The outfitter shot at 4 wolves but only recovered 2 of them. Were the other 2 killed or just wounded?
The IDFG specially sanctioned wolf hunt for outfitters in the Lolo Zone has resulted in the death of 2 wolves and possible wounding of 2 others. Two of the wolves were not recovered. I guess that is good enough for some people but I think this is terribly unethical.
The IDFG is unhappy that more wolves weren’t killed, maybe this is an indication that there aren’t as many as they think there are in this area. If it’s not good elk habitat then it’s not good wolf habitat either and the numbers just don’t add up. It takes a lot of elk to feed the number of wolves that the IDFG claims are there yet they say that there are just a few elk in the Lolo. Even if the IDFG does kill as many wolves as they are hoping to do it doesn’t change the underlying fact that the habitat cannot support as many elk as it once did.
There is a set of bigger question that one needs to ask. Is it right to manage wildlife for the benefit of just one species, elk, over the benefit of all other species in an effort to benefit a single contingent of the public, hunters? Is it okay to disrupt a natural balance to such a degree that all predators of elk be heavily reduced so that the elk can later be killed by hunters? Should wildlife managers only listen to hunters or should non-hunters have a voice in how wildlife is managed as well? How can the system be changed so that this can take place and will the hunting community allow it even if non-hunters are contributing financially, voluntarily or otherwise, to the costs of game management?
The article also points out that 55 bears were killed in the spring bear hunt.
N. Idaho outfitter reports 4 wolves killed
July 7, 2010 at 9:20 PM
Embarrassing news. Everyone involved in this fiasco should be ashamed.
July 8, 2010 at 11:47 AM
Jimt, a few years ago, a pennsylvanian woman by the name of Jan Haagensen was convicted by a judge on five counts of hunter harassment – for telling invading hunters to get off her land, and for telling a hunter hunting from the road that what he was doing was illegal even under the hunting laws of PA. One of the hunters threatened to shoot her and her mother. All she did was tell them. All she did was ask them to leave and in return, they harassed her and one of them as I said, threatened to kill her and her mother. The lady received 5 citations for telling hunters to get off her land. A trial insued, but what they did not count on was that Jane was a lawyer. in 2005, the charges were overturned based on a total absence of evidence. In 2008, she laucned a suit to seek damages and to challenge the state-level hunter harassment statute of PA as being unconstitutional.
July 7, 2010 at 10:03 PM
It’s not okay by me and I resent the argument that *only* hunters support wildlife conservation. Yes, I know their money has gone to protect many large land parcels that support non-game species, but *as a whole* they aren’t as interested in managing the land for ecosystem integrity, as they are for production of game. (I know several who are, and there are some in this forum, but it seems they may be in the minority.)
Now, it may sound like I’m jumping on hunters, but here is what I mean: I think hunters have the right to have their interests recognized and some areas managed for their benefit; e.g., increasing ungulate and gamebird populations at the expense of predator populations, allowing ORVs and horses in the backcountry, domestic dogs in wetlands and uplands, etc.
What’s wrong is the belief that all uses of public land can be compatible if only things are “managed” correctly. Those who want to compose poetry or to oil paint don’t seem to count; they aren’t *using* anything, so we don’t have to provide for their interests, which might include getting away from the sights and sounds of human civilization, horses and mountain bikes and snow machines and dogs and fishing boats included, being alone, and being able to see wild animals in their natural state of dynamic balance. These interests overlap with those of ecologists and biologists who want to study the system under its “reference conditions”–those that existed before us crazy white people came to scour river valleys for gold and deplete the landscape of any animal with a soft furry hide or tasty tongue.
It used to be fashionable to talk about managing the land in sort of concentric circles of increasing use; i.e., there would be undisturbed core areas where even humans were discouraged from going (maybe that’s not important to many people in America, but I would find great comfort knowing that some areas would be unsullied by human disturbance and “management”), then wilderness-type zones where there is no hunting or vehicle use, to areas on the outskirts where predators might be more controlled and hunting would be allowed, then road access and trails for the disabled, lakes managed for angling, etc.
July 7, 2010 at 10:19 PM
No Angela, it DOES sound like your jumping on hunters…
July 7, 2010 at 11:10 PM
If you’re not bowing down to kiss the ground that hunters walk on you’re going to be accused of attacking hunting or hunters.
Where is this assault on hunting I’m always hearing about? HSUS? PETA? They’re like background noise, but what real impact have they had in curtailing hunting? I get the impression that there are some real paranoid hunters out there.
SB, I’m curious, what specifically did Angela say that sounded like “jumping on hunters”?
July 8, 2010 at 7:50 AM
Well it also seems there are quite a few paranoid non-hunters as well.
July 8, 2010 at 9:54 AM
If the poets and the painters (and all the other non-hunting users) brought the same amount of money and political organization to the table that hunters do then their views would count more. That may not be fair but its the way it is.
July 8, 2010 at 11:20 AM
There is no indication by the agencies or policy makers, or indeed the hunting community, that they would welcome whole new set of non hunting voices influencing and setting policy. As has been stated before,,,unless there is some assurance by the current players at the table they are willing to listen to alternative points of views beside livestock, hunters and outfitters, it is a waste of time and money. It is a red herring solution…sounds reasonable, but basically non viable.
Hardly paranoid. When I was living in a semi rural part of Vermont with about 230 acres of protected space, POSTED, neighbors had bad encounters with hunters there threatening to shoot dogs if they reported them hunting from the roads, poaching etc. My wife and I were threatened by two hunters with guns out of the window, looking down at a herd of whitetails in a field that was clearly posted by the owner. They drove away when I asked them point black if they were threatening us with bodily harm. Both were later arrested for poaching in our area, leaving a wounded deer in the front yard and an orphaned fawn.
So, paranoid? Hardly. It may not be the majority of hunters who act like their concerns trump all others, but they exist and some of us have experienced first hand. Of course, because it didn’t happen here, or in your neck of the woods, I guess it doesn’t count…:*)
All this kind of behavior does is make permanent the barrier between hunters and folks who want lands managed for other values besides game animals.
July 8, 2010 at 11:32 AM
Hell I am a hunter and have been threaten by criminals using the title of hunter, but I can tell you it is the exception and not the rule, I have been running around the woods of the Western US for over 45 years now, and it has only happened a couple of times..
I would say, your neck of the woods comment is out of line as I have never claimed that everybody that is a hunter is a good guy, there are assholes in every walk of life..
July 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM
Not out of line at all. Some folks have never lived East, only West, and would have a purely Western view of hunting and hunting behaviors because of the “Mythos of the West”. And just because it is only a few assholes, as you say, it doesn’t negate the fact that one side has a gun, and the other doesn’t. A very different dynamic than merely disagreeing on a point of view,and one that tends to last. Hunters like that only would listen to their peers and their disapproval of such behaviors; other opinions are unlikely to matter .
July 8, 2010 at 12:12 PM
During my time in the Military, I had occasion to live on the east coast as well as hunt in the east, I am pretty rounded in the areas that I have lived and the people I have been exposed to..
July 7, 2010 at 10:27 PM
How about those who want to get away from oil painters and poetry composers. It sounds like you would like to have the entire mountain range to yourself — so would I.
July 8, 2010 at 2:44 AM
Ah, long live this well nourished gap between hunters and non-hunters! Hey, nobody really want´s to bridge it! But.: To not quietly accept everything from the hunting community without some thoughts or criticism does not automatically mean somebody is against hunting in general! Sorry hunting folks, one example out of many: We recently had a wolf walking into a hunting party and, please remember, German hunters are among the best trained and most tested in the world. Ok, the first specialist identified the wolf as a stray dog and smashed his left forepaw with his shot. The second clown did not much better and shattered the wolves jaws. Now the third one, having identified the animal as wolf, finally decided it was time to put the poor animal down and gave it a shot of mercy. At least they did not use automatic rifles – such as your hunters sometimes use – to produce that bleeding mess of mince meat (pic available if you desire). In such cases, and there are all too many of these, a few minor questions and maybe even a tiny hint of criticism might be thoroughly appropriate! He guys: Had your “Jaegermeister” (A booze popular with hunters) already before the hunt? Need a few more examples from a well stocked archives?
Kind regards…from an oil painter!
July 8, 2010 at 9:57 AM
Obviously of the surrealist school…
July 8, 2010 at 10:21 AM
++At least they did not use automatic rifles – such as your hunters sometimes use – to produce that bleeding mess of mince meat (pic available if you desire). ++
I usually find your comments stimulating, factually accurate and, for the most, part not extremely judgmental.
This statement, and the bulk of your post above, seems to push pretty hard to the other side of that. I don’t know where the information for the statement above comes from, but I will submit that it is not a frequent occurrence. And, where such conduct allegedly occurs, it would get some pretty strong rebukes from the “hunter” community as most of in the West know it. Not sure what you mean by “automatic” rifles (fully automatic are illegal and semi-automatic are very much frowned upon).
As for your European master hunters, not sure why they would be shooting at a stray dog or a wolf (protected?) in the first place. I hope someone reported the yahoos involved in the incident you describe and they got their tickets pulled – permanantly- and maybe a fine to go with it.
July 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM
++How about those who want to get away from oil painters and poetry composers. .++
Yes, the impact of these fiends is immense. What is next in their nefarious plans?
July 9, 2010 at 1:30 AM
I admit, I deliberately exaggerated a little bit with my remark on the automatic weapons – sometimes I let loose in frustration – comes maybe with age! Thus I remember having read a few stories with guys shooting with everything on hand from the platform of their truck. Here, hunters or better the tenants of a hunt are allowed to kill stray dogs / cats if poaching is suspected. Of course, the wolf is heavily protected so – in theory at least – you as a hunter should double / triple check on what you are actually aiming. If in doubt, do not shoot! They informed authorities voluntarily (ok, with so many people around there was no way to cover up the story) and they got out of it unharmed.
July 7, 2010 at 10:29 PM
Angela’s response is exactly why, it will a long time before this divide is solved!
July 8, 2010 at 7:32 AM
No, actually your response is why it will be a long time before this divide is solved. It seems you are the defensive one in that exchange.
July 8, 2010 at 7:49 AM
Sorry that you took offense Ken!
July 7, 2010 at 10:48 PM
I will say it again. This is just more evidence that there are not many wolves in the Lolo.
The elk declined because of maturing forest, and they will absolutely not return to anything like previous numbers until the area is burned off again. Predators have very little to do with the relatively small (compared to the past) elk numbers in the area.
But politics dictates that Idaho Fish and Game pretend they can do something about the lack of elk. Predator killing here is primarily a ritual similar to a rain dance.
July 8, 2010 at 8:11 AM
You are right on the money Ralph. Everytime when their is a low # of elk in a certain area, the first thing to do is cry predator without even mentioning the other possibilities for low elk #s. This same attitude is going on in MI and MN right now with hunters crying wolf when infact wolves are killing less deer. than the hunters themselves. This is why they stopped Alaska from killing wolves. They have to actually determine why caribou #s are so low. The state jumped the gun and most likely assumed it was because of wolves, the federal govt. thought otherwise.
July 7, 2010 at 11:28 PM
What do you mean by “not many wolves” in the Lolo Zone? Fewer than the current wolf population estimates, or low relative to an unstated benchmark?
July 8, 2010 at 8:47 AM
Fewer than the current wolf population estimates.
July 8, 2010 at 10:07 AM
What is the basis for IDFG’s wolf population estimate for each zone?
July 8, 2010 at 10:24 AM
It is explained in the 2009 Idaho Wolf Report.
Counting wolves is difficult, especially in Idaho, there are numerous factors that could lead to an undercount in some cases and an overcount in others.
The count in each zone is no doubt of differing quality, and my view after reading about the Lolo, is that their data there was less certain than in other zones. I mean they didn’t really count wolves or even howls or tracks. Many of the packs were not really located and might not exist. They might be a double count, have ceased to exist, moved out, etc.
Please read the report and decide for yourself.
July 8, 2010 at 10:43 AM
Notwithstanding the ambiguities of wolf population estimates at the zone level, the general consensus from FWS scientists, including Dr. Mech, is that the gross numbers of wolves in the NRM is conservative and under-estimated, by as much as twenty to twenty-five percent. And, he argues they will continue to be under-estimated by an ever larger margin, as time goes on and fewer wolves are tracked electronically, and the dispersal range widens.
Also important to remember is that wolves move around alot and don’t stay in their “zone” where harvest numbers may be determined based on data up to a year in arrears.
If there is an over-estimate in the Lolo as Ralph suggests, I will submit it is equally plausible there is an under-estimate in adjacent zones, for example the Elk City/Dworshak where last year’s wolf harvest quota was pretty quickly achieved (better hunter access also a factor).
Wolves follow the easy prey base (larger numbers and less wary) and that is why to a large degree the numbers in YNP have reduced as they now look for elk outside the park.
And, yes, read the ID wolf report.
July 8, 2010 at 5:18 PM
“…he argues they will continue to be under-estimated by an ever larger margin, as time goes on and fewer wolves are tracked electronically, and the dispersal range widens.”
Mech’s assessment assumes less effort on the part of the agency as populations increase. I find this assertion curious. As has been discussed ad nauseum, the state of Idaho has a vested interest in ensuring they count as many wolves as possible–wasn’t that the argument for helicopter capture of wolves in the wilderness (increased effort)? Seems to me that with increased effort they should find a greater percentage of the existing wolf population?
Also, just to clarify. Wolves may move around a lot, but they are extremely territorial. Packs whose territories occur entirely within a management unit are very unlikely to stray to another unit.
– – – – – – – –
My problem with Idaho’s wolf population reduction effort, as I have stated before, is the phenomenon statisticians called “regression toward the mean”. This is a common sense notion that suggests when variables are measured at their extremes, subsequent measurements will tend to regress toward the mean (or average). In the case of wolves in the Lolo, their reintroduction happened to correspond with a near all-time high in elk populations; thus, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy that elk populations would be reduced (or regress toward the mean). Now I worry we will see the opposite: that is, elimination (or near elimination) of wolves when elk or near an all-time low in the zone. And again, a corresponding increase. The net result: IDF&G inadvertently teaches every hunter that (a) wolves = less elk, and (b) wolf reduction = more elk; a lesson that greatly oversimplifies the ecological relationship between these species.
July 8, 2010 at 6:16 PM
++I have stated before, is the phenomenon statisticians called “regression toward the mean”. This is a common sense notion that suggests when variables are measured at their extremes, subsequent measurements will tend to regress toward the mean (or average). ++
I wished that some of the real estate agents, mortgage brokers, builders and appraisers would have understood that concept 10 – 12 years ago. What a mess they have created in Bozeman and other desirable western communities and cities through out the US and the world. This does not have anything to do with wildlife but it is so true in economics.
July 8, 2010 at 6:19 PM
You wrote “My problem with Idaho’s wolf population reduction effort, as I have stated before, is the phenomenon statisticians called “regression toward the mean”. This is a common sense notion that suggests when variables are measured at their extremes, subsequent measurements will tend to regress toward the mean (or average). In the case of wolves in the Lolo, their reintroduction happened to correspond with a near all-time high in elk populations; thus, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy that elk populations would be reduced (or regress toward the mean). Now I worry we will see the opposite: that is, elimination (or near elimination) of wolves when elk or near an all-time low in the zone. And again, a corresponding increase. The net result: IDF&G inadvertently teaches every hunter that (a) wolves = less elk, and (b) wolf reduction = more elk; a lesson that greatly oversimplifies the ecological relationship between these species.”
While regression toward the mean is an important thing to understand, in this case of the wolves in the Lolo, they returned well after there had been a long-predicted and dramatic collapse of a huge elk population.
About the time the wolves were first returning, a bad winter knocked the elk population down even further. Ralph
July 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM
You and I know that, but most will look and see that elk populations started dropping precipitously right about the time wolves were reintroduced. The dogmatic won’t care that wolves probably didn’t reach a point where they could have any discernible effect on elk until almost a decade later.
July 8, 2010 at 7:44 PM
++Also, just to clarify. Wolves may move around a lot, but they are extremely territorial. Packs whose territories occur entirely within a management unit are very unlikely to stray to another unit.++
Territorial yes, but seeking food is the big driver. If that is the case, then it would be doubtful that wolves would move out of YNP in search of prey. And, we must always be mindful of formation of new packs seeking new territory. So, I will add that clarifier to your clarifier. lol.
We also need to remember that the Lolo unit in ID buts up against MT and there is no doubt migration in and out of the respective states as packs expand in seach of territories of their own. I gather ID and MT share the data on this for those wolves that have collars.
I share your concern about the Lolo and its once abundant elk, now fewer and maybe wolves moving on. I have stated this before.
I don’t think ID would lie about the numbers of wolves they count, or over-estimate the total. The distribution is more speculative, and there are bound to be under and over estimates. There are too many people watching from all quarters on the total, and if they got caught up in a lie like that it would feed the fire for relisting. Not a snowball’s chance in Hades on that one. And also recall Dr. Mech is an FWS scientist and has motive for his beliefs. I think he is trying to tell it as he sees it in, forty plus years of research and experience.
July 8, 2010 at 8:42 PM
I ask you to read the 2009 Idaho report wolf population estimates — the details for the Lolo. Compare it in terms of certainly of estimate to other units, for example, the details of the Sawtooth wolf management zone.
All have uncertainty and use indirect measurement (many l wolves were not actually seen, but inferred). However, I think the Lolo Zone has quite a bit more uncertainty.
