Understanding Montana’s Wolf Policy Decision

George Wuerthner

On July 12, 2012, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP) Commissioners voted 4-0 to increase wolf hunting in the state, expanding the hunting season and permitting the trapping of wolves for the first time as well. The goal is to reduce wolf numbers across the state in hopes that it will calm the hysteria that presently surrounds wolf management.

The commission’s decision to boost wolf hunting and trapping will likely lead to greater conflicts between humans and wolves because MDFWP’s management ignores the social ecology of predators.

Hunting predators tends to skew populations towards younger animals. Younger animals are inexperienced hunters and thus are more likely to attack livestock. Predator hunting disrupts pack cohesion, reduces the “cultural” knowledge of pack members about things like where elk might migrate or where deer spend the winter.

In addition, just as occurs with coyotes, under heavy persecution, wolves respond by producing more pups. More pups means greater mouths to feed, and a need to kill even more game—thus hunting and trapping may actually lead to greater predator kill of game animals like elk and deer.

Thus a vicious self-reinforcing feedback mechanism is set up whereby more predators are killed, leading to greater conflicts, and more demand for even greater predator control.

So why has MDFWP and the commission ignored the social ecology of predators? The answer lies in politics.

Montana’s hunters have been driven to frenzy by various interest groups. Some are just plain ignorant predator ecology and truly believe that the best way to reduce conflicts is to kill more wolves. Less wolves, some believe, means hunter nirvana.  But others have a sinister motive which I believe the MDFWP Commission was in part responding to.

Right-wing conservative groups have seized upon the wolf issue as a way to generate support among ecologically ignorant hunters. They have used the media and hunting advocacy groups (like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) to sell the idea that wolves were a major threat to big game hunting– despite the fact there are more elk now in Montana than when wolves were first restored.

Others spread stories about wolves carrying off babies and children or spreading infectious disease.

Some of the most conspiracy-minded survivalist types even believe the restoration of wolves is a UN Plot—part of Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a plan for sustainable living but many conservatives believe is a blue print for a new world order.

And of course against this backdrop we had the livestock industry screaming that wolves were destined to destroy the industry despite an annual loss of less than 100 animals to the predators last year out of a total population of 2.5 million cattle and sheep.

These conservative organizations and individuals successfully made killing wolves a litmus test for politicians and even the MDFWP. If you were not supportive of more wolf persecution, you were, at the very least against rural America and in the minds of some individuals perhaps even against hunters.

At the worst, a decision to lessen the persecution of wolves meant you were sympathetic to animal rights organizations and gun control advocates. What Fish and Game Commissioner wants to be branded as siding with animal rights organizations or the gun control crowd? Of course that is all irrational. But you must remember this issue is not based on rational thought.

It is within this kind of madness that the MDFWP Commissioners were required to make a decision.  If the commission did anything but increase the killing of wolves, it would have certified in many people’s mind, including many hunters that the MDFWP was anti hunter.

The Commission vote demonstrates that Fish and Game agencies are incapable of managing predators based on science or ethics.

One must remember that hunter and angler license sales are the primary funding mechanism for state wildlife agencies. Even if the vast majority of the public were against killing predators, the state agencies are likely to ignore those concerns if there is the perception that the majority of hunters were in favor of more predator control.

The commission, for instance, recently increased the quota for mountain lion in western Montana despite the direct opposition of some its own biologists who argued that such hunting was ineffective and even detrimental to mountain lion populations.

In Montana, as with the rest of the country, I have no doubts that the majority of hunters favor fewer wolves.  And the commissioners have to dance with the one that “brung ya.”

Beyond this political background that the commissioners faced, there was an even larger context.

The right wing conservative organizations, most of them friendly and supportive of Republican candidates for office, were hoping to lay a trap for Democratic politicians. If the Commissioners, who after all, were appointed by a Democratic governor, voted to maintain last year’s hunting quota or god forbid actually reduce or eliminate wolf hunting, it would have been exactly the issue needed to unseat every Democrat in the Montana legislature.

There was a further fear—and a not unwarranted one—that if the MDFWP Commission did not expand wolf hunting and trapping, it could ruin the chances for Democratic candidates for office.  A new Republican governor and Republican dominated legislature it is reasoned, would quickly sweep the MDFWP Commission clear of anyone who didn’t actively promote even more aggressive wolf control.

There is also some who were willing to bet, and probably were correct, that all Democratic candidates would be hurt if the Commission did not expand wolf hunting, including Senator Jon Tester, who is seeking re election to the US Senate.

So it was within this context that the Commissioners had to make their decision.

I do know the MDFWP Commissioners are well educated, thoughtful, and very conscientious men. In my view the MDFWP commissioners are men of the highest integrity.  Although I was not privy to any of their thoughts, I am certain they did not reach their decision, easily nor with any joy.  For some, I am almost certain it was an agonizing and painful splitting of the baby. I would not have wanted to be in their shoes.

I suspect that if you asked them why they decided to expand wolf killing, they would tell you that they know that wolves won’t be eliminated from Montana—and that is a step forward compared to the situation of a few decades ago when there were few or no wolves in the state.

And some might even suggest that once the rhetoric and hysteria dies down, they could envision a more sensible and less vindictive approach to wolf management in the future. There might even be wolf management based on science, including the social ecology of predators, instead of politics.

I am also certain if you could speak to the Commissioners in private when they thought no one would hear, they might admit the wolf had to take the fall for a “greater good.”  As they would suggest, and quite correctly I’m afraid, a Republican Governor in Montana would be even more likely to enact aggressive wolf hunting policies, and appoint Commissioners far less sympathetic to wolf supporters.

It may be difficult to believe that MDFWP Commissioners are sympathetic to wolf supporters given their votes, but I know after attending one of the hearings  that the Commissioners are not personally hostile to wolves.

But I am sure that Commissioners were thinking even beyond Montana state politics when they voted to expand wolf persecution. If somehow right wing conservatives were able to paint Senator Tester as one of the “wolf loving” Democrats, it might hurt his re election bid. After all Tester only won in the last election by a mere 3000 votes.

Whether a correct assumption or not, many Democrats fear if Tester loses his re election, the US Senate could tip to the Republicans. In their worst nightmares, some Democrats  see a situation whereby Republican Mitt Romney wins the White House, the rabid tea party activists manage to hold on to their stranglehold on the House, and the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

With all legislative bodies held by Republicans and a Supreme Court that sees Corporations as persons, and is generally sympathetic to tea party anti-government rhetoric and big business interests, there is no end to the bad outcomes that one could imagine might befall the country.

Within this political context, a few more dead wolves seems like a small, if not regrettable sacrifice necessary to prevent a far worse calamity for the country. The unfortunate thing for me is that it appears that despite all the scientific research, and “enlightened” environmental concern, predators are still being treated as unwanted and under-valued members of our wildlife heritage.

I might even go so far as to suggest pro wolf sympathizers made some strategic mistakes. They failed to hammer over and over again that predator control is unnecessary, ethically suspect, and only leads to greater conflict.  By not taking the high moral ground, they lost the political debate.

Many were unwilling to argue against wolf hunting in general—afraid that such a position would be unacceptable to most hunters and ranchers.  By passively and in some cases, even agreeing that wolf control was needed, it legitimized the idea that wolf control was necessary. At that point the discussion just degenerates to a debate about how many wolves should be killed, not whether wolves should be killed in the first place.

Environmentalists should have stated categorically there is no legitimate reason to kill wolves or any other predators for that matter, except perhaps for the most unusual and special circumstances such as the surgical removal of an aggressive animal.

Instead of arguing that wolves are part of the Nation’s wildlife patrimony that deserve to be treated with respect, appreciation, and enlightened policies, pro wolf activists lost the rhetorical argument by allowing anti wolf forces to define the limits of discussion and successfully frame the issue.

In my view, many conservation organizations lost the debate with their weak and tepid stance.  As many have suggested, boldness is rewarded—and in the case of wolves—boldness by those set on using wolves as a surrogate for conservative values won the political debate.

If environmentalists had made a more cogent argument, marshaled the latent and widespread support for predators, wolves in particular, they might have provided the political cover for the MDFWP commissioners to make a more wolf-friendly decision.

 

 

 

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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

160 Responses to The Politics Behind Montana’s Wolf Hunt Decision

  1. avatar DLB says:

    Anti-wolf politicians will beat the issue to death regardless of how MDFWP acts on wolves. Since the anti-wolf platform is mostly built on lies, it only takes more lies to try and keep the hysteria moving forward and maintain the political support it can provide.

    No matter how many wolves are left in the state, or how aggressively they are hunted/trapped, they will just pull estimates out of thin air. Rest assured that there will still be “thousands” of wolves in the state, even if a MDFWP estimate came in at below 100. All they would have to do is claim the MDFWP hippies are lying in order to get the wolf relisted.

    In my opinion, most platforms built on hysteria have a life-cycle. People get burned out on hearing the sky is falling after a while. It could take some time yet, but this issue is going to slowly taper off over the years (maybe decades), especially if in reality, there are only a few hundred wolves in the state. After that, there will only be periodic flare-ups.

  2. avatar Dean Smith says:

    In your article you state “In my view the MDFWP commissioners are men of the highest integrity.” How can you state they have any integrity at all when they so blatantly ignored public comment. How can they have an ounce of integrity after receiving “Stimulous Packages” aka bribe money from both Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Trappers Associations. FWP should have refused monetary influx (from any and all groups) if they had any integrity at all. Plus add to this that the issue is so divided that no matter what decision was made they will be the bad guys. Which is why they should have put it on the public ballot for vote this fall (which would still allow hunting, and the trapping regulations would be approved before trapping season ensued). It is plain to me they have no integrity and should summarily be removed from office and replaced with people who will represent the public fairly and cannot be bought. This is a democracy, but the actions taken in no way were democratic.

    • avatar elk275 says:

      Who is the public? Montana residents or all Americans. Montana residents would have voted for the hunting of wolves. The commissioners represent the residents of Montana. Non residents who do not purchase a $1000 elk/deer combo hunting license do not have a say. That is my opinion.

      • avatar Dean Smith says:

        I think I would agree with you that Montanan’s would have voted for the hunting of wolves. But the majority of Montanan’s asked for adjustments to be made to the trapping proposals in the over 6500 letters that were sent to FWP from Montana residents.

        I dont think anyone disagree’s that a hunt is a part of the management picture. A lot may not like it, but can understand. This goes beyond just the wolves to public safety and use of public lands.

        I dont think the actions taken have anything really to do with the issue, but more to do with securing future favors, votes, and politics. I dont think the decisions made took into consideration the interests of all residents who use our public lands, but since FWP is tag and license funded (in part) took the easy way out.

      • avatar Dean Smith says:

        Though one point of disagreement. Montana takes in more federal $$$ than it makes on its own. There is more Federal land than state land when you consider the National Forests, National Parks (the word national appears on our map way more than state). After all we are part of the United States, and Other states are vested heavily into our state in commerce, industry, etc. at what point does their opinion start to matter?

        I dont think the issue solely resides in the opinions of those people who did buy a hunting tag/license vs those who did not. This is a public issue because it deals with public land use.

        Most of the major businesses and corporations that own the majority of Montana are not montana based and completely dwarf the revenue of all montana based commerce on all levels. Again, when does their opinion matter?

        Who is the public? I was addressing Montana residents (but also think the nation has forked over a lot of vested interest into our state and should not be disregarded). I do agree I would like to have a bit more say about what happens in our state than a non resident, but it is a fact we are a part of a greater republic.

        lol, besides, instate – out of state in this case did not matter. all people were ignored

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “Montana residents would have voted for the hunting of wolves”

        I disagree Elk. How many Montana residents, who have no problem with wolves, actually knew they had a voice?

        How many wolves are hunted down and shot each year on public lands? And how many of those “private” lands, where wolves are hunted down and shot, receive subsidies, whether it be from actual predation or “weather/disease related” losses?
        Or…. have signed on to some of the many “easement” agreements available out there:

        http://travelersforopenland.org/faqs.php

        Which allow them to maintain the land, collect a fee and “shot at will” any predator that might cause a fuss when it comes to their livelyhood?

        I seem to recall, you live in a pretty progessive part of the state of Montana Elk, where, I’m guessing more people are probably worried now about crimes against themselves (and their property) these days then a few hundred head of livestock being picked off annually, by predators.

        Is there not some cost, when doing business in what’s left of wilderness areas, where predators are around or are we talking about really spoiled people these days, with WS on the speed dial?

        “Non residents who do not purchase a $1000 elk/deer combo hunting license do not have a say”

        Please explain that statement.

      • avatar louise kane says:

        Elk maybe you should so some digging about the Montana comments. I have done that investigation, and there were a great many Montanans against the new regs and trapping in particular. I made a promise to keep a conversation from a reliable source private and I’m sticking to that promise, but your statement, “Montana residents would have voted for the hunting of wolves.” is not that simple. Take a look at the comments, you can ask for them.

  3. avatar timz says:

    “In my view, many conservation organizations lost the debate with their weak and tepid stance. As many have suggested, boldness is rewarded”

    I could not agree more. All the talk by these groups about working together,attending hearings, paying for livestock losses,etc.,etc., has accomplished nothing but the wholesale slaughter of wolves. George makes the point this is political and politics is a dirty game. You play it cleanly and you lose.

  4. avatar taz alago says:

    I sure agree with George’s point about the weakness of enviro org’s response to the wolf pogrom, and I blame Defenders of Wildlife for setting the tone.

  5. avatar Mike says:

    The problem with most wildlife/environmental groups is the “thoughtful liberal act”. The “throughout liberal act,” where you pontificate and philosophize with a group of people works fantastic for governing.

    It absolutely sucks for elections and pushing issues. In these cases, you have to be swift and move with force. You have to get your hands dirty and get a little mean.

    One of my favorite wildlife groups is Alliance for the Wild Rockies. They do not dick around. They do not placate or worry about toe-stepping. They just get it done. I’d recommend a donation:

    http://www.wildrockiesalliance.org/

    The truth is, groups like the Sea Sheperds get REAL Results, whether you like their tactics or not. In order to stop this wolf nonsense for the time being (they’ll be back on the list in five years), we are going to need PHYSICAL action on the ground. Things like scaring away wolves from traps, freeing wolves, etc. We basically need to start doing what Sea Sheperd does. Real on the ground action.

    Only then will we start getting attention. Trappers need to be confronted with video cameras. We need to use technology to scare wolves away from traps. Scents, noises, you name it. There’s lots of creative ways to go about this.

    But the time has come, no doubt. I’d love to be part of something like that. If I lived in Montana or Idaho, I’d already have a group in place that travels the woods, freeing trapped animals with bolt cutters and other gear. I’d use dogs to help find the trapped animals.

    The public, overall, hates trapping. they just don’t know this is going on, and the only way to make them aware of it is sensationalistic news stories.

    • avatar Bruce Jensen says:

      I hate to say it, Mike, but I agree with you. The Fascist bigot trolls in MT and ID will only respond to public pressure brought on by direct action and, if necessary, resistance in the face of their foul violence.

    • avatar elk275 says:

      Mike

      Have at it. Montana is 93,000,000 acres, finding a set trap is going to to be like finding a needle in a haystack. The Big Hole Valley has been called the land of 10,000 haystacks, now try finding 10,000 needles in 10,000 hay stacks in the Big Hole Valley.

      I have found one trap in my life; it had a beaver in it. Also, if you get caught destroying traps it is up to 6 months in the county jail and jails do not serve vegan food.

      • avatar skyrim says:

        “jails do not serve vegan food.”
        And you believe that there are no carnivores in the cause huh?

      • avatar skyrim says:

        silly boy!

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        6 months in jail for destroying a trap, nada for destroying (how is it different from
        Poaching) a non target species.

        • avatar Mike says:

          ++6 months in jail for destroying a trap, nada for destroying (how is it different from
          Poaching) a non target species.++

          Interesting how that works. It’s okay to indiscriminately kill an animal, but mess up a piece of metal and get six months in jail.

          Backwards hillbilly bullshit. There’s a reason why people are bailing on these states.

          • avatar jon says:

            I don’t quite get that myself. Destroying a trap may result in a fine and jail time, but if a trapper catches and kills a non-target animal, nothing happens to him? Where is the logic in this? You have to wonder how many non-target animals have been trapped and killed and the trappers didn’t report the kills. I think trapping should be banned as it has shown time and time again it doesn’t discriminate between animals.

      • avatar Mike says:

        ++Have at it. Montana is 93,000,000 acres, finding a set trap is going to to be like finding a needle in a haystack. The Big Hole Valley has been called the land of 10,000 haystacks, now try finding 10,000 needles in 10,000 hay stacks in the Big Hole Valley.++

        Wait a second, I thought wolves were overunning everyone there? I thought they were “closing in” on towns? Now you;re telling me that Montana is a vast place, and that a few hundred wolves over 90 million acres are hard to find?

        Well imagine that.

        ++I have found one trap in my life; it had a beaver in it. Also, if you get caught destroying traps it is up to 6 months in the county jail and jails do not serve vegan food.++

        It would be almost impossible to get caught destroying a trap.

        Recreational trappers need to get their junk off the land. The vast majority of Americans don’t approve of recreational trapping.

        • avatar JB says:

          “It would be almost impossible to get caught destroying a trap.”

          Likewise, it would be almost impossible to get caught shooting a wolf. Advocating for breaking the law to get your way makes you no better than the poachers, Mike.

          • avatar Mike says:

            ++Likewise, it would be almost impossible to get caught shooting a wolf. Advocating for breaking the law to get your way makes you no better than the poachers, Mike.++

            Oh yes it does. Bending the law to save a life is always superior to bending the law to take one.

            • avatar JB says:

              Breaking, not bending, Mike. And if we were talking about human life, I would agree. But we’re not.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Life is life. We’re talking about a big, thinking, feeling, breathing mammal here.

            • avatar JB says:

              Life is life, eh? Repeat those words the next time you catch yourself swatting at mosquitoes or flies, or for that matter, having a chicken sandwich.

  6. avatar Bruce Jensen says:

    Common decency, just treatment and intelligent ecological management know no bounds. Montana bigots will tell you that it’s their own decision about how to manage THEIR own wildlife – but they are ethically and scientifically on a bed of quicksand. Montana and Idaho – where fascism has gone to recuperate.

  7. avatar Bruce Jensen says:

    I disagree that a hunt is a valid part of the management picture. Give one good biologically sound reason why there should be an open season at all on any predator.

  8. avatar Nancy says:

    “We’ll be trapping wolves” Say these little boys, with their “jaws of death” toys:

    http://www.trapperman.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/3224763/Re_We_ll_be_trapping_Wolves_th

  9. avatar Jerry Black says:

    I think this part needs re-reading as it pertains specifically to the groups represented at the hearing….namely, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC, Sierra Club, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and some wannabe “advocacy” groups………..”.I might even go so far as to suggest pro wolf sympathizers made some strategic mistakes. They failed to hammer over and over again that predator control is unnecessary, ethically suspect, and only leads to greater conflict. By not taking the high moral ground, they lost the political debate.

    Many were unwilling to argue against wolf hunting in general—afraid that such a position would be unacceptable to most hunters and ranchers. By passively and in some cases, even agreeing that wolf control was needed, it legitimized the idea that wolf control was necessary. At that point the discussion just degenerates to a debate about how many wolves should be killed, not whether wolves should be killed in the first place.

    Environmentalists should stated categorically there is no legitimate reason to kill wolves or any other predators for that matter, except perhaps for the most unusual and special circumstances such as the surgical removal of an aggressive animal.

    Instead of arguing that wolves are part of the Nation’s wildlife patrimony that deserve to be treated with respect, appreciation, and enlightened policies, pro wolf activists lost the rhetorical argument by allowing anti wolf forces to define the limits of discussion and successfully frame the issue.

    In my view, many conservation organizations lost the debate with their weak and tepid stance. As many have suggested, boldness is rewarded—and in the case of wolves—boldness by those set on using wolves as a surrogate for conservative values won the political debate.

    If environmentalists had made a more cogent argument, marshaled the latent and widespread support for predators, wolves in particular, they might have provided the political cover for the MDFWP commissioners to make a more wolf-friendly decision.”

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++Many were unwilling to argue against wolf hunting in general—afraid that such a position would be unacceptable to most hunters and ranchers. By passively and in some cases, even agreeing that wolf control was needed, it legitimized the idea that wolf control was necessary. At that point the discussion just degenerates to a debate about how many wolves should be killed, not whether wolves should be killed in the first place.++

      The “thoughtful liberal act” crystallized. Mismanagement(or a failure to manage) the Overton Window, too.

      • avatar JB says:

        “…afraid that such a position would be unacceptable to most hunters and ranchers…”

        It really doesn’t have anything to do with “fear” that such a position is unacceptable; rather, it seems reasonable to compromise with people with whom we disagree. Some of us can accept hunting (and even some trapping) so long as adequate protections for wolves remain. The “no compromise” attitude will only lead to swings between eradication and total protection.

        • avatar Jerry Black says:

          JB…..”It really doesn’t have anything to do with “fear” that such a position is unacceptable;”
          That’s not true, JB, and I suggest you spend some time in Montana hanging out with the “conservation” groups and also folks on the other side.
          Too much speculation on the part of those that don’t spend 24/7 in Montana associating with people on both sides of the issue……George, who resides in Helena, does.
          Notice how the spokesmen for groups like Defenders, NRDC etc preface their remarks with….”First of all, I’m a hunter and angler”??

          • avatar Mike says:

            ++Notice how the spokesmen for groups like Defenders, NRDC etc preface their remarks with….”First of all, I’m a hunter and angler”?++

            This is the speaker trying be likeable to hunters and fishermen. I understand why they do this, but it’s not working.

          • avatar JB says:

            “Notice how the spokesmen for groups like Defenders, NRDC etc preface their remarks with….’First of all, I’m a hunter and angler’?”

            Of course, that’s communication 101. The information source is one of the most important factors determining message reception. Letting an intended audience know that you are part of their group lends instant credibility to your message.

            Yesterday, I listened while a farmer-friend of our Tea Party governor tried to sell a tax increase, which isn’t popular among farmers or conservatives. He prefaced his statement with, “First thing you should know about me, I’m a fiscal conservative…”

            But let’s not skirt the issue. What is being suggested here is that the appropriate way to respond to groups that don’t compromise is to not compromise–I submit that this is the fundamental problem with politics in the US today. The all-or-nothing approach to advocacy where wolves are concerned will lead to swings in policy between what some perceive as over-harvest and what others perceive as over-protection–and neither group will be happy. More importantly, the folks who don’t want any conservation will have successfully kept hunters and non-hunting conservationists divided and weak.

  10. avatar Barbara Bussell says:

    Wolves have the right to live on this earth just as others do.
    Please stop this murder of the Wolves.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Wolves have no rights, “Rights” are a human concept, wolves have no understanding of what we think. The Animal Rights activists have thrown there support of right behind an animal that has no comprehension.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “Wolves have no rights, “Rights” are a human concept, wolves have no understanding of what we think”

        A concept, thought process, that went over quite well back in the days of owning our own kind – slaves “a” okay and the removal of native americans from the west? Also “a” okay because they’re “not human” and have no rights.

        How many times are we (mankind) gonna go down that road before we finally get it right?

        Seen The 11th Hour yet SB?

        • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

          It pretty well goes along the line with what some on the other side say about wolves being,”serial killers”.Here again,humans labeling animals.

        • avatar JB says:

          Nancy:

          What are you suggesting? That animals should have rights? Please elaborate.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            “What are you suggesting? That animals should have rights? Please elaborate”

            Don’t “we” the human species, fall under the catagory of animals JB?

            Humans, being made of ANIMAL CELLS, feeding on other life for sustenance, and having organs and organ systems are certainly animals by EVERY definition.

            • avatar JB says:

              Okay…?

              Yes. Homo sapiens are members of the animal kingdom. So are you suggesting ALL members of the animal kingdom should have rights?

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            JB,

            Perhaps time for synthesis of Darwin and S.J. Gould.

            Darwin reminded himself never to say “higher” or “lower” in describing the structure of organisms– “for if an amoeba is as well adapted to it’s environment as we are to ours, who is to say we are higher creatures?”

            Social Darwinism, a fallacious equation of organic evolution with progress… has lead to unfortunate consequences. “This discredited theory … remains a primary component of our global arrogance-our belief in dominion over, rather than fellowship with, more than a million species that inhabit the planet.”

            We are at the threshold of either saying will will learn, or will not learn how to ***coexist*** with other species.

            Does the “robust” mosquito population have a right to exist, even though in MN they are like the plague? I bet there are many birds and bats “thankful” for the bounty, and for as many as I slap, there are a thousand to take their place. Not so with all critters.

            Not meant as argument, but as philosophical meanderings.

            • avatar JB says:

              Immer:

              I couldn’t agree more regarding the faulty logic underlying social Darwinism. (It is well understood in the scientific community that evolution is not a progression toward complexity). However, I disagree that social Darwinism somehow underpins our “…global arrogance-our belief in dominion over, rather than fellowship with, more than a million species that inhabit the planet.”

              I am willing to bet that most people do not know what social Darwinism is, yet they still swat mosquitoes (and were swatting them long before Darwin). Likewise, I’m willing to bet that is it 1 in a million that takes the time to reflect on our fundamental relationship with nature before swatting. Rather, we simply do what ALL ANIMALS DO–try to remove what has become a nuisance. Our behavior (literally and figuratively “swatting” a nuisance) does not make us anomalous among animals–all animals will try to avoid or remove other animals that are bothering them.

              “…and for as many as I slap, there are a thousand to take their place.”

              Assigning “rights” to individual animals means each individual is entitled to the same moral consideration regardless of the size of its population. When you consider the size of the population, you’re essentially saying, ‘this individual animal is entitled to greater consideration because there are fewer of its kind in existence, and we have a responsibility to ensure they remain.’ Now that’s an argument I can live with.

      • avatar Ida says:

        I like to think of it as “natural rights”. I believe they have a right to exist and to non-interference by we humans. Since they were put on Earth by a power greater than huma, religious or not, whatever that may be, we have no right to force our will upon them. Our legal system is human only and have nothing to do with them, they do not recognize state boundaries, etc. We must learn to coexist. That’s just my opinion.

    • avatar Mike says:

      Agreed.

      • avatar Ida says:

        Thanks. :)

        I’m one of those people who, if there’s a bug in the house, will put him outside. :)

        But, there are no absolutes. Of course there will be times when we’ll put our needs first. I’m not against hunting for food – we’re part of the natural cycle too. What I find dismaying is that mankind takes waaaayyyy more than his share and is continually on the take. If it were simply a matter of certain animal populations decreasing and requiring more consideration because of it, that would be fine – but we are not doing that either, especially with our wolves. Some are blatantly pushing the envelope as far as they can in order to get rid of them. I am of the mind that wolves should always be protected in some way because of the irrational beliefs, fear and hatred towards them, which hasn’t changed in over 200 years.

