Salazar announces wolves delisted in Rockies and hunting can begin – Idaho Statesman

Wolves will be delisted in the Northern Rockies except Wyoming on Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

The rule would reinstate the 2009 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah.

Download NR Wolf Delisting Reissuance

Western Watersheds Project expects to file litigation in U.S. District court challenging the delisting rider.

About The Author

Brian Ertz

97 Responses to Interior to Publish Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Delisting Rule

  1. Cindy says:


    • wolf moderate says:

      Finally. Now just manage these wolves responsibly please!

      • william huard says:

        How do you suppose they will do that? And if they don’t didn’t you say you would get involved directly? Perhaps getting your underdog cape out of the dry cleaners and storming the Otter mansion…

      • wolf moderate says:

        Why would I? Until the population is below 300-400 there is no reason to sound the alarm. Like the wolf season, the state will manage the wolves perfectly. Possibly not like you would like to see, but they will ensure the population stays above 300 no doubt. I would love to make bets on this! I’m a gambler.

      • Jay says:

        Just curious wo-mo–you seem fine with managing wolves down to the absolute biological minimum, so how about bears and lions? Should the roughly 2500 lions and 20,000 black bears be knocked down to biological minimums as well? If not, why the differential treatment between three effective predators of elk and deer (elk calves and deer fawns in the case of black bears)?

      • wolf moderate says:

        The minimums would be 100. 300-600 is well above that. Misinterpret my views all you want though, if it makes you feel better.

      • Jay says:

        Really? You’re going to go down that avenue? I said “biological minimum” not legal. So you don’t see the difference between 20,000, 2,500, and 300-600?

      • wolf moderate says:

        I am foremost a hunter, therefore want a viable and healthy ungulate population. If they want to reduce the populations of bears and cougars to allow for more wolves that is fine with me. Just stating my opinion like everyone else, excuse me if it doesn’t align with yours. For wolves yes! For infinite wolves, no!

        It’s funny that I get “accused” of being a wolf “lover” by some hunting blogs and a wolf hater on others! I guess I really am a wolf “moderate” LOL.

      • jon says:

        I saw your comments on hunting washington. Most of them did not think you were a hunter. I guess if you don’t share the same views as them, there is no way you can be a hunter. You still use your military id if trouble comes your way while hunting?

      • jon says:

        And the people on that forum only care about their hunting opportunities.

      • wolf moderate says:


        I was 19 years old and made a mistake. It is very difficult to ascertain what is and is not private land. Of course I’ve used the military ID…Especially when pulled over for speeding.

        Even IDFG Director makes mistakes!

      • Jay says:

        That’s exactly why those “rich white liberals” get to have a say in management of lands that support wildlife for everyone to appreciate and enjoy–otherwise, “moderates” such as yourself would eliminate every wolf, cougar, and bear to make room for more deer and elk to shoot.

      • wolf moderate says:

        Fair enough Jay. No sense arguing over this 🙂

        Good luck!

    • Nabeki says:

      “September 24, 2010
      Idaho Rule 10(j) Proposal, Lolo Zone
      The proposed wolf removal in the Lolo Zone is limited to one of 29 Elk Management Zones in Idaho. This selective and localized wolf removal effort will likely improve elk survival in a very important Elk Management Zone and will not reduce Idaho’s wolf population below 20
      breeding pairs and 200 wolves.”

      As of September 24, 2010, according to this proposal, Idaho is managing for 200 wolves and 20 breeding pairs.

      So lets see, there are approx 700 to 750 wolves in Idaho right now, This sounds like Idaho will allow wolf numbers to drop to 200. Or has that changed to the even more radical 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs?

      • jon says:

        Nabeki, Jon Rachael from idfg recently said he thinks there are 1000 wolves in Idaho. Whether it is 200 or 100 wolves, you are looking at 800 plus wolves killed. This is unacceptable.

      • jon says:

        and people keep using the min #.

        “Robert Wielgus, director of Washington State University’s Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, says more than 10 years of work tracking cougars indicates that losses of livestock to cougars go up in heavily hunted areas: “It’s counterintuitive and hard for people to swallow.”

