Idaho governor says wolf delisting push stalled last Monday on population goal, other details

It shows that Otter never intended to follow IDFG’s management plan.

Otter once again shows us that the state never intended to manage wolves with an eye toward science. He always intended to manage for the minimum number identified in the legislative plan and that the IDFG plan was meaningless just as we have always maintained.

I haven’t seen the proposed legislation anywhere else except here. It was being passed around via email by those who opposed having any protections for wolves and supported bills like the one introduced by Orin Hatch of Utah which removes all wolves, even Mexican wolves, from the ESA. Groups such as the once moderate Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation were opposed to the Baucus/Tester bill because it provided even a modicum of protection.

As Brian Ertz has pointed out on another thread, it’s not that the Endangered Species Act doesn’t provide for a clear path to delist wolves, it is that the states don’t want to provide that regulatory framework to ensure that wolves won’t become endangered again once delisting occurs.

I really can’t imagine that this behavior will help them to resolve this issue if attempts to change the ESA or delist wolves through legislation are unsuccessful. They have certainly lifted the veil. This will all be seen by the judges during the appeal process and it surely demonstrates that they are unwilling to provide any level of protection to wolves once they become delisted. They seem to be playing a high stakes game of chicken and I don’t expect that wolf advocates are going to blink here.

Again though, wolf advocates are being blamed for this impasse and called extremists for insisting that wolves be managed using careful science rather than politics. It seems to me that those who want to bypass science and use only politics are the extremists.

Who is moving the goal posts now?

Idaho governor says wolf delisting push stalled last Monday on population goal, other details
Associated Press.
If you oppose bypassing science for political convenience I still recommend calling your senator or representative to oppose even this legislation. This bill would fundamentally change how endangered species would be handled if they become inconvenient in some way. The precedence would fit the slippery slope argument quite well considering the intense pressure against the Endangered Species Act.

I suggest calling your representative, and senators to register your opposition any legislation that removes wolves from the ESA.

Take Action for Wolves & the ESA Now:

Contact Your U.S. Senator

Contact Your Congressional Representative

Tell them to protect the Endangered Species Act

Contact the White House

Tell President Obama to protect the Endangered Species Act


  1. Phil Avatar

    This is a great point in the long term plan of Wolves from government officials in Montana and Idaho. I thought there was no real number quote that would help sustain a healthy Wolf population for years to come when I learned that with each year the quote, if the hunts continued, would increase to eventual near extinction in the lower 48 states.

  2. Bob Avatar

    In Montana 2009 the year started with 500 wolves hunters and wildlife services killed 254 the year ended with 524 known wolves. What impact did hunters have?

  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    You miss the entire point. It’s not about the status of wolves now. It’s about whether a fundamental requirement of the ESA has been met and that is the requirement that their be adequate protection once wolves become delisted. There isn’t and that is made clear by the actions and attitude of the state of Idaho who for years has been saying to us through its IDFG has been telling us that it would manage wolves using science under the plan which I watched them suspend last week. That plan would have manged for 518-700 wolves.

    We here always asserted that they wouldn’t honor that plan and would ditch it the first chance they got in favor of the legislature’s plan which commits to maintain only a token population. We were only wrong in one respect. We guessed they would wait until wolves were delisted. They didn’t. They did it last week once they found out that the legislative fix they so desperately desired would hold them to the IDFG plan.

    They never intended to follow that plan because the only binding document was the legislature’s plan not the IDFG’s plan. It was all a cynical ruse that they thought the public was too stupid to figure out.

    Again, you need to do more research before you go spouting off about your anti-wolf talking points.

    1. Dave Avatar

      By the way, since Idaho has never been allowed to manage the wolves. You cannot prove or provide any evidence that Idaho never intended to manage them as per agreement. You are just spouting unsubstantiated baloney, to increase controversy and raise more funds to litigate in court. To bad those funds aren’t spent on habitat, a much more worthy function.

      1. Save bears Avatar

        Actually Dave, Both Montana and Idaho have been allowed to manage wolves, twice now, and they were both allowed to have legal hunting seasons for wolves. And don’t get me wrong, I agree, it is time to delist and manage, and the non-profits are using this issue to raise massive amounts of funds..but again, there was no agreement on maximum numbers, the 150/15 was simply a number to trigger a certain other words


  4. Dave Avatar

    Wow, whose science are talking about? Idaho has tried in- numerable times to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the wolf advocates to delist the wolves. Each time, more was needed. The original agreement was to allow 150 wolves in Idaho. At those low numbers, measure ARE needed to ensure that wolves survive. However, 150 wasn’t enough, 300 wasn’t enough, 500 or 700 or even 1000 aren’t enough. Additionally, 11 of Idaho 29 elk management units are now under populations goals and Idaho is not allowed to control predation or even monitor the wolf population in some units. So, by action, by deception and failure to meet the intent of wolf reintroduction THE WOLF ADVOCATE ARE THE ONES THAT HAVE SHOWN THAT SCIENCE DOES NOT MATTER. Wolves reproduce at rate of 20-30% a year. They have spread to oregon, Washington, Colorado and maybe even Utah. If you value the wolf and the wildlife instead of the controversy and litigation you will realize it is time to delist and allow the states to manage their wildlife population as thay have successfully done for decades. The wolf controversy illustrates perfectly what is wrong with the ESA. It is about controversy, litigation and fund raising to line the pockets of environmental groups and attorneys. Very little is spent on habitat or winter range which would benefit all species. The wolves have to eat, so protecting the deer and elk herds is important if you value the wolf. Of course, once the wolves destroy the elk and hunting seasons have to be curtailed, the true aim of wolf reintroduction will be revealed. Again, Idaho has tried again and again to be allowed to manage the wolves to no avail. The wolf is not a fragile animal from 15 to over 1000 in Idaho alone in 15 years has proven that. Delist the wolves or dismantle the ESA both would be better in my opinion. The holy grail that the ESA is held up to be, is more about fund raising and earning money in the courts than protecting wildlife.

    1. Bob Avatar

      Once again you hit the nail on the head. The whole issue is money, Defenders claims all this money they send on stopping wolf depredation and compensation, yet our local water shed group spends more money on wolves and grizzle issue than Defenders spent in the whole state of Montana. Also where has Defenders ran or started a carcass pick-up program if anyone knows?

    2. Mtn Mama Avatar
      Mtn Mama

      Dave- I dont have the time to read your post in its entire but can tell you that wolves have not “Spread to Colorado”. Dont know where you came up with that one.
      Just to clarify….
      2 confirmed wolves have made it to CO
      *293F (Swan Lake Pack) killed by car in Idaho Springs,CO in June 2004.
      *341F (Mill Creek Pack) found dead “under suspicious circumstances” near Rifle,CO April 2009.
      2 dead wolves hardly constitute a population in Colorado.

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar

    i can certainly sympathize with and possibly share the sentiment that the wolf issue has been turned into a fundraiser for some groups …

    that said, i can certainly attest to the fact that some groups also invest many more funds than they receive on behalf of this charismatic species (i work for one such group).

    Regardless – generalizing this as some sort of principle motive behind the deal is absurd. There are very real and technical matters at play that impact the integrity of the ESA and what that means (and will mean) biologically, on the ground, for any number of species.

    all too often it seems that so many make their decision about the merit of continuing this struggle more out of exhaustion, wanting this controversy to be over and to just move on. After all, there are what most consider to be a “recovered” population of wolves from a population perspective … right ?

    Right. but how about “tolerance” ? wasn’t that a part of the recovery objectives as well ? how about the idea that you don’t hand a success story to a group of people who are hell-bent on squandering that success ?

    i’ve often gotten tired of the wolf debate … from my perspective, it’s often seemed as much a struggle getting people to look at the pertinent issues and hold their advocacy with some kind of conviction … most of the monied wolf advocates out there certainly don’t seem pre-occupied with making things work on the ground in a rational, public-interested way. After all, the political and organizational dynamics are anything but rational – and the controversy promised anybody willing to stand up and point at the irrational fundamentals is daunting. it’s frustrating … overwhelming at times …

    when i ask myself – is it worth it ? is it worth continuing to stand up and insist on a lawful administration of the Act, a lawful delisting Rule ?… a meaningful Recovery that we can be assured will persist, as the law clearly intends ?… i inevitably come down on the side of YES … because when i look out onto a landscape of wolves and think about the way that they’re being managed – even under 10(j), i know that it isn’t right … it’s not right … and the bottom line is that the way i was brought up, one of the biggest things i learned was that it’s almost always best to do a thing right the first time – even when it seems to the bone like it’d be easier to let go short of that.

    turning management over to the states at this point would be a huge experiment and a giant misstep on the part of anyone who’s interested in a long-term recovery of wolves in the NRM. it’s setting recovery up to fail – and can you imagine the fall-out when these volatile political players over-reached (which, if we’re to be honest, is just short of a certainty) and it became necessary to push to list again ?

    let’s insist on it being done right the first time. in the long run, that’s the right thing to do.

    1. Bob Avatar

      You believe the population can fall that far. It took decades to kill them off the first time. I,ve been around them for more than 15 years now they inhabit every spot in the valley. I hunted them 2009, I personally don’t see a population fall, Idaho didn,t even make their 2009 quote on the first year. This year wolves were much more elusive than last year. These are the smartest animals in the valley.

    2. Dave Avatar

      I don’t understand how you can see turning management over to the states as a huge exeriment. They have been successfully managing wildlife for over a hundred years now. The states are frustrated to no end, because they do not have any control anymore in their own state! No matter how noble the wolf is, it does not deserve this exalted status at the expense of all the other wildlife! It just doesn’t make any sense what so ever to allow the wolf to grow exponentially and destroy its own food source. If Idaho was allowed to control and manage the wolf population, the wolf would become accepted. At the turn of the century, this was a different country, the demographics were totally different. The population, did not want the wolf or the bear or the mountain lion, so they were reduced/eliminated. It’s different now. The population demographics have changed, attitudes have changed. The bear is accepted, successfully managed to maintain a huntable population, reduced in specific areas if necessary to ensure balance among all the species. It is the same with the mountain lion and it will be the same with the wolf, if it is delisted and allowed to be managed. From your statment, your dislike of the 10j rule, you are saying delist the wolf, but don’t manage it, let the mother nature takes its course. Why do you dislike the rest of the wildlife the deer, elk, mountain lion and bear? The wolf is the top of the food chain, the king of the predators, it will eliminate the competition and kill of its primiary food source. Everyone keeps pointing their fingers at Idaho and saying we will eliminate them. What would that accomplish? Not a damn thing except forcing the relisting of the wolf. The wolf reintroduction has been a huge success, why turn it into a battleground? Delist the wolf, allow it to be managed, hunted and accepted as a game animal. Idaho’s back is against the wall you are forcing them to strike out with what ever means they can. The wolf is being turned in to a symbol of everything bad about an over controlling government and the ESA. This is the wrong way! The wolf was gone from the landscape for almost one hundred years, look what has happened in a short 15. This is not a fragile creature like the grizzly bear or the condor, it can reproduce at 20-30% a year!!

  6. Mike Koeppen Avatar

    Unfortunately, Idaho politicians have made numerous inflammatory statements that certainly don’t sound like they intend rational and reasonable management of wolves. This, added on to actions like the radio collaring of wolves in the Frank Church, make people very suspicious of Idaho’s ultimate motives. In addition, there were all the “beer glass” raising incidents going on when some hunter shot a wolf last year. This immaturity by “hunters” towards what should be a considered a big game species certainly doesn’t help their cause. Then the talk of trapping and denning wolves came up, probably because Idaho hunters weren’t as successful as IDFG wanted. Add all this with incendiary statements by terrorists like Bridges and Gillet, and no wonder wolf advocates are nervous turning management over to Idaho without the number minimums contained in the Testor/Baucus Bill. 150 wolves in Idaho is not reasonable. Finally, I’ve personally heard enough people state, with pride, that they’d “gut shoot” any wolf they see, whether in or out of a hunting season. How mature and respectful of your quarry is that? The hunting community is their own worst enemy on the wolf issue, and they refuse to police their own ranks.

    1. Dave Avatar

      How many people have you heard say kill a hunter save a wolf? It goes both ways. Allowing the wolf to become a game animal, managed and hunted is the best and quickest way to ensure its acceptance and long term stability. People like to hunt, if they see their hunting opportunites being taken away they have a right to be ticked off. The wolf will destroy its primary food source if allowed to grow unchecked. The hunting community has worked very hard since the early 1900’s to ensure balanced and huntable populations of all game species. The wolf is destroying decades of effort and generations of hunting.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        Though it has probably been said, I’ve never read it or heard it– “kill a hunter save a wolf.”

        One of the major reasons I think wolves did so well expanding their population in Idaho was the side effects of the elk and deer hunt.

        The hunts left lots of gut piles just at the time when wolf nutrition is naturally at its worse — autumn. At that time, wolves’ prey is strong, hard to bring down. The wolf pups are big, but can’t hunt and need a lot of food.

        I think it should be obvious that gut piles and wounded prey have saved many pups of the year from starvation. Wolves in places without hunts like Yellowston have had to struggle, especially after the first decade when there were many older elk and deer around.

  7. Ken Cole Avatar

    One could assume that Republicans would block the bill because, if passed, many would see that as helping Senator Tester during the next election. Republicans have blocked everything that they perceive would help Democrats and, since they have more radical bills out there, it seems a little unlikely that they would support a bill that is opposed by Otter. Besides it’s just another wedge issue that the Republicans can use to fund raise on and blame on Democrats. What would Republicans gain by passing something that they think would benefit Tester? Their track record would indicate that they don’t want to pass anything other than their most radical agenda.

    I’ve talked to many people about this, all of whom are opposed to legislatively delisting wolves, and nobody seems to know much about what is happening. Some say it’s imminent, others say it is dead.

    One thing is certain. Idaho doesn’t like the Baucus/Tester legislation. They want to maintain that there was some special deal to bypass the ESA even though there wasn’t. The ESA still applies.

    1. timz Avatar

      Ken I posted a story on another thread that speaks to what your referring to. Here is the link.

  8. Nancy Avatar

    *Of course, once the wolves destroy the elk and hunting seasons have to be curtailed, the true aim of wolf reintroduction will be revealed. The wolf is not a fragile animal from 15 to over 1000 in Idaho alone in 15 years has proven that*

    Where are you coming from Dave? When wolves numbered in the hundreds of thousands, they did not destroy the elk herds (although man did, I seem to recall)

    Here’s the REAL PROBLEM Dave:
    The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth, which was ratified by 58 member national academies in 1994, called the growth in human numbers “unprecedented”, and stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, were aggravated by the population expansion. (And I won’t hestitate to add to those concerns, what many in the science community have voiced for years: the ever increasing destruction of wildlife habitat because of human over population)

    At the time, the world population stood at 5.5 billion, and optimistic scenarios predicted a peak of 7.8 billion by 2050, a number that current estimates show will be reached around 2030.

    And Bob if you really think *These are the smartest animals in the valley* it might be time to start figuring out ways to live with them, instead of killing them off at every opportunity.
    I can understand dealing with problematic wolves, but wanton (defination #3 – unprovoked or malicious) killing of another species to satisfy a few, is just pathetic.

    1. Dave Avatar

      Well you have me there, you have been around a long time if you recall that man destroyed the elk populations…
      HMMm hundreds of thousands of wolves? Where did that come from? Wolves probably peaked during the buffalo hunting days when there were carcous’s everywhere to feed on.
      I don’t understand what your point is about the human population at all.
      First of all get rid of the cliche “balance of nature” and “mother nature”. Mother Nature is a very cruel and unbiased manager of wildlife. She manages by the rule of feast or famine and survival of the fittest to the extreme. Ungulates (deer, elk, antelope etc) will grow and expand until they destroy their habitat. Once they destroy their habitat there is a massive die off due to starvation and disease. The population will then take years and even decades to recover and grow again depending on how quickly the range recovers. Predators follow the same cycle.
      Ideally, they would keep each other in check, but that would require reasoning on their part, wouldn’t it? Wolves will expand, eat and destroy their primary food source until both populations crash. Then there will be a rebuilding period, it might be years, it might take decades. Lewis and Clark almost staved when crossing through northern Idaho. Their journal also recorded great expanses void of any game. Early native americans depended on these game populations for survival. Their populations and growth were also checked by these high’s and low’s. When man became farmers, is when our populations really started to grow. My point is this, hunters, Fish and Game departments across the country and across the globe have proven to be excellent at managing wildlife populations for balance. Balance, so that there are always plentitful populations for the public to enjoy seeing and hunting. Man did kill off most of the game in the US by the early 1900’s with unregulated hunting. But, we also learned, adjusted and now we as a whole enjoy more wildlife consistently than ever before. Manage and hunt the wolf, so it will be accepted by all and so that all the species can prosper. The wolf is not more important than the other wildlife, just another piece in the puzzle.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        This has been your first day on this blog.

        There are people here that reject hunting, and there are also plenty of hunters and people who are neutral about it.

        Personally, I think a wolf hunt will have to be part of any permanent settlement of this issue. The 2009 hunt did not harm the wolves much as far as I can tell. However, Montana, and especially Idaho, did not collect nearly as much information about the indirect effects of the hunting season as they should have. Their plans for the 2010 season showed not what we should expect, adjustments of the hunt, but simply an effort to kill lots of wolves in many ways. In the end, it didn’t matter, Judge Molloy relisted the wolves not because of the actions of Idaho and Montana governments, but Wyoming still with no acceptable wolf conservation plan.

        Most of the people in the government who were actually involved in the wolf reintroduction, people like Carter Niemeyer, were hunters. The conspiracy theory that wolf introduction was a plot to eliminate hunting is just that — a silly theory. Anti-hunters could certainly think up a more direct and effective method than wolves.

        I called Ed Bangs the other day, and asked what he’d been up to “Oh, out elk hunting, Ralph.”

