*Editor’s Note* – I have taken the liberty to highlight the paragraph that I think is the absolute best. It sums it all up.
By James Beers
The following is a response to two assertions about wolves in Wyoming and my recent article about the recent elk predation by wolves on 19 elk in one March night on an elk wintering ground. These came to me from Utah by way of California.
1.) They (i.e. wolves) only kill what they need to eat!!!!
2.) As I understand the problem…the Feds have been after the state of Wyoming to write a “Wolf management Plan” that they can approve so management can be turned over to state F & G …..but WY refuses to take the word ‘Predator” out and the general philosophy that:
“WOLVES NEED KILLIN ANY TIME AND ANYPLACE”…..so the Feds won’t approve their plan,
As to Question #1; wolves by definition must kill to sustain themselves. All sorts of things enter into what they kill and what they attempt to kill:
– There is the difficulty of killing the prey.
– There is the opportunity to kill the prey.
– There is the energy-expended/calorie-reward ratio of potential prey.
– There is the desirability of the prey (i.e. veal v. a rotting carcass).
– There is the state of hunger of the wolf.
– There is the need to feed young in a den.
– There is anticipated danger from attacking certain prey.
– There is the behavioral experience of the wolves.
– There are the dangers associated with certain locations.
– There is the anticipation of future food opportunities.
– There is the physical condition of the wolf or wolves.
Wolves will kill and eat any mammal or bird at any given time. They routinely kill and eat adult, young and unborn (evidently a preferred meal) of everything from big game and livestock to dogs and, yes, humans. While they prefer live prey and freshly-killed meat; wolves scavenge freely when food is scarce as in winters or when pushed into unfamiliar territory.
History is full, yes full, of incidents of wolves attacking and killing joggers, hikers, shepherds, children, old ladies, soldiers, loggers (one even while operating a chain saw), Native Americans, Europeans, Russians, Christians, Moslems, etc. from Oregon to Massachusetts and Ireland to Kazakhstan and Kamchatka. Some wolves had rabies, some were spreading Smallpox from feeding on the dying and many just dragged the carcass into nearby vegetation and ate their fill and went on. Anyone with half an interest in history realizes that most such attacks were never reported or documented for centuries while those living with the wolves had no doubts about what was happening and accordingly invested enormous time, money and scarce resources to control and eliminate wolves from the time of Plato and before, to North American Colonists and Western Expansion settlers and ranchers.
When wolves, just like a pack of dogs running loose from some town, encounter a flock of sheep; or some deer in deep snow; or some kids at a rural bus stop; or elk near some fence or cliff; or some jogger on a lonely road running away from them; or some unfamiliar dogs; or some or a coyote; or some old lady walking to her mailbox; they quickly run down the items listed above and make a decision. Whether we call it “fun” or “surplus killing” or a “behavioral response” is immaterial. When the decision to chase or attack or simply to boldly investigate is made; the outcome, especially if it is a pack of wolves or a pack of dogs, is too often harmful to human life, human interests, human society and what the Founding Fathers called “domestic Tranquility” – A Primary and Stated Reason Why The States Drafted, Signed and Agreed To “this Constitution for the United States of America” that established a federal government.
Wolves and free-ranging dogs often attack flocks of sheep or llamas or a group of calves or a herd of wintering deer or a moose cow close to giving birth just like sharks attack a school of mullet or swordfish attack a school of young tuna or wintering striped bass attack a school of menhaden; that is to say they slash, bite, and stab as quickly as they can and then eat what is unable to escape or that has been made into pieces. They do this until they are full or until they find nothing left to eat. Wolves and dogs will do the same and when they are “done” chasing, biting, and killing they may eat some of the choicest parts like eating out a cow’s rear-end while she lives and pulling out and devouring the fetus.
Every one of you urban wolf-lovers knows this and fears it about dogs roaming free in your neighborhood as you quickly call 911 or “the Animal Warden” and demand big fines and even jail for persons that let their dog or dogs loose, or that fail to get them vaccinated or wormed or keep them leashed – YET you whinny about how wolves (wild, unvaccinated, undomesticated, big, hungry, etc.) are NOT like that! It is so stupid it defies a sensible answer.
The most important part about this Romance Biology theorem that “They only kill what they need to eat!!!!” is that it is then inserted into Environmental Voodoo for the media as in, “A wolf only needs 1493 calories a day to sustain itself and an average cow moose weighs 857 lbs. that provides 60, 472 calories: therefore it only takes 8 moose to sustain 2,376 wolves so don’t believe this stuff about wolves having to kill livestock or elk or deer or dogs or certainly not humans when only a few big game animals lost are of no concern except to a few greedy and selfish hunters.” Just like it takes a whole lot more mullet and menhaden to sustain those sharks and swordfish and striped bass than what they eat and just like all those urban mothers fear dogs harming or attacking children; the ideas that wolves ”never” attack people, and that wolves have some magical brain brake that tells them to stop when they have killed, “what they need to eat!!!!”, and that wolves should stick around a carcass (a dangerous thing to do) until it is “all cleaned up” despite preferring fresh meat: these things are the “issue” of the marriage of Romance Biology and Environmental Voodoo ground into documentary fecal matter for the general public.
As to Question # 2; I must immediately dismiss the pejorative statement “WOLVES NEED KILLIN ANY TIME AND ANYPLACE”. It is silly to request a serious answer when you treat those that do not agree with you like Presidential candidate Kerry applying for an Ohio Hunting License saying, “is this where I can get me one of those huntin’ licenses?” If you are going to write “killing” I suggest you put a “g” on the end and, even though they are fictitious assertions, write ANY TIME and ANYPLACE as either one word or two words but not in two different preferences separated only by “and”. More than a few of us advocates for local authority over what is or is not in OUR environment do not drag our knuckles as we walk nor do we have more tattoos than teeth; those are simply fund-raising ploys spread by those environmental/animal rights organizations behind much of this issue.
As to everything else in your question before the final 7 words, I agree with your statement. It is those last 7 words, “so the Feds won’t approve their plan”, that are the crux of the problem not only in Wyoming but in virtually every Local Community in the Lower 48 States that has been forced and coerced into hosting and living with wolves and the uncounted harms they cause to those forced to live with them. Believe it or not, many of us feel strongly that the federal (government, politicians, bureaucrats, agencies, Law – take your pick) has NO authority, right or business imposing wolves (or grizzlies or mountain lions for that matter) on ANY Community that is not willing to accept or tolerate them!
So, “so the Feds won’t approve their plan”, by what authority do “the Feds” “approve” any State’s wolf “plan”? Wolves cause great and irresolvable harm to residents and those residents elect state and local officials with the demand that they call wolves “predators” and that they should control the numbers, densities and distribution of wolves. They tell local officials that they want wolves kept out of their County and that any entering their County should be dispatched by ballistic vaccination or traps or snares or however. Do citizens have this right?
Further, if the states continue taking their homework (i.e. Plans) to federal overseers for “approval” they will NEVER regain the authority and jurisdiction stolen from them by the un-Constitutional Endangered Species Act and the lawless and tyrannical bureaucratic behavior it has spawned to the great detriment of rural America. The ESA needs either a severe rewrite or better yet complete repeal. The ESA is a Law; that is a lesser matter than a Constitutional Amendment. When the 18th Amendment (the Volstead Act, i.e. Prohibition) was similarly passed and then ratified as a Constitutional Amendment in a comparable orgy of do-goodism, it took only 14 years for Americans to see the corruption and death it manufactured such that they Repealed that Amendment. The ESA is similarly creating corruption and destruction far beyond this narrow portion of its reach and should be Repealed and that sound goal is only shoved further down the road when a State like Wyoming (most others have behaved like ladies of the evening for the federal favors “getting along” brings) humbly begs federal bureaucrats to “approve” what they do or don’t do with a Resident Predator that does not belong in settled landscapes and is no more in short supply (i.e. “endangered”, “threatened” or “of special concern”) in the United States (Alaska, Montana and Minnesota were doing just fine before the ESA) than are sparrows or starlings.
Consider the irony of someone telling you that they will only let you manage (?) your (?) wolves if they “approve” what you will or will not do! In other words your employees and your operational dollars will do what the feds tell you to do or not do or they will simply “step back in”. Then we can all warble about how “getting along” is the Only way to go. Otherwise you are a “what”? There must be an “ist” or “phobe” word for anyone adhering to a Constitutional view of wolves and State’s Rights.
There is so much else swirling about these wolves than all the simplistic chatter about “only killing what they eat” and how ignorant some states are about their subservience to federal masters. This attempted answer actually reveals the egregious violations of the Preamble to the Constitution birthed by the ESA and exposes the current idea that the one sentence comprising the 10th Amendment is being ignored as the final word in the relationship between the States and the federal government!
Now that we have come to this point; the question I have is “where do we all go from here?”
28 March 2016
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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.
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I was sent a series of photographs of a bobcat attempting to get a meal made out of deer meat. The pictures are remarkable if for no other reason than someone was able to capture on film a bobcat, one that appears to be of some size, attempting to get a grip on a deer and haul it away for safe munching.
It is obvious from the first of just two photos that I will include, that the photos were taken from inside a vehicle. Thus, this event took place roadside.
I’m not an animal forensic expert and don’t want to pretend to be one. I would like however to at least raise a couple of questions, not to somehow discredit the photographer or the little bit of information contained in the email I received, but to help understand exactly what this event is.
When I received the photos, in one of the many “forwarded” emails, it was written that these were pictures of a bobcat taking down a deer. I have some doubts that that is what is going on – not that I don’t think a bobcat is capable of taking down an adult deer.
If this was an attack site, I would expect to find blood – at least some. On snow, and this snow appears rather fresh, red blood would easily show up. In looking at all the pictures, it seems that the deer might have been at this location for awhile as at least some degree of stiffness has set in.
The photos indicate this is beside a road, at least a road that is plowed which leaves me to think maybe this is road kill and the bobcat is being opportunistic.
There could be reasonable explanations for the questions I have provided and would like to hear them if readers would like to share. Things I don’t know about is what the temperature was outside at this time, whether there are drag marks through the snow to indicate if this deer was dragged to this point by the bobcat, or something else, before he was caught on camera.
Regardless, these are quite remarkable pictures and I am grateful for being the recipient of the sharing.
Perhaps the take away from this is another example of why bobcats should be classified as viable, large predators.
Nasty rotten events involving wolves that wolf lovers refuse to accept as reality, lead us to this news story. A man, who 56 years ago was attacked by a wolf, begins corrective surgery to fix a disfigured face.<<<Read More>>>
The fisher, Martes pennanti, now can be found just about everywhere in Connecticut; enough so that people are beginning to see them in their back yards…….really? Claimed to be nocturnal, one science teacher, captured one on video during the middle of the day.
And as one has become accustomed to hear, “Officials from DEEP also say it’s unlikely “fisher cats” will bother humans. Officials recommend removing any food sources such as garbage cans from your property.”
The bit of irony in this story is that wildlife officials in 1988 captured fisher cats in Vermont and New Hampshire and introduced them into the northwestern area of the state. Now, since 2005, licensed trappers can harvest the animals for often times valuable fur.
Connecticut awaits the Loup Garou!
I have finally found a written explanation about predator/prey relationships that is easy to sink your teeth into and understand and written by an authority on the subject; Dr. Charles Kay, Wildlife Ecology-Range Management Specialist Utah State University. His article can be found in Muley Crazy Magazine, Jan./Feb. Edition 2013.
Anyone paying any attention to the emotional debates about large predators – wolves and coyotes seem to carry the most irrational emotions – have heard someone, even those supposedly who are authorities, say that wolves/coyotes/large predators are necessary for our ecosystems because they kill only the lame, sick, weak and/or substandard members of the prey species. With the mindless perpetuation of such drivel, we are also told this “sanitary” engineering by predators provides for “healthy” prey species, some even claiming this natural phenomenon limits and reduces certain wildlife diseases because these predators are killing the sick among the prey.
I have always contended that if large predators were intelligent enough to determine the sickly of the species, why aren’t they equally intelligent to pick a good meal rather than one that might taste bad and be full of worms and disease? But I guess maybe that’s another discussion.
What studies that do exist, clearly show that large predators kill their prey/food depending upon several factors, none of which are the result of a predator recognizing they have a sick animal on their hands. Factors include: How easy it is for predators to kill their prey species under normal conditions; the size and killing ability of the predator versus the size and defense capabilities of the prey; how the predator hunts and environmental conditions. Seriously, is this something new? Of course not.
Dr. Kay explains that any prey species that is easily captured and killed, there is no difference in the proportionate killing of healthy vs. ill prey species. As the size and defense capabilities of the predator animal increases, the incidence of prey killed increases mostly do to a reduction of defensive capability.
Kay uses an example of lynx in Europe that will feed on both roe deer and red deer. He explains that roe deer, “are less than half the size of mule deer, while red deer are the same species as our elk.” Roe deer are easier to catch for the lynx and kill without evidence of taking a disproportionate number of sick roe deer. As far as the red deer are concerned, because the animal is bigger and more difficult to catch and take down, lynx tend to target red deer calves in disproportionate numbers to the overall red deer population. A bigger predator, such as a wolf, isn’t choosy between roe deer and red deer and will take either species that is available when hunted with little or no regard to seeking out a sick member of the herd.
All predators hunt differently; some are ambush hunters, some are stalkers that run down their prey, for examples. An ambush hunter isn’t particular or concerned over whether an animal is sick or lame. Essentially they have one shot at their prey, healthy or not. On the other hand, a predator, like a wolf or coyote, track down their prey, sometimes running them down, or perhaps surrounding their target. In this case, opportunism will likely afford the predator a better chance at catching up to and killing a sick or lame prey species. This only makes sense.
As any good scientist would do, Dr. Kay points out information he provided in other research work written about in “Predation and the Ecology of Fear” [see Muley Crazy 10(5): 23-28; 2010]. In this work and subsequent reporting, Kay points out that often times the substandard prey species can become this way due to harassment by predators and humans. Predators torment and harass prey species constantly. Battle weary prey animals then become an easier target and thus the ill health mythology exploited by the predator protectors is not so because it is caused by natural conditions such as physical defects and disease.
And if predators, such as wolves, exist for the function of killing only the lame, diseased and infirm of prey animals, while yielding us a “healthy” ecosystem, how does one explain surplus killing? Surplus killing, which is readily recorded, is when wolves move into a herd of prey and just kill everything they can until they have had enough killing, for no apparent reason than to kill. Some think of it as a learning adventure for the immature dogs in the pack. What I can tell you is that those who protect predators will deny that surplus killing is real.
Depending upon the region in which predator and prey relationships are being examined, one can find many environmental conditions that will effect a predator’s ability to hunt and a prey’s ability to defend themselves or escape. Deep and crusty snow comes to mind, as often prey species such as deer and moose, that use running as an escape, cannot flee so easily and wolves and coyotes easily run them down.
Dr. Kay also debunks the notions that large predators are good to limit or reduce wildlife disease because they pick on the sick prey and not the healthy. He points out that, “Wolf predation has not lowered the incidence of brucellosis in elk within the Yellowstone ecosystem.” Also, “In Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park, bison are infected with both brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis. Yet more than 50 years of wolf predation has not lowered the incidence of either disease.” Again, “Cape buffalo are preyed upon by African lions and spotted hyenas, both formidable predators, yet predation has not slowed the spread of bovine tuberculosis in Kruger’s cape buffalo population.” Finally, “predation by black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes has not slowed the spread of chronic wasting disease.”
In addition to revealing that predation is not changing the incidences of disease, Dr. Kay tells his readers that some predators, such as wolves and coyotes, carry more than 30 diseases that they are infecting ungulate populations with, and creating for potential harm and possible death to humans. Certainly a predator spreading so many diseases cannot and is not making for a healthy prey population, but an unhealthy one.
Proper control of predators is the proven and scientific method of keeping healthy prey and predator species, not some myth that these predators are like trained physicians making house calls to keep all their food supply healthy. Let’s not pretend.
It is certainly one thing to want to protect your favorite wild animal but at what expense? Do we risk the health of humans while hiding behind some notion that predators are sanitation engineers? As Dr. Kay says, “the next time some wolf biologist or pro-wolf advocate tries to tell you that predators only kill the lame, the sick, and the infirm, or that predators help control disease, listen politely, or not, and then have a good laugh! What you do next is up to you, but remember, the federal government has warned all its employees, who normally handle wolves or wolf scat, about Echincoccus granulosus, but has yet to pass a similar warning on to the general public.”