Hey Chappy,, you stated somewhere that Yellowstone owes 50 million to the wolf for revenue it brings in.
How come Idaho is singing a vastly different tune?
Wolf reintroduction harms elk, hunting and business
Special to The Spokesman-Review
May 2, 2003
Wolves have been in North Idaho for as long as I can remember. A small but consistent population of wolves have been on the Little North Fork of the Clearwater River as long as I have been going there, which is about 40 years.
I have seen several adult animals in the last 25 years and talked to many other people who have seen them too.
Coming from a family of Idaho natives, avid hunters and outdoor people, I disagree with the term "reintroduction" for what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to accomplish in Idaho. Let's not call this action by the by its true name, "reinforcement."
According to the Nez Perce Tribe Wolf Recovery Update. presented in February, 285 wolves -- 44 packs_ are known to exist in Idaho. Wolves in Idaho would kill 5,200 elk this year, the document says. Also, although it's hard to estimate, "each pack (average six wolves) will consume up to 4 elk per week." Four elk times 52 weeks times 44 packs equals not 5,200 elk per year, as the report claims, but 9,152.
Combine that low estimate with the fact that many people have seen wolf sign and animals where introduction team members say there aren't any. This makes me wonder how many wolves are really out there. I suspect the number to be at least double the official estimates.
In fact, I don't think the wolf introduction team has any idea how many wolves are in Idaho.
From the amount of sightings, track and sign that I have seen in the last two years, I believe that the number of wolves in the St. Joe/Clearwater regions alone far exceeds 285.
Given the discrepancy, I feel very strongly that our elk population in Idaho is in dire trouble.
There are an estimated 125,000 elk in Idaho. Take 17,000 each year for hunting/harvest, 9,000 or more for wolf predation, another 6,000 or so for cat predation, and 3,000 for poaching and winter kills -- that totals depletion by 35,000 elk per year. How long do you think the elk herd will last?
The bad news is that while the elk are being depleted, the number of wolves is increasing dramatically. Wolves have no natural enemy that can control their numbers, and each female will produce up to 12 pups per year, with an average of six surviving to hunt the next year.
Even the Nez Perce study, done for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows a large decline in cow/calf ratio in the area known as hunting unit 29, where only 22 wolves (11 breeding pair) were released in 1995.
It is estimated to be only nine calf elk per 100 cows when original numbers were as high as 39 calf per 100 cows in 1995. Not so incidentally, wolf diet consists of 66 percent calf elk. (Nez Perce update February 2003)
Those patterns impact my way of life and could eliminate the chance for my grandchildren to enjoy the hunting heritage that my grandfather, father and sons have enjoyed.
The economic impact to Idaho is and will be extreme. Many packers and guides are already experiencing fewer hunter clients because of not being able to harvest elk. A multi-million-dollar hunting industry is being devastated, along with support businesses, such as hotels, motels, retail hunting supply stores, etc.
States rights vs. federal mandates is a big issue here in Idaho. While a large proportion of Idaho is federally owned, what right have the feds to dump these deadly predators without even getting Idaho's permission?
One can only hope that when the wolf has eaten all the elk, they will not start on children standing at school bus stops. One of them could be my grandchild or yours.
Wolf team members say wolf attacks on humans and livestock are few in number. They say that wolves have killed only 17 cattle since the study started. They say that of several hundred domestic animals attacked and killed around the wolf reintroduction and migration areas, only a few are from wolf depredation.
Of course, guess who investigates livestock kills. The wolf introduction team does.
Finally, let's talk about competition for harvesting an elk to eat. Not only do I have to compete against other hunters, now I have to compete against wolves.
The Nez Perce Tribe and wolves do not have hunting seasons. They can kill elk when they are hungry. I can't.
•Milt Turley of Avery, Idaho, is a retired welding instructor at North Idaho College. He's been hunting every year since 1955, mostly in the St. Joe and Clearwater drainages.