Northern Idaho elk vs wolves?... The numbers don't add up

idahohikker

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Interesting. Sounds reasonable that predation pressure would move elk away from wilderness areas and toward private land.

Looking at state-wide numbers, it appears that the last ~5 years have been quite good in Idaho. 2014-2018 harvests all exceeded 20,000 elk. 2018 had 22k. That's better than the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.. and most of the 1980s, where harvest virtually never exceeded 20k. Of course, maybe fewer people were hunting back then, so I'm not sure that the comparison means anything. In any case, apparently the heyday was the 1990s, where harvests were frequently in excess of 25,000. Which is higher than last few years, but not *a lot* higher.
(Historical numbers from here: https://www.wafwa.org/Documents and Settings/37/Site Documents/Working Groups/Elk Workshops/1984 Edmonton Alberta Elk Workshop/1984 Edmonton Alberta Elk Workshop/Idaho Elk Population Status-Depredation Problems.pdf)

Of course, even if things are good for the state as a whole, certain areas might be a lot worse off, which would fit what others are saying here. That would make sense if the game have shifted locations and habits due to predation.
You have very little idea what you’re talking about. Best not to engage with you or you will spout on forever. Move along, man.
 

Okhotnik

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Until you see the affects of a pack predator after having hunted the same drainages since 1980 don’t try to speculate on why harvest data looks similar. I have personal experience of what has occurred in north Idaho since 1980. You used to find 100s of elk camps and long time elk killers you now find ghosts towns and locals writing on the river road the elk are all dead thank you fish and game. As noted above there used to be a liberal cow season it is as then reduced when wolves moved in and now is gone. You can still hunt cows near private property only as that is where the elk have migrated in many places as they are safer next to people than evading wolves 365 days a year. This then helps to make the data look much much better than it is in many units. Plain and simple in backcountry north Idaho areas in many drainages established wolf packs put a big hurting on the populations of ungulates and if you don’t have decades of hunting in these areas before the wolves you have no idea how things have changed. Fish and game never says anything negative about the wolves it is always something else on why things have gone south.

Where is Buzzh and all the other urban dwellling wolf luvers to tell us wolves greatly improve elk numbers😂😂

Once again a shame that elk and moose numbers have been decimated in N Idaho
 

Mike7

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Ross sums it up really well I think.

One of my coworkers lives right next to a small town in the CDA River valley. For the past few years, she has had a herd of elk spend the entire fall right in her yard and the surrounding neighbors' yards, despite the elk getting shot at by neighbors on land owner permits (this is a new phenomenon for them).

Also her husband 2-3 years ago, arrowed a bull right from the corner of their house because it was kind of a novelty for them at that point, because they didn't get anything while hunting in the mountains, and because the bull kept bugling every morning right by their bedroom window apparently. It was all of 30 yds to transport that elk to their shop to be processed.
 

WV Mountaineer

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Wolves change things. People who like the idea of wolves can look at things in a way that supports their mantra that things are great now they run rampant


People who don’t dislike wolves but, understand that they have severely impacted ungulate herds don’t like that affect. And see the changes the animal has had on their lifestyle and simply don’t buy the stats.

I’m in the second boat. Game departments very where study herd losses. When big cats, spring bear season, outlawing of running bears with dogs, inflated bear tag costs, and all variables add up to a large population of predators among ungulate herds, you get decreasing prey. It is that simple. But, studies always promote habitat loss, disease, etc... it’s simply retarded to believe that.

X amount of mouths equal x amount of effect. When you visit wolf country, it is more then obvious there aren’t as many mouths eating the forage as there used to be. And decreased herds don’t create that phenomenon. Nor does loss of habitat.

Wolves are here. For whatever reason it is being accepted by locals. And wildlife departments, along with the wolf lovers, point st every reason but the reason, as to why numbers of ungulates haven’t changed. It’s pure ignorance to say anything but wolves have created this. And changed things permantely until their presence is lessened.
 

RCB

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You have very little idea what you’re talking about. Best not to engage with you or you will spout on forever. Move along, man.
Look, I’m just trying to square the state’s harvest numbers, which have been quite high recently, with what people are saying here, which is that things have gotten worse. Would appreciate any help resolving the difference. Sounds like one explanation that others have said is that elk have moved from traditional wilderness areas to private. That would explain why some public wilderness areas that used to be great now suck, but on the whole harvests are still high. If I’m completely off base, please correct me.
 

GregB

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Idaho
Interesting. Sounds reasonable that predation pressure would move elk away from wilderness areas and toward private land.

Looking at state-wide numbers, it appears that the last ~5 years have been quite good in Idaho. 2014-2018 harvests all exceeded 20,000 elk. 2018 had 22k. That's better than the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.. and most of the 1980s, where harvest virtually never exceeded 20k. Of course, maybe fewer people were hunting back then, so I'm not sure that the comparison means anything. In any case, apparently the heyday was the 1990s, where harvests were frequently in excess of 25,000. Which is higher than last few years, but not *a lot* higher.
(Historical numbers from here: https://www.wafwa.org/Documents and Settings/37/Site Documents/Working Groups/Elk Workshops/1984 Edmonton Alberta Elk Workshop/1984 Edmonton Alberta Elk Workshop/Idaho Elk Population Status-Depredation Problems.pdf)

Of course, even if things are good for the state as a whole, certain areas might be a lot worse off, which would fit what others are saying here. That would make sense if the game have shifted locations and habits due to predation.
You can’t compare total number of elk taken in the past to current numbers as a way to gauge herd health or successful hunting. There were far fewer hunters in the 70s, 80s etc. taking about the same number of elk as today. Idaho’s population has about doubled since the 80s. There are also a lot more hunters coming from out of state.
 
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Pacific_Fork

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May 26, 2019
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Wolves change things. People who like the idea of wolves can look at things in a way that supports their mantra that things are great now they run rampant


People who don’t dislike wolves but, understand that they have severely impacted ungulate herds don’t like that affect. And see the changes the animal has had on their lifestyle and simply don’t buy the stats.

I’m in the second boat. Game departments very where study herd losses. When big cats, spring bear season, outlawing of running bears with dogs, inflated bear tag costs, and all variables add up to a large population of predators among ungulate herds, you get decreasing prey. It is that simple. But, studies always promote habitat loss, disease, etc... it’s simply retarded to believe that.

X amount of mouths equal x amount of effect. When you visit wolf country, it is more then obvious there aren’t as many mouths eating the forage as there used to be. And decreased herds don’t create that phenomenon. Nor does loss of habitat.

Wolves are here. For whatever reason it is being accepted by locals. And wildlife departments, along with the wolf lovers, point st every reason but the reason, as to why numbers of ungulates haven’t changed. It’s pure ignorance to say anything but wolves have created this. And changed things permantely until their presence is lessened.
Cant it be a combination of all of the above? I think you have to look at it that way, habitat is the number 1 reason for population decline in most species across the west. Pretty sure all conservation groups like RMEF state that as well. That could mean subdivisions, highways, AND lack of proper logging/forest management that promotes proper feed. They put out fires when they shouldnt, etc...Then comes predator management or lack there of. That doesnt always fall on DFG, each state has different circumstances. IMO Idaho hunters just need to up their skills get off their couches in the winter and kill more wolves. Not saying anyone here is like this but most that complain about wolves dont hunt them, its like complaining about politics but not voting. Ill be living there 1-3 years from now and I will try my best to contribute. Wolves are here to stay, so get out there and hunt your d*ck into the ground to help the ungulates because IDFG cant do it all for us.
 

LostArra

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Cant it be a combination of all of the above? I think you have to look at it that way, habitat is the number 1 reason for population decline in most species across the west. Pretty sure all conservation groups like RMEF state that as well. That could mean subdivisions, highways, AND lack of proper logging/forest management that promotes proper feed. They put out fires when they shouldnt, etc...Then comes predator management or lack there of. That doesnt always fall on DFG, each state has different circumstances. IMO Idaho hunters just need to up their skills get off their couches in the winter and kill more wolves. Not saying anyone here is like this but most that complain about wolves dont hunt them, its like complaining about politics but not voting. Ill be living there 1-3 years from now and I will try my best to contribute. Wolves are here to stay, so get out there and hunt your d*ck into the ground to help the ungulates because IDFG cant do it all for us.
Did you hear the wolf biologist on Meateater podcast? She would talk to specific hunters she knew to get some wolf intel since all wolf hunters are not equal, just like elk hunters. If I remember correctly she said most wolf kills are by a small number of very good wolf hunters. I guess it shouldn't be surprising but I just figured wolves are killed by hunters with a wolf tag who are out chasing elk or deer.
 

Pacific_Fork

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Yea I heard that podcast and agree that there is a very small number of determined wolf hunters in comparison to all other big game species. They dont fare well on the dinner table and are tough to kill, so I get why most hunters after deer and elk season dont want to make the time to hunt them. But since they are here to stay and have an effect on ungulates many should consider contributing to management and network/strategize with others in their local hunting grounds. I think that is a more effective than complaining on the internet, but hey what do I know.
 

LostArra

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Here is how the success rate in those areas probably breaks down; 85% with outfitters, 14% DIY who've have hunted there a long time and have the area dialed in and 1 idiot who just got really lucky.
Don't those Hmong guys (Pure Trophies) hunt northern Idaho? Seems like I heard one of them on a podcast. They seem to have it dialed in.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk
 

Wrench

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WA
A couple things to think about, I hunted pre digital era with paper tags. I won't lie, I never did harvest reports. I know most never did either.

Secondly, name 3 people you've even heard of taking an elk at 800 yards or more. It aint happening. We talked about wild shots....but in hindsight, they were likely around 500.

Today some kid with a YouTube video and a visa card can dump elk sized critters with alarming regularity from two zip codes away.

Do we kill as many elk still? No. Do we see as many elk now? HELL NO.

There's a reason guides moved away from a multi generation money pit....
 

Shrek

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Success in the Panhandle is from long time hunting locals and apple maggots. It’s not really a destination for general out of state hunters. The place is not very easy to hunt and as a first timer up there it would be incredibly hard to find much less kill elk. Even without the wolves it’s a really hard place to hunt. It’s not a place to hike around and glass as it’s very thick.
 

WV Mountaineer

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Cant it be a combination of all of the above? I think you have to look at it that way, habitat is the number 1 reason for population decline in most species across the west. Pretty sure all conservation groups like RMEF state that as well. That could mean subdivisions, highways, AND lack of proper logging/forest management that promotes proper feed. They put out fires when they shouldnt, etc...Then comes predator management or lack there of. That doesnt always fall on DFG, each state has different circumstances. IMO Idaho hunters just need to up their skills get off their couches in the winter and kill more wolves. Not saying anyone here is like this but most that complain about wolves dont hunt them, its like complaining about politics but not voting. Ill be living there 1-3 years from now and I will try my best to contribute. Wolves are here to stay, so get out there and hunt your d*ck into the ground to help the ungulates because IDFG cant do it all for us.
I'm not disagreeing with the premise of what you say. Only thing I'll add is the wolves are the only new variable from the other list of things you posted. Its the wolves man. Habitat quality is increasing if anything. Not decreasing.
 

Okhotnik

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Dammit. I couldn't kill an elk. and poisStupid wolves. mtmuley

Lets stop hunting, trapping and use of aerial and poison to the control wolves in Montana like in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Michigan and see how your public Land ( no private ranch hunting) Montana skills fare in about 10 years . Buzzh says the herd will grow and be much healthier. lol

Get a non res elk tag for unit 1 in Idaho and post your pics on here of your 300 inch plus bull. Montana is super close so scouting should not be an issue lol. Just do it and post on here if its so easy
 

87TT

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Idaho
The numbers are like apples and basketballs. There are so many variables and ways to count them that it can't be reliable. The fact is that there used to be a lot less hunters and a lot more elk and deer. So maybe no one reported there harvest then and some don't now. I remember when all the states were OTC. Idaho had some big elk but their non resident licenses were more than double than the other states. Now we are the catch all/ go to for people who don't draw or just want to go. There never were the big numbers of elk like the other big elk states and now with huge increase in non resident hunters the elk are getting scarce. The wolves have just added another big stressor to the herd. And one we don't and never did need. Maybe any non resident who thinks wolves are not a problem or are a good thing should just STFU and stay home.
 

WV Mountaineer

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Dammit. I couldn't kill an elk. Stupid wolves. mtmuley
Lets stop hunting, trapping and use of aerial and poison to the control wolves in Montana like in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Michigan and see how your public Land ( no private ranch hunting) Montana skills fare in about 10 years . Buzzh says the herd will grow and be much healthier. lol

Get a non res elk tag for unit 1 in Idaho and post your pics on here of your 300 inch plus bull. Montana is super close so scouting should not be an issue lol. Just do it and post on here if its so easy
He isn't interested in discussing anything. Only being an antagonist.
 

LostArra

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Success in the Panhandle is from long time hunting locals and apple maggots. It’s not really a destination for general out of state hunters. The place is not very easy to hunt and as a first timer up there it would be incredibly hard to find much less kill elk. Even without the wolves it’s a really hard place to hunt. It’s not a place to hike around and glass as it’s very thick.
Apple maggots?
 
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