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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, March 26, 2012

A good friend helps us follow up from yesterdays Post on the complete disregard of scientific protocol being adhered to by the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Commision regarding its management of Wolves--IGNORING THEIR OWN BIOLOGISTS FINDINGS ON HOW MANY WOLVES EXISTED IN THE STATE PRIOR TO BLASTING THEM AWAY THIS PAST AUTUMN AND WINTER--An autocratic Commission instituting policy that has nothing to do with reality!

Ken Cole says:  (From Ralph Maughan's website)
I sent this message to Commissioner McDermott and Director Moore this evening. I cc'd Brian Kelly of the USFWS as well.
Dear Commissioner McDermott and Director Moore,
The other night, before accepting testimony of the public at the Commission meeting, Commissioner McDermott asserted to me and the rest of the public attending the meeting that there were 1200-1600 wolves in Idaho and at least 250 wolves in the Panhandle Region alone.  I would again like to reassert my strong concern about these comments and ask you to provide any documentation for these assertions.
I have examined the most recent annual report issued by your own department which states that the year-end estimate for 2011 was 746 wolves.

  Since the end of 2011 there have been an additional 167 wolves killed in the hunt, 17 others killed illegally (3) or by the cooperative efforts of IDFG and WS (14),  and presumably several more have died and have not been documented.  This additional mortality lowers this number to somewhere below 562 wolves.

Contained on page 93 the 2011 annual report, issued by your own department, is an explanation of how the estimate is derived.
From 1996 until 2005, wolf populations were counted using a total count technique that was quite accurate when wolf numbers were low and most had radiocollars. Since then, we have used an estimation technique that is more applicable to a larger population that is more difficult to monitor. This technique has been peer reviewed by the University of Idaho and northern Rocky Mountain wolf managers. This technique bypasses the need to count pups in every pack, and instead relies on documented packs, mean pack size (from number of wolves detected for those packs where counts were considered complete), number of wolves documented in small groups not considered packs, and a percentage of the population presumed to be lone wolves.

This technique differs slightly than that used since we initiated this estimation method, in that beginning in 2010 we used a total count of wolves for those packs where we had a high degree of confidence that we observed all pack members, and applied the mean pack size (statistical mean is used when number of packs with complete counts ≥20, otherwise median pack size is applied) to the remaining packs (with incomplete counts), rather than using the mean or median pack size for all packs. Mathematically this technique is represented as: 
 Minimum Wolf Population Estimate = [# Wolves counted in documented packs with complete count + (# Documented packs lacking complete count * mean [or median] pack size) + (# Wolves in other documented wolf groups of size >2)] * (lone wolf factor) 
# Wolves counted in documented packs with complete count = 109 
# Documented packs lacking complete count = 85 
the number of documented packs that were extant at the end of 2011 was 101, 
complete pack size counts were obtained on 16 of them, leaving 85 packs with counts that 
were presumed incomplete, 
Median pack size = 6.5 
median pack size was calculated using only those packs (= 16) for which complete pack counts were obtained in 2011, 
# Wolves in other documented wolf groups of size >2 = 2 
"total count" for those radiocollared wolves in groups of 2-3 wolves that were not 
considered packs under our definition, 
lone wolf factor = 12.5% 
a mid value from a range derived from 5 peer-reviewed studies and 4 non-reviewed papers 
from studies that occurred in North America and were summarized and reported in 2003 
(Mech and Boitani 2003, page 170). 
Using this technique, the 2011 wolf population estimate is 746 wolves, a decrease of ~4% from the 2010 corrected wolf population estimate: 
((109 + (85 * 6.5) + (2)) * 1.125 
(109 + (552) + (2)) * 1.125 
(663) * 1.125 = 746 

As you recall, I challenged Commissioner McDermott on the assertions he made to the public and we had what could be termed as a heated discussion. Please refer me to any documentation that explains your asserted 200-300% increase in the estimated number of wolves in Idaho.  I am at a loss to find this information anywhere on the Idaho Fish and Game website.  I was, however, able to find an article published on March 8, 2012 in which the IDFG big game biologist, Jon Rachael was quoted as saying there were approximately 577 wolves in the state.

I have been tracking the progress of the wolf hunting and trapping numbers in Idaho in a spreadsheet and assembled a graph to illustrate the various sources of mortality that has been reported publicly.  Surely the mortality that has been reported is an underestimate which does not account for undocumented mortality due to natural or illegal killing of wolves.  I would hazard to guess that the actual number of wolves killed since April of 2011 is in the range of 550 rather than the reported 480 or so.

I think it is highly unprofessional that you seem to disregard the judgements of your own staff about the number of wolves in Idaho.  More concerning is that you seem to believe these assertions and base your management decisions on totally unsubstantiated numbers.  I am disheartened that you have increased harvest in many parts of the state and, along with the rest of the Commission, have chosen to completely disregard the concerns that many citizens expressed at Wednesday night's meeting.

It appears that Idaho doesn't even need to pay our highly skilled biologists to count wolves and conduct monitoring because we now have commissioners who can pull an estimate out of their back pocket and make management decisions based on those estimates.

Again, please refer me to the valid estimates of wolf populations made using peer reviewed protocols which substantiate the claims made to the public on Wednesday night.

I look forward to your early reply.

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