Wolf delisting to procede with or without Wyoming

Wyoming has until May 1 to come up with an acceptable wolf management plan. However, even without a Wyoming wolf management plan, the wolf will be delisted in Wyoming outside of a corner in the Northwest part of the state. So the politicians will get much of what they want anyway.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide by Cory Hatch.

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  1. Moose Avatar

    This appeared on a Marquette, MI TV station’s website:

    “Three groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington. It says the gray wolf essentially remains endangered in the three states.

    The lawsuit was filed by the Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, and The Animal Protection Institute. ”

    I think this is a bad move that will not help wolves in the long run.

  2. Howard Avatar

    I agree. I think this is a terrible move. Wolves have recovered in the Upper Midwest, public feeling towards them is generally positive, and the states have come up with management plans that treat wolves as native wildlife, not troublesome vermin. This move will do nothing other than anger moderate people and re-enforce the notion that conservationists are politically motivated and have no intention of ever ending federal authority, regardless of what the states do. It is also extremely important to note that the groups suing are Animal Rights groups, NOT normative conservation groups.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I agree too. The wolf is not only recovered in the Upper Midwest, the state management plans are far more even-handed than those of the Western states.

    . . . and Howard thanks for pointing out that the plaintiffs are animals rights groups because many folks who just plain don’t like wolves, bison, bears, or whatever, confuse conservation organizations with animal rights groups.

    This confusion might be deliberate, but I think is more likely due to personal interactions where “outsiders” are all lumped together and given some name.

  4. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    In March, King told Freudenthal that a May 1 deadline was necessary to fulfill obligations in the process such as public comment periods and agency reviews. At the time, King also announced proposed changes that would make it easier for states to kill wolves that harass and kill wildlife during the delisting process. The new rule applies only to states with an “acceptable” management plan and was partly an effort to entice Wyoming into the delisting process.

    On Monday, King said the Fish and Wildlife Service will continue with the changes to the rule and that he expects it to be in effect starting in December.

    Even without a wolf management plan for Wyoming, delisting will occur in south and east Wyoming, where the state would relegate the animals to predator status, meaning they could be killed without a permit using guns, traps or poison.

    These statements seem contradictory to me.
    Could someone help me get a handle on what is truly happening here? I thought they were talking trophy game at one point. Is that a certain portion of the state.
    I hope there is a good turn-out at the meeting on the 19th.
    As this article paints a dismel picture to me.

  5. chris Avatar

    Howard makes a great point that these are not wildlife conservation groups. At least two of the three have the elimination of hunting as one of their goals. I am very opposed to that goal but believe they have a right to pursue that in the right context if they desire. By “right context” I mean not disguised as a lawsuit defending endangered species. The issue of hunting has nothing to do with the Endangered Species Act.

    It is appropriate to question their motives in this lawsuit and also to clarify the differences these groups and their supporters have with most of the wildlife conservation community. It will take alot of effort to keep the anti-wolf crowd from stereotyping us all together. The Great Lakes biologists and general public have laid out a biologically sound, legally effective and well thought out plan for managing delisted wolves. They deserve better than to be sued.

  6. kathy Avatar

    I think that the wolves should remain as endangered in ALL states. The “anti-wolf crowd” appears to be just that, and has used every excuse in attempt to enforce their agenda.
    There are many issues that should be addressed when making considerations for the natural inhabitants, (wolves) such as addressing what should be done about human overpopulation and overdevelopment which not only forces ranchers to produce at such a high rate, but places a natural predators in close proximity. Those issues however, might offend Wyomings politicians…..for obvious reasons.

    The ecology and future generations are the ones who pay for today’s mistakes.
    Throughout history, once a loop-hole has been created there is no stopping the destruction. These natural predators deserve better than to be hunted and killed. Was the lesson not learned before? “Managing” is just a word which has been “prettied up,” but still means no less than allowing the killing to satisfy human greed. “We need to…..”

    I am not an animal rights activist….but in consideration of wolves, I would be whatever necessary to help ensure their protection.
    I sincerely believe in wildlife conservation and have taught my children that valuable lesson in life. If a lawsuit is “not the answer”…. maybe if we all took a different approach and stopped eating BEEF, until the wolf issue is resolved…I know that I would!

  7. Mike Wolf Avatar

    I commented in opposition to delisting in the WGLDPS because the FWS did not make efforts to conserve that which wolves need more than anything: habitat. Wolves will one day be endangered as a result.

    This is not to say I agree with the lawsuits.

    But the courts will decide if the lawsuit has merit.

  8. elkhunter Avatar

    Kathy, your points dont really have any merit, just personnal opinion, correct me if I am wrong, but in the Great Lakes Region conflicts with cattle are not as big of an issue as they are here in the west, so you say you are not an activist, but your comments imply otherwise, cattle is not the root of all evil, and wolves dont solve anything. Delisting should occur once objectives are reached. Everyone keeps trying to paint hunters out to “slaughter” any wolf we see. That wont happen. They will be protected. Will some tags be issued for hunting, absolutely, will that decimate populations. NO. ID will always have wolves. They are here to stay. Will the number always be as high as they are now? Probably not, but the wolves are here to stay. “managment” as you say will take place, you have to realize there are more than just wolf-lovers invovled in this issue, and I know that you think there is no way that you could be wrong, but there are more than just the wolf-lovers that are involved in this thing, everyone will have to give a little, or these costly litigations will go on forever costing millions of dollars, that could go to alot better things.

  9. Jim Avatar

    “Wolves are hear to stay” seems to be the mantra alot of people, those who like or dislike wolves (including USFW biologists and certain wolf advocate groups), are using and trying to force others’ to adopt. Outside of National Parks no where in ID, MT and WY are wolves “there to stay.” With the prevalence of illegal killings and control killings now when wolves have protection I don’t believe for a second that any real attempt to keep more than a remnant population will exist. A few years after they are delisted wolf numbers will be reduced to what they were before the reintroduction program began. Which is nothing or next to nothing.

    The upper midwest and the west can’t be compared because MN, MI and WI generally vote for Democrats in national elections. Whereas people in the west vote for republicans, even when those politicians do not have their best interests in mind. Democrats ands liberals are generally people who things, take positions or support things because they like them. They are in favor of something. Or if they are not in favor of it they will at least allow that the thing can still exist just because others’ may like it or because they not liking it isn’t a good enough reason to take it away from those that do.

    Republican and conservative westerners are the opposite. They are mostly motivated by trying to take away things or because they don’t like certain things. They are only for things so as to oppose certain other things. That is one impression I took away from my time living in the west and also from observing the national and regional political and social discourses–most westerners, conservatives and republicans hate everything.

  10. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Since when do personal opinions have no merit and why why why did “activist” become a dirty word as if “the left” or “wolf lovers” have a corner on that market?????

  11. Vicki Avatar

    Elkhunter, I don’t think that that hunters, in general, will kill off any wolf they see. You know I think that eventually wolves will have to be hunted. But you are wrong to think that they’ll only be listed as a trophy animal, and tags will be issued. That is the very argument before us today… how to list the wolf once they are off the Endangered List. If they are specifically called a trophy game animal, the will be listed as a varmit (just like coyotes) in Wyoming. That makes it legal to shoot them when ever you want. That would be a death sentence for all the wolves outside of Yellowstone, the minute the hit Wyoming. And like it or not, ranchers are who primarily want them dead. Hunters will see the value in a controlled hunting season. I am not saying that all ranchers will hoot anything on four legs. Some actually see the value in having wolves around (for them it means less elk and deer sharing the grazing areas leased to them by BLM>) I too think the wolves other huge obstacle is habitat. But Kathy is right to promote conservation, and it’s right for hunters as well as conservationists. That is why hunters and anglers often promote habitat conservation. But I still disagree with you, wolves do offer answers to many things. You say you aren’t against them, but you oppose them being reintroduced in your area. I still think they are valuable in a number of ways. If you aren’t a cattle rancher, they are even economically valuable. (Some cattle ranchers might assume that due to the mere threat of wolves eating cattle, you could jack up the price of beef. Since the wolves rarely do kill cattle, they’d pocket most of that extra 10 cents per pound.) Just ask the tourism driven businesses in West Yellowstone. I think there is evidence to support that Yellowstone’s trout populations and beavers have benefitted from wolves. But delisting them is just too premature. There isn’t enough info, or preserved habitat, or even a valid plan for their management and survival in place in Wyoming yet. There needs to be.

  12. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I’d like to try to get this thread back on track and answer Denise Johnson’s question: what is actually going on?

    Regarding the recently published FWS delisting proposal, here are the facts. The FWS proposes, in the absence of a Wyoming plan that conforms with the proposal, to delist wolves in all of Wyoming except for a specifically delineated zone in northwest Wyoming that essentially incorporates the area generally understood to be the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, excepting most of the Wyoming and Salt Ranges and part of the Wind River Range. There wolves would remain under the 10j rule under which wolves were reintroduced in 1995.

    Should Wyoming come up with a plan by May 1 that accepts this proposal by classifying the wolf as trophy game in that FWS-delineated zone of NW Wyoming, then wolves would be delisted in all of Wyoming, as well as in Montana and Idaho, with slices of northeastern Utah and eastern Washington thrown in, as a “distinct population segment.”

    At the same time, the State of Wyoming is demanding that the FWS allow the State to kill wolves that are adversely impacting elk and other ungulate herds between now and whenever wolves are delisted; the State refuses to take action on any wolf plan until the FWS capitulates to this demand. (Not that it matters that the FWS has already capitulated to 95 percent of what the State is already demanding).

    The Wyoming Game & Fish Department has recently released a “scientific” report that claims to demonstrate, merely by plotting declining elk cow-calf ratios on graphs, that wolves are responsible for the decline of such ratios in four of eight herds located in wolf-infested areas of NW Wyoming. This report is a scientific embarrassment, put together by a hack biostitute at G&F headquarters in Cheyenne, rewritten from a neutral report put together from a field biologist in NW Wyoming.

    The root problem is that Wyoming’s current dual status law/plan, which currently declares wolves trophy game in Yellowstone National Park and immediately contiguous wilderness areas, as well as Grand Teton National Park, with wolves otherwise classified as predatory animals in the rest of the State, is illegal. It violates both the Endangered Species Act as well as the Final Rule for Reintroduction that was published in November 1994.

    For the longest time, the FWS’s refusal to approve Wyoming’s wolf plan was predicated on the unequivcally indisputable illegality of dual status. However, once Dirk Kempthorne took over at Interior, the FWS has decided, for political reasons, that dual status is OK and Wyoming can shoot wolves as predatory animals in 80 per cent of the State as long as it accepts a slightly larger trophy game area in NW Wyoming.

    In the recent FWS delisting proposal, based upon an “analysis” of the ESA term “significant range” done by the Interior Solicitor’s office (probably by one of Pat Robertson’s law school graduates), the FWS is trying to argue that it is not actually required by the ESA to restore a listed species to its historic range, only to what the FWS decides to define as currently “biologically suitable” range. The latter definition is entirely subjective, that is, political.

    In other words, the FWS argues in the delisting proposal that 80 per cent of the State of Wyoming is not biologically suitable for wolf restoration. As a long-time resident of Wyoming, an elk hunter, a conservationist, and a naturalist, I know this claim to be absolutely false.

    This political reinterpretation of the meaning of a species’ “significant range” goes against 30 years of agency interpretation of the ESA as well as ESA case law, and this sudden change of direction, with no scientific or legal justification whatsoever, is clearly arbitrary and capricious.

    Like other Bush administration rewrites of existing law without benefit of Congressional action, this interpretation most certainly will be thrown out by the courts. Thus, we can expect several more years of litigation on what should have been a simple process.

    There is no doubt that wolves are biologically recovered and have been for some time. Had the State of Wyoming four years ago merely changed the classification of wolves from “predatory animal” to “trophy game animal”, with no specific management prescriptions written into statute (as is now the very confusing case), allowing an already existing, on-the-shelf G&F plan that called for managing wolves throughout the State as trophy game animals, wolves would be delisted now and the court cases would be over.

    This dispute is an excellent example, along with climate change, of how politics has completely bowdlerized science. Some years ago, journalist Todd Wilkinson wrote an important book, Science Under Siege. Today, he would have to rename the book, Science Burned and Buried Beneath the Rubble as Heresy.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Thank you very much for taking the time to write this good explanation of what is happening with the Wyoming wolf plan/delisting/negotiations for Denise and all of us.

    I gave a brief talk about to a group last night about what’s wrong with the Northern Rockies wolf delisting, and I wish I had read your piece above before I gave the talk. It would have been better.

  14. Joe S. Avatar

    Kathy and Vicki………regarding delisting……

    Lets be very hypothetical….WHAT IF….idaho residents watching the delisting process being drawn out and delayed…..decide to take the law into their own hands and start shooting wolves like coyotes….

    If you think im being too dramatical do a search for wolf and SSS….let me know what you find….

    attempting to further delay delisting and wolf management may backfire….for everybody involved especially the wolf…..

  15. Joe S. Avatar

    Wolves will never be listed by the F&G as a “trophy game animal”….they are predators and will be listed much the same as bear and mtn. lion….The only difference will be the tags will not be over the counter…..It will be a controlled hunt…….Tag prices will be around the same price as a turkey tag…….

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Being in Idaho, I know a lot of people here, including the areas where there are wolves.

    Those who illegally shoot wolves would tend to get turned in like those who poach other wildlife. I suspect 5 to 10% of the Idaho wolf population is poached every year and it makes no difference. The critical figure is somewhere near 30% mortality each year if there is a good prey base.

    I am concerned that animal activists have gone too far in the Great Lakes where wolf management has been gentle, and not at all like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

  17. Joe S. Avatar

    The only difference i can see with poaching wolves and other big game is this……

    poachers normally get caught after cutting antlers off of poached animals or trying to salvage meat….then talk about it to thier buddies….

    with wolves there would be nothing for the poacher to salvage….it would be much harder to enforce and catch the poachers….the only ones i have heard of being convicted are usually ranchers and the dead wolf is recovered……..

    Otherwise i agree with you….any controlled hunt for wolves will not even come close to the required 30-40% mortality rate to reduce populations….

    Being from idaho im sure you’ve heard the rumors “If this delisting stuff is drawn out i will start shooting wolves on sight”….Hopefully this is just empty threats….Obviously it would be easier to keep track of wolf harvest data after delisting than it would be to “suspect” or speculate how many wolves are being shot in the back country and left to rot……..

  18. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I agree that poachers are most often caught because they can’t shut up.

    However, there are more and more people in the woods for lots of reasons nowadays. Many carry cell phones, GPS units, have digital cameras, and guns. The combination varies,

    I have been thinking of setting up a cell phone, photography, watch, and report system here in Southeast Idaho to deal with the problem of ATV trespass on private property and when they engage in illegal operations on public lands.

  19. Joe S. Avatar

    Thats a great idea……if you get it going and want to expand the project to s.w. Idaho….let me know…I’d be interested in helping out…..

  20. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Me too, Ralph – SW Idaho-wise…

  21. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’m glad there is interest.

    They way it would have so be set up is through networks of outdoors active friends.

  22. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    One of the newest forms of recreation that I am interested in, not from a participation aspet, is freeriding, which is a downhill form of mountain biking involving off trail riding and the use of natural terrain features. The growing sport has impacted the Boise foothills in places, even as it is sanctioned by the development of freeride-lile trails in a couple of areas. The proliferation of the link between a certain subset of the mountain bike community and motorized recreation is also troubling – this seems mainly a response to the perception that Wilderness designation in Central Idaho would close trails to mountain bikers. Anyway, my point is that it is not just the motorized community that needs to be watched for illegal trail/off-trail activity, and in SW Idaho’s case, it happens pretty close to home…

  23. Vicki Avatar

    Joe S, do you hunt? Well, just to clariy, I want the wolf listed as a trophy (meaning an animal most hunters see worthy of putting up a mount of) , like elk. I doubt the tags would be the same as a turkey tag, because I just believe that he Div. of Wildlife knows they could get more money than that for the tags. But your points are well taken. Thanks for bringing them up.

  24. Vicki Avatar

    Joe S, I still think that having tags issued is the best way of handling the wolf population. Having people assess their numbers and determine the number that can be hunted, based on scientific info, is the best bet we have. Listing them the same way coyotes are, wouldn’t be too smart. (Limiting that group to predators is too confusing for some, because cougars and black bears are in the predator category. You have to be drawn for cougar hunts, and black bear in many states. Coyotes used to be called varmits -way back when. But no tag wass required to shoot coyotes, just a small game license.) The whole issue is so huge. I don’t think most people know how many sub-issues are at hand. It’s great that someone summed it up (Robert). I do know that poaching is an issue. I’m in Colorado, so I doubt I could help much with deterring it in Idaho. But I wish I could do more. Poachers make the whole issue worse for every one who is constructively trying to help. I’m reading up a bit on wolves in the mid-west. It’s a lot to take in.
    Ralph, My son is interested in doing aresearch project on the issue, and sharing it with his high school biology class. He is even wanting to take a few students to the GYE to show them firts hand what is going on. Where would you suggest he begin? I think that his generation is going to end up handling a lot of the fall-out from what choices are made in the next few months. Maybe if they are better informed than the vast majority of us are today, they stand a better chance of finding good solutions.

  25. Kathy Avatar

    Elkhunter…I am so pleased to see that opinions do not matter, as far as you are concerned. (heavy on the sarcasm)
    I am not just concerned about wolves, but all wildlife (wolves being my favorite.) I literally shoo snakes out of my yard. Are they a danger…Yes. The point here…I weigh the option of killing that snake or letting it go about its’ business, as it has the right to do. Wolves have a special place in my heart, because I had a wolf “dog.” Until you are a “member of the pack,” as I have been, unfortunately YOU will never understand what it means, to be a wolf. Wolves are a very close knit group, every bit as close as a human family and I was privilaged to have the opportunity, to howl, and have the love and loyalty of such a wonderful animal, for 15 years. Maybe that makes mean activist then…
    As has been pointed out, between poaching and “management” what will be left for the future?
    I live in a State where wolf re-introduction has been taking place and could not be more pleased to say that I do!
    Opinions Elkhunter, are what spur the voters… “activists” and the politians….and we ARE entitled to them.

  26. elkhunter Avatar

    Kathy, You can have your opinion. I dont really care about that. Why would you not be able to have an opinion. My opinion is different than yours. Does not mean that you cant have one. I dont know if you have tender feelings or just never posted on this blog. People will not always agree with what you said, like i did not agree, its not the end of the world, you can think how you want. You just came out and said something kinda stupid, “That all wolves should stay on the the protected list” regardless of populations or any other reason. It just does not make sense. Thats why we have the ESA. Is to help populations grow so that they are healthy and can come off the list. THATS HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS. Thats cool that you had a wolf dog, I have 2 bird dogs. I like them also. And your right the human population will continue to grow, so where would you like this ever growing population to live? Kathy dont take offence at anything that I say, I dont mean it to you personally, you can have your opinion, but it will be challenged, thats what this blog is about. Thanks


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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