11 Feb 2009, 1:12am
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
by admin

Wolves Reducing Elk Populations In Montana

A new study of wolves and elk was released last week by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks that showed the MT wolf population has been increasing exponentially since 1995 at rates of approximately 10% to 34% annually. The best estimate as of December 2007 is that there were a minimum of 422 wolves (73 packs) and 39 breeding packs within the State boundaries of Montana.

The study, entitled Monitoring and Assessment of Wolf-Ungulate Interactions and Population Trends within the Greater Yellowstone Area, Southwestern Montana, and Montana Statewide by Kenneth L. Hamlin and Julie A. Cunningham, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, found that wolves killed approximately 7 to 23 elk per wolf in winter (November through April). Summer kill rates were not estimated.

The study also found that “the number of grizzly bears in southwest Montana and the GYA has increased more than 3-fold since 1987,” and the combined effect of wolves and bears has reduced elk calf survival:

In the Northern Yellowstone and Gallatin- Madison elk herds, calf per 100 cow ratios have recently been approximately half or less than levels recorded prior to wolf restoration.

Elk counts from 1994 to 2008 have dropped from 67% to 81% in those herds.

The number of elk wintering and counted within YNP (subject to the greatest natural predation pressure) has declined dramatically since 2000 (Fig. 17) compared to elk wintering and counted outside YNP (subject to greater hunter harvest and lower natural predation pressure). Since 2005, however, hunter harvest was insignificant for all Northern Range elk but wolf numbers and predation have increased.

The study is [here]. Regarding wolf delisting, conclusions of the study include:

Wolves have long since reached the numerical and distributional goals for recovery, but de-listing has not occurred and management options are limited. …

The federally funded budget for wolf monitoring and management has increased by 8% since 2005, while the MFWP budget for all big game monitoring, including but not limited to all of the ungulate species, has declined by 15% since 2006. Currently, the wolf program budget is approximately 2/3 the size of the budget for the big game program.

The Helena Independent Record reported:

Wolves tied to elk decline in parts of state

By EVE BYRON - Independent Record - 02/07/09 [here]

A study released Friday confirms what some hunters have long suspected — that the elk population in some areas of Montana has dropped dramatically due to wolf predation.

In particular, the study found that since 2004 in the northern Yellowstone National Park elk herd, wolves have killed more elk than hunters did; since 2005 wolves killed more adult cow elk than hunters did; and in all but one year since 2002, wolves have killed more bull elk than hunters did.

Researchers spent the past seven years measuring elk populations and behavior of elk in Montana, and the report by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks found that elk numbers in some areas of southwestern Montana have dropped rapidly, mainly due to the loss of elk calves targeted by wolves and grizzly bears in those areas.

However, the same study, led by FWP and Montana State University, suggests that in some areas of western Montana elk numbers have increased even while the number of elk taken by hunters has decreased. The study found little apparent influence by local wolf packs on elk numbers in those areas.

Researchers said the seemingly contradictory findings show that not all elk populations respond in the same ways when they share the land with wolves.

“One-size-fits-all explanations of wolf-elk interactions across large landscapes do not seem to exist,” said Justin Gude, FWP’s chief of wildlife research in Helena.

About 1,500 gray wolves roam Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah. That includes about 400 in Montana, 780 in Idaho and 350 in Wyoming.

An estimated 130,000 elk are in Montana.

The study notes that habitat, weather patterns, human hunting, and the presence of other large predators and livestock also play a role. Scientists added that wolf predation by itself doesn’t necessarily initiate declines in prey populations, but it can exacerbate that or lengthen the time needed for the population to rebound.

Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, wasn’t surprised to hear that elk populations have dropped as the result of the 1994 reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

“Wolves are an ecological catastrophe,” Marbut said. “There have been a lot of studies that show each wolf will take from 25 to 80 elk per year … it’s just a matter of third-grade math that the number of elk will go down as the number of wolves increase.”

18 Mar 2009, 1:16pm
by James

Wonder what the elk and deer numbers will have to drop to before the wolves run out of food and start looking for our pets and our children as a food source?

26 May 2009, 3:02pm
by Kathy

I think that it is ridiculous to think that wolves will start looking for “our pets and children” as a source of food. So long as I have lived in Montana, all anyone wants to do is kill whatever has too much population. Kill the deer because they are “over running” our neighborhood and “attacking” people. Wolves only hunt and kill the weak animals. They don’t approach humans to kill. It is stupid to say that they do. History tells us that wolves help maintain the eco system. Leave them alone. Stop killing all the animals. If you continue killing just to be killing, we won’t have any animals left.

26 May 2009, 3:42pm
by Mike (Admin)

Kathy, Of course wolves approach and attack people. They have throughout human history. The record is enormous and a universal piece of folk wisdom.

And no, wolves do not limit their hunt to weak and sick animals. That is a ridiculous myth.

And no, those of us who favor wildlife management are not “killing just to be killing,” like wolves do.

Your protestations are unreasonable and uninformed. I’m not saying that you’re stupid, just sadly mis-educated.

27 May 2009, 11:19pm
by Jason

Mike: actually, it is you who may not be stupid, but sadly uneducated (mis-educated???)
I would love to see your enormous record detailing wolf attacks throughout history. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist. Of course there have been some, just as there are dog attacks. (along with bees, lightning, other people…) I have read from multiple sources that there has been ONE reported human death from the paws of a wolf (in recorded history, in North America)…It was in upper-Saskatchewan and it was only because the humans were feeding them.
Your comment provides a great service because it so clearly illustrates to the uninitiated how glaringly weak your foundation is in this argument. And it’s by-the-numbers fear mongering straight out of Aesop’s Fables: wolves kill for FUN; they kill as much as they can; they attack people.
Instead of calling people “mis-educated,” you should steer clear of hyperbole and “ridiculous myth(s)” and see wolves for as the multi-dimensional creatures that they are.

27 May 2009, 11:50pm
by Mike (Admin)

Read this book, Jason:

Graves, Will N. Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages. 2007. Detselig Enterprises LTD. [review here].

I also recommend the 100+ posts in the wolves category at Wildlife and People [sorted here]

I have done my homework. I have accumulated the evidence. I have also allowed (anonymous) folks like you and Kathy to insult and berate me on my own site. That’s pretty nice of me, considering that you contribute nothing. But I am a nice guy, and interested in educating you, despite your insults. You are out of your depth here, but that’s okay. Do your homework, read the posts, and when you are up to speed, see if you can contribute some cogent information.

18 Jun 2009, 2:09am
by Brendan

Wolves attack humans? No way, Jose! Wolves are SPIRITUAL animals, and as Jason says they are indeed “multi-dimensional” - they exist in the great astral dimension as well as our own. They are TOTEMIC animals, the Indians knew (and know!) this.

Being very spiritual, wolves only attack unhealthy animals, not humans or domestic animals. How do I know this? Because I MEDITATE, and use the vibrational power of crystals! And it so happens that while meditating, holding crystals in my hands and rising my vibrations one evening a year or so ago, I farted. This added [snip] to my spiritual vibrations, and I achieved enlightenment! Since then, I can commune with the wolves, and they commune with me (especially after a few tokes of some good sticky bud.) How you like THEM apples, Mike???

18 Jun 2009, 10:57am
by Mike (Admin)

I like apples. Not fond of wolves.

In today’s post (6/18) we note that the MFWP has finally realized that elk and deer populations are crashing due to wolf (and lion) predation. Better late than never, I suppose. Now if we could only get federal judges to arrive at a similar conclusion, we might be able to save all the species via responsible wildlife management.

25 Jun 2009, 11:08am
by Ed

I am going to stick my nose in where it most likely has no business.

I no longer live in Montana, and have not for a little over twenty years now. I did however do most of my growing up there. I grew up as a hunter and a fisherman, and all of my heroes were hunters and fisherman. I learned very early in life, things like how pretty the spots on a trout are, how to catch them on flies I tied myself, how pretty the mountains and streams were, and to have an enormous respect for the animals I hunted and observed.

For true hunters hunting is a spiritual thing. The true conservationists have always been and will always be the hunters. No one cares more about the animals and their habitat than hunters. It is also the hunters who provide the vast majority of the revenue that states use to maintain said animals and habitat. When I left Montana (reluctantly), the state was full of real men. Men like the heroes I mentioned before. Hunters, loggers, ranchers and many more. They were men who had a right to be in Montana. They belonged there.

Now there are a bunch of sniveling transplants from, oh let’s says California and other places of the sort, who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when it comes to wolves or anything else to do with wildlife or Montana. Then even worse are the educated idiots, mostly younger people who may even be from Montana. If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is a duck.

The wolves are a problem. I know this because the real men from Montana that I still know have told me so. They are passionate. They are true conservationists, and they know what they are talking about.

I still care very much about Montana and always will. It represents my youth and a way of life that I still practice today, just elsewhere. The powers that be in Montana need to listen to those real men, and women by the way. Common sense, it works wonders.

Thanks, Ed

25 Jun 2009, 12:46pm
by Mike (Admin)

Thank you, Ed, for your heartfelt comments. Stick your nose in here anytime.

7 Jul 2009, 1:07pm
by Brad

Maybe the natural balance of nature doesn’t include hunters and their rifles… if the elk/deer populations are crashing that bad then the predator numbers will adjust accordingly. God forbid you don’t get to put that trophy on your wall. As far as cattle and sheep go, its like telling someone to go sit at a buffet but don’t eat anything. Oh and remember, the wolves were here first, before you wiped them out the first time.

7 Jul 2009, 1:38pm
by Mike (Admin)

Brad, there is no such thing as “the natural balance of nature.” That is a myth, poor science, a mystical thing that doesn’t exist in the real world.

And wolves were not here first. The Canadian gray wolf is of Eurasian origin and traversed the Bering land bridge at the end of the Wisconsin Glaciation, following the elk, which are also of Eurasian origin and new to the Western Hemisphere. People actually predate both those species here. And the current population of Canadian gray wolves in Montana were dumped there by the government in the 1990’s. Plenty of people, including ranchers and hunters, predate the artificial wolf population in Montana.

Your distancing yourself from the “you” that “wiped out” wolves “the first time” is also disingenuous. Are you not a human being? Do you not wear wool? Do you not live in a wooden house and consume all the resources that others do? Are you somehow removed from society? Please explain your innocence in light of your accusations of guilt toward others.

8 Jul 2009, 10:27am
by Brad

No Mike i’m not a human being. I’m just stating that removing wolves so that “real men” may be able to shoot the animals the wolves otherwise eat is ridiculous, and i’m a hunter. AND is it not true that Coyotes account for more livestock mortality than anything else? I also disagree with your statement of not having balance in nature. Wolves in Yellowstone have reduced the elk heard and made it possible for the beaver and several bird species to make significant comebacks. Also, you stating that people in Montana predate the “artificial” wolf population in Montana is correct, because they were killed off previously as I had stated. Not trying to be a punk here, just trying to understand your perspective on this.

8 Jul 2009, 11:20am
by Mike (Admin)

So, you’re not a “real man” either?

Sorry if I take offense at your sexist remarks. It so happens that real women hunt, eat wild game, and are equally aghast at the depredation of ungulate herds by introduced wolves.

I repeat, the “balance of nature” is a myth. There is no magic balance preordained by Mother Nature. Life is a struggle for survival. Any “balance” is purely a human construct, based on human values.

It is also true that human beings have been the keystone predator in the Western Hemisphere for at least 10,000 years and probably much longer than that. Wildlife populations have been, are, and will be subject to human control. To deny that is a-historical and a-scientific.

We are the Caretakers of Nature. We cannot shirk that responsibility. Hunting is one method of wildlife management, a most effective and worthy one, and belittling hunters as macho greedheads is fraught with emotional blinders and reality avoidance.

11 Nov 2009, 12:18pm
by Bill

Many of us, hunters, do so for food, not for large trophies or out of a macho need to kill.

Hunters and their license fees are the main source of revenue* that allowed us humans to reestablish elk, deer, and wolf populations at their present levels. Our wildlife is a resource and should be managed scientifically, compassionately, and honestly. We can all work together so that we can all enjoy this wonderful resource.

Wolves can be managed at a level for all of us to enjoy but also allow populations of deer and elk to provide for hunting for food or trophy animals.

Like it or not we (humans) are all part of the ecosystem. Together we can come to a sound resolution to manage our wildlife resources.

*”Historically, states like Montana pay for management of wild animals such as mountain lions, bears, deer and elk, mainly using revenues from the sale of hunting licenses.” quoted from the Helena Independent Oct/25/2009.

5 Dec 2009, 3:15pm
by Mike H.

I live in Missoula, MT and I have hunted elk most of my life. I consider myself a avid hunter and woodsman. Seven years ago I could travel in any direction from town in September and bugle in bulls.
Now I am lucky to hear one bugle all season!!

The reason being the elk know the wolves will come in and eat them!!!!!

I took my 5yr old son out this year for his first bow hunt and we bugled in a bull. The following week I went back to the same spot, bugled, and was circled by seven howling wolves!!! That’s when it hit me that maybe my son witnessed the last bugling elk he would ever see!! The elk population is rapidly reducing and changing because of WOLVES!!

The hunters and sportsman of Montana built the elk herds and big game populations to what they were through wildlife management and conservation. All of that hard work and expense has been destroyed by wolves!!!!

If all the hunters and sportsman agree that the wolves need to go, then we should be able to do something about them. After all, its the money we generate that pays the bills for a great percentage of the state’s wildlife management!!

That means if I cant hear bugling bulls than I wont be buying any more hunting tags!! and it means that the State and Feds have FAILED in protecting are wildlife!!! witch means as MONTANANS who value their rights as sportsman need to take action by not purchasing conservation permits or elk permits in “2010″ and shoot every WOLF that moves!!! 3-7-77

6 Dec 2009, 1:33pm
by Matt

I have been putting in for a bull tag in hunting district 339 for years and I finally drew one this year! In past years looking for spikes in that area, I would see elk everywhere, but this year the only animals I saw were wolves!

3 Jan 2010, 7:49pm
by C. Derr

Get rid of the politics and let common sense take over and we can solve this riddle of wolf introduction and the predator pit that has followed.

7 Jan 2010, 3:48pm
by YPmule

The pro-wolf groups have been saying we must base delisting on science, but they are filing suit to stop the ID F&G from studying wolves.


Seems that they only want THEIR “science” used?

25 Jan 2010, 5:28pm
by Nevada

I was raised in the bush in eastern OR, western MT, and eastern WA. I have pics of grizzly, wolves and cougars in areas the vastly ignorant said there were none of those species left. I was gone on duty for 4 yrs from my beloved MT and when I got back what did I find? The vastly ignorant calling grizzly’s “cuddly,” wolves “noble and benevolent,” and totally misrepresenting both species.

In the 4 years I have been back I have watched the elk herds decline to the point now that it is arguable if they will recover within current conditions. The deer in the region that I live in are similar in decline. So lets break this down.

For the vastly ignorant here I will keep it as simple as possible and stick to one species… Elk.

In the typical hunting season man’s effect from hunting pressure leaves 35 to 50 calves per 100 cows (as per FWP records for the last 30 yrs). With the introduction of Canadian wolves, that number is down now to 8 to 10 calves per 100 cows.

Let’s use that ever declining resource here called common sense.The ever increasing wolf population is directly proportionate to the declining elk population. These vastly ignorant people who propose to eliminate hunting to correct this problem fail to take into consideration that the majority of people follow the hunting laws… wolves,in case you haven’t noticed can’t read. Do you really think that the wolves will follow regulations they can’t read? I am not willing to trade the elk and deer population for the wolf population. To dispel another ignorant statement made earlier “wolves only kill what they eat,” I watched a pack of 6 wolves kill 9 deer, eat a portion of three of them, and then run off to other fields of fortune. “Wolves never attack men” — tell that to 6 bow hunters here in MT who were attacked.

It would be nice if those who comment here would familiarize themselves with facts instead of myths. Try living where I do. One more myth to dispel here. So far I have heard of 4 wolves weighing in at over 200 pounds, (hardly a gray wolf). There are documented photos of one killed in Sun Vally Idaho 7′2 and 200 lbs.

Reply: Please go easy on the commentators here. They are mostly on your side, you know.

30 Jan 2010, 5:41pm
by Bill SSS Varmint Grenade whalebone

I live in Lincoln, Montana. Hunting here has been a pleasure for my family and myself for the last 44 years. The elk and deer we harvested every year surely saved us a lot of money. Wild game has been a healthy food source for many of the sportsman in Lincoln. My 8 hunting partners and I have harvested 3 to 5 elk every year for the last 44 years. This was the number it took to feed our families. We could have harvested more but why kill more than we needed. This year the wolves chased all the elk and deer out of our favorite hunting areas in the lower Blackfoot valley. We were forced to look in other areas to find elk. It was not an easy task finding elk around the Lincoln area in 2009. Our group hunted almost every day of the 2009, hunting season to harvest 3 elk. All 3 elk were void of any fat reserves. This included a dry cow. I own my own butcher shop and have cut and wrapped hundreds of deer and elk in my lifetime. I know what a normal fat reserve looks like on a healthy elk or deer. Bull elk are sometimes lean after the rut but I have never seen cow elk in such poor shape as the ones we harvested in 2009. The elk numbers around the Blackfoot Valley are vanishing and what is left are being run to death by wolves. I have wolves living within 1 mile of my home and my Grandchildren frequently wander around the woods.

I am now nervous about their wandering and keep a rifle near at all times as it is a known fact that wolves have stalked and killed humans. I cannot for the life of me see the advantage of letting wolves wipe out our deer and elk populations. The beef industry is already suffering and now the wolves will make it that much tougher to have a good beef, calf crop. The owners of the local Ghering Ranch , stated that their ranch was completely void of elk and deer in 2009. Wolves had either killed or chased every wild game animal off the ranch. This has never happened in the long history of the 100, year old ranch. If our Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks do not come to their senses and quit letting the wolf lovers dictate their wolf management, we as sportsman will have to take matters in our own hands. Lets face it, our Montana FWP and Forest service are failing miserably at the jobs they were originally intended to do. Manage Montana’s elk and deer herds and maintain our Forests. The elk and deer are disappearing along with our trees.

We have to act now. How? my name says it all.

7 Feb 2010, 7:34pm
by Kelly Ware

I have written to several legislators in Montana, and Obama and the MRS. in case that does anything. A Montana legislator said that they mostly all agree about wolves but that is is the ill informed and out-of -staters that are causing the problems for us here in the mountain states. Wolves are too out of control. I hope enough people can write letters to the powers that be on the federal level to unite the wolf to ungulate management (instead of the feds receiving many times the funding over ungulate state-funded resources.

The original 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs in Montana needs to be the goal we returned to. A tribal biologist for the Flathead Reservation knows of 100 wolves on the reservation alone. 40 reported dog kills, 66 in Idaho and 22 in Wyoming… recorded. This is not a moral issue. This is a code red management issue. Unite, Write, write, write. The great thing about the internet is that one letter can reach many. PLEASE beg all your hunters, ranchers, and animal rights against torture of ungulates by wolves lovers to write and plead with the courts, lawmakers, and advocates to take action now. Right now several animals are being ripped apart. And tomorrow several more. In a month or two it will be the birthing females ripped apart in birth, and then udders eaten as the mothers die slowly and the wolves move on to the next birthing female. Try pit bulls x 20. Defenders of wildlife, defend the elk. They need you like never before, seriously.

24 Feb 2010, 5:35pm
by riley

i have lived in montana my whole life. each fall i enjoy elk hunting with my 14 year old son and then come december we lion hunt. this year when we went out to look for elk we found more wolf tracks than elk. after elk hunting season was over we have started lion hunting. a couple weeks into lion hunting season we turned out on a lion by wisdom, montana and not twenty minutes into the chase the wolves started chasing our barking dogs. fortunately we got to the dogs before the wolves did. there definitely is a wolf problem in Montana.

“smoke a wolf pack a day”

1 Mar 2010, 10:11am
by Tom K.

Glad to see there is an awaking finally in MT. Instead of tearing down the managers, look towards the politics that have tied their hands. Vote out the folks in Power since they haven’t done a thing. Tell the Elk Foundation they need to quit the same politics and bull they have been throwing at us since the introduction of wolves, and be honest with the hunters and trappers of the west.

Wolves should NOT be considered big game; they are a varmint and should be considered a fur bearer, too, as that is the only way other than airplanes to ever come close to getting some control of the population. Just ask Alaska where I have been for 10 years. In the Magrath area since they started wolf control by private aircraft/land and shoot 4 years ago, the moose calf survival rate is up 350%. They carried this control program over several other areas of depleted moose and caribou, in some areas for the first time in years, and now the numbers of moose are high enough to issue out-of-state permits where there were none before.

Over 900 wolves since they started (that number is probably way low since I moved back to MT 2 Sept ago). Wolves got here by trappers in Canada, Montana trappers, and hunters can reverse this huge mistake. In AK I could kill 5 wolves in most hunting districts. Some districts here on the slope were divided into as many as 10 wolf areas, and I never did get a decent shot at a wolf, although a few folks I knew did get into a pack and got a few. They are not that easy to hunt unless you live here evidently.

Right now a PETA type group called Footloose is trying to end trapping on MT state ground. Since 1970 (the first time I ever heard a group of anti-hunters talk) they have always wanted the hunter/trapper out of the picture. What is happening is a dream come true to these folks. Meanwhile they split us up, the old divide and conquer, and even have gotten outfits like the Elk Foundation pro-wolf [Ed. note: that is changing. The RMEF has now become pro-wolf control, finally]. That is one smart bunch of folks.

I live on the lower Blackfoot, just thought I would let everyone know. We have a new wolf pair that will no doubt start a pack. They crossed Hwy 200 at the close of hunting season, and are now on the south side. I doubt in my kids’ lifetimes will they ever see the game animals rebound to where they were prior to 1995, thanks to the folks we have voted into Montana politics, and thanks to a complete idiot biologist named Bangs. What a legacy he has left to us, and to all western states and game managers. I don’t want one single penny of my license fees to go toward wolves unless it is for control, and that shouldn’t cost more than a few snare sets, maybe pay the trappers.

10 Mar 2010, 12:49pm
by Tom K.

Take a look at the Anchorage news. A women teacher was [allegedly] killed by a wolf pack. They are in the process of determining if that in fact happened. The article is somewhat accurate. Every year there are wolf attacks in AK. Here in MT we have a population of wolves that are not hunted in most areas. We don’t have small enough hunting districts to do any control, since most of the quota comes from one or two small areas. Not to mention, we need 4 times the permits issued. What kind of wolves do you think we are raising here?

27 Mar 2010, 2:53pm
by logic

Here’s the reality of it. The wolves are wiping out our wildlife. I know this. I was in Yellowstone and saw the wolves before they were released in the winter of ‘95 / 6. At the time, I thought it would be nice to hear a wolf howl occasionally. Boy, was I ignorant to what would happen!

I was born and raised here and have spent all my life in the outdoors hiking and packing into the backcountry. I also live on a ranch in wildlife/wolf country. I see what is happening every day.

The only individuals that can make intelligent comments are the experienced “users” of the outdoors. Now how many days are you actually in the back country? Some WAY more than others. As far as wolves only killing the weak and never “sport” kill? What about the 200+ sheep that were killed by Dillon last year? Most were still alive and had their intestines dragged out. Some were alive with their hides half ripped off. Almost all had to be finished off by the rancher to stop their suffering. All this was done by 2 wolves within hours and none were eaten. Wouldn’t you call that sport killing? How about the cow elk with her calf surrounded by 8 - 175 pound gray wolves about to see her calf ripped apart just before she is? Don’t you care about that?

It seems the wolf huggers turn their heads or don’t want to hear about that. As the article says above, wolves consume 2/3 of our wildlife management budget. Where do you think this money comes from? Hunting brings in more that 1 billion dollars per year into Montana. Wolves, nothing. How will we pay for wolf damage when hunting dwindles away?

Wolves killing people is not happening. However, they are killing dogs and livestock. We all know that. So, what will they eat when the wildlife are all but non existent? $30,000 horses? Will you feel safe hiking in the backcountry with your child and dog? Wolves have to eat too. You may deny this but none of us know what will happen in 10 years. This is not happening yet but just think about it.

Twenty-five pound coyotes are doing some, but not significant, damage to livestock. We have been shooting coyotes on site all our lives and still cannot make a dent in the population. Our forefathers had a good reason to wipe out the wolves and with the aid of trapping, snaring, poison, government hunters and bounty, it STILL took 20 years! Face it, with our liberal society, we will never be able to use these options to try to stop this problem. All of us could shoot on site and wolves will still gain in population. How many have you seen? They are like coyotes - way too elusive. It is rapidly getting worse and the reality is, they are here to stay. The sad part for our wildlife and ranchers is, it’s JUST getting started!

11 Apr 2010, 5:20am
by Wolves=Vermin

The last time I checked, things don’t start happening unless people vote. Good idea to vote out those idiots who conceived the wolf “re-introduction” plan. Another thing: most liberals I know are well-meaning but woefully ignorant of reality. I come from an area in Eastern Canada which, 30 years ago, had no coyotes. You talk of 25lb coyotes. I’ve seen them weigh in at nearly 90. That’s a small wolf. Furthermore, they appeared suddenly-and in an area that was 150+ miles from the nearest area of ingress into the province. The sheep industry was ruined. Some people there still insist they came in on their own. The majority of thinking people accuse the department of natural resources of introducing them to please the department of forestry. Wonderful huh, when the government is actually against the people?

27 Apr 2010, 6:29am
by Nowolves

No reason that only Montana should have all the wolf fun. Six states currently have many $millions in predation, predation management, unconfirmed predation costs to livestock owners, wolf control cost per state per year. All six states can give you examples where this killer have effected prey populations. The pro-wolf lobby would love to add Illinois, Maine, Colorado, Oregon and Washington into the fun! Kentucky has a nice Elk herd they could chew on also. The best part of the fun is when the Feds (and pro-wolf groups) give up management of this non-endangered animal, they try to bow out of the annual cost to maintain them.

2 May 2010, 4:26pm
by beck

So, two healthy wolves didn’t track, hunt, kill and eat that lady in Alaska???Oh that’s right it was her fault, correct?

Stop trying to tell the people who actually have to work around these apex killing machines that they are harmless. They are a Predator, They are a pack Predator. They are for the most part heavier then a human. When they follow you and stare at you, they are not trying to BOND with you. They are trying to figure out how to hunt you. Are you eatable? That is what predators do. Nothing more, nothing less.

You know that Treadwill guy thought those bears were his buddies, and they were bonding with him. Wrong, the predator was tolerant of the prey until that predator got hungry enough and realized the prey was helpless. Save the Disneyland theories for children. Wolves need to have strict control so that they don’t wipe out the prey base. Remember that people live and work in the West. We have a right to be here. Last time I checked, we lived in a free country where we could Eat Meat not bought from a grocery store. And we could live where we wanted.

7 May 2010, 5:10pm
by MT Mike

I am a transplant to Montana, moving here because my wife is a native born Montanan and wanted to move home, and the state I hail from was overrun by emotionally based civic oriented and pro-active busybodies that have infected most of the last good places to live. These folks do not count themselves as part of nature but as nature’s superiors, thinking it is their duty to manipulate, reintroduce and eradicate populations of wildlife wherever their vastly superior college granted intellect tells them to.

To illustrate this a few years ago the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife began a campaign to remove the Mountain Goat from the Olympic Mountains stating that they were non-indigenous. However after some time, and thankfully before they could accomplish their objective, it was proven through fossil evidence that the Goats had been there long enough to create said fossils!

I do not wish here to insult the educated, but I have observed over the years that the colleges institute a perspective to the student body that they are superior to their non attending peers and that this attitude follows these kids their entire life. That is the attitude of most Wildlife Biologists and rather than observe and report they believe their degree gives them the right to do what they will to OUR wildlife!

The destruction of the Wolf population may have been a mistake, but there have been countless generations of animals born since then and the areas had achieved a form of adaptive balance. We are all told as children by our parents that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” and the Game Departments would have done well to heed this advice. The reintroduction of a larger and more efficient Wolf sub-species is much like recognizing the missing Mountain Lion Population in New York State and responding by introducing African Lions! Furthermore, I can not help but wonder what long term effect the reduced elk and deer populations will have on the Grizzly Bear populations. I think we should all remember the Grizzly Bears. They were the former pet project of the same groups of people who now champion the Wolf! I wonder aloud here how many Federal Laws protecting the Grizzlies were violated by the introduction of a species that directly competes with the food sources of the bears in a greatly more efficient manner because of their pack hunting nature. It would seem that the care of these special interest groups is whimsical and fickle at best, for the bears have gone from hero to zero.

If the entire population of humanity could learn anything from all of this it should be to LEAVE THE ANIMALS ALONE. Balance is the sole realm of nature. If we make a mistake, learn from it. Do not attempt to correct it. Some management efforts have gone well. The wild turkey population is greater than it was when the Europeans first landed here, as is the Whitetail deer populations. However The Elk, Bison and Grizzly Bear populations, although never reaching the eradicated status of the Wolf, have suffered immensely. There are no Elk populations on the East Coast save a few pet reintroduction projects, and the Grizzly Bear, the symbol on the State of California’s flag, have completely disappeared from most of their original range. Now, to satisfy the emotional desires of a few special interest groups, the Grizzlies and the elk are again threatened. IF YOU WANT TO SEE WOLVES INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR OWN STATES.

7 May 2010, 9:46pm
by newt

Maybe it’s time to get your wolf permits in boxes of twenty. I guess if the wolves were gone, the wolfhuggers would want to try to bring back the dinosaurs. Idiots

30 Jul 2010, 1:12am
by Dave

I don’t even know where to begin. When we (Americans) nearly wiped out the wolves once before, it took twenty years and a very concerted, violent, and methodical effort. Obviously there was a reason for it, it wasn’t hides, most definitely not for food (except to defend our own food sources).

Now we are faced with dealing with the same animal again. Kind of like curing cancer then reintroducing it because “it’s natural, man”.

Last fall I went on two back country hunts, totaling 16 days hunting. The two areas were Unit 314 in MT and Unit 16A in ID. These two areas were considered prime elk country in the past. I stupidly didn’t believe that wolves would have such an all-encompassing impact on the elk herds in these areas.
Needless to say after 16 days of hard hunting, we saw plenty of wolf sign, some still steaming on the trail to our camp site. Elk? Not a chance. The freshest elk sign I saw had small trees growing in it. This was early season hunts, not a peep, not one single bugle, not one cow call. The woods were eerily silent for the most part.

I wonder if the bugling stops, what does that do to the reproduction rate? Does the lack of vocal activity further depress the bulls ability to locate and breed cows?

30 Jul 2010, 3:09am
by Dave

And furthermore. Actually found this after my last rant. Pay close attention to page 88 of 96 of this report [here].

I still cant find a decisive document pertaining to Elk Population Trends in Montana 1980-2010.

Reply: Your link is to the document discussed in the post above. A post which discusses elk population trends in Idaho is [here].

16 Aug 2010, 2:58pm
by Justin

Someone (maybe me) needs to videotape a series of really gruesome wolf attacks and get them on-the-air as a commercial — much like the strategy utilized by anti-hunting groups to ban bear and cougar hunting with dogs in OR and CA in the 1990’s. The only way to defeat this sneaky conspiracy led by anti-hunting groups, and apparently supported by federal lawmakers (i.e. Judge Molloy in Missoula) is to beat them at their own game and pull at the heartstrings of the neutral majority.

6 Oct 2010, 3:34pm
by Jack

So ranchers…….If you want to blame anyone for your lack of economic viability don’t blame wolves, its just not true. Everyone knows coyotes are the number one predators of livestock. The same elk also winter on your range competing for forage with your cows.
If you should blame anyone, blame the global free market capitalists that created things like NAFTA and cheep imported beef that results. Also the land in montana is only marginally productive for cattle.
Hunters……Fewer elk or more skittish elk. Perhaps you can no longer spot a bull from your truck and perhaps you should become better hunters for that matter. I think the main point from the studies done on elk populations is that they are declining in some areas as well as increasing and stagnant in others, but are definitely behaving differently. Spending more time up high and less time wandering into your backyard. Hunting shouldn’t be easy.
And the recreation industry is hurting, really?

7 Oct 2010, 9:49am
by Michelle F.

My husband and I had always dreamed of owning a hunting outfit. I found one listed for sale, about a month ago and thought that our prayers had been answered. We drove from the ranch we work on to SW Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. I’m originally from Oregon, so the Douglas-fir trees and other flora looked and smelled like home. I fell in love with Darby. We spent a week there, researching the area to make sure that our investment would pay off. Jake had worked for an outfitter in Idaho when he was younger and knew the ins and outs of the business. Jake spent two days with the owner and a hunter from Georgia hunting, calling for elk. I spent my days with my beloved fishing pole on the West Fork and looking at property.

What we both found was heartbreaking. Jake couldn’t call one bull. No answers. No tracks. The hunters saw a total of 3 elk… 2 cows and one calf. No moose… not any moose sign. No deer either. I, on the other hand saw two nice muley bucks… against someone’s front porch! I drove the mountain roads and saw nothing. No deer. No moose. No elk… not even a grouse. I saw houses that I would have given my left hand for… unfinished and rotting. I saw about half of all of the property in Darby for sale. I saw many businesses for sale in Darby also… or abandoned.

If you read this and think I’m just crying wolf, then please explain why only 5 years ago Ravalli County had an estimated $11+ million spent on hunting and hunting related items, and now the county is dying? Tell me why the outfitter that 5 years ago boasted almost a quarter of a million dollars in business now could only book $35,000 in hunts? Tell me that wolves aren’t a problem… when they attacked an outfitter’s drag mule while packing out over the Wahoo Pass near Twin Lakes… in broad daylight? That happened mid-September of this year. Tell me why there are no ungulates left? I don’t believe that the wolves need to be eliminated, merely held in check. I can tell you that the wolves ARE to blame. The wolves kept me and my family from buying a business and a home in Ravalli County. The big bad wolf killed my dream.

7 Oct 2010, 10:02am
by Michelle F.

I must say….I had my rant….now, let’s become a cohesive unit and do something about this!!!

I would very much like to form a coalition to delist the wolves. I feel we have a very good platform with which to base our fight.

1) Question how these wolves are ‘endangered’ when they are a non-native and invasive species (much as brook trout) which thrive in their own environment.

2) Other predatory animals are managed to keep undulate animal populations at an acceptable level.

3) Economic impact of the hardest hit areas… Montana and Idaho come to mind first.

4) Circulate petitions and lobby.

How can we accomplish this? Establish a meeting date, elect officers and set criteria.

I know that there are other groups out there, such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, but I think we need to get radical. We need to find the funding and get our messages out on television. We need to circulate petitions at the sports shows… Walmart… wherever.

I live in Wyoming, and am more than willing to host or help with the first meeting of this new coalition. If you have any suggestions, please contact via this posting, and I will reply.

16 Oct 2010, 7:21pm
by YPmule

Michelle - there are several groups that are trying to do as you suggest. Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, Sportsman for Wildlife, Idaho for Wildlife, Lobo Watch, Save Elk, just to name a few off the top of my head. Many are linked in Wildlife and People Links in the righthand sidebar.

W.I.S.E. has a lot of science papers posted in the Wildlife Sciences Colloquia, lined in the upper righthand sidebar.

I’m passing along your first comment in our Critter News. Welcome to wolf country.

25 Nov 2010, 12:50am
by DC

I formerlly lived in Alaska, now I live in Montana. In all these supposed arguments above mine I have read very few numbers. According to MT FWP there are just 400 wolves in all of Montana. In contrast there are 150,000 elk. Numbers don’t support your ideas that the elk population was decimated by an exploding wolf population. Another study I read is that the elk population has increased 66% since 1984. I think people are blowing the wolf situation way out of proportion to reality.

Alaska is much different from Montana. First of all, yes regulated wolf hunting and trapping is allowed there, but there are over 10 times the number of wolves in Alaska than in Montana. While I favor wolf population control in Alaska, I do not think a population of 400 individuals in 60-80 breeding pairs warrants a widespread anihilation of the species. The human consumption argument is much more substantial in the impoverished areas of rural Alaska, such as McGrath, where the cost of 1 lb of ground beef can exceed $10, than in Montana where everyone has access to relatively inexpensive grocery stores. Montanan’s idea of subsistence food sources are much different from my own.

The difference between the so-called wolf lovers and the pro-wolf exterminators is that the wolf lovers represent people who value the natural ecosystem at the cost of human inconvenience. In contrast, the anti-wolf people believe it is preferable to change the environment for their idea of improved human existence.

I would like to remind everyone, too, that the ecosystem, biosphere, food web, food chain, whatever you want to call interspecific interaction, is fluid and dynamic. I think I read from some jackass early in this forum that wolves are an ecological disaster. That individual has no clue what an ecosystem is or means. People have a tendency to call themselves naturalists or woodsmen or whatever because they are concerned with the species of value to them. Very few people seem to give a shit about algae in the rivers or fungus on the forest floor, but obviously the organisms lowest in the foodweb have the potential to affect greater numbers of other species than wolves and other apex predators. It is true that if you must decide to eliminate a species from the biosphere, the elimination of apex predators such as wolves (and humans) have the least impact on other species. Humans, of course, are the top most predator because we have developed very effective killing and defense equipment. Now, of course, humans have no worries of predation - our only form of involuntary population control is disease, which, ironically, is being moderated by medical advances.

Bottom line: the debate over wolves is value based. Which is more important to you: having historically accurate (i.e. 1000 year average) species diversity or increased populations of game animals available for human consumption? And just as atheists and theologists cant agree, i don’t think we will ever find agreement on the wolf issue. I just cant believe that humans haven’t learned that they cannot correct ecological mistakes of the past (such as many believe the extirpation of the wolf population in the 1920s to be).

My personal oppinion is that people who choose to procreate should make every attempt to leave the planet as they found it for their offspring. Just as people now have very different values from residents 100 years ago, descendents 100 years from now will likely have different values from those prevalent today. In other words, no drastic changes-your grandkids may be disappointed.

25 Nov 2010, 1:19am
by DC

I want to acknowledge the Mike that posted on May 7th. Clearly you were not the same ignoramus “Mike” who had posted earlier in the forum. It was the elitist attitude that led me to vacate the realm of biologist a few years ago. Now i work in the private sector and am no longer a part of the data manipulation I once witnessed.

I agree wholly: do not try to remedy past management mistakes. Learn from them and do not repeat! IMO wolves should never have been exterminated in the ’20s. It was a permanent solution to what may have been a temporary value. But they should have never been re-introduced either. If wolf-like descendants wish to recolonize the western states after humans become extinct that’s fine. Hell, if wolves showed back up on their own let them stay (and be regulated) but reintroducing them was a mistake!

I disagree with only one statement in your response: IMO it should not be up to individual states to introduce wolves. Wolves introduced in one state will find their way into another. Wolves care nothing for artificial human boundaries.

I have to ask, though, are wolves, coyotes, other “vermin” considered wildlife or are just game species? (tongue-in-cheek) My definition of wildlife encompasses all non human species of plants, animals, fungus, algae, protozoa, bacteria, etc. So, we are killing coyotes to preserve wildlife huh? I think for some of you the definition of wildlife are only animals you find important.

Reply: For some reason the comments have really piled up on this post. I have added “(Admin)” to all my comments for clarity’s sake, something I don’t normally do because there never seemed to be a need before - Mike D. (Admin).

26 Nov 2010, 1:16pm
by Scott

We’re not talking about game management in regards to the wolf, we are talking about politics. The wolf has decimated big game herds in the west and bring with them nothing but negatives in the numbers they have been allowed to grow to. This is a state issue and each state should be allowed to manage this animal in any way it chooses to. The federal clowns have again stepped where they don’t belong. We will beat them in the courts, in the meantime it’s far past the time for common sense game management at a grass root level.

30 Dec 2010, 2:31am
by Jim C.

Whack em when ya see em.

In fact, put forth that extra effort to see them so you can do your part to whack as many as you can!

Surely this would be far less of a crime than the one committed when they introduced them in the first place. Either way its the only way to get a handle on the enormous problem that exists.

31 Dec 2010, 3:13pm
by svetlana

A lot of the time wolves kill just for the sport of it, which I have witnessed first hand on my property in Idaho. They are destroying the elk herds from which my state generates tens of millions of dollars. I dont see anything wrong with hunting. My boyfriend loves the outdoors, hunting and fishing, and that’s why we moved to Idaho, to be close to nature.

There is an easy fix. Open up a liberal hunting season for the wolves, and the state would have more elk and be able to sell tags for wolves. Win/win. The state of Idaho is doing not nearly enough to control wolves.

1 Jan 2011, 11:37am
by YPmule

svetlana - Idaho can’t do anything to control wolves, Judge Molloy put them back on the endangered list. Many people in Idaho agree with you that we do need a hunting season. Wolves that are not hunted lose their fear of people. Habituated wolves are dangerous. You can thank the environmental groups that keep suing to protect the wolves from “evil hunters”.

25 Jan 2011, 4:52pm
by Captain


My name is Terry and I co-host a radio program here in Wisconsin. I have hunted the western states all of my life. I quit hunting Idaho because of the wolf and depleted game populations.
Our population here in Wisconsin is now over 700 wolves and we have similar problems.
I would love to do a radio interview with you.
Please drop me an e-mail.

Thank You
Capt. Terry

21 Feb 2011, 7:32pm
by Molly

People, why is it so tough to understand that what needs to take place in regard to conservation and ecology is management. I was raised in Idaho and was brought up to honor the Fish and Game and the rules placed on hunting, fishing, and use of our public lands. As a young girl I enjoyed the time I spent with my Dad and two older brothers in the back country doing many activities. My Dad would bugle in an elk and talk to me with reverence about the majesty of such an animal. We hunted but we also observed all wild life with a great love and respect.

I now live in Montana and make at least two trips a month through the park to go home for visits. Over the past several years I have been able to name certain elk, bighorn sheep, and deer that I see in the same places. I have come across the park at night and stopped to stretch and been witness to 50 or so head of bull elk in a field, bedded down during a snow storm. This year I saw five and last week one particularly large bull was partially devoured and you could tell it was done by wolves. Now when I am near Big Sky, the bighorn sheep are on the road, makes me wonder if they feel safer? Last time through there was a coyote running down the middle of the road, I pulled up next to him and his hind leg was chewed and he was pretty torn up from head to foot. He was scared of me but not scared enough to get off the road. Hmmm, what was after him?

I have seen wolves on several occasions,more and more as time has gone by. I have been told that the elk won’t bugle, the coyotes are running in packs for protection, and the number of calves being killed is crazy. I know that as the number of elk dwindle the livestock do get hit, more and more in the Ennis area.

It isn’t that I want all wolves gone, I just want the numbers managed so that we can have some type of balance. Wolves need to be managed just as elk or any other animal, including livestock. I think that these environmentalists think that they have the corner on the market about caring for animals; they are sadly mistaken. Barbara Boxer and Nancy, what a crock. They fly back and forth on private jets and spend, destroy, and abuse then try to seem caring about wolves. Where do they think the fuel comes from, the meat they eat, the bread they eat. Do they grow their own food, hunt, fish, ranch, or have any clue about sustainability? The papers they push are not trees to them and the self-importance makes me want to gag. If the wolves are hungry, tie them to a tree and let’s keep our elk and other wildlife for the enjoyment of the people who appreciate them. I say we give control of the wolves to the states, so they can be managed by people who want to see it done with care and concern for all animals. Not by people who have partisan interests and no common sense. There is not going to be a widespread killing to the point of extinction, you morons.

11 Mar 2011, 7:58am
by Kendra

I do believe that wolves have their place, there just don’t need to be so many. Here in Montana a pack of wolves killed 120 sheep in one night just to kill. It’s called surplus killing. I have been going out hunting with my dad ever since I was little and been hunting myself ever since I was 12. It saddens me to see the number of game animals decrease over the years.

25 Mar 2011, 7:38am
by Michael

This is most certainly a difficult, emotional issue. Curious, does anyone believe the wolf populations that resided there many years ago prior to people’s encroachment should have been allowed to remain? Or do you believe all wolves need to go? Thanks for your comments.

Reply: People “encroached” on the Rockies at least 12,000 years ago, concurrently with the end of the Younger Dryas phase of the Wisconsin Glaciation. Or perhaps earlier; some say human beings have been on the continent for 30,000 years.

Curiously, people may predate gray wolves in North America. Wolves came from Siberia across the Bering Land Bridge, following elk herds, about 12,000 years ago.

Wolves have no “we were here first” claim. Furthermore, people have controlled wolf populations during the entire Holocene. We are competitive predators. People have traditionally been the keystone predator, and thus have controlled both prey and predators populations.

We still do. There is no zone or watershed where people do not ultimately control wildlife populations. It is our birthright and responsibility to be the caretakers of nature. You can’t remove humanity from the equation. The “no touch, ban the human, let ‘em run wild, balance of nature” solution is not viable in the real world.



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