In their December 29th editorial in the Billings Gazette, Scott Talbott of the Wyoming Game and Fish and Harv Forsgren of the U.S. Forest Service wrote that hunting was another step towards grizzly bear recovery.

To read their editorial, go to this link: Guest opinion: Hunting another step toward grizzly bear recovery.

Specifically, the authors claim that regulated hunting will recover grizzly bears. Boy is that a leap. We haven’t hunted grizzlies for several decades now, and the bears appear to be doing fine without being shot or trapped. There is no legitimate reason to indiscriminately kill any predator.

Those, like the authors, who advocate the hunting of grizzly bears continuously, proclaim that state management will not cause the extirpation of bears (or wolves, mountain lions, etc.) This is a straw man they construct so they can knock it down. Few opponents of predator hunting/trapping are worried that these animals will be completely eliminated from the West.

By trying to frame the issue this way, proponents of bear killing misrepresent the real concerns of those who question state wildlife management of predators. The concern of opponents of bear hunting, wolf hunting, mountain lion hunting has more to do with ethics and how we should be treating other living creatures—a concern to which the authors and others appear tone deaf.

They further claim that state agencies use the “best available science.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The best available science is disregarded by the authors as well as all state wildlife management agencies that manage predators because it would challenge the validity of many of their management prescriptions.

With regards to grizzly bears, conservation science suggests we need many more bears in many more places to sustain their populations over the long term. There is plenty of unoccupied bear habitats in the Northern Rockies. Many parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming that could support grizzlies where they are currently absent, including Wyoming’s Salt and Wyoming Ranges, the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, and the Centennial Mountains of Montana to name just a few.

The best available science also suggests that many predators including bears, wolves, mountain lion and coyotes have intricate social interactions that are disrupted or damaged by indiscriminate killing from hunters and trappers.

At best hunting and trapping are blunt tools to address what may be in some rare instances legitimate conflicts such as the surgical removal of a food-habituated bear–though I hasten to add that many conflicts are self-created by humans who exercise sloppy animal husbandry or camping practices.

Hunting, and most trapping, does not specifically target any particular offending animals—such as a bear that might be killing livestock. Rather the majority of bears (or wolves, mountain lions or coyotes) killed are not causing any conflicts at all. They are innocent by- standers who happen to be caught in the cross hairs of predator persecution.

For instance, dominant bears will occupy the best habitat and prevent other bears from occupying the territory. Yet in many cases, if a bear has lived long enough to become a dominant animal, it is not one that causes troubles for humans. Yet it is the biggest bears, in other words, the dominant bears that hunters seek to kill opening up habitat for occupation by another bear that may not be so friendly to human desires.

To suggest, as the authors do, that hunting will reduce human conflicts directly contradicts the best available science which they profess to use, but obviously ignore. This growing body of research suggests that hunting of predators actually increases human conflicts. For instance, there are many predators that live among livestock without ever killing cattle or sheep. Yet because they inhabit the territory, they keep other members of their species from occupying the area. If a hunter should kill this livestock-friendly bear, the habitat, if it’s any good, will be filled quickly by another bear that may or may not be so livestock friendly.

Indeed, one study of black bears in the eastern US found that as states increased the killing of bears to “reduce conflicts”, the number of bear-human conflicts increased.

Similar studies of mountain lion have documented exactly the same pattern. As mountain lions are killed, and even as the population is declining, the number of conflicts increases—the exact opposite of what state wildlife agencies predict will occur. Hunters tend to kill the dominant toms (male) mountain lion opening up space for immature young lions, who like human teenagers, are bolder, less cautious, and more inclined to attack livestock and even humans.

Thus the typical “management” approach advocated by state wildlife agencies exacerbates, rather than reduces human-wildlife conflicts.

To suggest that regulated hunting is a “solution” to perceived problems with humans is like arguing that the best way to address crime in our cities is to shoot all young men since the majority of crime is done by youths. Obviously you might eliminate some of the criminal element by such a policy, but you would be unavoidably be killing many innocent people.

Why aren’t Fish and Game agencies using that science in their management decisions? I will answer it. Because they are a regulatory agency that has been captured by the very group they are supposed to regulate—namely hunters and trappers.

Follow the money. State wildlife agencies run on the sale of licenses. Anything that contributes to greater license sales is looked upon favorably.

To be fair, it should be acknowledged that these agencies are not immune from political pressure from the hunting and trapping community. Many western state Fish and Game agencies are already under duress from ill-informed hunters and trappers and legislatures ignorant of ecology and animal behavior.

Some of the more extreme predator killers even go so far as to suggest that that these agencies are coddling predators and god forbid bowing to the wishes of animal rights advocates. Thinking that any animals have “rights” is heretical to these folks who believe wildlife exists for their sole pleasure and exploitation.

So these state agencies practice a vicious cycle; whereby predators are indiscriminately killed, which disrupts their social organization, which leads to greater human conflict, and thus more demands for predator control.

Worse, the authors as well as many state wildlife agencies eulogize the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. That model, among other things, specifically requires the highest ethical behavior from hunters. What is ethical about killing a bear for self -aggrandizement just because you are so insecure the only way you can so you can prove your manhood is by killing a bear? Most hunters are not going to eat the meat—isn’t that wanton waste? Is killing a bear just to have a “trophy” rug on the wall a legitimate and ethical use of wildlife, especially when that destruction of a wild creature denies the rest of the public of its wildlife heritage?

Others argue that we “need” to permit hunting and trapping of predators to reduce the anger of some members of the hunting and trapping community. Is killing any animal justified just to address the emotional problems of some members of the public? These people need counseling, not a license to kill.

I am a former Montana hunting guide. I studied wildlife biology and currently work as an ecologist. I believe that hunting can lead to some valuable insights about wildlife and individuals. Some of my hunting experiences have been almost transcendental experiences—ironically more often when I did not kill an animal. If one is going to take the life of another creature, one must be absolutely certain that killing is justified.

Unfortunately that high bar is not met by advocates of grizzly hunting and/or trapping. The unnecessary and indiscriminate persecution of predators is what fuels public opposition against all hunting, not to mention it does not help grizzly or any other animal’s recovery.

About The Author

George Wuerthner

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

153 Responses to Grizzly Recovery does not require hunting

  1. Ida Lupine says:

    Yay! Now there’s a headline to start off the New Year right!

  2. jon says:

    ” There is no legitimate reason to indiscriminately kill any predator.”

    Thank you George for having some common sense.

  3. Joseph C. Allen says:

    Excellent….it is not a surprise at the misdirected hubris from WG&F officials (who owe their paychecks to a political commission appointed by a governor-how many biologists are commissioners?)….perhaps they need to revisit the seminal writings of Aldo Leopold (all wildlife biologists should know of him-sarcasm intended) for a transfusion of ethics. As for hunters, if you eat what you legally kill, that is honorable…killing a predator for sport just because one can, that’s egregious and morally bereft.

    • Savebears says:

      Why is it, that everybody seems to think that those who hunt predators, don’t eat them? I know several bear, lion and wolf hunters that are consuming what they have taken, bear meat and lion meat is quite good, I have never knowingly eaten wolf, I suspect when stationed overseas I had dog on more than one occasion. I can’t confirm that, but you don’t turn down a meal when offered by a family in a small village.

      • Joseph C. Allen says:

        Savebears, I am not assuming that all hunters do not eat the predator that they may kill. I have found black bear to be tasty albeit a bit on the fatty side. What I am referring to is the killing of a predator for the sport of killing it-to me, that is an ethical issue not a food gathering one. Hunting for food is one thing, killing something to enlarge an ego (or other parts) is another. BTW, I too, have had suspected canine,feline and primate fare overseas.

      • Peter Kiermeir says:

        +I suspect when stationed overseas I had dog on more than one occasion. I can’t confirm that, but you don’t turn down a meal when offered by a family in a small village+

        That could well be that you´ve eaten some strange things with people around the world.
        You would certainly not ask questions when you are graciously offered a meal in a remote village somewhere in the middle of nowhere by some honest native people. And you are of course well prepared when you take a walk out to the street kitchens of Beijing! But that´s not the point. We are talking about America, the USA, the last remaining superpower the ethical benchmark for the rest of the world! Are you really trying to convince us that the USA gorges down those thousands of Mountain Lions, Coyotes and Black Bears that are hunted annually?

        • Savebears says:

          Here in the west Peter a lot of people I know that hunt Lions and Bears do eat them.

          • Jon Way says:

            Save Bears,
            I hear what you are saying, but I have a hard time justifying killing predators for food. They exist so far up the food chain (even smaller ones like coyotes) that it is incredibly “expensive” to kill a predator for food when there are relatively so few of them compared to prey species.

            • Savebears says:


              There is a very robust population of black bears in the US. I am not the one to tell another hunter what he should hunt, if his goal is to use the meat as food.

              • Jon Way says:

                I know that…. Like I said, my point (in addition to George’s comments) is that it is incredibly inefficient to kill a predator for food when there are relatively so few of them…

              • Savebears says:


                You as I are interjecting our opinions, which is really not a part of the argument.

                You saying it is expensive or inefficient really does not matter as long as the hunter is being ethical and legal in his hunt for food.

                We see a lot of arguments on here about trophy hunting, but I know a lot of hunters who enjoy the trophy and utilize the meat as well.

              • Larry Keeney says:

                Savebears: In response to you and I on different paths; I’ve taken up way too much print space on George’s exceptional essay on predator hunting but I want to end my comment hoping to clarify. I’m not eloquent as most that contribute here but let me tell you we could probably quite enjoy ourselves together on a good moose hunt. I support hunting as a management tool and just as importantly a family/individual learning opportunity about what we are made of inside and the importance of wildness to this planet. Traditional ungulate hunting without the influence of greed is quite fine. George Wuerthner’s essay hit me right on target and his eloquence brought me back to the keyboard. The entire premise of our use of this planet should be based on the question, does our activity harm or help the land. I can’t think of a harm to the land from predators even in a temporary high abundance population (exotics excepted). Predators cannot exist long if they exceed their carrying capacity. Simple biotic rule of survival. Ungulates on the other hand can and do damage land health. Predators come with mocassins, an earth friendly food preference and other factors that ungulates do not which puts them in a category to do harm without nature’s built in regulator – predators. You sound like the occasional hunter I have met that I would accept an invitation from to sit a while and jaw if I checked you at camp. You and I might enjoy that moose hunt, I could keep the firewood stack full, help trim the meat on the meat pole, stuff the fat trimmings in the bark of trees for the jays and woodpeckers, etc. Well I didn’t want you to go away with the wrong impression, just don’t ask me on a predator hunt. I shot my last bear in 1964 on the SF. Salmon R. and am glad for my change. You certainly sound like a respecter of wildness. I wish you well.

              • Savebears says:


                There are very few I have a wrong impression about and I also don’t hate people.

                I am sure just about anyone on this blog and I could share a campfire and have a great time.

                I hunt most years, but only when I need to replenish meat supplies, when my freezer is full, then I grab the camera.

              • Elk275 says:

                ++The entire premise of our use of this planet should be based on the question, does our activity harm or help the land. ++

                If that was are premise we would be wearing skins and living a subsidence life in a cave. Are activity in the cave would harm the natural ecology of the cave. The natural population increase, standards of living since the cave days have cause far more damage than the controlled harvest of predators. Just this morning in Bozeman I saw three new foundations being dug and three new homes started. Over 90% of the US populations wants there creature comforts over the well being of the natural world.

            • Jon Way says:

              Maybe inefficient would be a better word than expensive…

              • Ryan says:


                I don’t think you have a clue what you are talking about when it comes to black bears in the west.

                I kill one or two a year as incidentals and they make great burger sausage and roasts.. (spring bear steaks aren’t bad as well). They are much easier to kill than an mature bull elk or mature buck deer.

                • Larry Keeney says:

                  Ryan I would consider buying photos of your live bears if you took photos instead of sausage. What would you miss out on that could not be made up with by substituting a camera for the rifle. An SD card is cheaper than bullets, camera (high end) about the same price as a rifle. Do you really save money by killing your sausage instead of buying it? Maybe you don’t want to do the math. Plus your acquaintances are much more eager to look at a photo album than frozen rolls of sausage in the freezer. Just a thought. I’m not chastising you because I walked the walk you walk once. Grew up in a hunting family where it was all life was about from the end of one hunt you started planning the next. When I graduated from the university one of the first things I did was buy a NRA membership, (ouch did I really just admit to that?) I made my career in wildlife and I soon started to see what I could not avoid seeing. Hunting was all about greed, which in many cases results in wildlife crime by the way. I have many things in my life that turned me the other way and I began to see wildlife wasn’t a companion on earth for my whimsical pleasure to kill but for the opportunities it can give us for learning about the same attributes we have. I soon gave up my pleasure killing but I did use undercover hunts as a tool in law enforcement. Sometimes I had to kill but am glad to say I always found ways to avoid killing a carnivore. Ungulates are the same in the eyes of the law. Often I found the prosecutable route to not kill anything which made the case so much better in my eyes. Just a thought from a used to be hunter to one that still is. Hope you see it as support for your enjoyment in the woods and not as a hatred criticism.

              • Savebears says:


                It is fine you decided to choose a different path, there are many of us that choose to participate in a legal activity to feed our families healthier meat. I don’t know about Ryan, but I know for a fact, the meat in my freezer is a heck of a lot less expensive than I could buy in a store.

                Most of my animals have been taken with in a few miles of my home, so no long trips, or expensive gas and hotels for my hunting.

                I live very rural, my closest neighbor is over a mile away. I will continue to hunt as long as I can, and my acquaintances, thoroughly enjoy the meals we have together.

                I also participate in photography in the off season, taking thousands of pictures a year, so I have the best of both worlds, healthy meat in the freezer that cost me much less than store bought meat and several thousands of slides and digital images, some of which I have sold.

              • Ryan says:


                I have plenty of AK grizzly pictures if you want to buy them..

                I am glad you are content to apologize for your existence. I am not, I realize that no matter what I do I affect wildlife negatively in some way. I enjoy eating everything I kill (except coyotes, I just sell the pelts for extra money). I like knowing where my food comes from, how it was taken, and where it came from. Weather it be Bear, elk, deer, or wild fowl.

                If you eat meat, something had to die.. (infact most things people eat something had to die) I am fine being responsible for their deaths and where my protein comes from.

              • JB says:

                “If you eat meat, something had to die.. (infact most things people eat something had to die)…”

                Actually, everything we eat was once a living organism. Even if you are a vegan and consume only plant matter, whole ecosystems had to be plowed under (killing or displacing countless plants, insects, birds, fish and mammals) to make room for row crops. I haven’t hunted in years, but I very much appreciate the fact that hunting forces you to take responsibility for at least some of the animals that are killed so that you can continue to survive.

                Those who preach about the injustice of hunting conveniently have others do their killing for them. It irks me to no end when people look down their noses at hunters from behind the skirts of modern, industrial agriculture–oblivious to the fact that for each of us to live other animals must die. Period.

              • Ryan says:


                I think having a connection with your food is important. I feel sorry for people wearing leather shoes eating a hamburger who condemn hunting. As they have to clue what their conviences cost. I am blessed that I do. We filled our freezers with a couple cow elk this weekend. Every time I eat a steak I will remember bringing out that meat on my back a couple of miles and the hard work it took to procure it. The thought of no pesticides and hormones makes happy.

              • JB says:

                Thanks, Ryan. I appreciate your willingness to post here despite some of the attacks on hunters. And your explanation of while you hunt (hopefully!) is helpful for those who don’t understand hunting.

      • Webslicer says:

        You can’t find something else to eat? Just because you eat it doesn’t mean you should kill it. Saying you eat the bear is just a way of justifying your “sport” kill. It’s bullshit. I know it, and YOU know it. Stop trying to make it ethical by saying you eat the thing you killed. The point is YOU can survive without killing that animal. But you would rather have some fun, and you think the way to do that is to show your primal dominance over that animal, which really doesn’t exist and is all in your mind btw as is evident by your need for a gun. So we’ve established that you’re a blood thirsty idiot with no regard for wildlife. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

        • Ralph Maughan says:


          This is your first comment. You might have a point, but don’t call people “blood thirsty idiots.” It doesn’t add any data to your argument except you have an attitude.

          Please take my advice. Webmaster.

        • Savebears says:

          Well Web, if you eat, you are responsible for something dieing, I and others just happen to like the meat we take as we know it is not hormone laden and our wild meat is far healthier than what can be bought in the store.


          I am curious, why you would let a first post of that nature through the moderation round?

        • Ryan says:


          I don’t really care what you think, I am happy that you are content to have someone else do your dirty work.

          I do enjoy hunting, its a past time I share with my dad and friends. Same as raising our own chickens, harvesting our own fish, (by rod and reel now but we subsistence netted when we lived in AK) and growing a garden.

          My point is that if you eat meat, an animal lost its life to give you that protein. So to feel morally superior to me because you hire someone else to do your dirty work is a straw mans argument at best. The wild animals I have killed have lead much better existences than any farm raised animal you buy at the store.

          • Ida Lupine says:

            I wish hunters would stop getting so defensive – hunters like you aren’t the problem. Factoring farming is the closest thing to hell on earth I can imagine. Salle’s video says it all very well. It is the very small majority who are pushing through legislation to get rid of wildlife, and wildlands, for their own purposes, or the very small majority who are pathologically cruel and posting videos online who are doing the damage. Both hunters and non-hunters should both see this.

            • Savebears says:


              In a perfect world, that would be great, but even here on this blog it happens everyday.

          • Ryan says:


            I agree completely, if you darn bunny huggers would stop going on the attack :).

            As I said from day one, wolves are a non issue when compared to true issues like resource development, public land grabs, domestic sheep grazing, and public lands ranching.

  4. Excellent summary of misguided state policies. Only thing George left out is the even more misguided policies of Wildlife Services.

  5. Louise Kane says:

    George thank you again for an excellent post.
    You wrote
    “The unnecessary and indiscriminate persecution of predators is what fuels public opposition against all hunting, not to mention it does not help grizzly or any other animal’s recovery.” This particular statement correctly summarizes what I (and so many others ) are so angry about. Predators like wolves and coyotes, especially are persecuted. Like other predators they do not need to be hunted. Wolves and coyotes exhibit a higher level of sociality than domesticated dogs. Yet if a dog steps in a trap, is killed by a body gripping device or injured, there is great public outrage. But coyotes die by the thousands in traps, or in predator killing contests, and in ways unimaginable to pet owners. Wolves too. The state and federal agencies have become expert liars that work to dupe the public into believing that trapping, snaring, predator derbies and excessive hunting…. is management. The actions against wolves in the last two years are persecution and thank you for articulating the difference so well. “They are innocent by- standers who happen to be caught in the cross hairs of predator persecution.”

    Thank you very much.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Louise Kane,

      The reason why so many people are outraged if a dog steps in a trap, but not so likely a bear is because they know dogs and have empathy for them.

      Many fewer have empathy for wild animals, although I think the default position for the person who has no experience with an animal is usually empathy, although of a tentative kind. This one reason why those with a desire not to protect an animal or who want to use its territory in a very negative way try to stir up fear and emphasize damages done real (and better if believed), imaginary damage.

      • Louise Kane says:

        Ralph its hard for me to comprehend the callous treatment of wolves and other canids precisely because so many people do own dogs, express empathy for them and see them as companions. Many dogs look like the wolves or coyotes? Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Norwegian Elkhounds, Malemutes, Akitas, etc…. I can not understand the people who are outraged about traps on trails, and call for them to be removed where they could hurt people or pets but don’t say a peep about wildlife. The hounders that want to send out dogs after wolves??? Wolves are super dogs, faster, smarter, wilder, and superbly beautiful. How can one own, or have cherished a dog and not be just as outraged and angry about other canids (wolves or coyotes) being trapped or snared? Its a question that haunts me. are we that selfish and self absorbed that empathy only extends to our domesticated pets because they “belong” to us? If the default position is a tentative empathy, we should be farther along then we are now in enacting humane laws for wildlife., shouldn’t we.

        • Savebears says:


          The average human, does not equate dogs and wolves or coyotes as being the same species or even close relatives.

          • april lane says:

            It is a scientific fact that is also taught in schools of the world that ALL canines are descendants of the wolf. Not just opinion-FACT.

        • Gail says:

          Louise, I believe that many people *do* care very much about wildlife even when calling for traps to be removed for the protection and safety of our pets and children. Along with photos and text it’s a verifiable opportunity to present a different perspective of the dangers and inherent cruelty in traps i.e., wider audience appeal. Local newspapers might prohibit photos of trapped animals but would publish an injured “pet” story as special interest. It’s yet another very legitimate “tool” that can be used to expose this trapping/predator killing insanity for what it truly is and at every opportunity.

          • Louise Kane says:

            Gail I understand that aspect, I’m just amazed that the maiming and killing of wildlife is not enough to elicit the same response. Its not the dark ages after all ….or is it

  6. Leslie says:

    Thanks George! Couldn’t have said it better…

  7. Darren says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. The whole proposition of hunting grizzlies is all about politics, not science. The way the wolf has been hunted over the past year and a half is a cautionary tale of what could happen to grizzlies. Anyone who doesn’t believe the number of grizzlies killed is going to triple when states take over management of them is kidding themselves.

  8. JohnR says:

    Thank you George for a very well written article. Very well spoken. Trophy predator hunting to satisfy ego or as entertainment is something I do not agree with. Just got back from the Lamar Valley. Saw three members of the Lamar Canyon Pack. The Alpha female, 832F was shot about 2 1/2 weeks ago just outside YNP. Another member of the pack was shot as well. Now no-one, including the researchers following the packs, knows where the other 9 members of the pack (including 4 pups) are or if they are still alive. People from around the US and the world come to YNP to see the highly visible wolf packs – including people from the UK, Czeck Republic, Georgia, Alberta, Minnesota, California – that I met this past week. Seems pretty poor that somebody shot 832F – a great food provider and mother to those pups, and her pelt may now be hanging on a wall, and the pups are now starving in mid-winter.

    • Joseph C. Allen says:

      The Lamar Canyon Pack has returned to the Park and there is renewed posturing for leadership among the descendants of our beloved ’06.

      • april lane says:

        Good to know that another will step up and lead, but doesn’t take away from the simple fact that this is/was a huge waste of not only a life, but an investment and renewable source of revenue.

  9. Michelle says:

    Perfect! Thank you for the great article.

  10. George,
    Could you please share your references that you used in this article?

  11. rork says:

    “Specifically, the authors claim that regulated hunting will recover grizzly bears.”
    I agree with most of the post here, but that’s a stretch, mostly cause the linked-to article is very carefully worded – they seem to be imagining a utopia where only unwanted bears are killed, perhaps for a price so high that you could do some real good with the money. I might be able to live with something like that, but it’s dreaming – what we actually get is almost invariably worse.

    I also think stuff like “just because you are so insecure” is stooping very low, and hurt the writing. Stick to science, not people’s assumed internal mental states, which we can always just make up to suit our wishes.

  12. Richie G. says:

    To sb; I differ with you and agree with Louise,have you ever seen the pbs special Christmas in Yellowstone,those visitors in the Yellowstone’s Cabin singing Christmas songs,the next morning ” Christmas Morning”,went wolf watching,and the narrator called the wolves the rock stars of Yellowstone. More visitors want to see wolves more than anything else in the park,and that is the truth. When I was in Lamar Valley I was meeting people from the east,the mid-west,transplants from the east to the west,and they all loved wolves the best,bears second.It’s a shame and I will address this to all! It’s a shame people who have such an animal in their own back yard can’t appreciate it’s beauty and it’s skill at survival. Only to kill for it’s food or a trophy,that is the shame,you did a great job on this article George,I mean this from the bottom of my heart. I would love to live in such a place and put up with the cold,only see to a real wolf outside my window.

    • Savebears says:


      I see real wolves outside my window all the time.

      Guess what I have yet to kill any of them, you guys are really screwed up in your thinking about what I feel on these subjects and I don’t live in a fantasy world, I live in the real world.

      I don’t know how many times I have to repeat myself.

      Just because I comment on a subject, does not mean I have taken a side on the subject.

      Do I need to repeat that again?????

  13. Richie G. says:

    Is the pbs special Christmas in Yellowstone make believe? The vistors Christmas Morning were wolf watching,it seemed that was the first thing they wanted to do. So I do think many people see wolves and coyotes just like their dogs at home. As I said I spoke to many people in Lamar valley from the east ,mid-west,transplants and they were all excited to see wolves in the valley.I believe the pbs special did call the wolves the rock stars of Yellowstone. I will say again great article George, and it is a shame some people can’t see the beauty in their own backyard.

  14. Richie G. says:

    thanks george great article,the pbs special Christmas in Yellowstone tels the entire story

    • Savebears says:


      The PBS story you are referring to is not telling it all, it was a show shaped by the wishes of the producers in charge, it was put together in a certain manner to illicit a certain feeling. Just like news stories and host of other media undertakings.

  15. Joanne says:

    “The fish and game commissions, as presently constituted, must go. They must be removed, together with their entourage of public relations officials and biologists. They must be replaced by ecologists, but above all, by humanitarians.”
    –Cyril Toker

  16. Richie G. says:

    The average human does not equate dogs or wolves or coyotes as being being the same species or even close relatives. Really,did you see the pbs special” Christmas in Yellowstone” I guess all these guests at the cabin singing Christmas songs,and on Christmas Day wolf watching,was just something to do. The narrator did call the wolves the rock stars of the park. When I was in Lamar valley,people from the east,mid-west, and transplants from east to live in the west,wanted to see wolves more than any other animal. It’s a shame some people who have such beauty in their own back yard can’t appreciate the behavior and hardship a wolf or any wild animal has to endure to survive.

    • Savebears says:


      I know for sure you are living in a fantasy world.

      I appreciate where I live and how I live, I don’t know what I said that leads you to believe any different. I got into wildlife biology because I do appreciate and love the wild.

  17. Richie G. says:

    P.S. Thanks George for such a beautiful article, from the bottom of my heart, again a great and caring article.

  18. Dan says:

    Just what I’ve come to expect from George…half truths and reference to studies without citing them….

    • jon says:

      What half truths are you speaking of? I know it’s popular for hunters to bash george because they don’t like what he has to say. Some people just don’t like hearing the cold hard facts.

      • JEFF E says:

        cold hard facts like when u tell everybody where you live Jon?

        • Louise Kane says:

          I’m trying to figure out what difference does it make where Jon lives, sometimes the pettiness here is pretty bad.

          • Savebears says:


            This is one thing we will agree on, I keep getting accused of being someone that I am not, the message is the important issue.

            But the pettiness has been here since day one, so those who don’t like it, might want to find another place to hang out, or for once, start your own blog!

          • JEFF E says:

            answering the queen of petty;you don’t have to know, as I was not addressing you.

            Jon however, knows exactly what I mean,or should I spell it out Jon; you do seem challenged

      • Savebears says:


        Are you looking int the Mirror when you make the statement “Some People Just don’t like hearing the cold hard facts” ?

        Because you are a perfect example of that statement.

  19. Kirk Robinson says:

    There is virtually a total lack of real ethics underlying state fish and game (and USFWS) wildlife management, which is most evident in the case of large carnivores such as wolves and grizzlies.

    By this I do not mean that the management is unethical, though it tends to be, but that the management is not grounded in ethical principles. Indeed, they treat all ostensible ethical principles as mere matters of opinion. Instead, wildlife management is all about attempting to engineer particular outcomes, where the desired outcomes have more to do with money, political pressures, and the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and other laws than with anything resembling ethical considerations.

    Incidentally, this is also what is wrong with the tripe being passed off as “the new conservationism” by Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist for TNC, and Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger of The Breakthrough Institute. These guys should be ignored, except to refute them, and instead we should take our cues from the thought of people like Aldo Leopold in The Land Ethic.

    • JB says:


      It’s important to point out here that a lack of concern for ethics does not differentiate wildlife management from any other form of resource management. Foresters don’t concern themselves with the question of whether a tree has intrinsic value, public lands’ managers don’t forgo manipulating habitat for fear of the individual organisms that are impacted. Resources (wildlife-included) are managed to benefit people.

      • Louise Kane says:

        JB I think the difference being between managing habitats or forests, is that wildlife are living sentient beings.

      • Kirk Robinson says:

        JB, what you say is true. I would simply add that the status quo is not necessarily good. Maybe resource managers ought to be more concerned about the ethics of resource management. I think they should; and I think that all resource managers should be required to study ethics as part of their education. And I don’t simply mean ethics cooked up by teachers of resource management. This would have the potential of bringing philosophy (ethics is properly a branch of philosophy) to bear on a real-world concern – something that would benefit both philosophy and resource management, in my opinion.

        You say that resources are managed to benefit people. This again is roughly true, but we should not forget that this almost always means “some people” – namely favored groups that are favored, once again, for political and monetary reasons.

        Finally, by now I should think that we all know that wild animals, such as bears and wolves, are a whole lot more like human beings than they are like trees. This is true from a genetic point of view, a morphological point of view, and a behavioral point of view.

        Perhaps you do not disagree.

        Gotta go now, but will revisit this thread tomorrow.

        • Louise Kane says:

          as you pointed out the status quo is not necessarily good – I, too, believe that resource managers should be more concerned about ethical considerations.
          Jim Robertson wrote a blog entry today entitled the “infertile union” In it, he posted a quote by Edward Abbey. The sentiments have been echoed here many times. “To speak of harvesting other living creatures, whether deer or elk or birds or cottontail rabbits, as if they were no more than a crop, exposes the meanest, cruelest, most narrow and homocentric of possible human attitudes towards the life that surrounds us.” In this year 2013, the status quo in wildlife management is disruptive to ecosystems, is horribly inhumane, lacks ethics, and is hard to defend as being conducted to benefit (all) people, at least not in the long run. I like to think we will see a day when the status quo means something entirely different, entirely far removed from the killing culture that dominates now. Thanks for your post.

          • JB says:

            “To speak of harvesting other living creatures, whether deer or elk or birds or cottontail rabbits, as if they were no more than a crop, exposes the meanest, cruelest, most narrow and homocentric of possible human attitudes towards the life that surrounds us.”


            I was dismayed when I saw your post. I love Edward Abbey, but this quote…it’s…well, silly. People do what they need to do to survive. Period. That fact does not differentiate us from other animals. When we prepare land for harvest of corn we do far more damage to individual organisms–many of them intelligent, sentient creatures–then when we hunt them with bow and gun. It’s hard to take the hypocrisy of people who decry the treatment of animals harvested by bow or gun, when the same individuals happily enjoy the fruits of the systematic exploitation of our environment that we call modern agriculture. And I don’t just mean direct killing of livestock for our benefit; every ecosystem that is modified for agriculture–for our fat asses–impacts wildlife both directly and indirectly.

            • Louise Kane says:

              JB – I love Edward Abbey’s work too, a true lover of wilderness and wildlife. Why is that quote silly? because it expressed his disdain for treating animals like crops? I think the argument about the hypocrisy of people who “enjoy the fruits of the systematic exploitation of the environment” for agriculture is not valid here. Two separate debates. Abbey’s statement echos the ongoing debate here about the purposeful and deliberate callous disregard that humans have for animals. You were dismayed by my post, I am dismayed by yours. It ignores the sentiments that underly that quote which had relevance back in the 70s and does today still. Of course ecosystems are modified by humans, unfortunately great damage is done. Humans, especially 7 billion of us, do irreparable damage to the earth. The difference is that some damage is inflicted intentionally and without regard, some is unintended. We have choices. Most people don’t intentionally go out to defile or kill organisms when they prepare the earth to plant. or maybe they do. But our laws, cultures, and traditions still ignore animal cruelty. Our wildlife managers intentionally create euphemistic terms like harvest to apply to killing. That’s what Abbey was speaking to.
              Abbey was the first ecoterrorist I ever knew and a hero to some. When Greenpeace or Peta or others defend animals rights with the same kind of commitment they are labeled as lunatics or ecoterrorists. But these are the people that are challenging the status quo. if you loved Edward Abbey so did he, and he was an early ecoterrorist. Something to ponder when thinking about how much you might have loved the monkey wrench gang.

              • Elk275 says:

                ++Most people don’t intentionally go out to defile or kill organisms when they prepare the earth to plant. or maybe they do.++

                Louise what do you think herbicides and insecticides are about. Even used Round Up on your lawn, do not expect grass to grow there for several years. How about fertilizers? Or maybe they do, yes they do.

              • TC says:

                “So get out there and HUNT and FISH and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.” (Caps mine). – Edward Abbey

                Also an infamous womanizer (adulterer), alcoholic, and curmudgeonly grump that was strongly opposed to Mexican immigration as the “poor bastards” ruined his private wild places. Had a few more than casual relationships with Earth First ecoterrorists that have done more damage than good over the years.

                An enjoyable and stimulating author, but please not one to spin for your emotional arguments about predator hunting. He was his own man, not a saint for animal rights advocates.

              • Elk275 says:

                I was looking at some Edward Abby quotes and he might have belonged to the NRA

                ++“The rifle and handgun are ‘equalizers’ — the weapons of a democracy. Tanks and bombers represent dictatorship.”
                ― Edward Abbey++

              • Louise Kane says:

                TC yes EA a conflicted alcoholic, but I am not. very sure in my opinion that cruelty to animals, and especially predators, is out of control, and indefensible.

              • JB says:


                Every single calorie we consume is one that could have gone to fuel another organism. Every rice paddy, coffee plantation, corn field, etc. could have been an ecosystem supporting a wide variety of insects, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals. Instead, they are put solely to the purpose of feeding our fat, sorry asses. Whether you squeeze a trigger, release an arrow, or buy organic vegetables from your local farmer, you are responsible for the death of a wide variety of organisms. Hunters, at least, are forced to deal with this reality, instead of hiding behind the skirts of industrial agriculture.

              • JB says:


                Every single calorie we consume is one that could have gone to fuel another organism. Every rice paddy, coffee plantation, corn field, etc. could have been an ecosystem supporting a wide variety of insects, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals. Instead, they are put solely to the purpose of feeding our fat, sorry arses. Whether you squeeze a trigger, release an arrow, or buy organic vegetables from your local farmer, you are responsible for the death of a wide variety of organisms. Hunters, at least, are forced to deal with this reality, instead of hiding behind the skirts of industrial agriculture.

              • JB says:

                Apologies for the double post

        • JB says:


          I meant only that it is unfair to critique wildlife management for their lack of ethical considerations, when it is the status quo for all NR management. I would be happy if all resource managers were to take ethics courses, though I doubt this would change the ‘tenor’ of management.

          My cat is also a lot more like a human than a tree, but many consider it the deepest offense to let that animal run wild on the landscape. They would argue that whether an animal is native or non-native is far more important than their sentience in determining how they should be managed.

          Which principle is better? Can ethics answer that question?

          • Kirk Robinson says:

            JB, I’m happy to critique all resource management and describe it as lacking a basis in ethical considerations if it is so lacking, but I don’t agree that it is unfair to single out wildlife management in particular. Why is it unfair? Isn’t that rather like saying that it is unfair to write a citation for one drunk driver unless you do so for all drunk drivers? Perhaps the cops ought to strive to write citations for all drunk drivers, but that is another matter.

            With you, I also doubt that taking ethics courses would change the “tenor” of wildlife management, especially without a concomitant widespread change among the general public, but it wouldn’t hurt and it would at least be a start. My point, really, is that ethics isn’t even discussed or considered – or rarely is – yet ethical considerations are clearly relevant to wildlife management, so we all ought to earnestly try to get clearer about what is ethically required of us.

            By the way, in response to someeone else’s post, I want to point out that ethics is not a matter of common opinion or even of sentiment. It has to do with what is right or wrong and consequently is not reducible simply to what people think or feel is right or wrong, which can be and often is quite off the mark. And I’m perfectly willing to countenance difficult cases where there is no clear answer. Ethics is not easy.

            As for your cat, love him or her and keep him or her inside most of the time. Don’t let the coyotes get him or her! But I quite agree that sentience is not the only ethical consideration that is relevant to wildlife management decisions. The key point, if I may try to summarize so complex and contentious a topic, is to show reverence for other living things, for ecosystems, and for nature in general. Hunting also can be done with reverence. But let’s not become absurd about this: I do not hesitate to swat a mosquito on my arm any more than the next person! On the other hand, a bear in my melon patch (well, I don’t actually have a melon patch)? I think the examples are only superficially similar. They cannot be usefully compared.

            As for whether it is ethical to have a general grizzly bear hunt in the northern Rockies, I would argue that it is not – not even if it were to make a certain small part of the human population more accepting of grizzly bears. Incidentally, I’m not sure I even know what this means. What is it for a wannabe grizzly bear hunter to be more accepting of grizzly bears if it is not to forgo hunting them? Anyway, I seriously doubt if allowing some hunting of grizzly bears makes the general population of humans more accepting of them; and I’m quite sure it does nothing to foster grizzly bear recovery!

            • JB says:


              I’m not sure I can accept your analogy (drunk driving) as a useful comparison. It is impossible (or at least infeasible) to identify and catch all drunk drivers, while it is comparatively easy to identify all natural resource management agencies/decision-making bodies. Singling out someone (or in this case some institution) for critique/punishment when all are readily identifiable does strike me as unfair. A better analogy would be a teacher catching two kids fighting (all offenders are readily identifiable). You wouldn’t randomly decide which child to punish (that would be unfair); rather, you would punish them both.

              My point about the value of ethics is merely that which ethical principles one chooses to accept/enforce will have a tremendous influence on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of a decision. So how do we determine which ethical principles apply? I suspect adding ethical considerations to the NR decision making process might change the subject of debates; however, I doubt it would make the decisions any less contentious. Indeed, it could make them more contentious. Instead of arguing about what % of the population may be sustainably harvested (a question science can answer within the bounds of error), we would spend time debating which ethical principles should apply in any given scenario. I don’t think I’m being too much of a pragmatist when I suggest that, however fulfilling for those involved, the latter may not be an effective use of government resources.

              I agree with you that the argument that bears or wolves need to be hunted to create “tolerance” for them seems, on the surface, to be ludicrous. However the calculus is actually surprisingly straightforward. Let me see if I can concisely summarize.

              Premise: Unharvested populations will grow.
              Premise: Growth of populations will increase animalxhuman conflicts.
              Premise: Human tolerance will decrease with animalxhuman conflicts.
              Premise: When human tolerance reaches a low threshold, the public will demand unsustainable management policies.
              Premise: Harvest will prevent human tolerance from reaching a low threshold by keeping conflicts low.
              Conclusion: Therefore species X should be hunted.

              I believe all of the premises are articulated? Now you and I can disagree on one or more of these premises, and we may (should!) use science to test them. But I think the calculus here is relatively straightforward?

              • Kirk Robinson says:

                JB,granted the drunk driving analogy is not the best. It’s just what popped into my mind when I was in a hurry. I’m in a hurry now too, but want to respond to your thoughtful response to my previous post, even though I don’t expect to settle anything.

                I think there is something to your point, in that if wildlife management (or any agent or agency) deserves to be criticized for some sort of lapse, other resource management agencies (or similar agencies or agents) that evidence the same lapse also deserve to be criticized. But it doesn’t follow that one must, for example, in fairness, always criticize the FS and the BLM when one is at the moment concerned about a state wildlife management agency (in Utah, the Division of Wildlife Resources) or USDA Wildlife Services.

                Regarding ethics and wildlife management (or any other kind of resource management), I certainly agree that requiring the wildlife board or commission to discuss ethics every time they have to decide how many bear or deer permits to allow for the coming season would be worse than worthless. For one thing, they wouldn’t even know how to begin. And you’re surely right that it would be a big waste of time and money. However, that is not what I have in mind. My point is the general one that people (including wildlife managers) rarely stop to consider whether, say, trophy hunting is ethically right or wrong in the first place. And it seems to me that they should. After all, trophy hunting is all about killing highly evolved, intelligent, sentient beings out of vanity. Therefore, I think the burden of proof rests with advocates of trophy hunting to present a credible argument that trophy hunting is not ethically wrong – something better than that it is an American tradition. But the question rarely gets discussed. And I suspect the reason is that the system already caters to trophy hunters, so they don’t have to defend their position. I can’t change that, but I can still challenge them to present a cogent defense of their position.

                As to your argument for the conclusion that species X should be hunted: I do not accept any of the premises as stated. Suitably qualified, they might be made acceptable, but then they would support a much more limited conclusion that is indexed to a specific population in a specific place and for a limited time. Incidentally, it is interesting to me that your second premise actually contradicts one of George Wuerthner’s main claims in the article. There is in fact evidence that hunting cougars and other predators does, at least in some cases, lead to even more animal-human conflicts.

                Well, that will have to do for now. I’ve got to get to work on a quite different argument regarding a legal issue.


    • rork says:

      I take my cues from P.S. Lovejoy, famous (at least around me – his collected papers are just down the street) for his views on land use, who it is often noted for scrupulously avoiding emotional or esthetic arguments. You can try to win people’s hearts over with such stuff (I am hopelessly in love with the green world, and can’t understand how anybody could feel otherwise except by defects in their upbringing), but the winnings or loosings can’t be easily quantified, so any tradeoff between ethics and tangible costs/benefits can’t be easily weighed. So I try to just avoid those arguments, even if they figure in to my personal biases.
      For example if I’m wanting a dam removed, saying it is hideous undercuts any rational arguments (about water quality, species and genetic diversity, ecosystem services) I might also make. To me it’s a ghastly abomination but it’s a mistake to say so in public. Others find the impoundment lovely, and useful for their pet purposes (daughter’s rowing scholarship chances).
      In another example, we get people protesting (and even vandalizing us) cause we’re giving scores of mice genetically engineered cancers (which we then try to cure), which is pretty nasty. The mouse lovers have some ethics on their side. Who will stand and say how many mice we can spend per human quality-adjusted year of life won by the research? Mice (or fish or dogs) are not just broccoli with eyeballs. And humans are not worth the very sky itself (at least for me and most of my colleagues, who are also howling atheists – how many individual humans is worth one grizzly, 10? 1000?). But exactly what these things are worth we will not get agreement on.

  20. Louise Kane says:

    For anyone interested in reading about Gosnold’s “discovery” of Cape Cod and the abundance of resources this is the account. Its fascinating. I found it while looking at how fisheries have declined as a result of intolerable fishing effort, modern harvesting methods and technology and bad regulations. I see unfortunate parallels for wildlife. Wildlife struggling against habitat fragmentation, natural diseases, and too many people trying to kill them with too many super efficient weapons. Not to mention bad laws and management and then they are subjected to superbly inhumane methods of take.

  21. Sam Parks says:

    I have long been disturbed by Game and Fish’s attitudes on grizzly bears. There policy is essentially to draw a line in the map, saying “no bears past here.” The line would exclude grizzlies from suitable habitat in the Wyoming/Salt River and southern Wind River Range, as well as the rest of the state. Interestingly, this goes directly against the wishes of the vast majority of Wyoming Residents, who support grizzly bear expansion into the Wyoming, Wind River, and even the Bighorn Range (73%, 67%, and 66% respectively: see the G&F Document “Public Attitudes Toward Grizzly Bear Management”). The Wind River and Wyoming ranges have some of the best whitebark pine left in the ecosystem.

    It is silly to me to even have a conversation about hunting, at this point. Given that we have had 40-50 dead bear years recently even in the absence of hunting.

    • Louise Kane says:

      Sam your post brings to mind other surveys taken to determine public support of wolves. The deliberate attempts to ignore public opinion that supports more humane management or protection of carnivores (in particular) to favor sports hunting interests is reprehensible.

      • ma'iingan says:

        “Sam your post brings to mind other surveys taken to determine public support of wolves.”

        The most pertinent surveys regarding wolf tolerance are those that are specifically targeted at citizens who live among wolves – this one for instance, that shows high approval for a regulated wolf harvest among Wisconsin residents who reside in wolf range.

        • Jon Way says:

          Yet a major Native American stakeholder, In Wolf Range, was much more positive of wolves and less supportive of a harvest. You forgot to include that, MA…

          • ma'iingan says:

            The Ojibwe tribal member results are included in the survey – yes, they have a far more positive opinion of wolves than do non-tribal members. However, none of the Ojibwe reservation lands are home to wolves – so while they have a strong cultural connection with wolves their daily lives are not impacted to the extent that non-tribal residents are.

          • bret says:

            In Washington state the only people hunting wolves are the Tribes, so opinions are not universal among Tribes.

            • april lane says:

              You neglected to mention, Bret, that while a very few permits are available to hunt wolves in WA among the tribes that to date no tribal member has killed a wolf. Hmmmm???

        • JB says:

          Personally, I see no reason to weight the opinions of people who live in wolves’ range higher than those who do not. Wildlife are a resource that belong equally to all members of the state, regardless of where they reside. That said, every study that I am familiar with shows public support for regulated public hunting of wolves. Trapping on the other hand…

          • Elk275 says:

            ++Wildlife are a resource that belong equally to all members of the state, regardless of where they reside. ++

            JB, I agree with you 100%. The word is STATE, not non-residents or foreign nationals.

            • JEFF E says:

              to an extent, ditto

            • JB says:


              Clearly, you’re referencing our ongoing conversations regarding federal public land. Just as wildlife belongs to each and every person of the state in which it resides, so federal public land belongs to each and every citizen of these United States. Thus, all citizens should have a say on how those lands are managed. Importantly, that means having a say in what types of recreation take place on these lands.

          • Savebears says:

            Pretty amazing conversation going on here.

          • Dan says:

            We (the collective population) always give weight to those in closest proximity. I can give example after example. Your assumption is that all share holders should have equal or a percentage say accordingly. When has that ever been the case? If that were the case minorities would never stand a chance. Our system thrives when we fully utilize representative systems who can make informed decisions based on the circumstances. The question is what is representative? Are you really saying that an Idahoan represent the Great Lakes issues and a Michigan resident represent Idaho issues? The representatives should be weighted to those most effected, typically shareholders in the area. Do we put Idahoans on Michigan zoning boards even though what Michigan folks build might effect the Idaho environment? No, none of my neighbors has a say or if they do it’s very limited if Ford is allowed to build an engine plant even though they might dump millions of pounds of green house gases into my atmosphere. It’s mostly a Michigan area fight. So to say that everyone everywhere should have a equal representation into every issue that effects the environment is silly.

            • JB says:

              ” So to say that everyone everywhere should have a equal representation into every issue that effects the environment is silly.”

              Agreed. Of course, I never said that. What I said is “I see no reason to weight the opinions of people who live in wolves’ range higher than those who do not.” When we’re discussing state wildlife management, that means the folks in Lansing should have an equal say as the folks in Menominee, despite the fact that wolves live in Menominee, not in Lansing. The resource belongs to everyone. Likewise, when we’re talking about federal public lands, I don’t think the opinions of people who live adjacent to Yellowstone National Park should be more valued than those who live elsewhere in the country–again, the resource belongs equally to everyone.

              You ask: “Your assumption is that all share holders should have equal or a percentage say accordingly. When has that ever been the case?”

              Actually, it is the case in a democratic society that every vote counts equally. It is the case when company shareholders vote as well. It’s the case when faculty members vote on the tenure of their peers. Should I go on?

              Your examples (i.e., affirmative action, zoning boards) are not relevant. In the first case, distance does not factor into the equation at all when it comes to race issues; in the second case, local zoning boards are answerable only to their residents (not the residents of other states/counties/municipalities).

              Your example about air pollution, however, is intriguing. You’ve provided another great example of how bowing to local interests may have detrimental impacts on others.

              • Dan says:

                My point is, someone makes the decision. We do not vote on everything and as such the representative is not held to the voting public’s opinion. Representatives never have been held to public opinion. Leaders represent and make informed decisions based on all the circumstances. As such, decision makers have always weighed the issues and made decisions. Tell me when you have ever been part of something or around an issue when proximity was not a weighted factor? We make decisions based on those most impacted. And, those most impacted are closer in proximity. The air pollution example is a good example because the air pollution to those closest is given more weight than people further away. Take for instance, the Pebble Mine issue. Am I a general fly fishing enthusiast given equal say as the commercial fisherman in the area? No. Neither is a person in Vermont, Michigan or Arizona. People from those places try to buy influence through donations to groups who have put themselves in the fight (typically fighting for a person or group in close proximity.) The decision is ultimately going to be based on those in the closest proximity (Alaskans, fishermen, oil men, miners, etc.) Essentially, what your argument is, is that those who want wolves that do not have to deal with the daily impacts of wolves want an equal say, which is silly.

              • JB says:

                “Essentially, what your argument is, is that those who want wolves that do not have to deal with the daily impacts of wolves want an equal say, which is silly.”

                No. You’re assuming (a) those who want wolves are not impacted and (b) those who want wolves live farther away. I reject both of these assumptions.

                What I’m saying is that state resources belong to everyone in the state, and thus, each of their voices should count equally. Likewise, federal resources (e.g., land) belong to everyone in the nation; thus, their voices should count equally. I understand that, in practice, this generally isn’t the rule–but that does not make it right. In principle, resources in which beneficiaries hold equal ownership should have an equal voice in how the resource is managed.

                You asked for an example. Here’s one: You, SaveBears and I go in buy equal shares in a condominium in Florida. In this case we are all equal owners, but the property is managed by a third party. Should I have a greater say in management because I live in Ohio?

              • ma'iingan says:

                “The resource belongs to everyone.”

                Agreed – but the problems that the resource might cause aren’t shared by everyone. Here’s what I see – many residents in wolf territory have heightened anxiety. It’s unwarranted, in almost all cases – but it’s present, it’s their perception, and their perception is their reality.

                In some cases, it’s well-justified – like when wolves kill a deer in your pasture, and then kill the neighbor’s dog when he comes over to investigate. I have a difficult time assuring people in scenarios like this that they needn’t be concerned.

                And I have to side with them when some Madison dillettante opines that they need to suck it up and find ways to cope, even though they’re equal shareholders in the resource.

              • JB says:


                When the Hetch Hetchy dam was built many locals objected for a variety of reasons; but it is clear that the costs were born disproportionately by those living in the immediate area, while the benefits went to the people living hours away in the San Francisco Bay. Likewise, people living near the National Forest in my state often cry “foul” at the suggestion of a harvest, noting they will bear the costs (e.g., diminished recreation opportunities), while others benefit from the harvest; and when our DNR decided that Ohioans would benefit from the reintroduction of white-tailed deer, farmers were forced to bear the majority of the costs so we all might have the opportunity to hunt and/or see deer.

                My point: Every action an agency (or govt. body) takes with respect to natural resources will disproportionately benefit some group over others. Wolves are not unique in this regard. My objection is to the notion that those people who live close to a resource should somehow have a greater say over how it gets managed simply because of their proximity.

            • Dan says:

              “You asked for an example. Here’s one: You, SaveBears and I go in buy equal shares in a condominium in Florida. In this case we are all equal owners, but the property is managed by a third party. Should I have a greater say in management because I live in Ohio?”

              great example for a couple of reasons…1. if a nuke plant was going in adjacent to our condo on private, state or federal land we would get a notice in the mail about public hearings because we are in proximity.
              2. Savebears, you and I all have a piece of paper that lays out specifically our legal title..fee simple etc. If you thought you had more right, I could legally challenge you based on that document if you harmed me and be made whole again. When it comes to public lands you and I do not specifically hold a title that outlines our rights we are just “covered” by acts and doctrines that specifically outline management and it’s structure. If that structure lends itself to giving weight to “locals” then you can sue on behalf of the people. Good Luck!

              • Dan says:

                I didn’t quite finish this the way I wanted. If you thought those acts and doctrines did not give weight to people in closer proximity and weight is being shifted there in a way not outlined in the act or doctrine you could pursue a legal challenge. Similar to your theory on wolves and the Public Trust Doctrine. But as you know you’d have to pursue legal means to change it.

              • JB says:

                In the absence of a legal document spelling out the specifics of our trust arrangement with the government, we have the public trust doctrine. In essence, the doctrine works similarly.

                Let me ask you a question, Dan. Since you’re the one arguing that local residents’ views should be given more weight? How much more? Twice? Three times? How close do you have to be to be considered “affected”? BTW: if the government formalized answers to these questions, I would have a very good public trust doctrine case. 😉

              • Savebears says:

                How in the hell did I get involved in a Condo in Florida?

              • JB says:

                You just seemed the type…LOL!

              • Dan says:

                I don’t think there’s a magic multiplier. I just think all the shareholders/stakeholders should be identified and the ones most affected should be heard with a greater voice. Not necessarily the deciding voice because as i previously mentioned that’s why the representative gov’t works because managers and leaders can make informed decisions based on all the criteria.
                I don’t think my opinion should count much in the Pebble Mine issue. I don’t have many irons in that fire – I don’t live anywhere close, I would like to fish there someday and I am an avid fisherman more specifically a fly fisherman but many many people have far greater at stake in that battle so they should have greater say. I believe the same thing about ANWR and many other places. Sure I’m a stakeholder but very very minor. I hope I have a greater say about Idaho wolves specifically Idaho Panhandle wolves and more specifically St. Joe valley wolves. As I hope I have greater say in all things Panhandle more specifically St. Joe Valley. But wouldn’t you feel the same if you were born, raised and make your livelihood in the St. Joe Valley(a place that is mostly public land)

                And, I think this how it, for the most part, works. IDFG and USFS hold public meetings in my area frequently and I usually attend. They are the decision makers but they want to hear my opinion. I’m sure they are aware of national polls on some issues but they still want to hear my local opinion. I think it helps. Sometimes the decision goes the way I like and sometimes not. Most of the time it does though because I am sensible and not out on the fringe.

              • Savebears says:

                No way JB,

                After being stationed in many very warm spots around the world, there is no way in hell I would buy a condo in FL, I love my cold weather! Now if I could just get the damn plow truck working right!

              • Dan says:

                I’m not sure but if you’re interested I also have some ocean front in Arizona. 😉

              • Savebears says:


                That ocean front in AZ, didn’t work out to good for me, in fact, I lost my ass on that one!


              • JB says:

                “I don’t think there’s a magic multiplier. I just think all the shareholders/stakeholders should be identified and the ones most affected should be heard with a greater voice.”

                But see, that’s the problem. If you specify a multiplier you’ve effectively partially disenfranchised beneficiaries–now they have a case. If you don’t specify a multiplier, you’ve given carte blanche to the agency to do whatever the hell it wants (because their arithmetic isn’t shared with the public). The way out, of course, is to treat everyone equal.

              • Dan says:


                Ok, I don’t get it. The agencies, federal and state, are set-up to manage wildlife for the people. We are a representative gov’t so we vote in the federal and state politicians. The politicians set-up the agencies. The agencies can not do whatever they want because they have to answer to the politicians and the politicians have to answer to the people.
                What it sounds like to me is you would rather we change our form of gov’t to a truer democracy where we vote directly on more items where each person is one voice and the most voices win. Again, minorities get screwed and I don’t believe the best informed decision is always the winner. I think the representative system works best.
                You work at a public institution right? You answer to your dean who answers to a provost or the president. What if the people of Ohio had a more direct voice, as you are advocating, so you couldn’t “do whatever the hell you wanted” but you had to do what the people of Ohio wanted more so they voted on your research – majority rules. It would suck right? You prefer the department set-up where the department answers to a dean who answers to the president who answers to the state legislature. I would even contend you as a state board appointed academic has far more ability to “do whatever the hell you wanted” as opposed to tightly watched and monitored wildlife agencies.

              • JB says:


                I’m not talking about changing our system of government. However, I am an advocate of reforming agency commissions/boards so that decisions are more representative. And this isn’t a new idea by any means. If you have access, a really good law review (out of the University of Wyoming) is: Horner, S.M. 2000. Embryo, not fossil: Breathing life into the public trust in wildlife. Land & Water Law Review 35, 23-75.

                P.S. Currently, ~7% of my universities budget comes from the state; 35 years ago, it was 70%. Our administrators make a show of caring what the state thinks, but we’re all but privatized at this point.

              • Dan says:

                That 7% is a little misleading…Take the health system out and it’s over 20%….add in federal without the health system and the gov’t take is over 40%….hardly private.

              • JB says:


                Most of the federal funding is in the form of competitive grants (actually a portion of the state funding is as well). Meaning–all colleges and universities are potentially eligible to received these funds. Private collages get money from the government too, you know.

                Funny you mention the health system; the funds you allude to come from a massive health care system (5 hospitals, a research institute, and physician network) with practicing physicians. That is, the resources are generated through treating patients, writing grants, teaching, research, etc.

                FYI: State support decreased 15% in FY’12, just as it does every year. Before long

      • TC says:

        Louise you keep parroting this statement – that public opinion should be a major force in driving where, when, and how wildlife species are managed. This is a double-edged sword and at times not in the best interests of wildlife. There is a time and a place for stakeholder input (and the public are stakeholders in most wildlife issues), but only as one part of a larger planning, assessment, and (where justified) managment process. One very specific case in point – a majority of Wyoming residents believe two things that you do not, and that are likely to send you into the night howling – that wolf introduction was “mostly negative” and that hunting of wolves should occur on a significant scale. If we now assign significant merit to those opinions (at the expense of biology, ecology, etc.), wolves likely would be exterminated from Wyoming in short order. That will not happen, and not because people love OR hate wolves.

        There are times when opinions from the general public really are not worth much (to wit, most recent elections). Most people do not or will not do the requisite homework to be fully informed on issues to offer up knowledgable opinions. They are not, in fact, the educated populace our founding fathers envisioned, and sadly they don’t seem super interested in changing this state of affairs anytime soon. This has the potential for negative effects on wildlife conservation, and probably more importantly in the long run, governance, economics, technology, infrastructure improvement, energy development, education (especially higher education), international relations, medicine, etc.

        • JEFF E says:


          • TC says:

            Survey conducted by the University of Wyoming Department of Political Science and University of Wyoming Survey Research Center – don’t know if it’s published yet, it made the media rounds in November.

            • JEFF E says:

              if there is a link, I would appreciate that. when it becomes available.
              thank you

        • Louise Kane says:

          TC I suppose public opinion might be a double edge sword when it comes to driving wildlife policy but I suspect that would be the case in less instances then you imagine. I think we are seeing a tea-party like extremist war against predators that does not necessarily reflect the broader public’s intent . I think that there is much greater public support and tolerance for wolves and other predators, and broad opposition to trapping then is reflected in the state management plans.

          I say this because I have taken the time to read many of the comments submitted to the RM states for their proposed, now implemented, wolf plans. While I have not read the comments provided to Wyoming Fish and Game or those you reference yet, I did read the comments submitted to the USFWS before delisting and they did not reflect a general approval of returning wolves to Wyoming state management. I also took the time to read all of the comments provided to Montana in response to the proposed changes to their second season which included adding trapping (most opposed… this also admitted by the commission). I had those comments sent to me by the Department and you can do the same. I also asked and received, from Idaho, the comments in response to their first online solicitation, which indicated a general (and majority opinion) that disliked the aggressiveness of the plan and opposed trapping. That solicitation did not identify snaring, only trapping even though Idaho allows snares. (I have these comments electronically if you’s like a copy I can e mail them. There are 17,000) . While I have not yet read all the comments received by the midwestern states, I have read that over 70% of the responders to MN plan were against a wolf hunting season. I really do agree with you that most people are not fully informed about the issues, as our founders might have imagined, but a surprising number of people that comment do take the time to inform themselves… and wildlife management is not reflecting what non consumptive users want nor does it even seem to reflect the opinions of many hunters, at least when it comes to trapping and overly aggressive wolf hunting. (a God number of hunters freely oppose hunting wolves and especially trapping of them). The current wolf wars (state management plans) seem to be driven by special interests and a minority position, of people who hate wolves or extremist positions. Have you read the comments to the states in response to their wolf plans? If not you should, they are very revealing. For sure there are the wolf hating crazies who want to kill every wolf. There are also those who don’t want wolves hunted (me amongst them) BUT there are a huge number of responders who think wolf management may be necessary but that the approaches are too heavy handed and these same people often argue that trapping, snaring and other devices that cause suffering are not acceptable. I think you’ll find Wyoming may be an outlier, if your report is accurate. Wyoming and the anti-wolf, anti carnivore extremists is also one of the reasons we need a national carnivore protection act. The hysteria over wolves is largely driven by these extremist groups like Big Game Forever that can’t rest until every last predator is defiled, vilified, and allowed to be legally hunted to biologically insignificant and indefensible population numbers, with no regard to their social structures, pack dynamics, inherent or biological value and with no regard to what most of us think is fair, humane or good management.

          • topher says:

            “Have you read the comments to the states in response to their wolf plans? If not you should, they are very revealing. For sure there are the wolf hating crazies who want to kill every wolf. There are also those who don’t want wolves hunted (me amongst them) BUT there are a huge number of responders who think wolf management may be necessary but that the approaches are too heavy handed and these same people often argue that trapping, snaring and other devices that cause suffering are not acceptable.”

            Without determining if the comments are made by state residents it really doesn’t matter.

            • Louise Kane says:

              Topher the states have the opportunity to design the surveys so that they differentiate between in and out of state residents, they generally don.t Idaho set up a separate site for hunter comments – as opposed to the general public so they can do it Its a convenient argument to say out of state opinions don’t matter for states with enormous tracts of public lands.

  22. Robert R says:

    The title of the article should read, Hunting is not needed as a management tool !
    Without management these grizzlies will expand further and further and they will get in trouble and be uthanized any way. If any thought the ranchers had problems with wolves the grizzly will be like Armageddon. When bear gets in a flock of sheep or animals that are bunched its not a prety sight.
    I have herd the horor stories from some old timers and weather some want to except as truth thats up to them.

  23. Craig says:

    As a Hunter, I would say Grizzly Bears are not even close in numbers to even think about Hunting. I’m Like Savebears, I only eat what I kill and Bears are not in my diet. I enjoy every spring by going to Yellowstone and taking pics of Grizz, it’s a trip we have made for over 20 years.

  24. Larry Keeney says:

    This is another gold nugget article by George Wuerthner. He speaks the truth and makes no apologies. That’s hard for some to swallow but if wildlife could print and publish he would be wildlife’s magazine “man of the year.”

    His comments brought back memories of a 18-month grizzly poaching investigation in northern Idaho/northeast Washington in the early 1990’s. The bear was a 10-year veteran of radio collaring by Jon Almack and monitored by Wayne Wakkinen IFG. This bear had a perfect etiquette record. She raised at least three sets of cubs, lived among tourist cabins, small farms and cattle grazing lands. She and her cubs were several times seen and monitored in the same meadow field with cattle, she digging for squirrels or roots and cattle continuing their grazing. I’m not aware of any complaints attributed to her from backyard garbage pilfering or similar. I looked into her complete history while building the case against the shooter looking for anything that would support his claim to self defense. I found nothing to support the claim. The bear season was closed when she was killed trying to run from the elk hunter taking her two cubs downhill through the brush trying to escape his presence. I believe she was just living the life of a grizzly mom and trying to raise another set of cubs teaching them to give wide berth and respect to all things of man. Since the cubs were in their first year, I also included in the results of the investigation the expert opinion of Dr. Servheen and other experts that the cubs would not survive the winter due to the lateness of the season when mom was killed.

    It was early next spring when a series of complaints began coming into an Idaho Conservation Officer of that area that a bear was making a living off what it could find in the back yards of cabin and small farms. Finally a hunter killed what was most likely the offending bear that was a very malnourished second year male grizzly. Being within the range of the murdered mom from the preceding fall those of us that worked the case felt it was more likely than not that this was a miracle survival of one of the cubs. Now to my point to underscore those points from George Wuerthner. The training and development of the young of predators by their parental family groups cannot be understated. Everything we want a predatory animal specie to be is lost if parental or family groups are destroyed and there can be no surer way to do that than to hunt such species which is selectful of the oldest, biggest, hairiest, etc., and leaves the offspring without T & D. That applies to wildlife just as it does to our family structures when parents leave kids without T & D and wonder why they end up in the criminal system.

    George speaks of manhood as the purpose of hunting especially for large predators. It is too bad that the hunter can’t see a trophy as a sharply focused photograph of wildlife. After all a quality photo of a grizzly bear takes even more prowess to achieve than killing it. You only need to be within about 300 yards for the killing but you have to be much closer for good photos. You can still go through all the prowess of manhood by wrangling horses, setting up a wall tent w/sheepherder stove, split your own wood, track your prey in fresh snow, backpack heavy loads and get back to camp late and exhausted with excited tales. Well I’ve made my point but allow me one more. George speaks of wanton waste because meat from predators is seldom used for food. So true. (Although I throughly enjoyed cougar a guide fed me on an undercover hunt.) This wanton waste doesn’t stop with predatory animals, I checked thousands of ungulate kills and so many were in such poor cared for condition I knew they would not end up on the dinner plate. I don’t have records for that but my 33+ year career puts my guess at less than 50% of the brought home meat makes a family meal. Thanks to George Wuerthner for speaking out and as always with such eloquence.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Thanks Larry Keeney.

      I think that George W. hit on a most important point when wrote about how hunting carnivores stirs up general dislike of hunting far more than of common plant eating animals like deer and elk.

    • Louise Kane says:

      Thank you Larry for recalling your experience with the bear sow, sad as it is

      • Larry Keeney says:

        For Louise Kane re bear sow sad: I left out the part that the killer admitted he had to move the cubs of her carcass with his rifle muzzle when he climbed down to the kill site. The investigation was written up in the National Geographic kids magazine and emphasized what young animals need for survival. When the killer saw the collar he just walked away. Lots to the story but I wrote once before about it here. Has a lot of application to hunting regulations and people behavior. Even got Dr. Stephen Herrero involved as an expert witness for people behavior when they are charged by a grizzly bear. Nothing the killer testified to concerning having been charged by the mom grizz fit his findings during his career. We left no stone unturned, that was the only way to win the case to overwhelm him and his attorney so they saw the best out was to plead guilty. We were all afraid of a cowboy jury in Spokane. It worked out.

        My thoughts on ungulates, they are certainly not expendable, they make lunch for predators (hope you see the tongue in cheek for that one).

    • Craig says:

      “It is too bad that the hunter can’t see a trophy as a sharply focused photograph of wildlife. After all a quality photo of a grizzly bear takes even more prowess to achieve than killing it.”

      That’s where you are wrong! I have Photographed Grizz and Black bears for over 20 years and never shot a single bear! I’ve hunted my whole life and I’m 41, I eat what I Kill. Hunters do appreciate Wildlife and not all are killers of every animal they see! If I saw a 1800 pound Grizz world record, I would take pics and say what an amazing animal! even if I could shoot it and be famous for it!

  25. Ryan says:

    First off I don’t think it is time to hunt grizzly bears yet. That being said, look at the success bighorn sheep have had due to hunting and conservation related dollars. The take of wild sheep is very low in the continental United States (less than 5000 a year I would guess) yet the amount of money generated by their hunting has been a huge boon for for the species.

    In my expirience, grizzlys don’t have the stigma wolves do and would most likely be sustainibly managed.

    • Elk275 says:

      ++(less than 5000 a year I would guess)++

      I would lower that number 10 Times. Five hundred rams would be about right. Tht would include both Bighorn and Desert sheep.

    • Craig says:

      That’s because rich assholes can bid 10s of thousands of dollars for sheep hunts! Real Conservation would expand numbers to where the public could hunt them in a general season!

      Ralph posted a article this year about removing domestic sheep off a range in Idaho and the Sheep foundation didn’t say shit or endorse it! They are an elite group and let the common folk take care of the “issues”. They are right next to Sporstman for buying and selling Wildlife!

      • Ryan says:


        The amount of high dollar sheep tags (excluding utah which SFW has gone a bit overboard with) is relatively small. And all of the money goes back into conserving and expanding sheep populations.

        SFW did pay for reintroduction to the stansburys which provided sheep for general hunters as well.

        FNAWS does push to change range land rules to protect sheep, this is paid in large psrt through aution tags.

        Do a little research on where the money goes, its not a bad thing as long as it is done in moderation.

        • Craig says:

          They don’t do shit compared to the RMEF for land,rehabiltation ect! They take in big$ and do not provide the same amount of returns for their dollars!
          It’s all public knowledge, look at the numbers, they push to let thier elite tag buyers to get sheep hunts! They are a Fuc…. Joke! Conservation is secondary to what the provide for dollars spent! You take a look at it and compare!

          • Ryan says:

            I disagree, FNAWS and many other groups have done a ton for sheep. The small number of tags compared to the benefit is worth it..

            Look where the money goes, most of it goes to habitat, research, and back to game departments.

  26. Craig says:

    If Idaho lets Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife get a hold, we are screwed! Look what they have done in other states, this is an elite Evil group looking to change everything to Money for killing! Traditional Hunting is at stake, these assholes need to go away! Real Hunters hate them!

  27. Craig says:

    But back on topic! Grizz are no where even close to being hunted! Idaho has so many Black Bears, its one thing. We could not even come close to having that population of Grizz, nor does, MT,WY ect it’s false science.

  28. Stacie Carlson says:

    Bravo!!! I have been saying the same things, over and over, for years, but never so eloquently as you have done here! Excellent job!

  29. Forever Wild says:

    For all of you that love grizzlies, what will YOU do to prevent them from being hunted ?

  30. Dora Herbert says:

    Indeed, hunting has its advantages if you put it that way but I guess bears will ultimately live long and reproduce when left alone. It is their natural means of survival that will help them and their species to survive the times.


January 2013


‎"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