PBS program on wolves, bears, bison and the ESA

This is a good national television treatment of the issue-

Salle put this link on the “have run across any good stories” page, but it should be a full post.

Hunting Wolves, Saving Wolves. PBS

Salle. I know you tried to call me about this, but I was out in the hills most of the day. Ralph

Additional info on wolves, etc. from PBS. I have to wonder about some of it like “On a calm night, howls can be heard from as far as 120 miles away.” They must have meant twelve miles.




  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    At the end of this video, Mike Clark of GYC says on the one hand he wants the feds to pay attention to the science, not culture, of wildlife conservation, then on the other hand he negates that statement by making wolves, grizzlies, and cowboys equivalently valuable cultural symbols of Yellowstone. In his view, the purpose of GYC is to effect a conversation among wolves, grizzlies, and cowboys.

    At best, this is muddled thinking, because as we’ve seen repeatedly, when cowboys are in the conversation, wolves, grizzlies, and bison (lets not forget bison, shall we), suffer, die, or are sent into exile (privatization). The cowboy is interested only in the cowboy, and the cowboys political power, and the cowboy’s profits.

    At worst, this isn’t thinking at all, it’s just sheer hypocrisy. It’s just feel good conversations that foundations like, not effective conservation.

    PBS also repeats the fraudulent “open spaces” argument.

    I’d give the program a “C.”


  2. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch

    Is this show going to be on TV or do you have to watch it online? I can’t watch it online cause I don’t have a fast connection. If it is on TV when will it run?

  3. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    I believe it will be on TV the week of Feb. 26th. You will have to check your local PBS atation to find the exact day and time they air the NOW program.

  4. Salle Avatar

    That’s interesting, RH. I am glad that you pointed out the inconsistencies. I seem to have missed them on the initial viewing. But it’s true. I did notice the closing statement of Mike Clark and was skeptical of the “conversation with cowboys” statement. As you said, they aren’t interested in anything other than themselves and what control they can maintain in land use, politics, and wildlife minimalism.

    That being said, I thought there was some good points made and god interviews with Doug Smith and Doug Honnold. Suzanne Stone was eloquent in her part too. There was, considering the audience that would see this, an important introduction to the issue for the general American public that would normally be kept off the air.

  5. Salle Avatar

    The heading implies that it will air the week of 2/26. Check your local PBS listings for “NOW”.

  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Yes, the interviews with the two Dougs were good. The state reps. came across as equivocators, even Carolyn Sime. Unfortunately, with all the “let’s collaborate with the poor ranchers” rhetoric one gets from DOW, Suzanne is simply in a compromised position. Same with GYC.

    What I object to in these documentaries is that the producers don’t dig into the actual history of the issue–they just accept the stock narratives, such as the multi-generation rancher. I’m tired of the good American cowboy getting a free pass. I’m tired of hearing about fourth and fifth generation ranchers as if somehow they’ve been here forever and somehow they are essential to the future of the West. I have friends whose families have been here for hundreds, nay, thousands, of generations. They’re the ones who are the future of the West, not the mythical fourth/fifth generation rancher. There are truly so few of them that they are essentially a myth. I’m tired of the failure of reporters to talk about the true history of the livestock industry in the West, e.g., the range wars, the violence, the murders, the destruction of land, wildlife, water, people.

    The livestock industry is a mendacious, rapacious, and brutal economic and political oligarchy. That’s the history. But no one wants to admit it.


  7. Salle Avatar


    I can’t argue with any of that. I have many friends who are members of the original people who inhabited this land and I agree that they get no respect or notice from the media, even PBS. Unfortunately, it also means they get no attention with regard to how they have been and are robbed.

    Interestingly, a reservation in North Dakota, I think it is, who experienced massive infrastructure damage during the blizzards of over a week ago. They had no power, water, or heat for about a week. Much to his credit, Kieth Olberman of “Countdown” fame made a scathing comment about the government ignoring them. Within 48 hours massive funds were raised online through his web site which he had linked to theirs. Things are being repaired now, finally. The DOI is getting a bad rep, and much deserved, for paying more attention to the ranching oligarchy than those whom they have made an extra effort in promising to attend to.

    I think Salazar needs to go home to his damned ranch and hang with his cattle, he isn’t doing anything worthwhile at his job in the government.

  8. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I just finished watching the program. I think it did a good job of presenting the different aspects of the wolf controversy. Most of the viewers will get a better understanding of the wide range of opinions related to wolves. The more they get to see Ron Gillette spout off, the more of them will support the wolves.
    It was a little sanitized from both viewpoints. The ranchers got a pass on how they treat the environment and the wolves got a pass when they didn’t show them actually killing the elk.
    Did you notice that Bangs and Smith both handle wolves barehanded without any protection for themselves or the wolves? They could easily transmit parvovirus from their dogs to the wolves and tapeworms from the wolves to their dogs and kids by the careless way they do their research.

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I had not heard of the ND situation. I don’t have a TV. It is a shame that it takes Keith Olberman in NYC or wherever he is to bring it to the government’s attention.

    I am convinced that the future of the “West,” which is an European construct, nothing real about it, is with indigenous people, and those who seek to become indigenous. That means staying for the long haul, thinking in terms of hundreds and thousands of generations. Unfortunately, western civilization–actually all civilizations–is incapable of doing that, which is why civilizations destroy themselves eventually. American civilization is no different–we’re watching it self-destruct right now. Thinking tribally/communally will be what gets real people through it. The rugged individualists, actually, those on the government dole, like ranchers, will not find survival easy.


  10. Salle Avatar

    I don’t know if the government has been involved yet. But Olberman did make mention of how much was raised over night and urged further participation of the public. He is in New York.

    Actually, there are far more civilizations who are trying to live in accordance with their ancestral values and practices, it is the infiltration of the free market capitalists who are thwarting their efforts. For reference, read The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein. A real eye-opener on that subject.

    Regardless, we have a done little in curbing our greed, as a society, and have little information regarding what is really going on with regard to the national agenda. Too many of us are distracted with the latest fads to be able to fathom what is really going on in the world. Hint: you will not see the truth on TV for the most part. Even if some thruths are presented, you won’t be getting the whole story and you won’t be made aware of the biases of the presenters – MSM.

  11. mikarooni Avatar

    I’m what is commonly labeled as “indigenous” along with less flattering terms and a rancher, a public lands rancher, and, although after meeting my fill of those who call themselves cowboys I sure don’t think of myself as a cowboy, I do think of myself as a cattleman. With all of that said, I’m afraid Robert Hoskins is pretty much correct. I don’t think a few cows are the end of the world; but, today’s “cowboy culture” is as fake as the proverbial three-dollar bill and now nothing more than a propaganda tool used as a body-shield for a “livestock industry” that is run by an MBA-inspired culture in western costume to sustain what has become “a mendacious, rapacious, and brutal economic and political oligarchy.” I wish that we could talk honestly and objectively about how logging and ranching and other such activities can and should fit into the western landscape in ways that are properly scaled and tailored to what the land can and should support; but, we can’t. The selfishness, greed, and “winner take all” mentality of these MBA-inspired and driven industries ensures that, if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile and still want more. Compromise and collaboration are meaningless terms because they want it all; they want it now; and even the majority of ranchers, the ma and pop operations, are just victimized dupes, fodder for the machine.

  12. Dave Avatar

    The report mentioned a throwback from the bush admin, but in the printed adds the target was salazar. Why not Mr. obama?

  13. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I pretty much agree with you. Did these oligarchies not exist, we could discuss those things, and discuss them intelligently, but as long as the oligarchies hold power, it’s folly to talk because when you’re through talking, the same old shit is still piling up. Courtney White’s “a west that works” is a red herring if I’ve ever smelled one.

    When I think of indigenous peoples, I think of people who’d understand instinctively this quotation made by Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings: “The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air.” In civilization, if 1/10th of 1 percent of the population actually understands Treebeard’s words, can understand the subtle changes that mark how the world actually works, it’s a miracle. It’s the tragedy of civilization–of conquest, of genocide, of ecocide, and of the State, the Church, and the Army–that we’ve destroyed the people who do understand it. It’s a tragic loss of knowledge, because ultimately it’s the loss of knowing how to survive.

    I’m not sure what state you live in, but I’d hardly say that here in Wyoming there are a lot of mom and pop ranchers left. Everything’s pretty much been bought up by the investment bankers, the stockbrokers, the dot.com tycoons who got out in time. (Actually, this influx of wealth merely perpetuates the history of the western livestock industry, which began with eastern and British capital taking advantage of free grass and the subjection of Natives. The MBAs followed the Army, as it were. It was an invasion of MBAs even before there was such an academic degree. It certainly was all about profit). As it happens, I live in such a community of moms and pops here on the Rez, and as I’m sure you’re aware, they’re not doing too well. Ask them what the Stockgrowers or the Department of Agriculture is doing for them, you get a hard stare for an answer. Really, it’s a rhetorical question. Then you get the complaints about wolves and bears.

    Unlike most progressive conservationists, I don’t call for an end to grazing. How could I, when I myself own horses? In any case, grazing of some sort is here to stay unless the West turns into a desert–and it wouldn’t be the first time (e.g., the Altithermal that lasted between 6000 and 3000 years ago). Plus, a focus on grazing fails to reflect sophisticated strategic thinking. It’s using a hammer to solve a problem for which a scalpel is needed. The fundamental problem is the oligarchical political power of the livestock industry. If we could solve that very complex problem by cutting into the critical paths of power that sustain the oligarchy (mostly economic), the ecological problems of grazing would solve themselves.

    All talking does is sustain the status quo.


  14. JimT Avatar

    The comments on this post have been among the most cogent, thoughtful essays I have ever read on this blog. It is much appreciated.

  15. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Last year, biologists made quite a stir when then killed a Grizzly Bear Cub in Glacier National Park. The cub died from the dart needle moving around and tearing an artery.

    Watch the dart in the drugged wolf that Yellowstone National Park wolf researcher, Doug Smith, is carrying in this PBS program. The dart is moving around as they carry the wolf. This can rip blood vessels open and cause death or tissue damage that leads to infection. Is leaving a dart in an animal while moving it like this, standard procedure?
    I wonder if Doug got some good photos on this flight that his wife can use in next years’ Yellowstone Wolf Calendar.

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Larry Thorngren,

    Comparatively speaking, I think Yellowstone Park researchers treat the wolves well.

    There has been an underground discussion on-line that some Wildlife Services agents flat out abuse the wolves while they are tranquilized.

  17. Barb Avatar

    I’d like to know why Ken Salazar won’t provide federal funding for livestock losses due to predation from native animals. The Dept of Interior says it has “more important conservation” issues. What’s “more” important? It’s all important.

    Salazar was not my choice for Dept of Interior. Coming from a long line of ranchers, I would think he’d be the first to support federal funding. Sounds like his answer is “it’s up to you, just go ahead and shoot ’em.”

    If we had federal funding, wouldn’t this cut down on a lot of the wolf hostility?

    Here’s responses from my recent e–mails with George Edwards, Montana Dept of Livestock:

    “Senator Tester introduced his bill in 2008 prior to Salazar. It was signed by President Obama last January and the appropriation bill to fund this was signed by the President last summer. The Department of Interior was supposed to work jointly with the Department of Agriculture on rules for states and tribes to apply for the funds. To date this has not been done. In fact the Department of Interior is trying to suspend this program in their 2011 budget.
    USFWS FY2011 budget justification.

    Wolf Livestock Loss Demonstration Program (-$1,000,000/+0 FTE)
    In FY 2010, Congress provided $1,000,000 to fund a demonstration program used to provide grants to
    States and Indian Tribes to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to
    reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by wolves, and to compensate livestock producers, as
    appropriate, for livestock losses due to such predation. The Service proposes to discontinue funding this
    unrequested earmark in FY 2011 in order to fund higher priority conservation activities elsewhere in the
    budget request.

    This language is found on page 88 of 503. http://www.doi.gov/budget/2011/data/greenbook/FY2011_FWS_Greenbook.pdf

    George Edwards | Department of Livestock | LLMC
    Helena, MT | gedwards@mt.gov | http://liv.mt.gov | 406-444-5609

    “The federal government does not want to pay for prevention and compensation. Testimony against federal funding came from the Department of Interior. In order to get any federal legislation passed, Senator Tester placed a 50% cost share into the language of the bill. This language states that the federal government will provide only half of the funding for prevention and compensation provided by states and tribes.

    To get the federal funds, we need to provide funds ourselves first. If we paid out $100,000 the federal government would then provide half that amount back into our program. Currently we have not received any federal funds for our state program within the Department of Livestock.

    Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks DOES get federal funding for wolf management and monitoring but they do not provide any funds to our agency for loss and prevention.


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