The Wildlife News has finally obtained all of the records of documented mortality for wolves from April 1, 2011 up to April 1, 2012. This information tells a grim story about what the toll of handing over management to the State of Idaho has been on the Idaho wolf population.  All told, based on some estimates made using the data, under state management, 721 wolves, or 59% of the wolves, were killed in the year running from April, 2011 – April, 2012.  Even if you use only documented mortality, without estimating additional, unreported illegal take or other causes of mortality, then 492 wolves, or 48% of the wolves, in Idaho were killed.

I have made previous, and very similar posts based on preliminary information but this post is based on all of the wolf mortality information that the Idaho Fish and Game has for the period of time.  The information contains critical information about the number of wolves killed which had radio collars. Using the official estimate of 746 on December 31, 2011 as a benchmark I was able to make some educated guesses about the full extent of undocumented mortality.

Using only the documented mortality it appears that,  at the beginning of April, 2011 when pups were born, there were 1030 wolves and by the same time this year, before pups were born, there were 539 wolves in Idaho.

Undoubtedly there was more undocumented mortality than what is reported here.  Using numbers estimated by comparing the proportion of wolves killed in the hunt that were wearing radio collars to the number of wolves killed wearing radio collars, I estimate that, rather than the 16 wolves reported to have been illegally killed, there were actually 100 wolves killed illegally because 6 of those were wearing radio collars. The number of wolves that died (9) from unknown causes contained 5 radio collared wolves which, using the same ratio, would have resulted in an additional 80 wolves.  The number of wolves that died from natural causes (5) consisted of 4 collared wolves, which, using the same ratio, would have resulted in an additional 66 wolves.  Under this estimate it appears that, at the beginning of April, 2011 when pups were born, there were 1217 wolves and by the same time this year, before pups were born, there were 496 wolves in Idaho.

The wolves killed under the “Control by Government” (75) label included those killed by IDFG (20), USDA Wildlife Services (48), and by Idaho County Deputies (7).

Meanwhile, Idaho Fish and Game Commission Chairman, Tony McDermott still has not retracted his claim that there are 1,200 – 1,600 wolves in Idaho and the Commission set more liberal hunting rules for the upcoming year.  Rocky Barker also weighed in criticizing Defenders of Wildlife for complaining about the toll that Idaho’s management has had on wolves.  He seems not to understand the meaning of the word “decimate”.

dec·i·mate (transitive verb)
dec·i·mate [ déssə màyt ](, dec·i·mates)
1. destroy large proportion of something
2. almost destroy something
3. kill one person in 10

You may access the data here: 2011-2012 wolf mort edit

Estimated wolf mortality in Idaho, April 1, 2011 - April 1, 2012 (click for larger view)

Documented wolf mortality in Idaho, April 1, 2011 - April 1, 2012 (click for larger view)

Update 5/8/2012:  I’ve added a table showing the breakdown of the sources of mortality and a map showing the number of wolves killed in each Game Management Unit.

Mortality Breakdown

Wolf Mortality by Game Management Unit

 
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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Western Watershed Project’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Coordinator, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is also serves as a member of the board of directors for Buffalo Field Campaign and as a member of the Sierra Club Grazing Core Team.

209 Responses to Wolf mortality in Idaho, a final toll. 48 – 59 percent of Idaho wolves killed in one year. (UPDATED 5-8-12)

  1. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Well, the population WAS robust.

  2. avatar sleepy says:

    That’s heartbreaking and shameful.

    Unfortunately, I don’t foresee what can be done to stop it. The big money backs this kind of thing politically, even in the face of Idaho public opinion which supports a viable wolf population.

    Even if the wolf population were to decline below some critical level, which it probably will in the next few years, there is no way that the feds will re-enter the picture. The ESA will simply be rewritten to exclude wolves from any protection.

    And a “re-reintroduction” would never happen in a million years. So, it’s ultimately goodbye to the NRM wolf population outside of the Glacier and Yellowstone zoos, and some hard pressure even on those.

    • avatar Mike says:

      NRM Wolves will be back on the ESA soon.

      As for Glacier, I’ve run into plenty of riff-raff that enter the park in search of wolves to kill (mostly on the western side).

      It’s simply a lack of education.

      • avatar JB says:

        Here’s the problem with that thinking, Mike. As wolves are hunted and populations are lowered, they will become harder to hunt (both because of behavioral changes and lower density). That means hunter success rates will decline. Concurrently, we can also expect that reproduction will increase as there is more habitat and available game for remaining wolves.

        Using some very basic science, I modeled wolf populations assuming: (a) a starting population of 746 in 2011; (b) a .5 survival rate that increases slightly (c) 1.05/year; (d) a reproductive rate of .25 pups/individual in 2011; and (e) a slight increase in reproduction (1.05/year) in subsequent years.

        Under these conservative assumptions, spring populations won’t dip below 150 until 2015 (138), though they will be back up to 200+ by fall of that year –when they count wolves. Assuming that reproduction peaks at .45 pups/individual and survival peaks at 0.65, the fall population doesn’t dip below 150 until 2018.

        Now that’s a quick, ad-hoc model that doesn’t account for emigration and immigration; but you can bet that Idaho (and other states) are using some similar model.

        However long it takes, the real question is will Idaho continue to persecute wolves once populations are at/near the minimums specified? I also expect that hunter effort will wane, as wolf hunting becomes harder and it becomes clear that ~200-300 wolves have no measurable impact on the population. At the very least, more “moderate” hunters will drop off.

        Note: There are still a lot of other questions to answer about the adequacy of state plans where wolf conservation is concerned.

        • avatar Rusty says:

          They were wiped out before and it can happen again. They are wolves, not coyotes.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Rusty,

            What you are saying then is that jb’s figures are too optimistic, e.g., that survival rate per wolf will be even less in the future than now (less than 0.5 survival a year) or that reproduction falls to less than 1.05. Why would that be?

            • avatar louise kane says:

              Ralph,

              as JB pointed out, “Now that’s a quick, ad-hoc model that doesn’t account for emigration and immigration”.
              JB it also does not account for increased mortality as states begin to use more aggressive plans as Montana is now proposing And as we saw last year, proposals to extend hunting seasons into the birthing and denning periods are likely to pop up again. Don’t you think that unlimited snares, traps, baiting and longer seasons are going to affect survival rates of pups especially, if when their mothers may be killed, as well as adults?

            • avatar louise kane says:

              Because the states keep upping the ante to kill wolves, and because there are probably many more illegally killed wolves than we can account for, don’t you think its quite difficult to predict or create accurate models. The states have basically opened the floodgates and anyone that harbors hate against wolves can pretty much do so without fear of recrimination.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Ralph -

              I believe there is rampant poaching of these animals that Idaho and Montana are not counting in their figures.

              At some point, a third party population counting service will be ordered by the feds. The “counting” will be taken from the states, and therein lies the return to the ESA.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Also, the closer wolves get to the minimum in each state, the louder advocacy becomes.

              This has all happened before, folks. It’s why the wolf was on the ESA to begin with. Residents of the northern rocky mountain states have proven they cannot responsibly, nor maturely handle grey wolves.

              There is a very real chance the grey wolf could be back on the list in perpetuity if these attitudes and actions continue their current trend.

          • avatar JB says:

            Rusty:

            My point was merely to demonstrate how science (modeling real) can and is being used to understand they dynamics of wolf populations. This type of information is critical for advocates to understand; when people stand in front of a commission and yell something like, “you’re not using science!”, or “you’re not following the science”, those individuals look foolish because, of course, there is science in their wolf reduction plan.

            The key concept that some can’t seem to understand is that science does not drive management objectives because it CANNOT drive management objectives. However, it isused in efforts to understand how to meet those objectives.

            In the case of Idaho, it is the arbitrarily-defined objective that is the problem, not an inability or refusal to use science.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              JB,
              That is all well and good if we are discussing a rational dynamic.

              BUT
              how can that be applied in Idaho when we have the chairman of the Fish and Game commission stating in a public( you know, the boss) forum that the management objective is the minimum, and then one of his subordinates saying in another forum that HIS boss is not being factual.??

              Reference this thread:

              Ken Cole;May 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm.

              Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:
              May 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              “forum” should be “post”

            • avatar JB says:

              sorry…meant to write, “modeling really”

            • avatar JB says:

              You’re up early, Jeff!

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              actually I have not gone to bed yet

            • avatar JB says:

              Jeff:

              That certainly is problematic for the agency. Whatever the intent may have been, it’s not likely to build trust when the guy communicating with hunters and ranchers uses one set of numbers and the guy talking with environmentalists uses another set of numbers.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              Watch for Mark to drop this hot potato

            • avatar louise kane says:

              “when people stand in front of a commission and yell something like, “you’re not using science!”, or “you’re not following the science”, those individuals look foolish because, of course, there is science in their wolf reduction plan.”

              OK – so where is the science? Recovery for the grey wolf was a political compromise from the start. The ESA was intended to recover species that were threatened or endangered and was not supposed to consider economics over the well being of the species and its recovery. Wolves were exempted from the protections that all other species enjoyed under the ESA through their “special status” (a tragically ironic classification if ever there was one). Then their recovery was further compromised by setting such ridiculously low population goals for recovery. JB if anyone knows the answer to this question you probably do. Can anyone say, while passing the red face test, that 400 animals in an area the size of these states can really be called recovered and that this number is scientifically defensible using best available data and science? Nothing has worked to appease ranchers and the rabid wolf haters that cling to their predator eradication arguments, the recovery plan compromises, the new hunting seasons, and all the other compromises that have allowed an industry to wreak havoc on the environment. Its all been to no avail. It would have been a lot better to use the law as it was intended to be used from the beginning, to protect endangered species and to see them recovered throughout their natural range. NO exceptions for violations and to work on programs to educate ranchers and others about wolves. All the coddling has done nothing but to embolden the people who want wolves eradicated. And they have an appallingly low benchmark for recovery to justify their killing while the rest of us have to watch the slaughter and listen to arguments about how science is used. I’ve argued it before, but you don’t have to be a scientist to know when something lacks common sense, common decency, and ignores scientific principles that somehow apply everywhere else excepting for wolves and predators and their management . 400 wolves in millions of acres of wilderness defies common sense… as do the current “management plans”. My point being is that maybe the states think that the advocates look silly because not all of them can quote the latest population models, or statistics, but most of them can recognize cronyism, conflict of interest, and rampant corruption when they see it. Arguing that science is being used to manage wolf populations in the west is like trying to cover up watergate. Everyone can now see this science based plan for recovery and the results. More than 50% of the animals killed in one season! It may not be the scientists that get this mess turned around but the silly little people who are appalled at the slaughter taking place under the guise of science based principles ad management.

            • avatar Elk275 says:

              Louise

              ++400 wolves in millions of acres of wilderness defies common sense++

              It is not millions of acres of wilderness. It is millions of acres of Forest Service, BlM, State lands and in Montana most of it is private property.

              I was on a ranch several weeks ago, the ranch is 5 miles from any federal lands and the rancher had spent the morning untangling his cattle that the wolves had run them into the corrals. I asked him if he was certain if it was wolves. The wolf tracks were enbedded in the cattle tracks. No cattle were killed just stressed. The nearest wilderness area is the Spanish Peaks 50 miles to the south.

              This is private property, the ranchers are not welfare public lands ranchers but ranchers grazing their cattle on their private propety. These wolves have caused problems on their property.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++My point was merely to demonstrate how science (modeling real) can and is being used to understand they dynamics of wolf populations. This type of information is critical for advocates to understand; when people stand in front of a commission and yell something like, “you’re not using science!”, or “you’re not following the science”, those individuals look foolish because, of course, there is science in their wolf reduction plan.++

              What an incredibly condescending post given the context of this website. Why do you continue to bash advocates on a site that was founded on advocacy?

              I just wonder sometimes why you post here. I think you’d fit better on a hunting blog.

              As far as science being applied in Idaho’s wolf policy, of course it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

              The state can hold far more animals than even the current population. If Idaho was following correct science, they would not be pushing wolves to the minimum acceptance number. Rather, they’d let wolves be at least 1000+ animals, occupying suitable habitat and allowing for a return of predator/prey balance in the ecosystem. They’re not doing that. Thus, many of the informed advocates at these meetings are going to question things.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++It is not millions of acres of wilderness. It is millions of acres of Forest Service, BlM, State lands and in Montana most of it is private property.++

              I think his point still resonates. 400 wolves in a state that is 147,000 square miles.

              I think even you Elk275 can look at those numbers and shake your head at the pure lunacy and overreaction by residents of the northern rockies.

              The anti-wolf campaign that a few crazies have run the last ten years has skewed reality in your eyes. 400 wolves, dude. 400. Yet the NRM states act like a group of terrorists is on the loose.

              It’s hard to see the “crazy” when you’re smack dab in the middle of it. It’s not just wolves and the northern rockies either. It applies to the corrupt political system of Illinois, or the racism in certain parts of the south. You have to remove your self from your daily path, physically or emotionally to see it. This requires self-awareness, which unfortunately seems to be in low supply amongst ranchers and hunters–the two groups responsible for all anti-predator nonsense in the lower 48.

              ++I was on a ranch several weeks ago, the ranch is 5 miles from any federal lands and the rancher had spent the morning untangling his cattle that the wolves had run them into the corrals. I asked him if he was certain if it was wolves. The wolf tracks were enbedded in the cattle tracks. No cattle were killed just stressed. The nearest wilderness area is the Spanish Peaks 50 miles to the south.

              This is private property, the ranchers are not welfare public lands ranchers but ranchers grazing their cattle on their private propety. These wolves have caused problems on their property.++

              So what? Welcome to letting your property roam around in the wild unwatched.

            • avatar JB says:

              “What an incredibly condescending post given the context of this website. Why do you continue to bash advocates on a site that was founded on advocacy?”

              Hmmm…My post wasn’t meant to be condescending, but rather to show how science IS used in the process of wolf management. As far as I can tell, I did not “bash” any wolf advocates at all?

              “I just wonder sometimes why you post here. I think you’d fit better on a hunting blog.”

              Well I can answer that question: I post here because it is one of the few places where hunter-conservationists and non-hunting wildlife advocates converge. Both of these groups are essential to ensuring the successful conservation of wildlife in the future.

              “As far as science being applied in Idaho’s wolf policy, of course it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s correct…The state can hold far more animals than even the current population. If Idaho was following correct science, they would not be pushing wolves to the minimum acceptance number. Rather, they’d let wolves be at least 1000+ animals…”

              Why 1,000 wolves? We have good data from the early 1900s that says there were 4,000 wolves killed in one state (Montana) in one year alone–and that was after bison were eliminated. Clearly the NRMs are capable of holding more wolves than 1,000. So why is your estimate of 1,000 wolves any more “correct” than 150 or 4,000? [Hint: the science that defines a minimum viable population isn’t any less (or more) “correct” than science that determines a maximum population.

