Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:00 PM
The folks in Washington state are finally coming to grips with the reality of having wolves in their midst. While at first the notion seemed to carry with it a bit of romance -- the wolves returning to the land after a long absence -- now come the facts of the matter.
Wolves are self-reliant in every sense. As predators, they go where the food is. If an elk shows up, it becomes the day's meal. Likewise with other mammals such as cattle or sheep. When one or several wolves discover the availability of livestock in a grazing area or on a ranch, they will take full advantage of it.
That's not a criticism; it's just the way it is. A wolf's got to eat what a wolf's got to eat.
State wildlife managers now understand that. The Wedge Pack in northeastern Washington had repeatedly attacked cattle belonging to the Diamond M Ranch. The wolves ate well. About 40 calves were missing after last year's grazing season, the owners estimated.
Now wildlife managers are recognizing that some wolves can be a chronic problem. On average about 20 percent of all wolves can be a problem, preying on cattle and other livestock, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator Mike Jiminez says. The remainder will be fine, sticking to a diet of wildlife.
When wolves turn to livestock, they must quickly be killed, managers now say. That's what they ultimately had to do with the Wedge Pack.
As Washington's wolf population grows -- it jumped from 27 to more than 51 in a single year -- managers will be called on to control wolves that prey on livestock and pets. Now, after a couple of years of experience, they seem ready to recognize when a wolf or its pack is a problem.
Unfortunately, a small but vocal group of Washingtonians appears to be unwilling to accept the reality of wolves. Even after managers had tried everything they could to avoid killing the Wedge Pack wolves, the wolf supporters hollered when the managers did the only thing they could -- kill the wolves.
Relocating wolves is not an option, the managers said. That just moves a problem from one area to another.
Which it too bad, because there's a lot to like about a proposal Washington state Rep. Joel Kretz is offering. He would like to see problem wolves moved to Western Washington, where many of their biggest fans live.
"The pro-wolf people typically love them as long as they don't have to deal with them," Kretz said. "They're criticizing the department, they're personally criticizing the rancher when they absolutely don't know a damn thing (about) what they're talking about."
That about sums it up. This newspaper has advocated two steps for the state Fish and Wildlife managers to take.
The first is to rewrite the state wolf management plan, which underestimated the rate of wolf population growth that would occur and the impact it would have. That the population is nearly doubling each year was not anticipated, although the population growth in Idaho, Montana and elsewhere was similarly spectacular. A more realistic management plan would have predicted that growth and allowed managers to get rid of problem wolves instead of spending months trying to avoid the inevitable.
Second, we have advocated getting all sides of the issue together. The state is now doing that, convening meetings across the state to talk about the experience of managing wolves and how best to do it.
If they carry out those two steps, they won't have to worry about shipping problem wolves to Seattle, Olympia or any other wolf-loving hot spot.
Posted By: Scott Rockholm On: 1/31/2013
Title: Management is a myth
I appreciate the focus of this article, and the effort to shed light on the wolf issue in Washington state. I would like to shed to light of my own on this topic, because some of the terminology and realities need some correction.
The idea Washington state or any other state can "Manage" wolves is simply a fantasy. The use of the word "Management" is used when we seek to produce a product, increase the production or population of a specific herd or animal population. Managing a herd takes intensive effort, and is set on the principal of producing for a profit or compensation. Predator promoters or game agencies use the word loosely because they seek to profit from the sales of licenses and tags, either today or in the future,
No where on the planet, or country in the world with a wolf problem, do a state or National agencies try to "Manage" wolves. The proper term is "Control". The reason the word control is used in other countries, is because they accurately perceive the problem wolves pose to their citizens. Other countries understand that wolves are a continual and growing problem, and every effort is made to keep the problems to a minimum. Employing management objectives would never reduce any predation problems, but controlling their populations would. Other countries, such as Canada, use areal gunning to "Control "wolf populations; just one tool in their arsenal to reduce conflicts. In the US, the use of Areal equipment is used to increase the wolf populations, a method of "Management" that is already out of control.
Another issue Washington state and other states faced with a growing wolf population, is rate of growth, and impacts of wild game herds. Each wolf will kill 24 elk per year each, just to survive. Each wolf will also kill another 24 elk per year, acting on their basic instinct to kill, which is referred to as Sport Reflex Killing. This is a compounding problem, and expands exponentially every year. If game herds are plentiful, wolf populations will grow 30-%-50% every year, while their prey base growth is reduced to 3% or less. As wolf populations experience compound growth, wild game populations become extinct. As this problem persists, it goes mainly underreported by wildlife professionals. The agencies involved will always report the "Minimum" number, as wolf populations explode. Yellowstone National Park was required by law to monitor every wolf, but in a few short years that became impossible. As the population increases, and the suitable wildlife is reduced to feces, livestock operators began to experience losses. The loss of livestock is not reimbursed, not in all cases, and the impacts become more than the small operators can absorb. Every day, someone is experiencing impacts to their herds and flocks. Weight loss, miscarriages, stress and disease, are all factors in losses to the livestock industry. The only losses that are mitigated, if any, are death by consumption, and most are not verified. Diseases spread by wolves is another deadly problem for livestock producers and the general public. In Idaho, 100% of wolves are now believed to be carrying the deadly Echinococcus granulosus. This is a serious problem for Washington state, because the wolves Washington imported are from Idaho, and it can be speculated, all wolves in Washington are infected as well. This is only one of thirty diseases wolves carry. These wolves will spread disease throughout all of their roaming territory, which is most of the land in Washington.
These are a fraction of the problems Washingtonians face, as this criminal wolf racket continues to expand. Idaho has already experienced 17 years of this corrupt wolf biology and fabricated facts. Stop this wolf program now, before it becomes uncontrollable.