Wolf debate hits close to home for ranchers. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press

This story has appeared under a number of headlines, but whatever it is titled, Matthew Brown’s recent piece on wolves reveals the difficulty the public has getting information because it has to cut through cultural hysteria and bad statistics on the wolf issue.

Brown begins his piece by telling us of rancher Randy Petrich of Pray, Montana (that’s the Paradise Valley) who has legally shot 7 wolves over the years, and insists “I believe that any wolf on any given night, if there happens to be a calf there, they will kill it.” Brown doesn’t say how many livestock Petrick has actually lost (Brown doesn’t really confirm that Petrich has lost any), only that he has killed 7 wolves.

Is this typical of Paradise Valley? Given the number of wolves killed, my guess is he interviewed the person who has killed the most wolves. So the reporter begins with an extreme case, not the typical person, and someone who might have the right to worry but does not seem in touch with reality. For example, the article says Petrich sees wolf tracks almost every morning. Were Petrich’s belief true — wolves will kill any calf that happens to be there, then he must have lost thousands of calves over the 7 years he has been shooting wolves.

Do we know anything else about this supposedly hard pressed rancher? Were his non-ranching neighbors interviewed? (if you have been to Pray, Montana, you know that most of the people there are not ranchers). Well of course they were not interviewed, because to most of the media, you don’t count in the West unless you are part of 1% of the population that meets their cultural assumptions.

Then Brown talks about the growth of the wolf population since restoration began. 66 wolves have grown to an estimated 1,545 in a three state area. Brown uses Ed Bang’s figures, which were released in mid-year when wolf population is at its annual maximum, not the year end, when the figures are official and always lower than mid-year. This allows him to say the population is growing at 20%.

Anyway is 1500 wolves a lot? Is it too many? What if elk had become extinct in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and 66 elk were released in 1995-6 to try to restore the elk population. If there were 1500 elk after 12 years, would reporters say the number of elk is astonishing, “exploding,” “ballooning?” Would the states call a hunting season to knock this “huge population back” to 450 elk? Would conservationists be condemned for suggesting 2000 might not be too many elk?

Going back to the rancher(s) for a moment, how many coyotes, bears, cougars, and feral dogs are there in the area and how many calves have they lost to these? This is never mentioned. This kind of reporting is like a story on homicides where only the those committed by one ethnic group is mentioned. It think people quickly call that “racism.”

Finally we get to “environmentalists” who, of course, condemn the current plans, but more interesting, it is never reported how many generations the attorney quoted has lived in the West. We always learn right off that rancher Petrich is “third generation.” We always learn that about other ranchers (except then they have not been here for land). I suppose this is intended to prove ranchers have some special claim and at the same time all others a newcomers.

I get quoted in the news. No ever asks how many generations my family lived in the area.

For the record, the Maughans settled in Utah the early 1850s, and my other relatives were all in the area well before 1900. Does that make me and all of them genius’, OR only those who went into livestock?

Finally we learn that biologist Dave Mech thinks maybe the “wily animals will prove too smart for hunters”.

I don’t really know, but I do know a man who has actually managed wolves and shot far more over the years than this rancher. He told me they were very easy to locate and kill.

This article is typical of those written about Western issues.

Western issues have a peculiar character. Students of policy call them “wicked problems,” meaning there is never a clear point where they are settled, and efforts to solve them spawn new problems. There is rarely even agreement on what exactly the problem is or that there is even a problem at all (are 1500 wolves a problem?). The issues are also tied together because the conflict is cultural, not economic. Money is not a solution. We see that in lack of rancher appreciation of Defender’s compensation program and the failure of the MSM to even mention it most of the time.

We will be fighting over “western issues” 50 years from now.

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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.

164 Responses to Matthew Brown wolf article reveals MSM assumptions about wolves, West.

  1. avatar kt says:

    I think that kind of article is the sign of a lazy journalist.

    The article is written before the reporter even sets foot in the hinterlands. I bet nearly all of the readers of this Blog – especially those who have sat endured all the High Country News and Idaho Statesman ranching culture glorification pieces over the years could write one in their sleep. Basic ingredients:

    Old Male Grizzled Rancher OR Colorful Younger Male “Holistic” Rancher (Choose 1).

    Rancher Quote about how Set Upon He Is – By Predators, Government, Nasty Enviros.

    Samples: “Them wolves/coyotes/lions/badgers busted up the herd and I couldn’t find them for months and when I did find them there was one dead in the stream all turnin’ to goo.” Note to Reporter – be sure to accept as Holy Writ that the reason the cows/sheep were trespassing on public land for several months after the Off data on the grazing permit was because of wolves/coyotes/lions/badgers, and reason the dead cow/sheep in the stream was dead was because of wolves. After all, that is apparently the ONLY reason livestock die on public lands.

    Rancher Quote about How Nasty and Bloodthirsty the Predators, Government Grazing Reformers Are

    Rancher Quote about How Predators, Government, Enviros Will Drive Him Out of Business and there will be subdivisions from Hell to Gone and back if that happens.

    Brief, wimpy watered down Quote from Enviro or Government official. Be sure to make this as bland as possible, so as not to detract from the Image you have created of the Sage and Earthy WisemanPastoralist – Who is, after all, the only thing standing between the Beasts of the Wilderness, Government Bureaucrats (those who are supposed to oversee the public lands where Colorful CHaracters Cows/Sheep get to graze for virtually free), unwashed maniacal enviros – and the continued playing out of Manifest Destiny/Conquering the Frontier/Wilderness by Subduing it under Hoof and Gun and Trap/Poison.

  2. avatar mikarooni says:

    This is exactly how too much television, movies, urban development, and urban “cocooning” and not enough dust, sweat, reality, or outdoor experience is transforming the world, into childishly mercenary propagandists like this Matthew Brown. If he’s lucky and remembers, as he has in this article, that every big lie is built around a little truth, he’ll get to be on Fox with Brit Hume and Carlos Williams and other prostitutes who share his approach.

  3. avatar Buffaloed says:

    Read this:
    http://www.ap.org/pages/about/pressreleases/pr_110706a.html

    It shows Matthew Brown’s background in reporting. I’m not sure what that tells us other than he worked in New Orleans, Virginia, and New Jersey. Should we complain about those Easterners coming out here and reporting on what we do?

    I agree with KT. It seems that the same story, wrong as it may be, is being told over and over again.

  4. I guess we could make a template for every rancher article. KT pretty much does.

    Several years ago I made up “third generation” rancher-type story and posted it. A lot of readers thought it was real. I had to finally put up a disclaimer. I went a bit too easy on the federal officials in my fake story.

    Here it is:

    http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/generic-wolf-story.htm

  5. avatar Buffaloed says:

    Here’s a totally different story about wolves:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7100000/newsid_7105000/7105003.stm?bw=bb&mp=rm&asb=1&news=1

    It’s about the legend of Romulus and Remus being raised by a she-wolf and the discovery of an ornate cave which is thought to be the wolf’s lair. Wow! The whole of western culture saved by a killer wolf.

  6. avatar sal says:

    Regional culture. Nobody wants to get behind addressing the issues that arise form these differences. Folks who have never spent a night in the woods seem to think they can report about people, places, and cultural conditons that they know nothing about… in order to tell everybody else “how it is.”

    The west isn’t a dimestore novel, a great western flick, nor is it anything that applies to daily life in the concrete jungles and bedroom cities in the mundane sense.

    Lots of people, mostly US citizens, go to Yellowstone and, because it’s labeled as a ‘park’ they expect to find something akin to Disneyland and show up unprepared for what they need to know for a safe experince in the wild. Because they see such things on TV, many folks assume you can just walk up to a griz family and pet the babies while the mother looks on without concern.

  7. avatar be says:

    testimony to the importance of citizen-borne media ~

  8. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I hear the same complaint about easterners from the browns all of the time in an attempt to de-legitimatize their argument. I try not to do that because I believe that just because someone doesn’t come from the west doesn’t mean they don’t have a legitimate viewpoint. However, in turn, it doesn’t mean they have a legitimate viewpoint either. I think Ralph’s points about the generic wolf story is a pretty good one.

    In the past I have been accused of being an elitist because I grew up in Boise rather than Cascade or Riggins or some other small town. While it does say something about your experiences it doesn’t de-legitimatize any certain viewpoint. I think people that grow up in the city think small town people are bumpkins and small town people think city people are out of touch with their values. I happen to think that both groups tend to be out of touch with natural systems because they each have their own prejudices.

    Nearly everyone watches the TeeVee machine and it seems to do more harm than good to those relations and perpetuates the stereotypes. It is then repeated in the print press.

    This is a good case study on stereotypes in general. It is also a good case study on the myth of the west.

  9. avatar Mike Wolf says:

    I moved my comments on this story to the proper place, since I commented before Ralph posted the story.

    ————————–

    I want to act on something Dave Mech said. He indicated that wolves will thrive even despite hunting. He says that huting won’t hurt populations because the wolves will prove too “wily” for hunters. Yet, wolves are killed every month here in Idaho alone, illegally. Hardly outsmarting hunters. Dave also forgets how wolves were removed from the wild. They were hunted, trapped, denned – all tactics hunters would use.

    I would hate more than anything to see wolves die, but if they die, I’m going to make sure I shove this right down Dave’s throat. He is wrong, and his arrogance in his stance will be proven embarassing to him, and I hope it finally sheds light on just how much of an expert he is. Wolves were once hunted to extinction, and they will be hunted there again.

    One thing I have tried discussing with Dave is the social nature of wolves and the effects hunting would have. Wolves are a social family group. If you see a wolf in the wild, chances are pretty great that it will be the alpha male or female, the leader of the pack, and the storehouse of the pack’s hunting and other knowledge. So, if hunting were allowed, I believe it is likely that the alphas would be first the first killed. Also, given that many packs consist of an alpha pair (parents) and their offspring, the alphas would also be the biggest wolves in many cases. While in elk, the biggest animal isn’t always the healthiest, among wolves in packs like this one, that would be exacty the case and dillution of the gene pool to select wolves for those who are smaller, more afraid of humans would occur all over again.

    A theory I have also been tossing around is the idea that the wolves reintroduced were in fact a different “species” than was factually present in Idaho before the reintroductions. These wolves, as the likes of Ron Gillet have observed, were smaller, and also more solitary, and less adept at hunting elk because they were usually those wolves that didn’t stay in packs. We in fact, I theorize, selected this wolf through hunting them to near extinction.

    And when you consider this theory, and other notions about wolves, hunting suddenly becomes a VERY bad idea.

    I don’t know about you; but I’d rather be conservative about this and not rush into bowing to the pressure of anti-wolf legislatures and fish and game departments (ahem, Idaho) as well as hunters and permit hunting which hasn’t been studied adequately. While the wolves in the Northern Rockies have been declared experimental non-essential; $25 million and 12 years would go to waste if this experiment fails, as I believe it would.

    Sorry, but I don’t believe in sacrificing wolves, not for appeasing ranchers (Defenders’ compensation program), not for appeasing politicians (new 10j proposed changes), not for a self-proclaimed expert’s sake (Dave), and not so that Idaho Fish and Game can get their way either.

  10. avatar sal says:

    Buffaloed,

    Nearly everyone watches the TeeVee machine and it seems to do more harm than good to those relations and perpetuates the stereotypes. It is then repeated in the print press.

    This is a good case study on stereotypes in general. It is also a good case study on the myth of the west.

    Thanks.

    That’s exactly what I think

  11. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Mike Wolf, will you elaborate on what you wrote “Eliminating grazing isn’t going to solve things; it will in fact make them worse.”

  12. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I don’t think that the wolves in Idaho were significantly different than those that were reintroduced. I DO think that there were some here in the early 90’s, specifically in the Sulphur Creek area in the southern part of the Frank Church, but those were probably from Canada like those in northwest Montana. I do know that there were at least 3 males that paired up with wolves that were reintroduced. One with the Thunder Mountain Pack, one with the Wildhorse pack, and another with the Kelley Creek Pack (is that right Ralph?). The Kelley Creek male came from Glacier and wore a collar and the other two were unknown as far as I know.

    There were wolves killed in the 80’s and 90’s in that area and one was found poisoned and nearly dead (but died later). It is mounted at the headquarters of the IDFG in Boise. Was it enough of a population to start with? Well, probably but with the amount of killing happening I think it would have taken a long time. You also have to remember that congressman Jim McClure of Idaho, while against having wolves in Idaho, was for the reintroduction because of the fact that it was classified as an experimental nonessential population which could be killed for livestock conflicts whereas the wolves that came here on their own would not have been.

    I heard a wolf howl early in the morning near Landmark, Idaho back in the summer of 1992 and there were several sightings by reputable people in that area of wolves. I don’t think that the people who were looking for wolves at the time were necessarily looking in the right places or looking very hard but that doesn’t mean that I think the reintroduction was wrong.

    As far as hunting wolves…. I think that it is inevitable but I think that the problems associated with it will include more livestock conflicts. I think there will need to be very conservative methods used. I don’t approve of leg-hold traps, snares, denning or poisons. I’m afraid that there will a mass killing of wolves right off the bat and the public backlash will be severe.

    You are right, Buffaloed. The three Idaho packs with a pre-existing wolf as one of the founders were the Thunder Mountain Pack, the Kelly Creek Pack, and the White Clouds Pack. All of the preexisting wolves were males, indicating there were very likely immigrants who came from Canada or in the case of the Kelly Creek wolf, who had a non-functional collar, from northwest Montana. Writers like Matthew Brown consistently ignore, or maybe never knew that there were almost 90 wolves, restored on the their own, when the wolves were reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone Park. It’s not 66 to 1500 it’s more like 150 to 1500.

    If there were any smaller “wolves” around in Idaho back in the 1970s and 80s, as people like Ron Gillet claim, they were likely coyote/wolf hybrids, and if any of these persisted, they were hopefully and probably killed by the real wolves. Ralph

  13. avatar Buffaloed says:

    Thanks Sal.

  14. avatar kt says:

    Ralph –

    I loved your Generic Wolf Kills Cow Story!

    ESPECIALLY the part about the Rancher saying the rest of the Grieving Herd is so upset they probably won’t eat anything the rest of the summer!

    Isn’t there now some kind of federal or state Welfare Payment that ranchers in Idaho can get – even though no a fang or claw has been laid on
    the -Livestock – because of assumed “Stress”/Psychological trauma just from wolves being in the area??? I wonder how folks could get a record of who may have received these payments. A State Records Act request, perhaps?

    And in thinking about this all – Part of the reason I believe that the livestock industry and ranchers so effectively sell the Cows vs. Condos myth is that once again, the story features the Rancher as Defender against the forces of Evil. In this case, as Defender against tawdry development that might intrude on the
    lovely pastoral scene. Even though the rancher that is spinning this tale might own 40 acres of Base Property, yet be grazing a quarter million aces of public lands …

  15. KT,

    Idaho’s congressional delegation did get an appropriation for unverified losses. I don’t know if it is still in effect because no federal budget was ever passed for FY 2007.

    My understanding is, and it many not be entirely correct, that ranchers who found fewer than usual of the cows they put out in the spring at the end of the season in the fall, could ask for compensation. Wolves must have got any “excess” losses.

    If the program really worked that way, the fallacy is obvious. In any given year there will always be ranchers who lost or couldn’t find more cattle than the year before, but there will always be those who lost fewer. Of course, the latter don’t figure into the compensation.

  16. avatar be says:

    KT ~ larry craig secured federal dollars ($200,000 annually?) to be distributed via the state to livestock producers for lost weight associated with wolves.

    whether wolves are “wily” and difficult to hunt, one thing to consider is ~ if the “science” (which obfuscates the subject of the applied “science” by making it relevant to big game numbers rather than wolf numbers and appropriate distribution – the ‘end’ becomes big game rather than ‘wolves’ in application) that the state management plan is allowed to be legitimized by acceptance, the issue becomes one step closer to justifying the use of poison ~ a flagrantly unacceptable measure now, but it’s (not) funny how all the little moves add up.

  17. avatar be says:

    as ralph mentions re: annual discrepancy , my understanding is that the expenditure applied to lost animals as well as weight ~ should producer be able to produce previous years weight data and show that the current year’s weight was less = cash in hand via uncle sam.

  18. One of many items of contention that anger me to no end is the fact that records of the extermination and end results do not exist for comparing the past with the current wolves and what might result if, {what i believe will be a ‘free for all’}, the hunting of wolves is allowed. No one thought to document the resulting changes in the ecosystems, altered behavior of prey animals, etc. IMO- There does not exist info to determine ‘open season’ for any reason. If it were something other than wolves the consensus would be that much more studying must be done before making an accurate conclusion. Especially that anyone not suffering with what I call “Cranial Rectosis” would agree that many wolves since 1995, have been killed both on and off the record.
    Although current records have been meticulously kept, there simply does not exist the info needed to make such a drastic decision. Even though i am not as well versed with the wolf issues as i am with others, i beleive the benefits far outway any percieved negatives or actual. What i mean by “percieved” would refer to those who do not feel they should bear full responsibility for their property whether it breathes or not.
    History would not be attempting to repeat because I beleive the attitude of ‘kill’em all” would still have existed despite the thought that better educating the public would have made a difference in the acceptance of wolf reintro.
    I beleive that the wolf reintro was successful and they are thriving. The human factor is the source of conflict. It would also help if certain organizations would grow a pair.

  19. avatar kt says:

    Ah – Larry Craig, the he-man rancher’s greatest champion! WHEN are we going to seemore articles talking about how much of a stalwart Bedfellow to the Cattlemen and Sheepmen Larry Craig has been? And that MUCH of U.S’s backwards and anti-environmental public lands grazing policies – over the past two decades – are due to Craig?

    There was the Rocky Barker Statesman article in the very same simpering vein as the Matthew Brown article a week or so ago. In Barker’s article – public lands sheep mega-rancher John Faulkner was ranting about how wolves had scattered his sheep and on and on. When I read that – the first thought that came to mind is: This skilled mouthpiece for the Industry/Woolgrower’s is setting the stage to claim Sheep Stress Welfare payments …

    The more these “Victimized” Rugged Individualist Welfare ranchers kick and scream – the more likely they are to get more tax dollar Welfare handouts. So feeding exaggeration and hyberbole to reporters who just want to regurgitate the same old story line without digging into any FACTS is so very much in to their benefit.

  20. avatar LauraW says:

    This article was in my local paper yesterday. Does anyone else plan to write a letter to the editor pointing out the lopsided reporting of this article and offering some positive information about the role of the wolf in the ecosystem?

  21. avatar JEFF E says:

    I’m not a tax expert by any means but isn’t there an operating loss deduction that farmers and livestock operators take advantage of to offset any and all losses no matter the cause?

  22. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    David Mech’s blind spot regarding wolves is that he’s essentially a game & fish guy and shares all those old-line g&f agency biases regarding wildlife that, 70 years ago when people like Aldo Leopold first articulated them, were quite radical. Now, they’re merely conventional wisdom and no longer fit current circumstances.

    Mech has done important research into wolf biology and ecology but like most scientists, his political and moral values rarely come under self-criticism–scientists rarely receive philosophical training, either in undergraduate or graduate training, a complaint I’ve heard from more than one suddenly enlightened scientist–and he’s not willing to change how he thinks, unlike Aldo Leopold, who began thinking ecologically in the 1930s and adopted something like a proto-conservation biology approach by the 1940s, which we see articulated in A Sand County Almanac and his other late writings.

    Having done research into wolves and wolf control in northern Canada, to a certain degree, it is true wolves are hard to hunt under a regulated regime. On the other hand, elk here in the intermountain west aren’t all that easy to hunt either. No animal is. That’s where Mech’s argument becomes untenable. Hunting any species successfully takes experience and skill as well as a keen understanding of the terrain. Over time, the hunting becomes more certain.

    The same is true of wolves; an experienced wolfer can take a lot of wolves. Furthermore, when modern technology comes into play–airplanes, snowmobiles, GPS collars–hunting and killing wolves is frightfully easy. This is precisely why the state plans, particularly those of Wyoming and Idaho, are deeply, deeply flawed and must not be allowed to be put into effect.

    Wyoming’s plan is the most threatening to wolves since the so-called trophy game area is frightfully small, only encompassing part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, whereas in more than 3/4 of the State wolves are classified as”predatory animals” and can be killed anywhere, anyhow, any time, including aerial gunning and poison. It was primarily poisoning that killed wolves off here by the 1930s. Furthermore, since the area where wolves are “managed” as trophy game is so small, the incentive to poach wolves and then claim that the wolves were taken as predatory animals just outside the trophy game zone will be high. There’s no doubt in my mind that the so-called protections of “trophy game” status in NW Wyoming are worthless.

    In my considered view, and I’ve been involved with the Wyoming G&F Department for a long time, mostly an adversarial relationship, it will be impossible for G&F to maintain even the minimum number of packs called for in State law and the illegal agreement with the Fish & Wildlife Service under the most recent delisting proposal. The fact is, the Wyoming plan is nothing more than a plan for re-extinction–it reflects the determination of Wyoming’s oligarchy to fence wolves into Yellowstone National Park and obstruct their their natural dispersal/migration patterns, patterns we all know are essential to the future health of wolf populations. Bottling wolves up in the Park cannot possibly create the conditions for a healthy, vigorous wolf population.

    Idaho’s plan is not much better, but I’ll let Idahoans dissect the problems with that plan.

    We are of course not having much success in getting the true story issues in front of the public, thanks to the laziness and even cowardice of the press, which we see displayed in Matthew Brown’s horrendous piece.

    The suggestions that have been made on this blog and in other fora that we need our own media outlets I think is a good one, and one that we need to start thinking about in detail, particularly, how do we pay for it.

    It is vital that this discussion continue.

  23. avatar Layton says:

    What a hoot!!

    Folks that previously wouldn’t give hunters credit for having the sense to pour pee out of a boot with directions on the heel are now giving them credit for some sort of supernatural ability to wipe out the wolf population!!

    Give me a break! How are these “beer swilling, motel dwelling, fat, stupid hunters” going to hurt the population of wolves with super intelligence and sentient tendencies??

    C’mon folks, even a person such as I – a person not exactly credited with having even a minimum bit of God given intelligence – can do a bit of really easy reading and figure out that it took poison, aerial gunning and a lot of other skulduggery to come close to eliminating wolves in the Northwest the first time around. (even Robert Hoskins, while not waxing eloquently about Aldo Leopold, admits this)

    Why would it be different this time? Do you REALLY think that these methods will get some kind of a special dispensation from the powers that be???

    Plus that, most of us that post on this board these days will be long dead before the issue gets out of the courts!!

    Layton

  24. Layton,

    As you well know they are all kinds of hunters in terms of drive and capability.

    I also would not be surprised if someone in Idaho’s government leaked them radio collar frequencies.

  25. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    I’ve got a bit of constructive criticism for some that have posted to this thread: we can moan and groan and complain amongst ourselves on this blog about the inequities of Matthew Brown’s article and the lack of objective reporting (everywhere) but it’s pointless unless we TAKE ACTION.

    I emailed Associated Press, criticized Matthew Brown, and requested that they respond on Ralph’s blog (I sent a link).

    If you’re interested, here ‘ya go:

    http://www.ap.org/pages/contact/contact.html

    Robert, I HAVE A DREAM…! We need a sort of central depository of conservation news stories, fed by individuals in our respective states armed with digital video cams (2 cameras per event) that document local, city, county, state, regional and federal meetings as well as cover general conservation news. And who better to fund this project than Ted Turner. Who can put me in contact with Mr. Turner? And we’ll need someone to volunteer to put this project together – it won’t be me…

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  26. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    In response to Layton’s rather thoughtless comment, he missed–not surprisingly–my assertion that an experienced wolfer can take a lot of wolves. That would be the case with or without a lot of help from snowmobiles, airplanes, and radio collars. I mentioned the latter mainly to point out how easy it would be to kill wolves using that technology in Wyoming’s predatory animal zone, particularly through concerted, state sponsored wolf control efforts. I said absolutely nothing about hunters in general. On the other hand, with Wyoming’s dual status law, use of these technologies to kill wolves certainly has received blessing from the powers to be, that is, the Wyoming Legislature.

    Also, wolves would be subject to aerial gunning by Wildlife Services even in the trophy game zone if those wolves get into livestock.

    I might point out further that two years ago, the livestock industry, supported by our erstwhile Sportsmen for Feeding and Whining, got passed through the Wyoming legislature a $6 million dollar subsidy to county predator control boards, to be distributed through the state Animal Damage Management Control Board, a truly fraudulent body, largely to help pay for wolf control upon delisting.

    I might add that the inly Wyoming conservation group to oppose this $6 million subsidy for predator control was the Sierra Club.

    Layton, you’re going to need to start paying attention to what people say, not what you want them to say so that you can set up straw men to knock down. Your credibility until such time is non-existent.

  27. avatar be says:

    from my perspective there is not much that one can do to get the MSM outlets to represent advocates’ perspective to the degree that would be meaningful. i don’t know. of the several meetings that i’ve been to with a camera ~ including wolf management meetings/hearings of FWS’s and IDFG the anti-wolf participants have delivered via a silver platter content that would enlighten the general public ~ and it’s very simple ~ it would need no explanation other than the simple quotes and a certain level of honesty in bringing the actual content to the public.

    no, it seems that there is a censorship that happens de facto ~ like ralph and KT mention with the canned story-line ~ it is almost as if most of the struggle for these folk is to fit it into that glorified mold despite the vociferous belligerence that inevitably results in these forums.

    a couple of examples were when IDFG commissioner compared wolves to women’s sports at an initial state management meeting ~ “football’s gotta pay the bills” or when ID Sen Larry Craig delivered the glory-line for Butch Otter that we no longer call it ‘logging’ it’s called “cleaning” the forest ~ and then Craig went on to belittle archeological values on public lands ~ in front of an native representative of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation ~ who had a seat next to Craig on the panel.

    the MSM was there ~ they had their bright and shiny cameras and recording devices on the whole time. But these things get filtered out ~ in my mind it may have more to do with incompetence and adherence to the balance-over-objectivity directive that we see media lulled into now.

    advocates will not gain prominence in the MSM by asking for it. the internet is the forum ~ and when we visit like minded forums and participate, we build its legitimacy as an alternative. when we are able to highlight the inadequacy of the MSM to such a degree by presenting the actual news of these events, and when our efforts are patronized to the largest degree possible ~ MSM will take note of the disjoint in coverage ~ and the inadequacy and dishonesty of their process of editing/censorship will be in stark contrast to a full and truthful reporting of events. that’s the pressure that will wake them up to objective and honest coverage.

  28. avatar catbestland says:

    It might be a good idea to write our local papers asking them to run a continuing column addressing environmental issues. If they already do this, ask that they publish certain articles by environmentalists that address these particular issues, wolves, welfare ranching, ecosystems destruction and water quality degredation.

    We all know that the wolf plans in all three of thes states have been constructed to suit one entity, the Cattle Industry. That is not likely to change UNTIL the controling legislative interest has been wrested away from the bovine oligarchy in favor of the vast majority of the population who wish to see their wildlife and environmental interest fairly represented.

  29. avatar catbestland says:

    For some reasin my comment was posted before I got to make my point. So I’ll go on.

    Meanwhile ranchers are supposed to work within the regulations set upon them by BLM and Forest Services. Some do, Some do not. These regulations are supposed to have been rewritten over the years to reduce the negative impact of overgrazing to our public and watersheds. I have noticed that ranchers , especially from long time ranching families often think these regulations do not apply to them. When hiking, I have noticed that cattle are in areas that they should not be and the gates to their allotments are purposely left open, not broken down but left open. I have noticed that springs that have been fenced off for their protection have been had the fencing trampled and cattle allowed to destroy the springs. I have noticed FAR too many cattle on lands than are supposed to be there.

    We should all take time to familiarize ourselves with allotment maps and regulations. When we see these regulations being ignored by ranchers, complain to the BLM or Forest Service and ask for copies of the complaints. Keep complaining until they do something about it. If they don’t do something, take the complaints to the newspapers until you find some reporter willing to write an article about it. Often we, who wish to see healthier ecosystems are not aware of how ranchers are abusing the system that is in place even though that system is innadequate. Until change comes, we can at least work within that system to put pressure on ranchers and expose their willingness to break even their own laws. There should be some way to get those ridiculoulsy low grazing fees raised too. That might disuade some ranchers from abusing public lands

  30. avatar catbestland says:

    Please excuse my grammatical errors, I get a little punchy with the submit button.

  31. avatar Dante says:

    And there are those who claim to be conservationists who purposefully leave the gates open because they are too lazy to close the gates behind them or because they see it as a way to place blame on the livestock folks and turn them in to the BLM or FS when the livestock owner is not to blame at all.

  32. I think most of the people who leave gates open are generally drivers who can’t be bothered, especially because they don’t know the effect of leaving them open.

  33. avatar JB says:

    Mack, be:

    I agree that conservationists need to do a better job of using new media to promote their positions and shed light on what’s happening regarding wolves in the West. The camera is a powerful tool and, in combination with such outlets as YouTube, can be especially effective at delivering your message to a wide audience. I think video would be useful for highlighting the kind of unfair treatment of conservationists in public forums that has been discussed here in other posts.

    Regarding wolf hunting: I think wolves will indeed prove harder to kill than most hunters imagine–if only for the reason that they are so few compared with other game animals. Unfortunately, with animosity as high as it is and the power of management no longer in the hands of the Feds, some “hunters” will be emboldened to use any means (legal or otherwise) to kill wolves. With enough of them out there, they will have an impact. The real question is how the states will respond?

  34. avatar catbestland says:

    Dante,

    And I suppose it is the conservationists who make those cows trample fences around springs and run too many cows on allotments too.

  35. avatar Layton says:

    Robert,

    Excuse me, I didn’t quote your complete post — didn’t think I had to. That doesn’t mean I didn’t read it – in it’s entirety.

    What I DID say – when mentioning you – was:

    “C’mon folks,……………….. – can do a bit of really easy reading and figure out that it took poison, aerial gunning and a lot of other skulduggery to come close to eliminating wolves in the Northwest the first time around. (even Robert Hoskins, ……………….., admits this”

    Seems to me that your next post kind of says the same thing —- doesn’t it?

    All I was pointing out is that the wolves are NOT stupid!! It is my belief that a season, for “normal” hunters is not going to damage the wolf population a whole lot.

    By the way, you said: “Also, wolves would be subject to aerial gunning by Wildlife Services even in the trophy game zone if those wolves get into livestock.”

    Aren’t they now?

    Layton

  36. avatar timz says:

    “I also would not be surprised if someone in Idaho’s government leaked them radio collar frequencies.”

    I mentioned this same thought to Lynne Stone several weeks ago. Part of the hunting plan should be making it a crime to use this information. It should also be a crime to leak it. (if it’s not already) F&G whine about the cost of collaring so they should not allow the shooting of collared animals either.

    Layton, what is a “normal” hunter, possibly the 15 people that were arrested in an elk poaching sting in just two weekends in Northern Idaho. The story rated a single paragraph buried in the back pages of the Idaho Statesman. Not a peep of protest from the “Sportsman”
    for F&W. Had 15 wolves killed a few elk, or anything else in two weekends it would have been all over the front page and the dimwit governor would have had to hold anoter rally on the capitol steps.

  37. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Here’s the elk decoy sting story: http://www.idahostatesman.com/531/story/218935.html

    What is a “normal” hunger? Could they be the freaks that destroyed coyotes in a coyote slaughter in Mini-Cassia, Idaho, sponsored by Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife? Story here: http://mountaingoatreport.typepad.com/the_mountaingoat_report/2007/01/i_wasnt_going_t.html

    Sportsmen’s Ware and Cabela’s also sponsored the slaughter.

    Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife has also held a coyote slaughter in Cody, Wyoming.

    Coyote biologists tell us that ‘ya take coyotes out of an area, the rodents rebound, other coyotes come to take over the area and have large litters, producing more coyotes than were in the area to begin with.

    I am of the opinion that you should eat what you shoot. You shoot a ground squirrel, you eat it.

  38. avatar JB says:

    Mack, Timz:

    The problem is that there is no one “type” of hunter–they do not fit into neat groups. Some like predators, some hate them; some hunt for food, some for trophies; some are ardent conservationists, others don’t care as long as there is something to shoot. Hunters simply are not easily classified.

    The larger problem is that with so few hunters around, I believe hunters in general default to the position of supporting other hunters–even in situations where this defies logic. IMO, hunters need to do a better job of policing themselves. When someone poaches an Elk (or 15), hunters should be the first to condemn this act. Instead, hunting groups stay quiet, hoping not to draw negative attention to the sport. Yet, in staying silent it appears that they condone the behavior, which tends to tick off non-hunters and promote the very image they are trying to avoid.

    That’s my 2 cents, anyway.

    JB

  39. avatar catbestland says:

    We should write the judges and the prosecutors assigned to these cases, like the ones Timz mentions, demanding stricter sentencing. We have the right to do that.

    As these cases come up we should post the districts where they are charged along with the names of the Judges if we know them, and we can all write letters demanding more severe punishment than has been seen.

  40. FYI–In the Oregonian, the story about the poachers and elk, was actually very detailed and included a couple photos. There was even a mention in the local newscast. Poaching seems to always be reported by the paper and on TV. In Oregon there seems to be consistant patroling for poachers and decoys are regularly used.

  41. avatar elkhunter says:

    We just finished a coyote hunt in Cedar City UT on Sat. My dad and I were a team along with about 11 other teams. We were the top team with 5 coyotes. We saw a total of 12 coyotes that day. We have been hunting coyotes in this area for over 8 years. We have never yet ran out of dogs to hunt, never yet experienced overpopulation of rabbits/rodents. There is no way you will ever wipe out coyotes. They fly the area we hunt (which I dont agree with) and yet we still have coyotes every year. I am confused though, cause one side of the coyote controversy is that people say we are killing all the coyotes and ruining the ecosystem, then the other side says that by killing them we are just increasing their populations, so which one is it?
    Elkhunter

  42. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    elk/coyote”hunter,” I hope you ate the coyotes you killed.

    I think people who kill wildlife for reasons other than consuming what they kill have mental and/or psychological problems.

    You kill an coyote, you eat it.

  43. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Elk hunter do you eat coyotes?

  44. avatar JB says:

    Elkhunter:

    I am not up to date on all of the research surrounding coyotes. However, I do have an opinion as to why most people oppose coyote hunting. If you survey people regarding their attitudes toward hunting, you’ll find nearly everyone supports hunting for food. However, most people do not support “trophy hunting” and certainly do not support hunting contests. I think people reject coyote hunting in general because it is not done to procure food. I think people reject coyote tournaments (and personally, I agree) because of the way in which they are carried out (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, find the documentary “Killing Coyote”). Basically, people reject the notion that “killing” should be turned into a competitive contest. I agree; I think this cheapens hunting, which should be a contest between humans and their prey, not a contest to see which person can kill the most. Moreover, I don’t believe that we should teach our children that this is a legitimate way to interact with their environment.

    I hope you do not take offense; I don’t mean any. But I don’t think coyote tournaments are good for hunting, good for coyotes, or good for society in general.

  45. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I agree with JB about the coyote hunting. It just wreaks of testosterone poisoning to me.

  46. avatar mikarooni says:

    I don’t know whether elkhunter eats coyotes or not; but, I sure do know what he has been trying to feed us for a long time.

  47. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack: I dont eat coyotes, that would probably kill you. As for my mental state, I personally feel fairly well. I just had a little girl so I am a little short on sleep though.

    JB: I can understand your point, I have read alot on the topic and there is alot of research pointing to the effects that coyotes have on fawn recruitment for deer/antelope. So if by killing a few coyotes each year that helps out, then I have no problem, wether that be in a contest or not. It still goes back to the reason I hunt, spending time doing something I love, with people I love. I am not offended by what you wrote at all. Everyone can have their opinion. I feel there is alot of mis-information as far as coyote hunting is concerned. They are not called the Wily Coyote for nothing. It makes me laugh that on this blog, like Layton pointed out, that “hunters” like me are constantly ridiculed and that we could not find an elk unless it was tied to the front of my ATV etc. The fact that if I hunt I live in a trailer park (Mikarooni’s assesment of hunters, I guess he feels all redneck, hick hunters are out to get him and live in trailers. Lucky for him he buys up all the land and keeps hunters out) JK, I dont live in a trailer park, I actually have a very good job and live in a normal house like alot of other normal people I know. But JB you have some valid points and some hold water for sure.

    Mikarooni: No I dont eat coyotes, or live in a trailer, nor do I feel I am white trash, I have a great job and a nice house. So if shooting 15-20 coyotes a year makes me a white trash redneck then I guess I am.

    Linda Hunter: No I dont eat coyotes.

  48. avatar skyrim says:

    And so personally E.H., what exactly do you get out of these hunts? Is it your hatred of the animal or the thrill of the kill? Does this feeling equal that of plinking off feral cats or dropping a huge Bull Elk in a mountain meadow?

  49. avatar Layton says:

    Timz,

    “Layton, what is a “normal” hunter, possibly the 15 people that were arrested in an elk poaching sting in just two weekends in Northern Idaho.”

    Yep, kinda like the “normal” contributor around here is a really staunch, contributing member of E.L.F.

    Aren’t you?? 8^)

    Layton

  50. avatar timz says:

    “Yep, kinda like the “normal” contributor around here is a really staunch, contributing member of E.L.F.”

    Your attempt at humor is another display of your ignorance. The E.L.F. is an underground group and there is no way to contribute to it. Try again or better yet go away.

  51. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Yet another cheap shot from “Layton.”

    I suggest this non-contributing person either voluntarily leave this blog, or that Ralph ban him/her.

  52. avatar elkhunter says:

    Skyrim: No I dont hate coyotes, but I do enjoy hunting them. I have never shot a feral cat, though I would if I saw them. I would rather shoot a huge bull than a coyote, I am just waiting to draw out.
    Elkhunter

  53. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack: I think that Layton makes some really good points on this blog. Layton and I are really the only 2 people that post on here that have different viewpoints than the large majority of people on here. And Mack you take your fair share of shots also.
    Elkhunter

  54. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    I think my shots are fair, well-deserved and above-belt, as opposed to Layton’s cheap shot above.

  55. avatar elkhunter says:

    I am sure he feels the same way.

  56. This thread is degenerating. I’ll probably end it unless folks want to add something of substance.

  57. avatar Layton says:

    I’m going to try to “add something of substance” here if the thread isn’t closed.

    Sure, I “took a shot” at timz — didn’t he take a big one at me??

    To classify a “normal” hunter with a bunch of poachers is not exactly a “decent” comment.

    I’m a big boy, I have broad shoulders and I think I can take about everything that is dished out here. BUT, let’s be fair – if you want to play loose with the cheap shots, expect some back.

    It’s pretty obvious that I don’t share the same views that a lot of folks here share — isn’t that the american way? Ralph has provided this blog and I try to be respectful (most of the time) when I try to discuss things. Unfortunately, since I disagree sometimes, I guess my comments get taken differently.

    If you want ONLY “singing to the choir” I guess I’m in the wrong place — BUT — I would hope that is NOT the case. I have learned a lot by reading the comments here, I would hope that sometimes people can learn from what I say. It’s a two way street.

    Meanwhile, thanks for the blog Ralph.

    Layton

  58. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    I have the impression that hunters and farmers, ranchers and others who view coyotes as varmits are pointing to the research that says coyotes eat lots of fawns and ugulate young, and therefore hurt the herds. I have looked for that research and not found it. . instead I have found a great book by a Eastern Oregon rancher called “Don Coyote” which describes the coyote usefulness to this rancher, and then I have also read Dr. Jon Way’s book “Suburban Howls” which is an excellent look at some very recent research. In it the coyote world is not a simple as we thought. . when you kill coyotes they are replace by dispersing animals who don’t have the wisdom or local knowledge that pack that was killed had and chaos ensues in the animal world. Dr. Way puts it much better than I can paraphrase it, but the old adage that coyotes are pests will probably be disproved. There is a body of knowledge passed down by generations of hunters about animals that I personally love to look into because some of it is true, but more often than not I find that the animals don’t keep the same behavior over generations. Animals adapt a lot faster than humans it seems and it is not a good idea to kill alot of animals who we don’t fully understand or see their role in our surroundings.

  59. avatar elkhunter says:

    Linda: I agree that certain animals adapt to certain environments. Where we hunt coyotes its the same country for 100 square miles. Just rolling hills with sagebrush and cedar trees. I am surprised you did not find anything on the effects of coyotes on ungulate fawns. I can post ALOT if you want me to. But I seriously doubt my 15-20 coyotes a year is going to destroy the ecosystem in the area that I hunt.
    Elkhunter

  60. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    The title of this page is “Matthew Brown wolf article reveals MSM assumptions about wolves, West”

    My main contribution:

    I’ve got a bit of constructive criticism for some that have posted to this thread: we can moan and groan and complain amongst ourselves on this blog about the inequities of Matthew Brown’s article and the lack of objective reporting (everywhere) but it’s pointless unless we TAKE ACTION.

    I emailed Associated Press, criticized Matthew Brown, and requested that they respond on Ralph’s blog (I sent a link).

    If you’re interested, here ‘ya go:

    http://www.ap.org/pages/contact/contact.html

  61. avatar Nephi Cole says:

    It is unfortunate how much missinfofrmation is pushed and published on both sides of this debate. Irrational hate of the animal is only as ugly as an irrational desire to “protect it”. Working daily with ranchers, NGO’s, and geovernment it is clear that this issue is being managed and argued by two different groups, those with economic interest, and those with emotional interest. The personification of wolves and the associated emotional attachment precludes many from being able to see them how a land manager might. Like it or not wolves are in economic competition with sportsman, ranchers, developers, recreationalists and others who are asked to change their current lifestyle and culture in order to accomodate the “re-introduction”. It is important to note that there is a major difference between wolves and bears, and other non-predatory animals to most of the population of the west. Non-predatory animals are major sources of revenue and recreation, and wolves deplete those resources. Untill the true cost of the re-introduction is met by those who want to see more wolves (millions a year in revenue to local economies) they will never be embraced. It is not accurate to claim that we are “unfairly” paying ranchers for loss. The rancher actually does not want to be paid, he wants to take care of the problem himself, and that would result in an outcome that we have already seen. After all, that’s what they did in the early 1900’s. So please, don’t complain about the rancher wanting to protect his animals, my guess is that when one of us lost our Labrador to a wolf, we might react in a negetaive way as well. Support management, and support hunting. In the end, if this animal is an economic negetaive to local stakeholders, it will never “recover”. Whatever that means.
    – – – – –

    In my view, the wolf issue is primarily emotional on all sides. Economic agreements are brought in to make it appear otherwise, but economic issues don’t generate this kind of emotional response. Ralph Maughan

  62. avatar catbestland says:

    Mack,
    I will follow suit.

    See my comment below. Ralph

  63. Brown emailed me and I responded yesterday. I haven’t heard back from him yet.

  64. avatar timz says:

    “If you want ONLY “singing to the choir” I guess I’m in the wrong place — BUT — I would hope that is NOT the case.”

    Speaking for myself only and not directing this at anyone in particular I would welcome such a sight, I’ve heard enough anti-wolf rhetoric and talk of killing things to last me the rest of my life.

  65. avatar BW says:

    I thought Matt’s article was well written.

    You are shooting at (him) it because you disagree with what was said.

    The balance on this site is non-existent. Your biases against ranchers and hunters is laughable. They have done more for the conservation of wildlife then anyone else.

  66. Since I took his article apart bit and bit and wrote what I thought was wrong with it, I think you need to specify in detail why is was a good article.

    Otherwise, this comment is just the expression of opinion.

    For example, why should he not have to put the wolf “depredation” issue in context with losses to other predators? Why is the focus on just one unusual rancher OK?

  67. avatar BW says:

    Aren’t your comments simply opinion as well?

    Was anything Matt represented not factual?

    Are there any other current numbers (other then the 1545) which Matt could have used? He wrote the story with the facts as they are. Your argument is that he should have done more with the piece then he did. He actually quotes others with a differing views, he touches on the fact that everyone agreed upon 300 wolves (evenly distributed among the three states), he mentions that some believe we need 10 times that amount, he mentions a well respected wolf expert who talks about how ‘wily’ the wolves are once hunting occurs, etc.

    How or why is my opinion any less then that of yours or anyone else’s for that matter?

    I have spoken with wolf managers from Alaska which have echoed the same thing as Mr. Mech. He isn’t the only one which believes wolves are more resilient then some are giving them credit.

    Why is it that once the target objectives are reached environmentalists want to expand them further. Did the EIS address the impacts of 1500 plus wolves (as we know that is the minimum number not the total)? The bottom line is that Matt Brown did a good job on a difficult subject. Wolves are very divisive. Perhaps you should be writing your own piece, then you can interview all of the people you want and tell your side of the story. What you are looking for is a biased piece not a balanced piece.

  68. BW,

    I did not say Brown committed factual errors. I wrote that he had errors of omission.

    The official wolf numbers are always calculated for Jan. 1 each year. This is because wolf pups are born once a year in April. There has to be a standard time for population estimates because the population of the wolf and all animals varies throughout the year.

    By suddenly releasing a mid-year estimate and comparing it to the estimate 6 months earlier, Ed Bangs, not Matthew Brown, produced a very misleading and also exaggerated population estimate — one that gives the impression of a larger and faster growing population than is the actual case.

    We don’t know how wolves will react to a hunt. It may be that after there are simply fewer wolves. On the other hand, after a year there might be the same or more wolves.

    As packs are broken up, wolves might disperse all over the place, and they might kill a lot more livestock (or not).

    The smart kind of hunt is to begin with an experimental hunt to see what happens and what the side effects are.

    Now the intent of my post was not to trash Brown, who is most likely a perfectly fine person. My intent was to show how the article was defective and suggest things that would make it accurate.

    Wolf supporters did not agree to 300 wolves. There were told it would be a minimum of 30 breeding pairs with at least 10 breeding pairs in each of the three states. On a personal note, in Dec. 1993 I visited Ed Bangs and he told how it would be. It was not a number for negotiation.

    The federal government estimated this would be 300 wolves, but they didn’t really know. I was an educated guess. Their guess was wrong, too small.

    The EIS did not address 1500 wolves, but you can use it to extrapolate. For example, a straight line extrapolation would be estimated livestock killed for 300 wolves times five.

  69. avatar JB says:

    BW:

    There is another reason why Brown’s article is misleading. It, like so many others, focuses on the ‘plight’ of the struggling rancher. Why not focus on the biologist who has a job because wolves are there, the tourist who visits from Asia specifically to see wolves, or any other number of people who benefit from the presence of wolves? Because a person who may loose their livelihood is always more compelling than someone who earns a bit more money, gets a job, or gets a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Brown’s focuses almost exclusively on a VERY SMALL percentage of people who are negatively impacted. With so many articles written on the plight of the rancher, the media sends the message that wolves are primarily harmful–and, over the long term, this may impact people’s attitudes regarding wolves, wolf reintroduction, and delisting. Yet, writers continue to return to this angle to create a compelling story.

    Like Ralph, I don’t disagree with his facts, but there’s no question that this is a one-sided presentation of what’s going on.

  70. avatar JB says:

    BW:

    I’ve been trying to provide references for the claims I make on this list. Here is the study I was referring to when I made the comments above:

    Shanto Iyengar (1991) Is anyone responsible: How Television Frames Political Issues. University of Chicago Press.

    Summary: Iyengar argues priming is the way in which news provides cues that focus the viewer’s thinking on one facet of an issue.
    •Attention drawn to some facet of news story-
    •News story is said to “prime” us on that aspect (IMPORTANT: priming leads to judgment)

  71. avatar JEFF E says:

    My one comment on this article is to repeat the old saw that applies to about 90% of all “journalism” today; “if it bleeds it leads” hence the “I had to shoot all them wolves or I would be out of business” line.
    As for Layton and Elky, at least they will engage and stay in a discussion unlike Cred who takes the little potshot every now and then and then skitters back to the sidelines. And thank God we don’t have to put up with a blog like you find on the Billings, Montana or Casper, Wyoming newspapers.

  72. avatar BW says:

    Ralph:
    With all due respect, you are stating that Matt did not use factual data when he used the 1545 number as it is not (as you have stated before “as it is a mid-year number”. Matt used the most recent number that has been released. Might that number change? Probably. It is only an estimated number after all. One that is a minimum number rather than a maximum number.

    You claim we won’t know how wolves will react to a hunt. Are there not other places in North America or elsewhere which wolves are hunted? To say that we won’t know how wolves will respond is ridiculous. Some could even argue that wolves are currently being hunted as Wildlife Services has been lethally removing wolves for years. Some packs have been entirely removed, while other packs have had individual or multiple members removed.

    Once again, it’s only my opinion, but we have been holding experimental hunts for quite some time via Wildlife Services.

    While wolf supporters might not have agreed upon the 300 number that has certainly been the target number for several years. No one seemed to be complaining about that number until it was hit and then surpassed. Those on the opposite side have also argued that introduction should have never taken place either. My point is that the 300 number has been the number for quite some time now. Why is it now becoming an issue? It is purely your opinion that the 300 number is too small. Like I stated earlier, some would argue that 300 is too many (those that are anti-wolf). All three states drafted plans based upon the 300 number. The EIS was performed based on the 300 number. To assume that you can simply extrapolate that out to 1500 plus animals is incorrect. It is not a linear equation but an exponential one.

    JB:
    Perhaps it is because wolves are having a direct impact on ranchers. If the wolf is truly a national treasure, why are its impacts being born by ranchers? You can also argue that hunters are also bearing these impacts via reductions of big game (ungulates) animals which hunters have directly recovered through their hunting dollars, a self-imposed taxation of hunting/fishing equipment, sweat equity and dollars spent on habitat improvements that have benefited all wildlife not just the ones which are hunted. I believe you miss the point that wolves do have an impact. The biologist you mention already had a job, except for those specifically hired to oversee their introduction. Those which have been hired to oversee their introduction are now publicly stating that it is time to remove them from the list of protected species. People may be coming from Asia to see wolves, but I doubt that is their sole motivation for coming to visit America. Numerous claims have been made that wolves are generating considerable money from visitors coming to specifically see them. In fact, most people are not coming just to see wolves. They are coming to see and experience many different things. Wolves may play a role in it but far from what some are claiming.

    Without a doubt the media can and tries to influence to general public. I get equally frustrated when I see extreme prejudices or biases which run counter my interests as do you and most people participating on his blog. However, to start attacking Matthew Brown for his piece is wrong. Those that have posted the email link to the AP have made this a direct attack on Mr. Brown. Mr. Maughan has facilitated this attack by allowing those links to be placed and left on this site. As I have stated earlier, if you don’t like his article submit one of your own, but don’t imply that someone has misrepresented something unless they have. Mr. Brown used factual data that others in the media have also used. In the opinion of some, he could have expanded it to other topics but I am certain that even Mr. Brown has a limited amount of space for his pieces.

  73. avatar JEFF E says:

    The “300” number is and was considered the MINUMUM number to start to CONSIDER the delisting process, not the maximum or target number.

  74. avatar BW says:

    The 300 number is a minimum as no one knows exactly how many wolves are actually present.

    1545 is considerably higher than 300.

  75. avatar catbestland says:

    BW
    What about the direct negative impact ranchers have had on the rest of the population and the planet as well. What about the destruction to the environment and contamination to our water sources? What about the 137 + species that have been threatened or extirpated by the cattle industry? What about the monopoly of our public lands by the bovine oligarchy. So don’t talk about the “poor Put upon” ranchers. They are the ones who chose to force their exotic and paracidic species upon a land that is ill equipted to sustain them. The rest of us have had to suffer the consequences and now the rest of us wish to see as much of the natural ecosystems restored as possible. Maybe if for no other reason than to prove than man can actually have a possitive effect on his environment instead of possesing only the ability to destroy it. What is going to happen when ranchers have destroyed the ENTiIRE west? Where will you go then? How many intact ecosystems do you think still exist to be exploited? What happens when they as well are gone? I’ll tell you. We go with them.

  76. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    BW says: “If the wolf is truly a national treasure, why are its impacts being born by ranchers?”

    Because livestock producers have grazing allotments that total in the millions of acres on AMERICA’S public lands and wolves like, uh, thrive there. The *positive* impacts of wolves are being experienced by businesses that benefit from tourism, etc.

    “You can also argue that hunters are also bearing these impacts via reductions of big game…”

    Not true, except for the northern herd of Yellowstone, which has suffered from drought and over-hunting. What’s your source for your statement?

    “However, to start attacking Matthew Brown for his piece is wrong. Those that have posted the email link to the AP have made this a direct attack on Mr. Brown. Mr. Maughan has facilitated this attack by allowing those links to be placed and left on this site.”

    I’m the one that posted the link to AP and I have not made a direct attack on Mr. Brown. I have criticized him, though. Make the distinction between a personal attack and a criticism. Here’s what I posted:

    I’ve got a bit of constructive criticism for some that have posted to this thread: we can moan and groan and complain amongst ourselves on this blog about the inequities of Matthew Brown’s article and the lack of objective reporting (everywhere) but it’s pointless unless we TAKE ACTION.

    I emailed Associated Press, criticized Matthew Brown, and requested that they respond on Ralph’s blog (I sent a link).

    If you’re interested, here ‘ya go:

    http://www.ap.org/pages/contact/contact.html

    “…if you don’t like his article submit one of your own…”

    I’m not a member of the Associated Press or any of the wire services, for that matter. Otherwise, I sure as hell would.

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  77. avatar BW says:

    Cat:
    You need to sip your coolaide slower. While some ranchers may not be good stewards of the land many are. You can not paint all ranchers with the same brush after all isn’t Ted Turner a rancher too?

    Which is more harmful ranchers, ranchettes, or suburban sprawl? Development of western landscapes is a much graver threat then is ranching (in my opinion). Where will you go once the west has been developed to the point of the East or West Coast? Open spaces are limited. Ranching has expanded the amount of open space available for all wildlife species.

    The West has been around for a long time, why do you feel that it is now threatened or needs to be changed?
    Ranching has also provided many benefits. However, this blog is not to discuss those benefits nor the impacts of ranchers.

    I would hope that no intact ecosystem exists to be exploited, but I would like to think that intact ecosystems are here for our benefit; otherwise, what purpose would they serve.

  78. avatar Buffaloed says:

    “The “300″ number is and was considered the MINUMUM number to start to CONSIDER the delisting process, not the maximum or target number.” Very true but there were other requirements in the delisting process which include the approval of all three state’s plans. Wyoming still does not have a management plan that meets the FWS requirements. Until that requirement is met then the other states, Idaho and Montana, weren’t supposed to have delisted populations either. It seems that more than anything Wyoming livestock interests are holding up the delisting process at this point.

    While I don’t think that wolves should remain listed I don’t think that they should be managed differently than other predators which IS what is happening now. They are being managed so that their numbers are lower than mountain lions/cougars are which number approximately 2000 in Idaho. Lions also pose a real threat to humans, unlike wolves, yet they aren’t thought of the same way that wolves are.

    I don’t know the numbers for livestock killed by lions but they are probably similarly low to wolves. Does anyone have those numbers?

    I think it is perfectly justifiable to link to information about Matthew Brown. Nobody here is making physical or any other kinds of threats to him nor should they. I don’t feel the same way about the other side though. The livestock interests have used threats and intimidation as tactics for years. I’ve heard many people say they’d like to do something to Jon Marvel over the years. I’ve even had friends assaulted because of their political activities by civilians and agency people. I’ve been threatened as well.

  79. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I should make the comment that mountain lion attacks are rare and few people should be worried about them. I’m not worried about them while traveling in the wilds and I’m willing to take the chances that I will be attacked.

  80. avatar catbestland says:

    BW,
    Your opinion about urban sprawl being a greater threat to western landscapes is flawed, unless by western landscapes you are referring to “ranching landscapes”. BLM and Forest Service owns anywhere from 50% to 90% of the land in the west. This is land that cannot be developed “to the point of the east or west coast”, but it is land that can be destroyed by overgrazing. Your theory is a myth perpetuated by the cattle industry.

    The west HAS been around for a long time, but comparatively ranching has not. In the 150 or so years that it has been the dominant force in the west at, 137 species have been threatened or extirpated to serve ranching’s interest, facilitated the invasion of every noxious weed present, and has introduced numerous diseases to wildlife who now must be destroyed to protect cattle from their own plagues. Ranching has provided NO benefits to the land or it’s natural inhabitants, including the indigenous human occupants.

    You state, “I would hope that no intact ecosystem ixists to be exploited, but I would like to think that intact ecosystems are here for our benefit; otherwise, what purpose dould they serve.”

    Well you hope in vain because every intact ecosystem that has been touched by ranching HAS suffered, to the point that numerous native fauna and flora no longer esists there. What purpose would they serve? How about their contribution to healthy environment, i.e. clean water, abundant game and wildlife (including wolves) native flora, (not noxious weeds) in general a balance in nature. They have served as the life sustaining force to all for thousands of years, until ranching extended it’s black hand into the mix.

  81. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    I think BW needs to go and read the original Gray Wolf EIS from beginning to end, with particular attention to appendices 9 and 11. I am getting a little tired of the constant misrepresentation of the meaning of the “300 wolves” number.

    Once again, for the thousandth time it seems, the 10 breeding pairs/100 wolves per state/300 wolves for three consecutive years was intended in the EIS to be a trigger for beginning delisting proceedings. It was never considered to be a maximum, or a ceiling on the number of wolves post-delisting.

    There was some discussion in Appendix 9 of the EIS of the question of whether that 300 number constituted a “minimum viable population” of wolves, which is a scientific question, not a management question. Even then in the early 90s, it was recognized by conservation biologists that bigger populations were better than smaller populations, so the question about minimum viable population initially revolved around the problem of genetic diversity–the more founders of a Yellowstone/Idaho wolf population, the better the chance of long term survival with smaller numbers. (That’s one reason reintroduction occurred over a period of two years).

    In a survey of wolf biologists reported in Appendix 9, some thought that number was the absolute biological minimum , others called it marginal and did not agree to a minimum at all.

    No one believed or agreed–NO ONE–that 300 was to be considered a ceiling on wolf numbers in the three recovery areas post-delisting. It was a best guess estimate, based upon existing scientific knowledge in the early 90s of what a biologically viable populaltion might look like.

    It was also agreed without dissent that the existence of a metapopulation–a regional population depending upon connectivity among “discrete” wolf populations–was necessarily critical to long-term survival. Without such connectivity, Ed Bangs wrote on page 6-75 of the EIS that “it is fairly clear that 10 breeding pairs in isolation will not comprise a “viable” population … Thirty or more breeding pairs comprising some 300 + wolves in a metapopulation with genetic interchange between sub-populations should have a high probability of long-term persistance. However, if a range or scale of different population sizes could be displayed representing the entire ‘viabilty’ spectrum (from mininally viable’ to ‘unquestionably viable’), I believe the defintion in the current recovery plan would be on the lower half of the scale.”

    We read further on page 6-75 of the EIS: “My conclusion is that the 1987 wolf recovery plan’s population goal of 10 breeding pairs of wolves in three separate recovery areas for 3 consecutive years [in a metapopulation] is reasonably sound and would maintain a viable wolf population into the foreseeable future. The goal is somewhat conservative however, and should be considered minimal.”

    Minimum. Not maximum. The 300 number is on the lower half of the viability scale, not the upper half.

    Bangs added that he thought that a few more packs would make for a secure minimum, but nowhere in the EIS does he state that the numbers provided by a few additional packs should be considered a ceiling, as is wrongly claimed today.

    In Appendix 11, which outlines the specific delisting criteria, we read on page 6-81–6-82 that” The analysis of what is a viable wolf population [in Appendix 9] indicated that a wolf population could be considered recovered by securing and maintaining a minimum of 10 breeding pairs of wolves in each of three recovery areas … for a minimum of three consecutive years, only if there was a reasonable probability (distribution of wolf pack territories compared to average or estimate wolf dispersal distances) of some interchange of wolves (minimum of one new individual breeding per generation) between the parts of the meta-population …”

    Those are the facts, folks. Three hundred is the absolute minimum, not maximum.

    (By the way, on page 6-82, we also read “wolves in Wyoming could not be delisted while Wyoming law classified wolves as an unprotected predator.” This statement alone disqualifies Wyoming’s existing dual status plan).

    Before BW and others misread what I’ve just quoted, to misread the above to conclude that 300 can be considered a maximum, let us understand clearly that discussion of what a minimum viable population should be was is a scientific question concerning the long-term survival of wolves if numbers were kept through management to limited numbers. It is clear from the above discussion, not to mention the EIS as a whole, that such management would not be wise; management to limited numbers provides no buffer to unexpected mortality. Remember, in conservation biology, the more numbers the more spread out the better. The EIS in no way justifies the claim that we can ensure long-term survival by suppressing wolves to that 300 number.

    In other words, just as the 300 number was intended in the EIS to be a trigger for delisting, not an actual minimum number of wolves for all time, the 300 number would also serve as a trigger for additional protection of wolves post delisting, including relisting, should wolf numbers go below 300.

    BW, I challenge you or anyone else on your side of the question to find anywhere in the literature, particularly the EIS, a “promise” that wolves would be managed for a population of 300 post-delisting or that the 300 number was ever intended to be a maximum of wolves to be allowed in the recovery area. You won’t find it, nor will you find any scientific justification for such limitation anywhere in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

    As an aside, it is clear from both the Wyoming and Idaho plans that the intent is to disrupt the metapopulation of wolves, that is, to use hunting and other means to obstruct wolf dispersal among discrete populations. That in itself disqualifies both plans scientifically.

  82. avatar catbestland says:

    BW,
    Ranching has contributed nothing except the nation’s addiction to an unhealthy, chemically altered substance that leaves a path of destruction wherever it is raised. Drug dealers are serving time for less offensive behavior.

  83. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Doug Heiken of Oregon Natural Resources Council: “It’s time for everyone to recognize that the highest and best use of our public forest is as fish and wildlife refuge, drinking-water filter, air purifier, soil protector, recreation site, scenic vista, pharmaceutical storehouse, source of inspiration, and crucible of evolution.”

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  84. avatar JEFF E says:

    Yes 1500+ is more than 300, however there has never been a maximum # called out, rather the guideline within the law says “recovered over a significant portion of the historical range”
    Currently we are at > 5% of that guideline. that would be somewhat less than significant I would venture.

  85. avatar BW says:

    Mack:
    Several news papers published Matt’s story. I believe every one of those papers allows for opinion pieces and some will even offer guest editorials.

    Wolves did not thrive here they were introduced. Do you also desire restoring Native Americans and returning to your ancestral home land?

    Wildlife numbers are being impacted and so is hunting of ungulates. So hunters are in fact bearing some of the impacts of wolf introductions. The Clearwater/Lolo region has had significant problems since wolves have been introduced. Moose and elk populations have been significantly reduced in areas where wolf packs have become established. In the Jackson region once had 5 moose herd units which collectively issued 100 licenses. Those five hunt areas have been condensed down to 1 hunt area and they issue 5 hunting licenses. A lot of attention has been given to the fact that statewide elk population objectives exceed the states current objective. The rest of the story is not being told. Bull:cow ratios and cow:calf ratios are being drastically altered since the introduction of wolves. The following link is to the Wyoming G&F Department’s news release dates 03/23/2007; http://gf.state.wy.us/services/news/pressreleases/07/03/23/070323_2.asp

    This news release highlights the known impacts of ungulate populations once wolf packs became established. Wolves are having an impact to deny that is to deny that wolves kill to survive. Folks, they don’t eat anything but red meat.

    Your quote regarding Matt Brown “I emailed Associated Press, criticized Matthew Brown, and requested that they respond on Ralph’s blog (I sent a link).” That seems pretty direct to me.

  86. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    A major flaw in the wolf delisting proposal is that the FWS is attempting to take “historical” out of the meaning of “significant portion of the range,” the latter being the actual wording in the ESA. Significantly, over the last 30 years the FWS has interpreted the law to mean “historical,” and it is clear that the reinterpretation outlined in the delisting proposal is based in politics, not science, coming into play only after Kempthorne took over Interior. The reinterpretation is clearly arbitrary and capricious.

  87. avatar catbestland says:

    BW,
    You claim “Wolves did not thrive here they were introduced.” There is absolutely no question but that wolves inhabited most North America including ALL of the Rocky Mountain states until they were extirpated to suite the cattle industry. The were RE-introduced not introduced.

    Actually I am in favor of returning much of Public lands to Native Americans. I don’t think they want what ranchers have trashed but some of the public lands may be redeemable. They would certainly do a better job of managing it than ranchers have.

  88. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    BW

    I would also point out that the problem of reduced cow-calf ratios in Wyoming, allegedly at the paws of wolves, is a red herring. I live in northwestern Wyoming and hunt one of the herds that the Wyoming Game & Fish Department held up as a poster-child of wolf depredation, the Wiggins Fork Herd. The G&F forgot to mention in its press release a five year herd reduction program that ran from 1998-2003 and that targeted cows and calves. Over a five year period, over 1500 additional cow-calf licenses were sold, and a goodly numberj of those were filled.

    This herd reduction program came about from complaints from landowners about too many elk, by the way.

    You’re going to tell me that wolves in this area, which by the way are intensively managed by Wildlife Services, with our two packs consistently disrupted by aerial gunning, are going to have a greater impact on cow calf ratios than 1500 additional cow-calf licenses?

    The press release from G&F to which you link is a fraud, as is the report on which it is based. I know for a fact that the G&F hasn’t done the scientific work necessary to establish a causative relationship between wolf depredation and reduced cow-calf ratios. In science, corrolation is not causation.

    As for moose, they have been in trouble in western Wyoming for far longer than wolves have been here–primarily due to bad habitat, especially widespread decadent willow communities, which are not regenerating.

    RH

  89. BW,

    The upper Clearwater/Lolo area in Idaho was having an elk decline well before wolves were restored to the area. The decline was even predicted well before it happened. It was predicted in the 1970s due to obvious changes in habitat that were taking place and which could be predicted to take place.

    Before any wolves showed up in the upper Clearwater, even though they had been reintroduced, I predicted wolves would get the blame. It was an easy prediction to make.

  90. avatar catbestland says:

    BW
    And who is responsible is responsible for the decline in moose and elk habitat???? Not mentioining any names but the innitials are “THE CATTLE INDUSTRY”

  91. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    BW wrote: “I believe every one of those papers allows for opinion pieces and some will even offer guest editorials.”

    I’ve written my share of op/eds, thank you very much. An opinion piece or op/ed is NOT the same as an article on the wire services, available and ready to publish by any member newspaper anywhere in the world.

    BW, you’re confusing facts with fiction. You wrote: “In the Jackson region once had 5 moose herd units which collectively issued 100 licenses. Those five hunt areas have been condensed down to 1 hunt area and they issue 5 hunting licenses.”

    The facts are, according to a recent moose study by Dr. Joel Berger, that the moose population in Jackson Hole is in a serious decline NOT because of wolfe predation but because they are STARVING because the 7 year old drought is clobbering their forage. Look up the article, I’m no going to bother to look it up for you.

    “Your quote regarding Matt Brown “I emailed Associated Press, criticized Matthew Brown, and requested that they respond on Ralph’s blog (I sent a link).” That seems pretty direct to me.”

    You think THAT’S a direct attack…? Nah.

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  92. avatar JB says:

    BW said: “I believe you miss the point that wolves do have an impact.”

    No, in fact I’m not missing the point; you are entirely misrepresenting what I said. I said, “Brown focuses almost exclusively on a VERY SMALL percentage of people who are negatively impacted.” I never said that wolves did not have an impact–I said Brown focused on the negative impacts instead of the positive because this makes for a compelling story. I stand by this claim.

    BW said: “The biologist you mention already had a job…[and]…Numerous claims have been made that wolves are generating considerable money from visitors coming to specifically see them. In fact, most people are not coming just to see wolves.”

    Several biologists and other positions at state and federal agencies are a direct result of wolf reintroduction. For instance, Montana employs a “statewide Wolf Coordinator.”
    Clearly, the state would not employ this person were there not wolves to manage.

    I don’t have any information that says “most people” come specifically to see wolves–then again, I never made this claim (again, you’re misrepresenting what I said). I can tell you, however, that if you enter Yellowstone on any given day in the winter one of the few places you are guaranteed to see people is the Lamar Valley. And they come almost exclusively to see wolves. Moreover, you can bet that they help businesses that struggle in the winter keep their doors open. In short, wolves have had a positive economic impact in the GYE. You can claim otherwise if you like, but you’re wrong.

  93. avatar JB says:

    Jeff E said:

    “recovered over a significant portion of the historical range”

    What document are you quoting here? I’m working on a paper regarding the Solicitor’s recent re-interpretation of the SPR phrase, and this quote would be very useful! Robert is correct, the ESA does not mention the word “historical” in association with range, and the Solicitor (the Dept. of Interior’s top lawyer) is now claiming that this means FWS/NMFS only need to consider species’ “current” range when deciding what constitutes a significant portion for the purposes of listing and de-listing. BTW, I agree with Robert–this is a total farce.

  94. avatar elkhunter says:

    BW: Your fighting a losing battle it will just go in circles. If you quote a report, they denounce it. Reports and Science are only valid if they are pro-wolf. If they dont, then they are flawed and not accurate, untrue etc.

    Robert Hoskins: I am still surprised by the report the Jeff E posted awhile back on calf recruitment in the northern herd in YNP. Especially the percentage of calves that are living their first year. The percentage of calves that wolves/bears get was pretty high. Do you feel that the Northern Herd can sustain that type of predation long term? Just curious.

    Elkhunter

  95. avatar elkhunter says:

    Catbestland: We talked about this already as far as private/public land. Your argument is valid in some areas not all. Of course higher elevation are owned by the government. But lower winter range areas are mostly private. I should know considering I put in for ALOT of hunts across western states, and especially true in CO and WY there is a TON of private land. If you look at the proclamation for 3rd and 4th season deer and elk hunts in CO you will see that in a large majority of the units it states “private limits access”. And if you know that the 3rd and 4th seasons are during the first part of November and late November. So on the winter range. Which in alot of the deer/elk units in CO states that “private limits access”. Thats why I stick to just a few units that are mostly public. I agree with BW that we have alot more to fear from development and loss of habitat than we do from cows.

    Elkhunter

  96. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    JB

    I want to reiterate that the attempt by the FWS in its recent wolf delisting proposal to reinterpret the SPR phrase to leave out the meaning of “historical” has to be put into a political context, i.e., the recent ascension of Dirk Kempthorne to Interior chief. As soon as he was in office, the reinterpretation came out. That’s about as arbitrary and capricious as you can get.

    Clearly, if you’re familar with the regulatory history of endangered species recovery, the FWS has interpreted the phrase to mean “historical” over the past three decades, for very good biological reasons, and the sudden flip flop/reinterpretation in the delisting proposal is laughable. My 18 year old daughter, who’s a freshman at college, could have done a better job of legal logic-chopping than the poor lawyer chosedn to wrote the proposal.

    It would be most interesting to read your analysis. You might want to get hold of Doug Honnold at Earthjustice in Bozeman MT for his take on the reinterpretation. Doug will most likely be in charge of the lawsuit over wolf delisting. Contact information on the Earthjustice/Bozeman website.

    Mack, thanks for bringing up the Berger moose study. I didn’t want to add more to an already long comment.

    Cat, as much as I dislike cattle, I cannot ascribe the problems with moose habitat in this area wholly to cattle. The primary reason for the existence of decadent willow communities around here is largely due to the lack of snowpack and snowmelt in sufficient volume in spring floods to wipe out old willow communities and regenerate new willow growth in our riparian areas. I can point out this problem in areas where cattle haven’t grazed for years.

    RH

  97. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    BW is fighting a loosing battle because he is wrong. If you will investigate, you will determine that only the documentation that BW provided is flawed. I’ll ask you the same question I asked Layton. Why is it that people from all over the country, all walks of life and in fact the entire world support pro wolf groups with contributions yet little support goes to anti wolf groups except from local ranchers and some hunters? I don’t even see ranchers from other parts of the country posting comments in support of anti wolf activity. Layton’s theory is that many of these people are uninformed or naive. Yet they do not support anti wolfers. Could it be because the rest of the world does not buy the anti wolfers self serving and bloodthirsty propaganda?

  98. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    We did have this debate before and I still stand by the assertion that development poses less of a threat to habitat than cattle. There is a lot of habitat in higher elevations and habitat in lower elevations or “ranchlands” can and should be purchased by environmental organizations and/or private individuals to be used as wildlife refuges. As ranchers finally give it up and realize that ranching is a loose/loose proposition some of it will be purchased by developers but a lot of it wont be.

  99. avatar elkhunter says:

    Catbestland: I am not anti-wolf, we have discussed this before. I am for management, but I am not anti-wolf. I am talking about his statement that we have more to fear from loss of habitat than from cows. I dont see how you can deny that. And of course some people are naive Cat, to say that some are not is foolish. Of course someone in NYV could care less how many wolves are in ID. Does not effect him in anyway. Its a little different close to home. And we discussed why hunters have a hard time supporting pro-wolf organizations. If you dont feel that loss of habitat has had an effect, just google it and I am sure that you will see.
    Elkhunter

  100. avatar elkhunter says:

    Catbestland: Here is something from wikipedia,

    Modern mass extinction
    Main article: Holocene extinction event
    According to a 1998 survey of 400 biologists conducted by New York’s American Museum of Natural History, nearly 70 percent believed that they were currently in the early stages of a human-caused mass extinction,[20] known as the Holocene extinction event. In that survey, the same proportion of respondents agreed with the prediction that up to 20 percent of all living populations could become extinct within 30 years (by 2028). Biologist E. O. Wilson estimated [5] in 2002 that if current rates of human destruction of the biosphere continue, one-half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in 100 years.[21] More significantly the rate of species extinctions at present is estimated at 100 to 1000 times “background” or average extinction rates in the evolutionary time scale of planet Earth;[22] moreover, this current rate of extinction is thus 10 to 100 times greater than any of the prior mass extinction events in the history of the Earth.

  101. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Elkhunter

    Regarding the northern herd, we have to take into consideration not just wolf and bear predation, but human predation, all within the larger context of environmental factors and biological responses of elk to all factors of mortality. It’s an ecological tautology that the population dynamics of multiple predator prey systems go up and down over time.

    As we know, the northern herd, when it reached 19K plus, was at an all time high and was exceeding the carrying capacity of its habitat–isn’t that what all the Montana ranchers were asserting? Consequently, the herd had nowhere else to go but down. I’ve never denied that wolf and bear predation would play a part in that, or do play a part in that decline, but certainly, the late season hunts also had an impact–by design of FWP.

    In any case, I have seen no data on the northern herd that would lead me to conclude that high mortality in the herd as a consequence of wolf/bear predation over the last fews years has been anything other than compensatory. If you can provide a study that demonsrtates otherwise, I’d like to see it. It won’t come from Robert Fanning, however, I can tell you that.

    In short, I think the population was out of whack and that current levels of mortality are important to protecting the long term health of the Northern herd.

    So yes, I do believe that the northern herd can sustain a certain level of wolf AND bear predation, although not extensive hunting in the late season directed at cows and calves. As with the situation I have discussed elsewhere with the elk herd I hunt, Wyoming’s Wiggins Fork Herd, the late season hunts are far more effective in killing elk than wolves or bears.

    RH

  102. avatar elkhunter says:

    Catbestland: Read your comment, your saying “IF” other organizations or private individuals buy out those properties. Now if a rancher is selling his ranch and some developer offers him more for his land, chances are he will take it. Now I dont know if I would place all my eggs on a “IF”.
    Elkhunter

  103. avatar elkhunter says:

    Robert Hoskins: I was just wondering if you read my question? I read the report that Jeff E posted a few months back about calf recruitment and survival, it was pretty surprising to me. Calf recruitment in the low teens and a large percentage of calves being killed before they reach 1 year old. The main predators were bears/wolves. Can the Northern Herd sustain that type of predation and still maintain healthy cow/calve/bull ratios? Just curious.
    Elkhunter

  104. avatar catbestland says:

    Robert,
    I should have qualified my statement about moose habitat with the cattle industry being responsible “in part”. Isn’t is reasonable to conclude that if native soils had not been degraded by 100 years of cattle trampling thereby compacting the soils and rendering them less capable of moisture intergration, resulting in lowering the water table and the proliferation of drought resistant plants like sagebrush, that these riparian areas where willow was once prolific, would have been more resistant to the natural drought cycles? Just my observation.

  105. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Elkhunter

    Didn’t I just answer that question? Do I have to answer it again?

    RH

  106. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    As I said, some lands will be purchased by developers and some won’t.

  107. avatar elkhunter says:

    Catbestland: That seems more like a hatred for the cattle industry than using some common sense.
    Elkhunter

  108. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Cat

    As I said, I can point out the problem with moose habitat mentioned above in areas where cattle haven’t grazed for years. It is true that we also have this problem in areas where cattle do graze, and the situation you describe is reasonable.

    All I can say is that here where I live, in the Upper Wind River Valley of Wyoming, I am not seeing the regeneration of willows that would be a natural result of high volume spring floods, which we are not getting. Lower water tables also result from limited flooding. It seems to me that that is the primary problem.

    It’s an ecologically complex problem.

    RH

  109. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    I do hate the cattle industry for destroying the earth. When the earth is destroyed, we (cattle industry included) will be destroyed.

  110. avatar elkhunter says:

    RH: Sorry I did not see your answer when I posted my other question. I agree with what your saying at some points, especially with hunting cows/calves on wintering range. But still with cow/calve ratios as low as 15-20 calves per 100 cows seems very low. If we had one or two bad winters you could cripple that herd quite easily. I know that bears really pound the calves pretty hard. It seems most of the studies I could find stated that ideally you would need 25-30 calves per 100 cows to have a herd that could sustain any sort of hunting outside of natural predation. Do you feel that at some point wolf/bear predation combined with a bad winter could severly cripple the northern herd?
    Elkhunter

  111. avatar elkhunter says:

    Catbestland: Thats fine if you hate the cattle industry, but you cant keep using them as a fix all band-aid. There are ALOT of other factors coming into play beyond cows that are effecting our environment. You remind me of this person that use to comment here, KTC or something, had the same outlook as you, everything on earth was the cattle’s fault. I am not saying that they are doing good or bad, but please have an open mind about other possiblities.
    Elkhunter

  112. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    elk/coyote “hunter” wrote:

    “Of course someone in NYV could care less how many wolves are in ID. Does not effect him in anyway.”

    You’re WRONG, little buddy.

    That guy/gal in NY or anywhere else IN THIS COUNTRY has a vested interest in ALL of AMERICA’S public lands, whether or not they EVER set foot on a single acre. All Americans have the RIGHT that their public lands are managed in THEIR best interests, supposedly balanced by multiple use, but with this stinking administration, there is no balance.

    BW, what is your real name? Care to be honest and identify yourself?

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  113. avatar BW says:

    Elkhunter:
    You are correct in that it just goes round and round and round.

    It is very apparent that we should put more stock in What Robert observed then what Wyoming G&F biologist have documented.

    It is easy to see why nothing matters. Anyone can shop their data to highlight their issue/concern.

    This blog has gotten waaayy off topic but I guess Ralph is okay with it as he has posted as well.

    Several have stated that ungulate populations were already headed downward prior to wolf introduction (yes, they were introduced from Canada, they were not native wolves. Although, from every account native wolves were present prior to introduction), how did this introduction help these ungulate populations? How can you sit back and admit that numbers are decreasing but fail to recognize that wolves are increasing the rate of that decline? How can you also sit back and deny that these losses are not impacting hunting. The number of licenses are decreasing, hunting opportunities are decreasing, ungulate populations are aging and recuitment is down, wolf numbers continue to climb (even with Wildlife Services lethal removal), etc. etc.

    Tell me again how much money wolves are bringing to these impacted states?

    The drain far surpasses any benefit derived from this introduction. If range landscapes are in such rough shape, how does adding a predator help make it better. Range lands will take much longer to recover then it will take wolves to eliminate hunting.

  114. avatar BW says:

    Mack:
    Ralph knows who I am, but since you asked my name is Bob Wharff.

    Shoot away. I am comfortable with who I am.

  115. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack: He might have a vested interest, but its far from an active interest. So what if I feel that the land is not being managed for MY best interests? I can take that same road just as easily as you. What makes his best interest, more important than my best interest? Do I not have a say? Mack your observations are always so one-sided. And my name is Josh Sutherland. AKA elk/coyote “hunter”

    Mack I guess by your quotations around hunter you feel that I fit into your generic hunter stereotype. Am I correct? Would this be considered one of your well deserving shots above the belt? Just curious.

    Elkhunter

  116. avatar JB says:

    Good god, you people are posting faster than I can read!

    Robert, thanks for the contacts and offer to review! I may ask Ralph to post a draft here…or may just forward to you and a few others. I have an environmental attorney involved as a co-author; I’m meeting with her in a couple of weeks, so I should have a better idea of a schedule by then.

    I am aware that FWS has always interpreted the SPR phrase as referring to the historic range. In fact, there was a GAO report issued in the late 1970s in which this point is made abundantly clear. The report includes a letter from the Director of FWS presenting the GAO with draft guidelines for determining what constitutes a SPR under the ESA. Under these guidelines, a significant portion of a species range was defined as either: “(1) more than half of a species range, which may include historical as well as recent and anticipated future losses or (2) losses of habitat totaling less than 50 percent for species of relatively small range, or in other circumstances where the loss may have an inordinately large negative impact on species’ survival.” (p. 59).

    The Solicitor’s interpretation seems yet another attempt by the administration to slow down the listing process by holding things up in the courts.

    What’s important to me about Jeff E’s quote is that it explicitly includes the word historic. In many cases this word can be read into the text, but is not explicit. If you know of any cases, Final Rules, etc. where this is explicit please let me know!

    Cheers,
    JB

  117. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Ah, now it comes out. BW is Bob Wharff of Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife of Wyoming, correct?

    BW says: “Anyone can shop their data to highlight their issue/concern.”

    That’s exactly what you and your organization does.

    “…how did this introduction help these ungulate populations? How can you sit back and admit that numbers are decreasing but fail to recognize that wolves are increasing the rate of that decline?”

    Who’s admitting that numbers are decreasing? Montana’s elk population is at a RECORD HIGH – 130K to 160K. Wyoming’s elk population is ABOVE objectives. The northern Yellowstone herd is down for more reasons than just wolf predation – over-hunting, drought.

    “How can you also sit back and deny that these losses are not impacting hunting. The number of licenses are decreasing, hunting opportunities are decreasing, ungulate populations are aging and recuitment is down, wolf numbers continue to climb (even with Wildlife Services lethal removal), etc. etc.

    Yeah, sound the alarm, blame it on wolves. The impact is on the lazy hunter who now has to WORK to kill an elk because they’re harder to find because the wolves have ’em in the forests. Ungulate populations are aging? Recall the Yellowstone study that determined that the average age of a cow was some 14 years – very old for an elk – wolves are starting to take the old ones out. Like, uh, it’s the predator/prey relationship that’s been happening for thousands of years.

    “Tell me again how much money wolves are bringing to these impacted states?”

    Millions in tourist dollars.

    “The drain far surpasses any benefit derived from this introduction.”

    Bullshit. That’s just your opinion.

    “If range landscapes are in such rough shape, how does adding a predator help make it better. Range lands will take much longer to recover then it will take wolves to eliminate hunting.”

    Eliminate private livestock grazing on public lands and watch your elk populations pop.

    Bob Wharff, Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife of Wyoming is being screwed by livestock producers. They’ve got you and your group brainwashed.

    Oh, by the way, Bob: in the mountainous west, dogs kill more livestock than wolves.

    elk/coyote “hunter,” you’re wrong again. There’s lots of folks that don’t live in the mountainous states that DO HAVE active interests. Nothing makes his/her interest any more important than yours and vice versa. Of course you have a say and that say is through your state and federal reps.

    Actually, I don’t have a “generic hunter stereotype.” But I still think you should eat all the coyotes you kill.

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  118. avatar JB says:

    Elkhunter, BW:

    I don’t think anyone here disagrees that wolves affect elk numbers. What we don’t know is to what extent they are affected by wolves. Unfortunately, the types of studies that have been conducted (and this includes the Wyoming study) cannot conclude causation. However, I would also point out that similar methodologies were used in the studies that indicate wolves have a positive impact on ecosystems. The problem is that studies need to be looked at on a case by case basis, leaving room for both sides to “cherry pick” the studies with conclusions that are consistent with their beliefs.

    I cannot attest to the validity of the report that’s cited, but if Robert’s criticisms are correct, this would seemingly invalidate at least one of the areas that WFG has used as an example.

    In my opinion we should should let the populations (wolves and elk) cycle together for longer before instituting wide-spread hunting. Here’s why: I *believe* wolves are reaching their maximum in many areas in the GYE; this is why we are seeing an increase in wolves killing wolves. Accordingly, I believe that we will eventually see a “natural” drop in the wolf population (in some areas). Instituting wide spread hunting now would not allow us to observe this phenomenon, and if elk populations rose after wolf killings, it would be held up as “proof” that killing wolves = more elk.

    Just to clarify–I’m not suggesting that limited hunting is unwise, but the State plans (as written) would allow mass killings. I would like to wait for a bit longer and let this grand experiment play itself out.

  119. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack Bray “like a donkey”: If I ate a coyote I would probably get a parasite.

    You keep mentioning over hunting. What about the predation rates in the recent report from YNP. Predation rates were very high. High enough that I personally dont feel that the elk herd can sustain that. 12-15 calves per 100 cows. Mack you know that is very low. You keep mention overhuntin, do you have any statistics about how hunting dropped the numbers from 19,000 to 6,000. Thats a pretty high harvest rate. Mack obviously you know alot about harvest rates and things like that, what was the annual harvest rate for the Late Gardiner Elk hunt for the last 10 years? Do you have any idea? Do you know anything about what your talking about?
    Elkhunter

  120. avatar JB says:

    Correction:

    I should have qualified the first statement: I don’t think anyone here disagrees that wolves CAN SIGNIFICANTLY affect elk numbers IN SOME AREAS. Of course, if a wolf kills an elk then they have affected elk numbers. But if they killed an elk that would’ve otherwise died, then the mortality was compensatory. Moreover, even if they killed more elk than would’ve died naturally, this may not necessarily significantly impact the population–and, of course, what the significance of the impact would depend on how you defined the elk “population.”

    Science always need to be qualified. That ‘s the problem with newscasts, op-eds, and blogs: it’s way too easy for people to make unqualified claims and not be held accountable.

  121. avatar JB says:

    Forget it. I’ll just shut up and let you guys argue.

  122. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    JB, your assessment is very reasoned and rational. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

    elk/coyote “hunter,” it’s Mack as in truck and Bray as in jackass…! Get it straight…!

    Josh Sutherland, AKA elk/coyote “hunter,” my money sez you’re a member of Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife of Utah, correct?

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  123. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack Bray “Like a donkey”:
    I am, and I participate in their service projects also, that not only benefit elk/deer but alot of other animals as well. I am sure BW could send you a list of the ones they put on.
    But when can I get those harvest reports for the Late Hunt in Gardiner from you? And also if that data supports your over-hunting claim. Thanks
    Elk/Coyote Hunter!

  124. avatar catbestland says:

    WOW, I leave to do a little work and look what happens.
    Great Stuff.

    BW,
    A study by John Duffield in 2005 put the annual ecomomic impact of the wolf on local communities of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at 35 million actual impact and 70 million in monies after turnover. Thst’s quite an economic boost in anybodies book.

  125. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    elk/coyote “hunter,” from my notes, any further research you’re interested in you can do it yourself, you’re a member of Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife of Utah, you should have access to mountains of conflicting lies, er, ah, “data”:

    Hunters, who target elk that leave the park, have blamed the wolves. But researchers, including biologist John Vucetich of the Michigan Technical University in Houghton, say the problem isn’t that simple.

    In an analysis in the current edition of the ecology journal Oikos, for example, Vucetich and park service colleagues examined weather, hunting and wolves as factors in the elk decline. Yellowstone has had seven years of drought and a severe winter in 1997 that killed many elk.

    They found that weather and hunting are mostly to blame.

    Biologist Mark Boyce of Canada’s University of Alberta and colleagues reach similar conclusions in an upcoming paper in the journal EcologicalModeling. Montana increased the “hunter harvest” quota on elk that leave Yellowstone grounds, issuing a higher-than-ever 2,882 hunting permits in 2000. A decline in the elk herd was thus guaranteed, Boyce says, even if wolves were not present.

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  126. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    I am aware that our environment is being negatively effected by other causes. However none more destructive than the cattle industry. In many states the livestock industry is responsible for consumption of half or more of the states supply of water. In Nevada as much as 90%. George Weurthner’s essay on the subject points out that it takes 3,430 gallons of water to produce 1 steak. Do you know how many vegatables could be produced with that much water? How many more people could be fed by other means. And this is something that can be fixed. What you are asking is to compromise, find a middle ground. I’m afraid the western ecosystems are too delicate and are too far gone. Would you be satisfied to have only SOME of the termites removed from your house? Would you be happy with only half of the antibiotics necessary to cure a disease? Is it OK for some of our water to be contaminated by bovine feces? Will you drink that part? NO. Of course not. Unfortunately, there is no gentler way of stating the obvious. The cattle industry is killing the planet.

  127. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack “Donkey” Bray: I am fully aware of what SPW does, I just wanted you to actually pull up all the projects they head for habitat, I could always google the projects that Mack Bray has done.

    What was the success rate for the hunt in 2000? You should find out. It was about 40%. They killed around 1200 elk. 900 being cows. Since tags have been DRASTICALLY reduced we are still seeing LARGE decreases in herd numbers. In the January 2005 count the population was 9545, the count in January 2006, 6588. Guess how many tags issued in 2005. 100. 100 tags Mack. Yet we see a 3,000 decrease. If hunters are not killing all those elk, and winters have been mild, whats killing the elk? Call Tim Lemke and ask him why the herd is so geriatric. Of course he is a FG biologist so he knows jack shit right! Maybe its because wolves/bears are killing all the calves, and that we are seeing 14-16 calf recruitment rates. Please Mack stop being so one-sided and that just maybe all these wolves/bears that populate at will might be affecting the northern herd. I can send you all my sources if you would like. Its pretty easy stuff to find, all you gotta do is look at harvest reports from the FG and then check YNP counts of the elk, its not rocket science.
    Elkhunter

  128. avatar elkhunter says:

    Cat: I personally feel that the ever increasing human population is killing the planet. Not cows. Cows might have an effect, but they are not the sole villian. Once again you are looking for a band-aid to solve everything. Look at how many acres are lost each year in the US to humans. Millions and Millions of acres. And you mean to tell me that cows are doing more than that? LOL be real Cat.
    Elkhunter

  129. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    Absolutely cows are doing more than that. In the South American rain forests, 1200 acres a day are being clear cut and burned for no other reason that pasture. In Africa, migratory pathways are fenced off for numerous species, threatening their existance as well as many other species who depend on them. In our west, it can take up to 100 acres to support 1 cow. The amount of space dedicated to cattle ranching is far more than all the area used for human housing combined. Cattle are sucking up our water at a far greater rate than any other user, and contaminating the rest by loitering around and trampling and defecating in our streams. Humans are required to camp 200 yards away from national forest lakes yet cows are allowed to defecate in them for months on end. And worst of all the cattle industry is directly responsible for threatening the existance of or causing the eradication of 137 different species of wildlife. As our wildlife goes, we will follow. Man at least has the ability to contribute positively to his environment. He does not have to be the cause of its demise. This cannot be said for the cattle industry.

  130. avatar catbestland says:

    Thanks Mack,

    Elkhunter, I can’t find the link to it now but why don’t you read George Weurthner’s article “Global Warming, Welfare Ranching and the Bovine Curtain” It is an excellent indictment of the cattle industry for starters.

  131. Elkhunter,

    Drought reduces the protein in the grass, so even if the winter is mild, elk can starve to death.

    If elk that are not killed by predators this winter make it through in good condition, it is evidence that predators are responsible in good measure for the declining elk population.

    However, if some or many elk starve even at their reduced numbers, it is good evidence that habitat deterioration is the predominant factor.

    So let’s see.

  132. avatar Elkhunter says:

    Ralph: I understand that, its just ironic that there probably has not been more than 300 tags issued in the last 3 years yet we still see decreases in the thousands. So we will just have to wait and see, I personally feel that grizz/wolves have a large part in that. Time will tell though I guess.

    Mack “Donkey” Bray: Did you happen to look at the numbers yet? Just curious, I am excited to hear your interpretation, how with just 100 tags issued hunters were somehow the number 1 reason that the elk herds declined almost 3000 animals in the Northern Herd.

    Cat: So are you trying to say then that cattle industry across the world should be stopped? You say in the arid west it should, then you quote S. America, Africa, just where can cattle be raised to support the ever increasing demands of the human population. You are blinding yourself if you honestly feel that cattle is the worlds biggest threat, loss of habitat has accounted for alot more than 137 species. I think you are giving the cattle industry WAY to much credit and people would take you alot more serious if you were not so extreme, kinda like how nobody takes PETA serious. Thats how I would compare it.
    Elkhunter

  133. avatar JB says:

    Sorry Cat, I’ve got to agree with EH here. Fewer people = more resources per person. In fact, since cows are raised for our food, you could see we and not the cows are solely to blame for the crisis.

    However, I do agree that ranching should be removed from public lands–though I think this should be a gradual process.

    In the middle, per usual.

    JB

  134. avatar catbestland says:

    I am saying that public lands destruction by overgrazing MUST stop in the arid west. My statements about other areas of the world are simply a few facts to let you know how serious the situation is. If you care to do the comparisons, you will see that industrially speaking, the cattle industry has the most negative impact on the environment across the board. This is nothing new. Millions of people are aware of this fact. I did not compile the data. People do not need to take me seriously. They need to take the well documented threat to our environment seriously. And guess what, a whole lot of people take PETA seriously. I think you fail to realize that there is a whole world out there that does not think in the same shoot em, bag em, tag em and stuff em terms that you do. Have you ever read ANY of the liturature warning of impending environmental dissaster? If you had, you would know the threat the cattle industry poses. This is not news to most people. This is why NO one can take you seriously, because you are simply uneducated to the facts.

  135. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    You know, the thing with elk/coyote “hunter,” Josh Sutherland, which is his real name, is that you can answer his question and what does he do? He asks it again…!

    Actually, he frequently uses this technique of phrasing his questions to hopefully get an incriminating answer:

    “Mack “Donkey” Bray: Did you happen to look at the numbers yet? Just curious, I am excited to hear your interpretation, how with just 100 tags issued hunters were somehow the number 1 reason that the elk herds declined almost 3000 animals in the Northern Herd.”

    Who ever said that hunters were the number one reason of decline of the northern Yellowstone elk herd? Wasn’t me…!

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  136. avatar catbestland says:

    JB,
    That is why I say, “SYOP EATING BEEF”. Then we can say “We are not responsible” but the cattle industry is.

  137. avatar catbestland says:

    By the way, we all need to follow thru on that “Action Opportunity” on the “Wild Again” blog. The EPA is calling for comments in support of the banning of those two poisons, cyanide something and 1080, used by the USDA Gestapo, Wildlife Services.

  138. avatar JEFF E says:

    Can’t remember who asked but here you go.

    http://www.nwf.
    org/nwfwebadmin/binaryVault/GrayWolfOpinion.pdf
    http://www.nwf.org/news/story.cfm?pageId=CF6AB0CE-C448-7D7B-BCFE5BF6F6A8F55D
    National Wildlife Federation successfully argued that the administration improperly declared victory for gray wolf recovery based solely on the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes wolf populations, violating its Endangered Species Act obligation to recover endangered species across a “significant portion” of their historic range. National Wildlife Federation also successfully argued that the administration violated its own Endangered Species Act policy on protecting “distinct population segments” and violated its legal obligation to obtain public comment on removing Endangered Species Act protection from the Northeast portion of the wolf’s historic range.

  139. avatar JB says:

    Cat,

    You’re preaching to the choir. I don’t eat beef, though I do occasionally enjoy a bison burger. 😉

    Jeff,

    Thanks.

  140. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack Bray: I am going to try to be civil with you, NO I did not ask the same question twice. In your post you stated that over-hunting was one of the 2 main causes for the elk decline. And you also stated drought. Those are the 2 MAIN reasons you stated for the decline in the herd. Now that area has had mild winters. I looked at the harvest reports for the Late Hunt in Gardiner. Even at the high point they did not take more than 1100 elk out of that entire herd in one year. That was the year 2000 like you mention. They issued 2882 tags. 1120 elk were killed. 915 being cows. Since then tags have been DRASTICALLY reduced. I showed you the numbers from 05-06. During that time a whoppin 100 tags were issued. Yet almost a 3000 decrease in elk the following year. Does not add up Mack. Maybe you should have Jeff E. forward that report to you from YNP talking about calf recruitment. 12-15 calves per 100 cows wont cut it. Grizz/wolves getting well over %50 of all calves that hit the ground. That might explain why they have a struggling and geriatric herd. OBVIOUSLY the hunting in the past had an effect, but with it does not take a rocket scientist to tell that just maybe, just maybe, all those wolves/grizz might be a major factor.

    Elkhunter

  141. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    elk/coyote “hunter,” as usual, you have your facts screwed up and you are dishonestly misquoting me. And I resent it. And you DID ask the same question twice, just in a different form.

    1) I never said, as you claim, that “…over-hunting was one of the 2 main causes for the elk decline…”

    2) You stated “Those are the 2 MAIN reasons you stated for the decline in the herd. ” Again, not true.

    3) And I NEVER said grizzlies and wolves weren’t having an impact on the northern Yellowstone elk herd. Of course they are. They’re PREDATORS.

    What I DID say was, from my notes:

    Hunters, who target elk that leave the park, have blamed the wolves. But researchers, including biologist John Vucetich of the Michigan Technical University in Houghton, say the problem isn’t that simple.

    In an analysis in the current edition of the ecology journal Oikos, for example, Vucetich and park service colleagues examined weather, hunting and wolves as factors in the elk decline. Yellowstone has had seven years of drought and a severe winter in 1997 that killed many elk.

    They found that weather and hunting are mostly to blame.

    Biologist Mark Boyce of Canada’s University of Alberta and colleagues reach similar conclusions in an upcoming paper in the journal EcologicalModeling. Montana increased the “hunter harvest” quota on elk that leave Yellowstone grounds, issuing a higher-than-ever 2,882 hunting permits in 2000. A decline in the elk herd was thus guaranteed, Boyce says, even if wolves were not present.

    Ralph wrote: “Elkhunter,

    Drought reduces the protein in the grass, so even if the winter is mild, elk can starve to death.

    If elk that are not killed by predators this winter make it through in good condition, it is evidence that predators are responsible in good measure for the declining elk population.

    However, if some or many elk starve even at their reduced numbers, it is good evidence that habitat deterioration is the predominant factor.

    So let’s see.”

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  142. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack I will write slower for you, you state in your comment above “They found that weather and hunting are mostly to blame.” Now I know you are quoting someone else. So you could say thats their opinion, now if you quoted it you must agree with it.

    Now from your other post, where you were arguing about the Northern Herd and the decline it was experiencing YOU SAID:

    “Not true, except for the northern herd of Yellowstone, which has suffered from drought and over-hunting”

    Now, clarify me if I am wrong, you stated 2 reasons why you felt the herd was declining. Were those the top 2 reasons? Or the 5 and 6th reason for the decline. Were predators above or below those reasons? Cause to anyone reading this blog it would seem that those are the 2 reasons YOU feel that the herd is in the shape it is. It seems to me that if you mention them first you must feel that they are at, or very near the top of the list. Would that be correct?

    Then you qoute Ralph on the drought topic and you say

    “However, if some or many elk starve even at their reduced numbers, it is good evidence that habitat deterioration is the predominant factor.”

    Do you have any links or sources to thise starvation? In between 2005-2006 they recorded almost a 3000 elk decrease in the Northern Herd with only 100 tags issued. So if you had that many elk starving I am sure someone would notice. Do you have any factual evidence to support your claim?

    As for the 2 different questions, I just wanted you to do a little research on the Late Hunt in Gardiner before you started with all your claims about over-hunting. Thats all. I am sure you will have some very good responses to my points.

    Elkhunter

  143. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    elk/coyote “hunter,” your case is hopeless. Trying to communicate with you is impossible. You’re like an idiot puppy chasing it’s tail.

    Ralph was talking about starvation THIS WINTER. You can read, can’t you?

    elk/coyote “hunter,” as usual, you have your facts screwed up and you are dishonestly misquoting me. And I resent it. And you DID ask the same question twice, just in a different form.

    1) I never said, as you claim, that “…over-hunting was one of the 2 main causes for the elk decline…”

    2) You stated “Those are the 2 MAIN reasons you stated for the decline in the herd. ” Again, not true.

    3) And I NEVER said grizzlies and wolves weren’t having an impact on the northern Yellowstone elk herd. Of course they are. They’re PREDATORS.

    What I DID say was, from my notes:

    Hunters, who target elk that leave the park, have blamed the wolves. But researchers, including biologist John Vucetich of the Michigan Technical University in Houghton, say the problem isn’t that simple.

    In an analysis in the current edition of the ecology journal Oikos, for example, Vucetich and park service colleagues examined weather, hunting and wolves as factors in the elk decline. Yellowstone has had seven years of drought and a severe winter in 1997 that killed many elk.

    They found that weather and hunting are mostly to blame.

    Biologist Mark Boyce of Canada’s University of Alberta and colleagues reach similar conclusions in an upcoming paper in the journal EcologicalModeling. Montana increased the “hunter harvest” quota on elk that leave Yellowstone grounds, issuing a higher-than-ever 2,882 hunting permits in 2000. A decline in the elk herd was thus guaranteed, Boyce says, even if wolves were not present.

    Ralph wrote: “Elkhunter,

    Drought reduces the protein in the grass, so even if the winter is mild, elk can starve to death.

    If elk that are not killed by predators this winter make it through in good condition, it is evidence that predators are responsible in good measure for the declining elk population.

    However, if some or many elk starve even at their reduced numbers, it is good evidence that habitat deterioration is the predominant factor.

    So let’s see.”

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  144. avatar catbestland says:

    Elkhunter,
    I have a question. If you are so worried about the low elk populations for whatever reason. Why don’t you quit killing them?

  145. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    elk/coyote “hunter,” to clarify, I didn’t “SAY” what I quoted above – it was a QUOTATION. Make the distinction.

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  146. Why does everyone focus on the Yellowstone northern range herd? I know it’s an important herd and its numbers have declined.

    Wolves were reintroduced with the hope that herd would decline in size, but forget about it for while . . . .
    what about all the other herds?

    In Idaho this year you can buy extra elk tags after you have filled your first; deer tags too. Hunting in general in Idaho and Montana is terrific.

    About Montana, read this: Montana hunting season ends with a bang.. I just put this up as a new post as well as a comment here.

  147. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Ralph

    I think the Northern Herd keeps coming up because of the stupendously outrageous claims made about it by Robert Fanning. However, I have tried in my comments to provide detailed information about the elk herd I hunt, the Wiggins Fork Herd, since G&F has repeatedly and falsely used that herd as a poster child example of the “devastation” wolves have “wreaked” upon Wyoming’s elk. I could do the same for other herds in northwestern Wyoming but that would make for a book.

    Robert

  148. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    A book? A book… A BOOK…!

    Robert, are you published, in book form?

    What about compiling and publishing a historical outlook and perspective on the future of wildlife and wildlife issues in Wyoming?

    Mack P. Bray

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  149. avatar Layton says:

    Ralph,

    “In Idaho this year you can buy extra elk tags after you have filled your first; deer tags too. Hunting in general in Idaho and Montana is terrific.”

    Where are these extra elk tags “after you have filled your first”? They aren’t listed in my copy of the regs.

    Are you talking about the fact that a resident can buy a non-resident tag — at a non-resident price — if they want to harvest another critter?? Bear in mind that those tags are part of the non-resident tag quota –which WAS usually pretty well exhausted before the word got out that populations were falling because of wolves.

    By the way, I am talking about elk tags here — I think there are some extra whitetail doe tags available where there is a depredation situation.

    Layton

  150. Whatever. Things are pretty good for deer and elk herds that have been “destroyed” by wolves.

    Regarding extra non-resident tags not purchased, if outfitters and others talk about how wolves have ruined the hunting, fewer people will buy or apply for a tag. Outfitters who poor mouth their hunt area in fact hurt themselves and other outfitters, but given the way some try to monopolize the hunt and drive out local private hunters, this isn’t all that bad from what I’ve heard.

  151. avatar elkhunter says:

    Mack: Did you read my post at all? Or did you just copy and paste your original response? Just curious. Cause you posted the same answer twice. If you read my quotations from your comments you did state that over-hunting was a cause for the northern herd decline. So do you feel it was a major reason, or an insignificant reason?

    ANSWER my question as to why you stated hunting/drought as reasons for decline if you did not feel they were major reasons for the decline. If they were not major reasons then why did you mention them? You want to state the non-major reasons and talk about the insignificant ones? LOL be real Mack.

    But if you would answer the questions I would appreciate it. First answer I want, if over-hunting was not a major influence then why did you mention it?

    And try to keep the personal attacks to yourself I told Ralph I would not call you names to keep his blog professional.

  152. avatar elkhunter says:

    Cat: Elk herds where I hunt are very healthy. I have never hunted the Late Hunt in Gardiner.

  153. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    There’s a wonderful scene in the movie “Shakespeare in Love” where the playwright Christopher Marlowe walks into the great actor Richard Burbage’s bedroom with a manuscript of his latest play. Marlowe finds Burbage in a highly compromising posture with his seamstress. Nevertheless, the two men have a conversation that goes something like this:

    Burbage: Well, let me have the pages.

    Marlowe: You can have the pages when you give me 20 pounds.

    That’s about where I am with writing books. However, it takes more than 20 pounds these days.

  154. avatar SAP says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Gardiner “firing line” hunt was expressly intended to reduce the elk population, right?

    It wasn’t set up as a social program to give people easy access to elk. It was supposed to reduce herd size, targeting elk that stayed inside YNP throughout the regular season.

    It worked (along with all the other factors known to have reduced that herd).

    And before we mourn the Gardiner late hunt, I have never talked to anyone who regarded that as a quality hunt. The standing joke about it was that you didn’t really need to bring a rifle, just your elk tag and some running shoes. It was an ugly thing when those elk crossed the line and shooters cut loose — crippled animals, fights over who shot what, general mayhem.

  155. avatar kh says:

    I shouldn’t jump into the middle of this but I can’t take it any more. The comments blaming ranching for the destruction of the environment and everything else are so far from the truth, they really reveal ignorance on the subject. Ranchers who are poor stewards of the land quickly find themselves bankrupt. We manage these lands for long term sustainabilty, and have done so for some time now. Take a drive through Yellowstone if you want to see abused rangeland. Better yet, take a range science course and then a drive through Yellowstone.

  156. While someone might intend to be a good steward, assuming they know how to be, they still often fail to be because they have loan to pay off.

    As a result, they push the land, hoping for a better day when they can do better.

    I could say more about different categories of ranchers, such as traditional, hobby, part-time, corporate, large deeded land base versus small base with big public allotment, and more. Their capability and motivation varies a great deal according to the kind of rancher they are.

    Maybe someone else wants to chime in.

  157. avatar Jonathan says:

    Apparently catbestland does not realize that the earth is 75% water and that it is in a continous cycle so it really doesn’t matter how much the cows drink. we won’t run out.

  158. avatar kh says:

    I don’t mean to imply that overgrazing doesn’t happen, it does. Drought, finances and other misfortunes happen, and the range can recover from an occasional abuse. I doubt that the herds of thousands of bison left a blade of grass in their wake. Chronic abuse is damaging, but even that can be reversed easier than subdivision can.

  159. avatar be says:

    i’ve walked up and down a fair amount of public land allotments ~ more than ‘joe-six-pack’ ~ and i am in all honesty disgusted with what i have seen.

    before involvement, the thought of this widespread damage just never crossed my mind.

    kh, perhaps you or people that you know are good stewards of the land. in that case i would suggest that you compel those that are interested in this ‘sustainable’ practice to be more vociferous in their condemnation of abusive public lands ranchers than even environmentalists are. i suggest that if a majority of livestock producers are indeed ‘good stewards’ and that it is simply outliers that abuse the land that the ‘good stewards’ have a unique interest in marginalizing the outliers. instead, the relative silence has enabled the persistence of political regimes that use their political capital to gut regulation aimed at ensuring the sustainability that ‘good stewards’ would have no reason to fear if their claims are honest. ‘good stewards’ relative silence has enable a political regime that financially rewards the outliers on public land.

    the more a person understands the dynamic interplay between the creeks and streams, soils, vegetation, wildlife, etc. the more the activity of public lands ranching on all of our pubic lands becomes inherently inappropriate. it’s denudes the vibrance and function of systems in many ways.

    we could settle on a conspicuous standard for evaluating an ecosystem’s health ~ but that just brings the water to a slower boil (to use the boiling frog analogy).

    the abuse of our public lands is widespread – it’s the norm, and ultimately has little to do with the personalities managing the land (of course there are particularly abusive individuals). it is an inherently destructive activity given a thoughtful understanding of semi-arid and arid ecological systems/conditions and the economic conditions livestock producers find themselves in.

    there is no practical economic model that will pull itself up by its own bootstraps and maintain the conspicuous and inconspicuous ecological systems that have far more value (no matter how you define it – economic or otherwise) into the future. we’re talking water storage in watersheds, wildlife, recreation, fisheries, etc… …. ….

    the sentiment regarding subdivisions is an interesting point. unfortunately, for too long it has been used by livestock interests to hold hostage the restoration of the West. We’re talking about private lands – lands that conservationists and the public has very little influence over either way. folk are going to sell if that’s what they want to do. but what is taken hostage with these private lands and promises of “open space” are the often vastly larger public lands adjacent to them. these private lands often serve as “base camps” ~ these public lands are able to be influenced by conservationists as they are all of our public lands. so to the “Open space” proponents I would ask whether it is entirely honest to suggest that acre for acre grazed to the dirt “open space” is better than subdivisions because often it is not acre for acre – it is small private base camp that producer will be able to sell anyway at anytime, for vast public land allotment.

  160. avatar be says:

    furthermore,

    the sustainability standard that you mention (kh) all depends on how you look at it. As you mention, a livestock producer must maintain a level such that they can graze the next year — but maintain a sustainable level of what ? forage – period. And while I agree with the idea that there may be an incentive to maintain a given level of forage for livestock ~ i disagree that this is a measure of ecological sustainability ~

    example – Southern Idaho – Jarbidge country ~ forage for livestock has been accomplished by widespread vegetation alteration endeavors paid for by YOU – your tax dollars. unfortunately, the forage is crested wheat which has next to ZERO potential to support the diversity of beautiful wildlife in the area – including pygmy rabbit, sage grouse, pronghorn, etc.

    The leadbelt allotment in the Pioneers of central idaho was particularly devastated ~ antelope creek, the copper basin allotment just northwest of there, the boone creek allotment, in the south hills just south of the idaho border in Utah at first glance looked pretty good, then the thought to take a drive without the guidance of FS brought observers upon blown out seeps, streams, aspen clones, willow communities, etc. etc. etc.

    to say nothing of the lawlessness in the Owyhee canyonlands.

    show me a 10 year model of ecologically sustainable livestock grazing on semi-arid or arid public land that accounts for wildlife values, recreation, etc. that is economically independent and solvent (where tax-payers aren’t sporting the bill).

    i’ll be waiting

  161. Folks should know that BE’s videos of Jon Marvel giving hell to the Lost River Ranger District grazing bureaucrats, which many folks have looked at, just resulted in a nice large donation to Western Watersheds Project.

    Great work!

  162. avatar JEFF E says:

    it has always seemed to me that when livestock producers make the “good stewards” claim the part that is left out is “for the primary purpose of grazing livestock and if that means the degradation of habitat for any other species, tough s***”. In other words if “it eats my cows or eats what my cows eats it has to go”

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Quote

‎"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."

~ Edward Abbey

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