Wolf Hunt Re-Opens Today in Montana

roping a wolf

Cowboys take in a gray wolf on “Round Up” in Wyoming. 1887 photograph by John Grabill.

Is it the wild west all over again?  Wolf hating fever seems to be on the rise, AGAIN.  Over 25,000 wolf tags were sold in Montana and Idaho  for a chance to kill 295 wolves in the two states.  Those are scary numbers.  Call it trophy hunting, blood lust, a political statement or sticking it to the conservationists,  the wolf has become a political football.  It’s all about who’s in charge in the West, it’s all about control. 

“Approximately 100,000 hunters are expected to spread across public and private lands in the state to go after elk, deer, and the new addition of wolves. As a result local hunting supply stores saw some big lines over the weekend.

Officials say the elk and deer populations in the area remain strong, and there will be plenty of game available to go around.”


Yet hunters continue to repeat the same tired old line, “wolves are killing all the elk”  when that claim has been de-bunked, by none other then the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation, certainly no friend to the wolf. According to the RMEF, elk numbers are higher then they were twenty five years ago, yet you wouldn’t know it by all the complaining.

Likewise rancher’s are  ” crying wolf” stating wolves are killing all their livestock but 2006 figures, from the USDA themselves,  state wolves killed a total of only 4400 cattle nationally compared to DOMESTIC DOGS, which  killed over 21,900 cows and coyotes 97,000Even so, that’s  only a tiny percentage of cattle deaths, 0.18%.

“In comparison, livestock producers lost 3.9 million head of cattle (3.69%) to all sorts of maladies, weather, or theft, respiratory problems, digestive problems, calving, unknown, other, disease, lameness, metabolic problems, poison (USDA, 2006)”


But the same tired rhetoric is repeated over and over.  Also not taken into consideration is the tremendous pressure wolves are under from Wildlife Services, who kill hundreds of gray wolves annually for livestock depredation, even though  wolves kill very few livestock compared to other factors.

It’s time for new voices to be heard.  You would think only ranchers, outfitters and hunters live in the West. They seem to be the only voices that are  listened to, maybe because they’re making the most noise.  It’s time wolf advocates voices are heard.  This statement can’t be repeated enough.

“If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out financed, and out voted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes.” -L. David Mech


Please click on the link below to Defenders of Wildlife’s website, which states:

“Please sign our petition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, urging him to withdraw his flawed delisting rule that prematurely removed vital protections for wolves in the northern Rockies region — before a lasting wolf recovery slips from our grasp.”



Wolves in hunters’ sights as Montana big-game season opens

superior pack

The general big-game season opens in Montana on Sunday and wolves across the state will be one of the species targeted. This adult male is from the Superior pack along the lower Clark Fork River west of Missoula. Photo by Fish, Wildlife and Parks


Categories posted in:  Montana wolf hunt, Idaho wolf hunt, wolf myths, wolf wars, wolves under fire

Tags: Montana wolf hunt, wolf myths, wolf intolerance, ken salazar delists wolves

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I already have and I urge everyone to do so.We need to stop being silent.


    • Great Rita,
      I just really think wolf supporters tend to be quieter and get drowned out by the wolf haters. I ‘ve been to those meetings, I know how it all goes. We need to stand up and be counted!! I hope everyone signs the petition and supports Defenders, they are doing a wonderful job. to help wolves.


  2. Relative to your comments quoting RMEF elk numbers being higher than 25 years ago, you are only using part of the facts. You can make anything appear to support your position when you only use partial information.

    Elk numbers are down substantially in the areas where the wolves have been allowed to flourish. Unfettered and unchecked management of the wolf population is the worst kind of wildlife management possible. We have the most successful wildlife model in the world and it isn’t because we micro-manage one species over another. Our wildlife system is not only about the wolf; it is about all species.

    Goals and criteria were set for the wolf reintroduction and have been substantially surpassed. If those who support the reintroduction of the wolf want a balanced playing field then you will have to begin to stick to what was originally agreed to and stop moving the goal line.

    If folks truly want the “natural process” to manage wildlife, then we all (Man) have to leave. Man put nature out of balance and Man has to manage wildlife or leave this planet. The states have managed our wildlife populations very successfully for decades; we will fail fast if we take this management out of their hands.

    We do not live in a zoo.

    David Allen
    President & CEO


    • Hi David,
      It’s pretty hard to argue with your own numbers. Your organization reported that Idaho has 115, 000 elk, up 5% from 110,000 in 1984 and Montana has 150,000 elk, up 66% from 90,595 in 1984. Then you turn around and say well what we really meant is elk numbers are up in those states but only where there are no wolves. That doesn’t make sense at all. I find it ironic that hunters are so concerned about elk numbers because they want to be the ones to kill them and not the wolf. So really the issue hinges around hunters believing wolves are their competition.

      Conservation Group Celebrates New Data on Milestone Anniversary
      MISSOULA, Mont.—Wild elk populations in 23 states are higher now than 25 years ago when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was launched to help conserve habitat for elk and other wildlife.

      Nationally, elk numbers grew 44 percent, from about 715,000 to over 1,031,000, between 1984 and 2009 (see chart).

      During that same time span, Elk Foundation fundraisers have generated millions of dollars, which helped leverage millions more, for a conservation effort that has enhanced or protected nearly a square mile of habitat per day—now totaling over 5.5 million acres.

      Population highlights among top elk states: California, Nevada and New Mexico experienced the greatest increases with growth exceeding 100 percent. Colorado, Montana and Utah herds are 50-70 percent larger. Oregon and Wyoming are up 20-40 percent.

      So I don’t see a problem with elk, the only problem I see is an irrational fear of wolves. So much of what is written about wolves is untrue and sensational. But what is true, is wolves are healthy for the environment. Look at the Yellowstone example, wolves dispersed elk from stream and river beds, which have brought back the ash and willow trees for the first time in sixty years. Beaver and song birds have moved into these areas following this rejuvenation.

      Yes, elk as you know, have changed their browsing behavior and may be harder to hunt but it seems to me that hunters need to change their tactics to encompass that, instead of complaining about it.

      Congratulations to the RMEF for continuing to help keep elk populations healthy and strong. I would only hope they wouldn’t be caught up in the wolf rhetoric that seems to plague other hunting organizations.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  3. Maybe everyone forgets that the wolf #’s in the west are 3 times what was agreed to in the reintroduction plan. Studies show that teh wolves int ehWest could actually stand a yealry 30% reduction and still maintian their overall #’s There is NO/NONE/NOT a single instance of an animal that is regulated via hunting in the US being erradicated. Hunters are the conservationsists in our society, putting money on the ground to support ALL wildlife. Too bad the wolf lovers don’t actually do the same thing.


    • Hi Brian,
      You stated: “There is NO/NONE/NOT a single instance of an animal that is regulated via hunting in the US being eradicated.” Well the wolf was eradicated from the West, via hunting for over a century, by the feds for the livestock industry. So excuse me if wolf advocates are a little wary and nervous when just months after wolves were “wrongly” delisted in the Northern Rockies by Ken Salazar, a rancher, that we don’t trust “wolf managers” to do the right thing by wolves. Never has there been so much hatred spewed at one species of animal. It is absolutely mind boggling. But when the facts surface, that wolves are not decimating elk and they’re not killing all the livestock (you can search my blog for articles supporting this), if seems to fall on deaf ears.

      Wolves are natural dispersers and if left alone they would re-inhabit their original home range. But hunting them to small fragmented populations, which will result in younger and younger wolves, with many of the older more experienced wolves dead, is not going to do anything but increase confrontations between ranchers and wolves. Research was published on Yellowstone wolf behavior. It found that packs that have at least one large male wolf, do better then packs without them. These wolves may not participate in the chase, younger wolves and females do most of the leg work but the larger males help with the take-down at the end of the hunt. This makes the whole pack more successful. Only in Yellowstone are these older males viewed in any numbers and that’s because the wolf population in Yellowstone is not in the crossfire.. But the minute they step a toe out of the park, most get blown away. So it’s pretty hard for them to disperse to other areas if they are constantly under the gun.

      Our meddling in wildlife has cost us dearly. We’ve decided as humans that we know best and we’ve made a mess of things. Whole ecosystems are collapsing around the world due to the loss of apex predators, like the wolf, shark, bear and mountain lion.

      INMO we need less management not more.


  4. Brain. Who says we don’t?


  5. OK, What I was really trying to get across is that there is not a single instance of an animal that is managed as a huntable big game species in the US that has been hunted to extinction. It is the hunter/ conservationsists in the US that carry the burden of paying for wildlife (In Colorado, ~85% of the Div. of Wildlife’s budget is paid for by hunters/fishermen. If wolves were being hunted, the evidence points to a reduction in conflicts with livestock and man.

    “the minute they step a toe out of the park, most get blown away” You know this isn’t true, but I’m sure it helps with donations to recovery efforts. In wyoming, they are not a game species, so anyone shooting at them is a poacher, not a hunter. The wolves we have here in Colorado and the ones in Utah came out of Yellowstone, so they are not all being shot. In fact, I see wolves in the Gros Ventre east of Jackson, WY every year, and they are outside of the park as well.

    “But when the facts surface, that wolves are not decimating elk” – Maybe you should look at some of the scientific studies (Like USGS or U of MT) posted on http://www.saveelk.org, or maybe one of the excellent article by Valerius Geist or Ed Bangs in the Sept/Oct issue of Bugle Magazine. Have you spent anytime in the Yellowstone backcountry, or in areas of once heavy elk populations, such as the Northern Range? There are significant chunks of land in the Absaroka/Beartooths that are void of elk, but I saw plenty of wolf sign.

    Not all hunters are out to erradicate ALL of the wolves. Just let them be managed like every other big game/predator species. The key to keeping them in the ecosystem is to ensure that they are wild and that could mean controlled hunting.


    • Hi Brian,
      I was just giving you an example of “government management”. A good book to read is Predatory Bureaucracy, The:Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West by Michael Robinson.

      I’ve already quoted the RMEF, that states elk numbers are way up all around the country, not just in Montana. Elk have changed their browsing behavior, they’re moving all the time and gathering in smaller groups. As someone said, they’re acting more like, “ummm elk.”

      Trying to prove or disprove theories is kind of like a trial. The prosecution has experts that support their side and the defense brings in their experts that support their version. We could spend years arguing about elk and wolves. BUT there are some things that are grounded in fact that are indisputable. You can’t change numbers.

      1. The elk population is up 44% from 1984. “Nationally, elk numbers grew 44 percent, from about 715,000 to over 1,031,000, between 1984 and 2009 (see chart).” http://www.rmef.org/NewsandMedia/NewsReleases/2009/ElkPopulations.htm

      2 Wolves kill very few cattle compared to other predators. And predator kills only amount to 0.18% of all cattle deaths. These are USDA figures, I didn’t make them up. They are the latest complete data available, from 2005/2006. We’ll see what the numbers look like when they count again in 2010 Wolves killed 4400 cattle nationally in 2005, domestic dogs killed 21,900 cattle the same year and coyotes killed 97,000 cattle A very, very small percentage of overall cattle mortality. Coyotes paid for this, Wildlife Services wiped out over 696,336 coyotes between 2004 and 2008. AND between 2004-2008 Wildlife Services took out 1456 gray wolves nationally. That is a huge number. So couple that with wolf hunts, wolves are squarely in the crossfire. Pardon me if I don’t have much faith in “wolf management”.

      So again, wolves are not decimating elk, they’re not decimating livestock. Yet they are paying the heaviest price for it. Take the Hog Heaven Pack. There were 27 wolves in that pack, who roamed the Browns Meadow/Hog Heaven area. One of the largest wolf packs ever recorded, with TWO breeding females and 15 puppies. They were wiped out for killing 5 calves AND supposedly 4 llamas and a bull. I’m not even sure the llamas were confirmed, I think it was assumed that they may have done it. First Wildlife Services gunned down eight members of the pack from the air, then on three days in December they wiped out the other nineteen members, including FIFTEEN PUPPIES and TWO BREEDING FEMALES. It was never determined who was doing the killing, just a blanket death sentence for the entire pack. These pups were from April 08 so they would have been six to seven months old, they may not have been old enough to hunt with the pack. It turns out Wildlife Services didn’t even know the pack was that large until they started killing them That’s what I mean, it’s the “wolf is a wolf is a wolf” mentality. These animals have a complicated social structures. They are very family oriented, extremely good parents, the entire pack raises the pups. It matters when they are indiscriminately killed. That’s why I am completely against “wolf management” because they are being managed for the livestock industry and hunting interests.

      Hog Hell…..The Demise of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack

      >>In wyoming, they are not a game species, so anyone shooting at them is a poacher, not a hunter. The wolves we have here in Colorado and the ones in Utah came out of Yellowstone, so they are not all being shot. In fact, I see wolves in the Gros Ventre east of Jackson, WY every year, and they are outside of the park as well<<

      Are you saying you have a wolf population in Colorado because if you do they are few and far between? There was a little wolf that made a thousand mile journey from her home in Montana to Colorado, Wolf 314F but she was found dead 120 miles outside of Denver, under suspicious circumstances. She barely lasted a month in that state. The last confirmed sighting of a wolf in Colorado, before 314F, was in 2004, a male wolf that was killed on a highway near Idaho Springs.

      Concerning Wyoming, you may see wolves outside of Yellowstone but wolf packs in the park routinely cross back and forth across park boundaries. since we all know they can’t read signs. We sadly learned how vulnerable they are with the recent deaths of Yellowstone’s Cottonwood Pack wolves.

      You must know Wyoming’s “recovery plan” for wolves did not pass muster, since they wanted to list them in most of the state as a “predatory” animal, which means they could be shot and killed by anyone at anytime. That’s the reason Montana and Idaho dropped Wyoming from their “recovery plan.” Hardly a welcoming environment.

      I understand you’re a hunter and you want to be able to shoot elk and you worry about wolves. But the thing is Brian it’s not just about hunters and ranchers. There are other Americans that should have just as much say about what happens to wolves. We want wolves in the ecosystem but our voices are being drowned out. The politicians and feds are listening to ranching and hunting, the way it’s always been. This has to change. Many of us are sick and tired of the business as usual approach and we’re not going to be silent anymore.

      I admire that you took the time to comment on an obviously pro-wolf site. You are polite and stated your case very well. I just don’t happen to agree with you for the above mentioned reasons.

      I’m a Montanan and very aware of the politcal lightening rod wolves have become. I have spent many years exploring and hiking the backcountry. I understand the issues on both sides very well. I know that most hunters are interested in healthy wildlands and conservation, so those are two things we agree on. Maybe someday we will find more common ground.


  6. By stating we need less management you demonstrate you do not understand the science of managing wildlife.

    You also continue to pick and choose the stats you like that support your position but ignore what contradicts your position.

    This is how we got into this mess. Intellectual integrity has been missing from day one of the wolf reintroduction.

    Wolves must be managed as all other wildlife, period; and they will be I can assure you.


    • Hi David,
      I quoted YOUR numbers from the RMEF, so I’m not sure what you’re questioning? On wolf-cattle predation I quoted the USDA.

      The negative dogma surrounding wolves will continue as long as people are grounded in emotion about these animals. Wolf advocates will fight just as hard for sound wolf policies, I can assure you of that and what’s going on now is not sound wolf management. Enough of these animals are killed by the feds every year, let alone having wolf hunts mere months after they were delisted. Minnesota with their 3000 wolves stated they wouldn’t even consider a hunt for five years if wolves were ever delisted in their state. Yet we have the Governor of Idaho going on television, ramping up the wolf rhetoric stating, “I’m prepared to bid for the first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.” I believe over 25,000 wolf tags were sold in Montana and Idaho combined to kill 295 wolves. Who’s being emotional about wolves, the conservationists or the anti-wolf crowd?

      It’s obvious we don’t agree on this issue. I’m sure the 100,000 hunters roaming Montana’s wilderness will be able to kill the remaining 55 wolves before wolf season is shut down. And I’m equally sure they’ll have a successful elk hunting season with the numbers of elk way up in this state.


  7. David,Are you an authority in this area? If you are please tell me what degree do you have in this field on biology/wildlife?What are you going to say that hasn’t been said before?


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