Can Delisting Occur Without Wyoming?

Legislature opts against new wolf rules.Casper Star-Tribune Online – Wyoming

The Wyoming legislature has decided not to change its wolf management plan which has not been accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For delisting to occur, among other things, Wyoming must submit an acceptable plan to the USFWS.

One other requirement is that wolves be able to exchange genes between metapopulations and no wolves from outside the Greater Yellowstone population have contributed to the GYE. Currently Idaho wolf B271 resides to the east of Yellowstone Park. Another wolf residing in SE Idaho (part of the GYE), incorrectly reported to be from NW Montana, actually came from the Paradise Valley which is part of the GYE.

With Idaho’s plans to kill 26 “chronic” wolf packs and its “Lolo Plan” to kill wolves in a futile effort to help elk there combined with Wyoming maintaining its stance on dual status it appears that delisting is a long way off.

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

31 Responses to Wyoming Legislature opts against new wolf rules

  1. avatar JimT says:

    This may be a bit out there, but I wonder if the sudden rise in this type of action and attitude by Idaho and Wyoming is due to Ken Salazar’s known sympathies for the grazing community, welfare or private, and their confidence he will take actions that will favor state plans despite the clear violations of the ESA? He is not exactly known for his ESA credentials…

  2. avatar Eric T. says:

    Lolo peer reviewers:

    The fourth directive is to pursue options under the 10(j) rule to control wolves that are impacting our ungulate populations. The staff has developed a proposal for the Lolo Zone and submitted it for peer review. The reviewers are: Layne Adams, USGS, Alaska; Mark Boyce, University
    of Alberta, Alberta; Valerius Geist, University of Calgary, British Columbia; Mark McNay, Retired ADFG, Kansas; and David Mech, USGS, Minnesota. Mr. Unsworth said he hoped to have their comments back by February 9. The staff will incorporate their comments into the draft, which will be put out for public review near the end of this month, then finalized and submitted to USFWS.

  3. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    It’s time to dust off the lawsuit over the most recent10j revisions.

    These “peer reviewers” are all known advocates of wolf control to “improve” ungulate populations. Where’s Paul Paquet, for example? This is an attempt to subvert the peer review process for political ends, not use it for what it’s supposed to accomplish: achieve scientific objectivity.

    RH

  4. avatar Layton says:

    Robert,

    Are you saying that Idaho F&G is “shopping around” this peer review process kind of like the wolf advocates “shop around” to get the right judge when they file a lawsuit??

  5. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Layton

    Yes, IDFG is cherry picking wolf experts. I’ve been watching it for years, from Alaska to Canada all the way down to here. Do you deny it?

    You’re a little off on the judges. You can appeal a judge’s decision. There’s no way to appeal politicized science unless you take it to court.

    RH

  6. avatar JB says:

    “It’s time to dust off the lawsuit over the most recent10j revisions.”

    Robert is right. Given the new rules and Wildlife Services penchant for killing wolves, Wyoming has little reason to seek state control. Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?

  7. avatar John d. says:

    Alberta and Alaska?
    Great… since those places manage their wolves so well…
    [Please note: Sarcasm]

  8. There was a motion for summary judgment just recently filed on the 10j lawsuit.

    Here is the link for the motion filed on Feb. 2, 2009.

    10(j) Rule

    Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Points and Authorities
    in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

    I think this is very well argued.

  9. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Ralph

    Thanks for the link; hadn’t known of the brief for summary judgment.

    There is a real problem with the claim that wolf control benefits ungulates. In a very short sighted way, it benefits only hunters. As I have argued here many times, wolf control is a form of mitigation of human development impacts on ungulates and wolves that disrupt normal predation patterns.

    Yes, you can “bring back” an ungulate population by taking out a major limiting factor, wolves, over a short period of time, but it is very expensive and of course does nothing for the underlying problem, habitat degradation, fragmentation, or destruction, not to mention in many cases overhunting. Indeed, overhunting of moose and caribou is a serious problem is Alaska and Canada, but those poliitical entities are unwilling to cut back on hunting for political reasons.

    As always, the answer is habitat, habitat, habitat. In the Lolo situation, the proper response, if you want more elk, is not to kill wolves, but to burn, baby burn, and maybe do some logging. But that would be the intelligent and courageous response, and wolf management is anything but intelligent and courageous.

    RH

  10. Robert,

    This is just impressionistic (kind of like “haven’t seen many elk lately, wolves must have got them”) but this fall in the Lolo, I noticed a lot of burns (wildfires) from the last 5 years and less knapweed on the winter range !!

  11. avatar JimT says:

    Layton, this is at least the second time you imply there is some sort of ethical or legal issue with lawyers who represent non profit environmental groups seeking the jurisdiction/decisionmaker whose decisions best support their lawsuit Are you a lawyer? Can you speak to this from experience? Do you know, for example, that lawsuits are usually assigned to judges on a random basis so either side can’t judge shop? Do you think the lawyers for the state or for private interests don’t seek to do the same thing? And why is it this seems to gall you only when it is done by folks like wolf advocates?

    For someone who has professed to be apolitical, you sure act like you have some pretty strong views for certain sides of issues that reflect a political philosophy. Nothing wrong with that; just pretending to be “Swiss” doesn’t comport with your comments…~S~

  12. avatar Ken Cole says:

    I noticed this the other day.

    http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/releases/view.cfm?NewsID=4775

    Clarification: Idaho Elk Numbers

    A recent Associated Press news story recently included misleading information about the effects of wolf predation on elk numbers in Idaho.

    Elk are managed in 29 zones. In most of those zones, elk numbers are within management objectives. In a few, the numbers are above objectives, and in three zones, numbers are below the objectives.

    The numbers in the AP story should have referred only to elk in one zone, the Lolo zone in the upper Clearwater drainage. Here elk survival rates have declined, and herd numbers are going down about 13 percent per year.

    See Fish and Game’s Web site for detailed information on elk numbers: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/manage_issues/ung/.

  13. avatar Layton says:

    If you click on “Elk Survival update” in the upper right corner of the first page of the second link you will also see that the Smokey Mountain Unit is also below objectives.

    There are also a couple of other criteria that one should note. I found this comment (on the same link) to be interesting.

    “When healthy predator populations exist, mortalities due to predation normally make up the majority of deaths. Wildlife managers are more concerned with the rate of survival than the percentage of animals killed by predators. Adult cow elk survival over 85% is generally considered normal and sustainable”

    There are three units that are below the 85% number and yet are considered to be “meeting objectives”. F&G must be trying to reduce the elk populations in those areas because with that survival rate the herd would not be considered “normal and sustainable”.

  14. avatar JimT says:

    And do you have any theories on why FG would want elk numbers down? Biological reasons? Political reasons?

    Notice the word “generally”..so there must be wiggle room..85% isn’t a “hard number” I suspect from a scientific standpoint, I wouldn’t think..perhaps an elk biologist can weigh in?

  15. avatar Layton says:

    “And do you have any theories on why FG would want elk numbers down? Biological reasons? Political reasons? ”

    They do it all the time — political because some farmer thinks they eat to much of their hay — I guess I would call it biological if the available winter range won’t handle the numbers — same thing if a fire has destroyed a significant amount of available forage — etc.

  16. avatar Ken Cole says:

    What if the available winter range in the Lolo can’t handle the numbers Layton? They should kill the wolves to make up for that and the habitat will magically appear?

    There are zones where wolf densities are described as very high and the elk populations are within objectives. I submit that IDFG’s objectives are subjective and political in the Lolo and not based on carrying capacity. What makes the elk more vulnerable to predation in the Lolo as compared to the Elk City zone? Is it that the wolves are smarter in the Lolo or could it be that habitat just doesn’t support the number of elk which makes them less healthy and more vulnerable to the wolves? Why is there so much variation?

    What if the objective were to be changed for the Sawtooth zone where elk are within objective and survival high? Say the objective were to be raised. Would that then mean that the wolves were responsible for their lower numbers.

    It seems to me that IDFG likely has kept the objective for the Lolo zone at the same level that existed during the ’70s when habitat conditions were still prime. It’s just not like that there anymore. The vegetation community has matured to a climax timber forest rather than a place with ceanothus and grasses. It’s just not capable of sustaining a large and healthy elk population anymore.

    Just because it used to be great habitat doesn’t mean that it can’t change. Nature is like that. If IDFG kills a bunch of wolves in the Lolo that doesn’t ensure that elk populations will rebound to the levels that once existed there when the habitat was good.

  17. avatar Layton says:

    Ken,

    I’m not really sure what you are arguing about here.

    Your statement/question:

    “What if the available winter range in the Lolo can’t handle the numbers Layton? They should kill the wolves to make up for that and the habitat will magically appear?”

    seems kind of moot. The Lolo numbers are about 60% BELOW the objective, it would seem that winter range carrying capacity doesn’t matter much.

    They want to control the wolf numbers in there so the herd has some kind of a chance to come back.

    “What if the objective were to be changed for the Sawtooth zone where elk are within objective and survival high?”

    The objective for the Sawtooth Zone HAS changed — during the 2008 hunting season there were about 3500 less tags (total between the two) available in the Sawtooth zone and the zone just north of it. I’m not sure of the name of the other one right now — maybe Pioneer?

    “What makes the elk more vulnerable to predation in the Lolo as compared to the Elk City zone?”

    First of all, I don’t know that they ARE, I’d have to look at the number of animals available first and then look at the makeup of the geography. Does one have more meadows and open areas, what about escape areas?

    “It seems to me that IDFG likely has kept the objective for the Lolo zone at the same level that existed during the ’70s when habitat conditions were still prime.”

    Why does it “seem to you” that is true? Because of a basis of knowledge, or just because you have a problem with ANYTHING that ANYONE says that might put a bright light on what the wolves are doing to some of our ungulate herds??

    I would either have to see the history or have a spiffy new pair of Michael Jordan endorsed tennie runners to be able to jump to a conclusion like that!! Do you have data or just a new pair of shoes??

    Aren’t you one that pretty consistently says “where’s your data?”

    Ken, I don’t know your history (and you don’t know mine) but I suspect that it wouldn’t matter if F&G (or anyone else for that matter) brought you a gilt edged, peer reviewed, study that was certified to be 100% accurate by GOD. Your stance would still be that the wolves don’t harm anything.

    Your mind is made up, it seems useless to try to confuse you with facts or to even make observations.

    F&G DOES change the population objectives — for all kinds of reasons. I’m not trying to defend it, I don’t think it needs defending. I’m simply pointing it out.

  18. avatar Eric T. says:

    ^^^^^^^

    what he said

  19. avatar Layton says:

    Jim T.

    “Layton, this is at least the second time you imply there is some sort of ethical or legal issue with lawyers who represent non profit environmental groups seeking the jurisdiction/decisionmaker whose decisions best support their lawsuit Are you a lawyer? Can you speak to this from experience? Do you know, for example, that lawsuits are usually assigned to judges on a random basis so either side can’t judge shop? Do you think the lawyers for the state or for private interests don’t seek to do the same thing? And why is it this seems to gall you only when it is done by folks like wolf advocates? ”

    No one could be naive enough to say what you said in that post with a straight face — you HAVE to be joking!!

    Shopping for the “right” judge is as old as the legal system — to deny that it happens is to be completely naive or a good deal less than honest!!

    Both sides do it — they do it in traffic court, civil court, federal court, appeals court, and any other court you can name.

    Please, don’t treat me like a fool, I might have been born yesterday, but it wasn’t really late yesterday!!!

    ” And why is it this seems to gall you only when it is done by folks like wolf And why is it this seems to gall you only when it is done by folks like wolf advocates? ”
    advocates? ”

    It “galls” me anytime — but it galls me the most when it is done by people that say they don’t do it or that say it doesn’t happen!!

  20. avatar Ken Cole says:

    KC: “What makes the elk more vulnerable to predation in the Lolo as compared to the Elk City zone?”

    Layton: “First of all, I don’t know that they ARE, I’d have to look at the number of animals available first and then look at the makeup of the geography. Does one have more meadows and open areas, what about escape areas?”

    Geography is a component of habitat. That’s what is missing now in the Lolo.

  21. avatar Layton says:

    “Geography is a component of habitat. That’s what is missing now in the Lolo.”

    And obviously the geography has somehow changed —– or might it just be that the wolves have changed the dynamic??

  22. avatar JimT says:

    Actually, I speak from legal experience, Layton, over 20 years of practice in the Federal court system on environmental issues, So, I would submit that based on my training and experience, I bring a little more to the table on this issue than you do with conspiracy theories of judges making deals with lawyers, or lawyers slipping the clerk of the court a few sawbucks to makes sure Judge ABC is assigned to a particular case. I take great offense at statements like yours that seek to sully the court system based on conjecture, innuendo, and baseless observations. And I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle from me on these issues would take equal offense. So, either give us facts on documented cases of unethical or criminal instances of rampant judge shopping in violation of the law, or save us all from this kind of inflammatory rhetoric.

