your comment relies on several points i don't think you have given enough thought to. one is that you refer to "huge herds". except for certain times of year, elk should not be found in large groups, and historically only ranged in groups of around a dozen or so animals. the fact that there were herds of any substantial size here in recent times tells me that something was actually wrong. large collections of animals like elk spread diseases and create loss of habitat due to overgrazing and other damage. these factors affect wildlife, and especially reproduction, much more than predation.
you do not indicate a time frame for when you were a child, but if it has been in at least the last 50 years, the fact that you used to see elk and deer "everywhere", but not now, might have something to do with the population levels of PEOPLE....and that with all of the development and growth we have seen, there simply are fewer and fewer places for ANY wildlife to exist as it is supposed to. you don't suppose that might have anything to do with it, do you?
you refer to a "natural balance between animal and man"....exactly what balance is that? with hunters now utilizing ATVs, higher-powered firearms, and other aids in locating and "harvesting" game animals, i fail to see anything that resembles "natural". add to that the higher numbers of hunters out in the field during Big Game season, and simply hunting for one's winter meat seems to have turned into an activity for frustration, not self-sustenance.
you are right that we haven't seen wolves in a long time, in some parts of the State...neither have the elk, and when elk figure out how to deal with the wolf, in these areas...as they had dealt with the wolf before humans took control of "wildlife management", they will probably start coming back, and probably to the very same ranges they had always been in...IF those ranges still exist.
your romantic notion of deer in the yard and easy pickings every hunting season is probably NOT the way things are supposed to be, and if you have seen changes in wildlife numbers, it might have more to do with human influences than anything wolves, or any other predator, are doing.
actual figures gathered by the F&G indicate that while numbers of elk are down in certain areas, they are steady in other parts of the State. there are DOCUMENTED reasons for drops in numbers of game animals, including the very reasons i have mentioned. if all you see is packs of wolves gratuitously killing wildlife, you are not looking at the facts.
i find it ironic that the low number of wolves taken vs. the number of permits given out is SO telling. all the table-thumping, chest-beating wolf haters out there, who think this one animal is the begin-all and end-all of all of their problems, just can't seem to muster up the intelligence to figure out how to actually HUNT it. makes me wonder just which is the more evolved species.
may the MTA take a lesson from this. WE like micro-brews...and the breweries that make them.
there are always going to be factions of the Hunting public who are going to want to blame mega-predators like bears and wolves for the decrease in numbers of available game...more precisely, easily found elk. after a day of wondering around close to the road and your vehicle [those that actually get out of their vehicles] without seeing anything to shoot at, it must be because there are too many wolves.
never mind that the numbers of elk have been artificially high for too many years [because there have been too few natural predators], there are beginning to be signs of disease mortality among the herds, grazing lands are getting overrun by competing deer or human use and habitation, or the numbers of elk have just changed due to migration to other areas.
one of the really great things about the Obio Joes is they were accessible...you could sit at the bar and talk to any one of them, and they would talk to you like it was important, without catchy hipster jingo or moody attitudes getting in the way. their presence on stage also reflected that feeling of familiarity. shout out a request for an old favorite, and they would play it...and everyone knew the words....so it was like family.
one might say that it was just the die-hard regular fans who felt this way, but both old and new listeners of their music will say the same thing. the songs are amazing, but the band is what made their shows an experience, because they were just being themselves.
Missoula is not just a "bike friendly" city, it has a bicycle culture all its own. thanks to the many advocates and promoters of bicycling as both a sport and state of consciousness, we have a great infrastructure and support system for anyone who wants to take up the activity...for health, for the environment, to save money on gas, or just getting out and seeing things around town that you miss when you are stuck in a car.
that being said, this is NOT something everyone can or should take up. every day, i witness people who haven't a clue about such basics as following the rules of the road, using alternate [safer] routes instead of riding on the busiest streets, or even practicing routine maintanence on the bikes they are riding. i know of so many people who have gone out and bought a bike, take it out on an afternoon ride, and soon discover that there are certain physical discomforts you experience from riding....sore wrists, sore crotch, sore back, exposure to the [sometimes] radical weather changes we can have here....or finding themselves having to share the road with big scary motor vehicles.....and they never get back on the bike again.
i can speak from almost 45 years of biking, that if you think you want to be part of the Missoula Bicycling community, you need to be capable and able to ride....you need to know how to shift gears, know when and how to brake and which brake to rely on the most, and most of all, you need to be physically able to accelerate and motivate your bike if you plan on riding ANYWHERE there is other traffic. and for crying out loud, don't ride out in the center of the road if you don't have to... you are not a car...even if State of Montana law gives you the right to ride on the road, the LAWS OF PHYSICS says that a 2000+lb automobile will have more to say about that, than you and your bike will.
"there's likely a substantial risk for scores of inner-tubers who have limited maneuverability on the river, and who are oftentimes toting coolers of beer."
"Whitewater Rescue Institute co-founder Mike Johnston says floaters can take some fairly simple precautions, "like not be drunk, and wear a life jacket." "
...i think i see a trend, here....
there are bridges crossing every waterway in the area, and people utilize the rivers here every chance they get, from fishing to floating. it is actually a pretty major revenue maker for some businesses, locally, and NOBODY is going to say "stay out of the rivers".
it bothers me that part of the money spent on cleaning up the Clark Fork upstream from the confluence...a part of the river system that is not floated much, wasn't used to "fix" the Blackfoot at that confluence, as well. a few logs were removed, and a small dam was broken up and "most" of it removed, but the hazards in that stretch of the river seem to still be there.
i am not quit sure WHY, when they rebuilt the I-90 bridge, they didn't put in a better pier system under it...probably had to do with economics. one pier in the middle was cheaper than two on either side, but that one pier system in that narrow point in the channel is obviously where one problem lies.
as a frequent river floater, i must say, however...that any stretch of the rivers here can have it's dangers...old car bodies, log jams, tree root balls, changing river channels, subsurface and unseen hazards...and yes, bridge abutments. if it were simply a matter of not getting drunk or wearing a life jacket, that part would be easy. it requires some paying attention to what is going on around you, and being a competent and level-headed swimmer.
the sign suggestion makes me laugh. it is obviously a cheap and easy way to avoid the issue of what is really wrong, and leaves an almost Faustian gap in actually solving the problem.
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