Since When Do We Question Science-based Managment of Wolves

Since When Did It Become OK to Question Science-based Management of Wolves
Research Offers 10 Reasons for Managing Wolves.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

MISSOULA, Mont.— -( Science-based field research, funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, is yielding solid data on why gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming should be managed by state wildlife agencies.

Wolves have been on and off endangered species lists in recent months. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly announced at least partial delisting and state-based management via regulated wolf hunting. But, each time, anti-hunting groups have blocked the effort with lawsuits.

“List, delist, repeat. It’s become an endless cycle driven by those who profit from legal uncertainty over gray wolves,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Tying up this issue in courts defies a proven conservation system that is extremely successful at balancing predatory species within biological and social tolerances.”

The Elk Foundation has long funded scientific research on topics surrounding elk and habitat. Universities and state and federal agencies apply for RMEF research grants and conduct the projects. Researchers present results to peers at professional conferences. New understanding leads to better management strategies for all wildlife in elk country.

Here’s a sample of findings, from many different research projects, that support the Elk Foundation’s position that wolves should be managed this fall via state-regulated hunting.

  1. In the northern Rockies, original wolf recovery goals for population size and breeding pair estimates are now exceeded by over 500 percent and 333 percent, respectively.
  2. Wolf populations in Montana are increasing 10-34 percent annually.
  3. Wolves are the top predator on adult elk, especially bulls. Bears take more calves, but at least black bears can be scientifically managed via hunting.
  4. Cow-calf ratios are commonly lower in areas with both bears and wolves.
  5. Between November and April, wolf packs in Montana kill 7-23 elk per wolf.
  6. Since 2000, elk numbers across non-wolf western states have held relatively stable, while elk populations across Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have dropped a combined 4.2 percent. In many local areas, elk reductions have been dramatic and significant. Wolves are a factor, affecting not only elk numbers, but also their distribution, movement and behavior.
  7. Elk hunting adds nearly $1 billion per year to the U.S. economy.
  8. Hunter opportunity is being reduced to counter declining elk populations in Idaho.
  9. A fully restored—but still federally protected—population of keystone predators is complicating and hindering elk management, as well as conservation itself.
  10. In 1907, only 41,000 elk could be counted in the U.S. Leadership, stewardship and funding from hunters restored elk to their current population of more than 1 million. It’s this resource that made wolf recovery possible. Yet hunters and state conservation agencies are being victimized by continuous delays in wolf management.

Allen encouraged Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work together on a mutually agreeable wolf management plan. This would remove one of the obstacles that conservationists can actually control, enabling regulated wolf hunting alongside Idaho and Montana, he said.

RMEF Official Policy Statement on Gray Wolf Restoration: Updated March 2009

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to remove gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). In the case of the subject of gray wolf populations, ESA protection is no longer legally required or necessary. The recovery plan biological goals for wolves in the Rocky Mountains were attained in 2002. Both population size and breeding pair estimates now exceed recovery goals by 500 percent and 333 percent, respectively. The western Great Lakes population has also exceeded its population goals for several years.

The RMEF supports sound, science-based wildlife management that maintains a sustainable balance between predator and big-game species. We encourage the use of the best available science to finalize this delisting. Biologists, hunters, land managers, private landowners, and other citizens across the nation have worked hard and made sacrifices to achieve recovery for wolves.

RMEF and its primary support base, hunters and anglers, have always supported the legal protection of fish and wildlife species that require protection to survive and flourish.

We believe the following:

When wolf populations meet scientific viability criteria for recovery, they no longer require federal protection under ESA. They should be de-listed if recovery plan goals are met and where regulatory mechanisms are in place to adequately manage the species.

After the wolf is de-listed, scientifically sound wolf management programs administered by state wildlife agencies should maintain sustainable wolf populations to preclude the need to re-list under the ESA.

Reflecting the success of other historic hunter/conservationist-led species recovery programs based on the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation, the management of wolves as game animals should occur in areas designated for wolf occupancy, and wolf seasons should be regulated by the states.

Where and when hunting is deemed appropriate under state regulations, methods used by hunters must conform to Fair Chase principles.

When classified as game animals, wolf populations should be maintained in accordance with the biological and cultural carrying capacities of the habitats they occupy.

Also, management of individual wolves and wolf populations should recognize the need to balance management objectives with respect for private property and human safety.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.6 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at or 800-CALL ELK.

  • 4 thoughts on “Since When Do We Question Science-based Managment of Wolves

    1. The point of my comment was that the majority of the organizations involved in the litigation were not anti-hunting.

      It was only long winded to give some background information regarding these organizations, which you obviously ignored.

      1. Bobalee:

        Just wanted you to know that we read your points even if the other commenters did not…

        Hope to hear more from you…

    2. The problem with long winded reply's like the comment above is that they work under the premise that Fish & Game and Hunters just kill without regards for nature.

      In fact the complete opposite is true.

      USA Hunters and US Hunting based conservation groups have spent more money and done more for the conservation of animals than all the feel good animal organizations in the world combined.

      It is a proven undeniable fact that hunters and wild life resource managers like state fish and game departments a have done more to improve habitat and increase the populations of animals than any of the quoted "people control" groups above.

      There is no logical reason to now assume that these same hunters would suddenly go on a killing spree. In fact as the article above clearly points out that wolves would be better off managed by science based programs that exist under the control of state DNR departments and not by the un-managed system that is currently in placed under the ESA.

      If you really cared about the welfare of all wild animals you would rethink your argument for more feel good wildlife management and take on the real problem which is groups like the ones above spending more money on politics, fund raising and controlling people than on the animals themselves.

    3. The groups that filed for the relisting of the wolf under the ESA in 2008 were not all anti-hunting groups.

      Earthjustice submitted the notice letter on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, and Western Watersheds Project.

      The Humane Society of the United States is the only one of these organizations that is opposed to hunting.

      Here are the statements from the organizations involved:
      Conservation Group Statements:

      “Wolves in the northern Rockies are simply not ready to lose federal protections. America has come too far, and worked too hard, to throw away the successes of the past decade and see wolves in the Yellowstone region end up back where they started.” Suzanne Asha Stone, Defenders of Wildlife

      “There is nothing in the state management schemes or delisting rule itself to prevent the killing of up to 80 percent of wolves in the northern Rockies. Attempts by the Fish and Wildlife Service to assure the public otherwise have no factual basis.” Louisa Willcox, Natural Resources Defense Council

      “Wolves in the northern Rockies are just now on the cusp of biological recovery. State management after delisting will allow the current wolf population to dwindle to three tiny, isolated groups totaling only 300 wolves. No species, including wolves, can survive in those conditions.” Melanie Stein, Sierra Club

      “Just as disturbing as the state management plans that permit killing of hundreds of wolves is the expected increase in federal predator control, including ramped up aerial gunning, leghold traps and even poisoning of wolves. Federal predator control on behalf of the livestock industry is what exterminated wolves in the first place, and that was before the era of helicopter sharpshooters pursuing radio-collared wolves. We will bring this alarming prospect to a court’s attention.” Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity

      “Idaho wins the prize for wanting to kill the most wolves. Wyoming wins for the most blatant hostility toward wolves enshrined in state law. And Montana wears the crown for killing the most wolves 8 of the last 10 years despite having the smallest wolf population of all three states.” John Grandy, Ph.D., senior vice president of The Humane Society of the United States

      “We are concerned that Wyoming will strictly adhere to the language in the state legislation and aggressively eliminate wolves that now occupy Jackson Hole and parts of Grand Teton National Park. With Wyoming’s current plan, wolves two miles from Jackson’s Town Square could be killed by anyone at any time—this is reprehensible.” Franz Camenzind, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance

      “As evidenced by the of State of Idaho’s proposals to aerial gun wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness and to kill up to 75% of the wolves on the Upper Lochsa while wolves remained protected, delisting at this time poses a great risk to the Northern Rockies wolf population, which is still recovering.” Will Boyd, Education Director, Friends of the Clearwater

      “Legal action is necessary to prevent the states from implementing management schemes that have the primary purpose of eliminating, rather than conserving, wolves.” Michael Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies

      “Wolves are just starting to cross the Snake River and begin the process of recovery in the state of Oregon where wolves remain endangered. Prematurely removing the gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species list and allowing Idaho and Wyoming to dramatically reduce wolf populations will delay or even prevent the recovery of the wolf in Oregon.” Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, formerly Oregon Natural Resources Council

      “Wolves are not recovered in the west. There are still public lands with abundant elk and deer populations that can and should sustain these magnificent animals throughout the western states.” Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project

      “Gray wolves in the northern Rockies are near biological recovery, but they aren’t there yet. Now, wolves are staring down the barrel at hostile state management schemes that would ensure the wolf population never achieves sustainable numbers and genetic connectivity.” Jenny Harbine, Earthjustice

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