Mark Gamblin was wrong

Idaho Fish and Game regional supervisor’s comments on this blog proven wrong by events-

For about a year, the SE Idaho regional supervisor of Idaho Fish and Game Department, Mark Gamblin,  frequently commented on this blog. He was always polite even though some folks were not in their replies.  Of course, he laid out the position of the Department and he did not deviate.  Most significantly, he maintained that Idaho Fish and Game was capable, committed, and we could be assured the Department would provide balanced management of the restored wolf population in Idaho.

As for myself and many others who responded, our argument was that Idaho Fish and Game could not provide any assurance that this balanced management would take place.  The reason was not that they were untruthful in their claims.  The reason was that the department was politically weak and so it could, and would, be overridden by the Idaho state legislature, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and maybe the governor.

This is not to crow, but just to point out that we were right.  Governor Otter abandoned state wolf management completely in hopes of federal legislation that would be harmful to the maintenance of the recovered wolf population. The Fish and Game Department’s wolf management team was abolished and the people involved assigned to other duties.

After thousands of words written here, it is important to state that this argument has been settled.

30 Responses to “Mark Gamblin was wrong”

  1. Craig Says:

    For about a year, the SE Idaho regional supervisor of Idaho Fish and Game Department, Mark Gamblin, frequently commented on this blog. He was always polite even though some folks were not in their replies. Of course, he laid out the position of the Department and he did not deviate. Most significantly, he maintained that Idaho Fish and Game was capable, committed, and we could be assured the Department would provide balanced management of the restored wolf population in Idaho.

    I don’t know if you are referring to just the Hunting season or overall management? But 1 year is not enough to show any results of a hunting season and the impact on Wolf populations. I think with the set limits on different zones the did a good job of balancing them without to much excess. JMO

  2. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Craig,

    I wasn’t referring to the hunting season, but to the overall commitments of ID Fish and Game to wolf management. Folks will argue how good a job they did, but I am saying that regardless, and as predicted, more powerful political forces in the state (Butch Otter) overrode them . . . well, actually cut them off of wolf management completely . . . so it was impossible for them to keep any promises. The Dept. lacked the power to keep their promises despite the best intentions.

  3. Ken Cole Says:

    Well said Ralph. I feel a little different about whether we should be crowing or not though.

    We’ve been saying this for a long time and it should be noted that if wolves are ever delisted, without legislation, that the IDFG management plan won’t be worth the paper it is written on. The legislature will quickly interfere and will demand that there be only the minimum number of wolves identified in their plan which could drop to as low as 100 in Idaho before ESA relisting is triggered.

    One thing for those anti-wolf folks to consider is the fact that if wolves are ever relisted, after a successful delisting, they would no longer be considered experimental nonessential and have full ESA protection. So to continue down the road of extreme reactionary politics is down a path that will have the exact opposite effect.

    In effect Otter has handed the keys to the car back to someone who doesn’t want to go where he wants to go. The USFWS doesn’t share the same priorities as he does and is not going to pursue the goal of population reduction.

    I don’t think we can really predict how the USFWS is going to manage wolves in Idaho but I have heard that things are being managed at much higher levels than Ed Bangs and that he has been kept out of things. I do think that the information will flow a little more freely however.

    Also, I’m not sure how the Nez Perce Tribe will fit in to this. I’ve heard that meetings have been planned but not sure if any decisions have been made. I would guess that they don’t want as much responsibility as they had before because of the hot politics but who knows? There is a lot that is unknown.

    • Dude, the bagman Says:

      “One thing for those anti-wolf folks to consider is the fact that if wolves are ever relisted, after a successful delisting, they would no longer be considered experimental nonessential and have full ESA protection.”

      “The legislature will quickly interfere and will demand that there be only the minimum number of wolves identified in their plan which could drop to as low as 100 in Idaho before ESA relisting is triggered. ”

      Ken, I’m a little confused about this issue. As I read 10j, it requires that nonessential experimental wolves have to be geographically and genetically separate.

