Idaho elk certainly not extinct

Video of an amazing number of elk captured by a cell phone-

We keep hearing how Idaho elk are all but extinct from anti-wolf folks and others with various gripes. Maybe this capture from the highway on a cell phone is the only herd left, but it certainly is impressive.

Folks who know southern Idaho will recognize that it is near Mountain Home. This is winter range. I’ve seen elk in the general vicinity . . . one, two or three elk, but nothing like this.

This somewhat unusual place for the elk is probably due to the large number of August range fires in the general area that changed the availability of winter range.

Update: I know exactly where this video was taken. I’ve added a map to show where this was. There have been wolves seen in this general area for years. -KC

View Elk Video in a larger map







  1. Brian Avatar

    That is probably the Bennett Mtn. herd that is usually found hanging out on Larry William’s Tree Top ranch just a few miles up the road. I’ve counted 300 plus elk in his pastures numerous times. Of course in a normal winter they have moved down to Simco Road area but with no snow… Pretty impressive for sure. On a side note I heard a report of two black wolves spotted on the North side of the freeway just west of the first Mtn. Home exit this morning around 9:00 AM.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I know there have been a number of wolves in the nearby Mt. Bennett Hills over the years. Some were removed because of livestock problems, but they have been in there since at least 2005.

    2. Craig Avatar

      I saw two Black Wolves chasing Antelope there 3 weeks ago.

  2. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    What is more entertaining and enlightening are the videos you can link to after watching the video of the elk herd.
    Crack a beer and enjoy.

    Idaho Wolves 2011 4:30, “Devil Dogs on the hunt”

    “Sons of bitches”

    “Sons of bitches”

    Good stuff.

    1. Alan Avatar

      These videos are unbelievable and clearly demonstrate why wolves will always require some kind of protection. OOOOoooo!! There was a wolf within 12 feet of my house!! Within 12 feet of my house!! Look at the tracks! We are all in danger! Do these people realize how incredibly ignorant and cowardly they appear? They sound like little kids begging momma not to turn out the lights because there are monsters hiding under the bed! It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.

      1. Jeff N. Avatar
        Jeff N.


        And then these same “adults” spin it like they are concerned about the safety of their kids, passing along this fear and hatred down to them, when the adults are the chickenshits….ie wolf proof school bus stops in Reserve, NM, or keeping kids locked in the house because wolf sign was seen in the area. Keep the kids safe but afraid.

        Seems like mental abuse to me.

      2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        They always talk about the little kids, and the biggest ‘fraidy cat” is almost always the big middle aged guy.

        Don’t point to your child when you’re afraid and say she’s scared.

        1. Jeff N. Avatar
          Jeff N.

          Yep…I recall a fairly recent story of one “burly hunter” being treed all night by by a pack of lobos in NM. The story was actually posted on an anti-wolf site (I believe Wolfcrossing).

          A fine display of pathetic cowardice. And these wolves aren’t the menacing, Canadian, 200 lb., killing machines. But they are Mexican. Buenos Noches Mis Amigos.

          1. Alan Avatar

            The funny thing is how it’s always the armed hunter being trapped in his tent, being stalked or being treed by wolves! Why no stories involving backpackers or hikers? There are thousands of folks with families, including little kids, hiking in wolf country every year. No problems. And in most cases, no guns. If they do see a wolf they consider it a wonderful experience and try to get a picture. This is what really makes these guys look so foolish.

      3. Richard Slack Avatar
        Richard Slack

        Love your scenario Alan <3 ;-} !!!

  3. Steve Avatar

    The large percentage of calves in the herd is impressive. It looks like there was good reproduction in 2011. However, why did the car driver harrass the elk and move close while the elk were crossing? Bad ethics!

  4. Rancher Bob Avatar
    Rancher Bob

    When I see a herd of elk I count the number of calves, the video is not that good maybe someone can enhance the video. Give it a try, the local F&G look at calf numbers and spike numbers as a indication of a depredation problem. If the herd is finding refugee on a ranch elk can’t get much safer fewer wolves and hunters.

  5. Craig Avatar

    I Bird Hunt pretty much every weekend from King Hill cut over Bennett then down the South Fork and out to Blacks Creek. This Elk Herd is always in the General area and averages 300 to 500 Elk. Sometimes they split and some go to the Simco area and some go to Mayfield. They know the safe havens on the private property. I’m surprised these Wolves have made it with as many Hunters are in this whole area, especially with the extra Doe tags the F&G put out because of the burned area. They just ended last day of December.

  6. Sarah Avatar

    Theres a big difference on watching a herd of 1,200 on a cell phone verses a herd of use to be 20,000 or 60,000 a herd
    There should be a bounty on these wolves
    They populate faster then most prey do and the predator population will rapidly increase question what do you think will happen once all wild life prey is extinct and there are an over population of predators ?

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      That’s absurd.

      1. Salle Avatar

        Indeed, Ken.

      2. IDhiker Avatar

        Good grief! Unbelievable!

    2. Salle Avatar

      The only “overpopulation of predators” any of us need to worry about is the overpopulation of humans – the wannabe king of predators who can’t accept competition of any kind including wildlife – which wolves are. According to some humans, apparently who think like you do, all wildlife is prey, including the predators (not in the classic sense of “prey” per se but they have a voracious desire to kill them all the same). Maybe a good edumacation could be of help to folks who think that way.

    3. Jay Avatar

      20 to 60,000? I remember seeing herds of 2 to 3 million bajillion Sarah…and you should have seen the herds of mastodons and brontosaurusus roaming the plains of Idaho–oh, it was a beautiful sight, but that all came to an end with the reintroduction of these vicious 700 pound canadian wolves!!! What a travesty.

    4. Alan Avatar

      There should be a bounty on ignorance, superstition and fear.

  7. Cobra Avatar

    That’s an impressive herd of elk, but you can’t just look at one winter herd of elk and use that to judge the elk population in the entire state. Same as seeing 8 wolves in one drainage and another 6 in another and then saying that the place is crawling with wolves.
    We saw 15 moose in one drainage christmas day and nearly all were bulls, it was impressive to see that many moose in one drainage. After crossing 3 or 4 more drainages without even seeing a track it was clear that they were all in that one drainage in that particular area.

  8. Scott Avatar

    Nice job on the map you got it right on the spot. This herd moves through that area every couple weeks from November to April depending on weather. I have video of the same herd from Mid-December. Not sure why wolves came up they had nothing to do with that herd and anyone who drives that area is familiar with the herd. There is no resident pack in that area and never will be because no game is around during the summer and they will just get into cattle. We do see dispersers or small groups in the area during the winter though. I took a spike out of it this year up near Camas reservior.

  9. nabeki Avatar

    Elk Numbers: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho (RMEF)(2010/2011)

    Wyoming 2010
    Elk Population 120,000
    Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
    Nonresidents: $577 for permit/$288 for cow-calf permit/$1,057 for special permit
    Hunter Success: 43 percent

    Wyoming 2011
    Elk Population 120,000
    Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
    Nonresidents: $591 for permit/$302 for cow-calf permit/ $1071 for special permit
    Hunter Success: 44 percent

    Montana 2010
    Elk Population: 150,000
    Bull/Cow Ratio: 5-25/100
    Nonresidents: $593
    Hunter Success: 22 percent

    Montana 2011
    Elk Population: 150,000
    Bull/Cow Ratio: 5-25/100
    Nonresidents: $812
    Hunter Success: 16 percent

    Idaho 2010
    Elk Population: 101,000
    Bull/Cow Ratio: 25/100
    Nonresidents: license $155, tag $417
    Hunter Success: 20 percent

    Idaho 2011
    Elk Population: 103,000
    Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
    Nonresidents: license $155, tag $417
    Hunter Success: 19 percent

    373,000 elk in the Tri-State area, the same as 2010, that’s lots of elk!! In fact Montana elk numbers have remained constant @ 150,000 since 2009. Idaho’s population changed from 107,000 in 2009 to 101,000 in 2010 to 103,000 in 2011. Wyoming elk numbers grew from 105,000 in 2009 to 120,000 in 2010, 2011.

    Elk are more elusive since their old “lolling around @ stream bed days, munching down trees”. There’s a smart predator in town (I’m talking about the wolf) and they know it. “Ecology of Fear”. So stop bellyaching elk hunters.

    Elk are doing just fine in the Northern Rockies, the wolves are not. THREE HUNDRED SIXTY ONE dead wolves in the combined hunts. That’s not counting wolves dying at the hands of Wildlife Services and poachers.

    186 shot
    42 trapped or snared

    133 shot

    And it’s only January!


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