Flamesky wrote:I would disagree with the idea that culling is always done in the best interests of the wolf population, especially if it's done on the behalf of ranchers who are grazing their cattle on public lands near wolf pack territory. Splintering a pack can actually lead to more altercations with livestock if you continue to graze cattle in that area. Personally I think culling should only be done as a last resort. I do agree that wolf populations are very resilient and people can underestimate how they recover quickly.
I did say "may," not "always." And, according to this study, your first point regarding pack splintering by way of culling leading to increased altercations between wolves and cattle does not seem to hold water.
From "Wolf Lethal Control and Livestock Depredations: Counter-Evidence from Respecified Models":
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/artic ... ne.0148743
There is widespread acceptance that increased lethal control of wolves reduces the number of livestock killed by wolves . Such acceptance has been rarely subject to empirical scrutiny. To the best of Wielgus and Peebles’s  knowledge, to which we concur, the long term effectiveness of lethal wolf control–in reducing livestock depredation–has not been “rigorously tested.” In their recent article “Effects of wolf mortality on livestock depredations” published in this journal, Wielgus and Peebles  empirically tested the hypothesis that there is a negative relationship between the number of lethally-controlled wolves this year and the number of livestock depredated the following year. Based on statistical modeling, and in contrast to their hypothesis, Wielgus and Peebles  reported that the number of livestock depredated the following year was positively associated with the number of wolves killed the previous year. ... In the spirit of rigor, validity, and the pressing need for effective management and policy decisions, we proceeded to test the replicability of Wielgus and Peebles’s  findings, thanks to the open accessibility of this journal to the requisite data. ... The results of our replication suggest that Wielgus and Peebles’s  best models were misspecified; their conclusions do not hold in the respecified models. We present alternative conclusions given these new findings.
... We did not find any statistical support for the Wielgus and Peebles’s  findings in this replication. This could be because the original models were misspecified. Rather than more culling of wolves leading to more killings of livestock in the following year, our results indicate that more culling of wolves would lead to fewer killings of livestock in the following year than expected in the absence of culling. Two recent studies conducted at the wolf pack level also support our findings directly or indirectly. In the same study area, Bradley and others  report that compared to no removal, partial and full pack removal of wolves reduced the occurrence of subsequent livestock depredations by 29% and 79%, respectively, over a span of 5 years. Similarly in Idaho, it was found that killing of wolves would lead to decline in the recruitment (as measured by pup survival to 15 months) in wolf populations , which may in turn lead to fewer livestock depredations in subsequent years. How wolf populations respond to lethal control is a complex phenomenon. It seems that wolf removal reduces livestock depredations but the magnitude somewhat depends on the type and timing of removal and timing, as well as the recruitment behaviors of wolves.
Contrary to your second point, Washington's wolf management plan does
enact culling as a last resort, after non-lethal methods have been tried and failed and after wolves have preyed on livestock three times in a 30 day period or four times in a 10 month period.
https://www.agweb.com/mobile/article/wa ... ed-cattle/