So what about Idaho wolves, anyway?

Lynne Stone suggested a post where folks could discuss Idaho wolves. So if they do, here it is.


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  1. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Ralph – thanks (I think!). I’ve learned from doing Wilderness advocacy, that the more people have a first-hand experience with a place, the more they will work to protect it. Surely the same is true for people who are able to see and hear wolves. I realize most folks can’t come and try to see Idaho wolves but will help however they can.

    The network that knows where the wolves might be, has learned to be closed mouth because publicity can lead to illegal killings or poisoning. On the other hand, our wolves suffer far more at the hands of Wildlife Services who carry out the lethal control orders when there are wolf-livestock conflicts.

    Some of these conflicts are real, others are not, and most often are the result of lack of effort to haze wolves from livestock areas. It can be done. I know. I’ve done it.

    Maybe we can start small with regards to folks coming to see Idaho wolves. Via your website, I’ve made some connections of people I do trust. This is rural Idaho. You have to watch what you say. If you are in Stanley having breakfast, look around before you discuss wolves. The walls have ears.

    The winter and Spring are the best times. The wolves follow the elk to the lowlands and many lowlands are adjacent to roads. For example, ff the Phantom Hill Pack near Ketchum, Idaho, stays put, they should be visible this winter within minutes from the famous ski slopes of Sun Valley. The “Phantoms” need our help or next summer when the sheep come, the pack will be shot with the first depredation, whatever the circumstances.

    If the Phantoms could become a tourist attraction in the way of the Yellowstone wolves, that might just save them.

    Suggestions? Questions?

  2. Eric Avatar

    I will come and check it out. I want to take a long vacation/tour of the west in my 74 VW with my girlfriend after she finishes school in spring.

  3. Chuck Avatar

    I have spent many hours watching the wolves in yellowstone, but cannot always just jump in my truck and head over there, would love to be able to drive a couple hours away and watch them. Wolves are very beautiful creatures. I understand about wanting to protect them. I was heart broken when I learned of the Hayden alpha pair killed, I got to watch them in September take on a grizzly bear who was going after one of their pups. Please keep up the good work Ralph and Lynne

  4. jerry black Avatar
    jerry black

    Lynne…there’s a network of people here in Western Montana that will be watching your efforts and hoping you’re sucessful. We’ve lost alot of wolves , whole and partial packs, recently to Wildlife Services. It’s got to stop.

  5. Pat Avatar

    I would love to come to Idaho to watch wolves! Yellowstone is becoming too expensive for me since the Forest Service in the surrounding area (at least near the NE Entrance) no longer allows use of its (OUR!) campgrounds in the “off” seasons. Fences and locked gates have been built around them; and the “season” ends early. Campgrounds near the Lamar Valley closed approx. Sept 5 this year; and several were already closed when I arrived in that area in August!

    Are there any campgrounds (near likely wolf-viewing areas in Idaho) that can be used in the spring and fall? And is there anyone who can be contacted while one is in Idaho to learn where wolves have been recently sighted? Thanks to anyone who can help me with answers to these questions.

  6. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel


    Good work over the years. I think the network would be more valuable at home, working to lobby Congress to eliminate Wildlife Services. A lot of people complain about WS, but not many are taking up the gauntlet and organizing an effort to get them eliminated.

    I don’t have the contacts or wherewithall to do it myself. But I am willing to help as much as I can.


  7. Dave Collins Avatar
    Dave Collins

    Lynne, its amazing to me that you have to live in such fear because you enjoy nature. Im live in Southern California but I travel up to Yellowstone 2 to 3 times a year to photograph wolves. I have to drive that far to enjoy the way things use to be. It seems national parks are the only thing that animals have left to be safe in. Your area is sitting on a gold mine. Wolf watching has brought in millions of dollars to the economy in and around Yellowstone. Are the ranchers in the town that you live blind or stupid! They should take advantage of what nature has givin them.

  8. SAP Avatar

    Lynne – you mentioned “haz[ing] wolves from livestock areas. It can be done. I know. I’ve done it.”

    Could you elaborate on that — as to techniques, long term results, where the wolves went when you hazed them? Did you use fladry as part of the hazing strategy?

    I am keenly interested in hearing what has worked. Here in southwest Montana, my big concern is lack of livestock-free places to haze wolves into. While I am not (to the dismay of many!) anti-ranching, I am starting to believe that having more livestock-free areas for wolves to live in is going to be important for long-term conservation.

  9. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Erick, Chuck, Pat and Dave – perhaps Ralph can put you in touch with me via e-mail. If Ralph can vouch for you, then that’s good enough for me. I can try and give some advice on where you might see wolves, esp. during the winter. Some people came to Stanley last winter and walked into wolf watching paradise. Other folks saw spectacular scenery, a lot of wintering elk and then dealt with getting their vehicle started at 35 below (I have a battery charger).

    Pat – Idaho is so different than a park – we have hundreds of places that you can camp and not pay. This is called “dispersed camping”. State Highway 21 and 75 near Stanley are plowed and maintained all winter. Many of the wolves I’ve seen – some 90 days worth in the past 18 months – are from those routes. I rarely travel more than 30 miles from home. There are wolf packs I’ve never seen just waiting for you to see.

    Jerry & Rick – some groups are addressing the problem of Wildlife Services and perhaps with a Democratic Congress, the WS budget for aircraft and other costs will be eliminated. Some honesty needs to be put in WS as they investigate and determine the cause of a depredation. A wolf depredation is money in their pocket and justification for more money, more aircraft, more time in the air killing.

    There are non-lethal methods to scare off wolves. With states taking over mgt, there’s far less effort now with non-lethal. This has got to change. Defenders as worked on this along with others. I’ve done my share of scaring wolves to the point that they run when I show up.

    Dave – I don’t live in fear. Am cautious. There are far more wolf supporters in Stanley area than not. Am aware of the economic benefits that wolf watching could bring to Idaho — how do we do this and not put the wolves at risk — that’s the question.

    Please note that many ranchers I deal with are reasonable when it comes to predators including wolves. Some no longer shoot coyotes or allow anyone else to on their property because they have realized the role that coyotes have overall.

    It’s more the “sportsmen” that are pushing to have a wolf hunting season if/when delisting occurs. The type of sportsman who belongs to the Idaho Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife. Check out their website.

    Wolves can be relatively “safe” in Idaho even though not in a national park, if they had the full protection of the Endangered Species Act. Wolves, whatever their legal status, will always risk being shot by the same type of person who shoots coyotes for “fun”. We need to change that thinking. Perhaps “God’s Dog” should be required reading in every school in the West. I came from a redneck gunnut, ranching family in Oregon. People can change.

    Thanks for all your comments and apologize for the length of this response!

  10. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Lynne, you’re great.

    I so admire your spirit and your obvious love for wild wolves.

    With your help, Idaho will become a destination for wildlife watchers from all over the world.

    Here’s a concept you may be interested in:

  11. Dave Collins Avatar
    Dave Collins

    Lynne, Im glad to hear there is a lot more supporters there. How populated is Stanley? Is there any place to stay? I would love to come there to photograph wolves. I have seen some of your photos on Ralphs web site. I will be going to Yellowstone in Feb for 10 days. I would like to swing through there on the way back.

  12. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    I think the best thing to do is for people to come to Idaho and wolf watch. It may take time to actually be successful, but the more people that do it and who tell the locals that is what they are here to do, the moe it will become a viable opportunity and the more our elected officials and the folks at IDF&G will notice and recognize this as a relevant opportunity that needs to be protected. Right now, I don’t think there’s much momentum to recognize wolf wathcing as a relevant opprtunity, and that will continue to be true unless more people show up asking to see wolves. It won’t be the same as Yellowstone, but I think you’ll certainly get a real Idaho experience, which is something to treasure, for sure…

  13. Jim Avatar

    If anybody wants to help ID’s wolves get yourself elected to the ID state government. Those are the people setting the laws that govern how ID will treat its wolves, and they also set the overall tone for how citizens will feel about ID’s wolves. Spend all the time and money you want wolf watching and tell everyone you meet what you are doing and why. Some minds, even many minds, may get changed or opened, but as soon as the wolf killing door is open, enough people will run through it, kill as many wolves as they can, and ruin whatever good work you’ve done. Become the people who make the laws, then make better laws.

  14. Dave Collins Avatar
    Dave Collins

    Well said Jim. Makes me want to move to ID.

  15. Pat Avatar

    Lynne – Thanks. I really appreciate both your original post to Dr. Maughan concerning the Idaho wolves and your response to my questions. I will look forward to reading more about the Idaho wolves from you on Ralph Maughan’s website in the future. I have camped once or twice in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (on Fourth of July Creek Road, I think it was called) but not often enough to be really familiar yet with the area. And I have not camped at all yet in any other areas of Idaho. But I am hoping to return to Idaho in the not-too-distant future, and your information will give me a place to start. Thanks again. – Pat

  16. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Jim – regarding running for office in Idaho and our legislature. (Ralph – please jump in – you’re the political scientist.) We all have our own roles. Mine is not running for public office. I’ve worked on campaigns, know elected officials and have been to Washington D.C. many times on various issues.

    You probably know that Idaho is the most Republican state in the country. So, one would have to run as a Republican in most areas to have any hope of being elected (except in Blaine County where Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey are located). Idaho Republicans don’t support much of anything I believe in including wolves. I grew in up in Oregon where there were Republicans I voted for.

    Blaine County has leaders, mostly Democrats, who do speak up for wolves. Their calls this past summer in support of the Phantom Hill Pack near Ketchum helped save the wolves, which were dining on a few too many lamb chops. Those calls provided time for the wolf pups to get big enough to move and some hazing to be done. We have some wolf sympathizers in office in Custer County but it’s best not to tip the hand on that.

    I don’t believe the Idaho legislature sets the “overall tone” of how Idahoans think about wolves. Governor Otter came out with both barrels firing, opposing wolves and saying he wanted the first “ticket” (I assume he meant wolf tag). His statements shocked even a lot of Republicans. The Governor appoints the Idaho Fish & Game Commissioners who are staunchly against wolves (with one exception) and who are pushing the hunting season. A different governor would help.

    In the meantime, work goes on to stop delisting of wolves and the further gutting of the 10(j) rule. These are federal issues. I’ll stop here.

  17. Dave J Avatar
    Dave J

    There is an interesting article in the Dec. 2007 issue of Popular Mechanics on the forensics used to convict Tim Sundles for the Temik poisonings. Page 72.

  18. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Idahoans love the outdoors and the public lands, but they are poorly educated about them.

    There is nothing in the high school curriculum, and little in the universities except at the Univ. of Idaho which as a land grant university, and as such developed close ties with extractive industries. People Larry Craig for years have made sure the U of I. programs don’t get very environment-friendly despite some very good individual professors.

    The last 4 years before I retired at Idaho State University (I retired at 62 in May), I starting teaching public lands politics and I was amazed at how little students knew at first, but how eager they were to learn and did learn.

    As an example, of the disconnect between the poorly-informed opinion of regular Idahoans and the state’s political elite, there was an article on public perception of water policy in Idaho versus that of the state legislature in the Idaho Journal of Political Science (no longer published).

    The authors interviewed almost every state legislator about water issues. They also had a good public opinion poll on the attitudes of the general public on the issue. Almost all agreed that “Idaho water” needed to stay in Idaho to be used in Idaho. However, the legislators correctly perceived that this means supporting traditional western water use laws that gives almost no value to water in streams, but only when it is diverted from them (dried up) or developed such as for hydropower.

    Idaho citizens supported the rhetoric about keeping Idaho water in Idaho, but they almost completely misperceived what politicians meant when they said that. The average citizen thought that meant keeping the water in the stream for fishing, recreation, scenery, and pure water for the cities — in other words they were voting completely against their self-interest on water issues because of gross misperception based on ignorance of water law.