            • avatar JB says:

              “Can anyone say, while passing the red face test, that 400 animals in an area the size of these states can really be called recovered and that this number is scientifically defensible using best available data and science?”

              Louise: It was when Ed wrote the 1994 EIS. The science of the time was discussed (in all its inadequacies) in the following publication:

              Fritts, SH & LN Carbyn. 1995. Population Viability, Nature Reserves, and the Outlook for Gray Wolf Conservation in North America.
              Restoration Ecology. Volume 3, Issue 1, pages 26–38.

              Note: I happen to agree with you. It is absolutely unconscionable to manage a public trust asset near its MVP without rock solid scientific justification. However, the *current* (i.e., 1994) thinking is/was that 30BP/300 wolves constituted a viable population. Whether it constitutes “responsible” management is another question entirely.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Hmmm…My post wasn’t meant to be condescending, but rather to show how science IS used in the process of wolf management. As far as I can tell, I did not “bash” any wolf advocates at all?++

              You should probably reread the post….

              ++
              Well I can answer that question: I post here because it is one of the few places where hunter-conservationists and non-hunting wildlife advocates converge. Both of these groups are essential to ensuring the successful conservation of wildlife in the future.++

              Hunter-conservationists are a rare breed. And it must be very difficult to belong to a group that actively works to eliminate wolves from the lower 48.

              I’m sure you’re aware of the massive contradictions, and the efforts of the community at large to wipe out public lands.

              I’d be interested in hearing your views on the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act HR 4089, which opens all national parks to hunting, opens wilderness areas to motors and logging, bars the EPA from regulating lead in hunting bullets, and allows the import of a dead endangered species (polar bears) for trophy display. It’s getting strong support from many hunters. Are you on board?

              ++
              Why 1,000 wolves? We have good data from the early 1900s that says there were 4,000 wolves killed in one state (Montana) in one year alone–and that was after bison were eliminated. Clearly the NRMs are capable of holding more wolves than 1,000. So why is your estimate of 1,000 wolves any more “correct” than 150 or 4,000? [Hint: the science that defines a minimum viable population isn’t any less (or more) “correct” than science that determines a maximum population++

              That number was for Idaho alone and seemed a reasonable place to start.

            • avatar JB says:

              I re-read the post, Mike, and I don’t think it was condescending at all–merely demonstrative.

              I refuse to be drawn into yet another debate with you about the legitimacy (or lack their of, in your mind) of hunting. It’s an absolute waste of my time.

              “That number [1,000] was for Idaho alone and seemed a reasonable place to start.”

              What is “reasonable” is, of course, subjective. We were debating the role of science in this process, and I gave a brief demonstration to show you how it was used. It was also used to set the recovery goals, (see the Fritts & Carbyn 1995 on this page), which have now become Idaho’s population goals–and these numbers were vetted by other scientists.

              Science was and is being used to answer objective questions about wolf populations–and in fact, these are the only types of questions science can answer.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++
              I refuse to be drawn into yet another debate with you about the legitimacy (or lack their of, in your mind) of hunting. It’s an absolute waste of my time.++

              It’s a waste of my time, too, and I bet it must be frustrating on your part to be involved in a group that you claim seeks to conserve, yet at the same time is the chief instigator for wolf persecution.

            • avatar JB says:

              “…it must be frustrating on your part to be involved in a group that you claim seeks to conserve, yet at the same time is the chief instigator for wolf persecution.”

              Hunters are not represented by any single group, Mike. And in fact, the groups that represent hunters take very diverse and sometimes divisive stances on issues related to hunting and conservation. Groups like Ducks Unlimited are very different from, say, “Sportsmen” for Fish and Wildlife. What frustrates me is your inability (or refusal) to grasp this rather simple truth.

        • avatar Jerry Black says:

          JB….yes what’s left of them will become more difficult to hunt. I don’t think it’s the hunting that many are worried about, but the trapping and snaring. There’s no way wolves or other wildlife can avoid these snares, many of which are set illegally. Also they are “part of the landscape” throughout the year….NOT just during trapping season. Trappers will set 50 or more snares in an area for coyotes and foxes year round…they’re inexpensive and very efficient at killing.

          • avatar JB says:

            Jerry:

            Experience suggests they will become more difficult to trap as well. Regardless, I share your concern about trapping, especially illegal trapping.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              JB do you think the correlation of wolves on federal lands relates to wolves being killed or driven off private lands and not being hunted on federal (prior to this year) or the landscape and availability of prey etc?

            • avatar JB says:

              Louise: My answer is “yes” to all of the above.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            Elk
            millions of acres of wilderness.
            the issue is that this state does have millions of acres of wilderness and can and should support more than 150 wolves. Its ludicrous to argue that this a defensible number of animals.

            http://www.wildmontana.org/resources/wildbasics/factsheet.php

            Total Acres in Montana 94,109,440 acres
            Total Square Miles in Montana 145,556 square miles
            Total Remaining Montana Wildland Base 9,839,100 acres
            Total Wilderness Acres in Montana 3,443,038 acres
            Percent of Land Base 3.7%
            Total Number of Wilderness Areas 15
            Total Unprotected Wilderness1 Acres in Montana 6,397,000 acres
            Percent of Land Base 6.8%
            Total Acres of Public Lands in Montana2 27,378,247 acres
            Percent of Land Base 29%

            • avatar WM says:

              Louise,

              Gross acreage numbers for MT are not particularly meaningful. You need to concentrate on the prey base and where it is. Much smaller acreage, AND not all “wilderness” however defined, or even occupying public lands year round.

            • avatar Elk275 says:

              Louise most of the wolves are found on private land or will be on private land a majority of there lives. The best wildlife habitat is private land; I know what I am talking about, I live here, I work here, I hunt here and I do know the history and ownership of Montana land. True wilderness is not good elk habitat. Each year the elk population is increasing in Eastern Montana while there is a slight decrease in Western Montana.

              Of those 27,378,247 acres of federal land, which is probably higher due to the recent purchase of Plum Creek holdings, I would guess that 5 to 7 million acres do not have any public access, they are land locked parcels; it would be interesting to know the exact amount.

              In early February, I had to go south down the Madison Valley beyond Ennis. I saw between 2500 to 3500 elk and a thousand plus antelope that day. All of the elk that I saw were on private property or state winter range, the entire Madison Valley is private or state land with a few thousand acres of BLM land. I am sure that there were some elk in the foothills of the mountains on Forest Service land but the most of the elk were on private property. Wolf season still had a week to go and I talked with several wolf hunters and they were given permission to hunt wolves on ranches that never give permission to hunt during the regular season. Those ranches that give wolf hunters permission may bitch about the number of elk on their land but they wanted the wolves shot more. The wolves were on private property with the elk.

              Western Montana is a land of peaks and valleys, the forest service owns the peaks and the valleys are private. With the exception of mountain goats all wildlife will cross the valleys one day and will winter out of the mountains on to private lands of state wildlife management areas. The wolves will follow.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Louise -

              Good post.

              When you contrast the acreage of Montana or Idaho with the number of wolves, you can only come to one conclusion:

              Overreaction. Like I said before, you can’t see the crazy when you’re in the middle of it unless you practice a heavy dose of self-awareness.

            • avatar Jerry Black says:

              It’s great to see wildlife protected areas ie….the links below where there’s no hunting. I’m sure we’ll see more of this(another is in the Swan) and if MFWP were to set aside places like the “Spotted Dog” Mgmt area they could make a lot more money charging visitors a fee to enter than they make off hunting fees.
              http://mpgranch.com/

              http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/IndyBlog/archives/2012/05/01/at-the-mpg-ranch-south-of-missoula-a-watchful-eye-on-the-wild

            • avatar JB says:

              “Louise most of the wolves are found on private land or will be on private land a majority of there lives.”

              Elk: This simply is untrue. The wolves in the NRMs have been very extensively monitored and pack territories exist primarily on federal public land. See the most recent pack territory maps (http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/NRMRangeMap.pdf).

              I have a slide presentation that overlays wolf pack territories with federal public lands. The correlation is near perfect. NOTE: I’m not saying that wolves do not use private lands; some do, but to suggest that the majority of wolves occur on private lands is simply wrong.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              Thank you JB for your information. It defies common sense to think that the majority of wolves occur only on private land but my point to elk was that its hardly defensible to claim that Montana should maintain 100-150 wolves with such huge tracts of wilderness areas.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Elk275-

              Most wolves in Montana are on public land. As I’ve said many times here, touting “I’m local, I understand how things work here” means nothing at all.

          • avatar Elk275 says:

            JB

            I was talking about Montana not the NRM’s. There is no way a wolf in Southwest Montana can not spend time either being a wolf or hunting without being on private lands. Wolves that live in the Madison Mountains must cross the Madison Valley which is all private land to access the Gravelly/Snowcrest Mountains which is all federal lands. If the wolf wants to go to the Centennials Mountains the wolf must cross the Centennial Valley which is approximately 40% fee and 20% state. Wolves moving from the Snowcrest to Idaho are going to cross private property. Any wolf in the Big Hole county will have to cross private lands going from the Beaverhead Mountains to the Pioneers Mountains. Any wolf around Missoula will have to cross or occupy private land part of the time, the Bitterroot Valley is private lands. Some landowners welcome the wolf and most want them gone.

            I use to hunt this area until the wolves and I know the land ownerships. Beaverhead County is 65% federal lands, some state and the rest fee lands. Wolf habitat is wolf habitat and if the elk are on private property the wolves are going to be where the elk are, if private property provides a safe place to den then the pack might chose that place. Wolves are wildlife and they have a right but that right ends when they cause the landowner problems mostly stressing cattle.

            • avatar Mike says:

              I get the gist of what you are saying, Elk275, but the truth is the core pack territories in Montana are on public land.

              Yes some of the best overall wildlife habitat for ungulates is in the valleys and wolves will follow them. But the core, principal habitat is federal land.

              As far as wolves stressing cattle, who cares? Welcome to the outdoors. There’s lightning and floods, too.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          JB,

          The only reason wolf hunting will become more difficult is because there are going to be fewer of them. Young of the year will not have the savvy of the adults, if indeed the adults actually acquire this savvy. Some recent canine behavior studies would put this acquired savvy into doubt.

          • avatar JB says:

            Not the only reason, Immer. Remember, these animals will be trapped or darted and collared, and otherwise acquire negative associations with humans.

            I think the extent to which fears acquired by experience are able to be “passed along” through social interaction is a fascinating topic for research. I’m very interested in any new information that you’ve seen that you’re willing to share?

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              JB,

              If not the only reason, their smaller numbers will become the main reason. Darted animals and collared wolves, will associate helicopters with that experience, as they are most probably too loopy from the experience to make the “man” connection.

              The trapped and snared animals due to the wolf season will not be able to pass that experience on in a social means as they will be removed from the population. I believe too much has been made of the few remaining wolves from long ago, and the legends surrounding them as a lone trapper pursued them. One man pursuing one wolf is tough, and to the best of my knowledge, snares were not used as they are now.

              Coyotes certainly have not “learned” to avoid man.

              I have the study information elsewhere, and if I can dig it up, I’ll post it at the bottom of this thread tonight rather than bury it in the middle. I’m not holding you to task, it’s just that I believe too much credit has been given to the supposed cognitive abilities of wolves in regard to their “respect” for man.

            • avatar Jerry Black says:

              JB….I’d would like to see some research related to this because from what I understand from wolf biologists, it’s very easy to trap a wolf that has previously been trapped, and I’m talking 2 or 3 times. This happens frequently when they have to change collars.
              Other examples are wolverine which are trapped quite frequently in Glacier and also Lynx.

            • avatar JB says:

              “I’d would like to see some research related to this because from what I understand from wolf biologists, it’s very easy to trap a wolf that has previously been trapped…”

              My understanding, which also comes from speaking with biologists, is that wolves are one of the hardest animals to trap, period–and that it generally gets harder after their caught once. Perhaps Ma’ or Jon Way can weigh in?

          • avatar louise kane says:

            Jerry thanks for the post about the ranch. It is great to see protected areas. Be interesting to see if other ranches could make money by providing wildlife watching stations. Some friends of mine created a very good business in the Virgin Islands using camping platform sites and providing bicycle tours, snorkeling and kayaking as well as other boating activities. Its a big hit and its been well recieved. I bet people would pay good money to stay at “ecofriendly” cabins showing wildlife videos and taking guided tours. I did this in the Amazon river system and it was not cheap but worth every penny. Be nice to see Montana, Idaho and Wyoming use their incredible natural resources in a positive way.

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              “…from what I understand from wolf biologists, it’s very easy to trap a wolf that has previously been trapped, and I’m talking 2 or 3 times. This happens frequently when they have to change collars.”

              I don’t know of any agency that “changes collars”. The batteries wear out over time and in the case of VHF collars the animals are lost to telemetry, or in the case of GPS collars the collars detach (hopefully) automatically.

              I’d like to get some instruction from the biologists who claim that wolves are easy to trap a second or third time. In over 800 wolves trapped and collared by my agency, I’d bet the percentage of recaptures is a low single digit.

            • avatar Ken Cole says:

              Presently, in Idaho, according to a state records request, 7 of the 56 collared wolves are recollared.

            • avatar JB says:

              I *think* a big differences is that helicopters are used much more for capture in the NRMs than the WGLs?

      • avatar Carl says:

        Have you been turning all these thugs in?

        • avatar Kathy Winkler says:

          They’ve turned in a few, Carl. But they are not being prosecuted. None of them have been fined or imprisoned.

      • avatar Kathy Winkler says:

        It’s not just lack of education, Mike. It’s more of a “mind~set” … these folks simply do not want Wolves in their “back~yards” … They’ll never stop killing them. Not until the Wolves are all gone, that’s the reason we had to re~introduce them! I’ve read the comments. And they’re taking the Wife and kiddo’s to these Wolf Hunts! I’ve seen the pictures they post, proudly, on their facebook pages! There’s even a Pizza Place in Montana, that has a billboard stating, “bring your Wolf hide in for a free pizza!”
        .. No, they won’t stop killing the Wolves. We just need to fence those states in, to keep our Wolves out.

  3. avatar dcookie says:

    Evil is alive and well.