        “Moore said Idaho’s goal, as set by the state Legislature, will be to manage its wolf population in such a way that there’s no risk of falling below the federal minimum of 150 wolves in the state at any time and risking federal sanctions or re-listing. “Wolves are here to stay, OK, they are part of the landscape,” he said. “Whether you agree with how they got here or why they got here, they are now wards of the state and we will manage them appropriately, in balance with the management goals we have for other species, and we will avoid any risk of ever getting these things back listed again in our management actions, just like we plan to do with all species that we have.”

        They say they are going to manage them appropriately, but how is killing all but 150 wolves out of a wolf population of 700-1000 wolves managing them appropriately? People are watching and if they mess up, they will pay the price for it.

      • Savebears says:

        I was one of the first that posted on this blog, that I was against the congress delisting wolves. But I have to say, all of these people running around saying, we are watching and they will pay, does not take into account, there are minimum numbers defined, and as long as they don’t go below those numbers, nobody is going to pay..there is nothing I can find that shows this is unconstitutional, there is no suppression of free speech and there is no separation of powers issue that I can find, due to the fact, the same entity passed the original law and they changed the law to delist them.

        As I said, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, the same entity enacted legislation on both sides, I will be interested in seeing the arguments, both for and will set precedence in the US.

        I would love to see the in depth opinion of someone that is more familiar with environmental as well as constitutional law than I am..


      • Savebears says:

        Until such time as the President has the ability to use a line item veto, we are going to continue to see this type of legislation. One thing, I was 100% for, when Bush was in office and he talked about it quite often is the ability of the President to use the power of line item veto..but it did not garner much support!

    • Nabeki says:

      Here we go, so much for responsible state management. They just want to get rid of the wolves period. Wolves in the North Fork have been living in Montana for thirty years and now they will be included in this pogrom.

      220 wolves out of a population of barely 500 and this doesn’t count the carnage by WS, another 145 wolves or so added to the 220 count. Montana could lose 370 wolves in just one season.

      Wolf delisting slated again for Montana, the Rockies

      Montana officials are proposing to allow 220 gray wolves to be shot during the state’s second wolf hunting season this fall after Congress directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the predators.

      The figure is the highest proposed quota yet in the state — up from 186 in the canceled 2010 season and 75 in the inaugural wolf hunting season in 2009. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the new quota will result in a 25 percent reduction from the estimated 2010 population of 566 wolves in the state. The Independent Record in Helena reports a federally approved wolf management plan requires the state to maintain a minimum of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs.

      So much for Bangs doing a good job. He was the driving force to strip wolves of their ESA protections in the Northern Rockies. He knew the toxic environment they would be subjected to and yet he had the nerve to declare them recovered and turn them over to brutal state management. Idaho plans on baiting, trapping, calling, archery, the use of snares, leg hold traps. This will destroy wolf families and subject them to immense suffering.
      “Salazar said he is convinced that their delisting is warranted, especially after talking to Ed Bangs of Helena, who was in charge of the reintroduction and recovery effort for the USFWS.

      “Two years ago I had an hour with Ed Bangs, who knows more about wolves than anybody on this planet,” Salazar said. “He has no doubt that wolves are recovered, yet because of the way the Act worked, it was very difficult for us to implement that program.”
      Blah, blah and blah. This isn’t science, it’s a political delisting witch hunt. Somebody tell me how 4000 wolves in the Great Lakes is acceptable and barely 1500 in the Northern Rockies isn’t when this is a bigger land mass with far fewer people. The cattle barons don’t rule in Minnesota like they do here, that’s why.

      These wolves are going to be slaughtered down to miniscule numbers. Shame on everyone that was a part of this. They are being scapegoated just like they were a hundred years ago and are going to pay a bloody price for this campaign of hate. It makes me sick.

  2. Wow! Kudos to the gutsy, principled Western Watersheds Project for considering a challenge to the Tester rider, an obscene obstruction of justice and assault on the ESA and the recovery of wolves — resistance fighters for the “geography of hope”. Said challenge pays homage to Secretary Babbit’s 1995 dedication: “The reintroduction of the wolf is an extraordinary statement. 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 society living in harmony with its magnificent endowment.” WWP can count on my financial support.

    • william huard says:

      I don’t think aerial gunning of wolves during denning season is what Babbit meant by a new vision of a society living in harmony with it’s magnificent endowment. I hope this whole mess blows up Idaho’s image of being true stewards of the land.

  3. Here’s what else they proposed today concerning wolves.

    delisting Western Great Lakes DPS, status review of gray wolves (includes Western Great Lakes, Northern Rockies, and Southwestern DPSs) and reclassifying eastern wolves as a different species.

    My hunch- new species for eastern U.S., then delisted as extinct and then makes moot lawsuit to force FWS to reintroduce wolves into their historic, but vacant habitats east of the Rockies.

    • MAD says:

      Larry, your link doesn’t work anymore.

      I have a link for the press release from Interior where they talk about the new Eastern Timber Wolf (Canis lycaon).

      As far as FWS being able to classify the Eastern wolf as being extinct, that is going to be fairly difficult for them to do. Especially since there are living wolves that are remnants of those populations in Ontario. In fact, the scientists who have done the genetic work for the last 10 years (Paul Wilson and crew @ Trent University) that laid the groundwork for this decision have extensively tested Eastern wolves, Eastern coyotes, Red wolves and Gray wolves in the Great Lakes region in order to understand and show how there really is a different species that populated the East coast and not just your garden variety Gray wolf from Central or Western North America.

  4. Wolf's Lament says:

    In reference to: But he is confident the states will protect the predator that has prompted wide controversy.

    “We don’t expect any problems,” Salazar said.

    The concepts of reasonable or responsible do not apply wherever there is a persistent malice with an itchy trigger finger. Salazar is not only delusional , but also sorely underestimates the human glee factor for vengeance. If he seriously believes that states such as Idaho or Montana will actually protect the wolf, considering all the theatrics and wolf hysteria, as well as the unscrupulous maneuvers employed to delist them….

    I am left to wonder if anyone in government is really “in touch” with reality…or if they merely lapse in and out at their convenience.

    Go Western Watersheds Project!!!

  5. Wolf “Moderate”,

    How can three hundred wolves possibly constitute a genetically sustainable metapopulation over the wolves’ significant range (if not its historical range). Particularly when the lead Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner issued his infamous letter last spring authorizing independent controls actions by the regional supervisors without a protocol for mandating management for genetic connectivity? Remember also , there were over 350, 000 wolves in the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century and 87,000 were killed for bounties in the Rockies alone in a seven year period. 300 is a cruel joke at best and moreover without scientific basis — simply an “adhoc”, “arbitrary”, and “minimalist” one. (just a few of the 2002 peer comments on the 10-10-10 “recovery” goal).

    • wolf moderate says:

      I meant 300-400 minimum only for Idaho not the entire NRM region. We are living in a different world, thus having thousands of wolves running around is not possible. Anything more than about 600 is too many in my opinion. Not sure about the genetically sustainable argument, being that the population was re-introduced with only a few dozen. Honestly, not even sure that it matters. I don’t see an issue with any population of wolves over what the state decides being shipped to other states. It appears that even the more liberal states, such as Oregon and Washington aren’t even fond of having anything more than a token population of wolves in there state…

      • JimT says:

        so, we are back to accept the status quo for public land ranchers and their cows, and marginal existence for wolves given the state attitudes, and the blatant statements by anti wolf folks that it will be open season on wolves to protect elk so they can kill them for profit. Sorry, not buying burying my head in the sand approach. Pendulums always swing back…

      • Especially when Idaho starts, possibly tomorrow, aerial gunning 50 wolves in the Lolo in deep snow, some that are nursing mothers with hungry pups left in the lurch.

        I would think that some photos might speak to millions and start the momentum of swinging that pendulum the other way.

    • JB says:

      Wolf moderate:

      On what basis have you judged 600 to be “too many”? I understand setting population minimums based upon MVP estimates or other scientifically-based numbers, but I can’t fathom how anyone could estimate an “over-abundant” wolf population? It seems what hunters object to is big game (ungulate) impacts, and what livestock producers object to is impacts on livestock. So why not define “overabundance” relative to these impacts? For example, wolves could be considered overabundant in an area when they have been shown to negatively impact elk populations in that area; or when they take ?% of available livestock.

      If what people object to are the impacts, then why would you set a population maximum without some estimate as to what these impacts are/will be?

      • wolf moderate says:

        Sorry, I was just telling Huard what my opinion was. To tell you the truth I think that there are too many wolves in certain areas and hope they allow bounties. It’s an economical way to reduce populations in areas where the state decides they need to be reduced. However I do not condone gassing dens or aerial gunning. Like someone said, those methods of reducing the population of wolves would/will not go over well with the general public and might indeed make the pendulum move towards re-listing.

        I say ship the excess wolves to areas that want them. Make the receiving state pay costs. Maine and California could support wolves in certain areas. Why does the NRM have to be the rich white liberals zoo? Make there own in there own states…

      • jon says:

        You hope they allow bounties? I sometimes wonder about you. If you don’t like wolves, fine, I’ll accept that even I don’t agree with it. no need to hide your true feelings. By saying you hope they allow bounties just proves you are not the moderate you claim you are. Exactly what is too many wolves in certain areas according to you? I’d love the idea bringing wolves to Maine. I’m sure there are quite a few californians that would like wolves in their state as well.

      • Elk275 says:

        I have a deal Jon. We the people of Montana will trade you all the wolves that you want, if you will trade us all the lobsters and clams that we want.

      • wolf moderate says:

        Bounties are the most economical way of managing wolves IMO. I am a realist and understand that our country is not in fiscally sound condition. Why can’t “moderates” advocate for bounties…So long as it doesn’t jeopardize the long-term viability of the population.

      • jon says:

        elk, send all of the wolves in MT to my state. I don’t mind one bit. The deer hunters will be pissed off though.

        wolf mod, bounties should be outlawed. I’m sure there are other things one can do to earn a little cash on the side. Bounties is why wolves were wiped out before.

      • Immer Treue says:

        Wolf Mod,

        I don’t agree with some of your philosophy, but I give you credit for airing your feelings and opinions, and staying rather “cool” about it. I would think from what you write, your technical skills on the knobbies are more than adequate.

  6. Alan Gregory says:

    Politics, a k a phony science, wins again.

  7. Alan Gregory says:

    Also brings to mind the attempt a decade or so ago, by a Pennsylvania Game Commission commissioner to make things easier for small-game hunters by attempting to pass a new rule authorizing the taking, by gunfire if need be, red-tailed hawks in the state.

  8. Wolf's Lament says:

    Question: Has there been any kind of study to see what other factors may be involved in declining populations of elk etc. in western states, or is it automatically presumed that wolves are responsible?

    • Salle says:

      For those with political clout in the NRM states, ei friends of ButcherBoy Otter and Larry wide-stance and the dink, I mean Dirk, think that if they say it’s science then it’s science. In their (w)reckoning the repeatability of the scientific method includes the concept that what they say, if repeated often enough, constitutes the repeatabililty factor of the scientific method. They seem to gain audience by playing the “victimhood, incorporated” song ad nauseum.

  9. Somehow in their twisted proposed new rule for gray wolves, they have arbitrarily decided that the Great Plains offers no suitable habitat for gray wolves.

    Must have forgotten history – legions of gray wolves, elk, grizzly bears, pronghorn antelope, and American bison populated the Great Plains, before the buffalo hunters wiped out the giant herds. There were also 1000s of sq miles of prairie dog towns with thriving populations of black-footed ferrets before poisoning, trapping, and plowing (Dust Bowl Days photo opps).

    Now, some places like Dodge City, KS (along US Hwy 50) boast scenic overlooks of large cattle feedlots.

    I remember hiking along the Cimarron River on the Cimarron National Grasslands in SW Kansas and coming upon two 6×6 bull elk hidden in some tall grass and riparian vegetation. If you can hide a trophy bull elk, there is certainly habitat suitable for gray wolves.

    Where are Rutgers University’s Poppers and their dream of a “Buffalo Commons” when you need them?

  10. And in Idaho, aerial gunning of wolves during denning season with pups might begin tomorrow for 50 adults in the Lolo according to IDFG’s Virgil Moore.

    • JB says:

      This is a mistake. Most (though certainly not all) people will accept a fair chase hunt of wolves, but when you start using planes to kill wolves on federal public lands for the sole purpose of boosting hunter harvest then you are simply asking for a fight. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      • william huard says:

        But it’s a science based plan

      • william huard says:

        These actions by Idaho should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is why many of us were apprehensive, we knew this would become a bloodbath, as JB said, to boost hunter harvest. As if it’s not bad enough you have these know- it- alls like Wolf Moderate talking about freaking bounties. Take an already irrational hatred for an animal and then mix in some financial incentive- that will really help.

      • Rita K.Sharpe says:

        It is stupid,stupid studid.

      • JEFF E says:

        Well the state always said that they could “manage” them, “just like the state manages other game species”.
        Most thinking people knew that was a crock of shit from the word go and here comes the proof.

