Phantom Hill Wolf Killed….Idaho Count Goes Up to 29

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Phantom Hill wolf killed

29 wolves shot in Idaho this season

Express Staff Writer

A member of the Phantom Hill wolf pack pauses for a rest in the central Wood River Valley last winter. Photo by Courtesy photo

A female member of the Phantom Hill wolf pack was killed Monday, the first wolf to be shot in the Wood River Valley since hunting opened in the region on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer Lee Garwood confirmed that the kill occurred in the Eagle Creek drainage, north of Ketchum. He said the wolf, which had been collared for tracking purposes, was about 2 years old. Garwood said a second wolf may have been close to the female when it was shot.

“There’s at least nine or 10 wolves remaining in the Phantom Hill pack,” he said. “It’s difficult to say exactly, as we didn’t see them in a group the last time we flew over the area.”

The wolf was the second killed in the state’s Southern Mountains wolf zone, which includes the Wood River Valley and extends east across the Pioneer, White Knob, Lost River, Lemhi and Beaverhead mountain ranges to the Montana border. Ten wolves can be killed in that zone.

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Ed Mitchell said the first wolf killed in the zone was shot in Unit 51, northeast of Mackay, which is over Trail Creek Summit northeast of Sun Valley. Mitchell said he did not believe that that wolf was part of the Phantom Hill pack due to the distance from the pack’s usual territory in the Wood River Valley.

The Phantom Hill pack became well known to the public last winter when it traveled near residential neighborhoods.

To date, 28 wolves have been killed in Idaho this season, with a high of seven taken in the Sawtooth Zone, north of the Wood River Valley. The state quota is 220, plus another 35 that can be killed by the Nez Perce Tribe.

In Montana, where wolf hunting opened Sept. 15, 11 wolves have been killed. The state’s quota has been set at 77.

Mitchell said the recent spike in the number of wolves killed, which jumped from 15 for all of September to almost double that in the span of a week, was due to the fact that two-thirds of the 12 zones opened last Thursday.

Mitchell said he expected the numbers to jump again once other big-game hunts open. He said that although the dates vary among hunting zones across the state, deer season opens in most areas Oct. 10 and elk season on Oct. 15.

“The only surprise would be if we don’t see a spike when these hunters get into the field,” Mitchell said.

Wolf advocate and Stanley resident Lynne Stone decried the Phantom Hill pack shooting, saying few older wolves are left in that pack, especially after the alpha male was killed by a car in June. Stone said the pack could have trouble if it’s mostly made up of pups and yearlings.

“It’s sad because it was the pack we were using for education,” she said.

Stone said she saw another wolf near Eagle Creek on Monday and shot in the air to scare it farther away from state Highway 75.

The wolf hunt in Idaho started earlier this year after the federal government removed the state’s wolves from the federal endangered species list.

Jon Duval:

Categories posted in: Idaho wolf hunt, Let wolves live in peace, gray wolf 

Tags: Idaho wolf hunt,  wolf intolerance

Elk Numbers Skyrocketing

bull elk

October 6, 2009

According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, elk are flourishing.  Just exactly how good is it?

“The elk population in the Northern Rockies has skyrocketed in the last twenty-five years, notwithstanding the reintroduction of wolves in the mid-1990s.  Wyoming’s elk population has grown 35%, Idaho’s has grown 5%, and Montana’s a whopping 66%.” 

Those are amazing numbers yet hunters continue to complain wolves are decimating  elk.  So why all the whining from hunters?  Is it kabuki theater to bolster wolf hating dogma? Is it due to elk changing their browsing behavior,  making them  harder to hunt because of dispersal by wolves?  It’s probably a mix of  both but  it’s a specious argument that wolves  must be  “managed”  because of ungulate declines.

Montana and Idaho hunters do your homework!!  There are 105, 000 and 166,00 elk in the two states combined, they may be harder to find but they’re out there.

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There is one hunter talking truth about elk.  He shot the first wolf killed in northern Montana, so I can’t say I’m fond of the guy but having a hunter admit the truth about elk is something to note.

“Do wolves affect elk?  Absolutely.  But in my opinion, the story of the wolves going into a basin and decimating the elk herd just isn’t true.”…..Dan Pettit

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Honesty From A Wolf Hunter About Wolves And Elk

Matt Skoglund

Wildlife Advocate, Livingston, Montana

Posted September 23, 2009

wolf and elk

In an article about the first wolf killed by a hunter in northern Montana, the hunter that killed the wolf, Dan Pettit, offers some surprisingly candid commentary on wolves and elk in the Northern Rockies.

One of the most common — and most erroneous — gripes from the anti-wolf community is that wolves have annihilated the elk population in the Northern Rockies.

When asked about wolves and elk, Pettit gave an honest answer:

“Do wolves affect elk?  Absolutely.  But in my opinion, the story of the wolves going into a basin and decimating the elk herd just isn’t true.”

Pettit is right, the “wolves have decimated all the elk” argument isn’t true, and it’s encouraging to hear a wolf hunter admit that.

What are the facts?  According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which is certainly not a wolf-loving organization, the elk population in the Northern Rockies has skyrocketed in the last twenty-five years, notwithstanding the reintroduction of wolves in the mid-1990s.  Wyoming’s elk population has grown 35%, Idaho’s has grown 5%, and Montana’s a whopping 66%.

So, how have wolves affected elk?  Simple:  the presence of wolves on the landscape has made elk act more like . . . well, ummm . . . elk.

When wolves, a native predator to the Northern Rockies, were eradicated from this region in the 1930s, elk lost their primary predator and stopped behaving like wild elk.  They became less cautious and over browsed streamside vegetation, which negatively affected beavers, songbirds, and coldwater fish species like trout.

The reintroduction of wolves has been an ecological boon to the Northern Rockies.  So much so, in fact, that scientists hope to restore wolves to other ecosystems for purely ecological reasons — chief among them the ecological devastation caused by overbrowsing elk.  An article about the need to restore wolves to Olympic National Park in Washington noted:

Most famously, [two ecologists] showed that within three years after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and elk populations fell, pockets of trees and shrubs began rebounding.  Beavers returned, coyote numbers dropped and habitat flourished for fish and birds.

It was an “explosive” discovery, said David Graber, regional chief scientist for the National Park Service.  “The whole ecosystem re-sorted itself after those wolf populations got large enough.”

The elk population in the Northern Rockies is strong — stronger than it was a quarter century ago — but elk use the landscape differently with wolves present — they use it in a more natural, ecologically friendly way.

And that means hunters have to hunt elk differently.  They need to cover more ground and move around the landscape more.  In essence, they need to hunt.

Pettit admitted that, too:

Wolves, he said, surely have changed the way deer and elk act in the wilds, and that’s changing the ways hunters must hunt.

Sure, hunters need to hunt differently nowadays, but the elk are still here, they’re here in great numbers, and hunters can still find them, as evidenced by Petit’s recent trip into the backcountry:

“But in that same small basin, on the same morning we saw the eight wolves, we also saw seven cow elk.  Right there in the same little drainage with the wolves.

The very next day, in fact, one of his hunting partners shot a five-point bull elk in the same area.

NRDC and other groups fought hard to stop the premature wolf hunts from proceeding, and it’s difficult to read about Pettit or any other hunter killing a wolf.

But it’s refreshing to see a wolf hunter finally talk straight about wolves in the heated debate over how they should be managed.  I hope others take notice.


Photos: Wiki

Categories posted in: biodiversity,  gray wolf

Tags: elk flourishing among wolves, gray wolf, wolf intolerance

39 Dead Wolves…….Idaho Hunt 28, Montana Hunt 11

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Deaths from the wolf hunts are rising. There’s not much to say except to point the accusatory finger at Ken Salazar for allowing wolf haters to take take aim at one of the most persecuted animals on the planet.   I can’t express my disappointment enough to President Obama.  It’s obvious he selected Salazar to appease ranchers and hunters, in a completely misguided move.
Speaking of anti-wolf sentiment.  I remember attending a hearing on the Road-less Initiative back in the late nineties.  Many people came  to speak on the record in favor of  it BUT in the back of the room were a small group of very angry people, shouting down folks at the podium.  Apparently they didn’t like the Road-less Rule but instead of  engaging in civil behavior they decided to disrupt the meeting.  I’ve witnessed the same anger over and over when wolves are discussed, it’s palpable and disturbing.  I fear for the wolves, that some of the same like minded people, who carry deep resentments against wolves, who think the only good predator is a dead predator, are now hunting them.  So sad.
“Throughout the centuries we have projected on to the wolf the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.”
~ Barry Lopez


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Wolves in the Crossfire, Again 
Louisa Willcox’s Blog

Senior Wildlife Advocate, Livingston, Montana

Posted June 5, 2009 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

 On Monday, June 1st, the Billings Gazette published a piece I wrote on the problems of prematurely removing endangered species protections from Northern Rockies gray wolves.  I shouldn’t have been surprised at the number of comments (28 total) posted in response, but I was, I admit, taken aback at the hateful, even threatening, nature of many of them.  Here are some of the choicest:

James June 1, 2009 7:46AM MT

Louisa, you have the mistaken impression we want a wolf recovery program, we will continue to shoot these varmints at every opportunity and we don’t care what you think about it.

River Rat June 1, 2009 9:14AM MT

Tough. Let ’em die off if there aren’t enough. We already have too many…

DamSkippy June 1, 2009 2:09PM MT

SSS, Shoot, Shovel, and Shutup. This is the farmers and ranchers plans for control if government fails to do it for them. Trust me, Montana is vast and game wardens are few and they do not patrol private property. A rancher seeing a wolf crossing his property will not hesitate for a second to administer an anesthetic in the form of a 30-06 pill. Just something for you foam at the mouth enviro’s to chew on.

Dave Skinner June 1, 2009 3:07PM MT

…As for concrete actions, the best would be to implement shoot on sight. Trust me, the survivors would be healthy.

River Rat June 1, 2009 4:05PM MT

After reading these posts, I want to take a minute to thank Defenders of Wildlife for making me proud of America again! All the SS&Sers are coming out of the woodwork! It’s the Boston Tea Party all over again! The Founding Fathers would be proud to know we’re tellin’ the gummint to put it “where the monkey put the peanut.” God bless America!

 So here we go again-these irrational, even pathological, eruptions about wolves are as far removed from a civil discourse as you can get.  It would be easy to dismiss the rantings of a few vocal ruffians who advocate for nothing short of the elimination of wolves from the landscape altogether.  But in this case, these angry people are organized, armed and hell-bent on expressing their misplaced anger with bullets. 

 Last year, some of them stalked wolves on the elk feedgrounds in Wyoming and gunned down, among others, the famous Druid wolf Limpy.  And, in Idaho, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual wolf report, 100 wolves were killed illegally.  Those are the ones the government knew about.  But given the nature of the “shoot, shovel and shut up” culture, how many wolves were really killed?  The number could be far greater, potentially explaining in part why, last year, the wolf population grew at the slowest rate in the history of Northern Rockies wolf recovery.  (Another reason could be that disease wiped out a number of the pups.)

Adding fuel to the fire is a recently passed law allowing people to carry guns in national parks.  This law was attached to the credit relief bill, by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).  It could result in more poaching of wolves, grizzly bears and other wildlife in a huge landscape (Yellowstone, for example, is 2.1 million acres), and where law enforcement in the backcountry is sparse.

There is still enough deep-seated hatred of wolves (and the federal government and conservationists) among well-armed people to make this a truly dangerous situation.  In a democracy, laws matter, and, in this case, they are necessary to protect wolves against excessive killing.  That’s why we are back in court challenging the delisting decision. 

 In the West, the “shoot, shovel and shut up” mentality is never far away.  Veiled or direct threats of violence permeate the policy processes.  Go to some of the state game commission meetings or hearings on the proposed hunts, and you can feel the daggers in some of the bullies’ eyes.  It can be downright intimidating.  It is also the antithesis of a fair and democratic process.  Wolf management continues to reflect the tyranny of a well-armed minority that reflect the values of yesteryear.

 What we have in the West with wolves today is mounting frustration on all sides, exacerbated by the anonymity provided by the Internet, which is further inflaming the debate.  Another contributing factor to this growing frustration over wolves is the complete failure of the government to provide for a constructive dialogue among diverse parties in the hopes of resolving conflicts.  Instead, key government officials fan the flames with wisecracks in the press

 Government leadership is sorely needed to bring all parties to the table in some new creative ways to help us honestly discuss our differences, and explore new solutions based on areas of common interest. For this to work, curse words and disrespectful behavior need to be left at the door.

 Until then, we will be in court, and wolves will be in the crossfire, again.

wolf photo courtesy:×768/Evening-Howl-1024×768.html

Catagories posted in: Idaho wolf hunt, Montana wolf hunt, wolf  Wars

Tags:  gray wolf, wolf intolerance

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Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 12:14 am  Comments (2)  
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