Bear kills researcher in the Teton Wilderness
Body found near remote Cub Creek-
Reported missing on Sept. 7, the body of Adam Thomas Stewart has been found 3 miles north his camp in Cub Creek in the remote Teton Wilderness area, southeast of Yellowstone Park. Stewart was found near two deer carcasses that the bear was probably eating. The condition of his body has not been reported.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department has said that he probably died from a bear bite. The kind of bear was not identified, but most suspected is a grizzly. Reportedly DNA tests are being done on fur found on or near his body to determine the bear’s species. The area noted for its density of both grizzly and black bears. This writer saw a grizzly in Cub Creek back in the late 1970s when the big bears were at an all time low population in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Stewart, aged 31, worked for Nature’s Capital Ecological Assessment Services. They are located in Boise, Idaho. Reports have not made it clear what kind of research he was doing.
Judging from the description, Stewart was probably found on the roadless, trailess Cub Creek Plateau, a few miles from the Continental Divide. People superficially acquainted with Northwest Wyoming often confuse the Teton Wilderness with the Teton Mountains or Grand Teton National Park. However, the Wilderness is NE of the Park and covers a much larger tract of land, all of it roadless.
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.
140 Responses to Bear kills researcher in the Teton Wilderness
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This would be the first time since 2011 that a person has been killed in the GYA by a grizzly bear. Ralph, is this the first time a person has been killed by a grizzly in the teton wilderness? Wether it is or not, it is still a tragic case.
Another thing i’m wondering is wether they plan to kill the bear or not, because (correct me if this is only an NPS policy) they leave grizzly bears alone if an attack on a human was because of “natural causes” such as being surprised, defending cubs, etc. It looks like in this case the bear was defending the deer carcasses.
I think so, at least in recent years. In 2011 there was the death of the botanist in Kitty Creek in the Washakie Wilderness. The Washakie and Teton Wilderness are in fact, on the ground, one huge roadless wilderness area.
Fatal grizzly attacks in Greater Yellowstone have tended to occur inside YNP, or immediately outside the Park, typically in developed sites (Cooke City 2010, Hebgen Lake 1983). I can’t think of a fatal attack in the Teton Wilderness prior to this one.
Ralph, I think the Dubois paper said Mr. Stewart was surveying vegetation.
I would also say, in general, fatal attacks occurred with people not living in the GYE and most aren’t carrying bear spray.
The cooke city campground would be the one exception to all the rules, maybe since the Swiss woman in the ’80s
True, the victims tend to be non-residents. For GYE, going back to 1972, we see Alabama, Wisconsin, Switzerland, Illinois, Michigan, California, Michigan, Utah represented.
Relying on memory, I can’t come up with very many local victims. William Tesinsky of Great Falls was killed in Hayden Valley in 1986, likely while approaching a female grizzly for photos. Similar circumstances for Charles Gibbs (Libby, MT) less than a year later in Glacier NP (see one of his last photos here: http://www.lukeallenhumphrey.com/Share/GlacierNP/Gibbs.jpg ). Timothy Hilston of Great Falls was fatally mauled in November 2001 while gutting an elk he had shot, near Ovando.
Noteworthy: Between 1998 [Craig Dahl, Glacier NP and 2010 [Erwin Evert, outside YNP], Timothy Hilston was the only person killed by a grizzly in the lower 48; then we had that run of fatalities in 2010-11, then a three-year fatality-free run until unfortunate Mr. Stewart. This is not counting Steve Stevenson, who was actually killed by a bullet while being mauled by a grizzly illegally wounded by his hunting partner http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2011/09/17/illegally-shot-wounded-grizzly-kills-hunter-on-the-idaho-montana-border-near-british-columbia/ .
I have not crunched the numbers, but the fatalities seem to be notably low, especially considering growth in numbers of people recreating in grizzly country, with simultaneous growth in numbers and distribution of grizzlies.
Take out fatalities that probably could have been prevented/avoided (I won’t say definitely, but I’d put better than even odds that some of these were preventable/avoidable), and the numbers are really low. Thank goodness that attacks like the ones on Brigitta Fredenhagen (1984 YNP) and Kevin Kammer (2010 near Cooke City) are rare.
Bear spray and smarter behavior would likely have made a difference in the two 2011 YNP fatalities. We’ll have to get more details before speculating about Adam Stewart, though.
It’s terribly unfortunate, but I don’t think this researcher would want the bear destroyed. I know I wouldn’t if I were injured or if I were killed out in the wilderness. It is a risk that goes with the territory and one that people voluntarily take on.
Why wasn’t he advised to carry bear spray? Doesn’t seem like that company is watching out after their people.
Ralph, I am curious. I am very familiar with the Winds and Green River but not so much north of the highway. Would ‘so many bears’ in the north area have any relationship to the bottleneck and relocation/killing of bears in the Green River due to livestock predation. That is the most problem area and because of all the livestock, bears are prevented from getting into the Wind Rivers in the numbers they should be there. Seems like this area is just north of the road, not far from Union Pass.
It is not very close to Union Pass the way bears travel along the Continental Divide backcountry to the Upper Green. I would say no. The Teton Wilderness has always been one of the “beariest” places south of Yellowstone Park.
When I did research for my two guidebooks to the Teton Wilderness, I was always aware of grizzlies when I was backpacking. Those were published in 1984 and 2000.
thanks Ralph. I was up at Jade lake this summer by Brooks Lake. The road was closed on and off and although I wanted to hike Bonneville pass, the road would have been closed on the way back. That is one of the most beautiful places in the GYE.
There are not many places more beautiful than Bonneville Pass. When my coauthor to the guide to the Teton and Washakie Wilderness, Lee Mercer, died of an unexpected heart attack at age 40, I went up on Bonneville Pass and the Continental Divide for a week to mourn him.
Most bear attacks have certain common denominators: they are not talking, singing or making other human noises and surprise the bear in a close encounter, the bear is protecting young or recent kills, they are unable to use or do not have bear spray and most important; they are alone.
I have done vegetation surveys but my employer would always send 2 or more people for safety and efficiency reasons. I would hope after this fatality, this employer would make sure two or more people worked together at all times. I’m glad that I worked for an employer who constantly reminded us that there is NOTHING more important than to make sure employees come back safe.
I thought about going backpacking alone, to really be able to savor some places, but then I thought how I’d feel about those giant newly-overturned boulders you sometimes come across. It makes me a bit anxious even when in company. Or imagine spotting a griz in the distance above treeline, when they see you too, alone. I don’t go for the danger.
I don’t know how to objectively weigh it, but consider this. Recall we have heard arguments of people not using Wilderness (with or without the capital W), because of changing interests, etc., which detracts from the base of wilderness supporters.
So, you add in a bunch more grizzlies in the GYE, WA, MT, and other Western states, and maybe some more attacks (field work, fishing, hunting, hiking. car or back country camping). Would there be enough concern of the possibility of a bad grizzly encounter to keep people AWAY from some areas in larger numbers? I have to think of places like the Wind River range, where grizzlies might increase in numbers, and which draws folks from all over the US/world these days, that maybe it will keep some away, whether hiking alone or with one or more companions. And, there is a lot of country here above tree line or on predominantly granite landscape that simply does not have trees to climb.
WM – regarding the Wind River mountains, they do not strike me as highly productive habitat for grizzlies across much of the range. We were up North Fork Popo Agie last fall, and I was struck by the lack of plant abundance and diversity in there.
The country up around Union Pass — sort of in between country where the Winds, Absaroka, and Gros Ventre come together — may be a different story, given the number of bears that seem to have moved back in there. And just over the divide in the headwaters of Wind River/Du Noir country, there’s a lot of precip and deep soil (which is why there used to be so much logging in that country, I guess). There are a lot of grizzlies in there. But I’d never expect there to be a lot of them in the high, granitic country of the Wind River mountains.
I was thinking more “perception” than reality, and bear density could vary. Link to what WFG seems to think is suitable grizzly habitat (as of 2005) in the Wind River Range, including the Res. Hard to know what kind of density there could be if left alone over time. The reservation side is wetter, and maybe more productive for vegetation, and thus berries and prey. Maybe even some more cattle, though my memory is that they seasonally occupy both sides.
For those not familiar with where we are talking about, there are maps at the end of this memo – draw a triangle with the points of Dubois>Pinedale>Lander, that is basically the Wind River Range.
Understood. I know for many folks, “grizzly free” is an important criterion in selecting a recreation site. Places they’d gotten used to as “grizzly free” aren’t anymore. More solitude for the rest of us?
Grizzlies have been moving into the wind river mountains since the 1990s. While the gravel-covered mountain tops you have described would obviously not be good habitat for grizzlies, but the areas with whitebark pine is suitable habitat, and there has been very good production there.
SAP, I just came back from my yearly trip to the Winds, this time out Big Sandy north towards Washakie Creek. The white bark cone production was phenomenal! Easily over 100 cones per most trees and the level of beetle kill was about 30-40%.
Here where I live in the Absarokas, the beetle kill is around 80-90% and the transects are showing a ‘good’ crop this year of around 20 cones/tree on the remaining 20%.
Also, there are moth sites in the Wind Rivers. There are no moth sites in the Beartooths, even though there are white bark pines up there too.
I would beg to differ with you just on those two things alone, but there is also a large variety of plant life on the western side such as berries [raspberries, huckleberries, salmonberries] and roots and tubers.
If you’ve ever been to Dinwoody creek area on the eastern side, the wildlife habitat is fantastic.
The only reason the Winds aren’t more inhabited by bears has to do with the Green River valley.
Good to know! I did see a tremendous number of red needle whitebarks (current beetle kill) up around Christina Lake, on the far south end of the Winds a year ago. The Winds being so high, as well as lower latitude, though, perhaps there are some places where whitebark will thrive in spite of beetles. Thanks for the update.
Yes, some areas have been hit harder than others by beetles i.e. Europe Canyon/Dream lake area which is the middle Winds. But the southern winds seem to be holding their own well. I was there about 3 or 4 years ago in the same area–Washakie creek/Shadow Lake and the beetle kill looked about the same.
Last year I went up Glacier trail and beetle kill along with fires had impacted a lot of good trees.
This unfortunate accident and this one, http://www.calgaryherald.com/Grizzly+involved+fatal+attack+hunter+will+stay+Country+with/10196069/story.html is a good reminder why it’s not a good idea to do field work alone.
Even in regions that don’t have grizzlies there are other wildlife and other things that could happen. I’m sitting in the office today when I should be and need to be in the field, but I had no one to go with me. It is frustrating when one has work that needs to be done in a specific frame of time. I’ve been warned so many times about the feral hogs, rattle snakes, bobcats, and so forth, and I do go out alone sometimes, but not where I’ve been working this summer. It is simply too far from anyone that could help, or that would know where to find me if I encountered trouble.
These are unfortunate accidents but a good reminder of why one should wait for a field partner.
I’d say fall is the most dangerous time of year in heavy griz country. These bears just want to eat in order to get a good winter’s sleep.
Land of the free…home of the BRAVE…
Whilst I have every sympathy for the man & his family at this sad time, I have to wonder at the wholly different attitudes being shown towards bears than is shown towards wolves. Wolves are incorrectly perceived & persecuted as child stalking man killers & there is a hue & cry for their deaths whenever so much as a sheep is taken, yet when a bear kills a human, the onus tends to be on the human for something they did or didn’t know or do ie carrying bear spray, being from out of the area etc. Now I’m certainly NOT advocating any action against the bear, I support all wildlife & their right to live in peace, I am just curious about the difference in attitudes. Can someone enlighten me?
Ian, there are many reasons why wolves are managed differently than bears but IMO the two main reasons are economics and the ESA.
Bears being omnivores rarely kill livestock whereas wolves being carnivores occasionally kill sheep and cattle thus directly affecting a ranchers livelihood. Wolves are efficient hunters and once they make a kill on livestock, they tend to repeat the practice with the alpha pair teaching their pups how to hunt. Grizzlies that do kill livestock will be relocated but a repeat offender is subject to being destroyed as well.
