Elk hunters were among the first in line to object to wolf reintroduction in the Lower 48, but a new study suggests that mountain lion hunters may have had even greater cause for concern.
“The big take home of this paper is that wolves have the strongest effect on the survival and abundance of mountain lions in the system,” Dr. Mark Elbroch told MeatEater. Elbroch is the lead author of the study and the puma program director for Panthera, a wild cat conservation group.
“It’s dramatic. Wolves are a power on the landscape. We saw cats respond, but we thought it was anecdotal. The strength of the [wolves’] effects surprised every one of us,” Elbroch said.
Mountain lion populations decreased 48% in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem between 2000 and 2015. Biologists have tried for the last several years to identify the primary driver in this decline. A 2018 study by Elbroch and his colleagues posited that the drop was likely caused by three primary factors: regulated human hunting, wolves killing lion kittens, and increased starvation.
This latest paper, which Elbroch and his co-authors published late last year in the peer-reviewed academic journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, indicates that wolves drive both kitten mortality and starvation, and their impact eclipses human hunting by a factor of four. In concrete terms, the study estimates that just 20 wolves can account for the effects of all human predation in the study area.
(the rest of the story is at the link)
End of the world stuff for sure!!
Man’s best friend is a loyal, dependent side kick. Supposedly A direct Descendent of the wolf. A wolf ‘s bloodline is pure. Only because it didn’t get caught and domesticated. Why, because it was too smart to have that happen.
While I do not doubt the family tree of the canine species, I do believe a wolf is the smartest, toughest, predator on the planet. And, will adapt and survive any where man allows it. Time has shown that. It’s the only mammal predator I know of that can be labeled as such. For good reason too.
That is completely counter to all the biological studies I have read on the effects of the wolf introduction in Yellowstone. Many species of plants (e.g., aspen, willows, cottonwood), songbirds, and smaller mammals have increased and stabilized. The elk and wolf populations inside Yellowstone have also stabilized. I haven’t seen bio data of species “around” Yellowstone. If you have some scientific journals on the subject I’d like to read them.
Yeah the elk have stabilized… at an all time low after being decimated. Conservationist? You have no idea you anti hunting tree hugging idiot. I’m not candy coating my comments to you. I’ve seen enough to know how you think. We’ve all read that article. It’s old. Wolves made the fishing better and the skies bluer. Even Old Faithful is spouting off more often right! Do you realize how gullible you look? No… you don’t. Go have another glass of Kool Aid and hug a tree!
You use emotionally loaded humanized words like “decimated” “killer” or other terms in regards to wolves. Then you blast the antis for humanizing wolves through their stupid loaded Disney words about wolves. You, and I mean you personally, ironically cast human emotions on wolves just like the anti-hunters and tree huggers. And on that subject, I’ve sit across the table from environmental groups. I’ve engaged with them on their illogical preservationist outlooks. You are the poster boy for what they are looking for to push their agenda. Grow up you emotional man-child.
I understand impacts to those who live with wolves. The impacts to ranchers is real. I understand that. It wasn’t what the OP was about.
I never used the word killer. But I could. An animal that takes the life of another animal and doesn’t even consume it isn’t a subsistence hunter. It’s a killer.
The word decimated is definitely applicable. If Yellowstone isn’t an example of the decimation caused by wolves ask the people in Wisconsin and Minnesota how the deer hunting is going. Ask them if the wolves have stabilized their big game populations.
A flatlander like you wouldn’t last 10 minutes in a neighborhood where wolves actually exist. A place where you don’t need articles or charts to know the facts. But here are a couple charts for your viewing pleasure. Fact. No peer reviews needed. I’ll let you Google up the deer and moose facts in Wisconsin Minnesota and Michigan’s UP. But you won’t.
Thanks for the charts. I’ve seen those. Part of the reason for the Yellowstone reintroduction was to reduce the elk population in the park. It will be interesting to seen if the peaks and valleys of the wolf and elk populations smooth out like what has been observed in the last 12 years or will the populations continue to boom and bust. Also, Canis lupus is native. That is fact biologically and legally as determined in the courts regarding the ESA.
By the way, I have hunted elk with wolves in Idaho. But I understand they are not in my backyard like some here so I realize my real world experience is lacking. A week of hunting in wolf country is not the same as living in wolf country. I understand that.
You fall into a similar category. It’s the brainwashed people. They’re not dead. Not necessarily stupid. They have just filled their brains with an overload of seemingly intelligent seemingly factual information to the point where they are completely unable to see beyond that information to a reality which is in fact very easy to see. As a matter of fact sometimes these people are actually intelligent but that only makes matters worse. They think that people who disagree with them cannot possibly be right. That those people are just rude crude forms of human beings who don’t read enough to know the actual facts. At that point there is nothing you can do or say to convince them that you are actually as smart as them. Your hands on real world experiences go in one ear and right out the other. Common sense has become non existent. Yep, that’s the category you are in. As far as emotional involvement… since people like you are part of the problem… yes I find you irritating. And I’m not the only one. There are other dumb people like me who feel the same way.
Congratulations on your 1 week experience in wolf country. You are hereby officially qualified to support your opinion.
By the way, based on your logic I guess you have no opinion on women’s reproductive rights because you’ve never given birth or the war on Ukraine because you haven’t lived there. See how dumb you sound…and that’s your word. And you say common sense and then claim Canis lupus is not native…say that in a room full of biologists and the reaction will range from eye roll to rotflmao. Common sense my a#%. If that’s your stance then frankly you are really scientifically clueless.
“yes I find you irritating. And I’m not the only one.“. Seriously LMAO. You need a buddies to stand up and make you feel better?
My gut reaction to wolf numbers going from 0 to about 59 animals while there are almost no bison would be that bison would be adversely affected. Maybe even get wiped out. But instead as wolf numbers climb, top out around 100, and later settle around 40 animals bison numbers continue to climb to where at the end of that graph they more than quadruple to 4,000 animals. Super interesting and not what I would have thought would happen. Have to assume this is due to lower elk numbers and prairie opening up to the bison - or what do they say? Like I say I have absolutely no dog in this fight I am just interested.
What would be very interesting from an observing viewpoint is what would happen if they once again eradicated the wolves. Would elk numbers increase and bison decrease? There has to be a carrying capacity of herbivores. I wonder how many acres a single bison "needs" as compared to a single elk. Cool stuff.
Surprise surprise I have as much or probably more experience living alongside wolves than most people on this website. Certainly more than you. I watched what happened to the western Montana moose, elk, and deer with my own two eyes.
And yet I can still honestly say I don’t hate wolves. I just hate the people who fail to realize that they don’t belong here in uncertain and unmanaged numbers.
And by the way all the numbers you see for populations in Yellowstone and surrounding states as well as Wisconsin and Minnesota are way off . By miles. They spread like wildfire. They can’t be managed by hunting alone. Trapping works better but for every one you manage to trap 6 more are born. That’s what makes them like an aggressive cancer to big game and to hunting. Next question/comment?
Mule Power's Link
Mule Power's Link
I posted because someone said all species populations decrease due to wolves in Yellowstone. I posted a credible source showing that wasn’t the case which is also evident in the graph you posted. Then you piped off with your a personal attack.
Best of luck to you and your hunters this season. By the way, I’ve elk hunted on the Idaho side of the Idaho/Montana border in wolf country. Beautiful country.
Observing elk in said park is kinda rare. Moose are almost nonexistent in and out of the park, but hey, at least we have flowers, grass and aspen. When seeing grizzlies and wolves is more common than prey species, it’s not a balanced system.
