A response to Brooks Fahy’s column –

Zack Strong is a wildlife advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Bozeman, Montana. He is a strong proponent of the proposed wolf stamp. Earlier Zack asked to respond to George Wuerthner’s critique of the stamp here in the Wildlife News. We published it. Now he responds to Brooks Fahy’s critique of the stamp. We are glad to air this issue, and now we have two articles from each side of the issue —Ralph Maughan. The Wildlife News.

 

Recently, Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, published an article in The Wildlife News attacking the proposed Montana Wolf Stamp and criticizing my organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), for helping to conceive the idea. I have worked with and respect Brooks and Predator Defense. Unfortunately, his column was both inaccurate and misleading. I write to correct Brooks, to explain why the stamp would benefit people and wildlife alike, and to emphasize that it is my and NRDC’s deep passion for predator conservation that inspired this idea in the first place.

The idea for the Wolf Stamp was born in an effort to do two things: (1) benefit wolves and other wildlife in Montana and those impacted and inspired by them; and (2) take a step toward solving a long-standing dilemma. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is largely funded by hunting, trapping, and fishing license dollars. Thus, some hunters (who purchase licenses) have long criticized non-hunters (who do not) of not contributing to wildlife management or conservation in our state. In response, non-hunters have pointed out that there is very little meaningful opportunity to do so for those uninterested in purchasing a license to shoot, catch or trap an animal, and who may not support doing so.

The Wolf Stamp strives to strike a balance between these views. For the first time, it would give non-hunters an opportunity to contribute funding—and their voices—to wildlife conservation and management policy in Montana, while guaranteeing that those dollars would pay exclusively for non-lethal programs. Specifically, wolf stamp revenue would be equally divided and allocated for three purposes:

  • to help livestock producers pay for and use non-lethal (only) measures to protect their livestock;
  • to monitor and research wolves, purchase and protect their habitat, and engage in public education and outreach; and
  • to hire additional wildlife wardens in occupied wolf habitat.

These measures would directly benefit wolves, grizzlies, and other wildlife in Montana, while also benefiting ranchers, hunters, wildlife supporters, and FWP. This is truly a win-win proposal.

In his column, Brooks misleadingly implies that the revenue may not, in fact, be used for these purposes. He states that the money would “allegedly” be used for these reasons. There is nothing “alleged” about it. The rule would, by law, require that FWP limit the spending of wolf stamp funds to these three categories, none of which involve hunting, trapping or killing wolves or any other wildlife.

Brooks also incorrectly claims that contributing to non-lethal aspects of wolf conservation and management in Montana would necessarily signify an “endorsement” of all aspects of FWP. This is ridiculous. It is like saying that every angler who purchases a fishing license necessarily endorses hunting, or that every hunter who purchases a hunting license necessarily endorses trapping. The only thing that would be “endorsed” by purchasing a wolf stamp would be the belief that those aspects of wolf management which benefit wolves in Montana should be supported. Buying a wolf stamp would be a concrete way to demonstrate that conviction, to convey to FWP how many members of the public share that perspective, and to directly support programs that will save the lives of real wolves living in Montana.

Brooks equates “management” to “killing” and tells us to oppose the stamp because FWP is proposing to call it the “Wolf Management Stamp” rather than the “Wolf Conservation Stamp,” as originally proposed. First, no final decision on the name has been made. The public comment period is still open, and anyone may still weigh in on what the name of the stamp should be (NRDC is requesting that the name be restored to “Wolf Conservation Stamp” or just “Wolf Stamp”).

Second, even if it is called the “Wolf Conservation Stamp,” and even though it would support only non-lethal programs, it is important to recognize that the stamp would take nothing away from FWP. It would not remove any programs, or limit funding for those programs. Whether we agree with them or not, lethal aspects of wolf management, such as hunting, will continue. What would change, however, is that significant new resources would be available to reduce conflicts between livestock and large carnivores, acquire habitat benefiting wolves and many other species of wildlife, study wolves and share that knowledge with the public, and ensure that our wildlife laws are strictly enforced.
In the end, the crucial point is not what the stamp is called, but what it would do. And what the Montana Wolf Stamp would do is support exclusively non-lethal aspects of wolf management in Montana, thereby benefitting wolves, livestock producers who live with them, and all those who care deeply about them.
Brooks’ ultimate point seems to be that we should not give FWP a single penny, because state wildlife agencies that allow the hunting of predators cannot be trusted, and should not be supported in any way.

I disagree.

I’m convinced that disengaging from and refusing to work with state agencies, while making demands from the sidelines, won’t accomplish anything for the wildlife we care about. If we want to help wolves and other wildlife, we should try to engage with these agencies, support non-lethal programs, respectfully voice our perspectives and concerns, and look for solutions that benefit wildlife and people alike.

The Wolf Stamp will promote the conservation and public tolerance of wolves and other wildlife in Montana. Multiple organizations, and tens of thousands of members of the public, have already expressed their support. Please consider joining us. I’m proud to have played a role in developing the stamp, I applaud FWP for considering it, and I sincerely believe this would be a step forward for the people, wolves, and other wildlife that call Montana home.

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About The Author

Zack Strong

Zack is a wildlife advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Bozeman, Montana. His background is law (J.D., University of Montana, 2009) and environmental studies (B.A., Dartmouth College, 2005). Zack advocates for all the iconic creatures that call our last remaining wildernesses home.

87 Responses to Montana Wolf Stamp Would Directly Benefit Wolves, People Alike

  1. avatar JB says:

    “I’m convinced that disengaging from and refusing to work with state agencies, while making demands from the sidelines, won’t accomplish anything for the wildlife we care about.”

