Yellowstone bears and wolves fight over carcasses

Their ancient struggle apparently has little effect on their populations-

That’s the conclusion of Dr. Doug Smith who heads the Park’s wolf program.

I think that might well be true overall, but Yellowstone Park is a small place when it comes to major predators.  With the wolf population in the Park as small as it now is, random fluctuations of predatory effects might, in my opinion, have an important effect on the wolves as far as the Park alone is concerned. . . RM

Bears butting in on Yellowstone wolf kills. Battle of carnivores ultimately has little effect on population. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Poop Reveals an Immigrant in Isle Royale Wolves’ Gene Pool

The population of wolves on Isle Royale was formed when a pair of wolves crossed frozen Lake Superior in 1949 from Canada. Since 1958, one of the most important and longest studies of wolf/moose interactions has taken place there. The wolves and moose have fluctuated up and down due to many causes such as tick infestations, genetic inbreeding and fluctuations of forage for moose and prey for wolves. These interactions are seen as a microcosm of wolf prey interactions and demonstrate the many influences on populations.

In the course of this study researchers have found that another male wolf crossed the frozen lake and joined the population. His genes are now represented in 56%, or 9 wolves, of the population of 16 now present on the island.

Besides genetic inbreeding, there is another issue which could eliminate wolves from the island and that is the possible loss of the two remaining female wolves. That has prompted a proposal to bring a few new wolves from the mainland to supplement the population’s genetics and increase their fitness. This runs counter to the National Park Service’s policy to allow natural processes to take place so there will surely be debate about this in the future.

Isleroyalewolf.org has an interesting graph showing the historical wolf and moose population fluctuations that you can see here: http://vicksta.com/wolf%20and%20moose%20graph7.html

Poop Reveals an Immigrant in Isle Royale Wolves’ Gene Pool
Michigan Tech News.

US Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments on Montana’s wolf reduction proposal in the Bitterroot Mountains

Blaming wolves for poor elk management?

Graph of information presented in Montana's Bitterroot 10(j) proposal. (Click for Larger View)

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an Environmental Assessment for Montana Fish Wildlife and Park’s wolf reduction proposal for the Bitterroot hunting district HD250 just southeast of Hamilton, Montana.  In the proposal to kill all but 12 wolves in the district, they claim that wolves are responsible for declines that they have seen in the district and that they are causing “unacceptable impacts” elk population there such that they can no longer meet the objectives they have set there.

While the elk population has declined it should be noted that there was a sharp increase in harvest of all classes of elk in the area after wolves were documented even though as one of the peer reviewers says “[t]here is strong evidence that female harvests need to be reduced when wolves are present (for example, see Nilsen et al. 2005, Journal of Applied Ecology)”. The elk count objectives for the area were also drastically increased to levels far above what the area had previously supported and harvest levels remained high as well.

There is also very little information about the population of bears and mountain lions which also take elk.  Bears, in particular, take very young elk and can have a very large impact on elk populations.

Whether or not killing large numbers of wolves and other predators is effective in increasing elk populations is still debatable but it seems apparent to me that the FWP is blaming wolves for their poor management of elk and that their objectives were based on more wishful thinking rather than what was actually possible.

Here are the Criteria for Proposing Wolf Control Measures under the 2008 NRM Gray Wolf ESA Section 10(j) Rule

  1. The basis of ungulate population or herd management objectives
  2. What data indicate that the ungulate herd is below management objectives
  3. What data indicate that wolves are a major cause of the unacceptable impact to the ungulate population
  4. Why wolf removal is a warranted solution to help restore the ungulate herd to management objectives
  5. The level and duration of wolf removal being proposed
  6. How ungulate population response to wolf removal will be measured and control actions adjusted for effectiveness
  7. Demonstration that attempts were and are being made to address other identified major causes of ungulate herd or population declines or of State or Tribal government commitment to implement possible remedies or conservation measures in addition to wolf removal

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Lords of Nature presented by WWP at the Idaho Outdoor Association

Tonight, March 8 · 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Location
Idaho Outdoor Association
3401 Brazil Street
Boise, ID

Wolves and cougars, once driven to the edge of existence, are finding their way back — from the Yellowstone plateau to the canyons of Zion, from the farm country of northern Minnesota to the rugged open range of the West. This is the story of a science now discovering top carnivores as revitalizing forces of nature, and of a society now learning tolerance for beasts they once banished. Narrated by Peter Coyote.

After the film Ken Cole and Brian Ertz of Western Watersheds Project will present their views of wolf management, the agencies that manage them, and the present political climate in which wolf management exists.

The event is FREE.

Visit the Idaho Outdoor Association website

To find out more information about the film visit: Lords of Nature

Visit the Western Watersheds Project website:

View on Google Maps

Judge’s ruling could threaten state’s ability to kill wolves

This is a very important case

Judge Molloy has issued a order asking the defendants and plaintiffs why the 10(j) lawsuit “should not be dismissed as moot due to the absence of a population meeting the statutory requirements for 10(j) status.”

If the lawsuit is dismissed wolves in all of the Northern Rockies could lose their status as an experimental, non-essential population or 10(j) status and receive full protection under the Endangered Species Act.  This would be because wolves from the Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone populations have bred with those in the Northern Idaho/Northwest Montana population which came from Canada on their own and enjoy full protection of the ESA because they are not part of the 10(j) population.  To receive 10(j) status, a population must be “wholly separate geographically from nonexperimental populations of the same species.”.

This would surely heat up the debate about wolves and would make it much more difficult to kill wolves for protection of ungulates and livestock in all areas where wolves exist in the Northern Rockies. This would also change the whole dynamic at play with Wyoming’s intransigence. If wolves remain listed in Wyoming and this lawsuit is dismissed then wolves there would be much more difficult to kill. This would provide ample motivation for Wyoming to come up with a management plan that is acceptable to the USFWS.

As soon as we get a copy of the order we will post it.

Judge’s ruling could threaten state’s ability to kill wolves
Lewiston Morning Tribune.

Judge’s ruling could put new limits on wolf hunts
Associated Press

Wildlife Services revises Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment

Drops gassing of pups in their dens and sterilization but continues heavy handed killing of wolves.

Public Comments accepted until January 3, 2011

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

In anticipation of Monday’s federal court hearing of a case brought by Western Watersheds Project, Wildlife Services has revised its Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment. While the new EA drops gassing of wolf pups in their dens and use of sterilization, the preferred alternative does not consider exhaustive use of non-lethal methods to prevent wolf conflicts by intimating that it would be too expensive for ranchers to use proper animal husbandry techniques to avoid such conflicts.

Wildlife Services [sic], formerly Animal Damage Control, is an agency under the Department of Agriculture which responds to wildlife threats to agriculture. They are not related to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is under the Department of Interior and who manages endangered species, enforces the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and manages National Wildlife Refuges.

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Wyoming elk population is large despite dire predictions in the past

As Freudenthal leaves office, a reminder of reality-

Freudenthal is on to other things. We don’t know what Governor Mead will do, but over a year ago Wyoming outfitters Tory and Meredith Taylor wrote an excellent story for WyoFile on the true state of affairs with wolves and elk in the Cowboy Energy State.

Barstool Mountain Myths: Wolves & Elk Numbers Strong Despite Dire Predictions. By WyoFile on April 6, 2009