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Posted: January 30, 2015, 4:08 am
Connie,

No offense taken on my part, like me, you have been in this a long time, I just wish it would seem as if we make progress sometimes, I have been watching these types of videos and reading so many stories for so long now, that there are actually activists working on this issue that were not even born when I started.

Statistics: Posted by Dave Parker — Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:08 pm


Posted: January 30, 2015, 3:17 am
Dave Parker wrote:
Connie wrote:I'm afraid to watch. Does it need a "Warning: Graphic Video" disclaimer?


Connie you know better, the Bison videos should always be prefaced with "Warning" and have needed it since I first start writing about the issue with Bison in the mid 90's One of the biggest problems I have seen over the last 20 years, is the millions that visit, only care for that couple of weeks they visit the park, then they go home to their world and don't think about it again. It is very unfortunate that the majority of people in the US don't pay attention to these issues, those of us that do are a very small percentage of the population.


I suspected as much; thus, the question. But since this is a family forum with children viewing and since graphic photos and videos increasingly keep me awake at night, I find I need to brace myself. I agree that issues like these deserve more attention. My comments were not a criticism and I do not disagree with you.

Statistics: Posted by Connie — Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:17 pm


Posted: January 30, 2015, 2:53 am
Connie wrote:
I'm afraid to watch. Does it need a "Warning: Graphic Video" disclaimer?


Connie you know better, the Bison videos should always be prefaced with "Warning" and have needed it since I first start writing about the issue with Bison in the mid 90's One of the biggest problems I have seen over the last 20 years, is the millions that visit, only care for that couple of weeks they visit the park, then they go home to their world and don't think about it again. It is very unfortunate that the majority of people in the US don't pay attention to these issues, those of us that do are a very small percentage of the population.

Statistics: Posted by Dave Parker — Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:53 pm


Posted: January 30, 2015, 2:45 am
I'm afraid to watch. Does it need a "Warning: Graphic Video" disclaimer?

Statistics: Posted by Connie — Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:45 pm


Posted: January 29, 2015, 5:35 pm
Watch this. Your heart will race, your hands will tremble. You'll feel sick. If only the millions of tourists who visit Yellowstone and marvel at the wild bison herds could see what goes on in another, remote corner of the park.The park no longer allows access to the capture facility, and here's why:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emQDYX6 ... e=youtu.be

To read the latest report from the field:
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2426/t/0/bla ... EY=1315487

Statistics: Posted by Other Nations — Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:35 am


Posted: January 28, 2015, 3:38 am
Thanks for posting this, Connie. The study certainly looks interesting and promising for bison conservation. I'm hoping to find some time to read it in its entirety. When/If I do, I'll report back.

Statistics: Posted by Austin Allison — Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:38 pm


Posted: January 28, 2015, 3:36 am
Now that I have had a little bit of time to actually do some quick and dirty research, I would like to (hopefully) contribute something constructive to this discussion. First, as best I can tell, moose, to this point, appear to be an under-studied species in the GYE. There is precious little historic information on moose populations in the region floating around the web, especially for Yellowstone proper. The little information I could find is not particularly cohesive or illuminating, but I do think that some important facts can be gleaned by reading carefully.

The first piece of information is the Moose Population History on the Northern Yellowstone Winter Range piece found on the Park's website: http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/upload/ys16%281%29partI.pdf

While some of the counting techniques here are problematic for various reasons, I think, together they paint a pretty compelling picture of moose populations declining following the '88 fires (as has been pointed out here by several of you). Of course, the information found here only pertains the moose population on the Northern Range in the winter (which was the initial topic of discussion).

Fortunately, as the following piece details, moose appear primed to shine brightly in the spotlight of scientific research in the very near future: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2014/04/husband-wife-team-studying-yellowstone-national-park-moose-population24886

This counting technique is scientifically much more robust and accurate than previous methods used, and should provide us with a good estimate of the Northern Range population moving forward. They expect the final estimate of Northern Range moose to fall between 80 and 100 individuals, although it doesn't sound as if they would be too surprised if they found a few more than that. The article also notes that wolf predation does not appear to be a significant factor contributing to any decline in the moose population at this time (it certainly seems plausible that the low number of moose kills by wolves in the area could be primarily due to a low moose population density, although this is pure speculation on my part). In the end, it looks like it's impossible to say, at least with any amount of confidence, that the moose population on the Northern Range is any larger or smaller than it has been in recent years, or in which direction that number is moving. At the very least, this study should provide a baseline for future population work. Whether the ultimate number is high, low or just right, is going to depend on how many moose you think there should be, since there is no objectively correct number of moose or any other animal.

Jackson Hole appears to have a completely different story to tell. In addition to the link Johnny posted, here are two more articles concerned with the Jackson Hole moose population: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/top_stories/recent-moose-counts-see-numbers-plummet/article_2dbc0e3c-4d59-5396-be9b-606ce25cb6d5.html http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/environmental/jackson-hole-moose-numbers-looking-up/article_929c5e92-be7d-587a-911f-7388bb3ff932.html

If nothing else, the complete 180 in the headlines published but one year apart should give you a chuckle. Unlike the wolves of the Northern Range, the canines in Grand Teton seem to kill quite a few moose, both overall (56 in 3 winters compared to 53 in 17 years on the Nothern Range) and relative to other species (43 moose in 2 winters compared to 58 elk during that same time frame). It seems likely that the wolves are having some not insignificant effect on the Jackson Moose herd. This could simply be due to opportunity many of the elk leave the valley in the winter, while the moose remain, whereas on the Nothern Range, elk remain readily available year round. The article Johnny posted also points out that moose only existed in the area at low densities until the 1920s (around the time wolves were extirpated). The articles above also point out that moose are known to exhaust their food resources when left unchecked, and indeed, signs of an impending population crash were already showing before the 1988 fires. It would, therefore, seem entirely plausible that such a predicament would be exacerbated by the fires and the repopulation of the region by wolves. And yet...and yet the most recent reports seem to indicate that the moose population in Jackson may only now be in the early stages of an upward trajectory, as calf to cow rations have recently risen.

Maybe moose populations in the GYE are on the rise. I certainly wouldn't be bothered to see more moose on my visits. That being said, moose were not historically major players in the ecology of the region (at least not until wolves were extirpated), so it's unclear why relatively low population numbers in some parts of the ecosystem should either be surprising or worrisome. Wolves are a natural part of a wild GYE. If wilderness and wildness are what we want (that is the primary purpose of the parks in my mind), then I see no reason to intervene in natural processes. Easily the thing that concerns me the most is the effect of climate change on the moose and, indeed, all species in the area. If we must do something, we should all be focused on saving these magnificent places from us - humans - rather than the things that make it so wonderful in the first place.

Statistics: Posted by Austin Allison — Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:36 pm


Posted: January 28, 2015, 2:13 am
The death count increases; a news release from today:

[YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, GARDINER BASIN, MT]
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) patrols reported this morning that they witnessed three tribal stock trailers leaving Yellowstone’s Stephens Creek bison trap containing wild bison. Another stock trailer full of wild buffalo left the Stephens Creek trap Monday afternoon. In the past two days roughly fifty-five wild buffalo were taken from the trap to slaughter facilities by two tribal entities — the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the federally chartered InterTribal Buffalo Council — who are participants in the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP).


An estimated 250 wild bison have so far been captured inside Yellowstone’s trap since January 15. All have been shipped to slaughter, except for five bison who were consigned to the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for birth control experiments with the chemical pesticide GonaCon.

“You think to yourself that this couldn’t possibly be happening, that Yellowstone and some Native Americans could do this, but the shocking reality is that those who should be the fiercest champions and strongest allies for the buffalo are instead betraying them by taking the lead in the livestock industry’s culture of death,” said Stephany Seay, spokeswoman with BFC.

Continued: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/med ... 12715.html

Statistics: Posted by Other Nations — Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:13 pm


Posted: January 27, 2015, 4:41 am
Ranchers fear bison for two main reasons: disease and grazing competition. But a new study shows that bison aren’t the competitors they would seem to be.

http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/wildlife/study-bison-don-t-compete-much-with-cattle-for-grass/article_fb1ce323-cead-5890-9683-b6903914f268.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_937344&utm_campaign=blox

Statistics: Posted by Connie — Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:41 pm


Posted: January 26, 2015, 8:44 pm
Dan S thanks for disseminating some of Johnnyb's opinion, the parts I felt need more comment are:

JohnnyB wrote:
IMO if NW Fremont County's "shoot, shovel, and shutup" culture had not been so prolific losses would have been far greater. Dozens if not hundreds of wolves were taken illegally in very short order yet the population continued to rise far beyond predictions in dramatically short order.

Dozens of poached wolves in NW Fremont County? maybe? but HUNDREDS of Poached wolves in NW Fremont County? where do you get this info? at the local tavern in Dubois? Do you believe it?

JohnnyB wrote:
We also had virtually every kind of the very few remaining ungulates seeking out civilization in huge numbers during calving because it was clear wolves did not want much with a human population that was hunting them extensively albeit illegally. I sadly saw many moose and elk calving right behind our barn and my cabin in the Dunoir while wolves paced just a hlf mile away across horse pasture, it was truly amazing.

Sure Johnny, the ungulates that are birthing in backyards are highly visible, but do you really believe they are doing that en mass due to the wolves? Also, Bears are documented as having a larger impact on calves.

JohnnyB wrote:
Given the reinvention of wolf taxonomy in the 90s, going from two dozen subspecies to just a half dozen or so, to justify the Yellowstone program as a "reintroduction"

That just isnt true Johnny - you need to get over the fact that science regularly corrects taxonomy errors from the 1800's-vintage notebooks! There are no geographic or other subspeciation barriers from Alberta to Wyoming - especially for these nomadic creatures. Have you heard of DNA? BTW, Even elk were reviewed in the mid 90's to conclude that they are NOT all descendents of Europe's Red Deer. Bison taxonomy continues to be a current debate also - expect changes there too!

JohnnyB wrote:
there is of course no factual denial that the wolves released in Yellowstone were different than those extirpated years before and were hunting larger ungulates at their more northern native latitude. The "Super Wolf" myth was of course hysteria but nonetheless even today Mike Jimenez will tell you today's GYE wolves are likely at least 10% larger than the native population in the area at the beginning of the last century. I have seen this qualified assertion dismissed here sans any real rebuttal before so I'm sure we will again.

I provided you with a rebuttal in the past that you chose not to reply to. It was regarding your assertion that the former GYE wolves used to be "Timber Wolf" sized (as in, the wolves of the Great lakes Region) and therefore not typically preying on "large ungulates" like moose. However, the 'timber wolves' of the Great Lakes - especially Northern Minnesota (e.g. Isle Royale) regularly prey on the much larger NW Canada Moose species versus the northern rocky mountains smaller (in fact smallest) Shiras Moose subspecies - what say you to that? Also, have you read "recent research" like the one referenced in this newspaper article: http://billingsgazette.com/lifestyles/recreation/new-research-shows-yellowstone-wolves-pick-their-prey-based-on/article_4af0a889-7f13-5ead-b762-2a83717509f5.html does that help you understand why this size misinformation is popular among the wolf-hating population of the region?

JohnnyB wrote:
Moose Wilson Road mysteriously remained closed beyond projected openings because plowing was cut back, IMO likely with consideration for the calico wolves likely denning near the old JY Ranch. I've seen some of them over the years at very close range, they're truly amazing.

Serious? Please tell me more about these "calico wolves and their den"?
Is this another subspecies - how big do they run?! :lol:

JohnnyB wrote:
Ungulate numbers have responded far more with wolf hunting than they did before it was legal

Please show me some sort of evidence that ungulate numbers have (I assume) increased since 2012? Also, that "datapoint" seems to fly in the face of your whole previous [decimated ungulates] argument where you even used the words "virtually every kind of the very few remaining ungulates"...

JohnnyB wrote:
Despite legal hunting, trapping, poisoning, etc. wolf numbers have remained far greater than the most optimistic of original, qualified projections.

legal poisoning? As far as I know the use of poison was rightly banned in the US in 1972. Maybe some of your buddies telling you about the "hundreds of poached NW Fremont County wolves" are using poison? please do tell?

JohnnyB wrote:
I'm guessing a good start would be to stop the divisive emotion of name calling.

When you put advocates in quotes ("advocates") as you did in your diatribe, is that a form of said name calling? Or, is it just when you refer to them as emotionally hysterical advocates?

Statistics: Posted by Colorado_Dave — Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:44 pm


Posted: January 26, 2015, 7:20 pm
Other Nations wrote:
Thanks for reading & commenting, everyone. I agree that the predator/carnivores do seem to get far more attention in general than do herd animals/ungulates like wild bison. But in both instances you have industries (hunting/outfitting in the case of predators; livestock in the case of bison) disseminating misinformation and applying pressure for the control/eradication of wildlife populations. While it might seem like the bison population is doing well, we don't know what long-term genetic damage is being done by the constant culling & slaughtering required to keep the population at an artificially-low, politically-derived number of 3000. For those who might be unaware, a petition has been filed with USFWS to list the Yellowstone population under the Endangered Species Act. You can find info about the petition on this page: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/act ... ction.html

Thanks again ~Kathleen


Totally agree that the Bison issue has similar misinformation being spread. Seems that ranchers have forgot some key facts - that it was cattle that brought brucellosis to the region and that bison, which do have some instances of carrying the disease, have not been proven to have had any instances of transmission back to cattle.

Statistics: Posted by Colorado_Dave — Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:20 pm


Posted: January 25, 2015, 7:18 pm
JohnnyB wrote:
In my understanding climate change has been the leading cause of moose decline in the Northern Rockies and of course fires factor into that line of reasoning. Yet wolf predation has indeed been documented to exacerbate existing moose declines in the region significantly

John,

This is probably the most true statement. Wolves undeniably HAVE an impact on moose populations. The question is how much? I know you and I have debated this in passing.

Climate changes and subsequent fires (1988 in particular) seriously impacted the YNP population. You also have to take into effect the fact that previous to the '88 fires in the park, fire had been aggressively suppressed. That led to more old growth forests than normal, thus increased moose winter habitat. Which presumably helped increase the moose population over what could be argued as "normal" levels. Which meant the fires might have seemed to impact YNP populations even more.

You can call me all the names you want to but the observations of many like myself demonstrate the logical probability wolves have significantly exacerbated existing declines in certain drainages at certain times.

I'm hoping the name calling part wasn't directed towards me, I try to refrain from that.
Observations are simply anecdotal like Austin pointed out and while they might provide insight into what is truly happening, they might not as well.

The "Super Wolf" myth was of course hysteria but nonetheless even today Mike Jimenez will tell you today's GYE wolves are likely at least 10% larger than the native population in the area at the beginning of the last century. I have seen this qualified assertion dismissed here sans any real rebuttal before so I'm sure we will again.

I don't know if there has been any real documentation of wolf sizes from the 19th century. Most of the reports from back then didn't seem to mention weights/sizes. I know in '02 from my time with the wolf project winter study, the average YNP wolf was 80-90lbs, with the largest males sometimes approaching 120-130lbs. Many anti-wolfers claimed that the reintroduced YNP wolves were "200lbs" which as you mentioned was hysteria.

Given free time (which I have precious little of these days), it would be interesting to delve into historical reports to glean what we could from what they reported on wolf sizes back then though to compare.

I have noticed more and more moose in the SW Absaroka in recent years, no doubt they are adapting as best they can like they are farther North.

I think as the wolf populations fluctuate and move, this will happen periodically in different areas.
I think prey just gets pushed and the predator ranges will change and that will lead to us seeing different patterns from our travels.

The animosity nurtured by financial, rarely scientific, agendas on both sides has crippled the possibility of a more acceptable ultimate solution for all of us. I'm guessing a good start would be to stop the divisive emotion of name calling.

I can't support this statement any stronger than I do. The wolf issue has become a microcosm of the larger current American
political situation.

Statistics: Posted by DanS — Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:18 pm


Posted: January 25, 2015, 6:55 pm
Austin Allison wrote:
I don't disagree with you, Dan. I don't even necessarily disagree that they're coming back (I haven't looked into it yet, so I don't have enough information right now). If they are coming back, however, Sam seeing more moose on the Northern Range for a few years is not sufficient evidence to demonstrate such a recovery.

Austin,
I agree that just seeing more moose from a few individuals on the northern range doesn't necessarily indicate a "recovery".

However, this works both ways. For example, many anti-wolfers locally indicated that because they saw "less" moose during their periodic trips into YNP after the wolf reintroduction, they theorized wolves were wiping out moose. Their anecdotes aren't any more/less suspect.

In reality, just comparing moose numbers from 1985 and 2015 doesn't really give us the true picture of what's going on because it's such a short timeline. To really understand the relative "health" of moose numbers we would need to look at a much longer timeline. Just comparing their population numbers from a 30 year snapshot doesn't necessarily give us the whole picture.

I will say that over my time in YNP I've seen relatively more moose on the northern range over the past 2-3 years. Now whether than means I've just been luckier in seeing moose or there actually has been a population boom of sorts, I can't say. But the information I put most stock in, is the data indicating that research has seen that wolves impact on moose has been minimal in YNP. So I feel like the wolf impact is overestimated by those that typically hate wolves anyway.

Statistics: Posted by DanS — Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:55 am


Posted: January 25, 2015, 6:13 pm
Yet another non-profit looking for something for free.

I would have a lot more respect for BFC if they actually did something for Buffalo like using their donation money to purchase habitat and/or fence for these critters. But like most non-profits they use donations to generate more donations (via misinformation and lies) which they spend on themselves.

From Guide Star, form 990, BFC takes in about $200K/year in donations. But they payout about $100K/year in employee benefits. It must be nice to live in West Yellowstone off of other people’s money.

Statistics: Posted by zeaper2 — Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:13 am


Posted: January 25, 2015, 4:46 pm
In my understanding climate change has been the leading cause of moose decline in the Northern Rockies and of course fires factor into that line of reasoning. Yet wolf predation has indeed been documented to exacerbate existing moose declines in the region significantly:

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/envi ... 95533.5796

You can call me all the names you want to but the observations of many like myself demonstrate the logical probability wolves have significantly exacerbated existing declines in certain drainages at certain times. I know for fact that in the mid to late 90s moose virtually disappeared in INCREDIBLY quick order from the Dunoir Valley and much of the SW Absaroka after many of the wolves released in YNP in '95 and '96 made their way across the vast wilderness of of Southeast YNP and the Teton and Washakie Wildernesses to the easier hunting grounds of the upper Wind River Valley. It's pretty simple, moose are much easier for wolves to hunt because of their far more solitary nature than other ungulates. IMO if NW Fremont County's "shoot, shovel, and shutup" culture had not been so prolific losses would have been far greater. Dozens if not hundreds of wolves were taken illegally in very short order yet the population continued to rise far beyond predictions in dramatically short order. I am of course not condoning that culture, simply noting it's logically assumed effect. We also had virtually every kind of the very few remaining ungulates seeking out civilization in huge numbers during calving because it was clear wolves did not want much with a human population that was hunting them extensively albeit illegally. I sadly saw many moose and elk calving right behind our barn and my cabin in the Dunoir while wolves paced just a hlf mile away across horse pasture, it was truly amazing.

Given the reinvention of wolf taxonomy in the 90s, going from two dozen subspecies to just a half dozen or so, to justify the Yellowstone program as a "reintroduction" there is of course no factual denial that the wolves released in Yellowstone were different than those extirpated years before and were hunting larger ungulates at their more northern native latitude. The "Super Wolf" myth was of course hysteria but nonetheless even today Mike Jimenez will tell you today's GYE wolves are likely at least 10% larger than the native population in the area at the beginning of the last century. I have seen this qualified assertion dismissed here sans any real rebuttal before so I'm sure we will again.

I have noticed more and more moose in the SW Absaroka in recent years, no doubt they are adapting as best they can like they are farther North. I however saw a repeat of what happened in the Dunoir in GTNP about 7 years ago. Because, IMO of course, of a far greater human presence wolves did not colonize the Valley floor of Jackson Hole for at least 10 years after the Yellowstone releases. Then they did, and visitors in GTNP complained vociferously that they could not find the moose they'd found in far larger numbers just a year or two before. That's when the RKO and Old River Roads suddenly had extended Spring/ into summer closures for denning wolves. Moose Wilson Road mysteriously remained closed beyond projected openings because plowing was cut back, IMO likely with consideration for the calico wolves likely denning near the old JY Ranch. I've seen some of them over the years at very close range, they're truly amazing.

As to anecdotes I'm not so disagreeable Sam as my personal observations are no better documented than your own. IMO Elk and moose numbers in certain drainages really had no more downward real estate to go, in a much larger interconnected ecosystem rebound of some sort was logically inevitable. I am far less "anti" wolf than I was then because I do of course see balance returning to the ecosystem far faster than I could have imagined it would back then. But lets not forget that that balance did not, at least entirely, come because of non-interference. Ungulate numbers have responded far more with wolf hunting than they did before it was legal. And beyond hunting other factors like mange, etc., significantly dropped wolf numbers in YNP...and logically facilitated a measurable rise in affected ungulate numbers as you are observing.

I'm not happy about it either but with Mike Enzi now being one of the most powerful people in our country with this new Congress look for another run around of the ESA as there was in Idaho and Montana to come in Wyoming and the Great Lake States, especially given the biggest obstacle simply appears to be the verbage of the most recently overturned plans. Despite legal hunting, trapping, poisoning, etc. wolf numbers have remained far greater than the most optimistic of original, qualified projections. Elk have indeed been decimated at times in certain drainages but there is of course no denial that their numbers have remained far above objectives region wide. Control of one form or another is and always has been here to stay despite the emotional hysteria of "advocates." I am willing to entertain the dissolution of the Predator Zone, trapping, poisoning, etc., but am not very optimistic given the all or nothing lunacy of "advocates" and inexcusable ken of vengeance frothing from anti government/ "outside" interference sentiments of the most extreme "wolf haters." As much as many environmental heroes despise compromise sometimes we have to to get even a fraction of what we want. The animosity nurtured by financial, rarely scientific, agendas on both sides has crippled the possibility of a more acceptable ultimate solution for all of us. I'm guessing a good start would be to stop the divisive emotion of name calling.

Peace,

John

Statistics: Posted by JohnnyB — Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:46 am


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