Wolves to the Slaughter

Christopher Ketcham has been writing about many of the issues we write about here and has just published a very long and clear-eyed article about the ongoing wolf issue in The American Prospect. Ketcham interviews many people here in Idaho including our own Brian Ertz and his sister Natalie, he also got some great quotes from Carter Niemeyer and Lynne Stone.

“Wolves are supposedly costing ranchers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually running the weight off sheep and cattle,” Niemeyer says. “I don’t know where anybody has proved this but anecdotally it sure sounds convincing, don’t it? Bullshit. Document it.”

The article doesn’t sugar coat the fact that the livestock industry is behind a lot of the anti-wolf sentiment and I think it portrays the issues in a more realistic light than what we usually get out of the single serving media these days.

Ketcham delves into the hysteria surrounding wolves and points out some uncomfortable truth.

Wolves to the Slaughter.
Christopher Ketcham for the American Prospect



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  1. timz Avatar

    Wish this story were in a national publication. Winning the battle for the west is going to require help from the politicians in the east. Sadly, as the article pointed out they seemed to have sold out as well.

  2. Doryfun Avatar


    Thanks for that article. It reminds me of Cadillac Desert and the full (sad) story of pillage of the Pacific side of the US.

    Haven’t had time to read all the article yet, as I can only take so much of the stark truth about the negative side of human nature.

    The last couple of paragraphs about some of the terrible things Lynn Stone was subjected to by bad representatives of the human species is enough to make one want to head out to the wilderness as far away as possible. Unfortunately, we can never get far enough away from the reach of ugly assholes in the world.

    It does help make your case about questioning the value of compromise and collaboration, in a political climate so corrupt and mis-representative now, of what this country was supposedly founded on.

    We are next in line to Rome. Seems our number is getting close, at an increasing rate.

  3. timz Avatar

    Ken, Ralph or Brian,
    Did I miss it or has the 9th Circuit not yet ruled
    on Simpson’s back-door move?

  4. Chuck Avatar

    I wished he would have interviewed me and I have to say KUDOS to Carter for that quote. I would like to get all these welfare ranchers in an arena and let them hear him first hand, but they are not smart enough or have the common sense to understand what he would be saying. Ranchers have only one agenda and thats to feed their own pockets anyway possible. Still born calf its all the wolfs fault, cougar killed calf its all the wolfs fault. I can go on and on. Its kinda like beating your head into a brick wall.

  5. Richie.G Avatar

    Thank you Ken for this article,I have a half to one year to retire, just lost my best friend, a german short haired pointer mixed.A day does not go by without seeing him just before he left me. My point with such hate as describe in the article against miss Stone. We get far enough from the hatred of these people. I would say we need Obama in because of the supreme court appointmnets that will happen, but he let us down big time, turning his back on the wolf. I had dogs and cats all my life, love dogs the most,but to hear of the horrible acts done to miss Stone against wolves and coyote’s that’s down right horrible.These people are just palin evil,rather be in California watching drag racing,at least when an engine blows,it does not bleed and suffer. I dod not know if I am making sense. I picture my dogs face every day when he left me, I tear all the time. How could Miss. Stone take that heartache seeing all those horrible all thhe time. It’s almost the weight of the world,at least that is the way I see it. I love all animals,but wolves have the biggest part of my heart.One thing is for sure must get out of the east coast, was out west last year,drove over 1800 miles, California to Grand Canyon,to Vegas. But not where the wolves are it’s to heartbreaking.

    1. Doryfun Avatar

      Sorry to hear about losing your dog. I know how much of a great family member they become and the heartache created when they leave, always only too soon. Probably a part of why us wolf lovers are wolf lovers.

  6. Rancher Bob Avatar
    Rancher Bob

    Just for Carter I’ll post a study when it’s final that shows wolves are causing weight loss in cattle. It is now in peer review.
    It’s always interesting that Carter retired over 10 years ago, six years after introduction, most the agents of his time are retired, and people still think Wildlife Services hasn’t changed without Carter.
    Those wolves he shot must haunt his dreams.

