August 25, 2019

"Why, exactly, elk calves die after human activity as mellow as hiking is not entirely clear."

"Some likely perish because the mothers, startled by passing humans and their canine companions, run too far away for the calves to catch up, weakening the young and making them more susceptible to starvation or predation from lions or bears. Other times it may be that stress from passing recreationists results in the mother making less milk."

From "Americans' love of hiking has driven elk to the brink, scientists say" (The Guardian).

68 comments:

Birkel said...

Oh no!
Humans are the worst!
The authors should save nature.
They know what needs to be done.

Darrell said...

What do we have to do to drive The Guardian to the brink?
I'll gas up.

Sebastian said...

Leaving aside correlation vs. causation --

Time for elk to evolve.

Darrell said...

Elk will do OK.

c365 said...

So the problem is not from hunters, but people walking by. What if a lion walked by? If a tree falls in the forest and the momma elk hears it, does the baby get eaten?

David Begley said...

Crisis!

rhhardin said...

That and the Dutch Elk Disease will do them in.

Beasts of England said...

I blame L.L. Bean.

ga6 said...

Do they have elk in Manchester? I know they have a lot of out of control humans in the United fan clubs..

Fernandistein said...

"Elk population strong as species expands into more states" (2018)

++

[Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation] reports more than 1 million elk nationwide (1,113,419), up from 41,000 in 1907.

In 1995 Montana had about 10 percent (93,401) of the nation’s 878,233 reported elk. In 2015 the state was home to 17 percent (167,158) of the nearly 965,919 reported elk.

In recent years the animals have been reintroduced to more states.

"We've got some tremendous things going on in the eastern United States. We've had several states in the last 10 years restore elk, so states like Missouri, Virginia, most recently West Virginia are bringing elk -- wild elk -- back to their states," said Henning.
++

Will said...

Bullshit.

Lucien said...

Maybe if we dressed up as timber wolves instead. . .

Fernandistein said...

The English MSM hates hunting and hunters.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Lesson 4
Elk Hunting in Game Management Unit 45

Map of GMU 45. This unit holds good quality elk, and has provided several good bulls over the years for me and my family.

++

"Colorado is home to the largest elk population in the world [~260,000]. Currently, the majority of elk herds in the state are either at or near target levels. Though it is important to recognize that over the last two decades, many elk herds in Colorado have changed their habits due to the continuing destruction of habitat through development and the increasing disturbance by humans in their natural habitats."

gilbar said...

You know what Kills Elk? Calm winters. The wind blows the snows off of the grass and sagebrush. It's not heavy Snow that kills; it's DEEP Snow.

You know what would be GREAT for Elk? WARM WINTERS, that would melt snow sooner.
IF we want More Elk... We NEED MORE GLOBAL WARMING

Birkel said...

Elk is delicious.
Protein is terrific.

bagoh20 said...

"Bullshit."

It could be true, but since we are far from the only threat to them, and hikers are never a threat, I suspect overpowering love and commitment to a hypothesis.

Skeptical Voter said...

Meanwhile back in the reality based world humans have been barred from hiking in one of the favorite hiking areas at the base of the San Francisco Peninsula. It seems that a mama mountain lion and her three cubs have priority in using the territory.

fleg9bo said...

If they take a closer look at their data, they'll likely find that it's white cis-male recreationists that are causing the harm. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with more recreational diversity.

Annie C. said...

So, even with CWD, the elk are prospering enough that hunt limits go up, but hikers are killing elk. Not just elk but, God forbid, baby elk!

a bangla world said...

I hope you post more about it your blog is awesome Nice post

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Doubtful. I’ve spent decades hiking in the elk-infested Olympic Peninsula. When startled they will sometimes lumber off a short distance. Other times they’ll simply look up briefly and then carry on. One memorable misty morning on the South Fork of the Hoh, a massive herd filtered through our campsite on all sides of us as we cooked breakfast. Like deer, they quickly become habituated to human presence.

madAsHell said...

You know what Kills Elk?

18-wheelers on I-90. Just east of Snoqualmie, and west of Ellensburg.

mikee said...

Odd that human interactions kill elk, considering that elk are now farmed in enclosures where they interact with the ranchers every day, are fed from the backs of pickup trucks driving through the herd, and seem to be profitably alive. google "elk ranching" for a long list of information on the subject.

LYNNDH said...

