Wolf population management plan not supported at Pocatello meeting

The Idaho wolf population management plan open house at Pocatello was a low key affair with about 45 people (excluding the Idaho Fish and Game staff). There were a lot of skeptical questions about the plan — how it was constructed, whether it would really maintain a large population of wolves, the length of the wolf hunting season, why the wolf tag price was so low, and I thought most interesting, the fact that the whole thing is based on the notion of conflicts between wolves and livestock and big game.

When Steve Nadeau, large carnivore coordinator for Idaho, said the wolf conflicts with livestock were on the rise with 200* dead sheep and 23 dead cattle (mostly calves) in 2006, it seemed no one was impressed that this was any sort of conflict level about which to base a hunting plan. When Nadeau replied that maybe 7 times as many cattle were really killed by wolves but not confirmed, it still didn’t seem to impress folks as very many cattle, and because Nadeau couldn’t point to any elk problems outside the Lolo and Selway, conflict between wolves and big games seemed like an odd way to base a plan. Nadeau then said the foundation of the plan (on conflict) was due to the earlier Idaho Wolf Conservation Plan.

I asked why all DAU’s (the wolf management areas) were slated for a decrease in wolf numbers or of stabilizing their numbers? Wouldn’t a balanced plan have some increase numbers goals too, especially in areas adjacent to SW Montana and Wyoming so that genetic interchange could take place?

A member of the audience and the interchange made it clear the plan was not supported by Defenders of Wildlife or the Idaho Conservation League, although both were among the “stakeholder” groups that participated. Nadeau said he assumed that when the wolf was delisted in March, Defenders would then sue.

Many other issues were raised, but neither the television station nor the newspaper did anything more that report what Idaho Fish and Game said. Note. The Idaho State Journal will be doing a followup on the Pocatello meeting.
To me, and I would guess most others, it was apparent the important decisions will be made at the March Idaho Fish and Game commissioner’s meeting, such as how large the first hunt will be — number of tags and whether the hunt will be general or limited to areas so they can test the effects and side-effects of a hunt before going for a statewide hunting season?

– – – –

Addition, Nadeau said he thought maybe having a wolf hunt would reduce the anti-wolf feeling among many. Those who got good at killing wolves, and he stressed how valuable a pelt is, would lobby for keeping more wolves around. Of course, if you want good pelts, you don’t hunt them August through November. The season should be December, January, Februrary


* Nadeau said the sheep figures were probably accurate because shepherds watch and know when a wolf has been in the sheep.






  1. kim kaiser Avatar

    are hunting tags and puchased or by lottery, andhow many do they intend or project to issue,just wondering, why couldnt they just be bought up by local groups to prevent or slow the hunting or limit the take,,that part i dont understand about the tags. just stand outside the issueing agency before they open, and buy them up,

  2. Chuck Avatar

    My guess is if it ever happens, it will be a controlled hunt, meaning only a certain amount of tags are available for resident and non-resident hunters, so yes in a sense it would be like a lottery.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The F&G Commission earlier on, before they learned to be more cautious what they say, talked about giving outfitters and supporters (like SFW) so many tags to sell.

    Seems like the privatization of government and maybe not legal.

    Given the wolf number goals for the deep Wilderness (minimum of 8 wolves for the Frank Church Wilderness, the largest in the lower U.S.), it looks to me like outfitters are going to be be fed very well.

  4. be Avatar

    the commission has yet to decide on the number ~

    here is video of nadeau presentation concerning this subject (structure of tags) from the commissioner meeting this year (1/25/07).

    they wanted to distribute some tags among commissioners and have 1 “governor’s tag”

  5. kt Avatar

    Just look at BE’s Video (#4 above) from last winter. It would be interesting to know just how much federal “Wolf Recovery” funding is being spent in playing out the CHARADE of a Wolf Plan that would undergo any significant change.

    The deal was already cut behind Closed doors with Butch Otter, the horrid FG Commission head Cameron Wheeler, Cattlemen and Woolgrower’s and SFW – well before Butch Otter’s Closed Door “Swearing In” last January 1.

    Otter is running this state on the longstanding pattern so familiar with Larry Craig’s treatment of his constituent’s over the years. You are either one of us – or you are dirt.

  6. Shirley Avatar

    I’m usually just a lurker, not a poster, but this wolf hunt plan is just angering me more and more. I, as a non-resident will purchase a tag, enter a lottery what-ever it takes, in hopes of getting a tag. Not for the chance to go on a hunt and get a wolf pelt, but to hang the best prize on my wall…..the tag, knowing at least one wolf was spared. Kim had an idea of buying the tags up, but if it’s a lottery, why not enter family and friends to better the chances of saving a wolf. I’m willing to pay the price to save a wolf. If all the wolf watchers, defenders, ect. ban together and enter the lottery who knows how many wolves could be spared sure death. I’m not an activist, I’m just person who doesn’t see the sense in killing these magnificent animals, when all they are doing is what comes natural to all living creatures….the art of survival.

  7. Chuck Avatar

    My opinion of Butch Otter is that he needs to go, he has done nothing good for Idaho. It would be so nice to watch Butch Otter and Larry Craig holding hands as they departed office.

  8. Buffaloed Avatar

    I like the idea of buying up all of the wolf tags but I doubt there will be much of a limit put on the number of tags. I hope I’m wrong though.

  9. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    I would buy a tag too, but I have a question. first off I live in Arizona, so I may be off a bit on this, I only know what I read on this site and a few others. It sounds like to me that a good majority of the folks that live in Idaho are against wolf hunts and mostly all predator hunts. It also sounds like not too many folks care for the way Craig and Otter run their state, their state meaning the regular people, not the ranchers and political folks that want to gain from destruction of our natural lands and wildlife. So how did these people get elected in the first place? and if your not happy with them then why are the folks in Idaho not writing these politicians office directly about how they feel? why are not people out picketing in front of those offices? Picket the ranchers too!!! make your voices heard! stand in line at the hunting license places, hold your signs up, purchase tags and let it be known why your purchased them. If I lived in Idaho that is what I would be doing. People need to realize strength comes in numbers, and you need to let these people know you will not be pushed aside on issues that effect your personal way you want to live in the beautiful, wild state of Idaho!!! Come on folks, get some backbone, get the word out any way you can. do any of these articles in Ralphs web get out to the general public to see or read? I don’t know, just asking…I think alot of good comes from this site and I hope that more than just us on this site get to read and comment. Thanks for listening!!! or reading…Ralph, thanks for all you do for wildlife!!!
    – – – – – —


    Larry Craig’s career is over. He is the butt of jokes although he can still cast a vote and make a difference on a close one.

    Idaho is a very Republican state, and although that party seems to be in real trouble nationwide and the Democrats are perhaps gaining some in Idaho, it is very hard to say most folks don’t like the way Otter is performing as governor. He’s not wildly popular, but not widely disliked either.

    When a person has a strong party loyalty, it is like a shortcut to a decision. What I mean is they have a standing rule for themselves — vote for my party’s candidate unless there is some specific thing I really don’t like about him or her. Strong partisans tend to also have psychological filters that stop them from perceiving negative things about their party until something dramatic happens. About 40% – 50% of Idahoans have a personal standing rule to vote Republican.

    I think most Idahoans do support a wolf hunt in the abstract, but the important thing they don’t know so far is this is not a hunt, but a politically well planned major reduction. I expect Wildlife Services will do much of the damage under the disguise of protecting livestock and helping elk.

    Idaho can change. It wasn’t a “Republican lake” until 1994. The governors were Democrats and conservationists for the 20 years before the big Republican takeover. The state legislature has been Republican since the 1950s.

    If there is a national crackup for the Republicans, and maybe third parties emerge, Idaho’s politics could be scrambled too. Opportunities for quick change are much greater in Montana. Ralph

  10. sal Avatar

    A lottery? Are you kidding? These clowns have been itching to rid Idaho of all wolves as soon as delisting takes place, (in fact, ever since reintroduction). Many aren’t waiting for that day, they just go out and “handle” it their way ragardless of the laws most of us abide by.

    Ever notice how Americans have hard time remembering that the laws are supposed to apply to everyone?

    The shoot, shovel, and shut up crowd proselytizing the supposed code of the west.

    Besides the closed door meetings that Otter held, don’t forget who is now the Sec. of Interior… the former governor of Idaho who went so far as to ban any state agent from having anything to do with wolves upon reintroduction. That’s why the Nez Perce got involved, and they had the most successful recovery in the three states.

    The Frank Church Wilderness is the same size +/- about 100-thousand acres as Yellowstone National Park (2.2 million acres) and the ID plan calls for approximately 8 wolves total, across 2.3 MILLION ACRES!!! What’s wrong with this picture?

    The number of humans that traverse the Frank Church number in the low thousands per year while the number of humans who pass through Yellowstone NP on a daily basis far exceeds that number, and there are no wolf conflicts there. No little girls being eaten by wolves, as Larry Craig would have the world imagine as an inevitability.

    But Larry, we’re talking REAL WOLVES here, the four-legged kind, not the human kind that you are familiar with.

    The only folks that would be complaining about wolves in the Frank Church would be outfitters who used to be able to rely on elk hanging out in a baited fields like cattle. Kind of like Rex Romriel’s elk hunting cage near Island Park. Elk are ROVING UNGULATES: ungulates that constantly graze in a nomadic style, never staying very long in a particular spot.

    I realize that real science is the bane of this administration and Otter is a “party-line” kind of guy, so that means that no amount of reasoning, other than to buy/pander to their bull; it’s just going to find it’s way to the “circular file” in a NEW YORK SECOND.

    Somehow, I suspect that a multitude of public comments end up there lest they actually be seen by someone who might call on the state agencies for some sort of accountability.

    As for being an activist or just wanting to thwart the status quo, come on up here and see what it’s like to stand up against the ruling elite of Idaho; not necessarily the majority. If you’re lucky the bullying won’t be too bad and all you’ll have at the end of any given event is a set of targets tattoed on your temples and your car and house not vandalized.

    Wish it was really a democracy but I suspect there was never any such thing in Idaho; there’s no separation of church and state here. Ranching and outfitting qualify as a religion, it seems.

    Emotive appeals are what win elections here; something to be said for pride of ignorance, I guess. Idaho is one of the bottom five states when it comes to spending on education–and it shows.

  11. Jim Avatar

    No matter how many wolf tags are purchased and not used by wolf lovers, the state will keep selling more until they reach their kill goal.

  12. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Jim has a point. If the wolves are delisted there will be nothing to curtail the free-for-all that will follow. The very small group of exterminator wanna-be’s will do whatever it takes to get what they want.
    I would bet there are more folks who disagree with the plans. I would also bet those same people are sick and tired of small group’s running the show, so to speak. They are disillusioned at best. I really beleive it is more important than ever before to speak up, loudly. I know this is easier to say than do, when on a regular basis the voices of reason and factual proof are ignored in every level of government.
    What I fear is that the wolves will be treated like the bison. { by basically the same agencies.} With less wolves than bison, their demise may be quick, and thats why i beleive that everyone should stop procrastinating, ditch the feelings about not being heard, and in the words of my dad, “Raise a big stink”.

    Yes, this is a pep talk as much for the benefit of myself, as those who read it. I am absolutely infuriated!! The meeting about bison management/slaughter was pointless, as the powers that be had already made up their minds that when February 15th arrives, they are permitted to kill as many as 1,700 bison. The MDOL will be hauling them out by the truckloads if the winter is mild and most of the migrators stay in the park.

    sal mentioned accountability. The current administration is the poster child for accountability. {That term is rather large, it may have to be “dumbed down” a bit. }
    good night….
    Much gratitude and thanks for the forum….

  13. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Thank you Ralph for your response, sad as it is. I see a couple other readers feel like I do, ranchers/republicans, etc… sure have their voices heard, behind closed doors, let the public be heard loud and clear in the open, run ads, march, raise awareness in schools etc…I bet there are alot of retired or people otherwise in Idaho that would have time to do some important campaigning for various issues that need to be addressed fast, before it is too late.. Blessing to all that care about our lands and wildlife. I have been told by westerners that in the bible it states man has dominion over the animals and we can do as we see fit.(in so many words) the lord also states that the earth is a gift to man and we are to take care of it and honor it…..and all that resides on the earth, animals included….

  14. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    April, I agree – I believe we are to take care of the earth and all the animals thereof.

    From my bible, RSV, Genesis 1:31 – “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

    This is *after* the creation of fishes, birds, beasts and man.

    My interpretation is that yes, we are to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing, but along with being charged with that responsibility is the issue of being good stewards of all. This would include being good stewards of all predators and their prey.

    I think we’re failing the job…

    Mack P. Bray

    The opinions expressed herein, both presently and in the past, are solely those of the author.

    Thank God for freedom of speech in America.

  15. Layton Avatar

    Unpopular as it will be I’m going to chime in here. Seems that most everybody with an axe to grind has spent their nickle knocking Idaho now I have just a bit of rebuttal.

    First of all, if Idaho is so bad, how come it’s one of the fastest growing states in the US??

    I’m a native, I guess because of that I’m supposed to be: adamantly republican, grossly stupid , completely uninformed, blindly anti everything green, severely inbred and hopelessly gullible.

    I’ve got a flash for you, I’m none of the above — I have a good education, I vote for the candidate I believe in, I read and research most of the things I talk about (even some things I don’t), I pretty much stand with folks on this website concerning SOME environmental issues, I do have a family tree that branches and I’m not real easy to fool.

    I get a bang out of a lot of the comments concerning my home state on this blog, folks that have lived here for generations bitch (in a lot of cases) the loudest. Don’t believe everything you read here. It’s really NOT a lead pipe cinch that “most of the people in Idaho” believe all that is preached here ad nauseum.

    I travel the state (and the whole country) pretty extensively. I talk to people from Boise, where I live, to Orofino and Elk City — where I’m going hunting this week. I don’t detect this touted big change — of course that’s just “anecdotal evidence” and doesn’t mean much here — unless it agrees 100% with the current political and/or environmental leanings.

    I’ve lived in several other states for extended periods of time. I’ve also worked an lived in other countries, on this continent and in Europe and Asia. I live here because I LIKE it here.

    Do a little research before you join in the “piling on” you might be surprised.

    Another bit of anecdotal evidence that I might point out is the survey that Ralph pointed to from this blog last week. The question was something to the effect of “should a limited wolf hunt be allowed in Idaho”? I thought the results were quite interesting.


  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I am a native too, Layton, and I agree that Idaho is a great place. I could have made a lot more money by having an academic career in a state with less outdoor challenge, beauty, and interest.

    My view is that Idaho not like it used to be, however. Maybe that’s mostly because I’m not a Republican and I stand for conservation that is restorative in its goals.

    Too many people have moved in too, and a lot of the conflict over wildlife, protection of the land and water, and general politicall conflict is between the Old Idaho and the Changing Idaho. That conflict has lots of surrogates such as wolves and grizzly bears, even if you carry pepper spray.

    That’s on top of old conflicts like North Idaho versus Southern Idaho, Mormons and non-Mormons, city versus small town and rural, labor versus management (management won completely).

    Layton and all, that survey it not well constructed and didn’t get a representative sample. Nevertheless, based on that and other knowledge, I’m pretty sure most Idahoans support a wolf hunt as a generally good idea. If they knew the details of the wolf population management plan which is probably a big wolf reduction hunt plus lots of additional government killing, quite a few would change their minds.

  17. grizz Avatar

    I wrote an post today at http://www.huntingpressure.com on this issue. Any comments appreciated. I live in CO and do not know a TON about the issue but have my opinions. I would like to see more wolves in the wild but they must be managed properly. There seems to be to many people on either extreme (wolves everywhere w/ no hunting, vs those who want all wolves dead)
    – – – – –

    Grizz, that’s where I found your link to Ron Gilette’s delusions about wolf numbers. So I’m glad I went to your blog. I forget how whacked out some of these people are. Ralph Maughan

  18. be Avatar

    i like what d. bailey says up the thread a bit ~

    i think that a gathering is in order…


  19. JB Avatar

    Grizz said: “There seems to be to many people on either extreme (wolves everywhere w/ no hunting, vs those who want all wolves dead).”

    You hit the nail on the head, Grizz. Too many people “seem” to have extreme views on this issue. However, having conducted a few surveys in my time, I can tell you that the people who answer surveys are those with more extreme opinions–neutrality usually signals disinterest, and disinterested parties don’t return questionnaires. After looking closely at the survey results, I would be willing to bet that, were the data properly weighted, you would find that most people in Idaho would like to have wolves around and most would want some kind of management–including some limited hunting.

    I believe we’re seeing the same sort of “stand off” with this issue that occurrs with gun rights or abortion–either side is convinced that the other side wants all or nothing and so refuses to budge an inch–even though a compromise might be the best way to deal with the issue. Of course, some people on either side do want (no killing of wolves/all wolves dead), but they are in the extremely vocal minorities.

    In this case, the problem is that the “compromise” that has been reached (or proposed by IDFG) so favors the anti-wolf side that many of those that favor some management (my self included) do not see the plan as fair or viable. A big part of this is the domination of ranching and SOME hunting interests in the decision process. Were IDFG to take a balanced approach, you would here bitching from both groups of extremists, not just those who want more wolves.

  20. be Avatar

    i take issue with the idea that there are any wolf advocates who have wanted “all” ~ or anywhere near that. who has been vociferously insistent that there not be any killing of wolves – who that is, that has any authority, organizational backing, or bankroll to back it up ? of course – i’m not privy to those conversations but it seems that the problem is that those who exercise good faith are getting steamrolled at the table ~ and sidelined as “extreme” to boot ~ not so much because of their own conduct – but because the conditions are so favorable to Livestock & Big Game as to skew the perspective. despite such willingness to compromise as to jettison any notion of restorative contribution of wolves to wildlife management before even reaching the table. despite full compensation from private sources, additional compensation from public sources, “conflict” occurring on public land – federal – forage of which fees are depressed to hedge producers against hardships occurring on public land – etc…

    this process is a perfect example – a test of the virtue of compromise. the steakholders group was selected by IDFG, the interested parties play their cards – and then the results: nadeau touring the state – sending off that first impression of the plan as a product of the steakholders meetings – not true, but that’s almost irrelevant – it’s certainly irrelevant to the decision-makers. compromise in real world application.

    we’re dealing with interests that have a very good understanding, the political position, and the historically demonstrated predisposition with which to “compromise” the public environmental interest right out of their socks – and leave said greens labeled as extreme on the way out.

    what good is this steady-handed, self-censored compromise ? funny how it works best for those flanked with squeaky wheels.

  21. JB Avatar

    Be asks:

    “what good is this steady-handed, self-censored compromise?”

    You’ve never been married have you? 😉

    Me thinks we’ve had this conversation before; we compromise because that is the way societies function–that is how we get things done. If everyone took their ball home and refused to play every time a call went the other way, we would spend a lot of time alone grumbling, and not very much time playing! 🙁 The problem, to continue the basketball metaphor, is that the referee is being paid by the other team.

    As I said in my original post, the “compromise” in this case so favors the anti-wolf position that it is not, in fact, a compromise at all.


  22. Robert Wiley Avatar
    Robert Wiley

    “I’m usually just a lurker, not a poster, but this wolf hunt plan is just angering me more and more. I, as a non-resident will purchase a tag, enter a lottery what-ever it takes, in hopes of getting a tag. Not for the chance to go on a hunt and get a wolf pelt, but to hang the best prize on my wall…..the tag, knowing at least one wolf was spared. Kim had an idea of buying the tags up, but if it’s a lottery, why not enter family and friends to better the chances of saving a wolf. I’m willing to pay the price to save a wolf. If all the wolf watchers, defenders, ect. ban together and enter the lottery who knows how many wolves could be spared sure death. I’m not an activist, I’m just person who doesn’t see the sense in killing these magnificent animals, when all they are doing is what comes natural to all living creatures….the art of survival.

    You can try to buy a tag after you buy an out of state lisence. All you will be doing is supporting F&G and wildlife services to go out and shoot more wolves.

    Once the F&G realizes they are not killing enough wolves they will issue more tags.
    If that doesn’t work then they will be allocated on a first come basis to hunters with their Sporstman packages until the appropriate number of Wolves have been killed.

    Why not accept the fact that the introduction and recovery is a huge success and quit your crying about it.

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think that if a success was declared and then the wolf was treated pretty much like other big game animals most people would be satisfied, but I believe Idaho and Wyoming are planning large reduction hunts, plus direct killing on top of that.

    Now if that is the case, and I hope it is not, the fact that the reintroduction was a big success becomes just a sad curiosity.

  24. be Avatar

    “the “compromise” in this case so favors the anti-wolf position that it is not, in fact, a compromise at all.”

    what to do when that fact could/should be anticipated before hand (given the players) and the act of extending good faith is exploited to infuse the misbegotten plan perceived public legitimacy?

    this is the problem JB ~ the nebulous virtue of compromise being extended to eclipse the interests, motivations, and corruption involved. compromise makes everyone feel happy ~ and can even help an org’s wallet, but regard for people’s feelings are often not well executed advocacy. advocacy for wild things and places shouldn’t be about people or personality’s feelings ~ it takes a firm gut and a willingness to endure a whole lot of heat to speak up for things that can not speak up for themselves effectively.

    my bottom line point is simple ~ this process has been a real world application of compromise ~ and look at the results. the illusion is that there is a place where the “dominate the natural world” and “co-exist with the natural world” paradigms can find middle ground and compromise ~ perhaps this bears some level of truth, but i would suggest that the best compromise happens after both parties have shown teeth ~ it doesn’t work out for the timid. compromise post clean advocacy – then, the public can get a good illustration of exactly what each stand for and be held accountable to members on the basis of effectiveness.

  25. be Avatar

    & I do have a wife 😉 and i do compromise w/ my wife…

    but not with the guy that she’s sleeping with.*

    *not true but i think that’s a more honest analogy given the folk involved


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