A recent Montana State University study indicates that not only do wolves killing elk directly reduce populations of elk but just their presence is causing substantial weight loss and also results in very low calf survival/recruitment.

Obviously, wolves kill elk, and direct predation is responsible for much of the decline in elk numbers, but the rate of direct killing is not great enough to account for the elk population declines observed since 1995 in the Northern Range, the Gallatin Canyon, and the Madison-Firehole herds, all well-colonized by Yellowstone wolves. In addition to direct predation, the decline is due to low calving rates, which are a subtle but important effect of the wolves’ presence, Creel said.

Tom Remington