Senior Wolves Give Elk A Break

social security

Update: June 30, 2012

I posted this in 2009, just as the first wolf hunts were underway in Montana and Idaho. I believed that if we provided  fish and game managers with scientific fact about the detrimental effects of wolf hunting it might have some effect. How naive I was! The only thing they care about is pleasing two groups of people (hunters and ranchers) and “managing” wolves down to a shadow population of 100 to 150 animals per state.


November 5, 2009

It turns out wolves age just like people and according to wolf researcher, Daniel MacNulty, by age four, wolves are considered old. This insight into the life span of wolves could have far-reaching implications concerning “managing” them.   The older the wolf, the less threat they are to elk, due to their reduced physical stamina.

The teenagers and young adults of the pack do most of the leg work chasing down prey, while the older wolves are important at the end of the chase, with their larger bodies and heftier builds, they help youngsters with the take down.  It all makes perfect sense.  Dr. MacNulty states hunting wolves to reduce their numbers may backfire.

“It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,” he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.”

But wolf supporters don’t really believe wolf hunts are about “the science.”  Still I’m hopeful Dr.MacNulty’s research will open a few eyes.


Washed-up wolves

Surprising discoveries about aging wolves and their effects on elk

washed up wolves

The elk-hunting skills of wolves decline significantly with age, a University of Minnesota study shows.

Photo: Douglas Dance

By Deane Morrison

Contrary to their fearsome, folk tale-rooted image, wolves just aren’t all that good as predators. To bring down big prey, they have nothing but speed and teeth–no claws that can rip flesh, no massive paws to kayo their quarry.

Now, a University of Minnesota-led study of wolves in Yellowstone National Park shows how even that modest ability soon ebbs away. Daniel MacNulty and his colleagues found that the wolves were in their hunting prime at the ages of 2 and 3, but then their skills deteriorated steadily. They lived, on average, till age 6.

Writing in the September 23, 2009 issue of Ecology Letters, MacNulty, a postdoctoral researcher in the University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, and his colleagues reported that the higher the proportion of wolves older than 3 in the park, the lower the rate at which they kill elk, their main source of food. The findings run counter to a belief, held by many ecologists, that wild predators maintain their physical skills as long as they live.

But the study “shows that aging impairs the ability of the wolves to catch elk,” says MacNulty, “The data connect aging with an important ecological process, namely predation.”

MacNulty has followed the Yellowstone wolves since their reintroduction to the park in 1995. He says the lowered hunting ability of older wolves may afford some protection to the elk, which would fare worse if all the wolves were spring chickens.

“For example, when 22 percent of the wolves in Yellowstone were 3 or older, the kill rate was 0.4 elk per pack per day,” says MacNulty. “If the older wolves were 52 percent of the population, the kill rate dropped to 0.22 elk per pack per day.”

In general, for every 10 percent rise in the proportion of wolves older than 3, the Yellowstone wolf population saw a decline in the kill rate of 10 to 15 percent, he says.

“… [W]hen 22 percent of the wolves in Yellowstone were 3 or older, the kill rate was 0.4 elk per pack per day. If the older wolves were 52 percent of the population, the kill rate dropped to 0.22 elk per pack per day.”

MacNulty has also documented the decline of individual aging wolves’ hunting skills. For example:

“Wolf number 21 in the Druid Peak pack lived to about 9,” he says. “Video of 21 over his lifetime showed him slowing down when chasing elk as he neared the end of life.”
As the geezer wolves lose their edge, the study suggests that young adults in the pack shoulder more of the workload and share their kills. This may provide aging members of the pack with a lupine version of social security.

Why wolf hunting may backfire

The number of elk in Yellowstone has declined in recent years, and many believe wolves are the main cause, MacNulty says. But he notes that drought, which has reduced the supply of plants elk eat, and predation of elk calves by grizzly bears have also probably contributed.

