Olympia, Wash — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials late Thursday released a new protocol that would allow wolves to be killed too soon after incidents with livestock and without enough oversight.

The new “wolf-livestock interaction protocol” guides when the agency will move to kill wolves in response to livestock depredations. Conservation groups are concerned that the protocol allows wolves to be killed under dubious circumstances and lacks sufficient requirements for ranchers to exhaust nonlethal measures.

“This protocol fails to protect the state’s small wolf population or prioritize scientifically proven nonlethal measures to safeguard livestock,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wildlife officials should have left much more room for nonlethal measures and allowed for occasional livestock losses. Washington needs to protect its recovering wolf population — not make it easier to kill these amazing animals.”

Under the new protocol, a kill order for wolves is considered after three depredations (deaths or injury to livestock) in 30 days or four depredations in 10 months. Affected livestock owners are required to have tried at least two proactive measures to deter conflicts with wolves at the time the livestock losses took place, but there’s no requirement in terms of how long the measures must have been in place to determine if they have been effective.

This protocol would allow wolves to be killed even for livestock deaths not confirmed as caused by wolves; provides for the same threshold for killing wolves on public lands as on private lands; and does not have stringent requirements for keeping livestock away from known den and rendezvous sites where wolves raise their pups. There is also no requirement, only a recommendation, for human presence near livestock, despite it being one of the most effective means known to deter wolf-livestock conflicts.

The new protocol does increase the number of nonlethal measures required under last year’s protocol by one, and does indicate that if nonlethal measures are not in place long enough in advance of a depredation, the Department will only consider issuing a kill order for wolves at a higher number of events and after nonlethal measures have been tried and failed. The protocol also acknowledges the Department has a responsibility to manage wildlife in trust for the citizens of Washington, and not just on behalf of any one special-interest group. The Department has been increasing its outreach efforts to livestock owners, to seek voluntary implementation of conflict-deterrence measures.

“Sadly, this protocol is setting Washingtonians up to foot the bill for even more ill-advised, scientifically unjustified and extraordinarily costly wolf-killing operations in 2017 at the expense of wolf recovery,” said John Mellgren, staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. “Although certain provisions are an improvement over last year’s protocol, it is worse in others, and does not provide the stringent requirements that a legally binding rule resulting from an official public process provides, nor the accountability and public disclosure that the public deserves.”

Under last year’s protocol, the state killed nearly an entire wolf pack, the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County, despite failure by state Fish and Wildlife staff and a livestock owner to use appropriate nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures to prevent conflicts in the first place or to take adequate responsive measures to halt the conflicts. Four years earlier the state had killed another wolf pack on behalf of the same livestock owner, despite his refusal to use conflict deterrents. The cost to taxpayers was $74,500 to kill the Wedge pack in 2012, and more than $135,000 to kill members of the Profanity Peak wolf family in 2016.

The Profanity Peak pack kill operation lasted nearly 11 weeks and resulted in the deaths of seven of the pack’s 12 members, including the breeding female, a three-and-a-half to four-month-old pup and one female who was mortally wounded but not located and put out of her misery until three days after first having been shot. The public was outraged and called for a massive overhaul of the protocol, no more killing of wolves on public lands, and management actions aimed at conserving wolves instead of capitulating to the livestock industry.

This year’s protocol, and last year’s, were both crafted with input from a state Wolf Advisory Group, a stakeholder group convened by the Department of Fish and Wildlife that includes agency staff and some representatives of the ranching, hunting and conservation communities. However, the advisory group’s composition does not represent the diversity of views of Washington residents. Additionally, its role in helping the state craft wolf-management policies and protocols does not have the same requirements as regulations formally adopted by the state wildlife commission to provide notice to the public, opportunity to review a draft document and then submit written comments or provide testimony on the document, along with a requirement that public comments and testimony be considered before the protocol is finalized. The new protocol released today was not circulated to the public for review before being finalized.

 
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61 Responses to Washington state wildlife officials are too quick to kill wolves

  1. avatar WM says:

    Let’s add some balance to this dialog. WDFW adopted this protocol with considerable debate and deliberation. Amaroq Weiss is a wolf advocate who does not live in WA and who wants unfettered and expanding numbers. And, the WA Wolf Advisory Committee is a very balanced and representative group, notwithstanding the unfounded and misleading assertion of the release.

    So I call bullshit on the content of this so-called “press release.”

      • avatar Patrick says:

        Thanks for the link. Always good to look at the actual language. I read the plan, and it clearly states on pg. 6 that for most situations, the measures will have been in place for at least one week before further action is taken. That doesn’t seem like much time to judge efficacy, so I think the critics have a legitimate cause to question the intent behind such a short observation period. There is nothing to keep the deterrence measure in place longer than a week, so it could be stopped, a depredation could occur, and they could claim they need to escalate to lethal control.

        • avatar WM says:

          The provision is “at least a week,” giving flexibility to intercede under circumstances which require immediate action. Alternatively, as I understand the protocol, it may be longer in actual practice, based on administrative discretion. There is nothing which I see that says a week would be the threshold. Seems very reasonable and responsible, IMHO.

          • avatar Patrick says:

            Yes, you’re right…there is nothing that states they can’t have the deterrence in place for longer than a week. So really we are looking at two sides of the same coin. The question really is how they will they will implement the policy in practice, and under what conditions and time frame they ACTUALLY escalate to lethal control. We will just have to wait and see. I think some vigilance will be needed to ensure the process is transparent so it can be fairly judged.

    • avatar GPC says:

      I’m calling “bullshit” on the McIrvins (there – I said it) who thinks the country and its wildlife assets owes them a living. Any rancher not willing to comply with deterrent guidelines should be quickly excluded from Federal grazing PRIVILEGES. Stop treating these characters with kid gloves.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      WM why does Amaroqs position ac a wolf advocate disqualify her opinion
      Like you she is also an attorney who is well versed in the issues
      That charge is BS

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Additionally tbe initial scoping of the public in crafting the plan illustrated extremely high support for non lethsl management of wolves

      Tbe wolf advisory board works for its constituents and some high 70 plus minus of Washingtonians did not want wolves killed

      Ranchers are exerting pressure but they are not the majority
      And isn’t it time to be looking at precautionary application of management for wildlife and looking at tbe advantages of adaprive management strategies instead of the same old status quo

  2. avatar Chula says:

    But Amaroq Weiss knows wolves, their behavior, and what deters them. Wolves Don’t change behavior just because they cross state lines. It would appear that this is an appeasement move on the part of WDFW, because ranchers, hunters, and farmers speak louder than wolves.

  3. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone NP in 1995 and 1996, there was a caveat created that state agencies (taxpayers) would compensate ranchers for their losses and allow the killing of wolves involved in depredations. If they had dispersed on their own from Canada, this issue would be a whole different discussion, but since that did not happen, I understand the consequences.

    Personally, I’m not pro or anti wolf but realize the benefits that ALL predators provide to a healthy landscape. As WM stated, the Wolf Advisory Board is well represented by a diverse group and I applaud WDFW and the Wolf Advisory Board for their efforts in working to reduce conflicts between wolves and a diverse public.

    http://www.conservationnw.org/news/updates/statement-revised-wolf-protocol

    • avatar Guepardo_lento says:

      The WAG have never had, nor do they currently have any wildlife researchers (i.e “scientists”)on the panel. That includes a severe lack of (any) university faculty or research agencies (e.g. USGS) that are willing to stick their necks out. The current “diverse” group on the WAG extends only so far with broad categorizations (e.g. “environmentalists, ranchers and sportsmen”), and while some may have a bit of science background and some try to stay informed with current literature, none are scientist (other than perhaps the WDFW representatives which are managers and a tech). Unfortunately there are only a few people on the WAG that have an understanding of wildlife science and many are trying to learn the basics on the fly regarding wolf ecology and biology while riding the political fence. By the way, the WAG meeting minutes from all of their meetings are available on the WDFW wolf management site. It is quite clear from reading those line-by-line meeting comments that they are in need of several (not just one) wildlife ecologists who have a demonstrated background in wildlife research and publishing (not just writing nuts and bolts wildlife management reports)…it seems like the WAG, while well intentioned, is a mess despite the $800,000 spent by WDFW on hiring the conflict consultant Francine Madden for a 2 year contract to “solve” the wolf conflict issue. WDFW and a few of the WAG members have drank her 800K Kool-Aid and are now convinced that a WAG as it it now is better than none at all…is it?

  4. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    I worry that implementing non-lethal tools only after wolves (or other predators) start killing livestock may be too late–at that point they’ve learned to target livestock. Better to have good husbandry practices in place and prevent depredations to begin with.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “Better to have good husbandry practices in place and prevent depredations to begin with”

      BINGO!! A thought that has been echoed here over and over.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Yes, exactly especially when zone are always looking for an Appointment of blame game

  5. avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

    Tackling Wolf Management’s Thorniest Issue: The Ecological and Social Complexities of Lethal Control

    https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/wolves_on_the_west_coast/pdfs/Lethal-Wolf-Removal-Panel-White-Paper-08-28-2015.pdf

    A Wolf Conservation Discussion Panel, co-hosted by Pacific Wolf Coalition & University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (October 29th, 2014)

    The purpose of this panel discussion was to understand some of the complexities of lethal wolf removal, both social and ecological, in order to inform Washington’s wolf management policies with the best natural and social science available.

    The panelists included:

    Dr. Scott Brainerd, from the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife (ADFG);

    Dr. Douglas Smith, from Yellowstone National Park;

    Dr. Robert Wielgus, from Washington State University;

    Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter, from Ohio State University; and

    Dr. Adrian Treves, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  6. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Something similar, sometimes we need a good laugh. From the HCN:

    http://www.hcn.org/articles/i-am-the-high-priestess-of-leave-no-trace

  7. avatar Jerry Black says:

    “And, the WA Wolf Advisory Committee is a very balanced and representative group, notwithstanding the unfounded and misleading assertion of the release.”
    Really? I doubt that anyone commenting here has even been to a WAG meeting.
    I suggest you attend, listen, and try to participate in a civil manner…I have.
    You’ll then have a basis to form an educated judgement as to whether or not this is a “balanced” group. Just because there are members from HSUS, Conservation Northwest, Defenders,and Wolf Haven doesn’t make it balanced.

    • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

      wolf wars 😉

    • avatar WM says:

      Jerry,

      I think you will find the history of the WA Wolf Advisory Committee instructive – the one that advanced the plan WA now has. We have had a long string of D Governors, and a D Legislature for many years. The Commission itself is heavily D, though obligated by statue to have wide geographic representation which includes Eastern WA and rural areas. I think WA has one of the most informed, educated and smart wildlife management programs in the entire country. Just need to look at the credentials of the folks on the Commission (though they do have responsibilities for ocean and anadramous fisheries, as well). It is really they who direct the programs, not the staff, and not people who come from all over this very diverse but strongly left leaning state to comment on specific management direction. That is why I call bullshit on the likes and wolf advocacy agenda of CBD and Ms. Weiss.

      Also interesting that it appears there are now wolves showing up on the Skagit River drainage (North of Seattle about 60 miles and a bit to the east, near N. Cascades).

      http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2017/jun/08/wolf-pack-appears-be-sniffing-out-territory-western-washington/

      Within this article is a link to a King 5 TV segment. One individual interviewed suggested “up-river justice” when queried about how he or local residents feel about the presence of wolves there.

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        You know, if they want a delisting, they’re going to have to be a little bit cooperative. SSS and other ‘justice’ should be strongly discouraged. Otherwise, no-confidence will continue to be the rule as far as how the agencies handle ‘wolf management’.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          Also, as we can see and have seen, being heavily Democrat means little or nothing as far as wildlife protections go. For most, it isn’t even on their radar, and/or they do not have an understanding of the issues, like climate change as a glaring example.

          So, while the endless boards and agencies may have great credentials, many of those they cater to are lowlifes, who won’t even cooperate with F&W recommendations! While the entire state may be mostly demo, it doesn’t mean they have a clue, or think that the people’s rights ‘trump’ everything else. With a ‘people first’ motto, you wonder if anything else will ever get the smallest bit of attention.

          A vote of no confidence.

      • avatar Jerry Black says:

        I’m very familiar with the area and have friends living in Concrete, in fact have been up there twice in the last week.
        Not a good place to be hanging out if you’re a wolf…it’s as bad, if not worse than Ravalli County….lots of cows and a large elk herd.

        • avatar WM says:

          I suspect there will be interesting dynamics for elk once wolves are established on the Skagit. Wolves may drive the elk into deep timber, or they may pressure them to stay down in the valley bottoms closer to farmers. Of course the farmers have more there than they now want (they have even made attempts to get the state/feds to reduce their numbers). So, wolves follow the elk down into the bottom land, and they learn cows are sloooowwwer than elk. I see a meal opportunity. That, of course, takes us back to the protocol which is the subject of this thread.

          I have said before wolf management is on the threshold of becoming more interesting in WA (which has the highest density of humans and their activities) than any other state with wolves, and with potentially more situations presenting conflicts.

  8. avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

    nice maps

    A Meta-Population Model to Predict Occurrence and Recovery of Wolves
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.1008/pdf

    Model simulations that begin in 2009 suggest Washington
    should reach its recovery goals in approximately 12 years (2021). We used the model to project recovery
    timeframes and the risk of declining below recovery objectives if management scenarios are considered during
    recovery. This model is also intended to be a versatile and adaptive tool for managers to project potential
    carrying capacity and the minimum viable population in the future when locally derived empirical data become available as wolves recolonize Washington. The model framework can be easily adapted to guide management decisions of wolves in other states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming) or countries and it can also provide a way to identify recovery thresholds (quasi-extinction) in other areas considered for recovery where no data are currently available

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      From reading this article, it sounds like not only do some not want reintroduced wolves, they don’t want naturally migrating wolves either! You could understand the argument about reintroduction I suppose, but not naturally migrating wolves. That is just flat out wrong.

      Also, as taxpayers and those ‘entitled’ to public lands also, I don’t think it is too much of an effrontery for people to expect that this gentleman not to put salt licks near wolf dens, virtually baiting the wolves, and to cooperate with F&W. There should be no killing (nor distribution of funds) unless there has been cooperation.

    • avatar timz says:

      the epitome of the whining ranchers

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Having witnessed, firsthand, over the years, how ranchers treat those cows – that they profess to “love” so fricken much – its kind of ironic.

        Let me count the ways:

        The calving season – Early spring out here in the west, the same old calving enclosures used, year after year, after year. Mud churned enclosures, where a cow can only hope to give birth on a dry area, maybe some hay laid within a 24 hour period, that hasn’t been eaten yet.

        There are losses due to all sorts of unsanitary conditions but hey, the bottom line – cattle are just numbers, not beings.

        You are a newborn, baby calf and within a day, a human has mashed you into the ground and ear tagged you into the “system” And don’t expect much help when you cry out… your mother is so inbred, she probably wouldn’t recognize your cry from the dozens of other newborns and besides, she’s busy, stuffing her face…..

        Within a week or two, branding – baby calves, herded into other cramp enclosures, separated from their mothers (how many of them get trampled/injured during that “procedure”)

        A red hot brand, cuz ranchers gotta have a brand out here, is applied to their tiny hides and some ranchers, castrate at the same time (Mountain Oysters, anyone?)

        The idea that this might be more than a painful experience, never seems to cross a rancher’s mind, IMHO, because its all about a product for market, not an actual living, breathing being, they have complete control over, that might feel pain or feel anxious about their young.

        There are losses, right from the get go in ranching because while it might be a living, breathing entity, being raised, the end goal is profit and all sorts of loss can be factored in like disease, weather, etc.

        http://www.beefmagazine.com/market-reports/weekly-market-update-bad-week-feeder-cattle-prices-plummet

        Some ranchers wait until the fall to brand/castrate. And it usually is a big event, even the newbies in the neighborhood, are suckered into helping.

        But I digress.

        End of June, cows/calves, around these parts, are run, literally, whether by truck or pushed on foot for miles, by 4-wheelers, horses, etc. up the road to those precious, public land allotments, where they spend months with little or no supervision until gathered up in the fall and pushed or driven home.

        And then comes the ordeal of shipping – cattle loaded up on semi trucks, for the trip back to either the “home” place (if lucky enough to be picked for next year’s seed cows/heifers) or to feed yards or to slaughter.

        And given the wreaks (just around here) involving cattle trucks, not a happy way to get anywhere, if your a cow.

        I’m sure those cows, less fortunate to be back home on the ranch for another year, aren’t feeling the love, anymore 🙂

        Depredation by predators (wolves included) amount to a tiny fraction of cattle losses.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          Sorry for the above rant. But fact is, the human species has come dangerously close, in the last few decades, to the point where we don’t give a shit about our OWN species, let alone other species, we share the planet with:

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            Don’t apologize. It’s hard not to rant, unless you don’t care at all IMO.

            I couldn’t get past the warning on the video; I might try again if I can work up the courage.

            I was out walking today and saw the saddest thing – a gorgeous little red fox kit dead on the side of the road, may have been hit by a car. About the size of a shepherd pup. But the saddest thing was all the cars zooming by completely oblivious to it, and just about everything else. 🙁

    • avatar WM says:

      Rob Weilgus is definitely not immune from controversy, some might say, he creates for himself. Always on the prowl for research dollars, perhaps he poisoned his own well, and took risks that did not go his way. If he does sue WSU for defamation, maybe some of these facts will come out, and he will be vindicated getting what he wants and claims he deserves (some of the six years’ salary he claims he will demand), or maybe he will just be gone from WSU.

      http://www.dailyevergreen.com/news/article_7af93346-522c-11e7-a23b-9f7499cc03fa.html

      He is an “in your face” kind of personality. I have my own questions regarding the conclusions he reached using small number data on the Idaho wolf-cattle conflict issue. Love to see how all this plays with a judge or jury as fact finder in his up coming legal adventure, and then there is the UW researcher conclusions analyzing some of the same data, which disagrees with his. It is said that science is self-correcting, and I guess Wielgus doesn’t believe that when it comes to criticism of HIS work. I have always been skeptical of his objectivity as a scientist.

      http://idahostatejournal.com/outdoors/does-killing-wolves-actually-increase-livestock-attacks/article_26bff6ea-6168-5826-b372-4f0c150e45b4.html

      Looks like the Sherman pack has discovered cows make easy meals too: http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2017/jun/16/sherman-pack-wolves-kill-ferry-county-cattle-state-confirms/

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        Wielgus said District 7 Rep. Joel Kretz also requested that Wielgus be investigated for scientific misconduct for his 2014 paper on wolf livestock depredations. He said the WSU Department of Mathematics and Statistics exonerated him of misconduct after two professors analyzed his data and reached the same conclusion.

        However, Wielgus said due to defamation by the university, he is unable to obtain grants.

        “Basically, my lab is shut down,” he said. “I used to bring in above half a million dollars a year.”

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2016/07/20/do-you-have-some-interesting-wildlife-news-july-20-2016-edition/#comment-511491

        WM says:

        August 31, 2016 at 6:34 pm
        Sure looks like Dr. Rob Wielgus at Washington State University stepped into some wolf poopie when making incorrect statements to the press and others about the facts leading up to the Profanity Pack removal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a defamation lawsuit from the livestock operator, if he thought it was worth the effort. The University is not happy about this and is scrambling to distance itself from him, as are wolf conservation groups, including Conservation Northwest, HSUS and several others. No doubt he has been to the Dean’s Office over this:

        +

        I wonder if Wielgus made any kind of rebuttal after their paper was published?

        Here is the paper from the University of Washington researchers, and they don’t hold much back. The first two paragraphs under the Discussion Heading give it to Wielgus with both barrels, so to speak:

        And the third paragraph is the final blow.

        “The failure of our attempt to reproduce the results using the same data and following more rigorous statistical procedures casts doubt on the reliability and validity of the conclusions drawn from the Wielgus and Peebles’s [1] models.”

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        http://www.dailyevergreen.com/news/article_0c138836-d9cf-11e5-be25-638dfcd15c5b.html

        “WSU, UW research clashes”

        However, Wielgus is confident in his methodology.

        “As time went on and the years progressed, all these wolves in all these states increased,” Wielgus said. “The number of livestock at risk increased, the number of depredations increased, the numbers of wolves killed increased. They put in year, which is auto-correlated with all those other variables so their analysis found that year had the biggest effect on livestock depredations.”

        He said that by doing this and using time as the control variable they were ignoring a larger issue.

        “Year doesn’t really mean anything,” Wielgus said. “And they found that oh, in addition, the more wolves you kill the fewer livestock depredations you get. Their same analysis showed that the number of wolves has no effect whatsoever on number of livestock depredations, so their analysis was biologically impossible.”

        So because they used year as a control variable, it was auto-correlated with everything, which means that none of the other parameters such as number of wolves and breeding pairs that Wielgus mentioned can be interpreted.

        “None of the UW researchers in this study were biologists, so they have never analyzed this kind of data,” Wielgus said. “Well they re-analyzed my data set and instead of controlling for the number of wolves they put in year as the control variable.”

        Wielgus said the UW researcher knew this was a problem, and he along with other reviewers pointed it out and the UW researchers chose to ignore it.

        “These folks [and WM for that matter, I would add] are incompetent amateurs that don’t know what they’re doing,” Wielgus said.

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        http://www.seeker.com/washington-wolf-cull-wont-save-livestock-1993960060.html

        “Washington Wolf Cull Won’t Save Livestock: Study”

        But here’s the thing: lethal interventions don’t have a record of working, said Adrian Treves, director of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

        Today, Treves and his colleagues present analysis (PDF here) in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment of an exhaustive investigation of numerous studies centered on methods to prevent wolves, coyotes, bears and big cats from killing livestock.

        An overwhelming number of experiments looking at ways to reduce predators from taking livestock do not measure up to a “gold” or even “silver” standard of scientific scrutiny, the researchers found. Of the ones that did, nonlethal methods had a better track record and none of them led to more livestock losses. But lethal methods sometimes did.

        For that reason, the team recommends that wildlife agencies suspend campaigns like the one going on in Washington and apply more stringent criteria to future control efforts. If followed, these recommendations could keep more livestock and wildlife living and save taxpayer money.

        … Although they limited the findings to those published in English and conducted in North America and Europe, they amassed a paper mountain of more than 500 articles.

        Of those, only 12 met a high level of scrutiny.

        Interestingly, none of the studies that met a silver or gold standard came from the USDA’s Wildlife Services

        “They have a big research arm funded for 40 or 50 years and they can’t seem to do any quality work,” said Robert Crabtree, chief scientist and founder of Yellowstone Ecological Research Center. “Shouldn’t someone take a look at what’s going on here and evaluate the millions of dollars spent for decades trying to justify lethal control?”

        Of the 12 studies that did hold up to scrutiny, five were non-lethal experiments and seven were lethal.

        When Treves and his colleagues looked at which methods were the best at keeping predators away from livestock, nonlethal came out on top: 80% were shown to be effective compared to 29% of lethal strategies.

        “Nonlethal methods seem to repel the predators without disrupting the social organization of the predators,” said Treves. “Disrupting the social organization by killing long-term resident predators seems to invite newcomers that prey on livestock more than did the older residents that were there before.”

        But not every rancher wants to invest the time, money or personnel into nonlethal methods. In 2012, Washington used $76,500 of state funds to eliminate the eight members of the Wedge Pack. It’s unknown how much it will cost to kill all 11 members of the Profanity Peak pack. (Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife did not respond to requests for an interview.)

        “If lethal control was unsubsidized on public lands, meaning the rancher had to pay [for it], the phone would be ringing off the hook in terms of people wanting to understand nonlethal methods and how to reduce depredation,” said Bean.

        In large parts of America, getting ranchers to adopt nonlethal strategies is a struggle. Ranching is part of their livelihood, a tradition passed down through the generations. And in an industry where profit margins are tight, trying something different might pose too large of a risk.

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        I have my own questions regarding the conclusions he reached using small number data on the Idaho wolf-cattle conflict issue.
        +++

        stop babbling as you are out of your mind and your memory is not serving you

        Wielgus is only one researcher among many who trigger WM to spit venom (J.Vucetich / Rolf Peterson / R. Beschta / W. Ripple / C.Eisenberg etc)

        • avatar Nancy says:

          “In large parts of America, getting ranchers to adopt nonlethal strategies is a struggle. Ranching is part of their livelihood, a tradition passed down through the generations.

          And in an industry where profit margins are tight, trying something different might pose too large of a risk”

          I’m not so sure the “tight profit margins” applies these days, given how many ranches, just in my area alone, have increased their product/cattle numbers and grazing areas, to accommodate their growing herds.

          Areas that were sagebrush, have been plowed under to encourage grasses.

          But this paragraph sums it up! Thanks for the links, Mareks.

          Anyone actually concerned about what’s left of wildlife AND wild places, needs to educate themselves about the growing effects of a century of livestock grazing:

          http://www.humanedecisions.com/hunting-and-the-war-on-wildlife/

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            Ugh. I always assumed those coyote hunting contest photos couldn’t have been real, but augmented with photo shop or something. It’s just pure, unadulterated blood lust and those photos need to be shown far and wide so that people are made aware of what this truly is. A modern, civilized society’s government should not condone this.

            I agree with you about the constant lament of profit loss not applying these days, since the current administration has expanded beef exports.

        • avatar WM says:

          Mareks, if you going to accuse me of spitting venom, at least get the names correct. Rolfe Peterson was not among them, though Vucetich was only because he has difficulty separating his role as a scientist from an advocate.

          • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

            as I have said – memory is not serving you correctly.

            when discussion about Isle Royale popped-up you regularly was bitching about Rolf Peterson’s ‘funding issue’ & ‘waste of money’

            • avatar WM says:

              Mareks,

              If what you say is true about my faulty memory on critique of Rolf Peterson and studies at Isle Royale is true, I will retract. Quite frankly, I don’t have the motivation or energy to look for it. I have said, if I recall correctly (faulty memory and all as you allege), that ultimately something needs to be done – infuse more new genetic material into the population or let these poor wolves die out quickly on their own. Is that something to spend a lot of money or not, and for what purpose? There was a good article in National Geographic a couple years back on this, as well as the periodic reports out. And, yes, studying this did remind me of the secret island of Dr. Moreau, in the sense that there is a sort of sick irony in the studies themselves. It is playing itself out – in this isolated petri dish. What is there to learn here?

              That, of course, has also been a topic for many to comment on as the future of wolves on Isle Royale NP has been very publicly discussed in the EIS process as alternate wolf futures there have been proposed. I kind of like the idea of a fresh start. I also think Vucetich was disingenuous in his early testimony on the NRM wolf litigation by raising the issue of lack of genetic diversity in that population, notwithstanding the ability to easily increase genetic diversity it with trans-location (afterall that is ho the NRM got most of its initial population anyway).

              Hey, good to see you are reading my ill-formulated opinions, Mareks. You don’t have to, of course. The sniping is a bit borin, though. As for the Evergreen article (a campus college newspaper with cub reporting), there is probably a lot going on within WDFW and WSU that we don’t know about. Maybe it will come out if Weilgus follows thru with litigation. It would be interesting to know either way, but I’m thinking Weilgus is the sort of guy who doesn’t play nicely with others. I’m also guessing his relationship with WDFW (a source of his funding over time, from what I recall on the cougar studies), has soured considerably.
              ——-

              Immer, “did McIrvin throw a monkey-wrench…?,” Yes, that would be good to know. Wasn’t there something about the ranchers’ historic use of range, location of salt licks, etc. that came into play? 5 WDFW funded range riders, and all that. Increased producer costs of accommodating wolves, promises from WDFW on follow-thru in predation incidents, and a bunch more? You are absolutely right, it sure would be nice to see it all laid out and know the true facts before drawing conclusions. I tend, however, to lean toward the WDFW staff’s view of things – and Weilgus even wants to name one or more in his legal complaint for defamation. I have been around some scientists who think they are right and righteously so, and who get indignant if their work is challenged, and if funding sources don’t continue to give them money (I have specific recollections of one self-promoting Harvard trained consulting scientist from years ago who still gnaws at my brain – after telling everybody, including other reputable scientists who disagreed with him they were incompetent and the funding sources needed to give him, and him alone, money for his passion. He was later proved wrong). Go for it and let’s see how it sorts out, file the suit Dr. Weilgus!

          • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

            small number data on the Idaho wolf-cattle conflict issue
            +++

            so, when you will elaborate on ‘small number data’ from ‘Idaho’?

            lol

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          WM,
          I guess, in the world of science, advocation is the first step toward bias. Caribou expert Bergerud, and Geist come to mind on the other side. Wolf debate seems to be dying down a bit… Wielgus, I’m still not familiar enough with everything that has gone on around him. I think I need a day or two (next round of monsoons up here) to gather all the info pro/con on him. The little bit I am aware of, it seems as though he is pretty passionate about conflict resolution-so many say wolves and livestock are completely incompatible-and he is striving to prove that wrong, or at least working towards methodologies that can bring the slightest degree of harmony in this oft debated topic. Did McIrvin throw a monkey wrench into what Wielgus was working on, or not? In Wielgus case, is his advocacy for wolves, or his work?

          As always, I respect what you right, and the above is in no way meant as a challenge.
          Happy Trails

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            write…

          • avatar Nancy says:

            You probably have this discussion, Immer but if not. Excellent Q & A. Can also access each speaker’s presentation from the site:

            http://www.conservationnw.org/news/updates/wolf-science-panel-at-the-university-of-washington

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              Thanks Nancy. I’ve not seen many of these complete discussions as my data package until just recently has been too low. Now, supposedly unlimited.

              Two salient things I pick up from this presentation.
              1. That it actually occurred. Think back 40-50’years ago and earlier, these sorts of presentations never occurred as they were both logistically impossible, and for lack of a better reason, so few folks actually studied wolves or had data on them. Now that these presentations are made, education and tolerance (on both sides) can hopefully take seed. Which leads into

              2 At about the 52 minute mark Doug Smith hit the nail on the head when asked a question about the development of complexity in wolf packs. He stated the rather obvious, that wolves are very social, travel over wide areas, and kill (that’s how they make their living, and what gets them in trouble). Sociability- he brought up Gordon Haber and what Haber was finding in Alaska, and what Smith himself was finding in Yellowstone, when wolf packs are left alone, more complexity develops. You could see he almost wanted to say the “culture” develops, but didn’t. In Haber’s “Among Wolves” culture is discussed, and unfortunately, with Haber’s death, Haber’s was not able to articulate this himself.

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                when wolf packs are left alone, more complexity develops.
                +++

                no wonder considering wolf’s lifespan and pack size in YNP vs heavily harvested wolf populations

                +++

                Yellowstone Wolf Facts
                https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/ys-24-1-yellowstone-wolf-facts.htm

                AVERAGE LIFE SPAN (YNP): 4-5 years

                AVERAGE LIFE SPAN (OUTSIDE YNP): estimated 2-3 years

                OLDEST WOLF KNOWN IN YNP: 12.5 years – 478F of the Cougar Creek pack

                PROPORTION OF POPULATION >5 YEARS OLD: 18%

                AVERAGE PACK SIZE (YNP): 9.8

                CAUSES OF MORTALITY IN ADULTS (YNP): natural causes 77% (intraspecific 42%, natural unknown 15%, interspecific 8%, malnutrition 5%, other 4%, disease 3%); human causes 17% (harvest 7%, vehicle 6%, illegal 2%, control 1%, other 1%); unknown causes 6%

                CAUSES OF MORTALITY IN ADULTS (GYE): human causes 77%;natural causes 23%

              • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

                ‘indiviidual wolves do matter’ – Doug W Smith
                +++

                is there some paper about that or is it just an unpublished observation?

                • avatar Immer Treue says:

                  Smith was onto something with the Yellowstone wolves, as was Haber in Alaska with the wolves of Denali. At least in Haber’s book “Among Wolves” compiled by someone else from his notes, he hinted at “culture” among wolves. In a question and answer that Nancy posted for me a week or so ago, Smith was keen on the concept of you have that one or two wolves that will get into trouble, and if a way can be found to identify and take them out…

  9. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    From the article:

    “In case you’re wondering whether this concern is all a liberal fantasy, consider a May 2017 letter to Zinke by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Mead and Hickenlooper served as co-chairs of the Sage Grouse Task Force.

    “We understand that you are considering changing the department’s approach to sage grouse, moving from a habitat management model to one that sets population objectives for the states,” the letter reads. “We are concerned that this is not the right decision.””

    Going by the numbers only, and not protecting habitat doesn’t sound like a good idea. Game-farming and captive breeding go against the wild. As the writer said, if Governor Mead doesn’t like it, it must be bad. 🙁

    An analysis done for Back Country Hunters and Anglers (I don’t know if this has already been posted) finds that:

    “Only a fraction of greater sage grouse habitat is capable of producing energy of any kind, now or in the future, with 79 percent of areas with medium to high potential for energy development falling outside of grouse habitat, according to a report released today by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.”

    http://www.backcountryhunters.org/bha_report_finds_sage_grouse_energy_development_can_coexist

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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."

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