Feature article on Washington State wolves
By Ralph Maughan On March 21, 2010 · 11 Comments · In Washington state wolves, Wolves
This is perhaps the most detailed article I have seen on the wolves of Washington State-
As the gray wolf recovers, who are its friends? By Daniel Jack Chasan. Crosscut.com
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.
11 Responses to Feature article on Washington State wolves
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Lots of information in this article; a good read.
In terms of potential wolf habitat in Washington, excluding Alaska, Washington is the only state that has 3 seperate wilderness areas that are each greater than 1 million acres. They are: the Olympic NP & NF complex, the North Cascades NP/Pasayten wilderness & the south part of the Cascades NP & Glacier peak wilderness. Given the fact that Washington is the smallest western state it may also contain the highest % of wilderness areas. The Olympic Pennisula that includes NP, NF, state forests, Indian reservations & large private timber tracts may be one of the largests areas in the west w/the lowest human population. Olympic NP has been reported to have the highest lion population in the west, in part due, to the low numbers of livestock as this is “timber” growing country.
Another point about Olympic NP, excluding the NP’s in Alaska, this is the only park in the west whose primary mission, in addition to elk protection, was to establish a “wilderness park”. There are no roads across the park as just a few roads penetrate it’s boundaries.
The only issue I have with re-introduction to the Olympics, is how do you ensure genetic connectivity between the various packs without human intervention? The genetic issue is such a big part of the NRM re-introduction, but yet, the Olympic offers no real natural chance with humans being involved. And the purpose of the ESA is to restore a species to the point of being viable without major human intervention. We seem to be applying a different set of rules in the case of the Olympics than we are anywhere else, and the genetics have become a problem back east..
I think people have to face it, but to have the benefits of wolves in some areas, you will have to have human intervention into their genetics (maybe artificial insemination). Maybe birth control will be needed too, but this is better than mindless killing and killing.
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This nice thing about Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is all the backcountry. This is the very thing the breeds the bad thing too, very parochial political interests. I’m trying to think of a simpler word here. . . . I mean there are too few organized groups and they are NOT tied to a backwards-looking economy. There is not enough political competition.
In large part, diversity is a function of the founding population. The problem in the NRs is that the Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone Recovery were founded with relatively few individuals; were the populations connected, diversity in both populations would benefit; sans connection, it suffers. To me the answer to Save Bears implicit question is to start the Olympic peninsula recovery with a larger founding population (i.e. reintroduce a greater number of wolves).
I think the consensus of biologists is that the central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone founding population was excellent. The effective population was both large and diverse. NW Montana was not so good, but that problem has been taken care by mixing from the new Idaho wolves.
The problem is that central Idaho has not effectively connected with Greater Yellowstone genetically, and the Greater Yellowstone population is also smaller.
I fully agree, the only thing that bothers me, is if we are going to argue one thing in court, then it shows a real weak argument when we change the rules in another area, that has been my only problem for years now with the push to re-introduce in the Olympics. The Olympics are a closed environment without any hope of natural genetic exchange..Do I think they could be beneficial, yes, do I think it is going to be easy, No I don’t, and it is completely opposite of the state goals of the ESA.
I honestly think if we re-introduce in the Olympics, we are going to end up with a similar situation as we have back east, and that is not good..sometimes man’s movement has made an environment that is not conducive to bringing animals back..
While it might be nice to have wolves on the Oly Peninsula, there is probably very little chance of it happening. The people there were severely put out, rightly or wrongly, by the spotted owl in the 80s and would not like to see another endangered species. Also, the Ratti et al. report from some years back concluded that the Peninsula could support only something like 56+ wolves (so JB’s “reintro more to negate the genetic diversity issue” isn’t really feasible since to reintro more than were brought into central ID already maxes out the entire area’s capability.
If the wolf can migrate from the Yellowstone area to Colorado crossing the “energy development areas” & interstate highways it can make it from the Cascade Mountains to the Western 1/4 of Washington that is mostly empty of towns with the exception of Aberdeen. Regardless of where one is, the wolf politics will always be an issue. But I agree that this is not a high priority area for the wolf.
(File where appropriate)
Here’s the latest local news on the Methow Valley wolf poaching case. http://methowvalleynews.com/story.php?id=3305 There hasn’t been much information on this case in quite some time, time enough in my mind to stir some uneasy doubts about the potential outcome (or non-outcome) of the case. When one considers the links one of these alleged poachers has had with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, one wonders to what extent departmental embarrassment or worse may be factoring into prosecution related decisions.