Saturday, May 21, 2016

Questioning the ‘facts’ on wolves

Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2016  I would like to respond to the comment made by Idaho Rep. Ron Mendive at the Fish and Game Commission meeting on 5/16/16.
With regard to wolf supporters, Rep. Mendive stated: “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but it’s primarily opinion. It’s not based in fact.”
Ironically, wolf supporters have felt the same about the IFG.

We have to believe the IFG’s own statistics that are given to us, but not all of these “facts” logically stack up from what we have observed for ourselves. Extrapolation methods are used (using math from aircraft) to come up with these numbers, which is not always accurate — but who’s checking?

IFG says that its biologists have determined the primary limiting factor for the elk herds in the Lolo are wolves. This isn’t the first time they have said this.

Elk herds dropped from 16,000 in 1989 to 2,100 in 2010. This was later blamed on the wolf, but the huge drop in elk populations came before the wolves had ever reached the Locksa, making it impossible for them to be responsible.

The depletions at that time were due to some very severe winters in the ‘90s and excessive over-hunting by outfitters and regular hunters in that region. Professional hunter and tracker Kevin Brown states, “When I was hunting on the Locksa, this was common knowledge at that time as to why there were elk reductions.”

Kevin also stated, “I have hunted in just about every drainage of the Lolo and the St. Joe for over 25 years and I have never encountered one F&G employee, but I have run across evidence of poachers on numerous occasions. Salt licks that are illegal...are abundant everywhere. Bow hunters use them to lure in elk during bow season. Where is the enforcement? Where is the IFG?”

Every area has a carrying capacity which is the amount of animals that are sustainable to inhabit these areas year after year while living with predators, fires and harsh winters. These levels are dictated by nature. When there are too many elk for an area, it ultimately results in starvation and disease for the ecosystem to come back into balance.

Habitat is a huge factor towards decreased populations of elk.

Road kills on Highway 12, outfitters, hunters and poachers are not inclusive in these carrying capacity numbers. Whittling down predators to artificially increase ungulate numbers that are already topheavy for these areas is for a private agenda only. That agenda is to fill the tags of outfitters and hunters. To manically start massacring wolves and killing lions and bears to create a mono culture for outfitters is shameful.

How any biologist can determine that the cause of elk reduction is solely due to wolves is questionable. How can they really know all of the legitimate reasons for depletion when there are so many possibilities for this to happen? Better yet, how can they narrow it down to only one predator — the wolf? This is not logical.

Wolves kill elk. So do bears and lions. That is what predators do. We need to leave all of them alone to let them seek their own balance in wilderness areas. Then the hunters can take from that natural abundance that is left over, not the other way around. This would be true management of wildlife.

“I question the IFG reports from all that I have personally witnessed,” says Kevin Brown. “I see extreme mismanagement of our wildlife predators using Idaho taxpayer dollars. It’s clear that balance of these amazing ecosystems is no longer a priority.”

When I see new buildings, new trucks and literally hundreds of employees working for the IFG, I have to wonder why there isn’t more enforcement in our forests where the allotted $400,000 per year for the wolf depredation board could really be used.

It is my opinion that the blatant massacre of wolves from helicopters coupled with obsessive trapping, neck snares and poisoning is a frivolous personal ploy of an agenda to satisfy a small group of people (pushed by our governor) at the expense of Idahoans. It is not only bad stewardship of the land, but it is not helping an Idaho that is so desperately in need of better health care, infrastructure and schools, etc.

These egregious actions and misuse of taxpayer money ($6,000 per dead wolf) through the Idaho wolf depredation board most urgently needs to be addressed — and most favorably abolished.
This should be put to a vote for Idahoans and not left solely up to an appointed organization that ultimately oversees itself and ignores public opinion.