  19. Chuck Avatar

    Yes that would be great if Ralph can put us in contact with each other. I have to have shoulder surgery tomorrow, so I will have plenty of time to run around for the next 8 weeks and plan on making a couple trips up to stanley in hopes of seeing some wolves and maybe getting some pictures.

  20. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Chuck – just remember the best time to see wolves is when there is snow on the ground so maybe the latter part (December) of the next 8 weeks would be best!

  21. nate Avatar

    Informative string. I too have seen wolves quite a bit in Idaho and I believe I could be a resource for directing interested observers. I find it ironic after reading the supportive comments from yesterday that all of the publicly offered, guided, wolf site-seeing trips into the back country of Idaho during the past couple of years were never filled.

    I think my few questions will stimulate (make it longer) the discussion about Idaho wolves.

    Lynne, do you think it is this Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife group that is creating the type of sportsmen so different from the many reasonable ranchers you deal with in Idaho? And, do you think other sporting/conservation organizations (RMEF, DU, PF, MDF, NWTF, FNAWS, SCI, ISB, BASS, ITMA) have different sportsmen in their organization?

    I am also curious about the education connection. I am wondering if you think Idaho citizen’s, “appropriately” educated on wolves, would change their “vote”?

    Ralph, can you give me the water analogy in a wolf scenerio where the lack of public outcry for wolf recovery is based on misperceptions from politicians?

    Finally, for all, I am most curious about the hunting of wolves, as outlined in the Idaho Wolf Management plan, and if there is any evidence available which demonstrates implementation of that strategy leading to statewide wolf endangerment.

  22. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    This was just put up on the Idaho fish and game site as part of the meeting agenda for the 13-15 November quarterly meeting in Sandpoint.

    “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may publish a rule removing wolves in Idaho from the endangered species list as early as the end of February.

    Fish and Game has been working on wolf management as a big game animal and a regulated wolf harvest. The commissioners will consider a draft wolf population management plan as well as a summary of a public survey conducted to help guide wolf harvest management.”

  23. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I don’t recall ever hearing about a public survey for wolf management. Any one else hear this?

  24. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Jeff – thanks for the heads up on the addition to theIdaho Fish & Game Commissioners agenda. It will be very interesting to see what IDFG has come up with for its wolf mgt scheme. Like what areas of the state simply won’t be allowed to have wolves. Copper Basin in the Pioneer Mts east of Sun Valley/Ketchum was one mentioned early on. Ralph has mentioned how spectacular but cowed-out Copper Basin is.

    Nate – People can and will change their minds and learn to appreciate wolves if given accurate information. Have seen some notable examples.

    The answer to your question re. Idaho Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife is yes – it’s a different type of “sportsmen” group. Unless some groups you used acronyms for have also produced a video that shows a blonde decked out in camo killing a beautiful wolf that’s standing still looking at her. It’s a sick video from ISFW that I could only watch once.

    ISFW’s director is Nate Helm – is that you?

    Re. the hunting of wolves — the Idaho Wolf Mgt Plan is a wolf control plan. It’s prefaced by a Memorial from the Idaho State Legislature that says wolves will be removed from Idaho by any means possible. (The word “legally” was later added before the word “means”). The legislature controls IDFG. Enough said.

    Probably Idaho — if ever given total control by USFWS — would keep just enough wolves, something over 100 but not many over, to prevent delisting. Delisting will end up the courts and the more Governor Otter puts his foot in his mouth, the better.

  25. Mike Wolf Avatar

    Thanks for the discussion Lynne.

    I’m something of your counterpart up here in Northern Idaho. I live among sheep and cattle ranchers, but I have more exposure to “recreationists.” The only experience with wolves I have directly up here is when one was shot in what I call an “Idaho Drive-by” not 1/4 mile from my home. I don’t live in fear of anti-wolf sentiment because I don’t talk to locals. I live more in fear of the local sheriff’s department, many of whom have decided to target me for harassment. I also fear for my dogs; as I have neighbors who like to shoot anything that moves – and already shot my malamute to death in September.

    I don’t wolf watch up here because I don’t know where the wolves are. Wolves also seem to be shy up here; I lived in a pack’s territory for a summer and never saw one of them.

    The biggest problems up here are with “recreationists.” They think they rule the lands. Their ATVs and dirtbikes exclude any other use of our lands. Hunting is a joke because no one actually seems to hunt. They set up semi-permanent hunting camps, skirting the law because law enforcement lets them break the law because they only enforce laws selectively up here. Wolves are killed often up here, mostly in hunting season.

    The prevailing attitude about wolves up here is not as outspoken as it is in Stanley. This is where Conservative Idaho shows its true colors…or rather, hides behind them, silent, but lurking; ever present.

    The Saturday before Halloween, I donned my wolf costume and ventured into the Silver Saddle, a bar in a small town that is one of many gathering places where anti-wolf sentiment can be found. To my surprise, I didn’t get shot or chased out of the bar. The crowd was young that night, and the three anti-wolf people I saw, backed down from their threats after they realized the rest of the crowd actually liked my presence. I took from this experience the hope that my ideas about education are based in fact and would work, if only I had my organization fully up and running and funded. Sadly, I am too busy trying to stay caught up with school and all that life has seen fit to throw my way to worry about fundraising for my foundation. It doesn’t make me feel good at all that no other organization is taking initiative to help educate people about wolves effectively either, many seeming to have gone down paths that have little to do with wolves, at least, not benefitting wolves that is.

    From my observations, the most effective pro-wolf tourism Idaho can see, is to have those who are able and interested, come camp, long term, on grazing allotments as I did in 2005 with the Chesimia pack. I witnessed the rancher herding her cattle towards wolves which of course caused conflict; that she welcomed with open wallet! I couldn’t stand against it alone though. But if others who wanted camped in such areas, I feel certain that enough attention could be drawn to it to create disincentive for ranchers who like to do what Susan Beale did in 2005. Perhaps it may even cause Defenders of Wildlife to end the compensation program which I am convinced kills wolves by enticing ranchers to encourage, rather than discourage, conflict so that they can receive full market value for animals they often want culled anyway (Susan Beale was overheard commenting on how she wanted one cow eaten by wolves so she could replace it because she didn’t like the cow.)

    In the meantime; I sit and watch, observing, studying, making sure that when the time comes and I’m able, I know best how to resolve the issues I observe.

  26. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think young people in Idaho are ready for a change, regarding wildlife and lots of other things.

    When it comes to college loans, fighting Bush’s war, having a chance at a good job with a few benefits, even with a college education, they’re being screwed.

  27. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Mike Wolf, will you elaborate on what you wrote: “Eliminating grazing isn’t going to solve things; it will in fact make them worse.”

  28. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Mike Wolf – hang in there. The wolves need you after you finish school.

  29. be Avatar

    mike wolf,

    the phenomenon you describe is real : moral hazard ~ and i struggle with the reasoning as to why it is a continued strategy despite the obvious and exercised antagonistic political posture that continues to be perpetuated by Livestock. the point is made, it’s not about economic interest. the compensation could be used to leverage predator friendly techniques by making the compensation contingent on it ~ hell, the standards for proof of depredation could even be loosened… IMHO ~

    of coarse – i am not in any position to be critical — DOW is an admirable association and their work is certainly appreciated ~ it’s just frustrating to hear of how it is being taken advantage of in this way…

  30. SAP Avatar


    How would a rancher get wolves to eat just the cows she wanted eaten? Douse them in A1 steak sauce?

    I don’t know the rancher and I certainly wasn’t there, but that sounds like something I’ve heard other ranchers say with tongue FIRMLY in cheek.

    Probably the cows many ranchers would want culled would be the least likely to get eaten: rank old gals who break down fences, evade herders, and stomp cowdogs.

    And I’m not clear about “the rancher herding her cattle towards wolves;” does that mean she was moving them into the same few square miles as a wolf pack, or herding them right toward a rendezvous site, or in the general direction of a couple of visible wolves? I don’t get it.

    Maybe you’ve got an entirely different kind of rancher over there. Ranchers I deal with would never look for ways to ENCOURAGE wolf-livestock conflicts. Many won’t put a lot of thought or effort into actively preventing conflicts, but they sure wouldn’t seek them out.

    Death loss is only one part of the impact wolves can have — cattle that have been hunted by wolves tend to get more vigilant (just like elk) and gain less weight; they don’t stay where you want them; they go through or over fences; they become impossible to handle with dogs. In short, chaos and un-compensated financial loss.

    If you went out of your way to get a few head worth of death loss compensation, you’d surely end up with huge uncompensated losses and migraines.

    Most every rancher I interact with (there are exceptions) takes pride in doing a good job of handling and caring for livestock. They wouldn’t deliberately create a chaotic situation that makes their job impossible and creates a huge amount of work (gathering scattered cattle; doctoring cattle that have been run hard or through fences; fixing fence; having cows come up open [not pregnant]) just to get a check from Defenders.

    Like I said, though, maybe your ranchers are different.

  31. catbestland Avatar

    I believe some ranchers do abuse the death compensation program. I was told a story by the rancher himself, a stranger at an equipment auction, that he took an aged unmarketable horse hunting and tied it up in known wolf territory, then left it alone as he hunted and was surprised to see it had been eaten by wolves when he returned. he personally bragged that he was paid $1200 dollars for the animal that he wouldn’t have been able to get $200. for at a meat auction. He was very proud of himself until he realized he had told the wrong person. I reported it to Defenders. I don’t believe anything ever came of it. I think they realize that some abuses will occur.

    The further negative impacts of wolf presence you list are just more proof that cattle don’t belong in an ecosystem that is native habitat for wolves. Would you build a fish hatchery in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. No. Of course sharks woud get in and eat them and traumatize the rest. You would build it in a safe place. The arid delicate ecosystems of the Rocky Mountain west are simply not the best place to raise cattle. It’s too hard on the cattle and it is too hard on the land. If cattlemen choose to raise them here, they should be grateful for the predation compensation accept their residual losses.


  32. SAP Avatar

    Cathy – the incident you report doesn’t sound INTENTIONAL though. Tying up a horse while you hunt afoot used to be standard operating procedure. I wouldn’t venture very far now with wolves around, because I love my horse and he’s worth way more that $1200.

    And I wouldn’t exactly call your anecdote an abuse of the system either (with the caveat that I wasn’t there to hear the guy’s story, so I don’t know the details); old horses being sold at auction are typically only evaluated as meat, not for any other purpose. Yet the guy had a trusted old horse that he could evidently ride safely into the mountains and trust it to stand tied up unattended. You can’t REPLACE a horse like that for $200, maybe not even $1200. Replacement value is the key concept.

    Also, I can’t imagine it being intentional because the guy was then left afoot, and would have had to carry his saddle and everything back to the trailhead. And then he would have had to go back in with investigators to verify it as a wolf loss.

    Actually, maybe the guy was pulling your leg?

    The other points you raise are worthy of hard pondering. Thank you.

  33. kim kaiser Avatar

    when there are giveaways, people take advantage of them,, if you think for a minute that a rancher has a badly sick cow that he doesnt want to treat it or pay vet bills wouldnt put it up for wolf bait, if he could get it,, you ‘re eyes are closed!! farmers have been planting flooded farmland for years in the south, knowing full well floods would come, just enough, ususally by flyover seeding, wait for the flood and make there claim, never once hitting the ground with any intention to farm or work the field,,

    i would hardly think that some ranchers arent above those types of behaviour,,,you dont have to hear of this stuff personally to know it goes on,,if there is a way to cheat, there is a certain segment of any enterprise that will do it!!!!!ranchers are not exempt

  34. catbestland Avatar

    The guy seemed mighty pleased with himself.