  4. avatar JEFF E says:

    Not sure if this should be a surprise to any one.
    By the way lets not forget that the cub killing season is underway in two zones for another month and a half.
    Then July is free—this year—and then it picks up again in Aug. Except for trapping which in one zone can start on July 1. Also if one hunts AND traps then up to 10 wolves can be killed by one person the way I read it.

    The livestock industry—killin is their business and business is good

  5. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Unconscionable.

    Not how ESA and wildlife conservation are supposed to function in the real world at all .

  6. avatar Wolfy says:

    shameful. At least there are some numbers in ID; WY has no idea (nor do they care) how many wolves have been killed. We’ll see whether WI pulls-off a season this fall; shud be on par with the decimation see in ID. Lets hope it doesn’t happen.

  7. avatar Antje Göttert says:

    The USDA Wildlife Services should be named the USDA Wildlife Killing Services!

  8. avatar Richie says:

    It looks like their is no end to this,only a really big pullback on people going to yellowstone,or even anywhere in the big three states !!!!!! We can only hope

    • avatar Travis Day says:

      Boycotting businesses is such a vindictive approach, hardly befitting of conservationists. And creating a boycott that targets the very tourist businesses that make the wolves so valuable in real dollars is counter-productive.

  9. avatar Mike says:

    Devastating extermination effort by the state of Idaho. No science here folks, just emotional blood-lust.

    Idaho is an embarrassment to the country.

  10. avatar WM says:

    Ken,

    I know this won’t set well with some folks, but for balance in this conversation you could put two more dashed lines on your chart. One for the FWS rule that is codified by the Congressional rider at 150 (100 + buffer). Another for the population management objective stated by IDFG in its 2008 plan (before it got smacked down by the ID Legislature) at 475-485 (at least that is what I recall the document said), which is still about a hundred or so below where it is now.

    The area defined between those two boundaries 150 – 475 is about where they likely intend to manage IMHO, and I bet it would be very close to the average (150 + 475)/2 = 312.

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      Tony McDermott specifically mentioned the 15BP/150 wolves as their goal at the last Commissioner’s meeting. They don’t have an official number other than that. We are left to guess what the meaning of a “vigorous” wolf population really means in terms of actual numbers.

      • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        Ken -
        15BP/150 wolves is NOT the Idaho wolf management objective. As I’ve explained before, the floor is a number significantly above 15BP/150 wolves, sufficient to assure that other factors will not push Idaho wolf numbers to or below the listing criteria. That buffer level will be evaluated and maintained by adaptive management.

        • avatar Jon Way says:

          But of course you won’t state any number or buffer…. I think most rationale people have lost trust in ID and now MT’s “science-based wolf plans”. But at least the pop was robust before half the wolves were slaughtered this year.

        • avatar Ken Cole says:

          That’s not what your commission chair was saying. He didn’t budge from the 15BP/150 number when specifically asked.

          When will the buffer be evaluated? What is the buffer? You can’t and won’t answer.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Ken -
            I was at the March Commission meeting also, including the public hearing. I listened intently to the discussion including Commissioner McDermott’s introductory statements and your comments. Commissioner McDermott explained in detail history of Idaho wolf management including ESA listed and de-listed status and criteria for de-listing. I heard Commissioner McDermott explain that Idaho wolf management objectives are to reduce wolf numbers and wolf predation of elk – sufficiently to restore lost elk hunting opportunity. I did not hear the Commissioner describe 150/15BP as the Idaho wolf population objective. The Idaho wolf population objective is what I describe above.

            • avatar Travis Day says:

              “I heard Commissioner McDermott explain that Idaho wolf management objectives are to reduce wolf numbers and wolf predation of elk – sufficiently to restore lost elk hunting opportunity.”

              Right there you have zeroed in on part of the problem. Current science suggests that wolves have only a miniscule effect on the overall population of elk, on the order of 1-2%. Even extirpating wolves won’t “restore lost elk hunting opportunity.” However, kudos to you for voicing the true motives behind Idaho wolf “management.”

        • avatar skyrim says:

          “adaptive management” my ass….

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Mike -
            That would be a completely different set of circumstances – socially and politically. There is no way for anyone to know.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Jeff E -
              The only Idaho policy and “stand” that has any relevance to management of the Idaho wolf population is the formal policy and commitment articulated in the State Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that was formally endorsed by SCR 134 in 2002. Repeating AGAIN HJM 5 spoke to nothing more than legislative frustration with ESA gridlock preventing Idaho from assuming appropriate state management of a recovered wolf population. The only message it articulated was a request to the federal government to remove wolves. The 2002 SCR speaks directly to the intent and commitment of the state to conserve and sustain the Idaho wolf population – albeit at a level that you and others disapprove of.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              “The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho.”

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              “The State of Idaho is on the record asking the federal government to remove wolves from the state by the adoption in 2001 of House Joint Memorial No. 5.>>> The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho.”<<<"

              (sigh)

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Yes Jeff
            Not…. the state of Idaho will implement a policy to eradicate the Idaho wolf population;

            In fact….the state of Idaho is committed to conserving a viable, self-sustained, permanent Idaho wolf population.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              “Not…. the state of Idaho will implement a policy to eradicate the Idaho wolf population; ”

              HJM005 states that “wolves be removed by any means necessary”

              HJM005 is Idahos “official” stand, view, position in regard to wolves.

              The “management plan” and the enacting language “only” brought Idaho in compliance with Fedral law.

              “In fact….the state of Idaho is committed to conserving a viable, self-sustained, permanent Idaho wolf population.”

              Right up to the day the ESA is modified so that wolves can not be considered for listing or for the next 4.5 years.
              Whichever comes first.

        • avatar Salle says:

          Hey there mr. public servant (IDF$GMark),

          Actually, the official goal is 0BP/0individual wolves, remember the MOU in place. And since the agency is also lying about the actual numbers anyway, of course the 15/150 will be easy enough to fudge when called upon for numbers and “estimates”… like who’s gonna know as long as only agency approved folks will be allowed to offer count estimates… specially selected and approved folks, anyone with differing estimates are silenced so that there’s little suspicion among the selected officials’ reports… and probably using those theoretical “trucked around” wolves that will come in handy for the pop estimation task. That’s what sort of manipulation has always worked for them in the past, a closed society of sorts that has no place in a democratic social construct… shadow operatives.

          The fact that ranchers and hunters think facetiously stated goals of sustainable numbers (15BP/150wolves) are too high, they openly admit that any number above 0 BPs/0 wolves is too high. There is no acceptable number above “0″ for these special interest “gotta maintain control over everything in our midst” groups… which includes the state’s gov’t (don’t forget the official statement – MOU still in place among newly created addenda to this MOU), which is why the states can’t be trusted to manage anything for the public trust… Idaho being a prime example of valid claims against too much leeway in the states’ rights argument.

          • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Salle…….
            “Actually, the official goal is 0BP/0individual wolves, remember the MOU in place” I confess, I don’t know what you are talking about. What are you talking about?

            “…since the agency is also lying about the actual numbers anyway…”
            OK, I’m curious. How is the agency lying about the actual numbers?

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              This Mark is still Idahos “official” stand on wolves. Nothing has changed it. So Salle is 100% correct in that Idahos “official” stand on wolves is to have zero wolves in the state.
              Spin it anyway you want.

              http://legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2001/HJM005.html

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Jeff E -
              The 2001 Joint Memorial did not establish a state policy or official state “stand” on Idaho wolf management. It expressed an opinion and request (to the federal government) at that time, by that legislative body. Here is what a Joint Memorial accomplishes:
              Joint Memorial: A measure adopted by both houses and used to make a request of or to express an opinion to Congress, the President of the United States, or both. It is not used to commemorate the dead.”
              The position of the state of Idaho on wolf management is expressed in the Idaho Wolf Management plan. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has directed the IDFG, through the Idaho Wolf Management plan, to manage the Idaho wolf population for size sufficiently larger than 150/15BP to ensure that the population does not drop to or below the 150/15BP re-listing benchmark and remains a viable and sustainable population.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Sorry, misplaced this response. Second post:

              Mike -
              That would be a completely different set of circumstances – socially and politically. There is no way for anyone to know.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            Mark,
            The MOU express’ the only “official” stand by the state of Idaho on wolves.

            The “Management Plan” is NOT the “stand ” of Idaho on wolves.

            It is ONLY the document that is in place to meet federal requirements that Idaho comply with federal law; the ESA

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Jeff E -
              There are two documents I know of that you might be referring to. The 2005 MOA with the USFWS that facilitated the return of wolf management to Idaho and the 2004 MOU with the Nez Perce Tribe that facilitated joint wolf management responsibilities. Neither document should be interpreted to define Idaho wolf management policy. Are you referring to another MOU or MOA?

            • avatar Ken Cole says:

              He’s referring to the Joint Memorial linked to in his previous comment. While it isn’t an “MOU” it is the official stance of the State of Idaho.

              http://legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2001/HJM005.html

              The Idaho Wolf Management plan is what they think they can get away with without having wolves be relisted.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              Ken, Mark,
              Ken you are correct I am referring to the HJM 05, House Joint Memorial 05, which represents Idaho’s “official” stand on wolves.

              The “management plan” is merely the document that brings Idaho in compliance with Federal Law. To think,much less state, that it represents Idaho’s “official stand” on wolves takes disingenuous to a whole new level.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Ken, Jeff E –
              The 2001 House Joint Memorial No. 5 does spoke to the desire of the legislature that the federal government remove wolves from Idaho. It did not, does not, state or establish policy that wolves would be removed or eradicated from the state – by the state. Neither does Memorial No. 5 comment on the commitment of Idaho to the conservation and sustained management of wolves. It simply speaks to frustration by the Legislature about the issue of Idaho wolf management. However, the Legislature did formally adopt policy on Idaho wolf management the following year (2002), through Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 134.

              2002 Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 134
              SCR134……………………………………………..by STATE AFFAIRS
              WOLF CONSERVATION/MANAGEMENT PLAN

              “The goal of this conservation and management plan is to ensure the long-
              17 term survival of wolves in Idaho while minimizing wolf-human conflicts that
              18 result when wolves and people live in the same vicinity. Conservation of
              19 wolves requires management. Management for wolves means ensuring adequate num-
              20 bers for long-term persistence of the species as well as ensuring that land-
              21 owners, land managers, other citizens, and their property are protected.”

              SCR 134 formally adopted the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

              Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan http://species.idaho.gov/pdf/wolf_cons_plan.pdf
              The State of Idaho is on the record asking the federal government to remove wolves from the state by the adoption in 2001 of House Joint Memorial No. 5. The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho. However, in order to use every available option to mitigate the severe impacts on the residents of the State of Idaho, the state will seek delisting and manage wolves at recovery levels that will ensure viable, self-sustaining populations.
              This is the policy and “stand” of the state of Idaho – a permanent viable and self-sustaining population. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has adopted a wolf population management objective that will sustain the Idaho population at a level sufficiently above 150/15BP to assure that the population does not drop to or below that ESA listing/de-listing criteria.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Mark -

              What do you think the “management” plan would be if there wasn’t the 150 wolf ESA limit?

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              “The State of Idaho is on the record asking the federal government to remove wolves from the state by the adoption in 2001 of House Joint Memorial No. 5. The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho.”

              “The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho.”

              “The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho.”

              The “management plan” is the documentation that brings Idaho in compliance with Federal law.

              “The position reflected in House Joint Memorial No. 5 continues to be the official position of the State of Idaho.”

              The “management plan” is the documentation that brings Idaho in compliance with Federal law.

              Get it now?

        • avatar JEFF E says:

          No, the Idaho wolf management objective is zero wolves, per Idaho’s “official” wolf stand.

  11. avatar Richie says:

    Ken that is the problem who is going to call the real numbers,if they 150 or 450,who is telling the truth the ranchers? The way this has gone I doubt they will tell the truth about numbers.

  12. avatar John Glowa says:

    Add Idaho to my growing list of western states that I will never spend a single dime in until they come out of the dark ages with regard to wolves. The state government is a disgrace. We get lots of Idaho potatoes here in Maine. I’ve just bought my last one of those too. Maybe it’s time for national boycott of all Idaho products?

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      I’m sure the effect I have had on the Idaho potato industry is profound. Satire intended. I can say the same for beef, as since last year’s Idaho plan came out, my beef consumption has gone down to almost nothing.

    • avatar skyrim says:

      “Maybe it’s time for national boycott of all Idaho products?”

      It’s now long past that time John. I’m just now planning my future “outside” trips to go “around” Idaho from Utah to all points north. They’ve seen the last of me and any of my money.
      And this is what Idaho calls “management”?

      • avatar Anthony Criscola says:

        Count me in. I will not by Idaho potatoes or patronize any business (Five Guys) that uses their products.

  13. avatar JB says:

    I came across this article today, and thought the recommendation particularly relevant in the context of the ongoing wolf management dilemma in Idaho:

    Wildlife caretaking vs. wildlife management—a short lesson in Swedish

    Abstract: While spending a year working with the Swedish Hunters Association, I discovered that the Swedish language does not have a word analogous to management. Instead, when talking about wildlife, the Swedes use words that have a root in nursing or caretaking. This orientation leads one to think about being partners with nature rather than controllers of nature. I believe this view of nature puts humans as equals with nature where we are part of the man–land community. Our North American wildlife management focus on control often leads to unrealistic goals and practices. I suggest that for a week, wildlife professionals try to call themselves wildlife “caretakers” rather than “managers” and see what difference it makes. I also suggest that we have much to learn by looking at how other societies relate to wildlife and that our North American perspective might benefit from such interactions. The Wildlife Society could do more to help provide such opportunities.

    From: Heberlien, T. 2005. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(1):378-380.
    ———-

    Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it.

    • avatar Peter Kiermeir says:

      Unfortunately the Swedish wolf “management” principles are not much different! They are as simple as in Idaho: Booom!

    • avatar Salle says:

      Well, JB…

      Given that the Bulletin was published so long ago and the fact that the majority of officers for TWS are F&G folks, I doubt that they will even give it a thought after the customary snarky remarks on the concept as it appears they blew that one off years ago.

      • avatar JB says:

        Salle:

        I’m not really interested in how individuals interpret this article; rather, I’m interested in how reconceptualizing management as caretaking (I would use the term, stewardship) might impact managers’/caretakers’/stewards’ obligations with respect to wildlife populations.

        I suspect that we can all agree that it is unconscionable to purposefully manage a population at or near its MVP without a very good justification, backed up by sound scientific evidence. After all, the role of a caretaker or steward is to ensure the health and well-being of the object/entity in their charge, not to manipulate it for their own benefit. I view this “caretaker” role as much more consistent with the role of the trustee as envisioned by the public trust doctrine.

        I also know that MANY wildlife professionals view themselves as caretaker/stewards of wildlife resources. However, they are not in positions to make the political decisions–those decisions are made by wildlife commissions/boards/councils.

        • avatar Salle says:

          And therein lies the rub…

          Those in positions of authority with regard to public trust concerns already see themselves as being not only vested with the virtues of stewardship-caretaker-management, they also see themselves as possessing values of infallibility when making the erroneous decisions they make with regard to wildlife and its “management”… which, in their minds, is granted by legislators who only listen to a select group of special interests within their overall population of alleged constituents. I have little hope that any of this will turn to a positive trajectory until a tsunami of structural change occurs, and probably in very ugly ways given that violent solutions have become America’s great national pastime for every dilemma.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            stewardship; that reminds me of a big advertising push a few (or more) years back wherein the livestock industry tried to come out as being THE BEST stewards of the land.

            No one else need apply. Don’t look, don’t think; just leave it all to US.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            Unfortunately as Peter points out Sweden has an atrocious history when it comes to wolf tolerance.

            • avatar mikarooni says:

              Swedes are extremely tolerant, but only of each other.

            • avatar WM says:

              Looks like Swedish wolves don’t like Swedes either. A fifteen–year-old girl who was visiting Sweden’s Kolmården Safari park a few weeks ago had to be rushed to hospital after one of the wolves suddenly attacke.

              http://www.thelocal.se/40734/20120509/

            • avatar Mike says:

              WM, always there to post anti-wolf rhetoric.

            • avatar WM says:

              Mike,

              No, just posting facts. This conversation is always in need of balance from the likes of you.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              Mik… my grandfather Eklof would appreciate that. He was a rigid but amazing Swede. Maybe the wolves are just pissed at being stuck in a zoo when they are born to run and roam. I’d bite too if someone stuck me in a cage.

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        So in other words they were at a zoo.

        This relevant how?

        • avatar WM says:

          The forum is irrelevant. Victim is scared. Exhibits prey type behavior, and wild animal responds accordingly. Not that difficult to understand.

          • avatar Mike says:

            Well, WM, I have to say, after months of bashing wolves, you’ve finally convinced me they’re just no good.

          • avatar JEFF E says:

            They were in a zoo

            • avatar WM says:

              Jeff,

              Apparently they were in the Safari Park wolf enclosure or roaming pen. Call it a zoo if you like. Really doesn’t make any difference. It is the behavior of the wolf responding to a visitor that is the caution.

              You and your buddy, Mike, are making more of this than was intended, since my post was also responding to the exchange between Louise and mikarooni, noting lack of tolerance for wolves by Swedes. You a little slow today, eh Jeff?

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              WM,
              Looks like you have been sniffing too much ambulance exhaust today.
              The girl was afraid and it apparently triggered the wolf. The SAME THING HAPPENS 100′s of times with “”dogs”” every day every where. If fear is sensed or apparent it can trigger an attack. The fact it was a zoo wolf which more than likely was born and raised in captivity certainly does not equate to an attack by a wild animal, even by the most jaded ambulance chaser.

            • avatar WM says:

              Jeff,

              You are indeed a bit slow today. I’ll explain. LOL.

              First point and actually my reason for posting the link – exchange between louise and mik suggests Swedes have no tolerance for wolves. Wolf bites Swedish girl in Park (zoo for you). Logical sarcastic conclusion: Wolves don’t like Swedes either. Get it? LOL

              Second point: Wolves do respond with aggression when prey characteristics appear (girl was frightened). Doesn’t make a whit of difference whether it was a zoo or otherwise. It is a primal response (and yeah dogs do it, but this was a public place and guests with a safari park employee where you have to pay). Captive wolf and however many generations born in captivity. DOESN’T make a difference. Apparently this has happened at that facility before. Geez. Logical conclusion: wolves as a sspecies are an inherently dangerous animal. That’s why people don’t normally keep them for pets, and they don’t use them for sled dogs up north.

              By the way, never chased an ambulance or practiced in that discipline.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              Wm,
              I could be in full reverse and still outpace you.

              Let me explain; your assertion is that a wild animal attacked the girl.
              The fact is that a captive animal does not act the same as a “wild” animal.

              They were in a zoo.

              The poor decision making exhibited by the employee and the family does not make the wolf “wild”. I find it hard to believe that the parents of a 15 year old did not know that the kid was extremely afraid.

              I also submit that a wolf, domestic or wild is no more inherently dangerous than any breed of domestic dog and far less than most.
              You appear to be no more schooled in the relevant subject matter than $3 is; trolling through the internet for a “story” and trying to represent something as other than it is.

              Pity

            • avatar WM says:

              Jeff,

              ++…The fact is that a captive animal does not act the same as a “wild” animal. +++

              To some extent true depending on how it is conditioned in captivity, but wolves (and even wolf hybrids) have proven over time they are difficult to domesticate, and apparently require constant careful oversight, and according to some who have tried to domesticate them, they can be “unpredictable” andare a “constant challenge.” I won’t pretend to know what went on with this incident, other than the report that it happened as described by the press; it has happened (attack on visotors) before, and based on new policy of the Park they believe it may happen again. So, you go ahead and be the expert. I am not, but I do believe presented with certain prey like behavior (fear, weakness, appearance of flight) any wild predaotry animal and even some domesticated will revert to a primal response to chase and maybe attack under the right conditions.

              There have been, as I understand it, attempts to make wolves into sled dogs, but as well as body confirmation not suited for the task, the temperment could not be overcome cconsistently, apparently putting other team dogs at risk.

              As for your assertion that a “wolf, domestic or wild is no more inherently dangerous than any breed of domestic dog,” I don’t think so. We’ll just have to disagree on that.

              Sorry to all for getting off point on this thread.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              WM
              fair enough

  14. avatar nabeki says:

    The species is already weakened from hundreds of years of slaughter. Wolves in North America have suffered a loss of 43% of their genetic variability since 1856. That almost half in a 150 years.
    ====

    New Scientist

    Wolves’ genetic diversity worryingly low

    18:41 26 November 2004 by Gaia Vince
    Wolf eradication in the US has had a far more devastating impact on the genetic diversity of remaining populations than previously thought, a new study reveals.

    Although wolves were systematically eradicated across North America over the last couple of centuries, it had been thought that the human impact on the Canadian wolf population – which is currently a relatively healthy 70,000 – was minor.

    Conservationists therefore assumed that the Canadian population had the same level of genetic diversity that had existed in the 19th century – prior to the mass slaughter – and that small-scale re-introductions of these wolves into the US would lead to diversity on a par with this earlier period.

    But these assumptions were wrong, according to researchers from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and the University of California Los Angeles, US, who looked at the genetic diversity of the original wolf populations using DNA analysis. They used bone samples taken from grey wolves dating from 1856 – held in the National Museum for Natural History in Washington DC – and compared this genetic diversity with that of modern wolves.

    “We found a 43% drop in genetic variability in the modern wolves,” said Carles Vila, one of the team. “It is impossible for the wolf populations to recover this important diversity, which enables them to adapt to different environmental challenges.”

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6730-wolves-genetic-diversity-worryingly-low.html

    ====
    In 2007, geneticist, Dr. Ken Fischman, Ph.D, testified at an IDFG open house on Idaho’s then wolf management plan.

    Testimony About the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan – 2008

    Idaho Fish & Game Open House

    Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, December 12, 2007

    Genetic Problems in Small Populations of Idaho Wolves

    Ken Fischman, Ph.D.

    Sandpoint, Idaho 83864

    Ladies/Gentlemen:

    My name is Ken Fischman, and I live in Sandpoint, Idaho. I have a Ph.D. in Genetics, and over 30 years of experience in Genetic research. I wish to address the question of the number of wolves in Idaho that would constitute a genetically viable population.

    Everyone has been impressed by the rapid increase in Wolf numbers since their reintroduction. However, that was to be expected when wolves were first introduced into this area, in which the ecological niches for large carnivores were previously quite open. As these niches are filled, wolf reproduction will likely slow down.

    I would like to put the 673 wolves in Idaho in geographical and comparative perspective. The size of Idaho is 82,751 square miles. That works out as one wolf for every 123 square miles. The Human population is more than 1,240,000, which means one wolf for every 1,842 people.

    ID F&G has proposed a minimum of 100 wolves and 15 Breeding Pairs as a statewide objective.

    A key principal in Population Genetics is that what is important for species preservation is not the total population, but the number of Effective Breeders. ID F&G estimates that there are currently no more than 42 Effective Breeding Pairs in Idaho.(that is, wolves, not people)

    Because only a small fraction of a pack reproduces, that further decreases the genetic pool. If Idaho’s wolf numbers are reduced to this level, it could lead to severe inbreeding, thus decreasing their genetic diversity, and making them more prone to a population crash under a variety of circumstances.

    The concept that the existence of over ten breeding pairs of wolves should justify removing wolves from the Endangered Species list is therefore biologically insupportable. It is clear therefore, that this was a political, not a scientific decision, and has no basis in any established genetic or evolutionary principles.

    Inbreeding is far from the only danger to small populations. Even under the best of circumstances, the lives of wolves are precarious. Any one of dozens of natural or man-made calamities, which could be weathered by large, dispersed populations, such as a virus epidemic, an unusually severe winter, change of climate, or loss of habitat, could wipe out such a small number of animals almost overnight, with permanent loss of their gene pool.

    Population Genetics guidelines estimates that a Minimal Viable Population is 500 individuals, and I calculate that the Number of Effective Breeders should be at least 50 pairs.

    Under any other circumstances, and with almost any other animal population, the numbers of wolves in ID F&G’s Statewide Objective would be considered, not a success, but a population in danger of extinction.

    This is the likely outcome if the number of Idaho’s wolves is reduced to the level ID F&G has proposed.

    No, in a manner of speaking, these wolves are not out of the woods yet. A much larger, genetically diverse, and widespread population would be needed if wolves are to become once again a stable, permanent part of the forests of the Northern Rockies.

    Thank you for your time and attention.
    ===========

    Wolves are not turnips to be harvested. They are highly social, intelligent animals that are being systematically eradicated in Idaho and soon Montana and Wyoming.

    ====
    Bringing Wolves Home
    11/11/97 NOVA
    Ed Bangs Interview

    How strong is a wolf’s natural instinct to return home?

    Real strong. A wolf’s territory represents the place where their family lives and where they’re safe. If you’re in your pack’s territory, you have a family to help defend you, to care for you, to share food with you. Wolves are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters that we always hoped we could be. I mean there’s extreme loyalty among family members, it’s everything to them. And if they leave that, then they’re exposed to possible attacks by other wolf packs or families. So when you move them somewhere different, they want to go back home.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/wolves-yellowstone.html
    ====

  15. avatar nabeki says:

    I meant to say: “That’s almost half in a 150 years.”

  16. avatar Dogmakit says:

    This is a horrible statistic. A viable, healthy genetically diverse population cannot be maintained with this kind of loss. Write your congressmen, your state FWP people. I have asked the feds to get involved again since these western states hate the thought of federal intervention. If the only way the states will manage fairly is to threaten them with the feds, then that’s what we need to do. I write my state’s FWP (MT)before every meeting they have on wolves. We may be able to force a change in ‘management’ if we are loud enough. There’s plenty of science showing how beneficial top predators are to the environment & habitat. Just keep hammering it home to the people that make the rules.

  17. avatar Richie G. says:

    I did not think they were going after pups too! Was this not a big concern a long time ago, no more ahhhh!!!! Give an inch take a yard! They will be gone soon, and the farmers will have a reason,they could not survive ,in this environment anyway! So where do we go from here, I was reading the article about a farmer who had electrical fences, I said that a long time ago, and bigger dogs, and red flags at night. It’s harder to do but if you want wolves to be here ,their are ways to work around this. As I said before thank God for California, it’s a different mentality not all but on a whole, most. Maybe it’s the sunshine,they are more easy going in Southern California. But if we want wolves their are ways to keep them ,I have no science in the field but it is not hard to see ,even from someone like me we are just killing them off, traps ,pups at one time most of you guys were against this now it’s the norm. Things are changin! Lets all hope Scott Walker takes a big dive ,maybe this will be the start of something good.

  18. avatar Richie G. says:

    O.K. where does it stop, now pups, traps at one point this never came into the conversation,give an inch take a yard. California has the electrical fences,bigger dogs and red flags on fences, the killing has has went to almost no kills, if we want wolves their are ways it’s just harder,easier to kill them I guess. I like the California mindset better,they save seals etc. THey are into saving animals not killing them if they do not have too.

    • avatar Mike says:

      California is ahead on many things, Richie. They are a trailblazer state and the future of many states. It’s just going to take a bit for the rest to catch up (gay marriage, medical marijuana, emissions, game management, etc).

        • avatar SAP says:

          Well, Dan, maybe Idaho and a lot of other “live within our means” states that actually get way more back in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes could help California out.

          I can’t find data more recent than 2005 at the Tax Foundation site, but from 1981-2005, Idaho averaged a $1.23 in spending for every dollar in taxes it sent to the federal government. Hmmm . . . where did that money come from? Well, California, for starters: over the same period, California got only 92 cents back on every dollar it spent.

          http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/22685.html

          Your other benefactors include New Jersey, Connecticut, New York (yep, all them dang wolf lovers!), Illinois, and so on. Ol’ Senator Tap-Tap was bringing home the bacon for the Gem State!

          Of course, we’re even worse moochers over here in Montana, sorry to say.

          • avatar WM says:

            SAP,

            I never have understood the data the Tax Foundation pust together (and they don’t explain it, that I could find). Do you know whether this includes federal hiway funds for construction of the interstate highways everybody uses in these big states with miles of I-82, or I-90 but little population, federal jobs as is BLM or FS. Seems to me the benefit of the federal dollars for ID, MT or other Western states that get more than they give is kind of distorted in that context. To add another layer of complexity, businesses pay federal income taxes in the state where incorporated usually, as well, so those that might be incorporated in NY, or other high population/profitable business density states might distort the numbers a bit. My favorite in the latter catagory is CONN., where all those big insurance companies corporate offices do business, even though they generate premium revenues from all over the country (ever been to Hartford?). CONN consistently ranks about 48-50th in how much federal tax is paid, vs what they get (they were much higher at one point in the early 80′s when maybe the military was spending money on subs/boats might have been higher. And, of course GE (6th largest US corp by revenues) has its corporate offices in CONN, where I think they are also incorporated (haven’t’ checked for sure). Boeing, another biggie is incorporated in Delaware, also home to other large companies because of favorable corporation laws. (DE ranks 43 and gets $.77 for every dollar they put in to the federal coffers).

            These, IMHO, are very distorted statistics, and I don’t think they accurately represent what you intended.

            • avatar WM says:

              Sorry, the Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR system reports GE’s state of incorporation is NY, not CONN, so they report their earnings and pay federal taxes in NY.

              Can you name any Fortune 100 or even Fortune 500 companies that are incorporated in ID, MT or WY and pay corporate federal taxes in that state?

  19. avatar Dan says:

    Wow! What a thread!

    We have stats, models, boycotts and probably some chicanery.

    ***News Flash***

    - IDFG does not want very many wolves outside of the YNP area. Most likely, as few as possible.

    - Idaho is never going to let “nature run it’s course.” The people of Idaho have a very close relationship with nature and most feel they are a part of it and as such, they are actively going to take part in it, much to the displeasure of most here.

    -The wolf and the human rancher/hunter/etc niches overlap far to much and the wolf is going to lose most of the time as they are in Idaho.

    -Boycott away! Idaho is still going to market their products to someone. And, most people here(Idaho) do not like to share this place(Idaho) so they do not really want you to visit anyway. Personally, I do want you to visit, but if you must avoid me and others – so be it, we will find a way to deal with it.

    -Science and education are the only ways we are going to deal with this world’s problems and issues. Science is going to have to find a way to deal with the behaviors and characteristics of humans. We(humans) have hunted for thousands and thousands of years and we(humans) are going to continue to do so even if we have to “control” parts of our environment.

    So,
    1,500 wolves is to many and 4,000 wolves is ridiculous. Idaho is going to persist with wolves, just not to the liking of most here.

    JB – “persecute” GOOD GRIEF!!!

    Mike – Has anyone accused you of being “bigoted”?

    • avatar JB says:

      Persecute – (1) Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of their race or political or religious beliefs. (2) Harass or annoy (someone) persistently.

      Dan: Both of these definitions of “persecute” describe what is happening to wolves in Idaho. If you’d like, I could provide you with a host of quotes from Idaho’s politicians and the state’s own fish and game commission that are clearly indicative of “hostility” toward wolves. And they’ve gone way beyond simply harassing or annoying wolves…they are attempting to cut the populations by 75+%. So yeah, persecute works for me. What would you call it?

      • avatar Dan says:

        I would call it unfitting and goading. I am accustomed to an academic eloquence in your posts.

        • avatar JB says:

          I appreciate the complement, but I really can’t think of a better term to describe Idaho’s approach. I know of no other trust asset that is purposefully managed at its minimum level, so very near the threshold of endangerment.

          I understand that the word “persecute” implies intentional hostility, so let’s take a brief look at what Idaho’s commissioner said about the species:

          “Wolves are stone cold killers, do what they were born to do, and the damage that these killing machines are inflicting on Idaho’s wildlife is unacceptable, unsustainable and must stop.”

          This quote comes from a 5 August letter to sportsmen asking them to email their Congressmen to ask for a “political” fix to the Molloy decision. This letter demonstrates intolerance for wolves and an intent to minimize wolf populations. Idaho’s goal of minimizing wolf populations also is not well-justified. Recent estimates suggest the state as 2-4 times the number of cougars, another obligate carnivore that feeds primarily on ungulates with similar energy requirements. I’m not suggesting that cougar populations should be more aggressively harvested, but rather, pointing out the hypocrisy in claiming that ~800 wolves is unnacceptable, when you have 2-4 times that number of cougars on the landscape, and they’re eating the same thing.

          You can call it whatever you like, but persecution works pretty well for me.

          • avatar Dan says:

            JB,

            “Wolves are stone cold killers, do what they were born to do, and the damage that these killing machines are inflicting on Idaho’s wildlife is unacceptable, unsustainable and must stop.”

            If he had written this statement something like, “Wolves are very efficient at reducing the ungulate herds to levels that are adversely affecting harvest opportunity of big game. The rate at which ungulates are being consumed by hunters and wolves is unsustainable and must be slowed” would this had changed your view of the commissioner? Or, is just that wolves are not going to be allowed to fill their entire carrying capacity and severely limit human opportunity that has you upset at the commission? In which case this would be just about values.
            Cougars and human hunters persisted at harvest levels that was acceptable and sustainable. It wasn’t until the wolf came onto the landscape that harvest opportunities began to shrink.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++Cougars and human hunters persisted at harvest levels that was acceptable and sustainable. It wasn’t until the wolf came onto the landscape that harvest opportunities began to shrink.++

              “Harvest”? Were you out picking apples?

            • avatar Dan says:

              No Mike,

              Despite what Disney taught you, harvest can mean kill for food. As in kill deer and elk for food.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              Using measured language would certainly have helped. Your quote does not exhibit clear hostile intent, and an utter disdain for wolves (as the above quote does). But words aren’t worth much, especially coming out of the mouth of a politician. I measure the commission’s true hostility by the goal they have set for wolf populations. Here their stated intent is to reduce wolves to the lowest population that they feel is legally defensible, and this approach will be used across every management unit, despite the fact that there are only a few units in which they can show any measurable effect on elk populations (and the effects, when accounting for other factors, are hardly dramatic).

              The words show intent and open hostility, but it is the actions that are truly worrisome.

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB
              “Here their stated intent is to reduce wolves to the lowest population that they feel is legally defensible, and this approach will be used across every management unit, despite the fact that there are only a few units in which they can show any measurable effect on elk populations (and the effects, when accounting for other factors, are hardly dramatic).”

              IDFG is not managing wolves across the board as you state here. The WMUs around the park and across the southern FC have quotas. The way IDFG is managing wolves is similar to every other critter they manage. They have general seasons in some units and controlled seasons in others. When the IDFG has a population that is above their goals they have more liberal limits, as they have done for the wolf. The IDFG is simply trying to provide maximum opportunity for the hunters in Idaho while accommodating ESA with the wolves. Their actions, to me, show no malice. Their directive is maximum opportunity and that’s what they are doing. If the wolf had come onto the scene and not lead to an unsustainable elk harvests at the previous season limits we would not even be having this discussion. As you can recall, the IDFG was not even involved in wolf management to begin with. They only got involved once, I believe, they were forced to and that was when elk harvests became unsustainable. Their hand was forced because maximum opportunity was being diminished. They, like me, could see the writing on the wall. The Lolo elk herds dropped, then to the north the St. Joe and Coeur’d Alene herds were next. And, this is precisely what’s happening. The cow/calf ratio in the St. Joe and CDA were extremely unsustainable this year and we had an easy winter. This year will be the first time in my life or my dad’s life that there will be no cow season in the St. Joe.
              I definitely now believe your issues are value issues and not scientific issues. The IDFG is only walking the line between opportunity and politics(ESA). At this point, even if ESA did not exist I think IDFG would protect a population of sustainable wolves. The equation here is simple, wolves + bears + cougars + humans + natural mortality + misc. = sustainable elk herds that people find acceptable. I have found that that number is about a 15-20% human success rate. With the wolf unchecked the St. Joe harvest rates have dipped well under 10%. IDFG’s solution is simple, in my eyes, they are going to maintain just a few packs up north in the Panhandle and many more in the southern FC and around the park that fits the feds 150+ numbers. In their eyes they are making the most stakeholders happy – the greater good.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              To claim that that they are managing wolves like any other animal simply is untrue–no other game animal is purposefully managed at or so near its minimum viable population. In fact, Idaho’s goal is ONLY (arguably) sustainable because it relies upon wolf populations in Montana and Wyoming. What other species do you know of that is purposefully held below what would otherwise be sustainable because they [the state] can rely upon neighboring state populations? I could make a strong legal argument that this, in and of its self, is a violation of the public trust; but that is an argument for a different day.

              You’ll also notice that their is no harvest limit in southern Idaho, where they have very few wolves. Why would you have unlimited harvest on a non-existent population except to locally exterminate it?

              “If the wolf had come onto the scene and not lead to an unsustainable elk harvests at the previous season limits we would not even be having this discussion.”

              Probably not. Then again, wolf population expansion occurred alongside a relatively dramatic shift increase in elk populations. Regionally speaking, despite wolves, bear, cougars, and attempts to reduce elk through hunting, elk populations are generally at or near all-time highs. Hunters have grown accustomed to these high numbers and some are now demanding that they be maintained–whatever the cost to other species/habitat. The same thing happens here in the Midwest. No matter how many deer we have there are always too few for some hunters, and too many for some in the agricultural community.

              “The equation here is simple, wolves + bears + cougars + humans + natural mortality + misc. = sustainable elk herds that people find acceptable.”

              We are in complete agreement here; their goal is to maximize elk production. The issue is that wolves are being singled amongst the various sources of mortality for aggressive control. As I noted before, there are now 2-4 times as many cougars in Idaho as wolves, but cougars are being managed responsibly. Likewise bear populations are an order of magnitude greater and research generally shows a much greater impact on neonates–yet bear populations are being managed responsibly. Wolves that are being singled out not because of a greater impact, but because the people in power in Idaho don’t like the people that put them there.

              “I definitely now believe your issues are value issues and not scientific issues.”

              They are, of course, both. I value the institution of wildlife management, and hate to see it dragged through the mud. I value the sport of hunting and the service it provides and I fear the actions of some hunters in the NRMs (and more recently the WGLs) will cast a shadow on the sport for years to come–and alienate many non-hunting conservationists in the process. I also value democracy and the notion that our government exists to serve all its constituents, not simply the ones who line their pockets with cash. Finally, I value *WILDlife*, in all of its beauty and diversity (and yes, I value animals as game–but not only as game).

              In terms of the science, there are many lingering questions that exist at the interface of science and law–and these questions are extremely intriguing to me. The MOST relevant questions, to my mind are (1) what constitutes a minimum viable population of wolves, and (2) what obligation do states have with respect to public trust wildlife resources. When both of these questions are answered, then we will be able to establish a true “floor” for Idaho’s wolf population.

            • avatar Jay says:

              Dan, you said “The way IDFG is managing wolves is similar to every other critter they manage.”

              Tell me what other big game species in Idaho has a 10-animal bag limit? Your assertion is patently false.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              Since your concerned with my personal views, I should also note that I am NOT opposed to the hunting of wolves, nor even the trapping of wolves (though I personally find the latter extremely…distasteful). Regardless, I don’t participate in these discussions to force my values on others; rather, I would be happy were wolves managed “like any other species”. That is, like the valuable, public trust asset that they are.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              JB -
              “…Idaho’s goal is ONLY (arguably) sustainable because it relies upon wolf populations in Montana and Wyoming.”
              Could you expand on that prediction?

              “Why would you have unlimited harvest on a non-existent population except to locally exterminate it?”
              The Southern Idaho wolf season bag limits and other population management objectives recognize that Southern Idaho has virtually no habitat suitable for sustained wolf presence. The level of human activity and potential for wolf depredations and human conflict make this portion of the state unsuitable for a sustained wolf population. In any event, wolves are being exterminated by this management plan. As you note, wolves are largely absent in this part of the state already, with the exception of the occasional appearance of dispersing wolves.
              “Then again, wolf population expansion occurred alongside a relatively dramatic shift increase in elk populations. Regionally speaking, despite wolves, bear, cougars, and attempts to reduce elk through hunting, elk populations are generally at or near all-time highs.”
              This seriously mischaracterizes the status of elk and the impact of wolf predation on Idaho elk populations. By 2008, the Idaho elk population (across the state) had declined by 20%, a total of 125,000 to 103,000 over the previous 15 years. Almost allof that decline continues – in those portions of the state where wolves have established stable populations. The scientific evidence from long term research conducted in the Lolo Zone and supporting research in the Sawtooth Zone and contemporary elk monitoring research in other wolf inhabited elk management zones strongly points to wolf predation as the most important factor limiting elk numbers well below the capacity of elk habitat to support.
              Lions and bears are an important additional factor limiting elk production and recruitment. Lions and bears are also managed to balance the their resource benefits with elk resource benefits. The Lolo Zone provides another relevant example. Lions and bears are also managed to balance their numbers to minimize elk predation impacts, in the Lolo Zone and in other areas of the state.

            • avatar JB says:

              “…Idaho’s goal is ONLY (arguably) sustainable because it relies upon wolf populations in Montana and Wyoming.”
              Could you expand on that prediction?

              Certainly; though it isn’t a prediction, merely an observation. The population objectives set for recovery were derived from Fritts & Carbyn’s (1995) analysis of what constitutes a minimum viable wolf population and a survey of 25 wolf biologists. Fritts & Carbyn suggested that a population of 100+ wolves and a reserve of several thousand square miles “may be necessary to maintain a viable population in complete isolation”; however, they admitted that, “clearly no one really knows the MVP of wolves or the size and design that can guarantee long-term survival”. When biologists were surveyed, 7 of 25 thought that 100-150 wolves was too few, while another 6 thought such a population was “marginal”. The analysis, contained within the 1994 EIS goes on to conclude that, “it is fairly clear that ten breeding pairs in isolation will not comprise a ‘viable’ population…thirty or more breeding pairs comprising some 300+ wolves in a meta-population with genetic exchange between sub-populations should have a high probability of long-term persistence”.

              The key here is the author’s conclusion that the viability of 100-150 wolves is questionable; and that the population becomes viable when it functions as part of a broader meta-population with genetic exchange between sub-population and a total population consisting of 30+ breeding pairs. Thus, Idaho’s goal of 150-200? wolves is arguably only sustainable because it relies upon wolves in the broader meta-population (i.e. wolves from Wyoming and Montana). Put another way, Idaho’s management plan allows its resident wolf population to be reduced to a level that is not viable (and therefore not sustainable) on its own, relying on the larger meta population to act a source for wolves.

            • avatar JB says:

              “Why would you have unlimited harvest on a non-existent population except to locally exterminate it?”
              The Southern Idaho wolf season bag limits and other population management objectives recognize that Southern Idaho has virtually no habitat suitable for sustained wolf presence. The level of human activity and potential for wolf depredations and human conflict make this portion of the state unsuitable for a sustained wolf population.

              Mark: I think you’ve essentially just repeated what I said. The goal is in fact local extirpation of wolves under the justification that “this portion of the state is unsuitable for a sustained wolf population.” Unfortunately, you and Dan have both missed the larger point, which is that by promoting heavy wolf harvest statewide IDF&G has sent a clear message that in no place–even where there are very few wolves–are wolf populations currently at “acceptable” levels.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              As per Idaho HJM005,which is Idaho’s “official” stand on wolves, there is no acceptable population of wolves anywhere in the state.

            • avatar JB says:

              By 2008, the Idaho elk population (across the state) had declined by 20%, a total of 125,000 to 103,000 over the previous 15 years. Almost allof that decline continues – in those portions of the state where wolves have established stable populations. The scientific evidence from long term research conducted in the Lolo Zone and supporting research in the Sawtooth Zone and contemporary elk monitoring research in other wolf inhabited elk management zones strongly points to wolf predation as the most important factor limiting elk numbers well below the capacity of elk habitat to support.

              Mark: Long term (over the past 40 years) elk populations are up regionally–meaning there are plenty of elk to hunt in then NRMs. You’ve pointed to declines in two management units where wolf-caused mortality is believed to be high relative to other sources of mortality. Let’s assume that wolves are the primary cause of population decline in these units–why then are wolf populations being aggressively reduced across the entire state? Again, your agency is sending a clear message that in no place are wolf populations currently at acceptable levels.

              By the way, I’d like you to take this question back to your biologists:

              I would like to know if they honestly believe that Idaho’s ~2,000-3,000 cougars (an obligate carnivore that primarily eat ungulates) and ~20,000 black bears (which are generally hard on neonates) are killing fewer elk than ~1,000 wolves.

              I’d also like to know how 2,000-3,000 cougars can be an acceptable population while even 500 wolves is too many? What criteria is/are determining IDF&G’s assessment of what constitutes an acceptable carnivore population?

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB
              “I would like to know if they honestly believe that Idaho’s ~2,000-3,000 cougars (an obligate carnivore that primarily eat ungulates) and ~20,000 black bears (which are generally hard on neonates) are killing fewer elk than ~1,000 wolves.

              I’d also like to know how 2,000-3,000 cougars can be an acceptable population while even 500 wolves is too many? What criteria is/are determining IDF&G’s assessment of what constitutes an acceptable carnivore population?”

              I think you are over thinking this.(As academics quite often do..but those stories are for a later time) These numbers are acceptable because the elk harvest at the time was acceptable. It really is that simple.
              Wait until the new data comes out on the St. Joe (units 7 & 9). The St. Joe is directly north of the Lolo. Elk numbers are dropping quickly. The herd surplus is nothing of what it once was. Calf/ratio are completely unsustainable. The only thing that has changed dramatically in the last 5 years is wolves.
              So, I guess if you want an easy answer…it is, last in – first out. That is wolves were the last predator on the scene so they’re the first being taken out. I might mention that IDFG has allowed a 2nd bear tag this year on these units (7&9).

              And please don’t tell me the numbers don’t show it. I walk these mountains all the time. I see large amounts of wolf sign that were never there 5 years ago. Half of the winter kills show signs of predator kill i.e. the marrow in the bones is healthy marrow. I’ve cracked the bones myself. We hear the wolves from town, we see the kills. I don’t know what else you need to hear to prove that wolves are responsible of the unsustainable downward trend of St. Joe elk herds and it is forcing IDFG to take drastic changes to the human harvest. And, that just does not sit well with the public from Bonners Ferry to Riggins. The IDFG is highly responsive to locals….It really is that simple.

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB,

              I would like to hear your solution for allowing a larger number of wolves while increasing the human harvest back to when there was actually a cow harvest i.e. a true meat hunt, while maintaining a sustainable elk herd. Are you clever enough for such a solution?
              What would you do if you were a IDFG manager?

            • avatar JB says:

              “I think you are over thinking this.(As academics quite often do..but those stories are for a later time) These numbers are acceptable because the elk harvest at the time was acceptable. It really is that simple.”

              Dan: So the implication is that wolves are only acceptable insomuch as they have zero effect on elk harvest? I disagree. Some hunters will ALWAYS complain when populations decrease–no matter the cause.

              “The only thing that has changed dramatically in the last 5 years is wolves. So, I guess if you want an easy answer…it is, last in – first out. That is wolves were the last predator on the scene so they’re the first being taken out.”

              First, given the variability in winters over the past several years, I seriously doubt your claim that wolves are the “only” thing that has changed. Regardless, even if everything else were held constant, that doesn’t mean that wolves are solely to blame for localized population declines. Recent research suggests that climate (rainfall) is a strong determinant of elk populations, while other research has shown areas with multiple large carnivores can suppress elk populations.

              “What would you do if you were a IDFG manager?”

              There’s no perfect formula, Dan. But here’s a good start:

              (1) Start by determining what is an MVP and make sure your population goal is adequately above this level to ensure the persistence of the trust asset. This, in my view, is the most fundamental duty of the state/trustee. (2) Determine the local acceptability of a species (based upon ecologically and socially-relevant management units), and the factors that make the species more or less acceptable. (3) In the case of a species that potentially negatively impact other species, determine if and where that species is negatively affecting other species, as well as other sources that impact these populations. Update management objectives for all relevant species, keeping in mind that some “levers” are easier to pull than others, and stakeholders’ desires are secondary to the maintenance of public trust assets. (4) Consult ALL stakeholders throughout the process; if the potential for conflict is high, employ multi-stakeholder, discourse-based processes; i.e., involve all interest groups with biologists and relevant data when setting management objectives. In some cases (as with deer in Minnesota recently), this can be done for each management unit. (Rinse and repeat).

            • avatar Dan says:

              (1) Start by determining what is an MVP and make sure your population goal is adequately above this level to ensure the persistence of the trust asset. This, in my view, is the most fundamental duty of the state/trustee. (2) Determine the local acceptability of a species (based upon ecologically and socially-relevant management units), and the factors that make the species more or less acceptable. (3) In the case of a species that potentially negatively impact other species, determine if and where that species is negatively affecting other species, as well as other sources that impact these populations. Update management objectives for all relevant species, keeping in mind that some “levers” are easier to pull than others, and stakeholders’ desires are secondary to the maintenance of public trust assets. (4) Consult ALL stakeholders throughout the process; if the potential for conflict is high, employ multi-stakeholder, discourse-based processes; i.e., involve all interest groups with biologists and relevant data when setting management objectives. In some cases (as with deer in Minnesota recently), this can be done for each management unit. (Rinse and repeat).

              So, you haven’t told me what you’d do on the ground. You have elk herds that are trending downwards in multiple units. You’ve had to cut cow seasons. You have scoping meets that are attracting hundreds of angry hunters. Your CO’s are taking lots of heat for the decreasing elk herds. Revenues are dropping. The governor is angry because he doesn’t want to spend general funds on your programs. What do you today in 2012? Your previous post is only telling me you’re consulting people and taking surveys. People are demanding action and all you’re doing is talking about it and making determinations? You’re a smart guy and you’ve studied this for years, you have data, what are you doing in 2012,2013 etc???

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              You’re fixated on the end, but my data says the means is more important. The way you deal with anger stakeholders isn’t to come down from on high with proclamations, but to involve them intimately in the management process. Consult all stakeholders, make them aware of legal constraints, put the best available science and data in their hands, make them part of the process, and (usually) reasonable alternatives will emerge. So, to be clear, I can’t give you specific “on the ground” management recommendations, because what I would do would vary from unit to unit and would depend upon objectives set by a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process. I know that answer won’t satisfy you, but that’s the approach I’d take.

            • avatar JB says:

              And BTW, elk herds “trending downward” isn’t necessarily a problem. Populations naturally fluctuate–thus, we should expect them to go down as often as they go up. Unfortunately, your fixation on maximizing elk populations for harvest apparently prevents you from seeing this.

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB,
              “And BTW, elk herds “trending downward” isn’t necessarily a problem. Populations naturally fluctuate–thus, we should expect them to go down as often as they go up. Unfortunately, your fixation on maximizing elk populations for harvest apparently prevents you from seeing this.”

              I’m not going to get into my statistical training but I can assure you it’s at a point I understand variance and trends. I would like to think I can sort out natural variance due to winter storms and other natural variables that have been present on the landscape for decades. I think your discounting my experience to much. I am not fixated on producing elk. I fixated at solving real problems with real solutions that work while maintaining a civil discourse. You approach these problems from the standpoint of an observer from afar and as an academic. I think IDFG and I view these issues similarly. We both live and work here and have to answer to people in our communities. And, as a manager decisions need to be made today, not infinitely put off. And although your posts are interesting to read I think they are more theoretical and have limited value on-the-ground in real time.
              I think if you were a manager and the elk season were reduced bulls only and the success rates dropped to below 5% and you’re talking about stakeholders and intrinsic values and blah blah blah, you would be in the unemployment line thinking about the good you could have done over the long run instead of getting caught up in short term precedence issues.

            • avatar JB says:

              “I would like to think I can sort out natural variance due to winter storms and other natural variables that have been present on the landscape for decades. I think your discounting my experience to much.”

              I’d invite you to re-read that post and see if you can tell me what is wrong? Hint: It has to do with the definition of the word “natural”.

              —-

              You invited me–goaded is more like it–to express how I would go about managing the social conflict surrounding wolves, and I’ve given you my answer. It’s an answer that is backed by substantial on-the-ground experience that involves controversies over how resources are to be managed.

              Your assertion that, were I to use this approach I would be out of a job in Idaho is not evidence that your/Idaho’s approach is better; rather, I consider it damning testimony regarding the sad state of affairs in wildlife management in the West.

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB,
              I don’t know. In the end, Idaho(IDFG) is doing what I expected them to do from the beginning. They are going live up to what the feds wanted 150 and 15 bps. IDFG has listened to their clients and are working within the framework the feds set and providing ample opportunity, which is what their agency was set up to do. A lot can be said for getting things done. Although you maintain things are messed up, I think for once, the system worked because when IDFG is finished there’s going to wolves in Idaho and decent opportunity to hunt elk. And, I sincerely believe that.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              Put simply it’s about responsible management. The first responsibility of management is to ensure that the public’s asset is preserved in perpetuity. In fact, this goal is acknowledged in Idaho statute. You don’t ensure the preservation of an asset by killing it down to below a minimum viable population. If any other game species were managed this way, hunters would flip–and rightfully so. You say that managers are being responsive to their “clients”; certainly they are being responsive to the most vocal wolf critics in the hunting community–but these folks are not their only clients. All citizens have an equal stake in wildlife resources.

          • avatar Dan says:

            JB,

            Once the wolf numbers are at a level that will return the elk herds to sustainable harvest levels with ample opportunity for hunters, the number of wolf tags available to each person is going to drop to one or two in areas wolves are bound to over populate….I guarantee it…The only reason the tags are where they are at is because of the unsustainable trends in the elk herds. People here(N. Idaho) simply value elk more than wolves. It’s truly this simple. There is no malice nor any vendetta nor any conspiracy.
            The issue here is truly, really a matter of values.
            Most people here(wildlife news) think wolves are more important than human elk harvest and would like to see more of the surplus elk go to wolves. The IDFG has a directive that they must provide opportunity for hunters; coupled with public pressure, their current course of action is essentially their only choice. They must stay within the federal guidelines and that’s what IDFG is doing.
            Let’s say the current climate exists, where wolves are delisted and the control is in state hands. Let’s say they take a more conservative approach and allow only one tag and do not allow trapping. What do you really think the climate would be like here in Idaho. Well, having been born here(N. Idaho) into a community that lives, breathes and thinks hunting year round, I can provide you a little insight. It would be on the verge of anarchy. I truly believe the IDFG is looking out for wolves and the public’s greater good to the extent that what they’re doing is in essence their only option. People here just have different values than many others in the country. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it is what it is. You guys need to drop the ugly arguments because I really think you are wrong. The IDFG is really not full of wolf hating persecutors.

            I might add I owe the IDFG no favors and I truly am writing what I really see from this situation.

            • avatar JB says:

              “I truly believe the IDFG is looking out for wolves and the public’s greater good to the extent that what they’re doing is in essence their only option…You guys need to drop the ugly arguments because I really think you are wrong. The IDFG is really not full of wolf hating persecutors.”

              Dan, I appreciate your perspective and agree with you on several points. I absolutely agree that IDF&G likely sees its actions as “the only option”, though I very much disagree that this will promote “the greater good”. I also agree that Idahoan’s (in general) likely value wolves less than the rest of the country, and I agree that there is no objectively “right” way of valuing any particular species. However, I very much disagree with your characterization of my arguments as “ugly”. I have gone out of my way to be very precise in the language I use; I choose my words carefully. And I can assure you that I’m not some animal rights activist who never wants to see a wolf killed (ask Mike, he’ll testify on my behalf…or against me, as it may be, LOL!). All I’m looking for is for the state to manage wolves “like any other game species”. No more, no less.

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              “I’m looking for is for the state to manage wolves “like any other game species”. No more, no less.”

              Which has a snowball’s chance in hell so long as the livestock industry dichotomy is running the state as it presently is in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB,
              The ugly argument is “persecute.” It has no place in this discussion. It conjures up images that do not relate to wildlife management. I think it is a low blow and is why I have termed it “ugly.” It’s the only word you’ve ever used that I disapproved of and quite frankly, I was shocked when I read it from your post.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              Dan,
              The ugly argument is “persecute”? How about the accurate argument is “persecute”. That is exactly what is happening and JB did a good job of explaining that. While most of us here don’t live in N. ID, maybe if you got out of N. ID for some time you would come to see that JB is being accurate and truthful.

            • avatar Dan says:

              Jon,
              What makes you think I’ve never been out of N. Idaho?

          • avatar Dan says:

            JB,
            I went to a seminar a few weeks ago that included Ed Bangs. Ed claims the numbers Idaho and the Feds approve of (150,15) are viable.
            Your claim is that all citizens have an equal claim to all wildlife. So how do sort out the claims? Who has first right and so on? Many of these claims would be at odds with each other. The ones at odds are certainly in conflict and the law does not like conflict, in fact, the law is set up to minimize and resolve conflict. How do you mediate this? There has to be a system of order of right…

            • avatar Elk275 says:

              My question is who are “all citizens” the citizens of the state or all citizens of the United States.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              I agree that if all three states manage for 150+ wolves, the META-population is likely viable (though viability estimates are biased by risk tolerance; so people who are less tolerant of the possibility of extinction will demand lower risk and more wolves and people with higher risk tolerance won’t be as concerned about extinction and…well, you get the picture). However, I would be willing to bet that there are few geneticists who would view 150 individuals as a viable population. My point (above) is that purposefully managing a game species at or below population viability shows that IDF&G is NOT managing wolves ‘like any other species’. As for mediating the conflict, my last few posts about how I would handle wolf management are straight from a conflict management textbook.

              Elk:

              The beneficiaries of the public trust are the citizens of the state–and only those individuals.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              “I saw a beautiful mature male yellow headed black bird two days ago and it made my week”

              Dan – Explain the difference?

