If you live in the Northern Rockies, you have either read or heard someone claim that wolves have decimated elk populations and thus ruined elk-hunting in the region. “The wolves are killing all the elk” has become the battle cry against wolves these days, and you hear it or see it everywhere.
For a minute, let’s forget that more than 350,000 elk currently inhabit Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. And let’s forget that there are only about 1,700 wolves.
I’m calling a twenty-second timeout. Thanks, ref. Okay, I had to call the timeout because as soon as I post this blog entry, a proud defender of The Battle Cry is going to post a comment, wherein he or she will accuse me of lying, residing in New York City, and hugging too many trees. So, I am going to set the record straight right now.
For elk, I used the population numbers that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation published this fall. If you’re not familiar with the Elk Foundation, the group recently secured its anti-wolf bona fides by analogizing what’s happening right now with wolves and elk to the near extinction of bison at the turn of the 19th century. (“Hey Truth, how do you like them apples?”) It’s a proud espouser of The Battle Cry and no fan of wolves — so you can’t accuse me of padding the elk numbers.
For wolf numbers, I used the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2009 Year-End Annual Report, since it’s the most recent official report on the Northern Rockies wolf population. On page 5 of the report’s summary, it states that at the end of 2009 it was estimated that there were at least 1,706 wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment, which includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the eastern one third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of northcentral Utah. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has been trying to kick wolves off the endangered species list for a few years, so it would be against their interest to underestimate wolf numbers.
Finally, I live in Bozeman, Montana, not New York City. But as for the trees, you got me — I can’t walk past a damn lodgepole pine without hugging it (the same goes for bunny rabbits).
Okay, team, back to the blog.
Let’s also forget that the Wyoming/Montana/Idaho elk population has grown by almost 20% since wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990s. (Elk Foundation numbers, not mine [elk numbers.pdf].) And for the few elk populations that have decr贵族宝贝同城交友论坛