RMEF’s 2011 Elk Hunting Forecast
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MISSOULA, Mont.–Winterkill, habitat problems and wolves have driven elk numbers down in some areas. But many of America’s roughly 800,000 elk hunters have reason to be optimistic about upcoming seasons, based on hunt forecasts compiled by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

(Note: The following data, compiled from state and provincial wildlife agencies, reflect biologists’ best estimates of elk populations. Each year, animal rights activists blatantly misrepresent these data to prop up their argument for keeping wolves perpetually on the Endangered Species List. It’s a fact that where wolves are concentrated, elk herds are being impacted. Calf survival rates in certain areas are too low to sustain herds for the future. Wolves must be managed, same as elk. In spite of the misuse, RMEF believes these data are valuable to hunters and will continue to provide them.)

Following are condensed forecasts for 29 states and provinces. See full-length versions at www.rmef.org/hunting/features. For even more detailed coverage, see the Sept./Oct. 2011 edition of the RMEF member magazine, Bugle. To join, call 800-CALL ELK.

RMEF members have now helped to conserve or enhance 5.9 million acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife.

In the forecast intro, Bugle Hunting Editor P.J. DelHomme notes, “When RMEF launched in 1984, there were 550,000 elk in North America. Fifteen states and four provinces had elk hunts. Today almost 1.2 million wild elk roam the continent and 23 states and six provinces are holding elk hunts. There’s also been a huge surge of bulls entering the record books, with world records for Roosevelt’s, tules and non-typical Rocky Mountain elk all falling in the past decade.”

This may indeed be the Golden Era of elk hunting. Good luck this autumn!

Elk Population: Etolin (GMU 3) 300-400, Kodiak Archipelago (GMU 8) N/A
Bull/Cow Ratio: GMU 3 19/100
Nonresidents: $85 license, $300 elk permit
Hunter Success: GMU 3 13 percent, GMU 8 N/A
Highlights: Most elk in GMU 3 reside within the formidable South Etolin Island Wilderness on Etolin Island, where 48 hunters braved the bush to kill six bulls last season. Calf recruitment is good at 51 calves to every 100 cows. Numbers for GMU 8 on the Kodiak Archipelago were not available at press time, but the area has yielded some impressive Roosevelt’s bulls in the past few years. Visit www.wildlife.alaska.gov.

Elk Population: 33,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: N/A
Nonresidents: $255, must hire a guide
Hunter Success: N/A
Highlights: Elk populations in the foothills of the Rockies, especially west of Rocky Mountain House, this year felt the combined impact of months of deep snow and predation by wolves, mountain lions and grizzlies. However, range is expanding as elk pioneer new territory to the south and east, with some respectable bulls among them. Meat hunters should look at agricultural zones where liberal permits for cows are available. Outfitters receive roughly 10 percent of the draw tags. Visit www.srd.alberta.ca.

Elk Population: 25,000-35,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 35/100
Nonresidents: $151 license (nonrefundable) plus $595 elk permit
Hunter Success: 31 percent general, 39 percent muzzleloader, 24 percent archery
Highlights: The Wallow fire burned over 520,000 acres in Units 1 and 27 and many elk have been displaced to other areas. A silver lining? These units could see even more monster bulls in coming years if forage responds as it did following the massive Rodeo-Chediski fire in 2002. A mild winter meant low stress on elk but also led to a dry spring–hence the massive wildfires. Arizona Game and Fish Department’s “Hunt Arizona” offers a great resource on harvest data, drawing odds and hunting pressure. Visit www.azgfd.gov.

Elk Population: 440
Bull/Cow Ratio: 40/100
Nonresidents: Auction and landowner tags
Hunter Success: 63 percent
Highlights: Elk permits are available to landowners in a five-county area, with 23 permits issued under a quota system. Anyone who owns property in those counties, whether or not they are a resident, qualifies for the drawing. Nonresidents who buy a lifetime license also are eligible for the drawing. Public land hunters will find elk using an increasing number and quality of managed forage openings on the Ozark National Forest and Gene Rush WMA. Visit www.agfc.com.

British Columbia
Elk Population: 63,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 25-30/100
Nonresidents: $180 license plus $250 elk permit, must hire a guide
Hunter Success: N/A
Highlights: Rocky Mountain elk herds are thriving, with the agricultural zones in the Peace River region a great bet. For a backcountry experience, look to the Omineca region in north-central BC. If you’ve always dreamed of hunting a trophy Roosevelt’s bull, the stars are aligned for a great season. No limits or quotas have changed since last season, and limited-entry tags are still a tough draw at roughly 35/1. Outfitters are allotted a percentage of those tags and you can bypass the long odds by booking a hunt. The $430 cost for a license and permit is a relative bargain. Visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw.

Elk Population: 11,400 (1,500 Rocky Mountain, 6,000 Roosevelt’s, 3,900 tule)
Bull/Cow Ratios: 20/100 to 90/100
Nonresidents: $151 license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $1,200 elk permit
Hunter Success: 75 percent
Highlights: The West’s best hunter success rates and world-class bulls of all three sub-species await those who beat tag lottery odds ranging from 100/1 to 1,000/1. This could be the year a tule world record is broken. The largest brutes are in the East Park Reservoir and Grizzly Island units. Good spring rains should have racks in prime shape. For a backcountry experience, try Marble Mountain Wilderness, which offers 35 bull tags, 10 antlerless and 5 late-season muzzleloader/archery either-sex tags. Everyone has a shot here, as 10 of those tags (nine bull and one cow) are randomly drawn while the other 30 are weighted for preference points. Visit www.dfg.ca.gov.

Elk Population: 283,400
Bull/Cow Ratio: 32/100
Nonresidents: $354 cow, $554 any elk
Hunter Success: 22 percent
Highlights: Colorado is an ideal destination with more than 23 million acres of public land, almost twice as many elk as any other state, over-the-counter bull tags (OTC), and an informative call-center. Rifle tags for bulls in the 2nd and 3rd season are unlimited and sold at outlets all over the state. Leftover draw tags went on sale August 9 and some may still be available. OTC rifle tags for cows are limited, but OTC antlerless archery tags are wide open in the northwest and southeast corners. The past few years have been moist with heavy snows and wet springs, which have kept forage lush and antler growth robust. Visit www.wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting.

Elk Population: 103,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
Nonresidents: $155 license, $417 elk tag
Hunter Success: 19 percent
Highlights: The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is being hammered by wolf predation exacerbated by a long slide in forage quality. Elk populations are far below management objectives in the Lolo and Selway zones and slightly below objectives in the Sawtooth zone. Elk and hunting aren’t what they used to be in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, either. Statewide, elk tag sales fell from 92,565 in 2008 to 84,765 in 2010–a decline of about 8 percent. But not all the news from Idaho is bad. Populations at or above objectives in 20 of 29 elk hunt zones, and the statewide population actually broke a long plummet and grew by 2,000 animals from last year. Hunters should look to the southern and western portions of the state, as well as areas like the Owyhee-South Hills Zone, where hunters can now chase antlerless elk August through December. Visit www.fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Elk Population: 250-275
Bull/Cow Ratio: 40/100
Nonresidents: Tenant permits and one Commissioner’s Permit, usually sold at auction
Hunter Success: 36 percent
Highlights: This past season was a tough one for Kansas elk hunters. On Fort Riley, where most of the state’s elk roam, hunters had their second-lowest success rate since the hunt began there in 1987. This year, 10 either-sex and 15 antlerless tags are available. Mammoth bulls exist but don’t come easily. The state’s other main elk herd roams the opposite corner far to the southwest in the Cimarron National Grasslands. The Grasslands themselves are closed to hunting, but over-the-counter unlimited permits are available for surrounding private lands. Visit www.kdwp.state.ks.us.

Elk Population: 10,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 35-40/100
Nonresidents: $10 to apply, $130 license, $365 elk permit
Hunter Success: 65 percent
Highlights: The toughest part here is beating the odds in the drawing. This year, 61,500 applicants vied for 800 elk hunting permits, with 80 permits reserved for the nearly 19,000 nonresidents who applied. But elk look to be plentiful. A calf recruitment ratio of roughly 85/100 means nearly 2,000 more elk hit the ground each year. Also, hunting success was down last year as the acorn crop was big and the elk stayed in the hardwoods and out of the open, plus ice and snowstorms coincided with key weekends. This year, managers have dropped the 4-point or better antler restriction. Visit www.fw.ky.gov.

Elk Population: 6,100
Bull/Cow Ratio: 45/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: 20-60 percent rifle, 5-10 percent archery
Highlights: You have to live in the province to draw an elk permit, and they’re avidly sought. Some very large bulls roam this country. The Duck Mountain, Interlake and Porcupine regions are all consistent trophy producers. The province has numerous elk seasons running from late August through December. Visit www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wildlife/hunting/.

Elk Population: 780
Bull/Cow Ratio: 60/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: 70-90 percent
Highlights: Managers have the elk population where they want it and are in maintenance mode, which explains why available elk permits dropped by roughly 30 percent. Applications this year were down slightly, with 35,000 people vying for 55 any-elk and 100 antlerless tags. Improving timber management and habitat on public land should mean more elk hunting opportunity in the future. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnrhunting.

Elk Population: 175
Bull/Cow Ratio: 50/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: 72 percent
Highlights: Less than 1,000 hunters applied in 2010 for the dozen once-in-a-lifetime elk tags available (at $250 each). But a widely publicized monster bull scoring 458-4/8 was found in Minnesota last year, and word got out that this state can grow massive trophies. No word yet on whether applications rose. The state has two herds. Managers counted 35-40 elk in the Grygla herd, which is a couple more than what the management plan calls for, and 141 elk in the “border herd.” Visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/elk.

Elk Population: 150,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 5-25/100
Nonresidents: $812
Hunter Success: 16 percent
Highlights: The biggest news for nonresidents is the 37 percent jump in the price of an elk permit. A ballot initiative last November abolished 5,500 outfitter-sponsored licenses and forced all nonresident hunters into the drawing. For those who drew a bull tag in the Bear Paws or Big Snowies, the higher fees could be money well spent, as the bulls there are growing old and big. Winter was tough in parts of central and eastern Montana, but elk in the legendary Missouri River Breaks came through fine. Hunters would be smart to look at Region 3, which yields almost 50 percent of the annual elk harvest, including some big bulls. Wolves have taken a brutal toll on some herds. In the Danaher Basin of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, cow/calf ratios are just 9/100, down from a long-term average of 24/100. Herds in the West Fork of the Bitterroot and the lower Clark Fork watershed are in steep decline, and the famed northern Yellowstone herd continues to plummet. Visit www.fwp.mt.gov.

Elk Population: 2,300
Bull/Cow Ratio: 50/50
Residents only
Hunter Success: 61 percent
Highlights: Landowners are allotted one-third of all elk tags, and this year, both landowners and the general public will have the best opportunity in a decade with 294 tags, up 22 from last year. For public-land hunters, the rugged Pine Ridge in the northern panhandle offers good odds as three units there hold more than half the state’s elk herd, two-thirds of the total permit allocation and more than 100,000 acres of public land.
Visit www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov/hunting.

Elk Population: 13,500
Bull/Cow Ratio: 32/100
Nonresidents: $142 license plus $1,200 tag
Hunter Success: 47 percent
Highlights: Through the drawing, an elk tag costs well over a grand, and that’s a steal compared to the 89 private landowner tags that sold for more than $7,800 on average last year. But 66 percent of the bulls killed last year were six-points or better, many of them jaw-droppers. Nevada’s herd has grown dramatically, swelling by 10 percent this year alone. That’s great news for residents who get 4,600 tags–a good thousand more than last year. Nonresidents are allotted 133 and odds of drawing one were 1/44 in 2009. Visit www.ndow.org/hunt.

New Mexico
Elk Population: 75,000-95,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 40-45/100
Nonresidents: $555 standard bull, $780 quality bull
Hunter Success: 33 percent
Highlights: A mild winter and expected monsoons should have elk in top shape this fall. The state is split roughly into 30 percent “quality” units (big bulls, small odds) and 70 percent “opportunity” units. Hunters looking for plenty of opportunity should focus on the north-central units including Unit 36 where elk herds continue to grow and managers have issued more permits. For last-minute nonresident hunters with cash to spend, landowner tags are your ticket. Hunters will have a little more time to get their bull this year, with shooting hours expanded to 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset. Visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us.

North Dakota
Elk Population: 1,200
Bull/Cow Ratio: N/A
Nonresidents: One raffle tag available
Hunter Success: 49 percent
Highlights: For the past few years, North Dakota has had far more elk than managers wanted. That changed last fall and winter as hunters in Theodore Roosevelt National Park culled 406 elk out of an estimated 950. Managers still hope to get numbers under 400 and another shoot is likely this year. Outside of the park, elk can be found in the northeast corner and along the west-central border, with estimated numbers at around 450. Other small herds are scattered in pockets throughout the state. This year, managers will issue 500 tags–355 any-sex and 145 antlerless tags. Visit www.gf.nd.gov/hunting.

Elk Population: 2,200
Bull/Cow Ratio: N/A
Nonresidents: $306
Hunter Success: N/A
Highlights: Only 85 public-land permits were available this year, down from 330 last year. The largest herd and best opportunity is on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. A few small herds are scattered in the northeast and southeast corners of the state with one permit available for those areas. Residents looking to pull one of these once-in-a-lifetime tags have less than a 1 percent chance. But there is no quota on private-land elk and hunting access can be had for a fee. Visit www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Elk Population: 700
Bull/Cow Ratio: 30/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: N/A
Highlights: Thirteen years after RMEF helped reintroduce elk to Ontario, the province will hold its first modern elk hunt this year. Between 300-775 elk reside in the Bancroft-North Hastings area in the southern end of the province where the hunt will take place. Lucky hunters now hold 24 bull tags and 46 cow tags for the late-September hunt. Visit www.ontario.ca/hunting.

Elk Population: 125,000 (65,000 Rocky Mountain, 60,000 Roosevelt’s)
Bull/Cow Ratio: 19/100 Rocky Mountain, 13/100 Roosevelt’s
Nonresidents: $141 license, $501 tag
Hunter Success: 16 percent Rocky Mountain, 12 percent Roosevelt’s
Highlights: Much of eastern Oregon saw record snowfall in the mountains, and biologists are hopeful that elk populations came out unscathed. Bowhunters can prowl most of the east side with only a general tag. For rifle hunters, nearly everything east of the Cascades is permit-only, save for a second-season rifle hunt in a few units of the northeast. Roosevelt’s elk tags are still over-the-counter (except for the far northwest and southwest corners), herds are strong and there are some beasts on the hoof. This season, hunters 17 and under are required to wear a hunter orange hat or vest when hunting any big game with any firearm. Visit www.dfw.state.or.us.

Elk Population: 750
Bull/Cow ratio: 28/100
Nonresidents: $101 license, $250 elk tag
Hunter success: 80 percent
Highlights: It’s been reported before and here it is again: Pennsylvania could produce a bull this year that breaks not only state but also world records. Along with antler size, elk populations and hunter opportunity are growing. With the herd up 7 percent over last year, the state is offering 10 more antlerless tags for a total of 18 bull permits and 38 antlerless. Odds for drawing remain slim (around 1/1000), but if you do pull the coveted tag, the state boasts the highest success rate in North America. And more than half of the elk live on over a million acres of public land. Visit www.pgc.state.pa.us.

Elk Population: 16,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 20/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: 23 percent
Highlights: It was a tough winter across much of the province, and the central and northeast areas saw high deer mortality and some elk mortality. Near the town of Hudson Bay, though, where the prairie meets the forest, managers have implemented a bulls-only season, followed by an either-sex season–all of which can be had with over-the-counter tags. In the south, elk populations are on the rise and each year seems to bring new hunting opportunities. New in 2011 are antlerless seasons in zones 21, north of Regina, and 52, south of Prince Albert. Visit www.environment.gov.sk.ca/hunting.

South Dakota
Elk Population: 3,200
Bull/Cow Ratio: 34/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: 53 percent
Highlights: There are several small prairie herds scattered across the state, but managers want to see the Black Hills herd grow to roughly 4,000. They aim to increase hunter opportunity in the long term, which means decreased hunter opportunity in the short term. Managers cut any-elk rifle tags by 25 to 470. Antlerless tags took an even bigger hit, dropping from 570 to 395. Visit www.sdgfp.info/wildlife/hunting.

Elk Population: 300-400
Bull/Cow Ratio: N/A
Nonresidents: 1 permit to nonresidents and 1 auction tag
Hunter Success: 60 percent
Highlights: Tennessee’s elk population is holding steady but the ultimate goal is a herd of 2,000 animals. Managers are working to expand and improve elk range while keeping hunt permits conservative. Only four permits are available for residents. Last year, two of those hunters failed to fill their tags. Visit www.state.tn.us/twra/elkmain.html.

Elk Population: 72,500
Bull/Cow Ratio: N/A
Nonresidents: $80 license plus $280 to $1,500 permit
Hunter Success: 17 percent
Highlights: Utah has produced a staggering number of record-book bulls over the past decade. The state’s largest herds are found in the Wasatch, Plateau and Fish Lake units, which should produce some serious antler growth this year on the heels of a particularly wet spring. The fact that the overall population continues to grow as well is testament to good management. The state issued 1,200 more cow tags and 1,250 more spike permits this fall. Odds are still tough for limited-entry tags. Nonresidents get 10 percent of available rifle tags. Visit www.wildlife.utah.gov/hunting/biggame.

Elk Population: 55,000-60,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 12-20/100
Nonresidents: $434 (will increase to $497 before season starts)
Hunter Success: 8 percent general, 39 percent for special limited-entry permits
Highlights: The state’s elk population is divided about evenly between Roosevelt’s in the west and Rocky Mountain elk to the east. In the famous Blue Mountains of southeast Washington, resident and nonresident hunters alike will find over-the-counter spike tags readily available. Highly-prized permits for branch-antlered bulls will be far tougher to come by. The Yakima herd has improved and this year the area has increased antlerless permits. In the Mount St. Helens area, managers are still trying to decrease herd numbers with more special permits for antlerless elk. Both nonresident and resident hunters should take note that elk tag fees will jump nearly 15 percent effective September 1 to help cover budget shortfalls. Visit www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting.

Elk Population: 120,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
Nonresidents: $591 permit, $302 cow-calf permit, $1,071 special permit
Hunter Success: 44 percent
Highlights: Last year, hunters harvested 25,600 elk, up from the five-year average of 21,000. Biologists say mature bulls continue to thrive in most hunting units and the statewide population remains above management objectives. The dark exception is the state’s northwest corner. Elk numbers in the Clark’s Fork and Cody herds are still down due to predation and poor habitat. The Jackson herd that summers in Yellowstone is well off the mark, too, and managers are being conservative on tags. Roughly half the hunting units just outside the park have set quotas, one is closed and rest are limited to antlered elk only. Visit www.gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/hunting.

Yukon Territory
Elk Population: 250-300
Bull/Cow Ratio: 24/100
Residents only
Hunter Success: 52 percent
Highlights: With two distinct herds, Takhini and Braeburn, the territory held its first elk hunt in a quarter-century in 2009, and followed it with a second hunt last year. Those hunts were overwhelmingly successful–too successful. Hunters had a 73 percent success rate on bulls and a 31 percent success rate on cows. So this year managers are offering cow-only permits to lighten the pressure on bulls while reducing overall herd numbers down to management objectives. The target bull/cow ratio for the area is 50/100. Visit www.environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca.

RMEF 2010 Elk Hunting Forecast
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MISSOULA, Mont.–Elk and elk hunting opportunities are abundant in much of North America, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is offering a sneak peek at upcoming seasons in its annual roundup of hunt forecasts for 28 states and provinces, now posted at www.rmef.org.

“Generally speaking, elk populations are in great shape and hunters have much to look forward to across the West, as well as in several Midwestern and Eastern states,” said David Allen, president and CEO of the Elk Foundation. “A mild winter, much needed spring and summer moisture and our habitat conservation successes all factor into our optimism for the upcoming hunting season.”

This summer, RMEF passed the 5.8 million acre mark for habitat conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.

Allen added, however, that wolves continue to be a growing concern in regions where the predators share habitat with elk and other big game herds. In some areas, elk calf survival rates are now insufficient to sustain herds for the future. The urgent need to control wolf populations is a localized wildlife management crisis now compounded by a recent court decision to return wolves to full federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. RMEF has asked Congress to intervene and grant management authority to the states.

Here’s a condensed look at elk data from state and provincial wildlife conservation agencies. To see these forecasts in their entirety, with links to respective elk regulations or other Web pages, visit www.rmef.org. For even more coverage, see the Sept./Oct. 2010 edition of the RMEF member magazine, Bugle. To join, call 800-CALL ELK.

· Elk Population: Kodiak Archipelago (GMU 8), 650; Etolin (GMU 3), not available
· Bull/Cow Ratios: Not available
· Nonresidents: $85 hunting license plus $300 elk tag, and must hire a guide
· Hunter Success: GMU 8, 17 percent; GMU 3, 5 percent
While bulls in the lower 48 average 700 pounds, bulls in GMU 3′s South Etolin Wilderness in southeast Alaska can get up to 1,300. However, recent success rates hover at just 5 percent with an annual average of six bulls killed for the entire unit. Zarembo Island northwest of Etolin has remained closed to hunting since 2006 because of low elk numbers. For GMU 8 in southern Alaska, odds are considerably better at 17 percent. Area biologist Larry van Deale says some recent trophies would have made the record books had the hunters cared to enter them.

· Elk Population: 33,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
· Nonresidents: $255, must hire a guide
· Hunter Success: Not available
This province offers opportunities for fine elk hunting as herds expand east and south onto the prairies and parklands. As herds grow, managers establish more hunting opportunities–last year alone saw three new areas open to elk hunting. Some of the biggest bulls are in these new units. The northern-most units have hunts well into January, and landowners typically welcome responsible cow hunters with open arms. The best (and only) shot for a nonresident is to go through an outfitter, as they are allotted roughly 10 percent of draw tags.

· Elk Population: 25,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 34/100
· Nonresidents: $121 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $595 elk permit
· Hunter Success: 30 percent
Even though the state claims 25,000 elk, its mesas and arroyos could be hiding upwards of 40,000, says Brian Wakeling, Arizona’s game branch chief. They conduct elk counts in August and September, and the thick tree cover makes it tough to get accurate counts with aerial surveys. Overlooked elk means better odds for hunters. Plus, with abundant moisture this winter and little winterkill, elk herds are flourishing. Last year saw little daylight rut activity with bulls bugling only by moonlight, which held bowhunter success to around 25 percent. Logic says those big bulls that survived merely got bigger for this season. Also note the agency’s goal to get bull/cow ratios down to 25/100 to create more hunter opportunity. Translation: more bull tags.

· Elk Population: 500
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 40/100
· Nonresidents: varies for private landowner tags and three auction tags
· Hunter Success: 42 percent
When Arkansas held its first elk-hunting season in 1998, hunter success was close to 100 percent. Now the elk are far wilier. Out-of-state hunters have a couple options: either buy an auction tag or contact a landowner for access. For the latter, hunters must receive written permission from the landowner to hunt their private property, and can only hunt there. Available tags remain the same as last year: 29 public-land tags (8 bull, 16 antlerless, 2 either-sex youth tags, plus 3 either-sex auction tags).

British Columbia
· Elk Population: 50,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 20/100
· Nonresidents: $189 hunting license plus $262.50 for elk permit. Must hire a guide.
· Hunter Success: Not available
This province boasts a thriving population of Rocky Mountain elk and some of the biggest Roosevelt’s bulls in the world, says Stephen MacIver, wildlife regulations officer. However, a hunter must first hurdle the odds of drawing a limited-entry tag. The odds are roughly 35:1. However, guides are allotted a percentage of the tags. Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast in the far west have strong populations of Roosevelt’s. For Rocky Mountain elk, your best bet would be the Kootenay region in the southeast, which boasts the province’s highest success rates. Another good option is the agricultural zones in the Peace River region.

· Elk Population: 1,500 Rocky Mountains, 6,000 Roosevelt’s, 3,900 tules
· Bull/Cow Ratios: 20/100 to 90/100
· Nonresidents: $145 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $1,173 elk permit
· Hunter Success: 75 percent
Conditions are ripe for a world’s record tule, says Joe Hobbs, California Fish and Game elk coordinator. On the East Park Reservoir Unit, good spring rains this year and a low harvest of old bulls last year have left the environment in top shape for antler growth. The bad news? Your odds of drawing a bull tag there are 1 in 350. On the Grizzly Island unit, odds are 1 in 1,000. Auction tags are a possibility, too, but if odds and auctions aren’t your thing, private landowners receive a limited number of tags, and some are available for sale. The Marble Mountains unit in the northwest has 35 bull tags, 10 antlerless and 5 late-season muzzleloader/archery either-sex tags.

· Elk Population: 286,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 30/100
· Nonresidents: cow $354, any elk $544
· Hunter Success: 23 percent
Colorado is the land of plenty for elk and elk hunters but it isn’t currently known for producing behemoth bulls. That could be a different story this hunting season. The past two falls have been cursed with warm weather. In the northwest where many of the bigger bulls roam, elk migration didn’t even begin until after regular rifle seasons were over. Couple that with abundant spring and summer moisture producing high quality forage and the setup is perfect for more trophy bulls. The state’s more-than 200,000 elk hunters also will find that cow tags have gone up $100, the Division of Wildlife has recommended cutting 1,500 cow/either-sex rifle tags across the state, and over-the-counter archery licenses for units 54, 55 and 551 have been nixed. On the other hand, places where herds remain above objective, such as the Gunnison Basin, will see more rifle tags available.

· Elk Population: 101,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 25/100
· Nonresidents: license $155, tag $417
· Hunter Success: 20 percent
Since 2007, Idaho’s elk population has fallen by 24,000. And for the second year in a row, out-of-state tag revenues in the state have mirrored that trend. Hunters list wolves, the economy and nonresident tag prices as factors. This isn’t ideal for state wildlife coffers, but it could be ideal if you’re looking for elk hunting all to yourself. Wolves have hit elk populations hard in the classic elk country of the Lolo, Sawtooth and Selway areas, and the state has capped tags. Bull/cow and cow/calf ratios are in tough shape, and the statewide population could fall below 100,000 for the first time in decades. But the declines are by no means across the board. Elk populations are at or above objectives in 22 of 29 elk hunt zones. And a mild winter boosted cow and calf elk survival rates across most of the state. The Beaverhead, Lemhi, Island Park, Teton, Snake River, Palisades and Tex Creek zones all have healthy herds and offer the kind of elk hunting Idaho is famous for.

· Elk Population: 250-275
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 40/100
· Nonresidents: Private landowner permits and one Commissioner’s Permit, usually sold at auction
· Hunter Success: 75 percent either sex, 50 anterless
Kansas now has unlimited over-the-counter either-sex elk tags. In certain counties across the state, namely those not adjacent to Fort Riley or Cimarron National Grasslands, any resident can purchase one, hook up with a landowner and hunt elk. Landowners in Hamilton County in western Kansas voiced concern over crop depredation, and biologists responded with the liberal permits. If you care to play the odds, enter the drawing for a once-in-a-lifetime tag. More than half the state’s elk reside on and around 100,000-acre Fort Riley, which allows hunting: 12 either-sex (up 4 from last year) and 15 antlerless permits.

· Elk Population: 10,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 35-40/100
· Nonresidents: $10 to apply, $365 for permit, $130 for hunting license
· Hunter Success: 80 percent
This year, the Bluegrass State’s wapiti hunt was so in-demand that applicants from all 50 states applied, plus the District of Columbia. That’s a great vote of confidence for the East’s biggest herd, but it means the odds of drawing got even longer for nonresidents: 1:200. For Kentuckians, you’re competing against 29,000 other hunters for 720 tags–far better odds at 1:42. Permit numbers in the state have been on a rollercoaster. Last year, permits rocketed up 50 percent to 1,000 tags. Hunters had 60 percent success on cows and 91 percent on bulls. So, managers reined in the number of permits this year back to 800 in hopes of beefing up the population.

· Elk Population: 6,500
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 35-45/100
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 20 percent
Elk are the “most desired species to hunt” among province residents, says Ken Rebizant, provincial big game manager. Traditional strongholds such as the Porcupine, Interlake and Duck Mountain regions are going to have elk, and big ones, but they’re tough draws, as the province has no over-the-counter tags. But, since bovine tuberculosis has impacted the Riding Mountain herd, provoking managers to reduce herd numbers, interest in that area has waned. That may be all a resident needs to finally draw an elk tag.

· Elk Population: 780
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 60/100
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 70 percent
For years, the state has tried to get its elk numbers down to around 800 and now it seems managers have succeeded. The tendency for elk to wreak havoc on some ag operations in the northern lower peninsula had managers working hard to reduce the herd. Now that they’ve hit their mark, Michigan will offer 230 tags, 150 less than last year. This year, the state will offer 75 any-elk tags with 155 antlerless.

· Elk Population: 170
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 50/100
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 79 percent
This year, Minnesota will issue 11 once-in-a-lifetime tags for two separate seasons. Last year, 2,072 applicants put their name in for 30 permits. The state gives landowners 20 percent of the available tags. Last year, managers were able to work out a five-year management plan that calls for 30-38 elk in the Grygla herd, 20-30 animals in the Kittson Central herd and a currently undetermined number in the Caribou-Vita herd. Discussions are being held between the state DNR and Manitoba Conservation regarding population goals for the Caribou-Vita herd, which freely travels across the border.

· Elk Population: 150,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 5-25/100
· Nonresidents: $593
· Hunter Success: 22 percent
There are plenty of elk in many pockets of Big Sky country. In fact, Montana continues to boast the second highest elk population of any state by a margin of 30,000 animals. But some populations have plummeted in the past five years. The northern Yellowstone herd is down to 6,000 animals from 19,000 in 1996. Areas north of Yellowstone National Park have seen permits cut and over-the-counter tags change to a draw. Populations in the West Fork of the Bitterroot River and the lower Clark Fork River are 60 percent below objective with just 7 calves per 100 cows. All antlerless tags have been cut and bulls will be hard to come by. Elk populations are well below objectives throughout much of Region 1 in the northwest. Hunters will find elk widely dispersed and wary throughout their traditional ranges in the western third of the state where wolves howl. But the farther one goes east of the Continental Divide, the more elk appear. Most of the eastern portion of the state is 20 percent above population objectives.

· Elk Population: 2,400
· Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 80 percent bulls, 58 percent cows
The state’s elk herd is still growing consistently around 15-20 percent every year. As numbers grow, opportunities to hunt grow with them, but only if you’re a resident. This year, the state will issue 272 tags, up 40 from last year, with 98 bull and 174 cow permits. To promote strong landowner relations, one-third of those permits are available to private landowners in a drawing and are non-transferable.

· Elk Population: 12,300
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 32/100
· Nonresidents: $142 hunting license plus $1,200 tag
· Hunter Success: 44 percent
In the past two years, the state’s elk population has grown nearly 30 percent. Opportunities for hunters to chase them have followed suit. A few hundred tags more than last year will be issued this season for a total of 3,350. Ten percent of those tags go to nonresidents who are looking at pretty decent 1:44 odds to draw a bull tag. The quality of bulls in the harvest remains high with more than 67 percent of bulls reported being six points or better. The state’s Elk Management on Private Lands Program distributed 66 tags to property owners to do with as they wish. Estimated revenue generated from those tags topped nearly $500,000 for the landowners.

New Mexico
· Elk Population: 75,000-95,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 42/100
· Nonresidents: $27 nonrefundable fee to enter drawing, plus $562 standard bull tag or $787 quality bull tag
· Hunter Success: 30 percent
Out-of-staters looking to hunt here will find no over-the-counter tags. Those who didn’t draw may be able to contact a landowner for one of their tags (be ready to write a hefty check). The state has no bonus or preference point system. Residents get the bulk of the tags, 78 percent. The state’s units are broken into “quality” and “opportunity” hunts. The former will get you a better chance at bigger bulls, but odds are steep. The Gila area holds around 20,000 elk.

North Dakota
· Elk Population: 2,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
· Nonresidents: One auction tag available
· Hunter Success: 42 percent
Big news this year is the hunt inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. With 950 elk, the park is looking to control elk populations, possibly killing 275 elk for the next five years to get the population at 100-400. For the rest of the state’s elk, things are pretty much status quo. Managers issued 561 tags–with 245 any-sex and 315 antlerless tags, the same as last year. Almost all hunting is now in the western Badlands.

· Elk Population: 2,300
· Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
· Nonresidents: $306
· Hunter Success: Not available
The Sooner State’s elk population is holding steady and the number of permits to hunt public land still hovers around 330. Odds of pulling one of those tags are dismal, less than 1 percent. But, if you do draw, there are some truly fine Okie bulls. Nonresidents looking to hunt here might do best to purchase a tag and then find a landowner who wants elk out of his winter wheat. For cow hunts, seasons are extended well into December and January.

· Elk Population: 120,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 15/100
· Nonresidents: license $140, tag $500
· Hunter Success: 13 percent
Due to budget constraints, biologists aren’t exactly sure how many elk they have as aerial surveys have been limited. But they think populations are stable. And, this year, managers plan to issue nearly 1,000 more permits than last season. Rocky Mountain elk dominate the east side of the Cascades while Roosevelt’s reign to the west. Most hunting in the steep and dark west is open to all comers with over-the-counter tags, while eastern Oregon is draw-only for rifle hunters. Bowhunters can hunt most of the east side with a general tag. Those eastern elk have some new neighbors, as a couple wolf packs have dispersed into the state from Idaho.

· Elk Population: 700
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 28/100
· Nonresidents: $250 for elk tag, $101 for general license
· Hunter Success: 94 percent bull, 73 percent cow
To be blunt, this state has been growing some absolute toads. In 2006, a hunter killed a 425-2/8 non-typical, while just last year a hunter killed a 423-6/8 non-typical. Both bulls were around 6 years old. Records remain to be shattered if a bull can tack on a few extra years. Managers are currently revising the state’s elk management plan to determine how many elk that habitat and society will support. In the meantime, 51 tags will again be issued this season, with 18 bull and 33 cow.

· Elk Population: 15,000-16,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 20/100
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 20 percent
Landowner tolerance for elk dictates seasons in this province. In the south where there is a lot of private farmland and the only predator carries a rifle, you’ll find ample antlerless quotas meant to get elk off the crops and into freezers. If you want a bull, this just might be your year. With so much open ag land, bulls are easy to spot. To help them gain a little antler weight, managers only allow them to be hunted every third year, which has produced some 400-inch monsters. Moose Mountain Provincial Park in the southeast corner is home to 1,400 elk and has seen numbers gaining strength in the past decade. This is a draw-only unit, open to either-sex hunting, and also has outstanding bulls.
For challenging over-the-counter hunts, the north-central and western regions offer forests and meadow fringes that hide elk along with plenty of their four-legged predators.

South Dakota
· Elk Population: 5,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 75/100
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 50 percent
The state’s largest herd in the Black Hills National Forest numbered as many as 5,000 animals back in 2003. Aggressive management knocked that number down to the current 3,000. But public attitudes have shifted and there is once again a cry for more elk and more hunting opportunity. To reach a goal of 4,000 in the Hills, managers have had to cut rifle tags again this year to 1,065–a drop of 300 from last year. Still, residents’ odds of hunting a bull in the Black Hills are a solid 1:10. If you pull a tag, make the most of it, as you have to wait nine years to apply again.

· Elk Population: 400
· Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
· Nonresidents: $10 fee to enter drawing, $300 if drawn
· Hunter Success: 100 percent
“We want to grow this elk herd and add more hunters,” says Steve Bennett, elk restoration project coordinator. The herd seems to be cooperating. Last year, five lucky hunters participated in the state’s first sanctioned elk hunt, taking five elk, four on the first day. State wildlife managers hope to see the herd reach 2,000 animals within the next two decades.

· Elk Population: 68,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 15-80/100
· Nonresidents: $65 hunting license, plus $388 general tag, $795 limited-entry tag or $1,500 premium limited-entry tag
· Hunter Success: 17 percent
Statewide, hunters kill bulls that average around 6½ years, and Utah has seen good moisture this past winter and spring, keeping the hills green and lush. Translation: healthy brutes with big headgear. The most popular units include San Juan and Fillmore Pahvant but odds of drawing a limited-entry tag are tough. For residents, it’s 1:16. Nonresidents, 1:44. There are over-the-counter options, especially for archery hunters who are willing to hike into wilderness.

· Elk Population: 55,000-60,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 12-20/100 in most units
· Nonresidents: $432
· Hunter Success: 8 percent
Washington has more hunters per elk than any other state. Managers help control densities by making hunters choose either westside Roosevelt’s or eastside Rocky Mountain elk. Both hunters and elk are split about 50/50. Generally, herd numbers are stable this season but the Yakima herd has seen a drop in calf recruitment, thus special permits for both branch-antlered bulls and cows have been cut 30-40 percent. While it may take some time for the Yakima herd to rebound, the state has plenty of other hot spots like the classic elk country of the Blue Mountains. This area in the southeast corner has seen an increase in bull permits the last few years. The southwest also offers over-the-counter permits, especially on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. St. Helens where managers are trying to knock down herd numbers. Wolves have established at least two confirmed packs on the eastside.

· Elk Population 120,000
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
· Nonresidents: $577 for permit, $288 for cow-calf permit, $1,057 for special permit
· Hunter Success: 43 percent
Certain places in Wyoming have seen significant impacts from wolves and other carnivores. Much of the Cody herd, near Yellowstone, is seeing poor calf-recruitment made worse by predation. Once a general hunting area, it is now a limited-entry draw. Areas around Jackson Hole and the Gros Ventre and Teton Wilderness Areas will see tightened seasons and antler-point restrictions to try and boost bull/cow and cow/calf ratios. Outside the northwest corner, the state’s elk populations are up 15,000 from last year and many units are far above objectives. The statewide objective is 80,000 elk. That’s 40,000 less than where the herd stands now. The state expects to have lots of leftover antlerless licenses. Aggressive seasons have been set in many places including the Snowy Range, Laramie Peak and Sierra Madre. Last year, the state shifted to a first-come/first-served online licensing system. Out-of-staters can now search for leftover licenses without having to wait in line (in Wyoming) for reduced and full-price tags. For those more interested in hunting bulls, the state allots 16 percent of its limited quota and general licenses to nonresidents.

Yukon Territory
· Elk Population: 250-300
· Bull/Cow Ratio: 60/100
· Residents only
· Hunter Success: 29 percent
This province, which boasts 70,000 moose and only 35,000 people, last year held its first official elk hunt in 25 years. Twenty-six hunters took an elk home for the freezer. While much of the Yukon’s northern boreal forest can’t support elk, the Takhini Valley to the
south along the Alaska highway, and Braeburn to the north along the Klondike Highway, are elk strongholds. A total of 63 permits will be distributed by lottery for Takhini. Up in Braeburn, six permits are available.

"The Myth Of The Harmless Wolf"
Posted by

Dr. James Swan, Co-Executive Producer, “Wild Justice,” Nat. Geo. Wild & CEO, Snow Goose
Productions and author of the book “In Defense of Hunting“, has published an article for ESPN, “The Myth of the Harmless Wolf“.

Did Teddy Roosevelt See Different Wolves Than Historians Claim Existed Once In N. Rockies?
Posted by

I was sent a link to some writings of Teddy Roosevelt’s by a reader (Sam). “Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches” contains a chapter (VIII) called, “Wolves and Wolf-Hounds.”

This text was prepared from a 1902 edition, published by G. P.
Putnam’s Sons, New York and London. It was originally published in
1893. It is part II of “The Wilderness Hunter.”

Etext prepared by Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com
and John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz

Last week I raised the question about which species or subspecies of wolf ranged the Northern Rockies. Research published in the Smithsonian Institution questions whether the Canadian gray wolf, the much larger of the wolves, historically ranged in the Northern Rockies, more specifically Central Idaho, Greater Yellowstone area and parts of central and Southwestern Montana.

It is believed by some that the reintroduction of the Canadian gray wolf in the mid-1990s into Central Idaho and Yellowstone was only hastening the inevitable migration of the wolf from Northwestern Montana. Others, such as the Smithsonian, are questioning whether or not the larger wolf was the wolf that historically roamed Yellowstone back in the day.

Earlier today, included in my “Random Thoughts and Comments” blog, I mentioned these writings of Teddy Roosevelt. Outdoors people love to resurrect Teddy Roosevelt when they begin talking conservation and environmental issues, sometimes selectively so. Meaning no respect to Mr. Roosevelt but he was no saint in the woods by the standards of some today. The man loved a good hunt and found much sport in running down wolves with dogs and watching them fight to the death.

The true way to kill wolves, however, is to hunt them with greyhounds on the great plains. Nothing more exciting than this sport can possibly be imagined. It is not always necessary that the greyhounds should be of absolutely pure blood. Prize-winning dogs of high pedigree often prove useless for the purposes. If by careful choice, however, a ranchman can get together a pack composed both of the
smooth-haired greyhound and the rough-haired Scotch deer-hound, he can have excellent sport. The greyhounds sometimes do best if they have a slight cross of bulldog in their veins; but this is not necessary. If once a greyhound can be fairly entered to the sport and acquires confidence, then its wonderful agility, its sinewy strength and speed, and the terrible snap with which its jaws come together, render it a most formidable assailant. Nothing can possibly exceed the gallantry with which good greyhounds, when their blood is up, fling themselves on a wolf or any other foe. There does not exist, and there never has existed on the wide earth, a more perfect type of dauntless courage than such a hound. Not Cushing when he steered his little launch through the black night against the great ram Albemarle, not Custer dashing into the valley of the Rosebud to die with all his men, not Farragut himself lashed in the rigging of the Hartford as she forged past the forts to encounter her iron-clad foe, can stand as a more perfect type of dauntless valor.

My how things do change. The time that Roosevelt spent in the field crossing the continent from coast to coast and hitting all four corners, he encountered many wolves, or were they really wolves? Roosevelt takes great pains in this one chapter to describe the animals he saw, the names they were given and the habits that often carried daunting reputations.

Wolves show an infinite variety in color, size, physical formation, and temper. Almost all the varieties intergrade with one another, however, so that it is very difficult to draw a hard and fast line between any two of them. Nevertheless, west of the Mississippi there are found two distinct types. One is the wolf proper, or big wolf, specifically akin to the wolves of the eastern States. The other is the little coyote, or prairie wolf. The coyote and the big wolf are found together in almost all the wilder districts from the Rio Grande to the valleys of the upper Missouri and the upper Columbia. Throughout this region there is always a sharp line of demarcation[sic], especially in size, between the coyotes and the big wolves of any given district; but in certain districts the big wolves are very much larger than their brethren in other districts. In the upper Columbia country, for instance, they are very large; along the Rio Grande they are small. Dr. Hart Merriam informs me that, according to his experience, the coyote is largest in southern California. In many respects the coyote differs altogether in habits from its big relative. For one thing it is far more tolerant of man. In some localities coyotes are more numerous around settlements, and even in the close vicinity of large towns, than they are in the frowning and desolate fastnesses haunted by their grim elder brother.

Roosevelt tells us that “there is always a sharp line of demarcation [sic]” between the larger wolves of the Upper Columbia River region and the Upper Missouri but doesn’t give us a definitive geographical line where the change begins.

Roosevelt further describes regional differences in not only the wolves themselves but the coyotes and the difficulty that existed in telling them apart.

The grizzled, gray, and brown often have precisely the coat of the coyote. The difference in size among wolves of different localities, and even of the same locality, is quite remarkable, and so, curiously enough, is the difference in the size of the teeth, in some cases even when the body of one wolf is as big as that of another. I have seen wolves from Texas and New Mexico which were undersized, slim animals with rather small tusks, in no way to be compared to the long-toothed giants of their race that dwell in the heavily timbered mountains of the Northwest and in the far North.

In his writings, Roosevelt describes what is commonly referred to as the “buffalo wolf”, at one time extremely common and plentiful. He has described this wolf as being more like a coyote as well as giving us a hint as to where it was often found.

Formerly wolves were incredibly abundant in certain parts of the country, notably on the great plains, where they were known as buffalo wolves, and were regular attendants on the great herds of the bison. Every traveler[sic] and hunter of the old days knew them as among the most common sights of the plains, and they followed the hunting parties and emigrant trains for the sake of the scraps left in camp. Now, however, there is no district in which they are really abundant. The wolfers, or professional wolf-hunters, who killed them by poisoning for the sake of their fur, and the cattlemen, who likewise killed them by poisoning because of their raids on the herds, have doubtless been the chief instruments in working their decimation on the plains. In the ‘70’s, and even in the early ‘80’s, many tens of thousands of wolves were killed by the wolfers in Montana and northern Wyoming and western Dakota.

Taken in complete context of his writings, it appears that this buffalo wolf was found in Northern Wyoming, through into the Western Dakotas and parts of Montana. He has already told us that the larger gray wolf was found in the Upper Columbia and Upper Missouri Rivers. If that’s true then it would seem that the smaller buffalo wolf could be found in Southwestern Montana and stretching across parts of Central and Southern Montana and south into Northern Wyoming.

Roosevelt sheds light on some of the first observations of wolves’ migration or changing of its habitat.

[T]he beasts now and then change their abodes, and appear in numbers in places where they have been scarce for a long period. In the present winter of 1892-‘93 big wolves are more plentiful in the neighborhood of my ranch than they have been for ten years, and have worked some havoc among the cattle and young horses. The cowboys have been carrying on the usual vindictive campaign against them; a number have been poisoned, and a number of others have fallen victims to their greediness, the cowboys surprising them when gorged to repletion on the carcass of a colt or calf, and, in consequence, unable to run, so that they are easily ridden down, roped, and then dragged to death.

We can assume Roosevelt is referring to his ranch in what is now North Dakota.

What I find extremely interesting in Roosevelt’s writing is his puzzlement over what happened to the wolves.

Yet even the slaughter wrought by man in certain localities does not seem adequate to explain the scarcity or extinction of wolves, throughout the country at large. In most places they are not followed any more eagerly than are the other large beasts of prey, and they are usually followed with less success. Of all animals the wolf is the shyest and hardest to slay. It is almost or quite as difficult to still-hunt as the cougar, and is far more difficult to kill with hounds, traps, or poison; yet it scarcely holds its own as well as the great cat, and it does not begin to hold its own as well as the bear, a beast certainly never more readily killed, and one which produces fewer young at a birth. Throughout the East the black bear is common in many localities from which the wolf has vanished completely. It at present exists in very scanty numbers in northern Maine and the Adirondacks; is almost or quite extinct in Pennsylvania; lingers here and there in the mountains from West Virginia to east Tennessee, and is found in Florida; but is everywhere less abundant than the bear. It is possible that this destruction of the wolves is due to some disease among them, perhaps to hydrophobia, a terrible malady from which it is known that they suffer greatly at times. Perhaps the bear is helped by its habit of hibernating, which frees it from most dangers during winter; but this cannot be the complete explanation, for in the South it does not hibernate, and yet holds its own as well as in the North. What makes it all the more curious that the American wolf should disappear sooner than the bear is that the reverse is the case with the allied species of Europe, where the bear is much sooner killed out of the land.

Roosevelt goes on for another paragraph and more trying to make sense as to what happened to the wolf. Perhaps some of it is his own guilt for having participated, to some degree anyway, with the killing of wolves for sport and to protect his own property. Some would say Roosevelt was a man of greater conviction and would have readily admitted his wrongs. Perhaps Mr. Roosevelt logged some of our earliest observations of the normal and natural cycles of climate change as well as the cruelties of Mother Nature.

As part of his continued striving for an explanation of what happened to the wolves, Roosevelt again offers us a contrasting description of wolves found here in the U.S. as well as in Europe.

The difference even among the wolves of different sections of our own country is very notable. It may be true that the species as a whole is rather weaker and less ferocious than the European wolf; but it is certainly not true of the wolves of certain localities. The great timber wolf of the central and northern chains of the Rockies and coast ranges is in every way a more formidable creature than the buffalo wolf of the plains, although they intergrade. The skins and skulls of the wolves of north-western Montana and Washington which I have seen were quite as large and showed quite as stout claws and teeth as the skins and skulls of Russian and Scandinavian wolves, and I believe that these great timber wolves are in every way as formidable as their Old World kinsfolk. However, they live where they come in contact with a population of rifle-bearing frontier hunters, who are very different from European peasants or Asiatic tribesmen; and they have, even when most hungry, a wholesome dread of human beings. Yet I doubt if an unarmed man would be entirely safe should he, while alone in the forest in mid-winter encounter a fair-sized pack of ravenously hungry timber wolves.

A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rockies, in exceptional instances, reaches a height of thirty-two inches and a weight of 130 pounds; a big buffalo wolf of the upper Missouri stands thirty or thirty-one inches at the shoulder and weighs about 110 pounds. A Texas wolf may not reach over eighty pounds. The bitch-wolves are smaller; and moreover there is often great variation even in the wolves of closely neighboring localities.

Even in the late 1800s Teddy Roosevelt realized that wolves in the U.S. ran scared of humans because we had guns and could fight back and that in Europe and Russia, either governments forbade owning guns or the poor peasants couldn’t afford one or the ammunition to put in it. Because of this it is thought by some that European wolves were a more vicious and powerful animal.

Again, Roosevelt tries to define his line of demarcation of where the smaller wolves and the larger wolves lived. He describes the great timber wolf as living in “central and northern chains of the Rockies”.

In his effort to describe the actions and reactions of the various wolves he encountered, Roosevelt tells us that the smaller wolves rarely took on large prey. He even went so far as to say that unless emboldened by being in large packs, the wolves picked on mostly smaller prey or even the very young or sickly.

We hear much of how the wolf only kills the weak and sickly of their prey and we can see that Roosevelt thought much the same way except that of the bigger “timber” wolf or Canadian wolf. He goes to length in telling us that this wolf will readily attack and kill the largest of game animals, mostly the wild and domestic ungulates.

The big timber wolves of the northern Rocky Mountains attack every four-footed beast to be found where they live. They are far from contenting themselves with hunting deer and snapping up the pigs and sheep of the farm. When the weather gets cold and food scarce they band together in small parties, perhaps of four or five individuals, and then assail anything, even a bear or a panther. A bull elk or bull moose, when on its guard, makes a most dangerous fight; but a single wolf will frequently master the cow of either animal, as well as domestic cattle and horses. In attacking such large game, however, the wolves like to act in concert, one springing at the animal’s head, and attracting its attention, while the other hamstrings it. Nevertheless, one such big wolf will kill an ordinary horse. A man I knew, who was engaged in packing into the Coeur d’Alenes, once witnessed such a feat on the part of a wolf.

But we still don’t have a real clear “line of demarcation” of where the bigger Canadian or timber wolf roamed historically during the early years. From what Roosevelt tells us, the wolves of both larger and smaller species do odd things from time to time and migrate great distances. He reports that wolves that normally are found in one area might show up for certain periods of time and then disappear.

If we refer back to the Smithsonian article, it states that they believe the range lines between wolf species is more of a natural boundary determined as much by where the wolf is at any one moment in time. Smithsonian even hints that the migration of the larger Canadian wolf into areas of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming could have been the result of the massive kill offs of the smaller “prairie” or “buffalo” wolf.

Further investigation finds that in the early 1800s, Dr. Richardson, traveling in many expeditions ranging from the upper plains and into Canada and west toward the Rocky Mountains, recorded his observations of wolves which I find is not contradictory to that of Teddy Roosevelt.

However his writings can’t give us a clear “line of demarcation” but it does support Roosevelt’s theory that the larger Canadian wolf was mostly found in Canada, the upper reaches of the Northern Rockies including the Upper Columbia River and areas north and west of the Upper Missouri River.

Dr. Richardson’s physical descriptions of the wolves he encountered mirrored those of Roosevelt. Richardson describes the majority of wolves found in his travels as being of the smaller variety, referred to as the prairie or brown wolf. In describing these very “common” wolves, Richardson recalls, “Their foot-marks may be seen by the side of every stream, ………They are very numerous on the sandy plains, which lying to the eastward of the Rocky Mountains, extend from the sources of the Peace and Saskatchewan Rivers towards the Missouri.

Richardson further describes these wolves as not having much interest in attacking larger animals and in actuality pay little attention to the men around them until man began killing them. He does however describe one instance in which he witnessed a single wolf take down a reindeer. Richardson in describing his expeditions said he ventured beyond 30 degrees of Latitude. In his recalling the lone wolf kill he says he was on “Barren-grounds through which the Coppermine River flows“. He describes the wolf as being large and white.

Dr. Charles E. Kay, Utah State University, offers us, “An Alternative Interpretation of the Historical Evidence Relating to the Abundance of Wolves in the Yellowstone Ecosystem”. In setting the tone for his presentation he says this:

The plan to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone is predicated, in part, by the premise that large numbers of wolves inhabited that ecosystem before the National Park Service eliminated them from the park. According to some, wolves were a relatively common sight in Yellowstone when it was declared the United States’ first national park in 1872. To test this assertion, I conducted a continuous-time analysis of first-person journals written by people who explored Yellowstone between 1835 and 1876. During that period, 20 different parties spent a total of 765 days traveling through the Yellowstone Ecosystem, yet no reliable observer reported seeing or killing a single wolf, and on only three occasions did explorers report hearing wolves howl. The available historic journals do not suggest that wolves were common in Yellowstone during the 1835-1876 period. Those same journals indicate that ungulates were also rarely encountered in the park. Bison were reportedly only seen three times (none of which were in the park) and elk were seen on only 42 occasions, or an average of one elk observation per party in 18 days. The fact that a number of parties broke into small groups and spread out to hunt makes these observation rates all the more meager. Moreover, while the explorers were in Yellowstone, their journals contained 45 references to a lack of game or a shortage of food. Historically, Yellowstone contained few ungulates, and accordingly, wolves were rare. An Aboriginal Overkill hypothesis is presented to account for the observed rarity of ungulates and wolves.

Dr. Kay further states in his conclusions that given the evidence available wolves were never common in Yellowstone history.

From this information, we then would have to wonder how far and wide did this lack of commonality of wolves and ungulates beyond the “Yellowstone Ecosystem” go? In the accounts shared above, none of the explorers specifically talked of the Yellowstone area and yet all related to us that wolves were very much a common site.

It might be safe to conclude that we really don’t know where the infamous “line of demarcation” Teddy Roosevelt spoke of, is. What we can conclude is that the “larger” wolf or Canadian wolf evolved into its characteristics in order to withstand the harsh environment. It appears their size became necessary to be able to kill the larger ungulates to survive. Roosevelt, Richardson and Smithsonian all elude to the fact that the smaller buffalo or prairie wolf was common everywhere, mostly south of the Canadian border and abundantly on the Great Plains. But they all indicate that the larger timber wolf was an animal everyone feared.

If it was such that the majority of areas where the Canadian gray wolf was artificially reintroduced never historically supported the larger wolf, and in the case of Dr. Kay’s assertion that no wolves were common in Yellowstone, we may be creating a huge disservice to our ecosystems. If the larger Canadian wolf was not prevalent in Central Idaho, Southwestern Montana and the Yellowstone area, logic would lead us to believe the habitat couldn’t support them.

With the hard work and tons of money put into restoring ungulate herds from past mismanagement, what are we doing that we are bringing in a wolf that might not even be native and letting it destroy our ungulate herds? It’s irresponsible insanity!

A common factor found in discussions from Roosevelt and Richardson is that both spoke readily about interbreeding of domestic dogs with wild wolves. Both Native American Indians and the white settlers used dogs for hunting. In dealing with wolves they looked to breed a dog that could stand up to the challenges of a wolf.

We also recently learned that black wolves are a result of interbreeding of domestic dogs with wolves, something that further supports the theory that few if any “native” wolves or “pure” wolves even exist. They will all interbreed and man-assisted inbreeding took place to produce hunting and fighting dogs.

In conclusion I think it’s important that we fully understand the history of the wolf in this country. If we are going to spend millions of dollars in attempts to protect and preserve species, we better make sure we are doing it right or we might just end up with a bigger mess than when we started.

I once discovered a friend of mine had dug up most of his large shrubbery around his house and discarded it in the nearby river. I asked him why he did that and he said he didn’t really think it would hurt anything. I told him my Daddy taught me many years ago that if it didn’t come from there, you have no business putting it there.

Tom Remington

Death By Wolves And Misleading Advocacy. The Kenton Carnegie Tragedy
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Reprinted with permission from the author.

On November 8th 2005 a 22-year-old honors and scholarship student in Geological Engineering, Kenton Joel Carnegie, from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, was killed in northern Saskatchewan by a pack of wolves. While he was almost certainly not the only victim of wolf predation in North America in the past century, judging from conversations with native people, and a closer review of case histories, this was the best-investigated case to date . In the process of that investigation matters were uncovered that need to be discussed as they have significant policy implications for wildlife conservation and human safety. However, we need to review what happened to Kenton Carnegie, as it is relevant to considerations following.

Mr. Carnegie was in a university co-op program that allowed students to gain hands-on experience from visits to mining operations. He was flown in to Points North Landing a mining camp close to Wollaston Lake in northern Saskatchewan. Bad weather delayed his return. On November the 4th, 2005, Todd Svarchopf, an experienced bush pilot and Chris Van Galder, a geophysicists, two of Kenton’s camp companions, had an encounter with two aggressive wolves on the airfield close to camp. The two young men beat back the attack, photograph the wolves and told everybody in camp. The incident was apparently belittled, even though two days before Kenton was killed, the young men were warned at a dinner at a local lodge by an experienced northerner, Bill Topping (a part-time car pilot, that is, a guide who leads heavy trucks through the labyrinth of dirt roads in northern Saskatchewan). He admired the pictures and told his guests that they are lucky to be alive!

In fall and early winter of 2005 at Point North Landing there was evidence for circumstances facilitating an attack on humans by wolves, followed by the predictable exploratory attack by wolves on November 4th. That is, the events leading to the death of Kenton Carnegie follow the pattern predicting attacks on humans as described for wolves and earlier for urban coyotes targeting children in parks. It is a pattern of increasing observations of and habituation to humans followed by boldness and attacks on pets and livestock, followed by closing in and testing humans with skirmishes prior to the fatal attack. Both species of canids explore alternative prey in much the same manner. Unfortunately, nobody recognized the growing danger . Moreover, how wolves target people was not a question asked by current wolf biologists, probably due to the overriding belief that wolves do not attack people. Four wolves at Points North Landing had begun feeding on camp refuse that fall and were habituating increasingly to human activities.

November 8th 2005, at about15:30 Kenton Carnegie notified Van Gelder that he was going for a walk along the lake and expected to return by 17:00. Kenton had gone to the west shore of Wollaston Lake before when going fishing. This area is isolated and not open to unauthorized traffic. At about 18:15, because Kenton failed to appear for dinner, Chris Van Galder and Todd Svarchopf search for him, but could not find him in camp. Todd saw Kenton’s tracks in the fresh snow leaving camp, but not returning. About 18:30. Chris and Todd and Mark Eikel, co-owner of the camp, drove out in a truck searching for Kenton. Fresh snow had fallen and the party followed the clear footprints, which head south from camp. Because of the fresh snow, the tracks were easy to follow (this accounts for the crisp foot-prints of wolves etc. as photographed the following mid-day by Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] Constable Alfonse Noey). Kenton’s tracks headed towards the shore of the Lake. When Eikel and companions encountered wolf tracks, they reversed, and headed back to camp for Eikel to get his rifle, a more powerful flashlight and a radio. (There were no domestic dogs at Point North Landing). The party then drove to a nearby cabin, thinking Kenton might be there, but found none of his footprints. They returned by truck to where they had left of and soon saw that Kenton’s footprints left the road and headed down a trail toward the lake. There were wolf tracks on the trail. Then they saw Kenton’s footprints doubling back, and found a concentration of wolf tracks. Mark Eikel shone about with the flashlight and saw what he thought was Kenton’s body. He ordered everybody back to the truck, not wanting the others to see the sight. (Neither Todd nor Chris saw Kenton’s body). On the way to camp Mark Eikel called on the radio Robert Dennis (Bob) Burseth an employee of the camp, a long-term resident of the north and an experienced hunter. (19:00 hours) Burseth realized something tragic had happened and contacted his wife Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth who is the local coroner at Wollaston Lake, and asked her to contact the RCMP. Next, Chris Van Galder called the RCMP from camp and the company office was notified. About 19:30 Eikel and Burseth returned by truck to check on Kenton. Eikel believed that Kenton was dead, but he wanted to make sure that his mind was not playing tricks on him and he wanted to get a second opinion. They parked the truck and walked down the ridge on the edge of the lake noting many wolf tracks. Mark Eikel shone with the flashlight and both could see Kenton’s body. They saw exposed flesh and ribs, from the belt up. The pants appeared to be on. Eikel and Burseth approached to within thirty feet. They stayed only a couple of minutes and returned to camp to await police and coroner, which arrived about 21:35 PM.

Neither Bob Burseth nor Mark Eikel returned to the body till they went there with RCMP constable Alfonse Noey and coroner Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth. Kenton’s body had been moved from where Mark Eikel and Bob Burseth had seen it some two hours earlier. The distance moved was about 20 yards. Officer Noey’s hand drawn map indicating the body was dragged 20 meters, a distance which he paced out the next day. (Wolves readily move their kills – even over a mile -as I can personally attest to having observed what they do with domestic sheep carcasses. That wolves move carcasses and human victims is well established in Eurasian experience. ). Much more of the body had been consumed (there was no clothing down to the knees). Asked by Constable Noey what had consumed the body, Burseth stated wolves. Asked by Constable Noey what kind of tracks Burseth had seen on location, Burseth replied that he had seen only wolf tracks. There had been four wolves running together about camp earlier (a black one, a white one and two gray-tan ones). The four had been seen on the runway (close to camp) on the day before, on the 7th of November. Burseth also saw three wolves running across the lake towards the kill site at about 7:45 AM on the morning following Kenton’s death, that is, on the 9th of November. Eikel confirmed that four wolves had been seen near the camp and garbage dumpsite.

About 21:50 Constable Noey and coroner Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth begin securing and inspecting the site. Constable Noey took the lead, and the coroner and Bob Burseth and Mark Eikel followed him in single file. (This minimizes disturbance to the original tracks). As Constable Noey approached the site of Kenton’s body he saw two wolves near the body (he refers to sighting these two wolves repeatedly in his report and in conversations with others). He discharged two rounds from his shotgun into the air to scare away the wolves from the body. Constable Noey noted many wolf tracks on the land and on the snow of the frozen lake. Constable Noey ordered Burseth and Eikel to remain on the trail, while he and the coroner went in to examine Kenton’s body. Eikel was instructed by Constable Noey to discharge his rifle into the air, as the wolves could be heard in the bushes near to the body. Bob Buresth made a fire on the trail certain it would keep the wolves away.

Constable Noey and Mrs. Tsannie-Burseth examined and photographed the body and surroundings for 40-45 minutes. Then Constable Noey called Constable Marion on a satellite phone and advised him of the condition of the body, and of the wolves in the area, at which point Constable Marion authorized the removal of Kenton’s body and the return of the party to Points North Landing. With the assistance of Eikel and Burseth, the coroner and Constable Noey placed Kenton’s body into a body bag, which was tagged by Constable Noey with time and date. At that time Constable Noey discovered that his GPS unite was missing, and searched the immediate area of the last resting site (disturbing site – after the fact!). He instructed Eikel to insure that nobody be allowed to enter the area and was assured by Eikel that only CAMECO employees may use the road between their mine (Cigar Lake Mine) and the Points North Landing, and that they have been instructed not to get out of their vehicles close to the camp. Constable Noey next took down witness statements.

On the following day, November 9th 2005, at 13:00-14:14 Constable Noey, coroner Tsannie-Burseth and Bob Burseth attended again to the scene in daylight taking pictures, and analyzed the scene. Here are their joint results as summarized in the report by constable Noey.

1. The footprints of Kenton heading south were followed by a wolf who stepped into Kenton’s footprints (this wolf had thus cut off Kenton from the camp, as the two wolves had tried to do on November the 4th with Chris and Todd). Constable Noey surmised that this wolf was following and possibly stalking Kenton.
2. Constable Noey followed Kenton’s footprint south past the kill site, which went for a distance of about 60-80 meters (undisturbed by previous day’s activities). Here Kenton was on the shoreline. Noey surmised that Kenton, at this point in sight of the camp, may have been trying to get somebody’s attention at the camp as there was a clear line of sight to the camp.
3. At this point more wolf tracks converged on where Kenton stood, so the report by Constable Noey. The wolf tracks were coming from the south along the lakeshore. (Several wolves approached from the south while one wolf approached Kenton from the north. That looks like a hunting strategy executed by the wolves. Since several wolves approached Kenton from the south, and one wolf from the north, there must have been more than 2 wolves involved. He was thus killed by at least three wolves and possibly by all four!)
4. Here Kenton’s footprints turned back towards the road (that is up the trail, heading north toward the camp).
5. From here it is 10-20 m along the trail before the snow is disturbed, indicating an altercation. Constable Noey noted that the snow was disturbed as if somebody was rolling in the snow.
6. Footprints now head across the trail a little way into the muskeg-shrub. The footprints indicate that Kenton was running. He was half on trail, half on muskeg. There was a lot of disturbance of the snow.
7. From here it is a short distance north to the kill site, where the body was first discovered along with pieces of clothing. When seen a second time the body had been dragged about 20 yds.
8. In between were two sites where the tracks indicated that Kenton stood and shed a lot of blood. (Photos indicate considerable blood loss). A third place indicates he stood and dripped blood. The search party found the body there.

Constable Noey photographed till the battery of his camera gave out and collected all clothing pieces not found previously.

14:31 Constable Noey received a CD with photos of Van Galder and Svarchopf interacting with two wolves on the previous Friday, November 4th from Christy Oysteryk, and expresses surprise that neither had informed him of that attack. (In short, this attack by wolves, which the two young men were able to beat off – and photograph – was belittled. It was only post hoc, after Kenton’s death that the scary significance of that attack did sink in).

Two Conservation Officers from the Saskatchewan game department (SERM), Kelly Crayne and Mario Gaudet, arrived on the 10th in order to do their investigation. They stated in their report: “Officers investigated the site and found numerous wolf tracks in the area. No other large animal tracks could be found.”

In the light of what was to follow it is important to examine the nature and qualifications at tracking of the eight witnesses who were on the scene after Kenton was killed.

Mrs. Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth is not only the coroner for Walloston Lake, but also the Chief of the Hatchet Lake Band, and the Director of Education. She has three university degrees, is working on her doctorate in sociology, and has a long career in the public service. She grew up in the northern bush when her family was still nomadic and fully dependent on their skills at hunting, fishing and trapping, and was tutored by her father in tracking. This articulate, humorous grandmother still goes hunting.

RCMP Constable Alfonse Noey is, like Chief Tsannie-Burseth, a native, a hunter and a long-standing northern resident. (He produced a detailed report, based on his and Mrs Tsannie- Burseth’s on the spot investigations, as well as questioning all witnesses to the scene).

Robert Dennis (Bob) Burseth, employee at Points North Landing, has 17 years of experience in the region. He is married to the local coroner and chief Mrs. Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth. He is an avid hunter. (He killed the two wolves (at the dump) after Kenton’s attack. Shoots the bears that become a nuisance at the camp).

Todd Svarchopf, Aviation Officer and well-known bush pilot, employee of Sanders Geophysics, Ottawa, working out of camp. (He testified at the coroner’s inquiry that he had warned Kenton against going out).

Mark Eikel, the co-owner of the camp, Points North Landing, is an experienced outdoorsman and hunter. He shot the third wolf (250 – 300 yards away) after Kenton’s attack. (He claimed he would have seen a bear if it had been in the area. None had been seen for at least a month (inquiry testimony).

Chris Van Galder, geophysicist, employee of Sanders Geophysics, Ottawa, working out of the camp.

Kelly Crayne and Mario Gaudet, Conservation Officers, also examine the site on November 10th 2005. (Any black bear moving in or out of the site of Kenton’s body would have been detected in the crisp snow by these men).

Please note: the tracks and signs at the scene were thus examined by two senior native persons highly experiences in tracking, by two experienced northern hunters, by two conservation officers, by a seasoned bush pilot, and a highly trained physical scientist. Svarchopf, Van Galder and Eikel, who were first on the scene, identified only wolf tracks. They were vindicated by Bob Burseth, as he insisted that he saw only wolf tracks. He in turn was vindicated by RCMP constable Noey and coroner Tsannie-Burseth, who not only saw only wolf tracks at the site, but also saw and heard wolves so close to Kenton’s body, that Constable Noey fired his shotgun twice to spook the wolves away and asked Mark Eikel to discharge his rifle. Conservation officers Crayne and Gaudet also saw only wolf tracks. In addition, constable Noey and coroner Tsannie-Burseth, not merely identified wolves as the killers of Kenton Carnegie, but deciphered the track pattern left by wolves, showing a classic hunt pattern by wolves. The wolf pack had split and the wolves approached their prey from the back as well as from the front, cutting off any possible retreat. They documented multiple attacks and a progression of the victim to final collapse. Moreover, four wolves had been for weeks habituating to camp activity, ran in anticipation towards garbage disposal units and tore apart plastic garbage bags in the presence of humans, observed humans and staged an unsuccessful attack on two camp residents four days before they killed Kenton Carnegie.

Then came a surprise: The Saskatchewan coroner asked for the case to be re-examined by scientists, Drs. Paul Paquet, a wolf researcher, and Professor Ernest G. Walker of the University of Saskatchewan. Before their confidential report was submitted, Paquet informed the popular news media that he recognized immediately that a black bear had killed Carnegie. In pp. 29-30 of National Wildlife, February/March 2007 edition in an article entitled “Sexy Beasts” by Paul Tolmé we read: “Wolves remain a bogeyman today, as illustrated by the death of a Canadian man in 2005. When Kenton Carnegie’s mangled corpse was discovered near a remote Saskatchewan mining camp of Points North Landing, the Royal Canadian Mounted police immediately blamed wolves. The story made headlines around the world. But when noted wolf biologist Paul Paquet of the World Wildlife Fund investigated, he recognized immediately that a black bear killed Carnegie. “The problem was bias right from the start,” Paquet says. “When I looked at the photos, I immediately saw bear tracks,” Paquet says.” The National Geographic Society sent a team to film and re-enact Kenton’s death. Dr. Paquet acted as consultant. (Kenton’s parents were so upset by the resulting “documentary” that they wrote a letter of protest to the Society. Mrs. Tsannie-Burseth told me that she was upset and offended by the manner the camera and interview crew of the National Geographic had treated her. She told me she tried to speak to Paul Paquet at the inquest, but that he would not speak with here or even make eye contact with her). Victims of wildlife tragedies in North America tend to be blamed for the event , and it was not different in Kenton’s case. It greatly upset Kenton’s family, as did the brazen whitewash of wolves that could not only mislead the public, but also the judiciary. Distraught by the treatment they had received and the mis-attributions to their son, Kenton’s parents turned to four scientists and asked them to do independent investigations. Three agreed: Mark McNay ,a senior biologist from Alaska, Brent Patterson, as seasoned scientist from Ontario with considerable wolf experience, and the third was myself. All three wrote reports concluding that Paquet’s claim that a bear had killed Kenton Carnegie was untenable, and that wolves had killed Kenton Carnegie.

Paquet claimed the eyewitness accounts were unreliable and biased, an unsupported claim contrary to all evidence.

Paquet examining the photos of the site as photographed by RCMP constable Noey, mistook the tracks of wolves heading across an overflow on the lake ice (where the wolves stepped through a thin layer of snow resting on water, and which consequently distorted their tracks) as bear tracks. McNay and myself used colleagues highly experienced with wolves (he from Alaska, I from Finland) to double check on our identifications. All concluded that the tracks in question as photographed by constable Noey were wolf tracks, and McNay demonstrated that the pattern of the distorted tracks on the overflow were of a regular canid trotting pattern, and quite different from the track patterns left by bears. That is, three independent peer reviews confirmed what the eight eyewitnesses on the site had observed.

Paquet claimed that a number of forensic signs identified the responsible predator as bear. These were that:
(a) wolves do not drag their prey from the kill site but consume such in situ. Yet Kenton’s body, he claimed, had been dragged some 50 paces (In North America the experience of wolf biologists studying free-living wolves in wilderness areas is that wolves feed on their prey in situ. In my personal experience here with wolves killing my neighbor’s sheep is that they always move their kills into cover, up to about one mile from the sheep pasture. The European accounts of how wolves deal with prey, livestock and humans included, is that they carry or drag such into cover away from where they attacked the prey close to human habitations . The resolution of what appears as opposites is quite simple: wolves, undisturbed, consume their kill at the kill site. Wolves, disturbed or close to danger, move their kill. And that’s what happened in the Kenton Carnegie’s case. The wolves fed at the kill site till they were disturbed by the first search party. When the second party arrived, the wolves had dragged Kenton’s body about 20 m – not 50 m.).
(b) Paul Paquet is quoted in the National Wildlife article p. 30 “The clothes and skin been stripped away, indicating the so-called banana-peel eating technique common to bears”). (How could Paquet know that? How many clothed human bodies handled by wolves have been available for examination in North America? Moreover, he ignored that the four wolves in question had plenty of experience ripping apart and peeling back the plastic of plastic garbage bags, saturated with human smell, in order to reach discarded camp food).
(c) The wolves had not consumed the victim’s liver and heart, which is also very uncharacteristic of wolves. I quote from National Wildlife: “Carnegie’s heart and liver -”the most desirable morsel for wolves” Paquet says – were left intact”. (Internal organs had been consumed – namely the ones surrounded by fat. And that fits with my own observations how wolves, disrupted by approaching humans, “scheduled” their feeding on sheep they killed: fat first. Paquet did not take into account that the wolves had been disturbed twice and were not able to finish with the corps. Furthermore, on p. 48 of Will Grave’s book on the Russian experience with wolves a Russian scientist reports that wolves, in feeding on a freshly killed moose, the heart, lungs and liver had not been touched. Dr. Kaarlo Nygren from Finland made similar findings.

However, ALL forensic signs of a “bear” presume that the bear was standing or moving in about 1.5 inches of fresh snow. For instance, if a bear peeled away the clothing, then the bear must have had his paws on the ground in the snow. Also, the bear must have moved in on the kill site, leaving tracks, dragged the body, leaving tracks, ran way when the first search party arrived, leaving track, returned to the carcass, leaving tracks, and left again when the second party arrived – again leaving tracks. And he would have done so all on land. There would have been massive bear track sign of multiple entries and exits and massive trampling around the body.

There were no bear tracks!

My Finnish colleagues, spontaneously, identified a lonely fox track beside the abundant wolf tracks.

If they found the track of a fox, would they have missed the tracks of a bear?

All the forensic sign pointing to “bear”, as proclaimed by Paquet, are thus misidentifications, as the only bear that could have left such signs at the site of the tragedy must have been suspended in mid-air, as none of his paws reached the telltale snow. Furthermore, Paquet’s repeated insistence that his approach alone was in the spirit and methodology of science, and was supported by superior experience, has demonstrably no basis, as shown by three peer reviews and the coroner’s inquest.

Moreover, Paquet failed to notice that the wolves involved were not merely habituating, but were targeting people as prey. Wolves do this in the very same manner as coyotes do in urban parks when targeting children. Both canids explore humans very cautiously and over a protracted time period before mounting the first, exploratory attack, which two wolves had done four days before Kenton’s death. Ironically, while coyote biologists recognized that the smaller coyote will target people as prey, those studying free living wolves were denying that wolves were a danger to people. While the behavior of wolves thus signaled a disaster waiting to happen, nobody recognized it as such even after the failed wolf attack on Van Gelder and Swarchopf four days prior to the attack on Kenton. The belief in the harmlessness of wolves was that firmly entrenched.

The coroner ruled that only one expert witness would be allowed to testify on behalf of the Carnegies’ and chose Mark McNay. After listening to eyewitnesses at the scene, to Paul Paquet and the presentation by Mark McNay, the six-person jury rejected Paquet’s presentation, unanimously, despite his being assisted by counsel. The jury ruled that the cause of Kenton Carnegie’s death were wolves.

1 There have been other victims such as five-year-old Marc Leblond, killed Sept. 24, 1963 north of Baie-Comeau, Quebec Gerard McNebel, Noember 18th, 1963, Winnipeg Free Press, p. 12.
2 The following draft of a paper on wildlife habituation I presented at a symposium entitled “Wildlife Habituation: Advances in Understanding and Management Application”. by The Wildlife Society in Madison, Wisconsin on Sept. 27th 2005. Due to personal circumstances I was not able to finish this paper for publication. It is entitled: Habituation of wildlife to humans: research tool, key to naturalistic recording and common curse for wildlife and hapless humans. I published the relevant excerpt on wolves as Appendix B pp. 195-197 in Will N. Graves 2007 Wolves in Russia. AnxietyTthrough the Ages.(edited by V. Geist). Detselig, Calgary.

3 Baker, R. O. and R. M. Timm 1998. Management of conflict between urban coyotes and humans in southern California. Pp. 229-312 in R. O. Baker and A. c. Crabb eds. Proc. 18th Vertebrate Pest Conference, University of California, Davis).

4 The advocacy in favor of the “benign wolf” hypothesis is so powerful, that the better educated the persons, the more likely it seems that they are to become true believers and endanger themselves. So far exceptionally well-educated people have become victims of lethal attacks. Kenton Carnegie is not the only victim of the “harmless wolf hypothesis”. So was 24-year-old Wildlife Biologist, Trisha Wyman, who was killed on April 18th 1996 by a captive wolf pack in Ontario. I had a long phone conversation with Dr. Erich Klinghammer of Wolf Park. He was called in as an expert witness to examine the Wyman case, and discovered quickly that there was great surprise at her death, as wolves are not supposed to attack people. Ms Wyman had visited the park previously and spent some time studying the wolves. She was given the dream job of looking after and interpreting the wolves. She lasted three days! She and the people surrounding here, just like Kenton and the people surrounding him, were imbued by the myth of the “harmless wolves” as advocated by North American wolf specialists in the late 50’s and 60’s. Keepers of wolf packs can inform themselves by turning to the people running Wolf Park. These have been researching wolves for decades and have detailed advice on how to handle captive wolves and wolf-dog hybrids. They would have been quickly disabused of any naïve faith in conventional, but mis-presented science about harmless wolves.

5 See pp. 87-104. chapter six in Graves (2007) ibid.
6 James Gary Shelton 1998 Bear Attacks. Pogany Productions, Hagensborg, BC. Shelton makes a point of how viciously victims of predatory attacks have been pursued and maligned in Canada and the US by enumerating such in some detail.
7 Will Graves 2007 chapter six. ibid
8 in an e-mail of March 28, 2007 Dr. Nygren wrote to me: “They (the wolf pack) ate one ear and tip of the tongue when waiting for their turn in the abdominal cavity. The fore-stomachs were left largely untouched until almost all the good stuff was taken from the intestines. So did the liver, heart and lungs. They were taken out almost ten hours later when all the pups and their mother were lying flat around the place with their stomachs full. Then, almost in the midnight, the male came in starting to rip the carcass in pieces. A bite and a kilogram or two. He ate as much as he pleased, then pulled out the liver, ate some of it and dropped. Soon, he started to walk towards the sleepy pups who immediately jumped up and hurried to meet him with cheerful faces, tails wagging and showing submissive gestures. They looked funny with their round bellies and saw-buck like appearance. A roundish white spot cranially from their thighs on the belly coat had appeared and was visible even in the dim light of autumn. This seems to be a good visual sign of a well-fed wolf. When they poked the father’s lips with their noses, he threw up everything what was in his stomach. The pups immediately ate up it. and returned to their beds. The male walked back to work, filled his stomach and did the feeding procedure several times. He seemed to have a pet among the pups. It was the smallest, a female always chased out first by the mother and siblings. The female never fed the pups like the father. In the next morning, the flesh of the prey was practically stripped off with bare bones protruding and some legs completely cut off the carcass. So, the fat reserves seemed to be the preferred bits, not the liver, heart and lungs. We have seen the same many times in the field. Guts first. Even the dogs are usually first opened from the belly and the abdominal cavity emptied. I have seen many dogs cut in two around the diaphragm, caudal halve eaten completely or transported somewhere. Heart and lungs are, in many case, were left inside the breast cavity”.
9 Baker, R. O. and R. M. Timm 1998. Management of conflict between urban coyotes and humans in southern California. Pp. 229-312 in R. O. Baker and A. c. Crabb eds. Proc. 18th Vertebrate Pest Conference, University of California, Davis).

Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, The University of Calgary
Calgary, Canada.
V. Geist
Ph/fax: 250-723-7436
e-mail: kendulf@shaw.ca

Draft April 22nd, 2008.

Essay no. 2. Fair Chase

Myths Of Wolf Behavior
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*Update* December 29, 2008, 3:40 p.m. – Below I reference the work of Dr. Valerius Geist, “The Dangers of Wolves“. This link will take you to the entire writing in reference – with permission.

On this very website and plastered all across various media, you can read story after story of what did or did not kill a human victim in the outdoors. Whenever it is parleyed to the public about the attack of lets say a bear or wolf, it is generally accompanied with poor information that misleads. Sometimes this parleying of incorrect animal behavior is intentional but mostly it is only the passing on of unsubstantiated conclusions picked up by the press and individuals and passed on. Over time it is assumed to be accurate and we well know that very few will ever go beyond the popular talking points to dig up the truth or at least find opposing information.

While this much repeated rhetoric about wolves and wolf behavior seems to pacify most, the dangers in repeating the mantra become obvious. Wolf lovers want us to believe that the animal is harmless, shy, reclusive and a necessary function in our ecosystems. Wolf haters want them all killed because they are a vicious predator that kills whatever is in its sights.

What never gets passed on is the truth as it is being discovered about wolf behavior. The difficulty in doing that become twofold. First, we have been programmed through repeated myths that we all have to accept what is mostly written. Secondly, people don’t want to hear the truth or anything that might run contrary to what they have chosen to believe. Often times that choice is taken as a means of forcing ourselves to feel better about the wolf and focus only the animals beauty, cunning and adaptability, placing it on an undeserving pedestal as being top dog, often above that of humans and almost god like.

One myth that gets perpetuated in every news and magazine article about wolves attacking humans is that it never or rarely happens, followed by some random number of how many times someone has been attacked in North America or around the world. It’s easy to pass on something having been repeated for decades. It takes work to dig up the truth.

Yesterday I was reading a piece written by Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada. The article (Valerius Geist, 2008. Commentary. The Danger of Wolves. Wildlife Professional Vol 2, No. 4 pp. 34-35. Winter 2008 edition), titled “Who or What Killed Kenton Carnegie?”, exposes us to not only the court case that decided that it was wolves that killed him but why wolves killed Kenton Carnegie.

I first wrote about Carnegie’s tragic death back in January of 2006. As Dr. Geist points out in his writing, “Victims of wildlife tragedies in North America tend to be blamed for the event.”

We either choose to deny a wolf would attack and kill a human or in some cases, it’s all about just protecting the wolf and preserving it in what is often described as a “Disneyesque”.

It took a court hearing to finally decide that it were wolves that killed Kenton Carnegie. This has been supported by good science and yet people still claim bears killed him and wolves ate the free meal. Dr. Geist was part of a three-man team of scientists asked to investigate the attack.

They thus asked three scientists to look independently into the matter. One was Alaska biologist Mark McNay, the other was Brent Patterson of Ontario, the other was myself.

I would suppose that if we could turn our focus away from whether or not it were wolves that killed Carnegie and put it on why would wolves do this, then perhaps those willing to open their minds could better understand that what happened is not as “freak” an incident as some think.

Perpetuating myths such as “harmless wolves”, Geist describes as “well-established modern dogma. It is deadly!” Last January I published here at the Black Bear Blog, another work of Dr. Geist’s, “When Do Wolves Become Dangerous to Humans”, in which Dr. Geist tells us of the seven stages that lead up to a wolf attack on a human.

As part of the necessary understanding of wolf behavior, there is more to it than grabbing a clipboard and heading out to Yellowstone National Park and writing down what you see. There can be substantial differences in just culture as Dr. Geist points out.

How could one uphold the view that wolves are harmless to people, despite centuries of recorded experience to the contrary in Russia , Finland , Scandinavia, Germany , India , Afghanistan , Korea , central Asia, Turkey , Iran , France or Greenland ? In the first instance, the overwhelming experience in North America is that wolves are very shy, difficult to see creatures that avoid people. The causes of such were normally not investigated, although some authors pointed to the facts that wolves were very much prosecuted and thus rare in 20th century North America, and that North Americans are usually armed and quickly eliminated troublesome wolves. Moreover, the killing of wolves in rural settings is not newsworthy, as I can attest to from personal experience . It is thus very difficult from North American accounts to decipher the conditions when wolves are dangerous to people and when they are not.

Where did we get the myth that only sick and rabid wolves will bother people?

What about Eurasian wolves? Are they different, and is their behavior thus irrelevant to an understanding of North American wolves? Or are the accounts of wolf attacks on people exaggerated and untrustworthy, and the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale by the brothers Grimm based on misunderstanding, ignorance and exaggerated fears? A respected Canadian biologist, Dr. C. H. Doug Clarke, decided to investigate . He concluded that the killing of people by wolves in Europe was real, but that rabid wolves caused all the attacks. In exonerating healthy wolves, Clarke fell back on his experience with shy Canadian continental wilderness wolves, an experience much as my own and shared by others. One can trace the origin of the “harmless wolf myth” to him . And yet Clark erred! He failed to notice the distinction in behavior between attacks by rabid and by non-rabid wolves. There are differences!

It is difficult, at best, to put much credibility in the lack of reported wolf attacks over the centuries worldwide. Dr. Geist says that these reports are not scientific data and, “are usually reports by witnesses as recorded second hand by the police, priests, doctors and county clerks.” He says it then becomes the job of scientists to employ the help of historians to “locate, verify, clarify and place into perspective”. The scientist can then put together patterns and trends. This isn’t being done.

Dr. Geist explains the conditions under which humans and wolves can coexist.

The historical and current evidence indicates that one can live with wolves where such are severely limited in numbers on an ongoing basis, so that there is continually a buffer of wild prey and livestock between wolves and humans, with an ongoing removal of all wolves habituating to people. The current notion that wolves can be made to co-exist with people in settled landscapes (in multi-use landscapes surrounding houses, farms, villages and cities) is not tenable. Under such conditions wolves becoming territorial will confront people when such walk dogs or approach wolf-killed livestock. In addition even well fed habituated wolves will test people by approaching such, initially nipping at their clothing and licking exposed skin, before mounting a clumsy first attack that may leave victims alive but injured, followed by serious attacks.

If you will take notice of how Dr. Geist describes the behavior of well fed wolves “testing” humans as part of their learning curve. If you will recall, last week I posted a story with links about two men who were elk hunting in Montana. One hunter who was from S. Carolina, after returning home, decided to call Montana officials and report that while hunting they were “approached” by a pack of wolves.

The circumstances of the story have led some to believe the hunters were lying about what happened. If you pay attention to how one hunter described what happened and compare it to what Dr. Geist has learned about wolf behavior, you would have to conclude that either the man has read Dr. Geist or perhaps it really did happen. Here’s what he described.

“They circled around us, and doggone if they didn’t cut us off. There was a dark one right in the trail about 40 feet in front of us,” Habel said. “John could have had a spine shot but decided not to take it because of the bear. I couldn’t shoot because John was in front of me and my barrel was too close. I couldn’t jeopardize the boy. Then things happened fast.”

“I could hear others, and then we heard this sound; they were sniffing us out, straining their lungs. It’s a crazy sound. And then that sound rippled up the hill. Then they started barking and all hell broke loose and they charged us,”

As much credit as some people give wolves on their intelligence, agility, craftiness and natural abilities to formulate and carry out a kill, this sounds like what Dr. Geist described as a “clumsy first attack”.

What would change if we were willing to admit that wolves will attack and kill humans? Wolf protectors fear that such an admission would immediately set off a chain of events that would result in the mass killing of the animal. That assumption is quite far fetched in my opinion.

What would change is that we could begin a campaign to educate people about real wolf behavior. Arming people with factual information is far better than telling them something that is not true and then hope for the best.

As better studies are conducted that now refute many of the old accounts, records and books of wolves, it is irresponsible not to let people know the truth about wolf behavior. It could save a life.

Did Kenton Carnegie know that he was in danger of being attacked and killed by wolves. I don’t know but my guess is he didn’t understand the stages, as Dr. Geist describes, that wolves will take before attacking.

At Points North Landing in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada where Carnegie was killed, just days prior to his death, two other people had been attacked by wolves. Dr. Geist says it was unfortunate that nobody recognized the behavior as that leading to an all out attack on another human being.

Tom Remington

Protecting Wildlife Migration Corridors
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Just what in God’s name does that mean? Check out this map and hope you aren’t located in the middle of one of these “migration corridors”!

In 2007, the Western Governors’ Association, approved their resolution, “Protecting Wildlife Migration Corridors and Crucial Wildlife Habitat in the West”. Here’s the pdf version found on the WGA website.

Large intact and functioning ecosystems, healthy fish and wildlife populations, and abundant public access to natural landscapes are a significant contributing factor to the West’s economic and in-migration boom as well as quality of life. Critical wildlife migration corridors and crucial wildlife habitats are necessary to maintain flourishing wildlife populations.

Sounds wonderful to me! But maybe not so wonderful if you happen to be in one of these designated “wildlife corridors”. It also sounds like for hunters and fishermen, this should guarantee access to land and opportunities to hunt and fish forever. Ummmm……maybe not! Better look more closely.

After approving the resolution, the group set out to write “The Western Governors’ Association Wildlife Corridors Initiative”. This more precisely spells out for us about these wildlife corridors and how they are going to “maintain flourishing wildlife populations” among other promises. Here’s the pdf version of the 142-page “Wildlife Corridors Initiative”. The “Initiative” was approved this past June.

Who better suited to decide how wildlife corridors and what can and cannot be done with land designated as “protected” wildlife corridors than groups representing the five following fields? Gas and Oil, Energy, Transportation Infrastructure, land use and climate change. I guess they got all their bases covered, especially when it comes to us scum-of-the-earth hunters and fishermen.

If you want to get a head start reading about this movement, masquerading as a “save the wildlife” group, go ahead and download the reports and read them for yourself. If you don’t want to do that, I have another idea for you.

Some of you have probably heard me speak of my friend George Dovel in Idaho. George is the editor of his highly successful print magazine, “The Outdoorsman”. George promises in the next issue he is going to delve into this fiasco and I’ll guarantee it will be good. George asks his readers, “if they can handle the truth?”

So, here’s what you need to do. Click on this link and you’ll find a printable subscription application for your own one-year subscription to The Outdoorsman. The cost is $20.00 for one year. It’ll be the best $20.00 you’ll spend this year.

The form is very short. All you need to do is print it out, fill it out and send it, along with $20.00 to The Outdoorsman. I get my copy on a regular basis and I have never learned so much as what I have gotten from this publication.

Don’t think it’s just for Idaho and western readers either. George covers a multitude of subjects and even the ones that focus on local issues, could be written about anyone’s state.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Tom Remington

Family of Man Killed by Wolves Still Awaiting Autopsy Results
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Back in January, I brought you the story of a young man named Kenton Carnegie working through his college on a project near Points Landing, Saskatchewan, Canada. It is believed through evidence at the scene that Carnegia was attacked and killed by wolves.

It has been four months now and still the family is waiting for the results from the Canadian government’s official coroner. It is those results that make the cause of death official and the family is waiting in hopes that the results will help to force some changes to be made in the area where Carnegie was killed.

One of the issues is a local dump site that is unregulated and locals there say the wolves find the dump an easy feeding ground which brings humans and wolves into contact with each other.

One would think four months is ample time to get results from an autopsy. If it is proven true that Carnegie’s death was the result of wolf attacks, it would be the first time in North America that someones was killed by wolves in a natural habitat situation.

Tom Remington

Wolves Likely Killed an Ontario Man
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An Ontario, Canada man, 22-year-old Kenton Joel Carnegie, a third-year geological engineering student at the University of Waterloo, had been working at Points North Landing as part of his fall term co-op program. Officials believe he was attacked and killed by two gray wolves near Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan. The two wolves were shot and killed and tests are being done to determine if these two wolves killed Carnegie.

This will add fuel to the debate about the gray wolves re-introduction back into the United States. Although officials state that wolves killing humans is extremely rare, no one disputes the fact that human – wolf encounters are on the rise in the U.S. and livestock and pets are being killed more and more by the wolves.

Wisconsin is one state where the management goals of gray wolves has been exceeded and there’s not much that state officials can do because the wolf is protected federally by the endangered species act.

This article sheds more light on what is going on in Wisconsin concerning the gray wolves and also talks about the death of Carnegie.

gray wolf
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Previous blogs on the subject of wolves here and here.

Tom Remington

Infolinks 2013