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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.

43 Responses to Wolf de-listing: A look at both sides of the issue

  1. avatar vicki says:

    Although this is a fairly good summary, it paints the picture in some pretty vague colors.
    If, in fact, Montana really does active;y protect wolves, and hunts them only as a trophy species, then they are more advanced in their efforts than Wyoming. The truth behind the propoganda remains to be seen.

  2. Despite the high management toll of wolves in Montana, Carolyn Sime, Montana’s wolf coordinator did come to the Chico conference and gave a hopeful presentation.

    Where was Steve Nadeau, Idaho’s wolf manger? In Wyoming, there is not one person even nominally running their wolf program to come and listen or make a case for their plan.

  3. avatar Save bears says:

    Vicki,

    There is no reason to doubt that Montana will manage them as a game species and only allow the taking of wolves as has been stated in the article as well as the approved management plan, despite what gets said in the few newspaper blogs around, the majority of people in Montana don’t want them destroyed and don’t want them back on the endangered list…Instead always doubting and and second guessing, give the state a chance…

  4. avatar Gerry Miner says:

    I am sure no one from Wyoming showed up at Chico because they really know nothing about the wolf population (as was seen in some presentations given by WYG&F)–they took over wolf management less than 2 weeks ago, and why would they go to an environment that is hostile to them? Whoever went would get completely hammered. Not that I am defending G&F, but be realistic, would you walk into that environment? G&F should have been more prepared to take over management, but if I worked for G&F, you couldn’t FORCE me to go to Chico.

    No one there from USFWS either I take it? Which I guess isn’t surprising since they are being sued by those hosting the conference. I don’t believe we should in any way cut the state of Wyoming a break in terms of wolf management, but not coming to Chico? Would you show up?

  5. avatar Catbestland says:

    How about inviting those guys to a debate in a public forum of some sort, like NPR or Anderson Cooper or something? Anderson has been getting a lot of emails from all of us on the wolf issue. He might be interested. The issue of public lands ranching could be discussed as well.

  6. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Ralph

    Dave Moody has been relieved of all responsibility for wolves by the Wyoming G&F administration, and in any case, the last time he went to the conference and spoke the truth, G&F and the Governor retaliated against him for telling the truth.

    Challenging these people to debates will do no good; they’ll refuse because they know they’ll lose in any neutral forum. Before his 2005 death in an auto accident, I challenged G&F veterinarian Dr. Tom Thorne to several debates over elk feedgrounds but, although both my university degrees are in the humanities and theoretically I was at a scientific disadvantage, he refused, because he knew that I knew elk management as well as he did and he also knew that there was no rational defense for feedgrounds. He knew that it’s all politics and he had fallen prey to those politics.

    The agencies know the irrationality and danger of these various management programs and for that reason, they will refuse to participate in any forum that they don’t control.

    For that reason, we should refuse to participate in fora that the agencies do control. Instead, we should go for the jugular in the press and other grass roots fora with all deliberate speed.

    RH

  7. avatar vicki says:

    Save Bears,
    We are talking about politicians. Not the average Montanan. SO I remain cautiously optomistic. I have little faith in the current admisnistration. But I have hope for the future. I as, I said, am Cautiously optomistic.

  8. avatar Save bears says:

    Vicki,

    I am talking about the Fish Wildlife and Parks Department, which is committed to continuing to have a viable population of wolves in the state of Montana, unlike other states, our Game department does listen to the people who submit comments when it comes to seasons and management of wildlife to ensure future populations are viable.

  9. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    I took a course in wolf management at the Yellowstone Association Institute a few years ago. The instructor was Carolyn Sime. After spending 3 days with her, I came away with a sense of respect and admiration. I truly feel that if she is left alon, politically, she will do a very credible job for the wolves in Montana.

    Rick

  10. It’s hard not to give Sime a fair amount of credit, as well as some criticism. She is smart and curious about ideas for doing things differently.

    The 3 states have a capability to manage wolves (well maybe not Wyoming), but not the political desire to do so. The Bush adminstration has no desire to do so either.

    It’s about a year to any hope of a better time under any scenario. In the meantime, get active and stay mad about wolves and most other wildlife too.

  11. avatar Catbestland says:

    Maybe we could talk Anderson Cooper into extending the invitation to the Wyoming Wolf Management people for a debate. If they refuse, they don’t look so good and then Anderson could just do a show on the pro side of the issue.

  12. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    Save Bears,
    Montana does not listen to anyone when it comes to the “management” of bison and for that reason i am also cautiously optimistic.

    Here are serious questions to EVERYONE:

    *Given Montana’s track record with bison, what are your thoughts about them doing the right thing with the wolves?
    and;
    (This one may be a “stretch”)…
    **What are your thoughts that Montana may be very careful with wolf management–given there barbaric treatment of bison—that maybe in some vague way it might show the state in “a better light” ?

    I am not yet sure how i feel about this, especially because i was “out of the loop” for so long. Nor do i know how i would answer these question. So i am very curious about what everyone is thinking.
    However, i am sure that the wolves are a key species in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, that they are highly intelligent, terribly under appreciated by most, and in their interactions/behaviors with their family groups are quite sophisticated. They are also amazing and admirable.

  13. avatar Save bears says:

    As far as Bison, Montana is a total screw up, and they cater to the Livestock interest in this state, I find the wolf and the bison issue two completely different issues….We will Never have bison management, until such time as they control of them are taken away from the Dept of Livestock, the wolves are currently managed by the game dept, which is where the management of bison should reside..

  14. avatar Catbestland says:

    dbaileyhill and all,

    I just got an update from Defenders stating that some 43,000 people called them in the last couple of weeks demanding that something be done about the Yellowstone bison. I don’t know what they will do about it but if that many people called them, you can bet that that many people covered all the other bases too. So see, it pays to network.

  15. avatar kim kaiser says:

    You have put a fire under AC’s rear to get any enthusiasm out of him. He simply “reports” as I think reporters should, but as so many dont, and editiorialize and throw in there own feelings, Did you see the Wolf thing here a while back,,,, never lifted a brow, just a happy day in the park, watching imperiled wolves. I didnt get much urgency out of it from him.

    or if you could get him to make as many visits in one year as he did to the 9th ward in New Orleans,, which,,, again, as someone who is from down there, worked there during the storm and knowing all the other problems that were faced by way more people than the 9th ward, he was butt kissing a minority for the network. But since he is good at that,, maybe extra visits with just a touch of enthusiasm would work to some extent.. gosh knows, there is enough video out there of the beast he wouldnt even have to bring a crew..

  16. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Defenders’ response to all the calls Cat refers to above was a cheesy request for donations “to stop the bison slaughter.”

    Here is my email response to various Defenders upper level staff:

    I must respond directly to the email from Defenders requesting a donation from me to Defenders, to be matched by Earthfriends, “to stop the bison slaughter.” I have been intimately involved in the Greater Yellowstone brucellosis mess for well over a decade, and I know all the players. I can tell you Defenders has done nothing for the bison of
    Montana or the elk of Wyoming. I can remember distinctly that during the elk vaccination lawsuit the state of Wyoming filed against the National Elk Refuge a decade ago–a lawsuit that threatened federal authority over a national wildlife refuge and, because the Bush administration settled the lawsuit, severely diminished federal authority for the national wildlife refuge system–I begged … to get Defenders involved. [Defenders] didn’t even bother to write back.

    I have never forgotten that [Defenders] never bothered to write back.

    Over the years, Defenders has adopted the reprehensible capitulatory policy of collaborating with the livestock industry, a policy that has done and is doing severe harm to wildlife and wildlife conservation throughout the West. Defenders’ recent donation of seed money to Montana’s Department of Livestock (DOL) for a wolf depredation
    compensation fund–the same Montana DOL that is ruthlessly slaughtering Montana bison, by the way–is just the latest example of the failure of Defenders to defend wildlife.

    Those of us out here in the trenches do notice these little ironies.

    So I won’t be sending money to Defenders “to stop the bison slaughter.” Any money and support I can give goes instead to the Buffalo Field Campaign. The BFC is truly doing something for bison, while Defenders just talks with outstretched palms.

    Yrs,
    Robert Hoskins

  17. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    Robert,
    That is an excellent letter!!

  18. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Robert says:

    Defenders has adopted the reprehensible capitulatory policy of collaborating with the livestock industry, a policy that has done and is doing severe harm to wildlife and wildlife conservation throughout the West.

    this is true.

  19. avatar vicki says:

    I also agree. BFC is a group of people who spend endless energy and time to defend wild bison.
    I am always interested in what Defenders will do to rectify their lack of activity. However, I have invested my hopes in other organizations, like Buffalo Field Campaign and Wildlife Watchers.

  20. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    I believe it is important to start calling these big established groups, which are simply corporations selling nature, on the intolerable compromises they have been making.

  21. avatar Save bears says:

    Robert,

    It is unfortunate, that many of these large groups seem to have lost their focus…and unfortunately the ESA has become big business….

  22. avatar April Clauson says:

    OK folks, yes Defenders may be a bit late with the Bison issue, but they have been there from the start for the wolves, they filed law suits for years, and now also with earthjustice and other groups. They were trying to help stop some of the killing of wolves by ranchers by offering to pay them for proved loss’s. due to political issues that has been sidetracked and now being used against them by you folks. Also they for years have stopped the whale hunts, stopped the aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska in the past. They do alot of good. Yes, give your money to BFC, for the Bison as they are more involved directly and they do some good. I feel they could do alot more than they do too! But don’t bash DOWL or not donate for other good causes they support. Thanks and have a good day all!!!

  23. avatar vicki says:

    April,
    Sending money to any organization is a very personal choice. Most folks can’t throw cash at a lot of them, so they are forced to choose between many groups. I personally will choose based on who I think is doing the most good with my buck, so to speak.
    I commend any group trying to do SOMETHING, but I choose to donate to those who are doing something every day.

  24. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    April

    Based upon my extensive experience, there is a lot to criticize DOW about, and I will continue to do so. This matter of donating money to Montana’s DOL for compensation to ranchers for wolf depredation while DOL is at the same time slaughtering bison demonstrates considerable moral dissonance, if you take my meaning. Perhaps you could explain that.

    RH

  25. avatar Catbestland says:

    Did anyone else get the response from Eric Keszler of Wyoming Game and fish? I got one in response to my letter to ghe governor. It is clear that Wyoming has no intention of maintaining wolf populations other than in the Northwest corner of the state. It’s long but I can try to post it if anyone is interested, or did not get one of their own.

  26. avatar Save bears says:

    Cat,

    That don’t surprise me one bit, I have been saying that since Wyoming’s plan was accepted.

  27. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    The wording of Wyoming law makes it clear that Wyoming will accept no wolves outside the limited trophy game zone.

  28. Got that mail also, quite a long mail and I have not yet found time to read it in toto but he is explicitly talking about NORTHWESTERN Wyoming.

  29. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    Just read 2 emails from BFC. Please check them out especially if you are not signed up for their newsletters.
    I will point out that two large organizations have not joined in the “fight”. (DoW and GYC). Though i am not surprised, it is evidence, in my opinion, that the phrase “all talk and no action” seem appropriate. Another opinion of mine—sure it’s great that Defenders took action for the wolves, however that does not make up for the bison issue, which they say they work on. Both organizations imo, are consistently, inconsistent.

  30. avatar April Clauson says:

    http://www.defenders.org/index.php

    If you go to their web page above you will see that they are fighting for the Bison in Montana and surrounding areas. Every one has their own ideas on how to help wildlife and with what groups. I personally feel that since BFC is located in the areas that bison are captured/culled/hazed etc..that they could make more of a actual stand, meaning get their and other folks butts out and protest, picket etc…buying land is a good thing to help, but BFC has been out there for years if I am correct, does not seem to me that they have done any more or less than DOW or other conservation groups. Lets all just look at it as hey, there are alot of folks fighting it is just the politicians of your states are not listening, or our own federal government for that matter.

  31. I just came back from Yellowstone Park. It was so sad to see the bison walking across the north boundary line to their death. There was a long line of them, one by one. I watched for an hour. Horrible!!

    If you want your money to be spent efficiently and right now to help the bison, Buffalo Field Campaign should be the obvious choice.

    I would not condemn DOW, however. They do good work. They are not in bed with the livestock industry on this, but I can’t see how money to them is useful right now on this issue.

  32. I see BFC just posted their latest report.

    Please take note! They thank “Natural Resources Defense Council, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Animal Welfare Institute, Gravelbar, American Buffalo Foundation, Western Watersheds Project, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Development, Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, Big Wild Adventures, American Indian Law Alliance, The Humane Society of the U.S., Wildearth Guardians, Karrie Taggart, barb abramo, George Nell and Rosalie Little Thunder.

  33. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    April,
    To rephrase; I find it to be very disappointing that two large organizations with extensive finances, fail to be consistent with their various causes. I will add that considering the scope of action taken today to stop the slaughter I naturally assumed that the two groups I wrote of would be on the list of organizations in support. Perhaps I was wrong to assume. But given the timing of the GAO this very well may be the most opportune moment that needs to taken advantage. I also thought that when an organization has the finances to make stuffed animals, coffee mugs, etc., that having a televised public service announcement could be made without much difficulty. (this is only an observation.) So, again I was probably wrong to think that. An example that comes to mind is the Yellowstone Association an organization dedicated to education and resource material preservation. They have accomplished much in just the last eight years. They built the education building at Canyon, are building the ed center at Old Faithful, and bought the building by the Roosevelt Arch to house their collection of documents, ed materials, etc., so the public can utilize those resources. I feel it is completely reasonable to expect tangible results. I want to see the dollars are being used as they should.
    I am well aware of Defenders web-site contents and have been receiving their email newsletters for over two years. I have spent almost every single day of the past two years studying in depth everything and everyone concerning the bison issue.
    Please don’t assume I am trying to argue, because i am not. I do believe that this topic to be worth discussing. First, I have to admire anyone who basically devotes their lives to take part in the longest running protest for any cause. For eleven years they have been documenting nearly every action taken against the bison by the agencies involved, even in sub-zero temperatures. I call that dedication. There is no one else doing the job except for them.
    As far as picketing/protesting ’60’s and ’70’s style, unless a few hundred, a thousand plus people can ban together so as to create a crowd too large to arrest, might make the national news networks. I have no idea how to accomplish such a feat. Especially with the creation of Homeland Security. Personally, if I were physically able I am not even sure I would participate because I really enjoy the freedom to use my passport. I like the freedom to go where i want. This is not easy for me to admit. I feel ashamed of that because most everyone knows the bison issue is closest to my heart. I guess that makes me not completely dedicated. Large Orgs aside—on a personal level, individuals, I think most people do as much as they can, and that is no one else’s business. But when I am donating cash to any organization, I want, I expect accountability.

  34. avatar kim kaiser says:

    Ralph,,you should watch them every day!!!! day after day,, a few here, a whole herd there,,

  35. avatar vicki says:

    Some days this is all so much harder than others. I turn on the news, and I overcome with tales of mountain lions invading cities, warnings where they have killed deer. I hear about bears in garages already this spring. I almost daily hear about coyotes menacing house pets. Then I hear about bison, who are not so close to humans, who have no desire to eat your pet, who do what they have instinctually done for so long…. look for food, and by doing so proceeding to march to their death.
    It sickens me to no end that we have money for slaughtering these animals, but none for saving them. It sickens me that there is more land arranged for, but the almighty USA can’t keep their promise to pay for it. It sickens me that we excercise so much ignorance in a country that has so many educated people.
    How can we say we have a social conscience, that we hold ourselves accountable for injustices? When in fact, we slaughter thousands of animals simply because they might some how wander into an area free of cattle, on the way to an area that there may be cattle in?
    Bison testing positive for antibodies are masacred for having been exposed to a desease, not because they are contageous. I just have difficulty swallowing all of it today.

    Without the knowledge that there are groups like BFC who are striving to end this madness, I would be quite hopeless.
    I agree with dbh. I put my dollar in the hand of someone who I know to spend it with hard work and good faith.

  36. avatar vicki says:

    kim,
    no one should have to watch them 🙁

  37. avatar JB says:

    RH says: “I believe it is important to start calling these big established groups, which are simply corporations selling nature, on the intolerable compromises they have been making.”

    I agree that Defenders deserves criticism for their refusal to act on the bison issue and I share Robert’s frustration. I also agree that money given to the BFC is money well spent. However, to criticize Defenders’ failures without reference to their victories is disingenuous.

    Defenders has done (and continues to do) much for wildlife conservation. In fact, in many respects, they do more than the professional societies (e.g. the Society for Conservation Biology, the Wildlife Society), who do not have the luxury of Defenders’ membership or finances.

    Robert is right: Defenders makes money by “selling” actions they have taken to conserve wolves and grizzly bears–essentially selling their protections of charismatic species. However, that money goes into petitions, letter writing, law suits, and information campaigns that raise public awareness about wildlife issues and benefit a number of species. Defenders “selling” of wolves has resulted in greater protection of non-charismatic species (e.g. the flat-tailed horned lizard) and important legal precedents that affect a host of different endangered species. Moreover, their continued support of the North American Wolf Conference (despite the withdrawal of financial support from the FWS) allows for conservationists and academics to come together around the table to discuss these issues and strategize about future actions, which benefits us all.

    So by all means please continue to hold Defenders accountable for their failures…but don’t forget their successes. To simply write them off for making mistakes may be cutting off the nose to spite the face.

    JB

  38. avatar JEFF E says:

    maybe someone, Lynne Stone perhaps, might detail all of the legal actions defenders of wildlife has been a player in over say the last 15 years.

    Stone is not involved with DOW. Here is a link to her organization’s web site. Ralph Maughan

  39. avatar jerry b says:

    Save Bears…
    I’m curious about the comment you made..”our game department(MFWP) does listen to the people who submit comments when it comes to seasons and management of wildlife to ensure future populations are viable”.
    On what do you base this statement?
    Did you read all the comments submitted in reference to the 2008 wolf hunting regulations?
    Since you mention wildlife management and the necessity to ensure future populations, did you read all 135 comments submitted in reference to wolverine trapping? You’re probably aware of this, but 134 of those comments asked for a moratorium on wolverine trapping, many from highly regarded experts in the field of wolverine ecology.
    You seem to have more info than I when it comes to MFWP and their policies….I don’t have the same confidence as you do in the “public comment” process, so if you could further support the fact they take public comments into consideration, I and many others would like to hear it.

  40. avatar John says:

    20 subspecies of the grey wolf have met their end due to ‘trophy’ hunting. This kind of killing spree was not the intended purpose of the reintroduction project.

    Its three steps froward and two steps back.

  41. avatar Save bears says:

    Jerry B.

    I was not addressing the wolverine issue, now was I…to many people on this blog as well as on other chat systems, always seem to want to cross issues, which in wildlife management, you can’t do, I can assure you, each and every comment addressed to the MFWP, does get read and gets read with the weight it deserves..will it go the way you want every single time? No, I can also tell you will not..

    I have continually worked on the Bison issue for 15 years, I have worked on the grizzly issues for 10 years, and am now doing independent work in the wolf arena, and I can assure you, as the poster before me said..it is indeed three steps forward and two back, but every time, we take those three forward and two backward, we have gain and extra step…but if you want to be effective, you can’t continue to cross the issues, biologists and wildlife management personal, don’t and can’t think this was, they don’t think of wildlife, they think of one species at a time, period, no flex at all, which is why, I am currently unemployed, because I choose to think of ecosystems and not one species at a time, but I do understand how they think and why they do what they do..

    Most of the public, don’t have the same confidence that I do, but that is ok, I understand quite a bit more than most in the public do..and if that sounds smug, I am sorry, I have spent to many hours, days and months, talking about these issues across the table from them..

  42. avatar Mike Leahy says:

    Defenders of Wildlife does work on bison, Yellowstone and otherwise, we just try to focus on ways we can make a difference, which doesn’t generally include spending time responding to every criticism. We’ve been exploring legal and Congressional action, ways our many members can best weigh in, and other possibilities. Not all of our ideas have panned out, yet at least, but nearly 50,000 of our Members did contact the MT Promotions Division, and cleary new thinking is needed since efforts up to this point haven’t budged the issue, in fact it’s gotten worse.

    We just opened a regional office in September, and on top of all the effort that requires our staff throughout the region, and many in our DC office, we have been putting in tons of overtime trying to address wolf state plans and hunts, federal delisting and 10j plans, wolf attitudes in the region, wolverine non-listing, lynx critical habitat, disappearing fishers, griz problems, prairie dog poisoning, Elk Refuge feeding, woodland caribou injunction violations, and much more.

    I recognize that not everyone will agree with our approaches all the time but it might be more productive if more bison advocates provide constructive ideas rather than just blasting potential allies in blogs. I don’t intend to respond further on this blog, but wanted to let folks reading it know Defenders is not standing idly by, we have hard-working staff putting in a lot of hours trying to address many of the mounting threats to wildlife in the region.

    Mike Leahy, Rocky Mtn Region Director

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

~ Edward Abbey

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