Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Just a few thoughts on the recent developments centered around The Discovery Channel's Animal Planet, and their production of "Man Eating Super Wolves".

This production from Animal Planet was brought to my attention by a pro Wolf on Google+ , I had not heard about it.

He mentioned that it was a negative portrayal of wolves. After reading the promotion for it, I'd say that his take was accurate, but I would have gone beyond "negative" to describe it.
It was outrageous, and any pro wolf knew immediately that airing this would only serve to create increased and misguided hostility towards wolves, based on wolfmyths.

The next morning my friend and incredible Wolf advocate, Janet, sent me a message on Twitter with a phone number for Discovery Channel corporate headquarters, asking that we call and ask them to remove this production from the airwaves.

By that time, there were two petitions already in circulation, one from Defenders of Wildlife (which was supported by over 80,000 Defenders supporters ), and one from MoveOn. org.

There were numerous comments of outrage on Animal Planet's Facebook page, and plenty of tweeting directly ( and indirectly ) to Animal Planet's Twitter account.

So, to hear so shortly afterwards that the 4 scheduled air dates for the harmful wolf episode had been pulled was pretty much the best news I can remember hearing for our wolves in a very long time. 

This War on Wolves that is being waged between pro wolves, wolf hunters, and my U.S.Department of the Interior's USFWS is exhausting, heart wrenching, and can rip your faith in man kind to shreds.

I don't know what Secretary Sally Jewell and Director Dan Ashe are going to decide this summer about their proposal to either keep Gray Wolves listed as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, or to delist them, saying that they are recovered, and no longer endangered. 

Logic would dictate that the over one and a half million people around the world who left a comment to them during the almost year long, continually extended comment period should have some bearing, and that criticism leveled at the agency for using faulty science to propose the delisting in the first place would give reason for pause before removing our Gray Wolf protections.

Honestly, I just can not predict how this will play out.

That being said, here is what Animal Planet posted on their blog, after removing the damning wolf production. Thank you to Windswept23 for posting this for us.

Thank you Animal Planet, for exercising excellent judgement with your decision to remove "Man Eating Super Wolves" from scheduled airing.

Comments from me are italicized.

Reposted from Bites @ Animal Planet

Ten Reasons to Love Wolves
By: Beth Stewart

Recently, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted 5-0 to made advances in creating a stamp to honor wolf conservation. Find out more details here. In celebration of the fact that the topic of wolf conservation will soon be brought to a larger stage, here are ten reasons to love wolves - and why knowledge of their conservation is important.

1. Humans are not on their menu. Wolves have a natural fear of people and don’t typically pose a threat to us. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, only two human fatalities have been attributed to wolves in North America in the past 100-plus years. 
(In contrast, dogs kill an estimated 20-30 people each year.)  

Wolf trotting.crop.2414

2. Wolves are a lot like us. They live and hunt in extended family units where they develop strong social bonds. Mothers and fathers raise pups with the help of subordinate offspring from previous years. Aunts and uncles can often be found baby-sitting while the parents are out hunting dinner.

3. They strengthen the gene pool of their prey. Wolves typically hunt large hoofed mammals like elk, moose and deer. They kill weak, old, injured, sick or young animals leaving the strongest to survive.

4. Wolves are a classic American icon. Hundreds of thousands of them used to roam across North America. Today less than 5,500 wolves exist in the lower 48 states. For comparison, there are about 5,100 black rhinos left and they're considered critically endangered. Yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing taking the wolf off the Endangered Species List. 

 Wolf splash.crop.2449

5. We owe them. By the mid-1930s humans had hunted the wolf to near extinction. When the Endangered Species Act was created in 1973, wolves were finally protected, but today they still occupy only about 8 percent of their historic range.

6. Wolves are a keystone species. As the most important animal in their ecosystem, they maintain a healthy natural balance that all other plants and animals depend on. Just ask the rabbits, foxes, otters, badgers, trout, amphibians, insects, songbirds, hawks, bears and other creatures who benefit from this trophic cascade.

7. Wolves helped save America’s most famous national park. When they were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995, the effect they had on the damaged ecosystem was nothing short of miraculous. Check out this beautiful short video to see how wolves literally change the behavior of rivers. 

* This is a great video for everyone to see. It clearly explains to anyone at any age why we need our wolves on our planet. Please watch and share this.

8. Wolves are good for the economy. Tourists, wildlife paparazzi and scientists flock to Yellowstone with cameras, binoculars and spotting scopes just to catch a glimpse of these charismatic carnivores. It’s estimated that wolf-watching brings in $30 million annually to the towns around the park. 

Wolf.tight crop_2445

9. Without wolves we wouldn’t have Fido and Rover. The common ancestor of our beloved dogs and today’s wolves was a large, wolf-like animal that lived between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. 

10. Wolves connect us to our primal selves. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get from seeing wolves in the wild. The sight of apex predators roaming free unlocks some sort of visceral emotion in us. Maybe just knowing they’re out there makes it easier to believe there’s still room in our crowded world for the magic of the wild.

Photo Credits: Beth Stewart

Beth Stewart is an Associate Creative Director for Animal Planet. She spends most of her spare time volunteering with animals, photographing animals, advocating for animals and generally being wrapped around her two cats’ little paws.

Tags: Animal Rescue , Animals , Wildlife
Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
Thank you ANIMAL PLANET for doing the right thing. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and to the planet to do what's right, compassionate and caring for ALL forms of life!
Posted by: Kim | 05/30/2014 at 10:00 AM
 Michael Hodanish
Notice how Animal Planet has deleted all the negative comments?
Posted by: Michael Hodanish | 05/30/2014 at 01:12 AM
glad the Monster Wolf segment aired last week and millions were able to see the episode, before the wolfnuts harassed and threatened Animal Planet into removing it. A pathetic ploy to censor and suppress the truth about how wolves really are:bloodthirsty killers that kill humans and many many many animals. They destroy and wipe out wildlife.
Pretty sickening that a human life is considered of less value than the wolves' false reputation of being a cuddly fluffy creature. It's sad the men and women in the military fight for our freedom of speech and yet a handful of wolflovers that do not live near wolves or suffer because of them, can suppress that. SHAME on you. You can't hide the truth forever.
Posted by: wolvessuck | 05/30/2014 at 12:51 AM
 Chris Sanborn
I want to add my thanks to AP for responding to the outpouring of criticism about the so-called "man-eating" wolves and pulling the show from the schedule. And a nice touch to post these 10 reasons to love wolves -- now all that's needed is to air a similarly named show on TV to reach a wider audience and express publicly that AP erred in its original programming. Thanks again for doing the right thing!
Posted by: Chris Sanborn | 05/30/2014 at 12:48 AM
 Joyce Duda
Humans should be as dependable and family oriented as wolves!
Posted by: Joyce Duda | 05/30/2014 at 12:03 AM
 Joyce Duda
Humans should be as dependable as wolves!

Posted by: Joyce Duda | 05/30/2014 at 12:00 AM
Thank you Animal Planet for having a change of mind / heart and sharing this feature with your public. With your help, we can help raise & grow awareness of how important these amazing animals are and hopefully change the minds of those that hate them.
Posted by: Patricia | 05/29/2014 at 10:43 PM
 That One Wolf Furry and Wolf Therian~~~
Thank you so much, Animal Planet, for removing the false "documentary" of "Man-Eating Super Wolves." That show was far from telling the truth. Now THIS here is the TRUE TRUTH! I just absolutely LOVED how in the beginning, you correctly stated that humans aren't on the menu for wolves! As compared to Man-Eating Super Wolves, where you incorrectly portrayed wolves as man-eaters. I personally don't agree with any of your "Man-Eating" series, but wolves are keystone species, and it's really important that you don't spread anti-wolf propaganda nowadays---especially when it comes on international television. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! c:
Posted by: That One Wolf Furry and Wolf Therian~~~ | 05/29/2014 at 10:29 PM
Thank you, Animal Planet!!
Posted by: Kibby | 05/29/2014 at 10:03 PM
 Thomas Mullen
Thank you for removing the series, incorrectly portraying wolves as vicious beasts. I read, and appreciate your '10 Reasons to love Wolves.' Would you consider a program, expanding on the 'How Wolves Changed A River,' video? Thank you for your consideration. I have been, and will continue to be a fan of ANIMAL PLANET.
Posted by: Thomas Mullen | 05/29/2014 at 10:00 PM
 Alexandra Tait
I was horrified when I heard my beloved Animal Planet made a show about "monster wolves". That is the furthest from the truth. I got really angry and began to tell my friends on the net that you betrayed wildlife with that show which you obviously know is wrong. I cried tears of joy when I saw you post 10 reasons to love wolves. Now Animal Planet needs to air a show about the 10 reasons to love wolves to right this wrong. The Wolves are in so much danger from mis informed people. I am shocked that Animal Planet aired a show that further hurts a struggling American icon-The Wolf. I thought Animal Planet were the "Good Guys" on TV with quality programming. Are you really just another "sell out?" Please prove me wrong...
Posted by: Alexandra Tait | 05/29/2014 at 09:45 PM
 Sonia Bakhshi
Posted by: Sonia Bakhshi | 05/29/2014 at 09:10 PM
 C Miller
I am glad you removed the offensive wolf series from the TV viewers. You need to make a positive show on the comments you just posted and that will truly make a positive trend for your network.
Posted by: C Miller | 05/29/2014 at 08:48 PM
 Save The Wolves
Thanks for taking down the awful show. Wolves are just trying to survive no need to spread fear-mongering shows like this. How about making some new shows on how wolves should be loved and appreciated.
Posted by: Save The Wolves | 05/29/2014 at 08:22 PM
 Westley Tatman
Thank you for taking further airings of your Monster Week feature that including misleading stories about wolves. I just reviewed your "Ten Reasons to Love Wolves" and found it very helpful in informing the public about the truth of how wolves interact with man and with their environment. Job Well done. Thanks. I have always liked watching your channel and will continue to do so and inform others to watch also. Thanks so much.

Westley Tatman
Pennsylvania, USA
Defenders of Wildlife Member
Posted by: Westley Tatman | 05/29/2014 at 08:17 PM
 Clark Kent aka Suhail
Thank you Animal Planet for projecting the wolves in true light.
Humans should question ourselves. Why are we so much against wolves?
Wolves have given us dogs. Yet we are bent upon wiping them off the surface of the earth.
It is proven by experimental evidence, archaeology, and DNA studies that dogs (Canis Lupus Familiaris) are either a direct descendants of Gray Wolves (Canis Lupus) or, at least, dogs and wolves are direct descendants of a common ancestor that went extinct 18,000 to 12,000 years ago. They have many common traits indeed.
"There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of man-made evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf." - Neil Gaiman in Good Omens.
Posted by: Clark Kent aka Suhail | 05/29/2014 at 08:11 PM
 terrence moore
You have done the right thing pulling the balance of your "man eating wolf" segments!
May i suggest you do a show on the recenty deceased Farley Mowat and his life in conservation and who is most famous for debunking many of the "big bad wolf" myths some 40 years ago.
Posted by: terrence moore | 05/29/2014 at 08:09 PM
 Al LePage
Thank you for taking down the misrepresentation video about wolves from your website and not airing it anymore.
Also for posting on your website information that does accurately present wolves.
My only suggestion would be to now create and air a show not only about the information posted about why to love wolves, but also aimed at debunking the old myths about them, too.
Posted by: Al LePage | 05/29/2014 at 07:44 PM
 Leslie R.
I commend you for making the right decision to pull the remainder of this misleading and damaging series of re-airings, replacing them with actual facts about these majestic and iconic animals on your website. But the real proof of your dedication to the truth about wolves would indeed be a televised version of all the excellent points Ms. Stewart makes in her article. It could be a significant first step in once again re-inventing yourself, this time in favor of emphasizing the awesome beauty and inherent importance of each and every wild creature on this animal planet of ours.
Posted by: Leslie R. | 05/29/2014 at 07:32 PM
THANK YOU so much for removing the sensationalized programming on wolves, and replacing it with this segment honoring a magnificent and threatened species. Please continue the good work! Although harm has been done, Your network has the power to do much good...and you have taken a very positive step. Please consider a documentary on wolves that emphasize this article.
Posted by: BS | 05/29/2014 at 07:24 PM
While I understand the concept of ratings and such in television, I was truly disappointed that a network such as Discovery/Animal Planet would carry such a piece of tabloid journalism. Even during Discovery's highly rated "Shark Week" the programs that air are aimed at real education about a magnificent species rather than being about promoting fear and ignorance. I think you would have found that you would have gotten as many or more viewers had you produced an accurate and positive program about wolves. Aside from the propaganda, ignorance and hysteria encouraged by a small group of people like Idaho's buffoon of a governor, most people know that NO animal species is inherently bad and that each is a vital part of our world's balance. Please keep that in mind in the future. AP has so many fine programs, and it is a shame that one or two like this could destroy the network's reputation for quality, educational programming.
Posted by: Ravenwolf | 05/29/2014 at 07:24 PM
 Eddie Bonner
Thank you!
Posted by: Eddie Bonner | 05/29/2014 at 07:22 PM
This is a step in the right direction. Wolves are magnificent creatures.
Posted by: Patricia | 05/29/2014 at 06:31 PM
 Debbie Diana
Thank you for removing a program filled with lies. I used to enjoy watching your channel, but now,not so much. My opinion is that the only kind of programs should be how important every single creature on this planet is. Every creature has a role to play. Man is the only creature messing up the way thing are supposed to work. Remember that we all will have to answer for our abuse towards animals. That being said, only air programs that are educational and show compassion for the creatures we share this planet with. There will always be haters, but please do the right thing. Don't fuel the fire. Air shows we want to watch!
Posted by: Debbie Diana | 05/29/2014 at 06:29 PM
 David Forjan
To whom it may concern,
Like others have said, a lot of damage, again, has already been done. 
For hundreds of years these lies have been told. Wolves are the most persecuted animal in all of history, ever. And you played right into that, again. For money. And that's the cause of the plight of so many animals: greed. Oh yeah, and power too. Is there no honor anywhere in TV programming anymore?
By the way, that's why we've created the show, The Animal News Hour.
I used to love your channel.
David Forjan
Posted by: David Forjan | 05/29/2014 at 06:07 PM

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 29. 2014

Yo Wolves!
In place of a lurid and wildly misleading promo for Man-Eating Super Wolves, Animal Planet’s home page now features a piece called “Ten Reasons to Love Wolves.”

From Defenders of Wildlife

Thanks to the efforts of many, a revolting piece of anti-wolf propaganda is now off the air.

More than 80,000 Defenders supporters flooded Animal Planet with letters of outrage at their airing of “Man- Eating Super Wolves.” Posing as a “documentary” the piece makes false and damaging claims about the dangers wolves pose to humans.

At least four re-airings of the show have been pulled from the Animal Planet schedule. In place of a lurid and wildly misleading promo for Man-Eating Super Wolves, Animal Planet’s home page now features a piece called “Ten Reasons to Love Wolves.”

This would not have happened without the incredible support of the Defenders community and others who took the time on a holiday weekend to protest the show.

Thank you for all you do.


Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reposted from Exposing the Big Game
Thank you to Jim Robertson

WOLF UPDATE  5.26.2014

Latest Posted Idaho Wolf Hunt Kill total (current season): 188

Latest Posted Idaho Wolf Trapping Kill total: 104

Latest Posted Montana Wolf Hunt Kill Total (current season): 144

Latest Posted Montana Wolf Trapping Kill total: 86

Wyoming Wolf Kill Total (2014):

Regional Total Reported Killed Since Delisting: 1744

Wolves: The hopes and dangers ahead 
(Crosscut: May 12)

Gray wolf: Endangered-list decision looms as lawmakers debate 
(Oregon Live May 12)

Endangered wolves need our protection 
(Portland Tribune May 15)

World premiere of Oregon wolf documentary to be a howling success 
(Portland Tribune May 15)

Worries about wolves 
(Herald and News May 20)

Cooke presents study linking exposure to wolf attacks with chronic stress symptoms in cows 
(Burns Times and Herald May 21)

Growing Wolf Population Worries Ranchers 
(KTVL May 15)

Oregon Hunters Compete With Wolves For Game 
(KTVL May 13)

Western Wolves a Growing Population 
(KTVL May 12)

Wolf conference features several local, national speakers (White Mountain Independent May 24)

Author Farley Mowat, Who Wrote ‘Never Cry Wolf,’ Dies At 92 
(Wyoming Public Media MAY 8)

Protect the Endangered Species Act [Editorial] 
(Scientific American March 18)

Environmental Prize Winner Looks to Wolves to Understand Humans 
(Voice of American May 8)

Family room: Wolves need enemy-free space to raise offspring say ecologists
( May 13)

Wolf Survival Places a Premium on Space 
(Discovery News May 13)

I don’t want to be right 
(New Yorker May 19)

Wolves Have Razor Sharp Teeth and Hear Your Beating Heart 
(Psychology Today May 22)

A Pack Of Wolves Approached This Woman, And What Happened Next Shocked Me!! 
(May 17) away/#dOf7TvkD5mawfc2M.99

New wolf quotas rile crowd 
(Jackson Hole News & Guide May 9)

Wyoming warns public away from wolf traps 
(The Prairie Star May 13)

G&F aims low for wolves 
(Jackson Hole News & Guide May 14)

Northern Yellowstone Wolves Compete for Territory; Study Finds 
(Nature Wolf News May 13)

Game and Fish begins gray wolf trapping 
(Wyoming Star Tribune May 15)

Wolf lovers meet with Otter at Idaho Capitol protest 
(Idaho Statesman May 19)

In brief: Wyoming to trap, monitor wolves 
(The Spokesman Review May 18)

Wyoming wildlife officials begin trapping wolves 
(Independent Record May 17)

Montana advances 100-wolf quota for landowners 
(SF Gate May 22)

Montana FWP approves killing of 100 wolves per year by landowners 
(The Missoulian May 22)

Montana Announces Wolf Conservation Stamp! 
(NRDC Blog May 21)

Officials: Wolf kills border collie herding sheep 
(Seattle PI May 20)

Idaho’s Bizarre Gubernatorial Debate 
(The Colbert Report May 21)

Wisconsin wolf population still well over goal 
(WEAU April 29)

Wis. wolf population falls following hunting season 
(Badger Herald May 1)

No jail for wolf figure, almost $1,900 in fines ordered against farmer accused of leaving cattle vulnerable 
(Michigan Live May 9)

State: No Mexican gray wolves for Flagstaff area 
(AZ Daily Sun May 11)

Wolves: The hopes and dangers ahead 
( May 8)

DNA tests: Wolf shot in Buchanan County in February 
(WCF Courier May 8)

A tale of wolves, moose and missing ice 
(Science News May 13)

Political flier suggests Barrett soft on “Canadian wolves” 
(Idaho Statesman May 14)

Wolves Roam to New States, Tragedy for One 
(Nature World News May 15)

US judge blocks coyote hunting near NC red wolves 
(Washington Times May 15)

Protesters oppose state wolf policy 
(Fox 9 May 19)

Game and Fish should wait for full wolf EIS 
(AZ Daily Sun May 15)

A needed ceasefire spares NC’s red wolves 
(News & Observer May 15)

Monday, May 26, 2014

RePosted from for Biodiversity's Sake. 
A GREAT blog. 
Please follow Rubén Portas @RubenPortasP


Posted on May 25, 2014 by Rubenature
by Alex Robinson

Any hunter who’s spent time in wolf country can attest to the predators’ influence. We see wolf tracks, find old kills, and often times we spot fewer game animals. But exactly how wolves affect big-game populations is still greatly unknown. Yeah, wolves eat elk. But, do they kill mostly adults or calves? Do they eat enough elk to wipe out a whole herd? Do they pressure elk into hiding in the timber or force them off their feeding patterns? Are wolves even one of the main factors in elk population dynamics?

New research from the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming
is starting to shed light on some of these questions. After three years of studying the Clark’s Fork elk herd (about 5,000 animals) in northwest Wyoming, lead researcher Arthur Middleton found that wolves might not be as detrimental to elk populations as many outdoorsmen think.

His research shows that the Clark’s Fork herd’s fate is based on a complex set of variables including habitat, weather, hunting, bears, and wolves.

“There’s a pretty popular notion that elk are always responding to wolves. And that’s a fairly logical perception because wolves are always hunting elk … But wolves hunt an elk population. That [hunting pressure] doesn’t always affect individual animals.”

Photo: Elk traveling across their winter range in Yellowstone National Park, USGS

The Study
Middleton and a coalition of biologists GPS collared wolves and elk west of Cody, Wyoming in and around Yellowstone National park. In a study area of about 1 million acres, they monitored interactions between predator and prey. Over three years they observed the animals in January, February, and March – when wolves typically put the most stress on elk. The study was funded by a variety of organizations and agencies including Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone & Crockett Club, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Safari Club International.

The researchers set out to test the theory that wolves were responsible for decreasing elk populations in ways besides direct predation. In other words, they wanted to find out if pressure from wolves was running elk out of their regular feeding patterns and keeping cows from putting on enough body fat to rear calves in the spring.

The research started at a critical time for the Clark’s Fork herd. Calf-to-cow ratios in the migratory herd started dropping in the mid-90s, about the same time wolves were introduced. Those ratios have remained low since 2002 and overall elk numbers decreased. Middleton found about 15 calves to 100 elk in the migratory Clark’s Fork herd. In the resident herd, the ratio was about 35 calves per 100 elk.

Hunters and wildlife managers were alarmed by the drop in elk numbers. Doug McWhiter, a Wyoming Fish and Game biologist who manages the area, said elk numbers are stable now, but hunting opportunities had to be cut. Cow tags were reduced and hunting units in the area were switched from general over-the-counter licenses to limited quota in 2010. Hunter opportunity was reduced by 50 to 75 percent, says McWhiter who helped with Middleton’s research.

“We can maintain these elk numbers but we had to severely limit hunting opportunity to do that,” he says. “That in itself is difficult for people to understand.”

Photo: The Agate wolf pack in a stand-off with a bull in Yellowstone, NPS

The Findings
Middleton and his crew found that a new wolf pack does not mean certain doom for an elk herd. In fact, elk have adapted to living with wolves.

“From my time in the field, I can say that most days in the life of a cow elk are pretty boring,” Middleton says. On average, elk encountered wolves once every 9 days. The highest wolf-encounter rate for any individual elk was once every four days. And, even though elk were encountering wolves, they weren’t overly stressed or run to starvation.

“We didn’t see any reduction in rate of feeding and we didn’t see them shift into timber. Those two behaviors were said to be [metabolically] costly, but we just didn’t see [the elk reacting that way,]” Middleton says.

Elk did move slightly more when wolves were within 1 kilometer, but not by much – they only traveled an extra 30 meters per hour when wolves were in the area.
The researchers also found that the number of wolf encounters had no impact on the amount of elk body fat. Body fat is a critical measurement for cows’ ability to rear calves.
So if the wolf-hunting-pressure theory was busted, what was happening to the Clark Fork’s herd?

Middleton says it comes down to habitat. The area has suffered a 20-year decline in habitat across the herd’s summer range. If an elk can’t put on enough body fat in the summer and fall, then it will struggle through the winter, regardless of predators, Middleton says.

“We looked at a suite of factors that could explain late-winter body fat and the only thing that did explain it was autumn body fat. In other words, whatever they get over the summer determines where they end up in winter,” he says.

Of course, wolf predation does affect overall elk numbers, but in a separate study Middleton found that wolves weren’t even the top calf predators. He found that bears typically take out more elk calves than wolves do. During a June monitoring period grizzlies killed an elk calf every two to four days and black bears killed a calf every four to eight days.

Photo: Wolf on an elk kill in Yellowstone, PLOS Biology.

Backcountry Observations
Collecting data that shows an elk herd can thrive in wolf country and then getting people to actually believe that data are two different challenges. Hunters and outfitters who have spent their lives in the backcountry – before and after the wolf reintroduction – have already made plenty of their own observations.

Tim Doud, owner of Bliss Creek Outfitters out of Cody, 
says the elk decline goes hand-in-hand with the wolf reintroduction. Clear and simple.

“The elk population numbers have certainty decreased and it is because of the wolves. That’s the only reason in my eyes,” he says. “Now I’m not anti-wolf. I don’t think they should be wiped out or anything like that. But we do need to hunt more of them. Most people don’t see what I see. They don’t see the horrific, suffering death of an elk whose hindquarters have been chewed away and can only lay there and die slowly. That’s a real shame. Most people … go to Yellowstone to see the pretty dogs.”

Ron Lineberger owns Butte Creek Outfitters
with his wife Theresa and guides elk hunters in the Wyoming backcountry. Over the years he’s seen elk behavior change, and in many ways his observations match Middleton’s research.

“Elk behavior has totally changed, but the elk are not gone. Everyone loves to blame the wolf because it’s easy … [Wolves] did change the dynamic for the environment and they’ve changed the way a lot of animals have evolved. It has led to a bit of catastrophic natural adaptation…

“There has been a succession of fires, which destroyed natural elk habitat. Grizzly bear numbers have gone up and the elk have moved to survive. They have moved to more agricultural and human habitat areas. It’s not just the wolf that’s caused the change. People just look to put the blame on one thing. Yes, elk have moved to areas that haven’t seen elk for 200 years. But there are large portions of healthy elk populations that have moved to private land, which makes them unhuntable … Think of it this way: the elk are picking their poison. Either deal with hunters in the low country for 6 weeks, or stay in the high country and deal with wolves and bears year round.”

The takeaway? Adapting to environmental changes is key to the success of a species, and an elk hunter.

“The hunter has to adapt as well,” Lineberger says. “Hunting elk also relies on a lot of factors that we have no control over. The fact that they have become more alert thanks to the wolves, certainly makes it tougher, but hunters must adapt to that. We are no different than any other animal. We must adapt to survive.”