  35. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    When I say a rancher herded her cattle towards wolves, I’m not some idiot making rash assumptions; I know what I speak of. I spent 3 months on that allotment, I spoke with the rancher extensively, until the day she decided to start harassing me because she lost a cow to wolves. She ramped up her harassment, and started herding her cattle through the narrow canyon between the side of the allotment she was on, and the side the wolves were…where the rest of her losses took place.

    I notified Defenders of the incident, but wasn’t even given the respect of a response. I was left to believe that Defenders doesn’t want to hear about their biggest fundraising effort being something that kills wolves. They didn’t even respond to my proposal to research the notion that the compensation fund was being abused, and used by ranchers who gloated not only about being paid full price for cattle lost before they had to spend $800 for putting the animals in a feedlot, but who also gloated about being the one responsible for the wolves being killed by Wildlife Services.

    No, this wasn’t every rancher. Some ranchers refuse the payment. But even Ralph is aware of ranchers gloating about basically being paid to put a death sentence on wolves. The incident Catbestland described is typical of what I had heard second-hand. I wasn’t sure myself until I witnessed it firsthand.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement Lynne. I do try to keep my head up despite all the crap I see around me. I’d definitely rather put up with some of the kids at school and their prejudice against wolves; than to deal with some of the stupidity I see in the supposedly pro-wolf people I’ve had to deal with. So far they’ve only killed one wolf that I’m aware of. Doesn’t quite compare to the countless wolves who have perished at the hands of pro-wolf “do gooders” that I’ve been acquainted with. I actually find it much easier to get anti-wolf people to learn about how important wolves are and their proper place in the environment than I do trying to convince some of the pro-wolf people that they have their heads up their cabooses when it comes to wolves.

  36. JB Avatar

    On some of the comments regarding Wildlife Services…

    To some people Wildlife Services seems to be the epitome of evil, and they may even have a point when it comes to some of the actions of the organization. However, the vast majority of the WS agents I’ve met are people who care deeply for wildlife, and admire the animals they are hired to “control.” All of them had at least a bachelor degree in wildlife management, which they pursued because they were interested in wildlife to begin with. I’ve met at least two that have killed wolves in Idaho, and both will tell you its a job they do not relish. Many of these same people have spent hours…days even…making and testing nonlethal methods such as fladry and rag boxes.

    So, when you talk about WS and their agents please try to keep in mind that the actions of the organization are not necessarily reflective of the people that work there. If you want that organization to change, by all means, keep up the political pressure. However, make sure you differentiate between the organization and the individuals it employs.


  37. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    JB – that is an excellent point that can also apply to folks in state game and fish departments. We have to keep in mind that these folks are generally scientists trying to do their best in an almost completely political landscape. Those are not easy things to reconcile.


  38. jerry black Avatar
    jerry black

    Mike…I’ve brought this point up previously about “Defenders”…Why don’t they respond to incidents like you described or to the wolves that are being slaughtered here in Montana by WS helicopters. They’re quick to condemn the killings in Alaska and are constantly requesting funds to fight that battle, but seem to keep what’s happening here in Montana from their membership. I know some of their members on the East coast that have no idea what’s happening to the wolves in the lower 48 until I forward the info from our local newspapers to them. They’re appalled and write DOW…no reply.
    I’ve written to them numerous times and like you stated..,,,no response.
    I can’t believe that this lack of communication to their membership base is only because of their compensation program.
    Any other ideas on why they’re so quiet and or how to get them to respond?

  39. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    I’m sure there are good ones, I just havn’t met any in Idaho yet. I talked with four agents at one time last winter who were giddy at the thought of hunting wolves, and it wasn’t for the challenge of the hunt.

  40. JB Avatar

    Thanks Matt; and thanks for the reminder that it’s not just WS but FWS and the folks from the State agencies that are involved. MOST are scientists that are just trying to do their jobs.

    Tim, I’m saddened to hear that, although it doesn’t surprise me–there are bad apples in every bunch.

  41. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Mike Wolf, will you elaborate on what you wrote: “Eliminating grazing isn’t going to solve things; it will in fact make them worse.”

  42. Layton Avatar

    Just a question here — concerning the horse tied up to be killed by wolves.

    When did DOW start compensating folks for the loss of horses?? That was NOT the case originally. Under the terms of the original 10j ruling (please correct me if I’m wrong here) only critters that were considered “livestock” were compensated for (cattle, sheep and I think goats). Horses – like pack strings or riding stock — were NOT considered the same way. Nor were guard dogs or hunting dogs. People that lost dogs or packers that lost horses were SOL.

    For instance, I don’t believe that the folks at Clayton that lost the horses were re-imbursed for anything.


  43. Jim Avatar

    DOW reinburses for all except pets. Owners of animals that bring in some type or revenue or income, or are needed to operate a business, that are killed by wolves get paid. DOW has pretty much always been that way, though originally it was just supposed to be for those animals that get sold at market.

    Of course, not everyone gets paid for every animal lost, but DOW reimburses often and well.

  44. Jim Avatar

    Mike, Jerry. Instead of complaining about how DOW ignores you, why don’t you do something about it yourselves?

  45. Jim Avatar

    Mack, Mike has said this before. He believes that any rancher forced to stop grazing animals will immediately sell out to a developer. Most likely true, and I wouldn’t want to see it either. But some of that blame goes to the ranchers, farmers, and landowners who do sell out. They complain about the loss of their lifestyle but by selling they accelerate that loss by increasing the property taxes others have to pay because of the expensive homes built next to their property.

  46. SAP Avatar

    Jim already clarified some of this, but if folks want to see for themselves all the particulars of the compensation program, here’s a page with links to information:

    I found these points under “eligibility” very interesting:

    7a. In areas where wolves currently exist, Landowners, permittees or their representatives in the northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) have been broadly alerted to the presence of wolves in their region; therefore, their animal husbandry practices should reflect this knowledge. As in the past, to receive compensation, regional livestock owners must demonstrate reasonable use of nonlethal methods. These methods include, but are not limited to: increased human presence, herders or range riders, electric or predator-resistant fencing, livestock guard dogs (use of several per band), predator deterrent lighting, and electronic alarm systems. Defenders of Wildlife, in consultation with livestock owners and field agency representatives, will evaluate the effectiveness and appropriate execution of these methods.

    And this one is highly applicable:

    9. Defenders of Wildlife reserves the right to deny compensation or assistance to anyone who intentionally submits fraudulent claims, purposefully attempts to entice wolves to kill livestock, illegally wounds or kills wolves, refuses to utilize reasonable nonlethal deterrents, or acts in an abusive or threatening manner toward any Defenders’ employee.

    This was news to me.

    Mike, I didn’t say you were an idiot, I asked for details about the situation you mentioned. Not knowing the scale (e.g., how long was the narrow canyon between “the side where the wolves were” and the cattle?), I still can’t really evaluate whether the rancher was trying to cause a conflict.

    Sounds like she lost her temper and unfairly took it out on you, and maybe she was willing to say things to get your goat.

    Ranchers move cattle into different units of their allotments to follow a grazing plan; sometimes they move them into those units knowing full well it’s bringing them closer to wolves. But “closer” is sometimes meaningful and sometimes not, considering how mobile wolves are. They adhere to these plans in spite of wolves for a variety of reasons — the land managers require it, they need the grass, and some of it is attitude.

    If there’s any hope of doing a better job of minimizing wolf-livestock conflicts, I think the agency land managers who are responsible for grazing plans are going to have to get involved. We have to have true adaptive management and be flexible so that cattle maybe AREN’T put into a pasture that has an active wolf den. SOME spatial separation between livestock and known den or rendezvous sites seems like Step One of “utilize reasonable nonlethal deterrents” (#9 above).

    I can’t say what the scale of separation would need to be, but not delivering steaks to the wolves’ doorstep seems like a good place to start. But making that stick will require the FS & BLM range cons (along with their biologists) to build that into the allotment management plans. It will also require knowledgeable people afield to keep tabs on wolf activity.

  47. jerry black Avatar
    jerry black

    Jim..You have no idea, and I’m not going to waste my time with you, elaborating on my involvement with wolves and my dealings with DOW….You shouldn’t make assumptions about circumstances that you know nothing about.
    I’d love to sit back and watch them aggressively defend our wildlife, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

  48. Jim Avatar

    jerry, I said nothing about you, nor anything to you, so I don’t know what you are talking about. Nor do I care if you waste your time with me or not.

  49. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    SAP – back on the 9th, you asked about hazing wolves.

    Background – around here it’s up to each rancher on public land on whether they choose to help wolves or not. The Forest Service can add language about husbandry practices to AOI’s (Allotment Operating Instructions). But, refuses (because of the 10(j) Rule of the ESA) to specify actions that would directly help avoid wolf/livestock conflicts. This would include avoiding dens, rendezvous sites or travel corridors. And insist that sheep bands are closely herded, brought to the sheep wagon (or the herders camp out with the band) and have multiple guard dogs.

    Individual ranchers have to be worked with and carrots work better than sticks. We all know that sometimes the permittee refuses to help. Sometimes media attention changes stubborn minds. Some permits simply need to be bought out and retired.

    Hazing – wolves can be made afraid of people and learn to stay away from certain areas. The tools include using cracker shells fired over their heads. A cracker shell is an M-80 firework loaded into a .12 gauge shotgun shell. They are not available to the general public and a user must be trained by an official who has access to them (such as a Wildlife Service or Idaho Fish & Game employee). By mid-summer the fire danger brings a halt to crackershelling and regular shells are used. Any gun that makes a loud noise will help scare wolves. Using firearms to haze wolves is to be reported to the overseeing agency.

    When hazing, a person needs to yell and make certain the wolf sees you, and associates the loud gun noise with a human. A group of neighbors around here worked together to get the Basin Butte wolves to leave the fields where they like to hunt ground squirrels in the spring. Unfortunately, one yearling wolf was shot by a cowhand before she learned that. I had seen her two days before, and let her be as she was having a good time pouncing on squirrels. I regret not scaring her.

    Rubber bullets work, too, but within a limited range and there’s a protocol that needs adhered to.

    Fladry (strips of fabric strung on a rope) works in some areas, esp. smaller pastures. It needs maintenance and wolves will get used to it in time or pass under if strips are curled around sage or other vegetation. Rag (radio activated guard) boxes can help too, but I know of only one person in Idaho who handles their installation.

    When it comes to sheep, it’s essential that the herder(s) have weapons and get up in the night when they hear howling near their band and shoot into the air. They should have cracker shells and rubber bullets and in some areas, rag boxes. As mentioned earlier, sheep must be closely watched, gathered in at night, and guarded with numerous big dogs that stand their ground and don’t run out to meet a wolf pack.

    Send me an email – we can talk more about hazing.

  50. JB Avatar


    Good description of hazing! Seems like a lot of time, money, and effort for a solution that’s not permanent (wolves will habituate to RAG boxes and fladry…not sure on cracker shells).

    I’m playing the devil’s advocate here but, in the long run, wouldn’t it be cheaper just to spend that money buying out grazing allotments?


  51. catbestland Avatar

    I recently saw on a Nat. Geo. special where european cattle and sheep growers were using audio recordings of wolf pack howling played from their camps to keep wolves away. It seems the local wolves took the howling as a warning from another pack to stay out of it’s territory. On the show it worked and was much simpler than some other methods. The livestock seemed to be frightened only by the actual nearness of wolves got used to the recorded howling.
    Is there is any credence to this form of deterence?

  52. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    SAP – actually your question re. hazing was Nov 7th, not the 9th. I always haze wolves toward areas w/o livestock and if that’s not an option which it seems to be in your area, then that’s unfortunate and a big problem. I don’t know the answer except to make wolves afraid of people, vehicles, voices, buildings, etc. Most of the wolves I see around cattle are there because a cow or calf has died and the wolves have come to feed on the carcass. Calving time is another wolf attractant.

