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Thread: Bear and wolf management on National Wildlife Refuges - Op/Ed - Kathleen Parker

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    Default Bear and wolf management on National Wildlife Refuges - Op/Ed - Kathleen Parker

    The attached Op/Ed appeared in our local newspaper this morning (March 16, The Columbian, Vancouver, WA). It's from Kathleen Parker, a columnist from the Washington Post.

    http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/1...dlife-refuges/

    Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it's difficult to see how wildlife management in Alaska is improved by a Congressional resolution in Washington DC.

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    All kinds of misinformation in that article. Reads similar to what the humane society has published on the topic. If someone were to read the FWS wildlife rule, they would find that only a tiny section of the rule deals with hunting practices. All the opposition to H.J. Res.69 seems to focus on the inhumane hunting practices which the rule outlaws. Sure, the rule outlaws things like gassing wolves in there dens and same day airborne hunting for bears, but these activities are already illegal in Alaska. The guts of the rule mandate the FWS into using a hands-off approach to managing wildlife on refuges in Alaska (76,774,229 acres). This means animal abundance peaks and valleys, with abrupt dives in population numbers. This would equate to hunting closures for unknown amounts of time, possibly even permanent. How is that good for rural residents that depend on wildlife resources? How is that good for general hunters both res and nonres, wildlife viewers, and tourists who utilize public lands in Alaska and depend on steady populations of wildlife on Alaska's refuges? IMO, it's easy to see how wildlife management in Alaska is improved with the passing of H.J. Res. 69 which repeals the FWS wildlife rule for Alaska.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    All kinds of misinformation in that article. Reads similar to what the humane society has published on the topic. If someone were to read the FWS wildlife rule, they would find that only a tiny section of the rule deals with hunting practices. All the opposition to H.J. Res.69 seems to focus on the inhumane hunting practices which the rule outlaws. Sure, the rule outlaws things like gassing wolves in there dens and same day airborne hunting for bears, but these activities are already illegal in Alaska. The guts of the rule mandate the FWS into using a hands-off approach to managing wildlife on refuges in Alaska (76,774,229 acres). This means animal abundance peaks and valleys, with abrupt dives in population numbers. This would equate to hunting closures for unknown amounts of time, possibly even permanent. How is that good for rural residents that depend on wildlife resources? How is that good for general hunters both res and nonres, wildlife viewers, and tourists who utilize public lands in Alaska and depend on steady populations of wildlife on Alaska's refuges? IMO, it's easy to see how wildlife management in Alaska is improved with the passing of H.J. Res. 69 which repeals the FWS wildlife rule for Alaska.
    Very well articulated. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    Reads similar to what the humane society has published on the topic.
    Kinda funny, the first time I the read the article I didn't notice the author states that her son works for the humane society. Guess I was right in where her (mis)information came from.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    https://www.senate.gov/floor/index.htm

    HJR 69 is being debated on the senate floor right now....
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    Thanks. I can't get it to run, but I'll keep trying......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Thanks. I can't get it to run, but I'll keep trying......
    I can only get it to work using internet explorer. Debate began with HJR 69 but after the two Alaskan Senators gave their comments and a couple others opposed, they have moved on it seems.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    H.J. Res. 69 was just passed in the Senate and is on the way to the presidents desk. Good news for Alaska wildlife management.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    The final vote was 52-47. The resolution is remarkably short. It disapproves and sets aside the rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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    An article from National Public Radio on the subject:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-w...lves-in-alaska

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    One big fight that took place in Alaska involves a refuge that contains wolves, caribou and people ( a small native village.) Wolves reduced the caribou herd below self replacement levels, yet feds would allow no control measures to be taken. Denning the wolves could have reduced their population to the point that the caribou could have a few good years of calving, thus allowing the wolves to increase population also. The caribou were essential to the subistence needs of the local populace, yet the Feds blocked state efforts at managing the wolves. They would have let this landlocked herd of caribou be wiped out by the wolves rather than actually manage them. That's how they roll.

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    Thanks Will. Here's another viewpoint:

    Did the wolves reduce the caribou herds to below replacement, or did the combination of hunting (subsistence) and wolf predation do that? My sense is that it’s the latter. So it was not just the wolves who “wiped out” the caribou.

    As I understand it, “denning” means killing the wolf pups (and sometimes the adults) while they are in the dens. I’m not sure how that’s done, but in my view, that’s not “managing” anything. It’s just killing them. The intent is to ensure there are fewer wolves in the future. Using the terms ‘denning’ and ‘managing’ is just a nice way to say “killing them while they’re in the den”.

    Given that all National Wildlife Refuges are intended to be refuges for wildlife, I can see why killing wolves in their dens is considered inconsistent with the purpose of the refuge. So the Feds said no. I’m not surprised. Again, the purpose of a wildlife refuge is to provide a refuge for wildlife; it is not intended to provide meat for the locals at the expense of native wildlife, including predators (even though there is a subsistence hunting priority on NWR’s in rural Alaska)

    I recognize the subsistence needs of the local folks is an important issue, particularly if you live in rural Alaska. I’m not sure what options are available, if caribou are not. But we all know it takes time to: 1) reduce the number of wolves, 2) increase the productivity of the adults through additional calf production and survival, and 3) wait for the newborn caribou calves to grow to a harvestable size. All this takes 4-5 years (+/-). So it’s not a quick fix. What will the locals eat in the meantime? I don’t know, but it won’t be caribou if they want the population to rebound.

    I’m not taking a position on subsistence hunting in Alaska or on how National Wildlife Refuges ought to be managed. But there are two sides to every story…..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Thanks Will. Here's another viewpoint:

    Did the wolves reduce the caribou herds to below replacement, or did the combination of hunting (subsistence) and wolf predation do that? My sense is that it’s the latter. So it was not just the wolves who “wiped out” the caribou.

    As I understand it, “denning” means killing the wolf pups (and sometimes the adults) while they are in the dens. I’m not sure how that’s done, but in my view, that’s not “managing” anything. It’s just killing them. The intent is to ensure there are fewer wolves in the future. Using the terms ‘denning’ and ‘managing’ is just a nice way to say “killing them while they’re in the den”.

    Given that all National Wildlife Refuges are intended to be refuges for wildlife, I can see why killing wolves in their dens is considered inconsistent with the purpose of the refuge. So the Feds said no. I’m not surprised. Again, the purpose of a wildlife refuge is to provide a refuge for wildlife; it is not intended to provide meat for the locals at the expense of native wildlife, including predators (even though there is a subsistence hunting priority on NWR’s in rural Alaska)

    I recognize the subsistence needs of the local folks is an important issue, particularly if you live in rural Alaska. I’m not sure what options are available, if caribou are not. But we all know it takes time to: 1) reduce the number of wolves, 2) increase the productivity of the adults through additional calf production and survival, and 3) wait for the newborn caribou calves to grow to a harvestable size. All this takes 4-5 years (+/-). So it’s not a quick fix. What will the locals eat in the meantime? I don’t know, but it won’t be caribou if they want the population to rebound.

    I’m not taking a position on subsistence hunting in Alaska or on how National Wildlife Refuges ought to be managed. But there are two sides to every story…..
    Subsistence hunting doesnt cause 100%calf mortality.

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    Thanks Will, but I may have missed your point. My sense is that subsistence hunting causes 0% calf mortality.

    But I think you're saying is that this specific caribou herd was experiencing 100% morality of the calves, which was caused almost 100% by wolves. As such, caribou reproduction, for whatever purpose, can't occur with the number of wolves that currently exist. As such, fewer wolves would allow the herd to rebound faster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Thanks Will, but I may have missed your point. My sense is that subsistence hunting causes 0% calf mortality.

    But I think you're saying is that this specific caribou herd was experiencing 100% morality of the calves, which was caused almost 100% by wolves. As such, caribou reproduction, for whatever purpose, can't occur with the number of wolves that currently exist. As such, fewer wolves would allow the herd to rebound faster.
    Exactly. Wolves were identified as the main culprit in the herd's decline and inability to recover. Reducing the wolf population for a few years would allow the herd to rebound. This doesn't just benefit human hunters, as opponents of control efforts always claim, but all predators who benefit from a robust caribou population. A larger caribou population can sustain a larger bear, wolf and smaller predator population. And why should caring for our fellow humans who benefit from the consumption of meat receive so little merit in the eyes of the bleeding hearts who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from those humans? It's mind boggling.

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    While it may be true that Alaska's wildlife is part of the draw for tourists, rarely do they leave the pavement, or the boat, or the bus, so citing tourism as a rationale to oppose this policy shift is a stretch. There's a key word missing from the official titles of these particular federal lands--they are per their mission statements Federal Wildlife Habitat Refuges. The author's inference that the term refuge implies protection for individual animals is disingenuous. Then there's the hyperbolic appeal to emotion on the subject of killing denned animals, and of course, the obligatory pot shot at Don Young's trophy room/office.

    In the end this change is unlikely to have any appreciable impact on either animal populations, tourism or use of the refuges.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Mid winter January rains icing of the tundra and mountains has 100% calf mortality in the worst hit places. Ive posted many photos of this, have 8mm film too...( digital wasnt much back then);

    starving calves left behind by the stronger herd, and dying. The Wolves get fat and multiply ( I heard if its a fat year, they have lots of pups, etc.) on these die offs as the tundra is flooded with ''baits' (it ruins Wolfing) and the frozen carcasses make for an easy winter for the predators and the scavengers. This same mid winter warming also decimated our Sheep populations.
    Hunger weakened Caribou and Sheep are easy pickings for predators.
    If Wolves or Men hunting them made any difference, the Caribou would have been gone looooooong loooooong ago.
    If your not out in the country much, you might only see the remains the scavengers left, wich can last quite a frozen while, and stayed home inside during the rains (if your smart LOL!!) and never actually seen what made the animal die, only what happened to its carcass...

    Ive hunted this herd for 29 years now.I have close, personal observations and I can say Ive seen far more starved Caribou than Wolf kills, when the decline started in 2002. Wolves knock off a few Caribou , here and there, over time mid winter rains kill thousands of Caribou, in one go, one day. Most of the little solid ones dont even have a bite out of them.
    Everything that dies is eventually eaten, being 'Nature' and all.
    The Wolves, Wolverine, Fox, Ravens, Weasels, Mice, etc. just get free, easy meals.

    The Western Arctic Caribou herd only passes through the Noatak Federal areas , twice a year, as they migrate from the north Slope southward to the Northern Seward Peninsula, and then back again in Spring. I spend alot of time in their wintering areas, and I summer there too and the denning wolves are resident to the area and await the herds return. I see the same Wolves each summer, so I know this ( Come Nov, they are Gone, the game is on )
    Wolfing can happen anywhere theres Caribou, and there are plenty of them, but without mid winter Rains, the well fed, healthy Caribou can outrun a Wolf anyway.......untill old, wounded or sick......

    Wolves and people hunting are not the causes of the WACH's or other Caribou/Reindeer populations declines, the high Wolf population and reduced allowable take for Humans are the effect of midwinter's rains capping the feed.
    Now for an upturn in natures cycles; The weak have been cut from the herd, the feeds grown back and if it dosent rain in Jan/Feb/March, the numbers and health of Caribou should only improve, and the decline of Wolves shall be next.

    Sounds like this will be a great Winter for Wolfing
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    Mid winter January rains icing of the tundra and mountains has 100% calf mortality in the worst hit places. Ive posted many photos of this, have 8mm film too...( digital wasnt much back then);

    starving calves left behind by the stronger herd, and dying. The Wolves get fat and multiply ( I heard if its a fat year, they have lots of pups, etc.) on these die offs as the tundra is flooded with ''baits' (it ruins Wolfing) and the frozen carcasses make for an easy winter for the predators and the scavengers. This same mid winter warming also decimated our Sheep populations.
    Hunger weakened Caribou and Sheep are easy pickings for predators.
    If Wolves or Men hunting them made any difference, the Caribou would have been gone looooooong loooooong ago.
    If your not out in the country much, you might only see the remains the scavengers left, wich can last quite a frozen while, and stayed home inside during the rains (if your smart LOL!!) and never actually seen what made the animal die, only what happened to its carcass...

    Ive hunted this herd for 29 years now.I have close, personal observations and I can say Ive seen far more starved Caribou than Wolf kills, when the decline started in 2002. Wolves knock off a few Caribou , here and there, over time mid winter rains kill thousands of Caribou, in one go, one day. Most of the little solid ones dont even have a bite out of them.
    Everything that dies is eventually eaten, being 'Nature' and all.
    The Wolves, Wolverine, Fox, Ravens, Weasels, Mice, etc. just get free, easy meals.

    The Western Arctic Caribou herd only passes through the Noatak Federal areas , twice a year, as they migrate from the north Slope southward to the Northern Seward Peninsula, and then back again in Spring. I spend alot of time in their wintering areas, and I summer there too and the denning wolves are resident to the area and await the herds return. I see the same Wolves each summer, so I know this ( Come Nov, they are Gone, the game is on )
    Wolfing can happen anywhere theres Caribou, and there are plenty of them, but without mid winter Rains, the well fed, healthy Caribou can outrun a Wolf anyway.......untill old, wounded or sick......

    Wolves and people hunting are not the causes of the WACH's or other Caribou/Reindeer populations declines, the high Wolf population and reduced allowable take for Humans are the effect of midwinter's rains capping the feed.
    Now for an upturn in natures cycles; The weak have been cut from the herd, the feeds grown back and if it dosent rain in Jan/Feb/March, the numbers and health of Caribou should only improve, and the decline of Wolves shall be next.

    Sounds like this will be a great Winter for Wolfing
    If wolves are not the problem then how come in every single case where man has done predator control ungulate numbers go up?? You must have slow wolves because our wolves have zero problem catching caribou....young healthy ones too....

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon254 View Post
    If wolves are not the problem then how come in every single case where man has done predator control ungulate numbers go up?? You must have slow wolves because our wolves have zero problem catching caribou....young healthy ones too....
    It seems you missed the point of his post. Of course wolves can catch caribou. All stranger did was explain certain specifics to this herd and circumstance that he has witnessed. What he says makes logical sense. Your statement regarding reducing wolf populations increasing the nmbers of ungulates also makes sense. The two positions are not incongruent.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    It seems you missed the point of his post. Of course wolves can catch caribou. All stranger did was explain certain specifics to this herd and circumstance that he has witnessed. What he says makes logical sense. Your statement regarding reducing wolf populations increasing the nmbers of ungulates also makes sense. The two positions are not incongruent.

    Maybe I did miss the point of his post, but I can read. Couple of points...He says " wolves knock off a few caribou, here and there." This to me infers exactly what he said, ( a few here and there)....How many caribou wolves take isn't even debatable any more, study after study has proven they take a lot more than a few here and there. I doubt any biologist would argue that caribou are wolves main food source in these areas. He then goes on to say that a healthy well fed caribou can "outrun a wolf anyway, until old, wounded, or sick." That statement is simply not true. I spend as much time on the land as anyone, and far more than most, and I can assure you that even one wolf can catch and kill a healthy caribou. A pack of 7 or more can kill at will. Ive even seen lone wolverines kill adult caribou. His post to me infers that warm winter weather is the cause of the herds decline, and Im not arguing that point. Im simply saying wolves can and do catch caribou...healthy well fed caribou included.

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