Wolves regulated by the States?

Post your warm-blooded air-breathing vertebrates!

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
Curtis Hart
Posts: 595
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan

Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Curtis Hart »

From what I've heard, this is a more sided topic than abortion. I'm curious, mostly from the antiwolf people, what your stance is. I would consider myself middle ground on this subject. I don't want wolves extripated, but don't mind some hunting. I consider myself open to both sides.

I realize this is a polarized topic. I want to hear both sides, so I can adjust my opinion accordingly.


Dell, Reptilist, as people who are on the mammal forum, and are from States that are deciding that now, I particularly want to hear from you.



Curtis

User avatar
PNWHerper
Posts: 667
Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Location: King County, WA

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by PNWHerper »

I am curious how many people have worked with or been part of wolf studies??

I have strong opinions about wolves, but since you asked to hear mostly from anti-wolf people I will keep to myself for now. ;)

User avatar
Curtis Hart
Posts: 595
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Curtis Hart »

I'm guessing anti-wolf opinions could be hard to come by on this forum, so go ahead with any opinion.



Curtis

User avatar
Dell Despain
Posts: 542
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Dell Despain »

Curtis Hart wrote: I would consider myself middle ground on this subject. I don't want wolves extripated, but don't mind some hunting. I consider myself open to both sides.
I'm with you Curtis, I enjoy having the opportunity to possibly see a wolf in the wild, and have seen two, one backpacking in YNP, and I'll never forget it. But I have a number of hunting, and ranching friends, and get to hear their side of the coin, wholly shit, they'll make you wish you never brought it up. (Your manhood is often questioned in these arguments.)
It's a polarizing subject around here. And if some anti-wolf folks get in on this thread, watch out, this thread will blow up.
Sounds like fun. :)

When I have more time I'll see if I can add something worth while to the thread.

-Dell

User avatar
Andy Avram
Posts: 897
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Location: NE Ohio

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Andy Avram »

I agree with Curtis on having a place for wolves and not minding some hunting.

What I find interesting, in planning a trip to Europe this year I noticed that both wolves and brown bear survive in parts of Europe, including countries which have had LONG human settlement, such as Italy, Greece, etc... How are those people and apex predators able to co-exist, whereas in the US both those species were rapidly pushed back into deep wilderness?

Interesting subject though, and it will be neat to hear what others have to say.

Andy

User avatar
Dell Despain
Posts: 542
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Dell Despain »

[url]ttp://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/reference/montanaChallenge/vignettes/wolf.html[/url]
Okay, if you have the interest and time you can read through the above link.

Montana does have a bag limit in place to hunt wolves, which is broken down across the state into zones, and each zone has it's own bag limit number it can reach. Most of the limits seem low to me, but that opinion is debatable. A lot of the zones didn't reach quota, and some were given an extension to the season.

A couple of friends I talked to, one being a elk and deer outfitter, and the other a cattle rancher and elk hunter had a number of points to make.
The outfitter who hasn't had a wolf siting on the property he hunts, was frank enough to say that before wolves came on the scene, elk would stay in one area of their fall and winter grounds and were easier to find and hunt. Now that wolves have moved into some of those areas the elk don't stay in one area as long, hence making the hunting harder.
He did believe that wolves have taken down the number of elk in some areas, and that if he found wolves on his property he'd want them eradicated as soon as possible.

The cattle rancher, who has a biology degree, has had wolves on his property but hasn't lost any cattle to wolf predation, but said he hates the idea of being force fed, by the government, to accept wolves.
He knows ranchers who have lost cattle to wolves, and have gotten paid for the lost cattle, but that they have also not gotten paid for cattle that have been lost to wolves too. He also said that these same ranchers have lost cattle to coyote, and cougar, and resent having another predator to contend with.

One other friend who hunts elk told me that he has 4 or 5 private ranches he can hunt elk on, and that every rancher, to a man, told him if he see's a wolf on their property to shoot it, permit or no permit.

Curtis, I don't know if this is the kind of information you're looking for, but it's some of the reasons why this topic is such a hot button issue.

I'm not saying much more, the rancher lets me hunt his property for multistrata anytime I want, and I don't want him getting wind of where I stand on this subject. :| I become a good listener.

-Dell

User avatar
Curtis Hart
Posts: 595
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Curtis Hart »

Dell Despain wrote: I'm not saying much more, the rancher lets me hunt his property for multistrata anytime I want, and I don't want him getting wind of where I stand on this subject.
This is what I'm interested in. I've read through much of link you posted and understand why some people don't want wolves about, but I just don't get why it is so emotional. It's fact that your opinion could cause problems for you. I'll continue reading.


Curtis

User avatar
herpseeker1978
Posts: 1138
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:05 am
Location: Albuquerque

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by herpseeker1978 »

Curtis Hart wrote:
Dell Despain wrote: I'm not saying much more, the rancher lets me hunt his property for multistrata anytime I want, and I don't want him getting wind of where I stand on this subject.
This is what I'm interested in. I've read through much of link you posted and understand why some people don't want wolves about, but I just don't get why it is so emotional. It's fact that your opinion could cause problems for you. I'll continue reading.


Curtis
It is so emotional because the wolves are going against their livelihood. This is how they make a living. Sure, right now they are paying them for cattle that can be PROVEN to have been killed by wolves. But what about down the line? What if you can't prove it was wolves even though you saw it? I used to live in Ashton, ID. The people get upset because people who don't live there are telling them that they have to have wolves live in their backyard. How many people in New York City would approve of releasing wolves into central park? They were native there after all. People don't like being told what to do, let alone by people who live hundreds of miles away. I really think education is the way to go. Educate people about these animals and they will want to save them. Don't force people to do things because they will just resist it solely to resist it.

Josh

User avatar
Dell Despain
Posts: 542
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Dell Despain »

Curtis, I've gotta agree with Josh in his above statements. But these two statements really get to the core question you're asking.
herpseeker1978 wrote:It is so emotional because the wolves are going against their livelihood.
herpseeker1978 wrote: People don't like being told what to do, let alone by people who live hundreds of miles away.
-Dell

User avatar
PNWHerper
Posts: 667
Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Location: King County, WA

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by PNWHerper »

I'm guessing anti-wolf opinions could be hard to come by on this forum, so go ahead with any opinion.
Okay, I will let 'er rip, then. ;) :lol:

Wolves are such an intense issue here in the States. Its a bit weird in a way, when you think about where the attitude against wolves originated from (Europe) and look at how European countries which still have healthy wolf populations are managing wolves.

Wolves are not devouring all available livestock and game. After centuries of wolf presence in places like Romania, Poland, western Russia the land is not denuded of game or livestock. Quite the contrary. If you don't count Russia, European wolf populations numbers are estimated to be between 18,000 and 25,000. That is WAY more than in all the lower 48 United States put together.

In those countries, wolves are treated as game animals. There are no crazed helicopter mass hunts like in Alaska. Wolves are generally seen as just another animal in the forest. There are even wolves living on the fringes of the capitol city of Romania.

I agree that the anti-wolf attitude is based in large part on what Curtis said and Dell echoed:
Curtis, I've gotta agree with Josh in his above statements. But these two statements really get to the core question you're asking.
herpseeker1978 wrote:
It is so emotional because the wolves are going against their livelihood.

herpseeker1978 wrote:
People don't like being told what to do, let alone by people who live hundreds of miles away.
How much livestock do wolves kill each year in different states if not really clear. Wolves are not the only predators of cattle and sheep. If you are talking hard science, its difficult to pull out the real numbers. Even ranch dogs will sometimes kill sheep and goats. I am not saying this to excuse away the fact that wolf predation on livestock, because it does occur, but I think it is dangerous to look at this situation from the emotional standpoint only.

I have had the privilege of spending time with wild wolves, both in Yellowstone and in Central Idaho. I have even had some close encounters, which I will honestly admit have been some of the high lights of my outdoor adventures in the Rockies. :thumb:

Image

I think that wild game "disappearing" because of wolves is in part a matter of perception. When a hunter who has been hunting the same mountains all his life (as his father before him, and so on) notices that elk have become scarce since wolves have comeback, the assumption is that wolves are killing so many elk that there are far fewer than there once were. The population "appears" to be in great decline according to this kind of anecdotal observation. The bit that is often not considered is how wolves change the behavior of big game such as elk.

Consider this... in many of the places were wolves are now returning, they have been extinct for 80 - 100 years. That is many generations of elk that have been without the hunting pressure of wolves. They got comfortable being more in the open, as they was no large canine to hunt them. Coyotes can't cut it. A 35 lb coyote stands almost no chance against even a small adult elk cow at 400 lbs. Cougars hunt by ambush, which requires cover. Being solitary, they hunt less frequently than wolves. Grizzlies hunt the calves in spring, but don't really pursue adult elk as they are too fast and more dangerous to the bear.

With the return of wolves, the "ecology of fear" returns to the land, and elk can no longer spend practically all of their time in the valleys and big meadows grazing like domestic cattle. Wolves keep elk moving, and keep them more wary of predation. This is not necessarily a good thing for hunters who are use to bagging elk in the same ways and locations they always have.

So, do wolves effect elk populations? Yes. But, as with any predator-prey relationship were the animals have evolved together... the predators follow the population growth and decline of the prey. They don't force it to decline severely. That is not evolutionarily sound. This is one of those basic rules of ecology that I rarely hear brought up during heated pro/anti-wolf arguments.

Image

Ignorance is found on both sides of this heated topic. I think the best way to form an intelligent opinion on wolves, is to go and do some serious research. And I would include encountering wild wolves as part of that education. Talking to enraged ranchers or crazed environmentalists is not really the best source of facts...

I think the more people spend time actually watching wild wolves, and less time talking about how they feel about them, the better. Its easy to idolize them or loath them at a distance. When you come down to it, they are just animals like the rest of us. Beautiful, charismatic predators that were once the 2nd most wide spread mammal on the planet... after homo sapiens...

When wolves return to being a regular part of our landscape, all this hype will be history.

User avatar
PNWHerper
Posts: 667
Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Location: King County, WA

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by PNWHerper »

Found an interesting scientific paper on wolf management in Belarus. There is some good stuff in there about perception of wolves, effects of wolves on game population and interactions with livestock and humans. Read it, if you have time:

http://www.lcie.org/Docs/Regions/Baltic ... elarus.pdf

There are a lot more papers like this one available out there.

User avatar
Dell Despain
Posts: 542
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Dell Despain »

PNWHerper: That lone wolf photo is bad ass. I can't remember seeing a truer representation of a wild wolf, please tell me you took that photo. And where.

I have no argument with anything you've pointed out, only agreeing with you. This quote deserves to be high lighted.
PNWHerper wrote: the predators follow the population growth and decline of the prey. They don't force it to decline severely. That is not evolutionarily sound.
PNWHerper wrote:Wolves keep elk moving, and keep them more wary of predation. This is not necessarily a good thing for hunters who are use to bagging elk in the same ways and locations they always have.
Basically what my Elk and Deer Outfitter was saying, and why he didn't want Wolves on the property he works and hunts.

The Belarus paper is fascinating and I've already sent it on to a few friends and anti-wolve friends, so we can argue about it later. :beer:

-Dell

User avatar
PNWHerper
Posts: 667
Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Location: King County, WA

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by PNWHerper »

Dell,

Thanks for replying to what I shared. :beer: I am glad you liked what I said, as I was a little worried I would soon hear some angry retorts!
PNWHerper: That lone wolf photo is bad ass. I can't remember seeing a truer representation of a wild wolf, please tell me you took that photo. And where.
Yes. That was the alpha female of the Druid Peak Pack in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone. That pack is one of the most thoroughly documented packs in recent history. Much of their drama can be read about or even watch on DVD and VHS.

The second photo is also mine and taken that same day, of some of the other pack mates feeding on an elk kill.

At another time, I had another really neet experience with a wild wolf. This one was far from the any well beatin' track...

I was part of a back country expedition to central Idaho, with a group of teenagers. Were were out learning natural history and the group I was co-leading at the time had a very close and intimate encounter with a wolf. It was a large black adult animal. This photo is a copyrighted image from one of the teens on that trip. She was the only one who had her camera ready when we encountered it. There rest of us were kinda in shock... Its not a great pic, but its the only one we have of that amazing moment.

Image

Though I have encountered wild wolves at close range several times, this was the closest and most intimate meeting by far. This animal had observed us at a distance of about 40 feet. The flickering moment of its ear caught my eye and I had to restrain myself with all my might not to jump up shouting and point. I whispered loudly to the group, then the wolf showed itself and looked us over. Finally, it trotted off into the forest and disappeared. It had clearly been curious about what these humans were doing exploring its packs territory. We never felt any sense of danger or fear. Just a sense of curiosity.

