Unlike anyone else that has written, including Steven UP, I have lived in Western Montana my entire life, save a few travels around to world. I also grew up hunting and fishing here (we were, well, poor when I was a kid. I think I was eleven before I ever ate a beef steak. I thought red meat came form the woods in Fall!)
As to the primary concern of wolves over-running farm in a SHTF scenario, that will be the least of your worries. As to the idea that elk and deer populations are being decimated by wolf packs, that is 100% USDA Certified Bovine Scatology! If a wolf eats one ton (your number, Steven) of red meat, that’s about two elk per year per wolf. To compare, an adult cougar kills and eats a deer a week (lions are picky eaters and will seldom return after three to four days on a kill. By then the coyotes have usually licked the bones clean anyhow.)
No, the greatest predator to the Montana elk population is the some 250 thousand out-of-state hunters which descend on our fair state each year. Conversely, the greatest killer of mule deer seems to be the Freightliner and Buick variety. Mule deer populations in Western Montana are at all-time highs. We have urban populations, not that have been encroached upon by urban sprawl, but deer herds that have come out of the hills into the old parts of town, and live full time in our parks, yards, and greenways. Along with them have come the cougars, for where there are deer, there are mountain lions. That largely accounts for the increase in human-lion encounters.
But, if wolves aren’t a problem, why the laws to protect livestock and dogs, you ask? Because the wolf is STILL a protected species. The law, if you take thee time to read it, is for the protection of the landholder/rancher who kills a wolf which is threatening attacking his animals. It also provides for monetary compensation for animals destroyed by re-introduced wolves.
But, the biologist, I can hear you saying…what about their findings? The example you cite, Steven, is talking about Yellowstone Park…a PARK, for Pete’s sake, where the wolf has no competition for elk for about a third of the year, and then only moderate competition from the grizzly bears, which would rather eat berries and garbage than go hunting elk. (Don’t get me wrong: grizzlies are THE King of the Forest, and anywhere else they are! They are superb hunters. It’s just that bears in general are prodigious eaters, and will concentrate on the easiest meal around. That might be you, so keep in mind that the closer you are to a grizzly bear, the further you are from the top of the food chain.)
So, wolves are wild predators. be aware of their presence, and respect their abilities. The same goes for cats, big and small, bears of all varieties, and dogs, which as rehashed elsewhere, will be returned to their wild state after TEOTWAWKI. arrives. Of them all, I’m convinced that feral dogs pose the greatest threat, if for no other reason than the overwhelming numbers in a worst-case scenario.
There, enough kicking this dog (sorry, too easy!). This is Survival Blog.com, not Earth First or Animal Planet. Just my $1.83 worth (two cents , adjusted for inflation) – Bonehead
Some interesting letters about the wolf problem in the Lower 48. I live west of the border from the original poster in northeastern Wisconsin. Most of the information the writer gave is unfortunately too correct. Since the early 90’s the wolf population has boomed here. Although the state census says there are only about 550 or so in the state, observation in the field around the state would tend to make you think there are considerably more than that number. The northern third of Wisconsin is considered wolf habitat, yet nearly 10 years ago they colonized the central state forests and continue to show up all the way to Illinois and Iowa. Every year several are car-killed in those areas.
In my area deer populations have really nosedived when the wolf packs took over. Essentially many of the federal, state, and county forests in the northeast part of the state have had drastic (like close to 90%) drops in deer populations. Small game has shown a similar decline. Snowshoe and cottontail have dropped below their normal low cycle and never rebounded. Walking through the bush in many places is like walking through a morgue, no sounds, no tracks, no critters. Very erie. For those doubting the efficacy of the wolf as a predator of large game, the elk restoration project in the Clam Falls area is at a virtual standstill. A news article in this past Sunday’s Wausau Herald detailed the cause as wolf predation on calves and cows. At this point the population is where it was about 8 years ago, 125 head, not the projected 500-700 head for 2007. On a high note, where wolves move in coyotes disappear, much as fox are gone when coyote take over.
As for wolf attacks on pets and livestock, they are increasing rapidly. This state has stopped compensation in most cases, instead merely issuing warnings that a particular “pack” is aggressive so don’t take dogs into “their” area. If you do you’re on your own, but of course don’t use force to protect your dogs. Many dogs are just taken from their yard, you don’t need to be running bear or hunting birds to have your dog hit. Just in the last couple weeks a local had a full grown holstein pulled down by wolves. The DNR “fish cop” that investigated felt coyotes had pulled down the 1200 pound cow. When the farmer asked about the 5 inch wide [canine] tracks all over the carcase the warden told him they were coyote! So the farmer then told the warden he’d just shoot the coyote that made the tracks and all would be well, which didn’t sit very well with the fish cop of course. This is typical of how farmers are handled now. Up until about 2001 compensation wasn’t too bad, but after that it was a case of prove the wolf had done it, tracks apparently don’t count. One gentleman over in Burnett county had something over 20 head killed and was paid for 3 as I recall.
As for human attacks, none have happened in this state (in the current era of the wolf) yet. Three times I’ve hade to push wolves out of my yard, twice while they were trying to get my dogs behind a 4 foot high fence. This is pretty much the norm if you live in the bush here. Many of the loggers now only work armed, having had too many close encounters with wolves that just hang out a few yards away while they are working. Having not been hunted these animals have no fear of humans at all. It’s not uncommon to have one walk by you in the bush, eye you up and then circle, like it’s looking for a weakness. I have never had a wolf encounter in this area where the animal runs away in fear, like coyote or bear. They might give way but always grudgingly. David Mech, the foremost wolf expert for North America has tried to encourage the DNR to begin a harvest on the animals, to keep them in check but to date nothing. I suspect the state is soaking up the wolf “recovery” federal dollars, so the longer the de-listing process takes they more they make. Mr. Mech’s greatest fear is that sooner or later a child or two will be killed, then as in the latest Indian episode all wolves will be painted with the same brush and those living in wolf country will do their damndest to change that designation by unlimited albeit illegal harvest.
The DNR doesn’t give out much in the way of wolf kill figures, but if this area is like the rest of the “wolf country” in the state, their must be 75 head that follow the Montana path to Nirvana every year. Those of us that live in the bush have gotten a little tired of the “greenies” pushing their newest pet off on us with no consequences for them. – Doubletap