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Do you think that the long term ecological damage caused by exterminating predators or holding them well below their natural pop

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  • Do you think that the long term ecological damage caused by exterminating predators or holding them well below their natural pop

    Do you think that the long term ecological damage caused by exterminating predators or holding them well below their natural population size is justified by the marginal increase in the "safety" of the outdoors? are the outdoors even supposed to be "safe"?

  • #2
    I think that for about a century the small packs of gray wolves that existed in the Northern Rockies did nothing but improve the ecology as well as the enhance the survival of the herds of various big game animals. This is totally divergent from the situation we witness today in that the big game herds are daily being harrassed by these alien killers who know no season. If you participated in similiar activity you would soon serve time in prison. Ken I appreciate your previously stated opposite opinion on this matter but still stand by mine. Another suggestion I would like to throw out is to ask each of you to examine the original habitat of the grizzly bear prior to 1900. I suggest that we all pull togather to see that these magnificent animals are reintroduced back into their entire ecological community of yesteryear to lend balance to those neglected portions of our country. Its too bad that things might become unsafe in western Kansas and Nebraska, the Dakotas, Denver, Sante Fe, Sacramento, Redding, and many other locales. We must put those bears back where they belong. Since there is a shortage of bears in the Rockies, I only see 20 or 30 grizzleys a year, we need to import more from Canada and Alaska to occupy the cities and countryside. How else will we reestablish the grizzly's original and rightful place in America? If it works for wolves then it should be mandatory for grizzly bears. Call your congressmen for support and send in your money to help the bears return to the land of their forefathers. The outdoors is not always safe, that's part of what makes it so appealing. God bless the wilderness and keep it wild.


    • #3
      People go backpacking in Denali State Park Alaska with very little problems unarmed.

      There is a serious difference of “WILD” animals in isolated and semiisolated areas compared to “WILD” animals around humans!

      Go figure!


      • #4
        I can see holding them below natural levels through hunting in areas adjacent to towns and ranches for safety sake. I don't think it is a practice that is in place for safety reasons in the wild areas, say 5+ miles from private ground. In some areas such as here in Idaho, game managers attempt to reduce predator #'s to increase Elk survival rates, as many of the places elk now habitat offer little chance of escape for new born calves and calving cows from bears, cougars etc... I think as long as predator #'s are kept at healthy levels for breeding etc... like we currently have, then I don't see any problems. Where we live we often have problem cats, bears, and now wolves that venture into town that I believe have to be dealt with for safety reasons, no one wants lions in the bushes of their yards. The main reason we get predators in town is do to easy prey from the large amount of deer, pets, livestock, etc.. and also do to healthy populations of predators on public ground forcing often young predators to seek out new territory. I could see needing predators close to town if for instance they were an endangered species and humans recently encroached into the area, but to allow non-endangered species to populate areas close in and around towns and homes is unsafe and unwise.

        Where we often disagree Ken is when it comes to lowering predator #'s to increase sportsman's opportunities. I am of the belief that as long as you are not damaging their long term survival, and maintain a healthy # for reproduction, then I am for having lower #'s of predators if we gain larger Elk and Deer herds creating better hunter opportunities. Hunting provides $$ for local communities that have had their economies crushed during the last 30 years from the reduction in logging and mill jobs. I wish we could just leave mother nature to run her course, but unfortunately man has been a part of the natural cycle for 1000's of years, and I like the fact that through the hard work and $'s spent by sportsman Idaho has more wild game and sportsman's opportunities today than it did when Lewis and Clark ventured through 200 years ago.


        • #5
          I believe that it goes without saying that my grizzly rant was nothing more than an effort at being facetious. In reality idahooutdoors presents a very logical picture of predator control and sometimes the lack thereof in the west. Oddly enough we see the elk moving back onto the flat and low meadows in an effort to calve. This type of ground offers them a bit more of a safety zone although the wolves definately locate them as I can personally attest from watching numerous encounters. Unfortunately several formerly primo elk areas in NW Wyoming are not being considered for a decrease from 250 total tags to 100. Additionally there is a proposal that archery hunters will only be able to hunt with their equipment during designated seasons. The reason for the alterations in these areas is due to the low numbers of calves born each recent spring as well as survival rate due to wolf depredation and the stress imposed by the pack on the herd. Before the early nineties this was not a problem. The overall picture is gloomy for the big game, the hunter, and the local economy. The wolf is just being a wolf. Proper management, not eradication, is the only answer that I can envision and it is not presently in place.


          • #6
            Why shouldn't we allow grizzlies to re-occupy their original range? I'm for it.


            • #7
              Idahooutdoors and isawooa-

              Do you agree with the following statement?

              Holding predator populations below their natural levels causes prey populations to rise above their natural levels. The prey then overgraze, taking food and habitat from other species and lowering the ecosystem's biodiversity.

              If you're interested I can cite a few papers on the subject that have been published in peer refereed academic journals.


              • #8
                Think Kaibab!


                • #9
                  What is their natural level?


                  • #10
                    their natural level is the level they would be at if we were not mucking things up.

                    For predators, this number is mostly determined by the relationship to their prey species.


                    • #11
                      To be brief, and unscientific, the outdoors needn't be safe, but predators in your neighborhoods and subdivisions may need a dose of "regulation". I know they were there first and they are an important part of the ecosystem. I agree, but we're in charge, and we're rational, they aren't.


                      • #12
                        A friend of mine had an 8 foot alligator consistently hanging around the end of his dock where his dogs and children swim. Not the alligator's fault, mind you, but my friend "regulated" him right into a pot of gumbo, and I'd have done the same. (The gumbo was delicious!) No, I'm not for decimating predator species, but problem animals must be removed. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is threatened over much of its range, and if one turned up in my back yard, I'd relocate it. On the other hand, I wouldn't blame someone who is not comfortable with "old no-shoulders" for shooting one in the same situation.


                        • #13
                          Ken I have spent most of my professional career writing and reading various peer reviewed journals albeit not related to wildlife management. In fact your findings might be indeed very interesting if you care to share them. Just to keep things simple and practical without involving a great deal of your time spent on researching these articles I would like to hear your opinion concerning the hundred years or so following the systematic and purposeful process to totally eliminate the gray wolf from the western United States. This same time span demonstrated a tremendous growth in numbers of all known herds of big game. Never did they reach the point beyond what the forests and plains could support as far as I can determine. Obviously the smaller species are wanting for records so unfortunately cannot be considered one way or the other. Certainly conservation was improved during this period, game and fish regulations developed and enforced, as well as other efforts to assist the survival of the varied wildlife of the region. What is your take on how a well documented decline in the Northern Rockies wolf population correlates with the growth and health of say the North Lamar Valley elk herd versus the opposite affect less than two decades after the alledged re-introduction of the wolf? I have never totally understood this situation and feel perhaps you might offer some clarity.
                          Shane my friend I intend no offense but sincerely hope that your last statement was meant to be as facetious as my grizzly rant.


                          • #14
                            There are a couple of issues up in the air here, So I'll cover them one at a time.

                            Problem individuals->

                            Though I may not have made it clear, When I posted the question I was not referring to "problem individuals" like Armchair outfitter and Idahooutdoors mentioned.

                            I don't think any rational person would object to dealing with an 8' alligator in your kid's swimming hole or a mountain lion that is stalking in the bushes on the edge of the playground. (Perhaps "wilderness" would have been a better word than "outdoors" in my original question)

                            I was referring to state or region-wide coordinated efforts to hold the population of a predator species well below their natural level.


                            • #15
                              Academic Papers ->

                              IEEE citation:
                              R. L. Beschta. “Cottonwoods, Elk, Wolves in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park”, Ecological Applications, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 1295-1309, Oct. 2003.

                              This was a rather interesting study. They realized that by taking core samples of trees, you count the number rings, subtract that from the current year, and determine the year the tree sprouted.

                              They then realized that they could take this data on many trees, and then plot the number of trees that grew to maturity each year as a function of time.

                              When they did this the plot was very dramatic. There was a large number of trees surviving from the years before the wolves were exterminated. Almost none from the years where the wolves were gone, and then an up shoot in the number of trees surviving since the wolves had been reintroduced.

                              They concluded that trees are essentially immune to elk grazing once they grow tall enough that the majority of their leaves are above the elk's reach. Before a tree grows to that height, it is highly vulnerable and a herd of elk can easily kill it by overgrazing.

                              During the pre-wolf-extinction period, elk were held to low enough levels that a significant number of saplings were able to grow above that critical height and become "immune" to the elk. During the no-wolf years, elk overgrazing was rampant and almost all of saplings were killed before they could reach that critical height. Now that wolves are back, the overgrazing is being limited and trees are once again able to grow to that critical height.

                              The author also spends a lot of time talking about how this effects many species other than Wolves, elk, and trees. There are many other species that depend on the trees; birds, small mammals, etc.. that were undoubtedly harmed by the lack of new growth. Unfortunately, there is no way to historically track their populations like you can with trees.

                              **end article summary***
                              **begin my opinion**

                              Now, the easiest criticism of this study is that it took place in Yellowstone, where there are no hunters. I concede, that in places where there are hunters the effect would be less dramatic. However, the effect here was extremely dramatic, so less dramatic than that is still pretty dramatic.

                              Also, the park service did do some large elk cullings during the time when the wolves were gone and the lamar valley is near the eastern edge of the park so it is not inconceivable that the elk heard could have been under some hunting pressure when it ventured outside of the park.

                              Finally, both you and Idahooutdoors have admitted that the elk population grew significantly larger when wolves were exterminated. So surely, this phenomenon has happened everywhere, though to a lessened severity.




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