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Twenty five miles upriver from St. Maries in the town of Calder, John Walters eats a burger in the cafe. On his table by the window newspapers are opened to pages with wolf pictures. A recent ruling by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission that establishes the latest attempt at a hunting season for gray wolves in Idaho is the top story. Walters, one of the directors of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, planned to be first in line to buy a hunting tag when they went on sale Monday for $11.25 per resident. He called his attorney a few days before an injunction was filed Aug. 20 by Earthjustice to stop the hunt. Thirteen groups were named in the suit. He asked his attorney whether he could sue Fish and Game for fraud if the heavily advertised wolf hunting season didn't transpire. "He said no, because an injunction hasn't been filed yet to close the season," says Walters, between bites of his burger. Walters has been fighting for years for the right to kill wolves or sue the federal government for what he calls an illegal introduction of wolves into the state. A barrel of a man with long hair going gray, he's a former construction worker who was injured on the job and now collects disability. The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho native moved to the St. Joe Country in 1983 after years of advocating for the Fish and Game department that he is now at odds with. The agency, in Walters' opinion, has turned tail on the hunting public -- people who buy hunting licenses and who expect Fish and Game to manage the herds so hunters can bag bulls and bucks.

Three Views of the Wolf Wars: A Hunter, Advocate, and Game Official Speak Out

Editor’s note: A coalition of conservation groups represented by Earthjustice has filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore Endangered Species Act protections for wolves and stop planned wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho, where tags went on sale Monday (and sold briskly). U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy will hear the suit Aug. 31. The fate of wolves and wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies hangs in the balance.

The Hunter

East of St. Maries along the St. Joe River in Idaho, two sheet metal wolves howl from atop a ranch gate. The wolves are hand painted blue and gray in acrylic. They have been there for years.

Despite a public sentiment in this area that is vocally anti-wolf, the renditions have not been vandalized. The St. Joe River country, a mountainous backwoods section of the Idaho Panhandle where anti-government rhetoric flourishes as easily as the beer Friday night from the tappers at the local Calder Cafe, is a place of big pickups, logging trucks that trail dust and signs pock-marked by target practice with high-powered rifles.

Twenty five miles upriver from St. Maries in the town of Calder, John Walters eats a burger in the cafe. On his table by the window newspapers are opened to pages with wolf pictures. A recent ruling by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission that establishes the latest attempt at a hunting season for gray wolves in Idaho is the top story.

Walters, one of the directors of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, planned to be first in line to buy a hunting tag when they went on sale Monday for $11.25 per resident. He called his attorney a few days before an injunction was filed Aug. 20 by Earthjustice to stop the hunt. Thirteen conservation groups joined in the suit.

He asked his attorney whether he could sue Fish and Game for fraud if the heavily advertised wolf hunting season didn’t transpire. “He said no, because an injunction hasn’t been filed yet to close the season,” says Walters, between bites of his burger.

Walters has been fighting for years for the right to kill wolves or sue the federal government for what he calls an illegal introduction of wolves into the state. A barrel of a man with long hair going gray, he’s a former construction worker who was injured on the job and now collects disability. He and his family live upriver at Marble Creek.

The Coeur d’Alene native moved to the St. Joe Country in 1983 after years of advocating for the Fish and Game department that he is now at odds with. “I spent hundreds of hours as a volunteer,” Walters says.

His father was a Fish and Game hunter safety instructors for 36 years, and as a Boy Scout, Walters took part in a variety of projects that spurred his interest in hunting and the outdoors.

His father bought a tag in the state’s first elk hunt in 1948 a few years after the animals were introduced from Yellowstone Park. Because of a lack of predators, the elk began expanding their range, much as the gray wolf has since its reintroduction in 1995.

“My family has supported Fish and Game for 63 years,” he says. But the department, he says, has let him and the rest of Idaho’s hunting public down by allowing wolves to deplete the state’s elk herds, a revenue source for a Fish and Game department that relies solely on hunter dollars to survive.

“They are supposed to be the ranchers of our ungulates,” Walters says.

The agency, in Walters’ opinion, has turned tail on the hunting public — people who buy hunting licenses and who expect Fish and Game to manage the herds so hunters can bag bulls and bucks. “Until we have a 90 percent success rate [in terms of bagging animals] for deer, and a 50 percent success rate for elk, Idaho Fish and Game is failing,” he says.

As Walters sees it, the gray wolf was dumped into Idaho by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995, leaving elk herds at the mercy of a super predator. The wolves are the reason for the decimation of the elk herds in at least two of the state’s wildlife management units, he says.

For the past two winters he has shot photos of the dead elk he’s found with the nose and hindquarters eaten, a telltale sign, he says, of a wolf kill.

“If a wolf didn’t kill them,” he says, “having their nose and ass chewed off sure didn’t help them any.”

He has a stack of photographs so high, he says, gesturing with a hand raised 10 inches from the table top. The dead elk were emaciated before they were taken down by wolves.

In Walters’ view, the bigger picture in the wolf controversy is the push by environmental groups for a massive Yukon-to-Yellowstone biological corridor that includes vast tracts of land reserves that aren’t open to the public. The elk herds will be depleted, the land will be locked up, and hunting, an American tradition, will take a back seat to preservation, he contends.

“It’s about the Wildlands Project [renamed the Wildlands Network],” he says. “Wolves are just a tool.”

The gray wolf of the 1995 reintroduction, Walters, and many others contend, is not the same wolf that lived in the Rocky Mountains when Lewis and Clark trekked West in the early 1800s. The Canada gray wolf is much larger than the wolves that were exterminated from the territory more than half a century ago, he believes.

“The Rocky Mountain wolf that was here was a smaller wolf that was timid and not a whole lot bigger than a coyote,” he says.

The Wolf Advocate

In many ways, Stephen Alexander is the opposite of Walters in the Idaho wolf debate.

Alexander is one of the early members of the Sandpoint, Idaho-based Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance, a group that sprang up last year during hearings on a state wolf management plan. Where Walters and his Marble Creek neighbors have relied for years on a steady winter larder of elk and deer meat to feed their families, Alexander is a vegetarian who raises bees in a subdivision with a view of Lake Pend Oreille.

The street sign near his yard that reads “Ponder Point Drive,” is apropos for the philosophical debates about wolves that are common at Alexander’s dining room table.

The idea that the gray wolf whose population is spreading to the far reaches of the state is somehow a “super wolf” is ridiculous, Alexander says. He concedes that during the reintroduction effort wolves were brought to Idaho from Canada — but there is a reason for that.

“It’s the same wolf,” he says. “They were just all wiped out here.”

Unlike Walters, Alexander is slight and trim. His dark, animated eyes spark when his compassion is piqued — which it often is, when it comes to wolves.

A computer scientist who works from home for a Virginia aerospace company, Alexander first learned about wolves in the 1990s when he left Pennsylvania to visit his wife’s family in Missoula. He was handed a book by Rick Bass called The Nine-Mile Wolves, read it, and joined a burgeoning group of people in the U.S. who wanted to see an end to the animals’ persecution.

“There are almost no other animals that have been persecuted to the extent that wolves have,” he says. “All this discussion has to do with us as human beings,” he continues. “It’s about us and what is our relationship to the natural world.

“We are the super predators. We don’t tolerate competition very well. This is more of a self examination about us as a species and where we are going.”

Wolves, he says, belong in the ecosystem; they evolved with the animals they kill and eat, and the populations of both elk and wolves will balance once an equilibrium is reached.

“The hunters’ claim that the wolves will decimate the elk herds is untrue,” he says. “Wolves and all prey animals have evolved hand in hand for a million years. To say wolves will wipe out the elk is a ridiculous fallacy given they have evolved together.”

The fallacy, though, has taken root in hunters throughout the West, including the many who have traditionally come to Idaho to hunt. “Out-of-state tag sales are down,” he says, “because of the misconception that wolves are chewing up the elk here.” He cites a letter from Idaho Fish and Game that urges out-of-state hunters to buy an Idaho elk tag and take advantage of the hunting opportunities.

At Alexander’s dining room table, Rich Hurry, who moved west from Michigan this summer, sits in his chair as Alexander’s small daughter comes out from a room in the modest home, and crosses the carpet to tell her dad she’s hungry. Alexander goes to the kitchen to prepare a plate and Hurry tells how he traveled as a concerned citizen to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting in Idaho Falls last week where the state’s wolf hunting quotas were set.

He wanted to comment, he says, but there was no public comment period. “It was like a kangaroo court,” Hurry says. “All that was left was to set a target quota for how many wolves to kill.”

Among what he calls a “sea of camouflage,” he was one of the few people in sandals, shorts and a T-shirt to speak on behalf of the wolves. At the meeting, the commission considered three options: Setting a state wolf kill quota at 130, 220 or 430. It decided on a quota of 220 wolves to be killed in Idaho with no more than 30 dead wolves in the Panhandle for the 2009 season.

“They were afraid that a high target would invite an environmental injunction,” Hurry says. The number chosen by commissioners “was more palatable and would not trigger lawsuits.”

What riles Hurry and Alexander about the wolf hunt is not just the unnecessary killing of a beautiful animal, but that by having a wolf hunt the state game department is catering to hunters, money and politics instead of listening to science and the concerns of people like themselves.

“They are trying to achieve a desired number of elk according to politics instead of science,” says Alexander. “That’s what we take offense to.”

Alexander hikes to see elk. “I like to take pictures of them,” he says. But he also enjoys seeing wolf tracks and hearing the howl of the animals that have become his passion.

“We need to direct where we’re going if we want to be a civilized people,” he says. “We’re still lingering in barbarism.”

The Fish and Game Commissioner

Although Alexander and Walters are on opposite sides of the wolf issue, a target of their ire is the same: They both think that Idaho Fish and Game is on the wrong track. Enter Tony McDermott, a 30-year Army veteran who as a young helicopter pilot was shot down twice in Vietnam and who, reluctantly, became an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner after his retirement as cadre commander at the University of Montana’s ROTC department.

McDermott is known as McMule to his email buddies and the moniker bespeaks his straightforward persona as much as the mules he pastures on his rural mountainside property not far from Lake Pend Oreille’s Garfield Bay. To say that the commission doesn’t hear public comment just plain pisses him off.

He has read Alexander’s letters and responded to them, he says, and as far as comment is concerned, in the past four years he has pretty much heard all there is to hear from the public about wolves. “I probably know more about Idaho’s wolves than 99 percent of the people in this state,” he says.

It isn’t because he asked to. He is a member of the commission’s wolf subcommittee and is therefore obligated to be in the know.

“This is the most contentious social, political, emotional, irrational subject that I have ever been involved with,” says McDermott as he paces in his stocking feet across a kitchen floor white with sun. He is making coffee, piling some deer jerky from the refrigerator onto a plate, but the topic and the accusations against Fish and Game have his full attention.

“The irrationality on both sides of this astounds me,” he says.

Most of the letters, emails and comments he receives are from the outer fringes of the debate, he says. “I’m a huge environmentalist, but I’m not wacko,” he says. “Both ends of this spectrum are a little bit irrational.”

On one side are those who see wolves as a cult figure and a demagogue, he says. To others wolves are a bane of Idaho’s natural resources and must be exterminated.

“People who think wolves are sacred religious symbols are misinformed, they don’t understand the issue and they don’t want to,” he says sipping coffee from a big mug and chewing on jerky. “People who want wolves out of Idaho don’t understand the issue and don’t want to.”

Twenty percent of Idahoans hunt, says McDermott. The majority of those resident hunters, 170,000 of them, combined with 25,000 out of state hunters, understand the issue, he says.

“They want wolves managed,” he says. “The general population of Idaho wants wolves managed.”

Idaho has 40 breeding wolf pairs with 90 packs making up approximately 1,200 wolves, up 400 from last year’s estimate of 850, he says. The quota set by Fish and Game was extrapolated using a formula that would allow killing the number of wolves that the department thinks is added each spring during the whelping season. If met, he says the current wolf-kill quotas would stabilize the population of the predator in the state.

Originally, he says, Fish and Game bested a federal plan that called for 100 wolves in the state with 10 breeding pairs. The department instead called for 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. In an effort to reach a further compromise, the commission in 2008 called for between 500 and 700 wolves in Idaho for 5 years after the wolves were delisted this spring.

He doesn’t think the wolf harvest quota will be met. He thinks the state’s wolf population will continue to grow, in part because wolves will be difficult to hunt in the state’s brushy, mountain terrain.

“Hunters aren’t effective when it comes to wolf control,” he says.

In the meantime, he says, environmental groups seem to have the ear of a federal judge, who last year stopped the delisting process because of the conservationists’ argument that the state’s wolf population wasn’t genetically viable — that it didn’t mingle enough with an outside gene pool.

McDermott disagrees. A wolf tagged by Fish and Game near Hailey, Idaho, showed up 200 miles north of Calgary, in Canada, he says. Another, tagged in central Idaho, was found wandering in Colorado. “So, how can they say there is no genetic dispersal?” he asks.

Last year he says the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services killed 84 problem wolves in Idaho. In Montana 150 wolves were killed. The numbers aren’t often reported and don’t seem to have made a ripple in wolf dispersal in the state, or in wolf predation.

“Every wolf eats approximately 16 ungulates, a combination deer, elk and moose,” he says.

In Idaho, 80 percent of a wolf’s diet is elk. In two of the department’s wildlife management zones, including the Lolo and the Sawtooth Zone, he says wolves are preventing a depleted elk herd from recovering. “We also have a huge problem in the Salmon Zone and we’re going to have huge problem in North Idaho if management isn’t granted,” he says.

Unhappily Ever After?

To Walters and his neighbors, meanwhile, the problem is already out of hand. He and his wife Renee used to watch elk from their porch, and they often had friends from out of state visit during the hunting season. The friends don’t come anymore.

“Nobody wants to come here to see wolf tracks and scat,” Walters says.

When the sale of wolf tags opened Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. Walters was the first person in St. Maries to pay for a tag and the 159th person in the state to do so. When the next hunter at the counter of St. Maries’ Blue Goose Sporting Goods bought a tag a minute later, more than 300 tags had already been sold in the state. By noon the number was in the thousands.

“Animosity is driving these sales,” Walters says.

Sportsmen are tired of watching wolves eat the elk they like to hunt. The elk, despite a positive forecast by Fish and Game, are virtually on their way out, he contends.

Alexander disagrees, and believes he has science, conservationists and animal-lovers on his side.

And McDermott? With his stocky build and barrel chest, he seems almost ideally built to hoist the scales of balance — if balance is something Idahoans demand. But he admits he doesn’t know if balance can be achieved in the state’s debate over wolves.

Given the latest injunction he is dismayed that once again a judge will decide if there will be an Idaho wolf hunt.

“I will have a lot of heartburn with the legal process if an injunction is granted,” McDermott says. “If there’s an injunction, the Endangered Species Act is a farce that has been totally hijacked by environmental organizations for their self-serving purposes.”

A former editor, Ralph Bartholdt is a freelance writer and photographer living in Northern Idaho. You can read his blog, skookumfoto, by clicking here.

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  1. I’d like to know how many ungulates are killed by vehicles each year and how many livestock are killed other than by wolves. I think those couple numbers could help us figure out whether or not wolves really kill that much in relation to other things that also kill ungulates and livestock… somebody please do some research and post findings.

  2. To clarify the numbers should be for MT, ID & WY

  3. Hunters are not a monolithic group. While Mr. Walters is certainly entitled to his own opinion, he doesn’t speak for all hunters. This is an important distinction that needs to be made by the media when it comes to the debate about wolves.

    Not all hunters are as anti-wolf as Mr. Walters is, or as unrealistic in thinking that 50% of all elk hunters and 90% of all deer hunters should be successful in any given hunting season. After all, this is called hunting, not shooting. It seems as if some hunters (perhaps the ones that don’t go where the elk and deer really are…ie in the backcountry) seem to expect that wild animals should just offer themselves up and just hop into the back of a pickup truck or into their freezer.

    My hunting buddies and I are successful backcountry elk and deer hunters who enjoys our time in the Wilderness with all animals, including wolves. Thanks.

  4. “Until we have a 90 percent success rate [in terms of bagging animals] for deer, and a 50 percent success rate for elk, Idaho Fish and Game is failing,”

    Sentiments like these seem pervasive among hunters and F&G;employees, and do a lot to explain why many people don’t trust the management agencies. This is a pretty narrow view of resource management. How far should we go to reach these arbitrary goals? Wildlife belongs to everyone, not just hunters. The job is to preserve the resource, not to ensure hunter success. These two goals are not always compatible.

  5. I agree with what Matthew Koehler posted.

  6. The author missed a couple of important viewpoints. Economic impact and rural residents.

    How have rural businesses been impacted by wolves? Where are all the ‘wolf tourism’ dollars that were supposed to pour in to Idaho?

    How have the rural residents of Idaho been impacted having wolves living around their towns?

  7. There are guys around telling everyone about the millions of dollars brought in by wolf lovers. Defining exactly where that money is being spent is a little different. No new restaurants or motels in the places where wolf watchers go, namely Gardiner and Cooke City. BS is the main ingredient of the wolf value.
    I realize that predators and prey evolved together, but not with the sheer number of humans that now exist along with their needs, and certainly predators were never pampered and protected at the expense of everything else. I imagine the founders of our country are rolling in their graves in dismay.

  8. Professor Geist’s words should be read by Judge Malloy before he rules on this case.

  9. Dr. Geist is one of the top field biologists that ever lived and a friend of mine.

    That is why the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chose him to write this article in the latest edition of Bugle.

    BTW , he’s writing in the first person about first hand experiencies so what imbecile would call that a “straw man argument” ?

  10. Unfortunately wolf worshipers are not interested in the information from Dr. Geist anymore than they are interested in their former hero Dr. David Mech when he agrees that the Wyoming plan is and was biologically sound and feels wolves now need control.

  11. Though I haven’t hunted in many years I still have many friends who do. Some are bow hunters others use a rifle. One thing they do have in common is none of them plop their fat asses into an atv roar off into the forest/back country and complain about they don’t get any game. They still actually hunt. Want to bring back a deer or elk then work for it. No one ever said it was suppose to be easy.

