Big Hole Valley will be empty of wolves after control actions finish.

The rancher who closed his land to public hunting will get his way once all of the wolves in the Big hole Valley are killed.

3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated.
By Nick Gevock, Montana Standard

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

85 Responses to 3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated

  1. Maska says:

    Apparently extortion works.

  2. JimT says:

    How much more evidence does Malloy need of the intent of these states to kill off the wolves, period?

    So, hunters, do you support this kind of blackmail? And don’t give me the private property rights stuff…it is so transparent this guy is not interested in protecting his property….

  3. Save bears says:

    Well apparently Molloy is not quite as worried as many on this blog are, the case has been pending quite a while now, with no schedule to hear arguments yet..

    • Save bears says:

      And if I remember right, the case is over genetic connectivity, not just killing, its been a while since I read the brief’s but seems to me I remember it being over the genetic issue…and with the hunting seasons being completed and the control actions, the numbers are stable, if not growing a small amount, so I really don’t know which way this one will go..

    • Elk275 says:

      Molly is to busy sending meth dealers to prison for umteem years.

  4. JimT says:

    Genetic connectivity is part of the case; so is the main purpose of the ESA and reintroduction that the state, IF it is to take over “management” can’t stack the deck that it is much more likely than not that viable populations can’t be maintained because of hunting, lack of connectivity, etc.

    Meth dealers..worth his time. BAD BAD crap. Lots of it here in Colorado as well…

    I still think he needs to get this done….

    • Save bears says:


      I agree one way or another he needs to get this rapped up.

      But I do have a serious question, I am wondering, if it does not go the way many pro wolf people and organizations want and he declines to relist….what next, do you feel there will be more lawsuits filed? Or will the organizations regroup to figure out another strategy?

    • WM says:


      A thoughtul judge might just find that waiting another 10-12 months -with wolves delisted and states managing, allowing for another hunting season- is an acceptable way to let things continue to sort themselves out, including the genetic connectivity issue, and more wolf-elk interaction data. This would give ID and MT another field season to obtain data, and with the suit pending they would be unlikely to do the drastic things some have predicted here. Factor in the possibility that the WY stays locked up under FWS management, if the judge in WY District Court in Cheyenne decides in favor of FWS (MT and ID are in one federal appellate court circuit (9th – San Francisco), and WY is in another (10th -Denver).

      Judge Molloy may find that temporarily doing nothing in this instance is really doing something for both sides of the issue, although neither will acknowledge the benefits to be derived. Just thinking outloud, is there anything that would compel him to decide?

    • Save bears says:


      In looking at how things have moved over the last year, I don’t see anything that is strongly compelling at this time for him to make a ruling. I would like to see something done with wildlife services, but after a century plus of their operation, I doubt much will be done anytime soon, with his refusal to issue the injunction last fall and very little word from his bench so far, I think he is probably letting status quo go for the time being. He has the ability to do something in a heartbeat if needed..

  5. jon says:

    A hunt isn’t even needed when you have wildlife services wiping out packs.

    • Save bears says:

      As Ralph and I have said, many times, the real threat to wolves is Wildlife Services..they are the ones that need to be put in check..

  6. jon says:

    Wildlife services is indeed a greater threat to wolves in my opinion than hunters. Is there anything being done to stop widllife services?

  7. Si'vet says:

    JimT, I agree, any form of blackmail in my opinion is unacceptable, whether it’s a rancher or other groups / individuals, who may disagree with an agency, or a manufacturer or retail outlet.
    BTW, the hunter providing the commentary about wolves up Lighting Creek, looked suspiciously similar to the guy the news crews always interviews when a tornado or hurricane hits a trailer park in the deep south, not a true representive of the well educated, hard working folks who reside there.

  8. Carl says:

    What is the actual reason that this rancher stopped the hunting on his land? The article doesn’t say.

    • Save bears says:

      Because he felt that FWP was not doing enough to control wolf numbers, in other words, he is trying to blackmail FWP and unfortunately, it seems to be working….I have hunted his land, great place to hunt, but now with it locked up, I am sure FWP has had more than a few complaints from hunters..

    • Elk275 says:

      If you ask him he will let you hunt. Plus the ranch has several guest/Vacation rentals available.

    • Save bears says:


      He pulled his property out of the block management system last fall, I did contact him to hunt last summer and he told me no..which surprised me, because that one of my favorite places to hunt in the past when I lived in Montana…

  9. Elk275 says:

    He said in the paper that if you ask him, he would let you hunt — things change. He also has those cabins which he always rented during hunting season. The elk on the west side of the Big Hole migrate to the Salmon River country around the 1st of November so I have never hunted on that side.

    If you contacted him last summer, what WT*, he was in Block Management until almost opening day last season.

    • Save bears says:


      I really don’t know what is going on, he is good friends with my wife’s uncle who used to guide out of Lincoln, so we were both very surprised, I may try to get a hold of him again this summer, there is some great hunting in that area.if I hear anything I will post it.

  10. Nancy says:

    Between him and the rest of his relatives, they own a sizable (and beautiful) chunk of land between Jackson & Wisdom.

    Maybe if they tempered the hate a bit and took advantage of the non lethal approach, they could have hunting in the fall and also offer wildlife viewing. But I suspect the hunting is only tolerated in order to move the elk off the pastures sooner (and the profit that can be made off block management) I’m not familiar with any ranchers that like elk either.

    • Elk275 says:

      I would doubt very seriously Nancy that a rancher of that type wants wildlife viewers on his property in this day and age.

    • ProWolf in WY says:

      I don’t think ranchers like most wildlife in general.

  11. JB says:

    Wildlife Services are certainly more efficient at killing wolves than hunters, but I think labeling them the bigger “threat” to wolves misses the point that, while they do the killing, they don’t actually set wildlife management policy. Ultimately, state F&G agencies (in ID & MT) and FWS (in WY) set the bounds of WS’ activities. Of course, F&G agencies respond to the politicians who respond to the people who fill their pockets.

    Blaming WS or hunters for killing wolves only gets at the proximate cause of mortality; ultimately, the policies set forth by agencies will determine the success or failure of wolves. John Linnell and colleagues wrote a very good piece on this several years ago that is available online (

    They concluded that protective policy was a better predictor of large carnivore population increase/decrease than human densities (which were previously blamed for carnivore extinctions).

  12. Virginia says:

    Does this rancher charge hunters to hunt on his land?

    • Save bears says:

      He never charged me in the past, and even let me take my old camp trailer a few years ago, but now I stay in a hotel..have never stayed in his cabins…if I remember right, you can’t charge hunters if your in the block management program, but now if he was to open back up as a non high fence operation, he could charge trophy fee’s to hunt, but again, that is not something he has done in the past..

    • Save bears says:

      Sorry, I should have said, trespass fee’s not trophy fee’s

  13. Nancy says:

    I believe I read where they lost around $12 grand for shutting his property off (which is what he got paid for having block management) Not a bad profit for 6 weeks.

    • Elk275 says:


      Ted Turner changes $14,000 for a 5 day elk hunt on the Flying D ranch. The cost operate that hunt should be no more than $4,000 for first class everything. In 2008 they had 45 hunters or $10,000 x 45 = $450,000 for 4 weeks that my friend is some money. Then those 45 hunters shot an addition 24 deer at a trophy fee of $2500 per deer. That is some good money. This is from there website.

    • Ryan says:

      Thats nothing, he could have made 10 times that if he leased it out to outfitters.

    • Elk275 says:

      This is a quote from the web updated web site:

      The Flying D Ranch – $14,000 – 1×1 – Archery or Rifle

      The Flying D Ranch is our premier elk hunting destination and is owned by Turner Enterprises Incorporated. The ranch contains 113,600 deeded acres located in the foothills of the Spanish Peak Mountains about 25 miles southwest of Bozeman, Montana. Elevations on the ranch range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet. Our southern boundary joins the Gallatin National Forest and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area. This is great game country! The herd of 2,500 head of elk has a 2-to-1.5 cow-to-bull ratio or 100 cows to 75 bulls, with a large number of trophy bulls available.

      In 2009, our 22nd annual Flying D Ranch hunt produced some outstanding trophies. Our 29 rifle hunters harvested 28 elk and our 13 archery hunters harvested 10 elk. These bulls were all large horned animals with at least six points per side and had an average gross Boone & Crocket score of 344 1/8 for rifle season and 337 4/8 for archery. Nine trophy white-tail and one trophy mule deer were harvested as well.

      Whitetail Deer Trophy Fee: $2,250

      Mule Deer Trophy Fee: $3,500

      Antelope Trophy Fee: $500

      Management Whitetail or Mule Deer: $1,250

  14. WM says:

    Judge Molloy will hear oral arguments July 15.

    • WM says:

      On line article in Helena paper was in error. It has been corrected to JUNE 15.

  15. JimT says:

    Which means we may not have a decision for the fall hunt starts.

    BTW, couldn’t disagree with you more about a thoughtful judge would let the current situation go on. With each passing week, the actions and the rhetoric of the anti wolf/pro livestock has gotten more brazen, more extreme. A thoughtful judge would take judicial notice of what is going on and see how that affects the case before him or her. With Wildlife Services, at the prodding of the livestock folks, now proposing to start pro actively killing wolves when there isn’t a problem….shit, why bother with a hunting season…seems like wolves will be on the hit least 12, 24-7 if the states get their way.

    BTW, this rancher..did he suffer any losses to wolves? Did he get compensated? Or is this just another version of Tom Chapman, buying inholdings in wilderness areas, and then threatening outrageous developments until he succeeds ijn blackmailing the federal agency? He has expanded his game, now operating down around Durango. Same routine…threaten closing to the the public, some huge development, etc.

    Wildlife services, ranchers, state wildlife agencies..the unholy trinity. Have to do something about them all before wolves will be given a fair chance at recovery.

    • Save bears says:


      He is not an inholder, his family has been in Montana for generations and yes, he has lost livestock to wolves, I don’t know that it was enough livestock to justify killing of three packs, but yes, he has lost assets to wolves.

      Unfortunately and I am not condoning, but I think in the tri-state area we are going to start seeing more and more of matter what Molloy rules…there is a lot of ground out there and very few to enforce laws on that land…I sure hope nobody gets killed before this is all over…

    • Elk275 says:

      This is a 45,000 acre ranch with the headquarters approximately 2 to 3 miles north of Jackson, Montana and is has been fee property since the late 1800’s. This is not in the wilderness, it is in Big Hole Valley bottom, the land of ten thousand haystacks. Thank the ranchers and the people of the Big Hole Valley trying to kept the valley subdivision free.

      He has had 9 cows killed this year. Whether some like it or not 90% of the people of the Big Hole Valley do not like or want wolves and more and more people in the tri-state area are becoming anti wolf. Regardless of how Molly rules wolves will be shot, tapped and poisoned. I was having a bowl of soup in the Bear Claw Bar 6 miles north of Ennis a month or so ago and I overhead several snowmobiler’s talking how they had run over a wolf the day before. Is the local sheriff’s office going to go out of the way to investigate, how much effort is the FW&P going to investigate? Ok, so the feds investigate and issue an warrant. So you have a trial in Federal Court in Butte, Montana good luck trying to get a conviction. The best there could get is a hung jury.

      Save bears you are a faster keyboarder than I am.

    • Save bears says:


      Living in the tri state area for quite a while now and having relatives in the area for generations, I can honestly say, no matter what a judge rules from a bench in any town is going to make much difference. In my time with FWP, I have been out on the ranches and talked to people, unless they are caught red handed doing something illegal, there will be very little prosecution. These issues need to be approached from a completely different angle, or things will continue to escalate and not for the good..

    • JimT says:

      I just meant that he and Chapman are similar in using land to blackmail agencies into doing what they want for their own benefit,period.

      If it ever reached the point that someone was killed for standing up to the usual landed interests, it would be the worst possible way for them to make a case for their continued favored status as it stands currently.

      I still would like to know if he dipped into the compensation fund…

  16. Nancy says:

    If I’m not mistaken Elk275, Ted Turner also has no problem embracing the wolf population on his ranches. Personally, I can’t fathom spending that kind of money to shoot something but hey, each to their own!

    • Elk275 says:

      I would not trust Turner. If the wolves reduce the average B/C score of the bull elk from 344 to below 300 and the success ratio to 20% to 25% what then? Mr Turner is about money. Read the book “Call me Ted”, if he did not have money he would not own those ranches and we would all lose. There were several other purchasers behind Turner whos intention was to subdived the Flying D.

    • bob jackson says:


      I have to disagree with you. Ted has too much emotionally invested in wolves to ever want them reduced on his ranch. In fact if there are more naturally occurring populations of elk “protected” on his ranch I’d say his wolf predation is and will continue to be a lot lower than public lands or high density elk hunting on other private lands.

      In fact the effect will be just the opposite. Elk will gravitate to his land because there are more protective mature bulls on this property.

  17. JimT says:

    It is actually his brother who makes the on the ground decisions at the ranches….not Ted. Ted is too busy chewing scenery, and with a bevy of arm candy usually in tow. Ted is the money, though, no doubt.

  18. JimT says:

    I think if the SSS continues or gets worse, or if the trumped up claims of financial losses continue to get rid of wolves, the ONLY thing that would get the ranchers’ attention is to yank whatever public land leases they have…permanently. I think sometimes folks who continue to rely on more extreme methods and reasoning, while putting up a middle finger at those trying to use the law, or reason, to restore ecosystems deserve a similar response. Sort of like Obama and the bipartisan stuff…finally he got it on health care, and strong armed his party. The same thing will need to happen on financial and bank reform because the other side isn’t interested in problem solving, just getting their way.

    • Save bears says:


      You really don’t understand the mentality of some people in this area do you?

    • WM says:


      JimT, may have spent too much time in Boulder (and Vermont) , breathing rarified air and going to non-profit fund raiser wine and cheese parties. It is, in some repects, like Washington DC – 26 square miles surrounded by reality.

      And, Jim, I do believe things will get worse with the 3S crowd, and WS, if NRM wolves go back on the list. It will amp up the volume of dissent, and little good can come of that. Again, I hope Molloy just takes in more legal and factual information from the parties and ruminates on it for awhile before making a decision.

    • JimT says:

      Not if you mean attitudes based in self centered greed, historical myths, condemning the government while fighting tooth and nail for every damned handout possible, creating and buying into every lie they can about wolves and ecosystems; extolling the cow and elk to a level seen elsewhere only in India.

      What bugs me the most is the hypocrisy inherent in their very beings. Hate the Feds, give me money. I am entitled to my way of living, so give me welfare subsidies on public lands to enable me to do that, but don’t bother me about the lease conditions. I am sick to death of the whining, and the sense of entitlement that would do a teenager proud.

      No, I understand them too well. What I don’t do is give them credibility…or respect….not the way they act and advocate on this issue.

    • Save bears says:

      Well Jim,

      You are making progress, at least you can say the words, but your still not getting to the root of the problems..And you are 100% correct, they are not interested in problem solving, the majority of them figure they know how to solve the problem..Other than a couple of “cities” these people have not had to have anyone solve their problems for them, you may not like it, but in the tri-state area that is the way it is. The problems are far worse than you think…until you understand your “enemy” you will never win the battle, let alone the war…

    • JB says:


      The ‘know thy enemy’ argument goes both ways–Westerners can’t seem to grasp why the rest of us don’t buy the “we hate them so much you need to delist them…NOW” argument. They seem surprised that we are not compelled by the threat that (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘we are gonna have ourselves some wolf management one way or another’ (I believe that was an Idaho F&G commissioner).

      If you favor delisting wolves, you might consider that threatening to take illegal actions because you’re not getting your way is hardly the way to convince a federal judge that you’re capable of sustainably managing wolf populations. I’m not sure how good the SSS crowd is at shooting or shoveling, but they would do the rest of delisting proponents a huge favor if they would shut up.

    • Save bears says:


      Knowing what I know on both sides, I am not stupid enough to take a side, I am just going to stay out of the firing line, and many may not like it, but that is my prediction, there is going to be a firing line, after what I have seen the last year, those who were actually in the middle are either now against, or for, and around these parts, the against is winning…it is going to get really ugly before it ever gets better..

    • Save bears says:

      Not that I like to compare wildlife issues to human issues, but this is really reminding me of the civil rights movement, despite what the government said, people still got killed and I have a fear that wolves are going to get killed..I went to a school board meeting the other night and believe it or not, they compared those who didn’t want to vote for the levy to the “Big Bad Wolf” and all the parents boo’d, now I would have to say, things are getting out of hand…

    • Save bears says:

      Sorry, I should have said, cheered, they don’t like wolves around here and they were comparing people who don’t support the levy to the “Big Bad Wolf”

    • Linda Hunter says:

      Save bears . . you said they don’t like wolves where you are . . are you sure? Didn’t you move? If I am not mistaken you are now very close to where I live and perhaps your meeting was a select group. . many people I know here are happy wolves are moving into Washington.

    • Save bears says:


      Right now I am in Northern Idaho, have not made the move yet

    • WM says:


      There are a couple of facts and values you seem to overlook. The affected areas are where many of these live, try to make a living and recreate. They have a sense of investment and entitlement developed over years, and even generations, in some cases. What they see in the wolf reintroduction is that things are being taken away from them, whether it is a livestock raising subsidy, increased operating costs that result in lower profit margins, hunting opportunity or just the feeling that “big government” or environmental activits are pushing them around. Recall awhile back, we talked about “newcomers” bringing a different set of values that affected those who were aleady here.

      What is the typical response if you feel something is being taken away from you, rightly or wrongly? You fight back. That response can take alot of different forms.

      Not that many who post here have had experience with labor – management issues, but think of a union that has bargained for certain benefits from an employer. When management tries to take something away it is usually met with a stronger reactive response, than when labor is trying to get a new benefit and management turns it down.

