2009 Northern Rockies wolf report is out today

Long awaited official USFWS report on wolves is released-

Here is a brief AP story on some of the report’s conclusions. Folks should note that with the larger wolf population figures of recent years and the effects of the hunting seasons, the population estimate, and the especially estimate of the number of breeding pairs of wolves, undoubtedly are known with less precision than in the past.

Here is the link to the actual report, or more accurately, reports. http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt09/index.html


  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    The graph for Idaho shows a minor decline in the wolf population. I don’t think it is statistically significant. At this time last year they were saying 846 but they have updated last year’s to 856 to account for a pack of 10 they discovered since. Now they are saying that there are 843 in Idaho.

    However, it is the first year that there has been no growth in the wolf population and a possible decline. This does not take in to account how many wolves have been killed since the end of the year which is another 37 46.

    1. Rtobasco Avatar

      Typical – read and interpret what you want to see. No different than myself I suppose. You saw 843 as opposed to 846 the previous year. I saw 49 breeding pairs – up ten from last year’s reported 39. Would seem wolves are faring quite well. Seems to me the trend is leaning toward continued growth of a population that is already more than triple the targeted numbers originally set forth.

  2. Cindy Avatar

    Well this will make some interesting weekend reading. Of course as the good pro-wolfer that I am, I go straight to the stats to see what’s up. In the entire region, the total number of cattle killed by wolves in the past 15 years is 1,300. The total number of cattle in the region is over 6 million. I cannot fathom what the big problem is. If I can’t overcome something in the structure of my small business that cost me .00026% of my profit I don’t deserve to be a business owner. Hold up now. I understand and really do sympathize with smaller operators that could be wiped out by any wolf depredation at any level but please, let’s try and educate our neighbors. I summons all pro-wolf folks to learn how to play nice and go out in droves to try and come to a reconciliation with the other side. The science has to prevail someday–doesn’t it?

    1. JimT Avatar

      No, not when it comes to emotionally laden issues like wolves…and climate change..that can and should mean changes in the status quo for the traditional power centers. I wish science would triumph, but ultimately, humans are emotional beings, not cognitive.

  3. Si'vet Avatar

    Cindy if haven’t had a chance watch the movie Saving Private Ryan. 3 soldiers killed out of 250,000 sad but not a show stopper, 3 of 4 sons killed from the same family a very very sad deal, action needed to be taken. A small percentage of the total number are raised in areas where they are vulnerable to wolf predation. The loss is not equally dispersed.

  4. Cindy Avatar

    Oh please, let’s not compare the loss of our beautiful sons and daughters fighting wars to the loss of cows, livelihood or not. Next, maybe it’s time to have less cows altogether on our western landscape? Lastly, my point is, wolves are here to stay, now let’s figure out how to play nice.

  5. Cindy Avatar

    And, what a strange coincidence, 1300 cows killed, nearly 1300 wolves killed…that sounds like one for one.

  6. Si'vet Avatar

    I am sorry you misunderstood, I was in no way comparing the loss of sons to cows. The example: a few losses evenly dispersed over a large number isn’t good but it can be absorbed. Those same losses absorbed by a few operators is a big deal. Your right wolves are here to stay. I eat meat, including cattle so I prefer to have meat available as a food choice. I also live in a country where I have the freedom to have that choice, along with many others.

  7. Cindy Avatar

    Thanks, I did understand the example. I use to love beef but just had to give it up entirely two years ago. First, due to the unacceptable abuse the Yellowstone Buffalo herd took that year, and second in memory of the 13 wolves killed in the Cora, Wyoming area in the first 3 days of delisting. The only thing about that killing spree, it got them back on the list until my state gets it together enough to present a descent plan.

  8. Si'vet Avatar

    I applaud your stances, I quit purcahsing Kraft products 20 years ago. At one of their plants, they had a meeting and told everyone their jobs were secure. A family I knew purchased a fishing boat, a few weeks later the father was laid off, they eventually lost the boat/home etc. Have a good weekend. cheers

  9. Cindy Avatar

    I just printed off all the reports and charts in their entirety and now we’ll see what the government thinks is going on with wolves.

    1. Jay Barr Avatar
      Jay Barr

      You discounted sheep losses, though they are as miniscule in the overall picture as cattle. You also haven’t factored in that not all wolf-caused losses are discovered, so these figures are minimums. I doubt if there have been/are any livestock operators that have been pushed to the brink of economic collapse due to wolf depredations. Sure, some (if not all) have had losses that definitely put a dent in the pocket book that they’d rather not have had. But as you point out, the eye-for-an-eye # of wolf deaths per livestock lost is startling– and it’s going to get worse with ID’s recent announcement that they are going to be much more aggressive with lethal control. MTFWP’s allowance of WS to act on their own in the first 24 hrs. after a depredation could also mean increased wolf deaths there.

  10. Cobra Avatar

    Still missing some wolves in North Idaho.

    1. Phil Maker Avatar
      Phil Maker

      Do you really expect them to be able to count every one? Get real. Sign in to IDFG’s report website and give them a clue.

    2. Cobra Avatar

      I realize they can’t count every wolf or any other animal out there. All I said is they’re missing some wolves, the local wardens have heard where some of these are. I think the wardens may be getting tired of hearing about them. Just like some of the rest of us. They’re here now so lets move on. Keep the season and let the ranchers fend for themselves.

  11. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears

    Jay Barr,

    I can guarantee you it is not minuscule, to those who have lost the animals, I think that is were some of us loose focus, and I am not against wolves at all, I am for a balanced ecosystem, but loosing cattle and sheep is a pretty big deal to those who experience it…and I know, all other sources kill more animals than wolves.

    1. Jay Barr Avatar
      Jay Barr

      As you can see from the post, I clearly stated that individual producers could be impacted (“…have had losses that definitely put a dent in the pocket book…”). What is a “balanced ecosystem?” Livestock producers have had the run of the land, primarily wolf-free, for at least the past 60-70 yrs. In order to balance this, I suggest no more public lands grazing for the next 60-70 yrs. That will give things a chance to “balance” out; wolf-native ungulates will find their equilibrium (though such a thing doesn’t exist in the time frames being “managed” for nowadays and considering this goes against the sell-as-many-tags-as-possible philosophy of F&G depts.) and the nation will realize that the percentage of beef that currently comes from public lands won’t be missed at all.

  12. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    The only thing about that killing spree, it got them back on the list until my state gets it together enough to present a descent plan.

    When do you suppose that will be Cindy?

    For those of you who mentioned the small percentage of ranchers who do take the larger hit, I agree that is a problem. Part of it can be solved by keeping cattle and sheep off of public lands.

  13. jon Avatar

    Pro wolf, I agree with you 100%. Cattle should be kept of public lands.

  14. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears


    I am 100% in favor of no more public grazing, have always been. I would like to see public lands turned back over to the public.

  15. Alan Gregory Avatar

    “Wild Wolf Film.” Good site promoted by New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

  16. dewey Avatar

    Just an offhand question for anyone in WY-MT-ID who still thinks Wolves are putting cattlemen and sheepherders out of business. Where else on Earth will the government repay you seven times over for losing a cow or sheep to a predator ? That’s the Wolf depredation compensation rate in Wyoming. Lose a single cow to El Lobo and you get paid for it, and six more for your trouble …

    I have to agree with George Wuerthner’s wry comment a few months ago: ” We need to get Wolves off welfare”. Meaning the ranchers and sheepherders have to quit feeding them the easy take of dumb slow bovines and untended ovids so the wolves go back to hunting wild game, as they are supposed to…

  17. Si'vet Avatar

    Not all deperedation is on public land, many private ranches border public land and those operators take a hit as well. As for compensation, that is a coin toss on whether you can prove it or not, most kills have been scavenged and scattered, tough to prove in many cases. I agree that removing public land grazing will reduce some predation and improve habitat, the key is how do we balance until public grazing is gone, which I doubt will happen in the life time of those who participate here. The first wolf kill I actually witnessed was in the Lemhi Valley, 30 ft. from the carcass was the ranchers grandsons big wheel tricycle, and I paced the wolf off at 51 paces from the back porch. Those are the folks who will be making a big run at the loss in Alaska if that proves to be the case.

  18. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    I just finished Predatory Bureaucracy by Robinson. i recommend it to everyone. To Dewey’s point, I emailed Steuber the head of Montana WS. A few days later I received a response from a rancher and his wife who sent photos and a copy of an ad that was posted in a Missoula newspaper last year. You would think that this was circa 1917 all over again by the response. I didn’t realize that funding was stripped for WS and their lethal control methods in 1998 or so after Fazio wrote and amendment, but it was overturned. They did it once they could do it again.

  19. Si'vet Avatar

    Ralph, one thought I’ve had, and I wasn’t sure the right time to bring it up, and the reason I do folks may have discussed previously and already know the downsides. As many know there are huge tracks of land in many states that are in the CRP program, basically farmers are subsidised not to plant. Most of this ground sits idle and is covered with creasted wheat, bunch grass and fox tail. Much of it backs up to public land. I believe the original thought was this rested ground would be good wildlife habitat. My findings, it holds a few sharptails. a hun or 2, but deer and elk utilize it very little, mostly in early spring then a little for cover later. My thought, we are paying farmers for ground left idle, and subsidizing ranchers on public land, with some quick seeding changes, some water troughs, and range riders, grazers could be picking up some of the CRP costs while grazing on private land, giving much need rest to public land, wildlife. Has this idea been approached, or discussed previously?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Si’vet, Interesting thought. What kind of use do you see on these areas for grassland song birds? I had previously heard from a friend that CRP in western Montana recieved little use by wildlife. It is my understanding that under the CRP, grazing is not currently allowed, but I have seen where this was waived in some states due to drought emergency conditions (need to help livestock). Any thoughts on how logistical this could be on a large scale? Sounds like your idea could be beneficial to both livestock and wildlife if managed properly.
      Fortunately in the upper midwest we see alot of wildlife use of CRP lands- waterfowl, pheasants, songbirds, whitetail deer, rabbits, and harriers benefit greatly by this program, also have seen some benefits for bobwhite quail, sharptail grouse and prairie chickens.

  20. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    I would say the reason little wildlife uses western CRP ground is the total lack of broadleaves being interseeded in with the grass seed. It used to be that way in the Midwest….farmers planting the cheapest grasses, and minus forbes, in order to get those yearly payments. Nothing used monocultures of brome grass.

    Now farmers must plant a mix of species. The broadleaves now present means insects have shelter from the weather and then pheasants, quail etc. are drawn by the insect food. Same for the herbivores. They like the seed heads of these broad leaves.

    I don’t know if it has changed “out west” but since the land is lesss fertile (thus less broadleaves) and ranchers falsely thought broadleaves were weeds it is harder to bring back the grassland vegetation pre whiteman. But the govt. should insist on it!!!

  21. Si'vet Avatar

    Carl, here’s my thoughts. Bob is correct about the needs of broadleaf and quality grasses. I have hiked through quite a bit of CRP over the years to access public land, in Idaho it is mice and moles that utilize it the most, foxes and coyotes utilize it to some extent. I would say meadow Larks are the most prevelant, and some sharp tail other than that it is mostly just large seas of desserted bunch grasses. When you get above these areas you find a lot more song bird activity in the brush and sagebrush. Here’s my thought, if a couple of enviro groups a few farmers and a couple of ranchers got together along with some govermental buy in you could do a one or 2 year test. Take a section of CRP, there are a lot of 10,000 acre plots. Early spring graze down a section hard, rotate cattle/sheep off, then reseed with quality seed, let it regrow, again it will take a little rotation, and monitoring, this land is dry land but so is the public land, I think after a few rotations (or controled burn) the grazing quality would almost be better than much of high desert public land currently used. For test purposes much of this land
    isn’t fenced, so you would need to have range riders (not a huge cost for the possible benefits) success would justify fencing). Water– in many areas on the desert water is trucked in to allow for grazing, in fact it was a job I had in high school. Filling a water truck and hauling water out on to the desert. Here’s what may be accomplished, 1 benfit to the enviroment, utilizing CRP land our tax dollars pay for anyway, 2 alternative to public land grazing, our dollars are subsidizing. There are literally 10’s of thousands of acres that could be utilized. I am sure it would need to start with the goverment, the time to propose my be ripe. Jimt would probably have some good input on legalities, and from what I’ve read on this site there are a lot of people with a lot of expertise in habitat improvement.

  22. Si'vet Avatar

    Carl forgot to add, I think getting sheep into this program would be the easiest place to start. Easier to transport, easier to manage on open range,less water. Right after lambing season in many southern areas, you could transport and rotate them on south facing CRP slopes. Also forgot to add sportsmans groups should surley get involved. It would be interesting to approach a politician with an idea that was supported by, farmers, ranchers, sportman, enviromental groups, bighorn sheep advocates. Oh the votes!!! Wouldn’t it be nice if stimulus money could have been used on a project like this.

  23. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    william huard,

    If you look at the USFWS 2009 Update Report ( http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt09/FINAL_AR_FWS_2009_Recovery_Program_Update.pdf )
    , nearly a third of the entire federal budget for the Wolf progam is for WS participation. $1.231 M for FY 2009 and 2010. The expenditures are broken down (See p. 5).

    There is also alot of good data on the various reimbursement programs, including Defenders of Wildlife expenditures, and each state’s program contributions.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan