The Wolf In Our Heads…Understanding Canis Lupus

Who is the wolf?  So much has been written about this magnificent animal yet do we really know the wolf?  We can recite facts about them. They mate for life, they’re smart, playful, their lives are structured around family. Wolves can knock off  fifteen to twenty-five miles in one clip without breaking a sweat, they can reach 40 miles an hour when chasing prey. Their wanderlust drives them to explore new places, to investigate, they are curious. Wolves love to move, they are perpetually in motion when awake.

Pack life is ordered, every wolf  has a place. Usually only the alpha pair (mothers and fathers) will breed but not always.  The famed Hog Heaven Pack, who was slaughtered by Wildlife Services in 2008, had twenty-seven members and TWO breeding females.  The year they were killed they produced 15 pups, all gunned down with the rest of the pack, in that grim November.

The idea that wolves fight for top dog position in the pack  has been disputed by wolf researchers.The term alpha is actually considered outdated in the wolf research community.

“Rather than viewing a wolf pack as a group of animals organized with a “top dog”that fought its way to the top, or a male-female pair of such aggressive wolves, science has come to understand that most wolf packs are merely family groups formed exactly the same way as human families are formed. That is, maturing male and female wolves from different packs disperse, travel around until they find each other and an area vacant of other wolves but with adequate prey, court, mate, and produce their own litter of pups.”

Basically a wolf pair mates, has puppies and the adults then become the natural leaders because pups follow their parents authority. The pack eventually becomes a large extended family.  Of course there are exceptions to this, as with everything pertaining to wolves. They are not easily defined.

So how did the wolf become vilified? It all starts with the images and stories we’re exposed to as kids. Many children grow up to fear wolves because the wolf is often demonized in fairy tales. We’re all familiar with those stories. Little Red Riding Hood, on her way to grandma’s house, must walk through the woods where the Big, Bad Wolf  lurks.

A girl has been given red cap (or cloak and hood) to wear. Her mother sends her to take food to her sick grandmother. The mother tells her she must not stop on the way.  A wolf sees the girl walking through the woods and makes a plan to eat her. The wolf politely asks the girl where she is going. The girl answers him, because he seems friendly. The wolf tells the girl to pick some flowers for her grandmother. While she is picking flowers, the wolf goes to grandmother’s house and eats her. He puts on the grandmother’s night-cap and gets into her bed. When the girl goes into grandmother’s house the wolf eats the girl too. A woodcutter comes and cuts opens the wolf’s body. He saves the grandmother and the girl who are still alive. Then, stones are put in the wolf’s body to kill the wolf.

The Three Little Pigs portray the wolf as evil. The pigs are characterized as industrious, just minding their own business, when along comes the Big, Bad Wolf who wants to blow their houses down and eat them.

The first little pig builds a house of straw, but a wolf blows it down and eats the first little pig. The second pig builds a house of sticks, but with the same ultimate result. Each exchange between wolf and pig features ringing proverbial phrases, namely:

“Little pig, little pig, let me in!”
“Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”
“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down!”

The third pig builds a house of hard bricks. The wolf cannot huff and puff hard enough to blow the house down. He attempts to trick the little pig out of the house, but the pig outsmarts him at every turn. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, whereupon the pig boils a pot of water into which the wolf plunges, at which point the pig quickly covers the pot and cooks the wolf for supper.

And of course we can’t forget the werewolf.  This may be the most damaging image of all because it permeates our culture with movie after movie depicting vicious, ravenous creatures, turning from man to wolf.

People are fascinated yet repelled by the idea of  half wolf /half human creatures. Once again the wolf is portrayed as dangerous, something to be feared.

The werewolf is a mythical creature that appears in European culture as far back as the times of the ancient Greeks. The culprit was believed to transform into a wolf or a ‘wolf-man’, an affliction either brought about by a curse or through the use of magic.

Ancient cultures across the world ascribed shape shifting abilities to the most dangerous animals they came in contact with; in Africa it was the lion, in India it was the snake and tiger and in Europe it was the white wolf, suggesting that the myth might have come about from mans need to invent stories.

The truth is the wolf is not bad or evil.  They are apex predators struggling  to survive in an ever hostile world, trying to eek out a living and care for their families. That’s it.

For the wolf it’s all about familia. They are the ultimate role models on great parenting. Pack structure is held together by the intense loyalty they feel toward each other. Admirable traits in any species.

Why don’t we read more about wolves’ wonderful altruistic qualities in the media? Because most are too busy reporting the “party line” from fish and game agencies.

Wolves once  prospered in all parts of the world.

As Barry Lopez states in “Of Wolves and Men”:

“The wolf once roamed most of the Northern Hemisphere above thirty degrees north latitude.  They were found in Eastern Europe, The Balkans, the near Middle East into Arabia, Afghanistan,  Northern India, throughout Russia north into Siberia, China and Japan.

He goes on:  “In North America the wolf reached a southern limit north of Mexico City and ranged north as far as Cape Morris Jessup, Greenland, less than four hundred miles from the North Pole.  Outside of  Iceland and North Africa, and such places as the Gobi Desert.  Wolves had adapted to virtually every habitat available to them.”

Historic US  Gray Wolf Range. Map: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Native Americans were awed by the power and stealth of the wolf, while European settlers — who brought over their folk tales of the “big bad wolf” — feared the animal. This fear, combined with the belief that wolves caused widespread livestock losses, led to their near extinction in the lower 48 states in the early half of the 20th century.”

Wolves were hated by the first Europeans that landed on this continent and they brought their wolf exterminating ways with them.  Europe had been sanitized of most of their wolves to clear the land for ranching and farming. They carried their wolf prejudice to America and within four hundred years wolves were extirpated from the lower forty-eight. An epic tragedy.

The impetus that started the wolf carnage in America was the early European settler’s slaughter of bison and other ungulates.  They literally killed everything with four hooves from bison to moose, deer and elk. They robbed wolves of their prey base.

As Rick Bass states in The Ninemile Wolves, “In the absence of bison, there was the bison’s replacement: cattle. The wolves preyed upon these new intruders, without question but the ranchers and the government overreacted just a tad.  Until very recently, the score stood at Cows, 99,200,000; Wolves, O.

Of the men that took part in the pogrom, what can we say of them? What wolves were dwelling in their heads while they poisoned, shot, set wolves on fire, fed them ground glass and other tortures too gruesome to mention? What were they thinking of the wolf as they laid their strychnine laden meat trap-lines?  What was their image of the wolf?  A pest, a bounty to be collected, did they feel anything about this animal that had done them no harm?  We can never know but we can guess.

Today there are pockets of wolves scattered throughout Europe. Russia still has wolves, although they have virtually no protection and can be shot on sight.  The largest population of wolves reside in Alaska and Canada.  Of the twenty-three subspecies that existed, seven are now extinct.

Mankind did a very good job of decimating wolf populations. But in the 1980’s a few wolves returned to their western habitat in Glacier National Park, long before their official reintroduction to Yellowstone  and Central Idaho in 1995.  Wolves today inhabit a tiny fraction of their historic range and are still fighting the same persecution they faced a hundred years ago.

The image of the wolf has taken on almost mythical proportions. Does anyone truly see the wolf  for who it really is?  For a few they are evil, hunting machines and possess no redeeming qualities. I receive comments  from angry people who rail against wolves and how they kill their prey, as if there’s a polite way for predators to kill. Wolves are held to a different standard. No predator kills nicely, not African lions, not grizzly bears, not Great White sharks, not mountain lions, and definitely NOT HUMANS.  I don’t know of a single case of wolves shooting their prey from helicopters with twelve gauge shotguns, or using leghold traps. That kind of killing is the domain of the deadliest predator on earth, man!

Wolves kill to survive.  They were put on this earth to keep ungulate herds healthy.

Every time wolves hunt they risk broken ribs or cracked skulls by a well placed kick. Wolves’ lives are hard. Yet they are demonized for being predators. What about the gut shot deer wandering the forests during hunting season, leaving blood trails? Take a trip through the thousands of YouTube videos that depict disgusting canned hunts or document the glee with which some hunters display brutal killing methods of our wildlife. Who’s responsible for the torture of  animals in factory farms, it’s not the wolf?

It all goes back to the image one has of the wolf.  If people grow up believing the myths and half-truths about wolves, they’ll carry those biases into adulthood.  I believe those who hate wolves have projected their fears about themselves onto the wolf.

“Throughout the centuries we have projected on to the wolf the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.” -Barry Lopez

For most the wolf is an icon of freedom and beauty, a symbol of untamed wildness.  As Barry Lopez described them so beautifully in Of Wolves and Men.

The wolves will “travel together ten or twenty miles a day,  through the country where they live, eating and sleeping, birthing, playing with sticks, chasing ravens, growing old, barking at bears, scent marking trails, killing moose and staring at the way water in a creek breaks around their legs and flows on.”

That’s the wolf in my head. Who’s the wolf in yours?


Coastal British Columbia wolves love salmon!

There’s always something new to learn about wolves!

Repost: Original posting February 26,2010

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cartoon: A Puritan Thanksgiving….Dan Beard

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, howling for justice, biodiversity

Tags: wolf enigma, canis lupus, wolf myths, fairy tales, little red riding hood, family

Help Wanted: Job Opening For Wolf Pack

Apparently they have an elk problem in Coos Bay, Oregon. 

Twenty or so Roosevelt Elk have set up home there and are doing quite a bit of damage to property. Sounds like they need to call in the wolves!!


Gray Wolves: 

Job opening in Oregon near Coos Bay. The elk are overrunning the area and destroying property.  

All interested wolf packs may apply. 

Management skills a plus. Thank you.

*not an official ODFW ad…lol


From Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Limit Elk Damage To Your Property 

The city of Coos Bay is currently dealing with a large population of elk making their home both in the Pony Creek municipal watershed and Mingus Park. These elk are also causing damage to private property and ODFW has some advice for homeowners.

Elk follow their food, so taking away their food source – your lawn, favorite flowers and shrubs – will help send them elsewhere. Here are a few ways to protect your landscaping.

Elk follow their food, so taking away their food source – your lawn, favorite flowers and shrubs – will help send them elsewhere. Here are a few ways to protect your landscaping.

he city of Coos Bay is currently dealing with a large population of elk making their home both in the Pony Creek municipal watershed and Mingus Park. These elk are also causing damage to private property and ODFW has some advice for homeowners.


The best elk deterrent is a seven-foot fence around your property.

Wrap ornamental plants with plastic netting

This will keep elk from browsing on your plants.

Big Game Repellent

Since fencing can be expensive to install, big game repellents may also be useful in reducing damage to your property. Many repellents are environmentally friendly but water soluble so they need to be reapplied after significant rain. A variety of commercial products are available at garden shops, nurseries, florists and on the Internet. Examples include Deer Away, Plantskydd and Liquid Fence.

Motion-activated Sprinklers

Motion-activated sprinklers aggressively spray water in short bursts when an animal walks into the field of the sprinkler’s electronic eye, scaring the animal away. They are most effective when moved around the yard periodically so approaching animals are kept off-guard. Sprinklers such as the Scarecrow and Spray Away are available at garden shops and on Internet sites such as

Deer and Elk-resistant Landscaping

Take advantage of the many deer and elk-resistant plants available at local nurseries. There are a wide variety of ornamental shrubs, flowers, plants and trees that deer and elk find unpalatable. Ask your local nursery or check ODFW’s Web site (see below) for a general guide to these plants.

 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 


Elk herd makes itself at home in Coos Bay park


This story is obviously a little dated but it makes a good point for wolves in Oregon.  Seems there’s plenty of elk.  I wonder if the Imnaha Pack applied for the job?


Photos: Wikimedia Commons 

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, biodiversity, Elk

Tags: Oregon wolves, wolf recovery, humor

Thanks to gline for the idea!!

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm  Comments (12)  
Tags: , ,

Wolf Pack Memorial Page (Updated 2011)

This page is updated as quickly as I can read through weekly wolf reports. Its to remind people the War Against Wolves continues unabated.

Most of these wolves have been wiped out in “control actions” by WS.  Others were killed under 10j, some were poached, a few died of general mortality.

I created this page so they wouldn’t be forgotten. Please remember these wolves, most have died in the name of agribusiness, the same reason wolves were exterminated from the West in the 19th and 20th centuries with strychnine, some set on fire and even fed broken glass.

What humans have done and continue to do to wolves is morally wrong.  Please consider reading “Of Wolves and Men”, by Barry Lopez to learn the whole story.

To view the page….CLICK HERE:

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 1:48 am  Comments (4)  

Scapegoating Wolves

Scapegoating: “Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilised in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group(wolves); the amount ofblame being unwarranted.”

Wolf haters never seem to take the day off.  They are busy as can be hating wolves and trying to make sure wolves pay.  As wolf advocates await Judge Molloy’s decision on restoring wolves ESA protections, we watch in disbelief at what is happening to wolves.  The Idaho state legislature passed a resolutionasking the Governor to declare a state of emergency in Idaho because among other things, wolves could become a threat to people, especially children. I’m not kidding.

Wolf attacks on humans are exceedingly rare. The wolf is the least dangerous of large carnivores of the same size and weight. They are extremly shy and fearful of  humans and with good reason.  Any wild wolf would  rather be a hundred miles away from people.

I hate to break it to the resolution makers in the Idaho State Legislature but domestic dogs are a bigger threat to people and children  then wolves will ever be and I’m a dog lover but facts are facts.

Dog attacks are attacks on humans by feral or domestic dogs. With the close association of dogs and humans in daily life (largely as pets), dog attacks—with injuries from usually very minor to significant, and very occasionally severe to fatal—are not uncommon. Attacks on the serious end of the spectrum have become the focus of increasing media and public attention in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It is estimated that two percent of the US population, 4.7 million people, are bitten each year.In the 1980s and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities per year, while in the 2000s this has increased to 26. 77% of dog bites are from the pet of family or friends, and 50% of attacks occur on the dog owner’s property.

Are we going to be issuing edicts to lock up all the children because dogs are a threat to them?  I’m kidding of course but does anyone see how hysterical the rhetoric has gotten?  It’s like a badly written fairy tale.

Next we have US District Court Judge Winmill giving the green light to IDFG so they can land helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness to collar wolves.

Let’s throw The Wilderness Act out the window because IDFG needs to gather more information about wolves.  The Wilderness Act states:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Wolf collaring is such a priority in the Frank Church. Uh-huh.  The one place wild enough where wolves can actually get away from people. We can’t have that. They must be perpetually harassed and tracked and of course collar GPS signals are used to locate wolves for “control actions”, IE. killing them. All so necessary.

Once again, another example of state game agencies doing the bidding of the rancher barons, who refuse to be pro-active protecting  their livestock.  Instead it’s much easier to call Montana FWP or IDFG to come and kill the wolves.

So who is looking out for wolves interest in state government? I’m hearing crickets. It’s the same scenerio that got wolves exterminated the last time around. The ranchers hated them and wanted them gone, so the feds went out and poisoned, trapped and shot all the wolves. Now the same climate of hate is rearing it’s head again.

Wolves are the ultimate scapegoats for people who apparently are unhappy with their lives. Sometimes angry people will kick their dogs if they’re mad at the world, or yell out their car windows in fits of road rage if someone cuts them off?  Well instead of kicking the dog, they can kill the wolf, or kick the wolf, or curse the wolf. or blame the wolf. or damn the wolf, or persecute the wolf.  It must be nice to have the wolf to kick around, since they have no voice, it’s so easy.

It’s the same mantra repeated over and over again.  The wolves are eating all the cattle, the wolves are killing all the elk when this is patently untrue

Wolves, large grazing animals, and beaver have successfully lived side by side for thousands of years. It is only when the first Europeans arrived in North America that this balanced co-existence changed. When prey species drop in number because of food availability or weather conditions, wolf numbers drop as well. Wolves have smaller litters or may even starve to death.

But people can repeat anything they want and call it truth. By changing the subject and constantly talking about livestock and elk it takes the focus off wolves and what’s best for them.

I for one am sick of the whining, the lies and biased media reports about wolves. And they call wolf advocates emotional.  Please.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, howling for justice, Wolf Wars

Tags: wolves in the crossfire, Wilderness Act, Frank Church Wilderness

Another Blow….Judge Will Allow IDFG To Land Helicopters in Frank Church To Collar Wolves

Chief US District Judge B. Lynn Winmill denied injunctive relief sought by Western Watersheds Project to prevent IDFG from landing helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness to collar wolves.  This is another blow for wolves and wilderness.  It will only embolden IDGF to continue their war on wolves.  The judge did warn:

“The next helicopter proposal in the Frank Church Wilderness will

face a daunting review because it will add to the disruption and intrusion of this

collaring project. The Forest Service must proceed very cautiously here because

the law is not on their side if they intend to proceed with further helicopter projects

in the Frank Church Wilderness. The Court is free to examine the cumulative

impacts of the projects, and the context of the use. Given that this project is

allowed to proceed, the next project will be extraordinarily difficult to justify.”

My question to that statement is why allow it in the first place if the law is not on their side? In any case this is another salvo across the bow at Idaho’s wolves.

To read the decision CLICK HERE:

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, howling for justice, wolf wars

Tags: Frank Church intrusive helicopter landings, wolves in the crossfire

Does Idaho Want To Shoot Wolves On Sight…Hmmm Sounds Like The Wyoming Plan?

As stated in Idaho Wolf Wars Part 2, the Idaho legislature have their panties in a bunch over wolves. They drafted a resolution asking the governor to declare a state of emergency because wolves are just such a threat.  Of course this is ridiculous but that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious, which is scary.

Wolves are under attack in Idaho. First the leaked IDFG Memo and now the resolution to reduce the wolf population by how much we don’t know. Down to a 100 animals?  It’s anyone’s guess. I at least have a modicum of respect for Wyoming since they didn’t hide the fact they hated wolves and wanted to shoot them on sight in most of the state.  BUT Idaho pretended they were going to be reasonable, good “managers”.  Apparently that has fallen by the wayside and now their true colors and intentions are exposed for all to see. 

I’d be curious to know who’s really behind this lastest salvo against wolves in Idaho but I would have to guess it’s the usual suspects. Shame on Idaho for treating wolves as if they are dangerous terrorists. My question is what sparked the latest attack on wolves? My guess is IDFG was waiting to use (as they like to say) all the tools in their toolbox. God help wolves in Idaho!


Shoot-on-Sight Wolves?

by Andrew McKean

February 18, 2010

Do bourgeoning wolf populations in the Rockies constitute an emergency that would justify the sort of response states typically reserve for floods, wildfires and other natural disasters?

Or, put another way, might the Idaho National Guard be called out to kill wolves?

That’s one way to read a joint resolution that has been drafted by the Idaho Legislature and could be introduced in the state’s House any day. The legislation, HCR043, calls for the governor “to declare that a state of emergency exists in Idaho” due to the “unnecessarily large number of wolves” in the state. Further, the law would require the state’s Fish and Game Department to “use any means” to reduce Idaho’s wolf population to the numbers adequate for recovery of the previously endangered species.

It’s a high-profile call to action by a growing number of anti-wolf activists in the state. This loose coalition of hunters, outfitters, landowners and wildlife advocates has become so frustrated with the growing number of reintroduced wolves, and what they claim are rules that hamstring effective management of the predators, that the legislative big stick is one of the few tools left to them. 

To read the rest of the story…CLICK HERE


Here is the resolution calling for a state of emergency against wolves.  I thought I’d seen it all but apparently this is one more tool in their toolbox, as they like to say.  Disgusting!!

Sixtieth Legislature Second Regular Session 2010



Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

WHEREAS, wolf populations have grown to a level of over eight times the number designated for recovery of the species in Idaho and no effective management plan exists for reducing wolf populations to the number designated for recovery of the species; and

WHEREAS, growing and unacceptable levels of wolf predation against livestock and pets exist and many claims relating to losses by wolves are not fully compensated; and

WHEREAS, wolf packs have moved into densely populated areas and unnecessarily large numbers of wolves constitute a threat, not only to property, but to human life itself, with particular threat to children ( Are they serious…wolves have almost no history of attacking people, yet they are now claiming wolves are a danger to human life and children?  I am stunned) 

WHEREAS, the time and costs expended in an effort to protect livestock against wolf attacks is never compensated; and

WHEREAS, people living in most rural parts of the state are threatened by wolves and must change their habits and lose the safe use of, and travel upon, their own property. Individuals must now arm themselves to face the threat of growing, unchecked numbers of wolves in many parts of the state; and

WHEREAS, unchecked numbers of wolves are destroying the culture and heritage of rural Idahoans including, but not limited to, their use of real estate, their use of hounds for legal hunting of big game, their livelihood in professional hunting, such as outfitting and guiding, and their choice of type and location of livestock animals for food production and recreation; and

WHEREAS, excessive wolf populations reduce livestock production through direct loss of life and loss of productivity, with higher costs to producers, which creates devaluation of established livestock businesses in areas of high wolf populations; and

WHEREAS, excessive numbers of wolves are hindering recovery of elk populations in parts of the state, are reducing the big game populations avail able to hunters in the state, and are preventing the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from exercising its mandate to manage big game for the benefit of hunters in the state; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, Governor Jim Risch issued Executive Order No. 2006 32, finding that there was an imminent threat to the health of wild elk herds, as well as to the public health and safety of the citizens of Idaho, due to escape of domestic elk from the Conant Creek Facility in eastern Idaho and ordered the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to “identify and shoot on site, any domestic elk that have escaped from the Conant Creek Facility.” The large number of wolves in the state presents a far greater threat.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the Second Regular Session of the Sixtieth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate concurring therein, that the above described conditions define an emergency condition for all rural Idahoans and, in the face of this emergency, the Legislature hereby encourages the Governor of the State of Idaho to declare that a state of emergency exists in Idaho and to authorize and require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to use any legal means to reduce wolf numbers to those designated for recovery of the species.

*italics mine

Posted in: Wolf Wars, gray wolf/canis lupus, howling for justice

Tags: wolf persecution,  Idaho CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION NO. 43, wolf intolerance

Idaho Wolf Wars Part 2

Wolf advocates knew this was coming. Coupled with the leaked IDFG Memo there is no doubt War Is Being Declared On Idaho’s Wolves! They are moving closer to Wyoming’s unacceptable plan. We all predicted this from the onset.  What a dark day for wolves in Idaho.  I hope Judge Molloy is watching this charade.

From The Spokesman Review:

Resolution seeks ‘emergency’ reduction in wolves in the state

2:44 p.m. on February 15
Lawmakers would declare an emergency and urge the governor to do the same and order the state’s wolf population reduced, under a concurrent resolution introduced today in the House Resources Committee at the urging of Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries. “This bill is about legislators being able to show their support, should the governor so wish to have an executive order to have wolves removed,” Harwood told the committee. Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene disagreed, and said the resolution appears to move Idaho toward a position like that of Wyoming, which hasn’t been given authority to manage its wolf population because of its refusal to enact acceptable wolf management plans.
“I think we all know how big this issue has been in our state the last 10 or 12 years, and the struggle we went through as a state to get to the position to where we can manage wolves,” Sayler said. “To me, this is a move back toward a Wyoming position. … This is a step back to more court cases.” Sayler moved to kill the bill, but was outvoted along party lines, with only the panel’s Democrats voting in support. The committee then voted, again along party lines, to introduce a corrected version of the resolution. Among the last-minute changes: The resolution now says that it encourages the governor to declare a state of emergency and require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to use “any legal means” to reduce wolf numbers, instead of just “use any means.”
The committee also voted to introduce a measure from Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, to make “human consumptive use” of certain game species a top priority for Fish & Game’s management of wildlife, even though Hart, tied up in another committee, didn’t show up to present the bill. Rep. Dell Raybould questioned whether a precedent was being set that the way to get a bill introduced was to not show up. Chairman Bert Stevenson said he was concerned about that, but since the committee wanted to proceed and today is the last day for bill introductions, he allowed it.
Posted in: Wolf Wars, gray wolf/canis lupus
Tags:  wolf hysteria in Idaho,  wolves in the crossfire

IDFG Memo…War Against Idaho’s Wolves??


Is this leaked IDFG memo their mission statement declaring War Against Idaho’s Wolves?

Reading the memo I find nothing that addresses ranchers poor animal husbandry practices, or let’s face it, non existent ones.  Even if wolves killed one livestock per day last year, that’s 365 animals, a virtual blip on the livestock mortality screen.  Over ninety percent of livestock losses are due to disease, weather and reproduction as you all know.  Predators, mainly the coyote, take many more then wolves, heck domestic dogs and vultures kill more livestock then wolves and even that is minuscule.. This obviously has nothing to do with wolf predation and everything to do with kissing  up to ranchers,who love playing the victim card to get wolves killed. It all goes back to the history of wolf persecution. Ranchers, the states and feds were behind the last Western extermination of wolves and it looks like they are leading the way in round 2. 

Will Montana and Idaho be cooperating to kill more wolves? The memo seems to point to that conclusion. 

This is exactly why wolves  need to be re-listed.  Even though it won’t stop WS, it will stop the legal hunts because I can guarantee that next year’s hunts will be increasingly brutal and quota’s will be raised by both states.

Click here to see Memo



TO: Regional Supervisors

FROM: Cal Groen, Director

SUBJECT: Response to wolf depredations on livestock

C: Fish and Game Commissioners, Jim Unsworth, Virgil Moore, Mark Collinge, Nate Fisher, Bonnie Butler

Despite our increased response to controlling wolves depredating on livestock in recent years, wolf depredation complaints continued to increase. In November 2008 the Idaho Fish and Game Commission directed IDFG “To develop and aggressively utilize all available tools and methods to control wolf caused depredation of domestic livestock.”

Responding to that directive, our control efforts have progressed as follows:

Decentralized decision-making to Regional Supervisors when authorizing removal of depredating wolves. • Extended the effective period for take orders by USDA Wildlife Services (WS) and kill permits (livestock owners) from 45 to 60 days following the most recent depredation incident.

Authorized additional WS wolf removals and extended kill permits based on recurring incidents or chronic history of the wolf pack involved.

Allowed kill permit designees to include all members of a grazing association during their entire grazing season.

 Increased authorization to remove most or all of the members of wolf packs involved in chronic depredations where there has been a history of depredations from previous years.

Developed area-specific harvest objectives for the 2009-2010 wolf hunting season to address livestock conflicts.

Authorized take orders during open hunting season when hunting proved ineffective to remedy chronic depredations.( So basically the hunters aren’t killing wolves fast enough)

Increased coordination between Montana and Idaho WS. IDFG authorized WS control actions in response to 160 confirmed and 43 probable wolf depredations on livestock during federal FY2009. These control actions resulted in removal of 107 wolves including complete, or nearly complete removal of 6 entire packs (Middle Creek, Snake River, Applejack, Falls Creek, Sage Creek, Blue Bunch) as authorized by IDFG. Fish and Game authorized the removal of the Blue Bunch pack but complete removal was not achieved during the federal FY2009 period.

Since the end of the federal FY in September 2009, IDFG has authorized the complete removal of all, or nearly all, members of 3 additional packs (Basin Butte, Steel Mountain, Sweet-Ola) in response to repeated depredations caused by these packs.  (Poor animal husbandry practices are leading to the death of wolves.  Ranchers are not held to any standard to protect their investment.  Do the American people owe ranchers a living?  This is just a welrare subsidy for ranching, using the state and feds as their own private wolf extermination service, while doing little or next to nothing to protect their livestock)

Although the Department has documented nearly 300 wolf mortalities in 2009, livestock losses continue at an unacceptable level. As a result, we need to renew our commitment to meeting the Commission’s directive to reduce livestock depredations. (Exactly what are the numbers of livestock losses? This is  tit for tat management plain and simple.  One cow , one wolf.  What other predator is subjected to this type of persecution?)

With due consideration to maintaining linkage corridors, we will recommend to the Commission increasing harvest limits in 2010 and expanding season dates in wolf zones with chronic depredations. (Here we go wolf advocates, they’re already talking about increasing “harvest limits” and expanding season dates for next years hunts.  Are they just going to make wolf hunting  year round, since the season already lasts for SEVEN MONTHS, into breeding and denning season?)

Further, in high conflict areas where a history of depredations exists, we will respond to a confirmed depredation incident more aggressively by authorizing WS to remove all involved depredating wolves.

Additionally, I am committing staff to work cooperatively with WS to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative methods, such as sterilization or other nonlethal measures, to alleviate wolf damage. We would like to keep all options available to manage wolf depredations in the future.

*italics mine




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Wolf photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Wolf Wars, howling for justice, Wildlife Services War Against Wildlife

Tags: wolf persecution, wolves in the crossfire, IDFG

Wolf Advocates…Play Offense not Defense

When gray wolves are discussed the inevitable dialog commences concerning their effect on ungulates or livestock, which puts wolf advocates perpetually on the defense. We feel compelled to defend the wolf.  Many of the posts on this blog are in defensive mode. Wolves are continually portrayed in a bad light, so I feel obligated to defend them, it’s a natural reaction.

I’m an avid football fan and I know a great defense is the backbone of any team but the best defense is a good offense.  If we’re constantly talking about deer, elk and livestock then we’re not talking about wolves.  I believe this is the strategy of the anti wolf-crowd, to take the focus off wolf issues. It’s a tactic as old as time and it works.  If you want to deflect attention from an issue, change the subject.

I challenge wolf advocates to stop playing defense.  The motives that drive wolf persecution are political and cultural.  It’s not about livestock depredation, elk numbers or “wolf management.”

From Wolves A Cosmopolitan World View:

“Wolves (have) persisted quite well alongside humanity for over a hundred thousand years, all without the “benefit” of wildlife management. It should be clear, then, that humanity’s troubled relationship with wolves has little to do with sound science in the sense of empirical data, quantitative models, or management techniques. Instead, our trouble with wolves is a deeply rooted ethical conflict over whether to coexist with wolves and other large predators. Resolving this conflict is a question of values, not facts and wolf recovery depends on a culture of tolerance for other life forms and their ways-of-life, not a science of wildlife management.”

Minnesota and Great Lakes ranchers are able to live reasonably amicably with almost 4000 wolves because most practice responsible animal husbandry. They have also  lived with wolves a very long time.  Please watch Lords of Nature to glimpse how predator and rancher can live side by side with reduced conflicts.

As for elk and deer, wolves have been coexisting with their prey for thousands of years without the need to be managed.  The elk owes it’s fleetness of foot to the wolf.  It wasn’t until Europeans set foot on this continent that the wolf suddenly became the enemy.  Europe had purged itself of most large carnivores. European farmers and ranchers transplanted that idea to America and the war against the wolf began, almost four hundred years ago. The last hundred years included an aggressive poisoning, trapping and shooting campaign led by the federal government.  Not only were wolves mercilessly killed but other predators and animals were targeted. It’s believed more then two million wolves were eradicated from the lower forty eight, that’s a grim figure.  To learn more about the extermination of wolves in the West and to understand the mindset that believed any wildlife that couldn’t be controlled should be eliminated, I recommend reading Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and The Transformation of the West, by Michael Robinson. 

In a Nova Online interview, given ten years ago, Ed Bangs (Wolf Recovery Coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service) put it this way:

“Well, we deliberately got rid of them, as a society. A hundred years ago, our society placed very low value on all wildlife. We got rid of all the deer, the elk, the bison, the turkeys, you know, everything, in deference to other social objectives, primarily agriculture and settlement. And you can imagine being a grizzly bear or a black bear or a wolf or a coyote—when there was nothing else to eat but livestock, that’s what you ate.  As a consequence settlers really hated wolves, grizzly bears and other predatory animals and they deliberately tried to get rid of them all. The federal government actually sent out trappers who spent years hunting down the last wolf and killing it. The last wolves were actually killed by the U.S. Biological Survey, which is the agency that transformed itself into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is now responsible for wolf restoration!” 

He goes on to describe how wolves were killed:

Poison, and a lot of them were shot. The dens were found, the pups were hit over the head. And then the adults were shot around the den. But poison is probably what did away with most of the wolves. The old stories go that there wasn’t a cowboy in the west worth his salt that wouldn’t see a carcass and lace it with strychnine in the attempt to kill everything, I mean the foxes, the coyotes, the eagles, the wolves, the bears, everything. And this poisoning campaign, surprisingly, went on until the ’70s. There were poison baits placed throughout the western United States—even on public lands by federal agencies.”

This mindset is still prevalent today, especially in the West.  Many people holding these views occupy political office, populate state game agencies and have the power to make life and death decisions concerning wolves and other predators.  Even though wildlife belongs to all Americans, elected officials and bureaucrats who are grounded in outdated, arcane thinking,  exert tremendous control over wildlife “management”.  Think of  Wildlife Services and the damage they do every year. Yet they continue to operate with abandon.

Did you ever wonder if wolves are blamed for livestock kills committed by another predator, their very close cousins, the dog?  There was a recent study done in Basque that addressed this issue: 

“Two researchers of the Euskadi Wolf Group at the Doñana Biological Station” examined the feces of wild wolves and dogs, which were identified by their DNA and examined the contents of their scat.  Their findings:

When compared the remains of prey identified in both wolf and dog feces, they saw each feces contained only a single prey item. Among the prey items identified in 30 wolf feces (the remains in one wolf fecal sample were unknown), 22 contained wild prey (17 roe deer, three wild boar, one Eurasian badger and one European hare) and eight contained domestic animals (four horses, three cattle and one sheep). Wild species represented 73% of all prey identified in wolf feces and sheep only 3%.

Of the 39 prey items they be able to identify in dog feces, 14 (36%) contained remains of sheep and seven (18%) contained remains of either horses or cattle. Domestic animals represented 54% of all prey identified in dog feces.

When suspected wolf livestock kills are reported, do you believe after reading the Basque study, that “wildlife managers”  sometimes get it wrong? That wolves may be blamed for more then they actually kill?  Or wolves may show up after a kill is made by another predator and be blamed for it?  This happened to the Mexican gray wolves that were under death warrants if they killed more then three livestock per year, even though cattle made up just 4% of their diet.  The three strikes rule was recinded last year but before SOP 13 (Standard Operating Proceedure) was rejected, endangered Mexican gray wolves were eliminated for feeding on dead cows even if the cows died of natural causes.  The ranchers were not removing dead carcasses, even though it’s their responsiblity to do so as tenants on public land. The outrageous fact is the Mexican gray wolves Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is all public land. The wolves should have dominion here, not ranchers, who are leasing the land.  That land belongs to the American people, yet we have zero input on what happens to the animals that inhabit it. 

The Mexican wolves now number just 42 animals, down from 52 wolves counted at the end of 2008. Two Mexican wolves were conclusively shot and the remander of the deaths are being investigated but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the dead wolves, including four pups, were probably killed by poachers.

The reason I bring up the Basque study and Mexican wolves is because they provide two examples of wolves being blamed for livestock deaths they may not have committed.  It’s akin to the half truths and outright lies that are repeated about wolves decimating elk.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation declared elk numbers not only stable but rising in 23 states, in their 2009 Spring press release. The elk populaton grew 44% from 1984 to 2009 yet  I’ve actually had hunters write to me asking where I get my numbers on elk, when it’s their own RMEF stats.  Unbelievable but it shows what happens when people want to believe myths about wolves.  Which brings me back to taking the offense when it comes to wolves. Don’t be sucked into endless discussions about ranching and elk.  Wolves need our help. If we waste our time engaging in counter productive argruments defending wolves against rumor and myth,  then the anti wolf crowd has won.  They want to change the subject.  They want to talk about anything but wolves.

Our goal,  as I see it, is to emphasize the positives. Wolves and all apex predators improve the health of our ecosystems.  We can point out the admirable qualities wolves possess,  that we can all aspire to.  To quote Ed Bangs once more:

“A wolf’s territory represents the place where their family lives and where they’re safe. If you’re in your pack’s territory, you have a family to help defend you, to care for you, to share food with you. Wolves are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters that we always hoped we could be. I mean there’s extreme loyalty among family members, it’s everything to them.”

This is what the world needs to know about wolves.  

You won’t see negative comments or arguments about wolves on this blog. I’m not going to perpetuate the same tired dogma that’s been ingrained in the thinking of so many people that should know better. If we can stand against the rumors, myths and predjudice that haunt wolves to this day, we can truly make a difference for them and other top line predators.  

Let’s stop playing defense by allowing wolf haters to control the tone and content of the conversation. It  doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to dispel rumors but more of our time could be wisely spent devoted to helping wolves achieve the peace they deserve by spreading the word about the good qualities they possess. 

It’s a tough job battling hundreds of years of persecution.  Even our language is rife with “bad wolf karma”  that we may not be aware of.  Phrases such as “Thrown to the wolves”,  “Wolves at the door” or “The Big, Bad Wolf”, imparts the idea that wolves are menacing and bad.  Or the way in which wolves are portrayed  in movies and literature.  Werewolves are almost always evil,  the idea of a human (usually a man) transformed into a wolf,  that kills humans with abandon, conveys the belief wolves are inherently evil, which is so far from the truth.

Wolf advocates it’s time for us to play offense and keep the conversation centered on wolf issues and their welfare. Education is the key, especially for young people,  so they don’t grow up believing the same lies and half truths many seem to hold so dearly.  Maybe it’s time to write new fairy tales about wolves, instead of the “The Big Bad Wolf” eating grandma.  How about the wolves that saved the aspen and willow trees?  Or having wolves on the landscape helps the Pronghorn antelope fawns?  

We are their voice, wolves can’t speak for themselves, so it’s our job to speak for them.   Speak out for wolves and you control the conversation.


“Perhaps it was the eyes of the wolf, measured, calm, knowing.
Perhaps it was the intense sense of family.
After all, wolves mate for life, are loyal partners, create hunting communities
and demonstrate affectionate patience in pup rearing.
Perhaps it was the rigid heirarchy of the packs.
Each wolf had a place in the whole and yet retained his individual personality.
Perhaps it was their great, romping, ridiculous sense of fun.
Perhaps it was some celestial link with the winter night skies
that prompted the wolf to lay his song on the icy air.
For the native people who lived with the wolves,
and the wolves once ranged from the Arctic to the sub-tropics,
there was much to learn from them.
Is it any wonder that the myths of many tribes characterise the wolves
not as killers but as teachers?”
~ Unknown

Wolf Fact:

Canis lupus irremotus: (Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf) The original range of this large lightly colored animal was the northern Rocky Mountains including southern Alberta (Canada) Said to be extinct in the U.S there are recent reports of this subspecies possibly being spotted in Glacier National Park in Montana.



Wolf Photo: Courtesy SigmaEye Flickr

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, biodiversity,  howling for justice, Mexican gray wolf

Tags:  canis lupus, wolves positive influence, wolf research, Mexican gray wolves, wolves or livestock

The Wolves

I love this video, it’s so powerful.  God bless the wolves in their hour of need.

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: beauty of wolves, canis lupus

Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 3:59 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,
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