Montana does not want wolves to be relisted

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has filed its brief in the wolf delisting lawsuit arguing that wolves should not be relisted under the Endangered Species Act.

Two stories:
FWP files brief against relisting wolves
Billings Gazette

State FWP to Molloy: Wolves are recovered, should be delisted

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

134 Responses to FWP files brief against relisting wolves

  1. Talks with Bears says:

    What a perfect example of why people are fed up with this situation. The original agreement 300 wolves – now there are 1600 and the Federal government still allows prowolf groups to sue. And the states are not allowed to manage wildlife in their states forced on them by the Federal government. If the judge involved had any sense he/she would enforce the original agreement.

  2. Mike says:

    You really hate predators, don’t you Talks With Bears?

    How was this native wildlife “forced” on people?

  3. Jeff says:

    Talks With Bears-You are cherry picking only one part of a three piece set of criteria for delisting.

  4. Ken Cole says:

    Talks with Bears,

    Your notion of an “agreement” has be debunked ad nauseam here over the years. Are you that ignorant? Read the ESA and the original recovery plan and you will see that there were several other requirements for delisting and that delisting also has to be based on the best available science.

  5. Redbeard says:

    I’ve only ever had 1 dog. He’s a good dog. Occasionally he likes to eat things I don’t want him to. Trouble is… if I swat him in the nose with a newspaper even just 5 minutes after the event, he has NO idea what I’m on about. But if I get him in the act…. once is enough to teach him not to do it again.

    Maybe the analogy doesn’t quite fit, but it would seem to me to be a valid argument against helicopter shooting of wolves for “reducing” numbers. The remainders of the pack won’t learn any lessons for the future if they can’t link the penalty with the infraction.

  6. josh sutherland says:

    “Science” is only “Science” when it agrees with your point of view…. And that is true of both sides.

  7. Talks with Bears says:

    Ken – I do not have time to read years worth of legal briefs and opinions of judges and lawyers so, certainly I am ignorant to many aspects of this issue. Therefore, your question is “that” or how ignorant I am. So please indulge me. Has the bar not been moved many times in this process? Most likely under the name of someones “best available science”? Ken I have not been on this site for years (3 months more or less)- so, clearly I am ignorant of previous topics discussed here ad nauseam. It appears I am not alone in being fed up with this situation. Did you read the brief just filed by the State of Montana?

  8. Talks with Bears says:

    Mike – unlike you, I value all wildlife. Oh, and humans also.

  9. Talks with Bears says:

    Jeff – cherry picking, kinda like a prowolf lawyer might do?

  10. Ken Cole says:

    Talks with Bears,

    I’m sure that you are capable of reading the ESA and the recovery plan. I think the reason that “people are fed up” is that they have been constantly told by people who opposed wolf recovery, and to some degree the media, that there was some kind of deal which said that wolves would be delisted once there were 300 wolves in the three states.

    Again, for those who don’t know or understand what the recovery plan called for here are 3 of the fundamental requirements that had to be achieved before delisting could occur.

    1) A MINIMUM of 10 breeding pairs in each recovery zone for 3 consecutive years. ACHIEVED

    2) Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming approve wolf management plans that are acceptable to the USFWS. NOT ACHIEVED

    Wyoming’s plan has not been accepted.

    3) Wolf metapopulations, NW Montana, Central Idaho, and Greater Yellowstone, and Canada would be able to interact with each other. Partially ACHIEVED.

    There is no hard evidence that wolves from Central Idaho or NW Montana have successfully contributed to the diversity of the Greater Yellowstone population. There have been wolves documented to have left the Yellowstone population into Idaho and the three other populations have frequently contributed to each other. There have been a few wolves that have dispersed from Canada into areas of Idaho and NW Montana.

    Furthermore, the State’s management plans would not continue this condition especially if it isn’t happening now.

    To delist wolves without having all of those conditions being met is arbitrary and capricious.

    There was no deal to delist when only one of those conditions had been met. It is an oversimplification to say otherwise.

  11. william huard says:

    ken- your explanation sums it up pretty well. Just to add, supporters of wolf relisting contend that the delisting is bogus because you can’t delist one population without delisting all the populations in the Rocky Mountain region.

  12. Talks with Bears says:

    Ken – I mean no disrespect to you however, your summation is exactly why people are so frustrated – all about wolves and not about wildlife or the human/wildlife interface. Lawyers, judges and politicians controlling wildlife (not managing) – no wonder it is a mess.

  13. Alan says:

    “Lawyers, judges and politicians controlling wildlife (not managing) – no wonder it is a mess.”
    Don’t you mean: “Lawyers, judges and politicians PROTECTING wildlife (not KILLING) – no wonder it is a mess.”?
    Actually there has always been plenty of “managing”. Over 1,000 wolves have been “managed” right out of existence since re-introduction, mostly for killing a few sheep or a calf or two, and at great taxpayer expense. Often when the livestock killed could have been replaced ten times over at less cost, and were replaced animal for animal by DOW. Anyone who says that wolves have not been “managed” since day one of the re-introduction is either flat our lying or has not been paying attention.
    The thing that is so troubling to me about hunting wolves (other than disruption of packs possibly leading to more, not less, depredation) is that these “management” activities will continue in the front country (and some back country), while hunting is occuring in the back country. If WS is killing so called “bad” wolves and hunters are killing “good” wolves, where are wolves to live? How will they disperse, survive and fullfill number three on the list above?
    BTW, Redbeard, your analogy fits perfectly IMO.

  14. william huard says:

    That’s the point Alan- hunters and ranchers don’t want wolves to live. Hunter’s want the elk for themselves- and how dare you ask a rancher to take responsibility for their property? Those darn wolves acting like wolves! Who cares if females will be gun down while pregnant- the insensitivity is so obvious.

  15. william huard says:

    Hey- things could be worse- Butchie otter could be governor of my state! Then we would have to declare a state wide bad hair day!

  16. Talks with Bears says:

    Alan – my point exactly, wildlife is not being managed – wildlife includes more than wolves. The wildlife/human interface is not being managed. In the wolf litigation what other wildlife is being protected? Alan, worried about money are you? How about this, remove the wolves from all list, allow hunting of wolves – end result – fewer wolves, fewer dollars in lawyers pockets, fewer claims for depredation, less taxpayer dollars spent on wolf collars and wildlife services.

  17. JimT says:

    Are we playing nice like Dad..err..Ralph said? ~S~

    Talk with Bears,
    One of the baseline problems here is the FACT that the livestock and big game industry have had their way for so long in terms of land and resource management and use decision to the exclusion of legal and biosystem principles that the assumption is that THEY are suddenly the aggrieved party here if lands and their particular industry activities are to be subject to efforts to restore a TRUE balance between human uses and the health of the ecosystem and its inhabitants.

    You illustrate that so clearly. You don’t want to take the time to learn the facts of the situation, you just want things to stay they were they wolves, no competition for trophy elk hunters, no interference with the ranching practices no matter how bad or irresponsible they have become. Humans have had their ways in these issues for so long, they whine like teenagers who can’t have the car because Dad finally said put some gas in it for a change..take responsibility, Son. I am so weary of the complaining and the type of bullying that recently went on at the meeting cited in one of the articles. I am so angry that it is always the environmental side that is expected to come to the table, hat in hand, and be happy with the scraps left for them by the industry interests when so much is already controlled by them. I am of the opinion at this point that William Huard is correct..ranchers and big game elk folks simply want the wolves dead. Period. Or confined to Yellowstone like some living zoo, no matter the cost to the health of the wolf populations. Public Land grazing needs to be extirpated. Elk needs to be take off the place of worship it has currently,and let the predator-prey relationship with canids be established again. Who knows..elk might actually grow to be wary prey again because of the presence of the wolf, more true to its wild nature. Maybe that would mean fewer trophy kills; maybe that is what scares the trophy hunt industry.

    You say you value wildlife. Do you value them for their own intrinsic worth regardless of benefit to humans? Or is it always that the human benefit comes first, and if the animals can survive given that, then that’s just dandy. Managing is just a nice term for having wild populations exist based on human values and convenience. I suggest it is time to protect the land and its inhabitants FROM human activity for a change, restore the pendulum to a neutral position, and then start to talk about new ways to share the land with wild entities.

    Have you ever read Wallace Stegner’s Wilderness Letter? Perhaps that will explain how some of us feel about the land and the wildlife and humans…

  18. JimT says:

    Here is the text of the Wilderness Letter..It is worth pondering, even if it takes so time to read….Enjoy

    Los Altos, California

    December 3, 1960

    David E. Pesonen
    Wildland Research Center
    Agricultural Experiment Station
    243 Mulford Hall
    University of California
    Berkeley 4, Calif.

    Dear Mr. Pesonen:

    I believe that you are working on the wilderness portion of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission’s report. If I may, I should like to urge some arguments for wilderness preservation that involve recreation, as it is ordinarily conceived, hardly at all. Hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain-climbing, camping, photography, and the enjoyment of natural scenery will all, surely, figure in your report. So will the wilderness as a genetic reserve, a scientific yardstick by which we may measure the world in its natural balance against the world in its man-made imbalance. What I want to speak for is not so much the wilderness uses, valuable as those are, but the wilderness idea, which is a resource in itself. Being an intangible and spiritual resource, it will seem mystical to the practical minded–but then anything that cannot be moved by a bulldozer is likely to seem mystical to them.

    I want to speak for the wilderness idea as something that has helped form our character and that has certainly shaped our history as a people. It has no more to do with recreation than churches have to do with recreation, or than the strenuousness and optimism and expansiveness of what the historians call the “American Dream” have to do with recreation. Nevertheless, since it is only in this recreation survey that the values of wilderness are being compiled, I hope you will permit me to insert this idea between the leaves, as it were, of the recreation report.

    Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. Without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment. We need wilderness preserved–as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds–because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there–important, that is, simply as an idea.

    We are a wild species, as Darwin pointed out. Nobody ever tamed or domesticated or scientifically bred us. But for at least three millennia we have been engaged in a cumulative and ambitious race to modify and gain control of our environment, and in the process we have come close to domesticating ourselves. Not many people are likely, any more, to look upon what we call “progress” as an unmixed blessing. Just as surely as it has brought us increased comfort and more material goods, it has brought us spiritual losses, and it threatens now to become the Frankenstein that will destroy us. One means of sanity is to retain a hold on the natural world, to remain, insofar as we can, good animals. Americans still have that chance, more than many peoples; for while we were demonstrating ourselves the most efficient and ruthless environment-busters in history, and slashing and burning and cutting our way through a wilderness continent, the wilderness was working on us. It remains in us as surely as Indian names remain on the land. If the abstract dream of human liberty and human dignity became, in America, something more than an abstract dream, mark it down at least partially to the fact that we were in subdued ways subdued by what we conquered.

    The Connecticut Yankee, sending likely candidates from King Arthur’s unjust kingdom to his Man Factory for rehabilitation, was over-optimistic, as he later admitted. These things cannot be forced, they have to grow. To make such a man, such a democrat, such a believer in human individual dignity, as Mark Twain himself, the frontier was necessary, Hannibal and the Mississippi and Virginia City, and reaching out from those the wilderness; the wilderness as opportunity and idea, the thing that has helped to make an American different from and, until we forget it in the roar of our industrial cities, more fortunate than other men. For an American, insofar as he is new and different at all, is a civilized man who has renewed himself in the wild. The American experience has been the confrontation by old peoples and cultures of a world as new as if it had just risen from the sea. That gave us our hope and our excitement, and the hope and excitement can be passed on to newer Americans, Americans who never saw any phase of the frontier. But only so long as we keep the remainder of our wild as a reserve and a promise–a sort of wilderness bank.

    As a novelist, I may perhaps be forgiven for taking literature as a reflection, indirect but profoundly true, of our national consciousness. And our literature, as perhaps you are aware, is sick, embittered, losing its mind, losing its faith. Our novelists are the declared enemies of their society. There has hardly been a serious or important novel in this century that did not repudiate in part or in whole American technological culture for its commercialism, its vulgarity, and the way in which it has dirtied a clean continent and a clean dream. I do not expect that the preservation of our remaining wilderness is going to cure this condition. But the mere example that we can as a nation apply some other criteria than commercial and exploitative considerations would be heartening to many Americans, novelists or otherwise. We need to demonstrate our acceptance of the natural world, including ourselves; we need the spiritual refreshment that being natural can produce. And one of the best places for us to get that is in the wilderness where the fun houses, the bulldozers, and the pavement of our civilization are shut out.

    Sherwood Anderson, in a letter to Waldo Frank in the 1920s, said it better than I can. “Is it not likely that when the country was new and men were often alone in the fields and the forest they got a sense of bigness outside themselves that has now in some way been lost…. Mystery whispered in the grass, played in the branches of trees overhead, was caught up and blown across the American line in clouds of dust at evening on the prairies…. I am old enough to remember tales that strengthen my belief in a deep semi-religious influence that was formerly at work among our people. The flavor of it hangs over the best work of Mark Twain…. I can remember old fellows in my home town speaking feelingly of an evening spent on the big empty plains. It had taken the shrillness out of them. They had learned the trick of quiet….”

    We could learn it too, even yet; even our children and grandchildren could learn it. But only if we save, for just such absolutely non-recreational, impractical, and mystical uses as this, all the wild that still remains to us.

    It seems to me significant that the distinct downturn in our literature from hope to bitterness took place almost at the precise time when the frontier officially came to an end, in 1890, and when the American way of life had begun to turn strongly urban and industrial. The more urban it has become, and the more frantic with technological change, the sicker and more embittered our literature, and I believe our people, have become. For myself, I grew up on the empty plains of Saskatchewan and Montana and in the mountains of Utah, and I put a very high valuation on what those places gave me. And if I had not been able to periodically to renew myself in the mountains and deserts of western America I would be very nearly bughouse. Even when I can’t get to the back country, the thought of the colored deserts of southern Utah, or the reassurance that there are still stretches of prairies where the world can be instantaneously perceived as disk and bowl, and where the little but intensely important human being is exposed to the five directions of the thirty-six winds, is a positive consolation. The idea alone can sustain me. But as the wilderness areas are progressively exploited or “improve”, as the jeeps and bulldozers of uranium prospectors scar up the deserts and the roads are cut into the alpine timberlands, and as the remnants of the unspoiled and natural world are progressively eroded, every such loss is a little death in me. In us.

    I am not moved by the argument that those wilderness areas which have already been exposed to grazing or mining are already deflowered, and so might as well be “harvested”. For mining I cannot say much good except that its operations are generally short-lived. The extractable wealth is taken and the shafts, the tailings, and the ruins left, and in a dry country such as the American West the wounds men make in the earth do not quickly heal. Still, they are only wounds; they aren’t absolutely mortal. Better a wounded wilderness than none at all. And as for grazing, if it is strictly controlled so that it does not destroy the ground cover, damage the ecology, or compete with the wildlife it is in itself nothing that need conflict with the wilderness feeling or the validity of the wilderness experience. I have known enough range cattle to recognize them as wild animals; and the people who herd them have, in the wilderness context, the dignity of rareness; they belong on the frontier, moreover, and have a look of rightness. The invasion they make on the virgin country is a sort of invasion that is as old as Neolithic man, and they can, in moderation, even emphasize a man’s feeling of belonging to the natural world. Under surveillance, they can belong; under control, they need not deface or mar. I do not believe that in wilderness areas where grazing has never been permitted, it should be permitted; but I do not believe either that an otherwise untouched wilderness should be eliminated from the preservation plan because of limited existing uses such as grazing which are in consonance with the frontier condition and image.

    Let me say something on the subject of the kinds of wilderness worth preserving. Most of those areas contemplated are in the national forests and in high mountain country. For all the usual recreational purposes, the alpine and the forest wildernesses are obviously the most important, both as genetic banks and as beauty spots. But for the spiritual renewal, the recognition of identity, the birth of awe, other kinds will serve every bit as well. Perhaps, because they are less friendly to life, more abstractly nonhuman, they will serve even better. On our Saskatchewan prairie, the nearest neighbor was four miles away, and at night we saw only two lights on all the dark rounding earth. The earth was full of animals–field mice, ground squirrels, weasels, ferrets, badgers, coyotes, burrowing owls, snakes. I knew them as my little brothers, as fellow creatures, and I have never been able to look upon animals in any other way since. The sky in that country came clear down to the ground on every side, and it was full of great weathers, and clouds, and winds, and hawks. I hope I learned something from looking a long way, from looking up, from being much alone. A prairie like that, one big enough to carry the eye clear to the sinking, rounding horizon, can be as lonely and grand and simple in its forms as the sea. It is as good a place as any for the wilderness experience to happen; the vanishing prairie is as worth preserving for the wilderness idea as the alpine forest.

    So are great reaches of our western deserts, scarred somewhat by prospectors but otherwise open, beautiful, waiting, close to whatever God you want to see in them. Just as a sample, let me suggest the Robbers’ Roost country in Wayne County, Utah, near the Capitol Reef National Monument. In that desert climate the dozer and jeep tracks will not soon melt back into the earth, but the country has a way of making the scars insignificant. It is a lovely and terrible wilderness, such as wilderness as Christ and the prophets went out into; harshly and beautifully colored, broken and worn until its bones are exposed, its great sky without a smudge of taint from Technocracy, and in hidden corners and pockets under its cliffs the sudden poetry of springs. Save a piece of country like that intact, and it does not matter in the slightest that only a few people every year will go into it. That is precisely its value. Roads would be a desecration, crowds would ruin it. But those who haven’t the strength or youth to go into it and live can simply sit and look. They can look two hundred miles, clear into Colorado: and looking down over the cliffs and canyons of the San Rafael Swell and the Robbers’ Roost they can also look as deeply into themselves as anywhere I know. And if they can’t even get to the places on the Aquarius Plateau where the present roads will carry them, they can simply contemplate the idea, take pleasure in the fact that such a timeless and uncontrolled part of earth is still there.

    These are some of the things wilderness can do for us. That is the reason we need to put into effect, for its preservation, some other principle that the principles of exploitation or “usefulness” or even recreation. We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.

    Very sincerely yours,

    Wallace Stegner

    * Printer-friendly version

  19. josh sutherland says:

    JimT so delisting is gooing to be based on if a wolve decides he wants to go chase some woman in another state, if he doesnt, and your genetic diversity does not happen… What then? That seems like a helluva safety net for the wolfies if you ask me. You cant force a wolf to leave and go breed somwhere else. Whoever put that net in there was smart.

  20. gline says:

    thanks JimT…

  21. JimT says:

    Josh, think it of as living in a remote area, and all of the family members were named Smith for the last several generations, and genetic pool, shall we say, has not been kind in terms of health or mental problems. And the Smiths have been prevented from meeting the Jones across the valley by the Vanderbilts who like things just the way they are since they rule things.

    Or, if you are knowledgeable about dog breeding, how important it is not to line breed too closely or too often to avoid heightening the chances that undesirable characteristics like OCD or heart issues would start showing up frequently in litters. You bring in new lines, new genes into your own lines to keep diversity.

    That is what preventing wolves from inter-mixing to achieve and maintain genetic diversity would wolf terms, of course. Read the damned ESA and the implementing regs…habitat and genetic diversity is what is needed for any species to be healthy…even humans. There are other considerations, of course, but those two certainly are prominent in any consideration of listing and de-listing.

    What would so damned wrong with healthy wolf populations being in the mountain and northwestern states again? Most people here claim to love the wild. But on what terms is the question I ask?

  22. Talks with Bears says:

    Jim T – humans have had their way for so long now – a real eyeopener. And unless you have knowledge that the rest of us don’t, humans will continue to have their way. You want your way. I have no issue with you having your opinion. Next, do not council me on the rules of this site – you treat me with respect and you will receive the same, Son. Next, you state that I do not want to learn – are you an adult? Why have I been on this site for the last 3 months? Surely not to banter with the likes of Chicago Mike. Why did I take time out of my day Thursday to spend two hours at the FWP meeting? It has been to learn, and I have – trust me. Why do I choose to spend more days in the field than most people I know? To trophy hunt – no JimT to learn – everytime myself, wife and son are in the outdoors to hunt, fish or hike we learn. Clearly, people that comment here are not going to have all the information on every subject – that includes you. JimT – I could include a few other comments however, I have manners unlike some others.

  23. Salle says:

    Last year I read an oped in a northern Montana paper where the wolf-hating author clearly stated that, “You just can’t have wildlife running wild…”

    What a concept ~ go figure.

    I wonder where the term “wildlife” came from…?

  24. JimT says:


    YOU are the one who stated you didn’t “have time” to educate yourself on the ESA issues, the litigation, etc. Why blame me to merely echoing YOUR sentiments and thoughts? Yet, you have very strong opinions about the wolf re-introduction. There is more to this saga then wood wisdom, though sound biology is certainly part of the equation. Like it or not, law and science play dominant roles in these issues of species reintroduction, ESA considerations….or at least they should. These issues should not be ruled by the very selfish and parochial interests of ranchers and others who profit from the land and its resources, and leave it worse for the efforts. I am glad you have the freedom to spend so much time with your family enjoying the outdoors; I don’t have that luxury, unfortunately. Still, I did have that time when I was younger, free of family and career, and enjoyed my time in the mountains and desert throughout the West immensely. I am hoping to return to that kind of lifestyle at some near point in life. You are lucky to have that freedom now…enjoy.

    I just reread my post..I don’t see anything that lectures you on the rules of this blog. I stated my opinion, asked strong questions about yours. It isn’t as if I have not been on the end of some strong comments by the anti-wolf folks here; goes with the territory.

    As for humans having their way…sigh…look around. If you were King of the Environment, would you really be happy with what humans as a species has done with your world, especially in the last 120 years? Just because civilizations continue to abuse the environment for human benefit doesn’t mean it is correct, justifiable, or should continue. That’s my point. Ranchers, miners, forestry industry, oil and gas…all need to change their ways, or there won’t be any more wild places to go, or wild things to see, just fragmented pieces of open spaces.

    As you say, it is my opinion, as you have yours.

  25. Elk275 says:

    ++As you say, it is my opinion, as you have yours.++

    There is a lot of good writing here on both sides that is very time consuming. We all have are opinions.

  26. Talks with Bears says:

    Jim T – please, the standard for commenting here is not to have read every legal brief filed in a 10 year old lawsuit. Strong opinions, mine seem to be getting stronger by the day. JimT – being you are an outdoorsman and prowolf man I will share with you my first real wolf moment. Two Novembers ago I was elk hunting one afternoon on the west slope of the Snowcrest mountains. Hiking up into the wind thru scattered timber on a snowy windy afternoon to a meadow at times favored by elk. Not another person around. Headed up hill I came to one of those spots where you take one big step up and you go from seeing 50 yards of country to 250. And there they were, 5 of them 75 yards away all standing still in the meadow looking directly at me – the snow was crunchy so I knew they had heard me. All of us eyeball to eyeball – the first real wolves (outside the Park) I had encountered. I can still see in my minds eye the hair on their tails moving in the wind and the snow on their backs. After about 20 seconds the largest one began to lope away and the others followed. As I sat that evening and saw no elk, I was not mad, I was grateful for the experience. The wolves were around for a few weeks and the elk moved out but, the elk did return shortly after the wolves departure. I would like other people to have the opportunity to have a similar experience. That is why I hope all of these wolf/wildlife/human issues can be resolved in a responsible manner.

  27. josh sutherland says:

    JimT we linebreed close on the pointers that I train and hunt with. But as far as wolves are concerned if they are isolated and cant have interaction with other wolf packs do we just keep them listed forever? I just think that could turn into a moving goal post for the wolfies thats all. I understand the importance of genetic diversity, and as I have mentioned before I am not against wolves, as long as they are managed by the states they live in. I just dont want UT to join the circus that is known as the “wolf re-introduction”…

  28. Alan says:

    “Alan – my point exactly, wildlife is not being managed…..”
    What wildlife is not being managed? “Managed”, as has been pointed out so many times on this blog, is a euphemism for killing. Wolves are being killed, elk are being killed, deer, bears, cougars, pronghorn, bighorn, moose…all being killed. Somewhere someone sits in an ivory tower, plays god, and decides what shall live and what shall die. Decides how many of a given species shall be allowed to live and how many shall die this year in each district. Decides which species are valuable, and which are pond scum. But “management” is more than that, it is also about protecting species, not from each other, but from man. Sometimes wildlife “managers” need to be reminded about that. That’s where courts come in. When Mother Nature is allowed to “manage” wildlife everything comes out right in the end. Elk are down and predators are up one year; in a few years it will turn around. As Ralph pointed out regarding district 310, with that few elk the wolves will move on; no management needed. Let hunters drive a few extra miles to other districts where elk are abundant and in a few years elk will return. Besides, as one Montana Fish and Game biologist pointed out in an article I read recently: it’s not so much that the elk in district 310 are dead, but that they have wised up and moved to private land along the Madison where hunting isn’t allowed.

  29. Talks with Bears says:

    Alan – according to you and others, I thought hunters were too dumb, fat, ignorant, emotionally challenged from serving their country to drive anywhere new to hunt? Maybe the courts need to protect hunters from the wildlife…. Seems you have all the answers on district 310 – missed you the other night at the meeting. You could have set everyone straight.

  30. JimT says:


    First of all, I am jealous of your wolf experience. Not possible here. I did have the chance summer before last to be in the Lamar with a wildlife biologist who runs a guide service there; actually is the son of a previous Park Superintendent and grew up there..what a lucky kid! Saw all sorts of wolves, and feedings, and swimming which I had never seen before,and given the levels of the river and streams in the Lamar that year, it was impressive to see them swim to the kill. There was even some very close up bison-wolf check each other out posturing, but no damage. Some of the pack got stuck on the ridgeline because of the eventual packing of cars to the site, and the wolves at the kill were howling and the feeding part of the pack were howling back.

    I also have had the rare experience of being face-licked by a human tolerant wolf from a sanctuary in Colorado. Not tame, just tolerant due to the santuary environment; there is as little human-wolf interaction as possible there for that purpose and the wolves have a few hundred acres to roam, but of course, it is not enough. They do fund raising trips, and I was at one and on the aisle in the auditorium. They take a few wolves with them who can behave..mostly…in those settings, and one was a black yearling named Merlin. Merlin was going up and down the aisle, being led by a handler and suddenly stopped next to me and came over..looked me straight in the eye, and then proceeded to give me a face wash for about 30 seconds. I can tell you at that moment, all the debate about dogs and wolves being the same went out the window; there was a wildness in those green eyes no dog could ever have. In any case, it is not as exciting as seeing them up close in the wild, but it was a singular experience for me that I will never forget.

  31. JimT says:


    As far as reading legal tomes,etc. to post on the list, no it is not required. But I will say the whole issue of re-introduction is a complex, convoluted story. And I think the more one makes the effort to tackle the legal and biological issues, the more context one has to understand the posturing and behaviors of both sides, particularly the grazing and trophy proponents. You don’t have to read the legal briefs; you can get a good idea from Doug Smith’s book, or a few others that have been written.

    But the emotional stuff comes from the heart and the soul, and I share your wish that someday, wolves will be at least given their due and respect in the Western states, not just the magic triangle of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. I do think some of the old attitudes of entitlement have to go; the industries cannot simply expect to be pandered to in land and species decisions anymore. You may see a return to the 70s and 80s where the environmental groups were ,more confrontation-oriented;more folks who feel that enough is enough like the Center for Biological Diversity. The ranchers and big game folks have only to look in the mirror for the reason for such a position by the environmental side.

  32. JimT says:


    That is exactly the strategy of the ranchers and big game folks…to keep the wolves in as confined an area as possible, to keep the experimental population status so killing can be done even if they are listed, and hope that disease and genetic recessive traits eventually do the packs in. They would gladly forgo the hunt for those conditions. Sooner or later, other states will be dragged in as packs do find ways to disperse. The question will be…if they come from experimental populations,but settle in an area on their own, will they have full ESA protection, or will they still be regarded as ‘re-introduced’?

    I,personally, don’t know how I feel about following the experimental population approach..I really have mixed legal and emotional thoughts on it.

  33. Elk275 says:


    ++but that they have wised up and moved to private land along the Madison where hunting isn’t allowed.++

    Or maybe hunting is allowed for $8,000 to $12,000 for a trophy bull elk and if the general public is lucky they maybe can kill a cow elk at the end of the season or on a deprivation hunt in January.

  34. Alan says:

    “Alan – according to you and others, I thought hunters were too dumb, fat, ignorant, emotionally challenged from serving their country to drive anywhere new to hunt?”
    I have never characterized hunters that way. I have many friends who hunt, or who have hunted. You and I would likely agree about a lot of things and disagree about a few. Doesn’t mean either of us fall into the categories listed (though I definitely could lose some weight!) We are simply, for the most part, products of our upbringing.
    This is from the Gazette article: “……according to Julie Cunningham, a wildlife biologist in the Bozeman office of Fish, Wildlife and Parks……..Some elk, feeling too crowded by predators and people, simply relocated to a less-stressful environment in the Madison Valley, where large swaths of private land provide a safe haven but also keep hunters at bay. Without public hunting, wildlife managers can’t control population densities (kill more elk).” I didn’t make that up.
    Missed you at the meeting as well; at least no one was being addressed as “Talks with Bears”.

  35. Talks with Bears says:

    Alan – I do my best work undercover. Or maybe just in the shadows.

  36. JB says:

    “…your summation is exactly why people are so frustrated – all about wolves and not about wildlife or the human/wildlife interface. Lawyers, judges and politicians controlling wildlife (not managing) – no wonder it is a mess.”

    TWB: You might be interested to note that Randy Budge, one of IDF&G’s commissioners, is a lawyer. These commissioners are the ones determining the fundamental direction of wildlife management (i.e. what wildlife will be managed for), NOT wildlife biologists.

    I’m interested, in your view, do wildlife have to be “managed”?

  37. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB, TWB –
    Let me suggest that the question be expanded. Is there a societal need/benefit for wildlife management?

  38. JimT says:


    Define “wildlife management”. Have to have agreement on the definitions before an informed debate can occur.

  39. jerryB says:

    I have a friend who owns a large ranch in the Madison Valley(also an officer of Madison Valley Ranchlands organization) on which the elk seek shelter from hunters once the hunting season begins. He also has a steady presence of wolves when the hunt starts and the elk would rather take their chances with wolves than be shot at. It costs him dearly when it comes to forage and he is one of the ranchers trying to get $$ for lost grazing due to this elk presence and their feeding on his grass.

  40. jerryB says:

    Mark Gamblin……lately there’s been a considerable amount written by Creel and others about the stress wolves cause elk and how it effects calf numbers etc. I listened to him speak recently and it’s all about wolves…nothing about drought, hunting etc.
    Has anyone, to your knowledge, studied the stressed induced by hunters, chasing and shooting at them at a time of year when the elk need to build strength to make it through the rut and the winter season?

  41. Alan says:

    ……”do wildlife have to be “managed”?”
    That is a very interesting question. The easy answer would be, unfortunately in today’s world, yes; because the alternative would be unrestricted, year around hunting; ranchers slaughtering elk and deer to keep them out of their hay fields, and the destruction of our herds, much as what happened in the early nineteen hundreds.
    The real answer, IMHO, is that we need better “people management” (and in this case I am not suggesting that people be killed, even though I insist that wildlife “management’ means to kill wildlife, which it does. Just wanted to make that clear!).
    Good luck with that, right? (Better managing people, I mean.)
    Yes I know that hunters paid to bring back the herds. Hunters have been great conservationists. Even though they don’t like the term, they were the first environmentalists. But doctors and scientists cure disease; doesn’t mean they are the only ones to benefit. Wildlife should be managed (really managed, not just killed) for everyone, and for an intact ecosystem, not just hunters. Songbird habitat should be just as important as elk habitat. Foxes and badgers should be considered valuable pieces of the puzzle just as moose and pronghorn are; not shot on sight by anyone at anytime. I’m not saying that folks should not have a right to protect their property and shoot a predator that is in among their chickens or sheep; but when we have legal contests just for fun to see who can slaughter the most coyotes, for example, or when we gun down wolves from the air, or shoot habituated animals from the roadside, or use unsportsmanlike tactics to bait animals in, or trap animals regardless the pain and suffering, or change the rules after the fact (such as extending the wolf season four months), there is something intrinsically wrong with the entire concept of “wildlife management”.

  42. Elk275 says:

    ……”do wildlife have to be “managed”?”

    Or if we did not manage wildlife would they become the property of the landowner the same as South Africa and Nambia. Each animal has a price.

    One of my fears is that those who want federal management and control of wildlife on federal lands will lead to the landowner demanding the ownership of the wildlife on his/her property. Where would that lead us to? The North America wildlife model has worked very well and to change it could lead to the worst. They is a growing voice with western landowners that the wildlife should be there’s.

  43. bigbrowntrout says:

    jerry B- maybe your friend in the madison valley instead of trying to get $$$ because of the elk eating his grasses, he should allow some hunters. I hate to see ranchers throwing a fit about damage down to crops etc. when they dont allow hunting.

  44. Talks with Bears says:

    Mark,JB,Alan – this will be a great discussion – unfortunately for me that four letter word has me today and tommorrow. Just real quick, for the human/wildlife interface to have a chance of “success” there has to be mangement of people and wildlife – be it control actions or building fences and tunnels to protect animals from vehicles and vehicles from animals or hunting seasons/limits etc. Alan, you state your objection clearly above to the killing of predators for “fun” and or gunning down from the air etc – OK. So, if for wildlife management purposes it has been determined these animals need to be killed is it just the manner of death that you object to? Have a good one.

  45. jerryB says:

    Talks with Bears
    I’m looking forward to your return from “work” so we can discuss “meetings” of which I attend many meetings and hearings. Even tape some of them. Maybe I’m getting too old to learn, but I only seem to hear one side of the issues and that’s the one put out by MFWP, which I’m sure must be approved by the Dept of Livestock and the outfitters.
    When we have the BBQ, I’ll show you some tape!

  46. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    jerryB, Alan –
    Traditionally, wildlife management includes monitoring and studying wildlife population composition and their habitat, setting hunting and fishing seasons and harvest opportunity to fit desired opportunity and population objectives and manipulation of habitat to benefit wildlife production and the benefits people derive from the wildlife resource. That’s an off the cuff stab at this without giving it much constrictive thought.
    I need to do a literature search for you question about research on hunting induced stress, comparable to the wolf research.

    Alan – you are correct that wildlife management is as much people management as it is direct management of wildlife populations. Managing human activities is one of the crucial factors affecting wildlife resources that we have the ability to control.

    I will be out of town the next until Thursday. Hopefully, the discussion will still have life left when I’m back.

  47. jimt says:

    Talks with Bears Says:
    December 6, 2009 at 6:38 PM

    Alan – I do my best work undercover. Or maybe just in the shadows.


    You aren’t Dick Cheney, by any chance? ~S~

  48. Talks with Bears says:

    Jim T – this may help. I have never shot anyone I have hunted with.

  49. Talks with Bears says:

    No one even trashed me while I was gone – you guys are the best. Jerry B – are you the moose poop man?

  50. ProWolf in WY says:

    Talks with Bears, wildlife groups are suing because the OUTDATED plan calls for 300 (among other things).

  51. JB says:

    “…human/wildlife interface to have a chance of “success” there has to be mangement of people and wildlife…”

    TWB: I’d like to suggest that the actions that fall under the umbrella term “wildlife management” can be extremely diverse: from total protection of a species, to attempts to exterminate species, and everything in between. Thus, it is hard to disagree with your assertion that wildlife (and people) need to be managed. Still, I would point out that the vast majority of species have no formal management plans. In general, only species that are (a) considered a nuisance, (b) considered game, or (c) threatened with extinction actually have formal management plans.

    Wildlife management in the West (in particular) is about protecting livestock producers from nuisance animals and selling licenses to hunters in order to stay in business. Whether we, as a society, “need” wildlife management is open for debate, in my opinion.

  52. Talks with Bears says:

    Pro Wolf – in your opinion, why is the 300 number outdated?

  53. Talks with Bears says:

    JB – I like your summary. I would submit that in Western (the American West) culture the hunter and rancher are important parts of the social order?

  54. Talks with Bears says:

    Jerry B – speaking of the BarBQ – I am not feeling the love from Ralph – I can understand, he would feel responsible for this bunch – one would have to have big shoulders to hold up this group – especially after a few beers. Someone – maybe gline had mentioned that many on here attend the wolf conference – does anyone know the date and location? Maybe we could have an event that same day/weekend when many would already be gathered. Ralph – I am not trying to run with this if you are in, just trying to keep the conversation going.

  55. Talks with Bears,

    We’ve had to cancel the wolf conference for two years straight because Defenders of Wildlife pulled out without giving us enough notice.

    We, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, hope we can get one together again, but we are thinking more of a scientific conference where we have people give papers and talk about the social science part of wolf recovery.

    Most conferences have focused on biology, but social science might have as much to offer when it comes to wolves, game, endangered species, and so forth.

    Anyway, there are no definite plans right now.

  56. Maska says:

    Bummer, Ralph. We were finally going to be able to attend in 2010. Hope you can pull something together for 2011.

  57. Talks with Bears says:

    Ralph – need some reading for holiday travels – do you have a favorite regarding the prior (before the wolf reintro) predator/human relationship in the West?

  58. ProWolf in WY says:

    Pro Wolf – in your opinion, why is the 300 number outdated?

    This “opinion” is based on scientific evidence that 300 wolves does not support genetic diversity.

  59. catbestland says:


    You said, “Alan – according to you and others, I thought hunters were too dumb, fat, ignorant, emotionally challenged from serving their country to drive anywhere new to hunt?”

    How do hunters serve their country? And if they did serve their country why are they more emotionally challenged than other people who serve their country?

  60. Talks with Bears says:

    Prowolf – is this new scientific evidence? Who provided this “new” scientific evidence?

  61. Talks with Bears says:

    Cat – some on this site have asked us to consider that our returning U.S. servicemen are responsible for hunting/bloodlust – I used emotionally challenged for lack of a better term.

  62. Wilderness Muse says:

    If I recall correctly, the genetic diversity issue in the first Montana suit last summer, was the result of Judge Molloy misinterpreting the work of Dr. Robert Wayne and graduate student Bridgett vonHoldt, whose computer model was the basis for the lack of genetic exchange argument, and the judge’s acceptance of a “perfect storm” modeling scenario that had an extremely low probability of ever occuring (like never). USFWS challenged the result of the modeling, but the judge ignored it because he is not a scientist and incapable of making that distinction. He also wanted to err on the side of a conservative approach to delisting. It is a fact that the plaintiffs misrepresented the model and its results in the litigation. The judge just said to USFWS, go back and do your homework and put it in your rule justification before delisting. That is when he vacated the judgment – so they could propose anoither rule that met his objections.

    For those of you concerned about lack of genetic diversity like the sicko crazy experiment at Isle Royale where about twenty three wolves are trapped on an island and have been inbreeding with each other for decades, with no chance of genetic exchange, think outside the box.

    Genetic diversity can always be augmented by introducing new genetic stock – more wolves from Canada. Recall that is how this reintroduction all started, and there may always be more natural genetic stock coming in from Canada, for example the wolves now coming back into Washington and Montana from the North. The northeeastern WA wolves could always head east if so inclined, since there is continuous habitat from NE WA to ID.

    The real meaty issue before Judge Molloy in the current delisting suit (in addition to the lack of an approved WY management plan) is the concept of the “Distinct Population Segment” and how this has been used by FWS for delisting purposes. This is a technical legal definition for species protection and designation (the original idea being to protect a particular segment in danger, where in the rest of the range the species is not threatened or endangered . It is doubtful the authors of the ESA ever contemplated the dilemma of wolf reintroduction when the DPS provisions were drafted and passed by Congress. I also suspect, if we looked back in time, members of Congress who passed these provisions of the ESA would be disappointed in how the law is now being used to hold up delisting of a species which is clearly in no danger of extinction, and capable of reproducing and being protected under state management programs and in 2 national parks, as it continues to expand range. The numbers of wolves each state were to maintain and manage for, were agreed to in the original reintroduction plan, and EIS review. It is not unusual for the states to want to hold the line there.

    My prediction is that Judge Molloy’s decision – whichever way it goes – will center on the DPS concept and how it was applied by USFWS, as well as the WY unapproved plan. The genetic diversity issue is a bunch of bunk, and the judge will see thru that.

    Also, what is curious about the WY plan issue, is that, notwithstanding the delisting boundaries being made on state lines (not ecosystm or science based), USFWS maintains control of wolves in WY and gives them better protection than if WY had the responsiblity. So, in that sense it is a no harm no foul situation, again a technical deficiency of the ESA, which the authors of the legislation likely did not contemplate.

  63. Talks with Bears says:

    WM – good post. Hey, I posed a question to Ralph above regarding some reading materials. Do you or anyone else have ideas.

  64. Robert Hoskins says:

    I’ve gotten onto this late, but I have a couple of comments.

    1) For Talks With Bears, one doesn’t need to read 10 years worth of documents to understand what the 300 number means. Just read appendixes 9 and 11 of the Final Grey Wolf EIS from 1994. You’ll see from these short appendixes that 300 was merely a trigger for delisting, not a ceiling on the number of wolves to be allowed in the recovery area. Further, that number is put in a metapopulation context, that is, there has to be significant movement among the Wyoming, Montana, and central Idaho populations before delisting can take place. If you read Idaho and especially Wyoming’s wolf plans, they are designed to interfere with a functioning metapopulation, Wyoming’s through its dual status approach where wolves are predatory animals in 3/4 of the state to be shot on sight, Idaho’s through its excessive hunting quotas, as we see with the recent ecologically unwise decision to extend its wolf season.

    2) Wilderness Muse, your assertion about the genetic argument in the wolf decision is the FWS position, and thus, without evidence that it’s bunk, it’s just sour grapes. We’re hearing the same thing from the FWS regarding the whitebark pine argument in Judge Molloy’s decision to place grizzly bears back on the list. Sour grapes.

    The ESA isn’t based on probabilities.


  65. Wilderness Muse says:


    Great question.

    The Western Gray Wolf website maintained by US Fish and Wildlife Service a good resource for the basic documents, including the federal guding documents (Recovery plan and EIS) , state plans, annual reports, federal register publications, oldrer court rulings, and more. Lots to read here, if you go to the shown links.

    You can download the documents and/or print them off for your holiday reading (some are quite long).

    The 1987 “Northern Rocky Mountain Recovery Plan,” that is sometimes referenced by the more fact knowledgeable commentors on this blog as the basic planning guide document the states agreed to meet, is available on the link in the upper left of the web page – third link down labeled “Recovery Plan”(146 pages).

    The last link in that area is the “1994 EIS” (414 pages) that is also frequently referenced regarding the committments each of the three states and the feds made regarding reintroduction.

    A short report you might find interesting (although somewhat dated) is the 2003 “Habituated Wolves in Yellowstone NP,” (19 pages). Some good pics of habituated wolves and a great flowchart on page 4.
    The link is in the very lower right side of the web page.

  66. Talks with Bears says:

    Robert – when the wolf population is so high above the trigger level – and so many impacts are being felt – the protest against delisting are falling on deaf ears, as far as the general public goes. Legal scholars may continue to argue the “best science” and move bars around but, we know the truth of where we are in this. On both sides, the current number of wolves is unsustainable – prowolf folks howl about Wildlife Services and hunters killing wolves – other groups being impacted by wolves are wanting more to be killed. When you read the weekly wolf reports and other resources it is clear that we have reached a breaking point – too many wolves. In addition, from a PR standpoint, the prowolf side touting the latest story regarding a population needing 5000 individuals to survive has been a disaster for them – can you imagine if MT,ID and WY had 5000 wolves – the weekly wolf report would be 20 pages instead of 3.

  67. Wilderness Muse says:


    The genetic diversity modeling argument is specifically addressed in Dr. Mech’s declaration in the 2008 litigation. I believe it is also addressed in the declarations of Bangs, and maybe others (Nadeau, Sime, Jiminez). What I understand from reliable sources, even the authors of the study were taken aback by the way Defenders contorted and misrepresented the modeling results in the study for use in the litigation. Again, Molloy took a conservative position, as he probably should have as a decision-maker. No “sour grapes” about this at all!

    There will be a second round of this issue in the current litigation – how Judge Molloy rules this time, will again be based on his comprehension of the science as represented by the parties. He is a busy judge, who has more on his plate than wolves and griz, and whether he can/will take the time to understand the nuances of the data part of the this ESA interpretation case is unknown. He might just punt it on the law alone.

  68. gline says:

    Yes, more “important” things then wolves and griz aren’t there? … Molloy is a fair, impartial judge. He will take the time to look at the arguments to do this right.

  69. Talks with Bears says:

    WM – thanks for the suggestions. Now back to the grind.

  70. Wilderness Muse says:


    Your comment: “The ESA isn’t based on probabilities.”

    I call wolf poop on your statement. The science which supports ESA protection of a species is based on probabilities. Therefore, the ESA is based on probabililties.

  71. gline says:

    fyi MT killing whole packs now for domestic goats and guard dogs (the guard dogs must not be very good)

  72. JimT says:


    So, ALL science is suspect because of probability analysis. Are you one of the proponents of 100% certainty before actions can be taken? Certainty in the universe is virtually nonexistent. We do the best with the tools we have as humans.
    Not so much the guard dogs not being good, it is the wolf pack being much better in this case. And is it MT killing, or WS killing?

  73. JimT says:


    Then you can’t be the Prince of Hideouts…~S~..I am relieved.

  74. JimT says:

    OK. Fantasy Time.

    If there were no public land welfare ranching in any of the West, would we be having this kind of tumult over wolves?

  75. gline says:

    Jim T: I think MT F&G sending in WS.. just talked with Liz Bradley, wolf coordinator for region 2 and left msg on Caroline Sime’s phone to express concern… and where was the owner re: the goat?

  76. JimT says:

    Who suggested returning servicemen and women are full of blood lust? What bunk…if anything, these poor kids are traumatized and deserve the best care they can get. We, as a country, have fallen far short of giving them what they need when they come home. That is a national shame.

    And this from a liberal who strongly opposed the Iraq war, and is not pleased with Obama for Afghanistan buildup. These kids deserve better, just like our generation deserved better in Vietnam. The soldiers, with the exception of folks responsible for My Lai, were the victims of higher ups and politics. When they come home, they should be taken care of, not demeaned.

  77. Alan says:

    “OK. So, if for wildlife management purposes it has been determined these animals need to be killed is it just the manner of death that you object to?”–TWB.
    Not entirely. I object to the reasons many animals are killed. I believe that Fish and Game (Wildlife and Parks, whatever they are calling themselves nowdays) should be primarily involved with protecting wildlife and habitat; not in its removal. Of course there are going to be exceptions, but those would be primarily public safety issues; and possibly an occassional depredation issue, but only when none lethal efforts have been exhausted. F&G BIOLOGISTS should set hunting seasons and determine quotas based on best available science and NOT to placate any special interest group (because well regulated fair chase hunting is a legitimate use of the resourse, regardless of what I or others think about hunting). The reason for this is that without hunting seasons and quotas we would have unregulated, year around hunting that would greatly damage the herds. Hunting seasons and quotas DO protect wildlife, except when they are arbitrary and capricious.
    All wildlife should be protected to some degree. I’m not saying that a property owner shouldn’t have the right to shoot a coyote that has set up residence under his front steps, or even a wolf in among his sheep; but situations like what happened to me last spring, when I and a few others were watching new born fox kits playing on a hillside miles from any human habitation and a couple of good old boys came along and shot every last one just’cause is wrong. What harm were they doing way out there? Hunting and protecting property are one thing, but that was just plain mean-spirited murder. Perfectly legal.
    I don’t accept the concept that native wildlife needs to be removed to protect other native wildlife, because nature is cyclic. As I stated above regarding district 310. Elk numbers there are way down. Given time, if the habitat is good, they will return. The wolves there will move on or die out. That’s how nature works. To paraphrase Yoda, “Always living in the present, people are!” All we can see is today. Just as many concluded after the 1988 conflagration in Yellowstone that the park was “gone”, destroyed, would never be the same; given time, we are most often proven wrong. Nature is resilient. We should cocentrate on protecting the habitat, not in killing wolves. There are far more elk in Montana now than there were forty or fifty years ago. Did our fathers and grandfathers cry about not being able to find an elk? Or were they just better hunters? Whether we are hunters or simply elk watchers, we have the option of driving a little further…..for a while.

  78. gline says:

    Actually JimT, I had brought up the correlation between war in Iraq (excuse me, Afganistan but same thing) and war at home on wildlife. I WAS NOT specifically stating returning servicewomen or men would be apt to do more killing on wildlife BECAUSE of war, that point was misconstrued on this blog. I was SIMPLY suggesting a correlation with violence and our country, how we deal with things in a violent way. IE war on wildlife too… dont like it, get rid of it- which did not evidently get understood.

  79. Wilderness Muse says:


    Probability analysis/statistics is its own branch of math science- thus we have a formal scientific discipline, which applies rigorous rules and techniques to explain the characteristics and expected distributions of data and outcomes against certain hypotheses applied in the real world. I am with you. We do the best we can with the tools we have.

    and gline

    Since we don’t know how many guard dogs/what breed and training, or how many wolves were involved in the skirmishes, or what the dogs were protecting and how they fared,…….we do not know whether the “guard” dogs were any good.

    It is possible the dog(s) in each case did their job extremely well, but if outnumbered as is more likely against a wolf pack, gave their life in that effort. Heck, maybe these were even somebody’s pets… the article does not say. And, from the article you posted, these wolves were given chance after chance and did not learn, which is why they were dispatched. So much for the learning and co-existance nojn-lethal technique.

  80. JimT says:

    Understand your point,gline. Thanks for clarifying.

    WM, we agree. Science must be sound and peer reviewed, and re-certified. Only then is it a reliable element of decision-making. Waiting for certainty is usually a lobbying or political tactic to justify doing or not doing something.

  81. JB says:

    “I would submit that in Western (the American West) culture the hunter and rancher are important parts of the social order.”

    Well, i guess that depends upon your definition of “social order”? Both groups certainly play a disproportionate role in wildlife management in the West (a fact that aggravates many of us). The appropriateness of that role is debatable; specifically, the benefits of current wildlife management policies are accrued by a relatively small portion of the population (i.e. livestock producers, hunters). Should wildlife management be directed at maintaining “traditional” benefits for hunters and livestock producers or maximizing benefits for a broader constituency (i.e. the “greatest good for the greatest number”, as Pinchot put it)?

  82. Talks with Bears says:

    JB – I should have used “social fabric” I think. I am not sure that I agree with your assertion that “Both groups play a disproportionate role in wildlife management” – take the wolf reintro situation, the prowolf groups are certainly well represented – not just here(on this blog) but, in the court room, in public opinion and in all state wildlife agencies.

  83. Wilderness Muse says:

    I expect this is a bit off topic, but since JB brought up the subject of “greatest good for the greatest number,” it is within scope.

    The term originally did not come from Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service. He merely applied a term from ethical theory called “Utilitarianism.” Most noted scholars of the theory were 1800’s English philosophers Jeremy Bentham (who reduced the concept to calculus of pleasure and pain), and Bentham’s student, John Stuart Mill, who wrote on the subject, in his book Utilitarianism.

    The following is an excerpt from promotional material for the 2007 film “The Greatest Good; a centennial film about the Forest Service.” It is illustrative of the tensions in natural resource management for a developing society dependent on sustained economic growth.

    “This statement is from a letter signed by Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson on February 1, 1905. It is addressed to “The Forester,” or the man in charge of newly created Forest Service. Gifford Pinchot was that “Forester” and it is generally assumed that he wrote the letter.

    Pinchot’s letter to himself is what we now call a “mission statement.” He outlines the purpose and goals of the Forest Service, but his formulation of “the greatest good” goes farther. It expresses a political philosophy and a professional ethic that the agency has tried to uphold throughout its one hundred year history.

    As the first federal land managers, the Forest Service faced many conflicting interests: cattle ranchers, shepherds, miners, loggers, homesteaders, developers of water for drinking, irrigation and hydropower, as well as those who favored no use of the national forests. Forest officers, given broad authority to make local decisions, were instructed to use the “greatest good” as a moral compass.

    The idea derives from English writer Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) whose philosophy is known as Utilitarianism. Bentham is credited with creating the phrase “the greatest good for the greatest number.” John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873) and others adopted the concept but Pinchot claims to have added “in the long run.” As Pinchot biographer Char Miller notes, foresters are trained to think over long-time horizons.

    At first glance, the idea of the Greatest Good appears democratic and egalitarian. Society should make choices that best serve the most people over time. Its appeal to early 20th century Progressives, like Pinchot and his mentor Theodore Roosevelt, is not surprising. But a vital question remains: Who determines the greatest good? This core dilemma (some might say fatal flaw) of the philosophy did not upset the Progressives.

    They trusted trained professionals, guided by science, to make the best decisions. Progressives viewed the unregulated destruction of the nation’s forests and waterways as an enormous waste and they believed that converting the nation’s wealth into vast personal fortunes was undemocratic and immoral. Scientific management was the answer. Government would apply a business-like efficiency to the development of resources and guarantee fair and wise use.

    “Use” is a key term of this philosophy. Utilitarianism implies “use.” The early Forest Service manual was called “The Use Book.” Conservation meant using nature for the benefit of people. For example, although Pinchot empathized with those “who do not like to see a tree cut down”, he noted, “you cannot practice forestry without it.” Consequently, many environmentalists in the latter decades of the 20th century disparaged the Forest Service’s brand of conservation, now called “multiple-use”, as just another form of development.

    Historians have traditionally contrasted Pinchot’s Utilitarianism with a strand of environmental thinking represented by John Muir. Like the New England Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau, Muir found God in nature; any exploitation of pristine landscapes was sacrilegious. The two worldviews collided over the decision to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. The split symbolizes the early and on-going rift between the conservation and preservation movements.

    Is the idea of the Greatest Good still valid? We posed this question to most of the 70 + interviewees for The Greatest Good documentary. They expressed a wide range of opinions. Some felt it has outlived its purpose, while others argued that as a general principle it adapts easily to changing circumstances. For example, society may decide that the “greatest good for the greatest number” includes the entire biosphere, not merely human needs; and the current buzzword “sustainability” is just another way of talking about “the long run.”

    We invite you to ask yourself: What is the greatest good?”—

  84. Robert Hoskins says:


    Who is “we”?


  85. Wilderness Muse says:


    It is part of the quote. I believe “we” refers to the film makers.

  86. Robert Hoskins says:

    I have to mostly agree with JB. Anyone who has spent time in the conservation trenches in the western states–in my case, Wyoming–can attest that the livestock industry not only plays a disproportionate role in wildlife management, wildlife management in most cases proceeds directly from the demands of the livestock industry, what I call an oligarchy for good political reasons, regardless of the larger public interest.

    One need only look at the subsidies that flow from state game and fish funds to ranchers–damage compensation, depredation hunts, fence building, man hours to deal with landowner conflicts, predator control, marketable hunting licenses, in Wyoming elk feedgrounds, etc–to understand just how corrupted wildlife management is from rancher influence.

    In the old days, say, before 1990, the only practical counter to rancher control of wildlife management came from organized and vocal hunters, primarily progressive hunters associated with state affiliates of the National Wildlife Federation. This counter has now been completely lost, largely because progressive hunters have significantly declined in numbers and the ones remaining have largely either given up or lost their voices, while right wing hunters have been organized (e.g., Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a front for landowners and outfitters interested in commercializing wildlife that recruits naive hunters with anti-predator propaganda) to demand even more intensive, agricultural management of big game animals that can only lead to more privatization and commercialization. In other words, thanks to ranchers and landowners, the North American Model of Wildlife Management is today more an empty shell than a reality. That’s why we hear so much about the NAM in propaganda these days; it’s gone. When we had it and it was working, you didn’t hear much about it.

    We see this problem of rancher control most clearly with Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds, which, aside from being disease hazards, are no different from game ranches or farms that keep big game at maximum, ecologically unsustainable levels. At the same time, we have seen an end to strategic purchases of land as public wildlife habitat areas, mostly vital natural forage winter ranges, and a shift to programs to increase income to landowners over time (conservation “incentives” for ranch hunting programs, block management, etc.) that leave landowners in charge of wildlife management decisions.

    In Wyoming, we saw a dramatic halt of land purchases by the G&F Department after in 1991 it made the Spence Moriarity purchase in the East Fork of the Wind River, just up the road from where I live, that made the existing G&F-owned wildlife habitat management area double the size of the National Elk Refuge. The Stockgrowers had a fit over the purchase, claiming it took agricultural land out of production, a truly false claim, and used its displeasure over the purchase to put a halt to land purchases by G&F by the simple expedient of passing a law that shifted appointment authority of the G&F Director from the Commission to the Governor. This gave the Governor, not the Commission, practical control over the G&F budget, including the habitat acquisition budget, which means that in effect the Stockgrowers had control over the G&F budget, since the Stockgrowers control the Wyoming Governor. (That gubanatorial control, by the way, is the force behind the state of Wyoming’s seemingly irrational defense of dual status wolf management. Dual status is what the Stockgrowers Association and its members want, mainly for political reasons).

    It is truly a rare thing these days to see a state wildlife agency oppose a demand of ranchers and landowners. And hunters, by and large, have allowed it to happen. Defense of the public trust has now fallen to conservation organizations not associated with hunting groups.


  87. Talks with Bears says:

    Clearly, the status of the wolf in the Northern Rockies – is “fully recovered”. This is not based on anything other than the facts. Each day on this site, thanks to Ralph and others, we are able to learn about wide ranging control actions and hunting. Other resources allow us to learn about continued wolf depredation and interaction with other wildlife. My point is that the prowolf people have won – the reintro has been a huge success and no one in a position of authority (say state wildlife departments) is talking about exterminating all wolves. Now, I know some of the legal scholars out there will want to talk about lawsuits – they can talk all they want but, the facts – what humans, wolves and other wildlife are currently living is proof that wolves are back in numbers that are sustainable with other living creatures. The single issue prowolf folks know how to win, they just have no idea how to be winners and that I submit is why public opinion is and will continue to turn against the wolf.

  88. Alan says:

    I would argue that the wolf, or the grizzly bear for that matter, will never be “fully recovered”. The arguement, therefore, is about at what point we consider them “acceptably recovered” or even more importantly “sustainably recovered”.

  89. Robert Hoskins says:

    Alan is right. With Wildlife Services slaughtering wolves on call throughout the rather limited “recovery area,” considering the original range of the wolf in North America, and state wildlife agencies pushing ridiculously low ceilings on wolf numbers and distribution, as is especially the case here in Wyoming, I would hardly describe the situation as one which “pro-wolf” conservationists have won.

    In fact, what we are doing is fighting a difficult rear-guard action against some pretty powerful antagonists determined to keep wolves (not to mention bears, bison, and elk) in the equivalent of zoos.


  90. Talks with Bears,

    There is a legitimate argument whether wolves are recovered in the 3-state (formerly named) “experimental recovery zone.” That will be settled in Montana’s federal court (I hope).

    As far as being “fully recovered,” that is your word, I’m not sure what that means.

    To me, however, that would mean a stable wolf population (stable within the bounds of natural variations) in the entire West. I don’t know that such a full recovery is biologically or politically feasible.

    However, I am encouraged to see the spread of colonizing wolves into Oregon and Washington, especially because in the Washington the Lookout Pack near Twisp is on the outskirts of the Cascades. There are also increasing numbers of probable reports of wolves in the Oregon Cascade Mountains.

    If I had my choice between 1500 wolves distributed as they are now, or 1500 wolves scattered over Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, northern Nevada, Oregon and Washington; I’d take the larger group of states.

  91. Talks with Bears says:

    Ralph/Alan – I think we may all agree – fully recovered – the wolf can sustain population with minimal disruption within the human/wildlife interface, my thoughts. I’m with you Ralph on the larger number of states – any chance we can get the wolves on board?

  92. Talks with Bears says:

    Robert – it appears we will have to disagree. And I thought I was golden on this one – oh well.

  93. Alan says:

    “I’m with you Ralph on the larger number of states – any chance we can get the wolves on board?”
    How about if we stop shooting them for awhile and let them disperse more before we have hunts?

  94. Robert Hoskins says:

    Talks with Bears

    If you actually talked with bears you might think differently.


  95. Talks with Bears says:

    Robert – maybe I should change my screen name to “Hangs out with Bears” – more accurate.

  96. Si'vet says:

    When we talk about North America are we talking about the 40,000+ wolves living Canada. Is 40,000 really a number that is considered endangered, or genetically not diverse enough. How much tax payer money was spent on bringing back the wolf from the brink of 40,000?? Or was the ESA for wolves used as a fund raiser/political tool to shut down hunting? Bacically millions were spent on “relocation”.. Read the blogs, listen to the retoric, who do you think hunters feel are more antagonistic towards them, ranchers or prowolf people, simple deduction. For many years I and other hunters were actually working at odds with public grazing, now we are seeing them as sort of an ali and looking at ways to work with them.

  97. Talks with Bears says:

    Si’vet – great point – thanks for your input.

  98. JB says:

    “The single issue prowolf folks know how to win, they just have no idea how to be winners and that I submit is why public opinion is and will continue to turn against the wolf.”

    People oppose and support wolves for a lot of reasons. The FWS has claimed that removing wolves from endangered species protections will actually promote “tolerance” (i.e. reduced opposition) for wolves; they used the same argument with grizzlies. I disagree. The vast majority of people who oppose wolves now opposed them before the reintroduction and will continue to oppose them until the last one is removed. Their opposition is rooted in a value system that views wolves as an anathema; the fact that liberals and easterners like wolves only increases their loathsomeness. Management is their mantra, and it means only one thing: killing.

    All state “management” will do in the short term is facilitate the killing of more wolves, as state management agencies seek to pacify ultra-conservative politicians, livestock producers, and the SFW-style “hunters”. Under state management interested individuals from outside of these states will have no voice in wolf conservation and management decisions. In the end, the states will simply manage wolves for the minimum population they believe they can legally get away with, under the auspices of “tolerance” creation.

  99. Ken Cole says:

    We’re talking about the Northern Rockies within the boundaries of the US.

  100. JB says:


    The purpose of the ESA is to protect endangered species AND the ecosystems on which those species depend. As I’m sure you recognize, a species may be plentiful in one area and extinct in another. The ESA takes this into consideration by providing for protections for a species threatened with extinction in either all OR a “significant portion” of its range. The conterminous U.S. constitutes a “significant” portion of wolves range, no matter what definition you apply.

    Using your logic, we would never need to restore species to their native habitat so long as healthy populations existed somehere else.

  101. Si’vet wrote: “Read the blogs, listen to the retoric, who do you think hunters feel are more antagonistic towards them, ranchers or prowolf people, simple deduction.”

    I don’t think there are any rancher blogs. That’s because there are so few real ranchers — that is people who make a living full time from running livestock on the open range with a base property (“the ranch”).

  102. Si’vet,

    I don’t like being told I should have to go to Canada if I want to see some kind of wildlife when it is perfectly feasible to have them here in Idaho.

  103. Si'vet says:

    So are the wolves in Canada the same or different?? Do the Northern Rockies stop a little north of Kalispel? Have these boundries been explained to the wolves. Who is “we’re,” and how can you exclude 40,0000 wolves with an imaginary boundry. Though not a long time member I guess I am a SFW type hunter, who donates time and $$ for all wildlife, I hunt and vote. It’s confusing, when the argument is, the reintroduced or relocated wolf is a Canadian wolf not native, the fire storm hits, and we’re told they are the same, then when it comes to genetic diversity, dispersal and endangerment they aren’t the same.

  104. Si’vt,
    In the Endangered Species Act, endangered refers to species that are “in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” while threatened refers to “those animals and plants likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges. The boldface is mine.

    Since the mid-1970s, the gray wolf has been classified as “endangered” in the Western United States. That is a significant portion of its range.

  105. Si'vet says:

    Part of Glacier National Park is located in Montana, and according to one of the forums we both attended the wolves were moving further south, correct? I guess it’s how you interpret range. What stopped wolves from continuing south? It’s ok if I and others have to travel travel long distances to see elk, moose, deer, as their numbers continue to tumble. A two way street right? Ralph your were just kidding with regards to the ranchers not having a home base, and running livestock on open range right? We both know I could bury this blog with names and addresses of people who make their living ranching, with a beautiful home base. Yes JB you hit “my logic” right on the head, I alway’s phrase my logic in the form of a question.

  106. Si'vet says:

    Ralph side bar, what’s your take on keeping 70 a draw. I ruffled the local outdoor writers feathers a few weeks ago, and now he hates me, but still want’s input.

  107. JB says:

    Sorry, I was reading between the lines. If I mis-read the tone of your statement, perhaps you wish to clarify?

  108. JEFF E says:

    you posted your contact info recently but I can not find it. Could you okay Ralph to send it to me.
    (back to your regularly scheduled program)

  109. Si’vet,

    Yes, as you said there were already wolves moving into Glacier National Park and NW Montana in general. So why not let them just recolonize by moving southward?

    That might have worked but.

    1. It is slow.
    2. Recovering wolves under legally fully endangered status has much harsher rules than the “experimental, non-essential” status by which they came to Yellowstone and central Idaho.
    3. If wolves or any other animal is recovered from a small “founder” population, the genetic diversity of even a large recovered population is low. The current genetic diversity is just terrific because the wolves that were brought in came from a number of packs. Half were from B.C. and half from Alberta.
    – – – – –
    I think I didn’t make my point about the ranchers. I didn’t say there weren’t any full time ranchers. I said there weren’t enough of them to have the blogs and things you referred to. I doubt many are saying warm and fuzzy things about hunters. It’s more likely “damn hunters . . . left my gate open.”

  110. JB says:

    Jeff E: Certainly. I’m happy to chat anytime.

  111. ProWolf in WY says:

    Si’vet, the 40,000 number is missing the point entirely. Yes, there are plenty of wolves in Canada and Alaska and they never have been endangered there. Nobody with a junior high education will probably deny that. However, wolves were extirpated from the lower 48. That means they are locally endangered. Wolves were an important part of the ecosystem. Wolves have a rightful place in their former haunts. Sure wolves cannot be reintroduced everywhere. Obviously they cannot be put back in most of the Midwest for example. The point is that when an animal is extirpated in an area, reintroducing it when feasible is in a way, righting a wrong. Call me a radical, but I think animals should be reintroduced wherever suitable habitat remains, and there is plenty of suitable wolf and grizzly bear habitat in the lower 48.

  112. Si'vet says:

    Prowolf, I guess here in lies the rub. I think you are missing the point. The ESA gave some specific recovery numbers, and those numbers have been met and exceeded, short of Wy. meeting the management criteria, there’s not much the feds won’t agree on. And through all the prowolf blogs, and antihunter information the uninformed citizen thinks that if this reintroduction fails that the “Rocky Mountain grey wolf” will be gone forever. And in fact there is a thriving genetic diverse population in excess of 40,000 that resides in easy reach, and to heck with finding a balance, between ranchers, and outdoorsman who many harvest few animals, and support all wildlife, not all but many. If you disagree, I would be happy to set up a booth in any mall in America, we can conduct a survey like pepsi or tide, loser submits an article in 3 papers, winners choice supporting the others beliefs. Ralph: I agree why didn’t we just let them naturally recolonize instead of interfering “again” protect them, and let them find their nitche.

  113. Si’vet,
    ++Ralph: I agree why didn’t we just let them naturally recolonize instead of interfering “again” protect them, and let them find their nitche.

    I’m willing to go for natural recolonization of Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada. Colorado may need some help, especially with all the CWD.

    Did you see the article we posted showing that cougar seem to be able to see the deer or elk with the disease and take them disproportionately, I think wolves would do any even better job curbing chronic wasting disease.

    So here’s to healthy and wild deer and elk herds!

  114. Si'vet says:

    Ralph real quick on unit 70, draw or not, have meeting near future, your thoughts

  115. Si’vet

    You must live in or near Pocatello!

    For those unfamilar, unit 70 is is hunting unit just south of Pocatello.
    – – – – –
    Revision of my first comment:

    Thinking some more about this. I think I’d rather see a general hunt with the controlled hunts reduced. This would mean a shorter season because of the population pressure, but what is the point of the controlled hunts in the unit anyway?

  116. Si'vet says:

    Not for 09— 08, 105 filled, 70 unfilled. Of the 70 at least 14 of us by choice, (trophy hunters).. i won’t have 09 for a couple of months.

  117. ProWolf in WY says:

    Si’vet, most scientists agree that the original recovery goals were too small. Anyone can see it is a political move meant to placate ranchers and to a smaller extant hunters. You are right, the gray wolf subspecies occidentalis is not in danger of becoming extinct as a whole. However, it is endangered in a significant portion of its range as Ralph had said. Therefore, restoration is necessary. I do agree that natural recolonization is reasonable in states like Utah, Washington, and Oregon. It is probably not practical in Colorado which could support lots of wolves.

  118. Well if you hunt trophies, what is your self-interest? My comment above was based on the idea that this is a unit for local hunters.

  119. Si'vet says:

    Prowolf, most scientist are basing their decision on what?? A computer generated model?? The same model that came up with, wolves need X amount of protein a year which equates into x number of elk per year, failing to take into consideration that each 35 lb. calf is an elk. I’ll pass on most scientific analagies from computer generated models. And stick with what I see, day in and day out in the field. Not scientific but I’ve found very realistic.
    Ralph, my interest is mule deer recovery in SE Idaho, for all to enjoy, hunters, trail riders, hikers etc. even prowolf folks. I hunt for a specific reasons, and just killing isn’t one of them. If I wanted to just kill a Trophy class mule deer by Idaho F&G standards I would be in the field about an hour. It’s about a lot more than that.

  120. timz says:

    “Ralph, my interest is mule deer recovery in SE Idaho”

    Well please feel free to come to my neck of the woods and take a few. It’s stressfull dodging them on my commute to and from work.

  121. Si’vet

    Well I think that’s good that isn’t just about killing a deer. Hunting should be more than that.

    I gave up hunting because I just liked the outdoors. I also didn’t like dressing the deer. I don’t know if you saw my comment on my job killing animals in veternary science sucking out my interest in hunting.

    I go out for 3 or 4 hours almost every day. That’s why moderation sometimes lags, and this blog is getting in the way of longer trips unless Ken and Brian can take over.

  122. timz,

    It is the same here. I have deer standing out on my property tonight. It is -4. I have tried to restore native vegetation, but they do get in the road.

  123. Si'vet says:

    If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has experienced recovery thanks to efforts of sportsman organization, local folks and management please contact your local F&G and let them know they need to look into you area for some increased opportunities. Do you know if the local chapter of SFW has looked into fencing along your commute route, if not post here I can ask them to check into it. SE F&G district office number 208-232-4703 ask for Toby Beadroux, guaranteed a return call if he’s not in.

  124. timz says:

    I drive Idaho 21 daily from Idaho City to Boise. Most days in the winter I see as many as 100 deer and 30 – 40 elk near the highway. Unfortunately sometimes dead on the highway. But there is a lot of critical winter range alont that strech so what are you going to do. The state sometimes increases patrols to keep the speeding down so fewer are killed, which I would like to see more of. But resources…..

  125. Si'vet says:

    Timz, the only answer is fencing, I love the state of Idaho but highway fencing is not one of their strong suits. It takes a lot of coaxing and begging to get much done. The local SFW chapter here has been a huge player in orchestrating fencing along interstate 15. Sean Mottishaw has pounded on hundreds of doors and worn out his welcome in many establishments raising funds for this behemouth task. The posts are set, all thats left is stringing the wire it’s awesome when you realize the lives human and animal this project will save, not counting the $$$. Yes the SFW holds fund raisers in the name of predator derby’s, but with little disturbance to the predators funds will be raised. Go to the howling for justice website, they have all your local contacts for SFW posted (for other reasons) but I suspect SFW would be very interested in following up on your concerns with regards to mule deer.

  126. timz says:

    You would be amazed at how much of it is already fenced and how the deer (and coyotes, etc) jump right ovger them.
    And no offense but I don’t like fences. Maybe wildlife overpasses or something.

  127. I know Toby Beadroux. I’ll call him.

    I think what we need in our area is a sign on the road. There about 5 deer that regularly cross it, and this small herd has been there 2 to ?? in number for about 3 years. I have not seen any of them hit. There are very good at crossing the road, but a lot of people don’t expect to see them. They cross in a very specific place. Their luck and ability won’t hold out.

  128. JB says:

    “…the uninformed citizen thinks that if this reintroduction fails that the “Rocky Mountain grey wolf” will be gone forever. And in fact there is a thriving genetic diverse population in excess of 40,000 that resides in easy reach…”

    Let me ask you a question. If elk were locally extinct in Idaho, would it be good enough for you to go to Montana or Wyoming to see/hunt them, and leave Idaho for the livestock?

  129. Si'vet says:

    If the populations in those states were STABLE absolutely. For 13 yrs. I and my boy’s drove 545 miles one way to hunt mule deer because of a severe winter in 1992 that reduced numbers to low in our previous area, this area has had a very slow recovery. In those 13yrs. we harvested 4 deer. I don’t know how to answer the question with regards to livestock, you see just like Canada there are invisible boundry’s seperating the areas, if they were islands I might understand the question better.

  130. JimT says:


    There has been an idea floated around here to use solar powered motion detector lights where areas of frequent deer crossings occur; could be just lights that light up to alert drivers, or could illuminate the road. Cheaper than tunneling. Just a thought if you talk to your friend.

  131. JB says:

    This is where we’ll have to disagree. I believe in restoring fauna and flora (where feasible) to their native range. Doing so not only provides benefits (e.g. hunting, wildlife viewing) to local residents, it also helps protect against species-level extinction that becomes more probable when local populations disappear. Without reintroduction efforts, MANY of the species we commonly hunt would not be locally available to the extent that they are.

    Leopold’s quote seems apt:

    “Relegating grizzlies to Alaska is about like relegating happiness to heaven; one may never get there”.
    – Aldo Leopold, 1948

  132. Si'vet says:

    JB, apparently we don’t communicate, or understand each other very well. I must have misinterpreted your question and you certainly misinterpreted my answer. I not only believe in giving back, when it comes to: putting up highway fencing, harvesting sage brush, planting sagebrush, swinging a polaski into lava rock, collaring sage hens, collaring fawns, collaring lions, hanging wood duck boxes, sheeting goose box posts, meeting with BLM managers, working controled burns, repairing cedar wax wing nests, and putting up with barn swallows, and financially supporting as many worth while organizations as I can afford, I take a back seat to no one. I don’t own a 4 wheeler or snow machine, I do have a 1966 honda 90. I trophy hunt, I hunt predators, I hunt areas most people won’t. I hunt a lot and harvest little, my choice. I respect and admire the animals I hunt and will go to great lengths to preserve them. I wasn’t raised by beer swilling, gun toting parents who shot’em all and let God sort’em out. My parents were teachers who think there is only a left side to a ballot, and they never owned a gun. I am not alone, even though the overall number of hunters are trending downward, those of us who are passionate about what we do is growing. I grew up within 1 1/2 days ride on a 25.00$ Western Auto single speed bike from the West entrance to Yellowstone Park. And still live within 1 1/2 days ride on a 5000$ bike. I am glad you brought up the grizzly because you now have an idea where I grew up and where I started walking the woods. The grizzly has had some; but in comparison to wolves little controversy on it’s recovery. Yes there have been conflicts, issues etc. But the growth has been at a rate that most of us who share the woods are comfortable with, and hold little or no animosity towards it and it’s supporters. And as your study’s show and we all know, bears eat elk, deer, each other etc. one of the big issues for most of us is the fact we feel like wolves are being forced down our throats, and if we don’t swallow it, we are a gun toting, blood thirsty bunch, who hate our mothers. The numbers originally agreed on are not enough, and those of us who are out there are seeing the dizzing affects from the numbers we have. Let me dispell a few rumors that I have personally witnessed. Wolves kill only the weak and the sick, the winters in and around most of Idaho take care of the weak and the sick, and many of the healthy. If you all spend as much time in the woods as you say, when’s the last time you saw enough weak and sick animals to sustain a pack of 5 for more than a couple of days. The woods are’nt full of sick and weak animals, wolves are opportunists and which ever animal makes the wrong move or get’s cornered is prey. ..Wolves make elk act like elk, some what true, in many areas the elk have moved in to areas where 150 or so years ago they would be safer, where does that put them today, in the middle of a grain field, next to a busy highway, subject to depredation hunts… Harder to hunt, a little, mostly because of the drop in numbers, and I refuse to hunt in a grain field. Lastly my favorite, elk numbers are flourishing with the introduction of the wolf, who’s kidding who, more cats less mice, more preying mantis, less bugs, etc. For those of you who think Yellowstone Park Zoo with it’s controlled enviroment is indicitive of rest of the region you are naive. If in 5 yrs there are more elk and elk hunting and watching opportunity’s in Idaho, I will come back on here and apologize and admit I was dead wrong. In an ealier blog I mentioned that I had originally been at odds with grazing and some ranching practices etc. Having read and participated on this web site, so as to try and get and understanding of your positions, it is clear to me that working with the rancher and farmers, more closely, I stand a better chance of preserving what I enjoy doing for a longer stretch down the road. Farwell

  133. Wilderness Muse says:


    Just read your post, and from your last word gather you are leaving the conversation. I urge you to stay, areas of disagreement with certain posters acknowledged. I have been participating since July, and have been battered pretty good for my views. I have also dished it out, with civility of course.

    It is a great place to gain knowledge, and stay current on complex and ever-changing issues, you will certainly not get elsewhere. Ralph (with help from Ken and Brian) does a fantastic job of raising issues, offering articles and, of course advocating for passions, and even redirecting a conversation when necessary.

    There will always be skirmishes, and misunderstandings with certain posters, sometimes unintended by any of the parties. Occasionally you will get set up, or baited. It goes with the territory.

    Some posters have areas of disagreement that will likely never be resolved. There are other areas in which shared knowledge at least provides the basis for views to change. I have learned alot, changed some of my own views, and also hope others have been influenced by my own contributions – either adding facts, or reasoning thru an issue. There are some very smart and dedicated personalities who contribute here, and offer thought provoking positions.

    Do stay and offer another voice. You seem like a knowledgeable person who thinks through things. By the way, I don’t agree with you on some of the predator hunting stuff. So what!

  134. ProWolf in WY says:

    Si’vet, scientists are in the field and doing these models on the computer. What else are the supposed to do, start interviewing the wildlife? I agree that the methods are not perfect but I’m not seeing much else they can do. The DNA argument holds water in that you cannot have a small population of 100 wolves isolated and expect them to remain healthy in the long run. A larger population with connections to other populations is important. Also, what do you mean by each 35 pound calf is an elk?


December 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey