Changing weather patterns drive dramatic changes in Yellowstone Park wolf predation

‘ “I’m not looking at whether this is connected to global warming,” said Doug Smith, lead biologist and team leader of the Yellowstone wolf project. Yet wolf and prey behavior is different from what it was at the beginning of wolf reintroduction to the park in 1994, because the weather is different,” he said.’

Brodie Farquhar has really put together what Doug Smith has been saying for a number of winters about the plight of the bull elk, something totally different than back in 1995-6-7-8.

Read Farquhar’s article in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

This is important stuff, and not discussed widely in the wildlife management literature I have read. Wildlife managers, especially those in key positions, don’t consider all the variables. Often politics prevents them from doing so.

For example when you don’t consider these likely future changes, the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear looks plenty ready to be delisted as a threatened species. When you consider global warming and the spread of diseases like whirling disease and whitebark pine blister rust, the future of the Yellowstone Country bear looks grim.

When you look at many politicians, with their narrow focus of hanging onto power, and compare them to the wildlife managers I just criticized, it is all of us for whom the future looks grim.

Three wolves from Montana’s Wedge Pack shot by Wildlife Services

3 wolves killed in Madison Valley. By Billings Gazette News Services.

This is actually the second control action on the Wedge Pack this year. In both cases it has been on the Sun Ranch which is at the base of the Madison Range.

The Sun Ranch has been extremely innovative and wildlife and wolf-friendly, so there is little doubt that this pack had taken the wrong direction. When the first control was made in July, the Sun Ranch even put out a news release expressing their regret. I didn’t see the news media pick it up, however.

It the large scheme of things–the local wolf population and the lost heifers–this is no big event. I post it because the main stream media picked it up.


Posted in Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on Three wolves from Montana’s Wedge Pack shot by Wildlife Services

Evacuation from wolf habitat was warranted says Farm Bureau

Taking a different position from almost all other public expressions on the matter, the Idaho Farm Bureau President wrote an op ed for the Idaho Mountain Express. Here, for the first time we learn more facts about the matter, including that they did have pepper spray.

In my view that fact makes their fear even less reasonable. Pepper spray would be far superior to a gun if you really were confronted with an wolf pack intent on eating you. It’s easy to miss with a gun, not so with spray, but, hey you can carry both! I do. The gun is for the real danger — generally two legged predators in the front country; spray for the backcountry.

Here is the Farm Bureau op ed in the Idaho Mountain Express.

These employees might not have been “greenhorns” to backcountry travel, but they didn’t know much about wolves. For example, the Farm Bureau opines, “However, as they were walking through thick buck brush they could hear wolves growling, snarling and howling.” If you have been around wolves, that is not a threat to you. Wolves communicate with each other. The wolves were most likely feeding on their kill — growling at each other. If you have been close enough to hear adult wolves at play or on a kill, there is lots of growling that would might make a person unfamiliar with wolves think they mean to kill each other.

Social psychologists have long studied ambiguous situations like this — incomplete knowledge in a new situation. In such situations social cues and personal dispositions are paramount in determining what people do. More training would, as the Forest Service said, help their employees make sense of what for them was a novel situation.

For all predictions that the wolves in the lower 48 are dangerous, I still haven’t seen any bite marks on someones’ butt, and frankly I’m surprised given all the stupid dog tricks people often do in the backcountry and tourists crowding wolves in Yellowstone, not to mention the incredible number of deer, deer hunters, and wolves in the Great Lakes.

Note that over a million people are bitten by dogs a year in the United States.