ID Fish and Game shows they are turning Idaho's wolf plan into one like Wyoming's

Leaked memo shows massive effort coming to kill off Idaho wolves-

The memo below from Cal Groen, Director of the Idaho Fish and Game Department confirms my call about six months ago that the Department was working with, or told to work with livestock interests to devise a method for a massive wolf reduction program.

The memo essentially says that many parts of Idaho where wolves now live, and where the Idaho Wolf  Plan said wolves could live, will  actually be frequently swept clear of them by Wildlife Services.  The excuse will be the relatively minor livestock damage that takes place.

This, no doubt, includes the Sawtooth Valley and the entire Sawtooth National Recreation Area.  In fact, it includes almost all of Idaho where there are any livestock.  This has the effect of making Idaho’s wolf plan into something very much like Wyoming’s plan, namely to keep the wolves out of most the state — the very reason why the wolf was not delisted in  Wyoming  in the first place.

Wyoming was upfront about it. They would kill wolves as varmints in 87% of the state. Idaho claimed that wolves would be allowed to inhabit any part of the state. The wolves would be judged on their behavior. This no doubt impressed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In fact, livestock politicians were planning to make most of Idaho a no wolf zone just as Wyoming was. However, they were more clever and more sneaky than Wyoming.

This memo makes it very clear why they want to radio collar the wolves in the Frank. We never could get a straight answer from Mark Gamblin about this. They would like to limit wolves to a few Wilderness areas.

The Idaho wolf hunt has not killed very many wolves, and it won’t kill many more. That is because Idaho is the most rugged state in the union, so where wolves can best hide out. Therefore, they are implementing this plan to be conducted by Wildlife Services.

This is like a hundred years ago. Wolves were not wiped out by hunters. They were wiped out by the federal government in league with livestock associations. Then they used poison. Poison is out for now.  Instead they have radio collars and expensive gunships.

Although this memo was leaked on a bowhunt site by Nate Helm, who heads a group nominally in favor of more deer and elk,  it is really a plan by the livestock industry, for the livestock industry and justified by the killing of a trivial amount of livestock.

To raise money, many national groups have focused on the wolf hunt, but they need to be like Western Watersheds Project and focus on the enemy of wolves and pretty much all wildlife, and enemy of real hunters* too — the public lands livestock industry.  The threat to wolves is not hunters. It is the rural livestock aristocracy . . . the folks that are killing our bighorn sheep, steal grass from elk, who have ruined stream fishing for a century, and spread cheatgrass all over creation.

Readers of this memo will also note they are cooperating with Montana to kill wolves. So folks should be wary about that state too.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –


Feb. 10, 2010

TO: Regional Supervisors FROM: Cal Groen, Director SUBJECT: Response to wolf depredations on livestock C: Fish and Game Commissioners, Jim Unsworth, Virgil Moore, Mark Collinge, Nate Fisher, Bonnie Butler

Despite our increased response to controlling wolves depredating on livestock in recent years, wolf depredation complaints continued to increase. In November 2008 the Idaho Fish and Game Commission directed IDFG “To develop and aggressively utilize all available tools and methods to control wolf caused depredation of domestic livestock.”

Responding to that directive, our control efforts have progressed as follows:

• Decentralized decision-making to Regional Supervisors when authorizing removal of depredating wolves. • Extended the effective period for take orders by USDA Wildlife Services (WS) and kill permits (livestock owners) from 45 to 60 days following the most recent depredation incident.

• Authorized additional WS wolf removals and extended kill permits based on recurring incidents or chronic history of the wolf pack involved.

• Allowed kill permit designees to include all members of a grazing association during their entire grazing season.

• Increased authorization to remove most or all of the members of wolf packs involved in chronic depredations where there has been a history of depredations from previous years.

• Developed area-specific harvest objectives for the 2009-2010 wolf hunting season to address livestock conflicts.

• Authorized take orders during open hunting season when hunting proved ineffective to remedy chronic depredations.

• Increased coordination between Montana and Idaho WS. IDFG authorized WS control actions in response to 160 confirmed and 43 probable wolf depredations on livestock during federal FY2009. These control actions resulted in removal of 107 wolves including complete, or nearly complete removal of 6 entire packs (Middle Creek, Snake River, Applejack, Falls Creek, Sage Creek, Blue Bunch) as authorized by IDFG. Fish and Game authorized the removal of the Blue Bunch pack but complete removal was not achieved during the federal FY2009 period.

Since the end of the federal FY in September 2009, IDFG has authorized the complete removal of all, or nearly all, members of 3 additional packs (Basin Butte, Steel Mountain, Sweet-Ola) in response to repeated depredations caused by these packs.

Although the Department has documented nearly 300 wolf mortalities in 2009, livestock losses continue at an unacceptable level. As a result, we need to renew our commitment to meeting the Commission’s directive to reduce livestock depredations.

With due consideration to maintaining linkage corridors, we will recommend to the Commission increasing harvest limits in 2010 and expanding season dates in wolf zones with chronic depredations.

Further, in high conflict areas where a history of depredations exists, we will respond to a confirmed depredation incident more aggressively by authorizing WS to remove all involved depredating wolves.

Additionally, I am committing staff to work cooperatively with WS to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative methods, such as sterilization or other nonlethal measures, to alleviate wolf damage. We would like to keep all options available to manage wolf depredations in the future.

– – – – – –
*”real hunters”. My definition of a real hunter is someone who sees elk, deer, etc. as part of the great wild, the great outdoors. He or she does not see them as alternative livestock. Just as cattle are not “slow elk,” elk are not merely “speedy cows”.



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  1. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    I cant wait to see how Mark Gamblin IDFG spins this.

  2. Salle Avatar

    I knew it, f’ing slimebags. I wonder what kind of “out the other side of his mouth” spin Gamblin will offer on this one. Talk about two-faced. But then, this is the same crap the state pulls with regard to Native Americans on a regular basis. It’s why they’re always in court.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    THANK YOU! What a coup. You think maybe Nate Helm is still at the helm (no pun intended) of SFW-Idaho for letting this one slip? It’s like WWII, “loose lips sink ships.”

    Those of us who have paid close attention to wolf conservation have always found Idaho’s plan to be suspect: unlike either Montana’s and Wyomings, as you point out, the Idaho plan when it was released by Ed Bangs for so-called “peer review” was so vague and bereft of detail that its empty promises to conserve wolves always seemed like empty promises. Idaho clearly meant then and still means to disrupt the “metapopulation,” despite the throwaway comment in the memo about “maintaining linkage corridors. What good is a linkage corridor if there are no wolves in it?

    Well, if you disrupt the metapopulation, you also disrupt delisting. What goes around comes around.

    I guess I now don’t have to answer Mark Gamblin’s question to me on another threat about what I mean by “metapopulation.” He knows damn well what I mean.

    I suppose we will have to vet this memo before sending it on to Doug Honnold so he can hand it over to Judge Molloy. I guess this is as close to a smoking gun as we’ll ever get. So let’s be sure.


  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Robert and everyone,

    Remember that the hearing our on TRO on the helicopter darting in the Frank Church is Thursday at 4 PM at the Federal Courthouse in Boise.

    There have been several more briefs and replies by the Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game and the plaintiffs since the declarations of our folks were posted here.

    The Forest Service continues to pretend that collaring the wolves will enhance wolf recovery or somehow help their recovery, so, they say, letting Idaho Fish and Game trammel the Wilderness is a “minimum tool” for Wilderness management.

    Idaho Fish and Game has dropped this ruse. Now instead, the Department firmly states that data from the collars will be used to make “intensive management decisions” about hunting and killing wolves.

    I could go on, but the Forest Service’s reply brief and Fish and Game’s reply brief unintentionally contradict each other.

    If you read the briefs, it is amazing how nasty they are for government legal documents.

    These government folks are pissed that anyone dares sue them like this. Will there be consequences?

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Well well,

    This story just posted on another thread shows the Idaho legislature is indeed thinking just like their counterparts in Wyoming.

    Resolution seeks ‘emergency’ reduction in wolves in the state Spokesman-Review

  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    The link doesn’t go anywhere.

    As for the agencies being unhappy with the collaring lawsuit, let em stew in their own poison juices. I’d say something else but it’s obscene.


    Robert must have read it fast!! I had a broken link for about 30 seconds. Ralph

  7. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Could judge molloy rule earlier if this is about to happen?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Molloy could rule at any time. Tomorrow or months from now.

  8. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Does anyone have information or logical deductions re: how much influence Ed Bangs may have brought to bear re: Groen’s amplified policy agenda?

    I was originally going to say policy agenda shift but it seems more now like a no holds barred promulgation of a policy agenda long in place.

    I am nearing completion of a complex writing project re: many of the issues exposed in Groen’s memo and any insights would be much appreciated!

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Salle and Ralph

    Found it and commented.

    Certainly, if the Idaho “emergency” resolution actually passes, Earthjustice could file for an emergency injunction to enjoin the emergency declaration. Even the consideration of such a resolution would be enough to file for an injunction against Idaho.

    All this grandstanding certainly brings into question the whole 10j nonsense under which the livestock industry and WS is killing wolves wholesale. I’d like to see WS shut down period. Let’s put wolves under the full protection of the ESA.


  10. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    It appears the 2,000 to 3,000 wolves Doug Honnold deemed necessary in the PBS video will be a no go with WY and ID clearly not supporting additional wolves.

  11. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Idaho is stupid if they think Judge Malloy will tolerate this slimeball move. Gamblin must be proud to work for such stooges.

  12. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    My impression is that Ed most of all wants wolves delisted, and so he wouldn’t support anything that derails delisting. He was not particularly happy when Kempthorne decided to overturn the original FWS determination that Wyoming’s dual status plan was contrary to the delisting criteria established in 1994. Kempthorne’s decision made the FWS look pretty silly, since it was 180 degrees from the law, which the courts easily recognized.

    Certainly, these emerging facts about Idaho’s wolfly intentions can only lead to wolves going back on the list.

    Hope this helps.


  13. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    “……Instead they have radio collars and expensive gunships………”

    $1000 hr for the gunships, $3000 ea for a latest generation collar.

    All the while crying po me po me, we is so broke.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Valerie Bittner,

    It’s almost like the walls talk. My impression from talking with a lot of people who almost, but don’t quite say things, from reports, emails, phone calls, etc. is that most of the key decisions on this issue have been coerced at least by subtle threat from politicians like the former Secretary of Interior’s office (Kempthorne), state legislators, governors and state wildlife commissioners.

    Those who are carrying out these policies might come to believe that they really believe in what they are doing. It is easier to live with yourself that way.

  15. jon Avatar

    This is why states like Idaho should not be allowed to manage wolves.

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Jeff E,

    Yes there is plenty of money for this kind of ideological war on wildlife. Meanwhile, hunger is spreading in Idaho. Idaho’s elementary and secondary schools might get a 20% cut. More and more people are losing their jobs, homes, and living in the streets and shacks in the rural areas.

    There is not just a war on wolves by this legislature. There is a war against people who are not rich or politically connected to the state’s dominant party.

  17. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    You bring up important points. We all know this is how things work, but it’s virtually impossible to “prove” since all this happens mostly sub rosa. It’s only when someone’s stupid enough to put it in writing that you have something to take to court.

    We’re running into the same thing with the quarantine bison issue. It’s quite clear from the “talking walls” that Brian Schweitzer has ordered FWP to hand these bison over to Ted Turner regardless of legal objections, but try proving it. It’s all off the record.


  18. Salle Avatar

    Which is why they should probably not even be allowed to be a state fer criminy-sake.

  19. spanglelakes Avatar

    This isn’t just about the livestock industry and their pimps complaining about wolves – it’s also driven by predator exterminator Nate Helm, Idaho Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife.

  20. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    for what will be spent on this show of power every livestock loss could be replaced twice over or more and relocate any truly offending wolf(ves) and still cost thousands less.

  21. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    In the proposed Idaho bill how does the directive to Idaho FWP to manage for “human consumptive use” fit in with wolf management – in other words did the ESA agreement regarding wolves that all parties agreed to take into account the wolf impact on “humnan consumptive use wildlife”?

  22. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    If Idaho spent half as much time and energy into their schools and trying to bring jobs in as they do trying to kill wolves, that state would be the envy of the nation. Shows where their priorities are.

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The downtrodden folks in Idaho need to somehow get organized and given hope that they can have a better life. After living here for most of my life, it is very hard to see how that can be done.

  24. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Maybe Idaho should lose statehood and go into some kind of federal receivership…

  25. Salle Avatar

    You may recall why I moved, no opportunity. I would have stayed there if I could have found a way to make a living and not have to join certain “organizations” to survive.

    I also take issue with the education system in Idaho, they sure do like having uneducated folks to buy their bull… the politicians that is. Now that the scare tactic machine has been running full bore with no guardrails, it’s certain they will send the whole lot of the public careening over the nearest cliff to make sure that nobody has the ability to oppose them.

    It reminds me of a story that a friend told me about how his mom handled the situation when he and his brothers were misbehaving in the car… She’d tell them, while swerving all over the road, “If you boys don’t sit down and behave I’m going to drive crazy and kill us all!” ; )

  26. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Steve c – maybe so, except for that pesky United States constitution. How about less drama and more perspective just because a state chooses to have fewer wolves than you think it should have you demand it lose statehood. Are you a really a “wolf hater”? I’m thinking so, no one that really cares about wolves would carry on in such a manner.

  27. Cobra Avatar

    Not everyone in Idaho is uneducated. There are plenty of people here that have good sense and a good education. There are also some that don’t and sometimes they have the biggest mouth. I don’t realy know if it’s lack of education or more a lack of common sense and having an open mind. My son has his masters and my daughter her doctrait and several kids from the local schools has done well. The biggest problem I see in the school system here is the teachers do not push the kids to further their education. To many teachers teaching for the job and not the kids. It’s not just in Idaho either, friends I have that are teachers in other states tell me the same thing.
    Just because some people do not always agree with your ideas does not make them uneducated.

  28. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Talks with bears- they are choosing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or more on the meaningless and pointless (to the day to day lives of the people of their state) destruction of predators while the economy collapses and 10% of the state population is unemployed. Sounds pretty selfish and irresponsible to me. How does anything I have said make me a “wolf hater”? Do you think a state should spend money killing predators when funding to programs that affect the lives of people are being cut?

  29. Salle Avatar

    Just because some people do not always agree with your ideas does not make them uneducated.

    Not what I was saying. Doesn’t matter. Education in this country has been undermined for far too long and the current conditions in the political arena are evidence that this is true.

    For those who think that the Constitution over-rules here; what do you suppose would happen if a state’s government is found ~ by some authority like oh, maybe Congress or some body of government oversight ~ determines or finds that this particular set of politicians (state legislative and governing bodies) have gone totally off the path of democracy and it’s responsibility to the residents of that state that they are no longer competent to govern in accordance with the Constitution… what happens then?

  30. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Salle, you should be careful or you will be accused of being a “wolf hater”. I wonder what happens if wolves are relisted and they go ahead with this wolf kill anyways? They end up perpetually in court? Would they care?

  31. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Steve c – if you are suggesting a state be dissolved of it’s elected government structure and “taken over by the federal government” because it chooses to have a number of wolves closer to the number that it agreed to and the federal government agreed to at the beginning of reintroduction you are not doing the pro wolf movement any favors. That is why I suggested you were actually a “wolf hater” pretending to be outraged.

  32. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Salle – as long as elections are fair and free the politicians cannot stray off of the path democracy.

  33. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Can you believe that the state of Utah is attempting everything it can to stay out of this legal circus and smear campaign that ID,WY are currently enjoying. This is a public relations disaster for the pro wolf movement.

  34. Cobra Avatar

    As our fine speaker of the house said, ” What’s the constitution?” LOL. It seems to me that a lot of these things are going on in the whole country and not just Idaho.
    I just get tired of people hammering Idahoans. Some want wolves, some don’t, some want a season if wlves are here and the population can sustain it, there are good and bad people on all sides.
    Just a quick story: A friend of mine several years ago found out he had cancer and very little insurance. The entire valley got together and had a raffle, dinner, party ect. and in one night raised over 20,000 dollars to help him and his family out, local merchants donated items for the raffle and it was a great night. Unfortunatley he died a couple months later, but I’ll never forget how people here helped out. There has been others since and the same thing, no matter how tough times are people here care and help out. Sorry if I get my feathers ruffled when people start dissing on Idaho. I’ve lived in 5 different states and North Idaho for over 20 years and I take great pride in the people here, wolf lovers or wolf haters there’s good people on both sides.

  35. SEAK Mossback Avatar
    SEAK Mossback

    In reading the above memo and discussion, I think I’m beginning to understand that maybe there is a threat to wolf recovery and not just a bunch of “glass half empty” versus “half full” debate over what has by all appearances been an incredibly successful program. It appears that influential people whose goal is to absolutely minimize the wolf population have achieved specific directives within IDFG (with support from Wildlife Services).

    By the way, if wolves are now a management concern of the state, why is Wildlife Services doing the wolf control (besides being practiced and proficient at it)? Are they contracted by the state or still doing it all on the federal dime? There’s nothing quite like a deep-pocketed federal agency with a mission working on a “problem”!

    Similarities with 1915 (albeit less directly spoken)?

  36. spanglelakes Avatar

    I urge everyone reread the link that Ralph placed above and discuss this rather than get sidetracked.

    The Spokesman story says: “The resolution … encourages the governor to declare a state of emergency and require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to use “any legal means” to reduce wolf numbers, instead of just “use any means.”

    “The committee also voted to introduce a measure from Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, to make “human consumptive use” of certain game species a top priority for Fish & Game’s management of wildlife… “

  37. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    To all the Idaho G@F “subordinates” reading on Ralph Maughans blog;

    To those of you who had, but didn’t want to think entirely bad about your administration double talk,….about “his” collective air of superiority over the “uneducated”….. you see the “jargon” coming from administrative lips is, and was, just a cover.

    Or for those of you wardens and lower level biologists who already were cynical you just got further affirmation. Or did you already know it? Probably so.

    Word travels fast in house. I know it did in Yellowstone. You wardens and field biologists, you know what is going on. You know when administration tries to snow the peasants, don’t you??? At each level of those posssessing priviledged information, or so they thought, there was a haughty insider commaraderie. Who was in the clique changed with the seasons. But the only thing constant was each level thought they had insider power over the subordinates.

    The worst face jolts seen in any supervisors in Yellowstone were those with privvy info being told by the likes of me that everybody working there knows their little “secret of the day”. To expose it took the air of priviledged insider (and those advancements sought) out of all of them with every revelation exposed to the masses.

    The challenge becomes for all you collective MSG underlings is do you stew and ferment inside or do you do something about it. Those in Yellowstone who kept it inside withdrew from active participation. They survived by knowing damaging personal secrets of those above them. As my district ranger told me riding down the trail in front of me, “Everyone has secrets in their closet”. This was in reference to a chief ranger who was always haranguing him in front of this mans employees. It got so bad everyone would leave the office when the chief came in and then closed the door behind him at that district rangers definitely not sound proof walls.

    That district ranger came out of those decibel elevated beatings by taking it out on all cats and dogs (employees) in a passive aggressive way. But he stayed on….and on. The worst day of his professional life was when the chief was exposed for the private secrets this district ranger knew.

    Yes, you G&F field folks from Idaho can resort to these self consuming acidic survival methods or you can come out of the closet. By this I mean ask that your management dissents be filed in chain of command manner, accessible to those at different levels above, where you are not pistol whipped for any vocalization against an ever changing and politicalized administration.

    If you can’t do any of this at least you see by your agencies administrative collective writings in the form of one pen name on this blog they are one big crock of secretive s–t.

  38. spanglelakes Avatar

    SEAK – The IDFG is the puppet of the Governor-appointed, anti-wolf IDFG Commissioners and the anti-wolf legislature. Add in Sportsmen for Fish and (some) Wildlife, Idaho Cattlemens Assoc and Idaho Woolgrowers.

    I’ve not heard anyone from IDFG say anything positive about wolves for years. It’s all about “management” which means killing wolves. Wildlife Services does the killing and is constantly pushing IDFG to give order to kill entire packs. WS in Idaho has three airplanes and a crew of pilots and gunners whose purpose is to find and kill coyotes and wolves. Our tax dollars pay for this.

    Any clear day in winter, when wolves and coyotes are easy to spot, WS is often flying. Anyone whose seen their aerial gunning op will never forget it. It doesn’t matter if the gunner has a clean shot – if a wolf is hit by a .12 gauge shotgun blast, it will eventually die.

  39. spanglelakes Avatar

    Anyone can make a State Records Request and ask for communication between Wildlife Services and IDFG. For eg. last summer IDFG told WS to trap and collar a wolf in the Steel Mountain Pack. Instead, WS set snares and choked the alpha female to death. This was shrugged off as no big deal except, according to documents, the IDFG wolf biologist in the SW Region had warned his Superiors and WS against using snares. This biologist has since left the wolf program and southern Idaho. There are animal cruelty laws regarding pets, but it’s no holds barred when it comes to wolves.

  40. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    You keep talking about an “agreement.” I’ve been involved in wolves from the beginning and I have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no “agreement.” There is a final rule for wolf reinroduction.

    There is also science, which does not remain static.


  41. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – when the wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies did all parties agree to say the “the terms of reintroduction” in a document which they all signed known as an “agreement”?

  42. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    That question has a Joe McCarthy ring to it.

    The answer is no.

  43. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    This corporate mind set is in our government, not only in the case of wolves and wildlife, but also in education and kids getting a better start in life. I said this before wallstreet runs the east and the ranchers run the west. That’s what been occuring,even with Obama in office,corporations have put a strangle hold on this country. As I said when Spitzer went after wallstreet they got him,anyone who gets in the way gets it in the end.What has happened,has been going on for a long time maybe since Ronald Regan.We need a real change for the wolves,wildlife in general and people who just want to enjoy the freedom of the wide open spaces.

  44. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    There was never any signed deal that the states and the federal government made on the reintroduction of wolves. There was no informal deal either.

    Until 1994 there was great speculation whether wolves would be reintroduced to Idaho as well as Yellowstone Park.

    Wyoming always refused to support any of it. Idaho was not supportive, but willing to cooperate until the 1994 elections when the new legislature prevented Idaho Fish and Game from having anything to do with wolves (too bad it didn’t stay that way).

    I can’t find the details. Montana was more supportive. They already had a growing wolf population in the area around Glacier NP that had migrated in from BC/Alberta.

  45. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – OK, what then are the parties operating under?

  46. Layton Avatar

    I’m sorry that some of the “forwolves” contingent won’t believe ANY source of infomation/news except that coming from Western Watersheds or Rocky Mountain News or whatever. If you have read in almost any other publication in the state – or surrounding states – you would know that there is a large number of folks that don’t agree that there should be an unlimited population of wolves in the forests and mountains of Idaho.

    If you would just tone down the rhetoric, settle for a reasonable number of critters and be a bit logical, things would calm down. BUT I’m afraid if you continue to raise holy hell about restoring wolves to the full “protection” of the ESA, it is my personal belief is that there will be hell to pay!!

    Just for the record, I don’t subscribe to Ron Gilette’s BS and I have met Nate Helm once and think he is a bit off center with the SFW thing, mostly because of the predator “derbies”. But some of the folks here make them seem rather middle of the road. On the other side, but middle of the road.

    The people that I associate with on a day to day basis are pretty much outdoors minded. They hunt, fish, hike, photograph, observe and just generally enjoy the things that the forests, mountains and deserts offer. I don’t know even one that is a member of SFW. I don’t know one that would advocate exterminating all wolves. I don’t know one that is a part of this great conspiracy against the wolves that seems to be the rumor of the day/week/month/year here. None of them belong to the Cattle Association and none of them are legislators (one is a former politician), There are even a couple of RETIRED F&G biologists. ALL of them have an opinion on wolves. Are all of us naive in thinking that the wolf population is to high?? I don’t think so. (or are all of us just uneducated, ignorant, low foreheaded rednecks? 8) – maybe you shouldn’t answer that)

    It’s going to take a bit of cooperation on BOTH sides to make the wolf controversy go away and so far the side that I belong to has only seen “we want more” and “leave them alone to do whatever” from that other side.

    I honestly believe that the repercussions of relisting the wolves would be something that you don’t want!!

  47. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    To add to what Ralph has said, only a damn fool would have signed such an agreement. It has always been clear that the ESA calls for restoration of a listed species to its historical range (until the criminally inclined Bush administration tried to rewrite the law). Such an agreement would have violated the ESA.

    No agreement was signed; I never even heard of it being proposed. In any case, both Wyoming and Idaho tried in their wolf plans to restrict wolves’ range (and numbers) to the absolute minimum, thus violating the metapopulation requirement for delisting. Wyoming was open about it; Idaho tried to do it on the sly, and the FWS let it slide.

    It seems clear that Idaho’s true intentions have now been revealed. It would be appropriate not only to put wolves back on the list, but also put an end to the 10j classification.


  48. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    I read this memo (which I presume Ralph or others have confirmed to be authentic and implemented under Groen’s signature) three times. Is there a date on this memo? I did not see one.

    Does it not just summarize what IDGF has been doing openly for the last two years, or so? Does it advocate any illegal acts under state or federal law? Does it somehow suggest they will implement a strategy to go below the management numbers/packs/breeding pairs that is stated in their approved Plan, or under the delisting rule which is at present the law of land and the NRM (until Molloy rules, whichever way that goes)? Does it command any other cooperating/coordinating state or federal agencies to act outside state or federal law? Has any party acted outside the law to date?

    If the answers to those questions suggest illegal conduct, violation of intergovernmental agreements, deviation from approved plans or other suggested illegal conduct, then maybe there is something to “howl” about. If it does not, then maybe this alarm is a bit premature.

    Maybe the progress of the litigation over the FCW and SNRA will flesh out more.

    Again, I would, as a preliminary matter, like to know if this memo is authentic and whether it is a change in policy direction.

  49. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – so in your opinion the absolute minimum numbers violates the ESA because those minimum numbers would not allow for recovery in the “metapopulation”?

  50. Jeremy B. Avatar


    There are several official legal documents that are relevant to the reintroduction. All of them can be found here:

    The oft-cited 100 wolves per state was included in the original EIS (from 1994). In the Recovery Plan, the primary objective was: “to remove the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf from the [ESA]…by securing and maintaining a minimum of 10 breeding pairs in each of three recovery areas for a minimum of 3 successive years.” (p.12)

    The Recovery Plan is an important legal document in understanding the intent of the FWS at the time recovery/reintroduction efforts began. However, it doesn’t have any teeth. [if I knew how to make text bold, I would bold this statment] The ESA does NOT define “recovery”. A species is only deemed recovered when it no longer meets the definition of “threatened species” or “endangered species”. Because determination of whether a species/subspecies/DPS meets one of these definitions must be based upon the best scientific or commercial data available, the “target” (so to speak) can and does move.

    As Robert noted. There is no agreement with respect to the NRM population of wolves.


  51. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – why would only a “damn fool” sign such an agreement? Do not good fences make good neighbors?

  52. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Layton – good luck with this group – after last evenings railings about the Federal Government needing to “take over” Idaho because the state legislature seems to have a different idea about the number of wolves than some here, this whole issue has reached a new level. I, like yourself have tried to be a voice of reason but, some here are too far out there. I am sure the “I will never vacation or visit Idaho” crowd will show up soon – also helpful.

  53. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Jeremy B – thanks for the link – that is exactly what I needed.

  54. Layton Avatar


    “I am sure the “I will never vacation or visit Idaho” crowd will show up soon – also helpful.”

    Got a flash for you — they DO visit, and they DO vacation, and they DO enjoy — they just don’t admit it here. Someone might point out to them that they are being hypocritical. 8)

  55. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    RE: the helicopter darting in the FCW/SNRA suit
    ++I could go on, but the Forest Service’s reply brief and Fish and Game’s reply brief unintentionally contradict each other.

    If you read the briefs, it is amazing how nasty they are for government legal documents.++

    Would you, or in cooperation with WWP, be willing to make these FS and ID reply briefs available on this or their website? It would be very interesting to see what they have to say.

  56. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Layton – got it. They do not take the “pointing out” so well now do they? I guess we can keep trying. Have a good one.

  57. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I will say it again. If you have an opinion about how IDFG manages wolves, show up at their commission meetings and express an opinion. I attended several meetings last year and those of us that spoke out for moderation and supported wolves were a small minority compared to the anti wolf crowd. Pro wolf people from the Sun Valley area couldn’t be bothered to drive 60 miles to Jerome, Idaho to testify on the proposed wolf hunting seasons. Trashing Idaho because the agriculture interests control Idaho Politics is not a good approach.
    Idaho is pretty well split between Republicans and Democrats until you include the southern Idaho folks that get their marching orders from Salt Lake City.

  58. Jeremy B. Avatar

    Layton, TWB:

    The people that support efforts to retain legal protections for wolves in the northern Rockies are as diverse in their reasons for wanting protections as those who oppose wolves. Some want truly wild populations of wolves capable of influencing ecosystem processes; others think wolves and other animals should have rights; others simply want wolves in more places; and still others view wolves as a test case for how far the government is willing to go to restore wild animals that we eradicated.

    Suggesting that these people and their motives are “unreasonable” because they aren’t willing to agree to some arbitrary cap on the wolf population is not going to earn you any friends here; rather, it only inflames people who are already upset at what they see as an unreasonably low cap. Moreover, thinly veiled threats suggesting wolves will be illegally killed if people push for more than a token population only confirms what most here already believe–that regulatory mechanisms in place are inadequate for wolves’ protection.

  59. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Jeremy B – “Moreover, thinly veiled threats suggesting wolves will be illegally killed if people push for more than a token population only confirms what most here already believe”

    Are you suggesting that I have made threats thinly veiled or otherwise regarding illegal action towards wolves or any other animal?

  60. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    I will make the documents available after the hearing on the TRO on Thursday. Maybe before. I’ll have to talk with counsel.

  61. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    The memo is dated Feb. 10.

    One friend talked with and Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner this morning. The commissioner had the memo.

  62. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Layton and Talks With Bears,

    There is not going to be any successful boycott of Idaho by people who don’t like the state’s wolf policy.

    However, the Fish and Game Department, by loudly saying wolves have hurt elk hunting, when it probably hasn’t, has resulted in out-of-state hunters staying away. That’s the irony!

  63. JimT Avatar


    What repercussions are you “warning us” about if the law and science tell us wolves are to be relisted? Are you referring to an increase of illegal poaching by hunters and grazing advocates? Would you support such action because you disagree with such a decision by Judge Malloy? Do your friends you mention in your earlier post?

    As for compromise, I will say it again…The history of compromise between the traditional economic interests of the West…mining, grazing, lumber, oil and gas..and environmentalists have largely resulted in those industries breaking those agreements, or ignoring them. Tell me why, with this history…should we, the environmental side, give the industry side any credibility at this point in time on most any issue, much less wolves? If anything has demonstrated that the history won’t change, it is the increasingly hostile attitudes by the state agencies and their supporters in the grazing and elk lovers contingents towards wolves. Mark Dowie has a wonderful book on the history of violence against environmentalists in the 70s and 80s. I would recommend it to you, but you would not believe it anyway. Still, it is out there…

  64. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Larry Thorngren is right. You need to go to Commission meetings. The current Commissioners won’t like you, but you don’t have to like them.

    It would also help if you bought a hunting license, fishing or combination. They don’t cost much. It is 33.50 for a combination license. Only 12.75 for a hunting license!!

  65. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    JB said regarding your statement not you were going to do it yourself,but it shows what you know about the antiwolf people. They will take the law into their own hands,that says it all about the anti wolf people.

  66. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’m sure Layton is not going to do anything illegal. Those who do, don’t talk about it on-line.

    Layton is talking about more poaching of wolves by other folks, but I doubt the law against poaching them is being enforced anyway. Makes no difference.

  67. JimT Avatar


    Why should one’s credibility depend on supporting the very department with whose polices some here disagree with so strongly? If we follow that kind of logic, I would say Layton and TWB and others should buy memberships in DOW, TWS, and others for us to give credence to what they say here when they are espousing balance and compromise….~S~…

    More seriously, your proposition shows just how badly skewed the whole business is in Idaho in the direction of grazing and elk…I have a feeling the Commissioners would gladly take the money, and secretly laugh at the gesture. Morever, it is not uncommon for folks who are environmentalists of some sort to be threatened or intimidated at such meetings, hence the reasonable reluctance to attend. Just look at the history of ranching and meetings and threats in Catron County…

  68. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Valerie Bittner wrote: on Feb. 15 at 9:44 PM

    +Does anyone have information or logical deductions re: how much influence Ed Bangs may have brought to bear re: Groen’s amplified policy agenda?+ [snip the rest]

    I doubt he had any influence. I heard some months ago he got the state wolf managing folks together and pretty much told them, “Don’t f- – – this up!” By that he meant don’t do things to give Judge Molloy a reason to overturn the delisting, but Cal Groen just did.

    Groen was probably showing the Commission, governor’s office and the Republican caucus how devoted he was to killing wolves to try to ward off livestock’s usual swipes at the Department during the legislative session.

  69. Leonard Schultz Avatar
    Leonard Schultz

    Can’t help but see we got a real problem with politicians in Idaho. Seems they hear enough lies from an outspoken minority of loudmouth people that call themselves hunters, they make some knee jerk reaction and want to kill wolves. Everything I read don’t indicate that wolves are a problem that needs all the attention. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says elk numbers are up significantly in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming over the last 25 years. Hunter success for elk and deer is high. A few sheep and cattle get killed each year but wolves sure as hell don’t compare to all the other things that kill them. What is the problem with wolves and politicians? Can’t believe some of them boys in the Idaho legislature ain’t smart enough to read up on some fact and be real men and women about this whole thing. The facts don’t support all the actions of politicians and the IDFG. Must be that they are willing to sell out their moral and professional integrity by catering to the loudmouth minority. Too bad because I would like to believe our state leaders and biologists are smarter than that. I’m hoping that some of them stand up and be men and do the “right” thing for a change. Get some spine so to speak. And the Fish and Game Commissioners are a real disappointment too, cause they want to play biologist and one is a retired biologist, but they are going about this all wrong. They should be role models for sportsmen but are running scared from the likes of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, who is a bogus outfit if I ever saw one. Me and the people I hunt with sure hate to see SFW take the sport of hunting away from real sportsmen and steal the stage from real hunters. Most hunters are good people that don’t poach game including wolves. Don’t judge real hunters by what is going on with wolves. Seems to me this whole wolf issue and the poor judgement of the state of Idaho officials should be made a national issue because there is so much federal land involved here. This ain’t a simple state issue about wolves, it is a national issue and you people need to stop talking among yourselves and get this out in front of the people of this country. Tourists, hunters, fisherman, hikers and the likes need to chime in. I’m certain that state politicians forget that if they screw up this chance to manage wolves the “right” way the wolves are going to be back on the endangered species list again and that wouldn’t be good for any of us. Funny how politicians get to believing an unproven lie about wolves killing off all the game until they actually start passing bad laws and bills. I’m hoping the smart ones stop and think what they are doing. There is still time.

  70. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I have been at a lot of hostile meetings over the years. I’ve never seen anyone hurt. I could write a lot more about precautions, but won’t here.

    Let me add that if you are worried, bring friends. The more friends, the better you will do and the safer you will be.

  71. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Richie – what damn statement did I make that Jeremy B and now you are referring to?

  72. Jeremy B. Avatar

    TWB: My apologies, I was referring to Layton’s comment: “I honestly believe that the repercussions of relisting the wolves would be something that you don’t want!!”

    – – – –

    JimT: My advice is to where camo, it serves the same purpose at a F&G meeting as it does on the hunt–it helps one blend in. 😉

  73. Jeremy B. Avatar

    sorry; meant to say “wear” not “where”

  74. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Jim T – there are people that live here in the west now that you need on your side – we are not industry, not pro livestock and not anti wildlife. We vote and enjoy the enviromental resources available to us and we are active in our communities. Seems to me that you want to push us all away – if so that is your business.

  75. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Jeremy B – accepted, I don’t roll that way.

  76. Layton Avatar


    “What repercussions are you “warning us” about if the law and science tell us wolves are to be relisted? Are you referring to an increase of illegal poaching by hunters and grazing advocates? Would you support such action because you disagree with such a decision by Judge Malloy? Do your friends you mention in your earlier post?”

    “if the law and science tell us wolves are to be relisted”

    Which science do you want? The science that was in effect when the wolves were brought to Idaho? The “new” science, complete with the “genetic exchange” red herring? Or maybe the next version that is invented by the “for” side?

    Law?? The law that is in effect now? Or the new law that will be passed, if not in response to this law suit, then by the next one, ad nauseum??

    “an INCREASE in illegal poaching” Is there a problem now? Can you prove it, or is it simply made up? How about another “when did you stop beating your wife” question??

    “Do you support etc, etc, — do your friends”?? Why would I support ANY illegal acts on this forum?? Oh, because I’m one of those stupid, red necked, Idahoans? Nope — Don’t think so.

    Come on Jim, quit talking like a lawyer and tell it like it is for once. Yes, I’m bitter. As a matter of fact I’m QUITE bitter. I’m bitter because I SEE what has happened to the elk herds where I hunt. It doesn’t matter that (whatever authorities) they have taken out a couple of packs in the area, the elk herd is depleted badly. I know I’m not creditable because I don’t worship at the alter of “Captain Marvel” or another of the “greenie” symbols. I used to honestly believe that common sense would one day prevail, even on this blog. I’m pretty much convinced any more that that is not possible. I still try but I don’t think there is much hope. To many people just blindly drink the koolaid offered by the “for” crowd and don’t give a damn about other facts or opinions.

    OK, rant over, now can we do something positive??

  77. JimT Avatar


    Despite evidence that declining elk herds..there are disagreements about the actual numbers from I have read here……are due to other factors besides wolves…habitat loss, climate change, disease, you continue to focus your anger and resentment solely on wolves and those who want the wolves restored to traditional habitat in numbers that don’t require worry that a hunt or poaching will reduce populations below sustainable levels. I don’t much hope there for something positive, as you say, so long as that is your primary attitude.

    Science evolves. I want the best current peer reviewed science that isn’t subjected to political cleansing by either side of the debate. Fair enough for you?

    There has been poaching of wolves. Your statement seemed to hint at some future action that would be bad for wolves. In light of what is “bad for wolves”, I guess killing them illegally is the first question that came to mind in response to your observation. Your ” beat my wife” analogy is misapplied here.

    I don’t recall ever calling you anything pejorative like you mention above. It sounds like you a bit defensive. I have said that educating oneself about the political, biological, and legal issues related to the reintroduction of wolves is a good thing no matter who you are.

    You don’t seem to like lawyers much. That is your choice. But it does tick me off that when folks get in trouble due to their own actions, they go running to find a lawyer to help them. I don’t accept all clients, and if I found out that someone who came to me for help was a habitual critic of lawyers without cause, I would invite them out the door, and would hope any other lawyer would do the same.


    I am not trying to drive anyone away; what I am saying is that the deck is heavily stacked in favor of the status quo…livestock and elk folks..and to ignore that, and its history, is to bury one’s head in the sand. I am saying the history of compromise with industry interests has historically not gone well for environmentalists or the environmental matters at issue. I see the burden to prove credibility and the ability to be trusted lies on those vested interests, and the state and federal agencies…NOT with the environmental side. So far, if anything, the industry interests and the state agencies are making things worse, and don’t really give a damn about anything but getting the wolves into some sort of defacto zoo situation.

    So, given that, where are you?

    I don’t do camo…clashes with my gray hair…;*)


    no, maybe not the meetings you attended have there been instances of harm, but certainly intimidation. And what concerns me is that at one time the Catron County grazing meetings didn’t result in violence, but when nothing happened to the ranchers who did the threatening of both activists and BLM front line staff, it just fed the fire. I would hate to see this happen in the wolf states. The onus to stop that kind of nonsense lies with the agency conducting the meeting; I hope you can continue to rely on them.

  78. Layton Avatar


    “I don’t much hope there for something positive, as you say, so long as that is your primary attitude.”

    Check!! I think that the attitude on the (what you call) environmental side is exactly what you are trying to accuse the “other” side of. Of course you don’t agree, why would you??

    No, I don’t think you, yourself, have probably used anything as pejorative as the remarks I referred to above, lawyers don’t do that – sometimes I wish I didn’t (but only sometimes 8) ). That said, please don’t try to deny that there are MANY “pejorative” comments about people that live in Idaho — on this thread and others.

    As a matter of fact I find it rather curious that the target(s) of those remarks are normally residents of states that exhibit some sort of dislike toward wolves. As I recall Utah is the latest. Interesting.

  79. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The IDFG commission has always treated me well when I speak at their meetings. Most of them come up before the meetings and shake my hand. I have had anti-wolf people come up afterwards and thank me for my comments. I grew up these folks and I am not intimidated by them. Some of the people on both sides of the issue are former biology students of mine: Matt Douthit, Suzanne Stone and others.
    It needs to be repeated again and again that the Yellowstone wolf population has decreased from a high 174 a few years ago and now numbers under 100 animals. All without being hunted. The Idaho wolf population will follow the same pattern.
    I am disappointed that IDFG wildlife professionals are so afraid of loosing their jobs that they become doormats and mouthpieces for the agricultural interests.
    I wonder how many of those hunters who bought wolf tags, changed their minds about shooting a wolf once they saw up close what magnificent animals they are. I still can’t believe that it was that hard to find them.

  80. Layton Avatar


    By the way, you said.

    “Despite evidence that declining elk herds..there are disagreements about the actual numbers from I have read here……are due to other factors besides wolves…habitat loss, climate change, disease, you continue to focus your anger and resentment solely on wolves”

    Please, enlighten me. The general area that I hunt is the McCall zone. This zone has had many forest fires since 1994, the environmental conditions — browse, etc. – are ideal for a booming elk herd. I haven’t heard of any disease concerns, there is no habitat loss, I work all summer every summer ensuring that the invasive weeds are at the lowest possible level 8) — in short there IS no other reason — that I have heard of (and I keep pretty close tabs on it) — for there to be a lack of elk. If they were there I’d find them, I’m in the woods all summer!! Yet there is nothing eating all that new browse.

    Peer reviewed? No. But pretty damn accurate.

  81. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I don’t doubt that you are a good observer, and I know well that the fires around McCall have created what should be great elk habitat. Nevertheless, your observations are anecdotal, just like mine.

    I hope Idaho Fish and Game’s current elk survey, done every three years and now underway, will give us some real data to chew on instead of our individual observations.

  82. Layton Avatar


    Thanks — I’m going to take that as a complement (I don’t get many here) 8)

    Good news on the elk survey — but be forewarned — if it doesn’t come out my way ——————– it’s WRONG!!

  83. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Layton and all,

    Does anyone have the final figures on the elk hunt this year. People are arguing about the numbers of elk, but how many were shot and retrieved during the hunt?

  84. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    they are choosing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or more on the meaningless and pointless (to the day to day lives of the people of their state) destruction of predators while the economy collapses and 10% of the state population is unemployed. Sounds pretty selfish and irresponsible to me.

    Steve c, that is ultimately the saddest part of the argument. The fact that this is such a high priority of the state shows some screwed up priorities in the government there.

    However, the Fish and Game Department, by loudly saying wolves have hurt elk hunting, when it probably hasn’t, has resulted in out-of-state hunters staying away. That’s the irony!

    Ralph, I think that is one of the most comical results of all of this. People piss and moan that all the elk are gone and then wonder why people are not coming in from out of state to hunt. What did they think would happen?

  85. jon Avatar

    Hunters and wolf haters alike would have you believe that wolves are gonna make elk become extinct in Idaho. I have also seen hunters claim that wolves are wiping out other animals like coyotes and other smaller animals in Idaho. The nonsense will never stop. It amazes me how many wolf haters waste their time and energy into hating the wolves. There must be far more important issues to these people than wolves eating elk.

  86. Ryan Avatar

    “Wolves are being both legally and illegally shot in Idaho.”


    Why does this thread keep getting brought up to the top in the most read threads? Seeing as how comments are off and all, the only thing that bothers me “I know, I know ego” is a comment bashing me.

  87. Craig Avatar

    Ralph the F&G usually has them out around the time the new regs come out. You can view 2006-2008 here

  88. Craig Avatar

    Opps should have been 2000-2008

  89. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Greetings R.H.,

    “My impression is that Ed most of all wants wolves delisted, and so he wouldn’t support anything that derails delisting.”

    Thank you very much for your response to my query about Ed Bangs overriding motivation to delist. Thank you also Ralph for your thoughts about sub rosa influence.

    I distinctly recall in the Fall of 2008 that Bangs response to the Billings Gazette about why he withdrew the March 28, 2008 delisting rule version was that he feared that he/the Service wouldn’t “win” should that version (which weakly addressed the underlying genetic connectivity requirement of the Recovery Plan) be evaluated by Judge Molloy in the hearing on delisting then set for November 2008. I was chilled by the notion that “winning” was more important than an impartial, “sunshine” vetting of the proffered science.

    So I cannot help wondering what’s at stake for Bangs ??? — ironically, someone I once admired following for instance his poignant and eloquent comments about wolf family loyalty in a famous interview given to NOVA.

    For instance: a need to leave a historical legacy that his version of conservation science, promoted over at least five presidential administrations (incorporating at its heart a twenty year old minimalist population target), has all along comprised the “best available science”??

    I think that this is more than a fair inquiry given that his version of the science has been so powerfully influential in the construction of all of the disastrous tri-state plans that we all are dealing with now.

    Again, any insights should be very helpful. Thanks.

  90. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Thank you. I don’t notice this was happening, but it sure is. My guess is some site linked to it for the shock value of the photo.

    I am going to change its URL and that should break the link.

    We will see.

  91. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    OK Ryan,

    It has a new URL. Let’s see if it is gone tomorrow.

  92. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Valerie Bittner,

    This has been Ed’s job since the early 1990s. I think he wants to see it completed successfully before he retires.

    That might be his entire motivation.

  93. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Hi Ralph,

    Thanks much.

    Your comment begs the questions: to complete WHAT? And moreover, given the great evolution in conservation science (i.e, what a genetically sustainable population is viewed as by the scientific consensus today versus twenty years ago) what does SUCCESSFULLY mean?

  94. JimT Avatar


    One zone or fire-damaged area does not a statewide or region wide trend make. When I was living in very rural Vermont and upstate New York, deer yards and deer-hunted areas waxed and waned as hunting seasons passed. Mostly the hunters blamed it on bad luck if they didn’t get their deer. Is the lack of elk in your area simply a by-product of the fire..the elk moved out, found other places to be, and simply haven’t moved back because there is no reason to from their perspective?

    I can’t control what this blog’s members or the media “think” of Idaho and its residents. I suspect the good citizens of Idaho are not the only ones to be subjected to generalized observations. My older brother lives in South Carolina..try that one for size in the past several months if you want to read and hear pejorative comments…~S~ I try not to use personal insults here or anywhere else, but it has nothing to do with being a lawyer….

    We will just have to disagree on most things, I suspect, when it comes to wolves and maybe even predators in general. I look at the history..distant and recent..and see no real effort by the industries who depend on the public lands for their very existence to compromise, or share power. And the recent events, like the writing of this memo, the DOL in Montana attitude about bison, going back on its agreement, etc…only reinforce that observation. Things have been so skewed in the favor of the industry’s interests, I wonder if they really understand just how much they have gotten over the years at the expense of the ecosystem’s health. Maybe if they did, they might understand the frustration and hostility of the enviro side these days.

  95. Si'vet Avatar

    Layton, for me it’s the Lolo zone, because of where it’s located there hasn’t been but 1 “significant” change, other than “less hunters”. When the F&G numbers are released they will be disputed, because they have another agenda, oops lower numbers mean fewer nonresident permits = less revenue, oops, if it’s all about revenue, maybe the numbers will be skewed higher. Or maybe the numbers are what they are. Intresting enough the conversation sways toward economics, what wiil the current lawsuit cost the state? How many jobs lost because the local family owned gas station or restaurant loses it’s Sept 1st, to Dec. 31 st revenues. Oh that’s right there is going to be a big increase of revenue generated by wolf watchers during that period “in Yellowstone” this will substitute the losses in Clark Fork, Noxon, Leadore, Clayton, Mudlake. Grangeville.. Maybe Trestle Creek will reopen to feed the throngs of people driving up to see wolf, because hunters have driven all the other animals into extinction. Ralph, anecdotal, I agree, glad I am not the having to report the numbers.

  96. mikarooni Avatar

    Again, new research out of New Zealand indicates that the criteria being used to define the minimum population size a species requires to reliably sustain genetic diversity and avoid genetic bottlenecking is inadequate. The required population size (genetic population, which is different and generally smaller than just the number of individuals) needs to be much larger than previously understood and much larger than is being used to manage many TES species in the US. Under this new research, the required populations of grizzlies, in particular, is severely inadequate; but, I’ll bet the number of northern rockies wolves is also too small. It’s possible that 3,000 wolves actually is the minimum reliable population. Think about in more personal terms. If there were only 500 humans in Idaho, you’d expect them to soon be so inbred that, in only a few generations, they might all be born as irreparable morons. Well, given the current political situation in Idaho, that’s a bad example; but, you get my point.

  97. Si'vet Avatar

    JimT, here’s a free tip, find burns, find elk, guranteed!!!!

  98. JimT Avatar

    Really? So, of course, it MUST be the wolves…not some other reason since we really do know all we can about elk and why they do what they do. ~S~

    How large is this zone that the wolves have supposedly killed all the elk in and how many packs would it take to kill off all those elk in that area? Can you tell me that?

  99. Layton Avatar

    The devil made me do this!! 8)

    Mickarooni says,

    “If there were only 500 humans in Idaho, you’d expect them to soon be so inbred that, in only a few generations, they might all be born as irreparable morons”

    Maybe that’s the scientific backing the green community on this blog needs — I’m sure they can find a way to spin that there are really only 500 “breeders” in Idaho and that’s what’s currently wrong with the state!!!

  100. JimT Avatar

    So, it appears, according to the FG reasoning, that Lolo numbers are down due to lion and wolf predation, blaming these two for 25% of the mortality of cows and calves. That still leaves 75% survival rate in this the most impacted of zones, and overall, the large majority of zones are spot on with regards to elk numbers. Interesting that for the LOLO zone, no hunter predation figures are given.

    Layton, anyone with a mouse can cherry pick comments. It just makes your comments appear more defensive…I could go through and see what you have said about environmentalists that is of an insulting nature, but you know..I just don’t see the point.

  101. Si'vet Avatar

    Yes JimT “Really” you find a burn in elk country, you will find elk, for years and years. Why, because of Idaho’s limited moisture. In Idaho, other than fire, the landscape change is very slow. JimT I hunted the Lolo zone, there has not been any, “disease, hunter increase (actual permits have been reduced) fires, earthquakes etc in the last ??? years. And due to the respected area no significant habitat change, a little yes, significant no. Actual wolf numbers, I don’t have the means to count them all. I do know that where I hike into, 5 yrs. ago I found 1 wolf scat. Last fall on the same 3 mile hike there was 34 dark or fresh scat piles. 5 yrs. ago I never heard a wolf howl or found a kill. Last fall, everyday from 6am and again at 6:20 pm I listened to 3 different groups howl, and a bull that I looked at 17 yds. I found the next day as a wolf kill at 1 pm. I also know that they are looking at removing I believe 28 packs from that area. So let’s say a pack is 7 wolves X 12 elk per wolf x 28 = 2352 elk = significant. PS the commission number is 16 so I am optomistic.

  102. Layton Avatar


    “One zone or fire-damaged area does not a statewide or region wide trend make.”

    I guess you don’t hunt elk much — fire is almost a guaranteed way to make the elk hunting BETTER. It cuts out the tall canopy of older trees, makes long dormant seeds germinate and generally makes the food better for ungulates. It takes a few years after a fire, sometime after about 5 years things are really good for deer and elk. Fact of the matter is that there aren’t any critters to eat the available forage!!

    I really don’t think I said it was a state wide problem, I did say that the wolves were adversely affecting the elk population, I guess I should be more specific. Where there are more wolves, there are less elk.

    In reference to your comment — the McCall zone that I talk about is a significant part of fish and game Region 6. The Sawtooth zone is also one of the heaviest hit – about 3500 less tags than two years ago – and it is also part of Region 6 (Southwest Region). In addition, the Clearwater Region and the Salmon Region report big problems and decreased populations and calf recruitment.

    That’s three regions of seven in the state, what would you call a “statewide” problem?

    Maybe you could answer me this: F&G has been accused – on this thread and others – of being stupid and advertising that the wolves are affecting elk populations – which leads directly to less (a lot less) revenue for their coffers. Why would they do this??

    Is the value of the dollars they miss from non-resident license sales less than they get paid by some nebulous consortium of extraction industries and other exploiters of the land ? Or is it maybe that the bad nasty Republican federal officials are part of this massive conspiracy to kill wolves and they are paying off under the table?? Maybe Salazar and his minions just want to come to Idaho and hunt elk so they are doing a payoff to F&G officials to keep other people away??

    Inquiring minds want to know!!

  103. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think all of you are wrong about genetics.

    Unless there is in-migration from somewhere, the genetic diversity can never be greater than that in the founding population of animals. In the case of wolves, that was about 66 wolves brought from Canada.

    Therefore, if the current population of 1500 grows to 5000, the genetic diversity could not be any greater than it is now.

    Think of 1500 people in a town with no in-migration. These folks will be just as inbred if they grow to 5000 as it was at 1500.

    What is harmful to genetic diversity with no in-migration is a big drop in population. There will be less diversity even if it grows back to the pre-drop numbers.

    With this in mind, I can’t figure out why some wolf advocates are calling for 5000 wolves. Likewise, I can clearly see how deliberately reducing what is now a fine diverse population will be permanently harmful to the remainder even if it grows back.

  104. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’m starting to think that the current condition of population stability is just what is needed genetically and politically.

  105. Jeremy B. Avatar

    It always comes back to elk. Elk numbers have been extremely high when compared to historical records since the mid 1990s, around the time that wolves were reintroduced. Folks that can’t seem to get past the co-occurrence of these events should google the phrase “regression toward the mean”. Aw heck, I’ll do it for you:

  106. Layton Avatar


    I guess we were typing at the same time, I’m kind of slow.

    “I could go through and see what you have said about environmentalists that is of an insulting nature”

    Have at it. I’ll admit I get a bit “pissed” every once in awhile. Usually it’s in response to some pseudo intellectual putting me down personally. I actually think I’m pretty moderate at that sort of thing. Not always, but usually.

    Tell you what, I don’t know where you live, but if you live around here I’ll just bet you a beer that I can find more derogatory comments about me personally or about Idaho than you can find that I have said about environmentalists. I’ll even mail you the fee if I lose !!

    Of course you DO realize that “greenie” and “wolfie” are just terms of affection —– don’t you??

  107. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I’m glad you found it that table. From it I can’t see much of a wolf problem anywhere except maybe the Lolo.

    Layton and Si’vet are certainly right about burns being good for elk (well after 5 or more years). I think fire will be the salvation of the Lolo, and there have been a fair number of burns in recent years. I’ve walked through them.

    Still we need the latest elk harvest numbers and some new population numbers. I guess both will be coming soon.

  108. Craig Avatar

    Layton, I would agree with you! I gave it a chance, Elk changed there behavior with the presence of Wolves! I’ve Hunted the Sawtooth, McCall, and Clearwater and others over the last 23 years and the last 5 years elk have just disappeared in many of these areas because of Wolves.
    I’ve tried my hardest to see what happened, Behavior, relocation, food source change ect..ect.. I scout probably at least 32 days for 4 months before the season starts in a unit I choose to hunt.
    I take 2 weeks off every year to Elk hunt. I Hike my ass off to get away from slob hunters and idiots on ATVs. I try to draw remote units with little Hunter activity or more remote backcounty to give me an advantage, because I’m willing to work for my food! I have not even had a chance at shooting a Bull in 2 years, I’ve seen a few cows but choose not to shoot cows nor hunt them. Something has happened to the Elk populations and it sure is hell isn’t lack of habitat.
    I don’t hate Wolves and think they have a value in the whole picture! I have a love for ELK like most of you love Wolves! I have thousands of pics from Yellowstone to you name it of Elk breeding, Bugling, social structure, read the Ecology and Management of Elk of North America a hundred times just to know everything about them. Wolves have taken there toll and in some ereas that’s good others bad! The numbers of dollars brought in from Elk hunting will always overtake the numbers of dollars from people wanting to see a Wolf. So you guess who’s going to win that one!
    I know Elk behavior ect. it’s my favorite thing in this world. Some of you like Wolves the way I like Elk, so when you talk of your love of wolves there are just as many who love Elk, Deer ect and you could care less about them.
    The only difference between you and me is, I will Kill an Elk to feed my family and have respect for the animal and thanks to the animal for it ‘s life!
    Another thing Ralph said you should all by a Hunting license. I buy a sportsmans pack every year. It has Elk, Deer,Bear, Cougar, Turkey, Salmon, Steelhead, and I also bought a Wolf tag. I don’t hunt Bear, Cougar, Wolf but I do buy a tag to provide funds for those animals and non game animals!

  109. Layton Avatar


    “Unless there is in-migration from somewhere, the genetic diversity can never be greater than that in the founding population of animals. In the case of wolves, that was about 66 wolves brought from Canada”

    Wasn’t one of the original arguments for bringing in wolves from Canada the supposed fact that wolves had been migrating in and out of the three state area for many generations and, in fact, there was not any pure sub-species left in the area?

    If that is/was the case, why would there be no in-migration now??

  110. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Regression toward the mean is an important concept and most folks don’t think of it.

    However, is it not true that if there is a major underlying process at work, the effects of random change (which is the explanation for the regression) will be swamped?

  111. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You are absolutely right that was the reason for bringing wolves in from Canada, and it worked very well.

    However, now there is no more in-migration. So what we have, and it’s good, is as good and probably better than things will be.

  112. Layton Avatar


    Uhh, excuse me?? I think you have me confused with someone else. Maybe you should figure out just which side of this discussion I’m on.

    I’ve had a “big mac” (sportsman’s package) every year since they came out. I also had a wolf tag in 09 and already have one this year.

  113. Si'vet Avatar

    Jeremy, you are correct, and why is that. There’s lot of folks who have donated their own time, money and efforts into elk recovery, for a lot longer than the 15 yrs.

  114. Jeremy B. Avatar


    I’m not one who believes that 5,000 wolves is “doable”. However, I can see the frustration of environmentalists when, on one hand habitat models show potential for 6,000 wolves, and on the other the FWS tells us that the 1,600 wolves currently occupying the NRM DPS are at or over carrying capacity.

    – – – –

    Regarding genetic diversity. Genetic diversity can also be increased via random mutation. I do not know how often such mutations occur in wolves.

  115. Layton Avatar


    “However, now there is no more in-migration. So what we have, and it’s good, is as good and probably better than things will be.”

    I don’t understand why you say there isn’t. What would have stopped it??

  116. Jeremy B. Avatar


    My reference to regression toward the mean was to suggest that, if elk populations were at (or near) an all-time high, which it appears they were, a drop in elk populations (a regression toward the mean or the median in a normal distribution) was a foregone conclusion. The fact that a population drop co-occurred with the wolf reintroduction may simply be coincidence.

  117. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The only in-migration was 66 wolves from Canada. That was 14 and 15 years ago.

  118. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I see.

    However, I don’t think there was any drop in population to be explained unless it is very recent. That was I called for the results of the elk survey rather than stories.

  119. JimT Avatar

    Ralph, I hope you are wrong in your projection that this is as good as it will get for wolves and genetic diversity. I wouldn’t give up hope on roaming providing new packs in areas other than than Three States…and getting full protection, and maybe more tolerance and understanding.

    As far as the Lolo goes, I guess the problem is in the eye of the beholder..or maybe the hunter. 75% survival rate for most prey species is pretty damned good.

    Layton, as I have said, I live in Colorado. As for the rest of it, pretty irrelevant. And, as a lawyer, I will bet you a keg of the finest craft brewed ale that I have had more negative comments thrown my way than yours…~S~…

    And Craig,

    What the hell is wrong from a biological standpoint that the wolves have instilled a native prey species instinct to be hard to find in the elk? Prey species are supposed to be wary, invisible, hard to find. That is what enables them to survive. Without the canine predator presence, they have grown “lazy”, if you will. Personally, I think you would celebrate the challenge of the hunt being restored….

  120. Craig Avatar

    Layton Says:
    February 16, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Uhh, excuse me?? I think you have me confused with someone else. Maybe you should figure out just which side of this discussion I’m on.

    I’ve had a “big mac” (sportsman’s package) every year since they came out. I also had a wolf tag in 09 and already have one this year.
    Uhhh maybe you need to lay off the Scotch because I was just saying i buy those same tags myself every year! Reread!

  121. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    As for myself I like to see nature play its way out, but many people in Idaho seem to apply an agricultural model to everything in the outdoors. Things need to harvested and managed to provide a sustained yield.

    Of course, this is impossible without totally driving out the wild.

    As far as politics goes, I think it might be best to leave the population near where it is with a hunt like this year’s, and no talk about 5000 elk or 500 elk.

    To use a football analogy, I don’t know if the ball is on the 20, 40, or the other side’s 30 yard line. We’d better off if the game was called.

  122. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I think Ralph cut through a lot of crap above. Arguing over numbers is senseless. It’s not numbers that matter, it’s the interrelationship and distribution of numbers that matters.

    At the basis of the metapopulation idea is that we have to have not a lot of wolves in a small place–e.g., the so-called NRM DPS or wolves in Yellowstone National Park–but wolves in varying numbers spread across a large area, say, their historical range. North American wolves were at their greatest genetic diversity when they were spread all over North America in a large variety of habitats. This genetic diversity was developed over thousands and hundreds of thousands of years. It was destroyed over a period of just 300 years.

    What we’re working toward as we try as best we can to restore wolves to their historical range, over time populations of wolves will both stabilize in relation to their prey in specific places as well as diversify their genetics in these places as wolves from other areas move into and out of specific areas.

    What we’re trying to achieve is habitats connected to other habitats and populations connected to other populations, locally, regionally, and continentally.

    In short, the genetic strength, or diversity, of a species depends upon widespread distribution and movement of individual wolves among specific populations, thus creating the functioning metapopulation.

    This also means that if we have a widespread distribution of wolves in lots of places, we don’t need lots of wolves in specific places.

    Layton and TWB, are you paying attention? If you don’t want a lot of wolves where you hunt, you’d best support a widespread distribution of wolves throughout the West. Just a suggestion.


  123. Si'vet Avatar

    Jimt, Ralph’s right let’s let the current count give us direction, but when you get a chance scroll down on the F&G table you linked, LoLo management objective, low of 6100 to high of 9100 elk, 2006 count 3254 “well below objective”. Actual count !!

  124. Craig Avatar

    Ralph said “To use a football analogy, I don’t know if the ball is on the 20, 40, or the other side’s 30 yard line. We’d better off if the game was called.”

    Couldn’t have used a better analogy!

  125. Craig Avatar

    JimT wrote What the hell is wrong from a biological standpoint that the wolves have instilled a native prey species instinct to be hard to find in the elk? Prey species are supposed to be wary, invisible, hard to find. That is what enables them to survive. Without the canine predator presence, they have grown “lazy”, if you will. Personally, I think you would celebrate the challenge of the hunt being restored….

    Absolutley nothing is wrong with that, that’s what I said .I’ve hunted harder further and the Elk just aren’t there! I Don’t know how much you Elk hunt, but if you want this October I can take you on a nice Elk Hunt covering between 10 to 18 miles a day for two weeks and you tell me I’m not covering the most productive nastiest ground Elk harbor for cover!

  126. Craig Avatar

    Try reading the full post and comprehending before skiming and summerizing!

  127. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – so in your opinion, widespread wolves are the answer – interesting, and that is a concept that I may be able to sign on to. RH, you will have much work to do to bring your side around to that way of thinking…….Not saying you can’t do it – just sayin.

  128. Phil Maker Avatar
    Phil Maker

    Genetic in-migration is probably occurring at a rate high enough to prevent inbreeding effects- it’s just not being detected because not enough wolves are being sampled. And it only takes one successful “new” breeder every 3-4 generations. An effective population of 5000 wolves in the NRM is totally unrealistic given the constraints of today’s reality (there are livestock on the landscape, there are cities/towns, etc.)- there are huge areas of habitat that are unavailable to wolves because of these factors. Even with an ID wolf pop. reduced to 500 I suspect this would be a sufficient number to sustain a genetically diverse pop. However, I don’t see any reason why the current pop. should be reduced.

  129. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    “Unless there is in-migration from somewhere, the genetic diversity can never be greater than that in the founding population of animals. In the case of wolves, that was about 66 wolves brought from Canada.”
    Oh but there is. The two wolf packs in Washington will expand and at some point connect with the Idaho/ Montana wolves.
    Also the recent discovery of wolves in western Oregon could have very well came form Canada just as easy maybe easier, than from Idaho. If that is the case there will also be some future linkage with wolves from Idaho.

  130. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – please answer this for me – as a wolf man/expert. How many wolves were sharing MT,ID and WY about the time the europeans showed up in MT,ID and WY? Best guess is fine.

  131. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I have been trying to get conservationists to think strategically for almost 20 years, with no luck whatsoever. It’s like trying to get Democrats to actually think about governing and acting in the public interest. I am about ready to retire from that endeavor and attend to my horses, learn archery, pursue my ecological investigations, and write a book. To hell with it.


  132. Layton Avatar


    “Uhhh maybe you need to lay off the Scotch because I was just saying i buy those same tags myself every year! Reread!”

    One more try — you said, referring to me:

    “I have a love for ELK like most of you love Wolves”


    “Some of you like Wolves the way I like Elk, so when you talk of your love of wolves there are just as many who love Elk, Deer ect and you could care less about them.”


    “The only difference between you and me is, I will Kill an Elk to feed my family and have respect for the animal and thanks to the animal for it ’s life!”

    To reiterate, I think you need to figure out which side of the discussion I’m on.

    I don’t “love” wolves. Ask some of the regulars here. However, I don’t think they should all be wiped out, I just think there needs to be fewer of them.

    I hunt elk every year, I also buy a sportsmans pac. (again) I THINK YOU ARE CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT SIDE I’M ON.

    Plus that, I don’t even LIKE scotch!!

  133. Layton Avatar


    “I will bet you a keg of the finest craft brewed ale that I have had more negative comments thrown my way than yours…~S~…”

    Oh hell, “craft brewed ale”, you MUST work for the greenies!!


  134. Ken Cole Avatar

    Ralph, don’t forget that the founding population of what is now considered the northern Rockies population also included those few wolves from northwest Montana and the 3 that were in Central Idaho when the reintroduction occurred.


    I’m guessing that there were probably tens of thousands of wolves in the 3 states. There would have been some very high densities in the areas with high buffalo populations such as the plains of Montana, Wyoming and Southeast Idaho. The areas that had the prey had the wolves.

    One other thing that has changed greatly is the population of bighorn sheep. They were more numerous than deer before over hunting and, more importantly, disease wiped them out in most areas.

    The elk weren’t usually associated with the mountains as they are now and they have essentially replaced bighorn sheep in many areas. I don’t have a guess as to how many elk there were in the mountains of Idaho but I would guess that there are more now than there were judging by the fact that Lewis and Clark’s party almost starved to death in the Lolo area. The elk spent most of their time in the plains areas which were more productive. Those places have been filled with cows and people.

    If you want a good description of what the wildlife populations of the Greater Yellowstone area were like read Journal of a trapper: or, Nine Years in the Rocky Mountains, 1834-1843 By Osborne Russell, Lem A. York

  135. Salle Avatar

    I believe those writings were recommended by Robert Hoskins (right, RH?) a little over a week ago… For the same reasons, perhaps.

  136. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Welcome back, Ken Cole!

  137. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    For those persons who have just written of other wolves in addition to the two batches from Canada, yes there were the already present wolves from Canada that had reinhabited part of NW Montana and probably the 3 males later found in central Idaho.

    That does make the founding population a bit larger. Most interestingly, the reintroduced wolves from Canada also probably performed a genetic rescue of sorts to the NW Montana wolves.

    I recall one of the presentations by Dr. Bridgett Vonholdt on wolf genetics in the Northern Rockies showed the NW Montana population clearly had a lower amount of diversity than the Idaho and Wyoming wolves. They had a small founding population.

    The 1994 Gray Wolf EIS also commented how this group on its own would probably soon fall into a genetic bind.

    As far as the wolves in Oregon go, they are migrated Idaho wolves and add nothing to genetic diversity.

    There are two known packs in Washington state. Those hard up in NW corner are also Idaho wolves, but ones near Twisp are genetically valuable. They apparently came from a unique part of B.C. different than all the other wolves — from near the Pacific Coast.

  138. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – hang in there a little longer – I think you are an asset – your “style” is a little hard to handle at times however, I feel that you are past the point of modification on that score so, no worries. And, if “to hell with it” is best for you – then I know you will enjoy archery and I will buy your book.

  139. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ken – thanks for the link. Just real quick, and I promise not to quote you and throw you under a bus – on my honor – tens of thousands? 10,000 to 20,000 or more like 50,000?

  140. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    To Ken,

    I’d say there have been lots of period elk population changes over the centuries. But the fact remains they were always in the mountains…not to the extent they were in very fertile Iowa…but still lots and lots of them…depending on the hunting pressure of the time.

    So many of the elk game trails in my country of patrol had blinds either beside or above those elk trails (one can spot an elk trail very easily as different than a sheep or deer path). The broken points at these blind locations filled everything from 200 years ago to 8,000 years. And I can say no Indian is going to hang around a blind for very long if game was a scarce as it was when Ozzie went through.

    I’d follow these prehistory tribes from camp to camp and I could figure out where the kids played and where the men would go to stake out. It was so easy to predict what one was going to find and where it would be…the evidence of those activities. Elk were here in those mts….that is until human populations cycled to allow periodic overhunting and then lower numbers of elk. Ozzie was just here in one of the down cycles.

  141. Cobra Avatar

    From what I’m hearing in North Idaho, fish and game has said the elk hunter success from last fall was around 12-14%. If this is true it’s down about 10% from previous years. This is as of now just a rumor but supposedly overheard from one of the wardens.
    I also agree with your statement that you made above.

  142. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I see one of the writers on the Daily Kos picked up the story.

    Hike On! Why the Wolves of Yellowstone Matter

    by RLMiller

  143. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    As I said above, numbers in and of themselves don’t count for much. It’s the relationships and dependencies suggested by the numbers. It makes no sense to ask how many wolves there were in Yellowstone area pre-settlement without asking how many prey animals there were.

    Yes, elk have always been in the mountains. Bison too. According to Osborne Russell, writing of his time as a fur trapper between 1834 and 1843, the relative density among the species was much different a century and a half ago; bighorn sheep seem to have dominated the numbers game in the mountains. For those of us are only too aware of how rare bighorns are today, one reads of the casual way trappers hunted sheep (as in, we were hungry so we walked out of camp and shot a sheep) with wonder. Russell speaks of thousands and thousands of sheep in the Yellowstone area.

    Here in the Dubois area, there are numerous sheep traps and archaeological sites near tree line used by what we call “Sheepeater” Indians–Shoshone speakers–where sheep were hunted and processed. Russell describes a meeting with these “mountain snakes” in the Lamar Valley; he talks about the quality of their tanned hides and how healthy they were.

    Bison skulls have been found above tree line in the Wind River Range and the Absarokas as well as in the winter ranges in the basins (Bighorn Basin, Wind River Basin, Green River Basin). As Bob Jackson notes, if you pay attention it is not hard to determine the migration paths of various big game animals into and out of the mountains and the basins. Even without the old trails being visible anymore, they are largely the same major corridors used today. Migration is largely driven by weather and topography. If the animals are allowed to migrate, they’ll fall into the old migration patterns. The trouble is, as we see with bison in Montana and elk in western Wyoming, these old patterns of movement have been physically blocked off, first by the livestock industry, then with suburban development, with devastating effects.

    You mess with one thing you mess with a lot of things.


  144. JimT Avatar


    In my youth, PBR and Genesee were the budget choices, hardly craft brewed. When I moved to Arizona in the 70s, I discovered two beers..Buckhorn and A-1..both 99 cents for a six pack at the Circle K stores…Since then, I have learned to be kinder to my body…Shoot, I thought offering you craft brewed beer..which, by the way, is increasingly done at home…would be a sign of my seriousness.

    So, OK, a case of PBR it is for you…:*)

  145. JimT Avatar

    We need some national writer to pick up on this Three State trend and do a major piece on grazing, the power it has over decisions affecting public lands and endangered species. If anyone has any pull with Tim Egan, now would be a good time to use it.

  146. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – maybe you can help, my question is how many wolves were in MT,ID and WY at the time of european appearance on the landscape. I have not asked for wolf numbers “just in the mountains” or just Yellowstone I have asked for the numbers for the entire states. If you would like to provide numbers of prey species that is fine however, that is not a requirement of mine.

  147. jon Avatar

    This is unacceptable behavior on the part of Cal Groen and Idaho fish and game. I hope something is done to stop this from happening. I think most knew all along something like this was gonna happen. When things are too good to be true, they usually are. This feels like the 1930’s all over again.

  148. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I personally don’t think the question is important, and in any case, such an exercise would be impossible to carry out with any degree of accuracy.


  149. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    RH – OK, your opinion is noted.

  150. Jeremy B. Avatar

    TWB: If memory serves, when Montana initiated its wolf bounty in the 1880s there were over 5,000 “wolves” turned in the first year; granted it is likely that many of these were killed in adjacent states, but it speaks volumes about what the western population once was.

  151. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    to twb;
    The dam statement about pouching, that statement.

  152. Jeremy B. Avatar

    As a follow up…

    Shawn Riley and colleagues analyzed Montana wolf and cougar bounty records from 1902 until 1930. The number of wolves turned in for bounty ranged from a high of 4116 in 1903 to zero (0) in 1928. Interestingly, they found that “[p]ayments for wolves were greatest in the Prairie ecoregion” i.e. eastern Montana, which, according to FWS, is “unsuitable habitat” for wolves.

    Riley et al. (2004). Dynamics of early wolf and cougar eradication efforts in Montana: implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 119(4), p.575-579.

  153. Jeremy B. Avatar

    Also, Barry Lopez cites congressional testimony from a Wyoming Senator (Kendrick) who claimed to have personally supervised the management of a Wyoming ranch in 1893. He wrote:

    “The campaign was introduced through the work of two men on horseback with guns, poison, and traps, and within the short period of two to three months they had a recored of 150 wolves that they had destroyed…”

    This eradication effort was carried out on a ranch that was purportedly “30 or 35 miles square”.

    Lopez, B. (1978: 148)

  154. Jay Avatar

    Jeremy, you can’t assume that everything turned in as a wolf, was in fact a wolf. If you read Osborne Russell’s Journal of a Trapper, he talks about the multiple species of “wolves” in SE Idaho–whereas one clearly sounds like a wolf from the physical characteristics, another is obviously a coyote from the size he mentions. “Wolf” was s term fairly loosely applied to any gray canid.

  155. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks With Bears, JeremyB, Richie

    One thing I haven’t seen discussed yet is the obvious effects that settlement of the West by Euro-Americans had on the amount of food available to wolves.

    The pre-settlement order was greatly disturbed by the great bison slaughter. For a decade or two this provided enormous amounts of new food for wolves, probably causing a big spike in their numbers. The slaughter of elk, deer, moose, etc. too had similar effects.

    With the native wildlife mostly gone, the wolves did not immediately starve because the elk and deer were quickly replacing by easier prey — cattle and sheep.

    So an artificially large wolf population plus a lot of new tender prey, resulted in a huge wolf problem and the creation of the “dangerous wolf” mythology passed down in almost unchanged form in many locations.

  156. Jeremy B. Avatar

    Jay: I recognize that. However, the Wyoming Senator I quoted specifically notes that they (at least) differentiated between wolves and coyotes:

    “…all told on this one cattle ranch…we had a record…of about 500 gray wolves that we killed…[a]nd the coyotes…numbered in hundreds but we had no disposition to either count them or keep track of them…” (Lopez, 1978: 148).

    Still, I agree that there are reasons to doubt the accuracy of these numbers. However, if even half of these animals were wolves it suggests a much greater carrying capacity than FWS is willing to admit. Of course, as Ralph alludes to in his post, much of the native ungulate biomass has since been replaced by domestic cattle. In my view, these accounts are useful for demonstrating the absurdity of the claim that 100 or 150 wolves per state is adequate for a recovered population.

  157. Jeremy B. Avatar

    Also, I would add that if they were having trouble distinguishing wolves from coyotes, one would expect that many more than zero “wolves” would have been turned in for bounty in 1928.

  158. Ryan Avatar

    “JB said regarding your statement not you were going to do it yourself,but it shows what you know about the antiwolf people. They will take the law into their own hands,that says it all about the anti wolf people.”


    You smoke dope at home, what kind of statement does that make about you? Breaking the law is breaking the Law. I would guess you probably feel the LAW is wrong in this regards, just as the antiwolf people do. So what is the difference?

  159. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Richie – what statement did I make about poaching, pouching or threats?

  160. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Jeremy B – thanks for the info on the wolves turned in.

  161. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    This feels like the 1930’s all over again. Try 1800s.

  162. Jeremy B. Avatar

    TWB: You’re welcome. The reason I point to these numbers is that I think FWS and the state agencies may be trying to pull the wool over our eyes. If there were 4,000 wolves harvested in Montana in 1903–after most of the bison were eliminated–this suggests to me that the biological carrying capacity of the NRM DPS is much greater than FWS is asserting, and certainly waaaaay more than the 300/450 wolves that FWS is demanding be maintained. It also provides some hints about what the wild ungulate carrying capacity could be sans livestock.

  163. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    To Ryan are you talking to me, what are you talking about ? If you were addressing me Ralph, remember the Nez Perce Indians helped Louis & Clark survive in their last trek in the Northwest. I really do not know if these were the northern tribe or the Wallowa valley tribe but the indians help L&C then we came to wipe out the last indian tribe. Chief Joseph ‘ I will fight no more forever”. Then in the valley the biggest mountain is named after General Howard really give me a brake. That should be Chief Joseph’s mountain.


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