Wolves in Northern Rockies and Great Lakes officially delisted May 4, 2009-

Will delisting be better the second time around?

Today for the second time in the Northern Rockies, wolves were delisted with all management decisions handed over to the states of Idaho and Montana, but not Wyoming where delisting  will not take place under Wyoming makes changes in its proposed wolf management.

Wolves were also delisted in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Lawsuits, in the form of 60-day notices (of intent to sue) were filed 30 days ago. As a result an injunction on the delisting could be in order 30 days from now. This happened before, somewhat over a year ago, when Montana’s federal district judge quickly enjoined the delisting. This prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw their entire delisting rule, but to issue a new one about 2 months after Obama took office. The primary difference between the Bush (Kempthorne) delisting and the Obama (Salazar) delisting is that Wyoming was taken out of delisting for failure to produce an acceptable state wolf conservation plan. Critics of the new delisting say the special status for Wyoming is a fatal defect in the delisting and they will argue so in court.

A number of additional groups, including the State of Wyoming, will file against the delisting rule this time around.

In the next 30 days, some wolf supporters fear a state operated wolf bloodbath, especially in Idaho. Others believe Idaho and Montana will want to show they won’t try to wipe the wolves out, and so they will not manage* — kill — very many in the immediate future.

Story in the Associated Press by Matthew Brown.Wolves off list, but legal battles loom.

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* When used in the context of wolves by state game agencies, the word “manage” always means to kill.

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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.

24 Responses to Wolves were delisted today, May 4

  1. avatar Hilljack says:

    Manage does not always mean kill. Not all wildlife managers hate wolves. As a hunter and a wildlife biologist I am sick of defending wolves from crazy people with a god complex that want to kill them all only to see garabage like that from the radical enviros who are just as ignorant to the facts. Management is doing pup counts, establishing hunting seasons and quotas, doing winter pack counts as well as indirect managment by managing prey species and managing habitat to benefit not just wolves but all species. Not all animals are cute and cuddly why don’t you start focusing on harmful invasive species like bullfrogs and starlings. Maybe you should look at domestic cats for all the damage they are doing to neotropical migrants.

  2. Hilljack,

    I don’t know how much more clearly I could have written it. Maybe boldface will do the trick.

    *When used in the context of WOLVES by state game agencies, the word “manage” always means to kill.

  3. avatar John d. says:

    Considering what Idaho wanted to do while the wolves were federally protected, asking for ‘flexibility’ and Montana’s appalling record in its reactions to depredations. Delisting gets a thumbs down from me. It always will.
    All they are doing is making the illegal legal.

    There is no ‘sound science’ when ‘managing’ (killing) predators. I know first hand what happens when livestock and hunting interests have priority over the natural ebb and flow of the ecosystem. Not a pretty picture.
    Here’s hoping that they get the protections back.

  4. avatar Jay Barr says:

    Unfortunately, in ID (and many other states), wildlife managment is typically not determined by wildlife managers (biologists, ecologists, etc.). It is the purview of THE COMMISSION!!- government (Governor) appointed body in which few, if any, of the members have a background in wildlife.

  5. avatar JB says:

    Jay Barr,

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Personally, I believe that wolf populations in the West have recovered and that the state F&G agencies are more than capable of managing these populations in a sustainable manner. However, management directives for wolves and other predators often come from game commissions or the legislature–not wildlife scientists. So, IDF&G COULD manage wolves in a sustainable manner, the question is, will the state of Idaho let them?

  6. avatar Save bears says:

    Anybody that believes there is an “Ebb and Flow” in wildlife management now a days, is doing nothing but setting themselves up for disappointment..Wildlife in this country is managed by proxy and profit over sound science!

  7. avatar John d. says:

    Take then blame, that’s the game!

  8. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Let’s see if the states can be responsible this time around. Does anyone know what the changes (if any) have been to Montana and Idaho’s plans? Maybe Wyoming will pull their heads out.

  9. avatar Jay Barr says:

    Since ID and MT plans were never an issue as far as delisting, neither state has altered anything. In fact, at least for ID, as the wolf population has increased, they will just control/harvest that many more wolves in order to get down to the 2005 (~500) wolf, commission-sanctioned population level.

  10. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Do you mean that 500 wolves is the population goal in Idaho Jay? I had thought Otter had supported killing all but 100.

  11. avatar Jay Barr says:

    In their Wolf Population Management Plan (which encompassses 5 years, possibly 2007-2012) they state that they will manage for population levels between 2005 (~500) and 2007 (~725) levels. Of course this would be subject to change by the commission at any time.

  12. If Idaho kills 26 “chronically depredating” packs, as they have suggested they will do, that is 26 x 8.3 = 216 wolves.

    Jay Barr is correct that they say they will manage for ~500-725 wolves, but 846 (the current population) minus 216 is 630 wolves. In the recent wolf forum in Pocatello that Brian Ertz and I participated in, the spokesperson for Idaho F and G said their “Clearwater Initiative” would eliminate about 140 wolves in the Upper Clearwater River area. That brings the number down to 490 wolves.

    Of course, there will be pups born, but none of the pups from the 216 + 140 wolves to be killed will survive into 2010. They will die from starvation.

    Then there is the hunting season to be.

    What I am saying is that it doesn’t look to me like they are preparing to maintain even 500 wolves.

    Note: 8.3 is the average pack size in Idaho.

  13. avatar Hilljack says:

    Killing is not the only thing covered in the term management. I think it is a significant part but the way you depict it it is the only form of management. I manage for wolves on over 100,000 acres and it has nothing to do with killing. If anything I work to shield them from human disturbance.
    From all the reading I have done all the wolves killed by the state count against the hunting quota. I think very few hunters will have a chance at taking a wolf. It is time to let the state try their hand at mantaining a viable population. If they mess it up then the commision and other elected officials that have no business managing wildlife will have to apologize to the citizens of the state while USFWS takes over managment for another 15 years.

    I really hope that doesn’t happen and wolves in Idaho and Montana start acting like all the wolves I have seen in Alaska and Canada (fear of men and less conflict). Only in the lower 48 have I had a wolf look at me for more than a second before fleeing.

    • Hilljack,

      We all know that the word “management” or “game management” normally means a wide variety of actions. It certainly does not mean only killing.. And most people understand that management connotes a lot of different actions.

      However, in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming when the state game agencies use the term in regard to wolves, it really does only mean killing, so far as I can tell. They don’t just come out and say “kill wolves,” however, because they know that the public assumes that by “management” the agencies do mean management in the normal sense of the word like you and I understand it to mean. But they don’t. When Idaho Fish and Game or an Idaho state legislator says, “we need (or want) to ‘manage’ wolves,” they truly mean, almost without exception, “we want to kill some wolves.”

  14. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Ralph, have they released a plan for the harvest for hunting season?

  15. They have set the dates for the hunt in various parts of Idaho, but they have not decided on how many tags to issue or how many wolves will be allowed to be taken before the hunting area is closed for the season.

  16. avatar Aaron Clausman says:

    Usually when you hear the word “management” in terms of wolves, it means complete, ultimate, abusive control of their lives. And what that means according to what I’ve seen in the past, all the way from the 1600s; “onslaught” is the translation.

    We’re in a time where money makes the rules, money chooses the road things take. Now, unless a lot of people have some sudden change of heart, or the wolves become aware of every human presence, or really just are hard to hunt, we may not lose as as many wolves as estimated.

    Alaska’s wolf kill program killed 1074 wolves so far since 2003, with the aid of helicopters, and 251 this season. If it is easier killing wolves in Idaho, I don’t think things are going to look pretty.

    Wolves are under controlled fire to be hanging on a thread but still just enough to at least live, in order to have the most maximum game amounts possible. Unless, of course, things suddenly change. It is a shame, wolves don’t get to play the ecological role they are meant to, which was the whole point of bringing them back.

    Here is a article by George Wuerthner, who is a hunter, but really clarifies what the truth is about this I thought.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/wuerthner04172009.html

  17. avatar Davej says:

    Couple of points:
    1) Back to the issue of “best available science”. Why is this phrase being used by anybody with regards to delisting? The issue is whether “adequate regulatory mechanisms” are in place. This is not about science. It is about politics.

    2) HillJack- Are you saying that wolves that are wary of humans, but not completely terrified, are unacceptable from the standpoint of “management”? Hmmm…. That’s like saying “management” includes a) killing and b) the effects of killing on surviving wolves. So again, what does “wolf management” really include other than killing?

  18. avatar JD says:

    So, has Gov. “Butch” bagged his first wolf yet ?
    For millions of years before we came upon the scene, Nature managed wildlife populations and will do so again long after we are gone.

  19. avatar Caleb says:

    But will there be any nature left to manage itself when we are gone? That is the question and reason to protect and sustain what nature is still somewhat existing. There are a lot of people out there who still want to destroy it.

  20. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    After the great extinction two parameciam may get together “ok, we will try again, but this time no brains.”

  21. avatar Craig says:

    IDAHO FISH AND GAME
    HEADQUARTERS NEWS RELEASE
    Boise, ID

    Date: May 4, 2009
    Contact: Ed Mitchell
    (208) 334-3700

    wolf delisting rule becomes final

    The federal rule that removes gray wolves in Idaho from the endangered species list became final today, Monday, May 4.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s delisting rule affects wolves in Idaho, Montana, parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Wolves in Wyoming will remain on the endangered species list.

    Idaho has again taken over managing wolves under state law adopted in 2008 and under a wolf population management plan also adopted last year.

    “We have to move on and manage them similar to other big game animals,” Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. “This is good news for wolves, elk, rural communities and hunters. I believe this action will help defuse the animosity and anger associated with wolves when we can manage wolves in concert with our other big game species.”

    Under state law, wolves that are molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals may be killed by livestock or animal owners without a permit from Fish and Game. But the incident must be reported to the Fish and Game director within 72 hours.

    The wolves killed would remain the property of the state. Livestock and domestic animal owners may take all nonlethal steps they deem necessary to protect their property.

    A permit must be obtained from Fish and Game to control wolves not molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals.

    Fish and Game would apply the same professional wildlife management practices to wolves that it has applied to all big game species, which all have recovered from low populations during the early 1900s. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission in March set wolf hunting seasons for the fall of 2009.

    Seasons will be from September 1 through March 31 in the Lolo and Sawtooth wolf management zones; from September 15 through December 31 in the Selway and Middle Fork zones; and elsewhere from October 1 through December 31.

    Commissioners will set harvest quotas in August. Tags are not yet available.

    Wolves were all but extirpated in Idaho by the 1930s. They were declared endangered in 1974, and a federal recovery effort brought 35 wolves to central Idaho in 1995 and 1996. Wolf population numbers have grown steadily since then.

    The wolf delisting documents are available at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.

  22. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    The plan looks good on paper but does not describe population goals. Otter has a wide open loop hole here.

  23. avatar John d. says:

    “…I believe this action will help defuse the animosity and anger associated with wolves when we can manage wolves in concert with our other big game species.”

    Yeah.. right…

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