IDFG: Wolves not causing most elk losses

Habitat and hunting play big role in declines

I don’t think this is news to many people here but wolves haven’t had the effect many people claim and their role in the ecosystem is much more complex than many would like you to believe.

The IDFG has issued a public report that explains that wolves may play a role in the decline of some elk populations but habitat also plays a role as well.

You can read the report here: August 2010 – Study Shows Effect of Predators on Idaho Elk

F&G: Wolves not causing most elk losses.
By Laura Lundquist – Times-News writer

240 Responses to “IDFG: Wolves not causing most elk losses”

  1. Ken Cole Says:

    Already the first comment on the article attacks the study because it doesn’t say what they believe.

    • jon Says:

      Wolf haters don’t like studies they don’t agree with Ken.

    • Salle Says:

      Obviously believing and intelligent understanding are two very different things. Those who live by emotion are more concerned with the beliefs of the informants than recognizing objective research findings which have little to do with personal belief other than either confirming an idea or rejecting it regardless of how one “feels” or “believes” what the finding might support.

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      I’ve been on a lot of the hunter’s blogs and many of them will not accept this study and call it a farce. Many of them will believe that it’s an IDFW ploy to make the hunting look better in Idaho to attract out-of-staters and increase revenue. It wouldn’t matter if they collared entire herds and came to the same conclusion.

      In my opinion, regardless of whether the elk living with wolves are truly in danger of dying off or not, many members of rural communites see the wolf as federal encroachment on what they feel is their territory. That goes for some residents, hunters, and ranchers. That sentiment will be pervasive no matter what evidence is presented to those who hold that opinion.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Daniel Berg,

      It is funny that the hunters you have read see the study that way because all the state-based political pressure, inasmuch as pressure affects research, is in the direction of “blame the wolves . . . blame them them for everything.”

      The fact that the study does not do this, gives it more credibility, I think.

      I agree with you that the rural resentment of wolves doesn’t have much to do with actual wolves. It is really about other things. The wolf is a symbol some of these folks like to focus on though. It concentrates their anger.

    • jon Says:

      Ralph, there are some claiming that wolves haved wiped out all of the bighorn sheep in Montana. Is there any truth to this?

    • jon Says:

      have *

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      jon,

      If there is any large game animal wolves avoid it is bighorn sheep. Their habitat is not the kind wolves like to hunt in.

      Documented attacks of wolves on bighorn sheep in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are few.

      Western Watersheds recent victory getting rid of domestic sheep on the Payette National Forest in Idaho will probably save more bighorn from disease than wolves will kill in the area in the next thousand years🙂

  2. Mike Says:

    Wow! Shooting animals with bullets hurts the population? Who would have guessed?
    😉

    If sportsmen were truly concerned about elk populations, they would start sacrificing elk tags.

    • mountainman Says:

      we have been

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Mike –
      Your comments begs recurring “wildlife management” questions that will always be relevant on this blog.
      Question: “What should wildlife management mean/be?; Who are the beneficiaries of wildlife management?; How should wildlife management be conducted?;
      It is my impression that some in this blog community advocate minimal (or no) management or manipulation of wildlife populations for any reason and some advocate the premise that wildlife are a natural resource of/for our society to be managed for current and future generations. Obviously the latter is the premise of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation – the foundation of wildlife management programs in the United States and Canada.
      In that context, the contemporary wildlife management principles of our society, your comments might seem quizzical. Of course, sportsmen (hunters?) and non-sportsmen could desire abundant elk, deer, moose, antelope, etc. populations because those populations are valued natural resources to a diverse segment of our society – for a variety of reasons. Hunting is certainly a very important beneficial use of those natural resources. In this context, it is not curious at all that hunters (and non-hunters) might express concern about the decline of elk (for a variety of reasons) in the Lolo, Sawtooth and other management zones.
      To be clear about the report findings, hunting is both a socially legitimate use of these natural resources and it is a management tool to achieve population objectives. In the short term, hunting can and does reduce elk (or deer or antelope or moose) populations. However, those effects are part and parcel of those management programs and are routinely adjusted by controlling the level of hunting mortality. Hunting, within the North American Model, is always limited by the other sources of mortality and inherent productivity of each managed species – not the cause of an undesired population decline.

    • pointswest Says:

      Even the most rabid anti-hunters should realize that hunter’s wallets provide economic inscentive to protect wildlife, and most importantly, wildlife habitat. An area such as Island Park could easily have became a tree farm with trees planted in rows and most of the land closed to the public.

      We would have no Lobo recovery area in New Mexico and Arizona if hunters had not first reintroduced the elk.

    • Mike Says:

      Mark it’s very simple math. If a population is declining, you might want to stop shooting it. 😉

      I find this incredibly bizarre behavior and quite honestly bordering on insanity. How can one complain about the low population of an animal that you shoot bullets at every year?

      This has nothing to do with feel-good rhetoric about “managing”(as if that automatically implies we are doing something worthwhile – managing for the sake of managing does not mean you are doing the right thing) or the tradition of hunting (calling something tradition does not exucse bad science or questionable results, although many seem to feel it does).

      One would think that if elk numbers were of such great concern, the first thing to go would be the activity that kills most of them.

    • jon Says:

      Mark, can you respond to this study? Your own fish and game agency is saying that wolves are not to blame for most elk losses and that hunters play a big role in elk declines. What is your response to this? If this is indeed true, maybe elk hunting licenses should stop being given out for a while.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Mike, Jon –
      If I understand your comments correctly, each of you interpret the Newsletter story as documentation that hunting/hunters explain the declines in elk populations in at least certain parts of Idaho. If that is right, I’ll go out on a limb to say that you assume “cause of death” or simply “death” of elk means population decline – which would be a fundamental mis-understanding of wildlife population dynamics.
      I made the point in my last post that hunting is regulated. Hunting mortality is carefully managed to not exceed the productive capacity of an elk population (e.g.). In the Lolo Zone, elk hunting opportunity has been severely reduced because elk production and recruitment has been reduced – by reduced habitat productivity and the single most important factor, wolf predation. Hunting was not/is not the cause of the elk population decline in this large chunk of Idaho, but hunting, as one beneficial use of the public’s elk resource, has been substantially reduced by other factors, especially predation – primarily wolf predation.
      In other parts of Idaho, hunting is a large component of annual elk mortality. In every example, hunting is managed within the capability of the respective elk population to sustain elk hunting opportunity. Other factors, the same cited in the Lolo Zone, determine how much hunting opportunity wildlife managers can allow. AGAIN – hunting is not the cause of elk population declines in any of the Zones the Newsletter report discusses. Hunting however, is limited by those other factors, including wolf, cougar, and bear predation.
      Weather, habitat changes, predation determine the potential for a variety of beneficial uses of elk populations. Hunting is one important beneficial use for Idahoans.

    • jon Says:

      But your fish and game department are saying that regulated hunting is playing a big role in elk declines and that wolves are not causing big elk losses.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      jon –
      This is important for you and others to understand. The report DOES NOT say that hunting is responsible for elk population declines. The Newsletter “report” (a general summary of findings, not a complete technical report) explains that: elk population strengths vary across the state; in 5 of the 11 elk management zones being monitored, predators were the primary cause of elk deaths and in 3 of those 5 zones, wolves were the primary cause of death; adult cow elk and calf elk survival determine the stability or growth of an elk population; the 5 zones where predators are the primary cause of death are the same 5 (of 11 studied zones) zones where elk populations are declining; the only other zone experiencing elk population decline is the Pioneer Zone, where hunting caused the majority of elk deaths. Hunting opportunity (harvest) has been reduced in the Pioneer Zone.
      To summarize the summary – where hunting was the most important cause of elk mortality in a declining elk population (Pioneer Zone), elk hunting has already been adjusted/managed to assure desired, sustainable numbers of elk, elk hunting opportunity and other beneficial uses of elk in that Zone. In 5 of the remaining 10 studied elk zones, elk populations are in decline and non-human predation is the largest source of mortality in those zones. In 3 of those 5 zones, wolves kill more elk than any other source.

    • JB Says:

      Mike:

      Shooting elk doesn’t necessarily hurt the population any more than wolves predators killing elk. In each case, a single animal is removed. Given adequate recruitment of new individuals into the population, removal by either humans or non-human predators will have little effect on the population.

      One intriguing recent finding is that the combination of human removal of elk in their reproductive prime and predator removal of calves has the potential to exacerbate population declines. Notably this study (conducted on one herd in MT) found that the impact of human hunting was greater; however, all mortality sources potentially contribute population change. (Note: I’m traveling at the moment and so don’t have access to these files, or I would post citations).

      Personally, I agree with Mark’s assertion that hunting is both a socially acceptable and valued use of wildlife resources. In my opinion, hunters’ and their views are often mischaracterized (some might say demonized) on this blog. This is extremely unfortunate as hunters and non-hunters alike have the same goal: the conservation of wildlife. The stereotyping of hunters and non-hunting conservationists only serves the purposes of those groups that favor exploitation of public lands. Efforts to “pin” elk population declines on either hunters or predators are misplaced and counterproductive.

    • JB Says:

      “In this context, it is not curious at all that hunters (and non-hunters) might express concern about the decline of elk (for a variety of reasons) in the Lolo, Sawtooth and other management zones. To be clear about the report findings, hunting is both a socially legitimate use of these natural resources and it is a management tool to achieve population objectives.”

      Mark: I find little to quibble with in this statement. It certainly is legitimate to manage elk (for example) to meet the desires of hunters (i.e. maximized opportunity). However, there is an unacknowledged assumption in this discussion about elk, that elk population declines are always bad–or put another way–elk populations should be managed to be stable and abundant all the time, everywhere.

      Personally, I think we can meet the desires of many different types of “users”; but not if we always put hunters’ desires first.

    • Mike Says:

      ++Personally, I agree with Mark’s assertion that hunting is both a socially acceptable and valued use of wildlife resources. ++

      JB, I’m sure you have heard of the “straw man” fallacy. That’s what you’re doing right now. You can correct this questionable discussion approach by viewing this video:

      This has nothing to do with whether hunting is socially acceptable or a valued use of wildlife resources. Instead, we are talking about a drop in elk numbers caused by shooting at elk.

      True, a healthy population can sustain hunting seasons, but to continue to hunt them, and then for one to claim “they are worried” as they pack up the rig for elk season is easily laughable, and tilting to insane and demented.

    • jon Says:

      Mike, during the last 2 years about 16,000 elk are killed by hunters annually in Idaho. That is 32,000 elk killed by hunters in 2 years. Now, what I don’t get is why everyone is always talking about predators as the reason for the elk declines, but hunters are never being brought up or mentioned as being one of the reasons for the low elk #s throughout the whole state. It’s always put the blame on the predators and ignore the fact that hunters are responsible for killing thousands and thousands of elk, but no one ever says anything about this. If one is to place blame, place blame on all that are involved in the elk declines and that includes the hunters themselves.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Mike, jon –
      Your apparent confusion with the relationship between regulated hunting and elk population dynamics is an important disconnect in what could be a constructive and informative discussion about a very significant wildlife topic. There isn’t the time or space and this isn’t the appropriate forum to provide a lesson plan on wildlife population dynamics so I, and perhaps others, can try to lay this out in clear terms. Mortality is a constant event in any population of animals. Hunting mortality is just one of many sources of annual mortality in an elk herd. So is other (non-human) predation mortality. Wildlife populations decline for one simple reason – more animals die than are born. If elk production and recruitment (survival of calf elk to reproductive age) are high, then many elk can die and the population will not decline. If production and recruitment is low, then the same number of deaths could likely result in a population decline. Regulated hunting very rarely is the cause of a population decline. When other sources of mortality, or reduced production and recruitment, reduce elk numbers below a management objective – managers have only a few options: reduce hunting mortality (opportunity); reduce other sources of mortality (non-human predation e.g.); increase elk production and recruitment through habitat enhancement. I’m sure I just bored most everyone to tears – but it’s important to understand those elementary basics to avoid the misunderstanding you have about the role of regulated hunting in elk population fluctuations.
      If the IDFG were to close the Lolo Zone to elk hunting – there would be no effect on elk numbers because cow elk hunting is closed in the Lolo Zone. Similarly, in the remaining four Zones that have declining elk populations, elk hunting opportunity has been reduced below the level that current elk production and recruitment can sustain. In other words – elk hunting is not the most important cause of those population declines – non-human predation is and in three of those four remaining elk zones, wolf predation is the largest source of mortality for mature cow and calf elk. Further reductions in hunting opportunity could be necessary, but not until it is clear that other management options (habitat enhancement or reducing non-human predation mortality) cannot successfully and appropriately achieve the management objectives for those populations. It is because hunting is one of several important beneficial uses of the public’s elk resources that hunting should continue. The benefits of hunting to our society is one of many important values of elk to Idahoans.

    • Mike Says:

      Jon –

      It’s amazing, isn’t it?

      In many ways this specific example sheds light on the questionable and still yet primitve aspects of our species.

      This is as simple as it gets:

      If you are truly worried about the elk population, why are you shooting them?

      Do they not see this as insane behavior? I guess not. People have been institutionalized for less….

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Mike –
      BTW, it is the value of elk hunting to the Idaho public and therefore an important and socially valid reason to desire higher elk numbers that makes JB’s point relevant and not a “Straw Person” argument. Your reasoning would be valid only if hunting were the only source of mortality for those declining elk populations.

    • Mike Says:

      Mark –

      You’ve engaged in the straw man fallacy again:

      This isn’t about whether you like hunting or feel that management is necessary. This is about an article which reports that hunters are the major cause of elkdecline in two areas of Idaho:

      http://magicvalley.com/news/local/wood-river/article_64d3fe91-1afd-5794-b5a0-62129c6f11ca.html

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Mike –
      I’m trying to help you here. One more time. There is nothing in the Newsletter article or the Magic Valley Times News article that supports your premise that hunting is responsible for elk population declines – except the Pioneer Zone and the Island Park Zone (correction – I did not include the IP Zone in my earlier comments about declining elk populations) where adjustments (reductions, albeit not reported in the article) in elk hunting have already been implemented. The adjustments (reduction in elk harvest/hunting opportunity) to keep hunting within the productive capacity of those elk herds is why there is no Straw-Person analogy. If hunting were un-regulated and the primary cause of those population declines – you would have a valid argument.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      JB –
      You and I agree that responsible management of the public’s wildlife considers and accomodates the needs of a broad public constituency. Hunting will continue to be a very important beneficial use of public wildlife resources just as the non-hunting oriented values will be increasingly important. HOW to accomodate differing values, desires, expectations will be increasingly challenging as American society evolves. This will be an interesting journey for all of us.

    • Jon Way Says:

      Mark Gamblin,
      To add a new voice here:
      what is frustrating isn’t hunting per se but how that does seem to be put above all else in the importance of all of your responses above. Of course we know that all state agencies are funded by hunter dollars, but there is the apparent bias. In almost every state wildlife watching makes considerably more than hunting dollars (which is also a big economic engine for most states) but state reports are always geared toward huntable game and maximum sustainable yield. I agree with JB, that maybe the low elk numbers in that zone wouldn’t be such of a big deal without hunters so closely running your dept.
      I also do happen to agree that hunting, even for bulls, should be greatly reduced to allow all members of the population to recover (at least for a time) in areas like the Lolo zone even if you don’t think that that affects the population. I don’t agree and think it has to at least to some extent help the population – for example, more bulls in the population might allow predators to take more of them instead of cows which would help the population.

    • Ryan Says:

      John Way,

      I’ve read the study, its pretty broad in what it calls wildlife watching. Take out the backyard bird feeders and squirrel feeders and all of a sudden the study isn’t so black and white.

      “If sportsmen were truly concerned about elk populations, they would start sacrificing elk tags.”

      Mike,

      If you have ever spent any time reading the regulations, you’d see that tags are cut as soon a populations are seen in decline.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Jon Way –
      Clearly, you see the emphasis on hunting in Idaho wildlife management to be a misplaced priority or inappropriate. A rhetorical question: Why? Because you desire more emphasis on wildlife viewing without potential emcumberances of hunting distractions for wildlife viewers – at the expense of otherwise mutually compatible hunting opportunity? I recognize that you provide a potential benefit of reduced hunting take across an elk population (i.e. mature bulls as well as cows) as perhaps lessening the impact of non-human predation on elk production. Taking a parsimonious approach to you question, wildlife management goals and objectives are generally classified as social or biological in context. Socially, Idaho wildlife managers are responsible for the public trust interests of the people of Idaho – i.e. stewarding wildlife to satisfy the desires and needs of the Idaho public to enjoy the benefits of their wildlife resource and protect their broader public trust interests. The biological responsibilities tend to fall within the social side so long as those objectives meet the test of sustainability and other essential public trust responsibilities.
      Within that description of the resonsibilities of Idaho wildlife managers, how are current management objectives not responsive to the public we primarily serve? Do Idahoans in fact want elk populations to be managed less for hunting opportunity and more for wolf foraging opportunity? Would the Idaho public support reducing bull elk hunting opporunity to assure that wolves have a more diverse selection of an elk population to prey on for a theoretical moderating of wolf predation effects on elk herd productivity? Would an objective technical assessment support that thesis? Would the Idaho public support a re-allocaton of wildlife management priorities by reducing elk hunting or wolf hunting opportunity for elk or wolf viewing opportunities?
      Those are important questions for Idaho wildlife managers. Without the benefit of current survey data on those specific questions I can only go on the interactions I and other IDFG staff have with our public (hunting and non-hunting public). My honest assessment today is that there is much less support for those potential changes to Idaho wildlife mangement policy and programs among Idahoans than among the participants in this blog community.

    • JB Says:

      Mike:

      I am familiar with the “straw man” fallacy, but I don’t see where I’ve fallen victim to it? Your argument was that:

      “Shooting animals with bullets hurts the population.”

      This statement is easily falsifiable. Where I live (in Ohio), for example, we have been shooting white-tailed deer for decades and the population continues to rise. In fact, in recent years we have not been able to shoot enough of them to keep the population to a socially desirable level. This is one example of how the NA model of wildlife conservation has helped to conserve and even restore wildlife populations–while they are being hunted (i.e. shot with bullets).

      As both Mark and I explained, wildlife population declines occur when mortality is higher than recruitment, whether animals are shot by human hunters or fall prey to other predators. Though, as I noted, which animals are being removed may also affect future recruitment, and human hunters and wolves tend to target different animals. Regardless, both Mark and I directly addressed your argument, not the “straw man” as you contend.

      My statement, “Personally, I agree with Mark’s assertion that hunting is both a socially acceptable and valued use of wildlife resources” was both and acknowledgment of fact (numerous studies show that the majority of U.S. residents support hunting) and my opinion (I agree with Mark that hunting is a legitimate use of wildlife resources). As I noted below, I think the conflict between hunters and non-hunting “wildlife watchers” is largely overblown, and only serves to hurt wildlife conservation. In my view, this is because people who adopt the most extreme positions (i.e. wolves should never be killed vs. kill ’em all NOW) drive the debate. Unfortunately, state F&G agencies have a vested interest in listening more to one “side” of this argument. This conflict of interest (or lack of representativeness) IS the problem, in my estimation. You may see things differently, or not, and that is fine. But please don’t accuse me of avoiding the issue at hand when I clearly addressed it.

    • Mike Says:

      ++I am familiar with the “straw man” fallacy, but I don’t see where I’ve fallen victim to it? Your argument was that:

      “Shooting animals with bullets hurts the population.”

      This statement is easily falsifiable. Where I live (in Ohio), for example, we have been shooting white-tailed deer for decades and the population continues to rise. In fact, in recent years we have not been able to shoot enough of them to keep the population to a socially desirable level. This is one example of how the NA model of wildlife conservation has helped to conserve and even restore wildlife populations–while they are being hunted (i.e. shot with bullets).
      ++

      You’ve done it again. Once more you have engaged in the straw man fallacy. This isn’t about socailly acceptable levels (whatever the heck that is) or the NA conservation model (of which there appear to be several versions, not one definitive answer).

      When you hunt a large portion of a population of animals, you are in effect reducing that population. According to this article, hunters are to blame for the severe loss of elk in two key areas of Idaho.

      How do you defend the continued hunting of elk in those areas?

      Please try to not use the straw man again.

    • Mike Says:

      ++
      There is nothing in the Newsletter article or the Magic Valley Times News article that supports your premise that hunting is responsible for elk population declines – except the Pioneer Zone and the Island Park Zone (correction – I did not include the IP Zone in my earlier comments about declining elk populations) where adjustments (reductions, albeit not reported in the article) in elk hunting have already been implemented. ++

      So let me get this straight – There are no issues with hunters hurting elk numbers *EXCEPT* for two areas. So really what you meant to say was that YES, this report indicates hunting is hurting elk in hunting in two areas of Idaho.

      You aren’t making any sense at all, Mark. You say the article says nothing to back my premise that hunters are hurting elk, and then you cite two examples from the article that indicate hunters are hurting the elk population.

      What you should have said, was: “Mike, you are correct. There are two areas in Idaho where hunters are hurting elk badly”.

      But it looks like you deviated into some insane path of logic that no one could rightfully comprehend.

      ++If hunting were un-regulated and the primary cause of those population declines – you would have a valid argument.++

      This doesn’t make any sense either. According to the article, hunters are the main reason for population declines in those two areas.

    • JB Says:

      Mike:

      You said, “Shooting animals with bullets hurts the population”.

      This statement–your statement–vastly oversimplifies population dynamics (as Mark pointed out), and I have given you one example that clearly conflicts with this position (there are numerous other examples). Let me make this as simple as I can:

      Population change = Current population + births – deaths

      So long as deaths do not exceed births, a population is stable (or growing). Shooting animals with bullets certainly hurts individual animals, but it needn’t “hurt the population” as you insisted. I’m sorry if you can’t (or won’t) acknowledge this very simple fact. Your focus on my reference to the NA model and the social acceptability of populations (which merely provide context for the argument) suggests to me that it is you who are attempting to erect straw men. Thus, I can only conclude that you either don’t understand what the straw man fallacy is, or you are attempting to be ironic. In either case, it appears any further dialogue with you is not likely to be productive.

    • JB Says:

      P.S. Your logic–that hunters kill elk so hunting is bad–is the exact same logic employed by the anti-wolf fanatics (i.e. wolves kill elk so wolves are bad). In my view, both of these positions are wrong. The question for management is how to “balance” mortality for both populations in such a way that best satisfies the desires of the public.

      There, NOW I have changed the subject.😉

    • Save bears Says:

      All I can say, is WOW, this is an interesting turn of events JB!

      LOL

    • JB Says:

      SB:

      I have always supported hunting as a legitimate use of wildlife resources and acknowledged the contributions of hunters to wildlife conservation. My problem (similar to Jon Way’s) is that hunters and their preferences currently play a DOMINATE role in wildlife management. Most of the time this is not problematic, as most hunters and most non-hunters have similar preferences where management is concerned. Predator management in the West is one area where this is not the case. The issue is especially problematic as much of the West is in federal ownership, yet state F&G agencies have no incentive to respond to the interests of “users” that reside outside of their boundaries.

    • STG Says:

      Mike, right on!

    • STG Says:

      Mark,

      Your insults and condesending comments diminishes your arguments. Here is a concept: present your position without attacking the intelligence or knowledge of other people on this blog. If you do, you might be heard.

    • Moose Says:

      “So long as deaths do not exceed births, a population is stable (or growing). ”

      The key here is COW and CALF survivability numbers determine the future for a pop. segment…and yes, wolves and hunters both REDUCE ELK POPULATIONS…

      Mark, I for one really appreciate your input here. I don’t always agree with the line, but I respect that you care enuff to make an attempt to impart the dept’s stance directly to us. Thanks.

    • WM Says:

      STG,

      ++ Mark,
      Your insults and condesending comments diminishes your arguments.++

      To use an idiom, “There are none so blind as those who will not see,” or “none so deaf as those will not hear.”

      Mark seems to do a pretty good job of explaining, re-explaining and again re-explaining concepts and findings. He clarifies issues that some here misconstrue.

      He has refuted factual assertions by some here which are simply not true. He endures a disproportionate amount of abuse, over and over again (I, for one, appreciate his input and admire his ….restraint).

      It is obvious he is not getting through to some because they simply put their hands over their eyes (or ears) and don’t want to hear the message. And, if he puts a bit of an edge to a comment for the purpose of emphasizing a point, you and those like you then criticize him for that. Interesting rules of engagement where only one side gets to shoot; and kind of a double standard, don’t you think?

      If you don’t like the message, then attack the messenger. I think I understand, now.

  3. Ann Sydow Says:

    Well I’M not surprised, but I’m thrilled to see it in print and especially coming from IDFG!

    • Salle Says:

      I’m surprized that they actually made THAT study public given their history of hiding or outright denying research they don’t agree with.

  4. Robert Bunch Says:

    This is a bit off subject but I hope someone here can help me solve a problem. I tried to download the report on predators effect on elk so I could read it. I clicked on the link and it said “downloading from sight” but it never transferred to my computer. I also tried to download the
    report on the Evert grizzly bear attack and I could never get it to download either. Usually when I download something a window will pop up asking if I want to open the file now or where I want to save it or whatever but that didn’t happen. Can anyone suggest what might be wrong as I would really like to read those two reports.

    Thanks

    • Salle Says:

      RB, It is in PDF format, maybe you need to update your Acrobat Reader application…?

      Do you have Adobe on your computer? I didn’t have any problem with it.

  5. jon Says:

    I find it a bit odd that no hunters have replied. Layton, elk, etc. what are your thoughts on this study?

  6. Rita K. Sharpe Says:

    Jon,They will probably show up.

  7. Save bears Says:

    I am a hunter, read the report and am not surprised by it, I know wolves don’t eat everything, but they can impact certain parts of the population, as does habitat loss, weather issues and other predators…I didn’t need a study to explain that to me…

  8. SEAK Mossback Says:

    I’m just glad to see that IDFG has had the resources to undertake good science. The return of the wolf has added another variable in an already complex system as an added challenge to wildlife management as well as generating fears, concerns and lines of thought that have gotten far ahead of reality. It’s more important than ever for wildlife managers to acquire and share objective information as some kind of anchor with reality rather than getting dragged along by overwrought concerns and politics.

    As Mark Gamblin pointed out, hunters have legitimate concerns about elk populations. However, its still a legitimate question how well-founded they are. When I watched the clips of all the ranting at the Commission meeting about what they all “know” what the wolves are doing, I couldn’t help but think of their brethren in California who have ranted for decades at meetings against the concept of doe hunting and consistently gotten their way, despite the fact that science indicates the current policy greatly reduces their potential harvest while increasing losses to the general public through crop damage, auto-deer collisions and affects on other species. OK, California . . . . but I believe it’s more than the fruits n’ nuts factor. I know there are many who take a jaundiced view of biologists, but science is important as an anchor on reality – it’s really just a process that promotes reason.

  9. Harley Says:

    Hunters usually go after the big antlered animals, right? (Not a hunter so I’m just guessing here) Some are actually after the animal for the meat value? But wolves often go for what they can get. Most of their hunts are unsuccessful I think. But if wolves often go after calves and young animals, as well as the weaker and sick animals because they have a much better chance at success, would’t that impact a population if their next generation is not able to make it to adulthood and breeding age?
    This is not a snide comment, nor an attack. I was just curious, this is a legit question.

    • Save bears Says:

      Very valid question Harley, but on the ground, that is not always the way it works, and not all hunters go after the biggest animals, reproductive rates, are often times tied to what happens in the previous year, there is really no way to predict it with any certainty.

      Myself, being a hunter, have not shot a male animal for about 6 years now…

    • Phil Maker Says:

      Harley,

      You’re on the right track; human take of elk through hunting often removes the “prime” individuals- those of maximum breeding/reproductive potential. This can have a negative effect on the herd because the “biggest/best” bulls (the ones with excellent genes) don’t pass them on during the rut. Wolves on the other hand, as you allude, take whatever they can get; which sometimes is a prime-reproductive elk, but much more often is “inferior” in some way (very young, very old, incapacitated through disease/injury, or is in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” etc.). These animals may not contribute to the health of a herd because they are not fit, and may actually take away food that “better” animals could get. A limping/sick elk is likely easier to catch than a healthy one- and even so most wolf hunts are unsuccessful. Lots of factors involved that make this whole issue highly complex.

    • timz Says:

      Wolves hunting success rate is about 15-20%

    • Ryan Says:

      Phil,

      What you see on TV and what really happens in the field are two different things. Unless a unit is limited entry and managed for trophy bulls, the bull take is across the age and gene spectrum. Same with the cow take, most take the first cow that crosses their path.

    • WM Says:

      Phil,

      ++ human take of elk through hunting often removes the “prime” individuals- those of maximum breeding/reproductive potential.++

      True, However, if I understand correctly, some of the research in Yellowstone (Stahler & Smith) showed that wolves selected very heavily for temporarily “rut weakened” bulls in the fall – winter. Seems there are instances where there may actually be a genetic sink resulting from this. Some of these bulls would actually recover if left alone to regain their strength, and were not pursued by wolves. So, I think the dynamics are alot more complicated than you suggest.

      On the other hand state wildlife agencies may manage to protect some of the large bulls by either prohibiting or limiting the take. I know the state of WA does this in several areas, and so does ID, through this curious concept of “game management.” Some areas start with a spike only season right after the rut, and the big bulls have already become more wary (sort of an advanced warning) when the general season finally begins.

  10. Harley Says:

    I’ve read/learned that wolves are really good opportunists. They can usually make the most of their environment and it would seem logical that going after the ‘easier’ prey would be the best way to make sure they have a meal though a pack can and does take down animals in the prime. It was good to read that here the decline in the herds is not placed at the hunter’s feet. I wish there was an easy answer or solution. I’ve often posted on the BBB that it would be nice to see some sort of balance and that if wolf populations are at or exceeding expectations, finding a way to thin them out, if it would help ensure the herds building up a bit more, might be an answer? I do realize there are a myriad of reasons why herds decline and it’s not just the wolves but if that’s a part that can be, I don’t know, controlled? I’m not sure that’s the right term to use here, but it’s a variable that we have some sort of control over? I do not want to see wolves decimated. I’ve seen what can happen when a predator is taken away from an equation. On the same hand it would be a shame to see elk and deer disappear as well.
    I don’t know, rambling now because there are so many stinkin factors involved with everything. One side says one thing, the other side says the complete opposite. It really is a challenge to try and stay objective.

    • jon Says:

      Harley, the anti wolf sides blames EVERYTHING on wolves. The pro wolf sides realizes there are other factors at work here besides wolves eating elk. Wolf haters want a scapegoat and an easy answer as to why elk #s are low in certain areas and ofcourse, blaming predators is the easiest answer to give. They are too ignorant to realize there are other factors at play here.

  11. Harley Says:

    Jon, on the other hand there are those that are very quick to blame over-hunting on the decline in numbers too. You gotta admit, it goes both ways. There are extremists in both camps.

    • jon Says:

      I don’t know many people who blame overhunting on the decline in #s. Infact, most don’t even mention human hunting’s effect on elk #s. All you hear about is predators and the supposed damage they are causing to elk #s and deer #s. I think hunting plays a part in the decrease of elk #s in certain areas as well as wolves, bears, and mt. lions, killing elk. Disease also kills elk. There are different factors at play here. Elk populations going down is a normal thing.

    • jon Says:

      I see you want to know about the non native canadian wolf harley. Don’t be shy. I am sure quite a few here can tell you about this as this has been discussed many times and it is one of those myths that comes from the mouthes of wolf haters that refuses to die.

      There is no such species that is called the CANADIAN GRAY WOLF

      Myth and Science

      Ron Gillette, leader of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, says: “The wolves introduced into Idaho, Wyoming and Montana are EXOTIC CANADIAN gray wolves. Idaho’s gray wolves are extinct. The Canadian strain is larger and more aggressive.”

      Dr. Doug Smith, Yellowstone Wolf Project Leader, says: On the “Canadian” wolf thing. Bob Wayne, who is the leading expert on canid genetics in the world from UCLA, just did an analysis that completely discredits the “they reintroduced a foreign wolf that was not here”. Bob’s work shows that genetic variation for wolves is on a continuim from Mexico to the arctic, in other words wolves are not easily put into categories like this wolf is of this kind and this ine is different. They all are very similar and hard to split apart, esp wolves from Alberta to MT. I can go into more detail if it comes up for you again, but another thing to remember, taxonomy is a human contruct and it works pretty well down to the species level, but below that you run into trouble I think and there is a lot more Gray.

      Ed Bangs, USFWS, says: “Wolves travel across the border all the time. Canadian and American gray wolves are the same creature .

    • jon Says:

      And some more info Harley.

      Wolves have 2- to 4-inch-long guard hairs around their necks, reinforcing the impression of a bulky body, said Jason Husseman, a Fish and Game wolf biologist in Salmon, Idaho. People see wolves, compare them to their dogs, and estimate that the wolves weigh 150 pounds.

      “It’s a human tendency to overestimate. You see the same thing with bear sightings,” Husseman said.

      In actuality, wolves have the lean, rangy build of distance runners – an adaption that helps them chase down prey, he said.

      Some opponents of wolf reintroduction claim that the Canadian gray wolves released in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s are a larger, more aggressive subspecies than native wolves, which were extinct by the 1930s. Biologists say there’s little or no evidence to back up that assertion.

      “I’m curious that they throw out those numbers – that the Canadian wolves are 50 to 100 pounds bigger than the native Idaho wolves,” Husseman said. “I don’t know where those numbers come from.”

      Hayden said the most authoritative research on wolf subspecies comes from a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service zoologist, Ronald Nowak, who studied 580 historic skulls of full-grown male wolves. Nowak concluded that North America had five subspecies of gray wolves. Two subspecies had historic ranges in Idaho – the Rocky Mountain wolf and the Great Plains wolf.

      The Rocky Mountain subspecies outweighed the Great Plains wolf by about 20 pounds, Hayden said. But their ranges overlapped in the Idaho Panhandle, according to Nowak’s research.

      “Realistically, there’s no difference between the subspecies. They interbreed,” Hayden said.

      In addition, “we’ve got wolves that are walking here from Canada,” he said. “They’re the same species that would have been here in the past.”

    • Harley Says:

      In all honestly, I wouldn’t doubt that wolves walked here from Canada. That’s what wolves do. Walk. A lot! I am not going to really go into the whole Canadian wolf vs. rocky mountain wolf. I kinda got into that and I will be the first to admit, I really don’t know that much about it. I don’t live in Idaho. I’ve never seen a real wolf outside of a zoo. I know there are people who will swear up and down the wolves that were re-introduced to the area are Canadian wolves. They may or not be.
      Also, I think there are a lot of people out there being labeled wolf haters when in fact, they don’t hate the wolf. I tried to establish that on the other site. I think it would be a crime if all wolves were wiped out. And I think the majority of those folks agree with that. I guess the questions that bother me are, what will the wolves do when there aren’t enough elk for them to feed on? Wolves are resourceful. Encounters with wolves and humans is on the rise. And like them or not, ranchers and farmers and the like do have a right to protect their investments. Can there be a balance between not eliminating the wolf yet… keeping pets, people, ranches somewhat safe from wolves? And building up elk and moose again? And yeah, I know, there are cougars out there and bears too that are just as much in the equation as wolves but wolves seem to be a hot button 90% of the time.

  12. Tom Page Says:

    I can only speak with respect to the Pioneer Zone, as it’s the only one I know well.

    1) It’s overhunted for antlered animals, although changing regs in some units a couple years ago should help this problem somewhat. Instituting those changes across the entire region would help more. I’m not alone here – every other hunter I know thinks Unit 49 is overhunted for bulls.
    2) There are LOTS of cow elk in this zone, but they’ve learned to hang out in two places: very rough country and the Wood River Valley subdivisions. This makes the fixed wing aircraft overflight counts less accurate than they might have been in the past. Many residents say that at this time there are more elk down low, and in the lower WRV, than anyone can remember.
    3) The worst places for wolf predation and winter elk mortality are centered on the feedgrounds – I think, but have no study to point to.
    4) I also suspect, but have no proof, that the herds in areas with little cover, lots of roads/four-wheeler trails, and crap winter range are seeing a greater decline (and more wolf predation) than those with secure habitat and good dispersed feed.

    Incidentally, the hunting pressure (four-legged or two) here has little or nothing to do with long-term herd health. It definitely cuts down on the big bulls and the sex ratios, but the limiting factor here is winter range and overall habitat quality.

    • pointswest Says:

      I think winter range is the limiting factor in most of the tri-state area of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. It is the way the area developed over the past 130 years. The low and broad valleys were irrigated and cultivated as where the high country remained wilderness. So we have plenty of summer range in the high country but the dispersed winter range that once existed in lower valleys is under cultivation.

      The place where mountain men found the most game in Idaho was called Jarvis Market. It was called this because there was so much game there that visiting it was like going to market. Jarvis Market was in the Rexburg, Idaho area.

  13. Harley Says:

    I’ve seen this before, so another question, why are elk being seen more in suburban areas? I’ve heard comments from people that elk, moose and others are being spotted more and more in closer proximity to people.

  14. pointswest Says:

    Let’s say you have a giant aquarium of 50,000 acre feet and plant a prey species of fish in it. You calculate how much fish food you will need to feed a population of 100,000 lbs of fish and you begin broadcasting this feed into the aquarium with a programmable machine. Lets say it is 10,000 lbs of fish food per day and you fix this amount of daily food for the next 100 years. The fish population will expand and grow to the 100,000 lbs of fish. In the real world, you might have population explosions and collapses but lets say you manage the population and get it to stabilize at 100,000 lbs of fish.

    So what happens when you introduce a predator fish?

    A) The predator population explodes and consumes all the prey fish to a zero population?

    B) The prey fish population declines by 95% to where the prey fish scarce and preditor population finally stabilizes?

    C) The prey fish population may be reduced some but is mostly unaffected by the predator fish?

    D) None of the above.

    Well everyone knows the best answer on a multiple choice questions is always C. With exceptions and with some population stability issues, the prey fish population will depend mostly on the 10,000 lbs of fish food per day. Why, because they can reproduce and grow and the rate at which they grow depends on the supply of food. When a predator kills a prey fish, it only leaves more food for the other prey fish to grow and reproduce faster.

    It is never this simple in the real world. In the real world, both populations will fluctuate up and down and may explode and/or collapse but as long as the prey fish can quickly reproduce and grow, its population will depend mostly on the availability of food.

    I know, I know, the real world of elk and wolves is different and there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of hunters. However, the very nice thing about hunters is they can be managed. With elk, you can create “bulls only” hunts and hardly impact the reproductive capacity of an elk population, for example. Try a “bulls only” hunt for wolves…plead with the wolves to not to kill mamas and babies.

    I know, I know, you can have so many predators that elk populations cannot expand. Here again, hunters can aid in this. Shoot the wolves if the predator population is too high. Wow! The wolves will die in time anyway if they reduced their prey population below a certain threshold.

    I am not an expert and I cannot argue all the rates of predation and recruitment and population and complexities in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. It is undoubtably very tempermental and also depends on weather, disease, fires, etc. I only want to make the point that predation is not nearly as important to a prey species population as is good habitat and food supply. The elk herds can support both hunters and the natural predators and, in fact, the hunters are a valuable management tool for game managers.

  15. Cody Coyote Says:

    I’m just glad that the overall numbers of human elk hunters seem to be in decline everywhere in the northern Rockies wolf recovery area , especially in Wyoming.

    I won’t miss them like I used to. Not at all. My hunting and guiding days are over…my public resident ‘allotment’ of elk goes to the wolves now, gratis. Good hunting!

  16. Linda Hunter Says:

    This has been a very informative discussion . . thanks everyone for hanging in there. On another blog I read from Washington State regarding wolves one of the frustrated hunters finally confessed that it was the wolf being jammed down his throat that made him hate wolves. I thought that was very interesting, although it is probably obvious to most of you. For one thing, immediately my imagination drew a cartoon of a wolf being jammed down a hunters throat. . not a good ole merican wolf but a huge monster wolf. I understand that Mark Gamblin is trying to tell us that shooting bull elk doesn’t make the population decline because they are in control over the hunters to shoot just these so called extras in the population . . therefore they can call hunter harvest sustainable. This seems like a fundamental assumption of most modern wildlife mangement. But, as a person who questions everything I wonder why when I go out to watch elk herds in the wild I used to see the bull groups sort of patrolling around the nursery groups. I don’t see that where I live anymore and as a matter of fact the nursery herds were not very big this year. . at least out in the open and perhaps they are now in deep timber instead of the clear cuts that man made for them to hang out in. I am not seeing less elk, but they sure are acting differently. . and we don’t have wolves here where I live . . at least we don’t have wolf packs that anyone can detect. I have seen wolf tracks but the most I have seen at one time were three together and that was years ago. I wish I could spend everyday out there watching and maybe learn something.

    • jon Says:

      I don’t really see it like that Linda. Wolves were coming back on their own naturally if we humans helped bring them over here or not. What would the excuse for hunters be if wolves traveled here on their own? I don’t think it has a lot to do with that. I believe it comes down to hunters not liking wolves because they eat the animals they want to kill themselves. Wolves needed to be brought back, so we can rewrite the wrongs of the past.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Linda Hunter,

      I have been away and followed the blog lightly, but it does look like some good discussions have taken place.

      Regarding those Washington State hunters, I’d bet none of them realized that the wolves around Twisp did walk into the state on their own from Canada. Not only that, they were coastal wolves, not interior wolves.

    • Ryan Says:

      “What would the excuse for hunters be if wolves traveled here on their own?”

      Nobody bitched about the growing number wolves in MT and Idaho pre reintroduction. It’s a perfect example of Urban vs Rural, Liberal vs Conservative, dichotomy. Most view wolves as an item City folk are shoving down their throats. Where as if they just migrated naturally, there wouldn’t be so much bullshit involved.

    • Linda Hunter Says:

      Jon I didn’t say I saw it like that either . . I just said that is what one of the hunters said. . didn’t you get the humor of the description?

    • jon Says:

      Hunters/ranchers will hate wolves regardless if they were shoved down their throats or not or if they came here naturally or not. Most who have an idea of what is going on KNOWS that hunters hate wolves because they kill elk, deer, and moose. This is undeniable and anyone who denies this is lying. They hate competition and that is what wolves are and that is why they want them all killed or a good amount of them so they can have more opportunities killing elk, deer, moose, etc Wolves were brought back to rewrite the wrongs of the past and we still have those anti wolf attitudes here today.

    • jon Says:

      Hunters seem to have a problem with wolves taking what they, hunters, think is rightfully theirs.
      Hunters look at the wolf from many angles and perspectives, too, and I have to emphasize that I’m a hunter. Certainly wolves compete, but I don’t think they’re any excuse for not being a successful hunter. There’s tremendous numbers of game animals available to sportsman and with a little effort and sleuth, you still have great potential to collect a wild animal from hunting. I don’t know what the excuse was before wolves, but it has become the main excuse now for unsuccessful hunters. I mean, there are just so many other issues involved in why hunters are not successful, but the wolf is a lame excuse.-Carter Niemeyer

    • Ryan Says:

      Jon,

      You illistrate my point perfectly, you and Mike are the type of person that the wolf represents to many westerners. If wolves weren’t viewed as represented ultra Liberal city folk, then they wouldn’t be hated so much.

    • jon Says:

      I’m not liberal city folk Ryan. I guess you think that all wolf supporters are liberal city folk huh? Wolves will be hated by hunters/ranchers regardless of what kind of people stand up for them. That would be like me saying that all wolf haters are right wing extremist conservatives.

    • Ryan Says:

      Jon,

      You have me fooled, needless to say whether you live in the city or not, your know it all attitude/shove my values down other throats/putting yourself on a moral high ground is grating and seems to be trypical of the loudest wolf supporters.

      Put it in perspective, the wolf really vocal supporters came in, pushed their agenda, villanized whole groups of long time local citizens (ranchers, hunters, etc) , and talk down to those who don’t agree with them. The chances for compramise get smaller and smaller each day because of people like yourself.

    • jon Says:

      Compromise with wolf haters isn’t possible.

    • Save bears Says:

      Jon,

      I know a lot of people that say, compromise with wolf lovers is not possible..broad reaching statements are not in the benefit of either side..

    • jon Says:

      It works both ways sb. I don’t belief compromise is possible between the anti wolf side and the pro wolf side.

    • Save bears Says:

      Jon,

      Yes it does and as long as both sides feel this way, you are right as they are right, there is no compromise looming..

      But I can tell you small poll or large poll, the tide is turning to the negative, which I find very unfortunate…

    • Ryan Says:

      SB,

      Right or wrong, the origional ESA reintroduction population goals have been met. Every Lawsuit torelist them increases the rift IMHO. The feeling is, why make a deal with someone who won’t hold their side of the deal.

    • Save bears Says:

      Ryan,

      I agree the original goals of the the re-introduction has been met many times over, and frankly I am starting to get very disgusted with both side…

    • Ryan Says:

      SB,

      I’ve felt that not all wolves need to die, but population controls are needed to satisfy most users.

      I’m pretty much labeled as wolf hater now.

    • Save bears Says:

      No worries Ryan, it depends on the phase of the moon and the day of the week, how I get labeled!

      LOL

    • Harley Says:

      actually Ryan, right now you’re just mis-informed. Post on a hunting site and THEN you’ll be a wolf hater, no matter what you say! 😉

    • Ryan Says:

      I do post on hunting sites, Ahhh.

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      I’ve been gone a while, and am generally tired of wolf arguments anyway, but I would like to point out, once again, there NEVER was any “deal” about wolf numbers in the GYE and central Idaho to which anyone agreed, so no one is “going back on their word” when lawsuits are filed over bad agency decisions.

      This is one of the most stubborn wolf myths.

      RH

  17. jon Says:

    Lewiston, Idaho Tribune Poll Indicates Seriously Growing Animosity Toward Wolves
    August 2, 2010

    Yikes!! For those hoping to spread their beloved wolves from coast to coast across America, a recent poll conducted by Idaho’s Lewiston Tribune (subscription required), shows that 78% of respondents think wolf reintroduction has been a “fiasco” or even worse, they want the wolves all killed.
    Pay attention now wolf lovers. This is the result of your uncompromising insistence that all Americans be forced to swallow your wolf sickness. You have created this hatred toward the animal and now with your petition to cover the rest of the nation with wolves, that detestation to the predator will keep growing.
    The poll looked like this, from the information supplied to me:
    A scientific resolution filed with the federal government calls for reintroducing tens of thousands more wolves across the country. My reaction to this is …
    Great. Wolves are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem. – 10% – 36 votes
    It might be a good idea, but it needs more study. – 3% – 11 votes
    OK, but where are you going to put them? Their historical habitat is gone. – 9% – 32 votes
    That’s insane. Wolf reintroduction in the Northwest is already an ongoing fiasco. – 35% – 125 votes
    We don’t need no more stinking wolves. Kill ‘em all. – 43% – 151 votes

    • pointswest Says:

      Yeah…I’ll bet this slap in the face by reality comes as quite a shock to many of the dreamy little dreamers on this blog.

      I’m telling you, the best bet for wolf preservation or grizzly preservation is more and bigger National Parks and then to try and keep these preditors in the Park while also trying to protect visitors in the Park.

    • jon Says:

      That is a small poll and most know that there are wolf haters pw. That is nothing new. This poll isn’t a shock to anyone.

    • jon Says:

      That is unrealistic. You can’t keep predators in a park. They should be allowed to roam. If they are caught in neighborhoods, they should be returned to the wild.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      jon and all,

      Every day I become more convinced that where wolves live, what they do, whether they eat a lot of cows or none at all, harm elk herds or help them makes no difference to those people who are using wolves as psychological displacement. There are quite a few of these folks. There always are. The only difference is what they displace their anger on.

      Psychological displacement is a fancy word for someone who hits their kid because they don’t dare hit their boss, missed a shot because they didn’t practice shooting and can’t admit to themselves the reason, or worse, want to kill something because they couldn’t get it up for their girlfriend.

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      Pointswest,
      Most true statistical polls have hovered around 70% approval for wolf reintroduction, give or take. Logging onto a newspaper website for a poke-button reader poll is hardly an accurate reflection of public sentiment.

    • jon Says:

      We don’t need no more stinking wolves. Kill ‘em all. – 43% – 151 votes

      Given that that was one of the choices in the poll, it isn’t outlandish to think this poll was created by someone who dislikes wolves.

      If we relied on people who dislike wolves to determine if wolves were going to be reintroduced, no wolves would be in that state. We had decades to learn from our past experiences and change our attitudes toward wolves and most of us have, but we still have the same wolf haters today that were responsible for their extirpation from Idaho, WY, and MT all those years ago. it doesn’t amaze me how some hunters are so anti-predator.

    • WM Says:

      I was up in the Sawtooth country this past week and a couple days. All the way from Lowman (Payette River drainage) on the West to Stanley (Salmon River), down to Hailey (south of Ketchum). My purpose was a couple of backpacking trips, and taking photos with my wife, but we stayed at a motel in Lowman, bought gas, goodies and had a meal in Stanley and even stayed in a campground at Altarus Lake one night. Then drove down to the Mountain Home area where some of my wife’s family has lived for at least the last fifty years.

      All the way, when an opening in casual conversation arose in a store, restaurant or motel, and even a grocery store, I asked, “what is going on with the wolf situation around here?” or words to that effect. The responses were diverse, sometimes elusive and diplomatic, and other times candid. My general impression from these comments was that the situation is tense, and heading negative, as some here have predicted for sometime. It is not just hunters, but general population, in the tourist industry or local businesses. They are not buying into the prospect of wolf tourism, that is for sure.

      I was most startled (sort of) when I asked the question of one of my wife’s cousins, who is a hay farmer near Mountain Home. He knows I am a hunter, but he thinks I am a raving environmentalist, and he is partially right. We were at the breakfast table. His eyes got narrow, and he just looked at me for a few seconds, that seemed like minutes. He is tall and rather imposing, with a resonant voice. Then he said, “Just why the hell would I want wolves around here? I raise hay for dairy farmers. They make cheese. I can see no good coming from this. Yeah, they’ll probably stay up in the mountains and not make it too close to here. But, it is those damn city people from either coast that are pushing this and they haven’t got a clue what it really means to the working rancher.”

      The room kind of went silent as about eight other people were listening, and I decided I better just concentrate on the remaining scrambled eggs and cantelope on my plate.
      It was obviously not a topic he wanted to discuss further.

    • pointswest Says:

      ++Most true statistical polls have hovered around 70% approval for wolf reintroduction, give or take. Logging onto a newspaper website for a poke-button reader poll is hardly an accurate reflection of public sentiment.++

      I understand that this is not a scientific pole and that it is a selctive rather than random sample but the 70% pole figures are national poles from people who hardly know the difference between a wolf and a fox and have no idea of the ramifications of wolf reintroduction. Also, even those who might be aware of wolf issues might be fine with wolves being reintroduced in the US as long as it is in someone else’s area and that they, themselves, are unaffected by it.

      It may be that as wolves move into other areas, that 70% approval statistic may start changing.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      ++Also, even those who might be aware of wolf issues might be fine with wolves being reintroduced in the US as long as it is in someone else’s area and that they, themselves, are unaffected by it.

      It may be that as wolves move into other areas, that 70% approval statistic may start changing.++

      Your analysis is alot like the illegal immigration issue. And of course that matter has changed a bit too, as impacts are felt locally by people who begin to be personally affected by it. Interesting how the public can weigh in on an issue, about which they know little and by which they are not personally affected, and then when they are how opinions can quickly change.

    • pointswest Says:

      I will have to disagree with the comparison to imagration policy. I now live in So Cal and have lived in Phoenix and there is a big difference between the two cultures.

      Here in So Cal, people do not care so much about imigration. They only want everyone to get a long. There are many more hispanics here than in Arizona. Hispanics are the majority in California public schools, for example. Los Angeles has an hispanic Mayor. People just want peace and harmony.

      I also lived in New Mexico and it is a similar situation. There are more hispanics in New Mexico and people just want to get along.

      Arizona is different. Arizona was not really developed until the turn of the 20th century and did not have much populaton until air conditioning and the the great canal projects brought water to Phoenix from the Colorado River. Mostly anglo-Amercans began migrating to Arizona in the later part of the 20th century. Arizona has a much higher proportion of anglo-Americans than either California or New Mexico and a Arizonans are blantantly rednecked an racist. They place no value on education or only some value on spritituality. I listened to whites calling hispanics “spics” all the time. Whites would be very rude and rejecting of hispanics harassing them out of resturants, parks, and other public places. They would work them like dogs. I lived in Chandler, part of Phoenix, and hispanics held a hispanic pride march there down Main Street. It reminded me of marches I’d seen in California in the late 60’s. Arizona is racist and hateful pure and simple. Don’t kid yourself.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      ++Here in So Cal, people do not care so much about imigration. They only want everyone to get a long.++

      I should have clarified. My comments are directed more at economic impacts and crime (and not racial issues). If I am not mistaken, California is flirting with insolvency, in part caused by added infrastructure costs which are tied to illegal immigrants and their progeny. Am I wrong on those points?

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      Pointswest

      ++I understand that this is not a scientific pole and that it is a selctive rather than random sample but the 70% pole figures are national poles from people who hardly know the difference between a wolf and a fox and have no idea of the ramifications of wolf reintroduction. Also, even those who might be aware of wolf issues might be fine with wolves being reintroduced in the US as long as it is in someone else’s area and that they, themselves, are unaffected by it.++

      We might soon see the reaction when wolves start moving within close driving distance to urban areas. If the wolves in the Methow establish themselves and spread throughout other areas in Washington, they will quickly be in areas where many Seattle area residents spend a significant amount of time, and/or have homes. Also, there is already speculation that lone wolves have made it as far as the east slopes of the cascades in Oregon, which will put them butt up against Portland and Eugene. It will provide an interesting barometer.

      My feeling is that short of 160 lb wolves jumping through windows and stealing children, support will remain in the majority.

    • WM Says:

      Daniel Berg,

      ++My feeling is that short of 160 lb wolves jumping through windows and stealing children, support will remain in the majority (expanding to new parts of WA).++

      I think you will see that Eastern WA will react very much in the same way as ID and MT. When wolf populations and distribution on the landscape are low, tolerance will be higher toward the novelty of having wolves. As populations increase, people with livestock and pets that may be affected by wolves will have only so much tolerance. The same will be true of elk/deer hunters.

      What will be interesting to try to understand is whether they will independently develop their own views, or will transfer the experiences (and apparently decreacing tolerances) of ID, MT and WY. I would not be one bit surprised to see the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation become more aggressive and politically active if WA goes beyond its Draft wolf management plan which seems to be hovering around 150 wolves state wide (There is already a push from a couple of scientist reviewers for upwards of 500, if I recall correctly from their solicited comments on the draft, which did not consider social carrying capacity – only habitat, discontinuous as it is.

      There will be tension between the urban I-5 wester WA population on the one hand supporting wolves, and Eastern WA and the locals living on Olympic Peninsula not being so enthusiastic over time.

    • pointswest Says:

      ++WM: If I am not mistaken, California is flirting with insolvency, in part caused by added infrastructure costs which are tied to illegal immigrants and their progeny. Am I wrong on those points?++

      Probably. California’s fiscal problems have not been blamed on illegals that I know of. The main fiscal crisis was due to a law passed by the Republican California Legislature which made it very difficult to raise taxes. There was a standoff about funding programs already in place when the recession hit. The legislature would not cut programs but would not or could not raise taxes either. Tax revenues then serverly slipped with the recession and the deficit soared.

      Many argue that illegals are good for the economy and for governments. They work for low wages and usually pay income tax. California has a state income tax. Illegals usually do not recieve government benifits, even though they pay income tax. They also pay sales tax and indirectly pay property tax via rents to landlords. So they work hard and pay taxes and do not recieve very many benifits.

      But I don’t really know. I am not an economist.

    • pointswest Says:

      ++they will quickly be in areas where many Seattle area residents spend a significant amount of time, and/or have homes.++

      Seattle is so spread out and sparsely populated and there is so much forest in so much of the city that it could support many wolves. Wolves could only create a few problems for ranchers and country dwellwer in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. They’ll be an unmitigated terror in Seattle. It will be interesting to watch.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      I know we are getting off point. Just to close the thought, illegal immigration also relies heavily on an underground economy where no income taxes are paid at all. For example, residential home roofing and other construction jobs which never get on the formal books, where unemployment insurance premiums or workers compensation premiums are paid into the state funds. A signficant amount of the pay of laborers goes back as
      “remittances” to the immigrant’s home country, and not back into the US economy, where the mulitplier effect would be felt creating new US jobs. In addition, illegals are largely in reproductive age groups, and having children – who are US citizens and who must be educated, or otherwise handled in the social and welfare systems. Think child protective services or welfar here, as examples. Some illegals also enter the school system as well. No significant tax revenues are generated from many of these agricultural job (or off the books jobs) means the state has to pony up the cost of education. No health insurance means kids and sick adults show up at hospital emergency rooms, the very most expensive health care and they cannot be turned away. Humanitarian, yes, but devastating to the hospital bottom line and that means paying public pays for these unfunded emergency services. We have a family friend, who was pretty high up in the LA County sheriff’s department (now retired about five years) who tells some pretty spine tingling stories about subsidized costs of handling illegals involved in crimes. Nobody wants to talk about this because it is perceived by some as politically incorrect. I won’t belabor the topic any more, here because it is off point.

      However, back to my original point. If you don’t see a problem, or are directly affected by it your opinion may be different than those who are in the middle of a problem. When the problem comes to you, your opinions can change quickly. So, if you have no wolves where you live, work or play, you may very well have a different opinion than those who do. That was all I was originally trying to say.

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      WM

      Sentiment will be against the wolves in some parts of Washington, no doubt about it. The Puget Sound will be for it which makes up the biggest voting block. The areas that are tough to gauge are the eastern slopes of the Cascades, which are no longer purely dominated by ranching interests. The Northeast part of the state will be dominated by the opinions of hunters and ranchers, as well as the southeast corner around the Weneha-Tucannon. Spokanistan is its own animal. The Olympic Peninsula will probably not be a factor because there is significant doubt whether a sustainable population over time can be introduced into the Olympics without a corridor to reach wolves outside of the NP. It is my opinion that wolves will most likely not establish themselves farther west than the western foothills of the cascades without significant human intervention.

      Sometimes Washington democrats like to cave on environmental issues in order to appease the right, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. One thing is for sure, things will get heated.

    • pointswest Says:

      WM…yes, there are costs and benefits to illegal migrants and analyzing those costs and benefits would make a great dissertation for a graduate student in economics. I will reiterate that illegals do pay taxes. The employer withholds taxes by law and virtually all employers are legal US citizens that uphold employment laws. Most, probably 85%, of illegal immigrants pay taxes via withholding by their employers. Few are paid under the table. Since illegal immigrants do not file tax returns and do not receive tax refunds, they pay more taxes than their legal counterparts. The employer also withholds social security and unemployment insurance that the illegal immigrant can never collect. In some cases, illegals pay for health insurance they can never collect and so subsidize the insurance companies.

      Schools are funded by property tax and illegals pay property tax by paying rents since landlords pass property tax along to renters (I happen to be a landlord). Other government services that an illegal might benefit from are funded via sales tax and illegals pay sales tax along with everyone else and yet do not get all of the benefits. Sales tax in California can be as high as 10.75%

      I agree that health insurance is an issue but most, something like 70%, of a person’s medical costs are incurred in the last three months of life. Illegals are not getting old and dying in American hospitals. A few might get a free trip to the emergency room when they fall through the floor of a dilapidated tenement building.

      Some illegal immigrants send money back to Mexico to family. I do not know the amount but their low pay also reduces the cost of many American products such as oranges and landscaping services and roofing. Many Americans send money overseas when they buy an $80,000 BMW.

    • WM Says:

      Daniel,

      For the most part, I will agree with you regarding the voting weight of the Puget Sound area. Make no mistake the Eastern slope of the Cascades from Twisp in the North to Goldendale and Carson on the Columbia in the south will weigh in (over time), probably with decreasing tolerance as wolf popululation grows. Again, the Draft Plan contemplates about 150 wolves, with translocation and a high level of compensation for livestock losses. If the numbers change, translocation is not utilized, or the handsome compensation program is not fully funded and implemented, that will change. The wolves will hang out where the elk are, and when elk numbers are affected and hunters believe their opportunities are negatively affected the behavior will not be unlike the NRM. The habitat is discontinuous in WA, and the human population is growing. Those are the big constraints. The State knows this, and it will be interesting to see how Wildlife managers negotiate this delicate balance, in the face of the four scientists who said the state could support a population of 500-600. I have said before, it will also be interesting to see how the Yakama Indians respond, with their large elk herds and livestock operations on the Reservation, when wolves show up. When a tribal member has trouble getting an elk, or looses a few sheep or cattle, you can be lethal control will not be far behind. As for guard dogs or non-lethal methods on the Rez., it ain’t gonna happen without huge cultural change and a bunch of hard work – unlikely in my view.

      And, Daniel, just to keep you honest on your comment: “… it is my opinion that wolves will most likely not establish themselves farther west than the western foothills of the cascades…” The habitat of much of the western foothills of the Cascades is not particularly productive elk or deer habitat, with even age forests and little browse or grass under closing canopies. Most of the logging was done in these areas over thirty years ago. The wolves will go where the elk and deer, and it is not the west foothills.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      Since you want to continue the dialog, the level of remittances (money sent home by illegals) has been hovering at about $50 billion a year until the last two years, and has dropped to something like $35B, still a large number. The $50B is the equivalent of the annual sales revenue of a Fortune 50 company (say Target, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Boeing, all of which employ between 100,000 – 300,000 employees). Again, it does not remain in the US economy where it is amplified by the multiplier effect, generating jobs here. I suppose one could call it form of indirect foreign aid.

      I grew up in Eastern WA, in the Yakima Valley area, which is largely agricultural. The influx of illegals there over the last fifteen years is huge, and the community (the same area that produced Justice William Douglas, astronaut Christine McCaullif, ski champions and the guy who invented the little plastic thing that closes up your bread sack) has changed significantly. It has been turned into a third world country. I don’t go back there very often. It saddens me greatly. Crime is high, education sucks, gang bangs and drive by shootings are common -often within the immigrant community, welfare is on the rise, and English is now the second language in the Social Security office (I know because I spent the better part of a day there taking care of some things following my mother’s recent death).

      The real question is by allowing illegals to enter, stay and reproduce we have added VERY significantly to the rate of population growth in the US. The birth statistics and population projections for the next fifty years prove this. This is translating into higher human numbers and densities that will affect wildlife – more houses and highways consuming more habitat, and more water. Decreased air and water quality. I don’t think the environmental ethic is very dominant in this new influx of illegal immigrant human population either, nor will it be.

      Those who benefit from the presence of illegals are not always those who endure the costs or impacts of their presence, and that is a huge part of the problem. It needs to be fixed, and an essential part of that is Mexico fixing its own problems to keep its young population. Migrant, work visas have worked in the past quite well.

      And, PW you might give some thought to your statement: …”Illegals are not getting old and dying in American hospitals.” No, not today, but you cannot roof, pick fruit or vegetables forever, and that is the problem. Just who do you think will be responsible for providing a financial safety net for those who need it once their working days are done, and as they age and need more medical services? These will be additional costs borne by US taxpayers in the future for additional health and welfare benefits. We will not be leaving these folks on the streets.

      So, once, so-called cheap labor will come back to bite us in the back side, as we mortgage our childrens’ futures yet again. This illegal immigration problem needs to be fixed soon. It is not just AZ. TX, CA, UT, CO, WA and a few states in the east and midwest are starting to feel the pinch.

    • pointswest Says:

      We should change the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty to read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. …well, unless you’re a fucking Mexican.”

      I lived in the Tri-Cities for about a year and have friends in Yakima. Before about 1970, all the blacks had to be out of Richland and Kennewick and across the bridge into Pasco by 10pm. Otherwise they would be arrested. It is the most racist place I have ever lived…worse than Phoenix. …and I’ve heard it is worse than the deep South.

      As to taxes and economics, I would suggest reading wikipedia since both sides are represented there and there are citations.

      I respectfully reserve the right to take exception to statements made but this is not the proper forum for discussion.

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      WM –

      Generally that might be true, but there might be enough elk in and around the upper skagit river valley to support a pack, in the foothills outside towns like Enumclaw, Carbonado, Greenwater, etc, and a couple of spots down South. I don’t know the dynamic between wolves and deer in that type of terrain but there seem to be plenty of deer around those areas as well.

      From what I’ve read, it appears that even the Lookout Pack in the Methow is living mostly off of the Mulie herd that is so predominant in the area. Their hunting ground follows the Mulies migration routes and I’m not sure how much they subsist on elk.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      ++We should change the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty to read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. …well, unless you’re a fucking Mexican.”++

      First, those who entered the US through Ellis Island (Statue of Liberty), have come to this country legally. That does not seem to be the case with a large number of recent immigrants who intend to stay, whether invited under our government quotas or not. There is also motivation to raise a family here because they know benefits will accrue to children born on US soil, and it makes it harder morally and legally to send them back to their country or origin.

      Second, you seemed to want to discuss immigration after I brought it up by analogy, stating that sometimes unless you are in the midst of an issue you tend not to be affected by it (wolves in rural areas affect people more than in urban areas; illegals in states/communities impact those areas and seem to elicit a response to counter the impacts because the federal government is incompetent to deal with it.

      Third, what started as a socio-economic impact discussion, got turned by you into a bogus racial issue.

      Fourth, what you observed in the Tri-cities Pasco area regarding Blacks was over forty years ago – there were lots of embarrassing moments throughout this country then before civil rights legislation, a number of which have been cured or at least gotten better. You brought up the topic to divert from the issue being discussed, which I find to be quite common on this forum.

      It looks like you have been taking “irrationality and distorted logic” lessons from jon on how not to discuss a topic. I find that curious because you say you are an engineer by training, if I recall correctly.

    • Harley Says:

      glad you addressed this one WM. I volleyed off a reply but I’ve recently changed my email so I think it got lost. Very nicely covered.

  18. pointswest Says:

    Something that is obvious to me that maybe most of you non-hunters do not understand is that many hunters are terrible whiners. The success rate for eld hunting is usually less than 30%. My family always did pretty well. My father, in particular, got an elk nearly every year he hunted, but we took hunting very seriously. We would scout areas before opening day. We would be out of the truck walking before dawn. We would walk far and for literally all day sometimes. We knew the country and the habits of elk very well. We would talk to other hunters.

    In talking to hunters, you would regularly speak to the whiner hunter who never so much as saw elk sign. It was obvious that they simply did not know very much about hunting and they would not work very hard to find elk. Once you got them going, the would whine and whine as to why there were NO elk and you could not make them stop.

    Back in the late 60’s and 70’s when I still lived in Idaho, the favorite excuse for there being no elk was the California hunters. The IDFG sold so many tags to out-of-state hunters that they, particulary the California hunters, were killing or, at least, scaring away all the elk. It was true, at the time, that many hunters were from out-of-state. You could tell from the license plates on the vehicles. However, most were road hunters who never got out of there truck and probably had little impact on elk herds.

    Another thing hunters whined about was the logging and road building in Island Park. I do believe the scale of clear-cutting and road building in Island Park seriously degraded the hunting. I personaly am still pissed at the Targhee National Forest for their 10,000 miles of roads that the logging didn’t even pay for, but at the time, there were many areas not yet affected by logging and road building. We still got elk. This did not stop the whiners. They whined and whined that logging had run all the elk up into the Park.

    Hunters whine and whine about these things if they fail to fill thier tags. Some would whine all the time. It made them feel better to blame their failure onto something else. All the elk are gone.

    There are those who will blame it on wolves. They are the perfect target for thier failure whether wolves are impacting elk herds or not.

    • jon Says:

      Some hunters do not want to accept responsibility that it is their own fault that they weren’t able to bag an animal, so ofcourse, the natural thing to do in their case is blame something like a predator for the reason why they failed to bag their animal.

    • pointswest Says:

      You are exactly right.

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      I’ve only hunted casually, usually just tagging along with friends while I was growing up in a rural community in the Cascade foothills since my father was not a hunter himself and I did not posess the means to get into it at a young age.

      It seemed to me like the hunters who had the most success were truly dedicated to it. It was usually one of, if not the main interest in their lives outside of work. I’m talking about guys who got maybe two or three weeks of vacation a year and used most of it to hunt, every year. They seemed to have fairly consistent success rates. Everyone outside of that category though seemed to struggle with any kind of consistency and many would become dismayed after a few years of zilch. I’m guessing those are the types most likely to whine and credit their lack of success to logging/predators/Californians etc.

  19. Harley Says:

    Jon~
    You’d be surprised I think at how some people would like to compromise. Every time someone tries however, they are shouted down by both sides, so why bother trying to raise a compromise position? Everyone feels that THEIR position is the right now and they see only what they want to see. I think there are a lot on both sides that crave a balance but because they see agendas being ‘crammed down their throats’ they turn hostile.

  20. WM Says:

    I have been away from the conversation for awhile out backpacking, and even talking to a few Idahoans about wolves. Predictably this conversation has lacked balance from the start, especially beginning with the distortions of the Laura Lindquist article, taking Scott Creel comments out of context and certain summary liberties with the 4 page press release from IDFG, which itself is a summary of alot of data from a number of WMU’s. Even after Mark Gamblin tries to clarify what the summary really says, jon, Mike and Salle, among others, try to make the story something that it is really not. That was predictible.

    Then to cap it off, here come the critics of hunter-whiners. This is interesting. Nobody mentions the behavior of rationalization about lack of success at nearly any endeavor. The concept of psychological displacement then becomes the explanation why some are not so happy with wolves.

    I think rationalization about why one does not succeed, whether it be not being selected for a job after an interview (you were more qualified than the other candidates), or striking out (because the umpire screwed you on a called pitch), or you missed the shot at that buck (because somebody must have dropped your rifle and the sights were off), is pretty common.

    While there may be some “psychological displacement” as Ralph describes it, I think there are some liberties taken with the definition here. There is, in fact, a perceived cause – effect relationship between the NEW presence of wolves and ungulate populations, behavior and condition.

    My understanding of psychological displacement, as Freud described it, is that some negative behavior is acted out, which is totally unrelated to the cause of the behavior. For example, you lost a job, so you kick the dog. Or, you had a bad game of golf so you yell at (smack) the kids around. Disgusting, and socially unacceptable, definitely!

    This is a bit different from not having a successful hunt and blaming it on out of state hunters, predators (wolves in this case), or somebody else aceing you out of your favorite hunting spot. These are all cause – and perceived effect examples. I am not sure they classify as psychological displacement.

    On the other hand acting out by lashing out at what you perceive is the cause – slashing the tires of an out of state hunter (in hopes they never return), shooting a wolf (bear or lion to reduce their numbers and hopefully their impact on elk populations), or kicking somebody else out of your favorite hunting spot (illegal harassment), are all behaviors you believe are responsible for your lack of hunting success. They, in fact, MAY BE cause – effect related.

    As to the study, and the Laura Lindquist mis-statements that started this discussion, it appears formally the jury is still out on the extent of wolf (other predator and habitat)effects on elk in specific wildlife management units in ID. But, according to IDFG they are, indeed, a substantial factor in elk populations in the Lolo and Sawtooth, at least, and maybe a significant factor affecting elk populations (if their numbers and distribution are not controlled to some extent) in other WMU’s yet to be formally studied.

    • JB Says:

      WM:

      I won’t way in on the topic of displacement (though it is an intriguing idea). What bothers me is the symbolism of wolves (and, to some extent, other predators). For many Westerners they are symbols of so-called “big government” and city slickers from NY and CA trying to tell us “what we can do with our land” (not quoting anyone in particular here, just paraphrasing).

      The “big government” argument disregards the fact that institutionalized federal killing of predators removed them in the first place. I’m sure no one was complaining about “big government” when all the grizzlies, wolves, cougars and coyotes were being killed. Nor do they complain about “big government” when the government doles out fat subsidies for livestock production, or provides hugely subsidized grazing on federal lands. Nobody complains about the ever-ballooning military budget–isn’t that “big government”. In reality, “big government” is just any federal action that Westerners don’t like.

      Similarly, the notion that wolves are some how being crammed down their throats by a bunch of NYs and Californians is also false. Our federal government is currently structured (through equal distribution of Senators) to actually FAVOR rural states’ interests. (I would love to sit down sometime with one of these individuals and show them the yearly budget for the Farm Bill vs. the ESA.) A related notion is that western states are being “ruined” by new transplants who all seem to come from the coasts. Yet, a study out of Colorado state a few years back showed a disproportionate number of new residents moving to the West came from the Midwest–not the coastal states. (This makes sense, if you live in Indiana, Colorado is pretty damn attractive. Not so much for an urban Californian living in San Francisco).

      Regardless, my sense is these misperceptions of fact (whether intentional, or not) are used to “cast” wolves in a very negative light (e.g.. by associating them with hated government).

    • WM Says:

      JB,

      You certainly won’t get an argument from me regarding the symbolism issue of “big government,” but it is not a replacment or substitue for the very real impacts wolves have on ungulates, or, by association, those who hunt them. I sometimes sense, actually I know, this issue is raised in an attempt to diffuse the latter.

      I lived in Northern Colorado during the first in-migration of humans in the late 70’s. The Fort Collins-Loveland SMSA (Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area) was the second fastest growing in the entire USA, only behind the Sarasota-Fort Meyers, FL. Most of the in-migration at that time was from CA, NY, NJ, and surprisingly NE and TX from my recollection. The high tech industry was the push with companies like HP, Kodak, Teledyne, NCR, followed contemporaneously by the quick buck developers, realtors and wheeler-dealer scam artists from the aforementioned places. Add to that the prospect of oilshale by the big oil interests. All those a–hole newcomers did alot of environmental damage, as they steamrolled over naive local governments and the state with promises that could not be fulfilled. Other high tech moved in nearly the full length of the Front Range as far south as Colorado Springs. And then, there was the mountain recreational development with lots of new ski areas going in, shortly to be followed by golf courses in those same areas as developers figured out they could get more bang for their condo development buck by expanding ski season into summer fun on the fairways between condos (yes, I was in Vail playing golf when I heard a distinctive cry of “Far out!” as a golf ball came whizzing by on the next fairway over, in only the way that John Denver could say it.

      JB, you would be surpised how many newcomers move to the West to escape the city -whether it be SF, NYC, Phili or Indianapolis. They just get fed up with it. A former boss of mine, a very bright think tank engineer at Arthur D. Little (MIT/Harvard) came to the West from Boston/Brookline to “escape.”

      Also, I certainly won’t argue about how welcome “big government” money or subsidies are when they show up, the product of politics, whether it is the West or elsewhere. I don’t think you can single out the West as having double standards in that area – everybody likes the free lunch. The problem arises when it is time to relieve the expectation to entitlement to it -whether it is a grazing subsidy, cropland, tobacco, milk or some other urban subsidy program that puts unearned money in the pockets of those who truly may not be deserving.

      As for the structure of government, maybe you should have a graveside conversation with the drafters of the Constitution. There was conscious design to have the higher of the two houses of Congress be based on 2 Senators per state. You could make the same arkane argument, equally compelling in my mind, that Delaware or Rhode Island should not have the same number of Senators as TX, CA, NY or AK, because they have neither the population, land area nor natural resources base as those states listed.

      The balance comes from the House of Representatives, and the method by which a President is elected.

      —-
      ++Similarly, the notion that wolves are some how being crammed down their throats by a bunch of NYs and Californians is also false. ++

      I will venture the folks who own/rent those ski area condos and play on the golf courses in CO or elsewhere in the West, have far more economic and political clout that some poor schmuck who moves in from Indiana or NE to find a wage earner job. The scenario of in-migration for recreation, escape, or whatever is being played out under the same general model, in places like Jackon, WY; Ketchum, ID, or Whitefish, MT, and even Deer Valley or Snowbird, UT.

      And, to respond to your last paragraph, falsely/wrongfully portraying wolves as a symbol of “big government” -shoved down your throat-imposed values, is a tactic we Americans often use to discredit issues or individuals. Any time we can get a short-hand hang tag directed to that objective, whether deserved or not, we use it. Think “Swiftboat Kerry”; “Wide-stance Larry Craig”; “Monkey Business Gary Hart”

      Unfortunately, this convenient tactic has killed careers and made deserving causes go away.

    • JB Says:

      WM:

      Certainly we are all subject to cognitive biases, my point was the claims being made by Westerns regarding “big government” are hypocritical, and the claims about changes in wildlife management being driven by outsiders are simply untrue. I found the abstract for the paper from CO I cited earlier:

      Zinn, H. & Manfredo, M. 1996. Population change and its implications for wildlife management in the New West: A case study of Colorado.l Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 1(3): 62 – 74.

      “Dramatic change is affecting wildlife management in the Rocky Mountain states. Evidence of this change is seen in new, “nontraditional”; interest groups who have become effective in influencing wildlife decisions. In a case study of Colorado, this paper examines four elements of population change that may be related to the changing climate for wildlife management in the West. Population increase has led to growing numbers of traditional consumptive recreationists using a diminishing land base. Also, population increase has been accompanied by growing participation in other outdoor activities and more contact and conflict between traditional and nontraditional recreationists. Migration to Colorado does not appear to have caused an influx of “new”; values; the wildlife value orientations of long-term and short-term residents are similar. Values do appear to be changing across generations. Compared to older age groups, younger age groups are more likely to be positive toward wildlife rights and wildlife welfare and negative toward wildlife use and hunting. Values also differ between urban and rural residents. Compared to rural residents, urban residents are more likely to be positive toward wildlife rights and wildlife welfare and negative toward wildlife use and hunting. These trends are likely to continue into the future and to exert strong effects on wildlife management.”

    • WM Says:

      JB,

      Interesting information in the abstract. Since both authors have ties to the Warner College of NR at CSU, and Manfredo has co-authored some earlier work with Bev Driver and Perry Brown (now Dean at U of MT), they must be good guys and know what they are doing. LOL.

      The reference to the conclusions on “animal rights and animal welfare” are particularly intriguing. It would be interesting to actually see the survey instrument.

    • Moose Says:

      “The balance comes from the House of Representatives, and the method by which a President is elected.”

      This is a whole other can o’ worms…when constitution was drawn up ratio of least populous state to most populous was 1:8, its now 1:68…founders also didn’t account for that recent wrench in the gears called “the filibuster”…theoretically, senators representing just 11% of the US pop can basicaaly stall any legislation Hose of Rep be damned.

  21. jon Says:

    http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=19780

    Many hunters can’t help but blame the wolves.

    University of Idaho Professor Oz Garten says they may have a point. Garten studied wolf and elk populations after wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s at Yellowstone.

    Garten: “I would argue that, in fact, wolves do have a pretty substantial impact, but the impact that they have is kind of complicated.”

    Garten says some of the same phenomena that happened at Yellowstone are coming true in Idaho.

    Garten: “The elk are changing their behavior and they are hanging out much more in the timber now and much less in the open areas. So that makes it harder for hunters to harvest them.”

    But harvest them they are. Garten and Jon Rachael from Idaho Fish and Game say, even though elk struggle in the Lolo region, they’re doing well in most of the rest of Idaho.

    Wolf advocates like Ralph Maughan say you wouldn’t know that by reading hunting blogs. Maughan is a retired Idaho State University professor who writes his own blog about wildlife management issues. He says some hunters are exploiting the Lolo elk survey to whip up anti–wolf sentiment.

    Maughan: “The wolf issue really isn’t over wolves. It’s really over a social and cultural conflict. That’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter how many facts the sides put out on this. It’s not going to change most peoples’ minds because they’re really angry about something else.”

  22. Nancy Says:

    WM said: He is tall and rather imposing, with a resonant voice. Then he said, “Just why the hell would I want wolves around here?

    Got the same response from a neighbor/rancher up the road this past spring, only he got alittle more specific and said” They should never have brought wolves back, we got rid of them once” He’d had a couple of depredations by wolves over the last few years.

    And since most ranchers hate crows, ravens, eagles, coyotes, badgers, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, elk, moose, deer and anything, that might resemble a weed – I choose not to engage him in a discussion about wildlife rights in whats left of wilderness areas although he and the other ranchers in my area, have no problem taking advantage of the incredibly low rates available, when they push their product (beef) up to public lands – ie – wildlife areas for a few months.

    • Harley Says:

      Nancy, are you a vegetarian?

    • jon Says:

      Farmers are some of the worst people around and I say this because A LOT of wildlife has been killed to benefit them and it’s disgusting. The hell with welfare ranchers!

    • WM Says:

      jon,

      Since you are so pius and opinionated about a way of making a living across this entire country, just what do you do to pay the rent, sport?

    • Elk275 Says:

      Jon

      Not all farmers are welfare ranchers and a farmer is not a rancher. Some ranching and farming practices might not be the best for wildlife, but I and everyone else likes to eat. There does need to be corrective practices.

      Twenty years ago I traveled overland from Cape Town to Malawi. Cape Town had some of the finest food that I have eaten and I could not eat everything available — I love to eat good food. Each day I travel north food decreased in quality and quantity. By the time I had arrived in Malawi the food supply was very limited and the quality very poor. One night all I could get to eat was bowl of questionable rice. I tasted it, pushed it away and said “I can’t eat this shit”. Another traveler said “Hey mate wait to you get to the Congo, there is no food up there, bugs are the only food and maybe a bowl of rice if you could find it” With my ok, he pull the bowl in front of him and ate the rice with his fingers. I told him that I was not going any farther north. Food was scare the entire time I was in Malawi. On the South African Airways to Joberg, the flight attendant fed me three trays of airline food.

      Jon, do you know your farmer?

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Nancy –
      “I choose not to engage him in a discussion about wildlife rights in whats left of wilderness areas……”
      To help me better understand your comments in this thread, should your quote above be taken literally – i.e. wildlife rights?

    • Ryan Says:

      Why don’t you take 5.00 and buy a clue..

      Also where the fuck do you get your food from, I bet its not manna from heaven?

    • Ryan Says:

      The above comment is addressed to Jon.

  23. Harley Says:

    Jon
    What an ignorant statement to make. I take that rather personally since there are A LOT of farmers in my family. Farmers, the ones I know, my kin and their neighbors, are some of the warmest most giving people I’ve ever known.

    • jon Says:

      It’s true, farmers have been getting away with murder for years and a lot of wildlife has died because of them. I am sorry harley, but it’s the truth. Farmers have done a lot of damage to wildlife over the years and many people are disgusted by it. This is a wildlife blog, not a blog dedicated to farmers, so you can expect those who are passionate about wildlife to be disgusted with farmers and the role they play in being responsible for the killing of much wildlife.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      jon,

      It is probably wise to separate those engaged in agriculture into different groups. For example, by the crop they grow, size of their farm, the practices they employ, and much more.

      Furthermore, farmers are not ranchers, although ranchers might also be farmers. Most beef is not produced by ranchers either.

      Then too, you can never ignore the overwhelming dominance of ag giants like ConAgra and Monsanto in pushing farmers to do or not do something.

    • jon Says:

      Fair enough Ralph.

    • Harley Says:

      Thanks Ralph, appreciate that distinction. My relatives in Minnesota, south eastern portion of the state and in Iowa, north central, do not belong to any kind of huge co-op. They are family farmers that are actually being slowly choked to death by the bigger mega farms. They do NOT believe in the whole welfare deal, they struggle through lean years on their own, thank you very much.

    • pointswest Says:

      jon…I do not usually defend grazing on public land but in many instances it has little impact on elk or deer populations. Deer, elk, and cows all have different diets. They do not eat the same plants always.

      There is overlap. Both cows and elk will graze grass but both deer and elk browse shoots, leaves, and seed heads that cows do not eat. Some wildlife guy told me once that in Island Park, there is about a 30% overlap of food between cattle and elk. That means 70% of what a cow eats, an elk does not eat.

      More importantly, the limiting factor in elk populations in the Yellowstone area is usually the winter range. Most grazing of livestock is in the summer range and there is an abundance of summer range. There are exceptions but generally, for a few brief summer months, deer, elk, and cows are all up to the bellies in feed. All the high country grows grass and leafy plants and brush and there is millions of acres of high country. Cattle and sheep are moved off these summer ranges in the fall so they do not interfere with deer and elk in the fall and winter.

      If you want to increase elk and deer numbers, I would look at replacing or enhancing their winter range. …in general.

    • Cobra Says:

      Jon,
      I doubt you would last a day on a farm or ranch. Most I know work their ass off and I grew up doing both. I ‘m really getting tired of all your bullshit about farming, ranching and hunting when you haven’t a clue about any of it. When’s the last time you went on a hike or camping or have seen any kind of wildlife including wolves. You can’t believe everything you read on the web. Try going out and getting some real experience. I was on the fence about wolves and have enjoyed seeing and hearing them, even if they’ve screwed up some hunts but anymore I’m not so sure. Before you call me another typical whiner, from the time I started hunting big game, about 38 years ago I’ve maintained at least a 95% success rate. We work hard for our game and have been successful wolves or no wolves.

    • pointswest Says:

      See…I’m right about the hunter-whiner thing. Every hunter knows what I’m talking about and dreads being called a whiner. 🙂

  24. WM Says:

    …or mortgage?

  25. jon Says:

    Making a living at the cost of wildlife being killed.

    • WM Says:

      jon,

      Mark Twain said travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. You might take something away from this maxim.

      Step away from the computer for awhile, travel this vast country and actually see how people go about making a living in farming or ranching. It is not all mega-corporations and welfare ranching as some here would have you believe.

      There are honest family run businesses across the West and this entire country that run the full spectrum of very large to small, and there are some damn good people who operate them, just as there are some jerks and crooks, as there are in every walk of life.

      Excuse the candor, here jon. You are a bigot.

    • jon Says:

      I get what you are saying, but sadly, that doesn’t change the fact that farmers are responsible for the destruction of wildlife. Wildlife is killed to benefit them.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      jon –
      Consider: the choices our society (citizens and elected leaders) will be making – energy development, adequate food, employment, abundant water for a growing human population – and each choice will affect wildlife, wildlife habitat, open space, clean water and air – and, the public (farmers, factory workers, students, unemployed parents) will ultimately determine HOW those choices are made. Do you think that trying to understand and respect the needs, desires and values of all members of our society could be essential to helping THEM understand the value of wildlife to their lives?

    • Cobra Says:

      Jon,
      Many farmers actually increase habitat and feed for wildgame. Big Game, ducks, geese, all upland game etc. etc. etc. all have benefited from farmers. There’s a lot of predators that benefit as well. Predatory birds, foxes, coyotes, skunks, racoons, etc. etc. etc.

    • pointswest Says:

      Cobra…I have read many times that there or more whitetail deer in the US today than before European migration. I believe there are also more coyotes, foxes, and racoons. There are certainly more phesants since they are an import from China. There is a lot of wildlife that does better in farmland.

    • Erin Barca Says:

      pointswest, there are more of these smaller predators in general.

      The Rise of the Mesopredator:

      http://www.lordsofnature.org/documents/MesopredatorsBioScience.pdf

      “The findings, published today in the journal Bioscience, found that in North America all of the largest terrestrial predators have been in decline during the past 200 years while the ranges of 60 percent of mesopredators have expanded. The problem is global, growing and severe, scientists say, with few solutions in sight. …

      “The economic impacts of mesopredators should be expected to exceed those of apex predators in any scenario in which mesopredators contribute to the same or to new conflict with humans,” the researchers wrote in their report. “Mesopredators occur at higher densities than apex predators and exhibit greater resiliency to control efforts.”

    • Ken Cole Says:

      Erin, that’s interesting, and I’ve heard it before but it brought a question to mind about whether there has been any study regarding how top predators affect the damage that mesopredators cause to certain industries.

      I wonder if anyone has looked at the overall impact of wolf introduction on something like livestock depredations by mesopredators. Has their been any perceptible effect on this or not? It would be interesting to see the results of such an investigation.

    • Erin Barca Says:

      Ken,

      The above research article briefly touches upon this issue under: Trade-offs inherent to predator management. I would be keenly interested in seeing such a study done, myself.

      In Outdoor Idaho’s documentary “Wolves in Idaho” there is a segment with sheep rancher John Faulkner. The narration goes as follows:

      “Coyotes used to be the big problem, but wolves are natural enemies of coyotes and will displace them from an area.” It cuts to John Falkner: “We used to have a hell of a lot of coyotes and they used to be a hell of a big problem. We would lose as high as 300 lambs a year to coyotes, in about 2½ to 3 months. When we got the dogs in if we lose 30 I think it’s a bad year.”

      The narration credits wolves, whilst Faulkner credits an effective non-lethal technique.

      There is a study you are probably also well aware of (the lead author being Dr. Kim Murray Berger) that found coyote densities are more than 30% lower in regions shared with wolves. As coyotes tend to kill many more livestock than wolves, and of course minding that all predator-caused livestock death is a fraction of all loss, it seems likely that wolves are more beneficial to ranchers than many seem to currently figure.

  26. Rita K. Sharpe Says:

    Does it really matter,Harley,whether Nancy is a vegetarian or not?Would her opinion mean any more or less if she was?

    • Harley Says:

      hmm, it wouldn’t mean any more or any less but I’ve found that people who are vegetarians tend to vilify the beef/meat industry as a whole. Vegetarians sometimes, not always, tend to take the opposite side of the ranching/farming community. I think too it was the way she said that ranchers ‘push’ their product. I also find that a lot of people who support wildlife are very much against ranchers and farmers. Jon is an example of that.
      See, I see the other side of that. I see farmers struggling to make a living, to put a meal on the table, against all odds, both natural and not natural. You all talk about the ‘other side’ as being one sided and blind sided and having tunnel vision but you know what? There are a lot of those over here too. That whole, pot calling the kettle black and such.

    • jon Says:

      Maybe so Harley, but someone who is passionate about wildlife sees them as people who are responsible for the destruction of wildlife.

    • Harley Says:

      I think perhaps Jon you need to take WM’s advice. There are many people I know who are passionate about wildlife. Not one of them would ever, ever damn all farmers in one fell swoop. Not a one of them.

  27. Nancy Says:

    Sorry I didn’t get back to your question last night Harley (I rented a copy of the Cove and wanted to watch it)

    Plain and simple, I don’t eat meat. I started steering away from it a few years ago when information surfaced about how livestock is processed – the arsenal of drugs used to quickly fatten not only beef, pigs and chickens but the antibiotics used to keep them healthy til they were slaughtered. Then I started looking into factory farms and stockyards and its shameful how these animals are treated – like a “product” rather than living, breathing beings.
    I know I’ve mentioned the movie before on this site, Earthlings, and it is a radical look at how many humans treat animals, but no different than radicals wanting to put an end to wars.

  28. Kropotkin Man Says:

    Here’s a link to a site centered around the “urban farming” movement.

    http://www.cityfarmer.info/

    There are many, many projects coming into operation around the globe. No one solution will serve the entire world but there are efforts being made to answer (avoid) some of the concerns expressed above.

  29. Nancy Says:

    Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:
    August 2, 2010 at 6:57 PM
    Nancy –
    “I choose not to engage him in a discussion about wildlife rights in whats left of wilderness areas……”

    To help me better understand your comments in this thread, should your quote above be taken literally – i.e. wildlife rights?

    Mark, is that not an attitude more than a few people share on this site? This rancher is in his late 70’s, his father witnessed (and may well have participated in) the extermination of what was left of the wolf population in this part of Montana.
    Its only been in the last 20 years or so that experts, in fields like biodiversity, have been been able to convince “mankind” of the overall importance of predators when it comes to balance of wilderness areas.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

      Nancy –
      I wouldn’t presume to characterize anyone’s attitude or philosophy on “animal rights”. Which is why I ask you – respectfully. There are many reasons to support and promote wildlife conservation. The novel concept of wildlife having “rights” in the same context of human rights in our society is neither necessary to demonstrate the value and necessity of wildlife conservation nor is it without serious liabilities to the purpose and objectives of wildlife conservation.

  30. Linda Hunter Says:

    Erin Barca thank you for bringing up the Mesopredator issue. It is a complex one. Someone mentioned wolves in Seattle . . that would be interesting. Think about all the mesopredators which have had their way with the green areas there for years. . think about all the Canadian geese, the skunks, the raccoon infestation and then picture a pack of wolves cruising around at night . . I wonder how people in Seattle would react. Perhaps they would welcome the outcome. Their may be more worry there about rabies and animal borne disease than we think, and a pack of wolves could eat real well there. I think Jon Way’s studies of urban canines shows that if they are not seen, wild canines can do a good job in an urban setting. My over active imagination pictures the people of Seattle championing their wolf pack . . making way for them to operate and protecting them, keeping track of them and making a lot of money as people to come to try and get a glimpse of them. I hear you all saying how impossible that is. . . and such nonsense. . maybe, maybe not. 🙂

    • pointswest Says:

      I think there will be problems with wolves killing family dogs. As I’m sure most know, wolves view dogs as territorial rivals and will seek out and kill dogs as thier wolf pack forms or tries and establish new territory with boundaries for themselves. There was a story a few years ago of a bear hunting guide who had all of his expensive hound dogs attacked by a wolf pack near Buffalo Hump in Idaho. According to the hunting guide, the wolves tried to kill him but he was saved by one of his dogs. I believe all of his dogs were attacked with most killed and the attacking wolf pack apparently considered him to be part of the rival pack of dogs. It shook him up pretty bad and he said he was done with the hunting guide business.

      So much of Seattle is sparsely populated and forested that wolves will inevitably try and claim suburban areas as their territory and will come after all of the dogs. What if they behave towards some human who might have three or four dogs as they did with this hunting guide in Idaho? What if they associate a human with a rival pack?

      I do not mean to use “scare talk” but I am not very optimistic about the suburbanites of Seattle embracing wolves and being happy about them running through their sparse neighborhoods.

    • Linda Hunter Says:

      Hummm .. killing domestic dogs and cats too. . . well I love dogs and cats most of the time, and I hate to mention this but we have way too many of them. Dog shit as a matter of fact is becoming a huge factor in sanitation. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we kill a bunch of them but perhaps people would not be so quick to get a dog if they had to be vigilant about the dog. We certainly could use a reduction.

    • Erin Barca Says:

      There is a lot to be said about responsible pet care. Wolves would be just one more reason, one of many reasons, not to allow pets to roam unsupervised. For the well being of our pets, but also for the well being of various species of wildlife –

      Impacts of free-ranging domestic cats (felis catus) on birds in the United States: A review of recent research with conservation and management recommendations:

      http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/impacts_of_free_ranging_domestic_cats.pdf

      If one has a fenced backyard and is concerned about wolves or coyotes leaping in for a snack, or even if one is concerned about their own canid escape artist, please review the demonstration video for the “Coyote Roller”:

      http://www.coyoteroller.com/home

    • pointswest Says:

      Many people who live on the outskirts of a metro area like Seattle have an acre or two and might goats, lamas, geese, colts, rabbits, along with their dogs and cats. There are probably thousands of these animals.

      There will probably never be more than a few hundred wolves in the Seattle metro area. So for these few wolves, thousands of people will not be able to keep the animals they want or will be burdened with substantial costs to protect them. We are talking about thousands of people with thousands of domesticated animals vs a few dozen wolves.

      Please help me understand the ethics of wolves in the Seattle area.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Erin Barca,

      That “Coyote Roller” is a very clever idea! Thanks.

    • Linda Hunter Says:

      Ya know I brought up wolves in Seattle as kind of a joke. . I never suspected it would get to be such a serious discussion. I just thought that for all the times I have heard people who live in rural areas claim that it is only people who live in cities and don’t have to put up with the realities of living with wolves who support them . . and what if there were wolves in Seattle and people liked having them there. I see from some of these posts that there are people who don’t think that is so impossible.

    • jon Says:

      Linda, there are some pro wolf supporters who live in ID, WY, and Mt. Nancy, Salle, Jerry Black, Ralph, Ken Cole, Marc Cooke, etc who are all posters on here live in either of those states. Marc Cooke has a farm I believe in MT and he sees wolves around his farm all the time and welcomes them. The people who generally are “affected” by wolves are hunters, outfitters, and ranchers. If I lived in either of those states, I would not be affected by wolves. I don’t hunt, so I could careless about them eating elk because eating elk is what they are supposed to do. I would actually like the idea very much of seeing wolves and hearing them howl. The ignorance of the wolf haters to assume that all wolf supporters don’t live in states that have wolves.

    • pointswest Says:

      I want to see wolves preserved forever but fear the extreme animal rights people will try and get them into areas like the Seattle metro and turn people against them. My view is that we need to set some large areas aside for them so they do not get into trouble with humans.

      I think it is a dream to believe they can simply multiply and return to their former range but this is exactly the dream of many who post here.

  31. WM Says:

    PW,

    ++So much of Seattle is sparsely populated and forested that wolves will inevitably try and claim suburban areas as their territory and will come after all of the dogs.++

    Exactly where are these sparsely populated areas in Seattle that wolves might inhabit if given the chance?

    • pointswest Says:

      ++Exactly where are these sparsely populated areas in Seattle that wolves might inhabit if given the chance?++

      It is not exactly anywhere but could be anywhere on the outskirts of the city where there are hills and forests where human densities are very low. Examples might be east of Enumclaw or in Maple Valley or in the Arlington Heights area….there are dozens of low density suburbs around the Seattle metro that are up against wild areas. Wolves might try and move into any or all of these areas in time…if allowed to.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      So you are really talking about the greater Puget Sound area. Seattle itself is basically isolated with water to the east (Lake WA), Puget Sound to the west and high urban density to the north and south. Enumclaw, which is about thirty miles to the southeast is low density suburbia, a bunch of ranchettes and a few elk/deer. Arlington is tirty to forty miles to the north, and Maple Valley southeast across two mile wide Lake Washington. None is exactly Seattle, and from my knowledge doesn’t have much of a prey base to support wolves. So, I am going to guess the WA wolf coordinator would, at least, have raised eyebrows at your prediction.

      Indeed, dogs and cats would be at risk if wolves made a serious in-migration west of the Cascades, which I think is not real likely because of a spotty natural prey base. I don’t really know the density comparisons, but it is just not that good of habitat for ungulates on the west side of the Cascades. Yes, a few deer and elk, but nothing like the east side (resembling parts of MTand ID with timber and rolling hills), Mt. Adams area, the Olympic Peninsula in ONP, or parts of the coastal strip.

      Out of curiousity, I would love to see the human reaction to wolves in an urban/suburban setting, as well. Lets start with Minneapolis/St. Paul or Boulder, CO, as the first experiments.

    • pointswest Says:

      Of course…I was talking about the suburbs of the Seattle metro area.

      I think there are a lot of deer in the burbs around Seattle. There are so many that they are considered pests and people are forced to put up deer fences if they want to have a garden. There are elk too. They have a big problem with elk on the highways. But once wolves are in the outskirts of a large metro area like Seattle, they can start predating domesticated animals pets.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      Forgive me for the candor here, but I think you are playing a bit fast and loose with your prognostications about wolves being successful bascially, under any circumstances, east of the Puget Sound metro area. There are not, let me repeat, there are not alot of elk in this area. The largest population from what I understand from WA Div of Wildlife is GMU 460 which is north of I-90 to its northern boundary at Hiway 2. It extends west to the foothills and east to the Cascade Divide. It has a total of about 500 elk, yes TOTAL, and the hunting opportunities are very limited, including a 3 pt min. for bulls in the general rifle season (also very limited for archery and muzzleloader). The other GMU 400 and 500 series numbered units on the west side of the Cascades similarly have comparatively low elk populations (exceptions would be as you get closer to Mt. Rainier in the Green and White River drainages many miles away from the metro area). Deer populations in the Metro area are really not that high either, once again limited by vegetation type. The big herds of elk and larger populations of deer are East of the Cascades – the Yakima herd being something like 12,000 animals, or skirting the Columbia in the transition from west to east – Adams in the South, and the Blue Mountains, in the SW corner.

      A few elk or deer taunting the gardeners of these communities, or getting hit on a road is simply not strong and convincing evidence of a sustainable prey base for many wolves. Even augmenting this with the occasional llama, pony on those rural ranchettes, or a domestic dog or cat won’t be enough to support a dozen wolves, let alone the larger numbers you speculate on.

      And, just to add some authority/legitimacy to what I have stated above, WA Div. of Wildlife used four different models to assess suitable wolf habitat (some using vegetation as a proxy for available prey). It appears most show a wide barren strip running along east of Puget Sound to near the summit of the Cascades. The Division, however, did not specifically speculate on whether wolves would be successful in inhabiting what they called the “Puget Sound Lowlands.” It is silent on the topic, and for good reason.

      My prediction: Wolves in Western WA near the suburbs east of Puget Sound just will not happen – ever. There is neither the prey base nor the social tolerance for this to occur. But, hey I am open to experiments and would love to be proven wrong on this point.

    • pointswest Says:

      I have many friends in the area. I think the forests on the west slope of the Cascades are very dense and the undergrowth so thick that it is poor elk habitat and moderate deer habitat (supposed to be great for bigfoot). Elk are, after all, mostly a plains animal. The wide valley bottoms of the Puget Sound area that have been cleared for patures and farmland are another story, however. They are very good whitetail habbitat and there is a growing problem with elk in these same areas. Because these area are privite and rural/residental there is little or no hunting. I just read a story where they have opened an archery hunt in some of the rural/residential areas to rid them of the troublesome elk.

      You are correct that I do not know all of the facts but I do know there are many deer on the outskirts of Seattle and some elk.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      ++The wide valley bottoms of the Puget Sound area that have been cleared for patures and farmland are another story, however. They are very good whitetail habbitat and there is a growing problem with elk in these same areas.++

      PW, …..Pay close attention to the term “Puget Trough” used later in this response. It is the area you describe above. I confine this only to the east side of the Sound, because that is the area you described earlier.

      You are exceptionally talented at pumping sunshine up the butts of the gullible and unknowing, which is sometimes pretty easy on this forum. There are very, very few (if any) whitetail deer in Western WA. There is no hunting season for whitetail deer in Western WA.

      If you do not believe me here is the 2010 Game regulation, specifically pages 16-20.

      http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/huntregs2010.pdf

      As for elk:
      There might be a small localized elk – small time suburbia problem here and there, say up the Nooksack or Skagit in the north; east near North Bend, or southeast of Auburn (which are all a long way from metro Puget Sound). I bet in total it doesn’t involve more than 50-100 elk. There simply are not that many. The entire Nooksack herd is 600 animals. I know this for certain as I have visited these areas for decades, and having lived in or near Seattle for a portion of my life.

      I don’t know how else to say it and make you believe it. But, here is one more source you might consider. From page 79 of the WA Draft Wolf Management Plan, after discussion of where the elk are in the state, the text goes on to say, “Elk are largely absent from a sizable portion of the state, much of the Columbia Basin, much of the North Cascades,…..and the Puget Trough (Figure 9).”

      And then, PW, there is Figure 9, which shows a big white barren strip east of Puget Sound to the foothills which shows the “Puget Trough,” and marks the range of the Nooksack and North Rainier herds, which are the closest at about thirty-forty miles away at the eastern fringes of Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties. Check it out, if you don’t believe me.

      You really need to educate yourself, or get friends who are more reliable data sources. Sorta makes me wonder how much more sunshine you have been pumping on other topics.

    • pointswest Says:

      You are now insulting me and trying to discredit me by putting up a few documents and statisitcs. But I still stand by everything I’ve said. I will respond to several key points.

      1. I only spoke of the outskirts or suburbs of Seattle. You are the one who plays games with the naming of geographical areas.

      2. There is no deer hunting in Los Angeles but there are many areas with many deer. There are many deer in the Santa Monica mountains for exmpale. I see them all the time when I go hiking there. I saw many when I was working on the Griffith Observatory Restoration and Expansion. You often see deer off the I405 going over Sepulveda Pass. There are deer in the San Gabriel Mountains. The JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories) campus has dozens of deer that graze the lawns and are practially pets. I would see them all the time when I worked there. There is no hunting these deer either. You can check the California hunting regulations…NO HUNTING IN LOS ANGELES. No hunting, however, does not mean no deer bcause I have seen them with my own two eyes.

      3. There is blacktail deer hunting in Western Washington. You are splitting hairs. There is little difference between blacktail and whitetail deer. I said whitetail but there may also be blacktail deer in he Seattle metro. I honestly do not know if one or both are in the Seattle metro. I always assumed blacktail were confined to the coast. Maybe I am wrong but it is a fine point and almost irrelevant to the discussion.

      4.) I lived in the Northwest and have visited Seattle many times. I go there on business and was there as recently as 2008. I here of people talking about deer all the time. I have seen deer there in fields.

      5.) I never said there was a lot of elk. I said there was elk.

      I still stand by the things I’ve said. You are welcome to put up all of the documents and statisitics you wish and you can even call me names. I do not think it will help your case.

    • pointswest Says:

      See all the photos of deer at JPL here in Los Angeles…

      More deer at JPL

      These are obviouly fake photos because I checked the California Hunting regulation and there is NO DEER HUNTING in Los Angeles and, thus, can be no deer.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      First, let’s get this straight. I didn’t “call you a name.” I used a humorous metaphor to describe what many would see as your effort to convey incorrect information.

      Second, there is a finite genetic distinction, and many behavior differences between whitetail deer and blacktail deer. That is why there are different seasons or lack of seasons for each species. Take it up with WA Div. of Wildlife. It is not my argument.

      Third, thirty to forty miles out from a metro area is not really the metro area. You seem to expand it as we discussed the topic. No difference, you are still wrong.

      Fourth, you made a very bold assertion about availability of large numbers of both deer AND elk, which are simply not true.

      Fifth, you seemed to speak with authority, as you have on other subjects (call it the know-it-all syndrome, if you wish). And, coincidentally you were just plain wrong the facts, so I felt compelled to counter your statement with references so people can make up their own minds. There is enough inaccurate information floating around here; we don’t need more. It was that simple.

      And, by the way, I didn’t say there were no deer, but probably not so many to support many wolves (hundreds to dozens, I think were your words) in addition to existing predators and the hunting of blacktails (which there are a fair number in this limited habitat, but not alot). And that is sort of where your assertion began – pets and all.

    • pointswest Says:

      ++WM writes: First, let’s get this straight. I didn’t “call you a name.” I used a humorous metaphor to describe what many would see as your effort to convey incorrect information.”

      I did not say you called me a name, I said you insulted me and that you can call me names but it won’t help your case. I think telling someone that, “you are exceptionally talented at pumping sunshine up the butts of the gullible and unknowing,” is an insult and name calling usually follows closely behind insults.

      ++WM writes: Second, there is a finite genetic distinction, and many behavior differences between whitetail deer and blacktail deer. That is why there are different seasons or lack of seasons for each species. Take it up with WA Div. of Wildlife. It is not my argument.++

      I do not doubt this statement a bit but it is almost irrelevant to the discussion. Your implication that that I dispute this, in addition to being irrelevant, is misleading and disingenuous.

      ++WM writes: Third, thirty to forty miles out from a metro area is not really the metro area. You seem to expand it as we discussed the topic. No difference, you are still wrong.++

      I didn’t expand a thing.

      (from dictionary.com)

      met•ro•pol•i•tan   

      –adjective

      1. […]

      2. of or pertaining to a large city, its surrounding suburbs, and other neighboring communities

      You can also read how wikipedia defines the Seattle Metro area…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_metropolitan_area

      ++WM writes: Fourth, you made a very bold assertion about availability of large numbers of both deer AND elk, which are simply not true.++

      Can you look up through my above posts and point to where I made these, “bold assertion about availability of large numbers of both deer AND elk.” I only remember saying there were plenty of deer in the Seattle metro area and I still stand behind this statement.

      ++WM writes: Fifth, you seemed to speak with authority, as you have on other subjects (call it the know-it-all syndrome, if you wish). And, coincidentally you were just plain wrong the facts, so I felt compelled to counter your statement with references so people can make up their own minds. There is enough inaccurate information floating around here; we don’t need more. It was that simple.++

      Well boy…you sure put me in my place by PROVING that there are no deer in the Seattle metro by posting the Washington State Hunting Regulations and pointing out that there was no hunting season in the Seattle metro.

      ++WM writes: And, by the way, I didn’t say there were no deer, but probably not so many to support many wolves (hundreds to dozens, I think were your words) in addition to existing predators and the hunting of blacktails (which there are a fair number in this limited habitat, but not alot). And that is sort of where your assertion began – pets and all.++

      You’re starting to back peddle.

    • Moose Says:

      A small pack might be able to get by for awhile in North Cascades, St Helens , or SW Wash area…the bottom line is W Wash is not good wolf habitat as a whole (Olympics is debatable)…any talk of a pack existing west of N Bend is a big stretch…WM’s assessment of the W Wash’s ungulate pop. is accurate.. N Central and NE Wash are excellent habitat – am not as familiar with SE Wash ….

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      OK, you win on tenacity.

      The WA Division of Wildlife is wrong. Their Draft Wolf Management Plan is wrong, including the habitat modelers. I am wrong, and now apparently Moose is wrong, too.

      And, mostly we are all enlightend by the fact that you have, following your first post which said (“could be anywhere on the outskirts of the city” on 8/3/ 7:03 PM) redefined the city, now the Seattle metropolitan area, to be equivalent to the boundaries of the Puget Trough (geologic term) and beyond.

      The folks in the cities of Bellingham, Everett, Tacoma and Olympia running a distance of some 150 miles north to south will also be happy to know of your edict, as will all communities up to an elevation of about 800 feet above sea level to the east.

      And we are all happy to now know the Puget Sound has a thriving whitetail deer population (that nobody has ever seen), adding to their abundant blacktail population. We’ll all be out looking for them at the same time we are looking for Sasquatch. Wait, confirmed sightings of Sasquatch have only been in Eastern, WA.

      Soon I’ll be looking for wolves in Renton and Maple Valley, chasing whitetails and elk across the golf courses – and those silly golfers thought they had problems with divots that were not replaced.

    • pointswest Says:

      I did win. When you start pulling things out of the air as you are now, you’ve lost. There is no point in my even addressing your comments now.

    • pointswest Says:

      I will make one more of my so called bold assertions. If you introduced a half dozen wolves to the Maple Valley area of the Seattle metro, and all the people accepted and loved them and allowed them to roam, they would multiply into hundreds of wolves in just 10 or so years.

    • pointswest Says:

      I did a little reading on the type of deer that are in the Seattle metro area. There are both whitetail deer and blacktail deer. The reason there is no whitetail hunting in western Washington is because the whitetail are the Columbia whitetail that is an endangered subspecies. They are endangered because their native habitat is the broad river valleys and flood plains of northwestern Oregon and western Washington, including the broad river valleys and flood plains of the Puget Sound area. They are endangered because of habitat loss do to urbanization of the area…mostly the Seattle metro.

      It sounds like the blacktail deer predominate in western Washington but many of the deer in the open fields of the Seattle metro area may be Columbia whitetail deer.

      I will reiterate that I don’t really know and the type of deer is almost irrelevant to our original discussion.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      I said you win on tenacity, and tenacity only – certainly not on substance. Geez, I swear you and jon must be related. Discussing a topic with either of you rates among the most tiring and repetitive experiences of my life, recently.

      The endangered Columbia white-tail range, according to the WA Div. of Wildlife is and always has been limited, and will never be expanded, due to habitat constraints, beyond the lower Columbia Basin riparian zone, nearly 190 miles away to the south (about the distance from Seattle to Portland). This is not, under any circumstances “the Seattle metro area” as you continue to expand it as this dialog continues. Here is a link to their most recent publication:

      http://wdfw.wa.gov/hab/phs/vol5/odvil.pdf

      According to this document, the range of the Columbia white tail historically has never included the Puget Basin, and does not now include it. May I suggest you read the first two paragraphs very carefully.

      In the interests of the pursuit of truth, I will make further inquiry and report what I find.

      If there are any white-tail deer in Western WA, other than the above noted, the very limited Columbia white-tail {Odocoileus virginianus leucurus}, they would be an invasive species and would have been introduced fairly recently. I doubt the Div. of Wildlife would be the sponsor of this, as it would likely encroach on blacktail population numbers.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      ++If you introduced a half dozen wolves to the Maple Valley area of the Seattle metro, and all the people accepted and loved them and allowed them to roam, they would multiply into hundreds of wolves in just 10 or so years.++

      Again, just exactly what would these wolves eat? There are no elk (well, maybe a couple), the deer are few (they are nearly all visible and raiding gardens) and the habitat is extremely limiting for any type of sustained and large populations of natural prey. Yes, I know what they will eat- pets, lots of pets- dogs/cats/llamas/bunnies/horses/sheep/4H cow+calf projects, but surely no burros or mules.

      Of course that brings into play the other half of your statement – “all the people accepted and loved them and allowed them to roam…”

      PW, what do you suppose the “acceptance and love” level for wolves would be if they munched on your expensive pets? Even liberal Seattleites will lethally thump coyotes that take the family cat – they are doing it with gusto right now. Can’t you just feel the love?

      The continuing divergence of opinion will remain. The truly urban downtown condo dwellers, whether they own poodles or not, will read their Defenders magazine, and simply not relate to the experience of the semi-urban/suburbia dweller who may acquire “on the ground experiences” with wolves, coyotes or other predators. So, my informal hypothesis is that, in the end, there will be little change in opinions between “urban” and “rural” interests, even if we classify the suburban pet owners as rural.

      ———

      Linda Hunter,

      Recall that urban wolves do exist in the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas. They are received with mixed emotions.

      Here are two video reports on the news:

    • pointswest Says:

      WM You are being so manipulative and dishonest that you are starting to remind of of jon.

    • pointswest Says:

      I used to think you were a good source of information but seeing how you can bend and twist facts and manipulate the discussion into something of your liking with pretentious and disingenuous and personal comments and how you can try and apply published documents to complex realities is nearly pathological.

      I already gave you the whitetail deer mistake but it is irrelevant to the original discussion. (how many times did I repeat this?). I still stand behind everything I said. I will never again read your comments with any degree confidence. You are dishonest and have an ego a million miles long. In fact, you are entirely ego and rant about things with the arrogance of the baby prince.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      If you go back to the start of this thread within a thread discussion, you made certain assertions that were questionable, and others that simply were not true. I challenged them with reference facts that could be checked by anyone here. You kept changing parameters of the discussion to avoid admitting you were wrong.

      I am still trying to reconcile your next to last post where you continued to say Columbia whitetail were in the Seattle metro area in two consecutive paragraphs, and then in the third immediatly following, you weren’t sure.

      Here is what I said:

      1. Wolves will not likely find success in the broadly defined metro Seattle area (or the intercoastal strip west of the Cascades (exception might be St. Helen’s blast zone to the far south, which is a unique transition ecosystem).
      2. Insufficient natural prey base in Western WA, which is a function of vegetation habitat. This is confirmed by wolf habitat modelers in the WA state wolf plan (draft).
      3. Essentially no elk in PW’s broadly defined “Seattle metro” area (a very few near Maple Valley), and a few deer along the foothills (blacktail).
      4. To my knowledge there are no white-tail deer on the east side of Puget Sound; specifically there are no endangered Columbian white-tail deer north of the Columbia riparian zone, approximately 180 miles south of the metro Seattle (Puget Trough).
      5. Wolves will not be greeted with much love or adoration if they show up (unlikely), and start feeding on expensive pets.
      6. Wolves adjacent to urban areas have been met with mixed emotion (See 2 youtube videos re: Anchorage and Fairbanks experiences). I think (seriously) best urban areas to start with might be Minneapolis/St. Paul or Boulder, CO (when wolves get to CO), for social tolerance reasons.

      [FOOTNOTE: I just heard from a Regional WA Wildlife large mammal biologist who confirmed: No known whitetail deer in Western WA. Columbian white-tail deer population is confined to the range in their 2004 report, which, in WA, is the lower Columbia River riparian zone. No elk further west of the Cascade Range Crest than North Bend, Puyallup and Black Diamond and Maple Valley. Effectively, none/very few in the “metro Seattle” area. Habitat keeps deer and elk numbers low, which makes wolves in the Puget Trough unlikely. Updated range maps for the Nooksack (600) and North Rainier (+/- 2,000) herds available in a week or so.]

      Soooo PW, how is it that I am being manipulative and dishonest when you hang yourself with your own words, over and over again? It is not about my ego; it is pursuit of good facts for this discussion. And, I see your sunshine pump is still working just fine.

  32. SEAK Mossback Says:

    When we moved to Yellowstone in 1965, pets were not allowed in employee housing so we had to board our humongous (but not overweight) 21 lb. house cat at a ranch down the valley. Then before long a superintendent moved in at Mammoth who had a small dog and he changed the rules. Cats were allowed and dogs up to 40 lbs. They were supposed to be on a hand-held leash but everyone tied them on a lead to their door during daylight only and kept an eye out. It was all pretty self-enforcing. I never heard of a single animal that escaped overnight that was ever found alive. One woman lost a little dog just while she went in to answer the phone. Coyotes had a regular patrol route among houses that had pets. We glanced out our window once and were able to narrowly save our neighbor’s dachsund, and got a call from a neighbor that a coyote was closing in on our cat. We left a regular door open into the garage so he could get in if he had the sense. One time I heard a tremendous caterwaul while I was eating breakfast and ran out and he was just inside the door with his hair all on end and a big tail like a racoon, and a coyote peaking in.

    One jumped out from behind a little firehose storage house and bit a little girl walking to school in 3rd grade. Her father was a ranger plausibly responsible for animal control and spent a few weeks putting a serious, if temporary dent in the local coyotes. I watched him drop on one knee on the street right in front of our home with his .243 and take out a coyote trotting down the road with the school playground for a backstop.

    Anyway, cities with urban coyotes probably already have a fair amount of predation on pets.

    • Harley Says:

      One of the biggest complaints here in the ‘burbs of Chicago is the rising coyote problem. People with small dogs have been warned not to leave them unattended. Even in the city itself. Coyotes it would appear are opportunists and very adaptable. One of my farming friends who lives almost across the cheddar curtain (Wisconsin for those of you unfamiliar with our quirky terms) looses cats on a regular basis to coyotes and that isn’t really considered urban. They are dairy farmers.

    • pointswest Says:

      My brother lived up on the hill behind the capitol building in Salt Lake City and had a coyote kill his big house cat. What was intetesting about this story was his house was well within the city and my sister-in-law saw the coyote and tried to fight it off. She chased it around the the yard but the willie coyote zigged when she zagged and ran in behind her, swept up the cat in its jaws, and bounded off up the hill with the cat.

      I think wolves in the suburbs will be another matter entirely because they will kill dogs as rivals and might be quite aggresive and bold about it. To wolves, it will by like a rumble in the Bronks to establish who controls the territory.

  33. bob jackson Says:

    Wolves are not going to be the problem in urban areas…compared to coyotes. Yes, they can do more “damage” to larger prey (dogs) as a sole individual wolf on a hunt but as the need for social order goes up the more those individuals in the group (pack in this case) have responsibilities with that group (pack).

    Being “more deadly” or vital as a group also means limitations. For one they have to stay closer together to ward off attacks from other groups. This applies to herbivore families as well.

    The threat to a efficiency and survivability of any wolf pack is compromised with the loss of any individual in that pack.
    Thus an individual or pack can only make fleeting raids on any stronghold of prey. This definitely includes the development called Mammoth.

    Of course all the focus of so called biologists does not consider the infrastructure needs of prey or predator when it comes to cause and effect on big game social order evolutionary origins …… and its need still today for animals like elk.

    Since biologists can not see the need for infrastructure in their own species survivability they can not invision the needs of other species infrastructure to counter those species impacting that species.

    Thus we have symptom management of elk. With hunting seasons focused on the take of INDIVIDUALS, and the dark ages assumption that an individual is only an extension of multiples of individuals, what we have is basically pig farming going on by G&F in states such as Idaho and its “experts” such as MSG.

    Yes, MSG is right. We do have abnormal predation by wolves on elk…dysfunctional herds caused by biologist myopia.

    Both humans and wolves need good social herd infrastructure if there is to be long term “harvesting” of elk. The wolves need to prey on the fringes, the sluffed off individuals and the spun off satellite family groups, in order for the core groups to produce with the most sustainable and ecological long term numbers.

    Without this every species, including human “hunters”, lose. Now if every “sportsman” and state and federal biologist out there wants to admit to being a harvester of pig farmer pigs then I guess they can live with wanting to get rid of other pig farmers..in this case seeing wolves as those predatory farmers backing semis up to the pig house at night and sneaking away those pigs…I mean elk.

  34. bob jackson Says:

    Seak,

    To continue on with pets being allowed in Yellowstone Mammoth was the only place in the Park where this “exception” was granted. The justifying reason…it was an urban development. It was a bit later, 1972 where pets were allowed in the outback settlements, like Lake and Old faithful.

    The reason it was finally allowed? An long time ranger of the old school finally got married. His new wife said its either a baby or a dog. Thus, the lobbbying for pets in the “outback”.

    And what happened to pets? It was the same in these housing areas as Mammoth. Coyotes. One District rangers wife, childless, just absolutely adored her cat. And she was very protective, only putting that cat on the clothsline stringer during times when she could watch it from the kitchen window. But alas the horror of it all happened. Wiley coyote dashed in from the blind side and promptly had the leash and cat stretched out at the end of that clothsline. I mean taunt. Out she rushes and immediately sees the damage. Calls the husband and they rush it to vet 70 miles away. Can’t do much so it is a paniced search for surgical cat expert vets. One is found in Texas so flights are lined up and the whole “family” travels there immediately for this life saving surgery…which didn’t work. Two weeks later mourning and all those other imotions sets in. So what do we get? A district ranger who buys a target barreled 30-06 and gets thousands of rounds of this ammo from Mammoth law enforcement office….to “target” shoot so he can be a better ranger.

    That winter he shoots round after round practising from his warm house window. The neighbors all complain amoungst themselves…but tolerance is in order because coyotes are kept at bay. So the moral of the story? This ranger is finally gien the call by the chief to wipe out a griz. Sand bags and fine rounds are loaded up and it is off to Canyon where officials are assembled, including Interagency griz folks.

    A 75 yard bench rested and scoped shot is heard through the development. What is the result? Agriz that runs off limping and a shot to the foot.

    Yes, all because that respected ranger long ago whose wife said baby or German Sheppard. At least that is the type of logic hunters and state biologists who want to rid the state of wolves are using today.

  35. Cody Coyote Says:

    On a tangent , it is a revelation to see a representative from the Idaho Fish & Game actively engaging in the dialogue here. Gamblin is a Regional Director.

    Without commenting on whether I agree with him or not, I would only proffer that my own Wyoming Game & Fish reps need to come out from behind the gates of their country estate and similarly engage the public. The Wyo G&F work and rule from an ivory and mahogany ranchhouse down there in Cheyenne…there is precious little openness and discourse.

    In fact , Wyo G&F employees are officially muzzled on ‘ some’ issues , like wolves and grizz. Even if they were willing to talk on the record, they probably wouldn’t without some strident application of dental extractor pliers..

    • bob jackson Says:

      Every agency in the world has its propaganda machine in place. They just use different tools. Yellowstone had it’s favored and priviliged newspaper writers. Basically it was, “want a scoop before others, then you better play ball (propagandize) when we tell you to”.

      in my national interest salt baiting case I would one up those writers. I’d call them after reading the Parks propaganda on me and respectifully show them the “truth”. I also said there would be reporters very soon coming out with a story that would make this person feel like a fool. Some actually did a story down the road correcting the pressure from Yellowstone.

      Idaho’s MSG (false flavor) is part of Idaho’s propaganda machine no different than Nazi germany’s.

      I suggest not to be flattered or “honored’ to be heard. The voice is the same whether it is an “honored” Yell. reporter or a state legislator in Wyoming who gets the inside track on where to hunt if he voices what the G&F wants to relay to the public.

      “Listen” to the words. It is a condescending “education” to those peons who supposedly don’t know the “facts”. This is not dialog. If Idaho G&F had any political savvy at all they would have their “piece” be a little more humble in conversation.

  36. WM Says:

    Ralph,

    Just a bit off topic, but germane to this duscussion, just the same.

    APHIS/WS has just released its Draft Environmental Assessment – Gray Wolf Damage Management in Idaho
    for Protection of Livestock and other Domestic Animals, Wild Ungulates, and Human Safety.

    This is the Draft document which justifies their use of lethal and non-lethal methods to control wolves in ID, essentially in support of the ID Wolf Management Plan.

    A new element, which they are adding to their tool bag is, according to the Summary, the following: “An additional activity under the Preferred Alternative would be for WS to provide assistance to IDFG in those situations where IDFG has determined that wolf predation is causing unacceptable adverse impacts to an ungulate population in a specific management area, consistent with IDFG’s Policy for Avian and Mammalian Predation Management…”

    It is available here: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/pdfs/nepa/idaho_wolf_ea.pdf

    I have not yet read the 106 page document, but speculate there is much here for people on all sides of the controversial WS role in the wolf reintroduction and management to “shoot” at. Public comments will be accepted until August 31.

    • Moose Says:

      They definitely make a hard sell – written in many ways like an advertising white paper…. ‘wolves eatin your livestock? wanna keep dem overbreedin wolves close to that 500 minimum? then we’re the guys to call. We’re effective AND humane’….

      Do they get paid by ID for their services?…They cited all the right sources for their pitch…I hadn’t heard this:

      “Oakleaf et al. (2003) conducted a study on wolf-caused predation losses to cattle on U.S. Forest Service summer grazing allotments in the Salmon, ID area, and concluded that for every calf found and confirmed to have been killed by wolves, there were as many as 8 other calves killed by wolves but not found by the producer.”

      Does anyone know what methodology was used in this study?

    • JB Says:

      Moose:

      Here are the relevant excerpts:

      “Nonradiomarked calf carcasses were found opportunistically by ranchers and examined as described above for collared calves. Wolf-killed calves found by study personnel did not elicit con- trol actions on the wolves, but were compensated for by Defenders of Wildlife (Fischer 1989). How- ever, calves found independently by ranchers did result in control actions in accordance with estab- lished guidelines (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994). We multiplied cause-specific mortality rates of the marked calf population (Trent and Rongstad 1974) by the total number of calves on the DMA (n = 688) to estimate the number of calf mortalities that occurred from specific causes during a given year. We calculated detection rates by comparing the estimated number of calves that died from a particular mortality agent to the number recovered on the DMA during the study. Calf mortalities occurring during the grazing sea- son were separated into calves found by study personnel (radiomarked and unmarked cattle found by study personnel on the DMA) and those found by ranchers on the DMA, thus enabling the determination of a detection rate for wolf kills found by ranchers. We calculated detection rates excluding calves found by study personnel within the number of calves found to represent minimum detection rates on the allotment.” (p. 302)

      “Wolf Impact on Cattle Populations The Jureano Mountain wolf pack was involved in 6 documented calf depredations on the DMA (4 radiomarked, 2 unmarked) during the 2-year study. Based on mortality rates of the marked calf population, we further estimated that wolves killed 16 calves on the DMA during the 2 years of the study (Table 2). Wolf-caused calf mortality detection rates without mortalities found by study personnel were 1 of 8.0 wolf kills (Table 2). Simi- larly, detection rates for nonpredation mortalities without mortalities found by study personnel were 1 of 11.5 deaths. Because the DMA was grazed by 688 cow-calf pairs each season, we estimated that wolves killed approximately 1.2% (16 estimated wolf kills/1,376 calves) of the calf population each year, while nonpredation deaths accounted for 2.3% of the calf population (Table 2).” (p.303)

      Here are the totals from table 2.

      N = 231 calves per year (about 1/3 of the population)

      Mortality (I summed both years 1999 & 2000)
      Non-predation: 7 found by study, 2 found by rancher, 23 estimated
      Wolf predation: 4 found by study, 2 found by rancher, 16 estimated
      Coyote predation: 1 found by study, 0 found by rancher, 4 estimated
      Fire (non-predation): 2 found by study, 1 found by rancher, 8 estimated

      *Note: The study found all radio-collared calves, so those found by ranchers are not additional mortalities, they are the ones the ranchers found.

      They conclude:

      “Carcass detection rates were low in our study, suggesting that current compensation proce- dures in the western United States may require adjustment to fully cover losses incurred from wolf depredation (i.e., an increased payment for each confirmed wolf-caused calf mortality). Cur- rently, compensation payments result from con-firmed wolf-killed cattle found by ranchers on an allotment (Fischer 1989). In the case of the DMA, our detection rate data suggest that this method of compensation would result in payment of one- eighth the actual losses to wolves.” (p. 304-305)

  37. Layton Says:

    jon

    “I would actually like the idea very much of seeing wolves and hearing them howl. The ignorance of the wolf haters to assume that all wolf supporters don’t live in states that have wolves.”

    First of all, your first sentence kind of sums it up. Your outlook on this whole wolf thing is that “it would be nice to hear them howl”. You don’t give a rip about the trouble they cause, the financial losses, the losses of other wildlife, etc. You just want to “hear them howl”, how damn selfish can you get??

    Second, you must think that those of us who are NOT blind to the problems with wolves are as short sighted as yourself. We realize who the “wolfies” are, we know them on a personal basis. At least we can talk to them, unlike those that live other places and don’t have the slightest idea what they are talking about!!

    • Jay Says:

      “how damn selfish can you get??”

      About as selfish as wanting every bear, cougar, coyote, and wolf killed out of the woods so the average “sportsman” can put their trophy head up on their wall?

    • Save bears Says:

      The key is, there is really a small, but vocal component that wants them all gone, the majority that I know would like to see a balance, but not wipe everything you listed wiped out…

    • Jay Says:

      Likewise, there are many wolf supporters that are fine with balanced management–the majority I know are ok with this, and not the wolves-uber-alles types that anyone who supports wolves gets lumped in with.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Layton,

      I won’t comment whether jon seems selfish or not, but as far as “the financial losses, [and] the losses of other wildlife,” you mention, I increasingly see it is generally trivial or exaggerated.

      The whole wolf controversy is primarily cultural, not economic. If wolves were some animal about which tales from the woods of ancient Europe were not told, nor stories of their “ravages” on the pioneers were handed down in some families, their restoration would be not more than a minor biological event, and it would hard to even get media attention. I mean can we get media attention on many of the destructive invasive weeds you work on?

      But, no, even a dead dog in Utah (a sheep guarding dog perhaps killed by a wolf) is news today. My neighbor’s dog got run over, hit and run, where are the reporters?

    • jon Says:

      About as dam selfish as those who want wolves gone or their #s severely reduced just so they can shoot an elk to death.

    • Save bears Says:

      The idea behind hunting elk is to shoot it to death…that is the whole plan..

    • jon Says:

      Yes sb and I see nothing wrong with that. What I have a problem with is the anti predator attitude of some.

    • Save bears Says:

      That is fair Jon, because what the anti’s have a problem with is the Pro Predator attitude, it is a two way street Jon, remember for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction..

  38. jon Says:

    sb, the comments I have seen from those who dislike wolves says otherwise. A good deal of them want wolves gone period or their #s severely reduced.

    I frequent quite a few hunting blogs and messageboards sb. I hear NOTHING about balance from hunters who dislike wolves. All I hear is about extermination, shoot on sight seasons, poison, and sss.

    • pointswest Says:

      It would be interesting if someone did a scientific pole on hunter’s attitudes about wolves. I know some would be against them entirely but I suspect the majority would believe wolfs should be preserved in some locations.

      I think very, very, very few people want to see a species extinct or confined to a zoo.

    • Save bears Says:

      Jon,

      I am sure your right, but also, as much as I do, I know for a fact, I only talk to a small part of the population..

      Jon, you put far to much faith in what is printed on the internet..

    • jon Says:

      sb, no I don’t You find me ONE hunter that says something good about wolves on any hunting blog. I GUARANTEE you you won’t find many at all if any. You have to remember, just because it’s said on the internet doesn’t change anything. These people making these comments about wolves ARE ACTUAL AND REAL HUNTERS. I frequent many hunting sites to see what they are saying about wolves and it’s the same thing every time about wolves. I challenge anyone here to to go find 10 hunters that say something positive about wolves on any hunting blog/messageboard and than come back and tell me I put too much faith what is said on the internet sb. i am just stating what I see.

    • R.N.T. Says:

      Just curious how you know they “ARE ACTUAL AND REAL HUNTERS”?

    • Save bears Says:

      For that matter, how do we know Jon is a real wolf advocate? Jon, your over reacting…you really don’t like it when someone says something you disagree with you.

      Jon,

      Now how much do you want to wager, I can go out and find those ten hunters that will say something positive about wolves, heck I had over 20 of them at my place last weekend enjoying a BBQ…and all of them correspond on internet blogs…

      So once again, you and I have dissed it out over the last couple of years, but please, jump off that high horse and lets get back to reality..

      Me thinks you might be searching out those particular venues so you can prove something..

    • jon Says:

      This will be my last post as this going back and forth gets tiring. sb, I don’t need to prove anything. You want proof, go there in MT where you live and ask 100 hunters how they feel about wolves. How much do you wanna bet that the majority if not all will say negative things about wolves? I dare you to ask a good amount of hunters and see how they feel about wolves and than maybe, you will believe than I am not making this stuff up. Go visit all of these ‘sportsmen” organizations that are filled with hunters and ask them about how they feel about wolves. I dare you to ask any elk hunter in MT how they feel about wolves.

    • Save bears Says:

      OK, Jon, I get it your pissed at me again, you have said you won’t talk to me anymore several times, but I still have a pending email from you that you asked me to answer, which I don’t get is why in the hell you are so mad, you just can’t seem to accept, that people out there have far different information than you do..

      Now lets take a look back at many conversations and I am seeing it more and more often, it does not matter what side of the issue is being discussed, both sides are starting to accuse the other of being like Jon?

      Jon, I think you need to take a break, your starting to crack here buddy…

      And as a last question, why don’t you need to prove anything? You seem to want others to prove stuff..

      Just calm down, there are many different opinions that are valid, including yours, but there is nothing that is set in stone…your never going to freeze the information on one side or another..

    • Save bears Says:

      By the way, why do I need to ask 100 hunters? earlier we were talking about 10 hunters…you can’t keep changing things Jon..

    • pointswest Says:

      I think so called wolf-supporters are political. As I have mentioned, most of their motivation is acting out in an attenmpt to draw attention thier trauma and inner turmoil.

      Hunters are just hunters. Very few belong to political groups or participate on blogs.

    • jon Says:

      That is false, hunters have blogs as well and some of them do belong to political groups. Is it a bad thing to have a blog and belong to a political group? I hate politics and I don’t get involved in that nonsense. Both hunters and pro wolf supporters have blogs.

  39. Save bears Says:

    And really I didn’t think you were making anything up, I know what is being said on the hunting blogs and chat systems, it is the same rhetoric that has been going on since the wolves were introduced, there is nothing new, those who are against will continue to be against, those who are for, will continue to be for, as I said, it is a two way street…

  40. Layton Says:

    Jay

    “About as selfish as wanting every bear, cougar, coyote, and wolf killed out of the woods so the average “sportsman” can put their trophy head up on their wall?”

    And just where, pray tell, have you EVER seen me advocate ANY of that crap?? Or are you perhaps trying to make some point that is a little bit “murky” here??

    jon,

    “About as dam selfish as those who want wolves gone or their #s severely reduced just so they can shoot an elk to death.”

    Please point out where I have said I want wolves gone, or, for that matter, even “severely” reduced.

    Yes I have (and still do) believe that wolf numbers should be much more controlled than they are now.

    First, we should have an ACCURATE count of the wolves that are really out there, then we should have an IMPARTIAL opinion on how many the elk population can really sustain — then make the number happen.

    • Jay Says:

      You have made generalizations about “wolfies”, I made a generalization about hunters. You want to tell me there ISN’T a significant portion of “sportsmen” that aren’t for predator eradication?

    • Layton Says:

      Jay,

      “You want to tell me there ISN’T a significant portion of “sportsmen” that aren’t for predator eradication?

      No Jay,

      What I want to tell you is that there IS a significant portion of sportsman that aren’t for predator eradication.

      It’s simply the more hysterical among the wolfies that want to stereotype anyone that would wish harm to one hair on the head of one wolf as a rabid, red eyed, wolf hating bastard that wants to maim, torture, kill and burn the carcass of every predator in and on the landscape.

    • Jay Says:

      So what you’re really telling me is that generalizations stereotyping pro-wolf folks are more accurate than stereotypes against “sportsmen”…thanks for clarifying.

  41. Nancy Says:

    SB, I can kind of relate to Jon’s postings because it can get confusing trying to digest the array of information on this site and others, when it comes to the subject of wolves (or any of the other top predators that have been tampered down over the years when they interfere with human activities)

    Me? I’m surrounded by cattle ranches and prime hunting grounds and there seems to be no use for a predator (or predators) that might “mix the game up a bit” when it comes to hunting and livelyhoods (as in hunters and outfitters) or when it comes responsible animal husbandry (like ranchers)
    No way, right now, would I find 20 or even 5 neighbors, willing to say something positive about wolves.

    The first few years of wolves being back on the landscape was nothing anyone seemed too concerned about, then the local media changed that……… “Cried Wolf” everytime a neighbor had to deal with something other than the usual losses in livestock (weather, calving, disease and coyotes – a biggie! and then they also had to pay alittle more attention to the 500 to 1,000 or more of their livestock out wandering around on open range for the summer) and hunters (outfitters in tow) who actually had to start looking for game instead of culling them out of some rancher’s field.

    Not a stretch to realize its once again all about human activities vs wildlife’s (yes Mark) “right to also exisit” short of parks and zoos, in what’s left of wilderness areas.

    • Elk275 Says:

      Nancy

      ++Me? I’m surrounded by cattle ranches and prime hunting grounds and there seems to be no use for a predator (or predators) that might “mix the game up a bit” when it comes to hunting and livelyhoods (as in hunters and outfitters) or when it comes responsible animal husbandry (like ranchers)++

      Why did you move into a neighborhood with ranchers and hunters? They were there first and they own a large portion of the land.

    • jon Says:

      Nancy, all I know is I know what I see. sb knows how the people in his state feel about wolves. I don’t like going back and forth with sb because I consider him a good guy. We all have different opinions and views on things, so disagreement should be expected.

    • Layton Says:

      “The first few years of wolves being back on the landscape was nothing anyone seemed too concerned about, then the local media changed that……… “Cried Wolf” everytime a neighbor had to deal with something other than the usual losses in livestock”

      Orrrrrrrr, could it maybe (just maybe) have taken that few years unmolested for the wolves to build a population that MADE them something to be concerned about??

  42. Nancy Says:

    Elk, silly question! There first??

    • Elk275 Says:

      Sorry, They were here first.

      I have always found the ranchers in the Big Hole and the Grasshopper Valley wonderful folks just trying to made a living. Fifty years ago they were broke and wondering where there next dollar was coming from, today their ranches are worth millions. I would rather see the ranches stay in together than be subdivided. Several days ago I spent the day in Yellowstone Mountain Club on business. That is one of the greatest destruction of wildlands in prime grizzly country — so sad.

  43. Layton Says:

    Ralph,

    “The whole wolf controversy is primarily cultural, not economic. If wolves were some animal about which tales from the woods of ancient Europe were not told, nor stories of their “ravages” on the pioneers were handed down in some families, their restoration would be not more than a minor biological event, and it would hard to even get media attention. I mean can we get media attention on many of the destructive invasive weeds you work on?”

    Is your main point here that the financial implications of the wolves being brought here are not that great? Or is it that the problems with them are merely the result of legend.

    As for the financial part —- maybe in the grand scheme of things the loss of a few cows or a hundred or so sheep is not a great tragedy. However, to a small operator that could be the profit for the year. In this day and age a lot of the smaller “feudal lords” as you like to characterize them, are running pretty close to even.

    I think a lot of those in this situation are still ranching, not for the profit anymore, but because it’s the only way of life they know.

    As for linking “tales from the woods of ancient Europe” to what is happening here in these times ——- well, I think that is a bit far fetched, interesting theory perhaps, but far fetched.

    Weeds?? Different animal — 90% of the folks in the woods, even the most avid hikers and lookers, don’t have the slightest idea what they look like in their natural habitat — then there’s the fact that they don’t make any noise — and lastly they aren’t near as much fun to talk about as wolves!!

    8)

  44. Nancy Says:

    Define broke Elk. If they were broke 50 years ago, they certainly wouldn’t be here today would they?

    Layton – geez, do some research will ya? Coyotes have been and still are, one of the MAJOR reasons for livestock losses. Wolf activity has actually put a damper on coyote activity. In either case, its all about ranchers being more responsible when it comes to raising livestock instead of the rest of us footing the bill for their losses (as in WS)

    • Elk275 Says:

      A number of years ago I was broke and I am still here. The way things are going I could be broke in a number of months, but I will endured, I will survive until the end of my life and regardless of the setbacks, I will move forward to bigger and fuller life. Being broke is barely hanging on, it is temporary, being busted is losing it all.

  45. Nancy Says:

    Okay, can relate Elk. Been broke more times than I care to count. I guess with me it always involved understanding the reasons and making a shift (usually in location) to remedy the situation. Stopped shifting a couple of decades ago when I ended up in Montana. Whole new, old world mentality out here.

  46. Phil Says:

    WM: Your comment of introducing Wolves to an area where there is no food sources is pointless. A introduction to a territory where there is no adequete food sources will never occur. You gave an example of putting a species into a territory where there are humans but no other wildlife species, but this is not realistic.
    Mark: Your comments are continous in defending hunters. I am curious, are you a hunter? The article CLEARLY states that in the majority of areas where Elk populations are in decline, it is the cause of Human Harvest. This is clear as day and night. Also, in a one month hunting span for humans, they are allowed able to kill about 4,000 Elk in Idaho, right? This number is almost ALWAYS reached. If human hunting were a 12 month period, as Wolves are, this would total up to about 48,000 Elk taken per year. Wolves, on an average, kill only about 32,000 in the entire region, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. In one state, this would be more from human harvest then in the entire region by Wolves. I am a Biologist on Carnivores, and I, along with many more Biologists, have not seen a affect in population regarding Elk, Moose or Deer from Wolves, unless you count the behavioral change.
    Nancy: Yes! It is all about ranchers being more responsible. The most abundant cause of livestock deaths are disease, climate, age and lambing complications from the ranchers to the livestock. These carcasses are not used in a safe and health manner, they are thrown outside the ranch area in piles where they attract predators, such as Wolves. Motorized individuals have been hired to take these carcasses and use them for more reliable sources, as laying them out in wooded and forested areas for scavengers and predators away from the ranchers livestock.
    Pointwest: Hunters are not just hunters. Hunters will fabricate views on carnivores such as Wolves because they ar the closest competition to hunting to them. By creating fabrications to persuade others, it benefits the hunters in trying to eliminate the competition so they can have all the hunting land and all the hunting targets. There is no benefit to conservate Wolves and other carnivores for Biologists, Scientists and others saving Wolves. The hunters use propaganda to lobby their views, which is political.
    Moose: “For every 1 Calf killed by Wolves, 8 Calves were not confirmed to be killed by Wolves”. This was a statement from a March 2010 article from the National Geographic. The individuals who stated the 8 non-confirmed Calf kills were by the ranchers themselves. If a Calf or adult livestock dies from disease, climate or lambing complications, they are confirmed as these being the causes, but the ranchers do not get reimbursed for their faults of their livestock deaths, so they blame it on Wolves. According to the ranchers, they are more reliable in the investigations as the investigators. Each predator has its own markings when making a kill, Wolves bite at the rear end, and go to the neck area to conclude the kill.

  47. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

    Phil,
    Nice to see that interesting threads, at least portions of them, can regain life, however briefly. Yes, I am a hunter. The article clearly states that in those studied areas where elk are declining – that human harvest was the primary source of mortality in only 2 of the 5 declining elk management zones. To accurately summarize this portion of the IDFG study:

    * 10 of the 29 elk management zones in Idaho are above management objectives for female elk.
    * 13 of the 29 elk management zones are within management objectives.
    * 6 of the 29 elk managemenet zones are below management objectives.
    * This study investigated the causes of elk mortality in 5 of those 6 elk management zones that are below management objectives of female elk.
    * Human harvest of elk was the primary cause of elk mortality in only 2 of those 5 elk management zones that are below elk management objectives.

    As I emphasized in earlier posts, in those 2 elk management zones that did not meet elk management objectives and where human harvest was the most important source of elk mortality, hunting opportunity has already been adjusted (reduced) to bring those elk management zones back into compliance with elk management objectives.


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