Well let’s see, at one point they told us there were 16 wolves in our region. In one day I saw 14 in the West Fork, the same morning another guide in a completely different area saw 11, and my brother was way up north in the valley and saw six. If my redneck math serves me correctly that’s nearly double of what you would read in a book. I never wrote that stuff down or made a chart or anything so maybe you don’t consider it data? Are you going to now tell me we all saw the same wolves?
Common sense man, how can they know every time a wolf is born? They only monitor packs with collared wolves. There are other packs splitting off of those packs all the time. You pencil pushers kill me. No matter what I say you’re gonna pull out a piece of paper and tell me I’m full of shit and ask me how would I know.
Have you done any round table discussions on the stabilized elk populations in the Selway Bitterroot wilderness or the Lolo National Forest? Here I’ll simplify it for you: They went down the shitter.
How else would I form an opinion about the accuracy of wolf numbers? I hunted grouse with the local biologist who would regularly tell me that they really didn’t have a clue how many wolves are were. Does that count?
Or how about when they say there are 20 and we kill 4 and they still say there are 20? Could the numbers possibly be just a guess? Absolutely! Gotta tell the people something… anything other than “we don’t know”.
But hey, it’s 2020. We know better now. Whatever our forefathers thought was obviously wrong
Thats 60,000 elk per year. Not every part of the issue is complex.
“ Seems like back in the day it was all elk. Tons and tons of them. Was that a healthy number of elk for Yellowstone? ”
In a word, No.
In two words, HELL, No!
They were really hammering the landscape, and SOMETHING really HAD to be done. There’s plenty of room to disagree about WHAT should’ve been done, but NO question that there was an issue.
But no one had ever had the opportunity to observe how fast wolves could reproduce when placed into an area with a hyperabundance of prey like that, and (speaking only for myself) I really don’t believe that anyone had any idea that the numbers would explode as they did. Or how large the packs would get to be. Or how efficient those enormous packs would be at taking down Elk. Failure of imagination, I suppose. It’s good to have solid data, but there are NEVER solid data for the Unprecedented.
The Problem is that human hunters are generally not happy unless the big game population is kept artificially high… at levels which allow predators to max out their reproductive capacity. Guess you could say that when the hunting is Easy Enough for us humans, it’s just Too Damn Easy for the 24/7/365 predators.
So they increase at an unnatural rate, become hyperefficient, deplete the local herds to an unnatural degree and disperse or move on… into a new area with an unnatural abundance of prey.
That’s the very definition of unsustainable. And when the predators run out of food in socially acceptable (to non-hunters) areas, I’m afraid it’s gonna get Real.
How about this…tell me the year your wolf count happened and what management zone you are talking about. So that’s 30 wolves in which zone in what year? And where were each of you exactly?
We have a term for people like you Mule Power. Barstool Biologists around the U.S. contributions to science include a black panther in every single county in the whole U.S., and Bigfoots from coast to coast (with secret black helicopters to transport each). The barstool bios share a bond with flat earthers, Look to your left and right…flat is it not? Common sense based on personal observations. And there is always “this other guy” or some anonymous elusive “biologists” that said X.
Do you think that most wild populations are counted by simple observation. If you don’t understand the statistics behind how biologists count populations then I’m not explaining it. It’s an estimate because physically counting is typically impossible and prone to error especially with highly mobile and elusive species.
When Yellowstone had too many elk, why did they not open it up to temporary hunting?
We have a park nearby that the deer were decimating the fauna, causing numerous vehicle collisions etc. They opened it up to archery hunting and when that didn’t reduce numbers sufficiently they had sharpshooters come in over a couple nights and handle it. All meat was donated so it was good for PR as well.
I am sure this was thought of? Is it because it is a federal park and gaining permission to do this would be too difficult?
In face to face conversations you were always very reasonable about recognizing the need to manage wolves. And I know you are highly intelligent.
But your comments regarding trained biologists like yourself versus people with credible field experience cause me to share my own experience…
20 years ago when I was helping teach HE/BHE education, I was in attendance with some other instructors for a meeting. We were asked how many deer we killed with archery tackle. A KDWPT biologist was sitting next to me, and his answer was “zero”. I laughed.
How could a person with little experience actually teach?
We had a bet, I said I could guide him to a deer on his first hunt with me. He went from 0 to two on that hunt. PM me, I will provide his name and contact info for you to verify the story. He is a wildlife biologist, ABD, in Oregon now and would agree with Mule Power’s comments over yours.
These guys have real world experience, and I make a living in HE and trust that over peer reviewed published papers from folks who are not actually living what they are publishing about.
Really? I mean… I don’t have a masters in human behavior but myself and Maury Povich would have to say that is a lie. What you are doing is ruining any credibility that your credentials had somewhat given you. You’re also embarrassing yourself. Actual observations, facts, annoy you. That can’t be! Lol I even provided you with pictures and other evidence of my experiences with your furry friends.
You’d be surprised what one can learn by sitting on a stump for awhile instead of at a desk. Mother Nature doesn’t hand out degrees but she’s quite the teacher.
I seen pictures of 3 wolves. Where’s photos of the other 27? Great pictures by the way and great trophies. Did you mount either of those two on the log picture?
“You’d be surprised what one can learn by sitting on a stump for awhile instead of at a desk. Mother Nature doesn’t hand out degrees but she’s quite the teacher.“
Absolutely true. That’s why I spend a lot of hours sitting in a treestand, backpacking and hunting in the mountains, and working in the woods. Learned a lot that you couldn’t from a book.
What zone were you in and in what year?
A few years ago (about 2010?) Bugle Magazine put out a study that compared 3 western states to MN. I think those states were Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. It said that Minnesota had more wolves than those 3 states combined. I believed it back then -- I'm only guessing here, but I think they have most likely caught up with us by now.
For you to "attempt" to have us believe you over Mule Power is laughable. How can you possibly, even attempt to discredit someone who has first hand knowledge (backed up with photos, and testimonials from others) as to wolf issues?????
You sound just like Dana, who continued to call Mike U. a liar when he was giving us first had accounts of the on-going trucker rally in Canada.
You are another typical liberal who refuses to believe what is fact compared to so called "scientific data" put together and disseminated by pro-wolf bias!
Am I anti-wolf? YOU BET I AM!
My pastor like to say if you put your faith in any man, you will surely be disappointed. He also likes to say we are not in heaven yet, the earth is the devils domain.
Wolves, covid, indoctrinating kids into really wierd sexual stuff in preschool and grade school, legalizing mind altering drugs, promoting gambling, alcoholism, take your pick, it's all a part of the devils plan here on earth. I'll take the Bibles word over any peer reviewed science.
The second most important commandment in the Bible is love your neighbor. It's not love your ecosystem, or your planet by reducing carbon emmisions. I can't figure out just how introducing wolves is loving your neighbor, it just isn't helpful.
Well said grasshopper.
Furthermore what do you care? Let’s get a few things straight. For all practical purposes it’s safe to say that compared to the original number of wolves that we were forced to accept, non native ones I might add, the term we can accurately use to describe the current population is a “shitload”.
Also very important to this debate between you and the rest of the people on this website who support the preservation of our hunting heritage is the FACT that the people who ramrodded the dumping off of wolves in the lower 48 hired people like you with tape between the lenses of their glasses and 13 pens in their shirt pocket to go to court to assist their attorneys in presenting their case to the judges, the ones that are often bought and paid for from places like California and also in their back pocket, to prevent state game agencies from doing their job which is managing wildlife through scientific methods to include using hunters and trappers as one of their tools.
They did so at the expense of other species of big game which reveals the FACT that they are not animal lovers at all but instead merely anti hunters. The FACT that you support their ideas and are here arguing about it makes you one of them. Part of the problem. And like many other non hunters who send donations to fund these expensive lawsuits you don’t even realize that at the end of the day you are also an anti hunter. The fact that you deer hunt and went to Idaho once is irrelevant. So instead of asking questions like “how many hunters were there” or “what year and what zone was that” so you can go gather data to support your next line of pro-wolf bullshit why don’t you just do us all a favor and delete your Bowsite account and go become a member of Howling for Justice and spend your time conversing with people who are on the same side of the fence as you? We’ve heard enough.