Montana legalized wolf hunting after the animal was taken off the endangered species list in 2008. But hunting of wolves won’t necessarily help the elk, and not just because only a few wolves have been taken so far, MacNulty says.

“It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,” he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.

Currently, MacNulty is working with a colleague at Michigan Technological University to “nail down,” or quantify, the effect on elk of wolf management that involves hunting. 

“We’re modeling wolf-elk dynamics and looking at how changes in wolf age structure affect elk numbers,” he says.


Photo: Courtesy Douglas Dance

Categories posted in: gray wolf,  wolf recovery, wolves under fire

Tags: gray wolf, wolf recovery, wolf research, senior wolves, MacNulty

“It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny”….

“Elephants are highly prized among trophy hunters who can pay £10,000 (approx.$16,500) or more for a kill.”

It turns out hunting animals may be more harmful than we thought,  especially trophy hunting.  It could be causing a kind of backward evolution, because the largest and most impressive animals, “prized” by hunters, are diminishing in some species, leading to a reduction in  size and other disturbing changes in the remaining animals.  In other words, the more robust members of certain species are disappearing, not by the process of “natural selection” but by hunting pressure. It’s as if hunters are selectively breeding animals in the wild by killing off the “trophy” animals, leaving the smaller and weaker individuals to breed.

Big horned sheep rams in Alberta, Canada have experienced a 25% decrease in horn size over the last thirty years. Being larger, with huge horns makes them a target for trophy hunters. It then follows the smaller sheep with less impressive horns, have more mating chances.

“Hunters frequently compare their role in the ecosystem to that of natural predators, some of which are disappearing throughout the world. The problem with that analogy is that, unlike hunters, natural predators target the small, the weak, and the sick. Hunters, on the other hand, tend to target the largest, strongest individuals with the largest hides, horns, tusks or antlers.”

It’s not just Big Horned sheep, elephants are also changing.

“Tusks used to make elephants fitter, as a weapon or a tool in foraging—until ivory became a precious commodity and having tusks got you killed. Then tuskless elephants, products of a genetic fluke, became the more consistent breeders and grew from around 2 percent among African elephants to more than 38 percent in one Zambian population, and 98 percent in a South African one. In Asia, where female elephants don’t have tusks to begin with, the proportion of tuskless elephants has more than doubled, to more than 90 percent in Sri Lanka. But there’s a cost to not having tusks. Tusked elephants, like the old dominant males on Ram Mountain, were “genetically ‘better’ individuals,” says Festa-Bianchet. “When you take them systematically out of the population for several years, you end up leaving essentially a bunch of losers doing the breeding.”

The effects that are taking place are difficult to link solely to hunting pressure @ this early stage because evolutionary changes happen so slowly but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or hundreds of years of evolution to observe what’s happening.  Trophy hunters target the “biggest and the best”, therefore there are fewer of these alpha animals to pass on their genetics.

 The solution is to err on the side of caution and ban trophy hunting entirely. It’s a cruel and heartless enterprise, there would be no down side to freeing animals from this torture.  It doesn’t belong in a civilized society and should  be eliminated for purely ethical reasons BUT if it’s actually upsetting the natural process and weakening animal species, then all the more reason to rid the world of it.

A 2009 Newsweek article explains it all. Hunters not only don’t play the same positive  role as apex predators, like the wolf and grizzly bear but may be the cause of a deadly reverse evolution.

It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny

Jan 2, 2009 7:00 PM EST

Researchers see ‘evolution in reverse’ as hunters kill off prized animals with the biggest antlers and pelts.

Some of the most iconic photographs of Teddy Roosevelt, one of the first conservationists in American politics, show the president posing companionably with the prizes of his trophy hunts. An elephant felled in Africa in 1909 points its tusks skyward; a Cape buffalo, crowned with horns in the shape of a handlebar mustache, slumps in a Kenyan swamp. In North America, he stalked deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and elk, which he called “lordly game” for their majestic antlers. What’s remarkable about these photographs is not that they depict a hunter who was also naturalist John Muir’s staunchest political ally. It’s that just 100 years after his expeditions, many of the kind of magnificent trophies he routinely captured are becoming rare.

Elk still range across parts of North America, but every hunting season brings a greater challenge to find the sought-after bull with a towering spread of antlers. Africa and Asia still have elephants, but Roosevelt would have regarded most of them as freaks, because they don’t have tusks. Researchers describe what’s happening as none other than the selection process that Darwin made famous: the fittest of a species survive to reproduce and pass along their traits to succeeding generations, while the traits of the unfit gradually disappear. Selective hunting—picking out individuals with the best horns or antlers, or the largest piece of hide—works in reverse: the evolutionary loser is not the small and defenseless, but the biggest and best-equipped to win mates or fend off attackers.

When hunting is severe enough to outstrip other threats to survival, the unsought, middling individuals make out better than the alpha animals, and the species changes. “Survival of the fittest” is still the rule, but the “fit” begin to look unlike what you might expect. And looks aren’t the only things changing: behavior adapts too, from how hunted animals act to how they reproduce. There’s nothing wrong with a species getting molded over time by new kinds of risk. But some experts believe problems arise when these changes make no evolutionary sense.

Ram Mountain in Alberta, Canada, is home to a population of bighorn sheep, whose most vulnerable individuals are males with thick, curving horns that give them a regal, Princess Leia look. In the course of 30 years of study, biologist Marco Festa-Bianchet of the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec found a roughly 25 percent decline in the size of these horns, and both male and female sheep getting smaller. There’s no mystery on Ram Mountain: male sheep with big horns tend to be larger and produce larger offspring. During the fall rut, or breeding season, these alpha rams mate more than any other males, by winning fights or thwarting other males’ access to their ewes. Their success, however, is contingent upon their surviving the two-month hunting season just before the rut, and in a strange way, they’re competing against their horns. Around the age of 4, their horn size makes them legal game—several years before their reproductive peak. That means smaller-horned males get far more opportunity to mate.

Other species are shrinking, too. Australia’s red kangaroo has become noticeably smaller as poachers target the largest animals for leather. The phenomenon has been most apparent in harvested fish: since fishing nets began capturing only fish of sufficient size in the 1980s, the Atlantic cod and salmon, several flounders and the northern pike have all propagated in miniature.

So what if fish or kangaroos are smaller? If being smaller is safer, this might be a successful adaptation for a hunted species. After all, ” ‘fitness’ is relative and transitory,” says Columbia University biologist Don Melnick, meaning that Darwinian natural selection has nothing to do with what’s good or bad, or the way things should be.

Read more:

“In the Shadows of the Congo Basin Forest, Elephants Fall to the Illegal Ivory Trade”

Top Photo: Christophe Morio/Africahunting
Bottom Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Trophy Hunting
Tags: Hunting pressure, species evolution in reverse, small is better, hunted animals, damage done by trophy hunting

Worshiping The Elk God…

Somewhere along the way wildlife managers decided that certain animals were vastly more important than others, none more than elk.  Beautiful creatures they are but the  fixation with elk borders on obsession. Organizations are dedicated to it.  Entire state game agencies are devoted to maintaining elk populations over any other animal.  Hunters spend millions on hunting tags, high-powered rifles, ammunition, etc. to pursue this animal.  The elk is king in the West, to the detriment of the wolf.

Wolves are considered pests that must be controlled to protect elk.  Wolves are the competition so they are destroyed. Wolves are counted as numbers, numbers of packs, numbers of wolves, numbers of dead wolves,  numbers of wolves depredating on livestock, numbers of wolves inhabiting Yellowstone, numbers of wolves inhabiting Glacier, numbers of alpha wolves killed, numbers of wolf pups killed.  I have yet to read anything from state game agencies about the effects the hunts are having on wolf social structure, the loss of alphas, the killing of wolf pups, the killing of entire wolf packs and the subsequent loss of their DNA.  No it’s always about elk.

It’s always about elk.

Wolves don’t stuff elk heads and hang them on a wall, now do they?

In fact elk aren’t really gods, they are victims just like wolves.  Trophy hunters cry that elk are eaten by wolves, their natural prey, when hunters inflict terrible suffering and pain upon the mighty elk,  all in the name of  “sport”.

Wolves hunt to live, trophy hunters kill for the thrill.


The brutal bowhunting of Elk in Skagit County shocked and outraged the public

Click here to watch on YouTube. It’s so horrific its age restricted.


Baby Elk cries for mom after being shot by bowhunter 3 times as mother watches helplessly

Who’s the brutal killer?


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Videos: Courtesy of YouTube

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Slob Hunters

Tags: Elk, Elk, Elk, Elk, dead Elk, dead Elk, dead Elk

Published in: on June 23, 2012 at 3:36 am  Comments (32)  



I’m in a spiritual mood these days, dead wolves haunt my thoughts.  I’m sick of begging the states, they don’t care what we think and don’t listen to what we say.

Wolves must be relisted, it’s their only hope or this endless hunting season will go on and on. It’s each and every wolf advocates job to find a way to end this madness. Think about it. Are we just going to take it or will we work to stop it?

There’s blood on my keyboard. I’m battle weary but I’m not going to give up, are you?


Posted in: Wolf Wars

Video: Courtesy YouTube Enya

Photo: New Mexico Fish and Game

Tags: Relist wolves, Adiemus

Published in: on June 22, 2012 at 4:54 am  Comments (60)  
Tags: ,

Sacred Spirit…

A-La-Ke || Wolf



Native American Chant


Videos Courtesy YouTube

Top Photo: Courtesy Sacred Spirit

Middle Photo: First Nations

Posted in: Spiritual, gray wolf

Tags: Sacred Spirit, gray wolf, Native American

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 12:44 am  Comments (16)  

Remember The Druids..


June 14, 2012

They are gone, the most famous wolf pack to roam Yellowstone National Park, brought down by the mange mite, which was introduced by the state of Montana in the early 1900’s, to decimate wolves.  Almost a century later they claimed the once mighty Druids.

 The Druid Peak Pack  IS the story of  wolf reintroduction and sadly their brother wolves, outside the park, are being hunted and persecuted. The very purpose of wolf reintroduction was to restore these magnificent animals to their rightful home, after they were exterminated in all but small pockets living in Minnesota. Almost every wolf in the lower 48 was gone by the 1930’s.

The ESA was signed by President Nixon in 1973, giving wolves the protection they needed to make a comeback.  Slowly, in the late seventies/ early eighties wolves returned to Northwest Montana and Glacier National Park.  After a protracted battle wolves were reintroduced to their former habitat in Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho in 1995, 1996. We were all ecstatic. The great canine was back.

Sadly the loss of the Druids is a metaphor for their wolf brothers who are being subjected to brutal state management, after the Obama administration removed their Endangered Species Protections, twice in three years, with the help of the US Senate. Wolves were sold out for Jon Tester’s Senate seat, so Democrats could hold onto their majority in the Senate. If that wasn’t bad enough the dreaded wolf delisting/budget rider included the clause  “no judicial review”. Because of that betrayal wolves  have literally no protections and are at the mercy of their enemies, state management.

We can’t  allow the mistakes of the past to become the reality of the present. Wolves must be relisted, their ESA protections restored,  before they too will go the way of the once powerful and beloved Druids.

Please sign the petition on the right side bar.


gray wolf

Yellowstone National Park, Collared Druid

Video: Courtesy YouTube BBC Documentary

Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Endangered Species Act, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: Druid Peak Pack, ESA, President Nixon, gray wolf

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 5:23 am  Comments (18)  

Kalispell Hearing Today on Wolf Trapping Proposal and Other Bad Stuff….

A charade is playing out today in Kalispell, Montana, where the last of the hearings on the 2012/2013 wolf killing proposals will be held by Montana FWP. They want to trap wolves, abolish quotas in the state and well, kill lots of wolves.

From the Ravalli Repubic

Trapping wolves, allowing the taking of up to three wolves, using electronic calls, lengthening the hunt and eliminating quotas are among the proposals to be introduced at Thursday’s Wednesday’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting.

Read the gory details here.

These are the “objectives” for decimating the wolf population, taken from the Montana FWP website. My comments are in blue.

1. Maintain a viable and connected wolf population in Montana.
Translation: Kill more wolves.
2. Gain and maintain authority for State of Montana to manage wolves.
Translation: We can’t allow those wolves to live wild and free, now can we? 
3. Maintain positive and effective working relationships with livestock producers, hunters, and
other stakeholders.
Translation: Cater to the hunters and ranchers, the non-consumptive user be damned.

4a. Reduce wolf impacts on livestock.

Fact: In 2011, 74,800 Montana  cows were lost to non-predation,  including  Digestive problems, Respiratory problems, Metabolic problems, Mastitis, Lameness/injury, Other diseases, Weather, Calving problems, Poisoning, Theft, Other non-predator, Unknown non-predator while just 74 to wolves, out of a population of over 2 million cows. 

4b. Reduce wolf impacts on big game populations.
Fact: Elk populations  have remained stable in the state at 150,000 elk since 2009. That is a 66% increase since 1984, according to the RMEF 25th anniversary press release in 2009. 
4c. Maintain sustainable hunter opportunity for wolves.

Translation: Now we are getting to the real truth.

4d. Maintain sustainable hunter opportunity for ungulates.
Translation: See 4c
5. Increase broad public acceptance of sustainable harvest and hunter opportunity as part of
wolf conservation.
Translation: Wolf hunters want to kill wolves. The license fees are an added bonus.
6. Enhance open and effective communication to better inform decisions
Translation: Uh-huh
7. Learn and improve as we go.
Translation: Kill more wolves.


 Montana continues to claim they know how many wolves actually reside in the state when Jay Mallonee, a Montana wolf biologist with over twenty years experience studying canis lupus,  has repeatedly challenged them on this:

From Wolf and Wildlife Studies

“Management agencies have claimed that the recovery and public hunting of wolves is based in science. A review of their statistics demonstrated that data collection methods did not follow a scientific protocol which resulted in flawed and often incorrect data. Consequently, agencies do not know the total number of wolves in Montana, a major reference point used by wolf managers. Therefore, the quotas proposed for public wolf hunts are completely arbitrary, and management decisions in general have not been based on facts. This has produced a wolf management system that lacks scientific perspective and does not utilize what is known about the wolves’ role in sustaining healthy ecosystems. Instead, the absence of verifiable data suggests that management decisions are often based on opinion and politics rather than science.”

I’m sure the trapping and trophy hunting communities  will be well represented, chomping at the bit to make sure Montana allows them to kill, kill and kill more wolves, especially using the medieval torture device, the leg-hold trap.

I can pretty much guarantee that no matter what happens in Kalispell today wolves will be trapped and killed in the coming Montana 2012/2013 wolf witch hunt.


 Wolf Meeting Planned For Flathead


By Scott Zoltan

POSTED: 10:10 pm MDT June 10, 2012

KALISPELL, Mont. — On Wednesday it’s the Flathead’s turn to host a meeting on a proposed trapping season for wolves, and an extended general hunting season. There would also be no statewide quota under the proposed rules.

FWP is considering a general season that would run from September 1 to February 28 in 2013. There would be quotas set up in two areas near Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

Hunters would still have to report harvests within 24 hours, and the FWP would reserve the ability to shut down the season in certain areas to prevent overharvest.

FWP officials have already held meetings in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula and Great Falls, but they’re still hoping for a large turnout at Kalispell’s meeting.

“It’s really important that people do get their voices heard,” said FWP Spokesman John Fraley.

The open-house meeting will start at 7:00 pm on Wednesday at the Flathead Valley Community College Arts and Technology building.


Photo: Courtesy WordPress blog 39,500 miles later

Photo: Courtesy Ann Sydow Wolf People Pup

Posted in: trapped wolves, Montana wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: killing wolves, stop killing wolves, quit killing wolves, wolf killing

Wolf People Pup

Little Wolf Pup Going to Captive Home and I’m Not Sorry…

Wolf pup found by campers in Idaho (Photo Courtesy Idaho Mountain Express)

It sounds like a warm and fuzzy story. A little wolf was  found by campers in Idaho. Thinking he was a dog pup, his rescuers took him to a vet for a check-up,  were it was discovered this was canis lupus and not canis lupus familiaris. A search then ensued to find the  little guy’s  family.

Of course  wolf pups belong with their families but not in Idaho. This little pup has  no future there and until wolves are relisted and once again protected under the ESA, I don’t see any reason to return him to the nightmare of Idaho. His chances of surviving the coming 2012 wolf hunt are pretty slim. Wolf pup mortality is high as  a matter of course, throw in the hate and evil directed at innocent wolves in the state, there is only one conclusion, this pup is better off in captivity.

I never imagined myself saying this three years ago but who knew how depraved the situation would become? As I type this, pups just like him,  are fair game in Idaho’s  Selway and Lolo zones, where the hunt continues through June 2012. They can be killed along with their parents and pack-mates, so to pretend reuniting him with his family would result in a happy ending, is an exercise in denial.

I found it highly hypocritical that  IDFG is searching for captive sites for this pup when they are allowing hunters to kill wolf pups  in another areas of the state.

So fair well sweet boy, you could have had a normal life as a wild wolf but the circumstances in Idaho are so detrimental to wolves you will at least be able to survive in captivity, which although it’s  not ideal at least it’s safe. Sadly you’ll never experience a hunt, or see your parents again or start a family of your own, I wish things were different.  In a perfect world you would have found your family and lived happily ever after but Idaho is one of the worst places on earth for wolves and the campers who  found you saved your young life.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Options close for found wolf pup

Fish and Game searching for captive sites

Express Staff Writer

A wolf pup found near Ketchum on Memorial Day weekend is recovering at Zoo Boise as a wolf advocacy group searches for its pack and state wildlife officials search for options for captivity.



Wolf pup photo: Courtesy IDFG

Posted in: Wolf Wars, gray wolf

Tags: rescued wolf pup, Idaho. IDFG, wolves not safe in Idaho, Boise Zoo, Lolo, Selway

In the Company of Wolves – To all Wolves

I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an Earth warrior.  ~Darryl Cherney, quoted in Smithsonian, April 1990

Romeo Sweet Romeo


Video: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy John Hyde

Posted in: biodiversity, gray wolf

Tags: magnificent wolves, respect the earth, love god’s creatures, stop the hate, stop killing wolves

Game of Thrones Dire Wolves

Bran Stark’s Dire Wolf Summer

I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones and love the Stark children’s Dire wolves Shaggy Dog, Summer, Grey Wind, Lady, Nymeria and Ghost.

Sunday was the finale of GoT and the show won’t be back until  Spring 2013 ):  A little escapism is a good thing!

Dire wolf pups rescued by the Starks after their mother was killed by a stag

GoT used Northern Inuit dog pups until the wolves grew up and then switched to gigantic CGI wolves. They are scene stealers, every time they appear you can’t take your eyes off them.

Rob Stark’s Dire Wolf Grey Wind

Jon Snow’s Dire Wolf Ghost

Can’t wait to see more of  these amazing wolves next season (sadly Lady was killed and now there are only five wolves.)




Photos: Fanpop

Posted in: The Dire Wolf

Tags: Dire wolves, Game of Thrones, Stark Family, Grey Wind, Summer, Lady, Ghost, Nymeria, Shaggy Dog

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 2:37 am  Comments (20)  
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