Conservation Groups Challenge Wolf Hunting

A coalition of 13 wolf advocate groups have submitted a motion to Judge Molloy’s court asking for a preliminary injunction to stop the Idaho and Montana wolf hunts.

Memorandum in Support of Motion For Preliminary Injunction (41 pages)

The above memorandum in support of the Preliminary Injunction request is a phenomanal effort – those interested in this important piece of conservation history are encouraged to read it.

The Press Release Follows:

Conservation Groups Challenge Wolf Hunting

Missoula, MT— Conservation groups today asked a federal district court to block fall wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana. The request came in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to restore federal Endangered Species Act protections to wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains until wolf numbers are stronger, the states develop an adequate legal safety net, and connectivity between recovery areas is assured.

Idaho has authorized the intentional killing of 255 wolves in a wolf hunt, scheduled to begin September 1. The authorized wolf killing via hunting in Idaho represents 30 percent of the last reported Idaho wolf population estimate, which was 846 wolves at the end of December 2008. Montana has authorized the intentional killing of 75 wolves in a wolf hunt, scheduled to begin September 15. Montana has authorized the killing of 15 percent of its last official wolf population estimate, which was 497 wolves at the end of December 2008. There were only 39 breeding pairs in Idaho last year, and just 34 in Montana.

The wolf hunting is in addition to wolf killing due to livestock conflicts, defense-of-property wolf killing, and natural mortality. The hunting would occur throughout the states, including in core wilderness regions where wolves have virtually no conflicts with human activities. Idaho and Montana currently have no cap on wolf killing. For example, under Idaho law, there is no limit on wolf killing in defense of livestock. The combined loss of all these wolves threatens the recovery of the still-vulnerable regional wolf population in the northern Rockies.

Under the challenged U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf delisting rule, Idaho and Montana are free to reduce the wolf population down to 150 per state – a potential loss of roughly two-thirds of the region’s wolves.

The scheduled wolf hunts would cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. The wolf hunts would also allow the killing of the breeding “alpha” male and female wolves, thereby disrupting the social group, leaving pups more vulnerable.

No other endangered species has ever been delisted at such a low population level and then immediately hunted to even lower unsustainable levels.

The decision to hunt wolves comes as Yellowstone National Park wolves declined by 27 percent last year – one of the largest declines reported since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995. The northern Rockies wolf population also has not achieved a level of connectivity between the greater Yellowstone, central Idaho, and northwest Montana areas that is essential to wolves’ long-term survival.

Wolves are still under federal protection in Wyoming because a federal court previously ruled that Wyoming’s hostile wolf management scheme leaves wolves in “serious jeopardy.” The Fish and Wildlife Service in the recent past held that a state-by-state approach to delisting wolves was not permitted under the Endangered Species Act, but the federal government flip flopped on its earlier position and this year took wolves in Idaho and Montana off the endangered species list while leaving those in Wyoming on the list.

In addition to Wyoming, the states of Idaho and Montana have refused to make enforceable commitments to maintain viable wolf populations within their borders.

Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Network, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.

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“Wolves need to be managed, but in a responsible way that allows for a healthy wolf population while reducing conflicts, rather than aggravating them. The bottom line is that the federal delisting and state management plans don’t provide for a sustainable wolf population in the Northern Rockies, and wolves should not be hunted at this time – particularly not at the unsustainable levels that have been announced for this fall.”

Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife

“At a point when we are so close to having a truly restored wolf population, the State of Idaho is going to issue an unlimited number of wolf tags to eliminate 30 percent of the State’s wolf population,” says Louisa Willcox, Senior Wildlife Advocate for the Natural Resource Defense Council.” As a top predator, these creatures are vital to the health of the northern Rockies ecosystem, but many of the ecological improvements that we’ve seen as a result of their reintroduction to the region will be imperiled by the Idaho and Montana hunts. While we are not against hunting, we are against conducting them prematurely, and in such a reckless and counterproductive manner.”

“The chance for wild wolves to return to their native habitat in Oregon from the Rockies, through the Blue Mountains, and onto the Cascades will be slim to none under this proposed “management” approach. These potential reductions to the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population threaten to negate the level of recovery that has been achieved over the past decade and will be a major setback for restoring regional connectivity and a sustainable wolf population over the long-term.” Jennifer Schwartz, Staff Attorney/ Campaign Director for Hells Canyon Preservation Council

“The state of Idaho’s eagerness to substantially reduce the wolf population in the backcountry bleeds through in its 2009 hunting regulations. The infamous Lolo Unit wolf killing proposal again rears its ugly head in these regulations as a seven month (Sept. 1- Mar 31) long season, allowing hunting pressure when the gray wolf is most sensitive.” Will Boyd, Education Director, Friends of the Clearwater

“The recent announcements by the states of Idaho and Montana to institute hunts to significantly reduce the population of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies makes clear that the federal government’s decision to turn management of wolves over to these states is premature, and unlikely to ensure their survival,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation with The Humane Society of the United States. “The federal government’s efforts to strip wolves of all federal protection have been repeatedly struck down by the courts, and this latest rule is no more likely to succeed than the previous failed attempts.”

“A hunt in Idaho and Montana will mean even fewer wolves will survive to reach Yellowstone,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, “and that will further isolate the Yellowstone wolves and hasten genetic problems that scientists say will lower pup survival in coming years.”

“It is too soon to begin hunting wolves in the northern Rockies. When other species have been removed from the endangered species list, state management has progressed slowly and cautiously in order to ensure sustainable and healthy population levels. Aggressive hunting plans in Idaho and Montana will dramatically reduce gray wolf populations and jeopardize the future of gray wolves in the northern Rockies.” Melanie Stein, Associate Regional Representative, Sierra Club

“Wolf hunting is premature,” said Doug Honnold of Earthjustice, who represents the conservation groups in the wolf delisting lawsuit. “The states haven’t demonstrated that they are ready to achieve and maintain legitimate wolf recovery. We will work to stop this indiscriminate wolf killing.”

98 Responses to “Conservation Groups Challenge Wolf Hunting”

  1. Lynne Stone Says:

    When can we expect a decision on the injunction? Any chance by Sept. 1st, before the wolf season brings hoards of wolf killers to the beautiful Sawtooth and Payette country? Autumn will never be the time of peace and beauty here again, unless this all out wolf season madness is stopped.

  2. JB Says:

    This is going to be an interesting case. There is FWS precedent for state-by-state listing. When wolves were first listed, they were listed as threatened in Minnesota and endangered everywhere else in the conterminous US. However, the courts have recently held that using political boundaries (i.e. state lines) to determine where a species should be listed/delisted is arbitrary and capricious. Honestly, I think this could go either way.

  3. Barb Rupers Says:

    The rules were changed regarding the wolves that could be killed during the hunting season – they now do not include kills to benefit ranchers by “wildlife services” or defending personal property or self?

  4. Marc Cooke Says:

    We need to keep the pressure on! This is the best news I have had since these wonderful creatures were removed from the ESA. That said, I too believe that this could go either way. I hope Judge Malloy continues to make his decision on science. I am hearing many whispers in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana that if the wolves are returned to the ESA many hunters are going to take matters into their own hands. I spend alot of time out there and this scares the hell out of me.

  5. bambi Says:

    I spend time in the Cabinet Wilderness area in the summer and interact with locals in Libby Montana, wolves are not well liked there. This is a frightening dilemma.

  6. Layton Says:

    “At a point when we are so close to having a truly restored wolf population, the State of Idaho is going to issue an unlimited number of wolf tags to eliminate 30 percent of the State’s wolf population,” says Louisa Willcox, Senior Wildlife Advocate for the Natural Resource Defense Council.”

    First of all 30% of the current, generally recognized number of wolves in Idaho would be 300 the way I was taught to do arithmatic. Maybe Ms. Wilcox learned a different way.

    Second, this “genetic isolation” straw dog that the “wolfies” are putting out is getting pretty old. If the wolves could migrate in and out of Canada to the point that subspecies differences were no longer important, what is stopping them from doing the same thing now??

    Lynne,

    “all out wolf season”?? I think not — 220 isn’t by ANY means “all out”.

    “Hoards of wolf killers”?? Have you ever heard of a cartoon character called chicken little??

  7. John d. Says:

    Good luck to them.

  8. catbestland Says:

    Layton,

    “Hoards of wolf killers”?? Have you ever heard of a cartoon character called chicken little??

    No, but I know lots of Elmer Fudds!!

  9. Lynne Stone Says:

    After reading the Earthjustice injunction, for the 1st time I learn that IDFG has allotted 35 wolf tags to Indian tribes. This brings the total of wolves to be hunted and killed, from 220 (what has been stated in all IDFG press releases) to 255. I don’t know the details of where the tribes can kill their 35 wolves.

    Layton – 55 tags for the Sawtooth Zone – that’s half of the 2008 wolf population here.

    The wolf hunters are already showing up, “scouting”. Wonder how the archery crowd (bow season starts August 30 for almost anything with four legs, will like all the rifle target practicing that’s going to occur around Sept. 1.

  10. Lynne Stone Says:

    Barb – you are correct. In a smoke & mirrors move, IDFG announced the wolf quota as 220. IDFG failed to mention the 35 allotted to the tribes, bring the total to 255. IDFG commissioners also said this was a lower figure than 2008 quota. Well, barely. Year 2008 was for 273 wolves that could be hunted and killed.

    Worse, is that in 2009, the number of wolves executed by Wildlife Services has no bearing on the wolf hunt quota. And, kill permits are being handed out to ranchers like grocery coupons. As I stated in an earlier thread, 12 people have shoot on sight permits for three Basin Butte wolves here in Stanley. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the pups, or collared wolves or what. It’s revenge killing.

  11. ProWolf in WY Says:

    Layton, I think there is a risk of the “Elmer Fudds” taking matters into their own hands and killing more than the 220 wolves. This is a legitimate concern but hopefully the wolf hunters will be responsible. Maybe Idaho can be a model state, who knows.

    Also, the genetic argument is about (my understanding at least) a lack of evidence that is has occurred. I don’t think people are denying that it can happen.

  12. Brian Ertz Says:

    Judge Molloy set a hearing for wolf advocates’ request for preliminary injunction for August 31

  13. timz Says:

    “BOISE, Idaho — Outlets that sell Idaho hunting licenses reported brisk wolf tag business, as shooters across the state prepare for the chance to bag up to 220 of the predators starting Sept. 1.”

    Wonder if they are refundable?

  14. JB Says:

    “First of all 30% of the current, generally recognized number of wolves in Idaho would be 300 the way I was taught to do arithmatic. Maybe Ms. Wilcox learned a different way.”

    I don’t want to start yet another numbers debate, but…

    846: Number of wolves estimated in Idaho as of the April 2009 Final Rule (i.e. official federal estimate).

    220: Number of tags proposed for Idaho hunters.
    35: Number of tags proposed for tribal hunters.

    (220 + 35) / 846 = 30.14%

  15. ProWolf in WY Says:

    Have people been clamoring for the tribal permits as well? Also, when they say the number of permits sold with other species, do they usually count the tribal and general (if that’s the word) separate like that?

  16. Ralph Maughan Says:

    I could be wrong, but I doubt tribal members are keen on bagging a wolf.

  17. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Judge Molloy has scheduled a 3-hour hearing Aug. 31 in Missoula on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction sought by the conservation groups.

  18. Ryan Says:

    JB,

    There are 88 confirmed Wolf pack in ID, lets assume 70 have 3 pups survive (conservatively) Assuming everyone tags out it would be a 4% reduction in population.. Not much in comparision to what they were planning.

  19. Ken Cole Says:

    The tribal permits are managed by the tribes themselves so, no, they aren’t counting tribal permits with those numbers. I don’t know how or if the tribe is distributing permits. They are allotted a certain percentage of the yearly harvest by treaty right I believe. In a way this is handled similarly to salmon and steelhead harvest. By treaty right members of certain tribes can harvest a percentage of the so-called “surplus” salmon and steelhead.

    The Nez Perce Tribe has very strong language in their treaty compared to other tribes which gives them the right to hunt and fish in their traditional hunting and fishing areas. These aren’t privileges they are rights.

    I think I am describing this correctly. Anyone with a greater understanding could weigh in at any time as it might be more complicated than I understand.

  20. Ralph Maughan Says:

    In my view the big issue for the wolf population will not be the hunt (unless it is stopped by the judge). The real toll on wolves will come from Wildlife Services killing entire wolf packs (thus decreasing genetic diversity) supposedly in response to livestock depredations.

    The Fish and Game Commission made it pretty clear they are going tell the Fish and Game Department to issue broad killing permits for WS in response to a depredation. For example, a pack of ten may eliminated after just one lamb is killed, or said to have been killed by a wolf.

    It’s not the hunter that is the great threat to wolves, nor was it 100 years ago. It’s livestock operations and agencies who enable them — subsidize them, support them and do their dirty work.

  21. JB Says:

    Ryan, I’m not going to argue numbers. As I’ve already said, I think this number (220) is easily sustained. I was just commenting on how a reasonable person could get to the number 30%.

    Something folks might want to keep in mind is the concept of compensatory v. additive mortality. I’m adapting/warping this concept somewhat because the majority of wolf mortality is human-caused (i.e. non-natural). Still, some wolves that will be killed by legal hunting would’ve been killed anyway by vehicle collisions, illegal harvest, and WS lethal “control” actions.

  22. Barb Rupers Says:

    JB. what bothers me is that wolves killed by actions other than hunting (road kill, private property protection, Wildlife Services take, etc) no longer count in the take quota. The delisting originally stated that these would count. That is one of the points of contention in the legal case. Idaho changed its commitment on this issue.

  23. ProWolf in WY Says:

    Barb, that was my concern with Wyoming’s management plan as well. Since wolves could be shot on sight in 90% of the state and they wouldn’t count toward the quota, there was cause to worry.

  24. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Ralph:

    I’m a writer, and wolves appear in some of the stuff I’m writing. I also have a blog that more or less relates to the subjects I’m writing about, and I’m definitely going to blog about these depressing and disgusting developments. I want to stop this, and I’ve also shared with Facebook.

    For those of you who maybe interested in what my blog has to say about this, please go to:

    http://www.writersdailygrind.blogspot.com

    You will shortly see what I have blogged, plus there willb e a link to this site.
    Anne Gilbert

  25. Layton Says:

    Anne Gilbert,

    Don’t most writers profess to do at least SOME research before blabbing misinformation in print??

    I went to your blog — what a crock of crap!!

    Couldn’t you at least try to get a LITTLE BIT straight about the hunt that has been set??

    It’s not even worth it to go into specifics — suffice it to say that there is not much that is correct in your “blurb” concerning the subject.

  26. Save bears Says:

    “I don’t know the amount of wolves in the Montana Hunt” Well I guess that pretty well shows the writer of this blog has very little credibility…come on, if your going to be a reporter, then do it from the middle, at least five the American people the truth and not opinion and emotion…..there is no proposal on the table to conduct these hunts from airplanes…

    You sight Ralph’s blog to get more information, but I have not found anything that says hunters will be able to hunt wolves from airplanes on this blog!

    Just goes to show, people read what they want, and have no understand of what has been published!

  27. JEFF E Says:

    while Anna is some what off the mark and seems to have been in a hurry (not good Anna, especially with the topic at hand) the fact that more people will view this web site to get accurate information is a good thing.

  28. JEFF E Says:

    sorry, should be Anne, see what being in a hurry does

  29. Barb Rupers Says:

    Though well intended I don’t think that Anne will do much to help the cause of wolves.

    Layton is right on this one!

  30. Brian Ellway Says:

    I don’t think I would my site affiliated or linked with Anne’s whatsoever. What a load of hyped up lies and misinformation. I’m embarrassed for you Anne.

  31. Anne Gilbert Says:

    To brian, Layton, and all who essentially said my blog was a load of crap: If you guys had read it through, with comprehension, I ldid link backc to this site, specifically so that anyone who wanted to, could get “hard” information. Next time, please write directly to my blog, if you have comments about something like this.
    Anne G

  32. Ralph Maughan Says:

    I just read Anne Gilbert’s blog. It seems like an interesting blog to me.

    Anne did do what any of you can do — link back to your blog (although it should really be your blog).

    Let’s see, Brian Ellway. Are you the Brian with Duck’s Unlimited? Why don’t you link to that if that’s you?

  33. Save bears Says:

    Anne,

    Your blog is filled with inaccurate statements, which lead people who have any knowledge of this subject to look elsewhere, to you credit, you did link back to Ralph’s blog, but I suspect most would disregard and move on.. I am sure your passion is in the right place, but your articulation is sorely lacking….

  34. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Save Bears:

    Perhaps. It depends on what sort of knowledge you consider valuable and accurate. I have a feeling you disagree with me(and perhaps Ralph Maughan, too), but you would rather attack than present a counterargument. But that, I suppose, is another story.
    Anne G

  35. Save bears Says:

    Anne,

    Normally Ralph and I don’t disagree, we may have a different views, but not a disagreement, you have published many things in your blog, that are inaccurate, such as the hunting from airplanes and that one third of wolves will be wiped out, as I said, I am sure your passion is in the right place, but your information is misplaced and inaccurate….you would do your self good to research some more so you actually present accurate information…

  36. Save bears Says:

    Anne, by the way, I was the anonymous comment on your blog, I did try to sign in but it rejected my comment based on your settings, I have again commented, but I suspect, you will not publish it..

  37. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Save BEars:

    Well, in the first place, do the math. If there are approximately 675 wolves in Idaho, and you kill off 225 of them, that’s approximately on-third of the wolves! I admit that it’s possible that the “hunting from airplains” may be inaccurate — for Idaho, but it isn’t in Alaska, where this disgusting stuff has been enthusiastically encouraged. And farmers and ranchers in Idaho and Montana opposed the reintroduction of wolves to the Greater Yellowstone area right from the beginning, lobbied to get wolves removed from the Endangered Species list for a long, long time, and once they were removed, lobbied for a chance to hunt them. Much of this lobbying has come from farmers and ranchers, who feel that their economic interests are threatened. I sympathize with this to some extent, but wolf hunts aren’t the solution.
    Anne G

  38. Save bears Says:

    Anne,

    The current estimates of wolf populations in Idaho are 1000, not 675, I don’t understand where you are getting this information? Please point me in that direction, so I can read it..

    Some farmers and ranchers opposed reintroduction, but not all of them..

    We are not talking about Alaska, we are talking about Montana and Idaho, Alaska is a completely different subject..

    The USFWS made the choice to remove them and it was backed up by the current administration, wrong or right, it is in fact approved by the Head of the Dept of the Interior..

    Anne, there are lots of books out there, both pro and anti, but only reading one side of the story, does not lend credibility to your passion, I am sorry, you are wrong on many of your points…

    I don’t know if wolf hunts are the solution, but wolf hunts will happen one way or another, a judge in Missoula is not going to stop them, and don’t be afraid of those you listen to, but be afraid of those you don’t hear….

  39. Ken Cole Says:

    Anne,
    The current estimate of wolves in Idaho is somewhere above 846 which was the end-of-the-year estimate. They have had pups since then and there have also been some heavy handed control actions too.

    I suspect the actual number is somewhere around 950-1000 but there will continue to be mortality from various sources including hunting and control actions. The end-of-the-year estimate is the traditional measurement used to count wolf population growth.

  40. Ken Cole Says:

    Save Bears beat me to it.

  41. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Ken:

    Even if the current estimate is 950-1000, that’s stil one-fourth of the wolf population. Not as many as 1-third. But quite a few. And while Save Bears is correct that somefarmers and ranchers were okqay with wolves, the plaini fact is, that most aren’t. As for Alaska, all right. Fair enough. Maybe they aren’t planning to do aerial hunting in Ida ho or Montana, but wolf hunts won’t solve the problems of people who think that killing off wolves will result in more deer and elk to hunt. Wolf hunts won’t solve much of anything, and really aren’t necessary.
    Anne G

  42. Save bears Says:

    Anne,

    actually when it comes down to it, it was pretty much a 50-50 split on reintroduction, in some districts it was against and in some districts if was for, but as an average it was pretty much split down the middle.

    Now when it comes down to wolf hunts, no one knows if they will solve anything, there is no real data on this type of situation, everything is pure speculation, there have been no wolf hunts since they were wiped out, science tells us, that wolves will survive a hunt, emotion says they won’t, now which side is right? I have no idea…

    There is no Maybe on the aerial hunting of wolves, it is not legal for the normal hunter, the hunter that buys a tag, needs to hunt legally, the only agency that is authorized to hunt from the air is the Wildlife services.

    Anne, this is a very emotionally charged issue on both sides, hopefully it will finally become a science based issue.., but without data from both sides, it continues to be emotionally charged…Next week we will all know what is going to happen….

  43. catbestland Says:

    When you add the 220 quota to the number of wolves that will be “controlled” by Wildlife Services, it will probably result in a greater than 1/3 reduction in the population.

  44. Save bears Says:

    You don’t know that for a fact, now do you, everything being said, is nothing but pure speculation..

  45. ProWolf in WY Says:

    When you add the 220 quota to the number of wolves that will be “controlled” by Wildlife Services, it will probably result in a greater than 1/3 reduction in the population.

    Catbestland, that is the main cause for concern IMHO with this whole scenario. I would be interested to see what kind of effect is has on predations with a reduced population, loss of alphas, etc. The worry I have is, will the states of Idaho and Montana continue to have their quotas like they are or will they reduce them accordingly? Unfortunately, the only way to answer this question will be to see how the wolf hunt goes.

    Save bears, you say it was a 50-50 split on reintroductions. Was that the overall population? Was that in all three states? The reason I ask, is so many people are so anti-wolf that I always come across. But then again, I have my theory that some people are anti-wolf because it is fashionable and they are trying to fit into the crowd.

  46. Save bears Says:

    Pro,

    All three states were pretty well split on reintroduction, it is easy to find those against, but unless you frequent the parks, or blogs like this, you will not run into many that will actually say, ya, I was in favor of it, there are many out there that are not even paying attention to this issue…unfortunately, we are a very small community, but sometimes, I think we think we are the main community, most of America, could care less about wildlife issues.. but yes, in reality, the original surveys showed that it was split pretty even…

    What I find so sad, is most Americans only pay attention for the two weeks they visit the west, I would really like to see a study on the states that people who post on this blog live in, that would be pretty telling…

    What you and I find important, is not even a blip on most Americans minds, which is very sad….

  47. ProWolf in WY Says:

    Save bears, if you were to ask people on the Eastern Seaboard, there are probably a lot who have no clue at all about any of this. It is too much of an out of sight out of mind affair. You are right that this is not a priority.
    I read in the book “The Return of the Wolf, Success and Threats in the U.S. and Canada” by Steve Grooms that 70% of the residents of Colorado are in favor of restoration, yet you it seems like the Division of Wildlife has such and anti-wolf stance, and they post on their web site they are opposed to grizzly restoration. Makes you wonder who is running the show.

    I would also be interested to see where everyone is from on this site.

  48. Cobra Says:

    S.B. & Pro,
    I have a hard time believing that 70% of Colorado residents want wolves brought back. I grew up in Western Colorado and still keep in touch with friends that live there. They tell me a different story. They’ve also never been asked about it. I’m betting maybe they mean 70% east of the divide want the wolves. Of course most of my friends are in cattle country which covers most of western Colorado.
    I’ve lived in North Idaho for a little over 20 years and this is the place I like the most. I wonder how most of us got missed up here about the wolves being brought back. I never was polled and no one I know was either. Their here now and I’ll learn how to live with it, elk hunting has changed but I go where I have to in order to be successful.
    S.B. If you live near Sandpoint I’m only about an hour and a half away. I have heard reports of wolves around Athol and Rathdrum mountain, even down on Mica mountain east of CDA lake. Seems like they’ve made it just about everywhere up here.

  49. Cobra Says:

    Anne,
    What do you propose as being the solution? And just curious what state do you call home?

  50. catbestland Says:

    Cobra,

    I live in Western Colorado and you might be suprised to learn that wolves are actually a hot topic here. Support for re-introduction is growing rapidly. Have you noticed the drop in the numbers of cattle ranchers over the past few years? There’s a new crowd moving in with more interest in healthy ecosystems than in raising cattle. The times they are a changin’.

  51. ProWolf in WY Says:

    Good news catbestland.

  52. catbestland Says:

    Hang in there Anne. Don’t let anyone bully you off of this site. Thanks for using your blog to bring this important issue to the attention to a lot of people who otherwise would never become aware of it. We used to have a saying in the horse racing industry.– Not all horse trainers are a__holes but you can bet that at some time or another every a__hole has been a horse trainer. I guess the same can apply to some “wildlife biologists.”

  53. Save bears Says:

    Catbestland, nobody is trying to bully her, but her information is inaccurate, yes, blogs are a good way to get information out there, but you want it to be the incorrect information? How does publishing the incorrect information help any cause?

  54. Ryan Says:

    Save Bears,

    You should know my now the “truth and Science” have no place in this debate.

  55. Brian Ellway Says:

    Sort of an interesting read from three differing perspectives…

    http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/wolf_warriors_idahoans_fight_for_the_right_to_kill_wolves/C41/L41/

    There is an article posted in the comment section by Valerius Geist. I hadn’t seen this article before but I’m sure some of you have. Just curious if anybody knows the validity of Mr. Geist’s stories?

  56. catbestland Says:

    “You should know my now the “truth and Science” have no place in this debate.”

    This from the individual who argued vehemently that the wolf was NOT a keystone predator species???

  57. Barb Rupers Says:

    Cobra
    The wolves in north Idaho were not part of the introduced, experimental population; they arrived on there own feet from Canada.

  58. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Brian,

    I think he exaggerates. A wolf attack!? Why is it only people who don’t seem to like wolves that claim to have been attacked or almost attacked?

    Tim Sundles claimed the same thing as his defense for admittedly shooting a wolf in Frank Church Wilderness.

    Tourists wander around Yellowstone often totally unaware. They get gored by bison, kicked by moose, mauled by grizzly bears; but I haven’t heard any wolf attack stories.

  59. Brian Ellway Says:

    According to some of his other articles I found, he claims they become most dangerous to humans when they have depleted their prey base (ungulates) to extremely low levels. We definitely aren’t there yet. I’m sure you all have discussed Dr. Geist on here before but I had not seen this article. I wonder how many fence sitters read his articles and jump to the anti-wolf side out of fear. I’ll admit, I found the article somewhat disturbing.

  60. catbestland Says:

    Re: the link posted by Brian.

    “They (IDFG) are supposed to be the ranchers of our ungulates,” Walters says. Parenthesis mine.

    This is news to me. I thought they were supposed to be stewards of wildlife.

  61. JB Says:

    Interesting to read the Wolf Advocate’s perspective. His comments about being ignored among a “sea of camouflage” are directly in line with what I was trying to convey to Mark Gambling (of IDF&G) last week. Advocates for wolves perceive that they have no voice with agencies like IDF&G due to agencies’ capture by hunting interests. Until this changes, until agencies begin to build trust with diverse constituencies, we will see environmental groups continue to go to the courts to pursue their agendas. After all, why waste your time trying to a reason with an agency that ignores you?

  62. Brian Ellway Says:

    JB,

    According to the F&G commissioners perspective, that claim is not true so who do you believe?

    “He (McDermott) has read Alexander’s letters and responded to them, he says, and as far as comment is concerned, in the past four years he has pretty much heard all there is to hear from the public about wolves.”

  63. JB Says:

    Brian:

    It isn’t an either/or question of who to believe. A reasonable person can believe both that the commissioner feels he has listened to all sides of the issue and that the wolf advocate feels that his voice is not heard.

    The issue is whether a group of older, white, male hunters (i.e. IDF&G decision-makers) can adequately represent (or be perceived as representing) the diverse group of people that have a stake in Idaho’s wolf management.

  64. Anne Gilbert Says:

    All:

    There have been quite a few resopnses to my blog, so far, all of them fairly negative, and I think, unnecessarily “bullying”, in tone, as catbestland says. I don’t like this, especially as I made very sure to track back to this site so people could get the sort of accurate information that Save Bears seemed to think my blog lacked. My purpose im blogging this, was to raise awareness. Being coldly “factual” doesn’t always help, although, oddly enough, I do believe in getting the facts straight as much as possible. I was also going to raise the question of whether this “50-50 split” that someone mentioned, was of the overall population of Idaho and Montana, or a 50-50- split among farmers and ranchers. I can believe an evenly-divided overall population in those states, but if somebody tries to tell me that it’s 50-50 among farmers and ranchers, I’d better see some statistics before I’d believe them. State departments of wildlife resources(they go by different names in different states), have tended, in the past, at least, to be heavicly orientced cctoward cthe icnterescctccs ofc either hunters or farmers and ranchers. This is changing, especially in the INtermountain West, where people who are not among these groups are moving, to “get away from it all”(for better or worse). I know this is true, because I have a cousin who lives in Butte, Montana(which is pretty “conservative” in some ways, but still. . . . ), and I actually do know something about this.

    Also, someone asked me what state I live in. I just happen to live in Western Washington. And just recently(I”ve blogged about this, too), two packs of wolves have moved into tow different areas of that state. One is kind of “north central”, but failry close to some farming and ranching areas, although the wolves themselves have settled in a national forest(they had pups). The Department of Wildlife in Washington State worked out an agreement with the people in the area to keep their cattle and other livestock away from the area where the wolves were denning, at least for several months until the pups were presumably old enough to trot after their parents and the others. These wolves apparently trotted themseloves down from British Columbia, as did another pack that resides in a remote area of NE Washington State. This pack is also protected, although there is apparently less economic activity and very little human population there. This pack(and perhaps the other one, as well, though I don’t have any information on this), is being radio-collared and tracked.

    In any case, I keep up with these things, and for SAve Bear’s, and others’ infoormation, I always try to link my blog posts to more detailed information that people can use, if they wish to. This is true whether I’m blogging about wolves, medieval England, prehistoric humans, or my writing(I blog on all these subjects because to varying degrees, they’re all in my book(s)).

    Perhaps all of us should take some very deep breaths here, step back, and try to be calm about this.
    Anne G

  65. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

    JB: “Advocates for wolves perceive that they have no voice with agencies like IDF&G due to agencies’ capture by hunting interests. Until this changes, until agencies begin to build trust with diverse constituencies, we will see environmental groups continue to go to the courts to pursue their agendas. After all, why waste your time trying to a reason with an agency that ignores you?”

    The conviction that I/we are not being heard is familiar to every wildlife manager and Fish and Game Commissioner or Board member that works for the public. This conviction is heard from every user group and segment of society we answer to – for understandable reasons. An earlier comment I made is worth repeating.
    That you and others believe you have not been listened to or have had your preferences for wildlife management implemented could mean that wildlife managers or Commissions are not upholding our responsibilities as public servants OR it could be that your concerns and preferences have been heard, considered with sincerity among a suite diverse, differing perspectives and preferences and NOT selected for implementation because those management preferences do not best serve the public interest.
    Can you be more specific about how our old, white, male Fish and Game Commission is not representing the Idaho public with balance and respect? BTW, I appreciate the literature citations you provided earlier on fairness in natural resource management. I haven’t yet, but will, read them.

  66. catbestland Says:

    Mark Gamblin,

    I’m still waiting for an answer to the question I posed several times on earlier threads. What will be re response to increased livestock depredation caused by removing essential pack leadershhip? Research indicates there is a strong possibility that this could be the outcome of fragmented packs so I do not believe it is speculation to assume that this indeed could occur. Is there a plan in place to deal with this possibility?

  67. Ryan Says:

    Cat,

    Do you have any literature to cite to back this claim up? I would like to read it.

  68. JB Says:

    “Can you be more specific about how our old, white, male Fish and Game Commission is not representing the Idaho public with balance and respect?”

    Mark,

    I never said anything about respect; it is quite possible to be very respectful while going against the wishes of a great many people. Certainly you have been very respectful in your interactions with folks on this blog (which I appreciate). However, it is easy to be respectful when you hold all the cards: “Yes Ms. So-and-so, I hear your concerns. Yes, I’m sure you feel strongly about the issue and I respect your position. Okay, thanks for sharing your opinion. Bye now” [click]. Back to business as usual.

    Balance is another question altogether. I’m sure Idaho residents can provide better examples of how they feel disenfranchised by IDF&G’s policies/actions than I. Many have expressed such views in the past. But certainly I would point to IDF&G’s plan to allow the harvest of wolves in every single management unit as a slap in the face to non-consumptive users. Allowing some areas to be set aside without any harvest would’ve sent a message that concerns of non-consumptive users were heard. Moreover, as I have explained, such areas could have been used as controls for studying the effects of wolf harvest on wolf and ungulate behavior, as well as livestock conflicts. As you I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, control areas are extremely desirable in such studies. The fact that the establishment of these areas was considered (and rejected) is of little consolation to non-consumptive users–especially those who took the time to come to meetings and/or make comments on the plan.

    But let me turn the question around. How do you think hunters would react if the F&G commission was composed entirely of black, asian, and hispanic women who all belonged to Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, or the Audubon Society? Perhaps the commission would send out a representative from the agency to argue on their behalf? “Why can’t a group of minority women who belong to wildlife preservation groups represent Idaho hunters,” she might ask. How do you think hunters would respond?

    If pressed, most people will admit to being biased. However few people will admit that their personal biases actually affect their behavior. However, research shows that personal biases, even when not cognitively accessible to the people who hold them, can strongly impact individual’s behavior.

    P.S. If you’re interested, take a look at some of the work that’s been done with the Implicit Associations Test or IAT.

  69. Save bears Says:

    Anne,

    From my understanding the polls before re-introduction would be a cross section of all of the population, they didn’t target one specific group..

  70. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Save bear:

    I can accpet that as entirely possible. But I hink if they’d just asked farmers and rancers, it would have been more like 20% fpr am d80% against. And it is probably the latter who are currently making the most noise in favor of this wolf hunt.
    Anne G

  71. catbestland Says:

    Ryan,

    I am asking a question. Do you need the definition of a question? Other than that do your own research. It is common knowledge that packs without leadership will target easy prey. This is wolf biology 101 as Gamblin himself agreed in an earlier post.

  72. DB Says:

    I’m surprised that Mark Gamblin chooses to debate JB on this issue of the FG commission not reflecting more diverse constituencies than hunters. Why doesn’t Mark just admit that, yea, we’re a fish and game agency, that means anglers and hunters, the people that buy the licences and tags, the duck stamps, the taxes on fishing equipment and firearms, etc. Yea, we’ve got a commission of middle age, white guys, all whose primary intersts in wildlife is hunting and fishing. Why try to spin that they listen to all when there’s no way they they have the inclination or the ability to do so. I appreciate Mark’s candor, the defense of his agency, and his commitment to managing wildlife as the profession has traditionally known it. But JB is right, the commission and the politics needs to change. I’m sort of surprised that Mark dosen’t recognize this because once the political meddling in FG issues stops his job might become a lot more satisfying.

  73. Cobra Says:

    Barb,
    Some of the wolves closer to the Canadian border did find their way down from Canada. Most of the wolves we have here came from the south. We’ve watched them for several years and how they have move farther and farther north each year. It’s not to hard to track their progress if you spend anytime in the woods.

  74. Tim Says:

    Cobra,

    I don’t believe there are any packs in the Mica area but i did locate tracks from a lone wolf not far from the border this winter while cat hunting. According to the map there is supposed to be a small pack in the twin lakes spirit lake area but I’ve never personally heard of a reliable sighting.

  75. Ralph Maughan Says:

    It’s pretty clear now that U.S. wolves are repopulating B.C. and Alberta just as much, if not more than the other way around

  76. Tim Says:

    That’s the border with Washington near Mica Peak. I do believe there is a lot of travel back and forth from populations in central Idaho and Canada.

  77. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Ralph:

    I didn’t know that wolves from the US are repopulating parts of BC, but Ithere are a lot of things I don’t know. All I know is, the two packs that have restablished themselves in Washington State, appear to have come from adjacent areas in BC, and according to the reports I read, they’re genetically similar to the ones in that part of Canada. So I wonder: if wolves are trotting themselves into the US from Canada, and wolves from Canada are trotting themselves into the US, will this do things like increase the popultations’ genetic diversity, and the like?
    Anne G

  78. Cobra Says:

    Tim,
    My brother-in-law hunted the Mica area last year with friends who own property there during the rifle elk season. They saw lots of wolf sign each day out, which was every weekend of the season. The owner of the property said he’d been seeing wolf sign every winter for the last two years. He might of just assumed a pack was around because of all the sign and the length of time he has seen it and heard them. I haven’t been in that country for awhile so I can’t say from personal experience. However, my brother-in-law is not they type to just spin yarns.

  79. Ken Cole Says:

    With regard to catbestland’s question I think it has been well demonstrated that if an alpha female is killed during or shortly after pregnancy, or for some reason the entire litter of pups is killed, the pack strays much more and loses its cohesiveness. The Hayden Pack is an example and there have been others as well. There is no protection of the breeding female during the proposed hunting season and it is apparent that it is not any concern of the IDFG. To avoid this kind of circumstance hunting would end just after breeding season rather than through the entire breeding season and into the end of March.

    I think there will likely be more chaos once the hunting starts and there will be more wolves heading in different directions if breeding females are killed after breeding season is over.

    I don’t believe IDFG when they say that they are going to manage wolves the same way that they manage bears and mountain lions. Just look at the numbers. IDFG says that there are 3000 mountain lions and 20,000 black bears while they have publicly announced in the past their intentions to reduce the wolf populations to 518 in the state. Even then they aren’t required to maintain that number and will get massive pressure from the legislature and the Governor to reduce it further to 150.

    I also have to say that I am suspicious that Mr. Gamblin has been directed or had to receive permission to participate in this discussion by others in the IDFG. We all know what happened to Dave Parrish and Rod Sando here. We also know of the Governor’s policy about getting approval to speak publicly before doing so.

    I used to work for IDFG. I know that it was frowned upon to speak publicly unless you had approval to do so. I had co-workers who asked friends to sign letters to the editor for them so that they wouldn’t be discovered to have an opinion. The 1st Ammendment does not apply to state employees and I think that his participation might be seen as signal by others that their bosses are monitoring this site. We all know this site is being monitored by agency people.

    I welcome Mr. Gamblin’s participation but I urge people to realize that he is likely being watched himself and can’t express any opinions other than those of the department. I wish more agency people could publicly express their opinions here but they can’t and won’t because they are afraid that they will lose their job. That’s just the way it is in Butch Otter’s Idaho.

  80. Ken Cole Says:

    Anne, you are correct when you say that the western-most pack in WA came from Canada, we have covered that here very closely. It will likely increase diversity and I hope it does. I think the biggest problem is the isolation that hunting and control actions will cause in places like the Centennial Mountains along the Idaho/Montana divide near Yellowstone. That is an important area as a wolf corridor but so far there has been heavy handed control nearly eliminating all the wolves that live there just this year. There is some connectivity but not enough between the Central Idaho and Yellowstone populations and that is only going to get worse with the hunt and more liberal control actions under state management.

  81. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Anne. The wolves near Twisp, WA came from Canada, and I believe they are actually coastal BC wolves. Need to check on this because that is pretty amazing if true.

    I think the Western-most pack is an Idaho wolf and a disperser from Canada.

  82. Ryan Says:

    “Research indicates there is a strong possibility that this could be the outcome of fragmented packs so I do not believe it is speculation to assume that this indeed could occur. Is there a plan in place to deal with this possibility?”

    Cat,

    Your the one citing the research in your questions, I was just asking to see it.

  83. catbestland Says:

    Ryan,

    Have you EVER read a book on wolves?

  84. Barb Rupers Says:

    I also read that the first wolves in Washington were frm the BC coast.

  85. Ryan Says:

    Sure have Cat, you stated research says that will happen. I just want to see the research that cites your Hypothesis?

    Barb,

    Some of the contention surrounding wolf reintroduction was that wolves were naturally expanding their range from Canada south, with packs in Northern MT and Northern Idaho that would have eventually made it into Yellowstone. The Audobon society in fact sued on these grounds in 1996 just prior to the wolves being released into Yellowstone.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=wp1fZIwCl4AC&pg=PA222&lpg=PA222&dq=audubon+society,+wolf+lawsuit&source=bl&ots=d_yl1rkh56&sig=DczFyRcz90a6ieQ5Vbud6d767no&hl=en&ei=OTWYSrj4OZ6-tAOhvODaBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5#v=onepage&q=audubon%20society%2C%20wolf%20lawsuit&f=false

  86. Barb Rupers Says:

    Ryan, Thanks for the link. It has answered several questions I have had for a long time.

  87. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Ralph:

    If you do discover tha the wolves now living in the Twisp area came from coastal BC originally, yes, that would be quite amazing. In fact, this never even occurred to me at all, and it wasn’t mentioned in any of the articles I read about these wolves. So, if true, I’d really like to know this. Because if it is, I’ll probably do another blog about it.
    Anne G

  88. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Ryan,

    I had something to do with these lawsuits. My message was, don’t sue (to the Sierra Club), but they did sue, and the lawsuit got combined with the Farm Bureau’s lawsuit. As a result, the Wyoming Federal District judge ruled all the wolves had to be eliminated.

    For a while it looked like the whole wolf reintroduction would be one big tragedy, but the judge was overruled by the 10th Circuit.

    Wolf restoration by migration may be the best way to do it politically, but it isn’t genetically. Too few founders of a population and you get into trouble fairly fast.

  89. Barb Rupers Says:

    From the Seattle Times June 6, 2009: “Genetically, these new arrivals appear to have worked their way south from British Columbia, where wolves have been less likely to key in on livestock as prey, focusing instead on small black-tailed deer, even salmon, and other marine species.”
    The reference is to the Twisp area wolves.

    Another article about coastal wolves:
    http://wolfsongalaska.org/wolves_canada_unique.htm

    And about the ones in NE washington:
    http://www.cbbulletin.com/346603.aspx

  90. Ralph Maughan Says:

    OK, so the Twisp wolves are clearly coastal B.C.. This is a big difference from the wolves that came down from Alberta and B.C. to reinhabit Montana in the 1980s.

    It is also very different than the reintroduced wolves.

  91. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Says:

    DB – if this sounds like a debate, it’s not my desire or intention. I’m trying to understand if the stated desire to abandon the commission/board systems of wildlife management responsibility and accountability is based on more than disagreement with Commision or Board decisions, policies or programs.

    JB – thanks, you’re distinction between respect and representing with balance is appropriate. Respect to/for the public we work for is one respnsibility but certainly balanced representation is more important. So…..“Can you be more specific about how our old, white, male Fish and Game Commission is not representing the Idaho public with balance…? Is the Commission failing to listen to the desires and concerns of the Idaho public and adopt policies and management programs that meets it’s statutory responsibilites and satisfy the desires of the Idaho public with balance? I continue to ask essentially the same question because I want to understand your premise, without assumptions, and because you haven’t described how the Idaho F&G Commission has failed it’s responsibilities to require a revision of the Fish and Game Commission concept in Idaho or other states. Age, ethnicity, gender are attributes, but don’t make a case for failure (or success) in public service or committment to stewardship of Idaho’s wildlife resources.
    Disagreement, disappointment with decisions are unavoidable and by themselves are not evidence of bias or failure to uphold responsibilities. Requests for wolf viewing areas (without wolf hunting) were heard and considered. The Commission decided that given the abundance of wolf viewing opportunity in the state, without setting aside exclusive veiwing areas, and the conflicts between wolves, livestock depredations and elk numbers that generate the demand and public support for control of wolf numbers – exclusive wolf viewing areas (or research control areas) do not best meet the scope of Idaho public needs and desires. Do you suggest that responsible service to the public requires that all desires be satisfied – in proportion to their prevalence within the public?

    BTW, I am aware of new social science insight into bias in decision making and see value in applying that understanding to improve objectivity in public service.

  92. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Barb and all:

    This is very, very interesting. At the time, I only had access to what appeared in news media reports, which didn’t give all the information I’ve seen here. I know that these coastal BC wolves eat a lot of salmon, when salmon spawn caostally, and, along with the local bears, they play an important part in keeping those forests healthy, by “fertilizing” them with leftover bits of salmon or scat that is full of leftover bits of salmon. They also eat the local deer, which are loclally called “blacktail deer”, and at one time were thought to be a species separate from other deer, but are, in fact, a local subspecies of mule deer. The Twisp wolves are probably just eating something they “recognize”, even if it isn’t the “blacktail” variety. But if they’re genetically identical to coastal BC wolves, they must have traveled quite a way to get to the Twisp area. OTOH, wolves have been known to travel quite a way to find suitable territory.
    Anne G

  93. Smitty Says:

    Utube video by Idaho Fish and Game on the wolf hunt:

  94. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Smitty:

    As you probably are aware, anybody can put just about anything up on YouTube. I’m not saying IdFG is wrong on their statistics, but it did seem to me that the wolf dispersals and largest wolf populations, were clustered around the original area where wolves were first released back in 1995. Of course, I’m also not disputing that a nubmer of these wolves or their descendants dispersed elsewhere; some wolves have been turning up in Oregon, for example. And since there are two known packs in Washington State, it’s obvious that those wolves came from somewhere. Trouble is, it wasn’t Idaho. I lieve it to better minds than my own to figure out what the impact of this wolf hunt will be, but I am somewhat skeptical of a report that comes from IDFG, which appears to be managed with hunters, farmers, and ranchers in mind.
    Anne G

  95. Layton Says:

    Anne,

    My goodness, at least you ARE consistent!!

    “They also eat the local deer, which are loclally called “blacktail deer”, and at one time were thought to be a species separate from other deer, but are, in fact, a local subspecies of mule deer.”

    Just a small VERY EASILY RESEARCHED bit of a quote that I found for your edification:

    For many years the Columbian Blacktail Deer has been considered a subspecies of the Mule deer, however recent DNA testing has proven this not to be the case. In Valerius Geist’s informative book Mule Deer Country he explains that by testing the mitochondrial DNA (the mothers DNA ) of the three species (blacktail, whitetail and mule deer), researchers have now determined that it was the mating of Whitetail does and Blacktail buck’s that gave rise to the Mule deer and not the opposite as was once suspected.”

    It’s from a book called “The Columbian Blacktail Deer” by Dan Gibson.

    What IS your expertise by the way?? It’s obviously not concerned with wildlife issues.

  96. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Layton:

    If you wan to “diss” my research, you might want to look at some source other than this Layton guy, and /;or Valerious Geeist, who, IMO has some rather odd ideas. My “bible” on these matters is the Smithsonian Book of NOrth American Mammals, which lists “blacktail deer as a subspecies of mule deer. The reason for this is that some populations of “blacktail deer” have been seen happily interbreeding with “mule deer” in locations where the environments of the two types overlap. So if you’re going to claim I’m totally unreliable, you’d better try something else.
    Anne G

  97. Layton Says:

    “The reason for this is that some populations of “blacktail deer” have been seen happily interbreeding with “mule deer” in locations where the environments of the two types overlap.”

    Got a flash for you there Anne. Whitetails have also been seen “happily interbreeding with mule deer” does that mean they are ALSO a subspecies of same??

    I give up toots — have it your way — ignorance is bliss to some people.

  98. Anne Gilbert Says:

    Layton:

    I’m having a bit of a problem with this. Do you not consider the Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals to be a reliable source of information? Or are you just being dismissive because you disagree with what I said? If it’s the latter, I would suggest some attitude adjustment on your part. IOW, try to be more civil and back your assertions up with facts, not opinion.
    Anne G


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