Category Archives: Science of wolves and surplus killings

Surplus killings by wolves is a rare occurrence and serves a purpose.

The latest news out of Wyoming Wolf Pack Slaughters 19 Elk in Rare ‘Surplus Killing’ Unusual behavior leaves game officials scratching their heads in Wyoming, according to National Geographic published on March 25, 2016 by Brian Clark Howard, read on:

“Surplus killings tend to be most common in late winter and may actually represent an effort by wolves to cache food for later use, the group notes. The predators are known to return often to kills to snack, sometimes for weeks. Sometimes more prey are also killed than wolves may have first intended due to the chaos of the hunt, the group adds. But even if the elk don’t get fully consumed by the pack, they will provide food for other scavengers.”  (Source)

There you have it in black and white, the fact is predators, such as wolves do surplus killing and it serves a purpose. Man is the only predator that kills for sport. Trophy hunts are about power not conservation. In the bigger picture, elk and wolves have lived side by side for hundreds of centuries, until the human trophy Hunter appeared on the scene. Now elk are managed by hunters for hunting. 

Are elk an endangered species? 

Here’s an article from last year, 2015, from Jackson Hole News Guide Elk count is healthy, but not its distribution Jackson Elk Herd is near goals, but there are too many on the refuge, too few up the Gros Ventre. Read on:

“Aerial counts that wrapped up last week found 10,633 elk using feedgrounds and foraging native range. To account for those that were missed biologists rounded-up the count to 11,000 — precisely the herd’s objective. But the whereabouts of the herd are less than ideal, with surplus animals on the National Elk Refuge and only one-third of the desired number of elk wintering in upper portions of the Gros Ventre River drainage.” 

The following video is of hundreds of elk crossing a road on the outskirts of Baggs, Wyoming filmed in 2014

Should we worry about wolves killing on rare occasions for surplus? After all, we stock our freezers for surplus. 
Featured photograph by John E Marriott