Yet another plane crash for wildlife counters

These 2 were not as lucky as the Idaho counters/wolf darters-

Fish and Wildlife plane crash in Oregon kills 2. AP





  1. mikepost Avatar

    In the 45 days, this is 3 crashes in the US, two with multiple fatalities involving both helicopters and fixed wing doing surveys. Is there something going on here regarding biological survey methodology and the use of aircraft in remote areas? To my knowledge nothing was weather related in any crash.

  2. Nature rules Avatar
    Nature rules

    It is amazing our government will risk human lives for this type of garbage. they value nothing!

  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    mikepost, I’ve heard about this one and the IDFG one. Where was the other crash?

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Ken Cole,

    There have been Wildlife Services crashes lately too.

    Flying low over rough terrain is inherently dangerous.

  5. mikepost Avatar

    Ken, 3 biologist fatalities (plus pilot) in northern california doing deer counts by helicopter.

  6. Mgulo Avatar

    Check the weather on the Oregon crash. Stormy, rainy and low light.

    At least one of the California crashes related to unmarked powerlines. Hard to see in steep-walled canyons.

    Low-level flights in small aircraft are inherently dangerous, as someone noted above. I have lost several friends and many colleagues this way over the years. Low and slow may be the way to count but it ain’t the way to live another day.

    The question is whether knowing non-critical wildife numbers is worth the expense and risk. As a verteran of many such excursions, I really have to question that these days. There are other ways to gather the information but, in many cases “We’ve been doing it this way for years and we want to continue the data points the same way.”

    So they continue to fly….

  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I once worked for an Idaho wildlife biologist that had a pilot’s license. He made an arrangement with the contractor owning the leased super-cub to let him fly the plane on bighorn sheep surveys. (I am sure this was not approved by our employer) I was in the back seat of the super-cub as the observer. When I got a little air sick from the bumpy ride over the Lost River Range in Idaho and told the biologist I was about to upchuck, he found a smooth ridge high up on the mountains behind Mt. Borah and landed so I could let my stomach recover. What seemed like a great adventure forty years ago, looks pretty stupid in hindsight.
    I think that some of these guys (pilots and biologists) think they are invincible and take risks that get people killed.

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

    All –
    The most recent USFWS fixed wing accident occured during a mid-winter migratory bird count. I suspect that “Nature rules” would not consider such data collection “garbage” and therfore didn’t read the article.
    The Cal Fish and Game fixed wing accident occured during deer survey work – contributing to a routine data base for contemporary wildlife management decision making.
    The IDFG helicopter accident (being investigated by the NTSB) occurred during radio-telemetry work for elk, moose and wolves in the Clearwater Drainage country (Moose Creek) to ensure that the IDFG has reliable population size and movement data to support management decisions for each of those species.
    Ralph is right – most flying for wildlife management purposes, in the intermountain west and elsewhere , occurs over remote and rugged terrain and is inherently dangerous. In my experience, each agency is keenly aware of the cost and risk of aerial work and does weigh the benefits and need for those data against the potential negatives. There may be a reduction in aerial surveys and monitoring of wildlife in the near future – for a variety of reasons – increasing expense, inadequate wildlife management funding, employee safety. If reductions do occur it will happen at the expense of the best scientific information for wildlife management decisions.

  9. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    YNP was probably about the epicenter of lower 48 states biologist survey and research flights. What I saw was some good and more so bad.

    For some biologists it can be some pretty image flattering stuff…thus they think of many ways to justify spending public funds so they can get some status enhancing aerial time in. Merlin Perkins’ Mutual of Omaha series was a bit too much for some to resist doing it themselves.

    One notable researcher wanted to net buffalo from a helicopter in YNP. I have no idea why YNP biologists allowed this kind of thing. The study was a multi year endeavor and had a limit of 8 or so mortalies built into this “sound science” project. Well, overheating of paniced bison being totally incapacitated with nets meant problems were seen from the beginnings. Well like, da.
    But science and the supposed need for MSG’s “best scientific information” meant justifying 6 of the eight deaths in one season before it was put to a stop….but not before a lot of resistance by those scientists.

    Flying, too many times, meant a lot of roaring planes circling and circling multiple drainages, It was not compatable with anyones wilderness experience…whether back packers, horsemen or myself. A little bit I could see but every day for weeks on end?? The flights were always early morning and were particularly disturbing when the harmony of fog and land was most satisfying.

    And when one crashed there were thousands and thousands of hours spent taking bodies out, search teams etc, etc. It just isn’t worth it folks. Merlin Perkins aura permeates too many status hungry whimpodites. Not all, but too many to make it worth it….And when the pressure is on to justify political means and personal advancement the counts were always up for suspect interpretation.

    I remember one biologist who wore his wolf skin fur parka on the plane in way too warm of weather just because he liked the Alaskan bush pilot-researcher image. Tell me he could accurately assess the need for a lot of those flights?

    I’d say MSG’s are always going to promote the need for bush pilot work whether they are the ones actually flying or not. They figure it makes the position more elite and romantic….and getting out of the office to rub shoulders with someone coming out of that plane or even talking “horse” around the conference table tempers the status…or lack of it…. associated with the paper shredder making noise in the background, justifies all.

    Please, please don’t give me all this rambo stuff as all neccessary. Some yes but a lot, no.

  10. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    How is pitman-robertson and other federal tax money distributed to the various state agencies? Is there pressure to show higher than actual big game counts in order to get the money? Long ago I overheard a regional game biologist and a rep from the BLM and I thought they were agreeing to submit higher counts on elk and deer than there really were in order to qualify for more money.

  11. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Not to get too much into Mark Gamblin’s business, but to my knowledge Pittman-Robertson funding has absolutely nothing to do with wildlife counts of any type. Maybe the folks you overheard talking were talking about another program.

    Rather, the Pittman Robertson tax funding is generated from an exise tax levied on firearms/ammunition, bow/arrow and accessories manufacturers at the source. These funds are put into an interest bearing account and allocated to states according to formulas set forth in the statute. The funds can be used for basically two functions, wildlife projects (plan based) and hunter safety. The allocation formula is based EXCLUSIVELY on land area in the state and number of hunting licenses sold during the previous year. There is also a special provision for hunter safety programs that is based on state population.

    It is a matching program, so that in order to receive funds generated by the tax, the state must match 25% to the 75% offered under the P-R program.

    Here is a link to a very informative flowchart that shows the revenue sources and generally how they are allocated to wildlfie projects and hunter safety, with the feds picking off a certain amount for program administration and competitive grants among the states, as well as a special allocation for wetlands.

    Here is a link to the preliminary allocation available for FY 2010 which began on Oct 1, 2009, and distributes $335M in funds to all the states.

    There may be other minor P-R funding provisons, that someone else can detail, but that is the basic program as most understand it.

  12. Si'vet Avatar

    Larry, “overheard” remember the game in grade school in the sixties, where one person whispered in another person ear down the line “and’ the answer. Come on, your an awesome photographer, my wife worships you, keep it real.

  13. mikepost Avatar

    As a commander of a light turbine helo operation for almost 10 years doing law enforcement, fire support and swift water rescue I can state without a doubt that leaving the decision about whether a certain type of flight is safe or not in the hands of the pilot is fraught with peril, particularly when there is pressure to get the job done. I would never disagree with a pilot who said he thought something was unsafe, but many times I would shut down an operation that everyone involved (including the pilot) thought was OK even if it stretched the limits.
    I would suggest that the lack of independant safety evaluations by aviation knowledgable managers is one of the issues here. If it is not safe to do in a controlled training environment, its really not safe in the field.

  14. Si'vet Avatar

    mikepost, even way out west the call is still the pilots. The difference, there not just flying over freeways and subdivisions. I know pilots who contract with WS and F&G there isn’t an ounce of pressure, if there not comfortable. the fly dosen’t happen.. The pilot makes the call.. end of story

  15. mikepost Avatar

    Si’vet: you are very niave. If you ever have had to deal with pilots you will know that there is always the urge to go the extra mile, to even see if that helo will fly upside down. Yes, the call to shut down is always theirs, the call to go should not be. I have flown critter count flights, and I have recommended shut downs. Death has a way of giving you a different perspective. Pilots are subject to all the human frailties that the rest of us are and more. Thats why there are no old bold pilots.

  16. Si'vet Avatar

    Mikepost, Ive been called naive and wet behind the ears. oh well. If your flying with contract pilots who are flying upside, on regular calls, remind them that it’s 8 hrs from bottle to throttle. I have neither witnessed or been apart of a flight that a pilot, maxxed G forces, hmm, I can speak the speak. If you have actually been on wildlife flights then you know, there is no emergency “like rescues” it’s we have game to count in December or we have a pack of wolves to control during this period. Why, even in the best of times liability issues and law suits are huge. Let’s rethink the naive issue

  17. mikepost Avatar

    Pilots are pilots. If they did not have that love of flying they would be doing something else and making more money. They deserve all the insulation we can give them from corporate and mission generated pressure to do things “on the edge” of safety. I have seen biologists in a state of confusion because safety conditions changed but there was only this one window in the flight schedule and/or budget or it would be too late to capture the data or the critters next time. Every user of aviation resources needs to be sure they are not pushing the pilot, even subliminaly, to go further than they should. When the crash frequency begins to decline we will know that life safety has taken control over mission and contracts and the naivite has faded…

  18. Si'vet Avatar

    Mikepost, do to hard work, I live in a high end neighborhood filled with psycopathic doctors who donate 100’s of hours to people in need who are hunters. One close neighbor/subdivision treasure, is a pilot, “helo pilot” who fly’s for a large hospital “and” contract fly’s as well. In between posts had a chance to talk with him. If you have the patients to fill out and, sign off on the mounds of paper work, with regards to safety/liabilty and pass the check rides you have a shot of being accepted. He said being accepted to fly for governmental wildlife missions is almost tougher than qualifying for life flight runs. He has 21,000 hrs. since Nam. I asked him specifically have you ever be under the gun to fly in unsafe conditions, his reply, hell no, wouldn’t if I had been. He said most of the biologist or control people he has flown have spent very little time “up” and are very cautious, and never, doubt his call..

  19. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I have to agree with Mike. You may want to believe in professional safety as number one but if it were there would actually be very little flying done ever in the mts. …especially by those needing to get action close to the ground. Too many down drafts etc. We had planes all over my area of the country….shoes wjth bones still in them, biologists not found for two years and millions of dollars of search and overhead. Mts by nature are dangerous for those in the air and biologists do want and think they need to push the envelope when schedules can’t be met. otherwise.

  20. Si'vet Avatar

    Bob, of cousre yo do, by doing so it keeps these government agency’s in a negative light. For many that’s there goal here. All I did was get a response straight from the horses mouth.

  21. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Larry –
    WM is correct. The apportionment formula for P-R and D-J (fishery management) funds is based on the number of licenses sold and the land area (square miles e.g.) of the state. There is no incentive to inflate wildlife numbers in order to get more P-R funds.

  22. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    All –
    As I noted above, the recent IDFG Moose Creek helicopter accident (and to my understanding every aircraft accident under similar circumstances) is now under investigation by the NTSB. When the report is out, I will get it to anyone who is interested. I believe the few accidents we have experienced during my carreer have been due to mechanical failures of different types. Biologists and pilots that I have worked with are very conservative about fly – don’t fly decisions. The awareness of risk and danger is very high.

  23. mikepost Avatar

    Sivet: of course there are many pilots who are 100% professional and never let outside influences affect their judgement. Your neighbor, by virtue of still being alive and flying is probably one of those. My point is that anyone responsible for these types of flights should not depend upon the luck of the draw and just assume that the involved pilots won’t do anything unsafe. Nothing here is intended to impune the reputation of pilots involved in wildlife work, just make things safer for the future thru some candid discussion.

    Mark: nation wide for all such events “pilot error” is the predominant cause of aircraft crashes. Many times this is initially disguised as a “mechanical” when in fact it was due to things like poor/non-existent preflight inspection, unauthorized damage inducing operation of the ship, etc. The California fatalities involved a wire strike in clear weather on a power line that has been there for decades in an area all were familiar with.

  24. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    mikepost –
    Are those conclusions – pilot error initially disguised as a “mechanical” when in fact it was due to things like poor/non-existent preflight inspection, unauthorized damage inducing operation of the ship, etc. – included in NTSB reports (or other investigative reports)?

  25. Si'vet Avatar

    Mikepost, good post I agree. Only use the best.

  26. Si'vet Avatar

    Mark, I know that you have a set fly budget, and with the increase in flying to monitor wolves that budget may be too extended, and corners could be cut. Hunting in idaho is too cheap. Add 5.00$ to all game tags including wolves. Utilize the best pilots and equipment available. It will make it cheaper in the long run. I know getting any increase in fee’s is a tough row to hoe. But it is time.

  27. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    The need to capture wolves from helicopters for collaring/monitoring purposes in ID is almost non-existent, especially in the Wilderness. There is no new information to be gained from this. It’s very probable that wolf packs in the Wilderness behave in the same ways as the wolves outside of Wilderness. With 88 packs documented, probably the majority of them with collared animals, in 2008 alone (and all those packs studied/monitored since the recovery’s inception in 1995), there is ample data on which to base management decisions. Since ID is responsible to maintain only 10 packs, they should easily be able to keep that minimum under tabs.

  28. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Jay Barr –
    The need for new information goes beyond the knowledge that wolves behave similarly inside and outside wilderness boundaries or that we have previously documented 88 wolf packs. Wolves are an actively managed species, for specific population management objectives. That requires continuous knowledge of current wolf numbers. Wolves are not the only species being surveyed for population information. Your assumption that there is ample data on which to base management decisions – is mistaken.
    These flights are also collecting data, for the same management needs, for deer, elk and moose populations.

  29. mikepost Avatar

    Mark: I would say “yes”, normally their reports are very thorough.

    Jay: my experience with elk collaring is that it is important to see what the animal behavior is as public policy and land use changes. For instance; opening an area to ATV use. You would like to have existing collars that can show any disturbance in historic patterns. In a static environment there is less of an argument.

  30. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    I’m sure IDFG has enough scientists to be able to extrapolate data from wolves outside the Wilderness to inside based on the data derived from collared packs outside. If you feel it necessary to invade the Wilderness with helicopters for counting that is one thing; to continue to pursue collaring efforts is another (perhaps if you were in the next chopper pursuing wolves at 30′ above rugged terrain risking life and limb you might reconsider the need for it). If managing wildlife “requires continuous knowledge” why are most elk zones only surveyed every ~3 years and not annually? The elk harvest is much greater than the wolf harvest is, yet that isn’t based on “continuous” data. Is one to conclude that during the other 2 years the state is not managing scientifically/properly because they lack this current data? And what about black bears or cougars? At best the state has only a rudimentary idea of what the numbers of these animals actually are (with far less precision/accuracy than is likely known for wolves), but somehow they are more or less managed adequately without having to collar them in Wilderness. How many river otters are there in this state?- IDFG has no idea, yet there is a trapping season on them. Based on what? IDFG sets that season based on nothing more than an educated guess; maybe from data derived from a collaring study at some previous time, yet it is highly doubtful if there is a current project underway to gather “continuous” data. On one hand the state wants wolves treated just like any other animal species, yet they seek exemption from federal law in order to collar them in the Wilderness.

  31. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Jay Barr –
    With respect to elk population monitoring – population estimates every four years is a continuous data set. You are referring to the frequency of the population estimates. Each species has individual population management objectives for differeing reasons, and each species has differing population dynamics – which I think you understand. Elk population objectives are intended to maintain a sustsainable, productive population while providing desired hunting opportunity, non-consumptive benefits and in some areas, reducing agricultural crop depredations. Wolf population obectives are intended to manage predation effects on desired elk, deer, and moose hunting opportunity and other benefits and minimize wolf depredations of private property (livestock, pets, etc.).
    Wolves are reproductively facultative, responding quickly to mortality. Monitoring the response of wolves to hunting and other sources of mortality will be important to ensure that wolves in the FC are managed within our minimum management plan objectives and consequently well within ESA standards.

  32. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    Still don’t see how wolves in the Frank will respond any differently than those outside, except that they aren’t subject to lethal control so may be able to withstand harvest better without this additional source of mortality and pack disruption. Monitoring of the packs outside Wilderness, of which many take a heavy toll for wolf-livestock conflicts (intensive human effects), would be a suitable barometer of management inside the Frank (less intensive). There’re plenty of collared packs outside the Frank which can be used to extrapolate. If you detect changes (desired or not) in intensive zones outside Wilderness, that information should be readily transferable to less intensive Wilderness zones. Not aware of any studies indicating wolves are having a negative effect on Frank elk pops.

  33. Salle Avatar

    IDF&G Mission Statement:

    “All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.” (emphasis added)

  34. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Jay Barr,

    What it seems you propose is reactive management in Wilderness, because of less intensive monitoring – for elk or wolves. There are inherent flaws in such an approach. If for example, elk population declines in certain areas, which may not be known to be related or unrelated to wolf population because there has been no monitoring of either species with any precision, how will the state know? On the other hand, if wolf population declines (say mange, parvo or some wacko starts poisoning them) how will we know?

    And then, of course, and this is my favorite, if wolves go back on the ESA and the state (through monitoring of elk, at least) determines that wolves are cause of declines in elk population, how will they make their documentation to intercede with a control plan under the 10(j) regulations for controlling numbers. The plaintiffs to the current delisting litigation will be back in court arguing that the state did not use “best science available” by not doing sophisticated monitoring, including collaring, where they did so in the rest of the state.

    Your approach suggests significantly longer lag times from trend detection to management intervention. This is not good for elk nor wolves, nor stakeholders. And, by the way, I am not in favor of helicopters in Wilderness for except emergency purposes, and monitoring is not one of them.

  35. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Salle –
    Thanks for providing the statutory mission statement for consideration in this discussion. Although this statement is directly referencing the beneficial use of wildlife resources by the Idaho public, it also describes what the IDFG does to monitor, manage the public wildlife resource, including wolves, inside the FC.

  36. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Jay Barr –
    The management challenges of and priority for – wolf management across Idaho, including the FC, makes the inferrential approach you suggest unacceptable. WM speaks to that point above. Equally germaine is the point that there is no need or justification for using indirect measures to monitor wolves and other wildlife inside the FC.

  37. Ken Cole Avatar

    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)
    How does the information gathered from these collars, and more specifically how does the use of helicopters to place them, enhance wilderness character?

  38. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Ken –
    Your’s is more of a philosphical and legal question than the technical scientific and policy questions I am here to speak to. The lawyers and Judge Molloy are the appropriate arbiters of that legal question.

  39. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    The wolves back there have seemingly done well without each and every pack being collared. The notion that all elk herd declines can be layed at the paws of wolves is tiresome and uproven, so the need to monitor this is less than compelling. The time is already here when it is nearly impossible to monitor, via collars, the # of packs outside of Wilderness. Alternative methods, less expensive, exist and should be employed to achieve these objectives; ergo “there is no need or justification for using” collars (and risking your employees lives in the process with helicopters). Mr. Gamblin failed to address my questions regarding bear, cougar, otter, etc. management when IDFG has no idea what those pops. are- I’d suggest that all of that is predicated on “inferential” management; ie. last year’s harvest was acceptable and there were no red flags based on age classes taken, so let’s do it that way again this time.

  40. JB Avatar

    Using a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft to dart and collar ANY animal in the Wilderness makes a mockery of the Wilderness Act (this has been covered ad nauseum, but deserves restatement). In my view, it is only justified when a population is so low that high precision is needed to ensure the population does not decline. With 80+ packs and an estimated 850+ wolves, I simply can’t see a reasonable justification for the considerable effort and expense associated with these activities.

  41. Salle Avatar


    I did not post the mission statement to embellish or support your claims.

    I posted it to remind the rest of the blog community of the lack of regard for nature and the natural life cycle. It’s just like having the national forests and other public lands measured out in board feet. It assumes that all of the natural world is there for the utilitarian consumption by humans and for no other purpose. That mind-set is not only criminal, it is a cardinal sin against all life in general. Sounds like Milton Friedman left his ugly talons implanted in the psyche of Idaho politics, yet to be extracted by the public.

  42. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Read this link – very relevant to this discussion:

    Here is a very current challenge to your assertion. Wolves in MN, MI and WI are being killed, which has prompted federal investigations. They know this ONLY because most that have been killed have collars. Investigators are speculating how many without collars have been killed. Query whether any of this would be known without the collared wolves? The answer is likely NO, resulting in a delay in implementing the dozen or so investigations they have going right now.

    Your statement:
    ++The notion that all elk herd declines can be layed at the paws of wolves is tiresome and uproven, so the need to monitor this is less than compelling.++

    Nobody said ALL ELK HERD DECLINES. That is your term. However, there are asserted declines in certain areas of MT and ID, which are contained in published state wildlife reports as well as ongoing investigations. These, I would guess, would be more speculative and subject to unsubstantiated challengers like yourself, without collared animals and the data gathered through telemetry.

  43. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Salle –
    I understood your motives for posting an important clarifying document. My comments are to emphasize that the IDFG wildlife managment plans and actions for wolves and other wildlife inside and outside the FC are precisely for the purpose of the Idaho statutory mission statement directives – serving the interests and desires of the Idaho public stakeholders in Idaho wildlife resources. Stewarding Idaho wildlife resources for continued hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities also assures “continued supplies of wildlife” for wildlife viewing and a host of other non-consumptive public wildlife resource benefits.
    IF – there is a desire by the Idaho public for a different IDFG mission statement, our democratic republican system of government provides a clear and participatory process for state residents to have those changes made.

  44. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Jay Barr –
    “Mr. Gamblin failed to address my questions regarding bear, cougar, otter, etc. management when IDFG has no idea what those pops. are- I’d suggest that all of that is predicated on “inferential” management; ie. last year’s harvest was acceptable and there were no red flags based on age classes taken, so let’s do it that way again this time.”
    Jay, I did respond to the question. The management objectives and goals those objectives serve do not require the same level of monitoring and information quality that wolves, elk, deer, and moose have. Here’s what I said:
    “Each species has individual population management objectives for differeing reasons, and each species has differing population dynamics – which I think you understand. Elk population objectives are intended to maintain a sustsainable, productive population while providing desired hunting opportunity, non-consumptive benefits and in some areas, reducing agricultural crop depredations. Wolf population obectives are intended to manage predation effects on desired elk, deer, and moose hunting opportunity and other benefits…….; Monitoring the response of wolves to hunting and other sources of mortality will be important to ensure that wolves in the FC are managed within our minimum management plan objectives and consequently well within ESA standards.”
    Bear, cougar, otter populations have different management objectives to satisfy differing wildlife resource management needs. Those species have other important differences, relative to wolves, elk, deer, or moose, not the least of which is their population distribution, behavior and other attributes which does not allow the estimation of their population metrics with anything close to the accuracy and precision that is possible for wolves, elk, deer, or moose. If the management needs were comparable and if the ability to gather the same data – as wolves, elk, deer or moose – we would be collecting data for bears, cougars or otters similarly. We do in fact collect population data for bear, cougar and otter – with other methods and means (hair samples or bait station hits for bears, hunting/trapping harvest reports for bear, cougar and otter) that have lower accuracy/precision than the methods available to us for wolves and other wildlife species.

  45. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    WM, Jay Barr –
    The question of wolf predation impacts on prey species, specifically elk, has been substantiated in Idaho and recently Montana, as WM noted. In Idaho, wolf predation impacts to elk herds in 7 big game management units have been substantiated with radio telemetry data for several years now. I owe this group a more detailed description of the study design, including statistical design with a response to JB and Ralph questions about the same. The two lead biologists for this study were the two IDFG biologists involved in the recent helicopter accident near Moose Creek. I have not reviewed this explanation in adequate detail with them yet.
    JB asked for the update in another current thread – I’ll venture a very brief synopsis with the proviso that the IDFG lead experts may qualify my attempt – in the near future.
    The IDFG wolf predation research project is designed to measure and understand the population level effects of wolf predation on productive cow elk and the calves they produce. This is accomplished by radio collaring cow and calf elk to derive a direct estimate of wolf predation of the population of cow and calf elk in both wolf management zones. With adequate sample sizes of collared cow and calf elk, we know with certainty what portion of cow and calf elk in the two wolf management zones are removed from the population by wolf predation. This is why this direct measure of wolf predation effects is not “inferrential statistics” – getting to JB’s and Ralph’s question. The only statistical uncertainty in this experimental/monitoring design is the adequacy of the number of collars (sample size to represent the populations of cow elk and calf elk with a desired level of statistical confidence) and the assumption that a collared cow elk or calf elk will experience the same likelihood of wolf predation as will un-collared cow elk and calf elk. That assumption is very robust – i.e. confirmed wolf predation mortality rates for collared cow elk and calf elk are very unlikely to differ from those of un-collared cow elk and calf elk in the study areas.
    This experimental/monitoring design is the Gold Standard for this type of wildlife management inquiry. What we know:
    Wolf predation in the Lolo Zone and Sawtooth Zone (7 BGMUs – two large geographic areas of the state) has reduced elk production and recruitment significantly below levels we know habitat productivity and pre-wolf introduction levels of hunter harvest/kill are capable of sustaining. Wolf predation effects on elk herds in both wolf management zones has required the IDFG to reduce hunting opportunity for cow and bull elk.
    I can’t describe what data Montana FWP have to describe the similar effect of wolf predation on elk in an important part of their state, but I have no doubt, based on our increasing knowledge and understanding of wolf predation effects on elk in Idaho, that their conclusions are equally sound.

  46. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Salle –
    For that sake of better understanding your perspective, would you agree, at all, that the natural resources of the world, including wildlife resources, are available for the use and benefit by human society and that the exploitation of those resources by humans is inherently no different than the role of any other species on this planet.
    I suggest that the reality of natural resource exploitation isn’t what you and others consider “criminal”, it’s the broader effect of our resource exploitation decisions on human interests – clean air, clean water, open spaces and intact eco-systems that support human society and provide dignity in a variety of ways to humans. The categorican term “utilitarian” has differing meanings by different social scientists who use the term to classify social attitudes and preferences for natural resource benefits. In the social science/human dimensions work of the IDFG, we use the term to connote desire for direct consumptive use of wildlife resources, with little value given to the qualitative intangible benefits of wildlife that more closely typifies birders for example. For some social scientists, utilitarianism may describe any benefit humans percieve from the existance of wildlife and therefor the need for wildlife conservation/stewardship/management. Condeming “Utilitarianism” as a criminal mind set or a cardinal sin against nature cuts a pretty broad swath. Are you sure that’s what you intend?

  47. JB Avatar


    I hate to quibble over statistical terminology, but the study you describe is, in fact, using inferential statistics. The goal of inferential statistics is to infer some characteristic of a population based upon a random sample from that population (see: In the design you describe, IDF&G researchers are attempting to infer a population-level cause of mortality based upon sample data (specifically, the population is all elk in the management unit, the sample is those elk you have collared). To be clear, anytime you take a parameter estimate based upon sample data and assume that that sample represents a population, you are using inferrential statistics.

    Also important to note: the method you describe will provide IDF&G with an estimate of wolf-caused elk MORTALITY. While significant mortality certainly can cause reductions in production/recruitment, mortality is NOT the sole contributor to production/recruitment. The distinction is not trivial as you cannot know how many of the elk killed by wolves would have died via other causes were wolves not present, nor can you know how many elk would have been born were wolves not present.

    To be clear, I do not doubt that wolves were a significant contributor to elk population declines; however, I think it is important to be accurate and honest about what, exactly, IDF&G’s data convey. The way you have relayed these data overstates their precision; moreover, by not mentioning other sources of mortality you make it seem as the wolves are the sole contributor to elk mortality, and in turn, elk population declines.

  48. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    JB –
    We can put the statistical debate to bed. You are correct, I’ve been confusing the broader concerpt of statistical inference with our earlier discussion of correlation analysis and why this research design provides more reliable results than that inferrential tool. Because we don’t know the fate of each individual elk in the wolf management zones being studied, we are infering a rate of wolf predation mortality for the total elk population of the two wolf management zones.
    You are also correct that there are other potential explanations for reduced elk production and recruitment. Given what we know about the short term history of wolves and long term history of elk in the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones, their supporting habitat (see my earlier comments about health and body condition of elk in these herds) and other reasonable, potential explanations for the documented declines in elk production and recruitment – wolf predation is the only reasonable explanation for the declining production and recruitment these elk populations are experiencing.

  49. Phil Maker Avatar
    Phil Maker

    How are these collared elk determined to be killed by wolves? Some technician examines a week old dead elk and because there is a wolf track or scat in the area it goes down as confirmed wolf predation? Wolves scavenge and drive other predators from their kills. Unless these dead elk are examined within 1 day of their death (which I doubt happens often), I would suggest that making the determination that it was killed by wolves is tenuous at best.

  50. salle Avatar

    Mr Gamblin,

    Once again, I find your condescending manner of address offensive. Apparently you have a knack for making assumptions about the statements and intent of others while regurgitating lengthy speculations that pretend to answer your questions while attempting to imply superiority over your opponent. Nice try but no dice, pal.

    You said:

    For that sake of better understanding your perspective, would you agree, at all, that the natural resources of the world, including wildlife resources, are available for the use and benefit by human society and that the exploitation of those resources by humans is inherently no different than the role of any other species on this planet.[?]

    Actually, no. Other species do not exploit any other or any portion of their environment for their survival. Each is vulnerable to another within the environment where they exists however broad or minute that environment may be, it’s a cyclical existence which is healthy and viable until humans come along and mess it up with their machinations of all sorts. Apparently that fact of nature is lost on you and your ilk and therefore, I don’t expect that any of you would understand anything else. Humans are the only specie that contributes nothing beneficial beyond the biological matter we become upon our bodily decay after death, then we actually have something of benefit to offer to the rest of the living world.

    Then you said:

    I suggest that the reality of natural resource exploitation isn’t what you and others consider “criminal”, it’s the broader effect of our resource exploitation decisions on human interests – clean air, clean water, open spaces and intact eco-systems that support human society and provide dignity in a variety of ways to humans.

    Actually, I ,do indeed consider it criminal and the effects as you describe them are in fact the crimes that are the secondary wave of crime that is inflicted upon the natural world after the exploitation has begun, by humans for their own benefit and for none other than themselves. That is criminal, period. A crime against nature. Humans aren’t any more important to any other specie, the others do just fine without us. the only specie that humans matter to are humans. (Just for grins, has it ever occurred to you that we are the only specie that willfully pollutes it’s own body ~ think drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. as well as its own environment?)

    You went on to say:

    The categorica[l] term “utilitarian” has differing meanings by different social scientists who use the term to classify social attitudes and preferences for natural resource benefits. In the social science/human dimensions work of the IDFG, we use the term to connote desire for direct consumptive use of wildlife resources, with little value given to the qualitative intangible benefits of wildlife that more closely typifies birders for example. For some social scientists, utilitarianism may describe any benefit humans percieve from the existance of wildlife and therefor the need for wildlife conservation/stewardship/management. Condeming “Utilitarianism” as a criminal mind set or a cardinal sin against nature cuts a pretty broad swath. Are you sure that’s what you intend?

    It is precisely what I intended and meant. Unfortunately, you don’t understand that some humans actually have a broader lens with which to view the world around us as something much more than resources that exist solely for the benefit of humans. And it goes far beyond the “little value given to the qualitative intangible benefits of wildlife that more closely typifies birders for example” that you imagine.

    The need for wildlife and the environment which ensures its longevity is far more important than the short sighted “desire” for consumption and the enjoyment of sporting activities (for those who would argue that there is some value in this activity that overrides the necessity of the other species that exist in the same world as we do) for a few macho-folk and a few people who actually eat what they kill. And I don’t anticipate that you, even with your education in biology, would actually be able to wrap your tortured brain around this concept but;

    It’s the biosphere,stupid.

    We are not the only specie that matters and the argument that all other species exist for our use and benefit with little regard to their purpose within the biosphere rings horribly hollow. But then, as I said before, I don’t expect you or your ilk to get it.

  51. Cobra Avatar

    This time of year it’s not to difficult to determine what made the kill. This time of year with cold temps and no bears out the carcass will tell most likely what happened if found within the week. Cats kill differently than wolves. Wolves tend to go for the nose, ass and hams, every kill we’ve found the last 3-4 years has been like this. Wolves also seem to be very fond of the fetus, if available.Cats also more times than not try to cover their kill to keep for later.

  52. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Wow, looks like the state spin-a- go round was working overtime to day.

  53. Salle Avatar

    Jeff E,

    Well put.

  54. mikepost Avatar

    So was the lack of courtesy and respect for opposing viewpoints.

  55. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Salle –
    My response was intended to be direct, not condescending. I’m sorry you perceived it that way.
    Your points are interesting if illogical. Of course all species exploit their environment for selfish benefit. Together with the impertative to pass on genetic heritage, the battle among species to exploit accessible resources is a hallmark of natural selection and evolution. As members of the same ecosystem, humans are no different than other species. Our species has the capacity for awareness of the consequences of our actions in exploiting our natural resources. That raises interesting questions about our ability to shape our decisions and therefor our environment for our selfish benefit, but that does not negate the reality that all human decisions and actions towards resource exploitation and conservation only make sense in the context of being in the best interest of human society. Nature is not a benevolent, well ordered (balanced) system for the mutual benefit of the “community” of species in a given ecosystem. There is no such thing as “balance of nature”. With or without humans, nature is a brutal, messy and dynamic process of species competing for the prize of persistence – by passing on it’s genetic heritage. BTW, again, respectfully, humans are not a specie (coin). The correct taxonomic nomenclature is species – both singular and plural.

    If a crime is committed by humans against “nature”, who is the victim and who is harmed? When another species causes the extinction of different species, has a crime been committed against nature? The constant struggle between species that defines natural selection and evolution occurred for millions of years before humans joined the dance and will continue if humans cease to exist. This doesn’t justify destructive natural resource management or exploitation policies and practices that are counter to the interests of human society. Quite the opposite. The reason I budget time to this topic in this dialog is because if we, the conservation community, don’t understand that our objectives of sound stewardship and conservation of the natural world absolutely depend on making those objectives relevant to the society that will choose to accept those objectives and make decisions accordingly – we will fail. If you believe that condemning society, agencies, or individuals for promoting the best interests of human society in natural resource management – will advance sound, rational environmental policy and programs – you are mistaken. I’m not being condescending, just blunt with my perspective as a public servant.

  56. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    All I can say is Wow, I had not really looked through this thread until tonight, been busy this weekend..

    Again WOW!

  57. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Phil Maker –
    Fair questions. Obviously, accurate indentification of the cause of death of radio collared elk is essential to sound conclusions. I want to be sure I understand the protocol for forensic assessment of dead radio-collared elk before I respond. If this threat still has wheels when I have a complete answer, I’ll post it here. If not, I’m sure the question will come up again.

  58. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    My apologies for MULTIPLE typing errors.

  59. gline Avatar

    Nicely put Salle, but it is going nowhere.

  60. gline Avatar

    *with the person in power at the moment. (The status quo will hopefully change in the future)

    I appreciate your insight and agree wholeheartedly.

  61. Salle Avatar

    Thanks gline. Given the unbelievably specie-centric response… though I’m not surprised. I don’t know why I bothered. Like talking to a brick wall, or someone with no ability to engage in independent cognitive functions.

  62. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    What you did is cause all kinds of cheering in the trenches at Idaho G&F. They know what the “rising star” superiority and like kind suppresion characteristics those at dysfunctional administrative offices have.

    Those in the field can see the tactics used on them and their friends play out the same here on these pages. By your come back…your post….. it gives them both clearer insight into office manipulations…..and also shows how the dysfunctional machine above them can be seen and countered by others.

    The composite MSG’s have played the surface “persuasion” tactics game just like any Yellowstone administration. It is here for all readers of this blog to see. The latest was the “get back with” information to the peasants. But the composite greater MSG’s true colors just had to shine through. The anger of “how dare they” of subordinates was and is always under the surface and this is what the composite MSG exhibited.

    Their dysfunctional extended bull group family makes so many problems for them, problems individuals can always use to their advantage. It is how I “won” against Dick Cheneys political machine and it is how every down in the trenches Idaho G&F employee can “win” (or at least retain personal honor) ….. against the attitude of subordination they are reminded of by an intimidating administration everyday.

    And folks of MSG’s ilk will never get it. They won’t get it until they are thrown out of their bull group. And this happens to all of them. Then the MSG’s wil become bitter or apathetic. Or at best they will look back on their beginnings, and photoshop a larger print of the old Kodak under the glass top of their desk ….. of them packing fish on a horse to a mountain lake.

    But for know, while in the power system…..they look to the picture of their bosses on the wall……the head of the States G&F….the composite picture of them and their office staff (Of course the one with themselves standing next to the highest ranking offical available )….the picture of the president.

    And in the end, the end being after failure and continued aura of superiority, they will close the conference room door behind them and one will say a communal thought, ” We try to help the people, but they just don’t want it”.

  63. mikepost Avatar

    Save Bears: I am not sure “WOW” is the right term. “SAD” is what comes to my mind. Lots of good issues raised but much of the value of the discourse is lost beneath the layer of vitriolic venting that does little to win over the hearts and minds of others to a new point of view and certainly does not add to the poster’s credibility regardless of the depth of their insight and experience.

  64. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Mark G – thanks for your continued input. Please keep in mind that most on this site that are not tolerant of your contributions suffer from the same arrogance that is alive and well in the White House.

  65. JB Avatar

    Talks with Bears:

    I see little in this administration that is “arrogant”, especially when compared with its predecessor. I suppose it was arrogant of Obama to think he could “intellectualize” policy decisions. The de-emphasis of education in recent decades combined with the overt politicization of the press (e.g. Fox “News”)–with their purposeful distortions of the facts and fear mongering–have left us incapable of having informed debates over policy issues. Why discuss the facts when it’s so much more gratifying to shout absurdities and obscenities (e.g. the “Tea Party” movement)? And now the Supreme Court says corporations are individuals and entitled to the same protections, and so-called “conservatives” are so delusional they think this means more “freedom.”

    Canada looks better everyday…especially with global warming. 😉

  66. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    This is just a nit, but it is symptomatic of the dialog with MG – not paying attention to detail.

    In both the original Latin and in English “species” is correct both the singular and plural forms. As in, a species of animal, or multiple species of animals.

    On the other hand, “specie” is a technical term which refers to the physical form of money, particularly coins, or in economics to an asset.
    mikepost is right, the value of this discussion is lost in “vitriolic venting.”

    And to think this exchange all began with this statement:

    ++ It assumes that all of the natural world is there for the utilitarian consumption by humans and for no other purpose. That mind-set is not only criminal, it is a cardinal sin against all life in general.++

    Salle, not sure what your background is, but MG presents his views as a biologist viewing nature, very logically, and competitive in all respects, (including human presence). At the core of your differences are at least the following areas of misunderstanding:

    1. Cannot agree on the definition of “crime” or “crime against nature.” Maybe the philosophers need to interject a little John Locke – natural law background here.

    2. Cannot agree on what constitutes “utilitarian” philosophy and consumption. MG tried to qualify it for purposes of his response to you. I think he did a good job of putting siderails on his description, which you subsequently chose to ignore.

    3. And, at the very heart of this dialog, and to some degree MG acknowledges it, but you do not – that is ignoring a huge difference which sets us apart from other animals. This is the ability to reason, to modify our environment (not always for the better in the long term), and the luxury of “freedom of choice,” including the ability to make moral choices.

    And, furthermore, as humans we have the ability to change our choices as circumstances dictate. Do we do a very good job in the area of environment? No, but we do have the ability to change. The question is whether we can do it quickly enough as human population grows without apparent and necessary constraints on consumption..

    The problem for some, is that the choices they seek may not be those of the majority who have their own vested interests. Salle, I do appreciate your view of the natural world, but not necessarily the way you express it in such absolute/purest terms. (not trying to patronize either).

  67. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    JB – if you choose to be ignorant about what is going on in this country that is your business. And if you want to continue to be part of the problem maybe you should just get on up to Canada and let some of us that care try to put this country back together.

  68. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I have to wonder your purpose or motive for responding to Salle in this manner. Yes, you can say it is nit picking to issue forth on Species definition when there is a much larger contention at hand but then why go ahead and do so? It appears the purpose is to deflect the strength of his statement with your dribble.

    I also must ask if you are a part of the Idaho G&F effort to sway this blog? I was in the govt. way to long to not know any planned project like Idaho G&F is partaking in with this blog didn’t have a lot of planning involved…which includes plants and those in line to deflect whenever they are deemed needed.

    I saw it in my salting issue and I saw it happening in most other personnel and political issues in yellowstone. Lots of govt. money was spent strategizing at the expense of finding solutions.

    There is no way Idaho G&F came on to this blog without having those ready to defend when needed. It is always two to three deep. It is no different than the Park would do at news conferences…have privied reporters ask planted questions.

    The G&F isn’t going to get by Salle. He shows what is in between the cracks philosophically with land USE agencies and their personnel. All they can do is get others not as savvy or intimate of matters on this blog to question his wisdom.

    My job as someone who countered every strategy of YNP administration through 30 years of work there is to let those of this blog knows it is more than conviction of resources that our public servants at the likes of Idaho G&F have in mind.

    Of course in TWB I see no involvement other than his own narrow views.

  69. JB Avatar

    Funny, I could have responded to your original post with the same accusation of ignorance, but I figured a more thoughtful reply might actually bear fruit (i.e. interesting dialogue). It is unfortunate that the Bill O’Reily’s and Rush Limbaugh’s have made name-calling the norm in policy debates: Why engage in meaningful dialogue when it is so much easier to simply refer those who disagree with you “arrogant” or “ignorant”?

  70. Jay Avatar

    Maybe you’re the problem TWB? Maybe you should consider leaving?

  71. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    JB – if you choose to be ignorant on this subject that is your choice. How about some education on the subject? Step 1. Stop watching CNN and the other “sunshine pumpers”. 2. Don’t take it from me, do it yourself, pick up the phone talk to people that own a business and create jobs – talk to people that are out of work and are looking – talk to people that have lost their homes. Please wake up – this country is in a serious economic situation with the politacal class totally incapable of providing leadership – the only thing they know how to do is increase the size of government and further destroy any hope of recovery.

  72. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Jay – how so?

  73. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Bob Jackson,

    What are you telling me, Bob, I can’t divert from a subject, to infuse a little correct word usage and spelling (a specie is not a species, see above, and the real point was miscommunication)? Like we don’t bounce around here a bit. Heck the last few posts have gotten us into critiques of national administrations, bad Supreme Court decisions, and a desire to send others to foreign countries,

    Sorry, Bob, I am no IDFG plant. I do like to see honest debate, with good reasoning skills, over defined issues, using verifiable facts. I also get a bit annoyed when baiters and the like, tend to gang up on somebody trying to provide an honest explanation, only to be slapped around (not that you ever do that – LOL).

    I would like to think I have an open mind on game management theories. I have completed reading the Barnsess buffalo book you recommended months ago (loved the book and its got great pictures). But, contrary to your previous representations, can find no explicit or implicit support for your herd theories of protection for bison, or by extrapolation to elk. I also continue to ask my contacts in the academic community about the validity of your theories. Still no takers, but I am not giving up, and if you can supply some supporting studies I will read them and recommend to others, and keep asking the questions.

  74. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Bob – narrow views???? How can that be – I read all of your works.

  75. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    WM – for the record, JB made a reference to some form of self exile before I nudged him North.

  76. JB Avatar


    And how would you know that I am ignorant on any subject? You inferred my ignorance based upon the fact that I disagree with your assertion that “…most on this site …suffer from the same arrogance that is alive and well in the White House.”

    Just for the record I: (1) do not watch CNN, (2) will be happy not to “take it from [you]”, and (3) am wide awake.

    In the absence of any substantive thoughts from you, I’ll be happy to provide a few of my own. Feel free to disregard them, or to keep calling me names [it sort of proves my point]. 😉

    First, the economic hardships people are currently enduring in this country began under the Bush Administration–which released the first round of funding for the stimulus (a fact conservatives conveniently overlook). These hardships are largely the result of too little government regulation–a fact for which both parties are to blame. Also, you might recall that current Fed chief Bernanke is a Bush carry over appointment.

    Second, economists have almost universally endorsed increasing government spending to stimulate the economy. In fact, many (most?) critiques of the current administration fault it for not being aggressive enough (i.e. being too frugal).

    Third, you might take a moment to ruminate on the fact that the current administration has been in power for 1 year. How long has it taken us to recover from previous economic disasters? [Hint: the Great Depression lasted more than one year.]

    Finally, just imagine if your boy, Bush hadn’t taken us into Iraq, where it is estimated that we have spent 700+ Billion. That’s well over half of the entire cost of the health care legislation currently being debated.

    In my allegedly “ignorant” opinion, many of our financial troubles (i.e. rising cost of health care, medicare/social security shortages) can be laid at the feet of an aging population–a group of people that have gotten used to having their cake and eating it too. Does anyone think it is a coincidence that we’re only finally truly considering universal health care when the baby boomers are getting ready to retire?

  77. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, shut it down, we stopped going any where productive a day ago. Now we are into character assasination and emotional political retorts.

    Of course it is always helpful to know who the people are that you would (or would not) cite in a paper, hire for a job or invite to a hearing. Some folks would rather be the loudest scream in cyberspace then be a player in the process (all anarchists on this blog excused of course.)

  78. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I have to agree with mikepost,

    This thread is so far out in left field it has now become a “foul” ball!

  79. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    JB – you have worn me down my brother – not with substance but with a stunning lack of focus and understanding. I would like to reach out to you however, there is a book “The Forgotten Man” by Amity Shlaes. Maybe it will help. Peace out.

  80. JB Avatar


    Yes, I’m aware of Miss Shlaes’ (a writer, not an economist) thesis that Roosevelt’s policies prolonged the economic depression. I’m also aware of the liberal retort; that is, Roosevelt did not spend enough. Specifically, although the unemployment rate improved in every year of the New Deal (except during the 37-38 recession), ultimately the government did not spend enough to prompt a full recovery until it began to mobilize for war. Neither viewpoint can be disproved, which is convenient for revisionist historians such as Shlaes.

    Hopefully that satisfied your need for focus and substance, else you can simply return to calling me names.

  81. Phil Maker Avatar
    Phil Maker

    Sounds like you’re one of the guys in the field looking at these carcasses. Just how often do you fly and how quickly after detecting a mortality is the carcass actually examined (which still doesn’t mean it’s “fresh” when you see it)? “Wolves tend to go for the nose, ass and hams, every kill we’ve found the last 3-4 years has been like this”- are you saying you’ve not seen a single one of the collared elk killed by cougars? Depending upon the age/size of the elk, most of the evidence you describe could be gone by the time you get on site; ie. wolves could have eaten all the evidence of a cougar’s kill.

  82. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    Here’s my final word on this matter. Flying helicopters and landing in the Wilderness is a clear violation of the Wilderness Act, in spirit if nothing else. And IMO it is unnecessary and puts at risk lives. This data will not advance the knowledge or understanding of wolf pop. dynamics beyond that which already exists. Wolves in the Wilderness are more secure than those outside of it (which have additional mortality [lethal control]), so if wolves outside are properly managed and persist, they inference (Mr. Gamblin conceded that almost all research is indeed inferential) can be made that those inside will also persist given the state doesn’t increase the quota radically. Bottom line: the body of data regarding wolves in ID is substantial enough that the State need not violate federal law in seeking to meet its management objectives/mandates and risk its employees health while doing so. Thanks for the lively discussion.

  83. gline Avatar

    Salle, I oftentimes wonder why I bother as well. I can’t help myself I guess.

    You provide the nuggets of truth the rest of us “greens” require for nourishment.

  84. mikepost Avatar

    So, does anyone have any constructive contribution to the issue of the safety of biologists conducting surveys of any type (including but not limited to capture/collaring) using aircraft. Sometimes I think that a certain mushroom is required to make sense of where these strings go…

  85. JB Avatar

    “So, does anyone have any constructive contribution to the issue of the safety of biologists conducting surveys of any type (including but not limited to capture/collaring) using aircraft.”

    Sure. Given the costs and risks associated with such flights, F&G agencies should conduct a cost-benefit analysis before choosing to undertake such actions. That is, they should go through a structured decision-making process in order to determine if the information gained is worth the risk/cost incurred.

  86. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    As many may know IDFG wull be having the Annual Meeting this week in boise. In reading the agenda for the discussion on wolves, it contains this gem,

    “Ten of 135 harvested wolves were wearing radio collars. Capturing and radio-collaring efforts will
    need to be increased to compensate for lost collars.”

    Another fine example of non sequitur logic.

  87. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I hope they discuss the cost of deploying a collar compared to the revenue from the wolf tags.

    Will there be public comment allowed to ask such a question?

  88. gline Avatar

    or revenue lost from wildlife watching.

    Seems like they are punishing the wolves.

  89. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I hope the question is asked of how much has been spent on WS “control actions” as compared to the full market value of the livestock that brought on the gunships.
    As for collars it seems that I read that the GPS module (give a boy a toy) run about $3000 out the door. I don’t know if that includes the application.

    On a different note I have been kicking this around the old attic and want to see what some others might think.
    Most of us know that wolves will spend a great deal of time sorting prey looking for abnormalities.
    I also know that given the acuity of all wolf senses, the extent or limit of which is still being studied and debated, would there be something about the collars put on elk, deer, etc. that will trigger wolves to focus on that animal more than otherwise.

  90. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    does not look like the public will be allowed a voice on this one.

  91. mikarooni Avatar

    It would certainly stand to reason 1) that the elk and deer that got collared were the individual specimens that were the easiest for the biologists to catch in order to collar and 2) that the animals that were the easiest for the biologists to catch in order to collar would also be the easiest ones for predators to catch in order to eat?

  92. Cobra Avatar

    No flying at all. All the kills we’ve found have been on snowshoes or just hiking. The last two years we had so much snow in North Idaho it was not hard to determine how old the kill was. None of the kills we’ve found had collars. Last winter we found over a dozen elk kills and a couple of moose. The winter before not quite as many because there were not quite as many wolves in the areas that we frequent.
    Even if the wolves had stolen the kills from a cougar there would of been some sign of the cat covering up the carcase, also on the kills the heart, liver and lungs were still in the body cavity. For some reason cats seem to like these parts. Cats also kill by soffocation most of the time so the neck gets chewed on pretty hard. A lot of the kills we’ve found had nothing missing but the ass and nose, and some had been there for at least a couple of days. As far as collars go, I don’t even know if IDFG collar the elk up here. I’ve hunted up here for over 20 years and have yet to see an elk with a collar. Friends have seen some collars on a few cows but very seldom.

  93. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    That could be.
    I was focusing more on if, 1) the collared animal acted in a different, even undetectable to the human eye so to speak, manner, which would not necessarily mean weaker, and/or 2) the collar it self was a trigger.

  94. Si'vet Avatar

    Jay Barr, In spirit?? Where does that fall in the scientific world, lots of data over the last, little over 10 years. As the human population increases at an incredible rate, the more accurate information that can be gathered the quicker the better. The interaction between wolves, livestock and 300,000,000 humans is in it’s infancy staged at best!!

  95. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Ralph –
    Every Commission meeting is preceeded by a public hearing, typically the evening before the meeting devoted to Commission deliberations. The public hearing is the opportunity for the public to address the Commission on any topic relating to Idaho wildlife management. The public hearing for the Commission meeting this week is Wednesday evening at 7:00 P.M. at the IDFG State Office at 600 S. Walnut Street in Boise. The Commission will meet at the following morning, Thursday, at 8:00 A.M. at the same location. The public is welcome to observe formal deliberations during the Commission meeting, but the meeting is reserved for Commission deliberations of agenda items, without open public involvement.

  96. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Mark Gamblin,

    Thank you for the information. I hope everyone will take note of this. That is this Wednesday night.

  97. Salle Avatar

    Yup, at the same time of the State of the Union Address, right?

  98. mikepost Avatar

    Jeff: the vast majority of collars in prey animals are designed to fall off after a set period of time. It is less expensive to store the data on the collar and recover it for analysis later. In my experience 70-80% of all collars blow off after their life cycle, sometimes as much as two years. Those animals appeared to suffer no disadvantage during the time the collar was on, and the downloaded activity data would indicate the same. Does that tell us what a predator is thinking upon the sight of a collared prey animal, no, but it is a strong indication. Given the visual ease in detecting collared animals, one would think that if it were a deciding factor that we would lose 80-90% to predator mortality, but we don’t.

    In a related vein, I think that all collared animals should be illegal to hunt for this reason. They are easier to spot with a yellow band around their necks and a red tag in their ear, and it is possible for a poacher to get a hold of tracking gear. This would also save a lot of money and reduce the capture levels and flight activity.

  99. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    ++In a related vein, I think that all collared animals should be illegal to hunt for this reason.++

    Great ideas in the interest of good science and cost-effective management!

    Assuming you are an ID resident (sorry don’t know if you are), can you reduce your idea to a short writing for the IDGF Commission and fax or email to them and request it be included for consideration at their their public hearing session tomorrow night?

  100. Si'vet Avatar

    Mikepost, harvesting collared animals in Id has always been discouraged in the regs but not illegal. The cost of collaring, and the safety aspect makes good sense. If you need help getting it to an Id. commissioner let me know. Post your verbage and I can forward asap.

  101. gline Avatar

    WM says: “… can you reduce your idea to a short writing for the IDGF Commission and fax or email to them and request it be included for consideration at their their public hearing session tomorrow night?”

    Like they would listen?

  102. Si'vet Avatar

    G- I am sure I can get it to a commissioner who will at least let me review, give background, details. It’a worth a shot, the cost savings and safety issues should make it an interesting topic. I would venture a guess it has been discussed before, never know when the time is ripe.

  103. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    if the same message gets said enough times, someone will eventually listen to it.

  104. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    There is a cost component to the collaring, and a ripe opportunity as noted on the Commission’s agenda on Thursday as noted by Jeff E.

    I can think of no better time to present this very concrete and practical suggestion. If anybody else is inclined to step forward at the public meeting to say something in support, or with a timely written request, here is the chance.

    As hockey great Wayne Gretsky used to say, you miss every shot you do not take.

  105. gline Avatar

    That is definitely NOT true SB.

  106. gline Avatar

    It is always worth a shot, but then what you have is an impasse, stalling or fake fronts. Good change is slow and rare. Anything that provides a particular few large amounts of $$ happens fast for some reason.

  107. gline Avatar

    Why do you think environmentalists get such a bad rap? Persistent requestin, asking and demanding for good change…. and few compromises I hope.

  108. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Only in your opinion, if you believe in a cause strong enough, then it is important to keep repeating the message, change is not often easy and it takes a long time, but if it is important change does come, there have been many examples of this in our past, and I am sure there will be in the future, working on the inside of a Government agency taught me this lesson.

    But I can assure, bitching on a website, without follow up will never change anything, the word needs to get to those in charge and keep getting to them..

    Why do you think the livestock industry has so much power, because they have been singing the same song so long that it is now the norm, it is time to change the norm with the right action..

  109. jerryB Avatar

    “But I can assure, bitching on a website, without follow up will never change anything, the word needs to get to those in charge and keep getting to them”
    AMEN!!, SB……..if those that bitch on a website would spend even a little effort to write these agencies and demand answers like the special interests do (livestock industry), policies would change.
    I don’t understand the reluctance to do it.

  110. jerryB Avatar

    One more comment….
    PHONE CALLS DON”T MEAN SQUAT. You have no record of what is discussed.

  111. Si'vet Avatar

    JerryB, I put together a short proposal and sent it off. Mikepost this was your idea, and in no way would am I trying to circumvent, or exclude, I believe tomorrow will be a travel day for the comissioners and wanted to get the proposal on the plate with a comissioner asap. I am hoping for a response to share in a timely manner.

  112. Si'vet Avatar

    no way am I, (scratch – would)

  113. gline Avatar

    Good timing JerryB glad you are there watching! JerryB the King of communication with the MT “wolf team”. Time and time again attending meetings, writing letters emails, phone calls- no evidence of change or thought to doing anything besides killing entire packs at rancher whim…. just standard reply emails back… frustrating.

    The meeting of commissioners is not for the public as noted above, why the hell would they listen to any comments brought to them via you?
    “Information will aid Commissioners as they respond to requests, clarifications, or recommendations from the public.”

    Like I said NO ONE is listening! The status quo has been laid down. Personal insults to me won’t change that. Lawsuits hopefully will.

  114. gline Avatar

    SB:, as I see it the livestock industry is strong because they have the ranchers working for them. The ranchers are the middle man in the $beef industry/or sheep industry, making a pittance as compared to the livestock industry that scapegoats predators since what 1905? I don’t have a seat on the board of the livestock producers.. but I do write and have written many letters, emails etc. and will keep on doing it. Believe me my name is known.

    Just so happens, I also do not own 200,000 acres or am related to a MT state senator. My family was not fast enough to get out here for the land give away…

  115. Si'vet Avatar

    G- I understand your frustrations, if some of your post is in regards to collar vs harvest, I didn’t send it to a website I sent it to a commissioner. I think on this proposal we’re not taking on a large lobby, we’re just asking to change a rule, make hunters more responsible. In return a little ease on the budget and more importantly the safety aspect of flying. At least that is my interpretation on this particular proposal. If I missed something please feel free to advise. thanks

  116. gline Avatar

    Si’vet, you don’t understand my frustrations.

    Like I said, if the meeting is not open to the public and for information only, they have their agenda set and that is it. A few comments or a thousand comments from this blog to them won’t make a difference. I think by you “offering” to extend to the commissioners wolf advocates’ comment is patronizing, and cowardly. My original comment was that the commission won’t listen, but it isn’t because people aren’t writing. You should understand, and I think you are well aware by now that I, and others do not believe IDF&G’s purpose in collaring wolves in the FC (or elsewhere) is for wolf conservation or “research”, but for those in power to know how many wolves they get to kill. Perhaps I am wrong, and that would make my day.

    Si’vet, I do think you are missing a lot with my writing, and I can’t really change that. That would be up to you, … to listen.

  117. Si'vet Avatar

    G, your right, I miss alot with regards to your writing. Are you saying by proposing this issue “I” am being patronizing and cowardly. Could you clarify..

  118. gline Avatar

    I don’t think I could be anymore clear…

  119. Si'vet Avatar

    So I did interpret that correctly, getting better already, 1 for 1.
    Since 1988 I’ve had he opportunity to be involved in making 3 rules changes regionally with regards to F&G, all 3 enhanced wildlife opportunity’s for hunters and nonhunters, one change took 15 yrs. Frustrating yes, impossible no.
    If you use this same condescending approach, when addressing issues with F&G commissioners or any other agency it is little wonder you get shut down, you would be the best advocate for the people who oppose you could ever have. Patronizing, cowardly, your call. I may not get these issues on the table this year, or next, but I will perservere. There are IDFG folks who listen

  120. mikepost Avatar

    SIVET: I wish I was an Idaho resident, not even close. Can’t help you there. I certainly don’t own the idea so run with it.

  121. Si'vet Avatar

    Mikepost, will send response info to Ralph, he can forward, I am sure I will need your input.

  122. Linda Hunter Avatar

    I just read this whole post . . my thought is mountain bikes. . how in the heck are they going to keep mountain bikes out of wilderness areas if they do that? Back when mountain bikes were invented and wanted access to wilderness the argument was that they were mechanical and not in the spirit of wilderness. . . if helicopters go into wilderness to tag wilderness animals for control in an area where no control was the legislative intent . . how will they deny mountain bikers? Wilderness areas will be a thing of the past thanks to Idaho.

  123. Jay Avatar

    I guess each and every biker that wants to can apply through the FS for a categorical exclusion and then wait 6 months for a response, which will be negative.

  124. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    gline –
    “I, and others do not believe IDF&G’s purpose in collaring wolves in the FC (or elsewhere) is for wolf conservation or “research”, but for those in power to know how many wolves they get to kill.”

    The collaring of wolves in the FC is for wolf conservation, by accurately understanding how wolf population control actions affects wolf numbers, and understanding the impact of wolf predation on elk and other wildlife resources in the FC – through radio telemetry assisted monitoring and research. Of course knowing how many wolves are killed is important to responsibly manage wolves in any part of the state.

  125. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    gline –
    “The meeting of commissioners is not for the public as noted above, why the hell would they listen to any comments brought to them via you?”

    As I explained above, each Commission meeting includes a public hearing that is dedicated to taking public testimony for the formal record. Commissioners often ask questions and answer questions during public testimony. Public testimony is generally discussed at the beginning of the formal Commission meeting agenda. Commissioners do listen to and consider testimony from those who take the time to communicate.
    Not having your preferred management alternatives adopted by the Commission does not mean you weren’t listened to. It simply means that the Commission didn’t agree that your preference(s) are the best or most appropriate course of action.

  126. gline Avatar

    No, Si’vet you did not interpret that correctly, so it is not 1:1.

    This is not a game… there are no points scored.

  127. gline Avatar

    Si’vet said: “There are IDFG folks who listen”

    Please, Si’vet give me an example, with regard to the gray wolf conservation issue, ie, conserving them. I would be happy to know.

  128. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    Linda Hunter –
    “if helicopters go into wilderness to tag wilderness animals for control in an area where no control was the legislative intent . . how will they deny mountain bikers?”

    Legislative intent – expressed in the enabling language of the River of No Return Wilderness specifically recognizes the authority and responsibility of the State of Idaho to manage wildlife inside the FC. Unlike wildlife management, mechanically assisted recreation – mountain biking e.g. – is not provided for in the FC enabling legislation.

  129. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    thanks for your input.
    I am aware of the functioning of the collars and do realize that they can be outfitted to drop off. I don’t know how ((visual)) a collar is to a wolf at any distance as their vision works quite a bit different than humans.
    My interest in the subject is years old and has to do with some personal observations coupled with quite a bit of book knowledge but except for one article I read some years ago, have not been able to find any definitive information.
    As for apparently suffering no behavior changes I am sure you would agree that wolves very often key on animals that”appear” to have nothing wrong but time and again a necropsy will show different. Then the other senses need to be factored in. I will just keep looking into it.

    As for not shooting a collared animal and in respect to wolves, I would always target the Judas wolf, and would always make sure at least one round was in the neck area.

  130. gline Avatar

    With all due respect Marc, Fed Law will trump state in the end,

    Marc said: “specifically recognizes the authority and responsibility of the State of Idaho to manage wildlife inside the FC.”

    You guys are riding this concept (states rights with the FC) too hard in my opinion.

  131. timz Avatar

    And just in case you don’t know the answere it’s because nobody else talks about you nor gives a rats ass about you.

  132. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Timz – are you planning on attending the cookout/keg party?

  133. timz Avatar

    Don’t know what your talking about.

  134. timz Avatar

    And if your going to be there probably not.

  135. Si'vet Avatar

    Timz, think it’s bullshit ask the site manager. Just like Gline SORRY, cowboy. Ralph without telling Timz or Gline my name, share with them what you know about me..

  136. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Timz – please, can’t we all just get along? I have suggested to Ralph a wild game cookout and keg party for this group to get together face to face and chat it up. A date has not been set however, we will need to know if you will be there. Should be a hoot.

  137. timz Avatar

    Si’Vet like I said, nobody gives a rats ass, give it up for Christ sake.

  138. Si'vet Avatar

    TWB – I enjoy, and appreciate Ralph and his position. He isn’t all that popular in Idaho, and lord knows we are miles apart. I am on a site in which I’m an outsider, I would be more than happy to go to his bbq but it would create an uncomfortable situation for him, and I was raised to respect that.. TWB, if you SB, Layton, Cobra and whoever, are in town and want to have a few cold ones after, it’s on me, hopefully you prefer dark beers.

  139. Si'vet Avatar

    Timz, like I said chicken—=. Call me out, check it out. Scared.. Are you G’s little lackey… Again SORRY,,,

  140. timz Avatar

    “TWB – I enjoy, and appreciate Ralph and his position. He isn’t all that popular in Idaho, and lord knows we are miles apart. I am on a site in which I’m an outsider, I would be more than happy to go to his bbq but it would create an uncomfortable situation for him, and I was raised to respect that.. TWB, if you SB, Layton, Cobra and whoever, are in town and want to have a few cold ones after, it’s on me, hopefully you prefer dark beers.”

    A party without Si’vet, one of societies greatest and most productive members (just ask him if you don’t believe me),
    telling us tales about his mighty adventures killing wildlife?
    It just wouln’t be right.

  141. Si'vet Avatar

    Timz, much better thanks, and good night.

  142. timz Avatar

    What no final thoughts on how great you are, I’m disappointed.

  143. timz Avatar

    Well, not really disappointed, more surprised.

  144. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Si’vet – Ralph does a good job with this site – he is also a good and resonable advocate for the issues he cares about. Ralph and I are on the opposite side of many issues however, he is measured which allows for common ground to be found on occasion. I would like for him to speak up more often with his political science education/experience considering where we are as a country. I appreciate the beer offer – where would “town” be?

  145. Si'vet Avatar

    TWB, get my e-mail address from Ralph, your in the neighborhood. Hopefully SB can make it, I think him and I need to discuss JRT’ts white carpet and raisins.

  146. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Si’vet – will do.

  147. Si'vet Avatar

    Mikepost, recieved a response back from the commission. Sent to Ralph

  148. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Have been away from this blog awhile. To answer; You said you don’t like to see others gang up on someone. I wouldn’t worry about anyone from G&F or YNP administration acting in official capacity being picked on.

    MSG is a composite of those advising him. They are partaking in a concerted effort to break down this blog (show the errors in “radicals” or “misinformed” in their minds).

    It shows in their anger at Salle. He is the only one they go to this extent. With me they won’t comment ….. or if possible make sure they leave a mark right after I make a comment. This is so those listening in theG&F “subordinate” ranks know big brother is always there.

    MSG (Fake Flavor) fatal flaw is he is a participate in group think. It means they don’t have a very good assessment of their own thoughts and actions….or support systems behind them. This is why everyone of them get cut down by others of common group think eventually. This is why they become bitter.

    I wouldn’t worry about the greater MSG. As Salle said MSG is numb….and may I add, an android of a larger dysfunctional bull group.

    And as far as herd social order in bison and elk I ask you to write down the names of all those “biologists” you talk of who do not see this. Then in ten years see how many of them say they knew this function was inherent in herd animals all along.

    And for yourself, I ask you to read a bit closer in Heads, Hides and Horns again. Page 182 maybe? Read between the lines. Why would the naturalist Seton say it took many years for an area to be occupied again after that herd was wiped out? Think of it as towns or countries…or extended families and you have the answers to Seton’s words. No country or family is going to leave its “home” to occupy a vacant other because it then means another country or family will take over their own vacant home. Occupation has to be incremental…an expansion of ones own home.

    How about reading of the Indian bison surrounds or the way white buffalo hunters sought out or manipulated a “stand”. Read of the bull groups, their numbers and how they appeared on the land BEFORE the matriarchal components. Then translate this into roles of functional human groupings….like how the Oregon trail movement happened. It is all the same, whether man or beast.

    And read any number of direct herd structure accounts. Like Colonel Dodge telling of bulls surrounding a calf and taking it back to its family…Stopping each time the calf was too tired to keep going…all while keeping the wolf pack at bay? Or when he says when in the midst of a huge, “far as the eye can see” herd one discovers this herd “is made up of many smaller herds…all keeping space between them”.

    I read a bit of Barnes book at least once a week (Larousse Gastronomique is another). They set on the back of the john. One historical statement and it may take a month sitting on a tractor to figure out the in depth meaning of it.

    and if you get tired of Barnes bok go to the early African big game hunter books…such as William Finaughty’s Elephant Hunter 1864-1875.

    Herd social order awareness is like E=MC2. It isn’t so much the fact but what it all ties together. Try reading Barnes book again, I suggest.

  149. Salle Avatar

    Bob Jackson,

    You know, groupthink is exactly the concept that was rolling around in my brain while reading MSG’s comments and while responding to the stupid mind-set that emerges in every post. That and the fact, as you point out, that it is more than one person providing the status quo responses.

    I am aware of a good deal of what you went through with NPS, it was one of many topics discussed while I was in grad school studying park history and policy. I laud you for your tenacity in maintaining your ethical ground and fighting to the bitter end using that ethic as your weapon. In my mind, you won. Unfortunately, in this world, those who win the “good fight” don’t get medals or trophies for being true to the natural world. But you do have the respect of many, that is an honor in itself ~ an honor many don’t know how to appreciate or bestow.

    Anyway, thanks for noticing my effort-futile as it was

  150. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    [Sorry, I know I am off topic, but with Bob’s assertion, it deserves a reply.]

    Bob, I looked closedly at page 182 of Barnsess’ book as you requested. The topic sentence (lead sentence) in the paragraph, for which you cite the observation of naturalist Seton, reads, “Numerous mythologies were fitted to the superbeast image.” This was Barnsess’ point, there were alot of untrue attributes given to buffalo and buffalo products, Seton’s among them [and see my final comment below].

    Then, of course, is the following paragraph, which precedes several more paragraphs which debunk the myths that begin with this chapter at page 181.

    “Buffalo hunters believed that the bulls looked out for the herd — afterall, when hunters chased a herd they always found the bulls to the rear, protecting, it seemed, with a ‘gallantry to the fair sex, ‘ the cows and calves ahead. Actually cows outran bulls.”

    At page 26, I found another passage in which Barsness said, “The smaller cows easily outdistance the ponderously loping bulles.” This also appears to debunk the gallantry/social structure myth, in his words.

    Bob, I also cross referenced each cite in the Index to Colonel Dodge, 1867 Commander of the North Platte, and later an ardent buffalo conservationist, for the observations you claim above. I could find no support in any of these, so maybe you have another written source for me to consult, regarding Dodge – point me in the right direction and I will check it out. I truly am fascinated by this. And, the Barnsess book is great, for anyone who is interested in the history, and unfortunate exploitation and sad story of the buffalo.

    And, I do have add this. Barsness, goes to great length to say that the “buffalo stampedes” of Hollywood pictures and plains lore never happened. Rather, he gives account after account of witnesses saying buffalo were very adept at avoiding objects in a herd’s path, whether it be wagons, humans on foot, or the dreaded buffalo hunter in their midst(sad they didn’t take out the hunter). This buffalo hunter phenomenon is even depicted in a Frederic Remington painting from 1893.

    By the way, Bob, Ernest Thomspon Seton was an “animal fiction” writer, too, perhaps being more famous for this over his work as a naturalist, or a prominent figure in the Boy Scouts. He was challenged heavily by the scientific community for use of anthropomorphism iin his writings. So I am thinking he is not the best authority on buffalo behavior by reputation, alone. But then, who knows what he actually saw.

  151. Ryan Avatar


    Why are you assuming cross species correlation in Herd behavior. Musk Ox and bison display similar behaviors, but to say that members of the deer species do is a stretch, and a long one at that, at best.

    “With all due respect Marc, Fed Law will trump state in the end,

    Marc said: “specifically recognizes the authority and responsibility of the State of Idaho to manage wildlife inside the FC.”

    You guys are riding this concept (states rights with the FC) too hard in my opinion.”

    G line,

    With all due respect, your wrong. The tenth amendment specifically protects these rights. As the feds push harder expect lawsuits in the supreme court to clarify this issue.

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”

  152. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I directed you to this page (182) knowing full well what Barnes “interpretation” was. This is the point….belief in superiority over all and one has to debunk any of that incriminating info out there.

    The nazis were very good at this when it came to other humans. Of course how sheriff Bell in the movie, No Country for Old Men started to handle the prejudice and “subhuman” issue was noted in his quote, “Some say a coyote won’t eat a Mexican, but I don’t know”.

    I guess you will have add your own name to that list of biologists who ten years from now will “have known it all along”.

    As for cows outdistancing bulls that is true in most species. Smaller and more agile…but the fact is the male is the protector in many ways. In large bison herd movements the big bulls were one to two weeks in front and the bit smaller but still full grown males were behind …maybe hours and maybe up to one week. The flankers were the young bulls…the 3-5 year olds. They stayed immediately with the cows and were the hardest for white buffalo hunters to get beyond without the herd being alerted.

    In static extended family organization times defense was all around matriarchal components…just as I see in YNP stay at home unhunted elk herds. The more vulnerable the terrain the tighter the males stay, especially since wolves were reintroduced. The Parks Delta elk herd (300) has two main drainages it goes for summer grazing. One is Rocky Creek and the other is Beaver Dam Creek. Beaver Dam Creek is narrower and more wooded. This drainage has a whole guard of bulls both at the bottom and also at the top bowls. Cow herd is in between. Rocky bulls are in the same configuration but looser.

    Now down in Thorofare we have a drainage, Escarpment Ck, that holds hunted dysfunctional elk. It used to have cow elk most the way up its several mile length. Steep sides so little chance of get away. Then with the wolf reintroduction one now sees elk only at the very top bowls or high on the sides of the Plateau during the summer.

    Just like the very flee ingrained Mt. Bison that were a lot more vulnerable to human predation in box canyons and draws, the elk were flushed out by wolf predators. Now, I would bet my farm if the Escarpment elk herd had functioning male components there would be cow-calf herds on middle Escarpment down next to the creek and a full contingent of males on the alluvial fans at the outlet from the mts.


    Social structure of all herd animals is a must. It is the only way that line breeding without inbreeding can occur, Disease is overcome, the only way a member can pass on its genetics without they, themselves, producing offspring. It is the only way, ancestoral learning, of eating broad leaves can occur. it is the only way riparian damage is minimized…and it is the only way genetics is advanced other than the random chance of mutation. Finally, it is the only way culture is established. This is in my way of thinking the most important of all species development.

    It matters little if an animal is a flee or stand your ground type. the basics are all the same whether humans or other animals.

  153. JB Avatar

    Ryan, Gline:

    The issue has been clarified by the Supreme Court–and the answer always comes back the same. Take a look at Kleppe v. New Mexico, 1976, where the Court held that “…we have repeatedly observed that ‘the power over the public land thus entrusted to Congress is without limitations.’” [In this case, the court ruled that the federal government could indeed assert authority over wildlife (wild horses and burros) on federal land.]

    Mark is correct in asserting that the enabling legislation of the FCW specifically recognizes IDF&G’s authority to manage wildlife; however, this does not give them carte blanche with respect to wildlife in the FCW. Flying a helicopter low over the wilderness to shoot and collar wildlife definitely stretches that authority.

  154. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Ryan, gline

    Just to add to JB’s reference to Kleppe, there are a number of federal statutes that directly or indirectly protect wildlife, most of which get talked about on this blog with some regularity, but rarely all packaged up together. The short essay in the link below is a pretty good summary of the major ones, although several are missing, and there is no discussion of federal reserved rights to water, which is important to some wildlife.

    To be sure, there is a huge residual of authority for state wildlife management, and it will remain so, as long as it is wielded with common sense. Tension in state – federal relationships in this area will definitely continue, with a constant push for more federal usurpation of power from the states.

    Management of big game on federal lands under federal authority, in my view, will not happen, at least in the short term. Afterall, the federal government is still a compilation of the “united states” with representation in both houses of Congress. One can only imagine the complexity of hunter licensing under a federal umbrella, that would cover state, private and federal lands. The administration such a system with shared federal – state roles would be confusing, extremely costly, and unworkable. Politically, it would be a firestorm in the West, if not elsewhere.


    Bob Jackson,

    I just don’t know what to say about your last post, except that if you come up with some corroborating current research, or rigorously recorded observations of others who are credible, it makes your theories more believeable. I am still waiting for a source for Colonel Dodge’s alleged observations from the late 1800’s, which you quoted. earlier.

    And then, of course, we still need to sort out what of Barsness’ book you want to cite as factual, as opposed to what parts you – and only you – suggest are myth.

  155. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    To the Staff, legal and otherwise – how does the Wilderness designation impact the possible treatment of wolves for mange or other diseases as has been proposed by some member of this group? Clearly, the use of helicopters and other unauthorized equipment would be necessary to capture and then treat the wolves.

  156. JB Avatar


    I don’t think anyone is talking about a system where the federal government manages hunting; though maybe I’m wrong here? Were federal intervention to occur (which I agree is doubtful), I think it would be much more likely to simply ban certain practices on federal lands (e.g. aerial gunning, recreational trapping of certain species). None of this would threaten state management, though it might limit tools available to them.

  157. JB Avatar

    TWB: I’m not entirely sure; however, I think the chances of wolves being “treated” anywhere in Idaho–or anywhere else in the West, for that matter–are somewhere between slim and none.

  158. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    The issue of federal involvement in wildlife management, including hunting, has come up on other threads. Indeed, the presence of wolves on federal land, as a state managed wildlife species which could be hunted (and has been in MT and ID) upon delisting, seems to crop up with some regularity. So, I thought I would throw that in, with my own, and now your, speculation that federal intrustion in state hunting authority is an uphill fight. This is outside research activities and oversight involving helicopters in designated Wilderness, where there is authority, but perhaps not the will, to limit them.

    Unless I misunderstood Robert Hoskins, I thought he was advocating more federal involvment in state hunting regulations, by advocating the public trust doctrine, which I believe he was inclined to believe was a federal doctrine as applied to wildlife. Haven’t heard from him since JimT and I gave him some background materials indicating it was state based, where essential trust language was present in state statutes.

  159. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Two issues you present. One is use of helicopters, which is likely permissible under limited federal permit. This, I believe, may be challenged in the WWP suit that was filed about two weeks ago.

    Second, is the practicality and cost of trying to treat mange or other diseases, which may include use of transport of equipment/animals or aprehension of the animals with helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. However, this surely bumps up against the purpose and integrity of maintaining Wilderness character. As we can see, that is a huge obstacle for a number of us.

  160. JB Avatar


    Sorry, apparently I missed that conversation. Actually, in retrospect, I suppose placing some type of limitations on the hunting of wolves, grizzlies, or other predators on federal lands is a distinct–if outside–possibility. Jon Way, who posts here sometimes, has advocated for canid-specific legislation protection wolves and coyotes, for instance. In fact, if things continue along their current trajectory–I think such legislation may be essential (at least for wolves and grizzlies).

    However, I agree that there is no chance that the federal government would try and step in and actually regulate hunting in general (including the sale of licenses).

  161. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    All – seems to me that the “Wilderness Designation” can be used in the possible upcoming budget cutting situation. Can it not be argued that wilderness saves money at least on a current budget level? Less administrative cost, lower maintenence, enforcement cost etc. I realize that this would have to be offset by resource revenue however, here in MT it does not seem that resource revenue is increasing.

  162. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks with Bears,

    You can make a good argument for Wilderness designation from a libertarian viewpoint, e.g., Wilderness area management requires the government to do what it does best — nothing!

    Interesting that the Frank Church Wilderness helicopter lawsuit follows that logic. The suit is to prevent the government from doing something.

  163. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – have you done or have access to any research on the dollars and cents bottom line?

  164. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Do you mean the costs of wilderness are management? No.

  165. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    What are the necessary costs of managing a designated Wilderness area, anyway?

  166. Elk275 Avatar


    ++However, I agree that there is no chance that the federal government would try and step in and actually regulate hunting in general (including the sale of licenses).++

    I do not think that the wildlife watchers would be able to do anything about the federal goverment regulating in hunting in general. But, it is the piss off non resident hunters who might become your allies as they are fed up with restrictions and higher license fees. But becareful what you wish for if the federal goverment was to control hunting on federal lands, would not land owners want the same rights.

    It is the privatization of wildlife on private lands that could and would be the game changer.

  167. JB Avatar

    ElK: To be clear, I don’t want the federal government controlling hunting. I’m an advocate for the NA Model, at least insomuch as state F&G agencies are willing/capable of representing the desires of ALL of their citizens.

  168. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – so, the only cost would be enforcement/user management? No wildfire suppression? If so, the only other issue would be loss of resource (timber, grazing and extraction) revenue correct?

  169. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Interesting you should raise the private lands matter. More and more private timber companies which own land in the West (including insurance companies as investments, like Hartford, Travelers), are converting to what is called a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). There are tax reasons for doing so because these lands are not being used just to grow timber anymore, and a big incentive is to be flexible in their business pursuits, including development. In Idaho, Potlatch Forest Inc., which owns alot of land in north central ID converted to a REIT about five years ago, as did a number of companies. Potlatch charges access fees to their land, mostly at this point for each vehicle – truck, car, atv, motorcycle, and trailer (camp, horse, etc.), and maybe horses and people, too. The costs can be quite pricey.

    Other RE(T’s, charge to lease a piece of land, under a long term agreement, holding auctions for this purpose. Or, they are charging to hunt on their land (Potlatch does all oft these things in WI and AR, I think). This charge for access and hunting privilege, of course, has been going on in the East and the South for decades, because there is less federal land for recreation. Even private ranches, as you know are doing this, and that has increased the concern for game ranches and “farmed” elk and deer, and the attendant problems with CWD or other disease.

    My but things have gotten increasingly complex in the face of growing human population and desire to make a profit.

  170. Elk275 Avatar

    JB: I agree with the above statement 100% but I feel that Montana could reinstate grizzly hunting in the spring for a limited number of male bears in the Bob Marshall complex and the Rocky Mountain Front. This is not going to hurt the population of bears. But there are those who want no grizzly hunting regardless of the population dynamics, so how do we represent the desires of ALL citizens? I do not know and either does anyone else.

    As for me I have shot black bears and have no desire to shoot another one, but I would like to get a grizzly. The problem after killing a bear one has a $1500 to $2000 bill for making a bear rug with felt backing or $6000 for a full body mount. The last thing I want in my house is a full body grizzly bear mount. What should one do? I still would like to shoot a grizzly. But I would much prefer to spend the taxidermy money on some very old but good Navaho rugs or additional hunting trips. My next trip to Africa will be for cull hunts only, for the money spend on dipping, packing, grating, shipping and taxidermy I could go on another safari. Life is full of choices. Hunting is my first love.

  171. Elk275 Avatar

    Wilderness Muse:

    The 114,000 acre Flyiing D Ranch southwest of Bozeman owned by Ted Turner in 2008 did 45 elk hunts for $14,000 for a total of $630,000 gross revenue plus approximately $50,000 for additional whitetail trophy fees. These elk are managed like livestock. The cost of 45 elk hunters is less than $200,000 for a net profit of $500,000, a petty good take for an additional business.

    The good thing is that these elk are free ranging and will move off of the ranch and on to public lands. It is a public resource that has been privatized. There are many large ranches in the Gallatin Valley that have done the same thing. Except for Turner who is a friend of wolves, on the other ranches wolves are a predator that will be shot on sight and no one will ever know. Ranches that I have hunted on in the past for free or a small fee are now leased to outfitters.

  172. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks with Bears wrote on January 28, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    “Ralph – so, the only cost would be enforcement/user management? No wildfire suppression? If so, the only other issue would be loss of resource (timber, grazing and extraction) revenue correct?”

    I think so. Enforcement and user management would be about it. Trail clearing is under user management I guess, but there are areas in the Wilderness system where there are no trails or are poorly cleared.

    When I was researching for my two books on the Teton Wilderness, I was amazed, got confused and kind of liked how poorly the trails in the west side of this big Wilderness were so poorly maintained. It really was raw wilderness where you could just disappear.

  173. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – I think the pro wilderness group needs to add this to its selling the wilderness concept – goodness knows you guys get pounded on loss jobs etc. might as well fight back with a few numbers of your own.

  174. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks with Bears,

    I agree wholeheartedly with myself 😉

    I have suggested other “conservative” arguments that should be used, especially regarding property rights. They are usually ignored, but sometimes, maybe 5 – 10 years later I see some catch on. Did I plant a seed?

  175. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph/TalksWithBears: there will never be a revenue loss from the ending of timber, grazing and extraction in wilderness areas because all those activities are conducted at a net loss to the feds once all fully loaded field and admin. costs associated with the sales and program management are tallied up. Just mandating that all these programs be revenue neutral probably would end the bulk of them without any fight over access.

  176. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Mikepost – thanks.

  177. JB Avatar

    Elk: Hunt the grizzly and donate the carcass. We are desperate for mammal specimens.


    Mike’s right. Although a big loss in board feet from the NF would likely mean an increase in the price of timber, which could, in turn, make logging in the NF profitable again. Round and round we go!

  178. mikepost Avatar

    JB: at least you and I and all the rest of the tax payers would not be paying the subsidy…

  179. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – I am not a supporter of more wilderness – I feel that we have enough as is. With that said, the issue you and this group has brought front and center regarding the Frank has really struck a nerve with me. I have had it with the Federal government lying to us, changing the rules as they see fit and gaining more control over us – I am sick about it. So, maybe circumstance makes for strange bed fellows – this period we are living in will certainly shape all of us more than other times. Issues like this makes me thankful for taking the time to get to know this group and you keeping this forum going – in my professional life I am a long way from these issues however, I must say that I see some similarities in how the Federal government in small and large ways acts similar to the ones you are involved in. Investment in dependable information is more important now than ever.

  180. JB Avatar


    That’s true! I’d much rather have that money go to trail improvement, research, or restoration projects; or at the very least logging projects that are cost effective.

  181. NW Avatar

    So many kinds of craziness in this thread. The mind boggles.

  182. NW Avatar

    I have to add, though, that Mr. Jackson is capable of being annoying far beyond the ability of any other poster.

  183. NW Avatar

    Ralph and Wilderness Muse are somehow able to dredge up wisdom from this abysmal swamp. My thanks to them.

  184. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    That’s the way threads go. People write about a number of different things at one time and it gets confusing. So it might seem to be a bit of a “swamp,” but thanks for your thanks.

    I tried using WordPress’s automatic ability to organize threads into sub-threads, but hardly anyone liked it. If folks want me to implement this again for a while, please say so.

    I don’t have the time or inclination to spend all day manually moderating every comment and rejecting those that don’t logically relate to those made previously.

  185. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Something must be bothering you NW. People with abusive pasts can become aggitated. Maybe you are someone who hasn’t dealt with why they kill…or understands their relationship with other species. Or if you are a wildlife management application “scientific” sort of guy occupationally maybe you have problems with realizing you spent most of your professional career knowing the world was flat but now in your twilight years you find out the world isn’t some other configuration?? Maybe you have to confront what it was really like in your administrative offices? That all that repeated justification of yours for “not falling on the sword” for this issue or another was really just a cop out for you capitulating to or subordinating others. I don’t know. Maybe you need to explain further.


    I gave you all the answers to your questions on social order months ago. Maybe go back through those posts to find the answers….Sometimes the best answer is in the question. Remember the one where I said to Ken Cole and you doubters …. where I asked for you to relate the studies that show there isn’t social order in herd animals?

    Or to actually give you one I include Dr. Dale Lotts “studies” on bison behavior where he says the only purpose of males is to grow up fast so they can be competitive with other males….otherwise they just lay around waiting for the next breeding season. Ya, and this comes from a guy who got his doctorate in bison studies and wrote two books on it. Ya, show me the studies refuting family social order.

    I’d say yours and Ryan’s knowledge comes from understanding of “common knowledge” just like other “hunters” who don’t want to think about they are doing when they kill. Same for those herd biologists associates of you who don’t “see it”….. who, like MSG, treat animals with words like harvest, recruitment and basically pig farmer management ideas.

    I say wild life “professionals” manage wildlife for the lowest level of species existence and most of the “hunters” who “harvest” these free range animals don’t have a clue as to what it feels like to feel the peace and harmony of being part of stable populations like Lewis and Clark or early African big game hunters related in print.

    I say hunters need to ask more of their “professionals”. Demand these folks start a management program that allows for this peace and feeling of well being while out there killing.

    Ya, NW maybe this thread hasn’t stayed on track with planes, trains and automobiles crashing but what I read in all these posts is something getting into the depths of the mind…and these are the only reasons we have places like Frank Church. So maybe not dealing with the most boring statistics sometimes actually allows for more FCW’s. NW tell me more of your world.

  186. gline Avatar

    Thanks Bob Jackson, you are my hero.

  187. Ryan Avatar


    I wouldn’t knock your theories so much, if you weren’t the only one pushing them. I honestly feel in your old age you manipulate your memories to make them fit your new agenda. Most old people do, it seems.

  188. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    If you just cut to the chase with Bob, you will quickly conclude he has no respect for formal science, those who are trained in scientific method, or the studies they do using these methods; is a great fan of trying to get others to prove the negative (scientifically impossible); is skilled at avoiding meaningful answers to direct and even blunt questions; is not above telling a tall tale or two; is skeptical of anyone who works in government, especially administration at the federal level, and specifically NPS; he is imbued with observational powers which elude mere mortals; takes great pride at trying to get under your skin with expert baiting skills and derrogatory name calling; draws much of his wisdom and witty sayings from the best lines of mostly cult or B grade movies; and recently has disclosed he does his best reading (and thinking) on the john..

    That being said, he gives one pause to think about the obvious, or maybe not so obvious, in the natural and man impacted world of wildlife; knows alot about free roaming and farmed bison (elk, I’m not so sure); is not afraid to take on the National Park Service for bad policy (including retaliatory employment practices/looking the other way on illegal elk salting practices by outfitters) and win; has the weight of 30+ years as a seasonal backcountry ranger in Yellowstone, with a poaching arrest record that is the envy of any law enforcement officer; is maybe a bit long-winded, but tells great stories.

    All this being said, I respect and enjoy Bob’s contributions, annoying as they sometimes are. Maybe there is even a pearl of wisdom in his posts, for all of us to take away. That does not mean I won’t try to keep him honest.

  189. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Not going to address all you said but I do have a lot of respect with HARD SCIENCE but very little with APPLIED science.

    And I guess I’d like to know the “tall tales”….or two. Maybe it was the big foot I saw in the NW part of the Park. Or so many bull elk bugling around my cabin in Thorofare I couldn’t sleep???

    Don’t dissagree with your assessment of the lack of respect for most administration types…they mostly are yellow backed and traded in their original beliefs for joining up in the govt. resource field long ago. Army administration yes. At least there is recourse in that organization.

    Don’t bait…except the time I “nailed” Ryan and Layton on their back room ballistics crap. To me baiting leads to loss of respect then abuse of people. Not good for the soul. Sometimes I don’t say all I know at first…but this is to keep from having too many of those “long winded” writings.

    And I did get a lot of poachers (guides, outfitters and professional types) to cry and totally break down by using knowledge to counter every alibi they had. And yes, just about everyone of them hated me by the time they got to the frontcountry. This is when they realized their staus at the bar had just been deflated from a swashbuckling rooting tooting cowboy to the lowly drugstore cowboy they knew deep down they always were.

    And Ryan I hope to have a few more years going at it before senility…or is it boredom? …sets in. Want to take a shot chasing ride through the willows and see who comes out the other end? I’ll even give you the best horse to ride. Of course you will probably opt for a hackamore to use.

  190. NW Avatar

    Military, law enforcement and horses… throw in bow hunting and you’ve pretty much captured a segment of society. I’m glad we have them, but I can’t stand to listen to them for too long.

  191. Layton Avatar

    Gosh Bob,

    I’m honored to make your list — but I wish I remembered the incident. 8)

    “Don’t bait…except the time I “nailed” Ryan and Layton on their back room ballistics crap”

    The only time I remember talking about ballistics with you, you were advocating a 45.70 as the best thing since sliced bread. All I can say about that is — it fits. It became obsolete about the same time that most of your stories did.

    Other than that I do remember a discussion about the spelling of a pretty common article of tack when one is rigging a pack string.

    Hate to break it to you Bob, but you’re not the biggest buck on the lick anymore – if you once were. I’m reminded of the old saying about ” the older I get – the better I was”.

  192. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I was teasing a bit, but the bottom line was intended as a compliment, in case you missed it.

    I ordered Dale Lott’s “American Bison,” on sale used and shipped from for about $12. I had heard of him, as one time chair of the Wildlife Biology Dept. and researcher at U of Calif, Davis. Wrote a book on vertebrate social behaivor. Well respected, grew up on a ranch in MT and loved buffalo, maybe as much as you. So, we’ll chat after I read his book, which I guess by your ealier post you are dismissing as accurate. Did you know him, personally?



    I remember the .45-70 discussion (with Bob setting you and Ryan up). Got a kick out of it. It seems there are current applications for this short range heavy round in a quicker lever gun that are far superior than Ryan’s new toy, the .300 RUM, which only comes in a slower cycling bolt gun that will knock you on your back side with a hot load.

    Seems I also remember a saying that sat on the desk of a boss of mine from years ago. “Old age and treachery, will beat youth and enthusiasm, every time.”

  193. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I like your compliments wm. Kind of like the one I heard in high school, “You don’t sweat much for a fat lady.”??


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan