About Elk….

This is a repost from 2009 but I could have written it yesterday. We’re still stuck in the same paradigm we were 4 years ago. The only thing that’s changed is the viciousness of the campaign to exterminate the wolf.

December 3, 2009

The wolf debate has become intrinsically tied to elk numbers and endless conversations and arguments revolve around this subject. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trumpeted, in an April 09 press release, that wild elk populations were higher in twenty-three states  then they were twenty-five years ago, when the organization started.  YET, those facts don’t sit well with some people, who refuse to believe wolves aren’t decimating elk.  I can’t recall  how many times I’ve heard elk hunters say……Well elk may be thriving in one part of my state but their numbers are down in another area.  Or elk are harder to hunt….etc.  I agree elk are harder to hunt because they’re on high alert, acting more like, ELK.  They browse and move, browse and move. It makes hunting them more difficult but when you have a high-powered rifle and the advantage of surprise I’m not going to feel sorry if you don’t bag an elk.  It’s not the responsibility of wildlife viewers to be concerned about the success of elk hunters.

Wolf recovery and wolves presence in the Northern Rockies is not about elk hunters or hunting in general, although many people want it to be.  It’s about wolves fulfilling their role in our wild places. It’s about tolerance and allowing the wolf to be the wild animal, apex predator they are, to do their job in culling ungulates and making herds stronger, what they’ve been doing for millennia.

“The dance of life and death between predator and prey makes many of us uncomfortable, and yet, prey species are also benefiting from the return of the wolf. Unlike human hunters who target healthy adult animals, wolves cull the sick and elderly from elk, deer, moose and bison herds, reducing the spread of disease and keeping the prey population as a whole healthier.”

“It’s important to remember that predators and prey evolved in lockstep together over millions of years,”  Marin Humane Society

It’s also not about conducting polls to see if  hunters are happy with wolves, or whether hunters think there are enough elk. It may be important in their world but the majority of Americans don’t hunt.

US Fish & Wildlife 2006 figures report there were 12.5 million hunters nationally with expenditures of 22.9 billion dollars.


Wildlife Watchers numbered 71.1 million and generated 45.7 billion dollars. Does it make sense that wildlife watchers have so little input in how wildlife is managed, when wildlife viewers outnumber hunters by such a large margin and generate more revenue?

Wolves have been persecuted for well over a  hundred years in the West, they were exterminated once for ranching interests by the feds.  It wasn’t until the advent of the Endangered Species Act that wolves slowly began to recover. Now the ESA is being attacked, with threats to re-write it and exclude gray wolves. The war against wolves knows no bounds. This is a perfect example of why wolves must be protected against scapegoating and persecution.

It’s constantly repeated wolves were forced on Idaho and Montana by the reintroduction program in 1995 but wolves dispersed to Glacier National Park  long before they were brought back to Yellowstone and Central Idaho by the feds.

Almost any discussion about wolves is accompanied by a critique of elk or livestock. If by some miracle we could move past these two issues and realize the wolf is a top predator that has a role to play in nature.  If emotion was replaced with science that tells us the  disappearance of apex predators around the world is causing ecosystem collapse, the science that shows the benefit wolves bring to ecosystems they inhabit, we could make progress in ending this battle.

Don’t get me wrong, I like elk, they are beautiful creatures.  Of course I like my elk living and breathing but the material point is, it’s not about elk.  It’s about wolves and what’s in their interest. They’ve been so demonized but in reality wolves are animals, the direct ancestors of our beloved dogs.There is no reason to assign motives to their behavior.  They are doing what they were born to do.

Somehow the focus must be shifted from elk, hunting, ranching, livestock and outfitters to the benefit of having apex predators on the landscape.

The dialogue concerning elk declines or increases is irrelevant to most Americans. What’s important in nature is balance, not picking one species over another. By manipulating elk numbers state game agencies have elevated elk to a god like status, woe to any predator that dares to interfere with their mission. Their transparent dislike for wolves is palpable. Neither USFWS nor the states have shown the wolf any consideration, which is evident in the way they kill entire packs including puppies. As long as this outdated mindset continues to dominant “wildlife management”, where the only priority seems to be how many prey animals are available for hunters to kill, wolves will never be safe or any predator for that matter.  What will it take to deliver the message to tone-deaf “wildlife managers’? It’s not about elk.

Photos: Wikimedia Commons and kewlwallpapers.com

Posted in:  elk flourishing among wolves, biodiversity, Canis lupus

Tags: wolf recovery, dispersing wolves, wolf myths, elk

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 2:11 am  Comments (22)  
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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I totally agree with this. People need to stop blaming the wolves and look to their own species.


  2. excuse my french but fuck the elk!!


    • Blaming the elk makes no more sense than blaming the wolves. The elk are not to blame. They are, indeed, beautiful, and the preditor/prey relationship reveals the workings, often harsh, of nature. To admire and feel sympathy for the elk while not wanting to harm the wolves should not be a problem to anyone who sees both sides of the story.


  3. Bull shit numbers on behalf of your local DNR.


    • Per usual Sandy…



  4. What can we do but calling Obama’s hot line that seems to not help.His SOI will have a hard time being confirmed look what happened in Idaho.


    • Richie….We need to organize in real life, hold wolf advocacy conferences and organize our response to this onslaught. Social media is terrific but we need to do more. Talking is good but it has to be followed with action.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  5. Its says in a line above, “Prey Species are benefiting from the return of the wolf”. Its not about the hunters being happy.. Its about balance in nature and a place for these animals to live in peace without the interference of man taking control of there life and death. When will man finally wake up to the reality that wolves deserve a place in the wild side by side with the elk. Thanks for posting Nabeki..Good article..


  6. The hunters are the ones that are over hunting and then you have your poachers that are trophy hunting, we know that wolves and other predators are what keep the herds strong they are all important and play a vial roll. The most dangerous animal in the world and needs to be stopped is the human animal ( Man )


  7. I meant vital roll


  8. Can we form human shields to protect the wolves? In Wisconsin, we’ll need tranquilizer darts for the dogs so that no one of any species gets hurt. We can spring traps. cut snare wires and form human shields….let us protect the wolves Ghandi style….


    • Nikki, many others are with you in Sweden, reaserch the “Band of Mercy” and visit this website. We will protect our own.



      • Thanks, Dwayne, for the website link and encouragement…..the beautiful poem on the front page is by Percy Shelley (my late Mom’s favorite poet)….and the message resonates that we do have greater numbers than the hater/torture/killers and their legislative shills…..we are spread out geographically…..we really need to organize where the war is being waged/on the frontlines….spring traps, cut wires, and form human shields….I continue to pray for instant karma too! I left a message on Harry Reid’s FB page yesterday mentioning that the budget cut we need is to close wildlife services and stop the subsidies to big oil and that we haven’t forgotten the delisting rider and speficially mentioned what is going on in WI and WY and demanded that Wolves be relisted. I ended the post with STOP THE GENOCIDE! STOP AUSCHWITZ IN THE USA!


  9. Beautifully said, then, and now. Elk populations are a facade; nowhere near the real reason people slaughter (and enjoy slaughtering) wolves. The reason runs far deeper psychologically, and yet more simply too too. Fear and greed.


    • Exactly Jennifer!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  10. Hi! Could you put an urgent alert on your blog regarding the referendum in Michigan to reverse legislation that lists the wolf as a game species. This an emergency, since we have only 20 more days to reach our 225,000 signature goal. Or just look at our website in the subject line. We need a call to action to get more volunteers at events to gather signatures to stop this tragic wolf hunt from starting!


    Tracy Lynn Kalamazoo county volunteer and event coordinator

    Sent from my iPad


    • i happen to like elks as well as love wolves,the way i see it the elk is part of the canis lupas diet,normally the small or sickly ones of a herd.
      which in my opinion does not warrant the extermination of our beloved wolves,again just my opinion


  11. Remember that all through history,there have been tyrants and murderers. And for a time they seemed invinceable (sp?)
    But in the end they fall, they always fall, always.
    Mahot Magandie

    Thought this saying might help some sad wolf lovers.I know I am very sad. The death toll keeps going up and I feel as if my hands are tied.
    And the dieing are my friends. I mourn each and every wolf that loses
    his/her life,

    Also Nabeki, I need the author of “Black Elk Speaks”
    And have a book for you. “Build me an Ark” by Brenda Peterson. She uses an entire chapter about a “Wolf Summit ” convention in Alaska,in 1993, its a good read for animal lovers.
    Howl with your friends, Christy


  12. To: Howling For Justice >> Subject: http://www.keepwolvesprotected.com

    Hi! Could you put an urgent alert on your blog regarding the referendum in Michigan to reverse legislation that lists the wolf as a game species. This an emergency, since we have only 20 more days to reach our 225,000 signature goal.

    We need a call to action to get more volunteers at events to gather signatures to stop this tragic wolf hunt from starting! >> >> Thanks, >> >> Tracy Lynn >> Kalamazoo county volunteer and event coordinator


    • Hi Tracy,

      I’ll get something up for you soon. I removed your personal info to protect it. Everyone is doing such an amazing job in Michigan. I’ll do my best to help you.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  13. Reblogged this on Carinas space.


  14. I need the wolf around to kill the elk because the elk are killing my cattle too many sick and injured elk with the with disease and that disease is spreading the sickness is spreading I lose more cattle every year due to sick and diseased elk and deer don’t get me wrong I lose a few cattle every year due to wolves that is acceptable I find wolves to be a very beneficial part of my life raising cattle without them I would not be able to make a living as a cattle rancher


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