Some of pack apparently killed 12 totally unguarded sheep-

I may not have a update until late today, but apparently Idaho’s one semi-protected wolf pack killed 12 sheep of an Idaho nobleman. Defenders of Wildlife has had a major project to keep the wolves and the annual invasion of sheep apart in the general area of the upper Wood River.

Earlier I didn’t have time to post the news story in the media. I had to go visit another area where I suspected cattle or sheep growers were poaching the public’s grass. They didn’t disappoint me. They were.

Here is the story.  Wolves kill 12 sheep. Phantom Hill wolf pack could be targeted by F&G. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. The sheep were on public land in Baker Creek.

♣ Related story posted August 14. This is very interesting story in the way the news is framed

Gooding sheep rancher backs off of wolf kill after herd attacked. Phantom Hill pack took dozen sheep this week. By Karen Bossick. Times-News correspondent

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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.

134 Responses to Kill order out on Phantom Hill Pack

  1. avatar Dawn says:

    Need to start guarding the sheep then I’d say. Perhaps own more sheep dogs to protect them. I just hate hearing such news that helps to threaten the lives of the wild and endangered wolf. I love all creatures, sheep and wolf. We need to be smart enough to protect our flocks by not having to slaughter another species.

  2. avatar JimT says:

    I echo the sentiment. Why is the noble Lords of Ranching get to escape any kind of accountability and professional standards in managing any of the types of livestock they keep? Data shows guard dogs work, and it has to be cheaper than losing the sheep. Again, it just seems to point in the direction of the ranchers, despite their pounding their hearts when go on and on about their cows or sheep, are very willing to use them as bait to get wolf packs killed. And DOW is on the hook to reimburse them. Should part of any federal lands grazing permit to have minimum, EFFECTIVE methods of protection employed, or get fined or lose your permit.

  3. The wolves will be easy to find. IDFG has put radio collars on at least two wolves in this pack.
    Is this Idaho nobleman the same one fined years ago for dumping his sheep dip insecticide containers into Fish Creek? Is it the same one who doesn’t pay for his sheep grazing on state sections because he can graze them there for free because the state doesn’t fence him out?
    Is is against the law to name the livestock owners whenever there is a wolf depredation on livestock resulting in wolves being killed?

  4. avatar kt says:

    Another example of lawless public lands grazing.

    People assume the ranchers WANT to protect their sheep. Several of these jokers don’t care. You have to understand that these sheepmen have many tens of thousands of sheep (more sheep = more taxpayer susbsidies), and they like nothing better than having predator blood shed so they can continue to dominate all.

    Kind of like vampires … they feed on blood, death and destruction. Makes them feel confident that they still are in charge – and with a wacko like Otter running the state – he has given them even every reason to feel secure in flaunting their disdain for any controls – You know, like having herders with the sheep … little things like that.

    So much for Defenders Sleeping with Sheep.

  5. avatar Ryan says:

    Nice senastionialism.. What actually happened? Were they killed on private or public ground? The whole story would be nice before the peanut gallery chimes in.

  6. avatar timz says:

    What is “senastionialism”?

  7. avatar John d. says:

    Didn’t take long did it?
    Good job Idaho, you’re like Queensland in many ways. Nice on the outside, rotten in the inside.
    Note: Its not entirely offensive if you catch the play on words.

    Unprotected sheep… might as well have put up a sign with big bold letters: “KILL THEM”.

  8. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I’m surprised it took this long for the wolves to have a kill order. Typical case of a rancher not being held accountable. I do agree with Ryan though, it would be nice to see the whole story.

    John d, what do you mean by Queensland? I don’t get the play on words. I agree though that the sheep might as well have had signs like that on them. Or they could just as well have been dipped in bacon grease so that wolves and bears would smell them and be attracted to them.

  9. I have put up the entire story now. I had to leave early to see if some cattle folks were trespassing into a closed BLM area near where I live.

    They were. They had stripped the canyon and were moving the cows out with guilty looks on their faces.

  10. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    So who makes the decision that the pack will be destroyed? Is there any way pressure can be put on them to leave it intact?

    I agree it would be valuable to know who owned the sheep, or the allotment number. If the location is known, like Baker Creek, is there a place to find who leases in that area?

    Where do all these sheep end up after sale? I never buy any lamb or mutton in the store, the price is exorbitant and hardly anyone wears wool anymore.

  11. I’m doublecheckding, but I think they were Faulkner’s Yes. Faulkner.

    The article fails to mention that the 12,000 sheep currently present in the “upper valley” are on PUBLIC lands.

  12. avatar John d. says:

    In Queensland, a lot of livestock owners say that they’re getting the short end of the stick with dingo depredation (minor as it is) when most don’t make an effort to protect their livestock other than by hiring a ‘family friend’ to come ‘deal with’ them.

    There is no thorough inspection to see if it was a dingo that did it or extensive thought on how to to quell the problem by other means. Its blame -> lure animals back onto the property -> shoot at close range -> then brag to the mates about shooting ‘vicious feral dogs’.

  13. avatar John d. says:

    The post above was for Prowolf.

  14. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Thanks for the clarification John d.

  15. avatar JimT says:

    Most if not all of these ranchers couldn’t make a go of it without federal welfare subsidies for grazing on public lands for next to nothing, and virtually enforcement free.

    So, tell me, where is it written that these folks are entitled to make a living doing a particular activity that is dependent on Federal subsidies which come from taxpayers from all over the country..even..GASP..the liberal academics of the East? I was talking to my wife the other day, and on my “In My Lifetime List”, the number one wish is for Glen Canyon Dam to be permanently breached. Ending public land grazing is rapidly climbing the list to occupy the #2 position. Enough is enough. They have had countless opportunities to mend their ways, comply with the laws and regs and good husbandry practices, and just continue to spit in the faces of the regulators. Get them off public lands, and let them make their living on their own lands..if they can.

  16. avatar steve c says:

    Too bad the environmental groups cant sue the livestock producers directly for negligence.

    Is Queensland a Larry Craig reference?

  17. avatar John d. says:

    Nope. Just a state who’s wildlife are under the direct [mis]management by the Department of Primary Industries.

    Directly from Queensland DPI:
    “Dingoes and wild dogs are declared pests. The Act places a responsibility on all landholders to take reasonable steps to keep their lands free of these declared pests. There are penalties of up to $30,000 for the release and/or feeding of wild dogs and dingoes.”
    The ‘reasonable steps’ involve trapping, shooting and poisoning (a livestock grower I met said baits placed by government authorities killed more of her cattle than depredations ever did). Nice way to treat endangered species isn’t it?

  18. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    John d, I believe South Dakota has a similar law regarding prairie dogs. I’m not sure of the wording but landowners are required to control prairie dogs on their land.

  19. avatar Brian Ellway says:

    Looks like Faulkner and F&G have agreed to give the Phantom Hill Pack a reprieve for now.

  20. Brian Ellway,

    Thanks for the information.

  21. avatar John d. says:

    Thing is the dingo is not a pest – it is a critically endangered keystone predator. Its presence has dramatic effects on feral species [particularly foxes, rabbits, goats, dogs and cats] and keeps roos off of pastures. A free service that is repeatedly ignored by farmers and Australian/international sport hunters. The Victoria State Government recently removed the ‘pest’ status and redefined the species as ‘endangered’ finally realising that they were shooting themselves in the foot by killing them. Farmers still get to shoot them if the kill is verified… so they still complain – so far Victoria is the only state to do this. Though it can be easily sidestepped by calling the dead animal a ‘feral dog’ – as is the normal practice throughout the country.

    My point being is that the DPI is directly mismanaging wildlife making the rest of the landscape including its flora and fauna suffer because of livestock grower interests – not to mention the tidy profit by poison producing companies (the production of Sodium Fluroacetate [aka 1080] to be precise). The U.S. and Australia have a lot in common – coincidentally the traps made to trap dingos are the same brand [currently using the same ‘poor farmer’ story] used to trap grey wolves in the United States during the early 1900’s.

  22. avatar timz says:

    Brian or Ralph could you elaborate, I can’t find an update?

  23. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Ralph, I hope you got pictures of them removing the evidence. (“I had to leave early to see if some cattle folks were trespassing into a closed BLM area near where I live. They were. They had stripped the canyon and were moving the cows out with guilty looks on their faces.”)

    I doubt it had any effect but, this afternoon, I wrote to the IDFW deploring their proposed action regarding the Phantom Hill pack sheep incident. Perhaps many others did also and initiated a (temporary?) change of action.

  24. avatar JB says:

    “…the decision was reached after Gooding rancher John Faulkner requested that the wolves be given a reprieve.”

    I’m guessing Defenders deserves some Kudos?

  25. avatar Save bears says:

    JB, that is the problem, most people are guessing…

  26. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    JimT,
    Glen Canyon Dam removal is a noble goal. What a mistake to build! Perhaps worse even than Dworshak Dam, on the North Fork of the Clearwater in Idaho, which wiped out spawning areas for andromenous fish species and much winter range for elk, mule and white-tailed deer.

  27. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    John d, what do people hunt in Australia? I guess in my mind the main wildlife I picture is kangaroos which doesn’t seem like much of a trophy animal. Do people debate a lot about dingoes’ wild or feral status? Every source I have read says they originated from feral dogs and so have wolf ancestry. You mentioned 1080. Does anyone know if that is still legal in the US?
    Anyone have any idea why the rancher wanted to give the wolves a reprieve? Was Defenders in on that? He deserves kudos for deciding to be proactive.

  28. avatar John d. says:

    I think it may also have something to do with the pack being well known. I doubt IDF&G wants a “Limpy” scenario.

  29. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Limpy?

  30. avatar John d. says:

    Most of the animals hunted are feral animals, but because the method is seen as more of a passtime than an orgnised effort to get rid of them, hunting does little to stop the damage caused or greatly impact their numbers (given that they are allowed time to breed). As for the native targets, Australian hunters kill just about anything from kangaroos down to gallahs and fruit bats, and here’s the biggest insult – some hunting lobbies want to have deer protected as a game species.

    Dingos are often misnamed ‘feral dogs’ because to the layman they look like the family pet. This is the innocent view. The not-so-innocent view is that the dingo is called a feral dog just so a hunter or farmer does not get metaphorically slapped for killing what is perceived by the general public as a native animal and national icon.
    Keep the people dumb and you also keep them quiet.

  31. avatar John d. says:

    “Limpy” of the Druid Pack, famous for travelling to Oregon and being the first confirmed wolf seen in that state for over fifty years. Shot on the first day of wolf delisting in Wyoming, creating a massive outpouring of negativity from fans nationally and internationally.

  32. avatar JB says:

    Actually, he (#253) traveled from YNP to Utah (not Oregon) where he was caught in a coyote trap and subsequently returned to the park.

  33. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    The Phantoms attacked an unattended band of 320 head of ewes in Newman Creek, a tributary to Baker Creek. As far as I know, it was the first night of the grazing season in the upper Big Wood sheep allotments when sheep were left alone on a mountain. Defenders could tell you exactly what happened, but from talking to herders and USFS personnel, I learned that there was miscommunication, and it was thought that all the sheep were in the corral area for shipping. The Phantoms were scared away from the corral area in the night, and found the unattended ewes farther up the drainage.

