Wolves and moose in Jackson Hole Wyoming

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by gillettehunter, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Wolves have pretty much removed the moose out of the Selway units and unit 21 and 21a here in the the Salmon area!
     
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  2. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    Over the same time period, here in Maine we have experienced a major decline in moose population, we have no wolves. It is ticks, believe it or not that are causing them to die. Seriously doubt the entire issue there is solely the wolves
     

  3. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Yeah, talk to Dick Wenger about wolves in the Selway. I think he’s still living in Salmon?
     

  4. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Yes, no doubt about the ticks. We experience some of the same problem, especially in our Panhandle moose populations. The ticks seem more pervasive there. And those population declines are primarily not related to wolves.
    In fact, as a general statement, across the northern US and southern Canada moose populations are in decline due to a number of factors. Ticks themselves being one of the factors and tick born illness being another. I have seen moose literally covered with ticks and not much hair left.
    Change in climate is also a contributing factor. As a remnant of the last ice age, moose are much better equipped to handle frigid temperatures and deep snow than warmer temps and milder winters.
    In the case of the moose populations in the more central part of the state, such as the Selway, Frank Church, etc it is in fact the wolves that have eradicated them. Not ticks and disease.
    Yes, people like to blame wolves for everything. As if they are the only force in nature. And much of the time there is a lot more to it, so I understand your skepticism Albert.
    One thing to understand in this instance though is that in the case of our moose populations, up until 2012 numbers were increasing in the Panhandle and then in 2013 numbers started to decrease slightly but have been decreasing more rapidly until the present. This has largely been due to ticks, like you mentioned. The Panhandle and Clearwated moose numbers were in the thousands. A very robust population.
    The localised moose populations in the more central part of the state were significantly smaller. Nothing like northern Idaho or Maine. Dozens, not hundreds or thousands. The habitat doesn’t support them in those numbers.
    The genetic strain of wolves that was introduced to Idaho was ideally suited to moose predation and the impact was almost immediate in these smaller moose populations. The moose were the first to go.
    As a comparison and another interesting case study, in 1995 the Elk City elk population was estimated at about 30,000. By contrast, the moose population in that area was more like 500. Today the Elk City Zone elk population is less than 7,000 which is a 75% decrease. A herd of 30,000 can withstand a 75% decrease and remain viable. Much more difficult for a population of 500. There just weren’t enough moose claves being produced and surviving, especially when they were the food source of choice.
    The wolves found an abundantly stocked larder and reproduced at a maximum rate. There was no hunting of wolves allowed for 15 years after introduction even though target objectives were reached by 2001.
    And I think that is one of the key points in the discussion. The predator/prey relationship was completely upset and there were no tools or strategy to keep it in balance. Hunting wolves by traditional means is not a viable tool to control wolf populations.
    Idahoans feel much like what I imagine bush africans feel like when it comes to Lion or Elephant. Look at the Chobe and Okavango regions for example. The difference being we are not being killed or going without food.
     
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  5. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Yes Dick is still around!
     
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  6. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Unit 63 in Idaho has a significant moose decline and wolves are not a factor there, bio's say it's ticks and other parasites. They told me that a extremely cold winter would help kill off some of the parasites. But in many units the main cause of decline for moose and elk is wolf predation, even the bio's in Yellowstone told me the same thing!
     
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  7. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    You’ve been drinking the liberal kool aid! The facts are that wolves are destroying moose and caribou at an alarming rate. There is nothing left in Yellowstone but bison, bears, and wolves. I was there a few years ago and it is so sad. My childhood memories of Yellowstone and all the game were dashed. You see my friend exotic Artic Wolves were imported by the US government and placed into an ecosystem they never belonged in and the results are dramatic. This IS NOT NATURE!
    The one caribou herd in eastern Canada that is nearly gone is a great example. The enviro nuts are scratching their heads and mumbling some crap about global warming but fail to ever look at predators especially wolves as the real issue.
    I am a rancher and hunter and I deal with predators daily. When biologists sit around and only talk habitat and ignore predation I get a little fired up!
    Regards,
    Philip
     
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  8. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    This is kind of hilarious! Lol. How did any of these animals survive the pre-human, animal husbandry era. You are acting like these animals are only on this earth for us to exploit. All these species co existed long before we got out hands into it, and none became seriously overpopulated or faced extinction until we did get involved. There has always been an ebb and flow to animal populations when not meddled with by human kind. Nature always finds a way to maintain balance until we enter the picture. So there are fewer animals to hunt, which means fewer permits and less money to government organizations. Big deal, we all need to stop acting like these animals are here just for us to hunt. It gets tossed around a lot that we hunters were the first conservationists, but then we loudly promote wiping out a species (again) just so we can kill more ourselves. It's all a bit silly.
     
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  9. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I’ll be honest, I liked the days when hunters were the main predator. Who didn’t like seeing a lot of game. It brought people out of the house and into nature to hunt for food. This whole idea of creating a utopia were predators manage the land and we sit back and watch is “pure poop” to say the least. I hate wolf and grizzly mismanagement. I’m not against them being in the wild but I’m against them expanding their population until no game is left. This is great for the anti hunters but bad for true conservationists. I live in the city. I see first hand how anti hunters contribute next to nothing monetarily for wildlife and their votes are very damaging. We were a lot better of as a society when people went to hunt and fish all the time. So many people quit hunting because of dwindling wildlife sightings.
    For the last 30 years plus our forests have been grossly mismanaged by environmentalists. They should be ashamed for all the forest fires they have caused because timber was mismanaged. Hardly any major cutting happens anymore due to frivolous lawsuits in courts.
     

  10. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    Well said Eric !!!
     
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  11. Jeff Schaeffer

    Jeff Schaeffer AH Veteran

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    So, I am a libtard snowflake democratic socialist who happens to go on shooting safaris. The only LSDS (not to be confused with a latter day saint LDS) on the entire forum. I am a research biologist (big science agency), sort of a professor (adjunct, big research university) and I work on a bunch of ecological stuff with grad students and junior scientists. I have not seen the moose data, but I HAVE seen the Yellowstone wolf data. Northern wolves are larger than southern wolves due to Bergman's Rule (google it), but it is not like they introduced the dire wolves from Game of Thrones. They were just wolves. After the reintroduction into YNP, the packs were followed continuously to document every kill made. They ate post-reproductive cow elk, and thus had no effect on elk recruitment. This is one of the few hunting forums whose members would understand that statement, because those are the animals we target. Furthermore, after the wolves left each kill a team necropsied what was left. In every case, without exception, each elk had something wrong with it that had left it weak, malnourished, or sick such that its days were numbered. In contrast elk hunters killed young cow elk that were among the most fertile individuals in the population. Go figure. Now, during the study elk were declining. It turns out that the decline began prior to the wolf reintroduction, and was much more severe than could be accounted for by wolf predation because the decline was huge and wolves were simply rare relative to elk. Turned out that the most parsimonious explanation of timing, trends, and reduced numbers was drought. Dry years? Fewer elk calves. The climate in the area for the past 25 years? Drought. And of course, during those years every outfitter website was mentioning that elk numbers were down due to wolves but hunting was still OK and you should book a trip with us.

    And you know what? The scientists did a good enough job of telling that story to scientists, but they did not start sharing it with hunters until much later. So, many people continued to believe it was wolf predation driving the trend. Now, be forewarned. I expect to be flamed with all sorts of stories, anecdotes, and fiery opinions. Bring it one. My response to all of them will be "show me your data." :)

    I loved the post that cited how Grizzlies have switched from cutts to elk calves. Cutt numbers are down because some knucklehead introduced lake trout into Yellowstone Lake and the lake trout ate most of the native trout. They are now being controlled, but the big cutthroat spawning migrations are down and the bears lost an important food source. It was just like a smaller version of salmon in Alaska, except in headwater streams above Yellowstone Lake.

    And yeah, a fiery topic, but this is the only hunting forum of which I am a member because it is the only one where people actually can have decent ecological discussions.

    Thanks,

    Jeff
     

  12. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    I don't see how a team necropsied very accurately as the wolf kills that I've seen were eaten so extensively that only a few bone pieces and hair were left. I also can't see a predator turning down a meal just because it's not old enough or not sick enough. It sounds like science slanted to what results were desirable, many agency's are under a lot of pressure to get the results they were hired to find . I have a lot more direct experience with cougars than wolves and a surprising number of deer kills by cougars were mature bucks, I think that maybe they are more vulnerable because of their solitary nature in winter.
     
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  13. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I guess I will live in denial. I’m sure wolf take the weak and sick out of the herd.....but they take anything they can too. We have seen the deer in Wisconsin plummet in numbers....believe me a meal is meal. And when you don’t control their numbers the population grows to met the prey they are eating and only then declines possibly because there is not food on the table.

    I have heard the anti hunters in the city all the time....”so you a trophy hunter”. It makes my blood boil very quickly. The next words out of their mouth is “I bet you don’t even eat it!” Yes, hunters do focus on big horned animals. But we are usually not the #1 problem for plummeting populations. It’s a lot of other factors: development for business or homes, crops, no timber or brush management, drought, bad winters or predators out of control. Whenever some mentions hunters are the problem... my first reply is really? Have you looked at the whole picture first?
     
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  14. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    While I will admit that I haven't read the entirety of every response on this thread, I don't believe anyone on here has said that hunters are the problem, I know I didn't. We hunters CAN BE a useful tool to animal populations, however there are more than a few of us out there who, left unchecked by laws and wardens, would be more harmful than the wolves. I'm just pointing out the argument that wolves should never have been put there is makes no sense, since the only reason they had to be REINTRODUCED was because of us to begin with. Yes at some point it will be beneficial to us humans to hunt them to control population, but they will not wipe out any species. I'm just sick of hearing the religious fanatical "the Lord put them there for us to rule over" attitude.
     

  15. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    “I expect to be flamed with all sorts of stories, anecdotes and fiery opinions”

    0CC422EB-398F-4F37-8025-025F89B87145.jpeg


    Breathe, relax, take in the Hawaiian Sunset...
    Aaaah, much better. :ROFLMAO:

    Just trying to lighten the mood :D

    Any time someone starts talking in absolutes when it comes to behavior of animals in the wild and citing studies, researchers, biologists, etc my BS meter is immeditaly pegged.

    Followed continuously
    Document
    every kill made
    Had
    no effect on elk recruitment
    In
    every case
    Without
    exception

    This may very well be the data. Not saying you are incorrect or misrepresenting the data. But seriously? Do you honestly believe this? And do you expect us to?
    How much time have you, yourself, in the Rocky Mountains, spent studying or hunting wolves? Not trying to be a jackass, it is a serious question.
    I am not a biologist. I have no credentials. All I have is my experience and common sense to weigh the data against. Or what is purported to be the “data”.
    I am blessed with the luxury of being able to spend more days afield than most people are probably able to. I am also belssed to live in Idaho and to be able to hunt in God’s country every year for deer (whitetail & muley), elk, bear, mountain lion, turkey, bobcat and yes, wolves. And I do. Fairly seriously as a matter of fact.
    In addition to the fall hunting seasons, I hunt wolves and mountain lion from November through March and average 20-30 days afield in that time period.
    I share that to give you an idea of the time I spend out in the hills on snowmobile, snowshoes and cross country skis, boots, etc hunting and observing.
    Not saying that makes me an expert, it doesn’t. Not saying I know better. I don’t. But it does give me first hand real world experience to weigh peoples info, data and “facts” against and form an educated opinion.

    Here’s what the “data” I have “collected” tells me.

    Wolves kill and eat moose. Wolves kill and eat elk. Wolves kill and eat deer. Wolves also kill and eat rabbits, hares, grouse, turkey and in some cases rodents. Wolves occasionally scavenge. And believe it or not! Wolves take trophies too. :) A pack of four (two very large mature adults and two yearlings) killed a cow elk. The yearlings each packed off a trophy. I spooked them without getting a shot and they dropped their trophies and ran. Lower jaw bones for one and a leg bone for the other.
    Probably means nothing, just kinda interesting.
    Wolves also in some instances negatively effect mountain lion and bear populations.
    Wolves will sometimes bypass a newborn domestic calf and kill a whitetail buck deer. I saw this first hand last year. A calf no more than 3 days old with umbilical cord stub still hanging and 3 full grown cows.
    D3E11B8B-FB35-48EF-8954-A3C8415B80BB.jpeg
    1EE4D12B-9A2F-4184-B925-6B249DDA5F34.jpeg
    C0DD2C2F-3733-45B3-AA5B-F2E50D73F6A6.jpeg

    I have also seen instances where wolves killed domestic sheep and cows when deer and elk were readily available.
    Elk and moose calves are predated upon just as much as mature animals or animals that are sick, weak or old.
    In some areas whitetail deer make up a larger part of a wolves diet than elk. In other areas, just the opposite.
    Where moose are available, wolves will target them just as readily and frequently more so than deer or elk. Moose make a heck of a payload and usually require less effort than elk to catch and kill.
    In much of Idaho, wolves have settled upon a pack size of 3-5 animals as being optimum.
    What was up with that Lamar Valley Super Pack? This IS a loaded question.
    YNP is not necessarily indicative, or the gospel, when it comes to wolf behavior. Much of it, sure. But wolves are extremely intelligent and ultra-highly adaptable predators. To say that just because wolves did this, or behaved in that way in the Yellowstone ecosystem, does not make it so in other ecosystems such as central Idaho.
    So much more to talk about! But it’s bed time and I’m on vacation.
    Mahalo
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2019
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  16. Opposite Pole

    Opposite Pole AH Fanatic

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    This is all very interesting. I know nothing about American wolves’ behaviour but can share information on their habits in Poland which I presume would be representative of the whole region. Presently wolves in Poland are under complete protection and the general consensus is the numbers are getting too high, there are more wolves in Poland today than in entire Scandinavia. Last year confirmed attacks on people have occurred, and the animals no longer have fear of people with numerous attacks on domestic sheep as well as domestic dogs in very close proximity to human settlements (inside a village). Typically a pack consists of 4-6 individuals with Red Deer being main prey. Information I received from a scientist who studies their behaviour is that when it comes to Red Deer wolves will take any animal they happen upon and are not particularly selective, the leftovers of the kills I have found confirm this, though my observations are very limited and cover just one small area. According to said scientist Roe Deer are not a typical target though are occasionally taken-they are too small for a pack to be a worthwhile pursuit. Wolves and Moose interaction is an interesting one. The scientific data for Poland indicates that with Moose wolves really are quite selective and avoid large healthy specimens. One of my hunting areas holds Wolves, Roe and Red deer as well as Moose. I have not seen a single Moose kill but numerous Red, again my observations are very limited and are just that, accidental observations. However they are in consensus with wider scientific data. Another interesting fact I learned is that wolves here are considered rather important from bio diversity perspective as rare birds of pray such as Golden Eagles tend to expand their reach along with wolves. The explanation is that they scavange on leftovers of kills, this is confirmed data I was told.
     
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  17. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    If wolves are selective and only kill the old and the sick why do they kill domestic livestock that are of varied age and are healthy. Food for thought !!
     

  18. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    They don't only kill the old and sick, they primarily target them, but will take what they can get. Either way they are a natural part of that ecosystem and were so long before we wiped them out. Also food for thought
     

  19. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    The eco system has been irrevocably change out west with tens of thousands of miles of roads on public land , grazing on almost all public ground by livestock , the introduction of thousands of feral horses and the removal of bison. Adding wolves won't solve the problem. That said I for one don't want wolves eradicated, just population controlled for multiple use of our Federal lands.
     

  20. jeff

    jeff AH Legend

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    I would add the young also , they target what ever they can get and often its the old, sick, weak and young or what ever else gives them a good chance at a meal.
     

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