Jackson Hole News: WY Elk numbers way above objectives

Elk in Wyoming are doing well, even when you look at individual herds-

The Jackson Hole News and Guide April 28 reported their analysis of the 2010 Big Game Management Summary of Wyoming Game and Fish. This article is not on-line, so I will summarize.

The annual census reported almost 103,000 elk in the 27 herds counted this winter. The state’s overall objective for these herds is about 76,000. The post-hunt count early in 2009 was about 1000 less and back in 2008 it was only 93,000 elk.

Some folks complain that elk might be numerous overall, but they are way down where I outfit, hunt, or whatever. The News reports, however, that 20 of the 27 herds were above objectives. Seven were at objective. None were below. There was incomplete data for 8 (so not included in the 27 herds).

Hunters in WY killed 22,839 elk in 2009 compared to 20,866 in 2008. The time for the average hunter to kill an elk declined in 2009 to 17.6 recreation days compared to 18.9 in 2008. Note that this calculation also includes those who hunted but were not successful.

The Jackson Hole elk herd count was 11,693, 6% above objectives. The objective is 11,000. The cow/elk calf ratio was 24, down from the 10-year average of 25.  The ratio was suspected to be lower in the Teton Wilderness and southern Yellowstone Park. It was not calculated.

The Targhee herd was not surveyed. The Fall Creek herd, to the south of Jackson was 16% over objective. More tags for that herd will be issued this year.

Folks should remember that the state’s elk objectives, including local objectives are set under strong pressure from the powerful livestock industry.  They usually don’t like to see “important animals” like cattle and sheep having to compete much with elk for grass.

A sometimes solution for nuisance bears? Feed them.

Biologist thinks it may be the answer if done properly-

Please DO Feed the Bears, Biologist Says. By Lia Kvatum. National Geographic News.

Gulf oil spill could hit Louisiana coast Thursday night

Oh yes, let’s drill for a lot more off-shore oil. They have great, green technology now!

Although this Administration is not responsible for this huge oil leak, it highlights their boneheaded policy of greatly expanded off-shore drilling.  It looks like this could be almost as bad as the 1989 Alaska catastrophe with the Exxon Valdez . . .  and the petroleum keeps leaking out of the wrecked bottom of the oil platform. It could take 90 days to stop the leak!

The oil is now just offshore. It will hit a wildlife management area first!

4/30. As oil spill hits Louisiana coast, critics assail Obama’s offshore drilling plan. By Steven Mufson and Michael D. Shear. Washington Post Staff Writer

4/30. New. Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez. Video. By Cain Burdeau And Holbrook Mohr. Washington Post.l

4/30. Update. Video. Oil reaches the coast.

Gulf oil spill could hit Louisiana coast Thursday night. By Steven Mufson. Washington Post.

Growing Gulf of Mexico oil leak called spill of ‘national significance’. Greenspace in the Los Angeles Times.

Oil Execs Called To Testify Before Congress On Gulf Coast Spill, Consumer Pricing. Huffington Post.

The slick as seen from space. NPR

Gulf oil spill and BP profits. Dallas Morning Tribune blog. By Todd Robertson.  And I thought BP referred to “beyond petroleum”. Now they tell me it has always been British Petroleum. grrrrr!

Hair rub technique appears to yield cheaper, more accurate data on grizzlies

More grizzlies than thought in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem

Grizzly feeding on elk © Ken Cole

The grizzly bear DNA study that Senator John McCain often ridiculed out of ignorance has shown that there are many more grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem than previously estimated. The technique is effective enough that individual bears can be recognized and the parentage of the bears can also be determined.

The researchers estimate that there are about 765 grizzlies in the area which is 2 1/2 times higher than previously thought.

Industry groups like this information because they want grizzlies to be taken off the Endangered Species List. They are hoping for eased restrictions on logging, mining and other activities.

Hair rub technique appears to yield cheaper, more accurate data on grizzlies.
Juliet Eilperin – Washington Post

Wolves make few unnecessary elk kills, study says

Wyoming study shows surplus killing is uncommon-

So the Jackson Hole wolves rarely engage in surplus killing. This uncommon event is morphed into “killing for fun” by hard core antis. Wolves are most likely to abandon a carcass when humans disturb it, but that is only some packs.  Another Wyoming myth dispelled is that the elk leave usually leave the state feedgrounds every time wolves make a kill.

About the study in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. . .  Wolves make few unnecessary elk kills, study says. Wapiti tend to stay on Gros Ventre feedgrounds during attacks. Story is by Cory Hatch.

Be sure to read the refusal of a local outfitter to believe the study. He questions the motives of the USFWS and thinks that they are trying to make the wolf “sound as good as they can”. This lack of acceptance  is what I’d expect. A person’s attitudes are tied together if they are strongly held. When new information arrives that does match the attitudes, a person will change their thinking in the way that causes them the least discomfort. In this case, the easiest change is to discredit the study (after all it is a federal study).  Attitude change is large topic in the field of social psychology. One conclusion is that people are not rational in the short run when they get dissonant information (information they don’t like). That is because accepting unpleasant information may make them feel silly, harm their ties to friends, require them to change a lot of other attitudes, cause them to be frightened, etc.

The newspaper story also mentions the data from the latest Wyoming wolf weekly. Here is a direct link.

Idaho scientists find fabled worm

The Giant Palouse Earthworm persists.

Giant Palouse earthworm

Giant Palouse earthworm

The significance of this discovery could be pretty great. The earthworm has been the subject of a petition to list it as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act but it was denied protection because too little was known and there hadn’t been a specimen seen for many years. That all changes now but to what degree is a good question. The worm lives in northern Idaho and eastern Washington in an area known as the Palouse which has become developed for agriculture over the last century.

There was quite a discussion about an article we posted in January. You can read the post here: Great White: Rare worm vs. farmers

Idaho scientists find fabled worm.
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS – Associated Press

An interesting blog

coyotes-wolves-cougars.blogspot.com

I’ve had this blog on the blogroll for over a month. It’s still small, but the webmaster has the talent to put it simply with interesting video. You might want to check it out.