    Exactly.

    • avatar Pamela Gartin says:

      Hear, hear! Non-lethal management advocates must find a way to be part of the system or forever sit on the sidelines. The extremists on both sides are intractable. There is much to be frustrated about no matter where one stands, but improvements for wildlife and people can be achieved by this kind of engagement. Diversifying funding streams and the backgrounds commissioners are drawn from will lead to better decisions. The MT Wolf Stamp will be a positive step towards diversifying funding in MT and set a precedent for other states.

    • avatar Ken Fischman, Ph.D. says:

      “It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness”

  2. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Plus, it shows them for what they are – insincere and unwilling to work with wildlife advocates, whose mommas never taught them to share. 🙂

  3. avatar Amre says:

    If they have more things like the wolf stamp, maybe the state wildlife agencies could finally start to listen to non-hunters too….

  4. avatar Justin Forte says:

    It is obvious that everyone has forgotten just how these wolves lost ESA protection and how it was done.

    It was done by a budget bill rider that was forced through in Congress. This budget bill rider not only made these wolves exempt from the ESA, but it also took away our constitutional right to judicial challenge on the issue. I don’t want some phony conservation stamp! I want the budget bill rider repealed!

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Yes, the fact that is wasn’t done on the merits speaks for itself, I think.

    • avatar WM says:

      ++ …..not only made these wolves exempt from the ESA, but it also took away our constitutional right to judicial challenge on the issue.++

      I don’t think you have it right. It merely made the FWS rule of 2009 which had been challenged in federal court (and as it turned out partly based on erroneous facts presented by the plaintiffs) a law passed by Congress and signed by the President. And it only prevented legal challenge on the substance of the rule. It also effectively cured a technical defect in the ESA for this particular species listing/delisting, which apparently prohibited delisting of wolves in only part of a DPS. The rule, of course, was FWS determination of what the ESA required, and legislatively it trumped the view of a liberal MT Federal Judge and what he thought the law said (he may have been right, but passage of the rider defeated his ruling on the DPS and any other substantive claims the plaintiffs could have made).

      Bad process through use of a rider, but good substantive result in the end, in the eyes of some.

      And, there never was a Constitutional issue here, so get over it.

      • avatar Justin Forte says:

        To block legal challenges on an issue does take away people’s constitutional rights.

        So basically what you are saying is just as long as you get your way to hell with the rights of others.

        Can’t wait till they do the same to you on an issue that you feel strongly about and when they do, I am going to sit and gloat over it like you are right now.

        I think its funny how you come on here and instead of just stating your opinion and moving on, you attack other people’s comments because you don’t like what they have to say which further proves me to be right on the topic.

        Your pathetic WM. Now figure out what the abbreviation for F.O stands for and go do it.

        To everyone else don’t forget what your Senator and Congressman did and be sure to vote them out this November over that budget bill rider!

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Justin,

          “I think its funny how you come on here and instead of just stating your opinion and moving on, you attack other people’s comments because you don’t like what they have to say which further proves me to be right on the topic.”

          One of the cardinal rules of blog discussion, “attack” the comment, what WM did, not the the commenter, which you did.

        • avatar WM says:

          ++To block legal challenges on an issue does take away people’s constitutional rights.++

          In case I wasn’t clear in my earlier post, let me try again. The rider making the 2009 rule to delist federal law, is exactly that…a new law, passed by Congress and signed by the President. In essence it amends the ESA, and Congress was acting within its Constitutional powers in doing so.

          Tell us Justine, how is that taking away a Constitutional right, just because you say so?

          Riders (attaching something unrelated to a larger must pass bill), are used with some frequency in Congress.

          If you don’t like my post on this, how about a news release from one of the plaintiffs:
          http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/wolves-03-14-2012.html

          And, if you want to read more here is the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirming Judge Molloy’s reluctant ruling:

          http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/northern_Rocky_Mountains_gray_wolf/pdfs/Wolf_Rider-9th_Cir_opinion.pdf

    • avatar Karen W. says:

      Amen Justin. Although if the stamp is called Wolf Conservation that does change everything. the name must be changed back to what it was originally supposed to be called for obvious reasons!

  5. avatar Randy Comeleo says:

    After reading the five Wolf Stamp essays, I went on to read the proposed rule itself as well as the measures included in the livestock loss reduction program:

    http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/armRules/pn_0177.html

    http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/2/15/2-15-3111.htm

    In three unambiguous statements, the rule explains how the money generated by The Wolf Stamp must be spent:

    The money received must be equally divided and allocated for the following purposes:

    (a) grants awarded through the livestock loss reduction program, pursuant to 2-15-3111, MCA;

    (b) wolf monitoring, habitat protection or acquisition within occupied wolf habitat, scientific research of wolves, or public education and outreach activities relating to wolves; and

    (c) the hiring of additional wardens, as defined by 87-1-101(5), MCA, within occupied wolf habitat.

    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks may need to call this “management”, but it is difficult to believe that spending more money in these three areas will directly result in more wolves being killed in Montana.

    We cannot “overhaul” a state wildlife department or change its “entire philosophical approach to wildlife”. But we should not let what we cannot do prevent us from doing what we can do. What we can do is support the Wolf Stamp, which may not immediately buy us a “seat at the table”, but will almost certainly keep more wolves, bears, and livestock alive.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      When in doubt, read the rule! 😉

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Brett Haverstick’s and Brian’s post best echoe my concerns.

