Nature’s Noel

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As I sit looking out my window this Christmas Eve, my thoughts travel many miles to a valley in Montana where a family of wolves settle in against the harsh Montana Winter. My thoughts also travel to Alaska where a wolf pack follows the faint scent of a meal that had long past.

So often at this time of year we reflect on the love of family and friends and all that is good. Yet we pause not for even a moment to reflect on the incredible beauty of nature and how little we’ve done to protect it.

In Alaska more than 1000 wolves have been killed by aerial hunting. Ran to exhaustion before they are shot from the air, the wolves have little chance to escape the bullet. Protection has been lifted on the wolves of Yellowstone as well. Hundreds have already been shot for no reason other than being a wolf.

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Idaho has extended their wolf hunt into the Spring denning period when wolves are particularly vulnerable. Killing just a single pregnant female can have a huge impact on the population.

Polar bears are drowning due to lack of sea ice yet no one really seams to care about the changing climate. Why can we spend untold billions of dollars to fight a war that in the end changes nothing, yet we refuse to spend anything on our planet that is dieing.

Follow Me on Pinterest We’re poisoning our water, we’re polluting our air. We’re overfishing our oceans, we’re destroying our rain forests. Is it even possible for us to stop?

As I watch the snow fall silently upon the frozen ground outside my window, I worry about our planets future. I hope that you and your family have a joyous holiday. I hope one day our planet and all it’s inhabitants, human, plant and animal can do the same.

Below is my Christmas gift to you. It’s the most precious gift I can give.
I hope you enjoy it.

[flv:http://www.silverphoenixllc.com/phoenixblog/movies/Noel.flv 592 331]

About Kevin J Railsabck

Award-winning filmmaker Kevin J Railsback has traveled as far as Africa to test HD cameras for Panasonic.
His stunning nature and wildlife footage has appeared in productions on National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel as well as in commercials for such corporate giants as AT&T.

Comments

  1. Chelsie (WolfGirl) says:

    Message to webmaster: I was setting up a cause on facebook to stop Sarah Palin’s aerial hunting and I just wanted permission to use picture: wolf_dead_insnow1 for the causes main picture to show how torturous this is to them.

  2. Jenstapio says:

    Wow you are such a tree hugger. I think they should kill all the wolves in the united states of america they are killing all the elk and deer do you ever think of that? the elk and deer are doing nothing but being themselves.

  3. Your ignorance is amazing!
    If you would take a moment to actually check facts you would see that, wolves are not decimating the deer and elk populations.

    In its August newsletter, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game summarized recent elk studies and found only a minority of elk populations are declining and wolves are culprits in few.Read more: http://magicvalley.com/news/local/wood-river/article_64d3fe91-1afd-5794-b5a0-62129c6f11ca.html#ixzz1cUChs7AF

    You will see that hunters actually are to blame for the largest declines, not the wolves.

    You use the term tree hugger like it’s something derogatory. I have no problem standing up for the environment and the animals that inhabit our Earth. In fact I’m quite proud to stand up for what I believe in. It’s fear mongers like yourself that should be embarrassed  by your lack of knowledge of the natural world.

  4. One wolf just one eats about 15-19 deer per year then multiply that by how many wolves there are. The united states made a huge mistake by reintroducing them to the United  States Canada warned us but the “tree huggers” pushed it and now we are in a world of hurt. I know people who have had the wolves take and kill there dogs right off there front porch. Theodore Roosevelt got rid of the wolves for a reason he was very smart and knew what he was doing. I am personally a hunter and each year I can see the difference in the number of elk and deer since the wolves have become a problem. In one town in Idaho there use to be around 250 elk that wintered  there last year there was 2 elk that wintered there you can’t tell me that the number of elk fluctuates that much naturally. Gray Wolves are not native to  Idaho, montana and Wyoming and all the other states that deal with them, God would not have put them in these states if they were not beneficial to those states. The wolves have decimated farmers sheep herds, I could go on all day about the trouble these carnivores make but I will stop there and let you chew on that for awhile. I don’t think the wolves should be all killed in areas where they are native but I do think they need to be controlled. Hunters are not to blame for the decrease in elk populations we are only able to hunt elk about 3 weeks a year and we have to pay for licenses and tags and hunting is the economical system for many states. Why would nonresidents want to pay more to come and hunt in a state where the wolves have killed off the populations of game? The wolves on the other hand hunt year round and kill lots of the calves and fawns, which we need for the population to grow. Here is a statistic for you between the wolves and bears they have a 98% death rate on calves. Hunters can’t kill the calves, wolves and bears can kill what ever they want whenever they want. As a hunter I will fight till the end until the wolf mess that america has on our hands is taken care of and I guarantee all the hunter men and woman would agree with me. Hunters kill animals for meat to provide for their families not just for pleasure of killing. The wolves will go and kill animals and never eat them in the spring when they are teaching there young how to kill, you can’t tell me that is ethical. Hunters put hard work into hunting they scout for hunting spots young hunters take hunter safety courses, we spend time preparing, we target practice, we love the outdoors and will spend weeks hunting all this to see the wolves decimate what we are hunting for is very disheartening.

  5. Seriously? Not native to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana? You just invalidated your entire argument because you have no clue as to what their historic range was.
    Here, I’ll hold your hand and give you some help:
    http://www.sightline.org/maps/animated_maps/Wildlife-Wolf-CS06anim
    Check out the historic range. Isn;t that Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in there?

    You’ve been spoon fed all the propaganda and you’ve swallowed it all.

    It all comes down to a couple things. Wolves disperse elk and deer across their range. So, hunters have to actually hunt. It may seem like there are less deer and elk because they’re not standing around like cattle any longer.

    Besides, if there are so few deer and elk, why do they have to feed elk in Jackson Hole elk refuge to make it through the winter? Stop feeding them and see what happens. It’s because elk would never winter in that area but we’ve built upon all the places they would typically migrate to in the winter time.
    So, the land that is undeveloped cannot support the amount of elk that inhabit that area. But because hunting brings in so much revenue, elk numbers are kept unusually high so hunters can be assured of bagging and elk and come back to spend more money.

    It’s not a wolf problem at all, it’s a human problem. If you think anything different then you’re part of the problem.

    Wolves prey on the young, old, sick and injured. If it came down between a old elk and a young trophy bull elk, which do you think the hunter would shoot? I bet not the same one that the wolves would try to kill.

    Once again, you say tree hugger like it’s a bad thing.

  6. Oh and the actual mortality rate is around 50% not 98%. Most which were killed by bears not wolves. In fact, studies have show that wolves kill very few elk calves.

  7. I agre with Jenstapio

  8. Please view this link, and read all of it please you will not be able to argue with these statistics. http://www.rmef.org/NR/rdonlyres/B5773431-39F6-4028-8BA6-2AF3EF8E7A31/0/RMEFLtrDefenders410.pdf

  9. Yet they still have to feed thousands of elk every winter at the elk refuge. If you have to feed elk to get them through the winter then you have more elk than the land can support. Simple as that.

  10. Jenstapio says:

    The wolves are still to blame.

  11. Jenstapio says:

    I believe bears need to be controlled to. They are almost as much of a problem to the elk population as the wolves.

  12. http://feedingtheproblem.org/tag/national-elk-refuge/
    Says right here you have too many elk. Even the professionals are trying to reduce the herd.
    So if they have way to many elk they feed every winter I’d say there’s not a problem with not enough elk. The problem is you’ve grown accustomed to having them hang around like cows so you can shoot them.
    Wolves just make them act like they are supposed.

  13. Yet grizzlies are threatened and endangered in the area. Huh. I’d say they need more protection cause their numbers are going down.

  14. Jenstapio says:

    What about black bears?  I know grizzlies are few and far between but they are protected and can not be hunted in the lower 48 states.

  15. They have hunting seasons for black bear already.
    Basically you’re just ticked because wolves have made elk behave like elk, not cows and now hunting is not as easy. So you want to eliminate the wolves so you can shoot your elk before your coffee gets cold in the morning.

  16. No I’m not ticked that it’s harder to shoot an elk but the wolves are going to kill all the wolves. and the tree huggers wont let us poison them.

  17. We only have to feed them because where they  would normally  winter we have populated those areas with houses and they can’t forage so they are drawn into feeding stations.

  18. So once again…You have more elk than the land can support.
    If an elk needs X amount of land to feed itself and there is only Y amount of land available to forage then you have too many elk.
    So maybe the answer is to eliminate people from living there giving elk more land to forage. When are you moving?

  19. And what would give you the right to poison them anyway? 
    Elk are a threat to the cattle industry because they carry Chronic Wasting Disease. Just another reason that biologists want to reduce the elk herd. That many animals all in one place make it easier to spread the disease.
    I would think you’d want wolves to take out the diseased elk which are easier to hunt down.

  20. Thats not my point. My point is that we only feed them because we have taken there winter grounds from them not that there is more elk than than land can support.

  21. If there’s not enough forage to sustain that many elk where you have to feed them or they will starve to death, then you have too many.
    Your argument is that we’ve taken away their feeding grounds so we have to make up for that by feeding them.
    We don’t feed deer in the midwest and biologists are trying to reduce their numbers because of record vehicle collisions. You’re telling me Chicago didn’t take up a lot of their winter feeding grounds? They don’t feed them there.
    There are no predators to keep the number in check so even with increased hunting limits there still are too many.

    So once again and I’ll type this s l o w l y so you can understand. If you have to feed elk to keep them alive then you have too many elk. If you stop feeding them, you reduce the number of elk that can make it though the winter with the amount of forage available.

    It all comes down to money. Out of state hunters bring in a ton of money. So if they go home without an elk, they won’t be back. So numbers are kept artificially high to ensure a greater chance of success.
    Wolves help balance the predator prey numbers and keep elk acting like elk thus lowering the hunters success rate which means less money for the state.
    It’s not about wolves, it’s about losing money.
    You have too many elk if you have to feed them.

    But I guess the point is moot. In August a judge ruled that the US Fish & Wildlife must phase out the feeding:
    A federal appeals court confirmed yesterday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s obligation to phase out artificial winter feeding of elk and bison at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The court’s ruling responds to a lawsuit brought by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Wyoming Outdoor Council, National Wildlife Refuge Association and Defenders of Wildlife challenging a 2007 refuge management plan that allowed the indefinite continuation of winter feeding on the refuge despite overcrowding and the threat of diseases.
    It has become apparent that crowding of elk and bison on winter feed lines—like crowding of children in a kindergarten class room—exposes the animals to a high danger of disease transmission.
    Although the court did not order the Fish and Wildlife Service to set a firm deadline for ending the feeding program as the conservationists had requested, the ruling made it clear that the harmful practice must stop to protect the refuge and the elk.
    “With this decision, the courts have confirmed that ending feedlots on the National Elk Refuge is critical to protect the long-term health and viability of elk and bison populations,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should quickly develop a timeline for elimination of supplemental feeding.Did ya read that part about overcrowding? That means there are too many.

  22. From a guy that ran the feeding program. Even he says there are too many elk! Are you from another country or something that you can’t understand this?
    The decades-old practice of feeding elk throughout western Wyoming has created a grossly overpopulated herd prone to disease that could cause large die-offs and spread throughout the Yellowstone region.
    That’s among the findings of a new book written by Sheridan resident Bruce Smith, a retired wildlife manager who ran the feeding program on the U.S. National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyo.
    Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/elk-feeding-grounds-in-wyoming-criticized/article_f875193e-49ef-541b-8088-290e01b48fa1.html#ixzz1gGxnTWLN

  23. Jentapio, I have a few questions for you,
    What came first the Wolf or the gun?
    What came first the wolf or European settlers?
    God “put them in states where they would be beneficial” What rubbish is that?
    Here is a reality that you seem to have totally overlooked, the NATURAL world does not need human beings at all to florish in fact it would be far better of without us,If there are a high number of predators this is only possible because there are a high number of prey animals for them to feed on as predators cannot exist without a sufficient food supply.
    Here are some FACTS for you Jentapio, the gray wolf is native to ALL of North America, Canada and to some extent Mexico (yes I guess God put them everywhere) their natural range was vast as was that of their prey.
    How do you explain the vast numbers of Bison, Elk, Moose and Deer that existed very much with wolves before you and your shooting buddies arrived, duh, might want to think about that one!! Pehaps if you spent more time studying natural history and less time shooting targets you might realise that the “tree huggers” were right all along.
    Its the depressing simple minded blind views of people like you that cause species to have to cling on to existance, as if the ever increasing problem of human population and encroachment in to natural enviroments is not a big enough pressure for wild animals already!!
    What was that bullshit about hunters not killing for fun and “providing meat for their families” please! here is some info for you, there is a place called a supermarket that all have butchers counters that sell tonnes of meat at very affordable prices (much cheaper than a hunting licence), so you see you don’t need to spend weeks chasing an Elk or Moose whose head and antlers you think might look good on your wall round the woods do you!!
    The fact is that Wolves are natures way of keeping the natural balance in check, the more prey animals there are the more wolves there will be, the less prey animals there are the more wolves will starve to death. Wolves should be respected and left alone to restore the balance, killing the weak, sick, old and yes on occasion young animals including that of other predators if they can get them.
    Just one last thought Jentapio, if Elk numbers rearly are declining (and there not) and it is the big bad wolf killing them all and not the thousands of hunters with guns and thats just the legal ones, then go figure this, The native American Indians lived entirely off the land hunting all the animals you like to shoot today, they never removed the wolf from any parts of its range indeed they lived in harmony with the wolf, so how come the animals like the bison they hunted NEVER ran out or became endangered untill the white european settlers arrived?!!   

  24. Your free to leave this world if you think we’re to blame!!! I will stay here and enjoy the outdoors before the wolves ruin it. I have a question for you what do wolves eat they eat elk and deer right????? Ok so wolves rely on elk and deer for food and we have an estimated 1,500 wolves, and each wolf kills an estimated 40 elk a year and 19 deer a  year. With the number of wolves there are they will need to kill around 40,000 elk a year to survive how are the elk populations going to thrive when 40,000 elk get killed each year?!

  25. Lobo Please read this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Once again, cause you are seriously dense. You have too many elk because you have to feed them because there isn’t enough for them to eat during the winter. If you have to feed them, there are too many!!

    Its a miracle then that wolves and elk coexisted for centuries before we came along. Your alarmist bullshit is getting old. Wolves are not the problem, We are!

  27. How many elk does each wolf kill?

    These figures have been batted around a lot lately. The only good figures over several years come from the winter wolf studies on the northern range. There is an early winter study when prey are strong and a late winter study when prey after weaker. The average since the winter studies began was 1.4 elk per wolf per month for the early study and 2.2 elk per wolf/month in the late winter study. The average is 1.8 elk per wolf. People multiply that by 12 and come up with 21.6 elk per wolf a year. However, there are some caveats. Yellowstone is a multiple predator system. Prey not quickly consumed by wolves is often lost to bears, coyotes, eagles, and especially magpies and ravens (where did that word “ravenous” come from anyway?). Wolves may have to kill more prey in much of the Greater Yellowstone to make up for losses to scavengers as compared to Idaho.

  28. The biggest threat to elk in the N. Rockies is not the wolf, but rather the loss of habitat due to residential and industrial development. Development not only displaces elk into an ever-shrinking range of quality habitat, but also results in the loss of sportsmen access to traditional hunting grounds. For this reason, preserving as much of our wildlands as possible for elk and all wildlife is crucial, and will require a sustained, cooperative effort by conservationists, sportsmen and wildlife lovers.

  29. Well, here’s the numbers from the state of Wyoming.
    2009 23,798 elk were killed by hunters.
    Wyoming estimates that there are 120,000 elk which is FIFTY PERCENT OVER their ideal hear size.
    Montana has 150,000 elk which is 14 percent over their ideal herd size.
    Only Idaho showed a slight drop with 101,100 elk.

    Like I’ve said time and time again, it’s because people are lazy and don’t want to actually hunt to get their elk. Case in point, Montana had to suspend its hunter with disabilities licenses because so many people were abusing it so they could hunt elk from the road in their vehicles and even hunt in places where other hunters couldn’t. Hunters are just getting lazy because they had it easy with elk just standing around. Now they have to hun and you don’t like it.

    What about all the cattle that graze on prime elk habitat taking away all that browse that the elk could be eating? Why are we allowing the cattle to feed on our public land when the ranchers aren’t even paying fair value for the grazing rights? Why aren’t we eliminating them if we have to feed elk because there’s not enough food for them to survive?
    Why are we allowing elk to roam all over when they carry Brucellosis and bison are sent to slaughter?
    It has nothing to do with wolves and everything with making money and hunters just being lazy asses.
    We need to be reducing elk numbers but they keep them high for all the money they bring in. Wolves aren’t the problem. The success rate was over 40% for elk in Wyoming last year.
    What was it 1996 or the year after that when thousands of elk starved to death?
    Harvest numbers are staying consistent according to the state itself yet you sniveling whiney hunters are crying because you have to actually hunt. How pathetic you must be!

  30. Put your calculator down Jenstapio, EACH wolf needs an elk for itself every week?!!!! what a load of garbage, you see wolves are PACK animals one elk feeds a PACK of wolves of maybe seven to eight animals for a week.
    This means then that if all 1500 wolves or in reality 214 packs consumed ONLY elk (which they would not do) the hit on the elk population each year would be a maximum of about 11,000 elk, given the North American elk population is in the hundreds of thousands I would say wolf impact was minimal.
    If you can watch (yellowstone an unnatural history) on youtube you might find it informative, happy veiwing!!   

  31. Over_go18 says:

    Jenstapio, i hate dumb red necks

  32. Just read this the other day “Montana considers elk reductions to curb disease”
    Funny, I thought the hunters swore that the wolves had killed them all?
    Will love watching the hunting lobbies go up against the ranching lobbies to try and spare the elk. Karma can be a bitch sometimes when you lie about the truth!

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