9 Dec 2008, 9:10am
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
by admin

Where Wolves Go When They Get Hungry

by Steve Alder

Since the early Spring of 2007, we have seen a huge decrease in wolves in the backcountry. We hike 23 separate trails along the Selway, Lochsa, North, South, and Middle Forks of the Clearwater Rivers. My 73 year-young Father has consistently hiked these trails for the last 25 years and he does at least two 8 hour hikes each week.

Beginning in January 2007, we thought the outfitters had hired a elk and wolf hitman, and/or else someone was systematically hiking the trails  and removing the wolf scat to hide the evidence!  Big mystery at first, but then after extensive research by the experts we think we have an idea what happened to our elk and wolves.  Below is the short version of my opinion of what has transpired in the Clearwater Region in Idaho.

Wolves move into an elk rich region and they establish dens. Prey base sustains wolves for 2-3 years as the female potentially has 2 litters yearly due to the food supply. Other packs are developed and move on.

Based on the USWS wolf reports and maps of the documented packs in 2003-2006, we found at least 5 times more wolves during this time than what the documentation suggested. In fact we found so much wolf scat on some trails that you step on it every few feet! We calculated that the actual wolf count was at least 2,000 in the Clearwater alone!

For example, one of those years the feds reported only one wolf in the entire Selway drainage! At the same time they claimed they had only one pack on Coolwater Ridge and we knew of four different packs that we had actually seen during the fall of 2005! We found packs in almost every drainage in the lower Lochsa below Fish Creek.

The elk had just started rebounding above Fish Creek following the winter kill of 96-97, but with the wolves being introduced in 1995 the elk never had a chance to make a comeback.

After 2 to 3 years, the prey base is reduced 90 percent and the wolves begin to move elsewhere looking for food. They confront other packs and suffer losses due to cannibalism and starvation. Wolves keep moving and eventually they run into livestock on ranches.

Meanwhile, the few surviving elk in the back country are very hard to find, even for wolves (except in deep snow winters like 07-08). The elk have learned to adapt to very rough terrain away from roads and trails where the wolves love to patrol.

This scenario, or one very like it, is beginning to play out in Idaho. Many wolves are leaving the mountains and  gravitating toward cities, towns, and ranches, moving into every canyon imaginable, and most of this country is without a lot of wild prey for the wolves.

Now, apparently, the Idaho Fish and Game is saying much the same thing. The Idaho Statesman reported:

Wolf kills of domestic animals is up in Idaho

by the Associated Press, Idaho Statesman, December 5, 2023 [here]

TWIN FALLS -­ Wolves in Idaho have killed 325 cattle, sheep and dogs so far in 2008, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says.

The reported kills through Nov. 24 - 212 sheep, 100 cattle and 13 dogs - are 47 more than in all of 2007.

Steve Nadeau, the department’s large carnivore coordinator, said wolves in the last two years have tended to move onto private land.

“You can’t just keep stuffing wolves on top of each other,” he told The Times-News.

He said the biggest problem area stretches across the middle of the state, in a rough triangle that stretches from Weiser to Fairfield to Salmon.

Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s. There are an estimated 1,500 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, with 700 to 800 of them in Idaho. Nadeau said his agency is doing aerial surveys in Idaho to see if those numbers have changed.

Idaho officials had planned a hunting season on wolves this fall until U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Montana restored the predator’s endangered status last summer.

Since then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it planned to end federal protections for gray wolves in Montana and Idaho.

“It’s crazy that they’re not delisted in Idaho,” said Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. “To me, it goes to show you that the Endangered Species Act doesn’t really work.”

Through Nov. 21, Fish and Game had documented the killing of 136 wolves in the state. Federal authorities killed 86 that had been preying on livestock, and 13 were killed by people protecting livestock or dogs. Nine wolves were killed illegally.

Most of the remainder died for unknown reasons, the agency said.

Jenny Harbine, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice, said it does not plan to oppose the killing of wolves that prey on livestock.

“We haven’t sued over the rule that allows that, and don’t intend to,” Harbine said. “Our goal is to find a way to live with wolves.”

Had a wolf hunting season taken place in Idaho this year, Fish and Game officials estimated it would have reduced the wolf population in the state by 200 to 250 animals.

Wayne Wright, chairman of the Fish and Game Commission, said the state is preparing to manage wolves again if they are delisted and management of the species is returned to the state.

“We’d like to make sure we have all the tools ready to implement,” Wright said.

12 Dec 2008, 7:05pm
by YPmule


I applaud common sense.

12 Dec 2008, 9:41pm
by Bruce


Now we are in the danger time for humans this winter as the temp drops the wolves will be starving. Once they hit critcal mass they will attack people. I predict when people come up missing the officals will lie about it, spin and say the person died of something else first then the wolves ate him. They have already used this on a few cases. Be very careful in Idaho this year.

14 Dec 2008, 1:17pm
by Lee


“Below is the short version of my opinion of what has transpired in the Clearwater Region in Idaho”

“Wolves move into an elk rich region and they establish dens.”
I thought the Selway was below objective for elk. But still it was an elk rich region?

“the female potentially has 2 litters yearly due to the food supply.”
Female wolves do not have 2 litters/year.

“We calculated that the actual wolf count was at least 2,000 in the Clearwater alone!”
WOW! How was this calculation done?

During the time in question I spent a week on a packtrip into Wind Lakes near Grave Peak in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. I did not see or hear any wolves nor sign thereof. The horses were not attacked; the dogs not killed. 2000 wolves in the Clearwater you say?

“At the same time ( Based on the USWS wolf reports and maps of the documented packs in 2003-2006) they claimed they had only one pack on Coolwater Ridge and we knew of four different packs that we had actually seen during the fall of 2005!”
In which year(s) did they report 1 pack? How do you know they were 4 different packs? Or the same pack 4 times. A bit of documentation would be good - such as photos showing different groups.

“The elk had just started rebounding above Fish Creek following the winter kill of 96-97, but with the wolves being introduced in 1995 the elk never had a chance to make a comeback.”
Because of other factors perhaps they never would have “made a comeback”.

“After 2 to 3 years, the prey base is reduced 90 percent and the wolves begin to move elsewhere looking for food.”
There certainly is a lot of supposition here. In only 2 or 3 years? From whence the 90% value?

“The elk have learned to adapt to very rough terrain away from roads and trails where the wolves love to patrol.”
Do you suppose that 2 legged hunters, some on ATVs might use the roads also? However, there are few roads in the region under discussion - afterall it is mostly wilderness which precludes either wolves or humans patrolling by nonexistant roads.

This is mostly conjecture and little fact.

14 Dec 2008, 1:56pm
by Mike


Steve presented his opinion as supposition. What is fact, however, is that without controls wolf populations have steadily increased and will continue to increase until their prey base is severely limited.

Before starvation wolves will seek prey where they can, and that means in fields and pastures where livestock are kept.

Predator-prey relationships govern wildlife population change.

14 Dec 2008, 7:25pm
by rustin


wolves will destroy the hunting oportunities that we have come to know and love in idaho…please stop ignoring the facts and come together to stop these insatiable predators from killing off your sons and daughters big game future.

14 Dec 2008, 7:32pm
by Greg


And we know that wolf predation on private property and the livestock kills is on the increase, in Idaho in 2008 (above 2007 numbers). The wolfie is running out of elk to eat/sport kill/surplus kill, and is moving into towns. Move over folks you got company soon. The wild Disneyesque mythological kills the weak and don’t attack man wolf dogma tales are crumbling apart, just like your global warming hoax getting blown back into your faces via 650 International Scientists calling bunk on the UN Panels 52 clingers to that nonsense. Your wolfie is gonna prove you wrong in broad daylight, stay tuned.

14 Dec 2008, 8:07pm
by Lee


You ignored every comment I made on this subject.

“Steve presented his opinion as supposition.” That is obvious! No verification for any of the story.

15 Dec 2008, 4:56am
by Greg


There is no verification for the funds allocated for the wolves program, there is no verification that any psuedo preconceived made up, dreamed up, science to attempt to justify this wolf program coulda woulda shoulda worked from the beginning. Especially with no management program to hit at the correct time to help landlocked elk/deer function with the additional predators dumped in their midst. This wolf program had design flaws from the word go, and I believe it was intentional. I packed in and out of lakes this season myself, one of those lakes three times, I saw wolves all around twice and once did not see any wolves, your once in and out trip is also pointless supposition and useless conjecture as well. What is described in this article supports what I have witnessed in the Frank Church Wilderness. It’s a wipeout, and it’s going to become irrefutable very soon, then you can change your half name and get on the team that had it right all along. The advantages of half identification while shouting from your shoebox. Or should we call you Ralph?

21 May 2009, 12:04pm
by chandie


Lee has been listening too much to Ralph.

9 Dec 2009, 12:15pm
by dakota


its sad i mean im doing a project on wolves and it makes me want to cry

20 Dec 2009, 7:04pm
by YPmule


It is sad. Every time I see our mare limping from being hamstrung by wolves, I want to cry.

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