  23. avatar Salle says:

    “And obviously the geography has somehow changed —– or might it just be that the wolves have changed the dynamic??”

    Perhaps y’all mean topography. Also, there are other components that are present like distinct vegetation and whether any of it contain nutrient value for the ungulate population. Just because it looks like bushes or grass to humans doesn’t necessarily mean that it is what ungulates will eat. Aside from the topographic features Ken was talking about. Wolves are not the cause or close to the primary reason for ungulate population decline in a given area. If there isn’t anything for there for wolves to eat in the first place, they won’t hang around. Same for the ungulates, if there isn’t food available, they won’t stay around. One role of wolves, ecologically speaking, is to keep elk and deer and whatever on the move so they don’t over graze, as was shown in studies of the Lamar Valley in YNP where the riparian zones are recovering after being overgrazed during the absence of wolves.

    But then, if you don’t know much about nature, you probably wouldn’t get that point even though to many it’s kind of a “no brainer”.

    A question I would ask is; what has changed the vegetation base in the area in question or what is different between the two with regard to vegetation and topology? If had anything to do with animals, I would wager that it was due to the presence of exotic species, domesticated sheep or cattle maybe? Or maybe fires that changed the sol profile to such a degree that it won’t support the native species and some invasive exotic species have been able to take hold in place of the native species.

  24. avatar Layton says:

    Jim T.,

    If you are REALLY trying to convince me (or anyone else) that “judge shopping” doesn’t take place you are either a naive idiot or take me for one — the argument doesn’t even deserve comment.

    Speak from “over 20 years of practice in the Federal court system on environmental issues” or speak from your nether regions, I really don’t care.

    Salle,

    ” If there isn’t anything for there for wolves to eat in the first place, they won’t hang around.” Got a flash for you Salle, there are a LOT of them in the Lolo area, there must be a few elk left.

    “Same for the ungulates, if there isn’t food available, they won’t stay around.” Same kind of a flash, the herd, the roughly 30% that remains, is still there.

    “A question I would ask is; what has changed the vegetation base in the area in question or what is different between the two with regard to vegetation and topology? If had anything to do with animals, I would wager that it was due to the presence of exotic species, domesticated sheep or cattle maybe?”

    The answer would be that there isn’t a lot, I don’t know of any, except maybe a few on the East side, of sheep or cattle grazing. I think none in the Clearwater drainage. Next question??

  25. avatar John d. says:

    Layton,
    No need to get abusive, it doesn’t do much your credibility.

    The evolution of the elk is due to the grey wolf hunting it, since there were no wolves for 60 years elk numbers rose dramatically because no predator could take them down fast enough – not even humans. The reason for the reintroduction of grey wolves was to eliminate the over-populated number to a healthier level, a level that enabled plant regrowth and herd rotation. The ‘decline’ is natural and is an intended result. When the elk reach a certain point the wolf population will decline on its own. Wolves do not breed when their food supply is low and there are disputes between rival packs.

    Bottom line Layton: wolves do not eliminate their prey, it is an utter impossibility.

  26. avatar Salle says:

    John d.,

    Thanks for completing that thought. I should know better than to even respond to Layton, he refuses to engage in independent cognitive functioning regardless of the information placed before him… You can lead a mind to knowledge but you can’t make it think.

    Reminds me of Richard Nixon whose motto was something like; I’m always right and I never lie.

    Some folks just can’t accept the facts.

  27. avatar JimT says:

    Layton,

    Your observation about judges and ignoring actual experience in the court systems is about what I would expect on this issue…all hat and no cattle.~S~

  28. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Layton,
    No need to get abusive, it doesn’t do much your credibility.

    The evolution of the elk is due to the grey wolf hunting it, since there were no wolves for 60 years elk numbers rose dramatically because no predator could take them down fast enough – not even humans. The reason for the reintroduction of grey wolves was to eliminate the over-populated number to a healthier level, a level that enabled plant regrowth and herd rotation. The ‘decline’ is natural and is an intended result. When the elk reach a certain point the wolf population will decline on its own. Wolves do not breed when their food supply is low and there are disputes between rival packs.

    Bottom line Layton: wolves do not eliminate their prey, it is an utter impossibility.

    Thank-you John. It seems like I’m not the only one who paid attention in biology class. 🙂

  29. avatar Cobra says:

    Just watched an amazing video on you-tube about hunting wolves in eastern Mongolia with golden eagles. Just a warning it is a bit graphic but incredible all the same. I would of never though an eagle could take a wolf down but the video is proof how incredible the eagles are.

  30. avatar John d. says:

    Wolf hunting with eagles in Mongolia (as well as Kazakhstan and India) is a recreational activity. Eagles killing wolf cubs is predatory behaviour however the act was harnessed by hunters to kill adult wolves.

  31. avatar JEFF E says:

    An interesting letter in the Casper Tribune

    [Sunday, March 22, 2009 2:06 AM MDT]

    “After being deliberately silent on the wolf issue now for over 15 years, I find I can no longer do so. Some ranchers, outfitters, and those so-called “sportsmen” for fish and wildlife have so distorted the wolf issue, it’s time for the general public to know the truth on why the wolf issue has never been solved. The bottom line is that there are large segments of the rural community that will settle for nothing less than complete annihilation of wolves in the West.

    First of all, many blame Bruce Babbitt, secretary of Interior under Clinton, for the reintroduction of the wolves in Yellowstone. He did help release the first wolves, but the decision to do the reintroduction was made during the administration of the first George Bush (the good one).

    As the introduced wolves multiplied and spread out of the park, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department was charged with coming up with a viable management plan for the wolves. A management plan by the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming was necessary so that the feds would delist the wolves.

    After a serious study and planning, the Game & Fish Department of Wyoming came up with a plan. It would designate the wolves as trophy game animals statewide, as were the bears and mountain lions. Numbers would be controlled by setting hunting seasons and the sales of licenses.

    A Game and Fish Commission meeting was scheduled for the fall of 2002 in the basement meeting room of the Antlers Motel in Jackson. The morning hours of the meeting were for routine business, with the presentation of the wolf plan set for after lunch. I was there in attendance.

    The morning session was sparsely attended but the after lunch meeting played to a standing room crowd. I found out later that Jim Magagna had a special meeting that morning with many ranchers so a plan of attack could be orchestrated in opposition to the wolf plan, although it hadn’t been submitted as yet.

    Others in attendance were staff members of the Idaho governors’ office as well as Game & Fish commissioners from Montana. They had a management plan ready to go and they did everything but get down on bended knees pleading with the Wyoming Game & Commission to adopt the plan. All three states needed federally approved plans in order to get the wolves delisted, area wide.

    The plan was discussed and cussed. Those that stacked the deck were successful and as usual, fear won out. The commission refused to embrace the work of the professionals and did not endorse the plan. Had they endorsed the plan, I’m sure a lawsuit by the rural community would have resulted, but one lawsuit handled by anyone but Judge Clarence Brimmer would have probably ended the problem.

    The commission, in refusing to adopt the plan from the professional staff, abdicated their authority and therefore allowed an amateurish part-time Legislature to assume the issue knowing full well who rules the show in that body. The commissioners at that time were Dorner (Uinta), Lundval (Park), Fleming (Carbon), Powers (Niobrara), Powers (Laramie), Sanders (Johnson) and Kreycik (Converse). Kreycik and Sanders voted for the plan and showed confidence in their professional staff. Four spineless members voted no. These were Powers, Powers, Fleming and Lundval. Chairman Dorner didn’t vote. They let numbers overrule common sense. They showed no faith in their staff and as much as told our neighbors to the north, northwest and the feds to go to hell, and here we are seven years later still producing wolves that are protected.

    I’m sure that a prior law change, having the governor appoint the Game & Fish director, helped to influence this decision. It put the department back to the early ’30s. Now you know the rest of the story.

    Those legislative rednecks need a meeting on the issue. They also need someone like Doug Crowe to explain the problem as it exists and give them a solution. He could do that in about 10 minutes.

    And shame on those nasty feds. They own about half of the state, rent most of it out to ranchers for peanuts, give us many more bucks than they collect from us, and provide thousands of good paying jobs. Why don’t we tell them to go to hell on these issues, too?

    Wolves have brucellosis? We need to farm raise grouse? Ask Doug about those items also.

    I find it difficult to believe that the good Lord would put monsters portrayed as wolves on this earth. Not four-legged ones anyhow.”

    Dick Sadler served more than 17 years in the Legislature, both as a representative and senator. Fifteen of those years were on the Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee.

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

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