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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, May 11, 2015

Wolves have been shown not to be the limiting agent of Elk in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana much to the chagrin of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Lobo Watch, both groups seeking to minimize the population of our Wolf Packs in the Northern Rockies............George Wuerthner(Ecologist, Writer and Carnivore Expert) has supplied us with a wide canvass of links(below) reviewing Wolf impact on Elk in the Bitterroots as well as the dead-wrong wolf hating positions of the the RMEF and Lobo Watch.............

Subject: Elk up in Bitterroots--this is where RMEF and other wolf haters suggested wolves were destroying elk

FROM GEORGE WUERTHNER: "This is the area where a few years ago, there had been a decline in elk numbers which wolf haters like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Lobo Watch used as "exhibit A" to show how wolves were destroying elk herds. Interestingly MDFWP even admitted that high hunter cow elk removal was likely the culprit responsible for elk decline, along with habitat issues like excessive roads on FS lands. Their research showed little impact from wolves in this particular case (not that wolves can't have an (effect).
here's a video that blames predators for the elk decline and implies that without help elk would disappear from the Bitterroots. 
Here's some background on RMEF position on wolves and other predators. 
And Lobo Watch here.
May 09, 2015 3:36 pm  •  

Elk numbers in the Bitterroot Valley continue to grow.
After counting elk on 25 separate flights over a five-week period, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Rebecca Mowry’s final tally found 8,054 elk in the valley and surrounding mountains.
Last year, she counted 7,391 during the same flights.
“This is an actual count,” she said. “It’s what we saw. It’s not an estimation.”

The unusually dry spring and low snowpack did make the annual survey flight a little more challenging.
“The green-up this year was kind of weird,” Mowry said. “We had to search a little harder, especially for the bulls.”
With the lack of mid-level moisture, Mowry found that there was green grass down low where people could irrigate and up high near the snowline. In the mid-levels, there was very little green grass to attract elk.
“We had to redo some of the flights this year,” she said. “The elk just weren’t out.”
It was especially challenging in the West Fork of the Bitterroot where elk tended to be back in the timber an hour after sunrise.
“There’s not as much open space in the West Fork,” she said. “If feel like if we missed any elk, that would have been the place.”
With that said, Mowry did spot a good number of very nice bull elk in the West Fork.
“We saw some monsters out there,” she said. “Hunters should have some good bulls to pull from.”
Under the current regulations, there are only 25 permits available for hunting bull elk in the West Fork. Those regulations went into place several years ago after elk numbers dropped dramatically in the area.
While the overall numbers didn’t jump by much this year in the West Fork – 729 compared to last year’s 723 – Mowry said the ratio between bulls and cows is the highest it’s been since 2002. This year Mowry found 27 bulls for every 100 cows in the hunting district.
In comparison, Mowry counted 14 bulls for every 100 cows in the East Fork of the Bitterroot where more than half of the valley’s elk population resides.
She counted 4,323 elk in the East Fork this year. Last year, the numbers were 4,115.
The ratio between cows and calves was lower than the year before, but Mowry wasn’t surprised after last spring’s bumper crop of calves.
In the East Fork last year, she found 34 calves per 100 cows. This spring, that ratio had dropped to 25 per 100.
“A lot of those calves from last year are now yearlings,” she said. “They aren’t breeding yet. That can make the following year’s ratio artificially low.”
Valleywide, Mowry said the cow/calf ratio hovered between 25 to 30 calves per 100 cows.
Elsewhere around the valley, Mowry saw a marked increase in elk numbers in Hunting District 240, which runs between Lolo and Trapper creeks on the west side. Last year, she counted 760. This year, that number jumped to 955.
“In 240, I didn’t see as many bulls as I would have liked,” she said. “It could be that they had already migrated up into the canyons. I am hearing from a lot of people who say they’ve seen a decrease in bulls in 240.”
On the east side of the valley, in the hunting district that runs between Miller Creek and Burnt Fork, Mowry counted 981 elk, which is a 100 animal increase over last year.
Elk numbers in this area are higher than what the department would like to see.
“A lot of my game damage complaints come from hunting district 204,” she said. “We’re over objective there. When that happens, we typically start considering upping the antlerless harvest, but the problem is there’s so much private land there.”
There is a working group of citizens looking for a solution in that area.
The numbers of elk living on the river bottom are also continuing to grow. This year Mowry counted 224 elk in the river bottom. That’s up from 142 she saw last year and the 91 counted the year before that.
Currently, there is an archery only hunting season in the river bottom.
“We may need to try to do something different to impact that population,” she said.

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