              I’ve seen wolves 3 times in the last 16 years (in my neck of the woods, probably not much different their your neck of the woods) and those sightings not only made my day…. but my week AND my year, given the “they’re everywhere, they’re everywhere” mentality so prevalent out here in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

              “There has to be a system of order of right”

              Ain’t gonna happen as long as 3% of the livestock industry and 10% of the hunting community out here in the west, have their way/say (via powerful lobbyists & the obvious sense of entitlement, ingrained over the past century)

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB
              I think I have a clear picture of your plan. I think your plan would work. But, I’m hesitate to buy in because – Your trust based approach clearly dictates the state(or assets of the state) have a higher value/importance than the stakeholders(assets of the citizens). To me this is contradictory to the basic freedoms of liberty. Saying the states assets come first in essence says the state is more important than individuals of the state. This could be seen as the people of the state serving the state rather than the state serving the people. I see my elk tag as privilege based on right but you see my tag something other that is available to me only when the needs of the state are meet before mine. It takes the burden off the state. I think the state needs to maintain the burden to it’s citizens. The state needs to exist to ensure my assets are protected not the other way around. Your management has to much marxism for me.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              A couple of clarifications that I hope will clear things up…

              First, the State (as in the government) does not own anything; rather, they act as a trustee (like a portfolio manager) that manages wildlife (the assets) on the behalf of citizens (the beneficiaries). So to be clear, the government itself does not own wildlife–the people (all the people, not just hunters) are equal owners; the government’s role is merely to manage and conserve wildlife on the public’s behalf. The most basic duty of any trustee is to preserve the corpus of the trust–that is, to ensure that the public’s assets are available for the State’s citizens (and future citizens). Much of this is explained by the US Supreme Court in Geer v. Connecticut (1896), which I would encourage you to read: http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/161/519/case.html.

              As for the conflict management approach I mentioned earlier, it is already used in the West by the Forest Service and has even been used in the past by your own IDF&G. There are always sideboards on using such processes, including both statutory and common law obligations.

              Here is a concise explanation from a case that went before the Illinois Supreme Court and was cited in Geer:

              “…to hunt and kill game is a boon or privilege, granted either expressly or impliedly by the sovereign authority, not a right inherent in each individual, and consequently nothing is taken away from the individual when he is denied the privilege, at stated seasons, of hunting and killing game. It is perhaps accurate to say that the ownership of the sovereign authority is in trust for all the people of the state, and hence, by implication, it is the duty of the legislature to enact such laws as will best preserve the subject of the trust and secure its beneficial use in the future to the people of the state.”

            • avatar Dan says:

              JB,
              Excuse my absence, I’m on a 7 day bender in the St. Joe woods. The weather is great. Above average snowpack but the hot weather is going to assure the river returns to average before average..Trust me it works, don’t think about it.. I’ve been camping at the snow line…Seeing ok numbers of elk and a few moose. Lots of wolf sign…no sightings yet..Found a kingfisher nest hole that hasn’t been there in years past, very exciting….glacier lilys are beautiful..Had my annual trillium salad mmmm good stuff…Snuck down to the fly shop to check my e-mail… We’re actually hunting bear but most won’t approve here…
              Good justification but I don’t buy the behalf of the citizens deal…the state likes to act independent of the citizens…

        • avatar Nancy says:

          So Dan, how did this comment from RB settle with you?

          “Rancher Bob equated the alleged persecution of ranchers to the genocide of the Jews”

          I mean we all know (from COUNTLESS articles provided on this site and other sites) that raising livestock in the west is, and has been, counterproductive…… YET, taxpayers continue to prop up this way of life thru subsidies and cheap grazing fees, even though it takes a huge toll on the destruction of pulbic lands, wilderness areas AND wildlife. All the while, contributing what? Less than 6% to the meat industry in this country?

          Maybe it is time to start funding and retiring some of these “private” lands (google ranches for sale – Montana – Idaho – Wyoming) while the opportunity is still there to reverse the destruction and save habitat.

          • avatar Dan says:

            Nancy,
            You can make almost endless arguments that industry is counterproductive. I believe the answers lie in engineering. I think we have to engineer, or in other words, allow science to solve our problems.
            Essentially every industry is subsidized so that argument is moot.
            The whole RB thing is babble and needs no comments.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              Dan persecute and slaughter are two good words for Idaho’s treatment of wolvess. And you are correct, they are ugly words. But its not the rest of America using the word presecute that is ugly. Its the perscecution and slaughter of these animals that is downright, ugly, uneccessary, ignorant and intolerable. Outside of Idaho we see persecution, Idaho has their hearts, mind and eyes closed.

            • avatar WM says:

              Louise,

              If ID, MT or any other state knocks back its wolf population to what it deems is sufficient to meet agreed ESA obligations as stated under FWS rules promulgated under the ESA, and then the state controls/manages for a sustained population at that level, would that still be “persecution” or would it be “management”?

              And, when I use the term “management” I mean keeping the wolf population at a level consistent with its desire to control the range and population, in concert with other predators and prey species objectives, and consistent with its agreed obligation under federal or other state law.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              WM “I mean keeping the wolf population at a level consistent with its desire to control the range and population, in concert with other predators and prey species objectives, and consistent with its agreed obligation under federal or other state law”.

              Their desire to control the range and population in concert with other predators…..where is their managemnet of wolves in concert with other species? It is not at all.

              How about you answer a question. How do you define persecution and slaughter? If you think the states are managing wolves responsibly and these animals are not persecuted and being slaughtered, then we just flat out disagree. And I have no desire to get drawn into some pointless argument about agreed upon objectives under the ESA. That recovery plan was compromised from the start and I already know we disagree on that.
              You are looking to draw me into a pointless and ridiculous argument. Is patently obvious that the states are treating wolves differently and if taking down more than 1/2 of a population that took 17 years to develop isn’t slaughter I don’t know what is. And traps should be outlawed. Its a disgrace in this country.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              TO WM, JB wrote “My point (above) is that purposefully managing a game species at or below population viability shows that IDF&G is NOT managing wolves ‘like any other species’.”
              you can argue with JB today.

            • avatar JB says:

              WM: It’s pretty clear that IDF&G’s population objective is simply a way of “flexing their political muscles” to show off for their, as Dan put it, “clients”. There is simply no way that 200, 300, or even 500 wolves kill anywhere near the amount of elk as 2,000-3,000 cougar and 20,000 bears. You know it; I know it; Mark knows it. The management goal set by IDF&G is simply political retribution for wolf reintroduction and the extended listing (as you yourself have said before). Instead of arresting the “predator policy pendulum” by taking a moderate approach, they’ve chosen to keep the conflict high by giving it a push as it passes by.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              JB -
              This thread seems to be mostly about managing wolves as, or not, like other Idaho wildlife species. Obviously that means something specific to you, Louise and others – but I suggest that it isn’t as simple as managing wolves for similar population levels or objectives as for example – elk. Elk are not managed for the same objectives as are mule deer, cougars, bears or grouse. It is more meaningful to ask: are wolves managed to achieve the same fundamental conservation principles? YES; are wolves then managed to achieve wildlife resource benefits desired by Idaho stakeholders? YES; have those stakeholder desires been vetted by a thorough public review and involvement process? YES
              Within those public trust resource governance/management guidelines, wolves are being managed no differently than elk, and yes – lions and bears. If you mean to suggest that Idaho does not manage lion and bear populations to minimize their impact on elk production and recruitment – you would be wrong. Lion harvest has been liberalized for years across the state to reduce potential predation impacts on mule deer populations and in the Lolo Zone both lion and bear populations managed to reduce their numbers for the same reasons as are wolves. If wolf predation, in the presence of lion and bear predation, is the principle factor holding elk numbers substantially below habitat potential – as has been documented in the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones, and indicated in the Middle Fork Zone and other large geographic areas – managing the wolf population to minimize that effect on another valuable wildlife resource – elk, is appropriate and responsible.
              Last, you suggested in an earlier post that because elk numbers are up in other large areas of the NRMR that should constitute adequate elk hunting opportunity and therefor argue against measures to improve elk hunting where wolf predation has substantially reduced the public benefit. That particular wildlife management preference does not enjoy the support of a plurality of the residents of the NRMR states. The evidence is mounting that wolf predation is indeed reducing elk hunting opportunity where wolves are well established. If elk hunting opportunity can be increased by managing for lower wolf numbers and state stakeholders desire and support those management objectives – on what grounds would you argue to the contrary?

            • avatar JB says:

              Mark:

              You’ve simply pointed out ways in which wolf management is similar to the management of other species (there are, of course, many), while I have focused on the fundamental difference–no other game species is purposefully managed at or below what biologists believe is viable.

              Again: Idaho’s management plan allows its resident wolf population to be reduced to a level that is not viable (and therefore not sustainable) on its own, relying on the larger meta population to act a source for wolves. No other species is managed this way.

              ——–

              My focus on cougars and bears was merely to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the claim that wolves are being managed “like any other species”. I am aware of “liberalized” cougar harvests (which is the trend in other states [e.g., Utah] as well). But even with liberal harvest your agency estimates 2,000-3,000 cougars, while your management objective for wolves is an order of magnitude less–and again both species are obligate carnivores, both prey on ungulates, and cougars have slightly higher (on average) energy requirements. Simply put, there is no way that 200 wolves will kill near as many elk as 2000 cougars–yet, your agency’s goal is 150+ wolves.

              Permit me a demonstration: If you liberally figure 20 elk/wolf/year; a population of 200 wolves will kill 4,000 elk. That number is obtained when 2,000 cougars kill 2 elk/animal/year, and it would be obtained when a rate of 0.2 elk/bear/year with a population of 20,000 bears.

              If IDF&G is truly concerned with maximizing elk hunting opportunities, why fixate on wolves? That is, why is the objective for wolves set an order of magnitude below cougar and two orders of magnitude below bears? The math just doesn’t add up here?

              —-

              “Last, you suggested in an earlier post that because elk numbers are up in other large areas of the NRMR that should constitute adequate elk hunting opportunity and therefor argue against measures to improve elk hunting where wolf predation has substantially reduced the public benefit.”

              That’s not what I suggested at all. I suggested that because elk populations and elk hunting opportunities are “robust” throughout the West, aggressive wolf population reduction should focus on areas where there has been a measurable impact–yet, wolf harvest has been “liberalized” everywhere–even where wolf populations are low and elk hunting opportunities are substantial.

            • avatar JB says:

              “If elk hunting opportunity can be increased by managing for lower wolf numbers and state stakeholders desire and support those management objectives – on what grounds would you argue to the contrary?”

              I would argue that the state has a public trust obligation to first maintain a minimum viable population of wolves in order to ensure this trust asset is maintained into the future. This means setting a goal above what geneticists believe represents a viable population, and then setting other management objectives accordingly. Relying upon adjacent states as a “source” to ensure viability of your population is irresponsible management–especially given that Idaho has the ability to maintain a viable population on its own.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              JB –
              I agree that the PTD is a good way to assess wolf management objectives – in any state. The question then becomes: is the state adequately conserving that public resource for current and future generations, while the needs, desires and expectations of the current generation of state wildlife stakeholders? I maintain that is exactly what Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have accomplished with their respective state management programs and population objectives.
              The NRMR DPS has been the designated metapopulation since the program to re-establish wolves in the NRMR began. The value of genetic connectivity over a geographic range broader than one state (including Canada) is obvious. Each NRMR state management plan accommodates and accomplishes that metapopulation objective and in so doing fulfills their respective PTD responsibilities. I do not see a conflict or abrogation of duty to the PTD by managing for these population objectives that also meet other PTD obligations – i.e. manage the public trust wildlife resources of each state to meet the needs, desires and expectations of state stakeholders.
              In the same way, managing wolves for these population objectives is NOT at odds with lion and bear management objectives. Those respective species management objectives meet the test of the PTD, by assuring conservation of each species (public trust resource) for current and future generations, and satisfy the needs, desires and expectations of current state stakeholders. Wolf population management objectives are designed to provide a balance of public wildlife resource benefits desired by Idaho stakeholders. That balance of lion, bear and wolf population objectives is supported by the public trust stakeholders, affirmed by the public review/involvement process I referred to above – i.e. each species management plan is thoroughly vetted with the Idaho public. The wolf predation “cost” to elk populations has become the most important factor that significantly limits highly desired public trust benefits – i.e. hunting opportunity, primarily elk. Yes, lions and bears also take elk, but the Lolo and Sawtooth Zone research (very substantial portions of Idaho geography) clearly demonstrate that wolf predation is far and away the most important source of predation mortality holding elk numbers well below the potential of contemporary habitat to support. Those two elements – predation cause and effect limiting desired public benefits and public support for wolf management objectives makes your argument moot.
              I did misunderstand your point about elk hunting opportunity being robust across the NRMR and the rationale for tailoring wolf management objectives to accomplish overall wildlife management objectives. I agree and suggest that is exactly what Idaho objectives are designed to do, given our best understanding of wolf predation effects on elk and other wildlife defined objectives. Recall that I emphasized in my lead in post that evidence of strong wolf predation effects on elk hunting opportunity is growing – for virtually every region of Idaho with well established wolf populations. Of course, the impact varies depending on habitat production capacity, but the trend is strongly towards declining cow-calf ratios that diminish the ability of those elk populations to support desired levels of elk hunting opportunity. This is not simply a statewide pogrom against wolves. It is a measured management program to achieve multiple wildlife management objectives that uphold our PTD obligations to the people of Idaho.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              Mark, you continue to say:”but the Lolo and Sawtooth Zone research (very substantial portions of Idaho geography) clearly demonstrate that wolf predation is far and away the most important source of predation mortality holding elk numbers well below the potential of contemporary habitat to support.”

              Yet you continue to provide no scientific evidence or peer reviewed science to back up any of your claims. Other than the hunting and livestock industry that IDFG coddles, how do you expect anyone to believe a word that comes out of your mouth? Of course, JB’s points are moot b.c ID has committed to 150 wolves in an enormous state (note my sarcasm).

              Please provide some evidence to support your claims. You make some big claims that any other agency or researcher would be required to provide evidence yet state agencies employ a double standard of doing what they please yet providing no evidence to back their claims. And then you fully believe what you say is true and that is the only management paradigm.

            • avatar JB says:

              “…but the Lolo and Sawtooth Zone research (very substantial portions of Idaho geography) clearly demonstrate that wolf predation is far and away the most important source of predation mortality holding elk numbers well below the potential of contemporary habitat to support. Those two elements – predation cause and effect limiting desired public benefits and public support for wolf management objectives makes your argument moot.”

              Mark: You have just taken data from two units and generalized to the entire state; what does your scientific training tell you about the type of extrapolation?

              I also disagree that because you believe you have public support for your current wolf management objectives, that therefore, my point is rendered moot. The public trust doctrine should not be read as providing carte blanche justification for an action or objective so long as states have survey data that support said action/objective. You have an obligation to ensure the trust asset is maintained for current and future generations–regardless of what hunters (currently) want. That obligation STARTS with the maintenance of a viable population. The reliance upon other states for wolves may actually allow for a viable metapopulation, but it requires all three states to maintain these populations. Thus, to some extent Idaho’s maintenance of wolf populations is held hostage by the intent and actions of non-beneficiaries (i.e., Montanans and Wyomingites) all the while ignoring the desires of other non-beneficiaries (i.e., the U.S. public at large).

              Regarding bears and cougars…

              You’ve (again) neatly avoided the fundamental problem, so this time I’ll be direct: What evidence do you have that 200 wolves will kill more elk than 2,000 cougars, or 20,000 bears? Or put another way, what is the justification for establishing a population objective for wolves that is so low relative to other carnivores. We could always look back on previous data to get an idea concerning wolves’ impact relative to other carnivores when there were ~150-200 in Idaho? That would’ve been around ’99-00 in Idaho. What do you suppose those data suggest?

      • avatar Mike says:

        Well we agree here, JB.

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++Idaho is never going to let “nature run it’s course.” The people of Idaho have a very close relationship with nature++

      Haha. I’m not even going to say anything. But I do hope you read this and figure out what’s wrong with it for yourself.

  20. avatar Chuck says:

    It seems to me that IDFG is spiting the nose right off their face. I guess they need to have a court recorder type person at these meetings so they can go back and look at what they have said or hire a dang good damage control person. I remember a couple years back at one of the wolf management meetings and in the wolf management booklet they handed out, pardon me if this deviates from the subject, but they also talked about setting aside area’s for wildlife viewing and that has yet to happen, to my knowledge. Do the powers that be not realize the cash cow they have right under their noses??? just look at the money spent by tourist that go to yellowstone to watch wolves. I think its safe to say that its equal or maybe even greater then the money spent by hunters. Hotel/motel, gas, food, equipment and other misc fee’s. I won’t even go into what they said about the lolo/clearwater zone elk recruitment then and what they are saying now. Yes I am an Idaho resident and I use to hunt and fish in Idaho, but until their mindset changes I will not spend another dollar to hunt or fish in Idaho. I love the phrase “actions speak louder then words”, if we go by that then maybe IDFG should stop talking because their actions are a total 180 from what they are saying. I am beginning to think that the phrase I use to hear alot just may be true “Welcome to Idaho,step back 20 years”.

  21. avatar Richie.G says:

    Glad to see you changed you thinking JB,maybe I was reading you wrong,if so I am sorry for that.As for Idaho,the people think animals are tools, not living things,they ride a good horse for years,until he can’t go anymore,then have the slaughter house people take the poor thing away. Yes they are different,not my way of thinking,they are stuck in the picture “The Last Picture Show”. Do they know we traveled to the moon some years ago? I do not like to be down on these people,but they have no regard for life in general,except their own.It is really up to our elected officials,must call obama’s hot line or his comment line,that is where I will start.

  22. avatar Immer Treue says:

    JB,

    I haven’t located the exact information in terms of canid cognition, but it was in the book “Dog Sense” by John Bradshaw. A rather slow book to read, a bit repetetive, but it contains some good information in terms of dog training and the misconceptions in wolf/dog behaviors because so much research was done on captive “packs”, that in most cases were not family units, as they are in the wild.

  23. avatar Robert R says:

    It doesn’t matter what venue it is, the wolf/rancher/fish and game debate wil be heated even when your on the same side.
    What I would like to know other than reading articles and being influenced by someone else’s writing, and beliefs, how many days/hours do you people actually spend in the outdoors to see what is happening in the real world with wildlife and there habitat, not what’s in print.
    I spend an average of 200 hours in the high mountains 8 to 9 thousand feet in elivation and have seen wildlife that some will only see in a zoo or on TV. Of course I will be called a liar but I expect nothing less.

    • avatar Dan says:

      I live in a town that has a population of about 30. It is over 2 hours to a mall and in all directions are the Bitterroot mountains. I spend day after day after day in the woods and I see what is actually going on. Many of the discussions I have with JB end with JB saying he does not discuss regionally because he can not counter my on the ground observations. So yeah, I get called out many many times on actual observations. The web is full of internet ecologists.

      • avatar Mike says:

        I’ve met hunters in Montana who didn’t know what a fisher or marten was. I’ve met people in Chicago who do, and what they eat and what kind of habitat they prefer.

        Where you live has nothing to do with knowledge of an ecosystem.

        • avatar Elk275 says:

          Mike you are in Montana the summer months when hunters are not hunting. The people you have meet in Chicago are a select few who have similar interest not the mall rats. How many fishers and martens have you seen when you were in Montana. I have never seen a fisher, every couple of years I see a marten. If I had time I would tell the marten story from the fall of 1979.

          • avatar Mike says:

            ++Mike you are in Montana the summer months when hunters are not hunting. ++

            Not true. I often stay deep into October.

            I also may be there this year in a cabin near Missoula from July to March.

            ++The people you have meet in Chicago are a select few who have similar interest not the mall rats. How many fishers and martens have you seen when you were in Montana. ++

            I’ve seen both. A fisher near West Glacier, and marten in Glacier and the Gallatin NF.

            ++I have never seen a fisher, every couple of years I see a marten. If I had time I would tell the marten story from the fall of 1979.++

            They are neat animals.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              Mike – give a shout if you make it down to the southwest corner of the state while here this year.

            • avatar Elk275 says:

              I was guiding hunters in the Big Hole Valley, up Steel Creek, directly east of Wisdom in 1979 and myself and three hunters were eating lunch on the tailgate of the truck. A snowshoe hare’s ran and stop 20 feet from the tailgate it’s white coat streaked in blood, the hare was scared looking for protection . One of the hunters wanted to shoot it, I said no. A couple of seconds later a marten appeared above the hare, stopped and within a faction of a second the marten and the snowshoe were entwined. The snowshoe started screaming for 10 to 15 seconds and then silence. The marten claimed his victim and started to dragging it to a brush pile when a hawk dived down on both of them. The hawk notice us and flew off and the marten disappeared with hare. One only gets to see something like this several times in life.

            • avatar JB says:

              Elk:

              Great story! Some time when I’m out your way, I’d love to buy you a beer and hear a few more?

      • avatar JB says:

        Dan:

        In the scientific community, we call direct observations “cases”, when they are collected systematically, and “anecdotes” when they are not. Just remember that every piece of science has behind it someone who spend a whole lot of type in the field systematically (as opposed to anecdoteally) collecting observations.

        P.S. I believe you are referring to our conversation in which you blamed private lands deforestation on the ESA–specifically the spotted owl? I did not try to counter you claim (in your region) because I know of know systematic data collection on the topic. However, my original counter still stands: we (in the Eastern U.S. and Midwest) have seen large scale reforestation over the past 50 years, so if there was an effect, it was highly localized.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      My line of work doesn’t allow me as much time anymore out in the woods or to spend travel time to be out in the woods, especially during the summer months, so I take advantage of “wilderness areas” nearby.

      And unfortunately, no matter how far I get off the “beaten path” I inevitably run into cattle, little if any wildlife, just cattle.

      • avatar Richie G. says:

        Lokk lets face it the political climatetea party people,corporations are people are related to what is going on with the wolves. Yes indirectly but it is the ove of killing the wolves. Idaho people just do not want them here period. With all this land they can’t go the extra mile for the wolves. Who ever said in the last election,when people are desperate,they hold on to their gins and bible’s it’s true.What better way to say they still have their fate in their own hands. Killing makes them feel in control, our early settlers did the same thing,they called it wilderness for wild and they had to cultivate the land bull crap IMO. Over a hundred years and people have not changed at all,now I am not saying all, Ralph,JB, sb they see things as they should be ,mike tooo especially Mike ! Thank you Ralph for letting us share our opinions

      • avatar Dan says:

        and I truly sympathize with you….I enjoy wildlife as much as anyone and I would find looking at nothing but cattle disconcerting as well.
        I saw a beautiful mature male yellow headed black bird two days ago and it made my week.

    • avatar DLB says:

      Robert R.

      Out of curiosity, what is the threshold for spending enough time outdoors to have an opinion worth considering? There have been many times that I have heard or read folks discounting a biologists’s opinion based on, “He probably doesn’t spend half the time out in the woods that I do”.

      I’ve even witnessed individuals getting into pissing contests over who is the bigger authority on a certain area based on who spends more hours, days, or years there.

      If you really bought into that line of thinking, folks could rationalize the discounting of any professional’s opinion pretty much anytime it conflicted with their own.

  24. avatar Richie G. says:

    Just for an argument how would any of us like to be in a leg trap, I believe the people who that happened too,would have a different answer to trapping of wolves. You must go through the same pain as they do and I bet more than half the trappers would have a change of heart. Not to mention someone on this site,but when they encountered some sought of real pain their perpective changed about hunting. Not to say they still hunt but in a different manner. Walk in the same shoes as another man and you will see where in is coming from. Be as analytical as you want, but if you were in the rat trap you would think different! I will bet my bottom dollar!

    • avatar mikarooni says:

      “Just for an argument how would any of us like to be in a leg trap”

      I’m afraid they’re figuring that, if they can get Romney elected, that’s exactly where they’re gonna put us.

      • avatar DLB says:

        I think the odds are against Romney. He’s going to get buried over social conservative values.

  25. avatar Nancy says:

    “And BTW, elk herds “trending downward” isn’t necessarily a problem. Populations naturally fluctuate–thus, we should expect them to go down as often as they go up. Unfortunately, your fixation on maximizing elk populations for harvest apparently prevents you from seeing this”

    Excellent point JB.

    Unfortunately,the open sign is always out here in the west when it comes to the wildlife “supermarket” – meat or just plain entertainment – your choice IF you can afford a gun and a license.

  26. avatar Richie G. says:

    What ever you call it guys if you are there or not, they never stated anything about trapping before now trapping is in this culture. Come on how can people walk their own pets. How mant pets have been killed because of this. No matter what you say let nature take it’s course,hunger can’t be worse than trapping. I do not want my tax dollars involved in this. Just like J.P. Morgan Chase,the feds knew weeks ago, alll of congress should be kick ouy. Ed Koch ,his own words ,the bankers as well as the farmers have taken over not to mention the drug companies. We need big cahnge for every field of interest. Now the people suffer,the wolves suffer, and all who love nature and life in general suffer. Dod you hear the navy admits to killing of wahles and dolphans with their sonar,when are things going to change that is all I want to know.

  27. avatar WM says:

    I did not see this posted on the open threads, so maybe it slipped by most folks in late March. It is relevant on this one because the wolf population reduction seems somewhat related. ID Constitutional Amendment proposal (which passed both legislative houses by a wide margin for a referral to voters) to include hunting, fishing and trapping as a guaranteed right on November ballot:

    http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2005141391

    • avatar JB says:

      WM:

      I’m not really sure how Idaho’s wolf minimization plan is related? Perhaps you mean there that there is some fear of federal legislation banning trapping, in part generated by the wolf debate? Of course, the state cannot guarantee this “right” in any case if the federal govt. decides to get involved (Supremacy Clause).

      If, on the other hand, you mean to suggest that wolves could be seen as interfering with residents “right” to hunt and thus, the amendment could be used to justify wolf minimization, then I disagree. Invariably the language used in these types of amendments is very broad, and makes it clear that this “right” is subject to regulation–and this acknowledgment is quite necessary. If everyone in Idaho decided to cash in on their “right” to hunt elk, for example, the state’s citizens could eliminate elk entirely in short order. And, of course, as Idaho continues to “liberalize” their wolf hunting season, they provide greater opportunity for residents to make use of their “rights”. I’ve never seen an amendment that guarantees the right to hunt a particular species?

    • avatar WM says:

      JB,

      Trapping which most of us don’t like, would seem to get a stay from abolition under this state Constitutional proposal. Even as a regulated activity, the fact that it would achieve Constitutional recognition makes it that much tougher to limit, IMHO.

      I won’t pretend to understand the confusing language in this ID proposal. Some of it even seems nonsensical, like written collectively by a bunch of failing 8the graders.

      As a means of controlling wolves trapping seems quite efficient in very recent history. Then there is the collatal damage of non-intended species being taken.

      I cannot help but think the emergene of this proposal at this time was boosted some by the pro-wolf conflicts under the ESA as well as activist/advocacy activities, and anti-hunting hysteria. I understand a Constitutional proposal to protect hunting is also on the ballot in Nebraska and maybe another Midwest state or two this fall, as well.

      Expanding a Kleppe type regulatation of wildlife on Federal lands (which would implicitly require federal enabling legislation to do so), with some kind of federal wildlife trust duty or forcing states to mold their respective wildlife trust obigations to meet some kind of federal oversight model, I suspect, is a ways off. Even further off, if the Tea Party and conservative R’s gain ground in the Senate this year. And, the powerful NRA is right in the middle of all this.

  28. avatar Travis Day says:

    Mark Gamblin, kudos to you for trying so valiantly to defend the policies of your employer. We all have a job to do. We do as we are told. Maybe we cannot fault you for that. Maybe.

    You repeatedly defend your employer on the basis of serving “the needs desires and expectations of state stakeholders,” though in reality it is only a sliver of those “state stakeholders” you seem to listen to. However, I think all resource managers have a larger duty than to serve a sliver of the “stakeholders,” even if it is a loud, demanding, belligerent, self-centered, well-funded and well-connected sliver. I think you have a duty to understand your resource as broadly and as deeply as possible and then to act as broadly responsibly and as deeply responsibly as possible. That requires honoring and enhancing the entire ecosystem. I do not think the narrow self-interests of the loudest of your “stakeholders” define your duties. Your agency can win a debate if it selectively defines it narrowly enough to fit its purposes. It is still wrong in the bigger picture. It still dishonors the ecosystem that resource managers are duty bound to protect.

  29. avatar idahonative says:

    I don’t believe that there is much wolf poaching going on. As a hunter I am deep in this subject and close to many other hunters. Everyone that I know purchased a wolf tag to carry with them while elk and deer hunting.

    Furthermore, the posession of a wolf pelt would be considered bragging rights to other hunters. If someone poaches a wolf they lose the ability to be a braggart to their friends, they can’t display it and it would be too high a risk to even talk about it. Humans in general especially hunters have a hard time keeping big secrets.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey