Manmade problem led wolves to kill elk

By Jared Lloyd

A lot of noise has been made about the 19 elk killed last month by a pack of wolves in Bondurant. What has been lost throughout much of the coverage are the facts about what actually led to this extremely rare occurrence. Behind the headlines is a manmade story. To be able to understand what went down that night in Wyoming, these facts need to be understood.

To begin with, the elk in question were killed on a feedlot. Just like cattle, in Wyoming elk have feedlots as well. Picture anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand “wild” elk standing around waiting to be fed. Wyoming has elk feedlots all over the place. Come winter, these feeding grounds shovel out bales of hay for the elk like they are livestock. Elk are heavily concentrated in these feedlots, fed all winter long, and have learned to just stand around waiting for their daily handouts.

So why does Wyoming feed elk in the first place? Is it because predators in the ecosystem are killing so many? No. Wyoming actually considers elk to be overpopulated. This practice was started in part to keep elk from competing with cattle back when predators across the Rocky Mountains were at their lowest numbers. In the absence of predators, elk populations exploded. Come winter, these animals would flood onto ranches in search of food, gorging themselves on stocks of hay.

So what has all this done to the elk? Quite simply, elk no longer act like elk. Given that these animals have grown up in a relatively predator-free environment for nearly 100 years, elk are now being forced to come to terms with the reality of predators again. And in order to survive, lesson number one is not to stand around in groups of a several thousand, in one place, for months on end waiting for handouts from humans.

So what did the wolves do? They committed what is known as surplus killing. Occasionally, when prey is so plentiful, predators will kill multiple animals in one go. Scientists state that when faced with a bonanza such as the feedlot provided, wolves may kill with the intention to return as often as that food is available.


copyrighted wolf in water

4 thoughts on “Manmade problem led wolves to kill elk

  1. Yes, sounds like baiting to try anything to get them delisted, or it’s just a bad practice feeding them like this. Why can’t anyone get through to these people that it’s not good for the elk to artificially feed them? This is a debate that goes on and on. There’s reason to believe that it concentrates CW and other disease, and I read that these 19 elk had hoof rot. Whoever took the photo lined them all up for maximum advantage, but people havent fallen for it because they realize that wolves eat elk too, they just don’t ‘belong’ to humans! WY is beyond ridiculous.

    What happened to the 19 elk? No doubt the humans had a windfall of roadkill and took them home anyway, courtesy of the wolves!

    Also, how stupid does WY think the American public is? Loaded guns are allowed into Yellowstone and Tetons and other parks as it is, and so that means poaching and made-up stories of grizzly attacks so that some lying f**k can get a trophy. It goes on right now, it will be even more common once grizzlies are delisted. Look what’s happened with the wolves to see what will happen with our country’s grizzlies!!!

  2. I f’ing hate ‘human’ hunters. What a bunch of hypocrites! Flipping selfish, killing, self-important hypocrites. Demonize the wolves (and bears) for surviving, farm the elk so they have more to kill. Pathetic. And sad. Human hunters. The twisted, sick, serial killers of the world. They’ve got the ‘human sheep’ brainwashed to think it’s ok. What a crock! Long live the wolves! The “human” hunters can go to hell. Sorry for the rant. People make me sick. What are we without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, I would die from a great loneliness of spirit. And when man kills all of the beasts, and the planet, there will be nothing left and my ‘I told you so’ will be hollow and unheard. Bless the beasts and Mother Earth. I hope they survive the stupidity of not so superior man. Present company excluded…

    • Long live the wolves!

      Please don’t apologize! That may be my new mantra, right up there with ‘I support the right to arm bears’.

      When all the beasts are gone, not only will we be lonely of spirit, but bored out of our freaking minds!!!!!

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