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Columns - Monthly : Lobo Watch
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2010 - 1:11:39 PM
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Wyoming-Wolf.jpg

Which Wolf Is The Right Wolf? Pt 1
By Toby Bridges
Apr 20, 2010 - 4:27:02 PM

USFWS Coordinator Ed Bangs...Come On Down...You Are The Next Contestant On... Which Wolf Is The Right Wolf?
        
    If it seems that I pick on Ed Bangs, who has coordinated the Wolf Recovery Project of the Northern Rockies since it first kicked off, it is probably because like the vast majority of sportsmen in this region of the country...I honestly feel he deserves it.  As the coordinator of this project, Bangs has had many opportunities to do things right, to influence proper decisions, or to actually be the deciding voice in many factors which could have greatly minimized the damage wolves are now inflicting on other wildlife species.

    Instead, with a very discernible air of arrogance, it seems that the head of this project has very purposely chosen the path and decisions that are now seeing the rapid destruction of elk, deer, moose and other big game populations.  To growing numbers of hunters who cannot comprehend why, it is becoming more and more apparent that this is very likely the outcome the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was seeking when it opened the door and released the first wolf back into Yellowstone National Park back in 1995.

    Even before the release of that first wolf, noted wolf experts and researchers were taking the validity of "reintroducing" wolves into this ecosystem to task.  One of those who did was author Will Graves, who spent ten years researching wolves in Russia and authored the great book "Wolves in Russia".  In that book Graves takes an in depth look at wolf ecology, the threats wolves pose humans, and the unbelievable effort, manpower and equipment the Russian government has had to expend to get any degree of control on rapidly growing wolf populations.

 
Hunters in Idaho and Montana may never see a sight like this again in their lifetimes. Before wolves, elk herds throughout much of the Northern Rockies were at an all-time record level. In many of those same areas, wolves have killed 80-percent of the herds.

  In early October 1993, before any wolves had been (knowingly) released anywhere in the Northern Rockies, Will Graves addressed in a letter to Ed Bangs, the Environmental Impact wolves would have on the region, and the threat wolves would pose human health and life.  Likewise, he warned Bangs of the imposing loss of wildlife to wolf depredation, and how the USFWS Environmental Impact Statement was clueless to the damage that lay ahead.

    In that letter, Graves comments, "I do not understand the wide discrepancy in the number of prey animals projected to be killed annually by one gray wolf in YNP/Idaho, and the numbers of prey animals killed annually by one gray wolf in Russia.  The Soviets have professionally documented the number of prey animals "normally" killed by one wolf in one year.  I realize there are many factors involved.  However, Soviet literature states that one gray wolf will kill 50 deer each year (about 1 per week), or up to 90 saiga (saiga tatarica L.) or 50 to 80 boar, or about 8 to 10 moose.  I understand that the U.S. estimate is one wolf will kill one deer every 23 days.  Why is there such a difference in these figures?"

Will Graves' book, "Wolves in Russia", takes an in depth look at the damage wolves cause other wildlife populations, and the dangers that wolves present to humans. It's a good read that will open your eyes.

    He goes on to comment, "Russian and Soviet literature is filled with examples reporting that wolves kill extremely large numbers of game and domestic animals.  In the Krasnoyarskij region, wolves kill 30,000 to 40,000 reindeer and 700 to 800 moose each year.  In the Putorana Plato, just east of Norilsk, wolves kill about 20,000 reindeer each year."

    These numbers are just for what wolves kill for food, even back then, before wolves were released into the Northern Rockies, the USFWS was warned about what some very questionable "wolf experts" now like to call "surplus killing"...or sport killing just for the fun of killing, eating nothing.

 
Sport killing evident with this cow elk.

   "It is well documented that wolves are lustful killers.  Look at some of the figures.  Here are some examples from Soviet literature.   Eight wolves killed 50 reindeer in about two days.  In 1978 one wolf killed 39 reindeer in one attack, and another wolf killed 29 in one attack.  A pack of wolves killed over 200 sheep in a few short attacks.  There are many, many examples of lustful killing of animals by wolves in the former USSR," wrote Will Graves. 

    He went on to share with Bangs that the problem was not just a problem in Russia, and that Swedish reindeer owners have realized the same levels of wolf depredation, and that the majority of those owners reject any efforts to protect wolves.  In that letter, he asks Bangs, "Does the FWS expect that wolves in the U.S.  will not carry out lustful killing attacks, especially during periods of crusted or heavy snow?  What impact would these attacks have on the populations of small game herds?  Do the U.S. estimates on the number of prey expected to be taken by wolves account for any lustful attacks?"


      The predation factor was just one of many issues that Will Graves addressed in his letter to Ed Bangs in October 1993.  In that letter, he also shared the likelihood and probability of wolves spreading parasites, such as the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm, wolf attacks on humans (which became fairly prevalent in Russia, where the common man was denied ownership of a firearm for protection), public misconceptions about wolves, and among other things, the high cost of managing wolves.  Graves pointed out that during the years he spent researching wolves in Russia, the Soviet government was spending about $45-million annually to keep these apex predators under some semblance of control.

Wolf depredation makes a significant dent in big game populations. However, wolves also impact the health of the herds by keeping elk, deer and other big game run thin, making it harder for them to survive winter. The cow elk, all skin and bones, moved right into town to escape wolves.

   Everything that Will Graves addressed in that Fall 1993 letter to the "man in charge" of the Wolf Recovery project is now playing out here.  Did Ed Bangs ever address any of these concerns with Will Graves?

    No!

     Instead, he and the others with the Western Wolf Recovery Project team began to oppose such already established data, making many new false claims about wolves.  And shifted their lies and deceit into high gear - starting with the wolf used for their "reintroduction" of this destroyer of wildlife into a region where nearly a hundred years of conservation work had brought elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pronghorn, and other wildlife populations back to record or near record levels.  And the wolf they dumped here is very likely the most controversial issue in this wildlife disaster.

    Wolves are one of those species that has many different subspecies.  In North America, there have been 24 different wolf subspecies recognized by taxonomists - scientists who study the differences which make a subspecies a subspecies.   The recognized subspecies that was native to the Northern U.S. Rocky Mountains was Canis lupus irremotus.  The wolf that USFWS has wrongfully used as a replacement is of two, or three, subspecies from the upper reaches of Canada - Canis lupus columbianus, primarily from northern British Columbia; Canis lupus occidentalis (a.k.a. Mackenzie Valley Wolf), from the Yukon; and likely Canis lupus griseoalbus, from northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

    And to some, especially the so-called environmental groups who have pushed for ever growing wolf numbers in the American West, the "bait & switch" used by USFWS is no big deal.  A gray wolf is a gray wolf...right?

The Canadian wolves that USFWS dumped into the Northern Rockies tend to hunt in larger packs than the native "timber wolf" of that region. And being a 30- to 40-percent larger wolf as well, they have no problem bringing down game as large as a moose.

    Well, not exactly.  The native wolf of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming (irremotus), is a medium sized wolf.  Adult males normally topped out in weight at around 80 pounds, with females commonly around 60 pounds at maturity.  The Canadian wolves (columbianus, occidentalis & griseoalbus) are the mega wolves of North America.  Adult males can easily top 140 pounds at maturity, and it's not uncommon for females to top 100 pounds at 7 to 8 years of age.  Being 40-percent larger than the native wolf (irremotus), these Canadian transplants require a lot more wildlife and livestock to keep fed...and to provide for their "sport killing" sprees.

This is not your native Timber Wolf.

    For many decades, wildlife scientists recognized the different subspecies for their obvious physical differences, resulting from how these wolves evolved to better adapt to their native environments.  The Canadian replacements brought in by the geniuses of USFWS are larger, more muscular, more powerful and more aggressive wolves than the wolf which was the product of a million or more years of evolution living in the Northern Rocky Mountain states.  The non-native wolves dumped here, in their native Canadian range, were commonly forced to hunt extremely large areas, maybe 200 to 300 square miles, to keep a pack fed.  And to insure that large game, such as moose and bison, could be efficiently brought down, these giant wolves commonly hunted in packs.  The native wolf of the Northern U.S. Rockies was a more timid, less aggressive wolf that generally hunted alone or in pairs, and typically stayed inside a much smaller range.

    Consequently, Canis lupus irremotus (a.k.a. the "timber wolf") had a much lesser impact on big game populations.

    None of the three Canadian wolf subspecies that were likely transplanted here by the USFWS were ever native to Montana, Idaho or Wyoming.  Furthermore, not one of these subspecies are endangered in its native range in Canada.  What USFWS has done is to introduce a more destructive invasive subspecies that is now destroying our wildlife resources in the upper U.S. Rocky Mountain states.  And the sportsmen who have supported common-sense wildlife management in these states are now, literally, taking up arms to put an end to the idiocy.  They are also now demanding that those who knowingly ignored true "proven wolf science" must now be held legally responsible for the damage done, and for knowingly violating the Endangered Species Act.

Next: Which Wolf Is The Right Wolf? Pt 2


 

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