Is there a new pack of wolves near Lake Chelan?






  1. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    Not that I expected differently, but was hopeful that folks in WA were a bit more informed/tolerant than elsewhere. Based on the comments at the end of the piece, there are still a bunch of unfounded ideas circulating (wolves wiping out mt. goats and bighorn sheep, moving into populated areas to eat pets, etc.).

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Events like this certainly brighten my day.

    Although hard core anti-wolf people won’t agree, I think perhaps 1500 wolves distributed less densely than the present over 5 states would be better politically and almost as beneficial environmentally than 1500 wolves sitting in central and north Idaho, Western Wyoming and Western Montana like they are today.

  3. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    Great comment Ralph, maybe a bit more ?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      I do think wolves in much of Idaho, etc. are at their natural density given the amount of food they have. I’d prefer to see that continue, and absent any other plan, I will. The wolf population is essentially stable now, in my opinion, whether there is a hunt or not.

      However, this large number of wolves is a bit of a political problem. I know many of the anti-wolf want all of them gone, but there are reasonable people out there who might shut up if the number was lower.

      If there were wolves over a larger area, but more thinly populated, genetic diversity would still be maintained and elk would continue to fear wolves and act like wild animals rather than contented cows.

      Now this is just speculation on my part because 1. I don’t know how we’d get to this situation, and 2. the organized anti-wolf folks are implacable. Unfortunately in politics the only thing that counts is pretty much who is organized and who isn’t. Those who want a reasonable wolf recovery are not organized at the local level, and it’s hard to see how this will change.

  4. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Chelan/Wenatchee (hence Wenatchee World newspaper) is east of the Cascades, the boundary line between red and blue within Washington. What you are seeing in the comments is from the large number of hunters and livestock owners in the area. The most likely and best generally contiguous wolf habitat is in the eastern part of the state from the Cascade Crest (running north – south). It is the area where most of the Rocky Mountain elk live, as well as mule deer.

    The area north of Lake Chelan has lots of wilderness, too.



    I too am glad to see this news of more wolves in WA, and agree with your posts on this thread about density.

  5. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Ralph, Wilderness Muse, et. al.,

    But please consider these facts: While I was conducting extensive research for my law journal article “Wolves in the Crosshairs: A Scientific Case Against the Final Rule of the U.S.F.W.S. Removing Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves from the Endangered Species List” (published 05/09 in West-Northwest Journal of Envir. Law & Policy) I had much e-mail and telephone communication with Ed Bangs. During my last conversation with him (about an hour long in Dec. 2008) he agreed that the tri-state area sustained a biological carrying capacity for 6000 wolves. This is consistent with the Service’s own 2002 survey of wolf biologists that the “total 6-part metapopulation should be equal to/greater than 5,000 throughout [the] western U.S.” (source: USFWA, “Wolf Population Recovery”, 010690-010699, 010695 (Feb. 11, 2002).

  6. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    The Service’ survey is also consistent with the conclusion of Carlos Carroll, et al., that “an EFFECTIVE population size of approximately 1,000 individuals is needed to allow continued adaptive evolution and to avoid the accumulation of new harmful mutations.” Source: “Defining Recovery Goals and Strategies for Endangered Species: The Wolf As a Case Study”, 56 Bioscience 25, 26 (2006). It is my understanding that the recommended effective population size translates into a demographic target of five or more that number.

    1. Jay Barr Avatar
      Jay Barr

      In a world with no cities/towns, agriculture, livestock grazing, or other human development (ie. pre-European settlement) there may have been the potential to support 6000 wolves in the NRM states. Not now- that’s a simple reality. With “only” ~1,650 wolves, wolves are a big problem, depending upon who is talking, and the states/WS already kill hundreds a year. I’m a wolf supporter, but the genetic issues being proferred as a reason as to why de-listing should be reversed is less than credible. I believe wolves have been, and will continue to be, genetically diverse enough with in-migration from Canada at the current NRM pop. level (or even somewhat lower); it only takes one new breeder every 3-4 generations to inject new diversity.

      I concur with Ralph’s assessment that 1) wolves in ID are just about maxed out and 2) of having wolves spread more thinly across the landscape, but not to the point that they can’t perform their ecosystem functions.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Valerie and Jay Barr,

      Having said that, however, it should be understood that I was pretty much talking in the abstract because I see no path to get to the situation I described. That’s because no one who is politically organized is pushing for it.

    3. JB Avatar


      I think you’ll find the following (see below) publication enlightening. Importantly, in 1903 more than 4,000 wolves were turned in for bounty in Montana alone; the vast (3,500+) majority were turned in in eastern Montana. Notably, this occurred AFTER the near extermination of the bison. What I found so provocative about this study is that, according to the 2009 NRM Final Rule, NONE of eastern Montana is considered suitable/significant habitat for the NRM wolf. I wonder what 3,500 wolves were eating back in 1903?

      Riley, S. J., Nesslage, G. M., & Maurer, B. A. (2004). Dynamics of early wolf and cougar eradication efforts in Montana: implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 119(4), 575-579.

  7. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Greetings Jay Barr,

    Thank you for your considered response. First of all, in pre-European settlement times, wolves were estimated to be between 300,000 to 500,000 throughout the lower 48. I can’t say with any authority at this time what the exact numbers were in the tri-state region but logic suggests given the prime habitat and the respect of Native Americans for wolves that there were tens of thousands.

    Secondly, if you were to agree with the Service’s very conservative estimate of 110,000 square miles of “suitable habitat” (defined essentially as having low livestock conflict and plentiful prey — 74 Fed. Reg. at 15137), and divide that, for the sake of argument, by say 500 packs of ten individuals, that would leave 220 square miles per pack.

    If that becomes too crowded for the wolves themselves it seems logical that given a population number near or at their true biological carrying capacity (at or greater than 5000), they would be behaviorally inclined to migrate into neighboring states (e.g., much more tolerant Oregon and Washington, and even Colorado if they can navigate safely through Utah) and fill out a rational facsimile of their historic range where they were extirpated..

    Thirdly, it is axiomatic that genetic reasons go hand in hand with natural metapopulation connectivity — at the heart of recovery under the Recovery Plan and the court’s perspective as to whether there is sufficient compliance with the ESA to forestall relisting.

    1. Layton Avatar


      “they would be behaviorally inclined to migrate into neighboring states (e.g., much more tolerant Oregon and Washington, and even Colorado if they can navigate safely through Utah)”

      Just as a question here — have you ever thought of the possibility that Oregon, Washington and Colorado are “much more tolerant” toward wolves because they don’t have them in any significant numbers??

      Idaho was, early on, fairly tolerant of wolves BEFORE the problems started coming up with increasing numbers. Certainly, the ranchers didn’t like them from day one and some of the more radical anti’s didn’t either. But John Q and company weren’t all that upset.

    2. JimT Avatar

      In general, Oregon and Washington State are progressive and tolerant in their politics historically with a few exceptions. Colorado is more of a swing state, hard to predict. But I think Colorado has less of a livestock industry dominated legislature than Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Now, oil and gas..that’s a different story.

  8. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Jay Barr,

    “[A] according to the 2009 NRM Final Rule, NONE of eastern Montana is considered suitable/significant habitat for the NRM wolf. I wonder what 3,500 wolves were eating back in 1903?”

    I surmise that in even in this relatively resource poor area they ate ungulates and small prey which have since been driven off the land by an array of wildlife toxic agricultural practices — including the removal of native grasses, dissemination of pesticides, ruination of riparian areas, fencing, etc.

    1. Jay Barr Avatar
      Jay Barr

      I don’t dispute the fact that there were lots and lots of wolves way back when. Those conditions are gone and they ain’t coming back; ergo there cannot be as many wolves now as then. I’m not sure I would agree with USFWS’ classification of suitable habitat: I’ve heard Mr. Bangs say that WA has 297 mi. of suitable wolf habitat in the entire state (and that is preposterous). Habitat may be suitable biologically, but socially/politically is another matter altogether and that matters more at this point. We all know wolves can do quite well where they are not persecuted by man- but where is that? ID is preparing to collar wolves in the largest wilderness expanse in the lower 48 states, and I would submit that it is not because they are looking out for the wolves. So if wolves cannot be “safe” in the wilderness (huge tract of high quality suitable habitat) they are that much more at risk elsewhere. If the states (managing entities) are unwilling to allow (m)any more wolves than are currently there, this notion of 5000 is nothing more than a pipe dream (though I’d like to see it happen).

  9. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Jay Barr,

    I have to agree that social and political considerations are indeed another matter aside from biological carrying capacity.

    Concomitantly they are enormously exacerbated when you have our Western Wolf Recovery leader (Ed Bangs of course) chartered (in part) to carry out the spirit and the mandates of the ESA telling the Missoulian that “Wolves fix very few problems compared to the ones they create.”
    Source: “Wolves pushed as “park stewards,” neutered and transplanted nationwide.” (02/08)

    I have to wonder yet again why Bangs, if so terribly frustrated with the ups and down of wolf recovery, doesn’t hand over his mantle to someone who really cares about carrying out what the ESA is about? And who concomitantly would commit to, e.g., channeling resolves and intellectual resources into developing programs to reduce or eliminate livestock on public lands which are in defacto critical habitat. Any thoughts about this?

    On a related subject Do you know much about the Minnesota model? Why roughly five thousand wolves are thriving on a much smaller land mass?

    1. Jay Barr Avatar
      Jay Barr

      I think Ed Bangs has done a remarkable job with wolf recovery and deserves commendation rather than scorn. In light of everything I stated in my prior reply, it’s easy to see why he said wolves are viewed as causing more problems than they fix: for every spot (Rocky Mt. Nat’l Park, everywhere else, too) where they may serve an ecosystem function (which are mostly unknown to the general public and certainly under appreciated), there are many more places where they depredate on domestic livestock (which is much more real to J. Q. Public). It is not within Ed’s purview to tell the states how to manage wolves. Even when the USFWS was in charge he was setting things up for the states to assume control, so probably didn’t want to “mandate” to them. It has never been a federal govt. charge to “eliminate livestock on public lands” as you’d like to see (and me, too).

      As for MN; I think wolves rely on white-tailed deer, which can exist in high densities on relatively small land bases. If you were to compare territory size for MN wolves to NRM wolves I’d bet they are significantly smaller in MN.

    2. NW Avatar

      Mr. Bangs was responding to a rash proposal to use neutered and constrained wolves as tools to manage park areas. He was right, I think.

  10. Elk275 Avatar

    Valerie Bittener

    Maybe, just maybe people in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho do not want wolves in the numbers that other’s want. Eventually wolves are going to tighten up hunting opportunities and success ratios, I do not care what anyone says it is happening now. Everywhere I go I am starting to hear more complaints on how wolves chase elk out of there tradition hunting area. It has happened to me. People are piss.

    When Conrad Burns was US Senator, it was the hunters and fisherman that slowed his anti environmental agenda Political and social considerations are what elects officials and governs policy. I see the country moving in a very right direction with states rights becoming more prevalent. Last July 4 in Bozeman I stood a half of a block away during to first tea party on main street. I have not seen this type of protestor intensity since the Kent State Shootings in May of 1970, I was 18 at the time.

    As far as removing grazing on federal lands this is not going to happen for years. When one US senator can stop presidential nominations which are currently impeding governmental functions how are environmental groups who oppose public land grazing going to get legislation pass to change the Taylor Grazing Act of 1933. It is time that we get the sheep off of federal lands but economics will put an end to public land sheep grazing before political policy.

    There are millions of acres of road less lands and if we do not get wilderness designation within the next few years it is not going to happen. This is where are priorities should be and let the state fish and wildlife agencies do there jobs, for the most part it a job will done.

  11. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Valrerie/JB – I have a thought on why eastern MT is not in the recovery zone. A top sight predator let loose in the Missouri Breaks would have a MAJOR impact. In that broken and open country the wolves would have a field day with the elk, antelope, deer and yes cattle. Maybe the powers that be decided that the “political price” would be too high. Big numbers of out of state elk hunters buy licenses to hunt this country during archery season.

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks With Bears,

    The discussion about Eastern Montana has been pretty interesting.

    One thing that should added: Eastern Montana is in the recovery zone. I’d best the idea of wolves migrating there gives MT Fish Wildlife and Parks real worry, but it is part of the zone just as much as the mountainous part of the state.

  13. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    The variable nobody seems to want to talk about is INCREASING human population throughout the potential range of wolves (and their prospective prey). This will be a challenge over the coming years throughout the NRM and elsewhere.

    WA, for example, in its recent draft wolf management plan talked about sustaining wolf habitat and a target population of something like 150 wolves over a 100 year planning horizon. This will be very difficult without additional set-asides of habitat for prey and wolves. Butting up against this is the assertion that WA does not view preservation of such a wolf population as affecting state (or federal) land use regulation.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Wilderness Muse,

      I don’t agree. I think the only important human variable is culture. Rural areas generally don’t like wolves and urban areas generally do.

      I still believe that other than local impacts in a few areas, there are few real problems with the restoration of wolves. By that I mean the anger people have is really about something else. If wolves were some brand new invasive species from another place, an animal no one had ever heard of, we would be struggling get the public’s attention about them. It would be sort of like getting people worked up about feral hogs.

  14. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Certainly culture plays a big part, but I think you under-estimate the necessary (cultural?) changes that may be manifested in or require land use restrictions of some sort. It will become a question of density for everything – people and the way they make a living, prey and predators. New equilibriums will be sought.

  15. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    Why are wolves the center of attention if only three percent of cattle taken are by wolves, others are wild dogs,coyote’s, and ranchers that take their livestock to higher elevations so they die of the cold, why all attention on wolves? Next maybe the culture of Minnesota is the Norwegians see wolves in a different light, maybe they are not so fearfu, just a thought. They really have three thousand that is a healthy population.

  16. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I think if you take a little closer look at the Great Lakes wolf issues it is more complex than you think. MN indeed has about 3,000 wolves, with slightly less reported in their tally from two years ago (some moved to WI and maybe back to Canada). Wildlife Services or MN DNR still lethally controls between about 60 to 260 wolves a year. There are indeed livestock problems there, but more tolerance too, as you say. Wolves have killed upwards of 1,200 farmed turkeys in some years, as well as the usual livestock catagories that are killed in the NRM. They do not have the public lands livestock grazing, which is a major distinction which may explain some of the tolerance. Because wolves are estimated, rather crudely, every five years, and there are very few collared ones (except Dr. Mech’s in the northern part of MN), there are likely a fair number that are killed and go unreported in the tallies. You know, what they call “3S” or self-help in some areas of the NRM.

    MN, MI and WI all want the Great Lakes wolves delisted and are in court over that issue right now. It involves some of the same issues that are before judge Molloy, including the concepts of “Distinct Population Segments” under the Endangered Species Act.

    Yes, six states out of six where wolves are present in fairly large numbers want them delisted.

    Deer hunters are increasingly becoming agitated about impacts to deer populations in the far north of those states, and there are several investigations ongoing about wolves that have been killed. Wolf hunting seasons have been discussed in WI. MN already stuck thier foot in the wolf poop by saying they would not hunt them for five years after delisting. WI and MI left themselves a little more flexibility for management options.

  17. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Talk With Bears, Ralph, Wilderness Muse, et al.,

    Re: opening up Eastern MT as a major player in wolf recovery.

    Wouldn’t an elegant solution be the release of bison unwanted elsewhere into the public domain? Restore an age-old natural predator-prey balance and take a lot of wind out of the livestock depredation flack?

  18. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Elegant solution, yes. It would work great if a buffalo was as easy for wolves to drop as a cow. The other problem is land ownership (I think it might be mostly private lands) in Eastern MT. A buyback program of all that land sold – there was a book written about eight years ago or so called “Bad Land” and most I think is marginal winter wheat production now, that has suffered from drought. It never should have been put to that use. Reclaiming it would be an environmental achievement.

    I think the “Buffalo Commons” project covering several states, including MT, may have contemplated predators to go along with the lands and the buffalo which would roam. I am sure others know alot more about this.

  19. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Valerie – bison back in the Breaks would be more than elegant, it would be terrific however, I am with WM on this one if the wolf had to choose between elk, antelope,deer,cattle or bison – the wolf is going to eat a lot other stuff before he tackles the bison. Not sure who has them but, there are a few herds of bison in the Breaks now.

  20. Mgulo Avatar

    Interesting thread.

    In my experience, much of the angst in the western US about wolves springs less from the wolves or their real or purported impacts than from the idea that they were re-introduced by the federal government over local objections. The real objection is to federal presence and federal actions, not as much to wolves or any documentable impacts. That’s why arguing the impacts doesn’t have any effect. In almost three decades of working on carnivore issues I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “Well, if they come in on their own, that’s OK. But we don’t want the government bringing them in.” Right or wrong, that’s the base of much of the opposition, whether the opponents will admit it or not. It’s kind of a states’ rights thing for the historically impaired.

    A lot of people in rural areas already feel powerless: having the “Dreaded Fed” jam a pointy-toothed critter down their throats doesn’t improve that outlook. Feeling powerless tends to upset people, diminishing their level of rational thought.

    As for elegant solutions of replacing eastern Montana ranchers with buffalo commons, many of those ranchers have been on those lands since they cleared the Indians off and they are not going to be very amenable to being cleared off in turn. Go talk to the families of people who were cleared off what are now National Park Lands and you’ll see what I mean. I know people who are still mad that Grandpa was bought out of his land 70 years ago to make a park. Those folks still hate the government over something Grandpa was probably glad to do, even if he wouldn’t admit it later.

    As for prey species, wolves are like the rest of us: they’re trying to make a living the best way they can. If that means deer, fine. If it means bison, that can be done too. But bison do not exclude other ungulates so where they roam the deer and antelope will likely play as well. Simply put, a broader opportunity base. All of which makes for burping wolves and a healthier ecosystem.

    That said, the first issue with bison is containment – they go where they want to go and traditional fences are little obstacle. So they aren’t all that great as neighbors if you are trying to run a traditional livestock operation (why you would do that in eastern Montana has been a question debated around my famly’s tables for generations!). Which means some substantial ongoing costs even once you have the land. I do like them though; being around them on foot lends spice to the prairie experience! They are not particularly pedestrian-tolerant.

    The second bison issue is that most commercial meat processing plants are set up to process a beef-sized and shaped carcase. Handling bison requires either a different setup or custom cutting, both of which are more expensive. That’s a big part of why you haven’t seen more small-level bison operations.

    Bison would do better on the prairies than cows. That’s why they evolved there and herefords didn’t. But ranchers didn’t evolve with bison – they evolved with cows and they vote. So, elegant solution or not, good luck with that!

  21. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Wilderness Muse, Talk With Bears,

    Thank you for your informed insights. It would be quite something if the major environmental groups with the deepest sources of funding were to expand the Buffalo Commons Project into a national effort. I am convinced that millions of Americans from coast to coast would view a large wolf-bison oriented ecosystem as a “geography of hope” commensurate with the greatest of a our national parks and thus support it.

  22. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    To wm;
    You cannot take away the fact that these people are more tolerant, I am just guessing but their backround can play a big part in this. I also do not undersatnd if only three percent of livestock are killed by wolves why all the fuss over wolves. As Ralph said not in so many words it goes deeper that the threat a wolf presents. Again in MI.MN WI you have different ethnic backrounds and they may not have a history against wolves. Remember Norwegains came after the west was settled by english Irish Dutch etc.

  23. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    Did you see wolf wars in Nationasl Geographic look at the the pictures wolves surrounding a Buffalo.

  24. JimT Avatar

    Only if the cows came off public lands; that would be the quid pro quo.

    WM made an interesting point about there being more tolerance in Minn and surrounding environs, and that it is possible it is due to the fact that public lands are fewer there. I am not sure I buy it..I think the cowboy culture and the sense of entitlement to use public lands as they see fit plays a large role, and that culture isn’t in Minn or the “Yoop”. But, for argument’s sake….

    Does that mean that if the cows came off public lands, the tolerance would grow greater in the Three States? Or would the elk hunting industry still say we want a minimal presence of wolves, preferably within Yellowstone or a Federal Wilderness like FWC so we get our trophy elk? What does one think would happen if the Sagebrush Folks got what they wanted? Do you think ANY wolves would be allowed?

  25. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There is an organized private effort to bu yout these marginal lands in Eastern Montana on a willing buyer effort.

    We had a thread on just a month or so ago.

    1. NW Avatar


      “But bison do not exclude other ungulates so where they roam the deer and antelope will likely play as well.”

      Ha! What a great sentence. I’m looking forward to drinking some beer around a campfire with you next summer.

  26. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    This is good news and I hope that Washington can continue to experience wolves moving in. Maybe they can be sort of a model for states like Colorado and Utah. At least they can’t claim the government forced the wolves on them. Of course it does make you shake your head when you read the comments in the story about the wolves descending upon the towns and pillaging. I also though the comments about them wiping out mountain goats and bighorn sheep were comical. Can anyone tell me if wolves are major predators of either of those two species anywhere? I would think elk and deer would be a lot less work.
    Ralph, you comment was interesting about the wolves being spread into more states. What sort of scenario did you imagine for that?

  27. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    ProWolf in WY,

    Wolves kill almost no bighorn or mountain goats. Wolf attack style is just not the way to get these rocky country animals.

    Regarding the wolf spread into more states and wolf density, I wrote a couple pretty long comments on that yesterday on this thread. You can find it above somewhere.

  28. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Ralph, I see what you are saying about that. I think Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Oregon could all support wolf populations that could disperse. The nice thing about these states is that they couldn’t say it was the government interfering with anything.

  29. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    I do not know what to say about the ethnic heritage of the different areas and how that affects tolerance. My wife’s family is Norwegian, and her family raised cattle in Eastern MT and ID (none were in the nobleman catagory that Ralph references, and they did not graze livestock on public land). Their views are as varied as what we see on this blog. I think the tolerance has more to do with how “you, yours make your living,” and are affected by a particular threat (actual or perceived), or how you feel your recreational/subsistence hunting is affected. And, as I think several others have mentioned, how the wolves got back into the country they are now inhabiting.

    For some reason, even going back to the late 1970’s, it is my understanding the MN wolves have not seemed to cause that much problem with livestock as compared to the West (or at least that was the perception). Maybe it is the way ranching is done in the North Woods. They are a bit smaller wolf too, averaging about 60-75 lbs, as compared to the NRM wolves which are closer to 100.

    I might add my wife, who is a member of Defenders of Wildlife, and I have rather lively dicussions about wolves, one just yesterday involved the NatGeo article. I thought it was well done. It is just that when you peel back the layers of this onion, it gets more complex on the landscape than that article could address in the space allowed.

    The PBS NOW piece that David Brancaccio (25 minutes) is also very good, though I personally believe it is not as objective.

    1. JimT Avatar

      The question is, why aren’t you a member? ;*)

      I agree with your points, but again, there is a unique culture and history of the Western states regarding livestock, battles between sheep ranchers and cow ranchers, the battle of fencing, and of course, the killing of of wolves that has to be considered in addition to your points.

      BTW, I would encourage any of you who are questioning the veracity of the DOW add about the sponsored hunt for wolves to email the folks at DOW and ask for an explanation.

  30. Richie, Giallanzo,NJ Avatar
    Richie, Giallanzo,NJ

    Tom WM;
    All I could say is my mother was Swedish and German and love all animals period,dogs especially, so that is how I turned out. But as for bigger or smaller the west would still want them dead. They are just different out west, they want all the land for themseleves, not all ranchers but most. Did not you say they got the indians, off now they are here to stay, correct they killed Indians why not wolves.

  31. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    JimT Says:

    “BTW, I would encourage any of you who are questioning the veracity of the DOW add about the sponsored hunt for wolves to email the folks at DOW and ask for an explanation.”


    I have mailed and called several times over this very issue about the misleading ad, to date, I have received no replies to the email and have been told they would get back to me in response to my phone calls, but nothing forthcoming as of yet..I feel like and I am dealing with another Government agency, complete and total run around…

  32. JimT Avatar

    I will see what I can find out….I know a few folks there. Do you have a cite to the EXACT ad people are objecting to?

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      The ad stated in bold letters that Cabela’s was sponsoring Wolf Derbies and had a blue cast back ground with a pack of wolves crossing a snow covered meadow, with dark trees in the back ground.

      I just checked and it is actually still up on their website, for how long, I know not, but here is the current link I followed:

  33. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    JimT, SB

    ++BTW, I would encourage any of you who are questioning the veracity of the DOW add about the sponsored hunt for wolves to email the folks at DOW and ask for an explanation.++

    Funny you should mention this. I did EXACTLY that when the ad came out. Actually I called them on February 18, and requested more details – using my wife’s membership. I was routed through two DOW “customer service” people who had not clue as to what the issue was. The third read a canned statement, that made the untrue allegation against Cabelas yet again, in more detail. I told them I thought they might be misrepresenting the truth, and asked for more about their detailed “facts” which, of course, they could not produce. I asked for a written explanation which they said they would provide, and supplied email addresses for such a reply. To date, no answer.

    I also sent a note to the Cabelas PR – Corporate Communications guy regarding the Defenders’ representations. He responded that they are continuing to look into the matter, an will respond in an appropriate manner, whatever that means.

    As I understand it from another source, the Defenders’ allegation stems from one, and only one, $150 donation of merchandise to the SFW folks, who in turn used the Cabelas’ logo for their “predator derby” on thier website. Hence the sponsorhip link. Recall that the derby rules allowed a competitor to score points for one legally taken wolf, along with all their other stupid point tallies for as many coyotes, foxes, etc.

    Unless they can come up with more true “facts” Defenders crossed the line, with the assertions in the ad. This is one very good reason why I am not a member – they love to contort the truth because it brings in membership $$$$$$$. My wife and I had a discussion about her continuing membership, as well. That, too, is under advisement when this year membership runs out.

  34. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Start with the website. They had a facsimile of the ad up for awhile; it is gone now. It seems they have toned it back a bit, and maybe modified some language, but the flavor is still prominent.

    1. JimT Avatar

      It will be a little hard to look at the wording without the ad itself….but I will see what I can find out, if anything.

      I will say in DOW’s defense that in general, I find their ads to be factually based, but also advocate for a particular point of view, which to me is perfectly permissible.

      I also find the amount of outrage over what I can tell in this ONE ad to be curious and a bit overwrought. I wonder how many of you who have take umbrage that an environmental group might ‘stretch” the truth get equally upset at the blatant mischaracterizations of issues such that routinely occur from the NRA, or for example. Is it fair to hold the Green Groups to a higher standard than other so called advocacy groups? And please don’t revert to the old saw of “they ought to know better”, or “they should take the high road.” because it implies you are saying it is ok for the other advocacy groups to take the low road.

      WM, are you equally strict about your own memberships in terms of the truth at all times factor? If so, I am betting you are a member of damn few groups…;*) On balance, DOW does a great job of putting facts out there and advocating for their point of view, which is exactly what they are supposed to do. If you don’t like their agenda, that certainly is your privilege. But don’t apply a different standard to them because you may disagree with their particular position or mission statement.

  35. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Also JimT,

    Just to be clear, I am not a supporter of derbies of any kind for wildlife, but to blatantly mislead an uninformed public that there is wolf killing contests going on, is as they said, “BAD BUSINESS:

  36. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Just to be clear —-I am not a supporter of derbies, either. In fact, I oppose them and any financial support which they receive from “sponsors.”

    I am also against lies or misrepresentations made by such derbies, their sponsors, or their opposition.

  37. JimT Avatar

    I just read the ad, and I think what is missing here before a judgment is reached is the exact wording by Cabela in its advertisements and its application for these predator derbies. If they really did offer a three point bounty for any wolf killed, isn’t that justification to say they are sponsoring predator hunts that offer incentives to kill wolves?

    So, WM, maybe YOU could take some time like I am and find the exact wording by Cabela’s during these derbies. Maybe what I can suggest to DOW is to put up the exact wording by Cabelas and the dates of the derbies that allegedly crossed the line.. How about it?

  38. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Defenders ad was very misleading. Predator derbies are almost entirely coyote hunting contests.

    1. JimT Avatar

      Ralph, did you see the Cabela’s application or ads for the derbies? I find it hard to believe, frankly, that DOW would claim there was a points bounty for a wolf kill if there wasn’t some Cabela source for it.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Yes, I saw it briefly back when this first came up. Was that November?

  39. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I find offense in outlandish and outright lies from either side of an issue, I apply my level of standards to either side, as I don’t believe you can win the issue being deceptive, that includes NRA, which I am not a member of, DOW which I USED to be a member of as well as a host of others that have dipped to far right of left.

    Now remember, as a former employee of FWP, I had many occasions to deal with DOW people and decided their leanings were not inline with good policy, I can also state, I know many others in the profession that have also left the ranks of membership due to the same conclusions..

    I provided the link to the ad, you can click on another link on that page, that opens a larger representation to the ad, with the full text of the ad.

    I have also noted, now they are saying they are being censored by the newspaper and claiming it is because they wanted to run it in Cabela’s home state, I called the news paper in question and they stated they would not run it, due to advise of their legal staff, feeling it crossed the lines and could open the paper up to liability.

    I am sure, with this breach, we have not heard the last in this one, but of course, I am not a legal scholar, so I could be wrong.

  40. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Cabela’s didn’t run any ad’s, they simply donated $150 worth of merchandise, the SFW was the one that ran ad’s and printed entry forms.

    The ad leads people to believe that there was a wolf derby, which is not true, the wolf points were only added after the fact, this derby was for unclassified animals in the state of Idaho, the wolf is a classified animal, requiring tags, license and other requirements to be met, coyotes, foxes and bobcats do not..they are predators, no seasons, no bag limits, no tags required.

    If I remember correctly, the zone this derby was located in, only had a 5 animal quota for wolves? Somebody, please correct me if I am wrong, but somehow that comes to mind..

    1. JimT Avatar

      OK, I get it…VBG…I do recall, though, that the website that had the derby advertised did have a Cabela’s ad in a fairly prominent position, so I could understand why a link would and could be made.

      Points, bounty. The crux here is…was there or was there not a bonus point system for having a wolf kill, or was there not?

      And can someone tell me why the wolf points were added? Anyone?

  41. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I wish Defenders would focus on the real problem — livestock interests, not hunters.

    1. JimT Avatar

      True, they are the main problem when it comes to wolves, but I do find the predator derby stuff to be incredibly offensive, and if I were a hunter, I would be calling for boycotts and banning them as loudly as I could as a matter of ethics.

  42. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Cabela’s don’t assign points even to bobcats, coyotes or fox, that points are awarded by SFW, Cabela’s simply donated some merchandise, which many companies do for various contests or causes. If DOW wants to run an ad, then target the culprit, which is SFW..

    1. JimT Avatar

      I got the impression that Cabela’s was a sponsor as well as SFW. So, is the main difference is that SFW actually RUNS the derby with its own personnel and volunteers?

  43. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I agree 100% Livestock interests and Wildlife services are the major problem here, that is where the target needs to be…

  44. JimT Avatar

    All I can tell you is that the key to this is the Cabela application or ads for the derby. IF they mention that there was a bounty for wolf kills…I find DOW’s ad to be accurate. You may disagree with the degree of hype or spin, but the basic issue here would remain the same. If and when I hear anything, I will let folks know, assuming DOW approves the response since I am not employed by them or authorized to speak on their behalf. If Cabela’s won’t release the application or ads….well, then, I am afraid we are stuck with an unresolved issue, and will have to move on.

    As far as the newspaper thing goes, both sides have legitimate reasons to say what they are saying even if you disagree with the wording.

  45. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Wow, we are now really splitting fine hairs…

    I don’t equate “points” to “bounty”

    And again, Cabela’s didn’t run any ad’s, SFW did, Cablea’s didn’t print any entry forms, SFW did, the beef should lie squarely between SFW and DOW

  46. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    As far as the newspaper, I will have to side, with them, they are a for profit entity and have every right to regulate what is printed in their paper for what ever reason they deem appropriate, that is one of the things in this country that really bugs me, papers are not free speech venues, they have the right do what they want, right wrong or indifferent…the censorship claim is used far to often in this country..newspapers are like blog sites, it is up to the owner/editor as to what is allowed to be published

  47. JimT Avatar

    They do have that right; the question that is legitimate to ask is under what circumstance are ads banned or not accepted? Does the paper have a written policy? If not, it should since you are correct, it is a fairly common issue, and they certainly have the right to look out for their legal interests.

  48. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    JimT Says”

    “I got the impression that Cabela’s was a sponsor as well as SFW. So, is the main difference is that SFW actually RUNS the derby with its own personnel and volunteers?”

    Cabela’s simply responded to a request for merchandise..the contest is run, administered and conducted by SFW, there were no official capacity Cabela’s employees at this derby, it is the same as when I was in the School paper staff many years ago in High School, we used to call everyone we could that would donate to our paper and year book..

    I can bet Cabela’s has no idea of how the derby turned out, who won or really even cares…SFW got a donation from them and used it for their maximum benefit by putting Cabela’s logo on their ad’s and printed material.

    1. JimT Avatar

      I am betting that this won’t happen again.

      It appears to me as if there is confusion on both sides, and legitimate reasons for concern. If I hear anything, I will let you know, assuming I can. Or perhaps DOW is monitoring this blog and will put something up on their website? I know they value sportsmen groups and hunters, and pay attention to concerns expressed.

      Save Bears, I have know DOW folks at all levels now for over 20 years, and I have found them to be professional, value-driven and strong advocates for their organization’s agenda. It is your right to leave the group if you found you disagreed with their policies. I am hoping you are not criticizing the people themselves as being unethical or duplicitous in your dealings with them.

  49. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    Based on what I recall from last November, SB has it exactly correct. Cabelas had no advertisements to my knowledge. Their logo was recquisitioned by SWF without objection, as was Nikon (who juduciously and timely retracted their participation and asked that their logo be pulled). Each offered nominal merchandise sponsorship, for what was essentially a local event. This is not uncommon for businesses to do.

    I think YOU are WAY OFF BASE with your conjectures, and by stating and restating what you think happened, you contibute to the confusion. Please come up with something concrete or refrain. You unnecessarily feed the fire that stifles debate on the true issues.

    This was designed by Defenders to be exactly as we see it, a corporate smear campaign to raise memberhip funds. Connect the dots and you will see it for exactly what it is, the truth be damned.

  50. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    “Points, bounty. The crux here is…was there or was there not a bonus point system for having a wolf kill, or was there not?

    And can someone tell me why the wolf points were added? Anyone?”

    Yes, there were 3 points awarded for killing a legally hunted, tagged and reported wolf kill.

    I don’t know 100%, but I would surmise they added the wolf after the fact, because it was a legal open hunting zone for wolves, and it would create a bigger response from those who were legal to hunt wolves.

    But there was no “Wolf Derby” it was simply the same predator derby that has been held in the past, if they hold it again, when the wolf season is not open, it will still be a predator derby, no wolves would be legal to kill, they do this with big bucks contests back east all the time..they have a big buck contest and if they open up doe hunting during the same time period, they offer points for the largest doe killed.

    It was a misleading ad by DOW plain and simple…

  51. JimT Avatar

    Your opinion is noted. However, I do think that if any logo appears on a page with other logos, the intent by any sponsoring agency is to give the impression that the organization supports that activity, and Cabela’s should have a beef with SFW as well over the implication.

    If I have something concrete, I will let you know. You do the same.

    I think we have beaten this to the status of a dead horse…~S~. Agreed? I am going back to other things, but it has been a good and spirited discussion.

  52. Mgulo Avatar

    My experience in working with local Cabela’s staff in my area is that they are about merchandising, not natural resource issues. Frankly I have found their ignorance about NR issues appalling. I’m not saying they are bad folks – just that they are in the business of selling retail merchandise, not dealing with the issues of interest in this forum. Which is not to say maybe they shouldn’t start.

    My bet is that the local events guy got asked for a donation and ponied up without thinking too deeply about how his action would affect the company and its policies, positions, etc. He’s probably working at Wal-Mart now.

    I remember a Secretary of Interior and a Director of the USFWS who both did similar things. One was pilloried, the other lionized. Go figger.

    Thirty years of professional responsibility and a fondness for accuracy in facts has taken me straight out of most organizations, including DOW, NRA, DU, TU and others. Come to think of it, it’s nearly taken me out of government a couple of times. Likely will yet.

    You not only have to watch who you get in bed with, you have to watch who they’ve been in bed with. Dnag that accountability, sure messes up some good things!

    1. JimT Avatar

      I realize we all want the Dali Lama to run the groups or organizations we work for, but no one, no group is perfect, or hedges its bets from time to time…no one. Humans are imperfect, therefore their creations are imperfect. Realistic Idealism seems a great philosophy to have when dealing with these issues.

      I may or may not have something on this issue by the end of the day. It most likely will be a statement addressing some of the concerns raised here, but I doubt very much if DOW is going to engage in an ongoing conversation here, and indeed, no other group does either on a regular basis, so I find that acceptable. You can evaluate any statement for yourselves. No promises.

      Back to work….

  53. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I am not accusing, I am saying it was misleading and unethical for management to approve this ad.

    You know, I spent many years in the military, before getting my biology degree to work in the wildlife field.

