In response to William Brock’s suggestion in His View (Daily News, Sept. 5) that wolves have wiped out elk in the areas where wolves were reintroduced in 1995-96, here are figures from the state game agencies:
Wyoming: 1995 elk population = 103,448; 1995 elk harvest = 17,695. 2017 elk population = 104, 800 (31 percent above objective) 2017 elk harvest = 24,535, average hunter success rate = 35 percent;
Montana: 1995 elk population = 109,500, no harvest data for 1995. 2018 elk population = 138,470 ( 27 percent obove upper objective) 2017 elk harvest = 30,348;
Idaho: 1995 elk population = 112,333, 1995 elk harvest = 22,400. 2017 elk population = 116,800 (18 elk units at or above objective, 10 units below for a variety of reasons including predation, human harvest, agriculture, habitat degradation), 2017 elk harvest = 22,751.
Bottom line: In all three states where wolves were restored in 1995-96, statewide elk populations have grown, and harvests have increased.
Has hunting been impacted?
In his masters thesis, “The Impact of wolves on Elk Hunting in Montana,” MSU graduate student Steven Hazen (2012) wrote, “Since wolves primarily prey on big game, Montana’s hunting industry will likely be impacted in various ways. Overall, wolves decrease hunter applications by 19.9 percent of the standard deviation in the southwest and 2.9 percent of the standard deviation in the west central region. This corresponds to 286 fewer applications in the southwest, but only 6 fewer in west central Montana ... (U)sing the current data available wolves are not having a significant effect on elk harvest in Montana. On the other hand, they are shifting demand in the southwest region from areas in close proximity to the border of YNP to areas farther away.” (Montana sold 235,600 big game hunting licenses in 2012.)