  12. Dr. Geist ought to know that wolves don’t like dogs (which they likely see as rival wolves). Wolves will track people for a way until they get their scent. Wolves don’t “scream” when you shoot them. So this sounds like at least a partly made up story.

    It is not at all surprising that a wolf would attack a person’s dog right next to the person and pay the person no mind unless they jumped into the frey.

    I think Dr. Geist deifies elk, just as some do wolves. In fact, all of them are just animals trying to make their way. As a biologist, he has lost his scientific perspective.

  13. “Wolves don’t “scream” when you shoot them”

    Zat a fact?

    Dr .Geist has shot many, some right near his home on the North end of Vancouver Island. I’ve conversed with him extensively on the subject as have the Canadian courts in the matter of Kenton Carneigies death by a wolf pack.

    Have you personaly shot wolves or did you learn this at the Walt Disney School of Biology ?

  14. I appreciate this healthy discussion of different viewpoints on wolves and wolf hunting. I would like to add a couple of points.

    First, I have hiked in remote areas where wolves were abundant but I never saw or was threatened by a wolf. In stark contrast, walking in residential and rural neighborhoods in several states, I’ve had several scary encounters with aggressive domestic dogs. Based on my experience, and I think the statistics overwhelmingly confirm, my odds of being attacked by domestic or feral dogs are much greater than from a wolf in a wilderness.

    Second, I believe that scientific research is increasingly demonstrating that wolves are a “keystone” species from a landscape ecology perspective. Their prolonged absence in areas of former habitat causes a cascading effect of adverse ecological changes. One example is how the riparian habitats and associated species have rebounded in Yellowstone National Park upon the wolves’ return. In short, healthy wolf populations are essential to maintaining ecological health.

  15. If wolves are a keystone species, why were they not replanted in the east first where they first were removed? There are no wolves there to “restore the balance”. There were wolves in all 3 states, including Yellowstone when the Canadian wolves were hauled in, mostly naturally migrating Candians, but possibly some of the native irremotus that has been dropped as a classification, (makes all of the paperwork easier).
    As for the associated species, what about the elk and moose that are either being killed off or starving because they are being chased instead of being able to eat? Where are all of those wolves going to go when there is nothing wild left? Where intended all along, eating privately owned livestock and pets?

  16. I live and have lived on Vancouver Island BC all of my life.

    Prof Geist decided to retire here that says a lot.

    When I was a kid in the 50s there were rumors of wolves on Van Island, no one I knew had actually seen one.

    Our family tradition is to hunt blacktail deer every fall in the Salmon River Valley. Its hard to compete with memories but I recall most days seeing multiple bucks, you couldnt choose your buck but you sure saw lots.

    The wolves found us living in our hunting tent in the fall of 68. They howled all night long, after that there was no doubt they existed.

    It turns out that the winter of 68 was a bad one for snow, on returning to to the Salmon River valley bottom the next season the first day we counted 60 + deer skeltons and remains, the wolves had there way.

    To this day it has not recoverd, I still go but its not uncommon to go a week and not see a decent buck.

    Shoot the damn wolves, they will never go extinct its too thick in our ecotype.

    Active management is required for wolves. The number of wolves shot on Vancouver Island is miniscule compared to the population.


  17. Thank you, for posting Geist’s article. Very sobering.

  18. Psychopathic Wolf Haters aren’t very much higher on the evolutionary scale than the wolves they hate. Like wolves they react instinctively with paranoid, testosterone fueled rage when they see a competing predator in their territory who might “steal their prey” and they attempt to annihilate the perceived competing predator immediately.
    Most Native Americans take a dim view of the attempted annihilation of the wolf because their tribal memory includes Psychopathic Indian/Wolf Haters stealing their territory and attempting to annihilate them.

  19. Mehmnet & Mickey Garcia , take each other to a NA meeting . – The website for the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.

    Step # 1 say off the computer when wasted.
    Step # 2 proof read your comments.

  20. RTF: wtf are you talking about?

    My comments were meant sincerely and soberly.

    You must be some fat a$$ rancher whose livelihood is going down the toilet.

    Well – maybe it’s time for welfare, maybe it’s time for you to go away.

  21. Mickey, could you provide some documentation to your contention that American Indians want the wolves in ever increasing numbers? I cannot even find evidence of their revering the wolves in early history, much less those trying to make a living ranching now. Please note, I mean real Indians, not a hippie wanna be.

  22. Mehmnet,
    I think you’re living in a different century, back when the Cattle Kings ruled the West. I wonder if you could point to any “fat a$$” ranchers today? All the ranchers that I know in Montana and Idaho are barely scraping out a living at a job that they do for a love of the lifestyle, not for money.
    and Mickey,
    Have to agree with MDD… Are you a tribal member? If so, then let’s hear what you have to say about Native American thoughts on the issue. Otherwise, your blanket statement about what “most Native Americans” feel is a ridiculous attempt to simplify and generalize several complex cultures into a generic, monolithic strawman.

  23. Keith, honey, there you have it: if they’re not fat a$$ ranchers, then they’re spoiled middle class fat a$$ brats living their Wild West/Bonanza fantasies out – fantasies which necessitate the killing of wolves.

    At any rate, they need to become Yesterday’s News.

  24. Will Graves, the linguist who wrote his book on Russian wolves from the gleanings of church and bureaucracy records from the Russian archives, repeats the Russian peasant old saw “I don’t shoot the wolf because I hate wolves. I shoot the wolf because he kills my livestock.” And, as noted in many old Orthodox Church records, his children as well. Peter and the Wolf, far from being Disney at his best, is essentially true from the Russian folklore outlook. And the music was truly wonderful, Russian, by and for Russians, by a Russian. You have to know that the ethnic history with and of wolves was a part of it.

    Wolves are best when shy of humans. Hunting them is a way to encourage that shyness. I have been in Montana’s Paradise Valley in winter, and have seen the phenomena of deer living next to buildings and around barns. Now the elk are down in the alfalfa pivots in rut. It is about wolf avoidance. It is a behavioral change due to wolves that is an unintended consequence. They seek security. Private land with very limited access, and no hunting, is a good place to hold rut now. Not good for archery hunters, but a safer place for elk who now live with the distraction of wolves 365 days a year. We must never forget that bears are not around almost half the year. That winter relief from bears has been replaced by the 24/7 lurkings of wolves. Life has changed for everyone in the area, but not for the people in New York or Philadelphia or Chicago who are only around for a few weeks in summer, a week for hunting season. Residents have no relief. And no recourse for damages to their lives, their peace of mind. The family dog torn to shreds is not “good for the kids.” So, absent management by their defenders, who want no wolf to expire, being able to buy a permit to shoot at one if it is in your yard is reasonable and good for all wolves in the long term. That was expressed for Grizzly bears in a recent NW story from Glacier NP. And Grizz is only out and around in the warmer months. Mostly. Now they are low in the Valley around Emigrant in the elk rut because that is where the elk are, the gut piles are, and they have found fruit trees, and in one incident a year or so ago, a hunter stumbled onto a grizzly sleeping during the day well below public roadless lands, in a painful experience. Another unintended consequence of wolf introduction. When you change elk behavior, you therefore have changed grizzly behavior. Probably not to the benefit of Grizz.

    It is assumed the USFWS had an implicit mandate to manage wolves from their introduction, and allowing bad behavior to be met by possibly lethal response is a part of management that needs to be discussed. I find it disingenuous, at the least, to say that someone in Newark has as much right to have a say about what a wolf is doing to your property, your family security, you mental well being, as you do. I believe the aggrieved party has more at stake, and has greater standing in the issue. And bringing grizzly bears into the equation as an unintended consequence only exacerbates the problem for Grizz and people, as the wolves get a pass.

  25. Slavic mythology also gave us the werewolf and vampire. Slavic mythology is at least as reliable as Orthodox church records, barebate.

  26. Whether or not the wolf population needs control, the general public should not be the ones hunting. As we have all heard from the majority of the wolf hating hunters they are irrational about this matter and love to think they are the only ones who should be “entitled” to elk, deer, moose, and wilderness in general.

    In this random kill-a-thon that is proposed for Idaho and Montana there are no regulations on the age, sex, and size of the animal which to me seems extremely negligent. Do we know if alpha males and females are eliminated could this lead to more “rogue” wolves with undisciplined hunting tactics with wild or domestic animals? Without leaders there are bound to be additional problems, not fewer. Without mothers there can be no pups ready to accumulate knowledge. What will be the consequences of these actions?

    IF control is needed than it should be the job of scientists and biologists to address each wolf and pack situation and responsibly, (if that can even be said) take out an appropriate number. Someone who is held accountable and will do the job without malice or bias and correctly report what they have done is the only way I think this should be done. I take that back, I don’t think this should be happening at all, but I would rather have a “responsible” entity be in charge than all the idiots with guns who spent $11.75 to get off on killing an animal they cannot and will not take the time to understand.

