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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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  • ishawooa
    replied
    Ken we all hold dear our own thoughts, analyzations, and believe our way is righteous. I don't care to refute each of your statements as the two of us will continue to dance in circles forever, each unyielding and attempting to one up the other. I find your rhetoric somewhat informative plus quite amusing in your defensive efforts to twist clearly stated factual situations to fit your favored scenarios. Still very interesting narrative and for that I thank you once again.
    Shane hunters were in the forefront of shutting down the poachers in YNP. I believe Ben Harrison was the main fellow in the position at the time to stop the horrid photos of a groups of smiling guys from back EAST standing in from of dozens of dead animals in the Park. Sometimes those 400 bulls do walk out of the Park but as I have said before one must be sure of his shot. If a wounded bull takes one step past the imaginary boundary he is off limits for you to retrieve. These lines are patroled by, if you can believe it, C-130s armed with high tech cameras and various equipment. Arrests are made by SWAT like teams who arrive into the back country in helicopters. The feds take this issue very seriously much to the delight of local hunters. We don't approve of poaching in or around Wyoming by man or beast.

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  • shane
    replied
    Maybe they'll make you a deal, if the wolves get to leave the park, you get to go in and hunt there. Wouldn't that be a trip? I think that would pretty much guarantee your mega trophy. There are some serious MONSTERS living in that park. I saw a dumb photographer almost get his face stomped by a pair of likely 400 class bulls just lounging together, still in velvet.

    Leave a comment:


  • ken.mcloud
    replied
    ishawooa-

    "within the confines of YNP live eight distinct elk herds which have little or no interaction"..."Thus the disease process certainly is not directly related to population density"

    The key word here is "little", certainly individuals do occasionally move between herds, otherwise you would have isolated, inbred herds that looked nothing like each other. Also, it would seem rather rational to say that as population density goes up, so does the amount of interaction among herds.

    I'll admit to not knowing much about elk breeding behavior, but if they are like other deer species, then young males leave their mother's herds and seek out other herds on a fairly regular basis.

    This does not invalidate any of my points, it simply means that the process would happen more slowly among elk than among species where herds commonly intermingle. Since we're talking about decades and even centuries here, whats a few years among friends?

    Though, the disease thing was really a side point, my main thrust of my argument was the genetics.

    "Insofar as the predation of elk calves please note that the grizzly bear is also at the top of the list."

    This is really beside the point, you want to hold down wolf populations for the express purpose of increasing the calf survival rate. That information alone is enough to say that my point holds. Again, other predators will slow the process, but the trend as a whole holds.

    "this strong new born elk calf, no matter how well its genes have chosen to design its physique and mental capabilities, simply cannot out run the bears and then the wolves"

    firstly- even if that were true, wouldn't the slow calves be more likely to be eaten than the fast ones? Predators take the easiest meal. This would mean that fast calves are more likely to survive than the slow ones, that alone would be enough to cause the effects I am talking about.

    Secondly- I disagree! I know it is a different species, but there is a great piece of footage in the discovery channel's "planet earth" series of a caribou calf outrunning a wolf... Which I'll bet are faster than bears.

    "The low calf recruitment does not produce a stronger herd"

    How can you say this in light of my arguments above? You have pointed out the these processes occur more slowly in elk then in some other species, but you have not disproven the concept of natural selection!
    (if you did, you have a nobel prize in your future)

    "simply one that is constantly decreasing in size"

    This is also simply not true, the herd will only decrease in size until an equilibrium is reached. This can be easily illustrated. Look at all the ecosystems where predators and prey interact without human intervention. Do the prey populations constantly decrease? no! they oscillate about an average value and they predator populations oscillate with them.

    What you are seeing now is the elk population decreasing from an artificially inflated size, to one more in line with its natural size. Once it reaches that natural size it will level off and oscillate
    around that level.

    Think of it this way, if you compress a spring and then let go, the spring will start growing longer. does this mean that the spring will grow longer forever? No! it will grow until it reaches its natural length, and then oscillate around that length for a while before coming to a rest.

    Engineers call it an under-damped step response.


    Leave a comment:


  • ken.mcloud
    replied
    ishawooa-

    "within the confines of YNP live eight distinct elk herds which have little or no interaction"..."Thus the disease process certainly is not directly related to population density"

    The key word here is "little", certainly individuals do occasionally move between herds, otherwise you would have isolated, inbred herds that looked nothing like each other. Also, it would seem rather rational to say that as population density goes up, so does the amount of interaction among herds.

    I'll admit to not knowing much about elk breeding behavior, but if they are like other deer species, then young males leave their mother's herds and seek out other herds on a fairly regular basis.

    This does not invalidate any of my points, it simply means that the process would happen more slowly among elk than among species where herds commonly intermingle. Since we're talking about decades and even centuries here, whats a few years among friends?

    Though, the disease thing was really a side point, my main thrust of my argument was the genetics.

    "Insofar as the predation of elk calves please note that the grizzly bear is also at the top of the list."

    This is really beside the point, you want to hold down wolf populations for the express purpose of increasing the calf survival rate. That information alone is enough to say that my point holds. Again, other predators will slow the process, but the trend as a whole holds.

    "this strong new born elk calf, no matter how well its genes have chosen to design its physique and mental capabilities, simply cannot out run the bears and then the wolves"

    firstly- even if that were true, wouldn't the slow calves be more likely to be eaten than the fast ones? Predators take the easiest meal. This would mean that fast calves are more likely to survive than the slow ones, that alone would be enough to cause the effects I am talking about.

    Secondly- I disagree! I know it is a different species, but there is a great piece of footage in the discovery channel's "planet earth" series of a caribou calf outrunning a wolf... Which I'll bet are faster than bears.

    "The low calf recruitment does not produce a stronger herd"

    How can you say this in light of my arguments above? You have pointed out the these processes occur more slowly in elk then in some other species, but you have not disproven the concept of natural selection!
    (if you did, you have a nobel prize in your future)

    "simply one that is constantly decreasing in size"

    This is also simply not true, the herd will only decrease in size until an equilibrium is reached. This can be easily illustrated. Look at all the ecosystems where predators and prey interact without human intervention. Do the prey populations constantly decrease? no! they oscillate about an average value and they predator populations oscillate with them.

    What you are seeing now is the elk population decreasing from an artificially inflated size, to one more in line with its natural size. Once it reaches that natural size it will level off and oscillate
    around that level.

    Think of it this way, if you compress a spring and then let go, the spring will start growing longer. does this mean that the spring will grow longer forever? No! it will grow until it reaches its natural length, and then oscillate around that length for a while before coming to a rest.

    Engineers call it an under-damped step response.


    Leave a comment:


  • ishawooa
    replied
    Ken I throughly enjoyed your interpretation of the genetics as relating to wildlife. Obviously these statements are in their simplest and most narrow versions. Nevertheless there is a considerable degree of reality in what you state. Have you considered that within the confines of YNP live eight distinct elk herds which have little or no interaction? Outside its borders exist numerous other herds. Thus the disease process certainly is not directly related to population density except for a particular group. Big country, wide open spaces, elk strangers not neighbors as in the big cities filled with humans. One observation from an individual whom I consider to be somewhat of a wildlife authority does believe that the genetic impact might be a clue to the various diseases which sometimes attack one herd and bypass another including brucellosis. Insofar as the predation of elk calves please note that the grizzly bear is also at the top of the list. Attempt to understand that this strong new born elk calf, no matter how well its genes have chosen to design its physique and mental capabilities, simply cannot out run the bears and then the wolves plus endure unseasonable weather disturbances. Frankly I often marvel that we have any elk at all given the difficulties they endure from birth to death. The low calf recruitment does not produce a stronger herd simply one that is constantly decreasing in size. Again that was the original plan of the wolf advocates and it is successful as many of us predicted.

    Leave a comment:


  • ken.mcloud
    replied
    about your CWD and tuberculosis question-

    To my understanding, these diseases represent a slightly different consequence of predator-less environments.

    These diseases are equally as deadly with or without predators present, the catch is how they spread.

    When too many calves/fawns are surviving, the number of individuals per square mile (population density) goes up, this is common sense. With a higher population density, these diseases more easily spread from individual to individual and from herd to herd. Thus, making the disease more prevalent.

    So, here is another example of how higher calf survival rates might be good for the hunter, but they are bad for the herd.

    ...and really what is bad for the herd is ultimately bad for the hunter over a long term view.

    Leave a comment:


  • ken.mcloud
    replied
    ishawooa-

    By "genetic health of the herd" I essentially mean the process of natural selection. This is a concept that even the most staunch creationists accept, because the it only requires you to make one assumption: traits are passed from parents to their offspring, the rest is just logic.

    Natural selection is the idea that individuals with poor genetic traits will die before having many or any young, and that individuals with advantageous genetic traits will survive, and have many young. It is easy to see how this process, over the generations produces a more healthy population by weeding out all of the bad genes.

    The twist that gets thrown in by all scientists and most creationists is mutation. This is essentially the random(... not really random) changing of a gene or two, a similar process happens when a mother's and a father's gene interact in a new way. This is essentially what keeps the population from converging to a single, perfect genetic blueprint.

    Also, if the pressure on a population is too small, the lack of "selective pressure" could allow some not-so-great mutations to spread, instead of just dieing off.

    Now, by ending or limiting predation, we are not ending natural selection, we are just reducing the selective pressure (by your own admission, just look at those survival rates you quoted) and we are also changing the rules defining which genes are advantageous.

    For example, most hoofed herbivores (ungulates, if you like) are able to run very quickly, very soon after they are born (almost always less than a day). Compare this to humans, where we can't run at full speed until we are teenagers. It is fairly obvious why this trait developed, the calves that couldn't run right after birth were eaten, they did not pass on the "no-running" gene. The ones that could run right after birth survived and passed on the "running" gene to their offspring". After this cycle continued for many generations, the entire population had this trait.

    Now, if we replace the majority of predation pressure with hunting pressure that picture changes. Lets say a gene popped up that caused a muscular problem where the calves couldn't run. Normally this gene would be weeded out of the population almost immediately. However, hunters don't kill calves, and even if they did, it wouldn't really matter how fast they could run, 90%+ of our shots are taken while the animal is standing still. You could easily see how this gene could spread through the population unchecked.

    This could take many generations(decades? centuries?), since the gene has no clear advantage. However, if individuals with the gene have similar survival rates to those without the gene, that gene will spread.

    Well, so what if the calves have a muscle problem and can't run anymore?
    -> what if that muscle problem causes them to suffer their whole life?
    -> What if it taints the meat?
    -> What if we all kill ourselves in WWIII and then the predators come back?
    -> What if that gene caused them to need more calories so they started massively overgrazing?
    ... I could keep going

    And sure, we could come up with a solutions to any one problem. "cull the calves with the muscle problem" for instance. But that really isn't the point. There are an almost infinite amount mutations and gene interactions that could occur. It would be impossible for us to "manage" all of them. The system is just waaaay too complicated, and too uncertain for us control.

    Leave a comment:


  • ishawooa
    replied
    Shane you make some good points as well as observations. Yep I know guys who can barely tell an elk from a whitetail who have a wall of 350-400 class bulls. I have moaned about this previously. In fact back in '05 I barely missed seeing a guy kill a 397 bull. The fellow was drunk but still managed to somehow shoot the bull dropping him with one shot from his .300 mag. He had no business hunting in his alcohol induced condition but he did and now he too is a "great hunter". Oddly enough we heard that his brother killed a 350 a couple days later. Probably both drinking at that time also but I am only speculating.
    Insofar as calf loss versus trophy bulls, todays calves are tomorrow's trophies if they live that long. They are simply not making it due to the daily slaughter they must endure as a result of too many wolves. Remember that the original intent was to re-introduce the gray wolf into YNP. Although we hunters must observe the occasional markers placed along the boundary the wolves come and go at will just as we knew they would. I live about 60 miles from YNP and have seen them in the road in front of my house complete with collar. Sure makes me concerned about the local kids. Unlike you I feel that a great ecological mistake has been made by the re-introduction when the native wolves were already here. Unless proper management is put in place we will see the Yellowstone ecosystem more out of balance than it has ever been. It might be too late now. Decrease the big game herds to minimum levels and you eliminate the hunters, that is the original purpose.

    Leave a comment:


  • shane
    replied
    That is unfortunate. I would contest that the elk will be OK over time, even if the normal 25 permits went out.

    I do concede that limited wolf management in specific areas like the one you mention is warranted, because this "new" wolf thing is still a work in progress and has yet to find the natural balance. It takes quite some time. But I still contend that "managing" wolves down to minimal numbers, just enough to stay viable, is foolish, unnecessary, and reeking of anthropic bias. If left alone, the wolves will manage themselves over time. Barely a generation of wolves has passed since the reintroduction. Now things might seem a little hairy, but I think all will be well for everybody a few decades from now.

    Leave a comment:


  • shane
    replied
    OH gotcha.

    The thing I don't get about your view is that although wolves will reduce elk populations, they don't decrease the quality of the herd. As a trophy hunter, I would think you would be OK with this. Wolves will very rarely try to drag down that big bruiser bull, they go for the lesser specimens. They weed out the wimps and leave the beasts to do the breeding. They do kill calves before we find out if they will be trophy bulls or not, so there's that opposing factor, but overall, their effect on the herd's quality and "big bull ratio" is at least neutral, if not positive. So maybe this is your ticket to that big book bull?

    One thing I think we can relate on is the not much for book trophies but satisfaction with personal goals. I consider myself a trophy hunter too, at least in that I won't shoot anything that I don't consider to be a "big one". Are you just a little tiny bit bitter like I am? I feel like I know or have met a lot of hunters that seem pretty limited in knowledge, skill, and ability, yet some of them have a monster on the wall. I think it's a pretty safe bet that you are a better elk hunter than many of the guys with bulls high in the books, but they have you "beat". But such is hunting, eh? Soon enough things will be fair and we will get all the monsters and those other guys will stop getting so lucky.

    This proves the point (to me, at least) that the trophy books and all that are pretty much an exercise in futility. There is no way to "score" a hunter. I'm sure many world records have been taken by newbies.

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  • ishawooa
    replied
    Shane I forgot to mention that on May 20 the Wyoming Game and Fish intends to hold a public meeting in Cody. This generally means that everyone can complain about a change which is forthcoming and will take place regardless of public sentiment. In this case the content of the meeting will declare that the elk hunt areas nearby in Sunlight Basin and Crandall will most likely have the limited quota tags reduced from 250 licenses to 100. Archery hunters will be required to hunt only a a special season and not to continue throughout the general. The sole reason for this necessary decrease in available hunting permits is lack of calf recruitment due to wolf depredation. Check out the Wyoming Game and Fish web site for more details if you are interested.

    Leave a comment:


  • ishawooa
    replied
    Shane I apologize in that I was refering to the fact that there is no species to prey on the wolf. In my haste I apparently overlooked your argument as being the reverse concerning prey. Insofar as the decreased elk herd census, numbers are readily available although usually a bit skewed by both sides. Bear in mind that even the wolf advocates concede this point so we both are basically wasting our words. From a personal standpoint I have observed and counted as many as 40% calves in a given herd during the eighties and early nineties. After re-introduction of the wolves this percentage steadily decreased. Presently we are about 7 to 10%. I freely admit that I had rather kill a trophy bull than watch a wolf accomplish the same role. I have never killed a calf as I tend to think of myself as a trophy hunter but in reality I have never placed any animal that scored well into any book. The book does not matter to me so much as my personal goals. A hitch is that the wolves know no season and I must abide by stringent dates and times.
    Ken again I am no biologist so I am assuming that you speak of a decline in the genetic makeup of each individual elk and its offspring signifying a weakness in the entire group which possibly would allow the progression of certain disease processes such as tuberculosis which we have witnessed in previous years. Perhaps CWD is another manifestation of this problem. Additionally genetics can contribute to malformation processes and degenerative conditions. Among other factors winter stress has long been a well documented area of concern to the extent that humans cannot even enter some winter elk bedding grounds. Unfortunately no one can stop the wolves. In one area of Wyoming back in the eighties we noticed variations in elk antlers which was deemed unacceptable such as never dropping one or both antlers, not divesting the antler of velvet, and other oddities. The state biologists recommendied changing the area from a general tag to limited draw. I suspected that this was a move in the wrong direction to improve the herd. As it turned out now, some twenty years later, this area produces some of the best "horns" available. Back to your question which I did intentionally omit as I needed to consider exactly what you were talking about so I would ask you for a precise definition of "genetic herd health". I will attempt to respond.
    By the way please read page 25 of the June, 2009 FIELD & STREAM. I received my copy today and noticed the article THE OTHER DEER HUNTERS after reading Petzal's article on metrics from which I learned nothing but it was entertaining. If Bestul thinks he had a problem with coyotes vs deer he "ain't seen nothing yet" until he looks on the mountain to view what is left of the elk after the wolves pass through.
    Shane and Ken I look forward to further conversation on this topic unless you fellows are weary of it. Again thanks to both of you for your contributions, I hope you don't find my responses terribly boring.

    Leave a comment:


  • shane
    replied
    So wolves eat nothing? Obviously the wolf eats more than one species, just as the lynx eats more than just snowshoes. The point I am making is that there is no such thing as an excessive apex predator population. Their population is only regulated by food sources (prey species). So to say that we need to or can manage the wolf population in a natural way is a little off.

    Who managed wolf populations before we came with guns? No one. They were managed by themselves and their food sources (prey species). And everything was just dandy. So now, the fact that some find wolves to be inconvenient is not a good reason to have them gone, or at least at minimal numbers, yet again.

    If we are talking about facts, show me an example of ecological/environmental devastation, or better yet, an example of elk (a wolf prey species) devastation. You simply can't, because there are still plenty of elk, and the ecosystem is chugging along just fine.

    Leave a comment:


  • ken.mcloud
    replied
    ishawooa-

    Thank you for your respectful response.

    What is your response to my point about the degradation of the herd's genetic health, especially if you are talking about applying this policy over decades or even centuries?

    Leave a comment:


  • ishawooa
    replied
    Shane I appreciate your comments but please devote a reasonable amount of time to researching and developing factual statements rather than just throwing out opinions and unreasonable assumptions. By the way the gray wolf in Wyoming has no prey species.

    Leave a comment:

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