Severe winter causes big die-off of big game in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

The never-ending winter in the Northern Rockies hits deer, elk, moose, pronghorn hard-

During the winter, I made a number of posts about the hard conditions for ungulates in the Northern Rockies. The failure of spring to arrive is causing deaths to continue and grow.

Record wildlife die-offs reported in Northern Rockies. Reuters. By Laura Zuckerman.

Wolf population growth in ID/MT/WY halted in 2009

Increased mortality has stopped the wolf population growth says USFWS-

Tally shows wolves holding steady in region after Montana, Idaho hunting seasons. By Matthew Brown. AP

The 3 state wolf population growth has stopped. Wyoming’s population, where there was no wolf hunt, grew slightly. Montana’s population dropped slightly. Idaho figures are not in, but said to be comparable to last year. Although the article above attributes the halt to the hunt, it should be noted that wolf population growth had been dropping on its own for several years.

The article says “The number of breeding packs increased slightly, from 95 to 111.” [emphasis added]. This could be because increased mortality, especially with hunting might be expected to result in more pack, but smaller packs. However, the delisting plan requires each state to count its breeding pairs, not breed packs. They are not the same. A breeding pack is a group of wolves with some pups at the end of the year. The definition of a breeding pair is different. It has to be two or more wolves with 2 pups at the end of the year and the individual wolves that produced the pups have to also be alive too at the end of the year.

Here is an opposing view from the NRDC. Big Problem: Wolf Population Declining [see note] in Northern Rockies. By Matt Skoglund. Opposing Views. Note that this headline is wrong because NRDC doesn’t say in the article that the wolf population is declining. Skoglund had originally entitled it “The Northern Rockies Wolf Population Has Stopped Growing.” It was changed when Opposing Views picked it up.