Wildlife Services Issues Statement to Rocky Barker About the “Killer Bee” Photos

Tonight Rocky Barker published an official response from Wildlife Services on his blog.  Surprisingly, Wildlife Services actually explains what the stickers represented but they go on to give the standard non-apology, apology which apologizes to people who might have been offended.

It amazes me that, with the microscope that we and others have put them under, they would have ever considered something so unprofessional.

These photos have struck a chord with people who have respect for wildlife, all kinds of wildlife, and I think that many people are appalled at the callous image that these images portray. I know I am, and I also know that there is a culture within this agency which fosters this callousness.

We, as taxpayers and stakeholders in this country expect more from the agencies who hold the fate of our lands and wildlife in their hands. They have a duty that is sacred to many but they have reduced that duty to little more than a shoot ’em up game.

Over the years I have heard the most awful stories about Wildlife Services and the way that they treat the animals they are duty-bound to treat humanely. I’ve heard stories about Wildlife Services agents who abuse chemically immobilized wolves because of a growl. I have heard stories of agents who brazenly handle wolves during the heat of a hot summer day only to find them the the following day with their collar on mortality mode. I have heard stories of agents who place snares in an attempt to capture wolves but find dead livestock in them the following day. I have heard stories of Wildlife Services capturing people’s dogs in snares on public lands without placing warning signs. I have heard stories of agents who placed m-44 cyanide capsules in known wolf areas during the period they were protected under the Endangered Species Act and ended up killing wolves instead of what they claimed were the intended targets, coyotes.  I have heard stories of agents who repeatedly blame wolves for livestock losses with little or no evidence to support such a call just because that’s what they think will make the rancher happy and get him some taxpayer compensation.

Enough! You are professionals, act like it and conduct your business with some respect for the stakeholders who own the wildlife you are duty-bound to treat humanely. We expect more.

Here is their statement:

“The photos mentioned were taken about five years ago. The pilot and crew are Wildlife Services employees, operating in a leased fixed wing aircraft. At the time, Wildlife Services local management did approve the stickers being placed on the planes. Government funds were not used to purchase them. In 2009, the manager that had originally approved the use of the stickers recognized that they could be considered offensive by some individuals and directed that they be removed.

The stickers did represent wolves lethally removed for confirmed depredation on livestock or livestock protection dogs, with permission from the wolf management agency, either Federal or State (it is now the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, but in the past the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the lead agency).

We apologize to anyone that may have been offended by the use of these stickers. Wildlife Services continues its mission to resolve conflicts between human and wildlife and to help create a balance that allows coexistence with reduced damage.

You didn’t ask for additional background, but I feel that it’s important to provide some context:

Since the reintroduction of wolves, Wildlife Services in Idaho has conducted 1,400 investigations of wolf depredation. Of these, 61% confirmed wolf depredation on livestock or guard dogs, with 13% found to be probable wolf depredation. For example, in FY09, the 88 confirmed depredations meant that 430 livestock and 16 guard dogs were killed by wolves, with 27 livestock and 8 dogs injured. In FY09, WS lethally removed 107 wolves and collared-and-released 12 wolves. We can certainly get you more information about depredations and Wildlife Services if you’d like it.

The Program Data Report (PDR) on the Wildlife Services website does show that in FY2009, Wildlife Services in nine states managed damage related to wolves: 480 wolves were euthanized/killed, 39 were freed/relocated, and 63 were dispersed from areas where damage was occurring.

The FY10 report is also at the same website, showing damage management in seven states, including 452 wolves were euthanized/killed, 62 were freed/relocated, and 1 was dispersed from areas where damage was occurring.



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  1. Salle Avatar

    The Program Data Report (PDR) on the Wildlife Services website does show that in FY2009, Wildlife Services in nine states managed damage related to wolves: 480 wolves were euthanized/killed, 39 were freed/relocated, and 63 were dispersed from areas where damage was occurring.

    So how many of those relocations and dispersals took place in the NRM states? Out here, it seems they stopped that altogether many years ago. The only “control” or “management” actions used in the NRM is lethal -as far as I know. I could be wrong but I certainly haven’t head of any nonlethal management of wolves for a really long time.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Hoping to be proven wrong, I think they now welcome livestock depredations because it justifies a lethal control.

      Rather than being an agency to defuse wildlife conflicts with human activities, now in the case of wolves, they might be encouraging, or at least welcoming, conflict that they can fly out to “address.”

      1. Salle Avatar

        It also seems that any livestock death is an automatic “ticket to fly” to go kill some wolves, but that’s just my observation…

        1. JEFF E Avatar
          JEFF E

          Maybe they just believe Cabala’s will hand out prizes a la coyote derby’s.

      2. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        It’s part of the FED Gov bureaucracy that just keeps steamrolling along. USDA is a monster in need of a drastic overhaul. If the USFWS was in control of depredation issues instead of the Dept ofAG (like the old days)before the ranchers started whining that their needs were not being met, I think the approach would be different.

    2. Alan Avatar

      “…and 63 were dispersed from areas where damage was occurring…” In other words, “..and 63 ran too fast and managed to escape into the underbrush; else they would be dead too! Dang! No matter how hard we try a few of those pesky critters get away!”

      1. Salle Avatar


        I can only imagine a few possibilities there;

        Either they were too fast and found cover, it wasn’t in the NRM (probably in the GL or NM), or they were the ones that were wounded (“gut shot”) but still ambulatory enough to get out of the range of fire and their deaths not witnessed by anyone.

        Those folks believe that the only good wolf is a dead wolf and they aren’t shy about telling the world about it either. That’s what passes for professionalism in their minds – as evidenced by these photos of fame. Notice the proud smiles on their faces.

      2. ma'iingan Avatar

        Minnesota is the only state outside the NRM where lethal control of depredating wolves is allowed under the current ESA status. WS killed 192 wolves there last year.

        In the other two WGL states with wolves, lethal control is only allowed in situations of potential threats to human health and safety. Fifteen wolves were killed in Wisconsin in 2010 under these circumstances – I don’t have the figures for Michigan.

        Wolves “dispersed” from areas of depredation refers to the common WS tactic in the WGL of providing producers with RAG boxes, cracker shells, and assistance in placing guard animals.

        1. WM Avatar


          Can you speak to how many livestock guard dogs have been killed by wolves in WI, and the other GWL states?

          1. ma'iingan Avatar

            WM –

            None in Wisconsin since wolves began re-colonizing the state in the late 70’s. I don’t have information for MN or MI but I’ll do some digging. I would suspect that if any LGD killings have occurred they would have been in MN.

          2. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue

            Nothing mentioned about livestock guard dogs


          3. WM Avatar

            Thanks, ma’ and Immer,

            Seems to me one more distinshing factor between the WGL and the NRM. I don’t know if many large, expensive to buy and train dogs are used in the WGL. But, the fact that guard dogs are being used as a means of non-lethal management, but yet killed by wolves in fairly large numbers over time in the NRM and not the WGL (probably good reasons, like the type of livestock, how and where they are grazed and raised). Those guard dogs, which have been added to protect against wolves, of course, are costly assets for livestock production (and were at the encouragement of wolf advocates). The argument for lethal removal of wolves for these losses are compelling (leaving the issue of whether grazing is on public or private lands for another day).

            What better way to locate the offending wolves than by WS using aircraft? Then there is the direct argument of a predator killing farming/ranching assets. That is a part of their mission, which is not that distinguishable from controlling bugs or plant diseases.

            Yeah, I know that doesn’t set well with many here, but it is the rationale, and it is a fairly decent one in my view.

          4. SAP Avatar

            Devil’s in the details there, WM. Livestock Guarding Dogs can be a good tool, used in concert with other tools. FYI, a lot of the dogs getting killed are NOT wearing protective collars (spiked collars that prevent an attacking canid from getting ahold of the the throat). These dogs are not being deployed in sufficient numbers, and may not be well-bred for confronting wolves.

            Lone dogs may do ok for deterring coyotes, foxes, or other dogs. They may also do ok in situations where a herder is always nearby (as with sheep bands) — their job then is to simply alert the human that danger is nearby. Dog expert Raymond Coppinger says that merely letting some predators know they’ve been observed is enough to deter them.

            For wolves, though, dogs need to be well-bred, equipped with protective collars, and working cooperatively with each other. There are people working to test out what works in real-world situations.

            I saw a photo of dead wolf-killed Great Pyr on one of the whacko anti-wolf pages. Ugly scene. The dog had no protective collar. One of the faithful had commented “so much for the dog theory!” Right. Made me want to post a photo of a car accident and say, “Told ya this horseless carriage thing was a bad idea!”

          5. WM Avatar


            ++….For wolves, though, dogs need to be well-bred, equipped with protective collars, and working cooperatively with each other. ++

            I am with you on the essential need for collars, and if the rancher commits to the dog for guard purposes.

            The part that is more troubling is having enough well bred and properly trained dogs working together to avoid mortality or injury. Each part of those requirements add money to the equation: well bred, trained and multiple dogs.

            My impression is this is kind of an expensive endeavor for such limited life assets. Don’t know how long a guard dog can be used after being fully trained (which takes time) and before becoming ineffective, but I wouldn’t imagine the useful life (a business term) of the asset is not much more than about 4-6 years before replacement is required. Big dogs don’t live that long, particularly some breeds. Also don’t know what is done with the older dog, as they may or may not be good pet or farm dogs. I simply don’t know. A responsible owner still has the obligation to feed and pay for vet care.

          6. SAP Avatar

            WM – you’re probably right, 4-6 years may be what you’d get out of a LGD. Just for the sake of argument, say they’re $2,000 each. If you ran four of them together, that would be an $8,000 investment up front.

            Sounds spendy. Has to be compared against a wolf-barrier fence, hiring more people, whatever. I feel that the dogs should be used along with, rather than in place of, any of these tools.

            Probably worth comparing dog costs against lethal control, too.

            The ultimate measure: is it better than doing nothing? I can’t answer that. Feeder calves closed at $1.43 per pound today in Chicago. That makes a 700 pound calf worth $1001. It would be tough to prove that the dogs were preventing losses, but if we assume they do, they probably pay for themselves just in death loss prevention alone.

            Add in stress-related illness and other costs of predations, and the dogs may be a bargain.

          7. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue


            When you talk about guard dogs, you hit the nail on the head. Something like Great Pyrenees may be OK thwarting coyotes and the occasional dog, but (a) wolf(ves) I just can’t see how. They aren’t fast and agile enough. German Shepherds probably work OK, but not really big enough. Other tough breeds, don’t know if they could handle the elements with their short coats.

            Probably best way is in concert with boots on the ground or in the saddle out West, serving as more of a warning in terms of wolves. The expenses of the dogs becomes cost prohibitive.

            Unfortunately, I think I agree with you on the most effective means of wolf control in the West. The only problem I have with it are the radio collars. With the open spaces and snow, as demonstrated by Neimeyer, they are rather easy to kill.

            The answer is out there. The question is how much the opposing factions are willing to give in. The comment in Wolfer, “why did we bring them here if we’re just going to kill them” continues to resonate.

        2. Salle Avatar

          Here’s the DoW page on guard dogs and predators. There are a couple links at the bottom of the text that lead to off site resources, including a WS page.

          I do know that several studies have been conducted in the GL region since probably about ten years ago – that I know of. Love ’em or hate ’em DoW has put a lot of effort into R&D with regard to non-lethal methodologies for livestock producers living in close proximity to predators.

          I think a lot of the depredation could be avoided if there were more people present with livestock on the range or in our woods, along with guard dogs and horse back patrols.

          1. WM Avatar


            I have commented on this before. The criticism I have with much of the past Defenders/DoW research is they have done very little on the cost side of the issue. Added capital and maintenance costs, convenience, and ultimately effectiveness of one or more techniques employed seperately or together seem to have escaped them.

            There was even a very nice, glossy and comprehensive brochure they put together a couple years back, with great pictures. As an education tool it was great, but it was less than useful in several aspects. Why? Because it did not cover costs to the user or guarantee effectiveness for the investment made. Cost of adding range riders, trained dogs, stringing fladry, penning animals at night, etc.

            In my view, that is not a very effective way to get somebody to do something.

            And, as an example, fladry, which is often referenced has been determined to not be an effective long term deterrent according to officials at the International Wolf Center (Dr. Mech was the founder) in Ely, MN.

          2. SAP Avatar

            Salle – link?

          3. SAP Avatar

            WM – re fladry – I don’t want the thread to digress: I have put up miles and miles of the stuff. There are good applications for it. It is not supposed to be permanent. Wolves lose their fear of the visual aspect somewhere between 1 and 60 days; they don’t get over their fear all at once, so the idea is that they will then get a big ZAP from the electricity component when they check out this sorta scary thing. In theory, properly electrified fladry (~5000 volts) may be indefinitely effective. In reality, keeping it electrified and deployed (eg., flags aren’t all tangled up) is a big challenge so it’s a big assumption that it will be totally operational.

            Fladry is a good thing to put up until you can get a better, less maintenance-labor intensive solution in place. It goes up relatively quickly, it’s temporary, and it works for awhile. The labor cost is in maintaining the stuff.

          4. JB Avatar


            You might not be aware of this, but Defenders used to sponsor an annual conference (NA Wolf Conference) where these issues were discussed in detail. In fact, they were working hand-in-hand with Wildlife Services (via Carter Niemeyer, Rick Williamson, and others) on non-lethal deterrents.

            I don’t agree with everything they do (in particular, I find their communications offensive); however, they deserve serious kudos for being on the ground from day 1 and working to help promote coexistence through research and a variety of programs, even while taking heat from other groups.

          5. WM Avatar


            I am aware of the past conferences. I agree they have done alot.

            But, I but am highly critical of their lack of consideration of the costs involved in non-lethal measures, and like you, many of their communications. My wife is a member, and we get the magazine, emails and the phone calls for donations. My wife and I differ some in our views, and when we should cut a check.

            And, I have been and still am selectively critical of some of their litigation focus and, of course, tactics.

  2. Jon Way Avatar

    I read a story of a person hitting a duck in his car in a Boston parking lot and going to jail for animal cruelty for deliberately doing it (I forget for how long for)… He should’ve just said he worked for Wildlife Services and he would’ve got off scotch free, or better yet, he was doing a public service – he could’ve then claimed reimbursement/gas miles while shopping.

  3. Marc Cooke Avatar
    Marc Cooke

    This is off subject and perhaps cold. I am looking at the pilot and presumably the shooter in this aircraft. Immediately, I notice the soulless smile on this persons face. I find this very disturbing! Its difficult for me to summon up sadness when these wildlife service assassinations have collisions or catastrophic accidents with fatality’s! You reap what you sow!

    1. somsai Avatar

      You saw the smile of your own reflection in your computer monitor, and it’s very unlucky to wish death on any one.

      Maybe the pilot is smiling because he’s had a good day. Duh.

  4. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Killing animals day after day would make anyone callous.
    Someone that takes and keeps a job to kill animals every day is not someone I would want as a neighbor.
    I have seen researchers become callous and careless after working with animals day after day. The research animals get treated roughly and as numbers to be tallied up on annual reports. It seems that familiarity breeds contempt.
    Wildlife Service employees kill without remorse. Wildlife researchers dart,tag, collar and otherwise abuse animals without remorse. I have seen a yellow airplane, like the one featured in the story, buzzing wolves in Yellowstone on several occasions. Sunday seems to be a favorite day.
    Are the same planes, that are used by Wildlife Services to kill wolves during the week, used by wolf researchers on weekends to harrass them?

    1. JB Avatar

      “Killing animals day after day would make anyone callous. Someone that takes and keeps a job to kill animals every day is not someone I would want as a neighbor.”

      Hmm…can’t imagine how you feel about returning vets?

      “Wildlife researchers dart,tag, collar and otherwise abuse animals without remorse.”

      Another, baseless allegation from someone who has a vested interest in keeping collars off of wildlife.

      “Are the same planes, that are used by Wildlife Services to kill wolves during the week, used by wolf researchers on weekends to harrass them?”

      Gosh, all of this non-stop harassment must get expensive? I wonder if we started to tally up the number of wolves and the total number of flight hours where wolves were in range, how many hours per year each wolf would be subject to harassment? [I’ll bet you a beer that your average person gets “harassed” by their boss more in a week than your average wolf gets all year.]

      Give it a rest, Larry.

    2. Alan Avatar

      “Killing animals day after day would make anyone callous.”
      Same thing is true with exterminators. No one wants mice or other pests in their house (and we’ve all dispatched a few), but even in that case, to take a job of killing day in and day out. Or working in a slaughter house! What fully sane person would want these jobs. Do you just wake up one day and say, “Guess I’ll make a living by killing things?!” If it was the only job I could get I wouldn’t do it.
      Never gave any thought to what other uses the yellow research plane in Yellowstone might be used for, but suspect it is used pretty much exclusively for that since I see them so often (not just Sundays). I think they fly most days there is good weather.

    3. ma'iingan Avatar

      “Wildlife Service employees kill without remorse. Wildlife researchers dart,tag, collar and otherwise abuse animals without remorse.”

      That’s bullcrap, to put it politely. I’m a wildlife professional and I’m fortunate enough to colloborate with some great people in Wildlife Services.

      Your generalization about WS and wildlife researchers angers me to no end. You don’t know what you’re talking about – but then this isn’t the first time you’ve provided evidence of that.

      1. Nancy Avatar

        But Ma’iingan – a picture is, worth a thousand words…hence the outrage regarding WS and the possibility that
        “Wildlife Service employees kill without remorse”

        1. SAP Avatar

          Gotta say, is “remorse” the issue here? It may rankle your sensibilities and be very upsetting that these guys just flat do not like wolves, but is that really the issue?

          My two cents: there will always be lethal control. It must be executed reliably and as humanely as possible. Your pool of competent individuals for the job is fairly limited, and that pool will likely skew toward people who are ok with killing animals.

          So, they’re the sharp end of the spear, as the military guys like to say.

          I think the real issue here is the broader set of policies and practices regarding how we live/don’t live with wolves and other large carnivores. Right now, in a lot of instances, we have the guys who should be the sharp end of the spear — the executioners — being judge, jury AND executioner. Some of them seem to be on a campaign AGAINST the use of non-lethal measures. Some of them are overly eager to implicate wolves (talk to Carter Niemeyer about that).

          These guys may have the exact right skillset in a technical sense. But they and their supervisors have utterly failed to protect them from their own biases, and from local/cultural pressure to blame wolves. The result: they end up seeing themselves in a “war,” and they see themselves on a “side” in the war. The pawprint decals on the plane could be seen as evidence of this mindset.

          As the previous post on this topic put it, this is about professionalism: are they really carrying out their work in a reliable, unbiased way that attempts to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of interests? The stickers give us a pretty good idea of the answer.

          1. somsai Avatar

            SAP I’m afraid you misunderstand the job of a shooter and pilot for Wildlife Services. They are paid to shoot wolves not “unbiased….. broad spectrum of interests”. When they get in their boss asks them how many they got that day.

        2. SAP Avatar

          Somsai, let me clarify: As I explained in my post, we want these guys to do a good job when it comes time to kill wolves.

          However, if it looks like they really enjoy killing them, if it looks like they bear a lot of ill will toward wolves, there’s a problem.

          The problem is that these same guys, in many cases, are the SAME PEOPLE who go out to investigate dead livestock. Therein lies the bias problem.

          It would be like having a guy who hates the Dallas Cowboys referee their games. Sure, maybe he really really is a good, honest guy who won’t let his feelings about the Cowboys influence his calls. But that “Cowboys Suck” sweatshirt he wore into the locker room . . . hmmm . . . that doesn’t inspire much confidence.

          In the case of investigating dead livestock, the whole game is played in the Redskins’ stadium, with the whole crowd rooting against the Cowboys.

          So, yes, you are correct that once the “Killer Bee” is airborne on a mission, there are going to be dead wolves. But the way in which that task is carried out and how it is portrayed influence the confidence that We the People have in how these guys do the other parts of their job.

          (Actually, even when they’re on a mission, “bias” can be a problem. Where I live, we’ve had stock-killing wolves move over a mountain range and 20 miles away overnight, according to telemetry. Between where the cattle were killed and where the wolves went, there were a lot of other wolves. If FWP had signed off on their plan, WS would’ve flew over designated wilderness in search of those wolves, killing what they found to fill their quota. FWP said no. Reminds me of Denzel Washington in “The Hurricane,” when police said they were looking for two black suspects: “And any two black men will do?”)

  5. Virginia Avatar

    Billings Gazette – 12/15/11 – “Grouse’s mortality blamed on predation.” Jim Pehringer, district supervisor with the USDA’s wildlife services told the BLM that predation is responsible for the decline of sage grouse in the Big Horn Basin. The BLM’s sage grouse biologists disputed his claim. Pehringer’s study is partly funded by oil and gas companies.

  6. Nancy Avatar

    +I don’t know if many large, expensive to buy and train dogs are used in the WGL. But, the fact that guard dogs are being used as a means of non-lethal management, but yet killed by wolves in fairly large numbers over time in the NRM and not the WGL+

    WM – had a conversation with a ranching friend today regarding cow dogs, and like most ranchers, she’s looking into getting another dog that will be aggressive with cattle.

    I brought up the fact that maybe an aggressive dog is not the answer (as these dogs are an unfortunate tool in a rancher’s box when it comes to maintaining control) and probably the reason why cattle in this part of the country, too often, have a tendency because they are conditioned to back down and move away from a situation when confronted by numerous, biting canines – not unlike coyotes and wolves – rather than take a herd mentality stand against a threat.

    For those that haven’t seen this video, its an example of what bovine are really capable of, when it comes to protecting family.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      SAP, WM, would appear we were zeroing in on the same “box of tools”

      Sheep are too fricken dumb, not to mention lightweights, to have anything less than constant attention when it comes to being left on their own around predators…. but I’m thinking cattle can certainly hold there own if ranchers could acknowledge the fact, and do something about their losses due to weather, disease etc. and address it, when it comes to predators taking advantage of that free meal left on the landscape.

      1. Alan Avatar

        The problem with people is: We buy a piece of land and build a house, then we tear up all the native vegetation and plant imported trees, shrubs and flowers that we are going to have to baby and nurse along. What’s my point? Well, we did the same thing settling this country. There were millions of bovines (bison) already here. If ranchers had captured and raised native bison, how different things could be. We might all be eating bison burgers and bison steaks. We might be wearing shoes and jackets made of bison hide. Most importantly we would have livestock more than capable of surviving the harsh and dry environment of the Northern Rockies; and also very able to ward off native predators. Sure, raising bison might have been tough at first, but certainly doable; many ranchers do today. Instead we slaughter the native bovines almost to extinction (mainly to make it easier to slaughter Native Americans) and import cows that we have to nursemaid. It’s what we do!

        1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
          SEAK Mossback

          A lot of decisions were made a long time ago. Get rid of bison and predators, raise increasingly vulnerable animals, first longhorns, then Herefords & sheep, etc. There are extensive vested interests that don’t want to re-examine those decisions, but they probably should be re-examined at least on the margins and different decisions made where applicable, particularly on sensitive, public land with high potential natural values and marginal productivity and economics for livestock (with predation and costs of controlling it being fully taken into account — wolves are here, get used to it). I do not advocate ranching wildlife on western land, but believe the forage on many areas of public land would be better used to support native wildlife, including animals like elk and potentially bison that could be hunted by the public and benefit households locally.

          It’s amazing how quickly a western agricultural mentality can overwhelm a productive natural area. In the 1950s and 1960s, ranches were being staked all over Kodiak Island which has a lot of very lush grass. I’m sure they all thought they owned it and should be able to control it as if their ancestors had been there forever , and their influence with enthusiastic politicians confirmed their sense of entitlement. It looked like the whole Island might go that way. The next thing they found was the abundant large bears thought cattle were pretty tasty and ranchers started trying to eliminate losses, which quickly led to aerial shooting. They quickly went from coveted big game (now also coveted animals for viewing) to troublesome predators to be eliminated, all in very short order. A state pilot (who I met later at Chignik in 1973) got into ranching and rigged his supercub with a pair of M1 Garand rifles and flew around shooting brown bears. Fortunately, it did not pan out in the long run, because of low beef prices and the great distance to major markets, and I believe now there is just a limited amount of ranching on the road system right out of town, with at least one operator raising bison that probably contend better with the bears.

  7. somsai Avatar

    I like the larger photo I see here much more. Here I can see the set up with the shooter slightly behind and right of the pilot and the fold down part of the fuselage to allow better maneuverability. Looks like a good set up and the many stickers confirms their skill.

    I get the apology too. There’s nothing to apologize for, but he didn’t mean to offend anyone. After all how often to we get upset over the exterminator keeping a score of rats or other vermin? Their job just happens to occur in a much more beautiful area and they do it using a more exacting skill set. They are probably proud of the service they provide and well liked amongst the community.

    1. IDhiker Avatar


      You’re doing a good job of defending the indefensible.

      And, I agree, these people are proud of the service they provide, which is evident in the pictures they take of holding up their kills for the camera. They like it.

    2. Alan Avatar

      “After all how often to we get upset over the exterminator keeping a score of rats or other vermin?” And of course rats are not and never have been on the Endangered Species List; nor have American taxpayers spent tens of millions of dollars to re-introduce them.

      1. IDhiker Avatar

        There have always been actions taken by people throughout history against animals and also their own kind. And, these actions were often considered acceptable and normal during the times they occurred, with the perpetrators “well-liked” and respected in their own communities.

        But, in many cases, history has recorded those responsible as criminals and their actions as atrocities, often with hindsight, but sometimes from one contemporary society to another. I believe history will make the same judgement on aerial gunning.

  8. rick Avatar

    Anyone know of documented information on the size of Idaho wolves of old versus re-introduced wolves? Are the re-introduced wolves bigger?

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      From the 2009 hunting season and comparison to Minnesota wolves. Hardly giants.

      Wolf Hunt Statistics 2009

      Montana -Juveniles weighed 62 pounds on average. Yearlings weighed about 80 pounds. Adults weighed 97 pounds. One wolf weighed 117 pounds.

      Harvested wolves ranged in size from 54 to 127 pounds – males averaged 100 pounds, and females averaged 79 pounds. Of the wolves taken, 58 percent were male, and 15 percent were juveniles less than one year old.

      Grey wolf averages in Minnesota
      Adult female gray wolves in northern Minnesota weigh between 50 and 85 pounds, and adult males between 70 and 110 pounds.

  9. Salle Avatar

    Carter Niemeyer said that they are about the same. But maybe he might elaborate on that if he’s watching the blog.

    1. rick Avatar

      Yes, I heard Carter N say that the re-introduced wolves are the same size as the native ones and I believe him. I am in the process of finding documented weights for now and back then. My goal is to write a couple of articles that detail this. Why do I care about weight – along with weight people associate aggressiveness and lack of fear of people. I assume that if I can site documented weights, I can convince, at least, some people.

      1. Ken Cole Avatar

        There are some graphs that I put together for adult wolf weights for Yellowstone and Idaho on this post.


      2. Ken Cole Avatar

        Here is an excel spreadsheet showing wolf weights for all of the original reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone and Idaho then all of the captured wolves in Yellowstone until 2007.


        1. Immer Treue Avatar
          Immer Treue


          Don’t know if anyone else can open this or not, but it fails to take on spreadsheet appearance, at least on my computer.

  10. Howl Basin Avatar
    Howl Basin

    rick – the “Canadian wolf” hysteria was invented by Ron Gillett of Stanley ID. It’s like saying that Canadians who live in Alberta and BC are larger than Americans living in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

    1. rick Avatar

      Howl Basin,
      I read in a book by a wildlife biologist by the name of Meach (spelling??),he says that wolf size is determined by weather (In colder climates they have more bulk – if they don’t, they die) and prey base (If they can’t kill prey they don’t live to breed). Based on that, it is plausible that the new wolves could be bigger. I believe that the prey base of the Canadian wolves was the same as here. Not sure about the winter temperature.

      1. IDhiker Avatar

        All I can say is, as I’ve mentioned before, my wife and I have seen 18 wolves in Idaho and Montana the last few years, mostly at close range.

        I wouldn’t say any of them were much bigger than our german shepherds, some smaller. Of course, actually weighing wolves would be the only sure answer.

      2. ma'iingan Avatar

        “I read in a book by a wildlife biologist by the name of Meach (spelling??),he says that wolf size is determined by weather…”

        That’s an expression of Bergmann’s Rule, which was first published in 1847, translated by James in 1970. Basically, it says that body size is strongly correlated to latitude, grading larger as one proceeds further north. There are many references to Bergmann’s Rule available online.


    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      The people who talk about the big Canadian wolves brought to Idaho and Yellowstone all make the hidden assumption that bigger wolves would make different changes than smaller wolves would.

      Their belief in the big wolves has been refuted, but few seem to challenge the idea that bigger wolves would, if true, make a difference.

      Well, a study was just done showing that the environmental conditions of Yellowstone changed many aspects of the wolves. “New Insights Into Responses of Yellowstone Wolves to Environmental Changes.” ScienceDaily (Dec. 1, 2011). Among other things, the study found “. . . found some tracked characteristics–such as population size–are related to population ecology, while other tracked characteristics–such as coat color–are genetically determined through evolution.”

  11. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue


    if you missed it, read my reply to you at 9:48 in terms of wolf weights from 2009 hunting seasons


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

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