It’s good to recall the reasons-

Norman A Bishop was a naturalist interpreter for many years at Yellowstone Park, and played a key role in the wolf restoration.  He is retired and continues a vigorous life, partly as an expert ski racer. He holds many positions including the board of the Wolf Recovery Foundation, of which I’m President.

He started circulating a version of “what good are wolves” about a month ago.  It’s good to see it up on-line because it seems that 10-15 years ago everyone interested knew the reasons restoring wolves was a good idea.  With the reality of them we learned some of the ideas were not so, and there were other good reasons no one had really predicted.

Over time the opposition distorted the reasons and just made things up.  The news media produced thoughtful stories, but also too many easy ones with headlines like “Rancher loses a dog and calf to wolves . . . heartsick.”  This is variation of a common type of journalism that is disparaged  — “fuzz and was.”  That means routine police stories and dead people, usually by accidents.  Ralph Maughan

From New West, ” ‘What Good Are Wolves?’ A growing body of scientific research shows wolves are key to the ecosystems of the Northern Rockies. Here’s a condensed version compiled by a long-time wolf advocate. By Norman A. Bishop, Guest Writer.”

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

55 Responses to What Good Are Wolves? Naturalist Norm Bishop recounts

  1. jdubya says:

    In Belize along the main north highway, there is a big sign that says: “Protect carnivores, they keep nature in harmony”. People who live closer to the wild world understand such simple concepts more than those in a society devoted to driving by nature in an air conditioned Hummer.

    • Jon Way says:

      Or in air conditioned Silverado’s driving along one’s ranch tending livestock…

    • Cody Coyote says:

      Putting out a General Call here for anyone who might have a photo of that sign . I haven’t been back to Belize in 20 years. Used to go there a lot in the 80’s.

      JDub—-can you narrow down the location a little more? Some friends of mine are heading there for snorkelling and tropical layabout soon.


      • jdubya says:


        I wanted to stop and get a picture of it but we were late heading to the airport. It is on the west side of the main highway heading from the airport (Ladyville) to Orange Walk. Close to the road for the Crooked Tree preserve which is about half way up.

  2. Scott MacButch says:

    I thought the article was great – at the end you can see a link to save as a PDF file so you can attach it to an email and send to friends.

  3. Virginia says:

    I don’t see how anyone can dispute this well written, well documented and scientific article, but I am sure the wolf haters will come out of the woodwork in droves to do so.

  4. Virginia says:

    If you have time (!), go to New West and read the diatribes against this article. They are really scary – comparing wildlife supporters to Nazis and spewing hatred against anyone (including Ralph) who supports wolves’ right to exist. I am surprised that the editors of New West allow this kind of invective on their site. I guess I am naive.

    • jon says:

      They hate Ralph and this blog. They sure do talk about Ralph and this blog a lot though. There was an article on newwest about slob hunters and they locked it down because once the wolf haters showed up, they started the name calling and personal attacks and the wold advocates naturally defended themselves.

    • I think they are getting more angry because they are being exposed as having a strong poaching element among themselves (elk, deer, moose poaching), that many of them are the true outsiders to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. They moved in from somewhere else, bringing a bad attitude with them.

      When I was growing up in Idaho and Utah, these nasty kind of people just didn’t seem to exist.

      Finally, Many are tied to extremist, pushy, political movements harmful to our economy, environment and freedom. They call those they don’t like Nazis and Communists because they know so little about history or politics that they can’t name anything else.

      • william huard says:

        Reading some of the comments all I can say is WOW! The haters have conspiracy theories, references to sport-killing wolves! I didn’t realize how less than 200 wolves could be such a destructive force to wipe out all the wildlife in yellowstone! It wasn’t this bad since the government killed all the predators in Yellowstone in the 1920s. This hatred for this animal is very bizarre- I don’t get it!

  5. Virginia says:

    In my opinion (which is not worth much), these haters are also those who were bullies as children, tortured animals, learned intolerance from their parents, who are rude to others and have no self respect, let alone respect for others, be they people or animals. I see these kids in school every day, at every level. They are a pathetic bunch!

  6. Immer Treue says:

    I posted a couple, three times on the Bishop piece. You have to keep it civil, and back it up with fact, or the blood letting begins. Even then, we all have someone who is our favorite antagonist. Name calling only feeds the frenzy. In a twist of irony, I believe that the anti-wolf folks are actually becoming the wolves best friends. Their SSS and gut shooting mantra, together with the increasing poaching reports will have great impact among the “real” anti-hunters. I’m not anti-hunting, but I feel sorry for the ethical hunters who will be clumped in with the poachers, and those that practice, condone, or just turn the other way when wolves are illegally killed.

