4 Mar 2008, 11:46am
Deer, Elk, Bison
by admin

Lochsa River Elk Report

by Steve Alder, Chairman of the Clearwater Chapter of Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife Idaho

I just returned from looking for elk in the Lochsa River (unit 12, Lolo zone) and in my opinion there aren’t enough elk to support 10 wolves, let alone the proposed 500+ wolves the enviros want in this area, due to the severe winter this year and let alone the predation.

I filmed this trip and the snow is still 5-7 feet deep in the upper 40 miles of the Lochsa. We will lose almost all of our elk in this region even without the help of the wolves, just as we did in the winter of 96-97.

We saw elk below Fish Creek in the lower section of the Lochsa, but the numbers are in single digits compared to the thousands of elk that were there prior to the Fall of 1996. Saw a few whitetail deer standing next to the river dying and a moose that was in the river that I didn’t quite capture on film.

We checked the Lower Selway River and it didn’t have such deep snow. The few elk left are looking good. I question whether we have enough elk from Challis north to I-90 in our Idaho DPS to sustain Nadeau’s 500-700 wolves that he’s hoping to retain, cuddle, and manage in the proposed Idaho Wolf Plan.

I’ve decided to take a full day each week to personally get in the air or on the ground and monitor, document, and film what is really going on. I will be joining my 75 year old father who has been hiking this country a full day each week for the past 25 years. There is not a ridgetop along the Lochsa he hasn’t explored. Even if we don’t accomplish anything, I will get in shape and will feel like I’ve contributed something to the cause!

We’ve been hunting this country since the 60’s and we understand the habitat as well as anyone. The majority of the historic elk winter range has not been touched, and there is feed galore as Charles has found in YNP, Banff, and Jasper. I realize we don’t have the carrying capacity we did 12 to 15 years ago when there were 10,000 head of elk in units 10 and 12 each!

Believe me, with 500 elk left from a herd of 10,000 twelve years ago, it isn’t carrying capacity. It’s predation, period! The 1910 fires made this the finest elk country in the world at one time, but if the feds had dumped the wolves off in the 60’s with all the perfect habitat, the elk would still be gone!

I’ll be posting more film on YouTube, and will let you know the URL. The Clearwater aerial survey is [here]. For a pdf version, see [here].

17 Jun 2008, 7:06pm
by Jack P.

Great article but sad. I have been reading reports on Lochsa units and will be contacting the Idaho Fish and Game to see if I can get a refund on my tags. I have hunted the Lochsa for the past 19 years and will not continue. If you have any more information could you please e-mail it to me.

17 Jun 2008, 9:32pm
by Mike

Jack, I recommend that you contact Save Our Elk for more info on elk in the Lochsa:




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