IDFG releases Video Summarizing Wolf Hunt

Cal Groen Claims that the balance in the Lolo “is completely out of whack”

People have been discussing this on another thread but I thought it deserved its own.

Some of the same old arguments on why even more wolves need to be killed next year are being made and how IDFG will allow even greater killing of wolves in the Lolo.

One notable comment made by Cal Groen is that the balance in the Lolo Zone “is completely out of whack”.

As JB points out:

The idea of “balance” is an ecological myth; it is disconcerting to see F&G agencies perpetuate this myth. Again, ecosystems are dynamic. To imply that populations are “out of whack” when they are changing suggests that there exists some ideal equilibrium between predator and prey. This simply is not true. Populations fluctuate and that fluctuation is natural. The real reason IDF&G wants to manipulate wolves is so that they can maximize elk hunting opportunities in these zones.

The following graphs show the trends in overall elk numbers in the Lolo Zone and are different from those presented here previously which showed harvest numbers. Harvest numbers are not a good representation of what is happening to the elk population because they are influenced by management decisions.

Elk numbers in Lolo Unit 12
Elk number in Lolo Unit 10

It is apparent from the graphs that something has been going on here for many years previous to wolves showing up. The video even explains that there has been changes in the habitat here but then goes on to implicate wolves as the reason that elk remain depressed. But WHY are wolves able to keep elk populations depressed here as opposed to other areas with wolves? The video doesn’t address this. Could it be the same reason that caused the decline in the elk population in the first place. Is it not possible that the habitat here just makes elk more vulnerable to wolf predation?

Another comment made is that the hunt is responsible for halting the 20% increases in population seen in previous years. Part of that may be true, the part about stopping the growth in the population but the rate of growth has been in steady decline for a number of years as the habitat filled with wolves and the 20% rate hasn’t been seen for several years. This same phenomenon has been seen in Yellowstone but to a greater degree. Wolves don’t “overpopulate” in the sense that a rabbit might. They may overshoot their resource but like in Yellowstone, their reproductive rate or success may be impacted by nutrition or outright killing by other wolves. Disease and parasites like parvo virus, distemper, and mange also played a role in Yellowstone.

Idaho wolf population growth rate
Idaho wolf population growth rate
Year Wolves Percent Growth
1994 3
1995 14 367%
1996 42 200%
1997 71 69%
1998 114 61%
1999 156 37%
2000 196 26%
2001 261 33%
2002 289 11%
2003 362 25%
2004 418 15%
2005 518 24%
2006 673 30%
2007 764 14%
2008 856 12%
2009 843 -2%



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  1. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Interesting how they acknowledge a bad winter but then go right to blaming wolves.

  2. pointswest Avatar

    According to the video, the Lolo herd has dropped from 16,000 elk to 2000 elk. This is all attributed to wolves and they give the number of wolves at 75 to 100. This is slightly unbelievable.

    For some simple arithmetic, let’s say we had a herd of 16,000 elk and we released 100 wolves among them. 16,000 elk means 8,000 cows. Cows do not calf until the 3rd year and some cows twin so the herd would probably produce something like 5000 calves every year. So 100 wolves are killing 5000 calves a year? They video said amost none were surviving. That is 50 calf elk per wolf.

    A study found the average weight of a calf by fall to be 298 pounds and typical birth weight is 40 pounds. So the average weight of an elk calf over the course of 1 year is 170 pounds. Let’s say 75% of the calf is edible by a wolf. That would be 128 pounds of edible food per calf.

    For simplicity, consider that to reduce the herd, wolves would need to kill ( and consume) at least the weight of all the new growth that would total 50 calves per wolf at 128 edible pounds per calf.

    Thus, according to the Fish & Game, the Lolo wolves are eating, 6,400 pounds of elk per year or 18 lbs per day per wolf.

    Sure they are….

    This is just if they were only killing and eating the calves. We know, however, that they also kill yearlings and full sized adults. So by the Fish & Games own numbers and comments, it would mean wolves are consuming over 25 pounds of elk per day per wolf.

    Yikes! …that’s some deep bullshit.

    1. ProWolf in WY Avatar
      ProWolf in WY

      It’s funny how simple mathematics doesn’t enter people’s minds. Anyone who passed junior high math should be able to figure this out.

  3. Jeff Avatar

    One thing that seems to get lost in all the rhetoric on both sides is that MT and ID both had successful regulated hunts and that a fair chase hunt, even with a long season, isn’t going to decimate or even control wolf populations.

    1. jon Avatar

      Next wolf hunting season if they have one, they are going to allow hunters to use calling devices and trapping and I have heard maybe even aerial gunning in the future, not done by hunters I would think. Hunters I believe will be allowed to kill 2 wolves each.

    2. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      what do you classify as “successful”?

  4. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    The trapping provision has not been finalized so hence is not allowed, and in what I am hearing, I suspect it won’t be allowed, as far as calling devices, this was allowed this year, you could use mouth blown calls. I seriously doubt hunters would use aerial gunning, besides being every expensive, all states have laws against shooting from aircraft, motor vehicles, etc.

    Where do you come up with this stuff?

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      When it comes to rules, regulations and hunting methods, a lot of things get discussed every year within game depts, most of it never gets passed. So just because it gets discussed and a newspaper prints the discussion, does not mean it will happen..

    2. jon Avatar

      They are considering trapping next hunting season and I believe it will happen. I have also heard they might allow hunters to kill 2 wolves each. Idaho fish and game wants the wolf population reduced save bears. As for aerial gunning, I heard this might be a possibility in the future. I believe Idaho fish and game will do whatever they can to reduce the wolf population. Don’t act like it’s not a possibility in the future save bears. If you read my last comment before this one, you would have seen that I wrote “I have heard maybe even aerial gunning in the future, not done by hunters I would think.”

  5. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    What they want and what they get is often times two completely different things, remember I used to work for a Game Dept, and I know what gets talked about and what the reality of things are..

    You made this statement, which at this time is not true:

    “Next wolf hunting season if they have one, they are going to allow hunters to use calling devices and trapping”

    But you made the statement as if it is already fact.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      And I did read you last statement before I posted, or I would not have posted what I did…


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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