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Illinois hunting and fishing

Three wolves in Illinois in 2010?

March 18, 2010 at 10:44 AM

This has already been an unusually busy year for wolf watchers in Illinois.

Since January, at least three credible reports of large canines have surfaced out of northern Illinois.

Closest to home was a shiny-toothed rascal shot near Walnut in Bureau County last week by a coyote hunter. Though details are sketchy and genetic testing has not been conducted, that may well be the sixth wild wolf confirmed in Illinois and the second this year.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Another large, wolf-like canine was shot near Big Rock in northern Illinois in January according to Bob Bluett, furbearer biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “It was taller than the guy when it was hanging from its hind feet,” Bluett said.

And just this week Bob Coine of Oregon came forward with a trail-camera picture taken on March 9 that appears to show a live wolf walking along the edge of a corn field.

“A picture doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s sure a whopping good candidate,” Bluett said.

Beyond reports that include some proof are a rash of recent sightings from near Tiskilwa, Toulon and elsewhere.

Is Illinois suddenly overrun with canis lupus? Will the soulful howls of timber wolves become commonplace in the Prairie State?

“It’s hard to tell a wolf from a coyote at 150 yards. If somebody comes clean, it’s been my perception that (federal investigators) can accept the fact a mistake was made,” Bluett said. “But it somebody starts shipping hides and doing other stuff, they get in a corner as to how much they can follow federal rules for endangered species and where that line is.”

Most biologists believe wolf numbers in Illinois are very low. That view may change if somebody turns in a female wolf or some young pups.

But late winter is prime time for young male wolves to get booted from their pack and to wander.  Those are the wolves we’ve seen in Illinois, whose wanderings prove the journey from Wisconsin is very doable for a four-legged canine looking for love.

The first confirmed wild wolf in Illinois was shot on Dec. 29, 2002 by Randy Worker in Marshall County. I still remember fielding that call and thinking, “No way is this a wolf.”

Since then we’ve had three other wolves killed in Illinois and a handful dispatched in neighboring states. That’s why I’m now quicker to believe callers who cry wolf. Actually, I’m surprised when a year passes without a dead wolf.

Then again, barring changes in federal status, wolf reports may dry up in the future. More hunters are aware it is illegal to shoot wolves in Illinois, since the canines are protected as both a federal and state endangered species. I bet a handful of timber wolves had already bit the dust in recent years without so much as a mention.

That’s true even though wolf shooters typically go unpunished in Illinois. “It’s hard to tell a wolf from a coyote at 150 yards,” Bluett said. “If somebody comes clean, it’s been my perception that (federal investigators) can accept the fact a mistake was made.”

Beyond concerns about repercussions, wolves are starting to create other worries.

Coine fears for personal safety. “I am genuinely concerned,” he said. “I’ve spent time in wolf country in Alaska, the Arctic and Canada. Wolves are predators and there are certain things that trigger them to attack.”

Others says top-line predators could put even more pressure on the Illinois deer herd.

Personally I see both concerns as an overreaction given the current status — even in the wake of news that a jogger was apparently killed by two wolves in Alaska this week.

In my mind, while there is limited suitable wolf habitat in parts of Illinois, there are too many people, cars and roads for the big predators to last very long.

Then again, as Bluett notes, “I think (wolves) have proven to be a lot more adaptable than people once thought.”

A lot more widespread in Illinois this year, too.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

aj-I’m guessing that is directed at me.  Yes, I do own land and yes, the deer are very abundant.  Around here, the deer trails look like cattle paths.  I can only imagine how envious you must be because I know how blessed were are, as compared to other areas in the state.  Last year the people that hunt our lands held 24 permits.  We took 3 bucks and 3 does.  It’s not that we couldn’t have filled every tag…it’s just that we don’t work that way.  It’s about fun, not blood and bone.  We also have a “no shoot” policy for coyotes and everybody adheres to it.  They are fun to watch.  Lots of pheasant, too, so we know the coyotes aren’t hurting them…too many mice to eat.  There are eagles, otter, turkey and just about every critter that’s native to Illinois.  Been seeing cougar in the area since I was a boy and, yes, the wolves are here, too.  I’ve seen them, as have others.  You should hear them howl.  It’s a thrill!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/22 at 09:17 PM

I seen 4 wolves over the past 5 years where I am at. I had a pack run through my crick just 2 weeks ago. Both me and my dogs know the difference between a wolf and a coyote and buddy..these were wolves.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/22 at 10:11 PM

coyotehunter-what part of the state are you in?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/22 at 10:22 PM

Well Spoon I am glad you have plenty of coyotes on that vast wonderland of wildlife you own (oh wait, this is the US of A, you do not own the wildlife).

More food for your future wolf pack, or are you going to have a chat with the wolves and request they not kill the coyotes?  Kinda like that deal you have with those very lucky hunters that choose not to fill their tags.  You would think with 100 deer per mile they would shoot a few more and donate the meat?  Yeah, your right…wolves would probably be a better idea.

No envy here, I assure you…I can kill as many deer in the sate of IL as I need.  But…thanks for letting all those freeloaders know (in every other post) you are a big stuff land owner.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/22 at 10:48 PM

aj-simmer down.  I’m not sticking it in anybody’s face and I am not trying to upset you or anyone else.  The fact is that there are a lot of landowners who in this state who rightfully take pride in providing habitat for wildlife because they enjoy watching it more than they enjoy killing it.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  And I know that wolves will work over the coyotes…but that’s OK, because it’s a natural thing.  And AJ, nobody gave me anything.  I’ve driven junk cars my whole life, went without vacations, live in a modest house, never had a great paying job, wife didn’t work as we raised our children.  Doing without allowed me to buy the right farms before prices got really stupid.  I don’t regret a thing and I don’t apologize for my feeling that observing apex predators is more awe inspiring than looking at any run-of-the-mill deer.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/22 at 11:19 PM

SpoonRiver ... What part of Illinois do you own land? Sounds Like a great place for HawgNSonsTV do I get an invite?

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 03/23 at 03:01 AM

Aj the reality is what 100 to 1000 wolves would kill per year could be easily offset just by taking NR archery tags back down to the level they were in the 80’s and 90’s, not too mention the state could stop shoving doe tags and doe seasons down our throats to increase the number of fawns.
Yes two zones in Idaho are having problems, the rest of the state is actually showing some growth or remaining stable. Why not include that? It’s real facts for ya.
I have not got the impression that Spoon River was trying to act big from owning land. I think he’s just disagreeing with you and you don’t like it.
I hope others are just as scared about wolf attacks, more room and open woods for the rest of us and in that case I say lets bring them in.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 05:34 AM

For what it’s worth Spoon River, I stopped shooting coyotes on my property years ago. Fact is they better at killing each other than we are at killing them, and if they get overpopulated, diseases like parvo set numbers in order real quick. More importantly, the coyotes kill and eat the nest raiders like racoons. I read a study in Quality Whitetails that basically stated if you shoot an alpha male coyote all the bitches come into heat and you just end up with more coyotes so I figured why interfere? My time is better spent improving habitat.
At this point in my life my gray haired head could care less what anyone else has to say about it and if someone wants to call me a PETA whatever they can have at it but I’ve got wild quail, turkeys, swans and herons sucessfully nesting on my land so I get the last laugh.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/23 at 09:05 AM

Hey Cougs -

1.  NR bowhunters bring much needed money into this state, they buy permits and they hunt with-in a defined season.  Wolves only take and take at will.  As for the doe season - I would rather fill a doe tag than let wolves slaughter them and maybe, maybe not eat the deer they kill.

It is more than 2 zones in ID (that was just my example).  You dont care about elk numbers in any zone in ID…because you dont hunt elk in ID.  I have a feeling the hunters in those areas impacted by wolves would disagree with you.  Please provide proof of a stable or growing population state wide.  Recent numbers, not some lame article from 2004.

This is what spoon said in a previous post: 

“As a landowner, I would love to see a healthy wolf population.  As for the wolf-hating hunters?I?ll bet the largest portion of them don?t own even one acre of ground.  Bunch of free-loading cry-babies?”   

I don’t mind if people disagree with me, that is what a good debate is all about.  As for your last comment, most land in IL is private anyway and if you are talking about public land…pretty sure usage numbers will not change.  Glad to hear your man enough to hunt mushrooms with all these wolves around though.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 09:06 AM

AJ-you’re right.  That last comment was out of line.  I’m was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to buy the farms that were for sale.  Honestly, I have sympathy for people who want to own land, but cannot afford to pay the high prices.  Unfortunately, buying ground in Illinois looks like its become a rich man’s game.  Add to that the trend to cut down every tree and plow every pasture in order to make the world safe for corn and beans means that most Ordinary Joes are not likely to have the same opportunities I enjoyed.  And that is sad….

Henry, isn’t it funny how priorities, perceptions and outlooks change as the years pile on.  Love the Leopold reference.  One of my favorites…“To have an understanding of ecology is to live alone in a world of wounds.”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 09:39 AM

It seems those that want to bring wolves back are longing for a feeling that we still live in a wild and untouched world.  There is a struggle to take us back to the old days when there were fewer people and our country was ‘wilder.’  I get that and believe me I share the sentiment.  I would love to see 80 million bison migrating across the great plains, but I know that will never happen.  Like I have said in previous post, I would be all for bringing back wolves if they were truly endangered.  Unfortunately, we can not roll back time and moving forward I say we have enough wolves in NA.  Their presence simply creates too many problems, for too many people.  I like the mystic of having these animals amongst us, but I am all for limiting wolf numbers to their current population. 

In terms of large predators I would be more supportive of black bears and mountain lions.  Those animals would create far fewer problems, have much less of an impact and they both taste good.  Wolves are a different story…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 10:39 AM

A great writer, and he wrote about wolves too.
“We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.
In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.
I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.
We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: In wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.”

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/23 at 11:18 AM

Yeah, Henry, we could all use some more Thinking Like a Mountain….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 12:53 PM

Ok Aj read some more Here is another one on elk
I have also read somewhere that wild wolf populations bring in tourism dollars as well and seriously I don’t think the 15 NR doe tags are bring in a windfall for the state to waste.
So you would rather have people kill more does and deer total, just as long as a species that was once native does not establish a small breeding population. There you go guys its thinking like this that’s gotten the deer herd in the shape its in. Wolves may 13,000 deer a year and they are evil for it, We killed how many 188 thousand last season and its ok since it was in a limited amount of time. Great logic

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 02:31 PM

Another thing AJ, I haven’t seen anyone wanting wolves in every stand of trees. Personaly I think if a once native species gets a toe hold it should be allowed and managed, while it has been pointed out Illinois is different now which I do not dispute. I think the state could still easily support 100 to 300 of them in certain areas, without all the doom and gloom and something to keep in mind all the other apex predators you mentioned come with their own problems, but I still wouldn’t mind if they came back or are all ready here.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 03:28 PM

Wow cougs…you just proved total elk numbers increased from 1984 until 2009, congratulations.  My numbers are specific to the years since wolves have been re-introduced.  I don’t know what that 1st link was supposed to prove??? 

You bring up a good point.  RMEF has raised and spent millions of dollars to:  improve and protect habitat, bring elk numbers back up and re-introduce elk to their native range where they recently did not exist.  A big concern for RMEF now is all that work will be for not because of the re-introduction of wolves.  All that work, all that money raised by sportsmen and now (in some areas) those elk are being slaughtered.  What a shame and RMEF is all for killing wolves in NA…

I really don’t understand your logic.  You say all we need to do is limit NR bow permits to feed these hypothetical wolves and then you say those permit numbers are insignificant in terms of revenue generation.  Which is it – are they significant or insignificant?  Don’t even start about tourism dollars.  Tourism dollars to take pictures of wolves is a joke compared to the cost of:  bringing wolves back, managing wolves, loss of permit revenue and reimbursement to livestock producers.  Our federal government has spent 10’s of millions of dollars bringing wolves back and managing them.  Tourism dollars…jeez…what a joke…

Right off FWS website….
“A total of about $30 million has been spent since wolves were first listed under the ESA in 1974. Once wolves are delisted, states will begin to fund some of the cost of wolf management through other funding sources, including other types of federal funding.:

And yes, I am glad hunters in IL have access to such a valuable resource.  Hunters in this country ‘produce’ millions of pounds of meat that they use to feed themselves and their families.  I don’t want an animal that is not endangered needlessly slaughtering those animals.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 03:49 PM

Henry, I’ve read those words a thousand times and each time I read them I feel like I’m reading them for the first time. Classic.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 05:16 PM

It’s not about me and my selfish consumer desires to hunt whitetail. It’s not even about wolves. It’s about preserving a piece of of our state’s natural heritage. I’d like for my grandkids to be able to see nature the way I saw it, the way my father saw it, and the way my grandfather saw it, rather than them learing what big bluestem is only from a textbook. How sad would that be to live in a world surrounded by corn, soybeans, autumn olive, amur honeysuckle, and asian carp. No, it’s not about welcoming the wolf back to Illinois with open arms. But if habitat restoration and wildlife management in our state and in the surrounding states creates the opportunity for more wolves to naturally migrate back to Illinois, then I’d say we are on the right track. Protected or not, there is zero need to worry that wolves will have any impact on the state’s deer herd or to anyone’s safety.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 05:42 PM

Every year I carry one (or more) of his books into a treestand. “For the Health of the Land” and “The River of the Mother of God” are my landowner recipe books.
Too much to do and not enough time.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/23 at 05:53 PM

LOL - in rereading my last post, I realized that we ALREADY live in a world surrounded by corn, soybeans, autumn olive, honeysuckle, and carp. Okay, then, nevermind. A wolf would have to be crazy to want to come back here. wink

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 05:55 PM

I agree with that shelbyhuntr and all my arguments have been against some hypothetical reintroduction that would never happen. 

The whole reason I got involved in this discussion is all the misinformation I was reading.

Wolves kill only the sick and weak, wolves rarely kill domestic animals, wolves always eat what they kill, wolves never harm humans, wolves do not have an impact on elk, deer and moose numbers. 

All those talking points are what defenders of wildlife and similar groups want you to believe.  And they are all patently false.  If you are regurgitiating that nonsense you are doing the work of organizations that are against hunting.

Another component that has not been mentioned.  Anti-hunters and anti-hunting groups would love to have a healthy wolf population all over the country.  More wolves equals: fewer animals, fewer permits, less hunting opportunity.  Make no mistake about it…wolves are one of the arrows in the quiver of the anti-hunters.  And that is a fact.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 06:02 PM

To some, wolves are evil for killing without cause and without eating much of what they kill.  This is more a poor rationalization to justify killing wolves, than an observation rooted in fact.
  Typically, wolves consume impressive portions of their prey, eating all but the rumen contents, larger bones, and some hair.  They routinely eat what you and I would not dream of eating ? the stomach muscles, tendons, marrow, bones, hair and hide.  They typically consume 80 to 100% of all that is edible.  By wolf standards, every American deer hunter I know, including me, is wasteful.  A wolf?s gut is not so different from ours that we can?t appreciate what it means to resort to eating such parts.
  These eating habits make sense: starvation is a very common cause of death for wolves, killing prey requires a tremendous amount of energy and is a life-threatening prospect for a wolf.
  Two circumstances give false impressions.  First, it may take several days for a pack to consume a carcass, or they may cache it and consume it later.  The ultimate utilization of what may appear to be a poorly utilized carcass is routinely verified by merely revisiting the site of a deer/moose carcass at a later date.
  Occasionally prey are unusually abundant, prone to starvation, and easy to capture.  Under such conditions wolves may eat relatively small portions ? only the most nutritious parts ? of a carcass. 
  In this regard, wolves are no different from any other creature in the animal kingdom.  Along migration routes during spring, when song birds many be extremely abundant, hawks sometimes kill many of these birds and eat only the organs, leaving behind all the muscle.  Spiders suck a smaller portion of juice from their prey when prey are more common.
  These are examples of an inviolable law of nature ? utilization decreases as availability increases.  The average American throws away about 15% of all the edible food that they purchase.  Ten percent of our landfills are food that was once edible.
  Finally, waste is a matter of perspective. What wolves leave behind, scavengers invariably utilize.  Foxes, eagles, ravens and even smaller scavengers may benefit greatly.  To a chickadee, for example, a carcass is the world?s largest suet ball.  Scavengers make waste an impossibility.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 06:51 PM

Quetico, this is refreshing.  After reading posts by Cougs, Henry, yours and others…I come to the realization that wolves do have a chance in Illinois.  It’s time for the USFWS and the IDNR to get with the program.  Sure, there will be a lot a screaming and testy exchanges, but for good ecological reasons we have the opportunity to return the keystone apex predator to Illinois.  And it’s not a choice between deer or wolves.  It’s a choice between ecological repair or stagnation.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 07:15 PM

I have experienced the carnage first hand in the clearwater river country in ID.  After snow melt, literally 100’s of elk and deer carcasses in a short portion of the river I walked along.  Hamstrung, flanks ripped up, chewed around their butts and left to rot.  Those animals congregate along the river in the winter to avoid the deep snow and it was a killing field.  Same would happen to yarded up deer in IL.  And there are not enough ravens and magpies in the state of ID to clean up that mess. 

Man Spoon - I can not figure you out.  You complain about the deer being like fees, nature is out of balance and then you brag about not shooting the deer on your property.  If it is that bad, shoot a few of them until the wolves arrive.

This potential problem will probably end up like social security and medicare.  You old geezers will create the problem and the young uns will have to clean up the mess.  smile

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 08:17 PM

Um well first of all aj, wolves are more successful when hunting in deep snow something we lack a lot of here in IL.secondly you asked for proof of stable elk populations I’d say the link I posted above shows that up till 2009 for the whole state, not two zones So now are you trying to say 800 to 850 animals decimated the elk herd since april of 2009?
Now here is the tricky part for ya look and see what month it is right now, right we just got into 2010, guess we will have to see what the new counts will be for the state, not the two zones your clinging too just to try and prove your right, oh and here is a little history lesson for you about one of the areas you mentioned from Idaho DNR
Historically, elk herds were scattered and numbers were low in this area. Few big game animals were found along the Clearwater River by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s, probably due in part to the dense, unbroken canopy of forest that covered the entire area. Wildfires burned over vast expanses near the beginning of the twentieth century, creating vast brushfields which provided abundant forage areas for elk. Elk numbers increased following creation of these brushfields, and elk numbers apparently peaked around 1950. Elk herds declined into the 1970s, partially due to: 1) maturation of the brushfields and declines in forage availability, 2) logging and road-building activity that increased vulnerability of elk to hunters under the then more liberal hunting seasons, and 3) loss of some major winter ranges. In response to declines in elk numbers, an either-sex hunting regime was replaced in 1976 with an antlered-elk only general hunting season. Elk herds began rebuilding.
I find it funny you mention misinformation, wouldn’t using only partial facts be just that? Now add in some fear mongering on how the wolves will eat us, our pets and kids and when that doesn’t work lets throw out the scary anti hunters.
The truth is just like I said originaly, a lot of people do not want anouther person shooting an animal they could have shot let alone a predator species. Example cars kill just as many deer as wolves yet no one is wanting car eliminated. People killed more than 190,000 more than 10 times the number wolves did yet look around at posts here and else where and there will be some idiot saying the wolves killed them all in wisconsin.
All that being said I do think it would be a struggle for wolves in this state with all the roads and cars, not saying its impossible, but it would be hard.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 05:29 AM

Can you imagine what it was like when the first humans crossed Beringia into the New World? It’s safe to assume it was something like unleashing one of the most highly skilled predatory hunters on the planet against a population of naive herbivores that had never laid eyes on a human. I suspect it was a blood bath. This probably explains why paleo indian populations spread so rapidly, always moving into new territory with it’s easy picking.
In the book “Bows on the Little Delta” Glenn St Charles describes something similar. In wild Alaska before WW2 he could walk up to wild goats and shooting arrow after arrow at them. They never been hunted before by modern humans. No fear in the goats whatsoever. They learned.
Example #3? A bunch of naive cervids hanging out along the Clear River that had never seen or been hunted by a wolf. I bet the ones that survived learned quick.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/24 at 08:36 AM

Cougs, wolves are smart.  My guess is that if lone wolves moving south can avoid traffic, then established packs can, for the most part, do the same.  And the places where packs are most likely to be successful are so predominately rural that wolf/vehicle encounters will probably be negligible.  My guess is that an examination of wolf road-kills in Minnesota and Wisconsin would probably bear this out.

AJ—A short story—my dad likes to tell of him and his brother-in-law jump shooting ducks off the river.  One day as they crept up on a bend that always held ducks, they raised their heads to see a large buck drinking out of the river.  He says they forgot about the ducks and just sat there watching the deer, because they had never seen one before.  When they told others that they had seen the deer, they were called liars, because as everybody knew, there were no deer.  The year was @ 1955.

The deer, turkey, otter, beaver, bobcat, badger, wolf, bear, cougar, elk, bison…all hunted to the point where there where none left.  The passenger pigeon was made extinct and the raptors that had not been shot were being poisoned by DDT.  The prairie chickens were gone, as was, the Giant Canada Goose.  There were virtually no coyotes. The only things that were common in Illinois was quail, fox, rabbit, squirrel, coons, muskrat, opossum and migratory ducks.

What a difference 50 years and hunting regulations can make.  Would anyone argue that the re-introduction and recovery of some of these species has been a “bad” thing?  What gives us the right to draw the line when it comes to wolves, especially when their return is the product of natural behavior?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 08:39 AM

Should we bring back the dinosaur also?

Posted by Marc Anthony on 03/24 at 08:43 AM

Henry H. - I must be turning that age corner -
your book quotes are great.
Yes too much to do - every yr seems shorter.

Maybe the wolves will keep the deer moving all
day long.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 08:45 AM

Marc-You know, I never thought about it.  But now that you bring it up, I don’t think bringing back the dinosaurs would be such a good idea.  They’d eat our pets, take small children off play-grounds, eat all the deer and kill anything else they could catch just for the fun of it.  That’s way too scary to contemplate.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 09:27 AM

“Should we bring back the dinosaur also?”
Marc, did you read that article last winter about elk herds east of the Mississippi? I think it was in Outdoor Life. I’ve been saying for years we should bring back elk in the Shawnee and everyone tells me I’m nuts. JMHO Illinois is pathetically behind the times on a lot of these issues. We’re being left in the dust. Makes me want to follow the trail of Hawkeye and move to the KENN-TA-KEE wilderness :^)

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/24 at 09:34 AM

Well put, Spoon River. I’ve heard and read it quoted that as a species only roaches, whitetails, and coyotes could outlive the human race. I see a little bit of truth to that. You’ve captured my general sentiment towards the issue. Natural migration of wolves back to Illinois is not going to be like a scene from some Sci-Fi horror film (e.g., wolves crashing through someone’s living room window and devouring an entire family). But maybe it will teach pet owners to be a little bit more responsible with their pets wink And just maybe we as hunters have grown a little too complacent and can’t remember past yesterday*. For the record, I don’t advocate the intentional release/reintroduction of wolves back into Illinois. But if they find suitable habitat here on their own, then I consider that an achievement.
*That comment is not directed towards anyone in particular.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 09:39 AM

“Marc-You know, I never thought about it.  But now that you bring it up, I don’t think bringing back the dinosaurs would be such a good idea.  They’d eat our pets, take small children off play-grounds, eat all the deer and kill anything else they could catch just for the fun of it.”...SpoonRiver.
Wow, it sounds like what the wolves will do! LOL.
The dinosaur remark was all in fun! I just thought it would lighten it up a bit, that’s all. I remain to my original thoughts that I’m not against the wolves, just believe that it should be studied before moving forward.

Posted by Marc Anthony on 03/24 at 10:33 AM

Henry, I also believe we should bring back the elk. That idea was shot down so fast because of the FB it makes you sick. KY already has a healthy and prosperous herd and is a poster child for what can be done in the Midwest. Illinois is so far behind….

Posted by Marc Anthony on 03/24 at 10:35 AM

Marc-yeah, it was sarcastic and I got that.  As for studying the problem, I’ve seen government studies before.  Keeps the egg-heads busy and the result is usually bias toward the highest bidder.  I think the money could be better spent on educating people about ecology and funding livestock depredation programs.  The wolves are already here and more are on the way.  I’d rather see the money spent on minimizing the “conflicts”.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 10:42 AM

Nothing wrong with a study and a management plan. In fact these things would help sustainability if wolves were to reastablish. Spoon can’t disagree with you there wolves are smart and nature does seem to find a way if given a chance. Guess I keep picturing them trying to get through cook county/chicago, but they have more options than that.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 10:56 AM

Funny thing about human/wildlife conflicts.  The state “owns” the wildlife and yet when deer destroy crops, the state does not reimburse the farmer.  When a muskrat destroys a dam, the state is nowhere to be found.  When a beaver girdles a nice bottomland oak, that’s just too bad.  When turkeys scratch out the seed corn, it’s ignored.  When a car hits a deer, it’s the insurance company who pays and by extension, every auto policy holder…but not the state.  When a coyote kills livestock, again, it’s the insurance companies burden.  When mice eat the wiring out of a combine, well, you get the picture.

That compensation of livestock kills by wolves stands as the exception to this trend exemplifies the animal’s unique status.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 11:05 AM

I will respond to cougs since he called me out.  Deep snow or not, deer in IL congregate in the winter and they would be a very easy target.  A wolf pack in IL would slaughter the yarded up deer, no question about it.

Thanks for the history lesson.  Did you get that vital information from IDFG’s 1999 elk management plan?  Page 12?

Wow – 1999…once again Cougs is right on top of these numbers.  How am I providing partial facts?  My numbers should go back to the days of Lewis and Clark?  Seriously?  Are we talking about wolves or forest fires and winter kill?  I provided numbers that are relevant to the discussion….my numbers are since wolves have been reintroduced.

Tell ya what Cougs.  Get a hold of a guy that has been hunting the lolo herd of elk for the last 20 years.  Tell him to quit crying because state wide the elk numbers are stable.  After he stops yelling at you, tell him…you know, that area held few big game animal in the days of lewis and clark.  That will probably convince him that wolves are great.

Let me run another scenario by you.  Wolf lovers convince the feds and idnr that we need wolves.  The genius’ decide my part of the county I hunt is the perfect spot to drop off a few.  The wolves flourish and we have a local, 80% reduction of our deer herd.  But – statewide deer numbers are doing great.  So you are going to tell me tough crap, state deer numbers are fine so suck it up?  That mentality is part of what is wrong with this country.  I think wolves are cool so you deal with them.  Not in my back yard and it is all great as long as it does not affect me.

Which brings up another big issue with wolves in NA.  Idaho and Wyoming and to a lesser extent Montana – did not want wolves.  The feds and wolf supporters (predominately in unaffected cities) said tough, you are getting them and you are going to deal with them.  It is a Freedom and liberty issue.  Not unlike this health care bill we just had shoved up our ever loven rear ends.

Cougs – enough with the straw man arguments.  Cleary we can not eliminate cars, but we can keep wolves from increasing in number and we should.  One last thing - I am no fear monger when it comes to wolves.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 12:13 PM

For anyone who’s interested here’s a link to the Wisconsin DNR wolf pack map.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/24 at 12:29 PM

“Example #3? A bunch of naive cervids hanging out along the Clear River that had never seen or been hunted by a wolf. I bet the ones that survived learned quick.”

I hear what you are saying and hunting goats has not changed all that much since Mr. St. Charles hunted them.  I am not arguing with you - but, those elk probably were not that naive.  They had already been hunted by coyotes, bears and lions.

And I am all for brining elk back to IL, they would do really well in southern il.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 12:35 PM

Ha…This whole slobbering enviro love fest is enough to make a person puke.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 03:55 PM

I know what you mean.  It’s almost enough to encourage a person…Ha.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 05:45 PM

Time to go - If you’re gonna spew, spew into this <offering a folded paper cup>. Just be sure to recycle the cup when you’re done. wink

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 06:12 PM

Hey if he’s gonna spew I think he should aim for his keyboard.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/24 at 08:16 PM

Personally this is my all-time favorite discussion on More than 150 comments and none of them have been deleted yet. Wow. Thanks. Probably jinxed myself, but thanks.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 03/24 at 10:20 PM

Marc ...I like your idea to bring back the dinosaur… The ONLY part that concerns me…is The massive dung beetles that come with those mountainous piles of scat!

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 03/25 at 03:09 PM

Jeff I agree. This was an interesting discussion.
The reintroduction of a species is bound to be a hot button issue, and wolves, cougars, bears, and elk in Illinois are no exception.
I went to the St Louis Zoo today with my youngest’s kindergarden class, and I have to say, I always find world-class zoos depressing. They are chock full of animals on the brink. On the one hand I’m glad to see the science at work, and dedication of the keepers, but on the other hand, it’s a sad comment on human nature that we exploit so much and give back so little.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/25 at 04:20 PM

Henry, I haven’t stepped foot in a zoo for 20 years…for exactly the same reasons.

I went for a 4 mile shed hunting walk today.  Lots of ducks and geese, coots, an otter, muskrat, vultures, a pheasant kill, a beaver that’s set up shop in the wetland and two mature eagles.  They say there’s a nest just up-river.  I carry a Peterson’s Field Guide and found what appears to be wolf tracks, working along the river.  Even found a scat pile that looked like it contained predominately coyote fur.  Unlike the coyote, somehow, I managed to return to my keyboard uneaten.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/25 at 05:23 PM

SpoonRiver…Are you claiming that not only does the wolf breed the coyote…they perform oral?

Posted by HawgNSonsTV on 03/25 at 05:29 PM

Evidently, it’s a tough neighborhood…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/25 at 06:19 PM

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