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Wolves and elk on Mt. Emily

OP
bbbass

bbbass

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Any guess the wolves are there because of Portland, Eugene, Salem and Corvallis voters who voted for them many years ago?
I don't remember a vote on wolves. I think the ODFW and USFS just decided to do all that on their own. After "studies" of course. Decided by all the most recent top grads from University dontcha know...


I know the lyrics; I just wondered if you all were using them as some kind of secret code...
Nope, thereddog was waxing philosophically about wolves and tigers, so I thought I'd chime in cuz "I am the Walrus". :D
 
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A few comments on the mention of 'reintroduction'. My understanding is that they naturally migrated here from Idaho? This wasn't an intentional thing nor was it a effort by voters or ODFW. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I don't feel they should be eradicated, but just managed not to grow beyond their current levels. I've hunted in areas with wolves and still found plenty of deer and elk. And turkeys, and bears and grouse and coyotes...
 
OP
bbbass

bbbass

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A few comments on the mention of 'reintroduction'. My understanding is that they naturally migrated here from Idaho? This wasn't an intentional thing nor was it a effort by voters or ODFW. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I don't feel they should be eradicated, but just managed not to grow beyond their current levels. I've hunted in areas with wolves and still found plenty of deer and elk. And turkeys, and bears and grouse and coyotes...
My bememborie of this is not perfect, but AFAIK the Canada Grey Wolf was reintroduced into Yellowstone and Idaho. Re: per Wiki

Wolf reintroduction involves the reestablishment of a portion of gray wolves in areas where native wolves have been extirpated. Reintroduction is only considered where large tracts of suitable wilderness still exist and where certain prey species are abundant enough to support a predetermined wolf population.

Contents

Grey wolf packs were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho starting in 1995. The subspecies native to the Yellowstone area prior to extirpation was the Northern Rocky Mountains wolf (Canis lupus irremotus) however the species that was reintroduced was the Mackenzie Valley wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis) though both subspecies were similar and their range overlapped across the region (needs citation). These wolves were considered as “experimental, non-essential” populations per article 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Such classification gave government officials greater leeway in managing wolves to protect livestock, which was considered one of a series of compromises wolf reintroduction proponents made with concerned local ranchers.

Indeed, local industry and environmental groups battled for decades over the Yellowstone and Idaho wolf reintroduction effort. The idea of wolf reintroduction was first brought to Congress in 1966 by biologists who were concerned with the critically high elk populations in Yellowstone and the ecological damages to the land from excessively large herds. Officially, 1926 was the year that the last wolves were killed within Yellowstone’s boundaries. When the wolves were eradicated and hunting eliminated, the elk population boomed. Over the succeeding decades, elk populations grew so large that they unbalanced the local ecosystem. The number of elk and other large prey animals increased to the point that they gathered in large herds along valley bottoms and meadows overgrazing new-growth vegetation. Because of overgrazing, deciduous woody plant species such as upland aspen and riparian cottonwood became seriously diminished. So, because the keystone predators, the wolves, had been removed from the Yellowstone-Idaho ecosystem, the ecosystem changed. This change affected other species as well. Coyotes filled in the niche left by wolves, but couldn't control the large ungulate populations. Booming coyote numbers, furthermore, also had a negative effect on other species, particularly the red fox, pronghorn, and domestic sheep. Ranchers, though, remained steadfastly opposed to reintroducing a species of animal that they considered to be analogous to a plague, citing the hardships that would ensue with the potential loss of stock caused by wolves.[3]
(Gov "experts" thinking that the ecosystem has always been static, that there is a normal ecosystem, and that THEY know best)

The government, which was charged with creating, implementing, and enforcing a compromise, struggled for over two decades to find middle ground. A wolf recovery team was appointed in 1974, and the first official recovery plan was released for public comment in 1982. General public apprehension regarding wolf recovery forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revise their plan to implement more control for local and state governments, so a second recovery plan was released for public comment in 1985. That same year, a poll conducted at Yellowstone National Park showed that 74% of visitors thought wolves would improve the park, while 60% favored reintroducing them. The preparation of an environmental impact statement, the last critical step before reintroduction could be green-lighted, was halted when Congress insisted that further research be done before an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was to be funded.

In 1987, in an effort to shift the burden of financial responsibility from ranchers to the proponents of wolf reintroduction, Defenders of Wildlife set up a “wolf compensation fund” that would use donations to pay ranchers market value for any stock that was lost to wolf depredation. That same year, a final recovery plan was released. Following a long period of research, public education, and public commenting, a draft EIS was released for public review in 1993 and it received over 150,000 comments from interested parties. It was finalized in May 1994, and included a clause that specified that all wolves reintroduced to the recovery zones would be classified under the “experimental, non-essential” provision of the ESA. Though the original plan called for three recovery zones – one in Idaho, another in Montana, and a final one in the Greater Yellowstone Area – the Montana recovery zone was eliminated from the final EIS after it had been proven that a small, but breeding population had already established itself in the northwestern part of the state. The plan stipulated that each of the three recovery areas must have ten breeding pairs of wolves successfully rearing two or more pups for three consecutive years before the minimum recovery goals would be reached.

A pair of lawsuits filed in late 1994 put the recovery plan in jeopardy. While one of the lawsuits was filed by the Wyoming Farm Bureau, the other was filed by a coalition of concerned environmental groups including the Idaho Conservation League and Audubon Society. The latter group pointed to unofficial wolf sightings as proof that wolves had already migrated down to Yellowstone from the north, which, they argued, made the plan to reintroduce an experimental population in the same area unlawful. According to their argument, if wolves were already present in Yellowstone, they should rightfully be afforded full protection under the ESA, which, they reasoned, was preferable to the limited “experimental” classification that would be given to any reintroduced wolves.[4]

Nevertheless, both cases were thrown out on January 3, 1995. Adolescent members from packs of Mackenzie Valley wolves in Alberta, Canada were tranquilized and carted down to the recovery zones later that week, but a last minute court order delayed the planned releases. The stay came from an appellate court in Denver and was instigated by the Wyoming Farm Bureau. After spending an additional 36 hours in transport cages in Idaho and in their holding pens in Yellowstone, the wolves were finally released following official judicial sanction. Yellowstone’s wolves stayed in acclimation pens for two more months before being released into the wild. Idaho’s wolves, conversely, were given a hard (or immediate) release. A total of 66 wolves were released to the two areas in this manner in January 1995 and January 1996.

Over the decades since wolves have been present in the region, there have been hundreds of confirmed incidents of livestock depredation, though such predation represents a minute proportion of a wolf’s diet on a per wolf basis. While the majority of wolves ignore livestock entirely, a few wolves or wolf packs will become chronic livestock hunters, and most of these have been killed to protect livestock. Since the year Defenders of Wildlife implemented their compensation fund, they have allocated over $1,400,000 to private owners for proven and probable livestock depredation by wolves. Opponents argue that the Yellowstone reintroductions were unnecessary, as American wolves were never in danger of biological extinction since wolves still persisted in Canada. Opponents have also stated that wolves are of little commercial benefit, as cost estimates on wolf recovery are from $200,000 to $1 million per wolf. But the Lamar Valley is one of the best places in the world to observe wolves, and tourism based on wolves is booming.[6] The growing wolf-viewing outfitting trend contrasts with declines for big game hunters. National Park Service Biologist Wayne Brewster informed guides and outfitters living north of Yellowstone National Park, to expect a fifty percent (50%) drop in harvestable game when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park.[7] This was confirmed when in 2006, the Yellowstone elk herd had in fact shrunk to 50% since the mid 1990s though researchers documented that most of the elk that fell prey to wolves were very old, diseased, or very young[citation needed]. Two 30-day periods of tracking radio collared wolves showed that 77–97% of prey species documented by wolves in the park were elk. Outside the park, numerous hunting outfitters have closed due to the concomitant 90% reduction in elk permits.[8] Defenders of Wildlife transitioned from paying compensation to helping ranchers utilize nonlethal methods to better protect livestock from wolf predation. These methods include carcass removal to reduce attractants to scavengers, increased human presence near livestock, lighting, herd management, livestock guard dogs, and other measures (see http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/publications/livestock_and_wolves.pdf for more information).

The reintroduction of wolves, an apex predator, has had important impacts on biodiversity within Yellowstone National Park. Through predation of elk populations, wolf reintroduction has coincided with an increase of new-growth vegetation among certain plants, such as aspen and willow trees,[9] which elk previously grazed upon at unsustainable levels. Presence of wolves has even changed behavioral patterns of other animals. Elk have quit venturing into deeper thickets, out of fear of being attacked by wolves in an area of such low visibility. Elk have also begun avoiding open areas such as valley bottoms and open meadows where, prior to wolf introduction, the elk grazed collectively and avoided predation from mountain lions and bears. This process of top predators regulating the lower sections of the trophic pyramid was dubbed, "the ecology of fear" by William J. Ripple and Robert L. Bestcha[10] In addition to the restoration of vegetation several important species such as the beaver[9] (which also became extinct in the park) and red fox have also recovered, probably due to the wolves keeping coyote populations under control.[11]

The Idaho state government opposed the reintroduction of wolves into the state and many ranchers and hunters there feel as if the wolves were forced onto the state by the federal government. The state's wolf management plan is prefaced by the legislature's memorial declaring that the official position of the state is the removal of all wolves by any means necessary. Because of the state of Idaho's refusal to participate in wolf restoration, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nez Perce tribe initially managed the wolf population there since the reintroduction. During that time, the Idaho wolf population had made the most remarkable comeback in the region with its abundant federal lands and wilderness areas peaking at nearly 900 wolves (almost half of the regional wolf population) in 2009. However, the wolves have increasingly been blamed for livestock and hunting opportunity losses. The US Fish and Wildlife Service attempted twice to delist wolves from federal protection and turn them over to state management but both of those attempts were found unlawful by the federal court in Missoula, Montana. In order to quell the political battle between the ranchers, hunters and conservationists, members of Congress removed Endangered Species Act protection from wolves in 2011 and gave wolf management to the states of Idaho and Montana under state wolf management plans. Since that time, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has also delisted wolves from federal protection in Wyoming and the state now has authority over wolf management there as well. This decision is also being challenged as unlawful in court in 2013.

