Gillet trying again to get wolf removal initiative on Idaho ballot.

New effort to banish wolves from Idaho/ Sponsor of thwarted initiative to try again. By John Miller. AP

Anti-wolf activist Ron Gillet of Stanley, Idaho is going to try again to get enough signatures to put an anti-wolf initiative on the Idaho ballot. According to John Miller’s article, the proposed ballot initiative calls for the state to end all wolf recovery efforts and to remove “all wolves reintroduced into Idaho from Canada to the extent allowed by law.”

If passed, it would violate the Endangered Species Act, and wolf management would pass back to the federal government.

Gillet’s last attempt failed miserably due to lack of valid signatures. He has more time for this effort.

My view is that getting this on the ballot may be a good idea because Idahoans are never given a chance to show how they really feel about wolves. The politicians won’t let them. I think it would be defeated handily, and if not, the wolf would be relisted and the threat of a massive state run, helicopter-based, wolf population slaughter would end.



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  1. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    I actually can’t wait to sign this petition. My guess is that they’re probably not going to set up shop outside the Boise Co-Op with all the other summertime petition gatherers. It will be interesting to watch this latest stunt unfold…

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    I’d be happy to sign while visiting my mother in Boise later this year. And that’s just what this is: a stunt.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    From what I’ve read about Ron Gillette over in Idaho, I doubt it’s a stunt; he is a true believer. Further, I agree that it would be a good thing to have such an initiative on the ballot. I believe it would fail miserably and that failure would put public support for wolf recovery in its proper perspective. I would like to see such an initiative on the ballot here in Wyoming, but the State Legislature has made it impossible for any initiative meet the draconian criteria for going on the ballot. This is due to legislators’ backlash against a term limits ballot initiative that succeeded some years back.

  4. Alan Gregory Avatar

    A true believer, ugh? Well, we’ve seen what true believers support (e.g., What salmon? The dams must stay). I agree, Robert. I assume that the “draconian criteria” you reference is “number of petitioners” or “petition signatures?”

  5. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    When he tried this last year the Idaho Atty. Gen. said he didn’t think such an initiative was legal.

  6. Dave Avatar

    I think Idaho should have a get rid of Ron Gillette initiative on the ballot.

  7. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The Wyoming State Legislature created a constitutional amendment on the criteria for ballot initiatives that was impossible to understand and still passed. In essence, to get an initiative on the ballot in Wyoming, you have to get 2/3 of the registered voters in each of 2/3 of the 23 counties of Wyoming. When you parse that out, it’s clearly impossible to achieve, which was the intent of our illustrious legislators. They took having term limits forced on them by the people very hard.

    When I say true believer, I mean an absolute fundamentalist. However, we shouldn’t get rid of them. We should let them openly be the fools that they are. A damn fool can be your best weapon.

  8. Dave Avatar

    Ron, I couldnt agree with you more!

  9. Erin Miller Avatar

    Whatever comes of this, wolves won’t be protected fully forever, lawsuits- things violating the endangered species act… will only put it off for a short while, they can’t be on ‘the list’ for eternity. Neither Gillett nor anti-wolf people are the only ones pulling ‘stunts’ all the time.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Look at it this way. If elk became almost extinct in the United States, they would go on the Endangered Species List like wolves did.

    I should note that several sub-species of elk are extinct.

    People would insist on elk recovery. They wouldn’t say, “well go to Canada if you want to see elk.”

    With the elk recovery underway, no one would say “well 1200 elk in parts of 3 states is fine”. They would insist on a wider distribution and certainly firm guarantees that the elk would not be reduced to 300 or 400 elk by the states after delisting of the elk.

    Of course, this is not what Gillet is proposing anyway. He is like, analogous to, someone saying “kill all the elk.”

  11. Erin Miller Avatar

    Comparing elk to wolves is like, well, you know… fruit. Very different effects (yes they have effects, but very different effects) on things like livestock, & other wildlife.

    Hardly the same, hardly.

  12. Erin Miller Avatar

    What I’m saying is no one will ever be able to prevent another wolf from being killed, legally or otherwise. Gillet is an extremist on the anti end of the wolf issue, and there are extremists on the pro side too. Both pull ‘stunts’ and they’re all a joke.

  13. Dave Avatar

    How did this world work before people policed the ecosystem?

  14. Erin Miller Avatar

    Mother nature had complete control and things were therefore balanced. I hope someday she’ll have had enough and right things.

  15. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    There seem to be few states with such an entrenched political oligarchy as Wyoming.

    It may be for the good if AG and ENERGY have that big all out fight. Maybe someone else will gain influence in the rubble.

  16. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Just heard that Ron is going to try his ballot measure again. I doubt he’ll get the signatures as he didn’t come close the last time.

    On the other hand, maybe this latest crusade will keep him on the road and out of Stanley for much of the next 16 months. And the local wolves can eat elk without Ron trying to approach with his .22 rifle.

    This happened in May 2006. You can read “Wolf dines near Stanley, interrupts slack season in tiny mountain town” at:

    The recent AP story says RG is a big game outfitter, but he isn’t anymore, and he sold his day float river business a few years back. Some outfitters I know cringe when the press keeps saying he’s one of them.

    There’s a far more serious threat/enemy to wolves and that’s the slicked-up group called Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.

  17. Jim Avatar

    Erin is right when she says that wolves and elk have different effects on livestock–elk and other ungulates have a greater negative impact on livestock as they eat billions of dollars of feed nationwide yearly. This has been documented. So save a cow – kill an elk.

    If Gillette’s initiative passed how many wolves would be killed? None I believe. He says he wants all the wolves brought in from Canada to be removed and those ones are all dead. Their offspring remain, which means, as they were born there, or born to wolves who were born there, they are true Idahoans. I encountered this attitude alot when I lived in ID. I wasn’t born there so I wasn’t a true Idahoan and didn’t belong. Not that it upset me not being able to fit in and I did d leave on my own, but some of those wolf families are several generations old and are actually “truer” Idahoans than most of the people.

  18. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Perhaps we’re getting off subject but I don’t put much faith in this alleged Ag-Energy split in Wyoming. Both are the traditional oligarchies of Wyoming politics and to a certain extent, rely upon each other to maintain their power and privileges.

    The Stockgrowers and the Farm Bureau–which truly don’t represent the rank and file rancher and farmer–are as thick as thieves with the minerals industry where profit is concerned. Many members of the Stockgrowers benefit financially from minerals production on their large ranches. This is especially true in the Powder River Basin. The rank and file ag folks have no representation in any of these disputes from the Stockgrowers or the Farm Bureau,which is why the Powder River Basin Resource Council, which is very much a grass roots rancher organization is filling such a political niche. The challenges to coal bed methane extraction and its environmental impacts is largely coming through the PRBRC, same with the proposed DME railroad through eastern Wyoming to the coal mines of the Powder River Basin.

    The Stockgrowers has already made several serious compromises, which could have been predicted, in an eminent domain bill with the minerals and railroad industry for a bill to be introduced in the upcoming Wyoming General Session. Many small landowners are furious with these compromises.

    If there is a split, I expect it to be within the livestock/ag industry, between the rank and file ranchers and the oligarchic and arrogant Wyoming Stockgrowers Association. I myself would welcome such a split–anything to weaken the Stockgrowers. It is the most corrupt organization in Wyoming.

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Well with luck, something like the Johnson County War will take place. 😉 That was the last time the small ranchers and farmers stood up for themselves in Wyoming, and it changed the political composition of the state for some time.

    If I remember correctly the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association set out to kill as many “rustlers” (small operators) as possible in Johnson County, but the Stockgrowers got trapped and had to be rescued by the feds, courtesy of the Republican Party which was in power in Washington at the time. Much of the state became Democratic for a generation thereafter.

  20. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The Johnson County War was the defining moment in Wyoming political history. In 1893, the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association recruited (mostly from Texas), equipped, and deployed a mercenary force to murder local ranchers, farmers, cowboys, and lawmen in Johnson County who were threatening the large ranchers’ control of the range. The pretext of the operation was to take care of rustlers. There was no doubt some rustling going on, but the real issue was the competition for grass, land, and water–as it is now with livestock politics associated with bison and elk, for example.

    The mercenary force killed a couple of cowboys, but it had poor operational security and the force was later surrounded at the TA Ranch by the locals, who were unhappy. They themslves weren’t too organized, and it took them a while to come up with the tactic of setting a wagon on fire and pushing it down to the ranchhouse to burn the mercenaries out. However, one of the mercenaries had escaped and alerted the Stockgrowers, who turned to State Governor Asa Barber, who was in on the raid, to appeal to the feds for help. The 6th Cavalry literally arrived at the Ranch as the wagon was being set on fire. The mercenaries were arrested and carted off to Cheyenne, where they were released on their own recognizance and gradually slipped away. No one was ever prosecuted for the raid.

    Things haven’t changed much in Wyoming politics. The mercenaries now reside in the State Legislature, the State Governor’s office, and the State agencies. It’s still a 19th century government.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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