NFR How wolves change rivers....

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by tinman207, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. Blackbugger

    Blackbugger Active Member

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    The park has to be one of the most heavily studied "wilderness" areas in the world.
    Living here in Bozeman I've always kept a casual eye open for any info that pertains to the park.
    There have been all kinds of studies going on that are more or less summed up in that video.

    If the goal is to have a relatively diverse ecosystem (in the park) that is somewhat balanced and as "wild" as that particular section of land can be then I don't think there is any question that wolves are good for Yellowstone.
    However the park boundaries are imaginary and with the human population increasing at a pretty fast rate in the area I don't think it's accurate to think of the park and the greater Yellowstone ecosystem as "wilderness". I guess it depends on your definition.

    Outside the park wolves are definitely a problem for humans. Way less elk around to harvest, predation on cattle, sheep, whatever..

    Wolves are being managed in Montana and there is a hunt.
    http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/planahunt/huntingGuides/wolf/
    For all the gnashing of teeth and hyperbole spewed over wolves in Montana this was always the goal.

    As far as anecdotal evidence goes I can definitely tell that there are a lot more willows and browse around the drive by creeks and rivers in the park than when I first moved here in '85.
    On 191 by Snowflake Springs on the Gallatin just outside the park boundary there used to be what IIRC was called an Elk Exclosure. It was a high fenced in area in the river bottom, maybe a 1/5 of an acre, that the elk, deer and moose couldn't get into.
    The vegetation inside was dense and tall where as outside it was heavily browsed down to a couple of feet.
    I'm not sure if the fence is even there anymore but the surrounding area is way, way more dense than it was back in the 80s and early 90s. I'm sure that's due to way less elk and moose around.

    There is also something going on with moose throughout the rockies, I've heard figures like their numbers have dropped by 50% regardless of whether wolves are around or not.
     
  2. tinman207

    tinman207 Active Member

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    Yea, I remember reading something about wildlife biologists saying the moose decline moat likely is due to many factors......hunting, wolves, climate change weakening immune systems, and thriving of white tailed deer in warming climates that spread brain worms to the moose.
     
  3. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    No biggie. It's an ongoing debate that pops up from time to time. Must by a cyclic thing. Just a subject not everyone agrees on... nor ever will.

    So far (to my knowledge) no one has been killed over the disagreements so no harm done. (I use wolves as an ongoing reference in some of my posts for satire purposes so gawd-forbid the wolf threads stop showing up!)
     
  4. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

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    As long as the wolf does not show up at the door.
     
  5. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

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    I heard the same thing from my parents about there being fewer moose in the area where they live in the Canadian Rockies. For what it's worth, there are and always have been wolves in the area. People can hunt them, but I only occasionally heard of anyone doing so when I lived up there. My guess is the novelty just isn't there because there wasn't a period where they were off limits.

    What I find interesting is that there were virtually no elk in that part of the valley during the 13 years I lived there, but now, 18 years later, their numbers have gradually increased to a huntable population that seems to have expanded westward from the Mt Robson/Jasper park areas (where, incidentally, elk had to be reintroduced in 1920 from Yellowstone because they had been hunted to extinction in the area).
     
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  6. Vladimir Steblina

    Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

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    Good post.

    My only comment is on the "somewhat balanced". Even way back in the late 60's the concept of "balance of nature" was pretty much toast to most ecologists. It seems nature wants to careem from one extreme to another when it comes to ecosystems.

    So it is also with the word "natural". It seems that there are very few "natural" ecosystems left on the planet. IF they were there in the first place!! It seems that "primitive" man had more impact on ecosystems than we imagined.

    The real issue is what we want from wildlands. Elk are good. So are wolves. Wait. The orchardists in Chelan County want to kill all the elk. For me I need elk viewing for my business income.... they need elk so they sell their permits from the Wildlife Department for extra income.

    As you note the problem is not the park. It is the wildlands that surround the park. When I was working on Forest Planning we defined a "desired future condition" for Forest Service managed land. Many folks said they just wanted "natural" conditions. Natural is an act of faith more in tune with religion than land management.

    The good news is given the demographic changes in this country most of America will soon lose interest in National Parks, Forests, and BLM lands. When I started working in the 60's I always marveled at the ghost towns scattered throughout the west. There were people everywhere at the turn of the century. I even found a cabin at 5000 feet 20 miles from the nearest road and ten miles from the nearest trail inside Sequoia National Park from the 1930's.

    I suspect in 50 years people will be exploring the abandoned summer homes in Montana and other places and marveling at what possessed people to live so far from the cities.

    It is anybodies guess as to whether the wildlands will be in better or worse shape in the future.
     
  7. Blackbugger

    Blackbugger Active Member

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    Yeah, I wouldn't disagree with any of that and it's kind of funny because you're right, when I think about it my use of the word "balanced" really does has it's root in the late 60's-70's for me.
    When I use it now I actually think of it as representing normal fluctuations that could seem extreme at times. I don't actually think of it as some sort of stasis.

    So I suppose it's a poor choice of a word to use to describe what I actually think.
    I blame hippies....and Euell Gibbons.
     
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  8. pigburner

    pigburner Active Member

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    The video is describing an example of the keystone species hypothesis developed by Robert Paine, a zoology professor at the University of Washington (http://www.washington.edu/research/pathbreakers/1969g.html). If I recall, his work on the beach involved removing the starfish from a section of beach every week for a couple of years (he'd toss them out in the waves or nearby or something). The section of beach without the starfish changed in that short time from the typical diversity of life to a monoculture of mussels. Without the starfish to keep the mussels in check, they took over everything. Really quite interesting work, and there are a lot of examples how removing one species has ripple effects up and down the food chain.
     
  9. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

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    ;)

    "Many parts are edible."
     
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  10. jwg

    jwg Active Member

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    Are there any keystone species that are not predators?

    The examples in the article were all predators.

    J
     
  11. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    What is the best handgun to carry for wolf defense?
     
  12. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    None because a Wolf won't bother you unless you are messing with their young or are in the way of their kill. Or unless they are sick, Rabies.
     
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  13. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    The same you would for cougar and there are a hell of a lot more of them out there than there are wolves. There are cougar and bear in McDonald Forest at the edge of Corvallis... I've never seen either and we take a walk somewhere through the forest just about every weekend.
     
  14. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    ... now those are two experienced fish in the pond I would not have anticipated hooking. :D
     
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  15. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

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    Salmon are a keystone species
    There's actually a really good argument for the Yellowstone cutthroat, not the wolf as the true keystone species in Yellowstone.
     
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