Feds still looking for a cooperating, non-Idaho agency-

Personally, I’d rather see the federal government manage them in Idaho. They are doing it in Wyoming, and the wolf population there is growing slowly, livestock losses are stable or declining, and every elk unit its above the population “target” in Wyoming.

In Idaho, before Idaho Fish and Game Department took over, the feds (meaning Carter Niemeyer, the federal wolf manager) oversaw a similar situation.

If a cooperating agency is not found for Idaho, however, it may be that there will be no Idaho wolf population count for 2010.  That will mean that every interest will make their own claim.  Perhaps the extremes will be those saying there are less than 100 wolves and the other extreme 10,000 wolves.

Idaho wolf management transition still not complete. U.S. Fish and Wildlife still looking for monitoring agency. By Katherine Wutz. Idaho Mountain Express staff writer

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.

27 Responses to Wolf transition from Idaho Fish and Game is still not complete

  1. Craig says:

    Didn’t the Wolf population increase in Idaho under the F&Gs reign and not slowly?

    • Craig,

      The Idaho wolf population has increased every year since they were reintroduced. In recent years, the growth rate has fallen and last year the official population count showed a slight absolute decrease for the first time — from 856 to 843 wolves.

  2. Craig says:

    But that was with a wolf hunting season. Which does not reflect on Wildlife services kills? And what is the + or – shit there are so many ares theres no they can cover to see where wolves are now. They can use the mathmatical BS and guess but really?

  3. Craig says:

    Sorry I was on the phone and typing! But really it boils down to how accurate are any of these counts really? What do you think is the + or – REALLY Ralph? Why do you think the Federal Gov’t will be better?

  4. Craig,

    The accuracy of all wildlife counts is controversial, wolves and grizzly bears top the list though.

    The government says the wolf count is a minimum estimate because of the difficulty of finding all the wolves.

    I have always thought it more likely a mid-range estimate because of the likelihood of double counting wolves offsets wolves that are missed entirely. If you read carefully how they estimated wolves that were not not seen or heard, but counted anyway in the 2009 and earlier reports, you might be skeptical that it is a minimum estimate.

    Hopefully, at this point in time the government will ramp up use of newer estimation methods such as DNA analysis of rub pads (counting wolves by their DNA) and deployment of howl boxes.

    I have thought that the federal government generally does a better job in wolf management because they are not hostile to the wolves, though current politics might change that, and they have been piss poor with the Mexican wolf.

    Folks that are hostile to any program of any kind in any area are not likely to administer it well, certainly not compared to those who are professionally neutral.

    In the case of Idaho, the federal wolf manager Carter Niemeyer was perhaps the most professional wildlife manager I have met. He wasn’t afraid to kill wolves when it was needed. He would not call a dead cow or sheep a wolf kill just because the owner thought it was and there were wolf tracks around the carcass. He would not control wolves simply because some powerful person didn’t like them in the area. He would talk to people who consistently disagreed with him. He didn’t write them off.

    Although we talk about federal (or state) bureaucrats as though they are interchangeable, experience tells me that individual variation is considerable, and it matters.

  5. Craig says:

    Ok that makes sense. But isn’t the the Fish and Game seperate from the Fish and Wildlife services(which I thought was federal)? Or are they a Cooperative? I don’t know? Nor how jusidication of wildlife sevices works between the two in different situations! I didn’t think you wanted any FWS controling wolves.

  6. Craig says:

    I’m not trying to be an asshole, just to understand how this really works.

  7. Craig,

    There is U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or FWS). These folks list and delist endangered species and operate many other federal programs. They are part of the Dept. of Interior. They do not usually kill things.

    There is USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS). These are the people who really kill a lot of native wildlife. They used to be called ADC (Animal Damage Control). You can see how their present name (so similar) hides them.

    APHIS is U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. WS is part of them officially, although in practice they often operate as though their employer was the livestock industry (my opinion anyway).

    Once upon a time, even earlier than ADC, they were called PARC — Predator and rodent control.

  8. Craig says:

    Ok, but when I here or read of Wolf kills it’s always FWS or WS hard to tell, even on this site so that was confusing. Unless you are really in the know it’s hard to tell who you guys are talking about? That’s why I thought it was weird you thought the federal Gov’t would be better. It’s not a cut and dry situation and I think it confuses most folks , not just me! But maybe I’m just stupid and It was just me who was confused?

    • JB says:


      You are right in that jurisdiction can get confusing. In reality lots of federal agencies have a hand in wildlife management. The US Forest Service (Dept. of Ag.) and Bureau of Land Management (Dept. of Interior) both work cooperatively with the Fish & Wildlife Service on the conservation of endangered species and lands that they manage. The National Park Service (Dept. of Interior) also works cooperatively with FWS, but, at least in the case of wolves in Yellowstone NP, retains more direct control. Wildlife Services (Dept. of Ag.) is also considered a cooperative partner, one that is called in to “remove” (i.e. kill) wolves when there are chronic depredations on livestock. Some state and tribal governments have also partnered with the FWS in the management of wolves.

      The important factor here is who retains decision authority. When wolves were delisted, authority for management reverted to the states and their Fish and Game agencies, with wolves re-listed, authority again resides with the FWS.

      Hope that helps!

      • JimT says:

        Now, we would like a cogent explanation of MOUs and their place in the hierarchy of laws, regulations and conflict of laws…:*)

        Hey, this could be an exam question in law school class…LOL…

  9. Craig,

    I’m glad you brought this up. Until I started to explain it, I didn’t understand how similar these names are, and so how confusing this probably is.

    I learned the difference on the ground. So there was no problem in my mind, but I sure see it now.

    I hope other folks will read our exchange here.

  10. WM says:


    The questions you ask are good ones. The complexity of the interesection of various federal agencies and states, where wildlife is concerned is frought with legal confusion and getting worse as each day goes by. It has developed as a patchwork of fixes as the federal government has stuck its nose under the tent of what was once thought to be the exclusive province of the states.

    This confusion has been compounded even more over the last forty years as our population has grown, environmental problems have increased and then been acknowledged and the federal government has asserted greater putative control over “solving” them, including asserting primary authority. It has expanded its power over what some legal scholars say are testing the boundaries of the Constitution and the vision of the framers.

    This is what prompted the reporter to say in the article:

    “Otter has repeatedly claimed that wildlife management is not an “enumerated power” delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution and states should have the right to manage wildlife without federal interference.”

    Some on this forum will say the Supreme Court answered this question in Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976), by concluding the federal government’s ability to assert authority over state wildlife is nearly limitess, if it wants to assert that authority under a federal law (in that case the issue was over whether New Mexico can trump the feds managing wild horses and burros under a federal act).

    Here, the Endangered Species Act reintroduction of wolves (or other species management – think griz or an endangered deer species) trumps everything. The states, as one might expect, take a different view as wolves are affecting private livestock interests and the state ability to manage ungulate populations.

    I think the answer is far from clear, but the states may not get the answer they want, if and when this all comes to a head.

    I have maintained before, that the instutional parts of the ESA are some of the weakest. It is a flaw in the act that may need a fix.

    The fact that FWS is having trouble finding a “designated agent” for wolf monitoring when one or more states won’t play is indicative of this critical flaw. FWS doesn’t want to do it. And, the institutional weakness is exactly why this NRM wolf delisting (WY needing an approved wolf management plan, ID with an approved plan but pissed about the Molloy ruling and MT) has been derailed.

    The unfortunate thing, from the states’ perspective is that judge has not even addressed, under the ESA and the lawsuit, whether the science supports the view that recovery is legally sufficient and there are enough NRM wolves in enough places and genetically connected. This is over the strenuous objection of the states who think there are too many, and the number is growing while the legal paperwork on this issue sits in the in-box of a federal appellate court in San Francisco, slowly working its way to the top of the stack (to say nothing of another federal trial court sitting in Cheyenne waiting to rule on some aspects of the WY wolf plan, which will likely be appealed to yet another federal appellate court sitting in Denver, because WY is in another federal legal appellate jurisdiction).

    • JimT says:

      Please give me examples of your second paragraph’s assertions, especially the legal scholars. Please keep in mind that these are law school professors for the most part, and one has to look hard at times for practitioner’s point of view or expertise.

      And please, no Posner. He gives me a headache..;*)

  11. JB says:

    “Some on this forum will say the Supreme Court answered this question in Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976), by concluding the federal government’s ability to assert authority over state wildlife is nearly limitess…I think the answer is far from clear, but the states may not get the answer they want, if and when this all comes to a head.”

    I don’t think the Supreme Court could have been any more clear in Kleppe. Freyfolge and Goble conclude that: “Since Kleppe, the federal government has encountered little resistance whenever it has asserted control over federal lands”. They even acknowledge, and subsequently dismiss, the dissent of the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion.” Also recall that Kleppe’s application was limited to federal public lands.

    Federal authority over wildlife emanates from the commerce clause (which gives the federal government to regulate interstate commerce), the property clause, which gives the federal government power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and property belonging to the United States” (in this case, Federal lands), and the treaty power, which allows the Executive branch to treat with other nations, and provided authority for the protection of migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

    That states exert authority over wildlife is without question; however, that authority is NOT without limit. The federal government’s ability to usurp state control through one of the above mechanisms is well-established (and litigated), and unlikley to change.

    • WM says:

      ++Also recall that Kleppe’s application was limited to federal public lands.++

      Interesting that in the Western states, at least, most of the species we talk about here reside on federal reserved lands of some sort. The discussion in Chapter 10 of the Greyfogle and Goble text [Wildlife Law (2009) Island Press], , carefully avoid much discussion of how the dance between federal lands management and state wildlife management might play out.

      And that is where the tension lies, and where alternative outcomes of court made law may very well result in backlash that could reverberate though the halls of Congress. I won’t take bets on the outcome.

      • JB says:

        I’m unclear as to what you are thinking might be challenged? It is true that states have historically enjoyed much authority over wildlife on federal lands; however, the Federal government’s powers are firmly established in precedents that are unlikely to change. Moreover, if, for example, this conservative court decided to extend the rights of private property owners, consider the implications for wildlife when the largest single landowner in the West is the federal government–who enjoys the same rights as any other landowner.

        – – – –

        Note: Freyfogle and Goble discuss federal authority in the chapter detailing the constitutional framework (ch 6?); they also discuss the state “ownership doctrine” and its limitations in chapter 2; it may be the gaps you find in ch 10 are covered in one of these chapters.

      • JimT says:

        Where do you see a legal foundation for such an assertion by the states?

      • JB says:


        What some call the “wildlife trust” doctrine has risen along parallel lines to the public trust doctrine in water law, though it isn’t nearly as well developed. Geer v. Connecticut is one of the most oft-cited cases (http://supreme.justia.com/us/161/519/index.html):

        “While the fundamental principles upon which the common property in game rest have undergone no change, the development of free institutions had led to the recognition of the fact that the power or control lodged in the state, resulting from this common ownership, is to be exercised, like all other powers of government as a trust for the benefit of the people, and not as a prerogative for the advantage of the government as distinct from the people, or for the benefit of private individuals as distinguished from the public good. ”

        The doctrine of “ownership” is misleading, as states aren’t really owners, but are supposed to act more like trustees in their management of wildlife.

    • Increasingly we hear people like Otter say things like . . . is not an “enumerated” power of Congress. Therefore, Congress cannot pass a law that trumps the states in this matter.

      This goes way beyond the Kleppe case. That Congress possesses powers beyond those specifically listed in Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, the “enumerated” (listed) powers of Congress, was settled in the early 19th Century case McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819).

      These extra powers are called “the implied” powers of Congress. The Commerce Clause is an enumerated power, but its reach is implied in many places, including control of wildlife if Congress wishes.

      If students of government are required to learn any Supreme Courts cases, one of these will be McCulloch v. Maryland. That people like Otter now seem unaware is shocking. Now perhaps this case was decided wrongly in 1819, but for the Supreme Court to overturn it almost 2 centuries later, it is unthinkable because it would mean the Constitution has no stability. It would change the entire form of American government.

      • timz says:

        “That people like Otter now seem unaware is shocking.”
        Ralph, does the fact that Otter seems unaware of anything really shock you.;)

    • JimT says:

      Well said. And there are lines of cases where state actions affecting public lands can be reached by federal authorities, are there not?

  12. JimT says:

    Be interesting to hear Scalia and other “originalists” on the implied powers, Ralph. I wonder if Scalia holds seances so he can get it first hand from the Framers…LOL.

  13. Phil says:

    This question is to Ralph.
    I am a current Senior at a local college in Michigan pursuing a Biology degree in Animal Behavior. From what you research as to Wolves, exactly how has their presence affected ecosystems? I have read many articles, and emailed many Biologists who have worked with Wolves in that their responses and the articles state Wolf presence is a positive one within ecosystems and conspecific and heterospecific species. But, you will get the other side of the spectrum in which state otherwise. From what you have observed, what have you witnessed?

    What is the evidence as to whether or not these are the native Wolves we use to have before the extinction in the early part of the 20th century?

    Also, has any Wolf ever attacked any human since confirmations and records had been preserved in the Great Plains region?

    Sorry to ask a lot of questions, but I want to get more reliable information from sources who work directly with Wolves.
    Thank you!
    – – –
    Note: I answered Phil privately. Ralph Maughan

  14. pls says:

    I agree with Ralph in that the management of the wolves has been handled in the past and in Wyoming better by FWS.

  15. Craig says:

    Thanks everyone, now I understand it’s just a bunch more politcal Bullshit for these pricks to cover up under differn’t names and spend more tax dollars for each division! Funny you need so many idiots to do the same thing and waste so many tax dollars!!!!!!!

  16. Craig says:

    I’m just a simple man and you guys are talking way over my head on a lot of this! But when it smells like shit it probably is!
    I’m just a Hunter/ Outdoor enthusiast who does care about our lands and conservation of it! I am sick of seeing what’s going on with our public land and it’s abuse! Not only for Hunters but for everyone who enjoys the outdoors.
    Whether they Hunt or not, it is just sicking to see how our Gov’t is exploting all this for the wealth of politicians who seek political office just to better themselves and there friends for financial gain and screw everyone else!


November 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