The Truth about Idaho’s and Montana’s 2009 Wolf Harvest Quotas

By George Dovel

From The Outdoorsman, No. 35, July-Nov 2009 [here]

On March 6, 2008, in an effort to pacify Defenders of Wildlife and other wolf extremist groups, the Idaho F&G Commission ignored the 15 breeding pairs (150 wolves) goal established by the Legislature and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Interior Secretary. Instead, the Commission adopted a bastard plan that has never been submitted to the full Legislature for approval or rejection as required by Idaho law.

The 2008-2012 IDFG Plan agreed to manage for a minimum population of 518-732 wolves for five years …

In his testimony to the Court, Mech explained: “Every year, most wolf populations almost double in the spring through the birth of pups” [Mech 1970]. For example in May 2008, there will not be 1,500 wolves [in the Northern Rocky Mountains], but 3,000! …

Without any science to support their claim, Idaho F&G Commissioners said they were going to cut the minimum estimated end-of-year wolf population from 732 in 2007 to ~520 in 2008 using only a fall hunting season which also prohibited two methods used to harvest Idaho bears and mountain lions!

In other words, they ignored biology and science and pretended they could do what no other state or Canadian province with wolves has ever been able to do. …

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2 Dec 2009, 10:36pm
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The Wolf Crisis

- While sportsmen in the Rocky Mountain states are getting totally fed up with an ever-increasing wolf population that has devastated the moose, elk and deer populations in some areas, the 2009 hunting season may be a pivotal point in this heated controversy when prudent wildlife management finally wins the day -

By Jeff Lampe, North American Whitetail, Oct 2009 [here]

Tim Craig began his career as a hunting outfitter in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of central Idaho. For 32 years Tim has faithfully returned to the remote wilderness. The main draw has always been elk hunting and the wildness of this 1.3-million-acre roadless expanse of trees and rocky peaks.

“That’s where I cut my teeth; that’s where my heart is,” says Craig, who operates Boulder Creek Outfitters out of Peck, Idaho.

But Craig is fortunate to have several other areas to hunt because, by necessity, he’s on the verge of giving up on the Selway-Bitterroot.

“I never used to ride on a horse for eight hours and only cut only one or two elk tracks,” Craig said. “But that’s what happens now, and you can’t take clients into that kind of situation. I’ve pretty well come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to move on. And I know of eight or nine other outfitters getting out of there as well. I’d be surprised if anybody is still there within five years. It’s that bad.”

While biologists point to invasive plants and hard winters as key factors in big-game declines, Craig and others who spend months camped in the woods single out another, toothier problem — wolves. The Selway-Bitterroot was an original-release location for wolves in 1995 and 1996. In the years since, Tim says, the wilderness area has been hard hit by the resurgence of these predators.

“Wolves come in and run the herd out,” Tim said. “I’ve been here for 32 years in the same areas, and we’ve got some spots where there are totally no elk or deer. “In the backcountry areas, the deer were the first thing that went once the wolves went in. Now they’re just hammering the elk. It’s pathetic.”

Since being reintroduced to the northern Rocky Mountains, wolves have steadily spread into haunts they had not roamed since the 1930s. At the end of 2008, some 1,645 wolves were documented in the Northern Rockies. This includes parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern third of Washington and Oregon, and part of north-central Utah.

Federal surveys show that Idaho has the densest concentration of wolves, with at least 846. Next high are Montana (496) and Wyoming (302).

In recognition of those numbers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted wolves in early 2009 for the second time in as many years. Though the latest delisting met with predictable lawsuits from anti-hunting groups, indications are that the Obama administration supports the plan. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar needed less than two months to affirm the USFWS decision in early March.

In response, Idaho and Montana plan to have wolf hunts this fall. The states hope hunting wolves will help offset potential losses in hunting income that recent surveys estimated could be as high as $15 to $24 million. Others hope hunting will make the presence of wolves more palatable to hunters who have witnessed the big-game losses.

“It’s way past time to do this,” says Ed Bangs, the USFWS biologist who has overseen the reintroduction of wolves to the west. “(Wolves) should be managed and that management should include hunting. The wolf population can’t keep growing. All the suitable habitat is filled now. So instead of having me in a helicopter shooting wolves after they eat a guy’s cow, you can have hunters pay for the same privilege. By having hunting as part of the equation, you can have a more effective program that’s cheaper.” … [more]

28 Nov 2009, 8:33pm
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Of wolves and worms

by DeLene, Wild Muse, 11/27/2009 [here]

If a Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf has a daily to-do list, it may look like this:1.) Avoid hunters, 2.) Maintain territory, 3.) Find prey, 4.) Get de-wormed.

Yes, de-wormed.

According to a new study out in the October issue of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, three-millimeter-long tapeworms known as Echinococcus granulosus, are documented for the first time in gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. And the authors didn’t just find a few tapeworms here and there… turns out that of 123 wolf intestines sampled, 62 percent of the Idaho gray wolves and 63 percent of the Montana gray wolves were positive. (Ew!) The researchers wrote: “The detection of thousands of tapeworms per wolf was a common finding.” (Again… Ew!!) This leads to the interpretation that the E. granulosus parasite rate is fairly widespread and established in the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves.

The tapeworms themselves are not new. Gray wolves in Canada and Alaska are known to be infected with them. In fact, previous studies indicate that a 14 to 72 percent infection rate is normal. But the study authors report that this is the first time that a specific biotype of E. granulosus has been detected in not only wolves of Idaho and Montana, but also wild herbivores. The parasite needs both types of animals to complete its life cycle. … [more]


Comments by Will Graves, the author of “Wolves in Russia” [here]

In the first paragraph in my letter to Mr. Bangs dated 3 October 1993 on the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) which was titled “The Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho,” I warned about the damages and problems wolves would cause to Yellowstone and other areas by carrying and spreading parasites and diseases over larger areas. Some of these parasites are damaging not only to wild and domestic animals, but can also be dangerous to humans. One of these parasites is Echinococcous granulosus and Echinococcus m.

Since 1993 I have been working to tell people what I have learned from about 50 years of research on the characteristics, habits and behavior of Russian wolves. From that research I came to the conclusion that one of the most serious consequences of bring wolves into the US would be the wolves carrying and spreading around damaging/dangerous parasites and diseases. I did my best to explain this in my book titled, “Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages” edited by Dr. Valerius Geist. Details about my book are at my web site:

After several years effort, I finally recently obtained help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Parasitic Research Center in Beltsville, MD. This research center will try to conduct research on the blood taken from wolves in our western states. One parasite they will be researching is Neospora Caninum. They hope to determine if wolves carry and spread the parasite around. It is established that coyotes and dogs carry this damaging parasite.

I remember that about two years ago there was a report about one wolf carrying Echinococcus granulosus in Montana.

Much more research is needed about the danger wolves bring to our environment. Some of the parasites carried by wolves are dangerous to humans.

16 Nov 2009, 12:50pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Montana wolf hunt to close Nov. 16, half-hour after sunset

by Joleen Tadej, The Clark Fork Chronicle, November 16 2009 [here]

Wolf hunting in Montana will close statewide Monday, November 16, 2009 at one half-hour after sunset.

The order halting the hunt came after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials received word that the pre-established harvest quota for wolves in WMU 2 had been met and was expected to be met in WMU 1. WMU 3 was closed on October 26, 2009. Montana’s statewide quota was 75 wolves.

For more information, visit FWP’s web site [here]

10 Nov 2009, 7:08pm
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Wolves Will Thrive Despite Recent Hunts

Note: this excellent article should be widely read:

Wolves Will Thrive Despite Recent Hunts

by William F. Jasper, The New American, 10 November 2009 [here]

In 1995 the federal government began transplanting Canadian gray wolves into Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. That program touched off a fierce range war that continues to rage, pitting farmers, ranchers, hunters, conservationists, outdoor recreationists, and rural folk against the major environmentalist lobbying organizations, government bureaucrats, the big-city media, and urban politicians.

After being protected for 14 years, limited hunting seasons have finally been allowed for wolves this fall, and around 150 wolves have been taken thus far. Wolf advocates are howling that the permitted hunts are “barbaric” and that those who kill wolves are “murderers.” A coalition of radical environmental groups has challenged, and continues to challenge, the hunts with lawsuits in federal court. (See the list of coalition members at the end of this article.)

Those opposed to the wolf “recovery program” rejoiced when the hunting season finally was announced, but many believe it will barely begin to address the exploding wolf population that is decimating deer, elk, and moose populations, as well as causing havoc with cattle and sheep herds. They point out that wolf population estimates by fish and wildlife officials are notorious for undercounting (i.e., there actually are far more wolves than officially admitted), and even if hunters fill all of the tag quotas, wolf populations will continue to soar. … [more]

10 Nov 2009, 12:20pm
Homo sapiens Wolves
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Humans, as predators, have duty to control coyotes

By Dick Dekker, PhD, Edmonton wildlife ecologist, The Edmonton Journal, November 9, 2009 [here]

“Coyotes Kill Young Singer Hiking on Nova Scotia Trail” was a headline in The Edmonton Journal of October 29.

This shocking news story was followed by an almost equally shocking headline, but then in a very different sense: Victim Wouldn’t Want Coyotes Killed

The bereaved mother was quoted to say: “We take a calculated risk when spending time in nature’s fold … in the coyote’s space.” By this, she probably meant that the coyote was here first, and its rights should take precedence over those of humans.

Unfortunately, her soft-hearted reaction appears to be based on the fallacious belief that Nova Scotia is the coyote’s original habitat. This is not the case at all — quite the opposite. The coyote arrived after humans exterminated its natural control, the wolf.

Prior to European settlement in North America, the original range of the coyote was restricted to the arid southwest, whereas all lands to the east and north were the domain of its bigger cousin. However, after wolves were shot and poisoned in most of the continent, the coyote took advantage of the opportunity by expanding its range.

This adaptable canid is now common from coast to coast and in all suitable habitats, as far north as Alaska.

According to various experts commenting on the Nova Scotia tragedy, coyotes rarely attack people, and the pair of animals involved in killing the 19-year old woman may not have been pure coyotes, but hybrids of coyotes and dogs (The Journal, October 29).

Eastern coyotes are somewhat larger than the western kind, and the differences may involve more than just physical size. In the Maritime provinces, coyotes have, in fact, become wolflike and now prey on deer as well as mice and rabbits.

“Eastern Coyotes May Be More Aggressive, Expert Says.” (The Journal, October 30). This opinion, however, is contradicted by the facts. Based on the known record, attacks on humans by western coyotes are by no means rare. Several dozen serious and potentially lethal cases have been reported from western national parks — including Jasper, Banff and Yellowstone — as well as from provincial recreation sites in British Columbia.

Nor is coyote aggression toward people uncommon in large cities, including Vancouver, Los Angeles and Toronto. In all of these areas, there was no hunting. Coyotes lose their fear of people, scavenge on food scraps and are sometimes fed.

Most of the woundings have involved children, which were grabbed and dragged into bushes. Luckily, in nearly all of these horrifying incidents, the timely intervention of parents saved the screaming victims from certain death.

Some well-meaning defenders of wild predators argue that attacks on humans by coyotes are very few compared with those by dogs. This is indeed a very sad fact. Serious bites and even lethal maulings by “man’s best friend” average five million reported cases per year in North America.

The difference is that some coyotes consider humans as potential food, on par with deer or bighorn sheep. The coyote’s ferociousness in attacking animals larger than itself is not a pretty sight.

In cities, the fearless coyote is a growing problem, and what to do about it is locally under review. In the opinion of Edmonton park rangers, only proven culprits should be killed, because, for every coyote removed, another one will take its place.

This realistic management option shows a surprising level of tolerance for a potentially dangerous predator in a city where people think little of destroying other wildlife, such as magpies and squirrels, just because they are noisy or a nuisance.

In wilderness habitats, the opportunistic coyote is kept in its place by the wolf. I can speak from personal experience.

During my 30 years of mammal surveys in Jasper Park’s lower Athabasca valley, where wolves have been the apex predator, coyote sightings per day have gradually declined by a factor of 10 to one.

In large cities, in the absence of wolves, humans are now the dominant predator and should take the responsibility for keeping aggressive coyotes at bay.

Copyright 2009, The Edmonton Journal.

3 Nov 2009, 5:54pm
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Predicting Predator Attacks on Humans

by Val Geist

Note: Dr. Valerius Geist, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

In view of last week’s fatal attack on a 19-year-old woman by two coyotes in Cape Breton National Park [here], please allow me a commentary, which I ask you distribute to distribute to your affected colleagues.

1. Both coyotes and wolves have an identical manner of targeting alternative prey, and this process is drawn out and specific, so that one gets fair warning well ahead of the first attack by wolves or coyotes on people. This targeting process proceeds in steps (from Will Graves 2007 Russian Wolves. Anxiety through the Ages [here]):

Free-living wolves also follow the general habituation-exploration model… These circumstances are:

(a) Severe depletion of natural prey.

(b) Followed by wolves searching for alternative food sources among human habitations.

(c) The brazen behavior of wolves was due to the wolves being undeterred by and habituated to inefficiently armed humans (or ineffectual use of weapons or outright protection of wolves),

(d) Wolves shifted to preying on pets and livestock, especially on dogs. (In our neighborhood one or several wolves attacked dogs despite the physical intervention by their owners which the wolves more or less ignored).

(e) Wolves tested and killed livestock; the tests resulted in docked tails and ears of cattle.

(f) The wolves commenced deliberate, drawn-out exploration of humans be such on foot or on horseback, (this is not merely visual and olfactory, but included – weeks before these wolves attacked a human – the licking, nipping and tearing of clothing. Beatty 2000).

(g) This was followed by wolves confronting humans.

(h) Wolves attack humans.

According to interviews with hikers and Cape Breton National Park staff, coyotes in the park had reached stages f to h. In short, if you are aware of this targeting process you would have been highly alarmed by coyotes showing stage f behavior. The coyotes were, clearly, on the way to attacking humans. Also, the pattern of wounding as described by the press indicates that this attack was an exploratory one.

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16 Oct 2009, 3:24pm
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Court uses flawed data in wolf case

By Richard Reeder, Cody Enterprise, October 5, 2009 [here]

An official involved in wolf reintroduction since the program began says the recent federal court ruling blocking delisting is using data that doesn’t reflect the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Doug Smith, leader of the Yellowstone Grey Wolf Restoration Project, says studies from Isle Royale used by environmentalists and Judge Donald Molloy reflect a specific wolf population, not wolves in general.

“I worked on the Isle Royale project and those wolves are an isolated population,” Smith says. “They are extremely inbred because they have no other options.”

Isle Royale is a large island in Lake Superior, not a wide open range like Yellowstone Park and surrounding states.

“The environmentalists and Judge Molloy are using that population, which has deformities in their spinal column, as an example of inbreeding problems,” Smith says. “They say we have to avoid those mistakes, but those problems don’t apply here.”

“Isle Royale has a small gene pool and population,” he added. “We don’t think its a comparable argument.”

Smith says the small population size of Isle Royale doesn’t reflect the Yellowstone area.

“It’s a small population and will remain so because of its isolation,” he says. “The genetic argument in this region is moot because it isn’t Isle Royale.”

“We’ve tested the wolves in this region extensively and so far we haven’t found any problems,” he adds. “We’ve covered all the bases, and the future of wolves here won’t be the same as Isle Royale.”

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9 Sep 2009, 9:41pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
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Greater Yellowstone elk suffer worse nutrition and lower birth rates due to wolves

By Tracy Ellig, MSU News Service, July 15, 2009 [here]

Bozeman — Wolves have caused elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to change their behavior and foraging habits so much so that herds are having fewer calves, mainly due to changes in their nutrition, according to a study published this week by Montana State University researchers.

During winter, nearly all elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are losing weight, said Scott Creel, ecology professor at MSU, and lead author on the study which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Essentially, they are slowly starving,” Creel said. “Despite grazing and browsing during the winter, elk suffer a net loss of weight. If winter continued, they would all die, because dormant plants provide limited protein and energy, and snow makes it more difficult to graze efficiently.”

With the presence of wolves, elk browse more - eating woody shrubs or low tree branches in forested areas where they are safer - as opposed to grazing on grass in open meadows where they are more visible, and therefore more vulnerable to wolves.

Browsing provides food of good quality, but the change in foraging habits results in elk taking in 27 percent less food than their counterparts that live without wolves, the study estimates.

“Elk regularly hunted by wolves are essentially starving faster than those not hunted by wolves,” said Creel, who shares authorship on the paper with his former doctoral students John Winnie, Jr., and David Christianson.

The decline in the Greater Yellowstone’s elk population since the reintroduction of wolves in 1995 has been greater than was originally predicted. In the three winters prior to the reintroduction of wolves, elk on Yellowstone’s northern range numbered roughly between 17,000 and 19,000. In the three winters prior to 2008, annual elk counts had declined to between 6,738 and 6,279.

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9 Sep 2009, 10:48am
Homo sapiens Wolves
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Judge refuses to block wolf hunt

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter lauds decision

Spokane Spokesman-Review at 10:23 a.m. on September 9 [here]

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy has denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to block wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana; Idaho’s already has begun, and three wolves have been taken by hunters. The two states included hunting in their management plans for gray wolves, which until May were on the endangered species list; since they’ve been delisted, the two states now manage their wolf populations. Here is Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s response to the judge’s decision:

“Judge Molloy did the right thing. Idaho has met and exceeded the criteria agreed upon by all parties for recovery. We have a plan in place for managing wolves, based on the best science available, and we intend to keep our promises outlined in that plan. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Fish and Game Commission have done a great job of setting hunting numbers to ensure a sustainable wolf population and genetic connectivity. We are and will continue to be responsible stewards of the species.”

Dem Minnick and Rep Risch praise Judge Molloy’s decision

Spokane Spokesman-Review at 10:32 a.m. on September 9 [here]

Two members of Idaho’s congressional delegation have immediately weighed in with statements praising federal Judge Donald Molloy’s decision to reject a move to halt wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana. Here are the statements from 1st District Congressman Walt Minnick, a Democrat, and Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican:

Minnick: “Today’s ruling by Judge Molloy was a victory for those of us who want land-use and wildlife decisions made at the local level, using sound science, collaboration and consensus. I applaud the decision, and now urge all parties, including the state of Wyoming, to work with scientists to ensure a healthy but balanced population of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.”

Risch: “I am pleased that the judge has allowed wolf hunting in Idaho to continue, and I hope this brings an end to lawsuits opposing the hunt. Wolf numbers have far exceeded the recovery goals set when they were introduced into the state. It is time to let Idaho’s game managers do their job and manage wolves just as they do bears, cats and other species.”

7 Sep 2009, 9:46pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report

From: USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM

WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- August 31 through September 4, 2009 [here]

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) can be viewed at Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Idaho Department of Fish and Game websites. All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.

Annual Reports

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2008 Annual Report is available [here]

Delisting Litigation Status

A hearing of the preliminary injunction request was held in Federal Court in Missoula, MT on August 31. Oral arguments were heard from the Plaintiffs, a coalition of environmental and animal rights groups, and the Defendants- U.S. Department of Interior, and two interveners- the States of Montana, and Idaho. At the conclusion of the hearing the judge complimented everyone on what he thought was a well-briefed and civil hearing. He said he would issue an order as soon as possible.


Yellowstone Park reports that ground observations of wolf pups in Lamar Valley indicate severe mange in 1 of 4 (pup is mostly hairless) and evidence of mange in several of the adults. Their pups are also half the size of other pack’s same aged pups. Pups from other packs appear in usual numbers and healthy.

IDFG reported as of 9/4/09 only 3 wolves have been reported taken in Idaho by licensed hunters, all during the first day that a few backcountry units were open [8/31/09]. One of those was taken as it harassed a hunters horses that were picketed by his camp [which would have been legal under the 2008 ESA experimental population rules]. He tagged it just so he could keep the pelt. Additional harvest might happen during the long Labor Day weekend.


On 8/31/09, WY Wildlife Services confirmed 8 sheep (8 ewes) killed by wolves in the Big Horn Mountains. Control to remove wolves causing the depredations is ongoing but so far it has been unsuccessful.

On 8/31/09, WY Wildlife Services confined a yearling steer was killed in the Upper Green River drainage, north of Pinedale, WY. The Green River Pack consists of 11 wolves and have killed >3 cattle this summer. The pack has a chronic history of livestock depredation. The USFWS requested Wildlife Services to remove 4 wolves in attempt to reduce additional depredations.

On 8/31/09, WY Wildlife Services confirmed a cow was killed by wolves in the East Fork Pack near Dubois, WY. The pack consists of approx. 8-10 wolves. Control was completed on 9/2/09 when WY WS removed 2 wolves. …

On 8/31/09, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized removal of two wolves in Baker County after five separate livestock depredation that killed a total of 27 sheep [all lambs], 1 goat, and 1 calf on 2 private ranches since April 10. One wolf was radio-collared in response to earlier depredations. Monitoring indicated that the only wolves involved were just 2 yearling non-breeders that were not associated with a pack. ODFW also issued a permit to one rancher to shoot the 2 wolves if he caught them in the act of attacking more of his livestock. The wolves were previously harassed “multiple times” from the air but these and other non-lethal methods [rancher got extra fencing, buried the carcasses, and a guard dog] of protecting the livestock were unsuccessful. …

Note: see full report [here] for Table listing confirmed livestock depredations in WY: 1999 - 2009.

7 Sep 2009, 1:25pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
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Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Supports Wolf Delisting

MISSOULA, Mont.—U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Friday granted a motion allowing the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to enter an amicus curiae brief supporting state-regulated wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana.

The move means RMEF positions will be considered against an emergency injunction filed by 13 environmental groups asking the judge to stop a planned hunt and return gray wolves to the endangered species list.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday and Molloy’s ruling could follow soon afterward.

The Elk Foundation’s amicus curiae brief is posted [here]

Wolf Delisting Declaration and Exhibits to RMEF’s Amicus Brief Filed 8.28.09 [here, 5.19MB]

“We’re grateful that Judge Molloy has agreed to hear our side of this issue,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Once you cut away the hysterics and hyperbole, this is a straightforward wildlife management issue. State wildlife agencies have proven their professionalism and capability to balance predators with other resident species. They’ve been successfully managing wildlife for decades and we have total confidence in them.”

The Elk Foundation’s brief reinforces four main points:

* Historic success of modern, hunter-based conservation in North America.

* Viewpoints of hunters who continue to pay for the big-game resources that made wolf recovery possible.

* RMEF-funded research, along with other scientific and anecdotal evidence, showing that wolf populations are fully recovered and that, where wolves are present with elk, wolves are having detrimental impacts on elk.

* State wildlife agencies are best suited to manage wolves alongside other species.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.6 million acres — a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at or 800-CALL ELK.

26 Aug 2009, 8:49pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
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Wolves — When Ignorance is Bliss

Wolves mustn’t be coddled if we hope to balance them with modern ecosystems — and to avoid becoming prey

by Valerius Geist

Nothing convinces like personal experience! And I too am slave to it. As an academic I confess to this with some distress, because by training, experience and attitude I should be above it. That I am not alone in this habit is of little comfort. And so it was with wolves.

In my field research on mountain sheep, goats, moose etc. I also observed wolves, and my experience with North American wolves matches that of colleagues. Consequently, during my academic career and four years into retirement I thought of wolves as harmless, echoing the words of more experienced colleagues while considering the reports to the contrary from Russia as interesting, but not relevant to an understanding of North American wolves. I trusted my wolf-studying colleagues to have done their homework and I dismissed light-heartedly the experiences of others to the contrary. I was wrong!

I saw my first wolf in the wild early one morning in May 1959, on Pyramid Mountain in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia. I spotted an ash-gray wolf, with a motley coat, sitting and watching me from a quarter mile away with an eager, attentive look about his dark face. His red tongue was protruding, while golden morning light played on his fur. In the spotting scope his image was crisp and clear. I do not know if my heart skipped a beat, but it well might have. Whose wouldn’t?

Five months prior, in early January, I had had an informative brush with a wolf pack just a few miles from that spot. A friend and I were observing moose. We were in the midst of a migration and some two dozen, mostly bulls who had shed antlers, were dispersed over a huge burn. A few were feeding on the tall willows, but most were resting in the knee-deep snow. Suddenly we heard a low, drawn-out moan. When I glanced at the moose I saw that all were standing alert, facing down the valley. We were green then and perplexed about this unearthly sound.

As if to answer us, a high-pitched voice broke in, and then another and another. We realized we were hearing wolves. Within minutes a chorus was underway—and so were the moose. All were hastily moving up the valley and 10 minutes later the moose had vanished. I opted to stay at our lookout while my friend borrowed my rifle and went to search for the wolves. He saw them at dusk as they walked across a small lake, a pack of seven. Try as he may, the rifle would not fire; it had frozen in the great cold. This may have been kind fortune, for the first wolf I shot with that rifle instantly attacked me, but collapsed before reaching me. The second screamed, and that has triggered pack attacks in the past. Had the pack attacked, I would have been minus a friend in minutes. While a large man can subdue an attacking wolf, even strangle it, there is no defense against an attacking pack.

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25 Aug 2009, 10:37am
Homo sapiens Marine mammals Wolves
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NY Times Gums Up Science

The New York Times, that bastion of unbiased science, managed to gum up more research last week with a yellow journalism article about paleo Indians on the California coast.

The blaring headline in the NYT read, “Ancient Man Hurt Coasts, Paper Says”, but that is the opposite conclusion reached by the researchers.

Some excerpts from the NYT article:

Ancient Man Hurt Coasts, Paper Says

By CORNELIA DEAN, NY Times, August 20, 2009 [here]

The idea that primitive hunter-gatherers lived in harmony with the landscape has long been challenged by researchers, who say Stone Age humans in fact wiped out many animal species in places as varied as the mountains of New Zealand and the plains of North America. Now scientists are proposing a new arena of ancient depredation: the coast.

In an article in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Oregon cite evidence of sometimes serious damage by early inhabitants along the coasts of the Aleutian Islands, New England, the Gulf of Mexico, South Africa and California’s Channel Islands, where the researchers do fieldwork.

“Human influence is pretty pervasive,” one of the authors, Torben C. Rick of the National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution, said in an interview. “Hunter-gatherers with fairly simple technology were actively degrading some marine ecosystems” tens of thousands of years ago.

And, the researchers say, unless people understand how much coastal landscapes changed even before the advent of modern coastal development, efforts to preserve or restore important habitats may fail.

Dr. Rick’s co-author, Jon M. Erlandson of the University of Oregon, said people who lived on the Channel Islands as much as 13,000 years ago left behind piles of shells and bones, called middens, that offer clues to how they altered their landscape.

“We have shell middens that are full of sea urchins,” Dr. Erlandson said. He said he and Dr. Rick theorized that the sea urchins became abundant when hunting depleted the sea otters that prey on them. In turn, the sea urchins would have severely damaged the underwater forests of kelp on which they fed.

“These effects cascade down the ecosystem,” Dr. Erlandson said.

Today, coastal scientists argue about a similar cascade, which some attribute to sea otters’ being eaten by killer whales.

Two papers by Rick and Erlandson are posted at W.I.S.E. in the History of Western landscapes Colloquium [here, here].

The paper that discusses shellfish is:

Erlandson, Jon M., Torben C. Rick, Michael Graham, James Estes, Todd Braje, and René Vellanoweth. 2005. Sea otters, shellfish, and humans: 10,000 years of ecological interaction on San Miguel Island, California. Proceedings of the Sixth California Islands Symposium, edited by D.K. Garcelon and C.A. Schwemm, pp. 58-69. Arcata: Institute for Wildlife Studies and National Park Service.


We use data from San Miguel Island shell middens spanning much of the past 10,000 years in a preliminary exploration of long-term ecological relationships between humans, sea otters (Enhydra lutris), shellfish, and kelp forests. At Daisy Cave, human use of marine habitats begins almost 11,500 years ago, with the earliest evidence for shellfish harvesting (11,500 cal BP), intensive kelp bed fishing (ca. 10,000-8500 cal BP), and Sea Otter hunting (ca. 8900 cal BP) from the Pacific Coast of North America. On San Miguel Island, Native Americans appear to have coexisted with sea otters and productive shellfish populations for over 9,000 years, but the emphasis of shellfish harvesting changed over time. Knowledge of modern sea otter behavior and ecology suggests that shell middens dominated by large red abalone shells–relatively common on San Miguel between about 7,300 and 3,300 years ago–are only likely to have formed in areas where sea otter populations had been reduced by Native hunting or other causes. Preliminary analysis of sea urchin lenses, in which the remains of urchins are unusually abundant, may also signal an increasing impact of Island Chumash populations on kelp forest and other near shore habitats during the late Holocene. Such impacts were probably relatively limited, however, when compared to the rapid and severe disruption caused by commercial exploitation under the Spanish, Mexican, and American regimes of historic times.

Note that the abstract says, “Native Americans appear to have coexisted with sea otters and productive shellfish populations for over 9,000 years” and “Such impacts were probably relatively limited, however, when compared to the rapid and severe disruption caused by commercial exploitation under the Spanish, Mexican, and American regimes of historic times.”

That is not the same as “Ancient Man Hurt Coasts”; in fact, it’s the opposite.

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18 Aug 2009, 5:06pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
1 comment

Idaho Fish and Game Commission Sets Wolf Hunt Limits


The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Monday, August 17, set harvest limits for Idaho’s first public wolf hunting season this fall.

Fish and Game models indicate Idaho now has at least 1,000 wolves. The population increases at a rate of about 20 percent a year, without hunting.

The commissioners adopted a strategy that would help meet the state’s wolf population objective, as outlined in the 2008 Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan.

Hunters will be allowed to take up to 220 wolves this fall and winter. Wolf tags go on sale at 10 a.m. August 24, at all license vendors. A resident tag costs $11.75, and a nonresident tag costs $186.

One of the commission’s top considerations is retaining state management of Idaho’s growing wolf population. Idaho has an approved wolf management plan, developed with public involvement. The plan was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and found acceptable by a federal judge.

The commissioners’ decision is consistent with the population goals set out in the plan.

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