Wolf Advocates Seek to Expedite Request for Summary Judgement

Wolf Advocates filed this motion in Montana District Court today :

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Expedited Merits Briefing

Update. Newspaper story on this: Wolf advocates won’t appeal court decision allowing hunts in Idaho, Montana. By Rob Chaney. The Missoulian



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  1. BrianTT Avatar

    Is that link correct? That looks like the request for injunction filed Aug. 29th.

  2. Brian Ertz Avatar

    got it now – the link is correct ~

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    So this is going for the whole ball of wax, I assume?

  4. JimT Avatar

    Ralph, it is an effort to get to the merits sooner and give Malloy a procedure to rule the way he said he would rule in the denial of the PI. I think this is a better way legally since the appeals court probably would have upheld Malloy’s ruling on the PI denial. Also, the fact that the second hunt is starting helps the urgency to get this issue of fragmented de-listings settled before a judge who says he is deposed favorably to the environmental group’s arguments.

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar

    a Motion for Summary Judgement decides matters of law, for which there is no factual dispute.

    Here, Judge Molloy put down some pretty strong language indicating that wolf advocates were likely to prevail on a claim for which there was no factual dispute (i.e. FWS carved Wyoming off the delisting rule) – so the decision is a pure matter of law.

    If the judge rules in favor of wolf advocates on this matter of summary judgement – we win.

    if not, i believe it still goes to hearing on those points for which there is legitimate factual dispute (i.e. genetic exchange).

  6. gline Avatar

    this will be much better…I have some hope now.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Then that gives those who want to overturn delisting two shots I suppose.

  8. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Brian – unless you are aware of data that I am not, there is no factual dispute that genetic exchange necessary to insure genetic diversity and avoid foundering (inbreeding) in the respective regions of the DPS will not occur and will continue. The evidence of genetic exchange within the DPS is based on molecular data as well as documentation of wolf movement within those DPS regions (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho).

  9. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I don’t believe that was the point Brian was making

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I just put up a news story on this. It is in the Missoulian.

    Here is the direct link to the story

  11. Brian Ertz Avatar


    there is a factual dispute concerning the genetic exchange ~ which is why this claim/argument will not be included in the Motion for Summary Judgement. From what I understand, advocates are claiming that the FWS failed to demonstrate/consider science that disputes the claims that you are making. We say that this was good science, and should have been considered. We could say that genetic exchange is fine now (which I’m not necessarily saying either way), but what will the genetic diversity look like when the states depress the population to the levels prescribed in the Idaho Wolf Management Plan ? What will that look like with WY, MT, etc. ? Even if Idaho were to demonstrate sufficient genetic interchange now, the IDFG commission hearing that you and I just walked out of in I.F. made clear the state’s intention to cut that population in half – to start. Even so, there is good science that indicates there needs to be more population & more interchange if we want to kick viability out a few hundred years. That science was ignored – we say that’s unlawful, the state & FWS says it’s not — as of now, it’s on the tentative edge concerning the question of deference. we’d like to find out – to get some clarification. Really, FWS is working with a lot of deference on the genetic argument, but even so ~ there is science that was not properly considered with respect to this rule with respect to the management objectives that the states are prescribing. That’s a problem ~ it didn’t have to be.

    The DPS argument (of which there are several different arguments within the claims) will test whether the FWS was lawful in cutting Wyoming out of delisting – i.e. set DPS boundaries at political lines.

    whether it’s lawful to delist a DPS within the context of a species that continues to be listed range-wide.

