The real story is that 40% of the wolves in Montana were killed this year-
Official: Wolf hunt was effective. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press
The rule of thumb is that wolves can withstand annual mortality of about 30 per cent of the adult wolves, and the population will remain stable. The article below indicates that hunters killed 14% of Montana’s wolf population this year. On the other hand, 26% were killed by Wildlife Services, poachers, ranchers defending their livestock, and natural mortality. They aren’t done yet either. There was just an article about them taking out a wolf pack near Helena because the wolves killed a couple sheep dogs and a goat or something. These officials, not named in the article, want to increase the number of wolves taken in the hunt next year, but what the figures show is that it’s not the hunt that threatens the wolves, but the killing of wolf packs for mostly trivial livestock losses.
I’m not sure why the article ended with this: “Ranchers like Jerry Ehmann, 63, counter that the state’s hunt is not doing enough. Ehmann said he used to run about 200 head of cattle on 25,000 acres of public land in southwestern Montana’s Bitterroot Range. After wolves started harassing his animals this year and five calves went missing, Ehmann decided to cut back to only 72 animals and keep them fenced in on his ranch near Sula. He sold off the remaining cattle in November.”
Are we really to believe that the only reason this rancher reduced his herd of 200 to 72 is because “5 calves went missing” — not killed by wolves, but just missing. Calves too, not cattle. Isn’t there a recession or something going on too? 😦 And isn’t this rancher getting toward retirement age?
Update editorial in the Great Falls Tribune. Highly regulated wolf hunt does seem like the right track. The Tribune looks at the Montana hunt and finds it to be sucessful and not a threat to the wolf population. What Tribune hasn’t looked at, what few look at, and what cause dispute between some hunters and wolf advocates, is the focus on hunting.
The Montana problem is not wolf hunting, it is Wildlife Service killers shooting wolves for usually minor offenses like killing a couple sheep or cow calves or maybe someone just ” a couple of my livestock gone missing.”