By T. R. Mader,
Abundant Wildlife Society of North America
convinced, based on several years of wolf research, hunters will
bear the brunt of wolf recovery/protection regardless of
There is no language written in any wolf recovery plan to
protect the hunter's privilege to hunt. Wolves are well known to
cause wild game population declines which are so drastic hunting
is either eliminated or severely curtailed. And there is no
provision for recovery of wild game populations for the purposes
of hunting. It simply will not be allowed.
Example: A few years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) and
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agreed the
state should take over the responsibility of wolf management.
The DNR felt wolves were impacting their deer populations and
wanted to open a short trapping season on the wolf.
The environmentalists sued and won. The USFWS could not give
wolf management back to Minnesota in spite of a desire to do so.
The problem with wolf recovery is that most people, especially
hunters, have not looked "beyond press releases and into the
heart of the wolf issue."
It must be stated clearly that the wolf is the best tool for
shutting down hunting. The anti-hunters know this. Most hunters
don't. Thus, wolf recovery is not opposed by the people who will
be impacted most.
In order to understand the impacts wolves have on hunting, let's
look at some biological factors of the wolf and compare some
The wolf is an efficient predator of wild game and domestic
livestock. Due to its ability as a predator, the wolf was
removed from areas of the U.S. where man settled. There is no
such thing as peaceful coexistence between man and wolf - one
has to give to the other since both prey/hunt the same
Did the removal of the wolf cause it to become endangered? No,
there are 40,000 to 60,000 wolves on the North American
continent. The animal is doing quite well. During the years of
wolf control, the wolf's territory was eliminated throughout
most of the lower 48 states. That factor is the reason the wolf
is on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
A wolf requires five to ten pounds of meat per day for survival,
thus the wolf requires a considerable amount of meat in one year
- nearly a ton of meat per year per wolf. A wolf is capable of
consuming great quantities of meat, up to one fifth of its body
weight, at one time. Thus, a wolf does not have to kill each day
Wolves hunt year around - 365 days a year. Wolf predation is not
limited to two weeks, one month or whatever a hunting season
length may be, it is year around.
Wolves are opportunistic hunters, meaning they kill what is
available and convenient. For years, hunters have been fed the
line, "Wolves kill only the weak, sick and old." Worse yet,
hunters have believed it.
It is true, wolves do kill old animals, but so do hunters. Those
are the big bulls or bucks prized by many who hunt. In fact,
biological studies have shown wolves kill older male animals
more than any other adult member of a wild game population.
Regarding sick animals, there are not many sick wild animals
today. Hunters and trappers are directly responsible for healthy
wild game herds today.
In the cyclic "balance of nature" of years past (no hunting by
man), ungulate populations would thrive until they overgrazed
their habitat and starved. This malnutrition made ungulate
populations susceptible to disease. Consequently, disease was
more common. Lewis and Clark wrote of such herds. (The other
major factor contributing to the decline in wildlife populations
Hunting controls this cycle so that herds are kept at proper
levels for habitat, preventing malnutrition and susceptibility
to disease. Hunting dollars went to habitat improvement and
biological studies which, in turn, help maintain healthier herds
Even agriculture plays a part in the dispersal of salt and other
minerals to domestic livestock. Wild animals access these
nutrients as well. Thus, disease is not as rampant as when
nature regulates it naturally. It is also interesting to note
that where disease is a problem today, such as Yellowstone
National Park, hunting is not allowed.
Trapping completes the cycle of game management by controlling
the predator. The predator is to wildlife what weeds are to a
garden. They must be controlled or they will take over.
Additionally, predators are disease carriers. Some people are
aware predators carry rabies since reports of rabid animals or
some person being bitten by a rabid animal are often in the
news, but few realize predators also carry other deadly
diseases, i.e. raccoons carry a deadly fowl cholera. And
finally, trapping benefits the predator by keeping their numbers
in check. This keeps the population healthy. If predators do
overpopulate, they become more susceptible to rabies, mange and
Wolves do not eat sick animals unless forced to do so. We have
found this true in many cases.
Example: A Conservation Officer for the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) found a moose with brain worm. Brain
worm completely destroys an animal's instinctive and natural
behavior. This moose had wandered out on a frozen lake in winter
and was slowly starving to death. Wolves came by, checked the
moose out and went their way. Tracks in the snow verified it.
They did not kill it even though it would have been extremely
easy to do so.
Wolves do kill the weak. Weak animals are not sick animals, they
are simply the "less strong" of the herd. Wolves target these
animals - the young and pregnant - due to their inability to
escape. This is an important factor in limiting wildlife
population numbers. Wolves prey directly on the recruitment and
reproductive segments of ungulate populations.
While doing research in British Colombia, a wolf biologist from
the British Colombia Ministry of Environment took the time to
show me how wolves could impact hunting so severely. Here's his
In this particular example he used a number of 300 females in a
herd of elk. In his region, wolf predation is often 90% on the
young (100% mortality rates due to predation are common in the
north). If 300 females gave birth in an area of wolves, the
approximate loss would be about 270 young calves killed during
the summer months, leaving 30 yearlings to serve as
replacements. A regular die-off rate on such a herd is about
10%. So the 30 yearlings would balance out the regular mortality
rate of the female segment of the herd.
But overall there is a decline in the elk herd due to the fact
that the 30 yearlings are usually sexually split in half (15
females and 15 males), thus the reproductive segment of the herd
declines although the numbers appear to balance out. Without
some form of wolf control, the rate of decline will increase
within a few years.
There were approximately 100 males in this herd of elk. Figuring
the regular mortality rate and compensating with the surviving
young leaves 5 animals (males only) that could be harvested by
Now if this herd of elk were in an area of no wolves, there
would be approximately 60 - 70% successful reproduction (calves
making it to yearlings) or 200 young. Half of those surviving
young would be male (100 animals). After figuring a 10%
mortality rate, 90 older animals could be harvested without
impact to the overall herd numbers. In fact, the herd would
increase due to additional numbers of the reproductive segment
(females) of the herd.
Now you have some insight of the impacts wolves can have on
In spite of the negative publicity generated by the
anti-hunting, anti-trapping movements, hunting and trapping are
some of the best wildlife management tools.
Hunters' harvest can be limited through numbers of licenses
issued, bag limits, length of seasons, and specification of sex
of the animal harvested. Thus, only the surplus of an ungulate
population is generally hunted. If the need arises that an
ungulate population needs reduction, it is easily accomplished
by allowing an "any sex" hunt and increasing license numbers.
Additionally, hunters will pay for the opportunity to hunt which
in turn pays for wildlife management.
Wolves do none of the above. They simply kill to survive and for
the sake of killing. Studies have shown that ungulate
populations cannot withstand hunting by man and uncontrolled
predation by wolves for any length of time. One has to give to
the other. In this day and age, the wolf will be the winner, the
hunter the loser.
A point which should be stressed is "wolves kill for the sake of
killing," not just to survive. Many are convinced wolves kill
only what they need to eat. That simply isn't true.
Remember the moose with brain worm the wolves didn't eat? In the
same area, the same winter and only a couple of months later,
the same Conservation Officer followed two wolves after a spring
snow storm and found the wolves had killed 21 deer. Only two
were partially eaten.
The snow gave the wolves the advantage. These deer were
autopsied and many were found to be pregnant. The total number
of deer killed in 2 days by these 2 wolves was 36.
Such incidents of surplus killing are common. For example,
Canadian biologists came upon an area where a pack of wolves
have killed 34 caribou calves in one area. Another example came
from Alaska. In the Wrangell Mountains, a pack of five wolves
came upon 20 Dall rams crossing a snow-covered plateau. All 20
rams were killed by the wolves. Only six were partially eaten by
Dr. Charles E. Kay, PH.D. has lectured on the impacts of wolf
recovery. To illustrate the impacts of wolves on hunting, he did
a comparison of moose populations in British Colombia versus
Sweden and Finland. Both areas have a comparable amount of moose
Dr. Kay stated, "During the 1980s in Sweden and Finland, the
pre-calf or the wintering population of moose was approximately
400,000 animals and was increasing. While in British Colombia,
it was 240,000 animals and decreasing.
"In British Colombia where they have a population of 240,000
animals and after a calving season they killed only 12,000
animals which is a 5% off take. In Sweden and Finland, on the
other hand, they have 400,000 moose and guess how many they
killed in the fall? They killed 240,000 moose in the fall which
is a 57% off take rate.
"Now the two main differences, I don't want to imply that
there's not vegetation difference and other things, but the two
main differences is that British Colombia has somewhere between
5,000 and 6,000 wolves, all sorts of bears, grizzly bears and
black bears which are also important predators, and mountain
lions. Sweden and Finland have none of the above."
Veteran wolf biologist, John Gunson, Alberta Ministry of
Environment, summed it up when he said, "Really, there isn't any
room for harvest by man if you have a healthy wolf population."
Hunters, please understand the impacts of wolf recovery on
hunting and the role wolf recovery plays in the anti-hunters'
agenda. Natural predation, especially wolf predation, can
replace your privilege to hunt.
Copyright 1991 - Permission granted copy this article in its
entirety with proper credit given to the source.
T. R. Mader is Research Director for Abundant Wildlife Society
of North America (AWS), a private wildlife research organization
dedicated to the preservation of the Great North American
Traditions of Hunting, Fishing and Trapping.
Wolf Hunting Video
Hunting wolves with
a golden eagle in Mongolia, KazajstŠn, and Kyrgyzstan. These
wolves can be hunted this way because they are more the
size of a coyote, much smaller than North American wolves.
First wolf taken on 2009 Idaho Hunt
Wolf taken in Idaho 2009
First Idaho County Wolf
Oct 1, 2009
Opening day of Wolf season in Elk City and Dworshak Zones,
Dad and I headed out to our blind in "Secret Meadows". We
reached the meadow at 6:45am, parked the 4 wheelers, 50
yards from the blind, and walk out to the blind in the
middle of the meadow. We got settled in and I range-found 4
or 5 different spots for dad then turned to watch my sector.
No sooner than I got relaxed I caught some movement out the
corner of my eye. I said "Shit there's a wolf" turned around
and we both aimed in on him. He walked in the middle of the
meadow stepped up on a small knoll looked at a couple "moo
cows" and started to let out a howl. Dad and I counted down
3......2.....1 and bang I hit him next to his right eye and
dad hit him center of the chest. Dropped him cold. Time was
I have also attached a few pics of him that we caught on our
Trail Cam photo of the Idaho
Preparing to skin the Idaho Wolf
Lack Of Fear
correct. The areas of Asia where wolf attacks occur on
humans are the same areas where people have no firearms or
other effective means of predator control.
Successful Idaho Gray Wolf Hunt
Idaho Gray Wolf, Feb 2010
Dog In Back Yard
Comparing the number of
wolf-human and wolf-livestock conflicts in areas where
wolves are regularly hunted verses areas where wolves are
hunted, it is easy to conclude that hunting reinforces
wolves fear of humans and ranching operations. Therefore a
hunted population of wolves is far likelier to co-exist in today's
human occupied landscapes.