    Whether it was lawful to use the DPS as a tool to delist i.e. FWS ‘arbitrarily’ ~ the claim is made ~ constructed a new DPS with the sole purpose of using it as a tool to delist – a purpose advocates have claimed in the past (Humane Society in the previous Great Lakes Wolves delisting) is contrary to the intent of congress. I’m unsure whether the lawyers are using this argument as exactly presented before, but that case looked at Congress’s intent when it provided the DPS tool in the first place, claiming that because Congress limited the DPS tool to vertebrates – it was reasonable to suggest that it had a protective intent in its creation of the DPS (rather than its use to delist), because it was fair to suggest that vertebrates were more valued than invertebrates in that such a distinction was made — which was enough to shed some doubt on administration of the rule that FWS had relied on via the “clear language” of the ESA – a standard which does not afford such room for doubt if it is to remain lawful.

    ultimately, it looks like the question is gunna swing on the fact that Wyoming got cut out & that the DPS tool was drawn at a political boundary – or in an arbitrary fashion with regard to the what a biologically derived/informed DPS might have looked like.

    it’s a procedural argument – but an important point to stick – especially with regard to how species, including other species, will be recovered via the DPS tool in the future.

  12. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Brian – We agree (I think) there are two distinct issues here 1) a dispute regarding adequacy of genetic exchange to maintain genetic diversity within the DPS, under state management; 2) a procedural dispute of the legality of the USFWS de-listing decision.
    The procedural issue is best left to legal experts. I can speak to the science questions. What science was inadequately considered when our government set wolf management objectives?

  13. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Mr. Gamblin,

    To begin with these are what just a few scientists opined about the twenty year plus, out of date with contemporary conservation biology 30 breeding pair/300 wolves MVP:

    Bob Stephenson wrote: “[u]nless someone has done a study of mimimum viable population of wolves from a genetic standpoint there would be no way to know for sure whether this population would sustain itself in the longterm (greater than 30 years). John Weaver wrote: ‘[i]n lieu of a formal PVA (population viability analysis] for gray wolves in the NRM, I can only respond subjectively to the proposed definition (30 pair standard)”. Mark Boyce cautioned, “[a] definition for viable population is arbitrary, and we do not know enough to say how many is sufficient.”. Lu Carbyn advised, “I would not split hairs over what is viable or not — make sure you have large enough areas with suitable prey base — then let nature seek its own level” and he wrote in 2007 as peer reviewer about the 30 pair standard: “[t]he very figure of 300 wolves was an administrative goal and, now with actual population numbers, should probably be evaluated”. Mark Hebblewhite as peer reviewer in 2007 wrote: ”[t]he PVA for the NRM DPS was an ad-hoc measure of population viability for wolves”. Kyrab Kunkel said “[w]hen any of the definiations (of MVP) are finally made, I think it is essential for us to realize and state that these definitions are not based on any true knowledge of what a viable population for wolves is but rather, mostly a guess …”and Thomas Meier, 2007 peer reviewer opined: “[m]y strongest recommendation for management after delisting is that states so not try to manage wolves at an extreme minima level, to satisty the requirements of federal monitoring and their own management plans. Managing at bare minimum levels will require much more careful monitoring (i.e., carcass DNA sampling), continual tweeking of mgnt. strategies, the need to respond to challenges to monitoring data, contention between the states about ‘who’ owns a wolf pack and the very real danger of wolves being relisted under an emergency action.”

    A comprehensive response to all of their commentary would be appreciated.

  14. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Valerie B,

    An Idaho Assistant AG might advise Mark Gamblin not to engage with you in such discussions as they involve matters which are currently the subject litigation, and go to the case in chief of the plaintiffs. Or, if he does engage in the topic to give appropriate disclaimers as a department representative.

  15. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    Let’s remember that Mr. Gamblin in the first instance asked for a science oriented response.

    If he is not fully prepared to be fully candid and comprehensive in his responses to the public why is he commenting on this site in the first instance?

    Are you with IF&G as well?

  16. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I am definitely not with IF&G, nor have I ever been.

    Though, I am interested in good facts, better science and reasoned dialog. As we all know, from the posts, it is easy to take comments (sometimes unintentionally) out of context. It is even more likely so when a person of knowledge, or one who works for an agency is thought to speak or write, in some kind of “presumed” official capacity. I did not know what Mark G’s. authority was to speak for the agency, on what topics, or with whom he consulted., so thought the courtesy of a heads up was in order.

    During my short time posting here I have seen statements of Ed Bangs, Dr. Mech and others used in ways contrary to their known beliefs. Call it experience, but I have seen agency statements taken totally out of context on a variety of topics over many years, then subsequently used in legal pleadings. DOW, in the current litigation, is exceptionally adept at this, but that is sometimes what lawyers do.

    I have also seen sarcastic questions forumalated in a way that does not elicit exchange of good information, but rather results in entrenchment of both the questioner and the questioned into indefensible positions. And then we all pile on. Maybe that makes for a more “spirited debate” which gets the juices going. It is entertaining. Other people, not being able to stand the “heat” get frustrated and leave the conversation.

    And that’s OK, I guess.

  17. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Greetings Wilderness Muse,

    First with respect to the statements of the scientists I presented, NONE have ever been taken out of context. Nor have I ever attempted to misconstrue an agency statement.

    Secondly, “the science which was in adequately considered” concerns the failure to adopt an alternative standard (based on the best available conservation science) to the “ad-hoc” 30 pair breeding standard and its long tern sustainability consequences.

    The seriously deficient federal standard is the “ground zero” of the State’s wolf population mgnt. plans. So I simply responded using the voices of leading scientists concerning this very critical issue. I will present more statements from a few others soon. The peer reviewers seemed to put a lot of thought into their opinions and I think it is valuable that be brought to light as often as possible.

    Thirdly, my question concerning your professional role was brought only because you essentially warned Mr. Gamblin not to respond in his professional capacity. I found that more than curious.

    No sarcasm intended.

  18. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Sorry Valerie,

    My fault. My comment about “context” had absolutely nothing to do with the content of your post. I was speaking generically about a couple of previous posts. and if I had been thoughtful enough to say that up front it would have avoided confusion.

  19. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    Not a problem. Thank you for getting back to me.

  20. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland


    I think its pretty generous of him to post on this blog and answer questions.. He does not “have” to comment on here. I think its a pretty cool thing that he does it.

  21. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    I have to agree with you. No doubt my comment stemmed from my frustration with what I perceive to be the “taking a blind eye” of the IF&G to the reality of the science.

    But I do appreciate the time and thought that Mr. Gamblin has dedicated thus far.

  22. gline Avatar

    I have been confused for a while wilderness muse, thought Ralph had asked you to leave? Then I still see you here? I am confused …

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I decided I made the wrong decision.

  24. gline Avatar

    Oh that’s cool. he/she seems to be quite knowledgeable. ralph how do I change my name on here??? I want my real name on here and I cant find how to do that on the web sorry this is off task.. i sent you an email about it…

  25. Paul Bego Avatar
    Paul Bego

    This is a little off topic but related to the hunts in general. If you check the Idaho map of the ongoing wolf hunt….


    notice that they list 4 wolves “harvested” with the 4th being in the McCall-Weiser zone where the season doesn’t begin until Oct. 1. Anyone know what’s up with that? An incorrect entry? How can they hunt and harvest before he season officially starts in that zone?

  26. Ken Cole Avatar

    It was poached. There is a post about on the blog.

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Just post a new comment under your new name. It will go into moderation. As soon as Ken, Brian, or me approve it, you can use that name. Please don’t use your old name.

  28. otto Avatar

    Mark Gamblin wrote: “Brian – unless you are aware of data that I am not, there is no factual dispute that genetic exchange necessary to insure genetic diversity and avoid foundering (inbreeding) in the respective regions of the DPS will not occur and will continue.”

    Mark, are you saying genetic diversity and avoiding foundering will not occur or, will continue? These opposite conclusions cannot be linked by the conjunction “and”.

  29. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    otto – they are not opposites. Genetic diversity is the opposite of genetic foundering. Foundering is a term that refers to genetic inbreeding or inbreeding depression. If genetic diversity is ensured, foundering or inbreeding depression is avoided.

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Brian Ertz