WOLVES, STATE AGENCIES AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
By George Wuerthner
State Fish and Game agencies are in the midst of a funding and mission crisis. They appear unable to adapt to shifting political and demographic changes much as the Republican Party is failing to adjust to new voter realities. The crisis is nowhere more evident than in their attitudes towards predators like wolves.
The financial dilemma is created by their reliance upon the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to fund their bureaucracy, as well as federal funding that comes from a tax on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment. That outside funding source had given these agencies a certain amount of independence from the political meddling of state legislatures. However, what was once a source of independence is now a liability.
Unfortunately for these agencies, the number of hunters and anglers is rapidly waning and with that decline in participation, comes a major shortfall in operational funds. In the 1950s, 25% of Americans hunted, but by 2006 only 10% hunted, and the number of people participating continues to drop. Rising costs due to inflation, combined with declining license sales, is creating a financial predicament with no end in sight.
Though there are fewer and fewer hunters, there are more and more wildlife lovers and that is the conundrum for these agencies. Even though many of them have changed their name from “fish and game” to more inclusive names such as ”Department of Natural Resources “or “Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks”, their values and attitudes, particularly towards predators, have remained largely unchanged from a 1950s Ozzie and Harriet view of America.
Like the Republican Party, these state agencies are slow to change their mission and values to reflect the new face of America which is more ethnically diverse, younger and urban than those who remain as hunters. Similar to the Republican Party these state agencies are betting their political (and financial future) on a dwindling number of conservative, aging, white males that makes up the lion’s share of all hunters.
MANAGEMENT OF PREDATORS
The contrast between widespread public values and the behavior of state wildlife agencies is nowhere more evident than in how they choose to manage predators. Despite a growing and strong public support wolves and other predators—state agencies have all adopted policies that seek to reduce wolf numbers, not only reducing the wildlife viewing opportunities for non-hunters, but significantly reducing the ecological effects of top predators on ecosystems. On top of that, these agencies permit the use what many consider to be barbaric and inhumane measures such as snaring, trapping, and hunting with dogs.
I am not aware of any state wildlife agency that has not initiated drastic and often punitive persecution of wolves once they were delisted by the federal government. Even states that are often seen as “progressive politically” like Wisconsin and Minnesota have jumped on the bandwagon to kill wolves. The only exception are states like California, Oregon and Washington where wolves are just colonizing and wolf numbers are still very low. It remains to be seen whether they will follow the examples found in other states and adopt a largely vendetta-like approach to wolf management.
A good example of the contrast between public values and agency management policies is evident in Montana’s decision to open the state to wolf killing. It is also evident in the words used to describe these actions. I might note that MDFWP, like all wildlife agencies, euphemistically refers to this persecution of predators like wolves as “harvesting” these animals in an effort to mask what is really occurring—animals are wantonly being killed for all the wrong reasons.
FAILURE TO COUNTER MISINFORMATION
In its Environmental Assessment (EA) document “Gray Wolf Damage Management in Montana for the Protection of Livestock, Other Domestic Animals, Human Safety, and other Resources”, Montana officials state that “the current population level (of wolves) is a concern to sportsmen who rely on surplus mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk for hunting, and livestock producers who use public and adjacent private lands for livestock grazing.”
While there is no doubt that hunters and ranchers are concerned about what they perceive to be “too many” wolves, is it the state wildlife agencies job to promote false allegations? Or should MDFWP demonstrate professionalism and refute misleading and inaccurate assumptions? (I do know of one courageous attempt by MDFWP Commissioner Bob Ream who gave a few public talks pointing out that other predators like mountain lion might be more responsible for declines in elk in a few locations of concern than wolves—but Ream’s efforts are the exception).
Let’s examine these claims. In 2012, only 12 elk management units out of a total of 127 state-wide were under “objectives”, meaning the number of elk in those hunting areas were below the goals set by the agency. In contrast, some 47 elk management units were meeting goal objectives, and even more telling, another 83 management units were above objectives—basically meaning there is an over abundance of elk in the eyes of the agency.
Keep in mind there are a variety of reasons why some elk management units are not meeting objectives that have nothing to do with predators. High road density which limits elk security habitat from hunters, changes in habitat quality such as a decline in summer nutrition levels, harsh winter weather or drought, and even excessive kills of elk by hunters has caused elk herd declines.
So this begs the question as to whether a major campaign to kill wolves for their alleged impact on hunting opportunity is really valid except perhaps for a few very small and specific areas.
We find the same lack of context for allegations of livestock impacts. In 2012, there were only 74 confirmed cattle deaths attributed to wolves out of a total population of more than 2.5 million cattle. A study on Montana livestock losses done in 2005 found that there were 66,000 animal deaths attributed to everything from consumption of poison plants to attacks by domestic dogs. Obviously wolf depredation is an insignificant and minor cause of livestock losses.
Finally, wolf numbers will not grow indefinitely. Wolves, like all predators are social animals. They have socially enforced limits on their population, including defended territories, limited breeding opportunities by dominant animals, and other mechanisms that work to maintain social carrying capacity well below biological capacity.
In reaction to these non-existence and imaginary threats, Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks endorsed expanded hunting season, adopted trapping of wolves and failed to counter the misinformation that created a non-existence menace. And in doing so, they may have won some grudging support from hunters, but they have alienated much of the non-hunting population and destroyed their credibility as objective and professional wildlife managers.
SIMILARITIES TO REPUBLICAN PARTY
In a sense state agencies are acting much like the Republican Party in refusing to acknowledge changing demographics and values. The Republican Party instead of adopting the changing values and demographics of America, such as gay rights, women rights, immigration reform, gun control and so on, the party is becoming more extreme and conservative. The reason Republicans lost the last presidential election is a failure to properly appreciate the changing demographics and values of Americans.
In a similar manner, state wildlife agencies instead of recognizing that America citizenry is changing, are thumbing its nose at the wildlife concerns of a growing numbers of non-consumptive wildlife lovers, and are rallying around their past core supporters—hunters. They may give lip service to a generalize appreciation of wildlife, but when push comes to shove, it is hunting and consumptive “traditions” like trapping they promote.
Again, like the Republican Party which has retreated to appeasing its core supporters in the Tea Party, state wildlife agencies have hitched their wagon to very conservative and largely white older male organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International and others which are analogous to the Tea Party component of the Republican Party.
Instead of changing policies to appeal to a broader public, Fish and Wildlife agencies pander to their core constituency—the conservative hunters. The solution adopted by most state agencies is to try to convert more people to hunting instead of changing its mission and values to more inclusive of non-hunting wildlife lovers. So the agencies have programs like take a “child hunting” or “outdoor women” effort which they hope will swell the ranks of hunters. But all indications are that such efforts are unable to reverse the overall decline in hunters.
Like the disdain for the values of non-white and youthful voters shown by conservative members of the Republican Party, state wildlife agencies are rejecting and alienating whole segments of society that includes bird watchers, nature lovers, and even animal rights proponents who represent the future for wildlife appreciation activities in America.
THE ALDO LEOPOLD MODEL
It’s important to note that not all hunters are anti-progressive or supportive of right wing politics. Nor do all hunters support the war on predators. Aldo Leopold, one of the most articulate spokespersons for a land ethnic and advocate for predators, was also a hunter. But the Aldo Leopold ethical “hunter” is grossly out-numbered by those who fear predators, idolized consumption or the privatization of public wildlife for personal glory (trophy hunting) and engage in/support activities of questionable ethics like prairie dog shoots and coyote contests.
Like Leopold, my own gateway into nature appreciation and ecological insight was through hunting and fishing. Long before I adopted and broadened my outdoor pursuits to include backpacking, mountain climbing, kayaking, cross country skiing, nature photography, wildflower study and bird watching, I was roaming the woods seeking deer and wading rivers attempting to fool a fish into accepting my fly as food.
I personally support some forms of hunting and fishing as having societal value, though I respect those who values are opposed to such activities. I do not, however, see any valid scientific or ethical justification for a generalized persecution of predators.
Likewise, I do not support much of the reactionary legislation being promoted by state wildlife agencies and their more conservative pro-hunting groups. There is currently federal legislation to make hunting a preferred activity on public lands. There are even attempts to enshrine hunting into state constitutions as a constitutional right, in an almost pathetic attempt to equate the right to kill wildlife with such ideals as equal rights for voting.
State wildlife agencies instead of promoting the ethical behavior and ideas espoused by Leopold, seek to validate predator killing as a positive force for society. One can find many wolf killers posing in photos posted on Facebook or the internet with broad smiles as they struggle to hoist up an often bloody dead body, apparently proud of their feat—demonstrating a singular lack of respect for the animals and for others who might not share their perspective on wolf killing. Instead of condemning such behavior, wildlife agencies passively and implicitly condone such actions by promoting and legalizing various forms of wolf killing.
However, it is not just the killing of popular animals like a wolf that is giving state wildlife agencies less and less respect from the public at large. It is the promotion of all sorts of questionable techniques from snaring of wolves to baiting bears to harassing and killing cougars with radio collared dogs.
A good percentage of today’s general population (and I might note some hunters as well) finds such behaviors and technologies far from any morally defensible concept of “fair chase” or ethical treatment of animals. There is no faster way to convert even more of the general public against all hunting than giving tacit moral support and legal legitimacy to such activities.
I suspect that most state wildlife agencies are unable to reform themselves. They face tremendous political pressure to continue predator killing programs from their core constituency, which on the whole, sees predators as a threat to their values. At some point, we will reach a tipping point where public outrage over antiquated policies will likely lead to legislation to end hunting, trapping, and other forms of wildlife exploitation. For instance, California voters removed agency discretion by outlawing recreational cougar hunting (except for specific surgical removal of individual animals that might pose a safety threat or attacking livestock).
There are efforts in numerous states now to end trapping. I predict we will see more and more restrictions on some kinds of hunting implemented across the country—and it will be the fault of hunters and state wildlife agencies for their failure to adapt to new demographic realities. I also suspect that unless state wildlife agencies change their policies and, more importantly, their attitudes to embrace, not merely tolerate, non-consumptive wildlife advocates they will see their operational budgets shrink and their influence continue to decline.
George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology
217 Responses to WOLVES, STATE AGENCIES AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
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Yet another amazing and truthful article George. Way to go. This is a new America and these fish and wildlife agencies need to understand that.
George, I dont disagree with your analysis of the funding situation causing skewed decision making, but as Dillinger once said when asked why he robbed banks; “because thats where the money is”.
The curse of Pitman-Robertson has been that states can fund the aquisition of great properties but are then left with no M&O funding to operate them. Our legislators have been happy to let hunter/fisher license fees carry the load so they can spend general revenues on other pet projects.
We have hashed this out before on this blog but until alternative funding sources are established, the agencies are going to cater to the funders they have, particularly in these economic times. We may be in a new America, but the we are not in a new business model for wildlife and that is a legislative issue.
Or Dept of F & W resisted new forms of funding. Some years ago, Lane County Audubon and Defenders of Wildlife proposed a check-off of income tax refund to go to ODFW and offered to lobby the legislature for it. ODFW refused and wanted to continue to be funded by money. To their chagrin, the tax checkoff passed. Unfortunately, over time, more things were funded that way and the “non-game wildlife program” disappeared.
Of course they wanted to be funded by money! I meant money from hunting tags. O
DFW acknowledged that the number of hunters is dwindling, while the number of wildlife viewers is increasing. In spite of the Dept.’s efforts, spending rare dollars on programs intended to recruit women hunters, it is not working. We have a rural-urban divide, and we have growing interest in photographing, tracking, and viewing wildlife. I spoke about this recently at a hearing on the Cougar Management Plan (read “kill” plan). I was limited to 3 minutes, so chose to speak about funding instead suggesting bird-watching license.
Awesome article, George. Thank you! Will share on my fb pages.
My compliments to George for hitting several nails on the head. The message you convey summarizes many of my feelings on the subject from resource management funding to predator control. I spent a career in the predator “management” field and other than legitimate corrective control efforts to stop individual predators from conflicting with people, pets and livestock, the preventative part of predator control (saving livestock and wild ungulates by conducting pre-emptive strikes against predators) is a total waste of time and money in my humble opinion.
As for changing the sources of funding, I think that is going to be difficult to achieve because the greater non-consumptive public is not going to dig deeper in their pockets to pick up the slack for fish and game agencies who can’t find it in their hearts to speak positively about predators or convey to the general public that they have deeper regards for wild nature than shooting and trapping every surplus animal that walks the earth.
I started out my career as a hunter and trapper but, like George, my vision of nature is much broader today than in my youth. George summed up my feelings and I do sympathize with my fellow wildlife biologists who are caught up in the “politics”.
Carter, what’s the answer? What kind of predator control can there or should there be?
My idea of a good, sound predator control program is one managed by good, conscientious, honest and non-predjudicial people who know what they are doing and know the difference between livestock damage by predators versus other causes of death in livestock. Many Wildlife Services field personnel have a long ways to go before exemplifying those qualities.
Once livestock damage has been confirmed I think solutions to correct the problem can be either lethal or non-lethal on a case by case basis. Could the solution be as simple as locking up the chickens so the raccoons can’t eat them or cleaning up pet food to discourage urban coyotes. Keeping dead livestock carcasses cleaned up, buried, burned or protected from scavenging can discourage predators. Other times lethal control is the only solution. Predators that exhibit habituation or an imminent danger to people should be lethally removed.
I do not support preventative control of predators by agencies where coyotes are aerial gunned, poisoned, trapped and snared just because they exist and might kill livestock or pets. Trying to kill off coyotes and wolves where we think there are too many has proven time and again to be a waste of time and money. I don’t think that state and federal agencies should be reducing predator populations to protect wild ungulates or other species except where scientific research demonstrates a real and serious problem exists.
I am not opposed to legal hunting of predators but I really think the states are going overboard in attempting to aggressively remove wolves. Fair chase hunting and trapping of wolves will not endanger wolf populations NOR will the continuous attempts by fish and game agencies to provide hunters and trappers all kinds of advantages to kill wolves. I fear that when hunters and trappers do not kill the “quota” of wolves the states of Idaho and Montana want dead that we will eventually see more agency-funded aerial hunting of wolves.
Why not provide a reasonable length hunting season and call it good? The states claimed that they would manage wolves just like bears and mountain lions but I think the states are obsessed with making wolf killing easier and easier by allowing more methods of take and lowering the cost to hunters and trappers so they kill more. I don’t think it will work in the long run. How many people are going to make the effort to kill 3 wolves in Montana or 15 wolves in Idaho? Very, very few and the number of people trying or attaining success will diminish over time, I predict.
And on a personal note I don’t believe real sportsmen would hunt and kill predators out of hatred and anger, or go around subjecting the public to this kind of vitriolic behavior. That kind of behavior will turn public opinion against them (and hunting and trapping) in the long run.
This statement of yours, needs to be repeated every time wolf hunting and trapping comes up on this blog or any where else. Mostly for those who think hunting and trapping is going to eradicate the wolf population. You may be the one person who has hunted and trapped wolves that they will listen to and believe. May everyone read it twice and remember.
Wolf hunting and trapping will not decimate the population if it is done right. But go on any anti-wolf message board or facebook page and you will see the hatred those idiots project towards the wolf. I respect what I kill. Those hateful people do not, and THAT is what will decimate the wolf population.
I disagree that the non-consumptive public wouldn’t dig deeper. I already do & I live on a meager income. I would donate even more time and money if the horrendous mgmt tactics ceased & the politics began to shift.
Thank You Carter Niemeyer. Thank you for your words of wisdom and insight.
I wish every hunter, and anti wolf person would read your book ‘The Wolfer.’ I have loaned, and gifted your book. Many of us are evolving, and that is good. I hope, for wildlife sake, it is not too late.
The greatly acclaimed “Wildlife Summit” conducted by Idaho Fish and Game gave an insight to the undercurrent of the nonhunting public. It was surprising how that group dominated the opinions expressed. However, as I have tried to follow IFG actions since the summit I have not seen any attempts to validate what seems to have been a preponderance of wanting the state to recognize and “manage” wildlife on an ecosystem basis. And as George has noted quite the opposite has continued to occur. George is a very good writer and it is hard for me to see why others can not be enlightened by reading his essays. Again though I do see what the “takers” will take away from such articles. Their brain will only focus on the alarm bells warning themselves that animal lovers are out to take away their right to hunt and trap. And given a state that is legislated by the old republican party the legislators hear and are a part of those hysterical cries. I agree with George that a tipping point will eventually come but at what cost up to that point.
In our Rocky Mountain area the view is depressing enough. But if you really want to take a trip of depression merely crank up Google Earth and fly across northern Canada and then south up the Amazon and what has always been the great forests of South America. All of the square patchwork shows what a huge undertaking it is to get to the tipping point. One of my first learned scientific facts 60 years ago was that ruffed grouse cannot be hunted to less than 60% no matter how much hunting pressure. Don’t know if that has been disproved nowadays but the issue was the importance of the habitat. Loss of a habitat can do what the gun cannot. Likewise modern technology hunting/trapping techniques can do what cannot be done under a “fair-chase” doctrine.
When I was a game warden with IFG in the 60’s it was all about pleasing the political machine. Times haven’t changed. I look forward to the “tipping Point” George speaks of and I think it will come from city folks at the voting booth rather than wildlife agencies and those that drive monster pickup trucks. This unlikely fulcrum point will be because of education.
Thanks George for another articulate expression of facts.
Some time ago there was a Idaho fish and game press release in the Idaho state journal. It indicated that regional committees were being formed as a follow up to the wildlife summit. If one was interested you were to contact your regional office . I did this and was told I was the first one to call. Then I was told to be patient as it would be awhile. I have yet to hear back from fish and game so do not know if it is still in the works.
probably not still in the works.
It is always the same dynamic; those who will always know the better way of managing wildlife until the rubber hits the road,… and then someone else should pay for it…
In Montana, there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to slaughtering indigenous wildlife, whether it’s wolves, coyotes, or genetically pure bison. Most of Montana’s legislators are ranchers. Montana is controlled by the livestock industry, which continues in the ongoing war of the 1800’s to cleanse the land of all beings indigenous. Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer boasted that he has killed more buffalo than any governor in history.
Thank you, George. As usual, you articulate the facts so clearly.
In politics who is organized counts more than who has the majority (with a few exceptions).
Politics: def. derived from:
Poly – “many”
Ticks – “8-legged bloodsuckers”
Incisive and illuminating commentary by George Wuerthner, as usual. And I welcome the additional commentary of Carter Niemeyer and others who have long experience with wildlife management and predator “control” in the West. I also await the great “tipping point” with hope.
However, I don’t think education alone will bring about a tipping point. It will certainly help in the long run, but by itself is relatively powerless. Largely this is because the people who most need the education are the very ones who are most recalcitrant to it and intransigent: the trophy hunters and their allies, which includes businesses that cater to hunters by selling guns and ammo or mounting the trophies, etc.
In Utah, a mere 8% of funding for the Division of Wildlife Resources comes from the state general fund. The rest comes from the LWCF and Pittman-Robertson & Dingell-Johnson and outright gifts of hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups such as SFW to the DWR for “habitat improvements.”
Trophy hunting of mule deer and bighorn sheep on Great Salt Lake’s Antelope Island (a state park) produces hundreds of thousands of dollars for so-called habitat improvements to the park to produce more huntable animals. And since the state park system can no longer financially sustain itself, this option has great attraction to the DWR and the State Parks managers.
In addition, DWR, with the aid of SFW, has captured the allegiance of many ranchers with the institution of “Cooperative Wildlife Management Units” in which ranchers, hunting guides and DWR all make money from the sale of highly prized hunting permits on ranchers’ private land. Even the ordinary deer hunter has been placated with respect to this privatization of the public trust to a large extent by the granting of a certain percentage of low-cost hunting permits on choice hunting units as a counter-balance to the high-cost ones.
What it will take to break this log-jam (bring about the tipping point) is hard for me to fathom – especially here in Utah where the legislature is about 90% conservative Mormon and most of the rest of the population is generally passive with respect to and ignorant of all things political. Besides, Utah has so many other problems to deal with (terrible winter air pollution along the Wasatch Front and chronically underfunded public education being two salient examples) that it seems unlikely that the general public will begin to regard wildlife management issues as matters of concern any time soon.
An excellent piece, George. I, too, grew up hunting and still do, but I find very little to support amongst these agencies’ management programs.
A word about funding: Carter is right that the public isn’t going to dig deeper to fund these agencies, nor should they. It won’t make a difference. For the most part the people who work there do so because the culture and existing management paradigm are a good fit (agencies and organizations tend to be self-selecting). Feeding the beast won’t change it, better to hasten its demise. Focusing on the ballot box, state and federal legislatures, governors, and even on de-funding their “hook and bullet” programs will prove far more effective than getting fish and game agencies to willingly change.
Wonderful article and I’m glad I was guided here by WI Wildlife Ethic blog. Glad to have found this site.
I hope you are right, but I’m in Oklahoma, which is not that much different than Montana; just uglier and flatter, LOL. I don’t see the attitudes changing much regarding hunting. Maybe it is in MT since you guys have so many wonderful ‘wild’ places to visit.
I hope you are right. Hunting is not a sport; it’s a means of acquiring food for some, but it is not a sport.
Good point when will the tipping point occur. A few points can be made,when will the money dry-up from hunters and their organizations. Trace the money from the sixties to the present,has their been a big drop off. Will hikers, bird watchers, wildlife people in general take over in terms of revenue. What is the graph on this,has their been a progressive rise in wildlife watching in the past ten to fifteen years ? At what point will the revenue to run the BLM etc., come from tourism and notfrom the hunting organizations.The big question is when will the money and the major organizations change hands,and will their be enough predators left to watch and enjoy.
Wildlife Watchers contribute little or no money to the Game Management Agencies, the ones that are in charge of the wildlife.
Until such time as a model for revenue sharing or requiring the watchers to pay into the pot, I don’t think you will see a tipping point.
Yes, hunter numbers have went down, but the last study by USFWS showed there has been a marked increase in hunters and fishing persons since the recession started, now several states are running programs to recruit new hunters/fishers. The programs are showing some success. He mentions constitutional amendments guaranteeing hunting, which we have passed and put into the constitution in Montana, and other states have as well. Many states have been working on it as well.
Richie, the BLM in truth has very little to do with hunting, it is a federal agency funded under a completely different model. Hunting is controlled on a state by state basis through the state game agencies.
As for changing the sources of funding, I think that is going to be difficult to achieve because the greater non-consumptive public is not going to dig deeper in their pockets to pick up the slack for fish and game agencies who can’t find it in their hearts to speak positively about predators or convey to the general public that they have deeper regards for wild nature than shooting and trapping every surplus animal that walks the earth.
First of all, kudos again re: Wolfer. As I wrote under another thread on this site, it is my opinion (and I know the opinions of many others as well) that your cogent, extremely detailed, page-turner is a public service of great order — revealing the parasitic relationship between IFG and USFWS.
In your opinion, IF educated, compassionate potential wolf-watching Americans were made aware of the marginalization of a forty-three-million dollar-plus so-called wolf “recovery” program to the point where wolves have been sanctioned by IFG as bait to kill more wolves — in sound-bite phraseology as resistance fighters for the NATION’S ‘geography of hope'” reduced to defeated warriors in the ‘geography of nope”– don’t you think they’d be willing to dig VERY DEEPLY into their pockets so as be to, for instance, be able to travel to Idaho to hear the nightly howling of wolves around the SRA, in the Stanley Basin, Wood River Valley, or in the Gallatin and Targhee Nat’t Forests and Selway-Bitterroots backpacking?
I’ve had many discussions with other advocates, many whom agree that the general public is not aware of the shoddy and inhumane treatment wolves and other wildlife get under state laws. To complicate this and undermine efforts to correct that situation when concerned citizens do call, they receive a lot of bad information, downright lies, and or “its all legal” BS. Some people become convinced that the terrible policies are necessary and find it hard to believe that a particular action could be “wrong” if its legal. Its a conundrum. And then others are afraid of trampling on the “rights” of hunters and trappers etc. They have come to believe the biggest lie of all, that its a constitutional right to hunt and trap and kill wildlife. I do believe that to turn this around, mass media and educational campaigns will be needed along with legislation and some brave and dedicated people willing to challenge the status quo. wantonly killing wildlife for sport is wrong.
and the slaughter of wolves taking place now is unconscionable. Period
It is in your opinion Louise, there is a whole group of people out there that completely disagree with you, who’s opinion is more valid?
There is a whole group of people who completely disagree with ANY correct position. There’s a whole group of people who disagree that women and blacks should be permitted to vote. Just because there are two sides does not mean they have equal validity. I find you can start to get an idea of which opinion (in general) is correct by looking at whether selfish interests and / or money are driving it vs. whether someone is trying to legitimately do the right thing (and, of course, you have to review unbiased facts first). It is time we evolve — Louise is quite correct that the current slaughter is unconscionable, as is recreational killing in general. Of course, it’s a given that those who enjoy or profit from said killing will fight change tooth and nail, but certainly not out of any genuine concern for wildlife.
I think the first step toward a tipping point is totally in the fish and game agencies court. IF the states are heading for a budget crunch then “politicians” are going to have to give their state wildlife experts the ability to represent all of their potential constituents.
The negative perception that Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are aggressively hammering wolves with guns and traps is pretty much a guarantee that wolf advocates will not reach deep in their pockets to go wolf watching but may extract their money nonetheless and send it to attorneys to continue the polarized fight over wolf management.
The states are definitely going to have to offer up an olive branch in some form to break the stalemate or gamble that the tipping point will not happen. Maybe an environmentalist on the commission or a closed region of the state for wolf viewing or some other step I don’t foresee. Goodwill is in short supply on both sides right now.
Addendum: given the reality of entrenched decision-making at the state agency level, the most effective way to fund wolf conservation is likely through dedicated federal funding supporting legislation akin to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act since wolves ARE interstate travelers and their slaughter in the northern Rockies is directly impacting the share of, say, the potential of wolf recolonization in the west coast states and the southern Rockies.
THIS is what I will be proposing and fighting for! Anyone else??
Good idea Valerie
Yes. It is very strange, but wolves can never be removed from some kind of protection. Just because an animal has recovered doesn’t mean immediate hunting can follow. I can’t understand this. The wolves numbers had just barely recovered. States dispensed with a five-year waiting period. I don’t know why the wolf brings out such feelings in people. Even people who should know better fall for the line about wolves being a danger to livestock, more so than the actual facts show. So now, we’ve got legal hunting for nine months of the year, and the illegal poaching as well.
Our wildlife numbers cannot withstand this kind of pressure by hunting groups and hate groups.
I agree that the ultra conservative Republicans are taking us backwards, but I’m not thrilled with the tepid Democratic response to our wildlife and wild places either. Too much appeasement going on, and too much of a ‘GMO’ vision of the future. Somewhere in the middle there must be a better way.
Just when you think you have seen the best writing on a subject related to predator and wolf management, George W comes up with another to surpass the last.
The statement that George wrote below, sums up my experience in dealing with wildlife managers.
“While there is no doubt that hunters and ranchers are concerned about what they perceive to be “too many” wolves, is it the state wildlife agencies job to promote false allegations? Or should MDFWP demonstrate professionalism and refute misleading and inaccurate assumptions?”
I have spent many many hours calling and speaking to wildlife agencies, the USFWS, state legislators and commissioners. Without fail, and excepting Bob Reams, I have never spoken to one that answered a question entirely truthfully, or without putting the need to hunt predator spin on their answer. (Mike Keckler did send me requested information and was very helpful.) Some commissioners in Idaho, sent me flat out lies about wolves as well as images of dead wolves. I was told wolves attack children, pets and wantonly kill animals and livestock. Some of these people sound believable. If I were a member of the general public that had not taken the time to educate myself on the issues, I might be impressed by the conviction of the speaker and the seriousness of the allegations. The complicity by wildlife agencies to malign predators is criminal. This more then anything else is a betrayal of the public trust. People will act lawlessly, as they do, but to allow our federal and state agencies to perpetrate lies, peddle misinformation, and give preferential treatment to special minority interests when they are supposed to be caretakers, is the worst crime of all.
This should be required reading by all western Governors, Legislators, and managers at state wildlife agencies. Pop quiz to follow.
…except the key minds are closed, at least in my Wyoming.
Great article! It describes perfectly the on-going dilemma. It’s time to recognize the intrinsic value of nature & the rights of wildlife to exist universally.
SB I am not familiar which agencies promote the hunting idea. State agencies you say o.k.,but my point is how much money is being produced from tourism who want to see wildlife wolves, bears etc,compared to hunting organizations. Put these two on a graph and lets see which has been going down and which is going up.These funds for wildlife viewing could be used for wildlife conservation which the agencies are calling themselves now. Camera vs. gun for predator kill trophy , not for food.P.S. Valarie great idea
Richie, there are by far more wildlife viewers than hunters in the US. Hunters only represent a tiny % of Americans. Hunting today is looked at by some as a “sport” for older white males. I think most people would rather view wildlife and take a picture of it with a camera rather than kill it.
From the link I posted,
Looking to the future, the team predict that hunter numbers will continue to decline due to various social, cultural and economic factors. By using three different scenarios to explore the economic impact, the team estimate that up to $14.3 million could be lost annually.
“Duck hunting has been a tradition for rural America for centuries, yet a cultural shift and changing attitudes has seen a slow decline in hunter numbers,”
Decline in Vt hunting licenses causes worry
At one time or another, we are all wildlife watchers, but when it comes to state agencies that actually are charged with management of the wildlife, the hunters and fisherman are the only ones putting funds into the pot. If you were to leave your little part of the world and actually visit out here, you would buy food, you would pay for hotel rooms, but you won’t put a dime into the game agencies that are doing the management. It is the hunting community that is paying the bills right now and that is who they are going to listen to.
SB is right Jon:
Tunnel vision at its best 🙂
Dave, you bring up the word management which is nothing more than killing. Why on earth would a non-hunting conservationist contribute to the killing of wildlife? You say it is the hunters who are paying the bills right now, but in some places, hunters are on the decline. Fish and wildlife agencies will look to other ways to pay the bills. if fish and wildlife agencies present an avenue to where non-hunting conservationists can contribute, I’m sure they will.
Donald Jon, are you stupid?
Where are you coming up with the Dave, Ralph knows who I am, I have disclosed my identity on this blog, the only Dave I have ever crossed paths with, writes for the Examiner and that was in passing, he and I did not get along with each other.
savebears; that’s a nice theory, (if we as nonhunters put money into the agencies pot they will listen). I think we could increase the funding in IFG by 50% and the wolf season wouldn’t shorten by 1 day! Trapping regs wouldn’t change, it would still be all about an elk in every pot. It isn’t money that speaks it is politics and money together. As long as cow-boys and sheepers have the reins in Idaho (and other RM states) it will be all about their self interest in the long run. Wildlife policies will never by science driven.
I happen to disagree with you, we were working to managing based on science, when I was with FWP and then all the lawsuits started flying and every thing that each of us biologists worked for was thrown out the window. It because you punch me and I am going to shoot you.
savebears; if you were right I would agree with you.
And Larry if you were right, I would agree with you.
Hence we have a stalemate.
This is why we have such a problem in this country, everybody thinks they are right and in truth most of the time, we are wrong on many things.
None of you will buy the right management that’s needed
Robert, the pope signing to the pulpit will always bring the worms out of the wood, George does it every few weeks and the faithful, follow along like lemmings!
For somebody who likes wildlife and doesn’t hunt, please explain to me why they would contribute to the killing of wildlife? I understand people like you who hunt love killing wildlife Robert, but there are others who don’t. If the fish and wildlife agencies provide a way for non-hunters to contribute to wildlife (not wildlife killing), they should do it and I am sure non-hunters wouldn’t mind chipping in. I doubt the fish and game commissions would listen because in the end, they are all still hunters and they put the needs and wants of hunters before anyone else even when the majority of people in these states don’t hunt.
you don’t have to hunt or fish to buy a license, here in Montana, you don’t even need to do that, we have what is called a Conservation license that you can purchase, then show up at meetings and make your voice heard.
And where are you coming up with the majority don’t hunt in these states?
Care to sight a source for that claim?
First I don’t kill because I love killing. The antelope, deer, and elk feed my family for the entire year.
I don’t hunt for a trophy, its for my family.
Use some common sense you need some.
I agree. It is not just a money issue. There is a lot of “good ole boy” politics that goes on in Montana. And quite a bit of it has more to do with the upper managers stroking their own egos and pushing their own agendas than anything else. The public, and their money, be damned. The only real way out of this is to run a couple more generations through. I figure by the time we get to Gen Y we will be in a better position.
And according to the 2011 census in MT, there are around 104,000 hunters in my state. Sounds like a minority to me.
Anyway one more comment trapping is downright cruel,the animal suffers for a long length of time,their is only one word for this sadistic,not even inhumane the word human in inhumane is a contradiction, a joke.
Well said George, as always. Remember back in the 80’s when the grassroots activists wanted a small tax placed on outdoor equipment (hiking boots, binocs, back packs, etc,) for the sole purpose of raising funds for non-consumptive wildlife viewing. The funds would have been direct competition to Pittman Robertson Act funds and would have helped level the playing field. The Sierra Club and ilk in DC killed it as an unsupportable tax. I argued then and I argue now we still need to do this. Money is power and if we can provide the direction of how money is spent we will have more influence over wildlife management at the state level. As always, thank you George.
Great post, George. And great comments, too. I also have seen the numbers from USFWS that indicate that although the percentage of the public that hunts and fishes is declining, due to population increases, the actual numbers are going up. And at the same time, many wildlife populations are declining due to habitat loss. So do the state agencies really want to see the percentages of consumptive users rise? Also, maybe 15 years or so ago there was a move to put a bill before congress to add a small tax on things like binoculars and camping equipment, so that non-consumptive users could help foot the bill for land and wildlife management. It was fought by some of the outdoor stores and clothing manufacturers (I believe REI was one). The tax on hunting and fishing gear is quite transparent, and I think a small tax on other gear would be too. It’s the only way, short of taking money from general funds, that the non-consumptive users will get a voice in wildlife management.
This article is very well written and goes a long way towards making a coherent arguement for a complete overhaul of wildlife “management.” The agencies in charge seem to be hell bent on not just maintaining the status quo, but actually going in reverse. Hunters and trappers see their tradition dying and are sad and mad and desperately grabbing for everything they can get. In the process they are waking up and alienating people who otherwise would not even be paying attention.
I don’t think I could say anything more than what others have already said,but,I will still say,thank you,George.
I must add great article George sorry I did not say this before, all these agencies should change their name to something more proper, Hunters and fisherman agency ,oh add ranchers in their too.
State(Emphasis on STATE) GAME and FISH dept seems to cover it quite clearly Richie, now here in Montana if you want to deal with the Ranchers, that would be the LIVESTOCK Department.
George I see your trying to push your agenda in the Billings paper.
Sorry but I don’t agree with a lot of your views.
It’s perfectly fine for you to disagree with George’s views, but can you clarify what his “agenda” is? You may think George is an extremist, but I don’t see one thing in this article that says he’s an extremist. He just seems like a sane guy with the facts and truth on his side.
George is worse than a reformed smoker with some of his articles.
he is a damn good articulate writer with a great deal of insight. But his writing speaks for itself.
In your opinion Louise, there are those of us that strongly disagree.
You do realize, that your view of the world, is not the only view, right?
I know that I am certain of my position about animals/wildlife. that Humans do not have a right to wantonly kill other beings, nor do we have a right to torture, maim and cause excessive suffering. and a legal “right” does not necessarily make something right. George generally expresses the same concerns I, and many others, have with wildlife management, and does so very eloquently. His writing explains his positions quite clearly. I am not certain, for all your posts, what you believe in, its an enigma.
Yes, it is enigma, because I believe both sides of this are grasping at straws sometimes.
You may know your right, but what about the person on the other side that knows they are right? Then we find us at an impasse and nobody wins, and most of all wildlife suffers.
The bull in the china shop attitude is NEVER going to win, never has, never will.
i did not say I knew I was right, I said I know what I believe in and am not afraid to speak out for wolves and other wildlife.
Louise, reviewing your statement, you are of the belief you are right.
Anyway, I have reports to start writing in the morning and it has been a long 3 weeks in the snow, so I will say goodnight.
Great article George. Lots to contemplate (and argue) over.
To other stuff….
I do oppose the addition of a tax on outdoor equipment in the guise of non-consumptive support of wildlife….so they tax people to convince them their voice is being heard…..really? No thank you.
Hunters buy much of the same equipment, so what is accomplished?
There HAS to be a moral voice that rises above the ‘din of the dollar crowd’, or what good does anyone do? Didn’t Leopold warn against monetizing wildlife? Consuming goods in the name of supporting wildlife is helping?
I think we have to ask ourselve how our vulnerable wildlife have gotten into this position in the first place. The Democrats are only slightly better than the Republicans, and I hope we don’t continue to see a chipping away at the Endangered Species Act and exemptions here and there against environmental protections. This Administration has been one of, if not the, worst as far as adding endangered animals and plants, but yet the highest in handing over land for oil and gas exploration. I don’t know – I think I’d rather see ethical hunting than poisoning or destroying wildlife because their population is considered too large by humansand has to be ‘managed’, or for drilling and wind farms.
I have read your posts for months now, and I have to say, you are really starting to get it, we have a problem from the top down in this country. This continue bickering is not going to help a damn thing.
The taxes on sporting goods and firearms provided the funds to get to this point, where we actually have wildlife to argue over!
Thanks, as we all have said, we’re not going to get anywhere to help wildlife if we don’t try to work together.
The old saying is, those who can’t work together, always work against each other.
Ida you said…”I think I’d rather see ethical hunting than poisoning or destroying wildlife because their population is considered too large by humansand has to be ‘managed’, or for drilling and wind farms.”…what????
so if we have ethical hunting as you say how does that eliminate poisoning or destroying wildlife, not getting the drift here
That is because you are so inner focused, that you can’t see anything else, which is sad, you are a great advocate with such an education, but your focus is not bridging a gap, it is driving the sides further a part.
You are pushing so hard, that those who are strongly entrenched on the other side, will shoot, kill and bury, despite what the law is.
When both extremes are so entrench, the only outcome can be war.
Your article was well organized and well written as it related to wildlife policies and predators. However, you seem to have a no-brain, straight party ticket, polarizing political viewpoint. Unfortunately, that diminishes your credibility with regards to the entire article, which ended up being a dumb, silly, far reaching analogy. Perhaps you should stick to ecology and wildlife biology.
I don’t know if George Wuerthner considers himself a Democrat, but in recent years a lot of people have emerged into a new category that is different from the traditional Democrat, or Independent — not a Republican. They don’t take the view that they vote for the person instead of the party as an Independent would. They don’t see themselves as Democrats, but they vote against the Republicans and not for the person. I would have to place myself in this category.
Republicans in office and Republican activists have become extremists who want to tear down a century of social and scientific progress. What they want to replace it with is unclear because they almost always speak in generalities. Take,for example, the budget. They want big cuts, but won’t say what specifically. They say “cut the waste.” That is open to thousands of interpretations
Greetings Wolf advocates and those on the fence,
Again, I highly encourage you to read Carter Niemeyer’s memoir “Wolfer.” I’ve now read it five times and have marked more than a hundred passages for research on the backstory as to how a 43 million dollar so-called wolf “recovery” program has now degenerated into wolves (which after all super-big, super smart dogs which look virtually identical to my Alaskan Malamute being reduced to use as bait chunks to kill yet more wolves because Idaho’s hunters were complaining to IFG that they couldn’t use their victims for anyone thing else — guess there’s no great recipe for wolf soup yet (believe me, I will NOT drop this)
Carter’s book is a public service of the highest order in that it reveals an unblinking portrait of Wildlife Services’ parasitic relationship with both IFG and USFWS.
For example, on page 355, Niemeyer writes: “As an IFG manager once said, “Wolves are like grass. You have to keep mowing them down.” Niemeyer then opines: “But do we really?” I have to wonder HOW many others with IFG/MWP who contribute to this site think the same way??
On page 317, Niemeyer writes: “It only took two more drafts before Ed Bangs RUBBER-STAMPED it (the 2002 legislatively enacted final version) which rules today.
QUESTION: Can ANYONE give me their opinion as to WHY Bangs — a man who told NOVA in 1997 that “wolves are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters that we always hoped we could be,” RUBBER-STAMPED the disastrous plans of Idaho and Montana that allow for the current no-holds-barred epidemic of slaughter????
Because, after all, said rubber-stamping has unleashed (forgive the pun) in Idaho, the objective of “REDUCING WOLVES FURTHER AS FAST AS POSSIBLE” in re: the use of intentionally killed wolves as bait to kill yet more wolves (confirmed by Deputy Director of IFG yesterday) and, in Montana, the recent relinquishment of wolf management to Wildlife Services.
I would like to know why such obviously flawed plans are STILL supported by some state fish and game folks contributing on this site?
My supposition (please correct me if am wrong) is that these supporters are GEARED toward GAME management only – not the best available conservation science with respect to the interrelationship of ALL species to their interdependent ecosystems – AS the ESA envisioned as part and parcel of the delisting “bargain.”.
Also, I would like to know, since these plans are in effect, why anyone would blame the enviro lawsuits for adversely affecting the use of the “ science”? Thanks!
Great article! I only hope isn’t proposing that our western Game & Fish Departments go further under the control of Republican controlled legislatures. They are already under the control of “citizen” commissions, which are largely under the control of agricultural interests.
Addendum: I would like to add that Alaskan Malamutes, just like wolves, are super-affectionate, expressive, and cooperative.
As always, a good read from George.
Every tree-hugger should familiarize themselves with the political-science term “Iron Triangle.” Wikipedia has a good explanation.
You should also download the “2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Related Recreation.”
The 2011 Survey is available at http://www.census.gov/prod/www/general_reference.html#fhwar
under the ‘FHWAR’ link, and then “Online Reports.” The US reports are at the top. Only a few of the State reports are currently available, but you can download the aggregate statistics for each state at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/cdm/ref/collection/document/id/858
The quick-fact sheet at http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/fhw11-qkfact.pdf will show that wildlife watchers are already an economic powerhouse.
Here are comparisons from the reports:
Wildlife-Related Recreationists: 2011
33.1 million anglers
13.7 million hunters
71.8 million wildlife watchers
Wildlife-Related Recreationists: 2001
34 million anglers
13 million hunters
66 million wildlife watchers
Wildlife-Related Recreationists: 1991
35.6 million anglers
14.1 million hunters
76.1 million wildlife watchers
Ah, but BobMc, you need another column on your chart that shows which of those groups generates the most revenue USABLE by wildlife management agencies. I dont know how you think you can translate the raw numbers of wildlife watchers who do not buy permits/tags/licenses from wildlife management agencies and who do not pay the 10% excise tax on their equipment that provides the hundreds of millions of $$$ for wildlife management thru Pitmann-Robertson into a “powerhouse”.
Certainly there is a great potential there but they are not now contributing revenue in any meaningful way. Their expenditures for motels, boots and gas, etc may help local economies but it does not provide a single dollar to build a guzzler, restore a riparian area, purchase some wintering ground for migrating critters or study CWD.
Great post Mike,
I tried to point this out yesterday, but I guess nobody was listening.
Having tried for going on 25 years to reform the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and having watched similar efforts in other states for nearly that long, I can testify with a high degree of confidence that merely sharing wildlife hunters/fishers/watchers numbers with agency personnel will not accomplish anything. For one thing, they are already aware of all that. For another, their response so far is to invent new ways of getting more self-supporting “nonconsumptive” wildlife programs going, such as Bald Eagle Days, where they set up bald eagle viewing stations for interested folks. Here in Utah the new DWR director is already implementing a new bird watching program where you pay to participate in a program where you get official badges and such after you have seen so many species of birds, and get your name listed in a publication. This is fine, I guess, but it will do nothing to change the way the agencies “manage” predators. If some rich person should give his or her state wildlife management agency five million dollars to reduce the number of mountain lion permits by half, that might work, but I can’t think of anything else that will short of more people making progressive changes in wildlife management a political priority.
You did not read it correctly or I written it improper,but you made my point your state is run by hunters nad ranchers,so no matter what funds get directed to fish and game to SAVE WILDLIFE they will be used to hunt and kill with guns bows and traps which are cruel,so as I said it’s the internal old boys club that runs everything. Unless somebody powerful from the federal government steps in,then your people will do things illeagaly of the law goes the other way again,or just like now status quo. The same thing happen at the Daytona 500 today, women Danica Patrick got boxed out by the old boys club,she kind of eluded to it in her interview. I am most of the time for the underdog,I was brought up to believe their are good and bad in all. I know their are grays in the world and not black and white,but sb you have to admit trapping is cruel,and if you don’t I really can’t say anymore. I never said hunting for food was wrong,but cruelity to animals I think is one of the most repulsive things in life.Remember animals and children cannot protect themselves from mankind.
Are you in the tenth grade, I have never said I trap, I have never said I support trapping.
Danica drove a great race today and held her own, I have seen Dale, Richard, Michael, Jeff and a host of others get boxed in at the end of the race.
Our state is run the way it is, and it really does not matter if you like it or not, things are changing and things will change.
Ya Right, tell a grizzly or a mt lion they can’t protect themselves!
You are so far out in left field have so little knowledge of the real world Richie, you are not living in reality, there are two sides to everything.
The day that people realize, that consumptive users are the ones funding the game depts, then we might have a starting point to grow from, but this is not working.
As I said last night, if we are not working together, then we are working against each other.
The whole system needs to be overhauled, plain and simple. As hunter I am funding the programs you are enjoying.
As a non-hunter you can very well shove your programs as I am certain my enjoyment of them is lessened significantly by your attitude.
to big sky; I never intended it for you or anyone opposed on this site for trapping just goiung over things late got many things to do,hope you understand,as for the Daytona yes many got boxed in. I just said over and over listen to her interview. It’s the old boys club,and I hope over time these people will not dictate what happens to our country. I am seeing this the older I get and that hurts. AS for Ralph and this web site I caused him problems and I hope he has a big heart to let these go.I am not from where you guys are but I do love the country.
Tourist travel expenses,these people come a long way to see wolves,pay for hotels,meals,little things the shop in Yellowstone has,shirts,coffie cups ,bear spray,rent for cars gas, coffie at the gas stations,etc. I will BET TOURISM SPENDS FAR MORE THAN hunters spend on bullets, lincense fees etc. I would like to add the Cabins in Yellowstone I will bet are expensive and the meals and the tools to watch wolves and bears etc. I can’t say for sure but I would like to add up both sides and see what happens. Yellowstone roads in the summer are bumper to bumper not to mention the fee to enter the park. I can’t say for sure but I would like to add up both sides on a fair basis,and see what who spends more. Oh not to mention guides if you want a professional to see wildlife in Yellowstone.Their is a person from New Jersey who uses Camels for people to ride on, this is expensive,he isin a yellowstone film. His fees are not cheap, he quoted me some prices for a limited time,not cheap that’s for sure.
You don’t seem to grasp that Tourist dollars are not the same as wildlife management/conservation dollars. We already know what is being contributed to the economy of the states by visitors. None of that is going to wildlife/restoration/conservation, land aquisistion, habitat clean up/restoration, etc.
You are comparing apples to oranges. Also, a good amount of the money spent stays with companies that don’t invest in the local economies, the money goes out of state.
What hunters spend on bullets, guns, license fee’s, etc. go to the game departments, what tourists spend go to the bottom line of big and small business. Tourists are not contributing to wildlife conservation like hunters and fishing persons do.
“Tourists are not contributing to wildlife conservation like hunters and fishing persons do”
So SB, if all those tourists suddenly stop coming to Montana, do you honestly believe the economy (the mom & pop operations, stores, restaurants, etc. that depend on the income from the 10 months out of the year that AREN’T all about hunting) won’t suffer?
That is not the point of what I am talking about, FWP is funded By hunters and Fisher people, plan and simple.
That is the problem, you guys keep trying to mix tourism dollars with FWP dollars, they are apples to oranges, simply put, tourists are not paying for land restoration, habitat purchases, water clean up, etc. It is to different revenue streams.
Based on numbers in the studies, wildlife watchers outnumber hunters by a large margin, but they are not contributing to the restoration and management like hunters and fisher persons.
Wildlife watchers are important to commercial business, IE: The Mom and Pops, hunters are important to the agencies.
aside from the clear indication that non consumptive users far outweigh hunters. a most frightening fact is that 13.7 million people are out there killing wildlife!i don’t think predators can withstand this kind of pressure on top of habitat loss, degraded habitats, loss of prey base, new technology, vehicle collisions, poaching, and wildlife agencies that don’t manage or care about maintaining healthy ecosystems.talk about a tipping point
I am a “non consumptive user” about nine months of the year, a hunter for about three.
It would be interesting to see some numbers pertaining to the overlap of people who enjoy both cunsumptive and non consumptive use of public lands, the money spent on each, and a breakdown of how much of it benefits wildlife and how.
topher, I hunt 1 month of the year, I watch wildlife 12 months of the year, I fish a small amount of the time, even in the years I don’t hunt and fish, I buy my hunting license, my fishing license and my conversation license as well as my deer, elk, bear tags. So even in those years I don’t intend to hunt, or might not be able to fish, I still contribute to the dept that manages this.
Now, normally I buy at least one new bow, every couple of years, I just purchase my second new gun in the last three months, I normally purchase about 1000 rounds of ammo a year, I purchase primers, power, bullets so I can reload. Of course I always need a new fly pole, even if my wife don’t think so. Bought a new spotting scope around Christmas time. So I contribute every single year in many ways. In addition, even through I qualify for a lifetime pass National Parks Pass, I still pay when I go to the parks, I also qualify for reduced camping rates and free camping fee’s in my state, but I pay full price for each.
Some people don’t realize, just because you don’t have to pay, don’t mean you can’t pay.
My suspicion is that even though I spend more time backpacking, hiking, and photographing than I do hunting and fishing, more money finds its way to wildlife through consumptive use fees vs non consumptive use fees, of which very few come to mind. While most people consider park fees non consumptive because of the lack of hunting they easily overlook fishing which is a consumptive use. I think it would be a lot more difficult to sort out where all the money comes and goes than many on this site would have us believe. When they say this many dollars are spent by non consumptive users without taking into account the fact that many consumptive users spend money on non consumptive uses it seems useless info for their argument.I think if we want to argue who pays what we need to know who pays what and where it goes, and to my knowledge,we don’t
I hope Ed Bangs breaks his silence one of these days. He’s approaching the traitional period of ” Thou Shalt Not Speak Nor Lobby” period of a full year after leaving government service . Too much weird stuff went down the last year or so he was on the job as the Northern Rockies wolf director , when the political avalanche overran the landscape of wolf management. Ed has some ‘ splainin ‘ to do…
I for one want the inside story on how Wyoming’s wretched wolf management plan was suddenly greenlighted and fast tracked. Especially with respect to that ” Flex Zone ” foofawraw that became the deal maker allowing Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and his Merry Men to carry the day in just a few short months after years of Canis lupus imbroglio.
Briefly , Judge Molloy had ruled that Wyoming’s plan was null since it did not allow for adequate genetic interchange of Wyoming wolves with populations in Idaho and Montana. That annullment, while narrow, was enough to turn the whole anti-Wolf machine onto Bangs and US Fish & WIldlife and and bear down hard. Wyoming Senator John ” Doctor No ” Barrasso placed a hold on the nomination of Daniel Ashe as the new undersecretary at interior for USFWS . Two other Senators Jon ” Buzzcut ” Tester of Montana and Mike ” I’m Not Alan” Simpson of Idaho crafted the wholly politicized wolf rider for the budget deal, a heinous piece of crap legislation that among other thing monkeywrenched the Courts by declaring wolf plans could not be challenged by lawsuits. And so it went.
What I want to hear from Ed Bangs , plainspoken , is how he and his staff came up with the ” Flex Zone” component of the Wyoming plan that opened a temporary and tenuous corridor in western Wyomiong for an enterprising wolf to sneak into Idaho while his brothers and sisters were getting shot at elsewhere during the ill-named ” Trophy Wolf Hunts”.
I would like Bangs to explain why he announced his resignation after 23 years of wolf management early in 2011 and was gone by June , right after the Wyoming Governor and Ken ” Pontius Pilate” Salazar inked the parchment of their final wolf decree. I want Bangs –somebody , anybody — to divulge the backroom political maeuvering and pressuring that resulted in WYoming’s plan getting approved forthwith, because it was no better and hardly different than all that had come before, yet now was consecrated.
Was Pontius Pilate Salazar told by the Obama general staff to ” take care of that wolf problem once and for all “. Did Obama or his archbishops sacrifice 1600 wild wolves in the northern Rockies in the interests of expediency and appeasement for being more trouble than they were worth ?
I have my own answers to these and other questions. But I want to hear the plainspoken truth from Ed Bangs. We won’t get anything out of Salazar for at leas another critical year without waterboarding the bassturd , but perhaps Bangs will enlighten us and maybe atone a little.
I am a foam-at-the-mouth liberal, but thought analogies to real or imagined issues of the Republican party were completely unneeded, distracting, and counter-productive. How so many other can find this piece to be good writing is a mystery to me, since that flaw seemed so glaring.
“But the Aldo Leopold ethical “hunter” is grossly out-numbered by those who fear predators, idolized consumption or the privatization of public wildlife for personal glory (trophy hunting) and engage in/support activities of questionable ethics like prairie dog shoots and coyote contests.”
Citation please. I don’t have data, but that seems false. I know mostly MI and WA though. We have around 800,000 deer hunters alone in MI, and I wonder how many would need to be trophy hunters to be able to use a phrase like “grossly out-numbered”. Perhaps accuracy wasn’t a goal.
Cody Coyote writes,
“I would like Bangs to explain why he announced his resignation after 23 years of wolf management early in 2011 and was gone by June , right after the Wyoming Governor and Ken ” Pontius Pilate” Salazar inked the parchment of their final wolf decree. I want Bangs –somebody , anybody — to divulge the backroom political maeuvering and pressuring that resulted in WYoming’s plan getting approved forthwith, because it was no better and hardly different than all that had come before, yet now was consecrated.”
JESUS CHRIST (and I don’t utter this peace-loving man’s name in vain) are you ever brave! And did you ever nail the answers to many of my questions and suppositions!
I THANK YOU for your confirmation of my theories and factual research* to date regarding a major player who has brought us to today’s apocalypse.
Carter’s very last statement in his superlative “Wolfer” reads: All we need are people (like you) who are BRAVE ENOUGH to think for themselves and cherish those things that are still truly wild.” (emphasis added).
Your analysis is totally consistent with how I read the subtext of Carter’s remarks concerning Bangs in Carter’s “Wolfer”.
Sadly, Bangs (our once acclaimed wolf recovery coordinator who with all the power and fame he had, dishonored a historic opportunity — the man I was enthralled with as late as 2004 before I knew any better) according to Carter, had “changed his tone” shortly before sanctioning the wipe-out of the beloved White Hawk Pack in 2002 — the same year he “RUBBER STAMPED” the current operating version of the tragic IFG WMCP).
* My extensive/intensive research over five years includes not only an hour-long conversation with Bangs in December of 2008 about what the best available science really means to him, e-mail “conversations”, and, then, reading not only every research article and interview I could find involving Bangs (including a 2002 edition of RANGE MAGAZINE including the article entitled — “THE REAL AMERICAN WOLF MAN HAS BECOME SOMETHING OF A SHAPE SHIFTER — CHARMING, BUT UNPREDICTABLE, STRADDLING THE DOUBLE YELLOW LINE” — and depicting an unflattering photo of a shifty-eyed Bangs superimposed over a submissive wolf) — but, also Bang’s publicly available FACE BOOK entries about his revelations about himself — which I personally interpret as consciousness of guilt (going back to 2010) as well as pithy descriptions of the myriad safari and hunting trips he has taken one after another since 2011 — during, for example, the infamous Bransford wolf torture incident and very recently, deep-sea diving in Papua.
Because I am a stickler for accuracy, I would very much appreciate any and all “back room” facts from those in the know as well as the opinions of the very articulate and knowledgeable contributors to this site.
In closing, I leave you with this quote concluding my writing project:
“We must rage against the dying of the light.”
“In a world older and more complex than ours, wolves are not underlings. They are nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time — fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the Earth.”
SB instead of Game and fish just use the word hunters association, much like harvest ,don’t hide behind words. Use a more precise word like hunters association,as for Ranchers why not National Ranchers Association they want to run the entire state anyway.
Oh not national,but Montana State Ranchers Association.
We have the Montana Dept of Livestock, which deals with and works with the Ranchers, we have the Fish Wildlife and Parks dept, which sets hunting seasons, fishing seasons, acquires land, restores lands and sets regulations.
The livestock dept, gets funds from the state, fish, wildlife and parks, does not, they get their funds from hunters and fishing persons. You may not like it, and really it does not matter what you think, our state is set up in a certain way, and the fish wildlife and parks dept IS set up to work for the hunters and fishing persons.
SB, I enjoy your responses but I think you are on a snipe hunt…
Why is that Mike? I am simply stating the facts as I know them, based on my employment with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and knowing the good ole’ boy system in place in this state.
I am not liked by either side, because I think a lot of them are blowing smoke out their ass!
You miss the irony…some people you should not engage in rational argument as it is as productive as the old camper’s snipe hunt…sorry to mislead…
sb I agree a good amount of the money is going out of state, but the people who run the tours live their,and the bars,hotels, the little food shops doesn’t that help sb, the fees to get in the park doesn’t that go to the park. I think some of the outfitters ,hiking etc should have a tax for these agencies.But will that fix the internal problem everyone ,on the board are hunters. Didn’t Ralph just write an article of the women who was turned down teh Idaho position.Why because she did not have their same ideals? She is a new generation person and she belonged to the drugs and firearms agency,I know this is probably wrong and you will correct this, but come on sb the internal people are flawed they are all one sided.
No Richie, she didn’t turn it down, the state legislature would not confirm her, in others words, they didn’t want to hire her.
And no Richie, the bars, hotels, don’t contribute to wildlife conservation, the money to the park goes to the Federal government, to be spread around the country at other NPS properties including the park the money is spent in.
In my state, hunters are the ones paying the bills, plain and simple, if people were not buying the licenses, there would be no Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Save Bears writes:
“The livestock dept, gets funds from the state, fish, wildlife and parks, does not, they get their funds from hunters and fishing persons. You may not like it, and really it does not matter what you think, our state is set up in a certain way, and the fish wildlife and parks dept IS set up to work for the hunters and fishing persons.”
But, Save Bears, what about FWP’s MISSION STATEMENT:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, through its employees and citizen commission, provides for the stewardship of the fish, wildlife, parks, and recreational resources of Montana, while contributing to the quality of life for present and future generations.
Does this mission statement preclude wolf-watchers? they a resource user — in a non-exploitative way — of course?
They may be part of the group, but they are not a contributor of the conservation, they just don’t pay their way, all of our Fish, Wildlife and Parks funds, come from the hunters and fisher people that buy the licenses.
They also provide the state parks, which is open to anyone that wants to use them.
They have stated many times, they are going to maintain viable populations of game animals, and that includes wolves, our state is in no jeopardy of going below certain numbers as defines by the delisting plans.
You and others may not like it, but they are sticking to what they said they would.
Even Carter says, that hunting and trapping will not reduce the populations as many here claim. Carter, in his experience is one of the best in the business and he is not showing alarm, at this point in time.
Until a revenue stream comes along for the non-consumptive user, FWP is going to put the hunter/fisher ahead in the dept.
Of course as I have suggested, anyone, including those who don’t hunt or fish as still able to purchase licenses and not use them and they can include those numbers in any correspondence with the dept, at least the dept would know you are contributing to the overall picture.
Montana has wolves and that population has increased almost ever year so what is stopping your watching? Montana has million of acres with no wolf hunting, I can go out on almost a daily basis and see their tracks. Mission accomplished.
Maybe it just precludes non paying non resident you know how you otta do it types
++Does the mission statement preclude wolf-watchers?++
I do not see where the mission statement excludes wolf watchers. Maybe wolf watchers are going to become like modern elk hunters. Today’s elk hunter has to hunt with wolves on the landscape. We would not want it easy for the elk hunter, the wolves are here and the hunter is going to have to hunt harder. The wolf hunter is here and the wolf watcher is going to watcher harder, drive farther, invest in snowmobiles, horses, and spend more time finding the wolves to watch. Just like the elk hunter. Times are tuff for both the wolf watcher and the elk hunter. It is time to stop babying the wolf watcher.
AMEN Elk !!!
to elk I like that comment
Whatever is best for the wildlife – if it means wolf watchers need to trek out farther to see them so they do not become habituated to human presence, then so be it.
Once again we are told hunters makeup 10% of the population and are left to believe watchers make up the bulk of the remaining population, I say BS. Across america like minded people form groups/organization they have mission statements members raise money. Groups for hunters, muscle cars and quilters where are these groups for wildlife watchers. I will give you we have groups of devoted BIRD watchers. Show me the organization who’s mission statement says they are for wildlife watchers, what is their membership, and how much money have they raised? Does that membership reflect the belief watchers out number hunters? Membership is power, it is votes and far as I can tell watchers have surveys!
“Groups for hunters, muscle cars and quilters where are these groups for wildlife watchers. I will give you we have groups of devoted BIRD watchers. Show me the organization who’s mission statement says they are for wildlife watchers, what is their membership, and how much money have they raised?”
If someone had the brilliant idea of forming a fee based group and witholding the money raised until their concerns were adressed it would probably go a lot further than compaining to commissions of the states they neither reside in nor purchase non resident licenses to hunt or fish in. If we’re all so concerned about the way wildlife is managed then pony up some buckaronis and witness the power of the almighty dollar.
I promise I can spell. Just can’t type.
As you said RB, only a small % of Americans hunt. Nobody has ever said that the rest of Americans are wildlife viewers, but the point that people make is that there are by far many more wildlife viewers than hunters in America.
Jon, they are over13 million hunters in this country, that contribute a hell of a lot of money.
Wildlife watchers also contribute a lot of money, more money than hunters last I checked. I don’t know what the number of wildlife watchers in America is, but I would bet that it’s a lot more than the 13 million hunters.
They contribute economic boost to business, they don’t contribute to management of wildlife and wildlands, they don’t contribute to the depts charged with wildlife management, land management, habitat restoration, watershed restoration. Just because money is being spent, does not mean that money is helping wildlife.
In Montana, Fish Wildlife and Parks is funded by the purchase of hunting, fishing and conservation licenses.
My point is prove that there are more wildlife watchers than hunters with more than a survey.
Rancher Bob and all,
Did you forget about Defenders of Wildlife? They try to stick up for all wildlife. They have a fairly large membership. The trouble is they are organized to defend or advocate policies. Groups that provide monies to agency coffers have a great advantage. This is a general problem in American politics, not limited to wildlife. This issue has little to do with relative numbers of people and everything to do with agency capture by a clientele.
No I did not forget our friends at defenders of wildlife. Seems they have over 21 million members world wide you can join for $20 dollar donation seems they have no yearly dues. I read nothing about them fighting for wildlife watchers or any ones rights what so ever. Dedicated to protection of all native plants and animals. This allows us all the right to watch them but doesn’t help wildlife watchers gain a seat at the table. Surveys show people like to watch wildlife but who are these people? Why if there are so many of them is there not a group of them? If you subtract the hunters and trappers who watch wildlife why does there seem to be no one leftover? The UK has wildlife watching groups with membership why not the US? Can anyone prove non-hunting wildlife watchers exist outside this forum?
The way it sounds trappers can put their traps almost anywhere so where can one go without the thought a trap is close by. Am I wrong isn’t hunting nine months of the year so what wildlife can be watched without the fear of a trap.The old boys club run Monatna so any money from tourism being diverted will not probably help.The old boys club happen in the Daytona 500 today to a women driver, if nobody is aware of it.
Bull shit Richie, if you want to contribute, then call Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks an purchase a conservation license, if 1% of the claimed 74 million wildlife watchers purchased a conservation license, how much would you be contributing? If that happened, then the wildlife watchers would become a force to be heard! If the wildlife watchers, would follow the pattern of a group like AARP then people are going to listen!
Nascar is no way related to wildlife management that I’m aware of.
Bass proshops and cabelas sponsors cars in NASCAR.
P.S. Maybe wildlife watchers do not know what to do,did you ever think that,do I have to write everything in black and white for you.
Wildlife watchers, know what to do, but you have no grasp of what you are talking about Richie, which is a shame.
Do I have to spell it out over and over again, so that wildlife watchers can actually have a say in this?
tropher it is just a point about the old boys club and the old ways of doing things,now do you understand,their was only one women driver.
I like nascar but only caught the end of the race due to work. I will only watch until Gordon retires. I thought he tried to give her plenty of room from what I saw. I saw no evidence of the good ol boys club, certainly not from camera crew or commentators. They wouldn’t shut up about her while there was real racing going on behind her. Add to that the best finish by a woman at Daytona . Maybe your wrong .
Topher read what I said to sb about her interview,she had the draft of the ford in front of her, but dale drafted her and drove on the inside,she said if she tried that she have been freight trained. She said she was a half trottle,so she had pleanty to give, she was afraid of taking the inside.But all I mean this is another example of old ways of running things.If you want to get her interview,it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks forgive me for the metaphor.
Here we go again Richie,
You living in NJ, me living in MT, I love your governor, but don’t consider him the sharpest tack in the box. I admire your passion, but it is so misdirected, that most can’t even follow your messages..
Yes, I am thick headed, Yes, I am a SOB, those are not new revelations, always have been, always will be. I sure would have loved to have you in one of my companies.
No General just the opposite I did my share of uprising in D.E.P. ,I love automation, and some big guys did not so we are not so far apart in composition,but in ideals we differ a great deal.P.S If yoy can get her interview she said things in not so many words,but she was frustrated,she was in third place guy.
Colonel, you dummy!
SB how would wildlifewatchers know to buy a hunting license come on man be real. You are thick !I would have no idea but to call Obama’s hotline really !
What the hell is Obama going to do? He has turned his back on anything do with wildlife and the environment, give me a break, learn your subject matter!
remember sb cruel is cruel no natter who does it or what country does it !trapping is cruel and inhumane a word I hate to use.Your correct this is useless.
I have to go, and actually attend to something, just got word that one of my best friends has been taken off life support and I would like to see her before she leaves, so stick to your fight
Now I’m curious as all hell. savebears is Richie G your Doppelgänger ?
They are torturing each other to death…and taking us with them…
To Mikepost and Immer Treue sorry guys it got out of hand on my part I apologize.
But Mike, you are in charge of the amount of torture you take, end the pain, don’t read it!
Your elk numbers are all messed up I count 24 units under objective and it takes 2 years of data to declare them under/over objective the trend is more like 40 units under. Also almost all the over units are in eastern Montana where there are very few wolves. Also the over units are in a area of severe drought I thought drought caused a decrease in elk numbers.
sb as I said remember the good times with your friend enough from both of us .
Ralph what are you saying Defenders policies are in a wrong direction ? Can you spell it out for me,are they doing the wrong thing ?
Was that last comment posted Ralph are defenders doing the wrong thing ?
No, Ritchie, they are not doing the wrong thing. The problem is generic. Fish and game agencies have the power of the State behind them to sell access to the body of wildlife, and they
have a constituency of hunters and fishers behind them who mostly want to keep the arrangement, especially to exclude outsiders.
I removed some of your more unpleasant comments to save bears and also some of his replies that no longer made sense with yours taken out, and for other reasons.
I think everyone should consider my recent comment to Rancher Bob about Defenders of Wildlife
Again Ralph I am sorry I got angury at his grade comment I will leave it at that. That was disrespectable to you and your site,but I offered my condolences he must be hurting. Now what do you mean is defenders advocating the killing of wildlife ? I really am confused ?
Richie,I didn’t say anything about Defenders killing wildlife
Again I am not clear do they have power in their numbers to cut down the killing and trepping of wolves and other wildlife. Did you read my other comments,do they have the ability to influence the ranchers association and the fish and game department to curtail on the trapping and killing of these animals ?
I am sorry I was reading your comment after I put up mine,but still does it mean defenders has no power even with their political contributions to ranchers for dead cows ?
I don’t think Defenders never got much credit for compensation of wolf depredations. First, losses were really too small to matter to most ranchers. Despite their claims of slaughter, in reality the ranchers didn’t even have the incentive to do the paperwork. Second, they were resentful of having to ask a private group. They were used to government, not their enemy compensating them. Finally, those did seek compensation were often pressured by livestock associations or their neighbours to be a martyr to the cause and suck up their loss or losses.
O.K. Ralph so defenders and earthjustice and westernwatersheds have no clot in this game correct?
So as sb said if I buy a hunting would that help and my first question so defenders has no real power,if a rancher wants to participate.to Ralph and could I write you a direct e-mail
To Ralph only he first said I was in the tenth grade and a dummy is not pleasent but you posted them and I did give condolences to him and his friend so I my sword down.But he drew first blood I always expalin my self the best I can without degrading anybody. But maybe he was hurting for his friend and he took it out on everybody.I consider him a nice person but someone who picks at the bad points many times I concede he is correct but thaT DOES not seem to help.I must say while Idahi Montana and Wyoming is doing I will visit on my next trip soon for drag racing and then to California Lugana beach. I hope to be out in washington state over the summer more drag racing,I am fixing my house and should have some spare resources.I am telling you all this because I respect you a great deal and admire what you are doing. Just to let you know about me I must have 25n to 30 boxes of ashes of all my doga nad cats over the years.One of my dogs now she is old too looks like a wolf,she can untie rope around the cabinet to get to her dog bones I have one more who has kindey problems the holistic vet said whey protien no falvor one. So I had four one chocolate dies one year on the 20th of Feb I put his dead body on his favorite couch outside on the pourch overnight and took him myself to the creamentor,I am bad at spelling my mother was a good speller.So that is me I bring all my animals to the creamation place my self and watch them put in the oven.I was brought a dog lover,I had strays at my house when I was about three to five years take after my mother,my father flew pigions racing homeing birds. So this message is for you not to be posted please !Thanks Ralph for all the good work you do one thing about me my work states I am honest,I am not always a team playes I want the best for the system,and that does not happen alot.Thanks again Richie Giallanzo mother maiden name Lindquest Swedish and German I am not all Italian.
Richie, when I feel I have to delete some unpleasant comments, I don’t have time to figure out who started it. I just try to get most of them removed in bulk. I’m on vacation, and instead of exploring the springtime desert, I am sitting in a motel with my tablet typing out stuff. So I am signing off now.
I did ask you not to post my message to you I guess you did not get that in time,Ralph.
Email me if you don’t want it public. If you post a comment, it is public!! I have no control over its appearance.
So I am kinda right no matter what organizations for wildlife do we are “you know the word”.So it is the ld boys club and theo have introduction of wolves shoved down the ranchers troats. So this brings us to a growing need to kill wolves by any means like in the 1800’s. Gas dens,trapping,planes, I have one site that writes to me the good wolf showing me a fat kids face smiling with an arrow almost through the eye of a wolf, Ralph and all who read this, this is horrible to view,others pictures of wolves with guts blown out,and some with buck shot in their stomach so they can die a slow death, is this right? These animals are going through horror just by a few who like to see animals in pain,Ralph this is sick period.
p.s. that you Ralph for answering me,I did not know how to e-mail you direct it’s o.k.
o.k. when you get this have fun !
I am an avid fly fisherman living in Wy, and I always pay for my license and conservation stamp. However, I spend most of my time watching wildlife, hiking through the wild areas of the Rockies. My problem with my money going to wildlife “management” practices is that the techniques used in modern management are simply for maximizing human take of game animals, and have nothing to do with the ecological health of the ecosystem. If we could have a management system that managed for native biodiversity, and not human interest (hunting, livestock grazing, timber harvest, etc.) I would gladly support the practice with monetary obligation.
See, there in is the problem, I won’t contribute until it changes and the agencies say, why should we change, if they are not willing to contribute.
Both sides are bull headed and won’t make a move until the other side does, currently it is a stalemate.
I’m sorry, but why would I contribute to the degradation of an ecosystem for the benefit of a small percentage of the population? I feel bad enough purchasing a fishing license, when the state continuously stocks non-native game fish. I am not saying people should not be allowed to fill their freezer with game, I just think current management practices should be reformed so as to benefit ecological stability. Change needs to happen at the universities that teach wildlife management. They need to emphasize conservation ecology in management practices to really change the way states run wildlife management. That change is happening, but it will take time to filter through the system.
What I was taught at the University and what was actual practice when I secured employment with a state game agency, we two entirely different things.
Real world and educational world are two entirely different ways of life.
Game agencies are funded by consumptive users, this never comes into it when you are school, the focus is biology and wildlife.
most people I think feel this way Ursas, we would gladly pay to not have wildlife killed!
The problem is not that hunting and trapping will eradicate wolves in the Rockies. The problem is that it will lower the population density below saturation. Wolves are a keystone species in the west, and the entire ecosystem suffers when their numbers are reduced. The only limit on wolves population should be resource availability, not human tolerance. On that note Bob, cattle are non-native range destroyers, and should be illegal and treated as an invasive species. Switch to Bison, they are native, contribute to the rangeland and taste better.
The main problem with you comment is management, I can take you around western Montana and show you a dozen Bison properties that are gravel patches. I can show you twice that number of ranches that are in better shape than any bison ranch you can show me. I’ll raise bison when the market tells me I can make a living at raising bison. The rest of you statement is a opinion of which your entitled.
Bob, for sure proper management is important when you are talking about managing a ranch. I was referring to the destruction to the range land by free range cattle. The mixed sage range land behind my property has been decimated by free range cattle. I just do not understand why it is acceptable to allow non-native species to roam free on public lands. If i were to release a small herd of European Fallow Deer I would be arrested for releasing a non-native species, I just don’t understand the disparity. On the wolf note, the only opinion in my post was about the limits on wolf population size, the rest of it is scientific fact. Just look at Yellowstone, before the wolf was reintroduced riparian areas were stripped bare, and no knew aspens had taken in thirty years. Now the ecosystem is starting to recover to the point of pre- European persecution. My opinion is that wolves should be able to remain at healthy populations, and science supports that opinion.
Ursas Vulpes (bear fox? foxy bear?) 😉 – you wrote:
“My opinion is that wolves should be able to remain at healthy populations, and science supports that opinion.”
I aim to reply to that statement with some friendly constructive criticism. What I see in your statement is an interesting mix of ethical arguments (“should”) with scientific observations (valid & reliable measurements of what wolves have done in places they’ve re-colonized).
Yes, wolves are playing a big role in ecosystems. It’s a dramatic role in places like Yellowstone’s Northern Range, where decades of neither human nor wolf pressure allowed elk populations to grow quite large. There is also evidence that the absence of wolves altered the behavior, foraging patterns, and distribution of elk.
If I read your statement correctly, you seem to be arguing that, now that science has documented what wolves can do in an ecosystem, society is ethically obligated to allow them to express the same role in all ecosystems that historically held wolves.
If that’s fair, then you’re arguing there’s an absolute ethical duty to ensure restoration of “healthy” wolf populations throughout their historic range. And by “absolute,” I mean that it’s a duty that can’t be denied or watered down by any other considerations.
Not trying to play gotcha, and maybe you are the rare purist, but most people look at the historic range map
and immediately discount states like Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania as candidates for restoration, due to lack of wild country and preponderance of private property. Delaware? Connecticut?
A lot of folks start out making the “absolute ethical imperative” argument, but then switch right over to “convenience/feasibility” arguments once the logic leads them to places like Iowa.
Collectively, I don’t think we as a culture intend to restore “healthy” populations of wolves to places like Ohio (sorry JB!). It would be a bloody, expensive, and futile stunt. So, Ohio (just as an example) is off the hook as to ethical imperatives?
I can see arguments to be made about western states with huge tracts of federal lands — that all of us own these lands, that we have enacted laws like the NPS Organic Act and the National Forest Management Act that express our intent to have thriving native biota on these lands.
I don’t see how those facts make a guy like Rancher Bob — who I seem to recall does not graze federal land, correct if wrong — the bearer of an extraordinary, non-negotiable, ethical imperative to accept great costs associated with wolves on his property, above and beyond what we expect of a landowner in Ohio.
[Here come the arguments about “subsidies.” Apart from subsidized corn being turned into beef in Midwestern feedlots, non-public-land ranchers get very little in the way of subsidies.]
Anyway, point being — my understanding of absolute ethical imperatives is that they are just that: absolute. They’re not absolute and non-negotiable in Wyoming, but negotiable and contingent on whether we feel like putting up with all the headaches once we get east of the 100th Meridian.
If we’re NOT talking about an absolute ethical imperative, the dialogue ought to have quite a different tone out here where we’re trying to work this stuff out. Such as, accepting that wolves can fully express their wolf-ness in fully-protected places like Yellowstone, yet maybe not achieve that same level of expression everywhere. Such as accepting that Rancher Bob does not have to switch to bison or ostriches in order to ranch without wolf conflicts.
I know that this kind of gray area can be extremely uncomfortable. It’s emotionally and cognitively taxing, and doesn’t have the dopamine-rich surge that goes along with righteous anger, the kind people get when they are sure they are right. But the gray areas are where warring parties might meet, sit down, and really make some progress.
(I think I just paraphrased the Sufi mystic Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” )
And what of the coyote in Ohio that has a fraction of wolf DNA in its genetic makeup? And in Delaware? And Connecticut? Is this fraction not ‘enough’? If not, what is? Could it be the wolf is already back, in a Way?
If I remember correctly, there some that are fighting to have the coywolf declared as a distinct population species. Is it Jon Way, that posts on here, every once in a while about them?
Ohio’s population density is 54 times that of Wyoming. If folks are interested in some wolf DNA existing in some live, wild creature somewhere within Ohio, have at it. The question I raised is about the prospects for free-ranging, self-regulating wolf populations playing out their full role in shaping ecosystems. As Chrissie Hynde tells it, the farms have been replaced by shopping malls, and the countryside has been paved. To say nothing of the Muzak.
SAP some of your argument might be more tenable if wolf related depredations were not so absurdly low in comparison to other forms of mortality for livestock. It would also have more merit if most ranchers were not waging such a destructive all out war on wolves by pushing for ever more extreme legislation and policies that are not in proportion to the “damage” wolves supposedly do to livestock.
“Such as, accepting that wolves can fully express their wolf-ness in fully-protected places like Yellowstone, yet maybe not achieve that same level of expression everywhere. Such as accepting that Rancher Bob does not have to switch to bison or ostriches in order to ranch without wolf conflicts.”
Not following your point, Louise.
I was asking Ursas whether we are working from an argument of absolute ethical imperatives (eg, “wolves must be allowed to reclaim their full, natural role in our ecosystems, and their effects on those ecosystems must be allowed to play out without any interference”, would be an example of such an argument); or whether we might take a more pragmatic view.
I was asking Ursas to clarify for me which position she was taking. If she sees it as a non-negotiable ethical duty to let wolf populations grow to the level that they have the same ecosystem-shaping effects they’re having inside Yellowstone, then the course of our collective actions should be very clear.
Myself, I doubt that many of us take this absolutist point of view. Thus we venture into the dreaded gray areas, figuring out what the goals for wolf recovery outside protected areas will look like, and how we’ll balance competing goals.
It’s late, so maybe I’m not tracking well, but tell me how your point about livestock death loss to wolves or the political machinations of the livestock lobby relates to my question about absolutist ethical arguments vs. pragmatism?
Are you saying that because death loss is comparatively low and is incommensurate with the level of anti-wolf hysteria, that . . . ??? That people who like wolves are now entitled to be illogical as well? That they can grandstand, too, with a bunch of their own righteous posturing? That because their side has abandoned reason, we don’t need to worry about whether our rhetoric is logically consistent?
And please note, it was Ursas who told Rancher Bob he needed to switch to bison, and that cattle ought to be “illegal.”
Ok, re-reading all of this, and I surmise that maybe, Louise, you skimmed through what I wrote, and the message you took away was, “this guy thinks we should feel sorry for ranchers,” or something to that effect. Your response makes way more sense in that context.
I’d guess that Rancher Bob doesn’t want or need me to take up his cause for him. And I sure didn’t mean for the take-away message to be, feel sorry for ranchers (although a good many of them seem to un-cowboyishly spend a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves).
Seriously, I’m just asking that we take a hard look at the arguments we make. What happens here a lot is very telling: various participants just scanning, Terminator-style, to determine whether the latest posts fall into the ally or enemy category. Or into the dreaded sub-category, those who ought to be allies but are traitors. Logic, principles, consistency don’t matter — it comes down to simply, “does this person’s posts reinforce with or conflict with my position?” If it’s too long or nuanced, ignore it or put ’em on the enemies list.
I agree on your later evaluation….
The point I was trying to make is that this is a ‘canid’ issue, not just a wolf issue, though sure I like wolves too (ALL kinds). My point is also that there is a ‘free ranging self regulating population’ of canids out there (even in JB’s Ohio…from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls), but recognition of this fact may set up some implications that many do not want to address.
I agree on your later evaluation….
The point I was trying to make is that this is a ‘canid’ issue, not just a wolf issue, though sure I like wolves too (ALL kinds). My point is also that there is a ‘free ranging self regulating population’ of canids out there (even in JB’s Ohio…from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls), but recognition of this fact may set up some implications that many do not want to address.
“Seriously, I’m just asking that we take a hard look at the arguments we make. What happens here a lot is very telling: various participants just scanning, Terminator-style, to determine whether the latest posts fall into the ally or enemy category.”
Not to say that doesn’t happen here, but I believe a lot more reading and comprehension goes on here, unlike other blogs, where the opposing view is not read, but just serves the function to load up for the next volley of often times gibberish.
late at night guilty of skimming….sorry! my apologies
last response to SAP and point taken on the skim. I am guilty as accused
I do that do, compadre. No apology necessary, and sorry for my late-night crankiness.
“do that too” meant to write. Midnight again and just off the road.
She is a he, I guess the bear fox thing can be confusing. Just two of my favorite animals to encounter in the wild. A few points… yes, I believe wolves and all extirpated species should be allowed to recolonize any historical range that is still suitable to them. If habitat in Ohio cannot support Canis lupis then they will not recolonize. We should just simply leave them alone, and allow them to do what they do. Greater Yellowstone is not a large enough area to sustain a healthy wolf population, as they will require emigration from adjacent populations to keep their genetic diversity high. I do not believe any non-game animal that is native should be hunted for any purpose…ever. The ecology of the ecosystem should be the focus of management. Yes, some of my opinions may be a little extreme, but it is not with anger that I express them. I simply use logical contemplation, and would describe my views as having Muir’s preservationism, mixed with Gandhi’s Ahimsa, combined with modern conservation ecology principles. I do not believe that humans, (which are non-native invasives) should be allowed to fundamentally alter the natural ecology of the world that has taken millions of years to shape. We should be better stewards of this amazing planet. The problem stems from a righteous arrogance in our species, where we feel entitled to anything we want, simply because we can take it. Most Americans are completely lacking in even the simplest philosophical ethic education. Just because we can do something, does not mean we should. I am sure this post will not be well received, again, I am not at all mad, I just wish to express my views clearly, and I understand, other people have their own opinion to which I believe they are entitled.
“I am sure this post will not be well received, again, I am not at all mad, I just wish to express my views clearly, and I understand, other people have their own opinion to which I believe they are entitled.”
I’m sure your comment will be well received by as many, as those who might disagree with said comment.
I agree with much of your general phillosophy, but question some of the specifics.
I understand what you mean perfectly.
I don’t understand the human being non-native invasive, we have been part of the evolutionary process for millions of years and we have immigrated into suitable habitat as other species have.
We are part of the system, we have exploited the strengths we have developed, which is not always good, but we are part of the system as a whole.
Apologies on the gender thing – I had transposed “Ursala” onto your moniker and assumed too much.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Your belief system does not totally match mine, but I do appreciate you taking the time to articulate it.
I think “non-game animal” and “suitable” both beg the question, though maybe I could guess what “game animal” might mean for you (guess is “you eat it”, maybe you wear it works too, don’t know). Near me (doves are a good example) it’s not “is it a game animal” it’s “should we make it one”.
Perhaps we don’t need to define suitable right now though. Where they show up in the future, and don’t get into fights with humans, it’s suitable. May not be enough to matter much though. I watch the spread in WI and MN with interest. Lower MI will be interesting too, in a while at least.
1) I reviewed a sportsman forum near me, and there’s no point lobbying in such places, unless you are just a stealthy question-asker. To suggest that wolfs are not over-abundant would just lead to banning. They tend to be strict since otherwise anti-hunters would disrupt every conversation – I understand that. That wolves are destroying our ungulates (and that this is bad) can’t be questioned.
2) I want more polished economic arguments, alla Lovejoy (for setting aside land for forests). I think it not impossible that it can be argued that the average people (in say Wisconsin), are financially better off without much wolf culling. Less crop damage, less car accidents, lots of little environmental services (more trout!), better regeneration of forests. Offsets might be a few less deer in hunter freezers, a few less deer licenses sold, a few less touron hunters (but maybe more tourons total – not sure), some dead chickens/sheep (perhaps compensated though), complex side effects due to changes in coyote numbers. Maybe I’ve not seen anyone give a serious try at the cost/benefit. Having good stuff there can matter.
Your #2 is spot on.
rork, this statement “That wolves are destroying our ungulates (and that this is bad) can’t be questioned.” is utterly ridiculous. There are many problems with this statement first of all is the use of the word “our”. Wild animals do not belong to humans any more than they belong to wolves. This is the type of arrogant entitled mindset pervasive in our culture I was referring to in my earlier post. Why any human hunter thinks that it is their right to be able to easily shoot an ungulate is beyond me. Secondly wolves are not “destroying” ungulates. Wolves cull the old, the sick, the weak, and the young from the herd. They strengthen the overall population by allowing the fittest to pass on their genes to the next generation. Contrarily most human hunters take the biggest strongest males out of the population contributing to an overall decline in fitness by allowing smaller/ younger males to acquire a harem they would not otherwise be able to secure. This is why trends in trophy size game has decreased over the last 200 years. It seems like most hunter’s arguments can be summed up as the wolves are taking ungulates, which makes it harder for me to find and shoot an ungulate. Do not tell me they are “destroying” ungulate populations, its flat out untrue.
I may have misread what you wrote, you may have meant the sportsmen forum used that sentiment, and if so, I apologize, but I hear that argument all the time, and it is nuts.
Yea, that was me parodying what other hunters say around Michigan. I’m a hunter that thinks more like you, so I’m OK.
Still: Wolves kill healthy deer too. I think we should admit that. Hunter may decry the loss of the fawns – most don’t really get the math about recruitment (hey, it’s tricky – we’ve been telling them for 15 years and they still don’t get it). I figure wolves really will decrease hunter success rates – and while that’s OK with me and you, my fellow deer eaters don’t like it, and I must admit it’s an impact on them. Telling them “it’s fine” won’t work that well.
I don’t know how much it really changes hunter success. In Michigan I see a certain forester often arguing for more wolves cause of the impact of too many deer is nasty for the land. I’ve never seen him go all the way to suggesting that, in the long run, having deer stay well below carrying capacity will actually increase the carrying capacity of the land for deer (it’s not just food, it’s the quality of winter cover – regenerating white cedar is hugely important north of me, and there are places where new white cedar haven’t been seen in decades). It’ll seem crazy if I suggest: more wolves, or more shooting of deer by humans, will lead to increased deer numbers in the long run. As you point out, the wolves are good at targeting which deer should go. It’s thought they take about 10% of upper peninsula deer per year – but deer breed like crazy, so it might not matter much, most years.
A single story about wolves killing a winter-yard full of deer has more impact on the hunters than our somewhat complicated words though.
You might want to check your genus spelling for “bear”…
my bad Jay, typing on a phone, didn’t notice till you pointed it out. Pointless to change now.
I agree with your philosophy as well and do not find it extreme, at all. I think its extreme to think we should be trophy hunting large game and restricting and killing predators to accommodate special interests especially when the end result does not achieve any goal
A friend who is a regular visitor to the Lamar to photographthe wildlife, and who lives close to YNP, made a suggestion that I think bears some consideration. I believe that the growing numbers of people who support the wolf re-introduction would consider purchasing some kind of “Wolf Supporter” card that could become a new revenue stream for the various fish and wildlife agencies. There are many ways it could work, either from an outside organization or under the auspices of the state agencies. If their funding streams are diminishing they might be open to this idea. Ranchers and the remaining population of hunters will resist but if funding is at the core providing a new income stream could have the benefit of creating leverage. Any ideas out there as how this could efficiently work?
I don’t understand how those that want such things as wildlife watcher funding programs to enrich state agencies coffers will bring about a lesser focus on ungulate hunting and less predator control. How will income from those organizations reduce or eliminate trapping and wolf hunting/any method goes, season from year long? All that will happen is legislatures will say “thank you very much” now stand aside as we continue business as usual. Also there is no guarantee that legislatures won’t draw off that “extra” money to state general expenses. The legislatures in the RM states generally are not supportive of increasing revenue to game agencies unless it is for canned fish programs or predator control. A lot of them have a Rex Rammel attitude already. I just think we have to change the political field before we start pouring money down a rat hole.
george, loved the article!!!! let’s talk about this on the radio. ksoo sioux falls, s.d. you have my email address
George do it go on radio,like we have here wbai,Gary Noel,big person on health and foods. In the past he had disscussions, on mad cow disease,mercury in our fillings etc. So George take it go on the radio.
I don’t feel that there is any true correlation between the Republican Party and the predicament of wolves. Please cite your sources for this information because I have a fairly strong disagreement with this. I personally do not affiliate myself with a political party, but I do have a tendency to lean more towards the Republican side. Yet, I am still a very strong supporter of the preservation of wolves. I know of many Democrats that hunt, and of many more that are against predators. Politics and ecology do not mix. Most of the supporters of an article such as this are yuppy Democrats that only support this because it is negative towards Republicans. And while many things such as gay marriage, immigration reform, and other ridiculous things may be becoming more ordinary in our lives, it does not make it right, nor does it necessarily make it the popular beliefs of this country. The biological and ecological aspects of this country should be left in the hands of scientists and professionals that actually have facts, make studies, and cite information professionally. Politics should be left among the social aspects of our lives and country. Trying to combine the two is equated to mental impairment. It’s ridiculous in other words. People are just people. Wolves are just going to be wolves. Instead of creating more rifts by pointing fingers and pinpointing differences in thought, we should focus on the things that bind us together. That, and only that, will allow this country to remain strong. “United we stand, divided we fall.” Sound familiar? The goal here is to help the wolves and to support the natural environments, if I understand the purpose of this article correctly. Then the purpose is not to point blame at the other party and talk about how nasty and mean they are. If that is the case, I believe that another more appropriate site, such as a political debate site, would be a better place for such rambling.