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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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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Are Wolves a Rancher scapegoat or business-killing depredation agent in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming?..........The first article below reflects the Journalist not doing enough homework to write a "fair and balanced" article............One comes away feeling that Colorado Ranchers truly have every right to perpetuate the "Big Bad Wolf" cartoon story that states that "the only good wolf is a dead wolf".............Had the author done further research, she would know that disease, old age, poison, weather and other non-predator causes of death are twice as likely to kill sheep in Idaho and Montana as the entire predator suite of Wolves, Coyotes, Bobcats, Bears, Eagles, Foxes, Pumas and domestic dogs..............In Wyoming, the entire predator suite kills slightly less than all the now-predator causes of sheep death...........And noted biologist Robert Wielgus in his 2014 report entitled: "Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations" reveals that killing less than 25% of Wolves in a given livestock producing region might actually lead to an increase in Wolf predation of Livestock in succeeding years.............."Below 25% mortality, lethal control may increase breeding pairs and wolves through social disruption and compensatory, density dependent effects"............. "For example, wolf control efforts occur year round and often peak during grazing season in areas with livestock depredations"..............."However, if control takes place during the breeding season and a member of the breeding pair is removed it may lead to pack instability and increased breeding pairs"............"Furthermore, loss of a breeder in a pack during or near breeding season can result in dissolution of territorial social groups, smaller pack sizes and compensatory density dependent effects – such as increased per-capita reproduction"............. "Culling of wolves may also cause frequent breeder turnover and related social disruption – which can result in reduced effective prey use (through loss of knowledge of prey sources and ability to subdue prey) which may also result in increased livestock depredations"............... "All of these effects could potentially result in increased livestock depredations"...................... While the Colorado Parks and Wildife folks have thus far caved to the polictical whims of the Rancher Community as it relates to re-introducing Wolves, it is my hope is that natural re-introduction from both Arizona/New Mexico as well as Idaho, Montana and Wyoming becomes a reality soon........... Just as Oregon/Washington State and now California have Wolves back on the ground via Wolves pushing out and "prospecting" from Montana/Idaho/Wyoming to find their own territory and mates, so may Colorado witness this same phenomena

Wolves knocking on Colorado boundaries

Traci Eatherton;12/29/17
Colorado producers and sportsman may be stomping on the brake pedal on wolf reintroduction, but state officials say the reality is, Colorado already has wolves.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphot

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has restored gray wolves into Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona, and it is believed wolves have begun to migrate into Colorado from both the north and south.
Wolves obviously don't adhere to state boundaries, or government boundaries for that matter, and those released in the parks have territories as large as 50 square miles, but they may even extend up to 1,000 square miles in areas where prey is scarce, according to USFWS. Wolves often cover large areas to hunt, traveling as far as 30 miles a day. Although they trot along at 5 mph, wolves can attain speeds as high as 40 mph.
To prepare for any wolf migrations into Colorado, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in 2005, set up a multi-disciplinary work group that drafted a Wolf Management Plan. The Mexican wolf is a distinct subspecies of wolf. It is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Therefore, it is under the management authority of the USFWS. Which means the self-imposed wolf management plan of shoot, shovel and shut up is not a good idea, according to game officials.
“I guess they don’t consider hunting itself acting as a predator, instead of wolves. They haven’t considered that thousands of hunters get in the woods every year to bag an elk or deer, and they haven’t considered that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife monitor herd populations closely and prescribe the amount of available tags accordingly.”
 According to some history books, prior to the eradication of wolves, the animals turned to livestock for food, only after hunters over-killed the natural larger food sources, such as elk. Advocates for reintroducing wolves in the state, believe they are needed, in part to keep populations of elk in check. The suggestions have been met with considerable opposition from some ranchers.

But avid hunters argue that the game and fish manage big game populations through hunting, and the over $3 billion hunting industry the state boasts.
"I guess they don't consider hunting itself acting as a predator, instead of wolves. They haven't considered that thousands of hunters get in the woods every year to bag an elk or deer, and they haven't considered that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife monitor herd populations closely and prescribe the amount of available tags accordingly," a Fence Post reader shared.
"As a wilderness outfitter in the Frank Church — River of No Return Wilderness, I saw first-hand the devastation that follows these Apex predators," Tony Krekeler said. "The story about culling the sick out of the ungulate herds is a Disney fairy tale.
Killing sprees are common, especially in the winter months. Within two years, most wilderness outfitters sold out — there was nothing to hunt. Survival rates of elk calves making it to a yearling dropped to 6 to 8 percent. Even the federal biologists admit that that percentage needs to be in the mid 20 percent range for herds to remain static."

Wolf management needs to be a priority, whether the animals migrate or are reintroduced, according to Colorado ag producers, who contribute more than 40 billion to the state's economy annually.
In a recent meeting in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Sierra Club Wildlife Chair Delia Malone used the "trophic cascade" theory in her push for reintroduction. In a nut shell — the wolf-driven trophic cascade applies the domino effect, that the absence of the animal created an unhealthy change in the landscape, that included events such as elk overgrazing on willows and other low-land plants, and the reintroduction of the wolf, saved the landscape.
What Malone didn't have answers to, according to Jo Stanko, a rancher from the area, was the livestock issue.
"It's the ranchers that ultimately take the emotional brunt," Stanko said, sharing several stories involving producers losing animals to wolf predation.
"If the Sierra Club and these other organizations were honest, they would be forthright about their real goals — no hunting, no grazing, no using federal land, except for Patagonia apparel clad hikers and climbers," Krekeler said.
One story Stanko mentioned is hot in the social media pages currently, and involves elk.
"For everyone that doesn't want management this is what happens. We had 18 elk slaughtered by wolves on our feed-grounds in one night this week. 16 were calves that were not eaten at all. Killed and left for dead. The other were two pregnant cow elk. The wolves ripped the fetuses from the elk, most likely from signs, while they will still alive, to later die. Again, they did not eat the cows. 18 kills to eat two fetuses. This makes nearly 70 elk on our feed-grounds, alone this winter. We must use common sense, decency and real conversations to regulate this issue," is posted on the Facebook page of Idahoans for Liberty.
In March 2016, a Wyoming gray wolf pack killed 19 elk in a single night.
"Normally one or two elk a night here and there is no big deal, but 19 in one night is fairly rare," Wyoming Game and Fish Department supervisor John Lund told a local TV station.


In 2016, in Wyoming, wolves killed a record number of livestock and wildlife managers killed a record number of wolves.
A report released by the USFWS found that wolves killed 243 livestock, including 154 cattle, 88 sheep and one horse, in 2016. In 2015, 134 livestock deaths attributed to wolves were recorded. The previous record was 222 livestock killed in 2009.
As a result, wildlife managers killed 113 wolves in 2016 that were confirmed to be attacking livestock. In 2015, they killed 54 wolves. The state of Wyoming paid cattle and sheep producers $315,062 in compensation for livestock losses.
Communication will continue to be the key, according to Stanko, whether they are "introduced" or not.
"We need the tools to manage them," she added, pointing out that in Colorado, if a domestic dog can be shot for just "worrying livestock," it would make sense that a federally regulated cousin to the domestic dog, should fall under the same rules.
The majestic photos of beautiful wolves running through the snow is a bit romanticized, according to Sarah Smith, with the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, and doesn't take into consideration those who actually have to live with them.

A study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin analyzed three decades of U.S. and European public opinion polls and found that people with the most positive attitude toward wolves had the least direct experience with them, Smith said. "Which explains the divide in opinion between rural and urban Colorado."
"It is true that some surveys indicate many Coloradans support having wolves in our state," the Colorado Parks and Wildlife stated in a recently published article. "Unfortunately, the costs of living with predators are not borne by most of our citizens. Agricultural producers and sportsmen will bear the brunt of the cost."
For that reason, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted a resolution against a reintroduction.
CCA says there will be a high-level conflict between wolf populations and domestic livestock and the state's wildlife, not to mention risk for wolf and human contact, pointing out that states like Wyoming, where reintroduction efforts are being implemented, are already struggling with the conflicts, including reproduction losses and stress disorders. Plus, ranchers are not interested in compensation for livestock losses; their goal is to keep them alive.
"We are not raising these animals to be savagely killed by wolves, often for sport. So not only do these reimbursement programs not work, they are unwanted," CCA's Executive Vice President Terry Fankhauser said.
An article published in the Spokesman Review highlighted these exact concerns during an interview in 2013 with local Wyoming ranchers. One said when she "applied for compensation for a confirmed wolf kill from a Defenders of Wildlife Program, she got a letter back questioning whether the ranch was 'purposefully enticing the wolves.'" Another rancher in the area said that he started noticing wolves on his property seven years ago. Before the wolves appeared, he would usually lose a handful of calves every year to natural causes or black bears and now he's losing 25 calves. "Each calf is worth about $800. If wolves take 20, that's $16,000," he said.
Stories like these will become a scary reality for rural Colorado if the reintroduction is approved and it will not only affect the wellbeing of big game and production animals, but also pose a threat to the safety of family pets, opponents believe.
"As Valerius Geist, well-known big game biologist scolded Ed Bangs and the other USFWS service employees 20 years ago in Idaho, 'You (pointing to them with his finger) have opened Pandora's Box and you will see, that you cannot close it.' Meaning, once these wolves are released, they can never be controlled or removed," Krekeler said.

Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations

  • Published: December 3, 2014


Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, – but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987–2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year. The data were then analyzed using a negative binomial generalized linear model to test for the expected negative relationship between the number of livestock depredated in the current year and the number of wolves controlled the previous year.

We found that the number of livestock depredated was positively associated with the number of livestock and the number of breeding pairs. However, we also found that the number of livestock depredated the following year was positively, not negatively, associated with the number of wolves killed the previous year. The odds of livestock depredations increased 4% for sheep and 5–6% for cattle with increased wolf control - up until wolf mortality exceeded the mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves at 25%. Possible reasons for the increased livestock depredations at ≤25% mortality may be compensatory increased breeding pairs and numbers of wolves following increased mortality. After mortality exceeded 25%, the total number of breeding pairs, wolves, and livestock depredations declined. However, mortality rates exceeding 25% are unsustainable over the long term. Lethal control of individual depredating wolves may sometimes necessary to stop depredations in the near-term, but we recommend that non-lethal alternatives also be considered.


Livestock Losses


Myth:  Wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and others kill lots of cattle.
Truth:  Less than a quarter of one percent, 0.23%, of the American cattle inventory was lost to native carnivores and dogs in 2010, according to a Department of Agriculture report.
The government’s own data show that the real killers of cattle are not a few endangered wolves or other wildlife – it’s illness and weather.  Yet, the predation myth has directly contributed to a federal, 100-year, paramilitary assault on millions of native carnivores.
The livestock predation myth is a big lie imposed on the American public. While lethal predator control does little to help the fat cats of agribusiness, it ensures that the USDA-Wildlife Services stays in business. While the feds assault millions of our native wolves, bears, cougars, and coyotes, the true cattle killers are illness and weather.  The Wildlife Services’ lethal predator control program must end, and the taxpayers, wildlife, and wildlands will reap the benefits.

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