Feds appeal grizzly bear relisting

Historic and current range of the grizzly bear. Linked from Sightline

Rather than pursue a grizzly bear restoration that puts bears’ welfare first, the feds are appealing a district court decision to keep grizzlies protected under the Endangered Species Act, taking that decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

From the Endangered Species Act:

The term ‘‘endangered species’’ means any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range……

Surely there are significant tracts of land in Idaho and some other states where grizzly bears could persist but the USFWS has re-interpreted the ESA in a way that only grants protection to species in their current range rather than their historic range. This has not always been the case, and it is why ESA listings and delistings are challenged so often by conservation groups. The new interpretation allows for incremental listing and delisting which is contrary to the ESA. The re-interpretation of the ESA by the USFWS serves only to benefit industry and not the imperiled species it was intended to protect.

Feds appeal grizzly bear relistingBillings Gazette

111 Responses to “Feds appeal grizzly bear relisting”

  1. mikepost Says:

    Interestingly enough, while salmon fishing in BC this month I ran into a native from Vancouver Island who stated that brown bears had just this year been sighted on the north end of the island. I note that the island is not considered to be historic range according to Ralph’s map.

    • Ken Cole Says:

      There was one shot there a few years ago. It had been near a small town in the northern part of the island and people were worried so they shot it.

  2. Daniel Berg Says:

    The Washington portion of their range seems not to be where there are actually resident bears, but where they have designated it as part of the grizzly recovery area. The shaded portions include North Cascades National Park Complex, and decent portions of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, Wenatchee, and Okanogan National Forests.

    I hiked into the North Cascades recently via Stehekin and they hadn’t had a confirmed grizzley sighting in the immediate vicinity in quite some time. Stehekin is well north of the southern part of the shaded area. As far as I know the bears have only come in and out of Washington through the northern part of the park, and the Pasayten. The total population number tossed around is “20 bears or less”, with not one of them a confirmed resident grizzly.

  3. ProWolf in WY Says:

    It seems to me that grizzlies are in need of protection considering that only the Great Yellowstone Ecosystem and Northern Continental Divide (?) populations are more than 100 bears.

  4. Virginia Says:

    USFWS has no shame! I think that is supposed to stand for United States “Fish” and “Wildlife” SERVICE – not United States Rancher and Hunter Service. What a great agency!

  5. jon Says:

    Grizzlies should be protected. Grizzlies have low productive rates. In 2008, grizzlies died in record numbers due to hunting.

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2152

    In 2008, hunters and other humans shot bears in record numbers. People
    Wikimedia
    The quality of habitat for the grizzly is eroding because of warming temperatures.
    killed grizzlies because they could — sadly, a not uncommon human attitude in the American West — and since Yellowstone’s grizzlies had been removed from the protection of the ESA listing, there were virtually no penalties for shooting them. Bear management had been turned over to fish and game agencies of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana who tend to accept any hunter explanation of self-defense in grizzly country. In short, the grizzlies were easy to kill because their lives were made less valuable by delisting.

    • pointswest Says:

      It sounds like grizzlies have moved west along the Centennial Range and are across I-15 near the southern end of the Bitterroots. I hope they can make it to Central Idaho before they are delisted.

      Something tells me that the lawsuit to delist will fail. A judge is not going to want the re-reverse a decision. The judiciary, in general, is not going to want to re-reverse a decision. It will bring ridicule on the judiciary. The motive to bring this lawsuit was probably a political one. My money says it will fail.

      If my memory serves me correctly (and it does not always), the decision to relist was not only the whitebark pine nut, it was also that it remained to be seen if grizzlies could migrate to/from the Yellowstone population to other populations to the west and north. That has not been shown yet. Someone can correct me if I am all wet on this, but I thought Malloy said something in his last decision about the migration though the theoretical corridors (ie Centennial Range) had yet to be shown as viable.

    • pointswest Says:

      I guess my memory was working. I found the decision and it reads, in part:

      “Plaintiff also briefly argues the Service should have considered historic range of the grizzly bear in assessing possible corridors to link the Yellowstone DPS to other grizzly populations. However, as the Service points out, habitat outside the DPS remains protected under the ESA because all other grizzly populations are still threatened. The Final Rule reasons that suitable habitat is that which is contiguous with current habitat so as to allow bears to re-colonize it. AR 11321. Thus, the Service’s discussion of habitat and range provides a rational explanation for not including possible transportation corridors in its analysis. The Service’s definitions of “range” and “significant” avoid the weaknesses noted by other courts in applying the phrase to a DPS.9 The Service defined what constitutes a significant portion of the Yellowstone DPS’s range, roughly the area where the bears currently exist. This employs similar reasoning to that rejected in Defenders of Wildlife, 354 F. Supp. 2d 1156, and Natl. Wildlife Federation, 386 F.Supp. 2d 553. By defining “significant portion of range” based on the DPS boundaries, the Service’s definition potentially renders the phrase “superfluous.” Defenders of Wildlife, 354 F. Supp. 2d at 1168. However, this case is distinguishable because the Service has included additional range, outside the bears’ current range, where they may expand in the future. The Final Rule states that only 68% of the suitable habitat is currently occupied, and the remainder includes a mix of public and private lands that can provide range for a growing population in the Yellowstone DPS. AR 11321-23. The agency has offered a reasonable interpretation of the ambiguous phrase “significant portion of its range.” The Final Rule offers an explanation for why some areas were not considered significant and sets forth factors to determine significant range, which the Service analyzed in its discussion of suitable habitat in the DPS. Because the Service has offered a reasonable explanation, the Court must defer to the agency’s interpretation of the statute. Chevron, U.S.A., Inc., 467 U.S. at 843-44. The Defendants are entitled to summary judgment in their favor on Count IV of the Complaint.”

  6. Cody Coyote Says:

    It’s worth checking out the story on this topic at the Jackson Hole News-Guide, where grizzly coordinating director Chris Servheen has some pretty harsh words about Molloy’s relisting decision:

    http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=6389

    (quote) “Federal officials will appeal a court decision that returned grizzly bears to the Endangered Species List, calling the ruling “unbelievable” given the population’s three-fold increase since 1975.”

    I guess by Servheen’s logic, the nation of India must also be extremely healthy , going by population increase alone.

    Read on…

    • pointswest Says:

      Everything I have ever read about a species says that 600 is not a good number to ensure the survival of the species. The Asian Lion’s numbers are up to 411 in the Gir Forest Rserve in India and yet the Indian government is planning to reintroducing the Asian Lion to the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary that currently has a population of Bengal Tigers. They believe 400 is not nearly enough and want a second (and maybe more) population in the Kuno.

      I would say there should be at least two large large areas with a population of a 1000 bears each. You need to preserve the gentic diversity within the species. The Yellowstone Grizzly genes have already lost some genes since the population was down to 200 animals.

    • jon Says:

      Speaking of India, they are planning to reintroduce cheetahs there as well. The tigers and leopards there are not doing too good. Leopards are doing better than tigers, but now leopards are starting to be killed for their skin since the tiger population is dwindling. A lot of poaching is going on and they can’t seem to stop it. The thing that is going to do both of these amazing big cats in is the overpopulated human population in India. There is 1 billion plus people. The tigers and leopards are losing their habitat and food sources due to the extremely large human population and in return, they are eating people to survive.

    • pointswest Says:

      What India is doing, BTW, is buying out people who heard domestic livestock and moving them elsewhere. Even some farmaland is being restored to natural habitat. They are, in effect, creating National Parks. Most Indians support the efforts. The Gir is becoming an important tourist attraction in India.

    • Peter Kiermeir Says:

      Ah, no, unfortunately India does not. The population is encroaching to those last habitats. National Parks get degraded in status, corrucption is on the run, poaching an organised crime……..Yes a few people have been relocated from the ourskirts of Parks, but these programmes have been halted in the meantime. ANd what there is of NPs is a tiny fraction of what is actually needed.

    • pointswest Says:

      Peter…the number of Asian Lions is up and it is due to the expansion and improvments (resettling of herders and restoring cultivated land) to the Gir. The Indian Gov is now establishing a second population of Lions to the Kuno. I just watched a nice BBC documentary called the Last Lions of India ( http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-last-lions-of-india/ ) and it claimed the Gir was a big success and tourism was up…that the Gir is a great conservatin success story that will hopefully be repeated elswhere in Inida.

      The Bengal Tiger population is up from the 1972 number but has been declining since 1996. However, Wikipedia says that some of this decline is attributable to the counting methods. Since game managers began using camera traps and more scientific counting methods, the numbers were revised significantly downward. Further, the Indian government along with Project Tiger are increasing their conservation efforts.

      If you have more information about this topic, I would be interested in reading it. I wonder how a populated nation such as India, with a per capital income that is a fraction of our, will do in efforts to preserve its wildlife. It will be interesting to compare Indias efforts to the efforts of a rich nation such as the USA.

    • pointswest Says:

      According to Project Tiger, the number of Tigers is up inside of the “Tiger Reserves” as of 2002.

      http://projecttiger.nic.in/populationinstate.asp

      I make a point of this since I think it speaks volumns that poor counties are preserving their wildlife while the US, that is a vastly younger and more wild nation, does not do more to preserve a species such as the grizzly. If a poor nation such as India can do it, then so can we.

  7. jimt Says:

    Would love to see Doug Peacock weigh in on this…

    • jon Says:

      http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2152

      The agencies seem to believe it is the inalienable right of hunters to kill grizzlies whenever they feel the need or desire to. The possibility of returning the Yellowstone grizzly to the ESA protections is unthinkable to this group.-Doug Peacock

    • Ryan Says:

      Jon,

      Nice article, he’s missing one important fact… There is no sancitioned grizzly bear hunting season in the GYE or lower 48. The only reason hunters are mentioned is that there have been Life safety killings and a couple mistaken identy killings a year. But hey villianizing hunters is better than being objective..

    • pointswest Says:

      If grizzly population were recovered to a point to allow hunting, it would be hunters and thier dollars that might ensure the survival of the species. Why is it OK for grizzlies to kill wolves and wolves to kill grizzlies but man as a hunter is evil?

  8. Virginia Says:

    Or, maybe Andrea Peacock. Please, Andrea, respond to this disgraceful attempt to destroy the grizzly bear by the USFWS.

  9. bob jackson Says:

    Anytime there is concentrated elk killing the bears leave the pine nuts and head immediately to those shots (Meat is a higher source of protein than nuts). That is a very HABITUATED bear and this behavior has more dire consequences than any campground food habituation because the elk killers have guns. One fall we had 8 griz killed by “hunters” in Thorofare alone.

    The day of the season opening in 2001 I was riding the South Boundary trail which heads up over the higher elevation Two Ocean Plateau. I saw 11 different griz tracks in 16 miles coming off a very good pine nut crop year terrain….all heading to the lower elevations of the yellowstone valley and upper snake drainages.

    The shots on the illegal salts were the cause of these bear movements. They all knew there would be a LOT of meat there for them. I say MEAT because the outfitters were all engaging in “quick quartering”, a pracise where up to 75# of meat were left on the “carcasses”.

    Until the 80’s full hind quarters were taken out. Thus the eagles, ravens and coyotes got to and consumed the gut pile quickly. There was little time and thus little habituation by bears. But with lots of meat the bears learned what a shot meant.

    Now they literally run for miles to every shot and chase off those wolves, coyote and birds. The feds and states need to act and change this abnormal behavior before ever thinking of delisting. This means more stringent measures than before those bears associated shots with food.

    It means every elk shot has to stayed with and packed out immediately…or immediately quartered and hung TEN feet off the ground and away from tree trunks (not many hunters can do this kind of construction). No boning either.

    If the “hunters” are outraged in having to do this then they face even more outrage.

    The alternative to boning and quick quartering…and immediate removal is this spot needs to be flagged around this site (same as outfitter guides do to warn fellow camp guides) and then the area noted at the trail head or ranch headquarters of where the elk was shot. Not many hunters want to give away their SECRET hunting areas but so be it if hunters don’t clean up their act.

    Ya, every one of you elk hunters on this forum say they debone well and take the meat out pronto, but at the same time “shit” happens in camp. Horses get loose, weather comes in and hands get very cold, or night sets in ….all meaning there isn’t a person out there who hasn’t had to compromise their supposedly high hunter ethics.

    It is always the “other guy” who doesn’t follow proper procedures. So be it but if a hunter knows he can’t get an elk out that night if he shoots in the last light or knows he has to get the elk out in a raging blizzard no matter what then “shit” doesn’t happen as much, does it?

    I saw way too many “ethical” hunters during the years, “nice guys”, who compromised hunter ethics when things went wrong. Somehow the skull plate and cape made it out, however.

    And since bow hunting has come on the scene a lot more solo hunting is taking place…and little resources available to get that meat out. The usual is gut it and then head back down the trail, drive to town and get the buds for a hike up the next morning. promise all some meat…and lo and behold everybody get the thrill of seeing a griz on carcass. Makes for a good bar story ….. and if the guy was savvy enough he didn’t punch the tag anyway…so its on to the next brave man solo hunting trip and another repeat of the first.

    The short of it is hunters caused this bear habituation so its time they stopped it. Oh, I left out the AUTHORITIES. Whether it is the Interagency now wanting to shirk their duties or the game wardens who don’t want to deal with adverse hunter back lash THEY are the ONES who let this get to what it is now. To hide behind delisting and thus pass on the “fix” to hunters now being able to kill bears in “self defense”, to me, means all those authorities might as well admit they are wimpodites to the fifth degree. But they won’t and the bears will be the losers again.

    Yes, pine nuts are important, but hunter laziness is worse for griz populations. So there!!

  10. Nancy Says:

    Bob, just wanted to say I enjoy reading your posts.

    I have some friends who’ve been outfitting in the “Bob” for years and they’ve noticed lately an immediate response now from griz, when shots are fired. And why not? Its like a fricken dinner bell……….

    • pointswest Says:

      You know, I keep dreaming about semi-retiring back to Idaho where I grew up and hunting elk like I used to do in the 70’s but I am going to have to keep in mind that things have changed.

      If you kill and elk and come back in with a horse the following day to pack it out, you are going to need to be very carefull. There might be some grizzly who has laid claim to it and will fight you for it.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      …..or it could be a wolf which has laid claim to it. Think about it. They claimed a gut pile last year where one of my hunting partners shot a bull elk. Fortunately he shot it early in the day, and we got it out before nightfall. Certainly not the risk to human life as a griz, but the meat would be gone or tainted just the same.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Pointswest,

      Having lived in Idaho continuously since the early 1970s and spent every summer outdoors here and in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Nevada, but especially Idaho . . . the increase in the number of grizzly bears inside of Idaho is hardly enough to worry about disruption of elk carcass retrieval.

      If you approach wolves about to claim an elk carcass, they will almost certainly run.

  11. SEAK Mossback Says:

    What is Wyoming’s rationale for allowing “quick quartering”? In Alaska, that would fall solidly under “wanton waste”. It’s not that much work to split an elk right up the backbone with an ax and a horse can carry two full quarters even off a large bull, although I never tried packing more than a couple of miles – certainly not all the way out of the Thorofare. Also, I suppose with chronic wasting disease creeping north, there will be arguments against cutting through the central nervous system.

    I can see where outfitters don’t have much incentive to bring out the whole elk and it makes a good excuse and hunting story, but it certainly doesn’t help to treat retrieval of fair portion of the meat as optional. This has been a problem in fly-in areas of Alaska where hunters’ eyes get bigger than their stomachs, or ability to transport and care for meat, or desire to pay for extra air charter flights. In units with particular trouble, it is now required to bring the meat out on the bone (and of course no antlers before all meat).

    Otherwise, getting a large animal out quickly or making it inaccessible to a bear is a challenge. It’s one of the pluses I find in hunting Sitka blacktails which are almost always possible to pack or drag out in one trip. Even there you are leaving quite a scent trail, which is stacking up some odds on an island like Admiralty with an average of about 1 brown bear in each of its 1,600 square miles. Even if a bear gets there before the birds, it doesn’t take long to slick up a gut pile. A friend and coworker took his teenage son and daughter back from the beach aways on Admiralty where they shot a couple of deer late in the afternoon. They’d forgot to bring a flashlight and darkness caught them in the typically dense, dark timber just before the beach. His daughter was picking the way in front, with his son next dragging a deer and Norm bringing up the rear dragging the other while carrying both rifles — when out of the corner of his eye he noticed a shadow feet away drifting up on his flank. The only clear confirmation he got of what he was dealing with were brief flickers of the bear’s features from the muzzle flash out of his son’s semi-automatic 30-06. The next morning, after skinning the bear they backtracked and found where he had basically inhaled both gut piles and then followed their drag trail all the way out.

    After gathering a few less dramatic stories of close encounters and nervous nighttime drags and packs on Admiralty and Chichagof, I’ve enjoyed the luxury of hunting on a black bear island for most of the past 2 decades, where I drag and carry deer at all hours without a thought. Ironically, my only loss to a bear occurred only 3/4ths mile from home where I left a deer on a bench next to the beach in the morning before heading back into the woods. When I stopped by to pick it up just after dark, I could not find any sign – it had simply vanished and I half suspected another human had come by and lifted it. I went back the next morning and started walking larger and larger circles outward in the woods before I came on a mound of brush, sticks, moss etc. piled up with a mink standing on top staring at me. On close examination, the tip of one hoof could be seen protruding and I managed to salvage about 60%.

    No, I don’t suspect the mink was responsible for the other 40%.

    • pointswest Says:

      I do not mean to sound like a worry wart but messing with a dead deer that a grizzly has burried sounds very dangrous to me. I can just imagine how some big boar would look when he noticed some scrawny human scarffing up on HIS deer…HIS deer that he worked so hard to drag off and bury. He would get that suprized, “how can he be doing this to ME” look and then come charging at you in a rage.

    • pointswest Says:

      I should tell the entire story someday but I once killed a deer near Robison Creek and came back in the following day with a horse to pack it out. The first thing that tipped me off as to something being wrong is that my horse, who did not even know what a bear was, began freaking out when we got near where I’d left the deer. It started raring, and whining, and tried running the hell out of there. It almost fell down a few times. It was a mini rodeo. The grizzly was not around. I didn’t see it. The horse could just smell that it had been there. The deer, a big 200 lb mule deer doe, was gone and there was not a drag tail. The deer had been carried off…a 200 lbs deer was carried off by something walking on four paws. I did not go looking for it. Fortunately, I had not yet punched my tag.

  12. bob jackson Says:

    Seak,

    Thanks for relaying the Alaska regs and reasons.

    Most all elk hunting in Thorofare is done by outfitters. The few privates that try to hunt there invariably get pushed out by these outfitters. By “pushed” I mean having horses run off while away from them walking on elk, dumping partial carcasses behind privates camp so bears come in, busting up the hunts, yelling scab outfitter to every agency they can think of (thus game wardens, wilderness guards, USFW agents, Park rangers, and Wyoming governer deputized outfitter hired guns ALL come on the scene to question the private group. The affect? Up to 5 different agencies in one week riding into camp and being vague as to why they are there. Privates don’t want the hassle and don’t come back).

    Horses run out of camp while hunters are out means animals go all the way to the trail head 30-40 miles away.

    Some privates try to counter by stringing ropes up chest high on the marauding night riders, leaving somebody in camp at all times or tying horses up at night. They do this because they know the agencies will be of no help. In the end however it is not worth it and leave to never come back or at most stick it out for a few years.

    The only ones tolerated are private moose hunters (yes, even high elevation big horn sheep spike camps are followed very closely and as soon as one is set up the outfitter chases the rams off) and those privates who have a vested interest with the outfitter…such as the grocer supplying food for his camp.

    Outfitters are allowed up to 60 horses and one would think this means whole quarters could easily be packed to the front country. But no, it just means bringing in more hunters. Thus some of the larger camps illegally run over 200 head…and still quick quarter.

    If I could post photos on this site I’d show you the “quick quartering”. Most outfitters don’t even skin the carcass, but rather lay the hide back to carve out some of the hind and the small joint of the front. In camp, to the feds, they talk of how they can reach in and retrieve the inside loin but in practise they never do.

    The game wardens are the ones who are most at fault here. They know what comes to the check stations…or rather lack of it…. but the outfitters and their help laugh at how easy it is to get around this. Every time it is, “a griz got some of it. We got most we could”.

    It is a joke and the bear community ….Interagency, USFWS, Wyoming Game & FISH, NPS (it is mostly their bears being killed) and FS are all implicated in this. The Forest Service is afraid of Dick Cheny associated Jackson Hole outfitters, most game wardens from both Jackson and Cody like the wild west walter mitty dream land association with these outfitters post season (it is so bad on the Jackson side I had to keep quiet as to where my stake out camps were…because they’d run to that outfitter), too many USFW agents get no support from the legal arm when it comes to endangered species thus turn bitter and “go native”, the park administration wants to shelter itself from others, and the govt. appointed scab outfitter bounty hunters just really like the idea they can ride horses and wear that pistol.

    So what happens on the ground? The most defenseless get picked on, the cases with pictures I forward to G&F showing such waste of meat gets put in the trash and G&F justifies the waste by saying, “It is better to have elk killed in the back country than along the roads during the late season roadside slaughters”, Or worse yet,”The bears need to protein to make it through the winter”. AND BEARS DIE!!

    The Interagency is fully aware of how Alaska handles waste of meat, as you point out, but don’t speak up on this to the states because they always fear no support from them on their regular research and trapping programs.

    Forest Service? It is a joke. Most districts permanents don’t even know what the Decker or saw buck saddle and gear is that is collecting dust in their warehouses. It is a sad state of affairs from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s when Forest Service put out all those educational pamplets and films on axe and horse use. The folks in those agencies now know if they get into any sort of conflict with anyone perceived with power in the outfitter ranks they jepordize their career advancements. And even if they wanted to or had the conviction to do something about it they don’t know enough about stock, hunting, back country use or anything else relating to their back country to do anything about it.

    Such as it is for chances of the bear…or wolf…. coming out above the foray.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Thanks Bob Jackson,

      The entire management of the Teton Wilderness area needs to be changed with new people brought in who have no ties to outfitters or the politicians who back them.

      As you well know, the Thorofare is the most remote location from a road in the lower 48 states. That it is trammeled with this favoritism and lawlessness is an outrage.

    • STG Says:

      It sounds like anarchy. What can be done?

    • STG Says:

      It sounds like anarchy. What can be done?

  13. WM Says:

    ++But now the reintroduced wolves have reduced the surplus of elk in the ecosystem, and illegally introduced lake trout have cropped the cutthroat runs.

    Bears are foraging farther from the core and getting into trouble with people.++

    So, is this a case of connecting the dots? Rocky Barker lays out the premise, but doesn’t take the next steps. Beetles and climate change cause grizzlies to seek other food sources in the GYE, resulting in trouble with humans (sometimes). Alternative food sources, excess elk inside Yellowstone are gone, and going down in the GYE because wolves are eating their way through them.

    One conclusion: one endangered species (wolves) is keeping another from recovery (griz). Can’t wait for a more thorough analysis of that relationship, and its solution (controlling numbers of wolves?).

    Additionally, Barker suggests, based on the Craigheads’ work – supplemental feeding in YNP? Also, can’t wait for the EIS on that proposal.

    I smell another basis for justification of 10(j) taking of wolves – because they are preventing griz recovery in light of climate change and beetle kill of whitebark pine.

    • Save bears Says:

      WM,

      Based on Rocky’s column see problem that could emerge, that well meaning common people are going to take it upon themselves to start feeding bears. This will of course lead to far more problems than are currently being felt…

      It will indeed be interesting to see which endangered species is more important..awe the political playground we find ourselves in!

    • Pointwest Says:

      I’ve read quite a few accounts of what the GYC was like before Europeans arrived and I cannot recall even one encounter with a grizzly that took place in the high country of Yellowstone. I’ve read of several accounts of grizzly encounters that took place in the lower valleys such as in Teton Basin, in Swan Valley, at the Ross Fork near Pocatello, and in the Big Hole.

      Prime grizzly habitat is or was in the lower river bottoms and flood plains of the GYC that are all taken up by farming and ranching now. I doubt the Yellowstone Park area every supported grizzlies in high density. With some exception, most of it is not particularly good grizzly habitat. Large parts of Yellowstone are high with granular soils such that the growing season is short and the soil does not grow very much.

      If I were to come to the GYC grizzly hunting in 1820, I would probably come to the Fort Hall Bottoms (near Pocatello) or Jarvis Market and the Forks Country (near Rexburg) to find some big fat grizzlies. Yellowstone Park would be about the last place I would go.

      The reason there are grizzlies in Yellowstone today and nowhere else is only because they were protected there along with the geysers. Grizzlies will try and move back down into their prime habitat in the valleys as soon as they can. Humans have simply never allowed them to move back down, except that the ESA has prevented humans from shooting them on sight.

      I’m sure there were “ecocenters” of abundant food sources but probably the largest was the large buffalo heard that once migrated up and down the Henry’s Fork in Eastern Idaho. This large heard alone probably accounted for a few thousand bears in the GYE.

      Feeding bears will increase the densities in the Park…no doubt about that. But whenever there is a stretch of great grizzly food years, the grizzly population will expand and want to return to their prime habitat in the valleys. That will never end. Higher densities in the Park will please the tourists but will make the human-grizzly problems worse, not better.

      I still say we should set more land aside for National Parks or National Wildlife Reserves. Even some of the lower river bottoms might be bought up and set aside or, at least, regulated for the preservation of these animals.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      I don’t have an answer for this question, but are you suggesting grizzly reliance on whitebark pine nuts is a more recent phenomenon (say the last 150 years or so as a result of the settlement of lower elevation valleys)?

    • Save bears Says:

      WM,

      I would assume it is, just as we discovered they now rely on the moths, which had never been recorded before, I think with human encroachment, that bears have modified their behavior and learned about new food sources that are available to them..

    • Pointwest Says:

      ++SB writes: interesting to see which endangered species is more important++

      Aren’t wolves and grizzlies in quite different niches? Grizzlies feed on quite a few plants and insects and are largely scavengers when it comes to ungulates. Further, wolves make most of their kills during the winter when grizzlies hibernate. In the summer, when carrion rots quickly, wolves and grizzlies often end up sharing a carcass that might otherwise just rot away. That is, wolves might pull down an elk or buffalo in the summer but cannot possible eat it all before it rots…so wolves end up helping scavengers such as grizzlies that can smell carrion from 18 miels? …especially in summer when it really smells. In the fall, grizzlies focus on berries to start packing on the fat for hibernation?

      I know bears graze and browse quite a bit. Do bears browse the same plants as elk? Maybe too many elk are not good for bears.

    • Pointwest Says:

      ++WM writes: are you suggesting grizzly reliance on whitebark pine nuts is a more recent phenomenon (say the last 150 years or so as a result of the settlement of lower elevation valleys)?++

      I’m sure that grizzles utilized whitebark pine nuts in 1820 just as they do now and in the same density. Those who denned near stands of whitebark pines and had learned to sniff out the caches did so, just as they do now. There were probably at least 600 bears in Yellowstone Park in 1820, but there were probably several thousand along the Upper Snake River Valley in Eastern Idaho.

      Eastern Idaho changed, Yellowstone did not change so much. But Yellowstone was never prime habbitat.

    • Save bears Says:

      PW,

      I have no idea of what you are talking about…

      My point was which one is more politically correct and finds the most favor with the public, of course I look at it from a different point of view than perhaps you do, I have been in the political game when it comes to both of these species..it really does not matter what either one does, it matters which one has the most support!

    • Pointwest Says:

      The best grizzly habitat in the world was probably the Great Central Valley of California. As I’ve mentioned before, there was once a grizzly oil industry in California similar to the whale oil industry. Market hunters would kill grizzlies five at a time and then render then down in big copper kettles into grizzly oil that was used for lamps and waterproofing. It is why the Grizzly was put on the State Flag of California.

    • JB Says:

      I must have missed some important tidbit here. Everyone I have every spoken with about wolves and grizzlies has indicated that grizzlies benefit from the presence of wolves (i.e., wolves kill ungulates and grizzlies “steal” the carcass). Is there some new evidence that suggests otherwise? What all are you two citing here?

    • Pointwest Says:

      ++JB writes (i.e., wolves kill ungulates and grizzlies “steal” the carcass). ++

      I thought this might be the case but had not read or seen on TV that studies have verified it. I may have misunderstood SB’s point.

  14. Pointwest Says:

    ++SB writes: I have no idea of what you are talking about…++

    I thought you meant that people would argue that the wolves were going to compete with grizzlies for food and therefore should be removed until the grizzly “recovers.”

    I’m saying that one could argue that wolves are good for grizzlies…it might even be true. I’d be interested to hear what expersts say about this.

    • SAP Says:

      It would appear that wolves benefit big male grizzlies, along with the occasional smaller bear with outsized moxie. Those are the ones that can take a carcass from wolves. Some big males are spending less time denned now because they can just follow wolves around in the winter and usurp their kills.

      Females with cubs would be putting their offspring at great risk if they tried this strategy.

      With wolves killing and eating elk all winter long, that means fewer carcasses available in the spring when females with cubs wake up. Bears that are able to take carcasses from wolf packs benefit from having wolves around; bears that are unable to do not benefit, and may have less high-energy food available to them as a result of wolves.

      This is not to deny that other changes brought about by wolves won’t benefit bears in the long run. Aspen stands are often highly productive feeding sites for bears: since they’re deciduous, sunlight gets to the understory of aspen stands, encouraging growth of forbs and shrubs. Also, there tend to be a lot of downed aspen trunks (shallow root system) to support ants and other insects that bears can feed on. Fewer elk may also lead to more berries. We’ll have to wait and see.

  15. Elk275 Says:

    ++Fewer elk may also lead to more berries. We’ll have to wait and see. ++

    Fewer elk are going to restrict and reduce hunting opportunities. tag numbers and hunter sucess. There will be a point in time when enough is enough. To hell with berries, I can buy a pint of blueberries at the Costco for $4.99.

    I was in Ennis, Montana yesterday at the my favorite gun store and then went over to the Rudy River Valley on business. I was able to interact with 5 or 6 people. Several said they are going to shot every wolf they see and the others just smiled or said I am going to kept it to myself. This wolf situation is going to get very ugly this fall. I hope that no one gets hurt. The local people are saying enough is enough and some are going to act.

    • timz Says:

      Bunch of Blowhards, many of them would probably shit themselves if they see a wolf.

    • Save bears Says:

      Elk,

      Based on what I am hearing, you have it exactly right, there are going to be a hell of a lot of wolves killed this fall and really there is nothing anyone can do about it..

      But I am with you, I sure hope nobody gets hurt over this, but your not going to stop them, there is just not enough resources…

    • Save bears Says:

      Keep thinking that Timz, if it makes ya feel better…

    • JB Says:

      “To hell with berries, I can buy a pint of blueberries at the Costco for $4.99.”

      That’s an interesting statement. The average retail price of a lb of choice beef is a bit under $4.50 (probably cheaper at Costco, but I wouldn’t know, I don’t buy beef or shop at Costco). The cost of ground beef is a bit less than $2.50, pork is $3.19, bacon $4.21, while poultry (overall) is $2.10.

      It seems blueberries are relatively valuable food item.

    • Elk275 Says:

      JB

      Yesterday, I could have bought approximately 75 pounds of top sirloin at Costco for $2.92 a pound. My favorite store, Town and Country, in Bozeman several weeks ago had approximately 15 pound bags of top sirlion at $2.19 with free slicing. But who would want to eat hundreds of pounds of top sirlion steak a year. Hunting does not pay at these prices.

      It is sad that steak is cheaper than fruit and fresh veggies.

    • JB Says:

      I agree. Given what is involved in producing a lb of beef versus a lb of most kinds of fruit or vegetables, it is a travesty that beef prices are so low. The price does not reflect the true cost of production of beef, and that fact only worsens the obesity epidemic here in the U.S.

    • timz Says:

      “Given what is involved in producing a lb of beef versus a lb of most kinds of fruit or vegetables, it is a travesty that beef prices are so low.”

      Maybe raising public lands grazing fees would be a start to driving the costs up.😉

    • Elk275 Says:

      One percent of the beef is grown on public lands. In the west it takes between 20 and 40 acres for one animal unit. In Flordia they can graze 4 or 5 beef on an acre.

    • WM Says:

      Well, if it makes anyone feel better, you can get 5 lbs of frozen blueberries at Costco for $7.99, as opposed to the fresh. That would make the relative cost of cheap beef look better (I personally have not seen it at the prices Elk275 quotes anywhere – not even twice that price for decent sirloin).

      As for catching, prosecuting and convicting a person of illegally killing (shooting, poisoning or trapping), taking a bet that many would be caught would be a fool’s wager on several levels.

      First, will a witness turn them in? I give it less than 50% chance. Second, will busy wildlife officers investigate a turn in? I give that a 50% chance too. Third, if enough evidence to support a charge is brought, I expect no more than 50% will pay their fine, and the other half will go to trial (probably with some outside help on the legal bills)? Then, I predict a less than 50% conviction by a jury – this will be federal court because it is a federal infraction. So half of half of half of half = 6.25% conviction and 12% paid fines for a total of 18.25% return.

      That means (if you believe my math) about 80% of wolves illegally killed will go unpunished. The odds are with the bad guys on this one, because of the nature of the offense, the values of the local population, scarce or non-existent enforcement, prosecutors that may not be inclined to spend the time on this petty crap, and juries that might ignore what the law demands. Do you really think federal courts want to be game violation prosecution forums?

    • Alan Says:

      Probably some blowhards, probably some not; but if wolf numbers start falling mysteriously won’t that just keep them on the list? To bad hunters, ranchers and others couldn’t be convinced to direct their efforts at the real problem, which is in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
      BTW, “I was in Ennis, Montana yesterday at the my favorite gun store and then went over to the Rudy River Valley on business. I was able to interact with 5 or 6 people. Several said they are going to sho(o)t every wolf they see and the others just smiled or said I am going to kept it to myself.” More examples of how “law abiding citizens have the right to keep and bear arms”?!

    • WM Says:

      Correction to my math: First would a witness turn them in?

      This should be preceeded by, what are the chances anyone will see them kill a wolf in the first place? So, even if you have trouble with other parts of the math, there is a big first question.

    • SAP Says:

      Elk275:
      The point of my entire post was whether wolves would benefit grizzlies in some way. I was not trying to convince you that more berries was a fair trade for fewer elk for humans.

      Bears can’t go to Costco to buy berries, unless they purchase a membership.

    • Elk275 Says:

      ++Bears can’t go to Costco to buy berries, unless they purchase a membership.++

      For a $45 membership they go everyday and taste all the samples they want, just like I do 2 or 3 times a week. No use in trying to take an elk from a pack of grizzlies or eating bugs and moths or pine nuts to uncertain with climate change. All for the price of a membership.

    • SAP Says:

      $45 membership X 600 grizzlies = a pretty dang cost-effective management program! The savings could be even bigger if some of the bears could share memberships.

    • jon Says:

      WM, I prefer frozen blueberries over fresh myself. I love frozen wild blueberries. I don’t think fresh regular blueberries can compare in taste to wild frozen blueberries. Frozen fruit seems to be a much better deal than fresh.

  16. jon Says:

    sb, I will agree that some wolves will indeed be killed illegally, but I also believe many hunters are just angry and are making threats they know they won’t follow through on. Wolves are also hard to kill as some hunters will tell you as they move around a lot. Most of the hunters who are advocating sss are probably the ones that won’t do it. I believe most are all talk. I have no doubt that some wolves will be killed, but I don’t that many wolves being killed. Saying something on the internet and actually going through with it in real life are two different things.

    • Save bears Says:

      Jon,

      They are not saying it on the internet….that is the crux of things, those who will kill them don’t say much at all, I don’t take the guys very seriously that post on the net, they are blow hards, bt when I sit down to have a beer, or drop into a sporting goods shop, then I start to look at things a bit differently…

      All I can say, is come next summer, we may have a better handle on who was serious and who was talking…

  17. timz Says:

    Like I said on the other thread, all you got to do is catch a couple of them and make an example by throwing the book at them. And if they’re bragging about doing it before the fact many will be bragging about it afterwards, reward money has a way of trumping friendship. (ie;Chad McKittrick)

    • jon Says:

      Some hunters are coming out not approving of some claiming they are going to illegally shoot wolves. Ralph told me he doesn’t think many wolves will be killed. I believe most of the hunters saying that are just angry about the whole wolf situation and are just letting anger out by claiming they are going to illegally kill wolves when they know they are not. Although some do hate wolves very much, I don’t think they want to take a risk of being caught and fined. Who really knows though.

      http://www.biggamehunt.net/forum/i-hereby-solemnly-swear

    • Save bears Says:

      I am of the belief, that for everyone that is talking, ten are not, but as I said, we will know more next year, when the counts come in..

    • Elk275 Says:

      Timz

      I knew Chad McKittrick not well, his best hunting buddy was Jack Daniel and I do not think that Jack turned him in.

      Try to get a court to convict a wolf killer, I do not think that a jury in the tri-state area would be able to get 6 people to vote guilty even in Missoula.

    • JB Says:

      Save bears:

      Hunters illegally killing wolves en mass might be the best thing that ever happened to [insert name of every interest group that supports wolves]. I can only imagine Defenders’ adds… More to the point, it would make it very hard for any federal court to conclude that illegal take did not threaten wolf populations, virtually ensuring continued listing. You might consider dropping those nuggets of knowledge on the folks you are speaking with.

    • Elk275 Says:

      JB

      I do not believe that wolves are going to be killed in mass. On September 1, mountain grouse season opens in the Rockies, it is going to be grouse hunters in the thicker timber with no one around that are going to shoot and wound wolves with bird shot. The wolf runs away wounded and no one will ever know. The grouse hunter will feel bad and a bit frighten for several weeks, then he/she will forget about it. I do not know about archery hunters, that is Save Bears department.

      What will happen during general rifle season, more hunters, snow and more chances of being detected. I do not know.

      Last winter I was having lunch in the Bear Claw Bar ,10 miles north of Ennis, Montana and there were a table of snow mobilers talking about how they had chased a wolf down and run over him with there snow mobile the day before.

    • Save bears Says:

      JB,

      If people are willing to break the law and kill them illegally, what the heck does their status have to do with it?, keep them listed as long as you can, that will not stop them. It is just amazing, some don’t want to understand, those that are willing to break the law could care less if they are listed and please, I am not agreeing with them, but I am concerned about them..

    • JB Says:

      “If people are willing to break the law and kill them illegally, what the heck does their status have to do with it?…It is just amazing, some don’t want to understand, those that are willing to break the law could care less if they are listed and please, I am not agreeing with them, but I am concerned about them.”

      Lots of people are willing to break laws for lots of reasons. That doesn’t make these actions right–morally speaking.

      If, as you say, the people who are willing to break the law could care less if wolves are listed, then I would say no one has anything to complain about: SSS will reduce wolf populations, the people who love wolves will get to keep them listed, Defenders will make a mint selling the controversy, and the people who hate wolves get to take out their wrath at the federal government on a wild dog.
      Everyone is happy.

      In all seriousness, of course I understand that there are some hunters…er poachers… who will take out their wrath at the mean ol’ federal government on wolves, listing status be damned. But I’m telling you that will only bring bring a lot of $$ to groups that would rather have them listed (i.e. federal control). From my perspective, the motivations of likely poachers are meaningless, it is the likely outcomes (legal and otherwise) of their actions that are of concern.

    • Save bears Says:

      JB,

      Who the hell said it is morally right, as you know, I don’t condone poaching in any form, manner or reason, that however does not close my eyes, and plug my ears…

      Now, do I think it will be widespread, no! But do I think those who are willing to do it, can be effective, I certainly do!

      Based on the last ten years, of what I have experience, both with the agency as well as a loner working on my own, I do think those and believe those willing to do this have the same mind set as the white supremacists that are anti government and will do what the heck they want, these people don’t care about murdering another human, what makes you think they care about a wolf, a grizz or any other animal that walks the woods?

      You know, we go through so many of these conversations it gets tiresome, but believe me, those people are out there and they are, unfortunately very good at what they do!

      You folks that don’t live in this environment day in and day out, don’t seem to understand, this is not anger, it is pure hate, right now in many areas of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, it is hate against the government, pure and simple and the wolf is going to be the target…..And I know, some think I am crazy, paranoid and just plain stupid…

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      SB

      I do live in “this environment,” and while I’d agree that the hate is there, I doubt the competence to put it into effect is there–in most cases. Too many hunters around here are tethered to their ATVs, and aren’t all that bright anyway– the main reason they don’t get their elk. Wolves are just handy scapegoats for incompetence.

      In any case, poaching wolves certainly isn’t widespread, and I don’t think it’s much of a problem. We have a much bigger problem with bighorn and mule deer poaching.

      Maybe it’s different up your way.

      RH

    • Save bears Says:

      Robert,

      First of all, you were not the one I was addressing with my comments, you and I have corresponded on many occasions and we believe in very similar fashions…

      I believe that in Northern Montana and Idaho, it is a bit different than in Wyoming..I don’t often see ATV’s, but I do see those who are committed to getting out there on foot, I was in a grocery line the other day picking up some vegetables and was listening to a conversation behind me, it was a little boy, in his camo, asking his Dad, when do we get to kill a wolf daddy?

      I was in a boat shop today, and an African-American walked in, made a statement, he was sorry and was in the wrong place, when he left, three guys and a gal(former county commissioner) Said “What the hell is that Ni**er doing in here? I left and ordered my parts for the fishing boat off the net..

      This is the norm, not the exception I am very sorry to say..hate is a fact of life..and it scares the hell out of me, and it don’t matter what the hate is focused on…right now it is wolves…

    • jon Says:

      Yeah, that is sad that they called that black guy that. Didn’t even have the nerve to say it to him point blank, they had to do it when he left. Hate is everywhere and it isn’t going away. How ignorant of some people to still hate blacks in this day in age simply because they were born black, something they had no control over. Wolves the same thing, they have to eat elk in order to survive and ignorant people hate them because of that. These aren’t even legit reasons why you should hate someone or some animal.

    • Save bears Says:

      Just to add,

      I have often heard the statement, hate breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds hate, and unfortunately, it is quite prevalent in many areas of the northern teer states…I see it every single day..

    • Save bears Says:

      Jon,

      Quite frankly, I was shocked and sad, and quite angry…I left and promised myself to never shop there again, it was a low point to start the week off with, I can say with 100% conviction! Hopefully the week goes uphill…

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      SB

      I realize that. I just wanted to emphasize my point that hunters and poachers are not a legitimate threat to wolves here. The threat is the government, i.e. Wildlife Services.

      I also want to say that Wyoming politics, for all its faults, has one redeeming quality–it is more libertarian than conservative, more realist than ideological, and neo-nazis are not welcome here. It’s different from northern Idaho, I guess. That’s one reason I can tolerate Wyoming politics. There’s the odd black helicopter whacko here and there, mostly in places like Casper or Rock Springs or Gillette. but that’s about it. Whackos have tried to set up shop in the State before, but they’re run out. They really are run out.

      This realism about politics is something most people don’t see or refuse to see. A lot of people are complaining about Wyoming’s wolf policy, for example, saying Wyoming is acting irrationally, idiotically, and emotionally about wolves. That simply not the case. Wyoming’s wolf policy is quite practical and rational, designed to bolster the political power of the oligarchy, mostly the Stockgrowers, against the feds and economic progressives, especially the latter, and also shift the cost of wolf management onto the feds. Despite all the talk, I see no evidence that Wyoming really wants wolf management in its hands. The status quo is simply too politically profitable.

      Yes, Wyoming’s politicoes talk the ideological junk you hear in Idaho, but they don’t believe it themselves. This realism and how it’s packaged as propaganda is one of the sources of their power. They are feudal lords, jealous of their wealth and their power . They will do most anything to keep it that way. Let’s not forget, the Johnson County War is the foundation event of Wyoming politics. This range war, in which the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association recruited, equipped, and deployed a mercenary army to kill those who would challenge the cattle barons’ control of the range, is still being fought today, albeit much less violently.

      I’ve tried to make this point about the feudal nature of Wyoming politics with Wyoming conservationists before, but either they’re simply ignorant of history or are just going along with it because life is easier here if you go along. Funding is certainly easier.

      RH

    • JB Says:

      “Based on the last ten years, of what I have experience, both with the agency as well as a loner working on my own, I do think those and believe those willing to do this have the same mind set as the white supremacists that are anti government and will do what the heck they want, these people don’t care about murdering another human, what makes you think they care about a wolf, a grizz or any other animal that walks the woods?”

      SB:

      I don’t doubt that their is a link between the authoritarian attitudes of white supremacists and the hatred of wolves; however, while I find this information interesting, I really don’t find their motivations for killing wolves to be relevant. Will some people kill wolves illegally this year? Yep. Will there be more illegal kills than last year? Probably. Will it be enough to actually have a negative impact on the wolf population? I very much doubt it.

      I posted these numbers below, but they are relevant in this thread as well. They are the aggregated mortality sources for wolves documented from 2000-2009.

      Human-caused (non-control/harvest): 150 (5.7%)
      Unknown: 181 (6.9%)
      Harvest: 206 (7.8%)
      Dispersed: 243 (9.3%)
      Missing: 290 (11.0%)
      Control actions: 1,196 (45.5%)

      *Note: Total documented human-caused mortalities for wolves only exceeded 20% of the population twice: in 2008, when the number of wolves lethally controlled increased dramatically to 264, and in 2009 when there was a legal harvest (206). Interestingly, control actions did not decrease with harvest as the Service claimed they would; rather they were at an all time high (272) in 2009.

      So in total, 20.5% of the wolf population (479/1645) was killed by humans in 2008, and 30.9% (655) was killed in 2009. And that, in combination with changes in habitat of course, is what it took to level off population growth.

      So returning to our original conversation. I believe the likelihood of poachers killing enough wolves to have a discernible effect on the population is extremely low. What is more likely is that the number of illegal killings, which is quite small when compared with control actions, will increase substantially, which will rouse the interest groups, who will point to this increase as more evidence that the threat to wolf populations is increasing.

  18. timz Says:

    “I knew Chad McKittrick not well, his best hunting buddy was Jack Daniel and I do not think that Jack turned him in.

    No the guys name was not Jack Daniel it was someone else who was with him at the time, you can find his name easily in the case records

    “Try to get a court to convict a wolf killer, I do not think that a jury in the tri-state area would be able to get 6 people to vote guilty even in Missoula.”

    McKittrick was in fact convicted as several others have been since then, even in Idaho.

    .

    • Elk275 Says:

      Timz

      That was then, this is now. I am going to call my best friend in Red Lodge this evening who knew Chad well and find out what happen. My friend has been a early supporter of wolves in Yellowstone.

  19. Robert Hoskins Says:

    I’ve heard all the talk about SSS in response to Molloy’s decision. However it’s happening now at a low level–has been for some time–and I don’t see it increasing regardless of what happens to wolves’ ESA status.

    I learned during my research up North how difficult it is to hunt or trap wolves. For every hunter who’ll work hard to poach/hunt wolves, you’ll have 30 or 40 running their mouths at the Rustic Pine about shooting every wolf they see. Well, they won’t see many wolves, so I guess all they’ll be shooting off is their mouths. Hell, I have to work hard to find wolves in my own backyard wilderness. The loudmouths from Riverton or Lander sucessfully hunting wolves? Forget it. We don’t have all that many wolves as it is.

    In fact, once wolves are hunted regularly, they’ll largely disappear and shift to night work.

    I agree with Ralph–the threat to wolves doesn’t come from hunters but from Wildlife Services with its helicopters and Judas wolves.

    RH

    • Save bears Says:

      Robert as I have said many times over the last year or so, hunters are not the threat, the Wildlife service are the threat, and until 10(j) is changed, the re-listing of wolves matters not one iota!

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      That’s true. Hunters can hunt, and poachers can poach, and it really won’t make much of a dent in the wolf population.

      The 10j problem is that Wildlife Services will be called in for wolf control to “benefit” elk, under the ridiculously easy to meet regulations in the 10j rewrite that is now on the front burner of litigation.

      10j has been a disaster.

    • JB Says:

      I spent some time recently creating a spreadsheet of wolf mortalities in the NRMs (the numbers were taken from the FWS’s wolf reports 2000-2009. Here’s what I found:

      Total recorded mortalities (including missing/dispersals): 2,676
      Human-caused (non-control/harvest): 150 (5.7%)
      Unknown: 181 (6.9%)
      Harvest: 206 (7.8%)
      Dispersed: 243 (9.3%)
      Missing: 290 (11.0%)
      Control actions: 1,196 (45.5%)

      Draw your own conclusions.

    • JB Says:

      Apologies:

      The total in line one should be: 2,627

    • jon Says:

      sb, maybe, but with all of the hunters who are willing to turn poacher and kill as many wolves as they can or come across, that is going to worry some pro wolf advocates. You are the one that says wolves are easy to kill if you don’t remember. You said you saw some wolves in front of you and you could have shot them all dead if you wanted. I know you were just trying to make a point, but I will have to agree with RH on this one in that wolves aren’t that easy to kill as they move around a lot and are smart animals. If they were easy to kill, the 220 wolf quota would have been killed in Idaho last wolf hunting season they had. I don’t doubt that some wolves will be killed.

    • REChizmar Says:

      Mr. Hoskins: some time in April / May of this year I saw the exchange you had w/ the BBB’s Farber / Rockholme / Fross and it was not until today that I actually had/took the time to re-visit that crazy communique — what a laugher it was to see they never showed up for that ‘damning’ video interview they promised … talk about calling out cowards — what a joke and what fools they proved to be. I nevertheless read their blog entries thereafter and was laughingly amazed at their ridiculous spin on why they never showed. I wonder, however, how much support these morons/hypocrites have in the tri-state area given that based on the comments following the re-listing every politician out there — MT, ID & WY — obviously hates this animal. With that said, it is hard not to beleive these goofballs have more influence than they are credited having. Rational thinking is not their baliwick — hatred for the wolf certainly runs amok in their blood. I guess my point is that while Wildlife Services may be a great threat to the wolf, it is hard to believe that the culture fostered by this lunatic fringe will not have some detrimental affect on protecting this long-maligned animal. What backward-ass thinking in this day-in-age. Just interested on your take of these nutjobs.

      BTW – Looking at that BBB, these guys obviously have/had a lot of time on their hands which is contrary to their in-the-woods-everyday dogma they proclaim. BTW 2 – there was an interesting exchnage b/t these geniuses and a guy monikering as T-Bone, and his attempt to rationalize w/ these guys also fell on deaf ears – rather crazy irrational exchange for those of you who never saw it.

    • jon Says:

      I believe they are truly afraid of interviewing someone like RH. The funny thing is one of the owners of savewesternwildlife.org Todd Fross, some may know him as freecoyote wanted to interview RH in WY, but the other owner rockholm who we all know about didn’t, so rockholm I believe started calling RH names on the bbb blog which I told RH about. This rockholm clown and his cronies want all of the Idaho fish and game commissioners fired and arrested, especially Randy Budge and Tony Mcdermott who rockholm claims made terrorist threats against hunters when most knew that Mcdermott was only joking. Rockholm and his fellow cronies sent many letters to Butch Otter demanding he fire Randy Budge for some of the comments he made about hunters at a recent meeting in Kellogg and Otter sent them letters back saying Budge isn’t getting fired. The funny thing of it all is hunters and fish and game agencies are turning on each other. Si’vet is t-bone. He used to post on here and then left here and started posting under the name t-bone. Not sure what happened to him.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      JB wrote:
      ++I spent some time recently creating a spreadsheet of wolf mortalities in the NRMs (the numbers were taken from the FWS’s wolf reports 2000-2009. Here’s what I found:

      Total recorded mortalities (including missing/dispersals): 2,676
      Human-caused (non-control/harvest): 150 (5.7%)
      Unknown: 181 (6.9%)
      Harvest: 206 (7.8%)
      Dispersed: 243 (9.3%)
      Missing: 290 (11.0%)
      Control actions: 1,196 (45.5%)

      Draw your own conclusions. ++

      Thanks JB. These figures are worth a thousand speeches by politicians and spokespeople from interest groups . . . and people who run off at the mouth in bars and cafes.

  20. Elk275 Says:

    Question:

    The 10j problem is that Wildlife Services will be called in for wolf control to “benefit” elk, under the ridiculously easy to meet regulations in the 10j rewrite that is now on the front burner of litigation.

    Is the 10j a part of the ESA or is it admintrative law? If the 10j is a part of the ESA then it is law, the same as it is illegal for an individual to kill an endangered speices i.e wolf.

    It seems me that wolf lovers are the same has anit wolf people they do not want to follow the law. If it is the law the WS has the rights to reduce wolves in order to maintain elk populations, the same as an individual does not have the right to kill a wolf.

    • JB Says:

      Elk:

      Nothing in section 10(j) specifically provides Wildlife Services any power over any species. 10 (j) does require FWS/NMFS to promulgate regulations for a species reintroduced under 10(j) (Administrative law). FWS has used 10(j) to change the rules associated with the NRM experimental population, and allow for greater “flexibility” in their management.

      See below: http://epw.senate.gov/esa73.pdf

      EXCEPTIONS
      SEC. 10. 16 U.S.C. 1539 (a) PERMITS.—(1) The Secretary may permit, under such terms and conditions as he shall prescribe…

      (j) EXPERIMENTAL POPULATIONS.—(1) For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘‘experimental population’’ means any population (including any offspring arising solely therefrom) authorized by the Secretary for release under paragraph (2), but only when, and at such times as, the population is wholly separate geographically from nonexperimental populations of the same species…

      (3) The Secretary, with respect to population of endangered
      species or threatened species that the Secretary authorized, before the date of the enactment of this subsection, for release in geographical areas separate from the other populations of such species, shall determine by regulation which of such populations are an experimental population for the purposes of this subsection and whether or not each is essential to the continued existence of an endangered species or a threatened species.

    • JB Says:

      Follow up:

      The source of the controversy is a modification to the 10(j) regulations associated with wolves that FWS promulgated in January of 2005, following the failure of the initial attempt to de/downlist wolves in the U.S. that was rejected by both the Oregon and Vermont District courts.

      http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/2005_10j/10jFR01052005.pdf

  21. Pointwest Says:

    ++SAP writes: Some big males are spending less time denned now because they can just follow wolves around in the winter and usurp their kills.
    Females with cubs would be putting their offspring at great risk if they tried this strategy.++

    I have seen video a few times of wolves running a large boar from a carcass. As long as there are four or more wolves, I thought they could run off anything. One wolf at a time can dart in from behind and bite the boar’s back tendons. While a bite to the tendons is not a life threatening wound, it can make a bore lame for a week or two which might be life threatening. I’ve had a dog bite my Achilles tendon before and could hardly walk for several days. Video I’ve seen of wolves looked like they intentionally bit the tendons of grizzlies. So a pack of wolves, I thought, could always dominate a carcass…if they want to.

    I have also seen video of a grizzly taking a carcass from wolves but assumed the wolves had full bellies or were simply not that interested in it. They like fresh kills.

    Can wolves eat an entire elk in one sitting? I would think that unless it was a very big pack, that they could not. They might hang around a kill for a few days but would often abandon it to return to the den or to patrol their territory. So some carrion would be available to sow grizzlies and cubs.

    Comments?

    I also know hyenas are one of the few predators who’s jaws are strong enough to break bones. There is quite a bit of nutrition in bone marrow. Maybe grizzlies can break the bones of elk and get the marrow. I don’t know. I’m sure a wolf could not break the large bones.

  22. Alan Says:

    According to The California Wolf Center, wolves can exert 1500 pounds of force per square inch and can crush a moose femur in 6-8 bites. According to the San Diego Zoo, Striped Hyenas are capable of 800 pounds per square inch and easily able to crush large bones.
    In cases I have witnessed in Yellowstone it seems that grizzlies usually displace wolves. I have seen single bears displace up to 8 wolves. I know the opposite happens as well, but in cases I have seen the bear seems to win most of the time or there is uneasy sharing.

  23. Alan Says:

    I have even seen a couple of cases of what appeared to be playful sharing, where the bear and wolves chased each other around, bowed to each other, rolled around, played(?) tug of war with carcass pieces etc. Remarkable!

  24. Pointwest Says:

    According to the International Wolf Center, a grey wolf can eat 22.5 lbs of meat at a single sitting.

    According to wikipedia, a cow elk weighs about 500 lbs as where bulls average about 700 lbs.

    Bison weigh between 1100 and 2000 lbs.

    Since even a pack of 10 wolves could only consume 225 lbs of meat at a sitting, I would guess wolves generally leave half eaten carcasses around for other scavengers, including grizzlies. Wolves may, in some cases, hang around the carcass and fend off scavengers but could not always to this. I doubt they could eat 22.5 lbs of food per day more than two or three times per week. I also doubt they would fend off a grizzly just after they’d eaten 22.5 lbs of meat.

    • WM Says:

      PW,

      You may want to consider a large component of wolf diet seasonally is elk and bison calves and deer fawns. They are much smaller than the average weights you cite, which are mature animals.

      You may also want to adjust average weights downward a bit to account for a portion of these animals that are old, injured and weak – much less weight than those 500 lb cow averages. They also take rut weakened (and thinner) mature bulls that have lost upward of a couple of hundred pounds of body weight during mating season. Then there is the question of weight at end of summer, or weight beginning of spring. Remember wolves get most of their ungulate meals in all months but summer, typically.

      Now what is consumable from those average weights? Lets back out the rumen and bladder contents, some bones and skull, and maybe some lost blood, and maybe a little hide. That 500 lb cow is about half wolf consumable.

      Do wolves leave residual for other animals, large and small? Sure. There is also research suggesting some of what is not eaten (rumen, urine, blood, bones) enriches the soil where the animal remains are reclaimed by nature, making the grass or other plants grow. Of course, that is also true for animals killed by hunters.

    • WM Says:

      I have mentioned this study before. It has a good discussion of nutrional requirements and prey selection of the NRM wolves in Yellowstone from reintroduction through 2004. Selection also changes depending on what is available. It would interesting to know how diet has changed since the wolves have gone through those excess older elk. Wolf population certainly has gone down from 171+ to below 100.

      Foraging and Feeding Ecology of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus): Lessons from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA1–3, Daniel R. Stahler, Douglas W. Smith and Debra S. Guernsey. Yellowstone Center for Resources, Wolf Project,

      http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/136/7/1923S

      ++With respect to the food requirements for wild wolves, a minimum daily energy requirement of 3.25 kg · wolf–1· d–1 (5 x daily basal metabolic rate) has been estimated for a 35 kg wolf (12). For wolves in YNP (mean wt 45 kg), estimated mean food consumption rates based on early and later winter kill rates is 5.7 kg · wolf–1· d–1 and 10.4 kg · wolf–1· d–1, respectively. Actual consumption rates are less than this, however, because these values are based on live weights of respective age and sex class of ungulates killed and do not take into account biomass lost to scavengers or inedible rumen or bone. Adapted to a feast-or-famine foraging pattern, a pack of wolves [approx. 8-10 wolves] typically kills and consumes an elk every 2–3 d in Yellowstone. ++

    • Pointwest Says:

      Thanks WM, I was looking for something like this.

      A few comments:

      I know many wolf kills are calves and wolves can consume an entire calf. My question is, however, are wolves good for grizzlies or are wolves bad for grizzlies? My guess is that they are good since grizzlies do scavenge for food and wolves provide carrion for scavengers.

      This ‘Foraging and Feeding Ecology of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus): Lessons from Yellowstone National Park’ study is a wintertime study. Grizzlies are usually in in their dens by December so this does not shed light in the entire issue.

      There is also a lot of variation in the data they provided. In the one sampling, less than 20% of kills were bulls. In another sampling, over 40% of kills were bulls. I’m sure the weather in a particular season can play a big part.

      I would guess that upwards of 80% of an elk carcass can be consumed by grizzlies or wolves. If they are hungry enough, they will eat most of the hide and many of the bones so that in some cases, it may even be higher than 80%. I have seen kills where there is nothing left except antlers, a partial skull, and hair in the snow.

      Also, what happens to a kill in winter is much different than what happens in summer. A wintertime kill will freeze and remain fresh all winter. An elk killed in summer and left in the sun will begin to seriously rot in a day. I know wolves and grizzlies will eat rotten meat to a point although I do not know what that point is. It , of course, probably depends upon just how hungry they are. I would say if wolves pull down a large 600 lb cow elk in August and only consume 200 lbs of it, unless a grizzly or other scavengers find it within a few days, it will just rot away. So if wolves happen to make a large kill in summer, they will fill their bellies and then abandon the carcass to other scavengers including grizzlies.

      You know, since both grizzlies and wolves are endangered species and since both are in our greatest National Park, you’d think there would be studies on this.

  25. Ralph Maughan Says:

    I believe it has been documented in a paper that large wolf packs lose less meat to scavengers than to small packs.

    That suggests then that large packs as found in Yellowstone Park more often than in places where human caused wolf mortality is high make more efficient use of their kills than the smaller packs outside of protected areas.

  26. Robert Hoskins Says:

    I don’t have much to add about the Bad Bear Blog episode this past spring. I will say that in the various videos Rockholm has posted, it’s clear he’s interested only in “interviewing” pro-wolf people who’d barely know a wolf if one was seen. There are quite a few of them, we all know, those who believe the pretty puppy propaganda groups like Defenders put out. They don’t know the facts and they’re easy to trip up with lies, since they don’t know the truth from the lies.

    These guys said they were coming to Dubois and challenged me to an interview, and I called their bluff and said I’d be available at the Cowboy Cafe. Not only did they not show at the Cowboy, they didn’t show in Dubois either. I did get a really nice mexican omelette though; it’s a Cowboy specialty.

    I still don’t believe Save Our Elk/Save Western Wildlife/Lobo Watch types pose a direct threat to wolves through poaching. They don’t have the outdoor skills to pull it off. They are part of the larger wingnut movement that the Tea Party has tapped into. It’s extreme xenophobia–wolves, Muslims, African-Americans, illegal immigrants, greenies, etc. are all the enemy. They really aren’t able to distinguish among the enemies–they’re all alien, and that’s enough.

    Their real threat is political–the the irrational and ignorant mass base for base politicians like Sarah Palin, Newt Gringrich, and the like who are attacking anything associated with the commons and the public good to privatize the wealth associated with the commons. It’s a feudal threat proceeding under Lockean/capitalist/Randian propaganda. Of course, the mass base is getting snookered and robbed; their property rights don’t count.

    The biggest threat to hunting isn’t the wolf, but the rich CEO who buys a big ranch and controls lots of land and begins to set up his cohort of vassals in various so-called “public-private partnerships.” All these partnerships do is extend the private control over the commons.

    RH

    • Elk275 Says:

      ++I still don’t believe Save Our Elk/Save Western Wildlife/Lobo Watch types pose a direct threat to wolves through poaching. They don’t have the outdoor skills to pull it off.++

      Wolves will be shot as an opportunity for a hunter who feels that know one is watching. I do think that many anti-wolf do have the outdoors skills, but the more skilled one is the less likely he/she is going to shot a wolf. My own opinion

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      Opportunity shots would occur at random and thus do not pose a threat to the wolf population As far as skill goes, I was referring to hard core poachers, certainly not ethical hunters.

      I stand on my statement that the anti wolf whackos by and large lack the outdoor skills to effectively hunt wolves. Certainly, they display an astounding lack of knowledge of the natural history of predators and prey that reflects a lack of skill.

      RH

  27. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Robert Hoskins wrote:
    ++The biggest threat to hunting isn’t the wolf, but the rich CEO who buys a big ranch and controls lots of land and begins to set up his cohort of vassals in various so-called “public-private partnerships.” All these partnerships do is extend the private control over the commons.++

    In other words, an extension of the feudal social/economic/political system that dominates the interior West

    • Robert Hoskins Says:

      Yep.

      Conservationists, by and large, are so historically ignorant. Either that or they’ve permitted themselves to become vassals.

      RH

  28. Pointwest Says:

    If things get ugly, the rancher are the ones with their asses exposed. Let’s say all the boys in the bar or at the coffee shop do start shooting wolves on sight. So what. The success rate for elk is something like 25% and the ratio of wolves to elk is less than 1 in 200. So how many wolves are the boys going to get. And yes, many poachers do get caught because the sound of gunfire travels for miles.

    On the other hand, if extremists on the wolf and environmental side want to declare war on ranchers, livestock are very easy to find and destroy…much more easy than wolves. And a small pair of klines will cut a barbed wire fence. If people want to start disobeying the law and start a war, it will be the ranchers who have the most to lose. Ranchers would be wise to call for calm and ask that everyone obey the law.

    In general, laws protect the wealthy.


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