Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

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

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tireless in his efforts to educate the Public regarding the truth about how Wolves, Pumas, Bears and other Carnivores increase the health of our land, Ecologist George Wuerthner penned a bullet proof rebuttal to the bold face lies featured in a recent HERALD AND NEWS newspaper column describing the supposed atrocities committed by Wolves in Washingotn State, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming----Happy Easter to you George and "cheers" for your "no spin" "take-it-to-em" letter

From: George Wuerthner <>
Date: April 17, 2014, 1:40:51 PM PDT
Subject: response to Paul Clark misinformation about wolves

Dear Mr. O'Brien, I hope you can publish this counter editorial to the recent Herald and News editorial by Paul Clark. I previously sent you a photo, but can send you one again if needed. Thank you in advance. 

To the Editor:

I'd like to respond to the misinformation in Paul Clark's guest column n the H and N April 14th which focused primarily on wolves and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

As background I have participated in studies on wolves, worked as a hunting guide in Montana, and lived for many years adjacent to Yellowstone NP where wolves were reintroduced in 1995 so have much familiarity with both wolf ecology as well as the specific landscapes that Clark mentions in his editorial. 

Clark says wolves have "devastated" ranchers, as well as elk, deer, and other big game populations in Montana, Idaho and Wyomng. Perhaps Mr. Clark should go directly to the state wildlife agencies for his numbers. In 1992 according to the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, there were an estimated 89,000 elk in the state. Wolves were restored to Yellowstone and Central Idaho in 1995. From these transplants as well as natural recolonization wolves spread throughout Montana so by 2013 there were about 600 plus wolves in Montana. And today the "devastated" elk herd has nearly doubled to 150,000 animals.

In fact, out of 127 elk management units in Montana, 68 were "over objectives" meaning the wildlife agency considered the herds too large for the carrying capacity. Some 47 were meeting objectives, and only 12 were below objectives, and the reasons for a few areas not meeting objectives were not only due to wolves. For instance, in one well known instance of the southern Bitterroot Valley where elk numbers had declined,  MDFWP readily admits it permitted hunters to kill too many cow elk which led to a depressed elk population. Wolves had nothing to do with the low elk recruitment. 

Similar statistics are available for Idaho and Wyoming. In 2013 Wyoming elk hunters killed the second greatest number of elk in history, with the previous year, 2012 the highest kill ever recorded. Indeed, elk hunters had a 45% success rate, a slight decline from the 46% success in 2012. Apparently Wyoming hunters must be killing imaginary elk because according to Mr. Clark all those Wyoming wolves are "devastating" the Wyoming elk herds. Check out this video from the Wyoming Fish and Game bragging about the high hunter success rate in 2012.

This is not to suggest that wolves and other predators don't occasionally cause big game numbers to decline, but such decline is typically in combination with other factors like habitat quality losses. For instance, in a well known instance, elk herds in the Lolo Pass area of Idaho have declined because of forest recovery after large wildfires earlier in the century that had previously created a lot favorable browse for elk. Due to fire suppression forests have replaced the shrubs that used to support larger elk populations. In essence elk numbers had to decline and were already well in decline in this area long before wolves recolonized it. 

As for "devastation of the livestock industry, again perspective is needed. Sure wolves will occasionally kill livestock. But it's hardly "devastating" the livestock industry. I will again use Montana statistics since I am very familiar with the issue in that state. In 2013 documented wolf kills accounted for a total of 60 cattle out of a total state-wide population of 2.5 million cattle. To suggest that the loss of less than a hundred cattle across a huge state like Montana is devastating the livestock industry borders on hyperbole.Check out the statistics yourself at Montana Dept of Livestock web site. Again similar small losses were reported in other states with wolves. 

Even Clark's use of reported wolf losses across the entire country requires context. First, the statistics he uses are "self reported" losses, not documented losses. As many experts will attest, many reported predator losses are due to other factors, and ranchers tend to exaggerate and/or blame predators for losses that have other explanations. But even if we take Clark's and the rancher's numbers at face value, the loss of 8,000 cattle presumably lost to wolves is from a nation-wide cattle herd that numbers close to 100 million animals. Again the loss of 8000 cattle to wolves out of a total of 100 million animals cannot be considered "devastation" by any stretch of the imagination. 

That is not to suggest any loss to an individual might not be traumatic, but many other factors including disease, calving problems, and poison plants kill more cattle than wolves. Even domestic dogs kill three times as many cattle as wolves across the nation. So again perspective is needed to understand and put Clark's numbers in context. 

The point is that wolves have not "devastated" big game herds. Hunter success has continued to be high in most places, and the livestock industry is hardly threatened by wolf depredation. 

Author's bio: George Wuerthner is an ecologist who specializes in predator ecology among other areas. He has published 37 books on environmental and natural history topics. He is a former resident of Livingston Montana adjacent to Yellowstone NP, and holds an outfitting license in the park. 

George Wuerthner
POB 8359
Bend, OR 97708

No comments: