Tomorrow is the big day before Judge Molloy-

“”People simplify things,”[Ed] Bangs said. “They’ll say 300 wolves is not enough for recovery, but that’s not the recovery goal. That’s bogus. Or they’ll say the Service promised there’d never be more than 300 wolves. That’s not true either.” Rest of the story in the Missoulian.

Tagged with:
About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

112 Responses to Crowds expected Tuesday as wolves return to court in Missoula

  1. RLMiller says:

    Question re public access to hearing: will anyone who uses Twitter be in the courtroom and if so what is the Twitter handle to follow? Failing that, will there be cameras or audio access so that people outside the courtroom can live-tweet? And if so, FAQs re links and time of hearing. I’m on Twitter as @RL_Miller and would like to help with public access.

    • RLMiller,
      Do you want to post your email address so someone can reach you if anyone reading this has this information?

    • Save bears says:

      I think it will come down to the federal regulations in court rooms, I do know in the state of Montana, they allow video cameras and audio devices in court rooms, but am not familiar with federal regulations, I do know that two of the Montana news stations said they will have people there to report on the proceedings…

    • WM says:

      No pics or recording in Judge Molloy’s courtroom, and all cell phones off, so if you hold up your cell phone, keep it open, or whatever, expect to get spanked VERY HARD.

      Rules of Procedure USDC District of MT.
      (a) Pursuant to the direction of the Judicial Conference of the United
      States, the taking of photographs in the courtroom or its environs in
      connection with any judicial proceeding, including any person participating
      in a judicial proceeding, or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings by radio,
      television or other means is prohibited.

    • RLMiller says:

      I can be reached at azureblueskies at sbcglobal dot net.

      Most federal courts hate cameras in the courtroom, although I’m not up on local rules.

      For Twitter folks, I’ve reached out to @Defenders but haven’t heard back from them yet. And I’m always looking for interesting wilderness/wildlife advocates.

  2. RLMiller,

    I see you did an important story on the Salt Lake City oil spill with a good political analysis.

    It should be read.

  3. jon says:

    Ralph, I can only imagine how angered the wolf haters will be if wolves get relisted. I expect quite a few wolves to be illegally killed. The wolf issue will be a problem for many for years and years to come.

    • Save bears says:

      And I can see how angry the pro wolf side will be if they are not re-listed and it will be years and years of lawsuits, no matter how he rules there is going to be a hell of a lot of pissed off people one way or another…

    • Mike says:

      Save Bears –

      It seems like certain groups of people just have a hard time leaving wild things alone. That’s what this comes down to.

    • Save bears says:


      This case has far more to it than just wolves..

  4. jon says:

    Very true sb. We want to keep them alive and well, you know what the other side wants. Reaching a balance with the other side is impossible and I am sure the other side feels the same way. People should stick up for wolves simply because they are one of the most persecuted predators ever. When the topic of wolves comes up, everyone wants to voice their opinion.

  5. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    It’s going to get ugly.

    • jon says:

      Yes, it will. This is an issue that will be going on for years to come. The wolf haters want wolves gone and we wolf supporters want them to stay. It will get ugly. This is a war.

    • This isn’t a wildlife issue for the anti-group (and maybe for the pro-wolf group too some extent). It isn’t even really about wolves.

      It is a mobilization of hostility from part of a primarily rural subculture against people they don’t like: urban, out-of-state, and especially educated people.

      The wolf is a symbol used for rallying. Unfortunately this is the kind of thing to expect during a bad recession in rapidly changing times.

    • Save bears says:


      I agree, there is far more at stake right now, than wolves…it is going to get REAL ugly before this is said and done, and will effect many areas besides wildlife..

    • JB says:


      Your comment reminded me of a paper that came out shortly after the reintroduction in which the author (a social scientist) argued that the conflict about wolves was merely symbolic of a much larger conflict, with more profound social implications. Here is the abstract and reference if anyone is interested:

      “In spring 1995, wolves were returned to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for the first time in five decades. Despite this being hailed as a success, public opposition to the wolf remains intense in many rural communities surrounding the reintroduction site. This study shows that social controversy remains because it is much more than a debate about wolves; it is a conflict between the advocates of two social movements–environmentalism and wise use–struggling to impose their own preferences for land use in the American West. Wolves are merely symbols delineating the battle lines of a much larger conflict. Three underlying social issues drive the debate: (1) differential access to social power, (2) conflicting ideas about private property, and (3) divergent beliefs about nature. Recognizing these deeper levels of social conflict is important, because it is from here that future land use controversies are likely to emerge. By identifying and describing the symbolic nature of the wolf reintroduction conflict, this article addresses a major policy issue dividing the environmental movement from the wise use movement and reveals long-standing social issues that recently have erupted into the foreground of policy discourse over the future of federal land management in the American West. ”

      Wilson, M. A. (1997). The wolf in Yellowstone: Science, symbol, or politics? Deconstructing the conflict between environmentalism and wise use. Society & Natural Resources, 10, 453-468.

    • JB says:

      As a follow up, the stereotypes that Ralph mentions provide a way for people to vilify and de-personalize the opposition. If wolf/wildlife supporters can be “cast” as urban, East coast, liberal, elites–then they become easier to oppose…and hate. I find the focus on people (i.e. social labels), rather than issues, troubling. It will not lead any place productive.

    • Thank you for the reference JB. I agree. This issue has been fought out many times over other “Western issues”: wilderness, public land grazing, forest management practices.

