12 Jul 2009, 8:53am
Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

New Revelations About Reintroduced Wolves

By George Dovel, The Outdoorsman, Bulletin 34, April-June 2009

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

In the early 1980s the 197-page unpublished research report, “Wolves of Central Idaho,” surfaced. In it, co-authors Timm Kaminski and Jerome Hansen estimated that elk and deer populations in six of the nine national forests in the proposed Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Area could support a total of 219 wolves without decreasing existing deer and elk populations in those forests.

They based this on an estimated 16.6 deer or elk killed by each wolf annually, and on estimated increases in elk and/or deer populations from 1981-1985 in the two-thirds of forests where they had increased.

But even if their estimated prey numbers and calculations were accurate, their report said only 17 wolves could be maintained in the Salmon National Forest, five in the Challis NF, and none in the Panhandle, Sawtooth and Bitterroot Forests. Yet the obvious question of what to do when the number of wolves in any National Forest or game management unit exceeded the ability of the prey base to support them was not adequately addressed.

Relocating “Problem” Wolves in Idaho Wilderness

Although there were increased reports of sightings of single wolves or pairs in Idaho during the late 1970s and early 80s and credible reports of at least two wolf packs with pups, no confirmed wolf depredation on livestock had been recorded for nearly half a century. Realizing that livestock killing would occur as wolf numbers increased, Kaminski and Hansen recommended relocating livestock-killing wolves into the central Idaho wilderness areas.

That was written more than 25 years ago …

[Tweny-five years later] Tribal, FWS and State biologists [have] all ignored wolf expert David Mech’s warning that relocating wolves that killed livestock did not stop their killing livestock. Transplanting even more wolves into areas like the Selway and Lolo Zones, with inadequate elk calf survival to support any wolves, guaranteed an accelerated decline in the elk population and the exploitation of alternate prey.

At a Predator-Prey Symposium in Boise, Idaho on Jan. 8, 1999, the featured speaker – North America’s top wild ungulate authority Dr. Valerius Geist – spent two hours explaining to federal, state and university wildlife biologists why wolf populations must be carefully controlled to maintain a healthy population of their prey species. Idaho biologists and members of the Idaho Wolf Oversight Committee appeared to listen carefully – but later invented excuses not to follow his expert advice. …

[Years later] IDFG Big Game Manager Lonn Kuck told the Commission and the media that a specific decline in an elk herd over a five-year period was the IDFG criteria for removing wolves. Although some Idaho big game hunters and their elected officials saw the 2006 Agreement with DOI as the answer to halt declining deer and elk populations, IDFG Large Carnivore Coordinator Steve Nadeau continued to insist IDFG had no evidence that wolves were causing the elk declines. …

The July 1993 Wolf EIS predicted limited impact on elk from a recovered wolf population in the Central Idaho (CID) Recovery Area (estimating a maximum 10% reduction in cow elk hunter harvest and no reduction in bull harvest). This was based on a recovered wolf population of 10 breeding pairs – about 100 wolves.

It was also based on a post-hunting season CID ungulate population of 241,400, including 76,300 elk and 159,500 deer; and on 100 wolves killing only 495 elk (only one elk killed for every 2.36 deer killed). But, instead, the wolves killed nearly four times as many elk as they did deer and that was only one of the flaws in the prediction.

As the FWS charts clearly show, by 2001 there were already twice as many wolves just in known packs as were supposed to exist in a recovered wolf population. And by 2005 there were at least five times as many wolves as were supposed to exist in a recovered population.

If 100 wolves would have required a 10% reduction in cow elk harvest as predicted, five times that many wolves – each killing three times as many elk as had been projected – would methodically destroy the elk herds. And 15 times as much wolf killing of elk as had been predicted in the EIS is exactly what happened while IDFG officials continued to claim wolves were having no impact on elk. …

New Idaho F&G Revelations about Wolves

In 2008, [IDFG Director] Groen announced the Department’s intention not to reduce the number of wolves and to keep Idaho’s wilderness areas saturated with wolves to provide more wolves in surrounding areas. But on Feb. 5, 2009, Groen told the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee (JFAC) that, because of wolves, Idaho’s deer and elk populations are decreasing at the rate of 15% per year!

He also told them that without wolves the herds would be increasing at seven percent per year. Then he said that wolf packs have become overcrowded and wolves are beginning to kill each other. On Feb. 18, 2009, Lance Hebdon and Assistant IDFG Director Sharon Kiefer answered a request from Senate Resources Committee Chairman Gary Schroeder with a report stating that wolves are costing Idaho up to $24 million per year in lost revenue from elk hunters.

On May 6, 2009 Pete Zager told a Western States and Provinces Deer and Elk Workshop in Spokane that the number of elk harvested annually by hunters in Idaho has been declining, from around 25,000 in the mid-1990s, when wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rocky Mountains, to roughly 15,000 last year. That represents a 40% decline from the average harvest and even more from the 1994 harvest of 28,000 just before Canadian wolves were released into Idaho. …

Why Admit the Facts They Have Been Hiding?

Hunters and their elected officials who interpret these revelations as a change in management philosophy may not understand the agencies’ real reasons for admitting the truth about wolf predation. Because Idaho and Montana agreed to act as agents of FWS for at least the next five years in managing wolves for FWS, they have inherited several serious problems including how to address the loss of hunting license revenue caused by wolves depleting the game herds.

As wolf experts predicted in 2001, wolf numbers have expanded beyond their carrying capacity and are quickly decimating their wild prey base in both states. There is not adequate federal funding to monitor them and their prey – much less pay the cost for Wildlife Services to investigate the rapidly increasing livestock losses and locate and kill the offending wolves.

The animal rights groups that FWS and the State agencies have embraced for two decades have no intention of allowing wolves to be controlled in the lower 48 States any more than they did in Alaska. They have already won the battle to reverse wolf delisting in the Western Great Lakes and even if they fail in their request to the Missoula Judge for an injunction to halt wolf hunting, they have promised to appeal it to the Ninth Circuit which has also been friendly to their cause.

A Benevolent “Mother Nature” That Balances Wildlife in Ecosystems is a Figment of Disney’s Imagination

After “being in bed” with animal rights preservationists and sharing their “far out” philosophies for their entire careers, too many state wildlife biologists lack the ability to embrace science and facts. In Idaho, Groen continues to ignore decades of undisputed scientific wolf research and blames too many wolves killing too many elk on human interference with “Mother Nature.” …


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