The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against the many wolf advocacy groups who held that Congressman Mike Simpson’s and Senator Jon Tester’s budget rider, which delisted wolves in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah, was unconstitutional.  The panel of judges upheld Judge Donald Mollloy’s ruling that the rider was constitutional.

Wolves will remain delisted unless their numbers drop below the minimum number of 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves identified in Idaho’s or Montana’s wolf management plans.  That may become increasingly difficult to prove if the rate of hunting and trapping success continues in Idaho.  The Idaho Fish and Game already projects that by the end of the month there will be only 577 wolves left in Idaho.  I don’t think this number accounts for unknown number of wolves killed illegally so it is likely high.  That means that the mortality rate for Idaho wolves was approximately 50% this year alone when you consider the mortality of the pups born to the approximately 750 wolves at the same time last year.

Idaho Fish and Game has proposed to implement even greater opportunity for hunting and trapping for next year’s season which could drop the population to 300 or so.  Unless the Idaho Fish and Game reduces wolf killing the following season, it is likely that it will be increasingly difficult for them to definitively show that there is the minimum number required to keep wolves from becoming relisted under the ESA.

If wolves happen to be relisted then the states face an even greater challenge because they would not be subject to the 10(j) rule and could not be considered an experimental, non-essential population.  That would mean that wolves could not be killed for killing livestock or any other reason except the unlikely event that they threaten human safety.  The states have little room for error.

9th Circuit Ruling

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

64 Responses to The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Wolf Rider.

  1. Salle says:


    • Savebears says:

      The most likely court in the nation to declare this unconstitutional rules with the congress and you are calling them sell outs, the only way this will ever be settled is in the halls of the Supreme Court and people will still complain.

      Molloy sided with Congress, basically the only time he has ever really ruled against wolves and now the 9th sides with those who write the laws and I suspect if it goes to the US Supreme court the outcome will be the same.

      Congress writes the laws, which means they also write the amendments to the laws.

      The States are on a thin line now, but they are still in control. There is no room for error, and with the recent passage in the Great lakes about hunting wolves, the next few years will be very interesting.

      I suspect it will be a long time or never again that wolves will be on the ESA in those states that have populations.

  2. cirque guy says:

    Disappointed but not at all surprised. Need to now deal with the jeopardy that exists for wolverine and lynx as the trapping season continues in their shared habitat with wolves.

  3. WM says:

    Plaintiffs likely knew this case was a loser from the start. That is why Defenders and the big national environmental groups stayed away (except the ever-foolish Center for Biological Diversity).

    Distasteful as it is to some, Judge Molloy made the only decision he could under the law and the Constitution. A three judge panel, of the most liberal federal intermediate appellate court in the entire country, unanamously affirmed it. The court easily cut through all the irrelevant crap the plaintiffs threw into the case.

    The saving grace, if there is any, is that FWS and ID/MT still need to follow the 2009 delisting rule, which means judicial review is still available under the substance of the rule, if it is not followed, and which could result in relisting if the rule/law is not followed. That aspect was/is lost to some on this forum. The states won’t likely screw this up, over the long run.

    • Savebears says:


      Some people just don’t like to realize, there really is an end of the line when it comes to things in this country, as long as the states keep within the rules, this is pretty much the end of the line, there is only one step further they can go. As we well know that could take many more years. The government wrote the rules, as long as the state sticks to them, even if at the minimum, they are following the rules..

      As long as things continue to go the way they do and the states continue to maintain the number required, wolves will never be relisted again. I don’t see a congressional rider to relist ever happening.

      • Mike says:

        Relisting has already been set in motion with the maniacal approach that Idaho has taken.

        It’ll just be a few years.

      • JB says:


        When enough people do not accept the end of the line, then lines get redrawn–i.e., laws get changed. I think Newton’s law of motion may apply to politics–for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It certainly seems to apply to wolves.

        • WM says:


          There are probably some pendulem physics problems mixed in there somewhere as well. In purest form air friction, nor mass of the bob wieght are considered worth noting. In the real world, however, …… maybe the hot air is problematic , and the arc amplitude swings wider and wider driven by hidden forces, or in this case gravity is likely money, and maybe the rod length increases, as well, decreasing the periodicity (as views become more polar, rather than seeking equilibrium).

          Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    • Mike says:

      ++ The states won’t likely screw this up, over the long run.++

      Are you familiar with a thing known as “history”?

      All of this nonsense is because the states can’t, and never could handle it. I predict the wolves back on the list in the NR within five years.

      • timz says:

        I don’t know Mike, look at our choices for the next 5 years. We’ll either have the same gutless wonder in charge or a right-wing looney.

        • Brian Ertz says:

          it ain’t about those at the top anymore – that accountability is lost. this ruling leaves few avenues for redress in the courts. that ant-hill has been scattered.

          this may be a positive development. it’s easy to have passion but justify keeping to the armchair while lawyers haul the water. we can’t do that anymore.

          people are organizing all over the world, country, even the west in order to express grievances ~ etc.

          it’s going to be up to us to regather, organize and bring the fire ~ it’s already happening …

          • Savebears says:

            And Brian,

            We know how effective that has been, not very, this blog is such a small part of what is going on, even those on this blog can’t organize. The voice is being lost in the wind!