July 8, 2010 at 8:56 PM
I have read the annual report, carefully, in fact. Just wish my retention was better. In fact you and I discussed this very issue, and my theory that the adjacent units were getting some of the wolf population thought to be moving out of the Lolo (my theory anyway), including wolves maybe heading to MT.
I wish I could find that thread, because I went page by page in the sections and charts for the Lolo, Sawtooth, Dworshak- Elk City and a couple more units, including totals and suspected pups, etc. I recall you even agreed with me to some degree. I don’t quite remember when the report was released, and my comments would have been when we first discussed it here. Sorry, I don’t know how to search for it. I would republish the comment here, because I spent a fair amount of time researching it.
July 9, 2010 at 6:41 AM
“I don’t think ID would lie about the numbers of wolves they count, or over-estimate the total.”
Just to clarify I never intended (and hope I did not) suggest that ID has lied about the number of wolves present in various zones. What I took exception with is the speculation that a larger number of wolves would go uncounted as the population increases. The accuracy of counts should primarily be a function of the effort involved in counting, and it seems to me that IDF&G is increasing the effort involved in counting wolves (again, as has been discussed). Moreover, the recent (2009) counts indicate the population has remained essentially flat in Idaho, so there is little reason to suspect that population estimates are increasingly underestimating wolf populations.
– – – – – – – – –
“Territorial yes, but seeking food is the big driver. If that is the case, then it would be doubtful that wolves would move out of YNP in search of prey. And, we must always be mindful of formation of new packs seeking new territory. So, I will add that clarifier to your clarifier.”
If they are being driven out by lack of food, this would suggest that there are fewer wolves, would it not? Moreover, where ungulate abundance is low relative to wolf populations, we expect to see an increase of intraspecific strife (i.e. wolves killing wolves); more generally, it should be harder for wolves to live in these areas, thus increasing mortality. Is there evidence of increased “natural” mortality in the Lolo? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll buy your hypothesis that wolves are attempting to move (i.e. expand territories, disperse). But this is a tricky endeavor and previous studies suggest that these animals are much more likely to end up dead.
The big picture: Despite extended seasons and now special permits, hunters can’t seem to find many wolves in the Lolo. Whether this is due to human hunting, “natural” mortality, or dispersal, Ockham’s razor suggests the best explanation is that there are not very many wolves in the Lolo.
July 9, 2010 at 7:48 AM
++If they are being driven out by lack of food, this would suggest that there are fewer wolves, would it not? Moreover, where ungulate abundance is low relative to wolf populations, we expect to see an increase of intraspecific strife (i.e. wolves killing wolves);++
I am not qualified to say what the result is when there is a tradeoff between maintaining a territory at risk of higher wolf-on-wolf mortality, or just moving on. Genetic programming for survival would suggest the latter, although we know wolves killing each other is a noteable mortality source. The natural inclination would be to go where the food is more plentiful and easier to get, where life is more conflict-free.
With respect to the Lolo, and a claim of once higher elk populations, reduced by wolves along with other factors, if I were a wolf I would move my pack on to new areas where things are easier. That means that the adjacent areas will be next to see higher wolf density (but possible conflicts with packs already there), followed by reduced prey populations and changed behaviors. That would certainly suggest lower wolf population in the Lolo, much as was seen in Yellowstone. I wonder if ID, MT, WY do comparison of individual pack territories over time, with their collared wolves, say overlaying one season over another and seeing how things change?
Sure wish Mark Gamblin or a wolf behavioral ecologist would offer some comment on this topic and set us straight.
It would also be interesting to know from a knowledgeable expert how tough it is to find/hunt for wolves during very late spring and summer, as compared to fall (or even winter). What are the reasons that the 20 wolf quota was not achieved (access, weather, no vocalization or other sign)? Were these appointed outfitters seriously out there for the appointed time and on task? Did they have an option for trapping or even baiting (sorry there may be obvious to this question, but I don’t know)?
July 9, 2010 at 11:24 AM
I’m suggesting that the “latter” (dispersal) is, in itself, a risky proposition for wolves. I don’t have the time for a thorough literature review, but did find one article that characterized the risks associated with such movements in the Brooks range, Alaska:
“Natural mortality, primarily intraspecific strife, equaled 11% per year. Young wolves emigrated from the study area at high annual rates (47% and 27% for yearlings and 2-yr-olds, respectively), and we estimated the emigration rate for the population at 19% annually. Yearlings and 2-year-olds were lost from the population at rates of 60% per year and 45% per year, respectively, primarily as a result of emigration…” (Adams, et al., 2008, Wildlife Monographs, 170:1–25).
I don’t know how much mortality increases with dispersal in the N. Rockies (or the Lolo, explicity), but I think it oversimplifies matters to suggest that wolves can simply move out of the Lolo into adjacent areas. Those areas are largely occupied, so movement would either displace existing packs, or lead to increased mortality among dispersers and/or residents.
July 9, 2010 at 1:28 PM
++Those areas are largely occupied, so movement would either displace existing packs, or lead to increased mortality among dispersers and/or residents.++
Doesn’t this comment take us further into the slippery slope argument about equilibriums and wolf densities? For some reason, I seem to recall you being in the camp that pointed to the possibility of substantially higher densities, and referencing MN as an example (my apologies if I am wrong on that, however).
Apparently we have little knowledge to fall back on for what level of density is possible/practical in a given area in the NRM (Lolo or adjacent areas specifically), with so many factors at play, including hunter/habitat/competing predator impacts on prey, net loss to wolf populations (in specific areas which cannot be easily defined by GMU zones) from harvests, problem wolf control and natural causes.
When I look at the maps in the ID annual wolf reports and see signficant overlaps in pack ranges which don’t neatly fit GMU boundaries I have to wonder about how much conflict there really is (if they are in the same areas at different times, maybe little). If the telemetry, visual observation of wolves and sign, and whatever else goes into defining those ranges are correct there are lots of and lots of overlapping pack boundaries – Selway, Lolo, Dworshak – Elk City, and VERY significantly the western part of Sawtooth. I even know of two places I have seen wolves that don’t show on the pack maps!
I offer up the theory of wolves moving on in search of prey, for the sake of discussion, saying it is plausible that densities will not be hampered significantly by wolf-on-wolf mortality, at current levels. I certainly could be wrong, and that is why it would be nice of somebody who really knows about this stuff would provide informed thoughts.
As for the literature you found for the Brooks Range: it would be my understanding that wolves would be at or near saturation density, the area has few hunters competing for prey, a different prey base, and little in the way of a harvest or control of problem wolves. To me that particularly weighs heavily on limitations of transferrabilty of data and the teachings or unanswered questions. We have discussed that issue before, too.
July 9, 2010 at 4:16 PM
I guess I’m having trouble following your logic. Here’s mine, best as I can lay it out:
(1) Hunters and IDF&G say that there are very low elk densities in the Lolo (I have no reason to doubt them).
(2) However, they also claim wolf densities are relatively high. I do have reason to doubt this assertion, which I think we’ve pretty much covered (i.e. wolf population densities should be a function of prey base; or more simply, if there ain’t anything to eat, there aren’t likely to be many wolves).
(3) Some have suggested that perhaps there were more wolves and they have simply moved on. All of the existing literature that I am aware of suggests dispersal is a dangerous business. It requires wolves to do lots of things that get them killed, such as (a) cross roads, (b) move into other pack territories, (c) move out of areas where they have knowledge of the location of food sources. I’m not suggesting that all of these wolves will die, nor that densities in adjacent areas are not capable of increasing (assuming adequate prey base). I’m simply saying it is folly to think that wolves can simply walk somewhere else and set up shop when food sources are scarce or depleted.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that there is any kind of “equilibrium” that occurs between wolves and elk; rather, I’m suggesting that if there isn’t much food for wolves living in an area, mortality for those animals will rise.
– – –
Regarding wolf densities: Yes, I think there are areas of the northern Rockies mountains that are capable of supporting higher wolf densities, but that doesn’t mean that wolves from the Lolo can simply walk there and set up shop without substantial casualties (given the spatial requirements for wolf packs, and existing locations of documented packs: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/delist_02202008/fig1_recovery_areas.pdf).
I hope that clarifies things.
July 12, 2010 at 3:04 PM
I found my source for suggesting that wolves will have a hard go of changing territories. Mech et al. (1998) found that from 39 to 65% of all wolf mortalities in Denali NP were wolf-caused. Mech (1994) and Mech et al. (1998) also found that the majority of all wolves killed within their territory boundaries in Minnesota and Denali were killed within the outer 29% of their territories. They suggested that territorial aggression in the form of intraspecific strife was common and “widespread” especially “in the absence of extensive human interference”.
Mech et al. (1998). The wolves of Denali. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Mech (1994). Buffer zones of territories of gray wolves as regions of intraspecific strife. J. Mammal. 75:199-202.
July 12, 2010 at 3:48 PM
Thanks for the sources. Again, I am wondering about transferrability. Both the Denali and presumably the MN study forums would suggest wolves at some kind of carrying capacity while maybe not so much in the NRM areas we have been talking about (I really don’t know, just saying there might be differences). One might think there are NRM studies of this type in the works.
++ Mech et al. (1998) found that from 39 to 65% of all wolf mortalities in Denali NP were wolf-caused.++
Without reading the study it seems hard to tell if that is a meaningful statistic, or not. If you don’t have wolf harvest hunters, problem wolf lethality or parvo/mange, as in the NRM, what mortality sources do you have in Denali? Natural mortality and wolf on wolf. Would it be surprising that 1/3 to 2/3 of mortality is wolf on wolf? Guess I will have to read more, if I have access to the right papers.
Again, I sure wish somebody who actually knows about this stuff would weigh in with a few words.
July 12, 2010 at 6:30 PM
“Thanks for the sources. Again, I am wondering about transferrability.”
That argument is brought up every time we talk about wolves–Alaska is not Minnesota, Minnesota is not Idaho, Idaho is not Montana, the Lolo is not the Sawtooth, ad nauseum. One thing is for sure, the wolf research production machine ought to stay very busy trying to determine if the factors that affect wolves in one country/state/region/county/valley affect them in the next one over!
I’m not discounting that the two areas could differ, but all these efforts would seem for naught if every time it rains we have to conduct a new study to see if the relationships between model variables changed.
July 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM
I won’t argue with you.
I do want to stress the point that elk in the Lolo is more than factual issue. It has become an unquestioned belief in parts of Idaho that wolves are the cause of the huge elk decline over the years and failure of the herd to recovered. This results in political pressure that Idaho Fish and Game cannot withstand.
July 8, 2010 at 12:24 PM
So true, reality based on perception and self interest.. need something to explain elk decline. We don’t like wolves, so it must be wolves. We aren’t finding what we think are there, so let’s just keep the estimate high, say they are just too wily for us, and keep the hunt quota high as well because we don’t like wolves. And oh yeah, the livestock and outfitters will yell at us…
Why has the LOLO become such a Holy Grail for hunters and anti wolf interests, especially when there are other facts well documented that point to environmental factors as the key elements in the sudden decline of elk numbers.
July 8, 2010 at 3:20 PM
WM – go out and try and find a wolf. Numbers are way down. Four N Idaho outfitters couldn’t find any, except for the miserable SOB from the Flying B Ranch that said they killed two, and “drew blood” on two more. IDFG is so desperate to find wolves they put out a special press release over 4th of July holiday asking the public to report any wolf sightings. (If you like wolves – never tell IDFG when you see a wolf). The gut shooters and poison from the sky people have been a lot more active than IDFG will believe.
July 9, 2010 at 9:16 AM
Really, the wolf haters would have you believe that they see wolves in their backyard and stalking children at bus stops.
July 9, 2010 at 9:49 AM
I am not a wolf hater, but I have seen wolves in my yard! Both in Montana as well in Idaho..
July 10, 2010 at 9:58 AM
I agree that wolves in the Lolo, if they were present, have moved to other areas.
I suspect you right. I think there is a lot of illegal killing and quasi-legal killing by Wildlife Services.
I hear of sightings of their gunship out in recent days all over the Salmon/Leadore area gunning down wolves.
July 8, 2010 at 6:18 PM
There are some suspicous details in the IDFG 2009 report. For example, in the Lolo zone the majority of “documented packs” are shown as “?” for minimum number of wolves. The result is only 15 documented adults. In one case they have two packs shown with territories that overlay each other almost entirely. Really?
July 8, 2010 at 6:22 PM
That is precisely why I am skeptical of Idaho Fish and Game’s wolf count there.
July 9, 2010 at 11:33 AM
Ralph & Davej,
Below is my post from March 29, on the March 16-30 Have you seen any wildlife news thread (Third one, I think). History is important here, and the 2008 annual report has a very interesting story.
++Ralph & Jeff E,
I also saw the 2009 [ annual report] results for the Lolo and thought the numbers were low. In my opinion the more important data is in the 2008 annual report which shows 70 wolves as the MINIMUM total with an additional 29 pups, and a total of 13 or so documented/suspected/MT border packs. This did not include those packs/suspected packs whose range overlaps into the Lolo, but which have their nucleus in an adjacent management zone and whose totals are counted in those zones (there are maybe 4 of those).
You may be right, if what the IFGF asserts is true, the wolves thought to been in the Lolo have eaten whatever elk are easy to get there and moved on, possibly into the Dworshak-Elk City to the west (which had its harvest quota filled very quickly), Selway to the south, Panhandle to the north or into MT to the east.
If I understand correctly the ID harvest quotas for the management zones for the 2009 season, would have been based on the 2008 wolf estimates and distributions. Would that not be correct, since the 2009 estimates would have been done in December 2009 for what is called the 2009 annual report we are now reviewing?
As I have mentioned before, it is like having to play catch up all the time. In this instance, as you point out, the Lolo quota may have been too large and adjacent units too low – the Dworshak-Elk City may have alot of those former Lolo residents, and now impacting the elk populations there.++
My comment was as I recalled it, and so stated earlier in this thread. The more important current issue, as you have identified is why all the emphasis on the Lolo today. My thoughts are the adjacent units would be the target of additional harvests/removals – unless this is all political for some outfitters in the Lolo.
July 9, 2010 at 9:01 AM
Inconsistency in wolf management is easier to spot than wolves in Yellowstone. With respect to the possibility of only 1 or 2 wolves present in Colorado, Ed Bangs keeps saying it is very unlikely because wolves are easy to spot, they make themselves known, etc. But in the Lolo, where there are supposedly dozens of wolves, knowbody can find them? Hmmm….
July 9, 2010 at 9:14 AM
If there is indeed low #s of elk or any at all in the lolo, you will most likely not see many wolves there. Common sense tells you that. Wolves go where the prey goes. I understand lolo was in trouble before wolves for reintroduced. You never hear many talk about this, it’s always about the wolves and how they have supposedly killed off all or most of the elk in the lolo which I believe to be a lie, but ofcourse, the wolf is used as a scapegoat once again.
July 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM
I you ever been in the Lolo National Forest?
July 10, 2010 at 2:16 PM
wm, dow a radical organization? maybe, maybe not. Not anymore radical than the sportsmen organizations who want to kill off most predators, so that they can have an abundance of elk and deer to kill.
July 9, 2010 at 6:38 PM
” it’s always about the wolves and how they have supposedly killed off all or most of the elk in the lolo which I believe to be a lie, but ofcourse, the wolf is used as a scapegoat once again.”
And, of course, you’re saying this based on your vast experience??
Face the facts, the ONLY thing that you have to base any theories about Idaho F&G lying is your fanatical belief that all hunters are wrong, and, conversely, the wolf can do no wrong.
By the way, have you seen one yet?? Have you even been where one might be found yet??
July 9, 2010 at 10:21 PM
The elk herd, 27,000 strong in the early 1980s, has collapsed to 5,000 animals. But habitat loss, not wolves, is to blame, says Suzanne Asha Stone of Defenders of Wildlife: Decades of wildfire suppression have allowed dense forest to reclaim many of the open meadows the elk need for forage and calving grounds.
State biologists agree that habitat is the key concern. But Jim Unsworth, the department’s wildlife chief, says the Forest Service can’t restore it fast enough. “When you have great habitat,” he says, “predators aren’t an issue.”
July 9, 2010 at 10:45 PM
++But habitat loss, not wolves, is to blame, says Suzanne Asha Stone of Defenders of Wildlife++
…and I have some beachfront property in Kansas that I will sell you real cheap.
July 10, 2010 at 12:08 AM
Suzanne Asha Stone?
So what, she is not a person that really has any understanding of what is going on, she is simply an activist with no formal training on the ground…..she has won feel good awards and has very little understanding of the real world!
July 10, 2010 at 12:10 AM
Wildlife suppression is not the rule of the world any longer!
You are really starting to look very gullible…
July 10, 2010 at 12:11 AM
Opps, that should have read wildfire….damn..
July 10, 2010 at 4:58 AM
“Suzanne Asha Stone? …she is not a person that really has any understanding of what is going on, she is simply an activist with no formal training on the ground…..she has won feel good awards and has very little understanding of the real world!”
From Defenders’ website:
“Suzanne Asha Stone has worked in wolf restoration in the northern Rockies since 1988, including serving as a member of the 1995/1996 USA/Canadian wolf reintroduction team. She currently oversees Defender’s programs for wolf conservation and restoration in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Suzanne administers Defenders’ wolf compensation and proactive conservation programs in the northern Rockies…works directly with ranchers and farmers to provide compensation for wolf-related livestock losses and helping livestock owners devise and implement strategies to reduce wolf depredation conflicts…is the lead author of Defenders’ recent publication Livestock and Wolves: A Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflict, and she authored a chapter titled Building Tolerance for Wolf Restoration in the Rockies: Compensation and Nonlethal Deterrent Programs in University of Calgary’s new publication: The World of Wolves: New Perspectives on Ecology, Behaviour and Policy. Suzanne also developed Defenders’ Livestock Producers Advisory Council. She currently serves on the Western Wolf Coalition steering committee to help promote wolf conservation within the region.
Before coming to Defenders, Suzanne started as her career as the public outreach intern for the Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Steering Committee, the assistant director of the Wolf Education and Research Center and then director of Idaho’s Wolf Recovery Foundation…”
Save Bears: You must have pretty high standards for what constitutes “formal training on the ground”! I’m also not quite sure what “understanding” of the “real world” refers to in this context? If 20+ years on wolf restoration in the northern Rockies, direct experience working with livestock producers, and experience administering a wolf research center are not enough experience, what is?
July 10, 2010 at 6:45 AM
Absolutely, habitat loss the the explanation for the great drop in the elk population in the Lolo, especially in Lolo unit 10.
The decline was predicted in the 1970s. My first trip down Highway 12 in 1976 found Fish and Game doing spring burns to retard the maturation of the forest.
The majority of the elk decline came before the 1995 wolf restoration in Idaho, and there were not a significant number of wolves in the Lolo until the late 1990s.
Please review this elk harvest graph again.
July 10, 2010 at 6:48 AM
I have very high standards, especially with people who talk with forked tongue…which is my opinion of her after some of my dealings with her, when I was with FWP.
July 10, 2010 at 6:52 AM
I know her and have for a long time.
I don’t know about her personal relations with Montana FWP, but she has been working to restore wolves from the start and her knowledge is great.
July 10, 2010 at 7:13 AM
You may not like Suzanne but I’m willing to bet $5 that she has more education and on the ground experience than any two of the “highly esteemed” (I say this sarcastically) “dudes” at IDF&G combined. Style is one thing, knowledge and actual experience trump that. Suzanne was not only on the boards, etc., that were mentioned in earlier responses, she was there when the reintroduced wolves were captured, examined, monitored, transported and placed in YNP and central Idaho ~ as a member of the research teams. Not to mention her studies prior to that time. If that doesn’t count for anything, in your opinion, then I wonder at what level you set your standards ~ can’t be very high or viable given your lack of knowledge about someone who has been in the front row since the very early days of wolf reintroduction. Where were you then?
I’ve known Suzanne for a long time and I have to say that, though I don’t always agree with her, I would never deny her knowledge and experience.
Self appointed superiority doesn’t compliment anyone…
July 10, 2010 at 8:15 AM
it is not surprising that the anti wolf side tries to discredit someone like Suzanna Stone as someone who has no idea what she is talking about.
But are the wolves really to blame?
Rachael says it’s more complicated than that. He says elk flourished in this part of Idaho after the Great Fire of 1910. The flames burned huge forests and created open fields full of vegetation for the animals to graze. But in the 100 years since, he says the trees have grown back and the habitat for elk has gotten worse.
Rachael: “What really sent us in the tailspin was the winter of 1996 and 1997, when we had heavy snows very early and the winter just lasted and lasted and lasted.”
He says as many as half of the elk in that area starved that winter. Since then, he says Idaho Fish and Game has tried different remedies to rebuild the population: no hunting female elk, improving habitat. It allowed the killing of black bears, one of the elk’s main predators. The elk population still declined.
I am sorry, but the fact of the matter is, when there are low elk #s, people cry predator. Not even thinking about any other possibilities.
July 10, 2010 at 8:23 AM
I would not be surprised at all if Suzanna Stone actually knows more wolves than wolf biologists that work for Montana.
July 10, 2010 at 8:26 AM
Ralph nailed it.
The majority of the elk decline came before the 1995 wolf restoration in Idaho, and there were not a significant number of wolves in the Lolo until the late 1990s.
Please review this elk harvest graph again.
So why is it we still got people crying wolf?
July 10, 2010 at 9:03 AM
Maybe I’m missing something here — usually you are one that does a really good job of research on the Internet, on this one I think maybe you missed the point.
SB said (to Jon)
“So what, she is not a person that really has any understanding of what is going on, she is simply an activist with no formal training on the ground…..she has won feel good awards and has very little understanding of the real world”
Then you come back with a long list of her accomplishments — that mostly seem to be related to her work with DOW — NOT anything to do with “formal training”.
This part of what you said seems telling to me ,
“Before coming to Defenders, Suzanne started as her career as the public outreach intern for the Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Steering Committee”
Isn’t that a PR job?? What formal education does she really have?? Not trying to “knock” her here, but I’d really like to know if she has any “formal education” credentials.
Or is she simply an “activist” that has managed to get some articles published??
July 10, 2010 at 9:23 AM
I am pro-wolf but I believe wolves have had an impact on elk herds. I’m sure that in some areas, wolves have boomed and have collapse the elk population, but I believe these explosions and collapses are transitory and are nothing to worry about. They were to be expected after reintroduction. The populations will stabilize after several years.
If the decline in elk numbers in the Lolo are due to wildfire suppression, then why does the harvest graph not show a decline early in the century when large scale fire suppression began? Clear cutting has not ended in the Lolo. It is supposed to be good for elk habitat too similar to wild fires. I’ve heard this said literally hundreds of times.
What I’ve heard the F&G say (mostly from this blog) is that the elk numbers are way down for a few reasons but the problem is that wolves are not allowing them to recover. Why would I not believe the Idaho F&G.? What is their motive for “blaming” wolves?
July 10, 2010 at 9:36 AM
++ Suzanna Stone …….. lead author of Defenders’ recent publication Livestock and Wolves: A Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflict++
Here is the topic sentence for the brochure:
“As a livestock producer or resource manager operating
in areas where wolves live, you have no doubt wondered
how you can keep your animals safe in an economically viable way.”
That document, while groundbreaking and in a nice glossy format with cute pictures, has no discussion whatsoever of the economics/costs to deploy these methods (capital or operations/maintenance costs). That is the real kicker in trying to get a rancher to consider a change in operations.
There is little real adaptation for the livestock management techniques in Europe vs. the arid range of the West. Nor is there discussion of whether the methods will work over the long term, or a financial risk analysis of deploying and still having livestock killed, injured, or guard dogs and numbers necessary proportional to the stock which is run.
If that were a grad student project (based on my own experiences in grad school) I would not award it a particularly good grade because of those HUGE deficiencies. In fact, I would probably award it a “C-” or on a bad day a “D.”
See for yourself if my critique is inaccurate:
Click to access livestock_and_wolves.pdf
July 10, 2010 at 9:48 AM
“Suzanne holds a Masters degree in Wildlife Conservation and Conflict Management from Prescott College in Arizona”
Not that someone with Layton’s “intellect” would know what that all entails…
She was in college in the years before and during the wolf reintroduction and working on the biological and political issues of the day. (I am guessing that it was long before you ever held a rifle to you cheek.) She was invited to work DoW after the reintroduction because of her work with the reintroduction and her interest in conflict resolution, then she went to grad-school. But for some critics, anything less than proving they are some deity is barely enough to achieve credibility. She may not know everything there is to know but I am certain she knows more than you ever will, Layton. Not that it matters to you as long as you can cast a shadow on the topic or someone’s experience relative to a topic…
July 10, 2010 at 10:20 AM
That is the problem. Some of these grad schools award fluff degrees that focus on environmental policy, public outreach, conservation education, and the like. Then people in their career paths get taken away from their core competencies for various reasons, and become “experts” in a field for which they were not trained. My beef has been that lack of critical thinking skills in many of these programs. Make no mistake, smart people can come through these programs without the formal training, and do just fine making great and insightful contributions outside their field. However, I think it is the exception rather than the norm.
July 10, 2010 at 10:42 AM
And, while I am attacking Defenders, if Stone is so damn smart why did they turn over their compensation program money to the MT Livestock Board, apparently without limitations on how it is spent. Seems they missed an opportunity to specifically direct some of their bequest to doing demonstration programs for the non-lethal methods advocated in their smartass brochure. Yeah, as the national wolf reintroduction coordinator, she’s a star.
July 10, 2010 at 10:51 AM
I was right there in the park when the wolves were released, remember I also hold a Masters Degree in Wildlife biology as well, and my area of work with FWP was interaction between wolves and prey species, specifically what the threat level was of brucellosis transmission between wolves and bison as well as livestock…
July 10, 2010 at 11:01 AM
As I have stated, I am not anti wolf, but I will also add, there are quite few on the pro wolf side, that I have little respect for..because I don’t feel they are completely honest with the issues that surrounding wolves. I also have little respect for many on the anti side, that are honest about the issues surrounding wolves.
