Wolves Destroying Wildlife And Hunting Opportunities

Lobo Watch – by Toby Bridges

By 2002, the wolf population of the Greater Yellowstone Area had grown to 273, while the number of elk in the northern herd had dropped to around 12,000. During the spring of 2009, it was estimated that the area’s wolf population exceeded 450 animals. And due to the escalated depredation by ever growing wolf numbers, Yellowstone’s once wondrous northern elk herd had dwindled to 6,800 animals. The 2011 count has dropped to around 4,400 animals. Likewise, once thriving populations of deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats have also suffered a serious down turn in and around America’s greatest and most popular National Park.  

Within a few years of the initial release of those original 31 Canadian gray wolves into this wildlife rich environment, hunters and other sportsmen who enjoyed watching over the elk that wintered and calved outside of the park, noticed the rapid decline in the number of calves making it through spring and into summer. One early study conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that the survival rate had dropped to around 14-percent. In order to sustain a herd that can be hunted, it takes a survival rate of around 30-percent. The wolves were literally wiping out future generations of elk – before most ever reached six months of age. Ten years ago, the average age of the elk in the Yellowstone area was 4 years, today the average age of the elk there is 8 to 9 years. And without the needed calf recruitment each spring, this geriatric herd is about to hit the wall. Unless some very serious measures are taken, Yellowstone’s great elk herd stands to be totally lost within just a few short years. It’s dying as you read this.

Unfortunately, the damage to wildlife resources hasn’t been limited to only the Yellowstone area. In their zest to reintroduce wolves throughout the Northern Rockies, an out of control U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the state wildlife agencies in Montana and Idaho have infected all areas between northwestern Wyoming and the Canadian border. Wolves are literally destroying decades of sound big game management – and sportsmen are seeing hunting opportunities dwindle quickly.

In the western mountains of Montana, there has been near “0” calf elk survival for several years now, due to wolf depredation, and elk numbers are dropping like a rock. In the state’s Region 2 management area, a sizeable unit that’s approximately 150 miles long and averages 60 to 70 miles wide, the 2009 elk harvest was down 45%…the whitetail deer harvest was down 50%…and the mule deer harvest was down 45% – from the past five year average harvest. And the 2010 harvest was no better. Hunters reported finding less game than during any other previous season they had hunted. Those hunters who did see elk reported seeing no calves whatsoever. But just about every hunter reported seeing plenty of wolf sign, and many actually saw wolves.

So, how many wolves are there in the Northern Rockies?

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game estimates a minimum of around 850. Next door in Montana, the state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks now claims “at least” 566. And in Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claims there are now 350 to 400 wolves. So, it seems the accepted number of wolves throughout the Northern Rockies by state and federal agencies is between 1,700 and 1,750. The sportsmen who spend a great deal of time in the out of doors say there are likely twice that many, and likely even more. The damage being done to big game populations easily indicates that there are now 4,000 to 5,000 wolves. And so does the math of one of the world’s leading wolf authorities, Dr. L. David Mech. For the 2008 U.S. District Court hearing, in Missoula, to determine if the wolves of the Northern Rockies could be removed from the Endangered Species List, Mech was deposed as an expert witness. In his declaration he presented the dynamics of wolf population growth which support the population level generally accepted by those hunters who are no longer willing to accept that our deer, elk, and other big game and wildlife species are nothing more than fodder for growing, and out of control wolf populations.


3 thoughts on “Wolves Destroying Wildlife And Hunting Opportunities

  1. Could easily make this a parable to an out of control, offensive & unchecked Gov thriving on the helpless citizenry, ever growing, increasing it’s power & dominance whereas the fodder, the base for their own existence, dwindles launching both on a path to extinction.

  2. wolves are just eating. If they really are a problem, move some to areas where they have been depleted.

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