Idaho Fish and Game completes Lolo zone elk survey

No surprise. Elk numbers decline further. No surprise Fish and Game says it’s almost all due to wolves-

News Release– Idaho Fish and Game.

Here is a graph the department did.

Let’s analyze the graph. This decline was predicted, but not its depth.  Wolves were reintroduced in 1995, but their number was trivial in the area until about 2000 or so. Therefore, the big drop between 1998 to 2002 could not be due to wolves. Then elk numbers rose. It seems possible to me that the decline than began anew in about 2006 could be strongly influenced by wolves.

My view is that no single factor can explain the collapse of the Lolo Zone elk herd, although a big decline was predicted as early as the 1970s due to habitat changes that were obviously going to happen (the confer forest maturing to a condition similar to when Lewis and Clark came through the area and almost starved).

More data is promised and might already be out there. Wolves might well play a role here, but the huge drop from 1989 to 1998 is logically  impossible to pin on wolves.

Zone Unit Year Mon Total Cows Bulls BAB Calf Spikes Rag Adult Unc Bull:C BAB:C Calf:C
Lolo 10 1989 Jan 11507 7692 1516 912 2298 604 699 213 0 19.7 11.9 29.9
Lolo 10 1992 Jan 7745 5688 752 363 1283 389 245 118 26 13.2 6.4 22.6
Lolo 10 1994 Jan 9729 7486 1107 814 1070 293 475 339 65 14.8 10.9 14.3
Lolo 10 1998 Jan 5079 4469 318 268 252 50 178 91 39 7.1 6.0 5.6
Lolo 10 1999 Jan Age Comp Survey 10.9
Lolo 10 2002 Feb Age Comp Survey 19.4
Lolo 10 2003 Feb 2643 1832 419 344 371 75 214 131 20 22.9 18.8 20.3
Lolo 10 2004 Jan Age Comp Survey 25.7
Lolo 10 2005 Feb Age Comp Survey 23.4
Lolo 10 2006 Jan 2452 2276 504 252 669 253 158 94 2 22.1 11.1 29.4
Lolo 10 2010 Feb 1475 824 461 447 144 14 170 277 46 55.9 54.2 17.5
Zone Unit Year Mon Total Cows Bulls BAB Calf Spikes Rag Adult Unc Bull:C BAB:C Calf:C
Lolo 12 1985 Jan 4767 966 652 856 856 314 348 303 99 67.5 88.6 88.6
Lolo 12 1986 Jan 4911 1034 812 794 794 222 379 433 24 78.5 76.8 76.8
Lolo 12 1987 Jan 4612 703 463 907 907 239 250 214 97 65.9 129.0 129.0
Lolo 12 1988 Jan 4547 737 466 855 855 271 285 181 0 63.2 116.0 116.0
Lolo 12 1989 Jan 3763 749 472 592 592 277 317 155 0 63.0 79.0 79.0
Lolo 12 1992 Jan 3452 549 417 382 382 132 138 279 5 76.0 69.6 69.6
Lolo 12 1994 Jan 3315 446 301 325 325 145 147 154 129 67.5 72.9 72.9
Lolo 12 1995 Jan 3832 465 329 599 599 135 212 118 13 70.8 128.8 128.8
Lolo 12 1997 Jan 2667 425 327 181 181 98 264 64 1 76.9 42.6 42.6
Lolo 12 1999 Jan Age Comp Survey 17.1
Lolo 12 2002 Feb 2048 422 253 343 343 169 102 151 1 60.0 81.3 81.3
Lolo 12 2003 Jan Age Comp Survey 30.4
Lolo 12 2004 Jan Age Comp Survey 28.1
Lolo 12 2005 Feb Age Comp Survey 13.9
Lolo 12 2006 Jan 1658 978 475 344 196 132 180 163 9 48.6 35.2 20.0
Lolo 12 2010 Jan 705 534 133 124 38 9 50 75 0 24.9 23.2 7.1

60 Responses to “Idaho Fish and Game completes Lolo zone elk survey”

  1. Jon Way Says:

    If wolves didn’t show up in any numbers until 2000 as Ralph suggests, then there hasn’t been a major change as the 2000 figures are very close to the 2008-2009 Figs.
    Unless elk were collared/tagged and cause of death of a representative sample was determined it is unscientific to say wolves are largely responsible simply due to this graph. If they are talking about “ongoing research” why don’t they state something like: “out of 50 radio-collared elk, wolves killed x bulls, x cows, and x calves”. Without numbers/stats this is voodoo wildlife management.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Jon Way,

      They are collaring elk and tracking what the cause of death is. So presumably that data will be available.

    • JB Says:

      Ralph:

      Even where cause of death can be attributed to wolves cause of death is not necessarily cause of population decline–as supervisor Gamblin would have us believe.

      If this is IDF&G’s evidence, I would say they are on very thin ice. Over and over people here have asserted that, and I’m paraphrasing, “nothing has changed in this unit except for the presence of wolves.” Indeed, these data indicate that the elk decline happened well before wolves established themselves in the Lolo. If nothing has changed, why should we expect the population to increase?

