Grizzly mauls sheepherder; kills dogs, sheep

Are the wilds of the Upper Green a place for sheep?

By Ken Cole and Ralph Maughan

Grizzly mauls sheepherder; kills dogs, sheep. By Joy Ufford with Derek Farr. Sublette Examiner

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole
Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

This is bad. A poor shepherd got seriously hurt. With all the media attention on sheep ranchers there is too little attention to the men who do most of the work, usually living lives of isolation in remote areas often far from their native lands. The article says that the injured herder, Marcello Tejeda, is from Rock Springs. We hope he was given health insurance as part of his contract.

The upper Green River country is some of  America’s scenic and wilderness wonderland. For twenty years now it has been in process of reclamation by the great bear and wolves. Grizzly bears were not moved into the area like the sheep’s owned was quoted. They gradually reinhabited the area completely on their own.

Cattle and sheep eat the forage that could support more elk. Livestock trample the banks of steams that splash thousands of feet down from glaciers of the Wind Rivers or the lingering snowspatches high in the Gros Ventre Mountains.

With all of the losses the owner claims to have had due to predators doesn’t it beg obvious questions? Why graze your sheep here and should taxpayers have to pay for predator control, and other subsidies so you can continue. Is this an appropriate place to graze sheep, a basically defenseless animal?

I think we know what will become to these now unattended and scattered sheep.

Late afternoon in Tosi Creek at the eastern edge of the Gros Ventre Wilderness. The attack was described to have taken place in this general area. The day after I took this photo, I saw 6 different black bears while I was backpacking. That was in the 1990s. Now grizzlies have replaced many of the big black bears. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan





  1. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Well if she (the ranch owner) was aware of the wolf and griz problem why then did she not pen the sheep up at night, and provide bear spray for the two illegal (I am sure) workers she had watching the sheep? and why did the man send in another dog after the first was killed? And the man that was mauled, why, did not state if he went in to close to the griz or not, I am sure the griz did not just decide to maul the human when she had sheep to eat. the sheep need to be removed from public land, period. I know the lady rancher feels that she is being forced off the public land because they/we want ranchers off the land, got that right lady, now take the hint and leave public land, or protect your sheep properly. I sure hope she plans on paying for her workers medical expenses, because it was her fault. No sympathy for that lady at all!!!

  2. Brian Ertz Avatar

    are there bighorn sheep in the area ?

  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    There is no evidence that these workers are illegal. There is a program set up especially so that workers can be hired for this kind of work.

  4. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Ken Cole Says:
    September 16, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    There is no evidence that these workers are illegal. There is a program set up especially so that workers can be hired for this kind of work.

    Can you explain further about the program please, do they run the workers through E-verify? or do they just allow them to come in and work for the summer? If they do not verify that they are legal, they could be hiring illegal workers. and if they are from another country and they are giving them work on a visa, then they are taking away jobs that true Americans at this time need….and do not say that Americans will not do that work, I would!!!!

  5. jburnham Avatar

    Can anyone give more detailed info on where this occurred? Is it within the primary conservation area for grizzlies?

  6. Brian Ertz Avatar

    temp. visas are distributed to workers via the H-2A program.

    workers are not allowed to switch jobs, and can be held in very bad conditions given threat of deportation. they are also paid vastly less than minimum wage and work 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week. some are often paid $600 – $750 per month for these hours and conditions.

    April, would you work under these conditions ?

  7. Ken Cole Avatar

    The article says the Upper Green River near Tosi Creek.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    So it is right in the middle of a core bighorn sheep emphasis area!

  9. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    “Mesa used pepper spray – twice – to drive the bear away from Tejeda and then called Thoman for help.

    Thoman said giving her sheepherders guns to shoot marauding predators isn’t a solution – ‘or we just have more trouble.”

    Let the apologies and excuses from the bear spray cult begin. If the sheepherders had a firearm and knew how to use it . . .

    Please, please, please, tell me that research shows bear spray is more effective than firearms. Please. If the bear spray cult wants to make statistical success the issue, I have bad news for you. Based on research. Which is holy, holy, holy.

  10. Ken Cole Avatar

    Not this debate again………. please?

  11. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Find Klondike Hill on Google Earth or Google Maps. Then look at the country from 3 to 5 miles west. It was probably in there. I have a number of photos of the higher part of the area up on Google Earth. The photo I posted with the story was in the middle reach of Tosi Creek where there is a long line of cliffs on the north side of the canyon.

  12. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    ken–please don’t be a hypocrite. The hypocricy of the bear spray cult really shows on this one. But I can understand why you’d want censorship of the issue.

  13. jburnham Avatar

    Thanks Ralph.

    BTW, bear spray cult meeting tonight, we’ll be sacrificing a rifle to the gods of counter assault. Since the bear spray effectively drove the bear away, what would us cultists have to apologize and make excuses for?

  14. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    “In 62% (31 of 50) of brown bear incidents bears were
    either acting curious or searching for food or garbage before
    being sprayed.” Efficacy of bear deterrent spray in Alaska

    If the sheepherder had shot the grizzly with a 30/06 instead of trying to appease the bear spray cult, the sheepherder would not have been injured. jburnham and the rest of the bear spray cult should apologize for saying it’s OK that the sheepherder got injured because he tried to use bear spray.

    Of all the meaningless statistics, bear spray works over 90% of the time while guns work 72% of the time might be the most meaningless. And absurd. If sheepherders and hunters in camps would just blow away every curious bear that approached while searching for food, the statistical success rate for guns would go up. Classic case of shooting fish in a barrel. Is that what enviros want?

  15. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    On a different topic, if you look at grizzly bear-human conflicts at the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team website or 2000-2008, it’s obvious the grizzly population would keep moving onto public lands to the SE of Yellowstone Park, if it was socially and politically acceptable. It’s not. The problems are livestock on public lands, and people on private land chumming for grizzlies with garbage. Instead of dealing with those issues. the bear spray cult and enviros are fixated on forcing hunters to carry bear spray they’ll never use. Fiddling while Rome burns.

  16. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Bear-spray is better … ”
    “A fire-arm is better ! … ”

  17. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Ken Cole–you’re all upset because a “poor sheepherder” who relied on bear spray rather than a firearm “got hurt.” You might not like the reality of the big picture–livestock on public lands–and neither do I, but if the problem is that a poor sheepherder got hurt beause he used bear spray, the solution to the problem is that he should shot have shot the bear with a 30/06.

  18. jburnham Avatar

    Straw man.
    1. People carrying guns are still attacked by bears.
    2. Please direct me to my statement “saying it’s OK that the sheepherder got injured because he tried to use bear spray”

  19. jburnham Avatar

    I’ve got news for you Dave, you are the main source of the bear spray “fixation” on this site.

  20. gline Avatar

    Are the wilds of the Upper Green a place for sheep?

    lets focus on the real issue…NOT that the griz should have been shot with a 30/06. (AND that is NOT saying it is ok for the sheepherder to be injured.) God, how much wild land to we have left???

  21. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    ken cole “A poor shepherd was seriously hurt.”

    jbrunham–“the bear spray effectively drove the bear away.”

  22. Ken Cole Avatar

    I haven’t even weighed in on the bear spray debate.

  23. Ken Cole Avatar

    I’m not saying any of what you accuse me of saying. I’m saying that the sheep and the sheepherders shouldn’t be in grizzly country to begin with.

  24. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    ken cole–Sheepherders who get injured by a grizzly after using bear spray for self-defense are, in the words of ken cole, “poor people.” Hunters who get injured by a grizzly after using a firearm for self-defense are ignorant red-necks. I’m just poking fun at the hypocricy of the bear spray cult.

    I agree with your statment that “sheep and the sheepherders shouldn’t be in grizzly country to begin with.” The fixation of enviros and anti-hunters on forcing big game hunters to carry bear spray they can’t use during a sudden encounter with a griz diverts attention from important habitat issues.

  25. Ken Cole Avatar

    Wow, that’s taking this way out of context. Now I see why Robert Hoskins left the board.

  26. Karen V. Stefanini Avatar
    Karen V. Stefanini

    Stay out of bear territory. Case closed. These precious creatures have already lost 98% of their habitat according to what I have read and heard via bear handlers. This is a disgrace. These darlings are as intelligent as the great apes according to recent research. They are emotionally complex. They are beloved lifelong big kids if bottle fed as orphaned cubs according to Buffy’s, Bart’s and Brutus’ human moms and dads. So lets get real and get out of bear territory!!!! I adore bears thanks to precious Knut, lovely Flocke and CA wildfire black bear orphan, L’il Smokey, rescued and released by Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

  27. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    April, this blog isn’t about immigration. The point here is, grazing sheep in an area that is prime grizzly and wolf habitat is not smart. I am sure there are also plenty of mountain lions and coyotes to boot.

  28. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    BEAR SPRAY debate!!

    Oh no! My new Nikon d5000 just came in the mail. I’ve on my way to take some photos, but now I think I might just shoot myself instead!! 🙁

  29. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Maybe I should spray myself. Which would be best?

  30. Linda Hunter Avatar

    The article clearly states that the man mauled did not use pepper spray. He was hurt as he tried to rescue his second guard dog and it was the other sheepherder who used pepper spray to get the bear to leave after it was already attacking the man and his dog. The sheepherder who had pepper spray in his eyes was not the one mauled. That is what the story says, but apparently the pepper spray did get the bear to leave, otherwise they might both be dead. This happened at night according to the story and doesn’t have anything at all to do with the hunter/pepperspray debate. I still advocate the common sense cult of using what works for you when you need it. I don’t think, even though I am not a bad shot, that I could kill a bear with one shot in the dark who was in the sheep and in a fight with a guard dog. Dave even if you have a point about hunters and pepper spray that you worry like a dog with a bone there are times when pepper spray works . . heck a fire extinguisher would work better than a gun sometimes.

  31. jburnham Avatar

    Debate? Where?

  32. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Brian Ertz wrote:

    “temp. visas are distributed to workers via the H-2A program.

    workers are not allowed to switch jobs, and can be held in very bad conditions given threat of deportation. they are also paid vastly less than minimum wage and work 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week. some are often paid $600 – $750 per month for these hours and conditions.

    April, would you work under these conditions ?”

    If I had no other means of work, yes, but since I am a American I would not have to work under those conditions, and Pro Wolf, I know what the blog is about. I did go off track, but look at it this way, here is a rancher that has lost some sheep, screaming about it, and yet, she will hire folks and work them 24/7, pay less than minimum wage, and the state will more than likely pay for this mans injuries. So my point is, ranchers, sheep herders etc…need to pay fair wages, treat their employees right, and give the work to the people that are born here and pay taxes, not someone on a visa or other wise. Maybe if she had hired someone with a bit more intelligence and knows what to do this may not have happened. So ranchers graze their stock on public land (my land since my taxes and yours pay for it), then hire the cheapest labor around, legal or not, they do not take proper actions to protect their livestock, and we are suppose to feel sorry for them? Not. ok I am done, you experts go on ahead…have a good one now!
    – – – –

    Ed note: I edited this comment to make clear who wrote what. Ralph Maughan

  33. hilljack Avatar

    Karen, did you really call a grizzly these darlings! Reality check it is a wild animal first and has the ability to snape a bull elks neck with one swing. To love wildlife is one thing but to think of it like almost a child is crazy and really is insulting to the wild nature or the animal. If you want to hug an animal go do it to your pet, at least they have been screwed with genetically for centuries and are not truely wild anymore.

  34. DumOleBob Avatar

    Dave – did you say “Hair Spray” or gun? 🙂

    Oh, by the way, a 30-06 isn’t near big enough for an enraged mom griz at close range. I can bear witness to that close up and personal. You’d best “pack enough gun, Red Rider” and an ’06 ain’t it! In the 15 seconds she’s got after you hit her, hopefully in a vital, she’ll tear your head – clean off! And, she will live 15 more seconds!

    No matter – one interesting thing I got from the article was the rancher says they have been grazing in Tosi since 1978 and ranching since 1900. Thus inferring they had so special right to use our public land. My question then is: Weren’t the bears and wolves there ten thousand years before 1900? So who has preemptive rights – sheep or bears/wolves? Hmm, living in good ole Wyo 25 years I know the answer to that too! So be it, I still love the place and admit the agri interests contribute greatly to my quality of like here. On the other hand “history” around here begain in the 1800’s with the arrival of us “whites”. Nothing b4 that counts.

    Actually, considering the trauma she and her hands have gone through she was fairly reasonable. The ranching ethic is deeply ingrained around life in Pinedale. That Green River grazing group is very powerful, very influential and very important to the life style in Wyoming… They do work hard and care about the land. Problem is they don’t get it – it’s “OUR” land, not theirs!

  35. JB Avatar

    “…it’s obvious the grizzly population would keep moving onto public lands to the SE of Yellowstone Park, if it was socially and politically acceptable.”

    — Dave, I agree 100%!

    But then…” Instead of dealing with those issues. the bear spray cult and enviros are fixated on forcing hunters to carry bear spray they’ll never use.”

    — What bear spray cult? Do you have a URL?

  36. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    “a 30-06 isn’t near big enough for an enraged mom griz at close range. I can bear witness to that close up and personal.” DumbOleBob

    Are you speaking to us from the dead, or did you just watch a grizzly tear someone’s head off before using your bear spray?

  37. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    JB & Linda Hunter–what bear spray cult? HaHaHaHaHa. The bear spray cult that recites the sacred scriptures. Holy commandment #1. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. #2 Research shows that bear spray is more effective than a firearm. One URL for the bear spray cult is . . . good god!!! I’m a sinner amongst true believers. An infindel.

    The article clearly states that the sheepherders did not have firearms because their boss was afraid she’d be mauled by the bear spray cult if one of her employees shot a grizzly.

    While the bear spray cult and other clueless dolts are fixated on forcing hunters in grizzly country to carry bear spray, grizzlies continue to die due to conflicts with sheep/livestock on public lands. And the Interagency Grizzly Bear Agency has reduced the amount of habitat available to grizzlies by distracting you with bogus bear spray issues.

  38. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    “There were 190 grizzly bear-human conflicts reported in the GYE in 2008 . . . These incidents included bears . . . killing livestock (35%, n=67) . . . The conflict distribution map identified five areas where most grizzly bear-human conflict in the GYE occurred over the past 3 years . . . 4) the Green River/Dunior Creek drainages.” Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, 2008

    Does the bear spray cult talk about this issue? Noooo!!! The bear spray cult is not aware of the problem. Instead, the bear spray cult whines and whines and whines about big game hunters killing grizzlies in self-defense. Bear spray is not an alternative to a firearm when a hunter has a surprise encounter with a grizzly, but the bear spray cults whines and complains and pretends that if only big game hunters would use bear spray for self-defense instead of a firearm, we could save bears.

  39. JB Avatar

    “While the bear spray cult and other clueless dolts are fixated on forcing hunters in grizzly country to carry bear spray, grizzlies continue to die due to conflicts with sheep/livestock on public lands. And the Interagency Grizzly Bear Agency has reduced the amount of habitat available to grizzlies by distracting you with bogus bear spray issues.”

    So, by your logic, bear spray and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee are the real reason grizzly bears are dying in the GYE? Seriously?

    Brian, you got any more Billy Madison?

  40. Brian Ertz Avatar

    if you can’t beat down the bear-spray v fire-arm debate, the next best thing is to go with it …

    dave smith,

    1. you had better damn well carry bear spray, know how to use it, and leave your fire arm at home – or so help me GOD …!…

    2. access to our nation’s back-country ought be conditioned on a person’s possession of and proper knowledge of how to use bear spray. In fact, if a person is able to demonstrate possession of bear spray, authorities ought forego RAT fees.

