Wolves, women's sports not worth much says ID Fish & Game Commission Chief as wolf tag fee is set

Boise. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission met today amidst an audience dominated by wolf supporters, but no public comments were allowed.

They set a price of $26.50 for a wolf tag. In explaining the low fee for the tag the commission chair said that wolves may not ever generate money, “kinda like women’s sports.”

The commissioners were debating whether they could make money off of selling wolf tags, and the chair said that’s a hook that we could somehow. . because I don’t ever see this critter ever being like some of our big game where it pays its own way. It’s kinda like women’s sports you know. You need football to kinda pay the bill.”

Update. Thanks to Brian Ertz, here is a video of the sexist commissioner’s comment on You Tube. The person speaking is Jim Caswell, head of the governor’s Office of Species Conservation. The species office is, according to some displacing the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. It being yet another forum for the extractive industry. The voice in background is Cameron Wheeler, head of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

There will be ten “commissioner’s tags” reserved. These will be special wolf tags for the commissioners.

Below is the news release from the Idaho Dept. and Fish and Game. The release does not mention that a special “governor’s tag” was also established.

Before any hunting can take place, the Idaho Legislature must change the law and the wolf must be delisted. The delisting rule will appear in the Federal Register on Monday, next week.

Here is the news release from Idaho Fish and Game.

News Release
Contact: Niels Nokkentved

For Immediate Release

Wolf Report: Planning for Wolf Hunts

If changes in state law, recommended by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, are enacted by the state Legislature, it would cost $26.50 for a tag to hunt wolves in Idaho once they are removed from the endangered species list.

The Commission will ask the Legislature to change state statutes to allow the commission to authorize wolf hunts, so if wolves are removed from the endangered species list the department would be prepared to set hunts and sell tags. The federal government has said it plans to initiate the delisting process this month. An actual hunting season on wolves could be months or years away depending on the outcome of that process.

Commissioners Thursday, January 25, approved recommended changes to three statutes that would authorize the commission to issue tags and set fees. The commissioners also agreed to ask for up to 10 special commissioners’ wolf tags, and to set the price of a resident wolf tag at $26.50 and a nonresident tag at $256.

Hunters also must purchase an Idaho hunting license.

In addition, the commissioners proposed an increase in the price of black bear and mountain lion tags to make them the same amount as wolf tags, and the same amount as lion tags were until 2000 – $26.50 for resident tags and $256 for nonresident tags.

For the changes to be approved this year in time for the possibility of wolf delisting this fall, the proposed changes must be submitted as proposed legislation by early February.

Meanwhile, Fish and Game officials are working on a wolf hunting and species management plan under the guidelines of the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that would reduce wolf numbers in areas of conflict and try to stabilize numbers across the rest of the state.

Any hunting seasons must be approved by the commissioners.

Large carnivore coordinator Steve Nadeau has assembled a planning team that includes the Fish and Game wildlife staff members and wolf specialist. The public will be involved at various levels throughout the planning process.

Fish and Game officials expect to have a final plan for hunting delisted wolves in Idaho ready for Commission approval in November.

Idaho has never had a hunting season on wolves. They were killed off across most of their range in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. By the time they were listed as an endangered species in 1974, they were reduced to a small population in the northeastern corner of Minnesota and Isle Royale, Michigan.

In 1995, a federal reintroduction program brought 35 wolves to Idaho. Today, officials estimate about 650 wolves in 71 packs, and 41 or more breeding pairs inhabit Idaho.



Reacting to the Commission meeting, Nate Helm, executive director for the organization “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho” emailed his supporters:

In a quick and drama free way the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commissioners voted to set the pricing for wolf tags for sportsmen.

The Commission’s efforts come as an effort to ensure that when delisting comes they are prepared to offer the tags and have all of the authorization needed to do so.

They recommended statutory changes to include the wolf along side bears and lions in pricing. Their recommendations go to the legislature for that body’s opportunity to make it “official”.

In addition to the authority to sell tags the Commission will be asking for the authority to offer up to ten (10) “Commissioner’s tags” for use by them in offsetting their wolf management costs.

Steve Nadeau, State Large Carnivor Manager, told Commissioners that the first tag could have tremendous appeal.

The meeting was dominated by the pro-wolf crowd who used cameras to capture the meetings proceedures from a number of angles.

I expect we will hear more on this topic as the recommendation is printed and heard in legislative committees.

I think it goes without saying that SFW-Idaho is eager to transition from management under the ESA (no management) to state management where sportsmen can play a role.




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  1. kt Avatar


    The Idaho Statesman has an article.

    http://www.idahostatesman.com/110/story/68880.html .

    BUT it too omits any mention of the Governor’s Tag, which figured prominently in discussion at the beginning of the meeting yesterday, including in a slide presentation on a screen. It was at the top of the list, and it was discussed.

    The Statesman also omits mention of Commission head Wheeler’s analogy about wolves not paying their way like women’s sports.

    And this statement coming from the head of a Commission that is supposed to represent all the people of Idaho, yet is composed entirely of late middle-aged white men. I was seated near other wolf supporters. our jaws just dropped when he said that.

    And it omits mentions of Wheeler referring to wolves at one point if not more, as “those things”.

    Given all the outcry across the country, and beyond, over Otter at the Sportsmen rally on the Capitol steps, I think after the meeting yesterday, Fish and Game and the Commissioners knew they made a serious mistake by laying out their plans for a Governors Wolf Kill Tag right out of the starting gate. So it was scrubbed from any Press Release. And somehow scrubbed from the Statesman article.

    If anyone wonders why Idaho is so backwards and run by rabid rightwing fanatics, it’s partly because of the happy spin so many times that the Statesman, the local NPR, and most other media put on events. Wouldn’t want do anything to discourage folks from moving here and buying lots of their advertisers stuff, or anything.

  2. Layton Avatar

    Hey — kt,

    You are always one to point out that I don’t belong on this blog because (heaven help us) I have a dissenting opinion ——-

    Why do you live in this “backward state run by righwing fanatics” and, oh yeah, and they have a game commission “composed entirely of late middle-aged white men”??

    Just curious. Unlike you, I DO believe that you have a right to any opinion that you choose to have and should be able to live where you want, but you must be miserable 24/7 to have to live here under those conditions.

    What dedication!!



  3. Demarcatedlandscapes Avatar

    Looks like today’s the day:

    From: fws-news@lists.fws.gov [mailto:fws-news@lists.fws.gov] On Behalf Of
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    Contact: David Eisenhauer, 202-208-5634

    (WASHINGTON) – Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett and U.S. Fish and
    Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall will hold a telephone press
    conference at 1:30 p.m. EST on January 29, 2007 to make major announcements
    related to the status of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes and
    Northern Rocky Mountain regions under the Endangered Species Act.

    Who: Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall

    What: Telephone press conference on status of gray wolves in the
    Western Great Lakes
    and Northern Rocky Mountains

    When: 1:30 p.m. EST, January 29, 2007

    Call-in: Reporters may call in 1-888-426-8929. The passcode is
    “Wolf.” (Credentialed media only)

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  4. Warren Avatar

    Layton, you are a nature hater. I’ve seen you shoot yourself in the foot many times. You should be ashamed for hating the earth so much.
    I’ve got no respect for your kind.

  5. kt Avatar

    Oh! demarcatedlandscapes shows us that there was a little dance of perhaps deception at the IDFG Commission meeting yesterday. Trying to get everybody to take THIS Friday afternoon off.

    Caswell mentioned at least a couple of times at the meeting that the big De-Listing would be the end of next week. BUT at another point – and I didn’t write down who said this – either he or the Idaho Office of Species Conservation attorney, stated: “We’re good to go”.

    Of course, Caswell is completely in the pipeline. The Office of Species
    Conservation was set up by Dirk Kempthorne after he became Governor of Idaho when he returned to Idaho after being a Senator where he had tried – and failed – to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

    Kempthorne appointed Caswell, and the OSC has been sucking in federal funds to Idaho to thwart ESA listing (slickspot peppergrass) while aiding the Bush anti-environment Fish and Wildlife Service in finding reasons not to list species. OSC also sucks in federal funds for “management” of listed species. Maybe someone could explain the details?

    In 2006, Kempthorne goes off to DC to become Secretary of the Interior, and the Republican anointed Otter gets elected Governor and comes out raving against wolves. Now today we get an announcement of a De-Listing Press conference this afternoon. Just a day after the Fish and Game meeting
    laid out the path for Wolf Tag sales sailing through the state legislature.

    Also, at the IDFG meeting yesterday, the Fish and Game Attorney Dallas Burkhalted (sp?) was not present. They said he was over at the legislature.

    Cameron Wheeler, the Commission head, called on the opinion of the lawyer from OSC to give legal vetting to the Fish and Game Commission’s actions at one point.

    This is of concern (at least symbolically), because one can imagine that OSC, and its livestock and timber and mining and anti-ESA bias, may be extending its tentacles even further into management of the state’s wildlife, which by law is supposed to be the domain of the ever-more-repressed IDFG.

    Who knows – maybe the OSC WROTE the wolf de-listing. At the very least, they have likely vetted every word in it, and changed what they didn’t like. At least that’s my reading of the tea leaves.

  6. Demarcatedlandscapes Avatar

    Actually if I were able to read a calendar I would not have posted that statement. Today is the 26th and the press conference is not till Monday. Sorry.

  7. Layton Avatar


    Recess is over now, go back to your dream catching. Smile, be ethereal.



  8. Warren Avatar

    Yes Layton, and you are so brave as to not give any information about yourself besides your ignorance, and your hatred of nature. And my dislike of you has nothing to do with this topic.

  9. kristoffer Avatar

    I think anyone is entitled to a love-hate relationship with this state. Having lived in every region (North, Western, and Eastern) I know there are MANY here who wish we didn’t have wolves. I happen to love that we do have wolves again. But, we are on our way to a yo-yo effect of listing and de-listing if these tags become reality.

  10. be Avatar

    anyone interested in watching a 2 minute video that includes the quote regarding wolves being like women’s sports can see it:

  11. Kim Avatar

    I agree with Kristoffer. when the wolves wer irradicated to almost exstintion the last time it upset the balance of the ecosystem so badly that there were tremendous losses in all species.. now that they are on the rise again people are afraid of them and well i have my own opinions .. because of being one who has done wolf rescue and rehab its hard to watch them be killed for no reason except fear.

  12. Eric T. Avatar
    Eric T.

    Help, the paranoids are after me!

  13. Kim Avatar

    Who is paranoid??

  14. Layton Avatar

    Gosh Warren,

    You don’t like me cuz’ you think I hate nature and I don’t know much.

    And you (according to another post on this blog) don’t like Mormons cuz’ you think they cause republicans.

    Does that mean I’m in pretty good company?


  15. Cal Avatar

    I am confused…

    What were the original wolf recovery goals? Last I saw it was 100 wolves/10 packs.

    When were the recovery goals achieved? 2001-2002, almost 5 years ago

    How many wolves do we have in Idaho today? Estimates are 650, anybody that spends a significant amount of time in the mountains of Idaho knows its probably twice that!

    The recover goals have been met many times over, so educate me as to why the wolves should not be de-listed?

    I will offer free math lessons to those in need…

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The goals were a minimum of 10 breeding pairs (not the same as packs)in all three states, for 3 years in a row. The wolves were supposed to also be well distributed.

    All three states needed to also have wolf conservation plans accepted by the federal government as adequate to maintaining the recovered population.

    Wyoming does not have such a plan, and refuses to produce it.

    I think a 2-state delisting will be found to be illegal.

    Although this is my opinion, I think the current wolf population is just fine, at its peak, and will soon decline of its accord as it has done in Yellowstone.

    Wolf hunting might be OK, but Idaho’s governor is interested, not in a hunt, but a big reduction, called a “hunt.”

    A lot of people don’t like that. I would like to have Idahoans have a vote on the matter. Maybe they’d endorse it and maybe not.

    Ralph (in Pocatello)

  17. kt Avatar

    Ralph has a good idea on the vote.

    But I also think there is something rotten to the core about how the Commissioners are selected. Perhaps a legal person could look up the relevant section of the Idaho code. My understanding is that the Governor appoints them. Other than that …

    If folks are offended by the statement that they are middle-aged white males – just think about it. It’s that there is not a single deviation from that theme. And unless I am sorely mistaken, they are all big game hunters. Yet, these are the people who determine the fate of all the state’s wildlife. They determine if, say, a pygmy rabbit is classified as a “varmint”/pest/whatever with no limits on the number that can be killed, or if it receives some protection. They decide where and how many sage grouse will be hunted. They decide whether a stream is closed to fishing. They oversee EVERYTHING, including the “non-game” species from warblers to bats.

    Likely 51% of Idaho’s population is female, I’m guessing 70% or so of the population is younger than them, and I haven’t looked up the statistics but there is some degree of racial and ethnic diversity in this state.

    The Commission is supposed to make decisions based on the recommendations of Department biologists. But we all know how that plays out In Idaho – and how UNLIKELY it is that sound science will be the basis of IDFG decisions over the next 4 years of Otter.

    And there is a long history of IDFG biologists receiving pressure from Idaho Governors or Commissioners to shut up. For example, during the Democratic admin of Cecil Andrus, there was pressure on IDFG biologists not to speak the whole truth on the Bombing Range. Part of what led to Steve Mealey’s eventual downfall was his muzzling of agency biologists. With the makeup of the current Commission, I can’t see even the worst of Director’s being removed as long as the Director was their puppet.

    How can this system be changed, so that Idaho’s wildlife are addressed in a more balanced way, and sound science prevails?

    Perhaps a Board of out-of-state reviewers of all Decisions? IDFG use a “Team” of 5 or more scientists protected from recrimination? And certainly, a better way to select a Commission is required.

    My own thoughts are: If there are no politics involved in decisionamking, why do we need a Commission at all? If “management” is based on science, there seems no need for a Commission.

  18. be Avatar

    One of the interesting issues at the meeting included the commissioners’ fishing for federal dollars to help the state “manage” the wolves. the statute mandating a “minimum” of 5 years involvement from the FWS after management is handed to the state (no matter how passive that oversight may be) seemed to indicate to them that funds would be potentially available.

    it seems to be another sad example of how the state wants all of the responsibility to manage – other than the financial responsibility. it would be a very sad thing should the state acquire management from the feds –and federal monies to make good on its promises of bloodletting.

    also, the distribution of the tags was interesting. commissioners were privy to want to produce at least 2 tags each to take back to their regions. it will be interesting to see how that plays out…

    regardless – the meeting demonstrated an egregious disregard for any “value” other than the value of producing trophy pelts to bring back to their regions. there was no mention of tag numbers being decided based on population, regional consideration, nothing. they left that to a later date. if this was a serious meeting with thoughtful consideration for the tags one would think they would figure out what they left for later first.

  19. Jordan Avatar

    Ralph – why do you think wolf hunting might be “ok”?

    For the sake of argument I meant it might be tolerable. But this proposal is not for a hunt as the word is commonly used. It is a retreat to primitive thought of the deep past. Ralph

    The thought of Idaho hunters loose on the backcountry with wolf tag in hands is a horrible concept.

    In order to find wolves, hunters who draw or buy a tag and want to be successful are going to have to resort to the same means that exterminated wolves in the first place – baiting in the wolves with dead animals or outright killing them with poison.

    There will be large numbers of white males spending all their free time year around to find wolves. If the hunting season comes in winter, then the great white Idaho hunter will take a lesson from those in Alaska and use airplanes and snowmobiles to kill.

    I live in the heart of wolf country and see a lot of wolves and know how easy it is to follow their tracks and learn their home range. Killing a wolf won’t be hard. I could probably wipe out entire packs here myself using some wolf logic. The state’s plan for wolf hunting will be a bloodpath for wolves.

    It’s time for wolf advocates to stand up and be counted and stop saying wolf hunting is “ok”.

    If you haven’t seen or heard Idaho wolves by now, I guarantee you won’t see any once wolf hunting starts. Unless it’s dead and skinned on an ATV, snowmobile or pickup truck.

    Yah, Wildlife Services killed a bunch of wolves this past year that preyed on livestock. They took wolves that supposedly were culprits. Hunters won’t be that choosy. They’ll shoot anything to get that wolf pelt on the wall and feel like a real man. Or redneck woman.

  20. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The whole meeting was intended to be as offensive to those who value wolves as possible.

    The whole tone of the meeting and the proposal was basically an “up yours” to those Idahoans who value all wildlife, not just those who hunt ungulates. It was an “up yours” to the rest of America.

    People have to face it that the most backwards thinking from Idaho runs both state and national wildlife policy now.

  21. Matthew Murphy Avatar
    Matthew Murphy

    What a great comparison: Idaho wolves and Women’s sports…

    Both are here to stay and have been without our support for too long.

    Both are winning the fight.

    Both are worth supporting.

    Both belong in Idaho.

    Both are part of a healthy and unbiased aproach to Idaho’s values.

    Finally, we have a rational viewpoint from Idaho’s elected officials. I am in SE Idaho and I must say, when I want to see a team win at ISU… I go to a women’s game. Always a better show and result.

  22. Kim Avatar

    what are we supposed do stand in the tree line

  23. kt Avatar

    Well, what is so incredibly sad about this all is that the problems with the Commission and Otters is that this extends way beyond wolves.

    The Commission is so obsessed with fast-tracking a bloody wolf slaughter and setting hunts for big game , that everything else in Idaho is being let slide. For example, the the impacts to wildlife of the bed-down of 10 to 20 Singapore dictatorship Air Force Boeing-built planes at Mountain Home for the next five to twenty years.

    See http://www.wwpblog.com . These planes will overfly down to 100 ft above ground level, practice bomb, sonic boom, and use remote ground ranges in southern idaho. Airspace where flares and overflights will occur extends into Oregon and Nevada. Part of the Singapore training involves sort of a Staging Route, too, over Craters of the Moon and portions of the Boulder White Clouds and Sawtooths.

    Anyone who was in southern Idaho in the 1990s knows the great concern over wildlife popualtions and noise (bighorn sheep, birds) and fires burning up sagebrush from
    Air Force activities.

    SO – we have a long-term Bed-down of the planes of a foreign dictatorship speeding forward – where Idaho is so generously allowing them to aerially invade some of its most spectacular wild land areas and important wildlife habitats – and the Fish and Game Commission is too obsessed with killing wolves for this to raise to the level of even the slightest concern. With 10 Singapore planes, activity is admitted even by the Air Force – to increase 25%, and with 20 planes – likely 50%. And what else is planned, too? Why wasn’t this the subject of a special two day notice IDFG Commission meeting?

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Well you just have to keep saying it, “the wolf issue is a diversion to keep people occupied while someone is looting the community.”

  25. Kim Avatar

    there you go… and what a diversion it is
    … something that is quite known that would have everyone up in arms to keep it going for such a long enough time to do whatever they want as always. .. kill everything and do what they want when they want ,.. what ever happened to for the people by the people… and what happened to the ecosystem thing here there has to be a balance..or idaho will be right back in the same mess it was to begin with.and wolves will not be the only thing extint there.the rest of the wild life will be gone as well. because believe it or not they play a major role in the cycle of the environment… many of you already know this .. but some of you out there seem ignorant to this or just refuse to open your eyes out of fear or greed ..I’m not sure which.

  26. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    People get the government they deserve. Wolves, and the rest of the “undomesticated” species in your state will suffer from BOHICA as long as you don’t use the system to influence votes and elections. How many of you cry babies have written a check to elect someone who will change the political environment?

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t think people necessarily get the government they deserve.

    The average person is systematically confused by the main stream media.

    Studies of those who watch election campaign advertisments on television versus those who watch TV news have found that those who watch the ads know more about the issues than those who watch the TV news!

    The traditional media are that bad, and that’s one reason why the thousands of blogs are one force making a difference. Candidates try to hide their extreme positions and blogs help expose the fact. Butch Otter, for example, had flyers in the mail showing the beauty of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area as an image to pretend he wanted to protect open space. In reality, he has never helped or supported the SNRA. Did the MSM tell the people that? No mention.

    The Internet has also helped democratize campaign giving. The Web makes it much easier for the person who can only give $50.

    Then in addition, a case can be made that the 2000 election was stolen and maybe the 2004 election too.

  28. Jordan Avatar

    To Mike Post –

    Wolf supporters are involved in politics. Obviously you are not from Idaho or you would know this.

    Richard Stallings, former 2nd District Congressman in Idaho, once said at a candidate forum, that a Republican cadaver starts with 49% of the vote in Idaho. In the rural county I live in, it would be 70%.

    Wolf supporters alone aren’t going to change how Idahoans vote. Idaho is the most conservative, most Republican state in the Union.

    Richard Stallings by the way, is now chair of the Democratic party and there were some positive gains in the State Legislature in the Boise area.

    Calling wolf supporters “crybabies” is pretty grade schoolish – have fun playing with your legos!


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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