Wolf, © James Brandenburg / National Geographic Stock

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Keeping the Public Uninformed — Later today, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission is holding a “special” meeting to discuss significant changes to the state’s wolf management policies, including paying for unproven weight loss of cattle in wolf habitat areas.  While the announcement for the meeting claims that over 600 interested parties were given written notice of these rules, none of the conservation groups we work with received notice until after the comment deadline had passed.  This lack of notice has denied interested parties the opportunity to voice their concerns. Therefore, we are asking the commission to re-open the comment period and  postpone their vote.  For those Washington residents who would like to contact the WDFW commission or attend the hearing today or tomorrow, click here for more information.  For those who cannot attend but are still interested in the meeting, click here for live TV coverage.

Keeping elk in check –Montana researchers have been hard at work studying interactions between wolves and elk. While overall numbers of elk remain high across the region, select herds have shrunk as wolf packs have moved in, and in some cases, fewer calves are being born.  The latest study results from Scott Creel of Montana State University suggest that’s because wolves might actually have a double impact on elk survival. Wolves hunt elk, but they also keep elk on the move, which makes it less likely that females have calves. This relationship between predator and prey is what keeps both species in balance with the amount of food available. Read more in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

But fewer elk isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Montana is actually looking for ways to restrict elk herds near Yellowstone where ranchers are concerned with the spread of the disease brucellosis to cattle. Bison have been culled in recent years for the same reason, even though transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle has never been documented. Elk are far more abundant and have transmitted the disease to cattle on many occasions.

On the hunt — For those of us who don’t live near wolves, it’s easy to forget what life is like for them in wild. Luckily, our friends at Wolfwatcher are here to remind us. They took a group out recently to Yellowstone National Park and got to see the Canyon Pack in action, chasing down an elk. Watch below:

Idaho trapping begins –Wolves are being targeted aggressively now in three states. A total of at least 180 wolves have been killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming since the season began in August. Wolf trapping in Idaho also begins next week on Nov. 15.