      You (we) may not like the fact that there are subsidies in the form of grazing allotments, or, more recently, compensation funds for loss of livestock from wolves. The fact is there are alot of subsidies in different forms that are available to many Americans wherever they live. Ever ride a bus, walk in a park, take crafts class at a community recreation center, or watch a free July 4 fireworks celebration? And how about those tobacco farmer subsidies that were in effect for how many years, or programs available for keeping certain agricultural lands and crops out of production for price supports?

      Sure, there is the “public lands,” it’s my land too, argument. But, again, there is this sense of investment and entitlement that is being taken away, and that is the problem.

  19. Save bears says:

    And In a way, I have to say it, Molloy is a Montana boy, born and raised, so it is anybodies guess on how this will go, it will be interesting to see…

  20. Elk275 says:

    My brain hurts, after 8 p.m. on Monday’s it’s 1/2 price appetizers and beers. I going, going……….gone

  21. Nancy says:

    Not long ago (and I can’t recall where saw the article) I read about Kenya’s approach to wildlife. For years poaching was rampant, and there was little respect for many forms of wildlife, including predators. Livestock owners often complained about the damage.

    Then some started realizing the economic value of their wildlife. That taking care of it and the lands, brought in huge profits in the way of tourism. If you continued to poach, you were shot, no questions asked.

    Kenya certainly does not compare to this part of the country (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) but…….. no where else in this country will you see such a large diversity of wildlife and wilderness. I think in Montana alone, hunting and tourism brings in close to a billon dollars. People from all over the world love to come to this part of the west. And its a fact, that wolves returning to Yellowstone, was a boost to that area even if it got a bit too commercialized (as in the bus tours)
    There’s got to be a happy medium somewhere in all this.

  22. JimT says:


    This sense of entitlement to sweetheart deals at the expense of the land certainly isn’t confined to the West…sugar subsidies, agribusiness subsidies, tax relocation subsidies, you name it. If there is a big business interest, chances are the Feds are funding it somehow, which means the taxpayers. I say get rid of the damned subsidies, and let them compete. Isn’t that the free market system they worship as corporations? Wait a minute, that’s a myth too…And a bunch of the subsidies you mention are not requiring people choose between killing off a species, or helping it survive. Your list is just a red herring.

    What seems to be unique to the West, and ranchers and big game outfitters is the extent to which they will go to keep the subsidies, and then do all they can to bite the hand that feeds them. Whine about the Feds, and the control they have of public lands, but line up at the trough…boy, they do it better than most. If I was exclusively a private lands rancher, I would be one of the most vocal proponents of “pay the market price on public lands or get the hell off, and take care of the lands as well” arguments. I know of no other industry that feels that they are OWED an existence and a living at public expense in way too many cases. And they feel they are entitled to use these public lands as they see fit, and if something is happening on them they don’t like, well, it is their right to get rid of, wolves. See, there is a difference between me feeling ownership of the public lands and wanting to have a say in how they are kept healthy, and feeling like I have the right to use them whatever way I want for my own private gain, trash them in the process, and oppose efforts to restore these lands to some semblance of a balanced ecosystem with appropriate animal and plant life.

    I watched my home town die in upstate NY…first the mills and small manufacturers left for the south for cheaper labor. Then, the dairy farmers got the boot because the milk prices were kept artificially low by the milk distributers, and when some senators tried a subsidy program, ,boy, did big industry cry and moan, and viola, the death of dairy farming in the Northeast was well on its way.

    What I didn’t see was the kind of BS behavior that I read about and hear about daily from Western ranchers about land and ” we need to be here because it is the tradition of the West” crap. I didn’t hear whining or crying because they would have to find a different lifestyle. Maybe there is something to the quiet strength reputation of New England; you just move on and do the best you can.

    Some of these public land dependent ranchers and outfitters could use some of that attitude. Or just be honest about their dependence on welfare, on sweetheart deals, and their goal of getting rid of the wolf once again. I would at least respect their honesty if nothing else.

    • WM says:

      But, in fact, that is how the West was settled, with huge incentives from the federal government, in oh so many forms. Come to and settle the West. If it were not for these time honored incentives Denver, Salt Lake, Boise, and a couple of dozen second tier larger cities would not exist. Initially homesteading, federal water projects, the mining act, timber extraction with road systems built with federal dollars, and the list goes on and on.

      I don’t necessarily disagree that it is time to stop. I just said one needs to understanding the motivations for resistance, AND IMPORTANTLY, how to counter them in an effective manner.

      And, we just have to disagree on how many wolves is enough or too many.

    • Elk275 says:


      You missed the big one. Land grant railroads, every odd numbered section 10 miles on either side of the railroad tracks. The railroad goes out of business and the land goes into a trust. Then the trust as in parts of Northern Montana resells it back to the government.

    • pointswest says:

      I have posted this before because I think there is a misunderstanding of government policy towards ranchers and farmers. There is a long standing government policy to lower the cost of food in the US. That is the motive behind laws and policy that aid farmers and ranchers. The government wants to keep food production as high as possible so that food prices are low as possible in the US. Farms, ranches, dairies, etc. all get special consideration by law makers.

      Imagine what would happen if a milk monopoly formed? How high could the price of milk go? You can bet that politicians would quickly move to break such a monopoly up. We might stand idly by when the Hunt Brother’s corner the silver market and double the price of silver, but we’re not going to let them corner the milk market and double the price of milk for the baby!

      There is a long standing policy of government to keep food production high in the form of subsidies, government services, tax exemptions, and lack of regulation. It is not some farmer or rancher conspiracy.

    • JimT says:

      Yeah, read the history of the checkerboarding of the West by RR grants and 40 acres and a mule. It got the West settled, but at what cost? If you look at appropriate uses given native environments, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, the Imperial Valley ag operation…none of them should exist.

      As I have said before, it will all eventually come down to water in the West, and the signs are not good…

    • WM says:

      ++it will all eventually come down to water in the West, and the signs are not good.++

      You are correct about water and the West. When you go to the tap in your home in Boulder, do you know where the water you are drinking came from? The headwaters of the Colorado River, on the other side of the Continental Divide. It is piped through the mountains to the Front Range, and delivered via one of the most sophisticated systems of tunnels, siphons, reservoirs and canals in the world. That “foreign” water must stay within the bounds of the N. Colo. Water Conservancy Dist., which basically tracks the South Platte River and it tributaries north of Denver. The City of Denver would kill for that water, but can’t touch it.

      Viewed by today’s standards, not one of the most ecologically smart trans-mountain diversion projects, but that water as well as many lesser systems (or larger in the case of the Central Arizona Project) have allowed what was otherwise borderline desert to flourish with irrigated agricultural production, human development, and recreation in the mountains.

  23. Cody Coyote says:

    To summarize: what Hirschy did is blackmail . Not a good management tool for either sector of the wolf and cattle crux to employ.

    I used to spend a lot of time in the Big Hole valley. Might as well be renamed Hirschyvakia, as such the cow chips of history fell. The term landed aristocracy comes to mind, and Wisdom , Montana…isn’t. But it’s really fine country , peppered with hot springs.

    The wolves will be back to replenish the endless mounds of haystacks. It’s perfect range for them and the cows both. It’s world class mosquito habitat, too. What a shame we can’t learn to get along better when irresolveable issues arise . This isn’t going away.

  24. JimT says:

    Points West,

    Given the latest figures show that if we eliminated public lands welfare ranching, we would affect the nationwide supply of beef by less than 3%. So, I doubt we would have the dire effects you predict if this particular subsidy ended.

    And let’s not forget, the very large majority of agriculture in this country is corporate owned, corporate minded, and not your mythic mom and pop ranch of yesteryear.I went to a presentation last week where the ex-head of the Colorado Sheep and Wool Growers stated that less than 2% of Americans are involved in agriculture. When farmers are paid NOT to produce crops…there is something radically wrong with the system.

    • pointswest says:

      I understand all that but keeping food prices down is what has driven the policy and it has worked. We are the richest country in the world and we pay far less for food than most other developed nations.

      I am not defending the policy, especially not in the case of needlessly destroying wildlife, but I think it is important to have a clear understanding in what you are dealing with. I read countless posts here of people bemoaning farm and ranch welfare like there is some conspriacy. It is not a conspiracy, it is a long standing American policy of keeping food prices down.

      Counties have all kinds of free government services through the FSA and Country Extension to help farmers grow more food and to help keep the costs down. They are goverment handouts to farmers but the reward is that anyone in the USA can afford to eat well.

    • JB says:

      Yes, and unfortunately we’ve been eating too well. Now we’ll need to put those subsidies toward health care in order to deal with all of the problems our cheap food has created.

    • pointswest says:

      …maybe so. Maybe if we let corporations to run government farm policy for maximum profit and beef goes to $15 per pound, milk to $20 per gallon, a loaf of bread costs $8, we will become a healthy nation again.

    • JB says:


      I’m struggling to discern what point you’re making. Policy does not have to be a blunt instrument. I don’t think anyone is saying that we should put a stop to all government subsidies to agriculture. Rather, subsidies should be targeted to provide for the greatest good. From my perspective, supporting livestock production in mountainous, semi-arid ecosystems simply isn’t good policy–it isn’t a smart way to spend money. If the price of beef goes up because of it, well that’s a good thing too. Americans eat far too much red meat and it is costing our society big $$ to treat the associated chronic health problems.

    • pointswest says:

      My point is, if you want to change something, it might be easier if you have some idea of what you are trying to change instead of running in circles and screaming, “conspiracty!! conspiracy!! conspiracy!! …it’s all an evil conspriacy!!!”

    • Jeremy B. says:

      Sorry; apparently I missed the running in circles screaming “conspiracy” part?

  25. pointswest says:


    I am not defending the policy, but a 3% decrease in beef production may result in a 10% increase in price. The whole idea behind American farm policy is that the goverment can spend relatively small amounts of money to keep production high and prices low.

    Again, I am not defending the policy. I am only explaining what it is…or, at least, what it was when the policies were instituted.

    They need to be changed in the case of wildlife. But to change them, you first need to know what they are and where they came from. It seems like many who post here do not know.

  26. Nancy says:

    Heres a start PW:

    When I was a kid (in a big family) Dad use to have a beautiful vegetable garden out back in addition to his full time job. Mom raised chickens.

    Few people can do that anymore and local farms for fresh produce and meat, are a thing of the past.

    I stopped eating meat awhile ago not just because of the health benefits or the price, but because of the recalls.

    A clerk at a local grocery recently told me that consumers don’t know the half of it when it comes to them, we only hear about the ones that kill, not the ones that make people ill.

    • Nancy,

      Thanks for the page It is certainly going to be helpful for me.

      Raw ground meats. . . wow! eat them quickly!

    • pointswest says:

      Well OK then…we have it from Nicolas Heidorn, a public policy intern at the Independent Institute in Oakland. Since Nick says farm subsidies were not intended to keep food prices low, it must be true then.

      I wonder what else Nick has to say, and I wonder, then, why we do farm welfare…all the rich landed farmers and their powerful farm lobby??? Wow…what a conspiracy!!

      What is the Independent Institute in Oakland anyway? I mean, do they have an office? …or is it one of those street organizations that beg you for money when you walk around Berkeley.

    • pointswest says:

      From Wikipedia: “An agricultural subsidy is a governmental subsidy paid to farmers and agribusinesses to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities, and influence the cost and supply of such commodities. Examples of such commodities include wheat, feed grains (grain used as fodder, such as maize, sorghum, barley, and oats), cotton, milk, rice, peanuts, sugar, tobacco, and oilseeds such as soybeans. […] Classical economic theory predicts that subsidizing a commodity would tend to increase production and depress the price.”

      I know Wikipedia is not the best source but I was also taught in my college economics course that farm subsidies were intended to reduce food costs and I have read this again dozens of times since college. People may argue the wisdom or the rationale but a reduction in food prices was the original intent of subsidizing farmers.

      But be my guest and believe whatever you want to. If you search on the internet, you can find any outlandish statement you want to believe…IN PRINT! (They just discovered Noah’s Ark, again.) But I believe, and I will always believe, farm subsidy’s original intent was to lower food prices in the US and while I believe there is politics involved, it is still the primary motive behind them.

  27. Nancy says:

    You’re wecome Ralph. Not trying to get off subject here but if you’d didn’t get into the bowels of the site this link is VERY interesting:

    Click on FDA Enforcement Report down in the second paragraph. It brings up the last 60 days of class 1 recalls (High Elert) Pick any week and it will blow your mind! Lots of salmonella out there………………And its not just the food we consume, look at all the recalls for plasma.

  28. Si'vet says:

    PW, I can’t totally agree, with regards to subsidies being implemented to keep costs down. CRP is a program that subsidizes nonproduction. Moving livestock that would normally be on public land into rotation on CRP land make more sense.

    • pointswest says:

      CRP’s intent is to prevent soil erosion. For land to be eligible for CRP, it must have a certain erosion index.

      Again…that is not to say that politics does not end up playing a part in any government spending but it was the original intent of CRP and it was originally administered by the Soil Conservation Service (or some name like this).

      I’m not defending it and I’m sure the intest gets lost amoung all the greed, but it was the original intent to prevent soil erosion that is a serious problem in some locals.

    • pointswest says:


      You can graze cattle on CRP land, it’s just that CRP will no longer make payments for non-production if you do.

      Standard disclaimer, I am not defending CRP and I’m sure greed, graft, and corruption end up ruling the day in many instances.

  29. I have to add my two cents or more since I and WWP have been doing quite a bit of work on the Big Hole River Basin and its wildlife, especially for Montana fluvial grayling and Montana adfluvial grayling, which are both rapidly going out of business not only in the Big Hole River Basin and the entire Upper Missouri River Basin, upstream of Great Falls, MT, but for the entire U.S.!

    The Montana fluvial grayling populations are the last in the lower 48 states, with the Michigan fluvial grayling going extinct in the early 1900s, leading to the formation of Trout Unlimited at Grayling(less), Michigan. We petitioned and sued the FWS to get them protections under ESA, and now under a legal settlement, the FWS is completing a new status review.

    First, note that the pack named the Battlefield Pack certainly used the National Park Service lands in the Big Hole within the Nez Perce National Park, Big Hole Battlefield Historic Unit. In fact, while my wife and I were there once viewing the river, its extensive ungrazed riparian zone and seeking to view a moose that the Park Ranger was trying to point out to us from the Visitor Center viewing deck, my wife spotted a black wolf in the riparian on the NPS lands. When questioned, the Park Ranger told us there weren’t any wolves here, and of course the wolf did not reappear in the willow thicket for photos and further id. What a shame that there will be no more wolves at the Nez Perce National Park in the Big Hole, MT. Too bad others will not get the experience my wife enjoyed. I wonder if the Nez Perce Tribe has been notified of this Wildlife Service action – probably not since the State of Montana tends to ignore the Nez Perce Tribe, and considers it an “Idaho tribe” rather than having sacred lands and historic hunting, fishing, and gathering lands in the Big Hole.

    Hirschy and his relatives have been not only using up the vegetative resources of the Big Hole for a long time between Jackson and Wisdom, they have also been mining the water of the Big Hole River Basin to the detriment to the river and its tributaries and of course to the imperiled Montana fluvial grayling, with its last stronghold in the Upper Missouri River Basin, where Lewis and Clark found them as abundant, in the river reach between Wisdom and Jackson, MT.

    WWP has been in a long legal battle with the Montana Water Court and MT DNRC over the Big Hole Basin Adjudication. Many ranchers in the Big Hole, including the Hirschys have greatly expanded their water use and now their water claims under the adjudication, resulting in literally hundreds of water claims with Issue Remarks placed by MT DNRC for unwarranted claims for additional CFS, acreages, time of use and places of use that cannot be resolved between the state and the water users. We are not talking about a few gallons or CFS here, but some of the residents are trying to commit highway robbery on the Big Hole River, its tributaries, and of course the Montana fluvial grayling (plus other fish, anglers, and guides/outfitters) that depend on minimum instream flows for their existence…. and the weirdest part is, the State of Montana has the aerial photography, satellite imaging, court documents, and other historic and current documentation to prove the expansionist water users like the Hirschys wrong, but cannot without objectors like WWP and in a few cases, the Nez Perce Tribe, Trout Unlimited, and even MT FWP.

    If you read Collapse by Jared Diamond, the author paints the Hirschys as gracious landowners and hosts, but I view them differently. They are just welfare ranchers on a larger scale and as Ralph previously named them, they are simply “Land Barons” who seriously believe they are entitled to everything, including the river, the native fishes, and now the wolves.

    • Reminds me of John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son”

      “Some folks are born, silver spoon in hand,
      Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh!”

  30. Si'vet says:

    PW, again I think we are close, soil eroision, and taking marginal land out of production to stablize/increase prices. Proper grazing rotation would benefit erosion issues, some public land grazing issues, and since sheep would be a good fit, reduced exposure to wild sheep.

    • pointswest says:

      Please look at the following FSA webpage and find the part about CRP choosing land that will increase prices for certain crops.

      CRP is also interested in preserving riparian areas and maybe more. CRP may be more likely to qualify land which typically grows crops of low price but land typically can grow one of several crops.


      Eligible Land

      To be eligible for placement in CRP, land must be either:

      -Cropland (including field margins) that is planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity 4 of the previous 6 crop years from 1996 to 2001, and which is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity; or
      -Certain marginal pastureland that is suitable for use as a riparian buffer or for similar water quality purposes.

      Additional Cropland Requirements

      In addition to the eligible land requirements, cropland must meet one of the following criteria:
      -Have a weighted average erosion index of 8 or higher;
      -Be expiring CRP acreage; or
      -Be located in a national or state CRP conservation priority area.

    • pointswest says:

      You know the ancient city of Ephesus was destroyed by soil erosion. Ephesus was one of the largest and most important cities in the ancient world until soil erosion destroyed much of the surrounding agriculture and silted the rivers. The rivers carried their sediment load into the harbor at Ephesus and filled it in. The Temple of Artemis was the largest temple of the ancient world and was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Ephesus may have been the 2nd largest city, behind Rome, in the Roman Empire at 250,000 people since it was as large or lager than Alexandria until Ephesus began to decline in the wake of soil erosion.


April 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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