Since wolves main prey in the Rockies is elk and elk hunting is big buisiness, state agencies see them as a deterrent to providing elk hunters optimum hunting opportunities. In areas where the habitat is marginal and degrading and elk numbers are declining, state agencies take a quick-fix solution with the removal of individual or entire wolf packs.
The vast majority of wolves killed in the Rockies are taken by hunters and trappers. To date in Montana it appears ~20 wolves have been killed when livestock predation occured.
Grizzlies are a ESA listed species, thus affording them more protection as wolves are now de-listed. When a grizzly is found protecting a kill or their cubs, they are provided lenience whereas if it was a predatory attack on a human, the bear will be destroyed. The distortion of wolves as a threat to human safety has been debunked as we learn more about these social animals.
“Bears being omnivores rarely kill livestock whereas wolves being carnivores occasionally kill sheep and cattle thus directly affecting a ranchers livelihood.
False statement. In five western states (CO,ID,MT,UT,WY) in 2009 Bears accounted for 10,100 sheep deaths, wolves 2500. Wolves .02% of cattle, bears .01%.
How many bears (mostly black), and how many wolves? Per capita is probably a more reasoned analysis (including deducting out bears and wolves that are not in places where they can get to domestic stock). By the way, there are, officially anyway, essentially no wolves in CO and UT, and no recorded stock kills by wolves – so back those states out completely.
“By the way, there are, officially anyway, essentially no wolves in CO and UT, and no recorded stock kills by wolves”
Thanks for the enlightenment on this I would have never guessed that. You could become the new Mr. Obvious. I suppose next you’ll be telling me there are no griz in those states either.
This was not meant to be an in depth analysis, merely to point out bears do kill a lot of livestock.
“By-the-way” throwing out the two states without wolves it was Wolves 2500, Bears 2300 sheep. Pretty close.
Well, it was pretty “obvious” you were trying to stack the statistics with the number of bear-killed livestock.
I think we both know there are essentially no grizzlies in CO or UT, but maybe some other folks don’t know that.
Let’s also consider that wherever wolves get an appetite for livestock they get removed. That of course means the statistics would be a whole bunch higher if those wolves were left to do their thing. Let’s see now, where have wolves munched on livestock and been removed:
West – ID, MT, WY, WA, OR
SW – AZ, NM
GL – MN, MI, WI
How many wolves have been killed for killing livestock. The numbers are out there. Let’s just say the per capita rate and total numbers of wolf killed livestock could have been MUCH higher, than bears (grizzly or black).
Apparently you have difficulty reading. I said,
“This was not meant to be an in depth analysis, merely to point out bears do kill a lot of livestock.”
You don’t need a white paper to refute a blanket statement.
Can you link to the data source? Thanks.
To add to Gary’s comment.
Wolves = high reproduction rate + rapid expansion of range due to ability to utilize wide range of habitat. Consume more than 17-23 ungulates (deer/elk) during the standard research year of November thru April. Active year round.
Grizzlies = low reproduction rate + slow expansion of range due to need for specialized habitat. Omnivore. Hibernate in winter months, so don’t go after as many winter weakened ungulates (though they do get their share of young of the year in Spring).
Few grizzlies in few places. More wolves than states want in more and more places. I suspect there are other distinctions, but eventually there will be more grizzlies in more places where people don’t want them for various reasons.
Oh WM, wolves do not have a high reproduction rate. Not all of the pups make it. Is that your way of trying to call them vermin?
Wolves – usually begin bearing litters around age 3; average litter size between 4 and 6; more than one female per pack may reproduce if resources are abundant; mate and produce litters generally every year.
Grizzly bears – usually breed for the first time around age 6 or 7; average litter size around 2; interbreeding interval around 3-4 years.
You do the math.
Again, there’s a lot of ‘mays’, ‘if’s’ and probablys that ‘may’ not reflect the actual situation. With smaller habitat and climate change, and escalating pressure from human hunting (shoot on sight, poaching, hunters having the ability to shoot for their perceptions only, etc. etc.
Resources may never be ‘abundant’ (keep dreaming) and so a second female would rarely reproduce, unless the current breeding female was killed, as in the Huckleberry Pack.
So there’s a lot of variables there.
As far as bears, going into dens to kill them and cubs has got to be one of the most reprehensible things I have ever heard of.
Resources for wolves are abundant in the GYA. Right now. On the ground. Abundant prey base of large ungulates and smaller rodents, lagomorphs, and allied species. Mostly courtesy of our need to do what people argue about – maintain artificially high populations of game species for humans to hunt. No dreaming required. There are several records of wolf packs in the GYA producing more than one litter per year in the short time they have been present in this ecosystem – again, not fantasy, and not my opinion. Direct observations. Wolf populations have the ability to rebound quickly, and to colonize new areas quickly, given the chance to do either, and that was WM’s postulate, and you know it. Grizzly bear populations do not. This was my point, and the data I posted came from a series of demographic and vital rate publications I’d be happy to provide (although they’re easily obtained online). I’m making no judgments about either species – I respect and appreciate both.
What on Earth people killing bear cubs in dens has to do with anything, I do not know. People generally do not kill grizzly cubs in their dens – I have not read of a single event of this type in the GYA since the bears earned protection. Their dens are inaccessible during the winter; they den on slopes at higher altitude, in deep snow, usually in remote locations.
TC – I believe Ida might of been referring to the “hunting” practices in Alaska that are now being called in to question with new regs.
Hunting season on bears from Sept to May? Hello?
“…wolves do not have a high reproduction rate. Not all of the pups make it.”
Yet again, your fingers fire faster than your synapses. Four variables fundamentally determine the size of a population: (1) births (reproduction), (2) deaths, (3) immigration, (4) emigration. Four to six offspring/year is a rate of reproduction for a large mammal and reproduction/births is different from deaths (“not all pups make it”).
“Is that your way of trying to call them vermin?”
Correction: “…is a high rate of reproduction for a large mammal…”
Oh, don’t sound so shocked. It’s no higher than many other mammals, (kind of in the middle, I would think) and total population is the important thing. Again, as a practical matter, not all pups will make it to adulthood.
Even Octomom had eight, in addition to the six she had at home.
Sadly, I’m not shocked at all. Faulty premises have become a specialty.
And again, you answer the critique with an anecdote. (You do understand that “Octomom” underwent IVF, right? Never mind, I’m sure the significance of this fact is utterly lost on you.)
You seem to be the one with the narrow mind. I understood TC to mean that because of the wolf’s so-called ‘high’ reproduction rate, it justified high hunting quotas. All I said was that there were other factors to consider besides the litter size.
Yes, of course I know this woman had IVF, and a worse candidate I cannot imagine. She’s certainly not the only one. Her doctor had his medical license revoked. And again, total population is what counts.
Anyway why do you always attack my comments? Don’t you have anything better to do? I thought you said you like to take potshots at squirrels at the bird feeder while you wife laughs about it?
“…why do you always attack my comments?”
Call me stubbornly optimistic, but I keep thinking that if I point out enough obviously false statements, you’ll adjust your behavior.
“I understood TC to mean that because of the wolf’s so-called ‘high’ reproduction rate, it justified high hunting quotas. All I said was that there were other factors to consider besides the litter size.”
No Ida, that’s not all you said. In fact, you said: “…wolves do not have a high reproduction rate. Not all of the pups make it.”
Let’s deconstruct this [TC’s presumed] argument and see if we can make some headway.
Note: This is an argument for illustrative purposes that fleshes out the logic that results in the conclusion you say you object to.
[premise1] Wolves have high reproductive rates.
[premise2] Wolves CAN withstand high human-caused mortality.
[ethical premise] Hunting animals is acceptable if their populations can withstand human-caused mortality.
[conclusion] We should allow hunting of wolves.
Note: First and foremost, premise #1–the one you objected to, is absolutely factually accurate. More important however, it isn’t required for the argument. All that’s required is premise #2 (wolves can withstand high human caused mortality) and the ethical premise. Importantly, if either of these premises are incorrect, this argument fails.
Enter Ida: You ultimately object to the ethical premise, but rather than spend your time writing about why the ethical premise is wrong [the justification provided is inadequate], you attack the factual premises, which are genuinely sound. Here’s why it matters, Ida: Arguing that wolves don’t have high reproductive rates makes you look a fool, and thus diminishes the weight given to everything you write. As soon as you do it, anyone with knowledge of wolves rolls their eyes and stops listening. So they keyboard diarrhea WM mentions may make you feel better, but it reduces the effectiveness of your advocacy. Moreover, they statements you continuously make on this forma are the exact types of statements that people who want fewer wolves point to when they say things like “those wolf lovers don’t have a clue about the science” and “wolf lovers are all about emotion”; so when you make them, you may actually reduce the effectiveness of everyone’s advocacy.
No, JB, you are wrong. I actually would
supportperhaps reluctantly tolerate is a better description because I could never support what is going on today some limited hunting if it didn’t harm the wolf population. I’ve said as much, many times, about legitimate protection of livestock.
But we can see there is no such thing – there are too many other human variables and self-serving interests, and a healthy wolf population really doesn’t appear to be one of them now, after all we’ve witnessed. I still think that wolves’ reproduction rate isn’t higher than other similar mammals, nor am I convinced that they rebound quickly. That’s all rationalization for hunting and killing, and to sell it to a naïve public. I’m not buying.
They are singled out, in what appears to be a more acceptable way of calling them vermin. Wyoming even classifies them as such? And of course, we know that they and coyotes have been called ‘varmints’ for decades by livestock growers and others.
I really don’t care what you, WM and especially what anti-wolf types think of my comments. I’d actually take that in a positive way if they discredit me. At any rate, I’m not concerned. I’m not worried about how my advocacy comes across. Perhaps you should aim your criticism at WI’s DNR, run by a high school graduate and real estate developer with no background at all in science, and making decisions about the state’s wildlife?
I should add that ‘those who want fewer wolves’ don’t know anything about science either, and are extremely emotional about getting rid of wolves (the angry, hateful and spiteful kinds of emotions). There are numerous examples, the latest being Toby Bridges.
Why would I take seriously anything they say, and why would anybody.
“I actually would support [perhaps reluctantly tolerate] is a better description because I could never support what is going on today some limited hunting if it didn’t harm the wolf population. I’ve said as much, many times, about legitimate protection of livestock.”
Well gosh, that sure clears things up!
Sorry Ida, I’m not letting you off the hook that easily. You have said a few times that you would ‘support some limited killing of wolves’ (under pressure from me and others), but you’ve never once articulated the conditions under which killing would be acceptable and never [at least in my recollection] have you actually came out in support of ANY management action that resulted in dead wolves–or for that matter, any other wildlife (which suggests, at best, you’re being extremely disingenuous).
If you don’t like the illustrative argument I’ve provided, then articulate your own principled argument–and do be sure to detail the specific conditions under which you think hunting or lethal control are justified.
BTW, you wrote that you could accept “limited hunting if it didn’t harm the wolf population.” Okay Ida, what constitutes “harm” to the wolf population? Despite hunting, trapping and lethal control there were a minimum of 1690 gray wolves in the NRMs during 2013 (hardly a precipitous decline). There are also adjacent protected wolves now in Washington and Oregon (due to an EXPANDING population), and hunted and trapped wolves in adjacent Canadian provinces that are doing fine. So you’ve got an uphill battle illustrating the ‘harm’ that’s allegedly befallen NRM wolf POPULATIONS (not individuals, Ida–your words, not mine).
I don’t want to get into a battle about this, I really don’t know how much hunting I could tolerate. I’d have to think about it for awhile. I’m very dismayed that after delisting hunting was started immediately.
I do respect your opinions and your knowledge.
Just to be clear – I was in no way arguing that because wolves can rebound (to a point) from population hits much faster than grizzly bears, that they should be hunted zealously and with what appears to be a lot of malice. Just contrasting two large predators from an ecological perspective. A part of me very much enjoys that they’re both out there, and my time in wild places is made more meaningful by their presence.
that they should be hunted zealously and with what appears to be a lot of malice.
OK 🙂 But you really got this, what the problem is that makes some of us not fully endorse, shall we say, the hunting of wolves. There’s an added element of irrational hate that really shows that they still need some kind of protection; if not relisting, then something.
You can’t wipe out and entire species because they are inconvenient. The livestock grower, supposedly being the one of higher intelligence, must find a way to work within the natural system – not destroy it. I don’t know what to say about hunters – you can’t wipe out an entire species because they are competition for elk. You’ll have to do with less.
There are times of plenty and times of less. Throughout history most of humankind lived within that. Today, we have no concept of restraint or conserving when times are tough, or the wonderful creativity people have demonstrated over the years to accommodate times of less. Some years there will be more elk, and other years not. It won’t be the same, neither will climate, and we will have to adjust. Modern people are spoiled.
Some years there will be more wolves and some years less wolves. Wildlife watches are just gong to have to look harder and adjust. Modern wolf watchers are spoiled with thier wolf farm in the Lamar Valley.
Yes! That’s why we can’t go ballistic on them all the time, every year.
I beg to differ. One of the most significant things about Yellowstone wildlife is that it is not farmed.
“Some years there will be more wolves and some years less wolves. Wildlife watches are just gong to have to look harder and adjust.”
Gee, wish hunters could grasp that concept.
Most people living in the Northwest only need to drive a few miles to watch an elk. All I need to do here is look out the window for a few minutes in the morning to see a deer. That is in contrast to driving 850 miles to Yellowstone for the possibility of seeing a wolf. Then there is the drive back.
“The livestock grower, supposedly being the one of higher intelligence”
Humans are considered the species with the highest intelligence. We’ve created many technological marvels and progressed to a point where we’ve designed a world where many of us live longer and healthier. (still, most people in the world are impoverished) In the process of all that progress created by our highly intelligent species we have created a mess on every large ecosystem on the planet; wiped our entire species just for the fun of it (Faroe Island wolves) Lately, I’ve begun think that we humans are highly intelligent for short term progress, but stupid when it comes to long term thinking, planning and design. Give that colonialism has spread across every continent and, with it came the concept of capitalism on steroids. We seem to be incapable of thinking of consequences beyond two generations. In the end, it will be to our detriment. It’s too bad we will take many other species with us on our way down. The planet will recover and stragglers that survive and evolve will study the effects of our stupidity. People balk at this concept, but all one has to do is look at the geological past. It has happened before and it will happen again, and our highly intelligent species is accelerating this process. Aren’t we the smart ones?
“We seem to be incapable of thinking of consequences beyond two generations.”
A recurring theme in Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”.
“and hunted and trapped wolves in adjacent Canadian provinces that are doing fine”
Maybe JB, maybe:
Ian, everyone has provided good responses to your question of the difference in treatment of grizzlies and wolves. What no one has yet addressed is the folklore and mythology that was brought to this continent by the Europeans.
1. The English had exterminated wolves in England by 1500.
2. Folklore. They brought their mythology, folklore and fear. There are many versions of tales about wolf attacks on humans. The general theme remains the same: “A traveler starts on his trip in the dusk; he hears wolves and is surrounded by hungry pack trying to attack; then comes some type of sacrifice (sometimes a baby, sometimes an animal, but the traveler(s) always throw something to the wolves and because of the sacrifice they are spared. This traveler tale came over with the Europeans and did not die until the Euro-Americans had exterminated wolves in the lower 48. It’s mythology that was handed down through the generations and spread westward across this continent with as Euro-Americans emigrated westward.
3. Religion. Christianity was introduced by Europeans, and Christians viewed wolves as evil; an animal that had no redeeming qualities.
4. A new economic philosophy was introduced with the spread of colonialism. Capitalism. Private ownership. Europeans introduced cattle, sheep and pigs and they did need those animals for food. They brought with them the concept of private ownership, so they viewed any animal that killed that “property” as the enemy and set forth killing all the wildlife they could kill. With wolves, killing them wasn’t satisfactory. It often included long drawn out torture—digging pits to trap them and then they would cut their hamstrings and sic their domestic dogs on them; drag them behind horses; wire their mouths shut and sic their dogs on them; and other forms of torture. And of course, bounties, we can’t forget the bounties. The bounties for wolves began with the early colonists and did not stop until the formation of the USDA, Wildlife Services predecessor, The Bureau of Biology Survey, which has morphed and changed agencies a few times. The intent was wildlife ‘damage control’ and meant to protect livestock, or ‘property.
This mythology and loathing of wolves is deeply ingrained in the culture of early Euro-Americans, and it spread West with their emigration across the continent. Many of the people that torture, hunt and hate wolves in the current era are the descendants those people that settled and ranched the West. The mythology is still deeply ingrained in this American sub-culture.
Yes, that’s what I was getting at too.
” 3 – Religion. Christianity was introduced by Europeans, and Christians viewed wolves as evil; an animal that had no redeeming qualities”
Its interesting to note Yvette, in my little community, those that really despise wolves, are god fearing, bible thumpers.
Except for the local outfitter, not a church going guy but he would definitely qualify under #4 – Capitalism. He hates wolves.
Use to have block management hunting set up at 2 of the local ranches til he “secured/bought?” the rights to privately hunt their property.
I dubbed him the “road warrior” a few years ago because he spends over half his time running his clients up and down the road looking for pockets of elk, migrating out of the area. Not much hunting involved and back in time for lunch and a nap before heading out again come afternoon.
Who pays $3 to $5 grand for an experience like that? Or, is Elk’s example of big game hunting more in tune with the times:
“Getting their fat asses on a horse”
or worse, getting their fat asses in a truck and wander a few yards out in some rancher’s field to go kill wildlife so they can brag about their hunting trip, out there in the “wilds” of Montana 🙂
A trick I used to shut up the “god fearing, bible thumpers” is to ask them to explain how there perfect God managed to mistakenly make the wolf? They usually look dumbfounded while stammering to come up with an answer.
Thanks for the advise Timz. Not that simple in parts of this country where “closed minds” continue to rule the landscape, wildlife and politics.
Gee, and here I thought wolves just showed up around humans, using opportunities to test what might become the next easy meal. So, for hundreds (maybe thousands of years), humans and their animals have had to deal with opportunistic wolves killing dogs and livestock of humans, wherever they are around the entire world, maybe even some human mortality. And, around that grew a mythology (read as cautionary education for children and parents or practical risk management). And, in what cultures have we seen this? Well, it’s not just Christianity, it is in Muslim countries (Afghanistan, for example in 2005 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/1485497/Starving-wolves-kill-six-Afghan-villagers.html ), or elsewhere formal Western religions maybe are slow to catch on, like Lapland and Mongolia and the steppes of Russia.
Christianity and Western Europe certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on wolf-centric folklore, or events leading to it.
The first provincial government of the State of Oregon was based on a need to control wolves getting to livestock in the Willamette Valley, at a place called French Prairie in the mid 1800’s. Not mythology, a need to control livestock losses.
postscript: I had friends living in a rural Afghanistan town in the late 1960’s. He was a friend of my father, and worked for the State Department as an agricultural scientist. The family went over there for the two year assignment, including the family dog, a neutered male standard breed poodle, about 60 pounds. The locals warned, they did not allow their children or pets out after dark because of wolves (no street lights in this town). Our friend’s son let the dog out to do his business one night. In just a couple minutes the dog was dead from a pack of wolves (they heard the cries). No mythology here. A true 20th Century story.
When there were a lot more of them, there may have been a bit of truth to these stories, but today they no longer apply.
Wherever domestic livestock has been introduced, it has spelled disaster for native predators – such as lions in Africa. It’s asking the impossible, to have them stay away from livestock. Unless as I said before, humans want to rid the world of all predators to further their own ends. What a world that will be.
Wow WM, talk about a twist and a slant. Everything in my post is documented in various historical documents.
And, yet the full story is much broader and wide-spread in how wolves and humans have attempted co-existence, where livestock, domestic pets, human life (to a degree) are involved. It is not just America with origins in Western Europe, and Christianity. Say, for example, the Arabian wolf (Canis lupis arabs), which has a fondness for domestic goats, and which now occupies a very small part of its historic range. So, would it be OK to say Muslims hate wolves too? But, then some folks are gullible, or purposely don’t want to acknowledge and tell the WHOLE story.
Give us time, we’ll get to other cultures’ views. Right now, we’re dismayed about the backslide of America back into wolf eradication of the past.
I’m always dismayed about how religious texts are taken out of context to suit their own purposes.
This is quite beautiful, I think:
There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.
— Quran 6:38
Not so different than the Christian bible, and we know how that is misinterpreted.
My initial post provided reasons why there is an inordinate amount of mythology surrounding wolves on the N. American continent and the origins of that mythology that was brought here by European immigrants.
This continent wasn’t overrun with immigrants from Afghanistan or Arabia, so their religion, myths and folklore was not implanted into the social mores of the descendants of the early European immigrants.
Now if you want me to pull the citations to the historical documents, I can do that, but right now I have window trim to paint, ….if the rain passes.
My interpretation, and a correct one, was that you were indicting Europeans and Christianity as villians in the persecution of wolves in America. My point, one you apparently don’t understand, dismiss or choose to ignore for your own reasons, is that wolves have been persecuted throughout the world where they interface with humans, their pets and their livestock for centuries. Mythology has also grown up around these wolves, and mostly not in a positive way.
Grizzlies or European brown bears, not so much. Mostly because they are not coursing predators, travelling great distances and constantly testing their prey. That is another concept some folks here choose to ignore for their own reasons.
Yvette: it was just a small point about singling out Christianity. Had the settlers all worshiped Norse Gods or been Druids it probably wouldn’t have helped much. We get the myth stuff (well written), just not that the problem is christian-caused. Religions accumulate baggage from the area.
PS, I’m not defending my religion: got none.
I’ll admit it’s likely hunter-gathering cultures have religions more favorable to wolves than those of people with lots of livestock, but is that the fault of the religion?
Thank you, Rork! It is my nature to attempt to understand why something works, or how a tenet came to be. Two years ago when the Wedge pack was killed I and I heard Bill McIvine’s inflammatory language, I needed to know how we had gotten to this point. I needed to attempt to understand what made the anti-wolf and predator hunter side tick. I’ve learned much in the process, but there is much to learn.
It isn’t only the Christianity that was introduced with the Euro-settlers, but also the things I mentioned in my initial post that likely coalesced to form the culture that grew and spread here in N. America. How do we improve relations between opposing views and improve conservation and habitat for wildlife if we don’t know the history of the opposing view? I may never understand why anyone would want to kill a wolf or a cougar or a bear, (for sport) but I do want to try to understand the potential reasons for how they came to hold that view.
I am 1/2 Indian and 1/2 White and I have quite a few serious issues with Christianity due only to how they conducted themselves in the policies directed toward Indigenous people of this continent. For me, it isn’t history from a few hundred years ago, it comes right up to my generation. But the reason I singled out Christianity is that is the religion that came with the main cultures that settled in America. And those from England did indeed view wolves as evil. Now factor in the different economic philosophies they introduced (private ownership) and I start to see it coalesce. It’s all quite interesting, but I am glad to see many people starting to view predator species as belonging on this continent.
How would we get to the ‘land of milk and honey’ without being overrun by cattle (golden calf?) and European honeybees?
wolves and native americans demonized, tortured and eliminated
bad, ignorant, intolerant and inhumane policies persisting to this day
If wolves killed this man, the crazy wolf haters would have used this as an excuse to try to wipeout the whole species.
Ian: Hear Hear!! Well spoken.
I am a year late replying to this, but a good book to enlighten on this subject is called “Crossing The Next Meridian”. It addresses our ranching and rural lifestyles, paradigms and attitudes.
Clarification on fourth paragraph. It should have stated “To date in Montana in calendar year 2014 it appears ~20 wolves have been killed when livestock predation occured”.
Gary – 46 wolves have been killed in Montana to date for livestock depredation (over 20 on public lands) Sheep depredations are way down> Maybe that rancher in the southwest part of the state was told to either step up to the plate and protect his product (sheep) or no more compensation?
Why are wolves so persecuted? As you say, there are plenty of other predators out there too.
I think it is one of humankind’s peculiar, idiosyncratic singling out one animal over most all others (snakes get a bad rap too) due to perceptions of our own minds passed down through the ages in myth, that aren’t always based in reality. There might have been a grain of truth centuries ago that no longer apply in modern times. Carl Jung’s collective unconscious archetypes? Or religion?
^^What makes it even more head-scratchingly screwy is that humans love the domestic dog, whose ancestor was the wolf.
Most ranchers and “hunters” that yap about wolves hate grizzlies just as much. They just can’t get away with persecuting them as they can with wolves. I think if you did a survey nationwide you’d find public perception of the bear would be overwhelmingly positive. What kid didn’t grow up without a teddy bear or love Yogi and Bo0Boo? 😉
And I’m sure WM can come up with some numbers that prove my statement about teddy bears and Yogi to be somehow flawed.
I don’t have any numbers but I will say this, anyone who bases their opinion of wolves or bears on cartoon characters is flawed whether they love them or hate them.
And anyone that can’t see one someone is joking is an idiot. I guess you qualify.
At least the guy who qualifies as an idiot can spell.
Ah, anther half-wit with nohing to do but check others for tyos.
I put several hear so you’ll hv something to do.
And BTW, it’s a mistake using the word ‘one’ instead of ‘when’, not a spelling error. If your going to police the posts at least get it right.
Another J.O. that can’t use his real name.
If you post sarcasm, don’t be surprised when you get sarcastic replies.
🙂 A little bear is very very cute. I just am sickened when I think of how we’ve tortured them in our past. I have no doubt it will happen again, once these people get a delisting, just like with the wolves and bison.
Have you read “Of Wolves and Men” by Barry Lopez?
Here’s an excerpt from one chapter:
“Why are wolves so persecuted?”
Maybe because humans are a lot like wolves–social,hunters,live in family groups, territorial…Humans used to look to wolves for their models–think Romulus and Remus or the stories of the girl who was raised by wolves, or the native peoples who looked to wolves as their hunting models.
Bears on the other hand are downright cute! And humans all over the northern hemisphere had pretty much the same legend about the ‘bear who married the girl’ and that girl came back with her 2 bear/human sons to teach the people what to eat and how to hunt. This is a myth worldwide, not just in the Americas.
So maybe we just need a new, yet old, story to tell about these animals.
“So maybe we just need a new, yet old, story to tell about these animals”
Or maybe, our species needs a BIG time out, to educate future generations of our species to what our domination (of other species and lands) is doing to planet earth?
The clues are all around us – entire ecosystems crashing whether they be lands or oceans. Not rocket science…….
Very good article with quick summary on this particular grizzly attack – and attacks generally, with useful linked articles:
Plus I’m here to learn. If I am wrong about something, is that a crime? I’m not afraid of making mistakes. Unless you want this blog to be a esoteric group scientists only, the bulk of protection of our wolves and other treasured wildlife is going to fall on informed citizens and voters. You won’t be heard or listened to without the public.
I was going to hold back with this, but you leave me no choice JB. For all of your butt-kissing, ‘those who would like fewer wolves’ don’t think very highly of you either.
Yes, that’s abundantly clear, Ida. Fortunately, both the validity of my arguments and my self esteem are independent of their evaluations.
Butt-kissing? Really, Ida?
Sorry! Well, compromising. You know what I mean. ‘those who would like less wolves’ have no intention of compromising.
I finally got two bars reception on the iPhone and I sitting high up in the Tobacco Roots Mountains looking up the Madison Valley. It is lovely fall afternoon the mountains are alive with changing color. this wolf and grizzly country.
Is this blog for learning?
🙂 I thought so?
It seems like a lot of fighting and not learning on this blog.
Over four years ago, Ralph contemplated shutting down the comment section.
That question led to a lot of good introspection and it seemed to improve the commentary for awhile.
Over time, some long-time participants have dropped out, new ones have come in, and we have maybe drifted back into those old patterns.
We can either keep going this way, or wait for Ralph, Ken, and others to spend their scarce time intensively moderating the commentary, or we can exercise some self-discipline and discernment about what we ourselves choose to post.
+ 1, SAP. I’ve participated and stayed here because I learn and, more importantly, because of the level restraint and respect between active participants.
I hope folks will self monitor because I am the only person running TWN right now, and I am doing it from a remote location with just a Kindle.
In a few weeks though this will probably change.
Are you learning, anything?
I am learning, but have started to look other places as well, coming to this blog seems you have to look hard.
Perhaps you might try posting something other than complaints about what others post?
Ms. Kane, please point out where I posted about your posts?
I agree with W. Hong. On some level, there may be some learning and useful exchange of perspectives. But for the most part, the comment threads are just a morass of very low-content squabbling. If one is already familiar with the cast of characters here, it’s possible to sift through to find worthwhile commentary. For a newcomer, though, it probably isn’t worthwhile.
Let’s not kick the messenger in the shins. Thanks for speaking up, W. Hong.
Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Part of the learning process is at least to support an opinion for the purpose of discussion/learning. W. Hong has been long on the “I don’t understand English”, but always has an unsupported two cents to contribute, much in line with what Louis had to say. Learning involves participating.
Squabbling, I agree, but I think the level of squabbling is superior to that four years ago period, and some of the discourse, on either side of the scrum line is educational for one with little knowledge on the topics involves. As SaveBears used to say, the participants of a blog such as this are a microcosm of the general population.
That said, one would be hard put to find another blog with the overall quality of discussion, and tolerance for that matter, as one finds on TWN.
Sure, the occasional haymaker is thrown, but the petty remarks of hunting/anti-hunting of a few years back are all but gone.
My advise to H. Wong, if an opinion is possessed, go to the note pad, take time and compose what he/she has to say, and share it, rather than the one sentence zinger. Be part of the solution instead of adding to the perceived problem. Participate.
I am happy that most folks who comment are, most of the time, restrained in the way they express themselves. We don’t have the problems with trolls that other forums do.
Some comments are brilliant. SAP is an example.
Well, gosh, thanks, Ralph. The feeling is mutual. I have learned a great deal from many of the participants here over the past seven years, and admire the passion and goodness of virtually all who weigh in here (actually, thanks to diligent moderation, I think that mean spirited, destructive commenters mostly get 86ed right away).
There are many who no longer comment who I miss. Ertz and Hoskins, just to name two.
Wolves bear relatively large pups in small litters compared to other canid species.
– Mech, L. David; Boitani, Luigi (2003). Wolves: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-51696-2
This is an old article from the NYT, but I like the way it is written:
Continuing studies of wild wolves, some 1,200 of which still live in the Minnesota wilderness, indicate that the animals adjust their reproduction rate to suit the food supply. According to Dr. L. David Mech, a wildlife biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota who has studied wolves for 20 years, when there is a major decline in the population of deer, the wolves’ main food source in Minnesota, the size of wolf litters drops from more than half a dozen young to only two or three, if the animals reproduce at all.
Very sorry to hear about this and my prayers for his friends and family.
All I can say, is that I am very envious of all you who live in wolf and grizzly country. I live in California where wolves and grizzlies are no more. When Europeans arrived in California, they found large populations of wolves and grizzlies throughout the state. Both species were perceived as a dire threat to life and property, and were killed in huge numbers. By the early 1900s, few wolves and grizzlies remained. The last California grizzly was killed south of Yosemite in the Sierra foothills in 1922 — the last wolf was killed in Northeast California in 1924 and it was already missing a leg after being trapped and escaping the trap. Consider yourselves very fortunate to be living nearby these iconic and very rare animals.
Ed- I witnessed a brown bear at the Top of Rana Creek Ranch-Carmel valley in the 1980’s. Also, wolves have returned to the tip of N. California in remote parts of Siskiyou a County. Although, those that value them- don’t talk about it.
A few years back I encountered a large male grizzly while I was hiking alone in Yellowstone. He was between me and the closest trees. He went up on his hind legs I sat slowly down on a rock in the sage brush without breaking our gaze at each other. He sniffed and scratched got nervous and went back over the hill. It was the most alive I’ve ever felt in my life. Hiking in bear, wolf and cougar country is different from hiking elsewhere. Thank God there are still places where you can still experience that.
Snaildarter – speaking of close encounters, ran across this video yesterday. Wandered about the outcome, hope it was in favor of the elk 🙂
snaildarter, I too had a close encounter with a male grizzly in Glacier NP that forever changed my outlook in life. Three of us hiking and doing all of the wrong things (not making noise, no bear spray) and even though the bear could have torn us apart, all he wanted to do was feed on berries.
Hiking in places that have all of the dangers that nature provides is invigorating but I always do it safely. I hope the company that employed this young man takes a hard look at their safety policies. Working in grizzly country by yourself is the #1 rule to avoid, followed by making human noises and having bear spray at your fingertips.
The hunter must have been wearing cow estrus urine scent.
Seems unfair to me but then I only hunt when I’m hungry and I haven’t been hungry in many years.
Great comment snaildarter. My fear would be that by the time I got hungry enough to hunt, I’d be to weak to move. 😉
Comments should always be encourage, it’s healthy and human dynamics for them to get ‘lively’ and to share conflicting viewpoints. That’s how we learn about each other (hunters and non-hunters, etc.) Passion is great, but, we should know where to draw the line before name-calling and disrespect of each other.
We don’t want to spoon-feed any newcomers either. People serious about protecting our wildlife and wildlands will soldier on through all the comments, and contribute also.
To be quite honest, when any minor conflict does arise here, doesn’t go nearly as far as on other blogs.
And I truly don’t know where else you could go to get this kind of information, from people very involved, anywhere else on the ‘net.
I do miss SaveBears’ views. He was a good representative of hunters.
I also miss SEAK Mossback I think his name was? – his comments were great too.
OSHA is now investigating the bear caused death of Adam Stewart as a workplace fatality. http://wyofile.com/angus_thuermer/osha-probes-researchers-death-bear-workplace-fatality/
This is the most detailed story so far on the death.
Interesting to see OSHA investigating
Stories says “They (large carnivore team) are attempting to catch a bear or bears in the area.”
Game and Fish doesn’t have a suspect bear it is pursuing, he said.
“We don’t have any bear to target,” Hunter said. “It’s just to see what’s in there and gather more information.”
– See more at: http://wyofile.com/angus_thuermer/osha-probes-researchers-death-bear-workplace-fatality/#sthash.AbLviC8G.dpuf
what do they expect to find by capturing the bears?
There was an archery hunter- bear incident over the weekend near Dubois- they surprised a sow with cubs- one hunter was bitten (minor injury) his hunting partner pepper sprayed the sow and the incident ended without further injury to the hunter or bear.
The hunters are getting lots of praise for doing exactley the right thing-
During the last four years, four people have been killed by grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If everyone adheres to a few simple rules fewer people will die or be injured. NEVER hike alone, have non-expired bear spray at your fingertips and know how to use it, be observant and make noise such as talking or moderately singing.
The researchers employer mentions that its not as important to what the researcher was carrying as to who he was. I disagree, This notion that working in the grizzly bear habitat is inherrently dangerous and incidents will happen is foolhardy. Given that we know that almost all bear attacks are close encounters involving one person who did not employ bear spray, this employer chose to send in ONE person (within grizzly bear core habitat) who worked for the company for a “very short time” to conduct the plots. So far no bear spray has been found.
If bears are going to be allowed to continue to disperse, this type of fatality must be prevented. I believe this young man would be alive today if he had been working in a crew of TWO, had been making noise, were more observant and had bear spray readily available.
If a bear heard me sing it would only increase it’s desire to kill me.