    One thing I always taught my men and women under my command, it is never acceptable to lower yourself to the level of your enemy, you will not win the war, but you will give them ammo to use against you. If we are to be on the “right” side of an issue, we must always maintain integrity, honor and truth, once you employ the same tactics, you have done nothing more than lower yourself to the same level as those you oppose..hence you have become the enemy.

    1. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      My father was a senior Army officer. He, too, believed that keeping the moral high ground, was important. He passed that lesson along in civilian life.



      ++WM, are you equally strict about your own memberships in terms of the truth at all times factor?++

      I am.

    2. JimT Avatar

      An admirable goal, but the whole notion of “right” is a slippery, philosophical discussion that is useful in a college, or law school ethics class, but no real and final conclusions with no exceptions will likely be reached. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t attempt to reach that goal at all times, however. It is the whole Zen thing…accept you will fail while making the journey and you will have peace of mind, but rarely perfection. Such is the human world.

  54. JimT Avatar

    WM, would you care to share the list of these exemplary organizations with all of us?

  55. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Now let me get this straight, we are suppose to accept unethical as well as misleading behavior because every organization does it every now and then?

    I don’t and won’t accept purposeful deception on either side.

  56. JimT Avatar

    I am saying that people and organizations make mistakes, intentional or not, and if you are seeking the perfect person or the perfect organization in all situations, you are going to be one frustrated person. DOW does NOT have a history of deliberate manipulation of facts, unlike some groups I can name.,NRA, NPI, Fox “News”, etc. and I think deserves the benefit of the doubt, something that hasn’t happened here in this case. Those of you who have chosen to take a righteous, lecturing path should be very careful; you now are expected henceforth to meet that standard. And I suspect the reason why this has turned into such a hot topic has less to do with the high road, and more to do with dissatisfaction or disagreement with DOW’s agenda overall. There has been instance after instance of prevarication on the part of IDFG, for example, but if memory serves, your comments have never held them to the same standard as you are now holding DOW for ONE alleged incident. I find that kind of selective application of principles and ethics troubling.

    I did receive a communique from a staff person at DOW. I suspect this is the one and only time. And it may not address all of your concerns, but it does raise some different issues worthy of some thought. I won’t be participating in any additional discussion. I am too close to DOW historically to probably have an unbiased viewpoint, and should have recused myself from this discussion a long time ago. Maybe if I had seen other groups taken to the woodshed I would have considered it less of an exception.

    One more point. I find it somewhat troubling that the focus of some folks here has been more on the ad that DOW is running, and less on the actual fact that these predator derbies take place. I would think that if one would consider oneself an ethical person, but more to the point, an ethical hunter, that person would have a history of protesting the existence of these derbies and doing all one could to make that protest known in an effort to stop these travesties.

    Here is the comment from DOW…Enjoy.

    1. Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse did serve as corporate sponsors for competitions where wolves were targeted.

    Both companies are listed as sponsors on the “predator derby” website for the Idaho chapter of Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife:

    The derby rules offered the highest points for a wolf kill (3 pts as opposed to 2 pts for coyotes). While we have no way of confirming whether wolves were killed during these contests or not, there is a principle at stake here. Defenders firmly believes that targeting wolves in this way was unethical because it encouraged wolves, a newly delisted species, to be killed.

    Even worse, entry fees for these contests — fees that hunters were encouraged to pay by the prizes and sponsorship offered by these companies — were used to support lawsuits aimed at defeating efforts to restore life-saving federal protections for wolves, a fact easily demonstrated on the Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife’s website at the link above and here:

    2. We never claimed that these contests were illegal, only that corporate sponsorship of them was unethical and ill-advised.

    Our main concern here is with the corporate stance being adopted by Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse through their sponsorship of predator derbies where wolves were targeted and their explicit support for the anti-wolf group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. This corporate support incentivizes wolf-killing, emboldens anti-wolf extremists and ignores the important role that wolves play in western ecosystems. The important ecological role played by this top predator was recently highlighted in a report by Daniel Licht of the U.S. National Park Service and others:

    As companies that profess to be concerned with conservation, Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse should not be taking sides with groups like Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, which have long opposed the presence of wolves in the northern Rockies.

  57. Si'vet Avatar

    Jimt, do you have an example of any notable organization, that has been around for several years that neither a member or the organization it’s self hasn’t made a questionable decision. I think a person could even include most religions in the ” could I get a do over”.

  58. JimT Avatar

    And that is my point. IF DOW is in the wrong here, they don’t deserve the righteous lecturing they have received. Read earlier comments about accepting the “fact” that man and humans are imperfect. As I said, I suspect there is a deeper motivation in some of the remarks, just like I think there are anti Fed motivations, and the wolf issue just brought them out.

    Done. Please don’t ask anymore questions here. I won’t be checking.

  59. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Well you may at your choice, not participate in this comment thread any longer.

    But I will say, I have a history of not condoning these contests and have stated so many times on this blog, I don’t believe in predator derbies. I have also made this known with those I have hunted with.

    I will add, I made a choice a few years ago, that cost me my position with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, because of the exact same reason, I would not publish deceptive information that could have been used against wolf restoration.

    As far as your posted response from DOW, I am sure you relationship with them for over 20 years has resulted in their note back to you, but in reading it, I will continue to state my position, they are being willfully deceptive to their membership as well as those they are asking for donations from.

    When it comes to these very important issues, there are no do overs, they were deceptive and unethical and I will continue to say this, just as I do about and other groups that are using deception against the wolves.


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Ken Cole