    The latest sheep mortality count is 19 or 20. From observing previous sheep-wolf encounters, probably not all the sheep died outright, but died of their puncture wounds. Perhaps if they had been doctored, some would have survived. When wolves get into sheep, it’s not like taking down an elk where the pack’s efforts are focused on one animal. Adult ewes and wolves are about the same size, but a sheep is a totally defenseless animal.

    There was a guard dog that got bit, but I saw him today, and he was walking stiff, but otherwise looked ok. All of the sheep were penned last night and moved onto the Boulder Mountain side of the Baker Creek allotment this morning. I was dismayed and alarmed to see the sheep grazing within a mile of the pack’s rendezvous site, but then noticed to USFS personnel present, who told me the sheep were passing through and would not linger.

    As frustrating as it is, to work on public lands grazing, this is an example of where certain people working with a very powerful Idaho sheep rancher, were able to change his mind, thus have IDFG changed its position on a lethal control order to kill Phantoms wolves. At least for now.

    This last band of sheep, which came over from Willow Creek near Fairfield (where some of us were very worried about the Soldier Mt Pack wolves and sheep), is moving toward Galena Summit and into the Salmon River country. Until the band leaves the Big Wood River and goes into the Headwaters of the Salmon River, there will be Defenders of Wildlife personnel with the band at night. After that, I’m told the night time guarding will stop. This could mean disaster for the Phantoms, who do go over the pass at times.

  34. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    I’ll add this, if anyone knows higher ups in Defenders of Wildlife, please contact them and ask their Wood River guardian program of having at least one person at night with a sheep band, continue into the Sawtooth Valley. At least into Headwaters canyon and Frenchman Creek.

    In order to be safe, sheep need to be near the sheep wagon at night, or penned with guard dogs and a human presence a few feet away.

    What often happens in the Sawtooth Valley (and almost everywhere else on a sheep allotment), is that the sheep wagon is one place, and the sheep maybe be 1-2 miles away at night. This is a recipe for disaster for the Phantoms or any other wolves. There has already been one Phantom Hill wolf killed near Smiley Creek in the Sawtooth Valley in June. She was a yearling female, and there had been 3 sheep killed. Traps were set, she got caught first and shot by Wildlife Services. She wasn’t guilty, but that doesn’t matter.

  35. avatar John d. says:

    JB
    Thank you for the correction.

  36. avatar JB says:

    No worries!

  37. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    It sounds like Australia and the US are more similar than I thought. Interesting to hear about other places.

    As frustrating as it is, to work on public lands grazing, this is an example of where certain people working with a very powerful Idaho sheep rancher, were able to change his mind, thus have IDFG changed its position on a lethal control order to kill Phantoms wolves. At least for now.

    You are right Lynne, this is a very good thing. If this can be done with other sheep and cattle ranchers than we can actually get somewhere.

  38. avatar Jay says:

    Lynne, just curious–how would you possibly know whether or not that wolf was involved with killing the livestock in Smiley Creek?

  39. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    As frustrating as it is, to work on public lands grazing, this is an example of where certain people working with a very powerful Idaho sheep rancher, were able to change his mind, thus have IDFG changed its position on a lethal control order to kill Phantoms wolves

    This brings 2 questions to mind :

    1. if i were to hold a gun to your head and threaten your life, then lower the weapon – would it be appropriate, rational, or right to suggest that i ought be thanked for saving your life ?

    that’s exactly what the line of reason above does.

    2. Why are ranchers determining wildlife management policy ?

    talking about how successful this program is “working” given this situation is rediculous. it buys right in to the idea that the Phantoms are indeed the responsible actors when sheep are killed. The whole “sleeping with sheep” program frames the situation as ‘sheep need protected from big bad wolf’ – i.e. the wolves are to blame when anything goes wrong — that’s not true, it’s not representative of the rest of the wolves’ fate in the state of Idaho, and it’s not replicable across the rest of the state — where wolves are dying all the time as a result of irresponsible public land use.

    The Phantoms will kill domestic sheep again – as they should, it’s their ecological niche to do so. what will happen then ? will we thank the irresponsible managers or ranchers who fail to properly manage their animals for their benevolent mercy ? will we give them authority to make the decision ? will phantoms die because we continue to buy-in to the bullshit premise that it ought be up to environmentalists and the wolves themselves to keep Faulkner’s sheep alive while they graze for next to nothing on wild landscapes that belong to us all ?

  40. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    Jay – No one knows which wolf or wolves or wolf pack it was. As you probably know, to Wildlife Services it doesn’t matter which wolves killed the sheep, only that a wolf dies because of it. It could have been that a lone wolf killed the sheep, then the Phantoms showed up and the yearling put her foot into a trap and was shot. The wolf trapped the next day was gray, and I’m assuming he was a Galena wolf as he’s still in the Sawtooth Valley. I’ve asked IDFG in Salmon, for DNA results then we’ll know for sure whether the yearling female was a Phantom or not. I’d say 99% sure she was, as the Phantoms were in the area at that time.

  41. avatar Erin Rager says:

    I have gratitude for the rancher. Thank you for saying no.
    Do not kill any wolves. We really need to figure out how to
    share the same food chain with them.
    If they were still our companions, I guess we could figure it out.

  42. avatar David m Soule says:

    You got to love it, all the nobleman comments about a rancher that in the end saved the wolves. Smart rancher, he looses 13 sheep and tells the IDGF let the wolves be and now he when the wolves kill more he can declare open season because he has in the past protected the animal. And he will say i really hated doing it but it was becoming to much. If the wolves are to stay their numbers need to be cut back, alot. ID has lost to much money this year from nonres hunters not showing up, some of you may cheer but this will spell disaster for the wolves if ID keeps loosing money the cause of the loss will be purged. And when it happens the ranchers can show how clean thier hands are by saying i tried to keep them alive i even told the IDGF not to kill em.

  43. David m Soule,

    We had an earlier post and thread about the recent decline in out-of-state hunters to Idaho. You might want to read it.

    Idaho Fish and Game and the outfitters have themselves to blame. After a decide of telling the world that all the deer and elk have all been killed by wolves, did they think non-resident hunters wouldn’t believe them and go somewhere else?

  44. Brian-
    The sleeping with the sheep program is designed to keep wolves from getting killed. The facts on the ground are that the wolves will get the Wildlife Services Extermination Treatment if they kill domestic sheep. Let’s applaud the Defenders efforts and John Faulkner for working with them.
    Trying to keep wolves alive is new to all of us and while we may disagree with different methods, if something saves wolves from being killed, let’s support it.
    I am sending this reply from the Wood River Valley where I hope to see for myself what is going on. There are lots of campers and hikers in the Baker Creek area and they all seem to have a dog. The Phantom Pack has not been very aggressive towards dogs when you consider all of the opportunities running around up here.

  45. avatar Ryan says:

    “Idaho Fish and Game and the outfitters have themselves to blame. After a decide of telling the world that all the deer and elk have all been killed by wolves, did they think non-resident hunters wouldn’t believe them and go somewhere else?”

    Ralph,

    Do you have any proof to back up this Hypothesis stated in the other thread. Do they tell their clients when they call not to come because of the wolves etc?

  46. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Larry,
    the sleeping with sheep program is the program IDFG & WS claimed that they were supporting when they collared 2 more Phantoms this year.

    Let’s applaud the Defenders efforts and John Faulkner for working with them.

    I’ll be waiting for your applause on the collaring of 2 Phantom wolves in support of the Sleeping with Sheep program.

    Compensation of ranchers for wolf-killed livestock was designed to keep wolves from getting killed (by raising “tolerance”). I’ll be waiting for your applause on that program.

    Both programs are apologetic — both hold wolves accountable, as responsible – when livestock are killed on public wildlands. This apologetic posture – pretending like wolves & livestock can co-exist with ranchers acting just as they have always acted (without regard for the natural world) are distractions from the reality that conflict begins at the land-use. the Phantoms killing 12 domestic sheep becomes the focus of the problem – rather than asking the question – what the hell are these ranchers doing out there. it’s poor and mismanaged use of public lands – sloppy ranching – that creates the conditions that kill wolves – wolves are just doing what they do.

    and lastly, I’ll ask you – what happens to wolves outside of this little ‘safe-zone’ ? – i’ll even ask, how does Faulkner act when his sheep are killed by wolves on other Forests ? what happens to those wolves outside the purview of the affluent Wood River Valley ?

    As much as I love my family’s experience of watching the Phantom wolves – as much as I am grateful for their relative safety (which is sketchier & sketchier) – I am not morally comfortable supporting the standard that they should live or die based on Faulkner’s good-will, based on the well-being of Faulkner’s sheep. That’s the standard that this program sets up. It’s wrong.

  47. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    Last night the Faulkner sheep wagon was at Spring Creek a few miles east of Galena Lodge. The sheep were in the Boulder Mountains above, in a fladry pen. The herder told me that today (Friday) they will move toward Galena Pass (if I understood his Espanol correctly).

  48. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    P.S. – Larry -I agree with your last posting. I’d like to bury the hatchet with you and am sorry for past tense words between us.

  49. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    protecting sheep is not protecting wolves — it’s just delaying the inevitable & emboldening their right to kill wolves to boot. weak

  50. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Larry, I agree. Efforts to keep wolves alive should be applauded. If a livestock producer is willing to work with other organizations like this it shows a good example for others.

    Ryan, the outfitters and Idaho Fish and Game have done a pretty good job (saveelk.com, for example) of advertising how bad the hunting is because of wolves. I was looking for a job in Idaho about two years ago and one of the would-be supervisors told a huge crowd of people how dangerous it was in the area because of wolves. Do they think people will feel sorry for them? No, people will not come. If Disney World started saying that their rides were dangerous is that going to get people to come? What if a tourist board in Washington, DC started saying that people should not visit because the crime was too high? What did these outfitters think was going to happen? People listen to advertisements. I’m guessing Wyoming and Montana have not had this problem because they are not advertising it.

  51. avatar Ryan says:

    Pro,

    Saveelk isn’t sponsored by outfitters to my knowledge or anywhere on there webpage. There are some outfitters that have shut down outside of Yellowstone to my knowledge, but most of the Idaho ones I know are still in business and will gladly book you a hunt. Do you have any proof or just an Hypothesis?

  52. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    The only real proof I have is this article from this site. http://wolves.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/id-fish-and-game-outfitter-ads/. However, word of mouth is effective and if in fact people are talking like you see in these posts, then it would be an effective deterrent. If people are even continually griping without actually advertising, then people are still not going to come. Maybe this is a hypothesis, but it does seem like a pretty logical one.

  53. avatar Ryan says:

    Thats not much in the way of proof as ralph added his own spin to it in the description. Alot of people do mention wolves when talking about Idaho’s elk hunting, but to put the blame squarely on outfitters is a stretch at best as it is not in their best interest to tell people how shitty hunting in Idaho is in the same sentance as trying to book them to hunt there. From what I’ve read and heard so far on both sides of this issue, the truth and science have no place in this debate anymore. 🙁

  54. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    From what I’ve read and heard so far on both sides of this issue, the truth and science have no place in this debate anymore.

    What do you mean?

  55. avatar Ryan says:

    Wolves in the GYE and all of the news.

  56. avatar David m soule says:

    Mr Ralph Maughn

    Yeah was able to read the topic on the outfitters, that one or one similar i posted a reply. thanks for the reply.

  57. Ryan,

    I agree it isn’t their interest — the outfitters — but they have been complaining publicly, telling the national media, since about the year 2000.

  58. Brian
    As you know I do not like radio collars. The collars are being put on the wolves to make it easy for Wildlife Services to kill them. An IDFG employee is in the upper Wood River area this morning trying to trap one to put a GPS collar it so it will be even easier to find the pack if a decision is reached to retaliate for the killing of domestic sheep. I was told that the Wildlife Services agent was the one most opposed to killing the Phantom Pack this week. I think they are concerned about the bad press they would they would get from the killing of this pack.
    I think a continued outcry by local residents in the Sun Valley area could go long way in saving this pack. A non-hunting designation for the Wood River above Ketchum is a good start, if it could be done. There are a lot of people around that like wolves. I sold $1000 worth of wolf photos at the Mountain Mamas Art Show in Stanley a few weeks ago.
    If a wolf season does start in Idaho, the “harvested” wolves will have to be checked through an IDFG hunter check station. It might be a good idea to post the locations of these stations and have some videos and photos taken of the dead wolves. Most of the wolves shot at the start of the season are going to be the pups who won’t have a clue about what is going on. Photos of hunters posing with 50 lb dead wolf pups on the national news have to be the IDFGs greatest nightmare.
    IDFG says they want to treat wolves as a valued game animal. As I testified at one of their meetings, We do not shoot cougars with kittens or bears with cubs, how can we justify shooting wolves with pups?
    On a lighter note. I was contacted recently by the National Geographic Society to send them ten photos of wolves from my website for possible use in an upcoming feature on Yellowstone Wolves. I will know if any get used by mid-September.

  59. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Ralph,
    For clarificaton, while there is much being said about the impacts of wolf predation on big game in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho – elk in particular – the Dept. of Fish and Game has not “advertised” that wolves are eating all of Idaho’s elk. We have strong elk populations in most of the state.
    We have made it known however that elk numbers in the Lolo and Sawtooth elk management zones are seriously depressed – by wolf predation. The science (years of high quality elk and wolf population radio-telemetry data) is clear. Wolf predation is depressing elk production well below what we should expect for the habitat quality in those zones. Elk habitat quality was following a natural, declining trend after the 1910 fires. The depressed elk production and the factors contributing to that depression is a combination of habitat quality AND substantial wolf predation on productive cow and calf elk.
    This is a critically important issue for Idahoans on both sides of the wolf management issue – those who support state management of wolves and the state wolf management plan and those who do not. Wolves are here to stay and WILL have effects on other components of our wildlife resources (of which wolves are also), elk e.g., that will challenge wildlife managers and the public to find biologically and socially sustainable middle ground solutions for. This is an important forum for exploring alternative solutions.

  60. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    IDFG says they want to treat wolves as a valued game animal.
    Why is that so hard to believe?

    Larry, congratulations on your photos. Hopefully you will get them published.

  61. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Larry,
    Are you going to contribute to the story? Do you know who is writing the story. The only way to save wolves or bison is to get national exposure.
    Good luck.

  62. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    IDFG has already launched a wolf hunting season at Stanley for two ranching families, the Pivas and Neiders. The Basin Butte wolves are accused of killing a calf at Neiders and a cow on Pivas in early August. As a result, IDFG wants to kill five wolves. Two subadults have already been trapped and shot by Wildlife Services. This leaves three wolves for the ranchers or their agents to hunt and kill on or within 1/2 mile of their property or federal grazing allotment.

    On the Jay Neider kill permit, a well known wolf opponent, Nate Helm is listed. He is Jay Neider’s son-in-law. There are a total of SIX people listed on the Neider permit, and SIX on the Piva permit.

    One of these men, Josh Larmamie, shot a two-year Basin Butte wolf last June, who was hunting squirrels in a meadow 70 yards from the Piva cattle. He got off with a warning. Now he can legally shoot three Basin Butte wolves, including any of the four pups, as he makes his morning rounds. I see him nearly every day.

    I know that in the past, Pivas had been given a radio with the frequencies of the Basin Butte collared wolves. It’s likely that Neiders also have it.

    You might have thought the wolf hunt was going to start on Sept. 1st, but it’s under way right now.

  63. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    To Mark from IDFG – I lived in Stanley for 9 years and watched the hunting seasons take place, which started with archery season for all of September, then a special hunt to thin out cow elk on the Sawtooth Mt side, then the open antlered bull elk (anyone could buy a tag, no limits), the cow and calf hunting season, and then the month long November long muzzle loader slaughter. Oh, last year, there was a special hunt right around town for cows – I think that was for 10 or 12 tags.

    When I spoke to IDFG Salmon region supervisor Jim Lukens about all the cows and calves that were getting killed, as they came down to winter range, I was told and I wrote this down: “We don’t want wintering elk in Stanley.”

    So now, the drop in elk numbers, is all the fault of the wolves. As you can see by my previous e-mail, IDFG is getting a jump start on the Sept. 1 wolf slaughter, by issuing kill permits to 12 individuals.

    For any media reading this website, please come to Idaho and witness the wolf hunt, or for that matter, the persecution now taking place against the Basin Butte wolves. I will be happy to assist you in filming the killing, and the parading of the “trophy”.

  64. avatar Chuck says:

    I have never seen a state agency such as IDFG back peddal so much in my life. At the meeting in Boise they said the low cow/calf recruitment in those zones were not because of wolves but for other reasons. Then just to make the pro wolf people happy they they take a positive stance on having wildlife viewing areas. Now they are saying the recruitment is low because of wolves and they don’t even mention wildlife viewing areas. I think the whole lot of them need to become unemployed right quick like. They are doing nothing but wasting tax payer money. I believe last year was the last year I will ever waste my money on an Idaho hunting license, time to look else where. Then with the IDFG giving the frequencies to the ranchers to be able to go out and find and kill them is just wrong. I contacted Michael Lucid to get a better idea on where to go to see an Idaho wolf and maybe get a picture, do you think he would even give me any ideas on where to go look…no way, because he said I would use that information to go kill the wolves once a season openned up. This whole bunch makes me sick.

  65. Chuck,

    I think you see a state agency that is really getting pushed around by larger political forces. You also see the advantage of the ranchers in the whole process. Some people like to complain and worry about hunters, but I have always pointed to livestock operators as the major threat to wolves, bears, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and elk.

    I feel bad for them (IDF and G), but not too bad. The agency needs to be made truly independent of partisan politics. You can’t ever take all politics out of any government activity, but there could be much more balance in the groups that are represented on the Commission and requirements that commissioners have some real wildlife experience. None of this, I love to hunt, I love cows (and I really love the governor), so I am qualified.

  66. JB,

    Do you have any thoughts about how to reform wildlife agencies that are under partisan or domination by an unrepresentative group or collection of them?

  67. avatar JB says:

    Ralph,

    Ironically, last night I was reading Martin Nie’s piece on wolf management in the 2004 edited volume, “People and Predators: from Conflict to Coexistence.” Although this section of text concerns wolf management Alaska, it seems particularly appropriate given your question:

    “The Funding Dilemma
    If Alaska is any guide, future conflict over wolf management will be driven in part by perceptions of agency capture due to game-based budgetary incentives. Some interest in Alaska question any predator control decision made by ADFG because they believe such decisions are based on economic interest not good biology or public values and opinion…Language in some state wolf plans foreshadows similar conflict. Idaho’s wolf plan, for example, state: ‘The wolf population will be managed at recovery levels that will ensure viable, self-sustaining populations until it can be established that wolves in increasing numbers will not adversely affect big game populations, the economic viability of IDFG, outfitters and guides, and others who depend on a viable population of big game animals'” (p. 214).

    Personally, I think the problem goes well beyond economic capture. Most agencies–especially in the West–have an unwritten rule about who gets hired: If you don’t hunt, don’t apply. This rule encourages homogeneity of opinion, which, on value-driven issues such as what to do about wolves, can be largely culturally-derived. Thus, even if you change the economics of hunting by changing the funding structure, it will take considerable time for the agency’s “hunter-first” culture and its associated values to change.

    Moreover, in states like Utah and Idaho you have the additional problem of powerful livestock interests that have inordinate influence on the legislature. In a sense, these agencies are twice captured: They must appease both hunters and livestock interests to keep cash flowing. Finally, they also must deal with a public that is increasingly distrustful of the government and increasingly willing to weigh in on such issues.

    State agencies are stuck in a political game in which they have very little power to affect the outcome and in which all of the players at the table appear increasingly hostile.

  68. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    The bighorn sheep issue is a profound example of the lost credibility that IDFG squandered in Cowtowing to ranching interests over the interests of proper wildlife management.

    Mark, I respect the position that you’re in & the fact that you took the time to contribute your thoughts on this forum. That’s big & it’s welcome. But having sit in on the bighorn working group & watching that process unfold – including the auction tag being pulled out from WSF & granted to SFW – having read the memos & understanding the history with Brackett et al on the Dave Parrish demotion fiasco – and most importantly, watching IDFG cave to politically powerful ranchers and their surrogates at WS apply aggressive pressure to liberally spite-kill wolves in the most arbitrary fashion & without any regard to actual culpability — I must say : all the good faith that may or may not be coming from you & the boots on the ground at IDFG is no substitute for the lost legitimacy associated with these indications of a deeply politicized department.

    I am not principly opposed to a hunt on wolves – my advocacy has more to do with ecosystem function, as you mention, and its preclusion associated with public lands ranching – including impact to big game populations – that said, IDFG’s policy on wolf depredation of livestock is archaic and wrong. “problem wolves” are more often than not associated with problem livestock operations on public ground & IDFG has no mechanism for halting public expenditures associated with “controls” even when it is flagrantly apparent that there is negligence – as on the East Fork of the Salmon & in & around Stanley as 2 examples – one of which Lynne describes above.

    Good luck with the upcoming circus. & please direct your staff to respond to the public’s information act requests – it’s been a hell of a time & I think it’s really disengenous to be asking for good-faith trust when we get the cold shoulder on requests for documents associated with the state’s management of wolves. What’s IDFG hiding ?

  69. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Mark,

    How much does habitat quality contribute to the ability of wolves to predate on elk? It seems that when elk habitat quality is poor or there are far more elk in an area than the land can support without impacting the health of the resources the number of elk will decline regardless of wolf predation. Two areas come to mind, the Clearwater and the Northern Range of the Yellowstone. Many factors contributed to elk declines in each of these areas but in both there were many elk which were in sub-standard health which means that they are more vulnerable to predation.

    In Yellowstone the habitat was not necessarily declining to low levels but the elk were protected from hunting and their numbers were unnaturally high until the late season hunt, a few bad winters, and wolf reintroduction ultimately had an effect.

    In the Clearwater the habitat has been declining, there has been hunting, and wolf predation has played a role in limiting elk numbers. But the big question seems to be – Are the wolves the underlying issue and will killing 80% of the wolves there make a difference in the underlying issue? It seems to me that killing wolves in large numbers may have an effect on elk numbers but soon more wolves will enter the area and the cycle will have to perpetually repeated while the underlying issue-HABITAT – will be ignored. The Clearwater is a forest – a relatively wet one at that- , it is not the best elk habitat and the numbers of elk seen in earlier times will never be seen unless there are stand replacing fires like those in 1910 and extreme care taken to avoid a monoculture of spotted knapweed in its place.

    My feeling is that people and agencies need to quit placing the blame solely/primarily on wolves and let the reality of the issue sink in. Wolves eat elk, and elk are not innocuous on the landscape when they exist in unnaturally high numbers. That system is an integral part of each species and it has value of its own.

    I see declining elk populations as a sign that elk populations are at levels which the land cannot support. It is not unnatural to see fluctuating populations of anything.

    Wildlife management should not be solely for the benefit of hunters, agriculture and livestock interests and the ecological services of an intact and properly functioning system should be the larger goal. I know that is hard for a fish and game agency person to hear because I previously worked for IDFG at a low level. It was made clear on numerous occasions that most of what IDFG did was to provide hunting and fishing opportunities but that sole focus has had many negative results and comes at the expense of many important systems and values.

    The recent attitude of the IDFG has been to hide information from wolf advocates and deny requests for that information. Wildlife Services outright ignores FOIA requests. The USFWS did nothing when a WS agent killed 2 wolves using M44’s in known wolf territory near Riggins a couple of years ago and has ignored FOIA requests. Schemes by WS and IDFG of aggressive wolf management have been discovered leaving the public to wonder what their true motives behind wolf management really are. This smacks of secrecy and contributes to the distrust of anything these agencies do.

    If the IDFG and other agencies want anyone to trust them they will be more forthcoming with information. I hear the stories, and you know what I’m talking about.

  70. avatar JB says:

    Ralph,

    Sorry, I just realized I never really answered your question. As you mentioned, we won’t ever have government agencies that are wholly separated from political influence. However, I think a few actions that would help are:

    (1) Diversify employees of state agencies. Right now, agencies (especially those in positions of power) look like our senate–full of aging, white men. Worse, they’re full of aging, white men from rural backgrounds who hunt and fish. Mind you, I fish and have hunted; I don’t have a problem with either. I do have a problem with any government entity being so heavily weighted toward one particular group.

    (2) Diversify funding sources. I believe hunters and anglers should pay for the privilege of having the opportunity to harvest wild game, and this money should go back to help conserve the habitat on which those game species depend. But hunters make up a small fraction of the population, and the agendas they push are shaping the conservation and management of resources that belong to EVERYONE. A tax on field glasses, photography equipment etc. to match PR and DJ funds would be a great start. Since there is so much commerce in these areas the tax could be relatively small. And if the tax was federal (again similar to PR/DJ), this would prevent state legislatures made up of interests opposed conservation from meddling with agency budgets.

    (3) Remove any and all authority of state boards of game/commissions. These entities are just another way for entrenched political interests to ensure their agendas dominate. They should be replaced by (and by now you’re getting sick of this word) a DIVERSE group of stakeholders who provide consultation, but do not have any overt power to influence processes/outcomes.

    Well that’s a start. Anyone else have any ideas?

  71. Thanks JB,

    Yes that was the question I was asking. If there isn’t reform, I think all the wildlife will be privatized — turned into livestock — except token populations in national parks.

  72. avatar DB says:

    JB makes excellent points it seems to me, and while #2 and 3 may seem most relevant, important, whatever, don’t discount the value of a younger, more diverse, more widely experienced workforce. Look how the makeup of the Forest Service has changed in the past 15-20 years. I don’t think many would argue it has not made for an agency that has changed for the better. Perhaps IDFG is going that way too, but the pressures of the commission, legislature and funding priorities negate those gains. It must be frusterating for the employees, too.

  73. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Ralph, is there anywhere in the world where wildlife is privatized?

  74. avatar Erin Rager says:

    Thank you for moderating me. It is important to
    communicate clearly. I am not a human that loves
    pictures of wolves on my wall. I am a human that at the
    ages of 7 thru 13 was raised with a North American Red Timber Wolf. I know the truth. I have ventured here as a result of searching the internet about a Discovery Video I purchased that had no sound. Living with Wolves, the “Sawtooth pack of Idaho”, and its humble beginnings, i assume. I went to their website and found out that wolves were on the verge
    of being hunted again.

    How can we help change the conception of many generations of conditioning to fear wolves?

    So I have been sitting with the “Why”…Solve the problem.
    Wolves go beyound being a “Preditor”, in the wild, and yes,
    any attempt at domestication causes them harm. It does shorten their life span. Case example, We would, on a weekly basis, take “Wolf” (Of course that was his name),
    out by the American River, then east of Sacramento, and let him hunt and eat rabbits. It was a family outing. As we stopped doing this as I got older and my parents divorced,
    Wolf aged. As I am an Adult looking back on a childs experience, it is easy for me to see that we need to live seperatly for now. But I know we can co-exist on the same land and territory very well and become., “part of the pack”.
    Community, family structure, all are being challenged, in all species, in these times. It may not be the issue of hunting wolves at all!! But the reflection our own disregard for the value of family and community strength.
    The return of “the wolf”; protecting them form becomming extinct. It is not about numbers. How many are left, etc…etc…
    Wolves are emotionally evolved. Their ability to “think”
    and reason, make decisions, take charge, this is the truth.
    They truly have a fear of us. And for good reason. We kill them. They are not stupid. Back in the 60’s it got so bad that helicopters were used to hunt them. IT had become the only way ranchers could “GET TO THEM”.

    For several generations wolves do not have living memories of how we kill them. “The damage will not be the death toll..how many are left alive,..etc..etc..
    IT will be in the event of the killing itself. The members of the wolf families that are left alive.
    This emotional damage from the killings will cause the missed opportunity for wolves and man to find their right place with each other.”
    The wolves will react with their own wisdom to survive.
    And they will.
    The hunters think thay have found a way to wipe out complete families with gps colars!!!!
    This morning I really hate our own kind and I
    am ashamed to be a helpless human unable to stop other humans from killing!!If you truly knew what you were killing I believe you would not do it!!!!!Hunters believe they are
    rightious in what they are doing, and they are!!! Providing Food, and Protecting the Food!!!!!!
    IF that is TRULY THE GOAL HERE…Protecting the food and the MONEY..Our own survival!!!!Can we be intelligent enough to solve the problem without killing the wolves!!!

  75. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Erin,
    You are not the only one who feels ashamed, upset and not knowing what hecki is going on with us humans.
    I am becoming more anti-social and any discussion where wildlife inlcuding wolves and bears and bh sheep is a subject and people start complaining about hard life of ranchers where wolves eat sheep and etc..makes me mad.
    There are good people amoung ranchers and there bad bad people amoung ranchers. The bad prevail because we hear more about bad stuff than good things happening.
    I am driving to Idaho on 8/27. I will buy a lottery ticket..hope to win some money to spend on protection of our wildlife.

  76. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    All: I did ask for this with my first post and appreciate ALL of the responses to my comments. I’ve been monitoring this blog and the on-going dialog on wildlife management issues for some time. Internet Blogs and websites are increasingly important public forums for the public and government agencies if we take advantage of the opportunity to communicate. That’s my purpose here. As a Regional Supervisor (Southeast Region) one of my responsibilities is to represent the Department and Commisssion on policies and programs that relate to these issues. I will try to do that – when I have the knowledge or experience to answer questions or explain Department positions. My goal is to contribute to a better mutual understanding of these important issues. You can judge how well I do.

    Lynn – in the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones the recent, sharp decline in elk productivity and recruitment I referred to is due to wolf predation of productive cows and their calves, not hunting mortality. The radio-telemety data we have for cows and calves in those zones gives us the fate of each collared elk and allows us to accurately estimate the wolf predation rate of cows and calves. Having good baseline data for these elk populations from previous years, including hunting harvest data, we can say with certainty that wolf predation has pushed elk production and recruitment in these two zones below levels that have required substantial reductions in the elk hunting opportunity that was allowable with essentially the same habitat when wolves were introduced. HOW we manage this new wildlife population dynamic (elk-wolf) and the necessary changes in public uses and benefits of those resources is of course our challenge.

    Ralph and JB – as Ralph said, government and government agencies are inextricably part of our public process. IS the IDFG inappropriately influenced by partisan politics such that our statutory responsibilities are not being professionally carried out? Or could this simply be differences in value driven wildlife management preferences that are part and parcel of our democratic/republican system of government is is inherently confrontational? The Idaho Fish and Game Commission driven system of wildlife management is an example of democratic representative government supported by highly trained technical support staff (IDFG). It is also an excellent example of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that is responsible for most of the abundance and quality of wildlife and wildlife habitat in North America. When you ask: How can/should wildlife agencies be “reformed” – I suggest the discussion be considered with this history and reality included in the discussion. JB, not knowing your background, I won’t assume anything about your understanding of this or other state wildlife agencies. Having worked for two state wildlife management agencies (Idaho and Alaska) and being familiar with most of the western state wildlife management agencies, I can’t agree that contemporary agency rosters are loaded with “aging white men from rural backgrounds who hunt and fish). The demographic composition of state wildlife agencies is broader than that statement describes. Should those personnel rosters be selected for a more diverse, inclusive demographic make-up? If there is a failure of those agencies to serve the public they are responsible to or to effectively, professionally steward the public’s wildlife resource that is because of the age, racial or background profiles of those agencies – certainly that should change.
    We share several positions on wildlife agency funding. You may know that last year IDFG conducted a broad, statewide information and education effort with the public and elected leaders to explain our funding dilema and make a strong case for a BROADENED and DIVERSIFIED funding base. Our traditional funding formula (user fee funds: hunting and fishing fees matched with federeal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment) is simply not adequate to keep pace with the increasing suite of responsibilities wildlife management agencies face across the nation. Our non-game program is especially vulnerable, though it has seen substantial growth in the past 20 years. It depends on federal SWG funds, specialty license plate revenues (bluebird, elk, cutthroat license plates) and a handfull of other non-tradition sources of funding. State government, including the legislature and governor’s office, recognizes this need. HOW to broaden the base is the dilema. General funds are so stretched and other state funding needs so great that suggesting general funding for IDFG programs has been a non-starter. Other innovative sources such as a sales tax increase has been a boon for Missouri and Arkansas, but those are the only state I know of who have had success with that approach. We are receptive to any rational suggestions for alternative funding formulas. In the mean time, the IDFG will be predominantly funded by license/tag receipts, matching DJ and PR dollars and a large amount of federal “soft” money strictly dedicated to anadromous fishery and federal mitigation programs. Removing any and all authority of state boards or commissions (F&G Commission) would be a radical change that would ultimately weaken the firewall between wildlife management and the partisan political interference that you fear. The Commission system is intended to provide precisely the insulation that you desire. If you are serious about a DIVERSE group of stakeholders to provide consultation inplace of contemporary Fish and Game Commissions or Boards, with authority to set policy and establish wildlife management programs that satifsy the public needs and desires – I don’t believe the end result would be what you desire.
    Brian and Ken – there are several assertions that I am simply not informed of and can’t respond to. I can say that we respond to FOIA requests on a timely basis as the law requires us to. If there are requests that you believe aren’t being responded to in the spirit of the law, I may or may not be able to provide additional insight – OFFLINE. These are legal requests that are almost always handled by our legal counsel. I (and other Department personnel) can’t respond to personnel actions for several good reasons.
    Ken – I don’t believe the Lolo or Sawtooth Zones have experienced “unnaturally high” elk numbers in our era of influence. The thesis that wolves would or will afford the watersheds (ecosystems) in those geographic areas a benefit by relieving some unnatural effect of elk browsing or other impact is simplistic. Idaho elk populations have had a top predator controlling elk production and elk impacts on the landscape for centuries. That predator is us.
    OK, this is too much for one post. I look forward to a vigorous dialog.

  77. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Mark, I think you had said in a previous post that elk numbers were where they should be in most areas of the state except for the Lolo and Sawtooth. Are the wolf populations in those areas disproportionately large compared to the rest of the state?
    I also don’t see why wolves’ presence would not afford some balance to an ecosystem. I know there are other factors involved, but there has been evidence to prove that the wolves in Yellowstone did provide benfit to the watersheds because elk were no longer concentrating in creek and river bottoms. Why would the same thing not happen for Idaho?

  78. avatar JB says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for the reasoned response. It is great to see IDF&G making use of this forum to get involved in dialogue with people who care about wildlife management in the state of Idaho!

    If I understand the situation in Idaho correctly, you have many management units where elk populations are at or above objective and only two where wolves appear to be negatively impacting elk? I say “appear” because while I agree an effect is probable, I think it is a bit cavalier to interpret correlational data as showing a “certain” effect. In any case, I would hope some manuscripts are in preparation so that reasonable people can judge for themselves?

    Although I used to get drawn into conversations about wolves and elk quite frequently, I have recently tried to stay away from “wolves impact/affect elk populations” arguments. Debating that point is silly. Of course wolves have some effect on elk populations and behavior! The really interesting question is whether these effects are desirable? I would guess the answer to that question varies considerably on who you ask!

    Regarding the sociodemographic makeup of state fish and game agencies, I can only speak for the three states for which I have experience. I can tell you that in these three states, all but one of the wildlife management professionals I encountered were white males who hunted and/or fished. I have encountered minorities and women in a number of positions, but generally not as wildlife biologists and not in decision-making roles (again, with one exception). I would agree that this is changing, but the change (especially in positions of power) is slow. Perhaps Idaho is different?

    I am glad to see that Idaho is seeking to diversify its sources of funding. I think we can agree that this is absolutely essential for meaningful conservation of wildlife resources to continue. I also agree that the NA model of wildlife management has been very successful and acquiring habitat and restoring game populations in the US. However, much has changed in recent decades. More and more I hear hunters asserting that it is their “right” (not privilege) to hunt. Even when game populations are well above carrying capacity many “hunters” continue to complain about lack of opportunity. The NA model has served us well, I’m just not sure it will be sufficient for the continued conservation of wildlife in the future.

    Finally, regarding game boards/commissions…I’m afraid we will have to agree to disagree. I would note that many regulatory (e.g. state EPAs) seem to do fine without commissions. On a hunch, I also took some time to look up the commissioners in your current state. This is information that is readily available from their bios:

    Idaho Game Commission
    Tony McDermott: NRA, RMEF, NAHC, member (i.e. hunter)
    Fred Trevey: Professional forester/wildlifer and angler
    Bob Barowsky: Former cop; hunter and angler
    Wayne Wright: MD, “a livelong Republican and avid sportsmen”
    Randy Budge: Lawyer, Republican, “a lifelong hunter and angler”
    Cameron Wheeler: Farmer, “an avid angler”
    Gary Power: Zoologist, researcher; the only member that doesn’t explicitly qualify himself as a hunter and/or angler

    Due to the fact that IDF&G posts pictures of the the commissioners I was able to reasonably ascertain their age, gender, and ethnicity. All appear to be middle-aged, white males. And again, 6/7 claim to be hunters and/or anglers. From my perspective, I don’t believe this is any sort of “insulation” against political influence. In fact, rather than represent broad public interests, this commission is composed of the very same people (hunters and anglers) as agency decision-makers; the very same people to whom the agency has traditionally catered. How can such a partisan composition claim to broadly represent the public’s interest in wildlife management?

    My experience with game boards/commissions comes from your neighbor to the south. Utah’s board and regional advisory councils epitomize political “capture” of an agency. Composition of the the boards/councils are dominated by hunters and ranching interests (usually with only one environmental group member). Such composition simply ensures continuation of the status quo: domination of agencies by hunting and ranching interests.

    Moving things back to the context of wolf management, Nie’s words again seem appropriate: “…future conflict over wolf management will be driven in part by perceptions of agency capture due to game-based budgetary incentives.” Until things begin to change, I see more conflict over wolf management in Idaho’s future.

  79. avatar Save bears says:

    Better watch out, Idaho may do the same thing Montana did a few years ago, in the state of Montana it is a right to hunt, and it is covered by the State Constitution…

  80. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    Comment re. IDFG Commissioner Tony McDermott. He also has on his resume, that he is a member of Idaho Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife, the anti-predator, anti-wolf group.

    Mark – in all my travels in Unit 36, I’ve only seen one collared elk. I thought most of the intense collaring study was done in the Payette. We can debate this more, but I’ve always been told that it’s WINTER RANGE that limits elk numbers in the Sawtooth. IDFG doesn’t want to feed elk here, and you don’t want them going from the Sawtooth to the SFK Boise.

    Funding? For wolves, I suggested to our State Representative, that there be a wolf license plate. I was told that the state legislature at this time would NEVER consider the idea, altho there are probably 50 special plates, including one for the NRA.

    The most popular special license plates, I believe, are the elk plate and the skier plate. There’s also a lot of Bluebird plates because that was the 1st wildlife plate issued. IDFG should take a poll, and find out how many Idahoans would buy a “Famous Wolves” (rather than Famous Potatoes), or similar worded plate. My guess is that tens of thousands would. We would be the ONLY state with a wolf license plate (I think anyway).

  81. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    Thank you also for taking time to contribute here.
    I would however like to cut to the chase. On a scale of 1-10 what amount of influence does the livestock industry have on the thrust or direction, of wildlife management.
    Also why is the concept that wildlife trumps livestock not being enforced in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

  82. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    in the state of Montana it is a right to hunt, and it is covered by the State Constitution.
    I didn’t know that Save bears. When was that passed?

    Lynne, that would be neat if there was a wolf plate in Idaho. It would be interesting to see how many people would get one though. As I’ve said numerous times, in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming it is fashionable to be anti-wolf.

  83. avatar Save bears says:

    ProWolf, there was a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt passed in the state of Montana in 2004, it was HB 306 and was proposed in 2003 and passed..

  84. avatar Save bears says:

    There are also other states that have guaranteed the right to hunt…and fish, so it is no longer a privilege in those states, it is in fact a right.

    http://www.tnwfhuntandfish.org/component/content/article/14-right-to-hunt-and-fish/14-other-states-with-right-to-hunt-and-fish-protections

  85. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Seems strange that it is a right to hunt but still a privilege to drive.

  86. It would be nice if various groups could come together to guarantee along with the right to hunt, a permanent heritage of wildlife by the state, for hunting, inspirational, aesthetic, and scientific purposes. . . . something like which guarantees something to hunt and guarantees that wildlife are not just for hunting.

    Wildlife would be defined in a way that elk, etc. in a private enclosure could not be defined as wildlife.

    Livestock interests would fight this kind of amendment like crazy, I suppose.

  87. avatar Chuck says:

    In this cash strapped economy I have a hard time believing that the state of Idaho has not taken a long hard look at the money brought in from the visitors to yellowstone national park. I bet if you polled most of the people that were going into the park and I bet that an easy 75% of the people visiting the park are going there for the sole purpose of viewing wildlife. So if one million people visited the park, so that right there is a nice chunk of change. Ok then you have to factor in hotel/motel stays, gas, food, memorabillia”aka tee shirts, tokens”, stores that would rent spotting scopes & big telephoto cameral lens and so on and so on. I know some people will say it would never work, the only reason it would never work is they don’t want it to work. Remember if you build it they will come. To date I have yet to see an Idaho wolf and I spend quite a bit of time up in the back country. I know its hard not to go anywhere in unit 39 and not see wolf tracks. But then what do I know, I don’t have a dagree in killing, I mean managing wildlife. I can see it now, Idaho’s wolf gate 09

  88. avatar JB says:

    “There are also other states that have guaranteed the right to hunt…and fish, so it is no longer a privilege in those states, it is in fact a right.”

    Save bears: The right to hunt laws are indicative of the trend I mentioned and the fear of hunters that declining numbers among their ranks will lead to declining support for the activity. However, the actual laws don’t concern me nearly as much as the mindset. Hunting is still highly regulated by agencies whether you call it a right or a privilege.

  89. This right to hunt seems to be the result of a clever lobbying activity. Some sources say the sponsor of the idea is an organization called the U.S. Sportsmen´s Alliance. I´m just curious: Is this something as powerful as your NRA?

  90. Peter,

    No it isn’t, but they are not competitors.

  91. Oh this is a fascinating little pingback that came though. I usually delete these, but everyone should see this. See the comment above.

  92. avatar JEFF E says:

    Apparently Mr. Remington can not quite comprehend the written word.
    He does seem to be adept at picking and choosing select paragraphs out of context and then spinning that to back up his position.

    Is that not what is called a straw man argument.

    Seems his whole website is full of that.

  93. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    Here’s a follow-up story, “Phantoms go Free for now” by Jason Kaufman that was in Friday’s Mt Express – it is the most ACCURATE of what happened.

    http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php

  94. avatar JB says:

    “Excuse me but it’s dollars that come from sportsmen that fund these departments. It has worked well for many years until the demands from non sportsmen have been placed on fish and game departments to the point now they cannot afford to run their departments….

    [Conservation] groups …are now demanding that fish and game commissions be represented by non sportsmen. This would be the reverse of taxation without representation. If wolf lovers want representation on fish and game boards, then cough up your share of expenses. Of course this would be a huge mistake for any state to contaminate fish and game boards with anti-fishers and anti-gamers. It makes little sense, except to those whose goal it is to end all hunting, trapping and fishing.” –Tom Remington, from the Black Bear Blog

    – – – – –

    Mark, need I say more?

    You see, it isn’t just non-hunting, wolf-supporters that believe F&G agencies are captured by hunters and anglers. Hunters believe it as well! In fact, they are apparently so confident of their capture of IDF&G that they are willing to throw it in the face of “wolf lovers.”

    It is interesting that Mr. Remington first chastises non-hunters for not paying their “share” of the expenses associated with wildlife management, then immediately backpedals as he realizes the implications of what he’s written:

    “… this [taking money from wolf lovers] would be a huge mistake for any state to contaminate fish and game boards with anti-fishers and anti-gamers.”

    Of course, people interested in the preservation of non-game species see little reason to invest their hard-earned dollars with state F&G agencies when they perceive these agencies as being in the pocket of consumptive interests (whether this perception is correct or not). Moreover, Mr. Remington’s argument completely misses the fact that non-consumptive users can still support conservation efforts by sending their money to groups like the WWP, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Audobon Society, the Nature Conservancy, and numerous others. In fact, Mr. Remington might be surprised to learn just how much these groups have done for conservation!

    His next sentence also makes my point about the fear of many hunters that they will lose their “right” (actually a privelege) to hunt:

    “It [taking money from wolf lovers] makes little sense, except to those whose goal it is to end all hunting, trapping and fishing.”

    First, there are very few groups that actually want to end all hunting and fewer still that want to end fishing; more importantly, you will find very few people who regularly post here take that position. In fact, many (if not most) either are hunters or have participated in hunting in the past. More importantly, research demonstrates that despite trending downward in the ’70s and ’80s, polls indicate that support for hunting in the U.S. is quite strong. However, Mr. Remington might want to take note that anti-predator rants on public forums aren’t likely to earn him a lot of friends among non-hunting conservationists (though I doubt he’ll care). Rather, I would argue this type of tirade plays right into the hands of those who are seeking to sway public opinion against hunting.

    Finally, he makes this bold assertion:

    “They [wolf lovers] want to protect all wolves at the expense of everything else.”

    That simply is NOT true. Most people I have interacted with are interested in protecting native ecosystems. They understand that wolves require elk for food but also understand that the species co-evolved and don’t see wolves as a long-term danger to elk populations. Moreover, they outwardly reject the idea of harvesting wolves to “increase tolerance” for the species.

    It would be more accurate to say that SOME (NOT ALL) hunters want to protect their elk permits at the cost of all else. These people want to ensure that elk hunting opportunities remain plentiful–wolves, cougars, bears, and non-consumptive users be damned.

  95. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    How can you say, hunting is a “privilege” when so many states have actually amended their constitutions to ensure that right to hunt? The first state to ratify this was in 1777, so it is not a new thing..I would say, when a state amends their constitution to reflect the wishes of the majority of their constituents, that is a pretty important thing, what you may call a privilege, many states are starting to call it a right..and backing it up by making it a constitutional right…if it continues to go the way, it has the last few years with many states, the non-consumptive population, may end of being the ones consumed…

  96. avatar JB says:

    Save bears:

    States only have the right to manage wildlife when the federal government allows them; that is, numerous federal powers have been used to usurp the power of the state to manage wildlife, and subsequently, grant hunting privileges to its citizens. Federal treaty-making authority (e.g. migratory bird treaty) and the commerce clause (e.g. bald eagle protection act, endangered species act) are probably the two most common ways the federal government has asserted its authority over wildlife.

    Think of it this way, if the FWS listed the mule deer tomorrow all of the state’s bluster about the “right” of its citizens to hunt would amount to a hill of beans, at least where mule deer were concerned.

    More importantly, you have to actually examine the text of these constitutional amendments to see what rights are granted. As far as I can tell they are simply words. If the state determines that a particular species is in jeopardy it can close the season on that species right or no. Thus, these are easy amendments to pass. Legislators get to look like advocates for hunting when in fact all they’ve done is waste tax payer money writing amendments with no teeth.

  97. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    There is a very strong movement in this country to enforce the 10th amendment to the constitution, which guarantees the states right to sovereignty…so it will indeed become very interesting in the future..many states are starting to buck the power that comes out of Washington DC on a plethora of issues…and don’t get me wrong, I have not made a choice of side yet, but I do look at both sides of an issue and there is a mounting backlash that is rising in this country…

  98. avatar Save bears says:

    And just to add, right, wrong or indifferent, I think much of what we talk about on this blog, will eventually end up in the Supreme Court to decide..

  99. avatar JB says:

    Save bears:

    I understand there are some in this country who would have us greatly restrict the powers of the federal government under the constitution, but this will (in my opinion) never happen. It would completely undermine federal authority at a time when that authority is more important than ever. Regardless, I think the “movement” you speak of is limited to a few unhappy people in a few states.

    Just to be clear, (you probably know this already) the powers of treaty-making and the commerce clause are part of the constitution; and where they have been used to assert the authority of the federal government, states have had little recourse.

  100. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    Time will tell how this all comes out….but when I see states start passing laws that they are willing to take to the supreme court, it does give me pause…

  101. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    It would be nice if various groups could come together to guarantee along with the right to hunt, a permanent heritage of wildlife by the state, for hunting, inspirational, aesthetic, and scientific purposes. . . . something like which guarantees something to hunt and guarantees that wildlife are not just for hunting.

    Ralph, that would be a great idea.

    Interesting posts by Tom Remington. I particularly liked the one about wolves wiping out the herds in the Sawtooth and Lolo areas. Doesn’t that go back to the argument that wolves are not these locusts people think they are? They will not eat everything and move on or they would have caused their own extinction (and ungulates) years ago and we wouldn’t even be thinking about hunting or having this blog. That having been said, when they say negatively impact, are they assuming these areas were not overpopulated like Yellowstone was? Would a decrease in population actually be a good thing?

  102. avatar JB says:

    Mark,

    Hope we didn’t scare you off or get you into trouble. I think many people here are interested in continuing a reasoned dialogue about these issues.

  103. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB – not at all. I was at the Commission meeting all day, now trying to catch up. I need to collect my thoughts, will share my thoughts shortly.

  104. Mark,

    We will be interested in hearing your comments. Those you sent the other day sparked a lot of discussion.

  105. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Lynn – : “in all my travels in Unit 36, I’ve only seen one collared elk. I thought most of the intense collaring study was done in the Payette. We can debate this more, but I’ve always been told that it’s WINTER RANGE that limits elk numbers in the Sawtooth. IDFG doesn’t want to feed elk here, and you don’t want them going from the Sawtooth to the SFK Boise.”
    My preference is to provide information and explanations rather than debate. I believe an understanding of the data we have collected and our interpretation of those data is important to this dialog. If there is interest, I will consult with our research biologists who monitor the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones and post a condensed summary.

    ProWolf – “Are the wolf populations in those areas disproportionately large compared to the rest of the state?”
    See above – I’ll come back with a better answer than I can provide on my own.
    “there has been evidence to prove that the wolves in Yellowstone did provide benfit to the watersheds because elk were no longer concentrating in creek and river bottoms. Why would the same thing not happen for Idaho?”
    One important difference between Yellowstone and Idaho: no top predators (humans or wolves) effectively preying on elk under YNP management. Elk were released from population control by predation in YNP, resulting in population increases.
    Jeff E. – you asked: On a scale of 1-10 what amount of influence does the livestock industry have on the thrust or direction, of wildlife management.
    Also why is the concept that wildlife trumps livestock not being enforced in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
    The livestock industry is an important part of the Idaho economy. Wildlife-livestock interactions are sometimes complimentary and sometimes antagonistic. The Fish and Game code, Commission policy and Department programs recognize there are conflicts and attempt to resolve those conflicts while adhering to the public trust responsibilities for state for the Idaho public. Disagreement and conflict between the Department, other agencies, landowners has been an unavoidable outcome of our system. In my experience the F&G Commission has always expected Department staff to professionally uphold our statutory responsibilities by being advocates for healthy wildlife and habitat. I don’t have professional experience with the SNRA, so I can’t speak to SNRA policies or mangaement decisions.

    Chuck – “In this cash strapped economy I have a hard time believing that the state of Idaho has not taken a long hard look at the money brought in from the visitors to yellowstone national park.”
    The USFWS conducts a nationwide survey and estimate of wildlife based recreation generated contributions to national and state economies every five years. In 2006 hunting, fishing and wildlife watching generated over $1.3 billion in total economic activity in Idaho. YNP has nothing on the contributions of traditional wildlife recreation (including wildlife watching) to the state economy. Wildlife watching generates a significant portion of those expenditures and will likely increase. Hunting and fishing will also continue to be one of the states most important economic assets.
    JB, Ralph, SaveBears,ProWolf – the issues of right to hunt vs priveledge to hunt; upholding public trust responsibilities for our wildlife heritage; state vs federal wildlife management authority are each critically important topics that we need to discuss more, but I’m out of gas tonight. Let’s keep this going in this thread on another.

  106. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Elk were released from population control by predation in YNP, resulting in population increases.

    Mark, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that.

  107. My source for information concerning the right to hunt is http://www.serconline.org/huntandfish.html
    I show more than a passing interest because such a constitutional right is unique and therefore quite interesting. In other countries hunting is indeed handled as a privilege (that can even be revoked if necessary), associated with many requirements and the obligation to pass a written exam for a hunting licence. It is interesting to see that you more or less got a “wildcard”. It´s more or less “buy a gun and a tag and go ahead”. I see that most States having implemented this amendment to their constitution, did so in the timeframe of 1997+ So the theory that this right is the result of clever the lobbying activities seems plausible. The single State (Vermont) having implemented this in 1777 surely had different reasons in mind. In some States the bill even “died”. Seems the lobbying work was not so effective there.

  108. avatar JEFF E says:

    The “right to hunt” was introduced in the Idaho Legislature this year but was tabled. Will be back next year.

  109. avatar Save bears says:

    Peter it is a bit of misinformation that anybody can just buy a gun, a tag and then just hunting, there is a hunters education requirement, that involves training in safe gun handling as well other aspects of being in the field, it also has a written test in order to get a hunters education certificate. Many states have provisions if you were born before a certain date you are not required to take the course, but it is strongly suggested you do and I have known many adults who have taken the course…

  110. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    ProWolf – that was a 75 cent phrase to say: When top predators (wolves and humans) were removed from the YNP, elk numbers increased. “Release” = free of predatory population control (bear caused mortality non-withstanding).

  111. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Thank-you Mark, I thought that was what you meant, just wasn’t sure.

  112. avatar Cobra says:

    S.B.
    I’ve sat thru 3 hunters ed courses with my kids over the years. They are so much better than they were 35 years ago. Lots of information on gun and bow safety not to mention informaton on big game and predators. These classes were in North Idaho and I give the instructors a lot of credit, they do a good job. If you are a new hunter I would recommend these classes regardlessof age.

  113. avatar Save bears says:

    I agree Cobra,

    The classes now a days are so much better than they were, unbeknown to many, they actually include parts on Wildlife Conservation…go figure, even if your not a hunter, I would recommend taking the class..

  114. avatar JB says:

    Mark,

    You expressed in interest in providing information rather than getting drawn into debates; I can certainly respect that. I would be very interested in hearing more details about the hunt, assuming you can provide them?

    First let me say that in principle, I am not opposed to a season on wolves. Idaho has committed to manage wolves like any other species and I’m more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. With that said, I believe that Idaho can show a real commitment to managing wolves sustainably by: (1) restricting or reducing harvest in areas likely to serve as corridors to the Yellowstone population (thus allowing for genetic exchange between these sub-populations), (2) committing to providing a minimum of one viewing area for wolves (i.e. an area where wolves will not be harvested and will primarily be enjoyed by non-consumptive users), and (3) using this first hunting season as an opportunity to study how human hunting affects the relationship between wolves and elk and wolves and livestock. That is, it would be ideal to randomly select certain areas/zones for heavy wolf harvest and no wolf harvest and see how wolf and elk populations respond, as well as monitoring any change in conflict with livestock.

    Such measures would go a long way toward showing that IDF&G is NOT simply captured by hunting interests who appear to want a free-for-all wolf harvest.

    Are any of these under consideration for the upcoming hunt?

    Thanks again for your candor.

  115. avatar Rick says:

    “Personally, I think the problem goes well beyond economic capture. Most agencies–especially in the West–have an unwritten rule about who gets hired: If you don’t hunt, don’t apply. …it will take considerable time for the agency’s “hunter-first” culture and its associated values to change.”

    JB,

    I just found an interesting article about this very topic in Field and Stream. However, it comes from the sportsman’s view that there is a lack of new employees that have hunting and fishing backgrounds. to quote the article:

    “If you owned a car dealership, would you hire a manager who had never purchased a car, had never been a passenger in one — and didn’t even have a driver’s license? Of course not. So why, then, are natural resource agencies hiring young men and women to manage fish and wildlife when many of them have never hunted or fished — and are completely ignorant of the roles those traditions have played in conservation. …No longer were the applicants for jobs at state fish and game agencies almost universally avid hunters and angler. Instead, many now had no background in the field sports. How will these new leaders preserve the North American wildlife conservation model.”

    I am not saying that either view is correct, but I found it interesting that both sides think they are underrepresented. I work in a wildlife related field and was surprised when I found out that 2 out of 9 people in our office have a hunting background.

  116. avatar Save bears says:

    It is my understanding that one of the new directors at Montana FWP has no background in Hunting and Fishing and does not participate in those activities, from my understanding, his back ground is in land issues…

  117. avatar JEFF E says:

    Mark,
    I have a question that just occurred to me. If I under stand this correctly you are the Regional Supervisor for the Southeast district of Idaho for Idaho State Fish and Game. And I suspect that you had to get approval of some sort to come out publicly on this board and comment, (which I appreciate) and as an aside, I would really like to hear how that played out, but to my question; Why you? The Southeast portion of the State has the fewest, if any, wolves in the state so you SHOULD have a minimum of involvement in your day to day work with all things wolf compared to the other state districts. I also understand that your answers must, by necessity, be, how can I put this, tempered, so that no feathers are unduly ruffled.
    Thanks.

  118. avatar JB says:

    Thanks, Rick. I need to look up that F&S article–is it online? I know these aren’t your words, but I’d like to address the question embedded in this quote:

    “If you owned a car dealership, would you hire a manager who had never purchased a car, had never been a passenger in one — and didn’t even have a driver’s license? Of course not. So why, then, are natural resource agencies hiring young men and women to manage fish and wildlife when many of them have never hunted or fished?”

    I think this analogy only lends credence to my argument that agencies are captured by hunting and fishing interests. Just to be clear, I hold fishing licenses in two states and hope to hunt (for the first time in a decade) this fall. I’m a firm supporter of both activities. Back to the analogy…The purpose of car dealership is to sell cars; the purpose of owning a car is driving, so of course you would hire a manager that drove (and hopefully knew) cars. Note, the author’s analogy suggests that it is the agencies’ purpose to sell hunting and fishing licenses and, if fact, is incredulous that someone would be hired who doesn’t participate in those activities. In fact, despite the attitude of some hunters, wildlife management agencies purpose is not to sell licenses/regulate hunting; rather, agencies exist to conserve wildlife resources for the use and enjoyment of all of the state’s citizens.

    To ensure that I’m not accused of mis-representing the purpose of agencies, I looked up a few of their mission statements (I tried to get a broad cross section).

    Utah: “Our mission is to serve the people of Utah as trustee and guardian of the state’s wildlife.”

    Alaska: “To protect, maintain, and improve the fish, game, and aquatic plant resources of the state, and manage their use and development in the best interest of the economy and the well-being of the people of the state, consistent with the sustained yield principle.”

    Michigan: “…is committed to the conservation, protection, management, accessible use and enjoyment of the State’s natural resources for current and future generations.”

    California: “The Mission of the Department of Fish and Game is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public. ”

    Indiana: “Our mission is to professionally manage Indiana’s fish and wildlife for present and future generations, balancing ecological, recreational, and economic benefits.”

    My point: The purpose of having a NR management agency is to protect and conserve natural resources for the state’s citizens; hunting and fishing are simply tools to be used to manipulate wildlife populations as well as benefits provided by regulation/management. The author’s analogy simply reinforces the prevailing view that agencies exist to sell hunting and fishing licenses.

    – – – –
    P.S. On a hunch, I also looked up Idaho’s mission and it is a bit of an anomaly:

    Idaho: “All wildlife…is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”

    While most states specify that wildlife will be conserved/managed for “use”, “recreation”, or “enjoyment” Idaho’s mission specifically provides what these uses are/should be. Are there no other legitimate uses of wildlife than hunting, fishing and trapping? Also, as I mentioned before, state ownership of wildlife has been almost universally rejected by the federal courts (see Hughes v. Oklahoma, 1979). Idaho’s mission is about 30 years behind the times.

  119. avatar JB says:

    Save bears, not sure which person you’re talking about? (see below)

    Ohio wildlife head Dave Risley is named to top management post in Montana
    by D’Arcy Egan/Plain Dealer outdoors writer
    Thursday July 16, 2009, 5:13 PM

    The head of Ohio wildlife management, Dave Risley has won one of the dream jobs in wildife management. Risley is heading west to head up Montana’s new Fish and Wildlife Division.

    “If you like the outdoors, you’re not going to find a state with more outdoors than Montana,” said Risley, 55, a 30-year veteran of the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the head of wildlife management since 2002.

    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Joe Maurier recently combined the state’s fish and wildlife divisions. Risley beat out seven finalists to become its first administrator.

    “Montana is a sportsmen’s state,” Risley said. “About 20 percent of its residents hunt and fish, the highest percentage in the nation. The state really is the Super Bowl of fish and wildlife management. The challenges there are different, dealing with grizzly bears, wolves and cutthroat trout instead of Ohio’s coyotes and overabundant deer.”

  120. avatar Erin Rager says:

    I married into a hunting and fishing family 18 years ago. I kept an open mind as much as possible. I learned a few things for sure. I am fortunate that my family hunts for food not trophy. Elk is very good. Once again its funny how the truth just slips by, so I’ll give ya all little jab, by revealing why the elk hunters want the wolves gone. Once again its not about the numbers in the herds or managing stock for hunters. Its about what happens to elk meat when elk are kept on alert. It makes the meat tough and the taste is VERY different. The hunter in our family that hunted for elk, taught me a lot about elk habit etc….The one year that he brought home an elk that was stressed, I learned by noticing the difference with the meat. It was bad. I jerkied most of it, marinating it forever!! The effort to use the meat was huge and to be honest, I wasted about 15 lbs out of the 50 we got.
    So I am thinking, if the wolves stay, hunters will hunt less cause the meats no good. So that will preserve elk and wolves. My family member that hunts elk, went to another state and lodge to hunt for elk. So that solution is not good for business for sure. I believe the solution will present itself more obviously if we all can at least be honest and truthfull. Speak that small quiet voice we keep to ourselves. So here goes that small voice….What happened to the rabbits? Is this the imbalance? The misconception about wolves is that they ONLY hunt in packs!!
    What nonsence is this!!! This is not true. A single wolf cannot take down an elk. Wolves will pack hunt when their own food source is gone!!!One rabbit would keep our “Wolf” feed for 3 days.
    So if wolves are eating the rabbits and such, and not chasing the elk, this could be the management tactic that needs to be looked at. Laws have their place. Regulations have their place. Wolves eat rabbits. Lets get the food chain correct here.

  121. avatar DB says:

    JB:

    No argument “I think this analogy only lends credence to my argument that agencies are captured by hunting and fishing interests.”

    The mission statement examples you provide were probably never meant to guide fish and game policy. Any reference to managing ecosystems, or “diverse plant resources”, or “balancing ecological, recreational. and economic benefits” is a little hyperbole. States exert very little management authority over the majority of the lands on which wildlife exist. Furthermore, fish and game departments, indeed even the USFWS, were largely created and supported by sportsmen’s interests. It’s no wonder hunters and anglers make up a majority of these departments and commissions that guide them.

    I think it’s fine to pressure state agencies to address ecosystem function, holistic wildlife management, etc. But it will be a tough sell and, given the history, probably an unfair one. Of course I don’t condone the explicit political pressures the agencies bow to….Anyway, that’s why I think the best hope for wildlife and ecosystem managemnt is to exert pressure on the FS and BLM through public involvement in NEPA and in the courts.

  122. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB – Good question: “Has IDFG considered any of the options below?”
    “(1) restricting or reducing harvest in areas likely to serve as corridors to the Yellowstone population (thus allowing for genetic exchange between these sub-populations), (2) committing to providing a minimum of one viewing area for wolves (i.e. an area where wolves will not be harvested and will primarily be enjoyed by non-consumptive users), and (3) using this first hunting season as an opportunity to study how human hunting affects the relationship between wolves and elk and wolves and livestock. That is, it would be ideal to randomly select certain areas/zones for heavy wolf harvest and no wolf harvest and see how wolf and elk populations respond, as well as monitoring any change in conflict with livestock. “
    1. We both considered and incorporated this concept into the harvest quota the Commission adopted this week. The wolf management team specifically recommended that the corridor between Idaho, Montana and YNP have proportionately lower harvest quotas (wolf densities w/in the corridor compared to densities in other geographic management areas of the state) to manage for the highest likelihood that genetic connectivity will remain robust.
    2. Viewing areas have been considered by staff and the Commission. Viewing areas will continue to be one of several potential management options, recognizing that all areas wolves inhabit in Idaho will provide viewing opportunities. If I understand your question correctly, this option would be an area managed without hunting, as a wolf sanctuary or refuge, specifically to provide wolf viewing opportunity unhindered by hunting and other disturbances. The Commission weighs many factors when reviewing and approving management recommendations. For this request some might include biological constraints (elk/deer/moose predation and livestock depredations) and competing public desires for other wildlife beneficial uses.
    3. Certainly, our expectation is to learn much from the first wolf hunting season with respect to hunting effects on wolf/elk population dynamics and wolf/livestock interactions. There may be opportunities to compare those relationships among areas with different levels of allowable harvest. The Commission did not set aside control areas (free of wolf hunting or WS wolf control actions) to compare to hunted areas.

  123. avatar JB says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for the update. It’s great to hear that Idaho is taking steps to help promote genetic exchange between these populations.

    Regarding #2: I think Idaho is missing a real opportunity to demonstrate to people that it is considering the desires of non-consumptive users. Many people worry that after a hunt, wolves will become spooky and elusive around people and impossible to view/photograph. Protecting wolves from hunting pressure would likely increase their visibility, and could help promote tourism. More importantly (at least to IDF&G) it would seem a politically savoy step to take.

    Regarding #3: This is disappointing news. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lot will be learned about the effects of the extent of hunting on wolves, but IDF&G will have no way of evaluating how wolves and elk respond when there is no hunting. Is there really not a single place in Idaho where wolves will get a reprieve?

  124. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Idaho: “All wildlife…is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”

    Interesting mission. I suppose the preserved, protected, and perpetuated claim with wolves is disregarded since they are giant Canadians. What about their opposition to grizzlies that have not been completely wiped out int he state?

  125. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jb – ” Are there no other legitimate uses of wildlife than hunting, fishing and trapping?……state ownership of wildlife has been almost universally rejected by the federal courts (see Hughes v. Oklahoma, 1979). Idaho’s mission is about 30 years behind the times.”
    DB correctly described the historical background of the statutory language in Title 36 (Idaho Code) that describes the responsibilities of the IDFG. In fact, the IDFG has a growing Conservation Services (non-game species) program because the Commission, Department and State Government in general recognized years ago that all wildlife resources must be managed responsibly.
    To say that “state ownership of wildlife has been almost universally rejected by the federal courts (see Hughes v. Oklahoma, 1979).” and “States only have the right to manage wildlife when the federal government allows them; that is, numerous federal powers have been used to usurp the power of the state to manage wildlife, and subsequently, grant hunting privileges to its citizens. Federal treaty-making authority (e.g. migratory bird treaty) and the commerce clause (e.g. bald eagle protection act, endangered species act) are probably the two most common ways the federal government has asserted its authority over wildlife. ” is mostly correct, but misstates the fundamentals of wildlife management authority in our country. “Ownership” is not the best descriptor for the disposition of public wildlife resources within the states.
    Through the Public Trust Doctrine, states are invested with the responsibility to hold in trust the wildlife resources of each state for the benefit of it’s citizens. That state trusteeship includes the authority to manage public wildlife except under rare and specific instances where Congress may exert it’s supremecy over the states to protect national interests – the examples you noted e.g.. There is a broad history of recognition of this fundamental relationship between the federal and state governments with respect to wildlife management authority. For grey wolves, now that the species is clearly no longer in danger of extirpation within the area of the experimental introduction, the resumption of state management is entirely consistent with national law and our system of wildlife management.

    ProWolf – “Interesting mission. I suppose the preserved, protected, and perpetuated claim with wolves is disregarded since they are giant Canadians. What about their opposition to grizzlies that have not been completely wiped out int he state?”
    I suggest that an objective interpretation of the IDFG mission statement applied to wolf management would conclude that the wolf management plan and the approved wolf harvest quotas are consistent with the mission statement. The quota of 220 wolves will result in a kill/take/removal/harvest (choose your preferred adjective) that is substantially less than the quota. It is very unlikely that hunter success will be more than 25% and very likely that it will be significantly less than that. If 100% of the quota were to be achieved, the Idaho wolf population will continue to grow. I don’t see that as disregarding the preserve, protect, perpetuate mandate in our mission statement. Am I missing something?

  126. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E – “Why you? The Southeast portion of the State has the fewest, if any, wolves in the state so you SHOULD have a minimum of involvement in your day to day work with all things wolf compared to the other state districts. I also understand that your answers must, by necessity, be, how can I put this, tempered, so that no feathers are unduly ruffled.”
    You’re right, the Southeast Region has the fewest wolf management issues in the state, but we do have wolves. Wolf management is an important statewide issue for the Department and Regional Supervisors are part of the state management team, with responsibilities to support all of our programs. I chose to engage in these important discussions because the wolf management issue is important to the southeast Idaho public, the Department has a long held policy of making itself accessible to the public and accountable for all Department policies and programs and because we recognize the increasing importance of these internet forums for public dialog. I will be as direct and blunt as I can be – within the bounds of professionalism. If it seems like I’m holding something back, please – call me on it.

  127. avatar catbestland says:

    Mark Gamblin,

    ” If 100% of the quota were to be achieved, the Idaho wolf population will continue to grow. I don’t see that as disregarding the preserve, protect, perpetuate mandate in our mission statement. Am I missing something?”

    I don’t know if you are missing something or deliberately choosing to ignore the fact that the science has been updated since the orriginal re-introduction program. We now understand the pack dynamics better than we did. For instance we now know that the removal of pack leaders who teach subordinates to prey on traditional prey species may encourage those subordinates to target easier prey such as domestic livestock. Removal of the often more visable alphas may result in more livestock depredation than would have occurred without the prosposed hunt. Increased livestock depredation will of course be blamed on the wolves rather than on an unwise policy. Why not be smarter and more sellective about removal of “surplus” or “problem” animals. Do you really think this task, which could potentially cause more problems for livestock owners, should be entrusted to those who are concerned only with the sport of hunting? And if the result is that more predation occurs because of loss of pack leadership, what will be the remedy?

  128. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Mark, I was referring more about the general attitude about wolves in the state, not the hunting quota. My question regarding the grizzlies is why the strong opposition to reintroduction in the Selway-Bitterroot? Does that not have anything to do with the mission statement?

  129. avatar JB says:

    Mark: Again, thanks for the reply. It is great to see IDF&G begin to engage stakeholders in this form.

    I don’t want to nitpick–too often that leads to people missing the larger point–but I think a few things need clarifying. I fully understand that the word “ownership” is not the best word to describe the state’s authority (actually, that was my point). Rather, I was noting that the state of Idaho’s assertion that, “All wildlife…is hereby declared to be the property of the state…” is, in fact, out of touch with federal case law on the matter and behind the times. The state’s duty, as you point out, is to act as a trustee, NOT the outright owner of wildlife. Again, this was firmly established by Hughes:

    “Hughes expressly discredited the whole idea that states really owned the wildlife within their borders. The idea of state ownership, the Court asserted, was merely ‘expressive in legal shorthand of the importance to its people that a State have the power to preserve and regulate the exploitation of an important resource.'” (Freyfogle & Goble, 2009:28).”

    But, a more interesting discussion is what is really meant by the idea that the state holds wildlife in trust for its citizens. Feyfogle and Goble (2009) note that the phrase implies that the state act as a “trustee” (a term with its own legal meaning) for wildlife. The state’s duty, as trustee, is to manage the resource for the benefit of its owners, which are collectively ALL the citizens of the state (not just hunters/anglers).

    Again, just as a point of clarification, I never challenged the state of Idaho’s authority to manage wolves post-delisting, as you say, it is entirely consistent with federal law). I just noted the discrepancy between its mission and those of other states.

    Regardless, the point I was trying to make is that the state’s assertion that its duty is to “…provide for the citizens of this state…continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping,” is indicative of a biased approach; that is, it puts certain uses of wildlife (and certain constituents) above all others. Of course, I have already argued that this is the situation in most states, so this doesn’t really differentiate Idaho from its peers; what does is Idaho’s willingness to flaunt their capture in their mission statement.

    Let’s (again) compare Idaho to Missouri’s Department of Conservation, which is funded, in part, by a state sales tax (also note the name):

    “MISSION: To protect and manage the fish, forest, and wildlife resources of the state and enhance their values for future generations; to serve the public and facilitate their participation in resource management activities; and to provide opportunity for all citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about fish, forest, and wildlife resources.”

    So here is my question: Why would an agency that knows it is perceived by non-consumptive users as captured/biased/untrustworthy not take the obvious step of updating its mission statement?

  130. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    catbestland – “We now understand the pack dynamics better than we did. For instance we now know that the removal of pack leaders who teach subordinates to prey on traditional prey species may encourage those subordinates to target easier prey such as domestic livestock. Removal of the often more visable alphas may result in more livestock depredation than would have occurred without the prosposed hunt ………Do you really think this task, which could potentially cause more problems for livestock owners, should be entrusted to those who are concerned only with the sport of hunting?”
    First: Pack social hierarchy, the role of alpha adults in the pack, potential pack disruption is not new information that we have learned since the YNP/Idaho experimental wolf introduction. Those are long understood principles and have been taken into consideration throughout this conservation program. The expectation by some that wolf hunting will result in disrupted packs which will lead to increased livestock depredation is speculative conjecture. There are many POTENTIAL outcomes for hunting effects on the Idaho wolf population. Impacts on wolf social hierarchy should be expected, but perhaps not in the manner you describe. Pack disruption occurs in the absence of human intervention. When an alpha adult is removed there is almost always a sub-dominant adult waiting in the wings to assume a leadership position in the pack. It is likely that the removal of one or both alpha leaders of the pack would result in sub-dominant adults quickly filling those leadership roles. Hunting habitats and behavior are developed by the pack as a unit. The most likely outcome of one or several wolves being removed from a pack will be for a quick change in leadership and little change in hunting behavior and no change in pack territory. My comments are based on years of collective experience by wildlife managers in Alaska and Canada. In fact, the published literature (science) does NOT support a prediction that pack structure will collapse if one or both alpha leaders are removed.
    Second: In hunted wolf populations, alpha adults represent a very small portion of the wolves taken by hunters. Long experience has shown that most of the wolves taken by on the ground hunters are in-experienced sub-adults. Wolves quickly adapt and after exposure to hunting are very adept at avoiding hunters. It is unlikely that hunting of wolves in Idaho will create the counterproductive results you describe.
    Given these likely outcomes – why should the public not be given the opportunity to responsibly hunt Idaho wolves, while we maintain a healthy, sustained population of wolves?

  131. avatar Erin Rager says:

    To Mark:
    you say- Pack disruption occurs in the absence of human intervention.
    I lived in the pack behavior exserted by an Alpha Male of his litter that was abused by trainers of the paramont studios kennals back in the sixties. He became part of our family when I was 7.
    My awareness that he took responsibility over me and my brothers did not come consious to me untill long after he had died and I was grown. Although my sense that I was no longer safe after he died still lingers some today.

    I believe what needs to be noted here is the debate concerning the level of Intelegence with wolves.
    We set ourselves apart from animals with the Idea
    that we have a higher evolved intelegence and problem solving capabilities. We have language and music. And we have a thumb on our hands that gave us literature. To be able to write.

    The wolves ability to adapt reguardless of circumstances is a direct result of their ability to “think” untill they take action based on a decision of their “thinking.”
    I lived with this. I experienced it in many ways.
    I just hope they do not decide they must kill us to protect their own survival. So far they have not chosen to attack us.
    This could change.

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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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