Those teens had there lives touched by wildness in that moment, and I guarantee they will never forget that encounter!
Basically what my Elk and Deer Outfitter was saying, and why he didn't want Wolves on the property he works and hunts.
That is interesting to hear. I think in the long run, wolves will make for healthier and better elk. But, in the short term I can understand why some hunters get frustrated. I am also a hunter and fisherman.

Still, personally, I love having wolves on the land. We now have 4 (5 if you include the one near Twisp that was severely poached) in WA state where I live. Opinions on them are mixed, and the state has already put a limit on the number of packs that will be allowed to persist in the state. The have capped it at 15 packs. That is not very many, considering how many millions of acres of wilderness and national forest lands there are in WA state. Yellowstone National Park currently has 10 packs living within its borders.
The Belarus paper is fascinating and I've already sent it on to a few friends and anti-wolve friends, so we can argue about it later.
That is cool! I am glad that what I shared was useful and interesting to you.

VICtort
Posts: 689
Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Location: AZ.

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by VICtort »

This may be the only civil and thus far not outageously biased discussion I have ever seen/heard in re: wolves in the USA. PNW did a great job of synthesizing a lot of opinion, but much of it boils down to the hyperbolic emotions of two extremist i.e wolf haters and wolf lovers... I have friends who have hunted elk for years in Idaho. They say (I can not verify) the elk are a whole different animal now, they claim bulls are reluctant to respond to bugling, (the theory being the bulls bugle much less for fear of attracting hunting wolves). They claim the elk spend a whole lot of time in dense pine forests, unavailable to shooting, as they are seeking refuge from hunters and especially wolves... I have been sent garrish internet photos of elk calves allegedly ripped from pregnant cow elk pre-birth...and the photos showed the cows left uneaten. I have no way to verify, but the point is some folks believe this to be an unacceptable event and they blame wolves for the loss of guided hunting opportunities, declining elk herds etc. Their perception is their reality... I know this is a topic I would not bring up in some western drinking holes, as any opinion expressed would quite likely be seen as a challenge and one would quickly be launched off said bar stool...

I see no reason why wolves should not be subject to the principles of wild life managment, that they could be harvested in a controlled manner and taken on a sustained yield basis similar to other successfully managed species. However, I also know various ranchers who are of the shoot, shovel and shut-up school, and despite pleas to educate, their culturally biased viewed of wolves is so negative I think unlikley they will ever see anthing good about wolves, (not unlike some folks who would kill any snake they see?) Until folks quit the emotionally based responses to percieved threats, it will remain difficult to achieve intelligent science based management. One of Californias' Fish & Game commissioners is now under pressure to resign because he lawfully hunted cougar in Idaho, and the antihunting hyperbolic faction here wants him to resign...emotion trumps facts and logic typically...? A lawful act they find unacceptable, and politicians willing to jump in the fray and go with whatever way the political winds shall blow... That is real interesting about the European/Eurasian populations, I am pleasantly surprised to hear there are in fact viable populations remaining, I will read it with interest.

I have to commend you mammal thread participants, we have covered some very controversial topics and not yet degenerated to the name calling and dysfunction so common to the herp threads...Well done!
Vic

User avatar
Dell Despain
Posts: 542
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Dell Despain »

VICtort wrote:I see no reason why wolves should not be subject to the principles of wild life managment, that they could be harvested in a controlled manner and taken on a sustained yield basis similar to other successfully managed species.
Yeah I agree, and there is a management bag limit in place in most states with wolves present. The number of wolves in Montana increased by at least 87 last year despite the state's efforts to reduce the population with an extended hunting season.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Wednesday (yesterday) that 653 wolves were counted at the end of the year, a population increase of about 15 percent from 2010.
FWP had authorized a quota of 220 wolves in the first hunt since Congress passed legislation last year removing endangered species protections for the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains except for Wyoming.
The agency had aimed to reduce the population to 425 animals with the hunting season. But only 75% of the quota was filled.
VICtort wrote: One of Californias' Fish & Game commissioners is now under pressure to resign because he lawfully hunted cougar in Idaho, and the antihunting hyperbolic faction here wants him to resign
I've been following this, and I'm completely flummoxed as to why he has anti-hunting fractions jumping his ass. I think he should tell them he is not resigning. Make them remove him.
VICtort wrote:Their perception is their reality... I know this is a topic I would not bring up in some western drinking holes,
Well said, their perception is their reality, and some of those bars are best avoided.

-Dell

User avatar
PNWHerper
Posts: 667
Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Location: King County, WA

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by PNWHerper »

I did some telemetry on Red Wolves down in NC.
Awesome, John. That is quite a privilege. I noticed you have chosen not to give any opinion here. Care to share some of your experience with the red wolf telemetry work?

User avatar
Rags
Posts: 384
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 11:30 am
Location: U.K.

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Rags »

Interesting thread.

Coincidentally BBC has just screened a two-part prime time programme here in the UK - "The Land of The Lost Wolves" - by camerman Gordon Buchanan. It covers this subject and has sparked a lot of debate here.

User avatar
Chris Smith
Posts: 2296
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:13 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by Chris Smith »

As a biologist that works for a state with one of the largest wolf populations (albeit I am a small game / non-game biologist, not large mammal bio), I think that transferring management power to the states is LONG overdue.

People often forget that the Endangered Species Act was meant to serve as an "emergency room" for wildlife facing extinction. Species listed on the ESA by USFWS are required to have a "Recover Plan" drafted after listing that clearly states goals that need to be met to de-list the species (or distinct population segment) in question. Wolves in many areas met those criteria several years ago... The USFWS has tried repeatedly to de-list the wolf and turn their management over to the states. Unfortunately, several groups have brought legal action against the USFWS to block the de-listing process. It is worth noting that these groups often have good intentions, but simply do not understand the biological and political processes involved (and actually prevent the listing of species in greater need). De-listing does NOT mean a species is "home-free". Often species need to be kept on state endangered and threatened species list for years to come (which is how the whole thing is supposed to work).

That said, research does suggest that wolf populations can handle harvest, even significant harvest in some cases. For more information see:

Mech LD. 2010. Considerations for developing wolf harvesting regulations in the contiguous United States. The Journal of Wildlife Management 74: 1421-1424.

For those without journal access, feel free to PM me to request the paper. For those that do not know, Dr. Mech is one of the leading wolf biologists in the world (and has been working with them for decades).

-Chris

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Wolves regulated by the States?

Post by muskiemagnet »

all right, i'm here. wisconsin. right next door to chris. lots of wolves. had a long conversation with a friend on this very subject while driving yesterday to a timber den (got 5).

we started talking about hunting, which led into a "hunter" conversation. hunters in todays day and age, are not woodsman. they hunt for bragging rights not food. hunters piss and moan that the wolves are killing all their deer. what they fail to realize is that they have grown up with over population of white-tails. this is the norm to them. they do not have a clue regarding ecological history. yes, wolves kill deer. because of the lack of wolves for so long as well as timber management practices, deer populations exploded. now that wolves are back, they have a lot of food. wolf populations are going to do very well because of this. it will take time to balance out. unfortunately people want everything right now. i don't believe any of the "old" knowledge. expansive roadless areas are the regulating factors in wolf populations. that's what i learned in college. BS they will adapt in order to survive. we have populations in areas that are fragmented by a hundred miles from the north woods. they will do just fine. could the wolf population use a thinning? yes. the science coming out of yellowstone right now is astounding. twenty-five years in the making proves that it just takes time. the ecological balances taking place there blow my mind. streamside soil conditions, riparian areas repairing themselves, cooler water/deeper channels for the trout, willows growing back and feeding an increasing beaver population(wolves preferred food by the way), less elk, more pronghorns. one thing caused all of this. an apex predator. we need wolves. this is where we have to educate hunters. in my opinion, we should adapt to the environment, and not the other way around. the fight that continues is the state managing for money. this will always create imbalances. too many deer brings more revenue. i get that. too many deer over-brows the white cedar. we will lose this forest type eventually. too many deer keeps moose from re-establishing themselves here. it's bad news for the environment. wolves will help this fight. it will take time. keep one thing in mind. the education will take time as well. twenty -five years of lower-than-normal deer populations will eventually be the norm. maybe hunters will gain a respect for the environment when it actually becomes "hard work" to get that trophy. maybe the days of woodsmen are not gone forever.

long winded. sorry.

-ben

Post Reply