Idaho Fish and Game/Wildlife Services targets wolf and her 7 pups 8 months after last depredation.

Blue Bunch Pack near McCall and New Meadows hasn’t killed livestock since October and all other members have been killed

IDFG Director Cal Groen & Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter

It has been nearly 8 months since any member of southwest Idaho’s Blue Bunch Pack killed any livestock yet, on March, 16, members of the Blue Bunch Pack were killed by Wildlife Services under an order that has apparently extended to persist to this day.

As far as anyone knows there is only the collared alpha female tending 7 wolf pups in the mountains to the west of McCall, Idaho and the Idaho Fish and Game wants them dead. This, even though there is a standing policy memo in place which extends “the effective period for take orders by USDA Wildlife Services (WS) and kill permits (livestock owners) from 45 to 60 days following the most recent depredation incident” which, in this case, was October 2009. There have been no depredations since. The memo also authorizes “additional WS wolf removals and extended kill permits based on recurring incidents or chronic history of the wolf pack involved”.

It appears that this is how the IDFG plans on managing wolves into the foreseeable future. They plan on carrying out heavy handed control even long after any depredations on livestock have occurred. This means that any pack that has been deemed a chronically depredating pack will be killed even if they haven’t preyed on livestock for a long period of time.

Chuck Carpenter is the district supervisor for central Idaho for the U.S. Wildlife Services.
Chuck Carpenter is the district supervisor for central Idaho for the U.S. Wildlife Services.

Information obtained by a wolf advocate through a state records request presents the following information about what occurred in March of this year.

An email from Gregg Hansen, (WS) to (IDFG)

Subject: wolves killed south of New Meadows ID

On 3/16, a WS fixed-wing crew shot and killed 2 gray uncollared wolves from the Blue Bunch pack. This control action took place on private property. GPS coordinates are N 44. 54′ 41″ W 116. 12′ 38″ and N 44. 53′ 04″ W 116. 13′ 00″ Carcasses were not retrieved. 1 black and 2 gray wolves were also seen, but the crew members were not able to take them at this time.

A chart supplied from IDFG (or WS) in the data shows:

On March 16, two gray Bluebunch wolves were shot by WS on private property but under the word “order” it says: “Unauthorized Removal

On March 22, Cal Groen gave “Authorization to extend control action for 60 days for Blue Bunch”.

Both IDFG and WS have stonewalled any attempts by myself to get any information concerning this by claiming that since there is pending litigation they can’t talk about wolf issues. The wolf advocate was able to talk to Mark Collinge today who – when asked why there haven’t been any non-lethal, pro-active efforts to avoid this kind of conflict – responded that they have no money to conduct these kinds of operations. They certainly have money for planes and helicopters to gun wolves down but they also have funding, $70,000/year, “to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by wolves”. Are they going to use any of this money for what it was intended for?


  1. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    What it means is that Idaho will push the population in the state to ~500 by any and all means.

    1. jon Avatar

      Jeff E, I hear different #s being thrown around, but my personal belief is that they want to get down to 150 wolves in Idaho. If wolves get relisted, they are still not safe. Wildlife services will always be there to do Idaho fish and game’s dirty work. As it was said, They certainly have money for planes and helicopters to gun wolves down but they also have funding, $70,000/year, for “to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by wolves”. Are they going to use any of this money for what it was intended for?

    2. mikarooni Avatar

      I’m afraid that jon is probably correct. Personally, I don’t know; but, I’m not sure that it would be a problem if Idaho took the Idaho numbers down to ~500; if it was matched by at least 500 each in MT and WY, ~500 in ID might be enough for long-term sustainability. The miscreants in ID want to go to all the way to 150. It’s the 150 number that would clearly be below what is needed to sustain the success of the program, would put ID on the same path and using the same strategy that the anti-wolf scum in AZ/NM is using to declare the wolf reintroduction a failure, and I’m afraid that’s exactly why the scum in ID is so desperate to get the number down that low.

    3. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      it does not matter what other numbers you hear thrown around. ~500 is what is stated in the states management plan. has been for several years.
      As for other numbers; “should if’s and buts be candy and nuts oh what a halloween we would have”

    4. jon Avatar

      Mikaroonit, some say there are 1500 wolves in Idaho. I don’t know how accurate this is, but my personal opinion is that there are 1000 plus wolves in Idaho. If they want to get down to 500, you are looking at anywhere from 500 to 1000 dead wolves. I doubt this is so called “science based management”. We know Idaho’s true colors when it comes to wolves.

  2. Ken Cole Avatar

    One other point that should be made here is that it didn’t have to come to this. While I don’t support this heavy handed control, it appears that they had opportunities to kill the female before she had pups thus negating the need to kill them once they were only 2 months old. It seems they wanted to use her to locate other wolves that might join her after they killed all of the others, kind of a slash and burn operation to assure the ranchers that they got them all and any other wolves that could possibly gain a foothold in the area.

    The other thing that really surprises me is that they are even considering this just days before the delisting hearing. It probably won’t make much difference now but it might.

    This goes to show that the IDFG can just make things up as they go without making any effort to try non-lethal methods. And, yes Jeff, they are well on their way to reducing the population to 500 by any means.

    I wonder how many other packs are facing this kind of ridiculous management. I heard that the “killer bee” plane was flying last week near Salmon again.

  3. Valerie Bittner Avatar
    Valerie Bittner


    Re: Molloy’s hearing, for those who do are not registered with the federal court PACER system.

    Do you have the technical capability to provide a link on this site to all of the filed briefs, including intervenor pleadings?

    If you do thanks much in advance.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I don’t have access to PACER so I don’t have the briefs. Is there a way that you can send them? I can post the documents to this site if you can.

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Politically favored actors’ will trumps department policy

    This action demonstrates the department’s abandonment of any adherence to its pretense of a rational policy with respect to “control” actions in the state of Idaho.

    the action demonstrates the extent to which IDFG has been captured by industry ~ Livestock ~ and is doing Livestock’s bidding as a matter of political favoritism, rather than rational policy, in spite of the public interest and the promises/responsibility that IDFG has to the public.

    If Cal Groen, IDFG Director – political actor/animal, can shake the hand of a powerful rancher and use his political position/discretion to single-handedly direct the WS gun-ships in such a way that trumps even the thinly veiled pretense of restraint embodied by department policy concerning wolf “control” actions ~ what does that say about the effectiveness of state regulatory mechanisms to ensure wolves’ viability in the state of Idaho post-ESA protection ?

    The state is not capable of managing wolves in a manner that gives due-regard, let alone legally adequate protections, to wolf-recovery.

    IDFG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Livestock in the state of Idaho.

  5. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Saying that they are bold and arrogant with the Malloy decision iminent is an understatement. I agree that the state of Idaho is incapable of managing wolves.

    1. WM Avatar


      Judge Molloy’s decision will be based on legal interpretation of the ESA, and how the FWS is administering its responsibilities under the law. I will offer that I don’t think they are flaunting anything.

      It is more likely ID is hedging its bet that wolves are relisted and doing what they can to practically control numbers before that happens. Bold actions, carried out within the parameters of their now in effect wolf management plan, while they still have management responsibilities, should be expected.

      The real question that should be asked is if wolves were relisted, would FWS have made the same decision to ask for WS services for that particular mission, outside the timeframe from a last depredation incident to a control action? Just a guess, but I bet they would.

      As for the after-the-fact ratification of the WS mission to take out these specific wolves, from an administrative standpoint doesn’t seem like a big deal. Weren’t these wolves killed on private land? And, of course, we don’t know what behavior might have preceded this, and that would be most interesting to know.

      What I found interesting is that the location where the 2 Bluebunch wolves were shot, about 6 miles due west of McCAll (according to the GPS coordinates in Ken’s information), is outside, or the very edge of their northernmost recorded range as shown in the last annual wolf report submitted to FWS.

    2. WM Avatar

      correction, first paragraph:

      I will offer that I don’t think IDAHO IS flaunting anything.

    3. Brian Ertz Avatar

      the problem with WM’s analysis here is that the FWS management is likewise informed by a perverted provision of the 10(j) as amended under the Bush administration —

      that 10(j) amendment, which might or might not allow for the same or similar aggressive “controls” ought NOT be used as a baseline by which to evaluate the just administration of law as applied by IDFG… the new 10(j) is under litigation as well.

      Currently, that litigation is moot – given delisting, but if wolves are relisted, it won’t be moot and we’ll be pushing to resume the 10(j) rule litigation as well.

  6. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Being honest with you, based on the population estimates, I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be disappointed..

  7. Cris Waller Avatar

    What is the story behind the photo of Cal Groen and Butch Otter? What was going on? What does the caption below the picture in the frame say?

    1. Brian Ertz Avatar

      I photoshopped that in 🙂

    2. WM Avatar

      So Brian,

      Do we have a bit of politicial disinformation of our own growing here? Doctored photos, sarcastically funny as they are, do not tend to add to credibility to the blog. Some might view it as a sign of immaturity.

    3. Brian Ertz Avatar

      ahh … WM ~ 🙁 sorry about that !

  8. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Population is one important factor to consider with respect to wolf “management”. There are many values managers must balance.

    Many wolf advocates and public value the animal welfare aspect. Decisions like these demonstrate that there is no consideration/room for even a modest respect for such public concern – it’s wanton disrespect.

    Others put weight behing wolves’ ecological contribution – which certainly entails population, but also necessitates an ecologically meaningful distribution. Again, this decision spites such publicly held value to pander to a narrow special interest with inordinate/disproportionate political privelege.

    For a long time we’ve been given the bill of goods that “management” will be in response to public concern, and policies which establish a timeframe for retribution have suggested that there may be some rational basis/restraint – that’s publicly & scientifically informed, whether one agrees with the “line” or not, that guides decision-making, thus there are limits.

    We now learn that the policies guiding wolf management in Idaho are mere charades ~ that Cal Groen can unilaterally trump any pretense of publicly informed policy, and take lethal action against pups who had no part in depredation, simply to pass a political favor to a powerful rancher who snaps his finger.

    That framework/process is corrupt, innappropriate, irresponsible, and demonstrative of a broken system of management that is incapable of being justly responsive to the public.

  9. Nancy Avatar

    Thank you Brian for putting the situation into words, that express what many of us are feeling.

    Seeing those two, appointed and elected “officials” of the government, holding up that picture of the dead wolf, seems in my mind, a pretty sick and sad way of communicating their frustrations when it comes to any sort of wildlife management.

  10. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I’ve been on vacation for a while, so have missed out on a bit. It seems to me that if the wolves haven’t killed anything then why should the be shot? Am I missing something here? I also think that picture of the governor and fish and game director is pretty disgusting.

    1. WM Avatar


      That photo is part of Brian’s own personal mis-information campaign. He claims to have done some creative photoshop edits. It is having his desired effect.

  11. Nancy Avatar

    “It is having his desired effect”

    In what way WM?

  12. Mike Avatar

    Really expensive gas is the solution to all these problems. I’m convinced of that. The single best thing for wolves and wildlife would be $20 a gallon gas.

    1. JB Avatar


      That is not a politically viable alternative. Really expensive gas = really expensive food (at least in the short term).

    2. Mike Avatar

      JB –

      It would focus everytone on locally grown produce, another benefit. While I woul find it painful to fill up the tank and visit my favorite places, at least I know wildlife would be much better off from it.

    3. WM Avatar


      Indeed $20 gas would do all the things you say, which are generally good things.

      HOWEVER, do you have any idea of how much of what we consume is directly or indirectly affected by the price of petroleum and its products. Just say the words “plastic” or “vinyl” or “nylon” and all the other things we use every day that are made from petroleum?

      The cost of your photo gear would double, any outdoor clothing products made of nylon, and the computer or printer you use every day, would skyrocket. Oranges and other perishable fruits are shipped by road, so trucking costs would increase substantially, and while desireable rail transport of goods would take semis off the road. If you special ordered a washing machine from Sears it would take a month to get it.

      And, until mass transportation caught up, nobody would be able to go to a national park except the rich. Lots of recreation businesses would cease to exist.

      Yeah Mike, you thought that one through.

      SB’s right. You do think differently.

      Trips to the West to visit

    4. Cobra Avatar

      With 20.00 a gallon gas your likely to see a lot more poaching also. Get a clue.

  13. Mike Avatar

    To expand:

    1. Less 4×4’s in the woods reaching far back into wolf habitat
    2. Mass reduction of ATV’s and snowmobiles
    3. Using helicopters to locate and attack wolves would be impossibly expensive.

    1. Elk275 Avatar


      Think like that and no one will ever take you serious: no one does now anyway. There are more important things than wildlife in this country. The average person at the mall, downtown or the city swimming pool really does not care enough about wildlife, if to save it, gas will cost $20 a gallon.

    2. Mike Avatar

      Elk –

      $10-20 a gallon gas is not far off. Also, this is a *wildlife* blog.

  14. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
    Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

    All –
    WM and Brian provided the best concise summary of the key issues of the wolf management debate that I’ve seen yet on this blog. There are two key issues:
    1) ESA requirements for a listed or delisted status of the NRMR wolf population. Judge Malloy will hear arguments on that issue on Tuesday. Does the NRMR wolf population meet the standards set by the ESA for a delisted status and doe other legal issues require relisting of the population?
    2) While delisted, does Idaho wolf management adequately meet the respibilities of the state to steward the public wolf resource in a manner that satifies the public trust responsibilities of the state for the Idaho public?

    Brian and others argue that Idaho and other states demonstrate that they are not capable of managing apex predators for a variety of reasons and that current management by Idaho and Montana substantiate that argument. My assessment, and it’s only mine, is that those arguments are based on the dissatisfaction with current management policies and programs because they don’t conform to the personal and philosophical preferences of a significant portion of the American public. The issue is very little based on the technical, scientific ESA criteria for delisting and almost entirely on the unavoidable social conflicts that a passionate public resource management issue like this brings to the table.
    Responding to an important point Brian makes about consideration of the desires of wolf advocates by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Idaho Fish and Game Department and state government in general, I have to repeat I’ve made several times in previous discussions with JB. Some in the wolf advocacy (forgive my presumption, I don’t have a better term right now, but dislike broad generalizations) are joined by some in the polar opposite public arena (wolf opponents?) in their frustration with not getting what they want from Idaho wolf management policy and actions. It is not that anyone is not heard, listened to or that their desires have not been considered. It is very much about this issue being a contentious, polarized public resource and policy issue with passionate, disparate demands and desires. The old axiom that the best way to know if you are doing a good job in the public policy arena is to know that you have made everyone equally unhappy is again relevant here – in a darkly humerous way.

    1. jburnham Avatar

      Mark, you may have a point that just because policy doesn’t reflect a group’s desires, that doesn’t mean that group hasn’t been listened to. But why not give us some insight into this specific case?

      I was hoping your comment would address the issues that Ken raised in this post. Why the control action after 8 months of no livestock depredation? Can we expect the same for all packs with a “chronic history”, even in the absence of livestock predation? Has Idaho given up on proactive, non-lethal measures?

    2. Brian Ertz Avatar


      I think you give a fair assessment of some of the dissatisfaction with policy that wolf wildlife-advocates have with state management. I don’t think that everyone being pissed off legitimizes the departments approach.

      What’s so troubling about this incident is that it constitutes a divergence from that very policy ~ on behalf of a politically privileged rancher. Cal Groen ought not be able to sideline policy when it behooves him politically, as was the case here. That’s a breakdown of objectivity/political-insulation that undermines any perception of legitimacy, let alone the ‘adequacy’ of the regulatory mechanisms with respect to the delisting rule.

    3. ProWolf in WY Avatar
      ProWolf in WY

      Mark, I have to agree with what jburnham says. If a pack is killed eight months after depredation incidences, then that sets a dangerous precedence. How then is “chronic depredation” defined? I don’t think that eight months later fits most people’s definitions of that.
      I response to what you said about making everyone equally unhappy I have to disagree. This issue is so polarized I think you will make one group or the other very happy or somewhat happy, but the other will be very unhappy.

    4. Angela Avatar

      Curious–are there any other carnivores that are controlled by killing a female and her young, even after a livestock depredation? That may be acceptable to the extreme anti-wolf side, but I do not think it would be acceptable to most people.

    5. Ken Cole Avatar

      Mark, a full accounting of this needs to take place. What the hell is really going on here? What is the history, when and where were wolves killed, was there authorization, was there a special deal? Why are you speaking on this when you don’t know a damned thing about what is happening in this situation?

      IDFG and WS certainly set up bad situations for themselves by not answering questions and hiding behind their lawyers. If you want a pissed off public then keep anything and everything secret, it builds trust. We want to know how you are managing wolves and it is ridiculous to keep it all a secret.

      Live with it, people – pro, anti, and middle of the road – think of wolves differently than other wildlife. No matter how hard you try to depersonalize this issue and portray this issue by saying “we want to manage wolves the same way that we manage bears and lions” it is obvious that you aren’t. There is a political bias by the department against wolves and there is no reason, if you are fortunate enough to win this suit and delisting occurs, that the legislature won’t intervene and force the department to manage for 150 wolves statewide. I guarantee you that it will happen, and the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is precisely because of the lawsuit. Legislators are saying as much.

    6. JB Avatar


      My point was never that IDF&G should give wolf/wildlife advocates their way. Rather, the point I was trying to make was that dismissing all of their concerns was a surefire way to make these groups even more angry. Again, I think much of this hassle could have been avoided had IDF&G shown more restraint in their wolf management in likely corridors and granted wolves a very high degree of protection in at least one area.

      Hitting the “middle” between wolf/wildlife advocates and their opponents should not be the goal of IDF&G, nor should pleasing as many people as possible. The public trust doctrine was put in place (in part) to prevent the types of extinctions that were common place during the late 1800s and early 1900s–it was a recognition that someone needed to regulate the “harvest” of wildlife resources or their would be no resources to harvest.

      State agencies first obligation is to ensure wildlife resources are managed sustainably, and then to worry about what their constituents think. While I suspect you don’t believe it, I am quite sympathetic to IDF&G’s position.

  15. Valerie Bittner Avatar
    Valerie Bittner


    If there are decentralized “control” decisions (re: the infamous Groen memo of several months ago) how are you and the other Regional Supervisors to comply with the tri-state Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on maintaining genetic connectivity and diversity — a document which the federal court relied on in granting the government’s request to vacate the delisting rule as it was in the fall of 2008.

    I hope that you will respond this time.

  16. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Even though WS may have killed the other pack members on private lands in Oct, I’d bet it’s depredation of cattle grazing on public lands that underlies this action.

    A bunch of politically powerful ranchers, including a Washington County Commissioner, graze their cattle on 2 big FS allotments in the mountains between Long Valley and Council. These are the Council Mtn and Indian Mtn allotments, which have way too many cows for way too long (roughly 1,000 cow/calf pairs from June to Oct).

    They are mainly dry, high elevation, fragile environments, and way overgrazed, in my opinion. Should be capable of sustaining good sized elk herds to allow for wolf prey, but the cattle are eating most of the desirable forage.

    These permittees whine constantly about their cattle getting eaten on these allotments, and the Blue Bunch Pack has been the pack known to be in the area. Of course, their cattle (including calves) mostly roam unattended, vulnerable to predators. Not only is this untended cattle roaming a problem for attracting wolves, there is also highly valuable bull trout fish population that is barely hanging on, which cattle grazing directly conflicts with.

    These allotments are is a constant headache for the FS to “manage,” and I wish they had the backbone to cut back the grazing to more ecologically-correct levels (should be none, but certainly a lot fewer AUMs at the least).

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Therein lies the impetus for the timing of this entire fiasco. The cattle are about to be turned out. By killing all of the other members of the pack they have made it even more likely that the female will have to take easier prey so that she can feed her pups.

    2. mikarooni Avatar

      …and so we’re back to the core problem with removing wolves without educated consideration of the species’ social structure. If you remove the leadership of a pack whether by hunters or wildlife agency personnel, the ability of the remaining animals to operate in a natural mode, taking wildlife prey, is damaged and the likelihood of livestock depredation actually increases.

    3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Excuse my cynicism, but I think they see livestock losses as a great opportunity for a joy ride and shoot, not a loss at all.

    4. spanglelakes Avatar

      Right on, Ralph. I’ve seen it over and over. WS isn’t doing anything (with one exception – the Wood River Project) to encourage ranchers to be proactive when it comes to keeping livestock and wolves apart. Sometimes sick or injured animals are left out in hopes the wolves will come, so either WS will show up with their traps, their airplane, their helicopter. Plus, the trigger happy rancher or his range rider, will have a chance to use his shoot on sight permit(s), bestowed by IDFG.

    5. mikarooni Avatar

      YES! Ralph and spangle have hit a very important point that matches my experience with the rural studs perfectly and I should have recognized it and pointed it out myself before.

      I acquired several grazed out ranches, to restore and because I like to have a place to wander, and I keep some cattle to maintain control over grazing leases and keep my property taxes affordable. So, I deal with the ranching community on a routine basis. They’re not all the devil; but, they also aren’t nearly as hard working, overworked, educated, or even “range wise” as the hype would indicate. What they definitely are is 1) caught up in their own cowboy delusions, about themselves and the world they live in; and 2) bored. They work hard, but in spurts, and actually have a lot of boring time on their hands, which is why they so frequently turn to alcohol, meth, their neighbors’ wives, and “thrill sports” of any kind. With limited education and outlook, they don’t have much capability to set their sights on higher objectives.

      So, they default to cravings for anything that provides a “rush” or spike in adrenaline, including drugs, guns, fireworks, motorcycles, ATVs, rodeo, etc. Being able to claim that they are defending their home and family while really having “a great opportunity for a joy ride and shoot” fits perfectly with both their delusions and their cravings!

  17. spanglelakes Avatar

    IDFG doesn’t care which wolves are killed, pups or what, or how the wolf-killing Wildlife Services goes about it. IDFG Director Cal Groen made this clear in his Feb 10 2010 Edict against Wolves. Waiting until the seven Blue Bunch pups were nearly two months old, is how IDFG, WS and ranchers send a message to wolf supporters, that wolves are vermin and are going to be treated as such.

    Salmon Region IDFG Supervisor Jim Lukens issued a kill order for some of the Baldy Mountain Pack south of Salmon and gave ok for the rancher to kill any wolf he saw. So a month ago, the rancher shoots the lactating female who was caught in a WS trap, leaving her pups to starve. I emailed Lukens and asked if her starved pups would count toward IDFG’s 2010 wolf mortality. He hasn’t responded.

    Things aren’t any better in the Jerome IDFG region, where Supervisor Jerome Hansen told the WS gestapo to kill three Little Wood Pack members have two unattended rams were killed at night near Carey. So, WS gets in their Killer Bee yellow plane, and goes out and shoots two wolves inc the only collared wolf, B230 in the pack. WS claims she wasn’t lactating. I asked IDFG if they examined the wolf. They had not. Everything is left up to WS. Now WS (who doesn’t have any money for non-lethal they claim) is going to trap and collar another wolf(s) so they have a Judas wolf for their next air gunning frenzy.

    1. jon Avatar

      These hunts and with ws are doing are barbaric. Do any of these scumbags care about at all about upsetting pack social structure and if you kill the alpha male and the female, it is a certain death for the pups. Idaho fish and game have showed they are not capable of managing predators like wolves. Put them back on the endangered species list where they belong. WS are like nazis to me, they are given an order to kill wolves and they do it without thought. Just like jews. wolves are being persecuted and they are being killed just for what they are, much like the jews. The same mindset and attitude that the nazis had against jews, is the same mindset and attitude that the wolf haters have against wolves.

      None of the Nazi/holocaust language here please – admin

    2. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I understand your feelings, but I think we trod down a very slippery slope when we compare the killing of wolves to the holocaust…I have been at meetings when this very topic comparison was made by pro wolf advocates and it nearly resulted in blows coming to pass between people in which law enforcement had to be called to keep the peace.

      After the fact, all it did was drive a deeper wedge between the groups..

    3. spanglelakes Avatar

      Jon – IDFG gives the orders for the kills. It used to be that WS had to pressure IDFG to kill wolves, but this has changed and IDFG is now enthusiastically giving the kill orders (according to data collected in 2009-2010 state public records requests). Cal Groen is in charge, but he is obeying the wishes of his bosses – the IDFG Commissioners – who have no use for wolves, or any predator, except as targets.

      Supposedly, the Regional Supervisor ultimately makes the call for lethal control. But with the Blue Bunch Pack – it was Cal Groen. He apparently made an agreement with the ranchers that there would be no wolves in their area, period. That’s not in writing, because either IDFG is now getting rid of any emails or memos that they don’t want the public to see, or in the case of Jim Lukens, he has made it clear that nothing will go in writing, period. Use the phone. No Phone records are kept. So, you have to use the spy network, the coffee shops and barbershops, the morning dog walkers and chats in the Post Office.

    4. jon Avatar

      I don’t believe so sb. Wolves are being killed for what they are just like the jews. Out of all the predators you can think of in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, it is wolves who are hated the most and talked about the most and despises the most. Do not kid yourself, the wolf haters would love to see wolves extirpated.

    5. jon Avatar

      Ok, sorry about that Ken/Ralph.

    6. Ken Cole Avatar

      Let me explain a little more about the resistance to the Nazi/Hitler/Holocaust language. There are many people who feel, and I am one of them, that by comparing an action/person to that language trivializes what actually happened in WWII, they find it offensive. It also is used as a crutch by those who want to trump all other arguments that they disagree with and stop discussion. You see it everywhere nowadays.

      As Godwin’s Law points out: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.”

      I think people can get their points across much more creatively without resorting to these types of comparisons.

    7. WM Avatar


      ++That’s not in writing, because either IDFG is now getting rid of any emails or memos that they don’t want the public to see, or in the case of Jim Lukens, he has made it clear that nothing will go in writing, period. Use the phone.++

      Do you really believe the first part of your statement to be true? That would leave the State open to fraud and spoliation of evidence (possible criminal conduct attibuted to those doing it).

      As for going forward with control activites that are not documented, it would seem that would also leave those doing it open to some pretty serious charges, especially during this listing-delisting-listing-delisting seesaw and the present (and no doubt future) litigation that involves all the different state and federal defendants.

      I am pretty much a believer that much mis-information is the result of coffee shop, barber shop, and dog walker gossip. Ever play the circle game with a dozen people, one of which starts out with a simple story, and sees how it has been contorted when it comes back around to where it started.

      I have no way of knowing, but would strongly suspect the paperwork is still produced, although the contents are more carefully prepared, and there may be less of it.

    8. spanglelakes Avatar

      WM – I make regular requests – every few weeks to few months with IDFG re wolf management. When one asks through the public records request for every document related to Idaho wolf management, and only a few pages, or none at all are sent regarding correspondence between IDFG and the IDFG commissioners, IOGA/outfitters, trappers, Tribe or ranchers – what would you call it? Sloppy record keeping?

      I ask for data on a regular basis so that IDFG might better be able to find and send the requested items. Who is going to give IDFG a hard time – the AG attorneys who work in the IDFG office in Boise?

    9. WM Avatar


      Maybe you would want to talk to one of the plaintiff parties in the current suits before Judge Molloy, because I will give you odds they have a continuing Discovery request for all documents, logs, memos, etc. produced under the ID wolf management plan is it goes forward. You might want to compare what you have recieved as compared to what they have.

      It may be the folks answering your FOIA requests are short-changing you, and if they are they should be spanked. If it were me, I would ask for the same stuff the plaintiffs are getting, and do it in writing, sent certified return receipt. See if that gives you a little more to read and check up on.

    10. WM Avatar


      Sorry, forgot to mention, and forgive me if you already know this, and are making very detailed requests. It occurred to me, you might want to be very specific, and have the proper all inclusive descriptive terms for what you request. Unless you specifically ask for it all, you may not get it, so you might want to discuss that with one of the plaintiffs in the litigation and ask for the exact legal wording they use regarding what is called a Request for Production, relative to these electronic and paper documents.

    11. spanglelakes Avatar

      WM – I have been part of many environmental lawsuits on many issues, although not a plaintiff on the current ones re. wolves. The request forms to agencies being submitted, either FOIA or State Requests, cover all the necessary points.

  18. spanglelakes Avatar

    Clarification – last paragraph, 3rd line – should read AFTER two unattended rams were killed … . Sorry.

  19. spanglelakes Avatar

    Important detail on WS killing only collared wolf in Little Wood Pack a few weeks ago – this wolf was wearing an ORANGE collar. WS is putting ORANGE collars on wolves they trap so in their aerial warfare, they can avoid shooting the collared wolf(s).

    When WS caught trapped B320 last July south of Bell Mountain, the trapper(s) reported she was a subadult female, with ear tags at time of capture but no collar. In response to this, IDFG wolf Biologist Jason Husseman, Salmon, emailed to WS, that this wolf had been caught as a subadult in May 2005, as a Timberline Pack member.(All this information is documented through state public records requests.)

    Point being – WS is so incompetent, that they don’t know a subadult wolf from a four year old.

  20. Ken Cole Avatar

    I think the article that I just posted kind of gets at why conservationists are so pissed about how wildlife is managed these days. It is too myopic.

    The Ethics of Killing Large Carnivores

  21. Valerie Bittner Avatar
    Valerie Bittner


    Re: access to the PACER system (pleadings filed with the federal system).

    As I am on a long-term writing sabbatical I currently do not have access to the system.

    Could you contact Advocates for the West and ask for their assistance re: providing a link on this site to all pleadings filed. I personally am particularly interested in the briefings of the intervenors.

    Thanks in advance for whatever assistance you might be able to provide.

  22. Mike Avatar

    We talk an awful lot about tactics and what to do, but it seems like the *mentality* never changes.

    The fundamental problem is a lack of respect for living things. As conservationists, we need not only to look at the fine print of lof legal issues, but the overall larger social structure which supports and fosters this backwards way of thinking. The legal system is the band aid we keep slapping on the severed leg. How do we address the larger issue?

    What is the psychological makeup of the people who feel that predators are not worthy of living? Once we establish that, how do we enlighten individuals?

    How do you convince a person who sees no problem with shooting wolves form a helicopter that what he/she is doing is wrong? I don’t think you can. And I don’t think you can stop an embedded mindset in a state’s political system either. But you can educate their children to be better people. I think this comes about by field trips to nature areas at young ages. By expressing that all life has value, I think we move beyond this arrogant cowboy mentality. I also firmly believe that guns cheapen life. Now, before Cult Gun gets all worked up, of course not everyone who owns guns thinks this way. But guns make it easy. They make the act of killing easy. You don’t get scratched, you don’t get bit, and you can kill something without feeling the breath of it on your body.

    Many people here may not like to hear it, but telling millions of young kids that it’s ok to shoot stuff ABSOLUTELY fosters people who think shooting wolves from helicopters is ok.

    The problem is ingrained into a social structure which devalues wild animals, cheapens life through gun worship with a sprinkling of hate rhetoric at the dinner table. These are the things that breed the helicopter shooters and the poisoners. Until we reach these kids at the core level, this line of thinking will continue to dominate the west.

    We need better schools, classes about tolerance and fairness, classes that teach about valuing all life and field trips to some of these wild places so kids can see prairie dogs as prairie dogs and not “varmints that need to be shot” or wolves being wolves rather than some shaggy thing to chase with your ATV.

    It’s a culture problem. As much as I appreciate all the legal maneuvering, nothing will change until we address the core issue.

    1. spanglelakes Avatar

      Mike- AMEN.

    2. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      Mike you do realize that the vast majority of people who teach conservation classes to children are hunters and they do teach it is not all right, to “Just shoot stuff” ?

      I really wish you could find it in your heart to actually come out to the west and spend some time with some of us hunters, we might be able to enlighten you to a different side of life, as a hunter, I don’t feel it is alright to just shoot stuff, I don’t participate in wanton killing of predators or prairie dogs, if I won’t eat it, I won’t kill it, unless it present an immediate threat to me or my family and friends, and this is what I teach to the many hundreds of kids I work with each and every year, as do the many other instructors I know.

      Mike, I will be back at home in Montana, for most of the month of July, it has easy access to Glacier, as well as being quite remote from many areas, I would be more than happy if you wanted to come out and spend some time and actually experience what the core values of the west are…and the food is on me…of course a good majority of it, will be legally taken wild game..


    3. jon Avatar

      sb, Ihave no doubt there are good and honest and ethical hunters out there like you for example, but you cannot deny that there are people out there who call themselves hunters when they are really not. Let me ask you this because nowadays, you don’t know who is a true conservationist and who is not. These people who hunt like Gillette, Beers, Toby Bridges, who want wolves gone or their populations reduced next to nothing, are these what you would call ethical hunters or conservationists? There are different kind of hunters nowadays as you know. There are hunters who hunt to put food on the table and there are hunters who kill for the trophy and some even kill for fun. I myself have a problem with the hunters who kill animals and have a smile on their face when they take a picture of holding the dead animal. Is this what a conservationist is, smiling and taking a picture with a dead animal? There are a batch of hunters out there who give real and ethical hunters a bad name. I don’t see how anyone can claim that hunting for food is bad as wolves do it and so do other predatory animals, but to kill an animal and deprive it of its life for sport and than to take a picture of yourself smiling while holding the dead animal up whose life you just took is something I will never accept and that is not being a conservationist or a hunter to me.

    4. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I don’t know why we keep going over this, I have condemned Gillette, Beers and the rest of them time and time again, I have never denied that there are bad ones out there giving the goods one a bad name, which is why, in spite of the wall of bullshit, I get here, I keep posting..

      Jon, why, do you keep asking me as the other hunters on this blog the same exact questions time and time again, most of us that post here don’t condone the hate, and the killing for fun! I really you would move one, you know how most of us feel and have read what most of us post, but you continue to do this, WHY?

      But I can say, yes, there are a lot of people, even those who don’t hunt, that don’t want wolves, plain and simple they hate them, they are afraid of them and they want them gone, I am starting run into more people that are not hunters and have never been, that want wolves gone, there has been so much rhetoric that it is now starting to spill over even into the non-hunters…

    5. spanglelakes Avatar

      Save Bears – I’ve lived in the NW/N Rockies all my life, never left. Was unaware that killing wildlife is a “core value”. Maybe in some rural redneck areas.

      Many entities besides hunters/game agencies work to educate young people about wildlife, like wildlife actually has value w/o being something to shoot for food or “fun”.

    6. spanglelakes Avatar

      Save Bears – On the flip side, I’ve noticed that with the anti-wolf rhetoric coming from some hunters, including big game outfitters, it’s turning more and more people against hunting.

    7. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      Well spangle, I will have to differ in opinion with you, I am not NWRM native, I was born in WA, but my wife, is as is her family that homesteaded in Lincoln, MT in 1877. We have owned our home in Montana for over 20 years now…I worked for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, I am pretty familier with what goes on at the political level as well as what goes on at the ground level in the field..

      And I don’t know anyone who shoots wildlife for fun, I hunt for food, as I have time and time again, explained on this blog..

      Now, if you don’t like what I have to say, then all I can say is don’t read it, but we know that won’t happen, because you have your hackles up and are rearing for a fight today, so with that, I will bow to your expertise..

      Time to head to a friends house for a nice dinner of BBQ elk..

    8. Angela Avatar

      I respect those who hunt for food and respect the land and the wildlife they hunt. Even if they can buy meat at the store, the animal they kill will die a more humane death, having lived its life in the wild and not anticipated its death. I have loved animals all my life but I can’t hate all hunters because I know several that are very ethical and respectful of wildlife. That doesn’t mean I agree with managing wildlife for an unnatural surplus of ungulates though.

      Wolf hunters, though. Hmm. When those who hunt predators or engage in predator derbies discuss how they like the animals to suffer or how they deliberately kill them in a less-than-humane manner, I cringe. These people may understand the science of wildlife conservation and gun safety, but they are lacking in other areas. Some states now require something called “humane education.” I would argue that it is precisely what is needed. People that deliberately cause suffering to animals lack basic empathy.

      Hunter education and wildlife science education could also benefit from inclusion of a course in ethics. I can’t see any negative consequences of doing so.

      Jon, those “smiling hunter” photos could be a side-effect of excitement and relief and instinctive feelings, to give some the benefit of the doubt. You see these same photos all throughout wildlife biologist journals–men and women posing with the most charismatic animal they have worked with–the animal usually drugged in the photo. I don’t like them either, but humans seem addicted to these sorts of “trophy” photos. I can’t make any rationalization for photos of a smiling hunter holding a large monkey or baboon or serval–definitely psychopathic to me.

  23. Nancy Avatar

    Spanglelakes said “Supposedly, the Regional Supervisor ultimately makes the call for lethal control. But with the Blue Bunch Pack – it was Cal Groen. He apparently made an agreement with the ranchers that there would be no wolves in their area, period”

    Makes me wonder if Carolyn Sime is following Cal Groen’s lead, just a state away. The Battlefield and the Miner Creek packs have both been under the “gun” or wiped out entirely, here in southwest Montana. And it would appear, livestock raisers (many of them wealthy and or, longtime ranchers) are calling the shots, so to speak, whenever a wolf or two, pops up on the landscape and takes advantage of lax husbandry practices.

    The other night I spent some time questioning my feelings about the reintroduction of wolves to an area that made it perfectly clear from the start and has since, made it painfully clear, “they” never wanted to see another predator added to the mix when it came to their way of life.
    I try and take into consideration the mountains of information tossed about daily on this site (and others) by educated people, or atleast I get that feeling when I hear about their numerous degrees……. depending on the subject matter, and I also can relate to the “how many people want to move from HERE to Cleveland” mentalilty.

    I’m guessing there are few takers who want to live in Cleveland after experiencing life out here, so my question is, what exactly does one do in this day and age, living in what’s left of paradise (wilderness) free to fish, hunt and still travel over wilderness areas, motorized or not, and do it without continuely compromising other species, who have as much right to be here as we do?

    1. jon Avatar

      I don’t trust this Cal Groen fellow as far as I could throw him.

    2. Angela Avatar

      Nancy, sometimes I find myself questioning the entire reintroduction effort after seeing what happened after delisting. The way that wolves are being “managed” is extremely distasteful to me. I’m not sure of the answer, but there should be more efforts made towards developing and implementing pro-active, non-lethal measures of protecting livestock. The way these states are managing wolves seems a little barbaric and not at all scientific–especially if no data is collected on the effects of management on predator-prey dynamics.

  24. Nancy Avatar

    “But I can say, yes, there are a lot of people, even those who don’t hunt, that don’t want wolves, plain and simple they hate them, they are afraid of them and they want them gone, I am starting run into more people that are not hunters and have never been, that want wolves gone, there has been so much rhetoric that it is now starting to spill over even into the non-hunters”

    SB, how do you respond to that rhetoric?

    In just the couple of months I’ve been on this site and read the postings from a variety of people, you seem to be in an area still rich in wildlife.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I try to stay in the middle and teach about conservation as well as importance of all species..I have addressed the spree killing with many people who really didn’t know what they are talking about and been able to have productive conversations, I am a middle of the road person, I see both sides with good clarity, I understand, but don’t always condone..I am of a firm belief, that education is the only path that will actually turn this bullshit around and start to build a path to working together, that is not to say, the extremes of either side is ever going to be happy, ..but it can be done.

      And yes, I am in an area rich in wildlife, I am thrilled every single morning when I get up and anticipate what I will see in the yard, it is that thrill that makes me want to teach others about it, even those who think us jerks in the west are “readnecks” with no schooling, I don’t condone the extremists on either side of these wildlife issue, because I know for a fact it will Never solve anything..

    2. jon Avatar

      That is true, education is key, but do you honestly believe wolf haters are going to care about education at this point in time sb? I sure as hell don’t. Remember, these wolf haters are the ones that refer to wolves as “vermin” or wildlife terrorists. The wolf haters fault wolves for the way they kill animals and claim they kill for fun and for sport, something we all know some human hunters infact do. They have their minds made up and so has the pro wolf side. You would think things would be different this time around since the years the wolves got extirpated, but no, it is the same anti wolf attitude that we see today. Honestly, I am sick to my stomach all of the animals that have been killed by ws over the years just to benefit ranchers. Ranchers are anti-wildlife in my opinion. All of the education in the world won’t change a wolf hater’s mind. They are filled with deep hatred for an animal whose only fault it seems is to survive. People hate them for trying to survive.

    3. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      No, I don’t with the current wolf haters, which is why I focus on the future, and not the past. and Jon, I agree, the current crop of ranchers for the most part are wolf haters and will never change, again, that is why, I work with the next generation of ranchers..

      When people finally realize, they will not change the current adult population, then we may get somewhere in the wolf issue, then we may all be a bit better off..hate can’t be changed with education, but education can defeat hate in the future, you have lost this generation, accept it and get over it..

  25. Carl Avatar

    Nancy, living in Minnesota and Michigan wolf country for almost forty years I have seen attitudes change tremendously. People here dislike wolves for four main reasons they 1. they are scared of them. 2. they kill livestock and impact peoples lively hood. 3. they kill pets. 4. they kill deer and compete with hunters.

    Education has done wonders to change people attitudes about wolves here in the midwest. People have become more accepting of wolves and don’t fear them like they once did. But in the last few years as wolves move closer to towns and into farm country, attitudes are changing again and I see people becoming less tolerant of wolves. I think the main reasons people are becoming less tolerant of wolves is because of the fact that more people are having them show up in their community and the killing of pets.
    People who would be happy to see wolves in the north woods of Minnesota aren’t to thrilled to have them show up in the southern parts or more urban parts of the state.
    I recently was told of about a women’s dog that was attacked in her fenced in backyard. Her neighbor told me he was the one who saved the dog by chasing the wolf off by firing a gun in the air. Alot of people in that community are now worried about even letting their pets out into their yards.

    1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
      SEAK Mossback

      Carl –
      That’s interesting. I remember reading something many years ago by Dr. Mech warning that if unchecked wolves would expand into farm and suburban areas of southern Minnesota and change peoples opinions for the worse. I think he envisioned it happening much more quickly under ESA protection than it has. I know in Minnesota there are trapping crews that go out under fairly strict guidelines and address specific complaints about losses. Any thoughts on why wolves have expanded so slowly to the south? Is it really because most wolves that go into those areas get into trouble and are dealt with quickly and effectively by the control crews?

    2. WM Avatar


      To piggyback on SEAK’s inquiry, do you have any sense for how frequently wolves are showing up in MN, south of that imaginary line defined by Interstate I-94, that seems to identify where most are officially recorded as being present. Since MN has very few of its wolves collared (estimates are primarily based on aerial visual survey, written surveys to agencies, limited aerial surveys, a few of Dr. Mech’s research subjects and a WAG on pack size) and we hear little in the national news, I have always wondered if any meaningful numbers are successfully moving south of I-94, and even west to the Dakotas.

    3. Carl Avatar

      I think that some of these dispersers get killed illegally and the 3s’s are in place. You don’t see much in the media it is more by word of mouth. Animals that do move south have a hard time trying to survive and find decent habitat to form a pack. Wolves that go to the southwest part of the state have little cover since there is not alot woodlands among the crop fields. Very little public land. This area was originally tall grass prairie country.This SW part of the state has the lowest deer populations so a wolf has a hard time trying to survive. The Human Society claims there is not a viable population in the state and thats why they haven’t expanded quicker.
      At one time Mech and other experts didn’t think that wolves would be able to survive in the Mesabi Iron Range due to all the strip mines and the fairly large human population, but the wolves have managed to colonize the area. I have heard numerous reports of people seeing wolves moving through the pits.


      In answer to your question there are reports of dispersers going into Iowa and South Dakota but I have not seen any reliable data on numbers. Stories coming out of North Dakota are more common and I recently heard about an animal not to far from Madison, Wisconsin. I recently was told a story about a pack a little north and east of the Twin Cities that the landowners(160 acres) have watched play with there three labradors on numerous occasions over a two year period. These people like having the wolves around and haven’t mentioned this to many people.
      I am always cautious when listening to wildlife stories since I was once called to check out a mountain lion in a tree in a back yard. The dog had treed the animal. It turned out to be a groundhog.

  26. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    I’m still waiting for Mark to answer Valerie’s question about the MOU concerning genetic connectivity. Perhaps the political Groen deals he made with ranchers to keep wolves out of the Mccall and new mwadow area was a special Idaho exemption to the usual 45-60 day window for take orders from WS. It seems Idaho could care less about accountability to taxpayers huh Mark.

    1. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      mark, and I assume because he is acting in official capacity, fish and game as a whole, does not even understand the basic definition of Habitat.
      Asking for accountability is some what of a pipe dream, no?

  27. WM Avatar

    william, valerie, all,

    Valerie’s comment, in part:

    ++how are you and the other Regional Supervisors to comply with the tri-state Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on maintaining genetic connectivity and diversity — a document which the federal court relied on in granting the government’s request to vacate the delisting rule as it was in the fall of 2008.++

    Valerie, correct me if I am wrong on this, but I do not believe the court relied on the MOU (12/08/08), since it was signed two months after the Court Order on vacatur and remand (10/14/08). Rather, the court vacated its Order because FWS volunarily withdrew the delisting rule so it could go back and answer in greater detail the questions raised by the judge in his July 18, 2008 injunction. The later signed MOU would have been part of that formal showing. Second, notwithstanding the apparant authority/autonomy given to Regional Supervisors under an operating memo from Groen to make decisions within their areas, it is the State which is the party to the agreement, not the regions within the state as suggested by Val’s question.

    As for Valerie’s asking and maybe Mark not answering the question, its substance goes to the very heart of the litigation which the judge will hear tomorrow.

    Notwithstanding these legal technicalities, the substance of the question is a good one – decentralized decision making vs. promises of coordination under an agreement keeping the tri-state genetic connectivity issue front and center. Presumably that will be part of the FWS/state’s arguments.

    I simply cannot believe they would be so dumb as to ignore that interstate obligation and not consider impacts, relative to control measures on particular packs, and maybe even individual animals.

    Here is the link to the MOU:

  28. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Leaked memo with 150 wolf management plan, take orders and kill permits extended by 6-8 months after no depredation by wolves, this has been a disaster. The only interstate obligation IDFG has is to the ranching community!Where is the accountability relative to control measures on particular packs- I DON’T TRUST A WORD THEY SAY!


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Ken Cole