The new 10j rule is out in final form.

Today the new 10j rule governing the “experimental, non-essential” population of wolves in most of Idaho, all of Wyoming, and most of Montana was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is what will govern management of wolves even if delisting is set aside.

From the standpoint of those who want more than a token population of wolves, this rule is bad. It could in a reduction of wolves by more than half from the current number.

Like the delisting, the new 10j rule will be litigated.

Here is the USFWS news release

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service questions and answers about the new 10j

This answer is one I find a most amazing rationalization of letting states kill wolves.

“In the 2005 rule, the Service inadvertently set an unobtainable threshold for allowing states and tribes to resolve conflicts between wolves and ungulate populations. Current information does not indicate that wolf predation alone is likely to be the primary cause of a reduction of any ungulate population in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming. In addition, there are no populations of wild ungulates in these three states where wolves are the sole predator. It is unlikely that wolf predation will impact ungulate population trends substantially unless other contributing factors are in operation, such as habitat quality and quantity, other predators, high harvest by hunters, weather and other factors. However, in combination with any of these other factors, wolf predation can have a substantial impact to some wild ungulate herds with the potential of reducing them below state and tribal herd management objectives.” [boldface is mine]







  1. Harmony Avatar

    I cannot say that I am shocked, but absolutely devastated by the impact of the minority with the most cash and political pushing power. Apparently I am in the wrong line of work and continue to voice my concerns and have very little impact. While this news is unsettling to say the least, at some point I hold hope for common sense or even a tint of intellectual morality to smack the politicians and ranchers off of their high horses. Potential predation of herds has been stated in their logic as fact! After all, they know the wolf so well. Since when should we trust the Fed’s to predict the future, nonetheless resolve the past? Ole Dirk better plan on getting an earful about this. I will write him and pretend that he actually cares.

  2. Brian Ertz Avatar

    is there a group that i can donate money to that will take ads out in the papers ?

  3. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    According to the Defenders website, this IS going to court.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I am particularly worried about the impact of this rule on wolves at elk feedgrounds in Wyoming. These feedgrounds can serve as a kind of bait for wolves, and wolves that collect around feedgrounds to hunt would be sitting ducks for control actions.

    When you consider that the feedgrounds exist solely for the benefit of ranchers, keeping elk away from grass, they are a kind of double whammy for conservation. They’re disease hazards for elk, and control hazards for wolves.

  5. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Having had a chance to do a quick parsing of the new rule, it is clear what the FWS’s argument is: “since we know it is nearly impossible to prove that wolves are regulating ungulate populations, chiefly elk, we’re going to lower the bar so that the States can kill wolves for any impact wolves are having on ungulates, even if those impacts are ecologically and biologically beneficial, simply because the politics demands that wolves be killed.”

    There was allegedly a peer review of the proposal, but the FWS doesn’t name whom the reviewers were, nor are we provided copies of those reviews. All we get is that there were 8 reviewers and summaries of their comments.

    I’ve written Ed Bangs and asked him to identify the reviewers and provide copies of their reviews on the FWS website.

  6. TPageCO Avatar

    Open question for those who have more insight into the politics of FWS and the state control agencies than I do:

    It’s my understanding that the 10j rule is an administrative action. Why couldn’t a different FWS Director in place after Jan ’09 (I wait for that day…) simply change it back? Also, what might happen in coming years if the next administration is a little more wildlife friendly? What kind of power would FWS wield, and how much would the federal government be able to affect things like the flow of money for possible aerial gunning, radio collars issued, poisons and “management assistance”?

    Regarding the rule change itself – it seems to me that to relax these standards essentially allows the state to put the burden of proof (regarding impact on elk/deer populations) on any entities that may sue the state for a plan that is clearly not based on biology, rather than on F&G like it was before. A pre-emptive strike, if you will.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I heard that they also lowered the bar on peer reviews. I think, but don’t know for sure, that just need to get some “trained” biologist (maybe even a state employee, and employee of the Game and Fish) to say that a reduction is needed for some reason.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The next Administration could change the 10j rule again if the wolves have not been delisted in the meantime.

    If they are successfully delisted, a relisting after a big state slaughter would probably take 2-4 years to accomplish. I worry that at least one of the states, probably Wyoming, will try to kill every wolf outside of Yellowstone Park and then walk away, saying “we think they are lots of wolves still out there. If you want relisting, prove there aren’t.”

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Technically, the next administration would have to go through the complete Administrative Procedures Act process to change the rule, which takes time. It’s better that this 10j revision be thrown out by the courts, which is where its headed. Such a decision would also have a bearing on judicial rejection of delisting. On the other hand, if this rule is approved by the courts, that wouldn’t be good for counter-delisting lawsuits.

    According to the new rule, state peer reviews of predator programs will have to conform to the federal Office of Personnel and Budget Final Information Bulletin for Peer Review, at Fed. Reg. 70FR 2664, 14 Jan 2005 before being submitted to the FWS for approval. I haven’t had time to look at this bulletin yet, and I’ve got another written deadline for tomorrow. That’s why I’ve been at the computer all day. I’d rather be outside.

    Our problem is that the FWS has more than proven its susceptibility to political influence with wolves–witness its recent flip-flop approval of Wyoming’s dual status plan after years of rejecting it, on the flimsiest of grounds.

    In Wyoming, if this rule goes forward, you’ll see proposals for wolf control on and around the feedgrounds first, then proposals for wolf control in the Cody area, where it is claimed that wolves have precipitated low elk cow-calf ratios.

    I agree that Wyoming will try to kill every wolf above the absolute minimum required by the rule, which is 20 breeding pairs/200 wolves. (Interesting that the number goes down for delisting).

  10. JD Avatar

    Doesn’t it seem most likely that the issue will now be tied up in the courts for a fairly good amount of time? Maybe 12-months to 24 months? Over this time, hopefully with a more natural ecosystem friendly administration, the 10j revision will never be allowed to come into play? I agree that the best thing would be for the courts to throw out the 10j revision and put (somewhat) of an end to it.

    JD, I don’t have any idea about the probability of success in the lawsuit. The situation is legally unique because it is an “experimental population,” and never before has a species supposedly being recovered by the federal government been met by such sudden hostility by its supposed protectors. Ralph

  11. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    To stop the additional killing authorized under the 10j revision, we’ll need an injunction against its implementation pending a final decision on the merits of the lawsuits. We can get an injuction only if it’s likely that we’ll win later on the merits.

    I feel confident of victory in a the delisting lawsuit. I don’t feel so confident about a victory with the 10j revision. FWS has made many promises that it will keep the killing to a minimum with “administrative safeguards.”

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think several groups have already announced they are going to sue and seek a preliminary injunction on the new 10j rule


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