Bangs oversaw the Northern Rockies wolf restoration program for 23 years-
Montana’s ‘wolf man’. By Eve Bryon. Helena Independent Record.
23 years dealing with conservationists, ranchers, scientists, nuts, cranks, and lying politicians. Overall, I think he did a good job, especially considering the context. He kept a cool head, which was simply amazing given the policy he administered. RM
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.
22 Responses to Ed Bangs to retire
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Well deserved. Now he can enjoy observing his favorite animal the wolverine.
Talk about a thankless job…
Guys like Jimenez and Bangs feel a great sense of accomplishment( and so they should)for bringing these wolves back in the Northern Rockies. I remember having a long conversation with MR Jimenez who stated more than once that he never ever thought there would be over 300 wolves in Wyoming with the political climate being what it was and still is.
Cody- have you ever met or talked with either Bangs or Jimenez? Isn’t Jimenez from Wyoming?
I know them both. Mike is the best guy you could want out there in the field doing what he does, also thanklessly. Always responsive to questions , and straight up.
Bangs and I had a falling out over Wolf 314F, the 5-state wanderer who left Livingston MT and ended up in Colorado, poisoned. She was the star witness in the whole dispersion argument, but Bangs kept a lid on that investigation for nearly two years. They knew immediately she had been poisoned. It was not handled well.
A lot of wildlife advocates do not like Jimenez and his actions. To kill wolf pups or whole packs because of the actions of 1 or 2 wolves is unacceptable.
Jon- mostly agree , since wolf ” management” is grim work in Wyoming. Mike Jimenez is on a short leash and has to do a lot of nasty things counter to his own judgment or advice. It could’ve been worse , actually , Mike mitigated quite a lot. I only regret that we only hear about the ‘ bad’ wolves and ugly control work, and never seem to hear much about the vast majority of roaming wolves that avoid livestock and people, the ‘ good’ wolves.
Wolves are subject to some kind of perverse Napoleonic Code of justice, in that they are always presumed guilty till PROVEN innocent. And the opportunity for establishing innocence is rare. It’s simply easier to kill wolves than investigate, capture, collar , and monitor.
It’s tough trying to protect a specie for future sustainability in a state when virtually everyone in that state wants them terminated with extreme prejudice…now. Especially the real power brokers of public lands policy, the Stockgrowers who have USDA Wildlife Services just a phone call away for free ‘ service’. Jimenez can hardly go up against any of that. He was too often overwhelmed and simply deferred to the paid assassins of WS.
Jimenez finally got some long overdue sorely needed personnel to help him in the presence of Scott Becker of Cody last year, now a full time wolf specialist for NW Wyoming, the ” Hot Zone” . Will he rise to the level of integrity of Carter Niemeyer ? Hard t say , but Scott’s rp[evious employer was Wyo Game and Fish in that brief twilight period when Wyoming had delisting for a few months a couple years ago. I don;t know Scott ( yet).
What hasn’t been said here much is that US Fish and Wildlife has state directors and state offices, and Jimenez et al answer to more than just the Northern Rockies wolf coordinator in Helena. The role of DOI/USFWS personnel outside the wolf program in the Rockies has not been reported to the extent it deserves. They purposely stay in the shade, and lurk at the back of meetings.
I saw the DOI state director of USFWS having a long animated ” good old boy” conversation with the Exec of the Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife lobby group , Bob Wharf, at a meeting Bangs was running in Cody back during the abortive delisting period. Bangs was up there trying to run the meeting of maybe 400 folks, mostly hostile to wolves, while the real policy pronouncements were happening in the lobby . All that was missing were the cigars and highballs.
As it turns out , in the here and now, its Sprtsmen for Fish and Wildliffe that have everyone’s ear and pantleg in Wyoming when it comes to wolves. And that is not good…
Bangs agreed with the actions by Congress in de-listing saying it was ‘based on science and not politics.” He’s either a liar or has lost his marbles.
Ed Bangs was the author of Appendix 9 of the 1994 EIS, which set forth the metapopulation number of 300 wolves/30 breeding pairs (and genetic augmentation/translocation if necessary), which was a synthesis of the opinons of knowledgeable scientists. He affirmed this view in his declaration in the first delisting suit in 2008.
Of course the action of Congress was just affirmation of the 2009 FWS rule, which FWS says is science based.
Since the plaintiffs in the last delisting suit went off on the DPS break-up issue tangent, the science is on the sidelines for now.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, ALL policy decisions are based on politics. Science merely informs these decisions, providing the probable outcomes (with associated error) if certain actions are taken. Some of the scientific questions in this case are debatable (e.g., is the wolf population viable, what is a minimum viable population, will the population be viable under states’ regulatory schemes), but the really interesting questions are the questions of law (e.g., what constitutes “recovery” as envisioned by the ESA, what obligations do states have sans ESA protections, what is the meaning of the word “significant”, in the phrase “a significant portion of its range”). How we deal with the legal/policy questions will be much more influential in determining management over the long haul.
Sometimes when I read this blog I find myself being disappointed in some of the regulars here. I didn’t know Bangs but the man had a very hard job and deserves a long relaxing retirement. No one is going to be perfect for some people no matter what they do and it is very easy to condemn someone if their ideas don’t match yours exactly. I am amazed sometimes of the lack of tolerance towards other humans which equals if not exceeds the lack of tolerance for animals. Hence the saying that you should walk in someone else’s shoes for a mile before you begin to understand what they have to put up with. As far as I can tell, most people who post on this blog love wildlife and wild places. . there are enough people who don’t that we should be easier on those who do, even if they don’t love em just the way you do.
Well said, Linda.
If we look at the whole of his contributions to wolf recovery then Ed Bangs is to be commended and thanked. Too often people look for a few things to disagree on and use that to then label and discount an entire person’s character or career. I remember folks here saying what a horrible person Carter Niemeyer was until he retired and wrote “Wolfer” and the very same folks then said what a wonderful person he is. Ed Bangs had a supremely difficult job dealing with wolves and all the various stakeholders. It’s a safe bet that Ed Bangs did more to help wolves then anybody who posts here. That doesn’t mean he is perfect, it just means more people should realize he’s one of the good guys.
Ed Bangs and Carter Niemeyer- people who did the absolute best job with the rules and tools that were given to them. Hats off to them.
IDFG (i.e Steve Nadeau, Mark Gamblin, et al) – not so much. great at taking hysteria to the next level. don’t give a rats ass about ecosystems, conservation etc. A total joke.
Sorry, I was agreeing with Mark’s assessment of Linda’s post. Linda is right, we should spend more time focusing on the things we have in common (our interest in wildlife) rather than the things that separate us. The enemies of wildlife and wild places are too many to let petty differences divide us.
As I said, I think Ed did a pretty good job, especially considering the policy. Of the negative things he did do, we may never know on many which were his ideas and what was dictated to him from above.
I have to agree with that, Ralph. It appears that the whole tenor of Ed’s public comments turned into something other than what I saw before the W regime was installed. I watched Ed and others for years and things changed significantly after the 2000 election fiasco was ended by the SCOTUS “deciding’ who would be the pResident. Unfortunately for the rest of life on earth, they gave us a caliphate that “decided” to do their best to end life on earth (and still are threatening such results), thus, we have this advance of the anti-wildlife paradigm maintaining a strangle hold on policy and management of OUR resources… including all wildlife. I may not have been happy with some of Ed’s decisions, I know that there are other choices he made that were exceptionally profound and forward thinking.
I’ve always liked Ed, Carter, Mike, Joe, Curt and others, have great respect for them and feel honored to know them as I do. They have taken heat from idiots and zealots for nearly two decades, kept their sanity and stayed within the legalities of their positions.. a small group of exceptional people whom I will always respect, admire and speak well of.
If all of the nutballs and thankless idiots did not kill your passion for wildlife, I hope you have a wonderful retirement. You certainly deserve it!!!
Thank you for your dedication and time.
Bangs was good in the beginning. He did a great interview with Nova Online in 2000 and said some pretty amazing things about wolves.
Bringing Wolves Home: Ed Bangs
Wolf Recovery Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
“Wolves are a top-line predator. They have a major influence…”
In the end, IMO, he changed. He was behind the delisting in 2008, 2009 and agreed with what Congress did in 2011. He knows the toxic climate that exists in Montana and Idaho and still supported turning wolves over to brutal state management. Montana has a wolf archery and back country rifle season waiting for wolves, plus a 186 quota, more then double that of 2009. God only knows what Idaho is going to do. Before wolves were relisted they had baiting, calling, trapping (leg hold traps and snares) in their “bag of tricks.”
So not feeling the love for EB…..
Ed Bangs, charming, hard-not-to-like-upon meeting, and at times eloquent, has got to be one of the most talented shape-shifters ever. He participated in that tear-jerking 2000 Nova interview where he poignantly describes wolves as the “parents, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters that we always hoped we could be” but, at other times, characterized wolves as “not very bright”, “just big dogs”. “smelly”, and “like any other wildlife”.
Bangs blithely admitted to enjoying the cushy position provided by wolf “recovery” and public relations (so long as the heat didn’t get out of hand). When the controversy mounted, he obscured the issues under so much paper it took an exceptionally dedicated reader or lawyer to sort them out. Case in point: where Judge Molloy characterizes (August 5, 2010 opinion ruling against last delisting) the desperately twisted scheme to delineate the DPS on the basis of state lines as “prestidigitation” — Webster’s: “slight of hand” (I had to look this up) — not an insignificant description by the judiciary.
It seems to me that Bangs wants to be remembered as a scientist’s scientist, or at the very least, that he did his best given the “stentorian agitprop” (Molloy’s opinion) of these ugly times. But, how is that really possible, when over almost two decades, Bangs mindfully ignored the arc of the best available conservation science by, e.g., manipulating the peer reviews of his various delisting proposals (by providing limiting choices) or ignoring peer reviews which described the recovery goal as “arbitrary”, “administrative”, etc. to support a push for an inadequate recovery goal. One that he later, in another shape-shifting move, said was “too low”.
In doing so, I think Bangs provided sham “leadership” to the officials in charge of drafting the state wolf management and “conservation” plans — plans premised of course on his arbitrary recovery goal. After Bangs rubber-stamped the plans (Niemeyer’s “Wolfer”), IDFG’s and Montana’s FWP’s top officials and its priority constituents — the livestock mafia, its Congressional champions, and big sportsman (e.g. Safari Club International) – — made the most of the dismally low bar. And now the knives are sharpening.
Tragically, a historical opportunity has been dishonored– one that could have in the hands of someone who truly respected wolves and thought they were worth the trouble — kept the the species on the road to a robust meta-population thriving in its significant range.
At the end of the day, when the going gets really tough, the emperor steals our hope — then quits. Those who care about the truth willing out must not.
Wolf advocates should collectively push (and tie in their fiscal support) for a legal challenge to the obscene assault on the ESA, the illegal delisting, and the obstruction of justice.
Perhaps reflecting on Secretary Babbit’s 1995 dedication may be inspirational:
“The reintroduction of the wolf is an extraordinary statement for the American people. It reconnects our historical linkage with the wilderness that is so central to our national character. It admits to past errors and asserts our willingness to correct them. It offers a new vision of a developed society living in harmony with its magnificent endowment.”