    And one last thing about this hunt, I don’t know which genius decided that opening up the Sawtooth unit on September 1st was a good idea – ummm….hhmmm…let’s see…many, many hikers and backpackers and tourists and domestic dogs and Labor day…..oh heads will roll if someone and/or their dog gets injured or killed. Someone in charge is really thinking now! How foolish….and without vision…this whole thing sucks and I am loosing faith in humanity a bit more each day!

  27. I’m devastated by these poor wolves. Tonight I shall take my life and turn into a wolf to lead them to salvation.

  28. The Nez Perce call him “He-me” Their past connects with him both culturally and spiritually. He was an effective hunter and, Like the Nez Perce, kept a close family bond (family values). “He-me” is the gray wolf (Canis Lupus) and Nez Perce continue to honor its past with the animal that once roamed its ancestral homeland. During the westward settlement by Euro-Americans, populations of bison, deer, elk and moose were slaughtered by the white settlers. Those populations were important prey for the Wolves. With little alternative sources of food the wolf began to eat sheep and cattle owned by settlers. In an effort to protect their livestock, ranchers began hunting the wolf into extinction. The ranchers and Euro-settlers created an environmental hell on earth, in effect, and to this day blame it on the Wolf. Instead of Harvesting Native Wildlife in a sustainable manner like the Native Americans, the Euro-settlers annihilated millions of Native Ungulates, imported non-native species with noxious weeds in their hides and guts and over-grazed the hell out of the west, and still insist that the Wolf pay for their sins.

  29. As a life long time Idaho hunter(I have carried an Idaho hunting license since 1953) , I am always amazed at all the BS about wolves that used to live in Idaho. The ones that were susposedly small and timid and just a little larger than coyotes. They WERE coyotes! Everytime I was sent to see a so-called wolf in the 50s,60s and 70s in Idaho, I always found a coyote.
    I hunted on horseback and on foot on both sides of the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Selway, Lowman,the Lost River country, Stanley and other Idaho spots for most of my life, and never saw a wolf, heard a wolf howl or crossed a wolf track until they were re -established in the mid 90s. I backpacked in the Bighorn Crags, the Sawtooths and much of central Idaho as a young man and with the same results. Those little wolves didn’t exist.

  30. I find it stunning that so many hunters lack an understanding of elk and deer habitat and ecology. They blame wolves for any perceived lack of deer or elk, yet in Idaho alone, grazing of livestock on our National Forests and BLM lands removes forage equivalent to what would support hundreds of thousands of elk and millions of deer on an annual basis.

    When are hunters going to wake up and realize that it’s public lands grazing that is destroying habitat for fish and wildlife and that elk and deer populations are well below potential because of livestock, not wolves.

    I was heartened by the comments of a few enlightened hunters here that there is a ray of hope in the fog of misinformation and lies being put out there to promote killing.

  31. Maybe Obama should put Ed Bangs in charge of the introduction of universal health care.

  32. “Where are all the ‘wolf tourism’ dollars that were supposed to pour in to Idaho? ”

    Well, considering that Idaho refused to provide any protection a all for wolves in a proposed viewing zone, I don’t think Idaho cares much about those tourist dollars.

    My husband and I spent quite a bit of cash to travel to Montana this year to the North Fork of the Flathead, specifically because of the possibility of spotting a wolf. (We did see one, by the way) If Montana hunts wolves, we won’t be going back, just as we’ve been boycotting Alaska travel.

  33. What is this?

    So in one comment we have a dismissal of Russian Orthodox record-keeping which used codified language, and another one that follows which posits the argument that a particular tribes “oral tradition” is accurate and infallible?

    Get real.

    And trying to equate written historical records of events with werewolf and vampire fantasies is intellectually dishonest.

    Also embodied in one of these brilliant posits is a completely faux etiology of weed infestations in the west, where the “author” argued that Euro-settlers imported ungulates who had weed seeds in their hides and guts, thus unleashing the noxious carnage upon the virgin landscape of the fragile west.

    “Well honey, pack up the kids in the Conestoga and I’ll order some Knapweed -infested cattle from Central Europe. Then we can get going.” – Rotten, nefarious, Euro-settler

    Thank God for Federal Express and their overnight trans-oceanic and trans-continental, 1870 Air Freight system so that the filthy Euro-settler could have those weed-infested bovines raring to “Go west, young bull”. Bull crap and seeds fall off, so getting it “There when you need it!” was an imperative.

    Come on Garcia, and you expect to be taken seriously? I suppose that’s possible, as most folks want to hear what they themselves have already convinced themselves is Gospel, and you are there preaching away.

    What expertise do you have with weed science, Mr. Garcia? When, for example, was Knapweed first discovered in Montana? Was it in 1911 rather than 1870? Why yes! You argue that it arrived in the hides and guts of bovines of Euro-settlers, when both independent weed scientists and the Department of Agriculture are pretty well convinced it came in a batch of contaminated alfalfa seed. You are flat-out wrong.

    How about Leafy Spurge? A far later arrival. The toadflaxes? As well. Sulfur Cinquefoil? Even later yet. Houndstounge? In the last thirty five years. And beware the arrival of Rush Skeletonweed. I saw it in the median and shoulders along I-90 near Post Falls two weeks ago, and it has encroached into Lemhi County to the south. Seeds in the wind, Mr. Garcia.

    The connection between all these? It isn’t “Ranchers”, but everyday folks just like you Mickey – everyday folks. The majority of weeds were introduced into this country as “landscape ornamentals” and escaped the confines of the garden. It’s those “City Folks”, Mickey. Evil old ladies planting gardens. Evil young women planting gardens. It wasn’t “Bonanza”, but the evildoers at 2721 Lark Bunting Way. Look, there’s an evil woman tending her garden with pretty flowers in it, some of which are ENVIRONMENTAL TIME BOMBS.

    And that Leafy Spurge. You know what really will pioneer spurge seeds off into new locations? Doves, man. Doves just love that stuff. A nice, bright colored plant in a sea of grey sage, and they pounce on that stuff like kids hitting ice cream in a Baskin-Robbins. They gorge themselves, then fly away and poop out a new infestation. Go look under power lines twenty miles away from a big infestation or under some cottonwood trees next to a creek, and guess what? New spurge infestation. Damn ranchers. Right.

    Other known contributors were those evil Ozzie and Harriet types who drove their family west on vacation back in 1954 in the old station wagon. Unknown to them, weed seeds were stuck to the underbelly hide of their vehicle, which is the main initial vector of invasive species seeds.

    But see, Ozzie was a “New West” kind of guy: a short visit gazing in awe, and then he headed right back to the worthless and mundane existence of suburban life. And Harriet went about planting invasive weeds in her garden. They were the first “Eco Tourists”, so to speak. Little did they know the carnage they were to cause by dropping a seed here and a seed there. Here a seed, there a seed… You get the idea.

    But Mickey, blaming the massive weed infestations we have today on the early settlers of the west is just plain B.S. Virtually every invasive weed species we have today was introduced post-1900, and said introduction did not come into the region as you described. The seed vectors were numerous and diverse, and remain so today.

    If you insist on getting behind the pulpit, at least preach the truth.

  34. Man on man mayhem throughout the world, and the wolf faeries babble on. Rape as a weapon of war in Africa, and the wolf faeries babble on. Our roadless areas and wilderness overrun with Mexican drug grows, in the thousands, and the wolf faeries babble on.

    The political discussion in the Yew Nited States has been compromised by the animists and the wolf faeries.

    We are supposed to be suffering moral indignation and national pain because some radical islamists were water boarded. Meanwhile, the car bombers blow up people at random, all in the name of Allah and His Greatness. Fifty year old muslim faithful, mature men, ride motorcycles through the streets of Afghanistan’s towns spritzing girls walking to school with acid to their faces, because females are not supposed to go to school. and the wolf faeries babble on.

    In the context of man’s inhumanity to man, the over riding theme of human history and the world, where does this be kind to animals ethic belong, and why is it far more important than the human condition?

    I read the comments, and there is this commonality of one group thinking about the fellowship of man and his life on earth, and there is another parallel commonality of people who think man is the font of all the problems in the world, and man should be dismissed from the whole of the equation. You first, please. If you perceive man as the problem, please take yourself out and be a part of the solution. With universal health care, you will be advised on how to arrange an early out with your caring doctor employed by the State. Those of us left can deal with the wolves.

  35. Rye seed was used as “packing peanuts” for valuables, and the seed was planted to provide forage when the ethnic Germans who left Russia ahead of the Bolsheviks and Communists, landed in the Dakotas and Montana. And in that seed was downy brome, “cheat grass”, seed. For cattle to have brought the weeds to Montana, they would have to have been present in Oregon and Idaho, as that is where the first cattle drives originated. A herd moves ten miles a day, and feed stays with a cow maybe three days at the most, the weed infestations would have to have first shown up far from the final destination.

    The aquatic invasion of the blue ribbon trout streams with the little New Zealand snails was about felt fly fishermen’s wader soles holding water and snails in the flight from blue ribbon fly fishing in New Zealand to back home to the New West to again be fishing or guiding. The elite fly fishers created the problem. Introduction of exotics is sometimes a rich man’s endeavor, whether by accident or on purpose. Shipping species around the world was big sport and an upper class movement in the 19th century. Collecting plants and animals was a very social activity. That is how we got white pine blister rust from gooseberry plants into wild currant west of the Rockies, and doomed Idaho white pine, and now whitebark pine that feeds grizzly bears. Port Orford cedar went to Europe as a garden shrub and tree, and then came back as a landscape plant with a root rot that is slowly killing the whole of the Port Orford cedar forest that arrows are made from. Mitten crabs and green crabs are now found along the whole of the US Pacific Coast, having come in on fast freighter water ballasts that are discharged into our estuaries from Asia. Getting that new iPod or plasma TV, texting cell phone, comes with a price beyond that on the tag. Even the dunnage, the pallets that support imported packaged goods, comes with stuff like the emerald ash borer which is quickly killing the ash trees of the midWest by the millions. This deal of whipping boy ranchers for all environmental disasters, then and now, is just wrong. Fast ships, world wide jet service complete with brown snakes to eat your birds, and suspect goods smuggled and brought in by containers that cannot all be inspected without a huge force of inspectors, is all a part of being the consumer nation of the world. We get more than we pay for. No free lunch. It is about cheap, not safety. And you losing your job.

  36. And crisw, if that’s your real name –

    You argue that Idaho didn’t provide any “protection” for a wolf “viewing zone”, thus didn’t experience the bonanza of tourist dollars that was promised.

    Are you daft? Better yet, how daft are you?

    Idaho didn’t have to “protect” wolves or create a zone to view them from. The Federal Government “protected” the wolves, and what exactly did you want Idaho to do for your wolf viewing pleasure? Stake out a few goats for you, ala Jurassic Park? Would that be adequate?

    And if you didn’t notice, there’s a few million acres in Idaho where you can go watch wolves all you want. They don’t need any protection. They’re simply “there”. We await your cash.

    “Promises, promises – Why do I believe?”

    When our Overseers decided extractive industries would be an activity exclusive to the “Third World” and not practiced or exercised here in the “Land of the Free”, the rural west was told by the Federal Government that tourism would be the economic replacement for logging and mining. It was to be a veritable “gold mine” without all that nasty digging and other hard work, as well as all the money as it turned out. “Service Industry” work was to replace the “production” of tangible things – The “New Economy”, so to speak.

    Let’s look at a real-life example of this insane fantasy, this obfuscation, this delusion, this flat-out lie. Let us examine the goings-on of the Bi-Centennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition along with all the “It’s going to be great” propaganda spewed out by the “Ministry of Truth”. “You really don’t have to work because they will simply come to you.” “It’s ‘Service’, not work!”

    Location: Salmon, Idaho – U.S.A.

    Estimates from the B.L.M. and the U.S.F.S. were that a million “additional” people were going to travel through Salmon during the two year “celebration”, dumping dollars all the way, and lots of them. Grants were written and rapidly awarded to build and then expand the Sacajawea Center, as well as equipping the Sheriff’s Department and the City Police with brand new rigs to deal with the crime wave that was sure to come along with the tourism. Plus, there were bound to be vehicular breakdowns as these modern day but intrepid pioneers retraced the steps of the explorers, and we needed to respond to these emergencies with new trucks and other nifty stuff.

    I mean, Sacajawea was born here, so if we build it and buy it, they will come. It was in a movie. Or not.

    Two brand spanking new motels popped up. Along Main Street, windows were washed and the streets were cleaned. Ten acres for parking was graded, awaiting the mass rush of vehicular riding humanity from points all about the compass. Locals and others not so practiced re-enactments so the throngs would be entertained in period style. The Shoshone-Bannock tribe sent emissaries from Blackfoot.

    “Peace in our time” and all that.

    We built it, and they didn’t come. The tourists. Well, a handful did. That ten acre parking lot had 11 vehicles in it two hundred years to the day after the fabled party of explorers and that wayward gal arrived, and one of those vehicles was a dump truck. It had a local plate on it, so I presume it didn’t belong to a tourist.

    So, the bonanza of modern day, well-heeled and well wheeled sojourners dollars didn’t even show up for Sacajawea, let alone those afterthoughts, Lewis and Clark. In spite of P.B.S. shows and Stephen Ambrose, almost no one had the “Undaunted Courage” to venture into lonely Lemhi County and drop a bunch of inflation-adjusted dollars into the poor locals laps. As usual, the poor became poorer. And now the City of Salmon has to maintain the Sacajawea Center. The B.L.M. doesn’t want it, and neither does the U.S.F.S.

    The motels? “Vacancy”, says the signs. That was a movie too.

    But, “It’s gonna be great! We’ll save you a room with a view!

  37. Weed nitwits posing as know-it-alls, attempting to divert attention from the main point by listing some weeds that arrived lately. 1. Weeds began coming to the New World as soon as Europeans began coming to the New World, beginning with the livestock that Columbus brought on his second voyage (1493-94). When the European livestock munched and trampled populations of native plants out of existence, it was very often Old World weeds that moved in to replace them. In the West Indies, Old World thistles, nettles, and sedges were proliferating by the early 1500s. In Peru, European clover spread so aggressively that it smothered out native crops in many areas. And by the end of the 1500s,the weed population of central Mexico was made up mostly of Eurasian plants. By the time the so called 49ers hit the gold fields of California, most of California’s Native Bunch Grasses had been reduced to remnant populations by huge herds of Mexican cattle driven by Californios Vaqueros, the first “cowboys” to hit the West. Vermont wrote the first noxious weed law in the English speaking New World in 1875 against “Canadian Thistle” another Eurasian import. Give us a break, dingbats!

  38. John Malloy and bearbait, thank you for that refreshing breath of common sense. It cleared the stench of hatred out for the moment.

  39. If anybody know hatred it is Marion.

  40. Weed nitwits?

    The nitwit is in the mirror, Garcia.

    I’ve dealt with noxious, invasive weeds as a “Professional Applicator” in the National Forests and Wilderness areas since 1997, and my company was the first to ever spray for such in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. We have treated tens of thousands of acres using mule sprayers, backpacks, and in the regular forest, the same with trucks and unfortunately, A.T.V.’s.

    You have done nothing tangible regarding invasive species, and you never will. You are a fully consumed whiner and a, well – whatever. We’re supposed to avoid name calling on this forum, a behavior you cannot seem to avoid. Proactive efforts to mitigate problems require actual work, a subject that is unfortunately foreign to your thinking.

    Mr. Garcia, do you think it remotely possible that as the immigrants from northeast Asia crossed over into the North American continent 11,000 years ago, they too introduced exotic species that eventually became naturalized? Or was their clothing so technologically advanced that no Asian species were introduced into what was for them, “The New World”? Perhaps they even had domesticated beasts of burden covered with hair/fur to assist them, carrying seed from said exotic species to virgin lands?

    No one disputes the fact that human interaction with whatever ecosystem they exist in causes some level of alteration. And by whatever race as well, not just the evil white man. If we as a species are so terrible, do the noble thing and find a sword to fall on. Soon. Now.

    You are a nitwit and an arrogant ass, regularly contributing nothing of substance to any and all discussions. Find the sword Mickey, or go to Oregon where they will “Assist” you with state funds.

    Save the planet.

  41. the killing of 120 rams in the dillon area now has drawn a new line in the sand. the feds removed/ killed one wolf only. this one superwolf took out 18,000 pounds of animals in one night, if we are to beleive only one wolf. or that amounts to 20 pounds for each and every supposed wolf in idaho/ montana. who could possibly not believe that wolves are killing machines, only killing for the sport,. not sustenence
    well now you can be sure that many wolves will be killed,,, legal hunt that is controlled or managed,,,, or not.
    judge molloy is going to become irrelevant soon. populations and conflicts growing geometrically. the killing of wolves is inevitable , legal or not.

  42. Weed nitwit, before I retired, I worked in the woods and ranges of most western states including Ak. I don’t have a problem with Wolf Management or Weed Pullers. I do have a problem with blaming the Wolf for things that humans have screwed up.

  43. Garcia –

    Your ignorance is only surpassed by your arrogance, both of which are negative traits that one hopes have not been passed on into the gene pool. A continued example of such is the reference to “weed pullers”. There is a quantum difference between an individual who chooses to “grub weeds”, a somewhat noble if not generally futile act, versus those engage in vegetation management on large scales. You seemingly have the inability to differentiate between the two, and ridicule both with your sophomoric condescention.

    As usual – pathetic.

    And what, pray tell, was the scope of your responsibilities while you “worked in the woods and ranges of most western states including Ak”, and for which agency or (ha,ha) private enterprise were you employed? “Worked”, you claim. Yes, please share with us the wealth of your field expertise as well as your no doubt stunning academic curriculum vitae so we may all genuflect in unison to your very being.

    “I don’t have a problem with Wolf management” you claim, yet in all your criticisms, including those of Professor Geist, you never mention your credentials to validate your ridicule of his expertise on the matter, nor do you present any well-considered function plan for said “management”. Revisiting the question of invasive weed species, who in any post, or for that matter in the body of the article itself, “blamed wolves” for the introduction and transport of said weeds?

    No one, yet you found yourself arguing a position on a subject you know virtually nothing about. Credibility? None, as usual.

