November 1, 2014

By Funding Trophy Wolf Hunts, We’re Destroying Real Game Hunts

wolfutahIt seems just a short while ago that wolf (re)introduction happened – 1995 and 1996. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and as the water moved downstream, it has blended in with a lot of other water, not becoming lost but perhaps unrecognizable.

As most of you know, I’m writing a book about wolves. Actually it’s really not about wolves other than to point out the obvious behaviors of the animal. The book is more about the corruption. However, in working to put all this information together, I’ve come across some things that I had written about in which I had actually forgotten.

It really began in early 2009, when there was a glimmer of hope that wolves might come off the Endangered list and residents in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming could begin killing the animal to get it back down to 100 wolves as promised in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. What? Had you forgotten?

Around about that same time, I began reading about the plans Idaho was going to begin formulating in preparation for wolf hunts. I said then that utilizing a season for “trophy” wolf hunting would not work.

I wrote a five-part series that I know some of you have read, perhaps more than once, called “To Catch a Wolf” – an historical account of the extreme difficulty people had throughout history trying to control wolves to stop them from killing livestock and attacking people.

The real joke was when Idaho officials, in a fraudulent attempt to convince anyone who would blindly listen, that trophy hunting wolves, was going to protect the elk, deer and moose herds. This did not happen. As a matter of fact, it so much did not happen, that Idaho Fish and Game took to helicopters to gun down wolves in the Lolo Region because officials were willing to admit there was a wolf problem….or maybe they were just placating the sportsmen. They killed 5 wolves and yet somehow they want sportsmen to believe that a trophy hunting season will protect the game herds?

The myth here is that increasing or decreasing wolf tags will grow or shrink elk, deer and moose herds. Sorry, but controlling elk, deer and moose tags controls elk, deer and moose herds. Select-harvesting a handful of wolves does nothing to protect game herds.

Why, then, are Idaho sportsmen continuing to fund a fraudulent trophy wolf hunting season that may actually be causing the further destruction of the elk, deer and moose they so much wish to protect and grow?

On November 30, 2012, I wrote and published the following article. I took the liberty to embolden some statements I wish to now more fully draw your attention to.

Trophy Hunting Season on Wolves Destroying More Elk, Moose and Deer?

Recently I read a comment made by Bob Ream, chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) Commission, state that:

We [MFWP] have implemented more and more aggressive wolf harvests. We also increased lion harvests considerably this year.

The word aggressive is certainly an overused adjective used much in the same fashion as say a male peacock when he displays his tail feathers. In the context used in the quote above, I’m assuming Mr. Ream intended his use of the word aggressive to mean something to be proud of, a feat of accomplishment or something related. But when talking about wolves, killing, attacks, predation, hunting, trapping, disease and every aspect associated with gray wolves, “implementing[ed] more and more aggressive wolf harvests” kind of rings a bit hollow.

In its simplest form, wolves, at least under the existing conditions in most of Montana, Idaho and Wildlife, grow and expand at a rate of anywhere between 20% and 30%, I am told and have read as well. Estimates of wolf populations mean little except in political and emotional battles because nobody knows how many there are and they are lying if they tell you otherwise. For the sake of argument, I have read that the tri-state region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have at least 6,000 wolves. On the top end I’ve heard 15,000 but I’m going to guess that might be high but then again I don’t live there and spend time in the woods.

If there were 6,000 wolves then math tells us that 1200 – 1800 wolves should be killed each year just to sustain the population at 6,000; and states like Montana, who according to Bob Ream, are aggressively killing more wolves.

But now the question has been brought up that perhaps states offering hunting and trapping seasons, based on the principle of “trophy” and “big game” hunting and trapping, might be causing even more game animals, like elk, moose and deer, to be killed. Is this possible?

It was nearly 4 years ago that I wrote a series, “To Catch a Wolf“. Much of the purpose of that series and other related articles, was to explain how difficult it is to kill a wolf; historically and globally. It’s one of the hardest things to do over a prolonged period of time and that’s why I chuckle at comments like Bob Ream’s when he describes the MFWP actions toward killing wolves as aggressive. There is NOTHING aggressive about trophy hunting wolves.

The process was long and mostly wrought with illegal actions and corruption, but eventually, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming got the infamous and controversial gray wolf removed from protections of the Endangered Species Act and trophy hunting seasons commenced; after all, wasn’t that the target goals of each of the states’ fish and game departments?

And so how’s that “aggressive” hunting and trapping going to reduce wolf populations?

If any of this isn’t complicated and wrought with emotion and irrational thinking enough already, in an email exchange I received today, the idea was presented that hunting a token number of wolves, in other words, managing them as a game species and classified as a trophy animal, might actually be only amounting to breeding a healthier, less stressful wolf that will eat more elk, deer and moose and become an even larger creature than it already is, further capable of killing more and bigger prey.

This idea is based in science, although those who don’t like the science disregard it. The science is the topic of wolf size. Most people are of the thought that a wolf’s size is determined by the species or subspecies the wolf comes from. I’m not going to pretend I have a full grasp of this science but will pass on that the essence of wolf size is determined mostly by food supply.

Consider then this premise to manage wolves as a big game species, which is what is being done in Montana and Idaho. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which includes managing game for surplus harvest, has worked marvelously well over the years, producing in places too many of certain game species. We certainly don’t want that for wolves as the proportion of wolves to prey/game species will soon get all out of whack. Our only hope then, is that the fish and game departments will fail as miserably managing wolves as they have elk, moose and mule/whitetail deer.

There is a reason why honest wildlife managers classify bona fide game animals as such and coyotes (and it should be also wolves) varmints to be shot and killed on site. It’s the only way to keep them at bay. This would be considered an aggressive move toward wolf control. Anything, short of an all out organized program to extirpate the wolf, would work just dandy and would never danger the future existence of this animal.
End

In the years that I have written about wolves, wolf “management” and the political nonsense that goes hand in hand with it, it certainly appears to me that there has become quite an effort among sportsmen to protect THEIR “trophy” wolf hunts. Is that in the best interest of actually regaining a vibrant elk, deer and moose population, that is supposed to be managed for surplus harvest, according to Idaho code?

In its most basic form, at least ask yourself how that “aggressive” trophy wolf hunting is effecting the elk, deer and moose herds? At the same time, what has become and continues to become of those elk tags? There just aren’t enough “trophy” wolf hunters to be effective and supporting the farce perpetuated by Idaho Fish and Game isn’t helping. It’s the same as buying a fifth of gin for a gin-soaked homeless fool.

As was relayed to me today, it seems the, “participants are in a race for the final bull elk or big buck in various units.” That’s the direction it seems we are headed.

Here’s a mini refresher course in promised wolf management. When the Final Environmental Impact Statement was approved, leading to the Final Rule on Wolf Reintroduction, the citizens of the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, where wolves were to be (re)introduced, were promised several things. First, we were promised that wolves would be “recovered,” a viable, self-sustaining population, when 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves existed in three separate wolf management zones for three consecutive years. Those numbers were achieved by 2003. What happened? Nothing but lawsuits and wolves didn’t finally get delisted until 2011 due to legislative action.

All promises made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were based on 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves. They lied!

Second, citizens of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were promised that wolves would have no measurable impact on wild game herds. The only thing that might possibly be needed was a slight 10% or less reduction in cow elk tags should the occasion arise for the need to boost elk production in exceptional cases.

So, I ask. How many elk tags have been lost since those promises were made? As a matter of fact, all promises made were reneged on. There is no reason to believe or support anything promised us by government. Stop giving government money to run their con game. At this rate game animals will all be gone soon enough and no hunting opportunities will prevail….except possibly trophy wolf tags.

What will it be. As the old saying goes, “Pay me now or pay me later.”

You Can’t Borrow My Axe Because It’s Tuesday

I have, on occasion – okay, well maybe a bit more than occasionally – told the ancient story of how a neighbor came to ask if he could borrow an axe. The man said, “No, it’s Tuesday.” In puzzlement the neighbor asks, “What’s Tuesday have to do with it?” The man replied, “Nothing! But if I don’t want you to borrow my axe, one excuse is as good as another.”

And so we have it. From an article found in the Jamestown Press, the island located in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, is overrun with deer and people are fretting about contracting Lyme disease. The Town Council have approved a plan to allow volunteer hunters to kill the deer with a goal to reduce the deer population on the island down to about 10 deer per square mile. The current density stands at around 50 deer per square mile.

While it is hoped that reducing the deer population, down to something manageable, it will also decrease the incidence of Lyme disease occurring in humans. However, there are those opposed to killing deer to solve the problem.

There is considerable arguments for and against whether culling deer herds in Lyme tick-infested regions reduces Lyme disease. We know that deer aren’t the cause of Lyme disease, they just become a good breeding source for the tick that carries the disease. The thought process is that reducing the number of deer will decrease the amount of tick reproduction. But opponents to killing deer (I guess they would rather kill humans) say reducing the deer population doesn’t do any good…..well, unless of course you lower it to say, 10 deer per square mile and keep it that way and that probably would involve an ongoing management plan that involves continuous harvesting of deer.

Odd that while not the Lyme tick, the winter “moose tick” in Maine is troublesome and biologists there believe that reducing the number of moose would result in a reduction of the ticks. But that’s moose ticks and nothing would be as absurd as concluding that reducing deer numbers would reduce Lyme ticks. Pffft!

But what’s this got to do with the neighbor and his axe? Well, nothing but it does have to do with excuses. Based on the article linked to above, it is loaded with whining, bitching and complaining about everything that won’t work and yet, nobody offers any ideas of what will. Is this a case of people just not wanting anybody to hunt deer and so one excuse is just as good as another?

Maine “Any-Deer Permit” Lottery Results

Published online through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Website, hunters can find results of the recent lottery draw for “Any-Deer Permits.” An “Any-Deer Permit” allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex within the zone for which the applicant had applied.

Click on this link and then the matching first letter of an applicant’s last name. Scroll to search for your name.

S. Dakota: Another State Suffering From Hunting Losses

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A state hunting regulatory commission has proposed steep cuts to the number of licenses and tags available for many of South Dakota’s deer hunting seasons to counter a shrinking herd caused by harsh winters, disease and habitat loss.<<<Read More>>>

THERUT

Some might be wondering if this is a new word. Well, it might be, but if you pronounce it correctly or as intended, you soon will learn the meaning……and the photo below should give it away.

TheRut

Maine’s 2013 Deer Harvest Comparative Figures

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, on Friday, released their deer harvest data which showed a 15% increase, which on first glance appears to be the result of an increase in “Any-Deer Permits” issued prior to the season. (the data has yet to be published on the MDIFW website.)

Below is a table prepared by my in-house statistician that shows information for 2013, some of it preliminary, and how that data compares with previous years.

After I have had a chance to thoroughly examine the harvest data, I will, more than likely, file a report on my findings.

DeerHarvest2013

Maine 2013 Deer Harvest Up 15% From Previous Year

Augusta, Maine – Hunters during the 2013 deer season killed 24,795 deer, an increase of 15% over the 2012 harvest of 21,552 deer. The 2013 harvest is the third consecutive year the deer harvest has increased, reflective of a deer population that has grown since the back-to-back severe winters of 2008 and 2009.

“I commend IFW for its management of the deer herd, and I congratulate hunters who participated in one of our state’s most popular sporting pursuits,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Deer hunting is not only a time-honored tradition, but it attracts economic activity from hunters throughout Maine and those from other states.”

The deer kill increased in almost every Wildlife Management District in the state, and the adult buck harvest once again increased over the previous season with hunters taking 16,765 bucks, which was an increase of 8% over the 2012 buck kill of 15,475.

Holding true to the harvest patterns seen in 2013, Maine’s youth hunters also saw an increase in harvest numbers, climbing from 570 deer in 2012 to 781 in 2013, representing an increase of 37%. Their harvest consisted of a total of 335 adult bucks, 280 adult does and 166 fawns. Once again, youth hunters were allowed to harvest antlerless deer without needing an Any-deer Permit in WMDs where permits were issued.

As the deer population continued to rebound, in 2013 IFW issued approximately 36% more permits than were issued in 2012. This resulted in an increase in the adult doe harvest of 5,307 animals, approximately 24% more than the 4,287 harvest in 2012. In 2013, IFW issued Any Deer permits in Wildlife Management Districts 3 and 6, representing the first antlerless deer harvests in those districts since 2000 and 2007, respectively. The allocation of permits to these WMDs resulted in a total adult doe harvest of 17 individuals from WMD 3, and 64 from WMD 6. It also was the first time since 2007 that Any Deer permits were issued in WMD 7 where the doe harvest was 34.

“The increase in the number of successful hunters last season reflects a growing deer population in much of the state,” said IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, “However, with the long, cold winter we experienced, it is prudent that we move forward thoughtfully in 2014 concerning the number of Any Deer permits issued.”

To help alleviate the impacts of deer nuisance issues in and around urban areas where bans on the use of firearms exist, the Department provides additional deer population management via deer harvests during an Expanded Archery season. Generally spanning a period greater than 70 days, this season allows hunters, whom have the appropriate license(s) and tags, to harvest one additional buck and potentially an unlimited number of does from within an identified Expanded Archery zone. The 2013 Expanded Archery season experienced an increase in harvest over the 2012 season by 13% from 987 deer to 1,122 deer.

This past winter marked the first in four years with above-average winter severity throughout the state, the first since 2009. As a result of the winter, IFW wildlife biologists have recommended decreasing the number of Any Deer permits throughout the state.

Where Maine Had Thousands of Deer Now Only a Few

Hal Blood recalls how he used to snowmobile at the north end of Moosehead Lake and see deer by the thousands. Now he sees only a few hundred.

And where Blood, a registered Maine Guide, ice fishes on state conservation land near Jackman at the northwestern corner of Maine, the deer are simply gone, he said.

“I used to see deer lying up in the ridges. That whole Moose River valley 25 years ago was unbelievable. But there aren’t any deer there any more,” Blood said.<<<Read More>>>

Mike Hanback on Commercial Deer Hunting

“And a recent poll in New Jersey asked the question: Would you favor the commercial hunting of deer in New Jersey? While 51% said no, a surprising 45% answered yes.

While this idea has been out there for a couple of years, most people doubted whether a state government would be willing to step up and try it.

But in March New Jersey Republican Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said she will be introducing a bill that directs the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop and establish requirements for the commercial harvesting of deer. “This will be controversial but the Wall Street Journal had an article that said 85 percent of the venison sold in restaurants and at meat counters is imported from farms in New Zealand. It’s insane we’re importing it from New Zealand. Meanwhile, we’re overrun with deer… I hold my breath every time I get on the road. Instances of Lyme disease are a major problem.’’”<<<Read More>>>

86% Of Deer Hunters Hunt for Meat

I’ve written some about this before, in dispelling the lie often bandied around by the schilling Media that hunting is about trophies. In a recent survey of hunters in Massachusetts, 86% of hunters responding in a survey said they pursued whitetail deer, “for the delicious meat afforded them.”<<<Read More>>>