The Montana FWP Commission has decided not to extend the wolf hunt in the Bitterroot area. While many claim that the elk declines seen there have been due to wolves but a recent study implicates cougars and a quick look at the historic numbers shows that poor hunting management has also contributed to the declines seen there.

FWP says no to extended wolf hunt in Bitterroot
Associated Press

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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.

64 Responses to Montana Declines to Extend Wolf Hunt

  1. Salle says:

    Hopefully this fleeting moment of sanity will be extended instead.

  2. Cindy says:

    Great news from up North. I was so blessed to watch wolves out on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson both yesterday and today. Of course offering up an elk buffet like they do will eventually lead to trouble for the wolves (somehow, someway). We were watching 12 yesterday, very playful, not too serious, I assume their were good and full:):) Now we need to hold our noses while our legislature votes on “The Plan” today…:(

    • Salle says:

      Instead of holding your nose, perhaps it would be more constructive to scream bloody murder instead. Once upon a few decades ago I was considering a move to WY, glad I decided not to.

  3. somsai says:

    I keep trying to find this recent study which says elk declines are due to poor management by the Montana FWP, am I missing something? Could someone point me in the right direction? I thought the wildlife managers there as at most state wildlife agencies were scientific professionals with backgrounds in biology and wildlife management.

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      I can point you in the right direction. Scientific titles and professional degrees do not produce good policy in any endeavor (except by chance) unless those who are the boss give the professionals under their control freedom from political retaliation to advocate for and implement the policies that their experience and training tell them will work achieve the goal.

      One of the great problems in the United States in government and big business, is the growing tendency for those who run things to base their decisions on political advantage and/or personal philosophy or ideology.

      In Idaho, where I live but fortunately no longer draw a paycheck, what employees dare say is nowadays subordinated by politics, ideology, and religion in both the public and private sectors.

      • JimT says:

        Here, Here Ralph.And not just in Idaho is political retaliation against academic issues a problem. We know at at least two folks who were essentially driven out of Montana for daring to teach pro environmental views in their classes..

      • Dan says:

        now where did I put the aluminum foil hat…..

        Come on Ralph….It is not one big conspiracy!

        Science is so expansive that just because a decision does not meet your expectations does not mean it is not founded in science.

  4. Cindy says:

    Hi Salle – I’ve been working it pretty hard. The worst was the meeting we (conservation groups) had with the Governor’s guy Steve Ferrell, nice to our faces…not so much when reporting back to his boss. Rest assured there are many of us locals keeping the conversation going to whoever will listen!

    • Salle says:


      That is good to know. I am sure that your experiences with the Gov’s troops are quite similar to those a number of us have had with the Govs of ID and MT.


      Though these agents of F$Gs have education, doesn’t mean they aren’t beholding to their boss’ agenda. Free thinking employees of states like these don’t last very long at their jobs. You toe the line or you’re out of a job with benes.

      • somsai says:

        Yes, but I’m looking for the recent study that shows elk decline is due to “cougars and poor management” and can’t seem to find it with any of the hyperlinks.

        • Salle says:

          Maybe Ken can help you with that when he comes back online. I’m not sure which studies either of you are referring to, or if there is one…

        • Mike says:

          We all know you’re not looking for it.

        • Immer Treue says:

          It’s the study, I believe, that links Mt. Lions with the”lion” share of radio collared elk calf mortality.

        • Ken Cole says:

          In the link I posted, which is about the FWP request to conduct wolf controls in the Bitterroot during the period when wolves were still listed under the Endangered Species Act, I link to the request which provides the numbers I posted in the table and graphed. From this information it shows that the elk population in the area increased so, in turn, the FWP increased hunting and it’s objectives. When it becomes apparent that they harvested too many elk, the population returned to its lower number yet the FWP kept the same objectives in place.

          This all happened before there were many wolves in the area.

          As it turns out, as you can ascertain from the following article, most of the elk mortality is not wolf related but due to other predators.

          This info is easily available by doing a google search.

          • somsai says:

            Thanks, reading now

          • somsai says:

            The reason I couldn’t find it on Google was because the study hasn’t yet published it’s findings.

            Great newspaper story by the way, well written, factual, not trying to overstate anything, just kind of putting the findings from the first six months of a three year study out there with qualifications. Good journalism, it should serve as an example. Yes that’s a hint.

            Suggesting poor management is a little beyond the pale. State Wildlife Departments in general are the most respected professionals, I know they most assuredly are where I live. Yes they have political pressure on them, part of the job. Yes often people working at wildlife are what are generally called conservative. So what, I’m a fire breathing liberal and I’ve never had much of a problem with the politics of public servants, love big government.

        • mad says:

          So are you implying there is no study, or just that you can’t find it? I hate to respond to contrarian jerks,but here’s a link from the Ravalli Republic

          • somsai says:

            “contrarian jerks” I think that was directed at me, I can’t see any other person it would be pointed at. I’ll check out your link but try to remember your username. In lowland lao ma hai means mad dog, not a very affectionate term.

  5. CodyCoyote says:

    By not extending this year’s dubious wolf ” hunting *” season in Montana , a tiny tiny beam of sanity has penetrated the rhetorical gloom.

    * there’s a big difference between true hunting and overt caniside

    • WM says:

      ++* there’s a big difference between true hunting and overt caniside …++

      Just as there is a difference between agreed numbers before delisting between states and the federal government, and the consequences of delay (and commensurate increases in wolf numbers) through years of unnecessary and protracted litigation.

      Perhaps this year’s ID and MT “hunting” season should more appropriately be viewed as an equalizing event getting things back to where they thought it was supposed to be, as they previously agreed.

      Perhaps things will be more reasonable (in terms of annual wolf harvest) in coming years.

      • Paul says:


        No offense, but come on. Do you really think that anything other than total eradication is these states ultimate goal? They didn’t want wolves in the first place and they sure as hell don’t want them now. The only thing keeping any wolves alive in these states is the threat of re-lsiting. That is it.

        • Salle says:

          It’s their divine right to live in the wolves’ habitat after they kicked them out… just like Goldielocks and the three bears. Too bad the wolves can’t do to humans as the bears did to li’l Goldielocks… chase the intruder out of their home.

          • Savebears says:

            Divine Right? Who defines this divine right Salle? If it is humans, which of course it is, the divine right is never going overshadow the human desires. If they have a divine right, I would say then they have a god that grants a divine right, do wolves have a god, for that matter do humans have a god?

          • Salle says:


            Ummm… what?

          • Salle says:

            D’ya think savebears might not have noticed that I was being sarcastic?

          • Savebears says:

            Salle, Didn’t you notice I was as well!

        • Immer Treue says:

          C’mon Paul,

          They want to reduce them to the numbers that existed prior to reintroduction, you know, the wolves that were native to the area, the smaller wolves that ate small prey like mice and rabbits, no, wait a second, that sounds like Farley Mowatt’s wolves, that can’t be. Or Coyotes.

          • Paul says:


            Yes, I am sure they had these nice little doggies that lived peacefully with humans until those evil Canadian Wolves arrived and killed them off.

      • Jeff says:

        Considering they didn’t reach their quota—What makes it canicide? I’m not a predator hunter, but I believe most sane folks are in agreement that sport hunting will never seriously threaten wolf numbers. Poison and aerial gunning is what will eradicate wolves, not fair chase hunting.

        • Mike says:

          The mentality and will to exterminate the wolf is prevalent in both methods and approaches, Jeff.

          It is this core, prejudiced belief that needs to be addressed.

        • JimT says:

          What gives you reason to think these states want a “fair game” approach when they support poisoning, trapping, aerial gunning,and killing future generations in dens? Try changing the elk hunting season so that babies were vulnerable to hunting. My god, they would be screaming like stuck pigs about it being inhumane..etc.

  6. Nancy says:

    “do wolves have a god, for that matter do humans have a god?

    Guess it all depends on your beliefs SB:

    • Paul says:


      My wife showed me that site a couple of years ago. We are quiet atheists, but I am really getting frustrated by how the right wing is trying to legislate their religious (meaning Christian) beliefs into our lives. It has certainly made me more vocal. This isn’t about wildlife, but did you see what Virginia wants to do?’s-house-gearing-up-to-probe-women-who-want-abortions/

      This is the kind of extremist mindset that is taking over our institutions. I just cannot understand why some in the the right wing seem to hate the environment, wildlife, women, poor people, the unemployed, non-Christians, minorities, etc. It seems that the only thing that matters to them is their bible (if they even read it), and whatever their corporate masters want. Then they use outlets like Fox to plant these crazy ideas into the dimwits of our society, and they run with it. I used to consider myself a moderate, but over the past few years I am being pushed further and further to the left because of the actions of the theocrats, and corporate puppets that control most of our country.

      • JimT says:

        I have no problem with a church dealing with its own members and their beliefs, but you are right; extremist conservative religious advocates want religious principles and beliefs to merge with and even supersede civil law principles..and that is absolutely unacceptable. They cry bloody murder when civil law principles “invade” their churches…fair hiring principles, equal health care access…but hey, requiring prayer in public education facilities…fair and “right” in their minds. TIRED of them..

      • Nancy says:

        Thanks for the link Paul. Some great comments below the article.

        Grew up in Virginia, a lot of bible thumpers in the southern part of the state.

        Had a sister go religiously nuts after the Left Behind series hit the bookstores a few years back. Got real TIRED of that JimT 🙂

        Still waiting for the Rapture (yawn)

        • Paul says:

          My wife is from southern Georgia. You should see the thumpers down there. I’m sure you can imagine how uncomfortable it is for non-Christians there. Try to be an atheist Yankee. I tend to just keep my mouth shut, and roll my eyes when they start “witnessing.”

          I did get fed up over the summer when an elderly couple came to my door every weekend for months. I worked midnights at the time so I never answered the door until one day when they just would not leave and were making my little dog go crazy. I finally went to the door and informed them that I was an atheist, told them that I was not interested, and wished them a pleasant day. I was as polite as I could possibly be. They looked at me like I had just spit in their face and was the human incarnation of the “devil.” All the while my 9 pound Japanese Chin was growling at them like she was Cujo. They stormed off and have not been back since. Other than that I generally keep my religious beliefs or lack there of to myself.

          My parents tried to raise me Catholic, but that failed miserably about the time I hit 10. I am glad that they gave me the choice to believe or not. I am of the opinion that if you believe that is fine, just don’t push it on me, especially through the government.

          • Salle says:

            Ha! You should see what the “missionaries” of ID are like… about the same as in the “bible belt” except when you send one set of them away, another set will come. I used to have a neighbor, back when I lived in an LDS dominated community, that had a sign with a long rant about “religion whores” on his front lawn. He had to bring it in the house after a time because the LDS folks kept trying to steal it, some posed in front of it – go figure. He displayed it in his front window thereafter.

            When they make the mistake of coming to my door with the intent of trying to convert me, I quickly relate to them that they are an entity that is against my religion and, therefore, I don’t believe in them or their religion… I don’t care what their affiliation is, they are violating my right to privacy by knocking on my door, I did not invite them in any sense of the concept. I ask them to leave and tell their pals to stay away or I will cast an evil spell on them. That usually gets them all in a tizzy such that they just don’t know what to do or say, at which point I remind them that they are trespassing.

            I have no patience for door to door religion pandering.

          • Paul says:

            Isn’t it funny how “godless heathens” like myself and others on this blog do not support killing for sport. Yet, I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of sport/trophy hunters consider themselves Christians. And they try to preach “morality” to us? It makes me think of that Huckabee clown who thumped the bible whenever he could when running for president, and then went out and shot stocked pheasants right afterward for the cameras. Who really has the morality deficit in this country?

          • Salle says:

            Freedom of and From Religion

            Mr. Moyers, an ordained minister, former presidential press sec. and journalist gets it right most of time in the most eloquent manner.

      • Salle says:

        “To God, We hope you don’t mind but we would like to talk to you, it’s about these christians. We mean no disrespect but the things they do in your name…”
        Jon Trudell on the conquering of the Americas

        • JEFF E says:

          “We read wordy books and indulge in windy arguments, thinking this universe needs no God to explain it. Were our contentions true then it would follow that life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds no where.”

          • IDhiker says:

            And that’s probably just the way it is…

          • Salle says:

            And who said that?

          • Immer Treue says:

            I don’t know who should receive the credit for this, but one of my students once asked… What’s it like when you’re dead, to which I replied that I couldn’t answer from experience, but then I asked her if she could remember what it was like before she was born? She said no. I then said, “it’s” probably a lot like that. She seemed satisfied with answer.

  7. Jeff says:

    Laws can’t change minds and beliefs, only regulate behavior. Ultimately, wolves are okay after round 1 on hunting. I don’t think the sky fell.

    • Paul says:

      This is just the beginning. They may be “okay” for now in Montana, but Idaho is moving right along with their slaughter plans. One way or another they will get to 151 and Montana will probably soon follow.

    • Ken Cole says:

      I think we won’t know for sure how things will turn out for a while. There will be a lag time because the full effects haven’t been seen yet.

      • IDhiker says:

        I don’t think that Montana will follow in Idaho’s footsteps. At least I hope not. The Montana FWP commissioners have demonstrated that they have ethical limits regarding how far they will go with wolf “management,” unlike Idaho.

        Clearly, there will be a heavy push for “Idaho type” management from certain groups and interests in Montana in the coming months. But, whether they pass these extreme measures remains to be seen.

  8. Barb says:

    Proposed Gray Wolf Management by the State of Montana
    in the West Fork of the Bitterroot, Elk Hunting District 250; March 2011.

    Strange, the goal shown in the above graph is higher than the number of elk ever counted in that GMU. Setting the goals a bit high or am I misinterpreting the graph?

    • Ken Cole says:

      I think you got it right. And, they set the lower objective to a number that they only counted in just three of the years while the population was at its highest.

  9. IDhiker says:

    Sanity over hysteria finally took hold regarding extending the Bitterroot wolf hunt any further.

    Considering the commissions 5-0 vote, the local anti-wolf crowd, led by county commissioner Suzy Foss, are dumbfounded. Foss stated that, “It’s just one more sign of how far removed from reality they (FWP Commissioners) are from the wolf and predator situation in our county.” Of course, those of us who live here and follow county politics know who is really, “removed from reality.”

    Apparently, the FWP commissioners belief that waiting for the results of the elk predation study, combined with ethical concerns, is too much for Foss. As I told the FWP commissioners, this faction will never be satisfied, and giving them more concessions will only encourage more demands.

    This week, in the Missoula Independent newspaper (February 16-23), a letter appeared penned by Randy Newberg of the Montana Sportsmen Alliance. Newberg took Gary Marbut, representing the Montana Shooting Sports Association, to task. Newberg’s letter is worth reading as it represents hunters going after the extremists trying to hijack their sport. In my opinion, this is what is needed from the hunting community in general, and especially in Ravalli County, to bring reasonableness back into the debate.

    • Paul says:


      You hit the nail on the head. Hunting communities all over the country are letting the most extreme elements become the “spokesman” for their issues. Here in Wisconsin they are letting two of the most reviled “sportsmen” groups (even by other hunters) the WI Bear Hunters Association and SCI become their mouth piece. And they are getting away with it. They are getting legislation written for (likely by) them passed or proposed. I have read countless opinion pieces and letters to newspapers from hunters who are concerned about these extremists giving other hunters a “black eye.” If they allow this then it is their own fault when the blowback comes in the form of new legislation or lawsuits that limit their practices. They need to take a stand and ostracize these whack job groups. On my side of the fence it is the same thing when dealing with PETA or some of the other more extreme elements.

  10. Nancy says:

    “It makes me think of that Huckabee clown who thumped the bible whenever he could when running for president, and then went out and shot stocked pheasants right afterward for the cameras”

    Paul – I get a small dose of him (Huckabee) most mornings when I’m driving to jobs, on the local radio station – the only station I pick up out here. Could be worse though…. Rush comes to mind 🙂

    • Paul says:


      I do not know how anyone can listen to those sanctimonious blowhards. They used to have Fox Noise on all the time when I was at work. I never paid it much mind until one day when I heard the insane rants of Glen Beck. He made some asinine comment and since then I will not let my remote go anywhere near that channel. I know that Beck clown is no longer there, but I cannot stand the drivel that channel spews. It is nothing but chickenhawks and Jesus-freaks. I get really tired of hearing blowhards who never wore the uniform a day in their life always advocating bombing or invading someone. Then when Obama finally does they bitch that he did. I am not a big Obama fan by any means, but come on. I honestly think that channel is one of the biggest reasons for the extreme political strife that we see today.

      • Salle says:

        I honestly think that channel is one of the biggest reasons for the extreme political strife that we see today.”

        Me too. And just think, if we were filthy rich, we could probably have our own infoconglomerate to drive the narrative all over the planet too.

      • somsai says:

        The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in the mid 80s allowed broadcast media to give one sided news, before that if they were opinionated they had to give both sides a platform. Talk radio preceded and led the way with large audiences for Rush Limbaugh that most people laughed at or ignored.

        I’d strongly recommend listening to Rush. Make no mistake, it is propaganda, it is hateful, and it is extremely effective. In the mid 90s Murdoch brought us Fox News with a similar bent. It works.

        Rush Limbaugh is a strong supporter of PETA and I’m sure if someone were to use the right approach he’d become a Howler for all things Canine, same tunnel vision, same sense of persecution, use of rhetoric, etc.

        • Immer Treue says:

          +++I’d strongly recommend listening to Rush. Make no mistake, it is propaganda, it is hateful, and it is extremely effective.+++

          I couldn’t agree more with this statement. The first time I heard Mr. Limbaugh, I was driving through rural Illinois early one morning in the mid 80’s and searching for anything to listen to. Came upon this strong voice, and I figured I’d give it a listen.

          Initially, I thought it was comedy until I realized this guy was taking himself serious. First thing to come to my mind was propaganda that bordered upon that of the… well you know where and what.

          It is sobering to realize that so many take what this man spews as truth.

          • Salle says:

            Especially considering that he is a publicly admitted drug addict… I thought those uber-religio-types were supposed to ostracize these folks… according to their doctrines.

          • Salle says:

            Is this the “McCarthyism” of the 21st century, perhaps?

          • Immer Treue says:

            I know this is getting away from the subject of this thread

            but some context about Limbaugh’s send them up the river quote, prior to him getting nailed.


            to try and make a connection with this thread, his babbling is comparable to many who claim the wolf is all the evil incarnate we hear or see written.

  11. CodyCoyote says:

    Interesting that this thread started out with discussing Montana allowing its attrition Wolf hunt sunset , and ends with discourse on the merits ( or not) of Rush Limbaugh , a PETA supporter we need to take sermons from…

    Some are channelling Lewis Carroll here…


February 2012


‎"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