Irrational Anti-Wolf Hysteria in the Rocky Mountains

Photo of Yellowstone gray wolves from google images.  Note the color variations within the same pack.

The timber wolf (Canis lupus) is a beautiful animal well adapted to hunting big game.  It’s an ancient species having first evolved in Eurasia about 1 million years ago.  They crossed the Bering Landbridge and became widespread in western North America at least 300,000 years ago.  Based on the number and distribution of fossil specimens, dire wolves (Canis dirus) outnumbered timber wolves during most of the Pleistocene in the southern regions and lowlands, and apparently, timber wolves never penetrated the southeast, perhaps because red wolves (Canis rufus) were already present and occupying a niche not directly in competition with dire wolves.

The extermination of wolves from Yellowstone National Park and many sparsely populated regions of the west was an ecological disaster.  Elk and deer overpopulated the range, forcing National Park officials into the awkward position of having to shoot elk inside National Parks.  Canadian wolf populations rebounded, and they began recolonizing Montana and Idaho naturally in the early 1990’s.  Scientists reintroduced wolves back into Yellowstone National Park in 1995, improving the quality of the ecosystem.  Wolves now number between 1300-1600 in the northern Rocky Mountains.  Idaho held a spring hunting season on wolves in 2010 that led to the deaths of 188, not counting the puppies that starved to death following the deaths of their parents. 

The furious anger of irrational wolf haters pressured the Idaho Fish and Game Department into planning annual hunting seasons on wolves that will begin this upcoming fall, unless a lawsuit stops it.  The Idaho Fish and Game Department itself showed a bias in favor of killing wolves with the leading questions they asked on a pre-hunt survey such as “”Should wolves be managed to protect public safety?” instead of questions I would ask such as “Should wolves be slaughtered so their puppies will starve?”

The hatred of wolves is not based on reality or facts and seems most vocal among hunters who believe humans are the only animals on earth with the God-given right to kill other animals.  Although the Idaho Fish and Game Department only wants a sustainable “harvest” of wolves, many militant anti-wolf fanatics insist that wolves should be completely exterminated.  According to them, wolves “destroy all wildlife” and are causing big game populations to collapse.  It doesn’t occur to them that wolves are wildlife.  Hunter “harvest” statistics don’t support their erroneous beliefs.  I researched this and discovered how wrong they are.

Hunter “Harvest” Record from Wyoming Fish and Game Department for Selected Years

…………………………………..Elk …………………………..Deer

1994…………………………….24,534…………………………………….44,488

1996……………………………..20,612…………………………………….NA

2001…………………………….22,772…………………………………….47,943

2009……………………………22,971……………………………………..53,267

Note the elk “harvest” has remained steady in Wyoming, despite the reintroduction of wolves.  Deer “harvests” show a noticeable rise.  People spent an estimated $35 million in Wyoming just to see wolves, so their reintroduction has been beneficial economically as well as ecologically.

Hunter “harvest” table from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks from selected years

……………………………………….Elk………………………..Deer

2001……………………………….20,578………………….111,783

2004……………………………….23,313…………………..119,266

2005………………………………26,201…………………….115,238

2010……………………………….24,744……………………94,730

Again, elk populations show no signs of collapsing.  Deer show a slight decline in the most recent year but this may be due to a severe winter.

According to the Idaho Fish and Game Department, in 2010 the elk population there was above management goals in 10 districts, within management goals in 13, and below management goals in 6.  Since wolves recolonized the state, the elk population has declined from 125,000 to 100,000, but “deterioration of habitat” is considered a greater factor than wolves, especially in districts where wolves are getting blamed.  There has been no economic loss due to a decline in big game tags issued.

Clearly, there is no collapse in big game populations in areas wolves have recolonized.  In any case I’ve asked some of these wolf haters how wolves could be increasing in numbers, if the population of their prey was supposedly collapsing.  A dearth of game would cause wolves to starve and decrease in numbers.  I’ve yet to see an answer to this logical point  that makes any sense.  One man insisted that after wolves exterminate elk they’d gobble up everything else including people–an ecological impossibility.

Many ranchers hate wolves as well.  However, losses of livestock to wolves is minimal.  In 2007 in Idaho ranchers lost 53 cattle, 170 sheep, and 8 dogs to wolves.  This out of a population of 2.2 million cows, 235,000 sheep, and probably hundreds of thousands of dogs.  For cattle this can be calculated to a loss of something like .000002%.  Infinitesimal.

Wolf haters also have an irrational fear that wolves will attack people.  The chances of this happening are remote–in North America there have been about 25 reported attacks of wolves on humans in recorded history.  In Europe and Asia documented wolf attacks on people number in the thousands.  In the Old World only the nobility were allowed to hunt and wolves didn’t learn to fear peasants; but in America where more people have guns in an egalitarian society, intelligent wolves did learn to avoid people.  Contrast these 25 reported wolf attacks in all of American history with 34 people killed by domesticated dogs (Canis familiaris) in the U.S. in one year, and the estimated 4.7 million dog attacks annually.  Yet, no rational person is calling for the extermination of domesticated dogs.

