About Them Thair Wolves...

Canadian wolves discuss dinner in a foreign land.
Canadian wolves discuss dinner in a foreign land.

I don't hate wolves. People who talk to me on the matter, may think otherwise, but its just not true.

I was heavily involved in the politics of wolf restoration in Idaho back in 1994-95 when Wolf Re-introduction was first set on the table. In my own way I was a lone wolf on a two-sided issue, with a third side no one wanted to hear. The two-sided issue was simple. Pro-wolf versus No Wolf. At the time the proposal was to bring several hundred breeding pairs of Canadian wolfs from Canada and place them in Idaho's 64 million acre wilderness area. Naturally, you had folks who were frothing at the mouth to bring them-there wolves to Idaho, and you had folks who were frothing at the mouth to stop them-there wolves from stepping foot into Idaho.

I confess. I was on the "No-Wolf" side of the argument as were most of Idahoan’s who work and live off the land. There were many valid “No-Wolf” concerns which now some 16 years later have proven to be very accurate. Idaho has virtually no more elk and the deer are equally as scarce; and, the wolves take down a number of cattle and sheep every year too.

So what is the third-side of the Idaho wolf argument? In a room full of heated debate I stood up and said, "what about the Native Idaho Wolf that is already here? If you people want to save wolves so bad, why don't you fight to restore the endangered, Native Idaho Wolf?" In my mind this was a win-win situation. Wolf folks would have something to rally behind to save, and hunters and ranchers didn’t have to worry about a critter decimating deer, elk and livestock herds.

Suddenly, I was public enemy number one on both sides of the fence. I might as well told them to fight to save "Big Foot." Neither side wanted to comment or acknowledge anything to do with the native Idaho wolf. They didn’t see the win-win proposal in the suggestion. One pro-wolf environmentalist began yelling that there was no such thing. I handed him photographs I took of "no-such thing" one day near one of my favorite mountain lakes... in Idaho. The photograph showed three Rocky Mountain Wolves (canis lupis irremotus) that were obviously 40 - 60 pounds smaller than the proposed Canadian Grey Timber Wolf, (canis lupis occidentalis). There is even a chance the animals in the photo are something along the lines of Canis rufus, a wolf-coyote mix that has developed into its own species, however, no "ologist" or environmentalist seem to give the matter two seconds of thought.

(Issues like this are one of my primary complaints about environmentalists and why I consider so many of them to be "arm-chair.” Many have a scripted view of nature from childhood movies like Disney's Pocahontas. They only choose environmental issues that come down from the throne of long-term political benefit to their party. Any environmental solution that doesn't lead to some kind of freedom stealing, or economy-destroying law, they seem to violently oppose and/or conveniently ignore.)

Back at the meeting...

This person began yelling about how they wanted to "restore" the wolf with this "re-introduction" plan. I asked him again, "then why can't we work to save our native wolf? This is not a re-introduction being proposed here, the Canadian Grey wolf is not native to this area and has never lived here naturally or otherwise. What you are proposing is a human introduced invasive species to a non-native environment all in the name of 'environmental restoration'. These native wolves exist. They are small in number but they are out there and they are close to endangered levels. The Canadian wolf is a non-native species and will quite possibly kill the remaining native wolves to eliminate the competition."

Canis lupis irremotus, weighs 40-60 pounds less than the Canadian Wolf, canis lupis occidentalis.
Canis lupis irremotus, weighs 40-60 pounds less than the Canadian Wolf, canis lupis occidentalis.

Whether or not the native Idaho wolf was at endangered levels is an empirical-estimation. You almost never see them in the wild. Aside from a few state fish and game officers who have also seen them around, the State of Idaho seems to deny their existence. I grew up in the mountains, I have seen them on more than one occasion. I know others who have too.

The room was quiet for a few seconds when the forum leaders reverted back to the original discussion and moved past everything I had just said, as if I hadn't said anything at all. I was in complete disbelief.

My last effort on the matter was at a statehouse rally. I showed up with a sign that said:

“Save Idaho's Native Wolf

Say No to Canadian Wolves!"

I stood off to the front and left, facing the crowd of pro-wolf folks. I didn't want to get lost in their crowd, and I wanted them-there wolf-lovers to see my sign. I got a lot of nasty jeers, but no legitimate inquiry or conversation.

The Idaho wolf picture is now clear. The Idaho Native wolf is and was not hard on ungulate-herds. However, the Canadian Wolf is. Prior to Canadian Wolf introduction, Idaho elk counts were high in various elk habitat districts. Today, those districts are reporting between 82%-85% losses in herd numbers.

Ed Bangs, Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is quoted as saying, “The wolves are here to stay. It doesn’t matter if they eat every damn last elk. Live with it .”

The pro-wolf crowd argues that the only reason the no-wolf crowd doesn’t want wolves is so they can hunt the deer and the elk for themselves without the competition. And as an avid elk hunter, I confess this to be true in regards to myself, I cannot speak for others. However, in contrast, after 16 years of wolf “re-introduction” elk herds have diminished across the state up to 85%. I think a valid point here is hunters did not diminish elk herds 85% before the wolves were introduced. In fact many hunter supported programs helped increase the herds.

It is no different than Ducks Unlimited. The organization is filled with duck hunters, however, they are also responsible for brining back skies black with waterfowl from their contributions and conservation efforts. By 1930 some American duck populations were on the verge of extinction. Groups like Ducks Unlimited brought these populations back to healthy levels. So who is really the environmentalist here?

I remember seeing the Idaho Native Wolf as if it were yesterday. It was a fabulous experience.

However, environmental politics in the name of saving wolves has sealed its fate and I wonder if I will ever see one again. I reckon I will not.

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14 comments

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Harlan great post and sadly to say I agree with you, I am a Canadian and being a former over the road driver, I have witnessed Moose and deer being hunted down by our huge Timber wolves in various parts of our country, especially Northern Ontario. It made no sense why they would have introduced our Timber wolf to Idaho, knowing that we had the same problem up here. Maybe they need to gather up these Timber's and relocate them, Minnesota was over populated with deer the past few years, allowing hunters to bag two instead of one. I had to avoid hitting deer on my runs through that state. I realize this is not the only solution to moving the Timbers, but sad to hear how your elk and deer are being reduced so dramatically. I would not be happy as a hunter, it may be time the Timber gets hunted and reduced in population unless the city fathers can come to a safer solution. Thanks for the share, very interesting.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Saddlerider1

Idaho opened up wolf hunting this year, but the tags were limited to 200 or so for the whole state as I recall. I did not care to hunt a wolf, I will not reduce to possession anything I cannot eat, not even a squirrel - nor am I a trophey hunter. I only hunt and fish for food. If I am not confident of a kill-shot, I will not shoot. Many times I have set down a rifle and grabbed a camera instead because a potential rifle shot was not ethical and merciful.

I took wildlife biology up to the 300 level in college because I loved the science, but it is not my degree. I say this because I do not consider myself a complete layman on the matter. The native Idaho Wolf did/does exist, I have seen it with my own eyes and have, somewhere packed away in boxes, pictures of them. Why no one wanted to save them I will never understand.

I also don't understand folks who feel so strongly about the environment but are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, preaching the whole time how they want to save the baby.

The Idaho wolf situation has backfired. Instead of restoring a native species, they imported a non-native species which is decimating other native species. To solve the problem, now the Timber wolf must be controlled. The environmentalists are suiing Idaho for opening a wolf hunt. Idaho is trying to save deer and elk herds. Idaho did not put the wolves here, The USFWS did. We already had a wolf. The Timber wolf is caught in the middle and is a victim of fantasy love affair arm-chair environmentalists have with them.

I have been thinking we need to restore Grizzly bears to St. Louis, Ms. In the journals of Louis and Clark it is noted that St. Louis was a grizzly bear haven - they were thick as thieves when they passed through there. Since St. Louis is the grizzly's native habitiat, I think we should bring 500 breeding pairs of grizzlies into downtown St. Louis, let them loose and give them federal endangered species protection.

Of course I am just kidding, but it makes a point.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Interesting hub, and a perplexing situation. GBY


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Thank you Stars439,

It's nice to have you looking at my hubs.

- Harlan


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, I love wolves, but then again I don't have to share my dinner with them! lol but I do see both sides, the thought of the wolf prowling about in my town would be cool to me, but of course there is the danger to other animals. we have the same sort of debate over here about the foxes, we love them, we hate the hunt that goes out on their horses to rip them to pieces, but I do also see the point of the farmers saying that they 'ate all ma chickuns!' lol but my argument with that is, well build a b...y wall to keep them out then! cheers nell


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

The Canadian wolves are encroaching upon Idaho's Capital City, Boise. They are frequently spotted on the outskirts of the city. Boise, has a nice river flowing through it with a well developed "Green Belt" as they call it. It basically features a 20+ mile bike and pedestrian path linking various parks and scenic river fronts together. This area also features a large deer population because hunting in the city it not allowed. City deer have no predators save the occasional homeless drunk who assumes he could have one for dinner; ever try to catch and kill a deer with a wine bottle? Regardless, if the wolves figure out there are deer in the city along the river...

Best Nell

- Harlan


jonihnj profile image

jonihnj 5 years ago from Metro New York

Enjoyed this hub. I think wolves are beautiful, but I agree it's crazy not to save the indigenous population first. I think you met with resistance because your plan wasn't as easy of shipping in from Canada. It's a sad commentary on "activists" without foresight.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Its refreshing to have someone see your point. Today the Canadian wolf has proliferated to the point that they have destroyed 85% of Idaho's deer and elk herds. The native species would have never done that. Idaho is looking for ways to kill all those Canadian wolves now. They brought them down here for all the wrong reasons. Its just a stupid waist of time, money and life.

Thank you for your comments.

- Harlan


Avid Outdoorsman 5 years ago

If I where Ed Bangs I would not be able to live with myself any longer. To be a true conservationist you have got to have respect for all wildlife. For him to say that he hoped his non-native Canadian Wolves eat every damn Elk in Idaho is nothing short of being just plain sick. These wolves don't eat everything that they kill either. Not this wolf anyway. They are just plain vicious murders.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Music to my ears! Amen brother - tell it like it is!

- Harlan


Avid Outdoorsman 5 years ago

Here's to you Harlan;

Hunters only take the animals that the ecosystem can afford to have taken to maintain healthy herds. Canadian wolves killing our native wildlife and other native predators is totally out of control. These wolves are destroying the wildlife in this country at an alarming rate. These wolves are way out of whack with the ecosystem. As stated before 300 wolves with a buffer of 150 is what science says is all that the native wildlife can handle in this country and still maintain their numbers. Wildlife bioliogist do counts on elk, deer, moose, antelope etc. in the spring every year to figure out how to set licence numbers for the next fall hunts. They figure out how many males and females of a speices can be taken to keep the herds healthy and in balance with their habitat. Hunters have been paying the bill threw sales taxes on guns, ammunition, licences etc. now for over 100 years to manage the wildlife in this great country. One of the greatest succuss stories in this great nation. Don’t let a bunch of people destroy our native wildlife threw peoples emotions. Instead lets use the true bioliogist and science, and do what’s right and been working now for over 100 years. Yellowstone is a little different story their has never been any hunting allowed in the park. There where some big fires in Yellowstone in 1988. After the fires it created a lot more feed for the ungulate herds, and their numbers went up because of this. Canadian bioliogist told these people and our government that if you could high fence Yellowstone National Park so that none of the wildelife could get in or out of the park, and introduce the Canadian wolf. That the Canadian wolves would kill off every prey animal and all other pretators within Yellowstone and eventually kill themselves off. You see Yellowstone would be a dead park with no wildlife at all left in Yellowstone Park. So see this notion that these wolves only kill the weak and sick is only one of the lies we are hearing from these people. These people try to make it sound like taking a wolf to save other wildlife that has to be done to keep things in balance is wrong. This is what has to happen or someday we will not have any of the native wildlife that we all love to see in this country. God put the wildlife on this planet for us as a natural resource to hunt for as food like has been done for millions of years now, not to be destroyed with a bunch of propaganda, lies, and politics. We must learn not to trust the wolf people and do the research to figure out what this whole wolf thing is really all about. Then makeup our own minds who’s in this whole thing just for the money. The sportsmen in this country are paying the bills to manage the wildlife and save habitat for wildlife in this country. The pro-wolf people are stealing from every American in this country in one way or another, by destroying our wildlife for the money. A true animal lover respects all wildlife not pick and choose. By condemning our native wildlife to death by a non-native wolf that is out of control and should have never been brought into the United States is just plain wrong. Yes this is not the same wolf that lives here. Much larger yes. The biggest difference is in the pack size and the way that they kill as they call it sport kill. That means kill without eating what they have just killed and move on to kill again sometimes repeating over and over again. One example of this happened on Sept.7,2009 near Dillion Montana 122 buck sheep where killed in one night. None of them eaten by the Canadian wolves that had just killed every single one of them. Google it. The Canadian wolf is the most prolific, destructive predator on the face of our planet. Yes there may be a place for wolves in the ecosystem, but they have to be keeped in balance with the habitat or those of us living on this planet now are going to witness the biggest wildlife desaster in the history of this nation. A lot of us already have. The wildlife in this country do not have much range left today compared to the days before we all got here. This is why our native wildlife can’t excape the constant harassment from these Canadian wolves. They are on them 24-7, 365 days a year. The elk are so stressed by the Canadian wolves that they are even aborting their calves in some areas. In other areas in calfing season the Canadian wolves are pulling the cow elk down and killing the calfs before they are born to take their first breath of air, with the cow left to bleed to death that sometimes takes 2 to 3 days. In some cases neither the calf and almost always the cow elk is not eaten. Some balance in nature. This is just plain wrong. The native wildlife in this country is going to hell and Defenders Of Wildlife is driving the bus


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

You're are exactly right, these people call themselves environmentalists, but they do not respect all species equally. They only favor certain ones, ones with nasty fangs, claws and an aggressive disposition. All the other species can go straight to hell.

I have relatives in Northern California, every time I go to visit there is an article in the local paper where someone was out jogging and was taken down into a ditch and killed and half eaten by a cougar. California outlawed cougar hunting many years ago. Now some of the same environmental-whackos who fought to outlaw managing their population are falling victim to the animals they defended. Certainly, no hunter goes jogging...not in cougar country and without a gun.

Not far from my house, a large family reunion gathered for an afternoon along the river. In a crowd of over 50 people eating and talking, a cougar crept down the hill, grabbed a small child right in the middle of the crowd and ran up the hill with it. The men gave chase and managed to hit it with enough rocks and sticks it let the child go and ran off. The child lived, he has some interesting scars on his head to talk about.

One of my best friends is a tracker/hunting guide and was called by Fish and Game to track it down and kill it. We took his dogs and went tracking. The dogs tracked it down when we suddenly lost the trail along a cropping of rocks. Suddenly out of nowhere this cat came off the top of the rocks right at my friend. A dog jumped up and caught it in midair. Talk about adrenalin! I wish I had that on video - YouTube would go crazy with that.

The dogs cornered the cat against the rocks and my friend shot it.

Just last week in Lewiston, Idaho, landscapers working on an area grocery store planter, saw a tail sticking out of the bushes. The landscaper bent down to see and at the end of the tail was 100 pound cougar resting in the shade. They called F&G and F&G darted it. F&G observed the animal a day or so and then decided to destroy the it because it had become too acclimated to people to return it to the wild. Apparently while caged it showed no natural fear of people.

Many a cup of coffee are consumed over this stuff. I wish society could all get on the same page on wildlife management. Some of these federal judges have no clue what they are doing and the aftermath they cause. I think too many kids these days grow up with Disney movies and believe dangerous wild animals are cute, cuddly and friendly - that they have human like feelings and understanding. I hope they never find out the hard way.

Thanks for posting

- Harlan


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howcurecancer 5 years ago

I rated up. Awesome hub.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Thank you for the comment and vote.

Very much appreciated.

- Harlan

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