Wolves and moose in Jackson Hole Wyoming

jeff

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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
Your fooling yourself if you think that scientific studies can not be flawed or worse , deliberately misleading, think Oregon cascade lynx .
 

IdaRam

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More data to come when I have time. Just climbing into bed after a day of hiking in Volcano N.P. and I’m pooped!
It seems IDF&G believes wolves are killing a lot of elk. Mature cows and calves less than 12 months of age.
Please note this is about 10 years old, around 2009 I believe. I will try to locate more current info from the 2015 study which should be available by now.
https://idfg.idaho.gov/old-web/docs/wolves/articleHowling.pdf
 

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Shootist43

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That article was very interesting and informative. I found one sentence to be particularly disturbing. A statement to the effect that the wolf management was turned over from the IDFG to the Federal Government. Is it possible to reverse that? From the article it sounded like the "locals" had a better grasp on what was / is going on and how to "correctly" handle it. I.E. managed wolf hunting. This whole issue is yet another instance where "politics" not "science" is running the show.
 

gillettehunter

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The turning over of management of wolves to the states was what I was alluding to in taking a significant portion of the WY G@F budget. They are mostly if not fully funded by sportsmans $$.
Bruce
 

IdaRam

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That article was very interesting and informative. I found one sentence to be particularly disturbing. A statement to the effect that the wolf management was turned over from the IDFG to the Federal Government. Is it possible to reverse that? From the article it sounded like the "locals" had a better grasp on what was / is going on and how to "correctly" handle it. I.E. managed wolf hunting. This whole issue is yet another instance where "politics" not "science" is running the show.
Yes, IDF&G is back in charge of wolf management in Idaho. Since 2013? Don’t quote me in that, I would have to verify when that switched back.
This is one of those instances of law suit by wolf advocates, judge shuts down hunting, three years of work and tax payer money spent to get back control.
Remember, this was back in 2009 and I believe we wnt back to legal wolf hunting in 2013 and have had a hunt every year since.
 

IdaRam

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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
@Jeff Schaeffer , the conclusions drawn by Idaho’s biologists do not align terribly well with those you have mentioned. Why do you think that is?
And you have yet to answer my question. How much time have you, yourself, in the Rocky Mountains, spent studying or hunting wolves?


By Craig White, Wildlife Biologist, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
(A few excerpts from the article above)
The Lolo zone in north-central Idaho used to be one of the West’s most popular areas to hunt elk. The Lolo zone is also unique in having one of the West’s most intensively studied elk herds, providing a valuable perspective on the historic and current factors that in-fluence elk populations. Wolves became well established in the Lolo zone from 2003 to 2005. The elk population in 2006 was estimated to be 5,110 (down from 16,054 in 1989). From 2005 to 2008, IDFG documented that wolves removed 20 percent of the cow elk population annually, and survival was down to only 75 percent annually with no cow losses to hunter harvest. Results from previous elk studies in the Lolo zone, before wolves were released in Idaho, indicated annual survival was 89 percent even with hunter harvest. Perhaps even more alarming is that winter calf survival is only 30 to 52 percent in areas with relatively high wolf numbers. This compares to calf survival rates of 71 to 89 percent prior to 2004 when wolf densities were lower. Wolves were responsible for most of the winter mortality of calves 6 to 12 months old. Today’s estimated population level is 2,178 (approximately 88% decrease) and wolves are having an unacceptable impact on elk herds in the Lolo zone.

Fifteen years following wolf reintroduction, our research demonstrates that unmanaged wolves can be a leading cause of elk deaths and have contributed directly to elk declines.

Our research indicated that annual survival rates for cows ranged from a low of 75 percent to a high of 89 percent among the 11 zones. Wolves, or a combination of wolves and mountain lions, were the leading cause of cow elk deaths in five of the 11 zones sampled. All five zones had declining elk populations and moderate to high wolf numbers.

Survival of elk calves 6 to 12 months old was 30 percent in the Sawtooth zone and 52 percent in the Lolo zone. During winter, wolves were the leading cause of elk calf death, killing one-third of the elk calves in those zones. Malnutrition, while not as great a factor as wolf predation, also influenced calf deaths in the Sawtooth zone.
 

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IdaRam, You mentioned that IDF&G now has control of the Wolf Management issue. Has Wolf hunting resumed? If so, has there been any data published about the results? I expect it takes a couple of years to see the whole picture, but at this stage any improvement would be welcomed.

It just "dawned" on me why some folks disregard the Isle Royal findings. There is no hunting allowed on Isle Royal. Nature was / is allowed to take care of itself. Once the desire and expectation of a "normal" Hunting Quota is added to the mix, it is easy to see why the Wolves are considered a "threat" that needs to be dealt with.
 

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There is wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana. It is not for the faint of heart. It’s a tough hunt unless things go right.
 

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I am not a biologist. I'm not pro wolf or anti wolf. I spent 15 years of my life in the Teton Wilderness; the first part was spent working hunting and fishing camps, the second part as a backcountry packer and ranger for the US forest service.

The Teton Wilderness holds the highest grizzly bear, and wolf populations in the lower 48.

I always heard about all of the wolf and grizzly bear studies; along with piles of statistics and numbers the entire time I was up there. You know, "they only take the sick, week, hungry, poor, elk." "They only take 1.23764 elk per month, but splurge and take 2 on their birthday month, but only if the elk are infected with brucellosis, tuberculosis, and black leg."

I never once packed a group back to study wolves or grizzlies, which would have been part of my job. I never even ran into a group studying wolves or grizzly bears. About once a month you would see either the red and white, or the yellow, game and fish plane flying low, but that was about it.

I just always thought it was odd that all of these numbers show up, but the people who make the numbers, never put themselves in a situation where they may have to sleep outside with the predators.
 

IdaRam

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IdaRam, You mentioned that IDF&G now has control of the Wolf Management issue. Has Wolf hunting resumed? If so, has there been any data published about the results? I expect it takes a couple of years to see the whole picture, but at this stage any improvement would be welcomed.

It just "dawned" on me why some folks disregard the Isle Royal findings. There is no hunting allowed on Isle Royal. Nature was / is allowed to take care of itself. Once the desire and expectation of a "normal" Hunting Quota is added to the mix, it is easy to see why the Wolves are considered a "threat" that needs to be dealt with.
@Shootist43 , yes wolf hunting resumed statewide in 2011. Here is some info on wolf harvest below. In addition I believe there was another study underway beginning in 2015 to assess wolf predation on elk, deer and moose. I have not been able to find that info so it may not be compiled and published yet.

https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/wolf/quota
Harvest quotas (limits) were initially used for managing wolf harvest in Idaho to ensure harvest was well-distributed across the state. After 7 years of harvest, it was apparent that harvest quotas were not needed as none had been reached. Consequently, harvest quotas requirements were removed beginning 2017.

Harvest data by year and unit can be found here. Note: there was no hunt in 2010, harvest data is control actions.
https://idfg.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/stats/?season=general&game=wolf&yr=2017
There used to be info available on IDF&G website which showed wolf harvest numbers broken out by hunting and trapping. It does not appear to be available any longer.

Regarding Isle Royale, it may be a large island by some standards, but is actually quite small in terms of canines and undulates. Additionally, it is a very closed ecosystem.

Some info on Isle Royale from Wikipedia:
The island is 45 miles long and 9 miles wide, with an area of 206.73 square miles.
Historically neither moose nor wolves inhabited Isle Royale. Just prior to becoming a national park the largest mammals on Isle Royale were Canadian Lynx and the Boreal woodland caribou. Archeological evidence indicates both of these species were present on Isle Royale for 3,500 years prior to being removed by direct human actions (hunting, trapping, mining, logging, fires and possibly the introduction of invasive species). The last Boreal woodland caribou documented on Isle Royale was in 1925. Though Canadian Lynxwere removed by the 1930s some have periodically crossed the ice bridge from neighboring Ontario, Canada, the most recent being an individual sighting in 1980.Though Lynx are no longer present on the island, their primary prey, snowshoe hares, remain. Before the appearance of wolves, coyotes were also a predator on the island. Coyotes appeared around 1905 and disappeared shortly after wolves arrived in the 1950s. Four wolves were brought from Minnesota in 2018.
The island is well known among ecologists as the site of a long-term study of a predator-prey system, between moose and eastern timber wolves. There is a cyclical relationship between the two animals: as the moose increase in population, so do the wolves. Eventually, the wolves kill too many moose and begin to starve and lower their reproductive rates.

Where to even start? :E Huh:
For example, when wolves in Idaho deplete a food source they have a sigificant number of options at their disposal. Shift to an alternate food source. No more moose, shift to elk. No moose or elk, shift to deer. No moose, elk or deer. Move.
Low populations of moose or elk and deer, supplement the diet with domestic sheep and cattle, and in some areas possibly big horn sheep, hares, grouse, turkey, beaver, etc.
On Isle Royale what options do they have? Two. Starve and reduce reproduction.
There are many other incongruities between Isle Royale and western U.S. wolf populations, yet “researchers” insist on applying data collected on Isle Royale studies and asserting they are applicable to wolves everywhere. This smacks of agenda to me. Obviously data collected on Isle Royale suits there purposes nicely, so use that and all other data be damned.
There is an immense and obvious difference in the management of resources when comparing an isolated area of 207 sq miles and a region of nearly 5000 sq miles encompassing several different climates and diverse topography where wolves move freely at will.
 
 

 

 

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