MDFWP proposal to up wolf killing by Yellowstone, updated
See update at bottom
Currently Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing to increase the annual quota of wolves that can be killed near Gardiner, Montana adjacent to Yellowstone National Park.
I don’t believe upping the quota from 2-6 wolves is likely to cause wolves to disappear from Yellowstone. That is not the issue for me. What I am concerned about is that the Department is promoting unnecessary wildlife killing.
The department apparently is unconcerned that there it is violating the ethics of wildlife management by promoting the killing of wildlife simply for the sake of killing. No one eats wolves. This is retribution not management as acknowledged in your write up that suggests the purpose of this increase in wolf killing quotas is to satisfy those who want less wolves. We all know this is a small minority of the public and across the country there is far more support for wolves than for hunters who wish to kill wolves.
Much of this management is based on false perceptions by the public about predators having a significant impact on huntable wildlife numbers and livestock. I need not remind you that since wolves were introduced into Yellowstone, the overall elk population in Montana has nearly doubled from 89,000 in 1992 to more than 167,000 by latest estimates. Many elk management units are over objectives, including many with viable wolf populations in them. While elk numbers have declined in the unit adjacent to Yellowstone, that doesn’t mean hunters don’t have plenty of other hunting opportunities. The state is overrun with elk.
Or the idea that wolves are a major factor in livestock operations. There are less than a hundred cattle losses to wolves in an average year. In 2015 for instance, there were only 36 reported cattle losses to wolves, while losses to other causes numbers well over 100,000. To suggest that wolves are a problem for ranchers is hyperbole at best. Sure an individual ranchers might have an issue–most likely because they fail to implement good husbandry practices–but the livestock industry as a whole isn’t threatened–as much as I wish that were true. One can deal with surgical removal of individual wolves (or other predator) without having a general hunting/trapping season. Isn’t it time for the Department to fight those misconceptions.
Furthermore, what about the social effects of indiscriminate killing. A lot of new research shows that all predators: cougars, bears, coyotes, and wolves are all harmed by indiscriminate killing. (See some of Robert Weigus work at https://news.wsu.edu/2014/12/03/research-finds-lethal-wolf-control-backfires-on-livestock/ ) It skews the population to younger animals which are far more likely to attack livestock, and are less successful predators on native prey as well. It may even contribute to great killing of elk and deer–smaller packs cannot guard a dead elk and by the time the animal comes back to get the rest of the meat, scavengers have cleaned it up, so now that wolf has to go out and kill another elk or deer.
Since wolves were introduced into Yellowstone, the overall elk population in Montana has nearly doubled from 89,000 in 1992 to more than 167,000 by latest estimates. Many elk management units are over objectives, including many with viable wolf populations in them. While elk numbers have declined in the unit adjacent to Yellowstone, that doesn’t mean hunters don’t have plenty of other hunting opportunities. The state is overrun with elk.
Or the idea that wolves are a major factor in livestock operations. There are less than a hundred cattle losses to wolves in an average year. In 2015 for instance, there were only 36 reported cattle losses to wolves, while losses to other causes numbers well over 100,000. To suggest that wolves are a problem for ranchers is hyperbole at best. Sure an individual ranchers might have an issue–most likely because they fail to implement good husbandry practices–but the livestock industry as a whole isn’t threatened–as much as I wish that were true. Isn’t it time for the Department to fight those misconceptions.
Trapping and hunting eliminate social and cultural knowledge–i.e. where to find elk calves in the spring or your favorite plant (bears) in the fall.
MDFWP is hiding behind some science, but ignoring the rest. For instance, the proposal do not even reference Creel et al who questioned Fish and Game policies on wolf mortality. They feel the statement that wolves can sustain up to 48% mortality annually without a drop in population to be incorrect. The Yellowstone wolf population is already much lower than it was at its height. http://phys.org/news/2015-12-carnivore-policy-align-science.html
MDFWP defends its proposal by citing science showing that 29% annual mortality of wolves is sustainable. However, that is simply population stuff. I expect MDFWP to be a bit more sophisticated and look at how trapping/hunting affects individual social relationships among these highly social animals.
What about the ecological values that predator perform? Effects on population structure of other prey species? Riparian recovery? Winnowing out diseased animals with CWD?
Here’s an example of how using population as the management matrix can result in highly different outcomes.
Here’s a hypothetical situation. One can have 20 wolves. This could be one large pack or four packs with 5 members each. The four individual packs have two adults, and three pups. The one large packs has 5 pups and 15 adults and subadults. Think about how differently these demographic outcomes affects social dynamics.
If you have one large pack, and eat an elk, you can guard it from scavengers and consume the dead elk more completely. If you are one of the smaller packs with only two adults, by the time you take meat back to the den for the pups, the elk carcass might be consumed by many other animals, forcing that wolf to kill another animal.
Smaller packs also have a more difficult time holding on to territory, thus are relegated to more marginal habitat.
Smaller packs are more likely to take easy prey like livestock.
Smaller packs can more easily wink out if one of the adults is injured or at least the pups will not survive.
Finally four small packs with a total of 12 pups are likely to need more biomass than one large pack with only 5 pups. Growing pups require a lot of meat. Thus the combined predation by four small packs whether on native prey or livestock is likely to be greater than one large pack.
Not to mention there are many more people who love seeing wolves. What about the rest of the public? MDFWP has a public trust to manage wildlife for all people, not just hunters and trappers. Just this week a new paper came out showing that killing wolves adjacent to Yellowstone reduced wildlife viewing opportunities by 49%. Doesn’t the department feel any compulsion to manage wolves for someone other than people who get a perverse pleasure of killing animals they don’t even eat?
MDFWP predator management policies are stuck in the last century. Time for the agency to join the 21st Century!
Bio: George Wuerthner is an ecologist, a former Montana Hunting Guide, and currently serves on the Board of Western Watersheds Project among other organizations.
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Commission rejects tripling wolf hunting quota near Yellowstone. By Michael Wright Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. May 12.
George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology
95 Responses to MDFWP proposal to up wolf killing by Yellowstone, updated
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Delisting was a huge mistake – this will be an unending problem, the constant killing of wolves. If statistics have shown depredations are down, why is it necessary? The Depts. and the Parks owe the rest of the public at the very least, this once ‘concession’ that was hard won at that. We’re sick of their catering to ranching and hunting interests. No, absolutely not.
De-listing was the result of compromise, “let them have their limited hunt”. The grizzly is next to share this fate as long as there is “compromise”.
There was a reason that the limit was low around Gardiner, was it a mini-buffer zone or something? I forget what it was? The states are not acting in good faith at all. We hear a lot about ‘not sticking to your side of the bargain’ being leveled at wolf advocates. I think from 2 to 6 is too large of an increase.
But unfortunately, as long as this delisting is in effect, there will be unending challenges to increase the number of wolves killed, regardless of science.
Government hasn’t acted in good faith since they signed the first treaties with Native Americans, why would they start now?
Great point, timz.
🙂 I know what this is about, some are worried they won’t have a friend in Washington anymore since Ted Cruz dropped out. What to do? Why, take it out on those representatives of the Federal Gov’t, the Yellowstone wolves, as per usual!
It would be a poor showing by Yellowstone on their centennial, I must say, to go along with this.
I really am so sick of hearing about the ongoing murder of precious wildlife. Idaho Montana Wyoming and on and on. Ranchers should just take responsibility for putting the creatures that represent their own livelihood in the midst of areas that are naturally inhabited by predators. What do they expect? And hunters can sign up for war if they really want to kill that badly. I have no sympathy for any of them. My inbox is full of petitions or just articles about how awful things are out there for wolves and bears, mostly. Of course it doesn’t stop with just those two. It’s really out of hand. Is this country so polarized that the people in power cannot hear the people who do not approve of their policies? GRRRR George is there a petition on this or a link to send in comments? Maybe we can get a petition going to get rid of all the governors who are perpetrating this carnage.
Many times I’ve mentioned–with horror and disgust–the fact that MT FWP offers/promotes the *recreational* shooting of predators–“coyote, weasel, (striped) skunk, and civet cat (spotted skunk)” –and nongame animals– “Examples of these species include raccoon, red fox, badgers, hares, marmots, tree squirrels, ground squirrels and prairie dogs.” Talk about promoting unnecessary killing of sentient nonhumans…and billing it as “recreational” no less!!! What a knuckle-dragger mentality. http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/regulations/predatorShooting.html
One of those “knuckle-draggers” was about a half a mile away from my place last night Kathleen, shooting ground squirrels in a pasture. No doubt, a pleasant after dinner ritual. What a waste of bullets & gas (on his ATV)
The first shots had my little dog running for the foyer so I suspect it happens often, on the meadow right across from me. Those “knuckle-draggers”, have a teenager with a gun and a 4 seat ATV.
Well, at least now it’s feely admitted and in the open. They have no (and probably never had) an interest in maintaining wolves as a species as they had assured and promised endlessly. Now that all of their excuses for killing wolves have no basis, such as lack of elk and too much threat to livestock – they can say we just want to kill ’em and that our right!
It is contrary to what the Federal gov’t promised the public, and I want them to step in and relist. We have been lied to, as anyone with any sense (except for those who think they can continue to negotiate with terrorists) can see.
Now that the five years of ‘Federal oversight’ is ending?
Nancy: I was kinda loathe to use the term ‘knuckle-dragger’ because it seems like an insult to the original knuckle-draggers to compare them to people who kill ‘recreationally’ and for trophies, but I couldn’t come up with a better term that was not X-rated. I, too, lived just a few houses away from a moron who would drive his pick-up into his back yard, sit in the bed, and shoot ground squirrels. And my dog is *terrified* of thunder, gunshots, fireworks, etc. Thank god he moved away, but out here in the county there are plenty others.
But its an appropriate term Kathleen.
Sitting outside just a few minutes ago, beautiful evening and just about jumped out of my skin when a gunshot went off just up the road, closely followed by another. My dog went racing for the foyer door (she’s still shaking) and I though ENOUGH!
Drove up the road where I found the “knuckle-dragger” who leases the meadow across from me (from the “knuckle-draggers” with the teenager who likes to kill stuff) sitting in his truck, with two of his young daughters.
I pulled up, he rolled his window down and I said “hey, I’m trying to enjoy a quiet evening” And he said ” yeah well, I’m on private property” And then his 7 year old, with a big smile on her face, yelled “WE’RE SHOOTEN GOPHERS!!
What the hell is wrong with these people? They’ve got nothing better to do with their time than show their kids how to kill wildlife for sport?
Yes, exactly. No respect for nonhuman animals and none for human neighbors, either. Sociopaths.
and the worst part Nancy is that these people can do a great deal of damage and that they have no impulse control and the wildlife agencies know of killing contests and this kind of mentality and they don’t restrict and make illegal gratuitous killing. Working in a wildlife agency ought to mean that somehow you care for the wildlife in your care and that you would object to gratuitous killing.
I always enjoy the irony of your comments Nancy as it seems you have nothing better to do with your time than bitch at your neighbors.
As one of those sociopaths I can tell you what you missed was a dad bonding with his daughters. Teaching them some gun safety and the beginning of some hunting skills. Us knuckle-draggers learned a lot from wolf introduction. We read things like “What good are wolves.” Teaching our young to hunt is good thing. That killing other animals helps feed scavengers. Add that to research that killing 8 gophers means we saved enough grass to feed a cow for a year, we’ve got more than enough reasons for shooten gophers.
Now a proper term for people like you.
BOB, a Troll AND a self confessed Knuckle-dragger”
You’re getting to rich for my blood 🙂
Great comment, any time teaching a child how to propely and respectfully use a firearm and have a blast doing it is time well spent ! Im taking my 3 kids out today! 2 girls and 1 boy they love it! Happy Hunting and good luck to you and yoour daughter!
I know that’s not the reason for the killing Uinta ground squirrels in my area. More like the ‘crimson spray’ that is the shooters delight.
And as for feeding predators by shooting ground squirrels, I hope you are using NON-lead bullets. Otherwise you are just killing up the food chain. I’ve seen too many raptors die by lead poisoning.
My favorite is a .22 LR hollow point, the bullet kills quickly and passes clear thru intact.
Is there any data out there that misting squirrel is a source of lead to eagles? I would think there would be a need for more mass to retain bullet fragments.
‘knuckle-dragger’ was not a hunter but tried to avoid to be the meal
‘Man the Hunter’ theory is debunked in new book
Here’s someone who is (overly) optimistic. Just look at how the states handle wolves to get a picture of what will happen to grizzlies, regardless of what they sign:
“The three states would be required to sign a wide-ranging, detailed conservation plan drawn up by the federal government that will require monitoring of the population and mortality data in perpetuity. The Fish and Wildlife Service would be able to relist the bears within weeks on an emergency basis if the states depart from the strict regulations or if the population declines. With meticulous management and monitoring, the grizzly should be able to survive and thrive.”
And just for a chuckle, a picture of Sally at Devil’s Elbow (right next to John Tester). You can’t make this stuff up.
Dear Ida, Its a grotesque portrait of Marquerite of Carinthia and Tyrol by Flemish artist Quentin Matsys GETTYIMAGES.COM I am wishful in making an imaginary comparison of the portrait in relation to society’s present day legislators and hunters of tomorrow. “Who knows any man but he be his brother?”.
I don’t really feel an extra 4-6 wolves killed is necessary. However, I question the “skewing” of populations toward younger wolves. I don’t have the Montana/Idaho data, but in MN, when hunts were going on, fully 50% of wolves harvested were either pups, or those going into a second winter.
The bigger issue, in my book, is the killing of breeding females.
And which hunter is so expert that he or she can tell from a distance which is the breeding female? They’re killing dogs they “thought were coyotes”, that’s how knowledgeable they are. Let’s not pretend that they can determine what they’re shooting at – ever.
I’m not pretending anything, I just made a statement. And it is part of my rational that one cannot “manage” wolves like deer. During a bucks only season, it’s easy to tell the difference, or at least it should be. That can’t be done with wolves.
Thanks Bob. You may have provided me with this info a year or so ago. I’ve got it book marked now.
Here is the MN report from 2012. It bears out that 50% of wolves taken were < 1 year old, so one might conclude, that the take of the younger wolves may have been a bit compensatory.
And from 2013
It bears out that 50% of wolves taken were < 1 year old, so one might conclude, that the take of the younger wolves may have been a bit compensatory.
Wolf pup mortality is the highest during first three months of their lives (~50% of the litter can be lost in the first three months). After that period pup mortality drops significantly (if there's no major disease outbreak / starvation etc).
Bottom line – hunter wolf killing is not compensatory.
From Mech/Boitani. Page 176: “wolf pups in most areas survive well through summer (table 6.5), probably because of a temporary abundance of a greater variety of food (Mech et al,1998)”…
“Autumn can be a critical period as pup food requirements are maximized (Mech 1970), but prey supply and vulnerability dismisses. Thus, where food is insufficient, it is usually fall, rather than summer, when pups starve.
let’s zoom-in Immer,
p. 178 Table 6.5 :
Pup survival to or through winter rate in Northern Wisconsin – 39%(ungulate biomass per wolf 400).
Summer pup survival rate in North-central Minnesota – 48% (ungulate biomass per wolf 161). Survival rate calculated from average litter size (fetal) and average number of pups in fall.
Summer pup survival rate in Northwestern Minnesota – 57% (ungulate biomass per wolf 378). Survival rate based on summer , not fetal, litter size .
p.183 Because newborn pups remain in the den for their first 10 – 24 days, however, it is almost impossible to measure early pup mortality.
p.184 Thus data on wolf pup mortality often are based on a comparison of pup numbers around a den or rendezvous site in summer versus fall, when they can be seen and distinguished from the air.
… An alternative approach is comparing fetal litter sizes (from carcasses) with average fall litter sizes in the same area.
… most reported wolf mortality rates pertain to the population of wolves aged about 4 – 8 months and older. Mortality rates for younger pups ussually remain unknown
p.191 Almost 30 years ago, Keith (1974) concluded that “the factors which produce [wolf pup] mortality during the first 5 months are almost wholly unknown. This is probably the single greatest enigma in wolf biology today.” Though some strides have been made toward identifying these factors, this is still a much needed area of research.
“A New Era for Wolves and People: Wolf Recovery, Human Attitudes, and Policy” (2009) ed. by Musiani, Boitani, Paquet. U of Calgary Press
1.3 Gray Wolf Conservation in the Great Lakes Region of the United States (Adrian P. Wydeven et al) pp. 69 – 92
p.80 Pup survival in Wisconsin averaged 0.30 (range 0.16 to 0.57). … In recent years (1996 -2004), a mean of 28 per cent of packs (range 19 to 37%) had no surviving pups by late winter in Wisconsin. Fuller (1989) estimated an annual survival rate of 0.37 for pups in north central Minnesota.
p.75 Pup survival was determined in Wisconsin (Wisconsin DNR, unpublished data) from the estimated number of pups surviving to be counted during their first winter, number of breeding females, and a foetal rate of 5.2 foetuses / breeding female.
p.87 … ungulate biomass was at historical high levels, promoting survival of wolves and reducing competition from human hunters.
My point is when the increasing likelihood of pup starvation is autumn, which also corresponds to traditional hunting seasons, many of the young wolves that would starve, are taken by hunters, and thus is compensatory. Also, with fewer mouths to feed, more food when caught is present for remaining young wolves.
As an add on, this is NOT and advocation for wolf hunting.
I understand your point but I’ve said that:
1)the highest pup mortality rate is in summer
2)summer pup survival rate in North-central Minnesota – 48% (ungulate biomass per wolf 161). Survival rate calculated from average litter size (fetal) and average number of pups in fall.
3)Keith concluded that “the factors which produce [wolf pup] mortality during the first 5 months are almost wholly unknown.”
It’s not only the food issue.
We were told, at delisting, that wolves would be managed according to the ‘best available science’, and that elk and livestock predation were an issue.
OK, so now that statistics show that elk herds are quite large, and livestock predation is down and can be addressed on an individual basis – why the need for this? And why doesn’t the Federal government step in to say enough is enough, and this is over and above what is necessary?
MT now is not keeping to its side of the bargain. So this doesn’t bode well for grizzlies, where the Feds will ‘step in immediately to relist’ if the states go too far.
The states cannot be trusted to manage wildlife, at all.
I will be the first to admit, that I am writing with emotion but, I will say it anyway. I will be waiting for that “Rider” to be attached to a must pass Bill in order to delist the grizzly bears and/or to proceed on with their own agenda of what they want to happen.
“Since wolves were introduced into Yellowstone, the overall elk population in Montana has nearly doubled from 89,000 in 1992 to more than 167,000 by latest estimates. Many elk management units are over objectives, including many with viable wolf populations in them. While elk numbers have declined in the unit adjacent to Yellowstone, that doesn’t mean hunters don’t have plenty of other hunting opportunities. The state is overrun with elk.”
George is right with the number of elk, but there is more to those numbers. Most of additional elk (79,000) have increased in Eastern Montana where hunter’s access is limited or very limited. Hunters and wolves like public lands.
George may think that the state is over run with elk but since around 1992, Montana has started to issue a “A” tag or general tag and an additional “B” tag which is limited to cow elk either by drawing, damage hunts or a few area are over the counter. Hunters are getting use to be able to shoot two elk a year; I shot two elk last year and hopefully will shot two more this year. With one tag you shoot your elk you are done for the season with two tags you are good to go the next weekend. Hunters like to hunt, golfers like to golf and skiers like to ski.
Mr. Wuerthner, Mondays conversations I have to take the bad, really bad, bad with the good. At a moments notice I had received a news cast of Scarface-Yellowstone’s Grand Old Man|Wild at Heart Images Blog. I was literally, making a strenuous effort to tear out by the roots, dandelions. And imagined an image of a bridge across a river and a hairy dwarf having a tail and wearing lion’s skin with a birch rod, of sympatheic magic interlaced with barbwire. It’s a belief that similar actions produce similar results. Nevertheless in this present day of 21st century state-by-state political legislation,of “educated citizens” there must at some future point in time be a responsibility for “plain-speakin” to reform state-by-state wildlife regulations. Republicans are of capitalism, growth, business, and a conservative running of government. Democrats are for the working class, minorities, human rights, civil rights&liberties and the liberal running of government. The fast actions or ineptness of “educated citizens” causes reactions that are similar actions to produce similar results. MDWFP he/she must be able to see this problem as a result with their oversight of conscience and support (the standard for federal funding)of the “indiscriminate
killings of wildlife”. And, today just as last year at this point in time “to have things be in a perfect world” is to advocate statements for a purpose “of the moment” of the never ending threats towards wildlife. The future for wildlife survival there must be an overhaul state-by-state, a striction on recreational hunting&trapping regulations. website: gov.track.us website:wisc.eye.org
Personally, I’m an advocate for letting nature be in command, but I also know humans are part of that equation. For too long, there has been fighting among groups who have a lot of common ground but because of lawsuits, politicians, extremes on both sides and mistrust based on past mistakes; nothing ever changes.
My presumption for the need to remove an additional four wolves near Gardiner by MFWP is for an increase in the Northern Yellowstone elk herd which has steadily declined. As Elk375 stated, much of the elk increase statewide is in eastern Montana and the author should have acknowledged this fact.
We all know that wolves kill a very small number of livestock, ranchers are compensated when they do, and laws allow for the removal or killing of wolves if needed. The author conveniently included the study documenting how indiscriminate wolf killing adversely affects livestock depredation, but there are other studies that indicate entire pack removal is the most effective method to resolve livestock conflicts.
The fact that wolves were delisted by Congress should not be an issue. The fact is they have recovered well above the minimums called for by the ESA and we should be celebrating this instead of writing articles bemoaning the removal of an additional four wolves near Gardiner.
IMHO the animosity toward wolves are due in large part to articles like this. I believe the answer to resolving human conflicts regarding wolves would be best solved by having ranchers, hunters, conservationists and other interested publics’ work together as they have MANY of the same goals for the land.
“IMHO the animosity toward wolves are due in large part to articles like this.”
Tour welcome to your opinion but it’s wrong. It’s just plain ignorance that leads to the animosity.
Many of the wolf haters don’t have the intelligence to even read and understand an article like this or anything else that contains science or fact.
“I believe the answer to resolving human conflicts regarding wolves would be best solved by having ranchers, hunters, conservationists and other interested publics’ work together as they have MANY of the same goals for the land.”
This may just be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read here. This was done (or at least attempted) and now we have unfettered wolf killing. The conservationists biggest mistake was to compromise with those people. And they’d better learn from this mistake or the grizzly is next.
Gary, conservationists are excluded, aren’t they? The wolf stamp comes to mind, vehemently opposed. It also appears that no matter what, hunters and ranchers are never going to be satisfied. I disagree, many of us do not have the same goals for the land!
Leave Gardiner alone, let just this one area to be free from wolf baiting. Let these hunters go elsewhere for their elk. They are not guaranteed elk anywhere in the country – they have to ‘hunt’ for them! This is now over the top – private land owners are allowed to kill 100 wolves for even suspected livestock threats, raising the quota around Gardiner to 300% is outrageous! The problem is that is just doesn’t stop – soon they’ll raise it to 8, 10, who knows, now that what little Federal oversight there was is coming to an end.
This area has been an area of baiting wolves from the parks, allegedly. Why legitimize wolf baiting? Old Faithful himself below:
This is not hunting, to bait Yellowstone’s wolves, many times who are collared for study. The people surrounding the Park who don’t ever seem to be satisfied do not respect the Park, nor the science – collared wolves and even grizzlies now are being deliberately targeted. It’s time to stop giving the benefit of the doubt, or appealing to higher natures, as this Administration continues to do. What more proof do we need? Female Wolf 06, Scarface, Blaze, and now Grizzly 399, where is it going to end? I do not think these animals are collateral damage who fall to human needs.
We’ve accommodated these people enough, and I disagree, wolf delisting does come into play here because it has been/is being abused, and was never sincere to begin with. This kind of damage would never happen without delisting –
I stopped for gas in Gardiner, right outside the Park, I think, after seeing a magnificent herd of elk near Mammoth Hot Springs, it was the last day of my trip, if I remember correctly. The Roosevelt Arch, ‘For the Benefit and Enjoyment of (All) the People’, not just to be held hostage by a few. I don’t want to associate it with wolf target practice.
Gardiner is less than a mile from the Park entrance, correct? How inflexible and greedy can these people be.
Gary, while you live in the world with about 80% of the population, we have to deal with the extremist and the propaganda george pushes and those who can’t tell when they are being mislead.
“Gary, while you live in the world with about 80% of the population”
Bob, where do the other 20% live?
Whats to celebrate Gary? Wolves are “recovered” only by standards that were set under a very flawed recovery plan that neither of the two conservation organizations agreed to. The numbers set for recovery would never have been agreed to for any other species. The entire management of wolves using the 10j exemption and the special status disregards the intent of the ESA to protect species regardless of economic considerations. See Dale Gobel’s of Wolves and Welfare ranching. There is no celebration when animals are delisted using a sleazy non germane rider only to be slaughtered mercilessly because ranchers and good ol boys hate em. Nothing to celebrate but lots to reflect on why these states can’t seem to move out of their hateful, ecologically destructive and wasteful mindsets. being a wolf in Montana and Idaho and being subjected to endless trapping, snaring and aerial gunning is a tragic consequence of a shortsighted compromised, incompetent, recovery plan that is woefully dated and bemoaned by many independent scientists and millions of ordinary citizens that hate seeing the mayhem that these states have visited on wolves on and off public lands.
Gary, I think you brought up the heart of the argument for the increase, at least as far as I have read. Hunters want more trophy bulls. And more specifically, what I heard was that the outfitters are crying foul–not enough big bulls.
“A good portion of the reason for the decrease is that since 2010, 80 to 90 percent of the elk shot by hunters have been bulls and half of those were mature bulls, according to FWP records. For example, in 2014, 315 bulls and 31 cows were harvested in 313”
So we are not talking about sustenance hunting here, but trophy hunting and the fact FWP need to rein in bull permits.
Outfitters are the ones that need to either cut back or change businesses. The state has no obligation to pander to this business or any business if the times are a’changing. If you bought a video rental business in the 90s, I doubt you’d expect the state to bail you out in 2016.
Leslie, the reason cow harvest numbers are down is because the number of cow tags has been reduced in a major way. I believe before wolves one could buy cow tags over the counter. Now you have to draw for one, in 2015 only 30 were available. Bull tags must also be drawn for a general season tag won’t work and only brow tine bulls [ mature bulls] can be shot. Your conclusion needs more information.
“the reason cow harvest numbers are down is because the number of cow tags has been reduced in a major way”
BOB – really trying to relate to your comment re: the number of cow tags being reduced in a major way.
“Since kicking off after the regular hunting season ended in November, the newly enacted elk shoulder season hunt taking place largely in the White Sulphur Springs area has resulted in the harvest of more than 350 cow elk.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider at its February meeting whether to expand the shoulder season hunts to (
(wait for it…. 44 more districts next year. Eighty hunting districts are considered over objective”
Oh and this paragraph (from the link below) had me in stitches 🙂
“But driving down elk populations in places like rural portions of eastern Montana could be tough no matter how many cow elk permits FWP issues or how long the seasons are extended, Vermillion added.
and that might be because? Wait for it….
“Most hunters live in the state’s cities, meaning it’s a long drive, and late seasons come at a busy time of year because of the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, along with busy sports seasons”
Montana has hunting districts for a reason. Different parts of the state have different issues. Leslie’s comment was about district 313 which is near the park. If one wants to be truly honest one should look at each district instead of the common blanket statements made about an entire state. My comment was also about district 313. Clear enough?
If a hunter in Montana is truly interested in just filling the freezer BOB, seems like they could do that without much of a problem given the over population of elk in many other areas of the state.
Maybe MFWP could work out a subsidy program for those that can’t travel (whether it be because of the holidays or sporting events, etc.) that way there would be no whining about a shortage of elk in their areas.
Sounds like you just found your new project.
Bob, That area outside the Park is the Northern Range where we do know the elk population has been reduced overall for many reasons including one of the reason why wolves were introduced in the first place.
I live in WY east of the Park, a zone where the Lamar wolves follow elk out of the Park at times, and the elk migrate out of the Park to winter. I strongly feel that in these sensitive areas right outside the Park, where wolves are known personally to viewers and more than that, these wolves are human-adapted…these areas need to have special consideration…either called ‘science zones’ with no hunt, or possibly shortened seasons and reduced take for wolves.
Wolves, in my experience here, that are resident wolves and have gone through a few years of hunting, are no longer visible, run at the sound of cars, and stay away from humans. Park wolves do not.
Fair enough. Problem with drawing lines on a map is everyone isn’t happy.
Not sure about the WY side. Montana has a quota and remember the quota is the maximum and not always met. Also the biggest killers of park wolves is nature and other wolves not humans.
Seeing a wolf should be a rare and special event, not common like a deer, but that’s my opinion.
“The department is unconcerned about violating the ethics of wildlife management……killing for the sake of killing.”
This is not new in wildlife management. This is the wildlife management paradigm, for the most part, and it’s been this way since the concept of wildlife management was codified. There are good things in wildlife management, but for the most part, it’s about killing for sport and introducing youth to the ‘sport of hunting’.
Killing for the sake of killing got a strong foothold with the Shikar Club and the British big game hunting tradition. This goes way back to the 18th century and it is verified history that hunting as a means of building on boy’s masculinity, fraternalism and as a sport were first promoted/marketed in the Shikar Club. The idea of ‘fair-play was introduced by the Shikar Club, and hence, the idea of hunting as sport. The Boone and Crockett Club in America followed suit. Of course, the Shikar Club was for rich Whites of Britain and other Western European Countries, and they believed that the African Natives style of hunting for subsistence to be savage, uncivilized and ignorant. Essentially, the history of hunting shows the very ideology of killing (hunting) as a sport right to be linked to colonization. It is also verified in the history that the use of the term ‘harvest’ was to deemphasize the blood and gore that goes along with hunting as a ‘sport’.
THe British and other Western European countries that colonized the Africa continent place the Native Africans under their rule. Only landowners could hunt. So much for subsistence hunting to feed oneself. The Americas were colonized by the British who lost the ‘colonies’ in America’s war for independence. Look at some of the history of hunting from the early period of colonization the N. American continent and you will find the roots of hunting as a sport. You will also find the new immigrants were quite keen on killing the wolves and other predators. This was partly because the new immigrants introduced domestic animals like cows and pigs. However, at least one historian recorded, “they weren’t satisfied with simply killing them but they had to torture them; cut their hamstrings so their dogs could attack them; injury them then drag them behind their horses, and other forms of torture before killing the wolves.
Both the ideology of wildlife management with hunting as a ‘sport’, and the perception of predators, especially wolves, as a menace to bigger than its true threat is something introduced with colonization and something that has never died.
Correction: 19th century for the Shikar’s Club.
Well, maybe all of this will open up the buffer zone debate again. Yellowstone at least and Teton also really should have one.
Park Officials: Surprise the nation on the Centennial with the gift of a buffer zone! But I expect we’ll just get more internet availability and wildlife apps.
George likes to rip on Montana management of wolves. Why then does he use state manage numbers instead of numbers from before state management to prove his case? In 2009 the last year before Montana wolf hunting started over 300 head of livestock were confirmed to have been killed by wolves. Yet george uses current numbers.
What did elk numbers look like in 2009 george? Why use current numbers?
George builds a great case proving state management works, more elk, less livestock losses and a great chance to see wolves killing each other. Wolves killing other wolves is the leading cause of death for wolves in the park, that’s what the science has proven.
wolves less than 600
whats wrong with that equation?
Well for starters as usual you forgot the human part of the equation.
For startes my explanation was based off numbers related to yellowstone game countes seeing this is the area the auther takes issue with! Not Montanas state wide elk numbersas a whole. That was the promblem with this story! HUNTERS ARENT ALLOWED TO HUNT YELLOWSTONE , WOLVES ON THE OTHER HAND ARE! IF HUNTERS DECIPATED ANY ANIMAL POPULATION BY UP TO 75% YOU WOULD BE KICKING AND SCREAMING WE NEED TO SHUT THEM DOWN! BUT YOU HAVE YOUR WOLF LOVING DOUBLE STANDARD!
Take a deep breath. The ubiquitous 20K elk number for Yellowsrone elk was and always has been too high. Elk Management plans have long been to get the numbers down to the vicinity of where they are now. And there are avid anti-wolf folks who have documented that elk numbers were too high.
I will agree with that whole heartedly, but i would a also say that when wolves can effect a population to the extent they have , then their numbers are too high also! We need that happy balance! Not a close ended conversation that people just shouldnt kill wolves! We neeed to manage everything responsibly , not pick and choose which ones apply with prejudice!
Has the wolf population not come down?
Not nearly close to where it should be !
300 head of livestock were confirmed to have been killed by wolves
Montana livestock loss statistics
2009 Livestock Loss Statistics
85 cattle and 214 sheep (184 in Beaverhead County)
and your point would be…?
My biggest ‘beef’ with the livestock industry is that so few, very few, are using deterrents that have been tested extensively by USDA Logan UT Predator Research Center to work with wolves and coyotes in particular.
Instead, a handy phone call to Wildlife Services with a kill order exempts the rancher from non-lethal attempts. If ranchers in an area formed a co-op to buy the flagging, etc. they needed each season, if the money from the state coffers for reimbursements was siphoned off to help pay ranchers for these extra costs instead of, like WY, paying SEVEN times the market value of a cow or sheep killed by a wolf, then things might change.
Leslie first question what’s your proof so very few use deterrents?
Second have you ever looked at a map of the wind river project? It’s on what I would call the very edge of wolf country. I live in a valley filled with cows, wolves, grizzlies and every form of predator. I can show you who has to deal with predator losses just by where they live in the valley. The wind river project would be rated at a low risk of loss area.
Also given all those predators I live with the wolf population is the lowest or just above grizzlies, but the wolf is responsible for over 95% of the depredations.
Regardless of where you live, at the very least when you put livestock on public lands, I feel a livestock owner has an obligation to do everything they can to protect wildlife on those lands. Public lands are what wildlife have left to support themselves. And the fact that USDA has already proven techniques to lower predation, then these should be first line of defense before doling out $$.
I can tell you that the place where grizzlies have the most problem with livestock is in the Green River area, a corridor to the Wind Rivers. There are thousands upon thousands of cow and sheep on public lands and the use of deterrents is not happening and there is tremendous resistance to it. WY just wants to hunt grizzlies there.
I have some real heartburn with the Green River area. Someone posted a article about conservation groups bragging about having ranchers take dead cows up to feed the grizzlies as them come out of the den to reduce depredations. How stupid are these people? Grizzlies move with the season, so these beef fed bears just move to the next ranch with beef breath. Want to feed the bears early find some dead elk or deer. Every where that I know of that feeds grizzlies dead beef has depredation problems. We have tried the same program but used elk and have no problems with grizzlies. Our program has since ended because the wolves slicked up everything before the grizzlies arrived.
Sorry, but your numbers send a mixed message! You talk about yellowstone wolves and elk and the adding of an additional 4 wolves to the quota in the Gardner area or the northern part of yellowstone. But then you site elk numbers stae wide! not elk numbers in the yellowstone area you brought into question in the begining of your post! Fact of the matter is elk numbers area way down from what they once were in yellowstone! In the mid 90’s elk numbers reached into the 20,000 range in yellowstone alone! Then the reintroduction of the wolf took place! In the 2015 winter survey the yellowstone elk herd numbers were 4,844, true that is a increase by about 1,000 elk from the 2013 winter survey numbers. But it is also about 75% drop from what it once was without the wolves! So id say if anything the major problem with a 49% decrease in animal viewing would be the wolves, and id also say if you were in yellowstone in the 90’s wildlife viewing is down by about 75%! Atleast as far as elk are concerned and the science proves it. Wolves were bad for the elk population and thats just a fact. They also beleave that the reason wolf numbers may be down in yellowstone is due to over predation in an enviornment that was once capable of holding so many packs of wolves due to high elk numbers, now cant withstand the same number of packs due to lower elk numbers, then it once did at its peak. Dont try to manipulated facts and blame the MDFWP, to try and justify the facts you would just rather them not kill any wolves.
“Dont try to manipulated facts and blame the MDFWP, to try and justify the facts you would just rather them not kill any wolves”
Kenny – Ohhhh, say can you see? 🙂
You might want to spend some time visiting the archives on the Wildlife News before you get too worked up over how things are and how things ought to be (search button at the top of the page)
Some great and not so great comments, on each article but there are also lots of interesting facts, links, etc. from people that AREN”T just sitting around on their computer, thousands of miles away, from the fray.
Sorry Nacy but your missinformed again! Im not gonna get all my facts from sites that push mostly anti hunting, pro wolf myths! Also Ive lived in Montana and Idaho almost 30years, so i guess you coulkd say im right in the middle of the fray! SO YES WOLVES IN MY NECK OF THE WOODS ARE DEVISTATED THE ELK POPULATION! I’VE SEEN THE PROOF NOT JUST READ ABOUT IT! BUT MAYBE YOUR COMPUTER TOLD YOU DIFFRENT!
Sorry Keni, 4th highest elk harvest in the history of keeping records, and highest white-tailed deer harvest ever in Idaho says the wolves in your neck of the woods are not decipated, or devistated (or any other deci you can think of) the elk population.
Or maybe the wolves have pushed the big game down further into the valley bottoms, making it easier for lazy huneters. We are also seeing tons of whitetails in heards, as well as alot more elk down low compaired to normal, i beleave that translates into wolf presure all year long vs hunting preasure 2 or 3 months out of the year, where wolves wouldnt dare to go!
Ok Ken, if you choose to ignore the facts and make up scenarios to explain record harvests, that’s your prerogative. That said, maybe you can explain why wolves all of a sudden chose 2015 to push all those elk down low for those lazy hunters as you contend, versus the previous 10-15 years where wolf populations were relatively high and hunters were screaming about the decipated elk?
Hey Kenny, ya know, years ago I use to watch elk migrate out of the valley I live in, every fall, like clock work.
For days I’d see little groups on the move, headed towards their wintering grounds probably over in Idaho (not far, as the crow flies)
Then (and I mentioned this in a previous post) two of the ranchers with patchwork pastures all over the valley, turned their properties over to a local outfitter, Oh yeah! $$.
That put an end to the usual migration patterns because the elk would get harassed from early morning till sundown by this outfitter and his guides (most of them, boys from the ranches) all strategically placed over the landscape.
Have wolves back on the landscape, change elk patterns? Probably so but fact is elk and wolves were in balance (that whole predator/prey relationship long before humans came along and decided to “manage” wildlife for the benefit of hunters, trappers, etc. 🙂 and long before your great, great, great Granddaddy, learned how to shoot a rifle.
I’m thinking the jury is still out and will be for decades to come, when it comes to having a natural predator (like wolves) back on the landscape, a landscape that gets smaller and smaller because of mankind’s lack of understanding or respect, when it comes to what’s living in what’s left of wild places.
I believe, unlike you, that decades of human pressure, whether it be expansion – homes built right up to wilderness areas, ranching,logging, mining, etc. – has caused a huge disruption in not only ungulates (that you like to eat) but every other living creature just trying to deal with the biggest predator impact of them all – “us/humans”
But then again, maybe its just not as obvious yet, where you live Kenny.
And I’d suggest Kenny (for future posts) you get spell check and FYI – ALL CAPS – are really not necessary when posting a heated response. Most of us here can feel the love or frustration 🙂
I’ve lived in SE Idaho for 45 years, and I have written and seen published 3 backcountry guides to Idaho and NW Wyoming. This is my web site. I am not anti-hunting and I live and spend plenty of time outdoors where there are both wolves and grizzlies.
Folks are welcome here to post both pro and anti-wolf comments.
You’re correct on distribution of elk/wolves, yet that 20,000 or so number was always looked upon as much too high. I’d postulate the elk numbers will continue to rise, even with wolf presence in Yellowstone, because that concern/fear they might have in regard to wolves may now help keep them alive.
When the wolves first came in, the meat counter at Bohaks was open.
I can agree the 20,000 numbers may be high, most likely in the ball park. But i woulkd also agree that the wolf introduction has done some good things, pacticularly in Yellowstone. Elk were overrunning the space availableand food sources where dwindleing and its a fact that the aspen and other foilage have rebounded aboundantly due to a lower number of elk. Also i will agree with your point, that both numbers will rise and coincide with each other as intended. I was only pointng out problems with the number and keeeping talking points relevant. Not using numbers to manipulateyour intent. I would even go so far to say if the numbers outside Yellowstone or in any other area for that matter are low something should be done! But unlike the author and many others on this site, I feel hunters could take take less elk in the area to help boost the numbers as well as well as allowing few more wolves to be taken,to help boost the elk numbers both contribute to the problem. Wolf number are strong in the area elk numbers arent.From there we tweak the number to find a happy sustainable number for every individual ecosystem. Isnt that what conservation is? Preseving and sustaining healthy populations of life and ecosystems for ALL to enjoy! Not encroaching on my pesonal rights and what i pesonally enjoy to push your agenda!
Hunters do not want pro-predator parties at the table. They are happy to bury wolf stamp and wolf ecotourism.
False! Hunters do want pro-perdators parties at the table! they like to seee healthy ecosystems as much as the next person. True they dont want the guy who just wants to eradicate something off the face of the earth! if a high number of predators in the area is drivng down the game count and you cant go 100 yard up the trail without hiutting a pile of wolf or bear scat and cant find any game near by most hunters would come to the logical conclusion that there are too many predators in the area! Most in fact if they heard someone say they were looking to take a bear, wolf or mountain loin, would tell them the very spot to go! Somehow I dont beleave you hang out with to many hunters! Just a hunch!
“Elk populations are in fine shape. The challenge for hunters in areas along the Rocky Mountain Front, central Montana’s island mountain ranges, or in the Missouri River Breaks will be obtaining access”
“Elk numbers along the Beartooth Face and in the Crazy Mountains, Big Snowy Mountains, Bull Mountains and southeastern Belt Mountains remain near all-time highs”
•*****Elk numbers remain at or above management objectives in most hunting districts”
•Hunting opportunities are good for those interested in hunting away from open roads with better opportunities in the Gravelly Elk Management Unit (hunting districts 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, and 330) versus the Tobacco Root EMU (hunting districts 320 and 333). In those areas, hunting near roads will produce hit and miss harvest opportunities and hunter congestion, especially during the first two full weeks of the general rifle season, should be expected.
This will undoubtedly be the case in the upper Ruby and Blacktail portions of the Gravelly EMU. Both elk management units experienced a 30-percent gain in hunter-participation during the 2014 seasons relative to 2009-2013″
Course would imagine the key words here might be? :
“Hunting opportunities are good for those interested in hunting away from open roads”
And my translation? – those willing to actually get 50 yards or more away from their damn truck, to shoot something 🙂
But the whole report for elk hunting regions (2015) is in the link above.
Kenny you need to quit your fricken whining. If you’re tripping over wolf scat maybe its because they, like you, are hunting for a meal too, only they (they meaning a population of say about 700 wolves in Montana, compared to 15 to 20 thousand elk hunters, who also hunt in Montana) don’t have the luxury of sitting on a hillside, with a high powered scope on a rifle, capable of shooting down that meal, from a quarter to a half mile away.
I’m thinking “Will be obtaining access” seems to more problematic these days for hunters, when it comes to “filling the frig”
Hey, I know this Kenny, all but one of the ranches in my valley (and think, how many other thousands of other private properties scattered around the state) who use to allow public access, are tied up now by one local, fat & happy, outfitter 🙂
Would also venture a guess that this is happening a lot more often (limited access) over the past couple of decades in states like Montana, Idaho & Wyoming when it comes to hunter access because as I’m sure you must of noticed by now , money talks (and most of those with money, just want something to hang on the “wall” not food in the frig)
Sorry Nancy once again your wrong! I live in Northern Montana and Idaho where it is almost all public land. I hunt my ass off and dont own a 4wheeler. Most days my hunting and partner and I put an aveage of 10 to 15 miles on foot. I packed my brothers bull out this year and it was close to 3miles all up hill, none of witch was on a road or forest service trail. Also he killed it with a bow at 35 yards so there goes the half mile guess. Also up hear the wolves stay out of the valley bottoms because their days would be numbered,they are all over in the back country here. They are hunting the same steep drainages of dark timber that I hunt, that provide lots of cover and shade and water. You know the types of areas that lets say maybe a helicopter or pair of binoculars arent gonna pick them up. Back of the truck was refering to quartered and boned , not whole, sorry for the confusion.
if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail
Until the lion has its historian, the hunter will always be the hero. – African proverb
What a great expression, love it.
When i come home with an elk or dear in the back of my truck , which translateds into food on the table, FRESH ORGANIC MOUNTAIN FED MEAT! I AM THE HERO!
Bravo!!! At least you’re a hero in your own mind…guess that is what’s important..