            • JB says:

              I don’t know if I agree with you savebears; but on your pessimistic note, perhaps it is time to revive the wolf conference. Personally, I think it makes a lot more sense with wolves delisted than it ever did when they were listed.

            • Savebears says:


              All we have to do, is look at the history of this, we have a situation, that neither side is happy with. If the wolf re-introduction is going to be fully successful, both side have to change their point of view!

          • Rita K. Sharpe says:

            On that thought,I am going to go for a long walk,take it all in. I’ll watch the sun set over the feilds that are waiting to be planted,and listen to the birds,having their finale say of the day.

      • Paul says:


        Check out this site from Wisconsin:

        People are starting to organize and this group recently started. Be sure to send them a message in the “Contact Us” area.

      • Savebears says:


        I will take that bet, how much you got to spend?

  4. Alan says:

    So essentially this is the end of the Endangered Species Act as we knew it. Anytime a species on the list is inconvenient, just call up your Congressperson or Senator and have them attach an unrelated rider to some “must sign” bill. No judicial review, no scientific review. No more inconvenience. Will Yellowstone grizzlies be next? As many pointed out before the Constitutionality of this went to court, this is bigger than wolves. What other court cases will now be decided by rider? Gay rights? Contraception? Abortion? Civil rights? You get the right (wrong) President and the right (wrong) Congress, and boom! A rider quietly gets
    slapped on a budget bill and abortion is illegal; no judicial review, no floor debate. No vote on its own merits. This is very, very wrong and dangerous in my mind. This is likely not going to change, but this is not how it’s supposed to be.
    Regarding judicial options in the current case. The 2009 de-listing was written and approved based, at least in part, on the feds approving the management plans submitted by Idaho and Montana. Indeed, the lack of an adequate plan in Wyoming is what held up de-listing there. This would indicate that the plans submitted by Idaho and Montana were key to de-listing being approved. Would de-listing have been approved if, at the time, Idaho had its current plan of unlimited hunting? Nothing in the rider changed the 2009 rule, only re-issued it as written and approved. Worth asking a judge? I don’t know.

    • WM says:

      ++Would de-listing have been approved if, at the time, Idaho had its current plan of unlimited hunting?++

      Alan, I don’t think the ID plan is unlimited hunting. It is regulated, carefully for numbers and geographic areas.

      We may disagree with the number of wolves and where they are being taken, but it is squarely within the original approved plan, which have as requirements a minimum number of wolves as a goal and the requirement of genetic connectivity (which has been scientifically proven as of 2002, I believe). Which part of the approved plan do you think is not being met now, or in the near future?

      And, lets be clear, there is no Constitutional issue here, and there never was. Congress can make laws and it can change them; a bill rider is a permissible means, and has been used for quite sometime. How do you think all those porkbarrel projects get run thru Congress? The Court has no business snooping in that area.

      Some of the other areas you mention, do involve Constitional interpretation, and limitations on the federal government (legislative or executivebranches,) or states, to delve into various areas guaranteed under the Constition, and specifically the Bill of Rights. These are areas for the Court to become involved if issues are properly presented to it.

      As for the ESA itself, I really don’t think you want the House Committe on Natural Resources (Chaired by Doc Hastings R-WA) messing with the law, especially while these Tea Party hacks are around. And, there are D’s who are not too happy about some of the ESA wolf stuff, and if called on it would likely fold (reluctantly) to keep their seats.

      The view of some here is incredibly myopic.

      • Alan says:

        “Idaho wolf hunting rules don’t include quotas
        Ken Cole, July 8, 2011

        ….. The earlier commitment to maintain a number of 518 – 732 wolves has been completely abandoned.”
        No quota means unlimited to me. Sure, it’s limited and regulated in the sense that you need a license and there is a season (more than half the year); unless of course you claim that the wolf was threatening you, your cow, your horse, your dog, your pet hamster…then it doesn’t matter.
        All Idaho has to do is commit to maintaining minimum numbers. They have done that. Perhaps that would have been enough to get their management plan approved. It wasn’t for Wyoming, but who knows. There were differences.
        The following are quotes from the 2009 rule:
        “We and our State partners recognize that all wildlife populations, including wolves, can fluctuate widely over a relatively short period of time. By managing for at least 50 percent above the minimal recovery levels, and likely for over one thousand wolves, State and Federal management provide an adequate safety margin. ”
        “Idaho maintains its commitment to manage their share of the wolf population well above minimum recovery levels.”
        “We recognize that States can alter their regulatory framework after we issue a final delisting rule.Therefore, per our post-delisting monitoring requirements, we will initiate a status review to determine if relisting is warranted if States alter their State laws OR management objectives in a manner that significantly increases the threat to the wolf population.”
        There are other examples.
        Legally all Idaho or Montana has to do is maintain numbers above minimums; but clearly these other issues were considered prior to final approval of the 2009 rule. Is there anything in there that might cause a judge to say that Idaho is currently not in compliance? I’m not a lawyer; and unlike some, I don’t even play one on the internet. Do no quota hunting, sss and aerial gunning “significantly increase(s) the threat to the wolf population.”? Don’t know.
        Two things I do know: 1)We have all read the epitaph of judicial options before, and we were wrong; and 2) You can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere, high priced lawyers are looking at all the options. As Ken wrote above, “The states have little room for error.”
        There was always a clear path to de-listing. The states, (particularly Wyoming), and, in some cases, the feds themselves, refused to follow it. As is so often the case in this country, we again reward bad behavior.
        All the groups that continually sued wanted was for the law to be followed as written. For proper protections, post de-listing, to be in place. They are being proved right, BTW, in their concern. Everything they predicted is coming to pass.
        It is always right to fight the good fight. You cannot shrink from it in fear of what might happen.
        As Yogi Berra said, “You’re never out of it until you’re out of it!” Are we out of it? Probably. But I wouldn’t bet the farm. Not yet.

