Wolf reintroduction in Colorado

gnwatts

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Sorry for the soap box here, but I am compelled to comment on this issue as it will be before the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission soon. I would assume Utah has the same issues ahead.

Last night Nancy and I attended a presentation with question and answer period after, on the status of the wolf reintroduction, given by a wildlife biologist. She was clearly biased to reintroducing the wolf back into Colorado (as I am), but it was an interesting evening nonetheless. I wish I could remember her name (I am sure the meeting will be included in one of the local papers soon, I can get her name then), she gave a logical, unemotional case for reintroduction, which revolved around a very simple equation, but has very complicated implications for residents and people who make their living off the land.
Essentially the event turned into a shouting match, all one sided, aimed at the biologist by a handful of ranchers. One or two of them were respectful, but the majority of them were not, not letting others speak, interrupting and so on. I understand that there are always two sides to an argument, but I usually will side with the fact based positions versus ones that use misinformation, emotional bias and accusations of dishonesty.
Wolves are vital to making our natural environment whole again. Their presence affects erosion, plant and animal diversity. Their absence allows other animals to exploit the gap left in our food chain that the wolf once held.
The ranchers all ended up with the same statement, in different ways: What about humans? Well, I am human (mostly), and I would relish hearing a wolf howl near my neighborhood, or out in the backcountry, knowing that our environment is working like it should.
A rancher (now retired), got up and stated that she ran a large sheep ranch just north of Yellowstone, and she did not have a big problem. She was reimbursed when she lost an animal, she implemented the grazing and fencing practices, and it worked. Our ranchers, however, were having none of it. Even though none of them had ever experienced a wolf on their property, they continued to claim that what the biologist said was bullshit, even though she was basing her info on real life observation, and what 20 or so years of scientific observation has shown us.
When an Alpha male or female wolf is either shot or trapped, the hierarchy in the pack goes into turmoil, as the Alphas keep all of the juveniles in check, what to eat and what not to eat. Anarchy ensues, and they start going after animals they shouldn't. Wolves basically like elk (smaller animal too, but to a large extent big game), which is why we have too many elk, who over eat plants near our streams and cause erosion and water and soil degradation. The environment starts to reach a balance.
Cows. I hate cows, but I believe local ranchers should have the ability to graze their animals on OUR land for a fee. But I don't see why (given the fact they would be reimbursed for their loss) they would be upset about wolves. As far as the cow goes, their fate is sealed anyway in some slaughterhouse I would guess. A very un-dignified death! Imagine the privilege (and honor) of being eaten by a wolf!
Humans are part of that balance, and I believe we can all live together. I believe ranchers can still make their living, and preserve their way of life coexisting with wolves. But they need to understand a basic fact, that times change, and if they want to stay and keep doing what they are doing, then they will have to adapt. Because the wolves are coming, eventually. Maybe not in my lifetime, but soon.
 
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BJett

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Fear. It trumps common sense, facts and reason. The pun was unintentional yet fitting.
 

gnwatts

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slc_dan

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I would love to see more wolves return to the Rocky's.

The Yellowstone Wolves: The First Year by Gary Furgeson was a great read. It went behind the scenes of what obstacles are faced when reintroducing such an important predator to the ecosystem.
 

andyjaggy

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Despite the fact that grazing of cattle on our public lands account for only around 1% of total meat production in the country, the ranchers have disproportionately loud voices. Frankly the likes of Bundy and crew is seriously skewing my opinion of ranchers who graze on our public lands, and not for the positive.
 

gnwatts

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I would be interested hearing from any members who live in areas where the wolf has been re-introduced. Get a possibly different perspective.
 

Artemus

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Greg,
I am not in a state with any hope of reintroduction in the near future, to my great dismay. I am however a vociferous proponent of wolves being reintroduced in all of their historic range and an even louder and more active worker against the grazing of cows and sheep on our public lands.

I agree on pretty much all of your points or argument. I have spent a lot of time in Yellystone and the surrounding killing fields adjacent to the park and I have spent time in the heart of the Mexican wolf reintroduction in the Gila wilderness and the slaughterhouse surrounding - and in - it.

Unfortunately these are not rational arguments made by the pro-grazing and anti-wolf front. To be fair, I mean from some of the front. There are many fair-minded and rational ranchers as you saw in your meeting.

It occurs to me that re-introduction is recurring naturally due to the normal radiation caused by healthy populations from the one place in the west that we have started to restore the ecosystem, YNP. The radiating of wolves looking for their own territory has caused multiple Yellowstone wolves to be shot or trapped in Utah and in Arizona on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

There are people here from WY, ID, MT or AK that may chime in.

I recognize that this is a very controversial subject and may be uncomfortable for some here at BCP. Apologies to any my comments may offend.
 
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TannerT

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I'll start by saying I'm a proponent for a balanced eco-system, i.e. reintroduction of wolves. I'm not totally educated on the issue however my observations are that ranching is still a business, it may not provide to the meat industry, but a business none the less. There is already so much risk involved with ranching that the owners have no choice but to adamantly defend what they 'know' and shoot down (pun intended) anything that they don't know. Whether the cattle are ignominiously drug to the slaughter house or carried by golden limousine, the bottomline is that the rancher gets paid, provides for his/her family, grows or maintains their endeavors, and has income for years to come. If a rancher is reimbursed for a lost 'head' it does not mean that they are given exactly what they merited, meaning that they could be under paid or over paid depending on what the rate is compared to the actual worth of the head.
Enough rambling about that...
I think fear is still too prevalent. A mis-informed fear. For hundreds of years we've been taught to fear not to coexist. On the flip side, for example, Alaskans complain about bears but then they do things to coexist rather than eradicate bears. They may fear them but they do something...what's the word...intelligent about it rather than impose their will. (Fun fact, in Alaska the 'docile' moose is responsible for more deaths and injuries per year than bears.)

I think every biologist would love to have a mega fauna relationship like the moose and wolves on Isle Royale. I would too.

I've rambled too much and I hope my stream of consciousness was intelligible.
 

Otis

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I live and work in the woods in northern Wisconsin, wolves have naturally re-established themselves here. There is so much conflict right now, it is ridiculous. Most people in Wisco are worried about wolves killing deer, because deer hunting is a major sport, recreation, and economic benefit to the region. In the last couple years, wolf hunting became legal, then illegal again. Reality is that bear and bobcat probably kill as many deer fawns as wolves do.

In my opinion, wolves should be managed like any other animal on our landscape. They have a very natural right to be there, however when a population reaches the management goal it should have measures for control.

I have had wolf encounters, and so far all of them have been peaceful. I do carry a handgun just in case. If a wolf decides that my dog looks like lunch, then I will act appropriately.

I think that wolf reintroduction in CO is a great thing, Yellowstone is a great example. Wolves rejuvenated that area in a way that was previously undocumented. In the long run, they're probably gonna outlast us anyway. I know this is a rambling post, what I would like to see is a healthy wolf population combined with active management that allows people to trap and/ or hunt them.
 

Scott Chandler

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Few things say wild like the howl of a wolf.
FCRNRW2013 114.JPG


Working in lands affected by the wolf introduction is interesting. I first encountered wolves while I worked in Yellowstone. I only saw them once and it was a cool experience. Shortly after passing a huge group of people jammed up on the road looking at a bear, I noticed a black dot trekking across the meadows on the opposite side of the road. With everyone stopped behind me I did some dangerous driving and was out looking at three wolves as they quickly made their way. One stopped for a quick howl and my love affair with them was sealed.

The next summer, I worked in the Frank Church- River of No Return Wilderness. When the Grey Wolf was reintroduced into the lower 48 they were placed in two ecosystems, Yellowstone, and the Church. Interestingly, there was a wolf already in The Frank Church that killed off a portion of the introduced individuals. Years later the affects are felt by the couple people who visit the area, outfitters, and they don't like it. Before the wolf pack was established, elk would congregate in the meadows and outfitters could take rich people right up to their pick of the crop. It sounds completely unnatural. Now, the elk act appropriately. They hang out in smaller groups, don't hang out in meadows as much, and are super skittish. The wolf hit outfitters "hard" in that now their business had to be a little more complicated and sometimes clients, some of whom are not that naturally altruistic, would be livid that they couldn't get an elk as good as they'd like. Personally I only heard a howl once that summer but another worker had a standoff with some in the trail.

Then in the Bighorns of Wyoming the wolf is a taboo. Each year I worked there people reported seeing wolves and it seemed everyone did everything to brush it under the rug. WY G&F's official stance was that we would get a straggler every once in a while but packs weren't forming. This is in large part because the mountains are loaded to the max with cattle and sheep. It's honestly disgusting how many muck it up up there. Then this year there were a series of cattle deaths indicative of wolves. It kinda forced them to start looking into the matter harder. Maybe a pack is forming. But ranchers would do everything possible to protect their investments. Grizzlies wandering out of the Absarokas are being gunned down as their population drives them to new territories. Coyotes, an animal I can't imagine killing anything bigger than a sheep, maybe, are persecuted across the cattled west. There is a conditioned fear of predators in most everyone, and it's especially high among ranchers. I guess that's the downside of domesticating an animal into being so pathetic it shouldn't survive in the wild.
 

gnwatts

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I live and work in the woods in northern Wisconsin, wolves have naturally re-established themselves here. There is so much conflict right now, it is ridiculous. Most people in Wisco are worried about wolves killing deer, because deer hunting is a major sport, recreation, and economic benefit to the region. In the last couple years, wolf hunting became legal, then illegal again. Reality is that bear and bobcat probably kill as many deer fawns as wolves do.

In my opinion, wolves should be managed like any other animal on our landscape. They have a very natural right to be there, however when a population reaches the management goal it should have measures for control.

I have had wolf encounters, and so far all of them have been peaceful. I do carry a handgun just in case. If a wolf decides that my dog looks like lunch, then I will act appropriately.

I think that wolf reintroduction in CO is a great thing, Yellowstone is a great example. Wolves rejuvenated that area in a way that was previously undocumented. In the long run, they're probably gonna outlast us anyway. I know this is a rambling post, what I would like to see is a healthy wolf population combined with active management that allows people to trap and/ or hunt them.

My brief research indicates their have been no confirmed human deaths in the wild from wolf attacks, at least in the Continental US, since 1888. A few deaths have occurred due to people having them as pets.
Pet dogs kill 30 people each year.
More deer, by a large margin, are killed in Wisconsin by cars, than by wolves.
The problem with management is it does not work, nature does not like to be managed, and will eventually find a way around it.
As an aside, my family and I visited Yellowstone in 2006, and visited the Lamar Valley where there are wolves. We pulled over where some scientists were looking through high powered scopes, and we watched a pack circle an old grizzly, taking it's time. They disappeared behind some brush, and they were gone. That is something our family will never forget.
 
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gnwatts

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Ah........No in my book.

Please elaborate (or not), why you hold this position. I am not interested in an argument, just a discussion. "No" does not really expand or help anyone get a better understanding of the issue at hand, from both sides.
 

Artemus

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As an aside, my family and I visited Yellowstone in 2006, and visited the Lamar Valley where there are wolves. We pulled over where some scientists were looking through high powered scopes, and we watched a pack circle an old grizzly, taking it's time. They disappeared behind some brush, and they were gone. That is something our family will never forget.

I've spent significant time in small towns and ranches in and around wolf country and I believe that the people that I chanced on that were rabid anti-wolf and spouting fear-mongering rhetoric were doing it for political or argumentative purposes or because they truly did not know the facts about the animal they feared. I believe if they knew more and approached the issue with a logical and open mind they would turn around - but perhaps not in my presence.

I've spent dozens of trips to that Lamar bluff in twilight in Yellowstone staring through glass like you did and other places with my hand in a paw print on a trail just hoping for a fleeting view of this canid, the grey or timber wolf, Canis lupus. Here is an essay I wrote after my latest visit last year.
=======================================================

Wolves!

It is Thursday night and we are watching the Soda Buttte Creek/Lamar River confluence hoping to see the Lamar Canyon wolf pack. This was night two of a four day wolf hunting trip in our precious Yellowstone N.P. We are all peering over the Lamar valley when I turn around to scan the hills behind me. Several times in the past I have seen wolves run behind all of us wolf watchers eagerly scanning in the same direction, the wrong direction, below us. Amazingly I see two or three large black canids run by behind and above us and quickly out of view behind a hill. The word is out and the collection of humans repositions to view the braided section of the runoff-swollen Soda Butte Creek to our left that looks to be a likely crossing spot. A black wolf comes into the field of view in my scope and starts to wade and hop across the various braids of the river. Then a second. Then a third crosses and starts to shake off and climb up onto the low bench next to Soda Butte Creek. Enthralling. Then to our amazement they stop and, facing in three different directions, they start howling. Mesmerizing. Three "black" wolves with mostly black pelts mixed with varying degrees of lighter grey are making that spellbinding sound... and something howled back.. from behind us!

They hear. Ears prick and heads swivel. Moments later a huge grey wolf with a collar fords the river and climbs up to greet the three blacks to their obvious delight and ours. It is their alpha male, the pack leader, 965M (ID# and M for male). This portion of the pack was out for an overnight hunting expedition up the Lamar River Canyon. Three or four more from this pack may be up high in the forest behind us at the den site which is in a closed, protected area. All indications are that new pups from this spring are in or just out of the den and, if so, these four wolves will be bringing breakfast back in their stomachs to regurgitate and feed.

