Judge Donald Molloy has upheld Congress in the case involving the legislative rider to the 2011 Budget Bill which had the effect of delisting wolves in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon, and Utah.

He writes:

“If I were not constrained by what I believe is binding precedent from the Ninth Circuit, and on-point precedent from other circuits, I would hold Section 1713 is unconstitutional because it violates the Separation ofPowers doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Klein, 80 U.S. 128 (1871). However, our Circuit has interpreted Robertson v. Seattle Audubon Society, 503 U.S. 429 (1992), to hold that so long as Congress uses the words “without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies,” or something similar, then the doctrine of constitutional avoidance requires the court to impose a saving interpretation provided the statute can be fairly interpreted to render it constitutional.”

At this time there has been no decision as to whether to appeal this to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge upholds provision stripping wolf protections
Associated Press.

Order denying Pltffs SJ – Wolf Rider

Order Closing Case 8.3.11

More from the decision:

The issues in this case cannot be resolved without considering the rule of law.  This case presents difficult questions for me.  The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011  is a tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.  The principle behind the rule of law is to provide a mechanism and process to guide and constrain the government’s exercise of power.  Political decisions derive their legitimacy from the proper function of the political process within the constraints of limited government, guided by a constitutional structure that acknowledges the importance of the doctrine of Separation of Powers.  That legitimacy is enhanced by a meaningful, predictable, and transparent process.

In this case Defendants argue -unpersuasively- that Congress balanced the conflicting public interests and policies to resolve a difficult issue.  I do not see what Congress did in the same light.  Inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient, but it transgresses the process envisioned by the Constitution by avoiding the very debate on issues of political importance said to provide legitimacy.  Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders to legislation that must be passed.

However, the rule of law does not apply only to Congress; it also applies equally to the courts. The courts are supposed to apply the laws that Congress has enacted.  Judges cannot make new law or write laws when those that are written by Congress are unclear or ambiguous.  The Separation of Powers requires us to discern the difference between arguments of policy and arguments of principle.  It is the function of Congress to pursue arguments of policy and to adopt legislation or programs fostered by recognizable political determinations.  It is the function of the courts to consider arguments of principle in order to enforce a statute, even if the statute itself stems from an altered policy. This distinction holds true even when the legislative process employed involves legislative prestidigitation.


About The Author

Ken Cole

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. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

101 Responses to Molloy Upholds Wolf Rider.

  1. Jeff N. says:

    Well I guess the floodgates have been opened…..bye bye ESA as we know it.

  2. jon says:

    The environmental groups said they would appeal the ruling. Is an appeal a waste of time at this point in time when the idaho wolf hunt is only a few weeks away?

    • Phil says:

      I agree with Merdoch. Any appeal has the chance of being overturned. As long as you can get that substantial evidence then anything can happen.

  3. Merdoch says:

    Jon, I don’t see why on earth an appeal would be a waste of time simply based on that detail.

    The available evidence is strongly against most of Idaho’s wolves being quickly killed overnight in wolf hunts. (You have the evidence from the hunt numbers from last year in combination with the fact the number of wolf tag numbers sold have not been that huge this year.) This means its not going to be a situation where Idaho’s wolf population is going to be down to close to 150 say a month after the full scale wolf hunts begin. The threat of this sort of drop occurring really is more of a medium term concern.

    If the number of wolves being killed is large enough, that also gives the 9th Circuit an incentive to rule on the case more quickly since it shows potentially serious harm by delaying putting wolves back on the ESA.

    While Judge Molloy did not feel he could overturn 9th Circuit precedent himself, (he is basically supposed to defer to higher ranking courts on precedents after all) the 9th Circuit Court itself may feel differently or willing to give a justification on why this case is different than the previous ones they have ruled on.

  4. CodyCoyote says:

    I wonder if the rabble of Wolf Haters who have railed and wailed against ” that green activist Judge Molloy ” will now praise him with faint praise ?


    • jon says:

      Nope, doesn’t seem that way, They still are bashing him. Molloy will be forever known as a liberal greenie judge in their eyes.

    • Phil says:

      CodyCoyote: You mean like they did back in 2009 a year before Judge Molloy put wolves right back on the ESA and they threw everything at him but the kitchen sink? These types of people befriend anyone who is on their side and attack anyone who is against them. I wonder how Rockholm feels about Molloy right about now? Would like to hear his opinion on whether or not Molloy should be dismissed.

  5. Nabeki says:

    The ESA died last night.

    They should appeal and quickly. An injunction is desperately needed or when the dust settles, after the the guns are silent, there may be no wolves left to protect.

    • WM says:


      If “the ESA died last night,” maybe some of the strident wolf advocates that launched wave after wave of litigation challenging the delisting rules of the FWS ought to step forward and take credit for its demise.

      It didn’t have to go down this path, with a more middle of the road acceptance of the DPS rule for ID and MT (reserving the issue of WY’s defective plan), while keeping pressure on the states to meet the obligations of their respective management plan goals.

      The case could have continued forward on the science in Judge Molloy’s court room in the suit before this one – had the DPS issue remained out.


      • Ken Cole says:


        • WM says:


          Which part? Nabeki’s statement the “ESA is dead,” or my assertion that some of this was preventable with less strident advocacy?

          By the way, I don’t think the ESA is deadm or even affected so much. This thing could have been even worse.

          There is this instant realization that riders are bad. Well, I got news for ya, they have been used for a VERY long time, slipping in something not relevant to the legislation going forward like an appropriation/defense bill. This little underhanded “avoidance of the rule of law” has been going on for awhile. It just doesn’t get challenged much, and while I agree with Molloy on his disdain for it, this is not something new.

          The most egregious part of this debate is that the ESA probably needs to be addressed given its long run without mid-course corrections (DPS and signficant portion of range being just two). Most major laws get mid-course corrections every few years.

          If the ESA gets targeted for attention, it could not be at a worse time than now or even the next 2 to 4 years.



          ++nor is it evidence that plaintiffs took their advocacy too far++

          Cause and Effect. If you look at the fifteen year history of NRM wolf reintroduction, and the general terms of that agreed plan and where we were prior to the codification of the 2009 rule, the answer will become clear. Same is true for the the GL wolves. Taking advocacy too far is the cause, and the rider, and emboldened state are the effects, as was the legislation proposed for WY (but defeated).

          Expect this stuff to happen in the GL if this two species issue gains traction and begins to take off, especially with the likes of some of the disgusting politicians emerging from the Mid-west.

          I agree with you about the “poster child.” Maybe this rider concept needs Congressional attention in all areas – pork especially. Will it? Hmmm. Or, is this the way democracy is practiced in the 21st Century in the US – political expediency to satisfy special interests?

          • Ken Cole says:

            Exactly what would be different if we hadn’t challenged the delisting rule?

          • timz says:

            I tell you what would have been different, hundreds of wolves would already be dead.

          • ma'iingan says:

            “I tell you what would have been different, hundreds of wolves would already be dead.”

            Hundreds of wolves are already dead, even here in the WGL region. It’s become almost fruitless for my agency to radio-collar wolves, since the rate of illegal killing has increased in direct correlation with each anti-delisting lawsuit.

          • willam huard says:

            We have this Toby Bridges extremist mentality in the US right now. Hunters ignoring laws and justifying illegal killing because they are victims….. Like ranchers, these people feel their cause is more important than democracy or decency

          • jb says:

            The litigation was inevitable under the current system. Once wolves are delisted, national groups have no power, as states are only responsible for representing their citizens; yet 70% of
            Idaho is public land and 70% of the country believes,wolves are endangered. This imbalance–where states control wildlife on federal lands (and their actions conflict with the values of the rest of the country) is ultimately to blame.

            And again what avenue other than the courts do wolf advocates have?

        • Dude, the bagman says:

          Are you gloating about this?

          I guess we could have taken the Obama road: be so willing to accept and compromise with any premise presented that we usurp the radical right’s agenda, forcing them (and the policy outcome) further to the right. What a great negotiation strategy!

          Why should only one side have to compromise? If the states fuck up wolf management too badly, which they might, the wolves will just be relisted (which may have happened anyway under Idaho’s probable lackluster implementation of its approved management plan). Even with all the hubbub, I still don’t think the prevailing political winds would allow a total legislative gutting of the ESA.

          Even if, as you believe and I do not, the DPS issue was a technicality lacking any substantive value, why should we abandon our values and kowtow to a bunch of extremists and their hyperbolic threats? The law has teeth and means something or it doesn’t. Why defang it for them?

      • CodyCoyote says:

        Sorry, I have to call BS on WM’s assertion that the enviro lawsuits killed the ESA. First of all , it’s not yet dead so cease with the wake and feeding on the carcass.

        But more importantly , somewhere sometime between the passing of all the keystone environmental legislation signed by Republican Presidents..ESA, CWA, CAA, NEPA, creation of EPA , etc… a sea change occurred. We too soon forget that back in the 1960’s the true conservative Republicans were the real stalwart advocates of environmentalism in Congress. Really . It was the blue collar Dems who opposed environmental laws because the labor unions thought it would hurt jobs in extractive industries and manufacturing based on commodities produced from public lands. Really.

        Yup. The Dems were the anti-Enviros back then and the GOP was green , relatively speaking. of course there was lots of crossover based on merits , but that was where the dotted lines in the sand were drawn back then.

        Alomng came Reagan and his stooge James Watt, the latter wanting to utterly reverse the enviro laws and rules so he could OK the mining of coal and uranium in National Parks and open up the West to vast exploitation in the name of Manifest Destiny Christian corproate capitalism. Really.

        Just a few years later the Republican machine was pro-corporation and anti-enviro, and the Dems had gone the other way in the Clinton-Babbit era and become the champion of environmentalism as a human ethical value rather than an impediment to wealth or whatever.

        The GOP began gunning for the ESA back in the early 90’s, and they never let up. Everything finally aligned for them . Thank you Tea Party wingnuts, although political cycles being what they are it was just a matter of time.

        Remember that fool Congressman from California who declared war on ESA and somehow mustered political clout way above his intellectual merits, Richard Pombo ? Have you already forgotten Gale Norton ? Barbara Chenoweth and Wyoming’s own barbabra Cubin and Dirk Kempethorne were all typical of the War on the West antiESA cadre of Congressmen that grabbed this nation by the short hairs when newt Gingrich told them to.

        Sorry, WM, the enviros and their lawsuits did not imperil the ESA in a swoop of the Congressional axe here of late. This was YEARS in the making. The GOP, hopwever dumbed down, aprtisan, and just plain corrupt they might be, are a dogged bunch who hold to course. It took them 30 years to get to where they could dictate the wretched tax policy in the White House with Bush-Cheney and the repeal of Glass-Steagall that doomed our economy was their doing, too ( Phil Gramm R-Texas dunnit , after 20 years relentlessly railing) even if it was CLinton who was blackmailed into signing the infamous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act on behalf of Wall Street.

        If the Democratic Party even had a tithe of the partisan ideological cohesion shown by the much lower IQ Republicans all these years and woulda-coulda-shoulda coalesced around its own principles, this tale would be much different. But the Democratic Party these days is a giant spineless invertebrate creature, intelligent like Octopi and Squid but without a backbone nevertheless. Whereas the GOP has a backbone and armored skin ( think RINO ) and a strong herd mentality even though its individuals have very small brains.

        That is why the ESA is imperiled. The Political ecology changed. It wasn’t the one-lawsuit-too-far lawyering .

        I cannot accept your premise, WM. I was in the trenches for too many years fighting off GOP -Wise Use-Sagebrush Rebellion attacks on ESA. They won by persisting; laying seige. The Dems caved and waved the white flag and let the barbarians in thru the front gate. Last Monday ,actually.
        By the way , what other choice did the enviro groups have in the face of the GOP onslaught besides going to Court? I’m not saying they didn’t overextend their hands, but they had no other tool, really. IMO

        • WM says:


          I didn’t say the ESA was dead. I merely parroted back that IF WHAT Nabeki SAYS is true, and “it died last night,” some folks should be looking around the room. I think in a subsequent post I stated it was not, and would not be with this rider passing (I have maintained this position from several threads back when it appeared the rider would pass).

          I also maintain, too much advocacy in the form of litigation has taken this to where it is now. If I have time later I will try to answer Ken’s question.

          And, I agree with you regarding where the environmental movement has gone as R’s have gotten dumber, Sage Brush Rebellion BS, and these Tea Party idiots. I do not think it is an exaggeration to be fearful of where our country is headed, with some of this nonsense..

          • willam huard says:

            There is an easy solution to the problem. As much as I am frustrated with our current political climate and the seemingly inept Obama Administration’s handling of the hostage taking scenarios- As Bill Mayer`has stated- “it would be nice if this Democratic president adopted democratic policies…..VOTE

          • JB says:

            “I also maintain, too much advocacy in the form of litigation has taken this to where it is now.”

            The ESA provides three ways in which the public can become involved in the listing process: (a) citizen listing petition, (b) public comment, and (c) by litigating under the APA. Large, national interest groups (who represent citizens from many states) have some ability to affect policy (via a and c). Once a species is delisted, however, management authority returns to the state(s) in which the population(s) reside. State agencies currently interpret their public trust obligations as being owed ONLY to their own citizens; thus, wolves delisted get managed for locals (at least outside of National Parks). [Note: some would argue that wildlife management objectives are dominated by consumptive “users”, so really only part of the population is being heard.]

            The fundamental problem with wolves in the West is that their populations occur primarily on federal public lands that belong equally to all citizens of the United States, but under state management, the voices of these people are ignored. Thus, large national interest groups (who represent these people) will always have a vested interest in keeping wolves listed in the West, as it is one of the few ways that they can make their members’ voices heard.

            With wolves delisted, the “game” has changed. I expect the next battleground will come with federal forests and public lands’ planning. Expect interest groups to apply lots of pressure to the BLM and FS during planning to restrict hunting seasons for wolves and create wolf-watching zones. Given agency mandates and public opinion at the national level, they’re going to have a hard time staying on the sidelines in the future. I would also not be surprised to see ballot initiatives in the near future (as we’ve seen in Alaska), which could further limit F&G agencies’ flexibility. Agencies’ failure to regulate methods of take (e.g., predator status in Wyoming) and their unwillingness to adopt common sense protections (e.g., 24 hour trap checks) in combination with perhaps the most charismatic and popular wildlife species in the U.S. will be all the fodder (and fund-raising) advocates will need. I also would not be surprised to see federal legislation proposed for wolves and/or other carnivore protection (though it would surprise me if any passed).

            No question, the next few years are going to be interesting.

          • WM says:


            You or others may have as good a recollection as I do on this. But, when you run down ALL the wolf related litigation over the last five years or so- not just the two delisting suits before Molloy- the concern about too much litigation is greater. Don’t forget the no helicopters in wilderness to monitor wolves, the 10(j)regulation challenges as states were trying to carry out the roles/options they believed they had to manage wolves during the reintroduction period. And, also remember, several of these groups in the same actions filed their own separate legal claims in their complaints. And, to be fair, some of these groups never did want wolves off the list or managed. Others wanted to delay, delay and delay while wolf numbers continued to grow. You can massage the message any way you want, but for some of these groups it had absolutely nothing to do with meeting ESA obligations agreed to by the states for the reintroduction and ultimately delisting as set forth in the 1994 EIS, and the 1995 releases of the 10(j) non-essential experimental wolves in the NRM.

            And, by litigating (as a lawyer I do know something about the process), plaintiffs keep things jammed up so that agreed plans or projects are STALLED. That was and will always be a motivation of groups like HSUS, CBD, Defenders and the like.

            Some have grown weary of the way litigation has been used as an obstructionist tool.

          • JB says:


            What I’m suggesting is that litigation was an inevitability as a by-product of the system. ESA listing is desirable for large national groups because (a) protections are high and (b) nearly all of their litigation/action can be directed at one agency (FWS or NMFS, depending upon species). With a species delisted, these groups have no (zero) voice with state agencies, their only way of affecting policy is via efforts with individual FS or BLM offices, or via ballot initiatives (which are comparatively time-consuming, expensive, and require more feet on the ground). Throw in the fact that National groups knew that they had public opinion on their side and wolves occur primarily on federal lands, and they had EVERY incentive to keep litigating.

            I am not denying that this litigation ultimately helped bring about the legislative rider maneuver; but in the face of state management that does not represent their members, what other choice did these groups have? Their alternative would have led to the exact same outcome (state-led management with no input), the only difference would have been that it would’ve happened sooner.

          • Phil says:

            WM: WRONG! If the ESA is truly dead it is not in part to what the environmental groups have been pushing for. I place the blame solely on the anti-predators who had to run and whine time after time to their political companions on delisting any species who are competitive to them. When you get the like minds of these people and politicians who will satisfy these strong suiters for political votes then the politicians will take the dirtiest of tasks to get their ways in satisfying these people. The ESA’s demise (if true) is at the fault of the self-purposed individuals and no one else. It is laughable that you continue to defend these arrogant and selfish individuals.

          • WM says:


            It appears it is time to recommend that reading comprehension and writing skill course for you again.

        • STG says:

          Well said!

        • STG says:


          Well said!

    • JB says:

      Holy hyperbole! The wolf delisting rider is not evidence that the ESA is dead, nor is it evidence that plaintiffs took their advocacy too far; rather, it is an indication of the willingness of some members of Congress to undermine the rule of law in the name of political expediency–and in their own self interest (i.e., re-election). The delisting rider was not debated, and would NEVER have passed both houses on its own. I suspect people who dislike these type of legislative maneuvers just gained a new “poster child”.

      • timz says:

        “an indication of the willingness of some members of Congress to undermine the rule of law in the name of political expediency–and in their own self interest”

        And other members of Congress and the President unwillingness to do the right thing and stop this crap.

        • JB says:

          They attached the rider to the federal appropriations bill because such budget bills are considered “must pass” legislation. They knew that Congress would not hold up the federal budget because of wolves; similarly, Congress did not hold up a military budget that removed all funding for endangered species listings in 1995 (which some hailed at the time as the “death” of the ESA). Knowing a little history helps one keep things in perspective. 😉

          Now you can go back to trying to convince me that Republicans would be better for the environment and I’ll go back to laughing hysterically.

          • timz says:

            Senate Democrats could have easily pulled that rider or Obummer could have demanded a rider free bill. Many talked about doing so before hand. In the end they became gutless like their president who failed to veto a rider laden budget bill despite his own rhetoric.
            “President Obama has been adamantly opposed to these riders, saying that these riders represent ideology and should be treated in separate bills to be voted upon separately in the House and Senate. Obama, of course, knows that each of these riders would be passed in the House but would fail in the Senate.”

          • JB says:

            Yes, Tim, I’m sure they could’ve done it “easily” as you insist. I’m sure there is a grand liberal conspiracy at foot…perhaps you can explain it to me?

          • timz says:

            “grand liberal conspiracy at foot”
            Not anything about a conspiracy. Just the fact that the Dems in congress and their president are a bunch of gutless f***s. sorry you can’t get that.

  6. Eric T says:

    No, the bullshit was the DPS lawsuit. You went from 550-750 minimum wolves for Idaho to 150 minimum. If EJ wouldn’t have challenged the DPS delisting everyone could have sat back and observed how Idaho managed the wolves. But, lawyers litigate, they don’t know anything else.

    • Ken Cole says:

      Everyone knows that the legislature wasn’t going to stand for the IDFG management plan, and when they were going to be held accountable for that number they rescinded it.

      These two actions are connected and show that Idaho never had any intention of managing for anywhere near 500 wolves.



      • willam huard says:

        Maybe Mark Gamblin can read the second link-

        • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          William –
          Of course I’m well aware of the current management plan. What is your point?

          • willam huard says:

            Remember last week when I referred to the internal leaked memo from IDFG….This was the content of that memo, when your agency abandoned all rational science based approaches to wolf management in Idaho in favor of your current Otter endorsed predator hating plan that you try so hard to defend on this blog to everyones amusement

          • jon says:

            Mark, why did Idaho fish and game mislead the public? Idaho fish and game said hunters will be allowed to “harvest” when really means kill 2 wolves per calendar year. That means hunters will be allowed 4 wolves to bag instead of the 2.

          • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Rational science is well represented in the Idaho wolf management plan. Your preferred management emphasis is not, which seems to be your principle complaint. Your preference is not inconsequential, it simply represent the wishes and needs of the Idaho public.

          • timz says:

            Mark, explain the science behind trapping animals and letting them suffer for up to 72 hours in said trap.

          • willam huard says:

            Please- do you think most of us are so naive? Just because you say the plan is science based doesn’t make it so. If IDFG was serious about managing wolves then they would have used the 2008 plan with 518 minimum instead of the 2002 let’s kill as many wolves as we possibly can but don’t kill so many that they get relisted.
            My father used to say “I don’t care what you tell me you are going to do it’s what you do that counts”

          • timz says:

            William your wasting your keystrokes. Gamblin is a F&G lackey who does nothing but parrot the company line dictated by the rednecks and hillbillies that run IDF&G and this state. He hasn’t either the guts or brains to speak for himself.

          • jon says:

            “Rational science is well represented in the Idaho wolf management plan.”

            I call bullshit on this. This is all about politics.

          • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Not sure why you think a bag limit of 2 wolves per year could be inconsistent with conventional harvest management. That is not an example of misleading the public. Is there something else you think might be misleading?

          • jon says:

            Idaho is trying to get their 1000 wolf population all the way down to 150. How in the world is that rational science?

          • jon says:

            Mark, as I understand it, it’s 4 wolves, not 2. 2 wolves per calender year. The wolf hunt starts in August of 2011 and ends up March of 2012.

          • timz says:

            Mark I’m waiting for you to explain the rational science behind keeping wolves in traps for 3 days.

          • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            William, jon, TimZ –
            Of course the wolf management plan is grounded in science. It ensures a viable and sustainable Idaho wolf population well within the criteria of the ESA to ensure wolves will be here for present and future generations – as do the Montana and Wyoming state wolf management plans. The science is the understanding of wolf population size, management objectives and measured management actions to ensure that those objectives are not exceeded.

          • timz says:

            Again, I didn’t ask for your standard lackey F&G line, I asked you to explain the rational science behind allowing animals to suffer in a trap for three days. If you won’t answer the question properly than quit wasting our time and go away.

          • jon says:

            Yeah, very good question timz. Mark, answer Timz’s question.

          • Phil says:

            Speaking of “bullshit”, Mark, “Rational science is well represented in the Idaho wolf management plan.” fits bullshit rather well.

        • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          TimZ –
          Of course, the minimum time requirement for checking traps is a standard the Commission established to balance the desires of trappers and other Idahoans for regulation of trapping. Consequently, not a good example of scientific grounding of the Idaho wolf management plan.

          • Howl Basin says:

            IDFG Commissioners don’t give a rat’s hind end about what anyone thinks who isn’t a trapper or hunter. Why don’t you do a poll and ask Idahoans who are NOT trappers or hunters what they think about animals being tortured in a trap for three days? And some animals many more than that. Whose checking? How often does anyone see IDFG law enforcement out and about, except checking fishing licenses or at a big game check station in the fall?

          • jon says:

            “to balance the desires of trappers”

            that really says it all. Idaho fish and game listens to no one but hunters and trappers.

          • willam huard says:

            So Howl Basin- the “other Idahoans” that Mr Gamblin refers to must be hunters……

          • jon says:

            How many idahoans hunt and trap? They are the minority in the state of Idaho. Why is it that some like to portray the whole state of Idaho as being against wolves and wanting trapping and hunting of them? Idaho fish and game is run by hunters/trappers and that is why they can do what wanna do. Catering to only hunters and trappers and wildlife viewers and advocates be damned.

          • JEFF E says:


          • Phil says:

            william: Actually, Mark makes it seem like EVERY Idaho citizen is a hunter.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      jon –
      Yes, 2 wolves per hunter per wolf hunting season or 4 wolves per calendar year. Trappers may take 3 wolves per trapping season or 6 wolves per calendar year.
      It is very unlikely that hunting and trapping exploitation will be adequate to achieve the wolf population management objectives of this plan.

      • timz says:

        Gasmblin, you are a joke and an absolute disgrace to your profession IMHO.

        • willam huard says:

          No really, it’s based in Science. He’s got real potential in standup comedy. Unfortunately the joke is being played on the wolf population

        • Elk275 says:


          The Idaho law says that traps have to be checked every 72 hours, that is the law. There is no science here and lets not confuse it with science. If one does not like the 72 hour trap check law, then one can try to change the law. They tried to ban trapping on public lands in Montana it never got to the ballot. If it got to the ballot it would never pass. There are things one can change and things that one can not change. Live with it.

          All things change and one day the law will change one way or the other.

          • timz says:

            So if it’s not science and it’s a large part of the management plan how can the management plan be based on science? I wouldn’t let a rat suffer in a trap for three days. “Live with it?” Like the Germans lived with the camps in their back yards. You should be working with Gamblin, you would fit right in.

          • willam huard says:

            Elk can’t help it. He’s stuck in the good ole days. We all know trappers are Sadists. Just go on the trapperman blog for 5 minutes and you will be shocked.
            “Of course, the minimum time requirement for checking traps is a standard the Commission established to balance the desires of trappers and other idahoans for regulation of trapping”
            Doing the ethical and moral right thing like a mandatory 24 hour trap check was not appropriate due to the fact that wolves can’t really tell us how they feel about being in a trap for 3 days- so that doesn’t count does it- douchebags

          • timz says:

            Let’s establish an elk trapping season and let them suffer in a trap for a few days and call that part of a “rational science based” management plan.

          • Elk275 says:

            Traps should be check every 24 hours, at the most every 48 hours. A trapper should want to protect there investment.

      • Elk275 says:


        ++Yes, 2 wolves per hunter per wolf hunting season or 4 wolves per calendar year. Trappers may take 3 wolves per trapping season or 6 wolves per calendar year.++

        Will a hunter be able to shoot 4 wolves every calendar year? What I think is happening is that the Idaho Fish and Game fiscal year ends on December 31 or some other near date. A hunter can purchase 2 wolf tags and kill two wolves until the fiscal year ends, then the next day purchase 2 more wolf tags for the following year and kill 2 additional wolves. But when the next ca lender year starts the hunter will not be able to purchase his/her wolf tags until the start of the following fiscal year. Therefore the limit will be 2 wolves per year. Is this right.

        I know that is used in Alaska for hunting grizzly in a bear every year unit. A hunter can kill a grizzly in the spring. The Alaskan Fish and Wildlife fiscal year ends on June 30 and the hunter is able to kill another grizzly that fall. But the following spring he/her is not allow to purchase a grizzly tag until the following fiscal year, limiting the hunter to one grizzly per season.

        • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          The state fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Hunting licenses are valid on a calendar year basis, so for 2011 a hunter can legally take 2 wolves on his/her 2011 hunting license. In 2012, a hunter will be able to legally take up to 4 wolves on his/her hunting license. Likewise for a trapper – legal take of 3 wolves in 2011; legal take of 6 wolves in 2012. The legal bag limit is set by hunting season, which overlaps calendar years. If legal take is considered by wolf hunting season, the bag limits remain 2 per season for hunters and 3 per season for trappers.

          • jon says:

            Mark, can one buy 4 wolf tags at one time or are you only allowed to have one tag in your possession when hunting wolves?

          • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            I owe jon, Elk and others an apology here. The question about the number of wolf tags Idaho hunters and trappers are legally allowed per calendar year is one of many important questions about the upcoming Idaho wolf hunting/trapping season.

            My first response did not clarify, it confused. In fact, jon was correct in his first post. The Fish and Game Commission approved the purchase and use of two wolf tags per hunter per calendar year and three wolf tags per trapper per calendar year. Because the wolf hunting and trapping season runs spans two calendar years a hunter could conceivably take two wolves this fall, in 2011 and two more wolves after January 1, 2012 – during the concurrent wolf hunting/trapping season and likewise for wolf trappers. However, recognize that if a hunter or trapper takes his/her season limit of wolves during the January – March (or June) portion of a given wolf hunting/trapping season that hunter/trapper may not hunt or trap wolves for the remainder of that calendar year – i.e the next hunting/trapping season beginning August of the same year. The bottom line is that hunters are allowed only two wolves per calendar year and trappers are allowed only three wolves per calendar year. There is no nefarious, hidden agenda in this season structure. it is simply the result of a wolf hunting/trapping season continuing concurrently through the new year, just as the 2010 wolf hunting season did.

      • jon says:

        Why did Idaho fish and game mislead the public into thinking that hunters would only be allowed to kill 2 wolves instead of 4? They should have just come out from the beginning and said that hunters will be allowed to buy 4 wolf tags. The problem with idaho fish and game and the commission is that it’s run by hunters and trappers and wildlife viewers have no voice to be heard because hunters/trappers don’t listen to those who don’t like killing wildlife.

      • JEFF E says:

        you might want to check yourself here. You have obviously had one too many glasses of celebratory punch

  7. Nabeki says:

    BS WM,

    Stop blaming wolf advocates for caring about wolves and other wildlife. The reason lawsuit after lawsuit had to be filed is we had no other recourse. We have no politician friends in the wolf states. At least we weren’t slimy enough to attach a “wolf delisting rider” to a budget bill to get our way.

    The fault for this entire mess can be laid at the feet of the Obama administration and his appointment of Salazar. It’s Salazar and his minions who brought this down on wolves. He is the worst Interior head EVER and I’m counting James Watt. Not only is he in cahoots with all his rancher buddies to sterilize our wild lands of predators but he’s also destroying our wild horses, to clear the land for oil and gas leases.

    Obama delisted wolves just a few months after he was sworn in as President and shocked everyone. Who would have thought a Dem. president would continue the Bush policies? Heck even Bush couldn’t get wolves delisted twice, Obama has that “distinction”.

    We were sold out by the Democrats. That’s the cause of this unconscionable situation. After eight years of Bush we thought we were getting “hope and change”. Instead we got “more of the same”.

    The wolf haters may have won this round but we will not go quietly into this good night.

    We could win this on appeal. I just hope an injunction is granted or the wolves may all be dead before the case is settled. It’s headed to the Supremes anyway, no matter what the 9th does..

    • WM says:


      ++Who would have thought a Dem. president would continue the Bush policies? Heck even Bush couldn’t get wolves delisted twice, Obama has that “distinction”.++

      You do realize the NRM wolf reintroduction plan has been carried out over the last nearly 20 years was conceived and executed under Secretary Babbitt during the Clinton Administration?

      It was during Babbitt’s reign when the 1994 EIS was completed (an incomplete analysis in several key topic areas as it turns out), lobbying with states for the reintroduction was done including certain promises of “flexibility” of wolf management during reintroduction, and the NRM 10(j) non-essential experimental population wolves were released.

      Obama/Salazar were just the closers on this long ranging plan, with the contemplated delisting when goals were met. Nobody ever forsaw that an institutional defect in the ESA would prevent two states from implementing their FWS approved plans because WY did not have an approved plan, while their ESA protected wolves would be in a higher protected status in WY.

      If I have a critism of Judge Molloy (who I otherwise respect for his carefully thought out decisions in the natural resource area), it would be that he did not call forth that very obvious disconnect in how the ESA apparently works to prevent delisting in a portion of the DPS where all necessary and sufficient conditions under the law have been met, while WY held them hostage because of their unapproved plan. I believe had the DPS issue not been raised in the suit, we would be operating under more reasonable plan implementations, AND WY wolves would still be protected by FWS pending a more reasonable plan than the one which is emerging. I also think, Molloy might have even been overseeing the entire thing under terms of a consent decree. But then, I am an optimist who thinks the middle ground was a better solution than what has turned out.

      And, Nabeki, I continue to be amazed at how some of the most strident of wolf advocates try to rewrite the history of this effort.

      • JEFF E says:

        speaking of rewriting history;”conceived and executed under Secretary Babbitt during the Clinton Administration?”

        Actually it was Reagan that ordered a reintroduction plan be implemented, for wolves and several other species

        • WM says:


          You are correct regarding the inception of the recovery plan in the mid 1980’s, but you are incorrect regarding my statement – the actual plan was put together under Babbitt, if I recall correctly, with Jamie Rappaport as head of the ESA Section of FWS for a portion of that time.

          The 1987 Recovery Plan (cite below) did lay the groundwork, though relied more heavily on repopulation and natural dispersal from Canada (with recognition that Yellowstone would need its own wolves translocatd “experimental population” wolves.

          The magic number as stated in the Plan Primary Objective was – “10 breeding pairs” in each of the 3 states for 3 consecutive years before removal as threatened or endangered under the ESA (1987 Wolf Recovery Plan, pp. 12 and 19).


          The idea that ID would get its own translocated wolves came up later (under Babbitt). That is a huge distinction, because guess where all the wolves seem to be procreating in the largest numbers? IDAHO.

          Undre the 1987 Plan, the potential impacts to livestock and ungulates were to be more closely guarded and addressed, to assure those stakeholders this wouldn’t be a big deal, and “flexibilty” to control wolf numbers if there were impacts, would occur. That concept, of course, was carried forward in the EIS in 1994 to get the states to buy into the reintroduction.

          And, some wolf advocates are trying to rewrite history.

          • JEFF E says:

            it was a process that started with Nixon if we want to get real technical here, but it was Reagan that ordered that the recovery plans be implemented and not just be a technical exercise on paper which is what was happening up to that point. That it was Clinton’s administration that actually carried it out is more happenstance than design. Reagen ordered it the Clinton administration was bound by law to implement it. No revision of fact or history required.

    • Phil says:

      That’s WM’s perspective, when and doubt blame it on the other side he does not share views with.

  8. timz says:

    Here’s the kind of man Obummer is;
    “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said. “It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

    Senator Barrack Obama
    March 2006

    Hope and change. I guess he gave up hope and changed his mind on a host of things.

  9. Howl Basin says:

    IDFG has intentionally failed to inform the public (other than big game outfitters/trappers/anti-wolfers) that anyone can buy TWO wolf tags per calendar year = FOUR per hunting season (August 30-March 31, longer in some areas). Trappers can buy THREE wolf tags plus the TWO regular tags per calendar year = FIVE tags total. FIVE PLUS FIVE = TEN WOLF TAGS for Idaho’s upcoming jihad on wolves. You can bet big game outfitters are already howling & baiting wolf packs to within range in the Frank & Selway for their archery clients. Check out the grinning idiots on websites like Middle Fork Lodge Outfitters.

  10. Jim says:

    I am a hunter, not a wolf hating lunatic as you guys like to paint us. The bottom line is man needs to intervene and controll game populations including predators. The vast majority of hunters do not want to kill all of the wolves! We want a ballanced predator population just like we want a ballanced elk, deer, ect. population. From the get go a certain number of wolves were supposed to live in each state before the control of these animals was turned over to the states. We have far surpassed that and yet people are crying foul because the agreement is finally being kept. Certain environmental groups did not want to work with hunters and ranchers at all. I know this, if this had swung the other way there would be an urgent push to revise the ESA. To claim all of the wolves will be slaughtered is absurd. Each state must maintain a certain number of wolves, just as we maintain a certain number of other game species. Do you see all of the deer and elk being killed? I think not. I am glad the true conservationist whoare responsible for maintaning healthy herd numbers can finally do this right.

    • Phil says:

      Jim: Control game populations? Tell that to the more than 30 million (and increasing) deer population man has been trying to control. If you really want to control populations, then let nature do so within its niche. If you want to hunt for survival and put food on your families table, then that’s one thing, but to hunt species that help sustain and control other species populations that explode (as you argued in your comment), and are not useful for your own survival and excuse it using the “control” example is just unrealistic. Dropping the population by nearly 75% is a slaughter, especially when you use many different methods to kill as many as possible to reach the limit as quickly as possible.

  11. Nabeki says:


    For god sakes stop the condescension. I know exactly what happened in 94. Wolf advocates would have agreed to anything to get wolves reintroduced, after fighting intransient hunters and ranchers for twenty years. The 10j was a very unfortunate concession and looking back I wish we had just allowed wolves to disperse back on their own, as they had been doing since the late seventies, early eighties. There were several large packs denning in and around Glacier back then. It’s very, very unfortunate wolves were brought back only to be trapped in this hellish environment, subject to the the tortures the states have planned for them and their babies. Especially profiting off their lives, treating them as “game animals”. They are not game animals. They are not elk and deer. Wolves are highly intelligent animals, that are better parents then many people. They do not deserve this atrocious treatment.

    As for the “wolf plan”, it’s a total joke. Even Bangs admitted it was outdated. It’s ridiculous that Minnesota, a state smaller in land mass and higher in population, can carry almost 4000 wolves within it’s borders but the entire Northern Rockies can tolerate less then 2000 wolves.

    This is a culture war plain and simple. It has almost nothing to do with wolves but everything to do with anti-government rhetoric. It’s about control, unhappy people and scapegoating. The bullies have targeted wolves once again. Wolves are being given the same treatment they received during the first Western extermination. If you don’t see that then you are blind.

    There is no science in this. 150 wolves or less in Idaho is a ghostly population.

    Tell me the justification for running wolves over with snowmobiles, if Wyoming has their way? Explain to me how unregulated killing of wolves in most of Wyoming is science based and reasonable? So stopping spinning.

    Wolf advocates will continue to fight for wolves. We will not give up or fade away. You can count on that.

    It’s laughable you call wolf advocates strident, when wackos advocate killing off wolves with artificial sweetener.

    • Nabeki-
      Keep up the fight. There is NO science in the IDFG wolf management(kill) plan. Hunting season will start at the end of this month and wolf pups will still be at the rendezvous sites. The pups will not start traveling with the adults until October and in some cases early November. The Canyon Pack pups in Yellowstone were still at their rendezvous site on November 1 last year when I was watching them.
      The wolves have shown that there is room for about 1000 of them in Idaho. 150 is an artificial number with NO science behind it at all. Mark Gamblin lies when he claims otherwise. He needs to wipe the Otter shit off of his nose.

  12. Immer Treue says:


    Sometimes I have thoughts similar to yours in terms of natural wolf dispersal, but the 3S crowd would have most probably kept wolf numbers down to the point of nonexistence. Not until reintroduction and the Feds actually keeping an eye on the NRM did the wolves actually have a chance.

  13. Ryan says:

    I think I predicted this would happen last year.


    Technically my wife could kill 2 elk next year, if she waited to fill her tag until after the first this year.

    You wont be able to purchase 4 wolf tags, just 2 per season. So technically a person could kill 2 after january, and then 2 again after the season reopens next year, at no time could they legally have 4 valid tags in their pocket. As it is written, you could concievebly kill 4 every 2 years (one year of the with no wolves) or two a year based on the kill habits.

  14. Nabeki says:

    @Larry…How sad the pups will suffer the same fate as their parents. I can picture them at their rendezvous sites waiting for the pack who will never come. The little innocents will either starve or be killed outright. It is going to be a holocaust out there. I can hardly stand the sadness this brings to my heart. If I stop for a moment the tears will flow and so I must push the killing out of my head.

    We all knew this was coming and that’s why we fought so hard to keep them federally protected, even though WS was taking it’s toll on them every year. We will keep fighting for them no matter what. I hope people will join us on Howl Across America this August to howl in protest.

    We have many rallies in the making but we need more bodies. If you have a chance please visit the site and click on discussions. The rallies are all listed. Friends of the Clearwater is helping and has put out the word to their members.

    Howl Across America

    The wolves need us now more then ever. We may have to sit on the sidelines during this bloodbath but we don’t have to be silent.

  15. Redleg324 says:

    I do not know the circumstances of Mark Gamblin (IDFG)posting on this blog. But regardless I want to thank him for responding and placing himself on the firing line to catch a lot of cr*p no matter what he says or doesn’t say. A lot of people in public service are not really allowed to participate in anything like this. Probably because the bosses know no matter what you say there will be someone who does not agree with them or will utilize the occasion to smear the agency represented. I don’t know if it was your idea Mark or someone elses, but I want to thank you for being part of the discussion, and for at least keeping your comments professional, which I know you have to as a public official, but thank you anyway. Keep up the good work being caught in the middle trying to do a very thankless job. I am sure being a fireman seems a lot more attractive these days since everyone loves a fireman (except when they were used as target practice in the LA riots).

    • WM says:

      Is it just Alliance for the Wild Rockies appealing, or are the other five or six plaintiff groups going to join in?

      And, will they seek an injunction to stop the wolf hunts in ID and MT while the appeal is pending?

      Stay tuned.

      • nabeki says:

        It’s WEG, FOTC and AWR and no word on seeking an injunction. They just wanted to get the appeal filed as soon as possible.

  16. Immer Treue says:


    This is not a challenge, however I am intrigued by some of your comments. Most of what you write is well measured and my take is decidedly pro-wolf.
    Then you made a comment earlier, and again forgive me by I don’t know how to copy and paste with a handheld, along the lines that if not for the law suits of the past, the draconian seasons proposed by Idaho and Wyoming would not have occurred.

    In turn, environmental groups argue that the seasons proposed by Idaho and Wyoming are the very reasons why the suits continue, though the 2009/10’seasons would not seem to support this position. No body can say for sure. In hindsight, if a 10/11 season occurred with similar results, and Wyoming was again held out, would the present be different?

    And/or, respectfully, with your legal background, are you just enjoying the
    chess match?

    • WM says:


      I am frustrated by the polar views of both the anti and the pro wolf crowds which seem to swing the pendelum in a wider arc as time goes on, and particularly as one side feels emboldened when they feel momentum is in their favor (of course it never stays that way). The constant barrage of litigation (acknowledged as the primary tool to stop the states and federal government from implementing programs which may/may not be in violation of law) is getting old, and I think there is less tolerance for it as the number of these little non-profit 501(c)(3)’s have proliferated over the last two decades. It has made it much harder for the respective sides to come to some common ground to negotiate solutions because the fractious groups don’t always want the same thing. The latest example of this seems to be the legal challenge to the rider. Do you see Earthjustice (legal arm of Sierra Club) or Defenders in on this one? Will CBD and WWP join in the appeal?

      Equally disturbing are the lengths to which interest groups from both sides have accessed legislative muscle, or pushed administrations (and agencies – like FWS) to come up with ever more nefarious ways to circumvent or create new law-the rider is but the latest example. And, I wouldn’t say it is driven exclusively by the anti’s.

      And, yes, I am fascinated by the complexity of the game, as only it can be played in our system of government, with its 3 branches AND the give and take tension filled state-federal relationships that underly it, that are focused on the future of the West. Obviously there are different visions of the future.

      • timz says:

        “The middle of the road is for yellow lines and dead armadillos.”
        Jim Hightower

        • WM says:


          Would that be the same Jim Hightower who participated heavily in Nader’s 2000 run for Pres., that cost Gore the election and we got Dubba for another four long agonizing years? Ah course, we had that armidillo reference that gave it away.

          You prove my point in spades.

          By the way, there is alot of room on the road either side of the yellow line, as long as you don’t go into the ditch, and completely off the road. Heck, it doesn’t even hurt to drive on the other guy’s side once in awhile and take your part out of the middle. It even makes things more interesting for everybody going both directions. LOL

        • JB says:

          “The middle of the road is for yellow lines and dead armadillos.”

          And the end of the road is for those who have become so extreme that they can no longer accept any position save their own.

        • Dude, the bagman says:

          There are no poles. There is no middle of the road. There is no spoon.

          These are emotional oversimplifications perpetuated by the media and used to rally people behind some cause.

          However, there is ample self-interest and identity politics. There’s also plenty of propaganda and useful idiots to add fuel to the fire.

      • Redleg324 says:

        WM, I am with you on the frustration. I have it in a lot of areas and not just the wolf issue. I think we need some way for the two extremes to come more into the middle where we can get some “lasting” progress forward. The only ones really winning with all this back and forth “gamesmanship” are the lawyers and we are nowhere closer than we were a decade ago to a positive outcome; and in fact are even more polarized as more and more of the majority in the middle are moved to either of the extremes. I am losing hope in our future and particularly our kids’. I don’t like that feeling, but I don’t have the answer either other than possibly a strong leader who becomes known for getting compromises through that are for the longterm benefit of the majority over short term profiting of a single party or industry. Probably a pipe dream though these days.

  17. Red Riding Hood says:

    Why are you so hung up on the tag numbers…Do you know what the hunter success rate is for wolves>>?


August 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