    • Immer Treue says:

      If there are so many wolves in the Lolo zone, let the hunters take care of it when the season begins. They’ve got there damn season, wait until it begins, then they can manage the population as is done with other game species. No other “game” animal is managed by aircraft.

      I agree, with your statement at 6:45 and your earlier thread. ***”It seems what hunters object to is big game (ungulate) impacts, and what livestock producers object to is impacts on livestock. So why not define “overabundance” relative to these impacts? For example, wolves could be considered overabundant in an area when they have been shown to negatively impact elk populations in that area; or when they take ?% of available livestock.”***

      … then adjust wolf numbers in those zones.

      Would that not be true “management” of the wolf population.

      • wolf moderate says:

        That is what they do. There are quota’s for each Fish and Game region.

        Page 2.

      • Immer Treue says:

        For some reason I can’t open your link.

        But my other comment, no other “game” animal is managed by aircraft, I believe would still stand. I hope Lolo wolves radio collared are low in numbers.

      • wolf moderate says:

        This one should work. I agree with you guys on aerial gunning…

      • Immer Treue says:

        Wolf Mod,

        Got it.

      • JB says:

        Yes, this is generally how one manages a game species, and it is what they tried in 2009. However, they have had problems killing wolves in the Lolo–either because they are hard to hunt, or because there are not as many wolves as they suspect (or both).

        To be clear, I think aerial gunning and other methods that are extremely unpopular with the public will eventually galvanize support for further protections in the same way that continued law suits galvanized opposition to listing. Instead of seeking a “balanced” approach, the pendulum is swinging in between what people on either end of the spectrum want.

        This whole debacle is nothing if not frustrating to watch.

    • JEFF E says:

      Then Clem says’s, “Gov. Butch Otter said the state has done everything the federal government has asked, including accepting higher numbers of wolves.

      “Actually, we didn’t want them here at all,” Otter said. “But they said ‘Don’t worry about it, because you will only have a hundred wolves.’”
      Clem ,you know that is a bald faced dumb ass lie.
      Fortunately that is what is expected from you, so it is no surprise.

      Read more:

      • william huard says:

        The most troubling aspect of all of this was that Boxer probably got a half an hour briefing from her buddy Max Baucus about how wonderful everything would be for wolves and how they would benefit from state wildlife control actions. I’m sure the points about aerial gunning of wolves during denning season and other “minor details” were probably not discussed. How irresponsible- I for one will not let them escape my displeasure. What a cynical and tragic series of events.

  11. Here is MT FW&P’s proposal for their May 12 Helena Commission meeting with a proposed public comment period before finalizing in July. 220 wolves vs 75 in their inaugural hunting season.

    • Savebears says:

      It will indeed be interesting to see how this plays out, as Congress is the body that originally wrote the law that allow them to be listed and nobody challenged the constitutionality of that action..without Congress the possibility exists there would be no Endangered Species Act…

  12. jon says:

    There is some good news out of this, wolves in WA and OR won’t be hunted as their populations are too small. This wolf issue isn’t over by a long shot. What needs to be worked on next is getting rid of wildlife services.

  13. Great commentary re: the Great Plains being suitable habitat. How about eastern Montana as well — adjacent to the newly established American Prairie Reserve (not sure about the name). Release GYA’s unwanted bison along with a wolf pack or two for starters?

    • Elk275 says:

      So you want to release bison and wolves on private land. I hunt Eastern Montana; there is BLM lands but no large contiguous tracts that would support a eco system with wolves and bison and we might as well release some grizzlies. Bye the way, I would like to see it as much as anyone but it is not going to happen or in the near future.

      It is going to take years to acquire enough land for the Bison reserve.

  14. Craig says:

    I Hope for all this works out for the best and Wolves Elk/Deer do well and people let the hate subside and all species prosper. It’s a lot better to put our energy towards getting cattle/Sheep off our public lands.

  15. WM says:

    ++Western Watersheds Project expects to file litigation in U.S. District court challenging the delisting rider. ++

    Just when most begin to think this fiasco is nearly over, there is yet another chapter to be written.

    One can only speculate as to the legal theory(ies) which will be advocated for the purpose of delaying/preventing delisting.

    Hopefully, we can see the forthcoming legal complaint that will be filed. It is unclear at this point whether WWP will be joining the other four advocacy groups in the same Complaint or whether they go on their own. I am intrigued by the apparent Constitutional “separation of powers” claim which it appears some groups will be advancing. It was my understanding the language in the rider that said no “judicial review” of the FWS 2009 administrative rule on delisting was a superfluous reference to emphasize that the rule would not be subject to review under the Administrative Procedures Act, as would an agency administrative rule, because the rule is now a statute passed by the legislative branch – Congress.

    1. Query, whether there are justiciable issues present, or this is one more legal tactic to delay delisting while the Court reviews the complaint and hears the arguments?

    2. Query, whether such a complaint, if not justiciable is deemed frivolous, and subject to sanctions by the Court?

    3. Query, whether Judge Molloy, now on Senior Judge status, will keep the case, or hand it off to another Judge?

    4. Query whether wolves will go back on the list, or whether contemplated hunting or other state control actions will be timely scheduled and carried out?

    5. Query whether such complaints are filed for the purpose of posturing and seeking a court ordered settlement (by agreement of the parties) resulting in a higher “minimum number” of wolves than the current rule/law contemplates, while the Court rides herd over the states to stay well above the miniumums?

    Of all these possibilities, I vote for Molloy keeping the case and overseeing a settlement that hits the middle ground for management goal numbers of wolves in the NRM, while keeping the newly adopted law (formerly the FWS rule) in place.

    • WM says:

      Am I optimistic that this will be the out come, with wolf populations being protected at higher levels, but states being able to manage wolves in conjunction with other wildlife objectives? Not really.

      There is one other possibility – WY comes up with an acceptable plan which FWS approves, and the DPS issue goes away, and the science of wolf recovery goes forward in the existing suit. This is, of course, is where this suit should have been headed before it was judicially derailed over the DPS issue, that resulted in the quick and dirty legislative fix wolf advocates and some of us in the middle don’t care for.

      I bet some of those who were at the heart of passing the 1973 ESA are rolling over in their graves, disgusted at what the polar viewpoints have been advocating.

    • JB says:

      “Just when most begin to think this fiasco is nearly over, there is yet another chapter to be written.”

      One need only look to Alaska’s recent ballot initiatives, along with tourist boycotts brought about by their wolf and grizzly policies for a preview of what is coming should states move forward with plans to kill wolves outside of a regulated, fair-chase hunt. Delisting certainly allows for sane policy with respect to wolves, but I am not optimistic that sanity is in the cards. Unfortunately, this issue is too politically lucrative for politicians to pass up.

  16. Cody Coyote says:

    Cripes, WM—what legal ” theories” are you referring to ? The Separation of Powers is not a theory …it’s bedrock. Congress violated it by forcing delisting onto the Executive Branch while the issue was still in court—still in the court! — then telling the Judicial Branch they were excluded from adjudicating that.

    The Simpson-Tester wolf rider was fiat by Men , not rule of law. I laud Western Watershed for keeping to the high ground here and staying the course by whatever means necessary. There really aren’t many workable options outside the courtroom.

    The only thing we can all agree on is my state of Wyoming is still in the doghouse for having a malicious wolf management plan .

    • WM says:


      Happens in tax law all the time, and other areas of federal law. Congress passes a law, and an agency (IRS in the tax example) gets wrapped around the axle when promulgating rules under law, which is obvious by the amount of litigation and the outcomes of the litigation, even pending litigation. Congress then changes the law – EVEN WHILE THINGS ARE STILL PENDING IN COURT. Pretty simple, lots of precident for it, and that happens all the time. Laws are changed at the local, state and federal level, EVEN WHILE A CASE IS IN COURT.

      And do recall, Congress passes a law, and if the President signs it, it becomes the law of the land. So, there is no going around the Executive branch; the President consents when he signs it! Many laws, empower the agencies to write regulations – that is how they get their authority and why the Federal Register is full of draft and final regulations, which then are reviewed as against the law under the Administrative Procedures Act.

      The difference here, as I understand it, is Congress says we agree with the rule and that is now the law (thereby changing the underlying law under which the rule was developed). It is surgically precise and does not open the can of worms that a full blown review of the ESA would generate – that is both the good and the bad of it.

      Then, of course, we have the manner in which it was passed as a rider. But, riders (irrelevant and unrelated to the core of a particular bill) are attached to those bills all the time.

      I haven’t given this alot of thought from a litigation standpoint, so I, like you presumably, am interested in seeing what legal claims, yes “theories,” these groups are likely to advance. Lawyers often use the term or ask the question, “What is the theory of your case?”

      • MAD says:


        While I agree that there is precedent for Congress altering laws and changing things, even with pending litigation, I’m not sure the tax example is perfectly analogous and fitting.

        Tax law is entirely a regulatory morass of rules and procedures wholly created by politicians and agencies. It’s sole purpose is based on money and whomever has the political juice can carve out an exception. Whereas, the ESA and other environmental laws have at their core an ideal or goal, and they are dependent on many other laws and radically different types of criteria. The ESA, NEPA, CAA, CWA and others have at their heart a science-based concept for the promulgation of rules, regs and actions. For the most part, politics has been excluded, as well as the evil, cost-basis analysis. Obviously, in today’s world politics and money affect everything and you wind up with exceptions like 10(j) in the ESA to appease certain groups (in addition to exceptions in other laws like the CWA for hydrofracking, etc).

        Now add in that pesky Public Trust Doctrine, and you’ve got a whole different ball game. I’d like to see the complaints that are filed in relation to the challenges before I start saying they have no legal basis or a slim chance of success. I’m no where near a legal scholar where I can speak authoritatively on a subject before looking at what others are planning to do.

      • WM says:


        We do, indeed, need to see the complaints before drawing conclusions – even then it will require a court to figure it out, and maybe higher levels than a trial court.

        And, I have stated before I don’t like analogies so much because they break down at some level. I was just trying to quickly think of another area of law, recognizable to all, where Congress goes about making statutory changes in the face of continuing pending litigation under regulations. I believe it works for that purpose. You do bring up important distinctions, which I acknowledge.

        Just to be clear, to my knowledge, there is a very limited and not particularly well recognized federal Public Trust Doctrine (at least the way Professor Joseph Sax envisioned in back in the early 1970’s), and mostly it applies to water and access to public lands.

        Congress does set out goals in most environmental legislation that seem to have public trust like elements, however. It is usually when states can’t get things done by themselves, and in the interests of a federal unified effort that these statutes get passed by Congress. The states, however, are for the most part, given major first line roles in implementation of the statutes under broad general federal guidance (* that is certainly a distinction from tax law. LOL).

        And, that kind of takes us back to the core of what is at stake in the legal defect of the FWS rule, and the “legislative fix under the rider” – finding a way around the technical defect of the ESA by allowing ID and MT to implement their approved plans under the law, when WY does not have one.

  17. NotafanofWW2 says:

    Oh No! Now Scott Rockholm will have to get a job!

    • william huard says:

      Are these Environmental groups all going to do separate suits? You would think it would be more effective to stay together and file one suit- and stay unified….This approach doesn’t make sense

    • WM says:

      Are there links to any of the complaints which have been filed, yet?

      • WM says:

        Apparently the only link available for any of the suits filed or to be filed objecting to the rider is to the complaint filed by CBD. If anyone has seen the other complaints and can lead us to them it would be appreciated.

        Curiously, the CBD Complaint alleges that the rider DOES NOT amend the ESA, and provides no new substantive law. If this turns out to be the case, then a separation of powers argument is more compelling, as the case goes away from making new law as some of us suggested it did, and more into the realm of telling the judicial branch what it cannot do regarding the rule (a troubling thought by itself).

        Most of us, myself included, based on media coverage (not always reliable, for sure) believed the intent of the rider was in fact to very narrowly substantively amend the ESA in such a way as it applied only to the NRM DPS wolves, and only in the way prescribed specifically by the 2008 FWS delisting rule. Standing alone, maybe that is explainable, and permissible under the law.

        On the other hand, I saw a statement from Tester’s PR guy in a print media piece, saying something to the effect that the rider was not intended to over-rule Molloy’s decision (arguably so it is not case specific, which may or may not be a problem), AND it was not meant to amend the ESA. So, this creates a bit of confusion. Maybe there will be Congressional history, to the extent the rider was ever specifically discussed in Committee (or on the floor), to tell whether it was intended, implicitly or explicitly, to amend the ESA. Most likely we won’t know what that history is until the parties start exhanging papers as the case develops.

        In the meantime, will the parties seek injunctive relief as ID and MT start preparations for their lethal control efforts? AND, importantly, will Molloy keep the case?

      • wolf moderate says:


        I am thinking that Tester and company could delist the wolves ONLY in the NRM’s due to the fact that they fall under the 10(j) status. Being that they are a “non essential” experimental species. This is just me thinking out loud, I have no proof to back this up. Had it been a non 10 (J) species protected under the ESA is where I could see justification to sue.

      • wolf moderate says:

        I am thinking this because otherwise they would have de-listed the Great Lakes wolves also…

      • WM says:

        wolf moderate,

        1. The NRM DPS delisting proposal includes all wolves within MT, including those that are not 10(j) reintroduced wolves, , the ones that have naturally repopulated from Canada, but are within the DPS boundary.

        2. The Great Lakes wolves are proposed for being delisted too, under a separate delisting rule just announced, Tuesday (and announcement of a national wolf strategy).

        Geez, this is something like the third or fourth attempt for GL wolves, too – each time foiled by HSUS (obstructionist animal rights group that does not want any delisted/killed for any reason and will keep them listed forever if they get the chance) as the lead plaintiff. It is this elitist obstructionist crap that may very well result in the ESA being changed in major ways, if the political winds blow the wrong way.

      • wolf moderate says:

        I agree. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, as we saw w/ the DPS crap. Now they want to push it with these new lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the wolf rider? That is a surefire way to weaken the ESA guaranteed. Wolves are not endangered and it’s clear that these lawsuits are emotionally based. I wish these organizations would better utilize there resources, not on lawsuits, but on actually helping save species that are truly endangered. oh well, it’s there money and they are free to spend as they wish. Also, uncle sam will pay them back there legal fees… Sweet!

  18. Here is CBD’s press release for their Missoula suit against delisting:

    Here is what CBD had to say about delisting and changing status in Eastern U.S.:

  19. need to listen to Scott Simon, Weekend Edition Saturday-NPR, interviewing NY Times Jim Robinson (based out of Helena, MT) on wolves – real one-sided and inaccurate, but it reached millions -needs the facts = audio will be available at about 10 AM Mountain

    • This is the same guy who wrote a slanted story a few years ago on the Montana fluvial grayling for the NY Times and how the area ranchers were “volunteering” their water to help recover the imperiled fish. Of course, this was the same water that belonged in the Big Hole River watersheds’ streams and rivers and the farmers and ranchers stole without expansive water claims that Montana says have no basis in fact.

    • Jim Robbins- not Robinson – sorry; audio is now available for your listening pleasure.

      • Salle says:

        He came to the used-to-be annual wolf conference a time or two. Seemed like his main interest was getting laid. He wrote some garbage about the event then and all his writing about wildlife and natural resources is usually a pile of rubbish that ignores those important but pesky points regarding the reality of the subject matter and has little factual basis. A true fauxjournalist of the times.

    • Salle says:

      After listening to the 3+ minute segment, I am now calling for those who would like to hear a more balanced reporting of this issue to write a letter to Mr. Simon asking him to do a more balanced report and to call him out on using this obviously biased reporter for the story.

      • wolf moderate says:


        What did he say that offended you? He seemed pretty “fair and balanced”. He wasn’t spouting off like Ron Gillete or some of the wolf advocates, he just talked about the facts imo.

      • Salle says:

        Tell me what parts were “factual” please. Or properly represented, as in his opinion on whether there were too many wolves and the impact they have on a relativity basis… Those are parts of what I found offensive.

      • WM says:


        I listened to it twice, and found it to be pretty balanced, and no mis-statements of facts. This is a whole bunch more balanced than the piece David Broncaccio did for Public TV a number of months back.

      • Immer Treue says:

        A three minute blurb does not allow for a whole lot of detail. I’m sure that the “opposing side” of the wolf argument would find just as much with which to disagree.

      • Salle says:

        I’m sure that many could disagree with nearly any part of this interview which, I feel, wasn’t anything more than placating lip service to the fact that NPR actually noticed that something happened and they can point to the fact that a piece was done… kind of like when Reagan was it(?) said, “Mistakes were made”.

        And, Immer is right, three minutes doesn’t make for much of a discussion of a big topic. I think they shouldn’t have bothered to waste their time ~ and ours ~ on it if they were only going to interview, sort of, some corporate media rep who doesn’t really do more than catch a few headlines for his research.


May 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

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