More than a Mile of Dead Wolves Need Your Attention Now

by Bob Ferris

When I was in high school the Viet Nam conflict was still in full swing and so was the draft.  And as we neared graduation our guidance counselors had us take aptitude tests.  Invariably  all the aptitude test results for males—regardless of input—indicated a suitability for the military.  I think about it now, because as I look at actions and legislation coming out of many of the wolf-occupied states in the West, regardless of the complex, multi-layered conditions or scientific input implicating non-wolf causes for elk and other prey declines, we keep seeing the same answer: We need to kill more wolves faster.  
 
This becomes more pertinent as yet another study comes out on elk that indicates that what might be driving elk reproductive success and also winter survival is the quality of summer elk habitat.  This is almost painfully obvious as fat content in females drives reproductive success in mammals.  And if you are not well fed and fat when you go into winter, you are going to come out of winter literally skin and bones—and nothing else (i.e., dead).  
 
When we look at the factors effecting summer range in the above article we see a few mentioned but two critical ones are absent.  The first is climate change.  Prolonged draught has in some areas reduced the amount of grasslands and shortened the time that vegetation is green and most useful to elk (please see here and here).  This should not be surprising as we are seeing the same climate effects for agriculture.
 
I have heard that this green season has been shorted in some places as much as seven days which means roughly a 5-10% reduction.  This may not seem like much until you throw in the other factor: Cattle grazing.  Elk may very well be able to weather (sorry) this drop but not if they are already feeding on steeper slopes and in lower quality habitats because they have been displaced by cattle or their grasses have already been eaten by domestic sheep.
 
These important alternative hypotheses to the localized reductions in elk or other prey populations that are supported by research seem to be ignored by many decision makers, but they are by no means the only ones that contradict the mantra of the anti-wolf crowd. Other research, for instance, has talked about the long term impacts of too many ungulates (native, wild or both) on the habitat as well as the impacts of other predators—cougars, grizzlies and humans—playing a more important part in these declines.  Natural succession or the tendency for habitats to mature and become less ungulate-friendly as they transcend from grassy to brushy to forest has also been mentioned as an influence on elk populations.  But none of these factors or alternatives seem to enter into the debate when there is this easier management off-ramp in livestock industry-influenced legislations and wildlife agencies: Kill more wolves faster (KMWF).
 
Right now where this KMWF answer is most dominant—the Northern Rockies—we are losing nearly a wolf and half a day or more than one mile of wolves laid nose to tail over the last two years—at a minimum.  In the absence of science and restraint, the well intentioned delisting experiment in the Rockies is failing miserably, cruelly and embarrassingly.  And the whole world is watching.  
 
Because of the above and the opportunities to learn from this tragic mistake, Cascadia Wildlands and a host of other science-driven conservation organization are promoting a congressional colleague letter being circulated by Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Ed Markey.  The letter urges the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe to listen to scientists and wildlife advocates who believe that federal protections for the wolf must be maintained in order to allow recolonizing wolves to reclaim viable habitats—mainly on federal lands—in the Pacific Northwest, California, the Southern Rockies and elsewhere.  They are currently collecting member signatures for this letter.
 
We all should continue to fight for wolves in the Northern Rockies and also urge our own congressional representatives to sign on to this letter.  Please ask them to stand up for wolves, science, and supporting the original intent of the Endangered Species Act.  Please click here to take action.

26 Responses to More than a Mile of Dead Wolves Need Your Attention Now

  1. Jane Eagle says:

    This would literally be thousands of times more effective if you included  a link with a letter to send to reps…maybe even a link to send it…
    Blessings.

  2. Donna Moore says:

    The best scientific studies show that so called herd depredation is NOT always wolves. More animals are killed by wild dogs, weather (i.e.) lightening strikes, bears and cougars. Yet still, they scream wolf and off they go. . . Murdering, maiming and torturing wolves. Even the loss of an omega pack member is mourned deeply by the wolves. When is mankind going to get their heads out of their arses and stop over grazing wild lands with sheep and cattle? Get you facts straight and leave our wolves alone!

  3. Theresa A. Schulze says:

    Leave the wolves alone you sick bastards!

  4. Kirsten Rose says:

    Really great article, thanks for writing it.

  5. Don Phipps says:

    What do you have against cows and cattle ranchers? What happens when the elk herds decline and there aren't any cows within a hundred miles?    Has anyone told you that in NE Washington the elk and moose herds are getting larger in and around large parcels of public land where cows are present.  Dang it, how did that happen?
     
     

    • bob says:

      Don, I have nothing against ranchers. I do have problems, however, with the ecological and economic damage we suffer from ranching–particularly those impacts associated with public lands grazing. As to cattle grazing being linked to growth in elk and moose populations, the same logic and methodology could be used to claim that wolves are linked to the same phenomenon. I prefer to look at studies that indicate that cattle displace elk and that the population trends are likely linked to habitat modifications rather than the presence or absence of bovines.

      Bob Ferris

  6. Brenda DeShaw says:

    Stop killing our wolves and stop the use of traps and snares! Its cruel and inhumane to use traps and snares to catch wolves! Wolves should be relisted as an endangered animal again! Stop the wolf slaughter please!

  7. Joanne says:

    These animals are an important part of the ecosystem.  Without them to hunt the sick or injured or weak of a hurd is natures way of cleansing the hurd and insuring survival of the fittest.  They insure that the hurds are healthy and strong.  Without wolves the ecosystem will suffer. 

  8. SID CARA says:

    LAISSEZ LES LOUPS VIVRE EN PAIX ….

  9. Kayce says:

    I love your article and what you're trying to accomplish here. I also love that by entering my zip code, I can send a customized letter, but please make this site more user-friendly so that it has the most effect possible. I hunted around for where to enter my zip code, almost gave up, and then saw the light green "here", but I was looking for a zip code field? Make "here" red and add bold, clear instructions so that every person that wants to send a letter knows how. Thank you!

  10. JLH says:

    Two other issues that I have not heard discussed is the impact of oil and natural gas drilling in areas of migration of the ungulates (mule deer are specifically being researched currently in areas south of Jackson Hole from what i understand), and a policy that I will quote from someone who fishes and hunts in MT and taken from a publication -" The number of elk has been greatly reduced over the past few seasons. Many point to wolves as the sole source of the decline. I believe it is due to 2-legged wolves, human hunters, as much if not more than the 4 legged kind. Montana's general elk season limits have allowed cow elk to be "harvested" every year for many years. For several, up until this past season, hunters could simply purchase 2 cow elk tags for this area over the counter. This past year there were 450 cow elk permits issued. Literally hundreds of breeding cow elk, mostly pregnant, were killed by human hunters each elk season. This coupled with grizzly bear predation, drought factors and wolves have combined to take their toll on elk numbers here in the Madison Valley".    Both are issues that certianly should be brought into "the bigger picture" of the wolves impact on wildlife.
     

  11. wendy cornah says:

    It sickens me

  12. Oneyda Perez says:

    Enough with these unconsciounable acts of cruelty.

  13. Lonna O'Leary says:

    This is an outstanding article. Getting wolves relisted has become a passion for me over the last few months. I have been reading article after article and also reports and watching every documentary on wolves I can find. I have also been signing all petitions that have to do with saving wolves and banning trapping, and writing letters to government officials. The most disturbing fact I find is that the our goverment officials are knowingly supporting and promoting the ongoing slaughter of our wolves.  So I have begun to suggest in my letters to them reading a very important article I found entitled "Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves: A Public Policy Process Failure: How Two Special Interest Groups Hijacked Wolf Conservation In America" by Wendy Keefover.  I will also include this article in my letters to government officials if that would be ok with you.  I believe articles that are based in fact will eventually bring about a change in how the wolf is percieved in our country if we keep suggesting that government oficials read them to get the real facts about wolves known to all. Reports and Articles such as this one are of great importance for all the world to read because they are based on scientific facts and not merely opinion or myths.
    I fear that unless we bring about a real change in the government's perception of the wolf, they will be brought right back to the brink of extinction once again within 3 to 5 more years at the rate they are being decimated by humans.

  14. Tammy Matthews says:

    Please stop the killing of the wolf's.

    • Fred says:

      Boo, hoo, hoo tell the wolves to stop killing livestock and elk.

      • Rosemary Lowe says:

        Well Boo Hoo, tell the destructive Livestock Industry & the Serial Animal Killers (Hunters, Trappers) to stop killing native wildlife. The Livestock Industry has no business grazing on National Forests, Wilderness Areas, BLM, and other public lands, at below-market rates, and then, demanding government agents to slaughter native wildlife. If (boo hoo) ranchers cannot make it on their private lands, tough. Other people have had to change "careers" with the changing times. It's time for The Livestock Industry to do the same. And, let them take their hunter/trapper/ killer friends with them. It's all a "dying, antiquated, barbaric culture whose time is over.

  15. Donna Moore says:

    The slaughter must end if we are to save our ecosystem. Wolves usually prey on the sick, old or the weakest, therefore keeping the herd healthier. These are proven scientific facts. Wolves are not wheat fields and do not need to be "culled" or "harvested".

  16. Donna Moore says:

    Our wolves belong in the wild. They hunt to feed their families, but take only the weak, sick or aged, leaving the herd's stronger. We must all fight to save these magnificent sentient beings from those who want only their fur or a new stuffed animal!

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