Have you come across any interesting wildlife news? May 29, 2011

This replaces the 29th edition. That edition will now move slowly into the depths of the blog-

Seven bighorn rams on the wall of Gardner Canyon. Yellowstone NP. Copyright Ralph Maughan

45 Responses to “Have you come across any interesting wildlife news? May 29, 2011”

  1. JimT Says:

    The latest issue of HCN has a story about wolves…sure to elicit some strong reactions. But, it is not available yet online. But keep a note in your head, or get a subscription…:*)

  2. Peter Kiermeir Says:

    Deep snowpack, more grizzlies mean more human-bear encounters
    The count is on: For Montana only, already six encounters this year, means four dead bears.

    • WM Says:

      the relationship seems clear:

      more griz in more places + more people in the woods during more of the year + changing climate = more dead griz

  3. JimT Says:

    Here in Boulder as well…black bears, of course. People in the mountains leaving windows open, bird feeders and garbage out, etc. And yet, no fines from DWS for having to come in and kill a bear that they effectively lured to its death. What the hell ever happened to accountability?

  4. JEFF E Says:


    Really not the latest breaking news but interesting

  5. timz Says:

    This is a well written piece as to why Idaho remains at the bottom of the barrel. It some weird way it ties in to their way of thinking when it comes to wildlife as well.

    • PointsWest Says:

      I can remember back when some company proposed the Pioneer Coal Fired Plant near Boise about 30 years ago and several prominent Boisians banded together and killed it. Why? It was not due to the air pollution it might create. Boise is a very white collar town and it did not want dirty working class people the Pioneer might bring moving into their highly purified Republican society. It was such a trendy and socially elevating cause being against Pioneer. I can remember seeing the joy and elation in the faces of those who shouted it down. You revealed your purity and high class being against Pioneer. Boisians accepted Micron and HP building plants in their midst several years later because these were hi-tech and promised a higher class of people. Now, many microelectronic jobs are being shipped to Asia and most of the jobs that microelectronic plants create, due to competion from Asia, are low paying.

      It was Boise efforts to keep itself pure that stifled sound economic development and now it is a very low-rent town.

  6. Cody Coyote Says:

    The Number Two man at Wyoming Game and Fish is making up numbers about Yellowstone grizzly bear numbers again.


    Emmerich is bad news for genuine wildlife conservation and the clearest example I have of how corrupt my state game and fish managers have become in the past two decades. I used to have a lot of respect for Wyo G&F and supported them. But that was before both internal and external politics subsumed them , and wildlife began being managed nearly exclusively for and by financial criteria.

    Emmerich just waved his hand before a state legislative committee and ‘ whoosh! ‘ – nearly doubled the estimated number of bears. Grrrrrr…….

  7. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt (which he might not deserve), because he said 1000 grizzlies, not 770 or 1150, shows that at best, this is just a guess.

    • Peter Kiermeir Says:

      This playing around with numbers game looks like a “setting the scene” for delisting. Further down in the article there are quite a few revealing statements, like “explosion of grizzly bears”, “there are too many” etc. etc. I think it would make sense. Surely quite a lot of people longing for a bear pelt or a set of claws, maybe a nice head on the wall? Oh, sorry, I forgot, they will of course eat all those excessive grizz.

  8. JEFF E Says:

    I use to have a book that said wolves eyesight ranged into the edge of UV wave length. wish I could find it again.

  9. Nancy Says:

    +I just did a quick Google search with the terms – wolves, Mongoia, horses, kill. The results showed wolves have been working on horses for a long time, and most recently in Mongolia have threatened populations of reintroduced Przewalski Horses in Hustai National Park+

    What’s interesting WM is the Prewalski horse was hunted almost to extinction by humans (for meat)

    A good read:

    • Elk275 Says:

      Nancy, have you ever eaten horse meat, drank fermented mares milk or had tea with yak butter? It has been offer but I politely refused. If the Prewalski horse was hunted almost to extinction it was by the Mongolians, the hunting was done by the local people not outsiders. It is there land and let them do what they want.

      Mongolians hate wolves more than anyone in the Northern Rockies. The Mongolians that I hunted, fished and stayed with wanted me to return in the winter with a modern rifle and a good scope for wolf hunting.
      Every year the these locals lost livestock and horse to wolf packs. Their firearms are poor quality with limited ammunition. Mongolian in the winter is not my idea of a vacation, I said no, and yes to Chile.

      • JEFF E Says:

        One of the times I was in Germany we had just spent about 30 some days in the field and were on our way out when everyone voted to stop at the KFC in Munchen. Surprised too see ribs on the menu. Each rib was about 10 inches long and almost no fat. tasted good too.

      • Savebears Says:

        Horse meat was common table fare in my family growing up, it was cheaper than beef and it was quite good, where I grew up we have 4 different horse meat specific markets and they sold horse meat in the local grocery stores.

      • PointsWest Says:

        It is so obvious to me what the answer is. In Mongolia, as elsewhere, areas need to be set aside as special preditor priority game reserves or parks where large preditors have prioirty over livestock, logging, farming, etc. Outside these areas, these large prediors can be killed. Inside they are protected. Some borders will need to be fenced.

        These areas might be very large, thousands of square miles, and contain farms and ranches and towns. But inside, the preditors have priority and people will need to learn to live with them.

        I do not see a better way to protect these large dangerous preditors.

      • Harley Says:

        Horse meat… yikes. I understand the why but I’m not sure I could do it unless starving! In the same token, could not eat dog or cat either unless there was nothing, absolutely nothing else.

        Of course, when I was younger I used to think that about venison, thank you Bambi! But once I did try it, I found I actually like it.

      • Savebears Says:


        I was served what I was sure was dog when overseas, and to refuse would have been considered not so cool, in some of the places I have been, to share your food with others is considered one of the highest honors you can do. Mountain Lion prepared correctly is quite tasty, we have some misconceptions in the US about different types of foods, that are non-existent in other parts of the world, thanks to the mighty corporations!

        Can you imagine Wendy’s and McDonalds advertising their newest creations! Come on down for our new Horse Burger! How about some Cat Prime Rib on Friday night!

      • Harley Says:

        lol oh man, you made me laugh with that last bit! I suppose we would all be surprised at what we could stomach if there was no alternative. Oh! Btw, thank you SB for your service. Today is a good day to remember those who have served and continue to do so.

      • jon Says:

        Harley, if wolves can kill and take down moose, then they can probably take down and kill a horse. When you have a pack of wolves, they can take down just about any big animal you can think of. Look at lions. They take down giraffes. The question is whether wolves killed this horse or not. carter exposed what went on when he worked with ws. Ranchers livestock were killed by natural and other reasons and ranchers blame those deaths on predators such as wolves. It’s no surprise to me that some are questioning whether this horses death was really by wolves. My own persona belief is that ranchers specifically the ones that hate wolves and there are a lot of these will blame wolves for one when livestock or one of their domestic animals die from a natural death or from some other reason not being predator related. Often times livestock die of natural reasons like carter has said numerous times and predators come to feed on the dead animal and they just assumed that wolves killed that animal. I think this happens more often than we think.

      • JB Says:

        “…the hunting was done by the local people not outsiders. It is there land and let them do what they want.”

        It is this exact form of thinking that has led to many of our worst environmental problems. You must recognize this?

      • JB Says:

        “…areas need to be set aside as special preditor priority game reserves or parks where large preditors have prioirty over livestock, logging, farming, etc. Outside these areas, these large prediors can be killed. Inside they are protected.”

        Actually, this pretty much describes the system we have–at least in some places–in the United States. Wolves, cougars and bears (along with other wildlife) are protected in Yellowstone, but harvested in national forests and other public lands. Generally speaking, as landscapes become more urbanized, our management of predators becomes more aggressive.

      • Elk275 Says:


        ++It is this exact form of thinking that has led to many of our worst environmental problems. You must recognize this++

        It is one thing for a national, state, or a local government to exercise restraint on the lands within their geopolitical boundaries, but another thing for a sovereign state/nation or citizens of a nation to demand environmental to regulations in a country that’s half way around the world. But then that has been the modus of operation of the United States since the end of World War Two not in environment affairs but political affairs.

        There is nothing wrong with developed nations to act in an advisory capacity, but it is another thing to get involved with their legislative bodies on domestic issues. It’s called the ugly American. Maybe the biggest issue now is the clearing of the rain forest in the Amazon Basin for agricultural uses. The destruction of the rain forest is going go beyond Brazil, affecting billions of people outside the Brazil’s boundaries but should another country try or be able to restrict the clearing of the rain forest? That is a question we all wish Brazil would find the answer for.

        Back to Mongolia. I was in Mongolia for over 3 weeks and in those years was able to afford a car, driver, guide, interpreter and cook, we travel over a thousand miles. Mongolia is the most over graze landscape’s that I have seen. A large part of the landscape looks like a golf green, one could hit a golf ball for miles and never lose sight of it. To the herder his animals are his wealth and it was my discretionary income that brought me to Mongolia. We all want the same and what we want is going to destroy why we came.

      • JB Says:

        True enough, but what happens when (say) pollution in one country has detrimental effect in another? Should we intervene or attempt to intervene then? What happens when we (Americans) are the polluter (read greenhouse gases)?

        “We all want the same and what we want is going to destroy why we came.”

        Have you read Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons”? If not, you should really take a look:


  10. Nancy Says:

    Elk – never had a desire to try horse meat (did try yak meat once) and I wasn’t condemning the Mongolians for the near extinction of the Prewalski horse, we have our own sorry ass examples of history here when it comes to nearly wiping out species when certain aspects of society don’t want them around..

    A lot of parallels between the west here and Mongolia:

    and it would appear outfitters have a decent handle on hunting there, as here:

    Kind of liked this paragraph (from the link in my earlier post)

    If the products of Man are inferior to those of Original Nature, then the implications are exceedingly far-reaching. Seeing all this and at the same time all too frequently rejecting the message carried by the reality that manifests as the gray and powerful canine child of the wilderness, some human cultures reject the wolf because they cannot bear the great truth in its message: That civilization, the way it has formed to this day, is in many ways inferior to Nature’s solutions, and that a more healthy way to live would be possible if humans could allow themselves to be aligned with natural life instead of falsely believing that human culture is morally or otherwise superior to Nature.

  11. Nancy Says:

    +These areas might be very large, thousands of square miles, and contain farms and ranches and towns. But inside, the preditors have priority and people will need to learn to live with them+

    I believe that idea has been tossed around in the past PW. Heard the area would stretch from Yellowstone to Glacier, which pretty much covers a hell of a lot of wilderness areas and public lands.
    But unfortunately, a mere 3% of all livestock raised in this country (and their owners) control most, if not all, of the political decisions made in local government here in the west, when it comes to any attempts to secure wildlife and their habitat.

  12. Nancy Says:

    +We all want the same and what we want is going to destroy why we came+

    So will, and is it okay, for mankind to continue to repeat (and echo) those words Elk , til even desert areas are turned into condos, housing developments and 5 star golf courses, wilderness areas are turned into bait traps for wildlife who venture into them (as in more housing developments) wildlife that doesn’t have a clue, nor the ability to understand, why their habitat continues to shrink?

  13. Immer Treue Says:

    Back to the Darby horse. I am NOT saying that WOLVES DID NOT do this, and I am in favor of intervention by the rancher.

    That said, I just had a conversation with an Ely, MN friend who keeps a 20 year old horse among 4 others on a hundred acres, year round. She has seen wolves and coyotes on the acreage, and said in terms of the wild “dogs” she has no real fear. About four years ago in Ely, a cougar did kill a horse, and she said if she has any concerns about predators with her horse, it is with cougars.

    Her point of contention is that with a healthy prey base, and there are plenty of deer in N Minnesota, that horses are not worth a wolves while. Horses are FAST and they can and will KICK. She was curious as toward the overall health of the horse, did it run into a barbed wire fence and get hung up, did it have colic, was it the least bit lame? Was the horse on the range all Winter and was it weak. How often was the horse monitored? She checks her horses physical condition everyday. She asked was the horse autopsied in terms of it’s physical condition?

    She stressed that it is not impossible for wolves to kill a healthy horse, but it is not likely, thus the rarity of such cases. I really don’t want to weigh in on this issue anymore other than I am sorry for the ranchers loss of his horse, and if wolves habituate that area, they are probably not long for this world.

    • Nancy Says:

      Immer – I have as much faith in the true facts coming out in this incident as I did with the Appleby/Pitman incident.

    • WM Says:


      Always good to know ALL the details. We don’t here, yet, if ever.

      My friends who used to have Rolling Dog Ranch in Ovando, MT, just a stones’ throw from Helena and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, cared for disabled animals. They had a number of blind horses, added to their mix of disabled dogs, over the years. The horses were behind sheep net fences, and the barbed wire was up high, if any at all. The blind horses could negotiate their known pastures (mental map just like a human but probably even better), often with another blind horse buddy.

      Just to be clear, to my knowledge they never had predator problems, but hypothetically one or more predators chasing them (or even a sighted horse at night) and who knows what happens to the mental map.

      I gather this Darby incident happened at night, and I am not suggesting 13 year old “Jack” was sight impaired, but you never know. Run the horse into a fence, trapping them in a corner or along a line and the wolf’s job gets a lot easier. Even more so, if there is wire involved.

      Incidentally, my friends moved their disabled animal ranch to New Hampshire, where the weather is a little more temperate, and competent/compassionate help is easier to find compared to where they were.

      • WM Says:

        Also, recall those Great Lakes wolves are about 2/3 the size of the NRM ones, and seem to run in generally smaller packs.

      • Harley Says:

        Did either of you see the latest annual report from Isle Royale? It shows a picture of a group of wolves and the one in the center is bigger and a lighter color than the other ones. They are saying he crossed over from the mainland a few years ago and helped the gene pool on the island. Almost all the wolves on the island can be traced back to him, or so the hypothesis goes. It’s interesting to see his appearance, how different it is from the smaller inbred wolves on the island.
        WM, 2/3 the size of NRM wolves? What is the average size of an NRM wolf compared to the GL wolves?

      • Immer Treue Says:


        Have to lock horns with you a bit on a couple things. Perhaps on average NRM wolves are a tad larger than GLS wolves, but not by 1/3.
        MN females ~50 to 85 pound average
        MN males ~ 85 to 115 occasionally up to 130 pounds

        2009 Montana hunt adults averaged 97 pounds, with I believe the largest at about 117 pounds.
        2009 Idaho hunt 54 to 127 pounds with females averaging 79 pounds and males at 100 pounds.

        Size in terms of weight differential is a mute point.

        Pack size. I shared a lake one Winter with a pack of eight wolves in MN for 3 days. I spent some time with Jim Brandenburg when he was filming a pack of eighteen wolves. Though I did not see them, I did have the pleasure of hearing them howl from a fairly close distance. Pretty impressive sound!

        Killing: pack size doesn’t much matter as usually the killing is done by one or two wolves in the pack. Bob Hayes postulated pack size has more to do with carcass utilization. The more wolves, the more of the carcass is utilized by wolves, as scavengers, ravens in particular, don’t have a chance to feed. If it’s just a twosome, they can’t keep the ravens away, or coyotes and bears for that matter. Ravens will eat an enormous amount of meat once the carcass is opened.

      • WM Says:


        I was a bit rough on the size difference – but there definitely is one. About a year ago or a little longer there was quite a bit of discussion about the difference – lots of stats and all. Maybe I should have said 3/4, or something like the ambiguous stat that the NRM wolves are a third larger than the GL. Sorry I can’t recall exactly. I would not even want to venture whether harvest statistics are representative of the general population.

        As for pack size, one significant reason the MN curremt total wolf population estimate is lower than the previous 5 year estimate is that pack size in the modeling was reduced. I can’t find it now, but the mean was like 4.9, down from about 5.5 or so in earlier survey estimates (I spoke to one of the MN DNR guys doing the survey stats, who informed me of this.).

        I think the NRM pack size has been generally larger, with a mean of some where between 7-9. Maybe someone with a bit more time and current knowledge can tell us, if I am off on that.

        As for how many wolves need to participate in a kill. Just showing up is sometimes enough to confuse prey, block exits and prevent escape, even though two or three may be the designated kill team.

        So, I will still venture individual wolf size, and larger numbers “involved” in prey attack may differ between the two populations, and may be significant under certain circumstances. I was just speculating on the possible factors and effect on a horse attack based on the conversation with your MN friend, who did not seem so worried about risk to her horse.

      • WM Says:


        I read a bit more last night. It seems we both might be correct, based on what appears to be varying data provided by different agencies. There is considerable variability. WI DNR says their wolves weigh – “50-100 pounds/average for adult males is 75 pounds, average for adult females is 60 pounds,” which is lower than what you cite for MN wolves. Source: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/mammals/wolf/wolf_facts.htm

        Since WI gets their wolves exclusively from in migrating MN sources, how can they generally be smaller?

        NRM wolves according to Mech in the 2009 delisting rule: In the NRM, cites adult male gray wolves average over 100 pounds, but may weigh up to 130 pounds. Females weigh slightly less than males.(Mech as referenced in the Final NRM delisting rule, April 2, 2009, 74 FR 15123).

        Stahler, et al. in a nutritional study refers to average YNP wolves at 100 pounds. Mollie’s Pack, a prominent YNP pack that feeds on the bison, has individual male wolves that are notably larger according to Kathy Lynch, a recognized authority on YNP wolves and pack observer. I think Ralph has specific individual wolf data for some larger Mollie’s members, somewhere on this forum in a past discussions.

        Curiously the most recent delisting rule proposal for the Western Great Lakes only gives stats for WI wolves, with: ++The average weight of
        male wolves in Wisconsin is 35 kg (77
        lb) and ranges from 26 to 46 kg (57 to
        102 lb), while females average 28 kg (62
        lb) and range from 21 to 34 kg (46 to 75
        lb) (Wisconsin Department of Natural
        Resources (WI DNR) 1999).++

        And pack sizes range for all three states as follows:
        pack size in Michigan’s Upper
        Peninsula (UP) averaged from 2.7 to 4.6
        wolves during the 1995 through 2005
        period and ranged from 2 to 14 wolves
        per pack (Huntzinger et al. 2005). Pack
        size in Wisconsin is similar, averaging
        3.8 to 4.1 wolves per pack, and ranging
        from 2 to 11 wolves in winter 2004–05
        (Wydeven and Wiedenhoeft 2005). In
        Minnesota the average pack size found
        in the 1988–89, 1997–98, and 2003–04
        winter surveys was higher—5.55, 5.4,
        and 5.3 wolves per pack, respectively
        (Erb and Benson 2004).++

        Click to access FRPropDelistMay2011.pdf

        Note: Erb, as stated in my previous post, dropped MN mean pack size to 4.9, for the 2008 estimate, thus partially contributing to a resulting lower total MN population than the prior estimate period for 2004.

        At least one FWS reference shows average NRM pack size at 10, or over twice the size of GL packs as recently reported. Source: http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2007/qandasgraywolfbiology.pdf ; see Item 12.

      • Salle Says:

        Merely for those interested, this link is to Dr. James Halfpenny’s website, the page to order his wolves of YNP pack charts. these charts show photos of individuals and their relationships and other info all on a nifty 8.5×11″ laminated page. very useful for watching wolves in the park. He also has several books about the wildlife of the Rockies, including tracking guides. Might find some good data in his work as well.

        FYI, Dan Stahler works for YNP; Kathie Lynch is a volunteer watcher and monitors the wolves of northern YNP, Lamar Valley area in particular and is a BOD member for the Wolf Recovery Foundation.

        You should also find some pack size and individual wolf size info from the USFWS web site: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/


  14. Nancy Says:

    +Whatever became of the Appleby/Pitman case?+

    One less wolf, end of story………….

    • Salle Says:

      Never underestimate the power of ignorance.

    • william huard Says:

      They’re already talking about removing wolves with the help of WS in Utaaaaa. As if wolves will ever have a chance to form breeding pairs in Peabrain Peay land!

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