Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought

Proposed Montana wolf hunt, now on hold, would have significantly reduced state’s wolf population-

Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought. By Virginia Morell. Science Insider. Link is now fixed!

Here is the actual scientific paper. Meta-Analysis of Relationships between Human Offtake, Total Mortality and Population Dynamics of Gray Wolves (Canis lupus). By Scott Creel*, Jay J. Rotella
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.

We have been discussing this all day under another thread, but it is important to post this story.

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It’s unreasonable to except that there won’t be future wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies, despite the current count imposed relisting of the gray wolf.  However, this article demonstrates that Montana and Idaho’s wolf hunting plants for 2010 (which would have already been underway) would have significantly reduced the wolf population. Idaho was honest about their intention to reduce the population. Montana argued that a hunt of that size was needed merely to keep the current population from growing, and that was about all it would really do.



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  1. JimT Avatar

    Thanks for the report, Ralph.

  2. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    I get a broken link….

  3. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    This link to the article works; the one in the summary did not:

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The response of wildlife officials in Montana and Idaho to this paper is not surprising:

    “Wildlife officials in Montana and Idaho said they were not swayed by the MSU study and characterized it as speculative. They added that even if wolf populations get into trouble, they could simply adjust future quota levels to compensate.”

    Rapid adaptive management would depend upon having good baseline data on numbers, which is not a given, not to mention the political will to reduce quotas if biologically necessary, which is highly doubtful, given the wide support for the “exempt wolves from the ESA” bill that’s floating around. This bill if passed would be a license to the states to exterminate wolves.

    One more reason to keep wolves on the T&E List and not compromise politically on the ESA, as some are calling for.


    1. jon Avatar

      RH, I don’t know much about Scott Creel, but is he a pro wolf supporters? Does he have more knowledge on wolves than the biologists at Montana fwp and Idaho fish and game when it comes to wolves?

      1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
        Robert Hoskins

        I would describe Scott Creel as a competent scientist who subordinates his personal feelings about wolves to objective science.

        It’s certainly my opinion that he and other academic scientists are less subject to politics than agency biologists like Carolyn Sime, who at times act more like lawyers than scientists.


      2. WM Avatar


        Creel studies ungulates as well as wolves. So he actually sees both the predator and prey perpectives as an objective scientist. Some of the “classic” wolf scientists do not have such knowledge or interest in the prey side of the equation.

        I also think I have seen some of the wolf scientists cross the line from being scientists to being advocates and that is not a good thing for a scientist. Paul Paquet is one who immediately comes to mind; as are Rolf Peterson, John Vucetich (both study Isle Royale and NRM if I am not mistaken) who seem sometimes get too heavily into advocacy. Dr. Mech is a pre-eminent wolf scientist who understands the bigger picture as is Dr. Geist (ungulate scientist who has been around alot of Canadian wolves, and who some here love to hate, in part because he has predicted some of the habituation behavior that has resulted in wolves becoming more unafraid of people – which he calls prey testing).

        Obviously there are many more (particularly lots of young ones at the beginning of their careers), including the fine folks at Yellowstone NP, U of M, MSU, U of MN, UCLA, and a host of others.



        You would have to ask Sime, but I think her role and the role of state wolf coordinator counterparts in nearly every state is more reflective of their employer agency. IMHO. That is their job, as program advocates, not scientists (or lawyers, but that seems to be the way the program goes because of the contentious nature).

      3. SAP Avatar

        Interesting to contrast the reaction to Professor Creel’s latest study with response to his studies on wolf pressure’s effects on elk pregnancy rates; the usual geniuses over at the Gazette are denouncing him as a tree hugger now.

      4. jon Avatar

        SAP. I was viewing some of the comments and I am not surprised. Those people are sick and disturbed. Look at what most had to say about wolves. Talk about a total lack of regard for wildlife some in Montana have.

      5. jon Avatar

        Check what this one anti wolf extremist had to say. It’s disturbing and you wonder if some of these extremists have mental problems. His name is Chuck Feney. I have seen his vile comments before.

        Chuck Feney said on: September 28, 2010, 1:38 am
        That’s funny.
        The season for large experimental coyotes has been open year round, no limit, no tags required, since Molloy’s rejection of scientific game management.

        SSS if you like, but better yet, gut shoot the whole pack. A wound is as good as a kill. Never inspect the shot, just keep shooting and keep moving. Most Montana hunters are used to using a caliber large enough to make a clean, ethical kill. They need to adjust their thinking when trying to inflict maximum wound damage on these scourges. A very well sighted Ruger 10/22 or AR with extended magazines used from a tree sling over a yipping bait dog can inflict a lot of damage that will eventually be fatal. Go into the forest to small clearings under 100 yards. Of course, I’m talking about coyote and rabbit hunting, which is open year round with only a conservation license.

        Sweeten all gut piles and carcasses with Xylitol – the artificial sweetener that is lethal to canines specifically. About 10 grams per 100 lb of large experimental imported coyote.

        Scatter parvo / distemper feces from infected dogs near den sights. The Reservations, unfortunately, are an excellent source of parvo and distemper infected nose candy. There’s is always some extremely virulent strain making the rounds in Browning.

        Dogs that howl and whine (husky types) can be staked out and are sure fire bait – irresistible to large experimental imported coyotes.

        Learn to use Gregerson snares – cheap to make and deadly for coyotes. Think of those Gregerson snares as choke chain leashes with draggable logs attached. Don’t anchor them too securely. A well placed Teepee set over a carcass can catch a whole lot of big coyotes since they keep coming back to collect their group members mates!

        Of course, follow all Just laws. BUT
        Don’t ever talk to cops or any type of game warden or enviros. Ever.
        Remember, angry wives and girlfriends always talk. Always.
        Don’t Talk to Cops, Part 1

        Always request a jury trial. No jury in Montana will convict IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY kill a wolf.
        Remember, a juror has the right and the obligation to judge both the facts and the law of the case!

        It’s a sad day that we’ve come to, but our grandfathers had to eliminate scourges, and now it’s our turn. It literally makes me sick to my stomach to have to post tips like these, but desperate times require desperate measures!

      6. SAP Avatar

        WM – I find John Vucetich’s work — especially when he teams up with philosopher Michael Nelson of Michigan State — to be very insightful. Since you seem to think he’s inappropriately being an advocate, you may be interested to learn that he and Nelson have devoted a great deal of thought to that very topic; see

        You might also find Jay Odenbaugh’s writings on science and advocacy to be interesting:

        I don’t believe that anyone is truly objective, and that it’s a silly game to pretend otherwise. Scientists aren’t objective, but their science can be trustworthy and reliable if it’s replicable, transparent, and biases are fully disclosed. Pretty tough to disclose your biases if you deny you have them.

      7. ProWolf in WY Avatar
        ProWolf in WY

        Jon, that guy is sociopath. It is one thing to hate wolves, even the way people like Gillette, Rammell, or Otter do, but at least they were trying ethical ways to eliminate them, not illegal, cruel means. They wanted to shoot them. I have to give those guys that much credit. This guy has a few screws loose.

      8. WM Avatar


        Thanks. I had seen references to the Vucetich/Nelson paper before but did take time to read it. Your last paragraph sums up the pragmatic approach to both dealing with advocate scientists AND apparently being one. The thing that is missing, however, is the stamp on the forehead of the scientist that says I AM AN ADVOCACY SCIENTIST – CONFIRM THE RESULTS OF MY RESEARCH, BEFORE USING. I MAY HAVE BEEN BIASED AND TRIED TO COVER IT UP (regardless of which side of an issue they come down on). Maybe an easier way would be to put such a disclaimer in bold for peer reviewers and on the final published product. It would be easier for the informed and uninformed reader to sort out the fly specks from the pepper that way. LOL

        {Seems the medical research profession is exceptionally good at covering bias in their manufacturer funded clinical trials.}

      9. JB Avatar

        I have recommend Vucetich et al.’s (2006) discussion of what it means to be endangered a number of times on this blog. Actually, if you’re ambitious, you should read the response by Robin Waples and the subsequent exchange that occurred.

        While the authors offer different perspectives, they are both very thoughtful regarding what constitutes endangerment and recovery.

        – – – –

        WM: Personally, I am most distrustful of scientists that insist that they are objective and unbiased. We are all biased to some extent. Bias is not problematic if it is recognized and folks are honest about it.

      10. jon Avatar

        Dr. Valerius Geist is biased. His grandfather apparently died from e. granulosis.

      11. Save bears Avatar


        I think there are very few in this situation that are neutral, most of the people I have worked with as well as talked to, are biased, including both pro and anti people, there does not seem to be a neutral person on either side!

      12. WM Avatar

        SB, JB,

        And that is the constant struggle…. the temptation, the conscious or sub-conscious desires, even the inherent bias caused by studying something, that affects objectivity. The mere attraction of a scientist to study a particular organism, ecosystem, etc. tends to be a bias act in itself, for many. The motives can be that this is where the research funding is (results dependent in some cases), personal interest/obsession, desire to advocate for a particular viewpoint, It is important to acknowledge these factors and deal with them up front. Peer review of a study does not always do this, possibly because of personal relationships with reviewers (you don’t trash my work and I won’t trash yours).

        A class I found most valuable/enlightening in grad school was Logic and Scientific Method taught in the Philosopy Dept. Heavy concentration on formal logic and the construction and use of the syllogism, as well as application of the modern “square of opposition”

        Many people (scientists included) are inclined to follow the erroneous reasoning of:

        If A then B. If B is observed then surely it was caused by A, when in fact, it may have been caused by C, or C and D interacting together (C and D were of course not considered and not studied).

        We do not give enough critical thought to these things. All one has to do is look at some of the posts on this forum to reach this conclusion. I do it too. We all do.

        And, you are both right, it is the need to identify and deal with the bias, wherever and however it occurs. Open discourse helps.

      13. JimT Avatar


        That is an interesting point you raise about the so-called neutrality rule for scientists. Given the tremendous politicization and skewing of science during the Bush Administration..and to some extent, during Obama though not as bad…I am not sure scientists can sit on the sidelines anymore and watch their life’s work be selectively quoted, misstated, or even buried in some cases. Not sure what the solution is, but no longer is science immune from the political arena’s machinations, and if it were my work, I sure as hell would want to see it defended and presented accurately.

      14. WM Avatar


        While you and I may disagree on a number of things, the Bush administration suppression of science and debate over the science in so many areas is not one of them. I hope it is never repeated.

  5. Alan Avatar

    This sory has also shown up in this afternoon’s Livingston Enterprise and meantions that “A Canadian wolf researcher with a newly published study…..said (that) he reached a conclusion similar to Creel: past research…underestimated impacts (of) human caused mortality.”

  6. jon Avatar

    I don’t agree with the hunts or with ws gunning down wolves from planes. If the hunts do go through, you either have one or the other, not both. If ws are going to continue to kill many wolves and there is a legal hunt, what needs to be done is they need to count those wolves killed by ws in the wolf hunt quota. I am also sick of them using the word harvest. It’s killing and it will always be killing.

    1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
      Robert Hoskins

      The use of the word “harvest” is a matter of hunting custom that goes back a long way. It’s what I heard while growing up in the 50s and 60s and I still use it when I hunt. In the larger scheme of things, which word is used is not all that important.


    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Robert Hoskins,

      I hate the expanding use of the word “harvest.” Orginally it had a good sound meaning, but because people like to see or hear that the crops have been harvested, the word’s use is expanded.

      At its most creepy, the medical establishment now writes or speaks constantly about “harvesting organs” from the (hopefully) brain dead or (probably) just deceased.

  7. jon Avatar

    Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wolf biologist Carolyn Sime said the MSU study was flawed because it failed to account for wolf pups born in the spring. She said that failure overestimated the impacts of hunting.

    I guess Ms. Sime failed to account for the wolves killed by wildlife services.

  8. Mike Avatar

    The re-listing seems to really show Montana and Idaho’s true colors. This can oly be good for the wolves and lengthen their stay on the list,

    1. Ryan Avatar

      Nope, They’ll be legislated off the list by the end of the second quarter 2011. This relisting was either the worst or the best possible thing to happen.

  9. Connie Avatar

    Please tell me that the Chuck Feney types are few and far between. Heaven help us if there are many like him.

    1. Save bears Avatar


      There are far more than any of us would wish, but it is the reality of the situation.


      Keeping them on the list is really not a big deal now a days..keeping them on the list, will never stand in the way of them being killed..the Feds have no means to actually do much at all..

      1. Elk275 Avatar


        ++Please tell me that the Chuck Feney types are few and far between. Heaven help us if there are many like him.++

        The silent fart is the deadly fart. There are many silent farts.

      2. Connie Avatar

        If there are others that think this way, then people need to know about it. We cannot become apathetic.

  10. JimT Avatar

    ELK 275,

    My dad used to call them SBD’s….My dog calls them payback for not feeding her enough.

  11. Jay Avatar

    While an interesting paper, I don’t think it’s the end-all-be-all analysis of wolf population dynamics–it seems to be a generic application of statistics to a variety of wolf populations studies across N. America, all of which are going to vary in the demographics that shape those population trajectories, thus making generalizations to a specific population questionable. To illustrate, the authors conclude that it would require a total human offtake of 22.4% to achieve zero population growth in the NRM population, but yet there was a 37.1 total human offtake last year with practically no change in the wolf population. My point is, one paper is not the final authority on its subject matter. Wildlife biology is messy, and one paper is not sufficient to explain highly complex phenomena.


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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