I’m not opposed to hunting for food. In my irregular series on this blog about my imaginary life living in Georgia 36,000 years BP, I hunt deer, elk, peccary, and bison for most of my meat (see the March archives for my most recent post on this).  But I’m disgusted with the attitude of many hunters today, and this certainly includes wolf haters who are all hunters unable to stand seeing other animals kill their game.  Direct TV offers 2 hunting channels.  More often than not on the hunting shows I’ve watched, hunters giggle like demented sadists after they’ve killed an animal.  When it comes to politics, the overwhelming majority of hunters are twisted fascists.

July 26, 2011 anti-wolf rally Federal judge Donald Molloy could once again halt a much needed wolf control hunt. - Sportsmen Needed To Protest Latest Wolf Hearing In Montana!

The controversial judge ruled against wolf haters in 1 case.  Freedom of speech does not include terroristic threats.  Whoever fashioned this sign should be arrested. (Note: the link to this photograph originally featured a picture of anti-wolf nuts hoisting a sign threatening Judge Molloy who ruled that wolves should remain protected.  Instead the photo on the embedded link was replaced with this asshole carting 4 dead wolves.) 

The above sign illustrates the intolerant hostility wolf haters have for people who oppose their point of view.  This sign is all one needs to know about these people.  They’re not nice guys.

Incidentally, one of these wolf haters who runs a ridiculous anti-wolf propaganda site known as save the elk.com was arrested recently for…felony poaching of an elk.  How ironic.

Another irrational fear wolf haters share is their belief that the federal government is going to take their guns away from them.  The way they carry on, one would think they were afraid the federal government was going to take their penises away.

References:

Idaho Fish and Game News 22 (2) August  2010

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Hunters “Harvest” Tables

Wyoming Fish and Game Department Hunters “Harvest” Tables

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13 Responses to “Irrational Anti-Wolf Hysteria in the Rocky Mountains”

  1. James Robert Smith Says:

    The anti-wolf hysteria boils down to this:

    It takes a lot of habitat to maintain healthy wolf populations. Habitat that is healthy for wolf sustainability means that the land in question cannot be exploited by building, mining, timbering, etc. Therefore, the corporations that want to drill, mine, clear-cut, and build can fire up the NRA/hunter base to demand that wolves be exterminated. They often do this by also bringing in the false danger that a handful of wolves can destroy our cattle. As if a couple of hundred canines can consume anywhere near as many cattle as 300 million shitting humans.

    Bottom line: Corporations don’t want to be bothered with conservation, thus, they agitate to destroy the very thing that keeps them from exploiting the land. Hunters and ranchers are nothing but hand-puppets the mining companies drag out when they want to despoil our natural resources.

    There is something like 1.3 billion head of cattle on Earth. So many that their farts actually effect our atmosphere and weather. I think we can stand to celebrate the continued existence of a few thousand wild timber wolves.

  2. markgelbart Says:

    I wonder if these anti-wolf groups receive direct funding from corporations. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I bet that’s something journalists haven’t looked into.

    One of the members of lobo watch, and anti-wolf group, sent me a private email, claiming this article was plagiarized. I didn’t plagiarize anything. He didn’t counter any of my points. I guess it’s easier to falsely accuse someone of plagiarism than to have a reasoned debate.

  3. James Robert Smith Says:

    Right wingers in general, and gun-humpers in particular are erratic wackos. I wouldn’t worry too much about the jerk unless he finds out where you live.

    I mean…hell…”Lobo Watch”? That’s a play on some sick right wing racist website anyway, which is a ripoff of Morris Dees’ old Klanwatch site. Look who’s a plagiarist. Most hunter/NRA types are closet racists and prone to be lying worthless wastes of space.

  4. SMIG ROBUSTUS Says:

    oh, I understand…..so the pictures of livestock torn to pieces and disembowled are all doctored pictures!!!!!!!!!! Yep thats it.

    Why is it that “right wing wacko” sites are FULL of stats and pics….but you CORRECT THINKING people have websites with simple statements NOT backed with anything?

    Are you DENYING THAT wolves joy kill, cause if you do, you are either biased or uninformed. Love the wolf is you choose,but love them for what they really are….NOT what you WANT them to be.
    Wolves are killers, just like man. THEY LIKE IT.

    • markgelbart Says:

      No one is denying that wolves will kill livestock. If you will reread my article carefully, you will find statistics that show livestock killed by wolves is statistically insignificant.

      I gave statistics supporting my point of view. I gave the sources for those statistics. Did you not actually read my article before commenting?

      The only animal that kills for fun is man. Wolves kill for food.

  5. Michael Says:

    Actually, man, dolphins, cats, and dogs are the only species that joy kill. Cats and dogs only because they have been bred for it, and dolphins? Well.. That’s still something that scientists are trying to figure out.

    You say the author is lying because he doesn’t have pictures. Are you fucking kidding me? What are you, four? Can’t read anything without pictures? The way you think the author is lying because of a lack of pictures proves you’ve been brainwashed by the ones that use pictures. Wolves kill a few hundred cattle-animals every year. Though in the bigger picture, that’s stupidly small number of animals, that also means a few hundred bloody pictures.

    The pictures don’t change reality. And reality is that wolves don’t dent the number of cattle in the mid-west. Reality is that wolves have lived in the mid-west for hundreds of thousands of years before we did. I think they best know how to safely and responsibly hunt the prey that they have been hunting before we were even a fucking species.

    And I’ve actually heard people say wolves are cruel to cattle. This… This is the icing on the cake of stupidity. Maybe if you’re so worried about the well-being of cattle, you should look into where the cattle go afterwards. Look up how they are essentially tortured at slaughterhouses. What happens to cows there make getting your throat bitten out and dying in less than a minute humane and merciful.

    Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with you people? Why do you think you, and only you have a right to live on this planet? What gives you the fucking right? A gun? Well guess what, boy-o’s. I have a gun too. Only I’m not pointing it at any wolf. I’m pointing it at you, and I bet you one bullet that those wolves stay where they are, if not expand.

    And for those that say, “Wolf lovers don’t even live here, let it be their problem.”Well, I live in Massachusetts, and I completely support a wolf re-introduction program to New England.

    Looks like you won’t be able to kill stupefied elk that have become like cows over the past decades, killed easily because they lost their biggest predator and thus aren’t as alert. Guess you’ll have to learn how to hunt, not slaughter, like the wolves do.

  6. Michael Says:

    If swearing isn’t allowed on this site, or board, or whatever, here is a revised version of my comment.

    Actually, man, dolphins, cats, and dogs are the only species that joy kill. Cats and dogs only because they have been bred for it, and dolphins? Well.. That’s still something that scientists are trying to figure out.

    You say the author is lying because he doesn’t have pictures. Are you kidding me? What are you, four? Can’t read anything without pictures? The way you think the author is lying because of a lack of pictures proves you’ve been brainwashed by the ones that use pictures. Wolves kill a few hundred cattle-animals every year. Though in the bigger picture, that’s stupidly small number of animals, that also means a few hundred bloody pictures.

    The pictures don’t change reality. And reality is that wolves don’t dent the number of cattle in the mid-west. Reality is that wolves have lived in the mid-west for hundreds of thousands of years before we did. I think they best know how to safely and responsibly hunt the prey that they have been hunting before we were even a fucking species.

    And I’ve actually heard people say wolves are cruel to cattle. This… This is the icing on the cake of stupidity. Maybe if you’re so worried about the well-being of cattle, you should look into where the cattle go afterwards. Look up how they are essentially tortured at slaughterhouses. What happens to cows there make getting your throat bitten out and dying in less than a minute humane and merciful.

    Honestly, what is wrong with you people? Why do you think you, and only you have a right to live on this planet? What gives you the right? A gun? Well guess what, boy-o’s. I have a gun too. Only I’m not pointing it at any wolf. I’m pointing it at you, and I bet you one bullet that those wolves stay where they are, if not expand.

    And for those that say, “Wolf lovers don’t even live here, let it be their problem.”Well, I live in Massachusetts, and I completely support a wolf re-introduction program to New England.

    Looks like you won’t be able to kill stupefied elk that have become like cows over the past decades, killed easily because they lost their biggest predator and thus aren’t as alert. Guess you’ll have to learn how to hunt, not slaughter, like the wolves do.

  7. J. Says:

    Don´t know if it’s considered rude to comment in older posts… but this whole anti-wolf hysteria subject has always bugged me so I thought I’d share my opinion.

    It is an undeniable fact that wolves attack cattle, and it is also an undeniable fact that they attack people. There is a lot of people out there who claim that “there has never been a confirmed wolf attack on a human”. This is nonsense. History is filled with cases of wolves eating people; practically all large predators have the potential to be man-eaters. I suposse the people who claim that wolves are harmless are doing it with the best intention- to improve the wolf’s image and to support their conservation. But they are not doing it right.
    I think portraying wolves as saints is as bad as portraying them as demons. They are wild animals, and wild animals are dangerous; there are two sides to nature. We humans like to see only the beautiful, majestic and cuddly sides. We don´t want to know anything about the violent, brutal, unforgiving and gory side. But if we refuse to accept this side, we are only seeing half of the picture. How can we understand something if we only accept half of it? And how can we protect something we don´t understand?

    Like the author said, domestic dogs attack (and kill) more people than wild wolves. Do we want to exterminate all dogs? No, we don´t. Violent crimes and car accidents claim countless lives every year. Do we want to exterminate all humans? No we don´t. What a sad world this is, if violent criminals such as murderers, rapists and kidnappers have rights, but a wild predator that kills for food is condemned and prosecuted for it.

    It seems stupid to fear and hate wolves when we are surrounded by sick, twisted people with guns who support the extermination of an entire species. It is them we should be worrying about.

  8. Wolf finatics are cracked Says:

    This article is so full of it, plain and simple. Another liberal attempt at conservation taught by biased theory instead of sound science. Living 1,000’s of miles away from wolves, but closer to their beloved DisneyWorld train of thought. You’re better off in Georgia bubba. Straighten that tie as your neighbor straightens your wife out with the three teeth he’s got in his head. 😉 Good thang YA’ll lost the war, huh. How’s dose blacks ya got down there, ya still keeping them “down’?

    • markgelbart Says:

      And you counter my points with…irrelevant insults.

      Insulting southern heritage (of which I’m not a fan) doesn’t support any kind of an argument you can’t make anyway.

      My article is based on sound science.

  9. Dorothy Says:

    Well the anti-wolf people are not all hunters, they are not all ranchers, they are rational people who understand history and have chosen to educate themselves about the problems resulting from the introduction of these Yukon Canadian Wolves a much larger and more prolific at reproduction than the native gray wolves that were in the lower 48. There are numerous human lives that have been lost to wolves. Read wolves in Russia, there is a great factual book taking from the archives the actual accounts from the people who lost loved ones. The other reason you don’t see as many documented cases of wolves attacking people in the USA, the CRITERIA for a documented wolf attack, 1) there has to a witness 2) it has to be verified as a wolf (by an official) 3) the person attacked has to DIE. When you consider the number of people lost never to be found again, or the bullshit of the officials in well could it have been a domestic dog? That is why there are not the ACTUAL number of documented attacks in the USA. AS for you comments about the loss of cattle as miniscule, well if you lost an item to theft that produced you an annual income and that was an original investment of 1500 to 5000 dollars for that item (cow). So now that cow could produce 10-12 offspring in the future each that could further produce others (heifers) or be a bull that sells for 5000. Now you do the math and figure out what the loss of one cow costs you. Not to mention all the dollars of maintenance you have put into the cow in feed and vet care. Now if this were your item stolen from you by a government agency and you were told too bad that’s the way it is your loss…….how would you react? And the reimbursements that are claimed do not happen its lies and a government official must agree with you its a wolf kill, or (a theft).
    As for the numbers of harvest of wild game has nothing to do with the actual number of elk in the area, tags are being reduced to compensate for the losses related to wolves. When you hike into a area where you always see 40 or 50 bull elk in a week and all you see are bones and racks from 20-30 bulls in one small valley………….that is wolf destruction. Wolves are not some spiritual animal to be worshiped, they are methodical killers that spread disease to animals and humans through the spread of parasitic diseases………..by the way I am a registered nurse…….and I educated myself. Emotional arguments need to be set aside and a look taken at the financial losses and the businesses that have closed, and the health impacts that can and do occur as a result of the introduction of a diseased non native species to our wilderness.

    • markgelbart Says:

      Canadian wolves are the exact same species as the gray wolf that originally inhabited the lower 48. They are not larger and more prolific.

      Way more people are killed in traffic accidents than are killed by wolves. Are you in favor of getting rid of cars?

      Wolves spread far fewer diseases than domesticated animals do.

      Wolves may be methodical killers but so are humans. Humans are much worse killers in fact.

      No businesses have been closed because of wolves. The number of elk tags issued are not being reduced.

      You are full of shit.

  10. Molly Says:

    First of all, I love how if you support the wolves, it makes you a liberal. WRONG. I also just love how people think that wolf attacks on humans proves any kind of point. They’re predators, that’s what they do. And sorry, your on the menu just like every other prey item.You’re not excused just because you’re a human. If you go swimming in the ocean and get eaten by a shark, its because you are on the menu. If you go out in the wilderness and get eaten by a jaguar, lion, hyena, whatever it is, it because you are not higher than any predator! Get off your high horse. I’m not some city girl that lives 1000’s of miles away from wilderness. I’m from Idaho, its out my back door. I take precautions when I go hiking or camping. Why? Because i’m not an idiot. That’s their territory, and i’m choosing to enter it. To be honest, i’m usually more concerned about some drunken hunter shooting me than anything. You, know, the ones who are out there making sure that that elk and deer are all happy and content? Which leads me to another thought. Don’t preach about saving elk and deer only so you can go blow a hole in their head yourself. Sure there’s a lot of science vs this and that, and that’s great. But i think most of you just need some common sense.

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