Speak for Wolves August 7-9, 2015 West Yellowstone, Montana

Wildlife management reform objective one-

Speak for Wolves is an opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and restore our national heritage. This year’s event is set to take place in the Union Pacific Dining Lodge on August 7-9, 2015 in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Here is the first objective in reforming the broken system of wildlife management in America: Restructure state fish & game department operations

Western governors currently appoint fish and game commissioners, who in-turn use their authority to influence agency policy, particularly predator management. This is cronyism at its worst. State fish and game departments are funded in large part by the sale of hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses. As a result, these agencies serve the primary interest of “sportsmen,” while sentiments of citizens that do not hunt, fish or trap are given much less consideration. Terminating the political appointment of agency commissioners, creating innovative funding mechanisms, applying the best available science, and incorporating genuine public involvement in decision making is sorely needed within state fish and game departments. Since state legislatures determine state fish and game department operations, however, a more likely alternative would be for the federal government to assume the management of all wildlife on federal public lands.

In the coming weeks, we will list the other four principles towards reforming wildlife management in America. Thanks!


  1. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    What a beautiful place to have the event! I’m hoping to make it this year.

    1. Brett Haverstick Avatar
      Brett Haverstick

      Would love to have you at this year’s event Ida.

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        Thank you Brett – I’m going to try very hard to attend. I haven’t been to Yellowstone in awhile and I love it.

  2. Joanne Favazza Avatar
    Joanne Favazza

    Thanks Brett. I really enjoyed the event last year. Not sure I can make it this year, but I’ll definitely be there in spirit!

    1. Brett Haverstick Avatar
      Brett Haverstick

      Stay in touch Joanne–I know it’s a long trip for you to make it!

  3. rork Avatar

    I got asked the other day if most other states have commissions like our NRC in MI, which is also appointed by Gov (with senate approval, 7 members, 4-year terms), and also why we have them. I explained it was better than having our DNR making the decisions directly, since they are really beholden to hood and bullet crowd, whereas the NRC could be less biased, and think of the wishes of all the citizens better. DNR director still has plenty of say on day to day things about hunting a fishing, but many hunt and fish regs need NRC approval (proposal is almost always made by DNR though, but NRC sometimes tweaks things).
    How it works in other states is less clear to me. This post seems to be complaining that the head of the DNR (it’s named various things in different states, which makes it harder to study, and there may be several departments) is picked by governor and runs the department. No explicit alternative was proposed. Does it want an NRC like we have? (PS: if legislature doesn’t like what NRC is doing, it can pass bills.)
    PS: 3 of the 7 current commissioners were first appointed by previous gov Granholm (democrat) but reappointed to another term by current gov Snyder (republican), including the chairman, a democrat.

    1. rork Avatar

      Durn, hook and bullet. “paging Dr. Freud”

    2. JB Avatar

      Nearly all states have some kind of wildlife board/commission. Typically, members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. Note–these folks only have powers appointed to them by the legislature (typically, setting timing of hunting seasons, and other minor regulations [e.g., harvest quotas]). Some states have membership requirements, like 3 of 7 must come from agriculture or have a hunting background.

      I agree with your critique of this post — it is pretty typical for a governor to appoint heads of administrative agencies (DNRs included). It is problematic, in this case, because the people who are typically appointed are old, white men who farm and/or hunt (and thus are not representative of the public writ large). The alternatives (at least those that seem obvious to me) are to elect these officials (unlikely) or to increase the size of these administrative bodies so more interests can be representative. There may be others that I haven’t thought of?

      Two good law reviews on the topic…

      Musiker D.G., France T., Hallenbeck L.A. (1995) The Public Trust and Parens Patriae Doctrines: Protecting Wildlife in Uncertain Political Times. Public Land & Resources Law Review 16, 87-116.

      Horner S.M. (2000) Embryo, Not Fossil: Breathing Life into Public Trust in Wildlife. Land & Water L Rev 35, 23-75.

      1. Brett Haverstick Avatar
        Brett Haverstick

        Thank you for sharing this JB–will check it out.

    3. Brett Haverstick Avatar
      Brett Haverstick

      Hi rork yes states have different names but my understanding is they are essentially the same system: commissioners are appointed by governor (politics-special interests 1), approved by the legislature(politics-special interests 2), commissioners provide direction or direct policy (politics-special interests 3) for fish-game departments. Science, democracy and public involvement is sorely missing in all of this. While I do not try and pretend that I know all the history or dynamics behind this system, I in fact do offer an alternative, which is listed in the post. My goal behind the project is to educate and inspire Americans to have conversations about wildlife management reform.

  4. Ed Loosli Avatar
    Ed Loosli

    “Wolves In Paradise – Yellowstone’s Wolves in Transition” by Christina Eisenberg


    The Lamar Canyon pack’s response to the wolf hunt demonstrates both resilience and instability in the face of challenges. A reinstated no-wolf hunting buffer around Yellowstone would return these and other wolves to being a protected research population and fully realizing their ecological role.

  5. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    I thought I’d make my reservations now (Yay!!!) – any suggestions on where to stay? Grey Wolf Inn? 😉

    It would be nice to be able arrange to see them too.

    1. skyrim Avatar

      Ida: The best lodging (IMO) is a tent in Bakers Hole Campground 7 miles outside of town. Bring your own food inside the comforts of your Prius.
      Meaning: Spend the smallest amount of money possible. At the event you’ll be among friends, but when you are out and about at other gatherings you’ll be in the frequent company of the enemy.
      I’d like to go, but me and Montana are currently on the outs. There’s nothing worse than leaving hundreds of dollars in town and then discovering the feelings of your hosts and merchants towards Bison and Wolves. I’ve done that. It’s painful.
      Just sayin’

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve considered that too – should I spend money where people are hostile towards wildlife (and advocates!) Although it would be good to see what that’s like to understand it. I was wondering about places that would be more friendly to wildlife advocates. I’ve never come wearing my heart on my sleeve before, just as a regular tourist – never had any problem.

        1. Elk375 Avatar


          Book your lodging at the Old Faithful Inn, do it now there might not even be any rooms left. It is in the park and the park is wolf friendly.


          What difference does it make, all hotel rooms will be sold out those nights regardless whether you are there or not.

          1. Ida Lupine Avatar
            Ida Lupine

            Great! 🙂 Thanks, Elk.

            I have stayed there – beautiful. But I wondered if it is close enough to the event? I guess it doesn’t matter.

            1. Elk375 Avatar

              It is 30 miles. You will need to get reservations now, not next week.

            2. Brett Haverstick Avatar
              Brett Haverstick

              Hi Ida we have lodging/camping locations on the event website http://www.speakforwolves.org/lodging-camping/

          2. skyrim Avatar

            I stand alone Elk, just as I always have. I don’t give a $hit about your point. None of my money, far and beyond the cost of lodging, will be laying around in West waiting for the bank to open on Monday.
            BTW, please feel free to leave your butt and your money behind when next considering a trip to Utah. It’s really the only logical response to my actions. It’s fair. I’ll understand and try to explain your absence to the local Chamber of Commerce.

            1. JB Avatar


              I don’t think the (us vs. them) dichotomy helps–indeed, tribalism may be the problem here. When I find myself among those who are skeptical about wolves, I try to give logical counterpoints in a polite manner. I want to leave them thinking…”man, that guy nice’s, and really knows his stuff” and hopefully plant a seed of doubt.

              When we avoid the folks on ‘the other side’ then they only hear the echos of their own perspectives and the shrieks of those angry enough to engage them. Neither will be of much help for finding common ground.

              1. skyrim Avatar

                I appreciate your reasoning JB, but I think I’ll leave the peace making to folks like you. I may have “coexist” and “tolerance” bumper stickers, but I have become a poor spokesman for either camp.

              2. timz Avatar

                Trying to plant seeds of doubt with wolf haters is like planting corn in cement.

                1. Immer Treue Avatar
                  Immer Treue

                  A tempered +1.

                2. Louise Kane Avatar
                  Louise Kane

                  Timz this is why I think that a radical overhaul of laws is needed including educational programs that focus on natural systems and how they work sort of like early earth science but with a module to teach about wildlife, their cooperative relationships, how evolution, habitat and human influence affect species and whether their populations are inhibited or expanded. Without education and a new wildlife management paradigm nothing will change or will get worse, as is happening now. I think the legal aspect must be accompanied by early education.

                3. OutdoorFunNut Avatar

                  I think your comment is funny for I have a rather large “cement” planter of which I actually grown some corn, successfully.


                  I have had the opportunity to attend a presentation by David McFarland of the WI DNR at one of the local environmental centers. This presentation was attended by quite a few pro wolf attendees. Part of the presentation was an aerial view and schematic and timeline of the issues their department was having in an area of Ashland Co WI. The well documented portrayal of cases of depredation and habituation and timeline was quite clear.

                  Seeds are sown on both sides some end up in “cement” planters and grow. Could that be why the WI Congressman is putting forth a bill to permanently delist? Has the HSUS giving to much ammo to the “wolf haters”?

              3. Ida Lupine Avatar
                Ida Lupine

                It’s easy to holler in outrage, but it doesn’t do much good – even can be another obstacle.

                I’ve been awful (sorry all!) – but I think even I realize it isn’t doing any good to shriek. 🙂

                1. timz Avatar

                  Yes but you cheat and add soil.; I meant planting it directly in the fresh, wet cement.

      2. SAP Avatar

        I live 35 miles down the Madison from West. I shop there, have friends there, x-c ski there. If there’s a simmering conflict there, it’s between non-motorized and motorized recreation. West (as you know, but some may not) is literally on the Park boundary, and benefits mightily from abundant wildlife for tourists to see.

        Sure, it’s not a big love-in of modern-day Aldo Leopolds or anything. But it’s not like the whole town is in a wolf & bison-killin’ frenzy, either.

        As with any tourist town, probably 60% of the population is working 70 hour weeks cleaning motel rooms and stocking shelves and washing dishes. They probably don’t devote a great deal of thought to wildlife issues. You might have a hard-core of people who believe the West is being taken away from them by buffalo hippies. But I sure wouldn’t blame the whole town for them, nor for the senseless government-run abuse of bison in the area.

        If there is a major socio-ecological conflict in that basin, it’s probably with thoughtless people letting bears get into garbage and other unnatural foods. Some of it is almost certainly intentional — bait bears in so they can sit on the deck and entertain their friends with a private bear show.

        So I really don’t think you’d be sticking it to anti-wildlife businesses by boycotting West Yellowstone. And we don’t have a state sales tax here, so no purchases would support the state government. There is a local resort tax that stays right there in West.

        1. Brett Haverstick Avatar
          Brett Haverstick

          In meeting with the Chamber of Commerce President I was told that wolves are becoming less and less of a controversy due to all the tourist money. I was told however that the bison issue is alive and kicking. For the record buffalo hippies rule and bison traps suck.

  6. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Well that’s it then – I certainly want any money I spend to go to those who work hard so that visitors can enjoy their visit, and communities. I love the old lodges at the parks anyway.

  7. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane


    in a rare departure from a canid posting, this is an awesome video of an octopus hunting out of water! When I was growing up my father’s side of the family is italian, they ate octopus. We had it every Christmas. I can’t stand the thought of them being fished now. I used to see the fishermen in the Caribbean haul them up and throw them on the beach to die. Just down the street from my home in St Thomas was a beautiful cove with a reef. I’d walk there daily and throw on my snorkel gear, swim the perimeter and the grassy areas. It got so that a group of yellowtail , some squid and an occasional octopus would meet me somedays. Always the same animals, always accompanying me in my rounds swimming nearby and alongside. My husband has taken some of the most amazing underwater images of squid at night. The squid and octopi of the world are such marvelous creatures. Needless to say I have lost my taste. anyhow, I have never see one out of water hunting.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      That’s amazing. We’re so callous in our treatment of other creatures. 🙁

  8. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane

    First off sorry for the two misplaced posts, Octopus and diminishing willdife…I was on the wrong thread. Now on the right track, Brett was very encouraged to see your event posted on this FB site that I was just made aware of,
    Hunters for Predators!

    I was looking at the posts and saw that your event was being advertised. Given that the central theme of Speak for Wolves is to end hunting of predators, I was delighted.

    Thumbs up to hunters for predators.

    They stand out in contrast to the sea of dismal internet sites devoted to killing predators using every unimaginable inhumane indefensible methods. Most of these sites post images that are right out horror movies and books, but target wildlife instead of humans.

  9. Patricia Randolph Avatar

    The restructuring must include REPLACING killing license funding with GENERAL PUBLIC FUNDS and we the wildlife watching, non-violent to wildlife public, bring 10-40 times the revenue of the minority killing faction directly to state tax coffers and twice directly to federal tax coffers – according to USFWS economic surveys. Even in Wisconsin which is recruiting trappers and hunters in a ramped up campaign of $5 kill all you want licenses, the non-killing public brings 11 times the revenue of hunters directly to state tax coffers. The killing license funding of $40 million is a third of our contribution to the state – but our money is not directed to power. REPLACE KILLING LICENSES WITH GENERAL PUBLIC FUNDS TIED TO FAIR PROPORTIONATE REPRESENTATION ON NATURE/WILDLIFE BOARDS WHO MAKE POLICY.

    1. Ed Loosli Avatar
      Ed Loosli

      I think you are exactly right that eventually the salaries and expenses of the state Fish & Wildlife departments must come from the state’s GENERAL FUND. The way it is now in most states, the money for Fish & Wildlife departments come from the “hook and bullet” folks and therefore, that is all they care about — even though the non-consumptive wildlife folks contribute much more to the overall economy of each state.


Brett Haverstick is the Education & Outreach Director for Friends of the Clearwater, a public lands advocacy group in Moscow, Idaho. He has a Masters of Natural Resources from the University of Idaho.

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Brett Haverstick