Judge sides with Wyoming in wolf case

U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson Rules that USFWS was not justified in rejecting Wyoming’s woefully inadequate wolf management plan.

Recall that Judge Molloy ruled in 2008 that the USFWS arbitrarily accepted Wyoming’s wolf management plan without justification after initially rejecting it. Specifically Molloy said that the USFWS “acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it approved Wyoming’s 2007 plan despite the State’s failure to commit to managing for 15 breeding pairs and the plan’s malleable trophy game area”.

Updated: Judge sides with Wyoming in wolf case.
By JEREMY PELZER Casper Star-Tribune capital bureau



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  1. jon Avatar

    So once wolves come off the endangered species list in Wyoming, Wyoming is going to allow hunters to shoot wolves on sight in most of the state? I don’t think environmental groups are going to let this happen and expect lawsuits.

  2. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Jon- this decision will be overturned on appeal. Only in Wyoming can a plan that calls for shoot on sight in 90% of the state be considered anything that resembles “Wildlife Management”

    1. Mike Avatar

      Yep. I’m always shocked at just how far out of the mainstream Wyoming government is. They really should change the state flag to the image of a straight jacket and a hypodermic needle.

      1. jon Avatar

        lol@ mike’s comment. Good one Mike.

    2. STG Avatar

      So true. I was backpacking in the Winds in October and saw a lone black wolf. It made the trip! I did not mention the fact to anyone in Wyoming and certainly did not mention it on the wilderness check in/out sheet.

  3. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    The trigger happy nutjobs would be out in full force looking to take a wolf out for the states rights thing.

    1. jon Avatar

      They already shot 2 wolves in Montana and who knows how many more, but they don’t seem to be practicing the second s of the sss way of doing things. Maybe they are afraid of all of the “deadly diseases and tapeworms” that wolves apparently carry? Who knows. It’s such a sad and tragic thing when wolves are not looked at as wildlife, just varmints who love sport killing according to those who don’t like em.

  4. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    The Wyoming Management Plan just illustrates how little things have changed in some of these states. I remember seeing the pictures of the wolf and bear that were paraded down the Wyoming streets in the 1930’s during the State fair. Bring the wife and kids to see the evil bloodthirsty predators

    1. jon Avatar

      This is from Wyoming governor Matt Mead.

      “I thought Wyoming’s plan was the right way to go; it was based upon science,” he said. “This plan that Wyoming has was originally signed off on by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an appropriate plan.”

      State officials were also pleased by the ruling.

      How exactly is shooting wolves on sight in 90% of the state based on science? I find that hard to believe. Clearly Wyoming does not want wolves in their state, so I doubt any plan they come up with is based on science. Maybe junk science, but not real science.

      1. Will Avatar

        Jon, what you are failing to state is that 70% of the wolf habitat is in NW Wyoming. If you add YNP+G.Teton NP + wilderness areas surrounding the parks, you come up with an area the size of Massachusetts.

      2. Ryan Avatar

        “Clearly Wyoming does not want wolves in their state, so I doubt any plan they come up with is based on science.”


        Duh, but at 15 pairs, the population in WY won’t go extinct it will just be small. Which is what the vast majority of Wyoming wants.

  5. Kayla Avatar

    Wow! Gosh, this was onething that I was not expecting to hear at this time. Guess there is never a dull moment in this wolf saga. But I personally do expect this will be Appealed and then Overturned.
    And then who knows what will happen after that. But as for myself, as long as I have breath and the wilds exist, am going out to enjoy the wilds, the wolves, and life!

  6. JB Avatar

    I would not assume that a victory upon appeal is guaranteed. The 10th circuit is far less friendly to endangered species than the 9th (where Idaho & Montana district decisions end up).

  7. mikarooni Avatar

    Shaaazzzam! Famed undead zombie Judge Clarence Brimmer rises from his crate of native earth and takes possession of the body of feeble-minded and impressionably psychotic Judge Alan Johnson.

  8. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    There will definitely be plenty of trigger happy people out in full force looking for wolves in the predator zone. This is unfortunate news.

    1. WG Avatar

      On the ground or in the air in helicopters like the last time the wolves were wiped out?

  9. WM Avatar


    Do you have a copy of the opinion you can post?

  10. WM Avatar

    While we await the opinion here is a little more detail on the reasoning in Judge Johnson’s opinion.

    This is the first decision court decision that actually addresses genetic connectivity since Molloy’s first ruling in 2008.


    Interesting there is no discussion – here at least- about “historic range.”

    And, this is a very narrow opinion directing FWS to look again at the WY plan. It doesn’t say they could not come back with the same decision not to approve it. They just need to back it up with their reasoning.

    So the dumbass plan from WY is still far from being approved.

    And this circus of the absurd continues.

    1. PointsWest Avatar

      …but the decision says the FWS must reconsider the plan and do you think the FWS will reject it again in this political climate?

      I don’t think this is all that bad of a development. If prowolfers are going to really stick it to states that have wolves, then no state is going to want to have them. On the other hand, if states are allowed to manage wolves the way they see fit, maybe more states will allow wolves in certain areas.

      Prowolfers can try and pursuade the State of Wyoming to protect wolves in more areas but I see no problem in a state being able to choose where it wants wolves and where it does not want them.

      As it is now, I’ll bet other states are terrified that wolves might enter their territory for fear that DFW and prowolfies in general will have them in everyone’s back yard and protected by armed federal agents. That is not good for wolves.

      1. WM Avatar

        Too many wolves in too few places, and states that have them are being constantly pressured to have more and more. The states that don’t have them, but are in the logical dispersal path, are rightfully anxious of the uncertainty of what it means to get and “manage” them unfolds.

        That has been my contention for a very long time. And, that is why the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA), the organization that represents the state fish and game agencies in the Midwest states and 3 Canada provinces has said in a resolution passed earlier this year that the Great Lakes wolves are recovered and want them off the list.

        A similar group representing the Western states (WAFWA) is also posturing for the NRM wolves, I believe.

        Individually, OR is in the process of reviewing its wolf plan now that it has wolves and glitches have developed in implementation for control of problem wolves; WA has yet to adopt its plan (they pushed out their review and adoption procedure by more than a year) as they watch this litigation happy fiasco being played out.

        Just to emphasize the point – here is an interesting and timely article coming out of WI:

        Feds kill 6 wolves in WI

      2. ProWolf in WY Avatar
        ProWolf in WY

        PointsWest, you do make some good points about states not wanting wolves after all of the political manuevering. The problem I see, is that the predator zone is not based on science. If people are shooting wolves on sight in most of the state and licenses are sold who is to say that wolves won’t become endangered again? If wolves are trophy game everywhere then there may be less of a chance of becoming endangered. I really think this is a reasonable compromise.

      3. jon Avatar

        Pro wolf, Your governor Mead said that the shoot wolves on sight plan is based on science. I would like to know where he came up with this.

      4. Wyo Native Avatar
        Wyo Native


        Our Governor is Dave Freudenthal, not Matt Mead.

        Matt Mead will not be Wyoming’s Governor until next year.

        Also have you read the Judge’s decision? If you had you may gain a little knowledge into Wyoming’s argument before the judge.

      5. jon Avatar

        My mistake, I should have said Wyoming’s new governor when freudenthal leaves. How is the shoot on sight plan based upon science?

      6. ProWolf in WY Avatar
        ProWolf in WY

        Jon, I didn’t vote for him so I don’t consider him my governor. 🙂 Anyway, I think he just omitted the word junk when he said science.

      7. Ryan Avatar


        The science is that 15 breeding pairs or packs will allow for a sustainable population, not a growing one, in the areas of the state where they deemed suitable wolf habitat.

      8. JB Avatar

        Which “science” is it that indicates that 30 wolves is a sustainable population?

      9. SAP Avatar

        Ugh. More of the “science” crap.

        “Sustainable” is a subjective term, just like “wealthy” or “comfortable.” It is meaningless to talk about sustainability without specifying

        WHAT is being sustained;
        HOW LONG of a time frame you want to worry about;
        HOW MUCH RISK you’re willing to tolerate for the valued thing you’re trying to sustain.

        Science can help you define what you’re trying to sustain, can help devise ways of sustaining it, can help you measure progress toward sustainability. It can’t tell you what to sustain, for how long, and at what level of risk. The answers to these questions depend on one’s values and can’t be answered by “science.”

      10. JB Avatar

        Good points, SAP; yet, I can’t find any science that claims, by ANY measure, that 15 breeding pairs of ANY population is “sustainable”.

        Genetically speaking, any population reduced to 30 breeding individuals is dangerously close to a bottleneck.

      11. SAP Avatar

        JB – I think that’s correct. I think it is possible to arrive at a shared understanding of viability or sustainability, keeping in mind that it is ultimately subjective. The lower limit of sustainability would be a sort of “straight face” test: are we defining “sustainability” at a more-than-trivial level, for a more-than-trivial amount of time. Seems like anything less than a 100 year planning horizon would be trivial, to me anyway.

      12. JB Avatar

        Agreed. A good “straight face” test would by a population viability analysis with a 100 year time frame. In fact, the last NRM Final Rule is essentially a defense of the NRM wolf population’s viability. Of course, population viability misses out on the larger and arguably more subjective argument as to what constitutes “recovery” of a species!

      13. SAP Avatar

        JB – I think there’s a whole bundle of parameters — with subjective thresholds that need to be specified — that go into “viability” and “recovery.”

        My big complaint right now about “science” is that these questions aren’t “scientific” questions, and treating them as though science can provide answers prevents us from moving toward resolution or at least some stability in expectations.

        The upper limit on viability kind of reminds me of the “willingness to be paid” questions on surveys for monetizing environmental quality. “Willingness to be paid” or compensated for air or water quality sounded nice until we realize that most of us have no upper limit on how much money we’d accept in exchange for environmental damage.

        By the same token, a viability/sustainability threshold for a population may be unsatisfactory for some parties until we have reduced risk to zero over an infinite time horizon.

        Reductio ad absurdum, perhaps, but we need to grapple with the upper limit, too. I think what sets the upper limit is, foremost, our inherent limitations on predicting the future, and cognitive limitations on developing meaningful models for PVA.

        A more pragmatic concern is costs/trade-offs for what may be trivial, illusory, or unmeasurable reductions in risk to a population.

        Science clearly has a role in figuring this stuff out. It takes several different types of experts to construct a useful PVA in the first place (field biologists, biogeographers, geneticists, mathematicians, programmers, and so on). Then we add another cadre of experts in figuring out what the trade-offs might be if our goal is a very large population managed for very low risk over a very long time frame.

        These tasks cannot be done in a meaningful, accurate way without experts. But the subjective elements come down to values. We need to stop obscuring those value choices if we ever want to move toward a productive public dialogue about wolves and other species.

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

        JB, SAP –
        This is a very important part of the ongoing, multi-species ESA debates, particularly in the west. The question of viability/sustainability, within the language and intent of the ESA is not hard to define. The assured, continued presence of a species within a defined geographic area of recovery required by the act is the straightforward intent of ESA. If that objective is achieved by assuring necessary population size, genetic diversity and connectivity then the legal requirements of the act are achieved.
        The further, important social value based objectives that include population size (beyond that necessary to assure population viability and sustainability) are outside of the purvue of the ESA (and the federal government). That management responsibility – what are the desires of society for wildlife management objectives) belong to the states, guided by the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

      15. Jeremy B. Avatar

        Thanks, SAP. I see we’re on the same page with respect to the role of science and the often unacknowledged role of social values.

        – – – –

        “The assured, continued presence of a species within a defined geographic area of recovery required by the act is the straightforward intent of ESA. If that objective is achieved by assuring necessary population size, genetic diversity and connectivity then the legal requirements of the act are achieved.”

        Mark: The inherent problem with this approach is made clear by the FWS’s first attempt to remove wolves from federal protections in 2003. In that case, the entire northeast quarter of the country was recognized as a DPS and wolves removed from ESA protections throughout the region despite the fact that wolves were restricted to the northern 1/3 of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

        Both the Oregon and Vermont District Courts recognized that this approach conflicted with the intent and plain language of the ESA, as wolves were clearly absent from a significant portion of their range (i.e., the vast majority of the DPS). Things improved in the last attempt (2009 Final Rule) to remove wolves from ESA protections in the NRMs–yet still, they were only active in ~29% of the the area where they were being proposed for delisting. Thus, the assertion that simply restoring a viable population allows for delisting misses the point that the size of the geographic unit that contains the population matters, and it is currently being set in an arbitrary fashion.

        In my estimation, if there is a legal flaw in the listing/delisting process, it is FWS and NMFS’s DPS Policy, which does NOT allow a DPS to be delineated by state political boundaries. Wyoming’s outright refusal to give wolves trophy game status makes it clear that threats to species CAN vary by political boundaries, and thus, political boundaries are appropriate markers of “discreteness” insofar as a DPS is concerned. In fact, I think Wyoming’s refusal gives FWS necessary justification for changing this policy.

      16. JB Avatar

        Another general concern I have with setting management goals purely off of social values is that it potentially sets up a “majority rule” system–a system I suspect hunters and trappers would not benefit from in the long term. Rather, a system that attempts to maximize the diversity of recreational opportunities available to citizens while recognizing that public opinion sets loose bounds for what is politically feasible, seems to me to be the most promising “compromise.” The greatest good for the greatest number, over the long run.

      17. SAP Avatar

        Mark – thanks for your reply. You wrote:

        “The assured, continued presence of a species within a defined geographic area of recovery required by the act is the straightforward intent of ESA.”

        Basically, Mark, population viability analysis is concerned with the quantification of “how assured” (risk of extinction, or probability of persistence) over a given time frame.

        Quantifying these two things — probability of persistence, and a specified time horizon — are the only way to really make sure we’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to species conservation. Otherwise, we’re left with each others’ unclear interpretations of what “sustainable” or “viable” mean.

        We quantify other things of social concern: poverty, drunkenness, educational performance, and so on.

        Not everything can be quantified, “not everything that counts can be counted.” But the vast, contentious gap between “100 wolves per state” versus “2000-3000 in ID-MT-WY” is an instance where opposing sides have very different interpretations of what “sustainable” means. I don’t see how we’re going to bridge that gap without having some socially-determined, quantitative goals.

      18. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
        Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

        JB –
        We agree that the social half of wildlife management is best served by a robust, inclusive public involvement process that considers the desires and needs of all public trust user/stakeholders. Going back to our discussions last year, there is an institutional system in place to accomplish those objectives – State Fish and Game/Wildlife Commissions/Boards. Some differences in titles and administration – same fundamental authorities and responsibilities to the residents of each respective state.

        SAP –
        Yes, I think we agree. You re-state what I described in earlier post. The technical confirmation of population sustainability/viability is straight forward. One of several convential PVA’s can produce an estimate, with statistical bounds, of the likelihood for a given population of animals to persist within a defined geographical area, over a defined period of time, within a specific set of assumptions.
        In real fundamental terms – the social side of these dilemmas are the more complex and dynamic challenges for wildlife managers, elected representatives and the public. My one point in this thread is that once the requirements of the ESA are met for a given listed species – those vexing social management challenges belong to the respective state or states to who management responsibility returns.

      19. JB Avatar


        Certainly once the requirements of the Act are met and a species delisted, then authority for a species’ management “reverts” back to the stat. My point was that the Act’s requirements are far from transparent with respect to recovery. In fact, a recovered species is simply one that no longer meets the definition of a “threatened species” or “endangered species”. Putting aside, for the moment, concerns about the representativeness of a population within a geographic area, a listing determination comes down to two fundamental questions: 1) what is the threat of extinction to a species, subspecies, or DPS, and 2) the more problematic question–is this threat acceptable? PVA provides a pretty good method to get at the first question; however, when one relies upon PVA alone then one embeds the social acceptability question into an otherwise technical-rational analysis (for example, questions about the appropriate time frame or the level of risk one is willing to tolerate are not scientific questions).

        Another limitation of PVA is there is yet no way to include what I would call “political” threats to a species. Wolves provide perhaps the best example of a political threat–the legislatures of Idaho, Wyoming and Utah through the actions of their elected officials (e.g., laws demanding the total removal of wolves from their states) have made it clear that they do not want wolves in their states. Their actions underscore the tenuous nature of state management plans and call into question whether the regulatory mechanisms set forth therein will be in place long-term. Congress clearly anticipated these types of threats when it set forth the language in the so-called “threats analysis” (40 CFR 424.11(c)):

        The Secretary shall by regulation promulgated in accordance with subsection (b) determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the following factors:

        (A) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
        (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
        (C) disease or predation;
        (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
        (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued

        While PVA and other types of modeling might help us understand how policies effect a species population/persistence, they have no way of accounting for such types of political threats, and thus, are not adequate for conducting a threats analysis.

        – – – – –

        In my opinion, the issue of wolves in the West is so problematic BECAUSE local values and policy goals differ so dramatically from national values and policy goals, and each “side” clearly recognizes that its interests are better served by a different level of government. A compromise (i.e., an experimental, non-essential listing status) between these positions has been successful (in my estimation) at striking a balance between these competing interests–thus far. However, I think conservation groups are legitimately worried about what management will look like under the states. And they have a legitimate “beef” (pardon the pun) at asserting that their values should be considered when wolves occur almost entirely on lands owned by the federal government. On the other hand, I recognize that many hunters are fearful that their probability of harvesting an elk could be deteriorating.

        My hope is that, in the short term, the FWS will be able to strike another compromise with respect to this issue and allow conservation hunts in areas where there is an indication that wolves are negatively impacting elk. However, in the long term wolves will be delisted, and I cannot but wonder if state governments will be willing to make similar concessions in recognition of national interests?

      20. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        you and JB are having a somewhat technical discussion which I am sure is very satisfying on a cerebral level, and I don’t want to detract from that but I have a question; cut to the chase if you will.
        When considering the NRM DPS and the minimum population requirements of 100/300 for the three states(lets just leave out the eastern 1/3 of Washington and Oregon and the high Unitas in Utah), I want your professional opinion.
        here is what we are looking at. the total land area of the three states is 345,412 sq. mi. In my opinion about 50% of that would constitute suitable habitat for wolves, or 162,706 sq. mi. or 104,131,840 acres(one hundred four million one hundred thirty-one thousand eight hundred forty acres), which would be a density of one (1) wolf for every 347,106 acres(three hundred thousand one hundred six acres)(one acre constitutes an area equal to what would be a football field from side line to side line and from the goal line to the opposite 10 yard line).

        Now in all your professional training and opinion would a population of three hundred constitute a Viable population in that area within the confines of the ESA?

      21. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
        Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

        JB – I understand your point about trust in state management, but can’t agree that the concern is rational. I do not see an incentive for states to purposefully manage a species to become listed or re-listed as threatened or endangered under ESA protection. To the contrary, there is a strong incentive for states to do the opposite. From the perspective of any state – any listing of a species under the ESA is a very undesireable situation.

        JEFF E – without speaking directly to Idaho wolf management policy or issues (all comments and responses to Idaho wolf management are being handled by Mike Keckler – IDFG Chief, Bureau of Communications), if any listed species has reached population levels – expressed in total number, density, genetic diversity and connectivity – that satisfy ESA criteria for de-listing, then it should be delisted. The act simply provides for assurance that a species will reliably persist in a defined geographical area into the future. JB, SAP and I seem to agree: that is a technical issue that straightforward and may be determined by a variety of methods including Population Viability Analysis (PVA). Subsequent questions about preferred abundance or densities e.g., are management responsibilities belonging to the states.

      22. JB Avatar

        “From the perspective of any state – any listing of a species under the ESA is a very undesireable situation.”


        I don’t pretend to understand the politics that would compel individual legislators to act against the best interest of their constituents. However, if having a listed species is so undesirable, why would Wyoming legislators act in a way that all but guaranteed the continued listing of wolves?

        In the case of Idaho, the undeniable fact is that the legislature has passed multiple resolutions demanding the removal of wolves “by any means necessary”. It is important to note that IDF&G’s authority to manage wildlife emanates from this very group of individuals. They may choose to usurp that authority whenever they wish. To be clear, I don’t doubt the agency’s capacity to manage wolves sustainably, but rather, would assert that there is considerable question as to whether the state’s government will let them do so, long term.

        Let’s assume for a moment that delisting goes forward and the legislatures of these states stop playing politics with the wolf issue for the five-year, post-delisting monitoring period. All goes well and wolves are managed sustainably and everyone is happy–okay, now we’re really stretching reality. After that 5-year period these legislatures, comprised of individuals that did not want wolves to begin with and have consistently demanded their removal, will then have the ability to do whatever they wish. Now an astute observer might counter that the FWS would simply relist wolves; but I don’t think anyone who has been paying attention to this issue is naive enough to believe that once all of the legal dust settles and wolves are delisted in the NRMs, that they will ever see the list again–no matter what happens.

        – – – –

        Returning to the more interesting question of what constitutes “recovery” insofar as the ESA is concerned… There is a huge difference between 100 wolves per state (what wolf advocates see and fear) and 6,000 wolves in the three-state system (what livestock producers and some hunters fear). The ambiguity over what the target will be–what constitutes “recovery”–is one reason for continued legal action. Another is that, given the history of this issue and the makeup of wildlife commissions/boards in these states, advocates for wolves simply don’t believe that their views will be heard under state management. I am sure that you are aware of the letter that commissioner McDermott sent out on the 5th of August this year? I won’t ask you to comment on it, but would simply use it as an illustration of the type of action that only serves to make these fears more salient. Another was Idaho’s failure to set aside a “wolf-viewing” area in their management plan. The IDF&G had a real opportunity to make inroads with conservation groups and build some trust, with very little to lose. Some time you’ll have to explain the politics of that decision to me.

        In the meantime, I think it is important to note that the sky is not falling, despite the rhetoric we hear. Eventually this issue will resolve itself in the courts, and then states might wish that they’d left wolf management to the feds. Perhaps Wyoming has had it right all along?! 😉

  11. PointsWest Avatar

    So if South Dakota decided to allow wolves to live in the Black Hills (and nowhere else in their state), this would be less than 10% of the state. So are we asserting that only allowing wolves into the small area of the Black Hills would be ILLEGAL and that once South Dakota had a pair of wolves inside of the state, they would (by God, ethics, natural law, and the ESA) be forced to allow wolves to roam UNFETTERED out to its rectangular state borders?

  12. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Oh, wonderful . Competing decisions from federal judges who rule in opposite directions. When they dd this with the Yellowstone snowmobile-Winter Use Plan , all it did was prolong the misery and generate more lawsuits and more legal actions and more appeals and resulted in some ridiculous ‘march in place’ interim plans that please nobody.

    With wolves, it would appear that ALL management will revert to the Feds while this is sorted out, meaning FWS and our old friends Wildlife Services. I have mixed feelings about that.

    Regardless it’s off to the Emerald City to the Court of Appeals. The Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery program will not be finally resolved till it gets to the US Supreme Court years from now.

    But really , do you know who wins when us humans can’t sort it out ?— the wolves, that’s who. One more relatively unencumbered breeding and denning season assured.

    1. WM Avatar

      Actually it is off to the Mile High City (Denver), since WY is in the 10th Circuit, as JB pointed out earlier. an appeal follows. The 9th Circuit (which includes MT and ID) sits in San Francisco, and is the most overturned circuit court of the 11 regional appellate courts in the federal court system.

      At some point it just might wind up with the Supremes, and that should give no comfort to anyone, with its wacky composition and recent reputation for providing little guidance while writing reams and reams of paper (under Chief Justice Roberts who proclaims unanimity as a goal and gets 5/4 decisions with regularity).

      1. PointsWest Avatar

        I do not see these decisions being in conflict. They are decisions regarding different areas of law. What happens next is that the FWS will need reconsider Wyoming’s plan. Who is going to appeal this…the FWS? I don’t think so.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    It doesn’t seem to me like this decision will make much difference on the ground for a while. The judge didn’t order USFWS to turn over management to Wyoming or approve the Wyoming wolf plan.

  14. Ken Cole Avatar

    I don’t have a copy of the opinion but would sure like to see it. I agree with Ralph, this doesn’t really change anything on the ground since the judge cannot order the USFWS to accept Wyoming’s plan. They just have to provide rationalization one way or the other for accepting it or rejecting it. I still find it likely that they will reject it but you never know. Either way, someone will find the decision arbitrary.

    Personally, the plan itself seems arbitrary and contrary to the ESA. I think it’s a bad plan. Judging by the past, I’m guessing Salazar will order them to accept it.

    I also have to say that I’m not surprised by this ruling from this court. As we all know, ranchers have ruled Wyoming since the 19th century.

  15. Mike Avatar

    Important to note that neither court decision requires the USFWS to accept the Wyoming plan, and that the wolf is still on the “list”.

    1. PointsWest Avatar

      But the likely outcome is that the FWS will re-review Wyoming’s plan and approve it and then recommend wolves be delisted again. DW might bring a new lawsuit but in the meantime wolves will be delisted.

      Then if DW wins some new lawsuit and the wolves are relisted again, Congress is going to step in and revise the ESA as they probably should. It would be a mockery of the law system if DW gets them re-listed for a 2nd time.

      1. Save bears Avatar

        What are you talking about, they have already got them re-listed a 2nd time, if they get de-listed and re-listed again it will be the third time, if that were to happen, I am positive you would see congressional action..

      2. Mike Avatar

        ++Congress is going to step in and revise the ESA as they probably should++

        No they really shouldn’t.

      3. SAP Avatar

        SB – I think they got de-listed only ONCE in WY? Twice in ID-MT, but without WY the 2d time (hence the Molloy ruling).

      4. Save bears Avatar


        I stand corrected, sorry, I forgot the way this mess is all going…

        But I agree, before it is all over, I strongly suspect, we will see it in the Supreme court as well as Congressional action being taken..and that is not saying I agree or disagree, but at this point in time I don’t see it happening any other way..

      5. jon Avatar

        There are some who want the esa gone totally. Some want it revised and changed to keep wolves off of it forever. I want wolves protected just as any other pro wolf advocate, but you can’t keep them on the endangered species list forever. Lawsuits keep getting filed and those wolf haters will just eventually take the law into their own hands. If lawsuits keep getting filed, it is only going to be 100 times worse for wolves. The wolves are the ones that are going to pay and lose in this battle. Organizations like dow who continue to file lawsuits are getting wolves killed when wolf haters decide enough is enough and it’s time to start killing wolves legal or not.

      6. Mike Avatar

        I’m not sure it makes sense to blame DOW for unhappy extremists who kill wolves.

      7. jon Avatar

        What I mean Mike is filing lawsuits is only going to make wolf haters more angry about wolves and make them want to go out and kill wolves. Whether there is a hunt or not, wolves will still be killed by extreme wolf haters. I don’t think there is a whole lot we can do to stop them from killing wolves illegally if they decide to do that. They know they will be fined if caught, but some of them hate wolves so much, they are willing to take that risk. As much as I would like wolves protected forever, I don’t think they can remain on the endangered species list forever.

      8. PointsWest Avatar

        I believe the answer is to get people to accept and appreciate them and not to cram wolves down throats with heavy handed laws and ever so clever legal tactics.

        Wolves are probably in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to stay. If things go well for a few years, other states might want them in certain remote areas. I can see no reason why wolves need to be everywhere.

        I still believe the greater issue is preservation of habbitat. I believe more large areas should be designated and set aside for wolves, grizzlies, wolverines, bison, etc. We need very large contiguous areas of wilderness (such as the GYE)where human activities are restricted and the preservation of wildlife, including large predators, has priority over almost all else. I don’t mean these areas need to be off limits to humans, (fishing, hunting, certain types of mining, some grazing, some logging), these areas just need to be managed by different parameters and to different objectives….future objectives. Objectives a thousand years or even ten thousand years from now.

  16. WM Avatar

    Courtesy of Jeremy Pelzer, author of the piece that started this thread, Judge Johnson’s opinion is now available at:


    Click on the obviously captioned link at top left.

  17. Nancy Avatar

    Is it just me or are there a few other heads spinning?

    15 + years later and I’m still waiting for the “hordes” of vicious, not to mention HUGE (according to the chopped and photo shopped photos out there on the net, man-eating, livestock & wildlife, consuming) wolves to descend on my area. 🙂

    1. jon Avatar

      Nancy, I am curious, what part of Montana are you from and where you are living now, is there much anti wolf sentiment from your neighbors or where you live? Does anyone give you any problems for being a wolf advocate?

  18. jon Avatar

    Not to change the subject, but this has been bothering me for a minute and I am trying to find out if this is legit or not. Any personal opinions and input is good.


    Some are saying this wolf was 197 pounds and others are saying it’s 235 pounds. Wouldn’t a man have trouble holding up an animal that big? Has this wolf’s weight been verified? Some have said it’s a photoshopped pic and the wolf wasn’tt anywhere close to 200 pounds, but who knows.

    1. ProWolf in WY Avatar
      ProWolf in WY

      This is one of those pictures that goes all over the web. I have seen people claim it was shot in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, and Canada. I have a feeling this picture is photoshopped much like the one with the guys on snowmobiles with the two big wolves.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Yes, as ProWolf in WY says it has been all over the web for a year or more.

      You can “grow” or “shrink” the size of objects in Photoshop. You can always make a wolf look big by holding it up too. That’s because of the length of the legs. A wolf with a winter coat looks a lot bigger than their summer fur.

      I have been wondering if the bragging-poacher-photos sent to Idaho Fish and Game (the deer and the pronghorn) might not be photoshopped. The photos might even be of live animals with a few things added.

      1. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        some time back I posted a e-mail here that I posed the question about this wolf to the Canadian fish and game dept. in Alberta concerning this pic. Not only did they have no record of this wolf, but also had no record of the two people that supposedly killed it. Probably my post can be found with the e-mail if any one really wants to.
        but here is a link to a site where people who hunt quite a bit express disbelief. In my considered opinion, can you say photoshop


      2. James Mars Avatar
        James Mars

        Holding a wolf up in front of a person can make a wolf look as heavy as the person – even without photoshop. So I don’t think it is photoshopped. But I did notice
        1) We don’t know height of the man . The median height for men in the United States (I don’t know where this picture was taken) is 5′ 8.5″. Half of men are shorter than this height. Some men are much shorter.
        2) The man is holding the wolf up as high as himself, but a lot of that height are its legs and tail are hanging down below its body. But legs and tail and on a wolf weigh squat.
        3) The man is not standing at quite his full height. His knees are slightly bent and he is leaning little bit back.
        4) Importantly, the wolf is in between the man and the camera. For example, if the camera was perhaps 10 feet away from the wolf, and the frontside of the wolf is 1.5 feet in front of the frontside of the man, then the camera would make the wolf look a scale of 1.15 times normal scale in one dimension. Which would give of an appearance of 1.52 times normal volume and weight.
        6) But most of all, wolves are much, much skinnier than they appear. Its apparent weight is inflated because of all that thick practically weightless fur. The discrepancy in apparent size is especially bad when the wolf is in its winter coat like this one is. So if a wolf which appears to looks the same volume as a person is such as this one is actually much, much less. People who estimate the weights of wolves without adjusting for this usually make weight estimations between 1.6 to 1.8 times the actual weight of the wolf.

        This is trick photography to make a normally sized wolf look large, combined with gross overestimation of how much wolf there is under all that fur.
        I would guess 125-130 pounds if the man is of median height (5′ 8.5″).

        Here is a thread which has a couple pictures of other people holding wolves up. One image has an almost-as-large-looking wolf held in front of a man. His wolf was actually only 126 pounds. But this man was larger than median height (5′ 10″), if he were median height then his wolf would look enormous also.

      3. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        Take that first pic in the thread that James posted and blow it up to about 400%. Focus in on the outstretched leg of the wolf and then stand back a bit. is it just me or are there “stripes” on that leg that mysteriously correspond with the tree trunks in the back round. hmmm.
        As I said the Alberta fish and game dept. had no record of either this wolf or the two individuals that supposedly shot it near Drayton valley according to the e-mail from them and posted here I think about last spring.

    3. timz Avatar

      I have a legit picture of a man in Alaska that is 5’11” , 185 lbs holding a wolf in similar fashion. Most folks guess the weight at over 150 lbs, when in fact it weighed 120.

      1. timz Avatar

        I have seen at least a half dozen stories about where and who shot that wolf over the past couple years. It was hanging in our local grocery for a while captioned that it was shot near Sun Valley while killing sheep.

      2. jon Avatar

        I think some will exaggerate the weights of the wolves they kill for bragging rites. I believe that some pictures of wolves are purposely manipulated to make it look like the wolves are much bigger than what they actually are. A 120 pound wolf might look like a 200 pound wolf to some if you zoom in on the picture. I know there was a 18 year old hunter who bagged 130 pound wolf in Idaho a few months ago and claimed it was a 180 pound wolf when he never even weighed it. He just assumed it was 180 pounds when it actually turned out it was 50 pounds less. I contacted numerous biologists and they told me they have never seen any wolf themselves over 140 pounds and if anyone says they did, they are lying. I remember one hunter saying a while ago there was a 300 pound wolf shot in Wyoming.

    4. ProWolf in WY Avatar
      ProWolf in WY

      James, you are right that it is not too hard to make something look bigger than it is when you pose with it. I’m sure everyone who hunts knows to hold an animal’s head up with your hands as far below the horns/antlers to make it look bigger. The photographer should also stand back to make the animal look big by filling up most of the frame with it. That didn’t cross my mind. 🙂

    5. howlcolorado Avatar

      Wolves weigh about 85lbs when female and 100lbs when male. One “side effect” of a hunting season is that they tend to track things like weight – as they did during the 2009 Idaho wolf hunt. Out of 188 wolves shot and weighed, only one wolf reached 130lbs and animals in that weight range are remarkably rare for the standard gray wolf. Arctics tend to be quite a bit larger, probably averaging about 15% heavier than their gray wolf cousins.

      Wolves are very lengthy for their weight though. They can easily be close to 3 feet at the shoulder and 6 feet or taller on their hind legs while still only weighing around about 110lbs. So photos will be misleading, especially if the wolf has it’s winter coat.

      And, of course, photoshop is easy to get hold of and photos are easily manipulated. So you can’t really trust anything you see.

  19. Nancy Avatar

    jon Says:
    November 19, 2010 at 7:26 PM
    Nancy, I am curious, what part of Montana are you from and where you are living now, is there much anti wolf sentiment from your neighbors or where you live? Does anyone give you any problems for being a wolf advocate?

    Jon, its been a long week, I’m bone tired, so I’ll catch up with you in the am regarding your questions.

  20. Nancy Avatar

    Jon – I think I’ve mentioned before that I moved here from the east (one of those dreaded out-of-staters!) Southwest Montana has been my home for almost 20 years. The ranchers around me think it was a bad idea to have brought wolves back but I don’t run in their circles so I’m not sure just how loud they get about it. An outfitter in my area has made no bones about the fact that he hates wolves. They are competition.

    I don’t announce my feelings about wolves being back ( the evolution bumper sticker – ape to man – probably pisses enough people off 🙂 but I do voice my opinion when the topic comes up. Its a small community and many are related in one way or another to ranching thru family, jobs or business.