy the wolves program and let nature take its course.

    1. dave Avatar

      Looks like you aren’t the only one thinking this might just happen:

  7. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Larry, fish and game sees wolves as vermin and nothing more. They like to eat what people like to shoot. It’s like I have mentioned before, I cannot comprehend why Idaho spends so much time and energy into hating wolves. It really shows some messed up priorities.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I went to the Frank Church for four days, and get back and it’s 1910 instead of 2010. Did I step into a parallel universe?

    1. jimt Avatar

      No, just same old story, different characters. We could use Gifford Pinchot and John Muir, however…;*) and some one like TR with some cajones to take on landed interests….

  9. Mike Avatar

    ++ A wolf was just killed by a snare in Idaho and what the hell, not a big deal. Two other wolves shot by hunters had snares around their necks, wolves that were dying a slow choking death. Stray dogs are treated better in Idaho than wolves.++

    Wow. There are some very sick people in that state. I’m guessing the intelligent people aren’t really breeding. Unfortunately, Illinois has a ridiculous response to wildlife as well(see their non-protection of cougars).

    Eventually mankind has to evolve from these ridiculous behaviors. Yo uwould think so anyway.

    The wolf to me seems to be something they can take their hate mongering garbage out on – whether it be gays, big goverment or U.N conspiracies.

  10. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I honestly don’t believe the intelligent people breeding have anything to do with the ingrained hate of wolves by many in the ranching community and frankly I find the continued references to intelligence and hicks, to really be getting old.

    Culture has nothing to do with intelligence, your talking generations of teachings going on here, I would say it is on the same level as some religions practice within their own communities. Just because your taught wrong ideals has nothing to do with your intelligence.

    To focus on a animal or another race of humans as your point of hate, disgust, etc. is nothing new and has been practiced for thousands of years, hate is taught, your not born with if you can be taught hate, you can be taught respect and understanding as well, which is why it is so important to focus where you have the best chance of teaching ideals that support wildlife and that is the next generations..

    1. jimt Avatar

      Right, focus on the next generation..and have to go through this all over again because the current generation will have killed off, or marginalized populations so much that they can’t survive. Good plan, there.

  11. mikarooni Avatar

    Idaho needs to be “decertified” as a state and the territory needs to be assigned to the State of Washington to be governed as a “failed state” protectorate.

    1. Talks with Bears Avatar
      Talks with Bears

      Mikarooni – you and Mike need to get together a cohesive plan to “decertify” certain states that you find unacceptable. Mike can handle the politics of winning the hearts and minds of the citizens by calling them names and you can show the way forward with your powerful legal mind.

  12. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    After staying in WA over the last five months, I can’t say I would want WA running anything! They are having more problems with listening to the residents than just about any other state in the nation right now! Voters pass laws, and legislatures override or suspend them, so you think they would be better?

    1. jimt Avatar

      Yeah…much less of a history of being controlled by ranchers and game industry. Salmon…and power..those issues, a different story. Logging used to be more powerful than it is currently, but that is because they cut everything.

  13. mikarooni Avatar

    I think even Mugabe would be an improvement.

  14. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Well that is taking it to an extreme!!!!

  15. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    So in central Idaho everyone was catching steelhead, plenty happy; Fish and Game officers checking but very pleasant; wolves howling at night, no one upset; getting close to 65, but my aches and pains seemed to disappear.

    The new GPS unit on my camera worked great!

    I like to think that reality will be there long after all these a–holes and jerks have turned into sediment.

    1. Elk275 Avatar


      Where are you fishing over in Idaho? I have been twice. The first time they would not sell me a license. Why? The gas station attendant at North Fork did not know how to override some computer glich. Then last year I did not catch one. I will be going towards the end of the month.

  16. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Try some buffalo broth for those aches and pains. Thats what the mountain man beaver trappers used to get rid of those cold water numbing joint pains. They’d drink 4-6 bowls a day. I must say you won’t need glucosamine and the buffalo broth has a lot more nutrition in it, also.

    Save Bears,

    I agree with you when you talk of intelligence and culture. The more dysfunctional (lack of social family order) our human civilization becomes the more individual traits …such as a persons intelligence….are wrongfully highlighted.

    Any individual, no matter how skilled or big brained, is severly limited compared to how any blood related group can perform. And if the family tree doesn’t fork then those types of extended families will not be competitive compared to those families with lots of branches. Simple as that.

    I have always thought todays guides to excellence, ability to achieve good grades or be a brain doctor, can not sustain itself in any civilization. Now if one person has a big brain in an extended blood family it is helpful….but no more so than the big brother who has an instinct well adapted to maintain whole family cohesiveness. Or add to this the low IQ offspring who can fetch a pail of water…and enjoys doing so…..better than any pail fetcher with a higher IQ but doesn’t enjoy it, from other competing family groups.

    As I have said before only in blood families, herds or packs can an individual of those groups pass on its genetics without ever producing an offspring itself. I have repeated this to way too many academics who don’t get it…probably because all they see is themselves as the one entity who “excelled”.

  17. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Hows the currently strategy working out for you? Are we really progressing or are we regressing? You have more hate out there than ever before, you have lawsuits being thrown let and right, you have people taking up arms and some are illegally killing wolves. The next generation is already being taught the hate, why is it such a bad idea to counter with good information?

    Target the problem where it is, Wildlife Services, teach the upcoming generations the science and respect.

    All I know, based on my experience working in the wildlife field that the current plan is failing, with the current strategies the only thing happening is the line is the sand is getting bigger, re-listing the wolves will not stop the killing, in fact in my opinion it will do nothing but increase the killing…

    1. jimt Avatar

      Ok, Save Bears and Talks with Bears….let’s say everything else in this equation stays the same, but Wildlife Services is either out of the picture entirely or severely limited by ESA considerations.

      You REALLY think that the pressure and the hatred coming from the ranching power centers, the trophy and outfitters and other elk-dependent industries…you think that would stop if…What? Wildlife Services is a tool of these folks, as are the FG agencies, the state legislators in these Western states. Take that tool away, and they would just find another. They are convinced they have a God-given right to use public lands to make a living based on welfare handouts, and damn anyone or anything that threatens that “sacred history of the West”. Please.

      I think you don’t get it despite your backgrounds. This is about emotional hatred, a deep seated belief in the right to be wolf free, and have cows rule. Period. Any other chacterization is ignoring the reality right under your noses.

      And you implicitly blame the enviros for being stubborn, for bringing lawsuits when the laws and regs are being violated by these interests? What are the enviros supposed to do…just roll over and let the wolves be killed off all over again? No. Accountability for the rhetoric and the killing belongs to those fighting the wolf; don’t try and say the environmentalists are responsible for forcing those poor ranchers to be as obstinate, as whiny and as hate-filled as they are. People are responsible for their own actions.

      I see NO evidence..Zip, NADA, that the ranchers, the elk hunting industry, and the state FG agencies have any intention of compromising on this. None. No, we are not going to agree on this. Not as long as you keep arguing for the status guo, or a future where the wolf is effectively kept in national park or wilderness defacto zoos, and denied a chance to be an integral, non-targeted part of the restoration of the Western ecosystem.

    2. Talks with Bears Avatar
      Talks with Bears

      JimT – dude, what gives? Here I am working my tail off to try to keep the wheel spinning and I check in and you are throwing me in with “wolf haters”. Don’t start trouble and there won’t be any. Real quick.

      1. In my circles I do not detect “wolf hatred” – most feel that the wolves are clearly recovered and the impact that they are having on other wildlife, especially that certain other wildlife that WE enjoy to eat along with the wolves is proof of the recovery. They see the enviros as never satisfied and moving the bar all the time to get more of what they want – frustration not hatred.

      2. Due to the “situation” we as a country find ourselves in today I have to say that the “wolf issue” is being thrown in with the entire “out of control federal government” issue. Just one more thing the federal government “has done” or imposed on we the people – and these people here in the West not we the people in Chicago or Los Angeles.

      3. I keep hearing from enviro lawyers about all of this illegal activity by the government – is it not for the courts to decide what is illegal?

      4. While you enviros are throwing out the “hatred” thing – seems to me that there are many here that “hate” ranchers and ranching – at least it seems to me that if want to destroy someones business/way of life then you must be close to the “hatred” level. BTW, I do believe that “hatred” is in the heart and that is very difficult to determine.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Ok jimt,

    I can see you and I will disagree on this subject, but I will maintain my position, based on my experience in the field and seeing what goes on at the highest levels of game management and well as the blatant mismanagement of public resources..

  19. Si'vet Avatar

    Ralph, looked at 40 head of sheep in FC all good.
    Elk275 if you wait till the end of the month the fish will be between North Fork and Ellis. They are moving in a hurry. The ealier the better this year.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      I climbed about 1000 feet up the Stoddard Trail and ran into 8 ewes. They weren’t coughing and looked good.

      I didn’t see any bighorn downriver.

      Cross our fingers, maybe the coughing was not pneumonia.

  20. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    save bears,

    To reply to your assessments, looking from a law enforcement prespective, you put the hammer down to keep poaching of wolves or any animal down. You back your call and you get a $50-100,000 reward going for information leading to the arrest and convict of anyone killing these animals.

    It works the same way it did to stop a lot of killing of griz bears in my isolated area of patrol. With a reward of $30,000 the guides were afraid the other guides viewed having a new pickup more than them as friendo’s.

    And with all the word on the street you are hearing don’t you think it would be pretty easy for a lot of those swill hole patrons to slip over to the local law dogs office while paying their parking ticket to say what they heard last night.

    I’d say all this bonding and common cause of hating wolves would go away pretty fast…and you would not hear a lot of what you are hearing now.

    You say it will still be going on?? Yes, some will but you will not get the masses of resenters egging on the newbies, would you?

    And until those biologists and law dogs really start promoting ways such as this to stop the killing then they might as well put their tail between their legs and slink off behind the city dump.

    1. jimt Avatar

      Yep. Full and strong punishment and accountability for actions..a critical missing piece of the puzzle. And you must have judges willing to impose the penalties, or take it out of the judges’ hands with a mandatory sentencing guideline system.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Tough punishment is what is needed, but it would surprise me if we saw it.

      More generally, and I’m not talking about wildlife, there is a growing boldness egged on by some politicians to say to hell with all federal laws. The feeling I get is the state of nation is just like before Tim McVeigh blew up the federal building in 1993. It’s the same mentality and a lot of the same people or their sons and daughters. . . all this talk about secession, confederacy.

      I don’t think history repeats itself exactly, but the likelihood of an major incident is getting pretty high. Then we will see if people want a crackdown or whether they really want to split the country up into a bunch of funky little states.

    3. SAP Avatar

      Ralph, OKC was 1995; Waco was 1993; same day in April, though. Big parallels between McVeigh and the rising “Oath Keepers” movement. Lots of irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric going around these days.

  21. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Your reading comprehension seem to be lacking, and don’t include me with Talks with Bears, completely different individual than I.

    Where in the hell did I say, stay with the status quo? Where did I say getting rid of WS would stop the hate the ranchers have for wolves? I never said neither, I am advocating for wolves other than national parks and always have, I don’t believe in wanton killing of any species of animal and never have.

    I can tell you this, re-listing will NOT stop WS services, WS services works outside the ESA when it comes to predators and will continue to until such time as there is a complete and accountable restructuring of that agency..

    Why is it, if you don’t agree with the current strategy, you are automatically labeled a wolf or wildlife hater, I don’t hate any wildlife, I advocate and work or wildlife every single day and that includes wolves, coyotes, bears and just about any other animal that walks the earth. I just happen to feel what is currently being done is a failure.

    As far as me not getting it, it seems more like you are not getting it, and to add, I also work to GET the ranchers OFF of public lands, start reading what is actually being wrote and stop making assumptions!

  22. jimt Avatar

    Ok jimt,

    I can see you and I will disagree on this subject, but I will maintain my position, based on my experience in the field and seeing what goes on at the highest levels of game management and well as the blatant mismanagement of public resources..

    So, If I misunderstood your. point, I apologize. But, tell me, what the heck did you mean by this? Sounds like you were taking exception to my view on wolves offered above.

  23. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I am taking exception to your position on education as well basically saying my method of change will allow wolves to be wiped out again, which I don’t believe.

    I think what is currently going on has failed, when failure is happening at all levels, we end up with a complete polarization of both sides that benefits no one, lawsuits may reinforce the law, but it will do nothing to stop the radical element from doing what they want and currently I am seeing more and more of the radical element become more willing to take the law into their own hands.

    I agree with Ralph, I think we are in for a major incident, I hope not, but the indicators are there…

    I am not a wolf hater, and I am not a wolf lover, I am a scientist, I look at it based on science, science tells us wolves are a benefit to the environment.

    One of the only ways to stop hate is education, you can come up with all the laws and rulings you want to, until such time as the mindset is changed it won’t stop the hate…

    We also need to address the politics and we can do that with our votes, but have not seen much movement on that front in a long time..

    Something has to change, or it is going to get real ugly before it gets better

  24. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    Cal Groen in his own writing,
    Via IDFG official Facebook page.

    Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG): Op-ed: Lolo Zone In Perspective

  25. jimt Avatar

    Now I understand where you are coming from. I think education is part of the solution, but education is a passive weapon, if you will, and I think we need to win campaigns, pass legislation, get the right judges, do the litigation, media campaigns…all of it addresses different parts of the problem.

    The polarization is getting worse, but the catalyst are the people I mentioned earlier in my diatribe, not the environmentalist side, not from what I see and read. Usually, it is in reaction to something the anti wolf factions does…

  26. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Nathan Hobbs,

    Cal Groen’s piece on Facebook is an interesting find. I am inclined to think that the efforts of ID and MT to put wolf numbers back in the headlines is no coincidence.

    Judge Molloy will soon be ruling on the Decaratory Judgment motion in the delisting litigation. While he may find technical deficiencies on the FWS efforts to define a Distinct Population Segment for the purpose of delisting, it will be difficult to IGNORE the public pleas from both states saying we have more than enough wolves, and here is the proof of their impact on the landscape (elk, livestock, etc.), and we need to “manage” more aggressively. This includes giving more latitude to “management” partners at Wildlife Services.

    It does not seem there has been as much press from WY, but indeed they are battling it out in federal court in Cheyenne, over USFWS failure to approve their wolf management plan.

    And then there are the Great Lakes states who want their wolves delisted.

    Seems there is a pretty strong effort from 6 states pushing back at the federal government on the wolf delisting issue and the application of the ESA for this purpose.

    And then, there is Utah, with its even more strident views than the others.

    As we look to a time horizon maybe five years forward this will be an interesting period indeed, as trial court rulings are announced, appeals are made, and states continue in their efforts to successfully seek and implement their wolf management plans.


    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Wilderness Muse,

      This reminds of of the last push to enact health insurance or to defeat it.

      Wild claims are flying with no reference to reality. It’s impossible to read a research paper and discuss wolves rationally right now.

      Maybe wolves should be off-limits for a a while . . . just thinking.

  27. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    You may be right. A time for rational thought and meaningful exchange among the different interests would be nice. But, then, the reality is that life with wolves on the landscape goes on, and the political pressures are unrelenting. There are, unfortunately, no timeouts – even relisting won’t stop the skirmishing. I expect there have been alot of strategic staff meetings in state wildlife agencies in the NRM addressing the question of what to do in preparation for the next round – depending on the outcomes of the court decisions. Not sure what the Great Lakes wolf states intend for their encore – there are reports of WI collared wolves making it to Indiana and Missuori.

  28. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    It is all culture and social psychology and almost none biology. I wrote this the other day, but it bears repeating.

    If wolves were some little known invasive mammal, their impact has been so minor we would be trying to generate interest in them from a bored public.

    Think feral hogs, which have a huge impact. Just how much is the public concerned?

    What wolf management needs is not biologists, trappers, or sharpshooters. Social scientists and counselors are what are needed.

    1. JimT Avatar

      If the hogs started going after cows, Ralph…

      Not sure if there are enough counselors, cultural historians, fact-checkers and body guards to do the job for Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, but it sure would be a full employment effort for decades..

      Why, probably even more that lawyers’ fees…;*)

  29. Mgulo Avatar

    Ralph – you are spot on. This has never been about biology. I tried to get that across a few days ago but I think it slipped on by most folks.

    Of course, there are a lot of folks on both sides who benefit from the heat this issue generates – so they have no interest in solving anything.

    Besides, if you’re yelling it precludes the need to think! Much easier and generally more fun!

    Again: you’re spot on!

    1. JimT Avatar


      I think you are doing a bit of disservice to the people I know who have been working on wolf issues since the first aerial gunning case in Alaska at least 25 years ago. I know these folks as colleagues and friends. They would all like this to be solved; they take no pleasure in having to continue to have this program in place to keep the hopes that wolves will be restored to traditional habitats, believe me. They would like nothing better than to declare the wolf is back and safe, and move on to some other issue or species; heaven knows there are plenty of them that need help, but funds are limited and you have to pick your battles.

  30. Ken Cole Avatar

    Date: March 8, 2010
    Contact: Ed Mitchell
    (208) 334-3700

    Op-Ed: Lolo Zone In Perspective

    By Cal Groen, Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

    The Lolo elk herd is in trouble. The latest counts put the herd at 2,178 with poor survival of the cows and calves needed to replenish the herd.

    Idaho Fish and Game is committed to saving the Lolo herd and keeping Idaho’s other elk herds healthy.

    The elk situation in the Lolo elk management zone didn’t happen overnight. The Lolo elk herd had glory days after major fires in the early 1900s created phenomenal elk habitat in the Clearwater Region. Elk numbers peaked at 16,000 in the 1980s. But re-growth of brush and forest turned great elk habitat into poor habitat. Predation by bears and mountain lions took its toll.

    Following the severe winter of 1996-1997, Lolo elk numbers dropped by nearly half. When the population didn’t rebound, Idaho Fish and Game took aggressive steps. We drastically reduced hunter numbers, and ended all cow harvest. We increased bear and lion hunting opportunities to reduce predation. We worked with other partners to improve habitat. Elk numbers started increasing.

    Then wolves took over and became the leading cause of Lolo elk deaths. It wasn’t until May of last year that the state could finally manage wolves. By then, the balance of elk and wolves in the Lolo Zone was completely out of whack. Extreme predation on adult females and calves means not enough calves survive to replace the adults that die each year.

    Idaho began taking steps to reduce wolf numbers with its first regulated wolf hunt starting September 1, 2009. But hunters in the steep, brushy Lolo country have had limited success, taking just 11 wolves of the Lolo zone harvest limit of 27 to date.

    With the latest Lolo elk numbers, it is clear more aggressive wolf management is needed to restore the herd. State wildlife managers will recommend significant changes to wolf seasons in the Lolo and other elk-depressed zones, consistent with the 2008-2012 Idaho Wolf Management Plan. These management tools could include increased harvest limits, multiple tags, trapping, and asking outfitters to help reduce wolf numbers.

    Even with fewer wolves, changes in the landscape make it unlikely Lolo elk will return to the all-time highs of the 1980s. But Fish and Game will do what it takes to restore the health of the Lolo herd. For many of us, it’s more than just professional interest; this herd has personal significance to many Idaho wildlife managers. And finding the right balance for our big game herds and other wildlife is at the heart of Fish and Game’s mission.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      This is ridiculous. Cal lays out what the cause of the declines is but then blames wolves for keeping it that way when there has been no significant change in the habitat issues that caused the decline in the first place.

      They are going to go forward with killing many wolves in the Lolo but I predict, unless there is some significant change in habitat quality, this won’t make a damned bit of difference. They tried the same thing when they were blaming it on bears and mountain lions and it didn’t do a damned thing then either.

  31. Craig Avatar

    The bold on this thread”Trapping of wolves may begin in Idaho next year”‘.

    I would doubt the increase of trapping would increase even a 1/64% of a percent. Who the hell is gonna take the time,money, ect? The quoata wasnt meet as I predicted and I sure as helll gurantee hunters aren’t gonna start trapping to get more wolfs! If they are to lazy to drive around and shoot them from there jacked up trucks while swilling a case or two of beer, why the hell would they spend the time setting traps ect?? HIT THE PANIC BUTTON!!!

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I suspect that trapping would increase due to the motivation of the anti’s to kill as many wolves as they could. I suspect that some would take up trapping just so they could satisfy their bloodlust. Would it be a significant number? I don’t know but I suspect that you will see increased interest in taking it up if it becomes allowed.

  32. Craig Avatar

    The bold on this thread”Trapping of wolves may begin in Idaho next year”‘.