After this meetup all four wolves start trotting through the sagebrush - sometimes on the trail we will be walking tomorrow up the Lamar River to Cache Creek. We all watch spellbound through our optical enhancers. At one point two youngsters, probably two of the year-olds are running next to the big grey licking-faces as they run. Two blacks fall back and start mock-fighting in play as they run. Ahead three Pronghorn Antelope are in their path and the three decide this is not an ideal situation. The antelope accelerate, tear across the wolves path, and up a 25 degree grassy slope. One young black wolf gives chase up the slope while the rest of the pack continues on knowing from experience that it is fruitless to chase the fastest land creature in the western hemisphere. Youngster gives up and the pack rounds the bend 1.5 miles down range and out of view.

We sigh. We giggle and grin. Life is good.

Featured actors: Canis lupus, with a cameo by Antelocapra americana. Audience: a bunch of silly primates reveling in what we all have restored - wolves and most of all the other original critters - to Jellystone.
 
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Bob

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Maybe later........... I will revisit.
 

TannerT

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I've spent significant time in small towns and ranches in and around wolf country and I believe that the people that I chanced on that were rabid anti-wolf and spouting fear-mongering rhetoric were doing it for political or argumentative purposes or because they truly did not know the facts about the animal they feared. I believe if they knew more and approached the issue with a logical and open mind they would turn around - but perhaps not in my presence.

I've spent dozens of trips to that Lamar bluff in twilight in Yellowstone staring through glass like you did and other places with my hand in a paw print on a trail just hoping for a fleeting view of this canid, the grey or timber wolf, Canis lupus. Here is an essay I wrote after my latest visit last year.
=======================================================

Wolves!

It is Thursday night and we are watching the Soda Buttte Creek/Lamar River confluence hoping to see the Lamar Canyon wolf pack. This was night two of a four day wolf hunting trip in our precious Yellowstone N.P. We are all peering over the Lamar valley when I turn around to scan the hills behind me. Several times in the past I have seen wolves run behind all of us wolf watchers eagerly scanning in the same direction, the wrong direction, below us. Amazingly I see two or three large black canids run by behind and above us and quickly out of view behind a hill. The word is out and the collection of humans repositions to view the braided section of the runoff-swollen Soda Butte Creek to our left that looks to be a likely crossing spot. A black wolf comes into the field of view in my scope and starts to wade and hop across the various braids of the river. Then a second. Then a third crosses and starts to shake off and climb up onto the low bench next to Soda Butte Creek. Enthralling. Then to our amazement they stop and, facing in three different directions, they start howling. Mesmerizing. Three "black" wolves with mostly black pelts mixed with varying degrees of lighter grey are making that spellbinding sound... and something howled back.. from behind us!

They hear. Ears prick and heads swivel. Moments later a huge grey wolf with a collar fords the river and climbs up to greet the three blacks to their obvious delight and ours. It is their alpha male, the pack leader, 965M (ID# and M for male). This portion of the pack was out for an overnight hunting expedition up the Lamar River Canyon. Three or four more from this pack may be up high in the forest behind us at the den site which is in a closed, protected area. All indications are that new pups from this spring are in or just out of the den and, if so, these four wolves will be bringing breakfast back in their stomachs to regurgitate and feed.

After this meetup all four wolves start trotting through the sagebrush - sometimes on the trail we will be walking tomorrow up the Lamar River to Cache Creek. We all watch spellbound through our optical enhancers. At one point two youngsters, probably two of the year-olds are running next to the big grey licking-faces as they run. Two blacks fall back and start mock-fighting in play as they run. Ahead three Pronghorn Antelope are in their path and the three decide this is not an ideal situation. The antelope accelerate, tear across the wolves path, and up a 25 degree grassy slope. One young black wolf gives chase up the slope while the rest of the pack continues on knowing from experience that it is fruitless to chase the fastest land creature in the western hemisphere. Youngster gives up and the pack rounds the bend 1.5 miles down range and out of view.

We sigh. We giggle and grin. Life is good.

Featured actors: Canis lupus, with a cameo by Antelocapra americana. Audience: a bunch of silly primates reveling in what we all have restored - wolves and most of all the other original critters - to Jellystone.

wonderful essay Art! I enjoyed that very much. It makes me want to read some Jack London!
 

andyjaggy

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I don't really have an opinion either way, but I will say, if you want to change most people's minds the only way to do is with money. Tout the virtues of a premier wolf hunt, and all the money it could make, and then you'll get all of our politicians suddenly spouting the virtues of reintroducing the wolf to the Western states.
 
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