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Old 02-28-2012, 05:59 PM   #1
scoutdog5
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Default wolf/elk article in Oregonian

An article appeared in Saturday's Oregonian that contained some interesting quotes. Here are the highlights or lowlights depending on your point of view.

quotes are in red, my comments are in black.

Article statement: "Idaho elk numbers have fallen from 125,000 to 103,000 since about 1997."

Quote by Craig White, an Idaho Dept of Fish and Game biologist in Boise: "What we found in the backcountry zones, we found wolves were the primary cause of mortality."

Article Statement: In Idaho, wolves exploded from 35 in 1996 to roughly 800 a decade later." My comment, too bad we can't figure out a way to get deer and elk herds to increase at that rate.

Hilary Cooley, regional wolf coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service in Boise. "Oregon's wolves probably won't multiply that rapidly." My comment, WHY NOT? WHAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT IN OREGON? She then goes on to say: Few expected idaho's wolves to increase at the rate they did.

Oregon dept of Fish and Wildlife biologist Bruce Eddy of La Grande: "Oreogn's elk numbers already are trending downward, and have been for more than a decade. My comment, so ODFW knows that elk populations have been trending downward for more than a decade, but has actually been increasing both the number of antlerless tags and days they can be hunted over that same time frame.

Suzanne Stone, spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife in Boise blamed Idaho's 20,000 black bears, 3,000 Cougars and numberless coyotes for most of the state's deer and elk predation." My comment, to my knowledge, this is the first time one of the environmental groups has admitted that predation is a factor in decreasing populations. It is interesting to note that Defenders of Wildlife has 530,000 members, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, far and away the largest hunting organization, has around 170,000 as I recall.

Sean Stevens, spokesman for Portland based Oregon Wild: " I think the level of support for wolf recovery in Oregon is much different than what you have in Idaho." My comment, reading between the lines, he is saying that Oregon will support greatly reduced elk populations and hunting opportunity to support higher number of wolves. This is the crux of the problem, in my opinion. The Oregon wolf plan calls for delisting when there are 4 separate packs operating in Eastern Oregon. Let's assume that ODFW actaully petitions for delisting once this happens, far from a sure thing, in my view. You can expect several of the wolf support groups will immediately file suit. Whether or not they will win is immaterial, because the only way ODFW can defend their position is to go the governor and have him authorize the attorney general to defend the suit? Assuming our current governor is still in office, does anyone see that happening? i certainly don't. End result, wolves keep expanding, elk keep dying, and eventually, hunting has to be curtailed.

Next, the most depressing quote in the article:

Charles Kay, senior research scientist at Utah State University "Oregon elk herds eventually will shring to 10% of what the environment could otherwise support because of wolves." Kay has made detailed evaluations of Yellowstone National Park and the southern Canadian Rockies wildlife, and bases his forecast on what happened in Canada in the 1980's when wolves returned and big game populations fell. My comments, 10% would put us somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 elk in Eastern Oregon, down from slightly less than 60,000 today.

And finally, just to put the icing on the cake, some unassailable logic based on solid research and experience by ODFW biologist Eddy, who is dubious about his predictions: "Nature is way too complicated to make that sort of prognostication. Elk are currently overrunning the Zumwalt Prairie in NE Oregon's Wallow County. An estimated 3,400 elk threaten to overgraze the unique grassland. We are looking to figure out ways to get rid of them". My comment, typical odfw reaction, keep your head in the sand, ignore what has happened in other places, Yellowstone, Alberta, the Bitterroots, Lolo Pass, and hope for the best. As to Zumwalt Prairie, this is a Nature Conservancy property, and surrounding private land, that has very, very limited hunting and no public or vehicle access. That is why the elk are there. If you want them to move, close a bunch of roads on the surrounding public land, and stop hunting elk for 6 months of the year.

The idea that somehow Oreogn will fare better than other places once wolf numbers reach 300-400 is ludicrous. We already have extremely low bull ratios, high harvest rates on cows, low calf ratios, high predation by bears and cougars, etc. None of the other areas where wolves have flourished have been in as poor of shape as we are. PUt 600-800 wolves in Eastern Oregon, which is the goal of some groups, and we will see a crash in elk populations that will make the reductions in other places look like a minor fluctuation.

The only question left to be decided is if we are willing to do the things necessary to at least slow this down, reduced harvest, better protections from harassment through closing roads, reduced populations of Cougars and Bears, etc.