  5. Dan says:

    In some ways I feel for the people of this thread. Wolves are your passion which is commendable. However, your overzealous lust for an undisturbed wolf population lead to your current predicament. I correctly predicted 4 years ago the wolf would be the undoing of ESA. Despite JB’s effort to explain there was good faith collaboration and compromise, there really wasn’t. From the onset of the rapid growth of the wolf numbers the people behind the wolves would not relent to the fact that wolves where responsible for to much predation on elk and livestock. By not allowing for responsible population controls you cost the American gray wolf numbers and range. Now, the feds are completely washing their hands of the whole deal and you have no one to blame except yourselves.

    • Savebears says:

      It simply comes down to your range of view, short sighted, or long sighted. I believe the wolf movement has been very short sighted over the last 20 years.

      • Immer Treue says:


        Short sighted in the fact that the wolf movement ran against 300 years of myth, in this country alone.

        Short sighted in the fact that it never had the chance of sustaining itself against the financial clout of hunting and ranching lobbies.

        Short sighted in that no one could predict in 95 the recession in which we now find ourselves where people are more concerned about how to live from one day to the next rather than continue a “social crusade” to aid an animal that has been unjustly persecuted through the centuries.

        Short sighted in the fact that a republican party in particular and democratic party in general have lost contact with the people of this country on whose backs the greatness of this country was formed, and they now have the masses fighting over scraps.

        I digress. I knew in 95 and 00 that wolves would need management/control, and that it has been too long in coming. Short sighted, perhaps a bit. Out-funded, out-shouted, outwitted, out-lied. Yeah.

        • Savebears says:


          Much of what you say is pretty much true, but a battle of this nature, takes all of your pins in a row, I am in the middle as I have said many times and watching the short sightedness of both sides has in reality been pathetic on this issue.

          The wolves didn’t loose anything, the pro wolf side lost a big one today, and I suspect it will change the way things go in the future. When it comes down to it, the pro wolf side has no one other than themselves to blame.

          Going to court in this climate, is a sure way to be disappointed..I speak from experience, it does not matter if your right, it matters what you can prove.

          • Mike says:

            ++When it comes down to it, the pro wolf side has no one other than themselves to blame.++

            The pro-wolfers did not kill off the wolves to the point they had to be put on the ESA. Let’s not lose sight of the truth here in some murky backwoods fantasy.

            • Savebears says:


              We are not talking about what happened in the past, we are talking about what is happening now, What has happened is done, pull your head out and watch what is going on now, you yearn for what has been, it is not going to happen again, the past is over, the present is what is important.

            • Mike says:


              We are not talking about what happened in the past, we are talking about what is happening now, What has happened is done, pull your head out and watch what is going on now, you yearn for what has been, it is not going to happen again, the past is over, the present is what is important.++

              You lack context. The mess we’re in now is caused directly by the state’s inability to handle wolves.

              Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have enjoyed using this as a political issue to distract from more important matters. They’ve “fired up the troops” and used the wolf as a boogeyman (EI “the damn feds” and ESA takin’ way yer’ rights, etc). But now there’s no fed control here. It’s all the states, and the wingnut politician desperately want to keep this issue in the forefront because it’s been so helpful to them. So we’ll see wackier and wackier legislation to do just that, and of course this will end up getting the wolf relisted.

              You fail to understand the basic context of all of this, SB. The wolf was killed off in the Rockies because the states went nuts. They are doing it again. The wolves will be back on the list within five years.

    • JB says:

      Correction, Dan: I never said there was any “good faith” effort at collaboration–though a few compromises were definitely made to get wolves on the ground (the biggest being the experimental non-essential (10j) status. As I’ve tried to explain (seemingly unsuccessfully), collaboration has played a very small part in wolf management in the NRMs (in Utah, and to some extent Montana). This is no surprise because collaborative processes are not appropriate under the ESA because once listed the law does not provide adequate decision space for stakeholder/participants.

      What constitutes “responsible population controls” is up for debate. Gray wolves were HEAVILY managed by FWS/WS when listed to prevent conflicts with livestock. However, they were not managed to reduce their populations–as states would have liked. Frankly, whether wolves ever needed any population control (beyond conflict prevention) in the northern Rockies is a matter of intense debate.

      Finally, I would add that a strong argument could be made that by preventing delisting proponents of wolves actually helped extend their range (into Washington and Oregon); which arguably wouldn’t have happened had delisting occurred earlier and states moved to manage wolves back down to the ESA-allowed minimums. This argument is bolstered by the FWS’s new interpretation of the phrase “significant portion of its range”, which, like the failed 2007 Solicitor’s Opinion, would exclude “historic range” from any listing analysis (making future reintroduction/recovery efforts even less likely).

