The Middle Fork zone had a limit of 17 wolves.

That is roughly 1/3 of the population estimated to be there. So far there have been 146 wolves killed in the hunt in Idaho.

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/wolf/quota.cfm

Of note is the death of wolf Y239 which was a disperser from the Greater Yellowstone wolf population and the alpha male of the Hoodoo Pack.

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About The Author

Ken Cole

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

85 Responses to Middle Fork Salmon River wolf hunting zone now closed

  1. avatar Layton says:

    “Of note is the death of wolf Y239 which was a disperser from the Greater Yellowstone wolf population and the alpha male of the Hoodoo Pack”

    Where did that information come from?? Was there another story somewhere??

    If a wolf disperses from the GYA, becomes an “alpha” in a pack in Central Idaho, and then is killed later in the Middle Fork drainage — doesn’t that tend to lend a bit of credibility to wolves being able to genetically “connect” among different populations??

    It also seems to me that I have read about other wolves mixing it up between Idaho and Yellowstone — and weren’t wolves from Yellowstone also found (hit by cars?) in Colorado?

  2. avatar Ken Cole says:

    That information is the result of public records requests. Also, B441 was killed too.

    “doesn’t that tend to lend a bit of credibility to wolves being able to genetically “connect” among different populations??”
    Yes Layton, it does, but only to the degree that wolves are able to disperse FROM the GYE and reproducing. To my knowledge the same has not been shown with respect to a wolf dispersing TO the GYE and reproducing.

  3. avatar Layton says:

    I’m just asking here so kind of bear with me if you would.

    Why would it only be a one way thing?? If wolves are dispersing (for one reason or another) FROM Yellowstone, why wouldn’t they be dispersing toward Yellowstone?

    Or is it that the packs in Yellowstone are so entrenched they kill other wolves that try to join them???

    Seems to me that there was a wolf killed up on Kelly Creek – or in that area anyway (I think by a car) that was older and had been documented in Idaho, then Yellowstone, then Idaho again — maybe one of the earlier “planted” ones??

  4. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Layton, I think wolves are dispersing, it is just that there has not been sufficient genetic exchange. It is not just the “wolfies” (I hope you don’t mind me stealing your word.) who are denying genetic exchange. The antis are as well when they maintain the whole “Canadian wolf” argument.

  5. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    ProWolf in WY –
    What do you mean by “there has not been sufficinet genetic exchange”?

  6. avatar Mtn Mama says:

    Layton,
    Colorado has had 2 confirmed Yellowstone wolves. In 2004 a young radio-collared female (293F) was hit and killed by a car on I-70 near Idaho Springs. In Feb. 2009 another young radio-collared female (341F) was found in CO alive, only a few weeks after her discovery she was found dead near Craig, CO (ranching territory-suprise), FWS still have not announced her cause of death a year later. Yes it seems that GYA wolves have dispersed as far South as CO (an impressive 400+miles). Since no wild wolves remain in CO, we need several wolves to disperse here before we will have a “wolf population”.

  7. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Mark, other than your assertions that it is likely that wolves from Central Idaho or NW Montana have contributed genetically to the GYE is there any hard evidence or are you just going on a hunch?

  8. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    What do you mean by “there has not been sufficinet genetic exchange”?

    There has not been much genetic exchange. Wolves dispersing and wolves breeding are different.

  9. avatar Wendy says:

    Layton

    Since the wolf is now dead, he will not pass on his genes to anything (mating season began this weekend) so the chance to “prove” the point has been lost.

    FYI, all dispersing wolves risk injury and death when visiting other wolves territories; some packs are able to defend their territories better than others. But most Yellowstone packs in particular are less able to defend their territories this year, because the majority of packs are quite small (due to pup mortality and other factors) and because mange is
    “decimating” them, so if there was ever a year for dispersing wolves to find success, this is it.

    Genetic diversity in the western states is completely possible, but people have to agree to leave enough dispersing wolves alive for it to occur. So far, that’s not working very well.

  10. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Layton,

    You raise a great point about the “why would it just be a one way thing?” We need to keep asking this question.

    The wolves in the Great Lakes areas move back and forth, according to the WI telemetry data. So, while the dispersing area is most often from MN, with its larger population to WI, there are different collared WI bred wolves moving across into MN. If it can happen there, it seems logical it could happen in the NRM.

    One would guess that as Yellowstone wolf density decreases, maybe the elk population will readjust upward and some new wolves will come in looking for food and a mate (they don’t always kill each other especially during mating season), while even other Yellowstone wolves keep moving out.

    The genetic exchange thing always irritates me, because if it is needed USFWS or the states can always come up with new Canadian stock with entirely new genetic makeup to cure ANY alleged “lack of” argument in a very short time at not very much cost – certainly significantly less than this stupid litigation at the hands of Defenders and the like, which does not really solve the problem. WA, in its draft wolf plan has translocation and introduction of genetic stock front and center in its contemplated strategy. As it should be.

  11. avatar Layton says:

    Prowolf,

    “There has not been much genetic exchange. Wolves dispersing and wolves breeding are different.”

    They are?? Any “canines” that I know about pretty much disperse TO breed — I know you’re gonna tell me that wolves are different and above all those “basic instincts”. And I’m NOT going to believe you!!

  12. avatar wyowind says:

    What is all this about “genetic exchange” anyway???? Don’t all of the populations come from the same group of 66 wolves captured in Alberta and B.C. in 94 and 95? That in of itself limits the gene pool, regardless of numbers. If there were 6,000 wolves in the release and adjacent areas, it wouldn’t create more “genetic” diversity, only an increase in the number of inbred and line-bred wolves. The only way to reach any true “genetic exchange” would be to import more wolves from previously untapped areas of Canada. I would bet the Canadians would be all too happy to give us more animals…. or if that were to fail, they could go trap some from Minnesota or Michigan or Alaska. They are all the same species anyway, right? VW

  13. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Yes wolves disperse to breed but that doesn’t mean that they are all breeding. You said so yourself wolves have made it to Colorado. Is there a breeding population there? Wolves have made it to Utah. Are they breeding there? One or two wolves dispersing does not amount to genetic exchange. I am not going to tell you that wolves are above basic instincts. I may be a wolfie but I know that their basic instincts are to eat and have sex. 🙂

  14. avatar Phil Maker says:

    As pointed out, the simple fact that you leave your pack with the intent of spreading your genes does NOT guarantee that you will successfully pass on your DNA. Mortality rates for dispersing wolves are higher than for those that remain with packs, so a wolf may die before it gets the chance. Layton, I buy lottery tickets every week with the intent of winning it big- does that mean I will? No.

  15. avatar wyowind says:

    No matter, if I have 20 dogs, and they are allowed to breed over a period of 10 years, and I now have 2,000 dogs, those 2,000 will all genetically go back to the original 20. There will be no genetic diversity without bringing in fresh, unrelated blood. Numbers don’t matter when the original genetics were finite and were from the same origin. Perhaps new blood is needed to help improve the immune system, etc. of currently existing wolves. Too much inbreeding can be a killer (i.e. Isle Royale)

  16. avatar JEFF E says:

    ….or if they do breed that the pups will survive
    i.e. the unknowens and the druids

  17. avatar JB says:

    “The genetic exchange thing always irritates me, because if it is needed USFWS or the states can always come up with new Canadian stock with entirely new genetic makeup to cure ANY alleged “lack of” argument in a very short time at not very much cost.”

    WM: Actually, I think this type of action is way more complicated than you describe. Wolves in the NRMs have beed delisted and are now subject to state “management”. The FWS has no authority to reintroduce new wolves, and given the states outright hostility toward wolves, it seems highly unlikely that any of them would undertake such an action. Thus–at least as I understand it–wolves would either have to be relisted or the NPS cajoled into reintroducing more wolves. Both actions would require at the very least an EIS.

  18. avatar Save bears says:

    Based on what has happened since 1995 with wolf restoration, and my personal experience working in a game dept, I can assure you, the idea of bringing wolves in to assure genetic exchange will see the Supreme Court in Washington DC in about 20 years before it would ever happen, that is not a viable solution to genetic exchange!

    LOL

  19. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Pro Wolf, Ken, Phil –
    I’ve posted this several times on differenct threads. There are no legitimate concerns regarding the genetic diversity of the NRMR wolf population and therefore, genetic conectivity within the same. The following is from the USFWS delisting decision (April 2, 2009).

    “Genetic Diversity Relative to our
    Recovery Criteria—Currently, genetic
    diversity throughout the NRM is very
    high (Forbes and Boyd 1996, p. 1084;
    Forbes and Boyd 1997, p. 226; vonHoldt
    et al. 2007, p. 19). Wolves in
    northwestern Montana and both the
    reintroduced populations are as
    genetically diverse as their source
    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). Genetic
    connectivity resulting from natural
    dispersal alone, even in the GYA,
    appears adequate to prevent genetic
    drift and inbreeding depression that
    could threaten the wolf population. As
    a result, there is currently no need for
    management activities designed to
    further increase genetic diversity
    anywhere in the NRM DPS. However,
    should genetic problems ever
    materialize, an outcome we view as
    extremely unlikely, the States will
    utilize agency assisted genetic
    management to address the issue.
    Because genetic changes happen very
    slowly, the States would have many
    years, perhaps decades, to design and
    implement appropriate remedial
    actions. In short, the NRM wolf
    population is not now and will not ever
    be threatened by genetic diversity
    issues. This issue is discussed further in
    our response to comments and in Factor
    E below.
    Recovery and Genetics issues raised
    by the July 18, 2008 federal court
    injunction—The July 18, 2008, U.S.
    District Court for the District of Montana
    preliminary injunction order heavily
    cited vonHoldt et al. (2007). This study
    concluded ‘‘if the YNP wolf population
    remains relatively constant at 170
    individuals (estimated to be YNP’s
    carrying capacity), the population will
    demonstrate substantial inbreeding
    effects within 60 years,’’ resulting in an
    ‘‘increase in juvenile mortality from an
    average of 23 to 40%, an effect
    equivalent to losing an additional pup
    in each litter.’’ The court also cited
    previous Service statements that call for
    ‘‘genetic exchange’’ among recovery
    areas. The court further stated that
    dispersal of wolves between the GYA
    and the northwestern Montana and
    central Idaho core recovery areas was ‘‘a
    precondition to genetic exchange.’’ The
    preliminary injunction order cited our
    1994 EIS (Service 1994) and vonHoldt et
    al. (2007) to support its conclusion that
    a metapopulation had not been
    demonstrated in the NRM.
    The vonHoldt et al. (2007) paper did
    an excellent job of analyzing the
    empirical data regarding the pedigree
    for YNP wolves. That data proved the
    ‘‘almost complete’’ natural selection for
    outbreeding by wolves and the high
    genetic diversity of wolves in YNP. We
    appreciate their recognition of our
    deliberate efforts to conserve genetic
    diversity. Specifically vonHoldt et al.
    (2007) stated that ‘‘Overall, our findings
    demonstrate the effectiveness of the
    reintroduction in preserving genetic
    diversity over the first decade of wolf
    recovery in Yellowstone’’ (vonHoldt et
    al. 2007, p. 19). Furthermore, we agree
    that any totally isolated wildlife
    population that is never higher than 170
    individuals which randomly breeds will
    lose genetic diversity over time. It is
    also true that high levels of inbreeding
    can sometimes, but not always, result in
    demographic issues such as reduced
    survival or reduced fertility. Such
    outcomes sometimes, but not always,
    result in demographic problems that
    threaten population viability.
    However, we question many of the
    assumptions that underpin the
    predictive modeling portion of
    vonHoldt et al. (2007) study’s
    conclusions. First, while the study
    found no evidence of genetic exchange
    into YNP (8,987 km2 (3,472 mi2)), the
    Park is only a small portion of the GYA
    (63,700 km2 (24,600 mi2)). Further
    limiting the study’s ability to detect
    genetic exchange among subpopulations
    is the fact that most wolves that disperse
    to the GYA tend to avoid areas with
    existing resident packs or areas with
    high wolf densities, such as YNP.
    Moreover, even among the YNP wolves
    the study was limited to a subsample of
    Park wolves from 1995–2004 (i.e., the
    radio collared wolves). Thus, not
    surprisingly, subsequent analysis of
    additional wolves across the GYA has
    demonstrated gene flow among the GYA
    and the other recovery areas (vonHoldt
    et al. 2008; Wayne 2009, pers. comm.).
    It is also important to consider that
    our ability to detect genetic exchange
    within the NRM population is further
    limited by the genetic similarity of the
    NRM subpopulations. Specifically,
    because both the central Idaho and GYA
    subpopulations originate from a
    common source, only first and possible
    second generation offspring of a
    dispersing wolf can be detected.
    Additional genetic analysis of wolves
    from throughout the NRM population,
    including a larger portion of the GYA
    than just YNP, is ongoing.
    Second, the vonHoldt et al. (2007)
    prediction of eventual inbreeding in
    YNP relies upon several unrealistic
    assumptions. One such assumption
    limited the wolf population analysis to
    YNP’s (8,987 km2 (3,472 mi2)) carrying
    capacity of 170 wolves, instead of the
    more than 300 wolves likely to be
    managed for in the entire GYA (63,700
    km2 (24,600 mi2)) by Montana, Idaho,
    and Wyoming. The vonHoldt et al.,
    (2007) predictive model also capped the population at the YNP population’s
    winter low point, rather than at higher
    springtime levels when pups are born.
    Springtime levels are sometimes double
    the winter low. Most importantly, the
    vonHoldt et al. (2007) assumed no gene
    flow into the area; an assumption now
    proven incorrect.

  20. avatar JB says:

    WM: I’m also interested as to what you think “the real problem” is? From my perspective, Defenders is litigating because their members are dispersed across the nation and these members wish to see wolves protected. Defenders (and their national membership) have no (zero) clout with state agencies; thus, they serve their–and their members–best interest by attempting to keep wolves under federal control. Moreover, forcing FWS to get the delisting “right” with wolves will hopefully set a precedent for future delistings and decrease subsequent litigation.

  21. Mark
    Shooting 1/3 of of the wolf population in an area where livestock depredation is not a problem seems a little heavy handed. It seems that just a few years ago you guys were saying we had an elk over-population problem in the middlefork.

  22. avatar JB says:

    “However, should genetic problems ever materialize, an outcome we view as extremely unlikely, the States will utilize agency assisted genetic management to address the issue.”

    Mark: In all seriousness, can you tell me straight-faced that the IDF&G would even consider reintroducing wolves to increase genetic diversity? I think the odds of this happening are much lower than the odds that wolves would become threatened by lack of genetic diversity, especially should states choose to pursue even more liberal harvests.

  23. avatar JEFF E says:

    JB,
    The idea that Idaho would lift a finger to do anything but reduce wolves to a bare minimum number is laughable on the face of it.

  24. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –
    Idaho (I can’t speak for Montana) recognizes that moving wolves within the NRMR is one legitimate management tool to assure genetic diversity within the population – if necessary. With our current understanding of the high genetic diversity of the NRMR population, as early as 1996, and therefore the connectivity of wolves within the extant population – the likelihood of human intervention to maintain genetic diversity is remote, as you note.

  25. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    JB,

    ++The FWS has no authority to reintroduce new wolves, and given the states outright hostility toward wolves, it seems highly unlikely that any of them would undertake such an action++

    If you need a technical distinction, I probably should have distinguished who does what in the way of translocation depending on whether wolves are in a listed or delisted status in a particular state. I am still not sure that USFWS wouldn’t be involved or even leading a translocation, if a managing state wanted/needed new DNA to avoid a lack of genetic diversity or connectivity. The states get their authority under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the agencies, and the relationship is a coop arrangement under the ESA, if I understand it correctly.

    I have little doubt it would get done quickly by cooperating states or USFWS if the states are managing, because they would not want to loose that status. I cannot imagine an EIS (maybe an EA with FONSI) would be required, because it is merely a continuation of the same management practice from 1994.

    The “real problem” that I eluded to regarding the genetic arguments of the delisting suit from 2008 and the current one is that there is a quick and inexpensive fix for that particular issue, and it need not hold back delisting. Some might call it a “red herring.”

    Defenders et al, raised it as an insurmountable problem in the first round with Judge Molloy, and he was understandably cautious in rendering his decision. I expect he could have overwhelmed by the complexity of the science involved, and it provided him another reason for listing again because of WY. This round, I predict genetic connectivity will have a much, much less promininet role in the decision.

    Rather, as we have discussed before here, it is more likely going to turn on technical definitions and legislative intent underlying the Distinct Population Segment concept and how it was applied by FWS, as well as excluding WY from the delisting. However, I still don’t understand the practical implications of continuing to have wolves listed in WY, since it is infinitely safer for growing the population than having WY as a manager under any kind of plan.

  26. avatar Dusty Roads says:

    So, just to clarify how Idaho is dealing with wolves and how little concern there is for real facts when it comes to dealing with the wolf population and the genetic health and longevity of that population… Straight from the horses’ mouths…

    Note: In a (199?) survey of Idaho residents concerning the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho showed that 2/3 of them were in favor of the reintroduction.

    This report is from someone attending the latest [Senate Resources Committee] session on 01/30/10. The transcripts are available if you request them.

    Tony McDermott, representing the Panhandle Region on the Fish and Game Commission, came before the Senate Resources Committee for approval. Wolves were part of the agenda.

    Senator Siddoway wanted to know why this hunting season set a quota of 220 wolves instead of 440 and if the Commissioners were threatened in any way by Judge Molloy or the Court to reduce this number. Commissioner McDermott replied no; the Commissioners felt that authorizing a harvest of 440 wolves might be seen as being too aggressive and would threaten the wolf hunt and that 220 would allow the hunt to go forward.

    If wolves are relisted, Senator Siddoway hopes that IDFG will be ready to move ahead under the 10j rule to reduce numbers. “I hope we do some drastic, draconian measures.”

    Commissioner McDermott noted that the majority of Idahoans did not want this animal reintroduced. He noted that most citizens realize that wolves need to be and must be controlled. In his district, he estimates that ten percent of the people would like to eliminate it from the state entirely and five percent or fewer would like no hunt.

    Interestingly, Siddoway had concerns about using Wildlife Services to kill wolves that were impacting ungulate numbers. Instead, he advocated utilizing hunters for the sporting opportunity. His thought was that Fish and Game was denying two hunting opportunities: first, the opportunity of hunting ungulates because the numbers were so reduced by wolves, and second, the opportunity hunting wolves if you let the Feds do all the shooting.

    Commissioner McDermott noted that wolves in Idaho take as many elk as sportsmen (an estimated 12,000 last year). He would like to see wolf numbers reduced to 150 wolves, but agreed to having 500-700 with 518 being the goal for this year.

    Senator Siddoway requested a commitment from IDFG Commission and Department that entire wolf packs would be removed following livestock depredations instead of only targeting one or two wolves. No one bothered to explain to the good senator the issue of other wolves reoccupying that space.

    Senator Pearce stated that “I feel we have been pushed around by the Federal government and have allowed small groups to influence policy and destroy our game herds. At what point do we stand up to the Feds and be more like Wyoming? Our people are donating their livestock to the cause. When are we going to say that we’ve had enough, you’ve pushed us too far.”

    I suggest that if you have any questions you direct them to Mr. Gamblin or ANY of the representatives named in the text above. Everyone should insist on seeing the transcripts. Furthermore, perhaps asking the Interior Dept. to respond to this situation would be a good place to voice your concerns.

    Monty J. Pearce (R)
    Rancher
    Capitol Contact (Session Only):
    Room – WW27
    Phone – (208) 332-1325

    Jeff C. Siddoway (R)
    Rancher
    Capitol Contact (Session Only):
    Room – WG33
    Phone – (208) 332-1342

    Department of the Interior
    Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar
    http://www.doi.gov

  27. avatar Cobra says:

    Keep the wolf hunts and let Ranchers and others fend for themselves. If it was like it used to be and you had to take care of your animals maybe they would be more apt to watch their herds. It’s the chance you take when grazing on public land. It would be intersting to see if the guys that run cattle on their own spreads watch their herds anymore than the ones that don’t. I’m not against Ranching at all, grew up on and around them most of my earlier life and even without wolves thay lost cattle to cats, bears and even coyotes, made them mad but they took care of their own problems back then and it seemed to work itself out.

  28. avatar Salle says:

    “It would be intersting to see if the guys that run cattle on their own spreads watch their herds anymore than the ones that don’t.”

    In my experience of observing that very subject it seems that the ranchers who are interested in doing away with wolves on the landscape do not tend their cattle well. My guess is that they figure that any predation on their livestock is just another “nail in the coffin” for wolves and besides, in the past they were compensated at market value for the animals killed. Even though many non-lethal management tools and many protective practices and tools have been developed since 1995 specifically to address predation on livestock, few choose to employ them – including employing enough personnel to “tend” to the livestock when in pasture whether on public or private land.

  29. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Salle,

    Why do you suppose these livestock owners do not want to use the “many non-lethal management tools and many protective practices and tools (that) have been developed since 1995 specifically to address predation.” a

    And why did/do they not want to take advantage of the compensation for the value of lost animals at market price?

  30. avatar JB says:

    “The states get their authority under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the agencies, and the relationship is a coop arrangement under the ESA, if I understand it correctly.”

    There is some confusion here. It is my understanding that once wolves in the northern Rockies (sans Wyoming) were officially removed from ESA protections, management authority returned to the states (though FWS is required to monitor for 5 years). That doesn’t mean that states could not request assistance from FWS in translocating wolves, but ultimately, states are in charge of wolves and managing them under the same authority as they manage other species (i.e. the public trust doctrine, and state law).

  31. avatar Salle says:

    WM,

    As I stated above: My guess is that they figure that any predation on their livestock is just another “nail in the coffin” for wolves.

    Any opportunity to look like the victim is the objective, if they lose livestock, they look like victims… There is no requirement for them to do their jobs, ei, watch over their “precious” flocks. There is no job performance reviews for these losers and therefore, no incentive to actually operate responsibly. If they can make the wolves look like the unrestrained murderous villains who victimize them, it makes their case… in their minds.

    Many wouldn’t take the compensation either due to pressure from the rest of the livestock industry, because it makes them look like they are giving in, or they don’t take it because they want to make a statement or both. Many will tell you straight out that this is why.

  32. avatar JB says:

    To add an element of “realism” to the discussion on genetic connectivity. I find FWS’ analysis (cited by Mark, above) misses the point entirely. Of course wolves in the NRs are as/nearly as genetically diverse as their source populations–wolves have only existed in these areas for 15 years (hardly enough time to show genetic problems). The relevant questions are: (1) will states maintain large enough populations to avoid a genetic bottleneck, and (2) will state management allow wolf populations to persist in large enough numbers that wolves from different areas will be able to find one another and breed, and therefore function as a metapopulation. Ultimately, genetic connectivity will hinge upon states having adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to promote genetic exchange. Whether state management will accomplish this is a much more complex question than the very simple one answered by FWS (above).

  33. avatar JB says:

    Sorry, hit the “submit” button to quickly. I wanted to add that Dusty’s comments show just why policy/politics (not genetics) are at the root of the problem. If IDF&G reduces wolves to 150, as some commissioners apparently desire, a genetic bottleneck and subsequent extinction of the population become much more probable.

  34. avatar bob jackson says:

    Phil Maker,

    Actually an animal does not have to produce offspring to pass on its characteristics….whether herds or packs.

    And MSG’s “sound science” experts he quotes don’t have a clue what “genetic diversity” evolutionary evolves from. MSG’s “scientists” cause management of wildlife whether packs of wolves or herds of elk to be quite dysfunctional…and actually inhibits real genetic diversity in everything they get their little hands around in the “labs”.

    Real diversity, advancement and survivalability of species characteristics comes from maintaining natures herd or pack infrastructure. This is where genetic diversity speeds up exponentially. Basing genetic diversity on individuals, where mutation of any dna is haphazard or hit and miss ….compared to structured blood related “families”…. where the composite organization is what competes with other “organizations” is where the real diversity hot bed is.

    It is where ALL animals in this family pass on their genes. And when one of these animals disperses to actually breed it is passing on all that packs or herds characteristics.

    As I have said before, present day wildlife biologists and their MSG administrators…like MSG….are pig farmers. There is nothing in todays pigs that is worth anything outside that confinement building and everytime Idaho or Montana sets a hunting season for wolves that busts up that packs infrastructure the further one gets from true genetic diversity.

  35. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    JB,

    I have not given any thought to the mechanics of taking back responsibility from a state which has accepted management responsibility for a delisted species, and subsequent return of a species to ESA listed status. Maybe the recently grizzly court proceedings is instructive – if the ESA requirements are not met, and a third party objects with a federal judge agreeing the species goes back on the list under the protection of FWS. Pretty clean, quick and simple.

    However, it seems with wolves, rather than grizzlies, where the species is highly adaptive, and genetic diversity and connectivity can be determined through continuing monitoring, and subsequently dealt with by translocation of new stock, the feds and the state(s) would work cooperatively together at early stages of the process. For example, see the following:

    From ID, Wolf Conservation & Management Plan adopted 2003, page 24:

    Interagency Coordination
    Upon delisting, IDFG will coordinate monitoring of wolves and their impact on other wildlife populations. IDFG will coordinate among the federal and state land management agencies, USDA Wildlife Services, the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, the USFWS, and the Nez Perce Tribe in their respective roles in wolf monitoring during the 5-yr. post-delisting monitoring period as required by the ESA. IDFG will coordinate monitoring of wolves that border or range into neighboring states with wildlife staff’s of those states.

    ID – Dept. of Interior MOU 2006. (Seems to focus on 10(j), but may have broader application.

    http://www.fws.gov/pacific/news/2006/documents/IDWolfMOA.pdf

    There is probably more that I am missing.

    AND
    JB, as long as new genetic stock keeps coming down from Canada into northern WA, ID and MT there will be a continuous inflow of natural genetic diversity over time. Whether there is successful connectivity will be a function of the state(s) management, of course in consultation with FWS. So, there is incentive there for them not to screw that up, as well. And, I agree with your last two sentences on the subject.

  36. avatar bob jackson says:

    I like Salle comments because he gets to the root of reasons and subsequent actions…such as ranchers not reporting wolf predation.

    And as for predators and domestic herd animals husbandry I’d say to look no further than how the tribes in Africa have protected their livestock for centuries while these animals were literally surrounded by the likes of lions hyenas, and all other sorts of predators that can take down a cow or sheep. Why can’t our Western livestck producers do the same thing? Techniques so simple but impossible in an attitude of arrogance is the reason why.

  37. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    Bob – I feel confident that the ranchers have some very simple means at their finger tips to protect their livestock – it is the legal inability to use those means as they see fit that is the problem. The attitude of arrogance is from the federal government Bob – you should know, you worked for them.

  38. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Salle,

    Those are the obvious ones for the labeled “victims.”

    Two more factors should be added.

    1) Recurring captial costs and recurring labor costs for those non-lethal methods for which there is no compensation.

    2) Labor cost of proving up a predation claim and the risk of having it rejected – find the animals (sometimes not easy to find carcasses and conclusive proof of wolf depredation), coordinating with the investigating agency, doing the paperwork and hoping your claim is accepted.

  39. avatar Chuck says:

    If I remember right didn’t an Idaho wolf make it over to yellowstone to join one of the packs?? Someone with a better memory then mine might be able to chime in here. So its not a one way street. I am sure that because of the close proximity that both wolves and grizzlies are venturing back and forth. Heck maybe its just like the game we played as kids, stand in the road until you see headlights then run to the other side and hide. Tuesday’s humor

  40. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    Quick Question – how many here have run a cattle operation in wolf country full of wolves?

  41. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    Sorry – livestock operation.

  42. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    JB,

    Sorry, in my haste to post, I forgot the most important one, the December 2008 MOU between USFWS and MT/ID- Protection of Genetic Diversity of NRM Wolves. And this is one you should definitely read, because it goes to the very heart of the issue.

    http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/signed_genetics_MOU.pdf

  43. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Bob,

    ++look no further than how the tribes in Africa have protected their livestock for centuries while these animals were literally surrounded by the likes of lions hyenas, and all other sorts of predators that can take down a cow or sheep++

    My stereotypical vision of your scenario is, for example, a Massai with a spear herding his dozen or so cattle or so behind an accacia (thorny bush) fence at night. Of course, he has been with them all day long. Nothing else to do. Subsistence life, and he and his family live in a mud hut, poop on the ground and hope the UN/US will eventually provide them a safe water supply. Is that your vision, Bob?

    Same scenario in many parts of the undeveloped world. India, for example, where famed tiger hunter and author Jim Corbett made a handsome living killing man-eating tigers, that went after rural villagers livestock from the 1900- 1940’s. Hundreds, maybe thousands just like him, in Africa, India and elsewhere, they just don’t write about it.

    I don’t like the subsidized public grazing either, but livestock ranching in the West is entirely different than other parts of the world, and maybe another time. We should mention they do this to make a profit, a living, so they can buy the nice new Ford F250, a 700 cc ATV, and have cable/sat for their big screen HD TV. Don’t spend a dime on the business if you don’t have to, bend the rules, and if you do, don’t get caught, and use your political pull whenever you can, force the regulators to look the other way, if you can. Sounds alot like Wall St, and corporate America to me.

  44. avatar JB says:

    WM:

    When wolves in the northern Rockies were delisted, FWS gave up all authority with respect to the species (with the exception that they are required to monitor wolf populations for 5 years). Wolves are–like any other species–the property of the citizens of the state in which they reside.

    I went ahead and read the MOU. Lot’s of good-sounding language (from a wildlife supporter’s perspective) but not a word of it is legally enforceable. As I recall, this was Molloy’s problem with much of the “regulatory mechanisms” that FWS cited in the case of the grizzly bear.

    I think it is also important to point out the signatories: IDF&G Director, MTFWP Director, and USFWS Region 6 Director. Interestingly, Idaho Code explicitly states:

    “The department of fish and game of the state of Idaho is hereby placed under the supervision, management and control of said Idaho fish and game commission…”

    [and]

    “The director shall have general supervision and control of [IDF&G]…under the supervision and direction of the commission…”

    Thus, the director’s signature is only as good as the intentions of the commission, at least one of whom has clearly expressed his desire to further limit the wolf population. Moreover, the commission’s control is still subject to state law. Idaho’s legislature has made it amply clear that they do not want wolves and would like nothing better than to remove them all. With wolves delisted, the ONLY mechanism preventing the legislature from removing wolves right now is the threat of relisting. I’ll leave it to others to decide if this represents an adequate “regulatory mechanism” to prevent wolf populations in the DPS from becoming threatened or endangered again.

    Certainly everything you’ve written with regard to the ease of translocating wolves and increasing genetic diversity is true, but that doesn’t make it politically feasible.

  45. avatar Mgulo says:

    WM:

    Corbett never made a handsome living hunting tigers: he worked for the railroad and hunted predatory tigers and leopards at the request of the government, mostly taking personal leave time from his job to do it. The majority of the money from his books was donated to care for Indian soldiers injured fighting WWI and WWII for the British Empire. He was never a wealthy man. He was a fifth-generation country-born Indian of Irish extraction who regarded himself as a citizen of the British Commonwealth but would not have been welcome in the homes of most of the British officials he served. He was also one of the earlist proponents of photography instead of shooting tigers and was probably the first real champion of tiger conservation.

    I do agree with your characterization of large livestock operation owners though – I recognize half my cousins in that caricature! They like to stop by mid-winter on their way to the Islands for their vacation to tell me how poor and put-upon they are.

  46. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Mgulo,

    Thanks for the additional background on Corbett. He was also a colonel in the Indian Army, and by no means a pauper. I read a couple of his very interesting books, and understood he did well on the sale of them (they were a hit for their time in the US and GB) And, yes I knew in his later years he was a photographer, and a conservationist well ahead of his time. I used him only as an example for a self help or contracted service tool to deal with problem predators. Certainly different continent, different problems different resources, but wanted to show Bob’s solutions are not as simple as he portrayed.
    _______________

    JB,

    The points you raise are valid as to ID’s potentially ambiguous “committment” to manage wolves. Certainly, the oversight and coordination responsibilities of FWS do not go away after delisting, initially for the 5 years following delisting, and they will no doubt be looking over the shoulders of these first NRM states, as well as subsequent repopulation as it occurs in WA, OR, UT, CO and maybe even the Dakotas.

    Authority can go back to FWS pretty quickly on the stroke of a federal judge’s pen.

    It is not unusual for a state Commission to delegate authority to its administrative department head regardless of the function, say a state highway department for example.

  47. avatar Mike Koeppen says:

    I am sad to see that the wolf quota for the Middle Fork was met, because if there’s one place wolves belong, it’s deep in the Frank Church.

    In the last few years, while along the Middle Fork during the fall hunting season, I thought it was interesting that the vast majority of hunters in the back country were from out-of-state. And, they did not have the rabid anti-wolf attitudes that Idahoans profess so loudly.

    This past November, at the Soldier Bar Airstrip, I met a IDFG warden, only the second I’ve ever seen in Idaho’s wilderness in the past 40 years, but he wasn’t too interested in visiting about wolves.

    I wasn’t surprised, he being from the agency that condones placement of traps and snares right in the backcountry trails, and the attachment of same to USFS pack bridges, which effectively blocks passage, violating three federal regulations.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about IDFG, is that like elsewhere, they base many of their decisions on politics and commercial interests, not biology.

  48. avatar Mgulo says:

    WM:
    I take your point. The most skilled predator tracker/control specialist I know maintains that it is critical to take out the particular animal that is doing the predation to effectively deal with the situation and is fond of saying all predation is individual in location, in time and in the animal that is doing it. That being said, he often follows up with “But getting that individual animal requires skill, perserverance, luck, time and budget. It’s much more cost effective for managers to take out whole groups.” He doesn’t advocate that but he does point out that, from the standpoint of a manager concerned about budget and staff time, etc., it is often more expedient. I understand that as well – doesn’t mean either of us like it.

    Corbett’s Colonelcy was largely honorary and dated from his time training British commandos in jungle survival during WWII. It was designed to bring him out of retirement for war service and give him a better pension. He was strictly middle-class economically through most of his life and mentions in at least one of his books that he feared having to break off pursuit of at least one tiger because of the financial cost he was incurring in being away from his job for so long – he supported his sister and himself with his railroad salary. He was not paid extra for his hunting and any rewards he collected for killing notorious animals he paid back into funds for victim’s families. As I said, most of his book income he donated to care for injured Indian soldiers – particularly those who lost their sight.

    But you’re right – highly skilled individual contract hunters operating under strict control are the most effectve means of taking out individual “offending” animals – if it is economically feasible and physically possible.

  49. avatar bob jackson says:

    WM,

    You note early 1900’s…a time when a lot of tigers normal food sources were gone…kind of like when the bison were exterminated quickly and then the wolves were desperate for food…and thus easy to kill.

    My reference was to the earlier times recorded ..the 1700’s …when wildlife was very abundance in Africa…and as you say, was noted towards the Massari.

    My thoughts on cattle producers…if they are going to graze public lands then more attention, a lot more, should be required of them. If needed give them a sword and a sword only, so if those wolves charge and leap up at them with teeth barred and foam streaming out, they can fall to the ground and dig the butt of the spear into this ground…and take the charge lying down.
    Maybe it will humble them a bit …and allow them to finally realize them mght actually like to be a part of nature, not just subjegate everything around them.

  50. avatar JB says:

    WM:

    They certainly will be required to “look over the shoulder” of Idaho and Montana. As for the other states, well, I wouldn’t bet on it. FWS spends a fair amount of ink in the Final Rule arguing that these states are inconsequential. By the way, you need look no further than Utah to see an illustration of just how inadequate regulatory mechanisms are.

  51. Mike Koeppen,

    What is this about “placement of traps and snares right in the backcountry trails, and the attachment of same to USFS pack bridges, which effectively blocks passage, violating three federal regulations.” ?

    I hope to be skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in the Frank Church wilderness in the near future? Do I have to worry about crossing pack bridges?

  52. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –
    ” I find FWS’ analysis (cited by Mark, above) misses the point entirely. Of course wolves in the NRs are as/nearly as genetically diverse as their source populations–wolves have only existed in these areas for 15 years (hardly enough time to show genetic problems). The relevant questions are: (1) will states maintain large enough populations to avoid a genetic bottleneck, and (2) will state management allow wolf populations to persist in large enough numbers that wolves from different areas will be able to find one another and breed, and therefore function as a metapopulation.”

    The genetic health and connectivity of the NRMR wolf population today is relevant because it clarifies the mischaracterization by some that the NRMR wolf population should remain listed for not meeting genetic criteria – i.e. genetic diversity and connectivity. Clearly, the nRMR wolf population (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, YNP) is genetically diverse and connectivity is established.
    I agree with you that the current status of NRMR wolf population genetic health does not “guarantee” any future genetic status of the same. The good news is – it is very unlikely that the NRMR wolf population will be threatened by genetic foundering through loss of connectivity or any other cause. If that very small risk should come to play, the states can easily manage that risk by moving wolves within the NRMR.

  53. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Mark Gamblin,

    Can you shed any light on the issue JB and I were discussing above, about who does what, in the event new genetic stock were to be desired by ID from, say Canada, or from new genetic origin stock originating in Canada (BC) but which had already migrated to northern MT or WA.

    Who plays lead on this, the individual state or FWS, and would the process differ depending on whether NRM DPS wolves were delisted (but perceived to need a genetic diversity or genetic connectivity infusion) or listed?

  54. avatar JB says:

    Mark:

    We hear frequently that the number of wolves in Idaho has been underestimated; that, rather than ~850 it is probably over 1000. But we also hear that at least some of the IDF&G commission wants to reduce the wolf population to 150–and plans to do a better job counting them in places like the FCW (presumably so they can ensure that there are no “extra” wolves around).

    Granted, connectivity of sub-populations does not appear to be a problem with 1000 wolves; the question is will it be a problem when Idaho blasts them back to 500? What about 150? Since the only regulation in place demands 15BP/150 wolves, is this regulatory mechanism sufficient to guarantee connectivity in the future?

  55. The issue has never been about wolf genetics or population in Idaho now, but after Idaho Fish and Game Commission and Wildlife Services has their way.

    Therefore, repetition of today’s excellent genetics is not very relevant.

  56. avatar JB says:

    To be clear, the point I was trying to make is that the legal question–with respect to the ESA–is one of adequacy of regulatory mechanisms. Specifically, if genetic diversity and connectivity are required for delisting, are the regulatory mechanisms in place adequate to ensure these two factors do not threaten wolf populations in the DPS in the future?

  57. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    WM –
    If wolves remain delisted and under management authority of the state, then (without consulting our legal counsel) I believe the state could choose to introduce wolves from other portions of the NRMR or from Canada.
    If wolves are returned to listed status, then I believe that the federal government (USFWS) would hold the authority and responsibility to implement that management decision.

  58. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –
    There is only one wolf population management objective – 518 wolves (2005 wolf population). The IDFG and Fish and Game Commission is confident that genetic diversity and connectivity will not be harmed by that management objective. Again, if that unlikly risk should develop, it will be easily detected with current genetic monitoring tools. The states can easily implement alternate management strategies to correct a potential, though unlikely genetic bottle neck.

  59. avatar JB says:

    Mark:

    What’s to prevent IDF&G from changing that objective to 150 tomorrow?

    I have no doubt that the good people at IDF&G COULD “easily implement management strategies” to correct a genetic bottleneck; however, I very much doubt that they WOULD.

  60. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –
    I can only suggest that doubters put themselves in the position of a state leader. What incentive is there, to a person in a position of responsibility to the people of Idaho, to see wolves return to federal control? The position of the state of Idaho is that management of all Idaho wildlife, including wolves, belongs to the state. By not ensuring that wolves meet necessary federal delisting criteria, the state would work against it’s own interests. I suggest that is a compelling reason to trust the state to manage for a viable and sustainable wolf population. By definition, that would mean managing for healthy genetic diversity and connectivity.

  61. Mr. Gamblin,

    Respectfully, how is the giving of green light by Idaho’s IDFG Regional Supervisors to Wildlife Services to wipe out a number of whole packs (with unknown alleles), particularly in critical migration corridors (e.g. Centennial Mountains near the Sheep Station/ e.g. Basin Butte pack) commensurate with “managing for healthy genetic diversity and connectivity”?

    I await your considered answer. Thank you in advance

  62. Mr. Gamblin:

    Addendum: Concomitantly, I received the impression from Todd Grimm (of Wildlife Services of course) when I spoke with him a while back that there is no protocol in place that a green light on a “control action order” by any one Regional Supervisor must be coordinated ahead of time with any other Regional Supervisor regarding a pack which may in a critical genetics migration corridor.

    Your address of this point would be most appreciated as well in your answer to my first question. Thank you again.

  63. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Valerie Bittner –
    The measured removal of individual wolves and, when necessary, wolf packs to reduce conflicts with private property depredation and balance wolf population objectives with other wildlife management objectives is commensurate with ensuring critical migration corridors and managing for healthy genetic diversity and connectivity – because those necessary management actions are not in conflict with the aformentioned priorities for responsible wolf management in Idaho and Montana.
    This is demonstrated by the stable or slight increase in the NRMR wolf population this year, with those management actions you referenced. If you meant to infer that removal of one or more wolf packs in the vicinity of “critical migration corridors” threatens the genetic diversity or connectivity of wolves on either side of the migration corridor – your reasoning is not clear.

  64. Mr. Gamblin,

    First of all, thank you for your speedy response.

    Secondly, does “measured removal” include prior coordination with any or all Regional Supervisors before control actions on wolves are carried out, particularly in the case of whole wolf packs known to travel back and forth within critical migration routes?

    Thank you.

  65. avatar JB says:

    “What incentive is there, to a person in a position of responsibility to the people of Idaho, to see wolves return to federal control?”

    Mark: One could ask the very same questions of Wyoming, and yet they choose federal control. But let me address the Idaho question directly with a hypothetical scenario.

    Suppose next week IDF&G decides that it can maintain genetic diversity with just 10 breeding pairs or ~150 animals. Or suppose Idaho’s legislature determines tomorrow that it has had enough and wants to eliminate wolves to the greatest extent it believes it can (we will use the figure 150 in either case). How many years will relisting be held up while we study (a) the diversity issue and (b) the connectivity issue? Because I can guarantee you that FWS won’t relist lightly.

    The truth is that your legislature and your commission are decidedly anti-wolf and there is absolutely no regulation preventing them from reducing wolves down to 10 breeding pairs (or if you go by the MOU, which isn’t legally enforcable, 15/150). So in this hypothetical scenario, it may be 5, 10, 15, 20 years of managing wolves at the bare legal minimum before researchers determine that populations are not interbreeding or that genetic diversity is declining.

  66. avatar JB says:

    From the very beginning of this conversation I suggested the fundamental underlying issue was one of trust. Wildlife conservation groups and advocates of predators have no (zero) reason to trust Idaho’s decision makers (i.e. the Idaho legislature and the IDF&G commission). Neither of these groups shows any interest in wolf conservation–outside of delisting. Idaho’s legislature has made it clear that their preferred option is to remove wolves completely. I have no doubt that, sans some form of federal protection, the state of Idaho will ultimately choose to “manage” wolves for the fewest number that they deem legally possible.

  67. avatar JEFF E says:

    JB
    …and that would be ~500

  68. avatar NW says:

    It’s worth noting that genetic connectivity and reproduction, the bugaboos that have made Rocky Mountain wolf recovery such a contentious issue, were never included in the wolf recovery plan for the Western Great Lakes wolf population. For an animal as adaptable, mobile and prolific as the wolf, it might have been best to use numbers alone as recovery criteria.

  69. JB,

    I think it was bad for the agency — Idaho Fish and Game — to assume management of the wolves, not that the agency had any real say. They were told to manage wolves.

    My reasoning is this.

    For years some hunters, maybe a lot blamed IDF &G for lack of success on their hunt. This was probably wrong and stupid, but it was true that they did. I heard it all the time.

    When the federal government restored the wolves, these hunters suddenly had the feds and the wolves to blame. IDF & G was finally sitting in a good place.

    Now with wolf management responsibilities all sides are angry at the department, both anti-wolf militants and pro-wolf activists. The department is beset with lawsuits, albeit indirectly, and threats from the legislature. The great wolf debate is causing a loss of hunting tag revenue because the department is not allowed to say “elk hunting is fine,” or at least fine over the big majority of the state.

    they should hope, quietly I guess, that EarthJustice gets the wolves relisted.

  70. avatar JB says:

    Ralph:

    I agree. I think it is only a matter of time before Idaho’s legislature adopts the tact taking recently by Utah. Not that I believe they will direct IDF&G to completely eliminate wolves; Mark’s reasoning is very sound in this regard. Rather I think it is more likely that they (or the commission) will begin to “experiment” to see how many wolves they can eliminate before the feds stand up and take notice. The wolf is just too potent a political symbol for the federal government hating, pro-ranching legislature to resist.

  71. JB,

    You might be right. It is also a diversion from a focus on the state’s economic woes.

    There was a recent article about the governor’s “Statehouse for a Day” going to rural Shoshone, Idaho. Guess what? Wolves were not on the minds of the rural folks. It was economic hardships of many kinds. Given that you can always try to divert folks’ attention.

    The presumption is that Republicans will do very well in Idaho in 2010, as they usually do; but voters can also decide to just throw the incumbents out.

    Your average American/Idahoan can’t name their state senator or representative, but in Idaho the best guess is that he or she is a Republican. So there has got to be worry that people need to be focused and refocused by those now in power.

  72. avatar JB says:

    Ralph:

    That’s a very interesting observation. Not sure if you remember, but the summer of 2001–when times were good and there wasn’t much going on politically–the big story was shark attacks. Of course, 911 changed all of that.

    Perhaps people only get fired up about wildlife issues when times are good? On the other hand given the symbolism of wolves in the West, perhaps they will overcome that general rule?

  73. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –
    I won’t presume to speculate on future decisions by our legislature. I also wouldn’t assume that the actions of the Woming legislature are are precident for or prediction of actions by our legislature. It is a fact though, that the policy of the state of Idaho is to manage for a viable and sustainable Idaho wolf population that meets ESA delisting criteria set by the USFWS.
    If our wolf population remains under state management authority and control, then a host of other appropriate considerations, including diverse desires and preferences for wolf management objectives, will be considered and addressed by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in wolf management decisions. That is the appropriate management framework for all wildlife not under federal management direction.

  74. avatar Jon Way says:

    Mark,
    your comments above are well stated but not believable by many of us. For one, if diverse desires are considered than why aren’t there any wolf free hunt zones dedicated to wildlife watching? I personally think that folks like yourself would agree that that is a reasonable request but I don’t ever see any fish and game commission (unless forced to somehow) ever putting wildlife watchers (or other user groups) above hunters/trappers, even for one instance like one wolf hunt free wildlife watching zone (of course this is one example of many, what about predator derbies?).

  75. avatar JB says:

    “It is a fact though, that the policy of the state of Idaho is to manage for a viable and sustainable Idaho wolf population…”

    It is also a fact that Idaho policy regarding wolves could change tomorrow. If I were the federal government, and I’d spent what has been spent on wolf recovery in the northern Rockies, then I’d want more than the F&G director’s word on the matter.

    “If our wolf population remains under state management authority and control, then a host of other appropriate considerations, including diverse desires and preferences for wolf management objectives, will be considered…”

    Judgments about what considerations are appropriate aside, I genuinely believe that IDF&G’s commission will “consider” the preferences of a diverse set of stakeholders. Unfortunately, given what we’ve seen in the past, I’d say it is highly likely that the views of non-hunting conservationists will be considered and summarily dismissed. This type of “consideration” can actually be counterproductive; that is, if IDF&G has no intention of making any sorts of compromises to suit non-consumptive interests, then all the show that goes into such considerations is essentially a waste of everyone’s time.

  76. Mr. Gamblin,

    Perhaps you missed part two of my question regarding your assertions that IF&G are “managing for healthy diversity and genetic connectivity” and facilitating “measured removal” of individuals and whole packs.

    Again, does “measured removal” include a protocol driven coordination with any or all Regional Supervisors BEFORE control actions on wolves are carried out, particularly in the case of wolf packs known to travel back and forth within critical genetics migration routes?

    Thank you very much in advance.

  77. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Valerie B. –
    As an attorney active in wildlife litigation, I’m sure you are aware of and tracking the on-going litigation of the de-listing decision and concommittent challenge to state management authority of wolves. I’m also sure you understand that it is inappropriate for me to be answer this question or any other similar question that goes to the issues being challenged in court. I’ll be happy to discuss this with you after the conclusion of the current law suit.

  78. Mr. Gamblin,

    Then why bother asserting time and time again on this site that IDF& G is “managing for healthy diversity and genetic connectivity” (in addition to other variations) in the first place if you are unable and/or unwilling to back this core issue with fact-based specifics?

  79. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Valerie B. –
    I can not speak to those questions or issues that our AG Office legal counsel advise me not to. Your question was one of those. As I said, once the law suit is resolved, I will be happy to discuss your specific questions in detail.

  80. Mr. Gamblin,

    Again thank for you speedy reply. It seems as though my line of questioning may have come uncomfortably close to the truth of the matter.

    Since I, like most, do not currently have the benefit of legal discovery concerning the lawsuits against IF&G, reluctantly, I must engage in supposition.

    I surmise that your non-answer to my perfectly appropriate follow-up question, as to whether “managing for healthy diversity and genetic connectivity” and measured removal” include a protocol driven coordination with any or all Regional Supervisors BEFORE control actions on wolves are carried out, particularly in the case of wolf packs known to travel back and forth within critical genetics migration routes, speaks volumes.

    Concomitantly, assuming, arguendo, that there is no formal instra-state collaboration amongst Regional Supervisors before lethal control actions are ordered (particularly against whole packs within and adjacent to critical migration corridors), how is it that IDF&G has been compliant with the interstate mandates of the Memorandum of Understanding On Protection of Genetic Diversity of NRM Gray Wolves, which mandates (in part) that: “The States … will collaborate to continue to maintain a demographically robust population and preserve genetic diversity by ensuring opportunities for natural connectivity?”

    While I do not expect to receive the truth through IF&G officials perhaps someone has the answers. As such I believe the preceding questions should be raised repeatedly until the truth is revealed. After all, lives and a priceless part of our national heritage continue to be at stake.

  81. avatar Layton says:

    So Mr Gamblin has the ethics to present himself as what he is – a person that works for the Idaho State Fish and Game Department.

    OTOH one of his main detractors would seem to be lacking that same bit of ethics or moral fiber. Instead she chooses to simply harass, badger and bait Mr. Gamblin when she knows he’s is in a corner.

    Interesting!!

    Layton, does this add anything to the conversation? -admin

  82. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    Layton, admin,

    I think the point is that Mark Gamblin told a questioner he cannot speak about matters in litigation on the advice of the Department’s lawyer. This is a reasonable response and should be respected, especially if the questioner is himself/herself a lawyer.

    The problem is this: Information offered by Gamblin could go from an informal informational post on this public blog, then to adverse parties to be used in the litigation and could be misconstrued.

    The questioner again asks carefully crafted lawyerly questions, which are prefaced, “Since I, like most, do not currently have the benefit of legal discovery concerning the lawsuits against IF&G, reluctantly, I must engage in supposition.”

    The follow-up, then, is that since you (Gamblin) won’t answer, I will reach my own conclusions (suppositions) without your response, and think the worst. That is capped by a claim that “I do not expect to receive the truth through IF&G officials.”

    So, the questioner would not believe the response, EVEN if he gave one. Then, why ask the question, more than once, in the first place, except to harass?

    If a questioner asks, the same thing over and over again, of a represented party, even though this lawyer is not part of the litigation, but is sympathetic to an adverse party’s interest, it crowds the line of legal ethics and is not good manners, in my view.

  83. avatar Phil Maker says:

    Bob Jackson,

    In your response to my post you contradict yourself in the space of a few sentences: “Actually an animal does not have to produce offspring to pass on its characteristics….whether herds or packs.ace of a few sentences”; followed by “It is where ALL animals in this family pass on their genes. And when one of these animals disperses to actually breed it is passing on all that packs or herds characteristics.”
    Sorry to tell you that an animal does have to successfully breed to pass on its DNA. I will concur that there is some “cultural” behavior/knowledge that a non-breeding animal may contribute to its kin, but normally this would only occur within its natal group (the one into which it is born, specifically the case with wolves). The issue of genetic connectivity between NRM wolf pops. cannot be solved by the latter- it actually does require the physical transfer of chromosomes.

  84. Wilderness Muse,

    I know Bittner. I don’t think she would mind if I said she does not represent any party in this lawsuit, including intervenors.

  85. Wilderness Muse, et. al,

    I am confirming the same: I want to make it perfectly clear: As Ralph knows I have not to date nor do I currently represent any party to the lawsuits against IF&G, USFWS, eta al., nor am I a member of one of the party organizations (except for subscribing to the NRDC). However, I may in the future intervene on behalf of a non-profit pro-wolf organization (depending on the outcome of Judge Molloy’s hearing).

    If I were participating as a litigator, of course then, I would be constrained by all of the rules and ethics surrounding legal discovery, and as such would not be able to ask probing questions of involved government officials. I have never hid my identity from anyone (which admittedly can be stressful at times) nor my views as a citizen observer/commentator on the issues raised on this site.

    I have been successfully practicing for more than twenty years on behalf of environmental and animal justice and maintain excellent ethical/legal standing in both Washington and Idaho.

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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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