Just because someone does not bow down and salute, does not make them anti wolf…
There are a lot of people in the agencies as well as the various organizations that I pretty much feel the same way that Bob feels about the park employees…
July 10, 2010 at 11:06 AM
I think Defenders tried hard to get Montana FWP to do proactive work when they gave them their exit grant, ending the Defenders-run compensation program.
Those who sit in on the Idaho and Montana compensation meetings (I must be general here) say it is pretty much just a gravy train for the livestock industry. Despite all the complaining livestock owners do, there are several pots of money for their losses (real, and in my opinion, made up).
July 10, 2010 at 11:06 AM
Okay, back to reality. The quote that set off the personal attacks was:
“The elk herd, 27,000 strong in the early 1980s, has collapsed to 5,000 animals. But habitat loss, not wolves, is to blame, says Suzanne Asha Stone of Defenders of Wildlife…”
(1) Anyone care to attack the claim, rather than her character?
(2) And again, I’ll ask. Precisely what does “formal on the ground” training entail?
– – – –
I don’t have a problem with people questioning her claims or her objectiveness, but you people are essentially calling her uneducated and inexperienced when it is easy to demonstrate that these claims are untrue. Good grief!
July 10, 2010 at 11:13 AM
I question her methodology and her work ethics based on my experience when I was with FWP, despite her resume’ But just to be fair, there are a lot of biologists and people with degrees in wildlife conservation that I also question…and there are not many with Defenders that I like or get along with, I don’t like biology or conservation when it takes on so much political overtones, which is why I am no longer with FWP
July 10, 2010 at 11:15 AM
And really when it comes down to it, it does not matter one bit if I like or dislike these people, that is my prerogative, there are quite a few government employees that work on this issue that I don’t like either..
July 10, 2010 at 11:16 AM
I posted this a few comments up, but I willl post it again.
Rachael: “What really sent us in the tailspin was the winter of 1996 and 1997, when we had heavy snows very early and the winter just lasted and lasted and lasted.”
He says as many as half of the elk in that area starved that winter. Since then, he says Idaho Fish and Game has tried different remedies to rebuild the population: no hunting female elk, improving habitat. It allowed the killing of black bears, one of the elk’s main predators. The elk population still declined.
Doe anyone want to call Jon Rachael inexperienced or uneducated?
July 10, 2010 at 11:18 AM
We can posts quotes from both sides all day long, it is not going to change anyone’s mind..
July 10, 2010 at 11:22 AM
And for those who still question her credentials, Suzanne has attended (and organized, if I’m not mistaken) every North American Wolf conference that I have attended (2003-2008). Ralph may have been to more. For those not familiar with the conference, it was started in 1988 as an inter-agency effort to exchange information about wolf conservation and management in the N. Rockies. Speakers have included…well, essentially everyone who has been involved in gray wolf management in the U.S. (and some from abroad).
I would be willing to put Suzanne’s knowledge of wolf ecology and behavior up against any Masters student in ecology or wildlife management and more than a few PhD students.
July 10, 2010 at 11:23 AM
The wolf haters will discredit any biologist they don’t agree with. That is why they only believe wolf haters like Valeriius Guist and Jim Beers have any credibility and are wolf experts in their opinion. Likewise, the wolf supporters will discredit any biologist that says something negative about wolves. It is really all about agendas and feelings and when it comes to the wolf issue, both sides for the most part support their own agenda and both sides will try to take credibility away from the opposing side.
July 10, 2010 at 11:28 AM
JB, those same people who question her credentials are probably the type to call someone like Jim Beers a wolf expert. The anti wolf side believe it or not do see Jim Beers as a wolf expert. Where are his his credentials when it comes to being a wolf expert? Jim Beers was Program Coordinator for the Animal Damage Control Program.
July 10, 2010 at 11:30 AM
Yes and I bet that Suzanne Stone knows more about wolves than the phony wolf experts (Jim Beers and Mr. Guist).
July 10, 2010 at 11:32 AM
I can tell you, you sure as hell won’t see me call Beers an expert, he is probably one of the few in this whole mess that my dislike actually bounds on hate for him…
July 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM
““Suzanne holds a Masters degree in Wildlife Conservation and Conflict Management from Prescott College in Arizona”
Not that someone with Layton’s “intellect” would know what that all entails…”
As normal, you confuse YOUR feelings with facts.
Let’s start here, if you want to have an IQ contest I’m more than willing. From your personal attacks here I’m willing to bet that you are compensating …….. I’ll just leave it at that.
As far as Ms. Stone having a Masters — fine, all I did was ask — I won’t question what you say, I just wanted to know. I guess you are exercising your powers of extra sensory perception here. In the post that I was referencing there was nothing mentioned about ANY formal education.
If you can point out where it was and I failed to notice it, I will stand corrected, otherwise you are just choosing to jump on my case.
Why the hell do you get your knickers in a knot every time I ask something or comment??
As for your comment about how young I was when she was going to school, weeeeeellll I’d sure like to have a BUNCH of money bet on that.
July 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM
There are individuals who feel that wolves and other predators should play a maximum role in the ecology of the Northern Rockies which would create a natural balance of predator and prey with hunting being used minimally. Any predator caused livestock deprivation is the sole responsibility of the producer and any livestock losses are the cost of doing business.
There is the other extreme, those who wants all predators removed and wilderness and de facto wilderness open to the maximum commercial potential.
If the extremes on both sides do not understand each other, then all is going to be lost
July 10, 2010 at 1:49 PM
++Yes and I bet that Suzanne Stone knows more about wolves than the phony wolf experts (Jim Beers and Mr. Guist).++
Here you go again. Dr. Valarius Geist, PhD, college professor/field researcher, and professor emeritus at the Univ. of Calgary is one of the foremost wildlife scientists on the North American continent, with specialization in ungulates (including their predators). Gotta remember, jon, they have had wolves in Canada where Geist has been around them and studied ungulates in their presence for one heck of alot longer than we have had them in the NRM (in Dr. Geist’s instance, say fifty years as compared to fifteen). And, it is interesting that as a behavioral ecologist, Dr. Geist studies and reports objectively. On the other hand, isn’t Stone, a self-proclaimed wolf advocate, working for what some would call a radical advocacy organization? No observational bias, in that, is there?
Yeah, jon one can trust your assessments, and judgements.
July 10, 2010 at 2:12 PM
Reports objectively? It is no secret that Guist is an avid hunter and he is clearly anti-wolf. Talk about bias huh? This guy recommended killing the whole wolf population in order to get rid of the dangerous parasite they carry. A parasite that has not effected or killed one person yet that we know of. That about right wm???
July 10, 2010 at 2:24 PM
++It is no secret that Guist is an avid hunter ++
Does being an avid hunter a disqualification for being a knowledgeable wildlife biologist?
July 10, 2010 at 2:31 PM
Nope, it doesn’t, but Guist does not like wolves. If Echinococcocus Granulosus is so dangerous to humans like Guist claims, why hasn’t there been any cases that have happened that we know of in Idaho and Montana? He’s making Echinococcocus Granulosus much more dangerous than it really is. If the anti wolf movement want to think he’s a wolf expert, more power to them.
July 10, 2010 at 2:49 PM
Liking or not liking a species, does not mean your knowledge level is bad..Guist is still a recognized expert as is Stone by some…
July 10, 2010 at 3:53 PM
I honestly don’t know whether Dr. Geist hunts, now or has in the past. Perhaps you should research that and let us know, if you feel it is important. It really should not affect his credibility in the minds of most. His work stands on its own.
I do know he has been active in RMEF. I also know he has, in the past, reported pretty objectively in his research. He is very well respected in his field by his peers and the public. It is the first group that really counts. He also rightfully and publicly called bullshit on the Kenton Carnagie investigation and the finding of acknowledged wolf advocate-scientist Paul (wolves could not have killed him -it was bears) Pacquet. All other investigators, along with Geist, concluded it was wolves.
As for his tapeworm/parasite views, I think his words are cautionary only, at least in the writings I have seen (I don’t happen to agree with him as to the risk, but who am I to say).
If you have something from Dr. Geist, in writing in which he says kill all wolves because of the parasite problem – not somebody else’s words or someone paraphrasing him, or a view from someone else in a panel discussion – HIS WORDS IN WRITING OR AUDIO and verified- then I will apologize to you. Otherwise, I will say your words are BS.
He has also advised, in a cautionary way, on changing wolf (and coyote) behavior as they become acclimated to humans. Carnagie and the young woman in AK- both killed by wolves. Similarly, there is the recent coyote incident involving the death of the young Canadian singer, and a couple other coyote attacks on small children in the last month, which all seem to be pretty good anecdotal examples of the behavioral changes of which Dr. Geist speaks.
and, jon, do pay attention here when you do your internet search ….. the correct spelling is GEIST.
July 10, 2010 at 4:34 PM
wilderness muse, people are going to believe whoever they want to believe. The anti wolf side, if they want to claim or believe that guys like Beers, Geist, Will Graves, are real wolf experts, that is their opinion. I will stick to proven wolf experts, Mech, Niemeyer, Mark mcnay, etc.
July 10, 2010 at 5:50 PM
Ah, come on jon. Don’t change the subject. If you are going to make statements (possibly untrue, I don’t know) like that about a respected scientist, at least back them up. I want to know if he actually said the things you attribute to him. If they are true, it might help us all determine whether to continue to believe what he has to say.
July 10, 2010 at 5:57 PM
wm, I just mentioned them because they are indeed real wolf experts. Read their credentials if you want. Read the roundtable discussion with Will Graves, Geist, and Bob Fanning. He said that the only way to solve this parasite problem would be to kill all of the wolves basically.
July 9, 2010 at 10:27 PM
“Sure wish Mark Gamblin or a wolf behavioral ecologist would offer some comment on this topic and set us straight”.
Gag me. Why are you kneeling before false prophets? Yes, maybe a wolf behavioral biologist but why lump this applied science individual with an administrator who has reason to be political (biased)? They have already shed their winter coats and are left only with polyester synthetics.
July 10, 2010 at 9:15 AM
Simple answer. Mark is the voice of IDFG (whether those here agree with him is up to them, including me). It is their report and their management program. Why not request a response? Others do it, regularly. And, as for the wolf behavioral ecologist, some knowledgeable input might help to answer questions that not a person speaking out on this forum seems to have the background..
Just for clarification “kneeling before false prophets” is a two part act. First, false prophets must be identified and acknowledged as such. I haven’t reached that conclusion yet. That leads me into the second part. I kneel to no one. I know you could consider that bothersome regarding your views on herd behavior, and my continuing inquiries in that regard. lol.
As much as I respect JB’s knowledge and input he may be commenting outside his pay grade (me too), so to speak, on wolf movements out of or into new territories under stress conditions. And if you read my posts carefully, I have been critical of the Lolo elk population conundrum, and also seek answers on how many wolves are there now subject to IDFG thinning efforts. I can say based on personal experience there are lots of wolves in adjacent areas – I have seen them and lots of sign from their presence, including abundant remains of elk calf carcasses that we didn’t see four years ago. I speculate some of those wolves (or their predecessors) once spent time in the Lolo, moving on to better food sources, and am waiting for someone with the proper background and experience to tell me I am wrong.
Again: What is the explanation for the difference in observed wolf numbers in the Lolo from 2008 and earlier (larger number), to 2009 (smaller number) as shown in the published ID annual report released in March 2010? If the lower new numbers are an accurate estimate of current population, why the extra effort to take out an additional 20 (achieving only 2 confirmed kills and 2 wound, but probably mortally), beyond the game harvest season?
July 10, 2010 at 5:04 PM
It is one thing to ask for an opinion or “their take on mattters” but you said you wished MSG would,” set us straight”. big difference.
July 10, 2010 at 5:41 PM
I wish the computer keyboard had a sarcasm button, or even italics would carry over to this post, so my tone would be acknowledged. You would not have been lead astray by my comment.
July 10, 2010 at 6:30 PM
I take it there is a spin on words with “lead” astray, correct? oh lets see…. could “lead” instead of “led” mean MSG bases his conclusions on hunters priorities? “lead” of course refering to bullets. Or does his “lead” copper plated assertions have a deeper meaning for “sugar coating” of stats? Sometimes I guess I will never know…or was all this reference to “lead” instead of “led” just a grammatical error and I went well off base with supposing deeper meanings?
Only by seeing the Cohen Brothers movie, “The Serious Man”…where the dentist expects to find deeper meaning to the letters on the inside of the patients teeth spelling out in Hebrew “help me” will we know for sure…like the Jewish dentist….the lead or led has no further and hidden meaning….and live goes back to normal. Hope you get a chance to see this cult movie, WM. Would like to know if you thought it was funny. Of course my brother, the one who thought Fargo was a bad murder mystery, didn’t laugh at Serious Man either.
July 10, 2010 at 8:28 AM
Another fallacy Rachael said he has heard over the course of the season is that wolves are solely responsible for the decline in the state’s elk population.
While the predators have surely had a hand in thinning herds, Rachael said, many people have ignored a number of other significant factors, including the state’s history of wildfire suppression. Fewer wildfires have resulted in denser forests, inhibiting the ability of elk and deer to find food.
This has led to a natural decline in these prey species, which saw peak populations while wolves were being reintroduced to the state.
“It was really unfortunate timing,” Rachael said.
July 10, 2010 at 3:07 PM
The Fish & Game’s own numbers that were released last year, the elk herds in unit 76 are down some 60% in a short three years. Given that there are no major wolf numbers in the area yet, what does that tell you? The Fish & Game screwed the pooch and issued way too many tags over that time period.
July 10, 2010 at 3:43 PM
Another important discussion on elk and wolves in the Lolo Zone. There are several important misconceptions I want to clarify to help everyone better understand this important part of the Idaho wolf management issue:
1) In numerous previous threads, I have explained the IDFG (Department) position on the role of declining elk habitat productivity and elk numbers in the Lolo Zone. None-the-less, this continues to be a source of mis-understanding or mis-characterization of the Department’s explanation of elk population status and the effects of predators, including wolves, in the Lolo Zone elk population crash. AGAIN, the Department has conducted research on the decline of elk habitat producivity and the role of that habitat production decline on elk production and elk numbers in the Lolo Zone, for decades. The Department predicted the decline in elk production as a natural consequence of declining habita productivity for years and has advised the public of that natural process.
2) The Department has also conducted research on the contributing effect of predation on elk population declines, in addition to declining habitat productivity. Following the severe winter of 1997 and winter elk mortality, the Department documented the role of bear and lion predation of neonate elk on low elk recruitment and elk population recovery within habitat limits. That research was conducted immediately prior to the re-establishment of wolves in the Lolo Zone. Our most recent research has now documented the role of wolf predation as the most important factor in preventing the Lolo Zone elk population from recovering to a level well within the productive capacity of current Lolo Zone elk habitat. This is the issue – wolf predation is holding elk production, elk recruitment and ultimately elk abundance well below the productive potential of Lolo Zone elk habitat. The history of the decline in Lolo Zone elk habitat productivity, due to the natural senescense of habitat since the great fires of 1910 and 1930’s is not news.
3) Ralph and JB asked legitimate questions about Department estimates of wolf numbers and the methodologies used to derive those estimates. I re-read the Department’s 2009 Wolf Conservation and Management progress report, as Ralph urged. I am unsure what Ralph’s skepticism is based on. As the report emphasizes on page 5, the reported wolf population estimates are conservative – i.e. minimum estimates. The estimages are based on verified wolf observations, including the number of known wolf packs and the reproductive status of those packs. For the Lolo Zone, during 2009, the Department confirmed the presence of 8 resident wolf packs, 1 resident border pack (bordering the Lolo Zone) and noted 1 suspected resident wolf pack. We also documented 4 border wolf packs, residing in Montana – adjacent to the Lolo Zone. Within the Lolo Zone the Department documented a minimum of 21 wolves and a minimum of 15 wolf pups produced in 2009. AGAIN, these are only confirmed numbers of adult wolves and pups born in 2009. The total number of wolves in the Lolo Zone is very likely higher than the reported estimates.
If my understanding of our monitoring methods and reported estimates are correct (I havn’t had an opportunity to review these criticisms with our research team), statistical principles aside (“regression towards the mean”), the reported wolf numbers are what they are – verified, conservative estimates of wolf numbers in the Lolo Zone and every other wolf management zone in the state. The effects of those wolves on elk production, elk recruitment and elk numbers in the Lolo Zone is measured by the on-going radio-telemetry research on cow and calf elk survival. These are direct estimates (as opposed to inferential estimates derived by regression analysis or other inferential statistical methods) and are independent of the accuracy of wolf population estimates.
The history of the Lolo Zone elk population is long, complex and very imporant to many Idaho residents and non-residents as the source of a nationally famous elk hunting area. Elk numbers have indeed been declining for years, but the recent return of wolves to this area added a new profounding important souce of mortality that is holding elk numbers well below the capability of current Lolo Zone elk habitat to sustain.
July 10, 2010 at 4:01 PM
What you are saying is that if the wolves were not there then the elk could recover to the current habitat’s carrying capacity faster. The excess elk then could be harvest by the hunting public. I believe that some wolves are needed and disired, but they should never reduce big herds or limit hunting opportunity, shorten seasons or cause restrictions such reducing either sex hunting opportunities.
July 10, 2010 at 5:42 PM
Elk, hunting elk is a choice, not a need. If a hunter can afford to buy guns and hunting equipment, I doubt he is starving to death and I doubt that he really needs an elk to survive. I can understand in savebear’s situation, but wolves and other predator rely on elk for their survival. They don’t have the luxury of going to a market or picking from different food choices, something we humans do. I am not bothered at all with a hunter wanting to get an elk, but as I said, wolves and other predators rely on elk for survival, you don’t. With that said, I don’t care if you want to go out and kill an elk. If you want to do that, be my guest.
July 11, 2010 at 9:54 AM
Yes, good summary. Given the certainty that wolf predation has reduced elk production below habitat potential and to levels that have required the elimination of cow hunting opportunity and substantial reductions in bull hunting opportunity -the philosphical public resource management issues (and personal mangement preferences) expressed by jon and Bob below, represent some of the relevant issues for management of the Lolo Zone elk and wolf public resources.
July 10, 2010 at 5:42 PM
MSG ‘s Idaho biologists look no further than what would happen to any dysfunctional population of herd animals. It is all is symptom “applied” science management and those in Idaho Fish and Game figuring cause and affect would come to the same conclusions if they studied predation by wolves in a confinement pig building.
At least a pig farmer would recognize those pigs would fend better if boars with tusks were put on the premises. Not so tunnel vision herd biologists. They set seasons to kill off all the males and leave a elk refuge camp full of females and offspring. Call it the Lolo zone or Idaho pig farm….. this is what biologists have created with their hunting seasons.
It is time to get beyond the Aldo Leopold management of killing males to save the deer populations. It was better than indiscriminate killing of all, but left us with the lowest form of species survivability.
Again, Mark and his comrades are pig farmers…poor ones if I must say so. If they want to maintain elk as pigs then they need to admit they manage the same. Then I can accept their need to kill off predators….and all the other way off base conclusions identical to my neighbor pig farmers here in Iowa who come up with sightings of black panthers.
Of course, all those elk hunters who want to rid the West of wolves, hunters who think they are hunting such a wiley opponent, have to admit they also are hunting farmers pigs.
Yes, farm pigs is what we are talking about here….same number of letters as “elk” and the same management…..and they both use wallows. What do we call them….pilks, eigs or use the respectful joining of pig-elk or elk-pig? I think I like PILKS…Yes, I’m sure of it…. PILKS is what Idaho Farm and Game is striving for in its Lolo zone. Forget the bugle. It is oink, oink here, oink oink there…that is until the big bad wolf comes on the scene. then it is scream here, scream there. Ole Mc donald had a farm…I mean wilderness area in topography only.
July 10, 2010 at 5:47 PM
Very nice analogy Bob, funny too.
July 10, 2010 at 5:50 PM
A true conservationist would not want to kill off predators just so there is more game to hunt. A true conservationist welcomes predators.
July 10, 2010 at 5:59 PM
Well said Jon
July 10, 2010 at 6:29 PM
July 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM
Without sufficient numbers of the prey species (elk in this case) the predators would die off anyway. All the F&G is trying to do is speed up the process towards equilibrium.
The F&G is tasked with managing the animals with hunting regulations. Why not speed up the decline of the wolf population? Do you just want to see them all starve to death because it is natural?
Mankind hunting is natural too. All these animals have been hunted by man for at least 20,000 years. Not hunting them would be unnatural.
July 12, 2010 at 5:41 PM
Man hunted to eat, not to kill for sport. Hunting wolves for sport in 2010 is unnatural. Wolves will not wipe out the elk. If this was true, they would have done so thousands and thousands of years. It takes wolves numerous attempts to take down an elk.
July 12, 2010 at 5:49 PM
That is not true jon. I have read dozens of books about native americans and they killed for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it was for food. Sometimes a buffalo was killed for one meal. They might only eat the tongue. Sometimes moutain sheep were killed for the hide that was used in clothing. Some birds were killed for a single feather. Sometimes, animals were killed for sinues and sometimes they were killed just for spiritual reasons and, yes, sometimes for sport with only the possibility that someone might have a use for it.
While I do not believe evil to be a human construct, I am convinced that the world in some peoples minds is.
July 12, 2010 at 5:55 PM
The main purpose of hunting was to eat. It was a kill or die situation. 2010 is very much different than those times. Most people kill because they want, not need today. Predators on the other hand without a doubt kill because they need to, they have no choice. If they don’t, they will starve to death. That should be obvious to most with any common sense. Then again, maybe not.
July 12, 2010 at 6:02 PM
Human beings killed for more reason than to eat. They killed for warm clothes, for tools, for weapons of war, for comfortable lodging, for comforable beds, for status symbols, for beautiful clothes and ornaments, for feasts, for wichcraft, for toys, and even for fun sometimes.
Try reading a book or two about the lives of aboriginal peoples before making sweeping statments of fact.
July 12, 2010 at 6:10 PM
There is no doubt that some people do infact need to hunt in order to survive. I laugh sometimes when someone says I rely on elk for survival. Try looking at some of the children in 3rd world countries who are ACTUALLY literally starving to death. This mainly goes for people in 3rd world countries who are very very poor and some tribes who don’t have access to the outside world.
July 12, 2010 at 5:56 PM
…and who said the wolves wipe out the elk? I only heard that they will not allow thier numbers to recover. What are you talking about?
…and it does not take numerous attemps to kill a calf elk and that is what the F&G has been talking about.
July 12, 2010 at 6:00 PM
I was not talking about calf elks.
July 12, 2010 at 6:04 PM
…well everyone else was!
July 12, 2010 at 6:04 PM
If you want to blame a predator for not letting elk recover, blame black bears. They are the main cause of elk calf predation.
July 12, 2010 at 6:06 PM
Grizzlies are effective killers of elk calves and each spring, many of the park’s grizzlies can be seen hunting the traditional calving grounds. While elk calves are fairly good at hiding, particularly in tall sagebrush, grizzlies can often sniff them out. Black bears, too, are relatively efficient predators of young calves and have been known to make a pretty good living hunting them. Another very effective predator on elk calves are cougars, which biologists feel are far more effective at killing elk calves than are wolves. Finally, coyotes do account for some elk calf mortality. However, this latter predator is also prey-wolves kill coyotes in Yellowstone and this relationship between members of the canine family is just beginning to be understood.
July 12, 2010 at 6:16 PM
It has been long known that bears are a very effective predator of moose and elk calves, but with the additional predation of the wolf, it get harder for a population to recover in the short run. In the long run the prey and predator will balance each other, but there are humans who want different and I am a human. I want a surplus of elk each fall and so does the majority of voters in the Northern Rocky Mountain States. Push to hard and there will be a rider on an unrelated senate bill which will negate portions of the ESA just like the guns in national parks bill.
July 12, 2010 at 6:20 PM
Not to get too much in your conversation with PW, but where in this conversation (about the Lolo) did the words “park,” “grizzly,” “sagebrush,” “Yellowstone” and “coyote” come from. Mark Gamblin pretty much laid out the problems of the Lolo, several times in fact. You can disagree, as some do, but that seems to be based on pretty good facts. Each area where wolves migrate to will have different predator-prey relationships, habitat constraints and dynamics, something you apparently have not yet (nor will you ever) figure out.
You just like to pick random quotes, often out of context and sometimes not even attributing them to the rightful source or author. You constantly add confusion to the conversation, with your random shotgun blasts of your “facts,” and I am still trying to figure out the logic of some of them, and you can’t stay focused on an issue. Your mind must be a very scary place.
July 12, 2010 at 6:24 PM
Elk, you mean those who hunt want a surplus of elk. Let’s just make that clear. Those who don’t hunt I imagine would not really care that much about having a surplus of elk.
July 12, 2010 at 6:43 PM
Those hoping for a glimmer that someday elk numbers might rebound to something close to the record populations found in the Bitterroot before wolves came on the scene most likely left disappointed.
Hebblewhite’s take-home message was simple and direct.
Wolves are here to stay and elk are on the menu. Hunters can’t shoot their way out of it. In places where good elk habitat is sparse, elk numbers could take a big hit.
There will be some benefits too for things like willow and aspen regeneration, which could help critters like beaver and song birds.
July 12, 2010 at 6:05 PM
I do not have time now to research it, but when Lewis and Clark arrived at the start of the Beaverhead River (15 miles west of present day Dillon, Montana) it noted in the journals that the Shoshoni Indians would hunt antelope by running them down in relays with horses. Yes, they ate what they killed, but there must have been an element of sport in chasing antelope with horses
July 12, 2010 at 6:17 PM
I don’t know if it was someone on here, but I think someone mentioned that they killed a lot of buffalo or horses?
July 12, 2010 at 6:36 PM
Bob has killed ablot of buffalo, but he is a buffalo farmer.