Saturday, August 22, 2009
Wolf Pack On The Rise
As the population of Wolves has risen to an all time high in the western states,one has to ask himself why did we let this happen.
As I walk out through the forests looking for game sign,I have noticed a big difference in the use of game trails,tracks and browse usage.
This only brings me to one conclusion.Something is killing the game herds.
I can't find any carcases laying around or smell any dead bodies.
I do know that the animals are not dying off from disease though.
As I count the deer herds around my home I have noticed a big difference in the size of them.Last year we had 50 deer and today they are down to 15 deer.
In Yellowstone Park the wolf population has risen so high that the wolves are leaving in huge numbers.They are moving to Montana at a high rate as there are around 300 wolves in the state now.
In Idaho the numbers are huge as there are around 650 wolves living there.
Gray wolf populations were extirpated from the western U.S. by the 1930s. Subsequently,
wolves from Canada occasionally dispersed south into Montana and Idaho but failed to survive
long enough to reproduce. Eventually, public attitudes toward predators changed and wolves
received legal protection with the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.
Wolves began to successfully recolonize northwest Montana in the early 1980s.
By 1995, there were 6 wolf packs in northwest Montana. Twenty-one packs qualified as a breeding pair according to the federal recovery
definition (an adult male and female with two surviving pups on December 31). Across the
southern Montana experimental area (Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone areas combined),
there were 29 packs, 10 of which met the breeding pair criteria. A minimum of 149 wolves were
estimated (73 in the GYA and 76 in the CID). Across northwest Montana, there were 31 packs,
11 of which met the breeding pair criteria. A minimum of 167 wolves was estimated in the
NWMT endangered area. In 1995 and 1996, 66 wolves from southwestern
Canada were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park (YNP) (31 wolves) and CID (35
A large decline in native ungulate populations could result in an increase in conflicts with livestock and the level of wolf control,” according to FWS.
Wolves in Montana prey primarily on elk, deer, and moose. Numerous research projects are
investigating wolf-ungulate relationships. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently compiled
research results of wolf-ungulate interactions in southwest Montana. This report and other
information about wolves and the Montana program are available at
“ If the wolf population continues to expand, wolves will increasingly disperse into unsuitable areas that are intensively used for livestock production,” FWS reported.
“A higher percentage of wolves in those areas will become involved in conflicts with livestock, and a higher percentage of them will probably be removed to reduce future livestock damage.
Human-caused mortality would have to remove 34 percent or more of the wolf population annually before population growth would cease.
The states fish and game departments are opening a season on the wolf population this year in an effort to control their increase in population.
Idaho is issuing somewheres around 240 permits for hunters.
Montana is issuing some where close to 45 permits.
This is good news but at the same time have you seen a wolf in the wild or even heard one call.
Most people have not as I am one of those people.But if you walk through the forests today,you will notice a decline in wild game populations as I have.I go where I have had success in filling my big game tag,but this year I am having a hard time finding a track or used trail as I used to.
Even in my back yard area there used to be upwards of fifty white tailed deer,and now there is only around twenty.
I am taking into account for traffic kills and winter kills also but losing 30 deer to these two events isn't logical.
Having a hunting season on wolves is great but I will bet you that 90% of those tags will not get filled,due to a wolf is smarter then a hunter when they are both in the wolf's environment.
The only way we will be able to control these predators is by hunting with an airplane.
This is one area of distribution of the wolf.
Overview of Wolf Ecology in Montana
Wolves were distributed primarily in the NRM region of western Montana east to the Beartooth
face near Red Lodge. Montana wolf pack territories average around 200 square miles in size but
can be 300 square miles or larger. Montana packs include a combination of public and private
lands. The average pack territory in Montana is comprised of about 30% private land. Most
Montana packs do not live strictly in back country wilderness areas. Of the 60 packs in
Montana, 11-12 (about 20% of all Montana packs) reside most of the year in remote backcountry
wilderness areas or Glacier National Park. Many others live in areas of remote public lands. But
the majority live in areas where mountainous terrain, intermountain valleys, and public / private
lands come together.
This is where the landowner will continue to have trouble controling the wolf.
Dispersal distances in the northern Rockies average about 60 miles, but dispersals over 500
linear miles have been documented. A 500-mile radius from any wolf pack in YNP, Glacier
National Park (GNP), or any pack in western Montana would plausibly reach all the way to
Montana’s eastern border. Montanans should be aware that wolves are established well enough
in the northern Rockies now that a wolf could appear where none has been seen for decades.This means in your back yard.
Wolves are capable of covering long distances in relatively short periods of time and often travel
separately or in smaller groups. The travel ability of wolves, combined with the fact that packs
split, with sub-groups traveling separately, can give an impression that there are more wolf packs
and territories than is actually the case. Pack monitoring efforts, especially when combined with
public / agency wolf reports, eventually leads to a conclusion about how many packs exist.
I know the friends of wildlife will cry foul if this happens but they will also pay more for their meat products.Plus loose their own pets to the wolf,and don't think the wolf will not eat you or your child either.
With the population growths of Grizzly Bear and Wolves,the hiker is going to have to be real careful and hike in groups or quit hiking all togeather.
I know when I am in the woods hunting or hiking I carry my weapon at all times,and I'm not talking about pepper spray either.