Re-Wilding Montana

An Event in Missoula, Montana on October 25, 2010

It never fails. Every time I find myself driving across the immense open space and undulating landscape of the front range in Montana, I puzzle myself over the absence of bison. And each time I hear about the threat posed to livestock by wolves, I wonder how different it would be if bison were out there. Just today, I was speaking to Chief Jimmy St. Goddard of the Blackfeet Nation about restoring balance to nature (versus plopping species down onto landscapes), and he stated “wolves will go where the bison are.” Humans, being lazy by nature, tend to think that given the choice between cows and bison, wolves would favor the slow, dumb ones. But we’ve never given them that choice. Since wolves co-evolved with bison, I tend to think Chief Jimmy knows what he is talking about.

Last year, WWP’s Montana office premiered “Lords of Nature” in Montana, a film documenting the importance of top predators like wolves to healthy ecosystems. Scientists were surprised to learn after reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone that there was a dramatic improvement in riparian ecosystems, benefitting fish and birds and creating a cascading beneficial effect on the food chain. Then we had a lively panel discussion that included Montana Wolf Coordinator Carolyn Syme. In arguing for management authority in federal court, Montana emphasized how “all species fit together”, with the wolf being an “integral part” of the ecosystem. But when asked why bison should not then be welcomed back to Montana, Syme refused to answer, pretending the question was a matter of opinion, not science.

This year, we are presenting two films with a panel discussion. We’re excited to show the new High Plains Films documentary on bison, “Facing the Storm.” According to the filmmakers, the film shows that “the American bison is not just an icon of a lost world, but may very well show us the path to the future.” In a second theatre, we will be showing a film that premiered at the Wildlife Film Festival last year, “The Wolf that Changed America.” It’s a remarkable story about a wolf bounty hunter named Ernest Seton who was hired in 1893 to kill America’s last wolf, a notoriously crafty and elusive wolf named Lobo, and was so changed by the ordeal that he became a global advocate for wolves and helped spearhead America’s wilderness movement. Afterward, there will be a panel discussion with George Wuerthner, author of “Welfare Ranching”, Richard Manning, author of “Rewilding the West”, FWP Commissioner Ron Moody, and Chief Jimmy. Buffalo Field Campaign Spokesperson Stephany Seay will moderate the discussion.

According to recent scientific studies by independent experts, wild bison present almost no risk whatsoever of transmitting brucellosis to livestock. So the kind of balanced wildlife management approach we intend to discuss in this public forum is socially feasible, scientifically justified, morally compelling, and economically smart. Please join the dialogue.

Tom Woodbury, Montana Director, Western Watersheds Project.


WHAT: Western Watersheds Project & Wolf Warriors are sponsoring a Public Forum on the future of Montana’s wildlife that will include simultaneous screenings of two documentaries followed by a panel discussion (infra.) with audience participation. The films are:

“Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison” – the new documentary from High Plains Films that will be premiering nationally on PBS at a later date.

“Lobo: The Wolf That Changed America” – A “Nature” film that premiered at the Wildlife Film Fest, documents the story of Ernest Thompson Seton’s transformation at the hands of Lobo, the wolf he was hired to track and kill in New Mexico in 1893.

WHEN: 7 PM, Monday, October 25, 2010.

WHERE: Roxy Theatre, downtown Missoula.

WHO: The Panel Discussion will be moderated by Stephany Seay, spokesperson for the Buffalo Field Campaign, and will include:

Richard Manning, award-winning environmental author and journalist, author of “Rewilding the West” & “Grassland”

George Wuerthner, ecologist/author/photographer/journalist, author of “Welfare Ranching”

Ron Moody, journalist/sportsman, FWP Commissioner

Chief James St. Goddard (Ee-Suk-Yah), hereditary Chief of Blackfeet Nation, former member of Blackfeet Tribal Business Council.

WHY:

  • The State of Montana (FWP) is in the early stages of crafting a conservation strategy for bison that will examine where bison fit on Montana’s landscape
  • The wolf management issue de jour tends to be viewed in isolation from its ecology. There are some who believe restoring bison to Montana’s landscape is not only the right thing to do, but will also go a long way toward resolving conflicts between wolves and livestock and elk, since bison and wolves co-evolved, and bison were one of the wolves primary protein sources. The focus of this forum is to conjoin these issues, and to begin discussion what a natural wildlife heritage would look like in Montana.
  • The Native American perspective is consistently ignored by the media and governing bodies in regard to these two species, which happen to be central to Native American cultural practices and beliefs. We are honored to have Chief St. Goddard on our panel, as he is an eloquent spokesman not just for Native Americans, but for his brothers bison and wolves as well.

(This event is free and open to the public. However, there is a suggested $5 donation for the films, with any excess proceeds to benefit High Plains Films.)

82 Responses to “Re-Wilding Montana”

  1. ProWolf in WY Says:

    “Lobo: The Wolf That Changed America” is an amazing documentary. I think anyone who is anti-wolf should try watching this and not have at least some respect for wolves after seeing it.

    • jon Says:

      I watched it a few days ago pro wolf. It was amazing. I doubt anti wolfers are going to change their opinion on wolves after seeing this. They only see the wolf as vermin who is eating the deer, elk, and moose that they feel only belongs to them and only they should be entitled to them.

  2. Rita K. Sharpe Says:

    Thank you,Ken.Sad that the bison are held captive and they can only roam in places where man sees fit or suits him.

  3. Mike Bickley Says:

    ‘Lords of Nature’ is being broadcast again on PBS & Nature this fall. It is an excellent film screen-written by William Stolzenburg who has written an equally excellent book on our vanishing top predators, ‘Where the Wild Things Were’. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the regulators of ecosystems.

  4. pointswest Says:

    By far the best documentaries are BBC documentaries that air in England. American documentaries are usually produced for a 12-year-old audience. BBC documentaries are usually on a much higher level of intellect and are more in depth.

    You can download and watch BBC documentaries. Some PBS documentaries are good and some National Geographic but my faves are the BBC documentaries.

    One is this 3 part series on Yellowstone. It is in HD and is spectacularly filmed during the heavy snow year of 2008 I believe. A similar documentary aired on Animal Plant (it was co-produced) but was only a one part documentary and not nearly as interesting.

    BBC Yellowstone (3 part)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_(BBC_TV_series)

    This BBC doc is good on wolves. It is not only about American wolves but also about wolves in the Carpathian Alps.

    BBC
    http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Wolf

    Some other non-BBC docs are…

    In the Valley of the Wolves
    http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=In_the_Valley_of_the_Wolves

    Wolf Pack
    http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Wolf_Pack

    Great one on the evolution of bears…use to be small with long tails and lived in trees.

    National Geographic – Evolutions (2008)
    http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Evolutions

    There is at least one “torrent” link on each one of the above pages. You only need a bit-torrent program to download. I like uTorrent. I have a networked blu-ray player that will play divx, Xvid, avi, mp4, and mkv files on my HDTV so I watch these nice documentaries on my HDTV. I just download them onto my hard drive and can access them with the remote control for my LG blu-ray player. You do not need to network but networking DVD players are becoming common. You can also burn them onto a re-writable CD or DVD or onto a thumb drive. Not all are in HD but nearly all of the new ones are. Many mkv files are of a higher quality than what I get over my AT&T fiber optic U-Verse service.

    There are tons of great BBC documentaries out there on wildlife, geology, life science, Yellowstone, Natural History you name it.

    If anyone is interested, I will write a little more about downloading and watching videos. Many are perfectly legal to download and watch.

    • pointswest Says:

      Wow…I didn;t notice this. The wiki article for the BBC Yellowstone Series that aired in the UK says, ” the series was the [BBC channel 2’s] highest-rated natural history documentary in over five years with audiences peaking at over four million.”

      This gives us some idea of how important Yellowstone is to Europe and the rest of the world. The local yokels around the Park probably do not know what they are dealing with when they act like they could careless about what outside folk think of wildlife in the GYE.

      I read elsewhere this BBC Yellowstone series was picked up and broadcast all over Europe, Asia, and South America.

  5. Richard Gillard Says:

    I was watching a program on TV about re-wilding Montana. I heard that horses are dying of starvation because there is no predator to control their numbers. I also heard that there is talk of releasing lions on to the plains of Montana to do this job. I think this would be a mistake. There are other predators which would surely do a better job.

    To begin with, I would have thought a pack of wolves could bring down a horse. If wolves and bison were released on to the plains the eco system would be restored to the state it was in before European settlers started to destroy it. I am a European myself. Nevertheless I think our colonising instincts have a lot to answer for. Also, what about puma? Can a puma not bring down a horse?

    Furthermore, if one must colonise with a predator from another eco system, why use lions? Why not tigers? Tigers are dying out in their native habitat. If you are going to introduce a foreign predator why not tigers? Apart from anything else, they live and hunt alone. You would not need a whole pride of them. Bearing in mind that whatever predator you introduce is going to meet with human beings from time to time, would it not be preferable to be confronted with a single tiger than a whole pride of lions?

    Tigers are also very beautiful creatures. If people are occassionally going to have to tolerate their adrenalin levels going through the roof because they have had a close encounter with a big cat, they could at least have the pleasure of knowing that close encounter was with a very rare and rather beautiful big cat!

    • Elk275 Says:

      Please, think before you write and understand what you read. If you do not understand what you read ask questions and investigate.

      • Nancy Says:

        Elk, thats a gentle way of putting it but I’d really want to know where Richard G got THAT information.

    • Phil Says:

      Richard: First; no matter how many lions you put in the plains of the northwest region it will significantly decrease within the first 2-3 years (or even longer) due to the fact that the lion body system can not withstand the harsh winters in the region. Lions do not have a insulated body to keep them warm from the cold. Yes, the lions would eventually adapt to the cold with generations of offspring bearing, but this would be a long-term solution. Second; eventually if lions do adapt to the cold climates (and that is a if), then this would make them an invasive species that would harm populations of other species, especially the wolves which would be a major competitor to the lions. If tigers were brought in to help maintain a sustainable horse population, then their population in the region may not do so well due to competition from wolves. And, what would the cougar population be like with the presence of tigers? How about the elk population with another apex predator now in the area? Yes, Amur tigers would be able to survive in the NRM region because they have a dense fur system with multiple layers to heavily insulate their bodies, but other sub-species of tigers would not be able to.

      With all this said, they have actually introduced a few tigers in Africa within the past decade which has gone pretty well. I first learned this by watching a special on AP regarding tigers that was hosted by Dave Salmoni. I began to read the introduction of the tigers in a game reserve in Africa from many sources and had learned that they took in an orphaned lioness cub. I am not quite sure how and/or why the adoption of the cub came about, but it may have been because they did not have a full understanding of what lions were, or how they affected them at the time. Without the full understanding they did not see the lioness (especially being a cub) as competition. This was right around the time period the two tigers had their first liter (two males). The reason why the tigers were introduced in Africa was due to the prime problems the species was having in Asia. At the time they believed that Africa was a safer haven for a new tiger population to sprout then it was in Asia.

    • Ken Cole Says:

      I don’t think they were talking about lions in the sense that they meant African lions. I’m guessing they meant mountain lions, also called puma, cougar or panther in the U.S.

      • Richard Gillard Says:

        No. They were talking about lions. The program also mentioned a separate project to release cougars / pumas / panthers in Florida. However, someone was suggesting that just as lions hunt Zebra in Africa they might hunt horses in Montana.

  6. Richard Gillard Says:

    I got that information from a documentary aired this evening on British TV on a channel known as BBC 2.

  7. Phil Says:

    Sorry, I meant to say “Richard: First; no matter how many lions you put in the plains of the northwest region it will significantly decrease their population within the first 2-3 years (or even longer) due to the fact that the lion’s body system can not withstand the harsh winters in the region.”

  8. Richard Gillard Says:

    Since it seems BBC iplayer will not work in the USA here is a brief synopsis of the program:

    Across the world scientists are releasing predators, nature’s ultimate killers, close to where people live.

    In Florida, a new population of panthers, feared as ambush predators, have been released near to the busy town of Naples. In the Italian Alps, bears have been reintroduced after they became virtually extinct, and now try to get into people’s homes in the middle of the night.

    And in Yellowstone National Park, wolves have been brought back 70 years after they were exterminated.

    Horizon meets the scientists behind this radical scheme, and the people who now have to share their backyards with these dangerous predators.

    It was produced and directed by a gentleman named: Nick Clarke Powell.

    Incindentally. I did not say I thought it would be a good idea to introduce lions to Montana. I think it would be a very bad idea to inroduce lions to Montana.

  9. Phil Says:

    Richard: It did work. It was an interesting article that seemed like it was showing both the positives and negatives. The negatives will almost always come in the form of humans and predators, and the positives come within nature and predators. I have never been to Florida, and have no experience with the Florida Panther, but as mentioned in the article, I am a strong believer that apex predators are very vidal to ecosystems in restoring its natural aspects. Thanks for posting the site.

  10. Elk275 Says:

    Richard

    ++I heard that horses are dying of starvation because there is no predator to control their numbers.++

    Those are registered quarter horses that belong to Jim Leachman who is now Bankrupt and his ranch was sold to satisfy the lien holder, last summer. He currently has a one year redemption period to reclaim the ranch. There is a dispute whether he has the right to maintain livestock on the land with the purchasers of the property, even though he has a one year right of redemption. There are about 750 registered horses involved and most of the them are unbroken. Matching the registration papers to an individual horse is all but impossible. In today economics, horses have little value even the ones with good breeding.

    Exactly, why he had that number of horses has those who new him wondering. There is nothing better to allow horses in the winter to run loose in a large pasture with a water source foraging for grass. The animal develops there natural sense of freedom and maintaining good muscle tone. The problem was that 750 horses were to many for the pasture size and he had no money to purchase additional feed. This winter has been more difficult than past winters and livestock owners have had to purchase additional feed. Fortunately, last summer was one of the best hay crops in years and the price of hay was below what it cost to produce it until the winter extended itself.

    Your lions and tigers and not the answer. Come spring the horses will be rounded up, sorted and sold.

  11. Phil Says:

    Elk: I don’t believe it was Richard’s plan to introduce lions and tigers to the Montana area. He clearly stated that he did not believe it would be a good idea to introduce lions there and gave a slightly better (in his mind) reason for tigers. I have stated this before, but I have an overwhelming respect for the two species, but it would not be beneficial for the native species to put lions and tigers in an unfamiliar ecosystem. It would also not be beneficial for the lions and tigers because of the damage they may cause as having that invasive role which would have people signing petitions to hunt on them.

    Elk: I have read that the wild horse population has been declining and is at a level of around 5,000. What do experts that you know of say is a viable horse population?

    • william huard Says:

      I don’t think people can stand much more sniveling and whining from ranchers and some of the more crazed hunters. But hey, maybe wolves and coyotes could shift some of the scapegoating, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind sharing all the misinformation with other predators

      • Elk275 Says:

        William

        I think that only a few can stand your sniveling and chatter. Get over it, the land has patented, fenced, tilled and put into production. You and many others on this forum dislike the private ownership of large tracts of western land.

      • william huard Says:

        Elk 275
        I feel sorry for any animal that has the unfortunate bad luck to be anywhere near you. You think your views are mainstream american views and they are not. In the land of visonaries like MR Brenden and MR Read maybe

      • Elk275 Says:

        William

        I have never hurt an animal in my life, yes I have hunted and killed animals.

        Get a bit specfic on my views that are not main stream American. Is the statement below what you are referring to.

        ++Get over it, the land has patented, fenced, tilled and put into production. You and many others on this forum dislike the private ownership of large tracts of western land.++

        If this is what you are talking about then your views are not main stream America. Americans have to right to private property whether real or chattle or intellectual.

      • william huard Says:

        Elk 275
        Where do you get the idea that I dislike private ownership of land in the west or any other place?
        My issue with your views has to do with your callous utilitarian stance with animals. Maybe the way you grew up taught you that animals are here to serve humans and that’s why maybe you treat all animals like livestock. I don’t see any empathy in you at all regarding animals. That was confirmed to me when you said your horse that had served you for years was not worth paying the final expense to be put down and would be sent to slaughter.
        Your recent comment about street dogs and having sticks and rocks with you further illustrates my point. One of my cats was a feral outdoor cat who is FIV positive. I rescued him from the streets after months and months of trying to gain his trust. He has turned out to be the best pet I have ever had. You can do what you want just remember not everyone looks at animals like objects. I don’t know what the private ownership land issue has to do with anything

      • WM Says:

        William,

        I gather you have never had to put a large animal down (horse, cow, burro). All lives come to an end, and for a horse in the end it is sometimes not pretty (I know because as a kid I had two that grew too old and were suffering in the cold of winter and had to be put down). If you chemically euthenize the animal it cannot be used for food purposes, it is my undstanding. You also have to dispose of the carcass, unless you get someone to haul it away. We didn’t have a tractor with an excavator shovel, so that meant digging it by hand. A hole dug and backfilled for a large dead horse is not an easy task in the dead of winter or a hot summer day (not to be gross, just saying). It also makes one think about life for the time you are doing it.

        An animal taken to slaughter is dispatched (I always hope) in a humane way and can be recycled, either in the form of food for other animals or use in soil amendments.

        And lest you think some of us are not compassionate, in our household all our pets for the past twenty years are rescue animals (at present 1 golden retriever and 2 cats). And I put down my other golden three years ago, at the age of 17, one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life, except caring for my father in his last days in a Hospice setting seven weeks ago.

      • jon Says:

        17 years old is pretty old for a golden. How much did he weigh wm? Did he have any hip or joint problems?

      • Elk275 Says:

        ++Your recent comment about street dogs and having sticks and rocks with you further illustrates my point.++

        You do not understand nor have you spent the years overseas like I have. When I was in Bali and other counties there were times with so many vicious feral dogs that they were very dangerous. The dogs were diseased and ill tempered and several times I was threaten. The native boys throw rocks and sticks at the dogs and they quickly retreated; I quickly learned to do the same. If one was to be bit what then? Infection would quickly set in, quality medical care and antibiotics would be needed. Then rabies shots would be needed. There goes your journey. I have learned that the best first aid is prevention. If I have to throw a rock or stick at a dog to avoid being bitten in a third world country, so be it. I am going to start carrying pepper spray. Chile has one of the worst dog situation in the world, too. Animal bites overseas are serious stuff.

        By the way, I do not ride horse back outside of the US or Canada. I was bucked very bad in Mongolia. The only reason I was not hurt is because I knew what I was doing. Any other person would have been seriously hurt; my advise to anyone is never to ride horses outside the US or Canada.

        I am tried and WM just accentuated what I want to say about putting horses down. Night, Night

      • william huard Says:

        WM
        My comments about compassion (or lack of) was directed toward ELK 275 not you. Obviously the way you spoke about your animals shows that you have experienced the joy of having animals around you and your family. I have put down 3 horses in my lifetime, and it is my belief that when you have a pet you pay the final expenses out of respect for that animal. To subject that animal to “humane slaughter” to make a profit or whatever is not something that I can comprehend

      • william huard Says:

        WM
        I’m sorry for the loss of your father. I lost mine last July. It’s true we never really know when it’s our time. I collect music on ebay, and last week one of my favorite vendors died from pancreatic cancer in England. I didn’t even know what to say to Pauline’s husband I was in such shock when he told me she had passed away

      • Elk275 Says:

        William

        ++I have put down 3 horses in my lifetime, and it is my belief that when you have a pet you pay the final expenses out of respect for that animal. To subject that animal to “humane slaughter” to make a profit or whatever is not something that I can comprehend++

        William you have had your experiences and I have had mind. There are different ways one deals with things in life.. To me when a horse is old it is easier to send it through the ring than have it died in the pasture and have the rendering plant pick it up. I respect the way you do it, yet you will never respect the way I do it. We always respected our animals and I never saw anything cruel or any mistreatment ever on any animal the family owned. Let’s leave it at that.

      • william huard Says:

        OK ELK- we’ll move on to the next debate……

    • JB Says:

      Phil:

      Which wild horse population are you talking about? Currently the wild horse and burro population on public lands managed by the BLM is well over estimated carrying capacity (if memory serves, it is around 38,000), with many thousands more housed in private facilities in the plains states. I would encourage you to read up on some of the issues associated with wild horses. Here is a policy statement produced by the Wildlife Society:

      http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/positionstatements/feral_horses_draft.pdf

      • Salle Says:

        However, these past several years the BLM and other land management agencies have consistently been leasing more and more of their habitat ~ that being a major decrease in available habitat ~ which creates a drastic decrease in the amount of land they can use. The question of carrying capacity for wild horses presents us with yet another of those anti-environmental self fulfilling prophecies we are seeing so much of lately. It was a calculated ruse with plenty of smokescreen included. It’s happening all over the west, not much information and little explanation as to the real cause of the problem which ultimately translates to public land grabs ~ which translate to wild horses now allegedly overextending the carrying capacity of the range they inhabit… If you continue to chip away at the available habitat of course there will be a question of carrying capacity as is so for any species. Now we are facing the fulfillment of those prophecies created to serve as the rationale for the continued land grabs for profit.

      • JB Says:

        Salle:

        You lost me there? When calculating carrying capacity for wild horses the BLM also must account for livestock and wildlife (as mandated by their enabling legislation). They also have been shipping horses that they can’t adopt (which is really a give-away at this point) to facilities in the plains and Midwest, at significant cost to the U.S. taxpayer.

        Personally, I view wild/feral horses a lot like livestock–they are a non-native species that has generally detrimental impacts on the landscape. I think livestock producers and wild horse advocates should have to pay for these animals if they want them grazing on federal public lands (and yes, more than $1.35/AUM).

      • jon Says:

        JB, do you personally think livestock cause more damage to the landscape than wolves?

      • JB Says:

        Jon: I assume you meant to ask if wild horses are more damaging than livestock?

        To be honest (and probably overly philosophical), I don’t like the term “damage”..it is too subjective. Both species change the landscape in ways that people (especially ecologists) find detrimental (i.e., damage). Others may disagree with this interpretation.

        Suffice it to say that my personal view is that we should favor native species over exotic species on federal public lands.

      • Elk275 Says:

        JB

        I agree 99%, but the of 1% is that 99% of them should be removed.

      • Phil Says:

        JB: I can’t remember the article, and I have no experience with wild horses, but now that you mention it, I believe it was the wild horse populatin in Wyoming.

    • WM Says:

      Phil,

      ++I have read that the wild horse population has been declining and is at a level of around 5,000.++

      I don’t what you have been reading, or what you are on when you are, but you are an order of magnitude off on your knowledge, this time with the wild horses/burro issue.

      In actuality, as JB says below they number about 38-40,000 on BLM lands alone, with a minimum of another of 12,000 on the Yakima Indian Reservation in WA, and who knows how many on other Tribal lands (maybe as many as an additional 25-50,000, but I have not been able to find good data and no desire to research it). There are yet even other horses past their useful life, but some times get turned on open range to end their days, that may otherwise need a humane end to life (some might disagree about this, however).

      A recent Wall St. Jnl. article (Jan 5, 2011), which focuses on the need to humanely slaughter this out of control and growing population after animal rights groups were successful in stopping humane slaughter in the US, and export to Mexico and Canada. Those in holding pens are costing the American taxpayer upwards of $37 million for BLM animals alone. Those running wild on BLM or tribal lands are having adverse impacts on range land, displacing native mammal carrying capacity and who knows what other huge “damages”:

      “In 2006, just 11,080 U.S. horses were shipped to Mexico for slaughter. In 2008, after the American industry shut down, that number jumped to 57,017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703808704576062064022541024.html

      In line with my comments an earlier thread, Phil, you just don’t have your facts straight, sport. Do a little research before you run off at the mouth. It creates a better conversation.

      Oh, and horses/burros, as an introduced wild species never really had a natural predator, at least since they have been domesticated over the last however many hundreds of years we have used them as beasts of burden. I don’t know much about mountain lions, but for certain they will take a colt, but a mare and a herd stud are not much worry, and both, it is my understanding will protect the colt, possibly more effectively than, an ungulate of any type might be able to protect its young. Not sure how horses would fare with wolves, or whether this has ever been studied.

      • Phil Says:

        WM: I sure as hell am not on the bias stuff you pull out with your politician comments. You mainly attack people who are strongly on the oppositional spectrum of belief on issues to that of yours, like myself, jon and william. I do not believe in hunting, and you are a hunter, so you target attacks on myself for this. You are nothing more then a politician. I understand that there is a value in wildlife in correlation to taxpayer’s dollars, but you try to make it sound like this is the only entity of wildlife. To me if you live in this country you have to pay taxes related to many issues like this one. It is what it is. When JB responded to my comment it reminded me that it was not a population as a whole, but one possibly in Wyoming, as indicated in a response of mine earlier today. Your backlash on animal rights groups comes in the form of a typical hunter. I do not share your opinions and find them kind of entertaining that you would rely on the Wall Street Journal in retrieving facts of wild horses and not from scientists. Once again WM, I do not have any facts on a topic such as this, I merely stated I read it somewhere, but you took something I stated out of context and rearranged it to fnd a gap in my comment to attack on. You can continue to use your political scheme in trying to control a forum, but it will fall short.

        P.S. WM: You should reread your last two comments posted directly to me, because they lack the “English structure/grammar” you bitterly complain I do not have. Ex; “…In line with my comments an earlier thread, Phil,…” Plain and simple, wm, you don’t like what I have to say, then don’t read it.

      • WM Says:

        Phil,

        You do have a point on my grammar, and I needed the reminder. I sometimes get a bit sloppy, when my brain gets ahead of my typing fingers. My admonitions are mostly about your “facts,” or lack thereof and your repetitive pontification as if you do so from a position of knowledge (which you surely do not possess and continually self-prove the point).

        As for animal rights advocacy, you are correct. I am critical. Some of you folks live in your little world so preoccupied with “protecting certain species,” that you avoid the discussion of the real world conflicts that arise between animals and humans co-existing on the landscape. That has typically been my beef with you and my other chattering compadre “jon.” It has to do with intransigence, and that “I want what I want, and will not compromise,” attitude, no matter how absurd and indefensible the position.

        I guess it is ok for you to take shot after shot (forgive the pun) at hunters, wildlife resource management professionals, policy makers, and disregard the views of moderates trying to find solutions to complex problems. But, when you get a little push back it upsets you, and you come unravelled.

        If you just qualified your facts a bit, I might be a happier camper. And, of course, if you don’t like my comments, you can pass them over, as well. I don’t think you know my politics very well. And, I don’t think I am the only one who has been critical of some of your, “same neighborhood, different planet,” type posts.

  12. Phil Says:

    Elk: 99% of the wild horses, or livestock?

    • Elk275 Says:

      99% of wild horses. I have no use for feral pigs, goats, cows or horses.

      • Elk275 Says:

        Let’s include cats and dogs. If you have ever been overseas in some third world counties their hundreds of feral dogs loose, if one would be bitten that means going home and rabies shots, not fun.

        I remember Bali, there were the most mangy and diseased dogs running loose everywhere. I always had rocks and sticks with me.

      • Phil Says:

        Elk: It doesn’t matter if you have use for them, it matters what’s best for te ecosystem.

  13. Phil Says:

    JB and jon: The first article below relates to the article you posted on here JB, and the other talks about the problems facing wild horses and the way they are managed.
    http://www.fort.usgs.gov/WildHorsePopulations/
    http://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/craig-downer-appeals-to-national-wild-horse-and-burro-advisory-board/

  14. Phil Says:

    JB: So, what you are saying is that there are no native wild horses to the Northwest region of the country?

    • Elk275 Says:

      All wild horses are domestic horses gone wild or turned loose at one time. Wild horses consume forage that should support native wildlife.

      • Nancy Says:

        But that’s not really the issue here is it Elk? Wild horses consume forage better put to use by domesticated livestock on public lands if what I’ve been reading is corect?

      • jon Says:

        Wild horses consume forage that should support native wildlife. Can the same thing be said for non native livestock elk? I would bet that livestock causes more damage to the environment than wild horses.

      • REChizmar Says:

        BTW and off topic – Elk I was dead inaccurate in my recollection about the Fine for Bighorn baiting photographer – my BAD! Somehow jumbled $1K into $10K!! Thanks for correcting me.

    • JB Says:

      Elk is correct. The equine species native to N. America are all extinct. The wild horses that exist here today were originally introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s. They are/were non-native, domesticated species gone feral.

      Unlike Elk, I happen to love horses, dogs and cats. My dog spends 98% of her time indoors, the cats are 100% indoors (I am too lazy to ever own a horse). In my *opinion* our domestic animals have no place on federal public lands.

      • Phil Says:

        Yes, but the wild horses were introduced more then 500 years ago, so can they still be considered non-native? Same here JB. I do like horses and have cats and a dog, who are mainly indoor with the exception of my dog running around (supervised) outside.

      • JB Says:

        Phil: 500 years is the blink of an eye from an evolutionary perspective.

      • Elk275 Says:

        JB

        I did not say that I disliked horses, dogs or cats. When I was growing up we always had dogs and cats, some I like, some I did not like and several I wished could be cloned. I am not to lazy to own and care for a horse, I own a horse which will be soon sold and mule acquired . My mule training friend and mule broker is going back to Ohio next month and purchase four or five mules and one will be for me. I am looking forward to a good riding mule

        JB, the reason you do not own a horse is the expense and I question that everyday and so should hundreds of horse owners. I have a free place to pasture my horse, if I will purchase the winter hay for 2 other horses. It is expensive. What scares me is trailering horses down a snowy and icy November road in the Rocky Mountains.

      • jon Says:

        JB, the people who usually claim wild horses are non native are the ones that usually don’t want horses on the landscape. I’m sure you can imagine who these people are. Anytime a certain animal is not wanted by some, that animal is claimed to be non native. The same exact thing goes on with the reintroduced gray wolves.

      • jon Says:

        JB, what are the differences between the wild horses of today and the ones that were supposedly native that were wiped out?

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        jon,

        “wild” horses are clearly non-native. This questions to ask are 1. is the feral horse so different from its extinct North American prehistoric counterpart that its effects on rangelands are different; and 2. how much have long time feral horses (let’s say bands of 8-10 generations) changed physically (and so behaviorally) to adapt to the present environment?

      • jon Says:

        Ralph, is there any science that proves the wild horses today are non native? You have groups of people saying they are non-native and you have others saying they are native.

        http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html

        “The wild horse in the United States is generally labeled non-native by most federal and state agencies dealing with wildlife management, whose legal mandate is usually to protect native wildlife and prevent non-native species from having ecologically harmful effects. But the two key elements for defining an animal as a native species are where it originated and whether or not it coevolved with its habitat. E. caballus can lay claim to doing both in North America. So a good argument can be made that it, too, should enjoy protection as a form of native wildlife.”

      • jon Says:

        http://newsblaze.com/story/20090718172136zzzz.nb/topstory.html

        “The wild horse is as native and indigenous to North America as the Bengal tiger is to India or the lion is to Africa. The wild horse was born here in the region that was to be-come Idaho, Utah and Wyoming and fully evolved over a period of 52 million years. Approximately 10,000 years ago an unknown cataclysm wiped out the horse in North America along with numerous other species apparently including the saber-toothed tiger. But not before the horse had migrated across the Bering Strait Land Bridge and spread to the rest of the world. Then in the early sixteenth century the horse was re-introduced to his homeland by the Spanish Conquistadores.

        He became what is termed reintroduced native wildlife.

        The horse, therefore, by definition, is indigenous. And native.”

      • JB Says:

        Jon:

        The information you are quoting is not accurate. If you take a look at the link I posted above to the Wildlife Society’s position statement on wild horses, your questions will be answered. Here it is again:

        http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/positionstatements/feral_horses_draft.pdf

        You said: “…the people who usually claim wild horses are non native are the ones that usually don’t want horses on the landscape. I’m sure you can imagine who these people are.”

        You are painting with a pretty broad brush, Jon. But even if you are exactly correct, is their opposition to other species you favor a reason to disagree with them? Let me put this another way… Is it possible that someone you disagree with on one matter could be correct on another?

      • JB Says:

        Here is a fact sheet produced by the Wildlife Society–the scientific society that certifies wildlife biologists.

        http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/policy/feral_horses_1.pdf

    • WM Says:

      Do you see anywhere in this wild horse advocacy article proclaiming the possibility of “extinction in 11 years,” a solution to a growing number of wild horses on public lands if what little control efforts and expenditures are reduced, or additional deterioration of range conditions (other than pointing the rightful finger at livestock grazing)?

      One proposal which has been tauted in Indian Country is the establishment of humane slaughter houses to reduce the excess wild horse population and generate income for the tribes from honest work and selling horse meat to foreign and domestic markets (and actually doing something productive other than contributing to the growing number of gambling addicts at tribal casinos, for those tribes lucky enough to have them).

      • bret Says:

        The Yakima reservation has 12,000 horses and one of the concerns when they reintroduce speed goats was the degradation of habitat caused by the horses.
        As fuel prices continue to go up sending horses to Mexico or Canada will slow to a trickle. I seriously doubt wild horses face extinction any time soon

      • william huard Says:

        There’s no such thing- “humane slaughter house”. The Canadians said right up to and even after they lost the ability to sell their blood fur seal pelts in EU markets that seal harvesting is “humane”. People that have a profit motive to exploit animals throw the word humane around as if because they say it makes it true.

      • Elk275 Says:

        ++As fuel prices continue to go up sending horses to Mexico or Canada will slow to a trickle. I seriously doubt wild horses face extinction any time soon++

        You are wrong. As fuel prices go up more horses will be sent to Mexico or Canada. The price killer buyers pay for horses or mules will go down. The cost to pasture, feed and care for horses will go up and more people will have to dispose of their horses in a market that has little or no demand. It is happening today and will get worse.

        There will come a time when the kill buyers will paying nothing or the horse owner will pay the kill buyer to ship their horses to Mexico or Canada. It is not nice. There are to many horses and not enough people with the means, land and time to maintain their animals.

        Wild horses are different with government regulations, one will have to wait and see about wild horses.

      • Richard Gillard Says:

        To WM re: “actually doing something productive other than contributing to the growing number of gambling addicts at tribal casinos”

        I think it is a bit rich to talk about Native Americans in this way when their culture, their lives, their livelihood and their religion have been torn apart by European Settlers.

        It is we Europeans who have given the world a population crisis a resource exhaustion crisis, ridiculous levels of waste leading to the need for huge amounts on landfill and incineration and worst of all a climate crisis and global warming.

        If people were living as the Native Americans once lived 200 or 300 years ago we would not be facing problems like global warming and we would not be staring ecological disaster in the face.

      • WM Says:

        Richard,

        The reference to gambling addicts was to anyone – most addicts are non-Indian. Call it the red man’s revenge if you will. The other point is that, from what I have read and observed (been in a couple of casinos in WA, ID and MT for meals, but I don’t gamble), most of those who work in services in casinos are non-Indian. The tribal ownership take a few of the top executive spots, but those too are mostly non-Indians, like the COO and CFO, HVAC manager etc. The tribe divides the profits among members who just want the cash. Some casinos do provide jobs for members, and that is a good thing, but unemployment is still high on the rez, and pressure is high to distribute more and more casino profits to members rather than reinvest in the facility or do community projects that benefit tribal members. One very successful exception is the Jamestown Sk’allam tribe on the Olympic Peninsula. They have a very well run operation, based on a professional masterplan, and a carefully executed business plan. They have purchased golf courses in the area, employed professional managers and are doing a fantastic job for their members. However, their cash cow is the strategically located casino and the non-Indian gambling addicts who waste their days and nights at the computer gaming counters or card tables. What value to society is that?

        I have always thought some reservations would be great places to establish tribal manufacturing facilities for mainstream goods for sale off the reservation, where members could learn marketable skills. Reduced tax burdens for some of this are a great incentive.

        And, by the way, there are tribal casinos which are not making it financially, which means whoever holds debt on facilities may get stung. I predict closings of some of these in the next five years. Then what?

        As for Europeans causing the problems. Sure, there are lessons to be learned from all that. One alternative future, that few have thought about here when peeing on European heritage is that native Americans could all be using chop sticks and speaking Japanese or Chinese, and if those dominating fuedal conditions had been carried forward from eventually inevitable explorers from Asia, it is possible technology would not have advanced as far as it has, and the ownership class in America would be even smaller than it is. Europeans would just be climbing all over each other there, and maybe speaking German.

        Come to think of it timz cautioned earlier about a present fear we might all be speaking Chinese soon. I tend to agree that is a possiblity, though the probability today remains small, but is growing.

  15. Phil Says:

    JB: So, would that make African wild dogs non-native to Africa because they were reintroduced in the 1300-1400s? I guess what I am trying to say is that if there is no immediate damage and/or extinction to native species from non-native species, would that still classify them as non-native centuries after being introduced? A big problem in regards to non-native species is the damage in many different aspects to native species. After residing in a land for more then 500 years, how significant is (still) the damage they are causing now to that they caused when they were first introduced here?

    • JB Says:

      Phil:

      To my knowledge African wild dogs have only ever existed (in the wild) in Africa. They co-evolved with the fauna and flora of that continent and have never been domesticated. In contrast, the wild, feral horses living in the western US evolved with a different set of flora and fauna, were domesticated thousands of years ago (meaning they were selectively bred to suite human needs) and then were turned loose in North America ~500 years ago. I simply don’t see how you can compare the two?

  16. Phil Says:

    WM: And you are judging how much knowledge I possess on what I read from others? Well, how can you be seen in a serious manner when that is your holding point? I stated a comment on something I read about, and you are saying I have no knowledge on the topic because I read about it somewhere else? I did not state that these are my own findings, I stated I found them somewhere else, but I apologize that I do not have the “All mighty knowledge” that you believe you have.

    “Some of you folks live in your little world…” further illustrates your personal agenda against anyone and everyone who does not share your thoughts and beliefs. Sorry to say, but hunters are not the only people on this planet. If people chose to support saving the life of an animal from people who want to kill it (like yourself), then that is their perogative. You chose to hunt, so that is your perogative, and others chose to save the life of an individual, so that is theres. Honestly, wm, you are sounding more and more like Rockholm. It is not, in my opinion, the animal advocates people who do not see reality in the world of wildlife, it is people who have a self-imposed agenda that benefits their way of life who are blinded about wildlife. I support the conservation of not only species, but also individuals if it is best not for mankind, but for ecosystems, because the best ecosystems would eventually benefit mankind.

    wm: I have NEVER taken shot after shot at all hunters, just ones that do not understan wildlife but want to establish their role on it for the cause of their benefits. Yes, I have been critical on the hunting topic more often then not, but I have also defended it in some ways, but you only want to look at the “shots” I have taken on hunting so that you can pull off your political comments to reign dominance in the room.

    The problem is that your comments are directly related to me and not others, wm, so I would have to have a response. My comment that you responded to yesterday was in no way shape or form directed to you, it was for someone else, but you found it viable to “attack” because I am not similar in character to yourself. Again; I never stated I have facts on this issue, I stated that I have no experience working with wild horses, and I read it from a source. Also, doesn’t reading the Wall Street Journal (which should have nothing to do with wildlife) make you an “armchair” information gatherer.

    • WM Says:

      Phil,

      ++ doesn’t…. that make you an armchair information gatherer?++

      I was just looking quickly for some pretty basic facts, and as newspapers go, the WSJ does a better job than a very many others. For example they are heads above most of the ones we see cited regularly here from MT, WY and ID (but some individual reporters actually are pretty darn good on topics they have studied for awhile) . In fact, I cannot think of any other national general circulation newspaper that does better research than the WSJ, except maybe the NY Times or the Washington Post, on certain topics. I could have, used an IndianCountryToday.com article (and give you the Indian version) which actually quoted the WSJ, if you would have preferred. Here is the link (and I know something about the Yakama Res. and its natural resource problems, since I grew up near there. I think Bret, below references pronghorns that were released only two weeks ago, into a degraded range habitat created by 12,000 unwanted wild horses the tribe does not know what to do with).

      http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/01/tribes-consider-horse-processing-plant/

      The point here Phil, is that it sometimes good to let someone else’s words be the basis for your facts or argument, and it gives the reader the courtesy of being able to independently checking the facts, if possible. A reference can do it so much better and be more thorough.

      As for you comparing me to Rockhead, don’t even go there. You and he are so far on opposite fringes. Wolves, for example, I can live with and have advocated for the higher numbers in the approved plans (ID for example at about 500). The problem is at some point the numbers have to be controlled and managed with other wildlife objectives, and the longer the wait, the more likely the culling, harvest, management control or kill objective will need to be in a particular year. I think Ralph, and Ken will probably even agree with that. If, for example, no control is allowed until 2012 or 2013, when the NRM wolf population hits 2,500-2,800 because of court delayed state management and other things (and ID has as many as 1,100 or more it will truly be a blood bath to get down to the 500 or even the drastic 150 that was contemplated in the 1994 EIS).

  17. Phil Says:

    To satisfy wm, I DO NOT HAVE FACTS ON THIS, but in my opinion I would tend to believe that if a species has been around a certain area for 5 centuries, then it has planted its footprint and niche, and the native species and nature/ecosystem have adapted to the presence of the new species which would make it native.

  18. Phil Says:

    JB: I understand the regulations you are speaking of in including livestock horses in the population of wild horses, but why? The connection should not be there. Livestock horses are not wild in the sense that they belong to someone. Could this be the reason as to why many believe they are over the carrying capacity the ecosystem can maintain? They do not include the tigers in farms and as pets to the wild population, so why would anyone include livestock horses to the wild population?

  19. Richard Gillard Says:

    Getting back to those lions, the person putting forward the idea of releasing lions on to the great plains of America in a BBC TV Horizon documentary was one Professor Felisa A Smith, http://biology.unm.edu/fasmith/.

    I note she does not ever seem to have published any such nonsense, so perhaps she was just being mischevious, giving the documentary makers some wild and wacky speculation with which to end their documentary.

    With regard to another predator, the wolf, it appears that Yellowstone Park has benefitted from their re-introduction. They have stopped the over population of certain herbivores and as a result certain species of trees and shrubs are flourishing once more.


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