How about slob hunters?

The story below has been getting a lot of attention.

Wolves, Elk, and Slob-Hunting. What’s a bigger threat to elk: wolves or slob-hunters? By Matt Skoglund, Guest Writer in New West. 12-17-10

With in the condition of the economy and the traditional lack of wildlife ethics in some areas, I think we have to also add flat-out poaching.  For example, when they say “elk numbers have plunged in the West Fork of the Bitteroot, it must wolves,” how about an investigation of the number of convicted poachers in the Bitterroot Valley too.  Before you settle on an answer, a smart person considers all the possible reasonable answers.

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And here is a related story from Montana’s Madison Valley. In the Hunt: (Slob) Hunters play wolf blame game. by Nick Gevock. |

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

96 Responses to Elk numbers said to be down . . . is it really wolves?

  1. Mjollnir says:

    This story seems to describe quite a few of the hunters I either watched, or heard this season while I hunted. Some days I would glass a few ridges over to a popular hunting area. I would hear enough shots that it would remind me of a patrol making contact with the enemy, and see deer running everywhere, but not one was dropped. I would watch these hunters continue on, shooting at running deer but missing (luckily I did not see any get wounded). On days when the elk were pushed lower into the valley, I would hear 30 shots easily within 5 minute time spans.

    Watching some of these hunters, it was clear they would not even consider whether they had a safe backdrop. I also had my share fair of finding people who had taken their trucks, and ATVs into closed to motorized use areas to retrieve carcasses. It was easy to see with all the damage they left behind to meadows, etc. One guide service in particular was a frequent violator. The first clue that an ATV was approaching (before I heard it) was seeing all the animals leaving the area.

    There are plenty of good hunters out there, but it seemed to me that this season I saw far more that were not what I consider good.

    • Elk275 says:

      If a hunter misses is he/she a slob hunter? If they miss, one reloads and shoots again and repeats the process until the animal is down. I have missed more than I have hit. One does not shoot into the middle of a herd of running elk period.

      • wolf moderate says:

        I agree w/ you on most posts, but if you think that “some” huners are slobs who would shoot into herds or take unethical shots you are hunting areas that are not typical.

      • Save bears says:

        The person that wrote this article, I spoke with on the phone about a week ago and now from what I am hearing from FWP he could face a charge of tagging an animal he didn’t kill, and might be also facing a charge of failure to report a crime to the proper authorities. Instead of writing an article, he should have called the Tip line and reported what he had witnessed.

        The “hunters” were also in the wrong and should be cited, unfortunately, nobody followed proper procedure and recorded the information that could aided this happening.

      • Phil says:

        You cannot speak for all hunters. Hunters have observed a increase in slob hunting. Yes, they have observed hunters shooting in a large pool of a herd to hope they get alteast one.

      • SAP says:

        SB – are you referring to the Montana Standard article? He did get a citation and had the elk confiscated. He even had the integrity to write a follow-up saying that’s what happened.

        As to “failure to report a crime”: we all hate what happened, but what specific crime took place? Bad shooting, unethical shooting, failure to try to track wounded animals . . . I am just not sure that a clear game law violation took place; if it did, I would imagine he would have needed to see the shooters in the act and be ready to identify them. Otherwise, he’s just got some guys with rifles on a hillside with some elk tracks, blood, and couple dead elk.

      • Elk275 says:

        How many times have I seen the game warden say “someone just get a tag on it now”.

        I agree with SAP wounding an animal is not against the law nor is missing. There are some outfits in South Africa that charge $50 per missed shot; I would take my business somewhere else.

      • Save bears says:

        Thanks SAP,

        I have been traveling, so I had not seen the follow up article..

        As far as shooting into a herd, we all know that is wrong, and if you can gather the information on who did it, and get it to the proper authorities, and they are found, then they can be cited for wasting a game animal..

      • Jay says:

        More time needed at the range, perhaps?

      • SAP says:

        I think if a warden had been there and had seen guys shooting, wounding, but not trying to track wounded animals, he could MAYBE make a wanton waste case.

        MAYBE: say you’ve got three guys on a hillside; if you’re not right there with them to see which rifle barrels were pointed where, how — without ballistics evidence — do you prove which of them took “bad” shots? Any ballistics evidence would have to retrieved from wounded animals (which may be practically impossible) or, if the bullets passed through, found in the snow or on the ground somewhere (in which case, you just have a bullet that is not linked to a dead or wounded animal).

        Not trying to let these guys off, just pointing out that these could be tough cases to make (unless they can be clearly documented as shooting more animals than they have tags for, or trespassing, or shooting from public roads).

        If we really want to reduce this kind of behavior, we need to really step up the peer pressure, because making a case against these guys will be tough. The peer pressure needs to be a coordinated push that starts way before October, at the rifle range. And we need a message campaign in the hunting regs, maybe with reminder posters at popular trailheads (Papoose Creek in the Madison is where a lot of this crap takes place).

  2. wolf moderate says:

    I agree. Their are many hunters are lazy. Many road hunt and never get off the roads. Good for us though 🙂

    Something really should be done to curtail the “open fire hunters” out there.

    Not sure how to do it unfortunately 🙁

  3. wolf moderate says:

    but if you DON’T think that “some” huners are slobs who

    Sorry, missed a word

  4. Phil says:

    The purpose of the article is not whether law should be placed into what the writer saw or what the hunters did in “slob hunting”, it’s main purpose was to distinguish who is at fault of Elk populations decline in certain herds and how hunters will come off and blame Wolves for all problems in any area with any significant Wolf population in it. This makes perfect sense, because if you go to hunting websites, they will post photos of a dead Elk with fresh blood trails leading up to the carcass, and in the title description they blame it on Wolves. If a Wolf gets a hold of a food source, it will not begin to do any form of damage to the prey until the pack forces the prey down on the ground, which means the prey would be killed after it is forced not to be able to use its feet anymore. Wolves will not bite at the prey while it is eluding them and have a blood trail coming from the Elk’s body. I do understand that at times a Wolf pack will harm the prey while after they have dragged it on the ground, but with much energy wasted and damage done to the prey, I doubt any would be able to get back up and walk it off then eventually collapse and pass away.

    • Phil says:

      I forgot to mention in my last comment that the reason as to why they harmed the prey after dragging it to the ground was so that they do not have to waste as much energy as they normally would and not for any non-significant reason.

      • Save bears says:


        your last two postings are kind of confusing, are you saying wolves don’t do damage when they are running a prey animal?

        If so, that is not true, it is been well documented that wolves given the ability will hamstring as well as tear up the anal area of a prey animal while the animal is still fleeing.

        There is a park in Canada that has many hours of footage of wolves taking down Bison and in almost all instances they wolves do massive damage to the anal area of the bison before actually taking it down..

      • WM says:


        If you know anything about anatomy of ungulates, you will understand that the skin is thinnest in the anal area and underbelly; it is thickest at the neck/chest, and down the back,and a bit thinner at the shoulders tapering to rib cage, and the thin flank. Wolves use many methods of attack depending on the size, age and condition of the prey animal, as well as the number of wolves involved in the attack, and the terrain/vegetation over which the attack occurs.

        Sometimes the damage done to the prey animal initally is massive bruising and trauma, which may not involve breaking the skin. This can slow the prey down, make it less mobile or even take it down, but still the animal can get up and move, even while the thin skinned and vulnerable areas are being opportunistically torn away, like the anus, flanks, legs and underbelly, while the animal is alive. The blood trails, some of which may go for considerable distance, seen to the end point of what remains of a carcass to its final resting spot are real. The death of a prey animal is often not a quick one, and sometimes not at all.

        Here is an example from a recent investigation involving livestock in OR:

        Phil, you may be talking outside your pay grade on this topic.

      • howlcolorado says:

        Any form of predation is going to be a pretty unpleasant experience for the prey animal. Even if the predation attempt isn’t successful.

        This is true of any predation. When you are talking about a pack hunter with large prey, it can seem even more brutal. In truth, it’s not. The standard operating procedure of a hunt is to select an animal that appears vulnerable or weak (this usually involves “testing” a herd). This is not a philanthropic behavior. It’s just safer and costs less calories to take down a weaker animal.

        Very few of the bigger predators are capable of an instant kill, so they slow down the prey in one of two ways – exhaustion or injury.

        No matter how you talk about it, predation in nature is just brutal. To attempt sanitize is just a human way of dealing with what is a relatively unpleasant part of life.

        Humans who are messy or “slob” hunters, certainly don’t have any excuse. Dealing damage to their prey is not a necessary part of the process. Shooting in to a herd is ridiculous.

        Missing or failing to kill with the initial shot is unfortunate, and is particularly so if the animal is able to escape line of sight, however many ethical hunters have experienced this.

        Lets avoid painting all hunters with a tar brush, and lets not represent natural predation as some gentle and clean process. Neither is fair or true.

      • JEFF E says:

        well said HC

    • SAP says:

      Phil, not sure where you’re getting your information.

      I have photos, and saw the animals myself: Angus heifers, probably in the 900 pound range, that were badly wounded yet still on their feet after being attacked by wolves. They were still able to walk quite a distance (over two miles) back to the corrals to see whether the vet could fix them up (couldn’t). These cattle had huge chunks of meat missing from their rounds and had lost a lot of blood. One of them, you could see up into the colon.

      This was in the fall, with pups just learning to hunt, and these cattle were fairly large. Had these been wild ungulates or cattle that weren’t getting checked every day, the wounded would have died or been far easier targets later that day or maybe even days later.

      I think they wound prey a lot without making an immediate kill, and that they do all kinds of damage prior to getting the animal off its feet. You may see some videos from the Lamar and elsewhere that show a quick, clean kill of a small elk, but when a few wolves go after bison, big cattle, a moose, or some other “stand-and-fight,” outsized prey, you will see a bloody battle.

  5. Cody Coyote says:

    I once tested the integrity and ethics of Deer hunters by placing a plywood deer with a nice 4 x 5 crown rack out into a private hayfield off a county road in northwest Wyoming, west of Meeteetse. The field belonged to the Pitchfork Ranch which was 110 ,000 acres of deeded and leased state land and harbored great numbers of deer an antelope. The ranch allowed public hunting and camping . But first an explanantion:

    I was stationed at the front gate and my job was to give out the permission slips for $ 10.00 to cover the not inconsiderable cost of me and one other guy( the range rider) being on duty for 45 days straight , 24/7, for deer, pronghorn and late cow elk seasons. And I checked the game going out, besides providing hunting and camping info and tips and the usual gossip and banter. I did this for 15 years. Very very few hunters complained about being charged a token fee to access some fabulous hunting, and we were able to control hunter numbers nicely and keep the deer herd in check. They really appreciated being able to camp. The ranch was too busy with autumn cattle work to bother with catering to a lot of hunters, but the deer numbers needs pruning nevertheless.

    The morning I set out the decoy deer, it took 21 shots, many thru the rump, and few were killing shots. Most of those shots were taken by hunters who did not have permission to be on the ranch , and nearly all were taken by shooting directly from the road , which is illegal in Wyoming.

    On the back (unpainted) side of the plywood deer — whom I nicknamed ” Adolph” and had painted his nose bright orange and put a Pitchfork brand on its hip — was a placard. It read: “Hunter IQ Test. Start with 100 points. Deduct 10 points for each shot taken . Turn in score at trailer ”

    A couple days later, the first Staurday of Deer season, I moved the deer and placed it on the skyline of a hill right behind my ranch trailer at the front gate, plainly visible from the state highway. It got blasted a lot more . One guy , from across the county and driving a Blazer got an instant case of buck fever upon spotting the deer on the skyline. He immediately drove off the road and bucked his Blazer through a deep borrow ditch, pretty much wrecking his whole front end. The driver door flew open before the Blazer even quit shaking , and he leaped out swearing..” F__K, F__k,F__K …” and started blasting away . Six shots. All missed.

    That’s when I shouted at him ,”It’s a decoy”. He knew he had been had, on several counts.

    That plywood deer with the orange nose and nice horns became a Christmas decoration on the front of Lucille’s Cafe in downtown Meeteetse for years to come, and many stories were told about the Great Pitchfork Ranch Deer Follies.

    The following year I made a bigger plywood silhouette, only this one was the size of a Mule and looked like one, the body of the Equine family not Cervidae , painted very dark , with a very long horsey-muley tail and an orange nose. It was a “Mule” Deer. And it got the Holy SH_T blasted out of it, too. This was all in the mid-1980’s.

    The moral of the story is, it was obvious who the good hunters were and who were the outright slobs. Most of the hunters using the Pitchfork were either local or from elsewhere in Wyoming.

    I’m surprised how many flunked their Hunter I.Q. Test and revealed their true colors.

    I had no way to track the number of shots that missed…

    • Daniel Berg says:

      This story reminds me of all the video footage of people blasting decoys that is availabe on the internet now.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      Cody Coyote –
      Pretty creative way to let people demonstrate their folly. It’s definitely sobering to see what will pass for legal and ethical prey in some cases.

      Once or twice a year, I volunteer to run a shoot-don’t shoot course for hunter education classes here, including the entire 6th grade class (about 200 students minus 2 or 3 whose parents won’t give permission). The star is “Carhartt Man”, a “dummy” in a brown Carhartt coat resting against a tree with just his shoulder poking out and a blacktail buck head resting on it like somebody taking a break while packing out a deer. His hunter orange pack and lunch are laid out on the ground beside him out of sight behind the tree (hunter orange clothing is not required to hunt in this state). It’s amazing how many parents will say “shoot! Shoot!” to their kids on that one. While most think it’s very appropriate education, an occasional parent thinks it’s a mean, dirty trick if their kid got sucked in and will leave them emotionally scarred for life — but Junior’s recovery prognosis from that trauma will no doubt be better than from actually shooting someone.

      The year after I took “Hunter Safety” at age 12 in Gardiner (MT), a kid who had just been certified shot an “elk” on opening morning on the mountain right above town. The “elk” turned out to be another kid’s saddled buckskin horse that was standing right behind him. The father of the shooter was in the sensitive position of school superintendent and immediately paid for the horse and tried to keep it quiet, but on Monday morning everybody in school had the entire story.

  6. Craig says:

    You have idiots in everyday life! But when you choose to make examples of them and condem other people who are just law abiding citizens it’s wrong! It would be like myself thinking all you guys are just like jon!

    • howlcolorado says:

      I am assuming you don’t feel that people being like Jon is a good thing?

      Sorry, that just seemed like a very unfair comparison.

      Being compared to someone who has a passion for something and that you disagree with is hardly the same thing as people drawing comparisons between you (a hunter I assume, and one who considers themselves to be ethical) and law-breaking criminals with (or without) hunting licenses and guns.

      Let’s keep things within the realm of reason here. Lets pretend you didn’t mention Jon in that comment and I will applaud you for making a fair and valid point, and one I happen to agree with. I wouldn’t think of accusing known hunters on this blog such as SB, Elk or yourself of ever doing something illegal, or condoning the actions of someone doing so while professing to be a hunter.

      • Craig says:

        The comparison though vague does lead to a simple fact! Comprehension VS Compassion are two very differnt things! Jon has Compassion but no comprehension or real life experience of the matters at hand, except for the fairy tales he diligently reads, and copies & posts online. This renders his comments sterile!

      • jon says:

        This coming from a guy who contributes nothing of value to this website besides insulting others whose viewpoint he doesn’t agree with. Weren’t you the one that asked Ralph if native americans are allowed to shoot wolves? Yeah, your lack of real life experience definitely shows. 🙂

      • mikarooni says:

        Jon, I think Craig loves you. He just can’t leave you alone. Do you think you could possibly ever see him as your type?

      • jon says:


  7. Phil says:

    Craig: WOW! You want to talk about experience? So, how much of field research have you done in the field regarding the issue? Do you get your information from hunting sites, or do you actually collect statistical data to prove your point? What people like you have stated is what is written by hunting sites like the Bear Blog and such, so where is the experience you state jon does not have? Just because you observe a action portrayed by wildlife for a few seconds does not mean you are genuine in your views. For example; I emailed Rolf Peterson last Friday regarding the myth hunters have been spreading in regards to Wolves killing cow Elk and only eating the unborn fetus. His response was Wolves will eat the fetus first then come back later on and consume the carcass. What hunters have done is in between the consumption of the calves and the cow Elk, they take photos and use them as evidence to futher elongate their fabrications on Wolves killing the cow Elk to eat her fetus. The reality is that unborn fetuses consume high healthy nutrients. Wolved do not know if an Elk cow is pregnant or not, they see food, and if they need to because they are hungry, they hunt the Elk to consume it in the form of food. After they killed the cow Elk, they realize there is an unborn calf inside and consume the calves first because they are high in nutrients. Wolves can only consume a certain amount of lbs per sitting, and by consuming the Elf calves first they have fulfilled their average feed in the sitting. When they are hungry again, they will come back to the cow Elk and consume the carcass. This is not a waste as hunters have portrayed, it is daily life for survival and nature at work.

    • jon says:

      Phil, Rolf Peterson came out with a book a few years back called the wolves of isle royale: a broken balance. Have you read this book? If so, how is it and is it worth buying?

      • Phil says:

        jon: I have not read his book and am not looking to read it because I can just email him on information about Wolves and Moose on Isle Royale. I am planning on working with him this summer on the summer project of the Wolves and Moose on the island. Here is an email he responded a shile back in regards to questions I had about the Wolves on the island.
        “Hello Dr. Peterson,
        My name is Phillip, and I am currently a biology student at Oakland Universtiy. I want to get into working with predators in the wild, and one of the main predators I would like to work with is the wolf. I am coming to you because I have heard from many people about your research on the Isle Royale wolves. My concerns to the wolves from your research is some questions on them.
        1) How is the wolf population on the island doing in your lates research? FINE – SEE FOR THE LATEST DETAILS. Are they spreading out into more wilderness regions in the upper portion of the state? THERE ARE ABOUT 600 WOLVES NOW IN UPPER MICHIGAN.
        2) Are they having a postive effect or negative effect on prey like moose? LONG-TERM, WOLVES LIMIT MOOSE NUMBERS, AND THEY ALSO CULL THE PREY POPULATION WHICH IS TO THE BENEFIT OF MOOSE HEALTH
        3) This question is in regards to the food source of wolves on the island. Are moose native to Michigan, or were they brough about when the elk were wiped out? MOOSE WERE NATIVE TO MICHIGAN, BUT WERE ELIMINATED BY OVERHUNTING
        4) Has the diverse gene pool improved for the wolves lately? I know that by having a small population with small territory it is hard to create a diverse gene pool and inbreeding will frequently occur, but how has this changed (if any changes have occurred at all)? THERE WILL BE SOME VERY NEW INFORMATION APPEARING ON THIS SOON.
        5) What about the crossbreeding with coyotes? I know that the depletion of land and food sources brings about more solitaire wolves that could crossbreed with similar species like coyotes, but is this frequent with the Michigan wolves? IN UPPER MI INITIALLY THERE WAS CONCERN ABOUT BREEDING WITH DOGS WHEN WOLVES WERE SCARCE, BUT THAT SEEMS TO HAVE PASSED
        Any other information would be extremely beneficial. I have been up and down many website links, but they don’t share the entire story that I could get from yourself.
        Thank you!”
        I would suspect there would be inbreeding on the island considering that the most Wolves that have been on the island was around 35 at a given time. Currently, there are only 4 packs with about 23 Wolves on the island. The deformed bone structure caused by the inbreeding is said in negative context by some people towards Wolves in that they mate with relatives, but in wildlife, when you are away from relatedness members for a time period, you begin to loose their scent that identifies indivdiuals, and therefore, because fitness is a major goal for almost ALL species, they will be forced to mate with one another at times, especially when they have been apart for a long period of time and lost identification markings. Males will more often then not leave the pack to join or form another pack. Let’s say a male member left his born into pack and joined or formed another, and two years down the line he finds a female, who was in the litter he was born into, to mate with. Because there is loss of identification, the have no idea that they are brother and sister. This is gone against Wolves by the anti-wolf side. As far as I know, the bone deformity is still showing within some Wolves on the island’s, and probably will continue, but what can you expect with only 23 Wolves currently on the island? It hasn’t had a severe impact on the Wolves and population, though. The population has dropped due to other reasons, but this is the case with ALL wildlife. Populations will increase in consecitive years, and will drop in consecitive years.

    • Craig says:

      Nice basic biological post which any moron like jon could google and post within 5 minutes! I’ve spent over 30 years in the outdoors viewing, killing and observing all wildlife! I have my credentials, from 30 years of living in the outdoors not from reading hunting sites or magazines. What does your buddy jon have to back up his BS? Every hunting trip is a new adventure wether or not you kill an animal. The things you find bones, tracks, rubs, antlers, skulls all tells a tale. Those whose watch close have a great story or mystery unfold infront of them every day they are in the field and that’s what makes it great to be outdoors! Not just hunting or killing ,the experience of the wild and unknown are the best adventures life can give!

    • mikarooni says:

      Oh yeah, Jon, Craig’s definitely in love. He just keeps coming back.

  8. Phil says:

    Seak and Cody Coyote: Although I don’t agree with hunting, at least it is good to hear there are some individuals out there to educate others on what is ethical and not ethical in regards to hunting.

  9. Phil says:

    Save bears, wm and sap: If you understood anything about Wolf hunts you would know that Wolves hunt not as a whole pack, but in smaller segments of the pack. As howlcolorado mentione, when you are a predator, no hunt and kill is a pleasant one to watch, but it is the way of the predators in survival. For Wolves, let’s say you have a pack of 9 members. When the pack is out hunting for food, they will, let’s say, hunt in small packs within their pack. 3 members may begin the chase of the Elk. If they are not able to catch the Elk because they wear down, the next 3 members will continue the chase, and so forth until the Elk is worn and slows down. You will then have one or more of the current Wolves catching the Elk and dragging it to the ground. This information that they go after the rump while they are chasing and bite into it drawing blood is so irrelevant that it is not an everyday basis that it occurs. Going further, when the Elk is dragged down, you will have other members helping in containing the Elk from getting up. Some kills are at the nect, while others at the throat and even some others on the body to cause enough damage to eventually kill the Elk. Some kills are not directly to kill the Elk, because, as howlcolorado stated, it would mean a large amount of energy wasted, so they let the Elk die from damage caused by the Wolves, not while eluding the Wolves, but AFTER dragged to the ground. The energy storage they save from not killing the Elk directly in quick manners is to make sure they have enough energy for protection purposes in sudden fashion from another heterospecific or even conspecifics.
    Sorry wm, but when you do actual field work, then you can state others are outside their pay grade, but you also speak as a typical hunter.

    • Elk275 says:

      Phil, if you are a biology student at Oakland University, I would suspect that you are between 20 and 24 at the most and probably raised in the suburbs of a major city. I doubt that you have very much experience in the wilds or with wild animals. You may have desire but because of your age and upbringing there is no way you could have much time in the wilderness or knowledge of the it ways.

      When I was 10 years old, I was fly fishing the streams of Montana from our cabin by myself and by 12 years was backpacking in the Beartooths Mountains with friends my age for 3 or 4 days. When I was 20 I left for Alaska alone, hunting for 28 days. I bothers me that young urban people want to be in wildlife management when they have no exposure in there youth to the wilds. For some reason I feel that the unexposed youth of the day will never have a lifetime of experience only a partial lifetime.

      • Phil says:

        Elk: Actually, I am a school teacher at a local middle school and above your 20-24 year age range. I have volunteered to work with predators in Montana, Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin, Alaska and Alberta, Canada on predators. I have spent time in wilderness debuttling your claims. The difference between me being in nature and you is that I have actually done field research for experience purposes.

    • SAP says:


      I sense that maybe you’re worried that some of us are demonizing wolves when we describe what they do to prey animals. I am not demonizing them, just relating what I have seen. Nor am I saying that what I’ve seen is what happens all the time. Wolves are what they are, and they do what they do. They do not kill quickly from ambush like a cat; they get large prey moving, and kill with a combination of exhaustion and trauma.

      You directed this reply to me and others:

      “If you understood anything about Wolf hunts you would know that Wolves hunt not as a whole pack, but in smaller segments of the pack”

      Phil, I re-read my post and I don’t see where I said that wolves have to field a complete team before they go on a hunt.

      I was responding to your statement that:

      “If a Wolf gets a hold of a food source, it will not begin to do any form of damage to the prey until the pack forces the prey down on the ground, which means the prey would be killed after it is forced not to be able to use its feet anymore. Wolves will not bite at the prey while it is eluding them and have a blood trail coming from the Elk’s body.”

      “Wolves will not bite at prey while it is eluding them”?

      OK, I suppose you may have some different meaning for “eluding,” but tell me what’s taking place at 2:39 and afterward in this video:

      Wolf bites elk in hock; elk kicks hard and shakes wolf loose. With a wolf’s — particularly a young adult’s — dentition and bite strength, I’d have to say that bite drew some blood. You’ll see a couple more bites that fail to immobilize the elk. There’s clearly an edit in there, so we can’t tell how long the chase actually lasts, but the elk finally goes down, staggers back up a bit, then it’s over.

      I’d wager there’s a bit of a blood trail between that first bite and the kill site. And I didn’t have to search all over YouTube to find a video to support my point — this is just one of many that show wolves biting prey that is eluding them.

      And I’m not sure what you’re getting at here:

      “Some kills are not directly to kill the Elk, because, as howlcolorado stated, it would mean a large amount of energy wasted, so they let the Elk die from damage caused by the Wolves, not while eluding the Wolves, but AFTER dragged to the ground. ”

      Huh? They kill elk, but not “directly to kill the Elk”? I don’t follow you — is there a typo in there? Are you saying that they drag the elk to the ground, bite it a bunch, then go take a smoke break while the elk dies? To save energy?

      I could understand your point if you were saying that they sometimes wound a prey animal, yet fall short of killing it, then come back and kill that animal on a later hunt (blood loss, tissue damage, shock would all make the animal very vulnerable). But I’m not following this part about the wounding occurring only when the animal has been taken off its feet.

      • Phil says:

        SAP: This entire message of yours was taken out of context. “I sense that maybe you’re worried that some of us are demonizing wolves when we describe what they do to prey animals.” No! I have a full understanding that people have different opinions. My responses was directed to others who take what Wolves do in survival to portray them negatively in pursuit of pushing their criterias. Never stated anything of anyone on here. You presumed that. When I stated that “Wolves hunt in small segments of their pack”, it was a beginning of an example of a normal hunt done by Wolves, but you took it in a different manner. I directed it to you, but from your comment you seemed solid in what you said. I don’t know how many Wolves you have observed, but that is not the actions done by Wolves as a instinctive behavior, maybe from the ones you have seen, but not from the ones that I have observed in the 5 states I have watched them in, and in Alberta. Your statement. “OK, I suppose you may have some different meaning for “eluding,” but tell me what’s taking place at 2:39 and afterward in this video:” You mean where the Wolf was trying to get a hold of the left hock? Yes, the prey was kicking the Wolf to put a gap inbetween them, but when you stated “biting” and “damage” I saw it as the Wolves would purposely bite into the prey’s body and release the bite immediately on their own to cause UNNECESSARY damage and pain to the prey. Kind of like someone poking someone else with a needle and just watching the blood drip from them just for laughs. That’s why I sent the message of a normal Wolf’s hunt in step by step fashion. I have heard from many anti-wolf individuals that use this type of action by Wolves, in the form of damaging the Elk and letting it die from the pain and stating it was a wasted kill, to persuade others that Wolves are this vicious species. That is also why I commented that the bite to the anal was to slow the prey down so the pack chasing can catch up and drag it to the ground. But, this is not always the case because the prey at times will still elude (or run from the Wolves) in which the Wolves will eventually give up if they are not able to catch the prey, and the prey will collapse and pass away. I don’t think any actions of survival from species are “damaging”. It’s instinctive behavior through the intelligence of the species. Cheetah’s try to trip their prey by swiping at their hind legs. Lions do the same. At times, the swipes are so severe that Biologists have found broken bones after inspecting the carcass’s age, weight, etc. Some think it is “damaging”, but Biologists see it as a natural/instinctive behavior. Sometimes Wolves get their prey, sometimes they do not. But, biting at the anal to slow the prey down, in my opinion, is not “damaging”, it’s a way of life.

      • SAP says:

        Phil –

        I think we agree on a lot.

        I work on carnivore conservation in Montana. There are a lot of anti-wolf people around here, and they demonize wolves just like you say they do. Some of the most extreme anti-wolf people have very little direct experience with wolves, and appear to spend most of their time writing on various blogs around the internet instead of ever going afield.

        So, yes, there is a lot of anti-wolf MISinformation out there. Unfortunately, there is a good share of pro-wolf misinformation, too. When I see people like you making statements like “Wolves will not bite at the prey while it is eluding them,” I have to correct you. Perhaps you meant to put some kind of qualifier in that statement, but you stated it as some kind of general wolf behavioral principle. But you didn’t, and readers can’t be expected to guess what you really meant. As written, that is a factually untrue statement.

        Anti-wolf lunatics generally get themselves booted off this blog, but they clearly still read this blog (they rant and rave about it on other blogs).

        When they see people on here acting like know-it-alls and making untrue statements, it just gives them more ammunition. It reinforces their prejudice that we are either clueless, or that we are trying to give everyone a cleaned-up Disneyworld version of wolves in the wild.

        You and I are probably mostly on the same side of things, Phil. I just want you to be a little more careful about what you write, so that you avoid making questionable statements that make pro-wolf people look bad.

  10. Phil says:

    save bears: Never stated Wolves don’t do damage to prey animals. What? Do you believe that I think Wolves eat in a neat fashion using a fork and knife? Let’s say your theory is true in that Wolves attack the anal while the prey is fleeing on a abundant occurance. In a set behavior, this is done purposely to slow down the Elk because Elk have higher stamina then Wolves. It is damage, but not in the form that some people presume it to be. It is done to slow the Elk down so the pack can catch it. Does it happen? As I stated in my last comment, yes. Is it more rare then usual? Yes!

    • SAP says:

      Phil – I’m trying to understand what you’re getting at.

      “It is damage, but not in the form that some people presume it to be. It is done to slow the Elk down so the pack can catch it.”

      Ok, what do “people presume it to be”? Do you mean that some people think that wolves are “damaging” prey animals just out of meanness? If so, I think you’ll find there are few if any people on this blog who make moral condemnations of wolves over how they treat prey animals. We condemn slob human hunters, because they have plenty of choices. Wolves don’t.

      I agree that the biting that causes the damage has a purpose: it’s the only means a wolf has for catching and ultimately stopping a prey animal. A wolf isn’t going to rope an elk, nor put it in a corral — it has to bite it if it’s going to bring it down and make a meal out of it.

      Biting the hindquarters makes sense, too — that’s often the best or only target on a fleeing prey animal. Biting up high on the hocks or tailhead makes sense too — softer target, relatively stationary compared to those rapidly moving lower legs and hooves.

      • Phil says:

        SAP: The “presumed” damage is stated by anti-wolf individuals who use this biting as a purpose to elongate their agenda towards decreasing and eventually eliminating Wolves in their areas. Why not post where I stated anything about “people on here”? I am absolutely shocked at how you and wm cannot understand what is meant in comments. Honestly; should the words be gapped out with defined meanings to each word for understanding? I don’t mean to be rude, but I am a middle school teacher and the kids at the middle school have better understanding. What more can I do to make it easier for you and wm to understand? Do you really think people who are pro-wolf would presume the biting on the anal to be unnecessary and a wasted Elk kill when the Wolves stop their chase and the Elk eventually dies? When I stated “people presume it to be” obviously, at least to me, means the ones that are anti wolf who will fabricate it as a wasted kill done by the Wolves.

      • SAP says:

        Phil, you should print out your posts and take them down the hall to an English teacher at your middle school. Ask that English teacher whether your posts are clear and understandable.

        If the English teacher is not afraid of you blowing your top, maybe she/he will give you an honest assessment of your command of the written word.

        And if you are the English teacher, heaven help us. I’m not going to spend any more time on this, but this is one of your sentences:

        “The energy storage they save from not killing the Elk directly in quick manners is to make sure they have enough energy for protection purposes in sudden fashion from another heterospecific or even conspecifics.”

      • Save bears says:

        Well Phil,

        You might be an English Teacher, but I am a biologist and when I worked for Montana FWP, what I did for them was to study Predator/Prey relationships, so I spent a lot of time watching and documenting how coyotes, wolves killed their prey. I have seen the behavior many times, so much that I and the majority of biologists I know, don’t consider it a rare behavior.

  11. Phil says:

    wm: The article you posted stated this “The wolves consumed about 60 pounds of meat before leaving the carcass.” So, where does it say that the Wolves killed and left the carcasses? As I mentioned, I believe in anoher forum, or maybe somewhere on here, Wolves only consume a certain amount per individual, and the Cows being larger then, I would guess, 500 lbs, that is well more then the average even an average pack size of 5-7 or even 10 members can consume. This is not damage, unless you look at it from the Cow’s point of view, it is consumption of food and storing the rest for later on. Apparently you cannot comprehend that Wolves store what they do not eat for later sittings.

  12. Phil says:

    Although it is saddening to see your link wm in regards to the Cows, because I respect all animals and humans on this planet, it s a way of life for wildlife. Certain animals are put on this planet to keep the vegetation in check, and other animals are put on this planet to keep the populatoin of the herbivores in check, and nature keeps all in check.

  13. Phil says:

    wm: Here is another email response I recieved from Rolf Peterson regarding your link you sent me of Wolves eating the calves, then coming back to the carcass of the cow later on.
    “Phillip – wolves have been observed eating fetuses first”, hence the term “first” ” when they kill a pregnant elk (Yellowstone). Carnivores need protein, and fetuses would be a good source of nutrients. It doesn’t really matter to wolves if a prey animal is alive or not. When wolves kill prey, they almost always eat it (unless they are being careful to avoid poison).
    Forgot to answer your question about our research and delisting. Research at Isle Royale will not be affected by delisting or hunting in mainland areas, should that occur.
    Rolf Peterson”

    • WM says:


      Please forgive my candor here, but I hope you will appreciate the spirit in which my comments are offered. I find your writing to be confusing, sometimes contradictory, and frequently misinterpreting the written thoughts of others. If it is your intent to pursue a new field of education, involving the sciences – particularly wolves – one of the essential skills of the discipline is to write with clarity and purpose.

      There are alot of smart people who comment here, many of whom have academic training and extensive experience in the varied topics that are discussed. Some do their research very well before commenting. New voices are welcome, as are new points of view (well to some anyway).

      The topics are complex enough the way it is. When one adds another layer of complexity by poor, confusing writing, it clouds the discussion even more. Take a look at your posts above and below, and the responses you have received from those with whom you engage. Some of us are confused by your posts and responses.

      My purpose for raising this is to ask for your consideration by being a little more careful about what you write. You will become a better communicator and maybe scientist if you spend a little time putting your thoughts together with some consistency and, of course, clarity. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you take this as a positive offering.

      • Phil says:

        wm: So, what part of ANY of my comments confuses you? Is it the statistical data that was collected? Or is it that it does not comprehend with your belief? Explain.

      • Phil says:

        Even though I have been posting comments for a short period of time on here, I have read many of your comments wm, and I truly find it hard to believe you are still posting on here when you have criticized anyone who is not in favor of hunting.

      • WM says:


        As noted, see comments in response to yours – repeated assertions of “Phil – I am trying to understand what you are getting at (SAP); “Phil, not sure where you’re getting your information (SAP trying to correct your faulty assertion); “Phil, your last two postings are kind of confusing (Save Bears);

        If you go back to my responses to you, they are much the same. There are other posts from you on other threads that just cause me to go “huh?” – for example your response to the livestock depredation article I pointed out, in regard to your assertion that there are no blood trails to a final kill site (a fact we know is clearly not true in some cases). I have no idea what you are talking about when you bring in a quote from Rolf Peterson out of the blue, talking about wolves eating elk fetuses. Yeah, they do that. Not quite sure what is relevant about Isle Royale in the remainder of your post.

        Is that a sufficient explanation? Again, read my first post about clarity of thought and good communication skills.

        Do you really need more examples? Just read what others say, and you should get the drift.

  14. Phil says:

    I have a lot of respect for Rolf and Ralph. I have constantly emailed Rolf and Ralph, amongst others, regarding Wolves. I have volunteered, until I am done with schooling, in research of predators, and because I am not the most intelligent on wildlife, I email with any confusing topics of them to experts in the field.

    • jon says:

      I agree, Carter Niemeyer is also very nice and friendly and will answer any questions you may have about wolves. Give him a shout Phil!

      • Phil says:

        jon: I would love to talk to Carter. I have networks with Zoologists, Mammalogists and Biologists, like Bob Lessnau, Keith Bervaine, Rolf Peterson, Christina Einsberg, amongst others, but would love to network with Carter. He seems like he has a lot of experience on Wolves from reading articles about him.

      • wolf moderate says:

        “jon: I would love to talk to Carter. I have networks with Zoologists, Mammalogists and Biologists, like Bob Lessnau, Keith Bervaine, Rolf Peterson, Christina Einsberg, amongst others,”

        Man you come off really arrogant (name dropper) for a middle school teacher.

  15. Craig says:

    So phil what makes you an expert? You seem to think you know more than the rest of us! I want to know what your credentials are? I see jon riding your coat tails after your posts but we all know he’s the village idiot dragging Mikaloonie with him. But what experience or education do you have to back up your claims! Are you a boilogist ect? just curious?

    • Phil says:

      Craig: Never stated to know more then anyone. Actually, if you seriously read one of my comments and not regulate to just what you want to read to rebuttle, I clearly stated that “I am not the most intelligent on wildlife and is why I go to experts like Rolf and Ralph, amongst others, on any topic that confuses me”.

  16. Craig says:

    Not regulating anything just reading your”facts you posted” seemed you really know your shit and the rest of us are ignorant to the information you provided. Yes we all read Ralph’s board to learn info on the trueth, then we we loose it in incomprehensive Rhetoric and self loathing beliefs to fit our own personal agendas. It’s Human nature and will be our demise in the end! It’s also why nothing will ever come to a resonabile compromise on the issues of Wolves! It’s human nature, no one will give and no one will win! THAT IS A FACT!!!!

    • timz says:

      Craig, one thing we do learn on this blog is alot of people skipped English class.

      • WM says:


        Good one. I’m still laughing.

      • Craig says:

        Ralph would be one too! Why don’t you give him a lesson, or bring up his spelling ect? I’ve brought it numerous times! Lets here what you have to say English expert!

      • timz says:

        Craig you need to come up with something more original when called out than “well so and so did it too”.

      • Jeff N. says:

        timz – Considering “alot” isn’t a word, that list of people who skipped English class would include you.

        Now boys I see where this is going….it’s apparent a Brokeback moment is fast approaching, so why don’t you all get a room and get it over with.

      • wolf moderate says:

        Jeff you forgot to end with “not that there is anything wrong with that” lol.

      • Jeff N. says:

        Wolf Moderate – Yes I should have and I apologize for overlooking that. Thanks.

      • timz says:

        Jeff N., I never said I took English. And as for your Brokeback moment there has been some interesting reading about those who talk a lot about certain controversial subjects are probably the very ones with something to hide. Now might be a good time for you to go ahead and leave the closet because as wolf m says “there’s nothing wrong with that.”

      • Jeff N. says:

        Awww timz, don’t be so sensitive….now get back to your little spat w/ the boys.

    • Phil says:

      Craig: If you read my comments to a fact basis, then you would have realized I said “I am not the most intelligent on wildlife, so I ask people like Rolf, Ralph and other Biologists about concerns I have on issues”, but, even by stating that, you wanted to portray me as believing I know more then others how? I do have to agree with you in this statement you made “Yes we all read Ralph’s board to learn info on the trueth, then we we loose it in incomprehensive Rhetoric and self loathing beliefs to fit our own personal agendas. It’s Human nature and will be our demise in the end! It’s also why nothing will ever come to a resonabile compromise on the issues of Wolves!”, because hunters, not all, but a large proportion of them in the Northern Rocky Mountain region, use the same theorhetrical standards to illustrate their views/agenda.

      • Craig says:

        I meant that towards everyone, not just hunters! It’s an unfortunate trueth of human nature.

  17. Craig says:

    I would be one of the Timz! I will not deny it!

  18. Rita K.Sharpe says:

    Craig , Are you ranting just for the sake of it? Calling people names that you either don’t like or that something was said that you do not agree with? Fine,than prove it otherwise and let the rest of us descide.However,I would like to know your credentials.We all don’t agree on this site but after awhile the name calling gets childish . Are we going stay on the topic or are we going to have a one sided shooting gallery or an out right shoot out?

  19. Phil says:

    SAP: First: Do you understand what a heterospecific and conspecific are? If not, look it up. If you have an understanding as to what they are, let’s begin with the meaning of a sentence that a middle school child can understand. “The energy storage they save from not killing the Elk directly” I will stop there and put meaning into it for you. Wolves do not always use actions that escelate to large amounts of energy usage. This means that Wolves will not chase the prey for long distances and waste just about ALL their energy. They will try to slow the prey down as much as possible. Why do you think the pack chases in smaller pack segments? “…in quick manners is to make sure they have enough energy for protection purposes in sudden fashion from another heterospecific or even conspecifics.” This means the Wolves will not waste ALL energy when they eventually realize they are not going to be able to catch the prey. They are smart enough to understand, through learned behavior, that threats and danger could come as quickly as possible from other Wolves-conspecifics or heterospecifics- Bears, Cougars, etc, so they need to consume as much energy as possible for protection. The only exception to this is if the Wolves are extremely hungry and are in a life or death starvation stage.

    • SAP says:

      Oh Phil.

      Happy Holidays!

      It’s a stunningly beautiful first day of winter here in southwest Montana, so I’m going to ski up the road and leave you to it.

      • Phil says:

        I hope you read my latest comment. You were right in that I did not post all of what I wanted to say on it. Enjoy skiing!

  20. Phil says:

    wm: So, because savebears and SAP, along with yourself, cannot understand basic English and meanings to sentences that means I don’t know how to write? Maybe you should try to further your education to get a full grasp on meanings of statements? How is it that my middle school class, being anywhere from 10-14 years of age are able to understand full meanings of statements, and you cannot?

  21. Phil says:

    wm: When you take a Biology class, do the Biologists use basic terms to educate the students? I don’t know how many Biology classes you have taken, but I have taken more then 12 and have never had a professor use basic terms in their educating of the class.

    • WM says:


      Once again I am not sure of your point. And, with each subsequent post you reinforce my earlier assertions.

      How about we just get back on the thread topic, with a recognition that some of us have difficulty understanding your written words, and leave it at that? I was trying to be constructive, in hopes that you would write more clearly for the benefit of all. You seem inclined take it to a different level, which is not particularly useful to anyone.

      • Phil says:

        WOW! Again! Further education would probably help you wm. You say that I am not writing clear, right? So, why not go into deeper meaning and use some examples of what is not clear to you?

  22. Phil says:

    wolfmoderate: WOW! That is arrogant on my part? If you say so.

  23. Phil says:

    SAP: As a teacher who spent 5 years pursuing a teaching certification, I will not play childish games and ask anyone if my comments are of proper English. If you do not understand them, then shouldn’t it be you that prints them out and asks the local English teacher whether or not they are proper?

  24. Phil says:

    savebears: I never stated I was an English teacher, it was SAP that stated “If I was…”, so now you should understand that you are not fully reading in dialect the comments that are posted.

  25. Phil says:

    savebears: So, you are a Biologist, but you worked with the FWP? Where do you work now? Independently? If so, wonder why? Try research in multiple ecosystems before making assumptions on a species as a whole.

  26. Phil says:

    SAP: You are right! I reread my comment and did not put all the information on it as you stated. I did not get to deep into the statement ““Wolves will not bite at the prey while it is eluding them,”. I should have stated “for unnecessary purposes and just to kill the Elk for sport…”

    • SAP says:

      Phil – thanks for that clarification! We are in agreement on that point, then. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • Save bears says:

      I know Richard, he is a slime ball. I am glad he was finally caught, but I sure wish they would have suspended him for life, instead of just two years, these damn judges need to start handing out penalties that actually HURT!! Two years and a $1000 bucks is nothing!


December 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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