      While environmentalism was quickly accepted in the United States in the late 1960s as a legitimate viewpoint. Resistance from the elites in rural Western communities was almost immediate. I recall in the early 1970s, in Idaho some group called the Committee of 10,000 was threatening Idahoans who lived in Idaho cities with no access across private lands if they supported the environmentalists.

  6. jon says:

    Not to change the subject, but I have been seeing some of the wolf haters wanting Rex Rammell to win since he is very anti-wolf and he vowed to drastically reduce wolf #s somehow, does anyone feel he has a good chance of winning? A mormon that hates wolves, go figure.

  7. Jon Way says:

    JB’s comments of “urban East Coast liberals” got me thinking about the anti-wolf crowd one year of saying “why don’t they reintroduce wolves to Central park”. Well irony is interesting as there are currently wild eastern coyotes living in Manhattan and these animals I argue in a recent scientific paper should be called coywolves as they are coyote x red/eastern wolf hybrids as we have discussed on this blog before. Paradoxically, this animal is likely more closely related to the original eastern wolf that lived here as the gray wolf is more distantly related to both coyotes and eastern wolves (and naturally also to coywolves).

    Also, I believe part of the symbol of wolves is also who is in charge of wildlife. We have argued about how undemocratic it is to have 1 user group (hunters) in charge of wildlife (at least effectively in charge of). If other groups had a realistic say in wildlife mgmt (especially since there numbers are often greater than hunters) then I would argue there would be more common ground and compromises like a guaranteed moderate to low hunt as opposed to state wide reduction of wolf pops immediately after coming off the ESA…. Just my thoughts.

  8. william huard says:

    To follow up Mr Way’s point it is interesting that two hunting groups are leading the charge to block relisting of wolves. Sportsmen for Sportsmen and Sci. The world is one big game park!

  9. Cody Coyote says:

    Writing from Wyoming , let me add that a somewhat parallel lawsuit was heard in the court of another federal judge , District Judge Alan B. Johnson down in Cheyenne way back in January. In a very clear sharp edged case of venue shopping , my own Park County county attorneys as plaintiffs , among others, tried to get Wyoming’s gawdawful state wolf management plan approved.

    Five and a half months later, Judge Johnson has yet to rule. I have very strong hearsay evidence , off the record unfortunately, that Johnson’s ruling will likely be tied to Molloy’s case at least in spirit if not the letter of the parallel proceedings, which might be improper but not wrongful snce these two cases are really the same case. Johnson’s case is a subset of te issues Molloy is hearing today. Molloy has a bigger umbrella over the whole of Northern Rockies wolf recovery, not just Wyoming’s little tantrum and impudence about it . The case before Johnson is narrower. It s also a snowball in Hell and nothing more than grandstanding and chicanery by my wolf-hating fed-hating ESA-hating County and its ilk, IMHO.

    I am encouraged that Judge Johnson is taking his time to rule or in fact deferred it; that he also is depending greatly on agency input not just the courtroom rhetoric. And that’s what Wyoming’s idiotic wolf ” management” plan is based on …livestock industry and commercial hunting rhetoric and a return to landed aristocracy and baronial arrogance. It sure ain’t based on any real wildlife recovery within the framework of ESA science.

    The only real question is whether both judges will rule individually or collectively before this fall’s hunting season locks and loads in the three states. The game is afoot.

    • WM says:


      ++In a very clear sharp edged case of venue shopping++

      I think Federal District in Wyoming is, from a practical standpoint, the more convenient district court where the WY only wolf plan could be heard, so it is not completely a forum shopping issue. However, WY’s AG, like any lawyer, sought the most favorable place to hear their case. Happens all the time across this entire country every day – plaintiff lawyers looking for the best forum.

      It also raises the eventuallity that an appeal would be heard in the 10th Circuit in Denver. The MT District Court appeal would be heard in the 9th Circuit, sitting in San Francisco (which also happens to be the most liberal and overturned, and one of the least respected of the intermediate federal appellate courts). The 10th, on the other hand is highly regarded. And, then, there is the possibility down the appellate road, if it goes that direction, that the wolf cases could eventually get to the SCOTUS.

      Gotta remember FWS is a defendant in both cases, but with a twist. In the WY case – the state of WY as planitiff going after FWS for not approving the WY wolf plan, in which they will argue they did follow the ESA, by not doing so. In the MT case – its the wolf advocate plaintiffs who say FWS did not following the provisions of the ESA. I have not read the WY complaint, but that seems to be the gist of how it all plays out.

      I am not sure they deserve to be called “parallel proceedings.”

    • Cody Coyote says:

      WM— Judge Johnson is the fellow who took over from Judge Brimmer who retired this year. Brimmer often ruled very favorably for Wyoming’s state resource-driven interests ( read: Wise Use Sagebrush Rebellion et al) and against federal umbrella in general and environmental lawsuits in particular.

      Look no further than the competing Yellowstone IWnter Use-Sylvan Pass snowmobiling lawsuts…one in a Montana courtroom deciding this way , the other in Brimmer’s court going the opposite direction with its ruling. They obviously can’t both be right. The Yellwostone winter use plan is still in litigation becasue of Dueling Lawsuits and cross-venues.

      With wolves it’s sorta the same. EXCEPT with wolves, Wyoming’s case is feeble. Wyoming has the fewest wolves of the three states, even with the Yellowstone NP packs, and the entire Northern Rockies wolf program by FWS is run out of Helena MT. Which makes Molloy’s court the obvious venue to hear any and all wolf suits. But Wyoming has this boneheaded belief that we are 500,000 Against The World and thus can bend it all our way—Not!