    • Mike says:

      Dan –

      It’s not anyone’s fault but those who shot and slaughtered the wolves out of the rocky mountains.

  6. Immer Treue says:


    Now, the feds are completely washing their hands of the whole deal and you have no one to blame except yourselves.

    When making blanket accusations, such as you have just made, you’re just wrong, plain and simple. There are many on this “thread” who held their collective breath when Malloy made his decision to stay the 2010 hunt. Your comment also smacks of schadenfreude.

    Perhaps the pro-wolf crowd also made the mistake of trying to stay relatively sober and appropriate with how they dealt with the anti’s. I have attempted to be civil in my discourse, with the occasional lapse, but where has that gotten me in your mind’s eye? If this is a battle, those who threw tantrums now have the upper hand, but it ain’t over. Veiled comments such as yours do nothing more but create more resolve.

    • Savebears says:


      Unless you are ready to take to the highest court in the land, the party is pretty much over, as long as the states maintain the minimum there is no reason to relist. The rules on this have been set, they have been met and now the courts have spoken, as I said earlier, I suspect the Supreme court would rule the same. It is time to change how we approach this.

      • Immer Treue says:


        “It is time to change how we approach this.”

        I agree.

        • Savebears says:

          But it begs the question?

          Will anyone change the way we approach this? I am not sure anyone will.

        • Immer Treue says:

          “It is time to change how we approach this.”

          The only way this is going to come about is money and organization. A few months back this was a rather hot topic on this blog.

          There are many small groups throughout the country, but no central organization, financial backing or focus. Until there are dues paying organizations along the lines of NRA, SCI, etc it will be tough.

          And I’ll reinforce my stand, as a pro-wolf individual, I am not anti-wolf management.

          • Savebears says:


            After over 20 years, you would think that all of these little groups would have organized? To be honest with you, where we are at in this country, I don’t think I will ever see a dues paying organization in favor of wolves or any other wildlife.

            Now we can keep this up, to no avail, the courts have ruled today and I suspect it will be a long time before it really comes up again..

      • JB says:


        You’re oversimplifying this from a legal perspective. The population recovery goals are may be triggers for relisting, but that isn’t the only route. Idaho’s recently defeated shoot-on-site law would’ve taken population control out of the hands of IDF&G, thus rendering the regulatory mechanisms preventing localized extinction inadequate. Had this law passed, and someone petitioned for relisting, wolves in the NRMs probably would’ve been back on the list. Likewise the Wisconsin legislatures antics are taking them dangerously close to relisting.

        With that said, I agree that the chances of relisting are remote, unless one of the state legislatures tries to turn this into a states’ rights issue (not out of the realm of possibility).

        • Savebears says:


          I am going to strongly disagree that I am oversimplifying anything, you look at this from a completely different perspective than I do, I worked for one of the agencies that is now in control, it gave me a very enlightened position on what is really going on, which many on this blog have done nothing but ridicule.

          • JB says:


            If wolves get relisted, it won’t be because of agencies. It will be because legislators can’t seem to resist trying to keep this issue in the forefront. Now that they can no longer rail against the unfairness of the ESA and the heavy handedness of the federal govt., the only way to keep the issue in the forefront is to pass silly legislation–like that proposed in Idaho. If (when?) something like that were to pass, watch for the relisting petition and ensuing court battles. As I said, by focusing only on agencies you’re missing the bigger picture: agencies’ power over wildlife emanates from state governments, which, in the case of Idaho, is filled with some real nuts.

    • Dan says:

      I get blown up on here all the time and I’m a democrat and think of myself as a common sense conservationist….and currently vigorously pushing an effort to stop the IDFG from a rules change that would imperil a wild cutthroat population…my message was plain, simple and to the point – quit being so bullheaded when dealing with the other side because bad things will happen…

      P.S. this is my pitch for the wild cutthroat population

      The St. Joe River Drainage Wild Cutthroat Trout Population is in danger. After decades of successful protections that combined conservation ideals with good sense angling rules (catch-and-release), the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is proposing to eliminate the rules that have made the St. Joe River Drainage a great fishery. The St. Joe River has one of the very best wild cutthroat populations in the U.S.
      Wild cutthroat are very eager to bite angler’s offerings because they inhabit river habitats that in fishery manager’s terms are “unproductive.” These unproductive waters do not produce the abundant food sources that produce endless quantities of fish.
      The St. Joe River is a very easy river to access. It is only 2 hours from the Spokane/Coeur’d Alene area that is home to several hundred thousands of people. The St. Joe has a paved highway the majority of its length.
      Combining the unproductive nature of the St. Joe with the amount of people that can easily access the river and allowing catch-and-keep angling is an equation for destroying decades of conservation. The St. Joe River can continue to be a premier wild cutthroat fishery, but the conservation efforts of catch-and-release fishing need to be in place in order to maintain this distinction. Please go to the IDFG website and fill out their survey to stop this near-sighted proposal or plan to attend one of the three public comment meetings listed on the IDFG website.

    • JEFF E says:

      And as long as the states are the ones doing the “official” counting, that count will never go below the minimum.

      • Savebears says:


        You and I rarely agree, but at least you understand..

      • Ralph Maughan says:

        Jeff E,

        In Idaho the counting is still done by the Nez Perce tribal folks, I believe.

        • IDhiker says:

          I would hope so.

        • WM says:


          Have you any philosophical musings to share about where things are now and where they are likely to go with the wolf delisting, now that this legal matter is behind us?

        • JEFF E says:

          any credible entity such as the tribe would certainly be a step up.

          don’t look for Clem to hold still for that for very long.

  7. jon says:

    Aren’t there other ways the wolves could re listed even if they don’t bring the wolf numbers down to 150 or 100? Montana for instance, a lot of hunters and ranchers want a shoot on sight season for wolves all year round. If Montana fwp allowed this, could wolves be relisted even if the wolf #s aren’t brought down to 100-150 wolves?

  8. CodyCoyote says:

    I’m not exactly sure why anti-wolf mouthpiece Toby Bridges put me on his mailing list yesterday as he was corresponding with Montana gubernatorial candidate and fellow wolf hater Bob Fanning, but he did.

    So I figure if Old Toby wants me to see his rabidinous spittle, I can share it , too. ( below)

    [ By the way , Toby shares something in common with Rush Limbaugh …they both call the Cape Girardeau Missouri area their home town. For what that is worth ]


    “ is now our side’s turn to take the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court for their violations of state’s rights…violations of their own rules and regulations…and for violating the Endangered Species Act itself…and to let all involved in this crime know right up front that we’re going to hold each and everyone of them responsible and accountable.

    It’s also time to send a few NGO’s packing. In short, now that the tide has turned, it’s time to send this trash floating out to sea. ”

    ” On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 2:42 PM, Robert Fanning wrote:

    Yep, now that all the dillatory tactics from the Marxist Progressives have been exhausted over 9 years with a compounded growth rate of 30% and a cost of carry of about 500,000 elk we have a glorious victory . A word “delisted”.

    We could have invoked state interposition { aka nullification } declared the whole thing an unconstitutional scam by an unconstitutional agency, violating their own “Act” that existed on an expired “Act” and killed any wolf that came out of YNP commencing in 1996.

    Now what are we going to “DO” about it a decade too late? ”

    “You bet Bob…

    The radical environmentalists and their partners in crime within USFWS and the DOI, state government, state universities, and state wildlife agencies have literally crapped in their nests, and they have alienated millions of sportsmen across this country – and here in the Northern Rockies we’re ready to attack in retaliation. It’s already happening in Montana and next door in Idaho. County boards of commissioners have lost all faith in Governors…and game departments…and are beginning to draft their own predator policies – county by county. Likewise, those politicians who have paved the way for groups like Defenders of Wildlife or the Center for Biological Diversity to stall predator management…and to profit from the disaster these phony “environmental” organizations have helped create need to update their resumes right now…a snow ball lasting in Hell has a better chance than they do at getting elected or re-elected in this part of the country. And that sentiment is spreading quickly into the Upper Midwest.

    These groups…these paid off politician…and radical greenie agenda driven “new wave” wildlife managers are already feeling the wrath of sportsmen…like the butt kicking MT FWP literally got at the Environmental Quality Council meeting in Helena last Thursday. The only friendly testimony made in their behalf last week came from Ben Lamb, the FWP brown nosing mouthpiece for the phony Montana Wildlife Federation.

    Payback will indeed be a bitch for those who caused or condoned the destruction of the past 75 years of wildlife conservation here in Western Montana.

    Now…it’s time to get some control on the number of grizzly bears in this state. Rest assured…both FWP and USFWS are lying out their asses about how many of the bears are here. One FWP wildlife manager admitted last fall that there were “more than” 1,000 of the bears in Region 1 alone. What’s your guess 2,000 or 2,500 here now?

    (s) Toby ”

    Well, it is the Ides of March , after all…..

    • Mike says:

      Wow. Comedy at its worst.

      • Daniel Berg says:

        Here’s to hoping fools like these two are kept out of positions of influence. It scares me to think of the damage people like this could do to our country if they had the chance. I think Bob would find it a whole lot easier to engage in that kind of conversation with a pool cue in one hand and a PBR in the other than actually having to be accountable to the people of an entire state for all the responsibilities relating to the governorship.

    • CodyCoyote says:

      oh by the way …all this discourse between Toby and Bob Fanning was also CC’s to mt Gov. Brian Schweitzer , ID Gov. Otter, IDFG Director Virgil Moore, and a whole bunch of Dept . of Interior and Montana FWP agency heads, plus many others.

      So I have no qualms about putting it out here. Don;t shoot the messenger. (= me, over in the corner, rolled up in a ball , laughing …)

      • Mike says:

        This ferocious anti-predator mentality that is brought almost 100% by hunters needs to be addressed.

        At this point, one can only assume it’s very good for wildlife that hunter numbers are plummeting. The paradigm is changing. The future actually looks brighter in regards to species as long as this reduction continues. Perhaps one day we can look forward to wildlife management based on science rather than industry and emotion.

        The ignorance displayed buy this community (go to any hunting/fishing blog/site and you’ll see it) towards species diversity and land issues is shocking.

  9. Louise Kane says:

    The ranting of these lunatics is not funny, its serious. These freaks have guns and they use them on wildlife. They hate unconditionally. It chilling to hear them talk about grizzlies being next.. to think of them taking their wrath out on wolves, coyotes and anything that they irrationally hate. These people are crazy. A great argument to restrict firearms, and for gun control.

    On another note, To Dan who said….”From the onset of the rapid growth of the wolf numbers the people behind the wolves would not relent to the fact that wolves where responsible for to much predation on elk and livestock. By not allowing for responsible population controls you cost the American gray wolf numbers and range.”

    This kind of statement is absurd. What rapid growth of wolves? 66 wolves were introduced into Yellowstone over 17 years ago and it took that long for their population to rise to about 1700 in all three states. 17 YEARS, that is about 100 wolves per year over three huge states. That’s not an out of control population or rapid growth. And that growth occurred without hunting. Granted there were some predator control efforts but still that growth is not rapid or out of control.

    Part of the problem with wolves is that we have been duped into arguing about absurdities like 1700 wolves being a great success story especially in a region where little has been done to address human threats related to ignorance, fear and ingrained bias. Wolves were on the road to success. But, a success story would have been to allow the wolves to reach a number where they became self limiting like in Minnesota. Its laughable to call 1700 of anything in a wilderness like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming as a success story where bears, mountain lions and elk number in the tens and hundreds of thousands but wolves can only be allowed a population of 300 and will be hunted down to this number and kept there. This is certainly not a success story. To hunt animals down to 100 or 10 breeding pairs is unscientific, unsustainable, and is not remotely logical, humane or reasonable. To read the reports and watch as the states ready to ramp up the killing again next year is heartbreaking. There is nothing successful in this story.

    Wolves were compromised from the start whenever the number 300 for the Rocky Mountain population was agreed to as a recovery goal. Its astounding to think that 300 of any animal in the only real wilderness areas that we have left in the US can be used as a rational target number of a population of animals that were driven to extinction. The absurdity of it is that people blame conservationists for for attempting to maintain the measly ESA protections they had. There was never any reason to believe the states would manage responsibly, and they are proving that.

    As Brian notes, wildlife supporters are fed up. Laws need to be changed. If a rider can be inserted to remove wolves from the ESA then one can be written to put them back onto it. The ESA needs work to ensure that the definition of threats to the recovery of a species include hate and bias and human behavior that undermine a species recovery. And get that ridiculous unscientific number of 300 as a target recovery changed. The OPA was amended to phase in double hulls of tankers to prevent oil spills, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended to add a provision to protect essential fish habitat…Both of these acts were amended despite extremely powerful lobbying groups pushing to prevent the provisions. Its time to amend the ESA and to work for a national predator protection act.

    As for the conservation groups causing the wolf issue, the state plans that were submitted for delisting were woefully inadequate for any meaningful recovery and the NGOs rightfully recognized this. I may not always agree with strategies of some of the NGOs but I count on them to act as watchdogs and to use the legal system to fight for wolves. No one else is doing it.

    No one has a right to complain about wildlife management policy unless you are committed to taking some action. I am disgusted by what is happening and I don’t expect anyone to fix the problem because I bitch about it. I am expecting to have to work for change, contribute money and time.

    • WM says:


      ++What rapid growth of wolves? 66 wolves were introduced into Yellowstone over 17 years ago and it took that long for their population to rise to about 1700 in all three states. 17 YEARS, that is about 100 wolves per year over three huge states. ++

      Actually about half of those 66 wolves were released in Central ID, not Yellowstone.

      I know facts are not your strong suit, Loise, based on some of your earlier posts (one of which I challenged you on regarding your assertion of a ridiculously low total number of livestock killed in MN over the years, if I recall, and linked you to authoritative source documents).

      You might want to consider that the net increase in wolves would be dramatically higher over those 17 years if, for example, the states had not killed problem wolves, there had not been a brief hunting control action in WY a few years back; there had not been a hunting season in ID and MT in 2008, and again hunting, with trapping in 2011-12.

      We can disagree about the numbers and whether there should be more on the landscape and in broader range, but you surely cannot assert the gross, and even the net, population increase is anything short of phenomenal, based on wolves’ incredibly high reproductive capability. And, the cost to keep more on the landscape will increase as wolf population increases. That is part of the problem, some you folks in the East (I believe that is where you are located), choose not to understand.

      This from the most recent, 2011 Annual report from US Fish Wildlife Service (released a couple weeks ago):

      ++Private and state agencies paid $309,553 in compensation for wolf-damage to livestock in 2011. Confirmed cattle death losses in 2011 (193) were virtually the same as in 2010 (199). Confirmed sheep losses in 2011(162) were lower than in 2010 (245). In 2011, 166 depredating wolves were lethally removed by agency control, which includes legal take in defense of property by private citizens. During the year, MT removed 64 wolves by agency control and harvested 121 wolves during their hunting season; ID removed 63 wolves by agency control and harvested 200 wolves through regulated public hunting and trapping; and in WY, 37 wolves were removed by agency control. In OR, 2 wolves were removed by agency control….++

      The stated pattern of removing wolves by control actions has been repeated year after year since reintroduction. The numbers when totaled would seem to be pretty large.

      And, based on what the FWS experts say, at the time the conservative population of 1,700 was estimated, the true population was as much as 20% higher, or about 2,000.

      May I suggest you spend some time looking at the documents on the FWS Western Wolf Recovery website. Or is it just a whole bunch easier to rant with lack of knowledge and poor analytical skills, just like the strident (and also over the top) anti-wolfers Cody Coyote mentions above?

  10. JEFF E says:

    U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy did not mince words in a ruling…… that upheld congressional authority to delist the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

    “If I were not constrained by what I believe is binding precedent from the Ninth Circuit, and on-point precedent from other circuits, I would hold Section 1713 is unconstitutional because it violates the Separation of Powers doctrine,” Molloy said in his order……..
    He called the rider “a tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”(are you listening Simpson and Tester, you POS livestock industry water-carriers.)

    ……. The rider “sacrifices the spirit of the ESA to appease a vocal political faction, but the wisdom of that choice is not now before this Court.”

    and the ninth did the politically expedient rather than the morally correct

  11. Louise Kane says:

    To WM who said”
    Actually about half of those 66 wolves were released in Central ID, not Yellowstone.

    I know facts are not your strong suit, Loise, based on some of your earlier posts (one of which I challenged you on regarding your assertion of a ridiculously low total number of livestock killed in MN over the years, if I recall, and linked you to authoritative source documents).

    You might want to consider that the net increase in wolves would be dramatically higher over those 17 years if, for example, the states had not killed problem wolves, there had not been a brief hunting control action in WY a few years back; there had not been a hunting season in ID and MT in 2008, and again hunting, with trapping in 2011-12.

    We can disagree about the numbers and whether there should be more on the landscape and in broader range, but you surely cannot assert the gross, and even the net, population increase is anything short of phenomenal, based on wolves’ incredibly high reproductive capability. And, the cost to keep more on the landscape will increase as wolf population increases. That is part of the problem, some you folks in the East (I believe that is where you are located), choose not to understand.

    TO WM
    I understood that wolves were dispersed into different regions and I guess I should have explicitly said “over the Yellowstone region including Idaho”. My point being that your rant illustrates some of the absurdity of the arguments that surround wolves. Were there 750 wolves in Idaho before the hunts or was it a hundred less or a couple hundred more? Does the Nez Perce tribe have the most accurate data or is it the state or feds?

    My point is that that we have allowed the bar to be set so low when it comes to recovery for wolves that people can now argue oh “wow look how well they have done. They have far exceeded the 10 breeding pairs allowed by law. Its such a phenomenal success, now we can kill more”.

    Its not like wolves have overpopulated like bunnies. They were doing well occupying an ecological niche that they should have occupied for many years. Its going to be hard to fool most people (even with the smokescreens about phenomenal populations and success) into thinking that killing all but 300 – 450 wolves in your states is a big success story. Maybe I don’t live in the west but I know bad policy when I see it. The argument with resource extractors is similar whether its in fisheries, farming or ranching. Any organism that competes for space or food must go. They are costing us money.

    Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are huge states. Idaho is the size of New England, Montana the 4th largest state in the US and Wyoming houses Yellowstone. To argue that a population of animals roaming these states that numbered, pre hunting, between 1200 to 2000 (depending on who you believe) is a strain on the states, then then that is disturbing.

    The state plans do not look to just target problem wolves they allow and promote the annihilation of all wolves regardless of size, age, sex, or how the killing will affect pack structure. These plans to seek to keep wolves at unsustainable and unhealthy populations with no relief ever from hunting, harrassement and/or poaching. The methods the plans allow for killing are inhumane.

    If, as you argue that people in the east, choose to ignore the effects of an overpopulation of wolves its probably because we have a hard time believing that such a low number of animals presents the dire threat to your culture, livelihoods and safety that you keep screaming about. Stop nitpicking about silly things like whether 66 wolves were introduced into Yellowstone or the region… and I did state in my earlier posts that there had been a number of wolves killed for depredation control, and I acknowledged that. Please reread that. I am always happy to learn when I have made a mistake and to acknowledge that.

    Wolves are being mismanaged, slaughtered, and your states are acting irresponsibly. Its easy enough to see whether you live in the East or the West. I do not choose to ignore that there is a cost to having wolves in the west, because there are depredations. I would gladly pay a higher tax or more money to maintain healthier populations of wildlife. What your states are trying to pass off for responsible management is is too high a cost to the rest of us.

    • Brian Ertz says:

      @Louise Kane,

      There is a fundamental difference in values and constitution of character that exists. It has very little to do with what is ‘right’ or reason in that regard.

      Personally, I am among those that believe, and continue to fight such that wolves should play a meaningful role in their ecological communities – in the wild. That’s what’s ‘right’ more than a token population alienated from the context of their rightful place. That’s the standard and it’s worth fighting for. There are plenty of avenues to pursue in this regard, and we will continue to do so.

      Folk like WM are among those that believe Butch Otter et all have a better idea, and that whether the numbers and reasons that they state are factual or not – they deliver them with enough anger and amplitude that it’s best to just let them have what they want to avoid controversy, which – more than reason or what’s ‘right’ – dictates for folk like WM what ought determine the level of wolves’ presence on the landscape. A token population largely alienated from their wild context is enough – even too much – and it feels good to “MANage” ~ be in control ~ of that.

      It has more to do with the presence or lack of conviction, backbone, and appreciation for the wild, on its own terms – combined with an abiding willingness to play arm-chair quarterback.

      Don’t take it too seriously. It will always be there whispering nay-saying reasons into your ear about how you can’t and shouldn’t ~ discouraging you from acting for what is right and good. It takes false validation in the inertia of the status quo ~ in the slow pace of progress ~ ignore it.

    • WM says:


      If you look carefully at my statement, part of which you quote above, it was largely factual, and not even close to a “rant.” You will find the content mostly simple declaratory sentences, occasionally with bad grammar (apologies for that). I find that when posting here if a view opposes polarized wolf advocates, no matter how even minded, supported by scientific source material, law, common sense or even a position taken by the agencies empowered by federal or state statute to enforce the law as they see it, it is perceived as a rant. On the other hand, when I rant -and I sometimes do- you will know by the tone, punctuation, and sometimes even (to my own guilty dismay) coarse language.

      I am going to generalize in the following paragraphs and not cover all the nuances, so you may find lots of area to disagree. So, just read for general context.

      So, let’s start with your “these are big states” assertion. Granted they are, but not all of the land areas in any of them are occupied by prey in suitable numbers. That is an important concept. Wolves will be where the prey are. Mostly wolves in the NRM prefer elk (moreso than deer, which is the preference of the Western Great Lakes wolves), and there is limited habitat forest and winter range for the elk (they are no longer a plains animal as many once were). So that cuts out alot of the land areas (For example, have you ever actually been to WY, and noticed that most of the state, except the GYE, the lower elevations of the Wind River Range, and the Medicine Bow in the southern part of the state is pretty darn inhospitable to most ungulates in any number, especially elk?). The same is true for much of eastern MT, and SE ID. Elsewhere, in more hospitable habitat, cattle and sheep are raised in the valleys and low forested hills on private lands and on leased public grazing lands. Hunters on public and private land hunt the elk and deer that are available, which is a huge social conflict generally opposing a larger wolf population.

      Wolves, as you probably have learned, will seek the easiest meal at the least risk to itself and least caloric expenditure. Wolves eat more than the old, the sick and the injured. They like young elk calves, and they eat rut depleted mature herd bulls. That can mess with herd dynamics in local elk populations, as the state wildlife agencies will tell you as they try to manage a species which is hunted. It gets alot more complicated with wolves on the landscape. There is alot of study going on to try to understand these complicated relationships. And, then there are the depredating wolves that like cattle and sheep.

      And, without repeating what has been said on this forum several times, if wolves are such a great thing, do tell why is no Western state stepping forward to take ID or MT excess wolves, they feel necessary to kill? ID has even offered, several years ago, to give any state who wants wolves as many as they want. The governor, in fact, wrote to every other state making such an offer. It would not be much different than the process by which ID and WY got theirs. Tranquilize a few (selecting to assure good genetic mix), and translocate away from the area where they are not wanted to a new area.

      Do recall, the ESA goal here is to keep a species from extinction. NRM wolves (and WGL wolves) are far from it. Their numbers in support of healthy ecosystems is yet another matter, and not entirely reconcilable with the legal obligation under the ESA, especially considering the provisions which require cooperation with the states.

      If you really want more wolves in the West, how about you lobby Colorado, UT, WA, OR and CA; and then NM, AZ NV, and southern CO, for the Mexican wolves? In the process ask why that is a difficult task, and why they don’t want them so much. Also, listen closely to the answers, if they have the candor to provide you one. You will learn alot, especially when it comes time for a Congressional vote to maybe change the ESA. I, for one, am not so inclined to risk that in this political climate, because I think it will be weakened, rather than strengthened it.


      And for my exchanges with Brian E., whom I like for the most part and who reminds me of myself when I was younger, over the past months, he has finally learned the difference between “substantive” and “procedural” legal due process, among other topics we have discussed. LOL.

      Not sure where you get the “anger” language Brian, and I despise Butch nearly as much as you. That much should be clear. I have said on this forum numerous times I would like to see ID manage for about 500 +/- wolves, consistent with the 2008 plan, and find what they are doing now dispicable, like many here.

  12. Louise Kane says:

    To Wm,
    I suggest you do some reading on the arbitrary nature of setting the recovery goals for wolves and while you are quoting facts about wolf depredations look at those depredations in comparison to other causes of mortality for livestock. here is a good place to start although there are numerous others peer reviewed publications
    The USFWS and the state governments use unreliable data and are politically motivated. Salazaar is the quintisential fox in the hen house. One of Obama’s worst appointments.
    The Northern Rocky Mountain
    Gray Wolf Is Not Yet Recovered

    • WM says:


      I read the article when it came out, and it was discussed on this very forum. It was a politically motivated piece in itself, and unless I am mistaken there is not one wolf biologist among the cited authors.

      • WM says:

        And, I should also say the vonHoldt research which is cited to support the authors’ premise, has since been refuted by vonHoldt and some of the wolf biologists at YNP including Dan Stahler. This was a big deal.

        B vonHoldt, D Stahler, J Pollinger, et al. (2010) A novel assessment of population
        structure and gene flow in gray wolf populations of the Northern Rocky Mountains
        of the United States. Molecular Ecology 19, 4412-4427.


March 2012


‎"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