Wolf bills are probably dead

Will they emerge in the next Congress?

Due to the gridlock in Congress, the bills to sidestep the endangered species act seem to be dead in the current lame duck session of Congress.

Wolf bills unlikely to advance this Congress. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press

On the surface it would seem like the reactionary* new Congress will be fertile ground for attacks on the ESA, but a government shutdown, attacks on social security and medicare, might cause so much conflict that lesser things will not move.

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*Today’s poplar political rhetoric is impoverished. The word “radical” is freely applied to all kinds of views a person or groups don’t agree with. However, long historical use is for extreme left wing measures to be called “radical,” while extreme right wing attempts to move backwards beyond conservative are called “reactionary.”



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  1. Phil Maker Avatar
    Phil Maker

    Maybe for this year, but don’t count this proposed legislation out in 2011.

    1. WM Avatar


      It will begin anew in early January with the R’s holding majority in the 112th Session. Not sure why Matt Brown chose to couch the article as he did. Seems the chances of things moving forward on ESA legislation (wolves or otherwise) will have a new dynamic, which increases, rather than decreases probability of closer review – at least in the House. The Senate might be even more receptive as well, after this mid-term spanking the D’s took.

      I just hope if anything comes of this, it gets thought through completely, and is not some knee-jerk (emphasis on the jerk part) response to the wolf delisting fiasco as it has played out thus far in light all the wolf advocacy lawsuits.

      1. JB Avatar

        I would not be surprised to see legislation on wolves make it out of the House–especially given the new, anti-federal government freshman class. However, I just can’t see legislation on wolves making to the light of day (i.e., out of committee) in the Senate.

      2. WM Avatar

        I wonder what Al Franken (MN – Independent but aligned with D’s) will have to say, since he seems to want to represent farming interests – at least when he was campaigning in his very tight election. The MN agricultural lobby has taken a pretty strong stand and has stated the MN wolves need delisting.

      3. JB Avatar

        Just googled Al Franken and wolves and can’t find that he has taken a position. In fact, most of what I got were stories about the “T-wolves” (Minnesota’s NBA team). As I have suggested before, I think Minnesotans have more important things to worry about.

      4. WM Avatar

        It seems Franken likes price supports (there are those nasty federal farming subsidy issues again) for dairy farmers and acknowledges the difficult competitive environment for farming in MN, and the problems facing rural communities.

      5. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        “The senate might be even more receptive as well, after the spanking the D’s took”.
        I’m curious why you think after the worst obstructionism in our history you think the Dems will suddenly work with the Republican Senate? The Republicans did not win this election because the people think they are great at governing, to the contrary, people want jobs and the economy to recover. People will vote right back Democratic if the Republicans try to pass their repeal of the Health Care Law, Stripping of regulatory oversight including the ESA, as well as their desire to cut entitlements. Extend tax cuts for millionaires, but leave unemployed people hanging with no benefits! Sounds like Republican Policy

      6. Ryan Avatar

        I think the repeal of the health care bill promise is what got many republican canidates elected. You seem as out of touch as the recently unemployed democrat senators and representatives.

      7. WM Avatar


        Do not be so quick to guess my politics, or desires for positive change. I was very disappointed at the R takeover in the House (including the dynamics of frustration and lack of motivation of the D party mid-term apathy), and maybe what that means to all kinds of legislation that has passed in the last two years. The American voter is too fickle for the challenges we currently face as a nation. We do not need to repeat these last two years (actually longer, given the crap that investment banking, sub-prime mortgage and monetary policy crap that created this toxic stew even during the party-on Clinton years). We need to stay the course, for at least another two years (really another 6), to see if some of these very recent changes can work.

        Of most concern to me on the economic front is that what little control has been asserted over investment banking and Wall St. will be reversed, possibly softened substantially in the rule writing arena, which is the avenue of implementation (just listened to a lengthy NPR segment on this very topic). And, we know how administrations can make sweeping change without ever passing another law, just by tweaking rules. If the D’s don’t pull off another Presidential win in two years and regain House, it could be just as bad as it was without the new laws in this area.

        That brings up the Senate. Since 1/3 will face re-election during the Presidential election, those who want to retain their seats (D or R) will begin immediate posturing, testing the political winds for survival (not what is best for the Country). Whether that means this next Session of Congress is immune from critical review by voters (for example repeal of health care), I am not qualified to say. Voters have such short memories.

        And, we are going to pay for these entitlement programs, exactly how?

        Maybe Ralph can offer some thoughts here.

      8. WM Avatar

        And Nancy Pelosi continuing as Speaker could risk a second term for Obama. The pendelum will swing further to the right once again, in retaliation. Centrists are likely to vote R if they see the D’s doing more stupid things, especially with Pelosi leading the charge. I just don’t think the D’s get it – but they are “staying true to their principles.” Brian, are you reading this?


      9. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        The problem with the Democrats is their messaging. Early on in the Health care debate the Sara Palin types used fear tactics to try to scare seniors into the “death panel” scenario. Or using words like “job killing” before the stimulus bill and people believe this crap. I remember hearing about a poll that said almost half of our population had no idea that the Republicans had taken over the House! Do you see the potential people that will lead the Energy Committee? Very scary! The tax issue is a perfect example. Everyone knows the Republican claims of “Uncertainty” and how the top 2% are the job creators is BOGUS- just look at the example of the last ten years as proof- yet people fall for this misinformation- you have to give the Republicans credit- they are very good at messaging usually BOGUS misinformation!

      10. Ryan Avatar

        I’ve never worked for a poor person, neither have anyone I know.

      11. JB Avatar


        The problem is that wealth is increasingly concentrated at the very top, which gives these people an inordinate amount of influence, threatening democracy as we know it.



      12. WM Avatar

        JB is correct. And by the way, more and more investment capital is coming into the business market as private equity groups buy up publicly traded corporations to avoid SEC dislosure requirements. That is even scarier.

        I recall the quote from multi-millionaire NY real estate investor and hotelier Leona Helmsley, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

        We can thank the uber-rich for the sub-prime mortgage problems and Wall St. melt-down (credit default swaps where investment bankers and AIG were all insuring each others risks outside the view of regulators, creating a house of cards that fell quickly). Then who pays for it and suffers most – the middle class.

        What is the reaction? The non-wealthy conservatives, some of whom became centrist in search of change, initially voted with the D’s. They then got impatient that Obama couldn’t fix in two years problems that had taken a dozen years or more to be created, out of frustration immediately aligned with the Tea Party, and we have the election results from earlier this month. This, of course, worked to the advantage of the uber-rich conservatives and their agenda.

        Having too much wealth in the hands of too few is dangerous to the model that built America, and it is getting worse.

        Ryan, you really need to think this through.

      13. Ryan Avatar


        In my industry, the people with the money make things happen. Courtesy clerks and Waitresses don’t exactly build multi million dollar commercial projects. I won’t rule out the argument that they contribute, but the average below middle class citizen doesn’t contribute much beyond the pure basic industries.
        For example Measure 67 in Oregon ended my vehicle allowance as it did for many other small to midsize corporations. Now that that income is lost, I have added it as a write off on my federal taxes and everyone loses.

      14. Ryan Avatar


        Just as an interesting side note, the states that voted Mc Cain Average nearly 3% less unemployment than pro Obama states.

      15. JB Avatar

        “…the average below middle class citizen doesn’t contribute much beyond the pure basic industries.”

        That’s an interesting point Ryan. With wealth increasingly concentrated at the top, more and more people will fall below the “average” middle-class citizen. So by your own logic, the conservative politics that have driven this increase in wealth disparity are causing fewer and fewer people to be productive.

  2. Salle Avatar

    in light all the wolf advocacy lawsuits.

    Litigation is the most effective tool against bad legislation and other policies allowed us by the Constitution, by the way…

    Perhaps the main reason that the ESA still stands to this day given all the attacks by folks like the Bu$h.Cheney league.

  3. montucky Avatar

    Perhaps too, those who proposed this legislation and pushed for it have already reaped their political gains from that alone.

  4. JimT Avatar

    Couldn’t agree more, Salle. There are a whole spectrum of tools to use for environmental protection and preservation..education, lobbying, legislation, withdrawals, and litigation. All have their place, sometimes alone, sometimes in concert. And as contentious as litigation can get, especially in these political and legal times, it is still the most bang for your buck, so to speak.

    From what I read in the article, Baucus and Tester have not thought this through in any science based manner; Baucus’ proposed remedy is just pandering to the ranchers and other vested interests that put him in office each election time. Wyoming’s solution is ludicrous; that judge’s ruling could only come from that state.

    1. WM Avatar


      Have you read Johnson’s opinion, yet. Good history of how WY and FWS got from point A to point B. All he said in the way of a ruling was that FWS needs to document the reasoning of how they went from approval to disapproval to approval of the WY plan. From what I read, that was pretty much it. So, how is that not a good legal ruling?

      1. Jeff Avatar

        I agree, both Johnson and Molloy’s rulings have been misconstrued by folks of both sides.

      2. WM Avatar

        Sorry. The post above should read “…disapproval to approval to disapproval of the WY plan….”

      3. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        “…disapproval to approval to disapproval …”
        pretty easy. obviously conflicts with ESA—dick Kempthorne becomes S of I and approves plan without any substantiation of fact——-overturned by court due to kempthorne being pretty much incompetent.

  5. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Somewhat at a tangent here, the sparse staff of AP reporters in the northern Rockies are woefully inadequate at reporting wildlife and especially endangered species stories. They almost always disappoint, and their lack of background knowledge and scientific savvy is a detriment. Due to lack of funding and too many topics to cover in too little time over too great an area, stories about wildlife and endangered species get treated superficially . No depth , no breadth, and too often the AP reports are skewed off the topic line.

    This is symptomatic of journalism nationwide, but especially in public policy reporting where the base issue needs some scientific understanding to be done properly. The frustrating thing is, AP is owned by all the newspapers and media outlets that use the stuff. They are a wire service “pool” . It’s an interchange for , say , a smalltown paper to pull in some regional news to windowdress its pages. AP reporters spend more time rewriting smalltown news stories and condensing it than they do in actual original newsgathering. When they actually do go out and cover a story as an actuality, it’s done generically. They are not investigative reporters, their job description is to stick to the basics and keep it short and to the point.

    Wildlife and endangered species reporting slips through the cracks at the AP. Unfortunately , it’s where too much of our reporting emanates. GIGO.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      With the collapse of newspaper reporting in general, it was suggested to me that blogs have become much more important to the public’s knowledge, especially when the alternative is a 24-hour disinformation machine like Fox News.

      This made me take this blog more seriously, rather than something I’d shut down when I lost interest. That’s one reason we have 3 webmaster now rather than myself.

      This blog has a viewpoint, but I hope there are things that people of any point of view can learn here.

      1. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        I absolutely see the benefit of blogs, but there’s definitely the same manipulation of information going on with sites like Drudge and the Huffington Post that there is with Fox News and MSNBC. It’s difficult for a prudent person to sift through everything and truly have a well-informed opinion.

        Unfortunately, after reading thousands upon thousands of posts from commentors on blogs like the Drudge and HP, it seems to me that people still only see what they want to see, instead of truly taking advantage of the access to an abundance of information that we now posess.

        But maybe I’m just a cynic………..

      2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

        Daniel Berg,

        I think it is crucial that blogs or other media that allow comments need to be moderated. Otherwise there is no real discussion and no generation of knowledge.

        I see the discussions on Huffington Post and most others are not moderated or so lightly so that it is worthless.

  6. emfdvm Avatar

    Honestly, with the current state of the economy and general lack of interest in wildlife issues, I’d be surprised if anyone said anything besides “who cares.” For most people, this is not even on the radar and they will think it’s merely a distraction from Really Important Issues. Even here in MN, wolves haven’t made much news lately except when someone’s dog goes missing. At one level, I can understand that, since not having a job or losing your home is certainly a more immediate problem. As long as things don’t get worse because people just refuse to care.


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.

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