Congressmen ask Kempthorne to delay delisting wolves in the West. Billings Gazette.

This won’t stop delisting. It’s a political warning (“don’t stage a big reduction slaughter) from a bipartisan group on the House Natural Resources Committee.

 
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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.

30 Responses to Congressmen say Idaho/Montana/Wyoming too hostile to receive wolf management responsibility

  1. avatar Bob Caesar says:

    Son-Of-A-Gun, just when I was convinced all congress people were stupid these five come along and sound like intelligent, concerned, honest representatives. Will wonders never cease?

    Now – let’s see where Barbar Cubin (R-Wyo) comes down? Who’sd that Senator From Idaho? You know – the one with the “wide stance”?

  2. avatar Heather says:

    This is a start. better than nothing…

  3. avatar Layton says:

    “The Dec. 17 letter to Kempthorne was signed by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.; Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.; Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash.; Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md.; and Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J.”

    Nice to see that these fine gentlemen were so affected by the wolves in their states that they felt inclined to push on Kempthorne — I’m sure that they are knowledgeable enough to do this on their own — Or that folks from the states that are impacted by wolves pushed them into it!!

    RIGHT!!

    Layton

  4. Actually Layton, Washington state is formulating a state wolf plan that provides for the protection and relatively even distribution of wolves over the entire state. The migrants will come from Idaho, but rather than let them linger in Eastern Washington, the plan will probably provide for their redistribution to both the North and the Southern (Washington) Cascades.

    A lot of folks in California would like to see wolves roaming about there.

    Wolves of a sort, wolf-coyote hybrids, have reinhabited New England and surrounding states. People don’t panic!

    I think it is fair to say after 12 years, that public officials and a portion of the public in these states are made of sterner stuff regarding wolves than those in Idaho-Wyo-Montana — pretty embarrassing to say, but anti-wolf groups have profoundly embarrassed me for Idaho . . . anti-wolfers make us look like backwoods weenies.

  5. avatar BW says:

    Ralph,

    Did you see what happened when a coyote showed up in Central Park a few years ago? You can’t be serious, can you? They chased that coyote around for over a day. Did you ever hear what they did with it once the were able to catch it?

    Are wolf-coyote hybrids protected in New England? Seems perhaps that might be why no one is a fraid of them. No one is using them as a tool to redefine the East or alter their lifestyles.

    Bob, you just it hit it, and we agree! The wolf thing isn’t really about wolves at all. It is 95% resentment, and the wolf is a symbol of outsiders coming in to change the West. It’s not the energy companies, it’s not the Canadian mining companies, and it’s only the developers to a little bit (when they sell to a celebrity of the “wrong” kind).

    But take a clear view instead. Stand up and tell the energy companies to stay out of the Wyoming Range, the Salt Rivers, the Upper Green, the Atlantic Rim. Now that takes some heuvos. It’s easier to find a scapegoat. And those individuals who find a scapegoat with enough enthusiasm will be rewarded by the authorities. Ralph Maughan

  6. avatar Layton says:

    Ralph,

    If you feel that the “anti-wolfers” make you “feel like a back woods weenie”, have at it. There are a LOT of us in Idaho that LIKE to live here and do NOT fee that way.

    If you want to let W VA., Calif., Maryland and New Jersey set the tone for our life here, or even try to state what our viewpoints on wolves should be —— well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree — a LOT!!

    The “wolfies” are setting these politician’s priorities — they (the politicians) don’t have any idea what the real situation is here in the NW and they probably really don’t give a damn! It’s politics as usual and another effort to cast discredit on the Bush administration during an election year. You know that and so do I!!

    Layton

  7. avatar Layton says:

    By the way Ralph, a plan to introduce wolves onto the Olympic Penninsula a few year back was dropped because of a number of reasons, one of them being the impact they would have on the elk there.

    I have a paper from one of the scientists (from U of I) that was involved.

    Layton

  8. avatar Tim Z. says:

    Our distinguished Idaho senator has more important things to do than worry about wolves, like how to get out of his arrest for soliciting sex in a mens room.

  9. avatar Ronnie says:

    Layton,

    What exactly is a “Wolfie?” I am extremely happy to see wolves running wild again, but I also hunt, have worked on ranches and have close friends who run livestock. We sit around the campfire while hunting, and it’s not “wolfie” and “redneck Rancher.” We are just a bunch of guys who get along great but happen to see things different when it comes to wolves.
    As for discrediting the Bush Admin……. George is doing a magnificent job discrediting himself without any help!!!

  10. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    As to be expected, Wyoming US Senator Dr. John Barrasso, a physician by profession, has told the five congressmen who wrote this letter to butt out of Wyoming’s business. Here is my letter to Sen. Barrasso telling him to learn the facts before butting in. It is a little long, but I did want to share it with folks.

    16 January 2008

    Dear Senator Barrasso:

    I am writing to respond to your comments, included below, regarding the letter that five U. S. Congressmen sent to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne asking him to delay wolf delisting, currently scheduled for next month. Specifically, I disagree with your comment that these Congressmen “have no concept of the damage gray wolves do.”

    Senator, just what damage are you talking about? As a naturalist, elk hunter, and a long-term student of wolf ecology and conservation, I can tell you that the presence of wolves in Wyoming has been entirely beneficial and in the public interest.

    Regarding wildlife, the claims that wolves are wiping out northwestern Wyoming’s elk is simply false. Rather than going into an excessively long scientific and policy discussion about the issue, which would take many pages of exposition, I’d ask you instead to consider this question: if wolves are doing so much damage to wildlife, then why is the Wyoming G&F Department still offering late season elk cow-calf tags in the very areas where wolves are allegedly doing so much damage? Check out the 2008 G&F hunting license applications booklet (page 20), and note the location of elk hunt areas offering late season (Type 6) tags. You’ll see that late season tags are available in most of the elk hunt areas in the wolf country of northwestern Wyoming.

    It stands to reason that were wolves (no pun intended) truly causing so much damage to elk–specifically, having a direct impact on low cow-calf ratios–that the G&F Department would not be offering a late elk hunting season with the consequence of directly lowering cow and calf numbers. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Ecologically, the presence of wolves in northwestern Wyoming has been entirely beneficial to land as well as elk and other wildlife, not harmful. Considerable evidence is coming out of Yellowstone National Park, for example, that wolf predation is causing elk to spread themselves out across the landscape, thereby reducing their densities, permitting overgrazed and overbrowsed areas to recover, particularly riparian areas. Because of wolves, we are seeing a resurgence of willows, aspen, and beaver in riparian areas where once they were scarce.

    I myself am seeing many of the same positive impacts in the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd that ranges in the Dubois-Crowheart area; this is the herd I hunt and I know it quite well.

    Regarding livestock, we have to realize that the livestock industry is responsible for the eradication of wolves in Wyoming, and is thus responsible for the serious ecological damage done to land and wildlife over the last century by the elimination of this top predator from Wyoming. (Ranchers are, quite frankly, also responsible for a whole suit of ecological problems arising from livestock grazing, and I firmly believe they must share the costs of repairing that damage. Ranchers damaged the common good in pursuit of their private interests; it’s about time for the common interest to take priority).

    I’m sure you’re familiar with law professor Debra Donahue’s book, The Western Range Revisited, the publication of which caused such consternation in the Wyoming legislature some years back that some legislators wanted to abolish the University of Wyoming law school, where Donahue was teaching at the time. She does a wonderful job of describing the ecological damage that livestock grazing has done in the West.

    Consequently, it is entirely just and fitting that ranchers should bear some of the costs of wolf reintroduction. Further, I would remind you that especially on public lands ranchers are not indemnified against risk of any sort; they have neither a legal nor moral right to expect a risk-free environment for grazing their cattle and sheep. They are, however, more than free to implement best management practices that reduce the risk of predation and other potential sources of livestock mortality. Few do, unfortunately.

    I might point out that under Wyoming’s game statute (Title 23), ranchers are eligible for financial compensation for verified livestock losses to trophy game animals. I would point out too that the Wyoming G&F Commission has been extremely generous over the years in handing over my and other citizens’ hunting and fishing license fees to ranchers for depredation compensation–funds I would much rather see go to habitat and wildlife management rather than to ranchers as another subsidy, a subsidy that ranchers, through their control of the Wyoming legislature, voted for themselves.

    Such are the privileges of oligarchy.

    Legally, you should know that Wyoming’s “dual status” wolf plan–trophy game status in northwest Wyoming, predatory animal status in the rest of the State–violates both the Endangered Species Act and the 1994 Final Rule under which wolves were reintroduced to Wyoming. Once again, without going into a long legalistic discussion, I’d ask you to consider this: for years, the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service refused to accept Wyoming’s plan; the agency consistently acknowledged the plan’s illegality. Let us not forget that the people of this country are burdened with the Bush administration, the most anti-environmental, and the most fascist to boot, administration in U. S. history. You would think that the FWS would have rolled over immediately to Wyoming’s demands to accept the dual status plan. But the FWS refused to do so until a year ago, when former Idaho governor Dirk Kempthorne became Secretary of the Interior. Then, all of a sudden, the FWS changed its mind and accepted dual status. A very curious flip-flop, wouldn’t you agree?

    The FWS has tried to justify its flip-flop decision by denying that the ESA requires restoration of an endangered or threatened species to its historical range, only to its current range; the FWS now defines the wolf’s current range in Wyoming as only northwestern Wyoming. This is clearly in error for several reasons.

    Senator, I think you’ll find that the ESA language that calls for the restoration of a plant or animal species to “a significant portion of its range” also requires restoration of that species to its historical range. “Significant” and “historical” necessarily and operationally go together, especially in the case of such a historically widespread species as the wolf.

    Ever since the passage of the ESA more than 30 years ago, FWS rules have interpreted the statutory language to include “historical” within the meaning of the statute. I suggest to you that an objective, neutral judge might find that the sudden “discovery” by the FWS that its 30-year interpretation of the ESA doesn’t now apply to wolf recovery has no scientific or legal basis, and thus is arbitrary and capricious.

    Further, I suggest that you review Appendix 11 of the 1994 Gray Wolf Final Environmental Impact Statement. Appendix 11 outlines the requirements for delisting. One of those requirements for delisting that is that a State plan implement an “adequate regulatory mechanism” for wolf conservation and management. The Appendix specifically asserts (page 6-82) that “predatory animal status” in Wyoming is incompatible with an adequate regulatory mechanism. A judge might notice this incompatibility between the Final Rule and Wyoming’s wolf plan as well.

    Additionally, another requirement for delisting is that state plans facilitate the maintenance of a “meta-population” of wolves throughout the recovery area–primarily for genetic reasons, but also because the biological heath of wolf populations depends upon relatively low densities but large populations spread across the landscape in viable territories. (This requirement is simple wildlife ecology). Unfortunately, both Idaho and Wyoming’s plans, by their lethal restrictions on wolf dispersal and expansion, intentionally obstruct the functioning of a wolf metapopulation.

    Finally, I would point out that the FEIS and the Final Rule identified the entire State of Wyoming as part of the recovery area. That means that there must be an adequate regulatory mechanism for wolf conservation and management throughout the entire State before wolves can be delisted.

    Given these facts, Wyoming’s plan violates both the ESA and the best available science. The five Congressmen’s letter to Secretary Kempthorne opposing delisting at this time is entirely appropriate. They have my thanks for signing and dispatching that letter.

    Clearly, Wyoming’s plan is a plan for re-extinction of wolves, not their conservation. Should under intense political pressure the FWS go ahead and delist wolves next month, lawsuits opposing delisting will immediately follow. I have no doubt but that they will be successful; the legal violations are particularly blatant. Successful environmental lawsuits willput wolf delisting back to ground zero, with a clear requirement from the courts that the Wyoming legislature reclassify wolves statewide as trophy game before wolf delisting.

    How long will it take the Wyoming legislature to see reason and agree to treat wolves like any other wildlife species?

    Senator, had the Wyoming Legislature originally classified wolves as trophy game throughout the State–a classification that meets the requirement for an adequate regulatory mechanism–wolves would have been successfully delisted three years ago. As it is now, all we have is the all too typical Western grandstanding about states rights and the “Wyoming way.” In the face of such ludicrous grandstanding, no one should be surprised that we are going to court to prevent wolf delisting. It is the intransigence of Wyoming’s livestock and big game outfitting industries, not to mention the intransigence of Wyoming’s legislature, that has burdened the citizens of this state with additional wolf litigation.

    In closing, Senator Barrasso, I hope that in the future that you acquaint yourself with the facts of an issue before speaking out on it. That’s the only way to be part of the solution, not the problem. That solution clearly involves a recognition by legislators and special interests that the “Wyoming way” of wolf management is not going to fly either in the law courts or the court of public opinion. It also involves an understanding on your part, as well as the part of Senator Enzi and Representative Cubin, that the Wyoming Congressional Delegation represents all the people of Wyoming. This is, quite frankly, a problem; progressives in this state definitely feel that they have little representation in Congress. I will say that your predecessor Senator Thomas eventually adopted the point of view that he represented everyone, with some benefit for Wyoming citizens.

    So, believe it or not, Senator, a considerable number of people in this state support the presence of wolves and also support sustainable management of wolves, not their wholesale slaughter. For a large number of us, treating wolves as predatory animals throughout the State is unacceptable.

    As long as Wyoming insists on treating wolves as predatory animals, then we will not support delisting and we will support the lawsuits against delisting.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Very sincerely yours,

    Robert Hoskins

  11. avatar Tim Z. says:

    Nice job Robert, one question though– can Barrasso read?

  12. avatar Buffaloed says:

    Nice letter Robert. I wish I was so eloquent.

  13. Great letter Robert. Thank you for sharing.

  14. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    To TimZ: yes, Barrasso can read, he is after all a doctor, and apparently a well respected one in Casper. That doesn’t mean that he understands the specific issues surrounding wolf biology, ecology, or management. He was in the Wyoming legislature where he made his name working health issues, although his approach is very conservative and free-market oriented, which isn’t doing those of us who can’t afford health insurance much good. He hasn’t shown any understanding of natural resource issues. He’s just spouting the same old crap he hears from the Stockgrowers, the Woolgrowers, SFW, and the other multiple users, not to mention Gov Dav and the biostitutes at G&F.

    Buffaloed: Thanks for the nice comment. I always look forward to yours.

    On poisons: I urge every one to support Sinapu’s petition to the EPA to ban compound 1080 and M-44s. See the Sinapu website for details. The suspense for comments has been extended.

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  16. avatar Layton says:

    “As long as Wyoming insists on treating wolves as predatory animals, then we will not support delisting and we will support the lawsuits against delisting.”

    How true – how true. Now where was that book that told me the wolf was a predator?? I have to file that with the rest of the “obsolete science since gray wolf intro. in ’95” books.

    Uhhh, by the way, how do we classify them now?? Would “fish” work?

    Layton

  17. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Layton

    You’ve not displayed adequate knowledge or reasoning power to understand what I was saying, so here it is nice and simple for your simple mind.

    “Predatory animal”–a legal classification in Wyoming state law that allows animals so classified to be slaughtered any time, anywhere, any how, with no regulation or control.

    “Trophy game animal”–a legal classification in Wyoming state law that permits animals so classified to be taken in a regulated manner that nevertheless insures the sustainable conservation and management of the species over time.

    Now go back to 6th grade and learn something for once.

    RH

  18. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Biologically, of course wolves are predators and they’re very efficient ones at that.

    Legally, Wyoming has classified wolves as both trophy animals and predators, depending upon where they’re found – the predator classification means that they can be killed at any time, by anybody, by any means and “by any means” means exactly that: no holds barred; use your imagination. One method livestock producers have used in the past and could use in the future would be to snare ’em, cut their leg tenons and let their dogs shred ’em alive.

    Layton, you’re somewhat intelligent. Make the distinction between the biological and the legal classification of wolves as predators and cut the crap.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

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

  19. avatar Concerned says:

    I to, have to compliment you in your letter Robert, well written, with good understanding…as a fellow hunter in the state of Montana, I agree with many of your points. The only solution in this situation is calm heads, cools voices and understanding, which those of the fringe of both sides don’t seem to understand, hence many wild claims on both sides, that do nothing but add fuel to the fire…

    Good Job.

  20. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Robert Hoskins, you wrote an excellent letter to Barrasso. Thank you.

    Robert, you are the type of conservationist that should serve on Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission. I would support an effort to have you appointed. I am aware this would probably never happen under Frudenthal…!

    I recently was curious about the origin of the Wyoming Forest and Watershed Restoration Act of 2007 so I called Barrasso’s office and spoke with Brian Clifford – Barrasso’s legislative assistant who specializes in the Endangered Species Act. Brian told me he was from Long Island and has never been to Wyoming. He was not especially knowledgable about the issues we talked about.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

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

  21. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Mack

    Since the livestock industry has captured both the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission and the Department, the likelihood of me being appointed by any governor and confirmed by the Senate to the Commission is somewhat less likely than global nuclear disarmament.

    I’ll accomplish more by thinking and writing.

    RH

  22. avatar skyrim says:

    Robert writes: “I’ll accomplish more by thinking and writing”
    And you do a find job of both Sir. Thank you for your contribution to this site.

  23. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Robert, being the infernal optimist that I am, I must say that the flip side is that it’s not impossible that you’d have enough friendly supporters around the state that could urge the (next?) governor and their respective senators to appoint and approve you to Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission. Besides, you’d have only one vote – how could that hurt? 🙂

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

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

  24. avatar catbestland says:

    Robert,
    You ARE the type of conservationist that should serve on Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commision, but you are right, you are too valuable to the cause of conservation serving in the capacity that you already do. If you become one of them, you must play their game by their rules. Don’t handicap your brilliance in that manner. You do so much for the natural world and it is greatly appreciated. You are truly a Voice for the Wilderness.

  25. avatar Layton says:

    Robert,

    In my “simple” mind a critter is either a predator or not. Perhaps in your more “brilliant” head it is possible to have multiple definitions for the same creature. Does this ability come with your professed desire to “think and write” rather than actually DO something??

    To give “the devil his due” I agree that you do write a good letter — shows a lot of practise. Now — if you could just do a little more of the “thinking” part, perhaps we could agree on something.

    When all else fails, I guess personal attacks will have to suffice for your side of the discussion, after all anyone that disagrees with your “exalted” opinion can’t have a leg to stand on —- can they!!. By the way, when you want to compare IQs, we can do that too.

    Layton

  26. avatar Buffaloed says:

    Everything has to be black and white doesn’t it? Words must only have one meaning and only one context. Good, bad, right, wrong.

    Beware the oversimplifiers.
    And the right fighters http://www.iarticlebeach.com/article9809.html

  27. avatar Joe Smith says:

    I know a lot of hunters, and believe me when I say all of them would gladly leave the wolves alone if they could legally hunt politicians and bleeding heart liberals. The tag sales in California alone would settle their state debt!

    Personally, I think the world would be a great place to live if there weren’t any people. The fact is there are, and we’re animals too.

    I let this through to show the deep resentment that can be tapped by the anti-wolf side. Of course, I feel it too, and would say point your gun in a slightly different direction (no, I don’t mean 180 degrees). Ralph Maughan

  28. avatar Sally Roberts says:

    i just read this article and a bunch of the comments. one thing that is really interesting is how much money people think it will cost to manage wolves. Wyoming Game and Fish is asking for more than $2 million per year?! so i did some research….USFWS in WY said their budget is around $250,000 per year. Sooooo, why does WYG&F need so much money? i think more people should know how much (or really how little) it costs to manage wolves….at least in WY.

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