    3. There is no substitute for bear spray.

    4. those who fail to carry bear spray in bear country are much like pedophiles, there’s just ain’t no curin’ ’em – they belong behind bars !

    5. people who fail to carry bear spray into bear country, opting for a firearm instead, should be deprived basic civil rights. If you can’t figure out that bear spray is better than a firearm in bear country – well then, you don’t deserve the right to vote.

    6. One time, I was hiking in bear country with my sister’s husband, Bill – he was relatively inexperienced in the back-country, which was alright, and just before dusk we moved over a saddle the other side of which stood a big brown bear over top a rotten tree trunk, pickin’ ants and bugs off one by one. Now Bill, being inexperienced in the back-country & all, failed to carry with him a trusty canister of fail-proof bear-spray. Instead, he carried a .45 . Bill reached down and plucked that .45 out of its holster real quiet and let off a few shots. I watched Bill die not 15 feet before my eyes that day, right on top of that saddle. It wasn’t an easy thing letting my sister in on what had happened that evening … but I’ll tell you what – I wasn’t about to waste my bear spray on Bill, both me and my sister agreed: if Bill didn’t have the good sense to carry 100% guaranteed bear-spray himself, opting instead for a fire-arm, well – then he wasn’t right for my sister, and he sure as hell wasn’t right for this world …

  41. Ken Cole Avatar

    Uh oh. Here it comes 😉

  42. JB Avatar

    Thanks, Brian. That’s the best laugh I’ve had in weeks!

  43. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Problem is they don’t get it – it’s “OUR” land, not theirs!

    DumOleBob, I wish that would be enforced. Private land grazing is one thing, when it is on public lands it is in everyone’s interest, including people that westerners like to demonize (Californians, New Yorkers, etc.).

  44. Mike Avatar

    ++BEAR SPRAY debate!!

    Oh no! My new Nikon d5000 just came in the mail. I’ve on my way to take some photos, but now I think I might just shoot myself instead


  45. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I recovered my composure, and now I have some nasty cow pictures to post :->

  46. DumOleBob Avatar

    Dave – Now we are headed into a place I am not anxious to go again. Suffice it to say I have been right there when an surprised grizzly was shot at a range of only 40 yards, five times by an experienced hunter, with a 7mm Mag, with 150 gr Nosler partition bullets, all hits in the vital chest area. Until it succumbed to the fifth round it was fully capable of “tearing anyone’s head off” – without any question. Call it adrenalin rush or whatever you wish the fury exhibited by that bear would scare the devil himself. At first a shot a bear is not dead. Even if its heart has stopped, its brain ceased to function and it isn’t breathing. The knee jerk reaction is something to behold! It is one mad, mad killing machine! You’d better believe it!

    Oh I know the debate is bear spray vs gun. Personally I carry the spray. You carry what makes you feel safe, but either way you are in deep, deep dodo if you are that close to a mad griz! Your best bet, your only bet is to just not get that close!

  47. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Ralph–You mock grizzly/wolf habitat issues, which are often one and the same, and promote bear spray BS. Please do give us data on scientific studies about bear spray use by hunters.

  48. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    DumbOleBob–it’s dumb ole me having a hard time believing somebody could get off 5 shots at a charging grizzly just 40 yards away. Not possible with a bolt action rifle. Your hunting buddy was shooting a ???? what rifle? And hunting elk?

  49. DumOleBob Avatar

    Hey Dave – Trying to answer, even talk to someone with the kind of mind set you’ve got is a total waste of time. However, one more time – I didn’t say the bear was “charging”. I doubt it ever really knew wher the shooter was. The point is one will hardly ever kill a bear, esp one excited, with one shot! I’d even say never! So pack your ’06 – with one round – and take off into the deep woods. If that round doesn’t do it – hang onto your hat!

    Been there, done that ole buddy! Maybe one day you will too. Frankly, I believe you’re just about pot stirring and getting other people fired up. Havin’ fun as it were…

  50. Sabrina Avatar

    Wait? What? I heard something over on this site. Did someone say bear spray? Huh?
    Das goood shtuff.

  51. DumOleBob Avatar

    Here ya, but with certain mind sets some people won’t believe it, but some normal person will:

  52. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Cool Ralph, a comic strip. Nice relief. 🙂 I loved Sandler fighting over shampoo or creme rinse.. Great stuff.

  53. jburnham Avatar

    Dave, can we cut to the chase here? I’d like to hear more about how the bear spray cult is actually an anti hunting conspiracy in disguise.

  54. otto Avatar

    Ertz you remind of another telling tale:
    ‘Bout five years back me and my buddy Joe were out shootin’ stuff. Don’t remember if it was elk, deer, squirrel or a role of Kodak 400 speed. Anyway as dusk started a fallin Joe and I rounded one last bend, tryin to rustle out somethin’ to unload on. Well wouldn’t you know it there stood Gentle Ben’s cousin ‘cept he weren’t gentle at all, just right ornery. Joe, bein’ city folk and not armed like the good lord commanded in the 2nd amendment, reached for his ever present hip mounted can of Bear-b-gone and took aim.

    Well I’ll be right snookered if old Ornery Ben didn’t just lap up that peppered spray like a ice cream cone in the middle of July. Fact he even asked for a second helpin’! As luck would have it my ought 6, you know it’s called that cause it was invented in 1906, done jammed. The only thing that saved Joe and me’s hides that twilight night was Dave Smith boring that bear right to sleep with his diatribes about some phantom bear spray cult.

  55. Cobra Avatar

    I use a 7mm mag and have taken many elk with it. It’s a great caliber for elk and such but at close ranges there are better rifles, especially going after griz. In a close range situation like 40 yards with a charging grizzlie I think I’d just as soon have the spray. If nothin else maybe, enough pepper might make me worth eating, wonder when they’ll come out with a salt and pepper spray.

  56. Aaron M.C. Avatar

    Idaho wolf hunt update:

    Season is open in two new zones, Middle Fork and Selway.

    The total amount of wolves taken is currently five.

    Legal: 4

    Illegal: 1

  57. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Only 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No way, where is Larry, he said that they would be falling like flies.. ? 🙂

  58. SR25Stoner Avatar

    At forty yards charging me I either want my 454 Casull, by Freedom Arms, or the twelve Gage shotgun with slugs, auto loader. If I had to choose between pepper spray, or my home made ammonia squirt bottle, it is the ammonia hands down. Been there done that, it’s my hide, my choice. With either spray repellent if the wind is wrong your screwed, both combatants are blinded, or effected by the spray, sounds like a big zero on the fun meter to me.

  59. SR25Stoner Avatar

    OMG, Otto thanks for that ha ha ha.

  60. Ken Cole Avatar

    To hell with pepper spray and guns I’m only going to carry a quiver of arrows!

    B.C. man uses arrow to fight off grizzly bear

  61. SR25Stoner Avatar

    In that case the pepper spray would have disabled the man in B.C. Why would anyone wish to disable themselves during that chaotic moment, I will take the arrow also.

  62. smalltownID Avatar


    Grandpa used a fly rod to fight off a Kodiak. No joke.

    I love how people have one experience in the wild and that represents all other conditions.

  63. Janet Barwick Avatar
    Janet Barwick


    I don’t believe that the “bear spray cult” needs to make apologies or excuses here. While it is both sad and unfortunate that the sheepherd was hurt in this case, it is clear that the bear spray worked in terms of ending the attack. That’s pretty good evidence. I think the onus should be on YOU and the “alls I need is my gun cult” to provide proof that guns are more effective in preventing harm than bear spray. Anything…Buehler, Buehler! Exactly what study are you citing? Oh…right! Science is incorrect on this account. Are you kidding me!?Of course science and statistics ARE holy, holy, holy! They are based on odds, and the odds related to bear encounters and the effectiveness of bear spray are crystal clear. We never get to hear the stories of people who have used bear spray with posititive “life-saving” results. We only hear the sensational stories of people getting hurt, and bears getting killed–often by people who are NOT carrying bear spray. I have personally talk to many people who have had to use bear spray, and would never rely on a gun as a means of protection. After reading through your posts I find your argument irrational, irresponsible and indefensible. If you want to learn more about bear spray and its effectiveness, check out the Journal of Wildlife Management 72(3) Smith, et al.

    And now I’m going to go and insert a sharp pencil into my ear scrambling the parts of my brain that remembers reading your posts! Only then might I get the logic of your argument!

  64. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Well, I had hoped this thread would provoke a discussion why the hell they run sheep in a place as wild as Tosi Creek. Maybe no one has ever been there except me.

  65. Maska Avatar

    Does anybody have any reliable information on the economics of raising sheep in the U.S.?

  66. DumOleBob Avatar

    Good point Mr R! Why in Tosi Creek? Tosi isn’t even the tiny tip of the iceberg! It is just on the edge of the Gros Ventre Wilderness!

    Better still why do we still allow cattle to graze in the Gros Ventre AND Teton Wilderness? The areas where these cows run are not suitable for any of the purposes the Wilderness Act intends. Wilderness hell!

    Why to we still run cows in the meadows in Grand Teton National Park, immediately adjacent to a annually used wolf denning area? I mean RIGHT NEXT TO THE DEN! In a National Park for heavens sake! The Park has closed the area to the public, but not to the cows!? Go fig?

    Why don’t we move them to other more suitable grazing areas? BECAUSE the cows/sheep have much more political clout than do wildlife! No bureaucrat or politician is willing to take them on! Not willing to even try to move them. Not even ask!

    Now there is a grass roots effort to buy out grazing leases, which has been very effective around Jackson Hole and other places. Trouble is it relies upon the public to contribute huge sums of cash to buy out the leases. Buying out the grazing leases in the Spread Creek area of the Mt Leidy Highlands, Wyoming has made a resounding improvement in just a few years. However, just the other day I saw a documentary on Bears where the cowboy/”rancher” tending cattle in the Mt Leidy Highlands flat out stated the bears had “run them off their allotment”. The truth is his boss got hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public to give it up.

    The economy of the livestock business will clear out grazing on public lands in time, but the question is: Do we have THAT much time? What can we do until they run out of steam?

  67. DumOleBob Avatar

    NWF’s page on buying out grazing leases.

  68. SAP Avatar

    OlBob – can you tell us the title of the bear documentary you mentioned? I’d like to see it. I wish filmmakers wouldn’t let subjects make unchallenged assertions like “the bears ran us off” (& stuffed hundred $ bills in our saddlebags as we left).

  69. Sara Avatar

    Dave–lighten up! When you’re in the back country use whatever weapon you need to in order to defend yourself. There is no bear spray cult so let go of the silly rhetoric. I carry bear spray because I can use it more skillfully. If I fired a gun, my shaky hands would assure that I would miss. I would be so freaked out by a bear encounter that I couldn’t aim straight. So please give me a break–I have to use what works for me. If you are truly in a situation where you are defending your life the FWP doesn’t care what you do to save yourself. Living, working and playing in the Rockies has risks. Neither bear spray nor a gun will necessarily keep you alive.

  70. Brian Ertz Avatar


    NWF’s buy-out efforts are great and should be supported.

    One of the things that would further help the effort is to get statutory language that made such retirement permanent. Right now, FS & BLM do not have the regulatory nor statutory authority to permanently retire grazing allotments.

    That means that although NWF is paying permittees large sums of cash to walk away from their permit – or trade-out high conflict permits for other allotments, the Forest Service &/or BLM does not permanently retire the allotments. If another rancher were to apply for the permit, FS or BLM would be well within its authority to re-issue permit for the allotment.

    In fact, I’ve run into this problem in SW MT on the Gallatin where NWF “bought-out” the Cache-Eldridge & Wapiti allotments (one permittee remains on the Wapiti). This is a high-conflict area for wolves, bears, potentially bison, etc. Forest Service refused to acknowledge NWF’s buy-out and stated that it was considering combining one bought-out allotment, with another allotment that had not been bought ought, given the newfound grass on the bought-out allotment !!!

    This problem is particularly difficult given much of the “multiple use” provisions in Forest Plans and/or RMPs.

    So, ultimately – we need legislation directing/enabling agencies to permanently retire grazing allotments when conservationists & ranchers are able to come to agreement.

    Until that happens – the best way to bring attention to the issue to support such legislation, or other ‘relief valves’ is to continue to bring legal pressure on agencies who fail to comply with the law.

  71. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    For you handgun wielding would be grizzly bear killers. Try this test:

    Get an 18 inch square chunk of 1/2 plywood (weighted at the bottom edge) and suspend it on a pulley strung on a clothesline rigged between a couple of trees about 90 feet apart. Attach a line to the the plywood target a the far end of the line, and have somebody pull it toward you as fast as they can. If you can put four of six rounds of 300 grain hard cast bullets from a .40+ caliber magnum hand (.44 mag, 454 Casull, .500 S&W) near a pie plate size area on the target in less than 3 seconds (with muzzle rise and all, unless your gun is ported), you might just stand about a statistically signficant chance of surviving a grizzly attack without serious injury. I bet you won’t get off 4 rounds, and maybe two will be hits.

    Try the same test with a scoped rifle (you likely won’t be able to quickly acquire the target at that distance) and a 12 gauge pump or auto.

    Of those three lethal alternatives my money is on the 12 gauge, but who goes around in the woods most of the time carrying a gun that is bulky, weighs about 7 pounds loaded, and has no other use than to dispatch a very unlikely bear target.

    Even the BIG canister of spray in a holster is compact and weighs less than that four pound .454 Casull that propably cost you over $1,600, and about a $1.50 a round to shoot.

    A can Bear Spray is less than $70. At that price you can buy two and use one to practice with once, and know what to expect, even the nasty overspray that might get you . If you are in a National Park you won’t even have to explain yourself to the ranger (unless those regulations on gun carry are finalized). Oh, did I forget the dead bear you might have to explain, or a wounded one that just might be POed enough to go after somebody else. That sometimes happens in Alaska, and maybe here as we get more grizzly in more places. By the way those hand gun rounds might just bounce off the skull, if you were thinking head shot.

    All that being said, there is a time and place for a lethal alternative, and a .30+ caliber magnum rifle round with a heavy deep penetrating bullet would be my choice. And, if I were a sheepherder I would have a rifle or shotgun for my night visitors, and my bear spray.

  72. Janet Barwick Avatar
    Janet Barwick

    Thank you Wilderness Muse! Your point about bears that may only be wounded by those who REFUSE to use bear spray as a first line of defense is a very good one! It not only puts other outdoorsmen (and women) at risk, it also puts at risk the lives of agency personnel who are charged with investigating the incident and finding this wounded (angry) bear, putting their own personal safety at risk. I can’t think of anything more irresponsible.

  73. SR25Stoner Avatar

    The 454 at 60,000 psi at the muzzle will drill a grizzly skull. Your going to only have one chance at 40 yards to take that bear with you, and that is if your lucky enough to see the bear in time, either way if you go, pistol or spray, if you don’t see the bear before it charges, your on the ground. My preference is the 260 grain, which at 150 yards or less is functioning at 2000 Ft. LBS. Of course for the novice pistoleer I recommend bear spray. The 454 or twelve gage were the weapons of choice by the guides which took me fishing in Alaska’s back country. And those Indian guides told me, there are places near by where even they flat out will not enter, it is a fight to go in there, because the bears are not familiar with humans, and will just go after humans, challenge them. I used to sing a lot while riding Grizzly country, and I hung a little bell on the saddle horn, it’s still there now in fact. I only had one hassle with a grizzly, and he never touched me, I just looked down and raised my arms, and he walked on. A friend had his horses killed once while elk hunting, and his camp destroyed, he killed the Grizzly, and spent six months in jail over it. He had been treed by the bear. I’ve been sprayed by back spray before, it disables you, I would rather fight for my life and die fully cognizant rather than die disabled because of that damn spray..

  74. Janet Barwick Avatar
    Janet Barwick

    SR25Stoner…you also make a good point. Bear spray is not “brains in a can” and nothing can be a substitute for knowing how to behave in bear country.

  75. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I do not doubt your resolve and your experience. You must be an exceptional marksman. And I do admire the incredible workmanship in your Freedom Arms revolver. I visited the factory just outside Thayne, WY a few years back. Just curious, at what point in the 40 yard charge would you draw a bead and take the first shot with that single action – gotta pull back the hammer back again with my thumb for the next round- hog leg. Or, do you just turn into a fanner-trick hip shooter at that point, and pray for divine intervention?

    [Serious topic I know, but I had to add some humor, and recall my Mattel “Fanner 50” days of long ago]

  76. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    You will appreciate this follow-up, because it is on point. And gives pause to think about bear spray effectiveness in certain situations. The incident happened near Soldotna, Alaska, and involves a handgun of 454 Casull caliber in the hands of an experienced shooter.

    [It also potentially involves careless stewardship of an area in Alaska cohabited by people and bears]

    The setting. My folks owned an interest in a small RV Park on the Kenai Peninsula. It was a Russian Fishing Village (onion dome church on the hill and all). Ninilchik is about half way between Soldotna and Homer down at the very end of the Kenai. My folks used to spend summers there throughout the 1980’s and early 90’s. We did not have much problem with bears as the population was low, and what grizzlies were there had lots of salmon through the summer. Now, from what I have read there are more bears and more people there today. Why, more bears, I am not sure.

    A friend passed this story along to me. The incident happened a month ago, and is rather chilling. It happened about 40 miles from Ninilchik. As the grizzly bear population in the Rockies and NE Washington increases, there will be more incidents like the sheepherder, the retired Maryland cop in WY or this AK fellow, in the lower 48. No sensationalism, just fact. Statistically the woods are still safer than crossing the street.


    First hand account from the shooter with pictures:,179994.0.html

  77. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Wilderness Muse . . I read the two stories and the comments to each story. There is no telling what the bear’s story is on this one is there? I have noticed in Alaska that respectable guides have some really unbelievable stories to tell quite frequently . . actually part of their jobs are to tell good stories, make people who come to Alaska feel strong and brave for even going there and get same to pay big bucks to be protected. This one sounds pretty fishy to me.
    And before you call me a lower 48 bunny hugger for my opinion, realize that I have spent some time getting to know the guides in that area.

  78. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Well flip, this is easy to figure out here, and this excerpt explains the mans good luck in this situation;

    “It was a big boar, roughly 15 to 20 years old, but in poor body condition for this time of year. He was very thin and had significant tooth wear,” said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.”

    That is why the man won this one. 20 yards, starved bear. Simple, this old grizzly could no longer run at top speed. And look at his photos in the second link, those pics prove it, this bear was old, and malnourished.

    Take this bear back to his healthy days and you have a different outcome at 20 yards. Because of the bears health issues I buy it. The other plus is the snub nosed pistol..

    Slow bear.

    Muse, you don’t fan that gun. I know you know that. If the shot is there great, if not ouch.

  79. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Concerning guns and bears, Yellowstone, 40 years ago, was all for shotguns. We had a lot of “training” and given reasons for alternating slugs and buck shot. Slugs to kill and bb’s to blind.

    Yellowstone does not promote shotguns for bears anymore. Penetration by slugs but too slow to have shock power. In the 70’s we had a bear with all the strikes. Where I was stationed (Lake) the ranger in the passenger seat of the ranger station wagon opened the window as the driver cruised within 3 feet of the griz at the edge of the camp ground. Pow, point blank in the chest and Mr. griz runs off. Two weeks later the same bear was killed with a rifle at Hayden Valley’s Trout Ck. dump. Had no visible problems moving around. Closer look showed deep wound but nothing at critical areas.

    The USGS of Alaska did a bunch of tests. The shotgun didn’t cut it. For their employees in bear country they issued 338’s, the same as we were told to use and one stocked at each of our ranger stations.

    I carried a Marlin 45-70 with jacked up Garret rounds. I was the only one in the Park Service authorized to carry a lever action. Also had a S&W 44 with Garret rounds. Only ranger in Yellowstone allowed to carry one for resource and law enforcement purposes.

    Qualifications each year had to be with the rounds one was using. Rifle 15 rounds ($3 per round) and 44 … 30 rounds ($1 per round)…with a same number rounds “practise” session immediately before.

    One could not touch the metal on the 44 after 2- 5 round sets (standing and kneeling) of quick fired 45-70. The last five were prone position. Those folks ten feet back could feel the ground move.

    The 44 qualification meant taping the end of the trigger finger and also several times around the palm of the hand between the thumb and the finger. Then a tight fitting glove over all this. And this was a gun with custom rubber grips. Try shooting this much and not flinching…and if you can, try to keep your concentration after the finger splits out…. like it did every time I qualified. I had won a number of Park championships with the 357 mag (rest of park was using 38’s) …but came close but never did with the “big guns”.

    I never had to use these guns in thirty years, though charged some times …. and had some “Whoof’s” less than 10 feet from me (your scalp moves when this “event’ happens). I did carry this rifle on stake out a lot by travelling on foot in the dark with a flashlight taped to the barrel. Any practise at night shows one loses night vision with the flash so one better hit with the first shot.

    Saying all this above to let you know it all is very serious stuff out there and one better have it all thought out in your mind if you even think of using fire power with bears or people.

    I’d say big guns work but the concentration and mental stamina has to be at the highest level in order to be effective with them. As for the smaller guns, the 30-06’s etc., I don’t think one can even think you can have stopping power and be assured you can kill that bear.

    My son and I shoot over a hundred bison on our farm every year and with even good ear shots one has to go with the 458 to actually immediately kill a 15 year old bull with one shot. There is so much life and determination to live in these guys. I’d say it is the same with a big boar. Both evolved to protect and their bodies and constitution show it. Yes, get lucky and break a shoulder or spine, but can you depend on it? No.

    I have seen one of our bulls flip a 1600 # big bale completely up and over behind him with one swift upward turn of the head. I have seen the remains of a barn door (4 old heavy 2×12’s with a 2×12 z patterned and bolted through these planks) made into a dutch door in Yellowstone. the bear got ahold of the bottom and pulled out. The hinges were inside and the 2×6 trim kept those hinges from pulling out. What power!!!.

    The reason for all this “power” was in case I got called into someone mauled and bear could still be still around. There would be no one else back there to help you. No need for bear spray in these kind of situations. It is combat.

    And, yes, I also carried bear spray.

    I guess it was a night for war stories. Hope you don’t think it was bragging. It wasn’t. You just need to know.

  80. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Error above. “couldn’t touch the barrel of the 45-70,” not as stated, 44.

  81. Karen V. Stefanini Avatar
    Karen V. Stefanini

    Reply to Hilljack: Yes, I and many other bear lovers refer to these darlings as darlings. Reality check: I am terrified of bears and wouldn’t be caught in bear territory outside of a locked vehicle. I respect bears and nature and stay away from it for that reason. I do donate a small fortune annually to bear rehab and protection. Fortunately, I am not an elk and have no intention of ever hugging a bear. They should be left alone. Hunters should arm themselves with seedlings rather than guns and plant berry, nut and fruit trees and bushes to help supplement their dwindling food supply. Bear proof trash containers should be mandatory in bear territory to help keep them out of mischief. I adore bears and have donated my art on WEBSHOTS (karenvstefanini) for bear and environmental protection groups fundraising. These magnificent yet endearingly charismatic creatures deserve our protection and respect. I suggest hormone harvests rather than kill hunt harvests to keep their population in check.

  82. Karen V. Stefanini Avatar
    Karen V. Stefanini

    DumOleBob, Thanks so much for the National Wildlife website regarding retiring grazing allotments. I’ll send a donation asap. I’ve been a member of NWF for decades. I also donate to Vital Ground as they are buying up large tracts on private lands to give the precious grizzlies safe harbor and pathways to feeding spots without having to deal with roads and public encroachment. If we would all take into consideration the havoc red meat causes in our bodies, there would be no more grazing problems. Chicken and fish aren’t too harmful though and would give back all the land to wildlife, particularly precious, darling bears. Yes, I like many other bear lovers refer to them as precious and darling. But I must admit I am terrified of these magnificent yet endearlingly charismatic creatures and wouldn’t be caught in grizzly territory outside of a locked vehicle with the motor running. I think people should stay out of bear territory and leave them alone. Hunters should arm themselves with seedlings rather than guns and plant berry, nut and fruit trees and bushes to supplement their dwindling food supplies.

  83. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Karen V. Stefanini and all that are enthusiastic about buying out these grazing leases, it is important to read what Brian Ertz posted because this is a risky business unless legislation passes congress.

    To requote, Brian Ertz wrote:

    “NWF’s buy-out efforts are great and should be supported.

    One of the things that would further help the effort is to get statutory language that made such retirement permanent. Right now, FS & BLM do not have the regulatory nor statutory authority to permanently retire grazing allotments.

    That means that although NWF is paying permittees large sums of cash to walk away from their permit – or trade-out high conflict permits for other allotments, the Forest Service &/or BLM does not permanently retire the allotments. If another rancher were to apply for the permit, FS or BLM would be well within its authority to re-issue permit for the allotment.

    In fact, I’ve run into this problem in SW MT on the Gallatin where NWF “bought-out” the Cache-Eldridge & Wapiti allotments (one permittee remains on the Wapiti). This is a high-conflict area for wolves, bears, potentially bison, etc. Forest Service refused to acknowledge NWF’s buy-out and stated that it was considering combining one bought-out allotment, with another allotment that had not been bought ought, given the newfound grass on the bought-out allotment !!! [emphasis mine]

    This problem is particularly difficult given much of the “multiple use” provisions in Forest Plans and/or RMPs.

    So, ultimately – we need legislation directing/enabling agencies to permanently retire grazing allotments when conservationists & ranchers are able to come to agreement.

    Until that happens – the best way to bring attention to the issue to support such legislation, or other ‘relief valves’ is to continue to bring legal pressure on agencies who fail to comply with the law.”

  84. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Linda Hunter,

    I guess these stories of the wild all have to stand on their own with some degree of uncertainty as to what happened, especially when there are not corroborating witnesses, a camera rolling, or bloody human body. The AK story was investigated by Wildlife officials, who agreed with the guide’s account (and yes I know the personality type you were referring to). I am going to guess, with a high degree of probablility, this was no contrived macho marketing story, and the bear’s poor physical condition and age was likely a factor in the outcome favorable to the shooter..

    Whenever I am inclined to be skeptical of such things, I am reminded of some old Yellowstone Park film footage of the Cragihead brothers (grizzly researchers for over thirty years, who Bob Jackson probably knew). There is a film clip of one very pi*** off bear shoulder butting a red 1957 Ford station wagon, at near full speed, in a meadow. The bear woke up prematurely from a tranquilizer after measurements, and even groggy that bear could flat out move.

    And one last storiy some people probably would not believe. An adult cougar was found in a downtown Seattle forested park over Labor Day weekend. Despite naysayers and critics of those who observed the cat, he was nonetheless trapped in Discovery Park, a stone’s throw from the Space Needle less than a half mile away. Big cat in great physical shape, just curious. Apparently it came down the well vegetated railroad track right of way from a more rural area in the north.

    I have my own story about a very large black bear on the Clearwater River in ID from last year, but I will spare you.

  85. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Ralph -your comment,

    “Forest Service refused to acknowledge NWF’s buy-out and stated that it was considering combining one bought-out allotment, with another allotment that had not been bought ought, given the newfound grass on the bought-out allotment !!! ”

    NWF is pretty sophisitcated and has clinics associated with one or more law schools in the Rocky Mountains. I would be surprised if they would spend money to lock up an allotment only to have the FS circumvent it. Do you have any more details on whether there is paperwork on this, and if the FS went thru with it, or NFW challenged?

    Very disturbing FS policy, if they followed thru. Any details you can post, (or send me via email} on this disturbing issue?

  86. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Linda Hunter – I know Greg Brush from my tenure with the ADFG. He is a very credible fishing guide on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. The area he lives in, and all of the Kenai Peninsula for that matter, is frequented by brown bears. The type of encounter he described (absent the very fortunate outcome for Greg – successful defense with a handgun) is not unusual. We had brown bears in our neighborhood, and on one occaision had one in our backyard. There have been maulings in close proximity to residential areas in the past. If you look closely at the bear, it does appear to be in poor physical condition. I have no doubts that the attack and outcome occured as described.

  87. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    I was actually quoting Brian Ertz. I wanted to make sure his earlier comment was not overlooked. Anyway your question should be directed to him. Brian has been doing some work on these grazing allotments and is familiar with what is going on.

  88. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    The Craigheads were headquartered at Canyon when I first arrived for my Bureau of Sport fisheries job at Lake. We would go to their compound once in a awhile.

    They, like all independent researchers, needed to get film out and National Geographic coverage to stay in the “business”. With this need there was bound to be conflicts with competing bigheads feeling slighted (NPS).

    Of course the same thing happens in house for biologists in all of the Govt. …. Either become well known or fall away. I saw it happen a lot with the wolf reintroduction…only this time it was the prestige fight of who in administration could get the most press or film. Administrative desk rangers were trying to fit into field gear long ago to small….. for the filming of them taking over from the real cage carriers to parade in front of press cameras….only to drop the stretcher once it passed the camera. I also this happening with supposed bison research. biologists would set things up for the best camera action. Public Affairs knew this and used this to gain power in the Park. Thus those wanting advancement would cuddle up and give favor to Public Affairs. You see any press wanting a story PA could suggest who it was they talked to.

    Thus my long standing argument that wildlife sometimes is compromised to get this publicity.

    The Craigheads were very knowledgable of their tranquillizing ability and also very knowing what it took to make good footage that the public liked to see. I can never prove it but I think it was a lot more calculated and “oppotunistic” than someone just happening to be in the right place to get “real” footage. Kind of like Perkins Mutual of Omaha tv production.

    With so much “power” pushing between the Park Service and the Craigheads back then, they really needed this film to have a chance. But what more could they produce to influence even more so? The National Geo tried to show the warm side with a front cover picture of their daughter in Yellowstone with a crown of wildflowers on her head….which backfired as a publicity stunt because it is illegal to pick flowers in the Park.

    In the end the govt. had too much infrastructure even for the savvy public affairs Craigheads. It was well imprinted in me how the Craigheads, even with all that media support from National Geo and Audubon, were pushed out by the machine.

    Though it may have hurt them, their experience was my gain as it helped me formulate how to and what it took to take on the same machine with the nationally publicized salting issue. Every time a reporter called I had picture ready and my son would scan these and get them to these guys within hours. The Park was to cumbersome to come anywhere close to matching.

    I also went a step further and asked these same reporters, from the likes of LA Times, Washington Post etc., to ask certain follow up questions to the obvious ones the national NPS public Affairs and Yellowstone Public Affairs expected. It always worked…and to the extent Washington told Yellowstone Public Affairs “they were now on their own”.

    But, yes, this griz film does show the awesomeness of this bear.

  89. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    My question above, incorrecly asked of Ralph, back to you.

  90. Linda Hunter Avatar

    just wanted to mention that Greg Bush wasn’t “attacked” but charged by the bear. The article says the bear slide past him, but didn’t close enough to maul him before he was shot. The stick crack was a warning and there is no mention of what the dogs were doing while this was going on. Just to be picky. That said the bear did look in awful shape. . a bear I was familiar with looked like that too before she disappeared. We could see that she couldn’t see clearly and sometimes she forgot she had cubs and walked away without them. I could understand her doing something like this out of shear confusion. I believe it is possible that bears also get “oldtimers disease”. I don’t doubt that the story is true but just like other newspaper accounts I bet we didn’t hear the whole thing. And Mark I lived in brown bear country with brown bears in our “yard” on a daily basis and fishing guides nearby pushing brown bears away with boat paddles so they could get to “their” fishing spot. I found bears in that part of Alaska to be extremely tolerant of humans as a rule. That tolerance does not extend to dogs.

  91. DumOleBob Avatar

    Yo Bob, RE your words concerning the Craigheads, “…a front cover picture of their daughter in Yellowstone with a crown of wildflowers on her head….which backfired as a publicity stunt because it is illegal to pick flowers in the Park.

    I knew both Frank and John Craihead and assure you the wildflowers were picked outside of the Park and brought in just for that photo! For heavens sake, they would never, ever pick a flower in a NP 🙂

  92. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    I’m so pleased we’ve got someone from the IDFG here; maybe Mark can help resolve a couple of bear spray and firearm issues for us. If a big-game hunter is carrying bear spray in a hip holster, and a 30/06 rifle using the two-hand/ready carry and he startles a nearby grizzly and the bear instantly charges, what does the IDFG recommend: bear spray or the firearm?

    When state and federal employees in Alaska go through bear safety training to qualify with a firearm, they’re taught they should not sling a rifle over their shoulder if they’re expecting bear trouble because it takes too long to bring the rifle in play. What does the IDFG tell hunters about this situation?

    This covers 2 of the 6 commonly used field carries for rifles. I can’t find any information at the IDG website. There’s a brochure about hunting safely in grizzly country, but these issues are not discussed.

  93. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    NWF doesn’t retire allotments, they retire individual permits. For example : If I signed a lease on a rental (House A) and a third party approached me, independently of the owner of the house, and said, “I’ll give you $10,000 to break your lease of ‘House A’ and move to ‘House B’” and I did it, the owner of the property would still maintain the right to lease ‘House A’ to another party in my absence, because the third party had not retired the house, just my lease of it.

    In the instance of the allotments on the Gallatin, not only does the Forest have that opportunity, but it pretty much has to consider issuing a permit to a new applicant in the absence of the allotment’s use – pursuant to the Forest Plan.

    the issue with the Wapiti allotment, and others on the Gallatin, is actually an interesting story –

    I tore into the Wapiti Allotment at first for bison ~ the Sage Creek /Wapiti Creek divide (on the Wapiti Allotment) serves as a “haze”/”slaughter zone specified in the IBMP (Interagency Bison Management Plan). The Gallatin NF opened up NEPA scoping on the grazing allotment over a year ago – and the Forest Supervisor went out of his way to preclude bison consideration from the NEPA analysis within that scoping letter – saying the Forest would not consider bison issues in its NEPA analysis, despite the fact that the allotment is of relevance to the IBMP, because the Forest Plan necessitated livestock use of the allotment. That this was the first introduction a Montana Forest had to WWP in quite some time, and that a Forest would use a scoping letter to preemptively preclude NEPA analysis regarding livestock use’s impact to bison upset me, so I leaned in and sent in pretty substantial scoping comments, making sure that this NEPA process was going to be comprehensive if they wanted to avoid a pain in the neck.

    Earlier this year I followed up on the scoping process and learned that the Forest had shelved the NEPA process on the Wapiti Allotment. I called up the Forest and hit the bureaucratic side-step, being transferred from one answering machine to another. So, we knew about NWF’s retirement program, and we knew Hank Fisher would have a pretty good idea about the allotments in the area. He did, and he explained the retirement program (map).

    Now, I’ve tried to get answers over and over again – but to no avail. Essentially, if you look over the site you’ll see, NWF works with ranchers to pay them to move their livestock onto other public land allotments that it deems less prone to wildlife conflicts. NWF works with ranchers and signs contracts with permittees, NOT the Forest Service. The Forest Service is NOT party to any contract. But the Forest Service does help facilitate application for alternative allotments that are not in use – because FS is obliged to facilitate this administrative process. This means that NWF retires permits, NOT allotments – and, unfortunately, the very administrative process FS is obliged via regulation to help facilitate in application for use of those alternative allotments – could just as easily be used by other ranchers seeking to use the allotments recently vacated in the original instance. NWF nor the permittee has any authority to retire an allotment, only the Forest Service can retire an allotment, as it is the administrator of the public landscape. A permittee can certainly sign a contract with a 3rd party to not use its permit – but when a permittee fails to use a permit, that allotment is subject to a different permittee moving in and requesting a permit from the FS, and that potential to issue a new permit is bolstered by the contractual impotence of the first permit – the retired permit actually proves availability of the allotment for use for another permittee. If the FS has an allotment that’s been designated for use pursuant to regulation, it’s Forest Plan, etc. then in the circumstance that the allotment is not being used (e.g. retired permit) it must consider application for use. And because the FS has no regulatory or statutory mechanism to retire an allotment via buy-out, the FS would have to retire it for other reasons, which – unfortunately, is prohibitively difficult given the Forest Plan, the previous use’s establishment of viability for use, and the FS’s captured bureaucratic culture.

    In the case of the Wapiti Allotment, I finally got ahold of the Forest, oddly – after being told that the Allotment was now under management of a different district, and asked what they intended to do with the Wapiti Allotment given they had shelved the NEPA process. I also asked about whether they knew anything about the buy-outs on the Forest. They said that their permittee would continue to graze. They seemed very nervous about talking about the buy-outs and eventually settled on claiming they had heard something about the buy-outs, but that any buy-out was between the permittee and a third party and that the Forest had nothing to do with a buy-out, was not a party to any contract, and that the allotments would continue to be subject to use even in the case of individual permittees selling-out their permits. I asked under what authority they intended to allow the permittee to graze, the permit had expired (which is why they initiated NEPA/scoping for the re-issuance of the permit in the first place) – they had no permit with which to allow use. They hung up the phone, called back a few days later, and claimed that they were going to re-issue the permit as it was pursuant to a Rescissions Act rider – which allows them to reissue so long as nothing on the permit changes. That Rescissions Act rider sunsets this next month, so it’ll be interesting to see whether they try to claim a 10-year permit, or whether it’s just one more grazing season.

    In any event, Hank Fisher (NWF) had retired 2 other permittees’ permits on the Wapiti Allotment (as well as all permits on the adjacent Cache-Eldridge Allotment), and rumor has it that the remaining hold-out permittee is ready to bail on the Wapiti Allotment as soon as NWF secures him an alternative allotment with the Forest. (as a little bird tells it, the permittee sweetened-up to the prospect of being bought-out after riding up over a bend in search of his stock, and coming up on one of his calves – with 2 or 3 grizzlies on top of it). However, a subsequent phone-call to the Forest indicated that the new district in charge of the Wapiti Allotment intends to re-open scoping on the allotment, only this time – they intend to do NEPA on combining the Wapiti Allotment with the Cache-Eldridge Allotment for livestock use. (But wait, I thought the Cache-Eldridge was already bought out ! and that the Wapiti was in process !).

    I would personally like to see Hank Fisher buy-out this last permittee, because as I understand it, a new permit to a new permittee is not subject to Rescissions – if NWF killed this last Rescissions-issued permit on the Wapiti, the Forest would be forced to do NEPA before issuing a new permit — which opens our (WWP’s) opportunity to weigh in, and I really want to weigh in on this crazy, secretive, and backward management of this very important public landscape.

    That’s what I know up to this day, though I should probably call and see where it stands now.

    Bottom-line :

    The Forest has no statutory nor regulatory mechanism to permanently retire these allotments with which NWF is buying-out permits. The Forest seems to be administering these “bought-out” allotments with the intention of continuing grazing-use – it’s taking a ‘hands-off’ approach to the retirement of these permits (not allotments). The whole process is extremely secretive, it’s a back-room handshake kinda deal, it seems to me – which is a problem if you care about the public interest.

    We need statutory language providing the Forest (& BLM) the opportunity to permanently retire grazing allotments. That language is not complicated – in fact, something as simple as the voluntary buy-out language used in the Owyhee Initiative (and soon to be seen in CIEDRA) – but applied to all Forest & BLM land – would do just fine. Without that mechanism, it seems to me that there’s a problem with the buy-outs — the allotments are still subject to use, and as with the Wapiti example – the Forest is still acting in such a way that it intends to use them, or maintains that such use is an option. We would love to see NWF join-in/weigh-in & support such legislation/language – and I believe it entirely necessary if NWF is to be patting itself on the back for its effort – which is a great effort ! it’s just – unfortunately, the devil’s in the details –

    If anybody wants to weigh in and let me know otherwise – I would welcome the education on any existing statutory or regulatory language that provides the mechanism for the permanence of these retirements from the allotment perspective. I just don’t see it.

  94. Tilly Avatar

    Brian, Excellent post. There is one way for BLM permit retirement to have a bit more permanence: when the Resource Management Plan provides for allotment retirement. This guarantees that the allotment will stay closed for the life of the RMP (20 yrs or so).

    Oregon Natural Desert Ass’n successfully worked to get a retirement provision in the Prineville RMP. The RMP has an interesting chart called a “grazing matrix” to decide if an allotment is appropriate for retirement, weighing “ecological,” “social,” and “demand” factors. At least 1 permit & allotment has been retired so far.

    You can see the matrix on p. 5 here:

    Still not permanent, though- so the legislation is necessary.

  95. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Mark Gamblin–Sacred commandment #2 for the bear spray cult is, research and statistics prove bear spray is more effective than firearms.

    I can give you all sorts of data on bear spray from Herrero (1998) and T.Smith, Herrero, DeBruyn, Wilder (2008), but I just can’t find a source of data on firearms. Are you aware of any peer-reviewed, published research on firearms? I know Herrero and Tom Smith are working on a paper on firearms use in Alaska, but it hasn’t been published yet.

  96. Brian Ertz Avatar


    So – the Prineville District of the BLM in Oregon has a mechanism … but from looking at the matrix, i wonder – is the decision to retire conditioned on just the permittee’s willingness ? or must it still qualify subject to eco/social/demand ?

    ultimately – the whole system is rigged to keep the lawyers fat. we need national language that stream-lines the process of allotment retirement. A few choice sentences couched somewhere in the back of a budget appropriations rider.

  97. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    yoyo ole bob

    Just to start with the proper perspective…I was always for the Craigheads in their Yellowstone issues.

    I also was privy to a lot of what the Park was trying to put together on them. I know they even had employees take pictures at the same spot to show the Craighead was in the Park with all that flower power.

    The Park also was using as “evidence” the supposed illegal travel into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by the Craigheads to check out bear denning …without a permit to do so.

    Which leads to the hippie picture. It occured after the Yellowstone Grand Canyon episode and as you say, the Craigheads were ecologically sensitive. The photo I’d say, however, was when neither brother was around and the National Geo photo guy probably had a good idea of what he wanted.

    There may or may not have been hesitation or knowledge on the subjects part. There was oversight responsibility on the brothers part because that was the initiative that got the story in Geo.

    I can say when the publicity is going to be there a lot of people including the law dog administrators of Yellowstone break the regs for THAT PICTURE.

    There also was a lot of hypocracy in the Park condemning the Craigheads for that flower mistake. So many of the wifes and girl friends of rangers, biologists and administrators using the back country cabins would pick flowers for the center piece of those evening fish fries. And they continued after all the uproar of the GEO shoot.

    Because of this episode National Geo changed their policy of having all principal parties preview all photos before they went to the publisher with them. I was in National Geo twice and I can say they had the Park peruse all photos. The only downside was administrators or public affairs used this check to promote those of favor and to castigate those of not the “importance” or rank. For example while I was stationed in Thorofare the print boys did a photo shoot which was suppose to be a lot about what I did. in the end the writer got to tell his story but the Park made sure their permanent gate ranger, the one they sent along to observe, had his photo, big gut and shirt hanging out, a real slob picture of someone who was, put in that publication. The writer would call me and say the story didn’t match with this photo but the Park got their way.

    I can also reason, ole bob, that the Craigheads DID NOT go out of the Park to get those flowers for that shoot. To do so meant they also would have the savvy to obtain the necesaary permits before hand. The Craigheads were folks who did not want to give the NPS any more leverage against them.

    I’d say in this case it was most likely just a slip up and the editors after reviewing the drafts and photos thought it made such a good PR point for the Craigheads they checked no further. Thus the Park jumped on this slip up and used this evidence against these fine biologists.

  98. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Does anyone wonder why Mark g. is posting on this blog? From my knowledge of how Yellowstone worked no employee gets by with doing so, as identified with employee label, without either the assignment to do so as a representative of that department….or there is preview of every writeup to be posted and its response…… if that person asks permission to do so.

    If Mark is acting as representative of Idaho G&F on this blog then he needs to say so. And if he is an offical representative then he is never going to have the leeway to say what he personally thinks. Just so everyone knows…or maybe he already did this disclosure and I didn’t read it.

    In Yelowstone PA assigns a division employee to answer topics appropriate to the issue. In my saltng of game issue they appointed the Assistant Chief Ranger as the one to slant the information coming out to the internet blogs. She also had the job of planting bogus responses from “others” who supposedly supported what she posted.

    When she proved eneffective the job was handed over to the Supt. administrative assistant. She knew even less and therefore they stopped posting after half a year. I doubt Mark stays at this long either. it gets to be a drag for them also when networking within ranks is a lot more fruitful. What do you say Mark?

    In Yellowstone administration isolation and control of employees was thought to be paramount also. It was very much frowned upon and passed down that no employee was to go to any Greater Yellowstone Coalition meeting or even be associated with the Sierra Club.

    The Park would send an official rep to the annual GYC conference in W. Yellowstone. The short list allowed to go was someone from PA, the supt., and the Park rep from the biologist office and the Park historian. This was a status thing and those Park folks could dress up for the banquet and drink wine while on duty. how they hated it if some lowly NPS employee would show up..and dare to talk with the status non profits (remember, Ted Turner was on GYC board right Ralph)

    There were always those who did this anyway. It included the West district ranger at the time (who was later pressured out because of his snowmobile stance), the bird biologist who said the hell with them and a few lowlies every so often who knew none of the restrictions yet.

    It was like the big boys in the Park thought it was their class caste system and there were to be no subordinates mingling.

    Where I got in disfavor with my supt. was when I was chosen as the GYC’s “govt. employee of the year” a year before he got it. None of the Park staff stayed for this Awards presentation (except the PA person who had to be there. (Afterwards in Washington at a Interior head function) when there was a lot of talk of me, he was very much heard angrily blurting out,” I made Bob Jackson, I made Bob Jackson”. And by the way thePark Admin was well represented at his awards ceremony the next year.

    To end up, I think it is good a rep from Idaho Game & FIsh is writing here, but don’t expect anything other than the company line. And don’t think you will ever change his mind. It is like the press spokesman for the President. It always is couched before addressing. Go ahead and have some fun with this if you want, I say. Every word you say wil be in the next days e mail distributed to Idaho G&F staff. Am I wrong, Mark?

  99. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Janet Barwick–Here are some statistics on bear spray use from Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska. “Of the 72 cases where persons sprayed bears to defend themselves, 50 (69%) involved brown bears, 20 (28%) black bears, and 2 (3%) polar bears. . . In 96% (69 of 72) of bear spray incidents the person’s activity at the time was reported. The largest category involved hikers (35%), followed by persons engaged in bear management activities (30%), people at their home or cabin (15%), campers in their tents (9% people working on various jobs outdoors (4%), sport fishers (4%), a hunter stalking a wounded bear (1%), and a photographer (1%).”

    1.) Notice there’s no data on firearms.
    2.) I think it’s reasonable to assume the majority of people in this study were not holding a rifle in hand when they needed to use bear spray. In contrast, big game hunters in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho typically are holding a rifle when they have a surprise encounter with a grizzly and get charged. Bear spray is not an option when you’re holding a rifle in your hands.

  100. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Thanks for the detailed information. I do understand the difference between the allotment as opposed to the permittee who controls (leases) the allotment under permit. It has been awhile since I looked into this subject and apparently little has changed. I was hoping there was greater FS/BLM management flexibility to temporariy put a for-certain “lock” on the consumptive use (overuse) of the permittee’s rights on the land, with no replacement permit. Clearly that is not the case, as you describe it.

    I am off for a week in the wilderness, playing pack mule and muse for my wife, so she can take inspiring large format photos in the high country. I will not be near a computer for awhile (good thing). Upon return I will probably have some questions on your material, and no doubt this thread will be closed. Maybe an opportunity to continue the dialog will present itself on a another thread.

  101. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland


    You know much about the 45-70 govnt? I would not take that over an 06 to save my life. Go to any balistics page and read up on the two cartridges. The 45 loaded with 300 grain bonded bullets has a muzzle velocity of 1850 and energy of 2280 ft lbs out the barrel. The 06 loaded with the same slug but in 150 grain has a muzzle velocity of 2910 and engergy of 2820. It will hit harder and penetrate farther than the 45-70. Also your 458 wont put a buff down? Hell they use the 458 to drop bull elephants in Africa in their tracks. They shoot 450 grain bonded solid bullets with around 6-7000 ft lbs of energy. Plenty enough to kill any animal in our universe!! 🙂

  102. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I believe everyone who keeps up on this blog realizes that Mark is acting in an official capacity. You probably don’t realize it, but our Governor requires all state employees to have official permission to make public statements to the press or media outlets. (I assume this blog qualifies). So that tells me that Clem is reading this blog or gets briefed on it.


    If your reading this Clem, tell me , how do you get the nickname “Butch”, by nuns, in a parochial school ?

  103. SR25Stoner Avatar

    You Otter not drink and drive Butch. 🙂

  104. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    By Josh

    Oh, not again…still another blogger who thinks they can upend me with their “gun” knowledge. Who was it before, Layton with a pinch of D.Smith thrown in?

    Josh, I lived 32 miles from any road, stayed there sometimes 5 months at a time without getting closer than 20 miles from a road and roamed all kinds of mountains. Half of it was off trail and most was in places where there was no chance at radio reception and salvation. I HAD to know about guns and roses…I mean ammo.

    I grew up with guns but this was nothing like what was needed for knowledge and emotional stability in areas where some of what I travelled had never had a whiteman there (ya, go ahead and try me with, “how do you know there never had been a Whitey there?”).

    For your information; Factory 45-70 rounds, the ones you see in Wal-Mart, the ones you quote, are very “mild” because of the weak guns they might be loaded into. It’s so guys with old trapdoors don’t get injured when a 45-70 round with higher pressures (which the modern guns can handle no problem) breaks things. That’s why the 450 Marlin round was made (get it, I had a 45-70 MARLIN?)… basically a 45-70 loaded to higher pressure from the factory. But why it never really took off is because Garrett and others, including handloaders, have been loading the 45-70 to respectible power levels for quite a while now.

    Your “higher velocity” crutch doesn’t always mean deeper penetration, either. The light bullet will tend to expand quickly and SLOWWWW very quickly, which is why with those bull elephants, hunters almost always use solids.

    That 30-06 of yours, to make a decent size wound channel, needs to expand. And while a premium bonded or X bullet may retain mass, the inertia just isn’t there for deep penetration after expansion.

    Take John Taylor’s knockout ratings for example, energy at the muzzle is good, but retained energy after impact is more important. A decently well loaded 45-70 will have over 3400 pounds of energy at the muzzle and in a lever action there’s quick follow up shots.

    With your example of different rifles and speeds etc. your 30-06 has a knock down rating of 18.7. Even your stated low power govt. 300 grain round for the 45-70 has twice the knock down of your “awesome” 30-06 pea shooter…this being 36.4.
    Now slip in a 420 Garrett, the one I referred to in my previous post as the one I used in Yellowstone, with a dense cast lead, going at 1850 or so… or one of my own loaded 405 rounds going a bit faster ….had both coming in at 50.8 or so knock down …and this means to any 6th grade math student my 45-70, used as a saddle gun, has 3 times the knock down of your favorite bear rifle. You see buddy ole pal, “you don’t know what you are talking about” (quote from Antoine in the movie No country for Old Men).

    The 458 WIN does a great job on the big bull buffalo and THAT IS WHAT I SAID I used in my earlier post, but it’s only around 5200lbs of energy (still plenty recoil when shooting prone off a bipod). Now a 460 WBY WILL GET TO the 6,000+ energy level you mentioned. No 50BMG or 700 Nitro needed, or wanted.

    Probably the best all-out “stopping” round in a rifle that doesn’t weigh too much, is the 600 OK, but with 190lbs of recoil (900 grain bullet at 2,400fps) it sure isn’t a softy to shoot, however and we will never ned it on our buffalo.

    On our farm for buffalo we use a 303, several 30-06’s, my trusty 45-70 and the 458. We use iron sights, scopes, bipods, standing positions, prone, slings, no slings…all kinds of different rounds and even have gun bearers on occassion for loading and handing the different rifles to us if we are shooting 8-12 bison of different ages at a time.

    We use lever actions, bolt actions, semi automatics and carry those mexican style ammo belts slung over our shoulders…only, unlike the mexs, we carry for two to three different calibers.

    There is no one gun for even the same animal. All shots are behind the ear or side of the neck. Ever try shooting the back of a head of a running buffalo going straight away at 75-100 yds.? We do. You switch out guns fast and go for when you can time the head when it comes above the body. That means you lead, account for the little drop differences depending on the bullet and caliber and pull the trigger when you don’t see the head. It doesn’t connect every time but I’d say its 2 out of three when we have to do it. Keeping the most meat means no up the butt for us.

    And I may have been a bit hard on you but you got to know there are lots of folks out there that have to know and use what they know. John Taylor was a big time poacher who shot lots of rhino’s. I would never think I knew near as much as him, nor any of the Great White Hunters of Africa.

    I don’t like talking the talk of guns just like I never “talked horses” even though I have probably ridden more than anyone in your present day “Out West” cowboy haven. but if I need to I will.
    So bye, bye Josh.

  105. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    jeff e

    Ijust read your question to “Butch” and the nuns. Loved it and am still laughing.

  106. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    i’m always happy to talk about grazing regs ~ and my absurd experiences at attempted public oversight of grazing administration on public lands. i look forward to that future conversation.

  107. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland


    45-70 Marlin and the govnt are the same gun. The marlin is just made by “marlin”.. You know that. Also those loads you are mocking are from the Federal PREMIUM ammo brand. Almost $50 a box, and are Nosler bullets, one of the best bullets out there. The Wal-Mart brands you are thinking about are the Remington Core-Lokt which are worthless. I dont like 06’s, just using it because that was the caliber everyone was talking about. Also a 30 06 is a .30 Calibre, and i have never heard anyone ever call a .30 gun a “pea shooter”… and I am sure in its day has killed numerous Grizz. I was using a 150 grain slug, now if someone was hunting elk they would probably be shooting a 180 grain slug from a premium ammo provider, which leaving the muzzle at around 2800 FPS would have plenty of energy to penetrate a bear from the ranges you are talking about..

    I shoot a 300 RUM. Now it shoots a 180 Barnes Triple Shoxx that I reload at around 3700 FPS. And it will knock a 800 lb bull elk on its butt at 500 yards. And we have had complete pass throughs on quarting and frontal shots out to 400 yards. So I would feel very confident it would stop a grizz in its track. Not to mention the Barnes bullets are 100 percent copper and retain 99 percent of their weight I would get ample penetration.

    Now using the 45-70 as an example of a gun hunters should be using in bear country, in all my years of hunting I have yet to see a 45-70 ever being used by a hunter. More along the lines of .300 Win Mags and 7MM’s etc… Which have plenty of energy to kill a charging bear..

    Of course I have to question what you say Bob, when you start throwing out your “elk families” and bull elk protecting the herd from 5 miles away in a different drainage, and all the biologist in the country dont know what you know, obviously people are gonna call you on some things..

    But to agree with you, if I knew I was gonna be charged by a grizz and had to choose betwee the 06 and a 45-70, I would go with the 45-70..


  108. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Just one last quick comment before I head off to the woods with a camera. If you are slinging lead at elk out to 400 yards and beyond, you no longer have my respect as a hunter. If you have to go much beyond 200, you are not a hunter at all, just an opportunist, who risks very high probability of leaving a wounded animal. That kind of distance usually means shooting across a pretty good draw or drainage. Very, very, few marksmen I know can hit a pie plate at that distance 5 out of 5. Even with good knowledge of the exact distance and any way to compensate for very signficant bullet drop, with all the technology that unfortunately has become a part of hunting for some (range finder, high magnification scopes, ultramag super powder charges with long range boattail controlled expansion, aerodynamic long range slugs, and maybe a a ballistic chart taped to the side of your stock marking drop at known distance). Every elk I have shot EVER has been less than 200 yards, with most under 100. That is a testament to my own commitment to fair chase and what I hope are good hunting skills.

    I hope, notwithstanding the capability of your acknowledged technology, you have a similar ethic.

  109. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    All this discussion about guns & ammo brings up an important point–the same fish & game departments that go on and on and on about the recommendation that bear spray should last at least 6 seconds and go 25 feet fail to offer big game hunters in grizzly country a recommendation on the minimum caliber rifle to use. The same fish & game departments that recommend hikers spray when a charging bear is 40-50 feet away fail to give hunters a recommendation on when to shoot at a charging bear. The same fish and game departments that tell hikers where to aim their bear spray fail to tell hunters where to aim at a charging grizzly. The same fish and game departments that tell hikers to carry bear spray where it will be quickly accessible fail to tell hunters which field carries give them the quickest access to their rifle. Etc. No wonder so many hunters get injured by grizzlies. No wonder hunters wound so many grizzlies. Irresponsible for the fish and game departments to ignore the issue of hunter safety in grizzly country.

  110. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    bob jackson – You made some strong points and asked an easy question:
    “If Mark is acting as representative of Idaho G&F on this blog then he needs to say so. And if he is an offical representative then he is never going to have the leeway to say what he personally thinks. Just so everyone knows…or maybe he already did this disclosure and I didn’t read it.”

    Bob – here are a couple of my first posts, identifying myself as a IDFG representative and explaining why:

    Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:
    August 15, 2009 at 10:31 AM
    For clarificaton, while there is much being said about the impacts of wolf predation on big game in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho – elk in particular – the Dept. of Fish and Game has not “advertised” that wolves are eating all of Idaho’s elk. We have strong elk populations in most of the state.
    We have made it known however that elk numbers in the Lolo and Sawtooth elk management zones are seriously depressed – by wolf predation. The science (years of high quality elk and wolf population radio-telemetry data) is clear. Wolf predation is depressing elk production well below what we should expect for the habitat quality in those zones. Elk habitat quality was following a natural, declining trend after the 1910 fires. The depressed elk production and the factors contributing to that depression is a combination of habitat quality AND substantial wolf predation on productive cow and calf elk.
    This is a critically important issue for Idahoans on both sides of the wolf management issue – those who support state management of wolves and the state wolf management plan and those who do not. Wolves are here to stay and WILL have effects on other components of our wildlife resources (of which wolves are also), elk e.g., that will challenge wildlife managers and the public to find biologically and socially sustainable middle ground solutions for. This is an important forum for exploring alternative solutions; AND
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:
    August 21, 2009 at 2:44 PM
    All – believe me, I do not feel abused in this dialog. Rather, I appreciate the opportunity to share information and learn from an important segment of the public I work for. These threads are no different from the public meetings and other forums we participate in. All wildlife issues generate diverse opinions and passionate debates. I’m repeating myself now – my role in these discussions is to listen, provide information, share Department/Commission perspectives and explain programs and policies. I have no illusions that everyone will like or agree with what I say or that I will change positions or opinions. And, I will avoid debating to the best of my ability….”
    I had read this blog for months before engaging. I held off because it’s my job to listen and provide information, explanations, facts. Eventually, I concluded that there is value for the public and for the IDFG and Commission for representation in these dialogs. I approached my supervisor, asked him if he sees a down side to my participation, representing the Department. He and our Communications Bureau Chief encouraged me to participate. We continue to see this as a value and benefit to the agency and the public we serve.

    “don’t expect anything other than the company line. And don’t think you will ever change his mind. It is like the press spokesman for the President. It always is couched before addressing. Go ahead and have some fun with this if you want, I say. Every word you say wil be in the next days e mail distributed to Idaho G&F staff. Am I wrong, Mark?”

    Bob, you are wrong. But, you and others deserve a more detailed answer. Careers and agencies vary widely. I have worked professionally for three agencies (two state and one federal) in my career. I’ve been around enough to know that standards of professional conduct and execution and support for those standards – for field staff and administrators – also vary among agencies. I have never experienced the situations you describe in my career with the IDFG. I have shared a few of my responses with my supervisor, and others because I believed there is important insight in these discussions. I do not routinely forward my comments and certainly don’t receive direction from above about what I should/can say or not. My comments are entirely my responsibility. If I need technical advice on a subject I can’t speak with confidence about, I consult with my staff in this Regional Office. Understand that I am not the only IDFG representative that read this blog. I hope that’s seen as a good thing.

  111. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    dave smith – you asked:
    “what does the IDFG recommend: bear spray or the firearm?; “When state and federal employees in Alaska go through bear safety training to qualify with a firearm, they’re taught they should not sling a rifle over their shoulder if they’re expecting bear trouble because it takes too long to bring the rifle in play. What does the IDFG tell hunters about this situation?”
    Dave – we don’t have specific training for employees or recommendations for the public regarding bear self defense techniques. Alaska has far more bear-human conflicts than we do. This could be something we look closer at in the future. In general, we have recommended good quality bear spray for personal protection in G-bear country. I do agree that anyone in bear country needs to be aware and have options for self defense. There will be times when a firearm will be the only viable defense in a bear attack.

  112. DumOleBob Avatar

    Too bad we can’t be guided by Lord Ralph’s hope posted on the 17th., “Well, I had hoped this thread would provoke a discussion why the hell they run sheep in a place as wild as Tosi Creek. Maybe no one has ever been there except me.

    That was starting to be interesting and vaulable, but you pewpper/gun debaters keep killing it!

    Ralph, can’t we start a thread to suck this debate outta here?

  113. Brian Ertz Avatar


    I’ll save you some frustration:

    The bear-spray/sidearm debate is an all encompassing, all consuming inevitability. There is no redirecting it, there is no avoiding it, there is no stopping it – with the possible exceptio
    of Ralph, Ken, and my commitment to collectively take a solumn oath never to post a story or commentary which includes the word ‘bear’ . Even then, that’s probably pretty optimistic.

    The key to transcendence of the bear-spray/sidearm controversy, the key to personal serenity while browsing these threads, is acceptance – acceptance of all of our utter powerlessness in it’s wake.

    You may have noticed that I’m not there yet … but it’s one day at a time. I just keep telling myself I have to take it one day at a time.

  114. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    DumOleBob, I’m all for getting back on topic. So why do you think they run sheep in Tosi Creek?

  115. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland


    I agree with you on long range shooting. But what used to be a long shot 20 years ago.. 300 yards and beyond, is now considered the norm. The gun I shoot, 300 RUM, drops only 5 inches at 380 yards. I killed my antelope in ID unit 42 at 375 yards. If there is not a drastic cross wind 300-400 yard shots are very ethical if someone has put the practice and know how into doing it. If someone just drives out and starts shootin deer at 400 yards with no idea what there bullet is doing at that distance is unethical. Also the vital on a big bull elk is usually about the size of 2 basketballs put together. Each hunter owes it to himself to find out what his effective range is.. to some its barely 100 yards to others its 6-700 yards

  116. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    brian–Sacred truth #1 for the bear spray cult is, carry bear spray and know how to use it. Did you notice that Mark Gamblin said the IDFG does not teach big-game hunters how to use bear spray in real world hunting situations? Conclusion: It’s not safe or practical to use bear spray when you’re carrying a rifle. Sacred truth #2 is, research and statistics prove that bear spray is more effective than a firearm. I said there’s no data on bear spray, and Mark didn’t object or provide data. So it sure looks like the bear spray cult is a phony religion based on falsehoods.

    Having said that, there is endless discussion about bear spray. How about this–I’ll withhold further comment until 1.) someone else on the board brings it up, 2.) someone posts an article in which a hunter is berated for using a firearm for self-defense rather than bear spray, or 3.) someone posts an article that mentions the sacred truths of the bear spray cult. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Research and statistics prove bear spray is more than a firearm for self defense from bears.

    On grizzly habitat issues, yearly reports from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team clearly show that bears are trying to expand their range SE of Yellowstone into Wyoming. Year after year, bears are uncommon SW of Yellowstone into Idaho. Bear-human conflicts are relatively rare in Yellowstone NP. One of the 3 major trouble spots is a few miles beyond the SE boundary of the Primary Conservation Area. Now that grizzlies are delisted, that’s the end population growth. Grizzlies are socially and politically unacceptable in the parts of Wyoming where the population was expanding. They’ll be shot back to the border of the PCA. In this area, bear-livestock conflicts are endless.

  117. Jay Avatar

    Josh, ballistics aside, do you think it’s fair chase to shoot an animal from 400 yards? Basically that animal is dead on its feet before it even hears the sound of the gunshot–I won’t judge those that are proficient with their rifle, but I’ve always felt obligated to get as close as possible to avoid any nasty surprises that result in a bullet in the gut, rather than through the lungs.

  118. DumOleBob Avatar

    Yo ProWolf! Good fer you, but I do apologize for being critical of those posting the “other” debate. They have a right to speak their minds – even if it bores me to death! The only saving grace is they seen very knowledgeable. The bottom line is I am not forced to read them so why don’t I shut up and go on with my life? I will!

    Why sheep in Tosi Creek, cattle in Grand Teton, etc. the only thing I can figure is they’ve been there for years. AND, the Feds don’t bother to try to entice the stockgrowers to go to other areas.

    Mostly, in Wyoming my guess is a great deal of the “suitable” grazing areas are now leased to mineral extractors. Why the mineral Ex boys & the grazing folks can’t live together I have no idea. Well, a guess is the minerals need super highway type roads upon which their huge trucks can drive at highway speed – and that won’t mix with cows & sheep?

    However, there a many regular posters here that know a bunch more than I so I hope we hear more from them.

  119. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Jay, I always try to get as close as possible, I would much rather have a 100 yard shot than a 400 yard shot. But 6-8 year old bull/bucks dont get that old without knowing how to play the game. Usually once the hunt starts those mature animals are very difficult to locate, let alone get a shot off. The tags that I apply for each year in many different states sometimes take as long as 10 years to draw, sometimes even longer, my mission companion just drew his Utah elk tag after 15 years of applying. The thing I want to avoid is having the bull/buck that I want at 400 yards on the last day of the hunt at dark and not be able to take the shot because I could not kill him ethically. An out of state hunt to CO for elk will cost you around $2500-4000 after all expenses so if the opportunity at a mature animals happens at 400 yards I want to be able to make the shot. And its fair chase, those big bucks and bulls dont cooperate at all, and most of them go nocturnal once pressure hits and then its even harder. If I was just trying to shoot the first buck I saw then there obviously would be no need to take a long shot. I hunt with a bow 90 percent of the time so my shots are usually fairly close, I only hunt with a rifle out of state.

  120. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Mark G.

    Those comments may be your own but either you are a hero worshipper of your political bosses or you check yourself all the time to make sure you don’t say anything to get you into this trouble. I also see nothing in your posts that might deviant in the slightest from company lines. I see you put forth an attitude of educating the public ….. where you never question the “facts” as presented by the G&F line. In short, you are a press agent in not so disguise.

    Lets look at the science you promote as fact. I’m sorry, but if you look back over any wildlife doctrine or management, even 25 years ago, you’d say,”How did they ever think that”. Facts change and just because the years go by doesn’t mean the new year has better facts. Nor does your present stay present. 25 years from now the new boys on the block will think you and your bosses were Simple Jacks.

    And to think those folks 25 years from now will justly think, “we know so much more now” is not necessarily so. If govt., science or mangement gets off on the wrong line of thought it can perpetuate itself for generations. Hitler’s Aryan concept is one example. Of course you think real science is never wrong.

    From my view, the only thing I think can be said about wildlife management today is there is more wildlife than there was in the early 1900’s. But that does not mean one iota that the environment is in better shape or there is anything sustainable ecologically going on in management…or science of these animals just because there are more animals out there.

    What would you think if I said there are more cows and pigs in this country today than in the early 1900’s. You, being with resource oriented back ground, would deduce the environment was worse off for this because pigs and cows damage more than sustain the environment.

    Well, what if todays “modern wildlife management science principles are based on pig farming practises…which I think they are. Your F&G doesn’t even know the basic structure of herds. Your managed herd (s) concepts you are so proud of are degrading animals to just multiples of individuals…or population densities….the same as pig farmers do.

    Until you know the science of the hunter – gatherers and think just maybe science isn’t necessarily a straight line gain of truth from past to present, then your management of wildlife is not in my opinion, I repeat not, sustainable. You are pig farmers and don’t even know it.

    Every year you set your seasons you guarentee more of inferior genetics in your herds at the end of that season…just like pigs are. These”managed” game animals you are so proud of are becoming a shell of themselves.

    The natural vegetation you see these animals eating is becoming more ecologically abused with each passing year. forget all those cows and sheep out there. When you take out all those males you deteriorate the landscape by not allowing coarser vegetation to be eaten. This means the cow-calf herd doesn’t have as much tender regrowth.

    The wolves you quote as over predating the elk herds…as stated as fact because science proves this …. might as well say when we place cripples in the middle of the highway their numbers are shown to decrease. Thus we need to manage the number of cars that are allowed on these highways.

    Your elk herds are dysfunctional, very disfunctional, and they are physically “challenged”. It is not fair to either the elk or the wolves for the “science” you put together to say what you do as fact.

    The reason these elk are the way they are is because of agencies like yours ….and you are an extension of that agency. Just because they can still run with their heads up and can bugle doesn’t mean “spirit” translates into vitality and wildness either. You could say the same with horses in a paddock. Do you want to manage these animals (horses) for a hunt the same way you do wolves? Maybe your agency ought to stick with pigs.

  121. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Great reply bobj, IDFG calls counting their pigs and estimation, they estimate 100,000+ elk in Idaho, problem is those of us spending winters traveling to well known winter ranges can not seem to find those 100,000+ elk.

    I want a recount. I live in the Sawtooth Zone, and I am here to tell you, as hunter, and horsemen who has put in the time in this zone, 30,000 plus miles and worn out two horses and working on ruining a third horse, elk hunting by humans in this zone should be closed, and 55 wolves removed.

    I hear from a reliable source the units 43-44-48-49 are also very short on elk, and hunting by humans should be closed.. Of course if I was Mark G and crew I would deny through my teeth to the truth about those estimations as well, the truth means more drop offs of tag sales for elk and deer.

    IDFG revenue was down 30% as of last February, Cal Groen’s own words, I was standing less than ten feet from him when he said it. IDFG sent out nice little letters to their list of non resident hunters attempting to intice them back for this season, I call that begging myself, and I don’t think their coming.

    I don’t blame them either, I live here and still have not made up my mind to purchase license or tags yet, probably will not, I really hate being lied to.

    Are pig farmers really this messed up to ?

    At least the pig farmers can count pigs in the pens right Bobj ?

    Or do they walk past the pens and guess ? 12345678930.

    I think IDFG could use some common sense and some eyeballs for starters, toss in a little integrity maybe.

    It really is not worth the effort to go hunt this country under this form of management, and if JB gets his/her way, I am certain I’ll never hunt again..EVER.

  122. JB Avatar

    “…if JB gets his/her way, I am certain I’ll never hunt again..EVER.”

    I’m sorry; apparently I missed something? From the very beginning I noted that I do not oppose hunting wolves and I think the wolf harvest objectives are reasonable. I also maintained that if IDF&G was serious about understanding wolf impacts it would have closed some areas/zones/regions to hunting while eliminating wolves in other areas. More importantly (from my perspective), if they were serious about constructing a wolf management plan that was broadly acceptable, they would’ve permanently closed some areas where wolves are more easily viewed (this would’ve gotten them more buy-in from nonconsumptive users, if nothing else).

    So tell me Stoner, how does this impact your ability to hunt elk in any meaningful way?

  123. I love wolves AND elk Avatar
    I love wolves AND elk

    RE: , talk of no elk in the hills

    I also live in the Sawtooth zone and feel there is a heavier impact of otfrom other hunters than wolves. Some days, the number of hunters has even drive me home to go out another day, when things will hopefully be more quiet. I also tend to see many, many cows and very few bulls. This includes hiking and skiing year round and watching the elk in the winter when all the animals are driven down to lower elevations. This seems to, again, point to the human hunting as taking a toll on populations.

    The other factor in elk populations, in the Payette drainage specifically, is the skeleton weed, knapweed, and toadflax that are marching up canyon at an alarming rate. Whole hillsides are covered with these noxious weeds and the infestation is decreasing native/nutritious vegetation and this will have a long term affect on carrying capacity of the area.

    When the IDFG spent LOTS of $ to collar and study the cow herds, they found 4% of deaths were from wolves. 3% were from hunting – even though most hunters don’t hunt cows as it is a muzzle loader tag in this area. That leaves a lot of other reasons for death – primarilly weather and forage resources.

  124. SR25Stoner Avatar


    It does not impact my ability at all to hunt elk, killing elk perhaps due to problems listed above in my last reply. Keeping your mindset in this capture of those departments built with funds of those you oppose you wish for might be fine, IF, your around to see to it remaining so, which is impossible. Once enough anti hunters are in, by by hunting.

    Several hunt units should be closed to elk and deer hunting now, but then that would be and admission of mismanagement of not just elk, deer, but also wolves.

    As far as easier viewing of wolves goes, you must mean a zoo scenario where their visible from the roads slaughtering their prey, good luck with that theory.

    You just had 15 years of exactly that which you request, all the non hunting wolf zones to your self, now you still have it, March 31 to September 1 annually in the Sawtooth Zone, and Lolo Zone, five months, the rest of the zones are October 1 to December 31, that gives you ten months of opportunity to photo wolves, if you can’t find them I suggest you hire and outfitter. Or bone up on your hunting with your camera skills.

    I personally have no troubles finding and viewing all the wolves I want. Often I catch them viewing me, I must be one real interesting fella, or their in love with that horse I ride.

    You want some real action then go hit bitch creek, west side of the Jedediah Smith, several nice trails there, sorry no car hoods allowed.

  125. Ed Darrell Avatar

    Did I miss later reports? How is the sheepherder doing?

  126. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There was a brief note I saw that he is recovering.

  127. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Maybe you missed my earlier story in the drop-off of out-of-state-hunters seeking elk tags.

    The jist of it was that if you spend eight years doing negative advertising that all the elk in the state are gone, you can expect that your advertising will begin to work.

    Now Idaho Fish and Game didn’t do that until 2 years ago, but I have posted stories of outfitters making that claim as far back as the year 2000.

  128. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Its hard to manage elk the way you want , considering you are the only individual that I know of that thinks of them like families and existing together like humans.. and wants them managed as such.. JMO How would you want a elk hunt to go Bob, just curious if it was up to you how would the ID elk hunts go???


  129. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I love wolves AND elk. Nice name. And people thought that was impossible.

  130. JB Avatar

    “Once enough anti hunters are in, by by hunting.”

    That’s the fallacy. Support for hunting in the U.S. is very strong, and has remained so for several decades. Expanding funding sources to include nonconsumptive users of wildlife has the ability to vastly improve state conservation efforts–from research to habitat protection to the population monitoring that you feel was so poorly done with elk in your area.

    For too many years public lands have been managed for the production of game and livestock. The complaining we hear is a result of these priorities. Many ranchers claim it is their “right” to graze on public lands, while many hunters seem to think the sole purpose of F&G agencies is to provide surplus wildlife for them to harvest.

  131. Cris Waller Avatar
    Cris Waller

    I just had a good laugh when I read Ralph’s link to the story on grizzlies in the river bottoms and noticed that comments on that story are turned off! Read the article and you’ll know why, after reading this thread :>)

    So does anyone know what happened to the grizzly involved in the sheepherder incident? Are they hunting it down, or will it be allowed to live? And did they just leave all the (*^*&% sheep up there?

  132. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Cris Waller–“I just had a good laugh when I read Ralph’s link to the story on grizzlies in the river bottoms and noticed that comments on that story are turned off!”

    Same tactic the Bush administration used whenever possible. Historically, it’s been a popular tactic with dictators all over the world. Maybe Idaho Gov. Butch Otter should have the same policy toward critics of his wolf policies.

  133. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I read your piece stating your position in New West, and I am going to post it. I don’t think that’s what a dictator would do. I think you stated your views very well.

    Folks can use that post to argue or discuss pepper spray and guns if they like.

    I turned of the comments on the grizzlies-along-the-streamside story because I don’t want every grizzly bear story turning into a debate over pepper spray.

    I thought there was a lot to discuss about the sheep and grizzly bear in the Tosi Creek story, and it got lost in the mist of pepper spray.

    I am not persecuting you. You are not about to handed over to Dick Cheney. In fact, I tend to agree with you.

  134. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    Good stuff, as usual, Mr. Jackson — nonetheless, I think it is important for people like Mr. Gamblin to continue to contribute to this site. Now Mr. Gamblin, what say you?

  135. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    bob jackson –

    I think I understand a conviction that your theories of wildlife sociology are not recognized by historic or contemporary wildlife science nor included in wildlife management programs. Respecfully and seriously – can you refer me to published work documenting these principles – peer reviewed or gray literature? How would you reform wildlife management to be compatible with your convictions?

  136. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    MG or others – You may have covered this before and if so I apologize for the repetition. If the “elk numbers in the Lolo and Sawtooth elk management zones are seriously depressed” is elk hunting currently prohibited in these regions? If not, why?

  137. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    RE Chismar –
    Elk production and recruitment are well below the levels current habitat conditions supported immediately before wolf re-introduction. That reduced production and recruitment of elk required the IDFG to significantly reduce elk hunting opportunity for bulls and cows in those two managment areas. The elk herds in those areas, while much reduced by wolf predation are not in danger of extirpation. It is not necessary to eliminate hunting at this time.

  138. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    Well how many elk can be taken via hunt in these zones? I’m no biologist or game mgmt. official but if you’re telling me (the public) that elk numbers are “seriously depressed” there should be no hunting until the numbers are not depressed at all. The suggestion that elk must be at “extirpation” levels in these zones to warrant the ban of hunting in these zones makes no sense to me. Restricting the hunting of elk in these areas until non-depressed numbers are reached hurts who if the aim is to mange wildlife so that healthy populations exist?

  139. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Josh & Mark,

    I am on a meat run out West and won’t have time to respond for another 4-5 days. Basically the method of ecological “harvesting” is the same as if one was hunting indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes. Figure out how to do that and allow for still functional infrastructure and you have the answers.

  140. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Mark, when you mention the number of elk that the areas could support prior to wolf reintroduction, was that assuming a surplus of elk that existed? Was that area ever overpopulated like Yellowstone was?

  141. Cris Waller Avatar
    Cris Waller

    “Restricting the hunting of elk in these areas until non-depressed numbers are reached hurts who if the aim is to mange wildlife so that healthy populations exist?”

    The aim isn’t providing healthy populations in balance with their environment and with wolves, cougars and other predators. The aim is providing the maximum possible amount of targets for hunters. So, if the elk are scarcer than the hunters would like, the solution- kill the wolves and the cougars. But don’t you dare tell the hunters “no”!

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. One of the things that I find so incredibly disingenuous about many people who argue for sport hunting is that they claim ungulates “need to be harvested because they will overpopulate.” Yet, even in situations like this arise where the elk most certainly don’t “need to be hunted for their own good,” the desires of human hunters are given priority over wolves and cougars in the name of the almighty “harvestable surplus.”

    Mark- this is a prime example of what I talked about elsewhere- that all wildlife management involves decisions made on feelings and emotions and not purely on science. There are certainly no scientific reasons not so leave the wolves and cougars alone and say “Sorry hunters, hunt elsewhere!” But, of course, that would cause a political firestorm, so it’s just a pipe dream.

  142. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    The aim isn’t providing healthy populations in balance with their environment and with wolves, cougars and other predators. The aim is providing the maximum possible amount of targets for hunters. So, if the elk are scarcer than the hunters would like, the solution- kill the wolves and the cougars. But don’t you dare tell the hunters “no”!

    The worst example of this is Alaska.

  143. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Thanks Ralph for letting this thread go on so long. I just read a large part of it and there are some useful posts here. In tracking there is a mental problem that becomes apparent in looking at something too intensely and that is called “locked in vision” or looking at something so intently that you miss everything else in your field of vision. Your chances of learning anything new becomes impossible as long as you are locked in on one facet of the view . . say a speck of white. While you are staring at it a tree could fall on you that you should have noticed was leaning dangerously. Being mentally healthy includes the ability to learn and when you have lost that . . . well it doesn’t matter.
    The pepper spray debate which comes up like that white speck needs to be unlocked someway. We all can learn something from this. I have been trying to figure out what it was that happened to lock dave smith in on his pepper spray cult . . Dave if you are reading this, I mean no disrespect but what is it exactly you want?

    One other note: SR25stoner. . getting pepper spray on yourself is a temporary disablement as the stuff is made not to do permanent damage to you or animal. You can still function because a human knows this is temporary where as the bear who is sprayed does not. I had a pepper spray can explode in my car in the heat (my fault). I was still able to function and I can’t think of a more intense way to get pepper spray on you.

    One more note: Bob Jackson your description of animal family structures and the role they should play in animal management reminds me of the ground breaking observations made by Leopold , which were largely ignored, about the need for predators in an environment. Just because there isn’t science yet on this issue doesn’t mean it is not true. I applaud you for bringing this up and I hope that there are people who read these blogs who will take notice of this and think it is an opportunity to learn. There is nothing more damaging to our well being on earth than to do things the way we have always done them just because.

  144. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    RE Chizmar, ProWolf, Chris Waller, Linda Hunter –
    Management – for the benfit of humans is a common theme in our discussion. My comments are based on the principle that all conservation laws, policies, programs including hunting, wilderness, ESA ….. are strictures of human society – for the benefit of human society. Each one of those objectives, wild areas with vigorous healthy ecosystems, clean water and air, productive wildlife populations for viewing, hunting or simply knowing they exist – exist only because we humans decide those objectives are in our best interest. With that foundation, we are discussing which among those societal benefits should land and wildlife managers emphasize? Hunting has and continues to be one very important societal benefit among many of our wildlife resources. The number of elk that can/could be taken from the Lolo Zone e.g. varies, given current habitat productive potential, predation, winter severity, etc. Wolf predation has reduced elk production and recruitment well below levels we enjoyed prior to wolf re-introduction. The Idaho wolf management plan has objectives to balance wolf numbers and elk numbers to optimize the benefits of both species to society.
    The concept of balance is probably worth exploring in more detail to be sure we understand each other. In popular parlance “balance of/in nature” is a misnomer in conventional ecological theory- as it has been commonly used, historically and in this blog. In the sense that there is some “golden mean” or equilibrium that human interference is preventing in nature – that doesn’t now has never existed. Nature, ecological systems, are messy, dynamic and chaotic by their nature. I believe that reality also makes it obvious why we need a common understanding that every debate about conservation is relevant only because it is important to we humans. Hunting, supported by harvestable surplus, wildlife viewing, managing wildlife numbers to assure harvests of crops or livestock are all legitimate human objectives. HOW those desires are accomodated in resource management is the challenge. Chris – science is a tool for achieving those human objectives, not an objective to itself, so I agree with you completely. My comment on emotions in a subsequent thread was too general. I agree with you here. Emotions unavoidably influence the human desires that determine wildlife management objectives.
    ProWolf – to my knowldege there was no over-population of elk after the great fires of the early 20th century and the return of wolves to Idaho. We did not experience the effects of elk on riparian habitat for example. YNP was a distictly different dynamic than Idaho if for no other reason that the continued presence of humans as a top predator. Human predation was removed from the YNP ecosystem once Park policies solidified. That alone – has a profound impact on the ecosystem, since humans had been an integral part of that ecosystem for thousands of years.

  145. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Mark Gamlin,

    Above, regarding the great fires of the early 20th Century in Idaho and the elk population.

    At the time the number of elk was very low in Idaho because of market hunting and a minimal Dept. of Fish and Game. When were the first efforts at game management in Idaho anyway?

    Most of the elk in Idaho were built from transplants from Yellowstone, as were many other states. The fires eventually created great habitat, but this would not have happened with augmenting the the base of elk.

  146. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Ralph –
    I have the same understanding – that elk were transplanted (I don’t know that elk were ever extirpated from those areas) to those areas after the fires and subsequent habitat shift. Market and subsistence hunting did have an impact on deer, elk and other large ungulates prior to effective fish and game laws, regulations and enforcement. I will do some research and get back with more specific information if someone else doesn’t first.
    Before the fires, elk production was greatly limited by the then un-productive, natural habitat – climax forests of white pine. Gifford Pinchot lamented those great fires as an avoidable loss of a priceless national resource – the greatest (at that time) stands of white pine in the U.S. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan white pine forests had by that time been mined out by commercial harvest. The landscape in those states is remarkable different now than before the peak logging era. Remember Lewis and Clark’s observations of few elk and their close brush with starvation in much of the same country.

  147. JB Avatar

    Mark, Ralph:

    Things brings up a really interesting debate regarding what is “natural” in the North American landscape. Archeological and anthropological evidence suggests that Native Americans arrived earlier and had a much more dramatic effect on the Americas than once believed. However, after early contact with Europeans, Native populations were decimated by disease; some estimates suggest more than 90% died! By the time Lewis and Clark began their historic trek in the early 19th century, the native populations in the Americas were much depleted, to the point where the “balance” of flora and fauna was fundamentally changed. The changes were even more dramatic a half century later when romantic painters (Church, Bierstadt) came on the scene.

    The dramatic reduction in Native populations and their management of the landscape and wildlife has led some people to refer to our romanticized, pre-Colombian ideal of North America as “the Pristine Myth”. Denevan, a Geographer, has a wonderful paper on the topic that was published in the early 1990s (can’t find the citation).

  148. mikarooni Avatar

    I’ve dealt with my fill of sheepherders in my life and, frankly, if I had the capability, there are several that I’d of loved to maul myself. After some encounters, I’ve wanted to kill their little dogs too. Cattlemen sure aren’t perfect; but, sheepherders are downright disgusting.

  149. John d. Avatar
    John d.


    What humans want and what the environment needs are two very different things. So wolves have dropped the population of elk, below what people ‘enjoyed’ before reintroduction? Good. That means the wolves are doing what they were intended to do.

    The purpose of wolf reintroduction was to lower the ungulate numbers to a healthy level, not because society necessarily believed the ecosystem required wolves (i.e. classifying the species as “non-essential” “experimental” and protests against the reintroduction over concerns over losing the state’s heritage) but because the ecosystem -needed- the top predator back in the food chain. Grey wolves have done their intended job remarkably well, where humans could not even dream of achieving, or rather were happy with the additional numbers of herbivores caring not for the fact that the revered elk population was forcing out other wildlife. Now that the surplus is all but gone there’s this so-called ‘need’ to ‘manage’ (kill) wolves, when there is no biological emergency or ecological justification. Its just to keep ‘society’ happy that there can be an easy hunt of more valued prey.

    If the “society” puts the cart before the horse, in other words: puts themselves before the natural balance – it does not make for a pretty picture, both for the environment and for the reputation of a state/country.

  150. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    All euphemisms aside about managing each blade of grass for the benefit of humans, please address my questions:
    1. Why is it necessary to try to find loopholes in the Wilderness Act so that aircraft can enter, be used to dart, land and collar wolves within designated wilderness areas.
    2. Does the state of Idaho do that with any other animal within those designated areas.(use aircraft).
    3. If the wolf kill season(s) are based on careful consideration of all factors, please tell us what were the predominate ones (specifically, not euphemistically) that nesseciated the 5 wolf limit in all of southern Idaho south of the Snake.
    6. What is the population of wolves south of the Snake.
    7. what will be the states preferred kill method be to reduce the wolf population to whatever number is deemed acceptable. (not including the current season.)

  151. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I am somewhat familiar with the huge North American die-off hypothesis.

    Clearly the human populations declined because of new diseases, probably more in some places than others, and to a degree we don’t really know.

    People have drawn different conclusions from this sketchy knowledge. For example, Charles Kay at Utah State University used the native overpopulation hypothesis to suggest there were too many elk in Yellowstone (at least until wolves were introduced and it was clear there would never be a rifle hunt in the Park). He argued that elk had been rare because of high native human population.

    My view is that emerging diseases likely reduced the population in North America a number of times as they did in Europe and in Asia over the millenia. During those times wild animals increased.

    This will probably happen again with all the emerging diseases whose spread is facilitated by efficient transportation.

    Speaking philosophically, it seems that each time wildlife recover from human abundance there are fewer species.

    What kind of animal are we then? Has there ever been one so harmful to other large animals?

  152. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    “there is a mental problem that becomes apparent in looking at something too intensely and that is called “locked in vision” or looking at something so intently that you miss everything else in your field of vision. Your chances of learning anything new becomes impossible as long as you are locked in on one facet of the view . . say a speck of white. While you are staring at it a tree could fall on you that you should have noticed was leaning dangerously. Being mentally healthy includes the ability to learn and when you have lost that . . . well it doesn’t matter.
    The pepper spray debate which comes up like that white speck needs to be unlocked someway. We all can learn something from this. I have been trying to figure out what it was that happened to lock in . . .” Linda Hunter

    the bear spray cult’s unrealistic notion that bear spray is an alternative to a firearm for big-game hunters who get charged after a surprise encounter with a nearby grizzly?

    From 1980 to 2002, less than 20% of all Yellowstone grizzly mortality was related to big game hunters with no alternative but to shoot, yet the bear spray cult ignores the other 80 percent of grizzly bear mortality. If that ain’t focusing on the white speck, what is?

  153. Linda Hunter Avatar

    OK Dave that point is clear. Now, lets take our eyes off the white speck and focus on the prevention of having to use either bear spray OR a gun that both the bear spray and gun cults think they need. What percentage of big game hunters can avoid a surprise encounter of the type which gives a grizzly bear no alternative but to charge. The pepper spray debate has effectively blanked out all discussions of ways to avoid charges altogether when, after living in close proximity to bears myself, I think there are ways for even big game hunters to minimized these lethal encounters. In both cases with either “weapon” firing the weapon has a time and place. In all the close encounters I have had with bears on many an overgrown trail I have not had to fire any weapon of any kind. Mainly because I knew the bear was there (tracking) and because I did not confront it. Why can’t highly skilled big game hunters avoid pissing off bears. . or do they just shoot when they see one? I know that there are people who shoot pepper spray when they just see a bear . . do hunters do that too?

  154. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Linda–I think hunters and hikers both have the same problem one and a billion trackers like yourself can’t seem to appreciate: they have what what biologist Steve Herrero and others refer to as surprise encounters with grizzlies. They startle nearby bears.

    Hikers and hunters don’t follow fresh size 10 bear bear tracks in falling snow, then walk up on a bear and say, “well, I’ll be darn. A bear made these tracks.” They never cut any tracks in the 1st place.

    The fact that you single out hunters for not having your magical ability to “track” bears whose tracks they haven’t seen suggests an anti-hunting bias. Shouldn’t hikers be able to track bears whose tracks they haven’t seen?

  155. JB Avatar

    Dave says: “The fact that you single out hunters for not having your magical ability to “track” bears whose tracks they haven’t seen suggests an anti-hunting bias.”

    But Linda says: “I know that there are people who shoot pepper spray when they just see a bear . . do hunters do that too?”

    And Charlie Brown would reply: “Good grief.”

  156. JB Avatar

    Dave Smith has provided irrefutable evidence that the anti-hunting bear spray cult, scientists, and the USFWS’s own grizzly bear recovery coordinator, Chris Servheen are engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to extract money from tax-payers while ending all hunting and killing off the last remaining grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Together, these three entities form an “axis of evil” that threatens conservation as we know it. We MUST all work together to put an end to this evil conspiracy so that grizzly bears, big game hunters, and scientists can once again live in harmony. 😉

    There, now that I’ve said “uncle” can we talk about something else?

  157. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    JB–Sure, Judge Malloy chastised Servheen and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for ignoring science, research, and data. Can you explain why it was dishonest for Servheen and Co. to rely on data about grizzly occupancy of bmu’s (bear management units) from 1998-2000 to justify delisting grizzlies?

  158. JB Avatar


    Since you are never wrong regarding grizzly bears, I’ve decided it would be more expedient to rely solely upon your advice for all policy concerns related to the species. Preach on!

  159. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    According to Fish & Wildlife Service documents, there are only 2 active sheep grazing allotments in the way-too-small “primary conservation area” (PCA) that would be allocated to grizzlies after delisting. Outside the PCA, grizzlies would be slaughtered where they are not “socially acceptable.”

    Fed plans are not that blunt about the truth, but that’s the truth. Of course fed planning documents don’t tell the public how many sheep grazing allotments there are in occupied grizzly habitat found outside the PCA. Why bother? The propaganda program has folks fixed on one silly non-issue: hunters should be required to “carry … and know how to use it.”

  160. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Every species has built in capability to maximize its chances in survival of itself. This means it has the inherent capacity of controlling its own numbers to a sustainable level and also to reproduce rapidly if needed when evoutionary alarms are set off.

    This same species evolutionary ability is what allows farmers to produce lots of pigs, sheep or cattle. Make the animal as dysfunctional as possible and the species panics and produces as many offspring as it can. It is the lowest level of evolutionary survival by that species. The same method of “management” by state G&F agencies like the one you belong to occurs. Thus your “managed” hunters are hunting the same lowest level of animal (elk) as a farmer does when he is “harvesting’ his pigs.

    You take out all infrastructure of these animals by setting seasons the way you do and they then reproduce to counter this lack of species ability to survive and flourish longterm. Thus you count animals as population densities and multiples of one.

    What you do with your elk and other hunted species is similiar to what Wal Mart does to get plants to flower. The plants are purposely stressed and then the plant reacts to possible death by making sure its last bit of energy goes into reproducing itself. Yes, you get numbers of animals that replenishes itself for next years hunt but they are only a shell of themselves genetically or ecologically sustainably. If you only knew this to be so, if you only humbled yourselves to say what kind od domestic agriculture you were involved in this would at least be calling a spade a spade. As a dept. you could easily qualify for the TV show about America’s dirtyest and ugliest jobs. But no, you elevate yourself, being a parasite of recognition to the animals that you and all the hunters want to be. I saw it so much in Yellowstone where rangers used the adulation of an uneducated public for a false sense of who they themselves were. But in this case you go beyound this to use the spirit and vitality of an animal to rub shoulders with it it a very explotive way.

    I’d have to say that I will have to categorize you and your state management (the “greater we” as the dude said in the Big Lewboski) as being at an even lower level than pig farmers. At least they know how they are screwing up a species. G&F depts. and their “science” don’t.

    You keep thinking “science” gives you facts and thus group all science as one to validate your management decisions. There is the science of application and then there is “hard” science. Applied science can actually get further and further away from fact. This is what has happened to modern game management. You don’t know how to seperate the two sciences when you base your seasons as justified by “science”. The reason you do not seperate the two is because you then would have to question your applied science origins…..and yourself. Without using this crutch you do not have the assertiveness to do what you do to these animals in the name of management. To put it bluntly, you lie to yourselves.

    Hard science can say the numbers of elk are less, in the areas you cite, since wolves were reintroduced. Fine. But then you use the ignorance superiority instills to set management goals. What is worse is you are the ones who caused the loss of protective infrastructure in these elk herds by taking out all of those families males….males who would have formed the deflective and warning perimeter system to the matriarchal components of those families.

    G&F ineptness is causing you to maintain the elk you “manage” at very vulnerable conditions…no different than what those pigs are left with being defenseless inside those confinement buildings.

    As I said at first, your elk can manage themselves as an ecological sustainable species without your help, “thank you maam”. But without social infrastructure in place they have not one, but both arms tied behind their backs.

    With family infrastructure in place and the niche is full the members not fitting in are pushed to the outside. They will die whether there are wolves there to eat these vulnerable ones or not.

    On the other hand herds with space available to expand will place the weak and old in the center of the family to better protect. This is why one sees wolves trying to bust into some of the herds to sort out those weak and old. Native peoples extended families did the same thing to maintain viable populations.

    I know of no ungulate biologists who even think of trying to consider the condition of a herd by seeing if the unhealthy members are in the center or if they are on the perimeter. Of course if your human hunted herds are so dysfunctional it is a refuge camp situation…which it is….then it is every man for oneself and a biolgist need not even look for this easy to see indicator of herd health.

    You ask to show the “science” of what I say, Mark. I already said in an earlier post, what I say is the science of hunter-gatherer indigenous peoples. They did not write papers but the info they told those who did recorded as anthropologists and historians. Knowledge of extended family infrastructure is also how the White buffalo hunters were able to make a stand. They write of shooting the grandmothers, mothers and aunts firs to get the dependents to stay put.

    Proof is early painters, such as Catlins works. Look to see how the herds are seperated into smaller components. These are the matriarchal components. One also sees the bull groups in those paintings as flankers.

    Archeologists recorded it in the compositions of buffalo that went over a buffalo jump at one time.

    The same hunting methods were used by indegenous peoples with elk as the buffalo. The same surrounds, the same understanding of families in these herds to dictate hunting of whole familes. Doesn’t that give you a clue as to how herd animal infrastructure was made up in thesae animals, Mark?

    The problem you Idaho G&F folks have…as well all G&F agencies and biologists all over the world is a superior mentality over animals. Thus your applied science gets thrown in with a very prejudiced view to go with one of factual hard science to give an impression of fact when there is none.

    Your talk of harvesting “surplus” animals has the same Aryan attitude as “surplus” humans to me. Do you really think we should as game managers think in terms such as this? No. But to not think we aqre of the same cloth, animals and humans as animals means the greater you will forever manage for symptoms,…. such as your justification for killing wolves because they decimated your elk herds.

    This response is too long so I will refrain from how to “set” seasons in this post, as Josh asked for, but I will end with a note on a presentation I was flown out to give to about 40 or 50 Masters and PHD’s at a major western university Forest and Wildlife department. After several hours of power point interjected with lots of questions one of the principles finally said, “Yes, we can see it, but what the hell do we ever do with this information?”

  161. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    Mr. Jackson, does the existing “Yellowstone laboratory” provide support for what you’ve been arguing? In light of the hunting ban plus wolf introduction, has there been some kind of return to the natural, family infrastrucure and protections?

  162. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    There were two elk herds in my patrol area of Yellowstone that had functional male components. By far the best infrastructure..and thus the easiest to see male role behaviors… was the year long resident 300 head herd of the delta region of Yellowstone Lakes SE arm.

    The second was the Two Ocean herd below the SE arm. The later migrate out to the Elk Refuge but the males have learned to run the 50 or so mile gaunlet of firearms at night. This herd has become more dysfunctional with the advent of more cow tags in the last 15 or so years.

    The Delta herd has stayed pretty consistent with numbers before and after the wolf reintroduction from what I can see. This is the herd, I feel, that best represents natural systems of elk herd animals and all their roles. One of my cabins was right in their fall occupation. Plus I did a fair amount of poacher patrol and stakeout on upper Beaverdam ck. which is a fair amount of their summer range.

    This herd can stay in narrow closed side valleys in the summer whereas dysfunctional herds were pushed out of similar “boxed in areas after the reintroduction of wolves. The type of trails they use are different also. Males and groups of males of different ages are always on the flanks and at the bottoms and upper ends of valleys during summertime occupancy.

    This herd does have some poaching of the largest royal bulls, especially in the last 20 years of my patrol. The poachers take the heads out via the lake by boat. Loading is at night with horses. Before this poaching the herd would not run upon my riding by on the trails. Now they run if one gets within 400 yards. I came close but never had the time to catch these Park interior “Delta Boys” as we called them.

    Their role infastructure was still intact however.

    It is the only herd I know of in the Park… of this extended family size….that does not go out of the Park on occassion (ie the Northern Range herd)….or isn’t influenced negatively by neighboring dysfunctional herds. I’d say this herd has ancestoral learning that goes back thousands of years.

  163. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    The family structure theory and dynamic for elk and the detrimental affect upon same by trophy hunting seems reasonable to me (or maybe I have some subconscious or even overt wish to attribute “human” nature/emotion on these magnificent ungulates) — apparently wolves and many African animals seem to exhibit same. MG asks for “published work documenting these principles – peer reviewed or gray literature” — and I guess my response in deference to you would be is there “any published work disproving these principles – peer reviewed or gray literature?” It seems hard to believe that someone hasn’t studied these dynamics. Again, I’m no scientist.

  164. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Proving a negative hypothesis is, quite frankly, difficult bordering on the absurd, as any scientist or student of scientific method, or lawyer will tell you. (Example: My challenge to you, is to prove I am not from outer space.)

    Bob Jackson,

    While I personally find your theories fascinating, I have posed them to several main stream biologists as I promised I would in an earlier comment. At least three have read several of the threads here on which you discuss them, including one who is a 35 year National Park elk biologist. None will, as of the date of this writing, join you in your views, although they also find your observations somewhat…. interesting.

    I find the last sentence of your earlier post the most poigniant “… but what the hell do we do with this information.”

    I am interested in the set seasons for elk harvest which you promised Josh, so whenever you are ready…….

    Sorry for diverting from the topic Ralph, but it was going this direction anyway.

  165. Leslie Avatar

    Bob, thank you for this discussion of a very interesting and enlightened approach. You know a lot about elk, and I don’t, but intuitively it sounds so right.

    Recently I was in some Parks in Australia. They are learning that the aborigines know how to land manage better than any of the whites. Biologists and Aborigines are co-managing many of their Parks now. In fact, many of the largest Parks have been given back to the original Aborigine tribe, then the tribe usually leases the land back to the Australian govt. for day-to-day management. The Park Mgmt. Boards are made up of Aborigines and Aussies, with most of the meetings conducted in the native language. It became clearer and clearer to Biologists and Anthropologists over these last 20 years that the Aborigines had been successfully managing their Lands for over 50,000 years. It only took the whites about 150 to screw it up.

    As far as Bears, wolves, and sheep or cattle…my brother-in-law was in Africa recently and showed me some photos of how the Masai traditionally protect their cattle from lion depredations (WOW, that sounds worst than wolves or bears to me!). What they do, besides, of course, stay with their cattle during the day, is at night they bring them into their villages. The huts in the village are arranged in a circle and they put the cattle in the middle of this circle, while they sleep. Any commotion would immediately be heard by the villagers.

  166. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Wilderness, Chiz, I feel, was very logical and deductive in his noting there was no data showing there is no social order etc. The reason your logic doesn’t stand up as far as “negative hypothesis’ is that depending on the initial issuance for or against there is always an opposite. In other words someone can get on a high horse and say their studies show there is no social order. Then someone says “I see no studies disproving what you say”.

    There is a negative to any positive and if there hasn’t been any studies saying there isn’t then it means it has just always been accepted in science circles as fact. Kind of like the world was considered flat by all scientists until “field studies” showed otherwise. Those previously saying the world was flat still had the right to prove it was so …thus scientists today have the ability to disprove me. If there are no studies showing lack of social order (there actually are studies showing social order in deer etc…..but none of those biologists know what importance this is for species and ecological sustainability) tjhen they are basing refutation of what I say purely on persumption and bias against someone outside their “inner circle”.

    In actuallity this is how it works when an “outsider” or “anecdotal information”…as scientists call it… is handled to keep all knowledge in house. You get someone outside recognized channels saying and proving something, then academia says no, but then behind the scenes rework it so they then claim it as their “discovery”.

    It has already been done in my case in several half million dollar grant proposals. But since they don’t have the foggiest of what they are proposing…and they can’t ask me to assist them beyound the initial basics lest they have to share in this “discovery”, they don’t get the propsals benefits right…. and they aren’t able to design the study to show what is out there. They end up with a smaller funded study and then start fabricating the subject characteristics.

    For example, “they” did a study on one of Ted turners ranches. I had originally presented to this ranch manager and showed what Yellowstones herd and mine were made up of. I let him know the ecological and economic potentials for converting Turners herds to one of natures social order. Then I got ahold of the academics to follow up on his interests. the problem was funding was secured based on a study of social order where there was none. ….I wanted studies but not where they jumped into something not there. My hesitancies to them of there being no social order in this herd…but a study of length showing how grazing utilization etc. of lands etc. by developing herds (12-15 years to get all the roles in place) could make it a viable research project.

    I was not asked of again. Next thing I knew a guy was going for a PHD based on social order in bison on this ranch. They were saying…with the ranch managers blessing… that he had this “herd he had always kept off to the side” that had ten years of development and the calves had never been weaned.

    It all was a crock of S…t!!! and I told them so when i found out what they were validating their study with. There was no secret herd and all calves had been weaned all Turners bison had been to that date of my first talking to this manager. I’m sure the thesis will be altered a bit now to allow for “more detailed studies later”.

    Wilderness, it is very logical to me that your 35 year elk biologist can’t share YET TO THIS IDEA BUT FINDS IT FASCINATING. This is the exact lingo used to “reinvent” it in networked circles. He may be too old to ‘discover” it himself, but his idolizing younger bull group will be the chosen recipents.

    If your friend or biologists aquiantances really did find knowledge as more important than standings in the peer community they would be getting ahold of me. Since they are not both you and I have the answers to what is most important to them.

    In the end, what any “scientific” opportunist studies without real understanding …when it comes to applied science… will turn out to be BAD Science…and bad science is worse than no science.

    When I get back to Iowa from this meat run I will go more into “setting seasons”.

  167. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Here is a news story about one study of cougars that supports the idea of functional family units.

  168. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Well, I am back from my trip so……with some thought I think it might best for all interested to write what YOU think is the best way to set hunting seasons if there is social infrastructure in elk herds to be considered.

    You just might be able to think more logical and expert than you knew you had it in you. Josh can draw on his Mormon family emphasis, Ralph can expand on his thoughts of believing herd animal structure is “somewhere in between humans and no structure”, Wilderness can draw on his biologist aquaintances and cautious openness, the “girls” on their mothering instincts and Mark G can send this request all through regional Idaho Game and Fish offices. Ken might be a bit handicapped with his belief in herd structure minus males, but all in all everyone might just come out closer to the “management truth” than they thought possible.

    Anybody else want to join in? Corporate types can draw on a mirror image of how their company works. All they have to do is keep the headquarters off limits from hunting. Don’t want to set seasons where we mix up infrastructure and product do we? Of course there is always some deadwood or folks who need hatcheting in the home office, but we know where these folks get pushed….. to the basement or closets without windows. Thus these can be cross referrenced in knowing how to harvest these misfit types in a ecological hunting season.

    A tip for all……interactive recognition pretty much maxs out at 300 in favorable habitat (less in stark landscapes)…whether it is elk, humans, elephants, chimps, or partridges in a pear tree. Thus, after this number and its associated matriarchal power groups (60-70 in number and the “home office”), spin off satellite groups (15-40 in number) and bull groups of various ages (half the number of female matriarchal components because their natural mortality is higher)…we have territorial division among the different extended family units.

    Since Mark G feels a calling for educating the peasants of this blog he should have no problem being a student for once…because he, like all of us, thinks knowledge is so important.

    The quiz involves two scenarios; First one, you come upon a magical, mystery plain, one sort of like how Catlin painted. There has been no human predation ever. Now how do we keep it that way, a fully functioning ecosystem…and we now have all kinds of folks now wanting to KILLL!! How do we set the elk season?

    Second, we have a situation like Mark explains where wolves in Idaho have decimated the elk herds in two areas. With a common knowledge these are very disfunctional herds (abused with emphasis if it were human herds) how do we set a season where the blood suckers are satisfied but at the same time elk, wolf and ecological infrastructure is being restored?

    As I said in an earlier post maybe a look at harvesting human hunter- gatherer segments within functional infrastructures might be helpful….

    And I promise not to ridicule or debase, Mark. Really I won’t.

  169. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    To my earlier “quiz” scenario I stated this Catlin like landscape would be devoid of human hunting. I did this so those answering would not be distracted by too close at home conditions. In actuality, man in the form of indigenous hunter-gatherers hunted the same way needed to maintain herd order in its prey.

  170. John Braack Avatar
    John Braack

    Tell the owner of the sheep that I will come herd her flock. I have tried to get work as a sheepherdwer for the last 3 years since I lost my home and family. Please forward this message to any rancher that might be looking
    Thanks John


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Ken Cole