Scoutdog

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Old 02-28-2012, 06:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Do you have a link to the article?
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Quote:
Originally Posted by daiello91 View Post
Do you have a link to the article?
http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-no...experienc.html

Here is the link. Interesting article. Oh and being this is my first post, just thought I'd say ifish is a great site and I love reading everyone's thoughts, I have learned a bunch. I hope to learn even more.
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Very good points. Hopefully, Oregon hunters chose to pull their heads out of the sand and choose to ally themselves with the ranchers for strict wolf mangement control. This is the only hope that we have. Oregon doesn't have enough prohunters to undergo this fight themselves. Idaho and Montana have had an hard enough time and they have a greater percentage of prohunters in their populations.
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoutdog5 View Post
Next, the most depressing quote in the article:

Charles Kay, senior research scientist at Utah State University "Oregon elk herds eventually will shring to 10% of what the environment could otherwise support because of wolves." Kay has made detailed evaluations of Yellowstone National Park and the southern Canadian Rockies wildlife, and bases his forecast on what happened in Canada in the 1980's when wolves returned and big game populations fell. My comments, 10% would put us somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 elk in Eastern Oregon, down from slightly less than 60,000 today.


Scoutdog
True it is depressing news, but the bright side is we are no where near 100% of the carrying capacity now due to already overpopulated cougar and bear populations so we don't have too far to fall. Of course I am being sarcastic about there being a bright side.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

"Oregon's 60,000 Rocky Mountain elk in the Blue Mountains"

Whoa, there are 60,000 elk in the blues? I've been hunting the wrong side of the state.
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Old 02-29-2012, 09:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

I think the stat is for everything east of Hwy 97. Far more than the blue mountains.

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Old 03-01-2012, 12:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoutdog5 View Post

Oregon dept of Fish and Wildlife biologist Bruce Eddy of La Grande: "Oreogn's elk numbers already are trending downward, and have been for more than a decade. My comment, so ODFW knows that elk populations have been trending downward for more than a decade, but has actually been increasing both the number of antlerless tags and days they can be hunted over that same time frame.
Are you talking about the youth anterless hunts? I have been seeing a decrease in the number of antlerless tags (not counting youth), antlerless hunts discontinued, and tag number restrictions for archery hunters. Things may finally be changing.

And finally, just to put the icing on the cake, some unassailable logic based on solid research and experience by ODFW biologist Eddy, who is dubious about his predictions: "Nature is way too complicated to make that sort of prognostication. Elk are currently overrunning the Zumwalt Prairie in NE Oregon's Wallow County. An estimated 3,400 elk threaten to overgraze the unique grassland. We are looking to figure out ways to get rid of them". My comment, typical odfw reaction, keep your head in the sand, ignore what has happened in other places, Yellowstone, Alberta, the Bitterroots, Lolo Pass, and hope for the best. As to Zumwalt Prairie, this is a Nature Conservancy property, and surrounding private land, that has very, very limited hunting and no public or vehicle access. That is why the elk are there. If you want them to move, close a bunch of roads on the surrounding public land, and stop hunting elk for 6 months of the year.
I think this is very sad to hear an ODFW biologist bring up Zumwalt Prairie and make it seem all of Oregon is experiencing elk overgrazing, destroying unique habitat, and wanting to get rid of the elk. The big picture needs to be talked about. Zumwalt Prairie a Nature Conservancy property with surrounding private land with very limited hunting and no public or vehicle access is only one tiny issues compared to what is going on in Oregon.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Scoutdog,

Thanks for posting this and the elk study conclusions.
Having hunted the Absaroka wilderness area North of Yellowstone Park a lot both pre wolf and post wolf I have seen first hand what these non-native invasive species has done to the elk herds there. It is worse than they are telling us. Not often mentioned is what the wolves have done to the moose population. The moose have been virtually exterminated to the extent that all moose hunting has been stopped.

How anyone can think that the wolves will do anything different in Oregon than they did in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho is beyond me. What is really scary is that the elk populations in those three states was growing and healthy when the wolves were first released. In contrast Oregon's elk are already dwindling. If Oregon's wolf population expands like other states we can pretty much kiss our hunting goodbye.

We really need to get organized, active and vocal.

Doug


UOTE=scoutdog5;4028839]An article appeared in Saturday's Oregonian that contained some interesting quotes. Here are the highlights or lowlights depending on your point of view.

quotes are in red, my comments are in black.

Article statement: "Idaho elk numbers have fallen from 125,000 to 103,000 since about 1997."

Quote by Craig White, an Idaho Dept of Fish and Game biologist in Boise: "What we found in the backcountry zones, we found wolves were the primary cause of mortality."

Article Statement: In Idaho, wolves exploded from 35 in 1996 to roughly 800 a decade later." My comment, too bad we can't figure out a way to get deer and elk herds to increase at that rate.

Hilary Cooley, regional wolf coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service in Boise. "Oregon's wolves probably won't multiply that rapidly." My comment, WHY NOT? WHAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT IN OREGON? She then goes on to say: Few expected idaho's wolves to increase at the rate they did.

Oregon dept of Fish and Wildlife biologist Bruce Eddy of La Grande: "Oreogn's elk numbers already are trending downward, and have been for more than a decade. My comment, so ODFW knows that elk populations have been trending downward for more than a decade, but has actually been increasing both the number of antlerless tags and days they can be hunted over that same time frame.

Suzanne Stone, spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife in Boise blamed Idaho's 20,000 black bears, 3,000 Cougars and numberless coyotes for most of the state's deer and elk predation." My comment, to my knowledge, this is the first time one of the environmental groups has admitted that predation is a factor in decreasing populations. It is interesting to note that Defenders of Wildlife has 530,000 members, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, far and away the largest hunting organization, has around 170,000 as I recall.

Sean Stevens, spokesman for Portland based Oregon Wild: " I think the level of support for wolf recovery in Oregon is much different than what you have in Idaho." My comment, reading between the lines, he is saying that Oregon will support greatly reduced elk populations and hunting opportunity to support higher number of wolves. This is the crux of the problem, in my opinion. The Oregon wolf plan calls for delisting when there are 4 separate packs operating in Eastern Oregon. Let's assume that ODFW actaully petitions for delisting once this happens, far from a sure thing, in my view. You can expect several of the wolf support groups will immediately file suit. Whether or not they will win is immaterial, because the only way ODFW can defend their position is to go the governor and have him authorize the attorney general to defend the suit? Assuming our current governor is still in office, does anyone see that happening? i certainly don't. End result, wolves keep expanding, elk keep dying, and eventually, hunting has to be curtailed.

Next, the most depressing quote in the article:

Charles Kay, senior research scientist at Utah State University "Oregon elk herds eventually will shring to 10% of what the environment could otherwise support because of wolves." Kay has made detailed evaluations of Yellowstone National Park and the southern Canadian Rockies wildlife, and bases his forecast on what happened in Canada in the 1980's when wolves returned and big game populations fell. My comments, 10% would put us somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 elk in Eastern Oregon, down from slightly less than 60,000 today.

And finally, just to put the icing on the cake, some unassailable logic based on solid research and experience by ODFW biologist Eddy, who is dubious about his predictions: "Nature is way too complicated to make that sort of prognostication. Elk are currently overrunning the Zumwalt Prairie in NE Oregon's Wallow County. An estimated 3,400 elk threaten to overgraze the unique grassland. We are looking to figure out ways to get rid of them". My comment, typical odfw reaction, keep your head in the sand, ignore what has happened in other places, Yellowstone, Alberta, the Bitterroots, Lolo Pass, and hope for the best. As to Zumwalt Prairie, this is a Nature Conservancy property, and surrounding private land, that has very, very limited hunting and no public or vehicle access. That is why the elk are there. If you want them to move, close a bunch of roads on the surrounding public land, and stop hunting elk for 6 months of the year.

The idea that somehow Oreogn will fare better than other places once wolf numbers reach 300-400 is ludicrous. We already have extremely low bull ratios, high harvest rates on cows, low calf ratios, high predation by bears and cougars, etc. None of the other areas where wolves have flourished have been in as poor of shape as we are. PUt 600-800 wolves in Eastern Oregon, which is the goal of some groups, and we will see a crash in elk populations that will make the reductions in other places look like a minor fluctuation.

The only question left to be decided is if we are willing to do the things necessary to at least slow this down, reduced harvest, better protections from harassment through closing roads, reduced populations of Cougars and Bears, etc.

Scoutdog[/QUOTE]
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Old 03-10-2012, 01:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: wolf/elk article in Oregonian

Article statement: "Idaho elk numbers have fallen from 125,000 to 103,000 since about 1997."

This statistic is pure fantasy and is most likely based on a false assumption (ex. that for every one they see there must be six or more that they don't see.)
The numbers are by far much, much worse. I work with population statistics for a living and I grew up in Idaho and moved to Oregon six years ago. I am very comfortable in saying that there are less than 25% of the elk and mule deer left in southern and central Idaho than there was ten years ago. There are places where it is not that bad but across the board all numbers are down in every category. The winter range predation is out of control and most of the animals killed are pregnant females and have only the fetus and liver eaten.
If you care about the wildlife and your outdoor opportunities to hunt, fish, camp, hike with a dog. Do something before more damage can be done.
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