Wuerthner: Idaho's wolf plan panders to hunters and ranchers

George Wuerthner writes his usual kind of essay — sustained argument based on, logic, and data from scientific papers — the kind of material politicians usually ignore 🙁

Idaho’s wolf plan panders to hunters and ranchers. George Wuerthner. New West.

One thing Wuerthner doesn’t quite get right is that the plan is not a pander to hunters. It is a pander to outfitters, a subclass of hunters, whose interests are increasingly at odds with the average Idaho hunter. I will write more about this today. . . . here it is, see: Idaho “wolf viewing area” language is a menace to hunters and wildlife watchers.



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  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    While I agee with most of George’s essay, the part about wolves reducing coyote numbers needs to be updated.

    I spent about a month in Yellowstone this fall, photographing wolves and coyotes, and it was obvious that the coyote numbers are way up .
    In a conversation with two coyote researchers in the Lamar Valley in early November of this year, I was told that coyotes had recovered from their decline and the population was about the same as before the wolf introduction.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yes. I think you are right. The relationship of wolves to coyotes is going to turn out of be complicated.

    Coyotes are incredibly adaptable

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    As a whole, Idaho’s wolf plan, not to mention Wyoming’s, panders to commercial interests, both ranchers and big game outfitters.

    Interesting in this regard is the role of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, which claims to be a grass roots hunters organization. As we are seeing in both states, not to mention Utah, where SFW was spawned, SFW actually does nothing for the public hunter, while actually orienting its policies toward the demands of commercial interests for the establishment of private property rights in commercially valuable but publicly owned wildlife and hunting licences.

    SFW diverts this truth from the public hunter, its “constituency,” by beating the predator drum, constantly claiming that wolves and bears and coyotes are destroying their hunting heritage. We of course know this claim is false.

    All the while, the privatizers are doing more to destroy the public hunting heritage than all the animal rights groups combined. Unfortunately, few hunters actually understand what’s going on, and buy into the false claims about predators.

    I’m looking forward to what Ralph has to write later.


  4. jimbob Avatar

    Wuerthner’s article is brilliant. It also does a great job of pointing out the problems with Idaho’s plan. Shouldn’t this kind of research be required reading for Idaho’s decision makers? Most of us know how politics works: the only required reading or knowledge was political, not good sound science. THAT is the huge problem with wildlife policy in today’s day and age. Here in Arizona, most of our wildlife is managed for special interests–the only thing saving some species is the amount of inhospitable (to humans) country; but even that continues to dwindle.

    These Game and Fish Departments should know better. In most cases we trust them as the “best source of knowledge” and to protect the public’s interest. They don’t realize that to betray that trust ruins their reputation and forces people to take a stand against them instead of working with them.

  5. sal Avatar

    I saw the mission statement for IDF&G on their web site:

    Mission Statement

    The mission statement for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is found within the State of Idaho Wildlife Policy, which reads:
    “All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”

    And then the videos that supposedly justify this heap of poo:

    Fish and Game on Video

    The sights and sounds of Idaho’s wildlife bring to life the irreplaceable value of the natural world found in Idaho’s mountains, valleys and deserts.

    The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is dedicated to protecting our wildlife heritage. We accept the challenge, responsibility and obligation to preserve this legacy for future generations and for all who value a wild Idaho.

    See and hear for yourself what this means by watching the following videos: Go to the website for the vids.

    Yikes. Glad I defected to a more progressive state…

  6. Buffaloed Avatar

    Hey Sal, are you saying that Montana is more progressive than Idaho? Maybe, but not by much.

  7. sal Avatar

    Lest we forget that Idaho’s former anti-wolf governor is now the sec. of interior… He was the one who approved the anti wolf MOU’s that are still on the books. Those were written by dictation from none other than Ron Gillette and his gang of idiots/natural resource thieves and Senator Wide-stance and clones then approved by the “know-nothing” legislature…

    Now he’s ramrodding this ideology up our butts. He fits right in with the Bush “fuzzy-science-league”.

    Not to be mistaken with “warm-fuzzy-feeling” types.

  8. sal Avatar

    Well, Buffaloed,

    Yeah, but you do have a valid point. They are more progressive when it comes to the wolf issues but when it comes to the bison issues, I would have to say they are not so much at all.

    I work with the wolf program folks mostly and they have proven to be more reasonable than anyone I’ve encountered in Idaho or Wyoming when it comes to wolves. But then, wolves are protected by ESA statutes so they HAD to be more reasonable, by law.

    With the bison issues, they don’t seem to be able to deal with the high-powered screeches from the livestock industrial complex. If many of us had an actual voice in the FWP debate on bison, the bison would have ESA protection too.

    The wolf debate is still just as ugly when it comes to the livestock industrial complex as well as the professional hunting industrial complex.

  9. Don Riley Avatar
    Don Riley


    More interesting stuff out of Mont. They do seem much more tolerant on the wolf issue, perhaps because the ranchers in
    Montana appear to be so. The buffs have brucellosis but the wolves don’t kind of logic?

    Anyway, Montana is the clear leader over Idaho & Wyoming.


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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