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.

BUT

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

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

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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.

or

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

Who’s the brutal killer?

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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)  
Tags:

“Only One In Ten Wolf Hunts Is Successful”……David Attenborough

This is a clip from the BBC with famed naturalist David Attenborough practicing his excellent wolf howl AND the wolves answer back. You’ll see the wolves rally and set off on their hunt.

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Video: BBC Life of Mammals

Posted in: gray wolf, biodiversity

Tags: gray wolf, apex predator, elk, wolves work hard for a meal, David Attenborough

Don’t Blame Wolves for Elk Deaths by Doris Lin

This article highlights the hypocrisy of blaming wolves for elk population fluctuations.  Elk and wolves have co-existed together for millenia. The elk owes its fleetness of foot to the wolves’ tooth. For selfish humans to deny wolves their right to eat,  is the ultimate in self centeredness.

Many human hunters kill elk and then blame wolves if elk numbers dip. They expect fish and game agencies to keep elk numbers elevated, making it easier to hunt them. Competing with the wolf is  something they won’t tolerate. In turn wolves are persecuted and killed to accommodate  a small group of people, decreasing wildlife advocates ability to view wild wolves. We need a major change in wildlife “management”.  It makes no sense that a minority of hunters should be catered to over the rest of the population.

Wolves cull the weak, sick and old ungulates, that’s how they keep elk and deer herds healthy.  It’s why we have predators. Wolves are opportunists and occasionally kill healthy animals but the norm is to go after the least difficult prey. What would you rather do, battle a bull elk in its prime or chase an old cow elk?

On the other hand, human hunters stalk trophy animals, the big bulls, the best of the herd. They can do this because of superior technology as in  high-powered rifles with scopes. Hardly fair chase. Not even close. Wolves don’t possess guns or high-tech bows, they use their  natural hunting skills they were born with.  An uncanny sense of smell, legendary endurance, ground-eating speed, close cooperation with their packmates, all combined with their remarkable intelligence.  Quite the package.

Wolves hunt to live. Most humans hunt for sport, the meat is secondary IMO.  Hunting is an expensive exercise. You have to buy special clothing, expensive guns and ammo, tags and licenses, own a sound rig with four-wheel drive, you may have to take some time off from work, etc. It’s not a poor man’s sport.

Who does more damage to ungulate herd health, wolf or man? I think we know the answer.

“Last year, Idaho Fish and Game wanted to kill 40-50 wolves in their Lolo zone because of their perceived effects on the elk population, yet they offered 1,492 elk hunting permits for that same zone.”

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Don’t Blame Wolves for Elk Deaths

By Doris Lin, About.com Guide   June 1, 2011

A new study confirms what animal advocates have been saying all along: Don’t blame the wolves for killing elk. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game conducted studies on collared elk in 11 study areas, and examined the causes of death. According to the Times-News, “Though statewide numbers have dropped some, claims that wolves are wholly responsible for declining elk populations aren’t holding up . . . Biologists found that wolves killed significant numbers of collared elk in only one area.” What were the other causes of death? Severe weather, bears, cougars, and hunters. In two of the 11 study areas, hunters were the number one elk killers.

http://animalrights.about.com/b/2011/06/01/dont-blame-wolves-for-elk-deaths.htm#commentform

Photo: Courtesy Caninest Flickr Commons

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: elk, gray wolves, human hunters,  wolf myths

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm  Comments (14)  
Tags: , , ,

Stop The Presses….Wolves Aren’t Killing All The Elk in Idaho or Anywhere Else For That Matter!

 

Later, man (Photo Courtesy Flickr Sigma Eye)

UPDATE: I was ready to post this on August 5th but the relisting news broke the same day and that trumped everything.  It’s a little dated but still timely. 

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Stop the presses. IDFG recently released a study confirming what we already knew, wolves aren’t killing all the elk in Idaho. Now I can sleep at night. I was tossing and turning trying to figure out why or how a predator would kill off its prey base?

This is not news to wolf advocates. After all, if wolves ate all the elk in Idaho they’d be leaving Idaho in droves, dispersing to other states to eat all their elk. See how this works? Eventually they would travel the country wiping out ungulates everywhere. Once every last deer and elk were gone the wolves would be forced to return to GINORMOUS Canadian wolf land, where I suppose those wolves  haven’t eaten all the elk for some unknown reason? 

Of course I’m kidding but the hysteria surrounding this issue has been staggering. Hunters act like wolves are the only predators in the forest. It seems they’ve selectively forgotten the deadliest predator of all,  THEMSELVES.  In my opinion human hunters role in the decline of some elk populations has been understated. It’s just too politically incorrect for any politician or state game agency to infer that hunters kill lots of ungulates. Not only do they kill a large number of them but they go after the best and the biggest elk and deer. Wolves OTOH, cull the weak, sick and old. Yes they occasionally kill healthy animals but wolves are opportunistic hunters.  They don’t own high-powered rifles with scopes or  fancy hunting gear, wolves are fed by their feet , as the famous quote goes. They have to work very hard for a meal. When wolves chase down elk, deer or moose there is the potential for a flying  hoof making contact with any part of their body. Many wolves suffer crippling injuries or fatal ones while hunting.  If anyone deserves to hunt it’s the wolf.  To continually be called on to defend wolves for doing what they were put on this earth to do is ridiculous.  As long as we’re talking about elk we’re not talking about wolves.

From the Times News, Magicvalley.com:

“……the report showed that hunters were the biggest cause of elk kills in two other areas with declining populations: the Pioneer zone east of Ketchum, and Island Park near Rexburg. In the Island Park zone, hunters killed 17 percent of collared elk while wolves killed none.”

So there you have it, hunters actually contribute to prey declines. What shocking news….NOT!

State game agencies exist to “manage” wildlife, meaning lots of deer, elk and moose but few wolves, bears, lions and coyotes .

That’s how it works, it’s called “Wildlife Management” and it’s turning our forests into zoos. There is nothing natural about artificially high numbers of one animal over another, manipulating our wildlife for their own purposes which are:

• Money for state game agencies from licensing fees.

• Lots of animals for hunters to kill.

What about the wants and needs of over ninety percent of Americans that don’t hunt?  Well my friends, as you may have guessed, we don’t count. 

I noticed the study didn’t fail to mention the six elk lost to wolves in the LOLO zone.

“Biologists found that wolves killed significant numbers of collared elk in only one area, the Lolo zone along U.S. Highway 12 in north Idaho. Over the three years, the report claims wolves killed 20 percent of the Lolo sample, or about six elk. Three-quarters of the collared elk survived, less than Fish and Game’s survival goal of 88 percent.”

Of course they aren’t trying to justify IDFG’s recent edict allowing four outfitters to kill up to five wolves each in the LOLO.  No not at all.  I think the outfitters only managed to kill five poor wolves, who were just minding their own business, after having survived the brutal Idaho hunts, that didn’t end until March 31, 2010. Just to refresh everyone’s memory the Idaho wolf hunt lasted seven long months, right through wolf breeding and denning season but I digress.

Well at least they admitted the LOLO elk  herd was sinking long before wolves were ever reintroduced to Idaho. And finally someone mentioned the severe winter of 96/97, which anyone living in Idaho and Montana knows about. There was so much snow people’s roofs were collapsing. It wiped out the white tail deer in Montana and had the same effect on deer and elk in Idaho.

“White said deteriorating habitat in the Lolo zone has contributed to declining elk numbers since at least 1988, before wolves entered the picture. The population dropped by 40 percent during the severe winter of 1996-97 alone. Bears and cougars also kill many elk. Just across the border, Montana biologists are starting a similar collaring study in Ravalli County, where one factor of elk decline may be high human population growth.

The report said wolves caused the highest number of deaths in two other areas with declining populations. But in the Smoky Mountain zone west of Ketchum, where wolves were said to have killed 5 percent of about 30 collared elk, other predators and hunters together killed 7 percent. The Sawtooth zone, west of Stanley, had similar results.

Conversely, the report showed that hunters were the biggest cause of elk kills in two other areas with declining populations: the Pioneer zone east of Ketchum, and Island Park near Rexburg. In the Island Park zone, hunters killed 17 percent of collared elk while wolves killed none.”

Maybe if  they stopped killing wolves and other predators things wouldn’t be so out of whack. And it is out of whack because our forests and wild lands are not meant to have elevated numbers of one animal over the other. The states decide who the good and bad animals are.  The good animals are the ones that hunters pay to shoot, the bad animals are the ones that compete with hunters for the same prey.  Since wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes don’t pay licensing fees or vote, they are expendable. 

We can’t let anything get in the way of artificially boosting ungulate numbers for profit, now can we?

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F&G: Wolves not causing most elk losses

Saturday, July 31, 2010 1:20 am

http://magicvalley.com/news/local/wood-river/article_64d3fe91-1afd-5794-b5a0-62129c6f11ca.html

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Photo: Later, man (Photo Courtesy Flickr Sigma Eye)

Posted in: Idaho wolves, Howling For Justice

Tags: elk study,  hunting, wolf hysteria,

 

Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 2:29 am  Comments (14)  
Tags: , , , , ,

About Elk….

This is a repost from 2009, it could have been written yesterday. We’re still stuck in the same paradigm as we were three 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 millenia.

“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,”

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.

BUT

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 December 3, 2009 at 1:57 am  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , ,
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