Conservationists accuse each other of distorting elk and wolf data.
This article is about the recent public fight between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife.
I think part of the reason that the feud has heated up is because of the use of words like “annihilation” when referencing wolves and elk. I don’t want elk or wolves to be annihilated and I don’t think it will be the case with elk but I do think the states of Idaho and Wyoming, in particular, but Montana to a lesser degree, have shown great public antipathy towards wolves. Also, RMEF has adopted some of the language of the anti-wolf crowd and that riles up people too, including myself.
I stand by the notion that Idaho does not want to manage wolves in the same stated way that they manage bears and lions which number 20,000 and 3,000 respectively. There is no goal of reducing the population of those species to a pre-defined number, especially one as low as 518 statewide. Needless to say, the Legislature of Idaho can force the IDFG to manage for the minimum number of 15 packs of wolves statewide, which is what is in the Legislature’s Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that was accepted by the USFWS.
Wolf controversy polarizes.
Jackson Hole News&Guide
April 21, 2010 at 7:06 PM
Ken, do you remember that state of emergency wolf bill? Do you know what became of it and who stopped it from going thru? Just curious. Haven’t heard anything about it since the public meeting for it was cancelled. Anyways, dow is on this particular issue. Rmef has posted data on their website that says that elk herds are up in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. They are simply changing their tune because they know some of their members don’t like wolves and prefer elk over wolves.
April 21, 2010 at 7:17 PM
Nice summary, Ken.
April 21, 2010 at 7:52 PM
Jon, If your referring to the bill that was in the Idaho Leg. a senator was overheard saying it was killed because they were afraid it would sway Judge Malloy’s decision to relist. I read he said something to the effect it would pass after the ruling (next year) if Malloy does not relist.
April 21, 2010 at 8:13 PM
Thanks Timz. That is what I was kinda thinking.
April 21, 2010 at 7:56 PM
I think RMEF’s suddenly strident position on this is probably explained completely by pressure from some of their members and/or key financial supporters. These folks suddenly learned the RMEF’s web site had info contrary to their beliefs and was being used.
RMEF highups probably got stung when DOW used their easily available elk numbers for each state posted on their web site.
When I did a story on elk numbers about a month ago, I did the same — I googled “elk population” and RMEF’s web site with elk numbers by state came up near the top of the results list. They can hardly complain that people would use a search engine. Nevertheless, that is a big embarrassment when their political leadership is saying something quite different.
Many conservation organizations (in fact, many organizations period) are in deep financial trouble due to the economy. Allen of RMEF and others might have felt they needed to do something drastic such as taking one side on the issue.
They will have to work to regain my support.
April 22, 2010 at 7:37 AM
I truly wonder if RMEF believes taking a stronger stand on wolves will increase their membership. I said on another thread I believed they took some risk in firming up a position on wolves. I suspect some members will leave, and that was once RMEF’s take on the matter, and it was a larger survival motivation for not taking a stand – in even better economic times. RMEF’s board recognized that membership views on wolves, including numbers and distribtuion on the landscape, was all over the board – some not wanting, others wanting them and some still trying to make up their minds as new information rolled in.
Now, will some heavy hitters step up to fill a budget gap that results if some folks leave? That is entirely possible. I personally do not believe taking a stand will increase membership. Intuitively it does not make sense. My concern is that this issue could change the personality of the the organization of which I have been a member since near its beginning. That part troubles me.
As for the elk data, I believe their staff just summarizes whatever they get directly from the individual states. They do not have the staff to create their own data. Somebody please prove me wrong on this, if I misunderstand what I think they do. The state game department/wildlife agencies see Bugle magazine (some of same data goes on the website) as an opportunity to market, just like any private business would. The tend to provide optimistic views of the coming hunting seasons to sell licenses. We have all seen this in the local newspapers, every year.
The real analysis and the grating issues are when one looks at the data on individual elk hunting units and wolf hunting zones. There are localized problems being identified and they need to be addressed by getting good data on habitat and all predator and elk popuolation issues.
I will say again, the time lag from when a perceived problem is identified, to when data is iniatilly gathered, and analyzed, and then gets published and digested by readers is a huge. Things are happening so fast in wolf country that it is tough to keep up regardless of one’s view of a particular aspect – pro, con or indifferent.
April 22, 2010 at 7:56 AM
“My concern is that this issue could change the personality of the the organization of which I have been a member since near its beginning. That part troubles me.”
I could not agree more. We do not need more organizations like SFW; rather, we need conservation organizations that draw support from hunters and non-hunters alike. This is why I found RMEF’s position statement so frustrating; it is also why I am disappointed with some of the rhetoric coming from Defenders–I don’t want RMEF to be like SFW (or worse, the NRA), nor do I want Defenders to start acting like HSUS. Polarizing the issue might serve short-term fund-raising interests of these organizations, but it could have serious long-term detrimental effects.
April 22, 2010 at 8:18 AM
I just read the article and the comments by the actors in this ongoing issue, and I saw nothing that was uttered by Defenders or WWC that smacked of HSUS language. What I did read was several instances of inflammatory language by the RMEF folks, among which was twice accusing Defenders of being an “animal rights” group. This effort to mislabel Defenders with a pejorative and politically loaded term was meant to inflame the situation. I am hoping that members will contact the folks who are suddenly caving in to the anti wolf crowd and suggest that unless RMEF retract its anti wolf stance, memberships will be ended. Money talks.
Perhaps Colorado should “sell” some of it elks to these states; I went to a presentation over the weekend addressing the politics of wolves, including a wildlife biologist and guide from Yellowstone, a former ED of Wildlife Guardians, and the former head of the Sheep and Wool group here in Colorado (who currently runs sheep in Wyoming as well). The grazing guy said estimates are between 300 and 400 hundred thousand elk in Colorado.
The conversations went about as one would expect, and the grazing guy didn’t stay around for questions like the other two panel members. More’s the pity…
April 22, 2010 at 9:22 AM
First she was shot.
Then the body of this highly endangered wolf was dumped — like a sack of garbage — along the side of the road.
To scientists she was F386, a five-year-old female that represented hope for her struggling species.
To us, she was a beautiful animal who deserved the right to live in the wilds of America’s Southwest, where these wolves once thrived…”
— Yes, Defenders is usually pretty good about making sure they check their facts. It is the tone of these email updates that bothers me. The focus is on the individual animal (thus, animal rights or welfare) NOT the health of the population.
April 22, 2010 at 10:06 AM
individuals are immediately charismatic, populations less so …
April 22, 2010 at 10:18 AM
I got the email yesterday too. The wolf was killed more than a year ago and its number was F836 not F386.
This is from the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project Monthly Update January 1 – 31, 2009
“In mid-January, the IFT located F836 dead along State Highway 260 on the FAIR in Arizona. Law enforcement agents investigated the scene and collected the carcass for necropsy. The wolf’s death is currently under investigation.”
April 22, 2010 at 10:44 AM
Defenders: “To us, she was a beautiful animal who deserved the right to live in the wilds of America’s Southwest, where these wolves once thrived…”
Does this not clearly fall within the definition of the term “animal rights,” and is Defenders not an advocacy organization for those rights as stated here?
If there is a distinction here that excludes Defenders as an “animal rights” organization or group, it escapes me. I realize they try to distinguish themselves from being labeled as such, but given its approach, comments of its spokespesons, and example comment as above, it is a distinction without a difference in my view. Perhaps that is what RMEF correctly concluded, but unwisely chose to emphasize (along with some other things which could be construed as exaggerations).
And, I have found some of their magazine publications also pandering to the image of the sweet, innocent young wolf pups (almost makes you want to reach out and hold one) superimposed with a red circle surrounding a “+” to give the impression of targeting by a rifle scope. Emotionally graphic indeed – an art or marketing masterpiece in that respect.
JB supplied an outline (possibly outdated) on WWC, after I explained I could find no information on the organization or even a website, leaving the impression (right or wrong) that this is an EXTREMELY small group purporting to speak for many. I also don’t know what they have “conserved” at this point, though I understand Kirk Robinson is some sort of wolf advocate and other predator advocate.
Coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago I found something on the internet in a mission statement for WWC that said it was, in fact, “animal rights” oriented, possibly even using the term. I think I even posted it here on another thread. I looked for the same information on line and on this blog where I posted it, but could not find it.
the fellow who told you there are 400,000 elk in CO better check with the Division of Wildlife. I think their number is around 300,000, if I recall.
April 22, 2010 at 11:55 AM
I don’t believe that Defenders is an “animal rights” organization, nor do I believe that the email I cited is attempting to advocate for legal rights of animals. There is nothing in their actions (legal or otherwise) that suggest that this is their goal. And yet, WM’s reaction to this email is exactly what I anticipated, and (I suspect) is similar to the reactions of many other hunter-members who received this email. My point is, their rhetoric (which seems designed to appeal to the animal rights crowd) does not match their actions (thankfully, IMHO). The larger point, is that this type of rhetoric only further polarizes an issue which should NOT separate conservationists along hunter/non-hunter lines. As someone who supports Defenders AND hunting, I find the rhetoric from both sides demoralizing.
April 22, 2010 at 1:10 PM
Lest I take another hit for being anti-wolf, or insensitive, I would like to clarify that I too found the fate of F836, unfortunate, or any human caused mortality of wolves in that extremely small recovery population.
So far, I have confirmed WWC has a membership of two, its director and a board member, and it seems to share office space with the Wild Utah Project, where this board member is on staff. And then, there is a website attributed to WWC, which does not seem to be currently working, and there is no residual history on the web that I could find in a quick search.
Does anyone else have informatoin to offer on the membership of Western Wildlife Conservancy for which its director presumes to speak?
Can WWC even be considered a group, let alone one apparently wrongfully accused of being an “animal rights” group by an organization with membership of 150,000+?
April 23, 2010 at 7:12 AM
I would suggest you either read Peter Singer’s stuff, or Steven Wise’s stuff to understand what the true nature of “animal rights” is before you label a group as advocating for them. You, of course, entitled your opinion regardless.
As for the number of elk in Colorado, I figured since he is of the livestock crowd, he MUST be right…;*)
April 22, 2010 at 10:10 AM
So, for you, the stance that wolves deserve to be restored to the Southwest (which the statement does address in your quote) and using the death of this wolf in such a heinous manner to illustrate the hostility this effort faces is animal rights or welfare? I daresay the use of the word “right” in this case is not the same as when it is used by PETA or HSUS. And, there is nothing in your statement that even comes close to the language used in the story referenced in this comment section. I don’t find trying to reach an emotional cord in the reader as well as providing information and trying to persuade objectionable.
I would point you to the work of Steven Wise, an attorney who is addressing the fundamental issues of “animal rights” as I understand the term. Animal welfare takes in a whole host of conceptions–cruelty, neglect, abuse–in short, the relationship between humans and animals and the nature of the responsibilities and ethics incumbent upon the human in that relationship. A much too large of a topic to be discussed here.
April 22, 2010 at 10:29 AM
For those of us who actually pay attention to local elk herds, as I do here in NW Wyoming, particularly my own herd, the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd near Dubois, Wyoming in the Upper Wind River Valley, as well as to the annual herd unit reports put out by the Wyoming G&F Department, one thing stands out: you can’t find any indication of negative impacts of wolves on elk, either on raw numbers or cow-calf ratios.
As an elk hunter, I’ve noticed that the main impact of wolves on elk has been changes in distribution, especially during the summer, where the large herds previously seen on the high grassy volcanic plateaus have broken up; elk are using the smaller meadows in the lower elevation forests more, as well as using the steep, heavily forested canyons as movement corridors. I know this because I prefer to use these smaller meadows as campsites; they’re good places to picket my my horses. (I try to stay away from the larger river/stream bottoms). It’s easy to see that elk summer use of these smaller meadows is way up, whereas previously they tended to use the smaller, more difficult to get to meadows in the fall and hunting season. In general, I see this wider distribution/lower density situation as a positive impact of wolves on elk.
Unfortunately, in much of NW Wyoming during winters, we’re seeing the opposite impact in elk harboring on private ranches. I suspect this harboring is more due to hunter pressure than to wolves, although I don’t doubt that in some instances wolves are contributing to the problem.
I will say however, harboring is less of a problem in the Dubois area because between 1941 and 1991 the G&F Department embarked on a strategic land acquisition program to secure extensive winter range throughout the watershed. The East Fork Wildlife Habitat Area north of the Wind River is TWICE the size of the National Elk Refuge, while the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd is half the size of the Jackson Elk Herd, which uses the NER.
This strategic land acquisition program was unfortunately brought to an abrupt halt in the early 90s due to Stockgrower politics and the alleged threat of “government ownership of land.” Well, what is that threat? Over half a million acres of secured big game winter range in Wyoming owned by the G&F Department, not private ranchers. Yep, that’s a threat alright. A threat to the suzerainty of cows on Wyoming’s landscapes.
Be that as it may, it’s also true that declining cow-calf ratios where we’re seeing it in NW Wyoming track along rather nicely along with the long-term drought that began nearly 20 years ago and elk numbers being maintained at or exceeding carrying capacity of various watersheds as demanded by outfitters and hunters. With the Wiggins Fork herd, for example, according to G&F data cow calf ratios began falling well before wolves arrived in the Dubois area in late 1997. It appears that the decline began and has continued primarily from drought’s long-term affect on forage quality rather than numerical pressure on carrying capacity, due to the large amount of secured winter range in the area.
One thing that does stand out in the data is the continuing overpressure of commercial hunting of bulls throughout wolf country–NW Wyoming. Aside from the data, having worked for outfitters myself I know for a fact that outfitters are maxing out their camps with clients and thus maxing out their take of bulls. I’ve referred to this previously as the assembly line of hunters and trophies, with the major trailheads Grand Central Stations of outfitter trucks, trailers, corrals, horses, and mules.
Consequently, trophy elk hunting has become largely unsustainable in NW Wyoming from overhunting, not from wolf predation. It certainly has become virtually impossible to find a good, mature 6 point anywhere in the Dubois area, except for the high country in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness near the Continental Divide, which is quite rugged country and difficult to get to–and I’ve ranged far and wide looking for them. The same is true in the Cody, Wyoming area, albeit worse, where commercial overhunting in the Sunlight Basin/Crandall area has so impacted the bull population that G&F had to change from a general license season to a limited quota license season. The Cody outfitters of course blamed it all on wolves, as in, wolves are killing all the bulls, but even G&F had to admit, in a back handed sort of way, that overhunting was the culprit.
I’ve been pushing here in Dubois for a similar shift from a general to limited quota season, but it hasn’t gotten so bad yet that G&F is willing to face the politics of reducing trophy hunting opportunities here. So, for political reasons, G&F will let things get a lot worse later rather than taking preventative action now.
I think this problem of overhunting of bull elk and blaming elk problems on wolves sets the context of the childish bitching and moaning we’re hearing from David Allen and the RMEF about wolves and alleged misuse of RMEF propaganda about how well elk are doing. It is not well known outside the hunting community just how influential the commercial hunting industry is on the RMEF. Even more influential are wealthy private landowners, many of whom are wanna be ranchers as well as outfitters. These are the landowners RMEF works with on many of its habitat projects.
Both groups view elk and other big game as commercial agricultural crops and private property, a view that is antithetical to the public trust interests of most hunters. I have long watched the Stockgrowers and landowners beat the anti-predator drum to divert hunters’ attention away from the big game privatization and commercialization efforts of landowners and outfitters. Now RMEF has joined the drumbeating.
The RMEF has always been on the outskirts of overt politics. However, in 1997 it got burned by its Wyoming membership when it was discovered that the RMEF was secretly funding the Private Land/Public Wildlife program being pushed by ranchers on the G&F Commission, a program which included marketable hunting licenses as economic “incentives” for landowner cooperation in conservation efforts. Marketable hunting licenses are not popular in Wyoming, to put it delicately. The RMEF got burned pretty badly when the news got out–I’m not the only hunter in Wyoming who canceled his RMEF membership along with threatening to lynch the G&F Commission. That’s one reason the organization has been reluctant to get involved in politics, until recently.
First it was brucellosis politics; in late 2008 the RMEF was preparing to lend its support to bison-style brucellosis management of elk in collaboration with the Montana Stockgrowers, and it secretly scheduled a conference, MC’d by Jack Ward Thomas, in Billings in early 2009 to lay the foundation for such support, until the conference was blown and Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association and I invited ourselves to prevent any agreement on the proposal.
Now it’s wolves. I doubt it’s so much the membership that’s pushing an anti-wolf agenda at the RMEF than it is the politically and economically powerful landowner/outfitter supporters. It’s all politics, that is, it’s all about money.
I’m long past the point where I’ll trust the RMEF with my membership dollars because the organizaton has been more than happy over the last 15 years to sell out the public trust for donor dollars.
April 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM
That was very well written. I agree 100% on what you are saying about outfitters. I have been a guide and a client. Thank You
But wolves are killing elk and they will eventually have to reduce hunter opportunity some place because of the wolf, that is happening today in Montana. If a rutted out big bull is killed by wolves before it can recover then it is one less 6 point that a hunter will have a chance at. Secondly, we are always talking about elk but how about moose. There been reduction in tag numbers both in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho because of wolves. As you now drawing a moose tag is a once or twice lifetime opportunity with the chances of drawing at around 5%. There is not enough elk tags for everyone in American who financially and physically wants to hunt elk every year.
++Unfortunately, in much of NW Wyoming during winters, we’re seeing the opposite impact in elk harboring on private ranches. I suspect this harboring is more due to hunter pressure than to wolves, although I don’t doubt that in some instances wolves are contributing to the problem.
Why do elk winter on private land? I would think that the best lands were patented in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s because they made the best pasture lands for livestock which also was the historical wintering grounds for the wildlife that had eliminated.
April 22, 2010 at 1:17 PM
That’s true enough; the best land, previously winter range, was patented into private property early on. It makes one wonder, since in effect this land was stolen, first from Natives, and then from wildlife, why we should be discussing paying “incentives” to landowners at all for conservation on private land. It’s stolen land, period, and the taint of theft accrues, in my opinion, to the title as another encumbrance for conservation purposes.
There is no scientific proof that wolves are reducing moose in NW Wyoming. The evidence is, to the contrary, that habitat and climate are far more important than predation. http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/article_01a09cf2-a4cc-11de-8a0c-001cc4c002e0.html. I have a copy of the Becker study, if you want it. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it to you.
We have also had odd, unexplained incidences of moose deaths here in the Dubois area; in 2001 alone 11 dead moose were found dead throughout the watershed, none of them from predators. I myself found one of them. Unfortunately, none of the carcasses were retrieved in time for proper necropsies, and so we don’t know what killed them. We do know that wolves didn’t kill them.
In my own research, I’ve been documenting the sorry state of willow and riparian vegetation in this area. In short, too much riparian vegetation is decadent, too old, thus providing poor nutrition to moose. I haven’t seen twin moose calves, an indicator of good nutrition, in this country in years. My view is that the drought has reduced the snowpack in the surrounding mountains to such a degree that we don’t get the heavy spring flooding that previously periodically wiped out riparian vegetation and encouraged new, highly nutritious growth for moose forage. Strong flooding = good moose habitat = strong moose populations.
I can’t speak for Montana about moose; I don’t live there. But it is clear that we are in the southern range of moose country, and slight changes in climate for the hotter are significant enough, I think, to put this northern deer in physiological stress. Even removing wolves from moose country wouldn’t help. Hell, even wolf control in the Yukon and Alaska isn’t enough to offset the increasing pressure of hunting from ATV bound Anchorage and Fairbanks hunters and habitat fragmentation for either moose or caribou.
The basic rule of game management–it’s the habitat, my friends. If you focus on that, the other things settle down. Ignore habitat, and nothing you do matters.
Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about climate.
April 22, 2010 at 1:28 PM
elk275 you say _ But wolves are killing elk and they will eventually have to reduce hunter opportunity some place because of the wolf, that is happening today in Montana._
Why is it a bad thing? Reducing hunter opportunity should just make elk more valuable. I don’t think it is healthy for every hunter who pays his bucks and does his hunting to GET an elk. They should be hard won or what is the point? Thanks why they call it hunting not bagging! The hunting and fishing industry as well as private hunters would be CHEATED if everyone can just go out and get an elk. Think about it.
April 22, 2010 at 2:06 PM
Reducing hunter opportunity doesn’t bother me at all. Unlike people, wolves have to actually eat elk in order to survive. I would prefer if the wolves eat the elk instead of hunters. Aftertall, wolves actually depend on the elk in order to survive.
April 22, 2010 at 3:42 PM
Here we go again. There are still plenty of people that depend on elk for survival, especially the last couple of years with the economy in the tank. We’ve grown up in different worlds and have different ideas, the big difference is I don’t try to tell you what you should think or do. You go to the store for most of your food and it’s great that you have that option, some of us just don’t like the meat from the store and especially the price.
Just where in the hell do you find an elk that’s not hard won. Sure their are places that are easier to hunt and yes there are some that never get off the road to hunt, I think these are the exception rather than the rule, hunter success on elk in Idaho is somewhere around 15-20% I think, that’s a far cry from easy killing., 2 in 10 hunters killing their Elk a year is not what I would call easy street hunting.
April 23, 2010 at 8:04 AM
Jon, I guess you would rather have supporting the cattle industry and eat beef?
April 23, 2010 at 9:06 AM
Eating beef does not necessarily mean you support the cattle INDUSTRY. Moreover, there are other choices for protein in lieu of beef or wild game.
Full disclosure: I have a fair bit of venison in the freezer, but I haven’t eaten beef in a couple of years.
April 23, 2010 at 2:22 PM
SB, I also have venison along with some duck, goose, yellow perch and a ruffed grouse in the freezer. While at the restaurant for lunch today I overheard a man talking about eating muskrat. He mentioned that it is traditional for the French decendents in Monroe, Mi area to still eat muskrat during lent. Apparently it goes back to the great depression. He said many of the local groups such as the VFW’s, Kiwanis, Lions, etc, have muskrat feeds.
I have always wondered how much more livestock we would need to raise and how much habitat would be impacted if we didnot eat wild animals. Any idea? I’m not all that crazy about chickens and hogs farmings impact from the big corporate complexs either. When I lived in Arkansas I saw the impacts all the manure had on the streams.
April 23, 2010 at 2:51 PM
Sorry should have read JB not SB.
April 22, 2010 at 1:42 PM
Elk 275 where to start? Maybe with the success ratio / % and work backwards. enjoy
Linda, 275 will probably be a minute or
April 22, 2010 at 1:54 PM
++The basic rule of game management–it’s the habitat, my friends. If you focus on that, the other things settle down. Ignore habitat, and nothing you do matters.++
We all agree to this 100%. With all there faults and they have many faults the RMEF has done a wonderful job. All the DOW can do is file lawsuit after lawsuit. They cannot hold multi million dollar fund raisers, which goes to habitat acquisition and yes there is there BS.
When was the last time that wildlife watchers held a convention that the RMEF and North American Wild Sheep Foundation hold every year in Reno. The NAWS Foundation raised $2,500,000 for North American Wild Sheep this year. Money to acquire habitat. In the years gone by I was able to drop several thousand dollars an evening at there local chapter fund raisers and the money raised was used for local wild life enhancement. Today I can only watch and buy several hundred dollars in raffle tickets. Tomorrow is another day.
Moose, I know the biologist in Red Lodge, Montana very well. There has been a number of moose deaths north of Red Lodge which is not in the mountains but 90% private agriculture bottom land with excellent moose habitat. The FW&P’s has not been able to located a fresh moose carcass to do a necropsy and determine the cause of death. It is not wolves or predation. But wolves are killing moose. When a thrill killer shoots and kills a moose that is stealing from the state and the hunters and et al. But when a introduced wolf pack kills a moose then it is an eco system. Like I say most hunter wait a life time to draw a permit and to have a wolf reduce even one permit makes the wait longer. Yes, I have shot moose in Alaska, BC and the Yukon but I am still waiting my Montana tag — there is no animal that I like to hunt better.
April 22, 2010 at 2:14 PM
My gut feeling is everybody in this debate is being steered and used —- to benefit agricultural interests. If I lived in Wyo., MT, or Id, I wouldn’t trust anything anybody said regarding wildlife. There is too much doublespeak and politics, and behind the scenes corruption by people in power. I’m not shocked that now these groups are being used also! Too bad nobody figures it out in time to not be duped politically.
April 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM
It’s not a matter of ignorance, but of finances. The problem is, standing up to agricultural interests is something few are willing to do because it threatens the budget. Virtually all the conservation groups in Wyoming have bought into the cowboy myth, and collaboration, because that’s where the money is.
April 22, 2010 at 2:17 PM
You’ll not find me praising DOW. I think it’s a bunch of whimps and compromisers. The wolf depredation compensation fund has been a total failure in achieving its stated mission–improving local acceptance of wolves. Worse, DOW gave $100K to Montana’s DOL for a wolf depredation compensation fund–the same DOL that is abusing and slaughtering Yellowstone bison. You can’t compartmentalize conservation this way; it’s bad strategy for wildlife, but no doubt it’s good for the budget. As far as I’m concerned, DOW can go to hell. You’re right, it does nothing for habitat.
I’m fully aware of RMEF’s habitat work. (I’ve even published an article in Bugle magazine–against the privatization and commercialization of big game. Such an article wouldn’t be published today). But the cost of that work has been policies, discussed above, that threaten the public trust and in effect undermine the hunting rights of the public. No hunter in Montana or the West for that matter can claim to be unaware of what is happening with hunting on private land, for example. It’s the same thing as stream access. In my view, the RMEF has gone over the line against the public trust.
Same with bighorns. FNAWS has done good work on sheep habitat but it too is too close to big money for me to paint a halo over their heads. Here, we like to claim the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep Herd is the largest herd in North America. There are serious habitat problems with the herd, primarily, poor granitic and sandstone soils on the herd’s winter range that can’t support a herd objective of 1320 animals. Mild winters in the 1980s allowed the herd to rise above that objective but the hard winter of 1991 took care of that and dropped the herd to numbers that habitat studies from the late 70s predicted were sustainable–about 600 sheep. Unfortunately, given the economics of having the continent’s “largest sheep herd,” G&F refuses to lower the objective to what the habitat will support. So instead, we get coyote control. FNAWS (along with SFW) has supported and funded coyote control on Whiskey Mountain and environs, which has done nothing to improve the herd. FNAWS has fallen into the same unecological, unbiological anti-predator trap that everyone else seems to have fallen in.
So I don’t belong to FNAWS either.
Wolves killing moose is nothing. The question is whether it’s additive or compensatory mortality. I’ve seen no proof that it’s the former.
I’ve been putting in for a moose license for over 15 years and I still haven’t drawn. The thing is, I don’t blame that on wolves. I don’t bother to put in for a sheep license since the odds are so stacked against a successful draw.
It’s still the habitat.
April 22, 2010 at 3:15 PM
++I’m fully aware of RMEF’s habitat work. (I’ve even published an article in Bugle magazine–against the privatization and commercialization of big game. Such an article wouldn’t be published today). But the cost of that work has been policies, discussed above, that threaten the public trust and in effect undermine the hunting rights of the public. No hunter in Montana or the West for that matter can claim to be unaware of what is happening with hunting on private land, for example. It’s the same thing as stream access.++
Here is a very good article about the above in todays Bozeman Daily Chronicle about Controversy in the cross hairs: Initiative 161 stirs hunting debate in Montana
It talks about the wildlife on private lands and the outfitters. I am not only sick of hunting outfitters but outfitters worldwide whether they are climbing Mount Everest or doing bicycle tours in the French wine country
April 22, 2010 at 3:48 PM
I’ve also been putting in for a moose tag for several years. The funny thing is my son put in for the first time when he was 13 and pulled a bull tag. In idaho it seems like kids and women get drawn more often than men. Kind of makes you wonder if it’s really a draw. By the way the bull my son shot was some of the best meat we’ve had,good luck on the draw this year.
April 22, 2010 at 5:21 PM
I’ve been following I 161 for some time. I don’t think it will accomplish much if it passes. I’d rather see ballot initiatives working to give statutory and even constitutional support to the public trust.
In general, I think outfitters provide an important service but the industry, having become an industry rather than a personal profession rooted in local communities, as it used to be, has gone off the deep end and is simply an expression of raw greed like the livestock or minerals industries. There’s no other way to describe it. In Wyoming, this raw greed really traces back to the late 1970s when young outfitters bought outfits from the old outfitters, many of whom got their start before or just after WWII, and started thinking primarily in commercial rather than conservation or community terms. I’ve mentioned before how the old outfitters around here were the local leaders in getting the Washakie Wilderness in the Absaroka Mountains between Dubois and Cody created in 1973. And one of my heroes is Ned Frost, who got his start in outfitting in the early 20th century and who was became known as THE premier sheep guide in the Rocky Mountains. His old elk and sheep camps in the Dubois area are still in use.
I learned from my time up north how good moose meat is. It also jerks really well.
April 22, 2010 at 8:09 PM
++I’ve been following I 161 for some time. I don’t think it will accomplish much if it passes. I’d rather see ballot initiatives working to give statutory and even constitutional support to the public trust.++
The law setting aside a certain number of outfitter licenses was created in 1998 by a ballot initiative, which I voted against. If we can create a law with a ballot initiative then we can void the law with another initiative. Montana outlawed high fence elk hunting with a ballot initiative and endured 10 years of court challenges. The ban on high fence hunting would never have passed the in the legislature.
Why! I had just returned the Sunday before election day on Tuesday after a very successful moose hunt south of Fernie, British Columbia or about 15 miles north of the US/Canada border. Since, I am responsible for any hunting violations, I very carefully read the BC hunting regulations. I also read about the allotted number of moose tags in my hunting zone. The zone was a limited drawing area awarding 10 moose tags to the residents of BC. The drawing odds were about 10%. The outfitters in the zone according to my guide were given an additional 10 moose tags that they could sell to moose hunts to hunters. I was a very happy recipient of that license. Is that ethical and fair? No. Then there is five years later in Northern BC, but that is another story.
I have talked with non-resident hunters out hunting and they feel why should a person who can afford an outfitter be entitled to special privileges and have a license every year. Where they have to apply and draw a license on the average every 2 years.
I have not signed the petition yet, that is to be seen. I listed out the pros and cons and what I have read they are the same. What brothers me is that in the 1960’s and early 70’s hunters did not use an outfitter except for the real remote back county. Today hunters are using outfitters for front country hunts, if one needs an outfitter to hunt antelope or deer in Eastern Montana then they do not have the hunting skills and should not be in the field. This also includes fishermen there was a time when the rivers did not have a drift boat hatch.
Will I vote for it if it is on the ballot? “I don’t think it will accomplish much if it passes” I agree with you. But then there is the issue of fairness for all. I am on the fence on this one.
April 23, 2010 at 7:21 AM
I have great respect for your experience and knowledge, but your depiction of DOW is off base. I will leave it at that. I don’t know the details on the DOL story; I do know DOW does have a rep on the Board of that group. Rest assured that your outrage and others’ have been shared with folks at DOW, and as I told Ralph, if I get the facts and can talk about them, you folks will know about it.
In the meantime, call up the Bozeman office and talk with Mike Leahy with some of your complaints. Perhaps you might get some facts that will help with your anger.
As for habitat, that is certainly the missing piece in most efforts to restore animals to historic population areas. As a practical matter, even large groups like DOW cannot work on all aspect of endangered species, or restoring an ecosystem. Their focus is on the animal, and I think it will remain there. Other groups…land trusts, TPL, TNC, Wilderness Society, NWF, and so on have more of a habitat-priority as their mission statement. These groups work together to complete the picture when they can; shared resources in tough economic times is the best way to go.
April 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM
My depiction of DOW is based on my personal experiences with the organization and is therefore right on target. It’s nothing to me that you disagree with it. I have found the organization to be contemptuous of the grass roots and, as we see in the compartmentalization of wolf and bison conservation I mentioned above, strategically inept as far as conservation is concerned. The organization, like the other mainstream corporate groups, goes where the money is, to the cost of conservation. I also find its “pretty puppy propaganda” not only scientifically inaccurate, but rather contemptuous of what wolves really are–wild animals.
In short, what DOW does is market nature, not protect it.
April 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM
RH, check out this when you get the chance. I want you to set them guys straight.
April 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM
Thanks. Here’s my response in case it gets removed.
Greg Farber et al.
Prove me wrong; data from Wyoming G&F back me up.
Also, any further assertion from anyone that I am lying I will consider libel. Be forewarned.
P. S. By the way, the reason Type 6 cow elk licenses were high from 1998-2003 in the Dubois, WY area–1500 additional licenses over five years, not each year as implied above–is that G&F, upon the demand of the Diamond G Cattle Ranch west of Dubois, instituted an intense reduction program on the “Dunoir” segment of the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd which summers on the Buffalo Plateau in the Teton Wilderness and winters on/around Spring Mountain north of Dubois. The herd segment passes through the Dunoir Valley to and from summer and winter ranges, and mostly calves in the Dunoir itself.
The complaint from the Diamond G was that there were “too many elk in the Dunoir” eating forage “reserved” for cattle. This is the typical livestock industry complaint about elk in Wyoming, not to mention the West, something hunters seem to ignore where wolves and bears are concerned. Indeed, the main reason elk herds in Wyoming aren’t bigger than they are is that landowners, mostly ranchers, are always complaining about too many elk, or deer, or pronghorn, and demand–and get–herd reduction programs from G&F year after year after year. The focus of the reduction programs is of course on cows and does. Has no one ever heard of or participated in a late season depredation hunt?
Be that as it may, once the Dunoir segment had been reduced to objective, G&F stopped issuing the extra licenses in 2003, which is why significantly fewer hunters are coming to the Dubois area and why fewer elk are being processed at Wind River Meats, among other impacts to hotels, outfitters, etc. In short, the herd reduction program was an economic windfall for Dubois for five years, but as we all should know, all good things must pass.
That the G&F herd reduction program took place is an undeniable fact, although locals have conveniently forgotten it in order to claim that wolves and bears are killing all the elk (and moose), a claim that has no basis in fact.
You might want to interview G&F about this when you do your film so that at least you’ll have some facts right.
April 23, 2010 at 12:27 PM
I posted a few responses to another anti-wolf rant on the black bear blog a while back. The responses from Greg –which mostly consisted of conspiracy theories and anti-government rants–became increasingly absurd, hostile, and eventually unintelligible. Whatever pathology is at work in him has clearly distorted all reality. Trying to reason with him is a clear waste of time.
April 23, 2010 at 1:17 PM
I’ve posted a note on the website saying I’ll be happy to be interviewed with the caveat that if I consider the published film libelous or defamatory, I will sue. I’m awaiting confirmation.
April 23, 2010 at 1:34 PM
JB, that black bear blog is one sided. I have seen some comment that this blog is one sided, but that is not true. The great thing about this blog is that there are 2 sides that can post without having to worry about their comments being deleted. You have the hunters and you have wolf lovers. That is not to say that hunters don’t like wolves because I do believe some of them do. Both sides can speak their mind freely on here even if the other side doesn’t like what the other has to say. You can’t do that on the black bear blog because they will delete your comments. I have known a few people who have posted on there and got their comments deleted and they were speaking in a civil manner. That blog doesn’t like the facts I guess.
April 22, 2010 at 2:28 PM
Jimbob, your first few sentences are right on. Bothsides, a lot of money to made off endangered species, and there reintroduction. And biologists etc. can be swayed in any direction, that’s why experience/boots on the ground are important. That why I don’t pay anyone anyone dues, just some donations.
Jon, good example of the polarization issue, “doesn’t bother me a bit” in other words “you don’t care” about others interests. I doubt Webster could have said it better.
Now what was it bothsides needed to get together and work on again.
April 22, 2010 at 2:29 PM
Webster could’nt have.
April 22, 2010 at 5:37 PM
“All the DOW can do is file lawsuit after lawsuit. They cannot hold multi million dollar fund raisers, which goes to habitat acquisition and yes there is there BS…When was the last time that wildlife watchers held a convention that the RMEF and North American Wild Sheep Foundation hold every year in Reno.”
I largely agree with Robert regarding Defenders’ compensation program. However, while it has absolutely failed at creating tolerance among ranchers, I must admit it has been successful as a public relations tool for convincing other folks that ranchers are the one’s being unreasonable.
Regardless, where groups like Defenders have been successful is in the courtroom, and in my opinion, they deserve kudos for what they’ve done. Their successes in the courtroom have help established case law that has paved the way for many other groups to force the FWS to obey the law and list imperiled species.
By the way, non-hunters (including many wildlife watchers) often donate to groups like the nature conservancy which also protects habitat (without the condition that it be used for a particular species of game). I suggest you take a look at the number of dollars they’ve raised and the acreage they have protected.
The self-righteous, entitlement of some hunters only works to reinforce stereotypes and drive the rest of the conservation community away. Groups like RMEF and F&G agencies can’t seem to grasp this fundamental reality.
April 23, 2010 at 9:10 AM
Carl, not at all. Wild game is healthier for you so have at it. I have no problem with hunters hunting wild game for food purposes.
April 23, 2010 at 5:37 PM
All I want to know is, when is the judge going to make his ruling ? Just before this thing gets out of hand !It is pointing that way !
April 23, 2010 at 5:56 PM
Send his office an email and ask, when he has scheduled this matter, it would be far more productive than asking on this website…
April 23, 2010 at 5:57 PM
I know I have corresponded with his office on many occasions. and his office is always prompt when requesting information.
April 23, 2010 at 5:57 PM
Either way it goes Richard, I don’t think it will be good for the wolves because if they are relisted, I am sure some will take matters into their own hands and kill wolves illegally. I have seen some claiming they are going to poison and shoot as many wolves as they can. Maybe they are just yanking the wolf lover’s chain, but you never know. I understand that Idaho’s ultimate goal is to reduce wolf #s all the way down to under 200. There are probably more than 1000 wolves in Idaho. If Idaho wants to reach that goal, many many wolves will be killed. Add in wildlife services and all of the wolves they kill and it doesn’t look good for wolves.
April 24, 2010 at 2:13 PM
I think the goal is more around the 500 mark for Idaho. Some would like 200, some would like 2,000. There are very few places in North Idaho where there are not any wolves or at least signs of them. I’m wondering if we are not to capacity as of right now.
April 23, 2010 at 6:00 PM
Some may disagree with this article, but I think it’s a great read.
April 23, 2010 at 6:55 PM
Well, I’ve had an interesting day over at Black Bear Blog. Folks might want to follow the exchange at http://mainehuntingtoday.com/bbb/2010/04/22/when-a-knave-calls-out-knaves/.
Regarding the various (false) claims about wolves and elk hunting in the Upper Wind River Valley made by these folks, I’ve stated on the blog some facts about the Wiggins Fork Elk Herd–which according to these folks is disappearing because of wolves–based upon Wyoming Game & Fish Department data and reports (i.e., annual herd unit and harvest reports). As it turns out, these folks are claiming that G&F data are invalid or irrelevant. Well, that kind of stops the discussion, doesn’t it? I guess they’ve got secret data, but I don’t have access to it, so who knows …
That’s the point, of course. Without a basis of fact, you can’t discuss anything with the anti-wolf crowd. We all know this–that it’s pointless to try and accommodate them because they have no concept of fact at all.
As I’ve been following this up, I have found that one of the individuals, a fellow named Scott Rockholm, apparently from northern Idaho (has anyone from Idaho run across this guy?), fancies himself a film-maker and has posted a number of anti-wolf clips on You Tube that repeat the various falsehoods (Canadian wolves, the 300 wolves agreement, etc.) that we’ve heard over the last 15 years. Since I don’t want to mess up this post with a second URL, go on YouTube and look up Rockholm 66. Very interesting clips, especially the clip of the lone, unfortunately ignorant, pro-wolf protester at the Jackson Hole anti-wolf rally held last month.
What’s important about these clips is the language used–it’s inseparable from the right wing, states rights, tea party, militia language that is so troubling to those of us committed to civil society and the public good. It’s just not about wolves, or conservation in general, but the very basic political issues of our democracy.
Anyway, I’ve accepted the challenge to be interviewed and filmed by Scott Rockholm. Now it’s up to them to contact me and set up a time. Somehow I doubt I’ll hear from them, because I’m not ignorant, nor can I be intimidated. But we’ll see.
April 23, 2010 at 7:02 PM
Boy Robert, you have more moxy than me, the first time I was over there, I decided rightly so, that there was no one interested in learning anything…
April 23, 2010 at 7:11 PM
It’s just that I have zero tolerance for bullies.
April 23, 2010 at 7:14 PM
Robert, the interview should be very interesting if it happens. What I don’t get is that they interviewed a guy at the anti wolf rally who they called a pot smoking hippy, but they didn’t even bother to interview Mike Jimenez, a wolf biologist who attended the rally and talked to the hunters about wolves. That guy rockholm is nothing more than your typical wolf hater. He likes what Toby Bridges has to say about wolves, so that should tell you something right there. Given what you said about yourself, I doubt you will be intimidated. I think they are a bit shocked that a hunter feels differently about wolves than them.
April 23, 2010 at 7:19 PM
To that guy Greg on that bbb blog, there are NUMEROUS hunters who post on this blog and only one pro wolf person that posts on the bbb blog, Lee who also posts on here from time to time. This blog is not one sided like the bbb blog is. Hunters and wolf supporters can both post freely on here.
April 23, 2010 at 7:30 PM
As I said, I don’t think it’ll happen. Apparently these guys are coming to Dubois this weekend, or maybe next week, to interview the local outfitters and the owner of Wind River Meats, who actually is one of the best butchers I’ve ever met. But he’s come to the wrong conclusions as to why fewer elk and moose are coming into his game processing plant.
Anyway, it’s obvious why Rockholm didn’t post a clip of Mike Jimenez. He knows too much. I don’t claim to know as much about wolves as Mike Jimenez, but I’ve managed to acquire a good bit of knowledge and understanding of wolf biology and ecology over the last 15 years. I do know my local watershed and elk herd.
April 23, 2010 at 7:48 PM
Folks look at this: an admission of illegally shooting wolves.
April 23, 2010 at 8:03 PM
First if he is shooting wolves illegally, then he is not a hunter, I know the exact drainage he was in, I have hunted it a couple of times, and last year, took a nice elk out of there, but more importantly, there is a war brewing…I sure wish I knew the answer to help this, but I don’t have a good feeling over the future…it is going to get worse before it gets better..
April 24, 2010 at 6:28 AM
Thanks for posting the vid, Robert.
This is exactly the same anger one could count on any day I came near outfitters and guides during elk hunting season in the Thorofare…only thing was it was the same antisocial behavior before the wolves. It also occurred somewhat during the summer by these same hoodlams.
Ride into camp for inspection and some of these clowns would throw their plates and food on the ground and get up and walk away…This in front of guests. The young rangers would get so intimidated they would not even try to inspect while certain outfitters were in these campsites. They would make an on trail limited check…so they could put down they had checked this outfitter.
It was the same with Forest Service wilderness guards…only worse. If they saw the booze they would get back on their horses and ride away.
The guy in the vid may seem overpowering but I tell you, you go at these guys with inner strength and they wilt away. You catch guys like this poaching and you break them down, right there on the spot, break em down and they start crying and bawling. Then pull out your forest service notepad from your shirt pocket and tell them to write in their own words what they did. The tears were on a number of these confessions, I tell you that.
Hell, this guy isn’t even in nature. His “23 miles back in” is on a snowmobile road. It is a logging road and logging roads have beer cans, toilet paper and rags used to crap right next to the road….and ratty girls underwear and condoms strewn all over.
Ya this guy is quite the tough guy. I say don’t be fearful of this type. Offense is the best defense on these guys. What I do hate are these types taking their social misfit anger out on the wildlife. As I said at the first in this post, it is not about wolves. This behavior happened long before the wolves came back.
Actually guys like these were a lot easier to catch and break down than the professional poacher. The pro is cold and calculating. Those are the guys I really had to be prepared for before coming in on them.
April 24, 2010 at 8:31 AM
I am aware of all this; the Thorofare outfitters, all mostly members of the Jackson Hole Outfitters and Guides Association, are a class all their own for meanness. These are the guys who sponsored the Anti Wolf Rally in Jackson in March. These guys even got a not so approving spot in one of CJ Box’s Wyoming murder mysteries, Out of Range, in which game warden Joe Pickett has a fatal (for the outfitter) run in with one of the Thorofare legends Pickett arrests for engaging in illegal salting. It’s an interesting literary exercise to try and figure out which real outfitter the fictional outfitter “Smoke Van Horn” might be based on. I guess all of them, since I don’t think Box, who lives on the other side of the state, has ridden that country or knows individual outfitters.
By the way Bob, did G&F or the Bridger Teton NF ever arrest anyone for illegal salting? When I was working with the Taylors on the salting issue ten years ago, I never heard of an arrest.
April 26, 2010 at 12:44 AM
I’m pretty sure, at least that is what I heard, Box wrote his Thorofare, Out of Range, based on my nationally publicized salting case. I also heard he tried to jump any other books in case there were script writers looking for a movie. I even had several writers approach me for movie type purposes.
As for any outfitters being cited by forest Service the answer is none that I no of. Yes, outfitters were written up but Jackson headquarters would throw them out. Even Kneiffy Hamilton, coming in as head of Bridger – Teton was quoted in the paper as saying she wanted to clean up the illegal salting…but in reality all I saw her do was try to sweep it under the table.
She put forth surface action like sending in the head BT biologist to check out salts but when I heard this guy was coming in…and rode over to Hawks Rest to show him those salts all he did was squirm and make excuse after excuse of why he couldn’t check out this site or another.
Same for the University of Montana grad student’s reclamation salting study Kneiffy supported. There was no help from FS enforcement or Black Rock to show this guy where salts were (they gave him trail crew to ride with…a group of guys who would have no knowledge of illegal hunting activities). In fact the Jackson FS headquarters directed this guy to the local illegal salter outfitter to be shown around.
I heard about this student and rode to Hawks Rest ….. gave him all the quads showing locations of all these salts …more than fifty spots. I had personally given the same maps to Black Rock and Jackson headquarters but when I showed this grad the locations on my maps he said it was the first he knew of any maps.
When I showed him the salts above Hawks Rest camp…and he rode past this camp to get to them, he told me this camp turned from being very sociable to very intimidating. Of course all this was quite an eye opener for this kid. At Jackson FS he had been told there were only old inactive salts in Thorofare and the plan was trying to figure only how to reclaim the ground (thus the FS and outfitter cooperative show and tell pony rides). They never gave him the real scoop.
Robert, I’m sure the yellow streak I talk about in Jackson FS is old hat for you. It is too bad they are like this but it is so.
The grad students end report was heavily redacted by Forest Service, I heard.
On the ground over the years some Forest Service wilderness guards would pick up the blocks and take them to their cabins. At Fox Park cabin they had over 25 of Triangle X’s 50# salt blocks stacked up on the porch. The Park rangers would take some of these to their subdistrict cabins. Of course the end of the story for this particularly affronted wilderness guard is the outfitters talked to Jackson FS and had her replaced.
I also had two Black Rock FS supervisors, the District Ranger and his long time technican after showing them on the map of Mt. Ck. where salts were, find freshly poured out loose salt at one of the locations. They gathered it up and packed it to the only outfitter on this drainage and WARNED him. Ya warned and told him he was being placed on double secret probation…thats all they did…and these guys were the top of the chain for their own district. No second hand subordinate evidence here…just the real on the ground evidence.
I also one time confiscated the zip locked “fresh it up” mineral salt from a Madsen guides saddle bags…about 20# worth….and sent it out via FS trail crew to black rock with a written statement of willingness to testify. and this was AFTER all the press coverage.
NOTHING WAS DONE!!!! so there you have it…the wimpodites of rugged image FS wilderness protectors.
April 26, 2010 at 6:53 AM
Thanks. I think Box does his research and clearly he read about the controversy over salting when it blew up in 98 and 99. I don’t think he rode the Thorofare during hunting season though since he makes a comment in the novel about clean outfitter camps. Geez; I’ve seen some camps in there that could compete with any county stockyard. Those need reclaiming too, but don’t count on the FS to do anything about it.
I wish I knew that country better. But I’m trying to learn my side of the Divide. Outfitters are better on this side of the Divide, I will say that.
April 23, 2010 at 10:00 PM
RH, I hope you don’t mind if I post this article with you because it is a GREAT article.
April 24, 2010 at 8:10 AM
Thanks. I had forgotten I’d written this. Remarkably restrained, isn’t it, considering the vulgarity of the topic. I recall that I received no reply from Sen. Barrasso. Figures; he’s become the most bombastic Mr NO of Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation. His newsletters mostly report TV appearances on Fox News. His most recently introduced bill is to prohibit federal agencies writing NEPA documents from considering climate change. He’s doing a fine job for Wyoming.
The point is that the livestock and outfitting industries have poisoned their own wells but can’t or won’t accept it. I don’t care much for the livestock industry since it’s been a self-appointed arrogant oligarchy rooted in big money from the very beginning but outfitting began at the bottom, as common ranchers and cowboys turned to guiding hunters during the fall to supplement meager incomes. These guys knew their country backwards and forwards and up and down, while the Stockgrowers knew only the ins and outs of the State Legislature and Congress. There is a difference.
At one time, at least in western Wyoming, outfitters and guides along with sportsmen made up the local hunting clubs that worked the nuts and bolts of what we now think of as traditional conservation. As I’ve mentioned above, it was local Dubois outfitters along with (gasp!) the Sierra Club that pushed the creation of the Washakie Wilderness in 1973, something for which I am eternally grateful.
Times have changed. It’s a shame that outfitting has lost the old conservation ethic, and unfortunately there’s no chance it will adopt the new one in which predators have a natural and necessary place. Having joined the irrational right, and in some cases the really far irrational right, it’s a lost cause.
April 23, 2010 at 11:16 PM
Looks like a little hi-markin’ going on over at the blackbear blog, along with some diarriah of the keyboard. What Maurice Strong and the 1992 Rio Conference have to do with wolves is beyond me?
I am thinking facts and critical thinking skills are in shorter supply over there than here, along with an ability to hold a thought long enough for a reader to keep up.
April 24, 2010 at 8:23 AM
I didn’t know wolves are spelled wolfffs in Idaho. And these people are allowed to handle weapons! Scary
April 24, 2010 at 8:34 AM
Robert Hoskins- I’m sure you are capable and you can take of yourself, but I hope if you meet with these people that you don’t go by yourself- these people have obvious wires crossed the wrong way and are probably unpredictable. I would hate to hear of the situation turning bad.
April 24, 2010 at 9:13 AM
Robert Hoskins Says:
April 23, 2010 at 7:48 PM
Folks look at this: an admission of illegally shooting wolves.
What I found interesting about this video is just how much “wildlife” did he expect to see, roaring around in densely wooded areas for a good part of the day, on loud snowmobiles? I’m thinking the other defination of dense, might just apply to this guy.
April 24, 2010 at 9:38 AM
Just looked at the video this morning. Interesting how he can talk and keep that Skoal in his lower lip from juicing out on his chin (last half of the vid). And, he never spit once. Impressive. I think he’s an undercover shill for DOW. He is the best advertisement for donations they could ever get, except maybe Toby Bridges. Strange how advocates on the fringe become poster children for their opposition. Dumber than a rock.
April 24, 2010 at 12:19 PM
I placed the following comment on NewWest in response to Bill Schneider’s recent column on the RMEF/DOW conflict. It’s rather long but I’m trying to make a complicated point:
I’ve written you privately two or three times about the ecological folly of basing wolf conservation upon numbers, but I don’t seem to have gotten through to you. Let me try again in more detail.
The Endangered Species Act calls for the restoration of threatened and endangered species to a “significant” portion of their (historic) range. The word “historic” doesn’t appear in the law but “historic” is logically and scientifically inseparable from “significant,” for reasons I’ll get to below.
When the Fish & Wildlife Service wrote its first implementing regulation for the ESA, it interpreted the law and congressional intent to require restoration to historic ranges. This interpretation remained in place for over thirty years until the Bush administration illegally tried to reinterpret “range” to mean only “currently occupied” range to limit the biologically necessary but politically volatile expansion of such species as the wolf or grizzly bear. However, this latter day interpretation violates the restorative intent of the ESA and the biological and ecological needs of previously wide ranging species such as the gray wolf or the grizzly bear.
In other words, the ESA does not envision the restoration of endangered and threatened species to geographical “zoos,” especially with such historically wide-ranging species as the wolf. It envisions restoration of species to their historic habitat,not currently occupied habitat.
Wolves didn’t evolve in geographic zoos; until their extermination began with the first American colonists in the 17th century they were spread all over North America. They are a North American species–not a Rocky Mountain or Great Plains or Upper Midwest or New England or Southern or Southwestern or Pacific Northwest or Canadian species. Wolves are a continental species.
This means that their genetic diversity and long term survival depended–and depends–upon local adaptations to many different environments as well as upon interchange with other populations on a landscape scale.
The intent of the ESA is to replicate, as much as is possible, these evolved, natural conditions of the species.
I don’t want to get any more complicated with this discussion. It’s complicated enough as it is. But it follows that what is most critical about wolf restoration and conservation is the distribution of and relationships among populations, not raw numbers of individuals. We’re not talking about livestock here, with each isolated animal unit assigned such and such a price. We’re talking about a wild species that has an evolutionary biology and ecology that depends upon its being in lots of places at low densities rather than presenting big numbers in a few places, which creates serious biological and ecological problems, such as we see with an extreme example of inbred wolves in Isle Royale National Park.
Animals like wolves at the top of the food chain are necessarily limited numerically in specific areas by their prey. That’s how nature works–or is supposed to work. Lots of prey, few predators. (Unfortunately humans have been violating that ecological law for millennia, but that’s another issue).
In short, that means what is natural for wolves is low densities in specific places but widespread distribution of interconnected populations throughout the continent. This is how genetic diversity, the critical path of species survival, is maintained. Low density wolf populations in many places. Restrict wolves to small places, or few places, you create genetic and other problems.
Environmental groups have gotten locked into the folly of the wolf numbers game primarily because anti-wolf groups have gotten locked into the numbers game–their false claim that the Feds and environmentalists agreed on a maximum of 300 wolves for the Yellowstone and central Idaho restoration area. No one agreed to any such thing nor did the FWS implement it as policy; it’s fantasy. Such geographical restriction would also be biological and ecological disaster for the restored population of wolves and violate the ESA.
But at the same time, it’s absurd biologically and ecologically to call for thousands of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as some environmentalists are doing. The numbers game as it’s being played is all rhetoric and bad science.
Five thousand wolves might be an appropriate number technically for genetic purposes but those five thousand wolves need to be spread across the landscape in stable packs at low densities, not crammed into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem or central Idaho.
Once again, you maintain genetic diversity by having small stable populations spread widely across the landscape with dispensers moving between and among populations. That’s what the “metapopulation” argument is all about. It’s about density and distribution and interconnectedness, not numbers.
It’s certainly easier to talk about wolf numbers since it’s far more complicated to talk about wolf ecology. You can’t soundbite ecology. But it’s a mistake because talking about numbers automatically forces us to ignore the distribution issue, which is the fundamental issue. However, I have found environmentalists curiously reluctant to talk publicly about distribution because it means talking about wolves in lots of places. Distribution seems to be a politically incorrect topic.
I don’t see why it should be. Remember what I said above. The ESA requires, in effect, wolf restoration on a continent wide scale. To the species’ historic range. And the evolution of predators and prey reflects this survival rule: few predators, lots of prey, in relational densities across the landscape appropriate to the biology of the respective species.
Black footed ferrets have vastly different biological and ecological requirements than wolves. But unfortunately wolves are being treated an awful lot like ferrets.
So let’s treat wolves as wolves. As a species with its own evolutionary history. What this means for the gridlocked wolf “debate” is that with widespread populations, we don’t need lots of wolves in specific places. What we do need in specific places are stable, well-functioning packs at low densities.
That’s the trade-off: low densities with wide distribution. Any takers?
In closing, I would strongly recommend against anyone, especially environmentalists, “agreeing” to specific numbers of wolves. That’s not wise wolf conservation. Instead, we need to apply the ESA as it was intended and restore wolves to a significant portion of their historic range in North America and allow wolf populations to set their own densities (through the establishment of stable packs) according to the biologically and ecologically suitable habitat and prey base. We should be doing the same with prey species, elk and bison (especially bison), while doing all we can to to protect, conserve, and expand habitat in general. But that’s the next controversial topic.
April 26, 2010 at 7:35 AM
Thanks for posting those comments. For other who wish to learn more about the “significant portion of its range issue”, here is a short paper I wrote last year on the topic:
Click to access Bruskotter_and_enzler_2009.pdf
April 26, 2010 at 7:37 AM
Apologies for the typos; the caffeine in my coffee apparently has yet to reach my brain.
April 26, 2010 at 8:09 AM
Good article JB, especially the last few paragraphs:
It is in this context that the controversy regarding how to interpret the SPR phrase
must be understood. The Solicitor’s interpretation of the SPR phrase would further limit
the number of species listed and the area in which they qualify for protections, ultimately
diminishing the government’s ability to conserve threatened and endangered species.
Implementing such an interpretation would reduce the ability of the ESA to protect endangered
species and the ecosystems on which they depend and could result in the creation of
a system of disconnected, remnant populations of species—the functional equivalent of
wilderness zoos. Perhaps more importantly, the Solicitor’s interpretation of the SPR
phrase is likely to be perceived as simply the newest in a series of political efforts to limit
the scope of the ESA. This perception has the potential to negatively impact public trust in
FWS decisions, making litigation more likely, which will only serve to further delay ESArelated
Over the long term, these actions could erode public support for the agency
in general, which should concern everyone interested in the continued conservation of our
nation’s wildlife resources.
April 26, 2010 at 8:29 AM
Thanks for posting the paper. This is really important–people need to understand the history of things.
The “current range” argument certainly is political. Its intent is to undermine the ESA covertly, achieving through legerdemain what can’t be accomplished in the open. Kind of like, at the more horrific scale, creating non-existent loopholes in the law to allow torture. Yes, the Bush administration has much to account for.
April 26, 2010 at 8:57 AM
Thank you for your kind words. Our primary reason for writing this paper–which is essentially a summary of a much more detailed law review (Enzler & Bruskotter, 2009)–was to make this information more accessible to interested wildlife professionals, academics and citizens. Like Robert, I believe it is important that people understand the magnitude of change that this policy (the Solicitor’s Memorandum) represents, and its potential for abuse. The reaction from scientists has been striking; there is near universal condemnation of the Memorandum.
For people interested in more reading, here is a complete (to my knowledge) list of articles that discuss the SPR topic and/or Solicitor’s Memorandum:
Bruskotter, J. T., and S. A. Enzler. 2009. Narrowing the Definition of Endangered Species: Implications of the U.S. Government’s Interpretation of the Phrase “A Significant Portion of its Range” Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14:73 – 88.
D’Elia, J., M. Zwartjes, and S. McCarthy. 2008. Considering Legal Viability and Societal Values When Deciding What to Conserve under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology 22:1072-1074.
Enzler, S. A., and J. T. Bruskotter. 2009. Contested Definitions of Endangered Species: The Controversy Regarding How to Interpret the Phrase “A Significant Portion a Species’ Range”. Virginia Environmental Law Journal 27:1-65.
Greenwald, D. N. 2009. Effects on Species’ Conservation of Reinterpreting the Phrase “Significant Portion of its Range” in the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01353.x.
McAnaney, A. P. 2006. Remembering the spirit of the Endangered Species Act: A case for narrowing agency discretion to interpret “significant portion” of a species’ range. Golden Gate University Law Review 36:431-458.
Nelson, M. P., J. A. Vucetich, and M. K. Phillips. 2007.
Normativity and the Meaning of Endangered: Response to Waples et al. 2007. Conservation Biology 21:1646-1648.
Vucetich, J. A., M. P. Nelson, and M. K. Phillips. 2006. The normative dimension and legal meaning of endangered and recovery in the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology 20:1383-1390.
Waples, R. W., P. B. Adams, J. Bohnsack, and B. L. Taylor. 2007a. A biological framework for evaluating whether a species is threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range. Conservation Biology 21:964-974.
_____. 2007b. Normativity Redux. Conservation Biology 21:1649-1650.
_____. 2008. Legal Viability, Societal Values, and SPOIR: Response to D’Elia et al. Conservation Biology 22:1075-1077.
April 27, 2010 at 3:11 PM
Update. The big brave boys from the Black Bear Blog bailed. I set a time and place to meet–today at the Cowboy Cafe at 1 pm in Dubois–but they didn’t show. Well, it wasn’t a total loss; the Cowboy had a nice pork, mashed potato, and gravy special.
My assessment? These guys are more than willing to prey on ignorant, city-bred, non-hunting pro wolf protesters for their anti-wolf videos and propaganda, but they won’t come near a pro-wolf hunter and naturalist who knows wolves and elk.
These guys are the best argument for conservation.
April 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM
I was really hoping they would show up…but of course I knew they wouldn’t but now they will be back on their blog saying something against ya again Robert…
April 27, 2010 at 3:27 PM
No surprise there RH. I figured they would. I would have loved it if you got the chance to school them on what is what.
April 27, 2010 at 3:41 PM
It is probably just as well the interview did not happen. No doubt it would have been heavily edited and prefaced with their spin, and unless you had somebody doing a video of them interviewing you (to keep them honest), they would have no incentive to let your comments stand on their own.
I, too, sensed these yahoos are bullies, and not up to standing toe to toe with someone smarter, more articulate, and equipped with facts and working knowledge of the topic. Their continuing dialog with each other on the black bear blog reminded me of junior high school – what there are maybe four or five of them, all reinforcing each other’s views. And, I even think they have a little blog envy, knowing they monitor this site, and take shots at some who post here.
This Rockholm is a legend in his own mind regarding his video skills; may I suggest for him a video class – and dude, get rid of the Skoal!
April 27, 2010 at 5:18 PM
blog envy is exactly what it is,especially alter boy Farber, and they all monitor this blog along with all the associated blogs of that type. I suspect that in large part they get most of the news stories that is posted sourced from here.
If you notice some of those sites contain about 90% advertising so in fact are nothing more than money enterprises, which like most of that type of media thrive on contreversy and distortion. I could spend hours debunkiung myths presented on those sites but to what purpose. I have in the past and what I found is that once you get them backed into a corner with facts and there is no place else to go then they will just go to another site and start all over again.
April 27, 2010 at 5:32 PM
anyway there is something decidedly Freudian going on
April 27, 2010 at 4:12 PM
WM, I wouldn’t be surprised if they spend more time viewing this blog rather than the bbb blog. All you ever hear them commenting on is this blog and its members.
April 28, 2010 at 7:51 AM
We got at least six views from them yesterday according to the blog stats.
Robert Hoskins challenge of an interview and video happened while I was gone.
I hadn’t paid much attention to BBB, but looking it over they are preoccupied with things over here.
April 28, 2010 at 8:06 AM
Actually Ralph, they’re the ones who wanted the interview–said they were coming to Dubois to hear from various local outfitters and businessmen how wolves are killing off the elk and moose (something that would be news to the elk and moose, by the way) and they wanted to try and set up and film a confrontation between me and them–and I agreed, but only on my terms. I also told when and where I’d be available, but as we all know they didn’t show.
To tell the truth, I didn’t really expect them to show up. After all, I’d called their bluff.
That’s the key–call their bluffs.
April 28, 2010 at 8:54 AM
I’d say pope gregory is a bit more than preoccupied
April 27, 2010 at 6:43 PM
Jon, RH, thanks for posting the link to BBB, I’ve never been there before, as a trophy/predator hunter it sure would be a lot easier to dwell there. How easy is it, and how much do you learn when your not challenged. After reading much of the BBB site, and dwelling on it for the last few hours, would the polarization issue, be better off if I took my nonscientific, “in my opinion” faux fanny poor spelling/grammar an moved on. I have my big boy shorts on, Jon. timZ, Virginia etc.???
April 27, 2010 at 6:52 PM
If everyone who posted here was in agreement, it sure would be a boring place! One of the best features of this blog is that people have diverse perspectives, but (mostly) keep things from getting personal. I don’t always agree with you, but I appreciate your point of view.
April 28, 2010 at 6:40 AM
stay around, you’er good company
April 27, 2010 at 7:36 PM
Those funny clowns were too scared to interview RH because they know he has the true knowledge of what is going on.