F&G to get tough on wolves

This story is one outcome of the leaked Feb. 10 memo-

There was no indication Idaho Fish and Game was ever going to release their memo to the media, but thanks to JeffE, who sent it to me, it has moved out into the public beyond this forum.

Story in today’s Times-News. F&G to get tough on wolves. By Nate Poppino – Times-News writer.

Notice how this is all directed to protect the livestock industry.  Is IDF & G now the Idaho Department of Livestock?

These “unacceptable levels” of livestock losses for 2009 in Idaho were 76 cattle (mostly calves) and 295 sheep. Although the Director of Dept. of Fish and Game implies this is an increase, it is an increase only for sheep. In dollar values this was offset by a decline in cattle losses to wolves. In 2008, 104 cattle were killed by wolves. In 2009 that dropped to a mere 76. Sheep losses increased from 215 to 295.  Individual sheep are worth less than cattle.

For some reason, livestock losses to wolves make the news. Much larger losses get almost no media attention. This suggests to me attention to wolf losses shows a hidden agenda at work unrelated to the actual size of loss. To illustrate this, consider the post from April 24, 2009. SE Montana blizzard kills far more livestock in 2 days than Montana wolves in a year. Will the blizzard story last more than a couple days? Looking back, the story lasted just one day in the on-line news.  However, the size of the livestock loss was greater than the loses to wolves in Montana that year. Note: I never got a final count. I read somewhere that with losses in the Dakotas, it was over 7000!



  1. JimT Avatar

    Ralph, so, there isn’t any place or requirement that grazing folks have to report ALL their losses…state, insurance, annual reports?

    Facts don’t seem to matter anymore to the grazing industry. It almost seems as if the Three States are vying for who can be the most extreme in their approaches to wolves.

    One more reason why Robert Hoskins is correct; the number one priority for predator restoration that means anything is to expose the grazing industry for the greedy, heartless, spoiled, welfare-dependent b**tards they are.

  2. Ken Cole Avatar

    It’s time for Defenders to STOP compensating for livestock losses. It is a waste of money and it perpetuates the problem by providing another subsidy for ranchers to be on public lands.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Regarding the report of losses, an old Wyoming game warden told me once that if a cow or sheep doesn’t come off the range, “a predator got it.” This after having had to investigate thousands of damage compensation claims in his career.

    Speaking of lost stories, has anyone seen anything recent about the brucellosis incident in Idaho? All we have is a comment on another thread. Or has the livestock industry killed that story too?


  4. JimT Avatar


    I have it on good authority from a member of DOW’s Board that the payments stopped in Idaho and Montana after the wolves were delisted, and the states took over the program. Since there is still litigation going on about Wyoming, I am not sure about that part of it. You can go to the DOW website and get the latest stats. If the wolves are listed again, I am not sure what DOW’s posture will be; if the fund payments haven’t had the desired “olive branch” result, I agree..it would be foolish to continue to give them money and have them pressure DOL and others to go after wolves even harder.

    I am just guessing here, but I am thinking the higher ups at DOW are tired of being used by ranchers, and then have the wolves slaughtered anyway since they are not weighing in politically with the various FG departments to let the wolves be.

  5. JimT Avatar

    RH, do they define predators as “disease, parasites, and accidents” as well? ;*)

    Haven’t seen any follow-ups at all. So, do the ranchers control the local papers as well?

  6. Charles Newton Avatar
    Charles Newton

    I think we are looking at this all wrong, the next time you go to watch a drag race, look on the back of the ticket stub and it says, that if you are injured or killed because a car went out of control and hit you while setting in the stands that the owner of the race track is not at fault. Well the same should be said for livestock grazed on public lands, if for any reason your cattle, sheep or what ever is hurt or killed on public land, tough luck, guess you better go buy a bigger chunk of private land and start being the responsible famer and monitor your stock and protect them. ON YOUR OWN LAND.

  7. Alliski Avatar


    Hunters in Idaho are drawn to the ease of the struggle. Hunting elk and deer is more enjoyable if you can go out after a few beers and a hamburger, spend a couple hours walking around and then bag a deer. “I do this for fun,” said Marcus Vilene of Lemhi county, “when I go out I want to get my kill so I can get home to watch the football game.” Increasingly, hunters shy away from the challenges of having to track, spend days looking for their prey, or studying up on local herd migrations.
    With the reintroduction of the gray wolf in the early 1990s, the predator has had an increasing influence on the behavior of deer and elk around the state. “Elk and deer don’t linger around the valleys munching on grass and waiting for a human hunter to shoot the biggest and strongest males,” said Ben Wickham of Idaho Fish and Game.
    “That’s why we need to kill more wolfs (sic)” said Marcus Vilene, who has hated wolves since he started hunting as a lad. “They change everything and make it unsafe for me and my dogs to go hunting. You never know when one might jump out from behind a tree and eat me!”

  8. Ken Cole Avatar


    Read the second to last paragraph of the story:

    “A long-running program reimbursing producers for the livestock they lose will continue at least until the delisting challenge finishes playing out in the courts, said Jesse Timberlake, Northern Rockies associate for Defenders of Wildlife. Overall, the number of payments has grown along with the wolves, he said, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.”

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Oh, those things don’t count. Nope, a four legged, pointy nosed predator did it.


