PEER files lawsuit on the political shenanigans behind the wolf delisting

Or does anyone really believe the wolf was delisted on the “best available science?”

Species are supposed to be delisted based on the “best available science”.  The recent controversy over the wolf’s delisting from the endangered species list is not just a flare up over competing values — wolves, love them or hate them.

An excellent argument, including a legal argument, can be made that it was delisted after some obscure political dealing — no transparency.

We have heard that the relevant governors were consulted in private. They wanted delisting, at least the Red State governors and Montana. The following is not confirmed, but we have heard that two Blue State governors, the Democratic governors of Oregon and Washington did not agree to delisting.  To confirm this story, readers might want to point blank contact their office and see.

The delisting came after a couple weeks delay that briefly raised hopes of wolf conservationists. PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) is suing to find out what was going on.  The suit was filed right after delay began and before the announcement of the final delisting.

These matters are supposed to be transparent. We have come to odd condition in this country where the government feels free to audit all your electronic business, but the laws that let you see them have been allowed to grow opaque.

There are those who will cheer the delisting of the wolf regardless, but the question remains how were the consultations carried out, and why were hosts of relevant scientists ignored and their objections both, public and private, never answered? Recently, Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter provided The Wildlife News with a letter on this signed by a number of  his colleagues.

There rarely is complete scientific consensus, but scientists expect that their well put questions be answered. Secrecy has no place in scientific endeavor. It is the method of trying to hide something, for good or for ill, but it is not the scientific method. If an astronomer, for example, says he has discovered a new exo-planet,  he or she will not be believed if they refuse to provide data or answer questions.

A democracy cannot persist where the people are spied on if they are not told the reasons, even if it is for the best of reasons.  That coupled with secret decisions foretell dark days to come.

Here is a news release on the PEER lawsuit.

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Here is another commentary and analysis.  Proposed ending of federal gray wolf protection: Another case of setting science aside? Climate Science Watch.



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  1. ernie meyer Avatar
    ernie meyer

    keep me posted on his matter… im sure there is a lot more going on behind the scenes from the Rocky mountain elk foundation and the safari club lobbying for this delisting.

  2. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    There has been very little based on “the best scientific data” from the get-go. Instead we have had about two decades of everything “but” best scientific data form both sides.

    For example there are those that are STILL arguing about whether a wolf is a wolf is a wolf depending on where in a 700 mile radius, with NO limiting geographic features, a particular wolf, or its Great, great, great grandparents lived. Haysoos Cristo! Get the uc over it already.

    It seems to me that had all the effort and resources spent on the reintroduction instead been allocated to protecting the already natural in- migration taking place(and not just in Montana), then we would have been further ahead at this juncture.

    What should come as no surprise is that as soon a the politicians get involved the outcome is guaranteed to be a disaster.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Ha! Yes, I think you are right.

    2. Mike Avatar

      ++It seems to me that had all the effort and resources spent on the reintroduction instead been allocated to protecting the already natural in- migration taking place(and not just in Montana), then we would have been further ahead at this juncture.++

      Except it wasn’t taking place in the west, so this is a terrible idea.

  3. Lyn McCormick Avatar
    Lyn McCormick

    What was/is Secretary Jewell’s position on this ? I thought she was all about science based decisions. Her own state Governor voted against delisting

  4. WM Avatar

    ++The following is not confirmed, but we have heard that two Blue State governors, the Democratic governors of Oregon and Washington did not agree to delisting. ++

    Interesting statement. If new WA governor Jay Inslee made such a statement, it would seem to go against what Governor Gregoire and her Wildlife Commission had seemed to indicate before. And, I think Wildlife Commission Chair Miranda Weiker may not know the new gov has such feelings. The WA Wolf Planning process, I thought, was predicated on the idea WA would like do what it wanted to do with less interference from the feds (except they do like the federal money). Delisting for the entire state (instead of the easternmost 1/3 covered by the FWS 2008 rule/Congressional rider), of course, would accomplish that.

    I also believe this PEER suit may very well add gas to the fire that feeds Rep. Doc Hastings, Chair of the House Committee that would initiate changes to the ESA.

    I am inclined to believe these idiots at PEER are stirring the hornets nest.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “I am inclined to believe these idiots at PEER are stirring the hornets nest”

      So WM, for those of us here that aren’t as familiar with PEER as you seem to be (with the above statement) why do you think they might be “stirring the hornet’s nest?”

    2. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      As long has we continue to get no resistance and/or appeasement from our Commander in Chief, you may be right.

      I think the rock needs to be turned over so the general public can see just how corrupt things are.

    3. Jimt Avatar

      Well, if the nest is allowed to grow without disturbance, what happens?

  5. WM Avatar

    And, by the way, IF Inslee is taking/has taken a stand against delisting from a WA perspective, it might prove interesting in and of itself. Critics have wondered if he really would represent WA (all of it) after spending so many years in Congress representing a district on the west side of the Cascades. Maybe they will get their answer early on (he’s been pretty quiet otherwise).

    The Western Governor’s Conference is later this month in Park City, UT. Bet there will be some buttonholing around the waterhole between sessions, and newbie Governor Jay will be high marked by some of his peers (no pun intended).



    I think kicking/stirring the hornet’s nest will give Doc Hastings and his anti-ESA cadre of R’s in the House the very excuse they need to mess with the ESA in ways that won’t be favorable to most here.

    In other word, in bureacratic-speak, it is a talking point with legs, or adds substance to an issue as an example. The federal government telling states what to do is always a fun topic, made better if it has the perception of the employees of government telling elected officials of states/agencies what to do, rather than listening carefully to their concerns, and hoping an existing federal law is flexible enough to accomodate them.

    1. CodyCoyote Avatar

      Total aside here: WHEN and where is that June meeting of the Western Governors ? My Wyoming Governor Matt Mead just announced he’s going to Canada on a trade mission for a week-10 days.

      Last eyar when the Western Governors met outside seattle in June to talk about things like pushing coal thru western seaports to sell to China, Guv mead was already in China to —ta da! —sell Wyoming coal , instead of attending the Western Governors meet where they also talked about alternative renewable energy , tourism, job creation.

      Matt he no like having to face his peerage on such issues. Wolves really make him want to be somewhere else…

      1. WM Avatar


        Link to the WGA Conference: Agenda link is in the right margin.

        Looks a like there are two lead-off, “I am from the federal and here to help you,” sessions. The first is with Sally Jewell, new DOI Secretary, followed by a second with FWS Director Dan Ash; the latter is moderated by Governor Butch, which should make it most interesting. Love to be a fly on the wall for those. No doubt Sally will get waterhole time too.

    2. JimT Avatar

      WM, the House is so marginalized right now, even GOP Senators won’t go along with anything like this. Ironically, it is the Obama ignorance/indifference to any kind of resource or land environmental issue that is the greater danger.

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        He really has been a disappointment.

  6. cobackcountry Avatar


    That just highlights one of the biggest issues many voters face. If you believe in conservation, a scientific approach to resource management, and greener alternatives, yet you are conservative- you will struggle to vote republican. Like wise, if you are more liberal, you will struggle to find a democrat you feel stands up and fights for the above values.

    Who do you vote for if you are smart enough to see neither side has the greater good in mind?

    Although I agree with the premise that not enough science has been used, I also agree that right now we are pushing the boundaries of the ESA’s future. If you are liberal leaning, you can look forward to about 8 years if upheaval thanks to recent gun legislation ruffling the feathers of the once passive right wing…or for that matter, the middle of the road voters like myself.

    Can I just say, damned if we do, damned if we don’t!

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      And damn the torpedos. 🙂

  7. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    From the great Shape Shifter* himself:

    WM writes: I am inclined to believe these idiots at PEER are stirring the hornets nest.”

    Oh, really. Well then what do you think they would think of these quotes from retired Shape Shifter?

    “A little blood satisfies a lot of anger. At the end of the day, wolf management has nothing to do with science. It’s all about how many wolves people will tolerate” (in response to the fact that 2000 wolves were taken BEFORE DELISTING!)


    1. JB Avatar


      Can you provide a citation or link for the above quotation?

  8. Valerie Bittner Avatar


  9. ernie meyer Avatar
    ernie meyer

    perhaps we should look instead at educating ranchers away from free range ranching and try to teach hunters that trophy hunters are from an era long gone and like the age they were in should dissapear into the history books.

  10. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    ADDENDUM: The caption about Ed Bangs being a shape-shifter is from a 2002 Edition of Range Magazine — not exactly a paradigm of liberal thinking!!

    BTW, at the end of the article, the author noted the complete absence of wolf photos handing in Bang’s office notwithstanding that the draft delisting plans had beautiful wolf images on their covers.

  11. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    Addendum: According to Carter N’s “Wolfer”, 2002 was also the year Bangs “rubber-stamped” (his descriptive) the ID and MT plans.

  12. Richie G. Avatar
    Richie G.

    In essence our government has changed under Obama, more than I like to say. Some thing he is giving in to the right to get something passed that is false in my opinion. He is the worst democratic I ever seen ,keeping Sally Jewel behind close doors ,he was afraid of the questions. As I recall she was in banking first ,that says it all. Bernie Sanders is on Friday with Tom Hartman ,in that hour you find out many things. Just heard Bernie last night, he is against listening to peoples phone calls ,he states it’s against the constitution. I bring this up because making laws behind close doors is not the American way Bush started it and Obama follows it. So PEER is right if a hornets nest is opened let it be. Thank Jerry for taking such a courageous stand, he is a man with integrity, Ralph you are lucky to have such a person on your site. Not to discount the many who believe in what you do. I am lucky to have found your site too, hank you for all the truth you bring to this forum. P,S. I hope this wakes up our government to see we are all not just puppets.

  13. Richie G. Avatar
    Richie G.

    opps thank you for all the truth you bring to us

  14. Valerie Bittner Avatar

    JB. Yes I can! Got to go to my archived material. I will post either today or this coming weekend when I get back from a trip.

    BTW, Dr. Bradley Bergstrom, author of the MUST READ — the most incisive and cogent article I’ve read among hundreds: “The Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Is Not Yet Recovered (BioScience/Dec. 2009) and Chair of the American Society of Mammalogists)confirmed telephonically with me that Ed Bangs was the driving author re: 2008 and 2009 delisting rules.

    I can’t help but think that the lawyers for PEER would be aware of the above-referenced statements (made to news interviewers or at least they should be even though statements weren’t in affidavits (I surmise).

  15. Valerie Bittner Avatar


    Another interesting read: Ed Bang’s “Cool Head For Controversy” (The Wildlife Professional, March 2013) His closing comment:

    “Enjoy the ride. Helping to conserve nature can
 be an honorable and personally fulfilling career, but it isn’t always easy. Making a difference requires persistence, which requires a passionate, hopeful heart. One of the achievements I am proudest of
was that our interagency team that conducted wolf reintroduction and management for nearly 20 years received an FWS award as Recovery Champions.
We were, on average, the oldest-aged group to be so recognized, as most of us had been involved in wolf management for decades. Having a program that could retain talent and teamwork, despite the external controversy, internal pressures, and our personal and agency differences, was deeply rewarding.

    The graduate students, volunteers, and seasonal biologists, who started their careers with us now help lead state and tribal wolf conservation pro- grams in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington. Leading ethical professional behavior by example and helping to develop talent in those who will follow is the biggest contribution a professional can make. As I look at today’s state* and programs and the professionals involved, I know the future of wolf conservation is in good hands.”

    *Compare with regulation promulgated by Idaho Fish and Game on July 16, 2012 sanctioning wolves as the only trophy game animal allowed to be trapped, skinned, and slice and diced as trap bait to kill more wolves in order “to further reduce the wolf population as fast as possible” (a telephonic conversation with Deputy Director Dave Compton (March 2013)

    1. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Good ol Ed Bangs, he has lied about a lot of things.
      What I like the most he didn’t file the apropriate environment impact statement for wolves and he also failed to file form 3-177 required for importation of any species including wolves.

  16. Real Nice Guy Avatar
    Real Nice Guy

    I fear that trophy populations are now being called “viable” recovered populations, like the bison. Furthermore, it is clear that those trophy populations can only be tolerated in national parks. “Best science” has clearly been replaced by “best politics.” Compound this with state wildlife management plans consisting of a single directive to extirpate any animals on non-federal lands and it looks like doomsday all over again for the threatened species. (I mean threatened in the general sense, not necessarily the ESA sense.)

  17. alf Avatar

    One can hardly feel reassured by the way Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are handling delisting in those three states

  18. Mike Avatar

    I just donated to PEER.

    Go get ’em.

  19. john Avatar

    Most transparent administration ever!!

    “i don’t know” i don’t remember” i wasn’t there, I didn’t hear that, that was not my responsibility, i don’t know who said that, i don’t know who started that, we are not spying on americans, at least not wittingly, uh, went to the easter egg roll,,,

    why should you expect a different result when it comes to lowly wolves..

  20. Mtn Mamma Avatar
    Mtn Mamma

    “We have heard that the relevant governors were consulted in private”

    So relevant governors are those whose states already have established populations?? These states already have wolf management plans in place. It seems to me that states who fall within historic range but no reestablished wolf populations and no wolf management plans in place should also be consulted. Who knows, maybe the currently Blue State of Colorado’s Fracking Fluid Drinking Gov. John Hickenlooper would have 2 cents on wolves.

  21. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Here’s a survey done last year re Montana residents’ tolerance of wolves. It doesn’t bode well for future management.

    USFWS saying that the gray wolf’s range wasn’t/isn’t on the East Coast is an out-and-out falsehood and not accepted by all scientists. Canis lycaon as a distinct species is not official and not accepted by all scientists. But yet the USFWS went ahead and removed the grey wolf from endangered species protection for the reason listed above and recognized Canis lycaon as a distinct species and not Canis lupus lycaon. Is C. lycaon protected as and endangered species?

    This gradual chipping away at wolf protections and the ESA has obviously been in the works for some time. It will be interesting to see what PEER finds and why the USFWS did not produce the documents that were requested. I hope they didn’t tamper with them or destroy them.

    Far from being a conflict of interest, they are important as whistleblowers and serve an important ‘internal affairs’ function.

    I agree Mike, go get ’em, PEER.

    1. Richie G. Avatar
      Richie G.

      Are they for real, the government will do anything to get their point across, Obama is no different than Bush in many respects.


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

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