    I would doubt the increase of trapping would increase even a 1/64% of a percent. Who the hell is gonna take the time,money, ect? The quoata wasnt meet as I predicted and I sure as helll gurantee hunters aren’t gonna start trapping to get more wolfs! If they are to lazy to drive around and shoot them from there jacked up trucks while swilling a case or two of beer, why the hell would they spend the time setting traps ect?? HIT THE PANIC BUTTON!!! Sarcasm

    1. spanglelakes Avatar

      Craig – two wolves shot by hunters had snares around their necks. Three wolves reported to IDFG had been caught in snares set for coyotes and killed and they are:

      Dec 23 09 – Middle Fork Payette River, 6 miles N of Crouch, a female wolf choked to death in a snare set by a Nampa man.

      Dec 24 09 – wolf caught in snare near Clayton, details forthcoming.

      Jan 15 2010 – Panhandle, EFK Pine Creek, female wolf died in a snare.

      In December, a female hunter shot a wolf in Unit 39 that was missing a left front toe, and the wolf’s right front foot was fused at the wrist joint.

      In addition, Wildlife Services uses snares to catch coyotes or wolves, but also can catch any other animal that walks along and gets caught and hung – like a bobcat, a deer, or someone’s dog.

      Anyone going into the backcountry in the West (or probably nationwide) with a dog should carry wire cutters, because there are a lot of snares as well as leg hold traps.

      It’s ugly out there and it’s only going to get worse as IDFG allows traps and snares to kill wolves. It will be just too bad if it’s your dog that gets caught. You won’t get anywhere in an Idaho court trying to get justice.

  33. spanglelakes Avatar

    About trapping/snaring in Idaho – a trapper only has to check traps every 72 hours. A lot don’t bother to do that.

    1. Craig Avatar

      I spend a large amount of time in the first two areas and have never had a problem, I also have two dogs. As I said Hunters are not going to turn to trapping, most look down on it! Ther small amount you have posted is nothing but miniscule in the larger picture of Wolf mortality.I hike the backcounty allover there all summer and I really think it’s nothing ! How much of the area do you cover? I hunt it ,Hike it and enjoy it all summer and fall and have never had a problem! I’d bet I don’t this year either! If I do I will post it and I always travel with my wife and two dogs!

    2. spanglelakes Avatar

      Craig – I live in Idaho’s mountains year around, have for decades. Two dogs have been caught in traps in the past year here. One owner was seriously bit as he tried to free his pet. More than one CO has warned me of areas to stay away from. One Dec morning, I found a skinned out bobcat laying at a Sawtooth xc ski trail – kinda of a “in your face” gesture to us driving Subarus and using skis instead of a snowmobile. Friends walking the Middle Fork trail find snares attached to bridges and along trails. When reported, it falls on deaf ears at IDFG. A bobcat pelt is going for $400 plus. Most of the trapping/snaring occurs in winter but some guys around here just want to be trapping/killing something year around.

      Once wolf trapping is made legal, the mortality from this inhumane method will quickly go into the dozens – that’s why IDFG wants to allow it and issue multiple tags and get outfitters to help do the killing.

  34. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    The arrogance of these derelict Wildlife Managers like Collinge and Groen is shocking. They have been operating without any oversight for far too long. You guys should try a Footloose Montana like initiative to take back public land from these monsters. Trappers only having to check traps every 72 hours- that is about as anti- wildlife as you can get- I don’t know how you can stand it!

    1. Andy Avatar

      I won’t add to the anti trapping frenzy… I think Craig is right on that front… there are much bigger issues at hand… like the arrogance of “these derelict Wildlife Managers like… Groen…” Perhaps the initiative should be a movement toward eliminating Fish and Game and moving toward a Department of Natural Resources where wildlife is actually managed as a resource along with the rest of the lands. These guys are out of control and only 11% of Idahoans are hunters…. 39% are wildlife watchers. That’s per IFG’s own report… I wonder if the managers ever read that stuff.

  35. Craig Avatar

    You should check the miniscule amounts of trappings in Idaho and get your fricking panties outta the bunch you have created! Jesus christ talk obout media frenzie what a joke! I’m not for trapping at all but you guys are getting all wound upover nothing!

    1. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      only part of what one person did just this year as a I believe,part time trapper

  36. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    The key is motivation and the motivation is very high amounst all elk outfitters to eliminate wolves. So maybe get out of your own little hunter world, I suggest, and think of OTHERS who have more incentive to do so than YOU!!!

    There is a very perceived need in outfitter camps to take out anything in their way. When I patrolled the most remote spot in the lower 48…the Thorofare…..beaver would occassionally dam up the routes (illegally maintained wilderness area non govt. trail mind you) a particular outfitter(s) needed to take to get to their “hunts”. Thus they would petition Wyo G&F for trapping permission (and get it, thereby showing G&F didn’t give a hoot about wilderness regulations)….like during the summer so the illegal trail of theirs would be dry come fall.

    These outfitters put lots of energy into this. It was more important to lug back connibears 30 some miles on a pack horse and also hire a guy to pot shoot these beaver than to let it go with nature being part of theirs and their clients experience.

    So tell me, my naive upset one who arrogantly states “fact” of experience ….. that Idaho’s outfitters won’t spend even more time trying to trap wolves out of THEIR public lands territory. I say, get out of your little pocket gopher hole and at the same time forget about who has undies pulled high…because you, my child, have to watch that your diapers don’t get stuck in that gopher hole.

    And one more thing, did it ever occur to you that the outfitters were the ones who petitioned Idaho G&F to do just this, to trap those wolves???

    1. Talks with Bears Avatar
      Talks with Bears

      Bob – I think you take first prize for the “internet tough guy” award – too many nights alone in the ole Thorofare cabin eh?

  37. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    The topic sentence for this article was:

    LEWISTON, Idaho — More wolves need to be killed in the Lolo area of the Clearwater River basin to stop the decline in elk populations, the director of Idaho Fish and Game says.

    Here is an editorial from the RMEF which refutes what some folks who post here have been saying. I expect it won’t be the last time we hear from them as statistics are distorted. It appeared in the Casper Tribune 03.02.10, and perhaps elsewhere:


    Activists who oppose common-sense management of wolf populations are misusing statistics from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to support their own agenda. We will not let it go unchallenged.

    Defenders of Wildlife, Western Wildlife Conservancy, Endangered Species Coalition and others would have you believe that restored wolf populations are somehow translating to growing elk herds. That is, of course, far from accurate. Our population data, which come from state wildlife agencies, show that elk populations are expanding the most in areas of the northern Rockies where wolves are not present. However, where elk share habitat with wolves, such as the Yellowstone area, some elk populations are declining fast. In fact, since the mid-1990s introduction of gray wolves, the northern Yellowstone elk herd has dropped from about 17,000 to 7,100 animals — a 58 percent decline. Other localities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming also are documenting precipitous downward trends.

    Additionally, some research shows that the elk remaining in areas of concentrated wolf populations are suffering nutrition loss, lower body weights and decreasing birth rates.

    An unemotional, rounded view of the research is why we strongly support state-regulated wolf management via hunting and other viable methods. Last year we got involved in the ongoing litigation over wolves, filing legal briefs used in federal court to delist wolves and allow hunting to help control local wolf populations.

    Groups who oppose wolf management ignore these facts, by design.

    DAVID ALLEN, Missoula, Mont.

    President and CEO

    Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

    1. Talks with Bears Avatar
      Talks with Bears

      Thanks for the post WM

    2. timz Avatar

      Doesn’t seem to reconcile with their own 25th anniversary report where they blow their own horns about how many elk there are since they were founded.

      The opening line —
      “MISSOULA, Mont.—Wild elk populations in 23 states are higher now than 25 years ago when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was launched to help conserve habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

  38. Mgulo Avatar

    JIm T

    You need to work on your reading comprehension. You seem to misunderstand commenst regularly. read carefully before responding.

    My comment related to the viral levels of passion involved on both sides. The biology is fairly simple and I certainly said nothing about the wolf managers, many of whom I know and work with. As a manager myself, I’m stuck into this issue every day.

    The ongoing problem with wolf management isn’t biology, hasn’t been for years – that’s fairly simple and like most wildlife management issues, would take care of itself if left to do so. It’s sociology fueled by passionate people who are relying less on science and more on visceral response. They have certain views and aren’t about to be confused by the facts.

    Read it again more carefully – you’ll get it. 🙂

    1. JimT Avatar

      Perhaps your writing skills need some honing to get your message across more clearly……I don’t need the snide insinuations. Nor do I need to be reminded that the wolf issue is ruled more by politics and money and old hatreds than biology. I have..again..always said, here and elsewhere, that I would be happy to have these issues ruled by peer reviewed, independent, non-politically motivated science. As for passions…it is what keeps the environmental side working on these issues for most of the lives, fending off seemingly endless attacks and fecklessness by agencies and industry. You and others who enjoy the results of those passions should be grateful, not critical.

      ..When you said there are folks on BOTH sides of this issue who are more interested in benefiting from the conflict than solving it, what other conclusion is to be reached except you are loftily suggesting personal or organizational agendas beyond the wolf problem at hand. I found that statement to be offensive given the people I know working on this issue for decades now.


  39. spanglelakes Avatar

    Here’s a response by Defender’s Mike Leahy to RMEF’s David Allen that appeared in the Cody WY paper. Note his great quote: “Hunters would never stand for elk being managed as poorly as wolves…”

    David Allen’s allegations in “Elk Data Misused” are false and misleading (Letters/March 2). Defenders of Wildlife has never claimed that”‘restored wolf populations translate to rising elk herds.” The two species evolved together, and keep each other and their habitat balanced and healthy.

    Wolves are not herbivores; they most definitely rely on elk for food. But elk herds are not being wiped out because of this evolutionary fact. In fact, the good news is that elk populations are still increasing region-wide despite the reintroduction of wolves. In the instances where herds are suffering losses, wolves are by no means the only factor — but they’re sure an easy scapegoat.

    Single-species wildlife management played an important role historically in restoring many depleted species like elk and trout. But wildlife management has evolved over the last century and we now know that we need to manage individual species within broader natural systems. Wolves are part of the natural system of the Northern Rockies — and they play a particularly important role as the top predator along with man. Defenders of Wildlife is not using data showing historic high elk populations in the Northern Rockies to suggest wolves don’t impact elk, but rather to show that those impacts are normal, localized, manageable, and generally positive (for example limiting elk overgrazing).

    Defenders of Wildlife emphasizes conserving all native wildlife and plants in their natural communities. We applaud the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for their important contributions to elk recovery and conservation, and appreciate that it allows wildlife groups like ours to focus on more troubled species. We would welcome their considerable expertise and influence in resolving concerns regarding wolf conservation and management. But hunters would never stand for elk being managed as poorly as wolves are under current plans. The Elk Foundation should not be standing in the way of advocates who support the conservation and recovery of all wildlife, including wolves.

    MIKE LEAHY, Bozeman, Mont.
    Defenders of Wildlife

    1. timz Avatar

      According to RMEF’s own report elk numbers between 1984 and 2009 have increased overall in Idaho by 5%, Wyoming by 35% and Montana by a 66%.

    2. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse

      Spangle & timz

      This is the part I especially like:

      ++Wolves are not herbivores; they most definitely rely on elk for food. But elk herds are not being wiped out because of this evolutionary fact. In fact, the good news is that elk populations are still increasing region-wide despite the reintroduction of wolves. In the instances where herds are suffering losses, wolves are by no means the only factor — but they’re sure an easy scapegoat.++

      Spangle, tell us if you can, just how a carnivore that eats between 8-23 elk per year, per EACH wolf, cannot have an additive negative impact on elk populations, or their condition, including lower body weights, and fewer successful pregnancies and calf survival?

      RMEF, as I understand their efforts, has been responsible for protecting large acreages for all wildlife, through land exchanges involving federal lands, private conservation easements and a host of other protection strategies. This has resulted in more habitat being available for and benefitted elk and other wildlife. Maybe this new habitat is the localized reason why some elk populations have done well (plus no bad winters or other weather conditions that adversely affect elk), until the last two or three years.

      RMEF has been very slow to anger on the wolf issue, as a number of their members favor wolves on the landscape. The distortion campaigns by some wolf advocates, and we have seen some of the crap written on this very blog, and elsewhere, have misrepresented some of the elk population and habitat facts and attributed them to RMEF.

      RMEF is, I believe, becoming less patient, and as a result joined in the litigation pending before judge Molloy. I expect the response from Mike Leahy of the local Defenders of Wildlife office will get a rebuttal, and the debate will continue.

    3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      That RMEF Foundation guy was really angry sounding, as if the fact that some groups using their published data were doing something unusual, almost criminal 😉

    4. spanglelakes Avatar

      Wilderness Muse – each wolf does not eat up to 23 elk annually, at least in Idaho where big game hunting goes on and on. Where was the study done for this? Of course, wolves do eat elk, along with some deer and any pronghorn that don’t migrate before the snow comes. Wolves also clean up after hunters (gut piles and wounded animals that are never found); road kill; bone piles (livestock carcasses) and lost sheep.

      “Depredation hunts” are held on agriculture lands (hay fields/haystacks for eg) to kill deer and elk because there are TOO many.

      During June and July, wolves hunt ground squirrels. They also like to hunt beaver. I can hear you saying bullshit to this, but I’ve seen this more times then I can count.

    5. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I am so glad you doubted the statistic. It gives me a chance to explain. I first asked that question in October 2007 of Steve Nadeau, the wolf coordinator for the State of ID. He gave me the 8-23 elk per wolf per year, with an average of about 16. I asked the same question of Caroline Sime, the MT wolf coordinator that same month. She pretty much agreed with the Nadeau number.

      I have also seen the range before in the literature. There is also an indirect reference in the 2006 nutrition studies done by Daniel Stahler and Doug Smith at Yellowstone in my response second response to Andy, below.

      And, just so you can check yourself, here is a cite to a report by MT FWP from 2009. In the Executive Summary on the assessment of wolf-ungulate interaction for the Greater Yellowstone Area, the authors state:

      “3. Winter elk kill rates of wolves have varied widely across southwest Montana and the GYA, from approximately 7 to 23 elk killed per wolf during November through April. There is little data on summer elk kill rates of wolves, but it appears that wolves kill fewer elk during summer than during winter.” (Executive Summary, page vii. The statistic is also cited at page 8.)

      Source: Hamlin, K. L. and J. A. Cunningham. 2009. Monitoring and assessment of wolf-ungulate interactions and population trends within the Greater Yellowstone Area, southwestern Montana, and Montana statewide: Final Report. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Wildlife Division, Helena, Montana, USA.

      The FULL REPORT is available here:

      You are correct about a shift to small mammals/rodents in summer. Wolves get elk calves and deer fawns then, too, but they are not included in the study statistics because it is tougher to find the evidence, and bears also get alot of the young of the year. And, the more important period is winter, although this focus focus may be changing as more concern is directed at learning the cause – effect relationships of lower calf production and recruitment. And, yes they eat beaver, too, quite alot actually, if they are present in their habitat.

    6. spanglelakes Avatar

      Wilderness Muse – studies done in the “Greater Yellowstone Area” or the park itself, cannot be applied to wolves living where there is a hunting season that starts in Sept (archery) and going to Dec 1st in many areas.

      Re. Steve Nadeau – a bear biologist who happened to fall into the job of dealing with wolves. Fortunately he’s fallen out of that, except in SW Idaho. The guy doesn’t have a bone in his body that cares about wolves.

  40. timz Avatar

    I’m just citing their own 25th anniversary report where the boast endlessly that there are, as of 2009, more elk than ever before largely due to their efforts.

  41. timz Avatar

    “Spangle, tell us if you can, just how a carnivore that eats between 8-23 elk per year, per EACH wolf, cannot have an additive negative impact on elk populations, or their condition, including lower body weights, and fewer successful pregnancies and calf survival?

    I think rather than ask Spangle you should be posing the question to the RMEF. They are the ones making all the positive claims.

    “The Elk Foundation is extremely proud of our role ensuring that habitat conditions are optimum for healthy, flourishing elk herds. These latest population statistics validate our hard work over the past 25 years.”

  42. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I am going to doubt RMEF would say that today, without considerable qualification. They, like any organization, like to boast of accomplishments for the purpose of sustaining and increasing memberships. You know, HERE is what we did with your money, and we couldn’t do it without you!

    The really interesting thing about wolf populations is that they have been expanding incredibly fast (until the recent hunting season). It is only now, after the fact, that the magnitude of some of the suspected impacts are coming to light. Was it anticipated that the Yellowstone wolves would reduce the elk population there by 50 percent in something just over 10 years, from an initial population of 33 wolves, to a population that peaked at 170 or so, then would cut back to around a hundred in the Park as they dispersed to find more prey in adjacent areas? Amazing feat in my view.

    If there had not been a hunt this year in MT and ID, or aggressive WS control of some “problem” wolves that preferred livestock over the last ten years, what do you think the wolf and elk population would be like today and going into this next Spring?

    Would tempers be even hotter on the side of those wanting fewer wolves and more elk, as the statistics on impacts to elk start being compiled after – the – fact started rolling in?

    My take on it is that the “tolerance for wolves” as JB might measure it would be much less by hunters, as well as the livestock industry, and hence by state game management agencies (and legislatures).

    If the delisting gets derailed, as I predict it will based on technical ESA provision arguments, I think those tempers will get hotter. And what we are seeing right now, as I suggested at the very start of this thread, is the final push, and contingency stratgegies, before Judge Molloy rules.

    1. Phil Maker Avatar
      Phil Maker

      Here’s one way the wolves eating 8-23 elk per year might not have an “additive negative impact on elk populations:”- if that “loss’ of elk is compensatory mortality; ie. those elk were going to die from some other cause anyway. Lots of studies have demonstrated that wolves, for the most part, take vulnerable/less than prime animals- those that might succumb to other factors (though not always). So those sub-optimal elk may be eating food that could go to sustain healthier animals (impacting successful pregnancies, nutrition, etc.). It might be that the elk removed by wolves are competing with their herd mates and reducing the overall health/productivity of that herd by usurping resources.

    2. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse

      Phil Maker,

      Compensatory mortality certainly is a well recognized explanation often used in biology. Wildlife managers are cautious about making the distinction, and saying that ALL of what is being seen with elk and wolves is additive. It most certainly is not all additive, nor is it all compensatory.

      The interesting issue is the harassment and fear of predation effect that Scott Creel of MSU speaks of (cites are in comments to Andy below March 9 @ 1:08 PM). But for the harassment and fear of predation some elk would not be at higher elevations, eating less nutritious browse and going into winter with lower body weights, producing lower body weight calves in the spring, and otherwise becoming a new food source for the wolves, or possibly having lower pregnancy rates. They would make it through winter just fine. But the wolves, it appears, are creating their own food supply by weakening them, as well as affecting the crop of new calves. Because the elk are more skiddish, some less optimal animals might not be taken by hunters, including older cows that might not make it through winter.

      And, even in Yellowstone, some studies have shown otherwise healthy mature bulls, weaked by rut, have been taken by wolves, and whose continued breeding presence might be good for the gene pool. It is kind of a paradox, with many facets.

      Just for discussion, let’s say that in ID there are 800 wolves, and some of the elk they eat is “additive” (and not compensatory mortality) for just 10 of the 16 total they might eat in a year. That is a total of 8,000 elk, which are NEW MORTALITY loss annually to be subtracted from the population. This might be simplifying a complex issue, but the simple math is out of whack with reality.

      I also realize it is risky to make short term conclusions, because we haven’t had the really bad winters recently which sometimes results in the huge die-offs of ungulates.

    3. Phil Maker Avatar
      Phil Maker

      Mr. Muse,
      When the # of elk goes down, the # of wolves will go down shortly thereafter. That’s how nature works. The system perpetuated (dare I say “managed”) itself for millions of years with neither elk nor wolves being extirpated. It took man to do that.

    4. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I completely agree with your last statement. The point is nature works differently when the presence of man, and all of his trappings, has become part of the equation. And that is where the tension resides.

    5. Elk275 Avatar

      ++When the # of elk goes down, the # of wolves will go down shortly thereafter. That’s how nature works. The system perpetuated (dare I say “managed”) itself for millions of years with neither elk nor wolves being extirpated. It took man to do that.++

      I agree with that statement 100%, it is true. But, when the number of elk goes down, hunter opportunity goes down, shorter seasons, limited draws and additional restrictions. I just got the changes in the 2010 Montana hunting regulations and there is going to be some new restrictions on cow elk hunting and the number of permits reduced in the Southwest part of the state. In Northwest Montana all whitetail doe hunting has been curtailed. This will continue with each year yielding additions restrictions and reduced opportunities. We are going to have wolves but at what cost to our hunting heritage and more important hunting opportunities. Montana is managed for maximum hunter days.

      This is not acceptable to those of us that want to hunt every year. Currently there is not enough elk licenses in the United States to issue everyone who wants to hunt elk a license. Some state like UT, AZ and NM have limited draws that takes several years to be successful. I have had an over the counter elk licence with a 5 week general season for over 40 years, I do not want that opportunity restricted because wolves nor do the voters of this state.

    6. Phil Maker Avatar
      Phil Maker

      Elk 275,

      And I want wolves in every conceivable habitat that can support them throughout the U.S. Your desire for unlimited hunting opportunities isn’t any more valid than mine- though Fish & Game (most enlightened states at least have the decency to name them Fish & Wildlife)commissions/depts. are much more likely to provide for your wish than mine. Sportsmen have more or less had their way for the past 70 years (and will continue to based on ID’s and MT’s plans to severely reduce wolf numbers).

    7. Andy Avatar

      I think Phil has addressed the issue that provides one of the greatest sources of frustration with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, their prime “client” is the hunter. Clearly, the IDFG is managing the state not for wildlife or balanced eco systems, they’re managing for the greatest opportunities for hunters, translated=maximum elk. Even Groen’s comments on facebook state, “Idaho Fish and Game is committed to saving the Lolo herd…” and “With the latest Lolo elk numbers, it is clear more aggressive wolf management is needed to restore the herd.”

      It appears that the science clearly shows the Lolo habitat has changed dramatically from the “Glory Days” after the major fires of the early 1900’s. Even Groen addresses that with “But re-growth of brush and forest turned great elk habitat into poor habitat.” So why is IDFG so bound and determined to artificially rebuild the herds in this particular area? Purely to improve the hunting opportunities for those who choose to hunt in that specific area?

      In the IDFG Wolf Population Management Plan 2008-2012, which is so often quoted as the IDFG guideline, there’s a section titled “Non-consumptive Use of Wolves.” The plan states, “In 2006, 746,000 people watched wildlife in Idaho and spent $273 million while doing so (USFWS 2007b). Further, 39% of Idaho residents participated in wildlife viewing, whereas 20% angled and 11% hunted.”

      Even though hunting represents only 11% of the Idaho residents, the IDFG is placing most of its emphasis on improving hunting opportunities for that minority and is discounting the interests of those who would choose to watch wolves and enjoy wildlife in non-consumptive ways in an, arguably, more balanced environment.

      I’m not opposed to hunting, but I am opposed to managing our wild lands in Idaho for the primary purpose of hunting. I’m also opposed to forcing artificial increases in elk populations particularly in areas that don’t naturally support a significant population. I would prefer that we have a Department that manages ALL of our natural resources and not specifically for improving hunting opportunities for those who choose that pastime.

  43. timz Avatar

    “The really interesting thing about wolf populations is that they have been expanding incredibly fast (until the recent hunting season”
    Actually that is not true. The poulation actually shrank in 2008, before hunting. The growth rate in their population has likely leveled off and is still decling in certain areas.

    1. spanglelakes Avatar

      timz – REALLY declining. The last of the wolves in Stanley were slaughtered by Wildlife Services in November. Clayton rednecks have been nailing wolves in Squaw Ck and other Salmon River drainages. Bear Valley was a zoo until snow closed the roads. Its Casner Ck pack lost several members inc. a nanny wolf that was with the pups.

    2. Andy Avatar

      in the park the Druids are down to 1 and the total polulation is currently estimated at about 85 animals and dropping… perhaps it was from overeating

  44. Andy Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    Do you honestly believe your statement, “… the Yellowstone wolves would reduce the elk population there by 50 percent in something just over 10 years” ??? It was the wolves that reduced the Yellowstone heards… no other influences??? No cyclical changes… no environmental variables??? No elk population bubble post 1988 fires???

    No further comment.

  45. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    ++The poulation actually shrank in 2008, before hunting. The growth rate in their population has likely leveled off and is still decling in certain areas.++

    Actually it didnot. You might want to check your stats. From the Annual wolf reports on the USFWS website, only WY had a decrease from 188 to 178, and that was because 46 were considered “problem” wolves killed by WS, and another 11 were hunted in the dreaded Predator Zone. MT net increase was from 422 in 2007, to 497 in 2008. ID net increase was from 768 to 846. These are the conservative numbers according to Dr. Mech in his declaration in the first delisting suit, becasue of error in the estimation techniques.

    Sure wolf population will decrease in some localized areas, as prey base changes, some die because they get old, some die of disease (as pups did from parvo year before last I think). And some die becasue of other causes, including the 3S, which probably accounts for more than anyone wants to formally acknowledge. It is complex stuff, and the data is not perfect. Yellowstone is a good example, of where the scientists know they are migrating out.

    Also recall wolves are migrating out to OR, UT and CO. That does not mean they have died, it means they are expanding range.

    tim, please don’t add to the BS by creating your own stats. If you have better ones than I posted from the Annual wolf reports and Mech’s declaration pony up, including the cites.



    I really do not know the answer to your question about Yellowstone habitat. Maybe somebody else does. The nearly 50 reduction in elk goes along with the 50 percent reduction in numbers of coyotes killed by wolves. As I said, it is complex stuff, and we are still learning.

    1. Andy Avatar

      The problem is that it IS complex stuff… and statements like yours that suggest wolf kills were the sole cause of a population decline in elk are simply uninformed and untrue and serve to stimulate “The big bad wolf or Little Red Riding Hood” mentality.

      There was HUGE bubble in the elk population in the park after the 1988 fires. The 1995 wolf introduction just happened to coincide with a peak in the elk population. A recent study done by Dan McNulty at the University of Minnesota showed that “…when 22 percent of the wolves in Yellowstone were 3 or older, the kill rate was 0.4 elk per pack per day. If the older wolves were 52 percent of the population, the kill rate dropped to 0.22 elk per day.” That’s hardly enough to even consider for the dramatic decline in elk numbers.

      And for the record… the story of Little Red Riding Hood was not written about a wolf… it was a young woman coming of age and meeting a man. The story was modified during the Victorian age because that was socially unacceptable… apparently the wolf seemed more appropriate at the time. Perhaps we haven’t grown much from that Vitorian time after all.

    2. Andy Avatar

      BTW… the coyotes are still learning too…they’re population has since rebounded to its former number. They’ve learned to live with the wolves… another suprise to all of us that are still learning 😀

    3. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I am not sure what your point is about the McNulty study. I presume you were referring to the aging wolf paper, done with Doug Smith, Dan Stahler, and others this past year. Older wolves eat less. So what. Younger ones eat more.

      The fact is that wolves have nutritional requirements that seasonally are met by consuming ungulates. They prefer elk when available, over nearly every other species. If you do the math you will soon figure out that the .4 elk per day per pack (of course depending on pack size and age distribution including young, prime and old) comes out to about 12-16 elk per year. The range is indeed 8-23 elk/wolf year, because they eat elk in months outside that seasonal period November – April, which is the standard measurement for winter consumption. This is the numeric range which most wildlife agencies use.

      (See also, Stahler, Daniel, et al. 2006. Foraging and Feeding Ecology of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus): Lessons
      from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA).

      Available at

      And then, there are the elk that are not actually eaten, but which are harassed into occupying browse habitat instead of grazing habitat, at higher elevations, resulting in lower body mass going into winter, lower birth rates, and lower calf recruitment (Creel S, Winnie JA & Christianson D 2009. Glucocorticoid stress hormones and the effect of predation risk on elk reproduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(30):12388–12393; and, Creel S & Christianson D 2008. Relationships between direct predation and risk effects. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 23: 194-201

      And, Andy, PLEASE don’t associate me with the Red Riding Hood crap. It really serves no useful purpose here.

    4. Andy Avatar


      My point regarding the McNulty study was to provide recent numbers referencing wolf consumption. I didn’t consider it necessary in this forum to do the math and extrapolate the numbers. My original concern was with your statement, “Was it anticipated that the Yellowstone wolves would reduce the elk population there by 50 percent in something just over 10 years…” The following is WHY I took exception to your statement:

      This thread specifically addresses the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s recent announcements of its intent to remove wolves from the Lolo area suggesting that it was the wolves that were responsible for the decline in the Lolo area elk population, an opinion popular within the anti-wolf community in Idaho. That population was in decline long before the wolves were introduced and yet IF&G’s chose to make statements that have positioned themselves to prolong the idea that “the Big Bad Wolf” is responsible for the decline. That is not the case in the Lolo area and it’s not the case in Yellowstone.

      Perhaps I should be admonished for the Little Red Riding Hood addition, but this is a public forum viewable by the masses, the same people that replied to the Idaho Statesman’s article with much less informed and knowledgeable replies. The same people that believe the wolves and the wolves alone have eaten all of the elk that represent the 50% drop in the Yellowstone population.

      Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my comments.

  46. JB Avatar


    Tolerance among big game hunters, outfitters, and livestock producers in the NRM DPS is indeed quite low. However, in general, tolerance for wolves in this region is high and attitudes toward wolves become ever more positive as you move away from so-called “affected” areas (i.e. areas occupied by wolves).

    We’re just finishing a rhetorical analysis now with some very interesting implications for wolf management. Essentially, it shows that news media from states with “new” wolf populations exhibit a significant increase in negative rhetoric, while negative rhetoric has decreased in areas without wolves. Of course, those findings won’t surprise anyone. What is interesting is that there is no significant trend in states and provinces with permanent wolf populations (i.e. those where wolves were never fully eradicated). In these areas, people have learned to live with wolves.

    Given these findings, three things trouble me about the NRM DPS: (1) within the DPS negative rhetoric is on the increase and tolerance appears to be decreasing among key stakeholders, (2) these stakeholders (hunters & ranchers) essentially control wildlife policy in the NRM DPS states, and (3) politicians from some of these states (i.e. Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah) appear to be hell-bent on either removing wolves entirely or reducing them to the smallest population they can without returning wolves to ESA protections.

    These actions suggest to me that key stakeholders in the NRM have not yet learned to view wolves as a “natural” part of western ecosystems and are unlikely to tolerate more than minimal wolf populations. The key question is, do these social conditions constitute a threat to wolves in the NRM DPS?

    1. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      Certainly you would know more about this than nearly all of us here. However, common sense would lead one to some of your same conclusions. The key question you point to could be even more critical without the sideboards placed on the reintroduction in the initial FWS reintroduction plan and the EIS. Some people don’t like these features, but they are important. The opportunity for state assumption of management responsiblities upon delisting as envisioned in the ESA, control of problem wolves, and the management option to include hunting seasons to control numbers and distribution of wolves, seem to be key parts of the acceptance equation.

      My earlier point dealt with a hypothetical scenario that presumed “just for the sake of discussion,” no controls at all with the reintroduced wolves, and in-migration repopulation of northern MT from Canada.

      For example, what would have been the eventual consequences of just letting the wolf population increase at its natural pace, constrained only by available prey (natural, or livestock for that matter)? No control of problem wolves either by harassment or lethal means. Maybe even not doing any collaring to track population change, and other demographics. No meaningful dialog with USFWS and the regulated community (state wildlife agencies, livestock owners, hunters, rural residents with pets, etc.), which would mean no 10(j) rules, no discussion of a possibility of delisting until way down the road, at which time states could struggle with the concept of management responsibility but not really participate in the activities leading up to it.

      What do you think this would have done for “tolerance”, and what kind of a social condition threat might wolves have to endure under that scenario?

      My own conclusion, is that without these safety valves, some of which provide avenues for education and producing good science, the reintroduction would be even more hostile. and definitely less of a success than it is.

    2. JB Avatar


      I agree that certain stakeholders would have opposed the reintroductions even more vehemently, sans 10(j). However, the 10(j) “safety valves”, combined with Defenders compensation program, have created a moral hazard for the ranching community. That is, why should one pay extra to protect their livestock when (a) livestock depredations are reimbursed and (b) whole wolf packs are removed for killing cattle? Initial opposition might have been greater without these “safety valves”, but these same measures actually appear to be preventing wolves from reoccupying much of their former range within the DPS.

      But this is really tangential to my original point. Let me see if I can be more direct… Minnesota screamed and hollered when wolves were listed as a threatened species. In fact, the rhetoric coming out of the legislature and from the governor was very similar to what we see in the NRM states today. Yet, a generation of federal control with relatively few problems has left Minnesota in a great position to assume management without the sort of pressures that we see in the West. So I’m wondering, would passions cool in the West with time, or is opposition so firmly rooted in western cultural values that no amount of time will heal these wounds? If the later, the question that FWS should be asking is are wolves safer on or off the list?

    3. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      ++If the later, the question that FWS should be asking is are wolves safer on or off the list?++

      If wolves go back on the list, and states seek the affirmative control measure protections of 10(j) without an opposing legal challenge that succeeds, it may be a distinction without much of a difference. That is where the states are headed if Molloy goes against delisting, and FWS will be right there with the states approving 10(j) measures as they are requested (subject of course to the attendant peer reviews required by the regs.).

    4. JB Avatar

      You could be right, though at least federal oversight would buffer state agencies against the pressure from livestock and big game hunting interests.

    5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      I think federal management is an excellent buffer.

      Has anyone noticed how much the wolf controversy has faded in Wyoming with continued federal management of the wolves there?

      Yes, Wyoming politicians say they hate it and they are suing, but the public visibility of the issue seems to have dropped a huge amount.

      I believe a content analysis of the media would clearly show this drop.

      Federal management and relative peace go hand in hand — at least after the initial outrage.

  47. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Interesting picture, represents a substantial amount of currently legal income. Was this trapper from Idaho?

  48. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    all I hear is elk population talk based on multiples of numbers. To think of elk in these terms only insures continued symptom management. Until biologists and lay folks…such as yourself…. start thinking in terms of degree of elk herd infrastructure there is no hope for successful solutions and understanding.

    Think of a company that boasts a thousand employees but none of these “employees” are any more than that number of people taken in off the street and put behind the desks and factory equipment. This is how herd biologists manage inputs (studies) for decision making today.

    1. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I keep asking you the practical question about what herd infrastructure does in the real world of wildlife management on a landscape inhabited by man, and you keep giving evasive answers that most of the academic community will not acknowledge as credible. Unless we embrace the plot of Tom Clancy’s book Rainbow Six as becoming a reality, I just don’t see what your observations give us. By the way, I hope his book is made into a movie we both would probably enjoy, especially if it had a different ending.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      I think you are probably right. Idaho Fish and Game, with their emphasis on numbers, pretty much sees elk as livestock with one substituting for another. They are all the same except for sex, age class, and antler size.

      As for me, wildlife are not alternative livestock. That farming concept of nature needs to be stamped out.

  49. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Why don’t you punch in the name humans instead of wolves and then see what they have caused in lower body weights, calf recruitment and being pushed into unfavorable habitat. I’d say humans wins head and tails over any impact from “unregulated” wolf numbers.

    1. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse

      I will agree with you on some of that, especially regarding winter habitat and the effects of livestock. Until we can reclaim some of that winter range that the cows chew down in summer, and the ranchette/recreational home owners that stressor will continue. Some is attributable to hunters too, but I don’t see that elk or deer being pushed around the woods in the fall by them is going away soon.

  50. Jay Avatar

    Ok WM, you cite the MT FWP study to support your points, but you conveniently ignore their statement that the effects of human hunters on pushing elk around is greater than that of wolves.

    1. Elk275 Avatar

      Hunters in Montana push elk around for 37 days the third Saturday in Oct (which is new) to the fourth Sunday in November. Then the guns are silent and the hunters are gone. The wolves are there 365 days a year 10 times as long as the hunters are. I think that wolves are better hunters than human hunters.

    2. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I do not “conveniently” ignore it at all. And, the MT study I referenced was looking at wolf-ungulate interactions, but acknowledges there are other dimensions to the story, bears and hunters, for example. Hunters pushing elk around has been happening for a long time, over the last fifty years, and wildlife agencies have built that into their management strategies and harvest objectives. They are, to a large extent, managing the elk resource for hunters, and hunters kill elk. Obviously there are adverse effects, that have increased or decreased depending on how many hunters, and how and where they get access, and for how long. Hunters are in the woods spread out over, what, two to three months, with rest periods between short seasons. Wolves are there 24-7-12, constantly on the search for a meal, and they are new to the landscape in increasing numbers over a short period of time.

      As wolf populations increase they will be taking higher percentages of total allowable elk mortality, which means hunters will likely take less, if local herds are to be kept at threshold levels. Wolves (maybe bears and lions) and hunter harvests are the things wildlife agencies can control. They cannot control the weather. They cannot control the amount of year-round habitat, or even critical winter range (there is that ugly livestock issue again).

      There was also a thread a couple of weeks back in which people talked about management that stopped seasonal vehicle access on logging roads on one hand, and on the other hand, the access that increased with ATV’s.

    3. spanglelakes Avatar

      Hunting starts Labor Day in Idaho with the stinked up, face-painted archery army riding their ATV’s to get as far in to back country so they can bugle in an elk, or better yet a wolf. Once September is over, the special hunts begin, and then the big rifle season starts for deer and elk. Black powder/muzzle loader is next in November. Then depredation hunts start and ranchers and their buddies can kill a pregnant cow elk w/o having to get out of their big Dodge Ram pickup trucks, or off their ATV.

      Wolves hunt to live, unlike any of the above.

    4. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      And in between those entries to the woods by evil, disgusting, hunters you so vividly describe, there are closed seasons for a week to two weeks, sometimes more, reducing the actual time for hunting by a third to half. In fact, some individual game management untis do not get the “full monty” or all those seasons that you describe. And, don’t forget that some of those seasons have restrictions on which game animals can be taken. Bull only, spike, three point or better, cow only, as well as restriction on the method of take, and quotas on who even gets a license to hunt for some of the seasons/harvests. This is all done to manage the population, and demographics of herds (sex and age structure). Then the wolves are superimposed on the top of this management scheme and change everything. Not only do they take the weak and injured, the take the young of the year with no discrimination as to sex. If the numbers of wolves are smaller it is easier to manage for hunters, if the numbers of wolves are larger, in combination with other factors, the problems such as are describe in the introduction article for this thread begin to dominate the management discussion. What is the tolerance for wolves? How many is too many or too few in a given area?

    5. Jay Avatar

      The average pack of wolves (lets say 8 wolves, as per Idaho’s wolf report) occupies 250-300 square miles. They may make a kill every 2-4 days, meaning an elk is at risk from hunting wolves very infrequently. Even if that pack were apart 100% of the time (which obviously isn’t the case), elk within that packs home range would only be contending with 8 wolves (give or take a few dispersers). In contrast, the same 250-300 square miles could have several hundred hunters equitably dispersed across that area during the hunting season. Now if you’re an elk, who are you going to fear most? The pack of wolves occupied eating their meal 15 miles away, or any number of hunters that can literally kill you 500 yards away by a supersonic bullet that will blow your internals apart before the sound even reaches you? Elk can and do fight off wolves, but not too many win that battle with a bullet. Ever watch wolves that aren’t hunting walk through elk? The elk raise their heads, but if the wolves aren’t on the hunt, they don’t run. Now, compare that with people walking into elk–they run, and they run far. What’s that tell you about the perception of danger between wolves and people by elk?

    6. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      You may get somebody gullible who has not watched elk behavior change drastically in the presence of wolves, over the last five years to believe your scenario. But it is simply not true. Elk are wary of wolves ALL THE TIME.

      Where I have been observing them, elk DO NOT use traditional elk trails anymore, they are incredibly wary, and the do not stay in the open for very long. They are always on the move (true, they may not move far). You can sometimes hear them, but cannot see them, in the thicker timber and brush where they can more easily evade their predator group pursuers.

      I am going to say the research generally supports this perception more than your scenario.

      And, the BS about 500 yard shots, is in fact much rarer than you allege. It appears its in there for the dramatic effect.

    7. Jay Avatar

      Well Wilderness, where you watch trails, I have personally seen on numerous occasion wolves and elk interact, without the elk hysteria/mass panic that you insert for dramatic effect. And if you’re really that gullible to think 500 yard shots aren’t happening (maybe not terribly common, but it does happen frequently), then you need to talk with your local game warden and get his/her side of the story.

      “I am going to say the research generally supports this perception more than your scenario”–

      “Most data collected during winter indicate that wolves have small-scale effects on elk distribution (displacement of up to approximately 1 km upon contact) and movement
      rates (increased movement rates of approximately 1.23 km per every 4 hours). Wolves may also affect elk habitat selection and group sizes, but the magnitude and
      direction of these effects is widely variable among wintering areas and even among habitats in the same wintering area. Where the impacts of hunting, hunter access, and
      wolves have been studied simultaneously, the impacts of hunting and hunter access on elk distribution, movements, group sizes, and habitat selection have been larger
      than the effects of wolves.”

    8. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I do not know whether you saw my post earlier this morning directly to Spangle and you, before you posted yours above. It is on the newer comment page which follows (an unintended hazard of this forum with the new page break, and the Reply feature).

      I guess the big variable is the time of year, which I should have mentioned and failed to do so. I will admit to being loose with my comment. There usually is no human hunting in winter, with its attendant deep snow (you may find a rare exception in a very few game management units, depending on the state). Wolves do hunt elk in winter, in fact their bodies are designed for it when they need the nutritional source the most. Given the survival mode elk are in at that time, they have little choice many times to stand around then as the perceived weaker ones are targeted. No doubt, body posture and numbers of wolves also play a key role in individual elk response to whether an immediate threat is perceived. The dumber and weaker ones get eaten first. As I said, the rest of the year is the time for constant heightened avoidance, or when on the ground conditions permit the elk to flee from the threat of predation. I will again point you in the direction of the work of Dr. Scott Creel at MSU.

      I will take issue with some of your stats of 8 wolves with a take of one elk 2-4 days. First not all attacks on elk are immediately successful. I think, even as few as one in four, might result in a kill. Unsuccessful attacks still contribute to the avoidance behavior. Second, your math seems a bit conservative. Even at 1 elk every 2 days, it comes out to be less than 180 days/2 elk/day/8 wolves = 12 elk/wolf for the Nov – April period. This is less than 16, which seems to be the average for that period. And we know they eat more from May to October, although throught summer they consume more small mammals. No doubt, if the wolves can find an elk already dead from winter kill or other causes they will chow down on those as they are found. That means a live one lives a bit longer, and the average goes down. It is back of the napkin math, but just wanted to point out the limits.

      Jay, I’m not looking for a fight, just sharing of good information. And, it is clear we have different anecdotal experiences. Do see my comment on the nasty 500 yard shots that nobody should be taking.

    9. Jay Avatar

      I did see your comments on the long range plinkers, and agree 100%. Nor am I looking for an argument–and I do agree with you to the extent that wolves have impacts. However, where I disagree is the extent of impacts. My main beef is the constant fingerpointing by hunters at wolves, blaming them for everything under the sun: sport killing, decimating elk populations, constant harassment of the prey, etc. I would contend that hunters are every bit, if not more, guilty of all these things. Humans are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to blaming predators for the things we do in spades. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time being able to watch wolf-elk interactions, and while it’s not exactly a friendly relationship, the two species seem to co-exist fairly well. Yes, elk get chased once in a while, and one will get eaten every couple of days, but wolves move around quite a bit and spread the “joy”, so a herd of elk in a pack’s territory may not encounter that pack for weeks, even months. After all, the two co-evolved, it’s not like elk are not adapted to dealing with predators.

  51. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    As far as human impact any human hunted elk is also impacted out of season…tremendously. Most of the elk of Yell. migrate out, get shot at, and then are gun shy of all humans 12 months a year. Thus when back packers start hiking up Pelican Valley it pushes all the elk out of the breezy mosquito limiting open areas and forces them into mosquito heaven environments.

    The same thing happens on all high country open areas such as the Gallatins big horn pass-fawn pass country. All gone, hundreds of them with the second trip in by humans that summer.

    So you see there is a LOT of residual impact going on for all the months before and after the hunting seasons.

    The native americans would not allow members of their tribes to hunt elk or buffalo during the calving and young dependent calf times of spring and summer…..and their hunting was a lot smaller in blue print than any of the modern swarms of humans.

    They knew if these matriarchal units were hunted then they would permanently move away.

    The NOLS groups and seekers of wilderness have severely disrupted the high elevation summer time elk cow-calf groups. Now if there was no hunting it wouldn’t phase those elk.

    And to compare with wolves humans are much more impacting. Unless there are large concentrations of dysfunctional elk wolves have to make 7-10 day hunting circles in order to be successful in suprising and overtaking elk. The elk have to be settled down no different than any outfitter knows in order to keep elk in THEIR public ranch.

    Now an elk knows single or two’s of wolves means little of danger, but they fear every single human . And since there are a lot more humans covering this elk countries summer terrain they all affect elk, whether in or out of season.

    Thus I can say, wolves cause a lot less negative disruption of elk than humans. So says I.

  52. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    ++Most of the elk of Yell. migrate out, get shot at, and then are gun shy of all humans 12 months a year. ++

    Bob, you really need to get out more. Over the years I have observed elk in and out of several national parks, or other areas where they have been hunted and left to go to their winter habitat (such as it is), aqnd to their summer ranges. Let me see, Rocky Mountain NP, where alot just hang out in Estes Park. Mt. Rainier, Olympic, North Cascades, the Greys River/ Salt River in western WY, Uncompagrahe Plateau in CO. There are more, I just can’t think of them right now. The elk adapt to changing conditions very quickly. When they know when to perceive humans as a threat, as in the hunting season, and they know when humans leave them alone the other nine months of the year. And they know when to perceive four legged predators as threats – usually all the time.

    I will guess Valius Geist would probably agree with me, more than you, but he is just a well respected, main stream behavioral biologist who spent an entire lifetime studying elk behavior.

    Again, the wolves are there 24-7-12, most of the time looking for a meal, except summer when the elk are at their physical best, and tough to get (except some of the calves). Other qualifieid elk behavioral biologists have said, the elk do not stay in the open, stick to steeper ground and at higher elevations losing weight while eating browse, when wolves are present. Elk transfer this behavior of avoidance gained from being around wolves to people, and that is why it is more difficult to hunt elk in some areas, than it was say 5 to 10 years ago, depending on where the wolves are. I bet it is even becoming more difficult to see elk in other times of the year in areas where wolves are now. They still seek the steeper ground, at higher elevation with more cover, to keep from being easy targets for the wolves.

  53. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I agree herd animals are adaptive but at the same time one needs to recognize the difference in animals that go to humans to seek safety and those that are based in wildlands. The Pelican and Big Horn pass examples I talk of are just that.

    The herd animals the Indians hunted were always wildlands based, thus their forbidding tribal members from hunting in the sensitive spring-summer time periods.

    And during winter, survival from the elements takes precedence over all else. In these times the elk and bison would stay amoungst the tepees sometimes even thought the tribe was continuing to shoot them out of the teepe door opening. The only saving herd survival is that during winters herd animals split up into smaller core families…thus not all the immediate area herds were affected or decimated. Of course herd animals behavior mirrored humans also as the larger indegenous tribes also split up into the same smaller core family “herds”.

    So again there was balance….not the abnormalities of behavior of the dysfunctional herds you use as examples.

  54. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Well Bob – we agree. Well not totally. I have pondered for some time the issue of human impact on elk long after hunting season is over. Thru my observations in spring,summer and early fall I would agree that human presence is much more disruptive to hunted elk herds than most people realize. More so than wolves – not on board with that.

  55. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Now that you mention the safety aspect, it seems to me there was an issue last year – discussed here in fact- in which elk moved in to Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone Park HQ to get away from the wolves. The wolves then came in to pursue, and Park rangers had to intercede with cracker shells and maybe even rubber bullets. The elk seemed to like it there and were not in any hurry to move. There was concern that wolves might get aggressive with humans, and a biting incident might ensue.

  56. Jay Avatar

    What happens to all the previous posts? I just see today’s…

    1. cc Avatar

      Under the most recent post is a link in blue “<Older comments".

  57. Mgulo Avatar

    Bob Jackson:


    Where do you get the idea that native Americans didn’t hunt bison during calving? That flies in the face of the traditional spring hunts that took place in April and May when calves are small. Traditionally Indians who didn’t hunt, pretty much didn’t eat due to the lack of convenient refrigerators. I could be wrong, I often am, but I’ve never heard this particular line before and I grew up on a Res.

  58. spanglelakes Avatar

    Wilderness Muse – I don’t know where you are watching elk, but what you say isn’t always the case. I’ve seen wolves around elk over 150 days in the past few years. I’ve watched wolves walk right past elk. Seen and photographed elk that stood 100 yards away and not moved, after wolves had taken down a elk out of the herd.

    Yes, the elk can be edgy, nervous, but after awhile got back to eating, laying down. Some of the smarter elk do leave the area or go to higher ground. But most elk don’t seem to be much smarter than cattle.

    As for shooting elk at 500 yards. Look at some of the hunter blogs that are advertising rifles that can kill at 1000 yards. I saw a bull elk shot at least 600 yards out from the hunter this fall. It was wounded, and after what sounded like an army of more rounds, finally tumbled a 100 feet down a mountainside and died. Wonder how that blood shot meat tasted.

    1. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse

      Spangle & Jay,

      After I posted last night, I realized I should have acknowledged that the wolves among the elk behavior in winter occurs. Yes, I know it does. Are you speaking of the balance of the year? There is no place for the elk to easiy go in deep snow. The wolves with their huge snowshoe paws and lighter weight clearly have the advantage. The elk have to conserve energy, and wasted effort to attempt escape would likely be futile. You probably have noticed they are also less affected by the presence of humans, as well. Herded up and on winter range, sometimes, just as timz observed, like ants on the hillside. You can sometimes even see them in cow pastures, herded up close, maybe even waiting for somebody to throw them some hay. Survival is a big motivator. On the other hand, the remainder of the year, the strong wolf avoidance behavior is dominant.

      Spangle, much to the dismay of many of us this long distance shooting crap does occur. The arms and ammunition manufacturers keep pushing it, and so do the horn porn hunting shows on cable TV. It is disgusting, and I think it shouldn’t be allowed. Clearly in the unethical hunting catagory in my view. I would like to see regulatoins against it. I still think it is not that common. but undoubtedly an emotional and worthy talking point.

  59. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I’ve given enough talks to the ITBC and Indian colleges to know Indian knowledge of herd animals today is nothing compared to before. Their bison herds are managed just like whitemans cattle.

    And overall the native hunters today are like white folks…..a buzz from hunting and killing. I’m sorry to say the knowldge and respect for wildlife has not been passed on. Too much dysfunction and breakup of native extended families to allow the abstract parts of life to flourish.

    And yes, the indigenous peoples all over the world knew not to hunt the matriarchal female component during the spring and early summer…….before the rut natives hunted bull groups…when young males were in best shape. Of course without you knowing how herd animals are structured I am going to give you a “pass” on your lack of understanding how your ancestors hunted, Mugala

  60. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    I forgot to add that ALL bison were hunted in the spring if these bison did not belong to them.Common ground and hunting on rival tribal lands meant the same rape and pilage and scorched earth policy as known by all peoples.

  61. Mgulo Avatar

    Bob Jackson:

    Thanks for he condescending answer to a legitimate question. Guess that settles something.

  62. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Settles what, the dust? Actually what teed me off was the suppointerpreted attitude of you growing up on a res. Like you instinctively had a better rapport with nature or something.

    Just because I am white doesn’t mean I am in with the kings of past in Europe. A few stories here and there passed on over the camp fire doesn’t mean much to me.

    I particularly dislike the ole ” Yes, see how the bull is stepping out of the herd so he can give his life to us (oh annointed one)”.

    I see this event on tv documented where the red man Chetenne in this case) is ready with his gun and I also like kind superiority repeating this same right over animals at too many indigenous events.

    My take is a lot different and I consider a bit more humble. The bull steps out, no different than the head of any human household steps out to “greet” the stranger. The male is there to protect the rest no matter what the species.

    You see this in the movies and it happened all the time in very stessful situations in recordings of the German concentration camps. When the men were all gone…dead… you still had the 12 year old boy stepping out to protect…even if all he had was a inch diameter stick.

    It is evolutionary and still another characteristic of species evolutionary development. Tell me what dust is settled? As doc holiday said in that cult movie, Tombstone,” Why Ike does this mean we are not friends?”

    1. Andy Avatar

      I give up… I admit it… you got me. Can you help me with the definition of “suppointerpreted?” I tried Google and Merriam Webster On Line… They can’t find it either. I attended a State University as opposed to a private school… so I’m blaming them for the difficulty with this one.

  63. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears

    Don’t feel bad Andy, I have the same problem with some of what Bob writes, and I have a Masters from a State University as well as graduating from a Military academy!

    1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
      Robert Hoskins


      You mean you’re a West Pointer? Very few of those in SF.


  64. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Andy & SB

    I have a laptop that sometimes malfunctions. When I put the cusor on different areas of the writings sometimes the changes are made and other times just part of it…or it may put parts of sentences in different locations.

    I don’t try to make these posts on Ralphs site into peer review papers….. so close to original first rough draft is what ends up here anyway.

    And it isn’t like I stay within the bounds of conventional thought as, for example, WM does. The need to have my mind stay focused on thoughts means I can’t get tied up in proper grammer. Otherwise the creativity diminishs and thoughts dissapear. As I shoot from the hip some things get missed when the laptop has “a mind of its own”.

    In the particular “suppointerpreted” case I originally had the word, “superior”, down but thought it was not the best choice of words. Thus I changed it to the less harsh, “interpreted” and deleted superior…or so I thought.

    A fine asian meal was beckoning in the kitchen and the word was to get there “now”. Thus, one clicks the submit and viola we have a new word in the dictionary, I guess.
    After supper I came back, saw this way out word…and immediately thought, do I make another post to explain or do I just leave it uncorrected and see what happens. The mischievous side of me won out. Ta Da.

    But, also, maybe it is time to get another laptop.

    1. Andy Avatar

      Elegant reply Bob! I’ve just always blamed it on fat fingers or the chair to keyboard interface.

      One of the issues that I see in blogs and in email is that the inability of the writer to show physical expression leaves the reader with only the words to interpret. Certainly the passion of the writers feelings are often missed. As a result, messages that are often meant as simple questions, replies or even detailed responses to clarify points, are often viewed as terse or worse (Terse or worse? Longfellow would be proud !)

      I’m glad the mischievous side won out… LOL… it gave me the opportunity to reply. It also gave me the opportunity to step into the middle of the Mgulo/bob Jackson dialog and simply say that from the view of an outside observer… well… comic relief seemed to be in order.

      On another subject, you had an earlier post (please forgive the paraphrase) discussing the “herd biologists” and how you can’t just look at the numbers, you need to look at the culture of the herd. Your comments to Mgulo discussed quite clearly the “family” nature of both bison and human and the inherent “need” for the male to protect. I have to admit that it was an interesting description. This is obviously an area with which you have a great deal of passion. Have you had any successes in getting the professional community (wildlife biologist) to address the concept of herd “culture”?

  65. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Sorry to say my academic “peers” are the least flexible of all resource management professions when it comes to acknowledging anything other than counting multiples of herd animal individuals. And even when they do the studies that show this social culture exists they are brain dead to proceed to the next step and think of how loss or disruption of this evolutionary need in herd animals adversely affects the very animals and their ecological sustainability….. they supposedly care so much about.

    The closest I see even acknowledging culture is the BEHAVE initiative I am a part of at Utah State University(with Idaho, Montana State and Arizona as contributing schools). And these folks are mostly interested in cattle and sheep!!!

    Biologists can’t get it in their noggins, no matter what the brain matter underneath this armor, because they have superiority of man over beast to get around….so it just ain’t happening.

    If you care to read more on my “views”, a few years ago Tod Wilkinson did a 6 part interview with me on New West.Net.

    Of course what I talk of is nothing new. Every hunter-gatherer society understood this need for herds to have family social order. The reason every member of a tribe knew this is because how the herd animals were structured was exactly how they were themselves.

    Will it happen? This basic change of understanding herd animals???? Not until present day man changes his relationship with the food he kills and eats.

    1. Andy Avatar


      I saw the Wilkinson articles on line… downloaded them for a thorough read, but have only scanned one so far. I will take the time to read them properly.

      One thought comes to mind and that was something you said about a bison “family” group. I have always seen bison bulls separate from the females and the calves, very similar to elk. So I had trouble with the concept of the bull moving out to “protect” or investigate a potential threat to his “family.” Was that an over simplification or are you suggesting that Bison prefer “family” units?

      I’m looking forward to the Wilkinson series.

  66. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Bob Jackson,

    Now that you have Andy engaged in the topic you and I have been discussing for the past few months, do be sure to introduce him to the books you find useful on the topic.

    I am also still waiting for your answer to my question regarding your opinion of Dr. Valarius Geist’s book, Buffalo Nation (1998). I raised the question on another thread, when Robert Hoskins said he thought it was one of Geist’s better books, and which Geist agreed. Apparently it did not sell well because it didn’t have a hunter audience. I am hoping it includes some bison behavioral biology.

    Some who post here do not like Dr. Geist because of his views on wolves. He is, however, a highly repected ungulate biologist, specializing in elk and elk behavior, but apparently knows quite a bit about bison.

    Bob, is it a good read, and should I buy the book? I think I can get one used on Amazon for less than $10,

  67. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I should make clear just what kind of book Buffalo Nation is. It is not a scientific work and was not intended to be. It is a popular book that goes alongside other fine popular books Dr Geist has written on big game species. The target audience for these popular books is primarily hunters.

    What Dr Geist told me about the poor sales of the book even though he felt it was the best of big game species books is that he felt bison didn’t have a strong constituency among hunters, contrary to elk and bighorn sheep that do have strong hunter constituencies.

    To my knowledge, Dr Geist has not conducted intensive scientific research on bison. His work has focused on the evolutionary biology of the deer family and bighorn sheep, with a particular attention to their evolution during the Pleistocene, or the Ice Age. He is now retired and lives on Vancouver Island.



  68. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Thanks for the clarification on Geist’s buffalo book.

    Bob Jackson,

    Back to you. I am still in search of an ungulate behavioral biology text or scientific paper(s) which move away from traditional matriarchal views of herd structure and toward those of stronger patriarchal participation, and family structure. It would be helpul to have more evidence of either bison or elk bulls guarding the herd from afar. Any further suggestions, beyond Dale Lott and Barnsess? Is there anything in the Buffalo Field Campaign – Conservation Bibliography that might help?

    By the way, there was a short one paragraph desciption in Lott’s book about a bison calf with cow seeking refuge from a four wolf attack in cluster of 15 bulls. His description suggested the cow and calf WENT TO the bullls for protection, hiding amongst them, in an 11 hour seige in Wood Buffalo Park. He says the bulls then did charge the wolves a few times, and perceived they surrounded the calf. So much for patriarchal iniatiative, according to Lott (p. 103).

    Lott also makes a sarcastic observation about wolves taking the buffalo young. In Wood Buffalo Park wolves kill only buffalo calves through the summer.

    “……By fall half or more of each spring’s calves have fed wolves….It is not like the wolves are doing this population some good by weeding out the unfit, unless being young and unlucky is a form of unfitness. The calves being weeded out are the unlucky plus, perhaps, a few that are a little short of specifically wolf-resistant traits – for example, alsways keeping somebody else between you and the wolves, or always having a tough and resourceful adult at your side. When mixed herds -cows and bulls together- travel, cows and their calves tend to journey in the safest area, front and center.”

  69. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Do you really care to know? And as for matriarchal units even Yellowstone biologists of ten years ago…and many other bison type biologists say, “We see some asociation beyond calves…up to yearlings”.

    Since seeing my presentations they (Yel. biologists) now say there may be something to it but studies need to be done to see if it is so. In other words put the spin so it is again original discovery.

    Matriarchal to me means all blood related ages. And as far as patriarchal envolvement one has to be a real zero to believe evolution has left out the male in upbringing when there is matriarchal components wandering around out there.

    Of course Southern plantation owners also only acknowledged the matriarchal component in their slave population. So this means the human race has come a long ways in 140 years, right?

    The key to all lack of understanding is superiority attitudes. If one “uses” it means lack of respect. And with loss of respect blame or subordination..or believing in master races ….come into play. Abuse always means the abuser blames the abused.

    With what I see, most biologists feel superiority to the species they study or “manage” (Until they can think of themselves as brothers keepers there is no chance of equality and finally answers) and hunters feel these animals were placed on earth for their “use”. Thus the closest these professionals will ever get is identification of matriarchal units.

    Carried over a bit closer to home, christianity or any religon based on the woes of the overpopulated will always subordinate a segment of their population. its just another way that species adjusts thought to eventually bring their population down.

    And as for Geists book on bison I think I have it in my library but don’t think I have read it yet. But if he is the same one the Park contracted to look at the affects of snowmobiles on bison and elk I’d have to say from what I read in those reports he doesn’t have a clue of what bison infrastructure is made of.

    And concerning Lott I think he had repressed sexuality. He gets into it a bit too much with his discription of the mounted bull making his final, deep penetration. Pervert, maybe???


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

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Ken Cole