They just published the wolf delisting rule in the Federal Register

Some of us hoped that they had second thoughts.

Here it is in the Federal Register. (Updated link for Northern Rockies Wolves)

Federal Register Link for Great Lakes Wolves




  1. Eric T. Avatar
    Eric T.

    Well, looks like the 11 groups suing will be lining their coffers again with requests to their members to donate, donate, donate, the wolves need your financial help to fight their oppressors. Good grief.

    Let’s just get on with state management already. If the numbers drop to the precipitous edge as predicted by these chicken littles, then the wolves would get re-listed, most likely permanently.

    But legal battles ad infinitum puts cash in the coffers of these groups. Actual delisting and mangagement by the states cuts off a valuable fund raising mechanism.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The groups don’t sue to line their pockets.

    Since I participate in the decision-making on these things to a slight degree, I can say their are plenty of other issues where you can raise money.

    We genuinely hate this. In my case mostly because I don’t think Idaho and Montana, especially Idaho, will manage wolves in manner they say they will. That is because Idaho Fish and Game is powerless before the livestock interests.

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Eric T,

    I share your frustration about the swirl of fundraisers that implicity suggest that you can contribute to the lawsuit (when really, Earthjustice is paying for the suit from what I understand). But Ralph is right – the suit isn’t about raising dollars – it’s about an unlawful rule being stopped to protect wildlife.

  4. Ryan Avatar


    Its obiviously not unlawful if its passed twice, this second version should pass the smell test just fine.


    Many may hate it, but most states intend to manage this as origional reintroduction agreements stated within the origional parameters placed. Which in most cases will lead to pupulation reductions. Populations are well past the triggers for delisting in all aspects. If wolves hadn’t been delisted by the Obama administration, I would’ve fully expected the Supreme court to overturn the Redden ruling if it was appealed.

  5. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser

    ‘Earthjustice is paying for the suit from what I understand” nothing is ever free or Paid for, there are always cost, like the cost of even having to do it all,, and all the others that have to raise addl funds (Defenders et al) to fight a suit they never thought they were gonna have to fight. many thousands of dollars that could be used for bears, cougars, what ever the flavor is, to fight a broken promise,,

  6. John d. Avatar
    John d.


    Three times an illegal action was allowed to pass, remember the aerial gunning in Alaska?

    Original plans did not figure that the reintroduction would succeed.

  7. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    JOhn D. Said:

    “Original plans did not figure that the reintroduction would succeed.”

    Please explain?

  8. Ryan Avatar

    John D.

    How was that illegal? Wolves are not an endangered species in AK, so they are managed by state authority how they deem fit. If they didn’t figure that the wolf reintroduction would succeed, then why would they have even attempted it? Wasn’t the origional reintroduction illegal, as indigenious wolves were already migrating back into northern Idaho and MT.

  9. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Wolves wouldn’t know how to adapt or would simply move back up to Canada. Then we’ve got poaching which was around during the early stages of reintroduction.

    The whole ‘non-essential experimental’ category did not put the grey wolf in the esteem it deserved, seeing as how the species has done its job as was anticipated. Fears over livestock and game was what killed them off in the first place, it is the same fear that is going to get them killed now even though the damage to livestock has been relatively minimal and the ‘game’ herds have benefited from the predator’s presence, not to mention the coyote population has been reduced.
    14 years worth of time, money and efforts wasted.

  10. John d. Avatar
    John d.


    Aerial gunning is an illegal practice whether the species getting shot at is endangered or not. Also why perform aerial gunning when 1500 or more wolves are killed every year in land based sport hunting? Don’t get me started on Canada’s disgusting reputation with wildlife.

    Some, but not many. The reintroduction of grey wolves was to reduce the number of ungulate numbers, seeing as humans had failed at the job.

  11. Ryan Avatar

    John D.

    You are full of shit, you continue to make things up to suit your agenda. Arial gunning is not illegal, immoral yes, but not illegal. There are so many flat out lies and mis truths spouted in your last 2 posts, I’m not quite even sure where to start.

  12. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Make things up?
    Hadn’t we already discussed the Aerial Gunning issue before somewhere, last year I think. Something about Alaska’s predator holocaust.

  13. Brian Ellway Avatar
    Brian Ellway

    John d. says: “and the ‘game’ herds have benefited from the predator’s presence”

    Now that is one of the most absurd comments I’ve read on here. John are you at all aware of what has happened to the elk herds and the drastic cut backs in tags the IDF&G is doing this year? You definitely live in your own little lala land..

  14. Ryan Avatar


    Prove me wrong, aerial gunning of wolves is perfectly legal in Alaska where it is done.

    “The reintroduction of grey wolves was to reduce the number of ungulate numbers, seeing as humans had failed at the job.”

    According to the NPS, wolves were reintroduced as part of a species restoration project, not to reduce ungulate populations. Infact wolves have far exceeded there estimates for ungulate population reduction numbers.

    “the ‘game’ herds have benefited from the predator’s presence”

    You can’t even believe this, low reproductivity rates, Herds that are age top heavy, and drastic number reductions in many population areas where wolves are present. (elk) Moose have taken it even worse in areas where wolves are present.

    The rest is just op-ed drivel

  15. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    To my knowledge there is no scientific evidence that wolves have caused ungulate population declines in ID (though they claim to have this data for the Lolo Zone). As for “herds that are age top heavy,” which I think means most members belong to an older age class; that probably wouldn’t be the case in a herd subject to wolf predation, as wolves, based on scientific research from around the world, typically take old-aged animals- thereby lowering the overall age structure (which might be considered a “benefit” in that old cows not as likely to reproduce are eating forage that prime cows could use to bolster their fetus). If you look at the most recent Pittman-Robertson Report for elk in ID, you can see that in several management units some of the declines, and therefore tag cut-backs, possibly are the result of human overharvest (where >40% of bulls harvested are 6 point or better)- that is removal of prime breeding-aged individuals. This could have subsequent effects on pregnancy rates, calf production, calf:cow ratios. Of course these negatives could be further impacted by wolf predation, but it’s too simplistic to lay it all on the wolf.

  16. Ryan Avatar


    The northern yellowstone herd is still age heavy as well, despite 12 years of sustained wolf predation.

    “where >40% of bulls harvested are 6 point or better”

    That is generally post rut harvest allowing for those bulls to pass on their genes. If the harvest was mostly immature raghorn bulls there would be more cause for concern as bulls would not be surving to reach maturity.

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The aerial gunning issue in Alaska and the delisting issue in the lower 48 have no legal connection. Wolves in Alaska are not, nor were on the endangered species list.

    The only similarity is that both controversies are about wolves.

  18. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    To those who seem to resent others donating to this “cause”………….at least we have a choice here, as opposed to having no say in our tax dollars being used to bolster a social welfare ranching system.

  19. Craig Avatar

    John d. says: “and the ‘game’ herds have benefited from the predator’s presence”

    What do you have to back this up? Maybe in Yellowstone where herd numbers WERE way over objective and they were devastating there habitat. But In Idaho with drought, a few hard winters, and low calf recruitment, I can’t see how Wolves have helped in any way. The only thing I can see is they have moved the Elk so the lazy road hunters and Atvs can’t shoot them from roads or trails.

  20. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Yellowstone Park does not have objectives for the number of elk. So they were neither over or under any objective.

    The ideal for the Park is ecosystem process management of wildlife — nature manages — meaning that if all the native animals are present, the correct number of elk are the number of elk that exist. The same is true with moose, deer, coyotes, black bears, cougar, wolves, and we would like it to be for bison in YNP.
    – – – – –
    Moving lazy road hunters is a very good thing, but that might be a matter of opinion. 😉

  21. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr


    Maybe harvest of big, breeding bulls doesn’t affect the herd that much if those bulls are likely to die anyway from having expended themselves. I don’t claim to be all that knowledgable about elk management, but it seems that if some of those bulls would survive to breed the next year, then removal at that level (>40%) probably isn’t sustainable for more than a couple of years even if they have passed on their genes. I can’t address the age structure of the northern range herd, but I think the Park’s intensive winter research over the past couple of years has shown that packs there were preying heavily on bulls, presumably those weakened by rutting activity.

  22. Craig Avatar

    Intresting Ralph and why is that! Shouldn’t they be using counts to see where the numbers are compared to what the inviroment can sustain? I’m sure Montana Outfitters had objectives and all the people who loved to stand on the roads and shoot Elk as they migrated to winter range aren’t happy.

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    If a large area of wildlife habitat exists and has free entry and exit of animals and no human take, does the phrase “what the environment can sustain” have any objective meaning?

  24. Craig Avatar

    I would think it would have some meaning in studies within Yellowstone, but I’m not an expert on the subject! But the herd is subject to hunting when they migrate from the park.

  25. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    That’s why I said this was an ideal, and much of the decline in elk on the northern range can arguably be attributed to the fact that Montana FWP did not reduce the “harvest” of the herd just north of YNP in the late hunt until the elk population was deep into decline.

  26. Craig Avatar

    That makes sense, I even wondered why they let the harvest rate stay so high until they last couple years when they knew the heards were decreasing!

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    They might have thought that predator pressure would actually have no important downward pressure on the herd. Note that I think it did, not wolves; but wolves plus a growing population of grizzly bears that usurped many wolf kills.

    Maybe they thought the public outcry would be too great. Maybe they felt they needed the tag fees.

  28. Craig Avatar

    Hard to say! But yes the gizzlies have had a larger impact especially on calves.

  29. Cobra Avatar

    I really hate to see what will happen if wolves are not de-listed and managed this time. Many up here feel like they’re being pushed into a corner and when people feel like that they get dangerous. Some of the things I’ve heard that will be done I personally have a hard time with. I have to admit that I’m getting tired of finding wolf kills myself. I know I’ve been told several times on here that wolves always come back and finish the kill, but, I’m just not seeing it. How long does it take? Found a wolf killed yearling elk last thursday and to date the only thing eating the kill is birds and 2 coyotes. I can see this kill from a ridge from about 500 yards so I’m not spooking anything away and with my spotting scope I can really see what’s happening. The pack that killed this elk is about 5 miles away in another drainage as of monday. We’ve found quite a few elk this winter that were never eaten after the kill. I’m really trying to keep an open mind on this, but, it is getting harder.

  30. Ryan Avatar


    But wolves lower the pregnancy success rate for elk.. Double Edged sword.

  31. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The grizzlies impact the elk in two ways. They do kill the calves, but only for about 2 weeks, then the calves can outrun the bears. The grizzlies nail them during the period when the cows hide them in the grass/sagebrush.

    I think more important is that the grizzlies take kills from the wolves, and the grizzlies successfully defend their taking of the kill about 90% of the time. While there is often some left when the grizzly leaves, the wolves need to kill more elk or whatever with grizzlies around than without.

    I should add that in the Pelican Valley, many times a second or a third grizzly comes in. Mollies Pack, the pack that lives there, really has to struggle.


    I think the study that claimed to show that wolves lower the pregnancy rate for elk was seriously defective. While the article didn’t provide enough information to really critique it. The zero-order correlations that were published made me pretty suspicious.

  32. Ryan Avatar


    Just on a common sense basis it was pertty to see some validity. Combine that with elk population trends in areas with well established wolf populations (not recent arrivals, but multiple packs that have been there from the late 90’s) Most of these herds suffer from very low cow to calf ratio’s even without grizzly bears present. Just doing a connect the dots its pretty easy to come up with a pretty similar conclusion.

  33. Jay Avatar

    Ryan, no they don’t lower the pregnancy rates…read MT FWP’s latest research publication that states there was absolutely no evidence pregnancy rates were changed with the presence of wolves. Or better yet, call the YNP ungulate guy and ask him, or Bob Garrott or Ken Hamlin from MT FWP.

  34. Jay Avatar

    Garrott is MSU, not MT FWP.

  35. Ryan Avatar

    “Most data that have directly measured elk pregnancy rates since wolf restoration began
    indicate that elk pregnancy rates are unaffected by wolves, in contrast to some indirect
    evidence from average hormone concentrations in elk feces. Indirect evidence from
    hunter-collected samples also indicates that elk pregnancy rates have been unaffected by

    Thanks Jay, I was going off the UMT study that lead me to believe otherwise.

  36. Jay Avatar

    You can find the wolf-elk research publication at the MT FWP page–there’s some interesting findings in there. That pregancy impacts article that Creel wrote really ticked off some of the researchers, because as Ralph points out, they weren’t seeing any reduction in pregancy as measured by actual blood tests during capture events, versus Creel et al. going out and picking up elk poop and measuring/contrasting minute amounts of hormones.

  37. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I am curious, I was reading an article this morning that stated that Montana passed a legislative bill on Tuesday to provide for a “vigorous defense of grey wolf delisting” but I have not been able to locate any information on the MT legislative pages, someone in the follow up to the article stated it was LC 1957, does anyone have any information on this? It was contained in a Daily Interlake article today……

  38. Ryan Avatar

    How do you explain the low cow to calf ratios in units sans grizzly bears with just wolves. I believe that there is a little traction to this study to be honest.

  39. JB Avatar

    Given the discussion on wolf/elk populations in YNP, you might find this of interest:

    Vucetich, J.A., Smith, D.W., & Stahler, D.R. (2005) Influence of harvest, climate and wolf predation on Yellowstone elk, 1961-2004. Oikos 111(2):259-270.

    (Cervus elaphus) herd declined from ∼17 000 to ∼8000 elk (8.1% yr-1). The extent to which wolf predation contributed to this decline is not obvious because the influence of other factors (human harvest and lower than average annual rainfall) on elk dynamics has not been quantified. To assess the contribution of wolf predation to this elk decline, we built and assessed models based on elk-related data prior to wolf reintroduction (1961 to 1995). We then used the best of these models to predict how elk dynamics might have been realized after wolf reintroduction (1995 to 2004) had wolves never been reintroduced. The best performing model predicted 64% of the variance in growth rate and included elk abundance, harvest rate, annual snowfall, and annual precipitation as predictor variables. The best performing models also suggest that harvest may be super-additive. That is, for every one percent increase in harvest rate, elk population growth rate declines by more than one percent. Harvest rate also accounted for ∼47% of the observed variation in elk growth rate. According to the best-performing model, which accounts for harvest rate and climate, the elk population would have been expected to decline by 7.9% per year, on average, between 1995 and 2004. Within the limits of uncertainty, which are not trivial, climate and harvest rate are justified explanations for most of the observed elk decline. To the extent that this is true, we suggest that between 1995 and 2004 wolf predation was primarily compensatory.

  40. Jay Avatar

    Ryan, every predator of elk tends to exert disproportionate selection of calves, including mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, AND wolves–grizzlies are just one component. Also, some units have low calf-cow ratios without wolves, so just having low calf ratios doesn’t equate to low pregnancy rates as caused specifically by wolves. If you really feel like Creel’s elk poo data are credible, I seriously recommend talking to the folks I’ve mentioned above that have years and years of cow elk capture data (pre- and post-wolf), and I have no doubt they will tell you pregnancy rates have not changed.

  41. Craig Avatar

    Ralph says:I should add that in the Pelican Valley, many times a second or a third grizzly comes in. Mollies Pack, the pack that lives there, really has to struggle.

    I’ve noticed this too. I was at Soda butte Creek when 21m and his group killed the Elk in the creek and a single Grizzly took it over about 5 years ago ( got some great photos of that). But in Pelican Valley you almost always see at least 2 or 3 Gizz feeding off Wolf kills at differnt times or fighting over kills. We’ll be heading out to Yellowstone next month to see the Grizzlies in action.

  42. Virginia Avatar

    Once again, as the Casper Star Tribune reports today, Wyoming will file a lawsuit in Wyoming federal court to claim that “science supports wolf delisting” in Wyoming. However, there is no scientific information in the article to support that claim. The governor wants to call wolves “ducks” or a “managed species” in order to get around the emotional response to the word “predator.”

  43. Heather Avatar

    I have donated before last year during this same situation and i will donate again. A recent article in the Missoula Independent (last week of March) regarding the delisting again of the grey wolf is disappointing to me -re “Enviros lobbing grenades from the side line” . We have to. Thank you for posting Limpys story ralph.

  44. Ryan Avatar


    The average newspaper is written for a 5th grade reading level. Scientific facts wouldn’t do to much for their readers.

  45. Ken Fischman, Ph.D. Avatar
    Ken Fischman, Ph.D.

    Ralph: I tried the link to the Federal Register, both from your blog & a newspaper article. All I get is a warning that the link is defective. Any solution? Ken

  46. Ken Cole Avatar

    I just updated the link

  47. Salle Avatar

    Once again I will relate a conversation between Ed Bangs and myself that took place at the 10(j) rule change hearing in Cody, Wyoming about 18 months ago:

    In his presentation of what the rule changes were and what they meant Ed explained that the state of Wyoming would conduct research as to the impact of wolves on elk in one given area that would serve as a “blanket study” for the entire state, a “one time” study that was to be “peer reviewed.” When I asked him who would be the peers in such a review process he replied:

    “The state will choose the peers to review the “study”.

    I was not satisfied that this would be conducted according to universally accepted peer review protocols and that the study would be rife with bias to begin with when you consider how much state officials hate wolves in the first place.

    I don’t think that has changed and I believe that this so-called “science” is the Wyoming legislature’s version of it which leaves much to be desired in the universal description of scientific research and peer review ~ basically biased and not repeatable by other researchers outside the Wyoming based definition.

    I wouldn’t buy this line of crap with a wooden nickel. They are obviously insinuating that most Americans and politicians have been educated in some sorry education system and don’t have the critical thinking skills to decipher their bull. Maybe they need to be educated for real instead of reliance on mythological/romantic stories for their base of information. Then again, one can point the pride that Idaho takes in its poor education system to spew mythology as fact and, for a good number of their constituents, they believe their bull. I have often said that Idaho is generally proud of its ignorance. (I say that with some authority as I was a resident of Idaho for 14 years and went to college there. I found some educators able to buck the bull, like Ralph for instance, but many were firmly indoctrinated in the Larry Craig-style idiocracy and imparted such to their students.)


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