      Specifically
      1) If NRDCA proposed the Wolf Conservation stamp why the need by MFP to change the name to the Wolf Management Stamp? Management under Montana state policy means killing wolves. The proposed name change is deeply troubling to me. If Montana is serious about letting wolf proponents have a seat at the table then they need to recognize that conservation and management/killing of wolves are not synonymous strategies in our minds. Rules can be changed. Its easier to pass the red face test if the funds from the wolf stamp program begin to be directed toward more a traditional management/killing paradigm if the stamp is called Wolf Management Stamp but nearly impossible to defend lethal actions if the stamp is called Wolf Conservation. I don’t trust that name. Perhaps MFP fears the ire of its typical wolf hunting and livestock clients by using the name wolf conservation but if possible wolf stamp purchasers are to feel any guarantees that their money will go toward helping wolves then MFP needs to really step up to the plate and call the stamp a conservation stamp. if they can’t do that then I would never support it.
      2) I don’t like funds being used to reinforce the model of livestock reimbursement that I feel should be a cost of doing business and already exists as a subsidy. I think this was a big mistake and is part of the problem. Why should livestock producers be reimbursed for livestock losses on public lands where they run their livestock at greatly reduced prices. For that matter why are fishermen reimbursed when they wipe out fish stocks? Not good models

      I’d feel encouraged to see some really new ideas like a provision to use the funds to help move livestock off public land and onto private lands or to retire grazing rights than to rehash and use money to support non lethal methods. That would really be acquiring habitats for wolves in the most meaningful way. And if funds are used to purchase habitat then no hunting of wolves allowed on those lands.

      I think all wildlife management programs should require non lethal methods of control as a first order of business. But this should be done using the general funds already coming in.

      3) I would also tend to support a stamp with funds going toward a progressive collaborative educational, marketing and advertising campaign. If the USFWS and state agencies had worked to educate people about the benefits of wolves in their landscapes then they may have removed a significant threat to the wolves and also been more in line with the The ESA mandates.

      The ESA mandates that the threats to species are a significant factor in delisting. Yet wolves were delisted without acknowledging the human threat to wolves that is still as pervasie apparently as it was in the late 1800s. Historically wolves were extirpated because of overblown perceived threats to humans, livestock or pets. MFP has done nothing to illuminate its public or correct the stereotypes. I’d like to see MFP acknowledge this and create a marketing strategy using the funds to better inform its constituency about wolves. For example if MFP would work with an ngo like Living With Wolves to provide school curriculum about wolves, to require their wolf hunters to see the Living with Wolves Documentary before they purchase a hunting license and to develop new materials geared to eradicate wolf hate then my level of trust for this product would increase dramatically.

      They might also use funds to monitor, report and deter poaching.

      Brett’s and Brian’s points about supporting more collars are also very troubling. I too fear collaring. Perhaps the collars were valuable at one time, prior to hunting seasons, now they seem to be make it easier for wildlife services to hunt wolves. I suspect the collaring information may be used in more deceptive and damaging ways for wolves. I too hope some of them are able to hide out unnoticed without this hideous collars on them.

      I think I am most aligned with Kirk’s position but with perhaps more skepticism. For me the true test will be what they call the stamp and how they choose to use the money . Until then we can’t be sure about what support it merits. For me, I won’t consider one iota of support unless they use the name Conservation Stamp.

      and I think sadly Brooks and Brett are right that without a big change there is little hope for reform.

  6. avatar Sam Parks says:

    Excellent points, Zack Strong and Randy Comeleo.

    “Brooks’ ultimate point seems to be that we should not give FWP a single penny, because state wildlife agencies that allow the hunting of predators cannot be trusted, and should not be supported in any way.

    I disagree.”

    ^^^This, especially, is something that should be recognized by all wildlife advocates. It’s easy to see the state game agencies and everybody who works for them as the devil incarnate, but it’s not that simple. One example. My father is the Lands Director for Wyoming Game and Fish. He has worked tirelessly for years to protect wildlife habitat, both directly acquiring land (with his limited budget) and through securing conservation easements. Frankly, he has ensured that more wildlife habitat is protected in the state of Wyoming than just about any other person or NGO, with the possible exception of the Nature Conservancy.

    Now, I would like to see how any HONEST wildlife advocate can claim that is harmful.

    Furthermore, you will find many people within the state game agencies, including some that are fairly “high up”, who do not agree with certain aspects of their agency’s policies, including wolf management

    I know that a lot of people who post here probably have little to no experience with state game agencies or their employees. But you would be surprised to find that many people who work for them, from low-level field biologists to higher-up administration people, are pro-wolf and would like to see their agency manage wolves in a more sustainable way.

    The problem is: state game agency employees, even the commissioners, really have very little say in how wolves, or any other wildlife, is managed. The governor and legislature do. If Governor Mead and a majority of WY state legislators suddenly had an epiphany that the Wyoming predator zone is morally bankrupt (fat chance) and that Wyoming should manage for a higher wolf population, the policy would change in an instant.

  7. avatar Brett Haverstick says:

    I want to thank Zack for writing this article. I am just starting to rap my head around this stamp proposal and beginning to understand both sides. With that being said, and with due respect, I think this wolf stamp and Zack’s explanation is junk. Here’s why:

    1. This is just another subsidy for livestock producers. Zack wants people to pay money on top of the tax-dollars that already support things like Wildlife Services, on top of the petty grazing fees that public land ranchers pay and the resulting damages, including the bazillions of $ spent to recover species listed under the ESA due to welfare ranching. Instead of continuing the battle to remove grazing from all federal public lands, this instead, spoon feeds the bastards.

    2a. The last thing we need is more money spent on collaring and researching wolves. We’ve been studying wolves for how many decades now and where has it led us? Yes, scientific research is important (trophic cascade phenomena, etc) but this is nothing but a puff ball.

    2b. Purchase and protect habitat????? What the heck is that about? We have how many hundreds of millions of acres of federal public land with outstanding habitat. A second puff ball.

    2c. Engage in public education and outreach. I’m guessing that MFWP is going to do the educating? That’s like paying the Ku Klux Klan to teach people about diversity and acceptance. Bad fit.

    3. Hire additional game wardens? For what purpose? What the hell are they going to enforce? What the heck are they going to protect? These wardens drink from the same corrupt fountains in MFWP and they aren’t going to do squat in the field.

    Moving forward.

    Supporting the wolf stamp does nothing to address the wholesale slaughter of wolves via hunting, trapping and aerial gunning. I equate the stamp to a dog bone–here, chew on this and keep quiet.

    Supporting the stamp also does nothing but give up on genuine wolf recovery. What people like Zack Strong are saying is that, hey this is the way it’s going to be from here on out and we need to take what we can get. Imagine if people like Dr. Martin Luther King or Ghandi took that approach!

    This very much reminds me of the collaborators, groups like the Idaho Conservation League, the Wilderness Society, Montana Wilderness Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and others who are willing to trade away our public land laws, science, principle, ethics, and the majority of American values in favor of political expediency, recognition, a bigger budget and, perhaps more than anything, the ability to declare victory!

    Almost done.

    Zack wants us to believe that the stamp will increase public tolerance for carnivores like wolves. You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the same logic as, “we have to kill wolves to save wolves”. It’s a complete dead end and Zack should know better.

    In conclusion, I want to thank Zack Strong and the NRDC for thinking out of the box and bringing a new idea to the table. However, I do not support the proposal and wouldn’t drop a dime on it. And I’m going to tell others not to do so either. Brooks Fahy is spot-on when he said, “If science and ethics are to be the foundation of sound wildlife policies, then conservation organizations need to bring the real hardcore message home: NO HUNTING OF PREDATORS.”

    • avatar Justin Forte says:

      Right On Brett!

      • avatar Brett Haverstick says:

        Justin I appreciated your comment about how the northern Rockies DPS was wrongfully and criminally delisted in the first place. There’s groups out there that haven’t given up on them coming back under the federal shield one day.

        • avatar WM says:

          Brett,

          ++… how the northern Rockies DPS was wrongfully and criminally delisted in the first place.++

          “criminal?” Really? Two federal courts (trial and appellate) determined it was a permissible use of Congressional power.

    • avatar CJ says:

      Brett & Brooks have clearly articulated the inherent flaws with the Wolf Stamp, and I won’t reiterate. However, I believe there is an additional danger that I haven’t seen mentioned yet. My concern is that many of us who care about wolves–more than 70% of Americans, according to research polls–will buy a stamp in the belief that we’ve done our part and the problem will be solved. However, even Zack admits that the wolf stamp will do no such thing. He states, “Whether we agree with them or not, lethal aspects of wolf management, such as hunting, will continue.” The Wolf Stamp is more than a harmless distraction. It is sidelining wolf advocates–including Zack and NRDC–away from the real goal. Check out the bottom of this page . . . Edward Abbey says it better than anyone.

      • avatar Brett Haverstick says:

        Great point CJ.

      • avatar JB says:

        CJ: your conclusion depends on whether one views lethal wolf management as a problem. Many of us don’t–we would rather have more wolves in more places, but we accept that some will have to be killed for this to happen. In any case, Zack rightly notes that the wolf stamp’s funding of non-lethal methods should reduce the use of lethal control. That’s something we can all be happy about.

    • avatar Karen W. says:

      Very well said, Brett!! At the very least the name needs to be Wolf Conservation not Wolf Management!

    • avatar Marc Bedner says:

      Brett, thank you for directing the discussion to the issue at hand, namely collaborationism. If groups like the League of Conservation Voters had not supported Rancher-Democrat Jon Tester, wolves would still have ESA protection and the stamps would not be an issue. The dispute is over politics, not science.
      Hunters and ranchers are waging a war on wildlife. Collaborating with the enemy in this war may provide lucrative positions for influence peddlers, but it does not lead to a victory for wildlife.

      • avatar Brett Haverstick says:

        I am glad you see what I see Marc, with regard to collaboration. In fairness to the groups that participate in them, it is a strategy that their organization has chosen to pursue. The organization I work for, http://www.friendsoftheclearwater.org, however, sees the pitfalls of such strategy and chooses not to engage in the process and instead work for change from the “outside”. In a nutshell, when the kitchen table is rotten to the core, instead of “gaining a seat at the table” we prefer to advocate for throwing the table out and starting over. The wolf stamp does no such thing.

    • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

      Excellent post, Brett. I agree with you completely.

    • avatar Sharona Gilbert says:

      Pretty cute how Speak for the Wolves people have a flipping cow if anyone criticized their rally but turn around and pull the same thing with people who support the wolf stamp. Oh, and then I have Justin King pm-ing me that “we need all tactics” yet in public he is against any form of advocacy other than his own. Pretty hypocritical if you ask me. If you don’t want to support this because it is not saving wolves, then don’t. It is as simple as that. But don’t act like in the meantime you are putting on a cape and coming to the rescue. Wolves aren’t going to be “saved” by internet warriors. And yeah, they probably won’t be saved by this stamp either. They might be helped though. And I think that is worth a try in itself.

  8. avatar Ed Loosli says:

    The real problem in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming is not wolves — it is privately owned livestock occupying our public grazing lands that should be used by wild ungulates, not domestic cattle and sheep. I would feel better if the Wolf Stamp money went to buying out grazing leases and buying private ranch land to return it back to nature.

    • avatar Brett Haverstick says:

      Now that would get me more interested Ed.

    • avatar CJ says:

      I like your idea, Ed! Rather than a band-aid, your idea is to treat the problem at a systemic level.

    • avatar Jerry Black says:

      Agreed 100% Ed…and if that were the case, I’d support the stamp, otherwise, I’ll lobby against it.

    • avatar Elk375 says:

      ED

      ++I would feel better if the Wolf Stamp money went to buying out grazing leases and buying private ranch land to return it back to nature.++

      That is a lot of wolf stamps. Large tracts of private land with elk and wolves are selling between $1000 – $3000 an acre.

  9. avatar Kirk Robinson says:

    I seriously doubt if anyone is in a position to know with any degree of certainty whether this wolf stamp proposal will work or not – not Zack Strong or Brooks Fahy or Kirk Robinson. That’s because it’s an empirical question that can only be answered by experiment. And so I say let’s try the experiment and see whether it works. But this will require that we have a pretty clear idea in advance of what will count as success. And for me the bare minimum is that there will have to be more wolves in more places in Montana within a few years. I would also dearly like to see some places besides the national parks made off limits to wolf hunting and trapping altogether so that entire packs can lead a natural and normal existence. (In fact, this is the most important criterion of success in my view.) If this happens, I would conclude that the stamp most likely helped foster the change and I would count it as a success. However, I would still work in whatever way I could to try to convince people that we should not be hunting or trapping predators at all; and I don’t see how the qualified success of a wolf stamp would make this any harder to do than it already is. Anyway, it is foolish to think we can get to this ideal result (no hunting or trapping of predators)in one fell swoop if only we continue to denounce state wildlife management long enough and loudly enough. So I’m for the stamp. But if within a few years there are not more wolves in more places in Montana, and if there are no wolf habitats where wolves are not hunted or trapped, then people will probably stop buying the stamp (I will) and the idea will wither away just like the Utah Wildlife Heritage Stamp did about 20 years ago (yes, there is a precedent of sorts!). Nevertheless, I would like to give success a chance in this instance, so, despite my skepticism I will buy a wolf stamp if they become available . But I wonder, will I have to eventually also buy a grizzly stamp and a cougar stamp and a black-footed ferret stamp? Maybe wolves are a special case because of the reintroductions and the way they push some people over the edge into insanity, but the idea of having to pay for improved “management” of each species I care about doesn’t cut it with me. Ultimately, like Aldo Leopold, I want a whole new wildlife & land ethic – an ecocentric one. If the wolf stamp can help us get there, so much the better. I doubt if it will prove to be an obstacle to progress. At worst it just won’t help.

    • avatar Mark L says:

      Kirk Robinson says,
      “Ultimately, like Aldo Leopold, I want a whole new wildlife & land ethic – an ecocentric one. If the wolf stamp can help us get there, so much the better. I doubt if it will prove to be an obstacle to progress. At worst it just won’t help.”

      I’ve reached the same conclusion. Yep, I’ll probably buy one (while spitting on the ground and rolling my eyes).

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Nevertheless, I would like to give success a chance in this instance, so, despite my skepticism I will buy a wolf stamp if they become available.

      Maybe wolves are a special case because of the reintroductions and the way they push some people over the edge into insanity.

      While all wildlife need protections (and more so every day), yes, I believe wolves deserve special protections and interventions because. Just look at what’s happened after delisting, despite promises. Would you shoot a wolf on sight because of stubbornly held beliefs not based on science? Post photos on social media sites with defiant grins to taunt scientists and environmental/wildlife advocates? Would you trap a wolf and deliberately let it suffer while others take potshots at it? It is nuts.

      Ultimately, like Aldo Leopold, I want a whole new wildlife & land ethic – an ecocentric one.

      Nice post. I have reached the same conclusions also. We’d like an ecocentric land ethic, not an egocentric one. 🙂

    • avatar JB says:

      Spot on analysis, Kirk. By the way, I’ve bought Ohio’s Wildlife Legacy Stamp each year it has been offered. Nobody has given me a cushy seat at the policy-making table (yet), but I did get a survey from the Division of Wildlife asking about my wildlife values, what I thought about management policy, etc. Apparently, they’re keen to know something about these odd people who would support wildlife without asking for meat, trophy or pelt in return.

  10. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Specifically, wolf stamp revenue would be equally divided and allocated for three purposes:

    to help livestock producers pay for and use non-lethal (only) measures to protect their livestock. . .

    because the public, and wolf advocates, ought be responsible to pay the operational costs of the private production of livestock on federal public lands …

    …to monitor and research wolves . . .

    a collared wolf is a dead pack.

    not sure about montana, but in idaho one of the only real-world protections that wolves have had is in their ability to hide. the hunt has taken many collars, and given the state’s relative lack of resource/inability to replace collars, there is hope that many may survive in their relative seclusion.

    now wolf advocates can pay to for the technological targets around judas wolves’ necks that state wildlife managers were struggling to afford.

    …purchase and protect their habitat. . .

    i’m not sure what this means. there’s plenty of habitat for wolves. i hope it means buy-out of grazing permits on public lands. i doubt it.

    …engage in public education and outreach. . .

    not sure how this helps either.

    …and to hire additional wildlife wardens in occupied wolf habitat.

    what does this do to protect wolves ?

  11. avatar JB says:

    “because the public, and wolf advocates, ought be responsible to pay the operational costs of the private production of livestock on federal public lands”

    No. Because society should share the costs–and benefits of having wolves. FYI–I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but wolves don’t just exist on federal public lands.

    “a collared wolf is a dead pack.”

    That is an empirical statement that is, in fact, easily falsified. Again, I shouldn’t have to tell you this.

    “…i’m not sure what this means. there’s plenty of habitat for wolves. i hope it means buy-out of grazing permits on public lands. i doubt it.”

    Agreed. Buying out grazing permits would be an ideal use–but so would purchasing private lands in winter habitat.

    “…what does this [hiring additional wardens in occupied wolf habitat] do to protect wolves ?”

    More enforcement = less poaching; less poaching = more wolves.

    • avatar Mark L says:

      “More enforcement = less poaching; less poaching = more wolves.”

      That too is an empirical statement…(um, equation) that is easily falsified. Again,…

      • avatar JB says:

        Mark:

        Yes, it is an empirical statement, but I don’t think it is so easily falsified.

        • avatar JB says:

          Mark:

          You might be interested in this paper:

          Linnell, J. D. C., Swenson, J. E., & Andersen, R. (2001). Predators and people: conservation of large carnivores is possible at high human densities if management policy is favourable. Animal Conservation, 4, 345-349.

          “…where there is effective regulation of human behaviour and established human populations in areas where resource exploitation is regulated, there should be no strong correlation between human density and carnivore extinction (the ‘stabilised’ or ‘wildlife management’ phase). This corresponds to most of Europe and North America today.”

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      re the poaching issue
      its all about the message as well
      now some people see killing wolves as doing a sort of twisted patriotic duty if MFP makes it know that its a lawless action and punishable by severe penalties and not supported by the agency they are taking a step in ending that flawed thinking that killing wolves is ok and they the MFP will look the other way.

  12. avatar Bob Ostler says:

    Experience has shown that these sorts of programs are embarrassingly ineffective. People simply don’t buy “heritage Permits” in sufficient numbers to even pay the programs administrative costs. The idea that you are going to fund warden’s salaries or buy habitat is simply not borne out by past experience.

  13. avatar R. Harold Smoot says:

    First off, the last thing we need are two great groups fighting with each other.
    Like I’ve mentioned before, I am in full support of this stamp as it will be a win-win for the pro-wolf side of this debate whether it passes or fails.
    The anti-wolf folks, from what I have read on their forums and comments are dead opposed to this stamp simply due to the fact that they don’t want us to have a say. Yet, like Mr. Strong states – they continue to claim (rightly so) that we don’t directly support conservation efforts, at least as defined by them.
    So here is a stamp that would do just that, put on the table by the pro-wolf side and they don’t want to play nice.
    If it passes, then we will be able to put real dollars on the table just like RMEF and other hunting and anti-wolf organizations and have a say in their management.
    If it fails, then they lose that part of their argument and their true intentions with wildlife management and conservation will be that much easier to counter.
    Great articles from both sides and a great debate.

    • avatar Elk375 says:

      ++If it passes, then we will be able to put real dollars on the table just like RMEF and other hunting and anti-wolf organizations and have a say in their management.++

      The RMEF is a private organization, the MFWP is a state government entity that answers to the voters of the State of Montana.

      If the pro wolf people want to put real dollars on the table they would start and develop a similar organization, a organization that will purchase millions of acres for wolf habitat. The problem is the wolf people are not able to develop a similar type organization.

      I am very much opposed to the wolf stamp as reality will never meet expectations. People who purchase a stamp are going to immediately demand that the MFWP implement there agenda. It is not going to happen. I wish this stamp would die a quick death.

      • avatar JB says:

        “People who purchase a stamp are going to immediately demand that the MFWP implement there agenda.”

        Perhaps you hadn’t noticed Elk, but it appears that the people who would by a wolf stamp are already making demands of MFWP?

        ——

        “The problem is the wolf people are not able to develop a similar type organization.”

        You know, this is a good point, Elk. Seems to me there is an opportunity here for one of the ‘pro-wolf’ groups to sell it’s own stamp? ‘Buy our wolf stamp, and we’ll use the money to purchase habitat that will be protected from wolf hunting.’

      • avatar CaptainSakonna says:

        “People who purchase a stamp are going to immediately demand that the MFWP implement there agenda”

        What, like the RMEF and similar groups don’t demand that MFWP implement *their* agenda? It’s corrupt money-centered politics, and it is wrong, but if we can’t get the money out of politics then we should at least give various groups equal opportunity to grease palms.

  14. avatar JEFF E says:

    What would be an interesting bit of information is; Idaho, for as long as I can remember has had a check off in the state tax form for donations to fund “non-game animals management”.
    What I wonder is, is how much revenue that generates and how is it allocated. That information ((could)) give some idea of what the support of a wolf stamp might be and if, as the article suggests, that the use of such funds is narrowly defined to the stated purposes, then there would be a better base of information to judge the merits of the proposal.

  15. avatar Elk375 says:

    The first revenue from the wolf stamp is to be used for administrative purposes. The very minimum cost will be $10,000 a year or $800 a month. I think the minimum cost will be closer to $15,000 to $20,000 a year or approximately $1500 a month. Therefore the first 1000 wolf stamps at $20 each will be used for administration costs. I doubt if they sell more than 1000 wolf stamps.

  16. As someone who pours over wolf related articles every day for hours and hours, and sees the wolf hate comments every day on those articles, I’d like to thank everyone who commented above. This is the first time in the last year that I can say I’ve seen a constructive real discussion on the issue at hand. We need more of this.
    And Kirk, “and the idea will wither away just like the Utah Wildlife Heritage Stamp did about 20 years ago (yes, there is a precedent of sorts!).”
    The Utah Wildlife Heritage stamp may have faded away true. They covered many species of the State of Utah. In this case, we are talking about Wolves. This iconic predator has a following of people online the likes of which I’ll bet many politicians wish they had. Posting of any bad wolf news causes a firestorm and goes viral in a matter of minutes. I think there are more wolf conservation fans out there than there is antis and this wolf stamp will give us a say in what happens to wolves. It isn’t perfect and doesn’t end all killing and trapping, but it is a start. Something we didn’t have before. I hate hearing the antis tell us that we have never contributed to wildlife conservation the way they have. Now is our chance to put up or shut up. Being a “glass half full” type, I’m thinking a little step towards where we want to go is better than nothing or more of the same. Thanks again all for this wonderful conversation. hahaha I’m still in shock! Keep up the good work.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Candy – the skepticism from a few here IMHO, is warranted when it comes to this stamp simply because I’ve lived in Montana for awhile and the idea of showing any kind of favoritism to predators goes against the “grain” of livestock interests and hunter game farm mentality.

      Anglers do contribute to the general FWP fund, but most practice catch and release, because its all about the thrill of wading the streams and outsmarting the “big one”

      So, I often wonder how many hunters would opt for a “catch & release” program when it comes to tracking, stalking, zeroing in on that “big one” and then allowing it to just go on enjoying its life?

      And where’s the breakdown of anglers, who contribute for the joy of the catch (and release) verses hunters who contribute but leave nothing behind except gut piles?

      • avatar rork says:

        Montana’s harvest reports on the web are in shambles, but I’ll bet most hunters (of elk, deer, I’m thinking) leave nothing at all. Even in MI only 43% of hunters get even 1 deer, and that’s huge compared to most places. Some manage their private lands for ungulates. Contribution is more than 20$. I get 5 tags in MI.

  17. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    Purchasing stamps is not going to give us a say in how MTFWP “manages” wolves. Indeed, MTFWP will be taking our money with one hand, while continuing to hunt and trap wolves with the other.

    There is already enough good existing wolf habitat in the Northern Rockies in the form of our public lands. The problem is that wolves are being slaughtered on those lands, and the stamp will not put an end to the slaughter. Regarding ranchers who graze livestock on our public lands, they should be forced to employ non-lethal methods. If they want to lease our public lands dirt cheap and destroy them in the process, they need to pay the price. We’ve been subsidizing their destruction of our public lands long enough, and it’s time for their sense of entitlement to end.

    The bottom line is, the indiscriminate hunting and trapping of wolves and other predators is simply not necessary. Mainstream conservation groups need to find the courage to keep driving this point home, again and again.

  18. avatar Yvette says:

    The wolf stamp may not be the perfect answer for wolf conservation, but it is an active way for any of us to participate. If they follow through with the wolf stamp I’ll choose to purchase. It is a place to start. The path may change course along the way, but we need to start the journey. Let’s actively place one foot in front of the other. Let’s build a better and different relationship with the state F&W agencies. If we need to change the course along the way then we do that when we reach that place. If we allow fear of the ‘what ifs’ to keep us frozen in the trail head we will miss the opportunity to ever know what adjustments to need to be made to build better relationship with F&W agencies for wolf conservation. I choose to not be frozen in one spot too afraid to move forward on a new path.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Yes, couldn’t have stated it better, Yvette. 🙂

    • Yvette- Well said.
      Hopefully enough people will buy a wolf stamp to provide enough funds that the fish and game would like to keep the money flowing year after year.
      When I testify at wolf management meetings in Idaho, I always let the IDF&G know that I have a current Idaho hunting and fishing license and that I have purchased 61 annual hunting and fishing licenses in Idaho since I was a teenager. Purchasers of the wolf stamp will have more clout than those who do not when it comes time to voice an opinion on wolf management decisions. Money talks.

    • avatar Amre says:

      Couldn’t agree more Yvette.

    • avatar Rob says:

      Has any one done any surveys to get an idea of how many of the stamps might actually be purchased? I strongly support the idea of the stamp for all the reasons folks have already stated, but keep in mind, that if this goes through and it doesn’t sell enough to give non-hunters the voice they are looking for it may be backfire. Some reliable data on expected sales needs to be factored into this discussion.

      • avatar WM says:

        See, that is the thing about this current proposal. There is not even a hint at how much or how little $$ it might generate, or what the expectation might be if a large block of money comes in THROUGH some national, regional or local wolf-advocacy NGO. This will likely set up different expectations than say a couple thousand small donors on their own (each maybe with a different set of expectations that are harder to measure). I know if I gave $20 or even $100 my expectation might be different from Wild Earth Guardians that might cut a big check if their donors were to support this program, and who will make their view known in the letter along with the check.

        Furthermore, it seems to me if MT wants to set policy to manage for a certain number of wolves year to year, this funding isn’t going to do much to affect that. Maybe it will build tolerance, but it won’t get 1,000 or more wolves on the landscape in MT, is my prediction. And, if there is an expectation from a “pay to play” perspective, the MT Legislature (and the power groups who get individual legislators elected) will fix that in pretty short order.

        In all, its still worth a try, if expectations (as voiced by some here already) aren’t too high or unrealistic.

  19. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Speaking superficially after querying my anecdotal experience library , it seems to me that giving money directly to Montana , Idaho, and especially Wyoming agencies to ” manage ” wolves is analagous to giving the car keys and a quart of whiskey to a teenager .

  20. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    But it’s wildlife advocates’ opportunity to do something positive, and of course we must watch what they do with our money. I want to give it a try. I don’t support hunting unless it is for food, but if we want to protect wildlife it must be tolerated and hunters are reluctant allies, I suppose.

    Besides, who could resist spitting in the eye of a wolf-hater by proxy? 😉

  21. avatar Nancy says:

    This is a notice I found hanging in my local post office this morning along with the Proposal for Adoption of the Wolf Stamp:

    “WOLF

    Please read this in its entirety. This will affect you and the area you live in.

    Please Note That The Monies Received Will Go To Enhancing Wolf Habitat.
    Let me give a real scenario of will happen if this approved (by the way we don’t get to vote on this) The Montana FWP buys 1,000 acres of land in the Big Hole with wolf stamp money. They will begin their process by bringing in more wardens and housing for those wardens. They WILL put a buffer zone around the “1,000 acres” Within that buffer zone you will not be allowed to hunt or possibly protect your livestock. This buffer could be a mile or even 5 miles. In addition, its up to the head of Montana FWP to set the buffer. What will the wolves do when they run out of animals to kill on the 1,000 acres? You got it, they will be on your ranch and you may not have a thing to say about it.

    The stamps are $20 and anyone can buy them and as many as they want to. For example a person, organization or group from LA can buy say $10 million dollars in wolf stamps. This stamp is not a wolf tag, rather a way for out of state special interest to do more damage to Montana. This entity could ask to be on that board since they donated so much money and would likely succeed. Don’t say they can’t do that! They can and they will.

    How do we stop it? Good Question. Rep. Jeff Welborn was on the house committee for Montana FWP. We were informed about this, June 30th, 2014. Various residents and organizations sent a request for a public hearing to Jeff Welborn on the matter at least a half dozen times. Absolutely no response. Next our Beaverhead County commissioners sent a formal request. No response. Later we were notified of hearings all around the state as you can see by the attached list. No hearings were ever scheduled in the areas most effected.

    Please read the “Notice for proposed adoption” and use your wildest imagination of what could possibly happen. Why not, they are!

    No name or organization on the notice.

    Thoughts, anyone?

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Does Chandie Bartell live in your neck o’ the woods?

      • avatar Nancy says:

        I seem to recall Chandie Bartell resides in Idaho, Ida.

      • avatar JEFF E says:

        You have run into “truck stop” Chandie? That’s wasted time you will never get back

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          🙂 I can’t really believe that there are actually people who think this way about wolves.

          • avatar Ida Lupines says:

            It shows just what wildlife advocates are up against – my eyes are scorched just from reading – nowhere near the vicinity of science or fact.

    • avatar WM says:

      There are three options for this proposed rule to generate funding through a “wolf stamp.” Since it would be a FWP Commission adopted rule, they could:
      a) adopt the rule as it was drafted
      b) change the language of the rule after hearing from the public (possibly significant changes)
      c) choose not to adopt any rule

      It seems there are several stakeholder groups here, and not all are MT residents. As the anonymous posting Nancy’s reference notes, there could be some heavy hitters from out of state who, either in small but numerous individual stamp purchases or large block purchases by an individual or organization (there is no limit on how many stamps one could buy in the current proposal) would put up a lot of money, possibly expecting/demanding these funds to be used in a particular way to manage wolves in a non-lethal manner (which could mean more on the ground), possibly acquire habitat, and maybe used for education to achieve higher tolerance for wolves in MT.

      Call me a skeptic, but I think there is a fair chance there will be no rule adopted, or if adopted there would be more FWP flexibility on how funds might be used. Remember this is not a Department proposed/sponsored rule, it was crafted by NRDC. The FWP Commission has no ownership of it, to my knowledge, so it would seem there is little reason to go out on a limb to support it if the public comment sentiment from MT residents opposes it, even if it would tend to reduce a funding source problem for FWP operations.

      And, one more thing to consider, is that even if the Commission adopts a rule, and it generates more than expected revenue – it is still a donation, afterall- FWP could always close down the program at any time, and keep the cash to do whatever it wants, mostly. Or, the MT Legislature could say we don’t like the rule and overturn it with legislation, or by replacing Commission members over time (something I bet some Commissioners will think about when they vote on any proposal).

      If this funding source is approved, I think there is every reason to believe MT will continue with its current wolf management plan for numbers of wolves, and moreover a consistent approach to where FWP and the Livestock Board want or don’t want wolves over the landscape. They will do this even in the presence of a little or a lot of money raised by this proposal.

      And, do remember this. The MT Legislature will always protect its parochial interests as against outsiders.

      • avatar Jerry Black says:

        “Or, the MT Legislature could say we don’t like the rule and overturn it with legislation, or by replacing Commission members over time (something I bet some Commissioners will think about when they vote on any proposal).
        And, do remember this. The MT Legislature will always protect its parochial interests as against outsiders.”
        I’d bet on it!

    • avatar JB says:

      “Thoughts, anyone?”

      My first thought: The anti-wolf folks are just as good at crafting wildly-outrageous, doomsday scenarios as some of the pro-wolf folks here. I’m not sure which group is more misguided…or more fearful?

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Guess you’ve got to live in the moment, here, JB 🙂 to really experience/appreciate the misguided (misinformation) and fearful (still waiting for some kid to be taken by a wolf at the local bus stop or wolves will run local ranchers out of business) mentality still sadly prevalent, 20 years after wolves were reintroduced.

        • avatar JB says:

          I wish I could say it was more entertaining. Here we are, 20 years after ol’ Conrad Burns predicted there would be a dead child within a year and what’s-his-face said wolves would eat all the elk and we’ve got no dead children and ‘robust’ elk populations. The management of that dissonance is quite a psychological feat.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Yet how many wolves had to pay the price of admission (lives) to that psychological feat?

          • avatar Elk375 says:

            Conrad now is confined to a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. There are still elk and I have not heard of any chitins being eaten at the school bus stop. One can never judge the future by the past.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          And Ted Nugent is still alive and NOT in jail. Do you believe that?

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

~ Edward Abbey

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