LETTER: Moose Story Overlooks Wolf Factor

By Beacon Staff

The story on Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s ten-year study of declining moose populations (Feb. 20 Beacon: “What’s Happening to the Moose?”) seems to be a case of “ignoring the elephant in the living room.” Barely mentioned is the wolf factor. If FWP collared 12 cows, how will they record the killing of the calves? One hunting guide said he saw about 30 moose during the season, but not a single calf! No calves means no future herd. The adult moose will also be in a weakened condition by the constant stress and moving caused by the wolf pressure – therefore much less fat going into winter, and less resistance to disease. Each wolf kills an average of 11 elk per year, so each pack is killing perhaps 60 to 100 elk/moose; the effect of the calves and fawns being killed would multiply the devastation.

The article said moose are quickly declining in Minnesota, where wolf populations have exploded … but the only place moose have increased is in North Dakota, where there are very few wolves (accidental correlation?) The FWP article did mention the effect of reduced logging – opened areas allow in sunshine so we can see berries and bears, rabbits and lynx, grass and grazers. Less logging causes more destructive fires and less calorie habitat for wildlife. More wolves cause less elk, moose and deer, which cause less hunting licenses sold. Less licenses means the FWP will become another agency like the U.S. Forest Service – once financially solvent and self-sustaining, but poor resource management cause it to become another ward of the federal Government.

There are times Occam’s razor states there is an obvious answer standing in front of us, and it isn’t an elephant.

Steve Mangold

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