Despite being approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service Idaho’s proposed management plan is still shrouded in controversy. The plan [12] calls for 10 breeding pairs in Idaho or 100 to 150 wolves. Compared with the states' other wildlife numbers (e.g. 2000 - 3000 mountain lions, 20,000 American black bears, 100,000 elk and several hundred thousand mule deer), conservationists are concerned that too few wolves are protected under the plan. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Services guidelines the Idaho wolf population needs to stay above 100 individuals for the species to stay off the endangered species list and remain a viable, self-sustaining population. However, there is much evidence that shows that a much larger wolf population can survive in Idaho without having major impacts on livestock and hunting opportunities.[citation needed]

In adjacent Washington State (and subsequently Oregon), wolves were not reintroduced, but populations have been reestablished through the natural expansion of the Idaho population. By 2008, wolves had established a permanent toehold in Washington, and have increased their number every year since. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife tracks the "minimum numbers" of wolves. This number in only counts wolves in known packs that den inside the State. Lone wolves, suspected packs, and packs that range into the State but den outside the State are not counted. In 2008, this "minimum number" was 5; by the end of 2014 it was 68. Known wolf packs are concentrated in the northeastern corner of the state, but there are also packs in the central Cascades. In 2015, a wolf was killed on Interstate 90, approximately 10 west of the Snoqualmie Pass, proving the wolves are expanding westward.
[13]

The McKenzie Valley Gray Wolf is not natural to Wash and OR, yet wildlife and land managers (ugh) think it is important to have such a predator to balance the ecosystem. That said, I can verify that wolves impacted Yellowstone elk populations because my friend went there on what should have been almost a guaranteed guided hunt, and saw plenty of wolves and no elk. Where were all those supposedly huge herds? IDK, maybe things eventually reached a better balance, but hunters and ranchers remain negatively impacted to an extent that didn't exist prior to reintroduction. My personal solution to a supposed problem of too many elk would have been to issue more tags to hunters.

Note: Bold emphasis and comments in parentheses are mine.
 
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Timberwolf vs. grey wolf
Elk used to be plains game animals now mountains.
These points are the GIANT issue with wolves now.
Here’s used to have 1-2 bulls per herd. Now it’s 4-8 bulls per herd.
Major issue
 

Koda

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I like wolves...and I am not against their reintroduction.
That said...

There is a reason why wolves were removed , one way or another , from a given area..
Before reintroducing an animal to an area...you gotta know if it can survive there , with how the area is now , not simply because the area is in the animal's historic range.
By survive , I mean to say partly , at least , as in not causing more of a negative impact to an existing issue...
Also one needs to reintroduce the species that was there historically ...not one that is close or related.
And...
Many times the decision to reintroduce a animal comes from folks who do not have to live in the area and deal with the effects of the reintroduction.

Any of the above can easily throw a monkey wrench into the reintroduction plan and actually make things worse off.
Andy
I don't feel they should be eradicated, but just managed not to grow beyond their current levels. I've hunted in areas with wolves and still found plenty of deer and elk. And turkeys, and bears and grouse and coyotes...

Both of this. Im not against nature but Oregon (and any other state) isnt the same wilderness it was even 150 years ago. The land is fragmented and wolf packs used to follow mega herds to feed and not eat out the place they came from. Its not the same wilderness now, man has ruined it all. Massive cities, many more small towns, agricultural areas, deadly interstate crossings. Id be fine with the few wolves we have but the current management plan is not preventing them from growing out of control.
 
OP
bbbass

bbbass

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This ODFW map from last year has a known population in Mt. Emily. From the original post, it doesn't appear like they were saying they didn't exist. And that side of 395 will be the area that's delisted from Federal Protection.

ODFW Gray Wolf Population
Those of us that live here know that the wolves were here for years and years and years before the ODFW and USFS admitted they were here. It was a political hot potato that they didn't want the people/residents/ranchers/farmers to know about. Those constituents had warned that the introduction of wolves in Idaho would bring packs here. It's part of wolf biology to separate from the pack and wander to establish a new pack somewhere else. The gov kept denying the truth of it. My friends saw wolves on Mt. Emily 6 yrs before the gov admitted there was any at all.

Meanwhile, wolves were killing sheep and cattle in Wallowa County. The ranchers here should have been warned and told that they were right, but the gov thought what the gov managers wanted was more important...

It has only been the last few years that the gov was FORCED by the facts of killings and too many sightings to admit the truth of these packs existing throughout NE Oregon.
 

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