Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

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Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

Post by pawnee » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:26 pm

Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles
The debate over wolves, long a hot-button topic, has heightened with a decline in deer numbers, more frequent wolf sightings and an increase in livestock depredations.

By Doug Smith, Star Tribune

Chris Bangs has no doubt there are more wolves roaming his hunting land in northern Minnesota these days, and that the wolves are likely responsible for a decline in deer there.

"I hunt with 10 or 12 other people, and we all are seeing significantly more wolves,'' said the 53-year-old Bangs, of Woodbury, who has hunted the 1,500 acres in northern St. Louis County and southern Koochiching County since he was a kid.

"We saw 12 to 14 wolves over 10 days of hunting last fall. We now see wolves in broad daylight, while we're on our stands and doing deer drives. In the past, we saw just an occasional track.''

And, Bangs said, the group's deer harvest has been down the past three years.

Bangs isn't alone in his opinion. Other Minnesota deer hunters have expressed concerns to conservation officers and wildlife managers that there appear to be a growing number of wolves, and that the wolves are responsible for a recent decline in the northern deer herd.

State officials acknowledge that wolf numbers likely are as high as they have ever been -- estimated between 2,200 and 3,500 -- and that deer are their No. 1 food. But they say wolves alone don't drive deer populations.

"Winter severity, hunter harvest and a change in the forest [habitat] -- all of those things factor in whether a deer population increases or decreases," said Dan Stark, Department of Natural Resources wolf specialist. "Wolves are a component of that, but not a driving factor.''

Among the scientific evidence, he said:

• Research indicates wolves eat 15 to 19 adult-sized deer yearly, and with about 3,000 wolves, that would be 45,000 to 57,000 deer yearly. An estimated 450,000 deer populate the state's forested wolf range, meaning wolves are killing 10 to 13 percent, Stark says. Hunters kill about 100,000 deer in that region
http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdo ... page=2&c=y

Last update: January 27, 2010 - 1:01 PM
T he article continues with a second page...it won't load for me...sadly.
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Re: Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

Post by Sintact » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:57 pm

Continued: Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

A 15-year DNR study of white-tailed deer monitored the movements, survival and causes of mortality of about 450 radio-collared female deer in northern Minnesota. Researchers also radio-collared 55 wolves. The annual mortality rate of the deer from wolves ranged from 4 percent to 22 percent. The highest rate was during the severe winter of 1995-96; typically, the rate is 5 to 10 percent.

• Despite high wolf numbers, hunters have harvested record number of deer since 2003, five times exceeding 250,000. "We had some of the highest harvest of deer in the last decade even with a robust wolf population,'' Stark said. Deer harvest numbers have fallen the past two years, dropping to below 200,000 last year.

• The high reproductive potential for deer is a key to why they can thrive despite wolf predation and hunter harvest, Stark said. The DNR study showed the average age of does was 5 to 7 years old, and about 13 percent were 10 to 18 years old. Pregnancy rates were 90 percent for yearlings and 95 to 100 percent for does 2 1/2 to age 15.

• A high percentage of the deer killed by wolves likely would have died anyway, because wolves prey on the most vulnerable deer, including the young, old, sick and injured, Stark said.

DNR officials have said deer numbers are down in some areas because of recent tough winters and liberal hunting regulations. But livestock depredations from wolves have been up recently. Last year, federal officials received 201 wolf depredation complaints and confirmed 95. Federal trappers killed 196 problem wolves, up from an average of about 140.

"Wolf numbers probably are at the peak and they will start dropping,'' Stark said, because of the smaller deer herd. "We aren't going to have a lot of wolves if we don't have a lot of deer.''

Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, is among those who want to see the state gain control of the wolf from the federal government and allow some wolves to be hunted to reduce their numbers.

Bangs agrees: "In the past, wolves were extremely wary and wanted nothing to do with us. But now ... they don't run away ... they no longer are afraid of us.

"To me, wolves are a great animal, beautiful and deserve their place. But it would be nice to keep them in check."
Interesting article, pawnee. Since you were not able to put the second page, there it is.

My opinion in this article is that humans are worrying too much, or in other words, we are interfering with wildlife in an extreme way. There shouldn't be hunters that hunt down deers or wolves; they should follow the natural process of life and death, not interfering with it, respect it.

It is obvious that if there are so many wolf organizations that protect wolves, and there are so many hunting groups that opt for killing deers, there will not be a balance between predator and prey...

Hmm, I had a second opinion, but I forgot it... I will write a new comment soon.

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Re: Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

Post by Songdog » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:58 am

Perhaps they forgot that wolves and deer have a cycle; one goes up and the other goes down, and then vice versa.


I predict that people replying to this will make messages about how hunters are the real source of the problem. And before this happens, I'd like to remind users not to make hunter-bashing posts, or the topic may be locked. Please keep the conversation productive.

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Re: Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

Post by -x-Zaroque-x- » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:43 pm

Songdog, I thought that Pawnee was a fellow Moderator? What did she do wrong?
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Re: Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

Post by Songdog » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:49 pm

Lyenza wrote:Songdog, I thought that Pawnee was a fellow Moderator? What did she do wrong?
Nothing? Where did I imply they did anything wrong? Please, stay on topic.

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Re: Wolves vs. deer: A controversy rekindles

Post by Tally » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:44 pm

Hmm...ecology classes should be a required course in high school. I think that would really cut down on people being so eager to blame the wolves whenever the population of deer wavers. Also, the article says that the deer pops are declining...but I'd like to know what the ideal population size would be for the area.

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