        Again, I am not against ethical and rational hunting. I am against trapping because it is cruel and unnecessary, especially for wolves. I’m against hunting for sport and canned hunts (horrendous), and animals taken into captivity for our entertainment. The anti-wolf types who call wolves “serial killers” (laughable because only humans do that) or disingenuously gasp and report the horrors of wolf taking down prey evidently don’t want to admit that when they hunt, they do the same thing, they kill young pups, and the slaughtering of our domesticated animals in slaughterhouses certianly isn’t humane.

  11. avatar ma'iingan says:

    “Hunting predators tends to skew populations towards younger animals.”

    I don’t believe that to be true with wolves. Adams and associates found that pups were harvested at a significantly higher rate than they occurred in the population, and that this actually delayed dispersal for siblings.

    Adams, Stephenson, et al. Population Dynamics and Harvest Characteristics of Wolves in the Central Brooks Range, Alaska. Wildlife Monographs Vol. 170, 2008.

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      Ma’iingan
      I read that study couple weeks ago, once again George pulls some facts from where? Makes one ask what else is Georged?

      • avatar nabeki says:

        “Fryxell says ecologists are starting to realize that age needs to be included in models of predator-prey abundance. Game managers should pay attention as well. Most managers who want to boost numbers of elk and deer think all you need to do is kill wolves, says ecologist Christopher Wilmers of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “But this study shows you’re probably increasing your problem, since you’ll end up with younger wolves that kill more prey.” That’s because when a pack vanishes or is weakened and loses its territory, he says, younger wolves often move in. “You’re better off leaving the wolves alone.”

        NOTHING TO FEAR FROM THE BIG BALD WOLF
        by Virginia Morell on 23 October 2009,
        http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2009/10/23-01.html?etoc

        • avatar Savebears says:

          But there is something to fear from such an uninformed activist name nabeki…

          • avatar Jerry Black says:

            SB “But there is something to fear from such an uninformed activist name nabeki…….
            Come on, SB. You can do better than that.
            “Uninformed” compared to who??
            Uninformed compared to which activist group?
            How’bout elaborating and giving some examples of information Nabeki has provided that was erroneous.
            In other words, back up your cowardly, cheap shot comment.

            • avatar skyrim says:

              Like you Jerry, I too have been waiting on a comment from SB, backing up his claims, but I fear none are forthcoming. He’s been awful busy defending the use of bear fat in pie crusts elsewhere.

    • avatar red says:

      My read of Adams study was different. Adams studied radio-collared animals in a specific area. Pup “harvest rate of 0.136″ exceeded “adults greater than or equal to 1 year old harvest rate of 0.095.” Problem is yearling and 2 year old wolves emigrated from the area in mass – 44% and 29% of yearlings and 2 year old wolves, respectively. As a result, the “adult” harvest rate will be low since many of the wolves left the area (and could have been killed by hunting/trapping elsewhere).

      This area also only had a moderate “harvest” at 12% of the resident wolf population. Sti11 50% of wolf population in Autumn was comprised of pups. Usually this data is given for winter populations so we can’t compare exactly to other studies. Still, this proportion of pups is much higher than unexploited populations:

      Source: Parker and Luttich, “Characteristics of the Wolf (Canis lupus lubrudorius Goldman)
      in Northern Quebec and Labrador”, ARCTIC
      VOL. 39, NO. 2 (JUNE 1986) P. 145-149

      “The representation of pups in winter in unexploited wolf populations normally ranges from 13% (Kelsall, 1968) to 20%
      (Fuller and Novakowski, 1955) and in exploited populations from 35% (Pimlott et al., 1969) to 55% (Fuller, unpubl. data). Statistics from this sample from northern Labrador and Quebec
      (i.e., 49% pups; 55% annual adult survival) suggest a population of moderate exploitation (Mech, 1970).”

      More importantly, wolves do not reach full maturity (as measured by body mass) until 5-6 years old (per studies by Mech and others).

      The study from Labrador and Quebec had “moderate exploitation” (adult annual survival rate was 55% compared to 79.1% in Adams study with less exploitation).

      The effect on age distribution in Labrador and Quebec’s study population was striking:

      Age % of Wolf Population

      0.5 49.1%
      1.5 25.0%
      2.5 9.4%
      3.5 9.0%
      4.5 2.8%
      5.5 1.9%
      6.5 0.9%
      7.5 0.9%
      8.5 0.0%
      9.5 0.5%
      10.5 0.5%

      Certainly, that does not appear to be a healthy age distribution of wolves IMHO.

      Adams also suggests breeding adults killed by hunting/trapping are replaced by younger wolves (offspring or transients which tend to be younger wolves).

      Finally, Bob Hayes’s wolf control research in Yukon showed per capita wolf kill rates increased significantly after wolf control since smaller packs killed more prey due to increased losses to scavengers.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Hmmm,

        Thought I put it in here? But well stated Red.

        Someone before brought up the take on wolves is comparable to Russian roulette. Per breeding, one might expect pups and younger wolves to be in the majority. With hunting, and trapping, more young wolves will be taken, yet, so will older wolves. Over the years one would expect the average age to be “driven” down as man and “natuaral” causes will whittle down the average age, in particular in smaller populations.

        Also, spot on with the Hayes comment about smaller packs having to kill more because of scavengers. When i go out looking for signs of wolves, in particular in the Winter, I look for ravens.

    • avatar jon says:

      Do you agree or disagree with the claim that killing adult wolves of the wolf pack is a bad idea because it will make the wolf pups who have not learned how to hunt big game go after livestock and cattle because they are a much easier animal to kill.

      • avatar jon says:

        If adult wolves are killed and their wolf pups have not learned how to hunt on their own, it would make sense that they would go after easier prey such as cattle and livestock. Why don’t wildlife managers factor things like this into their management hunts? I know of instances in Africa where injured lions who could not hunt their normal prey went after cattle and livestock instead. Seems like these wildlife managers are causing more problems by ignoring these sort of issues.

  12. avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

    2008?What took you so long to read it,Rancher Bob? Don’t answer,I know you are a very busy person.Well,enough of this tit for tat,I have chores in the morning,so I have to call it a day..

  13. avatar jburnham says:

    As a Montana resident, I didn’t take issue with the wolf hunt in general, nor the change allowing hunters to take multiple wolves, nor the trapping. My position had nothing to do with fear of what hunting and ranching groups wanted. Can’t we be honest and acknowledge that there’s a wide array of values represented under the “environmentalist” and “pro-wolf” banners?

    What really bothers me is that they’ve removed the quotas on wolves and gone the way of Idaho (trust us, we’ll manage for a “robust” population, we just won’t tell you what the number is.)

    I’m also especially annoyed that the commissioners recommended allowing electronic calls for wolf hunting. Electronic calls are not currently legal for any game species in Montana and are not part of our fair chase hunting traditions. I fear a slippery slope. Soon there will be a push to legalize them for coyotes and more. Then what’s next, baiting?

    The commissioners like to repeat the old line about managing wolves like any other game species but then when they they get the chance, they do the exact opposite.

    • avatar jon says:

      I listened to the meeting on thursday online. Another disturbing thing that some may not know is that Montana fwp seemed to do away with the 425 number as their objective. You have to wonder what they will do if enough wolves aren’t killed in this upcoming wolf hunting season. Will they resort to aerial gunning? perhaps poisoning? Who knows, but it doesn’t look good for Montana’s wolves.

    • avatar jon says:

      the question is could Montana fwp classify wolves as predators and allow them to be shot on sight year round like coyotes? Montana fwp said at the meeting that they want to treat wolves like big game, but can we believe anything these people say? These commissioners are making the rules on how to manage wildlife, yet most of these commissioners are not biologists. The same goes with Idaho fish and game’s commissioners. Why are they allowing political hacks dictate on how wildlife is managed? Commissioners, most of them anyways are not wildlife biologists.

    • avatar Dean Smith says:

      Well said, and I would like them to more clearly define fair chase. If hunters/trappers are not successful, they keep making up new rules? If they did not get the job done with 1 tag last year, how does giving them 3 make it better? How exactly is that “managing” anything.

      When there are problem Grizzlies, a biologist and team go out, tranq it, relocate it (or depending on situation could put it down). Why has there been NO discussion by FWP about them actively participating in relieving pressure in problem areas in this manner and relocate those animals to the Bob Marshall wilderness or to several of the refuges that take wolves in, or to tribal lands who have been asking all along to help in this? Why cant we take a course of action that makes sense for all?

  14. avatar Ida says:

    When the hysteria dies down -

    The hysteria hasn’t abated since Europeans first set foot on North American soil, and I fear it never will.

    I see a trade going on for the Democrats to try and hold on to power, and it sickens me. No matter what environmental strides are made, it can’t remove the stain of taking the wolves off the Endangered List, and worse, giving the states complete freedom to drive them into extinction, while our government looks the other way, while they address every single other problem facing our country, with environmental issues mostly dead last, as usual. It’s unacceptable. This won’t be a happy November election for me. There’s no predicting what the Supreme Court will do, despite who is in the White House, and I fear betting on the future is going to destroy our wolves in the present. I hope I am wrong. I understand Mike’s frustration, and I wish there was something we could do.

  15. avatar Lesly says:

    I completely agree that prowolf advocates have dropped the ball by deciding to reconcile. This is not how politics are run DOW unfortunately has let us down immensely. They’ve left the wolf wars to small fragmented organizations that don’t have the money or power to get the job done. I’m saddened that in my lifetime I will probably never see the wolf treated with the respect it should. That certainly doesn’t lessen my passion & fight though!

  16. avatar nabeki says:

    I usually agree with George but I don’t understand his defense of the commissioners for doing the wrong thing. They had a choice, cave to political pressure from the right wing crazies or consider the facts. Wolves are neither a threat to the livestock industry or the 150,000 elk in Montana, so why the heavy hand?

    Every commissioner who voted to trap wolves knew they were making the wrong decision and they did it anyway. I don’t call that integrity, I call it pandering. Shame on them.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      It was only wrong in your opinion nabeki, there are many differing opinions on this subject.

  17. avatar Robert R says:

    I can understand some want no hunting or trapping and have no management at all to control the wolf population.
    More is not always the best.

    My question is. What is your recourse if you have a pet, say a family cat, dog, horse or any family animal killed by a wolf. Would you call fish and game, animal control or take matters into your own hands or do you just replace the animal and say it’s ok for the wolf to kill my pets.

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      Your recourse is to not put your pet or animal into a position where it is threatened by wolves in the first place. I don’t take my dog into wolf country if I can help it and when I do I keep him on a leash or close by. If he is killed by wolves it is my fault, not the wolves’ fault.

      • avatar Jerry Black says:

        I hike with my dogs in wolf, bear, lion and coyote country 3 or 4 days a week. It’s not just for they’re benefit, but my own as well. I’d miss much of the wildlife….you learn to watch their reactions and when they stop, I stop….when they look or listen, I do the same. Nine times out of ten, there’s an animal out there that you wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.
        I also have control of my dogs, but as Ken said…if one were to be killed by any predator, I’d take the blame and there would be no retaliation.

    • avatar Mike says:

      ++My question is. What is your recourse if you have a pet, say a family cat, dog, horse or any family animal killed by a wolf. Would you call fish and game, animal control or take matters into your own hands or do you just replace the animal and say it’s ok for the wolf to kill my pets.++

      Trapping does far more damage to pets. I’d look at that issue first.

      • avatar Connie says:

        You might find this database interesting. It details over 300 incidents of harm to non-target animals from trapping.

        http://www.bornfreeusa.org/database/trapping_incidents.php?&page=3

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Connie,

          What sort of reimbursement do you think dog owners received? I’d hazard a guess little to nothing.

          • avatar Connie says:

            I think you’re probably right.

          • avatar jon says:

            That should outrage anyone. People whose dogs are trapped and killed are not reimbursed by the trapper or the state yet in Wisconsin, when a houndsmen dog is killed by wolves, they get reimbursed. The houndsmen know of the risks letting their hounds run wild in a place filled with natural predators an dog owners are probably not aware of the traps.

      • avatar Rancher Bob says:

        Connie’s link list four trapping incidents in Montana in 2012. Four too many but I know more pets were killed by coyotes or wolves or lions or bears in Montana in 2012.
        Maybe we should stop the use of the personal auto to save pets and make our public lands safe. More animals die in and from autos than trapping. I believe every point made against trapping can be made against the auto.

      • avatar Robert R says:

        Mike I have to disagree the trapping does more damage and that depends on the method of trapping. If it’s a snare death is emanate but if it’s a leg hold trap of the modern type no because the jaws cannot fully close tight.
        I have had friends who have lost there dogs to wolves and there is no second chance as there would with a leg hold trap because they die of a horrific death.

        • avatar Mike says:

          Robert -

          The difference is we are supposed to be more highly evolved than dogs. We don’t behave that way. We are above it.

          The vast majority of the lower 48 hates recreational trapping.

          I think trapping has its place in the context of removing a family of skunks from a porch, relocating habituated animals, securing a dangerous animal, etc. But recreational trapping is done, man. Done. It has no use, no place, and no moral standing in a modern society.

          • avatar elk275 says:

            Mike if recreational trapping is done, man. Done. How come it is practiced in all 48 states and Alaska, Hawaii that is a good question. Several states may have been able to outlaw leg hold traps, but to my knowledge all states allow some sort of trapping. In Montana they could not get the anti trapping initiative on the ballot and that would have only stopped trapping on federal public lands, not state lands as they are not considered public land. The initiative would not have passed in the general election.

            One day they may restrict trapping on federal lands but it is a longs ways off. They will never be able to outlaw trapping on private lands in the west. There are more important things to worry about such as additional wilderness designations, acquisitions of private lands that offer access to public lands.

            • avatar Mike says:

              It’s a remnant of political behavior in where politicians have to look “tough”, and often times acquiesce into the unethical sportsmen’s mindset is a way to do this.

              It’s also survived because it clings to hunting like a remora. On it’s own, it would be ended swiftly. But most hunting groups (who are by and large unethical goofs) claim that if you attack any aspect of trapping, the hunting ship will go down to.

              Let me say that I am THRILLED, absolutely THRILLED to see hunter’s numbers plummet across the country. Kids these days realize you don’t have to kill things to enjoy nature.

              The public does not support trapping at all. It flies under the radar. So few do it, but it causes so much damage.

            • avatar jon says:

              When one thinks of Montana, they think of a conservative and pro-hunting state. There are many people in Montana who would support a trapping ban. There are not very many trappers in Montana. I would say there are many more people in Montana who would support a trapping ban then there are people who trap in Montana.

            • avatar Robert R says:

              Elk i have to agree with you because if the vast majority supported a ban in the lower 48 on trapping it would be law and be illegal.
              If you look at the trapping stats in Montana you will see there are far more trapping than you think and most that target non game species are not on record because the animal does have to be tag by a warden.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Then, perhaps a politician with a bit of balls should attach a rider to a must pass bill. We’ve seen that done before.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Mike and Jon

              George Wuerthner understands the political situation in Montana. Both of you do not understand Montana politics or the political history of the state.

              Just because one does not trap does not mean that one is against trapping or that an anti trapping initiative would pass voter approval. Any anti trapping initiative will be protrayed as anti hunting and a nail in the coffin of the hunter.

            • avatar jon says:

              How does anti-trapping equal anti-hunting? If one dislikes trapping, does that mean they dislike hunting? This is just my guess, but I believe there are even hunters out there who dislike trapping.

            • avatar jon says:

              Footloose Montana has a lot of supporters in Montana and elsewhere. You can imagine the backlash by the public there would be if a yellowstone wolf was trapped and killed in this upcoming wolf hunt in Montana.

            • avatar louise kane says:

              I don’t believe we allow trapping in MA, I’ll double check and I am quite sure other states have banned it as well.

              There were a great many comments in Montana and other states) against trapping but none of them had any impact….a sad and not very democratic outcome.

              You said, “One day they may restrict trapping on federal lands but it is a longs ways off. They will never be able to outlaw trapping on private lands in the west. There are more important things to worry about such as additional wilderness designations, acquisitions of private lands that offer access to public lands.”

              I would not be so sure about a ban being a long way off. People are getting more educated about trapping and the plight of wolves in the west is helping to garner attention. As for more important things to worry about, not for the wolves, cougars, bears and other animals languishing in these torture devices and the people who detest this particular form of torture.

            • avatar Mike says:

              ++
              George Wuerthner understands the political situation in Montana. Both of you do not understand Montana politics or the political history of the state.++

              Sure I do.

              ++Just because one does not trap does not mean that one is against trapping or that an anti trapping initiative would pass voter approval. Any anti trapping initiative will be protrayed as anti hunting and a nail in the coffin of the hunter.++

              I love this. It’s one of the many reasons hunter numbers are dropping like a stone. Trapping is the anchor.

              Hunting groups have failed to jettison their more unsavory portions of the “sport”(hound hunting, trapping, etc) and it’s having a widespread negative affect.

              I say keep at it! I love seeing the massive massive reduction in lead-spewing goofs every year.

              Kids have figured out you don’t need to kill animals to enjoy them.

  18. avatar Savebears says:

    At this time, you have no recourse.

  19. avatar Nancy says:

    “Okay…?

    Yes. Homo sapiens are members of the animal kingdom. So are you suggesting ALL members of the animal kingdom should have rights?”

    I think the topic has been batted around before on this site JB so my question is – why are there a ton of laws in place when it comes to humans and the animals we domesticate, regarding laws & cruelty (pets & livestock etc.) and what amounts to virtually no laws in place for the same kind of pain and suffering, inflicted on wildlife?

    Is it because we’ve been conditioned over centuries to feel “superior” over every other species? Conditioned to believe that wildlife’s only purpose in life is to satisfy our needs (as pets & livestock do)

    Or is it a much darker side (because of our rich history of superiority) some might think wildlife’s only purpose out there is to undermine, undo or worse yet ” get us all, if given the chance” if we don’t manage, control or destroy their family units first?

    Kind of the reasoning behind how our “rights” were finally put into place amoung our own species, if you think about it.

    • avatar Dan says:

      Nancy,

      I am the human predator. I eat meat and feed my children meat. The meat I give them is elk, deer and antelope. I prefer to feed them meat I kill. By feeding them meat I kill, I can assure the chain of handling. I am assured it wasn’t pumped with salt water solutions or preservatives or hormones or genetic engineering. I believe it’s the healthiest alternative for protein I can give them.
      The wolf, cougar, bear and I are in competition for the meat we feed our young. I kill them to protect my children’s food supply.
      It has nothing to do with rights or orders. It’s feeding our young and assuring another generation….

      • avatar jon says:

        The wolf relies on elk and deer for their survival. You most likely do not. Answer me this one question, would you starve to death if you don’t eat deer or elk?

        • avatar Dan says:

          Jon,

          Answer me this, Would wolves go extinct if they were not in Idaho?

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            In Idaho. But then, the same question could be raised for elk.

          • avatar jon says:

            The same could be said about elk. Would elk go extinct if they weren’t in Idaho? If you didn’t get an elk or deer, you would you starve to death? I think it’s a good question. Numbers wise, elk are doing much better than wolves.

            • avatar Dan says:

              Without controls on the cougars, bears and wolves the elk would be an unhuntable population in the St. Joe Valley.

              Jon,
              If I took away all the organic markets in your city would you starve to death?

            • avatar jon says:

              You did not answer my question, so I take it you don’t really hunt for survival. You hunt by choice. Would I starve if you took away all of the “organic markets” where I live?? No, I don’t shop at organic markets.

      • avatar jon says:

        It’s feeding our young and assuring another generation….

        The same thing could be said for the bears, cougars, and wolves.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        So in a round about way Dan, I should be able to go out and kill cattle because they are competing for the nutritional needs (grains) that should be on my table?

        Something like a 1/3 (think thats a modest estimate) of all ag land now is dedicated to raising food for livestock.

        And what about all those nasty cows that are in competition for the grasses that elk, deer and antelope could be consuming?

        Think about it, we sould get rid of the cows and then all of us could afford to be assured of the chain of handling and none of us would have to worry about meat pumped with salt water solutions or preservatives or hormones or genetic engineering.

        With all that extra grazing land for elk, deer and antelope, there would be plenty of opportunities for everyone to pursue untained meat :)

        • avatar Dan says:

          Nancy,
          You can operate in that direction but when they lock you up don’t be aghast.

          I am only telling you how I operate. I follow the letter of the law.

          Where we differ is I am willing to be out in the brush assuring the chain of handling for my babies. You must be content on leaving it up to Safeway.

          I am just trying to dispel your image of hunters. We hunt to provide and hunt because it is our way of life. I respect the wolf greatly. It has to be darn hard to make a living on a 1 inch tooth. However, just because I respect the wolf doesn’t mean I’m not in competition with him.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            Dan,

            “I am only telling you how I operate. I follow the letter of the law.”

            I believe you, and others who hunt and contribute to this blog. Reading some of the information that’s out there, as well as some of the crap, it is sadly not true in many cases.

            The wolf is competition. Those who choose the “sportsmen” moniker (not saying you), one would think would welcome competition. However, so many complaints from these folks would seem to indicate an uneven playing field is required, which includes SSS.

            I fully respect all those who hunt, coexist with predators, and are willing to put forth the effort to put good healthy meat on the table.

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Immer

              ++The wolf is competition. Those who choose the “sportsmen” moniker (not saying you), one would think would welcome competition.++

              Yes the wolf is competition. Would a “sportsman” welcome competition, no. On June 18 Montana drew for moose, goat and sheep tags there were approximately 350 moose tags, 350 goat tags and 200 sheep tags and 50,000 applicates there is too much competition with other “sportsman/women”.

              Utah is almost all draw and it can take 3 to 7 years to draw an elk tag. AZ is the all draw and hunters have gone years without drawing any tag. There only recourse is Colorado. Any big game animal that a predator kills is one less tag in the draw. There is not enough hunting opportunity in the western states for the nations hunters. It all is coming down to 7 billion people.

            • avatar jon says:

              Elk, but if a sportsman kills a big game animal, that is also one less tag in the draw. Hunters only seem to see non-human hunters as competition, but they don’t see other sportsmen as competition or do they elk? How’s your dad doing btw?

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Elk 275 and all,

              I thought the idea that all predatory kills of elk are strictly additive had long ago been dropped by those who have commented here for a while.

              Just a reminder that when someone says that “Any big game animal that a predator kills is one less tag in the draw,” you are saying that the only cause of death of a big game animal is either from a hunter or a predator. Put that way, I don’t anyone believes that is the case.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Elk,

              Not to sound anti-human, but it seems more of a too many people for the desirable antler and horned game problem, not a wolf problem. Just a bit more “competition.”

              • avatar Dan says:

                I think the perception is that it is all about the antlers. When IMO the majority of hunters just want to put elk in their freezers. The St. Joe Valley historically(prior to wolf colonization)had an over-the-counter rifle cow tag. The week of cow season always saw many many times more hunters than the bulls only season the week prior.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Dan,

              “I think the perception is that it is all about the antlers.”

              I know it’s difficult to really have an electronic conversation… My above comment to “you” was all about the meat, whereas the reply to Elk was in regard to those groups of “antlered” and horned ungulates, cows included. If one only wanted antlers, they could save an awful lot of money just going on eBay.

              • avatar Dan says:

                “If one only wanted antlers, they could save an awful lot of money just going on eBay.”

                +1

            • avatar elk275 says:

              Immer

              Anymore, I think that it is about the experience. The experience to hunt elk in the Rocky Mountains. To going hunting, camp out in the mountains and enjoy a week with family or friends. Only five percent of the elk killed are 6 point bulls and most of them are under 300 points. Most elk killed are cow elk. Every hunter wants to kill a large bull but most elk killed are rag heads or cows, that is the reality of what is available.

              I have read on 24 hour campfire and accurate reloading about hunters who go several years without any tag, be it mountain sheep of a doe deer tag. In the last several years I am seeing the reduce ability to secure tags in Montana. Antelope tags have been reduce by the thousands due weather and disease not predators. Mountain goats hunting in Western Montana along the continental divide has been closed or greatly reduce because of the current low goat population. The state biologists feels that mountain lions are taking most of the mountain goats. Do I want all wolves or mountain lions kill, no. They are a part of the system, but I want the state to manage wildlife.

              In the last 10 years I am seeing fewer elk every year, not only am I, but hundreds of hunters are see less elk. It is one thing not to see elk but another not to see tracks. I am seeing less elk and less tracks every year. You do not see elk, you do not see tracks, you move and again you do not see elk or tracks what is happening. Where are the elk of 10 years ago. I can remember in the late 90′s and early 2000′s up Price Creek Road in the Centennials Mountains with elk were coming across the Centennial Valley like caribou. In the same time period, one evening I was at the base of the Lima Peaks on the Montana Idaho border a few minutes before the end of shooting hours looking into Idaho and Montana there were over a thousand head of elk in 15 to 20 bunches and no wolf tracks. Today wolf tracks, fewer elk tracks and fewer elk. Is there a correlation?

            • avatar JB says:

              Elk:

              I have lived in three Midwest states that are at or near all-time highs for white-tailed deer–and all of them want to reduce deer populations. My comment: be careful what you wish for; abundant (or over-abundant) deer = the new norm. Reduce their populations at your peril, because hunters will talk about the “good ‘ol days” when I could get 4 deer in a year” and label your actions “mis-management” of deer herds.

              Populations fluctuate–you can’t have near historic highs forever.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Elk,

              If you have the time, at least listen to Middleton’s dissertation provided by Leslie.

              http://wyocast.uwyo.edu/WyoCast/Play/c063214dfcec4b3bba2bd6cdac991a8f1d

              He explains how, I believe, 40% of elk calf mortality was bear related in his study area. In addition to a drought which has embraced the stud area for the past 10 years. Wolves seem to have little effect on the ability of elk cows to put on weight.

              Not saying wolves don’t play a role, but JB has brought this up many time, that wolves are greatly outnumbered by bears and cougars. Yes, the wolf is the new kid on the block, but studies are beginning to show that elk decline is incorrectly deposited at the wolves door.

      • avatar Connie says:

        What a weak attempt to justify killing. Do you eat everything you kill?

  20. avatar Moses says:

    To claim animals have no rights is ludicrous. Though “rights” are a human concept, we take it to mean we are the only ones with them. Perhaps that is overstated. For those who believe in something greater than themselves please read Ecclesiastes chapter 3:18-22

    “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

    22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

    • avatar Ida says:

      Thank you. Funny how it is never mentioned in justification for the doings of mankind, as are certain other quotations. Here, said another way:

      “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”

      The concept of animals having innate rights is not new; it has been around since ancient deep thinkers considered it. It is obvious that they have the right to live because they are here. It’s too bad that they get in the way of our “progress”, we’ll have to learn to deal. :)

    • avatar JB says:

      “To claim animals have no rights is ludicrous.”

      “Rights” are a function of government, which exists for (and because of) people. Do animals have the right to be judged by a jury of the peers? No. Do animals have the right to remain silent? No. :)

      Animals don’t have rights. They don’t have representation in Congress. They don’t get to vote; they are not citizens. This is fact…however “ludicrous”.

      • avatar jon says:

        Animals don’t have rights unfortunately, but they should. They should atleast have the right to live. God put the animals on the planet for a reason.

  21. avatar Nancy says:

    “In the last 10 years I am seeing fewer elk every year, not only am I, but hundreds of hunters are see less elk. It is one thing not to see elk but another not to see tracks. I am seeing less elk and less tracks every year. You do not see elk, you do not see tracks, you move and again you do not see elk or tracks what is happening. Where are the elk of 10 years ago”

    My guess would be, elk are on their “toes” these days Elk :) compared to the last 50 years or so when the few predators out there, were little more than a nuisance.

    From everything I’ve read (especially on this site) elk numbers are “robust” in the state of Montana.

    So maybe its not a “game farm” atmosphere anymore where hunters were assured they’d fill a tag same day they hit the fields, because elk are no longer conditioned to react/respond when a member of the herd goes down, right next to or in front of them, from a bullet fired hundreds of yards away, compared to say a pack of wolves, who’s hunting techniques, the predator/prey relationship, they can actually relate to.

    Also, how much of the elk migratory path has been disrupted over the past decade or so by human development?

    How many ranchers now cater exclusively to outfitters? Much easier than dealing with the locals knocking on your door at all hours.

    Or the fact that elk ARE on their toes, hunters might actually have to look for them?

    Heard a cow elk calling a couple of mornings ago and when I glassed across the way, 25 cow elk were strung out and working their way across a neighbor’s pasture (Counted atleast the same amount of calves with them)

    I never see elk down this low in the summertime. Is it because of wolves or….. maybe its because the ranch they were heading to, no longer has a thousand head of cattle on it this time of year?

    Thinking there may be many other reasons why “it ain’t so easy to get an elk” anymore.

    • avatar elk275 says:

      If are on there toes then they are going to leave tracks in the snow. Few tracks few elk, no tracks no elk.

      Yes there are other reasons why ‘it ain’t so easy to get an elk” a 6 week archery season and increasing numbers of bow hunters. Sorry, Save Bears I was refering to modern archery hunters with mechanical bows.

      The elk numbers are up in Montana but those increased numbers come from the central and eastern part of the state.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        So why are you (and hundreds of other hunters) dismayed over little evidence of elk in your hunting areas when its quite possible they’ve made the move out of the “hood” for reasons other than wolves?

    • avatar jon says:

      Dan, if you are seeing less elk, does that automatically mean it’s because the wolves ate them?

    • avatar Ida says:

      “Or the fact that elk ARE on their toes, hunters might actually have to look for them?”

      Ha! That might actually take some work.

      But, if hunters are trying to feed their families by being reasonably sure of the chain of handling, then it behooves us as hunters and environmentalists alike to make sure our wild areas are kept wild, available to all, and enivonmental pollutants and exploitation kept out, such as poisoning predators as predator control, lead-shot free, and mining and oil drilling and fracking threats.

  22. avatar Dean Smith says:

    But people say there are FEWER elk. but FWP reports numbers that are greater than any previous year for them.

    one thing I noticed, in the areas I have hunted for 30 years is that most areas (which I hunt) are National Forest, wilderness, or BLM land that borders such areas. The difference in some of these areas can be measured by one main factor… grass.

    Places that have it, also seem to have higher populations of elk, deer, moose. places that dont have a drastically reduced population. I have had a few honey holes out in the woods since childhood, places few people know about and few ever go there. But the population of wildlife in the area varies over time. Some places where Dad and I would call Guaranteed to get something, were opened up to leases for cattle grazing, another has been subject to years of drought, but the reality of the matter is that larger herds wont compete for grass so they move to find greener pastures.
    Montana in certain parts has been severely over grazed, and other parts that used to be green are dried up. It is highly possible that if the numbers are fact and the elk numbers are as high as FWP claims, then maybe they have moved around from where people traditionally think they should be and it is the people that need to change their habits, not the wildlife.
    People like to place blame, it is our nature. But should other species be punished because of our nature, because we fail to truly comprehend what is happening around us and the factors that play into it?

  23. avatar richie G. says:

    I will say it again a few years ago you never ever said anything about trapping JB. When did you change your mind. DO not compare a fly with a wolf, when I was in Yelowstone a women who had a picture book of all the introduction, throughout the years, said when a female wolf died it’s mate went on a hill and died a few weeks later. Also I was reading they bury their dead pups,do not compare that to a fly. Also they are close family,unlike some human families, Mike is correct until you act like the sea sheperd their is no stop to the hunt

    • avatar JB says:

      Richie:

      I haven’t changed my mind. Personally, I don’t like trapping. However, I do not attempt to force my own ethical choices on other people. Since trapping is practiced by a very small portion of the population, the chances it will have population-level impacts (assuming proper oversight) is next to nil.

      I used mosquitoes (not flies) as an example of how people kill wild animals all the time without much thought. If you believe that individual *animals* should have rights (e.g., Mike’s “life is life” comment), then the principle should hold whether you’re talking about chimpanzees, wolves, squirrels, fish, or even mosquitoes. If you believe that some species should have rights, while others should not, then you’re stuck having to articulate a reason and finding the place where you draw the line between those with rights and those without. Good luck.

      —-

      PS. I don’t know where you get your information, but I have never heard of a wolf dying in response to the loss of a mate, nor have I ever heard of wolves burying pups. Though even if they do, you can bet that burial does not have the same significance for animals as it does for humans. (Don’t believe everything you hear from random people you encounter in YNP.)

      • avatar Rita K. Sharpe says:

        I will not swear but it was an alpha male and female out of the Druid Pack in Yellowstone. The female,if I remember correctly,was called”Cinderella”.She was killed by another pack and her mate was heard afterward howling.He was found dead by Doug Smith and others not long after her death.

  24. avatar Richie G. says:

    When I get home I will give you the name of the book I got the name from this website,Ralph pointed the book out I believe. It’s a description of wolves. It also states the brain of a wolf is six times the size of a dog. They have been known to open door knobs, and the female in a zoo used to close the door for her pups when they cleaned their cage with the water hose.Now as for rights of animals a princton professor had a paper on this ,this was an article in friends of animals. As for insects their was a movie a long long time ago on insects,stated they were really the first live creatures other than microscopic organisms,and they will be the last and survive in world destruction. As for humans ,and I said this before ,humane should be taken out of the dictionary. People do more harm to animals for their own profit or whatever helps them. Sea world knew the orcas would kill again but covered up the findings. We introduce wolves only to slaughter them again, and JB any and I mean any trapping induces pain and suffering,even if it is only one wolf, that is a fact. I can’t see how you coulod dismiss this fact. Watson is correct fight fire with fire, I could go on puppy mills, dog fighting where a dogs vocal chords are cut out so the fight will be quite. Humans my foot ,people always did disgusting things to animals.As for the wolf dying, a women who had a scrapbook since the wolf introduction began told me the story, and she was not in love with the wolves. We had a discussion on why call them numbers and she said why do you want to name them king. She was from Idaho,your state. Burying pups was also on the pbs special,one part was how they bury their pups who die.The special also pointed out how much of a family they really are !!!!!!! which I do believe you also believe or not ?

    • avatar JB says:

      Richie:

      I do not have the time nor inclination to address all of the factual inaccuracies in your post. You seem to get a lot from stories, so let me tell you one about wolves. It’s about a captive pack raised in a Minnesota sanctuary I used to frequent when I was a graduate student. The pack consisted of a mated pair and their offspring. One night after the sanctuary had closed, the offspring decided that they’d had enough of mom (since you want to anthropomorphize, these would be her “daughters”). They repeatedly attached her, detaching much of the flesh from her face, and left her for dead in the ~3 acre pen while they carried on business as usual. She would’ve died too, except that one of the workers found her in the morning, separated her from the pack and the staff nursed her back to health. Such “hostile takeovers” are a normal part of “family” life for wolves.

      Your efforts to paint wolves as saintly are just as problematic as those who demonize the wolf. Are wolves smart? You bet. Are the social? Yep. Do they look pretty? Absolutely. But in the end they are wild animals–no more, no less. You start expecting them to act like fairytale wolves, and you will be sorely disappointed–just as Jane Goodall was disappointed when she came face to face with the darker side of chimpanzees.

      • avatar Richie G. says:

        To Jb;
        I really do not want to got back and forth with you, I believe their are cases like you say, but packs do remain together for a long time some are driven off,so what they are wild, but in no way are they as inhumane I hate that word, as man is to his own kind and to the environment as well. Everything I said came from a certain book I found through this website and from my experience with my own animals throughout the years. I had dogs and cats my entire life ,everything I said is the truth,I call it as I see it. P.S. lOOK UP BEHAVIOR OF ELEPHANTS ,WOLVES ARE NOT MUCH DIFFERENT, AND YES THAT WOLF IN Yellowstone died of old age.

        • avatar JB says:

          Richie:

          Funny (and more than a bit ironic) that you would use the term “in-humane” to describe humans relative to animals, don’t you think? I’ve seen dogs exhibit distress when another dog (or person) is injured; then again, my own dog exhibits the same behavior when I get mad. Is this “compassion” for me, or simply the distressed behavioral response of a animal that makes a living reading social cues, and trying to survive among other animals with the capacity to kill? It simply does not follow that because wolves (and other animals) sometimes exhibit behavioral responses that are similar to people, that therefore the animal has a similar mental or emotional state. The same observed behavior may have different cognitive [mental] origins.

          Your cat, dog and the elephants you’ve read about are not wolves. They are not the same as wolves. And though your dog and modern wolves share a common ancestor, they are still quite different both morphologically and behaviorally.

          P.S. Truth is for philosophers and the clergy. Scientists deal in a different currency.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            JB,

            For the purpose of discussion, perhaps more philosophical than the language of “hard” science, but the study of animal behavior/ethology has come a long way in the past few decades. I think it will continue to progress in terms of the further understanding of “animal” cognitive and emotional realms. I also postulate, that what we learn may make some people rather uncomfortable.

            Humane, an oxymoronic term if there ever was one. Always thought about the irony of putting down the family pet, as it was the humane thing to do, and ome does not want the animal to suffer. This irony set its hooks in me as a youngster I would lie awake at night listening to my terminally ill grandmother begging to die. Hospitals and nursing homes are filled with people like her. We, for whatever dogma, refuse to do the humane thing with our own.

            Apology for using the bully pulpit, but I find the use of the word humane on par with the improper use of the word decimate.

          • avatar Richie G says:

            To JB;
            Sorry just was reading your comment; for every action their is a reaction;You spoke about the chimps yes they kill each OTHER for food; . But by just saying their wild doesn’t tell the entire story why that person got injured by those chimps. Maybe they fought for his attention and injured him so nobody could have him. Siegfried and Roy when Roy got injured by his tiger,they found the tiger had a rotten tooth.Most of the time their is an explanation you just can’t say their wild, yes they are that is why their behavior seems wild to us. About wolves I believe ihmo, let nature take it’s course,no matter how harsh. Look I can go on and on about people towards animals,look at horse racing,two years olds,their leg bones are not fully developed ,but people see speed,so what if they break a leg. In the off season trotters gives injections to every horse I know thIS for a fact I know a person who worked inside. EVEN Mike the sports guy said no off season racing should be allowed, becvause of drugs used on the horses. So you guys as I said before are lucky,wilderness,wolves,bears, be happy ,cherish this. Where I come from people like fishing beaches,I live at a place called shark river,must have said this in the past. It has a history of sharks killing in our river, but I LIKE WOLVES AND WILD ANIMAL BETTER AND MOUNTAINS THAT’S IT AND I CAN’T SEE KILLING TO TRIM THEM DOWN SIMPLE. tHANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION.

  25. avatar Richie G. says:

    To JB;
    One more thing JB I will not change any person’s mind on trapping but I do not have to visit the state while this is being done,I can visit Washington state for example ,I think I said this before. I love where you are but not at the price of animals being traped.

    • avatar Jerry Black says:

      Trapping rules in Washington State:
      IT IS UNLAWFUL TO TRAP FOR WILD ANIMALS:

      • avatar Jerry Black says:

        IT IS UNLAWFUL TO TRAP FOR WILD ANIMALS:
        ••
        With body-gripping traps EXCEPT by permit to abate an animal problem under WAC 232-12-142. This includes, but not limited to, padded foothold traps, unpadded foot-hold traps, all snares, and conibear type traps.
        ••
        Unless traps are checked and animals removed within 72 hours (non-body gripping kill traps).
        ••
        Unless animals captured in restraining traps (any nonkilling set) are removed within 24 hours of capture.
        ••
        With a neck or body snare attached to a spring pole or any spring pole type of device.
        ••
        Using game birds, game fish, or game animals for bait, except nonedible parts of game birds, game fish, or game animals may be used as bait.
        ••
        Within thirty feet of any exposed meat bait or nonedible game parts which are visible to flying raptors.
        IDENTIFICATION OF TRAPS AND DISCLOSURE OF IDENTITIES.—Trappers shall attach to the chain of their traps or devices a legible metal tag with either the WDFW identification number of the trapper or the name and address of the trapper in English letters not less than one-eighth inch in height. When a property owner, lessee, or tenant presents a trapper identification number to the WDFW and requests the identification of the trapper, the WDFW shall provide the requestor with the name and address of the trapper. After disclosing the trappers name, WDFW will also release the requesting individual’s name and address to the trapper. It is unlawful to take a wild animal from another person’s trap without permission, or to spring, pull up, damage, possess or destroy the trap; however, it is not unlawful for a person to remove a trap placed on property owned, leased, or rented by the person.
        It is recommended that all land-based trapping areas be identified by the red diamond sign developed by the Washington State Trappers Association. These signs are available from the Trappers Association. Posted signs must be removed immediately after the close of trapping seasons.
        SEALING REQUIREMENTS FOR BOBCAT AND RIVER OTTER.—It is unlawful to possess or export from the state of Washington bobcat or river otter pelts taken in Washington without a Department identification seal attached. Bobcat and river otter pelts, on or off the carcass, must be sealed within 20 days after the close of the appropriate hunting or trapping seasons in which they were harvested. All bobcat and river otter pelts must be presented by the person harvesting them to an authorized Department employee or Department office for sealing. Pelts must be presented in a way that the hide can be sealed. No frozen hides or carcasses will be accepted. To make sure office personnel are available for pelt sealing, hunters and trappers should contact a Department office prior to bringing in a bobcat or river otter.
        TRAPPER’S LICENSE AND PERMISSION TO TRAP ON PRIVATE LAND.—A state trapping license allows the holder to trap furbearing animals throughout the state; however, a trapper may not place traps on private property without permission of the owner, lessee or tenant where the land is improved and apparently used, or where the land is fenced or enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or to indicate a property boundary line, or where notice is given by posting in a conspicuous manner.

  26. avatar Savebears says:

    Richie,

    Washington state has not banned trapping, they have trapping seasons on fur-bearing animals.

  27. avatar Richie G. says:

    Hey JB I got astory for you.I had four dogs ,first lets start with the oldest ,he was alone. I brought in number two, number one beat up number two till they became friends, now I found number three,three and two became good friends played for hours,and one got pushed aside. Found nuber four like all the others, four looked to three,three took care of four and two. When TWO died in 2.20.2012 / THREE LOST SOME LIFE UNTIL TODAY,four goes out on the pourch I believe looking for two. One night Three looked up to the chair where two sat, see see two and four look alike ,well three looked surprised very surprised. So I believe animals do feel for each to a point where they grieve a great deal.IMHO

  28. avatar Richie G. says:

    To SB ; Thank you for the facts , I still believe it is a blue state, and wolves will have a better chance out their.I will bet most people in Washington do not trap. I will go out on a little clif and say I bet more people watchthe seahawks than people trap.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Richie,

      Most people in most states do not trap. Now as Washington is just starting to see a population of wolves and we have no data to see how things are going to go in the future, I can’t say if they will or will not allow trapping of wolves in the future.

      Yes, Washington has always been a blue state, but that is not to say they won’t change in the future.

      • avatar Richie G. says:

        To sb on traps;
        I will say if we can overcome the tatics of the other party to suppress the vote, and if Obama does get in ,then we have a shot,at the supreme court and that would help ten times over,get rid of citizens united ,then we can go from their.De Fazio is from Oregon,I believe he tried to introduce a bill that would cut the blm in half so to speak.We need more people like him in Washington.All to help nature find it’s own way IMHO

  29. avatar Richie G. says:

    To SB; All the more reason to visit the California drag races and enjoy the California beaches.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Richie,

      There is no amount of money in this world, you could pay me to visit California, been there done that to many times!

      • avatar Richie G. says:

        So have I many times almost got married to a southern Calif. lady. They have such a pretty laugh, as for the state , beaches, wide open spaces,deserts,woods, Pomona ,home to the first and last NHRA nationals. Also Carrol Shelby speed shop is their. It is the home of my muscle car!P.S. surfers too, not bad ! Largest underwater channel in the world,they have a place where they save seals, not trap them.Only thing I could say is bad aRE THE OIL RIGS , the lub oil is bad for the ocean.Marine life follows the coastline to Alaska to Mexico sounds good to me !

        • avatar Savebears says:

          Richie,

          You and I have a completely different definition of “Good”! That is why I live in the Rocky Mountains!

  30. avatar Richie G. says:

    To SB; I really do not think we are that different , we just approach things from different sides,really. I love wildlife, and cars, but I do not like mistreatment of things that can’t fight back. I am for the underdog sb. I do not take pride in my government handed out jobs to people who take a thrill in killing animals, I do not like sick cows being mistreated in slaughter houses. This is why I like whale wars and Captain Watson, I admire him, he fights back.

  31. avatar Richie G. says:

    To sb; One more thing the Rockies are beautiful, really so are the cascades, but so are people in California who tries and save seals, dolphins,sea lions etc.

  32. avatar Richie G. says:

    To all; keep the fight for the ones who can’t protect themselves, from the ones who know best. Have a good day .

  33. avatar Richie G says:

    I hope to see them this year sb;Thank you sb ;I love all mountains !

  34. avatar Richie G says:

    To Immer Treue;
    Nice ,very nice

  35. avatar Richie G says:

    To JB;
    Book The Wolf Almanac, Robert H. Busch

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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