Law makes hash of the talk of superb state level wolf management?

In the new Montana wolf hunt those who shoot a wolf can tag it and walk away, leaving the entire wolf on the ground.  Nick Gevock of the Montana Standard just blew the whistle on this amendment that was sneaked into Montana’s game laws by the legislature.  Read the details. “Disrespecting wildlife: Law allowing wolves to be wasted is a disgrace” By Nick Gevock. Montana Standard.

The stated purpose is to protect hunters from tapeworm eggs which anti-wolf activists say cover the wolves and pose a grave threat to humans.  As with wolf attacks, however, this fear of tapeworms from wolves giving people secondary tapeworm infections suffers from a lack of cases.  So far I have heard of one Idaho case.  Because the parasites are carried by foxes, coyotes, wolves and some dogs, there is no way to tell how the patient got the infestation.

There is a lot of congratulatory talk about what a great job states are doing conserving the “recovered” wolf.  Perhaps even a prominent biologist might even step forth to say so, but look at this and judge for yourself.

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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.

274 Responses to Legal? Montana wolf hunt law is letting wolves get shot and left to rot

  1. avatar Mike says:

    Ralph, this goes back to my comments in the other thread.

    A huge portion of hunters and those in charge of hunting laws are part of the anti-predator problem.

    This is a despicable, inexcusable action.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Mike,

      To my mind it stands out as an example how the anti-wolf activists have created fear in a significant part of the population when almost nothing has happened.

      You can create fear with almost no facts. Do you want to sleep by yourself in a reputed haunted house?

      Again, where are all those wolf-killed children predicted?

      • avatar Mike says:

        I don’t understand how this happened in an educated society. I really don’t. Are people that detached?

        • avatar Jerry Black says:

          Educated society??????????
          I’ve lived in 3rd world countries, on isolated islands, and many places in the U.S……..I can tell you that Montana is not an educated society. Education is way down the list. Just ask any Montana hunter if he’s spent as much time in his kids classroom helping teachers, on the football field holding a practice dummy, or helping out at his daughters soccer practice as he has hunting and shooting.
          It’s more important to “get your elk” than to educate your kids.

          • avatar Harley says:

            Oh Jerry Jerry, non involvement from parents isn’t just a Montana thing…

            Some would also argue that they spend quality time with their kids by teaching them to hunt. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, so don’t jump down my throat, I’m just restating what I’ve seen before.

            • avatar Ben says:

              Just because the law states that a hunter can leave the carcass to rot does not mean they will I would certainly not waste the meat or hide if I could help it.
              I hunt and trap bobcats the entire animal is used hides are sold and the meat feeds my dogs. Skulls are pretty neat to keep as trophies.
              There are a lot of misconceptions about hunters. People think we just want to destroy but just about every hunter I know is a conscientious environmentalist. We enjoy every part of the hunt, getting out in nature, watching the animals, the singing of the birds, everything about it.
              we are an important tool to the DNR’s wildlife managment. Though carful study and adjustment of seasons and bag limits we ensure proper balance of populations of animals. Because of us animals that would have a lingering death by starvation instead provide many meals for people. And the ones that we don’t harvest have more to eat as well. Whitetail deer are one of the most hunted animals in our hunting culture, and they are enjoying some of the best and most balanced population numbers in history.

  2. avatar Paul says:

    Of course the same old crap is in the comments section.

    “Wolves are nothing but soulless killing machines. They don’t kill to eat; they kill for the joy of killing – actually even worse than people. The fact that the liberals on both coasts forced wolves back onto us is no sign we should not at least be allowed to manage them. The best thing would be if every hunter and rancher in Montana could immediately shoot every one of them that wasn’t in a wilderness area or a national park.”

    Does this inane crap ever get old for these people? The wolves are just agents for the “liberals” now out to ruin their lives. Give me a break.

    • avatar Mike says:

      Paul – These are people who spend more money on their ATV’s and trucks than they do their houses. There’s no way to “reach” them.

      • avatar Ben says:

        why spend more on a house when you spend more time on an atv or in a truck? Just because people value different things doesnt make them wrong.
        And why does spending money on something make it better? I am a contractor Avid hunter and fisherman and outdoorsman. I am building an earthship for myself and family I will have less than $55000 in my 3500 square foot home when I complete it.

    • avatar william huard says:

      And I thought Montana was the most reasonable of the three states- we have a very low bar to work with considering the other two are Idaho and Wyoming.

  3. avatar Nancy says:

    Heard on the local news this morning that Montana wants to extend the wolf hunting season thru January because they may not meet their quota of 220 wolves by the end of December. Its supposedly open to public comment before the decision is made.

    • avatar Paul says:

      Doesn’t that kind of defeat the argument that wolves are everywhere and need to have their numbers “managed” down? If there were really that many wolves in the state wouldn’t the 220 be easily reached by December? It seems to me that they are going to get their “220” no matter how many wolves are really in the state. They have a golden opportunity to show the pro-wolf crowd that this whole thing was not just about killing as many wolves as possible and end the hunt when scheduled. Of course we know that will never happen.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        Paul –
        “If there were really that many wolves in the state wouldn’t the 220 be easily reached by December?”
        No, that doesn’t logically follow. Knowing what we have learned from wolf hunting in Alaska, Canada and recently – Montana and Idaho – this is confirmation, again, that wolves are very difficult to hunt. In Idaho, with a population of over 1,000 wolves and approximately 30,000 wolf tags issues so far for the 2011-2012 wolf hunt, the wolf harvest/kill/take is very close to 100 wolves. The same principle applies. The management objective for both states is not to simply open and close the wolf hunts. The objectives are to reduce wolf numbers to pre-determined, resonsible and sustainable management objectives with hunting as the primary management tool. There is nothing contradictory or counter-intuitive in Montana considering an extension of the wolf hunting season to meet their wolf management objective.

        • Wolf numbers in Yellowstone have dropped by half without any hunting. Idaho wolf numbers will do the same if left alone. I think you would have a hard time proving there are 1000 wolves in Idaho today. Hunting success on wolves says otherwise.
          I have a grandson that turned 12 two days ago and he will NOT be buying an Idaho hunting license. Your war on wolves has turned him and most of his friends against hunting of any kind.

          • avatar william huard says:

            Why do you think hunters try to influence their children even younger to hunt? They are scared to death at the thought that maybe teenagers view hunting as an activity they would prefer not to participate in.

          • avatar william huard says:

            This wolf hunt law is just another illustration of why politics and politicians should not be meddling in wildlife policy…..Leave it to the biologists.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Larry,
            From:
            WOLF CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT IN IDAHO
            PROGRESS REPORT 2010; Holyan, J., K. Holder, J. Cronce, and C. Mack. 2011. Wolf conservation
            and management in Idaho; progress report 2010. Nez Perce Tribe Wolf Recovery Project, P.O.
            Box 365, Lapwai, Idaho. 90pp.

            “Biologists documented 87 Idaho packs alive at the end of 2010. The minimum year-end
            population was estimated at 705 wolves (Appendix A). In addition, there were 22 documented border packs counted for Montana, Wyoming, and Washington that established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary during 2010, though not all were extant by the end of the year. Of the 54 Idaho packs known to have reproduced, forty-six qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year. These reproductive packs produced a minimum of 189 pups.”

            Again, Idaho wolf population estimates are the minimum, verified number of wolves in the state for each respective reporting period. Because Idaho stepped away from wolf management responsibilities during the uncertainty of wolf listing/de-listing status under the ESA (in 2010) the Nez Perce Tribe briefly assumed those management responsibilities on short notice. They were not able to fly and count wolves in significant portions of Idaho for the 2010 wolf population estimate. Accounting for that, the fact that wolf population estimates are always minimum (i.e. conservative, under-estimates) and wolf population growth from 2010 to 2011 is not yet accounted for, it is very likely that the Idaho wolf population is near or above 1,000 wolves as we speak.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Mark,

            “Of the 54 Idaho packs known to have reproduced, forty-six qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year. These reproductive packs produced a minimum of 189 pups.”

            I know Isle Royale is different than the NRM states, but statistics can be used in any number of ways, and the parameters can bee applied to the NRM states. Adult mortality can range anywhere from 15% to 41% depending on stability of the population. For pups, mortality rates can be even higher. As not to be accused of cherry picking, sustainable natural mortality rates must be observed.

            Here’s the catch, if litters average five or six pups, “sustainable mortality can be even higher because this mortality keeps a higher percentage of the population breeding.”

            So the question is, if a population >150 wolves is to be maintained, and wolves are so difficult to “harvest”, by establishing artificial population boundaries, might this actually be counterproductive to Idaho’s goals, if natural cycles are not taken into consideration.

            An open season as Idaho has in place, as per Mech, ***may indeed lead to more wolves***. This has been brought up many times by many different posters on this site. Perhaps this contributes to your philosophy that Idaho wolf populations will not be in danger.

            We have had the conversation in the past about a wolf season in Idaho. Again, I am not antagonistic toward the season, but am antagonistic toward the depth and breadth of the season.

          • avatar Mike says:

            I’ve been hearing this a lot. It’s no surprise that hunter numbers are dwindling every year. A faction of the hunting community needs to step forward and condemn this mentality and “detach” itself from this unethical portion. Unfortunately there’s not much more than sweeping under the rug. There’s an “all in” mentality, almost like a cult that all aspects of killing animals have to be defended.

          • avatar Mike says:

            Yes Mark, I’m sure the wolf trapping class is “very thorough”.

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          Mark,

          We’ve been over this time and again. IDFG has no real idea how many wolves reside in Idaho. They’re just guesses based on limited observations, hearsay and guesswork based on formulas.

          Wolves difficult to hunt? Notice that kills of wolves are way down from the hunts in both states that occurred two years ago. Montana filled their quota in short order last time. And, talking about “predetermined, responsible, and sustainable management objectives” may apply somewhat in Montana, but not in Idaho, where IDGF has no predetermined objective other than to kill as many wolves as possible.

          This approach does not take into account the needs and desires of other wilderness users with the extremely long trapping season, about to begin. Allowing trapping through the whole month of March deprives other users such as hikers, backpackers, fishermen, etc. of a prime month in Idaho. I can imagine the damage a wolf trap will do to someone’s small dog compared to a coyote trap. So, basically it is, “Watch out, people and pets, killing wolves is our number one priority, so too bad for you if your outdoor experience is adversely affected in our quest!” And where are these trappers going to place these traps? Not in the high country where the snows are deep, but the canyon and river bottoms that are easily accessible, used heavily by other outdoors people, too.

          Don’t patronize people with the “management tools, sustainable” talk, and all that. IDFG’s directives are all political in nature, and you are taking your orders from ultra-conservative politicians primarily connected to the livestock lobby.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            IDhiker,

            I don’t know how many people will try their hand a trapping wolves. I don’t think very many because that knowledge has become rare. However, for those that do, I have been told by those who have trapped that the ratio of dogs, deer, elk, coyotes, moose, etc. to wolves will be high. I expect there will be what many regard as horror stories. Of course bad news, makes news.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            ID Hiker,
            You are correct that we don’t know the exact number of wolves in the state. We DO know with certainty that the reported estimates are MINIMUM and that MORE wolves in the state are also a certainty.
            Yes, of course wolves are more difficult to hunt as they are more conditioned to hunting and hunters as a mortal threat. We expected and predicted that hunting success and efficiency would decline as hunting continues – as has been the experience in Alaska and Canada.
            Idaho does indeed have a pre-determined wolf population management objective: To manage the Idaho wolf population as close to the 150 wolves/15 breeding pair ESA criteria as possible, without risk that unintended factors, beyond management control could push wolf numbers below that minimum desireable objective. That means that the Idaho wolf numbers will be managed for a threshold above the 150/15 breeding pairs to ensure that the Idaho wolf population remains robust and sustainable.
            The needs and desires or all Idahoans are considered in every wildlife managment plan and decision. That you and others are or may be dissatisfied with the current plan and hunt is not evidence that your desires were not heard, only that your desires do not best accomodate the needs and desires of all Idahoans.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            More on IDhiker’s comments,

            IDhiker wrote to IDFG spokesman, Gamblin: “Don’t patronize people with the “management tools, sustainable” talk, and all that. IDFG’s directives are all political in nature, and you are taking your orders from ultra-conservative politicians primarily connected to the livestock lobby.”

            I agree. All the directives are political. When the legislature meets, it is now a time to fear, and not just for wildlife, but for yourselves, IMO.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Ralph,
            As you know, wolf trapping in Idaho requires taking a very well designed and thorough day-long wolf trapping class and receiving certification for the same. The class has been designed and is conducted under the supervision of two ex-Alaska Dept. Fish and Game biologists with years of wolf trapping experience. One of whom is now an IDFG wildlife manager. Avoiding by-catch (dogs, deer, moose, etc.) is an important part of that curriculum.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark,

            I read the report you cited. I also noticed that wolves took a big decline from 2009 to 2010, down from 870 to 705. Number of packs down by 10. The same report also quoted the old agreement with IDFG that wolves would be managed to a “stabilized” population of 500-700 wolves. What happened? At the time of the report, 500-700 was the right amount, but now you try to say 150+ is “robust and sustainable?”

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Ralph,

            My problem with the extended trapping season is that March is the typical time people flock to places like the Salmon River for purposes other than killing wolves. In Idaho, most of the wilderness at that time of the year is inaccessible due to deep snow, and the easy places to set traps are the same ones others go to catch the spring weather. Mark Gamblin has claimed that the likelihood of encountering a wolf set is extremely slim. I disagree. He obviously doesn’t spend as much time as me in the Idaho wilderness areas. Trapping along the Salmon and Middle Fork is quite common and one WILL encounter traps along the Salmon River trail all winter, now also the spring. And…considering Idaho’s lack of meaningful setbacks (5 feet) from trails, anyones pet will be at risk. I hope you are right that not many will participate in wolf trapping. But, unfortunately, since the season will be open in March, one will always have to assume a trap may be encountered.

          • avatar JB says:

            IDhiker:

            The answer to your question (i.e., “what happened”) is that when the objective was 500+ Idaho was concerned about the possibility of losing in the federal courts. Now that Congress intervened and delisted wolves via legislative rider–and one that precludes judicial review–Idaho’s commission no longer needs to worry about what the federal courts will do. Thus, they can now manage wolves near the legal minimum without fear of delisting.

            Application of the term “sustainable” to Idaho’s management of wolves is a matter of perspective. The term sustainable originally arose in the field of forestry where it met, “never harvesting more than what the forest yields in new growth” (Kuhlman & Farrington, 2010). Clearly, Idaho’s management plan is not “sustainable” under such a definition. However, this rather straight-forward definition has grown “fuzzy” over the years as people have sought to redefine what is meant by sustainable harvest. A more apt concept for describing wolf population management in the West would be the “Minimum Viable Population.” Where the goal is to keep wolves above the minimum number needed to keep the risk of extinction to some acceptable level. Of course, determining what constitutes an acceptable level of “risk” is not a scientific endeavor!

            Kuhlman T., and J. Farrington. 2010. What is Sustainability?. Sustainability 2(11):3436-3448.

          • avatar JB says:

            Sorry, the last sentence in the first paragraph should read…

            “Thus, they can now manage wolves near the legal minimum without fear of relisting.”

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            JB,

            “Minimum Viable Population.”

            Sad, but unfortunately true. We can only hope that in the future, political leadership will change in Idaho.

          • avatar JB says:

            IDhiker:

            The question “what constitutes a viable population of wolves” underlies the entire debate and has since the beginning. Take a look at the discussion in the ’94 EIS and especially, the conclusions in Fritts & Carbyn (1995) Restoration Ecology: 3(1)26.

          • avatar JB says:

            More on the MVP concept, which is fundamental to the current wolf debate. Who determined the recovery objectives (i.e., MVP) which now provides the basis for states’ management? Scientists with the FWS and those who reviewed the reintroduction/recovery plans. And was society ever asked about what constitutes an acceptable level of risk…?

            “The minimum viable population (MVP) concept is an operational formulation of the question with regards to populations (Shaffer 1981). The MVP is typically expressed as the minimum number of individuals needed in a particular population to yield a probability of persistence, p, over T years. Thirty years ago, Soulé (1987) and Shaffer (1987) recognized that MVP cannot be determined by science alone. They believed the answer depended on value judgments by society. The patent implication is that the values of p and T, which express the risk of extinction, should be determined through a political process. Because no actions can ever assure the survival of a population or species (i.e., p = 1), the question, how much is enough?, is really asking how much risk will society accept or tolerate? Should p equal 0.99, 0.95, or 0.50? Whether the basis for acceptable risk is a utilitarian philosophy, principles of stewardship, or doctrines on species rights, the degree of acceptable risk is an ethical judgment (i.e., a quantitative expression of what society ought to do).”

            Wilhere, G.F. 2008. Conservation Biology, 22(3)514.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            I agree with JB, that the discussion of 500-700 turned in Mark G.’s 150 – intended target – with the congressional delisting of wolves. I personally think that 150 is a pathetic MVP for a state as large as ID. Hell, a population of 150 eastern wolves could live in tiny MA.

            I actually am starting to get nauseous listening to Mark G. rhetoric and continued justification for anything related to hunting incl. this conversation about essentially gut shooting wolves as a f’in management tool. Mark’s rhetoric is one reason why less and less people are hunting – b.c general society does not see hunting as a necessary and integral “management tool” for all situations including this “robust” wolf population. Mark’s philosophy dominates all state fish and game depts. and it is archaic in many regards. To think that we can gut shoot wolves but still have a robust population is missing the point. The good news: the states are doing a great job of convincing a judge that they shouldn’t be in charge of managing predators.

          • avatar WM says:

            Soime of you folks have an nteresting interpretation of what the wolf reintroduction obligation of the states (ID in this conversation) was in the 1994 EIS. Even if you look at the court decisions by Judge Molloy and Johnson (WY Dist. Ct.) they seem to come back to the 100 wolves/state with connected metapopulation that was the subject of the FWS memorandum in Appendix 9 (authored by Ed Bangs).

            JB and I have discussed before some of the inadequacies of the EIS that simply fail to address wolf numbers (and what the states were/are allowed to do when this happens).

            I don’t think anyone believed that 66 wolves in Yellowstone and North Central ID could grow to be more than 1,700 (over 2,000 by some estimates) in just over 15 years, especially with all that have been killed at the hands of WS, state control, or legal and illegal hunting. Some of you just keep missing that very material aspect of the conversation.

            Even if MT, ID and WY (irresponsibly by some opinions) manage for their 150 each, while this court stuff plays out, they will not likely be able to reduce to those levels for the reasons Mark G. has explained over and over here.

            I am amazed at how some here are content to rewrite the history of this reintroduction of “non-essential experimental population,” under Section 10j of the ESA.

            I guess this idea of telling a lie over and over and making it seem as truth is a distasteful trait that is common to strident anti-wolfers and advocates alike.

          • avatar JB says:

            WM:

            The ’94 EIS does not discuss the issues I’ve brought up because scientists are still unaware of them (there more about this in a week or two). When the scientists in questioned judged 10/100 packs/wolves per state as adequate, they made an assumption about what constitutes an acceptable risk of extinction for that population. So in fact, a decision based upon the risk tolerance of a few individuals (which is not scientific), determined (in part) what constitutes a viable population under the guise of science.

            This is discussed in detail in the following paper:

            Wilhere, G.F. 2008. The How-Much-Is-Enough Myth. Conservation Biology, 22(3):514-517.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jon Way –
            If you look more closely at my earlier post you will note that the IDFG has clearly stated that Idaho wolves will be managed to that ensure wolf numbers do not drop below 150 wolves or 15 breeding pairs – due to factors beyond human control. In terms of a MV population that would mean that management objectives are significantly ABOVE 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs – something between 150 and 500. Wolf management, like all wildlife management is an adaptive management process. That is largely why we have not identified pre-determined quotas for wolf harvest/kill/take in the hunting season, or why we have identified a minimum number – above the re-listing criteria numbers of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. The key point being that the state will not manage wolves to reduce their numbers to the absolute re-listing floor of 150 individuals or 15 breeding pairs.
            In any case, it is extremely unlikely that we could reduce wolf numbers to a critical risk level. The 2009-2010 and current hunting seasons are instructive. Despite the approximately 30,000 wolf tags that were issued in the first wolf hunting season, less than 300 wolves were taken by hunters. This year we have sold approximately the same number of tags to date, with the season starting a month earlier and with fewer harvest restrictions than the first season. Despite the enhanced harvest/kill/take opportunity this year, we are tracking very close to the same level of take as the first wolf hunting season.

        • avatar Paul says:

          I’m confused. I thought that wolves were everywhere eating children at bus stops, all of the elk, livestock, pets, and attacking “scared” grannies and hunters in the woods? If we are to believe the rhetoric of your citizens these “liberal Canadian Wolves” should be right outside their doors begging to be shot. If seasons are extended to “reach management goals” for wolves, is the same thing done for elk and other “game” so easily? Are Wildlife Services called out with their aerial gunners to kill the elk, deer, etc that are above “management goals?” This is a political driven witch hunt and you know it. Why not just come right out and call it what it is?

        • avatar Connie says:

          Wolves being “very difficult to hunt” did not prevent their extirpation.

          • avatar Cobra says:

            I live in North Idaho and have yet to go out hunting and not seen wolves or wolf sign. When Mark says minimum I think it is very minimum. According to their map of known wolf packs they have missed quite a few packs just in the areas I know of in North Idaho. Hunting and trapping alone I doubt will bring the numbers down to even 500 minimum.
            I’ve seen 3 wolves in the last month not more than a mile or two from my house, and all three of them were with in 200 yards of the I-90 highway. I would not worry to much about overall wolf populations being decimated just through hunting and trapping. They are a very intelligent animal so give them the credit they deserve. Manage them as a population and not individuals and everything will be fine.
            I don’t know about the rest of Idaho, but the wolves in North Idaho are doing just fine.
            Before any of you say I’m just another disgruntled elk hunter I might add that my son and I both filled our elk tags this year and between the two elk we are helping feed my sons and daughter, mother,sister and in-laws. The wolves have definitely changed the behavior of elk and deer but if you get off the road you can still find them. I would also like to add that calf numbers this year do seem to down a bit but we did have a tough winter last year so that could be to blame.
            One question I do have for Mark though is this. With the tough winter last year and wolves, bears and lion numbers up it seems from what we’ve been seeing, why did IDFG extend the cow season 2 days in unit 4. We are sure not seeing the numbers of calves that we usally do in the areas we hunt, probably around 10-15% on the norm. I sure hope that extended season doesn’t turn around and bite us in the backside.

        • avatar Jay Barr says:

          Mr. Gamblin,

          Where do you come up with this 1000 wolves in ID? The 2010 annual report for your state says the est. population at the end of the year was 705; though that report was prepared solely by the Nez Perce Tribe. Do you discount their estimate? By the looks of it they used the same formula that previous reports, where IDFG participated, was identical. All wolf reports, whether by USFWS or state agencies, gives an end of year estimate, and for ID it is not 1000.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Jay Barr,

            Thanks for calling Mark Gamblin’s comment to our attention. I missed it. For reference he wrote, “Accounting for that, the fact that wolf population estimates are always minimum (i.e. conservative, under-estimates) and wolf population growth from 2010 to 2011 is not yet accounted for, it is very likely that the Idaho wolf population is near or above 1,000 wolves as we speak.

            I think this is a very unlikely. For one, I have never believed the Nez Perce’s tribe’s estimate was a minimum. I think it is mid range because of the problem of missing wolves entirely is offset by double counting wolves by counting hunting parties of a pack by mistake as it they were separate packs and then extrapolating unseen, but actually not existing wolves into the record.

            Secondly, the Idaho wolf population estimate was already in fairly steep decline by the end of 2011. As Jay Barr reminds us the official count was 705.

            Third, the official count is on Dec. 31 and we are in the middle of a wolf hunt. You have to estimate wolves on an agreed upon date to avoid the pup birth and mortality effect on the total population. Wildlife Services has also been active and it is doubtful poachers of wolves have had any fear of being caught or facing much of any penalty if they are.

            According to the official records Idaho’s wolf population pretty much stopped growing by the end of 2008 with 856 wolves. The actual peak was in 2009 at 870 wolves, within the margin of error. So for practical purposes it was the same as 2008. By the end of 2010 it had fallen to just 705. This is surprising because there was no wolf hunt in 2010. It is possible the 2009 hunt disrupted the breeding condition for 2010. It is also possible that wolf growth was coming to its natural end just as it did in Yellowstone Park with no hunting.

            I hope we don’t see more of these wild blue sky figures.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Ralph,

            I appreciate your response to Jay Barr. It gave me some insights into the counting process for wolves. It also clarifies that there are many factors involved that may not be called into account by IDFG. The department promotes their figures as “scientific” and beyond criticism. There are, apparently, many ways to “cook the books” to get the result that you desire. With the heavy political pressure on IDFG, one could never take their conclusion without a grain of salt.

            Aerial counting can easily, as you say, miscount. And, having an email “hotline” to report wolf sightings allows plenty of nonsense to enter into population estimates.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay Barr, Ralph:
            Take another look at the post you refer to – specifically:
            “…. Because Idaho stepped away from wolf management responsibilities during the uncertainty of wolf listing/de-listing status under the ESA (in 2010) the Nez Perce Tribe briefly assumed those management responsibilities on short notice. They were not able to fly and count wolves in significant portions of Idaho for the 2010 wolf population estimate.”
            Yes, the Nez Perce biologists replicated the methodology used by IDFG biologists to estimate wolf numbers, but did not have the time or resources to fly and count all of the same areas covered annually by IDFG biologists. Significant geographic areas of the state were not counted – updated – for the 2010 wolf population estimate. The S-B and FCRNT wilderness areas most note worthy. In fact, the Nez Perce biologists comment on this and qualify the 2010 estimate with those limitations.
            Because those areas were not surveyed, a number of wolf packs were dropped from the 2010 state estimate due to non-verification, and have been verified since the state resumed wolf management authority. The end result has been that rather than an estimate of 705 wolves for the 2010 Idaho wolf population estimate, a more accurate, corrected number would be approximately 775 wolves statewide. The 2010 population estimate also did not account for the production from those packs that could not be verified. This unavoidable under-estimation of Idaho wolves by the Nez Perce Tribal biologists is couple with the inherent conservative nature of Idaho wolf population estimates. These estimates always under-estimate the true number of wolves in the state because they reflect only documented and verified wolf sightings. We know that there is a significant, albeit unknown, additional number of wolves that are not associated with confirmed and monitored wolf packs that comprise most of the state population estimate. Each year there are new, undocumented packs and individual wolves not attached to established packs that are not accounted for. My admittedly speculative comment that there could be 1,000 wolves in Idaho is based on these factors that make our wolf population estimate a conservative under-estimate. Coupled with unaccounted production from those geographic un-counted areas (again the entire S-B and FCRNT Wilderness Areas) – it is indeed very possible that we have 1,000 wolves in Idaho as we speak. Ralph, your point about the term minimum is well taken. Better to say conservative in place of minimum or mid-range. Nether term expresses the important point that these are under-estimates of the number of wolves in Idaho.

  4. avatar Cindy says:

    Again, Carter showed a great slide and spent quite a bit of time on the myth surrounding this tapeworm. He also made the point that he has handled just about as much wolf poop (his word) as anyone will ever handle and has not come up sick because of it. The slide he uses is humorous, yet factual:)

  5. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Wait till Wyoming starts ” hunting” wolves…

  6. avatar Cindy says:

    CC – you mean “Wait till Wyoming starts LEGALLY “hunting” wolves…

  7. avatar JEFF E says:

    This is the.result of the very small but vocal minority that have never been able to successfullydebate the facts of wolf ecology so have resorted to fear tactics with no basis in reality and are to a degree successful. I think most of us have had the distasteful experience of reading and/or being on a website with these fear mongers

  8. avatar mtn mamma says:

    This is really pathetic and just shows how much the wolf species is disrespected. Scared of contracting tapeworm from a dead wolf? Good Lord, hope none of those “frightened” hunters have any real health problems and have to go to the hospital which is full of nasty invisible microbes! Ahhh! Run for your lives.

  9. avatar mikarooni says:

    I get real tired of the slant provided by Mark “Tokyo Rose” Gamblin. Is he required on this site?

    • avatar Mike says:

      I’ve said the same thing, Mikarooni. There are enough places for anti-wildlife folks to spout their venom, and very few places for reasonable, intelligent pro-predator discussion. Why does this blog have to be another site for the poison?

      • avatar william huard says:

        If I had a dollar for every time Gamblin has quoted the words “robust” “healthy” and “sustainable”- I would be able to quit my job- As if by saying the words means this is part of Idaho’s wolf agenda- NOT!

    • avatar timz says:

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    • avatar JB says:

      I disagree, Mik. Mark provides the perspective of IDF&G’s commission–not his own–yet, he’s been called practically every name in the book for his efforts. Still, he has always remained respectful in his responses.

      Mark and others who post here regularly challenge the “group think” that would otherwise permeate this blog. In our disagreements we “dig up” new information, challenge others’ assumptions, and learn (at the very least) what people with different perspectives think. Without these disagreements, the conversations that occur on these threads would become far less interesting.

      – – –

      A: “Hunters suck”.
      B: “Yeah, and the wolf-haters are ignorant.”
      A: “Yeah.”

      [Crickets chirping]

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        Exactly.

        Although Gamblin’s (THE STATE) position on wolves is untenable by any biological, ethical, or moral measure, at least it is not everyone singing to the choir.

        • avatar danner7099 says:

          Good point JB and Jeff E. Though Mark is just a “talking head”, at least he makes us think about these issues from other perspectives.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Well, all I know is the fact that after 15 years of living side by side with wolves:

            A) livestock is not being picked off by the thousands, by a “robust” population of wolves
            B) Elk numbers are “robust” in most areas of the Rockies even with a “robust & healthy” population of wolves

            And C) no children have been ravaged at bus stops, to my knowledge, by wolves, although a predator – man made – had no problem, for years at Penn State, ravaging some children’s lives and no one noticed.

            It all boils down to priorities.

          • avatar danner7099 says:

            Excellent point Nancy. A predator in PA is very comparable to one in the West. Thank you so much for the excellent insight. 15 years in MT? How do you live for so long amongst neanderthals? Personally, I could never do it. Congratulations!

          • avatar danner7099 says:

            Just out of curiosity Nancy:
            a) How many head of cattle do you own?
            b) Where and how often do you elk hunt?
            And c) Do you have children that ride the bus?

            Thanks in advance!

          • avatar SAP says:

            let me guess, danner7099:

            you think nancy is not allowed to make observations about matters of fact unless she has cattle, hunts elk, or has children who ride the bus to school. Interesting that the number of cattle killed by wolves would be a matter of interpretation, based on whether a person owns cattle.

          • avatar danner7099 says:

            Just asking where her vast knowledge stems from? Does she have personal experience or a PhD? Valid question I think…

          • avatar timz says:

            lack of hunters has IDF&G in a pinch. It appears the constant jibberish about wolves killing all the elk is taking its toll.
            http://www.idahostatesman.com/2011/11/12/1875860/fewer-nonresidents-hunting-idaho.html

          • avatar WM says:

            Having been one of those non-resident hunters for the past twenty-five years, I can personally attest to “the constant jibberish about wolves killing all the elk.” Maybe they are not killing them all, but they are getting quite a few – especially calves, and rutted out weakened bulls. Those elk that remain, and there are quite a few, are harder to find in some spots, because they do in fact hide in the brush, on steeper slopes at higher elevation. This, of course, keeps them from eating their normal browse, and they go into winter leaner, and come out in late winter weaker and even easier prey for wolves and other predators.

            Not jibberish, more like facts. Then IDFG got greedy and jacked up their non-resident license/tag fees, and combined with less discretionary income for many out of state hunters in this sour economy, the equation is set for fewer non-resident hunters. Some of the locals like that, and those of us who can afford (barely these days) the higher non-resident fees are likely a little happier. But the hunting is a whole bunch harder and our success much lower. Why? Because you don’t even see the elk in many instances. And, yeah, I know that varies by location. But, I sure has hell see lots of wolf sign, but no wolves either.

          • avatar JB says:

            “This, of course, keeps them from eating their normal browse, and they go into winter leaner, and come out in late winter weaker and even easier prey for wolves and other predators.”

            This hypothesis–which is based on the “ecology of fear”–was tested recently in Wyoming and reported in a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Wildlife Society last week. Specifically, the authors looked at the foraging behavior (and lack thereof) of elk who ranged through many wolf pack territories vs. those that ranged in an area with only one pack as a way of explaining reproductive success. The take home message: Both herds spent essentially the same amount of time exhibiting vigilant behaviors, and the elk subject to greater wolf presence actually spent more time eating. The authors concluded that the primary factor that explained lack of reproductive success was extreme drought conditions that happened to be worse in the area where there were more wolves.

          • avatar WM says:

            Not enough coffee this morning.

            normal browse – meant to say grazing of grasses.

            JB,

            I have not read the study you reference, and my observations are admittedly anicdotal. The elk we harvested over the last three years have all been leaner than in past years, meaning something has affected their feeding. Lots of grass and some of their favorite browse – elderberry. The elderberry most prevalent in grassy meadows, which is usually heavily eaten by evidence of twig cuts has hardly been touched this year. Very different from past years. No drought this year, but lots of wolves, and by inspection of their scat it has lots of elk hair.

            Fear of predation is still my thesis, and I am sticking to it. LOL

          • avatar JB says:

            WM:

            I don’t doubt that, to some extent, elk adapt their behavior around wolves. The point is that you’ve had a long term drought accompanied by increases in two large carnivores (griz, wolves); and right now it is not possible to parse out causal mechanisms–I suspect because of the interaction of all of these factors–as well as human hunting.

            Another paper from the region showed data that suggested grizzlies were much more of a problem for elk calves than wolves, which were equal to coyotes. My book of abstracts is at the office, or I’d cite the papers for you.

      • avatar Mike says:

        I think you’re reading a different message board, JB.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          At least he is reading more than just this board Mike!

        • avatar JB says:

          Mike:

          I’m limiting my comments to those where I can provide meaningful information (factual assertions made by WM). Name calling does not interest me.

          – – –

          Thanks, SB.

  10. avatar jon says:

    It seems like the Idaho fish and game are more concerned with killing as many wolves as possible and not worrying about trapping and public safety. What if other animals end up in the traps meant for wolves? They will be trapped for who knows how many hours and will end up defenseless if approached by predators. trapping is and has always been a public safety concern.

  11. avatar jon says:

    How is 150 wolves or a little above this # considered a robust wolf population? I don’t see Idaho fish and game talking about bringing the cougar or black bear population down to this extremely low #. With wolves dying of natural deaths and being killed by wildlife services, how can anyone think 150 wolves is a viable and robust wolf population? I have no doubt there is illegal wolf killings going on as well and I’m certain that Idaho fish and game doesn’t have any idea how many wolves there are in Idaho. Some say 1000, but there could infact be far less wolves than this. This 72 hour check rule is wrong. What if the wrong animal is caught in the trap?

    • avatar IDhiker says:

      Mark,

      “That you and others are or may be dissatisfied with the current plan and hunt is not evidence that your desires were not heard, only that your desires do not best accomodate the needs and desires of all Idahoans.”

      Everything I can find on Idaho public opinion polls concerning wolves indicates the Idaho public is evenly split. Recognizing that split, perhaps if your department and commission took a similar approach, there wouldn’t be such a controversy. For example, a more “robust” population similar to the 500-700 once proposed by IDFG, and hunting / trapping seasons that fit what is considered more normal. A shorter season would be long enough if you weren’t gunning (trapping) for such as small number as the 150+.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Mark,

        To me, a 50-50 split means a compromise, not an extreme position either way, which IDFG has taken in deference to the loud and ultra-conservative politicians I mentioned earlier.

  12. avatar JEFF E says:

    “That you and others are or may be dissatisfied with the current plan and hunt is not evidence that your desires were not heard, only that your desires do not best accomodate the needs and desires of all Idahoans .”

    Strike ” all Idahoans” and substitute “the Livestock Industry” would be a much more accurate statement, right Mark?

  13. avatar Nancy says:

    danner7099 says:
    November 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    Just out of curiosity Nancy:
    a) How many head of cattle do you own?
    b) Where and how often do you elk hunt?
    And c) Do you have children that ride the bus?

    Why do you ask Danner?

    • avatar danner7099 says:

      “Well, all I know is the fact that after 15 years of living side by side with wolves:

      A) livestock is not being picked off by the thousands, by a “robust” population of wolves
      B) Elk numbers are “robust” in most areas of the Rockies even with a “robust & healthy” population of wolves

      And C) no children have been ravaged at bus stops, to my knowledge, by wolves, although a predator – man made – had no problem, for years at Penn State, ravaging some children’s lives and no one noticed.

      It all boils down to priorities.”

      It appears that you have a vast knowledge of all things Montana. Just wondering how you acquired it is all. Have you run cattle, hunted wild animals, or had children? Just amazed at how you are such an expert is all…

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Are running cattle, hunting wild animals and having children, the only way I can continue to live in Montana without dickheads like you questioning my thoughts and opinions, Danner?

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Looks like someone using a crank bait.

        • avatar danner7099 says:

          “dickheads”? Classy. You sound like the OCCUPY folks. I haven’t seen Brian Ertz rallying that cause lately lol. Perhaps he knows that it’s a losing cause I reckon.

          Immer, you have lost all credibility. The U.P. SHOULD have a wolf huntin’ season and you know it, but just can’t admit it. Oh well, it appears that you all are losing the battle n’ the war.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Keep trolling. Nancy pegged you well. Echos of Reality and the empty bottle.

          • avatar danner7099 says:

            Cool Immer, but what happened to Ertz’s pet project? Ralph, Ken, and most everyone else on this blog was rally’n around the “OCCUPY” movement. Haven’t read anything recently. It’s just strange. It’s as if the movement has gone postal or something. Sorry, just have to laugh at the utter stupidity from time to time on this blog.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            The “stupidity” curve increased exponentially with your arrival.

          • avatar danner7099 says:

            Were they or were they not all over the “Occupy” movement a couple of weeks ago? Have you seen anything recently from Ertz or Ken? Hmmmm…Yeah, that stupidity curve is really sumpin’!

          • avatar danner7099 says:

            Yeah OK Sap. We get it, you are the man. LOL at a lack of elk hunters in the backcountry. Keep trollin’ the Bob and Jellystone. Everywhere I go there are plenty of elk hunters. Not too many thanks to the excellent management of the states!

      • avatar SAP says:

        danner7099, I gather from Nancy’s posts that she lives in rural MT, in a place where there are a lot of cattle, a lot of elk, and some wolves. It would seem that she is qualified to make observations about what is going on in her part of the state. I’ve got a pretty good idea where that is, and concur with a lot of her observations — that wolves kill very few cattle there, in part because of swift lethal control when they DO kill cattle. That there are still lots of elk out there.

        As for children at bus stops — well, why NOT take precautions? I don’t have kids, but I’d be careful . . . why not?

        Further note on elk: I’ve been in a lot of places this fall, northwest WY to the southern end of the Bob Marshall. Been in the backcountry. Know what I’m not seeing? Guys putting in camps. There are some, but for the most part, aging elk hunters are choosing to stay in a nice camper, with a generator, at the trailhead. They might have horses, they might foot hunt, they might go out on ATVs. But they’re not putting in a serious camp in the backcountry. The guys who do are killing elk, the guys who don’t are whining.

        • avatar Alan says:

          You don’t even have to live in Montana to see that Nancy’s statements are true. You simply have to be able to read. The way that news of any predator attack of any kind, whether a bear mauling of a person or a wolf attack on a couple of sheep, is sensationalized in the press, any such instances would be plastered everywhere.
          Finally, can anyone point me to one case, just one, where a child has been injured or killed by a large wild animal while standing at a bus stop in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming? Just curious. One link? This is a none issue. Why do people keep bringing it up? I live in Montana. I don’t run cattle, don’t hunt and don’t have any kids. Yes, I was shocked when I found out that I was still allowed to vote! I do have friends who have kids. Like most around here, they drive their kids to the bus stop and wait with them until the bus comes, at least during the time of the year that it is dark when they are catching the bus. Why? Are they worried about bear maulings or wolf attacks? Maybe rampaging deer or elk? No, they are worried about their kids freezing their butts off, and also about human predators lurking in the dark. Yes, even in rural Montana.

  14. avatar Nancy says:

    danner7099 says:
    November 12, 2011 at 5:38 pm
    Just asking where her vast knowledge stems from? Does she have personal experience or a PhD? Valid question I think…

    Danner – made some valid points based on personal experience AND fact. If you found that too confusing, its probably time to crawl back under the bridge.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      I also live in rural Montana, although I take a different stance than most on this blog, I do feel my opinions are valid, given my experience..

      • avatar danner7099 says:

        SW Montana may as well be New York City. It is really something what they let in that area. SB, You live in NW MT right? The liberals seem to infiltrate that poor valley south of Missoula. Too bad they don’t donate the land to wildlife like RMEF does.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Yes,

          I live in the upper extreme NW Montana area, I do see quite a bit of what is going on..

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          Danner7099,

          “The liberals seem to infiltrate that poor valley south of Missoula.”

          What?? Obviously you are not familiar with the area. That valley south of Missoula is the Bitterroot Valley which is a bastion of conservatism. In the last election, every Republican that ran won office, including three “Tea-party” commissioners.

          I ought to know, since I’ve lived here for 28 years.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Danner must just stick out more wearing his Klan Hat than he used to. Poor guy.

          • avatar CodyCoyote says:

            Yup. The Bitterot Valley south of Missoula is redneck to the bone marrow. IQ decreases as mileage south increases. The road north up towards Kalispell and Whitefish is hardly better…that’s big time Ron Paul- country. Whole buildings painted as libertarian political billboards. At least the Libertarians are somewhate ducated and have a good plan. The Conservs are witless ideologues. Liberals outthink them both. Missoula is an oasis in a sea of red.

      • avatar Alan says:

        Your opinions are valid because of your experience; but your opinions would also be valid if you had no experience. Sometimes someone with experience can provide facts, which others may use to help form opinions; but opinions are opinions. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

  15. avatar IDhiker says:

    By the way Danner, one does not have to participate in any particular activity to be knowledgeable about it. You just have to be able to read, and possibly have an open mind.

    Your sarcastic remarks to Nancy are really juvenile and I suggest you grow up or find another blog to be obnoxious on.

  16. avatar mtn mamma says:

    Danner, You really seem to have a lot of anger issues towards people who care for wildlife. Enough about Nancy, what makes your opinion so credible? For the record I have two young school-age daughters, do you think I should be more fearful of them being eaten by wolf/bear/lion; or being assulted by some pervert human?

    • avatar danner7099 says:

      East coast white males (Elitist liberals), rocky mountains wolves. No anger issues, just getting fed up with that anti hunting rants. Good bye and so long. Just wanted to understand a bit about some on this site that seem to despise the very places that you live.

      So long and good luck.

      • avatar william huard says:

        Are you feeling a little misunderstood Danner? We have established that you hate liberals, wolves, the Occupy movement, anti-hunters, and of course the guvmint…Except when it’s time to get your check every month. You probably hate tree huggers, and puppies. I bet you hate puppies….Doesn’t it piss you off when Democrats try to give more people health care? What are you Danner- a teabagger?

        • avatar Cobra says:

          Nobody can hate a puppy or a kitten or a cub, that’s why anti-hunting sites always use them in their adds. Heck I hunt and still those pictures of puppies ect. get me everytime.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        No, Danner, I don’t despise the place that I live in. I’ve lived here in western Montana for 44 years. I just want to keep it the way it is, whereas people like you are trying to destroy it and turn it into a type of place that is too common everywhere else in the world.

        I can’t speak for others on this site, but I love the place I live in. I don’t want people like you to destroy it due to your short-sighted philosophies. You’re confusing the West’s “redneck” culture as the place we live in, and that we want to change it. The place we live in is the wilderness, wildlife, clean water and air, not people like you.

        • avatar Alan says:

          “The place we live in is the wilderness, wildlife, clean water and air, not people like you.”
          Amen to that!

  17. avatar Paul says:

    Excellent point Mtn Mamma. There is so much irrational fear over wolves and other predators that people forget about the most dangerous animal: the two legged predator. I am far more worried about the two legged perverts, thugs, and drunken fools on the roads that I ever would be of wolves or any other wild predator. And I live in a state full of wolves and bears.

    And if this “Danner” person doesn’t like pro-wolf or anti-hunting rants than he should stick to hunting sites. There are plenty of them out there that spew their anti-predator, anti-tree hugger, and anti-liberal garbage. Why come to a pro-wildlife site and insult the authors, and users, many of whom were or are hunters themselves? Then again maybe we all just gave this troll exactly what he wanted.

  18. avatar tasunka maza says:

    Tried living in Victor, Montana, was going to buy a 40 acre parcel. After experiencing the intense hatred of Native Americans,left as fast as I could.

    • avatar Paul says:

      So now it’s time to piss on Native Americans too? After this “Danner” clown, now this crap?

      “Those liberal Canadian Wolves and Injuns are just ruining our little conservative paradise in the West.” Sound right?

      Many here may not like the anti-hunting rants that some of us go on, but this kind of crap is uncalled for. Who is really hating who?

  19. avatar Alan Gregory says:

    In many respects these days, it seems like we’re still grinding through 19th century shoot-on-sight ideologies.

    • avatar Mike says:

      That’s because many of these areas never got out of the 19th century.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Could be that those areas don’t want to get out of the 19th century, you may be happy with the modern times Mike, but I know many who are not.

        • avatar Mike says:

          There’s quite a difference between craving simpler times and being stuck in a dark ages mentality.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Mike,

            I didn’t say I agree or disagree with them, but I do understand them, there are quite a few out there with the 19th century mentality, which by the way is not the dark ages. I see it daily, your opinion matters not to them and I know people that would hurt you before they would give you the time of day.

          • avatar Mike says:

            Yes, and they are known as psychopaths.

  20. avatar IDhiker says:

    WM,

    True, the old 1994 EIS has a very limited number of wolves mandated as a goal. I would have to say, though, that it is almost 18 years old, based on the science of the time and written to start a reintroduction process heavily opposed in the three states.

    “Even if MT, ID and WY (irresponsibly by some opinions) manage for their 150 each, while this court stuff plays out, they will not likely be able to reduce to those levels for the reasons Mark G. has explained over and over here.”

    But not for lack of trying…

    • avatar Alan says:

      “Even if MT, ID and WY (irresponsibly by some opinions) manage for their 150 each, while this court stuff plays out, they will not likely be able to reduce to those levels for the reasons Mark G. has explained over and over here.”
      And yet 100 years ago, or so, without the aid of helicopters, airplanes, ATVs, high powered rifles with scopes, radio tracking collars and possibly predator drones etc. a bunch of good ol’ boy cowboys on horseback were able to completely wipe out a hundred times more wolves than are present now. Hmm!
      Whenever an animal is put on the ESL I am sure that MINIMUM numbers are put into place that, when met along with other criteria, begins or triggers the delisting process. These minimums are not meant as maximums or promises of any kind. No one in their right mind would think that, if and when, the minimums are reached for California condors, for example, that we would start shooting “excess” birds!

      • avatar Cobra says:

        Alan,
        If I remember correctly they also used poisons which probably took out the majority of the packs.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        Alan,
        Wolves were not extirpated from the lower 48 states by cowboys on horseback. It required an intensive effort headed by the federal government for years and depended on the broad and extensive use of poisoned baits. If it were only for cowboys on horseback, or hunters or trappers – wolves could not have been extirpated. The effort required to accomplish extirpation will not be repeated and for that reason alone wolves will be a permanent presence in the NRMR. A good reference book that has been discussed numerous times here is “Predatory Bureacacy”.

        • avatar JB says:

          Mark:

          I have to disagree. Wolves were systematically eliminated throughout the majority of the country before the federal government every appropriated funds for wolf control (which happened in 1915). If you take a look at the paper that I’ve linked to, you’ll see that state bounties in decreased from more than 4,000 in 1903, to a little over 1,000 in 1915–before the feds got involved. This also happened before radio and gps collars, before helicopters and airplanes, before the interstate highway system, and before high-end rifles with precision optics. It also happened AFTER the functional elimination of wolves’ primary source of prey (bison) at the time, which is marked in the mid-1880s. That means there were presumably more than 4,000 wolves living in Montana alone after the elimination of their prey base. Yet, by today’s standards 400 is too many.

          http://www.fw.msu.edu/~rileysh2/Wolf-cougar%20bounties.pdf

          • avatar JB says:

            And legal or no, poisons are still being used: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/26451898/detail.html

          • avatar JB says:

            Let me expound a bit further:

            Wolves were eliminated from Ohio by 1855, Michigan by 1910, and New Hampshire in the early 1800s (for example). These eliminations significantly predate federal involvement and occurred primarily via hunting and trapping (and coincident with significant habitat loss).

            To assume that one would need federal involvement and poisons to eliminate wolves ignores the fact that we systematically eliminated them elsewhere without these tools, and without the “gadgets” used in modern wildlife management.

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          Careful JB. You are using fact again and you know that will cause confusion.

        • avatar Mike says:

          Baloney.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB –
            I don’t think my response to Alan is inconsistent with the documention you provide. Alan suggests that – “…a bunch of good ol’ boy cowboys on horseback were able to completely wipe out a hundred times more wolves than are present now.” I may misunderstand Alan’s point/intent, but I think he means that contemporary management objectives and tools to achieve those objectives can be considered to constitute a credible threat to the continued sustainability and viability of wolves in the NRMR. My point is simply that regardless of which techniques were used to affect substantial reductions in wolf numbers in the 1800’s and early 1900’s the reduction in wolf numbers was the product of an extensive, well coordinated and funded effort across the United States. Declining exploitation of wolves, measured by bounty returns, does not suggest that a bounties and similar incentives to shoot and trap wolves could have accomplished extirpation. The final extirpation of wolves did in fact require the intervention of the federal government and like coordinated efforts with western states and the extensive use of poisoned bait to accomplish eradication. Which strategies and which level of government intervention required to achieve eradication is not the point. The point is that extirpation of wolves from the lower 48 states required an extraordinary and multi-decade coordinated campaign to accomplish, with techniques that will not again be sanctioned by our society and government. The “worry” that state management somehow constitutes a legitimate threat to the future of wolves in the NRMR is unfounded.

          • avatar JB says:

            Mark:

            You’re making three substantive claims here, two of which deal with the CAUSE of wolves’ historical extermination; the other deals with whether it could happen again. I’ll try and address each.

            (1) “The final extirpation of wolves did in fact require the intervention of the federal government and like coordinated efforts with western states and the extensive use of poisoned bait to accomplish eradication.”

            I disagree. The “final extirpation” of wolves in the West co-occurred with a well-coordinated intervention of the federal government and the use of poisons. But correlation should not be confused with causation. My original point still stands. Wolves were extirpated across the eastern US WITHOUT federal intervention and in some states, without widespread use of poisons. Moreover, the bounty data reported show a 75% decline of wolves in Montana over a little more than a decade–before the feds got involved.

            (2)”The point is that extirpation of wolves from the lower 48 states required an extraordinary and multi-decade coordinated campaign to accomplish, with techniques that will not again be sanctioned by our society and government.”

            The extirpation of wolves started with European settlement, and followed our movements (and habitat modifications) westward. In various places it utilized guns, traps, poisons and other methods, as well. However, it occurred throughout much of the east before the invention of the car–let alone highways, and it was accomplished without today’s technology, at a time when humans were far less numerous on the landscape. Yes, wolves’ removal from the US took a considerable amount of time; however,I would argue that was a function of the time that it took European settlers to make it from one coast to the next.

            (3) “The “worry” that state management somehow constitutes a legitimate threat to the future of wolves in the NRMR is unfounded.”

            That all depends upon the actions of states’ elected and appointed officials. I think a strong argument could be made that Wyoming’s plan and Utah’s current laws threaten wolves in a significant portion of their range within NRMs–not that I would advocate re-listing. Rather, I would prefer to see legislators act like grown ups and adopt policies that show a clear intent to conserve, rather than minimize wolves’ population to some arbitrarily-defined legal minimum (see my comments above on risk tolerance).

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB –
            Again, I don’t see a disagreement with the historical facts. Your correlation of the final extirpation of wolves across the United States differs in your confidence that it could have been accomplished, completely without the intervention of the full weight and power of the federal government. We will never know with certainty. As I said above, the questions of what or who exactly was required to accomplish the complete eradication of wolves in the lower 48 is not central to my response to Alan and others who argue that hunting and other management tools being employed by the NRMR states constitute a threat to sustainable and viable wolf populations in the region. They do not. The eradication of wolves in the United States absolutely required the broad and extensive use of poisoned bait, unrestricted trapping, wolf denning, shooting and every other stategem society could bring to bear. THAT is my point. Those techniques, that coordinated strategy by the federal government, the state governments and the private sector …. is not going to occur again – EVER – under ANY realistic set of political and social circumstances.
            The choices and decisions of elected leaders and wildlife managers in the western states, with respect to wolf management, is certainly open for debate and critique but do not support any rational or logical argument that state management is a threat to the continued presence of viable, sustainable wolf populations in the NRMR or the GLR. As you note – the ESA remains in full effect and there is no indication that state governments desire to reduce wolves to a level that would push the NRMR population back into a relisting status.

            I also agree with you on the importance of the concept of risk tolerance. That is a topic that deserves much more discussion that the disingenuous hand wringing over non-existant threats by state management – to the continued presence of wolves across the NRMR.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            ++Moreover, the bounty data reported show a 75% decline of wolves in Montana over a little more than a decade–before the feds got involved.++

            JB

            You are missing something.

            In the decade that showed a 75% decline in wolves in Montana was between 1905 and the start of World War 1. Those were the years of the homesteader, the sod busters, the years of the open range, the years of the sheep herder. In those years thousand of immigrants took the railroad out to Montana and between the husband and wife they were allowed to homestead 320 acres each or 640 acres. Towns were constructed, schools built and each section had a homesteader. Between 1909 to 1919 the rains followed the plow, virgin ground was broken up and wheat planted. By 1919 drought returned and the homesteader went broke and within a year was gone. No none really knows how many people were because it was in between census. Those farms were purchased years later at tax sales and combined into ranches with thousands of fee, state and federal lands. Today some of those counties that had tens of thousands of homesteaders now have less than a thousand inhabitants.

            It was the density of rural people in those years who exterminated the wolves. Each family had a rifle and any wolf saw was shot on sight, wolves had a bounty and were worth money. Today there is a faction of the people on the lands.

          • avatar JB says:

            Elk:

            According to the US Census Bureau, Montana’s human population was as follows:

            1900: 243,329
            1910: 376,053
            1920: 548,889
            1930: 537,606

            The greatest drop in wolves was seen in the 1900-1910 period. Moreover, today nearly twice as many people live in Montana as did when wolves were eliminated (about 1 million), and you know as well as I do that they live mostly in winter habitat.

            – – – – –

            Mark:

            I would agree that wolf populations in the Northern Rockies are not threatened by regulated public hunting and trapping. However, I do not share your confidence that state legislators would be unable or unwilling to implement measures necessary to threaten wolf populations–and I ensure you that I am not being disingenuous when I write this. I readily admit, this may be because I have a lower risk tolerance than the commission you represent. However, as we have discussed in the past, I also have a desire to see state agencies remain relevant in the future. The actions of western legislators and the appointed officials at agencies are sowing distrust among nonconsumptive users of wildlife that may take generations to rebuild–and they are tempting fate (i.e. federal intervention) in the process.

          • avatar JB says:

            “The eradication of wolves in the United States absolutely required the broad and extensive use of poisoned bait, unrestricted trapping, wolf denning, shooting and every other stategem society could bring to bear. THAT is my point.”

            And my points are: (A) I don’t believe that you can make the claim that any one of these means/techniques was necessarily “required”; looking broadly across the US, we eliminated wolves using whatever methods were at hand at the time. (B) We are exceedingly more numerous and exceedingly more efficient at killing wolves today then we were when they were eradicated before. Thus, again, I reject the notion that wolves eradication would require federal intervention or the widespread use of poisons.

            Again, I will restate: I do NOT believe the current hunting and trapping seasons pose a threat to wolf populations; Mark and I are in complete agreement in that regard.

  21. avatar IDhiker says:

    “…lack of hunters has IDF&G in a pinch. It appears the constant jibberish about wolves killing all the elk is taking its toll.”

    I take this statement to mean that with all the loud, negative press concerning wolves and lack of elk coming out of Idaho, that non-resident hunters are hearing and reading it and then going elsewhere to hunt. Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether true or not.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      +Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether true or not+

      Nice observation IDhiker. I’m leaning towards true.

    • A lot of hunters like wolves. I have purchsed a combination resident Idaho hunting license for almost 60 years and I like having wolves in Idaho. When I talk to other senior hunters in Idaho I get a similar response. I haven’t bought an elk tag or deer tag for several years. The wolves can have “my elk and deer”. I have killed my share of wild animals and prefer to capture them with my camera today.
      I think many of the non-resident hunters stayed home because they don’t like Idaho’s war on wolves. Most outdoorsmen thrill to the sounds of elk bugling AND wolves howling. It is part of Idaho’s wilderness experience.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        “I think many of the non-resident hunters stayed home because they don’t like Idaho’s war on wolves. Most outdoorsmen thrill to the sounds of elk bugling AND wolves howling. It is part of Idaho’s wilderness experience.”

        Larry, I agree this may be a possibility. Although I don’t hunt anymore either, I do spend a lot of time in the wilderness and have talked to many hunters while afield. Last month, three camped near me and none had wolf tags. One of them, had his dog’s ashes with him that he was going to bury in the wilderness. An outfitter camped nearby tried to sell him a wolf tag, but he declined, saying, “One of the reasons I came here was to bury my dog. I don’t want to kill another one.” I was surprised that an outfitter is apparently a vendor for wolf tags in the wilderness.

        In the last few years, I have noticed most of the Idaho wilderness area hunters are out-of-staters, and the ones that have seen a wolf are thrilled. One guy showed me a picture of a wolf he managed to photograph at close range. He never bothered to show me pictures of the bull elk he shot.

        • avatar Mike says:

          ++”An outfitter camped nearby tried to sell him a wolf tag, but he declined, saying, “One of the reasons I came here was to bury my dog. I don’t want to kill another one.” I was surprised that an outfitter is apparently a vendor for wolf tags in the wilderness.++

          Wow, powerful stuff. And you raise a good point. Why was an outfitter selling permits in the backcountry?

  22. avatar Bob says:

    I am surprised Montana FWP would adopt such a law. I, as a hunter do not support FWP in this decision. There are some inaccuracies in the post, though.

    First, there are many documented cases of Hydatid Disease throughout the world. One must consider that North America is a poor place to research anything regarding wolves. To get accurate data, research needs to be focused where wolves have been present in numbers for the last couple of hundred years. That said, hydatid disease doesn’t seem to pose a huge human health threat under normal circumstances. Incidences of widespread disease have generally been in areas of very poor sanitary conditions.

    Second, foxes and coyotes don’t host echinococcus granulosus. They are a host for echinococcus multilocularis, which is a rodent, fox, coyote parasite and is not as easily transmitted to humans. Echinococcus granulosus is a large ungulate, wolf parasite.

    Some of the uproar over human health threats are greatly exaggerated, though. Humans can become infected by ingesting the eggs of the worm. Essentially, you would have to ingest wolf scat or handle it and lick your hands etc. It would be possible to put a piece of grass in your mouth that had eggs on it as well. That is one way elk get the eggs in their system by grazing on grass containing eggs.

    Obviously, the CDC isn’t overly concerned about the threat of widespread disease breaking out in the human population. People handling wolf scat, wolf carcasses or who frequently hike in the backcountry with their pet dog etc. would be wise to take precautions like wearing disposable gloves and hand washing.

    One additional concern is a type of echinococcus granulosus that has a life cycle in domestic animals (sheep, cattle etc.) and wolves. This parasite appears to be more contagious to humans. There have been some disease outbreaks documented in North America.

    Looking at North America for wolf attack data is a bad practice as well. There are many documented wolf attacks on humans throughout history. Wolves are large carnivores not domestic dogs. We have people killed in this country every year by mountain lions and bears. There will be people attacked and some killed by wolves. Pretending it isn’t an issue and wolves aren’t dangerous is irresponsible. People should know wolves are dangerous animals and take precautions.

    • avatar IDhiker says:

      I agree with you Bob. When my dogs are out in Idaho wolf country for extended periods, like they were last month, I promptly get them wormed when I return home. A wormer with either praziquantal or acecoline will work, according to my vet. We heard wolves, saw one, and saw plenty of tracks and a couple scats. For a few dollars, it’s worth it to treat your pet.

      Regarding wolf attacks, I consider the possibility of attacks on me remote, but I would agree that my dogs are definitely more at risk, and there’s been plenty of dog incidents recorded. That’s why I take the precaution of a firearm. Which, in my opinion, wolves or not, one should always have in real wilderness areas like the Frank Church. It’s up to each individual to make that choice, though.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Bear spray might be a better alternative than a gun.

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          For bears and many wild animals, yes. But not for humans. The two most dangerous encounters I’ve ever had in the backcountry were with people.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          I would not hesitate at all to use bear spray on a human, if my life depended on it..

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            I agree, more likely to hit the target, and less likely for severe collateral damage. Perhaps poor connection, but if bear spray was deployed on grizzly instead of shooting, maybe, just maybe that Nevada hunter might still be alive.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            Remember the bear was wounded, someone is going to have to kill the wounded animal.

            My cousin just called me and hunting pheasants yesterday between Red Lodge and Cody out on the plains, the dogs got on point and out came a grizzly 30 feet away, where they never expected a grizzly to to be. Nothing happen, the grizzly ran off.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Elk,

            I know the bear was wounded, and that someone still had to finish the job. Point was, in close proximity, you sure do take a chance of shooting your partner, as he did. Same with a dog if it gets attacked by a wolf or two. Shoot the wolf, good chance you will hit the dog. Make it so the wolf can’t see/breath, perhaps your dog doesn’t get shot.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Or a firearm…

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Huh???

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Immer Treue,

            It was meant to be a comment on SB’s comment:

            “I would not hesitate at all to use bear spray on a human, if my life depended on it..”

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            🙂

    • avatar Alan says:

      “Pretending it isn’t an issue and wolves aren’t dangerous is irresponsible. People should know wolves are dangerous animals and take precautions.”
      Who’s pretending that wolves are not potentially dangerous? Any animal, wild or domestic, is potentially dangerous. Heck, my lap-loving cat is potentially dangerous if she’s in a mood! The argument is simply that wolves are not red-eyed, blood-thirsty demons from Hades out to eat our innocent children as they wait for the school bus. The argument is, simply, that they are no more “potentially” dangerous than any other large wild animal. Probably less so than some, like “Bambi” stepping out in front of the ol’ Chevy, for example.
      Your chances of being attacked by any wild animal (except insects, of course!) are pretty small no matter how much time you spend in the outdoors. Your chances of being attacked by the neighbor’s dog in your own driveway are far better.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Alan,

        Exactly! I would never hesitate to venture into wolf country due to a fear of attack. A few precautions, like you’d take with any wild animal, are all that’s necessary.

        Be realistic, not hysterical. For example, I read in the Grangeville, Idaho, paper where an elk hunter claimed he no longer could hunt his favorite areas due to fear of wolf attack. That’s unrealistic hysteria!

    • avatar Jay says:

      Actually Bob, coyotes do host E. granulosus (The occurrence of Echinococcus granulosus in coyotes in the Central Valley of California, Liu et al. 1970); I’m sure a similar google search would yield the same results for foxes.

      • avatar Bob says:

        I didn’t mean to imply coyotes cannot be infected with echinococcus granulosus. Coyotes and fox are not the definitive hosts though. An opportunistic fox or coyote coming across an infected elk carcass will become infected, just as your pet dog would as well.

        Echinococcus granulosus is a large ungulate parasite, though, and large ungulates are not typical prey species for coyotes and fox.

        Echinococcus multilocularis is a rodent parasite. The animals that carry echinococcus multilocularis are typical prey species for coyotes and fox.

        • avatar Jay says:

          You’re wrong–they carry the adult worm, which then lays eggs that get passed in the coyote or fox feces. The intermediate species (ungulates, or rodents for the multiocularis) carries a larval form of the worm, which does not develop into a mature worm until ingested by the host (i.e., a canid, be fox, coyote, wolf, or domestic dog).

    • Bob,

      I think you have it backwards. I went to the CDC’s website on secondary infection from these two closely related kinds of tapeworms. The site said that of the two, echinococcus multilocularis was the more dangerous to people and could cause fatalities. Echinococcus granulosus was regarded as more of an unpleasant but fortunately slow-growing infestation.

      It appears to me that both of these have been around for some time. An official Oregon web site said the disease was first identified there in 1977, but earlier research I did (a year ago when this first came out) described a case in elk in Washington State in the 1920s.

      As far as danger to people, it must not be great unless you are very unsanitary. Hardly anyone would been in more danger than Carter Niemeyer, but he doesn’t have it. He knows of no wolf trappers, or handlers that do.

      But I agree people need to wash their hands and wear gloves when they dress a deer, elk or especially handle any canid.

      I don’t currently have any pets, but when I’ve had dogs or cats, I almost always washed my hands after petting them.

      As I have written before, than real danger from parasites is not this rare infestation, but toxiplasmosis from free roaming domestic cats. Over a billion people world wide are infected.

      You can also get other kinds of tapeworms from wild and domestic animals and from raw fish.

      • avatar Bob says:

        Ralph, echinococcus multilocularis is a more serious disease if you were to become infected but is not as easily transmitted to humans.

        The best person to talk with is Dr. Robert Rausch, a Parasitologist with the University of Washington. Dr. Rausch has spent the last 60 years studying echinococcus. Most of the other people in this field most likely had Dr. Rausch as a professor.

        Unfortunately, some people have greatly exaggerated the danger of infection to humans.

        The largest problem with the wolf issue is inaccurate, sensationalistic information being put forth by both sides. Please don’t take that statement as an accusation towards you, as that is not the intention.

        People need to realize that hunting is not going to cause wolves to go extinct or harm their recovery no matter what the harvest quotas are set. I have spoken with most all of the respected wolf biologists and they all agree that hunting poses zero threat to the continued recovery of wolves.

        The only threat to wolves would be for us to carry out a multi-faceted extermination plan using aerial hunting, poison, trapping etc.

        Back to the post, I do not support the practice of killing a wolf, tagging it and leaving it. And the reason of possible infection to the hunter is a poor reason to allow such a practice.

  23. avatar jdubya says:

    This is legal to do with black bears in Utah. SFW lobbied hard to make sure that harvest of meat and/or hide is not required. Just kill it and walk away.

  24. avatar Elk275 says:

    It is just like using drones to kill wildlife, I doubt that a drone will ever be used to kill any wildlife. I doubt that any wolf hunter will ever kill a wolf and not take the hide and skull. The wolf hunting regulations do not specfically say that a hunter can tag a wolf and leave it lay. Its says that a hunter who wishes to retain procession of the hide and skull must report it to an employee of the MtFWP’s.

    I would believe that 99% of hunters with wolf tags are under the impression that skull and hide must be retained. I think that 95% of wolf hunters do not know how to properly skin a wolf, therefore the entire wolf will be taken to a taxidermist for skinning.

    • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

      I agree, Elk. The main issue with the regulation is the government giving credence to unfounded paranoia by making an accomodation that allows the paranoid to be wasteful.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Sort of like IDFG inflating wolf numbers…

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          IDhiker –
          See my post above. There has been no inflation of wolf numbers.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark, then you should use the numbers provided by the population estimates used by the Nez Perce researchers. I agree with Ralph’s post that there is plenty of room for counting errors, and that the Nez Perce number is not necessarily the minimum.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            To be clear, the 2010 wolf estimate conducted by Nez Perce biologists is the official estimate, with the qualifications I note above. The authors of the 2010 annual report (Nez Perce tribal biologists) make the same qualifications (under-counting due to their inability to fly and count wolves in the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church Wilderness Areas) in their report. Because the Nez Perce biologists followed the IDFG protocol for their wolf population estimate (i.e. they used the same methods) under the best of circumstances theirs are also UNDER-ESTIMATES of the true number of wolves in the state.
            Sampling error is always a part of estimating wildlife numbers. For the Idaho wolf population estimate protocol, that sampling error is almost entirely the wolves that do not get counted. The reported number is the VERIFIED observation of actual wolves – not an estimate derived by statistical inference. It is certainly possible that biologists could record an incorrect number, double count or under-count the number of wolves in a pack, etc. – but that type of error would be insignificant with the diligence given to these counts. Unless you are seriously suggesting a conspiracy to fudge the data – there is a very low likeli-hood that we over-estimate wolf numbers.
            Because of the rare limitations the Nez Perce biologists had to work under (very short time frame to prepare and inadequate resources to fly and count very large wilderness areas) the 2010 wolf estimate should be considered a LARGER UNDER-ESTIMATE than the standard protocol allows for.

  25. avatar Nancy says:

    Something we can all agree on – actually going out hunting & killing a wolf is a novelty right now, whether some backwoods outfitter is pushing a tag or the local feed store.

    The fact (and shame) is, wolves barely got a foothold (given how many other “big game” animals/ predators like mountain lion and black bear, who trump their numbers, 10 fold in the Rockies and also contribute greatly to the predation of not only livestock but deer and elk) before the battle cry went out to reduce wolves, as close as possible… but not quite… to endangered status again. Idaho has all but said – go for it, the people have spoken – kill as many as you can and we’ll sort the numbers out at a later date.

    Western states have become nothing more than gigantic game farms and the hell with a balanced ecosystem in what’s left of wilderness areas. IMHO.

  26. avatar IDhiker says:

    Mark Gamblin,

    You have claimed that states cannot exterminate wolves without the use of poisons, Federal Government involvement, etc. And that eliminating wolves will never happen again, nor is it desired. Also, you repeatedly use the term, “viable, sustainable” population.

    Why should your department be trusted? It’s heavily managed by commissioners that are connected to the very lobbies that despise wolves, and overseen by a governor and legislature with the same mentality. You’ve also said repeatedly that the current policy meets the needs and desires of Idaho’s people. I think it’s pretty clear what the leadership of Idaho desires, even though the people are evenly split.

    One of the major issues here is what is a viable, sustainable population. Your department figures it is the bare minimum that they can get away with and still avoid relisting. If it was any other predator such as bears or mountain lions, this “viable, sustainable” number would be unacceptable.

    Can Idaho policies basically eliminate wolves? Of course they can. The hunters have killed some so far, and the trapping starts today. My understanding is that there were 16 wolf trapping seminars that were all full with 25 trappers each. Simple math tells us that equals 400 trappers, to be spread over only a portion of the state. If we allow them only two wolves each, that will allow for the practical elimination of wolves in the state. Two wolves in four and a half months shouldn’t be that hard.

    Other “trick” being used is giving trappers extra tags to shoot wolves hanging around trapped ones. Add on the extra two months for trapping wolves compared with most other species, and the year-round hunting allowed in some areas(the wolves get July off), and you can see why I’m skeptical.

    I know, IDFG will close areas when quotas are met so the elimination of wolves doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, there is no quota, so we don’t really know when this will happen. This whole affair could have been managed far better by IDFG.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      IDhiker –
      I have consistently explained that wolves will be managed to prevent numbers from dropping to or below 150 individuals or 15 breeding pairs. That is what managing for a number significantly above 150/15 BP means. Management decisions such as the theoretical need to close a wolf hunting or trapping season will be made adaptively, as I described above. That means that circumstances and conditions will vary from year to year and with the intense monitoring that is inherent to wolf management in North America – should conditions require more conservative management – i.e. reduction or closure of harvest/kill/take opportunity or reduction in depredations control actions – are easily implemented. Most importantly, the reality is that all management techniques/options available to us have extremely low risk for over-harvest/kill/take of wolves that could jeapardize the sustainability and viability of NRMR wolf populations.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        Sorry, the above post responds to IDhikers post below.

        • avatar IDhiker says:

          Well Mark,

          I have a non-contentious question for you. I saw on a IDFG site somewhere that wolf trappers were told that they needed to have the necessary “equipment” with them while wolf trapping in case they accidentally trap animals such as a mountain lion. The necessary equipment to release the lion unharmed.

          My question is: How does a lone trapper release a mountain lion and what “equipment” is required to do this?

          • avatar jon says:

            Very good question idhiker. How does one go about releasing a trapped cougar or black bear?

          • avatar Bob says:

            IDhiker
            All one needs is a catch pole if by yourself or a tail when there’s more than one and a “set”. Local coyote trapper has released lions and wolves often. As said before their more afraid of us.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              It’s not hard to do if you are experienced. It could be very bad if you have minimal training. I think the biggest problem will come when someone’s pet dog gets trapped and they have no experience. Their dog will bite them, maybe badly.

          • avatar Bob says:

            Ralph
            I know that my deceased dog chewed me up some when caught in a old coyote trap, died of old age by the way. Problem with a wolf trap better have a set of trap setters, stronger springs and built like a tank they just are stronger.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Mark,

        Thank you for your reply. Could you tell me what “significantly” means in “significantly above 150/15 BP?” Where in the 150-500 range does it fall?

        I continue to pester you because you (IDFG) won’t come clean on numbers, but rather uses vague terms like “sustainability and viability.”

        I hope you are right about “extremely low risk.”

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          JB –
          I appreciate your point and … agree. I’m not going to change the minds of anyone disagreeing with me in this thread. But, I have no desire to change any minds here. My purpose is to correct misinformation, explain IDFG policies, programs and decisions and provide legitimate alternative perspectives on the contentious issues we often discuss.
          We agree that the Idaho wolf population is robust, viable, sustainable. I’m emphasizing that under Idaho management this population will remain so, albeit at a smaller population size. For as long as the Idaho wolf population remains unlisted, genetically diverse and broadly dispersed across the state (not universally dispersed across the state) – the Idaho wolf population will continue to accurately described as robust, viable and sustainable. Time will tell.

      • avatar Jerry Black says:

        Mark Gamblin……. I would assume that IDFG has researched the affect on populations of lion , coyote, bobcat, beaver and other wildlife before authorizing the slaughter of so many wolves…..please provide information as to where this research can be found.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Jerry B. –
          Yes, the IDFG has conducted extensive research on predation effects by lions and bears on elk production and recruitment in the Lolo Zone and elsewhere. I’ve explained numerous times now that prior to the re-establishment of wolves in the Lolo Zone, bear and lion predation of elk calves and productive cows was the most important factor holding elk numbers below the productive capacity of existing elk habitat. Lion and bear harvest/kill/take opportunity was increased to reduce numbers of lions and bears and for several years both bear and lion numbers and predation losses of elk calves and cows were successfully reduced. With the return of wolves to the Lolo Zone, predation loss, to wolves, of elk cows and calves quickly increased and elk in the Lolo Zone are again held well below the capacity of existing elk habitat to support – specifically by wolf predation.
          Bear predation has been documented and known to be one important source of elk calf mortality, though not always the most important limiting factor for an elk population. In the Lolo Zone, wolf predation is far and away the most important source of mortality limiting elk numbers below the capacity of habitat to support.

          • avatar Jerry Black says:

            Mark Gamblin…..let me ask this another way.
            Will the decrease in wolves increase the lion population and how will that effect any lynx population since lions kill lynx?
            Will the decrease in wolves increase the coyote population and how will that affect the biodiversity of that area?
            How will the beaver population be affected if there’s an increase in lions and coyotes?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jerry B. –
            Those are interesting questions. I don’t have answers for them. Why do you ask?

          • avatar Jerry Black says:

            Mark Gamblin…..Why do I ask???
            Because it seems counter-productive to remove an apex predator from an ecosystem in which their presence helps maintain a balance, so as a wildlife advocate who values more wildlife than just elk,I question this course of action.
            Increased lion populations make it difficult for lynx, a threatened species, to survive. Lions kill lynx! Not good when efforts are being made to protect them and restore their populations.
            Coyotes increase and move into areas vacated by wolves, so there’s more predation on elk calves, fawns, game birds AND LIVESTOCK.
            Coyotes and lions prey heavily on beaver and a decrease in beaver populations affect wetland biodiversity and water storage.
            Did IDFG bother to take a look at any of these consequences related to wolf removal?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JerryB. –
            Of course, my question “why do you ask?” was rhetorical. It’s clear where you want to go with your question – the myth of “balance” in nature. In the sense that you suggest – there is no such thing. “Nature” is a dynamic and very messy process. Yes, there are complex ecological inter-relationships at play, including the effects that “apex” predators have on prey populations and cascading top-down effects on other biotic communities. But, to suggest that by having wolves, lion, bears or other “apex” predators at some defined density or simple population target number – will assure some benefit in terms of an ecological equilibrium – is to misunderstand, simplistically, how little we know and how poorly we can predict the consequences of changes to these ecological inter-relationships. In this case, you and I are talking about changes in “apex” predator abundance, at the individual species level and at variable ratios of multiple “apex” predator species AND the potential cascading effects on trophic levels below those “apex” predators.
            Cutting to your main point – NO, there is not a compelling reason to manage wolves for any specific population level, let alone “letting nature take it’s course” – to achieve some desired ecological outcome OR “balance in nature”.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Mark,

        I have consistently asked you for clarification of vague terms… again, what is “significantly” above 150?”

        I am realizing that you either cannot give me a number, either because IDFG has no clue what that is, or you are under orders not to disclose it.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          IDhiker –
          Management will be guided by our continual assessment of conditions (management actions, disease, wolf population status, etc.) that affect wolf numbers and population integrity. Management will be conducted to consevatively ensure that the number of wolves in Idaho does not drop to or below 150/15 BP. That necessarily means managing for a buffer above 150/15BP. I understand and accept that you and others are not reassured by that management strategy. I can only tell you that time and future experience will determine if your lack of confidence is warrented.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark G,

            True, time will tell if my “lack of confidence is warranted.” Honestly, I hope I can be pleasantly surprised, but yes, I will be very surprised.

            But, then again, you still won’t give anyone the magic number or “buffer” above the 150 that IDFG is shooting for (no pun intended). Using the 150/15 BP is really kind of ridiculous, don’t you think? If you’re going to use that number for a absolute minimum, that won’t be approached, then why not have an approximate maximum that is where you want to be above 150? Basically, you’re saying, “We’re not going to tell you anything, but trust us, we have wolves best interests at heart, despite what state government says.”

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            That’s because there is no “magic number” or definitive buffer theshold. Nor is there a rational need or justification to provide such numbers. The number or buffer will literally depend on shifting variables in any given year.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark,

            I totally disagree with you on that. It is illogical and not rational to say you will adjust seasons when the wolf “harvest” meets IDFG’s goals, but then say you have no idea what that goal is.

            “The number or buffer will literally depend on shifting variables in any given year.” Of course we don’t know what that number is, but I assume you mean for instance, lets say all the wolves are killed except for 185, then the hunts / trapping will be scaled way back next year. Conversely, if only 250 wolves are killed this season, then the hunting and trapping regulations will even be more lax next year, until IDFG meets is goal, which we don’t know.

            True, “shifting variables” every year – but we’re talking about this year, where we already know the population dynamics.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark,

            “That’s because there is no “magic number” or definitive buffer theshold. Nor is there a rational need or justification to provide such numbers.”

            This position of IDFG is similar to two basketball teams starting a game without keeping score, and agreeing to play until someone wins. Or, perhaps, starting a foot race without a finish line. Seems irrational to me.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            With your qualification of – “will the IDFG close the wolf hunting/trapping season THIS year?” – the answer is extremely unlikely because there is no reason to expect or legitimately worry that the hunting/trapping season this year will risk reducing the Idaho wolf population to a level close to the 150/15BP wolf management threshold.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark,

            “With your qualification of – “will the IDFG close the wolf hunting/trapping season THIS year?”

            I don’t recall saying that. Which post was that on?

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      IDhiker –
      I can only point to the record of Idaho wolf management to date. Wolves are thriving in this state and there are NO management prescriptions in place, nor considered that constitute any threat to their continued sustainability or viability as a population. You will have to decide for yourself if you have trust.
      Can the management policies Idaho is employing today eradicate wolves in the state? Of course they CANNOT. To argue that they possibly could is to profoundly mis-understand the history of wolf control/eradication in North America. Neither trapping or hunting pose a threat to wolf conservation by any process of logical reasoning. Wolf trapping, like wolf hunting has always been very difficult with very low rates of success. The enhancements for wolf trapping and hunting tags are also examples of adaptive management to achieve population management objectives. The 2009-2010 wolf hunting season confirmed what was/is already understood – that hunting (and trapping) are very inefficient management tools to achieve significant population reduction objectives. Offering additional tags will, hopefully, result in additional wolves being harvested/killed/taken, but cannot be expected to reduce wolf numbers close to the stated objective of a wolf population safely and substantially closer to 150 individuals or 15 breeding pairs.

      • avatar IDhiker says:

        Mark,

        Yes, they are thriving, but one could say that is because Idaho (IDFG) has not managed them (except for one year).

        Once again, you are using terminology that is vague and could be construed to be misleading. What is a “significant population reduction,” and what is, “a wolf population safely and substantially closer to 150…” mean?

        Having management objectives without a clear objective is not logical. Perhaps IDFG does have objectives that are clear, but for one reason or another, does not want to publish them. Eradicate? It depends how you consider that. I would call close to 150 just about eradication, considering you estimate 1000 wolves currently in Idaho.

      • avatar Jon Way says:

        So, Mark, based on your last statement does that mean that IDFG will take helicopters and go in this spring and “harvest” the “robust” wolf population until it is at 151 of known wolves to keep them in a “robust” state. At least it would be nice to keep the general public appraised of IDFG’s “North American model” of robustly managing wolves.

        • avatar william huard says:

          Robustly spoken Jon!

          • avatar Ken Cole says:

            Not so robustly answered.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Larry T.,
            Your views have certainly been given consideration. IDhiker and I exchanged comments on the same misconception recently. Your preferences have not carried the day in setting management objectives and choosing management options to achieve those objectives, but I assure you that your preferences have been heard and considered. Setting aside exclusive wolf viewing zones or other options that exclude other legitimate beneficial uses of the wolf resource are not necessary to accomodate your desired recreational pursuit. Are you seriously suggesting that you could not/ can not expect to successfully view and photograph wolves in the fall without wolves being shot in front you or without serious personal risk? No one is suggesting that you don’t have or would threaten to take away your rights to photograph wolves at any time of the year. What you describe is not analogous to intentional disruption of hunting activity. You are free to hunt wolves with your camera 12 months of the year.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            “Larry T.,
            Your views have certainly been given consideration. IDhiker and I exchanged comments on the same misconception recently. Your preferences have not carried the day in setting management”………….
            and it went something like this;
            First Commissioner: Does this Larry fellow run any livestock?
            Second Commissioner: No.
            First Commissioner: Next.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Jon Way –
          No, managing for a wolf population of 151 would be contrary to the management objectives I’ve been describing. Wolves will be managed to ensure that wolf numbers do not drop to or below 150/15BP. That will necessarily require ensuring that a buffer much larger that one(1) is maintained. With that management objective achieved, a robust and sustainable wolf population will be ensured.

          • avatar Ken Cole says:

            Let’s ask Jon’s question another way. Does that mean that IDFG will take helicopters and go in this spring and “harvest” the “robust” wolf population until it is at xxx of known wolves to keep them in a “robust” state?

          • Mark- You and your cohorts at the IDFG have given no consideration to those of us in Idaho that like to see and photograph wolves.(I have been a resident since 1940 when I was born in Rigby)
            The present hunting seasons statewide cover the entire year when wolves are in their prime and make good photo subjects. Unles we are willing to go out dressed in fluorescent orange/bullet proof vests and take our photos quickly so we don’t have hunters shooting our wolf photo subjects right in front of us, we a limited to looking for wolves during the short summer non-hunting season. You do not seem to listen to or represent anyone but the hunting and livestock industries.
            If I am hunting with my camera(I always have a current Idaho hunting license with me) and some hunter comes up and shoots the wolves I have found, can I have them arrested for distubing my photo hunt? Idaho law prohibits interfering with hunters.
            Will your conservation officers interpret the law so as to protect the rights of those Idahoans, such as myself, that choose to hunt with cameras?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Ken,
            Right now, I have no information on what tools and techniques, other than hunting and trapping, we might use this spring to achieve wolf management objectives. Regardless of the methods, Idaho wolf management will ensure a robust, viable and sustainable population of wolves for current and future generations. Understanding that you and others question or object to my use of the terms “robust” “viable” and “sustainable” here is what I mean:
            robust: a wolf population that is resilient and capable of persisting under the variable environmental conditions all wildlife populations are challenged by;
            viable: a wolf population with sufficient genetic and ecological health to persist for the forseeable future;
            sustainable: shouldn’t be necessary to describe this but….. what it says – we and future generations of Idahoans can expect wolves to be a permanent part of the Idaho landscape.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark,

            Your definitions fall short unless you can be definite what the parameters of a robust and viable population are.

            This is still blowing smoke. Different people have different concepts of what those words mean for wolves.

            I will have to agree with Larry T in his post to you. I just mailed a letter to the director about this same issue of these massively long trapping and hunting seasons interfering with other users of the outdoors. I don’t want to be around people killing wolves, either, whether by guns or traps. Saying that’s just my personal angst just doesn’t cut it. And telling me to stay home doesn’t either. Enough is enough.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker –
            The parameters of robust, viable and sustainable will be the test of success. If wolves continue to persist across the state, with genetic diversity, at a population level significantly above the ESA criteria for relisting (150/15BP) then the population will be robust, viable and sustainable.

          • avatar JB says:

            Mark:

            I think the trouble you’re running into here is that few people would use the term “robust” to describe a population managed for what (some) biologists believe is the minimum viable population. Few would disagree that the current wolf population is “robust” (i.e., “strong and healthy; hardy; vigorous”); however, I think many people believe that if Idaho gets is way, this definition will no longer apply. Given the subjective nature of such terms, I am doubtful that your insistence to the contrary will create many converts.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB – Sorry, I mis-posted this response somewhere above. In this blog-storm I’m failing to correctly position my responses:

            JB –
            I appreciate your point and … agree. I’m not going to change the minds of anyone disagreeing with me in this thread. But, I have no desire to change any minds here. My purpose is to correct misinformation, explain IDFG policies, programs and decisions and provide legitimate alternative perspectives on the contentious issues we often discuss.
            We agree that the Idaho wolf population is robust, viable, sustainable. I’m emphasizing that under Idaho management this population will remain so, albeit at a smaller population size. For as long as the Idaho wolf population remains unlisted, genetically diverse and broadly dispersed across the state (not universally dispersed across the state) – the Idaho wolf population will continue to accurately described as robust, viable and sustainable. Time will tell.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        http://www.wolf.org/wolves/learn/basic/resources/mech_pdfs/292Effectivenessoflethal.pdf

        Read Discussion page 782

        This has been written before by others, but unless you eliminate them, depredations do not decrease when wolves are killed, but increase.

        • avatar JB says:

          The other major point about what happened in Montana and Idaho following the hunting season is that Wyoming saw a larger decrease in depredations than either Montana or Idaho. However, I don’t think looking at these aggregate data are the best way to test this hypothesis, as one should only look at wolf packs that have access to cattle (which in many/most? places is seasonal) and you should only count depredations that occur after hunting trapping. That is, there are important temporal and spatial components that are not accounted for by simply looking at the aggregate data. Finally, ideally one would want to compare the effects of targeted control vs. non-selective hunting. This sort of design would further complicate study.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB –
            The Wyoming observation reinforces my point. I am NOT arguing that the Idaho, Wyoming, Montana or Wisconsin experiences and recent observations are evidence of a predictable cause and effect relationship between wolf population reduction and reduction in depredations – i.e. tht if you reduce wolves a proportionate reduction in depredation will follow. I AM suggesting that the repeated refrain that Wolf Pack/Social Hierarchy Disruption will inevitably result in increased depredation problems is not supported by reliable empirical data – Mech’s predictive modeling efforts not-withstanding. The variable experiences reported here – of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Wisconsin – demonstrate the weakness of the dire warnings about “pack disruption”. Like the bold predictions of benefits to “balance in nature” from “trophic cascade” effects of increasing the presence of wolves on the landscape – this is another example of exuberant mis-application of ecological naivete.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          @Immer –

          An interesting paper, but I would be a bit cautious about applying the MN results to depredation in the NRM – there are significant differences in landscape, animal husbandry practices, and even wolf behavior.

          And I would certainly put a finer point to your conclusion that wolf removal does not reduce the risk of re-depredation.

          My own anecdotal observations align quite well with the paper, in that removal of the male breeder has a high positive correlation with reduced re-depredation.

          I would contend that the results show that under the right conditions, targeted lethal control can greatly reduce the recurrence of depredation.

          Of course, this says nothing in support of a general hunting or trapping season, where the male breeder is undeniably the most difficult animal to remove.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            ma’iingan,

            Not necessarily “my” conclusion, but I find the discussion interesting in that others over the year have brought up similar studies that selectively removing predators might actually increase depredation.

            JB brought up Wyoming depredations went down, despite the fact there was no “hunting” of wolves during the 09 Idaho, Montana seasons.

            Severity of Winter, as you have brought up, I believe in another Mech or Fritts study (86 or 88) may come into play. And, most certainly the GL states are different than the NRM states.

            I guess what concerns me about the entire situation is that GL states have ~3 times the # of wolves as the NRM states, in a much smaller area, and though not free of wolf associated problems, have not engaged in the hysteria associated with the NRM states.

            With delisting right around the corner, and perhaps with a glass is half full outlook, I can’t imagine the GL states setting wolf management goals on a par with the NRM states.

    • avatar william huard says:

      It is obvious IDFG cannot be trusted. Gamblin will just keep blabbing about 150/15 until the rest of fall into a coma. IDFG could have done this differently, responsibly, but they can’t help themselves. They could have increased hunting quotas in areas with more livestock or people, but the goal here is to teach wolves a lesson. I’m disappointed they are being allowed to get away with this.
      Gamblin has been around a few days- last month I quoted Carter Niemeyer’s statement in his book where he points out that in Idaho the legislature, the Commission, and the Governor doesn’t want wolves-period- they are not welcome in Idaho. Gamblin must have been too busy to respond to Carter’s claims….. These people do whatever their special interests tell them to do. Whatever that number is…..152, 154, 161, that puts wolves in ROBUSTLAND, or “just above the number that will keep control in our hands and out of the FEDS”

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        William,
        Frankly, I don’t recall your comments on, quotes of Carter Niemeyer’s statement about the Idaho political process. Regardless, it is not my or any other state employee’s place to critique or analyze the decisions of Idaho elected leaders, other than to explain HOW those decisions should be interpreted and HOW they will be implemented, with respect to wildlife policy, programs and management actions.

        • avatar william huard says:

          Mark-
          Page 315- Carter’s book-
          “I sort of suspected it before I moved here in 2000, but compared to Idaho, Montana’s wolf politics were a Sunday picnic. Idaho, with the exception of its few fiery environmentalists lodged mostly in Ada County where Boise is, and Blaine County where the rich and famous of Sun Valley live, was as redneck as they come- from the legislature to the people on the land. The state’s official position on wolves from the beginning ws simple: The animals weren’t welcome. When the first load of wolves was released in 1995 at Corn Creek in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness, the Legislature unanimously passed a law prohibiting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from having anything to do with them. Much later, the Legislature also passed a meaningless but symbolic bill calling for the immediate removal of all wolves in the state by any means necessary. Instead, the Nez Pearce Tribe, whose ancestral relationship wih the animals was fraternal rather than adversarial, stepped in with a plan to monitor the new predators.”
          Later, page 317-
          “When I arrived in Idaho in 2000, the legislative Wolf Oversight Committee had recently drafted its 14th version of a state plan to manage wolves once they were removed from the Endangered Species list. No one on the commitee could agree on a number of points, including how many wolves would be enough and under what circumstances they should be killed. I flipped through the plan. It struck me as nothing more than a long winded permission slip to kill as many wolves as possible.”
          You see Mark, we all know who you work for…….It’s the politics in your state that fails these animals, and quite frankly- that is why you refuse to adopt a 24 hour trap check policy or have areas of the state open exclusively for wolf-viewing.

          • avatar william huard says:

            Mark-

            What is it going to take to get your Wildlife Commission to adopt a 24 hour trap check policy?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            William –
            I work for the Idaho public, as do our elected leaders, and other state employees. It is indeed politics that determine every decision society makes. There is nothing heinous about resource management decisions being politically motivated. If YOUR every wish for wildlife management were adopted, those decisions would be equally political. A more important question would be: do those decisions reflect the will, needs and desires of the Idaho public? In that light, your question of when will the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decide to make changes to the trap checking rule is best asked of the Commission. The Commission is responsible to the Idaho public and to their statutory responsibilities to conserve and perpetuate wildlife for the Idaho public. Being from Illinois doesn’t mean that you don’t have access to the Fish and Game Commission, only that you don’t have equal standing with Idaho residents – for your wildlife management preferences.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            William,
            All u need to do is tell the Commission that you are a livestock producer,regardless of where you live…and viola, you move to the head of the line

          • avatar william huard says:

            I reread “Wolfer” a second time, and found the book facinating. The Livestock Industry has no shame. Remember the couple that accused wolves of killing a cow, with absolutely no evidence of wolves being near the carcass- Carter tells the woman that the cow died from a disease probably pneumonia, and shows the husband the physical evidence…. and the woman says- “we don’t raise diseased cattle”- It’s laughable.

        • avatar Jay says:

          So Idaho employees are to be mindless little drones condoning without question every decision foisted upon them by the “leaders”? You can never question their decisions?

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            In defense of Mark, whether he fully supports Idaho leader’s positions, or not, one will not be employed long by any body/organization if they are critical of the the stance made by that entity, in particular in public forums.

            Some pretty darn good arguments have been made that are antagonistic toward the Idaho wolf program by members of this forum. Mark, in the very least can serve as a conduit for these ideas, while explaining to us the “company” platform.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Jay –
            Good question. This is a topic that deserves, needs open discussion. This is an issue of roles and responsibilities in our system of government. Elected leaders are responsible to the people of Idaho, in this case. So are public employees, but most directly to those leaders chosen directly or indirectly through appointments and hiring policies of the state – to serve the public.
            Elected leaders are ultimately, directly responsible to state residents to conduct government as they desire. State employees are responsible to the public, the elected leaders they choose and the governance boards, commissions and departments empowered to carry out state policies. There are layers of opportunities for public employees to work within their departments, with their boards and commissions to effectively and professionally implement/conduct state policy. Public employees have opportunities and civic obligations to contribute to policy developement – through the electoral process and through the procedures developed by by their board/commissions and department administrations. Once those policies have been vetted by our system of government the role and responsibility of public employees (that would be me) is to carry out those policies, according to my Commission and Department decisions and guidelines.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Immer is right. One of my roles and responsibilities is to listen to the public (everyone here), explain policy, programs and agency decisions, and share the public feedback I receive with agency and other government leaders – which I do.

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            Mark,

            I understand you cannot give your opinion on this site, especially if it differs from the political leadership. What I wonder, not being there, does the leadership of IDFG ever debate and disagree with the commissioners, or do they just rubber-stamp decisions?

            We all must follow orders to a point, but that point changes when orders are immoral or wrong.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            IDhiker,
            That’s another good and fair question. Yes, IDFG staff routinely offer professonal opinions, guidance, recommendations to individual Commissioners and the Commission as a body. Every Commission meetingt has formal agenda topics and issues the include staff recommendations. My own experience with the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has been that with rare exceptions in the past, all staff recommendations are respectfully and carefully listened to, discussed with staff and considered. And yes, there are differences of opinions and assessments of those issues that also get discussed.
            There are frequent Commission workshops conducted by IDFG staff to provide more in-depth and detailed briefings on key wildlife management issues that Commissioners closely participate in and appreciate. None of the issues we discuss on this blog are simple or easy to manage – by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission or by Idaho Fish and Game Department. There is intense work and preparation applied to each management challenge by some of the best trained and highest qualified wildlife professionals in the world and group of dedicated volunteers on the Commission who donate hundreds, thousands of hours in their tenures. This is off topic, but it should be understood that Idaho Fish and Game Commissoners donate a significant portion of personal lives for three to six years (depending on re-appointments)for essentially travel and per-diem expense re-imbursement. Commissioners are not paid on an hourly or salary basis for their public service.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Jay,

            I am a perfect example of what happens when you buck the system as the employee of an agency. I can tell you from my history with a wildlife agency, you don’t last long and you loose everything!

          • avatar IDhiker says:

            SB,

            But you still have your honor and integrity, which is worth something.

          • avatar Salle says:

            If you don’t “toe the line” with the agency’s political bent you either don’t get hired or end up getting fired.

  27. avatar IDhiker says:

    Mark,

    I just read your post to Jon Way. Now, you say wolves managed between 150 and 500, whereas in the past you’ve not used any absolute numbers, just vague terms. 150 to 500 is a pretty big spread, considering the small numbers we’re dealing with.

    Now I’d like to hear about the process the department is going to use to close seasons when “enough” are killed and how that determination will be made and whether IDFG will have the political courage to do so.

    • avatar Salle says:

      MG says: “The Commission is responsible to the Idaho public and to their statutory responsibilities to conserve and perpetuate wildlife for the Idaho public.”

      But what he really means is this:

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

      I guess if they have enough animals to kill that’s all that really matters.. to them. And for the rest of us it’s TS Elliott if we actually want to see these animals without killing them or wanting or watching them to be/being killed. So much for equality among the residents of the state if they aren’t hunters or ranchers, just another sign of the times, eh?

      • avatar Salle says:

        Actually, I intended to highlight this extremely important portion of the mission statement:

        “…and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others,continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Salle –
          Yes, in so doing – the continued supply (i.e. conserved) of wildlife resource provides a diversity of benefits valued by a variety of wildlife advocates and users – including wildlife viewers, photographers and residents who simply value the knowledge that wildlife is management with committment for its perpetual enjoyment.
          For you or others who prefer non-consumptive enjoyment of your state wildife resources, this or similar mission statements serves your wildlife use preferences with equal responsibility.

          • avatar Salle says:

            For you or others who prefer non-consumptive enjoyment of your state wildife resources, this or similar mission statements serves your wildlife use preferences with equal responsibility.

            Nice try at the baffling with BS tactic but I would buy it with a wooden nickel… When you perceive wildlife as a “resource to be consumed (and, therefore, managed by humans who have a myopic view of the value of these living beings) there is a basic misunderstanding of the values that those who don’t kill for “sport” hold. You don’t get it, probably never will. If it wasn’t such a serious issue I’d be rolling on the floor laughing my ass off at your dogged attempts to justify your lack of this understanding. Unfortunately that is what it’s come to in this part of the planet… self appointed gods of the natural world for which you have no true respect. Can’t deny the obvious there. It’s a sad statement for our society and whatever else you call it when isolating yourself from the natural world for the sake of a pseudo-sport is more important that supporting the biosphere that makes it possible for people, even those like you, to live and breathe. This lack of respect and understanding of that which makes it possible for you to exist will bite you in the behind before long… Unfortunately you’ll be taking those of us who do understand and respect that which provides us with life support with you. Gee, thanks for nothing, sport.

          • avatar william huard says:

            Salle-
            If you inserted the words ROBUST, and SUSTAINABLE into your comments maybe IDFG could identify with you. People that view and treat everything that they come across as a commodity don’t get it- unfortunately.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Salle,
            I well understand that you and others share a view of wildlife that objects to the concepts of societal values of wildlife as a human resource. My comments, in part, respond to that fundamental mis-conception. As individuals, we are free (responsible) to base our personal actions on our personal values and according to the strictures and guidelines of the society we live in. For you, the good news is – you are free to conduct your personal choices/actions regarding wildlife according to your own value system. If your values dictate personal choices/actions towards non-consumptive oriented “uses” or a perspective of equal status and non-intervention between you and wildlife – you are free to do so. If you expect that somehow those values do or should apply to society – in this case for state wildlife management policy and programs – you are destined for disappointment. Wildlife has historically and will continue in the future – constitute an important public trust resource to be managed for the benefit of the public – humans.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Maska,
            I didn’t answer your question completely. Because wildlife management is and will continue to be the responsibility of each individual state in this country, the demographic trends you refer to will be variable across the country. We have seen profound changes in a number of states, based primarily on urban trends. There is a strong relationship between the percent of a state’s population residing in urban communities (“large” cities)- and support for traditional wildlife management principles and priorities (hunting/fishing/trapping). However, despite that well defined relationship, those changes ARE variable across states and Americans, as a society, remain strongly supportive of the hunting/fishing tradition, despite declining levels of personal participation. Personal participation is also a deceptive metric. Because many/most recent public surveys of the level of public paricipation in traditional hunting activities have looked narrowly at participation during the current or previous year – there has been a general over-estimate of hunting/fishing drop-out because a portion of those who report they did not hunt/fish this or the previous year have not abandoned hunting/fishing – they do so less frequently that a generation ago. Bottom line, for the forseeable future, hunting and fishing in North America is far from a dying trend. It is certainly changing and will continue to change. In western states like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, even Washington and Oregon – we can expect the hunting tradition to remain strong for generations, albeit with different public attitudes, desires and expectations. My main point in this thread is that the desire by some that humans stop viewing wildlife/nature as a selfish resource and “just learn to get along together” is a naive and ignorant mis-understanding or our role in nature or what would or could work for a philosophy to promote and improve wildlife conservation in the current and future world.

        • avatar Maska says:

          “Wildlife has historically and will continue in the future – constitute an important public trust resource to be managed for the benefit of the public – humans.”

          Mr. Gamblin, I’m just curious as to why, given recent human demographic trends in many states, particularly as relate to the percentage of younger people who regard hunting and other “consumptive uses” of wildlife as a preferred recreational activity, you believe that historically prevalent values will continue to guide wildlife management into the foreseeable future.

          By the way, I’m not trying to provoke an argument here, nor do I see the decline of interest in hunting and fishing in many places as necessarily a positive thing—just wondering what you think the effects are likely to be on states’ wildlife policies in 2015, 2020, and beyond.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Maska,
            My post on wildlife as a human resource was speaking much more broadly than hunting or other consumptive uses – with respect to the value of wildlife to society, as a resource. Wildlife are a resource in many ways, hunting included but not exclusively. Wildlife viewing and photography is a “use” of wildlife as is the simple satisfaction and gratification that many of us derive from the knowledge that wildlife are abundant and available for a variety of benefits/uses if we choose. My point was more to the reality that humans are no different than any other species in the ecosystem we live in. We exploit our environment for our survival and other selfish benefits. To suggest that humans can or should relate to wildlife in some altruistic, detached, democratic perspective is to mis-understand our ecological relationship to other species and our fundamental role in the environment we inhabit. It is neither wrong nor mis-guided to understand that wildlife are indeed an vitally important RESOURCE for the health and benefit of humans. Without that understanding, wildlife stands little chance of persisting in our future and we will face a grimmer and starker future without the presence of that resource wealth – materially and spiritually.

          • avatar JB says:

            “To suggest that humans can or should relate to wildlife in some altruistic, detached, democratic perspective is to mis-understand our ecological relationship to other species and our fundamental role in the environment we inhabit.”

            Mark: I found this statement to be curious? Isn’t a role of wildlife management to change the nature of our ecological relationship with wildlife such that we approach their conservation from a “detached, democratic perspective”?

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            JB –
            My comment spoke to an evolutionary/eoclogical perspective describing the natural, selfish strategy life (species) has/have evolved on our planet. Your statement (which I agree with) speaks to how we allocate our species selfish manipulation of our environment (other species, water, soil, fiber, etc.) within human society. One is inter-specific competition/exploitation; the other intra-specific optimal use of those exploited resources.

          • avatar JB says:

            I see; that makes much more sense!

  28. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    The problem with the opportunistic wholesale ( though quota’d) hunting of wolves is the disruption of the wolfpack social heirarchy. With dispersed lone wolves this isn’t much of an issue, but removing the alpha male or especially the alpha female from a pack is a prescription for creating more problem wolves and conflicts with livestock when younger ‘ uneducated’ wolves are left to fend. Especially in the smaller packs.

    Hunters just can’t wade into the wolf population and take X number of them and expect me to believe this is ” conservation “.

    Unlike any other hunted game species, INDIVIDUALS do matter when it comes to healthy populations of wolves. It’s not about the numbers… the social structure of wolf packs should be paramount when deciding which animals to ‘ conserve” , i.e. shoot.

    I don;t know how to do that. But I’m interested in hearing what Gamblin would say towards it.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      Cody Coyote –
      We went through the topic of social hierarchy and pack disruption in detail a few months ago. Don’t want to make incorrect assumptions about your concern here, but if you are suggesting that hunting, trapping and otherwise non-selective removal of wolves from a population (pack or packs) risks exacerbation of depredation problems or predation of deer/elk/moose etc. – there is simply no credible documentation of that theoretical problem. There have been speculative predictions without documented observations or other empirical evidence. Idaho experienced a 40+% REDUCTION in wolf depredation problems during and immediately following the 2009-2010 wolf hunt. Ma’iingan reported similar experiences in Wisconsin relative to wolf control actions there. For now, the absence of credible documentation of pack disruption exacerbating these conflicts – coupled with contradictory documentation – suggests that this theoretical probelem is a red herring.

      • avatar Jon Way says:

        Mark,
        You know that the western states could avoid most of this nightmare scenario if the 3 Rocky Mountain states each committed to 500 wolves which would roughly be what we have now. Then, yes, more people could agree on the robust phrase that you continue to use.

    • avatar Jon Way says:

      Cody,
      It is easy. State game agencies just ignore the fact that managing wolves is absolutely different than managing other “game”. They are social and they are predators. Aside from coyotes, there really aren’t any other species that I know of in North America that fits into that boat. And, of course, we know how coyotes are treated nationwide.

      So, when JB and my paper come out on “Additional Considerations of Wolf Mgmt” (forthcoming) state agencies will ignore it, and Mark G. and others will say it is irrelevant to their mgmt plans. But, you do ask a good question and failure of state agencies to listen to folks like us is why I predict that there will eventually be some type of federal control of managing at least wolves, and maybe other predators.

      • avatar Elk275 says:

        Jon Way

        ++But, you do ask a good question and failure of state agencies to listen to folks like us is why I predict that there will eventually be some type of federal control of managing at least wolves, and maybe other predators.++

        The way things are going in Washington it will be a cold day in hell before the Western Senators pass a bill giving the federal government control over coyotes. It ain’t going to happen.

        Why do coyotes need any federal control? There has always been coyotes. I have seen when every coyote was shot and two years later there was the same number of coyotes.

        • avatar Jon Way says:

          I was referring to wolves but the if the general public new the laws that were legal to control the robust coyote population they would be horrified (not just in Idaho but most of the US). And yes the western rednecks wouldn’t pass something like that. The eastern (and west coast) liberals would likely pass something for wolves or predators in general since they know better than the western senators that all of the US pays for the public lands that their constituents live in.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            Of course when I meant “the laws” I was really referring to the lack of laws since you can kill a coyote (and a wolf in WY soon) just about by any means possible…

            And new should be “knew” above.

        • avatar Mike says:

          Yeah, who cares how people treat coyotes.

          • avatar william huard says:

            Yeah, the coyote persecution is certainly robust

          • avatar jon says:

            Mark, I don’t think some on here would be surprised if Idaho fish and game resorted to using poison and denning wolves if they feel trapping and shooting isn’t controlling the wolf population enough.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        JonW –
        I’m looking forward to seeing your paper. Who is publishing it?

    • avatar Bob says:

      CC
      My local pack had both alpha’s removed last fall for repeated depredation wasn’t intended just a fact. The rest of the pack (4 members) were in the cow pasture all this summer and behaved and produced pups again. One instance for sure but like most arguments against hunting individuals don’t really matter unless your the individual.

  29. avatar IDhiker says:

    Mark Gamblin,

    When I asked you earlier how a trapper is able to release a large predator, such as a mountain lion, that has been accidentally trapped, I was serious.

    I am interested to know how this is done? I wouldn’t want to use a catch pole on something that large, or a blanket and gloves. What do they use?? Tranquilizers and a stick-syringe?

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Good question IDhiker. Given the hundreds of thousands of animals trapped each year (for profit) the ones that might be a problem to deal with, especially when still found alive.

      I know for a fact, that wolves have been caught in traps ment for coyotes in this area in the past.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      IDhiker –
      I need to check with my staff on specific recommendations. I will respond as soon as I can give you a thorough response.

  30. avatar IDhiker says:

    Bob,

    I used a catch-pole on a vicious black lab once, and could restrain him. But, I don’t think I could have released him from a strong trap which would require both hands, when I need two hands on the catch-pole. Especially when one considers that a cougar is a lot more animal than a domestic dog. Possibly step on the trap springs with the animal restrained by the pole?? But I’d think a lion would nail you with the free set of claws while trying that.

  31. avatar IDhiker says:

    Mark Gamblin,

    “This is off topic, but it should be understood that Idaho Fish and Game Commissoners donate a significant portion of personal lives for three to six years (depending on re-appointments)for essentially travel and per-diem expense re-imbursement. Commissioners are not paid on an hourly or salary basis for their public service.”

    I hereby volunteer to be a commissioner in Idaho, and Idaho can keep the per-diem! I am more than willing to donate the multitude of hours required. Sign me up, please.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      IDhiker –
      Move to Idaho, put a resume together and let the Governorn know that when there is a vacant Commissioner position open for your part of the state, and you too can be considered for this generally thankless put essential public service responsibility.

  32. avatar Twowolves says:

    It is very sad, that they claim wolves have recovered with only 1000 here, 400 there etc, when they once numbered in the Millions!! Its not the wolf that threw the environment out of balance, it is Man himself…. Even on RMEFS own webpage they claim that all animals once lived in Harmony, until the Europeans came to the US.
    Come help protect the wolves and sign our petitions. They seriously need everyone’s help! Especially when dealing with such a low IQ as the people that claim they have recovered….

  33. avatar Nancy says:

    +It is neither wrong nor mis-guided to understand that wildlife are indeed an vitally important RESOURCE for the health and benefit of humans. Without that understanding, wildlife stands little chance of persisting in our future and we will face a grimmer and starker future without the presence of that resource wealth – materially and spiritually+

    Mark – forgive me if I’ve asked you this question before but have you had the opportunity to sit and watch the documentary Earthings?

    I think there are more than a few of us on this site, IMHO, who consider ourselves just another species who share this planet with a lot of other species.

    Some species have adapted & adjusted well to their surroundings over time, without causing great harm to other species.

    Mankind seems to be the only species, that goes to great lengths to justify exploiting other species for, as you claim, material & spiritual gratification…… but honestly? Both those reasons are pretty pathetic when you think about it.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Sorry, ment to say Earthlings. Not a very popular video out here in the west.

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      Nancy,
      No, I haven’t seen it. I’ll look for it.
      Nope, there’s nothing pathetic about spiritual or material gratification being derived from other species. I do understand that the personal value systems of some reject, in a curiously contradictory rationale, the reality that the survival of all species absolutely depends on exploitation of fellow species. If you understand ecological principles and the true nature of inter-specific relationships, then you will understand that EVERY species on this planet uses and benefits from other species, in a dance of evolutionary fitness and persistence. All species exploit their environment and other species to derive the best advantage possible.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        +All species exploit their environment and other species to derive the best advantage possible+

        But not to the degree we’ve seen mankind go to lately, Mark.

        Hope you can find Earthlings. It was available to view on the internet, but the DVD is better if you don’t have high speed DSL.

        Most people find it very hard to get by the first 20 minutes or so because it deals with pet over population and mankind’s answers (and ignorance) to that ever growing problem.

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Nabeki –
          Not sure what your point is, with respect to the discussion topic.

          Hunters are an important part of the Idaho public – YES; Do other segments of the Idaho public (non-hunters included) benefit from Idaho wildlife management programs? – OF COURSE

          Wolves are a top predator – YES

          Is Idaho a giant game farm, in the sense that you and others imply/suggest? – NO

          Are wolves being managed for defined population levels to achieve a variety of beneficial wildlife objectives? – YES; Is there a credible “concern” for ecosystem trophic impacts as a result of wolf population management? – NO

          Is Idaho wildlife managment policy or programs threatening the genetic diversithy of wolves of other species? – NO

          With those points clarified – is there a point you want to make regarding the value of the wildlife resource to our society?

  34. avatar nabeki says:

    @Mark G.
    “Wildlife has historically and will continue in the future – constitute an important public trust resource to be managed for the benefit of the public – humans”

    Managed for the benefit of the public…hmmmm, that would be your customers over there at IDFG, namely hunters. And I’m sure the rancher barons are having a high time celebrating the pogrom conducted against wolves in Idaho.

    Are you even aware there are other people in the state you’re supposed to represent? You know, wildlife watchers, who enjoy viewing wolves in the wild, oh say like the Phantoms, who were decimated by WS or the Basin Butte Pack, also slaughtered by WS, during Thanksgiving week,back in 2009.

    IDFG is turning the state into a giant game farm. I guess you believe you’re better managers then predators who’ve been keeping ungulate herds healthy for hundreds of thousands of years. Here’s a good read:

    It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny
    Jan 2, 2009 7:00 PM EST
    Researchers see ‘evolution in reverse’ as hunters kill off prized animals with the biggest antlers and pelts.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/01/02/it-s-survival-of-the-weak-and-scrawny.html

    Predators are VITAL to a healthy ecosystem, they cull the weak,old and sick and yes sometimes healthy animals, because predators are opportunists BUT if you’re wolf, who’s in constant danger of getting laid out by a well placed elk kick, would you rather tackle, a bull elk in it’s prime or a sick cow elk?

    Eliminating top predators, like the wolf, allows mesopredators to fill the void, IE: coyotes, who aren’t so good at managing things.

    Loss Of Top Predators Causing Surge In Smaller Predators, Ecosystem Collapse
    ScienceDaily (Oct. 1, 2009)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091001164102.htm

    But by all means Mark, keep spinning. I’ll be busy monitoring the death of hundreds of wolves your state wants to slaughter over the next eight months..cause we can’t forget IDFG extended the wolf hunt in the Lolo and Selway all the way through June 2012, when wolves are rendezvousing with their pups. But then there won’t be many pups to rendezvous with, now will there? Or I’m guessing that’s what IDFG is hoping for.

    • avatar Bob says:

      nabeki
      Hunter can’t have a elk behind every tree and there shouldn’t be a wolf behind every other tree. Lazy wildlife viewers also need to get off their backside. As for wolves and sick elk winter always did a good job before, so who gets eaten next the young and dominant bulls tried from breeding “reverse evolution”. Seems your the one also spinning the bull.

  35. avatar Adolfo Nieto says:

    This has been and will continue to be a disgrace and in my “opinion” will continue to be dependent on the beliefs of the officials accepting or rejecting the laws and not on facts. Everyone has their opinions and is different but facts are facts : Mathematically take all the tags sold for deer, elk, moose, etc… and add them together for each one. Then take all the confirmed wolf kills for each one and add them together and then you can add 20% and still the number will not be close to what Hunters kill for sport. Common sense would confirm that we, humans, are killing off more game then actual predators who need to eat, granted there are some incidents where wolves may kill for sport but again, then numbers do not come close to what hunters kill off every year. Officials and hunters report the drop in herds every year but take responsibility for their own actions.

    As humans continue to expand and settle further into the wilderness, more animal life will continue to decrease in numbers and not only big game.

    Point is, wolves do not know the meaning of the dollar but humans do and this is said due to expansions for profits and selfishness. Selfishness in that we can always point the finger the other way and put blame on nature but nature has controlled itself for a long time without interference from humans.

    If you think about it, its like another species coming into existence which supersedes us and then this species selling tags to hunt humans. “Its not right !”

    Wolves should be put back on the endangered species list and protected.

    Remember what settlers did to the Indians when they first arrived to this country, almost genocide and we continue to do this with game.

    Again, its not right to only allow them to roam in protected areas like Yellowstone without the fears of having humans to destroy them !

    And for the record, for those thinking in their mind that I am a tree huger because I can guaranty I’m far from one but I do respect the right of endangered species.

  36. avatar Adolfo Nieto says:

    I apologize but mean “Hunters don’t take responsibility for their own actions” in my previous comment and not “take responsibility”

  37. avatar Iquel says:

    Ok, I’m just an 8th grade kid who doesn’t know anything, but i have been in love with wolves since i was three and saw a wolf puppy in a cage. I have seen pictures that other kids have brought to school of the wolves their dads killed or something. I almost threw up and I usually don’t. It’s stupid and wrong. That’s what i think.

  38. avatar jon says:

    I posted an article about Rick Hill’s plan to deal with wolves. For anyone Montanans on here, I would like to know your opinion on Rick Hill if you have one.

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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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