Posts Tagged ‘Idaho wolves’

Mark Derr writes about whether the science behind delisting the wolf population in three Rocky Mountain states is justified.

Much of his critique of Mech is justified, except that I do agree with Mech that we have to avoid both vilifying and overly romanticizing wolves.

Wolves are still predators, and although they don’t often attack people, they certainly can do a lot of damage to a dog.

The real question is whether wolf numbers in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have actually reached a sustainable level.

And the bulk of the science says no.

But of course, that hasn’t stopped the US Fish and Wildlife Service from delisting them.

I don’t think that one can make the case that a wolf hunt in Minnesota is unjustified. Minnesota stopped its wolf bounties in the 1960’s, when Governor Karl Rolvaag vetoed the last of the wolf bounty bills that was passed by the state legislature. Minnesota’s DNR is staffed by pretty well-qualified professionals, and I don’t think Minnesota would destroy wolf populations in the same way Idaho would.

I was about to say the same about Wisconsin, but remember, Wisconsin’s government has been taken over by right wing fanatics, and Governor Walker has hired a “deer czar,” who considers wildlife management “the last bastion of communism.”  This czar is advising the state on how to privatize its deer herd, which cannot be good for wolves. The problem with Idaho is people think they own the elk and deer, and they want to kill off the wolves, which they think are decimating cervid herds.

I particularly liked Derr’s dig at Mech for scoffing at DNA analysis. The truth is Mech has been very dismissive of genetic studies on wolves, including the discovery that the much-ballyhooed “red wolf” is actually a coyote with some wolf ancestry.

There is still a huge debate about whether delisting the wolf in the Northern Rockies is a sound wildlife management decision. One might say it is entirely a political decision, but let’s keep in mind that the current administration couldn’t win any of those three states.

It seems to me that this is bad policy mixing in with bad politics.

It is true that I do have issues with the wolfaboo image of Canis lupus.

And I certainly have issues with the Little Red Riding Hood image.

I do think we need to have a reality-based assessment of wolves– which are not endangered as a species.

But I don’t think we’re ready to let Idaho manage its wolves.

At some point, we will need to have wolf management plans in place, and Minnesota could be a great model for developing these plans.

Let it be known that I’m not opposed to wolf hunting as a management tool. Wolves are much better off when they have a very healthy fear of people, and whenever wolf packs take to killing dogs or livestock , they need to be culled.

But I don’t think we should go back to the days when wolves were shot, trapped, and poisoned for bounty money. We definitely shouldn’t go back to the days when people caught wolves and tortured them. On the frontier, it was common for people to catch wolves in pits, and they would either hamstring them or bind their jaws shut and turn them dogs on them. Or they would leave a bitch in season tied out, and when the male wolves would mate with her, they would catch them in a tie  and hack the wolf up with a hatchet.

There has to be some middle way. I agree with Mech very much in this respect.

But I don’t think we’ve found it yet.


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To show how difficult it is to tell dogs and wolves apart, here’s an interesting story from Idaho.

Last week, some campers were wandering around the Idaho back country in search of a wolf pack, and they happened to come across what appeared to be a domestic dog puppy wandering around the woods.

Apparently, this puppy apparently was friendly enough for it to allow itself to be picked up,  and they brought it home.

DNA tests were performed to determine its exact identity, and it turns out that this puppy is actually a wolf.

This puppy appears to be in the six-week-old range, and it was apparently okay with allowing people to pick it up.

This discovery alone should tell us that a commonly held assertion– and a major assumption of the Coppinger model for dog domestication– is false. Coppinger makes a big deal out of how wolf puppies that aren’t imprinted upon humans at a very early age–  if memory serves, younger than three weeks of age– are impossible to handle.

This puppy shows that assumption to be false. It is clearly older than the very early date that Coppinger proposes, but it still allowed itself to be captured and brought into captivity. The pup appears to be nervous and afraid in the video, but it’s not cowering in the corner,like one would expect from an animal that was that deeply afraid of humans.

Of course, allowing oneself to be handled and being an appropriate pet are two quite different things.

It’s a good thing that Idaho authorities are trying to reunite this pup with its natal pack.

But this is going to be quite difficult. Wolves in Idaho have lots of reason to be afraid of people, and as the rest of the pack’s puppies mature, they will be wandering over their large territories in search of prey.

However, this case of mistaken identity shows that even somewhat more mature wolf pups can be handled and eventually socialized to people.

And thus, the “captured cub” hypothesis has a bit more merit to it than Coppinger claims.

So if you’re wandering around in wolf or even coyote territory and you see what appears to be a German shepherd-type puppy wandering around, it’s probably a good idea to leave it alone.

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Count the number of incorrect things this man says.You’ll lose count in about a minute or two.

He’s not the only one, this fellow has a bizarre conspiracy theory about wolves that you’ll have to see. (He’s also got conspiracy theories about our current government that are quite a hoot to watch, if you go to his channel.)

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A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the proposed wolf hunt in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho on Friday.

I support controlling wolf numbers if they become high enough to warrant a cull. I do not support gunning them from the air, however.

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