    JB – wolves won’t get used to cracker shells — in my opinion. RAG boxes are meant to scare off wolves with loud noises and flashing lights. But a RAG box also serves as a warning to a herder or cowman that collared wolves are about and it’s time to spring into action — like firing shots (hopefully over and not at wolves).

    I agree it would be best to retire allotments. However, my experience with public land grazing allotment permit buy outs is that the permittee has to be a willing seller. And the agency (USFS or BLM in this part of Idaho) has to go along. Politicians, cattle and sheep organizations generally oppose permit buy outs. So we’re kinda stuck for now. Offers have been made to the sheep outfits here and have been turned down. As long as there are cattle and sheep I see no other choice but to haze wolves away from them, letting the wolves know it’s a bad place to be. Sheep herders and cattlemen could do this and some do. Where hazing is not occurring we are losing wolves including entire Idaho packs like in the Smoky Mts near Fairfield and the Cascade/McCall area because of sheep.

  53. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    catbestland—-I saw that show too. I thought it was a great idea. It makes sense that it would keep wolves away. It would be worth while for someone here in the US to use this and record the results. I am guessing that it is much less expensive then using guard dogs, which should make it more appealing. The calls of another pack would be the one thing they would not get acustomed to.

  54. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Chuck – maybe. After the powers in the state who make the decisions regarding wildlife, depart from their current 19th century mindset and stop talking about wolves like they are spuds to be “harvested”. If a wolf hunting season ever happens, then you and everyone who is a wolf advocate is going to have to be scaring the heck out of wolves year around, not watching them.

  55. elkhunter Avatar

    Lynne, I dont think that a wolf hunt in any of those states will spell an end to the wolves. I am sure tags numbers will be very low, and harvest lower. Its just like with bears, cougars, they hunt them, but obviously manage them according to what habitat can sustain.

  56. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Clearly the habitat can sustain the current wolf numbers because their prey populations haven’t dropped anywhere except the northern range of Yellowstone.

    Therefore, no hunt is needed for management. A hunt needs to have some other rationale, like I want to hunt wolves.

  57. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Still searching. If I remember correctly there were also really obnoxious flashing lights used in combination with the recordings. Both were activated by a motion censor. The recordings were of multiple wolf howls. I hope I can find this. Having all the details to discuss would be great. Also, listening or seeing other ideas at work can trigger new ideas to try that are completely different. Especially when many minds colaborate.
    I will keep you posted.

  58. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Elkhunter – I’m not saying that a wolf hunt will be the end of wolves. Rather, it will be the end of any hope that myself and others will ever be able to watch wolves in peace. It will be the end of a time when some wolves can live together as a pack without constant fear of man hunting them with all the sophisticated weapons now available. A wolf hunt will mean that wolf packs will be shot up and destroyed and that pups will lose their parents, their uncles and their aunts. I think you’re wrong about the tag numbers being low – if you mean hunters and out of state hunters won’t buy many wolf tags.

    Outfitters, fish & game agencies, hunting magazines and anti-predator groups will do all they can to bring people from all over the world to kill wolves. There will be videos on TV and photos of “sportsmen” with their Idaho/Wyoming/Montana wolf “trophy” plastered in agency brochures, gun shops, bars, grocery stores and gas stations .. just like there are now of bear, lion, bobcat, coyote, elk, goat, sheep … . I can see anti-wolfers baiting in and killing entire packs and putting them on display so wolf lovers get the message on just who is ruling the roost.

    We’ll soon know what IDFG has cooked up for Idaho wolves as the commissioners are meeting up north and the plan for a wolf hunt is to be part of the agenda.

    Hopefully the article Ralph posted re. the genetics of the wolves in the Great Lakes, will show a federal judge all the more reason to protect wolves in the West and stop delisting.

  59. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Ralph, regarding wolf habitat, prey populations, wolf management and hunting you’ve said it all in 3 concise sentences. Thank you…!

    Lynne, don’t forget that with Wyoming’s wolf slaughter, er, ah, “management” plan, wolves outside of the “Trophy Game Area” can be killed by anyone, at any time, by any means whatsoever – no license necessary.

    That means that wolves, including pups, can be killed by ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, including:

    trapping or snaring them, then killing them by any means

    trapping or snaring them, then cutting their leg tenons and allowing dogs to shred them alive

    suspending shark hooks with meat, hooking wolves in the mouths, forcing a slow, painful death

    hooking live pups out of their dens and stomping them to death

    And so on…

    Sorry to be so graphic, but you get the picture. And it ain’t a pretty one.

  60. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Mack – so wolf advocates have to be smart and stop the Wyoming plan among others. Also, remember the Idaho legislature passed a Memorial that said wolves are to be removed by any means possible. I’d just as soon be spared the graphics, having seen enough with my own eyes living a lifetime in the rural west. The reason I asked Ralph for a thread about Idaho wolves was to get people talking, and coming together to help wolves. Most of have a lot of problems and sorrow in our own lives and if wolves become an issue that is so depressing and dark then people won’t want to hear about it. I’d ask for a balance of providing reality without going into shredding, shark hooks and stomping. Are you saying you’d prefer a hunting season?

  61. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Sorry, Lynne, but being a truth-seeker in all matters, I believe the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is always best and I believe it’s always best to shine bright lights into the dark goings-on of our society.

    Regarding hunting, I agree with what Ralph wrote: “Clearly the habitat can sustain the current wolf numbers because their prey populations haven’t dropped anywhere except the northern range of Yellowstone.

    Therefore, no hunt is needed for management. A hunt needs to have some other rationale, like I want to hunt wolves.”

  62. JB Avatar

    Sorry was away from the computer for a while…

    Lynne- I wasn’t suggesting using the howling method, though it sounds like it deserves some testing and could be employed in certain areas (e.g. private lands housing calves?); I was just commenting on why the technique might succeed/fail to scare a group of wolves. Ralph’s comment about wolves habituating to the recording is also right on–I believe this is happening in some cases with RAG boxes.

  63. Layton Avatar

    “If a wolf hunting season ever happens, then you and everyone who is a wolf advocate is going to have to be scaring the heck out of wolves year around, not watching them.”

    If a wolf hunting season ever happens — wolf lovers won’t have to scare the wolves — the season will take care of that.

    The only thing that the folks on the other side can hope for is that this mess will get through all the lawsuits in their lifetime.


  64. JB Avatar

    Ralph said, “Clearly the habitat can sustain the current wolf numbers because their prey populations haven’t dropped anywhere except the northern range of Yellowstone.
    Therefore, no hunt is needed for management. ”

    No offense Ralph, but your post seems to suggest that the only reason to hunt/control wolves is to mitigate their affect on prey populations–I disagree on two counts:

    First, I think its bad policy to hunt/control wolves in order to “protect” the animals wolves hunt. This sends the wrong message to everyone; it suggests that when populations of deer/elk/moose (whatever) get too low we can simply kill predators to raise those populations. I don’t think there are many biologists that believe this is a wise longterm strategy (though I know some in Alaska do).

    Second, you suggested that because wolves prey populations are relatively stable, wolves should be able to sustain their current populations–thus, no hunt is needed. Yet, wolves are being killed by WS all the time–that is, they are already being “hunted.” From the States’ perspective, a wolf hunt allows them to receive money (via license sales) for something they would normally have to pay for (control). I’m not suggesting there won’t still be controls, but, if permitting is done properly–that is, permits are issued in areas where wolves have a history of conflict with livestock–then the States may actually collect $ for something they would otherwise pay for.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to be confrontational, but simply point out that there is some rational reason to have a hunt. Personally, I don’t like the idea of wolves being killed for at all, especially for “sport”.


  65. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Layton – We don’t agree (imagine that!). Unless wolves have been made afraid of man before a hunting season begins, many wolves will die. If a wolf has never been shot at it’s not going to run — just like coyotes that get killed by the thousands. Hunters will use all the trapper tricks (predator calls, howling, bait, scents, legal or not) to kill wolves. Given the current politics, it seems unlikely IDFG would put much effort into enforcement when it comes to a wolf hunt. We have coyote killers driving up and down roads every morning blasting coyotes.

    I do hope you’re right about delisting taking years to grind through the courts.

  66. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Hi JB,

    I think you misinterpreted, or I did not make clear my point.

    No hunt is needed at present to keep the wolves down, was what I meant. So if someone has set about to justify a wolf hunt, I am saying they should not use the wolf-reduction-to-augment-deer or elk argument.

    . . . and it is well known that reducing wolf numbers may well not increase the number of their prey. Most likely it will have no effect, although an increase (or even a decrease) is possible, depending on a number of factors.

  67. JB Avatar

    Ralph, thanks for clearing that up–I don’t disagree with either of your points. 🙂

    Lynne, I don’t think you’re giving the states enough credit. If wolf #s fall beneath a minimum level established by FWS, then management reverts back to FWS authority–which the states have made clear they don’t want. Thus, they will have a vested interest in keeping wolf populations healthy. We may quibble over what minimum wolf populations should be, but I think wolves will prove a lot harder to kill (without the assistance of helicopters) than most people think.

    Personally, I hope things are not tied up in the courts. I believe, based on the Secretary of Interior’s recent resistance to species listings and the amount of effort put into delistings, that the Government is gearing up for another battle over the ESA. As it is, opponents love to point to the multitude of law suits concerning wolves as a prime example of where the ESA has failed. The more time we spend in the courts, the louder they’ll shout, and the more people will listen. I’d rather see management worked out so the states can be involved asap. Then again, what do I know? Moderate voices don’t get heard much over the shouting these days.

  68. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    JB – am curious re. where do you live? I’m trying not to say that it must be in never never land, because it can’t be in Idaho. The deal is this: states don’t have to keep the population “healthy” – just enough wolves to prevent delisting. Hunters or the feds could whack out hundreds of wolves. Then, they and other powers that be in Idaho could sit down at night to watch FOX news, feeling swell about how things were going.

    W/o a doubt, the delisting issue will go to court. Being nice and sipping Coors beer with the anti-wolvers isn’t going to save wolves. Since Democrats control both houses of Congress, I don’t see the ESA being gutted even though Interior led by former Idaho Governor Dirkster Kempthorne might seek that. I have faith that the younger generation does care about endangered plants and animals and supports a strong ESA. If anyone is shouting it’s people like Ron Gillett and the rest of those who want to remove wolves “by any means possible” — including the Idaho state legislature.

    Coming up in the next months is a last stand for wolves in the Northern Rockies and if wolf supporters can’t do right by them, can’t save them from once again being eradicated, then may the Goddess of Nature help us all. Thank goodness for attorneys who litigate on behalf of wolves, salmon, owls and all things that cannot speak or vote.

  69. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    JB – I happen to agree with you regarding state management. (And Lynne, that does not mean that I don’t also agree with you, too.) While is is true that there is a couple of sentences at the beginning of Idaho’s Wolf Management Plan that states that the policy of the State is to remove wolves, the rest of the plan goes into how the state intends to manage them post-delisting (I know, not the greatest plan, but it is what we have). As I said before – I think – the best way to influence the new wolf harvest plan being developed is to try and make a case for non-consumptive uses of wolves (that is such a terrible way to put it). For better or for worse, IDF&G is developing the plan, and their main constituents are hunters. This is a “harvest” plan we are talking about, after all. While it is true that its implementation will probably be delayed by litigation, that is just delaying the inevitable. I strongly believe that we wolf advocates need to find a way to let the powers that be know that there is an economy ready to be developed in wolf watching and then put our money where our mouths are. But another thing I also believe – it will be critical in the long run to get the hunting community on our side on this issue. We may not 100% agree on all aspects of wolf management, but they would be a powerful ally to have. Consider if those groups demanded a robust population of wolves, like they do deer, elk, bear, and lions. I know – it is like comparing apples to oranges as far as hunting in concerned, but those groups would be important allies in long term wolf conservation. I’m not saying that long term, viable conservation can’t happen without them, but it sure would be easier…

  70. catbestland Avatar

    I agree with you that it could be beneficial to have hunters as allies in the battle over wolf population control. However, the problem I see is that a large portion of those hunters are also ranchers. You would think that hunters would naturally wish to see populations high in an animal they target for hunting, but from what I gather, that is often NOT the case.

  71. be Avatar

    i’ve always wondered why there is such an inherent dislike for going to court. it’s like going to court would be worse for some than watching the vigor and intent of the ESA ~ the law ~ or the species and habitat it protects fade away.

    i would like to see wolves cover more territory ~ a thousand living wolves caged in the contrived ‘suitable’ habitat (habitat w/o livestock as the actionable condition) leaves a lot of public wildlife habitat and ecosystems absent wolves’ enhancing contribution. wolves are restorative ~ and we’re learning more and more about how our environment needs restoration…

    it seems to me like what’s on the balance is the integrity of the ESA ~ whether it, like too many state wildlife agencies ~ manage exclusively for single-species numbers. i don’t think it does ~ another thread which demonstrates that place/habitat has mattered in practice as well..

    on the one hand the law can accomplish X number of wolves managed by adversarial interests and confined in such a way that detaches the potential of their important contribution to the context of their, and our, public environment. we can set the precedent that “suitable” habitat has less to do with biology or ecology ~ and more to do with the adversarial, industrial interest’s (Livestock – originally responsible for extirpation) ‘sociological’ propensity to kill the wolves (and call it science). we can ignore the integrity (or applicability) of how science is operationalized by allowing states to ‘scientifically manage wolves’ ~ knowing full well that the science that they apply has little to do with ensuring the recovery of wolves and more to do with ensuring artificially contrived numbers of specific trophy animals ironically robbed the very predator that makes them wild. this is one interpretation of the ESA ~ and I am sympathetic to advocates who fall back on this as the baseline given being steeped in this administration …

    on the other hand the ESA could help actualize the full potential of the recovery and ensure that the grace of the wolves in the context of historically diverse ecosystems ~ more than now allowed by an extractive and unsustainable industry (Livestock – or its cousin: the domesticated game industry ~ both grow stock to the detriment of wildlife on the public’s dole) is allowed to take place.

    i would say that a wolf in the GYE is different than one in the Cascades and that a somewhat contiguous corridor of public land ought be provided. It won’t be given Idaho’s management plan. I would also argue that (my understanding) of the law could provide for that ~ via an administration receptive to conservation…

    ultimately, the shift in political winds demands a signal to our political leaders that the integrity of the ESA needs to be upheld ~ especially after this administration. we can and should expect more and need to push – bush has been pushing ~ and many conservationists have been sliding … all the way back to where we believe that the ESA is all about numbers… imagine the effect that letting this one go ~ with all its salience ~ would have on other lesser-regarded species ~ and ultimately on the hope that the ESA is a tool to help restore ecosystems in addition to icons…

    the best science matters, how the science is operationalized matters, the context/habitat with regard to ecosystems matters. given my exposure and understanding (and ultimately my hope) of case-law with regard to listing & delisting, a judge won’t decide it’s time to delist ~ it’s probable the worst case scenario is that it will be deferred to agency. that necessitates this issue remain in court until this outlaw regime is ousted…

    how would it be to be able to see a wolf in Oregon with even a fraction of the assurance as folk have in Idaho or Yellowstone ~ would the experience be different? valuable?

    idaho could be a corridor ~ not a blockade…

  72. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    be – excellent points – well said.

    catbestland – i would not jump to the conclusion that a large portion of hunters are also ranchers. I would venture a guess that a large portion of ranchers also hunt, but I’m not sure if the reverse is also true. Maybe overstating the number of people who “ranch” as compared to the total number of people who hunt, at least in Idaho.

    Clearly, hunters in a general sense right now do NOT wish to maximize the numbers of wolves for the benefit of the hunt, but that does not mean it will always be the case. I believe there will need to be a cooling off period, and perhaps the challenge of a wolf hunt, as it develops or if it allowed to develop, will gradually shift peoples’ attitudes about the species. I have been told that there used to be a similar attitude about hunting lions, and while there still may be a negative perception, perhaps it could be that the majority opinion of those who choose to hunt lions is that they should be managed to allow for good hunting.

    But to get back to be’s point about scientific management – clearly the way big game is managed in the real world today is often at odds with good scientific management.

  73. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Great comment! And not just because I agree.

    Yes, there is nothing wrong with going to court. It is our right (still). We go to court because the enforcement of our public land laws have been subverted by this Administration in a manner similar to their wholesale subversion of many laws.

    With a Republican or Democratic Administration respectful of law, there wouldn’t be so many lawsuits.

    You can go to court, but you don’t win if your case is bad. (on the facts or the law). The notion that all it takes to stop some project harmful to public land or wildlife is a motion and a first class stamp is another of Senator Larry Craig’s manipulations of language. He is a true pioneer in stirring up confusion about public land management and the conservation of our environment.

    No, you have to have a good case to win, and the agencies keep providing Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project all too many good cases.

  74. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    I just can’t imagine hunters ever being allies in wolf recovery. Every single one (and that’s been quite a few) that I have talked to never mentioned the challenge of the hunt, they just want to kill wolves, so there is more of something else (deer, elk) for them to kill.

  75. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    Tim Z.
    Please realize that not all of us that do hunt are like that. I tracked with the wolf project so I have seen the data that supports how important wolves are to a healthy ecosystem. Admittedly I am in the minority, but what hunters should be understanding is that healthy prey animal populations is what keeps hunts available to us. Also what I mean by “healthy” is not the Northern Range circa 1992 with 20,000 elk on it. That is an unnaturally high number, and therefore not in any way “healthy”.
    Quite frankly there is no better way to keep populations healthy than natural predation. Human hunting is a tool to reduce animal populations, but should not be considered as an effective replacement for natural predation. Human hunters cannot tell except in extreme conditions what the age or health of an animal is before they pull the trigger. Wolves obviously can, the data supports it. Unfortunately there is a segment of the hunting population out there that is just not getting the big picture.

  76. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    Well said Dan, and I have met a few hunters like you who do get it and I respect those guys and their right to ethically hunt. Unfortunately they have been very few and far between.

  77. elkhunter Avatar

    I am all for wolves as long as they are managed just like all the other animals, elk/deer/wolves/cougars/bears or any other animal.

  78. JB Avatar


    Currently, I live in Ohio. But I’ve lived in Berkeley, CA, in Logan, UT, and in Minneapolis, MN–not to mention a few places in northern Michigan. In short, I’ve lived with staunchest of Republicans and the most radical of the liberals–and very near the heart of wolf country.

    In my opinion most “anti-wolfers” don’t really oppose wolves. They oppose “eastern liberals” (their words, not mine) trying to cram the ESA (and accompanying its habitat protections) down their throats. When wolf-lovers stand up and call them names and shout them down, then the wolf-lovers only add fuel to their fire–they/you/we simply confirm the anti-wolfers stereotypes of hippie, liberal, animal-loving, big government, communist…blah, blah, blah.

    The nasty truth is that kind of recovery that “be” writes of is not possible without these people’s help. Defenders realized this when it initiated the compensation program. I think if more anti-wolfers sat down with wolf-lovers they would find they have more in common than they think, and just maybe, some trust would develop. And trust is the most important part of a good relationship! 🙂

    Before you tell me I’m living in dreamland, I’m not suggesting you should invite Ron Gillette over for coffee–some people are beyond hope. But if you convince just a few % of people in the middle that you’re reasonable, you make him look all the more of a fanatic! 🙂


    Dreamland, OH

  79. JB Avatar

    Be, Ralph:

    I dislike the courts because they set up a win x lose situation. Lately, Defenders and other conservation groups have been on the winning side and so we all sit back and cheer. But winning comes at a price. While we sit back and slap each other on the back the property rights advocates use these cases to convince more people that we are the extremists.

    Many people think it is great that wolves have become an icon for the preservation movement. I disagree. I think we’ve made wolves a political pawn–and it could be to their detriment. Remember, it is the hunters, ranchers, and rural people that live in proximity to wolves. It is their tolerance, ultimately, that will determine wolves’ success.

    Also, it is important to point out that many of the law suits won by conservation groups that we love to point to as indicators of how the Bush administration is subverting the law were actually begun under the Clinton administration (or earlier; e.g. the flat-tailed horned lizard, canada lynx). If you think that Democrats in power will mean a sudden change in the way the Act is interpreted and enforced, then I believe you’re mistaken. And if the property-rights groups get this to the Supreme Court, the pats on the back we’ve been giving each other may have a decidedly different flavor.

    Just my 2 cents.


  80. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    JB in Dreamland Ohio – I don’t agree with you that making the wolf an icon is wrong. Salmon advocates trying to save Snake River Chinook Salmon have made the salmon the icon of the NW. They are trying to remove four Snake River dams! We are simply trying to save wolves. I always feel my job is not so difficult after I go to the Salmon Fest in Stanley and learn about progress (or not) on dam removal.

    I do talk to a lot of folks who are in the middle or undecided about wolves. We chat in grocery stores, restaurants, on the street, in the post office, on field trips and elsewhere. They know about our abundant elk numbers and that winter range is what determines whether elk and deer survive. One point I bring up is that it’s likely that more elk and deer are killed on our highways then what wolves take. I’ve asked IDFG for roadkill numbers but they don’t have them. Decreasing the speed limit at night to 55 mph would help.

    I think you’re missing the fact that the West is about a lot more than ranchers, hunters and lifetime ruralites. Studies have shown that the paycheck coming from the outside (like in retirement checks) are a major source of income for new people moving in. New could be considered 30 years or less. An impressive number in rural counties are people who work for the Forest Service, BLM, other state agencies and local government. Many rancher kids (I was one) are moving on to other jobs. They might work their summers being river guides, or forest techs, fire fighters, whatever. What I’m saying is that there are many people here who do like wolves. But they aren’t the ones who get the headlines.

    Come out to a wolf meeting sometime and see who is doing the shouting, it isn’t us. And I don’t agree that anti-predator types think much about the ESA. They are focused on getting rid of coyotes, wolves, foxes, badgers, porcupines and all the other varmints — anything that’s not elk, deer, pronghorn, chukar or china rooster, etc. The most vocal opponents of wolves are “sportsmen” fueled by misinformation put out by groups like Idaho Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife and Gillett’s anti-wolf coalition. We’re not going to change their minds.

    I steer as clear as possible of Gillett. When I think back to that day in May 06 when I faced him down when he had a rifle in his hands, I get chills. I’d never do it again.

  81. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    There was a WWP meeting in Pocatello, Idaho last night with an enormous overflow crowd. There a local doctor, turned hobby rancher (doctor, meaning educated, I hope) said wolves take children at bus stops.

    So I’m saying ignorance is widespread and may be feigned. It will not go away. We can’t wait for consensus before taking legitimate political and/or legal action or nothing will be accomplished. Consensus will probably never lead to any important political change.

    We don’t have illusions about Democrats (haven’t you noticed the criticisms of Harry Reid here?), but things were better for grazing administration federal wildlife management and there was less political conflict in this area in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was in office. At that time too the restoration of the wolves was very successful — restored against the wishes of the newly Republican, Idaho state government.

    The Republicans became the anti-environment party in about 1980, even if the Democrats are not clearly the pro-environment party; and the 1300 wolves in the Northern Rockies is testament that with bad politicians like the recent Idaho governments (totally Republican) and Wyoming (Democratic governor Dave Freudental) wolves can be restored amidst ignorance and hostility from certain powerful groups and individuals.

    Too many conservation groups have talked about and started meeting in consensus groups just when we may be on the cusp of political change. That doesn’t mean the change will be immediate. The last great political realignment in the United States was in the 1930s. From what I have read of that period, it took a decade for New Deal policies to filter down and create a sea change in American politics and the administration of what we would now call the environment, or wildlife and lands.

  82. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    “Too many conservation groups have talked about and started meeting in consensus groups just when we may be on the cusp of political change. That doesn’t mean the change will be immediate.”

    Ralph – those conservation groups that get reviled here for participating in consensus groups in Idaho, and I know who you’re talking about, are trying to encourage and build the new political realignment, just using different tactics. We refuse to wait for that political change, but that does not mean that we don’t wish for it to come – in fact I believe that this work only helps to bring that change about sooner. Political change does not always have to be top down, though it does help as you clearly point out in your most recent post regarding the Clinton years.

  83. Layton Avatar

    “You can go to court, but you don’t win if your case is bad. (on the facts or the law).”

    Uhhhhhh, hello — does the name O.J. Simpson ring a bell??

    Hoping to just clog up the courts for a period of time to help the wolf numbers while the issues “grind through” is pretty much what a lot of people that do NOT worship the wolf would expect.


    Trying to use logic?? Trying to be a “moderate”? Not exactly tactics that are popular here. If one does not exhibit a blind loyalty to the democratic party and worship at the alter of “wolves forever” one is not credited with the ability to even think logically, let alone being able to cull facts from dreamy visions of some sort a utopia where wolves don’t eat or kill other animals just for fun.

    Sorry, just reading this thread on a Saturday morning is pretty discouraging. Seems that NEVER will any sort of management or control of EVEN ONE wolf ever be a viable thing in the eyes of the folks here.


  84. Layton Avatar

    Saturday, well I’m only one day off — maybe tomorrow will be better 8^).


  85. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    We say lots of negative stuff about Democrats here too, as I just pointed it.

    Of the two political parties at present, a lot of people think they are both pretty bad (polls show it), but I think on these issues the Republicans are much worse and not getting better, and they are going to get tromped because of health care, the continued US presence in Iraq’s civil war, a sinking economy, and much more.

    Will the Democrats be able to pick up the pieces? I hope so, but wouldn’t count it happening quickly.

  86. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    “There a local doctor, turned hobby rancher (doctor, meaning educated, I hope) said wolves take children at bus stops.”

    RALPH, I have come to the conclusion after working in the business and law enforcement fields my whole life that most MD type doctors, while highly trained, are not blessed with the level of education that goes with the PhD. I’ll bet your local Dr. is not a PhD cause most of them cannot afford a hobby ranch. Perhaps the last book he read was Little Red Riding Hood.

    LYNNE, “One point I bring up is that it’s likely that more elk and deer are killed on our highways then what wolves take.”

    Anecdotally I am convinced you are correct. The local Dubois Game Warden has conducted his own study of road kill for the last three winters. He patrols 20 miles South and 20 miles North each day or some of his friends substitute for him when necessary. We tracked road kill by species, sex and location. The results are astonishing.

    The purpose of the survey was to gather data to be used in an attempt to get G&F & the Highway Department to invest in localized (high kill area) motion sensors which activate flashing warning lights upon the presence of large animals in the ROW. Wyoming has several places where these devices are in use, but none up here.

    During the winters of 2004, 2005 and 2006 no less that 175 animals were killed (not counting theones that ran off to die thus could not be found) and in 2006 the number was 212. An average of 10% were elk, 3% were small animals and the balance were deer with 15% being bucks.

    If one uses the low year count (175), ignores the elk and small animals 152 deer were killed, 129 of them does.

    I have not heard of anyone claiming a wolf pack kills two and a half deer per day.

    Even more astonishing, if one accepts a general estimate that the average doe produces off spring 8 times, disregarding multiple births, each road killed doe represents future loss in excess of 1,000 deer over a decade.

    These numbers represent just 40 miles of road and apparently it is not one of the most dangerous stretches of Wyoming highway, we don’t have motion detectors yet.

    Check with your local highway department supervisor, they pick up the road kill. Also, the Idaho State Patrols traffic accident annual reports should show at least how many car/animals accidents occurred on the state highways and the Sheriff should have that info for the county roads.

    Thanks for suggesting this thread and RM thanks for creating it.


  87. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    Ralph & Lynne,

    Sorry about the 2.5 deer per day, should have been .4. I am neither an MD nor a PhD, nor do I review my writing very carefully.

    Still have not heard of a wolf pack that kills a deer every other day all year long.


  88. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley

    Speaking of the Bushies, check this out on the YNP forum.

    The next 13 months are going to be hell!!!

  89. JB Avatar


    Was trying to think of how best to respond when I read Matt’s post. I think his description of the “top-down” versus “bottom-up” approaches is dead on. Not surprising that the political scientist is advocating for top-down political change, while the psychologist (me) advocates a bottom-up, relationship-building approach. Same goal, two different ways of thinking. Still, I firmly believe that you don’t win any converts by telling people their wrong–even if they are. Maybe you’re right, and we’re on the brink of a major shift in political thought in the West. I truly hope this is the case, but if not….

  90. JB Avatar


    I’ve been to more than one meeting on wolves. I watched Don Peay (the founder of “Sportsmen” for Fish & Wildlife) nearly blow a gasket shouting at Ed Bangs to hurry up with the delisting so the states could manage wolves–he was concerned about Utah which, to my knowledge still has an official population of zero. People like that are beyond hope. What I’m saying is that many conservationists/preservationists/wolf-enthusiasts have been overzealous in their advocacy of wolves and have shown little desire to compromise. While the courts may be working for us at the moment–and I know I’m restating but it’s worth saying again–it is the tolerance of people who live in proximity to wolves that will decide the success of wolf conservation. Thus, we may be needlessly alienating the very people who have the most potential to affect wolf recovery.

    You said, “I think you’re missing the fact that the West is about a lot more than ranchers, hunters and lifetime ruralites.” I not only understand this, I think my comments make it clear that I consider these groups as essential to wolf recovery.

    I’m not trying to stake out some crazy position here. I’m suggesting the collaborating and compromising may, in the long run, be more beneficial for wolves that fighting things out in the courts and needlessly making enemies of *some* people that could be allies.


  91. JB Avatar


    Here in the Midwest we have very reliable data on car-deer collisions and I can tell you, without a doubt that cars take more deer than wolves. Michigan alone has roughly 65,000 REPORTED car-deer collisions per year (the estimate it’s likely twice this number). Last I checked (a few years ago) Wisconsin had roughly 45,000 reported, and Ohio has roughly 30,000 (I know there aren’t wolves in Ohio, but I thought the figure still might be useful for extrapolation).

    Out West is different–fewer roads and ungulates, less cover, and different types of animals. But I think you’re on safe pretty safe ground suggesting that cars take more game than wolves.


  92. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    JB & Don – thank you for the data re. roadkills. Highway 75 along the Salmon River between Stanley and Salmon takes its share. Between Clayton and Challis is deer and elk winter range and sometimes so many are hit, that the predators can’t get to them all. Suppose my neighbor Ron Gillett would consider this if we had a chat?

    Layton – I wish you a pleasant weekend and realize how hard it must be to listen to all us wolf lovers! We aren’t as bad as you think, nor all born Democrats. I hail from Republican roots in Oregon and once was a “Nixon girl” in a parade, wearing a sash that said “Nixon’s the one!”.

    I never understood way back when why people I knew from Idaho voted for Democrats. Afterall, Oregon had Governor Tom McCall, Republican, the reason why Oregon had the first “bottle bill” in the country (Bottle bill = a deposit on soft drink and beer containers) and kept Oregon beaches public.

    Ralph is on the mark, as usual, with regards to our two political parties.

  93. Moose Avatar

    From Mich Dept of Trans:

    Car-deer crashes in Michigan cause at least $130 million in damage annually, with an average cost of $2,135 per vehicle,” said Michigan Deer Crash Coalition Chair Jack Peet.

    According to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center, there were 60,875 deer-vehicle crashes in 2006, up from 58,741 crashes reported in 2005.

    Many crashes also go unreported, so actual crash numbers are much higher, officials said.

    Last year, 12 people lost their lives in deer crashes and another 1,477 were injured in Michigan.

  94. JB Avatar

    Thanks Moose. Here are some more links to articles on car x deer collisions. Summary: Ohio (2006) 28,000; Minn. (2002) 19,000; Wisc. (1996) 40,000.

    In 2005, State Farm estimated 1.5 million collisions annually, resulting in 150 human deaths and over 1 billion (with a ‘b’) dollars in damages. And the livestock industry has the nerve to complain about wolves?!


    From a 2007 article on Ohio: “The Ohio State Highway Patrol says more than 28,000 deer-vehicle collisions were reported on the state’s roads last year, up 3.3 percent from 2005.”

    From a 2002 MN DNR webpage: “DePerno says you should never assume that there’s just one deer. They usually travel in groups. Minnesota averages 19,000 car/deer accidents per year, causing 450 injuries and two deaths.”

    From a 1996 Wisconsin DNR article: “Every year, more than 40,000 deer collide with cars on highways and back roads. These accidents injure people, kill deer and cause an estimated $90 million in damage claims. Some auto body shops report 25-50 percent of their income is generated by car-deer collisions.”

    From 2005: “State Farm estimates that 1.5 million vehicles collide with deer every year, resulting in 150 motorists deaths and $1.1 billion in vehicle damages.”

  95. be Avatar

    They oppose “eastern liberals” (their words, not mine) trying to cram the ESA (and accompanying its habitat protections) down their throats.. … anti-wolfers stereotypes of hippie, liberal, animal-loving, big government, communist…blah, blah, blah.

    blah, blah, blah indeed… I’ve been called many of those things, and a couple of them are true ~ I’ll leave it up to whomever to imagine which of them is accurate ~ and leave it up to the rest to judge me and others on the merit of the enunciated ideas.

    For my part, I’ve learned from some wise folk I’ve been given the great fortune to associate with not to let those characterizations distract me from using my small voice to keep the relevant issues at hand highlighted where I can ~ wildlife, wolves, the intent of the ESA and the promise of a new paradigm. IMO, Those on grander scales who act in fear of such characterizations turn such controversies into liabilities ~ as you suggest, and demonstrate to all a lack of trust in their own ideas. By reacting to them in this fearful/avoidance way, they give wolf-opponents an aura of legitimacy which they themselves would not have if left to their own reaction/accord.

    On the other hand, those willing to allow themselves to be characterized as such and keep their part/contribution to the conversation about the wildlife, the wolves, the intent of the ESA and the promise of a new paradigm turn controversy into an asset, demonstrate that the relevant subjects and ideas are worth taking mud over, that they believe in them enough to take the personality hits, and that you should too. I believe that this approach deflates advocates’ contribution to an aura of legitimacy associated with the devolution of the topic into personality assaults.

    the issue is wildlife, wolves, and the integrity of our ESA

    The nasty truth is that kind of recovery that “be” writes of is not possible without these people’s help. Defenders realized this when it initiated the compensation program.

    Respectfully JB, I hear you, but I just fundamentally disagree. look, anti-wolfers are not the majority ~ their opinion does not reflect the opinion of the majority. their hyped influence over management is the result of their ability to hitch themselves onto the political wave with regard to bush et al and this administration’s maximized/radical political opportunism garnered in the context of issues completely unrelated to wolves. that wave is descending ~ this administration is burning every last remnant of political legitimacy, public support, and political capital it has – and taking the cowboy image they exploited with them through the gutter. Those who invested in that image made the wrong investment as far as I can see from my armchair. The threat now is that advocates will continue to respond from that exhausted fulcrum ~ and that in doing so, political leaders will be given the message that this issue is ripe for triangulation ~ in responding from said fulcrum, advocates legitimize it. Once again, from my armchair, I’d rather expend that capital on stiffening/restoring the backbone of the ESA and enunciating the message such that these issues are affixed to the groundswell of salience associated with the political change-up, global warming, etc..

    the compensation program has demonstrated advocates’ willingness to respond to relevant/rational interest disputes ~ i.e. opponents economic interest. for advocates’ part ~ look at how much that extension of good-faith has brought with regard to opponents political influence and posture?

    the issue is wildlife, wolves, and the integrity of our ESA

    If you think that Democrats in power will mean a sudden change in the way the Act is interpreted and enforced, then I believe you’re mistaken. And if the property-rights groups get this to the Supreme Court, the pats on the back we’ve been giving each other may have a decidedly different flavor.

    Opponents have been leveraging influence over politicians with the threat of controversy for years ~ and their efforts have paid off – on both sides of the ticket. IMO, Clinton was better than Bush ~ but as one example ~ Babbitt demonstrated the Democrats’ willingness to betray the conservation movement at the initial whiff of controversy and the slightest sting of political punishment. This can be received by advocates in many ways (gray) two of which i’ll postulate (black & white):

    A.Bummer, I guess we were wrong, maybe if we give the interests that spanked us a little bit more, they’ll be willing to give us a little.” We need look no further than the past 6 years to gauge the effectiveness of that posture. Or …
    B.The Democrats are vulnerable to controversy and political triangulation, they respond to the stick. That information is valuable.” If avoiding controversy is what motivates politicians ~ then advocates better be willing to spur it to have their voices heard and to incentivize a supportive response.

    In other words, I agree with you JB – I don’t believe that the Democrats will “pick up the pieces” of their own volition ~ nor do I believe that it’s ultimately their responsibility. They haven’t demonstrated a propensity to do much more than react. That being said, I do believe that they are the more malleable of the two party’s on this issue ~ and that they should be confronted with a posture, from those whose responsibility it is to advocate for the public environmental interest, that is as resolved about the assurance of our public interest as opponents are about securing their private interests. It’s advocates’ responsibility to clearly and robustly enunciate their interest. I think I’ve demonstrated how I believe that keeping a reactionary posture emboldens the wrong interest with undue legitimacy ~ and obscures the enunciation – thus likelihood – of ours being realized… for what it’s worth.

    the issue is wildlife, wolves, and the integrity of our ESA

    those conservation groups that get reviled here for participating in consensus groups in Idaho, and I know who you’re talking about, are trying to encourage and build the new political realignment, just using different tactics. We refuse to wait for that political change, but that does not mean that we don’t wish for it to come – in fact I believe that this work only helps to bring that change about sooner. Political change does not always have to be top down

    matt, i can appreciate the intention of the consensus movement in so far as it remains focused on the conservation of wildlife and wild places ~ and in so far as wildlife-advocate participants are willing to judge their participation ~ their contribution to ‘consensus’ on the standard of wildlife conservation ~ and in so far as the results contribute to conservation beyond what is already provided for by law. from my perspective this organizing principle/strategy is prone to slip from that. not just as a consequence of the integrity of the people involved ~ but as an inherent function of the systemic organization. it’s not personal. participants are apt to ‘feel good’ about consensus or collaboration ~ and i don’t see how one can argue that such a response can do anything but creep, obfuscate and vent the natural agitation that serves to hold conservation interests accountable to conservation standards ~ all of this under pretenses other than conservation ~ i.e. collaboration.

    unfortunately, the strategy is prone to undercut and co-opt the adversarial approach that has been serving the best interests of our nation since its inception (see end of Federalist No. 51 brought to us via James Madison). especially when the table is stacked and the only interest willing to walk is extractive.

    It unduly holds hostage the efforts of all to the volition of one regardless of the rational merit of said interest.

    It dilutes and subverts the rule of already established law by making ‘consensus’ the actionable standard as opposed to law.

    and as i mentioned before – it puts conservationists in the position of infusing oppositional interests with a depth of legitimacy that i believe they should have to earn on their own in the public eye, and can gag conservationists from the opportunity to shine light on less-than wholesome practice or freely and properly enunciate the values that we represent – for fear of breaking ‘consensus’.

    all of these tendencies could be avoided – but avoiding them relies on the integrity of the interests involved ~ the participants ~ of which one subject ~ wildlife, is not enfranchised. i would rather rely on a systemic mechanism that avoids them as a matter of its organization and relative distance from the dirty but necessary practices of our political and economic systems. i would rather all interests be able to tell the truth as they see it, without threat of breaking ‘consensus’. that organization, as a matter of design is the courts. and the relative objectivity and distance afforded by the courts frees up the tongues of all the interests involved to develop the support of political coalitions.

    i guess i just trust the law as it stands, and the prospects of the public given the current political and economic realities to move it in a better direction.

    I’m not trying to stake out some crazy position here. I’m suggesting the collaborating and compromising may, in the long run, be more beneficial for wolves that fighting things out in the courts and needlessly making enemies of *some* people that could be allies.

    I would suggest that the compensation program was a compromise and a collaboration that responded to the rational interests of opponents. I would further suggest that we cannot advocate for collaboration and compromise ignoring the effectiveness of this program at satiating the the anti-wolf agenda. it didn’t ~ they still went for 10(j) rule ~ they still went for delisting despite the egregious precedent that sets for the ESA ~ they still got one of their political leaders to grandstand in front of the capital of Idaho amidst the bloodlust of a crowd. collaboration necessitates rational exchange and concern for interest premised on fact. we shouldn’t slide any more for the same promise that continues to run contrary to the experience of the last several years. they receive 100% compensation ! their fears of reduced elk numbers are not substantiated ! it’s public land ! to ignore these facts & others, and the facts regarding the effectiveness of the compromises of the past is to blindly found advocates’ posture on the same visceral grounding as opponents. We lose the ground that the demonstrable conditions premised on reason and fact will guide our response to the issue.

    it’s time to demonstrate and exude the principles of reason and fact in public practice that we purport to advocate with regard to management of wolves. their posture means that they may be difficult and controversial ~ not ours ~ compensation proves that.

    the issue is wildlife, wolves, and the integrity of our ESA

  96. be Avatar

    my apologies for burning so much real-estate

  97. JB Avatar


    I respect your passion regarding this position, but in my view passion IS the problem. Passion turns otherwise rational people into angry ideologues. I know, I know… the response is always the same: “it’s the other side’s fault, they’re the one’s that started the name calling.” That may be so, but as my wise grandmother used to say, “it takes two to have a fight.” My point: when conservationist adopt a rational position (which they usually do), refuse to get drawn into ideological debates (here’s the problem), and show AT LEAST SOME willingness to compromise, they take the weapon of polarization away from the other side.

    “the issue is wildlife, wolves, and the integrity of our ESA”

    Respectfully, I disagree. The issue is about people, people, and people. As I mentioned before–and no one here disagreed–wolves have become a symbol in a much larger debate. A symbol, by definition, represents something else. In this case, we have allowed ourselves to become drawn into debates about property rights, big government, states’ rights, etc., when we should have been talking about habitat quality and ungulate abundance. In so doing, we’ve allowed wolves to become a political pawn–a symbol of these larger issues. If wolves were really the issue, then this debate would be long dead, as most would agree, there are very few reasons for Westerners to oppose wolves. Rather, wolves have become a tool in a cultural “war” that many Westerner’s view as pitting a radical, liberal government against their very way of life.

    “the issue is… the integrity of our ESA”

    Again, I disagree: people, people, and people. The ESA is ink and paper. The law has no integrity, people have integrity. Don’t get me wrong, the issue of how the ESA is interpreted is certainly an important part of wolf management, but, to some extent, that interpretation will always depend on the views of the administration in office (no integrity there).

    Unfortunately, the issue is not about wolves. The issue is about people, all the meaning that they have heaped upon the Wolf (capital W), and all of the passions associated with this meaning. If we could make the issue about wolves, a simple four-legged critter that once roamed most of North America, then wolves would be much better off.


  98. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Thanks Ralph — although I did enjoy reading the comments about the “wolf man” film, now removed from this blog thread. Am curious, have not heard any word re. the Idaho Fish & Game Dept wolf hunting plan and public poll results that was supposed to be delivered to the Idaho Fish & Game commissioners at their meeting this past week. Any update?

    It’s been pouring rain in Stanley — what’s happening to the weather?! Sometimes we are at 20 below by Thanksgiving, and of course with snow, not rain. Shades of the northwest!

  99. Chuck Avatar

    I picked this up on the web this morning and was blown away, lets hope that this Rex Rammell does not get elected and would love for Mr Ron Gillett to ask for my signature as I would laugh in his face and walk away. But this is the first I have ever heard that a wolf kills for sport……I thought only humans did that?????
    What can we do????

    LEWISTON – A group of anti-wolf activists were talking about policy at the Lewiston Red Lion Thursday night.

    The Anti-Wolf Coalition is working on an initiative that would essentially allow the state to get rid of what they call a Canadian gray wolf “problem” in the region.

    “The facts are, each Canadian wolf will kill 16 to 24 ungulates,” said President of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition Ron Gillett. “For each one, they will kill twice that many for sport killing, then, they will follow the elks herds around in the spring, and kill the calves as fast as they’re born.”

    The coalition’s guest speaker, veterinarian Dr. Rex Rammell, is running to replace Larry Craig in the U.S. Senate. Rammell said he’s also against the state’s current wolf plan.

    “I’ve put together some scientific data that verifies the serious damage that they’re doing on the elk herds and the deer herds,” said Rammell.

    The initiative petition needs 45,893 signatures by April 1. If that number is met, and the initiative passed, it would give the state the right to not follow the federal government’s wolf management plan, and remove any re-introduced wolves from the area.

    “We are not against the Idaho wolf, the smaller Idaho wolf, that was here before,” said Gillett. “We do not have a problem with them.”

    Rammell said the petition isn’t just about killing wolves.

    “I’m an animal scientist, I’m a veterinarian, and I’m approaching it from a scientific argument,” said Rammell. “I wanted to prove that they are doing damage, and they’re going to take our numbers out, our big game numbers.”

    Gillett said he is holding meetings like Thursday night’s throughout the state in an attempt to fill the petition. Gillett said he would be gathering signatures this weekend’s gun show at the Nez Perce County Fairgrounds.

  100. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    The good news in this article was that Gillett is away from Stanley for several days and the local wolves and myself can sleep a little easier, temporarily.

  101. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    The topic of the ballot initiative has been discussed before and if I remember correctly should this be placed on a general ballot and pass then the immediate result would be putting wolves back under federal ESA protection.

  102. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Rex Rammell and Ron Gillett are FREAKS of nature.

    We need to counter their idiotic claims. I’m willing to go to some of their meetings if anyone else is…

  103. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There is an important question to whether you can really counter these assertions in a psychologically meaningful way. By that I mean in a way that will change opinions.

    Psychologists have found that if you repeat your opponents arguments, even the really stupid ones, it helps people remember them, especially when after they have forgotten the original source. Remember that this isn’t really about the wolf, but about disaffected rural and small town people. They probably need a better scapegoat.

    I suggest private email or the meeting you suggest to figure out some methods. The more sophisticated wolf opponents are reading this thread.

  104. Chuck Avatar

    Count me in, Ralph has my permission to give out my email address to any that want to discuss a plan.

    Email me directly at: Ralph

  105. JB Avatar

    “I’m an animal scientist, I’m a veterinarian, and I’m approaching it from a scientific argument,” said Rammell. “I wanted to prove that they are doing damage, and they’re going to take our numbers out, our big game numbers.”

    Hmm…that’s not science. The scientific method lays out a procedure for disproving a hypothesis–not proving something someone wants to be true.

    Ralph is correct. As a psychologist, I would suggest that you not bother with Gillette and his group–they are well beyond being influenced by any information you can provide.

  106. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    JB, my point in making one or more of their meetings is obviously (or so I thought) not to influence the organizers, who are well beyond hope.

    JB, do you know of my cousin, Dr. James Bray? He’s a well-known psychologist; presents around the world; is an author, etc.

  107. Chuck Avatar

    From all I have ever heard about Gillette I know there is no influencing him or his group, but if you present more factual information at any of those meetings and it makes them look like bigger idiots then they are, then the people can decide for themselves. Who would look better the calm well informed people or Gillette who get so pissed off that he start running off at the mouth?????
    But don’t get me wrong I am sure there are powers that be that don’t care what we say, that are going to rule in favor of getting rid of the wolves entirely, like for instance our wonderful govenor of Idaho (Butch Otter).
    I will admitt I am not the most informed person in the world, but just speak from what I have seen in my life, it seems to me whenever man try’s to play god and control mother nature, it back fires. It also seems to me that some people are of the idea that what they don’t understand or scares them, they kill. I understand where the ranchers are coming from-they are losing cattle and sheep to wolves, my answer to that is-the wolves were around long before the ranchers-but then you are going to have the people that say-well these wolves came from Canada-yes they did, that because white man killed the native wolves. Then you are going to have the big game hunters that say the wolves are killing all the elk and deer and they are having to hunt harder to find an animal to shoot- well I am a big game hunter and don’t mind hunting a little harder-I only hunt to put meat on the table for my family. There are so many sides to this, I could go on and on. I believe these are wonderful and beautiful animals and would hate to see them go extinct again for a 2nd time.

  108. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks for the comment Chuck.

    This blog has an amazing number of hunters who do have a holistic view of wildlife, who hunt for the meat, and/or for philosophical reasons — as far from being a Dick Cheney kind of hunter as is possible.

  109. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Chuck – you’re right on with your comment … . My experience is: “fight battles you can win” and don’t waste time on those you can’t … namely trying to reason with the likes of the anti-wolf coalition of Gillett. It’s the “choir in the middle” we have to reach and educate. I enjoy talking to kids and teens about wolves, wilderness and the like.

  110. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    Sorry Lynne, does this work better for you. We can’t be mixing our comments.

    Last year you got me jazzed about seeing some of the Idaho wolves, so end April we were up there wished we could have hooked up, some friends who were up the first of the month and did find your auto and I believe they might have left you a note. Yes, April was a good month for wolves and that’s why we were up on the front and back of the month. Wildlife are where you see them.
    If you are interested in 2 more couples let me know.

    Here we are again all jazzed and no snow. We’ve been talking and hope we’ll get connected the next time. They know Ralph and he’ll vouch for them. Think you’ll be hearing from them.
    Where do you find pack info? On the USFWS annual reports?
    Are the elk gathering yet? When we were there they were up slope from the museum there in Stanley. Heard the wolves had been on them a few days before, but no howls and no wolves. Did the fires come close? Did the wilderness access area on the back side of Grand Jean burn?
    It’s definitely as you say lots of snow with the elk in the FLATS provide great viewing. Talked with the ranger station, and actually met a couple of folks that were wolf friendly.
    With the whole town being for sale including Ron Gillettes place, I propose we buy the place up and make it a wolf sanctuary. Aren’t some organizations buy up habitat corridors???
    Thanks for putting this thread up again, still determined to see some wolves in the wilds of Idaho.
    Will continue to beat the drums and put-up smoke signals. To rally the friendly.
    With all the anti-wolf paranoia in Idaho are you suggesting that if someone is watching wolves in Idaho and they’re not in the network up there. They will be compromising the pack or wolves in someway?????
    Idaho has great wolf habitat that is a plus for wolves but difficult at best for viewing. However, half the habitat burned this past summer. Hence, a lot of wolves now being seen by watchers. Previously, not visible. As demonstrated by the appearance of the 7 in YNP.
    They are having a dickins of a time identifing them even with collars.

    Happy Trails and Have a howling happy holiday.

  111. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Hi – a quick response as am headed out for Thanksgiving! Yes, I’m saying that if one is not careful watching wolves that someone like Gillett could show up with his gun. It’s happened several times.

    Re. fires – yes, Idaho had some, but far from burning half the habitat.

    Ralph gave me an email address for you but it is bouncing back so please contact me via Ralph re. visiting. This is a world wide forum and there’s some things I’d rather not discuss. Happy trails to you, too!

  112. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Here’s an interesting view on the subject from Bryan Fisher. You can visit his “blog” which doesn’t allow comments here:

    This is in response to Rocky Barker’s article in yesterday’s Statesman. Fisher takes some liberties, as he always does, with his interpretation of some of the quotes from the article (read: he takes them out of context).

    Fisher’s blog is also a great place to get informed on the perils of believing all this nonsense about global warming…

    And I quote:


    According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, removal of predatory animals from the edges of civilization is a good thing and a sign of God’s blessing on a land. In fact, God promised ancient Israel that if the nation obeyed him, “I will remove harmful beasts from the land.” (Lev. 26:6)

    On the other hand, should the nation defy him, and refuse to listen to him and obey his commandments, a curse would come on the land: “I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock.” (Lev. 26:22)

    As a feature article in yesterday’s Idaho Statesman makes clear, due to dangerous environmental idealism, increasing numbers of ranchers in Idaho once again have to deal with the scourge of predatory wolves, after they had nearly been wiped out by the turn of the 20th century.

    According to the Statesman, this past summer five different packs of “marauding wolves” killed 19 of John Faulkner’s sheep, and scattered another 20 that he’s never found. And a sheep rancher in Hailey had to hunt around for another place for his sheep when wolves built a den right in the middle of his grazing allotment.

    Phil Davis’s livestock endured no less than six attacks from wolves this summer near Cascade, leaving five of his calves dead. Davis says the wolf is “an opportunistic, brutal, ugly killer. They don’t like it unless they’re (i.e., the calves) are bleeding and bawling.”

    The cultural elites in Sun Valley, of course, see predatory wolves as a charming tourist attraction and love to watch wolves eat road-kill elk alongside highway 75.

    Fear of wolves has caused sheep to bunch up instead of spreading out, which causes them to over-graze some spots and quit gaining weight. Faulkner figures wolves cost his sheep four pounds a head.

    And the Forest Service (“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”) has tightened grazing restrictions, leading Faulkner to say, “I’ve got more concerns with the Forest Service than the wolves,” which tells you all you need to know about federal government bureaucracy.

    One environmentalist sheep rancher is determined to avoid killing wolves, but admits he has no idea what “coexistence” looks like in a “wolf-saturated landscape,” and admits he soon may have no choice but to start killing them to protect his ability to provide for his family.

    Even a wolf advocate admits that some producers in “wolf country” have had to change their animal husbandry practices “dramatically.”

    The shameful thing is that by abandoning the moral standards of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and forsaking its teaching about man’s authority over the animal kingdom, we’re not even waiting for God to bring a curse on the land. We’re doing it ourselves.

  113. JB Avatar


    Sorry for the slow reply–have been busy at work lately! I don’t know your cousin, but psychology is a huge field. Actually, my area of expertise is in recreation and resource management–my training is in psych, but in practice I hang out with the biologists and resource managers.


    I’ve seen these types of arguments before and they strike me as desperate. A few years ago, Clark Monson, a professor in Geography at BYU authored a paper on the LDS view of wolves called “A House Divided: Utah and the Return of the Wolf.”

    His basic argument, as it was related to me at the time was:

    “LDS church leaders have, over the years, admonished members to respect all living things. I have several good quotes to support my opinion that Mormons have a responsibility to ensure a place for predators (including wolves) in Utah. I contend that the LDS community needs to live up to its doctrines that assert we need to have a recognizable environmental ethic.”

    Very much the opposite perspective of Fisher’s mindless drivel. Anyway, I’ve looked for this paper and can’t seem to find it, so if you’re able to locate it please let me know!


  114. Kevin (WA) Avatar
    Kevin (WA)

    I couldn’t find the article itself by Clark Monson, but I found the book it is published in. It’s called, “Stewardship and the creation : LDS perspectives on the environment”.

    After you posted that article I actually emailed Mr. Fischer. He did respond, but he like other anti-wolf people, I have talked to would not answer any direct questions unless it was with a question of his own. He would also not respond to any points that I made that I felt were valid. He would just continue to spout out the same things that all anti-wolf people do.
    He had no new points to make. To me he just seemed like another ‘mouth’ to spread anti-wolf information.


  115. JB Avatar


    Thanks for the cite!!


  116. Chuck Avatar

    I would think that some enterprising Idahoans would jump on the wildflife watching aspect of the wolves. Its amazing the amount of people over in yellowstone that just come there to watch wildlife, you figure wildlife viewing is a a year round thing, so depressed communities like Stanley could benifet from the money brought in, people need to buy supplies, eat, stay in motels, get gas. Also another question that has been pounding at my brain, all these people that claim the wolves kill so many animals, namely deer and elk, has anyone ever bothered to look at the number of animals that are killed from vehicles??? Am sure that would add to quite a few.
    On a closing note, I just wanted to wish everyone here on the board to have a very wonderful thanksgiving.


  117. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Chuck wrote: “I would think that some enterprising Idahoans would jump on the wildflife watching aspect of the wolves.”

    Which made me think: 1) livestock producers ARE in business; 2) the wildlife watching guide business IS a business; 3) the wildlife watching guide business could EXPLODE in Greater Yellowstone; 4) by eliminating wolves by proxy, i.e., “Wildlife Services” and later, by the states themselves, the wildlife watching guide businesses are being FINANCIALLY HARMED.

    There’s a lawsuit here, somehow, some way…

  118. JB Avatar

    Chuck wrote: “…has anyone ever bothered to look at the number of animals that are killed from vehicles?”


    I know this post is particularly long, but if you look about half way up you’ll see that we’ve actually discussed car x deer accidents in detail.


  119. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley


    So much for “sport Killing” by wolves. Seems that is the mission of SFW & Ron Gillett. I doubt the “mailman” ate the bear he killed. with the aid of the SFW founder.

    Romeo has been hanging in Juneau for about a year. He has been tagged the “Official Greeter” ’cause he is apparently curious about large groups of people that get off tour boats. Nick Jans did an article about him a couple of months ago in the Alaska magazine.

    Wonder how long he will last if SFW opens a chapter in Alaska?

    Photo credits:
    Anchorage Daily News & TOM KOHAN / Juneau Empire

  120. elkhunter Avatar

    Don Riley: You would be surprised to find out how many millions of dollars and habitat conservation projects SPW has headed. Dont be so easily swayed by what you read on this blog. The good thing about SPW is they actually DO something, vs just bitch and complain on an internet blog.


  121. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    SFW likes to argue that conservation groups don’t buy or improve habitat the way sportsmen’s groups do.

    If this is friendly competition to see who does the most, great!

    I want to remind you, however, that the Nature Conservancy has purchased billions of dollars of wildlife habitat all over the world, and while they are the largest land trust, there are thousands of land trusts.

  122. elkhunter Avatar

    Ralph: I looked at the Nature Conservancy, it seems the do alot, I like to see that. With all the crap that is talked about SFW you have to admit they DO ALOT.

  123. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Some independent person needs to go look at the SFW projects and make a judgment. That means not me, nor you, nor Hoskins, or Bray.

    One of the most important things about habitat that conservation groups do is work to modify and prevent habitat destroying developments on public lands. This is heavy work, but often consists of lifting heavy legal briefs.


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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Ralph Maughan