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Thursday, May 24,2012

Who's afraid?

Wyoming's open hunting season on wolves could kill Colorado's chances of getting a pack of its own

By Elizabeth Miller

Almost 40 years passed before anyone thought to miss the gray wolf. Wolves, along with grizzlies, had been deliberately eradicated in western states in the name of protecting people and their livestock. The last wolf in Colorado was killed in the 1930s. By the time they were added to the list of endangered species protected by the Endangered Species Act in 1974, they existed only in a small corner of northeastern Minnesota.

 In the decades that followed, humans would undertake concentrated efforts to undo the damage of their ancestors, reintroducing gray wolves in Idaho and at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in 1995 and 1996. But the move has been met with polarized responses: for every conservation group that would have howled in celebration, there was a hunter or a rancher loading a round into the chamber.

Although Colorado residents have long expressed positive feelings toward having wolves returned to the state, Colorado’s Wildlife Commission has come down on the opposite side, leaving Colorado out of deliberate reintroduction efforts. Were wolves to return to Colorado, they’d have to arrive on their own, migrating from the reestablished packs in neighboring states. And as Wyoming once again puts forward a wolf management plan which, if approved, would deprive wolves in that state of the protections of the Endangered Species Act, that path becomes more harrowing, and the likelihood of wolves gaining a foothold in the southern Rocky Mountains decreases.

Wolves now occupy more than 110,000 square miles in the northern Rocky Mountains, most of it public land. By December 2009, there were at least 1,706 wolves and more than 100 breeding pairs in 242 packs, and in April 2010, an estimated 600 new pups were born. That number is five and a half times the target recovery goal from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of 300 wolves and 30 breeding pairs over the three states.

The return was so robust that the states of Idaho and Montana were able to successfully argue in 2009 that the gray wolf was established in the northern Rocky Mountains — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, eastern Washington and Oregon and a small part of south central Utah. Federal protections for the species under the Endangered Species Act were removed — except in Wyoming, because the state did not have an adequate management plan for maintaining wolves. Wolf hunting was allowed for the first time since the 1930s in the fall of 2009 in Montana and Idaho — 206 wolves were killed, in addition to the 270 killed for attacking livestock that year.

But a year later, in August 2010, a Montana district court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had unlawfully delisted wolves from the Endangered Species Act and those protections were restored and hunting stopped. But last year, while Congress was repeatedly stumbling over passing an appropriations bill that would keep the United States from defaulting on its loans, Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson tacked Sec. 1713 onto the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011. Without ever mentioning the words “wolf ” or “endangered species,” the bill reinstated the 2009 decision on the part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist gray wolves in Idaho and Montana.

So now Wyoming wants in on the action.

They’ve crafted a plan that calls for wolf protection — in a “Wolf Trophy Big Game Management Area,” a corner of the state encircling Yellowstone National Park, in which wolves can only be hunted down to 100 individuals and 10 breeding pairs. That area may have as many as 200 wolves now and the state some 350. In the rest of the state, wolves will be classified as predatory animals — along with coyotes, jackrabbits, porcupine, raccoons, red foxes, skunks and stray cats, according to Wyoming statutes. Any gray wolf caught doing damage to private property can be immediately killed by the property owner, and if a wolf is caught harassing, injuring, maiming or killing livestock or domesticated animals, or just “occupying a chronic wolf predation area,” the owner may notify the Wyoming Fish and Game Commission, which can issue a Lethal Take Permit.

Public comment has just closed on the latest draft of the plan. The first draft was rejected because it presented a “substantial risk to the population” of wolves in Wyoming. The new addendum argues that of course wolves will be managed to prevent a population drop below a certain level. If only to keep the federal government from reassessing the decision to delist wolves.

“In large part, it’s a plan to contain wolves and greatly contract their range and greatly reduce their numbers,” says Michael Robinson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has come out strongly opposed to the idea of delisting wolves. “It will, in effect, end the possibility of recovery in Colorado.”

Douglas Smith, team leader for the wolf project at Yellowstone National Park, has spent more than three decades studying wolves. About 100 wolves live in Yellowstone National Park. If a wolf leaves the park, it falls to the state officials to monitor the wolf, and its chances of survival decline.

“In the past it was conflicts — illegal killing and livestock control, and now it’s illegal killing and livestock control and legal hunting,” Smith says. “So wolves survive less well outside of Yellowstone National Park, and I don’t think that’s a secret.”

Given their propensity to move to areas without wolves, the wolf-free Colorado landscape looks like pretty ripe wolf habitat.

“But it’s a long way,” Smith says.

“Wolves have gotten there from the Yellowstone area, so they can make it. It’s just that they don’t survive very well.”

It’s possible, but unlikely, that wolves could relocate here without gradually moving into areas south of Yellowstone and dispersing as younger generations set out to look for mates and territories to call their own.

“Wolves typically disperse and travel as loners, so to have a breeding pair in Colorado would take an individual male and an individual female both leaving where they came from and making it to Colorado and then meeting there,” Smith says. “If that happened, they’d probably pair and have pups. The likelihood of that happening is low.”

But, it’s even less likely that an already established breeding pair would relocate. Wolves tend to settle near where they meet.

“It’s the loners that travel a long way, and part of the reason they’re traveling a long way is they’re looking for an opposite-sex wolf to settle down with,” Smith says. “Part of the reason they go so far is they don’t find them, so they keep going, and they usually end up dead.”

When the plan for reintroducing wolves to the United States was crafted in the mid-’90s, Colorado wasn’t invited to the party. Whether Colorado wanted to be depends on who you ask — a 1994 mail survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado showed strong support for reintroducing wolves with some 70 percent in favor.

But a 1989 resolution from the Colorado Wildlife Commission states that, because humans had moved into the habitat needed for grizzly bears and wolves, and the reintroduction of either could present conflicts with the livestock industry and humans as well as presenting a “management problem,” reintroduction of wolves and grizzly bears was opposed.

“There won’t be any reintroductions,” says Eric Odell, species conservation program manager for carnivores with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Our Wildlife Commission has given two resolutions that said that they’re opposed to a wolf reintroduction to the state for a variety of reasons — social and agricultural and all that kind of reasons.”

Wolves in Colorado are still managed by the federal government via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as long as they are considered endangered in this state. Colorado drafted a plan in 2004 for managing wolves in the event they were ever delisted, but meeting that criteria, according to the Endangered Species Act, means having a substantial and self-sustaining population.

Though reports of wolves have come out of a ranch in the northwestern part of Colorado, the High Lonesome Ranch, DNA testing has either indicated that the scat collected was coyote or been inconclusive.

“In the whole state, there are no known wolves or wolf pack established,” Odell says. He receives reports, sometimes several a week, from people who say they’ve seen wolves. “Everything that we’ve received and followed up on has shown that there are no known wolves at the moment.”

Two wolves have been killed here, one on I-70 and one in northwest Colorado, and another was videotaped near North Park, but those were several years ago.

“That was the last time we knew of any wolf for sure in the state, and those were individuals,” Odell says. “There’s no established population or anything like that in the state.”

Most of North America was once home to wolves, which are considered a keystone predator. Their presence shapes an entire ecosystem: Studies have shown wolves keep elk and deer on the move, which allows for healthier tree and shrub growth, providing habitat for other species, and wolves cull sick, weak adult deer and elk, possibly preventing the spread of communicable diseases, including the mad cow variant that ungulates carry. Rocky Mountain National Park has been allowing hunting to manage the overpopulation of elk there. But a hunter’s aim, while precise, doesn’t have an eye for the sick and weak — the kills are more arbitrary than those chosen by wolves.

In Colorado, people play the part of that keystone predator.

“We’ve been doing that for the last 100 years or so and we do manage our game populations, our deer and elk populations, through our hunting regulations pretty specifically,” Odell says. “We take that role of managing the game populations to benefit the ecosystem.”

The densely populated Front Range makes it tough to contemplate other options in this part of the state.

“When you’ve got that many people, where are you going to put the wolves?” Smith says. “They can’t live year round in the mountains, because the winter hits and the elk come down and the deer come down and the wolves follow them. And where they do, the deer and elk go in the backyards of people — that’s a problem, and people don’t like it, but it’s a much different problem when you’ve got a wolf in your backyard.”

Despite an elk population so abundant the park has needed to issue permits to hunt some of them down and has fenced in aspen groves to protect them from lingering elk, Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t provide a good location because it’s so high in elevation. The elk may be able to winter over near the ice cream and t-shirt shops and mini golf courses in Estes Park, but the wolves can’t.

“You would have people, elk and wolves all thrown together and we know that doesn’t work,” Smith says. “It’s not that the wolves don’t tolerate the people, it’s that the people don’t really tolerate them.”

Southern Colorado’s stretches of public land near the San Juans might provide a better habitat for wolves, but the act of getting there is still tough.

“Assuming wolves could make it through a lot of Wyoming — I mean those are a lot of ifs,” Smith says. “Right now all the wolves are in northwest Wyoming, and they won’t be allowed in a huge area just south of Jackson, so connectivity between that area and Colorado is going to be your first problem.”

But the connectivity is precisely what the Endangered Species Act was meant to provide. Its purpose, as defined by the Act itself, is “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.”

And preserving the ecosystem, according to conservation organizations like the Center for Biodiversity and the American Society of Mammologists, which have both come out opposed to Wyoming delisting wolves, requires allowing species to successfully maintain themselves.

“Connectivity between the wolf subpopulations … not only is that vital for long-term genetic maintenance, but allowing that connectivity to exist is one way of measuring whether that ecosystem exists,” Robinson says. To do otherwise thwarts the purpose of the Act and the definition of an endangered species. A recovered animal is one that can maintain itself, according to the Endangered Species Act. An animal that needs to be carted around in order to find a mate — as Wyoming’s plan proposes doing if necessary to maintain genetic diversity in its wolf population — is not maintaining itself.

“One would hope that the Fish and Wildlife Service would say, ‘We’re moving way too fast, this doesn’t make sense. It’s not consistent with the law and it’s not consistent with the public sentiment,’” Robinson says. Robinson’s book, Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West, charts the history of the eradication of wolves from North America, a move that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s predecessor organization was pressured to make.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still carefully monitors the impact wolves have on livestock and compensates ranchers who lose animals to wolves. The organization reported that between 1987, when Canadian wolves first denned in upper Montana, and 2009, more than 1,301 cattle, 2,584 sheep, 142 dogs, 31 goats, 25 llamas and 10 horses had been killed by wolves and nearly $2 million had been paid in damages by private and state wolf damage compensation funds. Wolves were relocated 117 times and killed more than 1,259 times to reduce conflicts.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has a history as an agricultural service. In large part what we’re seeing is a reversion to form,” Robinson says. “They’re allowing the proposal of the destruction of most of the wolves in Wyoming and they are likely to close the door on reintroduction in Colorado altogether.”

From ranchers to conservationists to casual observers, the response to wolves is rarely a moderate one.

“Some people think it’s the coolest thing in the world, and other people think it’s the end of their life, my life just got ruined,” Smith says. “There’s very little in the middle. … And that’s part of the problem. You go from one private holding to the next and the welcome mat changes from ‘Welcome’ to ‘Don’t step on this place.’”

The hackles raise to the point of either side sending death threats. A photo of a trapped wolf from Idaho that shows the wolf still limping through a circle of pink snow behind the smiling Nez Perce Forest Service employee who trapped, and would later shoot, the wolf, earned the hunter death threats. The anti-wolf trapping nonprofit that reposted his photo and complained of his cruel practices also received death threats in response.

“I think wolves are a symptom of bigger things in our society,” Smith says. “In the last 10-15 years, we’ve become more polarized about the environment, what’s the purpose of the environment. Is it here for us, or is it here for us to coexist in, or is it here for us to use, and the wolf symbolizes that conflict. It’s really a lightning rod for the disagreement surrounding how we coexist with nature. They’re very symbolic with wildness, and some people think we don’t need wildness, we don’t want it because it’s inconvenient and it gets in our way, whereas other people think how dare we remove every shred of the earth that has nothing to do with us. So they’re very symbolic about a larger debate about just economics, do we use the land, do we conserve it, how do we live on it, versus how do we deal with life separate from human life.”

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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I'll probably go to Wyoming regularly when the season opens up, not because I want to shoot a wolf, but because I want to do my part to keep them out of Colorado. Public opinion has shifted radically about wolves. Now, any politician who hopes to get elected in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming has to have very good anti wolf creds. People don't like them and they don't want them. 


This article paints it's own strawman, and that's part of the problem. People don't understand why others don't want wolves, so they make up stories, and vilify rural people. Look at it this way, some people spend most of their lives outside much of it with wildlife, they don't want wolves. Other people live in cities looking at computer screens. 

I never used to hunt coyotees, now I do just because one might be a wolf.


Thank you radical environmentalists for solidifying opinion.


I have spent 2/3 of my life in ranch country, as my primary employment was in thr ski and resort industry. I knoe some of the oldest ranch families of more than 100 years from New Mexico right through Colorado and into the heart of Wyoming. During the peak of wolf reintroduction, I owned a rescued wolf. Every rancher I knew just adored him. On an occasion or two he chased a couple cows, horses. But the ranchers & I loved him immensely and we patiently let him outgrow it. Funny, CO & NM ranchers well known enough to be on magazine covers not only loved my lobo, but also agree they belong here. I live in the country, I do not fear sharing it, & I, like many others, both urban & rural WANT WOLVES IN COLORADO. The only rural people who don't are either un-educated, plain ignorant, or fiendishly selfish & paranoid.


Thank you for your comment missy, but I'm afraid you just demonstrated what I was talking about. Calling people who don't want unmanaged wolves ignorant, uneducated, selfish, and paranoid is a big part of the problem. What say you to the people with doctorates in wildlife ecology? Name calling, use of pop science, divisiveness have driven people like me firmly into the anti wolf camp. What began as a political intrusion into the management of wildlife might well end the same way with the gutting or rewriting of the endangered species act. You might want to check into the legality of keeping wildlife as pets.


You inbred destroyers of wildlife make me sick. Let's hope a wolf gets you and eats you you vermin TRASH.


It's amazing the level of uneducated, uninformed hatred some people have towards wolves. Ranchers and other special interests makes up all sorts of false information as to why wolves need to be exterminated. They cite how wolves go after cattle, yet it's a proven fact that less that 2% of all cattle/sheep losses are due to wolves. Then they say wolves pose a threat to humans though there are virtually no recorded instances of such. Hunters say wolves threaten elk populations, though elk populations are on the increase even as wolf populations increase. They conveniently forget that wolves primarily target the old, sick, and injured thereby ensuring the remaining population is genetically strong. The issue is not that most people don't want wolves, it's that the special interests that have bought and paid for state politicians usually get their way. Then again look at the history of the most vocal anti-wolf crowd. How many of them stole their land from the Native Americans and tried their best the exterminate them. Now it's the wolf's turn. The misinformation towards wolves reminds me of the Nazi's misinformation campaign against the Jews and of course the same outcome.


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@wanna shootawolf, you obviously didn't read this article,can you read?. "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado showed strong support for reintroducing wolves with some 70 percent in favor." IN FAVOR! HELLO?

What part dont you understand?

"I never used to hunt coyotees, now I do just because one might be a wolf."

What? If you cant tell the difference between a coyote and a wolf, you shouldn't be hunting.

Thank you hunters for destroying OUR wildlife.The wildlife belongs to EVERYONE not just the hunters!

So it's OK for you to go out and kill wildlife but we cant keep wildlife as a pet? How one sided is that?


I read most of it, for sure that part. I could poll people and get them to say they wanted to eat babies if I asked the question the right way. That poll was a long time ago, heck the way it was worded I'd be one of the 70% right now. We have a real live poll every 2 years, how many politicians are running on the idea of bringing wolves to CO? None. My congressman is running on making changes to the Equal Access to Justice Act which is the funding for all the nutters that brought wolves in the first place. I'll bet he wins, CO4.


The wildlife belongs to everyone in the state, the problem is hunters restored all the wildlife you see and continue to pay for all of the management. Coyotees, mountain lion, falcons, hawks, eagles, jumping mice, deer, fish, snake, you name it, all paid for and cared for with funds from hunters. Even all the salaries for Fish and Wildlife, not one dime of taxpayer money. Your welcome. Because it's wrong to make pets out of wildlife, have more respect.


public opinion has shifted? No it hasn't. The worthless inbred hunters and the welfare ranchers are the ones that hate wolves. Most in Colorado want wolves. Don't let these wildlife killing extremist hunters and welfare ranchers act like they are the majority. They are a very small minority.


@Dr Wanakillawolf The hunters HAVE NOT restored our wildlife,just the deer(look that up). The wolf is native to Colorado, where are they now ,so much for restoring OUR wildlife. And you pay so you can kill something, its not a donation! Hunting fees are only part of the money going into restoring our wildlife. How much money do hunters give to wildlife rehab?


My dearest want to shoot a wolf, I must point out that you twisted my words around. (you must be a politician,haha) I did not say that people who don't want unmanaged wolves were the ignorant ones. I said people who don't want the wolves, period. Those, like yourself, who go by an internet name so blasphemously hateful & biased as yours: "wana kill a wolf" are exactly the kind of ignorant. Fearful, under-educated & depraved individuals that hate something simply because they have frustration problems, as you have self-described. I am all for proper mgmt of al resources. How many Wildlife Mgmt meetings have YOU been to? I have participated in that process and let my voice be heard in a civil live forum. With your attitude and nick-name, you would have been promptly escorted to the exit by US Marshalls.


I live in wolf country just 70 miles from Yellowstone. I don't personally have any desire to kill a wolf. I enjoy my outdoor experience more with them. However, They do need to be managed. By managed I mean hunted and killed to control numbers and modify behavior. I have personally witnessed wolves killing. Based on my experience, They are highly efficient predators that kill what ever runs from them that they can catch. Not out of malice or because they are evil, but they are compelled by instinct. They kill much more than they can eat, if they can. They do not limit themselves to the sick and weak as the article suggests. I have seen a video shown me by a game and fish biologist of wolves catching and eating a full grown healthy bull elk on the elk refuge. it is worth noting they ate a substantial amount of it while it was still alive. Not because they are mean or evil, but they don't have human sensibilities, as implied in the article. They can coexist with wildlife and maybe even live stock, if you can modify their behavior. The only way you can modify their behavior is to hunt them so they have a healthy fear of humans and things associated with humans


@theman, how is killing them modifying their behavior? A dead animal can't learn anything. People need to modify their behavior! You move into wolf,mountain loin,bear territory, introduce IMPORTED animals with no way to protect itself from native species and you want to blame the native wildlife.Wildlife lived for millions of years with wolfs, it wasn't until the white man invaded that the wolfs became a problem/nuisance. If you cant handle the native wildlife get the F out!


Scott I'll make one attempt to reply. Hunting changes the behavior of the hunted radically, that fact is basic knowledge of wildlife. Especially an adaptive intelligent predator. The gray wolf hasn't been in NAmerica for millions of years, it is a relative newcomer as are humans. Native Americans also persecuted wolves of course, humans are the keystone apex predator in every habitat they occupy, we have been a part of the mix of predators forever. We hunters pay for the care and conservation and if need be restoration of all wildlife in CO, Wildlife and Parks has a great website (paid for by you know who) where they explain about all the efforts for which species and give you access to all ongoing studies. Might be worth taking a look at, I paid for it. Every wolf averages 20 elk per year. I'll share some elk with the wolves so we can have the full complement of predators, but not more than 1500 or 2000 elk, and until they learn to get a handle on wolf populations none can come to Colorado. Many animals can no longer roam in the places they used to, no grizzlies in downtown Los Angeles, no Buffalo in Buffalo. Just because a species can live someplace and used to live in a place doesn't meant it should now. Watch your language.


@Wana killa since you are an expert in wolfs, tell us all how long the Wolf has been in North America. You might want to look up "keystone species". You hunters pay to KILL and only care about what you can shoot next. Don't kid yourself, hunters make up the minority of contributers to our wildlife,look it up it's public info. It takes a lot more than a measly 16-18% of a population(who hunt, including children) to manage OUR wildlife-lotto money,private donations,Pittman-robertson money,Federal tax money through Wildlife Services,Federal and State money for endangered or threatened wildlife and public/private wildlife conservation. Not to mention the wildlife problems that our wildlife managers cause just to make a few hunters happy(1900-20,000 deer in the US,2012-20,000,000 ). Neither hunters or the CDOW pay for the care of OUR wildlife!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S ALL VOLUNTEERS and WE get no money from you! When was the last time a hunter contributed to a wildlife RESCUE? I have been a volunteer wildlife rescuer for more than 13 years in Colorado and know first hand how the DOW and our local hunters work. It's pathetic!!! You guys don't take care of JACK! You can talk until you are blue in the face and TRY to justify your blood-lust for killing and your "heritage", but you are a wildlife terrorist(IMOP)if you are hunting and killing animals for anything other than sustenance. Killing wolfs (any animal) from planes,helicopter,with indiscriminate poisons,indiscriminate traps,....is NOT hunting. This conversation really has nothing to do with responsible hunting, but a wildlife slaughter! I'm sure you hate coyote and prairie dogs and have lots of fun blasting them too ,for no reason......look up keystone species and understand the meaning!


I'll probably read about you in the paper Scott, wildlife rescue types get arrested every once in a while. They either commit violent crimes against people or try to make pets of wildlife. We need to do more to criminalize the sick practice of imprisoning and causing pain to wildlife. You probably pulled the legs off insects when you were small.


@rescue equals torture- Well if you get the paper or watch the news around here(Co),its a good chance you have already read about me or seen me on TV. I'm usually rescuing something impaled with an arrow or tangled up in fishing line. If you want to read something really good , try the C.A.S.H website(Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting). Its amazing how many so-called responsible "hunters" kill or injure them-selfs or other people in the US every year,about 100 killed per year, 1000's injured. That doesn't include what you are doing to the wildlife.


It's amazing that in order to legally hunt ,you only need to take a class that is a few hours long and you can be as young as 12. But to be a licensed wildlife rehabber it takes 3 YEARS and you have to be 18 or older.If you ask me there needs to be stricter laws for hunting,way stricter!! The wildlife belongs to EVERYONE, not just the hunters.


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First i would like to say that owning a wolf as a pet is against the law and in no way the thing to do, i am grateful you didnt make it on when animals attack.

Scott if you want to see wildlife stay in colorado because i can assure you that in Wyoming there are not nearly enough elk or shiras moose to see unless you go to the national elk refuge in jackson the rest of our state has very different elk now than what we used to have and there are alot less.


Actually, keeping a wolf is not illegal. Also, all dogs come from wolves...so why the whining?


Cris, you can blame Wyoming's wildlife management techniques,ranchers and the hunters for the lack of elk and moose.The general public has very little voice or control over our wildlife and most don't hunt.


I'd hate to correct a "doctor" but even a hybrid is illegal in Wyoming. Pure is illegal in CO without very special permits and certification as being a nutter. Love this doctor stuff.


The ranchers have nothing to blame on the low elk numbers or moose numbers. They for the most part don't allow hunting on their land. You don't live here you don't know anything about Wyoming you believe all the media propaganda


Well Chris, the ranchers sure do have an impact on the local wildlife,their "imported" animals are eating the same food,drinking the same water as OUR NATIVE WILDLIFE!!Dont the ranchers also get reimbursed for their loss due to wildlife? And how about the "free" service form Wildlife Services(USDA) that the American tax payer pays for....did I mention for FREE? They have programs(state sponsored)where Farmers and Ranchers "charge" a fee to hunters to come and eradicate local wildlife that they consider a nuisance. This is SOOOOOOO one-sided that when ever people like you open your mouth, most people hear bla bla bla bla blabla bla bla.....kill!


No one will ever stop me from caring for wolfdogs. No law will ever go unchallenged that attempts to dictate over people's freedom to be secure in their possessions. An attempt to pass such a "law" was shot down in my state, and only the ignorant and weak will lie down and let stupid legislation dictate their lives. They poach, we'll breed. Once, it was illegal to have a Mexican, Indian or Jewish spouse. If people think they can enforce laws denying one's right to hold and love a living thing, animal or otherwise, they are living in a Stalin-esque Dreamworld. (Or, nightmare), and can take a walk!


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Wolves, like other predators, belong. The West was teeming with all forms of life prior to the American annexation and the destruction of the West by certain interests which extirpated wolves, and tried to do so with coyotes, cougars, bobcats and just about everything else--including indigenous peoples. As a scientist who lives and works with wildlife of all types, I am sick and tired of the ignorant whining and downright venom and hysteria against an animal who adds much to the world. healthy elk and deer herds need healthy predators--and that includes wolves. As for concerns about wolves and livestock--clear evidence indicats more cattle and sheep are killed by himan motorists than by wolves. Shall we kill all the motorists as wellas all the predators?


Yo Doc, I'd go easy calling people ignorant, I mean Lewis and Clark kept careful records on numbers and species and it's a matter of historic record that the west had very little wildlife when they went through. Indians ate em, just like they wiped out half the mega fauna species by overhunting. Hunting and trapping wolves is just as good for wolves as wolves eating elk and moose. Healthy wolf packs need hunting and trapping. I'd like to help all the wolves all the way back to Yellowstone.


what about trapping and snaring of wolf hunters? do you support that?


DrWanakillawolf just because Lewis and Clark didn't SEE the wildlife, doesn't mean it wasn't there.They didn't have ATVs,gps,airplanes,4x4s, helicopters....any modern technology, it was the 1800's. Are you trying to keep with the tradition of the natives and wipe out the rest of OUR wildlife?


Well...... Being Native, I can own any animal I want, if you aren't satisfied that you have exterminated enough Natives, perhaps you should have your head examined. 2nd, my wolf died in 2009 after 15 years of winning the heartd of people in 3 different countries. 3rd, You can't catch me, so just keep huffin...


Actually, Lewis and Clark traveled through a West that was teeming with wildlife of all descriptions. Bison herds so vast that Lewis and Clark once had to wait for over an hour for a herd to pass before they could continue their travels. Herds of bison that they estimated to number in the tens of thousands. Deer, pronghorn, coyotes and wolves by the hundreds. Scores of grizzlies. Only in a few stretches of the wildest country, such as the Bitterroot Range, was game difficult for them to find. I'm not taking a side on the argument of returning wolves to Colorado, because I question whether adequate habitat remains, but I just wanted to correct some blatant misinformation I saw here.


Travis, Lewis and Clark kept careful records and there have been careful studies of their findings. Wildlife was abundant only in the buffer zones between warring peoples. All areas showed classic optimal foraging theory. http://evergreenmagazine.com/app/portal/mm/Kay_Number_6.pdf Waiting for you to "correct blatant misinformation" you found here. Scott, Counting signs of and species numbers as one walks is a very modern method of estimating relative population numbers and is called a transect. I've no doubt that the people with Lewis and Clark were very skilled at noting animals and sign.


And no matter how many times the blatant misinformation reappears, I still don't swallow it. You can pull the wool over the eyes of only those who do not know what they are talking about. I have read the journals and the stunning descriptions of the vast wildlife they encountered. For a while, L&C was what my job was about. I am neither going to let blatant information go uncorrected nor argue about something irrelevant to the article. I could quote date and journal page and I can see it still wouldn't matter to you. That is a pretty good working definition of a closed mind. Adios.


Travis I gave you a link to a statistical analysis of Lewis and Clarks animal sightings done by a professor and wildlife biologist in Utah. It was a large study with many data points. You are free to hold any opinion you'd like, I'm simply supplying you and anyone else reading something else to think about.


That is more like something to step in than someting to think about. The original sources, Lewis' journal, Clark's journal, even Sgt. Gass' journal, are entirely clear about the immense abundance of wildlife of all sorts. responsible secondary sources, as for example Steven Ambrose, completely agree. No name secondary sources are a dime a dozen. You found one you want to believe, so good for you. Just don't bother trying to sell me any more ocean front property in Nebraska. For the final time, adios.


BTW, ever wonder why an article published in Jan-Mar 2007 has received no favorable peer review more than five years later? Consider this sweet little bit of methodology, designed to minimize animal reports and support a pre-existing conclusion: "If Lewis and Clark reported sighting large numbers of a particular animal, a value of ten was assigned to that species on that day." TEN! Of course, you don't make a name for yourself by simply accepting the obvious observations of Lewis, Clark and the Corps of Discovery.


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Come to Wyoming and get all the wolves you want.  The elk will thank you or at least the ones that are still alive.  If you think wolves kill only for food you are wrong.  They kill for sport and will kill any coyote or dog they can hunt down.  This is like saying that Colorado does not have enough bed bugs and that other states are hurting your chances of getting some.  Don't do it!


So, humans kill for fun, torture for sport and don't always eat their kills...shall they be extirpated, too...hmmm...


@ jim, I'm sure the elk would thank the hunters if they stopped hunting them,if they could talk.So would the deer,moose,coyote,bear,mountain lion,fox...... Speaking of "sport", human hunters do the same thing and call it a "sport", what kind of sport involves killing your competition? Animals have no clue what "sport"means and they DON'T kill for "sport", only humans DO!


Ya Jim is correct and I have many traps that will hold a wolf and I am also a trapper


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