      2. JimT Avatar

        Ralph, given the documentation of the clear intent by the states at issue to get rid of all wolves (ok, maybe a token pack population in Yellowstone but heaven help them if they leave the boundaries) either explicitly or in a defacto manner, I don’t see the pro wolf side accepting a wolf hunt as part of doing business. The burden is on the states and their ranching and trophy hunting interest groups to prove we can trust them. Until that happens, I don’t see it as part of a bargain that will be supported. Not with this mentality of “varmint” coloring every effort.

  9. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    It is too bad that everyone concerned does not take the time to read, understand, and comprehend what is involved to get wolves delisted. The biggest single roadblock to getting that done has always been Wyoming not coming up with an acceptable management plan. hd that happened the whole thing would more than likliy be in the rear view mirror by now.
    The population numbers would have proved out or not over the five year period of federal oversite of states management and the states ablity/intent to manage would have also been made clear by now.

    As far as lawsuits a couple things come to mind.
    If the law was not being broken a lawsuit would not be won and by what other means would one bring about compliance with the law that is being broken except by a lawsuit.

    1. Dave Avatar

      Lawsuits don’t require a law to be broken, just a sympathetic judge to agree with an argument you have about an action that is to take place. The lawsuits solve nothing, they don’t provide answers or plans, they just stop something from happening, usually after a lot of man hours and tax payer dollars have been spent on environmental impact studies. Lawsuits would great if they offered solutions, but they never due. Just find the right judge and 80% of the battle is won.

      1. Brian Ertz Avatar

        The lawsuits solve nothing, they don’t provide answers or plans, they just stop something from happening

        if the thing that’s being stopped is harmful to your interest, then stopping or stalling it with lawsuits certainly prevents harm. that’s good.

        Lawsuits would great if they offered solutions, but they never due.

        lawsuits don’t create solutions – they foster them … often that can mean something as simple as reminding decision-makers that the solution’s already there and that they need to apply it. One might also ask what good is creating a new “solution” if decision-makers fail (or refuse) to apply it ?

      2. JB Avatar


        The suits in question address ambiguities in the law itself and the decisions (usually) help to remove this ambiguity. The precedents they establish will ultimately foster a “smoother” delisting process in the future.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Finding the “right judge” certainly helps, but it is hard to do when you have a poor set of arguments on your side.

      I’m no fool who thinks judges are always neutral deciders of the law or of the facts, but neither are they just a pile of reflections of their biases.

      1. Dave Avatar

        Well if the lawsuits ultimately foster a smoother transition, I have yet to see it. From my point of view, there is a lot of money and time spent trying to create the ‘right plan” but that does not seem possible in this environment. At what point, do the people charged with managing our wildlife just give up, as their efforts go no where.
        Wyoming, does not want wolves in a major part of their state, why should Idaho be punished for that? You might as well punish us for what Canada does too or Minnesota for that matter. From the original intent of the 1995 reintroduction, wolves have expanded faster and farther that anyone predicted, a great success, they are now showing up in oregon and washington already.
        Give me a break, finding the right judge is the major factor in winning a court battle and the Federal court system foster that behavior.
        The wolf has shown it self to be a very adaptive animal, very hardy, intelligent with a high reproductive cycle.
        The possibility of it being eliminated or its population drastically effected is not possible in this environment and with the protections already written in. Give the states that have acceptable manaement plans the abiblity to manage the wolves and protect the integrity of the remaining wildlife populations. It is not just about the wolf, what about the deer, elk, mountain and black bears? Why have the other wildlife populations become secondary, when the wolf’s survival depends on them? I don’t understand that.

      2. Dave Avatar

        In response to your reply about eliminating hunting. I do believe that one of ultimate goals is to force ranchers off of their public grazing allotments and to limit or even eliminate hunting hunting. It is already happening. Most ranchers live on very thin profit margins if they profit at all. For many, if not most it is about lifestyle and heritage. Dealing extra predation, the environmentalists and other dictating to them on how to run their operations will force many out of business. That is sad, as many ranches will then be subdivided into ranchettes and there goes more of our open space. Hunting opportunities are already being limited and reduced in Idaho due to wolf predation and low elk numbers. Reduced tags in our formally most productive units have forced many outfitters out of business. Our non resident tags no longer sell. Residents move to other areas to hunt creating more pressure on the remaining herds. So don’t tell me that it isn’t a goal, it is already happening, here and in other states for other reasons.
        It is really unbelievable how arrogant we are to effects on our rural residents and communities. There economic survival is usually dependent on tourism, recreation and HUNTING. Hunters, especially non residents, spend a lot of money in the fall, a time when revenue is badly needed. I live in the city and wolves don’t effect my day to day life, but for our rural residents it does.
        Until woves are delisted and they can be hunted, they are a parasite on the landscape, they offer no benefit, none. With hunting seasons, the hunting community buy into theri exitence. The rural communities benefit from wolf hunters in late winter, the deer and elk herds benfit from reduced predation as due mountain lions and bear. Outfitter benifit with increased opportunity to earn a living. Delist the wolf, allow us to hunt and manage their populations and everyone wins. Keep the wolf listed and ultimately we all lose as the wolves destroy their food source and eventually them selves.

      3. Ken Cole Avatar

        Ranchers don’t provide any service for the public landscape and their lifestyle and heritage is no more important than anyone else’s. If they want to subdivide their own land there is nothing to stop them and then they are going to do it anyway. That’s just another talking point that you have bought hook line and sinker.

        The wolf is not to blame for their lack of profit at the public’s expense. Their lack of adaptability, inability to meet the standards and guidelines they are required and agree to meet, and market forces are the reason they are seeing no profit.

        Public lands livestock grazing and the habitat degradation it causes plays a much bigger role in lowering elk and deer populations than wolves do.

        In the Lolo, where there is no livestock grazing, the habitat has matured and the canopy has closed to the point where it no longer supports the herds it did after the great fires of 1910.

      4. JB Avatar


        You seem to be parroting a lot of talking points from the anti-wolf crowd. I’ll try and address a few of these:

        “Wyoming, does not want wolves in a major part of their state, why should Idaho be punished for that?”

        — Idaho is not being punished. Wolves are being managed fairly heavily in the state via Wildlife Services’ control actions. Personally, I agree that Idaho’s actions should be judged separately from Wyoming and Montana’s, and I think this could be done via a change in DPS policy (though that too would likely be challenged in federal court). Regardless, the actions of Idaho’s true policy-makers (i.e., its elected officials) suggests that they are not interested in maintaining a viable population of wolves. This, in my mind, is the primary problem in the state of Idaho.

        “The wolf has shown it self to be a very adaptive animal…
        The possibility of it being eliminated or its population drastically effected is not possible in this environment and with the protections already written in.”

        –The wolf is certainly extremely adaptable and capable of withstanding heavy harvest (~30% annually). However, the problem is that there are no “protections” written in that cannot be changed tomorrow. The argument I commonly hear in response to this claim is that the ESA mandates 5 years of monitoring post-delisting. This is true; however, Idaho might chose to eliminate wolves the day after that 5 years is up–and I don’t think anyone is naive enough to believe that once wolves come off the list that they will ever be placed back on it again.

        “Why have the other wildlife populations become secondary, when the wolf’s survival depends on them?”

        –Every species you have mentioned has a population that greatly exceeds the wolf population. They are “secondary” because their populations are well established and genetically viable, whereas wolves are comparatively few. I have continually made the point that many western states have cougar numbers that greatly exceed Idaho’s wolf population (2 to 6 times, in fact), and while cougars have similar energy needs, they are less efficient at consuming their kills. How is it that 5,000 cougars is just fine and 500 wolves is too many? Hint: the answer has nothing to do with ecology or their relative effects on ungulate species.

        “Until woves are delisted and they can be hunted, they are a parasite on the landscape, they offer no benefit, none.”

        — A “benefit” is a perceived good. I would suggest to you that the very fact that so many people want wolves should give you pause when asserting that they “offer no benefit”. For many people, it is enough to be able to view these animals, albeit occasionally. The fact, that a recent study estimated that wolves bring 33 million annually in the form of tourism dollars to the greater Yellowstone area also undercuts your argument.

        “With hunting seasons, the hunting community buy into theri exitence.”

        — To my knowledge, only a single study has examined this idea. They concluded that a hunting season will do nothing to increase hunters’ stewardship of wolves because the people who hunt wolves don’t want them (i.e., they are not hunting a valued game animal, but trying to rid themselves of a perceived nuisance). However, I would argue that you could conceivably increase tolerance via delisting and regulated hunting. It all depends upon what one means by “tolerance”.

      5. Bob Avatar

        KEN COLE you act like large tracts of land have no value, ranches or not 85% of ESA animals spend some if not all their time on private land. So lets put house up everywhere isn’t a problem with you? Once again you may have hinted everything else be dammed you got to have more wolves and less cattle.

      6. howlcolorado Avatar

        I still think that hunting seasons will only serve to galvanize wolf advocates and attract the attention of the general public. The tolerance people speak about is one that won’t be earned by providing a hunt, it will be gained by about 3 generations of education. Anti-wolf hunters and ranchers are anti-wolf, and allowing them to shoot wolves will make them happy, but will not likely change the attitude “the only good wolf is a dead wolf.” …

  10. Nancy Avatar

    Dave – you sound like the poster child for the anit-wolf crowd.

    The ranching community has had years to rid the countryside of its #1 livestock predator and has had little, if any, success (millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into WS for decades – I’ve seen the planes & helicopters flying my area for years) Studies show if left alone, coyotes will self regulate their populations. But that kind of information falls on deaf ears when it comes to ranchers and their “sterilize the landscape of anything that interferes with their lifestyle” mentality.

    And as someone pointed out here awhile back, if ranchers are on such a thin profit margin, maybe they need to get out of that line of work, or figure out how to more responsible for their livestock instead of expecting wildlife to pay the price.

    And I’ve gotta say, nothing irritates me more than to get up to a high country lake or into the forests and see nothing but cow patties and cattle littering the landscape.

    1. Bob Avatar

      Nancy , Montana fish & wildlife will tell you that more than 70% of wildlife live on private property, that would include ranches. If you see cows your probable not in the high country and if we’re going to make like wolves and coyotes are the same I have to laugh.

    2. Harley Avatar

      “Studies show if left alone, coyotes will self regulate their populations.”

      Good grief, I wish the damn coyotes would read these studies…

      1. howlcolorado Avatar

        Wolves regulate coyote populations.

        Coyotes were never intended to be the apex predator. Their survival and hunting strategies are significantly different from wolves, and are inline with mid-range predators.

        To not appreciate the roles which different animals fill is to exhibit the arrogance and ignorance which has led to the destruction of many ecosystems, and the extinction of many keystone species.

    3. Dave Avatar

      And sound like the naive leave it to mother nature environmentalist that the anti-wolf crowd is howling about! 🙂
      So if ranchers are forced out of business, the land is subdivided, there goes winter range and migration routes for the ungulates that the wolves depend on.
      If you don’t like to cattle, don’t go there! 🙂
      What makes you so special and the rancher so low??

      1. howlcolorado Avatar

        A rancher who takes no responsibility for protecting themselves against losses caused by predation (i.e. setting up flags on ropes surrounding their herds, getting llama to protect sheep against coyotes, and any other number of options available) is a rancher who is looking for others to cover the cost of doing business. If those types of ranchers go out of business, I won’t feel sorry for them.

        Hopefully they will be replaced by ranchers who would rather reduce predation by 90% and use cost effective methods of protecting their investments.

        It’s about time that ranchers are put under pressure to seek solutions which don’t involve federal compensation and a gun full of bullets.

        Let me give you an analogy.

        Retail establishments deal with loss. It could be theft, or expiration (when you talk about perishable goods). And every one of those companies deal with the problem through prevention. They don’t shoot possible thieves. They don’t ask the government to subsidize or compensate their losses. They look to stop theft, they try to give consumers an incentive to take expiring product, etc.

        Why is it that ranchers are not held to this same standard of self protection?

    4. Elk275 Avatar


      ++And as someone pointed out here awhile back, if ranchers are on such a thin profit margin, maybe they need to get out of that line of work++

      How would you or I like it if several ranching families (the Hershey’s, Huntley’s and Peterson’s) in your neighborhood decided that ranching did not pay and that they were going to turn there ranches into a Club Yellowstone. Subdivide the properties and make them private clubs, the hell with the traditional uses of the area. There were two ranches along the Big Hole that were turned into private clubs: The Silver Bow Club and the Methiweather Ranch, both failed and sold as one piece of property.

      It cost money to protect your livestock from present day wolves, where as it was not a problem 20 years ago. Remember we are talking almost 100,000 acres of private property not public lands.

      1. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        I have no idea, but I would like to know how profitable ranchettes are these days in Montana. I’ve seen parcels bought up for that purpose in Washington State a few years ago that now can’t sell a lot to save their souls. I am bombarded by radio commercials for investors trying to get those kind of lots off their books. Many are taking losses.

        The big projects are hurting too. Moonlight Basin is struggling for survival. You can get deals at that mountain right now that the owners never intended to come close to offering when they built that place. In Central Washington just outside of Roslyn, there was a master plan development called Suncadia. A rustic kind of design with three golf courses, a boatload of homes, and some other amenities. When the first homes were completed on Prospector they were going for $1.6 million and up for a finished product. Now you can get homes on that golf course for $900,000. Nearly a 50% drop in value and they still aren’t selling well.

      2. Nancy Avatar

        *How would you or I like it if several ranching families (the Hershey’s, Huntley’s and Peterson’s) in your neighborhood decided that ranching did not pay and that they were going to turn there ranches into a Club Yellowstone. Subdivide the properties and make them private clubs, the hell with the traditional uses of the area*

        Funny Elk how you brought up some of the most profitable and powerful ranches in these parts. Ranchers who would have no problem financially, spending money, protecting their livestock (product) if they actually had to. But they haven’t had to for years, right?

        And as long as they have heirs (usually males) to carry on the business of ranching their lands, they are gonna continue to bitch, moan and complain about how little government is doing to help them out (and you know how much ranchers complain about government, all the while sticking their hands out) especially now when it comes to wolves being on the landscape.

      3. JimT Avatar

        Club Yellowstone went bankrupt. Not a good example. Besides, I thought most conservative schools of thought held private property sacrosanct. So, is what you are asking is that the public should continue to make their lifestyle possible for them and ignore the issue of predators as a quid pro quo?

        I say that if a rancher’s lifestyle depends on a federal subsidy to stay in business, it deserves more scrutiny and more accountability under the permitting system, and laws than is currently practiced by BLM, USFS, or other supervising agencies. I am betting that most of these families are conservative in their politics, and have a dim opinion of the human welfare system. That, for some of us, is where the irony and hypocrisy lies in this particular situation.

        You know, I would LOVE for the ranchers’ that fit this public land dependability hypothetical to open their books and honestly account for so called costs to protect their cattle. I would also like that same report to include honest figures on losses to disease and poor management practices. Then, maybe we would have some solid figures upon which to have debate. But when figures..if they do come out..come from cattlemen membership groups…there is an inherent element of self interest that damages credibility. .

      4. Elk275 Avatar

        Jim T

        I am not talking about federal lands, I am talking about private lands. I do not know how many acres of federal lands that they have grazing permit for, the private lands are the best lands in the valley. The federal lands have the least amount of production; the best lands were patented over one hundred years ago. I would guess that most Big Hole ranches could function without federal lands. From what I have seen and be told is that the Big Valley is going away from cow/calf operations and going to grazing steers. The steers are shipped in late May and ship out in early October gaining about 200 pounds. There is about 5 sections of BLM land in the Big Hole Valley bottom and about 35 sections of state land.

        I know that the Yellowstone Club is bankrupt; I have spent many hours in the US Bankruptcy Court listening to the Edra Blixseth testify, while I was waiting to testify on a different case. One of my best childhood friend’s and college roommate is the bankruptcy attorney for the Club and now is also representing Moonlight basin. Now what does that have to do with a possible hypothetical situation that could happen in the future.

        I have been dealing with developers for 20 years and they will go broke, the economy will change and they will start over and history will be repeated again and again. Then younger ones without a history will start over, make a fortune, over extend and go broke. A large piece of land will be purchased and split up and a portion sold. The remaining smaller portion will now become a large tract to the next purchaser who will then split it again.

        ++You know, I would LOVE for the ranchers’ that fit this public land dependability hypothetical to open their books and honestly account for so called costs to protect their cattle. I would also like that same report to include honest figures on losses to disease and poor management practices. Then, maybe we would have some solid figures upon which to have debate. But when figures..if they do come out..come from cattlemen membership groups…there is an inherent element of self interest that damages credibility. ++
        Montana is 29.1% federal land or approximately 27 million acres of federal land. Subtract wilderness areas and other areas where livestock is not allowed and that should leave around 20 million acres. I would guess that approximately half of that 20 million acres is intersperse with private lands some with access and some without access. Some tracts are so small that they should be sold and the proceeds used to purchase and consolidate other accessible lands. It is not what one thinks it is in most cases.

        Jim are you willing to open the books of your law practice so the public can have a honest view of your business. Your firm apparently represents environmental causes and there is a law where the federal government pays the attorneys fees for certain out comes. Should the there be a law if you receive any compensation for work from the federal government that all your books are open.

        After being on this forum for 18 months, I feel that there are individuals with contempt for a person who own ten’s of thousands of acres.

  11. Nancy Avatar

    Gee Bob, not an expert but do ya think it might have something to do with the livestock all over public lands? Noticed you had no comment on the #1 predator and the millions wasted over the years trying to keep them in check. Other than size Bob, coyotes and wolves have alot in common.

    Harley – some interesting facts on coyotes (course these are midwest coyotes)

    The members of the groups share the duties of
    guarding the food and territory as well as feeding
    the pups. Despite claims of “exploding populations,”
    coyotes are self-regulating in terms of numbers.
    Females adjust the size of their litters, anywhere
    from 6-19 pups, depending on numbers of local
    coyote residents and abundance of food. If
    populations are not disturbed (hunted or
    trapped), coyotes form strong, organized family
    packs with established territories, and do not
    allow other coyotes to enter. Home ranges can
    reach up to 70 miles, but recent research of urban
    coyotes shows a roaming range of 10 to 15
    miles with up to 25 miles in some cases.

    1. Bob Avatar

      Nancy, coyotes are classified as predators anyone can shoot one a any time and they make a nice coat when prime. I don’t raise sheep so coyotes only help control the gophers. As for millions spend, well leave wolves list a few more years and that won’t be anything we will be spending twice as much. In the end the wolves will take care of the coyotes.

    2. howlcolorado Avatar


      6-19 pups is the first indication that coyotes are not apex predators. One of the key differentiators for an apex predator is that there are fewer natural threats to them, and therefore they produce less young.

      The creation of packs is not a behavior a lot of people associate with coyotes. Many times, coyotes form packs of convenience to tackle a given problem. For example, coyotes will form small packs and use a female to lure a male dog into a trap and ambush and kill them.

      Coyotes are HIGHLY territorial however. Which is the #1 problem with urbanized coyotes. People will either feed them, or leave food where they can get it. That makes their backyard home for the coyote and you can imagine that leads to issues.

      The description you give regarding the established home territories is precisely the reason that wolves are a prime coyote population control mechanism. Should coyotes form a pack, and should they set up a home territory, not only does that pack have to contend with other coyotes, but wolves will defend their territory similarly against both other wolf packs and obviously coyotes. That pushes coyotes further in to the plains.

      I am not entirely convinced that the pack behavior you are describing isn’t an evolution of coyote behavior in response to a lack of wolves.

    3. Harley Avatar

      You are from the midwest?

      1. Nancy Avatar

        Nope Harley. I live in a rural part of Montana. Been here long enough to relate to the wilderness, wildlife and the issues.

      2. Harley Avatar

        I’m from the midwest. I live with the growing problem with coyotes. A lot of it has to do with the fact that there is so much being built up in the area I live in that they have no place to go. A lot of it also has to do with the fact that we have… a lot of coyotes. To the point where they are starting to get unhealthy. It was interesting to see where that source you linked was, it’s from Illinois, my home state. I honestly do not know what the solution is. I know there have been more than a few people I know in my neighborhood that have had some close run ins with coyotes that didn’t seem much afraid. They are so adaptable. One even walzted it’s way into a sub shop in downtown Chicago and made itself at home in the cooler! I think wolves are the same, very adaptable, though I think they would stay away from the local Subway! I have friends who live on the border of Wis. and Il. They own a dairy farm, have had it in the family a few generations. The past 6 years or so they have seen in increase in the coyotes and they have been taking their barn cats. So far, they are leaving the calves alone. But that’s in a place where there hasn’t been a lot of housing growth. Maybe, coyotes moving north from here to escape the growth areas? I don’t know. I just know that they are becoming a serious problem. We also have quite a few deer, but they have always been a presence with all the forest preserve land we have around here. Could be another reason there are so many coyotes? The food source? The entire issue is a tad bit more complex than simply getting rid of the deer, or culling them, or the same with coyotes.

      3. JB Avatar


        Coyotes actually live in downtown Chicago and many other metro areas–and they have for quite some time (I’ve seen a few in the Columbus metro area myself). Most are rarely seen and the vast majority of Chicago residents have no idea they are there. They live on rats, small rodents, and other small mammals (including stray and feral cats).

        Coyotes have moved north steadily over the past several decades because they are well-adapted to living near humans. They have probably also been aided by the fact that humans eradicated wolves–which tend to kill coyotes when they can.

        – – – –

        A few years ago I was in a pull-off near the Yellowstone River when a woman came up the trail screaming that the wolves were coming to get her. Knowing a bit about wolves, I went the way she came, not at all fearful but more than a little excited. Imagine my disappointment when two little western coyotes (no more than 25 lbs) came trotting up the trail. They got withing 15 feet of me on the trail before moving off to the side and walking right by (no more than 10 feet away). They didn’t even glance back as they walked by.

        I walked back to the car and tried to tell the woman that she had seen coyotes and they were no threat to her, but she was plainly terrified and insisted her life was in danger. I shrugged and got in the car and left. I think a lot of people respond this way to wild animals–especially when the see them in urban and suburban environments. They have no knowledge of the animal’s ecology or behavior and just assume the animal is there to kill them. I find it sad how little most people know about the wild world around them.

      4. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        was this woman named Karen by any chance?

      5. JB Avatar

        Alas, I never got her name?!

  12. Nancy Avatar

    All good points Howl. I can always tell when wolves are around because the little song dogs go mute, sometimes for weeks or they bark, another indicator that something is upsetting them.

    1. jon Avatar

      Harley, are you the same Harley that posts on the bbb blog? Why do you come here and than go back to that blog and bad mouth the commenters and the moderators of this blog?

      1. Harley Avatar

        Do you ask that of the others that do the same thing here? No worries Jon, I will stay where ‘I belong’ wherever the heck that is!

    2. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      I have a coyote, whom I call Shehe, denning within 300 yards of my house. It lounged around in the vernal pond area last summer and was easily observed from the house. My border collie, Pic, who doesn’t wander about unless accompanied by a human, is aware of Shehe’s presence. When the two of us go for walks Pic is very aware of scents left by this coyote and marks the spots of high interest. I personally like house cats but don’t appreciate feral ones. Pic used to keep them away from the house area but since the coyote has moved nearby I have seen no more feral cats on our property. Possibly, as a result, that leaves more chickadees for the sharp-shinned hawk which captured two in the past two days.

  13. Nancy Avatar

    *The entire issue is a tad bit more complex than simply getting rid of the deer, or culling them, or the same with coyotes*

    Harley, its why there has to be more study, dialogue and especially understanding, when it comes to how humans impact other species in what’s left of wilderness areas, as our growth continues to go unchecked.

  14. Nancy Avatar

    *I find it sad how little most people know about the wild world around them*

    And that statement also applies JB to many people who spent a lifetime making a living in and around the wild world around them.

  15. JimT Avatar

    I will tell you that some of the most passionate defenders and advocates for the environment are often working for non profits, putting in 70+ hours a week in and out of the office while trying to manage families, and the most oft uttered complaint heard is that they don’t have the time to get out to see the lands and species they are protecting…

  16. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    I’m new to this site, and I’ll say it is refreshing to read dialog from both perspectives on the wolf issue that have both thought and heart. I have been frequenting most of the “news” sites and initially locking horns and almost found myself getting dragged into the name calling that serves no good purpose. While it is reassuring to read comments that speak well of the wolf and their “rightful” place in nature, more voices such as these need to be heard elsewhere. Common threads are overloaded with acidic rhetoric toward the wolf.

    That being said, I have been fascinated with wolves since the age of three, and 57 years later have a few more years to work, and then retire near Ely, Mn. One of the reasons is to be near wolves. I have had great experiences and for that matter luck in observing wolves.

    The recent impasse in wolf control has me somewhat concerned. I think Otter and Freudenthal would do whatever they could to get the wolf numbers down to the bear minimum. On the other hand, I am somewhat sympathetic toward Schweitzer from Montana. His ~170 wolves number would represent close to 25% of Montana’s wolves. This would at first glance seem as a very sustainable number, citing individuals such as David Mech. I believe Creel and Rotella’s latest study proposes that 25% would be too great a harvest. Another season of hunting will not severely impact the wolf population, and would have provided data important to both sides of the issue. In that respect, I hold Otter and Freudenthal responsible for the impasse. But, it’s a pipe dream to believe wolf harvesting won’t begin somewhere and sometime fairly soon.

    I’d like to live to see the day where the wolf populations could self regulate, but in the times and constrictions in which we live, I don’t think it’s possible.

  17. JimT Avatar

    Elk, 275,

    But my hypothetical was for public welfare ranchers, not totally private land ranching. However, if these private land ranchers have grazing permits for federal land, I say activities on those lands should be a matter of public record, especially if those lands are the site for losses and claims for killing wolves. If all of the ranchers in your comment are 100% private land ranchers, then the pressure they feel to make a living is no different than any of us. I watched dairy farm after dairy farm go down in Vermont and in upstate NY over the past 25 years, and watched as inappropriate development took over. But no one yelled or screamed about entitlement like the pubic land ranchers do; they talked about lost legacies and lost history, but they also knew perhaps they were part of the country changing….shit happens.

    I question sometimes this raising of the development fears as maybe a red herring by some of the ranchers to gain sympathy. Maybe I am basing on our water situation here, but unless a large tract of land came with senior water rights, what is the sense of having a luxury ranch there? or a resort?

    I do understand the lack of access frustration. Read a case called Leo Sheep at some point in time…it is very straightforward, and speaks well to the issue of public access and the need to preserve it.

    The issue of opening books. Again, in the context of taking federal tax dollars, yes, I feel strongly that the expenses and claims based on that access should be a matter of public record, especially in the context of the issue of using those loss statistics to justify a killing of wolf pack(s), or the use of them to advance a legislative agenda.

    My practice is private. No federal subsidies. To the extent that I access any statutes for attorney’s fees, those filings are matter of public record unless the records are sealed by the judge’s order, or agreement of the parties. But I think getting paid for work done is very different from getting substantial taxpayer subsidies in order to stay in business.

    I think you are dead wrong with contempt for people with acreage. What I have disdain for are the ranchers who depend on federal tax dollars to make a living, and whine and complain about the efforts to restore largely federal areas to ecosystem balance through such attempts as wolf reintroduction.

    I don’t have the figures in front of me. Maybe someone else does. Is there a breakdown of ownership of ranches in the affected states that show the percentage of truly family owned ranches vs the corporate entities that are leased back to families? I am much more sympathetic to family ranching and their difficulties than I am agri-business entities.

    I also will ask…how do you view activities on private land that do, or substantially likely, to have negative impacts on programs or activities conducted on public lands? Do you think it is a two way street in terms of avoiding adverse impacts, or just a one way street in favor of private property? Seems to me that all of the compensation efforts to ranchers seem to indicate a willingness by the Feds and Defenders to help out the private property owners. I really have not seen or read that the ranchers feel the same way. And as long as that mentality exists, there will be no trusting.

    1. WM Avatar


      ++ Is there a breakdown of ownership of ranches in the affected states that show the percentage of truly family owned ranches vs the corporate entities that are leased back to families? ++
      Strikes me as a good project for WWP, if they don’t already have the data, for some states at least. It would certainly help or weaken the case against agribusiness/corporate welfare. Of course, some farms, as we know have gone to a corporate business model to limit liability for the family owners. In any event, it would be interesting to know the statistics.

      I think I have mentioned before a book by law professor Charles Wilkinson called “Crossing the Next Meridian” (1993), which takes a look at the complex issues facing the West, including what we all term “welfare ranching.” It seems the sales price of a ranch on the open market is often tied to the availability of the grazing leases on adjacent federal land. Without this supplemental asset, the land loses substantial value and the ranch cannot be sold, because it becomes essentially worthless without it. If something is to be done to eliminate or reduce federal grazing at the levels they are now, there needs to be a phased approach which recognizes this value and weans the beneficiaries (especially families) slowly off, and give some value in return.

      Lots of criticism of the system, but little in the way of constructive implementable solutions that will generate the politics necessary to make it happen.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        For some time now the Western Watersheds Project has proposed a grazing allotment buyout of public lands of the United States.

        It would be generous and strictly voluntary. Of course the permittee would keep his or her base property. With the buyout funds they could expand their private land holdings, buy securities, pay bills, move away, go on vacation, retire . . . . whatever they want.

        This buyout would require federal legislation and a relatively small appropriation.

        Many permittees indicated they loved the idea. Others didn’t, but then the buyout would be voluntary.

        The opposition that has prevented it from moving comes from the livestock associations, county commissioners, rural politicians — folks who seem to love ranching in the abstract. They are the people who like the big belt buckle, the hat, the cowboy photo on their office wall. They are not the people who are 80 years old, still bucking bales of hay, can’t afford to retire, and might end their days fallen in a pile of manure when their heart gave out.

  18. Bob Avatar

    Sorry I missed the welfare ranching debate, but to continue my education seems the wolf is a welfare recipient and free loader on the system. Feds paid their way to yellowstone. Feds pay to kill problem wolves. Feds and states pay for livestock losses. Groups like hunters and RMEF have worked on habitat for ungulates. Wolves groups want access to both private and public lands. I’am new to this debate and most here have some good answers, if you have the time post away.

    1. Dave Avatar

      Great line of information to debate. Not only that, but with delisting, which I support, the states have to pick up all the costs. It feels to me, that most pro wolf advocates skim over the reason hunter don’t want the wolves. I mean, it took a lot of effort to establish elk back in Idaho in the 1900’s. Not to mention amount of money we contirbute to their management each year via tag, licenses, firearms and ammunition taxes.
      Wolves are costing the taxpayer millions in management costs, liltgation fees, depradation costs and lost revenue generated by the hunting community.
      I also don’t see or understand their rationale that Idaho in particular never planned to adhere to their management plans. The wolf advocates are the ones that renigged on the original 1995 plan.

      1. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        I wonder the cost in today’s dollars of re-introducing elk in to several states including Idaho using elk from yellowstone.

      2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

        Dave (and Bob),

        Most of these management costs are not necessary and undesirable in my opinion.

        I wouldn’t blame wolves because politicians think they have to spend a lot of money on management. I imagine Idaho wolves are doing just fine now that Idaho has stopped spending a dime on management.

        One way of saving a whole bunch of money is to defund Wildlife Services animal killing air force. Of course, the chance this year is gone because Congress is going to pass only a continuing resolution, not a real budget.

      3. JB Avatar

        “The wolf advocates are the ones that renigged on the original 1995 plan.”

        Dave: Can you please point me to the “original 1995 plan” that environmentalists “renigged” on?

      4. Bob Avatar

        Ralph, I know WS deals with more than wolves maybe their not the total solution but, I think we’ed have a mess with out them. I am not dave just share some disappointment with him.

      5. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        I think we need to take their air force away and train them in more cost/effective measures.

        You should read Carter Niemeyer’s new book, Wolfer. It is filled with examples of WS problems. He worked for them for many years.

      6. Bob Avatar

        Ralph, I also believe thats true for bears. This valley has a carcass pick-up program and wolf packs setting up home here 4 years. We’re also north of the introduced line. I just like having more management tools than we currently have. I do plan to read the book, have you read, wolves in Russia, I’am told it shows good history.

      7. howlcolorado Avatar

        Be cautious of Russian wolf stories – they are often unconfirmed and a little hard to believe. One wolf fought off 4 people armed with farm implements, sending them all to hospital if you believe one of the most recent stories.

        Try the book: Predatory Bureaucracy by Michael J. Robinson. Its a very detailed chronicle which includes the impact of business in the west, especially based around Denver, and the history of Wildlife Services.

      8. jon Avatar

        Howlcolorado, have you ever heard of a man by the name of Will Graves? He wrote a book called wolves in Russia. Anti-wolf activists will bring him and his book up a lot. Supposedly according to Graves, wolves have killed thousands of Russians over the years.

      9. WM Avatar


        ++“The wolf advocates are the ones that renigged on the original 1995 plan.”++

        Not to get too much into your dialog with Dave, but as I have said in the past, the 1994 EIS, and the “recovery” plan document it references serves as the basis for the numbers that get tossed around alot. These, of course, set the floor for the minimum NRM recovery levels at 300 wolves and 30 breeding pairs for three consecutive years, or about 100/10 per state, that get translated to about 150 wolves with 15 breeding pairs for each of the three states (as reflected in their first approved plans), when a safety factor is rolled in, and serves as the offical low number that gets tossed around.

        I have never quite understood what the term “recovered wolf population” means in the context of the EIS. It seems to be an implied goal for delisting at the minimum numbers noted in the paragraph above. If I am incorrect on that somebody please point me in the direction of any clarifications that get the number beyond the miniumums that anyone agreed to (bearing in mind the ESA requirement of “best scientific and commercial data” to be used in factoring in when a species should be delisted.) . See also Appendix 9 of the EIS which reinforces this recovery level, which could always be augmented by a “periodic infusion” of translocated wolves if there were concerns about genetic diversity or distribution.

        The interesting thing is that the EIS did no environmental impact analysis whatsoever above the minimum numbers. So, now we are way above those numbers, especially in ID, where what was once represented as being an impact on elk of about 1650 elk per year for ID (See Abstract of EIS at pdf page 3/414 : ) is now likely way, way over that represented number for elk mortality, and continuing to grow each year as long as there are not the contemplated hunts which were always part of the reintroduction plan for these “nonessential experimental population” wolves.

        See, the problem I have is that the EIS did not adequately address the impacts of an unfettered increase in wolves beyond the miniumum to some threshold level aboiut which many people are in disagreement. It just left open the door that numbers would be managed flexibly in concert with ungulate and livestock objectives.

        To me, the Tester/Baucus legislation committing ID and MT to the numbers in their respective implementation plans (not to be confused with the minimum numbers), which are several times over those minimum numbers in the EIS is very reasonable.

        It is all the more appealing since it appears that Butch can’t seem to accept such numbers in a negotatiated agreement.

      10. howlcolorado Avatar

        Jon, I am very much aware of Mr. Graves and his book. I did independent research and the wolf stories which make up the “reports” can be just beyond belief in terms of what they are claiming.

        In 2009 there was a reported wolf attack in Russia which killed a man (from blood loss) and the wolf hospitalized 4 other people who were fighting it off with pitchforks and such.

        That story contains the mystical undertones of some old superstitions and stories of the region. But I’ll let you decide…

        The Indian wolf, which is quite different than the gray wolf, does have the child-lifting phenomenon but there are many reasons for that. Indian wolves hunt in pairs, not packs (infant prey is very appealing), are smaller, and have a religious shroud of protection, meaning that habituation is not only easier, but over time, will simply become likely with such a massive, and poor, population in the region.

        There is a religious belief that spilling wolf blood leads to no raid for crops. So people are fearful of hurting wolves.

      11. jon Avatar

        Howl, I agree 100% with you. First off, Will Graves was a linguist, not a scientist. I have not read all of his book “wolves in Russia”, but downloaded it and skimmed through it and I am under the impression that his book basically contains stories and folklore told by the people of rural Russia.

      12. howlcolorado Avatar

        While I can’t say what research Graves did into official reports, and how much rigorous investigation he put in to determining the accuracy of those official reports, but a vast majority of the content of the book was anecdotal in nature.

        I would personally classify much of it as folklore – but people should read the book and determine for themselves how much they believe what’s being said.

        I did a presentation at the University of Colorado about the western perception of wolves, and part of that included folklore and fairy tales and how you could glean useful data from them.

        One of my speaking points involves the story of the boy who cried wolf.

        The original story didn’t actually involve the wolf eating the boy (that’s an example of where exaggeration and embelishment to improve the “impact” of the story comes in to play).

        But what we do observe from the story, is an oddly accurate portrayal of life as a rural community dealing with the treat of wolves to their livestock.

        As the story goes, and I am sure everyone knows it, the boy was charged with watching the sheep. He got bored, and he cried “wolf, wolf” and all the villagers came running. He does it again, and again… and finally, a wolf does show up, he cries “wolf, wolf” and no one comes and the wolf eats the sheep.

        People focus (in modern times) on the moral of the story. Don’t tell lies, I suppose. Though I, as a cynic, often say it is more “don’t tell the same lie twice.” But the historical record that exists in these silly stories are revealing. How did small rural communities deal with wolves? They had a watcher. The watcher alerted the villagers when a wolf was spotted, and they came, loud and in large numbers, up to the sheep. That’s a massive deterrence to wolves. I can only assume the system worked quite well based on what we know about wolves today. Lots of commotion, motion and more importantly people, around the sheep would make a flock look less than appealing. We should take lessons from this for today and perhaps figure out how to achieve similar reactions.

        And remember, wolves have been demonized for millennia. The bible itself does it. The term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is biblical in origin. I wouldn’t discount the impact of that on how wolves have been perceived for the last 1000 years in Europe.

      13. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        re graves book,
        can’t quote it verbatim but in the 1994 ESI is a letter to a Russian Dept of some type concerning the claims made by Graves. the reply was to the effect that it amounted to the same type of “facts” that tone could find in such magazines as “Outdoor Life”
        having said that it has to be understood that the history of Russia and Europe was vastly different than the Americas.
        There were wars of one type or another virtually non-stop for centuries that resulted in up to several thousand casualties in one day or over several days. All those bodies were not just buried on the spot rather were left to rot and be scavenged.
        in addition particularly in Russia there were frequent, long lasting famines resulting in massive die offs of people. there are accounts of cities rounding up orphaned children and taking them out into the country far enough away that “they would not be able to make it back to town”.
        Than not lets forget the construction of such things like the trans- siberian railway where people that died were just left where they lay. In addition is the ever famous Gulag institution in Siberia. What do you think happened to some one that was dead or nearly so in mid- winter? That there was a nice little cemetery with nice little funerals or just taken out in to the woods and dumped?

      14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

        Twenty million people died in the old Soviet Union during World War II and millions died during collectivization of agriculture in the years before.

        No doubt corpses filled the countryside and scavengers of all kinds, including wolves, learned that dead humans were a source of food.

        There has never been such an event in North America.

      15. jon Avatar

        Howl, Will sent Ed Bangs a letter in 1993 saying that if you reintroduce wolves, you are going to have human attacks and wolves spreading their “dangerous” parasites to people. 15 years later, I know if no one that has been infected with one of these deadly tapeworms and wolf attacks on humans since reintroduction are next to nothing. rex Rammell’s campaign manager Karen something says she was attacked by wolves in her driveway even though she really wasn’t. Anytime a wolf hater sees a wolf or wolves, they cry attack. From what I understand, wolves saw her and ran off a minute later. Someone who is anti-wolf like her will turn a harmless situation into a threatening one to demonize wolves imo.

      16. jon Avatar

        I am sure a lot of Russians died of disease or starvation or what have you and their deaths were blamed on wolves. Some one may have found the dead russians and saw wolves eating them and assumed they were killed by wolves when in truth they died from starvation or disease or something of that nature. I am sure in Russian wolves are big time scapegoats. I also think like here in the states, wolves are purposely blamed for killing livestock when infact that livestock has died from other reasons. Keep blaming wolves even for things they didn’t do and you will get a lot of people hating them very quickly.

      17. JB Avatar


        I know exactly what Dave was referring to. My point was that he is parroting the anti-wolf rhetoric without actually doing his homework. The 1994 EIS indeed discusses the MINIMUM numbers of wolves needed to trigger delisting (as we have discussed ad nauseum on this site); however, it is not an agreement; thus, there was nothing for either side to “reneg” upon.

      18. WM Avatar


        I knew where you were going with the inquiry with Dave, but thought it was worth framing that MINIMUM number. LOL

        I also wanted to point out for you(as I think we have touched on before) the very significant fact that the EIS did not address the impacts on the increased numbers of ungulates and livestock believed to be killed proportional to any increases in wolves on the landscape ABOVE the miniumum numbers.

        To use an analogy (which I usuallly hate to do), it would be like doing an EIS for a federally funded dam, and stating the operational characteristics for the dam would be one thing, and then operating it an entirely different way. Thus triggering greater impacts than represented to the public.

        This EIS should have included a range of population levels above a minimum, so that the projected impacts could be analyzed in the context of the reintroduction.

        Afterall, this was represented as a “nonessential experimental population” which had never been done before. It was allowed to go forward under that representation, a fact which many wolf advocates either do not know, or refuse to acknowedge.

        Cooperation with state/tribes is required by the ESA, and it was believed ultimately management would be handed over to the states for long-range planning and management after delisting. And again, I will raise the deficiency of failing to account for the legal consequence of what would happen if a state did not meet its planning and management implementation obligations. It was clear this could happen, as it did with WY.

        That has had a cascading effect on the other two states who are now, in effect, denied the right to manage and control wolf numbers in concert with ungulate population objectives. It seems the longer it goes on the worse the state attitude, and greater the rebellion.

        I do not suspect any of that part could be captured in a social science survey/study, except the fact that state governments generally don’t like the federal government medeling in what they think is their business. That is always kind of a restatement of the obvious, regardless of whether the state is in the West, or elsewhere.

      19. WM Avatar

        Sorry, spelling error, medeling = meddling

      20. JB Avatar

        “It seems the longer it goes on the worse the state attitude, and greater the rebellion…I do not suspect any of that part could be captured in a social science survey/study…”

        Actually, this is exactly the kind of thing that could be captured in a survey. Moreover, there are many more methods available to social scientists than just surveys! In fact, one of the missing pieces in this analysis is how public opinion (and whose opinion) leads to policy change. Our Utah data indicates that the majority of residents like wolves and would support natural recolonization; yet, the state legislature has gone ahead and passed legislation designed to prevent this.

        Regarding the EIS: I don’t think anyone anticipated that Wyoming would refuse to “play ball”. Moreover, as I have pointed out before,an official DPS policy didn’t come about until after the EIS and recovery plan were written. Finally, I think the FWS mistakenly believed that the courts would grant them more deference (flexibility) than they have seen. I do not think there is any way they could have predicted the various that have transpired and resulted in wolves’ continued listing.

        To be honest, I’m not sure what the point would have been in making further predictions about wolves effects on ungulate populations? Anyone who wanted to calculate the predicted effects of twice the minimum recovery requirements need only double the number provided.

      21. JB Avatar

        Sorry that should read:

        “I do not think there is any way they could have predicted the various EVENTS that have transpired and resulted in wolves’ continued listing.”

      22. WM Avatar


        I should have been clearer. I wasn’t thinking of citizen attitudes reflected through a survey, but rather the actions/reactions of elected officials (and wildlife agencies) in the face of changing federal goals (whether administative or judicial interpretation of law that affect federal goals). Do you believe they could be surveyed? I tend to think not so much.

        Just doubling the numbers doesn’t quite cut it, since it gets us into that gray area of whether more wolves, possibly in higher densities have to rely on live elk rather than winter kill, taking us into the blurry science of additive or compensatory mortality. So, just for fun I will say the number is 2.2X the number of elk killed for double the wolves, and for three times the number of wolves 3.4X the number of live elk taken. Maybe somebody has studied this relationship.

        The point I was trying to make is the analysis just ……stopped with 100 wolves per state. Not even much of an acknowledgement that the populations would continue to grow and expand in range over time as long as there was an adequate food supply (we certainly know there was/is), and their impacts good and bad would continue to grow. If I recall correctly their planning horizon stopped in 2006 on their charts. Well, clearly that is not the case as we go forward with wolves still listed, with a growth rate of 20+ percent in some areas of the NRM. Without delisting and with cases on appeal, I would like to know what the projected NRM wolf population will be in 2013 or 2015, and what will be the impact on ungulate populations and hunting opportunities. These are fair questions to be addressed.

        I don’t fault FWS for not knowing quite what the impacts would be 1995 to present, but they failed to address the eventuality of what surely would happen over time. They just …….stopped the analysis. Twenty-five years of agencies experienced in writing EIS’s and this one just…..stopped the analysis over a very short planning horizon.

        I wonder if that was by design, to avoid red flagging projected numbers of wolves over, say, a 20 year planning period, and increasing the scrutiny of the process and the outcome.

      23. JB Avatar


        I don’t think we need surveys to gauge the actions and reactions of elected officials, as these actions are relatively easy to track via methods such as document analysis. One of my interests is determining the extent to which these actions are actually representative of their constituents (you need surveys for this part).


        Re: the EIS

        The science used to predict wolves effects on elk was tentative as it was. For example, if memory serves, the Service believed that wolves would rely more heavily on mule deer than they have. I also believe they used linear models to predict wolves effects on ungulates (which is why I said “double” the estimate).

        If your question is, do I think the Service could have done a better job with the EIS, then my answer is “undoubtedly”. But you have continually asserted that the EIS was not adequate, and I simply don’t agree with this assertion. The agency is not omniscient. For example, they didn’t know that wolf reintroduction would correspond with a nearly decade long drought. Perhaps they should have considered that possibility in the EIS as well? What about other natural disasters? You’ll note that they also did not consider what would happen to wolves if the Yellowstone caldera were to blow; perhaps that should be in the EIS as well? How much is enough?????

    2. Moose Avatar

      I don’t think the wolves or their advocates have ever clamored for the “welfare services” that WS provides … those services would fall under welfare requests by ranchers and the hunting community I guess

      1. Bob Avatar

        Moose, don’t you think that a removed problem wolf is less of a black eye than if just letting to kill. The argument now use is wolves kill small numbers of cattle yet let one practice their skill that number would climb, I would think.

      2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        It has been shown that wolves that taste beef do tend to become cattle killers, although they hardly prefer them to wild meat. I read an article just the other day about his.

        There is an important thing to understand first, however. This cattle killing wolves usually taste beef when they find a dead cow or calf, often in a boneyard. Flat out killing cattle, with no previous taste is not as common. The same is true of other carnivores.

        Here is a controversial statement, but I think the best way to reduce livestock predation is not to reduce the carnivore density, it is to reduce the carcass density.

      3. howlcolorado Avatar

        There was a study done of Iberian wolves which investigated the scat of wolves to figure out their diets.

        If I recall correctly, the study discovered that about ten percent of scat contained evidence of domesticated livestock.

        During the period of the study, no livestock predations were reported, and the studied area was found to have scavanging activity on livestock carcasses.

        Wolves aren’t saints, but they sure do prefer their natural prey. I assume it tastes a lot better.

        I don’t remember the specifics of the study but it appeared in Wildlife Biology in 2009.

      4. Bob Avatar

        Ralph, my last post was in wrong spot, got to get some work done if you can refer the article on carcass giving predators a taste, I like to read it also. Thanks for the info.

    3. howlcolorado Avatar

      In the 1940s, the US government paid good, hard-earned tax payer dollars to finally kill every single last wolf in the rocky mountain region – something they had paid tax-payer money on for many decades up to that point (research what happened to beavers and buffalo around the end of the 19th century – it’s disturbing). The department responsible has been known by many names: “Division of Predatory Animal and Rodent Control,” “Animal Damage Control,” and others. It was originally part of the Bureau of Biological Survey – a name dripping with irony, which fell under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      You may think that such a barbaric and irresponsible program would have been ended years ago, however, they don’t end this program, they simply move it and call it something new. However, the government is good at several things, and documentation is one of those things, so we can say with complete certainty that this division is still alive and well, is run by the USDA again, and is now called the somewhat misleading, but publically friendly name, Wildlife Services.

      So, to even begin the process of discussing free-loading, you would have to acknowledge the fact that American tax payers have been footing the bill for human-caused extinction events for well over a century. The costs associated to this are simply astronomical.

      The value proposition associated with a reintroduction program is tricky. First of all, how much should someone pay to rectify a mistake – i.e. paying for and facilitating a man-made extinction event?

      Second, the potential value that a reintroduced animal represents in terms of tourism, balancing an ecosystem, and more would be hard to measure, but I am sure there are studies that indicate at least to some degree, how much money wolves in yellowstone are worth those that massive caldera.

      You mention that Feds and states pay for livestock losses. Well, no they don’t. They pay specifically for wolf-caused livestock losses. It is unique in this perspective. All other livestock losses (including theft, which accounted for more livestock losses than wolves) are a business cost for the ranchers to deal with. Poor animal husbandry, an apathetic attitude towards livestock predation deterrence programs and any other number of things lead to significant losses which are not covered by any reimbursement program.

      Remember, Defenders of Wildlife used donated funds from their supporters to create and maintain a reimbursement fund so it was neither the feds or the state which did the reimbursement until fairly recently. Once the feds gave out their funds, and the states became partially responsible in order to get those funds, Defenders halted their reimbursement project and instead have funneled that money in to education and deterrence programs to reduce the overall livestock loss to predation, but specifically to reduce wolf predation. These predator-deterrence programs are highly effective. For more information on that, I point you to an organization called Predator Friendly, which works with ranchers to protect their livestock from any number of threats.

      You mention that RMEF works on habitat for ungulates, but that same group points at wolves, and not habitat issues for the precipitous decline of elk numbers in the Lolo regions. Numbers which have been declining significantly since 1985 – 10 years before wolves were even reintroduced. RMEF isn’t always entirely transparant.

      Hunters foot the bill for many of the wildlife initiatives found around the country. This should not be forgotten. However, they are paying for the privilage of having a massive, diverse and beautiful country with an amazing ecosystem and the permission to kill animals within it. It doesn’t buy them any additional rights or ownership. What a hunter should have is an amazing amount of pride when they see bears, wolves, elk, buffalo and any other number of animals as they appreciate the fact that their contributions are helping bring back much of the wildlife that Americans work so hard to destroy just a century ago.

      Wild animals don’t understand private vs. public. To even attempt to make this argument is an attempt to derail any debate and, in all honesty, it’s a talking point intended to troll for bites.

      Bears walk in to people’s houses and steal their food. I don’t think a sign at the end of the driveway saying “no bears, private land” would make any difference.

      1. Bob Avatar

        I guess my main thought was who else is paying as group besides tax payer.

      2. Dave Avatar

        When a hunter buys a hunting license, pays for a tag to hunt a specific species which may incude additional archery or muzzleloader permits and is required to attend hunter education classes, plus also purchase migratory bird permit and a Federal Waterfowl stamp to enjoy a sport sanctioned by a state as legal, I think it buys him considerable right to enjoy and protect that endeavor. There is not one activity that I am aware of that takes place on public ground that requires that kind of cash investment. That cash specifically funds the management of wildlife, all wildlife both game and non gam,e species plus provides protected wild life manage areas.These are yearly fees. Additionally a large portion of these hunters also participate their time in habitat enhancement projects and donate additional money to support organizations like Duck Unlimited, RMEF and others.
        Who else on this blog other then hunters, pay fees like these to enjoy our public lands? WHO, anyone?
        Hunters have worked very to promote, enhance game species and habitat so that they can enjoy a fall hunt. Let them hunt wolves and eventually they will support wolves as well. Let the wolves destory all that and they probably won’t forget and will stop spending money, participating in habitat improvement. Why should they, wolves are and will continue to take away their fall hunting activities.

        Excuse me, but Wildlife does know the difference between public and private lands. The private land is the one with crops, hay stacks, irrigated pastures and lacks public access like atv and pack trails. Private lands are usually the sanctuary during hunting seasons and provide the best feed throughout the year, especially during the winter.
        I cannot believe you knock the RMEF. That is one very young organization that has accomplished in its short history for habitat preservation, conservation, education, fund raising across the country than any other organization I can think of in the same time period. They supported the wolf reintroduction, which cost them big with the hunting community, until they saw games being played to stop delisting.
        The Lolo zone was one of Idaho most prestigious elk hunting unti for decades. Yes, the population has been declining for a long time. Hunting seasons have been shortened, tags reduced, bear and mountain lions seasons and tags increased to reduce predation. Habitat improvement projects have been completed with more planned, but all of this is being done, just to provide more elk for the wolves, since IDFG cannot reduce the wolf numbers too.
        Just how transparent is DOW?
        The “rhetoric” flies from both sides. The ones that are being inflexible are the ones who won’t let the states even try to manage the wolf populations to protect the balance of all the wildlife within the state. Even though these same states have successfully managed wildlife for decades.

  19. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    Wolves in Russia is a poorly written, poorly edited book. The editor is Valerius Geist. It is almost impossible to seperate fact from fantasy. Even if Graves is only a linguist, it is just a poor piece of writing. There is no index to cross reference his writing, which is very repetetive. Its as if Graves got lost with how many times he copy and pasted the same information.

    Even though there are chapters, there is no real organization. No charts, no maps, and many passages which are absurd. It probably could have been a more powerful if it were a much shorter book (I’ve read it cover to cover). There are about 20 pages of Russian “sayings” about wolves. I’m being completely honest by saying the book appears as a rush job to serve as some type of counter to wolf reintro and colonization. The poor organization and publication date warrant that conclusion.

    The appendix of Wolves in Russia is really the only part of the book that approaches scholarly. In all honesty, if you can borrow a copy, do that. Do not waste your money.



Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole