Managing wolves is not so easy | PostIndependent.com
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Managing wolves is not so easy

I had to chuckle at your coverage of the “wolf management working group” meeting. It sounds like a lot of the “work” involved arguing over “process” and generalities. I have sat in those meetings and they are “work” but they don’t usually accomplish much. You end up back where you started, which was where some natural process conflicted with man. Man always wants to tinker with the natural processes to make it work for him.In this case I don’t think man is going to be able to “manage” the wolf. Wolves are probably here as we speak or will arrive in more numbers in the winter or spring. The one that was killed on I-70 had already reported back to his cousins in Yellowstone that this was a good place to make a living as a wolf. More will follow soon. With our large federal areas, multiple prey species – mainly exploding elk herds – and room to roam they will do quite well.Now this creates ulcers for ranchers of sheep and cattle, and I can’t blame them. Sheep and cattle are dumb, easy to kill and taste just fine to a wolf. But the wolf is opportunistic, and it has been demonstrated that by constraining livestock during lambing and calving periods and actually sending out herders and riders with the animals along with guard dogs the losses can be kept to a minimum.Some of the discussion at the meeting centered on where and when you could shoot the wolves. Bonnie Kline, executive director of the Colorado Wool Growers, said, “I don’t want them now and I don’t want them at the end of the plan, but I’m trying to be a team player.” Poor Bonnie, she is setting herself up for a lot of frustration and stress. Let me understand. … Livestock growers in Colorado are struggling to make ends meet; without government subsidies and tariffs on competing products from foreign countries they couldn’t make it. They have all these animals running around their ranches that aren’t worth much and the first animal to show up on their ranch that is worth something they want to shoot it! How about this concept, HOPE that a wolf pack establishes a den on your ranch. They immediately take over the 300 head of elk that has been eating your alfalfa and start moving them around the ranch eating a few at a time. You quietly and quickly dig an observation pit on a hill where you can see the wolf den. Make a deal with your buddy in town with the motel. Van out 10 tourists for a two-hour viewing period at dawn and another at dusk. You charge them each $100 each. Sell them a T-shirt and run them off. You maybe clear $1,000 a day during peak denning periods. Little better than a $100 lamb once a year?The more enterprising of you might even get into the eco-lodge/elegant dining/ photo safari high-end market. Take a seminar in Aspen. To conclude, people need to accept and embrace the wolf in Colorado because he is here and without the use of poisons, traps and snares, all prohibited by Amendment 14 of the Colorado Constitution, you will not be able to control where the wolf goes and what he does. Shooting is the only legal method of management. As a rancher in Montana told me, “Once you start shooting at them, they get real smart.” Yellowstone has shown that if you don’t shoot at them, they will let you observe them.So Bonnie, don’t worry, be happy, the wolf is on the way. While the “working group works” the wolf keeps running south.John Seidel has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1971. He was a biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife for 28 years and served as the statewide predatory mammals biologist before retiring in 1999. In 1960, Seidel spent the summer working on a Wyoming sheep ranch putting up hay, drilling rye, and shooting coyotes, prairie dogs, and rabbits in defense of the flock.John Seidel has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1971. He was a biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife for 28 years and served as the statewide predatory mammals biologist before retiring in 1999. In 1960, Seidel spent the summer working on a Wyoming sheep ranch putting up hay, drilling rye, and shooting coyotes, prairie dogs, and rabbits in defense of the flock.


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