      1. Genetically separate because the offspring of a 10j population has to “arise solely” from wolves within the 10j population.
      2. Geographically separate because a population is only nonessential experimental “at such times as the population is wholly separate geographically from nonexperimental populations of the same species.”

      Since recent studies have shown genetic flow between the non-10j MT population and the ID and GYA 10j populations, couldn’t another lawsuit eliminate the 10j designation? Or use the population estimates at the time this study was undertaken as a scientifically valid (and therefore legally valid) baseline for wolf population numbers after delisting?

      This would assume that the law (as I understand it) is faithfully applied. All that separates these populations now is I-90, political convenience, and our imaginations.

      Not trying to hijack this thread, but I was hoping I could tap into some of the collective knowledge available here.

  4. william huard Says:

    The depredation numbers in Montana and Wyoming are very low. I am hoping the hysteria calms down. The Mexican wolf population seems to me to be the population that faces the greatest risk right now. It is hard to get a feel as to how they will proceed with that management plan.

  5. WM Says:

    Was Mark Gamblin “wrong,” or did legal, and hence state circumstances change as a result of wolf advocacy litigation and Judge Molloy’s narrow ruling on August 5? The adequacy of plans and the ability of ID and MT to manage under them were not addressed, only the technicality of whether a DPS could be broken up for delisting purposes under the law.

    In the meantime, ID (and MT) cannot manage under the terms of their approved plans, wolves multiply beyond generally agreed numbers, allegedly affecting other wildlife management objectives, like ungulate populations in key management units. The state is rightfully indignant about that.

    Even a handoff to the Nez Perce as the “designated agent” or management agency during relisting is not going to quell the state indignation issue.

    Changed political circumstances can and probably should result in modfications to agency positions. Afterall, are agencies not merely extensions of the executive branch of government, and the legislatures which create and fund them?

    Again, be careful what you wish for. The possibility of changes to the ESA, including a complete carve out for NRM wolves, are more likely than a month ago, when some here predicted it would never happen.

    And, are some not remember the language of the ESA which says, “……..in cooperation with states….”?

    • Ken Cole Says:

      “Even a handoff to the Nez Perce as the “designated agent” or management agency during relisting is not going to quell the state indignation issue.”

      You are right. But giving up entirely isn’t going to do that either and that is just what they have done.

    • JimT Says:

      STILL predicting it won’t happen unless the Republicans use the appropriations hijacking strategy. Tom Udall is on the key committee in the Senate and a strong advocate for wolves in his own state. ESA is a third rail for most of the country, even if some folks here doubt people’s interest. Animals capture interest.

      Besides, the House Republicans will be too busy in their attempt to repeal health care reforms, roll back financial industry oversight regulations, hold impeachment hearings on Obama (hopefully just a campaign windbag type of statement)

      If you think agencies are merely echoers of the executive b branch or the legislative branch, I have a bridge for sale…:*) Agencies have basically become a fiefdom of their own with the deference to agency expertise standard the courts have been using on APA issues. I have long advocated for a review and change of the APA, but doubt that is on anyone’s priority list..LOL.

      You seem to want to cast the states of Idaho and Montana as poor victims of the system here. Really? They have to play by the law’s provisions just like anyone else, and they and USFWS screwed up, and are still screwing up with this “take my ball and go home” posturing. They need to act like adults, come back and TALK reasonably, not just from the perspective of elk lovers and ranchers.

      • Ken Cole Says:

        I tend to agree with your assessment on changes to the ESA. I don’t think it will happen either.

        What will happen when the 10j rule change is overturned? It will be interesting to see how the states deal with having to show that wolves are the PRIMARY cause of ungulate population declines. As it stands now, habitat issues can be blamed on wolves and not be addressed.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        I don’t think folks have a full understanding of the radicalism* of a good part of the Republican House Caucus. There are about 60 new tea partiers elected in addition to an already large group of people dead set against almost every environmental law, and most other regulatory laws as well.

        These are probably the most extreme people ever elected in large numbers to the Congress in American history.

        Jack Barton of Texas now chairs the committee that oversees oil and gas. Recall how he apologized to BP during the Gulf Oil rig blowout about how much trouble the government was causing the poor oil company.
        – – – – –
        * the proper name is “reactionary,” not “radical.”

      • Cody Coyote Says:

        Isn’t it a paradox that even in my own lifetime, the polarity of environmental politics has totally reversed. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s when the Great Acts were passed — ESA (1973) , Clean Water (1976-77), Clean Air (1963) , creation of NEPA ( 1969), Wilderness Act of 1964, Wild & Scenic Rivers Act ( 1968) they were more wholeheartedly supported by Nixon-Ford Republicans and disdained by the Dems. The Republicans were in favor of more conservation in the Teddy Roosevelt mold ; the Dems feared blue collar job losses as a consequences of environmental protections and policies.

        It took a horrendously pro-industry Secretary of the Interior, James Gaius Watt , on one hand , and the increasing power plays of corporations and Wall Street during the Reagan years to shape the transformation of the American environmental movement from a Republican birth to a Democratic adulthood, politically . Of course external to Washington D.C. and the statehouses, the public was getting educated and tuned into the necessity of checking the plunder of extractive industries globally, thanks to some debacles like Love Canal and Three Mile Island , a progressive California , and a suddenly attentive news media. Too bad it didn’t last. Congress and the Republicans and their industry lobbyists pretty much submarined the environmental movement with fusillades of money smartbombs.

        With only a few exceptions, by the time Bush-Cheney took office the battery cables of the environmental law movement had been completely reversed. The results of the recent election and the duplicity of Ken Salazar’s DOI tell me they will be staying reversed for the forseeable … the paradox has become the norm.

      • WM Says:

        ++If you think agencies are merely echoers of the executive b branch or the legislative branch, I have a bridge for sale…:*) Agencies have basically become a fiefdom of their own with the deference to agency expertise standard the courts have been using on APA issues. ++

        No, that was not quite what I was implying, but theoretically that is the way it is supposed to work. But, agency continuity also dampens, to some degree, the pendelum swings as each party or elected personality (important distinction) takes over and runs the executive branch. Here the issue went all the way to the top – Butch made the decision, and I am guessing that is unusual, except ID is a small state, and it was an election year as a “hot button.” for R’s.

        As I have said before in conversations with you on this very forum (and I think we are in agreement), agencies are often creatures of their own, with policy sometimes emerging from deep within the bowels (at the hands of career bureaucrats with their own agendas), and then coming out its mouth. Often this uncontrolled bile is vomited out to the dismay and even contrary to the instructions of appointed agency heads. Doesn’t matter which party is in control.

        —-

        I don’t know what will happen with ESA coming closer to being on the table (and still maintain a fairly strong belief it does not yet have traction). The absurdity of the DPS “technical issues,” apparent gaps in the institutional structure components that are currently being played out certainly do increase the focus on problems with interpretation of the ESA.

        And, now the states have pretty good stories to tell about complying with what they were told was the law by FWS, even going back as far as 1987, and the preparation of the EIS in 1994 (I recommend you actually read it, JimT, before coming off like an expert on the issue of reintroduction – and the marketing of non-essential experimental wolves in the NRM with built in “flexibility” in management. FWS (or was it just Jamie R, who lied?) convinced the states and the public this flexibility would be part of the reintroduction. Then there is the “numbers” issue which seems to have captured the attention of the states (which lawyers as you know call misrepresentation or fraud in the inducement) even though the “best science” discussion was buried deep within an appendix to the EIS and not really discussed in the body of the EIS. Seems to me all this is pretty important stuff.

        _____________

        Yeah, ID is being childish, but that is what some politicians are known for. Butch went beyond rattling the sabre. Now he has become indignant, threw a temper tantrum, and said I’m not playing with you anymore. This is all calculated to see if draws attention. Just speculation on my part, but this could change back to ID in a management role as quickly as it was withdrawn. I don’t think Butch closed the door completely.

      • JimT Says:

        It remains a big unknown at this time just how much of an effect the Tea Kettle folks will have on the GOP agenda. I don’t see first time folks being given plum committee assignments. I think the GOP is like any other old time powerful established entity..it tends to like things it knows to things it doesn’t.

        I still think this election was fundamentally about fear (loss of jobs, loss of house, spouse, future), and anger at this economy and needing someone to blame…in this case the sitting Dems. The conservatives of every stripe did a masterful job of fanning those fears and anxieties and anger into a fever pitch, not hesitating to use racism-tinged appeals, jingoistic concerns, or 50s style red-baiting. They have always been great in my lifetime for two things…telling you to be afraid, and telling you who to blame for it. Not so great for proactive, positive solutions to problems. Same old tired rhetoric is repackaged for the Internet age.

        I read Nicholas Kristoff’s column today in the Times, and the data on this approach by the Republicans to keep all the tax cuts permanent is just adding gasoline to the fire. They can’t cut enough out of the Federal Budget’s discretionary spending to even make a dent. Even David Stockman, darling of the trickle down, no tax Republcans, thinks they are crazy. Yet, it plays well to the rank and file.

        If both parties were telling the truth, they would say we need to get rid of the tax cuts, maybe not all at once, but we also need to have money in the economy. That either comes from the banks or the Feds. So far, the banks and the corporations are sitting on billions of dollars, not putting it back in the economy. So, how is this so called Agenda for America going to work when it is doomed from the start?

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        I think the GOP will try to coopt the Tea Party. They do not perceive them as being a help to the Party, but rather the reason they didn’t win the Senate.

        Nevertheless, the Tea Party radicalized their base, so they can’t blow them off. It has to be done carefully.

      • Brian Ertz Says:

        the DPS argument is not a trivial technicality but has widespread biologically tangible implications for any number of recovery efforts.

      • JB Says:

        Yes, the DPS issue is extremely important and, to some extent, overlaps with the “significant portion of its range” issue. Getting down to brass tacks, what we’re talking about is what constitutes recovery of a species (again WM, read: http://www.conservationethics.org/CEG/res_esa_files/Vucetich%20et%20al%202006%20ESA.pdf).

        More problematic, from my perspective, is the very topic of this thread. What should the federal government do when state’s goals for an endangered species clearly conflict with federal goals? (Note: I am using the term “states” here to encompass policy makers; I am not referring to F&G agencies, which are responsible for implementation.) Again and again these states have sought to do everything in their power to limit the number and distribution of wolves–in direct opposition to the ESA and national interests in recovering endangered species. Even were the DPS “technicality” to be resolved tomorrow, wolf proponents could make a very strong case that wolves are threatened because the regulatory mechanisms set by the states are inadequate to ensure their continued persistence. All of the grandstanding by state politicians serves only to provide additional support for this position.

      • WM Says:

        Brian,

        {JB: Let me set aside your “significant portion of range” issue, which I generally and mostly agree with, but prepared this reply to Brian before seeing your post}

        If you are referring to my comment, I have not ever said the DPS provisions are “trivial.” To the contrary, they are extremely important biological concepts. And, the part that is at the heart of the current legal (and hence biological) debate is the management structure – who is responsible for managing parts of a DPS when it crosses state lines? In this case, a “non-essential experimental” population of gray wolves, with even more flexible management options (at least that is what the EIS on introduction says, and in which states are contemplated to have management authority upon recovery).

        This is not a new concept – managaing a resource or issue when it crosses state lines. It has been addressed in other federal envrionmental and health protection acts, for water and air. As you know, there are federal carve outs for migratory birds and bald eagles. But generally, each, contemplates roles for states, AND if they do not accept responsiblity the management function of the remaining states is not summarily pulled from those which still chose to play.

        There is a key difference in the ESA, because apparently, and according to Judge Molloy’s interpretation of the law, if one state won’t play (WY in this case) nobody else who has a geographic portion of a DPS gets to manage a species which is otherwise determined to be sufficiently recovered to have them delisted (recalling again that he did not address biological sufficiency of the ID and MT plans which are still viable claims in the current litigation before Molloy).

        Now, if one says states should not be managers of endangered species once they are off the ESA list for biological reasons, that is an entirely different matter, and raises other legal questions. It may even be contradictory to the purposes and intent of the act as currently written, as applied to the “….coordinate with states…. language, with the knowledge that the federal species is impacting private and state resources in the individual states (livestock and wild ungulate populations).

        This whole institutional DPS thing, is kind of like peeing on all the states with adopted wolf management plans, or those who are in the process of developing them. What happens if, WI says they don’t want to be Great Lakes wolf managers anymore. Does this stop delisting for MN and MI, if populations are otherwise viable for purposes of delisting?

        Am I wrong on this? How many times have I posed these issues, here and not yet gotten a definitive reply that keeps states in the roles contemplated and discussed in the NRM wolf recovery plan going back as far as the 1980’s, and the 1995 EIS, or says why they should not be under the law.

      • WM Says:

        Typo in comment to Brian above:

        “…..cooperation with states….,” not coordination

        Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics, and here is the text of the ESA that requires “cooperation,” with most eminating from Section 6 and specifically section:

        6 (b)MANAGEMENT AGREEMENTS.—The Secretary may enter into agreements with any State for the administration and management of any area established for the conservation of endangered species or threatened species.

        (the following subsections describe how that is to be implemented).

        JB,

        You and I do agree the problem is one of accountability to ensure states do not fall back on their promises and obligations. There are no asurances in the ESA, with no carrots or sticks as are in some other environmental laws – again a problem with the ESA that could be (but probably would not) be taken up shoud the law be revisited.

        So the only backup is to put state plans under the continuing review of a federal judge, Molloy and his successors in Missoula. This sort of thing happens all the time – judges keeping jurisdiction over an issue for many years. An example that comes to mind is Judge Redden’s supervision of the fish treaties and obligations of the tribes, states and BPA for administration of salmon on the Columbia River (US v. Oregon) since 1968.

      • JB Says:

        “How many times have I posed these issues, here and not yet gotten a definitive reply that keeps states in the roles contemplated and discussed in the NRM wolf recovery plan going back as far as the 1980′s, and the 1995 EIS, or says why they should not be under the law.”

        WM: Recall that while DPS language was pretty clearly conceptualized and discussed by Congress as a method for listing species, they never really thought through the implications for delisting. Moreover, DPS policy wasn’t even formally articulated by the FWS until 1996–after initial discussions and the original EIS for NRM wolves; in fact, after their reintroduction! How could FWS discuss the implications of the failure of one state to adhere to DPS policy when it hadn’t been formally articulated yet?

        And again, recall that all of this gets entwined with the SPR issue–both of which are about determining where and to what extent species are listed and recovered. The SPR issue did not emerge until the case of the flat-tailed horned Lizard, which was being heard in 2000 and was decided in 2001.

        Thus, all of the issues we are dealing with revolve around relatively new policy. Perhaps more importantly, these issues arise from “gray areas” in the law; that is, places where FWS has had to articulate a specific policy because Congress used terminology like “a significant portion of its range” and “distinct population segment” without formally defining these terms. Perhaps this is a flaw in the ESA, as you have suggested? However, it seems to me that FWS/NMFS are far better suited for determining such policy than Congress. I think wolves are a unique problem for this policy because (a) low population densities require regional coordination (i.e., each state is not its own unit), (b) wolves were once very widely distributed, and (c) besides being an “endangered” species, wolves are also sometimes a nuisance.

        One bright spot to consider: Hammering out these issues with wolves could open the door to other listing and recovery attempts for once widely-distributed species (e.g. bison, and your favorite, elk) that have had massive range restrictions in the conterminous US.

  6. Ralph Maughan Says:

    WM,

    From the beginning, we told Supervisor Gamblin that political circumstances were very likely to change and, therefore, he or his department could provide no guarantees because they would not be in control of events . . . and, as we predicted, they were not in control of events.

  7. JB Says:

    I very much appreciated Mark’s willingness to comment here, despite downright hostile comments by some people. I hope that he will continue to weigh in on other wildlife issues.

    – – – –

    WM asks: “…or did legal, and hence state circumstances change as a result of wolf advocacy litigation…”

    The state of Idaho has opposed wolves at every opportunity. They opposed reintroduction, opposed recovery, and demanded (legislatively) that every wolf be removed–multiple times. The politicians had nothing to lose by allowing IDF&G to put forth a plan; if delisting was successful then the state would have management authority and the legislature could begin mandating wolf decreases; if not, they would be able to make an even bigger political “stink” about wolves and rally the states’/property rights crowd. Wyoming and Utah are playing similar political “games” with this issue.

    I think IDF&G did a pretty solid job in a very tight spot. However, I agree with Ralph; I don’t think ~500 wolves would have stayed one day past the ESA’s mandatory 5-year monitoring period. The state allowed the agency to play along because it suited the purpose(s) of their politicians.

    • JimT Says:

      I am not sure one wolf would have survived….the states have lost ALL credibility with their actions since the re-listing. How in the hell will pro wolf advocates ever be able to take them at their word again?

  8. timz Says:

    many here were “downright hostile” not appreciating some F&G lackey coming in here spouting his crap thinking anyone here was actually foolish enough to believe a word he said.

    • JB Says:

      Yes, well there are lots of ways to disagree with someone that don’t involve open hostility. The easiest arguments to dismiss are those that come wrapped in emotion without any meaningful content, IMHO.

      • JimT Says:

        The rhetoric got a little heated at times, but when what you are seeing on the screen is “bureaucratic speak”, not addressing valid points raised in opposition to the IDFG’s statements, charts, and policies….you sort of lose faith.

  9. william huard Says:

    I would call it “bureaucratic speak” too. Remember when that leaked memo from Idaho FG with the real wolf quota that was set by the Idaho legislature (100 or 150) Gamblin was missing from this site for several weeks. He never gave explanations to our questions about the mysterious factual evidence that was used to determine all the elk depredation in the lolo either.

    • Ken Cole Says:

      I think that one of the reasons that Gamblin was absent for a considerable period of time was that his words on this blog were used in my declaration for the wilderness helicopter darting case. He specifically admitted that the radio collars placed on wolves might be used in future efforts to reduce wolf populations in the wilderness. I doubt that was of much help to their case even though they prevailed. The judge later made it very clear that any future efforts to repeat such a project would require NEPA and likely an EIS. In other words, helicopter darting of wolves will likely not take place again.

  10. Nancy Says:

    JimT Says:
    November 7, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    I still think this election was fundamentally about fear (loss of jobs, loss of house, spouse, future), and anger at this economy and needing someone to blame…in this case the sitting Dems. The conservatives of every stripe did a masterful job of fanning those fears and anxieties and anger into a fever pitch, not hesitating to use racism-tinged appeals, jingoistic concerns, or 50s style red-baiting. They have always been great in my lifetime for two things…telling you to be afraid, and telling you who to blame for it. Not so great for proactive, positive solutions to problems. Same old tired rhetoric is repackaged for the Internet age.

    Amen to that JimT.

    • JimT Says:

      The immediate danger is that those of us who worked on campaigns in any capacity grew very weary of the constant negativity and prevarications…too often from our own side as Dems, to my regret….and just want to leave it all alone for awhile. But we can’t. The conservatives are now acting as if they run the country instead of just one of the two parts of Congress, and unfortunately, Obama is sending the wrong submissive roll over signal to them. Yeah, we have to pay attention, but when the conservative leaders say they will work with Obama but only on THEIR terms…and see that as a reasonable meeting in the middle posture…you can’t just go away, or things will get really out of hand.

      Perhaps a small silver lining is that the main focus will be on economic issues, so maybe the Sage Brush folks will be told to wait until next fall….time will tell.

  11. Nancy Says:

    I liked Bill Maher’s comment (for anyone able to catch the video before it was pulled) regarding how the attempts to ” meet in the middle” keep changing, because the middle keeps moving further to the right each time.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: