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WOLVES: Separate facts from myths

| April 14, 2010 10:00 PM

Myth: Wolves decimating elk herds. Fact: IDFG data. Idaho’s elk numbers up or steady, all but two of 29 zones. Overall elk numbers increased in wolf states (Idaho,Wyoming, Montana). Wolves pushed elk off valley floors into mountains: harder to find.

Myth: Wolves decimating livestock. Fact: USDA/IDFG. Wolves responsible less than 2 percent livestock predation deaths. Ranchers privately compensated for verified wolf losses, by state for unverified/missing losses.

Myth: Wolves dangerous, attack people. Fact: Only one North American human death attributed wolves in last 110 years. Vast majority wolf-human encounters simple wolf curosity. IDFG Release 2006. Person in wolf country has greater chance being hit by lightning, dying of bee sting, killed in vehicle collision with deer, than injured by wolf.

Myth: Reintroduced Canadian wolves not native, larger, more aggressive. Fact: IDFG Release 2006. Biological, genetic research; only two interbreeding wolf subspecies historically inhabiting central, western US, Canada. Same wolves lived both western US, Canada.

Myth: Wolf kills have no purpose. Fact: Journal Wildlife Management. Wolves prey on most vulnerable elk, deer; old, weak, diseased, injured, very young (however elk calf survival remains steady). Contribute genetically to stronger elk, deer herds.

More Facts: IDFG assumes annual wolf increase 20-22 percent. Erroneous. USFW actual increase 2007, 8.8 percent,2008, 15.6 percent. IDFG Panhandle wolf estimate 2008-41. Never case wolf livestock predation. 2009 hunting quota 30 (70 percent). Idaho 53,484,800 acres. If half 26,742,400 wolf suitable habitat; state wolf goal 500. Then one wolf every 53,485 acres.

PHIL POUTRE

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