~ by Jon Marvel

Jon Marvel
Friends,
On December 31, 2009 Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation welcomed the New Year by filing litigation in federal court challenging the federal government’s mismanagement of public lands and wolves in Central Idaho.

Read the Associated Press article :

Groups Sue to End Idaho wilderness copter landings – John Miller, AP 1/06/10

Sawtooth Mountains, photo: Lynne Stone

Sawtooth Mountains - Sawtooth National Recreation Area © Lynne Stone

This important litigation aims to protect Idaho wolves by asking a federal court to halt mismanagement in three key ways :

Halt Sawtooth National Recreation Area Grazing

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) encompasses roughly 778,000 acres of spectacular public land and wolf habitat in central Idaho.  In 2002 WWP succeeded in demonstrating before a federal judge that the Forest Service was unlawfully failing to prioritize wildlife over livestock grazing in its administration of the SNRA as mandated by Congress, and that this mismanagement was unlawfully costing central Idaho wolves their lives.

The Forest Service’s failure continues to this day as livestock are given priority over wildlife and continue to be authorized to graze on the SNRA without being required to take any preventable measures to minimize the likelihood of conflict with wolves.

Livestock grazing on the SNRA kills native wildlife.  Many wolves have been killed and many more will continue to be killed should grazing be allowed to continue on the SNRA.

“Wildlife Services” Slaughter of Wolves In Idaho Is Unlawful

The misnamed “Wildlife Services” of the US Department of Agriculture uses taxpayer dollars to kill wildlife including more than 80,000 coyotes a year on public lands to preserve welfare ranching.

For years Wildlife Services has been killing Idaho wolves on behalf of ranchers without conducting adequate, legally required environmental analysis of the full suite of impacts that its “War on Wildlife” is incurring.  It’s time Wildlife Services’ “War on Wildlife” stop.

To Protect Welfare Ranching

(Click to Watch) "To Preserve Welfare Ranching" © Western Watersheds Project 1999

This lawsuit asks the court to stop Wildlife Services from engaging in wolf “control” efforts until the agency fully analyzes its impact to Idaho wolves and a host of other environmental values that it affects.

Frank-Church-River of No Return Wilderness Helicopter Landings Are Illegal

In the summer of 2009, following the delisting of wolves, Idaho Department of Fish & Game requested to land helicopters within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to radio-collar wolves.

Despite a complete lack of environmental analysis, the Forest Service has issued a permit to IDFG to land and collar wolves within the wilderness under a “Categorical Exclusion”.

The darting of wolves and landing of helicopters is a violation of the spirit of wilderness.

With the filing of this important litigation by our remarkable attorney Laird Lucas, wolves and wilderness are getting the unflinching advocacy that they deserve.

I hope you’ll take a look at this remarkable complaint and wish us luck !

Read the Complaint

Jon Marvel
Executive Director

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Brian Ertz

106 Responses to WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Litigates Big to Protect Wolves in Central Idaho

  1. avatar Ken Cole says:

    It is dumbfounding to me that Wildlife Services has never conducted any NEPA analysis on its wolf killing operations.

    I think this is a very strong case and it is clear that, with regard to wolves in the SNRA, the Wildlife Services operations have substantially impaired wolves there. Nearly every pack that has become established here has been terminated over the last decade because of conflicts caused by the presence of livestock.

  2. avatar jerryB says:

    Finally some hope. Thankyou WWP and Wolf Recovery Foundation.

  3. avatar JimT says:

    Well done. Laird is a very good attorney, and the case seems to have the facts and law on its side. The complaint is well crafted. I will interested in the response unless it is just a list of denials.

    I was hoping to see Salazar get pressured into relisting the wolves before January hearing, but from our sources in DC, Salazar has asked the WH for permission to leave and seek the Governor’s house in Colorado, and I don’t think he would do it unless he was going to follow through, and the state Dem party had signed off on it. Rumors for his replacement include Hayes, Strickland, and believe it or not, Gov. Terminator from California.

    Stay tuned. DC is entertaining if nothing else.

  4. avatar Percy says:

    A thousand thank yous. I just became a new member of WWP. I hope this gets lots of publicity; I think most Americans would be against this violation of the Wilderness Act. The arrogance of these agencies astounds me. But what really saddens me is that the collaring of wolves in wilderness is going on at all. I do not understand how this is legal. Will they use trapping if helicopters are not allowed?

  5. Percy,

    Thank you for joining WWP. We were amazed and totally frightened for the integrity of the entire wilderness system, so we worked hard and filed this case on New Year’s Eve.

  6. avatar Rita K.Sharpe says:

    Thank you,WWP!!!!

  7. We won’t shed any tears if Cowboy Ken slinks back to Colorado- and one might hope that Obama would make a better pick the 2nd time around- but one would be a fool to hope for anything from Obama at this point.

    Good for WWP and Wolf Recovery Foundation- and some nice quotes from Ralph here: http://www.missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_f9a6465c-fb04-11de-b162-001cc4c03286.html

  8. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    Great work WWP, I just became a member as well. I do not have many financial resources but if my time or talent could ever be utilized to help please get in touch with me 🙂

  9. avatar nabeki says:

    This is wonderful news. So needed against Wildlife Services, they are out of control.

    Thank you WWP and WRF!!

    http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com

  10. avatar Phil Maker says:

    Atta boys to Wolf Recovery Foundation and WWP. May your arguments be persuasive and heeded.

  11. avatar Rita K.Sharpe says:

    I should say thank you to the, Wolf Recovery Foundation,Thank You!!!

  12. avatar kt says:

    Schwarzenegger??? He would destroy what’s left of the West even worse that Salazar was trying to do – with “renewables” and water mining. As far as the Ah-nold and renewables go – we have to remember how much Bobby Kennedy Jr. and likely the rest of the Kennedy clan (of which Shwarzenegger is part by marriage to Maria Shriver) is rumored to have sunk into Bright Source and other big solar planned destruction of the public lands.

    Keep your eye on the aquifer mining and inter-regional water heist ball too …

    Industrial Renewables are the part of the carbon speculation bubble – and can be a “front” for getting the infrastructure to move water all around the West in place … Water … the BIG prize …

  13. avatar JimT says:

    kt,

    Arnold, I think, is an intriguing bit of “what if” for DC rumor mills, but I can’t imagine Obama going through with it. Salazar will have some say, but if the WH is privately ticked to have to deal with this, he won’t have much. I also wonder just what will happen with all the Colorado folks he brought in..will they be encouraged to leave with their boss and work on his campaign if it all happens? There are all sorts of rumors flying here about who will leave the state government in the next several months looking out for their own butts. Just when I thought we were heading into the boring, long dark part of winter…LOL…

    You are right..WATER is the biggest, most important issue in the West. We just forget it at times.

    The San Luis Valley in Colorado has been targeted and big time. LOTS of solar potential plus abundant ground water for cooling means bad news for that beautiful mountain valley and the small towns that subsist in it like Crestone. Huge solar arrays that blind drivers at times, and massive power towers ruining views of the San Juans and the Sangres. The local are trying to mobilize, but….money talks, especially to an area that needs money badly.

  14. This is a chance for Obama to start over and connect with his conservation base. He needs to understand the basic rules of a campaign: 1. secure your base, next sway the independents, last (and only if you have resources to spare) try to collect some of the other party.

    Mid-term elections are always more of a party base election than presidential elections. He needs to gather his base . . . campaign 101 stuff.

  15. avatar kt says:

    There is certainly a Colorado mob in place at Interior. I have wondered if that is why the El Paso Gas Ruby pipeline that is going to destroy one of the wildest places in the West between the Black Rock NCA and Sheldon has been so fast-tracked — Ruby Pipeline LLC is based in Salazar’s Colorado …

  16. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Nice to see some people fighting this.

  17. avatar Eric T. says:

    So, is WWP including goat and sheep transplant heli landings in the Frank too? If not, this lawsuit is disingenious and smacks of grandstanding. It also makes it a wolf issue entirely and not a Wilderness issue.

  18. avatar matt bullard says:

    Ralph – I agree with your assessment of Politics 101, but I sometimes wonder if “we” (the presumed base) give ourselves more credit than is actually due. Perhaps he ad his campaign have a different perception or understanding of who their bases is than he does. The same thing could apply to Walt Minnick. I also think that Salazar is far less controversial outside the left-leaning blogosphere (and I’m not using that as a derogatory term).

  19. avatar Salle says:

    I can’t watch the video! I had to download Realtime application which took ten minutes, then the player told me I had to download something else called Quicktime. Is there another version of this clip in some other format compatible with MediaPlayer, which is already functional on my computer?

  20. matt bullard,

    You make an important point, we don’t know what he sees as his base.

    However, this is not an entirely subjective matter (to a politician who wins). Those who do volunteer work for a candidate, give money, who are sure to show up and vote are the base. Those who are not likely to vote for him and certainly won’t help in more strenuous political activities are not your base, no matter how much you wish they were.

    Obama has disappointed far more than conservationists. He hasn’t even done much to stir enthusiasm among Latino and Black voters. A surge of support from young people energized his campaign, and yet they are being allowed to hurt worse than any other age group in the recession. Their future is being eaten alive by the state legislatures who are cutting off all education based strategies of establishing careers.

    People hate that TARP stuff, and although the huge authorization of money for financial institutions mostly came with George W. Bush, Obama is perceived is standing with them. For Democrats to win, the “financial wizards” need to become the whipping boy. The idea that recessions and wars are started to help Wall Street has long smoldered among working class and other demographic groups on both the left and the right. It might not take much to fan this into a flame.

  21. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    JimT

    Anybody with CA political ties would be devastating for water in the West. One need only look to CA’s past to see how water has been raided, and squeezed away from any available source to feed its insatiable cities, and agricultural lands. Anything flowing west of the Contininental Divide is fair game.

    Many years ago I was asked to consult for a group that owned the 97,000 acre Baca Grande Ranch in the San Luis Valley (Crestone is at its northern border where actress Shirley MacLean had some kind of “healing” retreat). The group wanted to mine the absolutely huge artesian aquifer beneath the ranch and transport it out of the valley, and into the South Platte River to sell to Denver (it would have been considered new water by the proponents and could have been taken out of the basin, according to the project sponsors). Nevermind that it could also drain out seasonal dune ponds, relied upon by migratory birds and other species.

    I summarily said no to any involvement, chastised them subtly for their proposal, and advised them, that it would never happen because of high salinity and the proximity of Great Sand Dunes National Park, just to the south. The group included some very disingenuous and powerful people. Ralph would call them the noblemen, and truly they were – Anwar Sadat’s widow, Maurice Strong Canadian Ambassador to the UN and Secretary of the Rio World Environmental Conference in 1992, and several other people and financial interests I should probably not name. Henry Kissinger had been a guest of the ranch the week before I sat down to talk with these guys.

    After several years of water rights litigation with the local water conservation district, these guys lost and had to pay huge attorney fees. The Baca Grande was purchased in the past six years by the Nature Conservancy and various parts will eventually be handed over to the National Park Service, USFWS or the FS for management as appropriate to the resource. An environmental success story.

    Sad to hear of other development pressures. Where are the solar arrays proposed? It is a beautiful arid valley with the Sangre DeCristo’s in the background.

  22. avatar JimT says:

    Ralph,
    You should be running someone’s campaign with your political instincts…VBG…

    It is interesting that somehow it has been lost in all the media these days..and blogs and discussion lists..that the FACT is Obama inherited all of the major problems he is currently grappling with from the Bushies, and I think we can all agree that they are of unprecedented scale in the last 70 years.

    Perhaps the linkage and the causal chain is too much for people to engage…Iraq-bleeding money dry from economy-boondoggle of a pharmacy plan for Medicare bleeds more money-more money for Iraq..economy starts to bite it in 2006-worse in 2007-shit hits the fan during the election and afterwards in 2008..TARP giveaway happens in fall before the election..Obama gets elected. Since then, Republicans in DC have done every single thing in their power to stall, block, or kill every bit of legislation that would address any of the economic issues, including health care since it is the number one cause of foreclosures and bankruptcies in the country..health care bills.

    I am most assuredly NOT excusing the behaviors of the Dems. The Blue Dogs, Libermann, and some others have behaved selfishly and shamefully, and they have often proved to be a substantial barrier to getting things passed, like the critical need to have oversight again of Wall Street bankers and the finance industries. Perhaps the recent announcements of Senators not running will wake the Dems up to the point they realize they have a year to go with a filabuster proof (most of the time) majority potentially, and they need to use the next 10 months to pass health care reform, financial oversight, job programs, and so on. The private industry, particularly the bankers, are not interested in getting the stimulus money into the hands of small businesses, or helping people with mortgage issues. Funny how the free market that is so lauded breaks down so often…

  23. avatar JimT says:

    WM,

    Basically right down the middle of the valley, from when you enter it after Poncha Pass. My friends are long time (mid 1800s) generational residents there, water right owners, land owners, etc. So far, the land trust folks down there are fighting the good fight in terms of people selling out, but there is little economic activity going on..mainly potato farming and some ranching. But the soil is sandy…that whole valley was a sea at one point, so the irrigation water just disappears. The Baca Grant-TNC land saved a bunch from development, but there is still plenty of private holdings on the way to Alamosa that are being targeted. There is one fairly big..probably 30 acres or so, along side I think it is Route 17..solar array now. The two big worries are water, and the transmission towers that would replace the existing small lines. Hell, they still have ceramic insulators! It would forever ruin the magic of that valley. The water would be mainly for cooling, so the relative drinkability of it without treatment really isn’t a concern for the utilities.

    I “heard” that when they put in new transmission lines up along Hood river along the gorge, the folks there worked out a deal that made the companies bury the new lines to preserve the beauty of the gorge. Sure, it is more expensive, but it is easier to pull wire if there is a break than to deal with line downage expenses, and I am sure the costs would be passed along to all the ratepayers, no matter where they are. You can be sure the power being generated there now isn’t local. I really think that this issue of transmission lines is going to come back and bite us all in the ass with some pretty spectacular vistas being forever ruined. Makes me think of those things in the War of the Worlds…They should be forced to bury the damn lines, or run them in a pipe three or four feet above the ground to allow for access, and for wildlife corridors. I mean, we have using poles and lines for the past 200 years. Can’t the techno genius engineers come up with some better, and can’t politicians make the utilities do these things with an eye for environmental concerns? ARGH…

    Interestingly, when all that litigation was going on, and TNC was compiling all the parcels, they missed this pretty good sized chunk right in the middle that my friends eventually bought. They are thinking of trying to sell it to the Baca Grant folks; they don’t need it, don’t want, and don’t want it built on.

    Most of the Baca Grant folks are New Age institutions, curiously enough, similar to what happened to Sedona, and the people associated with them. A real hodge podge of stuff, from Zen to contemplative religious to retreats of all kinds. But, so far, it hasn’t translated into a rebirth for the town of Crestone, unfortunately. Our friends are intending to build a mercantile there, with hardware, place to do laundry, grocery, lumber and a small cafe, but dealing with the loan folks at USDA and the Rural development folks has been an absolute nightmare, and SNAFU from day one due to the left hand not knowing right hand was doing in the government, and the damn banks sitting on the money they got, not lending it out unless you sign over your children. It is amazing..this is exactly the kind of thing this economy needs..small business that will help the residents of an entire town and perhaps kickstart a few others, and it is effectively being redtaped and delayed to death.

  24. avatar Susan Eakins says:

    Thankyou and standing in solidarity with you. Gubernatorial condadidate Rex Rammell of Idaho would “sign an executive order to to shoot a wolf at any time”. With this kind of toxic/hateful acts of behavior and attitude,intervention must occur for wolves to remain part of the wilderness. The truth is out, hunters aren’t trying to keep numbers of elk at a healthy level, the wolves would do it as nature intended, they want no interference. Also, the more meat people eat, the more wolves will be killed, over rancher domination of lands.

  25. avatar Virginia says:

    This is regarding Wyoming’s wolf “management.” Billlings Gazette – 2/6/10 – “The state’s looser rules for managing wolves may have helped keep lethal conflicts with cattle to a minimum. …. Wildlife Services agents killed nine wolves in Park County in 2009, a much lower number than in recent years. Park County ranchers lost only three calves and two cows to wolves last year.” Yippee! “Looser state rules for handling problem wolves meant that WS agents could “deal with the problem more quickly, and shut it down fast,” resulting in fewer lost cows and less killing of wolves” according to “specialist” Jim Pehringer.” So, they kill nine wolves for three calves and two cows in one year.

  26. avatar jdubya says:

    Interesting letter in this weeks Science magazine…

    Gray Wolves Not Out of the Woods Yet

    In April 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) removed the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves (Canis lupus) from all protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Following the ESA’s mandate to base listing determinations “solely on the…best scientific and commercial data available,” FWS conducted an extensive analysis of regional threats to wolves. They concluded that while “[p]ublic hostility toward wolves led to excessive human-caused mortality that extirpated the species,” subsequent improvement in attitudes toward wolves ensured the long-term viability of the species.

    We agree that human behaviors (and the attitudes and values underlying them) ultimately caused the extirpation of wolves in the northern Rockies, but we find little support for FWS’s conclusion that attitudes toward wolves have improved, or are improving. Indeed, the larger body of research points to the opposite conclusion (1–5). Although FWS provided more than 200 citations in their analysis, they cited just one empirical study that examined attitudes toward wolves (4). [This cannot be explained by a lack of published literature; a recent review identified 50 publications that specifically addressed the topic (6).] Thus, it appears FWS was either unaware of the extensive body of research on attitudes toward wolves, or chose to ignore this research. In fact, the only empirical article cited by FWS—a meta-analysis—comes to a very different conclusion: “Across the 37 attitude surveys we studied, the reported statistics were stable over the last 30 years…[t]his contradicts a recent perception among some ecologists that wolf support has recently grown” (4).

    The FWS’s analysis of the threat posed by negative attitudes toward wolves is wholly inadequate. When threats to a species’ continued survival are primarily social in nature, FWS must use the same standard that goes into analyzing biological and ecological threats. It is time for FWS to expand its view of what constitutes “science” and fully incorporate the social sciences into listing determinations.

    Jeremy T. Bruskotter,1,* Eric Toman,1 Sherry A. Enzler,2 Robert H. Schmidt3

    * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: bruskotter.9@osu.edu

    1 School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
    2 Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
    3 Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, College of Natural Resources, Logan, UT 84322, USA.

    References

    * 1. J. T. Bruskotter, R. H. Schmidt, T. L. Teel, Biol. Conserv. 139, 211 (2007). [CrossRef]
    * 2. M. D. Duda, S. J. Bissell, K. C. Young, Wildlife and the American Mind (Response Management, Harrisonburg, VA, 1998).
    * 3. J. W. Enck, T. L. Brown, Wildl. Soc. Bull. 30, 16 (2002).
    * 4. C. Williams, G. Ericsson, T. A. Heberlein, Wildl. Soc. Bull. 30, 575 (2002).
    * 5. G. Ericsson, T. A. Heberlein, Biol. Conserv. 111, 149 (2003). [CrossRef]
    * 6. C. Browne-Nunez, J. G. Taylor, “Americans’ attitudes toward wolves and wolf reintroduction: An annotated bibliography,” Tech. Report No. 2002-0002 (U.S. Geological Survey, 2002).

  27. avatar gline says:

    thanks for the article, Jdubya.

    “… or chose to ignore this research.”

  28. avatar Salle says:

    Amazing how the different sciences argue amongst themselves over who is legitimate and who is not. Seems to me that this argument is endless and detrimental to all involved. Sad.

    Thanks to the authors for this piece of information, it is pertinent to the conditions under which the value of wildlife is misrepresented in many fields of study, particularly when it’s a political game. Shame on Idaho and the other states. See what happens when politicians are proud of the ignorance of their constituents, like Butchie Boy in Idaho who plans yet another ~ third or fourth ~ round of education budget cuts when Idaho is already one of the list toppers of a state that has a majority of undereducated residents.

    Proud of their ignorants’ ignorance – you betcha! (As Sarah Palin would say… mind you she’s a proud and honored graduate of UI.)

  29. avatar gline says:

    Like you said Salle, it helps the feudal lords stay in power.

  30. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    JB

    Now I know the basis for your picking out the passing reference to the 2002 Williams (“attitudes”) study as presented in the delisting rule, and then expanding upon it in our dialog on another thread yesterday.

    Again, I raise the question whether “attitude” data that is a decade old or more reflects current attitudes. I don’t have an answer, and maybe someone should -if funding sources are available- get one.

    I gather you are the lead author on the Science letter posted in its entirety in the above post by jdubya, yes?

  31. avatar gline says:

    Really, one does not need science to back up the notion of culturally entrenched hatred of wolves, for sure.

  32. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    you can see ~ fairly objectively ~ the codification of such hatred in local/state legislation.

  33. avatar JB says:

    Yes, though this was simply a letter to the editor. We have a much more detailed manuscript that is currently under review.

    Please note: The primary purpose of the manuscript and letter is to call attention to the FWS’ lack of attention to the social/anthropogenic nature of the threat to wolves and other large carnivores. They acknowledge that attitudes were the reason wolves were locally extirpated to begin with, but then essentially ignore the scientific literature on this topic.

    The biological and ecological threats discussed in the 65 page Final Rule are trivial when compared with the social and regulatory threats (which are given scant attention by comparison). Roughly 75% of all wolf moralities in the NRs are human-caused and, given harvest objectives for this year in MT and ID, that number is likely to rise. FWS claims that state management will build “public support” for wolves, but provides no empirical evidence for this claim either. Frustratingly–at least from my perspective–these claims could be easily and inexpensively (by comparison with biological studies) evaluated.

    “I don’t have an answer, and maybe someone should -if funding sources are available- get one.”

    This is exactly our point.

  34. avatar Jay Barr says:

    With the IDFG helicopter crash and subsequent grounding of their aerial program (was a little blurb in the ID Statesman today), maybe the Wilderness wolf capture efforts has gone by the wayside for the immediate future.

  35. avatar jdubya says:

    Very nice work J.B.

    Hope you did not mind my bringing it to the other’s attention.

    Obviously bringing a scientific perspective to this issue is critical and relieves one of having to use anecdotal comments to make a point where objective observations would be much more salient. I hope you get funding for the work!

  36. avatar jdubya says:

    Very nice work JB. I hope you don’t mind my bringing it to the attention of people here.

    The huge value of this type of work is that you will generate facts to support a conclusion instead of just having to rely upon anecdotal observations (science versus the law, perhaps?).

    I hope you get funding for this work : nice project!

  37. avatar gline says:

    ‘I don’t have an answer, and maybe someone should -if funding sources are available- get one.’

    “This is exactly our point.”

    difficult to come by evidently…JB

  38. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Thank you WWP. I just signed in.

  39. avatar JEFF E says:

    so much for Idaho enforcing poaching of a “valued big game animal”
    http://www.idahostatesman.com/531/story/1035843.html

  40. avatar timz says:

    Well Gamblin, how you going to spin this one?

  41. avatar JimT says:

    That article is a clear example of how subjective standards governing lethal actions towards wildlife are a joke. The wolf was acting strangely? How? What proof? You might as well just say Shoot on Sight, and we will find a way to get you off.

    Idaho is rapidly taking the place of Texas as the state I would like to see secede…no offense to anyone here intended. Perhaps if there were a coup at the statehouse….~S~

    I suspect Mark Gamblin will say it was in the hands of the legal system and that FG was out of it. I suspect you will see this particular prosecutor running for state wide office soon….

  42. avatar Salle says:

    “I suspect you will see this particular prosecutor running for state wide office soon….”

    Yes, and the scariest part is, like Butch, he’ll probably win the election.

  43. avatar Mike Koeppen says:

    My wife and I joined WWP and made a contribution as soon as we heard about the lawsuit. We have spent many days deep in the Frank Church and have been lucky enough to see many wolves. It has always been a wonderful experience. I have a brother in Boise who shares this anti-wolf hysteria (we live in Western Montana). The Idaho Fish and Game make Montana’s look pretty darn good. Two springs ago, from Thomas Creek to the Flying B on the Middle Fork Salmon, we stopped counting after we saw 1000 head of elk. In that same time, we saw one wolf. Idaho Fish and Game likes to say the elk are really hurting in there, but our experience shows otherwise.

  44. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –
    ” Roughly 75% of all wolf mortalities in the NRs are human-caused and, given harvest objectives for this year in MT and ID, that number is likely to rise. FWS claims that state management will build “public support” for wolves, but provides no empirical evidence for this claim either.”

    I agree that better data on public attitudes and values would contribute to stonger wildlife management policies and management decisions. Public involvement and public opinion research should be a priority for all wildlife resource agencies. That knowledge is essential to best represent the wishes of the public trustees of the wildlife resource.

    That a large percentage of annual wolf mortality is human related is NOT noteworthy unless that human directed mortality threatens the viability/integrity/health/sustainability of the wolf population – “social and regulatory threats”. Suggesting that social attitudes contribute to “threats” to the wolf populations is unsupported conjecture – given that the RMR wolf population is stable or (likely) increasing at several times the number of wolves necessary to ensure a viable wolf population spanning at a minimum, three states.

  45. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jay Barr –
    The helicopter crash near Moose Creek in the North Fork Clearwater River drainage initiated an appropriate short term stay of aerial work for IDFG personnel for safety protocol review. Unless new developments require an extension of that stay, aerial survey and wildlife capture work will resume on Monday the 11th.
    I’m sure everyone reading this blog will be relieved to know that the two IDFG wildlife biologists and the helicopter pilot are resting comfortably in the Missoula hosptital with non-life threatening injuries.

  46. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeff E –
    The IDFG investigated this incident, cited the individual for misdemeanor illegal take of a big game animal – out of season and recommended prosecution. From that point, the legal system takes over. The prosecutor in this case, as described in the article, made a decision that he could get a conviction and dropped the charges. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon outcome in our criminal justice system for many wildlife and other criminal charges.

  47. avatar Salle says:

    Mark,

    Your agencyspeak makes you sound like a disingenuous politician, perhaps that’s your ultimate goal in the long term. Ignorant Idahoans tend to like that sort of thing.

  48. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Salle –
    I agreed with JB that social science research and data are valuable and necessary for sound wildlife management; clarified that despite negative social attitudes towards wolves, the NRM wolf population thrives and exceeds all criteria for ESA delisted status; clarified the IDFG temporary stay on aerial wildlife management work and announced the safety and well being of the helicopter pilot and biolgists; clarified the IDFG role in the dismissal of charges against the individual who admitted illegally shooting a wolf out of season in north Idaho.
    Anything specific that you disagree with in those comments?

  49. avatar gline says:

    Mark said: “… given that the RMR wolf population is stable or (likely) increasing at several times the number of wolves necessary to ensure a viable wolf population spanning at a minimum, three states.”

    Mark, how is the wolf population stable if their numbers are going down (in all three states)?

  50. avatar gline says:

    What about genetics?

  51. avatar Salle says:

    “Anything specific that you disagree with in those comments?”

    Yes, the fact that it’s all “political spin”.

  52. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    gline –
    Wolf numbers are not going down in all three states. The 2009 annual population estimate is being completed now – not complete and I haven’t seen a final annual estimate for Montana or Wyoming – yet, so there are no final numbers to refer to – yet. There is a good chance that we will record continued growth in the Idaho population, but we won’t know for a few more weeks. In any case, if and when wolf population growth is capped and wolf numbers are managed for specific target objectives – the RMR wolf population will continue to be managed for dependable sustainability well within the standards of the ESA. For now and under those future conditions, the management challenges for the states will be to identify the wolf population management objectives that best meet the needs of society, including you and others who desire optimum numbers of wolves for veiwing, spiritual value and ecological value. The good news now and in the future is that wolf re-introducton in the NRMR is a huge success and will continue to be into the future.

    Genetics?? See the post below that I’ve shared three times now. The best data for the NRMR wolf population document strong genetic variation and connectivity among wolves throughout the NRMR. There is NO legitimate concern regarding the genetic health of the NRMR wolf population.

    The USFWS and geneticists studying the NRMR wolf population attest to the genetic health of the NRMR wolf population. From a post many threads ago r.e. genetic diversity:
    “….I refer you to the USFWS delisting decision document (Final Rule to Establish a Gray-Wolf-Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment and Remove from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species, April 2, 2009) pg 229-231:
    “Genetic Considerations – Currently, genetic diversity throughout the NRM DPS is very high (Forbes and Boyd 1996, p. 1084; Forbes and Boyd 1997, p. 226; vonHoldt et. al. 2007, p. 19; vonHoldt et. al. 2008). Contemporary statistics for genetic diversity from 2002-2004 for central Idaho, northwestern Montana, and the GYA, respectively are; n= 85, 104, 210; allelic diversity = 9.5, 9.1, 10.3; heterozygosity = 0.723, 0.650, 0.708; expected heterzygosity = 0.767, 0.728, 0.738. (vonHoldt et. al. 2008). These measures have not diminished since 1995. The high allelic diversity (a measure of the richness of genetic material available for natural selection to act on) and the high heterozygosity (a measure of how gene forms are packaged in an individual, with high heterozygosity tending to lead to higher fitness) demonstrate all subpopulations withing the NRM wolf populations have high standing levels of genetic variability. In short, wolves in northwestern Montana and both the reintroduced populations are as genetically diverse as their vast, secure, healthy, contiguous, and connected populations in Canada; thus, inadequate genetic diversity is not a wolf conservation issue in the NRM at this time (Forbes and Boyd 1997, p. 1089; vonHoldt et. al. 2007, p. 19; vonHoldt et. al. 2008). This genetic helath is the result of deliberate management actions by the Service and it’s cooperators since 1995 (Bradley et. al. 2005).”
    “Genetic exchange at one effective migrant (i.e., a breeding migrant that passes on its genes) per generation is enough to ensure that genetic diversity will remain high (Mills 2007, p. 193).”
    “While vonHoldt et. al. (2007) found no evidence of gene flow int0o YNP, an expanded analysis by vonHoldt et al. (2008) has demonstrated gene flow by naturally dispersing wolves from other recovery areas into the GYA.”

    Wolf genetic diversity in the NRMR is high and has been since at least 1995. Wolves are remarkably prolific and very adaptive dispersers – individuals routinely moving hundreds of miles. No more than one breeding individual (usually dispersing females) per generation sharing its genes with a “foreign” population is required to maintain genetic diversity and prevent inbreeding depression in a wolf population. The likelyhood of NRM wolf populations failing to maintain genetic diversity under state management plans is extremely remote.”

  53. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Salle –
    OK, thanks. I want to be sure that I haven’t missed a point or comment of substance in this dialog.

  54. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    gline –
    Correction to my response to your comment on delining wolf numbers in all three states. My first sentence should read: “We don’t know yet what wolf numbers are in all three states.”

  55. avatar Jay Barr says:

    So a helicopter crash, thankfully no one too seriously hurt, requires only “an appropriate short term stay of aerial work for IDFG personnel for safety protocol review”- like just over the weekend when nobody is working? Doesn’t sound like safety is a real big concern with IDFG if things are back to normal 3 days after a crash.

  56. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jay –
    I assure you virtually everyone in this agency was aware of the accident and it’s impications by the end of Friday. Aerial work, for wildlife managers is inherently and unavoidably dangerous, but essential to effective, science based management. The biologists and officers who spend hundreds of hours in the air do so because of their passion for their responsibilities and a strong professional committment. The short term stand down will accomplish what it can – a serious review of safety protocols to make those dangerous job duties as safe as possible.

  57. avatar JB says:

    “Suggesting that social attitudes contribute to “threats” to the wolf populations is unsupported conjecture – given that the RMR wolf population is stable or (likely) increasing at several times the number of wolves necessary to ensure a viable wolf population spanning at a minimum, three states.”

    Mark: I think we both agree that the NRM wolf population was doing quite well under USFWS management? Under the watchful “eye” of the ESA wolves have thrived. The question is whether they will continue to do so under state management. The regulatory problems in Idaho have been covered many times over on this blog, but the above is case provides a good example of what we can expect to come. Specifically, the language of the statute dealing with wolves is so riddled with holes that the only way you could prosecute someone is to catch them in the act of killing a wolf (so long as pets and livestock aren’t nearby); and of course, the government of Idaho has made it amply clear that they do not want wolves.

    Regarding the link between attitudes and threats. The existing science clearly shows (a) a strong link between attitudes and behavior (b) that most ranchers and hunters in Idaho have extremely negative attitudes toward wolves. Of course, these two groups also have the most access to wolves and I believe I’m pretty safe in asserting that they also have the ear of the legislature. Thus, while I would agree that my assertion that social attitudes constitute a threat to NRM wolf population is “conjecture” (after all, the states have only been managing wolves since April), it is hardly “unsupported”.

    “Public hostility toward wolves led to the excessive human-caused mortality that extirpated the species from the NRM DPS in the 1930s. Such attitudes toward wolves are deeply ingrained in some individuals and continue to affect human tolerance of wolves.” –NRM Wolf Final Rule, 74 FR at 15,175

  58. avatar jon says:

    The only way wolves will really thrive is if wildlife services stop killing them simply because they are wolves.

  59. Mark Gamblin,

    No one is arguing wolf genetics in NR are impoverished now — not overall nor in Yellowstone Park specifically. VonHoldt et. al. 2007, and vonHoldt et. al. 2008 did not argue that either.

    The actual danger to wolf genetic integrity comes not from lack of migration but from non-random deaths.

    Hunting usually causes the random death of wolves, so it is less of a threat, but the elimination of entire wolf packs eliminates all of the genetic diversity in the pack.

    In places like the Sawtooth Valley, wolves will come back in as they have in the past, but the renewed wolf population in total over the broad area will not be as diverse even if the population is as large as before.

    If the entire packs removed by Wildlife Services are done so in a random fashion, even that would be less harmful to genetic diversity than taking all of them in an area (non-random), but Wildlife Services control actions of entire packs with disproportionate attention to certain areas. WS control as practiced maximizes the genetic hit.

    My conclusion is based on simple probability theory, and I could replace wolves with any kind of animal, and the conclusions would be that same.

    In terms of what is actually being done on the ground, I think Montana is a bigger offender than even Idaho with their concerted attention to the wishes of the local livestock lords, earls, dukes, and barons in Dillon, MT/Big Hole Valley/Deerlodge areas. These wolves have taken hit after hit after hit.

  60. avatar Salle says:

    JB,

    Actually, the State of Idaho was granted management authority of wolves in that state back in the first week of January 2004 when Gale Norton went careening into town ~ Boise ~ to sign off on the management deal she made with then Gov. Kempthorne, her successor as Sec. of Interior. For some reason Idaho couldn’t wait for delisting like Montana and Wyoming did. Although after the ruling that rescinded the delisting, Montana kept management authority afterward, only Wyoming lost it.

    So Idaho has had management authority for six years as of last week.

  61. avatar Jay Barr says:

    It’s hard to believe that your agency can complete a “serious review” of this crash over the course of 2 weekend days.

  62. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Jay,

    Not sure what to make of your point. Helicopters of various types are in use every for a variety of tasks throughout the US in urban (news casts and weather, exec and high level government official commuting, law enforcement) and in rural areas (research, rescue, maintenance, fire control and who knows what else) as well as military applications, and Hollywood movie stunts. Heck there is even an article in this Sunday paper with actor Harrison Ford flying an interviewer around in his private helicopter.

    For the most part it is a safe mode of transportation, though not inexpensive. Mechanical failure and pilot error are the most common problems. Most pilots are pretty careful as their own lives are at stake, which means both the machine and pilot are tip top. I am going to guess, helicopters are as safe or safer than riding in a car per passenger mile traveled (sorry don’t have the emprical data to support it at hand). I am going to disagree with Mark Gamblin about it being inherently dangerous.

    I do not know the specifics of the IDFG mishap. Maybe it has not been disclosed yet. But that shouldn’t bring things to a grinding halt for other agency helicopters, such as a product recall of a commercial aircraft which causes a particular model to be grounded until the cause is determined.

  63. avatar JB says:

    Salle:

    I suppose that all depends upon what you mean by “management authority”. Ultimately, until delisting took place in April, the buck stopped with the FWS; moreover, while state laws were in effect, the ESA provided additional protections via wolves’ listed status that are no longer in place. And of course, there was no hunting.

  64. avatar gline says:

    “Hunting usually causes the random death of wolves, so it is less of a threat, but the elimination of entire wolf packs eliminates all of the genetic diversity in the pack.”

    So hunting and WS together brings wolf numbers down twofold. I would like to read the final numbers when they are printed. And, combining all three states does not give a good picture. Final numbers should include natural death, “mystery” death, poachings, WS related killings, hunting, traffic, and any other known death. For MT and ID I would think the numbers have gone down considerably this year.

    Mark – I was thinking future genetics with WS and hunt eliminations- How are actions now create problems later.

  65. avatar Jay Barr says:

    My point is that most agencies, when an aerial incident occurs, take the time and effort to try to figure out why it occurred, and until a suitable explanation is found they don’t haphazardly allow anyone else to be involved in similar activities. While your points may be valid as far as the general use and safety of helicopters, I would submit that chasing wildife at low elevation in forested/rugged terrain goes beyond the everyday uses mentioned. Minimally I would think that IDFG would suspend further helicopter flights to determine 1) if they are really necessary to achieve their goals, 2) ascertain the reason behind this crash, and 3) reassess their safety rules/regulations regarding such an activity.

  66. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Salle,

    Is it possible you were thinking of the Idaho MOU of 2006?

    See link below:

    http://www.doi.gov/news/05_News_Releases/060105b.htm

  67. avatar JB says:

    To be clear about what I mean by a “regulatory threat”, Idaho law allows for wolves to be killed be killed by citizens whenever they are witnessed “molesting or attacking” livestock or domestic animals. Idaho defines “molesting” as, “the actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, driving, flushing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals.”

    Thus, anyone in Idaho can kill a wolf and simply say it was “annoying” my dog. IDF&G might cite them, but it will never hold up in court.

  68. avatar JEFF E says:

    so basically if a herd of cows, or cow scents a wolf 1/2 mile away and starts lowing, or your dog comes across a urine mark, no matter how old and growls one could maintain that constituted an occurrence of annoyance and shoot the next wolf seen.

  69. avatar JB says:

    Actually, it is worse than that, from an enforcement perspective. Essentially, anyone can kill a wolf they encounter for any reason and later (within 72 hours) claim, “it was annoying my dog”. Good luck to any prosecutor how tries to show otherwise.

  70. avatar jon says:

    Well said JB.

  71. avatar JB says:

    Thanks, Jon. My apologies for the typos/lack of proofreading. I’m on “kid duty” tonight, and it hasn’t been conducive to careful posting!

  72. avatar Salle says:

    WM,

    That would be the one, thanks for posting that so I could get my dates correct.

    So then, It was 2006. And as the opening line says, MOST of the management of the wolves which in essence was handing them the baton that they have been running with ever since.

    The document that Jeff E posted is just another slap given the multiple actions of the legislature to somehow rid the state of wolves by “whatever means necessary” and they do mean by whatever means… even if it is illegal legislation (which was my point). They are hostile to wolves, period and they will stop at nothing, even breaking the law by creating their own laws to clear them of whatever claims against them might be made ~ as long as they get to kill off the wolves no matter how long it takes.

    The biological necessity for wolves in the biosphere is far beyond their ability to grasp and it matters not that it is a problem for all human kind, as long as they get their short-sighted way, everyone else be damned. Truly 18th century rationale.

  73. avatar spanglelakes says:

    Re. Gamblin’s comment: “Aerial work, for wildlife managers is inherently and unavoidably dangerous, but essential to effective, science based management. The biologists and officers who spend hundreds of hours in the air do so because of their passion for their responsibilities and a strong professional committment.”

    Don’t be snowed by Gamblin’s response. The reason IDFG is flying helicopters in Idaho’s backcountry is to count elk and deer, and collar elk, wolves and deer. All this to eventually make the IDFG point that wolves are supposedly killing high numbers of elk and deer. Therefore justifying IDFG’s on-going war on wolves, which currently includes killing half of Idaho’s wolves. It’s not about “science-based mgt” at all. It’s about keeping your job and doing whatever it takes to alter the data when IDFG has to go before the IDFG Commissioners – aka – the Death Panel and present “facts” that say wolves are the sole reason for demise of deer and elk, or any hunter that didn’t come home with a deer or elk.

  74. avatar Cobra says:

    Mark,
    I’ve been reading about some concerns about wolves in Idaho and Montana having the hydatid tapeworms. From what I’ve read anywhere from 60 to 80% of the wolves tested had these tapeworms. In the Billings Gazette they said they were not harmful to humans bt I’ve also read that they could be. These worms also infect all ungulates including cattle. As they stated in one report the higher the population of wolves in an area the higher the risks for the tapeworm. Just curious what you think or know about this worm.

  75. avatar Si'vet says:

    Does anyone have a link to the article regarding the N Idaho wolf killed at 170yds. I would like to read. thanks

  76. avatar Save bears says:

    Cris,

    That has been discussed on several threads now..

  77. avatar vickif says:

    Cobra,
    I am pretty sure that canids get the worms from eating raw meat. Much the same way you or I would.
    Many humans have tapeworms too.
    In fact, it is the latest diet craze in some places, to drink and ingest tapeworms
    I am not positive on which type of tape worms are worse than others, but we worm a lot of stock an imals, and dogs.
    However, I am certain that worms can be ingested by animals consuming feces, or water where they exist.
    I am also pretty sure ungulates have had them all along.

  78. avatar vickif says:

    I am also pretty sure you are more likely to get a tapeworm from your pet, or raw meat, than any type of incidental contact with wolves.
    If you eat ungulates, just as with pork, cook it well.

  79. The tapeworms are in the scat. You can get tapeworms and numerous other nasty parasites from the scat of all predatory animals, including your dog and cat if they go outdoors.

    I think one reason why it is so unpleasant to step in dog or cat shit is because of its awful smell, and I think over time those humans who found if most offensive avoided it the most and lived to have more children as a result. Thus, the trait of hating its smell was perpetuated genetically — natural selection.

    At any rate, don’t pick up any kind scat from canids or cats without washing your hands. Absolutely don’t sniff it!

  80. avatar bob jackson says:

    Any “offical count” is always rift with politics. In Yellowstone it is the flawed bison numbers count after big reductions and in Iowa it is much higher numbers of pheasant counted than there really are.

    Until there is somebody on the “ground” allocated with the resources to conduct counts for wolves ….and elk…..who actually doesn’t have a vested reason to inflate (or deflate in elks case) the numbers one has to treat these numbers as another extension of political manipulation.

    Even the fed. wolf biologists wanted them delisted. Thus there is no counter to the usual heavier handed politically influenced G&F dept. of the state govt.

    All this needs to be recognized by the legal system and funds required for “counting” by independent review researchers.

    There is NO PEER REVIEW happening in the wolf issue!!!

    And as far as the Idaho F&G throwing up their hands in the wolf shooting case I say they are the ones responsible for the outcome in the legal system …… and if they really cared about the outcome they would be coming up with more percise regulations to protect against illegal killings of wolves. Since they don’t the Idaho F&G have to be names as co-conspirators.
    If this had been someone killing elk with regulations with no teeth in them I guarentee that language would be changed pronto.

    And on the field front, does MSG really think many game officers are going to even try to pass on a suspected wolf killing to the legal sysytem when they know there isn’t a chance in hell it will lead to conviction? No, and in the end it just makes idaho’s state game wardens cynical and demoralized. This is what happened with the fed. judges ruling implimenting unprosecutable limitations to the FW agents who were suppose to protect the endangered species act grizzly bears. Even the marshals who really cared said the hell with all of it …and transferred out. What will Idaho G&F wardens do? Either they become more redneck and go native or they get bitter and or apathetic.

    MSG’s office should do all they should for the wardens whether the legislature signed an non prosecutable law or not. Go to bat so the wardens have something that makes them proud of their profession. As it is now any wolf hater can rub wolf scat in any wardens face and the warden has to smell and eat it as well.

    Ya, quite the answer…that the prosecuter saw differently and “it is what F& G is faced with all the time”. All MSG’s regional office is assurring is everyone in the field hunching over the bar with communial “woe is me”.

    MSG, by his statement that they (Idaho F&G) did what they were suppose to do but the prosecutors saw different, is clearly a slap in the face to its own game wardens. They will see it as what it is…another political statement from regional offices that each of the game wardens setting collectively together at the bear claw donut shop…say, “What a crock of shit”….and then off duty all go to the same bar stools again.

  81. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Bob Jackson,

    Sounds like you are making the case for a resource intensive effort to attempt to count them all. As for wolves, if Dr. Mech is correct based on his decades of experience, the wolf population is undercounted by 10 percent or more, because of the methods currently used – and the inherent bias that results from wide range dispersion and the inability to catch up and track them using telemetry methods, with the added compounding of this error over time. Of course, collaring is a cornerstone of the current population estimation model. Your “count them all” advocacy would seem to suggest collaring more wolves – and maybe more everything, in the absence of other proven reliable techniques (Ralph has pointed to research in this area, and maybe it will produce better and cheaper alternatives). Any population tracking of wolves at a high level of precision and accuracy over time will become evermore expensive due to increased dispersion, including migration out of the three core NRM states. Are either the feds or the states willing to pony up funds in the current economic environment?

    Don’t know what to say about elk and deer population as being under or over estimated – certainly the more wolves the greater likelihood the ungulate numbers are likely to be adversely affected (from bears too). Do wolf advocates really want the answer to this question?

    Using your skeptical view, I could also make a counterargument case that states may be motivated to over-estimate the numbers of ungulates to keep license sales up (just as you have for pheasants in Iowa), or on the other side say ungulates are down because of wolves. For these reasons I do not believe IDFG or the other states would intentionally lie, or attempt to skew the numbers. And, I think the people who are assigned these tasks within state or federal agencies do have professional integrity, with a desire to tell the truth about the numbers, even though some people do not believe this.

    You are also, by default, apparently reinforcing the need for more detailed counts of various species in Wilderness areas, and maybe inadvertently making the case for use of helicopters there. Are you sure you want to go in that direction, Bob? I am not too keen on helicopters in Wilderness, nor are alot of other folks who post here.

  82. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Cobra – I’ve become aware of these worms only recently. I know little about their prevalence or the threat to human or wildlife health they may present. Something for all of us to become more informed of.

  83. avatar JB says:

    The risks associated with tape worms are extremely low. My wife (an epidemiologist) likes to joke that tape worms are the perfect solution to the obesity epidemic–eat all you want and not gain weight! 😉

  84. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    spanglelakes –
    “The reason IDFG is flying helicopters in Idaho’s backcountry is to count elk and deer, and collar elk, wolves and deer. All this to eventually make the IDFG point that wolves are supposedly killing high numbers of elk and deer. Therefore justifying IDFG’s on-going war on wolves, which currently includes killing half of Idaho’s wolves. It’s not about “science-based mgt” at all.”

    Yes and No. Yes, helicopter assisted aerial assessments of deer, elk, wolf populations, capturing and radio-collaring deer, elk and wolves to measure movement patterns, population production, sources of predation mortality and other essential elements of population dynamics and species interaction and using those data and quantified relationships – is by definition….. science based management. No, there is not “an on-going war on wolves”. That phrase does not responsibly describe population management programs and objectives that designed to meet the desires and needs of the stakeholders of these wildlife resources, satisfy the requirements of the ESA, and are based on sound principles of wildlife science. The use of helicopters to collect adequate and reliable population metrics for numerous species (deer, elk, moose, wolves in this case) in remote back-country geography is essential to science based wildlife management. Management without the quality of data we can only collect with aerial wildlife capture, monitoring and censusing would be less certain and less science based than the management we conduct with helicopters.

  85. avatar Cobra says:

    From what I’ve read about this tapeworm it lives not so much in the digestive tract but more in the liver, lungs and heart. I’m not to concerned about it because we butcher our own wild game. I was just curious to find out more about this particular worm. I’ll just keep looking. In the report I had read it did say that the worms could be harmful to humans.

  86. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Ralph –
    Actually, I believe that Vonholt et al. did argue that their data demonstrated there was insufficient genetic connection between the GY wolf sub-population and the greater NRMR wolf population and therefor insufficient genetic diversity in the recovering population.
    Regardless, I understand your concern that a wholesale removal of entire wolf packs would have a larger impact on population genetic diversity than a more random rmoval of individual wolves through hunting or specific depredation control actions. Assessing the risk of pack removal to the long term genetic health of the NRMR wolf population would/will require more analysis than the logical thought experiment you provide here. I agree that it merits consideration and with ongoing monitoring of the genetic status of the NRMR population – the genetic diversity and health of the greater population will be known continuously. With that real-time knowledge of the genetic status of the population, the demonstrated propensity of wolves for dispersal and distribution of genetic heritage, the facultative fecundity of wolves – I see little basis for an argument to re-list wolves to protect “genetic diversity”.

    • Mark Gamblin,

      I agree with much of what you write here. However, it was not arguing for relisting on the basis of insufficient genetic diversity now. I was talking about the future and the need to stop Wildlife Service’s current policy of taking entire wolf packs in what is usually revenge killing for the loss of one or two animals.

  87. avatar nabeki says:

    Sorry if this is posted twice.

    Mark G…
    All the talking points in the world won’t erase the fact over 500 gray wolves were lost in the Northern Rockies in 2009 from hunts, WS War on Wolves, SSS, poaching and general wolf mortality.

    The year began with wolves being delisted by the Obama Admin. So much for positive change in Washington. Then mere months after that bad decision, the states of Montana and Idaho were chomping at the bit to get hunts going. Over 25,000+ tags were sold to kill 295 wolves.

    We started out with 1650 wolves, which I think is a high number but I’ll go with it. After 500 dead and counting we’re down to around approx. 1130 wolves or less. Idaho still has 79 wolves to kill. The Nez Perce have 35 tags, looks like they won’t use them, don’t know.

    WS is gunning for what’s left of four entire packs in Montana, IE. The Battlefield Pack, The Miner’s Lake Pack, The Elevation Pack and the The Mitchell Mountain Pack, who apparently must die for agribusiness. AND Idaho has supposedly identified 26 depredating packs they would like to remove. Idaho also wants to land helicopters in the Frank Church to harass wolves even more then they already do. Thanks to WWP and the WRF, hopefully their plans will be thwarted but I digress.

    Oh and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the IDFG decision to implement a seven month long hunt, that extends into wolf breeding and denning season. Then we have the hatred and irrational fear of a segment of the population in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming that contribute to wolf persecution and influence decisions made by the State game agencies that think they can “manage” wolves as if they are deer or elk, even though wolves are nothing like deer or elk. Wolf packs have complex social structures and close bonds between members that are not being considered as evidenced by the indiscriminate killing of wolves during hunts. I call it the “wolf is a wolf is a wolf mentality. They’ll just make more so who cares if packs are disrupted, alphas killed, pups snuffed out? To compound this, WS routinely removes entire packs of wolves to further genetically isolate and fragment wolf populations, as Ralph acutely pointed out.

    The Sage Creek Pack could have provided Yellowstone wolves with a little genetic diversity, since they roamed a major wildlife corridor between Idaho and Montana. But the oh-so-vital government Sheep Experiment Station originally got them in trouble for killing ONE SHEEP. The station conveniently operates outside NEPA and is a major roadblock to wolf recovery but we can’t let those pesky details get in the way when we’re talking about “managing wolves”.

    Sheep experiment station avoids environmental analysis for decades
    http://ecoworldly.com/2009/10/09/4-wolves-gunned-down-by-feds-near-usda-sheep-experiment-station/

    Who are we managing wolves for again? Oh that’s right, elk hunters and ranchers.

    So to sum up I’d say 2009 was a banner year for gray wolves and their supporters in the Northern Rockies!

    http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com

  88. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    nabeki –
    I understand that you and others have desires and objectives for conservation and management of the NRMR wolf population that are not accomodated by state (or federal) wolf management plans and programs. Among those desires are that wolf management be based on the least possible human interference with wolf production and distribution. That would include little or no lethal control measures to minimize wolf population manipulation and, for some, respect or protect the “quality of life” of individual wolves.
    State wolf management plans will remain focused on wolf population management objectives that satisfy federal ESA criteria for a sustainable, viable NRMR wolf population for the foreseeable future, and a balance of desired social benefits from our wildlife resources that include wolves, their prey species and the habitat they all inhabit. Achieving those objectives will not satisfy all of the desires and objectives you and other wolf advocates prefer.
    That is not evidence that wolves will be mis-managed or that societal needs and desires will not be provided for in a responsible, balanced manner. The RMR population estimate of 1,650 wolves is known to be a conservative, underestimate. That is the safest benchmark to base management plans and decisions on. The annual population estimates for individual states or the total regional population will be available soon. We will know with greater certainty then if there is a population reduction or if each state or the regional population continues to grow. Whatever the final estimate is – from a wolf population perspective, the NRMR population continues to thrive, as a healthy, viable wolf population and will into the future.

    The philosophical conflicts between your preferences for wolf management and the course the states have taken will not be resolved any time soon – in my opinion. Responsible, balanced wolf management policy, programs and actions will require more human intervention that you are apparently able to support.

  89. Ralph,

    Kudos re: the WRF/WWP New Year’s Eve lawsuit. Indeed a cutting edge and forward thinking undertaking.

    A link to the Complaint would be most appreciated.

    Thanks!

  90. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Just so we don’t get too myopic on the subject of the status of wolves, here is an opinion piece from Michigan

    DNR, Upper Peninsula, Whitetails say delist wolves

    One side of the argument

    By Brad Soroka
    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 4:31 p.m.

    Read more: Local, State, Outdoors, Delist, Wolves, Wolf, Endangered Species, Hunting, Dnr, Whitetails

    NEGAUNEE — Wolves have been in the headlines lately, and everyone seems to have an opinion on what needs to be done about the growing wolf population in the Upper Peninsula.

    Here is one side of the argument:

    “There is no biological, ecological or frankly, sociological reason to keep wolves on the Endangered Species List. Those dollars should be spent on species in need of protection,” offers Russ Mason, the DNR’s Wildlife Division Chief.

    Three points Mason wants to make about the UP’s wolf population:

    1. They really aren’t an endangered species here. In fact, they’ve been recovered for more than a decade.
    2. The state has no authority over wolves but does have a plan if they ever do get authority.
    3. To get that authority, the state needs everyone’s help.

    “We need to keep pressure on the Federal Government. And of course, the ‘antis’ – those who would keep the wolves protected forever – are well funded. Lawsuits are expensive. It’s simply beyond our reach to fight the big dollars,” says Gary Modlin, President of the UP Whitetails Association of Marquette County.

    Mason agrees:

    “This delisting effort has nothing to do with biology. It’s got everything to do with fundraising. It’s got everything to do with money.”

    Then there are the people who want to take matters into their own hands. Some say that they’re so fed up with wolves, if they saw one in the woods, they’d kill it.

    “Folks need to understand that while those acts clearly reflect the anger and the frustration that people feel, every time a wolf is shot, that puts us one step further away from the goal line,” says Mason.

    “We need to be able to take a hands-on approach and manage the wolves, protecting them, but managing them so that they’re not running the show. And right now, wolves are winning the battle,” says Modlin.

    This is obviously only one side of the argument. Check back with UpperMichigansSource.com frequently to hear from those opposed to delisting wolves

    ———————–

    Do any of these positions and opinions sound familiar?

  91. Addendum:

    O.K. Found the link to WRF/WWP Complaint.

    Ralph,

    Having read it and many other works implicating Wildlife Services as the “hit men” for powerful livestock stake holders who are instrumental to their continued funding, it is de facto that, in violation of the ESA, NEPA, the Wilderness Act, et al., “WS routinely removes entire packs of wolves to further genetically isolate and fragment wolf populations.”

    In your opinion could one of the primary motivations to purposefully fragment wolf populations part of a politically motivated (i.e. maintaining “custom and culture”) land dividing agenda to carve up the last intact ecosystems into those which will be deemed “suitable habitat” * for wolves and other predators versus “unsuitable habitat” *– as evidenced by continued genetic isolation. (*Federal Registers).

  92. avatar nabeki says:

    Mark…
    When the states stop managing wolves for elk hunters and ranchers then we can talk. Wolves have been persecuted for over a hundred years and some things don’t change. Where are the environmental impact statements addressing the damage that has been done to wolves by WS? This is supposed to be science based? I don’t see it.

    Wolves are killed for minor livestock depredations in a tit for tat management style when wolves aren’t even the main predator in livestock depredation. It’s the coyote and wolves actually control coyote populations naturally. Over ninety percent of cows die from calving, disease and weather. I don’t see ranchers running to IDFG when a cow is hit by lightening or dies from a respiratory illness.

    Wolves are continually harrassed though darting, collaring, tracking, fly overs. Ed Bangs admitted 2% of wolves actually die from the trauma of collaring. Except for the Yellowstone and Glacier studies I don’t see the benefit of collaring wolves except to locate them for “lethal control”.

    Wolves are not elk and they shouldn’t be managed like elk or deer. The fact they are being treated as any other game animal speak volumes.

    http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com

  93. avatar gline says:

    I agree Nabeki, wolves are unique, family structure and loyalty. They are not ungulates!

  94. avatar Phil Maker says:

    Nabeki,

    Your passion and energy on behalf of wolves is great. Sometimes in trying to apply your arguments I lose something. “Ed Bangs admitted 2% of wolves actually die from the trauma of collaring.”- this is well within the standards of animal handling protocols by most universities and veterinarians. While everyone would like it to be 0 (or there be no need for collaring at all), that is unrealistic. I presume even you would like to nail the occasional poacher (however likely/unlikely that might be [but it has happened, even in ID])- and for the most part those cases are made with collared wolves. Compare the 2% mortality rate of wolf handling with the death rate of all surgeries conducted in U.S. hospitals; I’d bet that the death rate is higher for healthy people undergoing “routine” surgery than wolves subjected to capture/handling. My interpretation of your logic would then be that no one should undergo any type of surgery because they might die. Help me if I’m misunderstanding you.

  95. avatar JEFF E says:

    The spin

    “I understand that you and others have desires and objectives for conservation and management of the NRMR wolf population that are not accomodated by state (or federal) wolf management plans and programs. Among those desires are that wolf management be based on the least possible human interference with wolf production and distribution. That would include little or no lethal control measures to minimize wolf population manipulation and, for some, respect or protect the “quality of life” of individual wolves.
    State wolf management plans will remain focused on wolf population management objectives that satisfy federal ESA criteria for a sustainable, viable NRMR wolf population for the foreseeable future, and a balance of desired social benefits from our wildlife resources that include wolves, their prey species and the habitat they all inhabit. Achieving those objectives will not satisfy all of the desires and objectives you and other wolf advocates prefer.
    That is not evidence that wolves will be mis-managed or that societal needs and desires will not be provided for in a responsible, balanced manner. The RMR population estimate of 1,650 wolves is known to be a conservative, underestimate. That is the safest benchmark to base management plans and decisions on. The annual population estimates for individual states or the total regional population will be available soon. We will know with greater certainty then if there is a population reduction or if each state or the regional population continues to grow. Whatever the final estimate is – from a wolf population perspective, the NRMR population continues to thrive, as a healthy, viable wolf population and will into the future.
    The philosophical conflicts between your preferences for wolf management and the course the states have taken will not be resolved any time soon – in my opinion. Responsible, balanced wolf management policy, programs and actions will require more human intervention that you are apparently able to support.”

    No spin

    ………………. you and others have desires and objectives for conservation …………… of the NRMR wolf population…………. that are not accomodated by state ………….. wolf management plans…………………………………………………………..
    State wolf management plans will remain focused on wolf population management objectives that satisfy federal ESA criteria …………………………… those objectives will not satisfy …………………… objectives ……………….. wolf advocates prefer.
    ……….. evidence that wolves will be mis-managed ……………. will not be provided …………. population estimate of 1,650 …………. is the safest benchmark to base management plans and decisions on. …………… Whatever the final estimate is …………… wolf population ………………..conflicts between your preferences for wolf management and the course the states have taken will not be resolved ……………. wolf management…………… actions will require more human intervention ……………….

  96. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    What IDFG will tell you depends on who you are.

    At the scoping meeting wolves were brought up for a short period of time ( the discussion was moved to another topic by IDFG)

    Toby the Regional Wildlife Manager statement on the subject was something along the lines of,

    “Our ultimate goal is to get unrestricted management of Wolves so we can take this bull by the horns.”

    I wish i had recorded the quote but to me this means that no matter what line they say about genetic interchange sustainability etc the population will only decrease if oversight and threats of lawsuits decrease.

    also worth noting, Many in the crowd feel that a new injunction is forthcoming and the fall 2010 hunt will not take place.

  97. Thanks Nathan,

    I think you heard what Brian Ertz, and Ken Cole, and many others have heard at so many Commission and Department meetings over the last two years.

    Supervisor Gamblin speaks well on this blog where the participants are more favorable to wolf restoration than probably most hunters.

    A Fish and Game public meeting, however, requires different speech. So folks should make up their mind which way of phrasing it most reflects the planned reality.

  98. avatar Si'vet says:

    NH, I interpreted Toby’s input a little different, he and others from F&G took heat for things they had no control over with regards to wolves.They changed the subject because other than some old guy who had no clue about wolf management and had a son who thought 4 wheelers should run wiley niley over the land, there wasn’t anything to discuss. Toby did a very good job at mediating the meeting.

  99. avatar Si'vet says:

    Nathan forgot one point, you said many, one person talked about relisting, it was the guy in the black henley, and gray Budweiser hat, other than that it was pretty quiet except for the bald guy who wanted the wolf season to open earlier for archers… It’s a small world.

  100. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    -Si’vet
    I agree with you that Toby handled the meeting well. It was a good meeting, I was also very surprised to see ATV use dominate so much of the conversation.

  101. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the meeting.

    My mother had to go to the hospital. I was on the phone about it.

    From prior experience, I’m not too surprised about the ATV, but I thought wolves would be more prominent than they apparently were.

    When the Caribou-Targhee Travel Plan was last revised hunters fighting over ATVs was a big issue too (as well as other groups on both sides).

  102. avatar Si'vet says:

    Nathan, I’m glad to see ATV’s got some major attention, it gave that same guy who’s in his 50’s a chance to tell the overweight 48 yr old that during hunting season enforcing ATV laws is almost pointless. The atv law in this region are ok, but in my view, 1 mile in from a maintained road, everyone is a foot or horseback, do it for a couple of years and handicap people will be able to harvest an animal close to the gate. Handicap laws get abused, if your fat from eating that’s a self imposed handicap, not my problem. Park way out and walk into walmart for exercise. PS best turnout I’ve seen in years, told langston thanks for pushing it in his articles.

  103. avatar Si'vet says:

    Ralph saved you seat, still need to talk camera’s. I think F&G knows that relisting because of Wyoming is a big deal, so not much time spent. This newer group, including Toby, breath of fresh air. Not many of the old crowd left, and you know who I mean, as well as the old rednecks in the crowd.

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Quote

‎"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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