The facts are the facts. There are too many wolves and they are reducing the number of big game animals at an alarming rate which is eliminating hunting opportunities. Period. So go back to my second post and take the advice I gave you in the first sentence!
You all can try to paint me as an anti-hunter or a pro wolfer if it makes you feel better. I posted because someone else posted that species populations went down in Yellowstone after the reintroduction of native (no matter how many times you say non-native you’re wrong every time) gray wolves. That statement is false and hyperbole (a.k.a facts to Mule Power) and I posted a link and Mule posted a chart that disproved it. So ironic Mike Power says the population numbers are of and then posts a chart with population numbers that were obtained using the same scientific methods to count wolves. Which is it?
Your bias, words, and negative attitude towards wolves do a hell of a lot more damage to the hunting community than me seeing ecological value in a native top predator. Am I promoting unchecked populations of reintroduction initiatives by popular vote? Hell no. I’ve said that many times here.
By the way, you pointed out that you have elk in Pennsylvania. I’m sure you were so upset when they introduced that “non-native” elk species to your state…eye roll. I mean how could they dare introduce the Rocky Mountain subspecies to eastern Pennsylvania woodlands.
I figured you wouldn’t answer the question. There are “s#%tloads” of wolves. Got it lol.
Your post just proves my point…dum#%!.
First of all if you back up you’ll see that I’ve never said anything about exterminating them. I haven’t spoken in a derogatory manner such as “Shoot all of the bastards”. If I felt that way you’d know it. Like most hunters I respect all wildlife. I don’t give human qualities to them and so I don’t think they intentionally do us or our big game harm. I’ve told many people who do have a hatred for them that they never had a meeting and said let’s go kill all the elk. Let’s screw the outfitters. Wolves are just being wolves. I don’t fault them for that.
I can still remember the first wolf I saw. He was a huge one! He was sitting on his haunches on a hilltop above my main camp just watching us. We were securing loads onto a string of mules. He didn’t seem to have a worry in the world. Just sat there and stared at us. At the time they were still protected by the ESA so the idea of shooting a wolf never crossed my mind. In fact I enjoyed the experience and thought wow they really are here that was pretty damn cool!
But things changed fast. Instead of seeing moose along the creekside trails all we saw were piles of bones. There were literally zero moose! Gone. Then elk got harder to find. During archery they weren’t nearly as vocal. When we did hear bulls bugle they would soon go silent and vanish and right where they were standing would be a pack of howling wolves. But we still weren’t shooting them. We didn’t yet realize that we were looking at would become cancer to our big game and to hunting itself.
Eventually we reached and exceeded the population goals per the reintroduction plan. That’s when the problems started. That’s when it became obvious that the pro wolf people were not about just preserving an endangered species. The number of wolves didn’t matter at all anymore. They changed the subject. It was now about a more diversified gene pool. We had a wolf hunting season for one year. It enraged them. They employed pencil pushing geeks like you from everywhere other than wolf country to go to court with charts and diagrams and projections of what it was going to take to save the species. A specie that by the way was alive and well all across Canada, the Yukon, and Alaska. Thriving actually. Never mind also that we already had packs of wolves right here in the lower 48. They put the whole pile of propaganda on judge Malloys desk in Missoula and won. Our hunting season was canceled. At that time we had reached the tipping point. We couldn’t afford to lose another year without controlling the wolf population. By then the wolves were brave. They seem to know our hands were tied. One day they’d chase my horses through the portable corral fence. The next day they would be right back there 50 yards from the cook tent howling away looking for their next meal. They just did as they pleased. If they started targeting livestock fish and game would be forced to eliminate them from helicopters. But the wolves in the back country went unmanaged and unchecked. The pro wolf people didn’t care about the elk the deer or the moose. They didn’t care about the livestock, the ranchers or the outfitters and hunters. So at that point fair became fair. But even then I can tell you that when someone pulled the trigger on a wolf they didn’t whisper “Damn wolves” they said “Damn anti hunters” They are the true enemies to hunting. . Because for the wolf huggers the elimination of hunting meant mission accomplished.
As a true hunter there is at least a small amount of remorse every time you take a life. The same goes for wolves. But the one thing that made it a little better was the fact that taking the life of a wolf was the fault of the people who gave a hunter no other choice. If they had let the state game agencies manage wolves like they do successfully with every other species of animal it wouldn’t have had to come to that. Besides it wasn’t going to make a difference anyway. Every spring when litters of pups are born the population doubles anyway.
Today not a lot has changed. We have wolf hunting seasons but they are useless in managing the populations. The only thing that reduces the population or relocate wolves when they eat themselves out of house and home. Or when a pack is eliminated by the authorities. Meanwhile the pro wolfers are still at it. Right now they’re focus is on Colorado. They’re really good at what they do so success is imminent down there. Maybe they’re coming soon do a neighborhood near you flatlander to be honest I hope that happens. And because like I said it’s not the wolves I have hatred for. It’s the people that put them there and lied to us and people like you who continue to spread their propaganda with a stack of papers on your desk and typing your nonsense on websites like not giving a shit about what people see with their own two eyes. So there you have it I’m not a wolf hater. I don’t have a problem with a balanced ecosystem. But the fact is the nature of wolves makes it nearly impossible to keep them in check. So you keep on fighting your fight and will keep fighting ours. But to do it on a page where the members are all hunters and know the truth about wolves and people like you is ridiculous. You don’t even mind that you get no respect here. Makes me wonder if you’re not on their payroll books too.
Do you know what the best g difference is between the wolves that live here now and the native ones is? That’s easy…. It’s the people like you. We didn’t have people like you when the original wolves were present.
I don’t know how to say this more plainly. Wolves have ecological value. Wolf populations need to be controlled and the best method is hunting. Wolves should be managed by wildlife agencies not courts.
Hearing about your experience with wolves is real and I can empathize. If I was an outfitter competing with them or they go after my horses it would definitely stick in my brain. I understand that. But I’ve not advocated that wolves go unchecked. Actually I’m advocating the opposite through hunting. But it’s the wildlife biologists and state game managers who should do it using the current proven population count methods and goals that balance predators, prey/big game, and the ecosystem.
That is not your public land, it’s ours.
Edit: To your last post, your views of the elk vs wolf reintroduction and them being native makes you a hypocrite. Biologically it’s the exact same situation with subspecies. If those Pennsylvania elk are “native” (by your own definition) then so are the wolves in Yellowstone and MT. Either they both are or are not.
MP’s point about the elk in PA not causing a detrimental impact on other wildlife was the point worth reflecting on IMO, not whether they are the same sub-species.
Outfitters are telling you from experience that wolves are decreasing game populations. At some point this translates into lower license sales, which means less money for game departments to manage all species. Hopefully we all agree this is not our goal?
Further, he is saying that biologists like yourself stating wolves have value in the eco-system is what antis focus on to use in courts to prevent sound biological management.
Your acknowledging this belatedly causes a credibility doubt. Too many guys here with solid hunting reputations have stated their observations in WI and other states, enough so that true hunter biologists ought to be screaming at the current mis-management, not offering support to those who have an agenda, whether that support is inadvertent or not.
I think it’s funny and sad that the people who are calling the shots on wolf management aren’t wildlife experts, but in fact judges in places that have no clue on wildlife.
Hunting by humans brings bushiness and revenue and provides money for wildlife conservation. Wolves and human hunting can’t coexist in my opinion.