Ever been to Estes Park in CO? Elk roam all over the town, sometimes a real hazard to cars and humans. Another stupid article by a no nothing idjt.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Way too many unleashed dogs on trails. And yes - it's annoying.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Liberal journalists seem to be awfully full of the wrong answers to their imaginary world problems. I bet they also have a higher than average suicide rate.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Sometimes dogs go missing. They wander off and who knows what happens to them.

Michael said...

Jesus. Fly someplace and you're killing the climate. Walk someplace and you're slaughtering baby elk.

Although has it right..stay home.

Wince said...

gilbar said...
You know what Kills Elk? Calm winters.

I'll see your elk winter, and raise you an Elke Sommer with a rifle.

Char Char Binks said...

Tread lightly around elk and their ilk.

n.n said...
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n.n said...
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n.n said...

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Ruminant Progression (CARP) is the second tale told by The Guardian in a multi-annual period. Also, too many white girls next door in the Olympics. A tragicomedy of prophecy and diversity.

Bruce Hayden said...

“In 1995 Montana had about 10 percent (93,401) of the nation’s 878,233 reported elk. In 2015 the state was home to 17 percent (167,158) of the nearly 965,919 reported elk.”

Nice thing about here in MT is either that there are no state laws about precisely where you can hunt (except that you need to stay in the district you have an elk tag for), or no one really cares. A friend of mine has a “honey do” every fall to take the screen off the kitchen window, so that his wife can take her elk from her kitchen. She sets up on her kitchen table, and the shots are very easy, due to the short distances involved. They have no sympathy for the elk that transit their property fairly often, because they will gladly, and aggressively, eat the hay and alfalfa that they have laid up for their horses for the winter. Their local elk herd can wipe out feed for the entire winter for a couple horses in a couple hours.

Good friend of mine is planning on an AR-10 build this winter in .338 Lapua (Magnum) (8.6×70mm or 8.58×70mm). Last week when I visited, he had us watching videos of a couple making mile and a half shots with a custom rifle of that caliber. It was used a decade ago now by a Britain’s sniper in Afghanistan to set a record for longest confirmed kill. Maybe it is his age, but this friend has lost interest in spending hunting season every year calling in elk for bow hunting. Much better, he thinks, to make the challenge the distance. Many years he has seen elk across the valley within range of that caliber ammunition, but has been unable to call them in close enough for a bow kill.

Hunting here in NW MT is part of rural living due for many of the residents. They depend on their hunting to eat through the winter. Mostly elk and deer, but Big Horn Sheep, black bear etc if they get lucky enough to draw a tag. The pre venisons are a menace. It is bad enough that the young, in particular, have no conception of cars and trucks, and how quickly they can inadvertently become venison. Came pretty close a couple days ago with a young one still in spots. Bambi jumped out and crossed the road, with vehicles moving about 50 in either direction. Barely made it across, and then with traffic stopped, Mom and a smarter sibling ambled across. We live within the city limits, where the only legal way to kill a deer is with a vehicle. No hunting. And they know this, so they have, over the years, become a pestilence. Wrangling with the HOA right now to put in a greenhouse for my partner, because otherwise they will eat most anything she plants. Cat though has discovered them. He sits in one of the open bedroom windows, acting as a lord, watching over his small family of deer grazing right below him. Can keep him happy and occupied for hours.

Skookum John said...

This makes no sense. Arizona's elk herd has never been healthier, and it’s not because we have fewer hikers than other places. We shoot 10,000 per year just to keep the population steady.

MikeD said...

Liberal science lives on the theorem "correlation equals causation".

Ken B said...

Mellow? Mellow counts somehow?

You just had a Yellow post. You need a Mellow tag and a Yellow tag.

minnesota farm guy said...

Classic scare based on one small area. The example of course is Vail, home of the high priced hippy, and another proof that those most ignorant of the outdoors are those who do the most damage.The problem as almost always is loss of habitat or forcing the animals out of their territories/favored habitat and thus exposing them to things they would otherwise avoid.

Note Bruce Hayden's MT elk numbers. Growth of a well managed herd to the point that it becomes a nuisance in some areas.

Bob Boyd said...

The calves perk up if somebody who went to a really good school walks by.

Bob Boyd said...

They can smell the merit and it gives them hope.

Clyde said...

SOME "scientists say"

Seeing Red said...

It’s The Grauniad.

Char Char Binks said...

"The calves perk up if somebody who went to a really good school walks by."

Or if if the hiker has at least 1/1024 Native blood. Fauxcahontas would be a twofer.

mockturtle said...

Wow, I see plenty of elk all over the NW. Maybe NW hikers are quieter. ;-)

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I call bullshit. There are many large, healthy elk herds living cheek-by-jowl with people in places like northern California and the Olympic Peninsula. I've sat in my truck and waited as they took their time crossing the highway. I didn't seem to worry them one bit.

Jersey Fled said...

I blocked The Guardian from my news feed yesterday for some ridiculous story that was pure BS. I even forget what is was.

I think I made a good decision.

Doug said...

This is obviously a blatant attempt to distract from the REAL cause - Climate Change!

rightguy said...

I was hiking a few years ago above Snowmass Colorado and there were plenty of Elk in the high country. You are still allowed to hunt them. And the area described in the article is centered around I70.

During the current millennium, the elk herd in Colorado has ranged between 260,000 and 285,000.

This article is total BS.

Phidippus said...
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Phidippus said...

Considering the source, life is too short for me to read the article, BUT:

Which null hypothesis or hypothoses have been rejected in reaching this conclusion?

Were any of the calves freshly necropsied to eliminate infection or neonatal defects (assuming we know enough about elk to even recognize them) as causes of death?

What did the researchers do to control for the "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy?

If anyone who spent precious seconds of their life reading the article states that one or more answers to my questions are in there, I'll go ahead and read it.

Of course, it's their prerogative to leave me wondering even if they know, but I think I'll live.

Phidippus said...

My guess: They got fat and lazy after the last sabre-toothed tiger died. Now they act like liberal arts college students.

n.n said...

Polar bears have suffered a similar fate forced by natural variations, and their numbers ebb and flow on a semi-regular basis.

Josephbleau said...

Or if if the hiker has at least 1/1024 Native blood. Fauxcahontas would be a twofer.

Warren went to Rutgers Law, so your example regarding attendance at a really good school is refuted. Warren is, I guess, the only Rutgers Law grad to be selected as Harvard Law Prof. Also was a student with a break in attendance, which looses you academic dick points.

bagoh20 said...

This didn't happen back before so many hikers became vegetarians. Even the elk don't trust vegetarians. They protect the bears and pumas, and then they eat all your food.

Will said...

Elk were reintroduced into the Buffalo River area of Arkansas in 1981, and now there are over 800 animals in the herd. There is a lottery tag system for hunting. When I asked a local what was the best weapon to use for hunting elk he told me, "a hammer". They wander everywhere, have little regard for humans, cars or anything else in their way, including cattle fences. They are beautiful for a hiker like me to see, and the call early in an early morning on the trail is thrilling to hear.

Bob Boyd said...

Warren went to Rutgers Law

The Indians called her Croaking Calf.

Known Unknown said...

Why are humans still allowed on this planet?

Phidippus said...

I don't know, Known Unknown, but there's people working on that.

iowan2 said...

I scanned some of the comments. Everyone has already pointed out all the lies in the "study". tiny geographic area to start with, and then the lack of historical data on herd size. This isn't even published research. Just the musings of a retired Professor. And lets not go there, heh?

Freeman Hunt said...

Is there ever a point at which people will say, "You know, maybe this animal is too wimpy to make it?"

Freeman Hunt said...

"I've sat in my truck and waited as they took their time crossing the highway. I didn't seem to worry them one bit."

If you'd been walking, they'd all have dropped dead.

Josephbleau said...

The Cal EPA claims that, in the high desert, mountain goats refuse to screw if you have too many lights on at night. This keeps the third shift off at mines, to give the goats some love time. I guess I am less particular than the goats.

Nick said...

Oh bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Tough shit.

LCB said...

ummmm...Elk were reintroduced to the Smokey Mountains where hiking is way overpopulated. And the Elk are doing just fine. BS article.

Char Char Binks said...

"Warren went to Rutgers Law, so your example regarding attendance at a really good school is refuted."

She still WENT to really good schools, but not as a student, if Penn and Harvard still count.

Sarah Rolph said...

This is an irresponsible story. It's not true that park service visits have skyrocketed over the last decade, a quick google search shows that Yosemite has had about five million visitors a year for roughly the past ten years, and there are no elk in Yosemite, this story is about a particular elk situation in Colorado. But the environmental lobby loves an anti-human angle, so it gets traction. (I've been tangling with a branch of that lobby lately, anti-ranch activists. They are well organized and ruthless.)

Sarah Rolph said...

Also, needless to say, it's unethical to do a study that disturbs wildlife to this extent.