    • Jon Way Says:

      OK, thanks Ralph. You would think they would give some of those numbers if they say so that wolves definitively are the cause. And then they would have to find that wolf predation is additive rather than compensatory to other means of elk death to say that wolves are the problem. Hopefully it will be made available for us to see…

  2. Michelle Says:

    While I’m not a biologist, my basic knowledge of natural systems suggests that if prey numbers are “crashing,” predator numbers should also start to fall and so heavy-handed “management” shouldn’t really be necessary…

    And yes, if the decline started while the wolf population was negligible, then it’s a bit ridiculous to pin it on the wolves.

  3. Si'vet Says:

    Fish and game manage elk by zones, units 10/12 are managed as one zone. This zone has enough habitat to currently sustain about 7500 elk, though hard winters (92/93) and drought are a big players, the last several years these have not been huge impactors. When the numbers were high back in the late 80’s the hunting opportunity’s were increased, when numbers started to decline so did hunting opportunity’s, so a balance could be maintained. A lot of areas see an eb and flo in population, but as hunting opportunity’s are decreased and weather cooperates, numbers increase. I think what is of great concern is the numbers are very low, opportunity’s have been decreased and numbers are not recovering.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      I think the elk numbers will rebound soon.

      There have been a fair number of forest fires, so some pretty large parts will have very good elk habitat in maybe ten years. There have also been clearcuts on the railroad land sections. They are not nearly as good as fires in regenerating elk habitat, but with road closures, they will help some.

      If wolves are at fault, they will disappear. They don’t live on berries between the good times. They die or move off. Now if there are a lot of whitetailed deer, what I just said has to be modified. On my last trip into the North Fork of the Clearwater (2008), I did see at least a fair number of deer.

  4. JimT Says:

    I think IDFG figures pretty much show it isn’t the wolves that caused the precipitous drop off in numbers for the beginning decade. And after that, the numbers have pretty much leveled off since the early 2000s, at least statistically.

    So, what events or event happened in that decade to cause the drop in population? And now, can we once and for all stop saying that nothing changed in the Lolo area but the wolves and they are THE reason for elk numbers dropping in this zone? I think efforts now should aimed at revisiting biological and habitat evaluations for those ten years, and see if there are some factors not considered yet, and better even, factors that can be controlled if possible? And what caused the leveling off and even the slight rise? Is this just normal ups and downs of any species population over time, like we are likely to see now with the sheep and pneumonia?

  5. JimT Says:

    When you read the IDFG press release, you wonder if they even look at their own graph figures and what they show. I guess they can just pretend and hope it all goes away, and folks won’t challenge their conclusions.

  6. rick Says:

    Is there a way to see all of the table. I do not understand what the table is showing or how they got their totals based on the other numbers shown.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      rick,

      Several people sent me copies. The table is the Lolo Zone elk harvest over time broken in various ways.

      The stuff I received by email gave no further explanation.

  7. JEFF E Says:

    I think I have been posting studies concerning the Lolo zone for the last several days.
    Oh well
    there seems to be more going on in this zone that nobody can quite get a handle on.
    There has been a two bear limit there for a significant % of time; also cougar.
    It also seems that the elk in general are not as healthy in that area.
    The end result is that the state is going to use wolves as the source of the problem so that the end justifies the means.
    What a surprise

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Jeff E,

      I noticed in the first study you posted, the elk blood analysis showed the Lolo Zone elk to be a bit deficient in certain minerals — typical of poor habitat.

      If these elk were being heavily culled by wolves in habitat that could support more elk, we would expect the remaining elk to be extremely strong and healthy like the Yellowstone elk have become.

  8. Larry Thorngren Says:

    I was reading the minutes of the Idaho Legislature’s recent meeting with the IDFG today. Good old sheepman Siddoway hammered the IDFG because they only enacted a 200+ wolf quota this year instead of the 400+ Siddoway thinks should have been killed by hunters. The IDFG is getting tremendous pressure from jerks like Siddoway that use their elected positions to feather their own nests. He was responsible for the shoot bighorns that come close to domestic sheep rule here in Idaho also.
    I spent some time at the Capital Building this morning trying to figure out when they would discuss the House resolution asking Otter to declare an emergency and order the IDFG to start shooting the wolves back to a about 100 animals. Didn’t find out much, so will try again later this week.

  9. Jon Says:

    Larry or anyone else, what is going on with this shoot on sight Idaho emergency wolf bill? I know the public meeting was stopped, but what is going on with this?

  10. Ken Cole Says:

    I’ve been informed that HRC043 is dead.

  11. izabelam Says:

    Good.

  12. Jon Says:

    Thank you Ken. If you come across any new articles on it, may you please post the links to them? Thank you.

  13. Layton Says:

    Predictable,

    Everyone is a biologist and knows MUCH more about the decline of elk numbers in the Lolo than F&G biologists do. Great that they got their educations at so much better institutions. And, of course, we ALL know that the individuals running the study(s) are merely lackeys, held captive by an organization of toadys to the evil cattle baron empire.

    We also know/knew that these slaves would name the wolves as the ONLY cause of falling elk numbers. It was obvious.

    Yes, we know all that.

    But why is no one bothering to read the sentence in the report that says “Wolf predation is the MAJOR source of mortality on this elk herd and is affecting population size because too few calves are surviving to replace the adults that die each year. Predation is preventing recovery from a decline that began in the late 1980s and a steep decline following the severe winter of 1996-97.”?? (emphasis on “major” is mine)

    Come on, at least give the whole thing a read.

    By the way Jeff E, I’ve been reading the references you’ve been pointing to.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Layton,

      You might not be referring to me in particular, but in the post, I wrote, “It seems possible to me that the decline that began anew in about 2006 could be strongly influenced by wolves.”

      There are parts of scientific studies you can evaluate without being a specialist in the area. One good example of this is the basics of research design and analysis.
      – – – – –
      I’ve been reading JeffE’s pdf files too, although slowly. Thank you for finding them for us Jeff.

    • Jon Way Says:

      Layton,
      no one is claiming to know more than ID F&W biologists. However, many of us think it is bizarre that no data is included in their description to support their assertions of a major wolf effect. Right now it seems to be internal info that either hasn’t undergone peer review or is in the process of doing so. Until then, we complainers have every right to be skeptical until scientific data rears its ugly head to demonstrate that wolves (or other factors) are the culprit.

    • JB Says:

      “That means the wolves have got to continue eating – 8-23 [elk] per year per wolf. ”

      1,459,000 people.
      850 wolves.

      And yet, there are too many wolves?

  14. JimT Says:

    A mere conclusion asserted by an agency with a documented agenda that is most definitely anti-wolf DESERVES scrutiny and skepticism, especially in light of the questions being raised by the figures themselves in terms of cause and effect. Those hanging on as the wolf as THE catalyst for the decline of elk, despite the lack of their presence at all for the worst decade in the disputed zone. Everyone benefits by looking harder, considering other factors…habitat, nutrient availability, undiscovered disease during the worst decade…IDFB is acting like a police investigation who made u their minds ahead of time of who the perp is, and stopped the investigation.

  15. JimT Says:

    My typing is getting worse….apologies to all.

  16. GrizRich Says:

    Several years ago the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) was blaming the Black Bears for killing most of the elk calves, and causing a population decline in the Lolo Region, so they increased the kill of bears. That is a real stretch of the imagination because Black Bears eat a great deal of vegetative material and they take advantage of food sources that are easy to obtain. Of course they would kill elk calves but that impact would be highly variable over the years. IDFG had one hunting unit where they decreased the number of bears that could be taken, and in that particular hunting unit the number of elk still decreased. It is really about the quality of habitat and the forest structure, that has changed significantly since large fires in the area in the 1930’s. It’s called crown closure and the tree crowns shade out the growth of plants on the ground, as the young trees grow taller. 2007 was an extremely dry year with many huge fires but I am not sure how much burned in the LoLo Region.

  17. GrizRich Says:

    What is going to be real interesting is what the elk populations are at the end of 2010. With the huge numbers of wolves killed by hunters and wildlife services in Idaho and Montana the numbers of elk should go way up according to some folks, and it should be pretty much State wide. If elk numbers don’t go way up they will say “oh its the weather”..oh “its the drought” oh “its the black bears”. It’s really about the quality of elk habitat not the predators.

  18. Wilderness Muse Says:

    GrizRich,

    ++With the huge numbers of wolves killed by hunters and wildlife services in Idaho and Montana the numbers of elk should go way up according to some folks, and it should be pretty much State wide.++

    Really? Whoever these “folks” are that are saying this must not realize that according to the preliminary numbers from IDFG, the number of wolves in 2010 will be about the same as 2009. Maybe higher in MT since they were more conservative in their harvest.

    Notwithstanding the harvest and control of “problem wolves” the net change accounting for births seems to leave the population static. That means the wolves have got to continue eating – 8-23/per year per wolf.

    What has changed, for whatever reason and let’s include bears who also feed on young calves because there are lots more bears than wolves, is the elk numbers in select units is decreasing. Those wolves, assuming they are not harvested in those areas, say the Lolo (where less than half the harvest quota has been met), will, as Ralph says, be on the move to higher density prey areas (not sure what the bears will do). Where are they going to go?

    Also consider, that if the Lolo is now known to be in decline as stated in the IDFG 2.26 news release, hunters historically from that Zone will likely seek other areas, which are thought to have more elk. Guess where the wolves will go as well, if adjacent to the areas they are finding it tougher to get a meal?

    And, the really interesting part of this is the demographics of the elk population itself. Lower calf recruitment means a hole in the age distribution – no young animals growing into reproductive age or maturing into harvestable ones for hunters. That is real issue. The planning horizon over which these changes will be imperically observed, then management actions implemented to affect positive change for increased elk population if habitat will support it.

  19. Wilderness Muse Says:

    I should do a better job of proof-reading. Paragraph 3 above.

    “That means the wolves have got to continue eating – 8-23 ELK per year per wolf.”

  20. JimT Says:

    Harvest and Control….you make wolves sound like a corn field having pesticide problems. Just use the correct term…kill. Have that much respect for them….

    I am still not seeing any reasons being offered for the ten year decline without the wolves; I think it is important to identify those reasons; the rest of what will happen in the future is speculation at best when you have a large unexplained “glitch” in the data like the graph shows.

  21. Wilderness Muse Says:

    JimT,

    Sorry, not my terms. Just using what is apparently the accepted terminology of the USFWS, and the states of ID and MT in their respective management plans, and hunting regulatons (laws), and much of the scientific community. If one looks at the way the terms are applied to other predators, and game species I believe you will find them consistent.

    I, too, wish for an explanation of the rapid decline in elk numbers as shown on the table and chart, and keep hoping Mark Gamblin or somebody with verifiable knowledge can help.

  22. JimT Says:

    Not to get nerdy here, but language is very important in terms of framing an issue. The Bush folks understood this very well in terms of the various issues, especially Iraq, and it really does shape thinking. I think if we accept these sanitized terms used by IDFG and others who would rather the reality was hidden or dumbed down to the general public, we are helping the illusion of what is actually happening. Those of us especially should be clear and accurate when it comes to presenting the realities of what the state’s actions are vis a vis the wolf–killing.

    I am suspecting that maybe the experiment by IDFG authorizing Mark to speak with their voice is over, or at least on hold. I don’t know what IDFG/Mark expected; perhaps a kinder gentler response, or acceptance of the party line on the face of it all. I am beginning to suspect Mark is an ok guy who got this assignment of being thrown to the wolves…so to speak…;*)

    We may never get the answer because, in reality, it really would take a considered effort by IDFG and others to look over old data, if it exists, and to have a sincere commitment to a veriable, scientifically supportable study without a bias that “it’s the wolves” since it isn’ t possible for this time period…unless they were ghost wolves…;*)

  23. Jay Barr Says:

    Of course the research in the Lolo zone on calf recruitment and cow survival will indicate that wolves are the problem- it’s the only variable under consideration. If the recruitment/survival had gone up during the same time frame then IDFG’s only conclusion could be that wolves benefitted the elk herd (how likely is that conclusion?). All populations in nature are cyclical and other studies (principally Isle Royale, which may not exactly be pertinent due to its unique conditions [island]) have shown that this holds for wolf-prey; wolves lag behind whatever phase of the cycle the prey is in by a couple of years. And these cycles are influenced by lots of other variables (weather, drought, other predators, human hunting, etc.). The Lolo zone elk herd, if left on its own, would eventually rebound, but it might take quite a long time. A time scale which IDFG (or any other state’s wildlife agency) doesn’t manage on because it is in their best interests to keep ungulate numbers (like trees in a managed forest) in their maximum yield phase so there is always a maximum crop to harvest (to help fill the coffers).

    • JimT Says:

      The unspoken elk in the room here is MONEY…fewer elk, fewer licenses, less budget for IDFG. So, if you can blame wolves for what nature hath wrought, you make up for lost elk license dollars with wolf hunt license fees…Sick, when you really think about it.

      Really, if you think about it from a professional budgeting point of view, which one hopes one’s government does, it would make more sense to stabilize the budget revenue process whenever possible. So, if you imposed a very minor general tax increase to make up for the ups and downs in the traditional way of funding state fish and game departments, you would think that the heads of those departments would welcome predictable revenues upon which to budget for and plan for agency programs. I think it is time that every citizen in a state supported the efforts of a state to manage the ecosystems, and not leave it to a minority of citizens.

      That said, this approach would require the traditional fish and game folks to share access..to share power, in other words. Programs for conservation, for research, for new issues could be expanded and, more importantly, be a consistent part of the fish and game department. It would require that more priorities would be considered along with the traditional management for hunting and fee generation.

      So….???

  24. bob jackson Says:

    jim T,

    I disagree. I feel MSG had a huge ego and thought with his superiority he could persuade the peasants that the moon still was made of cheese. I think he left (temporarily) to let his interpretation of “sore losers” (the judges ruling of allowing G&F to land copters in Frank Church) “cool down.

    Don’t worry, he will be back with as much, or more superiority attitudes as before. And I will be waiting for him….and giving support to all the “underlings” in Idaho G&F who want to see more of what Idaho govt. administration inhouse is like.

    • JimT Says:

      I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but you may be correct…I just know how much pressure can be brought on folks by government agencies with overt political agendas to “conform or leave”….

  25. bob jackson Says:

    WM,

    Loss of a calf crop is only important when elk hunts are managed like pig farming. In natures herds a poor reproductive year just means there is an opportunity for more herd infrastructure development.

    • Wilderness Muse Says:

      Bob,

      And yet, here we are. Mother Nature is constrained by an increasing human population, with competing and even ugly demands. Without humans there would be no need to farm pigs, or manage elk, bison (I know one guy, maybe two, who do it for profit), wolves or other creatures. I do favor fewer people, by the way, so none of this would be at issue.

      On a related subject, I just started Dr. Dale Lott’s, “American Bison”(2002). So far, cow infrastructure seems to be the dominnat protector theme, just like mainstream biologists believe is mostly true for elk. And, I keep looking for the bulls “guarding the herd” from afar. Or, was it just that they like solitude (unless it is the rut), or simply can’t run as fast becuse of body mass? I found one great quote already. “The bull that stands between his calf and all the wolves in the world is a sweet myth. I really like this myth: it makes the bull the kind of father we all wanted…..The father is almost certainly somewhere else, alone or with some other absentee fathers – enjoying the warm sunshine, eating the green grass, resting, ruminating, eying and generally getting ready to defeat it. Selection has focused him.” ( p. 103).

      Bob, is this one of the infrastructure teachings I am to dismiss on your authority, as with those in the Barsness book? Any thoughts on the text V. Geist wrote.? That will probably be my next bison reading.

  26. JEFF E Says:

    Ralph, Layton,
    Thanks for your consideration. None of us will ever get anywhere with this issue until we eliminate the hyperbole; the conspiracy theories, and the fear mongering.
    Like most other issues the only way to do that is education concerning whatever the subject at hand is.
    Having said that, after reading the studies that I have posted and all the background knowledge I have on wolves, there is something about this report that Cal put out that is not adding up.Just can’t put my finger on it. I will probably go over everything this weekend with a fine tooth comb to see if I can get a handle on it

    • R Tobasco Says:

      As a hunter and one who is not in favor of protecting wolves I see that issue of education cuts both ways. On this website I often read what I think are conspiracy theories put forth by well-intentioned pro-wolf factions that would like us all to believe that all who hunt are unworthy, one toothed, uneducated rednecks.
      It is apparent that ignorance runs amok on this website as well. Only this brand of ignorance is far more dangerous in my opinion because much of it spouts from so-called educated mouths. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of contributors to this website have at least a BS and a good percentage are educated beyond that level.
      If there is one thing I have learned (and it became more evident while in the process of obtaining my own MS) – the world is full of well educated ignorance.

      Unfortunately, on an issue as devisive as wolves, there is plenty of igorance to go around. The idealists that would see us get on the boats and go back to Europe so this great land can return to its natural state are every bit as stoopid as Cousin Clem who fears that wolves are on the verge attacking the homestead with intent of running off with the women folk.

      While I don’t favor it – wolves are here to stay. We – you and I, live in the habitat they once knew as prime. That’s because we have settled, with our homes, businesses and livestock the very ground that the deer and elk once favored. There was a reason that Lewis and Clark danged near starved while crossing the Bitteroots. No game. Also meant no wolves. I doubt you’re moving out to make room for wolves – I know I ain’t. Well – let’s get the cattle out of the hills. Sounds simple enough until you start thinking about all the folks (chances are most of you are among em) who eat meat. And then all the jobs go with that industry, etc. Not simple at all.

      The fact is that we have altered the landscape – there is very little historical range left for wolves. Yet we have to have em – according to a few.

      So here they are and here they are going to stay. Hunting isn’t going to control em much. Wait and see.

      It seems as though the injunctions being sought to end the current hunting are likely to succeed – If one believes what he reads on the matter. In my opinion this will only exacerbated the issues. At current levels, if left unchecked for any length of time wolf populations will grow rapidly and territory will expand significantly. Big name numbers will continue to plummet. There will be an increase in wolf created conflict on a variety of fronts. Yes – at some point populations will stabilize and the wolves will “self-control.”
      But between now and then expect a whole bunch of ugly from all sides.

      Folks – wolf populations are far above the levels originally requested and originally thought to be viable. Unless you (wolf advocates) lied. You wouldn’t lie would you? If hunting is halted through the courts are you truly ingorant enough to think that shooting of wolves will also stop? I agree thats a really stupid way to earn a trip to prison and in the end won’t solve much of anything. But frustration will eventually find a way to vent.

      Seems to me that education is needed all around. Get off your theorizing butts and take a drive/hike on the old Lolo Motorway. There are places where wolf tracks and scat is so dense it looks as if dogs have been kenneled. Just be sure to carry a weapon in case some enterprising wolf endeavors to steal the handkerchief from your mongrel’s neck.

      Just two years ago I was told by a Fish and Game biolgist that elk numbers were good in the Lochsa, they have just changed their habits. Jeff E – maybe what you are struggling with is the fact that F&G is finally coming forward with some truth. If that is the case I’m not any happier about it than you.

      I began hunting in the Lochsa in the seventies, and I am quite familiar with demise of elk numbers both pre and post 1995. It is ignorance to say the whole picture is the fault of wolf re-introduction. But is it is equally igorant to ignore the realities since wolves were introduced in 1995. Wolves HAVE had a devastating effect on ungulate populations in the Lolo zone.

      If you want wolves protected as a species you had better wake up to the realities and recognize that effective controls are needed sooner rather than later.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Does anyone want to reply to the comment by R Tobasco? I could say something about every paragraph, but it is late.

      All I will write at this hour is his comment reflects what I think is a common perception among the hardcore anti-wolf folks that those who disagree with them are well educated (but not woods smart), lack common sense, and look down on those with less education.

    • JEFF E Says:

      As a hunter and one who is not in favor of protecting wolves I see that issue of education cuts both ways. On this website I often read what I think are conspiracy theories put forth by well-intentioned pro-wolf factions that would like us all to believe that all who hunt are unworthy, one toothed, uneducated rednecks.
      (speaking only of this site, compare with such gems a huntwolves.com, lobowatch.com, mainhuntingtoday.com. take the time to fact check the stories/comments thoroughly. I think you might be surprised. We won’t even get into the butchering of the English language.)

      It is apparent that ignorance runs amok on this website as well. Only this brand of ignorance is far more dangerous in my opinion because much of it spouts from so-called educated mouths.
      (Specific examples?)

      I’d be willing to bet that the majority of contributors to this website have at least a BS and a good percentage are educated beyond that level.
      (what’s your point?)
      If there is one thing I have learned (and it became more evident while in the process of obtaining my own MS) – the world is full of well educated ignorance.
      (what’s your point?)

      Unfortunately, on an issue as devisive as wolves, there is plenty of igorance to go around.
      (True)

      The idealists that would see us get on the boats and go back to Europe so this great land can return to its natural state are every bit as stoopid as Cousin Clem who fears that wolves are on the verge attacking the homestead with intent of running off with the women folk.

      (I would say that the two examples would represent the very smallest extreme ends of the spectrum. Hardly worth talking about and only detracts from any real discourse on the subject.)

      While I don’t favor it – wolves are here to stay. We – you and I, live in the habitat they once knew as prime. That’s because we have settled, with our homes, businesses and livestock the very ground that the deer and elk once favored.
      (And there you have hit the nail on the head, and the livestock industry cares no more for having increased levels of deer and elk than they care about having wolves)

      There was a reason that Lewis and Clark danged near starved while crossing the Bitteroots. No game. Also meant no wolves.
      (What’s your point?)

      I doubt you’re moving out to make room for wolves – I know I ain’t. Well – let’s get the cattle out of the hills. Sounds simple enough until you start thinking about all the folks (chances are most of you are among em) who eat meat. And then all the jobs go with that industry, etc. Not simple at all.
      (then let’s take them of the welfare roles and have them pay there own way like ~97% of the other livestock producers do nationwide.)

      The fact is that we have altered the landscape – there is very little historical range left for wolves. Yet we have to have em – according to a few.
      (The direction to start the recovery of the Grey wolf to it’s historic range was implemented under the Regan administration and signed off on by President Regan. As for how much of that range is still left, well probably more that the states would have you believe and less than some environmental orgs would have you believe. )

      So here they are and here they are going to stay. Hunting isn’t going to control em much. Wait and see.

      It seems as though the injunctions being sought to end the current hunting are likely to succeed – If one believes what he reads on the matter. In my opinion this will only exacerbated the issues. At current levels, if left unchecked for any length of time wolf populations will grow rapidly and territory will expand significantly. Big name numbers will continue to plummet.
      (What part wolves play in prey density can be debated as in some areas the prey increases, some hold steady, and some declines. What I wonder is when will the actual science start to drive the issue.)

      There will be an increase in wolf created conflict on a variety of fronts. Yes – at some point populations will stabilize and the wolves will “self-control.”
      But between now and then expect a whole bunch of ugly from all sides.
      (probably)

      Folks – wolf populations are far above the levels originally requested and originally thought to be viable. Unless you (wolf advocates) lied.
      (Give me any cites to back this up. anywhere)

      You wouldn’t lie would you? If hunting is halted through the courts are you truly ingorant enough to think that shooting of wolves will also stop?
      (who ever said this unless you equate poaching with acceptable behavior)

      I agree thats a really stupid way to earn a trip to prison and in the end won’t solve much of anything. But frustration will eventually find a way to vent.

      Seems to me that education is needed all around. Get off your theorizing butts and take a drive/hike on the old Lolo Motorway. There are places where wolf tracks and scat is so dense it looks as if dogs have been kenneled.
      (Good lord, how can anyone even address this statement.? Suffice to say why are the wolf hunters not sitting on those areas and shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel)
      Just be sure to carry a weapon in case some enterprising wolf endeavors to steal the handkerchief from your mongrel’s neck.

      Just two years ago I was told by a Fish and Game biolgist that elk numbers were good in the Lochsa, they have just changed their habits. Jeff E – maybe what you are struggling with is the fact that F&G is finally coming forward with some truth. If that is the case I’m not any happier about it than you.
      (No that’s not the case. I’m not struggling with anything. Just looks fishy. but because I work for a living Just have not had time to sort it all out. IDFG is fairly good at covering there tracks but far from perfect at it)

      I began hunting in the Lochsa in the seventies, and I am quite familiar with demise of elk numbers both pre and post 1995. It is ignorance to say the whole picture is the fault of wolf re-introduction. But is it is equally igorant to ignore the realities since wolves were introduced in 1995. Wolves HAVE had a devastating effect on ungulate populations in the Lolo zone.
      (Is it wolves or has the habitat degraded to the point that the elk population was crashing anyway but wolves just made the inevitable happen a little sooner and thus have become the whipping boy. After all why were there no elk in that country when Lewis and Clark went thru?)

      If you want wolves protected as a species you had better wake up to the realities and recognize that effective controls are needed sooner rather than later.
      (what’s your point?)

  27. bob jackson Says:

    jim T,

    Yes, govt employees routinely “conform” and once they do it is all downhill from there, ethically, emotionally and professionally. “They” think if they conform and kneel to the oppressors at least they can go back to their little cubby hole. But the oppressors don’t let it end with peeing on them. They then make those subjugated take part in breaking down fellow employees.

    From what I witnessed in Yellowstone it never, never worked out for anyone to conform to “pressure”. All they end up with is bitterness or apathy. Remember this, you “subordinates” listening in from Idaho F&G. As Robert and the movie, Burn After Reading, said, “forewarned is forearmed”.

    • JimT Says:

      You make good points about the workplace, morale, etc. I just think it is a difficult situation to be in when you take in all the practical considerations of mortgages, kids, etc., especially in a bad economy. And then, there is the old saw about doing more good from inside that outside, but to be honest, I never really saw that in any organization.

      I will have to see if Netflix has that movie…I seem to remember seeing it, but can’t recall the details. Blame it on cell destruction…;*)

    • JimT Says:

      I did see it…wasn’t all that great one for the Coen Bros. Fargo still my favorite movie of theirs. Marge Gunderson should run for President…;*)

  28. Robert Hoskins Says:

    Bob

    I’ve never seen Burn After Reading; the quotation is a maxim I often heard in Special Forces, as in, “always do your own intelligence work–never trust what higher headquarters is saying because they’re lying to you.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain that to you. Higher is the same everywhere. Lower only survives by thinking for himself.

    RH

    • Wilderness Muse Says:

      “Burn After Reading” is a Coen brothers comedy. Not one of Malkavich, Pitt or Clooney’s better works. If you have ever wondered what box office draw actors do, while waiting for the next big script, this is it. Definitely B, but it does have a few good one liners, and typical Coen brothers over the top characters with attitude. I will guess Bob Jackson didn’t like it as much as “No Country For Old Men.”

      Ah, yes, Bob Jackson, “conformity,” the bain of all anarchists. Not that there is not a time and place for anarchy, but the guy in the middle of a close order drill who starts off with his right foot does create an interesting situation, to the embarassment of all, including commanders. Yellowstone NP must have indeed been a depressing place to work.

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      Close order drill lost its value when the rifle revolutionized tactics.

    • Wilderness Muse Says:

      That is the trouble with analogies. They all break down at some level, and the meaning is lost on those who do not see the purpose of the example. Indeed, marching in orderly rows and columns is a useful way of getting from point A to point B. And, that is why it is still done today. Maybe that is even why a veteran preference is given for federal government job applicants.

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      Marching/traveling in orderly rows makes a unit a big target. That’s why IEDs have had such an impact in Iraq and Af’stan.

      It was a lousy analogy to try and bolster cowardly conformity in government agencies.

      RH

    • Wilderness Muse Says:

      Robert,

      You keep diverting from the point of the analogy, to discredit its relevance, or me. Not quite sure which is your intended target.

      Conformity and dissent each have a role. Maybe they are even opposites sides of a coin. Neither government (including military), as we think of it in a democracy, nor business of any kind can function without dissent to some degree.

      The problem with dissent is that if it becomes a dominant a characteristic it leads to disorganization, and dare I say, anarchy. Nothing gets done. I have seen the results of too much dissent, where policy emerges from deep within the bowel of an agency. It creates havoc and it demoralizes.

      Equally important, I have seen lockstep conformity that paralyzes an agency/business sending it off (yes, even by rows and columns) in the wrong direction. Dissent, even if it is to the benefit of some/all), is met with swift discipline, and the march continues its destruction.

      Balance is good. Knowing when to conform or dissent, or acknowledge the values and shortcomings of each, is the key. It requires good judgement, which not all people –regardless of whether they are the highers or the lowers– possess.

      Again, there is a time to start off with the correct foot for the benefit of the group and its mission, modern combat tactics to avoid excessive and unncecssary casulties excepted.

  29. JEFF E Says:

    Of course this report was not released for any one that has any knowledge of the situation, but for the uninformed, the fear-mongers and the legislature.

  30. bob jackson Says:

    I guess I never thought much of the vast majority of my NPS leaders, WM. And from what I saw of the Forest Service USFW agents I had similar impressions.

    Now those oldtimers, those ones one knows little about, now that is another thing.

    and as far as movies, yes, Farego was hard to beat. It won best picture if I remember right. But Burn after Reading, maybe it wasn’t the best for those non govt. types, but if one was ever in entrenched govt. then this movie is one of the best. There were so many examples of what I saw all the time in YNP.

    And no, WM, I don’t consider myself an anarchist. Just someone who doesn’t take advantage of a system.

  31. JB Says:

    Jeff E-

    Good point. The internal, “gray literature” reports that such press releases are based upon often do not pass peer review–usually because they oversimplify things. Also, when agencies are under lots of political pressure, as in this case, the results of internal reports are not trusted (this is not unique to F&G agencies). For these reasons, when agencies want to get the answer right, they usually contract out to scientists at academic institutions.

    • JEFF E Says:

      JB,
      I have listened to the commissars talk; sat in the same room with em. They are no more interested in conserving wolves than they are in propagating the measles. Any thing that could be construed to point to wolves as causing the decline of any thing, even mosquitoes,
      these bozos will be all over it.

  32. Robert Hoskins Says:

    For those who think group think, conformity, and bureaucracy accomplish anything, I highly recommend this piece by an ex-cop on the insanity of the American “drug war” in Mexico.

    http://www.fredoneverything.net/MexicoDrugs.shtml.

    “Why does the military regularly misestimate the nature of the Third World? Because soldiers live, and think, in a rigid, conformist, orderly world in which good (us) and evil (them) are starkly distinct, in which one gives orders and things happen, in which all are on the team and working toward a common goal. Officers are insular, self-righteous, ruthless (after all, they are fighting Evil) and clueless. The workings of the Third World are the polar opposite of orderliness of the military. The colonels are instantly lost in the complex relationships, informal arrangements, family loyalties and invisible politics of Latin America. And they do not understand that when they intervene, they are not the good guys. “

    • Wilderness Muse Says:

      Robert,

      Reed is an articulate critic with a colorful background. Certainly it is easier to point out problems – insatiable demand for drugs from Mexico, and the insanity of our intervention efforts – than to solve them. Mexico is no easy fix for so many reasons, nor are most third-world countries whose cultures and problems we do not understand, possibly even, for the reaons he describes in your quote above.

      We are the next door neighbor Mexicans (whoever he was talking about in their society) increasingly loves to hate, while their elite, and new-moneyed drug lords continue to spread fear and intimidation, and infiltrate and corrupt government, and become ever richer, while the populace suffers.

      Maybe we ought to cut off all remittances of any type to Mexico, send their illegals back and let them have a revolution to sort it all out. Why do I get the sense the wrong side will prevail?

      And, why do I get the impression, Reed – an over the top persona with what appears to be a Che Guavara beret, sunglasses, cigar the size of a fencepost, and a full of himself, irreverent attitude – continues to enrich his own life, with “better living through chemistry”?

  33. JimT Says:

    One of the areas of study I focused on during my MPA studies were organizational behaviors. After reading more business and psycho-social materials than I care to remember, I came to the conclusion that organizations are best thought of as living entities, with all of the biases, culture, oddities, illnesses and abilities of the human beings who make them up. There is a constant tension between the purposes of the corporate being and the human beings.. a strange co-dependence, if you will. One of the reasons why DC bureaucracies and power bases survive decade after decade no matter who is in power…they just absorb the latest group of humans, and then keep on keeping on when the next batch comes in.

  34. bob jackson Says:

    I agree, Jim, that it is best to treat organizations as living entities. But what makes them dysfunctional is the employees, public servant application of extended families evolutionary needs (emotions) when there is no “blood” involved. Thus emotions such as loyalty can not be applied or demanded by any president or CEO. Common cause, yes, but loyality, no. Thus, there always are “traitors” to be found by those who demand loyalty.

    It is so easily seen, this dysfunction, when the artifical bull groups of a corporation promote one of their kind that everyone else in the company says,”How could they, he is a real zero?”.

    The reason I was able to maintain my individuality and at the same time predict what administration in Yellowstone was up to (so I could counter every move) was understanding how they collectively operated extended family dysfunctionally.

  35. Aaron M.C. Says:

    Can anyone imagine what SaveOurElk’s interpretation of the graph is?

  36. Kelly P. Says:

    My family began hunting elk in the Lochsa region beginning in the early 60’s. The elk population seamed to do better when the forest was logged. In the mid 80’s the elk population began to decrease. By the early 90’s and before the wolves were released, the elk population had decreased significantly. The IDFG blamed cougars and bears and even extended hunting opportunities for these predators. The elk population continued to decline. The wolves are now being blamed. It’s time for the IDFG to look at other potential causes, perhaps habitat.


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