Montana’s U.S. Jon Tester and his 2012 Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg, are debating which one deserves the most credit for pulling the wolf in Montana off the Endangered Species Act-

George Ochenski of the Missoula Independent sees this debate as illustration why 87% of Americans say Congress is doing a terrible job.

The dumbest debate. Wolf flap illustrates why we don’t love Congress. By George Ochenski. Missoula Independent.

 

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

39 Responses to Wolf flap illustrates why we don’t love Congress

  1. avatar Mike says:

    Both of these guys are an embarrassment to thinking Americans. Tester sold his soul in order to yank a pillar from the ESA so he might have a chance at re-election. Tester disgusts me more than Rehberg. I know what Rehberg is. He’ll tell it to my face and I can go about my day knowing what to expect. Guys like Tester are shape shifting backstabbers, and far more of a problem to the Democratic Party.

  2. avatar Immer Treue says:

    This quote says it all.

    “What’s been lost in the continuing partisan mud-slinging is the actual consequence of the action, no matter who was responsible. Congress decided to override science where endangered species are concerned and declare, by fiat, that a species should lose its protected status because of political pressure from the narrow interests of local hunting and stockgrowing lobbies. It’s hard to imagine a less honorable issue over which to beat one’s political chest, but there you have it.”

    Let the boycotts begin.

  3. avatar Paul says:

    I don’t know how much it will matter, but my wife and I cancelled a vacation that we planned for this month to the Yellowstone area. We will also not purchase any produce (especially potatoes and beef) from these three states as long as these insane wolf “management” policies are in effect. I am somewhat torn on this as I would love to support pro-wolf businesses in those states if anyone knows of any. I certainly do not think that they should suffer because of the insane policies that their politicians have put into place.

  4. Idaho sales tax receipts are below projections this past quarter. Boise made the top twenty cities in the nation with economic problems. This makes Idaho very vulnerable to a boycott. I try to find out which businesses are anti-wolf here in Idaho and make sure they don’t get any business from me. I got a haircut in McCall last month and the male barber started telling me about the “Canadian” wolf problem. I told him not to expect my business in the future.
    Ralph- Is it possible to start listing businesses to boycott? I can think of some rental cabins with blue roofs in Stanley that are owned by one of the anti-wolf crowd. I hear that the cabins are infested with giant Canadian bedbugs that take up to a pint of blood with each feeding.

    • avatar timz says:

      Ron Gillette owns the cabins in Stanley as you enter the town from hwy 21. They have been or were for sale for a long time, don’t know if he sold them or not yet. I have not been over there this summer.

    • avatar Paul says:

      Larry, if you or anyone else knows of any pro-wolf businesses or lodging in the Yellowstone area I would appreciate it. I would certainly like to support them. The rest will not get a cent of my money. Boycotting anti-wolf businesses or organizations is the only way that I can directly fight back, no matter how insignificant my contribution (or lack there of) may be. Let’s just hope that many others follow suit and the impact is felt all over the anti-wolf states.

      • avatar Jon Way says:

        Paul,
        Most of Silver Gate is pretty good/pro-wolf – esp. the Pine Edge Cabins in Silver Gate. A few businesses/hotels in Cooke City are pro-wolf as well.

          • avatar Mike says:

            Nice. I correspnod with a ton of people heading to Yellowstone, and I’ll mention Pine Edge anytime someone asks about lodging.

        • avatar Paul says:

          Thanks Jon. If we go next year I will feel better knowing that my money isn’t going to wolf haters. It may not be very effective, but at least I have some say where my money goes to.

          • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

            I think generally there wouldn’t be any incentive for business owners in Cooke City-Silver Gate to be anti-wolf. It is (at least was in the early 70s when I hunted near there) about the only area in Montana, excepting the Bob Marshall Wilderness, where the elk rifle season opened on September 15 and spanned the rut. However, for some reason there were very few elk on the Montana side ever, from either the Clark Fork or Northern Yellowstone herds (however, they seemed to be much more common where we hunted not far across the Wyoming border, starting at Willow Park). A high school friend (who had to commute by small bus about 60 miles each way through the park to school in Gardiner) tried hard every year and he did get one near Cooke Pass, but it was considered almost a fluke. We rented pack horses once from a low rent, hillbilly outfitter at Cooke Pass who had been taking clients out on the Montana side for over 3 weeks without getting one. When we stopped over in Cooke a year ago, I saw more mule deer than I ever remember — so I don’t think there could be much complaint there, but I doubt many hunters travel there to hunt deer anyway. Anyway, I think business in those towns from hunting is vastly over-shadowed by wolf-watchers and general tourism.

          • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

            Actually, I suppose the 1988 fires could have changed things considerably since I was there in the 1970s — it may explain the apparent abundance deer, and there was the account of an elk killed by wolves in Soda Butte Creek this summer.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          At one time the Super 8 in Gardiner offered a discount for wolf watchers in the winter.

          I talked with the owner/manager, she said the wolves had greatly improved winter business. However, she was at the time moving to run a larger establishment somewhere else.

          After that I think things changed.

          I did pick up from her, however, the knowledge that local motel owners disagreed about wolves and a lot of other issues. She saw one local owner with more than one motel as a nasty land raper and she was happy that he too was leaving.

          This was all going on ten years ago.

  5. avatar Immer Treue says:

    I have not bought a potato, period, since Idaho came out with their plan. I’ve been avoiding red meat, save venison for a while. I have a small amount of influence on where some people may travel in the near future, including myself and would like to add as much “positive” pressure to the cause. I am not against a “fair” management of wolves. Montana is as “***close***” to fair as the three states come, Idaho has grossly overreacted in terms of season length and no total quota, and Wyoming is lost in a tailspin of hate.

    My opinion is outfits such as DOF dragged this on too long, then abandoned ship. They could save a bit of face by adding organization to pressure and address a fair, science base management of wolves, not the whim of the livestock lobby and a few rabid hunters.

  6. avatar Mike says:

    I haven’t had red meat in years. I also avoided Wyoming and Idaho this year. I spent most of the time in Montana, but did a ton of shopping before I left. It’s hard to avoid anti-predator establishments because you don’t know everyone’s views. I had no issue purchasing supplies from park service stores inside Glacier, as well as a couple places in Big Timber.

    • avatar Elk275 says:

      Mike, if you drove down the Bitterroot Valley this year beyond Darby, how did you avoid Idaho? I can’t be done; I can be done if one really knows the back roads well and the roads are passable. Once you get to Lost Trail Pass and continue into Montana, one still has to drive approximately 1 mile through Idaho before entering Montana and the Big Hole Valley.

      Lets be real. The Pro Wolf people are not going put a hurt on any Montana, Wyoming or Idaho business. Chico Hot Springs are booked full until late October and has been for the last year. All my fishing guide friends are booked full until the end of the season and if a pro wolf person cancels, so what there is another fisherman wanting his space and besides, pro wolf people tip small. Wolf people numbers are very small and any impact statewide is not going to affect the state.

      You posted that your trip was going to be 45 days of tenting. How are you going to hurt anyone? You camp, cook your own food and purchase gas. Example. The one who’s boycott is going to hurt is a fisherman who books 5 days of guided fishing, stays in a $150 bed and breakfast, decides that he/she needs the latest Sage Rod, an equal reel, new waders and wants a dozen flies of each pattern that in current use.

      And you and I do not differ much. I tent and spend as little as possible, except that I eat out as much a possible. The only businesses that are going to be hurting are businesses that support what you support.

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        We are the “Saudi Arabia” of natural gas. A few eco-tourists aren’t going to hurt the economy in the coming years, once we start extracting natural resources.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Wolf Moderate,

          The United States is not the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

          While there are quite a few natural gas “resources,” most are uneconomic to develop and/or do a great deal of damage to the land, to folks’ property and health if developed, e.g., fracking.

          In Saudi Arabia the reserves of oil are not only abundant, they are, or at least were, extractable in a small cost per barrel.

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        Mike is right, a boycott won’t work. If it had any effect, it would probably hurt the wrong people.

        Nevertheless, there are certain towns and places in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming I really try to avoid spending money in unless I know the business. It makes me feel better.

        • avatar CodyCoyote says:

          The two least effective most used citizen political tools are boycotts and petitions. Neither achieves much of anything beyond the personal satisfaction.

          What does work is ” Follow the Money” , getting the irrefutable fiscal evidence , and publishing the results in local/regional media with ironclad attribution.

      • avatar Mike says:

        ++Mike, if you drove down the Bitterroot Valley this year beyond Darby, how did you avoid Idaho? I can’t be done; ++

        This is one of the most inane comments I’ve ever seen here. It’s such an obvious attempt to pick a fight.

        ++
        Lets be real. The Pro Wolf people are not going put a hurt on any Montana, Wyoming or Idaho business. Chico Hot Springs are booked full until late October and has been for the last year. All my fishing guide friends are booked full until the end of the season and if a pro wolf person cancels, so what there is another fisherman wanting his space and besides, pro wolf people tip small. Wolf people numbers are very small and any impact statewide is not going to affect the state. ++

        Wolf people tip small? lol. Did you run a test of the U.S. service industry to acquire this data?

        You could poll the nation and wolf supporters would far outnumber wolf haters, too.

        ++
        You posted that your trip was going to be 45 days of tenting. How are you going to hurt anyone? You camp, cook your own food and purchase gas. Example. The one who’s boycott is going to hurt is a fisherman who books 5 days of guided fishing, stays in a $150 bed and breakfast, decides that he/she needs the latest Sage Rod, an equal reel, new waders and wants a dozen flies of each pattern that in current use. ++

        I buy a ton of stuff when I’m out there. Souvenirs for friends and family as well as a bunch of gear if need be (flies, leaders, bug spray, lotion, propane, etc). I don’t eat fast food, red meat, nor do I eat fried food, so I tend to skip many local eateries unless I’m in Missoula or Bozeman.

  7. avatar Dave says:

    I wonder if it would be possible for a list to be posted somewhere of business establishments in the cities and towns around Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Teton that are pro-wolf. I would really like to see something like that since my friends and I love the Rockies but don’t want to support the anti-wolf businesses.

    • avatar Alan says:

      While there are no doubt some business owners who are radical, my guess is that most are pro-whoever is standing in front of them with a credit card in their hand. If it’s a hunter, they hate wolves. If it’s a wildlife watcher/wolfer, they love them. Especially in the border towns around the National Parks. It’s a line they pretty much have to walk, I would think.

  8. One of the motels in Cooke City, MT used to have a sign welcoming wolf watchers, but I haven’t been there for a while. I think the owner was a wolf watcher.

  9. avatar Savebears says:

    There has not been many of the states that have or will have wolves very soon, the have come up with plans that make many people happy, Montana is the most balanced, but not perfect, Idaho and Wyoming, pretty much a known issue, Washington and Oregon are having strong growing pains over the wolf situation, Utah, give it up, they have already said they don’t want wolves.

    You that love to visit the west are soon going to run out of places to visit…? Then what are you going to do?

    • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

      Well,there are alot of places I would like to visit,that I haven’t seen yet.I have visited the west many a time years ago,but now,not so much.

    • avatar WM says:

      I want to see what will happen in Colorado, when wolves eventually make their way down there in any numbers, say another 7-10 years. Somehow, I think it will not be a happy marriage for very long. Probably not too controversial at first, with the first 50-100 wolves. One thing to remember, most of the population is along plains up against the foothills along I-25. Most of the elk and good wolf habitat (as well as high country livestock grazing on private and public lands) are to the west, with much on the west side of the Continental Divide.

      From a pure habitat standpoint, I would venture a reasonably educated guess CO has much habitat wolf than any of the individual states of MT, ID or WY, and an elk population that is at about 300,000, double the amount of any other state.

      Then we have WA with its 59,000 elk, higher human population density/smaller land area, and a draft wolf management plan up for Wildlife Commission approval, that seeks to advocate 15 breeding pairs, and a population approaching 300 wolves before any “management.” I predict the population will not reach half that level before some “self-help” from the livestock, hunting and rural homeowner crowds gets noticed.

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        Washington’s proposed wolf plan has twice the threshold wolf numbers but less than half the elk numbers as Wyoming ?

        Hmmmm….

    • avatar Alan says:

      Glacier Park visitation was down this year I just read in the paper. But, as pointed out above, boycotts do not hurt anyone; they simply make people feel good, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I refuse to buy beef because of the whole bison situation. I know that I’m certainly not going to affect anyone’s bottom line. I also know that there is not one rancher who gives a rats patooty if I do or do not buy beef; but it makes ME feel better that my money isn’t going there. And I’m probably healthier to boot.

  10. avatar STG says:

    I am not a hunter so I am clueless: Are wolves hard or easy to hunt? Will they adapt and change their behavior with time as hunting pressure increases?

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Not easy, unless your lucky, most animals will change and adapt their behavior based on the hunting pressure.

    • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

      I think they get pretty wary when hunted or trapped. Perhaps almost like coyotes which be incredibly wary. In the early 1970s, coyotes were worth a lot and people were watching for them and trapping everywhere around Gardiner. The kids from Jardine would start for school early and creep in their pickups down the road at first light, stopping and watching and take some of the side roads back in the travertines. I was hunting cottontails in there once and jumped two coyotes that just evaporated, sped off following absolutely every bit of cover. I’ve already mentioned a friend who had his three traps concealed around an elk carcass in that area deliberately buried under distinct piles of dirt.

      Wolves may not be quite like little-brother coyote, but they can be very wary too. That said, I think wolf-watching and hunting-trapping will not be very compatible within a given area. Wolves have been rare and intermittent on this island, but one arrived and trotted around for a couple of years and was joined by another. Many people saw them including numerous deer hunters, but wolves had never been an issue in this community and nobody who saw them was programmed to shoot — most thought it was pretty cool. They had a litter and established their rendezvous site by a creek on the back side where camping kayakers, and even tour boats began seeing them on the beach. That winter, they were discovered by a trapper who caught all 7 including alphas in a very short time. I suspect they just weren’t wary of human sights and smells. People who knew anything about wolf trapping considered catching an entire pack a rare fluke, however, I suspect it was due in part to familiarity with human sights and sounds without a chance to adapt to danger. That probably would not be the case with really wild wolves or especially those that have been continuously hunted.

    • Wolves are easy to find. A wolf pack leaves lots of tracks in the snow and they usually howl at dusk and dawn. I have photographed well over a hundred of them. (You can see several galleries of wolves on my web page by clicking on my name) In National Parks where they are not hunted, they tend to ignore humans and I have had them trot by ten yards away as if I was a stump. Wolves use the same trails over and over and I have used that behavior to ambush them for photographs when I see them heading in a certain direction. They are are harder to approach here in Idaho where I live, but I would have no problem getting close enough to kill one with a rifle if I was so inclined.

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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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