A wide-eyed view of the Red Desert.

This is about one of those places in Wyoming that is wonderful, and being destroyed by the gas industry, while Governor Freudenthal diverts attention to 150 or so wolves that wander a small part of the state near Yellowstone.

A wide-eyed view of the Red Desert. If more people see it, naturalist contends, they will be compelled to save it. AP in the Billings Gazette.

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Photo copyright Ralph Maughan. Wild horses beneath Bush Rim in the Red Desert.

I visited in 2004 because I heard the area would probably be destroyed. It was a beautiful high desert. Nearby wildlife, in addition to the horses (in July) from Bush Rim, where I camped, I also saw elk, deer, and pronghorn, including one huge bull elk. Nationally, few people know about this desert elk herd.

Wyoming seeks massive slaughter of non-YNP wolves, expects the federal government to do it.

Wyoming, still hasn’t received permission to manage wolves from the federal government, but they want the number of packs, outside Yellowstone Park, said to be 23, reduced to six. To add insult to injury they don’t want to pay for it. They want the federal government to do it before wolf management is handed over — that is, they want you to pay for it.

Story. Wyo targets wolf packs. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

The article quotes Wyoming Governor Freudenthal: “In terms of reducing the packs, that’s always been a state objective from the outset,” . . . . “Frankly, it’s essential for both wildlife and domestic livestock that we do that.”

I don’t like profanity, but this guy has got to be an all time lying son-of-a-bitch! Even the head of his Game and Fish Department, Terry Cleveland, recently said the wolves have not hurt Wyoming’s elk numbers (although Cleveland predicted disaster in the near future). The number of livestock killed by wolves in Wyoming is trivial compared to livestock dead from other reasons, including other predators. Furthermore, livestock killed by wolves is largely reinbursed by the private group Defenders of Wildife. Of course, it seems that the wolves always get the rancher’s favorite ewe, so they want extra for their special animals.

Defenders has paid about $160,000 so far in 2006 for livestock losses to wolves in the 3 state area (not just Wyoming). Spread out, this isn’t very much money. Does the governor think that eliminating lets say, being generous, $100,000 worth of largely compensated livestock losses is “essential?” Of course he doesn’t.

Wyoming is a state rolling in money due to the massive destruction of its landscape by the energy industry. Many millions of dollars damage is done to livestock grazing land, not to even mention wildife. Energy development and chronic wasting disease is the real threat to its wildlife. Freduenthal, and the rest of the state’s political oligarchy know these facts damn well, and the destruction of the wolves outside Yellowstone Park will be just a blood ritual to divert attention from the destruction of what was once a beautiful state.

He apparently thinks if he keeps repeating these false charges, the media and the people will believe. Unfortunately, he may be correct because it is the rare story in the main stream media that gives any figures (see some figures below).

In the few places where elk have declined in Wyoming, it is mostly due to deliberately long elk seasons at insistence of powerful ranchers who didn’t want the elk eating the grass they wanted from their livestock. It wasn’t due to wolves, but, of course, these ranchers would like hunters to believe it was wolves.

People should not assume that the wolves inside Yellowstone Park will be safe either, because at least three wolf packs that reside in the Park do leave the Park at various times and live in the adjacent Absaroka Mountains and the area just south Yellowstone (but not in Grand Teton NP).

Here are some statistics on the official livestock losses to wolves in 2005 in Wyoming, 2006 is not available yet, although mortality is up a bit.

Wyoming official losses for 2005: Cattle 61; Sheep 53, dogs 2. These data are from the table at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain%2Dprairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt05/2005_WOLF_REPORT_TOTAL.pdf

It is important to note that most cattle killed are calves, and most of the calves are young calves. There are some losses to wolves that are never found and not reported. The percentage is not known. The graph below assume 9 are lost for every one found–very doubtful. The highest figure I have heard biologists mention is 5 to 1. I doubt it is even 2 to 1.

Because relative numbers as well as absolute figures are important, the graph below shows the relative number of wolf-caused cattle losses comparted to total losses in Wyoming. Remember the USDA assumed actual wolf kills of cattle was 600, not 61.

wycattle1.gif

Given the very high estimate of 600 cattle killed by wolves, nevertheless, that is only 1% of the dead cattle. The largest predatory loss of cattle in Wyoming was dogs. Where is the governor’s outrage about dogs? Shouldn’t he institute a door-to-door search for these terrorist canines?