    • william huard says:

      I posted as well on the Bishop piece. The wolf haters can be shown all the proof in the world how wolves do not kill all the game animals, from IDFG reports to whatever, and like birthers they will still believe what they want to believe. There are only so many NAZI references to wolf supporters that I can handle and then it’s just like you said- it becomes name calling and nothing is solved and the divide becomes larger

  7. Immer Treue says:

    Closed due to nature of comments and attacks.

    It did get ugly fast. I would encourage all folks who engage in “debate” on these articles to keep it clean, nothing personal if at all possible, back up your argument with fact, keep it pleasant, and get out. Let’s take the high road. In the long run it will help the wolves and all wildlife. I know that I am very new to this site so I don’t want it to seem as though I am preaching.


    • Save bears says:

      Good luck, Immer, good luck!

    • SAP says:

      Immer – good that New West cut off the comments. It was absurd. Un-moderated free-for-all comment sections are worse than useless — they’re actually making the socio-cultural conflict over wolves worse. In my opinion.

      That comment section was a window into their ugly little world, so I guess it was somewhat useful? Or was that stuff I I could get along without knowing? Not sure. Anyway, I was struck by their delusional certitude that agency officials are going to go to jail over the “crimes” of the wolf reintroduction. Hmm.

      That one guy who kept going on about the Nazis – wow! Frightful twists and turns of logic. I am sure he looks at this blog when the orderlies let him go to the day room, so let me say, poor fella, the nice lady with the medicine will be there soon to make you feel better. Don’t eat your Scrabble pieces.

      • jon says:

        I read some of the comments over there and I laughed at some of them. Those wolf haters don’t have their heads screwed on the right way. Comparing wolf advocates to nazis and criminals and the claims of sending anyone involved with wolf reintroduction to jail for their supposed crime made me shake my head a bit. I am still waiting for them to provide the whole world with evidence that wolves were “introduced illegally”. I won’t hold my breath though.

      • WM says:

        You know, jon, one does not have to go back too far in the history of your participation on this forum to note that you have used some of those same derrogatory terms. So, don’t get too much into yourself thinking you hold the moral high ground, because you don’t.

  8. Rita K.Sharpe says:

    When it comes to certain subjects,the conversations can get pretty lively or heated here at times.However,it’s no way near as ugly as some posts or responses that I have read in other forums or newspapers.

  9. Immer Treue says:

    I certainly don’t intend for this to begin a slam-fest, but I believe the enviro-nazi thing is a little bit more wide spread than one might believe. I don’t know if it’s seeds belong to Limbaugh or somebody associated with FOX News, but there are young and old who embrace the term. Ironic thing is, the attack philosophy that goes along with it is very comparable to what went on in Germany as the National Socialists came into power. There are so many more “nazi” parallels with the neo-conservatives than with the so called liberal agenda. The National Socialists in Germany were extremely conservative in their philosophy.

    • SAP says:

      Immer – we took this up awhile back on this blog; I am in favor of staying far far away from that “N-word”:

      As the sign said at Jon Stewart’s rally, “Hitler is Hitler.”

      The best reason right now is that right-wing extremists are so quick to call us Nazis, that it just rapidly de-generates into “I know you are, but what am I?”

      People who lived through the era (I’m not one of them) of authoritarian genocidal regimes would tell you that today’s insane, scapegoating, crybaby theocrats may have some similarities to 1930s Nazis, and that people of goodwill and decency need to be vigilant.

      At the same time, we cheapen the horror and suffering that so many endured, that so many died from, when we stamp “Nazi! Nazi! Nazi!” all over every crank who really just needs his Depends changed.

      • Immer Treue says:

        Point taken. 2/3 a lifetime ago I “earned” a degree in History, with heavy concentration in German and Russian history. The degree never became much use, but the interest in reading about the histories of those two nations continued for a while. Let’s just say the parallels are rather significant. I recall driving through rural Illinois in the mid 80’s and spun the dial and heard Rush for the first time. I thought it was a joke until further listening confirmed the guy was serious.

      • SAP says:

        Sounds like a good degree to have!

        Re: the guy on the radio who has the painkiller problem: Scapegoating, nativism, aggressive & expansionist foreign policy . . . the parallels are there, no doubt.

    • SAP says:

      It would appear that any ideology or political orientation besides anarchy or strict libertarianism can be cast as being “just like the Nazis,” insofar as the Nazis were all about making a directed — though horrific, corrupt, murderous, bigoted, and evil — attempt to shape society.

      It’s a ridiculous comparison on most counts, and there is little to be gained by arguing over who is more like the Nazis.

  10. JEFF E says:

    well that is twice now. I go away for a night and come back and the thread has been closed. The funny thing is is that it appears that as the anti’s are posting on the one thread they are also on another websit coaching each other at the same time. I also am more than tierd with the we have a lawsuit tripe. File the damn thing or STFU.

    • william huard says:

      I noticed that Jeff too. They were saying “and he doesn’t want predators hunted”. I have to admit it wasn’t right for me to egg them on and taunt them, but you get frustrated with all the wingnut conspiracy theories, the wolf was introduced to get hunting banned, etc. The thing about these people is that they really DO believe this stuff. It doesn’t help the cause for wolf tolerance with insults going back and forth.

      • jon says:

        Before the comments were closed, one guy on there was slandering Jeff E. Jeff E shoud sue him for slandering.

  11. Bob says:

    Not looking to start a fight here, and its a good article on wolves in YNP. I do find that most the points are lost in say the real world of Montana. Most you guys are pro=wolf, so what are the pluses of wolves to Montana on a economic and ecological basis for western Montana.

    • Bob says:

      Thanks anyway.

    • Nancy says:

      Bob – thinking wolves will never be an economic benefit to what some consider a comfortable lifestyle in western Montana simply because their mere existance now demands attention to what’s been lacking for years – actually having to be responsible for their (product) livestock, instead of being able to just pick up the phone and call out the big guns (WS) Beaver gone…..coyotes gone….elk gone…….weeds gone….and lately – wolves gone.

      Why beavers, coyotes and wolves (and the huge assortment of other species that benefit from them) are a plus to our enviornment, will only be realized down the road by the few willing to understand and fight for their contributions.

    • WM says:


      I don’t know about the positive economic side of things, but if I remember correctly, a rural homeowner lost some miniature horses to wolves near St. Regis/Superior last Spring. I think these horses were in a penned area near the house. The wolves had taken a colt and dogs in the same general area,and so the wolves were destroyed.

      Folks here mostly don’t like those statistics, but they are a reality of wolves and rural humans co-existing. These are not sheep or cattle on the public grazing lands. They are stock owned by rural homeowners and there is no reimbursement for their loss, from what I understand.

      • SAP says:

        WM – I think that’s incorrect – livestock losses are reimbursed regardless of species or landowner status.

        In fact, the miniature horse claim is mentioned on MLLRMP’s Facebook page for 6 Oct 2010; no mention of rejecting the claim:

      • WM says:


        I think you are correct on the reimbursement for the miniatures, and maybe for the colt as well. I didn’t perceive they would be classified as livestock, but really, why not?

        According to the local newspapers the incident happened in late March. The MLLRMP had not approved the claim as of the end of June. The Facebook reference you point actually does not say whether the claim has been paid or not. The exact words are “Todays claims are for 4 minature horses killed this spring in Mineral County. October 6, 2010 at 1:51pm.”

        So we don’t know for sure, but there is a fairly strong presumption of payment. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it would be nearly 6 months from loss to payment.

        Here is the link to the Board’s 2009-2010 report, which includes stats thru June, application materials and explanation for the process, which generally seems to be pretty short) except for animals which have difficult valuation issues:

        Curiously, the Annual report has no discussion of proactive mitigation efforts, which I understood to be part of the program, and a condition of DOW funding of it.

  12. jon says:

    Bob Fanning says the wolf was used to suck money out of emotionally intoxicated urbanites.

    • JEFF E says:

      who got to play little red riding hood in this one.
      todd fross??

      • Salle says:

        Excuse me for this but I just can’t help myself on this one….
        (For a reasonable visual here, think of the lion in “The Wizard of OZ” crying after he pulls his own tail.)
        “BWAHHH HAW HAWWWW, we didn’t get our way and we can’t have total control over everything in the west anymore so we’re going to make up stories to make us look like the ultimate victims that we are!!! BWAHAHAHA….”

        “…and science is just such a quaint way of lying to us…. (sniff, sniff)”

        Just like spoiled rotten brats who have had their way for so long… It’s like they think they are the only people on the planet that matter and nobody can be more adversely affected by nature than those who have every intent to exploit it to smitherines.

        That’s what I heard in this video.

  13. Cody Coyote says:

    I am attempting to get my local newspaper, The Cody Enterprise, to print the Norm Bishop compilation. The Enterprise has been vehemently anti-wolf since Day 1. To print anything positive about wolves is tantamount to heresy to them .

    We’ll see.

    One thing I would very much like to see expanded here by the knowlegeable is how the findings noted in Bishop’s compilation actually apply elsewhere in the various eco-zones of the Northern Rockies. Of necessity the works cited are centered on Yellowstone Park proper.

    How much by extension can we apply to the edges of Wolf reintroduction and recovery, especially in the livestock conflict zones and the Happy Hunting Grounds of the sport hunting and outfitting turfs ? I’m pretty sure the anti-wolf cabals realize they have to cede the ground to wolves concerning Yellowstone Park proper.

    The science Bishop cites needs to be read out loud away from Yellowstone. I think we’re gonna find that the value of bona fide wolf science decreases inversely to the square of the radius from the Lamar Valley .

    It would be helpful if many of the broaderminded newspapers in WY-MT-ID were encouraged to reprint Bishop’s summary. Perhaps the readers of this blog could help facilitate that.

    Just a thought.

    ( I presume there are no constraints to the appropriate open journalistic re-publication of Norm’s compilation here—Ralph ? )

  14. Immer Treue says:

    What could possibly be wrong with tightening gun control to prevent nuts like this from getting a gun? I have no problems with rifles and shotguns for hunting, but what is the purpose for semiautomatic and automatic weapons other than for use against people?

    • Immer Treue says:


      Please delete this comment as it was a reply to someone else on another site. It was not my intention to post it here, nor does it belong here.

    • Save bears says:

      Actually, there are several semiautomatic rifles that are made for hunting, I have used a few different ones over the years before I switch to hunting with a bow, also there are several models of semiautomatic shotguns on the market.

      As far as fully automatic, to be legal, you must have a specific type of license to legally own one., the average jo blo can’t legally own a fully automatic weapon.

      • Immer Treue says:

        Save bears,

        This post was a mistake. It was supposed to go somewhere else. It does not belong here. My humble apology.

      • Save bears says:

        No apology needed, it is always and interesting subject, I am sure one of the moderators will delete it, I just happen to catch it right after you posted it…no harm no foul

      • william huard says:

        As evidenced by the carnage in arizona yesterday, a semi automatic pistol can do quite a bit of damage ya think?

      • Save bears says:

        William in the wrong hands guns as a whole can do a lot of damage…

      • william huard says:

        I don’t think most people are against hunting, or against the second amendment. My issue with the NRA is how they twist any restrictions whatsoever against using guns as an assault on the second amendment. The NH legislature is about to take up people carrying guns into the state house! How stupid can you get?

      • Save bears says:


        I think you will find many of us, that are pro 2nd are actually anti NRA..

  15. Immer Treue says:


    Please delete this comment as it was a reply to someone else on another site. It was not my intention to post it here, nor does it belong here.

  16. william huard says:

    There just seems to be a lack of basic common sense today

    • Save bears says:

      William I agree, on almost any issue that comes up, it seems as if common sense takes a back seat, one of the biggest problems I find, is common sense is subjective and almost everybody has a different idea of what constitutes common sense…

  17. Jeff N. says:

    As a resident of AZ I sit and type thiswith a broken heart. As a father of two daughters, 10 and 12, I am sick to my stomach that a beautiful 9 year old girl with an interest in politics (serving the people) was a fatality at the event held by Giffords; a very capable intelligent woman who now lies in critical condition after a bullet ripped through her skull from point blank range. My thoughts also go out to the others who were killed and injured in Tucson.

    My rage is directed at the shooter and at others I feel are indirectly responsible for this tragedy, but I digress.

    Can civility, (which I have been lacking in occasionally) reemerge after this wake up call? It must. We need to take the lead for the sake of our children and America.

    After reading comments onNew West reagarding the topic of “What Good are Wolves” and after the tragic events here in AZ, as a country, as human beings, we need to find a respectful way forward. No more intolerance, no more hate. Peace and good thoughts my friends.


January 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey