Wilderness wolf lawsuit attracts wide environmental base

Rocky Barker’s update on the lawsuit filed by Wolf Recovery Foundation and WWP-

I want to reiterate that the part of the lawsuit applying to the Frank Church Wilderness and the chasing, darting, and landing there to radio collar wolves, is not primarily a wolf issue. It is a Wilderness integrity issue. I would be equally irritating if they were doing this to capture elk, wolverine, bears, . . . whatever.

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Wilderness wolf lawsuit attracts wide environmental base. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

As Rocky explains, I think the declaration by Dr. Jim Peak gives a crushing blow to Idaho Fish and Game’s argument that this is necessary wildlife management. Here is Dr. Peek’s declaration. Critical reading!



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  1. jdubya Avatar

    “”The primary flaw with IDFG’s plan is that it is not a valid research project because it does not have a comprehensive study plan.””

    Study plan?? You mean science?? Imagine that being important in such issues.

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The first thing that struck me from reading Dr Peek’s declaration is that if IDFG has no study plan for wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness, does it have a study plan for wolf populations anywhere else in Idaho, say, for example, the Lolo? That is, can we give scientific credence to any data and conclusions that IDFG presents?

    Perhaps Mark would like to address this question.


  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I don’t think we have learned anything about the Lolo study except that they are collaring a lot of elk and finding out how they die.

    Their study design should be completely available to the public. I can think of ten or 20 questions to ask.

  4. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Several years ago I read a study of African Wild Dog predation on large African herd mammals. I have since tried to find it on the internet and have failed.
    The study was to determine what there was about the herd animal, that was killed by the wild dogs, that triggered the dogs to attack it. The study concluded that the dogs selected for ANY difference in the selected animal compared to the rest of the animals. It could be anything: Size, big or small, something wrong with how it moved, its color, etc. The researchers found that painting a 2×6 inch white stripe on an impala, to make it different from its’ herd members, triggered an attack.
    Researchers who put neck collars and radio collars on prey animals are making those animals likely to be selected as prey. The collaring of elk to study wolf predation is not going to produce valid information. It is like putting a “kill me” sign on the elk. The reason that all elk look identical to each other, is from thousands years of removal of the “misfits” by wolves. The Lolo Elk/Wolf Predation radio-collar study is flawed from the start.

  5. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Your 20 questions probably aren’t different from my 20 questions.

    It appears that IDFG is just winging it.


  6. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Your Africa example is a good one. A little closer to home, it might be that Doug Smith at Yellowstone, David Mech or Val Geist have an answer for wolves and elk/deer. Scott Creel at Montana State is also referenced for 8 of the 25 or so Wild Dog study references in the article cited by Jon, above.

    I suppose it is even possible the six state wildilfe agencies that have wolves and prey species could also offer some input. Whether you choose to believe them is entirely a different issue.

    Larry, maybe you would want to email Dr. Creel for some input, since he is kind of an African wild dog expert, and we know he is very current on the wolf – elk fear of predation issue in MT and Yellowstone.

  7. JimT Avatar


    Is “winging it” a cause of action?

  8. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I think being gutless and/or stupid is an element of agency discretion.


  9. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Larry and All,

    I took the liberty of communicating directly with Dr. Creel about the possible selection by wolves for collared elk, as well as the reference to the African wild dog study you mentioned and the apparent conclusion that they may select for certain herd animals that are “different.” Dr. Creel is Professor of Ecology at Montana State University. He knows a bit about wolves and their effect on elk in the NRM, as well as African wild dogs (website: http://www.montana.edu/wwwbi/staff/creel/creel.html).

    Here is his response to my inquiry, which includes a comment about research in Wilderness.

    ++I had a look at the discussion you mentioned. Although I have published a lot of research on prey selection by African wild dogs, I have not seen any peer-reviewed paper that showed an effect of painting a stripe on the prey. It is true that studies of some predators have detected an ‘oddity effect’, where prey that are unusual for some reason can be more
    likely to be tested by predators. However, it is also true that most modern studies make an effort to minimize the size and conspicuousness of radiocollars (for example by color matching). The collared elk in our study had annual survival rates above 95%, and this sort of rate is typical of most studies of radiocollared elk, so it is pretty clear that collars are not a ‘kill me sign’. Of course, the broader question of allowable activities in wilderness areas is a different and more
    complicated issue. While I personally think that the information to be gained from radiocollars can justify their use in wilderness areas, I certainly acknowledge the argument that research in wilderness areas might be expected to follow the same rules as other activities in wilderness areas.

    Scott Creel

  10. JimT Avatar


    Problem is, the APA and court decisions pay way way too much attention to the concept of agency discretion, as you know. I would love to see the APA amended to lessen this kind of systemic bias towards the status quo of agency rules and directives; I think both parties abuse it, and the programs are weaker for it.


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