    You’re an “empty suit”, an arrogant fool with a big mouth and a keyboard, no doubt continuing on with your pathetic, self-righteous existence at the full expense of the taxpayer. You are just another in an exponentially growing crowd of creatures who have never produced anything of tangible value during their entire life, another “useless eater” from which no measurable value has ever been derived. You stand there and stupidly wonder why there isn’t a reflection in the mirror when you stand before it, a curiousity that befuddles you because you haven’t the intellectual gravitas to realize that after all those decades of wasted and worthless existence as a parasite, there is nothing there to reflect back.

    You and all like you, are finally killing the host.


  44. You’re hallucinating, weed brain. I never mentioned Professor Geist in any of my comments and I have never worn a suit.

  45. To Garcia and Molloy,

    Maybe you “experts” ought to exchange email addresses and carry out your dialog, or “high markin'” there. Better yet, meet for coffee near the Rocky Mountain Forest & Range Experiment Station in Fort Collins, CO. I know they have a great library and you can do your historical weed and vegetation debate in the presence of some of the nation’s best range scientists there. I see if I can recall Dr. Don Hervey, my CSU gradauate range scientist professor from the grave, and he can moderate.

    And for both of you, lets get back to the here and now. The invasive weeds are here now and they need to be managed. Same with wolves, whose numbers are under-estimated by as much as 25% according to Dr. David Mech, the chief wolf scientist for USFWS. So, think closer to 2,000 -2,500 wolves in the NRM.

  46. Federal Judge Donald Molloy has an opportunity to be equitable and creative in finding a solution to the delisting and harvest issues before him. He could allow the harvests in ID and MT to go forward on an experimental basis. He would retain jurisdiction over the matter pending a closer review of the issues raised by the wolf advocates in the coming court proceedings that get to the claims of lack of genetic exchange, and whether USFWS can designate a Distinct Population Segment, then delist simultaneously. It would seem that not delisting in WY is really a non-issue, since USFWS retains authority over those wolves in absence of an approved WY plan (and no legal harvest is allowed there, plus the protected Yellowstone Park population.

    Such a creative solution allows for the wolf population to be temporarily held static (without control the population would increase about 20% or more) while these legal issues are sorted out. At most, it would only push back the reintroduction efforts by two years. The geographic disbursement to ensure genetic exchange could still continue, for the most part unabated.

    This would seem to be a fair and equitable solution for all sides, for the time being. His decision could be rendered within a year, and then no doubt will be appealed by the losing side. One has to think the judge has been thinking about this as he reads all the paperwork, including the amicus (friend of the court) brief filed by the 150,000 member Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation filed yesterday. RMEF, by the way, has been instrumental in improving and preserving elk habitat which have increased elk populations upon which these wolves are now feeding and will feed in the future. Seems like an organization like this ought to have some influence over the likes of the well funded wolfie muffins based out of Washington DC, and many of whose members don’t even live or recreate in the West.

  47. I don’t have a problem with range, wildlife & weed management in the here & now, but an erroneous understanding of what happened there & then can effect what you do in the here & now.

  48. I read the article again, and want to take issue with Alexander’s (that’s the wolf advocate chap who came out here from Pennsylvania and was interviewed for this article) assertion the introduced wolves are the same as what was here before. They may be the same species (no subspecies difference), but they are likely larger in stature than the ones that were here. Even the wolves in Yellowstone vary in size, based on where they came from in Canada. There is a pack in North Yellowstone that is larger than the others, and are capable of taking down a bison, and frequently do. They are big enough to kill their rivals in adjacent packs, with great success.

    Wolves are like trees, or humans, some are bigger than others and if they breed with like kind bigger individuals of their species they will likely be genetically bigger in the next generation. So, for Alexander, not a biologist, to make such a claim is, well b….s…..! Just like so many claims of the wolf advocates who continue to tell lies, even in court. This time, I hope Judge Molloy calls them on it.

    So, the bs that we hear about these wolves not being bigger is simply not true. Also compare the wolves on Vancouver Island, referenced in the

  49. (continuation of last post)

    ….Also compare the wolves on Vancouver Island, referenced in Valius Geist’s article that someone posted as it appeared in the RMEF Bugle magazine this month. These wolves are in the 60-80 pound range, obviously smaller than those that push the scales at 120 pounds, or more. Bigger also means they need to eat more, so they are on the upper end of the number of elk they kill per year. That range is 8-23 elk/ year. Do the math. Say 100 wolves x 20 elk/year = 2,000 dead elk killed by wolves. That is like adding 10,000 new elk hunters to the woods, if you figure the average success rate at 20%, which is what ID G&F;uses.

    Simple math, yes, but it does serve to illustrate a point. Wolves kill lots of elk!

  50. Sure hope Judge Molloy had a restful night and has a brain healthy breakfast this morning. He will have a very long day, with lots of information and misinformation put to his ear. When the Defenders of Wildlife/Earthjustice lawyers speak, he should stand on his chair with his arm over his head so he can save his watch. The bulls…. is going to get pretty deep in the courtroom.

  51. Thundersockeye: I understand stand replacement fire. But to have that as the management goal across a landscape is not wise. The aboriginals did prescribe burns, annually, and they nor we are perfect, so there were unintended consequences. But, they manipulated a landscape to suit them, to provide for them, to favor what they needed in their lives. It was not a free for all fire deal, and they managed to survive and flourish for thousands of years before the Europeans got here with different technologies.

    Fire use is maybe the oldest technology man still depends on. Only we are so arrogant as to think that only modern university educated scholars have the ability to govern such a deal, and that is where the unfought, free to grow fire issue arrises. We also brought horses which changed the relationship to large ungulates and people, and then guns which made less skilled hunters more effective. Elk were not here in numbers because the burners were gone to disease and the land had grown too much vegetation to support grazers. Wildfire and elk introduction happened across the West, with much of the elk population coming from Yellowstone in cattle cars to waiting habitat. I believe it was 1910 in Oregon, also, at LaGrande, sponsored by the Elks clubs.

    The complexity that must be there for wildlife is not always served by megafires. It will be some time before the Idaho batholith regains its vegetation regimes and will protect ungulates in summer and winter. The issue of critical mass plays an important part in animal populations and their success. The wolf is capable of removing the critical mass that keeps a population viable, habitat or not. That is a problem that many see. The wolf has critical mass, and population losses are not large enough to effectively change their dynamics. They, however, can predate on a population to where that population is no longer viable and keep it that way. Maybe that is what early visitors found in large areas of the West early on with wolves. I do know they were all over livestock from the git-go in Oregon, and on Feb 2, 1843, the few Europeans who were living in the Willamette Valley assembled on their own to address having a taxing body and a government to address community issues, the primary one at the time a need for a person to shoot and trap the wolves and cougars that were decimating their lives stock. “The Wolf Meeting” is the beginning of Government in the Northwest, USA. Some people still have misgivings about that. But a wise people will use the ballot and the judicial to solve their problems, with advice from all sides of the issue. When we can’t do that, the wolf is not the only critter in trouble.

  52. Bairbait,

    You might want to do a little more research on your elk distribution and population history. Elk were widely distributed throughout North America and in fairly large numbers, often in plains habitat as well as timber, until they were either hunted out or destroyed by settlers, because they ate crops in certain areas in the mid 1800’s. In the later 1800’s their numbers were reduced significantly by market hunters like the buffalo, for hides, antlers and sometimes meat. It was after the turn of the century to the late 1930’s or longer that repopulation efforts were undertaken to augment weak population throughout the West.

    The cause for reduced elk population was in large part, over hunting, loss of habitat, and of course those pesky wolves until they were wiped out. Same problems as is developing today. Query what were those 300,000 wolves said to inhabit North America in the 1700’s eating, if it was not elk or deer?

    Bearbait is correct about wolves preying on settler livestock as being the primary catalyst for creating government in Oregon. The “wolf meetings” culminated in 1843 and served as the basis for creating the first provisional government.

    Managed fire and logging both have their place in creating habitat for elk, deer and other wildlife. The problem is, it is temporarily destructive, ugly for aesthetics, and creates opportunities for soil erosion. Fire also has the added consumptive destruction of timber that might otherwise be harvested, and is sometimes not in the place you want it at the right time.

  53. Bearberry always ignores the smoking duff piece of evidence that fire has been an essential part of the ecosystem long before humans began altering it. The evidence being that most native plants in the west have at least some type of fire adaptation in their anatomy and physiology and some have even become fire dependent for their propagation. Some species of brushs’ pitch reaches peak flammability during a few weeks when lightning is likely to strike. Plants with seeds that need the heat of a fire to open or germinate etc.

  54. Elk. I was under the impression that before the advent of European settlers, more Elk were found on the plains than in the high country. It was only after white settlers eliminated millions of native ungulates and replaced them with live stock, did predator numbers became a problem. In any case when you kick the wolf demonizers and romanticizers out of the room,something practical needs to be done. How about some hunting and maybe wolf harassment for fun and profit?

  55. I have to disagree with Alexander. The Bison have been treated FAR worse than the wolves, and have done FAR LESS damage.

  56. Thanks Bearbait. this statement really made me chuckle!!!!
    By bearbait, 8-27-09

    Maybe Obama should put Ed Bangs in charge of the introduction of universal health care.

