Wolves and moose in Jackson Hole Wyoming

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

  1. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Wolves's numbers need to be managed. The DNRs in my opinion do a good job of managing wild life when left to their own devices. We as Sportsmen need to get their ear as often and as strongly as the antis do. I can only speak for certain about the Michigan DNR. I receive regular updates from them on their concerns and proposed actions. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) along with DNR personnel hosts forums throughout the State on order to give everyone the opportunity to be heard. Wildlife studies often take several years so that all factors can be properly assessed. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.
     

  2. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    A couple of quick comments before I go jump in the ocean ;)
    I am not at all “against” wolves, as a general statement. Aside from being part of nature and an integral part of the ecosystem, just like grizzly bear they bring back an element of the wild country that has been missing.
    From a purely selfish standpoint I love the time I spend hunting them even if I am not successful.
    I would rather have wolves and grizzly bear than not.
    The problem I have is that wolves and grizzlies are just a tool being used to further an agenda. If the ecoterrorists were not contrlloing the management through the courts and ballot initiatives and letting the managers manage, I don’t think this would be nearly such a contentious and divisive issue.
    Refer back to lion and elephant. Idahoans (Wyomingites, etc) who live daily with wolves and grizzly have been regarded much the same as africans living with lion and ele. People from afar dictating how things should be while living in their artificial utopia. Americans and Europeans in the case of africa... you get the drill.
    With different circumstances I believe wolves would be generally regarded as just another predator and game animal. This was never part of the plan or agenda.
    Interesting discussion and I loook forward to continuing it with you all.
     

  3. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    IdaRam you are correct, Easterners like myself, have not walked a mile in your boots, and I for one do not pretend to know what is actually causing the loss or lack of moose. However it took a number of years to determine that is was the loss of cutthroat trout, not the predators in the Yellowstone that had the greatest effect on the reduction in elk numbers. Something similar may be afoot as regards the Moose in your area. What has the DNR had to say about the apparent reduction in Moose numbers?
     

  4. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    In case I have come off otherwise, I feel wolves are no different than any other predator and in the modern world we have created, it is necessary to manage them through hunting. What I don't believe in, is vilifying any species that is doing what nature intended, in its natural habitat. In Maine we have coyotes, which although not wolves, are some of the largest, most aggressive coyotes in the country, with 70-80lbs being common enough to not be a surprise- the reason for this being they are actually an ancient hybrid of red wolves and western coyotes as shown by scientific studies in the last decade. They kill a lot of deer in the winter and everyone acts like they should be wiped out. While I have no love for them and shoot one here or there as need be, I don't hate them for being a part of nature, nor do I purposely try to wipe them out.
     
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  5. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    Where I would differ with you is that I am old enough to remember when there were no coyotes in Eastern Canada, and very few in Maine. Then 40 years ago or so they started showing up and they were huge as you say. IMO, these hybrids are not historically part of the ecosystem and I for one would be in favor of exterminating them. Interesting side note, a pack of these ‘coyotes’ actually attacked and killed a woman running on a trail in Cape Breton Island a few years back.
     
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  6. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    Yes that was during the natural down swing of the population as I mentioned previously, but they were always there. And yes they attacked a woman, I had them try to lure my dog into the woods to kill him in the winter years ago. As stated I have no love for them and I thinned that pack out. None of this is a reason for extermination, simply cull out the ones that are currently the problem. I suppose if another country invaded us and you chose to fight for the right to live, you would be totally understanding of them trying to exterminate you, based on your stated opinion?
     
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  7. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    I don’t know your area well but I’m fairly confident that your statements are not accurate as regards the maritimes. Coyotes, or whatever these hybrids are, are non native and first showed up in the late ‘70s / early 80’s. Would I exterminate a non native species causing damage? You bet! No different than shooting feral hogs imo.
     

  8. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I have a number of issues with wolves. I like to elk hunt and due to wolf pressure one of my favorite places now has almost no elk. I will concede that wolves are not the only problem. Bears and drought have impacted them. Legal hunting takes some too. It all adds up. What it boils down to is EACH elk a bear or wolf eats is one less a legal hunter can potentially kill.
    One of my real beefs is that I hate being lied to. We were originally given a number of wolves (I don't remember it) that was needed before hunting them would be allowed. That number has long been passed with no hunting. Wyoming now allows hunting. Regulated with far too few killed. I understand that because of the concern about lawsuits that caution has to be exercised. Still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
    Another part that is ridiculous is the costs to the states. The Feds insisted on bringing them in. Crammed it down our throats. Now our state Fish and Game spends a huge portion of its budget in "wolf management ". I'll guarantee you there are lots better places where that money could be used. You can argue all you want about the other points, but those 2 items are pretty solid facts.
    Bruce
     
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  9. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    Totally agree Bruce. I was living in Wyoming when the wolves were reintroduced. What a sham! The State of Wyoming actually had a bill on the floor to put a bounty on wolves on state land. The feds forced them to drop it. We should release a pack in Central Park and see how these crazies like them in their back yard.
     
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  10. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Actually theres little balance in nature. That’s a fairy tale. Nature booms and busts. Good times populations climb, and in drought many of most die. Disease can deplete an entire population. No balance there. Except when we enter the picture and manage them. Nature never captured an exotic species and dropped it into a foreign habitat like the US did with the giant arctic wolves they dropped into Yellowstone.
     
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  11. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    As humans we have a natural tendency to pin a particular observation on a single cause and thereby oversimplifying the issue. I try not to do this and I have no doubt that various factors come into play. I also understand Bruce's issue with flat out being lied to. I lived in Idaho when the wolf reintroduction was starting. Some IDFG people flat out said that was indeed a lie. Please keep in mind that while things may have changed since I left my favorite state, at the time I did, the entire IDFG budget as I understood was paid for by anglers and hunters.

    On the face I don't have an issue with having wolves. I do have issue with predator management there.

    From a study done in Idaho:
    Wolves and cougars show a strong preference for elk calves while human hunters generally select elk in the three- to nine-year old range.

    Both wolves and cougars preferred elk calves, 52 percent of kills by cougars and 58 percent calves by wolves.

    https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/predator-survey-updated

    I think this another worthy read:
    https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/mule-deer-study-increased-predator-harvest-effects-mixed
    This one focuses on coyotes. A study was done and completed in Idaho in the years I lived there. For some reason at that time despite showing lower coyote populations/higher deer populations and vice versa, IDFG at the time said they couldn't draw any conclusions. I asked one of IDFG's finest about this at a DU function about that. I literally got yelled at for simply asking the question. I was stunned and couldn't help but wonder what they were trying to hide.

    Again it's worth noting the other factors that I'm sure come into play. But I think it stands to reason that if there are more predators, there is likely to be less prey.


    Anecdotes some would say........a somewhat polite way that some use to say essentially your full of crap. Oh well, been there and heard that in the harsh winters of 92/93 and 93/94 when it was pretty easy to see the die in mule deer and pronghorn. But IDFG wasn't interested in such anecdotes.

    Ah well I'll share a couple of my anecdotes. Idaho used to have a jackrabbit explosion about every 7 years from what I understood. From what I was told when it occurred it was like the ground was moving. Jacks love alfalfa hay. Not far from Idaho Falls is an area known as Mud Lake. It produces an extremely high quality of hay that gets sold at least as far as California. I would be surprised if further. Well the Jacks could take down an amazing amount of hay in a single day and it obviously a significant adverse economic impact on the farmers. As such the farmers would organize drives of the Jacks into pens and club the buggers to death. Shooting that many would be unsafe and certainly expensive. You can read about it here:

    https://www.idahopress.com/news/sta...cle_f513a070-8cec-55ca-8ee2-f9a13a2e57fa.html

    Funny thing as I said, there hasn't been anymore jackrabbit explosions. Fact is for me, I remember only ever seeing one jackrabbit there. The one thing that would help bring the population back down was the coyotes would thrive with all this food available to them. That is until the rabbit population dropped back down and the coyote population would too.

    So why did the cycle end? As I was told the farmers in an effort to avoid the bad press started to poison the rabbits. Makes sense to me as again I only ever saw a single jack in the years I lived there.

    But what about the coyotes, now there rabbit source of food was gone. And as we know, coyotes adapt. They didn't go away. So what did they turn to as a substitute? Well I can't say for sure, but I do know this about the time that sage grouse started to die off. Can I say that was due to the coyotes? No, I can't. All I can say is those birds became so thin, I gave up hunting them. And, maybe this is one reason why coyotes seem to also have turned on the mulies.

    Next anecdote, moose. I honestly cannot remember all of the encounters I had with moose during the years I lived in Idaho. From in the mountains and down into the low areas around my fishing holes. Been chased away by an angry mother when I stumbled upon her and her calf. About had one come through the windshield of my truck one night. Still another decided I know longer needed to continue fishing on one of my favorite spots on the Shoshone-Bannock reservation. I even had one bull I about considered a pet. For about 3-4 years I'd see him every year during deer season.

    Finally in 2001, my last year in Idaho, I applied and on my first try drew a moose tag with a friend of mine. The night before we started our hunt, a very funny sounding group of coyotes started their evening serenade down in the creek that was below our camp. Maybe 200 yards away. I shortly realized I wasn't listening to coyotes, they were wolves howling. I confirmed the next day exactly where they were when I found their tracks in the mud along the creek.

    This was after my friend and I had been successful taking our bulls in the morning. What a hunt that was. We woke up in the morning and there were two big bulls fighting in the pre-dawn darkness. The rut was on and it was going big. We followed a huge herd of moose up the hill once the sun had broke out. I had never such a large herd of moose. Cows everywhere being harassed by both trophy and younger bulls. If you've never heard a cow moose calling in the rut, it's almost comical. Funny thing was I never saw even what I'd call two year olds (really year and a half old animals) much less yearlings. Not a single one in all of those moose. Coincidence wolves the night before, no young moose the next? Hmmmmm.

    And this was at a time that the moose population was considered getting too large in that area. In future years there were units opened to more cow moose tags including an opportunity for those who had killed a moose in the past to apply. Prior to then, a moose tag that was filled was a once in a lifetime experience.

    What does all of this ramblings mean? I don't know for sure, except to say we hunters and our F&G experts do have a way at times of screwing things up.
     
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  12. ack

    ack AH Enthusiast

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    Wolves don't do much to control bison as the goody boy rangers have killed about 400 this year out of app. 700 they need to take down ! Idiots could have sold licenses for those instead of us paying for them..
     
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  13. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    The funny thing is, THAT IS nature's balance. One species booms while another declines to a certain point then it starts to reverse and go the opposite way. Nature's balance is taxation of resources. No species stays at a high population for long in order to not over use the land. Sure we can manage it, but when we mismanage, pollute, destroy and encroach, nature can't work it's magic. It's things like saying every animal a wolf (or other predator) kills is one less a hunter can take is why hunting is looking worse and worse to the general public and facing the issues we do today. Sure there are nut jobs who would always say all hunting is bad, but stuff like that just adds fuel to the fire. The arrogance of some of you is simply astonishing
     
