Proposed new hunting rules would allow unlimited wolf killing right up to YNP boundary-
Public comment could change this-

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks doesn’t think they killed enough wolves in the last hunt.  As a result they are proposing hunting rules like Idaho had last year  and more — no quotas, electronic wolf calls, even multiple wolf kills per hunter allowed.  Idaho didn’t go so far as allowing trapping along the Yellowstone Park boundary, but Montana plans to. Last year the Park was protected from the Montana hunt by the setting of low wolf kill quotas in units along the Park’s northern boundary.

The majority of Yellowstone Park wolves live on the Park’s northern range, which is mostly in Montana. Most of the Yellowstone Park wolves have always lived close to the Park’s northern boundary.  These wolves often use the area north of the Park because there is no livestock and it is mostly designated Wilderness (no roads), made that way by Congress back in the mid-1970s in part to assure that Park wildlife would not be impinged on from the north.

Because of the proximity of unlimited wolf hunting right next to the bulk of the Park’s wolf population, there is a good chance of severe Park wolf mortality right in the area where visitors most commonly have seen wolves.  The hunters would be shooting and trapping naive Park wolves.

Businesses that rely on wolf tourism dollars are said to be complaining because the loss of the northern range wolf packs could eliminate most wolf watching in the Park.

A number of Park visitors and conservation groups are saying what happens to Yellowstone wildlife is a national issue.  As such, all Americans can contact the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Park to give their opinion until June 25.  The department will make a final decision in early July.

FWP – Wildlife Bureau
Attn: Public Comment
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

There is a form for on-line comments here

 

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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

189 Responses to Montana Fish, Wildlife, Parks points a dagger at Yellowstone Park wolves

  1. avatar Paul says:

    How much more evidence does anyone need to show that the ultimate goal of these states is total eradication? The fact that they are putting such pressure on the wolves only true safe haven shows what these states are all about. Does anyone truly have any doubts about the state’s motivations anymore?

  2. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    All three of the states have never seen Yellowstone as much more than a cash register, though many of their citizens have a more generous view. I moved back to Idaho to teach at a second rate university because I was enthralled to live next to the Greater Yellowstone. I am not alone in this.

    The backwardness of these three states is why this should be a national issue.

    • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

      I tend to agree,it should be a national issue.

    • avatar Russell says:

      Wildlife management is a state issue. plain and simple. Idaho has no business telling California how to manage their wildlife. No other state or residents of other states have a right to tell Idaho how to manage theirs.

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        Russell,

        Yellowstone Park is older than Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming. Yellowstone wildlife management has always been by the U.S. government, not the states. This story is about state wildlife management depleting America’s first protected area and still managed, in theory, on behalf of the American people, not Idaho. It is not about dictating Montana management.

    • avatar Dan says:

      poor poor Idaho State….Go Vandals!

    • avatar Dean Smith says:

      If America really cares… Then EVERYONE should show up in Helena Montana, with their letter of comment, and duct tape it to FWP’s front door.

  3. avatar red says:

    I feel vindicated in my decision not to visit Yellowstone due to antics among these 3 states.

    Would it do any good to email motels in Cooke City? I emailed one motel when this idea was first announced and never received a response.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      red,

      It would be interesting to see if they have figured it out. I’d email them.

      I was told this morning that a number of Gardiner-based businesses were trying to influence Montana FWP to change.

      I am guessing on the basis of some knowledge that it would not take a great deal of public comment to turn Montana FWP around on the Yellowstone wolf hunting part of their proposed new hunt rules.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Might want to contact the Chamber of Commerce in those towns Red.

      C of C’s are often the “pulse” of a community and do hold meetings with members/businesses about local events and how tourism may effect (or not effect) the area.

      • avatar WM says:

        Haven’t thought this completely through, but it does have some interesting implications:

        While MT and WY are kindred spirits in wanting to minimize numbers of wolves they are obligated to have under federal law, the WY wolf management plan contemplates a certain minimum number of wolves/breeding pairs, contributed by Yellowstone NP (a protected federal reservation) as a part of the overall WY obligation. This is supposed to work together. What happens should MT implement a harvest plan that kills too many “Yellowstone wolves” visiting MT? I think the current official estimate of population of Yellowstone NP wolves is about 98; the WY plan contemplates a contribution of something like 50 and 5 breeding pairs from Yellowstone, while WY contributes a minimum of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves, for a total of 150 and 15 breeding pairs. Can the WY obligation be met in the face of a major stochastic event that drops the population back, while MT cherry picks Yellowstone wolves spending time outside the Park?

        What an administrative mess this is becoming! MT needs to back off. Or, is there yet another lawsuit on the horizon, and who would be the parties?

        • avatar JB says:

          WM:

          This is precisely the reason why I have argued that each state should seek to maintain a MVP of its own. Setting management goals so low means each state is dependent upon the others to maintain a viable population. Not a very responsible way to manage a public trust asset.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          WM,

          I really don’t think the lawsuits will ever end, and suspect that the only way this will be solved is with the US Supreme Court, and even with that, It will never end.

  4. avatar km says:

    I am not for the elimination of wolves by any means but what is wrong with harvesting wolves from the park? As long as the quota isn’t too high I don’t see a problem.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Hunting is not allowed in the Park. People who don’t like wolves might say it is fine to “harvest them,” but in fact most of the wolves people see the Park are the ones the live most of the time in the area likely to be “harvested” just outside the Park in Montana. The Yellowstone wolf population has dropped to 82, down from over 170. Only two packs are known to have pups this year.

      One other thing . . . you wrote about the quota not being too high. This year Montana will have no quota. So the sky is the limit.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Ralph again, “just outside the park” IS Montana..

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Savebears,

          Inside the Park in much of this area is Montana too, yet Montana wildlife laws do not apply there. Federal laws apply instead, but I am not really interested in splitting hairs about federal and state wildlife management. I have no interest discussing this further.

          This is likely a national issue.

          Montanans too often feel the Yellowstone Park is special, more than a place they can’t dig holes in the ground, cut down forests, build subdivisions, etc. So a lot of people in and out of Montana are likely to be interested in this. The hole diggers are equally free to contact the Commission

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Ralph,

            That is the way it works, the lines were drawn and now you want to change the rules that govern those lines. You have no interest in discussing this any further with those who don’t agree with you, that is what your saying. But remember, the states and the Fed’s agreed on this a long time ago.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              And Ralph, we are not talking about what is “in” the park, we are talking about what is “outside” the park.

      • avatar WM says:

        Ralph,

        See my post above re the WY wolf plan issue. Just checking, the YNP official wolf population has dropped to 82? If so, it amplifies the implications for WY plan compliance.

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++I am not for the elimination of wolves by any means but what is wrong with harvesting wolves from the park? As long as the quota isn’t too high I don’t see a problem.++

      You cannot “harvest” an animal that lives, breathes, thinks, and feels. Wolves are not pumpkins or corn.

  5. avatar Savebears says:

    There is a line in the sand, the wildlife contained in Yellowstone is protected, the wildlife contained in Montana is managed by Montana. When the wildlife leaves Yellowstone, it is no longer protected by the park.

    Ralph, you may say it is not about Montana’s Management, but in reality, that is exactly what it is, you don’t seem to feel the state has the right to manage wildlife that reside within its state boundaries?

    That is one of the biggest problems with wildlife management, wildlife don’t observe boundaries and humans do, it is like the argument that these are Canadian wolves! Of course they don’t know that, only humans make that claim. The reality is, if you want the buffer zone, that extends into the states, then you are trying to control how the state manages its wildlife, something that has been granted to the states..

    That said, I don’t hunt park boundaries, don’t hunt wolves, but fully understand what is going on.

    • avatar JB says:

      Save bears:

      As you know, not all wildlife is totally controlled by the states. Migratory birds, feral horses, bald and golden eagles all have special provisions protecting them in some instances and limiting state control. I think what Ralph is saying is that if MFWP doesn’t recognize the value of park wolves to MT and to the nation as a whole, perhaps it is time that the nation gets involved to force said recognition. It wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Feral horses are another subject entirely JB!

        Bald Eagles are not classified as “game animals” Wolves in the state of Montana are classified as “game animals” hence they are subject to the management of the state game dept.

        Migratory birds(waterfowl) are hunted, and they are even hunted on wildlife refuges.

        Not trying to be a pessimist, but good luck on getting the nation involved, the majority don’t even think about wolves.

        • avatar JB says:

          Save bears:

          “Game” status is not in any way related to states’ responsibility where wildlife are concerned, nor the federal government’s ability to intervene. States have management authority for all wildlife resources (game, protected, nuisance) except when federal law supersedes. Migratory waterfowl are hunted yes, but numerous (I believe it is over 1,000 now) migratory birds are protected by treaty (again, federal power). Likewise, bald and golden eagles are protected by statute, as are feral horses (yes, we could have a long conversation about them).

          The interested parties won’t need luck to get the nation involved–Idaho, Wyoming, Montana (and more recently, Wisconsin) via their actions are providing all the ammunition wolf advocates will need.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            JB, unfortunately, the wolf advocates are a very small part of the population, less than 1% I would guess, it is a big issue to those of us, that follow these blogs, but remember hundreds of millions don’t!

            • avatar Savebears says:

              And to add, I learned this the hard way with my work on the Bison issues, the amount of Americans that cared was terribly small and still is!

            • avatar JB says:

              Save bears:

              I suppose that depends upon what you mean by “big issue”. We will know by the end of this year. I’ll bet you a bear (a Moose Drool if I’m out your way) that it’s higher than 10%…?

            • avatar elk275 says:

              We have not had another “get the popcorn post in a while”, this should be an interesting, education and entertaining thread.

            • avatar Savebears says:

              Not from me Elk, I have work to do this evening, I stated my piece, I will go back to regularly scheduled programing again.

            • avatar JB says:

              By the way, I think you may be missing the big picture here. If this goes the way it is heading, it won’t be just about wolves. It will be framed as a failure of states to steward wildlife resources around our nation’s most cherished national park. Yellowstone will be front and center, and wolves, bison, and maybe even bighorn sheep will all be used as supporting evidence.

              Western wildlife agencies are so blinded by the mentality of their most vocal constituents they can’t
              that they’re springing their own trap. The environment (and environmentalism) is popular, but most people don’t know what they can do about things like pollution, endangered species and climate change. Thus, a lack of action–ambivalence. When things get framed as a threat to our nation’s heritage, a threat to our first national park, and a threat to our greatest symbols of wilderness (perhaps even the national mammal), people will take notice. Make no mistake, this is one environmental issue that urbanites can get behind. And when things turn 180 degrees (again) western states will only have themselves to blame.

          • avatar Dan says:

            The USFW is sick and tired of wolves. They want to spend their dollars elsewhere..and it was with democrat as president and democrats controlling the senate that wolves lost their federal protections…so what makes you think the feds want anything to do with wolves? It’s almost like you see the feds as knights on white horses waiting to intervene into the states control of wolves, when IMO the feds washed their hands of wolves and have no desire to jump back into the fray…

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              Yes, I agree that FWS wants to wash their hands of wolves, mostly because they don’t want anything to do with any type of controversy that could jeopardize future funding. However, I don’t recall mentioning FWS at all? Rather, I was talking about the role of the federal government relative to states in wildlife management, noting that there are ample examples of the federal government intervening where states fail. It is this type of invitation that Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are inviting.

              Will it come today? No. Not likely in the near future either (I definitely agree with SB and WM on that point). But you can damn well bet that it will come if they continue down this path.

              And for the record, I would rather see states in control, managing resources responsibly.

        • avatar WM says:

          SB,

          This crystalizes the very issue JB has been talking about in Kleppe v. NM, the right of the federal government to regulate wildlife (pursuant to statute in the case of wild horses & burros).

          Congress could go one step further (say regulate wolves in a wilderness adjacent to a NP), to likely regulate more state wildlife (or whoever it belongs to). It would be a tough sell from a legislative standpoint, IMHO, but the federal courts would likely uphold it.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            WM,

            I agree with you and JB, but I don’t think that Congress will intercede anytime soon in this issue. There is a really big can of worms being opened here, that could change a whole bunch of things in the future of this country.

        • avatar louise kane says:

          “The majority don’t even think about wolves”
          wrong wrong wrong. The majority, think, care, object but their voice is being ignored. Citizens v. United helped make it even worse.

    • avatar Dean Smith says:

      lines in the sand can easily be washed away, the real problem for those following this issue is that Montana’s FWP is making rash and negative management decisions despite the will of the majority of its people. FWP recently received over $50k from the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation (which should be against state law) and it was then FWP started singing a different tune, and it is a policy that disregards the majority, and only supports a minority.

      so lines in the sand??? There are so many where do we as people begin? When do we the people matter? when it is convenient or when the money comes funneling in… this whole topic is a travesty. Any moral society with an ounce of common sense would not even have allowed this to be an issue… but it is.

      I try to think of legacy… what will our generations leave behind for future ones… The answer is shaping into… NOT MUCH or a holy mess to clean up…

      It is high time to quit acting like a bunch of spoiled children, it is high time to quit only doing what is politically popular, it is high time to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Unfortunaley, our leaders do not have the stones to do the right thing.

  6. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Americans are mad as hell. They are many things hurting them. Unfortunately, they don’t know who is responsible for this. Their anger might settle in any of a number of places.

    They could choose a state to kick the S___ out of.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      I agree 110% with ya Ralph, Americans are mad as hell, it will be very interesting to see how November turns out and the back lash, no matter which side wins. I don’t think they will choose a state, but I have very strong suspicion where it will be. One thing, no matter what party you are, we are united in our anger!

      • avatar jon says:

        Hi sb, I was curious as to what you think about Rick Hill and Steve Bullock.

        • avatar Savebears says:

          I have not formed an opinion as of yet, I and I really don’t want to talk about the current candidates for state office.

  7. avatar Dannie Kemp says:

    For those of you are driven by economic forces, which we all are to a certain degree. Keep in mind the Yellowstone Wolves attract from 7-10 million dollars annually to those local economies surrounding the park.

  8. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    I’m wondering aloud why a provision in the ESA process is not discussed more often; namely that when a species is delisted and ” management” given over to the States, a 5-year Fish and Wildlife Service monitoring period is obligatory ( think of it as the states being put on federal probation ). USFWS can step in and resume partial or even full management if they feel the specie population is untowardly endangered whether by man-caused mismanagement or unforseen natural circumstance. RE-listing is an option for those five years.

    What Idaho and especially Montana have done in the ~two years since they were given state wolf management certainly qualifies as a probation violation to my mind. And while Wyoming is still in jail it would no doubt be just as much a recidivist in assaulting wolves if it gets probation .

    We did not spend 40 years and $ 40 million to restore Grey wolves to GYE , Idaho, and parts of Montana just to have the states start eradicating them all over again beyond Park boundaries.

    • avatar WM says:

      Cody,

      Nothwithstanding your assertion, FWS likely has all this under advisement as they continue to monitor ID and MT. The WY delisting rule is not yet final. The NRM rule for ID and MT (the content referenced in the Congressional rider) suggests the population in the entire DPS, including WY, would likely be managed at about 1,000 wolves (they are not below that yet), with the federal delisting obligation much lower at 300 (30 breeding pairs) plus the self-imposed buffer taking it up to 450 in a connected metapopoulation. The combined states are certainly not below that by a factor of 2X+, and wolf population and range continues to increase despite the harvest/kill prescriptions currently underway.

      What is the infraction by any state which should convert monitoring to some kind of enforcement or withdrawl of delisting?

      Another thing to consider, however, is the content of my earlier post above, which I will restate because I put it in the wrong sub-thread:

      ++June 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm
      Haven’t thought this completely through, but it does have some interesting implications:

      While MT and WY are kindred spirits in wanting to minimize numbers of wolves they are obligated to have under federal law, the WY wolf management plan contemplates a certain minimum number of wolves/breeding pairs, contributed by Yellowstone NP (a protected federal reservation) as a part of the overall WY obligation. This is supposed to work together. What happens should MT implement a harvest plan that kills too many “Yellowstone wolves” visiting MT? I think the current official estimate of population of Yellowstone NP wolves is about 98 {Ralph, says it is now down to 82, making this a more critical concern}; the WY plan contemplates a contribution of something like 50 and 5 breeding pairs from Yellowstone, while WY contributes a minimum of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves, for a total of 150 and 15 breeding pairs. Can the WY obligation be met in the face of a major stochastic event that drops the population back, while MT cherry picks Yellowstone wolves spending time outside the Park?

      What an administrative mess this is becoming! MT needs to back off. Or, is there yet another lawsuit on the horizon, and who would be the parties?++

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        I’m willing to let most wolf packs in Wyoming and Montana become fair game for managed hunts , if they never set foot inside Yellowstone . But the hunts have to be managed, and wolf packs who roam both in and out of Yellowstone should not be subject to attrition.

        Montana flunks on both. Wyoming’s proposed quotas take a severe toll on wolves up against the eastern boundary in Sunlight-Crandall-Clarks Fork , and I’m sure the local yokels will shoot first and consider the consequences later ( if ever) outside the regs.

        I agree that USFWS caved in the face of Republican pressure and all but disowned Grey wolves in the NRM , for purely political reasons, and are down in Denver or somewhere trying to wash the blood off their hands. They no longer care about the health and welfare of 1700 canids because continued adherence to science and the ESA was becoming a huge liability and threat to their jobs , including possible blunt force separation of their cervical vertebra.

    • avatar Jon Way says:

      Cody,
      A simple answer is that USFWS seems to want to absolve themselves of wolf mgmt. They just about ignore any wolves getting killed in the Northeast as long as someone “thought they killed a coyote” which is actually already a coyote x wolf hybrid in the Northeast.

      Then with all of this stuff going on in the Rockies, it is clear that USFWS wants out of wolf mgmt. I continue to agree with JB that some type of Federal Protection is going to come out of this. And the states themselves are doing a great job to make sure this happens.

  9. avatar dnvrdoll1 says:

    Yellowstone and her animals ARE a National issue because YNP is a FEDERAL park…she “belongs” to us all. I spend a lot of money every year visiting YNP to view ALL of her wildlife, but especially her bears and wolves!

    Anyone who understands nature understands the tender balance between predator and prey and also understands that predators are a “necessary evil” in the ecosystem. Each animals serves it’s purpose and is responsible for it’s place in the ecosystem.

    Wolves “manage” themselves. If you have been following what is going on in YNP this year, 1 family of wolves (known as the Mollies) have been reaking havoc on the other wolf families in the Lamar Valley and beyond. I know of at least 7 wolves that have been killed by the Mollies. Territory is a premium and the wolves WILL defend their territory and even take over other territories.

    There must be a “safe zone” for Yellowstone’s animals (ALL animals…including the bison, bears, etc.) outside of the park. I don’t know how large it should be…I leave that to the scientists/experts who have more details than I do, but we cannot allow hunting right up to the borders of the park. This will have a DEVASTATING affect on the animals AND the businesses around the park.

    It is estimated that Montana makes $35+ MILLION every year off of wolf watchers/animal watchers. Can they really afford a loss like that? I can promise you…no wolves means ALOT of folks, like me, will not be coming to visit anymore and all of my tourist dollars will go elsewhere.

    I agree that it is a NATIONAL issue and we need to make our voices heard. I, for one, am appalled at the apathy that surrounds me everyday in this great nation and I pray that somehow we can turn it all around.

    • avatar WM says:

      dnvrdoll1,

      Let’s be factually honest, here, when referring to YNP’s wolves. The $35M as some kind of measure to the value of wolves to the economy is a gross number, derived from work done by economist John Duffield over the last fifteen years, or so. See study here (I think there may even be a follow up to his work from 1999 and 2005 which may be near release): http://www.georgewright.org/251duffield.pdf

      Even this is a distorted economic benefit, because not all of the economic value/money remains in MT, or any of the bordering states for that matter. Some (much) ultimately goes out of the region to pay employees and shareholders of large and small private and public corporations, like the big business concessionares/vendors that run the Park hotels, shops, gas stations, or national chain motels, etc. (Aramark, Xanterra, Best Western, Shell). Some minimum wage jobs are provided seasonally or locally to residents and some small local businesses, but alot of the concessaires even hire low wage seasonal employees from around the country, so even some of the labor is not local and the money does not stay. That is why MT and the other bordering states can choose to largely ignore the so-called “economic benefit of wolf tourism.” Boycotting has little effect, by the way.

      YNP won’t run out of visitors for lack of wolves. High gas prices, and less discretionary income for the middle class in this economy, maybe.

      With due respect, wolf density in YNP is not all about wolf territories, either. It is about availability of prey base to support nutritional needs of the packs and the pups, and that is, in part why wolf population in YNP has gone down from its high of near 200 (officially 178 I think). They have eaten their way through the easy elk that prospered as a result of the habitat changes from the fires in the late 1980’s. That is one reason the wolves were brought in – to knock back the elk population. They did a good job very quickly. Some wolves have out-migrated and are now surviving on the prey base in the greater GYE, including MT, and according to them reducing elk/deer populations locally. That apparently is one reason MT is advocating the action which is the subject of this thread.

      ++Wolves “manage” themselves.++

      I’m not even going to touch that statement, execept to say that if that were the case there would not be substantial effort to control numbers where wolves interface with the human occupied world outside YNP, where “management” has several dimensions. Recall that roughly half the wolves that comprise the core re-introduction effort were released in YNP, and the population expanded rather dramatically from that over a period of 16 years.

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        I don’t believe anybody successfully challenged Judge Molloy’s admonition that genetic diversity was not being maintained by proposed state management plans, especially Wyoming. Otherwise that goofy ” Flex Zone” in Wyoming would never have been proposed as a partial remedy for assuring genetic diversity and appease the tenet of Molloy’s ruling, which still stands.

        However, when Montana kills most of the wolves right up to the Yellowstone Park line, they are utterly taunting the genetic diversity paradigm. At their peril, I would hope, but who will call them on it ? Wolves that enter or leave Yellowstone need to be buffered…the survival of the wolf population inside Yellowstone depends to some extent on gresh genetic infusion from extra-YNP wolves, does it not ? The Yellowstone population seems to be plateauing or even falling. All the moreso to buffer the next wolves outwards…

  10. avatar swjags says:

    At the 2009 Carnivores Conference, Ed Bangs was asked about concerns with entrusting the states with wolf management and he said something like, “If they mess things up we’ll be back and kick their butts.” I just wonder how much more evidence is needed that they’re messing things up? Yes, I know Bangs is retired. Was anyone else at that session and recall the comment?

  11. avatar Billy Angus says:

    The vast majority of people on this
    planet want our wolves left alone to live in peace!!!
    I recently got rid of my state flag of Montana
    in protest the state’s hostility towards our
    wolves, other wildlife, and wildlife advocates alike
    and I will not support any politician, agency,
    business, and/or state with a brutal,
    backwards-minded mentality of the
    barbaric 19th Century that condones the senseless act of
    animal cruelty towards God’s majestic creations!!!!

    This is 2012 A.D. and it’s time to
    leave the Old West back in the past!!

    I could care less of what all those square-brained,
    wolf-hatin’ redneck inbreds think or say!!
    As far as I’m concerned, they can kiss my @$$,
    go back to their outhouses and guzzle their moonshine
    while watching the corny reruns of “Hee-Haw”
    on their analog T.V.s!!

    I ain’t walkin’ lock-step to their
    freaky Far Right ideological dogma!!!

  12. avatar Jeff says:

    I too am an advid hiker & camper. 6 or so of my friends plane trips out West every year to camp. We will NEVER spent a dollar or set foot in that state until this changes.

    • avatar Billy Angus says:

      I don’t blame ya’, Jeff.
      Actually, I’d go a step further and boycott
      the beef and potato industries of these backwards-minded states such as ID, MT, and WY,
      and put the hurt to where it hurts the most…
      In their pocketbooks and bank accounts.
      I’m even calling upon the like-minds and general public to reject animal meat,
      in favor of vegetarian/vegan products,
      for better health, and the like. :)

      Personally, I’m a rock-n-rollin’ vegetarian and thus, I don’t conform to Montana’s wild-west traditions such as hunting,
      country music, etc.

      I recently got rid of my Montana flag,
      and I’m flying the colors of Tibet instead.

      But it’s true, Jeff…
      We gotta do all what it takes to
      shake up the status quo and not
      conform to these rednecks’
      “my-way-or-the-highway” mentality.

      As far as I’m concerned all those
      wolf-hatin’ inbreds can build themselves
      a time portal, leave the year 2012 A.D.,
      and return to their primitive 19th Century,
      where they’d be more adapted to, than the
      Space Age and Digital Age in the modern era
      of the Third Millennium.

      • avatar elk275 says:

        If you do not want to visit Montana that is fine, but Chico Hot Springs is fully booked until after Labor Day Weekend and one can not even get a dinner reservation there. The motels have no vacancy signs out by 7 PM. All motels in the gateway communities are full every night. I do not think that a tourist boycott of Montana is going to affect very many business during the summer. The price of gas and motels costs are a greater deterent than how Montana treats their wolves.

        The Yellowstone wolf watchers spend $35,000,000 a year. Two Bakken Field oil wells produce over $50,000,000 a year with hundreds of wells planned. Does Montana need wolf watchers money?

        • avatar DLB says:

          How much of that $50 million is staying in Montana?

          If I recall correctly, Montana doesn’t have a good track record of keeping the profits from the extraction of its natural resources in-state over the last 130 years.

          • avatar WM says:

            DLB,

            I will lay odds most of that $50M oil money goes out of state (except while the drillers are looking for and getting wells into production, in which jobs are created locally and the local economy benefits for a short while), just as most of the wolf-watcher money asserted to be at $35M (most IMHO going to the big YNP vendors, chain motels, etc.). The question is, how many really decent paying local jobs does either create and for how long, and what do these economic sectors generate in state and local tax revenues.

            At least in most oil operations there are residual share royalties generated to whomever owns the drilling rights, often the land owner. Oil, of course, runs out after awhile, and of course, extraction can have some environmental negatives, and you can only take it out of the ground at that spot once. Wolf viewing, it appears, may not be particularly sustainable either, under current conditions.

            Boycott by not seasonally visiting ID, MT,and WY and not buying its products, really? Well, it might make you feel good, and it’s novel but has little economic impact in this instance. I am guessing Billy Angus and Jeff won’t be missed by many in the West….not for a moment, especially if their money and presence comes with strings attached, like requiring values to change to meet THEIR expectations.

            • avatar DLB says:

              WM,

              I agree that a boycott of that type will have an immaterial effect on tourism revenue generated by the state.

              ++just as most of the wolf-watcher money asserted to be at $35M (most IMHO going to the big YNP vendors, chain motels, etc.).++

              In my case of wolf tourism, almost all the money I spent was in Gardiner, not in YNP. I stayed in Gardiner, ate & shopped there, and paid a guide who lived not far away.

              It’s a testament to how far we still have to go when it comes to generating long-term prosperity in rural areas through natural resource extraction. We seem condemned to re-live one boom & bust cycle after another. Why spread hundreds of wells over multiple decades when we can tap them all NOW? I’d much rather see 5,000 people employed consistently for 100 years than 30,000 employed for 15 years.

            • avatar timz says:

              I think it would take a boycott something on the order of MCDonalds not buying anymore fries from Idaho-based Simplot before it would get anyones attention.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          elk275,

          Tourism in the Pacific NW, including Western Montana and Idaho tourism will probably boom this year because of the recession. In addition, this the only part of the West that is not in a drought. So their will be fewer wildfires. With Colorado and New Mexico and soon Utah to be aflame, outdoor tourism there will crawl to a halt.

          These factors will overwhelm wildlife events in Yellowstone.

          Nevertheless, I think that Yellowstone tourism is a much more stable source of state income than Bakken oil and gas wells. The fact that one well will produce $50-million of gas should not be used to directly compare to other income generating activities. 99 to a 100% of the value of oil/gas produced that is worth so much will leave the state. The state will capture royalties — probably more if the Democrats rule than the Republicans.

          Drilling jobs are now creating a boom in an area far from Yellowstone. From the reading the papers, it looks like residents have mixed feelings about this, with many locals not liking the oil patch workers or the inflation and mess they bring.

          The boom will end and the wells will only require servicing. That is probably 5% or less of the boom time jobs. The wells will be depleted, probably leaving Eastern Montana unpopulated again and scared with polluted land, water, and aquifers.

          I have been looking on Google Earth at the mess they have already made in northwestern North Dakota.

          • avatar JB says:

            Agreed. Natural resources-based tourism (whether consumptive or otherwise) can be sustained over time, whereas the removal of non-renewable resources cannot.

      • avatar Mike says:

        ++Personally, I’m a rock-n-rollin’ vegetarian and thus, I don’t conform to Montana’s wild-west traditions such as hunting,
        country music, etc.++

        I don’t think there’s ever been worse music than the “country” music they play on the radio these days. It’s absolutely insulting.

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      Jeff and others
      Not sure Montana will miss you, already the roads and rivers are clogged with those visiting. A person must have their principles.

    • avatar Mike says:

      I love Montana, so it’s very difficult for me to see this idiotic plan. But like I said, I expect the wolf to be back on the endangered list in the Rockies within five years.

      The NRM states have proven time and time again they are not responsible nor mature enough to ethically handle grey wolves.

      As much as I hate this plan, I’ll still go to Montana this year, enjoying the premiere camping destinations in the state. As ugly as some of the people can be, the mountains and forests there are so beautiful.

  13. Montana sinks to a new low! Friends, we urge you to send your comments opposing the wolf hunting and trapping proposal to Montana FWP and urge others to do so as well!Although we are boiling mad, be sure to remain civil, to the point, and early on state your opposition to the proposal. Wildlife alive brings in far more revenue to the state than dead. Yellowstone wolves won’t even receive the necessary protections if the proposal passes. The world is watching. Montana can come out a hero valuing and respecting all wildlife or be a disgrace to many! Send comments by 6/25/12 to http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2012_13proposedWolfHunt.html

    • avatar Billy Angus says:

      Well put, Footloose.
      I’ve sent my comments to MFWP,
      strongly opposing their barbaric proposal
      via postal mail AND online.
      Here is what I wrote:
      —————————————
      “Wolves have been on this Earth long
      before man even existed.
      The Creator put these majestic animals
      here for a reason to bring balance to the ecosystem by consuming weak, old, and diseased game,thus helping the healthy predators and non-predators alike thrive better, keeping vegetation robust and waters clean for fish to thrive, and they are also a direct ancestor to dogs as we know today.

      Wolves also play a very important role
      to Native American spirituality,
      for they are revered very sacred and it is considered an act of desecration and sacrilege to harm or destroy ALL that is revered sacred.

      Wolves are shy animals and avoid human contact.
      They’re not man-eaters as the un-educated
      and backwards-minded portray them to be.
      They have become scapegoats, stemmed from
      old myths, fairy tales, and superstitions,
      along with the lies and blasphemy of ruthless and greedy special interests and extremists who want to maintain the barbaric status quo of the primitive 19th Century.

      This is 2012 A.D. and what was popular more than a hundred years ago, is not popular anymore, and the time is now to leave the past with the past and start respecting all of Great Spirit’s creations in the
      modern 21st Century, as the Creator intended to be in the first place.”
      —————————————-

  14. avatar Tayo says:

    How many wolf packs never stray beyond park boundaries–which to them dont exist–out of the 82 wolves in Yellowstone? Sounds like most of the remaining population would be gone by the time this was all over. Which would lead to reduced genetic diversity inside and outside the park. Feel free to correct me if i’m wrong-.

    • avatar WM says:

      If that happens [fewer wolves in Yellowstone], under the contemplated WY delisting plan, it will require WY to have more wolves and breeding pairs outside the Park to meet the delisting criteria. So, in the end, maybe the genetic diversity won’t suffer so much, but it will be burdensome for WY, as it offsets its lost population, now focused outside the Park. Won’t they just love that, in the end?

      Do you suppose WY will weigh in on the MT proposal formally and oppose it? Are these states even talking anymore, after WY screwed up the entire NRM delisting for ID and MT by having a crappy wolf plan, then in retaliation, WY got cut out of the Congressional rider deal, having to make a go on their own? Each time you think the last chapter in this fiasco has been written, something new pops up.

      • avatar JB says:

        Again, that’s why each state should seek to maintain its own minimum viable population. Setting management objectives so low leaves each state somewhat dependent upon the others for the maintenance of the metapopulation. I cannot think of a single instance where a state purposefully manages a game species at or below what is considered to be viable?

        • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          JB – I don’t and won’t speak for Monatana or Wyoming. Repeating – the Idaho wolf population management objective is NOT at or below a viable level. It is NOT at or below the re-listing criteria of 150 individuals/15 breeding pairs. Our wolf population is and will be managed to maintain a population significantly ABOVE the 150/15BP threshold.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Mark,

            Why so clandestine about the numbers? What, pray tell, does significantly above 150/50 BP threshold mean? To the haters, 10 over those numbers, if that many, would mean significantly above. Why not come out and be honest in terms of overall numbers… 300, 400, 500… more?

            I understand the rural utilitarian wildlife philosophy, but gosh we’ve got three thousand +- here and the plan is not to maintain significantly above the benchmark “low end” number, but a real number to use in terms of wolf harvest where one only needs subtract numbers from present total+ young of the year and natural wolf annual mortality data. Perhaps a simplified view, but we will know how many we have.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Immer –
              A fair question that’s been asked several times. Not having a specific target is not clandestine, it is realistic. The purpose of this objective is not to assure any group of stakeholders, it is to demonstrate that the Idaho wolf population will be managed to assure that wolf numbers are always maintained at a safe level.
              There is no specific number that can be responsibly used as a target objective. I understand that is very un-satisfying to many here. The best I can offer is that we are committed to managing the Idaho wolf population safely above the 150/15BP level to assure a sustained, viable wolf population is conserved. That objective will be easily confirmed every year by the Idaho wolf population estimate.

            • avatar jon says:

              Dan, which scientists said 100 wolves is more than enough? I find it rather strange how 100 wolves is considered too many by people like.

              From Ed Bangs himself,

              “As the science around wolf populations evolved, Bangs said, the rhetoric over the wolf issue has fixated on 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves. However, those numbers are a biological tool, not a hard and fast number.

              For instance, some research shows that an average of 14 wolves exist for every breeding pair, a reality that would dictate more wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho than the 300 outlined in the original recovery plan.

              “It’s true, 300 wolves were not enough,” Bangs said. “I’m sorry that it’s reduced to these sound bites: ‘They promised only 100 wolves per state.’ That’s not true. Actually, the recovery goal is a pretty complex thing, and it’s based on the current science.”

              Imo, Idaho can sustain many more than 100-150 wolves in Idaho. The problem is that many hunters hate the wolf just because it kills elk and deer to survive, the same animals you hunters want to kill. The wolf relies on elk and deer for survival, yet it is hated by many just because it tries to survive.

              • avatar Dan says:

                The problem is that the elk and deer herds can not sustain the wolf and the human harvest as it was in 2010. What happened in YNP is happening in N. Idaho, the elk herds are dropping quickly leaving little or none for the human hunter.
                The compromise is to limit the human hunter and the wolf. Humans fewer tags, which is what is happening every season and for the wolf – fewer wolves. Both can coexist but the amount of wolves JB and others want is to many. We can argue native elk habitat, native wolf habitat, MVP and so on and so on….but the math is simple, 150-300 is a good number of wolves that would allow for a decent human elk hunt. And seriously, if it happens that a few to many wolves get harvested in one area or the state, it would be an easy solution to bring a few from another area.

            • avatar jon says:

              Dan, Idaho fish and game are saying one thing when it comes to wolf numbers and the commissioners are saying another thing. Jon Rachael who is the wolf manager of Idaho fish and game are claiming 500-600 wolves in Idaho, not counting this year’s pups and Tony Mcdermott Idaho fish and game commissioner is saying 1200-1600 wolves in Idaho. How is it even possible to get down to 150-300 wolves when no one knows for certain how many wolves there truly are in Idaho? You cannot count every wolf. It’s pretty much impossible, so getting down to 150-300 wolves like you want is possible because no one knows how many wolves there are in Idaho. Everyone will give you a different number as to how many wolves they think they are. Thinking and knowing are too different things. Imo, is it virtually impossible to get down to 150-300 wolves just because no one truly knows how many wolves there are in Idaho. You you agree or disagree?

            • avatar jon says:

              Is impossible is what I meant to say.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              ++A legislature filled with wealthy, middle-aged, white, male ranchers and a wildlife commission filled with middle-aged, white, male hunters.++

              Montana is 6% Native American with about 2% other races with the rest being white. The Native Americans are represented by their Gerrymandered districts. Montana has a fair number of females of legislators. . Middle aged white females can be many times worst than middle age white males ( Debbie Barrett R Dillion) Anyone over 18 can file and run for office. Who else is going to represent the state?

            • avatar JB says:

              Elk, and what percentage of the state are ranchers? Hunters?

              My point is you have a relatively small, subset of the population with a homogenous mindset making policy determinations for everyone. *And to be clear, I was talking about Idaho, not Montana; though if the shoe fits…

          • avatar JB says:

            Mark:

            The problem with using 150 (or “significantly above 150″ as the benchmark is that number is based on very questionable science (as acknowledged by the original authors). As you probably know, the determination of an MVP requires two very subjective judgments (and very important judgments) that have NEVER, to my knowledge, been acknowledged by any of the state agencies involved: (1) what is the relevant time span under consideration; and (2) what is an acceptable risk of extinction for the population in question? How one answers these questions has a profound affect on the MVP estimate. Lacking such answers to such questions (and the associated estimate), most would use the generally accepted 50/500 rule, which is quite a bit above “significantly above 150″–unless significantly above 150 means 500?

            • avatar WM says:

              JB,

              Not to intrude on your conversation with Mark G., but given the fecundity of wolves, and the means by which most have been re-established here anyway, an for each state MVP is kind of arbitrary, and maybe unnecessary standard. On the other hand, it might be a mean to push for higher numbers for reasons other than genetic diversity.

              I have said this before, and will continue to say it. Just move some around within the NRM, using translocation techniques, or exchange some with adjacent WA and OR or even get some more from neighboring Canada. Canadian wolves keep coming down naturally anyway. From a genetic standpoint it doesn’t seem to be a very big deal.

              This sort of thing seems to be squarely within the spirit of the Genetics MOU between ID, MT and FWS (including Yellowstone wolves). Don’t know where WY is with the MOU thing or why they are not participating, but you can bet they would donate wolves to somebody else given the opportunity.

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

              And, please don’t tell WA that 150/15 isn’t enough for a self-sustaining population as they contemplate under their plan. They don’t have enough room for that many, conflict free, let alone something like 500. LOL.

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              I understand you points JB. The management objective is based on 150 individual wolves or 15 breeding pairs. I suggerst that the adaptive process of wildlife management – continuous monitoring, population assessment, ease of adjusting managment objectives to accomplish sustainability/viability in wolf populations makes the theoretical risks you cite near moot.

            • avatar Dan says:

              At the Ed Bangs et al seminar I attended at the University of Idaho Law Building (which I might add was a very pro-wolf crowd) Ed claimed 150 was enough.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              I respect Ed’s opinion, but in reality, this isn’t a scientific question; it’s a question that combines the science of population viability analysis with normative judgments regarding an acceptable risk of extinction. That isn’t a decision that Ed can (or should) make for everyone.

              WM: I think MVP should be an “necessary standard”; its necessity is brought about by states’ insistence on setting extremely low population thresholds.

              Mark: Respectfully, I suggest that what is an acceptable level of risk should not be determined by a group of people who perceive an incentive to maximize said risk for the populations in question (i.e., state boards/commissions).

              • avatar Dan says:

                JB,
                Wolves circle the Northern Hemisphere. The risk of extinction is nil. If we run a few short down here in Idaho I guarantee Canada, Alaska or one of the upper mid-west state will give us enough to make up the difference. You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. You’re trying to over think this thing to death. The past 15 years has taught us wolves take right to Idaho and our elk, deer and moose. Why are you so set on having wolves here that were born here? We have been sold for close to two decades that there is no genetic difference between the ones up north and the ones here so what’s the difference if IDFG over harvests a few and we have to bring down a few to get back to the 150?

            • avatar JB says:

              Sorry, that should read, and “unnecessary standard”…

            • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              JB –
              I disagree that, in this case, my Commission perceives an incentive to manage Idaho wolves to a position of extinction risk. To the contrary, the incentive is to manage to avoid that risk. The real issue we’re working around is not risk of extinction – it is disparate and intractable management preferences for wolves. Current Idaho wolf management objectives and standards are not in fact a threat to the integrity, viability, sustainability of wolves in Idaho. Those standards are however vehemently opposed by many on the basis of philosophical/value based preferences.

            • avatar jon says:

              Idaho fish and game’s Jon Rachael claims 500-600 wolves in Idaho, not counting the wolf pups born this year and Idaho fish and game commissioner Tony Mcdermott claims 1200 wolves in Idaho. Where on earth he came to this number, I don’t think anyone knows. How on earth can the Idaho fish and game and commission justify these aggressive wolf hunting seasons Mark if they haven no idea how many wolves are in Idaho? If the commission and Idaho fish and game have no idea how many wolves there are, they shouldn’t be letting these aggressive hunting seasons going on and going on all the way into June where wolf pups can be killed by hunters. Letting hunters take 5 wolves each just shows that Idaho does not want to manage wolves responsibly. It seems like it’s just kill as many wolves as we can and let’s go from there. I find it very worrisome that Idaho fish and game and the commission don’t want to say exactly how many wolves they want in Idaho. It’s just above 150 and that is very concerning for anyone who feel that wolves have a place in Idaho.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              The NA Model is based founded upon state-based management of resources. Responsible management starts with maintaining a viable population in order to ensure that states can manage trust resources independently from the decisions of surrounding states. As long as we insist on state-based management (i.e., the NA model), the state is the appropriate level to assess extinction risk for a given population.

              P.S. You say that I’m over-thinking this; I see that such thinking SHOULD be wholly unnecessary. States should not manage a public trust asset at or near what is needed to make it viable. Tell me, how would you feel if Idaho started managing elk this way…?

              Mark:

              Apologies; that isn’t quite what I meant when I said “maximize”. What I intended to convey is that your state commission has the incentive to maximize risk tolerance (downplay population risks, if you will) when making decisions about the viability of wolf populations so as to have the greatest “flexibility” in wolf management.

              “The real issue we’re working around is not risk of extinction – it is disparate and intractable management preferences for wolves.”

              Certainly I agree that for interest groups on the ends of the continuum (those that control debate) this is true; however, for those in the middle (the moderates who should have a more powerful voice in the debate, but are stymied by a commission made solely of middle-aged, white, male sportsmen), concern about the long-term viability of wolves is quite real, as is concern that states are not acting responsibly with respect to their beneficiaries. (Dismissing the concerns of those in the middle will only serve to keep the debate polarized).

              • avatar Dan says:

                JB,
                The IDFG and surrounding states have a long history of planting game species. They plant trout, steelhead, chinook, pheasants, elk, mountain goats -the list goes on and on…so why when it could comes to wolves are you up in arms? They do manage other species where they do not manage a MVP – that’s why the lengthy history of planting. As long as wolves continue to be prolific worldwide, as I see them being forever, supplementing an area that gets over-harvested does not seem out of context to me considering the great number of historic plantings.
                Why this dreamy image where every wolf has it’s 20k or 40k acres of public land and we all live happily ever after? It don’t work that way, it never has…populations rise, fall and flow and sometimes if we want them in an area we have to plant them.

            • avatar WM says:

              JB,

              ++Responsible management starts with maintaining a viable population in order to ensure that states can manage trust resources independently from the decisions of surrounding states.++

              Would this statement. and the argument for MVP at the individual state level also apply to grizzly bear, martin, fisher, wolverine, lynx, woodland caribou, and several other species?