  57. The number one danger for settlers coming across what is now Iowa was shed elk horns poking into the bellies of the stock pulling wagons. The rest of the team kept going so the animal with the elk antler poking it could not keep it from going into its belly…thus killing this oxen or horse.

    The grass was tall and the driver could not see all these antlers. It is said there were so many antlers the ground would almost be white after fires swept across the prairie. In fact this is how the covered wagons had to keep any team at all…. burn the prairie in front of them.

    There were so many elk in “iowa” the western native tribes would cross the Missouri to hunt these elk. And do you think this landscape was devoid of wolves? No, lots of wolves and lots of elk.

    Thus, those arguments that wolves kill off all the elk is absurd. What does allow wolves to kill off elk is because of the way states manage their elk heads. The herds are considered multiples of individuals, not as multiples of extended families, such as they were pre whiteman. This is where the defenses against wolves lay.

    All “herds” of elk, deer, wild sheep, bison and caribou are dysfunctional today because the family structure is fragmented. All mature males are about gone. these were the ones who set up the perimeter (sometimes 1-2 miles away) around the vulnerable cow-calf herds in the summer. The elk satellite bulls in the fall distracted and confused wolf packs by bugling all around the herds. These males are no longer here. And the males that are left give away the locations of the cow-calves by bugling amounst them.

    It all is very dysfunctional and none of those making wildlife decisions has a clue. They all work with symptoms because they do not know the structure of graziers. Mr. Geist, I am afraid, is no different. He is someone who worked with ungulates all his career and didn’t have a clue. He talks of dogs being attacked, but the dog along side him is dysfunctional. It is not part of a pack and therefore has none of the defenses evolution allowed for them.

    Until the states and federal govt. “science based” biologists forget about being superior species there will be no ecosystem or sustainable based “management. I say this because we need to look no further than what the structure was of any hunter-gatherer based society to see how to manage ungulates. they have the same structure and emotions to make them contain the same needs of survival. Until then there can be no blame put on the wolf for killing off all the man induced dysfunctional deer, elk and caribou.

    As for the 120 domestic sheep the answers as to why it happened are so simple, both for how the dysfunctional pack acted and also how the sheep responded. give those sheep a functional family, domestic or wild, and they develop effective defenses.

    I realize these may seem like “harsh” words to some but that is the way it is.

  58. Bob Jackson,

    I cannot say I have been enlightened by the apparent intricate science of extended elk families defending against wolves. If what you say is true, this behavior of elk should likely be observed in parts of Yellowstone today. I suspect it should also be true in the relatively untouched areas where wolves prey on caribou, or moose. Surely it would have been studied by some academics. Perhaps you could direct readers to any formal documented research in this regard. Fascinating if true.

    Gee, I wonder if Valarius Geist is so dense as to not have theorized about such behavior. He is kind of a renouned authority, with impeccable credentials and peer reviewed work. Were you one of those reviewers, Bob?

    On the other hand, elk bogged down and weakened by deep winter snow, and have little forage because the wolves keep them from it (Dr. Scott Creel cited in recent research) are fair game for wolves, and no defense perimeter is going to help there. Also seems to me most bugling occurs in September – October, which is before wolves begin feeding on elk, which is usually November to April. I am not aware bulls bugle much at all after mating season is over. Can you explain that inconsistency, Mr. Jackson?

    Wolves are going to get their nutritional requirement of elk regardless of how well elk defend themselves, so if it’s not one set of elk its another. Seems pretty simple, and I think most researchers would agree. You got some special training, there Bob?

    Ah, yes and then there are the moose who also suffer in the presence of wolves in WY, MT, ID and Canada. Got an explanation for that one? Wolves get their share of whatever is available. Sometimes attacks are not successful, but enough are that ungulate populations are reduced signficantly in the presence of wolves, whether it is weight loss from harassment and ultimate death, and lower calf survival, or outright attacks on healthy animals in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  59. In the ‘hood, they call all that harassment an indication of a need for more diversity training. It also keeps the cows on the move to the point some don’t get bred in the fall.

    Lots of indications that elk were an animal of the plains, and that white hunting drove them to the mountains. Now the wolves have driven them from the glades and grassy scree to the bluffs and shelves waaaaaaay back up against the peaks in summer, or waaaaaay down into the alfalfa pivots and posted private lands during the rut. Just ungulates looking for some security and rest. Hard on fences (horn hunters in the spring running the bulls to make them jump fences to loosen antlers are hard on fences too), and hard on hay stacks. An elk’s gotta do what an elk has ta do to be there to pass on genes.

  60. Yes, I saw a lot of difference between hunted elk and those core 300 head herds that stay in the Park year round. I saw it for most of thirty years I patrolled yellowstones back country. The herd perimeters were guarded in well infrastructured elk herds. Those elk with dysfunctional problems would pack up like humans of refuge camps. It was easy for outfitters to shoot any bull out of these herds after the wolves came into the SE corner of Yellowstone.

    You see, most wolf packs have to make circuits to be effective against elk herds. It is the element of suprise no different than human hunters use to have better success with their own hunters. Leave a herd alone for a couple of weeks and it is easier to hunt them.

    In my area of yellowstone the packs would come back around about every 7 days. If you have outrigger bulls it is a lot harder to suprise the more vulnerable cow-calf component. todays herds don’t.

    As for peer review, Mr. Geists papers were “judged” by like kind biologists. There were and still are no biologists in place to counter this way of looking at game animals any other than “population densities”. There is some acknowledgement lately of social order but it is so rudimentary science it has yet to put cause and effect together. Science of herd animals today I’d say is at kindergarden level. they know a lot of facts but one might as well put all these favts in a big jar, stir them up and then pick out the pieces to come to conclusions.

    In bison, the “premier” bison expert was Dr. Lott”. He grew up on the Bison range, got his PHD in it and wrote several books on bison behavior. He did not have a clue either…no different than Geist did. I know he doesn’t because how he writes in a previous post in this thread.

    Lots of buffalo hunters and all the Pre Whiteman tribes of the Plains knew how “herds” were constructed, however. some tribes, those with the buffalo herds, would have experts go out in times of need and study how bison social order took care of this need. They then would incorporate this into their own order.

    It is only superiority of humans over all that blinded this knowledge. Since those getting “A’s”, those of the academic community, had the worst case of superiority… because our dysfunctional culture has success seen as individuals then this “perversion” of science is being perpetuated.

    So, no you are not going to find much in academic circles on what proves what I am talking about.

    As for your comments on winter bogged down animals etc. it is the competion between extended families (territories) that decides who is and who (in the plural sense) is going to make it. You are looking at it again from an individualistic view point. One can not do this. One has to look at multiples of systems to understand individual events. the families who solve this dilemna best are the ones not getting “bogged down” in winter..either by location or by infrastructure defenses. You are trying to find answers from a symptom approach.

    Functional elk families would not be kept from forage as Dr. Creel, you say, do.He was studying dysfunctional animals. Thus he needs to limit the scope of what he says he “found”. But of course he does not know how “herds” are structured either…thus he doesn’t make the distinction.

    In functional herds (via historical accounts) one would see up to 300 elk band together (as compared to masses of dysfunctional elk as seen in refuge camps where I patrolled) during the winter. This is the max of interactive recognition for one extended family whether it is humans, elk, elephants or buffalo. One can have multiples of this going across a landscape but their idenity stays singular to that family. They have the infrastructure in place, all the males of different ages (the young scouts out on the perimeters and the mature males in closer to the females …. to make it very difficult for wolves to get through on a suprise or to keep the female component from running to this protection), to counter wolf predation. With this wolves had to weigh heavily if motality within their own infrastructure was worth the risk.

    A fully functioning pack, of course, would have counter measures. The seasoned members would keep the younger “hot heads” in check so they wouldn’t be distracted by the outlying family members, for one.

    It is the balancing game that allowed for large populations of both to be on the Plains of “iowa” as I wrote in the earlier posting. I could get into a lot more but hopefully you see the difference in functioning herds… as compared to what state game and fish agencies use for setting hunting seasons today.

    The only way it would work is the way hunter-gathers did in most of their harvesting. They harvested the whole family. Thus it meant other herd families were left with all their infrastructure in place. Kinda like it would be better to wipe out one of three towns than to bust up the infrastructure of all three. The remaining 2 towns would absorb the resouce of the third in a much more organized way.

    I know you are ready to pounce with, “what about the individual hunting like natives and wolves do?”. Herds and humans place the sick, the misfits the old to the perimeter. My family order bison in Iowa do it and the well infrastructured elk herds of Yellowstone do. Forget just stragglers falling behind. Most of wolf or human hu nting is on the flanks. This is where one sees the “disadvantaged” and these are the ones that get eliminated.

    Yes, the biologists and “scientists” you like to depend on don’t know much. I’d start thinking a bit more independently.

  61. wolf management is needed, but it should be done by people whose main goal isnt the eradication of the entire species from the western states as most ranchers would almost certainly attempt if they were given the opportunity……..

  62. Bob, that 300 core herd of non migrating elk is the Norris Firehole herd and numbered in the 500-700 range for years, it was 108 left in 2007 and with a zero to 4 calf per hundred cows rate is not likely to regain it’s size.

  63. Bob Jackson, you might want to refuter or explain Todd’s claim. Todd, any data (verifiable) on what caused the severe decline, and bleak prospects of recovery?

  64. I tried to find the condensed version to make it easier to wade thru it, but I couldn’t. You will find all of the info in this study.

  65. I am still not sure how this all works out. I am a Highschool student, I have read and understood what is going on in this War. Perhaps not the fine line of it, but enough to determine a side. Does something seem totaly wrong to anyone eles?
    I am not trying to mean any offense to hunters and ranchers, but humans are greedy and gluttons. We have allways rasied and processed too much food, correct? Especially in the United States. We seem to throw out perfectly good food..
    Why do we have to blame the wolves on the ignorance of the humans? Sure, they have done it for years, and that is how many make a profit, but do hunters of Elk and other such have to hunt in mass? Don’t we already use unfair ways of hunting them? The wolf population especially in Yellowstone has kept the Elk population at bay. Many other forms of wildlife have returned. Therefore, shouldn’t we be Thanking the wolves? The beautiful creatures that live amung us and haunt our nightmares for no just reason.
    We temp the wolves. Are they not scavangers themselves? Picking off what they need to survive? A sick and dying prey perhaps? Then the ranchers who build on the wolve’s territory and claim it as their own.. The wolves know no better. They just know to fear that scent which is human. That scent which can get them shot to pieces if they come too close.
    Some Ranchers could argue that they would shoot their best friend.. their best companion if the dog started picking off their livestock. What is so different about the wolves? Your “man’s best friend” is a decendent of these wonderful creatures..
    What is so bad about our wolves?

    So here is my question. Once I leave highschool I want to get into Wolf Conservation (specifically Gray Wolves). Can you help me get started? I want to know where I can go to get more information. I want to know how to save our wolves.
    Thank you.

  66. Kira, why on earth do you consider it greedy & gluttonous to eat? I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I most certainly do not throw away food. If that is a problem at your house you could work on that, but it has nothing to do with the wolves. In fact wolves surplus kill often, expecially if they can get to sheep, the make multiple kills that they leave dead and dying. such as the 122 rams they killed in one pasture last summer.
    Many hunters in this part of the country depend on wild game for their main source of meat. The money they spend on hunting & fishing licences is the main source of money for habitat and management.
    Environmental groups do not use their money for habitat for the most part, they use it to grow their own base and advocate for single species. RMEF does buy habitat and support the elk, the same for the various bird groups.
    Check into schools in your area for wildlife biology training or call your local Game and Fish folks for suggestions. I personally would discourage your entering into single species management, that creates a myriad of problems as we are seeing with the wolf situation.
    Single sepcies wolf management in Yellowstone has destroyed most of the elk herds, and moose. At this point we have no idea of the ultimate impact on bears, either grizzly or black bear. WE do know the wolves are killing each other in territorial fights as the food supply diminishes, and some of them are diseased and dying. Teh elk herd was being touted as 19,000 animals when the wolves were brought in, so far we only have the numbers for the part of that herd wintering north of the park in Montana, which is 2236. Calf survival is so low due to predation that they cannot replace themselves.

  67. Lest we forget that animals fight amongst themselves to keep their OWN numbers down. Not ONLY because of food supply, but also for blood/line dispersal (spillage/breeding) Elk adapt as do most species. The Madison Valley still has thousands upon thousands of Elk. (and wolf presence)(Don’t forget Mountain sheep etc used to be prairie animals until they were forced to relocate)
    Wolves need to relearn respect and hunting/trapping by reputable types is a good management tool. An all out war against a species is when the trouble starts. Level headed thinking (if there is such a thing anymore) needs to be used.

  68. “An all out war against a species” or for that matter for a species should never happen. That completely destroys the balance.
    The Madison River in Yellowstone now has tens of elk during the rut. The single species focus means there is nothing that can be done now except to wait until the lack of elk eliminates enough wolves to bring it into balance. And I am talking about Yellowstone itself now. Ranchers and states outside of Yellowstone must have the ability to maintain some control.
    I think we should all just have to watch the mess inside of the park play out, we are seeing the wolf numbers plunge now along with the elk, there are so few elk left that the impact is showing more and more dramatically now. Hopefully enough wolves will die off soon enough to allow some rebound of the elk, otherwise it will take years for them to migrate back from other areas. Perhaps not allowing any intervention will impress folks that single species management is a very bad idea.
    Outside of the park is different, and the states must be given the right to manage the wolves like any other predator and control their numbers to address the well being of ranchers, hunters, and everyone else.

  69. There must be some “critical mass” number with animals, and the wolves can drop elk or other prey species below that, and then populations will be transient and very low. SE Oregon has that happen with an el Nino early green up after a hard, cold spell, and the deer scoured on the new green feed, not having the critters in their gut to digest the new growth in such volume. They predators have not let them rebound. The die off was in 1993. ODFW had doe seasons after that, because they need to sell tags to support their employees. Where we used to have a fair chance of shooting a 30″ mule deer buck, an 18″ two year old is the rare one you will see if you even see that. Where a thousand deer would winter on the chicken sage flats, now you don’t see ten. The only food for a wolf pack in that area is cattle or the remanent little sheep bunches wistful ranchers keep. The bighorns have been devastated by cougars. Coyotes claim 90% or more of the pronghorn fawns each spring. And deer are just not there anymore due to predation and now, with no browsing for almost 20 years, failing food supplies. The deer population is now what it was reported to be in the middle of the 19th century. Few and far between. A friend once told me a story his grandfather had told him about seeing a deer track in the snow, and reporting it to his father, who set out and tracked it for three days before he bagged it. Mid winter survival meat for a desert homesteading family.

    I have heard that there are now some contracts with hound hunters to take a certain number of cougars in each of the big game units in SE Oregon. The game managers did that with one unit where elk recruitment had dropped below 5%, and they treed cougars hot and heavy for a winter, lethally removing a preordained number. Two years later, the elk calf recruitment was in the 40% range, and the elk demographic was returning to normal. The same will have to happen with wolves if there is to be a big game population that is huntable, and that economy to be preserved.

    The big issue in the West, is that all the public lands have to contribute to the local and state economies, or there will never be any economic recovery for those states, and that areas of those states with high public lands ratios. Public land is a welfare state, not unlike some big cities became. When the workers paying taxes no longer are enough to support those who are not working, not paying taxes, the whole deal falls apart like Detroit, Gary, Akron, the whole of the Rust Belt, and to a large extent, the big cities. Non-working land is the same burden, and the ability of the US Govt or state governments to manage game, to keep access and recreation use levels, falls short if only due to those lands having no means to support themselves, except by taxing “rich” people and companies, who also have the burden to support that third of the US humans who cannot support themselves. Money and taxes area a finite resource, too, and one that should be husbanded with care. I don’t see that in the USA, and I fully expect public lands to further deteriorate, along with their public support. An urban population will take care of itself first. Far at the bottom of discretionary spending will be public lands and game management issues. Oregon has gotten over $4Billion in the last 10 years to build light rail that passenger fees still do not pay 20% of the cost to operate the system. That other 80% is paid by an employer payroll tax. US Taxpayers finance the physical structure. Both the employers and the Feds are less flush than they were, and now we see cuts in bus routes that feed the light rail, and we see fewer light rail trips scheduled, as the traction agency has to reduce its offerings and employers contributions are fewer due to high unemployment. Wildlife management is on the same track. Protection enforcement will wane as well, because many fewer animals to be taken means many fewer licenses, tags, and trip dollars spent. Wolves literally, along with other uncontrolled predators, take jobs and money out of the economy. Lots of it. Not an issue in an urban area until a cougar is seen on a school yard, or the deer become an urban nuisance due to the security living in town brings, due to less predator pressure. And then that becomes an economic issue.

    Wolves and the political will to manage them will determine their fate. The wolves can’t help themselves. And humans will only allow them to exist until they cost too much money to maintain at present population levels.

  70. Part of the problem is and alaways will be a refusal to admit a mistake and the planting of so many wolves was a huge one. Unfortunately as things get worse and worse, those in charge bull up and refuse to release any info. Teh numbers of the Montana part of the northern elk herd of 2236 was discussed when the Montana G&F;was forced to eliminate the last 100 of the late hunt permits. A couple of new groups covered that and published the numbers, at the same time higher ups are insisting they haven’t counted and aren’t going to.
    NPS has been dragging their feet at counting, not enough snow, too much snow, bad weather, etc. Supposedly they are counting now, but time will tell and of course the accuracy will be a question as they try to put a good face on things.

  71. Don’t tell me about “single species management”. Have you seen those feedlots they have for elk??? They simply set out a banquet of food for all the elk and let the animals gorge themselves – and all for the sake of hunters who want to got out and capture “wild game”!

    It’s just downright pathetic how humans manipulate the wilderness to presumably “maintain it” – what a pack of lies!

  72. Now that wolves are high in number here in Idaho we need to manage them through methods like hunting. However, they should not be eradicated nor 100% preserved. The key is Responciable, informed, and readily available season sets. btw check the reports only 6/23 or so zones are below elk population goals…