      Wolves have never been a States Rights issue, but that is precisely what some of the plaintiffs in Johnson’s court were trying to claim. State boundaries have no bearing on wolf presence, dispersion, and overall management goals. I certainly can fault FWS for altering the 10j rule to allow each state to ” accomodate” or “control” wolves according to their own perceptions of those wolves impacting game herds, but that is wrong , and it says nothing towards livestock. The Wyoming sidebar lawsuit very definitely has livestock written all over it , and Wyoming’s wolf (mis)management plan is livestock driven when you scrape the hide off it.

      You certainly must recall a few lawsuits back when the enviros AND the livestock-hunting lobby were on the same side of a wolf suit against FWS as plaintiffs.

      What I hope comes out of Molloy’s ruling is a solid stainless steel ruling that Wyoming’s insistence on a Dual Status- Predatory taking of wolves outside the National Zoo Zone will never be acceptable. All Wyoming has to do is acquiesce on tha one simple poiint—remove Predator status and substitute regualted/trophy hunts as s presently done with other large carnivores such as cougar and black bear—and all these lawsuits will sublimate and we can get on with the business of real wolf management at the state level in all three states. But l’il ole stubborn Wyoming does not play well with others and will go to its grave demanding shoot on sight Predator Status. Defenders of Wyoming’s stupid wolf plan , such as my mousy county attorneys, will die on the steps of the US Supreme Court without the requisite epiphany on that point. About ten years from now, given how slowly the Appeals Court judicial wheels turn Can we really afford to endure ten years and spend millions more on fruitless or frivolous lawsuits defending a wolf plan that is doomed ?

      Wyoming needs to grow up. It isn’t the 19th century anymore. Remove the Predator Status and we can make some practical progress towards a defensible delisting. program.
      Anybody wanna bet five bucks that Molloy will RE-list in all three states because of Wyoming’s singular boneheadedness? Ralph or Ken can hold the money…

    • WM says:


      I agree with you on the substance of your comment, and have for a long time, regarding WY’s juvenile, for lack of a better word, approach with the Predator Zone. I may have mentioned some time back that there were rumors (maybe more than that) of behind the scenes conversations with the wildlife department staffs of the three states. ID and MT are resentful of the jeopardy WY’s position has put their programs in, as you can imagine. WY’s position to take this ridiculous position was pushed by the Legislature and the Gov., not the wildlife staff. The AG gets dragged in as the State’s lawyer, and of course they can’t have a public opinion which differs from their client’s desire (behind closed doors and under their breath they know exactly how stupid the WY plan and case really is). This is about federal -state relationships, pushed by 19th Century minds.

  10. RLMiller says:

    Here’s the scoop for anyone who wants to know what’s going on inside the courtroom (assuming no TV coverage). Go to, search @Missoulian, and update (via refresh button) often. They have a reporter at the hearing who will be live-tweeting. Reporter has already noted 15 anti-wolf protesters outside the courtroom. If I find any other tweeters, I’ll reply to this post. I also hope to have a DailyKos story up later today, but I’m also writing a lot on Oilpocalypse and climate matters.

    Court’s website shows that 2 hours are allocated for hearing, from 9 AM to 11 AM local time.

    • RLMiller says:

      Ignore the above. Molloy has banned all electronic media, inc. blackberries and iphones, so we’ll all have to wait for news.

    • jon says:

      It would be better if we had video of the scene outside of the courthouse.

    • Save bears says:

      Boy they are getting passionate, heck one of the lawyers is already passed out!!!

    • jon says:

      Does anyone know if any wolf supporters show up? I heard only 85 wolf haters showed up. Where are the wolf supporters?

    • Save bears says:

      Have not seen any stories yet on wolf supporters, but have seen quite a few on the anti side showing up in strong numbers, one article I read, estimated around 130 anti wolf people were outside the courthouse…

    • Save bears says:


      I will have to look back at the various articles I have read, I could be wrong, or perhaps read it wrong….but really I don’t think it matters much, when your talking Montana having 85 turn out, is really a pretty big turn out, especially if few advocates showed up.

      That said, I don’t think the number of supporters or detractors will have much of a effect on how Molloy rules..

    • Save bears says:


      And I am sure there are more than 85 in Montana that have jobs and can’t afford to take the time off to go to the hearing as there is with wolf supporters…

      What is your point here?

    • jon says:

      so, are you saying those 85 wolf haters don’t have jobs sb? I doubt all of the wolf haters in MT work the same exact hours.

    • Save bears says:

      Christ Jon,

      Lets wait and see what the judge says, you are really worked up today!

      You do realize, that not everybody in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming actually care don’t you?

      I didn’t say these people didn’t have a job, or not, I said, many people don’t have the flexibility to take time off work when this type of thing comes up..

      I can see this is going to be a long freaking day, you seem like you just want to pick a fight Jon.

      And as I said, I seriously doubt it a 1000 showed up, Molloy has to rule based on law…and I am sure that is how he will rule..

      One of the key questions Jon???? Why didn’t you show up?

  11. jon says:

    Post the link sb. All of the articles I have seen so far has said 85 wolf haters so far, but I have heard nothing about the wolf supporters. I don’t get why they aren’t showing up to these important events. Maybe I am wrong and they are there, but they are never talked about and it never tells you how many are there, only how many wolf haters are there. Are they afraid of being attacked by the wolf haters or being confronted or something? One thing I have noticed about the anti wolf movement is when these rallies go down, not as many wolf haters show up as the wolf haters would have you think otherwise.

  12. jon says:

    “This isn’t about wolves and wildlife,” said Jerry Black, a retired airline pilot. “This is a mobilization of hostility. You see all these kids with these anti-wolf signs. How do you think they’re going to learn to really respect wildlife?”

  13. WM says:

    This must be a day for fainting in public forums:

    General Patreaus faints in Senate Hearing (he’s OK now). Look at the expression on John McCain’s face. Video

    • Save bears says:

      I was watching that when it happened this morning, it was a weird thing…

  14. jdubya says:

    Jerry Black is rite on.

  15. jdubya says:

    That said, this is the hearing I would be at if I had a choice….

  16. JEFF E says:

    “..Molloy isn’t expected to make a decision Monday,(they mean Tuesday, today) and it will probably take a few weeks to review the extensive briefs and case law involved in the wolves’ future….”

    from a media outlet

  17. Angela says:


    Ralph, your comments were right on the mark.
    sign “Elitist Environmental Snobs”
    “We’ve got a few people from back East that can come out here and dictate to us about the wolves.”

    Listen to Casey Richardson (Sportsmen for Wildlife VP) at the very end. I had to listen twice to hear what he said–it seems like he is arguing that there would be more wolves if ungulate populations were increased by management. But the management they want is to kill wolves. ??? Anyone understand this?

    • jon says:

      What I don’t quite get is why some would ask why are wolves protected in WY, but not MT and Idaho. Wolves are protected in WY because of their rejected wolf management plan which would have allowed wolves to be shot on sight in 80% of the state. Blame the people who came up with this blame and that is the reason why wolves are protected in Wyoming. Idaho I believe had an aggressive wolf management plan and it will only get worse as I believe they want to get down to 150 wolves. That is literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of wolves dead. Montana;s plan if it happens is much more aggressive than their last one. I believe there are a little over 500 wolves in Montana and the wolf haters think this is too much, 500 wolves in a place like Montana? Please. They will cry wolf any chance they get. Even if there was 100 wolves, the wolf haters would still be whining.

    • Ryan says:

      I believe there are a little over 500 wolves in Montana and the wolf haters think this is too much, 500 wolves in a place like Montana? Please. They will cry wolf any chance they get. Even if there was 100 wolves, the wolf haters would still be whining.


      That could easily be countered with if even 1 wolf gets killed, the wolf lovers will be whining.

    • Save bears says:


      Because they have a different perspective and opinion on this issue, that is not hard to understand, the people in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, simply live a different life than you do and have a different feeling on this subject..

      I would have thought after so long of discussing this, you would have understood that?

  18. WM says:

    Can anyone explain from a practical administrative standpoint how it is disadvantageous to the NRM wolf population to have them delisted in ID and MT (which some advocates agree should happen if proper levels of protection and numbers are assured) and not have them delisted in WY, where they now and in the future would get a higher level of protection than if WY had an approved plan (also recognize the safe reserve areas of Yellowstone, Teton and maybe the Wind River Indian Res.)?

    And before answering this, recognize that FWS has primacy for their care as ESA listed species in WY. Thus, wolves are not hunted in WY (legally anyway). Control actions are done in consultation with FWS and carried out by WS, thus affording WY wolves a higher level of protection in WY, than if they had had an approved plan.

    On this issue alone, the logic of not allowing delisting in two states because WY is being irresponsible is mystifying. The other issues. And yes, we need to know the five that Molloy mentioned he wanted answers for, which Ken is requesting on another thread.

  19. Cody Coyote says:

    WM—don’t presume that because wolves in Wyoming are not delisted that they somehow are better protected. That’s a paper experiment. In reality, between Wildlife Services and the SSS snipers, I’m pretty sure ‘protection’ is a fleeting , fluid concept. Wyoming basically has a Zero Tolerance for wolves, and FWS agents almost always yield to any state request to “control” a wolf or wolves. Wyoming already tries to manage down to a floor number of wolves just above mandatory relisting quotas . With or without a sanctioned plan the net result is the same. Any excuse to take a wolf is granted, basically. 137 of them have been tallied as ‘exterminated with extreme prejudice’ in the last three years… vs 116 cattle in the same time frame.

    It’s true that Wyoming feels wolves were foisted on them and really don’t want to manage them , all the while considering them on the one hand to be “Federal dogs” and the other hand to not be worth the money . The expense of setting up another game program and throwing manpower and resources at it is not cost effective to Wyoming…a Little advertised fact: Wyo G&F actually LOSES money on every big game specie except Pronghorn. License revenues and excise taxes don;t even come close t paying for hunting. It’s the fishermen who pay the difference; in particular the nonresident tourist anglers buying those reams of temporary fishing licenses. It is honestly a misguided myth that hunting creates the revenue for state game management and stokes real conservation by public agencies. Even selling 50,000 wolf tags for $ 12 wouldn’t seem like enough placation.

    I just noted in the most current Wyoming wolf status report dated last Friday but posted today , that so far in 2010 only ONE cow has been reported lost to wolves statewide. One. And so far this year, Zero sheep. ( Oddly enough , 2 or 3 horses have been put down in the last couple weeks due to wolf incidents. That’s an anomaly, because in the past two years NO horses were lost to wolves in Wyoming).

