Wolf Management Policy in the West — Is Compromise Possible?
Recent conversations with scientists at conferences, along with several comments made recently by readers of The Wildlife News got me thinking about this question. In one of the more bleak moments, a reader commented:
After years of reading and posting here, I finally got enough that I spoke out. I am a conservationist, I commit time, money and my heart to being a part of solutions. I may have finally lost all hope that there are any! It feels like reading here can do the same damage as beating my head with a sledge hammer! Nobody wants to listen, or learn—-just preach and demoralize others who differ in opinion from them.
I have certainly felt similarly of late. It seems that a variety of groups are more interested in using the wolf issue as tool to promote an agenda, than in finding a reasonable policy compromise that has a chance of appeasing the various interested parties. After a bit of reflection, it occurred to me that some of the data we’ve collected recently might assist in finding an answer. Specifically, I returned to a survey of readers of The Wildlife News that we conducted back in March of 2011, right before wolves were removed from federal ESA protections. In this survey we asked several questions about policy preferences, and we also asked people the extent to which they identified with a variety of interest groups (e.g., hunters, environmentalists, etc.). I went back to these data and correlated support for each management policy with interest group identification. The results (see Table 1., below) highlight policies that will promote conflict, but also provide some indication of where compromise will be found. I used color codes to help with the interpretation. In order to avoid help avoid bias, I designated color codes using Cohen’s (1988) interpretations of effect size: yellow indicates little to no correlation between group and the policy, green indicates positive correlation, red indicates negative correlation; the strength of the effect is indicated by the darkness of the color–darker colors indicating a stronger effect.
I’m providing these data to stimulate dialogue regarding reasonable compromises. I am not trying to promote any particular agenda or policy, so I will refrain from interpreting this table any further except to say that I’ve highlighted (in bright yellow) two other important numbers (i.e., variance and item mean). Variance can be interpreted as the amount of variability across respondents on any given answer. So lower variability means less disagreement. Likewise, I’ve highlighted the the only policy that had a positive mean score (which could be interpreted as the most support). A word of caution: these data were collected via online solicitation of readers here at The Wildlife News; this should not be considered a representative sample of the general public. I look forward to an interesting discussion!
Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter is an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University where his research interests are centered around the human dimensions” of wildlife conservation and management. Jeremy is passionate about wildlife–at one time or another, he has called himself hunter, angler, and wildlife photographer. Most of all, Jeremy is concerned with bringing the tools and techniques of the social sciences to bear on pressing issues in wildlife management.
266 Responses to Wolf Management Policy in the West — Is Compromise Possible?
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I have been theorizing for a long time on a politics blog that our elected officials, especially in Congress, have no actual interest in solving problems, whether environmental/conservational, financial, immmigration, etc. Solutions involve compromise, which extreme partisans do not tolerate, and those partisans typically dominate nominating processes. Maintaining the issues arguments maintains political wedge issues that the politicians find useful for electoral purposes. Wedge issues raise money, draw votes, and establish political credence. Problem solutions take all that away. So, compromise might indeed be impossible.
“finding a reasonable policy compromise that has a chance of appeasing the various interested parties.” Compromise. The accepted definition seems to be if everyone loses then something wins – usually that “something” is the government and not the environment which in this case is the wolf. Brower used to say “compromise should not begin with us” and my friend Martin Litton said at an event last year “I never found it useful to be reasonable.” I guess I’m one of those old school hard headed people who doesn’t want to compromise. We have compromised away about 98% of the world’s environment. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of us to fight for the remaining 2%. The wolf was sold out – not by politicians or corporations but by the national environmental community including Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity among others. They are the reason the wolf is no longer protected under the ESA. And why did they do it _ politics. They gambled and they lost. Perhaps instead of asking whether or not we should be compromising on wolf issues, we should be holding these sell out groups accountable for what they did and quit sending them money. My 2 cents.
Well said. Where is the compromise coming from the side that wants to delist/manage/annihilate wolves? I don’t see it at all – just going for as much as they can get, the latest being removing protections for the entire lower 48. These people cannot be trusted, if you want my honest opinion.
The delisting was the biggest compromise by wildlife advocates – pushed through Congress by force, not agreed upon except by PEER’s alleged backroom deals. Now it’s up to them to prove that they can handle the responsibility of managing a barely recovered species, and handle the privilege of hunting them, and they have failed miserably, right out of the gate. What do to about Yellowstone collared wolves and ongoing studies, and a buffer zone around Yellowstone and Teton parks, and the corridor between them before delising in the lower 48?
Delisting was done under the regulations and parameters of the ESA. The conditions for that were set before reintro occurred.
Would you suggest changing the way the ESA determines those parameters?
I can concede, we may need to re-evaluate the scientific requirements of the ESA. Having said that, we must be very careful when we start tweaking things, because either side stands to lose a lot.
I also have to say, these animals and ecosystems are assets we are all invested in. There should be no side, just a standard which is scientifically based to assure what the ESA, and in fact all our Natural Resources laws, achieve what they are designed to do.
Would you agree?
Center for Biological Diversity sold out? You must be kidding.
And you advocate for “no compromise.”
Then you are going to withold money from national groups.
Good luck with your strategey, there, Denise. Do you also wear a tin foil hat when advocating from whatever planet you are on?
WM and Jim T, you don’t know your facts. I know all about Tester, Obama and Salazar and have been quoted in the media regarding the rider that permitted delisting. The sellout with Defenders and CBD et al. Had to do with their lawsuit. They cut a deal with the admin. And withdrew their lawsuit and then got screwed by the admin. It’s the grassroots that continued the legal battle. CBD tried to cover their butt after the fact but if you know the facts they speak for themselves. I think WM is the one wearing the tin hat. You should know what you’re talking about before you criticize. And no I don’t give one dime to national groups. Collectively they bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually and have nothing to show for it. It is the underfunded, principled grassroots groups who bring about real change. I’ve been doing this work for 30 years and have many successes to show for it. And I didn’t win any of them by compromising. Nuff said.
Well, Denise, the continuing legal battle which you seem to condone has been a part of the problem that has generated the leverage for much of what you see unfolding right now.
Throw on the added weight of HSUS and WildEarth Guardians. I can name the suits and some of absurd alleged causes of action if you like, as well as the evidentiary issues that stirred the pot. I do bring them up from time to time here, recognizing that most folks, especially the most strident pro-wolfers really don’t want to understand the damage it does to their cause. Some of the regionals haven’t helped the cause either. Let me just say the legal challenge to the rider was a fool’s errand, but lawyers have to do what their client’s want.
This wolf thing is going to box the ESA in, to the point it may very well change-and not in a good way- or you see more end runs codifying administrative rules as acts of Congress as the rider did. And, if you think local/regional advocacy groups can do better in DC, good luck, because you simply don’t have the leverage.
I saw an announcement a few days back that Defenders was running a workshop in the heart of wolf country this week covering non-lethal methods, with scientists, advocates, ranchers and even a former WS wolfer present. And where are the folks who were unwilling to compromise? Sitting behind their computers grumbling, perhaps?
Well, that didn’t take long, now did it. Let’s see… two posts before the derogatory and spiteful invective started flying like the proverbial shit hitting the fan.
When an article of this nature is published, then you should expect many different opinions to be posted and I suspect that JB fully expected it to be discussed and it is going to be discussed by all sides of the issue.
Sure did, though I’d hoped we might see a bit more nuance. It seems to me that there is a lot of grumbling right now about the unfairness of the delisting that sounds much like the grumbling that occurred for years after the listing. Wolves are going to be killed under state management, and I think re-listing is a pipe dream. So the policy question is: Under what conditions is it acceptable to kill wolves?
You know better, “What Conditions” That is going to vary widely depending on which side of the issue you are on. The hunters here, find it acceptable to kill wolves during the hunting season and the pro wolf people rarely find it acceptable to kill wolves. Then you throw in a few ranchers, who find it acceptable anytime a threat, real or perceived is felt.
One cannot negotiate a compromise without knowing the positions of the interested parties. So I’m simply trying to determine what those positions are (the above data helps a bit). I fully expect answers will vary widely.
Simply put, IMHO, with the various views on here and in the west over the last 20+ years, there is not going to be a compromise brokered.
If a compromise were possible, we would not have seen the extreme step of using a Congressional rider to just delist the Idaho and Montana wolves.
And please don’t take me wrong, I have been in the middle most of the time on this issue and have not yet seen a compromise proposal that is acceptable by either side. I have been in and around this and other wildlife issues for many years now, hell here in Montana, it has taken a Supreme Court judgement/opinion to say, yes, Bison can be moved!
JB & SB,
First, let me say I am glad to have contributed toward any initiative to find a compromise.
Next, I’d like to say that the data shown confirms what I have long known. The more you regulate, the more you lose support. (Or so I would interpret). What is important to note is that those who are least supportive of a highly regulated/protected wolf population are also those who contribute most financially.
Would it be more prudent to ax the non-hunting sector more? Would it have been wiser to have held out for delisting until we had a better vision and more science to support ESA assertions of viability?
I think it would be very beneficial for people to better understand the laws and policies that govern this issue. There is a huge lack of comprehension about management and history of law here.
I’d suggest that someone more educated than I, give some basic lessons on here? Say, a history of management thread? Some background? Perhaps, if people understood how, and why, laws were made, where money comes from, they’d put more thought into how they could effect change?
Denise…I know that you are one of the very few who knows what went on when Defenders and CBD and a few other groups met behind closed doors to sell out the wolves for political reasons.
Yep…I also know what went on, and I can tell you that you’re wasting your time here trying to educate these people about the gamble Defenders, in particular, and others lost.
And you’re correct….those commenting here are only speculating, and don’t know what they’re talking about but, unfortunately, they have taken contol of this blog and driven others away with their condescending attitude.
Someday, I hope someone writes an account of that meeting and that decision to throw wolves under the bus.
Denise….thanks for your comments.
I agree. Mainstream environmental groups have compromised far too much over the years. In the mean time, wildlife and the habitat they depend on for survival continue to be destroyed. Where is the compromise from those engaging in all of the destruction? I don’t see it, nor have I ever. Indeed, if they had ever compromised at all, the unprecedented damage we are seeing regarding wildlife and wild places would not be occurring. I say it’s time to take a stand, before it’s too late. As one of my favorite environmental writers has stated: “We’ve been too kind to those who are killing the planet. We’ve been inexcusably, unforgivably, insanely kind.”
Who then would speak for wolves? Voters? (MI fiasco comes to mind). I agree in principle with what you say, but if you silence the loudest voices (mostly) supporting wolves, there’s no pressure against the other side to change. Wolf support will be ignored by an organized opposition. I’d say maybe change the leadership of the present organizations, if anything. The wheels haven’t fallen off the cart, the cart just needs a new direction. (director?)
It should be science and policy that speaks for any species. When individuals are left to regulate an emotional issue, emotions will keep them from succeeding.
That all sounds good, but it isn’t what ultimately succeeds, as we can see going on right now. Science is ignored when it doesn’t suit one side’s view, or when there’s a profit to be made. Scientists have sent letters to the USFWS saying that a national delisting is premature, and the letters are being ignored. So we can talk about how we would like it to be all day, but we have to deal with the reality that it isn’t what we’d like it to be.
While one should not being overly emotional in making decisions, reason needs to be tempered by some emotion – many terrible things have been done in the world left to reason and science only. And science isn’t perfect either. Things change all the time, and sometimes can be quite contradictory.
True, but would it be emotion? Or conscience? It’s so varied, that would be like teaching The Bible in public schools. Who’s version or interpretation? I agree….it’s hard to separate it all.
So, it SHOULD be is correct. It is NOT, also correct. So what could we do to change that? If we could, how would we?
It’s a way to squelch argument and dissent, quite frankly. Accuse someone of being ’emotional’, and then there’s a good chance their opinions won’t be taken seriously because of course, we all want to be thought of as ‘reasonable’. But the truth is all of our decisions are tempered by some emotion, because we are human.
I can see that being true. I also agree that a total separation of emotion and actin is non-existent.
Emotion isn’t the problem. Emotion helps give meaning to these debates. Any issue you feel strongly enough about to be active in is likely to elicit emotional responses, at least some of the time. It’s when we abandon rational arguments grounded in science for ‘good feeling’ emotional appeals that we fall short of Jefferson’s ideal. I see it here all to frequently– that is, people taken in by an argument that while it appeals to the heart strings,could be easily dismissed with a bit of critical thinking. When an impassioned person gives in to ‘feels good’ judgments, their effectiveness as an advocate is diminished. Their opinions are easily dismissed by decision-makers as the biased ramblings of someone who will accept any argument that supports their policy goal. This, more than anything, is what I spend time ‘crusading’ against on this forum.
Sadly, that it true.
Denise, you really don’t know about how the Tester Amendment came about, do you? It wasn’t CBD, or Defenders or any of the other wildlife groups. It was Obama, and Salazar. THEY made the political calculation that the Senate had to stay Democrat, and that Tester was vulnerable. So, the wolf was sacrificed on the altar of DC politics. The enviro groups were brought in to a briefing a few days before the whole deal went down, and there was not a hint from Salazar about this gutting of the ESA. You folks who blame these groups are in error; it was the current admin that drove this. And you don’t have to look far to see confirmation. Look at the current delisting rule for the lower 48..you blame the national groups for that too? Or is this just Obama saying he is tired of the whole mess out West and is punting it to the states..and the wolf pays the price with a second extinction in the lower 48…
The general “compromise” has already been made. Wolves are here, and I shake my head at this, but as soon as delisting occurred, the hunting began. The delisting was more political than biological, but its done. The pendulum has swung in the direction of wolf reduction, me thinks, rather than actual management as per any other game species. The disengenuous rhetoric on both extremes needs to disappear.
That said, seasons have been established. Do they need to be tweaked! Yup. Therin lies the compromise. The stone I toss in the house of glass is at the triple S, gut shooting and poison advocates. I wish them nothing but the deepest, darkest misery, something on which I will not compromise.
Immer hits the nail on the head those who did not want wolves compromised by allowing wolves. Over 500 wolves now live in Montana. There is not a movement to totally remove that population. Get over it grow up there are wolves in the RMA. That’s what people wanted so that’s what people received.
Is every one happy, answer no. That’s a compromise, find a position where most the people are happy. The 10% extreme on either end can just suck it up.
Management of wolves is new the learning curve steep, over time we will learn.
The compromise occurred 20 years ago.
Anyone who thinks wolves will be wiped out in the lower 48 again doesn’t know much about wolves.
Well wolves were indeed wiped out 80 years ago and it doesn’t look like there’s much in the way of wiping them out again … 500 wolves in 150,000 square miles doesn’t seem like much.
I don’t think there was any compromise involved in delisting. It was pretty much a given from re-intro.
As for hunting, still no compromise to be found. Why? Because the government and special interests are the only real contributory factor. (State and federal levels being represented and special interests advocating….but no real individuals, nobody without an agenda)
I think where there is still room for compromise is from private people, and private land owners. How do we convince your average rancher that WE can help him to keep his cattle safe if HE lets wolves be? Then, how do we accomplish that? Or for that matter, what incentive can we give for the rancher to refrain from killing or allowing hunting on his land?
Wow. A whole page of posts bitching at each other and not a single mention of the correlations shown in the graph at the top of the page – information that could be used to shape compromise.
The whole post is intended to get us to rationally discuss options, if there are any. Maybe some folks missed that part?
I see a lot of helpful data in the graph. But, it will be mainly useful to people who care about the opinions of others and how they impact the management of wolves.
I found the data to be validation of a lot of people being less right or left, and more squarely in middle on the issue. I think the middle is sorely lacking of representation during the making of policy and management decisions.
I think non-biased science is even less represented.
Jim T. writes:”Denise, you really don’t know about how the Tester Amendment came about, do you? It wasn’t CBD, or Defenders or any of the other wildlife groups. It was Obama, and Salazar. THEY made the political calculation that the Senate had to stay Democrat, and that Tester was vulnerable. So, the wolf was sacrificed on the altar of DC politics. The enviro groups were brought in to a briefing a few days before the whole deal went down, and there was not a hint from Salazar about this gutting of the ESA.”
Very cogent and accurate assessment. HOWEVER, the question remains: WHY did the enviro coalition and their lawyers fail to petition a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (as NEPA “imposes a CONTINUING DUTY to supplement an existing EIS IN RESPONSE to significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns ..”) to examine a revised base recovery target (aka minimum viable population standard of 30O to 450 wolves depending on the degree of deployment of “adaptive management”)given enormous advancements in the best available science in the realms of conservation ecology, biology, metapopulation genetics, wolf behavior, etc.
This failure, was according to the nation’s foremost legal expert on recovery under the ESA (Distinguished Law Professor Dale Goble of the Univ. of Idaho), was the single biggest mistake the enviro coalition made prior to 2009 promulgation of the first delisting rule (ref: my pers. con. with Goble, June 2012).
Forgive the pun, but I cried “wolf” about this omission at the 20th annual North American Wolf Conference during my lecture: “Wolves in the Crosshairs.” There was still time to correct the course but I surmise that the environmental leaders for DOW who were present feared losing a seat at the table inside the Beltway.
Instead, they hung their case on the very tenuous thread of whether or not there was genetic connectivity between the three core recovery zones and the lack of a suitable wolf “conservation” plan.
When IFG was able to pull a few DNA samples out of their pocket, the enviro’s lead geneticist, Dr. Robert Wayne had to reverse course and testify via affidavit that there was in fact genetic connectivity.
All poor Judge Molloy was left with rather than being to invalidate the administratively unchallenged base recovery standard was invalidation on the basis of the illegal removal of Wyoming from the D.P.S. along state lines Sen. Tester (a/k/a Testacles) ran with what he framed a political argument all the way to the ethically bankrupt rider.
What’s especially troublesome and ironic is that Jamie Rappaport, now president of Defenders of Wildlife, was head of the USFWS during the relatively friendly Clinton administration! SHE could have had that murderous, scientifically baseless standard changed! NOW, she’s “crying wolf” and begging for dollars. All so very late!
Valerie, can we please get over the name calling and innuendo, I dislike Tester but come on!
Sorry about the name. It slipped out from a writing project I’ve been working on!
On the other hand, can’t you be SPECIFIC: WHAT innuendo??
Rancher Bob writes:
“That’s a compromise, find a position where most the people are happy.”
Rancher Bob, if you had an extended family and all were wiped out (New York Times op-ed” “In Idaho, hunters and trappers killed 698 wolves in the last two seasons — more than the estimated population of the 683 wolves in the state at the end of 2012.”)and while being dispatched were tortured by traps were sliced and diced to trap more of your family members, would you consider that a “happy compromise?”
One of the impasses I believe we see here, is a certain segment of the population assigns human emotions and traits to the wolves and certain parts don’t.
Family unit, is not something that is seriously taught in wildlife biology classes, and as a person that holds that degree, I don’t foresee a time that this will come into the management of wolves or any other wildlife species.
Whether “family unit” is taught or not in wildlife biology classes, I don’t think recognizing the importance of the wolf pack to wolves has anything to do with assigning human traits or emotions to wolves.
that is a very good observation.
It really is disastrous. Delisting is one thing, but the killing frenzy that ensued after it really is hard to wrap my mind around. For example, it seem that no matter what science shows about the effects on ungulates, or decreases in wolf populations, the states want to hunt more in each successive year. I will never forgive the Democrats for opening the door to this.
The Chippewa were entitled to 85 wolves, but the tribes are adamantly opposed to hunting wolves and didn’t kill a single one.
Gotta love ’em. ((((((Chippewa!)))))
With our human emotion, it may very well be disastrous to you, but only time will tell if it is disastrous to the wolves. See this is what I was talking about, human emotion is not part of wildlife management..
The pro wolf side is pushing, and pushing for science based management, but in comments the human aspect always comes out.
Here in Montana, we still have a strong population of wolves and it does not seem that they will go away anytime soon, we have wolves coming in from the north and packs establishing themselves all the time, in addition the reintroduced wolves are also expanding their ranges.
I hope you are right, SB.
If people are going to continue to push for science based management, the human emotion factor is going to have to be taken out of it and that goes for both sides.
Pro or anti, you can’t have science based management and continue to interject human emotion, we have to look at numbers and statistics.
SB, you keep on about human emotion not being appropriate in wolf management. Wolves are social animals that establish packs. They raise pups collectively. There is a pecking order. When an alpha is killed it results in social chaos exhibited by stress and even depression. These are human emotions. Wolves are not automatons with no feelings. Read up on animal behaviorism. Marc Bekhoff and Jane Goodall for examples.
Valerie made some great points. Regarding the botched lawsuit – Defenders of Cash keeps yapping about what they are doing for wolves which appears to be nothing more than raising money.
Denise, as a working biologist, we have no idea of what wolf emotions are other than our human interpretations. I never said they don’t have emotions, hell most beings on the earth do, but, when it comes to what WE think should be management, it needs to be based on science, not emotion.
As far as bitching about DOF to me, that is a moot point, I don’t support any of the big name groups on either side of these issues.
As far as reading up, I have spoken to Jane in person on many occasions, her specialty runs in a different circle than this particular issue, her expertise in with a completely different type of species, very closely related to us humans, not a Canid species.
But again, I never said wolves don’t have emotion, I said, humans need to take their emotion out of the equation and build plans based on the science.
I very much disagree with the notion that animal emotions can be equated with human emotions. Note: I’m not saying animals don’t feel emotions; rather, that the two cannot be equated. Along these lines (and speaking of Bekoff and Goodall), you might be interested in this thread:
I remember reading in :
The Wolf Almanac by Robert Busch
that one extra-big alpha male after being shot by one unemployed local was griefed by alpha female for days on a kill scene/spot (she didn’t care about getting food or smth similar ‘stress reliever’ – no, she was into mourning for real)
“…no, she was into mourning for real”
That’s how her behavior was interpreted. The question is: what was going on, cognitively inside the animal’s head? And you’re (using the term generally here) crazy if you think it’s the same as what goes on inside a human’s head.
“…no, she was into mourning for real”
That’s how her behavior was interpreted. The question is: what was going on, cognitively inside the animal’s head? And you’re (using the term generally here) crazy if you think it’s the same as what goes on inside a human’s head.
I wasn’t meaning that she was copying / emulating humans in her grief – but it is obvious that she was experiencing an extreme distress as she wasn’t searching for food for days in a row and ignoring danger to be shot … and to put the whole wolf population routinely under such extreme distress only to please a few ranchers who are losing hundred cows or so due to depredation (and to hide behind such concepts as ‘compensatory mortality’ or wolf packs are ‘breaking down and dispersing’ anyway) is just pathetic
I must have missed these posts. Let me catch up with reading.
There are two parts to your post that deserve attention: The first suggests that the wolf was “mourning” (i.e., experiencing extreme distress). I don’t know this particular situation, so I cannot comment on the particulars. What I objected to was the interpretation of this behavior through a human lens (anthropomorphizing). Saying the wolf was under duress/stress, is different–I don’t have any problem with this interpretation. This was the context of the original conversation (i.e., animal emotions).
The next part is the implication that because this animal was distressed, that minimizing this stress (or at least not contributing to it) is the “right” course of action. You write:
“…to put the whole wolf population routinely under such extreme distress only to please a few ranchers who are losing hundred cows or so due to depredation …is just pathetic”
First, the whole population isn’t necessarily subject to such distress. Not all packs lose members to hunting, and not all wolves interpret such losses in the same way. I’ll never forget visiting the Wildlife Science Center a few days after three daughters in a pack nearly killed their mother (they literally tore part of her face off). Those wolves on the attacking end were lying around like nothing happened. Consider that the example you’ve provided may not be the rule, but the exception. Second, you focus on the distress of the wolf while not even acknowledging the stress of the other animals involved–the cows that were killed, the animals with those cows that were killed, as well as the people who lost animals. They arguably felt distress as well.
Just something to consider…
I’m not trying to minimize cows’ suffering but they are ranchers’ responsibility as they can’t escape large predators … then there’s compensation funds to help to deal with financial losses for ranchers
cows have not been on an Endangered Species List recently
I’m not pretending that there’s no violence among wolves themselves … but hey! – wolf is the TOP predator and as such is not used to be hunted on a daily basis (but this will be their daily experience as intensive wolf hunting season is firmly established in NRM)
1. The responsibility of ranchers is a good point–and one I agree with. However, that wasn’t mentioned in the initial argument. All I am suggesting is that animal emotions/stress is a very flimsy argument to rest a case on.
2. Absolutely true, and they outnumber wolves by several orders of magnitude. All the more reason to focus on the alleged impacts of wolves (to livestock and wild ungulates) rather than animal emotions.
3. Wolves will be hunted during certain times of the year. The hunting seasons are too long for my personal taste, but they hardly constitute “every day”. Moreover, there is a difference between your original argument, which was structured around the emotions of pack mates to a pack member being killed, and stress brought about by recognition that one is being hunted (I think there the evidence for the latter is rather flimsy). In any case, wolves in the NRMs have been killed by brown bears and cougars as well, so they are hunted “naturally” from time to time.
Again, I only bring up these points because I think the ‘animals have emotions’ argument has way too many holes. Most simply won’t take you seriously if you bring it up.
But what about the hateful human emotion side? That seems to be dominating the politics. I guess that’s what I meant about compromise – we wolf advocated get told we’re not being scientific and too emotional, but the violent killers don’t get chastised?
I chastise both sides because of the emotion, we can’t have science based management, if both sides continue to interject human emotion in it. In the wild, wolf family units are broke up all the time, by rival packs, by a lucky prey animal that lands a antler in the right spot, wolf life is hard and it does not matter who does the killing, it is a tough life and they have evolved to deal with it.
It’s true – and some of those a**h**es don’t have to make it harder on them by celebrating killing them.
On the other side, many are happy when something happens to them, think about it, both sides are baiting the other, they are happy when they torture a wolf and pro is happy when they are tortured.
Who is the better?
Yes, that’s true. It takes a better person to take the high road – but it is difficult.
Ida, you didn’t answer the question? Who is better (c:
Anyone who sinks to the level of harming anyone or any animal deliberately other than legitimate hunting is the worst, not the better. So I’d say most on either side of the issue are better than that.
I see your one of the unhappy 10% extremist.
I would have been happier if there were no wolves. So it appears there has been a compromise.
To answer your question my extended family doesn’t run around killing their own or those of other families just because they visit my turf. I don’t eat my own kind so I won’t be caught in a trap while eating my own. You can’t kill 30% of my family and have a growing population. So yes we have a happy compromise.
“I would have been happier if there were no wolves. So it appears there has been a compromise.”
Thank you for proving yet again you are anti-wolf RB.
I will never compromise with anti-wolf extremists. According to RB, anyone that cares about wolves is an extremist, yet he admits he would have been happier if there were no wolves. Who is the extremist RB?
You have nerve saying Valarie is an extremist RB when you just said you would have been happier if there were no wolves. Please take a good look at yourself before you start calling others extremists.
Having read many of your posts (a number of which I’ve agreed with and enjoyed), you strike me as very thoughtful.
Something to consider then for your teaching: Wolves are extraordinarily intelligent and sentient. By extension, innately curious. For the very same reasons that relate to their biology, from an ethical viewpoint, they should receive permanent protection and harvested only in the rarest of circumstances.” (paraphrasing the late Gordon Haber, renowned Alaskan wolf biologist);
Wolves are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters that we always hoped we could be. (Ed Bangs, wolf biologist, NOVA On-line 1997);
Like you and me, wolves are social creatures that grieve, feel loss, and care deeply for their young. The strength of their packs directly correlates with their very survival. Ignoring the social relationships of these animals in their management would be heartless, sinister. Unconscionable. (the poignant and poetic words of brilliant Louise Kane);
See Linda M. Thuston’s “Homesite Attendance as a Measure of Alloparental* and Parental Care by Gray Wolves in Northern Yellowstone National Park” (May 2002).
*”Alloparental” refers to the very rare phenomenon when individuals assist in the care of young that have been produced by others.”;
See also “Energetics, Reproductive Suppression and Obligate Communal Breeding in Carnivores” (S.R. Creel and N.M. c
reel), 28 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 263-270 (1991).
Addendum: Oops. Omit the “Roy”
I disagree with you, our emotions have no place in this, we have to understand, that all wild species live one day at a time, each and every day things happen to them, that we can’t even imagine.
I have had fawns killed right in my front yard by coyotes, it was agonizing to listen to, but I understand, I can’t interfere, it is nature, man is part of nature, both with our compassion as well as our cruelty. Until we get to a point that we don’t interject our projections on animals that don’t care, want or need it, we will continue to have this impasse.
I watched a situation unfold this morning in my yard, newborn fawn, couple of days old, doe leading it around, big buck curious to see what was going on, guess what, the buck got the crap beat out of him by momma doe, to be honest, he could be laying out in the forest dead or severely hurt by her beating, I didn’t stop it, I was quite amazed by what happened.
Humans can show great compassion, but guess what they can show total disregard also. but again we are part of the bigger system, we, as other
opps, we as other animals run the whole gambit.
Don’t mess with the moms!
An interesting article, JB. I will make a likely futile effort to discuss it.
I agree with whomever wrote that quote you put at the top. Reading anything related to wolves is really depressing. Hardly anyone can speak reasonably on the topic.
The primary item that surprised me in the analysis is that the animal rights activists reacted more negatively to licensed hunting of wolves as game species, than nuisance kill-on-sight status. Am I reading that right?
Recently I have seen more people discussing, including on this site, the concept that the wolf issue isn’t about wolves. I have thought that for years. My realization started around the same time as the first lawsuits. Since then, it seems a bitter topic has grown far more so, to the point that virtually no one can have any rational discussion. If it was really about wildlife, maybe there would be a chance for compromise. Since instead it has become a cultural war for ideological control of the West, I think it will continue to boil for decades.
Thanks for attempting to be civil. :
I reacted similarly to the animal rights scores, but with some reflection it makes sense. They know they oppose hunting–especially sport hunting, which is to say, wolf-hunting. With nuisance status one (at least ostensibly) has a reason to kill a wolf. So it is less offensive, despite offering less protection for the population. At least, that’s the way I interpret the numbers.
And I will throw out this little tidbit: The correlations were least strong with people identifying as wildlife advocates and conservationists. I believe that’s because many on both sides share this identity. That point, at least, brings a bit of hope. That is, there is some shared identity here with which to draw upon for reasonable dialogue.
JB and Western Moderate
JB I think your analysis is correct about why animal rights activists would respond more negatively to licensed hunting than to kill on sight nuisance. Your logic makes sense. i would add I bet that most people might not understand the the legal application or ramifications of being designated to be a nuisance species and that this would result in less protections legally. I think the reason for being more acceptable lies in the premise that killing for fun is not acceptable but that killing because of a threat might be. I think the acceptability factor is one that comes into play. I can’t speak for others only for myself and think about the conversations of those I speak with regularly. I find it more acceptable or at least less objectionable to see predators killed when there is some “reason”. Trophy hunting is completely unacceptable to me, and it does not serve any valid management objective at least those that are paraded about as objectives. To get back to the point, perhaps your data illustrates that when it comes to wolves or predators those that identify themselves as animal rights activists want/need to see a legitimate reason to kill wolves. This I think is a logical stance. Why kill for no reason other than to kill? This is the biggest objection people that identify themselves as animal rights activists and conservationists have. Me I hate to see wolves or predators killed for any reason but I could accept reasonable attempts to coexist with these amazing animals. I ask, if we know wolves are not a true immediate threat to human safety (2 fatal attacks in the last 100 years in all North America with 1 debated should illustrate this) and we know of their sociality and that disrupting packs may cause more livestock threats than less and there is no legitimate “management” goal to allow human hunting and finally there is increasing evidence that predators contribute to trophic cascade effects then why hunt these animals? In any event maybe I am reading something into it but I think there is some misunderstanding about the classification of nuisance and what that means in a traditional management context. I think people misunderstand this as applying to individual instances rather than as a general classification of the species and that if classified as a nuisance species any member could be shot on sight any time for any reason. No animal rights advocate that understood the distinction would advocate for this over designation as a game species where at least bag limits and quotas would be used. Its confusing to be sure
Yes, I agree. I find it insulting and offensive to designate a species as highly evolved as the wolf to be a ‘nuisance’ species, or ‘vermin’. This is not wildlife management to anyone with a functioning brain.
Thanks for your thougths, Louise–and for being civil!
It is confusing, agreed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
While a game species is huntable, a vermin is not a seasonally regulated hunt. Trophy Hunting, is a term which is misleading. In most situations it is used to differentiate between getting a tag in a draw, or paying more for a tag. The animal hunted is not a ‘kill in sight’ animal and there are stricter guidelines surrounding it.
While hunting a ‘trophy’ species may seem unpalatable, I’d say it might be the best case scenario here. The wolves will be ‘managed’. I think it is better to satisfy some public outcries, bring in revenues for conservation over all, and still have wolves.
I personally have no desire to hunt a predator. Though I have seen he logic in many predator hunts (coyote, cougar, black bear). The numbers of those predators and the basis for how, when and how many are killed is more rational (IMHO).
I advocated for wolf re-intro. I also knew when I did that at some point, their success would make them a game species.
I would rather see them hunted as a trophy, than as a vermin. Considering the alternatives, I seems the best way to handle it. Otherwise, we have some thought to give t traditional methods…poison, trapping, euthanization, aerial sniping, or as of late, contraception (still hugely expensive, stressful to implement, and will have a longer impact on pack higher-archy).
While it is not a beautiful outcome for some wolves, it is at least producing more revenue for the rest.
Just a thought, and I don’t expect it to sit well. It is just me, breaking down how I think these thing through.
Thanks, for your thoughtful post 🙂
Can the ‘vermin’ designation be changed? I suppose ‘trophy’ is better than the shoot-on-sight vermin designation. It does not sound like proper terminology for an endangered species that has only just recovered, or a major success story for the ages as some would have it.
Btw, you are very patient and fair in your posts.
I think you meant me? lol If so thanks, and likewise. If not, I nee to try harder.
The designation of ‘vermin’, as I understand it, is given based on how the animal will be managed.
So, to change the term changes the method of managing the animal.
There was a time in history when vermin were money making animals. Now, when we say ‘vermin’ we think of nuisance animals. I don’t believe wolves should be managed as vermin. Which I one reason why I have always been so opposed to Wyoming’s initial plans for wolves.
I have moments when I really wonder if the policies change how people deal with things, or if people’s disregard of them is a more powerful message being sent?
Also, I think that calling wolves ‘vermin’ is psychological warfare. It implies a lesser value and therefore takes away from some of what people find majestic in wolves.
After all, is Prince Charming still as heroic and ideal to dream of, if he is just called ‘Joe Charming”? Or is Superman as exciting if his name is ‘Clark in a Cape Man’? Perception begins with words many times. It is a calculated tactic.
Yes, I did mean that you are very understanding and patient with your posts.
Cobackcounty is exactly right. Essentially, there are three classifications for species that aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive (they may change based upon where the animal is found, for example): Protected/Endangered/Threatened, Game/Trophy Game/Furbearer, and Unprotected/Nuisance/Vermin (the terms vary from state to state). The status of the animal determines their level of protection, how much attention goes into monitoring their populations, and how and under what conditions they are killed.
It seems that classifying them as ‘nuisance/vermin’ and the resulting shoot-on-sight killing of them would fly in the face of assurances of the proper management of a recently recovered endangered species? I think it should be revisited in the spirit of compromise.
” I think it should be revisited in the spirit of compromise.”
What should be revisited? Realize we were discussing responses to survey items, not actual policy. The only states currently classifying wolves as nuisance/vermin are Wyoming and South Dakota (in parts, not in the entirety).
I meant Wyoming’s ‘wolf management plan’. I didn’t realize SD even had wolves.
They (SD) don’t. As far as I can tell, it’s a moved designed to make sure things continue that way.
Thanks! I try to be positive when able.
I find SD’s policy ironic, considering their substantial population of indigenous peoples. I saw so much concern for Native American views during the original reintroduction process, and in the years shortly after.
It seems odd to have a policy classifying an animal as vermin ahead of time. Was it in place before reintro?
It’s the same story as everywhere. Some representative from a rural, agricultural county decided that [insert state] can’t support wolves because [insert same old fear-mongering]. Here’s the text of the bill: http://legiscan.com/SD/text/SB205
It’s pretty pathetic, that’s all it takes? Wow, and …nope, just wow.
WM writes (in part):
Recently I have seen more people discussing, including on this site, the concept that the wolf issue isn’t about wolves. I have thought that for years.
So right because at the heart of resistance to true, science-based recovery is proxy war against the wolf over conservation, a dying cowboy culture, and the future of exploitation of public lands — be it consolidated cattle ops, trophy game outfitters (besides Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Big Game Forever, Safari Club International — leading supporter of the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation which supports the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus, all of whom voted for the delisting rider — talk about a systemic conspiracy) and/or a fracking frenzy.
That’s also why our infamous Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator said: “A little blood (referring to the 2000 wolves taken out by Wildlife Services PRIOR to delisting) 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.”
So much for deployment of the “best available science!”
When people realize Valerie, that neither side is going to really accept best available science, then we might start making some progress. The wolves were never reintroduced with the idea of “best available science” if they were, we would never had the “experimental” population designation.
Sorry, they would never been reintroduced as a “Non-essential experimental population” (10j)
I think you are a very honest and straightforward person, SB. That is probably the best assessment yet.
Ida, many don’t feel the same way, I call them as I see them, I have nothing to loose, but it seems others do.
The “experimental” population was a COMPROMISE to ranchers. I opposed it as well as many others. As it turns out those who opposed it were correct. We would not be in the current situation if this COMPROMISE had not been made.
Without that compromise Denise, we would not be having this conversation because they would have never be reintroduced.
You want science based management, but yet, no one on either side of this issue is willing to offer exactly what that is. We always impose our view on what we think they are doing.
Wolves are being killed based on social tolerance. This is unacceptable.
JB – seems that framing the discussion in terms of “compromise” really caused people’s heads to explode.
I’d propose a whole new thread (this one is probably beyond repair), asking instead, “what would success look like to you?” “You” meaning individual participants, or the interest groups or subcultures they believe they represent.
No slippery stuff about “viability” or “sustainability” without explicitly stating what one means by those terms in this particular context.
To make things really interesting, I’d ask for a succinct statement of how we’ll get from today’s reality to one’s vision of a successful future for wolves. That is, what’s your “theory of change” as to what set of activities will take us where you think we should be.
It would be great to keep these theories of change grounded in reality, but, hey, it’s a free country . . .
Oh Brother SAP.
Yeah, that’s my fault. I keep forgetting that “compromise” is a four letter word. I think we had a ‘what’s your magic number’ discussion in one of these threads a while back that looked the same? I suppose it was worth a try.
I’m just curious, how on Earth, those rancher/hunter-types would imagine the wolf hunting season rockin’ if it would be started immediately as the legal threshold (100/10) was reached?
would it be ‘real enough compromise’ from a pro-wolf camp?
I also would like to see some sum-up article about costs/revenues of NRM wildlife agencies’ so one can see from where and how much money is coming and where it is going (and how real are prospects that wolves could seriously endanger those revenues … for example, reduced elk herds etc.)
I mean, wolf isn’t causing such damage to justify great expenditure and controversy … and if a big chunk of money is spent on futile efforts then better fix them and move on and give to wolves some more breathing space
otherwise pro-wolf camp is getting bad rap when ‘serious, reasonable and practical down-to-earth’ types themselves are still engaged in expensive non-working operations
Good post. But as long as we have aconservational and awildlife leadership, and these groups can lobby and buy their way to get what they want, it won’t matter. I woudl say anti but it doesn’t even get that much consideration, and apparently wildlife advocates’ and conservationists’ (I do consider myself both) votes are not worth it to this administration or advisors. They’re doing it now with all the science that counters their agenda – and pushing aside citizen petitions.
that’s why I put ‘billionaire hope’ on par with ‘political reality’ – they are the same species and won’t disrupt each others agenda (be it rancher’s, local senator’s or some millionaire/billionaire’s one)
Civil rights weren’t a compromise. Neither are gay rights. And neither are animal rights.
Either you get on board, or you get mowed down and exposed as a relic.
Does anyone really think that compromise is possible with those far right extremists that hate wolves and want them eradicated in Idaho/Montana? The anti-wolf side is run by people like Toby Bridges, Rockholm, Ron Gillette, etc. These people openly and publicly support and advocate for poisoning and illegally killing wolves and you want the pro-wolf advocates to compromise with these kind of people? The moderates are very few and between when it comes to the wolf issue. The people in the pro-wolf side are normal people fighting for wolves and the anti-wolf extremists are the ones that support poisoning and eradication of wolves.
In time they will be completely marginalized, like the anti-blacks, like the anti-gays.
I hope you’re right Mike.
Jon – first, I think the more you visit the sites of the hateful anti crowd, the more you give them exactly what they want: attention.
Second, do you have some data indicating that moderates are few and far between? I don’t think the hateful extreme anti’s have that much of a following, and that perspective comes from living 50 miles outside YNP and interacting with a lot of hunters and ranchers. But that’s just my non-scientific sampling of opinion. I’d be curious to see your data.
I agree with you — there is no compromising with the hateful extremists you mention (I don’t use their names because I don’t want to keep inflating their already outsized self importance — which probably compensates for something undersized that won’t “inflate” anymore).
I personally don’t think there are a lot of moderates out there when it comes to the wolf issue. You got the pro-wolf people and you got the extreme anti-wolf people who advocate and support the illegal killing and poisoning of wolves. On facebook, you got many many extreme anti-wolf pages run by anti-wolf hunters and ranchers. I don’t think most can deny that the extreme anti-wolf side is run by people like Rockholm or Toby Bridges. I am not saying there aren’t any moderates out there, but to me, this seems like an pro-wolf vs. anti-wolf issue. You got the people who like wolves. vs. those that hate them and want them eradicated completely.
To summarize, you’re going to keep giving those creeps attention, and you don’t have any data on how most people feel about wolves, just your impressions from Facebook?
“To summarize, you’re going to keep giving those creeps attention…”
You pegged it! Used to try to communicate, then just perused. Stopped both a while ago. Time is too important to waste on those places.
Those people need to be given attention because people need to know what and who they are dealing with, but yes, I do understand what you are trying to say. The anti-wolf extremism needs to be pointed out from time to time.
“…first, I think the more you visit the sites of the hateful anti crowd, the more you give them exactly what they want: attention.”
Exactly. And the more you pass links to their sick, twisted videos, the more you risk sending the exact wrong message–i.e., this is normal behavior. The psychologist Robert Cialdini had a great piece about this a few years back. They’ve been able to show in a number of experiments that pointing out “bad” (amoral) behavior only makes it more common–you send the message “lots of people are doing X”. This is why I’ve bugged Jon in the past about posting all their crap.
Another thing to consider: Google and other search engines are more likely to turn up webpages the more they get clicked on, so by posting links to their sites, you give them exactly what they want.
Robert Cialdini – wow JB!!!
just check out what Arno Gruen says about his (RC) authority Stanley Milgram in ‘The Betrayal of the Self’ on p.24 and 38 – How obedience replaces autonomy and leads to dehumanization
I suppose you know what Milgram’s experiment is all about..
I agree with you in some respects JB but the other side of the equation has to do with exposure. These acts do need to be exposed and most normal people would never know that some of this horrific wildlife abuse occurs save for the “underground” activists that make sure its circulated. Having said that, engaging in debate with them or going to their pages is useless and most likely empowers the losers like Bridges etc.
ok, I will qoute in length:
“..complying with power and authority commonly leads to a denial of one’s own human feelings… people who ignore the promptings of their own humanity when faced with another’s distress cannot escape the somatic results of their betrayal of a fellow human being. Milgram’s experiment discussed in chapter 1 has already shown that when we shun the voice of our own humanity and suppress our empathic reactions, they will be expressed in body language …
When we are confronted with the helplessness of another person but turn our back on it because we repudiate it in ourself, that person arouses our self-hatred. Faced with helplessness, our fear is transformed into anger at the victim for serving as a mirror of our own hated self. What we are doing is making the victim responsible for our own “weakness”. This is the revenge we take for our own repressed humiliation…Here we find the underlying reason for our identification with violence. … the actual source of our cruelty and callousness lies in the rejection of our own suffering. The more inhumanly we behave, the more we repudiate our suffering and betray that human self we were never permitted to have.”
Sorry Mareks; I’m impressed by your knowledge of psychology, and while your quote adds to the conversation about empathy (above), I’m not really sure what they have to do with norms (the subject of Cialdini’s recent research)?
they have to do with with repetition/replication of what we call ‘bad / immoral behavior’ –
“Cialdini had a great piece about this a few years back. They’ve been able to show in a number of experiments that pointing out “bad” (amoral) behavior only makes it more common”
to me Cialdini / Milgram has the same moral message as climate change deniers – BS/ideological fog vehicles
sorry, it should be “at length”
in RC own words “Being a sucker contributes to my interest in the study of
compliance” p 15:
I’m pretty sure that if both RC/SM would apply their ‘innovative experiments’ to psychologically healthy individuals like Hopi people (or other indigenous people with similar value sets) or punks ( folks with strong convictions) then they would just laugh at their ‘authority’ and experiments would fail and RC/SM couldn’t squeeze any PR dividends … too bad
I guess such ‘authority figures / experts’ should be immediately cornered, confronted, exposed,discredited and discarded on spot
everyone who has read E.Fromm or A.Gruen etc. psychologists would despise marketers like RC/SM who are sellin themselves as ‘psychologists’ (hype)
and Arab Spring rebellion (one of many now and throughot history) and whistleblowers are exposing the shallowness of such ‘influential marketing celebrities as RC/SM’ every single week
I think you may need to read up on Cialdini’s recent work. Cialdini’s norm experiments (done with regular people in a parking garage) are among the most elegant experiments I’ve seen in psychology. They show how the environment we’re in sends a strong signal regarding what types of behavior is appropriate. Moreover, his experiments have very real applications that have been used by hotels, municipalities, and even federal land management agencies. Among some accomplishments: reductions in theft of petrified forest artifacts, increases in recycling, and decreases in water use in hotels. Real and tangible results that can be implemented with little cost and effort.
How’s that Arab Spring working out for Syria right now? Relying on moral justifications alone has a persistent problem: we (human societies) seem to have many disagreements about what is “right”.
Here are a few good articles for interested readers, that I believe are publicly available:
A focus theory of normative conduct: A theoretical refinement and reevaluation of the role of norms in human behavior
Crafting Normative Messages to Protect
Yes, but huge progress has been made and the social shift necessary for change has happened with these issues. Animal rights gets no attention and that and the Endangered Species Act headed back to the dark ages.
I don’t think animal rights gets no attention I liken it more to the recent Michigan debacle. People care, they act and Congress and the implementing agencies ignore or deny relief (if you will) because they pander to and are dictated to by special interests.
I don’t see it. But lets not forget that we have a Democratic president who had to be goaded into setting aside conservation land by a former Secretary of the Interior. I see him or his advisors making deals for votes with the Western states to give them whatever they want, and they wanted wolves. I see him making backroom deals with Monsanto to grow GMOs in wildlife refuges, and more backroom deals with the so-called green energy companies to help them get around the Endangered Species Act and write their own regulations. He’s allowed guns into the national parks. We could get that from Republican leadership.
His new Secretary of the Interior is a former CEO of an outdoor recreation company, and who he hired because she’s ‘outdoorsy’. Even what little he has said about climate change and energy policies is purely from the standpoint of how it affects people only.
I thought he hired Jewell because of her background in the oil AND outdoors industry. Obama is the quintessential compromiser. So, you see what compromise can get relative to wildlands protection.
Yes, I forgot to mention that.
++ Mike says:
June 22, 2013 at 7:54 am
Civil rights weren’t a compromise. Neither are gay rights. And neither are animal rights.
Either you get on board, or you get mowed down and exposed as a relic. ++
Here is the core of the “wolf issue”. Hateful, left-wing extremists are going to mow down anyone who doesn’t get on board with their world view. Is anyone surprised that the right-wing people react negatively, and the poor wolf gets caught in the middle?
What you are seeing is a bigoted, hateful response to a living creature. You don’t “compromise” with that. You push forward and leave them behind, as happens with all narrow mined, hateful groups.
The wolf haters are very similar to the folks who couldn’t stand African Americans, or the people who hate gays.
Right On. Im glad the people today weren’t the ones fighting for civil rights or voting rights or ending slavery. This compromise/ collaboration BS is the problem. Not those who are willing to fight for real change.
Great comments from everyone. Valerie, I really love reading yours. I believe that wolves & other species feel the loss of another, they of course feel pain, they have family units, etc. I would think that the “human” could/would be a bit smarter than has been shown in my years of living on this earth. I, personally have no use for hunting, trapping, snaring, using poison, hunting with hounders, etc. I’m just not a hunter. My heart – & I say this with pride & emotion, says no to hunting. Nature does take care of itself. Humans have gotten in the way for far to long – as far as nature is concerned. Being a wold animal – surviving on ones innate abilities is hard enough, but when you get humans involved it just makes it a lot harder to survive in the wild. If I had my way – there would be a stop to hunting in this country for a number of years (I know that would/will never happen) just to get nature back to a balance (normal.) Wolves as we all know on this blog are an apex predator, which is important for all below that food chain. That has been scientifically proven. It is the hate & loathing of the wolf that has been taught down through the centuries/decades of the west & any state that has wolves. It’s also the GREED of hunting clubs, states. I hate politics, & this is one BIG reason why ….. what happened to our wolves in that budget rider.
I love all animals & yes it is a very emotional subject for me, the hunting of any animal, but wolves is a very emotional subject for me to talk about, I’m on the side of the pro-wolfers as we are called. I think (some) ranchers have way to much control of “our” lands & wildlife. There are people in the political arena that conflicts of interest – Ken Salazar, Jon Testicles just to name a few.
I’m all for wildlife living free & undisturbed, but I know that would never happen, just look @ WI.
I agree the phraselogy is what’s confusing a lot of people. Also, there’s some implications to John Laundre’s idea of a ‘landscape of fear’ if wolves are only shot near ranch/farm areas…they will eventually learn where the death zones are and avoid them. ISn’t this what both sides (or at least a majority) really want? Wolves present but not very near ranches/farms?
The ‘landscape of fear’ is an interesting idea that has been applied to animals. But I think its more applicable to humans. So many of us are so divorced from the natural world. Just yesterday I heard another absurd story about ‘wolves surrounding someone ready to attack’ after they shot a wolf on their property. So much of the rhetoric is fear based ignorance of the natural wild world.
I believe wolves are here to stay, albeit constantly disrupted unless we increase the minimum viable population for the Rockies and other areas. But at this point ‘compromise’ must include ranchers ranching differently in order to live with wildlife, and that includes coyotes, mountain lions and bears. (need I go on: how about other varmits in Wyoming like badgers, beavers, ground squirrels, et al) Why should they be given ‘shoot on sight’ tags if they aren’t doing first all they can to deter predation? Why aren’t the Game and Fish agencies including this kind of education in their budgets instead of Wildlife Services actions?
Compromise in the form of habitat loss and disruption has been happening for decades. Chipping away little by little. And now we have only a tiny sliver of the lower 48 that can barely support a whole ecosystem of wildlife. Residents, and the masses moving here, need to realize what we have left, and that living here means learning new ways to preserve that. This includes not just ranchers and hunters, but developers, land planners and those encroaching on habitat.
and one obstacle to ‘compromise’ are old ranchers dynasties – they will take for granted what their Dads told them was the ‘balance of nature’ … I mean, pasture with no large predators
Thus, time for them to change. Why is it left to just a very few private conservation organizations like Defenders or People and Carnivores to teach ranchers new strategies. Instead I see that FWP just counts on killing more wolves. Really 19th century science and management. ‘Compromise’ must include updated science and management tools.
Killing wolves is not going to solve the problems. These ranchers need to get off their high horse and accept that they need to change and adapt. Wolves are going to be wolves and there is no changing that, but these ranchers MUST change and adapt to the wolf’s presence.
And many are adapting, Jon. But if all you do is focus on extremists and negativity, it doesn’t give others much encouragement to try new things.
Several other examples:
Let me predict your response: Why didn’t they do it sooner? Why aren’t more doing it? Why don’t they switch to ostriches?
That’s progress, but there are still many ranchers who think reaching for the gun is the only solution.
What, no ostriches?
SAP, that vimeo video is fantastic. Thank you
Leslie, just to clarify: in my work, I’m not teaching ranchers, we’re cooperatively developing solutions that will work in their operation. FWP Wolf Specialists have been indispensable partners in all of this. They’re under tremendous pressure, with the legislature trying specifically to eliminate their jobs. Some of the higher ups are running scared and pressure the specialists to put virtually all of their time into collaring and lethal control. Which is to say, lethal control, because that’s what the collars end up facilitating.
Why is the MT legislature trying to get rid of the wolf specialist jobs?
“Some of the higher ups are running scared and pressure the specialists to put virtually all of their time into collaring and lethal control. Which is to say, lethal control, because that’s what the collars end up facilitating.”
Collaring the wolves, so they can find them in the near future and kill them. Is FWP forcing ranchers in Montana to use non lethal methods for wolves or is the first thoughts always kill the wolves when they start attacking livestock?
The article quoted in the Valley Journal
mentions not a word about this kind of cooperative partnerships. It quotes Hagener happily boasting of managing wolves with guns to decrease cattle predation.
“Wolf advocates hope the Oregon experiment can spread elsewhere, especially Idaho, which had 746 wolves in 2011. In 2012, hunters and wildlife agents killed 422 wolves, compared with 296 for 2011. Sheep and cattle kills, meantime, went up from 192 in 2011 to 341 in 2012.”
The idea that killing wolves is going to automatically decrease livestock attacks is hogwash and proven to be false. the fact is these fish and game agencies think that killing a lot of wolves is going to solve all their problems. They are wrong. The idea that killing wolves is going to save elk and deer has always been proven false as cougars and bears take more elk calves than wolves.
“The Idaho numbers show “you can’t manage wolves using conventional wisdom and assumption,” said Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife in Idaho. “Using these old archaic methods of managing predators by just killing them is not working.”
Thanks SAP. Didn’t know you did this. Keep up the good work. I am glad that some of this cooperation is being funded through govt. agencies. I wish more of it were happening, and here in WY too. I support ranchers getting a helping hand to change their ways. This is all new territory for the ranching industry.
I spent 20 years in horticulture working with people to help them develop strategies to live with deer, gophers, and other critters and still grow flowers, gardens and food. It can be done but people need to want to.
Leslie you got one thing right! When you say, The ‘landscape of fear’ is an interesting idea that has been applied to animals.
We recently started putting in a watering system for livestock. There will be twenty water tanks in a ten mile stretch. In the hour long drive the landscape is void of any ungulates. I cam remember antelope,muleteer and elk summering in this huge valley. Weather you or anyone else will believe it or except the fact it’s predator induced that ungulates have left this valley. The elk and muledeer that once used this valley for summering and having their babies dont any more. I wonder why?
Robert, I don’t see that in my valley. There seem to be more mule deer every year, despite wolves and deer are the easiest kill. Middleton’s research bears out that elk movements are not affected by fear of wolves.
I was using that phase to describe people, not animals.
You’d need to look deeper into why there are less ungulates in your area. Things aren’t usually as simple as they appear.
Leslie are you doubting that animals don’t live in fear and are avoiding some areas.
I have to disagree that elk movement is not affected by fear of wolves. In the past few years elk are becoming less vocal during the rut. In some cases they are being educated by hunters in other cases its predators.
If I were an elk why would I want to advertise my self to be killed.
Robert, within 1 km according to the Middleton study. That’s .6 miles and only once about every 9 days in his wolf/elk study
Just asking, is this why?
“We recently started putting in a watering system for livestock. There will be twenty water tanks in a ten mile stretch. In the hour long drive the landscape is void of any ungulates”
You sure it doesn’t have to do with your damned cattle?
That was kind of my conclusion too, Ken. Or maybe elk dislike water tanks?
Ken: you need to look at the positive the not the negative. As much as you absolutely hate livestock producers, would you rather have these cows on the riperain destroying creeks etc. the damed cattle has nothing to do with me,I’m not a rancher and this work is promoted by the NRCS. This also provides water for wildlife.
Immer I don’t know for sure why. I will get blamed for blaming the wolf but before the introduction of wolves there was already two top predators the grizzly and mountain lion.
For what ever reason the ungulates coexisted with the bear and lion. I know it don’t make much sence but its moved the elk and muledeer out of this summer range somewhere else.
Robert: You do understand that correlation (the co-occurence of two phenomena) isn’t the same as causation (one phenomena causing another)…right?
JB I think there is always an exception to the rule.
The ungulates also co-existed with the wolves RobertR. Wolves, bears, and cougars have been co-existing with the ungulates far longer than the humans have robert. This demonizing of wolves because they eat ungulates needs to stop.
jon why is it happening if they, the elk coexist with the wolf? After all isn’t the elk population increasing even with the presence of the wolf.
Robert, the elk and wolves have co-existed alongside each other for millions of years. The problem is US. Elk are not easy animals for wolves to kill.
Millions of years?
Perhaps there was gray area about my statement. Plus it was not meant as a challenge. You installed twenty water tanks in a ten mile stretch. Is/ was the need for water one of the variables for no elk observations?
Immer no, the water system is for cattle but benefits all and helps keep livestock away from the riparian.
What watershed are you talking about? I think it is the Big Hole Valley. Just curious.
June 22, 2013 at 7:54 am
Civil rights weren’t a compromise. Neither are gay rights. And neither are animal rights.
Exactly! That’s how Jon Marvel view his mission at Western Watersheds Project. Though it is more often than not a lonely road with many enemies and a few brave friends “there is no in-between.” (ref. recent print interview)
So it is with giving permanent protection to wolves. Because, they are as I’ve written many times here, literally the “resistance fighters” for what’s left of the “geography of hope” — the interior Mountain West with the largest temperate intact expanse of biodiversity on the planet!
Wake up! Wolves are the ultimate sign of ecosystems in balance! When you take the wolves down to ecologically irrelevant numbers, we WILL be left with vastly impoverished lands. Then, the public loses the argument in terms of what would be “suitable” uses for the future. THINK (as SAP, I believe so astutely admonished on this site) “bison, Native Americans, the railroads.”
I think the picture is crystal clear if you look ahead just a little with an Eagle’s eye view!
Wolf Management Policy in the East — Is Compromise Possible?….oh..wait?
Like most topics, the one of compromise has been hashed and rehashed many times here. My thoughts align with this quote, which I have posted before:
““Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another — too often ending in the loss of both.” Edwards, Tryon””
Pretty much sums up my utter contempt for a few that post here, and a few that post on some other blogs, all of which demand that everyone conform to “their” theology, all others be dammed. makes me want to puke. Used to be some hope of change here on this blog, but that is dimming fast.
Since I don’t hit a lot of other blogs, can you give examples? Not being a smartass or anything, I really want to know.
I would Mark but that would be like handing out “homework assignments” right?
Not trying to be a smart ass, but I really don’t have the time or inclination.
No, homework would be telling us we need to DO something. Providing examples of what you mentioned doesn’t fall under that category. Carry on.
and if I supply the where I go to satisfy my line of inquiry on any particular day, on any particular subject; subject to my research parameters, how would that benefit you, even if you did comprehend.
It’s not about me (or you) now, is it?
4 wolves killed for predation in Idaho by Wildlife Services via IDFG
collared wolves included the trigger happy wildlife services could not tell they were collared wolves.
According to the agency’s director, Todd Grimm
As in Grimm’s Fairy Tales about the Big, Bad Wolf? You really can’t make this stuff up!
See how this works? Wolves can be killed all year round by this clever management scheme. It really doesn’t look good for wolves despite all the assurances.
And it is the same complainers, in this case Peavey, all the time. So while it is said that most people do want and value wolves on the landscape, these few troublemakers are doing a lot of damage.
There should be a buffer zone around the national parks as a compromise.
There aren’t very many collared wolves in Idaho. Wolves will end up being back on the endangered species list in Idaho and I will tell you why. Collared wolves will continue to be killed and trapped. There is unfortunately no law telling trappers and hunters that they can’t kill collared wolves. They (the wolves) are getting more scared of humans and when Idaho fish and game attempts to find wolves and collar them, it will be very difficult. You need collars on a lot of wolves to get a somewhat accurate account of how many wolves there truly are in Idaho. Idaho fish and game has failed when it comes to wolves. They don’t care about wolves. They care about killing as many wolves as possible, so they can turn Idaho into one gigantic elk farm. They kill wolves for ranchers even without knowing it the rancher has tried to use non lethal methods when dealing with wolves. The elk hunters and those that hate wolves don’t want to hear this, but to think that you will get the number of elk back to where they want it to like how it was before wolf reintroduction will never happen. By letting trappers and hunters kill collared wolves, it is going to get harder and harder for both Montana and Idaho to keep an accurate count on their wolf numbers. This will eventually lead to wolves being put back on the endangered species list. The Idaho fish and game is a joke of an agency. They don’t put the wildlife first.
I doubt you’ll see wolves back on the list anytime soon in Idaho.The wolf population in North Idaho is doing just fine and for your information not all elk hunters hate wolves. How can you sit in Maine and tell everyone exactly what is and will be happening out here in Idaho. Why don’t you come out here yourself and talk to the people and maybe do some hiking and see exactly what it is you think is going on.
Yea, some people hate wolves here but they are not the majority. Most realize that the wolves are here and not going anywhere so we’ll just learn to live with them. Some will be killed, some won’t. As far as a the wolf population as a whole they’ll be just fine. I can take you ten minutes in any direction from the house and show you wolf sign so I don’t feel their numbers are threatened. Reading you anti rants is really starting to get old.
Science can tell us what we can do but it is our morality, ethics and yes, emotion that tells us if we should do it. I submit that killing a wolf point blank as he tentatively wags for help while his foot is smashed in a trap is beyond cold blooded. Shooting a wolf for no other reason than to create a corpse is not legitimate hunting. Management should mean something more than just killing. (And it isn’t ‘harvesting’. It isn’t ‘taking’. It is killing and I think it has become very ugly.)
You may be aware of this already, but I came across the following while looking through this list and thought I’d post it:
JB – Something I don’t understand…
Let’s say Least Protective equals “1” and Most Protective equals “6”. Option “3” you have highlighted the varience and say that it represents less disagreement. In option “2” you state the the mean is positive and therefore might represent the most support. So far, so good. Here is where I get hung up… Option “3” has the largest negative mean, which using your definitions could suggest that option “3” has the least amount of support. I am having trouble wrapping my mind around option “3” having little disagreement and simultaneously the least amount of support. Does this imply that all the “identity” catagories see this as a viable solution yet are hoping to “get thier way” with a more extreme position? Any thoughts?
Likewise, option “2” has the highest amount of support according to your interpretation of the mean yet has a high varience suggesting little to no agreement between the identity catagories. Is that because one group, the hunters in this case, scores so high that they “outweigh” the other dissenting groups?
For what it is worth, I applaud your attempt at using the word compromise in this discussion and am truly sorry to see the discussion rehash the same old grievences and recriminations, no matter how valid they may be. I’m not at all against different people expressing thier various opinions but am so thoroughly turned off by the belittling comments that I’m not even sure I want to post this reply.
Also, is there any possibility that we could see the modes and medians of the various options? That may help to better interpret the data, IMHO.
For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to call “Wildlife Advocates” group “a” and “Conservative (Political ID)” group “i”; the other groups I will refer to by thier repsective consecutive letter.
Let us suppose that some unfortunate individual were to host a roundtable disucssion regarding wolf management policy in the west – an unholy task to be sure, but hey someone’s gotta be the bitch. Using your data and the table above it appears to me that the best (“best” meaning most broadly accepted by the various groups) options would be those that didn’t score heavy, that is, above 0.5 or below -0.5. Applying that rational to the various options, the “best” options would be “3” and “5”; possibly “4” since it only scored one group showing a strong effect.
As far as the people invited, it seems that the most “even keeled” would be groups “a”, “e”, “f” and “g”, namely the wildlife advocates, environmentalists, conservationists and the farmers/ranchers. Yet I don’t think
concerns of all the other stakeholders can so easily nor should be dismissed. Would it be appropriate to select from the more “extreme” groups those who hold moderate views? Would it be appropriate to exclude those individuals who hold extreme views even if they were a part of a “moderate” group. By what criteria would those potential individuals be selected from? And to be clear, by “group” I refer soley to your catagories.
It seems odd to me that the conservationists are so even keeled across the various options. Might that be because they see the wolf as having been and currently being “conserved” and therefore more or less a non-issue? And out of curiosity, what is the difference between a conservationist, wildlife advocate and environmentalist. I could call myself all three depending on the subject at hand and definition of the group.
“I am having trouble wrapping my mind around option “3″ having little disagreement and simultaneously the least amount of support. Does this imply that all the “identity” catagories see this as a viable solution yet are hoping to “get thier way” with a more extreme position?”
I toyed with the idea of not including mean scores at all, as I’m just not sure how representative they are (not to mention the fact that most questions were nowhere near normal distributions). What I think is more revealing is the association between identity and any particular policy. To answer your question, low variance reveals low disagreement, low mean reveals low support, smaller correlations suggest that that support/opposition to the policy was not predicated on identity (which is good when trying to avoid those symbolic arguments).
“Also, is there any possibility that we could see the modes and medians of the various options? That may help to better interpret the data, IMHO.”
Sure, though it will have to wait for awhile. (See above).
“Yet I don’t think concerns of all the other stakeholders can so easily nor should be dismissed. Would it be appropriate to select from the more “extreme” groups those who hold moderate views?”
Agreed. The literature I’ve seen on conflict management suggests all interested stakeholders should have a seat (a representative) at the table. Admittedly, this is not my forte.
“It seems odd to me that the conservationists are so even keeled across the various options. Might that be because they see the wolf as having been and currently being “conserved” and therefore more or less a non-issue?”
That’s an easy one. It’s likely that many environmentalists and hunters self-identify as “conservationists”; thus, the lack of correlation. Note: Focusing on ‘shared identity’ (conservationist) might be one way of reducing the hunter v. enviro rhetoric.
“And out of curiosity, what is the difference between a conservationist, wildlife advocate and environmentalist.”
Again, people were allowed to self-identify with any of these categories; most, as you can imagine, identified with more than one.
A conservationist manages Nature so it can be preserved and used to benefit humans. An environmentalist appreciates the natural world for what it is, without selfish human motives’ and they protect it from human excesses. I’m not sure what a wildlife advocate is, but sometimes they move outside of science and become irrational animal lovers.
The correct compromise would be to make sure there are places like the Northern Rockies where the natural world is allowed all of its parts including large predators. Humans should not be an allowed to destroy everything beautiful on this earth in the name of greed, jobs or progress. Human needs are never-ending and can’t be satisfied so we should permit to spoil some places but not every place.
I don’t define them that way. These are from Wikipedia:
Conservationism: In other parts of the world conservation is used more broadly to include the setting aside of natural areas and the active protection of wildlife for their inherent value, as much as for any value they may have for humans.
Environmentalism: At its crux, environmentalism is an attempt to balance relations between humans and the various natural systems on which they depend in such a way that all the components are accorded a proper degree of sustainability.
Sorry, I got messed up with the bolding.
I guess I feel that conservation means preserving for its inherent value, not just for future use by people. Human use is a given, you can’t get away from it – you can only hope that people will become less entitled and wasteful of our resources.
There’s a whole ‘nother reality out there besides ours. Environmentalism I feel has been cheapened by marketing and greenwashing, and things that have very little real effect on bettering the environment.
Regretfully, I can’t agree more with your assessment of “environmentalism”. I think that conservationists have remained more pure, for lack of a better term. Yet, always the naive idealist, I look upon environmentlism as a force of good and positive change. Sadly, with the greenwashing you speak of, too many people go around thinking that all is well as long as they use trash bags made from recycled plastic.
Exactly! But it’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of good in the environmental movement. You said it best – maybe conservation is more ‘purist’.
Ida, I wish I had seen this before my post below… although my dictionary’s definition matches exactly with Snaildarter’s.
Funny, in a way, your definition of conservationist and enviromentalist are oppostite of mine and Snaildarter’s.
As I mentioned in my post below, I’m guessing that theer is substantial crossoever between the two camps, although it seems to boil down to Pinochet vs. Muir.
Yes there is. I’m hardly an expert, but it is something I care about deeply. I wonder what the distinction really is. JB? Immer? SB? Ralph?
Ida, it seems to me that over time all these labels become used and misused to push corporate goals. The one I hate the most is ‘sustainable’. Good word that has been bastardized completely and now has absolutely no meaning at all. ‘Natural’ is another one. Think about how corporations have overtaken the organic food industry–begun with the best of intentions back in the 70’s but now quite questionable with large companies like Nestle etc. buying them out.
Environmentalism, conservation, wildlife advocate et al has little meaning except to the people who call us tree huggers. I suppose I’m proud to hug trees!
Ty, Snaildarter… those definitions help me put things in perspective of what the different groups represent. They hit the nail on the heat, IMO.
FWIW, my definition of a wildlife advocate would be the person who uses science to help define the management stratigies of species and/or ecosystems they live in. These same people tend to make sure that wildlife per se have a “voice at the table”; perhaps, for example, over a resource conflict. A wildlife advocate’s platform could range from proposing numbers for human consumption to insisting that a species has a right to exist for its own sake. Just thinking out loud – I’m not sure how far off the mainstream my definition is.
I can see and do agree that there could (but not necessarily) be crossover between WA’s and Animal Rightists. I would consider myself at times to also be the camp of the latter at times, if by “irrational” you mean that I recognize that animals, including myself, have emotions and act on them. I suppose my belief that killing out of hatred is wrong puts me in that group, also. In general there is substantial crossover between most of the nine groups defined on JB’s graph, or at least that has been my experience.
I think your second paragraph is “spot-on”. To me, the only real question is what percentages are acceptable as far as how muchs goes towards consumption and how much goes for preservation. I realize that those two levels of use are over simplifying the situation and that quite a few grades of use (or non-use) could be defined.
Snaildarter says “The correct compromise would be to make sure there are places like the Northern Rockies where the natural world is allowed all of its parts including large predators.”
Spot on! I think this has become the conclusion of most wildlife advocates and scientists (or whatever name you call them). In some ways, the U.S. is already on target for this as most of the masses live in urban areas. Now to just get the rural residents who live in these parts to agree…
That is the big dilemma, “Now to just get the rural residents who live in these parts to agree…”
I may wish this would happen, but I also feel for the people who’s lives are tossed upside down in these processes.
I’m not saying it wouldn’t be better, for wolves. I am simply saying, it may not be better for these people (who-under the constitution of this country- have the same rights as the same rights as those in urban areas).
I think the best we can hope for is that we can positively effect how people see the issue, how they receive our ideas on how to handle what they see as the problem with it all, and how we can be a contributing part of helping them handle that problem.
Maybe they can be bought out. Everybody wins.
I’ll have to post another Hot Chocolate video for SAP “Everyone’s A Winner”. That one really is my favorite. 😉
I’m always up for every one winning! 🙂
If I lived in that stretch of the woods, I doubt I’d be content any place else 🙂
I actually live 30 minutes from The Rockies, and I am never at home when I am on the flat land.
I know. I was being a little bit silly. 🙂 It is truly beautiful, living on the seacoast I could never imagine anything as beautiful. Until I saw the Rockies.
I have lived in the Rockies my entire life and I could never imagine anything as beautiful, until I saw Torres De Paine in Chile and Los Glaciares in Argentina.
Familiarity breeds contempt.
I would be as hard to remove if I were in the Pacific North West.
Maybe Ida, Jon, Mike and Louise el al can have bake sales and buy out the ranches. The RMEF has been able to purchase thousands of acres. It is time for the wolf watchers to start buying up land for wolves.
I think a Rocky Mountain Wolf Foundation would be a good idea. Once a year in Reno,NV the RMWF can have a wolf howl, thousands of wolf lovers will attend a 4 day convention with hundreds of exhibitors and millions in donated wolf watching tours. The RMWF can have hundreds of national and international chapters can raise money locally. With all the money raised they can put there dreams into reality. Buy up thousands and thousands of acres of wolf habitat.
It ain’t going to happen.
I haven’t offered a better idea. I have some ideas, can’t say they are all better. Do you have any? You usually have some in put?
That wouldn’t do a bit of good (Buy up land for wolves) because the state sets the hunting regulations on private land as well as public land.
Moreover, wolves eat elk. Wolf supporters love, or should love elk, unless they are stupid about basic biology.
We have a basic problem here. Those who favor carnivores also favor the entire suite of wildlife.
Narrow minded shooters of one or two grazing animals can afford to take a small view of which animals are important.
But private land can be posted “No Hunting” wolves then would be protected on that parcel of land. It is a start.
I am pro wolf and always have been. But I am pro state wildlife management, wildlife that is manage but the residents of the state for what ever direction the voters of that state want to go.
Downhill fast. That’s why the West should stay out of the rest of the country’s right to keep animals listed as endangered. You’ll notice only the Western states are cheerleading for this, and the majority of wolves are in states that have already have them delisted. Enough already.
You are right that private land can be posted, but perhaps many wolf lovers are not against hunting.
I am not against wolf hunting in a modest, sustainable way in portions of where wolves live. I am opposed to the hateful, indiscriminate wolf slaughter the states are now engaged in.
The solution, if any, is going to have to be to take on the state wildlife commissions — change them so that there is a fair balanced of interests, not just the retrograde segment of well heeled, trophy herbivore hunting organizations.
The west should stay out of the rest of the country’s right?
We can reverse that Ida and say, how bout the rest of the country stay out of the west’s right to manage the wolves the way they deem correct.
Neither scenario is realistic and it really does not matter who cheers what, there is one agency in this country that holds the power to do it, not the states, it comes down to what the USFWS decides.
I 100 percent agree. Likewise though, those who would have wolves remain unchecked or managed, may have a slighted view of how to keep the food web in check.
I don’t know that I am convinced wolves can self regulate in areas where interfaces happen. I think that needs to be more widely studied.
It won’t be us who are doing the buying. Sadly it will probably be energy companies of all colors, green included. You’ll wish it was the conservationists, at the rate things will be going.
We already have the land, or most of it — the public lands. Purchase of more land is a diversion. The problem is the current structure of state wildlife commissions.
How would you change to structure of a state wild commission? Since Montana has seven regional areas, the fair way would be each area electing their regional commissioner for a four year term. I think that the commission would make wildlife a commercial commodity. I don not want that
The governor selects a certain number of commissioners during his four year term and then there is carry which goes into the next administration. The governor selects commissioners for a number of commissions. I have never heard of people wanting a diversity of different people on the morticians, barbers, real estate, nurses, and other boards.
There are a number of people on this forum who believe that maybe the Northern Rocky Mountain States should have maybe a non resident on the wildlife commission.
Ralph, while I believe your statement about the current structure of the various state wildlife commissions is accurate, I can’t disagree more about the purchasing of private lands. Here in my western Colorado county the federal government owns over 75% of the county and although the public lands are biologically productive the most productive lands are privately held along the larger water ways. All the sagebrush and various other native vegetation has nearly been 100% eliminated anywhere within the valley botton, where the ditches can supply water to enable the rancher, or grass farmer if you will, to grow thier crop. Are you really telling me that if an individual were to purchase 1000 acres and remove the cattle, close it to predator hunting, remove miles of barbed-wire and otherwise decommission other infrastructure that it would merely be a distraction?
Don’t get me wrong. Buying private lands for conservation purposes is a great idea, and it has been used for a long time, usually with good results.
However, it cannot protect a wide ranging species under assault outside its boundaries.
Take YNP, 2.2 million acres. It is not private, of course, but it is no hunting. Despite its size, the 3 boundary states have all but eliminated the wolf population by means of hunting the Park boundaries.
Now if a private entity could buy 5-million areas, a viable population might be maintained. That is not going to happen. Though difficult, changing the state wildlife commissions would be easier.
There are, of course, tools available which do not require the outright purchase of land. Conservation easements can be purchased or donated by the landowner limiting the kinds of uses allowed on the land in perpetuity. If enough of these can be amassed in an area, say not allowing hunting or specifically the hunting of wolves it would serve the same purpose. Rights can include the prohibition of building structures, roads and fences, as well. I have wondered if such tools could be used to create a buffer around Yellowstone, or elsewhere, to benefit wolves. The problem is one needs to find willing sellers of these rights with large enough tracts that can be combined for this purpose. The marketplace will determine the cost.
Maybe the Koch Bros. will buy it up. Karma at its best.
What you say is valid. Colorado’s most productive land seems to be privately owned.
That begs the consideration of privatizing it all? Is it better because of the pride and resource commitment of owners? Because of faulty water rights that afford more hydration there? Because of a lessened public foot print? Because of cultivation?
Interesting post. I will have to check into that more.
I personally think that both state and federal management systems need to have a public accountability panel. More average citizens need to be involved in the process. The federal agencies are all under the very same accountability and transparency requirements as the rest of the government. So much so that it has deeply impacted their budgets and even some ability to be effective.
So, why not have public over-sight or at least input?
coback, I’m not sure I fully understand your question. Are you suggesting that the public lands should be privitized? If so, I am adamantly against that suggestion for a number of reasons, including my own ability to indulge myself exploring and enjoying those same lands.
I too think that Elk has a good point. In response to your question to Elk I feel that in an ideal situation the wildlife commissioners are supposed to be the public oversight. The problem as I see it is that more often than not the wildlife commissioners are recruited from the ranks of hunters and ranchers. I think they need to include those who appreciate wildlife for non-consumptive uses and could include,for example, wildlife photographers, wildlife watchers, conservationists, etc…
I am not suggesting it. I am just asking why you think that it is? Why are the private lands seemingly better? And how do we get public lands to that level? But we should consider all options, if the environment would benefit, no?
I too am against it. Just figured we should ask, why? And how can that benefit be shared?
I agree that too often hunting and ranching has deciding input on commissioners. How could we avoid that? How would we select someone who represented the greater good?
On another note, I spoke with my father about this. I figured some time generations have differing perspectives.
His input was, “If all land was privatized it would be better maintained. Just as if a rancher owns his ranch, he better cares for it than if he does land he just leases for cattle. Pride of ownership would be the benefit.”
He also felt that it would open funds up.
I didn’t get to ask what he’d use them for. My son needed me to help him get ready for some North Park fly fishing.
But it is another perspective to consider, and take some insight from.
Maybe hunting leases would be a better use of lands than grazing allotments? Hunting surcharges in the areas might be a good way to subsidize conservation and replace what revenues come from AUM’s.
Why are private lands in the west better than public lands? When the settlers came they homesteaded the creek bottoms, plowed the ground, planted crops and acquired water rights. The hillsides were freely grazed until the Taylor Grazing act of 1933. The private land has water and grows hay.
After the creek bottoms were claimed the next wave of homesteaders had to file their claims on land that did not have water. This is why sometimes it is hard to get access to federal lands as the public road goes up the creek bottom and both sides are private until the hillsides then it is public land but it still a no, no to cross private land to get to public land.
This isn’t always the case but I have seen this scenario many times
Ah, OK… your initial question makes more sense to me, now. In reply to why I think that those certain lands were withdrawn from public lands and privitized… see Elk’s answer that describes the pattern of settlement. My thoughts directly echo his and he said it succinctly. The bottom lands have the grass and water, and are sheltered vallies, as well.
In response to your Dad’s insight “If all land was privatized it would be better maintained. Just as if a rancher owns his ranch, he better cares for it than if he does land he just leases for cattle. Pride of ownership would be the benefit.” I can’t disagree. There is a certain amount of truth to this especially since our Anglo brethen are well know to be not too kind to “the commons”, as public land was sometimes referred to.
My response is that if society values those lands for commodity extraction and production then he is correct. The flip side is that private land has no oversight most of the time, and the “pride of ownership” often only goes as far as the ranch house. The pasture, water and all other assets are used for and consummed by the rancher for his product. People typically want to maximize profits and ranchers are certainly no different than other Americans in that regard. So, the end result of private land can be degraded and polluted water, overgrazing and general displacement of wildlife. While these same things happen on public lands grazing allotments, at least I might be able to have a slight bit of oversight on the federal land.
“And how do we get public lands to that level?”
I tend to think of public land as being in better shape than most private because it has more ecological diversity (not just some mono-culture of grass that gets cut and turned into steer) and that is what I value. In this scenario we are discussing, I don’t think you can get improve the public land in the surrounding hillsides and mountains to the state of the river bottoms simply because they are topographically different. In the very few areas were I find river bottom land held by the BLM or USFS I tend to think of it being more ecologically diverse and healthier (from an ecological perspective) than the surrounding private land. More diversre array of flowers, forbs, other vegetation, wildlife, etc…
“But we should consider all options, if the environment would benefit, no?”
I agree, and that is why I jumped on Ralph’s case regarding the purchase of private lands. I support any like-minded organization or individual that wants to purchase private land and return the land to biological health and away from commodity extraction. I am suspicious of any attempt at privatizing public land for the reasons I stated above in response to your Dad’s quote. The west is dotted with the past and current signs of resource extractors attempting to maximize thier private profits. Whether it is the missing Ponderosa pine forests that were heavily logged down Cortez way, or the various mining activities throughout the state that have left pollutions and corruption in thier wake or even the rancher and his cattle that have made the water undrinkable, private profits have done nothing but ruined our ecological health so that one person, or perhaps a small group, can earn a short term profit that I can garuntee you will never be reinvested back into that from where it came.
“How would we select someone who represented the greater good?”
That is not an easy task. Those commissioners are generally a political appointment, even if the specific individual is qualified to serve. What that means to me is that to make any change a person must be willing to engage the political process. Not the government per se, but rather players and backroom deal makers. An ugly business to be sure, but I think that what we are talking about here is much more political than science driven. The only way to make a change is for the public to agitate for it. I’m not holding my breath!
“That begs the consideration of privatizing it all?”
It’s no coincidence that Hardin used cattle on public lands (the commons) to illustrate the tragedy of the commons. One of the persistent problems with public lands grazing is that agencies charged with regulating are in bed with the regulated (a condition referred to as “capture”). This has to change if regulation is to work.
Privatization could also a viable solution; however there are problems (e.g., how will lands be equitably distributed, how do we ensure private landowners won’t just build condos?). The latter question is particularly relevant given the privatization means turning over control to states–and we know how western states feel about any and all regulation; moreover, we’d be back in the same position–i.e., dependent upon regulation, though without any federal control.
JB,ZeeWolf, and Elk,
Great work all. These statements all bring light to much of the problem with who manages, how and why.
These types of posts are what we need to see more!
I agree, and with further add, when my dad voiced his opinion…
“If we privatized all natural resources, we essentially give big oil and ranching carte blanche. The land will be bought, and then used solely for profit. I am already finding it harder and harder to find access to streams and shorelines. Now imagine if we could only access hunting and fishing if we could afford the fees charged by owners?”
I’d also add that most fisheries in this country are dependent on hatcheries, state and federally run. The jobs lost, the research halted. We’d lose countless immeasurable resources. The National Wildlife Research Centers, the perks of APHIS (having food inspected and invasive species kept away). The many out reach programs which educate children. The lists are long.
Snaildarter says and Leslie agrees: “The correct compromise would be to make sure there are places like the Northern Rockies where the natural world is allowed all of its parts including large predators.”
Right on! Because the interior Mountain West is the ONLY place left in the world where humans have a chance to restore a completeassemblage of species that were once present.
Which is why I’ve proclaimed over and over, at least a large hunk of it MUST be set aside as a National Monument before we lose it for good to the fracking frenzy and consolidated livestock operations!
Valerie have you ever driven down the Rockies and do you realize how much is protected by wilderness that is roadless. We get roads shut down each year. In the last three years vast exspances of backcountry has been shut down to snowmobiles.
What is a large hunk to you a million acres?
Valerie, don’t you think an overall policy would be better? For instance, having a consensus to preserve Y2Y corridors; no development policies in certain areas; relaxation of predator control policies; etc. I don’t see where a Monument could be declared, and regardless, having isolated islands of preserves has been proven to not be optimal; we need lots of environments preserved with connectivity to account for climate change unknowns as well. I would say more wilderness areas (well that’s not happening is it?), less roads, less fire suppression policies, $$ to work with ranchers for corridors and natural predator controls, no predator control on public lands and removal of fencing on public lands. That would be a start.
Greetings Robert T. and Leslie,
Great to “hear” from you!
Your astute points are well received.
What I have in mind (perhaps an alternative to National Monument status) is a wide killing-free zone which extends the Y2Y westward through the Centennial Mountains, westward to the Bitterroots and the River of No Return, so that a large swath of central Idaho* is off-limits to predator killing.
So, what do you think?
*As of the 2009 delisting, the core “recovery” zone left for wolves.
That would be wonderful. Then I wouldn’t care what anyone else does.
I should think our nation would be proud to have a Yellowstone to Yukon wilderness like that.
I am interested if you have ever been in those mountains before and understand the checkboarded landownership in the valleys. Lots of people on this forum have various ideas on what to do but have never been on the ground.
I don’t know it entirely, no.
There are a few problems with this idea.
First, private property and economics cannot cease to be relevant.
Second, it gives the impression that conserving that ‘zone’ is a complete conservation picture. It would leave people wide open to say “Well, isn’t that what the conservation zone was for?” and “Those other umpteen species outside of the zone must not truly need help.”
Third, how would this be regulated? By whom? Who would police it? Tend it?
Forth, who is going to fund this idea? Tax base will be lost, so will it be via donations?
The idea is not really new. There has ben a lot of talk about conserving a tip to border corridor. It is pretty unrealistic to expect that every person along the way, in 2 countries, will step aside and let their private property rights (and the value of that property which may depreciate based on lost revenues in those counties, states, regions, etc.) be dictated by this plan.
Not to mention, we have international agreements based on other imperiled species, and The Migratory Bird Act which obligate us to use resources to conserve habitat in South and Central America as well. Migration doesn’t begin and end with four legged predators. This really is not a fix, but a pretty picture. The pretty picture effect has caused a limited scope view of conservation and polarization of groups and citizens.
In a time when Americans are pretty up in arms about their most basic liberties being stripped away, I don’t see this as practical or realistic.
I also think it lacks a core commitment to sustained or balanced food webs or ecosystems. It would just further fragment the environment. To think that conservation in a designated area will fix the need to better understand and embrace conservation by the population as whole would be a good path, is well intended but naïve.
You would still be forcing views down people’s throats, How is that a compromise? If I ere a rancher in the are mentioned, I’d see this as someone trying to tell me how I can protect my assets, my home, my business, my lifestyle. How would pro-wolfers have compromised?
I hate to say it, but I don’t think any “side” will see concessions as ENOUGH o a compromise. There is always gong to be a rift beyond bridging on his issue. While a handful of wolf advocates say this type of arrangement would satisfy them, it would be a small amount of time before they were trying to maneuver in other areas where wolves have remained, like Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota.
I can’t help but wonder why people feel wolves in this zone are more ecologically important than others? Wolves belong in habitat that exceeds the zone.
Well intended, not scientifically. politically or economically feasible.
^If I were a rancher in the areas mentioned
Jim T. and others wanted to know my references for wolf mgnt has nothing to do with science and its about how many wolves people will tolerate (paraphrasing Ed Bangs):
“The issue has nothing to do with science,” Bangs said. “The issue of how many wolves is enough is totally about what people want and how many wolves people will tolerate.” (ref: the superlative American Prospect Magazine article: “Wolves to the Slaughter”);
Ed Bangs, a recently retired coordinator for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Project, said that the shooting of wolves is a move to placate hunters. “A little blood satisfies a lot of anger,” he said.
(ref: NY Times.Com “Hunting Wolves Out West: More, Less? (12/16/ 2011; See also “Retired U.S. Recovery Coordinator on Wolves and California.” (will return with source)
Addendum: the third ref. is from LQED news. Also in this interview, Bangs proclaimed:”
“Wolves kill livestock much less frequently that you’d believe. I find it amazing still, given almost unlimited opportunity, that there’s as few depredations as there are. But resolution of some of those conflicts has involved killing wolves. We’ve killed nearly 2,000 wolves in the past 20 years.”
“You have to remember wolves and wolf management has nothing to do with reality. I mean we can give you facts, you know, all the biology stuff. That isn’t what people talk about. They’re talking about what wolves mean to them symbolically. years due to livestock depredation.”
Addendum Two: “LQED” should read “KQED”!
This Land Was Made For You and Me
THANK YOU! The ref is just what I needed as a “cherry on the top” re: my just completed advocacy project to establish a national monument in the Northern Rockies to protect wolves and bears!
Really? Phew! With that ‘dismisal’ I got from Elk, I wasn’t so sure. 🙂
Thanks WM for the comment about easements. And Zee, great comment at 9:50 pm. My presentation may not be the best, but these were some of the points I was trying to get at, all groups trying to work together to achieve something.
The cows that are under stress are basically unable to defend themselves (could be why they’re stressing?) and have been that way since they were ‘forced’ onto the landscape against their will (yep, sarcasm alert). Who would do such a horrible thing as to force poor defenseless animals into a robust ecosystem when they have already been genetically modified to just eat and poo? What kind of animal would put them into such an unfortunate circumstance? …the nerve! And what’s their reward for surviving this plight if they do? That’s right, get in my belly so I can poo you too, cows. Horrible!
Come on y’all, life is a struggle (if we’re lucky) and most mammals will experience some resemblence of our emotions, whether its a shrew or a wolf or a cow or an elephant. The same lack of emotions we attribute to many animals was attributed to some humans a hundred years ago…..some said they just didn’t ‘feel’ pain and emotions the way =we= did. Did the people change or our perception?
Not sure if that was aimed at me, but I never said that animals “lack” emotions; rather, I said that they do not experience emotions in the same way. For humans emotion is tied tightly with cognition–we’re capable of weeping with empathy for fictional characters, or at the future implications of another’s circumstances. (The other day I had a good cry over a news story about a boy who lost his father in Afghanistan; it wasn’t my personal loss that brought about the emotion, but simply the idea that the boy would grow up not knowing his father). We share the ‘reptilian’ parts of our brains with mammals, so fear, stress, and other basic emotions are probably ‘felt’ similarly–but they certainly are not experienced similarly (i.e., with the same level of thought and the ability to comprehend the full magnitude of an event–including even predicting probable outcomes).
Life is a struggle. Some here (see above) would have us limit wolf hunts because they may cause emotions distress for the animal. They (perhaps) fail to understand that the number 1 cause of mortality in unhunted wolf populations is interspecific strife. So what is worse, the stress caused by being hunted by humans for a few months out of the year, or the stress caused by being hunted by rival packs all the time.
Again, in my opinion, there are simply too many holes in the ‘animals have emotions’ argument.
To die defending your pack….your group…. is a noble death. So be it. Getting punked by a guy looking to brag about ‘getting pink mist on a grey’…..not so much. (does this matter though?) If you were the wolf, how would you want to be remembered by your pack? Now think of humans in the same situation.
How you die IS important.
That being said, I agree with much of what you say, but would add that how the emotion is expressed, or more specifically -not expressed-, by animals is important too. Yes we are cognative, but that can’t be the whole picture. JMHO
Until a wolf can define nobility, I will remain convinced they react instinctively to survive and further evolve.
Dead, is dead. Not to be crude, but a wolf dying by bullet suffers less than one injured in a fight and becomes septic.
I believe some animals are more cognitive. They should reasoning skills. So, to some degree I can understand this argument. The ability to prove it, and then quantify it’s levels would be as hard as setting “viable population numbers”.
I almost died defending my group, you have no clue what it is to almost die.
To add, I always love to hear that certain deaths are a “noble” death, especially from those who have never been close to death!
You know me? I tell you what, I’ll do you a favor and forget about you, SB. Best I can do for you….
Figures Mark, just figures, you don’t know what a noble death is, I know based on your postings here, you have no idea of what death is like, or even what it could be like.
And yes, it would be great if you forget me, but I guarantee you, with statements like you made today, I won’t forget you.
If you have been close and know what it is like, then why don’t you explain how you can make statements like that? You define something?
Thanks so much, for your service.
There is no need to thank me, and many don’t. I do know if I have two choices to make in the morning, one to be ripped up in a fight and left to bleed to death from my injuries or shot with a quick conclusion, I am taking the bullet.
There is no nobility in the wolf world, they simply do what they do to survive and reproduce, I am sure they feel loss, but not in the sense we do.
Again, a “Noble” death is a human definition, not an animal kingdom “emotion”
Mark, sorry our conversation got hijacked. I really don’t know that animals think much about how they die, and I’m not sure how they die effects how they’re remembered (or if they’re remembered at all). Certainly it matters to many humans how we die. It very much bothers us me when I learn of some horrific death, even if it’s someone I don’t know. But animals die horrific deaths all the time (mother nature can be a real bitch).
I don’t think our cognitive differences are the only ways we differ from animals. Heck, the way wolves interpret their world (relying on sense of smell, for example) must be very different. I was simply providing one illustration of how we differ that, to me, challenges the notion of sameness or similiarity of emotions that some here rely on when making arguments against wolf hunting.
JB & Mark,
I read some more about animals an mourning last night.
I definitely think different species have different levels of it. Elephants and Proboscis monkeys are a good couple to look at.
Did not mean to hijack anything 🙂
I would add though, humans die with emotional hardship attached and I would not wish that on any person or animal. Wolves are lucky to be less cognizant of the emotional spectrum of grief.
The only thing you know from my posting on here is that I post. Beyond that, you are friggin’ clueless, man. Basing a judgement on internet posts is par for your course though….no doubt. Carry on, Savebears, to whatever shallow depth you wallow in. You get what you deserve.
Yada, yada, yada.
You are a hypocrite, you have judged me base on my posts, so it is only reasonable that I judge you based on your posts.
Can you say you know me?
Also, I have no problem getting what I deserve, but it seems you have a different opinion based on what you post?
oops, “you have a different opinion of what you deserve, based on what you post”
Sure Savebears, I’ll take the bait. Where have I judged you based on your posts?
Good Night Mark
You are a hero, nobody but soldiers can come close to the true meaning of these thing but you. You seem like a very honorable man, and you choose your principles first, you told us something about and experience you had where right thing took precedence.
I do think animals have emotion, as JB said ours have evolved from them. Maybe not as complex as our but not to be dismissed either. I wonder if not all human beings have complex emotions either.
I’d want to take my chances in the wild world that I know, than have an entitled human take my life or my family’s, or take over my home, because he made up a law about it that has nothing to do with me.