  7. Jello Avatar

    Can you restate that, Rancher Bob? I’m not catching your drift in the second paragraph….

    1. Rancher Bob Avatar
      Rancher Bob

      Carter has a great book looking at the part he played in history. He retired in 2001, a lot has changed in the last 10-11 years. I would guess I’m the only one who post here at times who has been involved in a livestock depredation investigated by Wildlife Services. A investigation in Montana starts with lots of photos, viewing of the area around the carcass, and then skinning the carcass. These people have no problem getting some blood and guts on them. They will point out how to tell if the animal was alive or dead when eaten. How each predator has different attack styles and how each is different. It’s very much like what Carter started but WS has had 10 years to improve on what he started. In western Montana WS agents see more wolf depredations in a few years than Carter saw in his career. There’s just more information out there about wolves and other predators and more coming out almost daily. You can believe all the lies one side or the other puts out but people should point them out.

      1. Ken Cole Avatar

        Carter retired in 2006 and remained in the wolf world working for IDFG until he published his book last year.

        1. Rancher Bob Avatar
          Rancher Bob

          Thanks, how about he retired from Wildlife Services at the end of 2000.

      2. Nancy Avatar

        “A investigation in Montana starts with lots of photos, viewing of the area around the carcass, and then skinning the carcass”

        RB – while on my way to a job yesterday morning, I noticed a lone cow, in a huge pasture, laying just a few yards off the highway. I say lone cow, because the rest of the herd had been moved out and for what ever reason, she’d been left behind.

        When I passed by again, 6 hours later, she was standing but had not moved from the spot. Guessing she was not worth addressing if she fell into that 20-30% loss (disease etc.)

        Since I’ve seen dead cows in this rancher’s pastures before, what do you think the chances are that this cow will be dead and preyed on by what ever local predators are drawn in, next time I head over that way in a couple of weeks?

        Keep in mind, this area whines often about wolf depredation?

        Across the road and just about a mile away, on another ranch, close to 100 elk were strung out (just like their cattle) picking over the previous night’s ration of hay and waiting for the morning rations.

        “In western Montana WS agents see more wolf depredations in a few years than Carter saw in his career”

        From what I’ve gathered, depredations on livestock are down in 2011 (in Montana) from previous years and “pack attacks” are down from 31% to 17%.

        Asked the question in a post awhile back – are ranchers becoming more vigilant about protecting their “product” or have wolves (only have to spend some time with with your own dogs to relate) become more aware of boundaries?

        1. Rancher Bob Avatar
          Rancher Bob

          First no ranch looses 20-30% and survives more than a year or two so don’t know where those numbers come from unless you added the zeros.
          As for the lone cow, maybe lame, on the fight, or if there’s timber missed her guessing here she’s lame.
          As for a lone cow being preyed on, don’t know almost all cows are ran in groups so that’s where you hear of trouble. Rarely do predators take a full grown cow.
          Your in the big hole area right, they whine about wolves because when the wolves left Yellowstone that’s the first place wolves went. I would have to guess but there have probably been more cattle killed by wolves in the big hole than any other part of the state.
          As for depredations being down, I would say both more vigilant protection and hunting. Wolves are much more recluse now, before 2009 I saw wolves all the time and as close as 20 yards. With the 2009 and 2011 hunting, human presents make them move from a area with human presents to areas with less chance of human contact. Montana found 20 new packs in 2011 so every year new people are learning to live with wolves. Yet 98% of the livestock confirmed killed by wolves in 2011, in Montana, were killed on private property. Seems the more you learn the less one knows. I would strongly suggest reading Montana’s annual wolf report. Hope that was some help.

          1. Rancher Bob Avatar
            Rancher Bob

            Sorry that should have read 89% not 98.
            Also there is one other main reason depredations have dropped, MT FWP has allowed WS to be much more aggressive in response to problem wolves. Before packs got three strikes and then a incremental removal plan scattered over years. It’s still a case by case evaluation but more wolves are being removed earlier.

          2. Nancy Avatar

            “First no ranch looses 20-30% and survives more than a year or two”

            Perhaps I should of clarified that comment RB. I know its been reapeated a few times here, that most losses (20-30%) to the cattle industry are due to illness, disease, weather, calving etc.

            I mentioned the “lone cow” simply because I’ve seen it before, it frustrates me given the slaughter of wolves going on and while wolves may not attack a full grown cow, they certainly wouldn’t have a problem taking down a sick, weak, full grown cow that some rancher feels isn’t worth the trouble.

            Leaving a cow with obvious problems (otherwise would she have been left behind when the rest of the cows were moved out?) with no water or feed is clearly a case of animal abuse in most people’s minds but is it just a case of “chalking it up to those inevitable losses” in many rancher’s minds?

            Trust me RB, with ranches all around me, I’ve seen my share of abuse but you said it well in your response to Doryfun:

            “Every ranch has a style sadly not all those styles reflect wisely on the profession”

            Yes, the reintroduction of wolves threw a kink into your profession but your profession thew a huge kink in the ecosystem way back, when it deemed every predator (especially wolves) a blight to your profession, a profession that has had its way for too long given the fact that livestock raisers out here in the west contribute little to the overall picture of “mankind’s need for meat” yet millions of acres of public lands are dedicated and destroyed (at pathetic rates) wildlife suffers, in order to keep that profession in business.

            “Cattle deaths confirmed by USDA Wildlife Services in Montana decreased from 87 in 2010 to 74 in 2011, and confirmed sheep death losses dropped from 64 to 11. About 17 percent of Montana wolf packs were confirmed to have killed livestock, down from 31 percent in 2010”


            Guessing a lot of wolves died for what? Since the hunting season on them did start until late 2011.

            1. Rancher Bob Avatar
              Rancher Bob

              Yes cattle die to illness disease weather and birth can you show me a species that doesn’t?
              As for the cattle abuse there are laws against abuse report the abuse or your no better than the abuser.
              As for “guessing a lot of wolves died for what?”-
              Every meeting I went to that dealt with the reintroduction of wolves we were told: Wolves would kill livestock and those wolves would be dealt with for killing livestock.
              Wolves would populate until they were delisted, then wolves would be hunted.
              You claimed responsibility for wolves being reintroduced, you enjoyed the credit of every wolf pup born every playful moment. Now wolves are delisted and you don’t like how the rest of reintroduction was planned. You blame the rancher for the death of wolves who kill livestock. You blame hunters for hunting wolves. Ranchers and hunters didn’t want wolves you did, so now it’s time to pay the drummer. Every wolf that suffers and dies, dies because you wanted wolves on the landscape. Like a parent is responsible the actions and the well being of a child you are now responsible for what happens to wolves. You knew what the plan was and you still wanted wolves don’t blame ranchers, just look in the mirror. You could have stopped the process but no the ecosystem needed them and now you have them so live with 1000’s of wolf deaths in the coming years. Enjoy knowing you could have stopped those deaths.

            2. Immer Treue Avatar
              Immer Treue

              Rancher Bob,

              I was at the Symposia where the very issues you bring up were discussed. The wolves as a population are more important than the individual. Everyone at the symposia knew, that to have wolves, they would eventually require management/control. No argument from me at all on this issue. I understand this is a discussion blog, and all points of view are important. Everything you wrote was spot on until your closing.

              +++You could have stopped the process but no the ecosystem needed them and now you have them so live with 1000′s of wolf deaths in the coming years. Enjoy knowing you could have stopped those deaths.+++

              Rubbing the metaphorical salt into wounds is not the way to win friends and influence people.

              I’d like to observe the see-sawing of this issue fade into the background, where problem wolves are removed, and ranchers take a few more steps to manage their stock to prevent possible depredations.

              I’d like to see the vitriol of the antis drop a whole lot of decibels, and whether they like wolves or not drop the SSS garbage, and if hunting wolves is to become a “tradition” in the West and GL states that the wolf is looked upon as a valuable fur bearer and asset to ecosystems, and this desire to just kill them all disappear, as well as those who say it.

              To keep it fair and equal, those who protest the death of wolves due to depredation and hunting are just plain wrong, as per your original points and per the Wolf Symposia I attended.

              Trapping… I wish it would go away, for any animal.

            3. Daniel Berg Avatar
              Daniel Berg

              Rancher Bob,

              I’ve heard the emotional play that somehow wolf supporters are responsible for the death and suffering those animals are now subjected to in the lower 48.

              Really? I support wolves on the landscape and I knew full well that many would be killed for various reasons. It was never about individual wolves, it was restoring an animal to the landscape and maintaining high enough numbers for a genetically healthy population with the potential to expand into adjacent areas with suitable habitat.

              I was on the range a few weeks ago and while feeding we came across a calf with a bad case of arthrogryposis induced by lupine. It wasn’t clear how effective any medication was going to be. Now if that calf dies, should the rancher feel the burden of its death because he brought it onto the landscape?

              He/she would say that it’s just an unfortunate reality of their livelihood if anybody was stupid enough to ask the question. A lot of wolves dying is the reality of introduction and I still embrace their presence even with all the controversy.

            4. JB Avatar

              Rancher Bob,

              Just as not all hunters and ranchers were on board with the reintroductions, not all wolf advocates are on board with the way they are being managed. Nancy had/has no more control over they way wolves are managed than any other person (less, I would argue). So while you’re correct in recounting the specifics of the original recovery plan, you are incorrect in asserting that Nancy has any responsibility or culpability for what has resulted.

              That said, I generally agree with your sentiments–there is a “middle road” here, and that middle road lies in preventing livestock depredations and allowing some reasonable “take” of wolves.

  8. Richie G. Avatar
    Richie G.

    First my mom always said losing an animal gets harder with age,well she was correct,I see my chocolate everyday, the picture when he passed away.Now for all who think wolves are the cause of cattle and everything bad in livestock. Did anybody watch the pbs film wolves in Wisconsin? The family got two or three dogs of a certain breed that protect sheep from wolves and other predators. I am not saying this is the overall answer,but their are other answers than killing all wolves and other predators. I do believe most people just like the kill. It alleviates their pressure from other things. Maybe being not making enough of a living in these hard times. Anything to make them feel that they are in control, this is sad. Because it’s the wolf who gets the pain, now that is sad! Thank you Doryfun for the sincere words about my best friend. I am sorry for all the misspelled words and how they came out. As for Miss.Stone, I am very sorry that people are taking your love for the wolves, and using them to attack you,their like little kids in a school yard ganging up on one.They should have buckshot up their butt and see how it feels, in fact, their is not enough pain that they can feel,would justify what they did to the wolves and coyotes in your direction. What the article states is shamefull !

  9. David Avatar

    I’m glad to hear that the wolves are helping them cows lose some weight. I mean some of them cows are absolute slobs.


  10. Louise Kane Avatar

    The problem is not just wolves, its about being able to hate something, in this case wolves, and being able to hold onto that hate. Some people for whatever reason need to be able to hate. Its like hating immigrants, hating jews, blacks, or gays, the government etc. Its a type of people who like to hate, to have someone to blame all their problems on. In this case, its the wolves who are suffering the hate. Its hard to comprehend how ignorant, intolerant and grossly inhumane some westerners are of predators and wolves. I can barely stand to read any of the news anymore when it comes to wildlife and wolves.

    This issue needs marketing and advertising techniques and a whole lot of unrelenting commitment to get this massacre to end. Hopefully, the wolves will be re listed. The states can not manage wolves sustainably. They are proving it now. Its horrifying to see what they are doing.

    Can anyone tell me how exactly the number of 300 wolves was set as a recovery goal for the Rocky Mountain population. That seems bizarre and unsustainable. I can’t get my head around that low number. 300 wolves in over 6 million acres of wilderness when there are hundreds of thousands of elk, tens of thousands of bear and thousands of mountain lions. I need to reread sections of the ESA but I am sure some of you know. Thank you

    1. mikarooni Avatar

      According to a number of reputable geneticists, only 300 wolves actually would be unsustainable. Yes, they would last a while; but, without a source of new genetics, a population of that size would, like the wolves of Isle Royale, gradually inbreed to the point of genetic collapse.

    2. WM Avatar


      ++Can anyone tell me how exactly the number of 300 wolves was set as a recovery goal for the Rocky Mountain population. That seems bizarre and unsustainable.++

      You might try looking at Appendix 9 of the 1994 EIS on the wolf reintoduction, at pdf page 386/414.


      For an updated source look at the 2009 delisting rule, which after passage of the rider last year, and the decision of Judge Molloy finding the rider Constitutional (affirmed last week by the 9th Circuit), is the law of the land for the all of the NRM DPS, except WY.


      Important to note there it is believed the population will be managed at about the 1,000 wolf level (which I believe includes Yellowstone and the WY wolves not included in the rule).


      And if that is not convincing on the genetics, as mikarooni seems to suggest, it should be noted that there is constant gene inflow from Canada to Western MT, northern ID and WA. In fact, if I am not mistaken, all the packs/individuals noted in WA to date have in-migrated from British Columbia.

      Of course, if stale genetics is ever determined to be a deveoping problem under continued monitoring, a couple helicopter rides for a few wolves to mix them up a little will likely solve the genetic risk. In fact, that is a cornerstone of the WA wolf management plan adopted in Dec. of last year.

      And, there is ongoing genetics discussion between the states and FWS regarding monitoring, etc. Here is the memorandum of understanding for ID and MT.




      You know this is no Isle Royale genetic isolation experiment, where the wolves there were from one founding pair.

    3. JB Avatar

      Louise et al.,

      I don’t believe *most* of the people who oppose wolves hate them; rather, they fear (irrationally, in my opinion) the impacts that wolves will have on their lives (e.g., livestock depredations, hunting opportunities, etc.). Much of the “hate” is reserved for people who they view as imposing their will upon the West–i.e., environmentalists, animal rights activists, liberals, elites, etc. In effect, wolves are just a political pawn–an easy way they can express their hate/distaste for the bundle of stereotypes that represent (for them) everything “liberal”.

      – – – –

      The origin of the 300 number is a paper by Steve Fritts and Lou Carbyn that finally appeared in print in 1995 in the Journal, Restoration Ecology (Population Viability, Nature Reserves, and the Outlook for Gray Wolf Conservation in North America, Restoration Ecology 3(1):26-38).

      As I have pointed out in the past, the “Minimum Viable Population” concept is flawed insomuch as it requires subjective judgements regarding the acceptability of risk and the time period over which risk is assessed. The final number that arises from such an analysis is thus dependent upon highly value-laden judgments that are not, in any way shape or form, scientific.

  11. Doryfun Avatar

    Rancher Bob,

    Sorry, this is a bit off topic, but saw your name come up and wanted to catch you here. My interest is about grazing from a rancher’s perspective.

    The last couple of days I have been running some high water on local rivers in my area and took special notice of private grounds holding cows as I floated along. I actually thought about you and getting your perspective at the time.

    Most of the grass was gone or nearly so, with mostly cows standing in mud. Though the cows looked healthy, and have been articially fed daily ( I think?), I was wondering if you consider this a typical practice by ranchers?

    Winter feeding is common, in areas where snow covers the high country summer grazing. But, would it make more sense to have enough winter range pasture where range conditions do not get pounded so hard, or more feedings of hay so cattle do not take everything down so harshly? Or does this indicate a rancher who has not fed his cows enough, and consequently starved into eating whatever they can find? As also opposed to cows eating everything down, even if they do get fed properly? I’m not up on what is typcial cow behavior. But I can see the consequences of it, as it leads directly into many rivers I have floated over the years.

    Thank you.

    1. Rancher Bob Avatar
      Rancher Bob

      Every ranch has a style sadly not all those styles reflect wisely on the profession. Weather and other factor make sometimes for hard choices. There is no real typical just different individuals making different choices. That’s about as good as I can explain. Any way I’ll check in latter got to go feed a group of cows some more hay.

  12. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane

    Thank you all for the information on where the 300 number recovery goal camne from. I am still sifting through the EIS but it appears that the even then the conservation groups did not like or vote for the recoevry goals and plan. Even then politics and not science was driving the plan. The final plan was a token nod to recovery, not a sustainable plan. The EIS did not state why the 2 conservation groups did not vote for the plan, but one can only guess that one of the reasons might have to do with setting such meager recovered population goals especially in contrast to the populations of other native species. This is taken from the EIS” In the 1990 Department of Interior Appropriations Bill (PL 101-512 enacted on November 5, 1990),
    Congress direct the Secretary of Interior to appoint a 10-member committee, composed of
    representatives of the National Park Service (NPS), FWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    Forest Service, representatives from fish and game agencies from Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming,
    conservation groups, and livestock and hunting communities. The committee’s task was to develop a
    gray wolf reintroduction and management plan for Yellowstone National Park and the central Idaho
    Wilderness Area. The Committee was further charged with making its completed plan and its
    recommendations available to the Secretary and the Congress by May 15, 1991. The Committee’s
    plan was to represent a consensus agreement with at least six members supporting the plan. Seven
    members (FWS, USDA Forest Service, three state agencies, hunting and livestock representatives)
    voted for the plan, one abstained (NPS), and two voted against it (conservation group
    representatives). The report was presented to Congress on schedule, but, to date, no action has been
    taken on the Committee’s recommendation.” Reading through this EIS, I can not find information that would validate why 10 breeding pairs of an animal would be considered recovered in areas with 12 million acres of wilderness, most of it being federal lands it seems. Obviously this was a poltical goal not a true conservation goal. This is the basic flaw in the wolf recovery plan and the problem with the states managing the wolves now. They set unreasonable and unsustainable goals from the start. And now they can go back to the EIS and the plan and argue a scientificaly indefensible but legally defensible argumnet that 100 wolves in millions of acres is enough. a terrible place for wolves. Most of them now will never live a normal life, most will be unlikley to reach maturity and the packs will always be fragmented and stressed.

    JB I agree with you that the “Minimum Viable Population” concept is flawed for the reasons that you describe but the main argument against managing wolves as the states are now doing, is so much simpler, managing wolves this way defies common sense. JB I wish it were true that the people in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming did not hate wolves and that it was simply a matter of fearing the impact that wolves will have on their livelihoods as well as a reaction to outsiders having any level of control over a natural resource within their state borders. But in looking at the prior eradication of wolves, the history of predator eradication efforts in the west, in reading through the comments given to the states and in a casual internet search about wolves, its very clear that many western people irrationally hate wolves and that they do so because of a western culture that perpetuates and feeds the stereotype of the evil wolves. Many of the comments I have been catalouging include lenghty hate filled diatribes about the “woofs” from people who claim to know everything about wolves yet can not even spell the plural of the word. The other failing of the EIS and the reintroduction plan was not requiring an education component. Some people seem to be as highly ignorant about wolves and othe predators within a natural ecosystem as they were in the late 1800s when predator eradication took root. The EIS only reinforces my objections about the states managing wolves. One of the options was for the states to manage them as a predator with no restrictions on hunting, even when there were surveys that showed there were no wolves. Is it surprising now that these same states keep upping the ante on killing them, more hunting effort, more allowed methods, and longer seasons.

    1. JB Avatar

      Louise: I appreciate your perspective, but the management of wolves only defies common sense if you want them to be totally protected. The people in FWS and state agencies, and a number of academics, believe that research suggests wolves can sustain heavy harvest. If your goal is to reduce the wolf population (as it is in MT, ID, and will be in WY), then it follows that you need heavy wolf mortality–at least initially–until you are closer to the population goal. Personally (my risk-tolerance is less), I think the numbers they are attempting to manage for are too low. Moreover, I’ve never got a decent answer to why 5,000 cougars is acceptable but 500 wolves is too many.

      Re: wolf hate
      There are certainly SOME people who hate wolves. But some of our data suggest that many people who oppose wolves do so because they are beloved by environmentalists, liberals, etc. (i.e., people they don’t like). For them, heavy-handed management is retribution for “big government” “introducing” those monster “Canadian gray wolves” that gobble up sheep, cows, and elk by the truck load.

    2. WM Avatar


      I have been critical of the 1994 EIS as well, for reasons I have stated here several times (I won’t go into them again). We are, however, looking at it with 20/20 hindsight. At the time the EIS was done, along with the NRM reintroduction which followed within a year, do recall this is a special “non-essential experimental population” under Section 10(j) of the ESA, which was marketed to the states as a means of giving “flexible” management to the states for impacts to livestock and ungulate populations. Without those guarantees this reintroduction would never have happened, or been as successful as it has, even to this point, where momentum has changed once again.

      People on this forum like to conveniently forget that part.

  13. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane

    Section 10 (j) is a big problem in and of itself. The whole idea of labeling a species that was eradicated in its normal range as a “non essential experimental population” is repugnant. Wm you say that “Without those guarantees this reintroduction would never have happened, or been as successful as it has, even to this point, where momentum has changed once again.” Perhaps this is true. But, in the zeal to see wolves reintroduced, the compromises were too broad and did not provide for continued threats to the populations from bias, hate and ignorance. No meaningful long term education programs were required.

    I don’t see the reintroduction as remotely successful. If you call this successful, what the hell would be unsucessful? Local people are still pitted against conservationists ( I deliberately used that word conservationists), wolves are still maligned and stereotyped, ranching and special interest groups still spread a great deal of misinformation and successfuly push anti wolf legislative and extreme policy decisions that are politically motivated as opposed to science-based, wolves were delisted using a super sleazy rider that circumvented the courts and what the the general public wished to see, and the argument that heavy handed wolf maneagment proponets use to promote predatorless and or close to wolf-free landscapes is based on policitcal compromise where most of the parties at the table were responsible for eradication of wolves in the first place. Wolves are now being hunted, trapped and killed in an unsutainable manner largely by people that still hate them without reasonable justification.

    JB look at some of the comments sent to the USFWS and to the states and then argue that there is not a disproportionate number of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana residents that still love to hate wolves even though they can not spell the word, do not understand about predator prey relationships, and absolutely believe absurd stories like wolves coming into a town and eating every ungulate, pet and unprotected livestock animal for miles around, or ripping the animals apart in a wolf killimng frenzy, as if in a Stephen King novel.

    There are hundreds of comments that defy belief, lack substance and any rational basis by the wolf haters. Its close to a hundred years since wolves were eradicated here and the ignorance and intolerance is just as profound. I do not call this a success story.

    To make it worse, the states rely on willdife commissioners that often have a conflict of interest that in any other profession would disqualify them from the job they are doing. I have called and e-mailed many of the commissioners in Idaho and Montana. I am not going to name names, but I have received e mails from commissioners that have provided deliberalty, false, misleading and slanted information to me about the danger that wolves present to humans, the number of wolves that exist in Idaho and the threat to ungulates and cattle (greatly exxagerated). If I did not know better these seemingly well-intentioned avuncular commissioners certainly would have convinced me that the arsenal of equipment, methods and days for hunting would be justified. I have heard numerous times that wolves present a dire threat to the economy, to other wildlife and to humans and pets. Its tragic really.

    I know that all of the commissioners are not as unprofessional still, as recent evidence of the dangers of allowing willdife commissioners to oeprate with a conflict of interest and the ways that this can lead to abuse of discretion just look at the two recent incidents involving commissioners from other states abusing wildlife (in traps) or hunting animals inappropriatly. Wildlife managemnt should be done to preserve ecosystems and to adress real conservation management goals for all wildlife, not just to preserve artifically high numbers of ungulates, or to placate hunters and ranchers. The system is corrupt in so many ways it defies logic.

    Please go take a look at the comments and actually read them. For example go to the last comments that Montana recieved regarding extending the hunting season. Try calling the Montana Dept of Fish and Game, if you have a couple of extra hours, to get a copy. Every once in a while you may read a refreshingly lucid, fact-based, articulate argument from a rancher, farmer or hunter. However many of the comments from Montana ranchers and hunters are greatly and erroneously exxagerated complaints about wolves, and/or statements about how and why wolves should be elminated. Bounty’s, never-ending hunting seasons, traps, snares, killing pups, pregnant females. Nothing is too heinous, too cruel, too short-sighted. Just kill em.. all those “woofs”. Not much seems to have changed in the last 100 years, which is rather astounding in itself. These lingering hateful attitudes represent the degree to which the reintroducton of wolves in these states is failure. Without an appreciation for wolves, any recovery will be a failure and the prescence of wolves will be a token nod and the wolves themselves will never have a safety net, measure of rest or protection nor get to enjoy any real pack stability.

    I would say we could call the reintroduction a success when we don’t see the states managing for a minimal viable population and instead look to methods to reduce livestock conflicts, look at ecosystems as a whole, be willing to reduce hunter effort when ungulate populations are weak, and when states really target only “problem wolves” using trained state managers and humane methods instead of allowing the general public to act as a guerilla army against a small population of wolves that have no ability to surive all out guerilla warfare against them.

    Until there is some real attempt to educate against hate, intolerance and ignorance, then you can’t expect the rest of us to sit by and silently watch while as wolves are eradicated again. Its the old catch 22, some westerners hate conservationists for interfering in their world yet they never do anything to instill trust in intentions when it comes to wolf management. Its too bad but the the states keep proving that they need to be watched and managed like rouge criminals. When it comes to wolves, they can’t act like responsible citizens that want to see long term recoevry of a keystone species.

    I hope to one day see and am working for a federal national predator protection act because the state systems in place prove that attitudes toward predators are dangerous, corrupt, outdated, destructive and pander to special-interest groups that increasingly do not reflect modern attitudes toward wildlife and wild lands management.

    as for the wolf biologist that argues that wolves can and should sustain the heavy hunting “harvests”, hmmm I wonder who that would be? That old school mentality again impeding a progressive ecosystem approach toward predators. A lot of us do not beleive animals are just for harvest.

  14. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane

    please excuse the typos…am using my husband’s archaic computer while my drive is reformatted. I expect some howls of glee about the typos, after rereading this.

  15. Richie.G Avatar

    I do believe many of the comments are correct on both sides. But let me ask a question,has the wolf population in Yellowstone overflowed? Yes I know packs have left, but haven’t many packs died off for one reason or another,so they will balance themselves out correct?Mountain lions hide better,so they are out of sight. When this country was first entered by the Europeans,didn’t they persecute newcomers that followed them? Isn’t the reason they left caused they were persecuted themselves in the first place,makes no sense? I’m getting to a point,then after they grew in size,then they went to control the Indians,who helped them live in the beginning.These newcomers seen the land as wild,which came wildlife. They wanted to tame the land cultivate it,just the way they wanted to control the indians. Many newcomers killed off many populations of wildlife and indians, like the Dodo bird. People use the word harvest,I said this in another blog,harvest crops,cattle,wolves etc,all these things are different.But we still use the word cultivate .Some say do not use the word hate, or they want to be left alone to do what they want,but they do not feel for living things,they are indifferent and that is their culture,sad as it is, but just another viewpoint.They do hate,and hurt, they love to see pain in another being who loves what they are killing.Bacically they are saying stay out, just like the KKK. Another point;but they like when outsiders come and spend their money to see the wonders of wildlife,and many of these people are Rangers, I would like to hear how they feel about the killing. Again seeing some of these clips,these are people who hate outsiders,sorry much like many hateful groups. They will fight tooth and nail to keep their way of life,or if they feel thay are being threatened.I just do not see how some people can’t see everything living has feelings.Just my comment !The indians are a perfact example,our history is shameful in this regard. The wolves are the animals that have to suffer,anybody watch deerhunter that explains many of my points.


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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Ken Cole