    • jon says:

      You said it, wolves are protected from sport hunters, but not from ws and the sss snipers.

    • WM says:


      I understand WY is not a safe place for wolves for exactly the reasons you state, except the noted NP’s and maybe the WR Indian Res., which is where about a third of their estimated population resides, anyway.

      Would you agree with me, however, that in WY, they are less at risk as ESA listed and under the administrative management of FWS, than not listed?

      And, as listed, I understand the WY wolf program still receives its federal funds for participating in various parts of the co-op program including monitoring and preparing their annual reports, other submissions, etc.

      So, for WY (if they remain listed), it really makes no practical difference what happens in MT and ID, and it is better for the wolves in WY. That is what I find so incredibly nonsensical in the plaintiffs’ argument about not being able to delist a part of a DPS for administrative management purposes.

      Maybe this was one of those unforseeable areas of the ESA that needs statutory change.

    • WM says:


      ++You said it, wolves are protected from sport hunters, but not from ws and the sss snipers.++

      No place in the US are wolves protected from WS and 3S – NRM (and dispersing areas), Great Lakes, Mexican wolf DPS…..anywhere they are perceived to be a problem, or are unwanted. Three S will always be done and few people will know about how much damage they do (including this newly advocated poisoning angle). Even WS will be around as long as there are client missions to fulfill, notwithstanding the desires of some of us that they go away.

    • JB says:


      I would argue that listing provides state agencies the political cover they need to manage for sustainable populations. Ken–on another thread–asserted that sans federal listing (and oversight) you can bet that the state legislatures of Idaho (and perhaps Montana) will pass legislation lowering wolf populations to the legal lower limit. I agree with him. Keeping the species listed means (a) the federal government pays for wolf management, (b) states still effectively manage wolves via requests to the feds for control actions, and (c) wildlife managers don’t get caught in a political battle that is impossible to win (as Idaho finds itself in right now).

      That’s the practical argument, anyway. The legal argument is much more complicated, as you well know.

    • Elk275 says:

      A question for all lawyers on the forum.

      I read this in the Billings paper a few minutes ago

      ++Each side is asking Molloy to grant a summary judgment, which could end the court case before it goes to trial. Molloy said he will make a ruling “as quickly as I can.”++

      I know what a summary judgement is, but if summary judgement is not issued then would this case go to trial with a jury or a judge.

    • WM says:


      I agree with the reasons you set forth, but disagree with respect to the acceptance by the wildlife agencies – they still want to manage wolf populations in conjunction with population objectives for their other wildlife species over which they do have management control. As we have discussed before, since duly adopted planning documents linked to the management function are not enforceable (and we generally agree there is no way to make them so in a meaningful way) it would seem under your scenario states would/should never be managers. This, as I understand it, would be in contravention of the intent of the ESA, and contrary to the spirit of the North American model (especially if wolves are to be managed/hunted as a big game species as ID, MT, WY, WI, and maybe MN want to do (Don’t know about MI).

    • JB says:

      WM: Oh I don’t disagree that wildlife management agencies “want” (or claim to want) to manage wolves. The people in charge of the agencies (i.e. wildlife commissions/boards, agency directors) are essentially political appointees. It is in their best interest to “want” to manage wolves. Rather, I was arguing (or trying to anyway) that agencies would be better off with the political cover of the ESA. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m sure the commissioners would scream and yell about how unfair federal control is, but that serves the agency better than being caught in a politically intractable position.

      “…it would seem under your scenario states would/should never be managers.”

      Not at all. Actually, we have great data that suggest that familiarity breeds contempt, with respect to wolves. I *believe* that wolves have yet to be accepted as a normal part of the landscape in the western U.S.; however, places where wolves have been sustainably managed for more than a generation (i.e. most of Canada, Minnesota, Alaska) have relatively few problems with respect to wolves (yes, we can quibble over Alaska later). The point is, where wolf populations have been present and stable for 25+ years, they are present and sustainable today. Where wolves are new and still recovering (i.e. Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Michigan, Wisconsin) you have much more contentious debates.

      – – –

      RE: the NA Model…

      The NA Model was put into place largely because market and subsistence hunting along with deforestation and other types of large-scale habitat alteration were devastating wildlife populations, and causing numerous extinctions. The point of the model was to conserve wildlife resources in the face of impending over-exploitation. I don’t see the protection of wolves as inconsistent with the NA Model at all.

    • WM says:

      RE: the NA model

      I was suggesting (from your earliest comment on the 3 reasons) you were advocating a larger role for the federal government, one which, as we know, creates tension in nearly every state where issues like this arise. Things are not all peaches and cream in MN, as some believe. There is tension, and their current delisting petition, after nearly 10 years of trying to get their wolves completely off the ESA is clear evidence of this.

      And, even in these times of tight dollars, there is enough motivation that some states are not persuaded to remain in the current inferior co-op role by the carrot of continued federal funds for their participation.

    • JB says:


      I think the “tension” in MN is pretty minimal. I know a lot of the people there and I’ve never heard nor sensed anything that suggests they are itching to be in charge of wolf management. Frankly, I can’t think of a reason the on-the-ground biologists would want to manage wolves. They are a political hot potato, can be costly (because of the contentiousness), and the last time I heard, MN was trying to reduce the size of its deer herd.

      I think the calls to manage wolves emanating from MN are mostly from political elites who see some advantage in the position. Keep in mind that Minnesota has a Republican governor who will likely be a candidate in the 2012 presidential primary.

    • WM says:


      I don’t know who you talk to, but it looks like most the appointed folks in MN DNR and Ag. Dept. who mean anything to the wildlife and livestock interests are rock solid behind it. I couldn’t get a link to the MN petition, which I have seen and carefully read about two months ago. I also spoke to DNR staff, who seemed quite anxious to have FWS act. Maybe you just talked to different people than I did. From the 3/17/10 news release:

      ” Since 1978, federal officials have trapped and euthanized more than 3,000 Minnesota wolves in response to depredation of domestic animals. Most of these incidents have involved cattle in the forested regions of central and northern Minnesota, and the problem seems to be growing.”


      I think the FWS 90 day reveiw and response period is up in a couple of days. It will be interesting to see what they say. MI and WI petitions are on the heels of this one, about six weeks behind.

    • JB says:

      “…but it looks like most the appointed folks in MN DNR and Ag. Dept. who mean anything to the wildlife and livestock interests are rock solid behind it.”

      That sounds about right. But you can’t assume that because the agricultural community and a few political appointees are making noise that anything is changing/has changed with respect to wolves in Minnesota. Asserting that “things are not all peaches and cream” sends the message that public opinion in Minnesota is shifting. I don’t believe this is the case. Rather, agriculture sees delisting as eminent, and wants to get state control sooner rather than later. Which makes sense. The state is likely to be more responsive to their wishes.

      Regardless, as I’ve said before, I think wolves are doing great in Minnesota, and the state will have no problems managing its population. They should be delisted there. On the other hand, we will never again see another species that gets as much scrutiny as wolves. It behooves FWS to get this right, as wolves will provide the “template” for future delistings.

    • WM says:


      I won’t disagree that wolves are doing great in MN. We have talked around the reasons why, including some of the cultural and ecological differences that make it so, as compared to the NRM. And, for certain, FWS needs to get it right, providing a reuseable “template” to apply to future delistings. How long have they been trying, only to be met by wave after wave of legal hurdles over interpretation of the ESA, which are often esoteric legal arguments that the drafters of the law ….. did not contemplate at the time they drafted it.

      I have long been a staunch supporter of this law. It is so necessary to preservation of our environment, recovering lost ground, and providing direction for the future as our population expands, wolves included. But as things play out in the listing – delisting tug-o-war, it has become apparent that the flexibility necessary to make the law work for people and affected species needs to be tweaked. That it is painful to administer in its current state is not a bad thing – it should be a painful process – but at some point it seems, things have to give a bit. We may see that coming.

      Lawyers from both sides of a delisting issue are being asked tough legal questions for which there may be no easy answers, by ill-equipped judges searching for foundations upon which to make difficult decisions. And, scientists are being asked their own tough questions, as well, by a public and stakeholders, for input into a legal process with little patience, that begs for immediate and definitive answers.

      When I asked a question of the MN DNR representative questions about its new delisting petition, I was surprised by the answer. I said, you must be even more frustrated than the folks in the NRM who have trying to get their wolves delisted over the last three years or so. Well, we have been trying for ten years, and quite frankly, it is getting a little old. That then lead to a short discussion about whether the 5 year moratorium on hunting as agreed in their plan and assured in statute would be honored. The diplomatic response was, there are those in the legislature looking at this very issue.

      That was the basis for my, “its not all peaches and cream in MN” comment.

    • JB says:


      I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, though I worry that any “tweaking” will simply weaken protections for imperiled species/populations. On the other hand, creating more flexibility *could* led to less resistance to future listings, which would be good for the hundreds of species on the waiting list.

      I think it is important for people to understand the “big picture” here. No matter what happens in the short term with respect to wolves, the legal microscope pointed at FWS’ listing status decisions while either (a) pave the way for future delistings, or (b) identify flaws in the ESA and/or FWS policy (i.e. DPS policy) that need to be modified. Either way, I see these suits as beneficial over the long term.

    • JB says:


      Sorry I missed your question. This suit was brought under the Administrative Procedures Act ( The APA essentially allows for judicial review of the actions of federal agencies. A court can set aside an agency action if they conclude the action is “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” That is what Molloy will decide.

      The short answer to your question: These cases are always heard by federal judges.

  20. Nancy says:

    Save bears Says:
    June 15, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    Because they have a different perspective and opinion on this issue, that is not hard to understand, the people in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, simply live a different life than you do and have a different feeling on this subject..

    I would have thought after so long of discussing this, you would have understood that?

    You are generalizing here SB, I’ve been here in Montana for close to 20 years and I still don’t understand this tit for tat sh-t that’s going on right now regarding wolves and wildlife. Hunters want the opportunity to kill wildlife, ranchers raise livestock to kill and want little interference from most wildlife while doing that.

    Would the “playing field” be alittle more level if people who just enjoyed the simple act of watching wildlife in what’s left of their natural habitat, also paid? I have no problem with that. Afterall, many of us now chip in when it comes to their demise (because WS is responsible for the death of wildlife that number in the millions when it comes to management)

    • Save bears says:


      I have only owned my house in Montana for about 20 years now, but I do have a little different perspective on things as my wife’s family homesteaded in Montana in 1877, so have a good perspective on how people feel, does that mean I agree…nope, does it mean I understand, Yes..

      Based on my experience the tit for tat shit is going to continue for a long time to come, both sides of this issue are dug in and neither side is going to give in, I am sorry, if the reality of the situation, does not settle well with you, but the people in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho don’t like wolves and they feel like they have not been told the truth..that is not to say I feel that way, but the people do feel that way, the ones that pay attention to this subject..

      I know it does not settle well with many, but wildlife in this area, is a commodity and there are many who feel their rights are being infringed upon, I have no say, either way, I just have understanding of both sides

      It is going to take a long time, before this attitude is changed, plain and simple, people here feel they were the red headed step child for close to 100 years, and now, they don’t want the interference from those who sluffed them off for so long..

      If you or I don’t like it, I am sorry, that is the way it is, your never going to force it down their throats, they will rebel at a much larger level than is already going on..and I can tell you a hell of a lot of wolves are going to die, which is a shame..

    • Save bears says:

      What is sad, and scary, is many people in MT, WY and ID for the most part don’t even know why they hate wolves, they just know they do, when you have hate with no understanding, you have a very scary situation..and right now that is what is going on…

    • Angela says:

      “…many people in MT, WY and ID for the most part don’t even know why they hate wolves, they just know they do.”

      In other words, they are just like sheep!

    • Save bears says:


      Does it matter if they are like sheep, it does not change it..

      I don’t hate wolves, I don’t love wolves, but I understand both side of this issue, you can call either side what you want, but it does not change a darn thing!

    • ProWolf in WY says:

      I agree with Angela that a lot of the people who hate wolves are sheep. They start out at protests holding signs because Mommy and Daddy have them there and won’t let them think for themselves. As Save bears said, this is a very dangerous situation.

    • Save bears says:

      I am really hoping with all of my heart, that no one gets hurt before this is over with, this is a far bigger issue than just wolves, I am almost thinking it is one of the first vollies in the front lines of a civil war over state control and federal control

    • ProWolf in WY says:

      Save bears, I think you could be right.

    • Save bears says:


      Last time I checked, every state had a lawsuit against the feds over control on various issues, be it health care or gun rights, I spent a long time in the military, and believe me, the last few years are deteriorating quickly and I for one am not happy about it at all, nobody on either side of an issue seems to discuss issues anymore, they all dig in and that is the way it is.

      The last time this happened was 1861 and we know how that turned out, and I swear to god, I hope I am wrong!

    • Angela says:

      SB, actually I was trying to make a joke. Sheep hate wolves, get it?

  21. JB says:

    “…but the people in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho don’t like wolves and they feel like they have not been told the truth…”

    Not trying to nitpick here, but it would be more accurate to say that some people in MT, WY, and ID hate wolves, and they have been yelling very loudly for a long time. Most people are pretty practical when it comes to wolves. But, if you manage for what the “average” person wanted–the person who doesn’t really care about wolves or wildlife, you end up enraging both sides of the issue (as Mark G. pointed out on a different thread).

    • Save bears says:

      If your not trying to nitpick, then don’t JB..I can honestly say, I have not run into a person, in these three states in the last six months that has had a positive thing to say about wolves, I can honestly say, no matter how Molloy rules, shit is going to hit the fan…unfortunately..

    • JB says:


      I’ve heard this tune sung before. It’s a classic in the wildlife management genre: Science is great for understanding population dynamics–unless we’re talking about human populations. In that case, anecdotes work just fine.

      I’ve quoted this before, but it deserves another mention:

      “…while we collected data for this study the UDWR conducted a series of scoping meetings in order to involve Utah residents in the management process. They found 719 of 897 attendees (80%) identified ‘‘do not allow wolves in Utah’’ as one of their top 3 management priorities (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Publication #:05-17). However, our survey, which used probabilistic sampling and weighted data to accurately reflect
      regional population distributions, found over half of respondents agreed with the item ‘‘I would like to see wolves in Utah.’’ Moreover, results from the 1994 survey were statistically identical, suggesting public opinion on this issue has not wavered. The lesson is that managers often hear from their most vocal critics or those most involved in particular wildlife issues. It is easy to see how such experiences can color managers’ perspectives, resulting in a skewed perception of public opinion. Most wildlife professionals would object to relying on guesswork for complex, biological decisions regarding species conservation. Yet, when managers rely on anecdotal evidence or convenience samples to gauge public opinion, guesswork will result.”

      I am not surprised to hear that you have yet to encounter someone with something positive to say about wolves, especially considering that you live in a very rural area and hunt big game (two factors that are associated with negative attitudes in the West).

      – – – –

      If the proverbial “shit” hits the fan, as you assert, it will be held up as demonstration that the populations of MT, WY, and ID are incapable of rational, sustainable wolf management. Population reductions and illegal killing will only postpone delisting and bolster the claims of those who oppose state management.

      I hope for everyone’s sake that you are wrong.

    • Elk275 says:

      Shit has already hit the fan. The last I read was that the anti wolf people want to insert a congressional rider on a bill that would allow the states to manage their wolves regardless of the ESA. Both Reid and Baccus have the power to do this.

    • Save bears says:


      I hope I am wrong as well…we can look at history, we can look at facts, but when I ask people why they hate wolves and I don’t get an answer it just shows me, we have a far larger problem than we thought we did, you guys think logically, but what you don’t understand, hate is not logical, it is the most extreme form of illogical can come up with all the logical scientific based arguments you want, and it is not going to change peoples minds, this has been ingrained into this culture..

      We are only going to change it in the future..

      As far as state management, it will with this current generation, it is going to happen one way or another…and when people understand that, we will be that much farther along to solving this situation..

    • Elk275 says:


      I got a e mail several days ago from a rabid wolf hater that mentioned if this court case fails then they plan trying to get a rider on a congressional bill to allow the states management of all predators. There is the guns in the national parks which was attached to a credit card bill.

      I did not have time to read the e mail completely and the person who sent it to me I do not like.

  22. jon says:

    Elk, I doubt Reid or Baccus would care much about an issue like this. They have more important issues to worry about I’m sure. This is my own personal opinion.

    • Save bears says:

      Why, their predecessors didn’t, I know, because I worked very hard on one of those campaigns to get rid of one of them.., this issue is actually quite important in the halls of congress in Washington DC..

      Senator Conrad Burns was very much against wolf re-introduction…as he was against Bison..

    • Elk275 says:

      Reid is in touble with his current campaign and Baccus would have a very difficult time if he had to defend his seat today. Baccus definitely cares.

  23. jon says:

    This comes from a farmer who lives in Montana and ACTUALLY supports wolves. I guess he was there in the courthouse today.

    On June 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm Marc Cooke Said:

    Nabeki, Your info is very accurate. I must say Doug Honnold and team came across very well and handled Judge Molloys questions nicely. Doug argued this on its merit! On the other hand I was not impressed with the attorney for Dept of Justice. I think his name was Mike Idle. He talked in circles when trying to answer Judge Molloys question. When he was finished I was dizzy and I am sure he was happy to sit down and shut up! I think Molloy grew tired of trying to get an answer from him. Montana’s attorney Bob Lane tried to convey or convince Judge Molloy rather then argue this re-listing on it merit. Idaho’s Attorney Steve Strack was up to speed and came across well. Unfortunately! However, please keep in mind that this is the same attorney that approximately 18 months ago told Judge Molloy in his courtroom that “Idaho Loves Wolves”. I am going to go out on a limb and say the wolves will be re-listed.

    • Save bears says:


      I am happy you found one, but believe me, they are few and far between…

    • jon says:

      I want to make it clear that this is only one man’s opinion and he was one of the people present in the courtroom today.

    • Webmaster note:

      I felt it was best to delete a lot of nasty personal back and forth for here on. It was irrelevant to the thread.

    • WM says:

      jon, Elk, SB,

      Just a guess on my part, but I am going out on a limb here on jon’s new quote buddy, Marc Cooke, rancher from Stevensville. A quick internet search shows him to be in his 50’s, and with several past east coast addresses. He has commented a couple of times on Nabeki’s site, and is apparently friends with Jerry Black, the articulate retired airline pilot who has been quoted on wolf issues.

      I will also venture to say, by the excellent and careful way Cooke writes, he has spent more time learning good grammar and composing it on the computer keyboard, than riding around in a pickup truck and hanging out at the local Stevensville coffee shop after checking out his spread to make sure the cattle are getting along with their new canine friends. In fact, the little quote jon found on the court proceedings today (apparently had the time to attend) was well composed, by a careful observer with good perception and analytical skills – not that a full time rancher with thirty years behind the tractor couldn’t do the same, but less likely.

      I am going to go with Elk’s sage assessment –
      Cooke is likely a hobby rancher, supplemental income, well educated, maybe a professional something, and possibly retired. Probably not to worried about the ranch making a profit, even if he is a good manager. Somebody prove me wrong.

    • jon says:

      WM, Marc Cooke is not my buddy as I do not know him. He is just one rancher that likes having wolves around. Yes, I would say the majority of ranchers do not particularly care for wolves, but there will always be that one rancher that does like them and prefers to have them around as marc Cooke has said. Some are trying to discredit him as not being a “real” rancher just because he has a much different opinion on wolves than your typical rancher. That is all I have to say about this.

    • WM says:


      I said “quote buddy.” Just like one of my quote buddies is Dr. David Mech, whom I have not met, but sure would like to. lol

  24. Save bears says:

    I am very familiar with Stevensville, my wife’s cousin lives just up the road from there in Florence and she has an uncle in Hamilton just down the road, believe me, you have found a quote from one of the rare ones in that area of the Bitterroot..!

    • jon says:

      I guess I did sb. lol

    • Save bears says:


      My wife has relatives all over the state of Montana, and believe me the holidays can be a very interesting time, if I have a few to many beers, I really try very hard to keep my mouth shut, I have cooked so many Turkey day dinners, so I would not be involved in the conversation, I should be a gourmet chef by now!

    • Save bears says:

      There are quite a few in that area showing up, enough that people are not happy at all..

  25. Si'vet says:

    So to keep from going into moderation or having your posts removed all you have to do if you don’t agree with someone, is call them a sheep and your ok. So if I repost and use sheep as derogatory term I’m good?

    • Si’vet,

      Your comment got removed because I was trying to save a thread that was getting too hostile. Yours wasn’t a problem except I thought “does it make sense to keep it when I have removed comments above that Si’vet is replying too?”

  26. ProWolf in WY says:


    Last time I checked, every state had a lawsuit against the feds over control on various issues, be it health care or gun rights, I spent a long time in the military, and believe me, the last few years are deteriorating quickly and I for one am not happy about it at all, nobody on either side of an issue seems to discuss issues anymore, they all dig in and that is the way it is.

    The last time this happened was 1861 and we know how that turned out, and I swear to god, I hope I am wrong!

    I agree, these times are so much more volatile now than in recent history. It will be interesting to see what will happen, and possibly scary. Arizona will be the state to watch.

  27. jon says:

    If anyone wants to see some pictures of the anti wolf protesters and their signs outside of the courthouse, check out


June 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