Huntcell 's Link
from the linked article: ---- edited: link not workin----
"Bears will hunt the calving areas and they have a long memory," he said. "They'll go back to those same areas."
Elk calving grounds are found in the type of terrain that bears frequent in the spring - sunny hillsides with good plant growth, Toman said. Bears feed on vegetation after hibernating to clean their gut. If they find easy-to-kill elk calves along the way, it makes a lasting impression.
"In one study in Idaho, black bears took about 60 to 70 percent of the elk calves in the first couple of weeks,"
"Though predation was the primary source of mortality in calves, we believe that predators are not limiting recruitment in the elk population in our study because summer survival estimates were consistently high."
"We documented relatively high summer malnutrition rates (at least 17 percent of all mortalities) in our study and suggest that some predation is compensatory. In cause-specific mortality studies, it is necessary to investigate mortalities promptly and to assess the nutritional condition of individuals killed."
Based on the study linked, about 14% of calves are taken by predators. The study also alludes to the compounding factor of malnutrition in calf mortality. As with most things in wildlife management....it's all about habitat, habitat, habitat.
I'd think elk would be easier to find and kill because they are in denser concentrations.
In one weekend the researcher documented a single bear killing 14 fawns...
Colorado us a little unique compared to other western states as our bear populations are massive out of whack with the habitat. I am sorry but the Montana study is full of BS. They noted that they lose 14% when the calves are little, but it does not account for the stress, the avoidance, etc. The same study noted above goes on to talk about health, food etc. How much of that is dealing with the increased predator populations? Yes the bear might not catch the calf, but the fact that the mother just spent all her time fighting and avoiding the predator has thus decreased her ability to support the calf.
Also note that in MT there has been some major shifts in the herds and the Elk herds are not spending nearly the time in the mountain that they once did. So I believe that the MT is slightly skewed as more elk are now living year round in and around town, never leaving the sanctuary of the farm fields.
Years ago in the 70s, 80s and most of the 90s, we would get a really hard winter kill and the herd would plummet. However in most cases the herd had recovered its population in 2-3 years.We would have another 3-4 years of good populations then another nasty winter and drop. This was a consistent and predictable cycle up until the late 90s.
Then in the late 90s things started to shift. A hard winters effects lasted longer, 2 year recovery turned into 3-4, then 5-6, and now we have a situation where the herd never really recovers. It barely inches up after a hard winter kill.
Of course the easy culprit in the area was oil and gas. Must be all the development, but the science did not support that. Yes development did have some impact, but in no way was it the limiting factor. Not only did the research not support this, but there were many ways in which the development was actually helping the deer (not to mention the several hundred thousands the oil and gas companies put into the habitats in these areas).
The last leg of the Piceance study was about predators. I have some insight here, but it will be a while before any of it officially comes out. My take is that while the predators are not typically the reason why the population drops, they are a significant, scratch that a very/extremely significant factor in why the populations can not recover. Especially in Colorado where the bear population is 2.5 possibly 3 times the habitats carrying capacity.
And the biologists (and some other “influential” “bowhunting naturalists”) are spouting off that bowhunting is too disruptive to the rut and is causing the cows to not be bred?
Even though their own data is showing that the cows are getting bred but the majority of the calves are not surviving to their first year?
And that country has bears running out their ears! It really does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out...
But Colorado won’t let us.
And the bear regulations make it pretty tough with a lot of limitations.
Been a lot of years where CPw kills more bears than hunters here...
Wolves vs cats on elk
You are exactly right. I feel that many in the CPW know the truth, they have to dance around it due to the politics in the state. We need more data and better studies for support. Look at the article that stringgunner posted above. It somehow discredits the damage done by wolves by stating that lions are worse. It however fails to account for the fact that not many years ago we only had lions. It does not mention that the lion populations have remained steady or increased with wolves, and that the % killed by wolves as a significant increase when compared to pre-wolf introductions.
Again, while the predators might not the be the cause of population declines, they are a significant limiting factor in the herds recovery.
How so? I read the study and they used proven scientific methods to get their data. Their data (as with all science data) has limitations. As you pointed our the results my only represent regional variance. Maybe it is representative of predator/elk calf population dynamic for North America. We don't know that for sure. Maybe that is not what is happening in CO...maybe. Even with the limitations it does not make it "BS." Because you don't agree with the results or it does not align with your personal observations does not make it BS. What is BS is to take anecdotal observations and portray them as fact to arrive at the conclusions that predators and predation must be causing a slower herd recovery. That may be the case (you may be spot on) but put up something to back it up besides personal observation (a hunch). What if all farmers and ranchers decided that we should get rid of all elk (wild grazers) because they compete with their livestock? They observe elk eating their alfalfa all the time; therefore, elk bad and we should just get rid of them. Maybe all farmers/ranchers want to get rid of all predators and wild grazers. Not one of us here would support that. why not? Isn't their need and personal observations just as valid as hunters?
"Especially in Colorado where the bear population is 2.5 possibly 3 times the habitats carrying capacity."
How do you know the bear population is 2.5 to 3 times the "carrying capacity?" If that were true then the bear population in CO would soon crash because there would not be enough food or habitat to support any species exceeding it's carrying capacity that much for that long...regardless or bear hunting. With all due respect, I'm not sure you understand what carrying capacity means.
"Again, while the predators might not the be the cause of population declines, they are a significant limiting factor in the herds recovery."
You state this as fact and the term "significant" has meaning in wildlife management and science. Do you have a source with scientific data that shows this? I'm not saying that bear predation impacts on elk recruitment in CO aren't more than the area studied in Montana or that it does not slow herd recovery. You may be right but it is just unsupported opinion until it's proven scientifically. However, the Montana data is not BS simply because you don't agree with the results. The data is supported with science and it has been peer reviewed. It's not BS but it does have limitations. It's also not unsupported opinion.
I'll cut to the chase here. It does us no good as hunters to promote the managing of predators simply to make for better elk hunting just because they are chasing the same quarry. Not all natural and biological resources on public land are managed simply for hunters. Our public lands and resources are multiuse. The ecosystem matters and predators have their place. Wildlife science has proven this time and time again that predator/prey relationships are important to maintaining healthy populations of both. The population dynamics for both species have been inter-twined long before we were around and they did just fine. There is enough out there for the all of us IMO. By us I mean elk hunters, bear hunters, farmers, ranchers, backpackers, bird watchers, botanists, campers, oil and gas developers, electrical and gas transmission line companies, wildlife photographers, you name it, etc. Just because bears eat elk calves does not mean that they are bad for elk or the ecosystem.
No disrespect to anyone posting here. I just hate to see hunters trying to take the wild out of the wild. Facts are still facts and wildlife management is not based on opinion. Wildlife management does not mean to manage to benefit only hunters. There is enough room for all of us.
Is predation a barrier to population recovery? I don't see why not. The Montana study would support this if predator densities are high, which is what everyone is saying.
My take is just about every predator in the woods thinks calf elk are delicious. First come, first served.
I would think there would be similar results with Elk.
I don't know if my hunting focus shift for this year matters, but it feels right. As bow hunters, most all of us view things from a deeper and wider spectrum. Again, I really appreciate and respect each and every one of yalls posts. Cheers Gents!
As for Colorado Bears... The state wide goal for bears according to DAU plans is 9,500 bears. With a max high end of around 12,000 and a low end being 8,000. These number are derived when you look at individual DAU management plans across the state and add up the goals. When you do this you get the target populations for bears in the state of Colorado. These numbers are based on the factors that wildlife manager consider for setting population goals, habitat being the primary driver. In Colorado the most recent published number put the bear population between 18,000 to 22,000 bears. This was from number released in 2016. Since then data indicate that the bear population has grown each year. With most of the experts agreeing that Colorado likely has closer to 26,000 bears possibly as high as 30,000.
Sorry but you idea that the bear population will crash is wrong. It will not, bears are smart and adaptive animals. So despite the fact they are way overpopulated they are adapting. They are in habitats and places they have no business being in... They are in dumpsters, breaking into cars, killing pets, grabbing small children off porches, bird feeders, dumps (and not just small town rural dumps, like big city dumps) etc. Due to their adaptation ability they will continue to grow and expand in population. Schools go on lock downs due to bears, my son had recess cancelled because a bear was shot and killed less than 100 yards from the playground, etc.
They did't say is was not contributing (not an issue), they said it was not a limiting factor. I think you said the same thing. The study was not designed to look at other additive or compensatory factors like if elk avoided habitat because of predators. It's disingenuous to call it BS when that's not the question they were answering. Try to design a study that takes into account all the possible factors that affect elk calf survival. That's not what they were doing. The study had limitations...agreed. The study is BS...disagree. Because that is what was documented scientifically in MT. It's fact.
"Sorry but you idea that the bear population will crash is wrong. It will not, bears are smart and adaptive animals. So despite the fact they are way overpopulated they are adapting. "
If this is true then they are not above their carrying capacity. There is a difference in overpopulation in relation to humans and encroachment and carrying capacity. There is also a difference in state wildlife population goals and carrying capacity. I never said it would crash. I said if they were exceeding their carrying capacity by 2.5 to 3 then it would crash. That's just population dynamics 101.
I understand what you mean coelker but I don't think it's carrying capacity you are talking about. I think you are trying to say that there is too many bears based on state goals but that still is not carrying capacity.
Herd recovery under a large predator population gets harder and harder on what are essentially islands of habitat. No management means wild swings of boom and bust with decades, not years in between. The beloved "balance" exists only as a snapshot as the populations pass each other, one going down and the other up. As food sources dry up, they don't just lay down and die, the animals spread out looking for new sources. Creating even more issues.
I saw the new Lion King movie has come out. Maybe all the animals can get together and have another giant meeting to figure all this out among themselves....... you know, democracy.... two wolves and a lamb vote on what to eat that night.....
If every bear ate only one calf, that's quadruple the elk that all bowhunters take in a year.
So my guess is Bears eat a lot of Elk calves.