The sudden aboutface by the federal government on Wyoming’s proposed (and yet to be formally revised) wolf management plan was not the product of Ed Bangs (as some had suggested).

It clearly came from the top, as this editorial in the Casper Star Tribune complains. Wolf conservation groups were not involved. Basically no one was involved except the stockgrowers and the highest levels of political leadership in Wyoming and in the USFWS (and my guess, higher than that).

Editorial. Let the public be part of the Wyoming wolf talks. Casper Star-Tribune Editorial Board

From the editorial (regarding Bangs)

“Another mistake by the state occurred when [Cody’s Wyoming’s state representative Pat] Childers asked top Fish and Wildlife officials to keep their wolf recovery coordinator, Ed Bangs, from speaking publicly about wolves.

Bangs is the expert who has been spearheading wolf reintroduction in the West since it occurred a decade ago. He has a reputation for openness that often irritates his detractors. Still, he shares Wyoming’s desire to see wolves removed from the endangered species list.

Childers indicated more public statements by Bangs could hinder efforts to resolve the conflict, or could inflame controversy and result in disruptive litigation.

‘Some duct tape on Mr. Bangs’ mouth would probably help,’ Childers said.

Mitch King, Fish and Wildlife’s regional director, indicated he would do his best to silence Bangs. If so, he’ll be muzzling one of the few players in the wolf saga who has shown the willingness and spine over the years to conduct an open discussion on this highly controversial issue with the public.”

I think such open indication of coercion of a public servant by the appointed political leadership argues strongly in favor of conservationists winning a lawsuit on the Wyoming wolf plan.

Added later. It’s from New West. “New Wolf Plan May Be Dead On Delivery.” By Brodie Farquhar

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

39 Responses to Let the public be part of the Wyoming wolf talks

  1. avatar Todd Ringler says:

    I have to think that WY and USFWS know that the proposed plan will not survive a legal challenge, but by proposing this they are effective in reframing the debate as between USFWS and conservationists. Right now it is between USFWS and WY — that looks bad for WY.

    By running roughshot over Bangs, they might creating another Dave Parson’s, former head of the Mexican wolf reintroduction, who just issued another critical assessment of that process ( http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/species/mexwolf/parsons-12-2006.pdf ). Having a another voice of reason with his creditials and background would be a huge asset to the long term survive of the gray wolf.

    Todd

  2. It could well be that USFWS and Interior political chiefs expect to lose on Wyoming, with the real goal being delisting in Idaho.

  3. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Silencing the critics and the biologists is a well-worn tactic in Wyoming. The Bush administration could learn a few things from Wyoming. Let’s not forget that Wyoming Trophy Game biologist Dave Moody was suspended for a week for mentioning at a Chico Hot Springs wolf conference several yearsa ago that Wyoming’s wolf plan is unworkable–and Dave wrote the plan.

    Pat Childers may be the least intelligent member of the Wyoming legislature–and that’s saying something. He hasn’t a clue what’s he’s doing; he’s there strictly as a hod carrier for the oligarchy.

    I find it hard to believe that the Interior Solicitor’s office has sanctioned this latest FWS proposal; it is clearly illegal.

    In short, this latest imbroglio is pure politics, as usual. Well, as long as wolves expand their range while the politics goes on, that’s all for the good. The bad thing is that it’s clear that Wyoming intends, once delisting is achieved, to kill off all but the minimal number of wolves. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. It’s something to watch closely.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  4. avatar Jim Thurber says:

    I am not at all surprised at the Solicitor’s office behavior. This latest tactic is just more of the same the federal land management agencies have been throwing into the courts the past several years. It is the scattergun approach. Attack at all levels in all areas of concern, and some of the crap is bound to get through given the politics and loyalties of too many of the federal district court judges.It forces local, regional and national environmental groups and law firms to expend precious money and time on many fronts. Some of this stuff would stop if the lawyers themselves were subject to sanction under Rule 11 of the FRCP. Maybe it is time to try; they are not immune from such motions. And let’s not forget it is possible to grieve a lawyer per the rules of professional conduct.

  5. avatar Alan Gregory says:

    Todd, thanks for posting the link to Dave Parsons’ comments. I’m sharing it with two former FWS biologists I know.

  6. avatar Mike S. says:

    “The bad thing is that it’s clear that Wyoming intends, once delisting is achieved, to kill off all but the minimal number of wolves. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.’

    Idaho will do the same too.

  7. avatar Erin Miller says:

    From the start of ‘re’introduction, emotional politics have been the big motivator rather than biological purpose. That will continue to be the case, and it started with those who wanted the wolf here, and it may now end because of those who don’t. It’s too bad because if this had been done properly from the get go there could have been the set up for a proper, balanced existence of wolves in the tri-state area.

  8. avatar Jim says:

    Erin, what do you mean by “done properly from the get-go?” Had it been done properly all wolves in all three recovery areas would have had full protection under the ESA and the only legal killing of any wolf would take place if they were in the process of attacking a human. there would be no consideration for impact on domestic animals, livestock or ungulate populations. In my opinion that was the big problem with the recovery program. The USFW gave in to anti wolf groups and people too much. Had they taken a firm stance towards them they possibly would have stopped behaving like children and wolves would have been delsited by now. But by catering to them, the USFW created a problem where the anti-wolf forces think they should get their way all the time.

  9. avatar Mike S. says:

    “Properly from the get go” would have been to leave them in Canada and you could go up there to see them if you wanted to. Gray Wolves were never endagered to begin with.
    Now we have well over 1200 Wolves in the Tri State area and probably 1500 by next fall.

    I know one dead Wolf is too many for some of you but a deal is a deal.

    We were sold a bill of goods that said 300 wolves 30 packs and 30 breeding pairs.
    We are well past that number now.
    By all accounts this Wolf introduction is a complete success.
    It’s time to be honest with yourselves, just how many Wolves do you people want and why?

    We hunters know why, so do the Ranchers.

  10. avatar Tim Z. says:

    If had been done right “from the get go” we would never have exterminated them in the lower 48 states. Trying to make up for previous stupidity is always tough.

    “It’s time to be honest with yourselves, just how many Wolves do you people want and why?

    We hunters know why, so do the Ranchers.”

    And Mike S. what is it you hunters (and I use that term very loosely) and ranchers know?

  11. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    Hmmmnnn. Reading Dave Parson’s assessment validates what a lot of rational folks have been saying for some time; the Mexican wolf reintoduction program is broke. Probably beyond repair. For too long, irrational people have swayed FWS from doing a proper job in recovery this very endangered population of wolves. When will this irrational wolf management come to an end?

  12. avatar Mike S. says:

    Tim Z.

    Wolves were introduced as a way to eliminate hunting of Elk and Deer and to eliminate grazing on federal lands.


    Do you have any evidence, like a document, a speech, from back in about 1992-4 to provide support for this? Or how about where did you hear this so that you can inform us by your post? Ralph M.

    If this isn’t the case then why are you Wolf Lovers going to continue to file lawsuits and tied this issue up in the courts for years to come? Like I stated earlier this introduction is fully accomplished at this time.

    These Wolves should never have been introduced here at all. These Wolves are not the same type of Wolves that were here before so this “introduction” should have never happened in the first place.

    Good science based management has be pushed aside by the Liberal Judges in the 9th circuit in favor of your, thier feel good anti hunter agenda.
    Don’t worry we will be hunting these Wolves soon enough.

    .

  13. avatar Rob says:

    I agree Mike. The wolf reintroduction has been a great success so now it is time to delist as agreed upon by the Feds!

  14. avatar Rob says:

    Tim Z.

    Hunters know alot as they spend countless hours tracking/searching for wildlife to hunt in their traditional hunting areas where the wolves have since driven them away.

    Ranchers know even more as their profit/loss depends somewhat on depredations from predatory animals. I do not thing the average wolf conservationist understands this, nor will they unless somehow it hits their pockets.

  15. avatar Jim says:

    Part of the delisting process is all three states having acceptable management plans. Had the three states done this wolves would have been delisted several years ago. It is the states and the anti-wolf forces fault wolves haven’t been delisted.

  16. avatar Tim Z. says:

    “If this isn’t the case then why are you Wolf Lovers going to continue to file lawsuits and tied this issue up in the courts for years to come? Like I stated earlier this introduction is fully accomplished at this time”

    Because lawsuits are the only way to stop the bone-headed politicians and their so called “management plans”. They should just be honest up front and call them “killing plans”.

    These Wolves should never have been introduced here at all.
    These Wolves are not the same type of Wolves that were here before so this “introduction” should have never happened in the first place.

    Tell me about your academic credentials and your research work to support this statement. Until you do I’ll take the word of most scientists who disagree with you.

    “Good science based management has be pushed aside by the Liberal Judges in the 9th circuit in favor of your, thier feel good anti hunter agenda.”

    I am sorry, this statement has me laughing so hard I can’t compose myself long enough to type a real response.

  17. avatar Erin Miller says:

    To say ‘they’ played too much into the anti people is quite contrary to what many think to be the opposite. When public comment periods resulted in email campaigns from pros that brought comments by the hundreds from people not even close to this area. It could be said then that the feds played too much into the pro side of the wolf stuff. It’s all been quite a joke regardless of exact reasons.

  18. avatar Mike S. says:

    Posts like yours show your ignorance to what’s really going on with the issues of Wolf Management.
    Don’t worry we’ll get to killing them soon enough.

  19. avatar Sara O. says:

    Attitudes like Erin’s: “that brought comments by the hundreds from people not even close to this area. ” really anger me. The federal lands belong to all of us, not just to the ranchers or the people that live on the edges of wild country. Wolves are part of our country’s natural heritage and need to be preserved as such. I live hundreds of miles from wolf and grizzly country and have been active in letter writing pursuits to voice my opinion on my own not with the help of “pros”. And even so, if professional organizations can enable interested citizens to voice their opinion then more power to them… not less.

  20. Sara,

    Back in 1993 and earlier, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held hundreds of meetings on the issue all over the country, and there was strong support at the meetings almost everywhere.

    Then about a year before the reintroduction, they held 45 meetings in Western cities, including Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I recall the Idaho Falls meeting well. I was there. 45 people spoke in favor of the reintroduction and it was either 2 or 4 (can’t remember for sure) spoke against it. Wolf supporters outnumbered opponents everywhere except Cody, WY, where anti-wolf finally managed a majority at one meeting.

    Those who have posted above don’t know seem to know about these events. Erin seems to be referring to various issues since then because in 1993 or 4, email was not common.

    Mike’s posts seem to contain no information at all except for showing his attitude.

    Hank Fischer wrote at length about the process of wolf reintroduction in his book Wolf Wars. Fischer was in the thick of it for about ten years. The politics of the restoration of the wolf went on and on and on. Those who proclaim that anti-wolf folks didn’t have their chance, or that the wolves were “dumped” on Idaho, etc, are new arrivals to the subject (unless they can demonstrate otherwise by posting some facts from back during that period 12 or more years ago).

  21. avatar JEFF E. says:

    In support Ralph, On Oct 7, 1988 President Reagan { I know this makes all the “this is a LIBERAL PLOT” people go into shock”} signed into a law an amendment to the endangered species act, requiring a plan of and the implementation of that plan to recover all endangered species listed. So while the wolf is only one species that is going through that process, we can all thank President Reagn for what has become the hallmark of the ESA.

  22. avatar JEFF E. says:

    Erin,
    Actually the govt. folded to anti supplementation faction or more properly the livestock industry by calling the wolf population a ” non-essenital expeiamental population”. Prt of the ammendment signed by President Reagan in 1988 mandated that as part of recovering endangered species that the habitate needed to support any given speciecs also be recovered to maintain that species. I can’t think of anything more detrimental to the habitat of any native North American species than cows and domestic sheep. Can you? What better way to side step the habitat requirement than to invent the designation of “experimental non-essential”.

  23. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    And don’t think for one minute that the livestock industry isn’t well aware of “non-essential experimental” designation. We have a population os black-footed ferrets in NW Colorado. When there were gas and oil leases proposed in the ferret reintroduction area, the vocal advocates of the leases were ranchers. The leases were not pulled by the BLM. This designation is the livestock industry’s way around threatened and endangered designations where there is reintroductions involved.

  24. avatar Rob says:

    Regardless of all the comments to this thread, I believe you all agree that wolf recovery has been a success and has far superseded previous expectations from all, even wolf biologists.

    So it is safe to say that the wolf should be delisted and state management programs take over the day to day management without involvement from the Feds. As long as the states agree to maintain the minimum number required as stated in their wolf management plans then the wolf will never be removed from the states again.

    And recreationists who love to see the wolf in the wild as well as the hunter who wishes to pursue the wolf as a game animal can all enjoy.

  25. avatar Tim Z. says:

    “As long as the states agree to maintain the minimum number required as stated in their wolf management plans then the wolf will never be removed from the states again. ”

    Herein lies the problem. Do we allow mass killings and pack removals to maintain the “minimum number”?

  26. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    Rob,

    I cannot agree what you say, until Wyoming removes the predator designation from areas outside the parks and adjacent wilderness. The wolf needs to be able to disperse and repopulate areas like NW Colorado and NE Utah.That route is tough enough, with I-80 to cross, without every wacko with a rifle shooting at them. When Wyoming adjusts their recovery plan so that it is acceptable to the Feds, then I will agree to delist the wolf.

  27. avatar Rob says:

    That is not my point. The wolf is not there just for you to enjoy watching it romp in the snow. You can do all the wolf watching you want in Yellowstone. Others, like hunters, must be allowed to take these animals also to keep the species in balance with nature just llike hunting of the bear, cougar, coyote, mountain lion, etc.

    State wolf management plans were approved so that at least a minimum number of wolves would remain and the population would be self sustaining. If wolves are not allowed to be hunted or taken by some means then you will have a population that increases with nothing (predators, hunters, etc) to keep it in balance with respect to other predatory animals that are hunted.

  28. avatar Rob says:

    Rick,

    Regardless of Wyomings plan, the wolf will continue to disperse into Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and the surrounding states. This will happen regardless of Wyoming’s plan although it may take a little bit longer but wolf recovery is accomplished. I do not beleive you can deny that statement.

  29. Rob would seem to be right, but, nevertheless, it hasn’t happened. No packs are known to have been established in Colorado, Utah, Oregon or Washington.

    I kind of think there was a pack in the Bear River Range of Utah for a while due to a number of reports I got, but it was never verified.

    I am surprised it hasn’t happened, especially Oregon.

  30. avatar Tim Z. says:

    “Others, like hunters, must be allowed to take these animals also to keep the species in balance with nature just llike hunting of the bear, cougar, coyote, mountain lion, etc.”

    I agree with this 100%. When I said mass killings I wasn’t thinking of hunting. What I fear are are events like the one that is occuring in Alaska, the aerial gunning.

    BTW, I disagree with your point that one should have to go to Yellowstone to see wolves or any other wildlife.

  31. avatar Tim Z. says:

    Ralph and anyone else who has a thought on this,

    What is your guess on how hunters will be allowed to hunt wolves. Dogs, baiting, using their radio collars? Given they are so elusive I don’t see too many being taken by hunting the old fashion way. Dogs would be tough also as a pack would turn on them in no time.

    As you indicate, dogs are out because they would be killed by the wolves. Baiting would be horrible because it would condition them to human provided food or to livestock (assuming the bait is a dead horse or cow).

    It costs from $500 to about $3000 to radio collar a wolf in Idaho. This includes the price of the collar and the labor and transportation to collar it. They will have to prohibit the shooting of collared wolves unless they are willing to lose money on a wolf hunt.

    That pretty much leaves it to traditional hunting, tracking them, calling them, waiting for them to come by in the core of a pack’s territory. Ralph

  32. avatar Rob says:

    That’s correct. No packs are known to have established. However, not knowing if a pack has established, is by no means stating that one has not establiished or will not establish in these states.

    We must also realize that is it impossible to collar and track every wolf so there is a possibility that a wolf pack which may only consist of a male and female have established somewhere in Utah, Colorado and the surrounding states. If it has not already happened, it will in the future. After all, we know of the lone wolf that was in Oregon and the other that was in Utah. Others, we do not know of but the possibility is there particularly since we hear of individual wolf sightings in the surronding states.

  33. Yes there have been a lot of individual wolves disperse to other states, but judging from Idaho before the reintroduction, that is a very slow way to start a population.

    There were at least 3 wolves in Idaho before the reintroduction. They were all males and they were not close to each other. Each of the 3 quickly found a mate once the reintroduction was done and started the Kelly Creek Pack, the White Clouds Pack, and the Thunder Mountain Pack.

    Pups derived from a single pair of wolves are not likely to efficiently mate with each other, and there would be genetic depression after a couple generations.

  34. avatar Erin Miller says:

    As for how they’d be hunted, I think predator calling would be used primarily. Baiting may be used if allowed but I doubt it would be as effective as it is with bear hunting. It wouldn’t surprise me if hunters used audio of hounds baying to get them in, as they have been attracted to that sound before. I bet when hunting of wolves starts it will be limited to maybe one or two units and very few tags at first. The same vigilanteism will be around as has been up to this point as for the illegal part of wolf shootings.

  35. avatar Erin Miller says:

    In addition to that point, from experience over the last several years, an elk call tends to bring wolves in or at least make them howl.

  36. avatar JEFF E says:

    Good point Erin. Apperantly bow hunters can bring in a pack fairly easy and I have a friend who rifle hunts MOYER BASIN who can get a response pretty regularly with a cow call. How ever it won’t be long for the wolf population to learn that trick. In any case fair chase should be the only acceptable method as opposed to traping or poison which I fear will be Wyomings’ prefered method

  37. avatar Sara O. says:

    Speaking of Moyer Basin… looks like wolves there have been the target of illegal poisoning in the past.

    http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/Idaho-poisoning-rept-april2001.htm

  38. Sara,

    Yes a small number of Idaho wolves were poisoned by 1080, meaning that it was unlikely Sundles or someone who read his web page advocating use of aldecarb.

    I think the guy they suspected of the 1080 died in an accident. There haven’t been any 1080 poisonings for quite a while now.

  39. avatar Sara O. says:

    Thank you Ralph, that’s good to know there have not been any recent poisonings.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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