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  14. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    @Shootist43 you ask a very simple and straight forward question. If I had a simple and straight forward answer I would sure as heck be happy to provide it :) I will do my best to at least give some insight I think is accurate.
    A short? dissertation on Idaho may be in order. We tend to think of states as a whole. For example, Nevada is a desert, Florida is a swamp, Colorado is mountains, etc. True in some cases and quite inaccurate in others.
    There are moose from the Canadian border to the Nevada border in Idaho. North to south we have broken things up into regions something like this. Panhandle, Clearwater, Central/Salmon, Southwest, Southern, Southeast. That is not entirely correct but is a good illustration.
    Every Region is different and the moose populations face different challenges in each one. So any info given by DNR must pertain to a specific region or specific populations of animals.
    Additionally, wolves are a hot button political topic. Internal to Fish and Game, wolves are a hot button issue. Regional Conservation Officers may have differing opinions from those of the Biologists. Employees of IDF&G may like their job and want to keep it. Stepping in Political dog shit by making controversial statements or contradicting someone in the agemcy is not healthy for ones career, etc.
    All of these things and more may come into play.
    Another challenge in providing real data and a solid position on wolves is the amount of wilderness we have in central Idaho. We have the largest Wilderness area in the lower 48 smack dab in the middle if Idaho. 1.3 million acres called the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Adjoining it, we have the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and the Gospel Hump Wilderness. All of these areas are extremely rugged and inaccessible. Obviously there is no motorized vehicle travel allowed in these areas. Consequently there is no way to monitor wolf populations accurately in an area larger than many states. Additionally, we have a whole pile of National Forest land that is quite remote and rugged as well.
    Different techniques and metrics are used in studying moose population and wolf populations. Harvest statistics play a significant role in assessing moose populations. Also, vehicle mortality is another metric used in quantifying the moose population in certain specific areas. Not so much with wolves. Estimations are as good as it gets.
    Bottom line, different populations of moose, elk and deer have different environmental factors affecting mortality. Wolves are more of a factor in some areas than others. I believe IDF&G information and position supports that assertion.
    The moose populations jeff and I have referred to are in the central part of the state.
    Some of the factors that influence my opinion, and it is just that, an opinion unless there is data I have not seen. We have moose populations in the Panhandle and Clearwater Regions that are gradually declining due to factors other than wolves, although wolves do contribute in some way even if it were just 1 moose calf per year, which it is not.
    In units 12, 17, 21, 21a, 20, 20a, 26, 27 and possibly others I am not as familiar with, moose populations did not decline, they crashed. Followed by precipitous declines in elk populations in the same units. This coincided precisely with what can only be referred to as explosive growth of wolf populations. From 35 in 1995 & 1996 to indeterminate number today. On the topic of how many wolves exist in Idaho today there is much debate and no concensus amongst the groups on both sides if the issue. Here is what we do know. In round numbers there are between 250-350 wolves taken by hunters and trappers annually in Idaho. If that were 25% of the total wolf population that equates to approximately 1200 wolves. I would suggest that is an absolute minimum number and the true number is probably between 2000 and 3000 wolves.
    Dropping back a bit, if there had been responsible and sound wolf management beginning around 2003 would we be where we are today? I dunno. And that begs another question. Are wolves manageable? How do you control the wolf population with the tools we have available to us? Not controlling the population is NOT management.
    Self regulation of predator to prey ratios is a fallacy, plain and simple. Left to nature populations are cyclic. Peak and crash. Is that what we want? Regardless if that is what we want or not, we are so far beyond it that there is no going back. Long before man started building his homes on the winter range of wildlife the manipulation of animal populations by man was an integral part of the ecosystem. We manage (manipulate) bear, mountain lion and bobcat populations. We manage deer, elk and moose populations. We manage snow goose and pintail duck populations. And that is just in North America. The idea that we should just step away and let nature take over is a social experiment, slash agenda foisted upon society by a group with a goal in mind. And it is not an agenda with the interest of wildlife at heart.
    Sportsmen have carried the burden of funding wildlife management for many decades. We have paid our dues so to speak. We have proven time and again we are willing to pony up millions and even billions of dollars over time for the long term conservation of habitat and wildlife. We have been the sole funding source in many instances for the agencies that look out for these long term interests. Not just for ourselves as sportsmen, but for everyone. It is kind of like building a park in your neighborhood and having drug dealers and addicts move in and then having the city council say, well they need a place to live too! Not a great analogy, I know! The point is, we as sportsmen have paid the freight to build something Great. Something special. A place where everyone across the country and around the world had an opportunity to experience the most amazing deer and elk hunting imaginable or to hike, fish, camp and see amazing wildlife. It no longer exists. Seriously. It no longer exists. Anyone who had the priviledge and good furtune to hunt elk in the Clearwater, the Salmon, the Selway up through the mid-nineties will tell you the same thing. Today is nothing like what it was yesterday.
    Selfish? Maybe. But it really isn’t about the wolves when you get right down to it. We can control the wolves. They were eradicated once. They could be controlled and have a place in nature and I for one would be overjoyed. But society in its infinite wisdom will not allow management of the wokf with the effective means necessary. So we have what we have. And more to come. Stay tuned for what is happening in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Oregon...
    With an already existing predator load of mountain lion, coyote, black bear, increasing grizzly populations and much needed hunts being stopped by lawyers and activist judges, where will things end up?
    And just for kicks, how many deer, elk and moose will 2500 wolves (in Idaho) eat per year? That is, in addition to the ones being eaten by the other predators. Somewhere between 30,000 - 50,000? From a strictly economic point of view, how equitable is that?
     
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  15. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    IdaRam, thank you for your detailed reply. The next question is, what can be done about it? DNR "experiments" have gone awry before and corrective actions were taken. One thing for sure, it is going to take facts to make them see what is going on. Re. the Isle Royal situation the Moose and Wolf population have been stable for almost a hundred years with no human intervention whatsoever. That is the type of information Wildlife Biologists and the DNR is going to rely on. Contrary to some of the thoughts expressed on this thread, the island presents a somewhat "closed" Eco-system and thereby is the perfect thing to study. The results obtained in "a perfect world" from a Biologist's point of view are going to be hard to refute. Does the IDF&G conduct and publish hunter surveys as well as the annual harvest by hunters? If so, what is the comparison between "now" and the "pre-wolf" era. Has the "carrying capacity" of the various hunting districts ever been estimated or determined? Why were the wolves reintroduced in the first place?

    I am a hunter just like most of the guys on AH. IMHO it is only with facts that we have a chance at defeating and or undoing what the antis win and or accomplish with emotion. There are more of them than there are of us, so we need to work smarter not harder. Like you, I wish we had a simple concrete answer.
     
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  16. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Just to play Devils advocate, what if we eradicated all wolves in an area. And see if the wildlife populations would improve? We have released them and game numbers crashed and biologists have mentioned everything but wolves as the cause.

    I do think there are other factors for the declining populations, such as ticks, drought, etc, but to think throwing an Alex predator into the mix isnt having an impact is a bit silly.

    I dont have any first hand experience or data to provide but IMO the wolves issue is not about conservation but a political battle to slowly take away the opportunity for hunters. It is the perfect example for antis to say hunters dont care about conservation (we dont want wolves) while also taking tags away from hunters (see Idaho moose).
     
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  17. Jeff Schaeffer

    Jeff Schaeffer AH Veteran

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    Show me your data that predators take significant numbers of healthy animals in their prime. Those teams watched the wolves, and made their way in after every kill. In every case there was direct anatomical evidence of disease, malnutrition, or injury. One of the stories is that they thought their record had been broken by an apparently healthy elk, but one of the team members found a badly damaged foot that was not visible. Science is observation, and to say it is slanted is simply not correct. It is insulting to fisheries and wildlife professionals to hear those sorts of comments. There is slanting, but it mostly comes from the current administration' s penchant for suppressing science that does not support what they want to do.

    Jeff
     
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  18. Jeff Schaeffer

    Jeff Schaeffer AH Veteran

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    Because domestic livestock are bred to be heavy and slow. The key word is domestic.

    Jeff
     

  19. Jeff Schaeffer

    Jeff Schaeffer AH Veteran

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    Deer plummeted recently throughout the midwest, in places with and without wolves. In Michigan, it was a a series of hard winters and disease.

    Jeff
     

  20. Jeff Schaeffer

    Jeff Schaeffer AH Veteran

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    Here is the thing about science: it is true whether you believe it or not. You do make a point that is supported by data and that is that young animals are also vulnerable to predation. But in the stud I cited there were few elk calves due to drought so the wolves consumed aged cows.

    Jeff
     

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