Hard information about wolves or anything else does not come from rants-

Discussion of politics and many other things, including wildlife, seems to have broken down. Instead of discussion, people yell. Instead of facts they tell stories (anecdotes) and cite folklore, urban myths and rural conspiracy theories.

Very importantly, a  number soldier on, citing scientific evidence and even providing footnotes.

Norman Bishop in Bozeman is that kind of person. He’s a retired naturalist from Yellowstone Park with a lifetime of experience there and many other important places in outdoors. He was national park ranger for 36 years. He tells that “I began hunting big game in 1949, and have killed antelope, mule deer, elk, and moose. My sons and grandsons are enthusiastic shooting sports participants.”

Bishop is giving a talk in Bozeman Feb. 11. It’s about what we have learned about wolves. He furnished us with a copy of what he will base his talk on.

Here it is, footnotes and all. It’s the kind of thing a politician would not do. We will use it as a reference.

– – – – – –

The wolf issue: What science suggests; the players, and our role.
By Norman A. Bishop

I will briefly sample a few recent studies, many of which were enabled by wolf restoration, that may inform the issue of wolf management in the greater Yellowstone area. Then I’ll discuss the way the wolf issue is playing out in Montana, and how we can get involved. I’m open to questions following the talk.

It may be useful to put three issues in perspective before we move on to the science that suggests a fresh look at our relationship to wolves: livestock depredation, human safety, and effects on big game hunting.

About 2.6 million cattle, including calves, live in Montana. Seventy-four killed by wolves in 2011 out of 2.6 million is less than 0.003 percent. Western Montana, where most wolves live, has fewer cattle than the east side of the state. As of 2009, there were 494,100 cattle there. Seventy-four of these animals were killed by wolves, or less than 0.015 percent of the western Montana cattle population. Similar percentages apply to sheep. There were approximately 33,000 sheep, including lambs, in western Montana in 2009. Wolves were documented to have killed 11 of these animals, or 0.03 percent, in 2011. In that same year, 64 wolves were killed in response, plus 166 were taken in the 2011 hunt, leaving 653 at year’s end (Mallonee, 2011). This is not to say that the loss of a teenager’s 4H calf or a small operator’s animals are not devastating; just that the industry is not at risk. Keefover (2012) compares Montana cattle losses reported to NASS (USDA 2011) versus those verified by USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (USDI 2011). NASS, 1,293; FWS, 87; a difference of 1486%. From 1987 to 2010, Defenders of Wildlife provided a wolf compensation program to reimburse ranchers for livestock lost to wolves. In 23 years, they invested more than $1.4 million in an effort to build trust and promote tolerance within the livestock community. The state is compensating now, using federal funds. Meanwhile, federal agencies spend at least $123 million a year to keep U.S. public lands open to livestock grazing, and Wildlife Services spends $126.5 million annually to kill wolves and other animals on behalf of agriculture.

Another bogus issue is the danger that wolves pose to humans. During a 4 year period last decade, livestock killed 108 people in 4 states and this does not include people killed by vehicle and cattle interactions (CDC, 2009). During this same time period, wild wolves in the lower 48 states killed no one. In the last 80 years, two fatalities, one in Saskatchewan, and one in Alaska, may have been wolf-caused.

As of 2012, the Montana elk population statewide was doing well, with numbers at an all-time high of 112,000. The state management objective calls for 90,000, so they are about 22,000 elk over objective.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks researchers and several scientists from MSU have contributed to our knowledge of large predator effects on the Gallatin elk herd. Hamlin and Cunningham (2009) concluded:

“Even where intensive data has been collected, there has been scientific and public debate concerning the impacts of wolf restoration on ungulate populations. Disagreement generally does not occur about the fact of declines in numbers of some ungulate populations, but disagreement about cause(s) or proportional shares of cause continues to exist.” And,

“Nowhere are data adequate to ‘scientifically’ assign cause(s) for any declines that may occur.”

There is no doubt that wolves eat elk, and that their predation lowers the numbers of elk on the landscape, besides affecting their behavior. But how does that affect hunting? In his masters thesis, The Impact of wolves on Elk Hunting in Montana, MSU graduate student Steven Hazen (2012) wrote, “Since wolves primarily prey on big game, Montana’s hunting industry will likely be impacted in various ways.*** Overall, wolves decrease hunter applications by 19.9% of the standard deviation in the southwest and 2.9% of the standard deviation in the west central region. This corresponds to 286 fewer applications in the southwest, but only 6 fewer in west central Montana… (U)sing the current data available wolves are not having a significant effect on elk harvest in Montana. On the other hand, they are shifting demand in the southwest region from areas in close proximity to the border of YNP to areas farther away.”

Now, what about hunting and trapping wolves along the borders of Yellowstone National Park, which contains the only unexploited wolf population in the region? You might say that the loss of fifteen wolves from the Yellowstone National Park population of 88 (now about 71-78) is not significant. But you would be failing to consider a number of important factors. Hardly insignificant is the cost to science of losing seven radio-collared wolves whose collaring cost Yellowstone Park Foundation donors about $21,000. Those wolves were integral to the longest continuous studies of wolf population dynamics and wolf-elk relationships in the world, all in a uniquely complete suite of naturally present carnivores. Those studies are reported annually by the Yellowstone Wolf Project (2012), and published in many peer-reviewed journals. They are yielding a wealth of information essential to managing the national park to preserve natural processes. Those studies also constitute a control or baseline of data to compare wolf/prey interactions between those of an unexploited population and those that are being hunted and trapped in surrounding states. No other area is large enough – Glacier and Grand Teton are too small to function that way. Are citizens of the tri-state greater Yellowstone area willing to sacrifice all that for a few hundred dollars in wolf license fees?

Aldo Leopold (1944) recognized that Yellowstone National Park was not large enough by itself to conserve a wolf population. In his review of Young and Goldman’s The Wolves of North America, he took the authors to task for asserting, “There still remain…some areas of considerable size in which…(wolves) may be allowed to continue their existence without molestation.” But then he asked, “Where are these areas? Probably every reasonable ecologist will agree that some of them should lie in the larger national parks and wilderness areas; for instance, the Yellowstone and its adjacent national forests.”

Hunters plead for “scientific management” of wildlife in Montana. Yet, they choose to ignore peer-reviewed studies such as one from 2005: Vucetich and others wrote: “In the period following wolf reintroduction to YNP (1995-2004), the northern Yellowstone elk herd declined from ~17,000 to ~8,000 elk (8.1% yr). The extent to which wolf predation contributed to this decline is not obvious because the influence of other factors (human harvest and lower than average annual rainfall) on elk dynamics has not been quantified. According to the best model,which accounts for harvest rate and climate, the elk population would have been expected to decline by 7.9% per year… (C)limate and harvest rate are justified explanations for most of the observed elk decline.

More recently, Arthur Middleton (2012) conducted research on elk and wolves in the Sunlight Basin area of Wyoming. He concluded that a reduction of elk forage quality in summer due to rising temperatures, combined with higher grizzly predation pressure (41% of calves killed by grizzlies) is responsible for a reduction in migratory elk herds in this area. There has been an astounding 8 degree rise in July temperature in Yellowstone in the past few decades.

Middleton’s research was to consider the cause of the observed population decline of the Clarks Fork migratory elk herd. The herd has been declining since the mid-1990s, i.e., since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone.

Conservation and management implications from the Middleton study:

* Wolves appear to affect elk numbers largely or entirely through direct killing and consumption. Thus, managers probably don’t need to account for non-consumptive effects of wolves on elk populations. Wolf control on winter ranges is not likely to be useful.

* Elk are pretty good at dealing with wolves; any changes in range distribution are probably unrelated to wolf presence.

* The findings of this study throw into some doubt the findings of the studies showing that wolves are driving down elk populations, thus benefiting riparian vegetation.

* What might be happening to the Clarks Fork elk? Two likely causes of decline include drought effects and grizzly bear predation. Specifically:
(1) Over the past 20 years, Yellowstone has experienced an increase in July temperatures of 8 degrees F. This has led to an earlier and shorter green-up of grasses, an important food source for elk. If a nursing female is unable to obtain sufficient nutrition to both sustain her calf and put on fat stores, she is unlikely to calve the next year. Indeed, a low pregnancy rate among lactating females has been observed.
(2) Grizzly bears are the top predator of elk calves in Yellowstone (accounting for 41% of elk calf predation). This effect may be strengthening as bears continue to lose key forage items (e.g., whitebark pine nuts and cutthroat trout).

Now, about that elk calf predation. In an ongoing University of Montana-MT FWP study, Mark Hebblewhite and Kelly Proffitt tagged 66 elk calves in spring 2011 in the southern Bitterroot. They found that, in the following six months, of the 49 that died or lost their tags, 22 were killed by cougars, 11 by black bears, and two by wolves. The fate of the others were undetermined. In 2012, 50 staff and volunteers collared another 76 elk calves. Of the 55 known-fate calves, 35 are alive and 20 are dead. Similar to summer 2011, lion predation continues to be the predominant source of calf mortality. Of the 20 documented mortalities, mortality sources include lion predation (6), black bear predation (4), wolf predation (1), unknown predator (3), natural-non predation causes (2), and unknown causes (4).

Perhaps we should think about the effects of wolf restoration on something other than elk. In 2009, Prugh et al wrote in BioScience that, “Apex predators have experienced catastrophic declines throughout the world as a result of human persecution and habitat loss. These collapses in top predator [wolf] populations are commonly associated with dramatic increases in the abundance of smaller predators. [coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons] (T)his trophic interaction has been recorded across a range of communities and ecosystems. Mesopredator outbreaks often lead to declining prey populations, sometimes destabilizing communities and driving local extinctions….—mesopredator outbreaks are causing high ecological, economic, and social costs around the world.”

Eisenberg (2012) looked at three different densities of wolves (high, medium, and low) in elk winter range. She found elk numbers high in the three areas, regardless of wolf population level. She also found that wolves had a strong behavioral effect on elk, making them more wary. Elk avoided aspen stands that had burned. She found a trophic cascade relationship, in that aspen stands that had burned, which were being used significantly less by elk, due to predation risk factors, showed a strong release in herbivory and recruitment of aspen trees into the canopy. In her book The Wolf’s Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades and Biodiversity, Eisenberg found that keystone predators in ecosystems worldwide have been identified as increasing biodiversity, making ecosystems more resilient to climate change and stresses on wildlife caused by a growing human population. Eisenberg et al (2013) provide a critical review of trophic cascades involving wolves, elk, and aspen throughout the northern Rockies. While wolf effects varied from study to study, Eisenberg et al (2013) concluded that the scientific evidence indicates that aspen management strategies should incorporate what we are learning about wolf→elk→aspen food webs. Wolves can have powerful effects in food webs. These effects have been linked to aspen recruitment. Therefore, applying the precautionary principle to create healthier, more resilient aspen forests suggests conserving apex predators.

And how does all this affect birds? In a 2001 study, Joel Berger et al demonstrated “a cascade of ecological events that were triggered by the local extinction of grizzly bears…and wolves from the southern greater Yellowstone ecosystem.” In about 75 years, moose in Grand Teton National Park erupted to five times the population outside, changed willow structure and density, and eliminated neotropical birds; Gray Catbirds and MacGillivray’s Warblers.

In Yellowstone,s Lamar Valley, the average number of ravens observed per carcass pre-wolf restoration was four. Dan Stahler (2000) reported 135 on one wolf-killed carcass. Eagles averaged one per four carcasses pre-wolf. Dan saw 12 eagles and 65 ravens on one wolf kill.

Mark Hebblewhite and Doug Smith (2010) listed species they observed on 221 ungulate prey carcasses between 1995 and 2000 that were killed by wolves. In Banff National Park, they tallied 20 species: Most common were ravens (present at 96% of all kills), coyote (51%), black-billed magpie (19%), pine marten (14%), wolverine (8%), and bald eagles (8%); others, in descending order, were gray jay, golden eagle, long- and short-tailed weasel and least weasel, mink, lynx, cougar, grizzly bear, boreal and mountain chickadee, Clark’s nutcracker, masked shrew, and great grey owl. In Yellowstone, they noted twelve scavengers, of which five visit virtually every kill: coyotes, ravens, magpies, and golden and bald eagles. More species of beetles use carcasses than all vertebrates put together. Sikes (1994) found 23,365 beetles of 445 species in two field seasons at wolf-killed carcasses. No predator feeds as many other creatures as wolves do.

Lisa Baril of MSU (2011) tells us that after nearly a century of height suppression, willows (Salix spp.) in the northern range of Yellowstone are increasing in height growth as a possible consequence of wolf (Canis lupus) restoration, climate change, or other factors… (T)he recent release of this rare but important habitat type could have significant implications for associated songbirds that are exhibiting declines in the region. *** Bird richness increased along a gradient from lowest in suppressed to highest in previously tall willows, but abundance and diversity were similar between released and previously tall willows. Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) and Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii ) were found in all three growth conditions; however, Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia), Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus), Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii ), and Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodii ) were present in released and previously tall willows only. Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla) was found…to specialize on tall, dense willows.

Some people ask, “Does Montana have too many wolves?” In 1884, Montana set a bounty on wolves; in the next three years, 10,261 wolves were bountied (Lopez, 1978). That’s16 times Montana’s 2011 population of 653 wolves. Bergstrom et al (2009) question that having gray wolves over 2% of their former range in the conterminous United States, and at a tiny fraction of their former number constitutes recovery. They wonder at the wisdom of reducing them just a decade or two after they have been back on the land. The large historic population size of about 380,000 grey wolves implied by genetic data provides a striking contrast to restoration goals in the western conterminous US (Leonard et al, 2005).

Is wolf hunting necessary? Cariappa et al (2011) analyzed data collected at 32 sites across North America using linear and nonlinear regression and found that the evidence supported wolf population regulation by density-dependence as much as limitation by prey availability. The data suggested that wolf populations are self regulated rather than limited by prey biomass by at least a 3:1 margin. They wrote: “In establishing goals for sustainable wolf population levels, managers of wolf reintroductions and species recovery efforts should account for the possibility that some regulatory mechanism plays an important role in wolf population dynamics.” What if we simply allowed wolves to regulate their own numbers, as they have in Yellowstone, going from 174 wolves in 2003 to about 80 in 2012?

And, can hunting be overdone? Scott Creel and Jay Rotella (2010) wrote, “Following the growth and geographic expansion of wolf (Canis lupus) populations reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995–1996, Rocky Mountain wolves were removed from the endangered species list in May 2009. Idaho and Montana immediately established hunting seasons with quotas equaling 20% of the regional wolf population. Combining hunting with predator control, 37.1% of Montana and Idaho wolves were killed in the year of delisting. Hunting and predator control are well-established methods to broaden societal acceptance of large carnivores, but it is unprecedented for a species to move so rapidly from protection under the Endangered Species Act to heavy direct harvest, and it is important to use all available data to assess the likely consequences of these changes in policy. For wolves, it is widely argued that human offtake has little effect on total mortality rates, so that a harvest of 28–50% per year can be sustained. Using previously published data from 21 North American wolf populations, we related total annual mortality and population growth to annual human offtake. Contrary to current conventional wisdom, there was a strong association between human offtake and total mortality rates across North American wolf populations. Human offtake was associated with a strongly additive or super-additive increase in total mortality. Population growth declined as human offtake increased, even at low rates of offtake. Finally, wolf populations declined with harvests substantially lower than the thresholds identified in current state and federal policies. These results should help to inform management of Rocky Mountain wolves.”

Stahler et al (2012), using 14 years of data from a long-term study of wolves in Yellowstone, noted, “At the population level, litter size and survival decreased with increasing wolf population size and canine distemper outbreaks.” In the annual report (2011) of the Yellowstone wolf project, we read: “Intraspecific mortality was again the leading cause (of wolf deaths).” Flatly put, when wolf populations rise, wolves kill each other.

Other consequences of killing wolves include the effects on the social dynamics resulting from the loss of key pack members: if an alpha female is killed, that pack is unlikely to reproduce that year. If a pack’s only big male is killed, that may result in diminishing the pack’s food base, because big males are key to killing prey located and chased down by other pack members (Smith, pers. comm.).

Rutledge et al (2010) wrote, “Legal and illegal killing of animals near park borders can significantly increase the threat of extirpation for populations living within ecological reserves, especially for wide-ranging large carnivores that regularly travel into unprotected areas.” And, “Our results indicate that even in a relatively large protected area, human harvesting outside park boundaries can affect evolutionarily important social patterns within protected areas.” The loss of these social patterns negates the value of Yellowstone as a control or baseline against which other areas, where wolf hunting is allowed, can be compared.

Should we control wolves? Biologist Bob Hayes offers some thoughts about controlling wolves in his 2010 book, Wolves of the Yukon. He wrote: “I spent eighteen years studying the effects of lethal wolf control on prey populations. The science clearly shows killing wolves is biologically wrong.” As I began to better understand the wolf, I developed a clear answer to my question about the effectiveness and moral validity of lethal wolf control programs.” A decade after his retirement in 2000, Hayes wrote, “I can now say the benefits of broad scale killing of wolves are far from worth it – not to moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep or people. It should never happen again.”

We should also consider the services that wolves provide, that can avert epidemics of wildlife diseases. Bruce L. Smith, in his 2012 book, Where Elk Roam, warns us of the danger of concentrating elk on feed grounds, because of two serious diseases: brucellosis and chronic wasting disease (CWD). Noting that Wisconsin has spent $27 million depopulating its whitetail deer to curb CWD (and no CWD has been detected where wolves live), he traces the inexorable march of CWD across Wyoming. “Recent modeling suggests wolf predation may suppress CWD emergence in deer.”

Wolves and other large carnivores are essential to the health of the ecosystems on which our game animals and we depend. Wolves have been shown to be capable of reducing or eliminating the spread of brucellosis and chronic wasting disease (Hobbs 2006, Wild et al 2011), in part by reducing density and group sizes of elk and deer. Wild et al concluded, “We suggest that as CWD distribution and wolf range overlap in the future, wolf predation may suppress disease emergence or limit prevalence.” Cross et al (2010) wrote, “(T)he data suggest that enhanced elk-to-elk transmission in free-ranging populations may be occurring due to larger winter elk aggregations. Elk populations inside and outside of the GYE that traditionally did not maintain brucellosis may now be at risk due to recent population increases.”

We risk losing wolves’ essential ecosystem services by continually inventing new ways to reduce their numbers to a socially-acceptable minimum. The goal of wolf management might better be to establish ecologically effective populations of wolves (Lee et al. 2012) wherever the absence of conflicts with livestock make that feasible .

It may be timely to consider the ethical ramifications of our relationship with wolves and other large predators. Aldo Leopold was a Yale School of Forestry graduate of 1909; he was the father of wildlife management in America. Leopold thought of ecosystems, including all their inhabitants and processes, as “The land.” He wrote (1949), “We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” He also wrote, “If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Jeremy Bruskotter and two other authors (2011) offer a way to rescue wolves from politics, by adopting wildlife as a public trust resource. They write, “In the absence of ESA protection, wolf management reverts to states. Will states honor the substantial public investment made in wolf restoration or seek to dramatically reduce or even eliminate wolf populations, as opponents of delisting claim? The answer may depend on how states interpret a legal doctrine with roots dating back to ancient Roman and English common law ( 11). This doctrine, sometimes referred to as the “wildlife trust doctrine,” holds that wildlife, having no owners, are res communes, belonging “in common to all of the citizens” ( 12), and states have a sovereign trust obligation to manage wildlife resources for the benefit of their citizens ( 13). The wildlife trust doctrine is a branch of the broader “public trust doctrine,” which traces its legal roots in the United States back to the mid–19th century.”

Gibson (2013) writes, “By the 1990s, the northern Rockies had become a redoubt for America’s far-right wing extremist groups: paramilitary culture advocates who saw themselves as armed warriors facing federal tyranny, ranchers angry that they did not own the lands they leased from the federal government to graze cows, hunters who saw the region’s deer and elk as their private property, and those who hated all forms of environmental regulation. These groups created a common mythology, both resurrecting old forms of wolf demonization — wolves as evil, related to the devil— and inventing new ones: wolves as foreign invaders from Canada, wolves as icons of the federal government, wolves as disease-ridden with deadly tape worms, wolves as ‘killing machines’ that would wipe out the region’s livestock, and in time, hunt people for food and sport.”

L. David Mech, in his 1970 book, The Wolf, wrote, “These people cannot be changed. If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out-financed, and outvoted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes. Finally their hate must be outdone by a love for the whole of nature, for the unspoiled wilderness, and for the wolf as a beautiful interesting, and integral part of both.”

Meantime, legislators in Montana are demonstrating total ignorance of the public trust doctrine, wildlife ecology, conservation ethics, or anything related thereto. House Bill 27 would legalize silencers for wolf hunting. HB 31 would allow 12-year olds and up to hold five wolf licenses, allow recorded sounds and calls, and would have set a wolf population cap of 250. HB 73 would amend Sec. 87-304 to read:

(7) In an area immediately adjacent to a national park, the commission may not:

(a) prohibit the hunting or trapping of wolves; or close the area to wolf hunting or trapping unless a wolf harvest quota established by the commission for that area has been met.

In other words, some legislators wants to micromanage wolf hunting in total abrogation of fair chase standards; just kill wolves as efficiently as technologically possible. What’s next? helicopter gunships, drones, night vision goggles and infra-red scopes?

Finally, why do state game departments hammer wolves, mountain lions, bears, and coyotes? Demand from their constituents, hunters who see predators as competitors; and ranchers. Hunters’ license fees pay the bills, and ranchers control private lands on which much hunting takes place, so they must be placated.

We could spend months in a university class examining these issues in detail, or you could simply read, for starters, Cristina Eisenberg’s The Wolf’s Tooth (2010, Island Press). I also recommend reading the Yellowstone Wolf Project’s annual reports, some of which are on that table, or can be read on the internet. Meanwhile, there’s work to do: Montana Audubon’s Janet Ellis sends us bulletins about wildlife legislation. Defenders of Wildlife alerts its members to comment on bills; so does Sierra Club. We can support the Yellowstone Wolf Project through donations to the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Wolf Issue References cited

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Bergstrom, Bradley J., Sacha Vignieri, Steven R. Sheffield, Wes Sechrest, and Anne A. Carlson. 2009. The Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Is Not Yet Recovered. BioScience 59(11): 991-999. December.

Bruskotter, J. T., S. A. Enzler, and A. Treves. 2011. Rescuing Wolves from Politics: Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource. Science 333:1828-1829

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Middleton, Arthur Dehon. 2012. The influence of large carnivore recovery and summer conditions on the migratory elk of Wyoming‟s Absaroka Mountains. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wyoming. The entire dissertation is available at: http://www.wyocoopunit.org/index.php/kauffman-group/search/absaroka-elk-ecology-project/

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Smith, Douglas. Personal communication

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Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming YCR-2012-01.

All Yellowstone Wolf Project annual reports are available electronically at: http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/wolves.htm

Stahler, Daniel R. 2000. Interspecific interactions between the common raven (Corvus corax ) and the gray wolf (Canis lupus ) in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: Investigations of a predator and scavenger relationship. Biology. Burlington VT, University of Vermont. 105 p.

Stahler, D.R., D.R. MacNulty, R.K. Wayne, B. vonHoldt and D.W. Smith. 2012. The adaptive value of morphological, behavioural and life-history traits in reproductive female wolves. Journal of Animal Ecology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.02039.x

USDA – National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2011. Cattle Death Loss. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1625.

USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 2011. Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2010 Interagency Annual Report, Table 5b. http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt10/.

Vucetich, J.A., D. Smith, and D.R. Stahler. 2005. Influence of harvest, climate, and wolf predation on Yellowstone elk, 1961-2004. – Oikos 111: 259-270.

Wild, M.A., N.T. Hobbs, M.S. Graham, and M.W. Miller. 2011. “The role of predation in disease control: A comparison of selective and non-selective removal of prion diseases in deer.” Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47(1):78-93.

Norman A. Bishop February 9, 2013

Bozeman, MT 5971

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

241 Responses to What real public information about wolves looks like

  1. Joseph C. Allen says:

    Best collected evidence I have ever seen. Thank you for this synopsis.

  2. Ida Lupine says:

    Roman and English common law ( 11). This doctrine, sometimes referred to as the “wildlife trust doctrine,” holds that wildlife, having no owners, are res communes, belonging “in common to all of the citizens” ( 12), and states have a sovereign trust obligation to manage wildlife resources for the benefit of their citizens ( 13). The wildlife trust doctrine is a branch of the broader “public trust doctrine,” which traces its legal roots in the United States back to the mid–19th century.”

    Thank you Ralph for this post –

    • Jay Brimberry says:

      Actually under English Common law the animals belong to the land owner and no one else. The land owner can harvest and sell any wildlife on their property. This goes back to the King owning everything and then doling it out to those of his subjects that he deemed worthy of exploiting the gift given. To this day, the majority of of hunting in Britain is controlled by he who owns the land, limits, seasons, etc…

      • Ralph Maughan says:


        I really don’t like this old English system. So we need to fight to keep our public lands from being made private like the current Republican officeholders want.

  3. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    Indeed,Ralph,thank you for this post.

  4. Barb Rupers says:

    Excellent! I particularly like the quote from Wolves of the Yukon “I can now say the benefits of broad scale killing of wolves are far from worth it – not to moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep or people. It should never happen again.” Bob Hayes

  5. Nancy Davenport says:

    You are doing a great service to this country. Thank you.

  6. Mike says:

    Amazing, Ralph.

    Thanks for posting this.

  7. Mike J says:

    “$126.5 million annually to kill wolves and other animals”

    Beyond Mary Lou Simms article and the UDSA website, Can anyone link to the actual data this is based on?

    Thanks, Mike

  8. Lonna O'Leary says:

    Thank you Ralph for publishing this superbly written article by Norman A. Bishop in Wildlife News. It is an indepth and informative article based on the facts not the rhetoric that many articles I have read are filled with. Mr. Bishop sticks to the facts and has the ability to keep his article devoid of opinion. The whole article is filled with valuable insight and information about the present state of America’s wolves. It is reports like these I believe need to have national media attention. I believe that the wolf’s best hope for any future lies in getting the mainstream media to bring these type of facts to the American public’s attention and to keep broadcasting them over and over so Americans will see the truth, and hear the truth about wolves until apathy and ignorance of the injustice that is being done to wolves right now is replaced by knowledge, empathy and motivation to action to stand up for and save them from their current path of total annihilation.

  9. MAD says:

    Ralph, thanks for posting the excellent article. Where in Bozeman and what time is Bishop speaking? If I can make it I’ll drive down. Thanks again.

  10. Salle says:

    Wow. Thanks to Ralph and Norm for this goldmine of information! Mr. Bishop never ceases to amaze me with his wealth of knowledge and his eloquence in delivery. I intend to make this thread widely known as cite it whenever necessary.

    Thank you, Norm, for your diligence in educating all of us and your willingness to present this collection of information in person. Bravo, sir! And thank you!

    Thanks, Ralph, for acquiring this text version of Norm’s presentation and posting it here.

  11. WM says:

    Mr. Bishop does an admirable job of putting this position paper together. It has depth and balance.

    Two suggestions, which I offer to make it better:

    One is at least a reference to Dr. Mech’s recent peer reviewed paper, which deals directly with wolf PR and science, and is on point in every way, with respect to Mr. Bishop’s theme. It maybe even challenges conclusions on a couple points, particularly the conclusions regarding accuracy of wolf-effect reports, including trophic cascade research (Cristina Eisenberg was a student of William Ripple and his trophic cascade program, and is cited for three papers in the Bishop report), and whether wolves will ever have much an effect outside YNP, as compared to other human influences on the environment:

    “Is Science in Danger of Sanctifying the Wolf.”

    Here is a link to the paper:


    Second, is a qualification to a quote in Mr. Bishop’s paper, which some wolf advocates tend to use as a rally point:

    L. David Mech, in his 1970 book, The Wolf, wrote, “These people cannot be changed. If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out-financed, and outvoted….”

    On this very forum, about five months ago, in a discussion about his paper and other related topics, under the moderation of Dr. Bruskotter, Dr, Mech made the following statement, which is relevant to Mr. Bishop’s paper:

    Dave Mech says:

    September 8, 2012 at 11:15 am

    This replies to WM’s Sept. 7: 3:36 pm question about how my views about wolves might have changed since the quoted material from my 1970 book “The Wolf.” The short answer, which I stated in some article since then was that the wolf haters have long ago been outshouted and outvoted and that the wolf’s long-term need is for the preservation of as much wild land as possible.

    Without the widespread poisoning that originally wiped out wolves, the species can survive any kind of management by the states including Idaho’s, once their population has reached several hundred.++

    (Source: https://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/09/01/of-wolves-and-trophic-cascades-on-the-costs-and-benefits-of-wolves/ )

    Since Dr. Mech was there from the beginning, is the chief wolf research scientist for the federal government and is arguably one of the most well known and respected wolf scientists in the world, perhaps acknowledging his observations would be in order.

    • Immer Treue says:


      I was awaiting your reply to this presentation. I agree, it is a well balanced document, but I also strongly agree with your comments about David Mech. Let’s just say limited time, resources, and a current conundrum… Prevented me from replying in kind. To your credit, what you wrote, I could not have said better.

      • Louise Kane says:

        I strongly disagree with your contention that Mr. Bishop’s paper might be improved by adding this quote by Mech, “Without the widespread poisoning that originally wiped out wolves, the species can survive any kind of management by the states including Idaho’s, once their population has reached several hundred.++” Did you stop to consider that perhaps Mr. Bishop specifically excluded some of Mech’s later quotes and instead chose to honor Mech’s earlier work by including his now famous quote that stated, “These people cannot be changed. If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out-financed, and outvoted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes. Finally their hate must be outdone by a love for the whole of nature, for the unspoiled wilderness, and for the wolf as a beautiful interesting, and integral part of both.” These are words that still ring true today, especially now. I would argue that Mech’s latest statements, including his response to you seem somewhat schizophrenic in light of his earlier work, and especially in light of how the states are now managing wolves. There was a great deal of discussion when the “Is Science in Danger of Sanctifying the Wolf.” was released. I think the danger lies not in the issue of whether the wolf is sanctified but in their continued vilification and the attitude that wolves can and should be able to withstand these barbaric, inhumane and scientifically indefensible attacks against them. Mr Bishop did choose to include a good quote by David Mech. He then also chose to include work by others that more accurately depicts the terrible plight of wolves today because these same attitudes, policies and laws persist despite what we know to be true and what is fiction. With fiction winning out. One of the greatest fictions being that wolves need to be hunted.

        • WM says:

          Louise (and Kirk),

          So Dr. Mech’s post is “schizophrenic” in Louise’s words? Geez. Now there is a comment for the ages.

          You do, of course, realize I asked the question of Dr. Mech because of your (Louise’s) earlier apersions cast in his direction, and those of a couple others here. Holding someone to a forty plus year old statement of their belief deserves inquiry for currency.

          So, for a particular purpose one finds his words useful –even a call to arms- but when they are clarified for present day context 40 year after, they are to be summarily dismissed?

          You, and some others, here, just don’t like his answer. Burying it because it doesn’t fit your views is disingenuous, and intellectually dishonest – especially if the objective is a balanced conversation setting the stage for and addressing “what we know about wolves.”

          And, as to my first suggestion, to include Dr. Mech’s recent paper is, again, directly on point. He suggests that for some wolf impacts – the jury is not in, despite the claims of some writers, advocates and researchers regarding supposed benefits of wolves. He generally questions accuracy of reported wolf effects in the media (who love one liner conclusions without attention to detail) as well as specific studies.

          A couple of my favorites are control of coyote population – not in the GYE; benefit to scavengers – hasn’t been quantitatively studied; trophic cascade – maybe, but not conclusive as to just how much and where; applicability of Yellowstone results to the rest of probable wolf habitat – don’t count on it, because other ecosystems are much more heavily influenced by human activities than in a national park, AND wolves are not likely to ever be allowed to achieve high densities where they make that much difference. This is, excepting locally, the ungulates whose behavior they change or they eat, of course. You will note reviewers of his draft include S.Barber-Meyer, J. Berger, M.Hebblewhite, Dr.R. McNulty, D.W. Smith, and three anonymous reviewers. Mr. Bishop references Berger, Hebblewhite and Smith by name. Barber-Meyer is a respected USGS wolf researcher, and McNulty is a YNP wolf researcher. And most know of Doug Smith. It is also possible (probable?) one or more of the anonymous reveiwers of Dr. Mech’s paper might also be among those cited by Mr. Bishop.

          I think a paper titled “The wolf Issue; what science suggests” and a Wildlife News post titled “What Real Public Information About Wolves Looks Like,” would welcome a view such as Dr. Mech presents.

          • Louise Kane says:

            WM- where does your concern come into play? You argue that Dr Mech’s opinions and statements should have been included. Mr. Bishop did choose to include a Mech statement, just not the particular quotes you like. its interesting to me that you argue “Holding someone to a forty plus year old statement of their belief deserves inquiry for currency.” In what respect? That 40 year old statement is unfortunately more relevant than some of his contemporary statements. The quote ” the wolf haters have long ago been outshouted and outvoted” leaves me completely bewildered. How in the midst of these reignited anti wolf/predator wars can anyone rationally argue that the anti-wolf voices have been staunched, outshouted or outvoted. Dr Mech is a biologist not a social scientist. My beef with that statement is that its patently untrue. Perhaps Mech may have been trying to say that we should be past this, but it seems unlikely in the context of the remainder of his statement that claims, “the wolf’s long-term need is for the preservation of as much wild land as possible”. The two objectives reducing wolf hatred and preserving habitat are not mutually exclusive goals for wolf recovery. Why make them be? The loudest, most obnoxious, hateful and searing voices are still present. These voices present the greatest threat to wolf recovery by most accounts. Its not habitat loss, intraspecfic strife/killing, disease or predation by other species that threatens wolves, its humans and our intolerance. To suggest otherwise is not honest. These voices that Mech argues are extinguished are doing a damn good job of controlling wolf policy. No amount of preserved land is going to protect wolves from this cultural bias. Laws are needed, and strong voices to protect wolves. Mixed messages or worse yet, pro killing messages are not helping wolves. And, my use of the word schizophrenic, obviously refers to the drastically antithetical positions of Mech’s work now and then, at least in some contexts.

            Finally, nobody buried Mech’s work. Mr,. Bishop as I pointed out seems to have purposefully used the quote he did to help make his argument – the central thesis being, “The wolf issue: What science suggests; the players, and our role”. Your immediate reaction was to suggest/cherry pick 3 arguments that you felt would make it better. All three leaning toward a presumption that wolves can handle anything we throw at them (ala Mech), that the trophic cascade theory and benefit of wolves is disputed in some circles, and finally that the defense of wolves and the science and study of them is somehow being compromised because wolves are sanctified, as Mech suggests.

            Yikes WM what is your point? Mr. Bishop chose a representative set of literature to make a statement about wolves and the manner in how they are being mismanaged and you think that could be improved on by adding your cherry picked stay with the status quo literature and quotes. I’m guessing that was not the intention of the written piece.

            • WM says:


              You obviously have your opinion. But then you aren’t a wolf scientist, are you?

              The points Mech raises are a concern, and maybe even an adnomition for the academic community. They have been raised by a scientist who is an expert in the field. They deserve acknowledgement in a balanced discussion. Have you actually taken the time to read and understand his paper? 😉

              • Kirk Robinson says:

                WM: I have read Dave Mech’s paper carefully, and in fact commented at some length on it in this forum. I stand by my critique. I’m sure you can find it if you like.

                That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t welcome Dave to weigh in once again.

                However, in a previous post above, I already argued that Dave was right the first time. If we’re referring here to the question of whether sport hunting of wolves is necessary in order to breed tolerance for wolves, obviously the opinions are mixed. Personally, I have serious doubts about that, supported by how ID, MT and WY are going about their so-called “wolf management,” which I believe is misnomer if ever there was one. They have no idea what they’re really doing. It’s all politics. In so far as science is involved, it is the handmaiden of politics.

              • WM says:


                I put a link to the Mech paper in my first comment on this topic. Here it is again, if some folks missed it:


              • Louise Kane says:

                yes i did read it and understand it quite well – Like I said, I’m not sure where he is coming from, its bewildering to me.

          • Mike says:

            WM with another long-winded defense of the hunting mothership.

            So boring.

            • Immer Treue says:


              Without referring to you personally, your “comment” is idiotic. No appendage waving, no false equivalencies, but have you ever met Dr. Mech. Have you read his work, or listened to his testimonies?

              I agree with WM about the Mech content in the Bishop piece. Sure, Mech is responsible for those comments that many of us rallied around those many years ago.

              I’ve listened to the man in person, at the IWC and Wolf Symposia. Sorry, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Got nothing to do with hunting, and everything to do with more wolves in more areas, that has been hijacked by many with no vested interest other than they want wolves, grasshopper.

          • Louise Kane says:

            Its too bad that endless studies of wolves seem to be needed to address questions such as what benefits do they provide within ecosystems. Since most species occurring together, within intact ecosystems, also evolved together, its a bit fatuous to require data to prove the beneficial aspects of their presence. I can only think of one naturally ocurring species that has destroyed its habitat, and caused extinctions of other species… and its not wolves.

            • WM says:


              I think the academic research/taxpayer – industrial complex would be most distraught by your comment. Institutions of higher learning and the research they do are a huge business in this country. Not studying wolves or the ecosystems in which they do or would live are entitled to such continued study. And the work of research scientists is never done, although the funding may become tighter.

              By the way, I don’t know there are that many “intact ecosystems” which have not felt the imprint of man anywhere on the planet. That would be right down to the very tippy tops of snow and glacier covered mountains being dusted by soot from China or dust particles from plowed or otherwise human disturbed ground, increasing heat absorption.

              • Louise Kane says:

                I know WM – you missed my point which was do we really need more data to bolster arguments to prove that naturally occurring wolves, or any other species, fulfills some beneficial role in its natural environment. Its ludicrous if you think about it.

              • Mark L says:

                Actually, if you cave you can find cave/karst ecosystems that are (mostly) unaffected by man…aside from water quality, little else is changed.

            • rork says:

              “its a bit fatuous to require data to prove the beneficial aspects of their presence”
              I think having a better idea of all the side-effects is nice. Maybe you can easily understand that benefits of intact systems are manifold, but our fellow humans don’t always get it. They can easily imagine (real or not) harm to ungulate numbers, and the inconvenience of having to secure waste and not let their pets run free, but many will not admit even a single benefit. It’s not easy for me to tell a deer hunter in Michigan’s upper peninsula that the wolves are actually good for them personally. But that is exactly what I want to tell them. They can however counter that everybody who actually lives there knows the evil wolves are outa control – I’m not making that up (though they are).

              • jon says:

                How are wolves out of control? Wolves eating deer in Michigan means they are out of control to the typical deer hunter? The deer hunter only seems to care about having ample opportunity to kill a deer and that’s it.

              • Louise Kane says:

                I know – it was post in frustration about the amount of time and money spent on producing evidence that should be self evident.
                Obviously its not, and worse yet defense of naturally occurring predators is unsuccessful despite the incontrovertible evidence of evolution, and hundreds of years of writing/research about them. I hate the stupidity, ignorance and killing

              • Immer Treue says:


                It’s funny, but even in NE MN, one still finds that “the wolves are eating all the deer” dialog. Odd, but the wolves have ALWAYS been THERE. So why all of a sudden…

                I think a growing attitude, at least of folks with young families, in the vicinity of where I live, are becoming more willing to voice their opinions, that the only benefit of wolf hunting/trapping in our neck of the woods is increased $ for the state DNR, as depredations are negligible.

            • Joanne Favazza says:

              I agree, Louise.

    • JB says:

      A few points:

      Generally, I agree with WM–this is a nice, concise summary of the existing literature. However, a few things have been left out. Mech’s caution is one. However, while his cautionary note about “wolf effect” is well made, his assertion that wolves are being “sanctified” in the media is absolutely not. I should note here that there is a reply to this paper due out any time that specifically addresses and refutes the claim that wolves are being sanctified by the news media. Note: whether they are being sanctified online is another question, and one not adequately addressed by a convenience sample of 11 sources.

      I would also have liked to have seen more references to the human dimensions literature (e.g., the work of Treves, Bath, Decker, Vaske, Kellert & others), which sheds some light on the social acceptability of some of the practices proposed to manage wolves.

      Regarding Mech’s claim regarding controlling wolf populations without poisons: I think the general point–that there is a big difference between management aimed at systematic elimination and management aimed at “containment” is fair. However, I respectfully disagree that management agencies lack the capability to eliminate wolves sans poisons. This view ignores the power of new and emerging technologies that didn’t exist in the age when wolves were first eliminated, e.g., night vision, helicopters, radio-collars, gps, trail cameras, (dare I say it) drones, as well as the increase in human populations and road densities that make wolves easier to kill. Admittedly, this is still an academic argument, as state agencies have not unleashed the full area of “tools” available to them.

      • JB says:

        Apologies for the typos. What happened to our ability to edit posts? That was a nice feature.

      • Louise Kane says:

        One could argue that every piece of information ever written needs to be included but as everyone who has ever written a basic college paper understands, you have got to be selective at some point.

        I think Ralph’s succinct heading sums it up nicely…this is “what real public information about wolves looks like”

  12. Kirk Robinson says:

    Excellent! Thank you Norm Bishop for assembling all this valuable information, and thank you Ralph Maughan for posting it in The Wildlife News.

    One thing that continues to me is the common idea that the right default position is that wolves and other carnivorous mammals should be hunted, and that this default position should prevail unless the species or a significant population of the species is threatened by the hunting. I believe this position is incorrect and indefensible. Norm Bishop’s informative article helps make it clear just how indefensible it is.

    Instead, the default position should be that hunting and trapping of large native carnivores is inappropriate and wrong unless there is a specific adequate justification for doing so. But what would that be?

    Widespread indiscriminate wolf hunting and trapping cannot be justified on the grounds that wolves sometimes kill cattle and sheep and pets. Similarly, it cannot be justified on the ground that it is beneficial to other wildlife. It cannot be justified on the ground that it is deleterious to prey species, except in very particular and rare circumstances of the “predator pit” phenomenon, in which case only a more narrowly targeted hunt might be justified. And it can’t be justified on the ground that it serves human safety.

    So what does justify the widespread and indiscriminate hunting and trapping of wolves? One thought, which Dr. Mech apparently endorses, is that it helps temper hatred of wolves, thereby increasing tolerance of wolves, so that wolves as a species can persist, even if the fabric of wolf society is seriously damaged as a result and even if it means that wolves are not allowed to occupy their natural ecologically effective role. I say this is total B.S. What’s happening to wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is enough to put the lie to this lame “justification.”

    • Louise Kane says:

      agreed with every point you make Kirk, in particular the total BS about allowing wolves to be hunted as some type of cultural pressure valve relief for humans that want to kill predators. The only benefit this approach has had is that the longer we allow these preposterous, monstrous, ill-conceived policies to persist the more likely they will be claimed as cultural traditions with some “right” attached to them.

    • Mark L says:

      Kirk Robinson,
      I agree. I made the point last year (on this site) that the ‘default’ position of this continent’s inhabitants (pre-Columbus) has been to not hunt wolves, but to let them ‘settle it on the field’ amongst themselves, except in cases of human/food conditioning. Yes, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule (especially for non-lethal conditioning), for those lawyerly types that wish to argue too.

      • Rancher Bob says:

        You always beat the natives didn’t hunt wolves drum, which should be some natives didn’t hunt wolves. I’m third generation reservation white trash and I’ve spent many a hour listening to the elders tell stories. I can tell you of three ways natives killed wolves and other predators, most I have been told are still being used with success today. Seems the feds can’t trace cause of death either. Two of those method are very indiscriminate methods of killing any type of predator, so this part of the world has a long history of indiscriminate killing of wolves. You could say that’s how wolves and man evolved. I know that tribes on both coast of the America’s killed wolves and tribes of the interior.
        Your entitled version of history just be careful where your selling your version.

        • savebears says:

          Anybody that sticks to the claim that native americans didn’t hunt and kill wolves is simply denying history.

        • Nancy says:

          Curious RB – was it out of necessity (because your ancestors didn’t like predators competing for the same food sources)that these methods came about to deal with them or was it further along, when predators starting taking advantage of your ancestor’s lack of responsibility, when it came to protecting their profits (livestock?)

          Because honestly…..

          “this part of the world has a long history of indiscriminate killing of wolves” might not ring as true as you might want to portray it?


          FYI – We are all part of a generation, of some sort of “trash” white or otherwise, when it comes to what our species is doing (or has done) to wildlife/other species.

          Will the next generation be kinder?

          • Ida Lupine says:

            Disgusting, isn’t it. This is my neck of the woods. 🙁

          • Ida Lupine says:

            From the article:

            The animals’ [wolves] heads became symbols in the colonists’ and the Indians’ struggle over land and political ascendancy.

            And nothing has changed – they still are symbols for the same things.

            Propped up for display like a wolf’s head, King Phillip’s skull was a symbol of English ascendancy. The colonists tried to use human skulls as tokens of power from the earliest years of settlement

            I live in this area, and the Wampanoag cemetery is very nearby. I have always thought what happened to this man, Massasoit’s son Metacomet, to be extremely disturbing, especially since without the help of the Native people the colonists wouldn’t have survived.

            • JEFF E says:

              “….especially since without the help of the Native people the colonists would not have survived.”

              that is not necessarily true

              • Louise Kane says:

                Jeff in some instances native americans did directly assist settlers or in the case of some new england settlements the settlers stole the Indians stores and thus helped them to survive. I suggest reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower. But I read a much better book, that I’ll try and find. But my favorite book of all time as it relates to the differences in native american and european cultures and their impacts on their environment was William Cronon’s Changes in the Land.
                I would highly reccommend this book to everyone here. A good synopsis can be found here. it was a book I reread several times, I loved it so much. http://employees.cfmc.com/adamb/writings/reviews/citl.htm

              • JEFF E says:

                contrast these two statements and tell me what you notice.

                “especially since without the help of the Native people the colonists wouldn’t have survived.”

                “in some instances native americans did directly assist settlers “

              • Louise Kane says:

                ok jeff point taken
                anyhow take a look at cronon’s book

              • JEFF E says:

                I will, thank you.
                Just an FYI, one branch of my family arrived in Accomack, VA,in 1620, ~six months before the pilgrams at plymouth rock, and settled on the banks of Chesapeake Bay. Various extended family members are still in possession of letters, diaries,and documents, none of which speak to any particular dependence on indigenous peoples.

              • Louise Kane says:

                Jeff, I have to admit I am really jealous of you for having access to those documents. I can’t imagine having anything more exciting then a store of primary source material from that time period! Lucky you, have you published it or copied and given to the Smithsonian? I hope so. what a find. We are lucky here in this area of Cape Cod and Plymouth to have so many museums and libraries with these kinds of documents. Reading something that someone wrote in the 1600s….I always find it so incredible to read. Some of the writings that survive from that period are so mundane – like planted corn, sowed peas, milked cow. then hidden in the text you’ll see something that illuminates. anyhow lucky you….

              • Mark L says:

                Funny Louise, I see what you did there.

              • JEFF E says:

                my family also owns a clock that was hand made in the late 1700’s,in America, the face plate covering the pendulum is 13 stars and 13 strips. When I was discharged from the military I would set in the room that my Mom had it laying on the bed, and try to comprehend what that meant in the time period that it was made; do not ever believe I quite made it… otherwise I would not have tears in my eyes right now…or maybe I would

              • Mark L says:

                Seen 1 with only 8 that said “join or die” too.

    • WM says:


      It is fine to question whether the default postion should include hunting of wolves. However, the probability that it will NOT be the default is extremely low anywhere wolves will be in a delisted status in the West or the WGL, and it seems the list continues to grow. What 5 states, now hunt, one getting ready to, and two more formally stating they don’t really want to protect them (UT, and most recently ND which would get its wolves from the WGL). WA and OR will eventually hunt them, too.

      • Kirk Robinson says:

        You might be right, WM. I am no prophet. But I know which side I’m on.

        Incidentally, I don’t I disagree with your points – at least not strongly. It might have been good for Norm Bishop to include the stuff you mention. However, articles do come to an end (thankfully): and one of the good things about blogs like this is that articles provide opportunities for us to explore issues and ideas and argue. So I am happy that you and I and Louise and others are engaged.



      • JB says:

        Kirk, WM:

        Interestingly, one of the components of the very sanctified “North American Model” of wildlife conservation is: “Wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate purpose.” I realize that what is a legitimate purpose is debatable, but this principle suggests that the default position should be no hunting until a “legitimate” purpose can be justified…assuming, of course, that proponents of the NAM aren’t being disingenuous.

        • Kirk Robinson says:

          Good point.

        • WM says:


          Perhaps Dr. Mech’s choice of the words, “sanctify,” and wolf as “sinner or saint” are a bit over the top. However, given the high esteem in which some wolf advocates hold the creature (mystical spirit, etc.,) and the lengths they go to advocate on its behalf, and at the other end, the “evil nature” espoused by wolf haters and some mythologies, maybe there is room for poetic license here.

          Can you think of any better catch phrases to capsulize, draw attention and stimulate discussion. I think the context of his paper is well taken in that regard, especially his deserved criticism of the then media portrayals (just months ago). An example I have used even before I read his paper was the stuff Nat Geo did. He even references that piece.

          As for the momentum changing in the media, it seems that will always be kind of dynamic depending on the whims of reporters. We have gone from recovery and delisting to periods of harvest/killing, outrage and whatnot. So somebody is at a computer counting the number of articles, sentences, whatever that are portraying wolves in a negative or positive light?

          I wonder what our Country forefathers would have thought of such an explanation? “Hey Mr. Franklin, I’ve got something you might find fascinating?”

          • JB says:


            The fact is that Mech drew conclusions about the effects of the media based upon 11 (eleven!) purposively (i.e., non-randomly) selected sources–and used them to allege wide-spread “sanctification” of wolves (apparently concerns about sample sizes and random selection only apply in biological research). Ironically, this allegation was coupled with an accusation that scientists may be creating a false portrayal of wolves by overly-emphasizing one side of the story.

          • Mark L says:

            I think Mr. Franklin would say “Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will come eat you”
            …which doesn’t help in this thread, but I found it amusing.

          • WM says:

            Mark L.,

            I was thinking of how Ben Franklin, a very inquisitive guy of many diverse interests, but also a newspaper publisher, might view the idea of measuring public attitude quantitatively by how many articles/sentences portray a particular subject as being posititive or negative.

            I truly believe he if he were able to time travel with his 18th Century vantage point and look at what we are doing today, he would have found it intellectually stimulating AND amusing at the same time – as applied to wolves, anyway.

    • rork says:

      “Widespread indiscriminate wolf hunting and trapping cannot be justified”
      Debate can center on those first two words. Pro-hunt folks can say things like limited and targeted, and if I try really hard I can imagine situations where those would be sort-of-true, not that I expect that to happen. Limited has a chance of being somewhat true I hope – warning, I’m a dreamer.

      • rork says:

        Should have said I mean Michigan, where we haven’t got a proposal yet. This permits dreaming.

    • Joanne Favazza says:

      Totally agree with you, Kirk Robinson.

  13. Elk275 says:

    Where is Norm Bishop speaking in Bozeman on the 02/11/2013.

    • Nancy says:

      Googled (as I’m sure you did Elk) and while a lot of information comes up about the man, couldn’t find a location as to where Bishop was speaking tonight in Bozeman.

      • Elk275 says:

        I found it:

        Please join Sacajawea Audubon on Monday, February 11th for an interesting and fact-based program on the wolf issue, presented by Norm Bishop.

        The Sacajawea Audubon Society meets the second Monday of the month (September through May) at 7:00 p.m., at the Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th) in Bozeman. We invite the public to attend our meetings and participate in our field trips.

  14. Ida Lupine says:

    Native Americans may have killed wolves, but the difference is in the perception – you’d probably not find the hatred and misconception leveled at them by European-descended Americans. The Native Americans seemed to respect them, and have a respect for all life, and if they killed them it would have been for food, ceremonial purposes, or perhaps protection. It would have been nowhere near the scale of what European Americans did, nor would the intent to exterminate them as vermin have been there. Today, the wolves’ numbers are so low that it is ridiculous.

    • savebears says:


      Native Americans were known for killing them in very gruesome ways, you might want to look up the tool called the “Wolf Killer” It was a piece of whale baleen or dried sinew that had very sharp ends, it was twisted in a curled position, then embedded in blubber or meat for the wolves and fox to eat. Once it warmed and soften it sprung to puncture the gut so they would bleed to death, or die of infection. Does not sound like a respectful way to kill.

      • Mike says:

        The difference is of course they didn’t have a WalMart a mile down the road. Or a Dominoes Pizza.

        They needed the meat and the fur to survive.

        We don’t. Period.

        Hunting and trapping today is largely practiced out of habit or tradition, with little thought as to why. It’s people on auto pilot. And also, many of them are sociopaths.

        • savebears says:


          I don’t have a dominos pizza or a Walmart Just down the road, if fact both of those business’s are over 50 miles from my house, I live a lot closer to Canada, than I do Kalispell. Also, I have a freezer full of both Elk as well as Deer, I have no need for shitty pizza or low cost Chinese crap.

          As you well know, I don’t trap and don’t endorse trapping, I hunt to feed my family, and over 90% of our diet is wild meat and home grown and canned vegetables.

          But when it comes down to it, it is none of your business.

          Are you in Missoula yet, or still sitting in the cheap seats back in Shy Town?

          If you read the various articles published about the wolf killer, you will find many of them that state they killed them because they were competing for food with the Native Americans. All it takes is a bit of searching.

      • Leslie says:

        I wouldn’t lump all ‘native americans’ together. Different tribes had different views. Remember, several tribes called their scouts ‘wolves’.

        • Louise Kane says:

          no you are right Leslie, there were many many distinct cultures.

        • Ida Lupine says:

          This comes up a lot. I don’t know if you meant me personally, but I am well aware of the differences in Native culture. They may have killed wolves and held spiritual beliefs about them, but demonizing them was a European and Christianity phenomenon.

          I was only speaking about obvious differences in the way indigenous people here viewed wolves, as opposed to European immigrants. It is also pretty generally accepted, at least in the New England area, that the Native people helped them survive.

    • JEFF E says:


      Here is a listing of Native American tribes, bands, groups, loosely affiliated bands.

      Please provide a detailed, with cites , of how each of those entities viewed/interacted with wolves and why.

      • JEFF E says:

        detailed “synopsis”

      • Ida Lupine says:

        Why are you asking me? I’m sure you know how to use Google.

        • JEFF E says:

          mainly because it you that continues to make completly unsuportable statements. If you mske statements like that do you not think it reasonable to provide the supporting material?

          • Ida Lupine says:


            • savebears says:


              • Nancy says:

                SB – we are all capable of locating “supportable” information via the internet (unless you have friends in the know or a lot of time to be on the ground, so to speak) but as you know, I know and most who post here, know….often its information gathered by individuals to “support” a group or groups unwilling to look at situation from every viewpoint.

                Had a neighbor tell me recently that elk didn’t exist in the mountain regions of Montana until they were “re-introduced” back in the 40’s.

                Mis-information, too often quells the mis-informed mind.

              • savebears says:

                Awe Nancy……

              • JEFF E says:

                and this is exactly a large part of what Norm Bishop is speaking too.

                the haters have just about succeeded in creating a new subspecies, “the Canadian wolf”; as much as any one that does five minuets of research knows what a total load of horseshit that is, the fact is not that many will even do five minuets worth of research; witness Ida.

              • Robert R says:

                I really think it would do everyone good to watch the DVD (Back From The Brink Montana’s Wildlife Legacy).
                It may not change most of your opinions but it might educate some maybe?? Also it might do some good to look at Montana’s wildlife timeline.



            • JEFF E says:

              so you feel you can just throw out any horseshit that comes to mind because?

              • JEFF E says:

                so you feel you can just throw out any horseshit that comes to mind because?

              • Ida Lupine says:

                You got it. After insulting me, you’re lucky if you get the time of day from me.

                It’s an open forum? That’s one good reason. If you want more information, it’s a free country, so go look it up. I’m not discussing this further.

              • JEFF E says:

                with all due respect, how is asking you to back up your stance insulting?

                The fact that you will not or cannot is what is insulting….

              • JEFF E says:

                by the way what time is it in timbuktu?

              • Immer Treue says:


                Reminds me of a story about two poets, Who die on the same day and are met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who gives one of them a chance to return to life on Earth. Best poem incorporating the word Timbuktu wins.

              • JEFF E says:

                and why would one want to return to a life on earth?

              • Mark L says:

                Timbuktu is 8 hours ahead of mountain time, I think.
                I guess Ida got tired of JEFF E trying to give out homework assignments to everyone? (shrugs)
                …..don’t blame her.

              • Louise Kane says:

                no where to put an answer to why would someone want to return to this earth? My thoughts…
                to experience those rare moments of grace and beauty – for me seeing the Galapagos, hearing Paco de Lucia in Barecelona at a Flamenco opera performance, seeing wild horses in the mountains of Ecuador, being 100 miles offshore and waking up to see a definite line between the gulf stream and the atlantic, remembering my Dad when I am hiking through a lake and thinking about fishing with him with the wind howling around us and his weathered hands holding the fly rod, sitting on the prow of a boat, any boat, but listening to music while seeing dolphins or sea turtles swimming nearby, the passage between Tortola and St Thomas on a sailboat, seeing my GSD/Akita mix and his beautiful face. And lastly imagining a day when I can see wild wolves and other predators safe and respected.

            • Louise Kane says:

              Ida, don’t feel bad, everyone takes a good smack down here once in a while. It seems to come in waves. You are kind, passionate and take the time to be engaged. People forget that getting engaged is 90% of winning the battle.

              • JEFF E says:

                you wouldn’t. no surprise

              • JEFF E says:

                sorry. last to Mark L.
                might be the only one of three less knowledgeable than Ida about the subject matter at hand

              • Ida Lupine says:

                Thanks Louise – I try, but the wonderful things we discuss can be touchy subjects, and I don’t want to be provoked into an argument. This blog receives compliments all the time from posters here because we try to keep our discussions civil. I don’t mind taking a smackdown if it means we’re ultimately helping the environment and wildlife.

                Jeff, it was not my intention to offend. I’ll see what I can come up with for you. There’s plenty of info.

  15. Beckie Elgin says:

    This is an exhaustive study, and one I know many of us will rely on in our efforts to bring critical thinking to the wolf war dialogue.
    I had the great fortune to spend time with Norm Bishop in YNP a few months ago, along with folks from Wolves of the Rockies. Norm is a wealth of knowledge regarding wolves and the park in general, a tribute to all who endeavor to understand and respect the environment for what it is, not what we can make it into. Norm is a truly wise and broad-minded thinker, as well as a kind person. His stories and vast knowledge were an unforgettable part of my first YNP adventure.

  16. Mark L says:

    reread what I said (slowly if needed) and tell me how you reached the conclusion that I said natives didn’t hunt wolves (some obviously did). That they didn’t do it commonly is fairly apparent, or are you skewing your American history with a ‘westernized’ revisionist version?
    Tribes have had different habits right next to each other, right?…. just like states now.
    The default philosophy of not (or LIMITED if you wish) hunting of wolves by natives is fairly prevalent from the northeast, southeast, and Great Lakes. Read some early spanish explorers in the southeast as an example. It wasn’t a common practice.

    • Kirk Robinson says:

      No doubt native American sometimes hunted wolves – and bears and cougars. But I doubt if it was very common. After all, they had better things to do, like fishing for salmon and hunting buffalo, and gathering chokecherries, and fighting the wasichus. Also, many tribes, if not all, viewed the wolf as a brother.

      But what has all this to do with what the default position on wolf hunting should be?

  17. Mike J says:

    Best collection of evidence of what exactly? The only fact I attempted to verify was the amount spent by the USDA on predator control and that is sketchy. You would have to look at the individual projects the money was spent on to have any idea where it went. The inclusion of that tidbit reminded me of a FOX article; it was only included to inflame the base.
    Some say Bishop’s article was without bias.. Bias in writing isn’t always obvious. Follow the trail of papers used and not used to get a feel if there is bias.
    Has Bishop ever published anything? Anytime I review a paper, I look at other papers they have written, couldn’t find any by Norman A. Bishop in recent history or about anything that would fall anywhere “Naturalist” Not having published doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of writing a good paper, but arguing over a paper/blog/journal that has not been peer reviewed by a body of professionals from the appropriate field, is at best fon, but more likely a waste of time.
    btw I am an unpublished ecologist, bow hunt and don’t care one way or another if there are wolves. As long as they are managed.

    Those who got wound up about Mech’s paper. It was just a survey of literature, nothing ground breaking. If it doesn’t support your current line of thinking it don’t get upset. There are plenty of papers that say the opposite. Mech basically said “as with all natural systems, there are many confounding issues to be teased out so it’s too early to tell with the short period of time and the limited studies so far what and how far reaching the effects of wolves are.

  18. Nancy says:

    “As long as they are managed”

    Mike J – Ya know, I feel the exact same way about the human species with regard to the other species we share the planet with but, with the way things are going… that ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime 🙂

    • Louise Kane says:

      I could not even reply to that Nancy. Glad you did

    • Mike J says:

      I’m not sure if your issue is with managing a once natural species or in the method of management. Sadly, most animals that do not readily and successfully integrate into living in fairly close proximity with humans are on the decline. Habitat fragmentation is biggest issue and it’s
      only going to get worse.

  19. Susan says:

    Thanks for a great post Ralph!

  20. Louise Kane says:


    WM I happened to see this site while looking for something else. Werner Fruend’s image was in the post that I placed, written by Cathy Taibbi. You commented, among other things, that you liked the image of the man. Here are some more images and a story about him…

  21. WM says:


    Please don’t put words in my mouth…or for that matter any raw animal tissue (especially poultry) to be shared with canids. The more accurate assessmet of my comment is as follows, after noting the licking aspect of the Taibbi article photo. By the way, I know what my dog does with his mouth and tongue, so I refrain from “dog kisses.” This was my response to Peter Kiermeir, after I posted pretty much the very same ones you just posted above, Louise, regarding Werner-Freund:

    ++…Interesting guy. These pics are even better So, at age 79, what happens when the Alpha gets challenged at some point?++

    And for those who need the hint, this elderly gentleman is the Alpha of the wolves kept on his compound.

  22. Mareks Vilkins says:

    all the talk about trophic cascade effect is irrelevant as 10/100 or 15/150 (with buffer zone) threshold in 1996 was established before that ecosystem research

    however, what is relevant is that wolves were delisted before that obsolete political 10/100 threshold was updated in accordance with current scientific consensus

    and after delisting it is no surprise that politicians, wildlife managers, ranchers and anti-wolf mainstream hunter community will try to reduce wolf numbers as much as possible – and Dr Mech’s remark that it’s no threat to wolf population viability (as long as wolves are more than couple of hundreds in total) is not so much a responsible argument than reflects distorted decision-making process where special interests dominate

    obsolete 10/100 threshold leaves too much gray area for discretion and it guarantees that wolf issue will stay polarised in future – hunters will try to reduce wolf numbers as much as they can and wolf advocates will try to stop wolf killing rate through courts (and Savebeers will growl about waste of money / corrupt big NGO and how legal signposts are moved all the time only to irritate residents)

    • Louise Kane says:

      yes Mareks, Indeed.

    • WM says:


      I think it would be useful to understand that wolves in the NRM with expanding range will continue to number in excess of 1,000. Genetic connectivity among those in the GYE/Wyoming area might be a challenge, however.

      Sorry to get off topic, but have you heard anything about how the Siberian republics are doing in attaining their government sanctioned quota of wolves in the last couple weeks?

      • Mareks Vilkins says:


        Go and get the wolves, officials tell hunters

        04 February, 2013


      • Mareks Vilkins says:


        I’ve just scanned:

        Modeling Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Habitat in the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A.


        The resulting model was tested in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming and applied to Oregon to reveal approximately 68,500 km2 of potential
        wolf habitat that could support a population of approximately 1450 wolves

        so 1000 wolves in the 250 000 sq km NRM core recovery area doesn’t seem impressive number to me

        • WM says:


          You won’t find the words “hunt” or “hunting” of the prey base by humans ANYWHERE in the Ripple model. He and his co-author assume prey populations will be soley available to predators (how realistic is that?). He also does not formally acknowledge wolf-human tolerance/conflict, just things like road density, prey base and suitable habitat. He does not project out changes in human activities which affect any of this. Similiar modeling was done in adjacent WA state, with resulting high wolf density numbers. It is unrealistic, as most resource planners will tell you.

          The fact is, like it or not, hunting by humans, tolerance for wolves by livestock owners etc., does affect predator policy. These factors affect wolf populations WHEREVER they are in the world. Humans on the landscape doing what humans do. And, those are considerations some wolf advocates choose not to acknowledge or understand.

          The NRM DPS rule codified by Congress in the rider, suggests wolf population will be managed at about the 1,000 level. This sets up the discussion for “what is and what should/ought to be,” and a focus on constraints for what WILL BE in the future.

          • Mareks Vilkins says:


            yes, I’ve noticed that they omitted hunting but assumed that ungulates’ increased reproduction could compensate wolf effect

            and I remember that in Romania’s mountain region wolf depredation is 1.2 % (don’t know whether it applies to NRM with higher wolf density than 1000 wolves for the whole region)

          • JB says:


            Sometimes I think your perception of Ripple biases your interpretation of his research? If you look at hypotheses 2, you’ll find three indicators of “human presence”, including human density. There is no way that I know of to formalize “human-wildlife” conflict in this sort of modeling effort, but clearly accounting for human and road density is at least an acknowledgment of its importance.

            Also might be useful to recall that these sorts of models provide an upper-bound estimate: “…that could support a population of approximately 1450 wolves”. They don’t say that this should be Oregon’s goal, they simply say that this is what is possible given existing habitat.

            • Mark L says:

              JB says,
              “Sometimes I think your perception of Ripple biases your interpretation of his research?”

              Thought I noticed that too. Maybe bled off to Eisenberg also? (I dunno…)

              • WM says:


                Apples don’t fall far from the tree; Eisenberg is a Ripple student. Her bias has seemed to show up while she has been shilling for the High Lonesome Dude Ranch; how do we know it does not in her scientific work? I’ve seen Ripple’s (with co-author Beschta) show up too, specifically in an early trophic cascade paper on hydrology of Olympic Peninsula rivers.

                Shouldn’t someone point out the other side of some of these issues in a critical discussion, even if some of you don’t like it?

            • WM says:


              I have a very strong aversion to, or bias against, models and their authors who do not even acknowledge the limitations of their theoretical work. Some don’t even acknowledge that some of their base data on habitat, road density is as much as 5-10 years old when they use the data for their model (a problem for human avoidance/habitat connectivity, etc.). They don’t even acknowledge it in their accompanying text that what is represented is a time-frozen depiction of what a landscape might accomodate. How much habitat has been consumed in 10 years past; how much will be consumed twenty years in the future under current land use plans or lack thereof. Then they publish an upper bound (MAXIMUM theoretical?) on a landscape instantaneously, to say how many wolves the landscape can accomodate (back to my comment about no reference whatsoever to how many of the prey base hunting may CURRENTLY account for – not a word!).

              Of course, what do the most strident of wolf advocates jump on as a goal? You see it here all the time. Planning for accomodation of a resource competing in the human occupied world requires that all factors be looked at. In the case of OR or WA the modelers didn’t do any of that. The wolf planners in the WA plan were completely silentabout those limitations when they popped their upper limit model number in the press, to justify the high numbers in their plan before state delisting. I find that intellectually dishonest.

              • Kirk Robinson says:

                There will always be uncertainty in any scientific model, no matter how sophisticated. Always. Hence, one can always complain that we don’t know enough to act. This is what is happening in the global climate disruption debate, and it is jeopardizing our ability to respond effectively to what may be an issue of unprecedented urgency.

                If people would just accept the default position that wolves and other large carnivores should not be subjected to hunting or trapping unless there is a specific demonstrable need for it in a specific area or region, maybe with respect to a specific animal, then the uncertainty issue becomes moot.

                I would like to hear or read a single GOOD argument against the default position I recommend, not a lot of poking around in the weeds.

              • JB says:

                I’m wondering if we read the same paper? Here’s what they say on wolf-human conflicts:

                “Conflicts typically occur, however, when they occupy areas close to humans. The majority of wolf mortality is human-caused whether accidental, intentional or indirectly through disease (Mech and Goyal 1993, Mladenoff et al. 1995). Predicting favorable wolf habitat thus becomes a process of locating areas that contain sufficient prey and provide security from humans to lessen conflict (Mladenoff et al. 1995).”

                As to what needs to be acknowledged, much of this is determined by the reviewers and editors, who typically push authors to be as concise as possible.

                Note: The paper you recently praised (Mech’s “sanctifying” the wolf, piece), makes absolutely no acknowledgement of its own shortcomings, nor does it even cite a reference for the methodology employed. Yet he draws wide-spread conclusions about how wolves are being santctified by scientists and the media.

              • savebears says:


                You can’t be serious? If people would just accept? Hunting was part of the plan since the first proposals of wolf re-introduction were floated.

              • Louise Kane says:

                WM you wrote, “I have a very strong aversion to, or bias against, models and their authors who do not even acknowledge the limitations of their theoretical work. Some don’t even acknowledge that some of their base data on habitat, road density is as much as 5-10 years old when they use the data for their model…..but yet I have seen you defend the wolf hunts using a 17 year old wolf recovery plan with its pathetically low and obviously politicized recovery goals. Its all legal, I have heard you claim in the past. intellectual dishonesty?

              • WM says:


                ++ [Mech}….makes absolutely no acknowledgement of its own shortcomings, nor does it even cite a reference for the methodology employed.++

                Maybe not in the body of his paper, but he did address the matter in his comment to you on our discussion back in September. He raises a very good point to counter your criticism of lack of “methodology.” He focuses on circulation/exposure or how people are actually reading/seeing the +/- commentary about wolves, not the number of articles Here is the dialog in full, rather than my paraphrasing of your respective positions (apologies to all for the length):

                1. Dave Mech says:
                September 5, 2012 at 11:03 am
                I realize that this response to Dr. Bruskotter’s critique of my article “Is Science in Danger of Sanctifying the Wolf?” will be buried among the many comments. However, for the record I just want to say that I do agree that Houston et al. (2010) seem to document that negative comments about wolves outweigh positive comments.
                However, the Houston et al. (2010) study is based on analyzing 4,559 newspapers, and 2,878 news wires over 10 years. This great many outlets must have included a preponderance of local, small-town newspapers with small circulations. The real question is how to weigh the impact of such outlets against the impact of the positive articles appearing in the New York Times with a Sunday circulation of 1,356,800 and the National Geographic (circulation 4,232,205), as well as of the various TV documentaries with an unknown viewership. I will leave that up to readers to decide.
                2. Jeremy Bruskotter says:
                September 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm
                Dr. Mech,
                Thank you for taking the time to reply. Note: I placed a link to your response in the body of the main story. Hopefully this prevents it from getting buried among the many comments here. As I wrote (above), I very much enjoyed your article and appreciated the warning–i.e., don’t make too much of unfinished science.
                In response to your comment, I would note that Houston et al. separated stories from large, national newspapers and wires from the small town papers in order to look for just the sort of bias you mention. Results indicate that large, national newspapers and wires exhibited the same number of negative expressions per story (3.61) as media outlets from states with permanent wolf populations (3.49) and states in recovery zones that lacked wolf populations (3.52), but fewer than states with new populations (4.27). Interestingly, and counter my expectations, national newspapers and wires had the fewest positive expressions per article (1.22), followed by newspapers from states with permanent populations (1.37), states in recovery zones that lacked populations (1.48), states with “new” wolf populations (1.54) and states without wolves (1.59).
                Again, your point about the inconclusive nature of the alleged effects of wolves is well made, and I agree that scientists are obligated to place our research within the appropriate bounds of uncertainty. However, I believe the data show pretty clearly that the news media is in no danger of sanctifying the wolf.

                The tables from Houston et al. are available here: https://www.thewildlifenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Houston-et-al-2010-Tables-Figures.pdf

                1. Dave Mech says:
                September 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm
                What my article actually said is that “The media becomes complicit [in promoting positive studies about wolves] by immediately publicizing such studies (Table 1) . . ..” and “Seldom, however do studies contradicting the sensational early results receive similar publicity.” Houston et al. (2010) do not address these statements, nor do your comments refute them.
                • Jeremy Bruskotter says:
                September 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm
                But you’ve left out the last sentence in the paragraph:
                “The media become complicit by immediately publicizing such studies (Table 1) because of the controversial nature of the wolf. And all this publicity reverberates on the internet. Seldom, however, do studies contradicting the sensational early results receive similar publicity. The public is then left with a new image of the wolf that may be just as erroneous of the animal’s public image a century ago” (emphasis mine).
                This sentence is probably most important because it gets at the net effect of the alleged problem–the picture painted by the news media overly emphasizes wolves’ positive ecological effects. Yet, if the news media were complicit in sanctifying the wolf by disproportionately publishing stories about wolves’ ecological benefits, then we should expect claims of wolves’ ecological benefits to be more numerous than claims of their ecological costs–Houston et al. (2010) shows that they are not. The media’s overall portrayal may indeed paint an erroneous picture of wolves’ ecological effects–by focusing too much attention on them (risk sells, after all); however, the best data indicate that the picture of wolves being painted by the news media is still more negative than positive.

              • WM says:


                ++…but yet I have seen you defend the wolf hunts using a 17 year old wolf recovery plan with its pathetically low and obviously politicized recovery goals. Its all legal, I have heard you claim in the past. intellectual dishonesty?++

                It seems to me the current justification per USFWS was in their draft and final delisting rules for the NRM. Some of the same stuff is in the delisting rule for the WGL. You just don’t like the answers,…. and it would seem YOU disagree with their conclusion regarding species conservation per federal statute. Your positiont is, “we want wolves everywhere at maximum density and never hunted [also consistent with Kirk’s desired “reset” default postion, which would curtail hunting of wolf prey species and wolves].”

              • JB says:

                “He focuses on circulation/exposure or how people are actually reading/seeing the +/- commentary about wolves, not the number of articles…”

                Yet he does not employ a systematic approach, he merely found 11 sources that agree with his conclusion. His article does not discuss sampling methodology, coding, etc.–you know the system of rules we follow to make an approach “scientific”.

                (Houston et al. did not focus on the number of articles, but the number of paragraphs within an article. We coded nearly 30,000.)

    • Ida Lupine says:


    • JB says:

      “all the talk about trophic cascade effect is irrelevant as 10/100 or 15/150 (with buffer zone) threshold in 1996 was established before that ecosystem research

      however, what is relevant is that wolves were delisted before that obsolete political 10/100 threshold was updated in accordance with current scientific consensus”


      I don’t think there is any scientific consensus regarding wolves and trophic cascades. I’ve spoken with several carnivore ecologists about this topic, and found a great degree of variability in their views regarding the extent to which wolves have a “top-down” influence on their prey (let alone their influence on vegetation).

      Even if there were consensuses on wolves impact on ungulates, it would not be relevant to delisting criteria. By statute, these criteria are set bring a listed species to the point of recovery–i.e., the point at which it no longer meets the definition of “threatened” or “endangered” under the ESA. Whether said species is capable of causing a “trophic cascade” (i.e., having ecosystem level effects on its environment) is another question altogether and one not contemplated by the statute.

      • Mareks Vilkins says:


        1)wolves were delisted in a sneaky way and it implicitly shows that the case wasn’t so straightforward to get majority vote in usual way

        2)”The Northern Rocky Mountain
        Gray Wolf Is Not Yet Recovered” by BRADLEY J. BERGSTROM et al. compared wolf’s delisting with other 9 delisted species and they convinced me that wolf’s case was different

        3) in my opinion wolf advocates should not emphasise trophic cascade argument (because politicians don’t care about all that and scientists are still arguing between themselves) but stress all the rest of arguments pointed out by BB et al.

        • WM says:


          You might be interested to know, if my recollection is correct, there is not one wolf scientist as co-author in the Bergstrom, et al., paper. It was also written as an opinion piece, if I recall. And, by the way, there seems to be some consensus that “wolves are different,” especially in their adaptability and rate of reproduction as compared to the other species noted.

          • Mareks Vilkins says:


            to cite from N.Bishop’s article:

            1) “Overall, wolves decrease hunter applications by 19.9% of the standard deviation in the southwest and 2.9% of the standard deviation in the west central region. This corresponds to 286 fewer applications in the southwest, but only 6 fewer in west central Montana… Using the current data available wolves are not having a significant effect on elk harvest in Montana”

            2) “Is wolf hunting necessary? Cariappa et al (2011) analyzed data collected at 32 sites across North America using linear and nonlinear regression and found that the evidence supported wolf population regulation by density-dependence as much as limitation by prey availability. The data suggested that wolf populations are self regulated rather than limited by prey biomass by at least a 3:1 margin. They wrote: “In establishing goals for sustainable wolf population levels, managers of wolf reintroductions and species recovery efforts should account for the possibility that some regulatory mechanism plays an important role in wolf population dynamics.” What if we simply allowed wolves to regulate their own numbers, as they have in Yellowstone, going from 174 wolves in 2003 to about 80 in 2012?”

            3) wolf biologists or not, but Bergstrom et al. are providing good arguments to justify wolf harvest reduction

          • Mareks Vilkins says:


            Bergstrom et al. evaluated NRM wolf population’s viability within current wolf hunting’s context – and they weren’t too optimistic / sanguine about wolves’ “adaptability and rate of reproduction”

            • WM says:


              If you read the Bergrstom et al., paper you know they made a political statement, as much as a “biologically based” one. We talked about its substance on this forum at some length when it came out.

              By the way, the Cariappa paper on “self-regulation” of density was a statistical revisit of diverse data sets from 1945-94. There is no Yellowstone data in there (because there were no wolves). It includes 32 wolf densities from Canada/AK and MN/MI, (WD/1000km2) plotted against an index that quantifies prey density. By my count at least 9 of those 32 are time series from the on-going study at Isle Royale, the very tiny island closed ecosystem. I don’t know how representative that is, and the authors really didn’t address the qulaity of the data other than throw out a couple outlier points that made their non-linear regression lines look better.

              The importance of that study is, as the authors suggest, quantitatively needing to do more to see how these relationships hold up at higher wolf density levels, because there is evidence it is not linear. By the way, one of the original authors of the linear relationship was Dr. Mech. And, if you have had an opportunity to look at the Cariappa et al paper, the regression lines are pretty close together until they get to some pretty high densities, where the lines start to reflect density saturation austensibly for reasons other than prey density.

              Here is the link to the Cariappa paper, and within it is the reference to the Fuller/Mech/Cochrane paper from which the data was extracted.

              Cariappa, C. A., John K. Oakleaf, Warren B. Ballard, and Stewart W. Breck. 2011. A Reappraisal of the Evidence for Regulation of Wolf Populations. The Journal of Wildlife Management 75(3):726–730; DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.74

              Wolves in the NRM will never be allowed to achieve high enough densities to test these theories, because they would just take too many elk, period.

              By the way, doing the math 1000km2 is the same as a square 19.6 miles x 19.6 miles (the upper limits of wolf densities recorded in the studies was highest at Isle Royale as against only a moose population).

              I think there is alot of room for questioning the self-regulation phenomenon involving different prey bases/densities and topography. Mr. Bishop does not address this; he only calls attention to a good question Cariappa et al raise in their relook at the old data.

  23. Mark L says:

    Funny Louise, I see what you did there.

  24. Kirk Robinson says:

    SaveBears: Of course I’m serious. I’m talking about what should be, not what is.

    • savebears says:


      Then honestly you have an unrealistic view of what should be, this has been a mess from the beginning, You are not going to stop the hunting, short of them ending back on the ESL, which I suspect would create even more problems. Currently the states are maintaining over the minimums required by USFWS. To add, I am not a wolf hunter, but I do work in the field quite a bit and see what is going on.

      • Elk275 says:


        It appears that you live in Wolf Hunting District 110 with a quota of 3 wolves. Only 2 wolves have been killed. Why? Every other district has killed many wolves.

        • savebears says:


          I was under the belief that 110 had a quota of 2, which is what was stated in this article in the Flathead Beacon, dated Nov.26, 2012

          I have not really paid much attention to it, I can do some more digging to see what is going on.

        • Louise Kane says:

          maybe they killed the only 2

      • Kirk Robinson says:

        SaveBears: Certainly it is an unrealistic view if I should happen to expect it to happen any time soon. I don’t when the change will come. It may never come. But change does happen, and sometimes its quite dramatic. And in very case of large-scale social change I am familiar with – civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, etc. – there were always people in the forefront. That’s where I’d like to be on this issue. Meanwhile, I’m a pragmatist.

        What interests me is that it is still true that no one on this thread cares to rebut me on my idealistic claim on this subject, which suggests strongly that you all know I’m right.

        • savebears says:

          There you go with assumption Kirk.

          • Kirk Robinson says:

            SaveBears: You are getting desperate. My words were “strongly suggests.” If you think that is an unwarranted assumption, please say why. And the best way of doing that would be to rebut the argument.

            • savebears says:


              I am not desperate at all. Your argument has been rebutted many times on this blog over the last few years.

              We are having the same conversations we have had for many years now.

              • Kirk Robinson says:

                Okay, I get it: You’ve got nothing.

                Just so you don’t forget, the claim I argued for in my first post on this thread is that there is no adequate justification for general, indiscriminate wolf hunts. For our purposes let’s limit our concern to wolves in the northern Rockies.

                You can’t beat me on this. I know it and you know it – or at least you should by now.

                Have a good day.

              • WM says:


                You stated: ++the claim I argued for in my first post on this thread is that there is no adequate justification for general, indiscriminate wolf hunts.++

                I disagree. The default, in this instance, is the agreed minimum obligation of ID, MT and WY under the reintroduction of wolves to the NRM, as “a non-essential experimental population,” pursuant to an EIS process on the plan, negotiated agreements/plan/state laws implementing the plan, and finally federal regulations leading to delisting of these wolves.

                You may argue a biological basis for the plan is “inadequate” under the law (ESA), but then that was trumped by the Congressional rider (federal law codifying the regulation of FWS for the ID, MT portion of the DPS).

                So, I’d say the indiscriminate wolf hunts at least have a basis of legitamacy/justification in state law, as implemented under duly adopted wildlife regulations allowing for such.

                Could they have done or be doing a better job? Absolutely, but I think you lose the argument as you frame it.

                Maybe you should have said “no BIOLOGICAL justification for indiscriminate wolf hunts.” That would be a more focused discussion, though the in power wildlife agencies, making the rules still get final say (unless a court sees otherwise – going back to the law as a touchstone).

                • Kirk Robinson says:

                  WM: No, I don’t agree. What is currently happening is legal and no one disputes that. I maintain that not only is there no biological justification for it, but that there is no ethical justification for it. Somehow the serious question of ethics just gets sidelined in these discussions.

              • savebears says:

                Okay, I am heading out the door, but Kirk, you are bring ethics into this, which is a moral choice and is based on a personal belief, what you think it ethical, is different than what I think it ethical, which is different that what others think is ethical.

                Ethics is a non-definable term, because it is a personal moral judgement.

                • Kirk Robinson says:

                  Sorry SaveBears, I don’t agree with that either. What is morally right and wrong may be a matter of opinion in the sense that opinions often differ – they certainly do – but I reject the idea that there is never any truth of the matter, i.e., the conclusion that it is never the case that any action is ethically wrong. That would reduce ethics to the status of mere etiquette. I maintain that killing an animal such as the wolf, which is undeniably a highly evolved sentient being with emotions and intelligence is morally wrong. The opposite opinion, that it isn’t, it the opinion that you must carry if you want to maintain that killing them for fun is morally acceptable. Clearly you and all like-thinkers have the burden of proof.

              • savebears says:

                Kirk as a working wildlife biologist, for over 20 years now, I don’t agree with you, as I don’t agree with the Catholic church, or the Muslims or the pentecostal. There is no basis in reality for this.

              • savebears says:

                Before I go any further with this, Kirk, please provide your qualifications, so that I know we are debating on an equal ground here?

              • JB says:


                With due respect, I think maybe you’re missing Kirk’s point. Hunters and wildlife professionals work under the assumption that hunting wolves is ethical (morally defensible). Thus, the burden of proof is on wildlife advocates to prove that it isn’t. However, we might just as easily start with the assumption (Kirk’s assumption) that hunting sentient beings is generally unethical, therefore placing the burden of proof on hunters and agencies to prove that it is. Indeed, as I pointed out earlier in this threat, it is the position of the wildlife society that “wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate purpose”. This position suggests that the professional society that certifies wildlife biologists believe that the onus should be on people to prove that a hunt has a legitimate purpose.

                So let’s simplify the question: What is the legitimate purpose in hunting wolves?

              • savebears says:



            • WM says:


              ++However, we might just as easily start with the assumption (Kirk’s assumption) that hunting sentient beings is generally unethical, therefore placing the burden of proof on hunters and agencies to prove that it is not.++

              I guess that wasn’t considered in the EIS (another deficiency – a morality aspect- unthought of by anyone, thanks, JB). Because the assumption in the reintroduction was that wolves (sentient being or not) would in fact at some point in the future be hunted or controlled by wildlife agencies if preying on livestock or impacting ungulate populations.

              So, now those states have wolves (which mostly didn’t want them in the first place) and the moral or ethical card gets played.

              A strong argument can be made to say it is a material change in the rules of the game to “just as easily start” with Kirk’s morality assumption.

              • JEFF E says:

                “So, now those states have wolves (which mostly didn’t want them in the first place) and the moral or ethical card gets played.”

                so i have to say that most(all?) public polls that asked this question,in the 70’s-80’s, indicated that the “”public””(you know, the boss) supported the reintroduction of wolves.

                So…who is really running states govt.? the public? (the boss) or special interest groups that have lot’s of money? Mainly livestock *****uckers.

                Clem, Simpson’s, Craig,Reich, Labradoodle, and all you other sob’s that monitor this blog, please go look in the mirror while you answer that question.

              • JB says:


                I don’t want to speak for Kirk, but I didn’t get the impression that his comments had anything to do with the ESA. Indeed, I think we can all agree that the ESA does not (nor ever was intended) to contemplate the morality of killing animals. Still, it is legitimate to ask why the burden of proof should be on wildlife advocates and not the other way around? After all the taking of a sentient animal’s life is involved, right? And I see no one yet has “bit” on coming up with a “legitimate” reason to hunt wolves…not even the champions of the NA model. Hmm…

                • Kirk Robinson says:

                  I like that JB!

                  Been out on the snowy trails of the foothills above Salt Lake with two big dogs, and saw a large male moose within a quarter mile of the nearest subdivision. Luckily I spotted him before the dogs did and got them on leash. …which leads me to ask, aside from the law against it, would it matter morally if I just decided one day I’d had enough of the dogs and shot them? As painlessly as possible, of course. They are “my” dogs after all. I think that would be wrong. I can think of circumstances where killing them might be permitted, but not just because I become tired of caring for them or decide to have fun with target practice. Maybe some people think that would be perfectly fine, but then we are worlds apart in our thinking and our sentiments. And so long as that is my view, I see no justification for not extending it to wild wolves that are just doing their thing and not hurting anyone.

                  Incidentally, while I don’t hunt (I have a bit), that is mostly a matter of accident rather than ideology. I am not opposed to hunting animals for the right reasons and in the right ways.

              • WM says:


                Maybe I didn’t make my point clear. EIS’s are required to look at impacts of the proposed federal action. Wolves get reintroduced in the NRM => impacts, some good and some bad. Those who believe having too many is bad would tend to reduce their number. OK, we are good so far in the EIS. Nobody anywhere in that document raised the issue of whether wolves being sentient, would prevent management of their numbers. Looks to me to be a pretty obvious (in hindsight anyway) issue, IF IT WERE TO PREVENT CONTROL OF NUMBERS because of some morality argument that Kirk or others make.

                As you know, I have been very critical of the EIS, including burying the justification for the 100/10 per state deep in an Appendix to the document, and a whole bunch of other stuff, while talking about all the fluff in the body of the report.

                By the way, you won’t get me to “take the bait” with a legitimacy argument under the NA model with the crowd that posts here. It is a tarbaby. Then out come all the one liner snide comments about elk farming, high mark peeing on state wildlife agencies, and all that, which stifles the discussion, from the usual suspects.

              • JB says:

                Again, we’re talking about a document that was written 20 years (a generation) ago. I don’t think there was much talk about ethical treatment of wildlife then. I think it’s kind of ridiculous to be hyper critical of a 20 year old document for not predicting everything that occurred in an inherently complex system. Who would’ve thought wolves would do so well in the NRMs while a similar reintroduction of Mexican wolves is failing completely? Perhaps we should critical of the Mexican wolf reintroduction for not contemplating complete and utter failure? Or for not contemplating strident resistance from states and local ranchers? The guys that write these things are biologists; they’re not omniscient.

                Re: the Bait-
                What’s it say about the NAM that not a single person can offer up a legitimate reason to hunt wolves?

              • WM says:


                The federal government had been writing and reviewing EIS’s (under its own regulations/guidelines) for 24 years prior to this one being written. Long ago I stopped counting how many EIS’s in which I have been involved either as a writer, reviewer or interested party. I know a bad work product when I see it; this was definitely bad work.

                And, by the way, it doesn’t take much effort to figure out what the substantive and political differences are between the NRM and Mexican wolf leading reintroductions with decidedly different levels of success. A couple more factors at the start would be the initial number of wolves put on the ground by the feds, plus the fact that one set had its start in the largest national park in the country with more elk than they knew what to do with, because of the huge fires of 1988. 😉

              • WM says:


                ++which leads me to ask, aside from the law against it, would it matter morally if I just decided one day I’d had enough of the dogs and shot them? ++

                Another slightly different take on your query. How about if they were not your dogs (wild or somebody else’s running in a pack), but they did kill your dogs, maybe raided the sheep pen, went wild and killed a hundred Thanksgiving turkeys (wihtout eating them all), ran your horses/cows into a barbed wire fence, or affected your ability to maybe even see that moose, or an elk on the trail?

                Any different views on taking the lives of a sentient being?

                Then there is the part where thousands of dogs and cats are abandoned every year, wind up in an animal shelter and are euthanized – sentient beings and all. Just done out of sight.

                • Kirk Robinson says:

                  WM: You seem to have forgotten that my argument was against widespread indiscriminate hunting of wolves. I explicitly admitted that there might be instances where a more focused “hunt” would be morally acceptable.

                  On the other hand, if widespread indiscriminate hunting of wolves is morally acceptable, then I don’t see why killing your own dog wouldn’t be also.

              • WM says:


                Believe me, I get the part about focused hunting. You and I are probably not that far apart in the focused vs. indiscriminate debate.

                The problem, as viewed by states, however, is one of shear numbers and where the prey bases and thus the wolves would be inclined to occupy the landscape – including potential for expansion (If some are removed in one location, will those in adjacent areas move in to fill the void and result in some kind of equilibrium for some wolf social reason or because it is easier to get a meal?).

                I bet I could with relatively reliable probability predict where the wolf population expansions will occur in WA. And, it will be where most of the elk hunters don’t want them. The research shows, it seems the preference of wolves is for elk over deer given the choice (and packs get larger for this purpose too). WA is not yet to the point of needing to control numbers of wolves (only those that get in trouble). But the day will come, within 5 years , I suspect.

                Back to the NRM. So, if a state’s objective is to control wolf numbers and it involves indiscriminate hunting of wolves, for what state wildlife agencies under authority of publicly appointed Commissions and their duly adopted proclamations (thought I would throw that in because you guys in UT use that word instead of regulations), is that immoral behavior on their part IF THEY believe they are doing it for a legitimate purpose?

                {Ooops, I am teetering very closely to the NAM justification issue I had hoped to avoid. JB you monitoring this?}

                • Kirk Robinson says:

                  WM: I’m going to be heading to southern NV for warmth and sun soon, so this will have to be my last post. I’ll make it brief by focusing on just one part of your complex question and by asking this rhetorical question: When the misguided religious fanatics killed alleged witches in Salem, MA, for allegedly being possessed by devils, was what they did immoral? (I’m not asking whether the perpetrators were immoral, which is a different question.)

              • WM says:


                Have a good time. I could use some sun and warmth as well.

                Leaving you with one last thought. Remember the Salem witch trials were in the late 1600’s, before we had a central federal government (with which there is a formal association with states and the ESA is one of those laws contemplating roles for both governments). The prosecuting body for the witch trials was the colonial city of Salem, with urging of the clergy which controlled things in those times.

                And, a quick historical footnote: there is an explanation for the bizarre behavior of those accused as witches- a scienteific explanation is that they had consumed bread or other foodstuffs containing wheat rust (LSD), from grains grown in the damp/dank lowlands. Think I read that in Scientific American or Nat Geo years ago, if I recall.

              • JB says:

                “So, if a state’s objective is to control wolf numbers and it involves indiscriminate hunting of wolves… is that immoral behavior on their part IF THEY believe they are doing it for a legitimate purpose?”

                And we come to the crux of the issue, which leads us back to where we started (i.e., the “real” information on wolves). Actually, since everyone is posing questions, I’ll add one more: What role should science play in the wildlife policy-making process?

                Many of the elk hunters who post on this board have subjectively noted a correlation between the presence of wolves in their area and elk populations; yet the science (reviewed above) offers several alternative explanations for declining elk populations (e.g. other predators, rainfall, forage condition, climate) that by no means have been ruled out with wolves. And ironically enough, the paper you champion (Mech’s sanctificaiton paper) really amounts to an argument AGAINST pervasive top-down effects of wolves on ecosystems (including elk). So to continue the Salem analogy: the community can be forgiven as they were being misguided by their leaders and decision-makers. Yet, the policy makers in the NRMs have strong data suggesting wolves are NOT having a pervasive influence on elk–that in fact, this is due to many other factors. Unlike those involved in Salem, if they chose to persecute wolves, they do so with good science suggesting their persecution serves no legitimate purpose.

              • Barb Rupers says:

                A agree with Jeff E. I thought the early polls showed the majority of respondents in Idaho, at least, wanted wolves.

        • Louise Kane says:

          there were always people in the forefront. That’s where I’d like to be on this issue. Meanwhile, I’m a pragmatist.
          +1 and well said

    • Louise Kane says:

      yes Kirk, lots of us are serious. Many many don’t want wolves hunted. More importantly there is no justifiable reason to either, save when someone’s life is threatened or for isolated incidents and thats not what we are talking about here. The Living with Wolves documentary should be shown to all school children living in the west, as they are advancing through school and then we might see some changes. The biggest threat to wolves is ignorance and hate. Its really well past time to change that. If its being perpetuated by bad policy then we need good laws.

      • Louise Kane says:

        perpetuated by bad policy and handed down to newer generations….

        • savebears says:


          The policies that got them reintroduced is now considered bad policy? Where were you when this all got started?

          • Louise Kane says:

            totally off point SB but you said we met. Do I dare ask, where?

          • JB says:

            SB, Louise:

            You two are confusing the issues here. Whether wolves should be listed under the ESA is a wholly separate policy question (a question of extinction risk) from whether or not they should be hunted (an ethical question). The ethical question has nothing to do with the ESA.

            Regardless, I think enough time has passed that we can legitimately question the assumptions that underlie the policy decisions made at the time of wolves listing—originally under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967 some 46 years ago. Even the EIS, which sets up most of the recovery objectives is now almost 19 years old. That means there are adult (i.e., voting) US residents that weren’t even born at the time these policy decisions were made. Are they supposed to bow their head to the decisions of prior generations because of some illusive “deal” that was struck 20 years ago? Is that the argument you guys are making?

            • Louise Kane says:

              No I understand two separate issues, frustration taking over. The ESA in my mind was abrogated against public consent when it allowed the taking for wolves in the first place, especially to appease economic concerns. The deal that was struck 20 years ago was done poorly in my opinion. The two conservation groups invited to attend the party both did not agree with the proposed recovery plan. I was arguing with WM along the same lines that you are here “Regardless, I think enough time has passed that we can legitimately question the assumptions that underlie the policy decisions made at the time of wolves listing—originally under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967 some 46 years ago.” Bingo…

            • JEFF E says:

              the constitution is over 200yr old.
              Does that invalidate it?

              • JB says:


                Of course not, but it does suggest that an update here and there may be in order (kinda like my kitchen). It’s also important that the Constitution sought to spell out inalienable “rights” of people–presumably these should transcend time. An EIS, as WM points out, seeks merely to make predictions about the impacts of a proposed action; while the ESA was written to be a means of responding to environmental degradation and species extinction using scientific inquiry. As environmental conditions, technology and science changes, it’s important to revisit these laws from time to time. (You wouldn’t argue that traffic laws from the 1920s should still be the law today just because they were law in the 1920s, right?)

              • JEFF E says:

                just pointing out that the “age” of something is probably not the correct venue to make a validity argument. Many things like wine and myself are much better aged, and many opinions, i.e. an”EIS”, are proven out over time rather than in the immediate. What might be “dated” for wolves may just be reaching maturity in an another instance. I guess I am just getting overly tired about blanket statements such as sunny Jon and $3 are continuously making.

      • savebears says:

        “many of us, don’t want wolves hunted” At this point in time Louise, it does not matter if they are listed or not, they are going to be hunted. I am not advocating for any action at all, I am just telling you the reality of the situation. I reported what I believed to be illegal activity just last week and nothing was done.

        • Louise Kane says:

          if they were re-listed they would not be hunted by the general public…They do need to be re-listed to keep the crazy single minded determined people like Big Game Forever from pushing for and getting more and more bad wolf killing policy. usually under the guise of conservationists. Its never enough. Entire organizations devoted to killing predators/wolves is wrong, its perverted.

          This today from the worthless perverted, twisted Big Game Forever. Their BS makes me sick.


          As you are aware, Big Game Forever has been working with several groups in Montana to remedy premature wolf hunting closures in the hard-hit Northern Yellowstone Herd. BGF and three co-plaintiffs filed a lawsuit earlier this year and were successful in reopening the wolf hunt in the area. We are pleased to announce that today, Montana Governor Bullock signed HB 73, which will prevent premature closures and the creation of harvest buffer zones around national park areas in Montana. More importantly HB 73 provides greater flexibility and fewer restriction in wolf harvest. This is a great step forward for recovery of moose, elk and deer in the great state of Montana. Below is a joint letter from Big Game Forever, Montana SFW, Montana Guides and Outfitters and Citizens for Balanced use on the signing of HB 73 by Montana Governor Bullock.

          Thank you for your phone calls and emails to Montana FWP Commission and the Montana Governor’s office. Your grass-roots support was vital for the passage of HB 73. We remain committed to recovery of moose, elk, deer and other impacted wildlife in Montana and across America.

          Thank you for your continued commitment to common-sense wildlife conservation.

          Ryan Benson

          • Louise Kane says:

            I’d like to see the numbers of calls for and against this shitty law. I bet more people were against it, Montana just gives the finger to anyone wanting wolves to have a fair shot.

            • jon says:

              Hunters and ranchers supported it as one would expect. Big game forever is an anti-predator organization whose only concern is making sure there are a lot of moose, deer, and elk out there for hunters to shoot.

              • Craig says:

                Tell us more jon! It’s amazing your knowledge of Western wildlife. You have to be the most ignorant person I’ver had the misfortune to come across in a blog! Your insight is equivalent to that of a mentally challenged person! have you ever thought about…..never mind

              • Ken Cole says:

                Craig, are you going to add anything to this conversation or just be a troll who tries to get people to fight? That’s about all you have done in the last few days.


        • Jerry Black says:

          SB….did you address that illegal activity in writing, email??

  25. Nancy says:

    Elk – were you able to attend the Bishop talk last night?

    • Elk275 says:

      Yes I did. I have to go to Big Sky in 5 minutes. It is always nice to see the mountain sheep and then tonight I am going to see my favorite lady author Pam Houston. I am a little busy to write but I will try.

  26. savebears says:

    Anyway, I have work to do. Talk to you all later.

  27. Louise Kane says:


    This is pretty sick. Wildlife education and environmental center to turn into hunter, trapper recruitment center for kids! Wisconsin DNR will stop at nothing. Posted at Paul Collin’s site also

    • Nancy says:

      “It ought to be biologists managing wolves, not politicians,” Bullock said. “This bill allows us to use science based management.”

      Yep, sure sounds like biologists are going to “managing” wolves:

      “The bill allows hunters to purchase more than one wolf permit and allows for the use of electronic calls *; it also reduces the price of a non- resident wolf license from $350 to $50”

      • Immer Treue says:


      • Mark L says:

        Use of electronic calls seems to me somewhat immoral. If I put out a cry for help…or just to say hello, and another human responds (assumably what we do as humans) then is offed/killed for responding, isn’t this the same thing?
        Isn’t the same electronic calling illegal for most migratory birds? Why?

        • rork says:

          Most hunter probably just think it’s an unfair advantage. Some idea about level playing field. It’s illegal for turkeys and deer most places too. Using electronic tricks is generally suspect – it could escalate to who knows what. Remote sensors all around the back 80? I tend to agree, and leave the infrared detecting drone that reports the deer motions to me at home most times.

          However: I must say that people’s opinion of what is “sporting”, can seem a bit like fashion of the times. If I sit quietly in a tree, that’s cowardly “ambush” according to some, but if I silently sneak up on the quarry using every available hiding place to avoid detection, that’s OK. Folks used to think pushing white-tail with dogs was cool, perhaps cause of intricacy or team work required, or antiquity of the practice by nobles, or cause it worked. We don’t think it’s OK anymore, but I’m not sure how it got to be that way, perhaps it would be annoying if others did it near my spot.

  28. Ida Lupine says:

    It ought to be biologists managing wolves, not politicians,” Bullock said. “This bill allows us to use science based management

    I had to laugh out loud when I read this. Manage in what way?

    These people are so obsessed with killing wolves that they can’t even think rationally – it isn’t going to affect wolves whether or not hunters wear blaze orange, or use silencers. But it will affect human safety. Oh well. A bear’s sense of smell will lead them to carrion, not hearing.

    • rork says:

      Not sure. If biologists, epidemiologists in particular, could identify and reduce the number of problem politicians by targeted management, human/politician conflicts might be decreased. Wolf issues might be less of a problem then.

  29. Ida Lupine says:

    The ‘Cold Wars’ PBS special on wolves and bison was beautiful. Boy, the Canadian tar sands project sure looked like the forges of hell with fire shooting out of the flare stacks. What a mess.

    Kirk, I agree – indiscriminate killing of living things is considered immoral, cross-culturally and throughout the ages. Especially if you ‘don’t want them’. I don’t think we have a say in that, since wolves are here, and were here. But, if that is what is wanted, don’t think others are going to see you as good, moral people. You can’t have it both ways.

    • Nancy says:

      “In what ways is morality continuing to evolve?

      It is very hard to make a statement about that. I’ll make a few guesses. Prehistorically, psychopaths were probably easy to identify and were dealt with, as they had to be dealt with, by killing them. And, today, it would appear that in a large anonymous society many psychopaths really have free rein and are free to reproduce. We may need to take further moral steps at the level of culture to deal with an increase of psychopathy in our populations. But this would be over thousands of years”


      Looks like an interesting read.

      Most of us can relate to the hunter/gatherer mentality because a small percentage of society (roughly 10%?) still feel the need to hunt down wild animals for THEIR protein and besides… its a fun day or week, out in the woods w/family or friends 🙂

      But the “kill for the thrill of it” crowd, no matter how you spin it – head & hide hunting, record seekers, trapping, hunting derbies, etc. – IMHO….are modern day psychopaths, with a license to kill.

      Gotta wonder how many “psychopath, out of staters” are now booking trips to Montana, since the bill passed, for next year’s hunting season.

      Yeah, it does cost more to hunt elk & deer in Montana if you’re a non-resident, but hey! hey! Non-resident Wolf tags just went from $350 to $50 and I’m sure you haven’t got one of those heads, hides or full body mount, in your “game” room yet and I’m sure you’d be helping those ranchers out at the same time 🙂

      • rork says:

        Folks have fun studying plants, seeing sites, riding horses, keeping pets, doing catch and release fishing, having cabins in out of the way places. Often gas is burned, resources squandered, and the land is damaged in other ways. A person not realizing that, and thinking there is some bright line, could also be called a variety of vile things.

        Probably none of that applies to you.

  30. Ida Lupine says:

    Centralized (and non-religious I might add)governments after took these kinds of scapegoating to new levels. It is human nature I’m afraid – people can be ignorant and/or misguided, but there are those who do these things things will full knowledge of what will result and do them anyway, and they are immoral.

    Since I’m willing to bet that any representatives of Scientific American weren’t in Salem at the time, it is only speculation what could have caused any ‘behaviour’, but again, Christianity had the goal of demonizing the benign pagan religions under penalty of death, and had done so in Europe. Humans can and do make things up to further their own ends.

  31. Mareks Vilkins says:

    when I see WM having a fight with JB, I just put on JJ Cale

    Call Me The Breeze



    • Ida Lupine says:


    • Louise Kane says:

      JJ Cale mareks you are so unusual and its great you comment here. I can remember listening to that a long long time ago!

      • Mareks Vilkins says:

        thanks, Louise

        to me this band represents what’s the best about America – diversity,intensity and light energy (vibe) at the same time

        nevermind, that they are so COOL – I will love them forever


  32. Deby Dixon says:

    In this atmosphere of targeting and killing Yellowstone wolves, this is the first publication that I have read that contains the type of facts that most people can read and understand – and that might make doubters sit up and take notice. The misinformation that is being presented about the wolves has been overwhelming and you have done an excellent job of addressing each fallacy with facts and documentation. Thank you for this. I was almost beginning to believe that no one could or would adequately address in a succinct manner. A bright spot on a very dark picture.

  33. Norm says:

    Sorry, folks, to leave you without a reference cited for each of the two figures I offered at the end of my third paragraph: “Meanwhile, federal agencies spend at least $123 million a year to keep U.S. public lands open to livestock grazing, and Wildlife Services spends $126.5 million annually to kill wolves and other animals on behalf of agriculture.”
    Here they are. The $123 million figure is from Jennifer Talhelm, Associated Press, November 1, 2005. “Report says keeping public lands open for grazing costs $123 million a year.” Reprinted from Environmental News Network. She also wrote, “According to the analysis released Monday by the Government Accountability Office, grazing fees cover only about a sixth of the cost of managing the program. In 2004, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and several other agencies spent $144 million and generated just $21 million from grazing fees [at $1.43 per animal unit month].”
    Funding Source Cooperative
    Federal Total Percentage
    Agriculture $23,620,944
    $23,921,904 $47,542,848 38%
    HH & S $21,818,903
    $24,237,826 $46,056,729 36%
    Property $13,522,805
    $4,187,695 $17,710,500 14%
    Natural Resources Total $10,862,049 $69,824,701 $4,323,360 $56,670,786
    $15,185,410 Total: $126,495,487 12% 100%


  34. Norm says:

    Thanks, all, for your stimulating comments. A note to WM re: his note of Feb. 13 at 11:18, “Apples don’t fall too far from the tree; Eisenberg is a Ripple student.” WAS. She realized her Ph.D. study’s conclusions differed strongly from those of Prof. Ripple, so she changed advisors. She is an independent, incisive, inquisitive scientist who is looking deeply into the complexities of wolf-elk-aspen-fire relationships. Stay tuned.
    To JB, Feb 11: I would LOVE to explore the ethics and social aspects of wolves a’la Treves, Bath (an old friend), Decker, Baske, and Kellert -Also William S. Lynn. But my English teacher told me three rules for writing essays: 1) Limit your topic, 2) Limit your topic, and 3) Limit your topic, and I only had 30 minutes. Besides, (and this is for Nancy, Feb 16: Nope, I’m not on a speaking tour; the local Audubon chapter, of which I’m a member, just asked me to do a talk on “The Wolf Issue.”

    • Nancy says:

      “1) Limit your topic, 2) Limit your topic, and 3) Limit your topic, and I only had 30 minutes. Besides, (and this is for Nancy, Feb 16: Nope, I’m not on a speaking tour; the local Audubon chapter, of which I’m a member, just asked me to do a talk on “The Wolf Issue.”

      Norm – then I guess the next question would be, if asked, would you consider speaking again, in another area of Montana, on the wolf issue?

    • WM says:


      Thank you for the clarification on Dr. Eisenberg’s mentorship by Dr. Ripple.

      That lead me to look quickly at her Dissertation. Indeed Ripple was not on her Committee at the time of publishing her dissertation (though she thanks him). I hope to read it when I have time.

      The abstract notes greater complexity to the reputed “top down” wolf – ungulate relationshp, and aspen/willow density and recruitment. Greater acknowledgement of other factors involved, though we are still talking about research done in national parks with various degrees of wolf presence, and fairly broad valley floor riparian zones in which elk are wintering.

      Here is the link:


      JB, I think you and I will have more to discuss regarding “trophic cascade.” Eisenberg states in her abstract it’s not all top down (wolves eat elk => aspen + butterflies) in her 3 study area. Maybe I will find her more believable than Ripple and Beschta.

      • Louise Kane says:

        “Maybe I will find her more believable than Ripple and Beschta.”

        Interesting comment WM – if the conclusions of the thesis are based on findings she has studied/researched then are you questioning the findings, the interpretation of the findings or do you just prefer one conclusion over another, something you periodically rail against when you think others do this.

      • Mark L says:

        More Eisenberg if you are interested:


        They do address the top down/bottom up/trophic ‘trickles’ issue you mentioned too, and ask if it’s all about a false dichotomy. Good stuff (IMHO)

        • WM says:

          I read the Eisenberg paper as an eye-opening observation that studying terrestrial “trophic cascade” is complex. I also took it as a mild “backhand slap” at the conclusions of unqualified top down trophic cascade advocacy – more wolves means more butterflies (the theory of Ripple and Beschta that wolf advocates seem to point out even to the exclusion of research that shows the relationship is more complex).

          There is no discussion of what happens to the elk that are displaced (does that mean they are moved or eaten? afterall the theory is fewer elk is better).

          There is allusion to the issue of whether one size fits all ecosystems (climatology, snowpack, topography, AND whether wolves will ever be allowed to be dense enough on the landscape to contribute much to top down trophic cascading outside national parks.

          It strikes me as very consistent with the observations Dr. Mech, and of course his concern is a basis for her paper, as she gives a summary of the research to date. Read the conclusion, Section 7, after reading the Mech paper and ask this question. Would Dr. Mech disagree with any of the conclusion? My answer is not likely.

          So, hopefully in the next talk or paper by Norm Bishop he incorporates the respective observations and cautionary remarks of Mech and Eisberg (as well as researchers Creel, Christiansen and Kaufmann whom she cites contrary to Ripple/Bestcha).

        • JB says:

          It’s good that some scientists are pointing out that population dynamics in these diverse communities are more complex than most want to believe. And WM, it isn’t just the vocal environmentalists that are guilty of oversimplification–hunters are buying the ‘wolves are eating all our elk’ rhetoric hook-line-and sinker (wait, did I just mix metaphors…ah who cares).

  35. Mark L says:

    Does it work for coyotes?
    Does it work for snakes?
    Did it work for the thylacine?
    Am I seeing a trend here?

  36. Barb Rupers says:

    This is a link to a post at Tom Remington’s site written by Bellevue,Idaho resident Greg Farber aka RattlerRider on many blogs.


    This is the opinion comming out of numerous areas of Idaho against wolves.

  37. Ida Lupine says:

    Wolves can never be taken off the Endangered Species list again. We can see what happens when they are. Wolf advocates will take him right to the mat.

  38. pam parsoms says:

    my question is who decided that public lands[which,i guess ‘own’ part of,]should be used by ranchers for free range cattle?why? or,why don’t they protect their livestock with dogs? i believe the author is definately right that those people will never change.i want our voices to be heard .the slaughter of our wolves destoys all of us.

  39. Roger Hewitt says:

    Talking to the anti-wolf people or wolf haters is absolutely like talking to the republican right fringe brain. They are anti-science, not affected by logic or facts, and just go back to their folklore and anecdotal opinions; you might as well talk to your shoelaces. Talking to them and addressing their folklore, myths, hate does sharpen the pro-wolf arguments. But the pro-wolf or pro-predator or balanced ecological systems arguments need to go beyond the choir to those in the middle, those would care if informed, to politicians who might care. Even the wildlife agencies keep doing what they have been doing for over 100 years, marginalizing or trying to wipe out the predators, because they basically work for hunters and license fees and politicians of a like mind, trappers, ranchers and farmers and wolf hating yokels and buy into the folklore and wolf/predator myths. We who care about predators, like the wolf and lion, need to get more positive information out there and recommended readings and viewings, such as “Romeo, The Story of an Alaskan Wolf” by John Hyde, get more documentaries out there, pro and truthful movies, not such as the myth enhancing movie “The Gray” or “Frozen”. The states that are very anti-wolf are mostly very red or there are red contingencies in those other states that are now getting wolves migrating into them who are the most vocal. Newspapers keep repeating anti-wolf, anti-predator anecdotal and folklore of wolf hating groups giving it some credence by their repetition.

    • Mark L says:

      Good point Roger….a lot like arguing biology with Intelligent Design people.

  40. Mary Lou Andrews says:

    The $126.5 million wildlife extermination figure from my investigative report on Wildlife Services’ mismanagement of geese populations (for McClatchy-Tribune) came from a federal and cooperative spending report for 2010. It was also information the agency was reluctant to share. When I filed an initial FOIA request, the agency dragged its feet. One morning, in frustration, I called FOIA headquarters before 7 and by chance got a supervisor. I told her my difficulties in getting a response to my request and, to her credit, she set up a 3-way interview that afternoon with a FOIA rep and WS liaison. The latter said I hadn’t requested the “right” information. I said a budget’s a budget. Fortunately, I had a copy of a previous report that contained the information I was after; I just wanted current figures for my story. After much hassle, the report was emailed to me the next day. That said, I’m sure the figures today are higher. I also don’t think they tell the full financial story. It’s just a gut feeling but I’ve always though WS brings in far more than it says on paper.
    I also became personally interested in the Canada goose as I studied their behaviors and interactions with humans for the story. I was astonished by the level of intelligence of these magnificent birds. I also began to see them from a new and fresh perspective, and now am working on a book, “Learning to Live with the Urban Goose”. Geese fly everywhere but to some extent you can integrate them into a community by making a location a welcoming park or pond. The book also goes into the many benefits of having geese around, including using their presence to teach students compassion and reverence for those birds that share our communities and for many of us our lives. I also turned my own community around as an example. It went from barely tolerating geese to being a location that treats them like royality.
    During that study, I also came to realize how geese and people are inextricably entwined – how they enrich each others’ lives and are interdependent upon each other. I also saw how violence and government corruption go hand in hand, working against both animal and human rights. I also realized that a federal agency that is spreading lies about geese to justify its actions – oblivious to the will of the people – is an agency that is out of control.
    Similar consideration should also be given wolves, beavers, foxes and other species. Even though we don’t have the close-up, personal relationships that we may have with geese, we can appreciate their presence and make it our responsibility to care for and about them. — Mary Lou Andrews-Simms

  41. ann fox says:

    Why is it the wolves will attack & kill one dog while letting another run with the pack? Coydogs, coywolves do exist. Our ministry has been telling me for yrs that wolves & coyotes are enemies (National Geographic ect) but DNA is now proving what we have know for a long time..they are breeding together. Will this make them fear humans less? There is a wolf pack around here with 2 domestic dogs running with them. When an owner of one of the dogs was informed he did not care. Wolf experts ignore my question or say it is rare? Many domestic animals are attacked & eaten by coydogs, coywolves & now maybe there will be a wolfdog around here…rare or not this is what is happening around here….again I ask why do the wolves kill & eat some dogs & let others run with the pack?


February 2013


‎"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