            • avatar JB says:

              WM:

              Great question, WM. Keeping in mind that this is my opinions…my short answer is “yes”. However, I also recognize that with some species states will be constrained by available habitat, species’ habitat requirements, etc. (Grizzly are a great example.) I would argue that where the viability of such species is questionable, states at minimum have a duty to avoid actions that would negatively impact populations and thereby threaten the persistence of the trust asset. Importantly, such an interpretation would not necessarily exclude hunting or trapping, as these activities could be controlled such that mortality was greatly limited. However, I think the burden of proof should be on the state to show that they are taking actions to promote (or at least avoid increasing risks to) species that are at risk of localized extinction (which, in fact, states generally do). If states don’t want to take such action then there is always the ESA…

              BTW: This is why I disagree with the FWS and many wildlife advocates regarding the use of state boundaries to draw DPS’s. If one state chooses to take regulatory action to promote a species that is imperiled regionally (lynx, for example), while the adjacent state refuses, the FWS should have the flexibility to use state boundaries to draw a DPS, citing inadequate regulatory mechanisms. Potentially, this would make the ESA a much more flexible “stick”, while also potentially limiting instances where states are “punished” with listings because of the actions of surrounding states.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              Surely you jest? I am not (at all) “up in arms” about species relocation/reintroduction/stocking. But you’re being intellectually dishonest when you compare what’s done with steelhead or pheasant–non-native species that are put in place specifically for harvest, with what you’re proposing for wolves.

              You’re also putting words into my mouth. I do not, nor have I ever promoted the “dreamy” idea that wolves will exist along side human populations without any management. I don’t have a problem with lethal control of wolves that kill livestock, nor do I have a problem with regulated public hunting and trapping of wolves. What I object to is purposefully managing a wildlife population at (or below) what is considered by scientists to be a viable population.

              I’ll ask again: How would you react if elk were managed this way? Now tell me why people who enjoy/support wolves–or more generally are concerned about wildlife resources–should act or feel any differently?

              • avatar Dan says:

                JB,
                As I have stated before there are many scientists who say 100 is enough, let alone 150. You are choosing to ignore those scientists and side with the ones that want 500 or more. Steelhead is native btw if you were implying otherwise as well as chinook. We are allowed to harvest the penned raised starters from both of those populations, adiposed clipped. The way you front wolves we’re going to have to pen raise elk and have to clip an ear and leave the “natives” for the wolves with your numbers. I don’t know how much data you need but one is a point, two is a direction and three is a trend.(learned from my little brother who developed Ivy Bridge’s 3 dimensional transistor) What we have in N. Idaho is one Lolo, two the St. Joe and three the Coeur d’Alenes. The wolves have already taken away our cow elk seasons. Next, is going to be over the counter bull tags. If the trend were to continue going the way it was, I would be on a draw for an elk every few years. So, why is the compromise of 150 wolves and the opportunity for me to hunt elk every year, bull only, and a cow draw every few years such a hard compromise for you to agree with?

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              Go back and read my original post and you’ll see that I have not ignored any scientists. Rather, I have pointed out that the science that gets you 150 or 500 (or other numbers, some quite higher) is dependent upon two NON-SCIENTIFIC numbers: (1) the length of the time interval in which risk is assessed, and (2) risk tolerance. Those questions should be addressed in a transparent way, preferably with input from all stakeholders, before deciding what the minimums should be. I pointed to the well-known 50/500 rule as a good starting place when these two inputs are not known.

              —-
              By the way, you are overstating the effect of wolves on elk population and AGAIN choosing to ignore other relevant mortality sources (bears, cougar). The fact that you place the blame solely on wolves, (“The wolves have already taken away our cow elk seasons..”) speaks volumes about your bias, not mine.

              “…why is the compromise of 150 wolves and the opportunity for me to hunt elk every year, bull only, and a cow draw every few years such a hard compromise for you to agree with?”

              Because (a) it isn’t a compromise, it is the minimum that IDF&G can get away with (or “significantly above” that minimum, which could mean 350 or 1), and (b) it isn’t responsible management. I’ve said this many times before, but it deserves mention once again: there is no way in Hell that 150 wolves or even 500 wolves kill as many elk as 2,000 cougars. This management plan is about punishing the federal government and those that promoted wolf conservation for having the audacity to intervene; it’s unneeded, childish, politically-driven gloating.

              • avatar Dan says:

                “This management plan is about punishing the federal government and those that promoted wolf conservation for having the audacity to intervene; it’s unneeded, childish, politically-driven gloating.”

                Where’s my tin-foil hat…total BS!

                It’s easy to state arbitrary numbers from Columbus, Ohio and it’s easy to read numerous slated papers of why and how from both sides, but I live it…I can’t stress that enough. I am 40 years old and have lived in the St. Joe valley my entire life. I have hiked and observed every spring green up and watched the elk herds on the southern facing slopes. I have counted the yearlings in the valley bottom.(I took a great picture of a cow elk herd this spring..do want to see it and see for yourself there’s hardly any yearlings?) There’s no bias. I understand the bears, cougars and wolves. I know what each consumes. I see the evidence! The actual facts are simple our elk herds are declining and it’s simply because of the addition of another predator – the wolf. Cougars, bears and humans came to levels where they all persisted. What we are experiencing right now is the same thing. We are finding the levels at which cougars, bears, wolves and humans can persist and the levels from 2010 were to many. That’s why IDFG will not give you exact numbers because they are finding out the levels for themselves. they realize the papers say 100 different things so they are finding out for themselves on the ground. Call it what you will, but the truth is simple there’s no “punishment” there’s simply a figuring out period. The data speaks…it says the Lolo, St. Joe and CDAs calf survival rate is non-sustainable so IDFG increased the bear tags and the wolf tags and I believe extended the cougar season(I’ll have to check the cougar season though as I am not 100% on that since I’m not a cougar hunter.) It’s pure common sense stuff…now where did I put that hat again…
                p.s. I invite you to come visit..we have some great hiking opportunities and I know it would change you…lol maybe not in the elk/human/wolf thing but in some way it would.

            • avatar JB says:

              “It’s easy to state arbitrary numbers from Columbus, Ohio and it’s easy to read numerous slated papers of why and how from both sides, but I live it…I can’t stress that enough.”

              Dan, It’s hotter than Hell in Columbus today, but I do not presume that my experience of the weather allows me to comment on climate change; rather, I rely on objectively collected, peer-reviewed science. But even if I accept your anecdote, for every Idaho hunter who claims that wolves have had dramatic effects on elk populations, I can find another Idaho resident who claims they have no problem finding elk. Perhaps your anecdotal experience isn’t representative?

              “There’s no bias. I understand the bears, cougars and wolves. I know what each consumes.I see the evidence! The actual facts are simple our elk herds are declining and it’s simply because of the addition of another predator – the wolf. Cougars, bears and humans came to levels where they all persisted.”

              Dan: Wolves have roughly the same caloric requirements (less actually) as cougars–and cougars are not persisting off of rabbits and deer–they’re eating elk. And there are half as many wolves as cougars. Ever consider that cougar kills are a bit harder to find than wolf kills? Perhaps that is coloring your experience?

              More to the point, killing a wolf and killing a cougar lead to a roughly equivalent reduction in ungulate biomass consumed by predators. A management agency that is concerned with balancing the effects of predation on ungulate hunting opportunity AND carnivore populations would start by BALANCING their harvest of carnivores–NOT by reducing one species down near its minimum.

              “That’s why IDFG will not give you exact numbers because they are finding out the levels for themselves. they realize the papers say 100 different things so they are finding out for themselves on the ground. Call it what you will, but the truth is simple there’s no “punishment” there’s simply a figuring out period. The data speaks…it says the Lolo, St. Joe and CDAs calf survival rate is non-sustainable so IDFG increased the bear tags and the wolf tags and I believe extended the cougar season(I’ll have to check the cougar season though as I am not 100% on that since I’m not a cougar hunter.) It’s pure common sense stuff…now where did I put that hat again…”

              Again, a balanced approach would be to reduce both wolves and cougars to roughly equivalent numbers, not take wolves to minimum viable populations. This is about showing the federal government who is boss and capitulating to the interests of far-right wing hunter groups like the so-called “sportsmen” for fish and wildlife.

              “p.s. I invite you to come visit..we have some great hiking opportunities and I know it would change you…lol maybe not in the elk/human/wolf thing but in some way it would.”

              I’ve been to Idaho many times, Dan. I used to live in northern Utah and go back to visit every year or two, and we (almost) always make a trip or two to Idaho. But, of course, only people who live there really know what’s going on, right?…that is, unless they disagree with you. ;)

              • avatar Dan says:

                JB,
                You have never been to this part of Idaho or you would know more about what I’m talking about. Probably McCall, Challis,Stanley, Salmon maybe drove highway 12 once. All the popular spots right?
                I know as well as you know a whole bunch of so called peer reviewed papers say what the authors intended from the onset of the research. I have been around universities far too long. Just like when they were researching the acceptance of wolves in Idaho. The question was asked “Do you support the re-introduction of wolves back into the roadless and wilderness parts of Idaho?” and of course, the resounding results were “yes” because people didn’t realize “yes” meant “and non-wilderness and road areas as well” The next two times the question was asked the response dropped because people saw through the bogus question. They never asked the question again…hmmm could that be because it would have come back negative? There was a large framing bias in the question. So, despite your mountains of science, I know otherwise. To add, none of these papers seem to account for areas I’m familiar with…hmmmm? more framing bias? Particular, nicely chosen areas? Areas where they already know the answer? hmmmm suspicion abounds..for instance, studies on diets of predators…don’t you think that would change from area to area yet they seem to be used broadly across the board..and the Lolo “habitat problems” I have a study from 1939 that looked at the diets of elk in that area. Don’t you think if it had habitat problems they would redo that study and if the elk were eating far different things then it would lend supportive evidence to the “habitat problems” notion? No one has recreated that study because they already made up their minds it had to be habitat and not the wolves..
                Ever hunt a cougar? It takes dogs or luck. In Avery, where I live, the locals that did run dogs kept getting them killed by wolves, so I think that answers why the IDFG isn’t going after cougars. The cougar seasons are about as liberal as they could be right now and unless IDFG hires trappers or professional cougars hunters it’s going to be difficult to reduce their numbers.
                IDFG is trying to balance predators your stubbornness just won’t allow you to see that.
                Yeah, live in your cubical and throw stones out west…that’ll solve all the problems!
                You know, my neighbor(who is also a mentor of mine I might add) is a huge wolf advocate, but he doesn’t hunt elk however, he sees the same things I see but then again that’s just anecdotal….

            • avatar JB says:

              And BTW, there are probably more tinfoil hat types per capita in Idaho than any other state. Between the right-wing religious zealots, the KKK, the end-of-the-road gun nuts, and the anti-government tea party types, its a wonder your government can function at all. Then again…it sure is beautiful! :)

              • avatar Dan says:

                JB,
                LOL…I’ve been to two Ohio State vs. Michigan games in Columbus….ahhhh let’s just say Idaho doesn’t have the market cornered on odd people….

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              Ahh, so familiarity with Idaho is no longer enough? You are going to take the “you don’t know ’cause you ain’t local” argument a step further? Now I can’t really know ’cause I haven’t been to exactly where you live?

              I can see this conversation has reached a place where it is no longer productive. Ah well, the least I can do is turn your “local omniscience” argument around: I spend every day–5 to 7 days a week–around academics, most of whom are wildlife ecologists; I work hand in hand with scientists and managers at our state wildlife agency; and every year I attend 2-5 wildlife and fisheries-related conferences. I can tell you that, in my *personal experience* your ideas about academic bias are beyond paranoid–they are ludicrous. Academics love to argue. In academia there is always an incentive to disagree–one of the reasons there is never, NEVER complete consensus. You are jumping at shadows, and in the process, you are displaying your own bias for everyone to see.

              I can see that our conversation is no longer productive. I think I’ll go back to my “cubical” and read some more of the science that you so disdain. Good night.

              • avatar Dan says:

                You’ve lost me…I do not disdain science at all. That’s laughable, if there’s person that believes in “science” more than me, I’d like to meet them, however I also know academics…which I am careful to use science and academics in the same sentence at times when it comes to passion driven issues…academics drift from “science”…
                Let’s review
                – I use science and you shoot it down because it doesn’t agree with your science.
                – I use on the ground observations and you shoot it down because it doesn’t agree with your science.
                -ummm at this point, I’ve lost hope in your science because it doesn’t make sense to anything I know from seminars, observation or otherwise.
                -your model for successful wolf management in Idaho does not work…it leaves to few elk for humans and I have laid out why the IDFG is not going after cougars. They are aggressively going after bears because it’s a plausible solution at this time. Eventually they will trade wolves for cougars, I think, but at the time being they are just trying to stabilize the elk herd… anecdotal or otherwise that’s the read I get…but you’re right they’re just punishing the feds (rolling eyes)

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan:

              Your recollection of the above conversation is…interesting. Your previous post is filled with unfounded allegations about biased science–it’s right there in B&W for anyone to read.

              Most science comes out of universities, where researchers (academics) are less likely than industry or agency-based scientists to be biased by self interest or overt political pressure.

              “I use science and you shoot it down because it doesn’t agree with your science.”

              First, you don’t “use” science to do anything but answer questions. Your problem is that you pick and choose among what you see; when it supports your view, it’s good science (or a valid observation), when it doesn’t, it must be biased. Second, you haven’t cited a single study, so I don’t know how you can claim to have used science at all? Really, you just prattled on with opinions based mostly on your own observations.

              “I use on the ground observations and you shoot it down because it doesn’t agree with your science.”

              You use observations, and then draw conclusions from them that oversimplify what’s going on; conclusions like:

              “The wolves have already taken away our cow elk seasons.”

              “The actual facts are simple our elk herds are declining and it’s simply because of the addition of another predator – the wolf.”

              You seem to have a very strong desire to oversimplify the problem and place all of the blame on wolves, when the existing peer-reviewed science suggests that habitat, rainfall, human hunting and predator interactions are all important factors–and these will vary from place to place. Read: There is no biological reason to pursue wolves so aggressively in every corner of the state.

              Your desire to oversimplify the problem leads you to make statements such as “You’re trying to over think this thing to death.”

              No, Dan. I’m trying to be intellectually honest–as I have from the very beginning. You just can’t see it because you’ve already made up your mind–it’s all wolves fault, as you continue to claim.

              “-your model for successful wolf management in Idaho does not work…it leaves to few elk for humans…”

              What model? I haven’t given you any model. Nor have I given you any numbers. All I’ve said is that you START by determining how many of a given species is required to keep that population viable–a number that should be determined with input from stakeholders regarding localized extinction risk and the relevant time window. Then you work on how to balance numbers (in my view, this process should also be engage all relevant stakeholders). You’re in such a hurry to condemn my every word, I wonder if you actually bothered to take the time to READ what I’ve written? You’re jumping to all sorts of conclusions based (as far as I can tell) on what you think I think.

              (And yes, you have given a plausible explanation for why the IDF&G isn’t pursuing cougars more aggressively. However, I’m willing to bet you that you’ll have a higher success rate hunting cougars than wolves, especially when there are 4 times as many and you can use dogs in the process. It doesn’t explain why IDF&G is setting its benchmark so low.)

              • avatar Dan says:

                “Your problem is that you pick and choose among what you see”

                JB, you are the master of picking and choosing. Typically the way you address my response is that you ignore any facts and go after my opinion because it’s the only thing you can do. For instance, you never address my forage study from 1939, you didn’t address the question validity of how they asked the wolf re-introduction question, you have never addressed the declining calf/cow ratio that is oddly in line with our colonization of wolves in the St. Joe/CDA/Lolo, the list goes on and on.. Now I have a theory or two why you don’t address those – first, you are a social scientist and not an ecologist or biologist. Second, you want to glaze over my facts and attack any opinion I have because a guy living in the Bitterroots in a town of 50 people could never actually know what’s going on in the woods….to which I just laugh!!!

                I read what you write very carefully and it typically reads like this –
                -wolves are a public trust and they deserve protections as such
                -we should determine an MVP based on criteria that isn’t currently being used and we should set their population at amount above that MVP and for Idaho you throw out 500/50
                -and you rail against the IDFG and the citizens of Idaho because we want the fewest amount of wolves that can persist naturally and the maximum amount of elk with those fewest amount of wolves.

                What can I say, we love to eat elk as much as the wolves and our elk herds were very robust until the colonization of wolves in these areas.

                For a social scientist you should have been all over the fact that we love to hunt elk and it has nothing to do with punishing anyone, we just want our elk herds back. I think you’re failing as a social scientist on this one.

                So beat me down as much as you would like but I love elk and the hunting of elk. My elk hunting opportunities in the forest of my birth has diminished in the last 4 years and the major contributing factor, according to all those that spend their time in these woods is the increased amount of wolves.

                Nothing personal against wolves or you…I think you and everyone who is railing against Idahoans and delisting has it mostly wrong…we love to hunt elk

                The last thing I want to add, if I had the elk hunting I had in the late 90’s and the early 00’s I would have never found or been on this site. I only found this site searching for answers of our declining elk herds.

                So go ahead shoot back how people in New York City (why is it always NYC) have a say and they want more wolves and fewer elk hunting opportunities for me..

            • avatar JB says:

              You *may* read Dan, but you clearly do not comprehend. You continue to mischaracterize (or misconstrue) what I’ve written. For example, I have never presented a one-sided view of the literature documenting factors affecting elk populations. Wolves definitely have been shown to have an impact; but that is only one piece of a very complex puzzle that includes habitat, precipitation, human hunting, and interactions with other predators–and these vary from one place to the next and over time. That is an objective reading of the literature, and it is what I’ve been saying all along. Again, you’re the one who wants to oversimplify the literature–you’re the one who claims it is all wolves.

              And if you actually took the time to read my research (you clearly have not) you might be surprised by what you’d find. You would, for example, find that our models generally show that support/opposition for wolves is largely a function of individual perceptions about the costs and benefits associated with wolves (this fits with your claims, does it not?). Hunters and ranchers perceive greater costs, wildlife advocates, environmentalists and the general public perceive greater benefits. But that’s a model of how individuals make judgments. It doesn’t account for the way that institutions (e.g. the state legislature, agencies) make decisions–and this is where the symbolic nature of the wolf issue rears its ugly head. Wolves are being managed exactly they way *some* hunters and ranchers want (population minimization); however, their benefit comes at a largely unacknowledged cost to the rest of society. And who makes these policy decisions? A legislature filled with wealthy, middle-aged, white, male ranchers and a wildlife commission filled with middle-aged, white, male hunters. (And that’s only part of the story. We haven’t even touched the public trust doctrine, nor the federal lands issue.)

              —-
              Here (below) is just a small taste of the evidence that Idaho’s political institutions are using the wolf as a symbolic “wedge” issue, as I claimed. Read it, and then you can go back to telling me how I don’t know anything that goes on in Idaho.

              *2009* The governor of Idaho announced that he favored a plan that would kill all but 100 of Idaho’s wolves

              *2001* Idaho passed House Joint Memorial 5, which called on the FWS to immediately remove all wolves from Idaho by any means necessary.

              *2002* Idaho Senate Concurrent Resolution 134 reaffirms position expressed in HJM 5.

              *2009* Idaho House Bill 139 attempted to make it a felony to “protect a Canadian gray wolf”.

              *2009* IDF&G sends memo to Senator G. Schroeder estimating the negative impacts of wolves and other predators on hunting. The memo assumes a linear relation between elk population and license sales and assumes all predator caused mortality is additive–none is compensatory. Also, the memo makes no note of peer reviewed science estimating the revenue of wildlife viewing opportunities.

              *2010* Idaho commissioner Tony McDermott sends a letter to sportsmen and known anti-wolf organizations opinining: “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.” (I’ll send this one to you if you’d like?)

              *2011* Idaho’s legislature passed and governor signed into law, HO 343, which declared a state of emergency as a result of wolves and holds that Idaho’s citizens “are immediately and continuously threatened and harmed by the sustained presence and growing population of Canadian gray wolves”; to date, not a single person has been attacked by wolves in Idaho.

              • avatar Dan says:

                What do you want me to do JB, I track most of the things you claim…I track snow pack, precipitation, hunter mortality and to some extent predator effects. I have tracked, logged and viewed this data and what I am telling is you is exactly what’s happening on the St. Joe. I simplify for your easy digestion. Do you really want to read hunters took 29 bears from the upper approx. 600 acres of the St. Joe this spring? That the hound hunter were only able to harvest 3 cats on the upper Joe this winter. Do you want to read we had 8.2 inches of rain for the month of March. Do you want know how many scientists have probed the St. Joe in the last 5 years. One looking for wolves four years ago and he left because the terrain tearing him up. A couple looking for giant salamanders and they failed…I found one a month after they left. A couple of biologists who where looking for harlequin duck broods and said “we never found any, we just found a group of five females” OMG! even Sibley guide will tell you that juveniles look like females the entire first summer! We had a biologist looking for tiny scorpions and he knew his stuff, it was very intriguing. Of course, your standard USFS biologists are looking for flammulated owls, harlequin ducks, goshawks, pileated woodpeckers and whatever else hot bird of the day is. Of course they are 2 and 3rd college students and you know what you get there. Anyway, I scan the literature, but unlike you I spend way more time in the woods. The literature does not have hardly anything on the St. Joe except IDFG elk counts. When I did a fairly hard search a few years back I came across the 1929 browse study to the south. They are even clueless to how many wolves we have here. A group of USWS trappers were here a couple of weeks back and they were laughing at the wolf numbers here. At the bar, they said the world was clueless. I think the disconnect is that all you have is the literature. Essentially what I have is first hand experience going out and seeing it. All these wolf studies are different because they all are specific to certain areas and as we all know wolves are adaptable. (hence they circle the globe)
                Rattling off all that crap that goes on in Boise is nonsense. Boise is 350 miles from here. Not a single one of those hot heads have ever been to the St. Joe that I’m aware of. Their take and motivations on wolves is a far cry from mine and the people around here. The only thing they and I agree on is that it is my opinion that the reduced elk herds in the St. Joe can be largely contributed to wolves. I have a friend, who is single so he has a lot of time, he’s college educated so he knows a thing or two about science. He has harvested an elk for 22 straight years except last year. He hunted every day of the season and he contributed his lack of success to wolves. He said elk numbers were way down, the elk were jittery and they were on the constant move. This is from a guy that hikes in the woods over 200 days a year!

                I believe your caught up in the politics and what a few politicians are shooting their mouths about. What I’m trying to convey to you is what I see and hear from people on the ground. You can continue to keep your head in the sand and try to tear me down over academics or literature but so be it, I see it, I have a feel for what’s happening.

              • avatar Dan says:

                Then again, I realize you don’t care about my way of life or my friends or my family’s way. You care about the whole of what society wants even though chances are they’ll never step foot in the St. Joe Valley but they’ll go to bed at night with a warm feeling because wolves are there.

            • avatar JB says:

              Dan,

              I’m going to ignore your second reply, because I think (finally) we’re actually getting to the crux of the issue. Let me be clear. I don’t know squat about what is happening in the St. Joe valley; rather, what I’ve been summarizing is the gist of what you might call “big picture” studies on predator-prey relationships that include wolves and elk. As I have tried to make clear in every post, we expect variation across time and landscape type. Note–and this is important–I don’t care if IDF&G goes in and kills all the wolves in the Lolo, or the St. Joe. I am not a wolf advocate; I am an advocate for responsible, science-informed wildlife management. What I care about is wildlife agencies meeting their public trust obligations, and that means keeping a viable populations–in layman’s terms, they can take the kill ‘em all approach here and there, they just can’t take it everywhere. I object to the target (n=151+) because it is arbitrary and DOES NOT take into account the kind of local variation you describe; rather, it basically starts with the proposition that wolves are bad for hunting, so they will be reduced to the greatest extent possible wherever they occur. That isn’t adaptive policy, it’s ideological policy.

              —-

              “I believe your caught up in the politics and what a few politicians are shooting their mouths about.”

              If they were just shooting their mouths off, there would not be a problem. But there have been clear and consistent attempts by Idaho politicians and the Idaho wildlife commission to reduce or eliminate wolves.

              • avatar Dan says:

                JB,
                We have far different backgrounds, life lessons and values; which seems to be the one obvious conclusion of this discussion. I comprehend your your big picture and your motivation. I’m just going to have to leave it as I do not agree with some of the foundations of your ideology.

            • avatar jon says:

              Dan, so when a hunter doesn’t bag an elk in the st. joe, it’s because of wolves right? Do you know how lame that sounds to blame a predator just because you or someone you know failed to bag an elk? Thank you for saying that it is your opinion and nothing more when talking about the reduced elk herds in the st. joe Hunters blaming wolves for seeing less elk is very typical and nothing new.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              JB

              ++I don’t care if IDF&G goes in and kills all the wolves in the Lolo, or the St. Joe. I am not a wolf advocate; I am an advocate for responsible, science-informed wildlife management. ++

              Do you feel a state fish and game agency is science-imformed wildlife mangagment? In order for a wildlife biologist to be employed by fish and game departments in the NRS that individual must have a master’s in wildlife biology and some have Ph.D’s. Or only can a university can provide that type of research and science.

            • avatar JB says:

              Elk:

              Good science can come from lots of places (I know lots of good agency scientists), though University scientists are less likely to be influenced by political pressure than agencies.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              Dan says: “I believe your caught up in the politics and what a few politicians are shooting their mouths about.”

              After reading Dan’s exchange with JB – who is clearly less emotional and provides some facts – I would argue that you are caught up in the politics that you ridiculously claim JB to be caught up in.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Recall the pressure put on Creel and Rotella by the Montana FWP

              http://m.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/article_0d470f22-fff8-11df-85de-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=jqm

    • avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      Tayo –
      The concept of genetic diversity, as you use this example to describe it – does not fit your conclusion. In that context, you are wrong. Good time to remind everyone that maintaining full genetic diversity among extant populations (wolves inside and outside YNP are not genetically separate populations BTW) requires the exchange of genetic material of only one individual per generation, between the populations.
      Given the well known and documented proclivity of wolves to roam very long distances outside of their home ranges (hundreds of miles) – genetic diversity within the NRMR wolf population is not jeapardized now and will not be in the future.

      • avatar jon says:

        Mark, as you know, wolf hunting on private lands starts July 1, 2012. Some are worried that hunters are going to kill wolves on public lands with their private land tags for wolves. How is Idaho fish and game going to enforce this type of thing? If a hunter bought a tag to kill a wolf on private land, he could use that tag to kill a wolf on public land and claim he killed that wolf on private land when he killed it on public land. How is Idaho fish and going to enforce this?

  15. avatar Richie.G says:

    Are you sure of this Mark their are many who disagree with you on this topic. I really do not know, this subject,but it seems to me the three states are cutting this very close. What happens if if a hiker gets hit with a stray bullet, or a dog in a trap owned by a tourest, what happens then? Just like Wisconsin,Scott Walker won ,but so did two bems in the state senate,so he cannot rule thhe way he wants. So all the money from citizens united,did not plug all the holes up. In other words watch out !!!!!!!

    • avatar elk275 says:

      Richie G

      The chance of someone being attacked by a wolf is nil, I know that, you know that and everyone on this forum knows that. The chance of a hiker, A HIKER, getting hit by a stray intended for a wolf is the same or less than being attacked by a wolf.

    • avatar louise kane says:

      Dan you are not serious are you?

  16. avatar Dean Smith says:

    I completely oppose the proposition.

    This is a violation of public rights and a willful destruction of a public resource. Just because a politician slid in a rider that allowed for the delisting of wolves does not mean that FWP or any other agency has a right to pursue this line of destruction. It is plain that FWP takes no responsibility for not listening to the public, just pick up a newspaper, or read the newspaper’s blogs and you will see that the majority of people in this state are not for this proposal.

    Continually FWP walks all over the rights of Montana citizens and we have no recourse. Your rights end where ours begin. Until FWP can fairly represent the will of the people in any matter then no further policies should be allowed to be passed. It should become a state law that any policy that affects public land use (such as the one proposed) must be put on the ballot for public vote.

    • avatar jon says:

      I wonder what is going to happen to the Montana fish and wild parks and the commission if Rick Hill becomes governor. I heard that there is going to be a house cleaning by Rick Hill. In a recent poll, more people liked Steve Bullock over Rick Hill.

  17. avatar red says:

    Its more than just a population existing. Also, the composition of that population matters. The mortality rate of wolves will likely be extremely high resulting in a very young population. Male wolves do not reach peak body mass until 5-6 years old. How many 5-6 year old wolves will exist in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

    Would elk hunters be happy with bagging mostly yearlings and older calves? I think not.

    Here in new Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation, we have ~3,000 black bears in a small portion of the state. Hard for me to believe a few hundred wolves would be so unbearable given the much greater size of the NRM states as well as lower human population density.

    • avatar WM says:

      red,

      With due respect, the habitat and hence diet, for bears in NJ is a bit different than the West. You have higher density biomass that your bears can eat, mostly plant matter, nuts, berries, etc., and in a bit more abundance due to climate. It is less dense for interior area bears in the NRM, than say on the West Coast, like WA, where the diet may be a bit more like what your bears eat.

      As long as wolves (along with some bears and cougar) keep going after very young elk calves, in the higher density wolf areas there are many fewer calves. That is the problem that gets discussed here alot, by those who have experienced it.

      As for those 5 or 6 year old wolves, maybe there are some hunters who want to get one. I have no desire, whatsoever, to kill a wolf, but I don’t like so many of them where I have hunted elk the last twenty five years, and don’t mind if somebody else who has the itch does.

      I am more inclined to believe those of us who live, work and play in the West, and are more grounded in this area, rather than the occasional visitor, ought to have more say about how many wolves there are. Just, as I would not presume to tell you or the state of NJ, how many NJ bears or deer there ought to be, where they ought to be, and any harvest prescriptions to reduce their number.

      • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

        Where do you call home,WM?

        • avatar WM says:

          Rita,

          Home is the Seattle area (not my choice). I went to undergrad college in Eastern, WA, 8 miles from the ID border, and did alot of exploring there at that time. Grad schools and early career in CO. Have backpacked throughout the NRM (including the Wind River Range and the Hoback when one rarely saw other hikers) and hunted elk in ID for over 25 years.

      • avatar red says:

        WM,

        I am well-aware New Jersey habitat allows higher natural black bear densities. The point was we can co-exist with ~ 3,000 bears in a much smaller area than the areas in each of the NRM states allowing 150 wolves.

        The NRM states offer excellent habitat for wolves as New Jersey offers for black bears. How many places in the world are wolves as visible and studied as in the NRM? How much future knowledge will never be gained?

        If elk numbers are low in one area, people can travel somewhere else to hunt or god forbid actually work harder to locate more dispersed elk.

        If wolves are practically eradicated and/or age structure distorted, where will a real wolf population (i.e. with healthy numbers of fully mature adult males) be observed easily?

        I disagree with the game farm mentality of artificially increasing elk numbers. Humans have co-existed with other predators hunting the same species for thousands of years. Keeping elk numbers at artificially inflated numbers creates ecologic havoc. Hunters have always asserted “we are stewards of wildlife”; “we are the true conservationists”; “just being out in nature means more than bagging an animal”, etc. However, actions like this prove these claims are BS (at least among the hunting groups supporting severe limits on predator numbers).

        While I support hunting (except for predators), policies like these will strengthen anti-hunting groups claims.

        Honestly, the more hunters act as participants in ecosystems than manipulating ecosystems to their short-term benefit, the better they will be viewed by the larger non-hunting population.

        While I respect local opinions, the fact of the matter people like me send far more money in tax dollars to states like the NRM states. In New Jersey, we have to work agregious hours to make ends meet. So yes, I will offer my opinion to states that take my money to subsidize their lifestyle.

        • avatar WM says:

          red,

          ++If elk numbers are low in one area, people can travel somewhere else to hunt or god forbid actually work harder to locate more dispersed elk. ++

          Like that will work. With due respect, once again, it appears to me you don’t know jack about elk or elk hunting.

          ++Humans have co-existed with other predators hunting the same species for thousands of years. ++

          That is certainly a debateable point with respect to wolves. They have been irradicated all over the world, in Europe, Asia, US, where they interface with man. It is not some fairytale extrapolation, that some advocates like to remind us. Co-existence is tension filled, wherever wolves are, and has been for centureis. Not a value judgement on my part. More in the nature of a univeral truth, based on fact. Scandanavian countries, Siberia (reindeer farmers are extremely vigilent when wolves are around during calving and kill a fair number), Albania (they trimmed their wolf population by 30-50% last year), Turkey, Afghanistan, to name a few places and to give you a little context.

          ++…people like me send far more money in tax dollars to states like the NRM states….So yes, I will offer my opinion to states that take my money to subsidize their lifestyle.++

          You probably better be just as critical of the Midwestern states that take far more in total of your federal tax dollars in subsidy from agriculture than NRM states. And, who do you think gains the most $$$$ from the extractive industries that go on in the West, like mining, oil and gas, and timber; or the service industries that serve tourists and locals alike, like the chain hotels, gas stations etc? The money comes back to a large degree to the East Coast to corporate shareholders of big national and international companies, and the big Wall St. institutional mutual fund managers, who could give a shit about how they damage the West. And the taxes, if paid at all after the substantial corporate write-offs and breaks, likely aren’t directly paid in the NRM states where the evil is done.

          • avatar red says:

            WM

            >>Like that will work. With due respect, once again, it appears to me you don’t know jack about elk or elk hunting.>>

            Why not? Elk populations, even without wolves, will naturally fluctuate from one area to another. Heaven forbid someone drive somewhere else to bag their elk or get off their a** to find elk which actually move and act wild again.

            The NRM is the most visible and observable wolf population in the world. Eliminating it (or reducing it so drastically it no longer resembles a normal population with reasonable numbers of fully grown male wolves) is a tremendous loss.

            >>That is certainly a debateable point with respect to wolves. They have been irradicated all over the world, in Europe, Asia, US, where they interface with man. It is not some fairytale extrapolation, that some advocates like to remind us. Co-existence is tension filled, wherever wolves are, and has been for centureis. Not a value judgement on my part. More in the nature of a univeral truth, based on fact. Scandanavian countries, Siberia (reindeer farmers are extremely vigilent when wolves are around during calving and kill a fair number), Albania (they trimmed their wolf population by 30-50% last year), Turkey, Afghanistan, to name a few places and to give you a little context.>>

            Co-existance did involve some conflict, but this mostly related to livestock. Large numbers of livestock were grazed along side good numbers of wolves. However, non-lethal measures, such as groups of LGDs and human shepherds minimized those conflicts to an acceptable level.

            However, in this modern age most western livestock interests refuse to even do the bare minimum to co-exist with wolves.

            Livestock lossess in the NRM states are insignificant relative to other causes. As a result, livestock conflict is not the issue here.

            The point I was making was wolves and humans (along with predecessor species) shared similar prey bases for hundreds of thousands of years.

            Hunters would receive greater support from the much larger non-hunting population if they acted as a partipant in instead of trying to own the entire ecosystem.

            Actions like the ones in the NRM states just come across as childlish, selfish, and downright petty (one only needs to read a few comments on anti-wolf boards or coyote hunter youtube videos to get the gist).

            For decades, I have heard “hunters are stewards of wildlife”, “hunters are true conservationists, etc.”.

            Obviously, this was pure bs (at least from the anti-predator types).

            >>You probably better be just as critical of the Midwestern states that take far more in total of your federal tax dollars in subsidy from agriculture than NRM states. >>

            I’ve long supported eradicating all farm subsidies.

            >> And, who do you think gains the most $$$$ from the extractive industries that go on in the West, like mining, oil and gas, and timber; or the service industries that serve tourists and locals alike, like the chain hotels, gas stations etc? The money comes back to a large degree to the East Coast to corporate shareholders of big national and international companies, and the big Wall St. institutional mutual fund managers, who could give a shit about how they damage the West. And the taxes, if paid at all after the substantial corporate write-offs and breaks, likely aren’t directly paid in the NRM states where the evil is done.>>

            Most of these are global corporations with shareholders all over the world. Corporations will always try to earn as much as they can legally.

            The key is goverment must set the rules when externalities exist – i.e. customers/producer do not bear environmental costs of actions.

            Unforuntately, policies supported by NRM states (and particularly anti-wolf folks) would weaken or eliminate such regulations.

            Policies supported by folks in blue states would go a long way at reducing the problems you cite.

            BTW..I’d hate to see NRM states economies without any extractive industries.

        • avatar louise kane says:

          Red don’t be dissuaded from your very good argument…wildlife lovers have every reason to be concerned about, comment on and demand rational policies for wolves in the Rocky Mountains. Just as people around the world have urged other governments to protect African wildlife, whales and other cetaceans, and world fisheries.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        WM that old argument about having to live in an area to care about the stewardship of the wildlife resources is becoming tired. I believe that wildlife resources need to be look at as national trust resources, especially when it comes to the large carnivores. Why, wolves and other carnivores are more at risk then say elk or deer. On top of loss of habitat and prey base, they already have less dense populations, they are sport and trophy hunted and they must try and survive where hysteria, fear, ignorance and hate trumps science. For those of us who do care enough about the bigger picture its like watching a Shakespearean tragedy seeing the wolves annihilated in these huge states that continuously preach the status quo, “we don’t have room for them and now we don’t need to make room for more than a hundred or so and also don’t worry about genetic health . As Mark points out” maintaining full genetic diversity among extant populations (wolves inside and outside YNP are not genetically separate populations BTW) requires the exchange of genetic material of only one individual per generation, between the populations.”
        setting the bar high Mark. WM you argue” I am more inclined to believe those of us who live, work and play in the West, and are more grounded in this area, rather than the occasional visitor, ought to have more say about how many wolves there are.” Hmmm shall we all set by and watch as they are gunned, bowed and arrowed, snared, trapped and hounded to death without a peep?

  18. avatar mikarooni says:

    I was recently given a copy of a new Atlas of Yellowstone, a joint venture of MSU and the Universities of OR and WY and published by UC. It’s a nice little volume of quick survey info that includes data on wildlife, including elk populations by year and roughly cast against drought periods, high snow winters, and wolf/bear populations. I’m actually not against shooting a few wolves here and there and actually not the kind of person to ignore predation impacts; but, if you have some actual knowledge of what it is to raise range cattle and thus know how ungulate body condition (summer and fall drought) impacts conception rates and how subsequent deep snow that lasts long into late spring can compound that impact on full-term pregnancy rates and calf health and survival, then it is also easy to see that the northern range elk populations seem to be tracking the drought and deep snow events more closely than either any changes in or compounding effects of predation. As my daughter quickly pointed out, MT FWP should be capable of looking at the data and seeing the same things. Something continues to be rotten in Denmark.

  19. avatar Tayo says:

    One individual per generation? that sounds a bit extreme. … Actually it sounds really extreme.I think someone mentioned Canadian wolves dispersing into Montana and Idaho. From what i’ve managed to glean from the literature such dispersals were never that common. And of those dispersers who actually leave Canada, how many are likely to make it to Yellowstone without being shot or trapped?

    • avatar WM says:

      Tayo,

      Don’t know where you have been looking in the literature, but it is pretty common knowledge and reflected in the wolf management plans, updates, status reports, etc., that there are a fair number of Canadian wolves coming down, and have been for awhile.

      Most of the growing wolf population in WA are believed to be dispersers from Canada. Some in the Panhandle of N. Idaho are dispersers from Canada. And, there are a bunch of dispersers in Western MT, that were separate from the NRM non-essential experimental wolves in Central ID and Yellowstone, that have been coming down and reproducing for the past 15-20 years. Now they are intermingling and breeding. Some are even going back to Canada (there was a report of a WA wolf going back just a couple of weeks ago, which was shot after it started going after some farmer’s pigs in BC).

      Connectivity will always be an issue as management for lower numbers occurs, but easily cured with a couple of helicopter or car rides for a few wolves, it would seem.

      ____________

      louise,

      Nearly everywhere wolves are throughout the world, the locals have less tolerance for them, and generally want fewer. Why do you suppose that is?

      Wolves as a national “public trust resource,” is admirable but won’t likely happen (beyond ESA implications and its administration), and is assured not to expand unless new laws are passed in recognition of it, in IMHO.

      There is not a state anywhere which has said it wants more wolves, and states are reflected in votes of Congress, the West voting as a block on this issue, most likely, maybe asserting pressures on other urban states in bargaining for other things. And, let’s be candid about “large carnivores.” There are really only two that create polarization – wolves and grizzlies. Upwards of 7-10 percent (last year) of the increasing population of grizzlies in the GYE and expanding Rocky Mtn. territory have required lethal control. The social tolerance for more, I suspect, is pretty near to peaking, even if there were more habitat to accomodate them conflict free.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        WM one more comment on your post louise,

        You said” Nearly everywhere wolves are throughout the world, the locals have less tolerance for them, and generally want fewer. Why do you suppose that is? ” Actually I think that people do want more wolves. The locals you refer to that don’t want wolves are ranchers, farmers, sheep or reindeer herders etc. They seem to be able to influence politicians quite easily and to spread a good amount of hyped up fear within and without their ranching and hunting communities. With effective education for tolerance, reducing livestock conflicts and learning to live with programs I think/hope this will change. There are a great many people who do want wolves, even in the RM area. Their voices are just drowned out by politics and a culture of hate that has been entrenched by the ranching and trophy hunting communities and fueled by their lobbyists. I know its not RM,but I think I remember reading in the last few days that some 70% plus Minnesotans did not want to see a wolf “harvest” this year! I’ll try and dig that up, it might have come in on the wccl. And I spend a lot of time reading comments and there are a significant number of comments that illustrate that wolves have support or that people don’t want to see them aggressively killed and especially trapped, even in the RM areas. Look at Montana’s most recent comments.

        “Wolves as a national “public trust resource,” is admirable but won’t likely happen (beyond ESA implications and its administration), and is assured not to expand unless new laws are passed in recognition of it, in IMHO.” That’s my point. Wolves are being persecuted, not managed. They need federal protection, again and UNTIL there is a huge shift in the way carnivores are managed in general.

        YOu also said, “And, let’s be candid about “large carnivores.” There are really only two that create polarization – wolves and grizzlies. Upwards of 7-10 percent (last year) of the increasing population of grizzlies in the GYE and expanding Rocky Mtn. territory have required lethal control. The social tolerance for more, I suspect, is pretty near to peaking, even if there were more habitat to accomodate them conflict free.”
        What about coyotes, they are killed by the hundreds of thousands. Humans just have a killing thing for wild animals. Social tolerance needs to be taught, expected and expanded. The business of state and federal wildlife management programs has not been founded in conservation (with rare exception) so how can we expect people to learn true conservation ideals when they think that management means killing. Its just time to expect and demand more tolerance, less killing and more conservation from the agencies who use this term as part of their mottos.

        If people did not care about conservation of wildlife and wilderness why has there been such widespread support for it? The challenges/ threats to legislation that has really been founded in response to the public wanting to see wildlife and our natural resources protected is not from the locals or us real people. Those challenges come from the extractive industries, ranchers and farmers and big agricultural entities. They are not the locals. I think this is true with wolves too. Its also interesting to see how many of the hunting groups have taken on the use of names that include conservation in them to try and dupe people about their real mission or intent when it comes to wildlife.

        • avatar JB says:

          WM, Louise:

          Not to intrude on your conversation, but I’ve been giving the subject of tolerance a lot of thought lately, and your discussion reminded me of a course I took on prejudice and stereotyping as a graduate student. At the time (2004) Karl Rove was using lack of tolerance for homosexuals to drive conservatives to the polls. Those religious conservatives arguably put George Bush in office for a second term (note: Obama won Ohio not because of liberal turn out, but because of a lack of conservative turn out). Then yesterday, I read this:

          “It is amazing how fast public opinion has changed on [same-sex marriage]. In 2000 and 2004, Karl Rove used referendums on same-sex marriage as a technique to get conservative voters to the polls. Now with a small majority of voters favoring marriage equality, the technique is a spent force.”

          And this…

          “Before 2004, there was no significant difference between how younger and older older citizens voted. Starting in 2004 that began to change, with today’s younger voters being much more liberal than today’s older voters.”

          – – – –

          I’ve always been of the mind that social tolerance doesn’t change much within individuals; rather, it changes with population replacement (old, opinionated people dying off and being replaced by younger people who hold different opinions). It seems this is happening with tolerance for homosexuals and it makes me wonder if the same thing will happen for carnivores? Or will the fact that conflicts occur mostly in rural areas only strengthen the partisan divide? Anyway, food for thought…

          Cite: http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2012/Pres/Maps/Jun25.html#item-4

          • avatar louise kane says:

            JB I thought alot about that too. The terrible thing about the Tester rider is that the ESA protections for wolves mandated a certain amount of tolerance for wolves and people were living with them reasonably well. I think that if those protections had been left in place, as the “old guard” died off the new ranchers would have learned a level of tolerance (mandated as it was) that would have created a much better environment for carnivores and wolves. Now we are set back a hundred years where the justification to kill wolves is set in stone by politicians who have used wolves as a scapegoat for their own political gain.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              PS thats why I think the only way to get that tolerance back is to relist them. Like it or not if wolves are protected federally after some time tolerance will increase.

  20. avatar Nancy says:

    “The social tolerance for more, I suspect, is pretty near to peaking, even if there were more habitat to accomodate them conflict free”

    Its interesting what “society” WILL tolerate WM…. war (and the billions spent on it to date) poverty, over population, unaffordable healthcare, the obvious dumbing down of the educational system, higher & higher gas and food prices, Lindsay Lohan :) the list goes on and on, as you well know.

    Humans are a really a pretty sad species when it comes to the big picture, we seldom accept other species that intrude on our lifestyles (maybe a God did create us?)

    Wildlife (wild animals and birds as defined in Websters) will never gain back the habitat they’ve lost to mankind’s self indulgence and greed but tolerance, should be practiced, in areas that still somewhat resemble their habitat, don’t you think?

    • avatar WM says:

      Nancy,

      My first trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness was close to 48 years ago, I was about 15. The Bob was then and I believe still is one of the better grizzly bear habitats and with higher bear concentration than nearly anywhere except maybe YNP.

      My much older cousin was a surveyor/engineer on the Lolo NF. He had aerial photos of the area, and enough knowledge from his experiences in the woods to be respectful of grizzlies. We went cross country for some of the trip, using a few unmaintained way trails, and eventually came out at Upper Holland Lake something like 10 days later (about 3 longer than we planned for), after having logged about 60 miles (felt like more). We didn’t have enough food, but caught lots of fish and the berries were ripe. We saw nobody, except for a horse packer, whose job it was to maintain the main trail. Quite candidly, I was scared spitless of a grizzly encounter, on the one hand, and on the other it was one of the most exhilirating backpacking experiences of my life.

      I wish the West could be returned to the way it was at least 50-60 years ago, with more room for wild animals and fewer people. I am, however, enough of a realist to know that won’t happen. I am for wild places, but know the increased resident population and many of those who come to visit for a few days want a tamer and risk free environment. Sad.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Part of what I do not understand. Not to generalize, but it seems many NRM “inhabitants” are not very fond of those from the east or west coasts, and want the land for themselves. In a simplistic way, wolves and grizzly habitat keep it wild, and not a place for posers.

        • avatar WM says:

          Immer,

          ++…NRM inhabitants are not very fond of those from the east or west coasts, and want the land for themselves…no place for posers++

          Pretty easy to understand, I think. Two issues: 1) those who come want to impose their values, which are in many cases different; 2) There is less to share, the more who come.

          A case in point – the Wind River Range. When I began going in there in the late 1970’s, there were very few people. The solitude was great, although I do recall on one trip, cresting a ridge and running into an all girl Outward Bound group, that was swimming nude in an alpine lake, which was an unexpected treat, of sorts after days of seeing no one. Now there are too damn many people, the one time wilderness experience has been degraded some, and I guess that means less conflict free habitiat for the expanding grizzly population moving into that area. Some folks want the risk free experience, and a few more bear maulings like were experienced last year, the pressure will be on for it.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            WM,

            Ah those Outward Bound girls. Not too long ago there was a contingent of OBG’s who attempted to enter the Quetico of Canada via the BWCA. Occurs daily up here, but they decided to do it in the “natural”. If memory serves me correct, they got”busted”, not for the entry, but for the lack of clothing.

            Would lose a bit of blood up here now with the droves of mosquitoes patrolling the area.

          • avatar JB says:

            “…those who come want to impose their values, which are in many cases different”

            WM: I think a difference in values is likely part of the story, but I disagree with the way you’ve characterized how those value differences get expressed. When someone moves from one state to another they become PART of the citizenry, and as such, their opinions, values and policy preferences are just as relevant as the 5th generation [Montanan]. The term “impose” makes it sound as if you think their values are somehow less entitled to consideration than long-time residents?

            Of course, where it does become an imposition is when federal policy is used to restrict the liberties of citizens of a state who largely disagree with the policy–but, of course, this goes both ways. In recent years, conservatives have been successful at pushing (imposing) their policies at the federal–even occasionally in the National Parks (remember the guns-in-the-parks law passed in 2010). They are working (as always) on abortion, defining marriage to exclude homosexuals, getting rid of certain types of stem cell research, and the list goes on…

            • avatar WM says:

              JB,

              My comment: ++…those who come want to impose their values, which are in many cases different…++

              In this instance, I was thinking more of visitors who come out West for a couple of weeks every year, or every other year, sometimes not getting off the paved highway and others getting deep into wilderness, then weighing in on policy either at the state or federal level.

              Certainly they have a right to do so (public land and all), but it does rub the locals the wrong way. And, some of this applies to those who move to these areas permanantly, like the rich folks buying up the gentleman ranches or a whole mountain like the Yellowstone Club, or even the coffee shack barista who just moved in from New Jersey.

              Locals (regionalists and non-resident regular users to include folks like myself) feel they have some sense of ownership/entitlement of what is local, to the exculsion of outsiders. Doesn’t make it right, it just IS.

              To use a loose analogy,** say I came to your house for a long weekend. We have a nice couple of days. In a thank you note, I tell you how you should arrange the furniture in your living room, that I don’t like the pictue of your family, so much, on the east wall. Could you keep the dog outside while I’m there, because he growled at me when I scolded your child? And, hope you don’t mind, I’ll be bringing a couple of my buddies next time; only one belches at the dinner table. See ya soon.

              Your reaction to that set of requests would be a bit like the reaction locals have to the demands of visitors who show up in wilderness, or want to “hike thru” during the middle of deer season.
              —–
              **I know analogies break down, but you get the idea.

            • avatar JB says:

              I see, that makes more sense. However, a better analogy (than you coming to my house) would be if we co-owned a time share and you lived around the corner, while I lived 1,000 miles away. We are, after all, equal owners in our federal lands.

              • avatar Dan says:

                Except some of us are more equal owners than others because we live, work and play here or there.

            • avatar JB says:

              “Except some of us are more equal owners than others because we live, work and play here or there.”

              Well, that’s the attitude anyway. It is interesting to me that despite the fact that those who live out West already have superb access to huge tracts of federal lands–subsidized at every tax payers’ (including people who live in NY and CA) expense (by the way, those federal lands that we all pay for are the reason you have as many elk as you do)– despite the added benefits, you want a greater say in how federal lands are managed as well. It’s not enough that we subsidize your hunting and recreation, you want say which species get to live where, as well?

              Perhaps Hardin was right? Perhaps we should just privatize the commons. Then the rich would own it all, the cost of hunting would skyrocket, and you could have your choice of which pen-raised elk you wanted to shoot.

              • avatar Dan says:

                I think the visitors are subsidized. They drive on county and state roads to get here, paid for by my tax dollars. When they are here they rely on the EMS and Search and Rescue paid for by my tax dollars. The USFS does not maintain EMS, search and rescue or structure fire prevention. Essentially this subsidy you write of must mean the dollars the USFS spends on the forest. In recent years the majority of that money is dedicated to fire prevention to prevent the federal land from catching fire and burning into private land; as any responsible large land owner should be held accountable for. Our public lands take away from my county’s property tax base (I realize there is an in-lieu of federal program for schools but we would be much better off if we could collect tax dollars at the going county rate) Partial reason your and everyone’s stay from NYC to California stay is pleasant and nice is because myself and my neighbors are here to serve you, many times without you leaving a single dollar in our pockets. About 5 minutes ago I had a couple stop by that flew into Spokane from upstate New York rented a car and drove up the St. Joe. They used my awesomely maintained rest room and then had about 20 questions. When finished they said thank-you very much and walked out the door. A very common experience during the tourist season. To make wild claims that were’re subsidized is ludicrous. A often asked question in these parts is “Wow, N. Idaho is beautiful but how would you ever make a living here?” If you really want to see who’s subsidized take a look at the big cities where you find big defense contracts and ethanol production facilities. My hunting is no more subsidized than your jog down the block…

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Just wait a minute JB

              There are thousands and thousands of acres of federal and state lands in the west that have no legal access that are de-facto private lands. I know of 5 sections of Gallatin National forest land north of Bozeman that do not have any access to; one is not able to cross private to access these public lands.

              It has been the sportsman’s groups, the hook and bullet crowd and the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks who have either purchased adjacent lands or negotiated easements or fought legislative battles. Recently the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks negotiated an easement on the Custer National Forest in Eastern Montana giving recreationalists access to thousands of acres of National Forest lands. On Mike’s favorite Montana River the Boulder there was an old 1/4 mile easement that was not used and the new owner’s, Wall Street type bankers, shut it off. After several years of litigations and talk of eminent domain the owners finally allow the public access.

              In the May issue of Outdoor Life there was a small article on the access to the nations rivers. Montana has the best stream access law in the United States, which I am afraid is going to come under attack in the next legislative session, as it did in the last one. Every year thousands on non resident fishermen/women come to Montana to fish the state’s rivers. I have noticed that there is an large amount of Utah license plates on Southwest Montana rivers. Why? Utah is close and there is no public access to Utah Rivers. The Utah Supreme Court rule that fisherman could wade up the rivers and fish, but the state legislator rescinded the court ruling and declared the river beds private. Is the only spine Utah fly fisherman have is a fly rod? If so then they are a fisherman of a lessor god.

              We ALL have equal access to are nations federal lands and rivers. I will not argue that.

              Sometimes public access is lacking and generally the state fish and game departments and local sportsman’s groups have take up the cause and secured access. The Smith River in North Central is a 57 mile float wilderness on one of the nations best trout streams. The river flows through private, state and national forest lands with the put in and take out on state fishing accesses. In order to float the river one must put in for a limited permit on February 15 th each year. Less that 10 percent of the applicants are successful and both non residents and residents have an equal chance in the drawing. If the state and the local fisherman would not have taken up the cause the landowners were going to close the river to floating. Access would be by trespass fee only. I feel that maybe non residents should have a small percentage in the drawing similar to hunting license.

              Another case, the Three Dollar Bridge fishing access. This is a section of the Madison River where Highway 287 crosses the Madison and goes across Reynolds Pass and into Henry’s Lake. The landowner always allowed fishing and when parking at the bridge to Cliff and Wade lakes one put three dollars in the steel post, hence Three Dollar Bridge. Mr landowner got old and decided it was time to sell the property and any new owner’s would have not allowed public access. It was Craig Matthew’s of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone that started a fund drive to purchase the property, both residents and non residents contributed with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks eventually being able to acquire both the river property and several sections of property across Highway 287, which they sold and retained access and conservation easement allowing river access and a new access to the Madison Range.

              Each year thousands and thousands of non residents enjoy the Montana outdoors and the nations public lands. A large number of residents and most non residents who recreate have little idea who fought for some of there access rights. Should residents have precedent over non residents over land access or say NO. But maybe a little English on the cue ball?

            • avatar WM says:

              Dan,

              Let’s think about this a bit. FS timber sales result in local and taxes paid by the logger. Same is true for the rancher with the grazing lease on public land. They all buy things (vehicles, equipment and supplies, as well as hire other folks who work for them) in the local economy.

              You might also want to consider how federal jobs in the natural resources field, ad to the economy in your area, and the multiplier effect of those jobs. Those folks go to the grocery store, dentist, doctor, pay taxes, and may even go to the bar in your end of the road establishment after work for a beer and a burger. Then there is the occasional retiree, with the federal pension who sticks around.

              I think this is a whole lot more complex than most people (locals included) care to acknowledge.

              • avatar Dan says:

                Look up how many timber sales there’s been in the St. Joe in the last 2 decades…don’t waste to much time searching because there’s only been a couple small ones…The USFS has been eliminating their ranger districts for the last several decades. Anymore the FS offices are in the big cities. They occasionally make it to the actual woods. Don’t believe me google FS offices and then look where they are in relation to the forest. The FS likes to hire seasonals but they’re young and save all their money for college. Ranchers have zero grazing leases in the St. Joe. The FS contributes very little to this economy. Our local school currently has zero forest service kids because all the permanents live an hour or two away and their kids go to those schools. Not complaining, our little school is awesome. One of our local kids just got the highest scores in the state on the state’s standardized test.

            • avatar JB says:

              “To make wild claims that were’re subsidized is ludicrous…My hunting is no more subsidized than your jog down the block…”

              You can’t be serious, Dan? You really have no idea what you’re getting, do you? Your area is attractive because of the federal lands, your wildlife have habitat because of federal lands, you have public lands grazing and hunting because of the federal lands. We have no public lands grazing, and if you think you haven’t seen a harvest of federal forest in a long time, come out my way some time. Number one issue here for deer hunters is access blocked by private landowners (not enough public lands). Go ahead privatize–see where it gets you! LOL!

              BTW: I ran on the treadmill today (too damn hot), so my jog was subsidized by no one but me. All the roads I use are maintained by the city, anyway–no federal dollars there. (I do appreciate the interstate when I travel to Michigan to visit family.)

              • avatar Dan says:

                I have no desire for privatization…I don’t believe I’ve ever advocated for such a thing. However, in the St. Joe National Forest there are thousands of acres of private timberlands that are open to the public. I like these lands because they are heavily cut and provide browse for elk, the federal lands have a lot of dense forest areas, so it makes a good mix of browsing, bedding and winter areas.
                To say that I’m subsidized is just like saying you are subsidized because you have as much access to these woods as I do. I just have to drive a shorter distance to use them…

            • avatar WM says:

              Dan,

              Maybe what you say is true for some areas (I have noticed some of the same changes you list elsewhere, with FS sales down and office consolidations, and seasonals replacing full timers), but for other areas it may not be quite so bad. Afterall, we are talking more generally to places other than where you live. And, just to be clear, I do empathize with some of what you say.

            • avatar JB says:

              “To say that I’m subsidized is just like saying you are subsidized because you have as much access to these woods as I do. I just have to drive a shorter distance to use them…”

              Now you’re just saying absurd things to provoke an argument. You have to walk out your back door and I have to drive about 2,100 miles; something like 60% of Idaho is federal public land–Ohio it’s 1.7%. All of that land in public ownership gives you unparalleled access for recreation, but it also gives you huge blocks of habitat for wildlife, and since the state claims wildlife that exists on these federal lands as their own, you are damn well right that the rest of us are subsidizing your hunting. And I do NOT have equal access to these animals. A non-resident hunting & fishing combo is $33 for a resident, $240 for non-resident, even if I hunt and fish all federal lands. Another subsidy for Idaho.

              • avatar Dan says:

                “since the state claims wildlife that exists on these federal lands as their own, you are damn well right that the rest of us are subsidizing your hunting.”

                I guess the only way I can view this is if you are subsidizing my hunting then it’s just my slice of the pie for my tax dollars….you get yours in different ways I suppose..As much as I hate to think I get anything subsidized somehow I’ll have to live with your point.

                As for the disparity in the IDFG rate schedule, I never have understood it. It takes me back to Econ 201 and the xy transaction graph. IDFG knows a certain amount of nonres will pay it. Personally, I think it’s unfair and contributes to the dropping number of hunters. Many of the families around here have kids that have gone off to make a living in the large cities, such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco etc. These kids were hunters when they were younger but have given up because to come back and hunt with their families or old buddies for elk costs them almost $600 for a license and tag. The IDFG complains about the dropping number of hunters and I think they have contributed to it with these crazy high tag prices.

      • avatar Barb Rupers says:

        Hopefully there is enough public land in the west that people can find a place with the degree of safety they want. The Bob, for example, should not become an area where anyone can go without some personal risk.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        WM you said” I wish the West could be returned to the way it was at least 50-60 years ago, with more room for wild animals and fewer people. I am, however, enough of a realist to know that won’t happen. I am for wild places, but know the increased resident population and many of those who come to visit for a few days want a tamer and risk free environment. Sad.”

        I agree with what you are saying to a certain extent, but I think thats what makes it even more important to be vigilant about protecting wild areas and wildlife. Having said that, you might be surprised at the number of us who don’t live in the west but who visit and who would gladly welcome a wilder experience while visiting. When anyone goes into the woods where animals make their homes they “risk” an encounter good or bad. I’d rather know wild animals are more plentiful and assume the risk of exposure. If something should happen, the animal should not have to pay for my intrusion into their territory, its like the defense for negligence called, assumption of the risk. You do something knowing there is a risk then you don’t get to be compensated or punish the entiity that harmed you, when you assume the risk. A bit of an oversimplification but when people enter wilderness they assume the risk of an encounter. If you don;t want to assume the risk you can and should stay out. The few remaining wilderness areas that can support wildlife should not be regulated for fear of human safety, they should be left totally natural to provide the best habitat for wildlife who have no other homes. I think there are a lot of us who feel that way, westerners or not. Its a huge pet peeve of mine to see public access areas created in national parks or seashores. I’d much prefer to see no sign of humans and if I need to get in I make my way in on my own without stairs, ramps or interpretive signs etc. There is a place I have walked my whole life in the woods near where I live. You had to push through dense underbrush to get from one side of a stream and a lake into more trails and to another pond. No one went there because they had to wade through the stream or use a log to get across. A couple years ago some busy bodies collected 50,000 to hack a wider trail and put a disney like bridge in between the two ponds and a big sign to celebrate opening up the trail. I hate that bridge. Anyhow, I think a lot of people object to making wild places less wild. Its not about east or west its a mindset that humans need to be accomodated at the expense of wildlife and wild areas.

        • avatar WM says:

          louise,

          ++A couple years ago some busy bodies collected 50,000 to hack a wider trail and put a disney like bridge in between the two ponds and a big sign to celebrate opening up the trail. I hate that bridge…++

          A few years ago I used to drive up a, narrow, rutted, long and dusty gravel forest road to a remote trailhead where there might be one other car. No one wen there. Now, I drive up a wide, well maintained one to the same trail head, greeted by a big parking lot with room for 50-75 cars. = Elkhart Park/Pole Cr. trailhead, Wind River Range. Most cars are from out of WY, many from the East Coast. I don’t go there anymore.

          • avatar louise kane says:

            WM its like that everywhere. I hate seeing access created where there was none. It takes away natural beauty, brings wildlife into contact with humans (with a generally bad outcome for them) and destroys the feel and aesthetics of the place. Sorry you lost that place. I’ve lost quite a few too, only here the new people can be nouveau riche, then they also don’t want anyone walking on the beaches us locals have hiked for years, no dogs anywhere after memorial day through labor day etc. Luckily we do have a huge national seashore or we would look like the outerbanks and most people are too lazy to go to the places I like to hike. Really what I care about most is opening up areas where people impact wildlife.

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        - got 20 minutes to watch an amazing interactive video on the predicament of modern Grizzly bears told by a bear ?

        http://bear71.nfb.ca/#/bear71

    • avatar WM says:

      Nancy,

      My comment: ++The social tolerance for more, I suspect, is pretty near to peaking…++

      One more unfortunate data point. Grizzly sow northwest of Great Falls kills 70 sheep (feeds on only a couple). She will, no doubt, be destroyed, and what happens to her cub?

      http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20120624/NEWS01/206240305?nclick_check=1

      • avatar Nancy says:

        WM – how many times has the subject of livestock owner responsibility been debated on WS?

        Like the 100 rams killed outside of Dillon, Mt a couple of years ago… were these sheep just checked on “occasionally” in areas where depredations (by any predator) should of been a concern to the owners?

        Should taxpayers continue to pay subsidies for losses (or prop up – as in keeping agencies like Wildlife Services “actively engaged” ) for a lifestyle out here in the west that really contributes little (when you crunch the numbers) to actual meat production, compared to other areas of the country.

        On a brighter note:

        http://www.krtv.com/news/grizzly-bear-caught-near-simms-has-been-relocated/

        Seems to me, if the nation can overlook (and accept without question) the bailing out of the slime so prevalent on Wall Street, we ought to be able to extend the same courtesy/tolerance when it comes to “problem” wildlife :)

  21. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Tayo, Louise – Your responses indicate a misunderstanding of genetic diversity. One individual per generation is not a management objective or policy. It is a principle of population genetics – i.e. “science”. No more than one individual per generation, sharing it’s genome with another population, is needed to assure complete genetic integration of both populations. Which is why genetic diversity, as a conservation issue, is not a risk.

    • avatar Emma Mar says:

      Wisconsin now has 6% dog genes in the population of 800 wolves… if dogs breed with wolves every generation aren’t we creating a new breed of wolf in Wisconsin?

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        Where did you get this information?

        • avatar Paul says:

          Good question. As you know I follow this topic very closely and I have never seen documentation on this.

      • avatar ma'iingan says:

        “Wisconsin now has 6% dog genes in the population of 800 wolves… if dogs breed with wolves every generation aren’t we creating a new breed of wolf in Wisconsin?”

        Sorry for chiming in on this topic so late, but it’s field season for me so I’ve had little slack time.

        This is a misinterpretation of a study by Fain and a couple of others in 2000. I think it was published in Conservation Genetics a couple of years ago. About 6% of around 120 WGL wolves sampled showed introgression of dog DNA.

        While intentional wolf/dog hybrids are a definite source, it’s also probable that some wolf/dog hybridization occurred as wolves recolonized the region, as sort of a consequence to the Allele effect.

        There is little evidence to suggest that hybridization is continuing to occur at this level. In Wisconsin, DNA from every radio-collared wolf and wolves killed in control actions is submitted for analysis.

    • avatar SAP says:

      Mark – the “one migrant per generation” (OMPG) rule of thumb is just that. You might as well give the old 50/500 rule the status of science too, if you’re going to take OMPG as established “science.”

      John Vucetich & Thomas Waite took up the “OMPG” rule in 2000 with this peer-reviewed paper titled (very appropriately for this discussion)
      “Is one migrant per generation sufficient for the genetic management of fluctuating populations?”

      full article available here:
      http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/sites/default/files/tech_pubs_files/Vucetich%26Waite2000.pdf

      Same authors, more recent article:

      “Migration and inbreeding: the importance of recipient population size for genetic management.”

      http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/sites/default/files/tech_pubs_files/VucetichWaite2001.pdf

      Here’s what they had to say in their abstract:

      “Simple conventions regarding the requisite number of migrants may not apply to many populations of conservation concern”

      I’d say OMPG is one of those “simple conventions.” And if we (you) intend to manage wolf populations right at the brink of non-viability, I’d say they’re going to be a “population of conservation concern.”

      Also, it’s important to remember (and your comments indicate you do, but just a reminder to everyone else), that any “migrant” we’re talking about here has be an EFFECTIVE migrant. That is, it has to get itself to the recipient population, survive, breed with a member of the recipient population, and have viable offspring result from that breeding.

      For sure, there are lots of records of wolves making big moves. They can travel. Time and again, though, we learn about some big move like that because we have a dead marked wolf to prove where it came from. Poor likelihood that many of these animals were “effective” migrants.

    • avatar louise kane says:

      I don’t misunderstand at all. what you seem to ignore is that for all your spin, the public is not buying into the justifications the IDFG uses to kill wolves and keep their numbers so artificially and criminally low. Like I said you guys set the bar pretty low.

  22. avatar Barbara Hladick says:

    Wolves are not criminals. They are important figures in our natural world, and without them there is an imbalance. I think that anyone voting to harvest wolves first needs to fully understand their role vs the human role where wolf issues are concerned. This proposal is barbaric and only serves the wealthy hunter. What kind of person hunts wild dogs? This is wrong and should not be allowed. Some things need to be left alone and the wolves in Yellowstone and surrounding areas are one of them.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      There is a pretty big difference between wild dogs and wolves, if your going to classify wolves as wild dogs, then your going to see quite a bit of them killed.

  23. avatar Nancy says:

    “Except some of us are more equal owners than others because we live, work and play here or there”

    That is SUCH a crock of BS Dan. How about the “some of us” that live, work and just love being here, who pay property taxes ( which incidentally, are a hell of a lot higher, if you’re NOT a rancher or farmer)

    The “some of us” that have no problem co-existing with wildlife whether their on or just passing thru our property.

    The “some of us” that don’t shoot wildlife nor invite those that do, on to our property, you know who I’m talking about Dan…. the “some of us” that seem to take a great deal of pleasure in shooting everything from gophers to badgers, coyotes, wolves, just for the “fun” of it.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Dan and Nancy..

      Get off your freaking high horse!

      • avatar Dan says:

        Savebears,
        I do not think I’m on a high horse…My message is always consistent on here, which is in the last few years the wolves have heavily colonized the St. Joe and it has significantly reduced our elk herd. I just want a decent opportunity to hunt elk in the St. Joe. IDFG has reduced the elk hunting opportunity and increased the wolf hunting opportunity. I agree with both, but I look forward to the day we can increase the elk season again and still have wolves perhaps as JB suggests at the expense of some cougars.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Dan – that’s just SB’s way of saying “don’t get so emotional” :)

  24. avatar Rancher Bob says:

    Ralph
    I see your stirring the pot again the management units and the quota’s around the parks are the same as they were in 2011.
    Hunted deer and elk quickly learn property lines between areas where hunting is allowed and not allowed, wolves also appear able to tell the difference.
    The article has stirred up debate again, which was the point, maybe not a totally truthful article.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Rancher Bob,

      If am I wrong, it is not intentional. If you could give a reference showing that what you say it so, it would be very valuable.

      • avatar Rancher Bob says:

        Ralph
        I used your link above then read “interested person’s letter” to look at hunting regulation changes. If one knows or has a old 2011 wolf hunting map units 316= 3 wolves north of YNP, unit 110= 2 wolves west of GNP. 2012 would allow no more wolves to be killed near the parks than were allowed in 2011.
        As for wolves learning property lines just a personal observation over the last five years.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Rancher Bob,

          Thanks. I didn’t recall exactly how many wolves the hunt had taken in this area. However, I didn’t read that the new quota would be the same as the old one. The proposed regs only said there would be a quota just north of the Park boundary.

          I think there should be a quota of zero here. The Park wolf population is naturally declining, and we should let a natural experiment conclude to see how low it will go before the wolves and the elk rebound. I think the elk will begin a rebound this year because of a good calf crop. Interfere with the process and scientists will lack the data. One reason to have large natural areas with no hunting is to see how populations of animals interact without human interference.

          • avatar Jon Way says:

            “One reason to have large natural areas with no hunting is to see how populations of animals interact without human interference.”

            Amen to that…

          • avatar Rancher Bob says:

            “One reason to have large natural areas with no hunting is to see how populations interact without human interference.”
            I agree.
            Problem is the area never seems big enough for some no matter how many million acres there is in the area. No matter how big the area the cry is for the area to be bigger.
            Then the second problem arises that data gathered in the parks is believed to be true out of the parks. It’s good to know how nature work before mankind, but unless our population has a correction, studies in areas where human interference is common are more valuable to me. I don’t live in a park and the wolves around me don’t live in a park. So the continued use of park study data to manage wolves outside the parks continues to happen.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              Bob,
              You make some good points… As for me (and I think others), a great example of what could’ve been a perfect natural experiment is if Yellowstone included all of the Northern Range. Then the migrating elk herd (and bison) would mostly be always within the perimeter of the park. So basically south of Paradise Valley in my hypothetical vision of an area that wouldn’t be dramatically different but would include what we would consider as natural as possible (interestingly, the new bison conservation area includes a lot of this area). Without that we are still seeing the effects on wolves by humans since multiple species (including wolves and humans, and bears, cougars, coyotes, etc) hunt and feed on Northern Yellowstone elk.

              Your 2nd point: Yes, human and wildlife interaction is the norm these days, I agree. So it is important and valuable to have a baseline knowledge in pristine areas but is it transferable to multiple areas. Those are good but unknown questions and can be correlated through studies using similar methods but outside of a given park.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Rancher Bob,

              Early day folks recognized before the 20th century that the boundaries of Yellowstone Park were wrong due to ignorance of the area when it was created. It was originally a square. Now it is just kind of squarish. There were some boundary adjustments on the east and near Gardiner.

              You can make a good argument that little is added to the Park by having the Madison Plateau on the SW in the Park. It is high, flat, except for some dry basalt canyons, covered with slowly growing and small lodgepole pine, and no water and little wildlife. I am one of a small number of people who have been on it (crossed over it).

              The headwaters of Hellroaring and Slough Creek north of the Park are very obviously logical parts of Yellowstone in terms of wildlife migration, watershed protection, and a defensible deep backcountry boundary. In fact the Absaroka Primitive Area was created early on to fill this void with protection. It was always open to hunting, however, I think that is most unfortunate. They could take out the Madison Plateau and add this (Absaroka area) to the Park, and Yellowstone would be a more complete natural area.

  25. avatar Tayo says:

    Mark:

    Could you give a definition of genetic diversity as it relates to conservation? I’m trying to see your reasoning.

  26. avatar David says:

    Hi,

    Just spent around $900 in Cooke City. Lots of people looking for wolves, though me hiking mostly, I would certainly have liked to see the wolves. Since 1995 I have been spending my money in local communities. No wolves, no Dave.

    Dave

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      David,

      There are generally not many wolves around Cooke City from what I hear. The Park population of wolves is way down with the Lamar Canyon Pack, Hellroaring, and Canyon being the only seen (well sometimes Mollies too).

      Did you hear anything different?

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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

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