  10. kt Avatar

    Charles Newton: Yes, a “hold harmless” statement.

    Like the public has to sign on entering some military base lands. I think Cabeza Prieta is that way.

  11. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Compensate the wolves for their contribution to the restoration of bighorn sheep, clean water, healthy riparian habitat, etc. Each domestic sheep down is a better opportunity, a disease mitigation measure, at bighorn survival on the landscape.

  12. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Not good news.



  13. Layton Avatar

    From Defender’s website.

    “Defenders’ wolf compensation program is available while wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Once wolves are delisted from federal protection, Defenders will cease to pay compensation in those regions”

    If you look at the $$ spent for reimbursements in 2009, the dollar amount is down — a lot. I don’t think that depredations were down.

  14. JimT Avatar

    Ken, I will check again, but I believe my source has more knowledge than the field rep. I think…GASP..Layton verifies my source’s information on the policy….;*)

    The larger question remains, as you say, however. When..and I do think it is when..the wolves are re-listed, what will DOW do given the incredible and transparent efforts by the Three States to do all they can to get rid of the wolves and confine them to YP, just like the bison.

  15. Jeremy B. Avatar


    Mark Gamblin:

    If you’re listening, this is exactly what I meant when I said that regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect wolves. IDF&G have certainly tried to put their best foot forward (which I appreciate), but let’s face it, your legislature is full of ranchers who don’t want wolves.

    The Idaho and Utah legislature appear to be trying to make Molloy’s decision a whole lot easier.

  16. Layton Avatar

    Hold on to your hat JimT,

    I know a couple of guys that work for Wildlife Services – I can’t use his name, but one of them told me several months ago that DOW had quit paying. That’s why I was suprised to read about the “field rep” that said they still were.

    BUT since I’m pretty sure that nobody here would take my word for it, I looked it up on the DOW site.

  17. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    My wife, who is a member of Defenders, just forwarded an email with the same information yesterday:

    Here is the opening paragraph under signature of Roger S., President of DOW:

    “We’re turning up the heat on Cabela’s to stop sponsoring cruel wolf-killing derbies and funding anti-wolf litigation. Caring people like you have already sent more than 100,000 messages to Cabela’s urging them to end their support for wolf-killing predator derbies.

    But despite the public outrage, the company has yet to act. We must increase media attention and public action directed at them.

    Help us get their attention and stop corporate-sponsorship of wolf slaughters. Donate now to help place our powerful full-page ad in the company’s hometown newspaper this Saturday.”

    As for my own efforts, I sent three emails to Cabelas corporate, a few weeks back when this group was debating the “predator derbies” in Pocatello sponsored by those SWF yahoos. Even though some here disagree on how many wolves and where they should be, this predator derby crap is an entirely different issue.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    The key misinformation in the request for donations for the DOW ad, is there was and has not been a “Wolf Derby” in Idaho.

    I have said in the past, I don’t agree with derby contests, but they need to be honest in their request or funds. Which on this one they are not..

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Save bears,

    I think you are generally right. These really are coyote contests. Practically speaking, making no ethical judgment, it is hard to have a killing contest when you include any animal that has to be tagged.

  20. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    As I have stated before, it greatly concerns me and quite a few others I know, when both sides of this issue go to dishonest extremes to try and win the war. With a organization of this caliber, it is sad to see them stoop to the same levels as the Save Elk crew and other anti wolf groups..

  21. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Looking at the ad and reading the text of it leads people who are not informed with the issue, will automatically assume that you can kill as many wolves as you want to receive a reward of three points, which is not the truth, I would have no problem if the stated it was a coyote contest and may have even donated due to my stance on derbies.

    Doing a google search shows, it is already going viral…

  22. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    SB, Ralph,

    If I recall correctly, the ID predator derbies from earlier this year included “points” for a legally taken wolf, as well as as many coyotes, and fox as can be shot by the competitor. I am no supporter of DOW, for their often polarizing views. This often places me at odds with my wife, who is a DOW member.

    The broader issue, as I see it, is lumping these predator canids together (including wolves), with a “take as many as you can” mindset. It serves no purpose except to put the taking of this wildlife for a competitive purpose to win prizes. It puts all hunting in a bad light, and I find that troubling.

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This is the kind of issue that can go viral. I would guess that those behind it suspected that was so.

    It is similar to the hype about the tapeworms and worms. That immediately spread throughout the anti-wolf organizations despite no broad media support at all or support from the state Fish and Game departments.

  24. Barb Avatar

    I also think the extreme hostile wolf haters who are also hunters give the entire hunting “industry” a bad name, when many are ethical hunters who hunt for food, not out of hostility/hatred towards animals, (or for trophy for trophy’s sake.) Killing animals out of misplaced anger or hatred has no place in our society.

  25. Barb Avatar

    Love this Charles ~~ !

    “I think we are looking at this all wrong, the next time you go to watch a drag race, look on the back of the ticket stub and it says, that if you are injured or killed because a car went out of control and hit you while setting in the stands that the owner of the race track is not at fault. Well the same should be said for livestock grazed on public lands, if for any reason your cattle, sheep or what ever is hurt or killed on public land, tough luck, guess you better go buy a bigger chunk of private land and start being the responsible famer and monitor your stock and protect them. ON YOUR OWN LAND.”


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