Montana Governor changes direction on wolves

May be violating federal law

Today Governor Brian Schweitzer has sent a letter to the Department of Interior stating that Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks will no longer prosecute killing of wolves by landowners defending livestock in northwest Montana, they will kill entire packs upon any livestock depredation, and they will kill entire packs of wolves in the Bitterroot to protect elk herds.

This would appear to violate federal law.

The letter is here and copied below :February 16, 2011

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

I write to you today regarding wolf management in Montana.

While almost everyone acknowledges that the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population is fully recovered, as the Governor of Montana I am profoundly frustrated by the lack of any actual results that recognize Montana’s rights and responsibilities to manage its wildlife. Montana has for years done everything that has been asked: adopting a model wolf management plan; enacting enabling legislation; and adopting the necessary implementing rules. Our exemplary efforts have been ignored. I cannot continue to ignore the crying need for workable wolf management while Montana waits, and waits, and waits. Therefore, I am now going to take additional necessary steps to protect the interests of Montana’s livestock producers and hunters to the extent that I can within my authorities as governor.

First, for Montana’s northwest endangered wolves (north of Interstate 90), any livestock producers who kill or harass a wolf attacking their livestock will not be prosecuted by Montana game wardens. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) wardens will be directed to exercise their prosecutorial discretion by not investigating or citing anyone protecting their livestock.

Further, I am directing FWP to respond to any livestock depredation by removing whole packs that kill livestock, wherever this may occur.

Still further, to protect the elk herds in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley that have been most adversely affected by wolf predation, I am directing FWP, to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act, to cull these wolves by whole-pack removal to enable elk herds to recover.

At this point, I can do nothing less and still maintain my commitment as Governor to uphold the rights of our citizens to protect their property and to continue to enjoy Montana’s cherished wildlife heritage and traditions.

Sincerely,
BRIAN SCHWEITZER
Governor

322 Responses to “Montana Governor changes direction on wolves”

  1. wolfsong Says:

    Ken,
    May I share this letter on Facebook with a few pro wolf groups?

  2. freeanclear Says:

    Pretty clear to me he is all about wildlife and the prudent mgmt thereof. I am quite sure salazar is just quaking in his boots

    • Savebears Says:

      He probably is, he has not known what he was doing from day one..

      • jon Says:

        sb, you’ve met Brian a few times I believe you said. What kind of man do you think he is? Are you surprised by this move by him?

      • Savebears Says:

        Jon,

        Yes, I have met Brian many times over the years, I like Brian, I have not been happy with this wildlife positions over the years…

        Right now, I am just flat confused…as to what is going on…

  3. Savebears Says:

    Ken after the last two days, I don’t think he cares if he is violating Federal Law…

    The whole scope of things has changed in the last couple of days, and I think there are a lot of us, going what the hell happened!

    • Savebears Says:

      I will also add, with the strong nullification movement in Montana right now, who knows where this will all end up?

  4. JB Says:

    This seems a calculated move to me. They are certainly aware of the various bills floating around Congress, and are trying to keep up political pressure to remove wolves from ESA protections. It will be interesting to see how the feds respond.

    • JB Says:

      As a follow up, after a young woman was killed by coyotes in Nova Scotia in the fall of 2009, both NS and Saskatchewan instituted bounties on coyotes. The Saskatchewan bounty resulted in more that 71,000 dead coyotes at a cost of $1.5 million. As it turns out, the livestock industry had been pushing the bounty for some time and took advantage of the fear generated by the death.

      http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20100527/saskatchewan-coyote-bounty-100527/

      I fear this is where we are headed with wolves.

      • jon Says:

        JB, I am really disgusted by this. This is 2011 and this is how some wildlife is treated by us humans. We SHOULD KNOW better. Killing coyotes doesn’t solve anything.

      • jon Says:

        And the article brings up a very good point, most of the coyotes killed were causing no problems what so ever. They killed coyotes that weren’t aggressive or causing problems. Killing is never going to solve anything.

      • Mike Says:

        The problem is not coyotes or wolves. That’s crystal clear. $10 a gallon gas will be wildlife’s best friend.

      • Mike Says:

        Jon – as you know, this goes way beyond “management”. Most folks who partake in this sort of “culling” are mentally disturbed individuals who get a kick out of it.

      • jon Says:

        Humans altering ecosystems is why we have the problems we have today. We should have no right to kill 71,000 coyotes. Some people just have no regard what so ever for wildlife!

  5. Mike Says:

    If people really cared about the elk population, they’d stop shooting them. Once again, it all comes down to greed. In this case it’s masqueraded as “tradition” and “sport”.

    • ProWolf in WY Says:

      Mike, it’s interesting you say that. The organization Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd is a pro-hunting one. Their definition of friends is a lot different from mine.

  6. Trent Says:

    Weak, Weak, Weak! What are the true losses the livestock industry is facing due to the wolf? What has the livestock industry done to avoid livestock wolf conflict? It seems to me the answer to both these questions may be little, but I would like some real stats from an unbias entitiy- or does that exist these days? All these decisions should be made based on real numbers and scientific research. We are not in the 1800’s anymore. How much does livestock grazing on public lands affect wildlife-elk? It is time people grow-up regarding this issue and take their damn emotions out of the equation. Decisions like this should be made based on what is real not what is percieved. If someone can show me the unbiased scientific research that indicates wolves are negativly affecting the livestock industry at a rate that makes ranching unsustainable after rancher’s have initiated practices to avoid wolf/livestock conflict then there is some basis for wolf culling. If there is none or scientific reasearch to the contrary then this decision makes no sense.

    T

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Trent,

      I think when the figures come out for 2010, we will find livestock losses to wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are all down despite a wolf population increase in Montana and Wyoming (Idaho dropped).

      • Wolf Culler Says:

        I would really like to know how many of you have been effected or know someone affected by wolves. Also we don’t want to eradicate wolves, but thin the numbers out that were proposed initially: 10 breeding pairs. Currently, as of the end of 2010 there were roughly 34-40 breeding pairs and around 450-500 wolves in Montana. We are not claiming complete eradication but thinning. Also the numbers are actually up from previous years as far as livestock losses are concerned.

  7. Craig Says:

    http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/

    It’s pretty damn easy to see what is going on, look at the positioning of all the hunting groups with the cattle/rancher guys! The lines been drawn in the sand with the lawsuits so it’s either yes or no! No give and take anymore it’s all on the line! The ones with the most money win!

  8. timz Says:

    If we had a president with any balls he would send in a hoard of U.S. Marshalls and arrest anyone who killed a wolf and gave the order to do so. But the nutless twit in the White House will probably be off somewhere bowing to a foreign leader and apologizing for America.

    • Craig Says:

      You gonna fund that ignorant idea? And cover Millions of square miles of country to inforce it? What planet do you live on?

      • wolf moderate Says:

        I was thinking same thing. I do not like Obama, but think there are a couple more important things for him to be worrying about then a couple of wolves being shot.

        If China takes us over in a half a century or so you won’t have to worry about environmental issues. You will be making clothes for China in sweat shops. Welcome to America’s future.

      • timz Says:

        I’m guessing it would be faairly easy to find who gave the order (Governor) and the F&G agents that do the killing. Try reading before you comment!

  9. timz Says:

    Hope all you “hope and change” Obummer lovers are happy.
    The change amounts to — unleashing every right-wing kook in the country, nullification, congressmen openly threatening federal judges, governors encouraging law-breaking, etc., etc. And no response from a totally clueless administration.

    • wolf moderate Says:

      Obama is the best thing that ever happened! There won’t be Democrat president for at least 16 years following Obama’s 4 years.

      I’m happy the governor took this step. Wolves are not endangered! Grrrrrrrrrr.

      The lawsuits are really starting to piss people off including me. The environmentalists wanna get cute and pick a fight? Ok. One side will join forces w/ other industries and organizations that they normally wouldn’t, just to ensure that the extremists do not get there plans instituted. So it’s obvious that the hunting conservation groups have linked up w/ several organizations that they wouldn’t normally associate w/. Who are the enviro’s going to link up with? Seems like they should beg for forgiveness and take the least harmful bill possible. They won’t and that’s OK.

      • timz Says:

        I love how people like Wolf M. support this shit and think they’re being done a favor by the Schweitzer’s, Otter’s etc, of the world thinking they will save wildlife from the wolves. When the truth is any one of these a-holes would sell off wildlife and their habitat to the first extraction industry lobbist that comes along and lines their pockets.

        Baa Baa

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Huh? The Western governors and the states they oversee have done an excellent job of conserving land. Perhaps you forgot about the Owyhee wilderness passage not too long ago? How about CIEDRA, which nearly passed? Yeah, I think they are doing much better than the scum in Chicago, NY, and SF.

        What is wrong w/ state mgmt? If they screw it up (which they wouldn’t risk), then just relist the wolves….Sounds pretty dang simple to me. Bears and cougars are doing great throughout the West due to the excellent “management” through the states.

      • IDhiker Says:

        As I’ve said once before, when these hunting conservation groups link up with groups that are their natural adversaries, just to accomplish a short-term goal, they will be “sleeping with the devil.” Aligning with anti-habitat/anti-wildlife forces over the wolf issue also fits that old saying, “cutting your nose off to spite your face.” I worry that hunters will screw themselves over the long-term.

      • Brian Ertz Says:

        the Owyhee Initiative was rewritten/cleaned up by a congressman in New Mexico in committee. using it as an example of the success of local legislative effort is as ironic as it is disingenuous.

      • william huard Says:

        Wolf Moderate- tell me exactly who in the republican party is going to beat Obama in 2012? I think Independents in this country are scared to death of this Republican assault on women, working people, and the environment. Every day there is new ridiculous legislation put out by these buffoons

      • jon Says:

        William. Mitt Romney is beating Obama in a latest poll.

        http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/mitt-romney-leads-president-obama-in-latest-poll/

        I’m not sure who will win in 2012, but I don’t see Romney as being a friend to wildlife. The future looks grim.

      • STG Says:

        A rant without substance.

    • jon Says:

      Timz, I’m glad I did not vote for Obama. I didn’t buy into this “change” bullshit.

      • timz Says:

        Like I said Wolf M. Baaa Baaa

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Oh yeah, and my support has nothing to do w/ protecting wildlife from wolves. IMO, the herds are doing very well and at “management” objectives. It’s a “states rights” issue I guess. I don’t like a bunch of bureaucrats out of Washington telling states how to manage there own wildlife.

      • timz Says:

        “Bears and cougars are doing great throughout the West due to the excellent “management” through the states.”

        Anyone who would compare how these two animals are manged to how they want to manage wolves is a complete ignoramous.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Continue on in your dream world. I’ll stick to reality. It appears that you are on another planet or something (not personal attack, it’s the truth). You are attacking and not refuting my points.

        Good day! 😉

      • JB Says:

        “I don’t like a bunch of bureaucrats out of Washington telling states how to manage there own wildlife.”

        Wolf moderate:

        You might stop to consider that the logic of this argument can apply to any level–it knows no bounds. For example: “I don’t want some bureaucrat in Boise telling me how to manage wildlife in my county.” or “I don’t want some township, or city representative telling me what I can or can’t do with my land.”

        Federal protection of wildlife generally only occurs when and where state protections have failed.

      • Savebears Says:

        JB:

        “Federal protection of wildlife generally only occurs when and where state protections have failed.”

        Right now, biologically speaking, do we have proof that state management has failed?

        They only had a small amount of time that they managed wolves, including a hunt that was judged to have basically no detrimental impact on them..

      • Savebears Says:

        Opps, “Had” not “Have”

      • wolf moderate Says:

        “Federal protection of wildlife generally only occurs when and where state protections have failed.”

        This is why the loonies are starting the rally cry. Who is to say when “state protections have failed”? It’s a bureaucrat in Washintgon! lol.

        I am from Central Oregon and the mindset is completely different then that of Western Oregon. It’s been so bad over some issues that many Eastern Oregonians have wanted to form there own state.

        Culture clashes are frequent and the ones happening between the West and the East (Washington) seem to be climaxing over the wolf (possibly buffalo issue) fiasco. Should be interesting to see who wins. I’m pushing for the states. They do excellent jobs managing wildlife.

      • JB Says:

        We have the fact that wolves were eliminated from the region in the first place. Of course, the feds helped, but it was really at the bequest of locals.

        – – – –
        You’ll note, the statement I originally commented on, “I don’t like a bunch of bureaucrats out of Washington telling states how to manage there own wildlife”, does not apply just to wolves, but “wildlife” in general. The ESA, MTBA, and B&GEPA were all passed, in part, because state regulations was inadequate to prevent species declines.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        “We have the fact that wolves were eliminated from the region in the first place. Of course, the feds helped, but it was really at the bequest of locals.”

        We also killed off the buffalo to break the backs of the Native Americans and condoned slavery? Are you saying that We are not capable of learning from our past? It seems that we’ve come a very long way in the last century or two. We will have to agree to disagree yet again. Just wired completely different😉

        “The ESA, MTBA, and B&GEPA were all passed, in part, because state regulations was inadequate to prevent species declines.”

        I do not agree w/ many parts of the ESA and all the other acts, so I’ll stay away from that topic.

      • JB Says:

        Wolf Moderate:

        State management works exceptionally well for most species classified as “game”. It works less well for species that are classified as “protected”, mostly because states don’t have the time, money nor, in some cases, the inclination, to protect animals from which they do not derive revenue.

        This is why I posted yesterday about the Republican-led houses’ continuing resolution on the federal budget–which would zero-out the only source of federal funding for STATE-LED protection of wildlife, State & Tribal Wildlife Grants. These grants are specifically designed to help states protect and restore imperiled species BEFORE they require ESA listing.

        So you’ll have to excuse me for expressing skepticism concerning the states’ rights agenda. The people who promote this agenda are no friends of wildlife.

      • JB Says:

        “Are you saying that We are not capable of learning from our past?”

        See my comment directly above. Apparently not.

      • jon Says:

        If you look at controversial animals like wolves and bison, you will see that states do not do a good job at managing them. Wyoming wants to shoot them (wolves) on sight in most of the state and Idaho only wants 100-150 wolves in their state and from what I’ve seen, there are over 1000 wolves in Idaho alone. That is over 900 wolves that will possibly be killed by the state of Idaho. States should not have the right to eradicate species all over again for whatever the reason. if people did not speak up about the bison, they probably would have been slaughtered already.

      • JB Says:

        “I do not agree w/ many parts of the ESA and all the other acts, so I’ll stay away from that topic.”

        You do not agree with “parts” of these acts…or you do not agree with their premise?

        – – – –

        Perhaps we need to push for a treaty with Mexico for protecting large carnivores? The right of the Executive to treat on behalf of the country is unquestioned–and you could take the House out of the picture with such a treaty.😉

      • Savebears Says:

        JB,

        I have to say with the way the ESA is currently being administered, I am not all that thrilled either! it has gone from a science based law to recover species endangered of disappearing to a political lynch pin that is used for negotiation and political posturing..

      • wolf moderate Says:

        “State management works exceptionally well for most species classified as “game”. It works less well for species that are classified as “protected”, mostly because states don’t have the time, money nor, in some cases, the inclination, to protect animals from which they do not derive revenue.”

        In my view of things (which is flawed I’m sure), if the states have excellent habitat for “game species” (through sportsmans $$$), then the “non game” species will benefit, even though that the non game species were not what the habitat restoration was intended for.

        W/ the US population ever growing and expanding into prime animal habitat, it’s a given that some of the species will become endangered or extinct. I’ve come to realize this and therefore would rather spend federal funds on helping species that actually have a shot at surviving in the long run. This view is obviously different than yours and that’s fine.

        I read the article you posted yesterday. Our country is going through a severe recession that I do not think will be getting better ever. The new catch phrase “jobless recovery” sums it up nicely. We, as a nation can’t compete on a global level when we offer the workforce the benefits we do. Companies will just ship operations to a cheaper country. Basically, we are screwed. Add in inflation that’s coming, and endangered species are the last thing that should be on our minds.

        Ok, I better stop or you guys will have me locked up in a mental ward : )
        This is why I posted yesterday about the Republican-led houses’ continuing resolution on the federal budget–which would zero-out the only source of federal funding for STATE-LED protection of wildlife, State & Tribal Wildlife Grants. These grants are specifically designed to help states protect and restore imperiled species BEFORE they require ESA listing.

        So you’ll have to excuse me for expressing skepticism concerning the states’ rights agenda. The people who promote this agenda are no friends of wildlife.

      • william huard Says:

        Jon – Mitt Romney won’t even get past the Republican Primary. Remember the Health care Bill in Mass? The far right idealogues won’t let that slip by- How dare he work with a democratic legislature to solve the health care problem in that state! He’s not far right enough Jon

      • jon Says:

        I think the esa is flawed. There are animals like wolverines who belong on there, but aren’t.

      • JB Says:

        Jon:

        I support state management of wolves; what I object to is the states’ rights, ideological-based opposition to federal protections.

    • SAP Says:

      Gosh, timz, you’re right: all that stuff is Obama’s fault!

      • timz Says:

        I would say may comment is a complete rebuttal of your point. You’re trying to compare bear and cougar management to their plans for wolves and it doesn’t wash.
        Who’s in a dream world??

      • timz Says:

        SAP who’s fault is it. Who is in charge of DOI. I guess we could go back and blame Bush. Why don’t you try making a real point.

      • Salle Says:

        Actually, timz, the state of Montana out forth proposals to do just that, manage wolves like cougars and bears. So what was your point again?

        This is an ideological argument that has pushed sound and rational decision-making into the realm of religion wars. It sucks, it is not democracy, it has nothing to do with whatever the claims made imply, it’s all about who gets to rule over that which belongs to the many, and some of the “locals” can’t get over the fact that they have to share.

      • ProWolf in WY Says:

        JB, I’m glad you mentioned the bureaucrat statement. At what point do we draw the line? States’ rights gets to be a convenient shield to hide behind with arguments. That can get very dangerous.

    • Immer Treue Says:

      Good God but what was the alternative? McCain and Caribou Barbi?

      • wolf moderate Says:

        No McCain or Barbi! Christie and Ron Paul for prez!

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Whoops. Key word WAS. Sorry, thought you were talking about upcoming election.

      • timz Says:

        And that could have been worse how exactly? McCain is a centrist, Palin as VP would have been about as visible and useful as Biden, does anybody even know where he is right now? If you don’t think this right-wing revolution is not because of Obama I think you should probably do some more research.

      • Mtn Mama Says:

        THANK YOU!

      • Immer Treue Says:

        The Right Wing revolution has been going on since the defeat of Goldwater in the 60’s.

      • jon Says:

        Wolf mod, you want Romney.

      • Mtn Mama Says:

        I meant Thank You to Immer’s Caribou Barbie comment. I considered McCain until he announced Palin.. she is a redneck idiot and is no friend of wildlife.

      • timz Says:

        “she is a redneck idiot and is no friend of wildlife.”
        It’s like I’ve always said here and everywhere else, they’re all the same. How is the current administration been a friend to wildlife? They aren’t because there is no money in it for them.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        TimZ,

        I think Sarah Palin doesn’t see herself as a redneck, though she appeals to some.

        Once she saw how the right wing economic elite lives in the lap of luxury, she wanted a piece of the action. She realized she could do it herself, making money for guest appearances and also keep her name in lights with just a minimum effort through tweets and quick comments more directly to the media.

    • JB Says:

      Timz:

      Blaming Obama for “unleasing every right-wing kook in the country” is flat out wrong. As it turned out, Obama has been FAAAR MORE MODERATE than most of the left had hoped. Are we to believe that the kooks would have stayed home had we elected Hillary? Nah, the hate brigade at Fox “Noise” would have treated any Democrat the same.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        One of the arguments about Obama being “inexperienced” was, what happens if he gets that 3 in the morning phone call? How will he react? Well, one might think that he took office when that three a.m. phone call was in progress. We can argue in many different ways who could have or might have done better. The thing is, some aspects of the economy have stabilized, and the shit storm is just beginning to hit others.

        I know it’s the economy stupid, but how many jobs have the Bush tax cuts generated in the past eight years? Or are most of those who make that kind of money, socking it away, and or just waiting to see what happens?

        I’m afraid for wildlife in this country. There was a part of me that cheered when Malloy “stopped” the wolf hunts 2010/11, the other side of me cringed, just because of what is now happening. More time is needed, perhaps a generation worth of time to get the wolf situation correct. The country has more problems than wolves, but the wolves have become a lighting rod of political attention because a minuscule % of livestock have been killed, and a varied number of hunters don’t want to share **their**elk/deer with a competitor.

        They banned together and made enough noise to be heard. None of this helps the economy. Don’t Otter and Schweitzer have more important fish to fry than wolves? Keep an eye on Wisconsin.

      • jon Says:

        Wolves will always be a hated animal to those people who simply view them as competition. Wolves have a right to eat!

      • STG Says:

        WELL SAID!

  10. john philip Says:

    Well, I don’t think I’d vote for him for anything, but you’ve got to admire the chess skills. I don’t profess to get much of any of this and I’d love to know the hole card he’s holding, but it looks like he’s looking to box everybody in and bust through the dam. I’ll bet he’s successful. Salazar sure isn’t going to send out the troops. I’ll be writing to my guys – they’re all eastern Democrats – but my money’s on the landed gentry and the nutters.

  11. Cody Coyote Says:

    yesterday , Governor Schweitzer did an amazingly good thing in stopping the slaughter of Yellwostone bison , ex parte .

    Today he does an amazingly bad thing in declaring wolves to be Public Enemies in Montana and musters a posse.

    What the hell is he gonna do tomorrow… ?

    • Savebears Says:

      He is playing a political chess game with overtones of 5 card stud, there is a trade coming here somewhere, and I have not quite figured it out yet.

      Brian, is not a stupid person, he has some kind of behind the scenes game he is playing..

      • jon Says:

        Is he doing this to push the feds to get the wolves off the esl? I wonder if he’s really being serious about this or using this threat as a ploy to get wolves off the esl as fast as possible. What kind of trouble would Brian be in from the feds if he goes through with this action?

      • Savebears Says:

        Jon,

        Its not “If” he is going to go through with it, He “has” gone through with it, the order has been published and FWP is no longer going to investigate of prosecute those north of I90 and he has issued an order to get rid of ALL of the wolves in the Bitterroot. Right now, with the way things are in the country, there is not much the Fed’s can do to him, he has issued executive orders in his own state.

      • Elk275 Says:

        What kind of touble would he be in with the feds?

        I am directing FWP, to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act, to cull these wolves by whole-pack removal to enable elk herds to recover.

        It says to the extent allow by the ESA.

        It is up to the state if they want state employees spending money investigating illegal wolf kills. But a would be wolf killer should be very careful about what he does. I would never trust a game warden.

      • Savebears Says:

        I know I have no plans to go wolf hunting!

        I have grown quite fond of being outside of jail!

      • jon Says:

        sb, isn’t there a study going on in the bitteroot right now to determine what is responsible for the low elk #s there? If they are doing a study, why does Brian think that it’s wolves? The study is being done to determine for certain what is responsible for the low elk #s, so why does he want to kill all of the wolves in th bitteroot?

      • Savebears Says:

        Jon,

        I don’t know, I don’t believe the study has started yet, with this action, it may not..

      • jon Says:

        I would imagine if they knew it was wolves for certain, there wouldn’t be wasting money to have a study done, no?

      • Elk275 Says:

        Jon

        Why don’t you come out west and spend a several years. I bet that if you came out here you would never see a wolf or even kown where to look out side of Yellowstone Park.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        Cody Coyote,

        I think he is trying to fight off the far right wing.

        Here in Idaho, these people are in full control of the state government, and they are full out attacking the public schools.

        Our conservative local Pocatello paper even figured it out — that their goal was not budget cutting, but an effort to replace the public schools with private ones.

        Public schools move closer to scrap heap“. Idaho State Journal.

        This is how bad it can get. Minor unrest is now beginning. I wonder if there will soon be political violence. http://www.idahostatesman.com/2011/02/16/1530422/nampa-police-continue-to-look.html

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        jon,

        The governor’s move sure messes up the West Fork Bitterroot elk study you just put up.

      • jon Says:

        sb, are you familiar with Mark Hebblewhite? Do you know if the area where Brian wants to kill off whole wolf packs that are hurting elk is the same exact area where this study on elk is being done? If it is, it wouldn’t make much sense to shoot whole wolf packs if you want to find out why is responsible for the low elk # s.

      • jon Says:

        So, I imagine these actions by Brian is going to screw up the 3 year study being done on elk in the bitteroot. ok

      • Nancy Says:

        SB – I think the ranchers are now holding hands with the hunters on this issue. Had a short discussion with a local rancher a couple of days ago (nothing to do with wolves, mentioned something about bison) but the conversation quickly turned to wolves. I was told point blank ” that the wolves are killing all the elk, had I ever seen how a pack of wolves pull down an elk? Nothing pretty about it, talk about inhumane!” he claimed.

        Helloooo??? When did ranchers ever give a crap about elk? (They tear down their fences and eat ther grass and hay)

        The guy never once mentioned livestock depredation and maybe thats because if you check the weekly wolf/livestock activity reports for Montana, the activity has been very low over the past couple of months.

        The next move (after getting rid of the wolves) will to be to put elk under the management of the DOL.

      • Jeff N. Says:

        “He is playing a political chess game with overtones of 5 card stud, there is a trade coming here somewhere, and I have not quite figured it out yet”

        Bingo.

        I agree with this wholeheartedly and it wouldn’t surprise me if some kind of deal has been struck between MT and the Feds regarding wolves and bison. Schweitzer has, on the surface, done two very ballsy things in the last few days regarding the two most controversial animals in MT. Obviously something is afoot here. My guess is that Cowboy Salazar was well aware that Schweitzer was going to “defy” the feds prior to these latest actions. Something is coming down the pike.

    • ProWolf in WY Says:

      Cody, it will probably have to do with grizzlies. Nobody would dare mess with the sacred elk, deer, or antelope.

  12. PointsWest Says:

    This was a top story on Yahoo News tonight…

    APNewsBreak: Mont. won’t wait to kill wolves

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_endangered_wolves_montana

    What is going on with these wacky conservatives. It is like they just want to raise hell and start trouble…like that is going to help.

    I keep thinking of the timeline in Germany after the economic crash of 1930. In three years, Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor in 1933. We’ll see if history repeats itself by the Tea Party getting some wacko in the presidency in 2012. Then, just five year later, Germany invaded Austria in 1938.

    Ah…I guess that’s crazy talk. It will never happen again.

    • wolf moderate Says:

      You better check out infowars.com. It seems that there may already be a dictator that has infiltrated the government! Then again, these are the same guys that talk up Bohemian Grove, so take the documentaries w/ a grain of salt lol. Some very creative and thought provoking though!

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      PW……We have a long way to go to get to Weimar Republic status.

  13. petticoat rebellion Says:

    Okay…this string is getting way off base…Look, can somebody explain why Schweitzer stops the slaughter of bison one day (albeit under the guise of keeping brucellosis infected bison out of the state) and then goes all “tea party” on wolves the next day?! He is in essence thumbing his nose at the federal govt through both actions…there’s something very ominous under the surface of both these actions. I was cautiously optimistic when I read about his order on the bison yesterday…but now, my gut says something is very out of whack…all is not as it appears with Schweitzer. Has he started drinking “koolaid cocktails” with the far right and joined Montana’s party of “wing-nuttery”?

    • Savebears Says:

      I believe he is playing political poker, where it ends up is anybodies guess..

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      petticoat rebellion,

      I posted the following above: “I think he is trying to fight off the far right wing.

      Here in Idaho, these full out reactionary people are in complete control of the state government, and they are full out attacking the public schools.

      Our conservative local Pocatello paper even figured it out — that their goal was not budget cutting, but an effort to replace the public schools with private ones.

      Public schools move closer to scrap heap“. Editorial by the Idaho State Journal

      This is how bad it can get. Minor unrest is now beginning. I wonder if there will soon be political violence. http://www.idahostatesman.com/2011/02/16/1530422/nampa-police-continue-to-look.html

      • Dude, the bagman Says:

        Fighting them off by co-opting their position? Maybe I’m missing the long game, but this seems to legitimize their extremism.

        “I wonder if there will soon be political violence. ”

        This is why I try to convince my left-leaning friends that gun ownership should not be only for the right wing (white libertarian anarchist) fringe. That’s a recipe for disaster given how they treat dissenters (see Rand Paul stomp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbnEy_U9pYk). Ever watch the movie “Hotel Rwanda”?

        I’d rather it didn’t come to that, but what else can you do when people are openly advocating for violence when the democratic process doesn’t suit their world views?

        For as much lip service as conservatives give the Constitution, they sure are eager to ignore its processes when it doesn’t give them their way.

        I realize that it’s probably human nature to pout, but when the rhetoric gets heated to the point of advocating violence and disregard for the rule of law, accommodation and faith in reason seem foolish.

    • PointsWest Says:

      Far right politicians always take bold or, more honestly, rash measures and usually with unfavorable results. They always arise in times of doubt or dispare with a promise to save the day by being strong and decisive men (or women) of action. Wolves are more threatening to the public than are bison and someone like Schweitzer can use them as an example.

      Where things are really wacky right now is in Wisconsin…but that is off topic.

      When there is chaos and political discourse, it allows for loud and angry right-wingers to sieze control. They play oposing political forces off one another and find enough support from those who are drawn to a forceful authority figure to take control. Many today see our society crumbling in disagreement and inaction and want someone with some kind of vision, no mater how irrational, in control. When conditions are right, like they are now, you are going to see this.

      I believe most far right politicians, like Hitler, are very neurotic and are just only trying to draw attention to thier pain and trauma but they are always there, lurking in society, waiting to emerge.

      The wolf issue is a emblematic of the larger issues in American politics. You have two opposing sides that cannot come to agreement and it has led to chaos and legal discourse. Fuhrer Schweitzer is stepping in, cutting through chaos, and bringing order where there was disorder before. These are the kinds of things Hitler did and it is why Germany loved him for it.

      Chaos and discourse leads to anxiety in humans. They don’t like it. Many will follow some neuroitc like Hitler to ruin and even to death rather than live with societal chaos and political discourse.

      We are in a lull right now because of the kid in Arizona going off and shooting Gabrielle Giffords in the head. The right wing neurotics have had to cool it down a few clicks. It won’t be long, however, before they begin ratcheting up fury and blood lust again with their bids in, “taking charge”! Keep your pantry full of canned goods.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        Pointswest,

        I think everyone should look at Wisconsin and see how things play out there. You can bet that if Governor Walker of Wisconsin (a mean and aggressive tea partier) gets his way, Wisconsin wildlife will be privatized, and they are just a tiny sidelight in his attack on the state workers who got steamed by his statement to accept his attack on them or he was calling out the national guard.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        Ralph,

        Thanks for mentioning that. I hadn’t noticed what was going on in Wisconsin. That is a really big deal. That’s probably going to get through their legislature.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        Daniel Berg,

        Democratic legislatures are actually hiding out so the Republicans can’t make a quorum and pass this.

      • PointsWest Says:

        …and so the Governor has sent the state police to find the Democrats and physically force them back to the statehouse to vote. If this is not a NAZI stunt, I don’t know what is.

        The looming question is, will this make Governor Walker a hero in the eyes of the public or a villain. If he ermerges from this as some sort of hero…watch out for every wacko wanting to “take charge” to imitate him.

  14. jburnham Says:

    This has got to be the strangest part of the letter. After telling us he’ll ignore the ESA when it’s convenient to do so he says:
    “I am directing FWP, to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act, to cull these wolves by whole-pack removal to enable elk herds to recover.”

    Either we’re going to follow the law or we’re not. Why try to temper it with ‘to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act’ when it’s clear they have little love for the ESA? Do we still believe in the rule of law in this country?

    • Salle Says:

      “I am directing FWP, to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act, to cull these wolves by whole-pack removal to enable elk herds to recover.”

      It’s a thinly veiled attempt at leagally covering his a$*. He can’t be advocating illegal activity out in the wide open, he has to provide this disclaimer even if he doesn’t really mean it… isn’t there some kind of contempt charges that can be brought against a sitting legislator for something like that? Whether or not there is such a thing, Governor BS is living up to his ranching heritage with no regard for representing any other faction in his state. He has now completed a faction of rogue governors in the west… May they all live to severely regret their decisions, more so than those who already suffer from them.

  15. Doryfun Says:

    I do not know Gov Schweitzer, but if anyone here has read Heart of the Monster by Duncan and Bass, they will soon learn how Rick Bass, whom use to be an aid (and hunted and fished with) to the Governor feels about him. Rick was once very good friends with the Gov, but no longer feels the same way about that friendship. He questions many things, just like Save Bears and others, whom thought they knew the Gov. about what and why he has found another horse to ride.

    I live in Idaho County, amidst a red sea of itchy trigger fingers and questionable populous of reason. Not too far back you might recall our local sheriff advertising an SSS rafle, somewhat akin to what the MT Gov is doing now, only the gov is more openly blatant. Sure, it is some kind of chess game going on. A myopically dangerous one.

  16. JEFF E Says:

    politics and grandstanding………..most certainly was not done without permission of DOL

  17. mikarooni Says:

    I won’t say that this latest turn in the political theatre isn’t deployable or that I like rednecks and their trashy behavior, which I don’t, or that we don’t need to keep up our presence in this pig wrestling contest, even if we get dirty in the process. But, to the best of my understanding, the real science is still showing that, even with all the monte carlo analysis of this stochastic event and that stochastic event, we really just need about 1500 wolves spread reasonably well and able to interconnect across the better habitat between maybe Spokane at one end and Rawlins at the other. If we can have that and keep it, then we have long-term genetic sustainability of the species in a NRM population.

    Yes, there are still problems. Wyoming is still a problem at the southern end and there is still no telling what the trash in Idahohoho would do if they get total state control. Maybe that same danger exists in MT, although I don’t see it even with this turn by this fat governor. I say look at where we are and stay focused. The rednecks say we have “thousands” of wolves out there and we don’t. But, again to the best that I can count from the information that I have, we can stand some loses in ID and still be fine; we’re about where we need to be in MT and can even stand some loses in specific pockets; and we now have maybe as much as 50% of what we need in WY.

    This isn’t the end of the world on the ground. It’s really just another part of the political game. As long as we don’t have a full fledged wolf-killing free-for-all, then what happens in the next election matters more than what these backwoods states do moment-to-moment. If the politics work in our favor nationally, then this current “nullification” crap will eventually be just another embarrassing historical footnote for those NRM residents who can read; however, if the national politics go against us, then the whole game is over. Remember, Pawlenty was auctioning off the state parks in MN and guys like Randy Paul would do the same for Yellowstone if they had the power. If we hold for more than we need in ID and MT, then, politically, it may actually prolong the process of getting what we need in WY.

  18. Jerry Black Says:

    I hope that some of you that find this action deplorable will let him know about it.
    governor@mt.gov

  19. Ann Says:

    The only things they want in these states are cattle……on publicly subsidized land….and elk so that the hunters can shoot them. That’s it. That is the mindset we are dealing with. And if they can get the wolves permanently removed from the endangered species list, now and forever more, then they will kill every last wolf off in these three states. This is about land, public land, the land that we subsidize so that the cattle ranchers can profit from it. They don’t even want to bother having to protect their cattle on public lands, hence not a cowboy riding the range nor a cattle dog. No, they want everything killed off of the public lands…..wolves, coyotes and horses. All that will be left in these states is cattle and what elk is not poached. And maybe a bird or two. Those are the stakes.

    • Mandy S Says:

      Bravo, Ann. You’re right on the money.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Ann,

      The cattle operators are often not in favor of elk either because elk eat grass.

      There is growing evidence the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been taken over by big money, slob hunters who want to shoot elk in a pen or on a private reserve. Of course, this way there is no conflict between elk and cattle because the elk are no longer wild. They are just another kind of livestock, but one killed with a bullet rather than a slaughterhouse.

      • WM Says:

        Ralph,

        For all my criticism of RMEF and what it has become, I feel compelled to respond to your statement. With all due respect, I am not sure how factually accurate your statement is, regarding private land, canned hunts and private elk ranching. They have even taken a pretty strong stand against such activities and conduct in the recent past. I also doubt there is any more big money there than in any other national or major regional group, like Defenders, Sierra Club or even your own WWP.

        It is pretty clear their advertising base and strong influence comes from outfitters. One need only look at the back part of their bi-monthly publication to see how prominent the outfitting industry is. Their membership is up, as someone suggested on a post a couple of days back, and surprisingly a huge part is in an increase in Washington state residents.

        What is also disturbing is the recent affiliations with groups like NASCAR and the Pro Bull Riders Association. It’s relatively new Executive Director David Allen used to be affiliated with both, and was once Dale Earnhardt, Sr’s. PR guy, if I recall correctly. I still don’t know what car racing has to do with wildlife conservation, and I keep asking them that question.

        They are trying to geographically expand their membership base to include PUBLIC habitat improvement and acquisition in many states where elk have been few or absent for decades and maybe even over a century (the KY post a few days back is a good example). Yes, elk were once in parts of the East and the South.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        WM,

        Well, I’m not sure. Much of my info was based on an email a got today from some hunters alienated from RMEF.

      • WM Says:

        If there is any truth to whatever these guys assert, I sure hope it sees the light of day for independent verification, because if it is so it will piss off even more borderline alienated members, myself included.

    • jon Says:

      You hit the nail on the head Ann. People are not in the dark. They know what is going on with ranchers and their agendas.

  20. Mike Says:

    What Montana’s governor needs to do is realize that hunting regulations need to be created in a way that mesh’s with habitat loss and human overpopulation. In the not too distant future, hunting for such big game animals as elk will and should be very limited. We may as well get started on making these changes now so they can be eased into society.

    This is what the Montana Gov should focus on, not this emotional cowboy act.
    Wildlife does not exist for the sole purpose of being shot at. We need science-based regulations, not market-based regulations, or we’re going to lose our species.

    Again, if people were TRULY worried about elk numbers, they’d stop killing them, PERIOD, or at least concede that there needs to be serious changes made in how many can be killed.

    • Elk275 Says:

      Mike

      That is not going to happen, period. You have a right to your opinion, but try saying that in a Montana rural bar about 11:00 P.M. when everyone is a bit drunk. SAy what you want but be careful or you will be picking your self up off the floor wiping your bloody nose and feeling loose teeth.

      The State or Montana will decide how they are going to manage their big game not you or Jon. You have nothing to say about it and people like you are part of the problem, you make a trip monthly trip west once a year as a non resident and want say in wildlife management your only say are public comments.

      Wildlife is not managed for an eco system; it is manage for maximum carrying capacity of the land and people what landowners will tolerant. That is the way it is and the way it will be until the US has a different political system.

      Today Montana hunters and fishers are having enough difficultly trying to kept from privatizing fish and wildlife.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        ELK275,

        Is it your belief that no one from outside a respective state should have any say in how that state’s ecosystem is managed, period? Where exactly do you stand on this?

      • william huard Says:

        I think these politicians are drinking looney juice, on think progress today a Montana politician is introducing a bill to declare global warming a naturally occurring event that is good for us. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so pathetic to watch these far right idiots introduce one ridiculous piece of legislation after another.

      • Elk275 Says:

        ++should have any say in how that state’s ecosystem is managed, period++

        I did not say ecosystem. I feel that each state in American should manage their own fish and wildlife. Migratory waterfowl and birds (snipe, rails, cranes, etc) have been for one hundred years managed by both the federal and the state, which due to the nature of migratory birds is ok. I believe that the each state is entitled to manage their fish and wildlife without out of state influence, this includes both wildlife watchers, anti hunters and non resident hunters. The western states have restored big game animals to their maximum carry capacity which has allow long and generous hunting seasons. Now we have heard from a poster that elk hunting should become limited and rare.

        There are those on this forum, that want to use science but who’s sciences do we use or when does science become beliefs or philosophy. There are those who do not want pheasants, huns or rainbow and brown trout in the ecosystem but they are not going to be removed. A complete large ecosystem is never going to return the lower 48 states because of private property and homes built on that private property and economic activity. The best we can do is to preserve habitat and roadless areas. Back to work

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        william huard,

        You wrote: “It would be amusing if it wasn’t so pathetic to watch these far right idiots introduce one ridiculous piece of legislation after another.”

        It isn’t just pathetic or amusing. These people are an acute threat to our liberty and our well being. Folks need to get organized against them.

  21. william huard Says:

    These people are relentless. Livestock operators that want no animals on the landscape but their cattle, and whining hunters that have well over 100,000 elk to kill. The best is when they accuse wolves of being “inhumane” the way they kill their prey. Schweitzer is not showing any leadership with a letter like that- and it is a calculated move to keep the pressure up with all these bills circulating.

  22. Richie G. Says:

    Look at the big picture, Obama wants to get elected,he has hinted at going after social security,medi-care,republican Governors have turned down his high speed train money,no wind fall taxes on oil companies, money that BP promised is still in the pipeline, and now the cattle industry. Wolves and other wildlife will suffer this is for sure, political climate is doing a one eighty. All that effort in the wolf introduction program could come to a complete stop.

  23. william huard Says:

    Sorry Ralph, I just read the post. Sounds like a reasonable explanation — Schweitzer’s response did sound petulant in the letter

  24. william huard Says:

    It is hard to argue with the facts- wolf depredation in Montana is very low- correct me if i am wrong- Nabeki posted that there have been 97 confirmed livestock kills by wolves- that is hardly a figure to get your undies all up in a bunch

    • WM Says:

      William,

      You seem to forget the fact that while wolves are listed they continue to grow beyond the numbers agreed to in the respective FWS approved state management plans (depending on location 10 to 20%+ per year).

      An issue at the very heart of this discussion is every bit as much about the increase in numbers of wolves and the projected impacts on elk and livestock, which occur while the state management plans cannot operate, which includes management of wolves in conjunction with other wildlife management objectives. That is a very real component of this discussion that is, unfortunately, rarely discussed.

      Anyone care to guess how long it will take for the appeal of Molloy’s last ruling, subsequent legal proceeding including hearing the plaintiffs’ case in chief, any appeals from those rulings and other procedural delisting proceedings, if applicable? [Assuming one of these radical bills does not pass]

      Anyone care to speculate how many more wolves there will be beyond agreed numbers in the management plans at the time when there may be another legal harvest consistent with the management plans?

      Anyone care to speculate how large that harvest will be as compared to the modest harvest during the 2009 wolf hunting season?

      The short answers to these questions are: This legal maneuvering may not be over in even two more years. The number of wolves could easily be double what they are now (assuming somebody will actually count them since at least one state is intent on walking away from monitoring responsibilities). And, the impacts on elk, could be double (and maybe even livestock double if consistent contol efforts are not carried out). The next legal wolf harvest, after say three years of no activity, could be 3X or 4x the 2009 wolf harvest in ID and MT, plus whatever might happen in WY – now won’t that be a public relations nightmare.

      For all these reasons I think the original 2010 Tester/Baucus bill would have been the best solution. I do not even know whether there is a chance today for this well thought out middle ground proposal, and that is very unfortunate.

      • william huard Says:

        WM
        Where are these decimated elk herds? Sure there are management zones that do not meet objectives- but the fact remains there are plenty of elk in all three states for hunters to harvest. What ever happened to Wyoming? Depredation numbers in Montana and Wyoming are not a problem right now, and grimm in IDAHO just makes stuff up to kill wolves

      • Elk275 Says:

        Well written William.

      • WM Says:

        Elk,

        Actually you and William, missed the point of the post. Let me say it again. It is not so much the present, as what will happen in the future three years or so as the legal stuff shakes out, with increased wolf numbers in the interim, then being brought back down to what the states/FWS have agreed (if the science of ESA recovered species supports it). That may result in a huge reduction in wolf population, in the form of a drastic response.

      • WM Says:

        Let me also say, using a saying I have heard before, “All politics is local.”

        The same concept is true for wolves. Wolves impact prey species locally. The state wildlife management response will to wolves impacting local elk populations (or in the case of livestock also local response – specific wolves that kill specific stock in specific geographic areas), will be local. So, if specific wolves are killing too many elk calves, affecting herd structure, the states want to be able to impact those wolves, and reverse a trend locally.

      • IDhiker Says:

        WM,

        I agree with you that the 2010 Tester/Baucus bill was the best solution. At least, from my understanding, it mandated a more moderate minimum number of wolves in Idaho. I don’t trust Idaho to allow such a population on their own, and I fear, in the end, the number of wolves allowed will be much lower.

  25. Virginia Says:

    Please read the article “Booming Wolf Haters” by Fishgrease on the Dailykos and sign the petitions. Fishgrease is PO’d at the gov. to say the least!

  26. JT Walker Says:

    For those who seem to be misinformed: the elk in the Mt. Bitteroot area have gone from 1,914 to less than 764 in two years. During that time, only 50 humans were allowed to hunt, (and not all were successful ) and NO cow/calf tags were given. In 2010 that number was reduced to 25 human hunters. There is no way that “human hunters” reduced that elk herd less than half in two years considering the small number of elk tags given out.
    The cow/calf ratio is currently less than 9 per 100; the herd needs a ratio of at least 25-30/100 to even sustain its numbers.
    If nothing is done about wolves in this area, there will be no elk left. We can then try to list that particular group of elk as endangered, (as there will be none) and will be able to stop all hunting by humans! As was done in Washington State with the Sockeye run in Lake Washington, (removed protected Sea Lions to assure the Sockeye run survive) the same will be done with wolves in the Bitteroot area. Look up your facts people, before you start blaming the decline in elk numbers on human hunters, as that “dog just don’t hunt anymore”.

    • Elk275 Says:

      JT Walker

      The above is a bit wrong according to the 2010 regulations.

      ++During that time, only 50 humans were allowed to hunt, (and not all were successful ) and NO cow/calf tags were given. In 2010 that number was reduced to 25 human hunters. ++

      We are talking about the West Fork of the Bitterroot or hunting district 250. In 2010 there were only 25 “B” cow tags issued in the northeast portion of the hunting district. The district was open for either sex elk during the 5 week acrhery season. The regular rifle season was open for brow tine bulls for 5 weeks.

      Hunters have not cause the decline in elk in that district.

    • Nancy Says:

      I’m curious JT Walker – a question that’s been in the back of my mind for awhile as I read so many articles about low numbers here and low numbers there when it comes to elk. Is it possible, because of wolves, that elk have changed not only their habits, but also their former grazing or wintering areas? How accurate are these counts?

      I’ve yet to read in any journals or accounts from early explorers, how they came across herds of elk “as far as the eye could see” like they did when it came to bison.

      And could there be other reasons like an increase in human traffic, development?

      Not familiar with Mt. Bitteroot, where is it?

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        Nancy,

        It is the upper part of the Bitterroot River. It starts near the Idaho border and runs more or less north.

        There was an article about how the elk in the general area had moved into the Bitterroot Valley instead. So it seems like this is a good question.

  27. timz Says:

    Introduced by Simpson, taking away the right of Americans to make a legal challenge.

    “The two-sentence provision directs Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to reissue a 2009 rule that took wolves off the endangered list in Montana, Idaho and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah. The reinstated rule “shall not be subject to judicial review,” according to the provision.”

    Tell me the country is not spinning rapidly out of control.

    • WM Says:

      timz,

      That is a way of legislating a regulation (which is usually left to the administrative agency) and then saying the rule stands, without the courts getting involved in interpreting the rule or the underlying law under which the rule is promulgated.

      In other words, it is a backdoor way of changing the ESA as respects wolves, without saying that is exactly what it is.

  28. rtobasco Says:

    Yup Ralph – we have much to be concerned about. There are reasonable folks seeking common sense solutions to a situation that is spinning out of control. Largely because wolf advocates see wildlands as some kind of utopia that should forever be free of human influence. That horse left the barn centuries ago. I see very few on here who want the species eliminated. What we do want are reasonable means to control wolves in problem areas. Sport hunting will not eradicate wolves and can/will be regulated.
    As for education – what’s wrong with holding teachers accountable? Our education system has been under heavy attack for years as standardized test scores have steadily declined. Folks offer ideas for reform and unions and the left scream anarchy. Perhaps a little wake up call for educators is just what the Dr. ordered.

    • Immer Treue Says:

      rtobasco,

      “As for education – what’s wrong with holding teachers accountable? Our education system has been under heavy attack for years as standardized test scores have steadily declined. Folks offer ideas for reform and unions and the left scream anarchy. Perhaps a little wake up call for educators is just what the Dr. ordered.”

      Absolutely nothing wrong with holding teachers accountable, but the real problem is administration. So many districts are top heavy with upper level administrators who have never been in a classroom- as a teacher. Thy have no clue what is going on, and “rule” and mandate by means of those in colleges and universities that also have no real clue what is going on in grade school, middle school and high school classrooms.

      Nobody listens to the teachers who have to implement all the BS these stuffed shirts advocate. The kids are tested tested to death and education systems are being run more and more like businesses, teaching to tests and avoiding what is paramount, an enriched curriculum that the kids can get there mitts into, that will stimulate the mind, rather than the drivel that is increasingly forced down their throats.

      Teachers heads are spinning with curriculum changes to meet “standards”. It takes time to put a good curriculum together, and by the time you’ve got it pegged, boom they change it again.

      A type of business model is being used, a type of industrio-educational approach to teaching kids. They’re not widgets, they are young kids who need to be challenged, and perhaps the biggest single component to a good education for the kids is support for the educational programs at home. If this is not done, you may as well bark at the moon.

      To paraphrase Pete Seeger Waste deep in the big muddy and the fool says to move on. Don’t cry foul until you know more about the game!

      • Nancy Says:

        Ahhhhhh, Pete Seeger! Recall his yacht anchored in the sound off Shoreham, New York a few years ago. He didn’t “walk on water” to the crowds on the beach but we got our peaceful point across when thousands showed up on the beach to protest the opening of a nuclear power plant there.

        http://www.longislandpress.com/2009/06/11/nuclear-waste-20-years-after-the-closure-of-the-shoreham-power-facility/

      • rtobasco Says:

        Immer Treue,

        Good point about administrators, they too seem to be a protected species. Though teachers ( I know a few, including those at my daughter’s school) seem all too willing to follow their administrators as if they were a bunch of sheep. I don’t see any teachers willing to rock the boat to improve the situation. But they come out of the woodwork if there are any suggestions about changing the status quo. While I agree we have too many politicians posing as school administrators, the problem runs a little deeper – don’t you think?

        I’d still like to believe in a sound public education for the masses but it seems we have created a sacred cow in our school systems. Shaking the tree now and then can’t hurt.

        “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, but the perpetual human predicament is that the answer soon poses its own problems.” Sydney Harris

      • Immer Treue Says:

        rtabasco,

        Rocking the boat as a teacher is dangerous. Last year we fought against an unneeded text adoption. Our last text series was only four years old, and what we have purchased is inferior to what we had, not just my opinion. We spoke at board meetings, and were looked upon as obstructionists.

        Another plan was ramrodded through with no teacher input at all. Parents were not notified what type of program their children were going to be put in. Without going through the whole nine yards, we saw it was full of holes, and if implemented as written would open the doors to legal action against the school district, and we blew the whistle, to the parents who’s kids were involved. We were told by administration to more or less watch our asses.

      • JB Says:

        I think the root of this problem is an aging population; we have a high proportion of retirees (or near retirees) that are politically active and voting in their own interests. It is no coincidence that universal health care has come about just as the boomers retire. Meanwhile funding for education continues to wane.

    • wolf moderate Says:

      Well put. Unfortunately people see the West as a zoo for rich people from the East coast? Who else could afford to come out and visit the area? It’s expensive! They already have one zoo (YNP), but that doesn’t satisfy them, they want the entire West a zoo. It saddens me.

      Education is horrid in the US. I say give everyone vouchers and let the “free market” run it. Like many things, they’d cut out the excess real quick. Ok, maybe at least give parents the options to receive vouchers or tax breaks so there kids do not have to be exposed to a public “education”.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Yes, ok, give everyone vouchers, let’s have charter schools, and there’s your free market/business analogy. Good, when a kid causes trouble, or doesn’t do his/her work, boom they’re out. One must be careful for what they wish. There is always someone else’s kid who wants that spot, eh?

      • Jeff N. Says:

        Wolf Moderate says:

        “Unfortunately people see the West as a zoo for rich people from the East coast? Who else could afford to come out and visit the area? It’s expensive! They already have one zoo (YNP), but that doesn’t satisfy them, they want the entire West a zoo. It saddens me.”

        This is a stretch. For starters I don’t think there are too many people on this site who want to see the west as a zoo, and YNP is not a zoo, you know that. Also not many posters on this site are anti-hunting (I can think of Jon and his opinion needs to be respected like anyone’s opinion on this site). I’d go further and say that most people on this site are not against a wolf hunting season if done properly where the wolf population sustainable.

        That being said the, what we are seeing/hearing coming from the local state governments is nothing but hysteria and doomsday rhetoric regarding the wolf’s affect on elk and livestock. I’m not going to repeat the statistics on elk and cattle depredation because, as we know, the true numbers don’t match the hysteria/doomsday scenario coming from the state capitals. What we want is a sound scientific approach to wolf management. What we are hearing and seeing now is heavy handed influence from the ranching community and the irrational segment of the hunting community regarding wolf management, which is unacceptable. There are millions of acres of public land in the west that are appropriate for many uses, including wolves on the landscape in greater numbers than 1500.

      • jon Says:

        And it’s not like livestock is going endangered anyways even if wolves did kill a few animals. How many cattle animals in Montana? a couple million? Wolves gotta eat and sometimes livestock is on the menu. Who can blame wolves? That is what happens when you have ranchers who don’t watch over their livestock. If you ask me, they are getting what’s coming to the. I’d rather have the west as a zoo rather than a livestock farm.

      • jon Says:

        Jeff N, I am anti-sport hunting. Killing coyotes, bears, wolves, cougars, etc is something I will never ever agree with. Hunting deer or elk for food, I don’t have any problem with.

      • Jeff N. Says:

        “Jeff N, I am anti-sport hunting. Killing coyotes, bears, wolves, cougars, etc is something I will never ever agree with. Hunting deer or elk for food, I don’t have any problem with.”

        We’re in the same camp regarding hunting Jon. My intent wasn’t to call you out.

      • jon Says:

        It’s cool jeff. just wanted to make something clear.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Hey Jon,

        Did your dad use to own a boat magazine? Just curious. No need to disclose if ya don’t want to.

    • jon Says:

      Teachers have it rough. They don’t get paid as much as they should and sometimes they have to put up with snobby immature students. I think they are underappreciated and underpaid if anything.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Yup when a kid causes trouble he is expelled in public school also. Let everyone who wants vouchers have them and then leave the public schools for the kids w/ parents that don’t give a chit about them. Seems like a plan to me. It’s pretty much this way now. Rich and well off families send there kids to private schools. Middleclass families are pretty much forced to keep there kids in subpar public schools due to lack of finances. If the government would give them a voucher or tax break in the amount that the government would have paid to teach the kid in public “schools” then we might be able to compete in this new global economy. As it is, we are doomed. All but the most well off families have kids in these institutions of lower education🙂

        I don’t have kids nor will I. It’s just a bummer that good/smart kids have to go to a public school that isn’t able to accomodate them.

      • JB Says:

        wolf moderate

        Education funding and policies vary widely by state. Where I grew up (the northern lower peninsula of Michigan) there were no private school alternatives. In fact, the schools were so far apart (geographically) that there were essentially no alternatives. Thus, all parents had a vested interest in ensuring their public schools were up to par.

      • Jeff N. Says:

        Wolf Moderate –

        Your opinion regarding public schools is interesting. My wife and I went to public schools, graduated from state universities and rec’d very good educations. My kids now attend a highly regarded public school in the Phx metro area. There is a charter school in the same district that is also getting a cut of taxpayer money that is a joke. It’s basically in dire straits financially, piss poor management. Your generalization of the public school system is very typical of someone who feels that the “free market system” is the answer for everything. How has “the free market system” in the U.S. worked out from @ the year 2000 til present , while the fox was guarding the hen house?

      • Jeff N. Says:

        To add to my previous statement, parental involvement in their children’s education is the most important aspect of educational success, whether private or public schooling. And trust me I do realize that some schools are superior to others, but the parents must be supportive and engaged; not spectators.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Jeff, public schools are excellent in some locations. But generally speaking they are incredibly inefficient and do not provide condusive environments for learning. I went to all public schools. In fact I went to 3 junior highs and 4 Highschools. Only 2 of the 7 were even remotely decent at the services they were mandated to provide. See, w/ so many parents that do not give a flip about their kids, it’s obvious that the learning environment is going to be hectic to say the least. What’s wrong w/ giving kids who have parents that care about there kids a chance to succeed? Many parents care for there children and want the best, but can’t afford private school, so they have to send there kids to subpar public schools. These parents pay taxes for public schools already, so just give them that money in the form of a voucher to attend a school of there choice. Yeah, it takes “badly needed” funds from public school coffers, but frankly I don’t care. Get rid of some of the damn administrators and maybe they wouldn’t be so broke and whining for money all the time. I don’t have kids, nor will I most likely, but this subject does really annoy me. Wisconsin’s issues are just the beginning of a new way of running things….hopefully. If we are to maintain any kind of standard of living that is.

        This IS a wildlife blog so I guess we should be talking about that lol. Seeya.

  29. Nancy Says:

    Had a feeling thats what he was referring to
    Ralph, and one can see what’s happening to that part of the country:
    http://www.bigskymontananet.com/getting_here/bitterroot_mountains.php

    • wolf moderate Says:

      Could you elaborate Nancy? Not following. Are you complaining that others are going to use the Bitterroot mountains to recreate or something?
      Thanks.

      • Nancy Says:

        No Wolf, just pointing out the fact that “others using the Bitterroot mountains to recreate or something?” AND an increase in those numbers, might just be having an impact on elk?

      • Savebears Says:

        Nancy,

        Truth be told, I have actually seen a decrease in the amount of people actually recreating in the Bitterroot over the last 10 years, I just see the numbers of people camping and fishing that I saw when I first started doing work down there several years ago, it used to be you were not going to find a camp spot unless you were there early, the last couple of years, I can pull into virtually any campground at anytime of the day and get a spot. My wife has several relatives that live in that area and they have mentioned the same thing..

      • Elk275 Says:

        We are talking about a time period no longer than 7 years and an increase in the number of people in that time frame should not have an impact on the number of elk. To think otherwise is bias.

        FYI and others. The area we are talking about is the West Fork of the Bitterroot. If you or anybody on this forum has some free time this summer it is an excellent place to visit. There are several options: one is to leave North Fork, Idaho and drive down the Salmon River until the Long Tom Road turn out. From there drive to the top of the Bitterroots which will intersect the old Nez Perce Trail on top of the Bitterroots. There is a lovely campground Called Horse Thief with a hot springs in the campground. Spend the night there or several days.

        The trip is down the mountain to the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. Drive down the River until the Nez Perce Road intersection. Then drive up the Nez Perce Road, which is paved, and over into Idaho until the Selway River. One can go down the Selway River until Paradise and then it is a trail down the river. (My cousin rode his mules into a bunch of rattlesnakes on the trail and all hell broke loose).

        Another option is to go back the Selway and take the road across the mountains to Elk City, Idaho and back to Missoula along the Lochsa River. Maybe you will see a wolf but you will see some fantastic scenery and have a good time with many side trails for hiking.

        I have a feeling with some of the contributors on this forum is that we have become more or all keyboard and less hiking boot. Get out there and enjoy.

      • jon Says:

        Elk, how often do you go hiking?

      • Elk275 Says:

        Jon, you will not answer my questions so why should I answer yours. (Jest) You hit me between the eyes and it hurts.

        The long and short answer is not much except during hunting season. It is winter now and I use to ski 60 to 100 days a year. I have not skied in several years and I swear that I am going to ski Maverick Mountain this winter (by where Nancy lives), Dicovery Mountain by Anaconda, Montana and the one that I have always wanted to ski Lost Trail Pass on the Montana/Idaho Border.

        Before the great recession for a number of years I would spend a month in South America hiking in the Andes. Five years ago I was in New Zealand hunting by myself and came close twice to losing my life and things are differnent now — I can not explain it — but there were two very close calls.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Thanks for clarification, but doubt that is a major cause of the decline. You’d know better than most though. You live near there if I remember correctly.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Elk,

        you seem very Knowledgeable on lots of side roads and such. I’ve got a KLR 650 I bought and am going to equip it w/ aluminum panniers and stuff like that so I can really get out and see the NRM. I’m from Oregon originally so haven’t seen as much as I’d like. Anywho have one trip planned for boise-grangeville-darby, mt-boise taking the magruder road (Nez Perce trail). If you have any other good rides coupled w/ cool things as side trips like hiking, fishing, hot springs etc… please let me know. I’m getting “cabin” fever and gotta start planning! 🙂 Thanks.

      • PointsWest Says:

        A nice loop is up the West Fork of the Madison, along and then over the Gravelly Range by way of Black Butte, into the Cenntenial Valley, and then west along the Centennial Range to the Red Rock Lakes, over Red Rock Pass into Henry’s Lake Flats. If you go during the week, you may only see one or two other cars.

        I think that is about as scenic drive as you could find anywhere in North America. I’ve been on lots of drives too.

        Highlights are great fishing in the West Fork of Maddison in spots, lots of high alpine fauna and flora in the Gravellies and lots deep green forest and mountain meadows with small streams…full of small trout. Great views to adjacent ranges. Black Butte is something to see. The Centennial Valley has the Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge. Red Rock creek is fabulous fishing. Some stretches have artic grayling. Lots of moose and other wildlife there…beaver, fox, deer, and elk. You might see a grizzly. There was an old stage stop at Widows’s Pool and a very nice spring there with ice cold water. Centennial Valley is very open and tranquil country with steep Centennial Range on one side. Since the range runs east and west, its north slope faces the Centennial Valley and almost always has snow along the crest.

        Red Rock Creek and Centennial Range

        Black Butte
        http://www.advrider.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=214278&stc=1&d=1251312797

        Black Butte and Gravelly Range

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Thanks for the info. That Black Butte and Gravelly Range is some nice looking country.

    • Savebears Says:

      I do quite a bit of work in the bitterroot in the spring and summer and I have noticed a marked decrease in the numbers of elk..

  30. Richard G. Says:

    I substituted a few times in a school in Long Branch, New Jersrey, I am a liberal person too! But I must say the problem is not the teachers, it is the times we live in. The kids have too much control, the staff was terrorfied of lawsuits. A girl asked me if I was married, I could not even answer her,the kids have all the control. At least that’s what I see, back to the wolves.Did anyone see the pbs special “lords of the land”. A couple who owned a farm had a few comments to make,the women said the wolves caused extra work to keep their animals safe. But in the next breath she said, But I find it majestic to see a wolf past my front yard, how many people could say they see wolves in their front yard. THe women used the word “majestic”, I did not make this up. p.s. This was filmed in Wisconsin and Minnesota ;

  31. Nancy Says:

    +I have not skied in several years and I swear that I am going to ski Maverick Mountain this winter (by where Nancy lives),+

    Then you better get your butt over here Elk while the skiing is still decent! Can’t believe how the snow pack has gone down over the last few days with these warm temps. Expect they will be calling it spring skiing within the next couple of weeks.

    Ralph’s got my email address. Let me know and I’ll brave the downhill traffic from the hill, for a chance to say hello to a fellow blogger………

  32. Elk275 Says:

    Will do.

  33. MAD Says:

    I find it disheartening when I see intelligent, well-informed people like Elk275 talk about areas he obviously knows and care about suddenly spout drivel such as “There are those on this forum, that want to use science but who’s sciences do we use or when does science become beliefs or philosophy. ”

    As an environmental atty in MT with a spouse who is a Wildlife Biologist (12 long yrs of school-research) I have to shake my head. There is no such thing as “who’s science.”. Science is an objective reporting of actual observations and the theories or concepts to explain those observations. You are talking about POLITICS. Of the dozens of legitimate scientists I know, there is little argument about the status of wolves, elk, etc. The people who question it are scientists who are political flunkies or beholden to special interest people – Valerius Geist is a perfect example. He’s an ungulate specialist who testifies against wolves every chance he gets and has never published any peer reviewed articles on wolves at all. He’s like those MDs who make a living testifying against other MDs in court on malpractice cases.

    Trust me, I believe that wolves, like any other species unfortunately must be managed in today’s modern world. I do not agree that local Fish & Game or local residents are capable of responsibly monitoring and managing wolves due to the political-social situation in the 3 state area

    • mikarooni Says:

      Absolutely correct. We keep hearing that Jim Beers is a biologist; but, Jim left his science training behind, got an MPA, turned into a politician beholding to his home state cronies, and eventually got tossed out for twisted loyalties and disruption. Alston Chase gets thrown up regularly (pun intended); but, again, a disgruntled “philosopher” with a checkered career who found a way to get attention by impersonating a “scientist” to the delight of the rubes. On another occasion, when I pointed out that Chase often quotes very old references that are very suspect due to poor observation techniques and standards in play in those early days, I had a rube come back at me claiming that his 1950s undergrad in “biology” from MSU, then Montana State College (which made the degree very probably a “range science” degree) made him a “scientist” and contending that he had accurate information from a Vernon Bailey reference from the 1930s. I get Charles Kay thrown up a lot. The last time I heard, Kay was not officially part of the biology faculty, but was teaching under the political science department. If that’s correct, you can use your own imagination to fill in the blanks. My take would be that he might just have been too much of an embarrassment for the real science faculty in the biology department (at that school no less; I guess everybody has limits), but couldn’t be just outright canned because of politics and tenure; so, he is still there strutting his status as a biologist in the political science department …and the rubes worship him!

    • mikarooni Says:

      I forgot to mention Allan Savory and HRM …what a crock of snake-oil from a spoiled member of old Rhodesia’s WASP landed gentry who got tossed and had to develop a circus act for the rubes just to pay his rent. He’s the king of Kansas City, star of every supermarket parking lot. He’s the king of Kansas City, no thanks Omaha, thanks a lot.

    • WM Says:

      MAD,

      Actually as a lawyer you should know and fully understand the “whose science” comes up all the time in controversies that wind up in administrative proceedings, or in court, all over this country and every day.

      This is exactly where we are in the wolf recovery issue and have been for several years. Science is in a constant state of flux, and as a string of related and unrelated questions continue to be asked and answered (sometimes incorrectly based on the next question asked and answered), the body of knowledge continues to expand.

      Let me give you one very relevant one from the first delisting suit before Judge Molloy. The vonHoldt study of genetic connectivity within Yellowstone was used improperly by the plaintiffs Defenders, et. ux (some would say, even the authors disagreed as to the conclusion the plaintiff lawyers and their “scientists” drew from their work) to extrapolate to a lack of genetic connectivity in the NRM.

      The plaintiffs’ was clearly an incorrect scientific conclusion, based on their contorted advocacy and their own “version of the facts.” It was of such magnitude that the original author(s) subseqeuntly published a study using the same time series data, which refuted the conclusion drawn by plaintiffs and which suckered Judge Molloy into a legal conclusion that there was not genetic connectivity, when in fact there was and had been since 2004. Dr. Mech even addressed this incorrect conclusion in his own Declaration Under Oath in the proceeding.

      The following link gives proper citation to the studies and a commentary by scientists, Hebblewhite (ungulate), Musiani (wolf) and Mills (not sure of his discipline).

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04770.x/full

      So, for your conclusion that “whose science” does not play a role in advocacy for a particular position, is disingenuous to your own training and intellect as a lawyer.

      • mikarooni Says:

        WM, reread MAD’s posting. Your complaint about the misuse of the credible current state of the science is just what he’s concerned about. It is your own anti-wolf, anti-court, anti-lawyer bias and interpretation that brought you to believe that he was or was not holding that the plaintiffs’ position was or was not proper.

        Now, reread your own posting, then reread MAD’s final comments. I’ll quote them for you. “Trust me, I believe that wolves, like any other species unfortunately must be managed in today’s modern world. I do not agree that local Fish & Game or local residents are capable of responsibly monitoring and managing wolves due to the political-social situation in the 3 state area.” It is again your own anti-wolf, anti-court, anti-lawyer bias that makes this portion of MAD’s comments absolutely correct as well. WM, nothing MAD said makes him “disingenuous” to anything; you’re just not intellectually up to it.

      • JB Says:

        WM:

        Have you actually read the paper you just cited? I found the following passage particularly relevant to your assertion:

        “Given the different conclusions of these two papers, some perspective is required. In the first study, where vonHoldt et al. (2008) documented no gene flow into the high-density YNP, the analysis did not examine the surrounding GYA, with lower wolf density. Perhaps, by focusing just on YNP, which was likely at carrying capacity (and thus difficult for a dispersing wolf to successfully immigrate into), vonHoldt et al. (2008) did not examine gene flow at the appropriate subpopulation level. On the other hand, in this most recent study, the GYA may be an important region with some vacant habitat available for wolf dispersal and therefore bridging gene flow with YNP.

        In vonHoldt et al. (2008), the VORTEX simulation of the effects of inbreeding depression on wolf viability was also flawed by some key assumptions about wolf ecology and behaviour, including underestimating gene flow to the GYA subpopulation, exaggerating estimates of the deleterious effects of inbreeding on demography and overestimating the levels of gene flow required to avoid inbreeding depression. For example, the number of immigrants required to prevent ‘significant decreases’ in heterozygosity and increases in inbreeding was based on an arbitrary threshold of 1% over 100 years; because 100 years represents about 25 wolf generations, this threshold is 25 times higher than, for instance, the 1%per generation threshold used to derive the effective population size of ‘50’ in the famous ‘50–500’ rule (Soulé 1980). Overall, the analyses from this most recent study (vonHoldt et al. 2010), in concert with other findings of genetic rescue in wolves (Vila et al. 2003; Hedrick & Fredrickson 2010), obviate the concerns raised by the earlier vonHoldt et al. study about isolation of YNP wolves.”

        *Note: Hebblewhite points to flaws in the 2008 paper (the best science at the time) that were subsequently addressed in their follow up study. It seems your desire to peg the scientists who testified as biased has clouded your judgment concerning this issue.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        Not sure what the problem is. You know I have read it, and you will recall from previous discussions I recall you and I talked about these points (late October?), when the 2010 paper of vonHoldt, et al., was released. I think I even said then, that those who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs assertion of lack of genetic connectivity, felt like they and their work had been used improperly. The publication of the second paper, if you look closely, is an attempt to clear that up, and supports the greater level of connectivity than plaintiffs represented in court. Again, Dr. Mech as the FWS expert, represented the view that there was greater connectivity.

      • JB Says:

        The problem is your insistence on continuing to disparage well-regarded scientists based upon their disagreement. You are guilty of the very bias that you accuse others of.

  34. MAD Says:

    mikarooni, you’re reply was much better than what I was thinking – thanks. All I can really say is that there are many legal advocates who misinterpret or misrepresent scientific findings to advance their agenda/cause. Defenders have become a huge organization that does a lot good things, but also does questionable things, IMHO. That’s why I stopped contributing to them, and I have met Rodger several times.

    I’m not defending their actions at all. I’m an advocate for science, pure and simple. Most ofbthe time the science favors the animals and not special interests like ranchers and hunters. il give you a good example. in 1989 I was at wolf conference in NYC at the Museum of Natural History. Dave Mech was there along with people from Defenders and a host of others – property rights folks, local land use planners, numerous biologists, botanists, etc. The topic was the potential reintroduction of the Eastern Timber Wolf (ETW) in the Adirondack Mtns (Defenders had funded a feasibility study). Mech gets up there and was speaking about the history of the ETW and how it was believed to be a separate species from the Gray wolf (which it is according to recent DNA studies). Mech then says that if wolves are reintroduced in the Northeast, within 10 years they will have be managed, similar to wolves in Minnesota & Alaska (meaning hunted or culled). The Defenders people went nuts. Mech just stood there and laughed and asked what are you gonna do when there are too many wolves in the area?

    Science is a neutral tool that unfortunately is used by biased parties seeking to advance their agenda. The science is neither good or bad, it’s the people who are behind it pushing their own causes.

    • WM Says:

      MAD,

      Actually, with your clarification on your postion you and are are pretty much in agreement. I keyed off the second paragraph of your first post, and if I misunderstood, my apologies. We are in agreement on the science, then.

      We do have some disagreement on the ability of states to be managers. I agree the 3 states, particularly as this saga continues to unfold leave something to be desired as “managers” of a delisted species. The problem is, and I have commented on this before here, there does not appear to be a desire or maybe even a federal statutory basis for FWS to be the “manager” of a delisted species, whose numbers and range may require control of sorts, in conjunction with state wildlife management objectives for other species.

      I have previously asked on this forum if anyone could shed light on this, because if FWS could or wanted to be a manager of a delisted species (asserting themselves as manager in WY under the equivalent of a an acceptable plan), the delisting in ID and MT could have gone forward absent the DPS issue on which Molloy ruled and threw sand into the gears of delisting.

      __

      Mik,

      I am trained as a scientist and a lawyer.

      I am not “anti-wolf.” I have consistently advocated for the middle ground, and the approved state plans that support a fair number of wolves, with extensive monitoring and management in conjunction with other wildlife objectives. I have also been critical of the EIS on the reintroduction which left alot of stuff out that should have been studied – most of it institutional deficiencies AND what happens at the point wolf numbers and distribution seem to require control when colliding with other state wildlife management objectives, and the management tools are not in place to implement actions.

      I am not “anti-court.” I have said many times Judge Molloy has ruled as he has been compelled to under the law, and even supported those decisions and the legal reasoning behind them on this forum.

      I am not anti-lawyer (well actually, I might be). However, I have been a very consistent critic of the use of esoteric legal arguments like the DPS technicalities that that has taken this matter to a place I believe no one expected it would.

      Plaintiffs have turned the science of NRM wolf recovery into a political circus because of advancement of this argument, we are seeing play out, while the science is sidelined. It might well lead to a really stupid political outcome, as is being witnessed by the current legislative proposals.

      I have to wonder if the Defenders, et al., lawyers when they sit down in strategy sessions with their clients ask each other, “what the hell did we just do?”

      • WM Says:

        MAD,

        edit: Actually, with your clarification on your postion, you AND I are pretty much in agreement……..

  35. ProWolf in WY Says:

    This article actually made CNN today. While reading it online there were plenty of “Canadian wolves,” wolves are going to attack children,” “wolves are eating all of the elk,” and “let’s put wolves in Central Park or (insert city name here).” There were also lots of comments from people who were the opposite. It makes me curious what would happen if more articles like this or about buffalo would hamper tourism.

  36. freeanclear Says:

    why do you want to hamper tourism? Many of those who benefit from tourism are finacial and speakup for these issues to others outside of the boundaries of these three states. You are targeting people who either have no feeling either way or those who also support your thinking. Wh would you want to punish them.?

    • ProWolf in WY Says:

      Freeandclear I never once said I WANTED to hamper tourism. I was curious if people knew this if that would happen.

  37. Phil Says:

    Hey everyone. It’s been a while since I posted, but had to post on an issue such as this one.

    Elk275: I see your character through your comments similar to many hunters in the state of basically trying to segregate yourselves from teh rest of the country. I have never read or heard of so many complains from citizens of any states that feel so strongly against the federal government or anyone outside of their states boarder boundaries. Yes, you have rivalries within states, such as Michigan and Ohio, but that is mainly sports related. When it comes to such issues as politics and managing of wildlife, people such as yourself go out of their ways to push others not directly related to the states to stay out of their business. The problem is that wildlife is not yours or yours or your states, it is one aspect that brings about the beauty of this country that we ALL reside on.

    The Wisconsin issue on wolves is confusing. The Michigan and Minnesota one is simple enough to understand (not hunting for a period of 5 years after/if they are delisted), but Wisconsin is extremely confusing to predict as to what will happen.

    I have read this many times before, but I will never understand why biologists and scientists are not given the chance to work their knowledgeable minds to make the conclusion on what should or should not occur on wildlife.

    Wolverines in the state of Michigan (The Wolverine State) have become extinct. The last one passed away from natural causes a year ago. I have not heard of any mention from anyone significant to list them as endangered or threatened in the state. I believe eventually either the DNR or Fish and Wildlife will step in and reintroduce Canadian wolverines back into the state. Poaching and public hunting have down-graded their populations for the past couple decades.

    It seems like most of the talk on these forums are about the legislators that are against wolves, but there are a good amount that are for wolves and other wildlife, such as Cardin, Peters (Michigan), amongst others. But, I recieved an email a few days ago from Jim and Jamie Dutcher (Living with Wolves) who have sent their own draft on wolves to the congress. I do not want to post it on here because it is long, but in the email it also mentioned two government officials who sent “Cover Letters” to the congress hoping to persuade the congress not to delist wolves and change the ESA. Each of the government officials (Former Senator John Tunney and current Governor Lincoln D. Chafee (D-Rhode Island). I do not know the just details of how direct the Dutcher and the two government officials are in partnership, but in an email response, Jim Dutcher mentioned that Governor Lincoln and former Senator John had spent sometime with him and his wife working with many wolf packs.

    WM: “…fair number of wolves…”? Maybe I am wrong, but isn’t the thinking of Idaho and Montana to increase the wolf hunt quotes each year?

    JB: I am in agreeance with you in regards to WM. I truly can see WM as a lawyer with his knowledge on how politics works and such other factors, but I do not see his side in continous talks about politics and government officials stepping in and overseeing what scientists and biologists observe through experiences and data collection. For example; if we take the ariel killings of wolves in Alaska, many of the biologists in the major universities in the state do not agree with the government’s position on the issue due to their beliefs of what the effects come about due to the causes by wolves. I wrote to my senator last year in hoping something could be done to stop the ariel huntings in Alaska, and she responded by saying that “The killings are not backed up or justified by science…”.

  38. wolf moderate Says:

    ” I wrote to my senator last year in hoping something could be done to stop the ariel huntings in Alaska, and she responded by saying that “The killings are not backed up or justified by science…”.”

    That’s great that you have a Senator who is also a biologist. There should be more her! ; )

    • jon Says:

      I don’t know if you are joking or not, but nowhere did he say that his senator is a biologist. Good to have you back Phil.

  39. wolf moderate Says:

    I wrote to my senator last year in hoping something could be done to stop the ariel huntings in Alaska, and she responded by saying that “The killings are not backed up or justified by science…”.

    How would the Senator know whether aerial “hunting”(it’s a lie. It’s illegal to hunt from aircraft in AK.) “are not backed up or justified by science”?

    • jon Says:

      Wrong, wolves are hunted in Alaska by aircraft.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/Airborne%20Hunting.pdf

        Hunting from airplanes is illegal.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Wolf Mod,

        Look at the date on your release

        Here is a 2008 article
        http://www.slate.com/id/2199140/

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Immer,

        I have read that article. People do not understand the difference between aerial gunning and aerial hunting. Aerial gunning is when a state representative or resident of the state that is directed to manage a wolf pack. AK is so vast that the most fiscally responsible way is through aerial gunning. Aerial hunting is illegal. Are you saying the link that I posted is no longer relevent because it’s from 2004? Do you have a newer law? I do not trust site suchas the one you posted. Just reading it you (I) can tell they are biased.

      • jon Says:

        what does supposedly being biased according to you have to do with telling the truth? Wolves are killed by aerial gunners in Alaska. If you don’t believe it, oh well, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Check out the link I posted.

      • mikarooni Says:

        Probably the spelling…

      • jon Says:

        When people fly in airplanes and shoot wolves, it’s called an aerial hunt. Deal with it.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Jon,

        It’s not difficult. If aerial HUNTING (predatory control) is legal please post a link to a government site saying so. I went to Alaska f&G and looked all over. Aerial hunting is illegal. Sorry dude! We are entiltled to our own opinions…not our own facts🙂

      • jon Says:

        http://alaskadispatch.com/dispatches/news/8228-feds-ok-aerial-wolf-hunt-on-alaskas-unimak-island

        Aerial hunting still goes on in Alaska. I don’t know why you cannot accept this fact.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Jon,

        I’m not sure if you are serious or not, but that is a proposal. Also, It wouldn’t be aerial hunting, it would be predatory control or “aerial gunning” by a state representative. It’s not a bunch of rednecks flying around blasting wolves out of the sky.

        According to that article, it seems that using planes and choppers to remove the problem wolves or whole packs might be warranted.

      • jon Says:

        Feds ok aerial hunt, what does this tell you wolf mod? it’s called an aerial hunt because that is what it is.

      • jon Says:

        the shooters who participate in these aerial hunts may be rednecks, I don’t know, but it is what it is and that is an aerial hunt. They are blasting wolves from the sky. That is kind of the whole point of an aerial hunt.

      • jon Says:

        All I wanted to really show you that is aerial hunting of wolves still goes on. If you don’t want to believe this, oh well.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        I give up. You do not get it or just do not agree w/ predatory control or something. It’s all good, they will cull the population of wolves so the caribou can rebound. I would have liked to see a state directive or something. All you’ve posted are proposals. If this is happening a state agency would have information on it.

        Good nite. Been fun/interesting as usual ; )

      • Elk275 Says:

        Jon

        If aerial wolf hunting is going on in Alaska it would be by authorization of the state or federal governments that is the law and would most likely be conducted by the government hunters or by contract government hunters.

        First one needs a 180 HP PA 18 Super Cub on skis, the plane will use 10 to 12 gallons of gas per hour at approximately $7 dollars a gallon for fuel or approximately $75 an hour. The plane is worth over $150,000 and that type of flying is extremely dangerous. The true cost of operating a Super Cub is $200 to $250 an hour in Alaska. With the price of fur, I do not think that there are many wolf hunters making a living aerial hunting or would want to risk a wrecking a plane or serious accident.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        wolf mod,
        not for argument sake, but it’s in the semantics, illegal, but at times sanctioned. I realize, besides poison, it’s the most efficient way to cull wolves. This little side debate will be one of the reasons to read Bob Hayes’ “Wolves of the Yukon” when it comes out.

        Elk 275

        The cost stats you gave have been my counter point to the argument that this type of hunting **has been** for the benefit of subsistence hunters. An awful lot of meat can be purchased for that $200 to $250 an hour, with very little chance of damage to plane or self

      • jon Says:

        Immer, I posted this great article a month ago about Bob hayes. read it.I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you haven’t read it already. He believes a wolf cull is not worth it. It’s costs too much money and is not effective.

        http://www.yukon-news.com/news/21266/

      • jon Says:

        “Hayes looks at how Alaskans have driven bears and wolves away from Anchorage and Fairbanks for many decades. The result: a dramatic rise in the number of moose nearby, of up to 100 moose for every 100 kilometres, compared to the Yukon average of 15 moose over the same area.

        That’s a sevenfold increase in density. It’s also replacing wilderness with something else.

        “It is wildlife farming,” writes Hayes. “Is that what we want in the Yukon?”

        This is not merely a philosophical concern. Tourists flock to the Yukon in large part because of the allure of its wilderness. “They may not want to meet these dangerous beasts close up, but most tourists revel in simply knowing that grizzly bears and wolves exist and they could be just around the next bend in the river,” Hayes writes.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Jon,

        Thanks, I have read the article. I think when the book comes out, it will compliment Wolfer in it’s story, and philosophy.

        I have Cat Urbigkit’s book on order. I’ll let you know my take on it.

        Also, do you ever sleep?

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Immer,

        not to minimize what that idiot in WI did, but this case still sticks in my mind when I’m out and about in the woods.
        http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2004/11/22_kelleherb_huntershooting/

        Why is it OK for blacks to call “us” “white boy” and hawaiiians can call us “howlie” (sp)? When I was stationed in CA, many black guys would say wus up white boy. I’d respond by saying “not much black boy.” It’s weird they didn’t like it lol.

      • WM Says:

        Defenders has, what appears to be, a very good factual history of aerial gunning in AK (albiet with the usual advocacy twist that takes it out of an objective review):
        http://www.defenders.org/programs_and_policy/wildlife_conservation/imperiled_species/wolves/wolf_recovery_efforts/alaska_wolves/background/history_of_wolf_control_in_alaska/

        Aerial control of wolves, in fact, is a current practice by the AK fish and game agency. Here is one example presently under review on Unimak Island. Read the Environmental Assessment for their reasoning for it as regards the caribou herd there:
        http://alaska.fws.gov/nwr/planning/nepa/pdf/izembek_ea.pdf

    • Immer Treue Says:

      Wolf Mod,

      I’m well aware of that story. The animosity between Wisconsin “white” hunters and the Hmong is a long going feud.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called honkie, f@*&^n honkie, honk, white man … I don’t take it personal and consider the source, largely ignorant people who have an ancestral animosity, perhaps in some cases well deserved, and move on.

      In the same breath, after a discussion with one of my MN neighbors, I was told to be careful what I say(political ideology on the opposite pole)because I was a foreigner in the area, and this from a fairly well educated individual.

  40. wolf moderate Says:

    “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called honkie, f@*&^n honkie, honk, white man … I don’t take it personal and consider the source, largely ignorant people who have an ancestral animosity, perhaps in some cases well deserved, and move on.”

    That’s my exact view on the subject. It’s just that when MSNBC says I’m a racist, yet when “minorities” do it they or the left think nothing of it. Usually, flagrant white racists are uneducated and ignorant. Not unlike the experiences that you’ve had w/ minorities calling you names.

    I listen to Michael Savage and though he is very extreme, many of his points are right on! “If you don’t pay taxes, you don’t vote”. Makes sense to me. Seems like a conflict of interest to me to have 50% of the population or so voting themselves benefits…

    Anywho, we are WAY off topic. Gotta go do some mountain biking. Have a good one Immer.

  41. william huard Says:

    Wolf Moderate-
    There is a reason why Alaska doesn’t post the information about Aerial Hunting. When the idiot palin was Governor she had then Lt Governor Parnell trick the voter with a ballot initiative that worded the issue about Aerial Hunting in such a confusing way that you thought you were voting against it when in actuality you voted for Aerial Hunting. Polls in the state consistently favored NO Aerial Hunting, but a loophole is what is used against a Federal Law that bans Aerial Hunting. Groups like SCI and Sportsmen for Sportsmen (where Corey Rossi is from)have heavily influenced this “game park model” of less predators means more wild game. Rossi is a flunkie who is an old family friend of palin, he doesn’t even have any degree in biology or the sciences. Your comment “It’s all good” shows you have no idea about the larger ramifications of these wildlife decisions by a Board of Game that has not one representative from a scientific, biological or environmental perspective- they are all hunters and trappers

    • wolf moderate Says:

      “Your comment “It’s all good” shows you have no idea about the larger ramifications of these wildlife decisions by a Board of Game that has not one representative from a scientific, biological or environmental perspective- they are all hunters and trappers”

      Most of my family lives in AK. I’ve been there several times. Not sure about the biological perspectives since there seems to be perspectives from every interest group imaginable. Kinda like the global warming fiasco. Anywho, there are lots of predators in AK. Alaskans get pissed when outsiders view thir state as a national park. ANWR drilling is an example. The biggest topic that gets Alaskans really pissed is the natual gas pipeline. Alaskans realize that there is plenty of land for muliple purposes. People outside the state want to make it a park or zoo for the east coast elites🙂 “it’s all good”, because common sense prevails, not extremists from outside groups and lobbyists. Thank god!

      • william huard Says:

        “It’s all good, because common sense prevails, not extremists from outside groups and lobbyists.”
        You mean common sense decisions by the Board Of Game like stripping a buffer zone around Denali National Park so that a part time trapper that has a small tourism safari business to trap an alpha female Toklat wolf for her pelt- a family of wolves that have been studied since the 40’s? You mean common sense like that?

    • william huard Says:

      Rereading the history of Aerial Gunning in Alaska made me sick. One of the ads in 2004 click on “placed ads” was disturbing. It really makes me think how EVIL people are when they want to get their way. “You just can’t let them run wild”

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Yeah exactly like that. What is wrong w/ that? Is trapping not part of a history in Alaska and the lower 48 for that matter? I mean, I do not understand what the issue is. Seems like a reality that will not be ending for many generations to come. Not sure if there is a problem w/ trapping or not. Personally I could care less, so long as they aren’t having an impact on the longterm survival of the species. This is ideological thus a waste of time to discuss.

      • jon Says:

        Wolf mod, the issue is a lot of people have a problem with trapping and just because something is apart of history in a state, does not mean it’s ok to everyone.

  42. Richard G. Says:

    Thanks Jon for wolves of the Yukon. Once about fifteen years ago in Cape May, New Jersey their was an outbrake of rabies in racoons. What the township did, to solve this problem, was to use food laced with a chemical to sterialize the coons so offspring would decline, well it worked. It would have been too difficult to set traps and large groups of people would be against this. Now areial hunting for what it is, is disgusting to me, I mention before I have three dogs and now two cats,all strays. A person who has a heart for animals does not enjoy seeing animals run down to a state exhaustion , to be shot dead, sorry can’t buy it at all. Animals and children are defenseless against the cruel behavior of some people.

  43. Phil Says:

    Elk275: Ariel hunting is not only done by the feds in Alaska, it is also done by public hunters. When Palin was in office, she offered a bounty on front right paws of wolves and bears that were brought to her via the ariel huntings. From what I have read, Palin rearranged and twisted information to get the bill passed by a citizen vote. The same citizens of Alaska voted not to go through the ariel hunts prior to the elections a few years back.
    http://www.grizzlybay.org/SarahPalinInfoPage.htm

    Wolf Moderate: It is biologists from the University of Alaska and other major universities in and surrounding the state. One of the leading biologists at the University of Alaska strongly condemmed the ariel hunts. I am not sure of his name, but he had researched predator/prey behaviors and affects in Alaska since 1968.

    What the ariel hunts do is no normal and traditional hunting strategy. I am sure most of you know already, but the hunts follow the wolves around until they are tired and worn out. The gunmen eventually shoot the wolves at a still position to where they die from the wound. Other kills occur prior to the wolves being wornout from the chase and suffer through the pain of the wounds. I know people believe wolves have high stamina, but not when it comes to extensive full speeds.

    Wolf moderate: You cannot compare the ariel hunts in Alaska on wolves and bears to that of climate change. Climate change is backed up by most scientists, but there are still a good amoung that disagree with the changes of climate being man caused. With the ariel hunts, almost every scientist and biologist in the state disagrees with this way of management. Now, I have not spoken with all experts, but from what I have read, people I have spoken with, experience in the state and other factors I have gathered that almost every major scientist and biologist who works in the state wrote letters to the governor to stop the ariel hunts. I believe the exact number was something like 27 biologists and 12 scientists in the state.

    wolf moderate: I don’t understand your “extremist” point of view? Isn’t an extremist someone who is going out of their ways to illegally kill wildlife such as wolves? Isn’t an extremist someone who does what they want even thought the government disallowed them by law to act upon those actions? Isn’t an extremist someone like Palin that twisted information around to fit her agenda and brainwash the people she is suppose to take care of? Isn’t an extremist someone who proposes 5 or more bills in hope that atleast one is approved that serves no significant purpose but that of theirs? I do not see Alaska as a national park or zoo, but if you have extremists who want to gun anything and everything that is not human, then maybe it should be protected in similar fashion to that of a zoo or national park. If I can remember correct, wasn’t it Palin that said “There is always room for wildlife next to the mashed potatoes.”?

    William: You are exactly right in why Alaska refuses to post information about the ariel hunts. There hasn’t been a credible source out of the state that has given a solid reason to the ariel hunts. The problem is that no matter what anyone says who lives outside or in the state, as long as the governor is up for the ariel killings, then they will continue. A majority of the governors and senators in the country condem the killings, as do the biologists and the majority of the citizens in the state, but they continue to occur. It is truly sickening.

    Jon: Thanks!

    I do not live in Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska or Montana, but each state, with the exception of Alaska, are in the top 10 states doing well through the recession. The top two factors as to why the states are doing well are, in order; farming and tourism. For anyone to say that they do not want outsiders to have a choice in how wildlife should be taken care of does not see the realistic picture. Wildlife belongs to no one but nature. Without tourism, mainly coming from outsiders of lengthy distances of the three Northern Rocky Mountain states, a good amount of the economy that comes in to these states would not be viable. Therefore; people who visit Yellowstone on a yearly basis from Florida, California, New York, Oklahome, etc should have a say in what happens to wildlife. The states will take their money but not give them a voice in why they visit the states? The reason why a good amount of hunters in the three states become angry and do not want outsiders to have a say in the wildlife residing in the three states is because they know a majority of the general public is in favor of protecting and preserving wildlife. That’s why they come to those states, is it not? What other tourism attraction does Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have? Yes, there are other smaller venues, but nothing like observing the great nature that proclaims the states and its wildlife.

    I seriously cannot believe what wildlife has anything to do with people’s race?

    • william huard Says:

      Phil
      These people view wildlife from a narrow consumptive viewpoint. It’s all about the pelt or the hunt. The most striking example is when the Board of Game would give the wolves no quarter and refused to provide a buffer zone for a wolf pack that had been studied since the 1940’s. The alpha female was killed for her pelt- a pack that provided invaluable research and should have been viewed as a prized national resource not only for their wildlife watching revenue generation. The idiot trapper got what 75.00 for the pelt- and turned the pack structure into chaos.

    • IDhiker Says:

      I agree with the comment that wildlife do not belong to anyone, nor necessarily to any state. I believe that as Americans, we all have an interest in what goes on. For example, some believe I have no say in the state of Idaho because I live just over the border, and yet I live closer to most of Idaho’s wilderness areas than most Idahoans. I would also bet that I spend more time in Idaho’s wild country than 98% of Idaho residents. I believe I have a valid interest in what’s going on.

      For those who complain about “out-of-staters,” perhaps they’d like all the people from other states to move to their state so they have a voice. Some issues are national concerns, some are not. Wolves and endangered species are a national concern.

      • jon Says:

        I do not like these minority groups thinking they should be the only ones that have a say in “managing” wildlife. In Washington for instance, the majority voted to ban using dogs to hunt cougars and now hunters are trying to bring it back. The majority voted no to using dogs and it should stay that way.

    • Elk275 Says:

      The reason Montana is doing better in the this recession than other states is the Bakken Field. If you do not know what the Bakken Field is look it up.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Yeah. Parts of WY and the Dakotas are present day boomtowns (unsure of MT). A buddy recently left for the oil fields. Until this catches on http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=algae-biofuel-of-future we will need fossil fuels.

      • Elk275 Says:

        Most of my friends in Billings who stuck out the down turn in the oil business are now worth millions. The northeast corner of Montana has become a boom town. There are hotels uncontruction in Sidney, Montana that are completely booked up for a year in advance once they open.

        The money is coming into Billings now and I am starting to see Bakken money in Bozeman.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Cool. Glad to hear someone’s making some money. Personally, I think that there are alternate fuels available, but the government is in a partnership w/ private industry to bilk the citizens out of money (taxes for govt and profits for industry). Once we reach “peak oil”, industry will start rolling out new products to make up for the decline in fossil fuels.

        There have been a number of rather large oil discoveries coupled w/ new methods to extract fuels that were once too costly, so peak oil may not come for some time…

        I mean, there are so many alternate fuels available. What else could the reason for not bringing them to market? Biodiesel, hydrogen, solar, etc…Just doesn’t make sense to me. Elk, do you think there is an agreement between govt and oil companies to use up fossil fuels (or for some other unknown reason) prior to shifting to alternate fuels? Dunno, just kind of wondering what you think.

  44. SEAK Mossback Says:

    Regarding aerial shooting in Alaska, much of it is done by private “pilot-gunner teams” that are permitted to shoot wolves in areas that have been identified for predator control. It was a policy initiated by Frank Murkowski about as soon as he arrived in office as a way to implement predator control cheaply with leverage, and initially I think he initially envisioned it as being the only means used.

    However, as Elk275 said, the economics are not really in favor of aerial shooting. My uncle and his best friend from the army bought a T-craft on skis and a Parker shotgun and went into business right after returning from service in WWII, but there was a considerable bounty then and their costs were much lower, particularly for the airplane, which were then manufactured cheaply in huge numbers in 1946-48 when it was assumed they would be widely owned by returning WWII pilots like a family car (proved not to be the case). Now, the economics are ridiculous and I wonder how many of these guys have told the companies insuring their aircraft what they are doing. Meanwhile, as more and more local advisory chairs from isolated communities have appeared before the Board of Game pleading for predator relief, authorized predator control areas have been greatly expanded. So, the effort of pilot-gunner teams with a lot at stake and little financial incentive are spread over a greater area. Given no change in predation by bears, which are usually a major factor in areas with low prey density, it is pretty essential to remove 80% of wolves for at least 5 years or more to have much effect (read Mark McNay’s peer review of Lolo wolf control), and even then the effects on the prey population may not be long-lasting. If predator control isn’t done effectively enough, you can remove a large number of wolves from a large area on a sustained basis for little or no apparent benefit. From what I’ve gathered from the news, state biologists in helicopters have increasingly been used afterward to try to bring wolf numbers down to objectives in specific areas.

    Although the term “war on predators” is a sensationalized term thrown about liberally by opponents, predator removal can certainly take on the attributes of war as we’ve come to know it in recent years if it becomes a waste of both life and coin for a cause that, although justifiable in the view of many, proves highly elusive.

    William, I agree that decision to eliminate the Denali buffer was unjustifiable on some basic grounds. Predator control proponents have some tractable arguments — predator control can only be conducted on limited areas with national parks and many other federal areas generally off limits, a larger prey population supports more wolves as well (Ralph has made the point here that loss of elk populations does not benefit to anybody — except maybe ranchers), etc. However, complete removal of a long debated buffer for wolves of considerable viewing value to park visitors represented both a failure to do any reasonable economic analysis and a failure to consider allocating to a particular use. The management agency is supposed to stick to biological questions (which may not necessarily have supported the closure) and stay clear of allocation but the Board of Game is the entity charged with allocating and in this case they didn’t do their job by just saying it is not biologically justified and leaving it at that.

  45. jon Says:

    Montana House votes to nullify Endangered Species Act

    http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/article_85f9f742-3c64-11e0-a5ec-001cc4c002e0.html

    thoughts anyone?

    • Immer Treue Says:

      I believe just prior to the extension of the Bush tax cuts, there were approximately 20,000 Montanans whose unemployment insurance was about to run out… hmmmm.

    • Phil Says:

      Jon: The funniest line in the article is “”We are still part of the United States of America. Just because we don’t agree with one part of the federal law does not mean we continue to go our own way,” said Schweitzer, a Democrat.” Really? In another portion of the article he mentioned that farmers should shoot and kill wolves harassing their livestock. Isn’t that contradicting what he is saying? So, the rest of the country must obey by the laws, but him and citizens in his state should not and kill a protected species? Isn’t that going their own way?

      • IDhiker Says:

        The Montana legislature is a joke. All they are doing is discussing and voting on ideological issues that are sure to be shot down as unconstitutional, instead of working on the betterment of the state. Hopefully, people elsewhere won’t get the impression all of us living here are fools.

        Schweitzer definitely threw fuel on this fire with his letter to Salazar – and he now needs to accept responsibility for that move.

      • Salle Says:

        Yup. You know, I have always been skeptical of this governor, just struck me as “something wrong” with his rhetoric up to this point. And I actually thought that there couldn’t be a governor in the western US as ignorant as Butch Otter but you know what? There is, and he is the gov. of Montana.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        Nullification of one law quickly spreads to another and another, and the country disappears.

        In Idaho the legislature nullified the new health care act (“Obamacare”).

        More generally read this from a tea party orientation publication “States to become referees of feds’ constitutionality. New proposal would let committees review legislation for nullification.

        The article has it just backwards as it says the federal government serves at the pleasure of the states. In fact that is the very issue the Constitutional Convention was held — to give the central government authority to make the 13 former colonies into a nation-state because they were quickly drifting apart.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        From what I have heard in Arizona, if one was on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and it has been deemed that the individual has no means by which to pay for it, they will be dropped from the list. I have just “heard” this on a talk show. If this is true, and I say if, has the conservative state of Arizona formed their own “Death Panel”?

      • WM Says:

        Immer,

        States have had to make hard choices on how far their Medicare money goes for more and more people while the funds remain the same or are less. For several years now Oregon has had a schedule of what conditions or procedures will be covered, called “healthcare rationing,” that results in the best bang for the buck, so to speak. It has been controversial during its tenure, and criticized extensively, but seems to be working….for some. That means if your long term prognosis after having a particular procedure would not prolong your life or improve your health significantly you are out of luck.

        I will speculate more and more states will go to this (maybe some already have) as the funds must be stretched further.

        Here is an article on this complex issue with emphasis on the AZ solution, and the situation you describe:

        http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Bioethicsforum/Post.aspx?id=5034&blogid=140

      • Immer Treue Says:

        WM,

        I’m not arguing the point that difficult decisions need to be made. Nobody lives forever, however if you either have health insurance, money, or both one has a better chance to live longer, with a better quality to that life.

        I never understood the hyperbole of the whole death panel thing that came out of Palinville. If a state cannot afford this type of care, how can a family be expected to bankrupt themselves in the case of a terminally ill family member? I don’t know if I’m comparing apples and oranges here, and if feedback contradicts my logic, that’s fine.

        The question still remains, where is the indignation from the extreme right on these issues, because I don’t see that much of a difference?

      • Salle Says:

        This essay was posted online this morning, I think it’s the “big picture” reality we face as a nation and should be given some serious thought by everyone who wants this country to be what it claims to be:

        http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/02/20

        IMHO this says it all…

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Good post Salle,

        Democrats also help conservatives by what a friend has called Democratic Communication Disorder. Republican conservatives have constructed a vast and effective communication system, with think tanks, framing experts, training institutes, a system of trained speakers, vast holdings of media, and booking agents. Eighty percent of the talking heads on TV are conservatives. Talk matters because language heard over and over changes brains. Democrats have not built the communication system they need, and many are relatively clueless about how to frame their deepest values and complex truths.

        The Republican Noise machine by David Brock explains this paragraph, the seeds of which were planted since the defeat of Goldwater in the 60’s
        http://motherjones.com/politics/2004/09/republican-noise-machine

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Salle,

        I do not agree w/ that essay at all, but it would be nice if that’s the way the world worked. Why do we deserve all those entitlements when many parts of the world struggle to even drink clean water?

        Do you think that we as a country can compete on a global scale while keeping our standard of living at or near current levels? Personally, I think the American Dream is due for a severe correction. If Wisconsin closes tax loopholes, taxes the rich more, increases corporate tax…they will just ship operations to another state or another country all together.

        With so much suffering in the world, what makes us so much better? Why do we deserve health insurance, a 2000 sq ft home, Air conditioning, 2 cars, motorhomes, iphones (any phones), etc…It’s because we were able to provide goods and services that others wanted that couldn’t produce for themselves. Now other nations are becoming more self sufficient and thus need less of our products. Couple that with the excessive “entitlements” that US citizens receive, and it’s pretty easy to see how bad the future is for us.

        Just my thoughts, been wrong before, could be wrong about the future for the US too.

      • Salle Says:

        wolf Moderate, all I can say is, oh well. You can’t sew the brain to the skull, the stupid will remain stupid, to quote a Russian proverb. The point is, if you don’t understand why this is happening and what it really is about, you won’t be getting it anytime soon.

        The author is a linguist and makes some very good points about dialog and its uses in political rhetoric – and uses in political environment development.

        Linguistics is a very profoundly important route of study of human interaction though most folks have either never heard of it and/or haven’t the breadth of understanding to realize how important the intricacies of speech really are to what we think and believe and that guide our actions.

      • WM Says:

        I think Wolf Moderate is correct in the belief that the American Dream is due for a correction. We have come closer to socialism of sorts in our last twenty to thirty years, and much of that is a good thing. We have expanded our middle class (in part with the aid of extensive collective bargaining) However, it is becoming clear that having a large middle class, with continuing expectations of improved material purchases as well as health care and a decnet retirement, is making it tougher to be competitive in a world economy with workers who have nothing operating in countries with few environmental, safety and worker protection laws.

        This is a stark reality and outsourcing will continue because of it. I saw an interview with a computer component manufacturer recently in which he said the reason we are able to keep engineering and technology jobs in the US is BECAUSE we can ship the manufacturing to China (he wanted the manufacturing jobs in the US but we could not be competitive here).

        We have institutionalized a right to pensions and healthcare in government, and with the aid of collective bargaining it is tough to reverse these trends. Many who post here will hate this comment, but we truly run the risk of not having government deliver even the most basic of services because of these benefit burdens which go on and on and on. Constriction of tax dollars keeps us paying these fixed obligations which increase in cost over time, while the remaining dollars for actual delivery of services falls off dramatically.

        The private sector finally figured this out when health care costs and pensions basically bankrupted the auto industry and made Detroit a ghost town. This cannot be sustained in government (I say government which also mean schools, universities, special districts, etc.), without consequences.

        There is some harsh reality ahead that is going to require everybody to take a hit, and those who do not believe this have their heads in the sand. Certainly those who would tend to lose benefits will be defensive for good reason, as it affects them directly. That is only natural.

      • Salle Says:

        This article presents an example of what is wrong here and everywhere though it is somewhat indirectly related to the discussion here, it is pertinent:

        http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/02/20/sk.taking.ted.talk/index.html?hpt=C2

        I would suggest reading the books written by this person as well.

      • JB Says:

        WM:

        I don’t necessarily disagree with your assessments regarding our competitiveness; however, the author of the essay is correct in asserting that we (Congress) have created our own crisis by continuing to increase the federal budget (both Rs and Ds) while offering more and more tax breaks–especially to the rich. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you reduce your revenue and increase your expenditures you’re in for a bumpy ride, economically speaking.

        A cynic might also point out that we have spent the past 50 years subsidizing the defense of Europe; their ability to offer such marvelous social programs is, at least in part, a function of this subsidization.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        Indeed we have not called for Europe to pay its fair share of defense obligations for a very long time, and that has to stop.

        My argument of non competitiveness extended beyond just federal government. Rather it included state and local employment as well. Across the country states and cities are struggling to balance budgets with huge payrolls that are a constant drain on dwindling revenues. Here is an example – a guy with an 8th grade education (voluntary high school drop out) gets a job filling pot holes for the city, making $15 dollars an hour, with benefits in 1990 (has no real skill base, and filling pot holes require few, you can also insert whatever other function you want here). He keeps the same job for 20 plus years, and now the wage is near $30 per hour, his paid leave is up to a month or more a year, 2 weeks of sick leave which he uses whether he needs it or not, he has a pension linked to the increased salary, 401k match, health, vision, dental. He is doing exactly the same job, he has job security through collective bargaining just like he got all the additions to his compensation package. And, he looks to stay another 10 years. He bellyaches that he and the union won’t accept an increase in co-pay or deductible for a very handsome healthcare plan, and he wants a raise next year which exceeds cost of living (oh by the way the pension clause in his collective bargaining agreement already has a cost of living provision).

        Tax revenues have decreased, and this very secure public employee is untouchable, while private sector jobs (which according to most studies are much less secure, and the trend for private sector employment in comparable skills had dropped several dollars an hour over the last four years). Census data collected last year will confirm this when released late this year or next.

        Net effect for this scenario: you get half as many pot holes filled for twice as much cost, AND you can look foward to the value of what your tax dollar buys decreasing for the next 10 years this guy is on the payroll. This is another drain on non-competitiveness because the government response will be to increase taxes to offset.

        In the private sector this has killed the auto industry, aerospace, and other heavy manufacturing. Industry is moving more and more jobs off shore. And this is just one more example of why – local and state government being asked to do more while greedy public employees (substitute the word teacher, janitor, administrator, cop here) defend their turf, too.

        Please don’t label me a conservative wacko for raising this, because I am, for good or bad, mostly a D, who believes in social responsibility and a large middle class.

      • JB Says:

        WM:

        Our lack of competitiveness has nothing to do with public sector jobs. Many public sector employees have already taken pay cuts as well as forced furloughs in order to help their respective states deal with their self-inflicted (too many tax cuts) budget crises. The collective bargaining “right” of public sector employees–that which has been the source of controversy in Wisconsin and Ohio– is important, as most public sector employees are already disadvantaged (relative to private sector peers) by an inability to strike. Moreover, public employees already earn (depending upon whose estimating) between 6% and 9% less than similarly-educated peers.

        After years of tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy it is instructive to examine who the Republicans would cast as “the bad guy”: public employees, unions, and those overpaid folks at the bottom. Have you heard one Republic call for higher taxes to help us make it through the budget crises. Nope. Rather, despite the increase in wealth disparity between rich and poor, they continue to target the middle and lower classes. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Wall Street (not the public sector) caused this economic crisis; but now that there are budget deficits someone has to pay the piper–if you’re a Republican, it might as well be the little guy.

        To top it all off, we could potentially help our competitiveness with other nations by taking the obligation to provide health care away from the private sector and putting it in the government’s hands–that way, small businesses would not have to deal with the increasing health care costs that, in large part, are driving jobs over seas. But rather than embracing such a solution, the Republicans have dug in for a fight, which only helps to ensure more jobs will end up overseas. Of course, they don’t care, so long as big corporations get theirs.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        I’m employed by the federal government and served 8 years in the military. I can confidently say that government workers AND military personnel are way overpaid for the services they provide vs the pay and BENEFITS they receive. Do not get me started on firefighters. I’m so jealous of there “boonoggle” of a career. Wow. Only 50% or so in this country even pay taxes. If it weren’t for “the rich” we’d be done for. What do you think the rich do w/ there money? Store it under there mattress or something? No…They either invest it or put it in the bank (where the bank loans it to others), or spends it (which employs people). Geez. Please do not glorify govt workers (I am one), they feel they are entitled to everything an do very little. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

      • JB Says:

        “If it weren’t for “the rich” we’d be done for. What do you think the rich do w/ there money?”

        What would we do without the rich? Really? REALLY?! Historically, the wealthiest taxpayers in the United States have paid tax rates of between 60 and 80% during times of economic hardship (e.g., WWI, Great Depression, WWII). Today they pay 35% (http://www.ntu.org/tax-basics/history-of-federal-individual-1.html). Don’t even get me started on loopholes (and btw: you can’t take advantage of them if you can’t afford a tax attorney).

        Instead of of raising tax rates to deal with the crisis–which our country has always done–today we lower tax rates and give big breaks to the wealthy; meanwhile, the number of uninsured skyrockets and our infrastructure crumbles.

        I’m curious; where do you think the wealthy will go? In any other industrialized nation they would pay more in taxes (http://www.businesspundit.com/12-countries-with-the-highest-lowest-tax-rates/).

        – – – – –

        JB’s “how to” guide for creating a financial crisis:

        Step 1: Deregulate energy (Enron) the banks (Goldman-Sachs).
        Step 2: Lower taxes for the wealthy (i.e. decrease federal revenues).
        Step 3: Go to war on multiple fronts.

        (Also helpful, though not required: kill funding for higher education)

        Ta-da! You’ve just engineered a financial crisis!

      • Savebears Says:

        The Military is Way over paid?

        Boy you and I are going to disagree on this big time, I spent 26 years in the Military, I took a bullet for this country, I can’t do what I used to do and now, I am still fighting with them over my retirement benefits and just recently found out the hip replacement/reconstruction I had, may have to be done again! And I was overpaid……ya right!

      • JB Says:

        This article summarizes my views quite well:

        http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/madison_360/article_1e4e7a30-3dec-11e0-905e-001cc4c03286.html

        “Robert Reich, the liberal economist and former Labor secretary in the Clinton administration, adroitly summarized the national landscape in an online analysis on Huffington Post touching on Wisconsin protests:

        “The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against nonunionized, public-sector workers against nonpublic, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class,” Reich wrote.

        “By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.”

        He continues, “Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich – making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.”

      • Savebears Says:

        Wolf Moderate,

        You are way off base…I just watched a young man come home from serving his country, he now is missing both legs, 4 fingers on one hand, will never be able to enjoy what he grew up with, and the community had to raise over $70,000 so they can remodel his home, and help with the medical costs for the rest of his life!.

        After I left active duty in the military, I went back to school got a degree, and worked for a state agency, then when I would not toe the line to come up with the “right” thing to say to fit their agenda, all of a sudden, I was pretty much forced out, and I have been screwed with on my pension for over 5 years now..Take into account, I was an officer, I was not an enlisted man, but yet, I have been thrown by the side, I get a retirement check about once every three months, and that is if I call friends in the Military to help me, I call and bitch about this almost every single month to the VA and the DOD…

        When I went in in 1979, it was with a certain expectation, I do my job and I get my benefits, there was no talk of fucking around, it was a contract!

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Wolf Mod and others,

        Again, the complaining is now directed at the people who have jobs that no one else wanted because they were lower paying or lower status jobs. Now that so many are hurting, people are looking at the so called civil servants, not with good will and a bit of envy, but with the attitude of if I can’t have it, they shouldn’t either.

        JB,
        You are so correct. The Republican strategy is using divide and conquer, and it sure worked this last election. Wisconsin will be very interesting. If their governor holds on this year, all with the support of none other than the brothers Koch, he’ll be a good bet to run for the Presidency in 2016

      • wolf moderate Says:

        SB

        Let me rephrase that. Military are NOW overpaid. Starting in about the year 2000, military continually went up between 5-12% for several years. I was an E-6 at age 22 and was taking home $4,400 a month! No higher education! LOL. Take home, not gross. I view the military as a socialist institution. They pay for housing or give BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing), COLA, Clothing allowance (LOL), Seprats (Food Allowance), etc…All that on top of Base Pay! And you wonder why we are broke eh? I do agree w/ combat, flight, and hazardous duty pay.

        As far as putting one self in harms way? Well, now days it’s voluntary. If you are hurt while serving (physically, mentally, emotionally etc…) the VA will take care of you for life. They are a great benefit for returning vets.

        I trained w/ firefighters in the Bay Area. Oh dear god, what a joke. It’s unreal. Whatever, I’ll just watch from the sidelines, it’s obvious that we aren’t going to be able to sustain these ridiculous entitlements.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        SB,

        Not sure what you are talking about. If you serve over 20 yrs in the military on Active Duty you get 50% of base pay and then 2.5% a year for every yr beyond that. Sounds like you were a reservist or something.

        As for your injuries due to service, well I wish it were easier to get the benefits that you have EARNED. There is no doubt that we need to support troops that have been injured, BUT there is SO much fraud that the VA needs to really investigate the claims.

        The Iraqi veteran should be 100% service connected at over $2700 a month. It may take up to a year to receive this money (which IS ridiculous) but he will receive back pay eventually.

        Overall, returning vets are treated incredibly well. It’s not like when Vietnam vets returned…Thank God.

        Anywho, I guess I’m just unsure how we keep up w/ all these entitlement payments, the military industrial complex, and the generous pay and benefits that govt workers (incluing me) receive.

        No disrespect intended, just worried about the path that we are going down.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        ++Our lack of competitiveness has nothing to do with public sector jobs. Many public sector employees have already taken pay cuts as well as forced furloughs in order to help their respective states deal with their self-inflicted (too many tax cuts) budget crises…++

        Not really sure where to begin responding to that one JB. But let me begin at home. My wife is in a private sector job for a middle size company. Her pension was frozen three years ago, she had a 5 day furlough last year and it is up to 8 this year, she now pays for parking in downtown Seattle, and the health care coverage is narrower and the employee cost shares are higher. The whole set of reductions have resulted in about a 35% pay cut, which will carry forward, even if some elements of total compensation are ever restored. It is a big enough company that when we look at the benefit package Seattle city government or King County employees get, we all cringe and say how can that be paid for. I think they got a temporary five day furlough this year and that was it.

        I would have agreed with you that public sector jobs were 6 percent or more lower than equivalent public sector jobs four years ago. I do not believe that is true now for several reasons, and will say it is the reverse, with public employees noe making significantly more than some of their private sector counterparts, AND there has always been greater stability in the public sector. That means you are less likely to be laid off, which doesn’t always get factored in to the gap between private – public sector compensation discrepancies.

        Now, let me back off a bit and talk about how the public sector employee is paid, which by the way includes federal, state and local employees as I first said. You guys have already discussed the federal component (including the military service pay anomoly), which is generally paid by federal tax dollars or the good old (or is it new and ever increasing) price of the postage stamp, yet one more area that makes us less competitive.

        Based on your statements I think you don’t know so much about business and economics, including cost of goods or services sold, and business profitability. This is not unusual for public employees – I was one at one stage of my careeer, so I can relate, and won’t fault you for that.

        State and local government employees are paid from tax revenue streams, generally, and which are pretty stable and generally increasing over time (I will acknowledge the federal income tax cuts for the wealthy most of us all hate). The state and local taxes include real and personal property, business and occupancy taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes, and a big one – special use fees in the case of utilities for water, sewer, electricity and solid waste. If business do not make money, they don’t make profits, and in some cases don’t pay taxes. Governments do, however, find ways of closing budget gaps, with increasing use fees for services they provide, utilities being one of them. There is little oversight when a wastewater utility or the electric utility wants to increase rates to cover increasing labor costs, including those very handsome wage and benefit packages – ever hear of many being laid off from a utility function, JB?

        The point is, while times are good governments expand and provide more services at higher cost. When they contract, it is hugely difficult to take away from public employees. It is very easy in the case of private ones, where layoffs are frequent and negotiated concessions with unions occur or collective bargaining agreements get adjusted in a three year cycle or so.

        Your comments also tend to focus exclusively on big publicly traded corporate businesses, hence the references to Wall St. I do it too, because it is one of those low hanging fruits that is so easty to criticize, all for good reason. However, there are many, many private businesses which employ fewer than a couple of hundred people, and lots of mom and pop operations, all funded with private capital at risk to the owners, that cannot offer the kinds of wage and benefit packages that the public sector receives (equivalent educated folks included). A number of these folks have had to close their doors, lost entire family fortunes, and as a business owner rather than wage earner are not entitled to unemployment compensation.

        I will stay with the belief that the high cost of public sector jobs is contibuting to making the US less competitive, because there are so many public sector jobs and business directly or indirectly provides much of the revenue stream that fills the coffers that pay for those inflated public services. I know people who didn’t do Christmas cards or packages this year because of the cost of mailing, which incidentally pays for those very handsome Postal worker pensions.

        __

        I will agree with you on the health care issue and the need to wrestle it free from private interests. And, I won’t even touch the Medicare fraud issue.

      • JB Says:

        WM:

        Well, it has taken a while, but I see I’ve finally made the long list of people who you’ve called naive (if only indirectly). Let me see if a bit of clarification helps you understand why I think public sector jobs do little to hurt us competitively.

        First, recall that this argument came up in the context of our competition with other countries for jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government jobs account for only 8% of all jobs in the US (and about 4% of all Americans are employed in govt.). Here is the breakdown of where those jobs are (these are 2006 statistics):

        Federal
        1,774,000 Federal government civilian employees (excluding postal service)
        615,000 Postal service
        1,172,913 Military enlisted
        230,577 Military Officers

        State and Local
        2,424,000 State government (excludes education and hospitals)
        5,594,000 Local government (excludes education and hospitals)
        Total: 11,810,490 government jobs

        Two points are immediately relevant: First, government jobs make up a relatively small percentage of the jobs available (8%); second, nearly ALL of these jobs are not possible to outsource overseas (e.g., your postal carrier and the guy that fills your potholes can’t work remotely from India), which is great in times (like now) where private sector jobs are either being shipped abroad or are drying up. *The fact that the government can’t lay these folks off is generally good for our economy, as it keeps people employed during rough economic times. Moreover, as I pointed out, many public unions have already made concessions to help their respective states reduce deficits.

        I could go on, but what’s the point. It seems you’ve bought the conservative rhetoric hook, line, and sinker.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        No hook line and sinker for me JB. I am an independent thinker.

        Let’s focus on the huge and very relevant statistic that is left out of your summary. Elementary school teachers according to BLS alone account for 1.18 percent of the work force. I am afraid I didn’t have a chance to explore other education or hospital stats, but it is significant, when added into the total. The stats you quote from BLS:

        ++State and Local
        2,424,000 State government (excludes education and hospitals)
        5,594,000 Local government (excludes education and hospitals)++

        It is the those who are in public education who are among the loudest voices, these days, and who are nearly exclusively paid by tax revenues (except the small percentage of private schools).

        How can you possibly ignore those numbers? How can you ignore hospital employment? My recollection, although I haven’t seen it in print recently, is that about one in five, or one in six, people are paid directly from tax revenues. So your statistics are coming up short as you characterize the conclusion.

        This is a signficant percentage of the workforce, and consequently very handsome benefit packages which track industry have been been gained. But, now as industry contracts, these things are taken away more easily (my wife’s situation described above, for example. The public sector with its collective bargaining clout seems extremely reluctant to give up what wage earners in industry have already been FORCED by the market place to give up.

        I am afraid I do not know how, for example a school janitor, cook or administrator is accounted for or not, in your statistics (if it is by SIC code, they are probably already counted in your statistics, but maybe not).

        I am not saying that the gained benefits are not earned or should not be a part of a compensation package, but they have over time become a greater and greater percentage of hourly wage (which still is an eroneous measurement). Benefit packages as described above seem to be left out in the calculation of cost. I know industry has gone to a measure of TOTAL COMPENSATION which is a more accurate comparison. Total compensation for the public sector is paid from taxes. Certainly public sector employment cost weighs on world competitiveness. You simply cannot deny this.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        I want to drive this point home, because you are not getting it.

        Here is a quick summary of the postal worker TOTAL COMPENSATION. Note relatively low wage, so you get the impression it is a low paying job. That is the way public servants like to characterize their plight, and compare their discrepancy with the private sector. Some private sector jobs have these benefits too, but many do not have retirement pensions very often found in the public sector, which are a HUGE cost to taxpayers or mandated revenue streams (like the cost of postage) over time. Some private sector plans have gone from defined benefit (X per month guarantee) to defined contribution (? per month depending on how the investment portfolio goes over the time of your employment, which as we have seen the last couple of years with the screwed up stock market and bank interest rates have kept private employers from having make up deficits in pension plans).

        There are many and costly benefits which carry forward and increase with time on the job. Do remember the carrier may be doing the same job on day one as in year 30:

        Av. Wage: $12-25/hr
        Wages: 40 hrs/wk; 1.5 wage for overtime over 8/day or 40/wk.
        Bonus: $10K/yr for 20 year employee
        Retirement: defined benefit based on highest 3 years of salary: THIS IS HUGE AND CONTINUES FOR THE LIFE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND MAYBE SPOUSE IF CERTAIN OPTION IS ELECTED
        Health insurance: health, dental, vision, ancillary (small co-pay for broad coverage) COST INCREASES ARE ASTOUNDING
        Life insurance: fully paid
        Flexible spending account: (tax savings provision)
        Thrift savings plan: match up to 3% pay (sort of a 401k)
        Annual leave: carryover and paid upon termination
        Sick leave: with carryover provison and paid upon termination
        Family and Medical leave:
        Holidays: 10 paid

        ______________

        AND THIS IS WHY postage stamp prices have gone up dramatically and will continue to go up. Don’t tell me the cost of postage is not a drain on business and world competitiveness.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        Sorry to keep sticking it to you on this issue, but here is an article from this morning’s Seattle Times:
        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014303070_teachers23m.html

        This bill is sponsored by Lisa Brown, Democrat – Senate Majority leader. WA is trying to close a $5B budget gap by pushing its older school teachers out the door before normal retirement age and get younger less costly, more productive, and likely healthier teachers (For cost example see profile above on postal workers who gain significant pension and accrued benefit based on longevity. Also recall a sick leave or annual leave hour may have been earned at a wage of $12 per hour, but paid out at termination at up to twice that cost).

        What the article does not say, is that by getting these teachers to retire 3 years early, it also avoids a HUGE retirement pension cost obligation, because the benefit is based on last 3 year highest salary. Imagine that.

        I do not care for this, but at least the proposal is voluntary. World competitiveness is not just about shipping jobs off shore. It is also about making tax dollars go farther. So, back to the guy fixing pot holes for the city for 20 years – should we pay him 2X plus weighted benefits for what a younger person could do it for, if the skill level is the same? I dunno. Very, very tough moral and social choices here.

        It is not just conservative/Wall St. rhetoric that is driving this. It is a reality of the 21st Century and implications of a high technology world economy where goods and services will be provided at lowest cost.

        The question, in my mind is to find a way of taking away from the super wealthy to offset the concessions that wage earners and government are forced to make in these difficult times.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        WM

        “Buying” out/providing incentive to older higher paid employees is nothing new. It has been with us for quite some time. Sure, it helps get younger lower paid individuals in the work force, but then the stigma is put on the early retirees who are collecting a pension and then pick up another job as double dipping.

        There seems to be a counter clamour to get people to work until they are almost 70. What does this do for the younger folks? Plus,for the golden parachutes and bonuses provided for all the “top” folks in the private sector…is that fair?

        Some sort of balance has to be established. Everything is being taken out on the back of the “common person”. Gas prices, real estate taxes, state income taxes all take a greater chunk out of the “little Guys” pocket than they do for the rich. Therefore there is less money to buy things to drive the economy. Where are all the jobs that the Bush tax cuts were supposed to stimulate? They’ve been in place for over 8 years.

      • JB Says:

        I think I get it quite well. This “crisis” is not being caused by Unions as Republicans (and you, apparently) would have us believe, rather, it is being cause by macro-level social factors. Specifically, (a) an aging population that (due to years of service) is paid quite well and stands poised to retire; (b) decades of government growth; (c) tax cuts cuts–especially for the wealthy; (d) a two-front war on an undefined foe (i.e., “terror”).

        The role of unions is insignificant in comparison to these factors–they are a convenient scapegoat for Republicans whose real intent is to limit funding for unions, which tend to support Democratic candidates. This can be seen in Walker’s actions in Wisconsin. The three public sector unions that supported him were not targeted for elimination.

        As I said before, you’ve bought the ruse hook, line and sinker.

      • JB Says:

        Since you insist on demonizing teachers, I can’t but help reply. Full disclosure: I was certified in Michigan in the mid 1990s and taught for a short time in a public school there; I also have several family members who are teachers.

        I got out of teaching when we moved to California (Bay area), where we found teachers living 2-4 in one room apartments in the worst part of town because, on their salaries, they could not even afford to rent an apartment by themselves. At the same time I heard Republican legislators blaming education issues on teachers (which, of course, continues to this day).

        And since you’re big on anecdotes: I have a colleague who is employed by the government (PhD-requirement) who makes about ~90K per year. Comparable jobs in the private sector earn more than double that amount ($175-250K or more).

        Unions are not killing government. The people we have elected, who run on platforms like “government as a last resort”–and so have a vested interest in reducing government–these people are killing government.

        You can’t cut taxes while increasing spending and starting wars–especially when your population is “top-heavy”. It’s really that simple.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        Unions are a huge force which has driven (mostly for the good of the middle class generally) up wages and benefits. For some work forces, for example the aerospace industry, non union workers which includes many professional and administrative types from accountants, personnel, clerks, lawyers and supervisors of scientists and engineers, can thank the unions for helping to drive up their wages and broaden their benefit packages.

        There are at present 14.7 million workers in America who belong to unions. Read this very recent Bureau of Labor Statistics memo for the details:
        http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

        I thought these were particularly important statistics:
        –The union membership rate for public sector workers(36.2 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent).

        –Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest uionization rate at 37.1 percent.

        Among occupational groups, education, training, and library occupations (37.1 per-cent) and protective service occupations (34.1 percent) had the highest unionization rates in 2010.

        JB, I was reluctant to use these words, but you certainly are niave if you believe unions do not have a profound and wide spread influence on world competitiveness in America.

        Don’t get me wrong, unions are thankfully responsible for the high standard of living that most of us enjoy as wealth has been shared with our growing middle class. Fear of unionization is what kept non-union job catagories keeping pace with unionized counterparts. The problem, however, is whether we can continue to have prosperity on a world stage with so many of us doing well. It is a bit of a conundrum.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        I am not demonizing teachers. I, too, have family members who are/were teachers, and you will get little argument from me on the inequities of some teacher salaries. I have a very good friend of color, who went to teaching following a layoff from industry (where he was handsomely paid but got RIF’ed, another indication of relative job security).

        I will also say the disparity between pay of your PhD friends with government or private sector jobs often, but not always, indicates a couple things: The industry person might have better credentials, a different motivation for the work he/she does ($$$ is more important), and job security is infinitely better in government than the private sector, as I have said before. I have lots of anecdotes for you on job security – collective bargaining union protections being chief among them, both private and public sector. In fact, I have legal experience in that area. The stories I could tell you about union protected workers would make your toes curl – people that should have been fired on the spot remain on the job. Very few hear what really goes on behind the scenes when a union worker or government screws up. Non-union, private sector, folks in my experience are gone in a heart beat.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        But look where all the money is.

        http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110223/ts_yblog_thelookout/separate-but-unequal-charts-show-growing-rich-poor-gap

        I am ***not*** a proponent of socialism, but if things don’t start taking a turn for the better, something like socialism will be become very palatable for a lot of the have nots.

      • Ralph Maughan Says:

        Immer Treue,

        I think you have it right. These rightwinger rich are trying to get middle class and working class Americans to start fighting over the tiny differences in pay or benefits one side or the other might have while they walk off with almost everything.

        They have unfairly and criminally gotten gains, and it is possible people will wake up and want some of their fair share restored.

        Wages in the United State have not gone up for 30 years now, but the economy has grown a lot. Where did all the new wealth go? We should think about that.

      • JB Says:

        I generally abhor redundancy, but this deserves repetition:

        “You can’t cut taxes while increasing spending and starting wars–especially when your population is “top-heavy”. It’s really that simple.”

        – – – –

        BTW: We were talking about public sector unions. BLS statistics suggests ~8% (7.84%, actually) of jobs are in government; and you’ve cited more information that suggests only 1/3 of those folks are unionized. Go ahead and lay our economic woes at the feet of unions… the Koch brothers are laughing all the way to the bank.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        How are we going to pay these incredibly generous retirement packages? can’t compete on a global The US scale and keep it’s standard of living. We are due for a major correction. Now, what are going to happen to the ESA and the wilderness? Well, there funding is going to be slashed and wilderness will be raped for natural resources. I’m a big picture guy and unions, the evil rich, government workers, wars don’t matter. The fact of the matter is that we can’t compete on a global scale, thus our GDP will decrease even more and our standard of living will crash. Once this happens, do you think americans will give a flip about wildlife? No. They will be busy competing for scarce resources…

        SWEET DREAMS. It’s obvious that many of us are living in a dream world!

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        I don’t know that I ever limited my comments, at least, to public sector unions. The reason is that it is, as I stated above, in constant change. Industry sets the stage, and government attempts to some degree to replicate the wage and benefits seen in industry. Public employee unions have been very effective for this purpose.

        I am saying it is all inter-related and tax revenues mostly based on the generation of goods and services or assessments on property ownership, are used to pay those government wages and generous benefits. When the revenues go down (or are re-directed in the case of defense and war) the gap must be closed, and that means contraction of benefits. As I said before, many industries have taken their hits already to remain competitive.

        Industy is constantly adjusting – it has to. That is why there are non-union shops in the south making automobiles in new plants (and doing a damn good job if consumer feedback is to be believed). Detroit refused to hear the message until it was too late – hence the big 3 auto makers closing down plants left and right and consolidating dealerships. The same is true for aerospace. Unions got cocky, and now companies like Boeing are seeking non-union venues like S. Carolina. They have also attempted outsourcing to other countries (not a successful business model most would say for their new 787).

        One more anecdote. My father passed away last month, and we are making a claim on a small life insurance policy with Prudential (an American icon, right?). The telephone servicing office was a claim center in the Philippines. Why do you suppose that is? Cheaper labor. Do you suppose the guy who calls himself….. uh, “Chris” has all those benefits listed in the postal worker example above?

        AIG, the big insurer that almost went toes up and is owned by the government, has been doing much of its accounting in India for years. Radiologists (medically trained x-ray, CT, ultrasound image reading doctors) that do consultations for surgeries are health insurer surgeries, are often now in India (email me the images, dude). And where is the 24 hour tech person who answers the call when my Dell computer goes on the blink?

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Dell has a call center employed w/ Americans…But, ya have to pay $99!

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Wolf M.

        Incredible is the word. Why are we in Iraq? For lies. What about the individuals that duped the gullible of this country into going into Iraq? Why are we in Afghanistan? We have learned nothing from History. The British could not control it, neither could the Russians. How is Halliburton doing over there, and the security firms? Why do we still have troops in Germany? Do we still have a large military presence in Japan? For what purpose? I honestly don’t know this answer, so I’m asking, How many of the financial institutions that were bailed out, with tax payer money have payed the government back?

        And we’re in this mess because of pensions to public sector employees?

        We have a growing cesspool of opulence in this country. 30 million a year for seven years is not good enough for a baseball player, and “fans” support the player. Priorities in this country are loopy. Prior to 2000 we had a government surplus. Two wars, two misguided wars, tax cuts that have benefitted the rich with no return to the public or private sector, wall street greed and a banking industry whose greed threatened the solvency of the country, and this is all the fault of unions and government employees? Whoooooooooossh.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        You won’t get any arguments from me on pulling our troops out of other countries, then slashing the military by 50%. Iraq? Fck if I know why we are there. Probably for liquid gold. You made some great points that I nor anyone else knows. All I know is that the typical union and government employee is overpaid and under worked. The fact is that we can’t compete in a global economy. It doesn’t matter that the rich are profiting on the backs of American workers/tax payers. I for one would rather the rich “exploit” me rather than just shipping my job overseas. Thank you rich dude, thank you.

        My uncle is a multi millionaire. Do you know what it took to become that successful? He worked for 20 years straight 14 hours/day 7 days/wk. No job security, vacation, sick time, retirement etc…He nearly went bankrupt several times. My point is, don’t hate the rich, w/o there hard work and dedication you wouldn’t be employed.

      • Moose Says:

        “My point is, don’t hate the rich, w/o there hard work and dedication you wouldn’t be employed.”

        You are overstating their impact on employment opportunities in the US…………….

        Per SBA, small businesses:

        -Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
        -Employ 52% of all private sector employees.
        -Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
        – Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
        -Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
        – Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
        – Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
        – Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
        – Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Wolf Mod,

        I in no way hate the rich, and many of the rich, like your uncle, so many of them put it all on the line. But it was the rich and powerful who put this country in the hole, and now the “common never gonna get rich worker” has to take it in the backside to bail the country out.

        Why don’t the filthy rich lead by example and guide the country out of the hole? I’d have no problem following someone who was willing to take the same bullet as me. Lead by example. What are the Koch bothers doing?

        I guess I should give up my job, one that I took a chance on, was all but broke by forty, and reinvented myself, give up my pension to the cause, chain myself to a machine and make Nikes all day by your logic so that the rich could make a larger profit.

        I wish we could sit over a few beers rather than communicate this way, but, it is communication

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Yeah, trying to convey ones point this way is difficult. Over beers would be interesting, because we wouldn’t even be able to agree on what kind of beer to buy…

        Ok, I concede. You make some good points, but if the rich take a hit (not that they haven’t), then they will just pass this cost on to consumers (maybe) or lay off workers AND cut benefits(very likely). “The rich” do not exist to create jobs…Sometimes I think that’s what the people on MSNBC believe.

        Moose, you are right, most employers are small businesses. I don’t have time to look it up, but I believe the average small business owner nets 250k a year, so after a few years they are quite likely a millionaire.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Wolf Mod,

        I’m done with this too. How about a pipe dream.

        Everyone in the country contribute a one time tithe of 1% of net worth to bail the country out?

        As I said, a pipe dream.

        I’ve got a Cat Urbigkit book to start reading.

        Happy Trails

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Wolf Mod,

        One more thing. I’m more of a distilled spirits during the colder months, but when it’s warm, beers and ales are fine.

        List your top 5 individuals or types of beers/ ales and let’s see if we can find one in common.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        1. Sierra Nevada
        2. Alaskan Amber
        3. Miller lite
        4. Ice house (yum yum)
        5. Vodka cran (not beer but ran out of beers).

      • JB Says:

        WM:

        The original comment I made that you objected to was:

        Our lack of competitiveness has nothing to do with public sector jobs. Many public sector employees have already taken pay cuts as well as forced furloughs in order to help their respective states deal with their self-inflicted (too many tax cuts) budget crises…”

        My reasons are as follows:
        (1) A relatively small percentage of the population is actually employed in unionized public sector jobs.
        (2) Our ability to compete with other nations is not hampered because public sector jobs (e.g. military, postal workers, teachers, etc) are not able to be exported , THERE IS NO GLOBAL MARKET FOR US POSTAL WORKERS.
        (3) Many public sector unions are already making concessions to save money (more will, out of necessity). In Wisconsin, for example, union workers have agreed to the cuts the governor wishes to make–what they are objecting to is his attempt to eliminate their ability to bargain collectively. (One police officer cited bullet-proof vests as an example of equipment that it took union-led collectively bargaining to get).

        The real issues here are big picture. We have an aging population that is increasingly sick and about to retire and is thus drawing more resources from the government. Our government has a penchant for beginning costly military conflicts that tend to drain are collective pocketbook. And finally, we have elected zealots that are ideologically opposed to any increase in taxes (indeed, one might say they are ideologically opposed to government, in general).

        So, we’ve decreased our revenues (taxes), while increasing our costs (e.g. wars), while we are carrying the oldest population in our nation’s history. And, as I mentioned before, during wars and other times of economic crisis the richest among us have typically paid 2/3s to 3/4s of their income in taxes; today however, this tax bracket pays just over 1/3.

        – – –
        That’ll be the last comment I make on this matter.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        This will be my last post on this topic as well.

        My points:

        1. Public sector union representation is disproportionate to union representation in the American work force. Public union sector wages and benefits have tracked, but to some extent lagged, the private sector. But, once gained, public sector benefits are MUCH HARDER to take away than in the private sector, which is what we are seeing play out in the Mid-west. The leverage the public sector has on essential services, institutionally makes it harder to take away benefits. It is also alot harder to fire a non-performing worker in government service than the private sector, particularly if the employee is represented by a union.

        2. The number of employees in the public sector is much larger in local and state government than the federal workforce. Nearly 40 percent of public employees are represented by unions, as compared to the general worker population in the US.

        3. You clearly missed the point of the postal worker example, and in your response to that issue – was well not very enlightened. It was used for two purposes: First to show the breadth and depth of benefits which are not reflected in an hourly wage. Second, to suggest that these TOTAL COMPENSATION costs add disproportionately to the price of postage, which business and individuals pay for services.

        4. Our ability to compete in a world economy is VERY closely tied to labor costs in the private sector, and by association (See point number 1), to the PUBLIC SECTOR. This is especially true since public sector labor costs are paid from tax revenues, or service charges in the case of utilities (water, sewer, electricity, garbage, transportation – buses, trains). We cannot go on like this without dropping labor costs for some services provided by government, and we cannot sustain a current standard of living for all our people, and expect to remain competitive in a world economy where many services of increasing technological complexity, and goods are provided at lesser cost. We cannot be successful at exporting goods and services to other parts of the world when willing sellers will do the same at lesser cost. We see more and more evidence of this every day.

        5. WE NEED A NEW RESET POINT.

        I agree with your last two paragraphs.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        “(2) Our ability to compete with other nations is not hampered because public sector jobs (e.g. military, postal workers, teachers, etc) are not able to be exported , THERE IS NO GLOBAL MARKET FOR US POSTAL WORKERS.”

        You are correct that many union/govt jobs are not able to be shipped overseas. The problem is who pays for these workers wages AND benefits if most of the other civilian jobs ARE shipped overseas?

      • JB Says:

        WMs–

        Thought you would be interested in the following, which shows tax burdens by country: http://www.forbes.com/global/2006/0522/032a.html

        Note: We’re behind countries like Poland, Turkey, and Slovakia. Rather than increase wealth disparity by going after unions and the “little guys” they represent, you might consider getting rid of the Bush-era tax cuts–especially those for the super-rich. Considering that 93% of the nation’s overall financial wealth is concentrated in the top 20% of Americans trying to squeeze more out of the bottom 80% isn’t likely to prove a fruitful endeavor, especially considering that public unions make up a fraction of a fraction of these individuals.

        http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

        – – – –

        This isn’t about making the country more competitive, it is about conservatives trying to lessen the strength of the democratic party by killing unions, who disproportionately support democratic candidates. It is about further concentrating the wealth and power in this country. It is too bad otherwise bright people like yourselves can not (or refuse to) see it.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        And one last time, it was not the common working people who put us in the hole in terms of the federal deficit, it was the rich, the powerful, and the influential, bolstered with greed who created this mess.

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        I am hopeful we can address all three elements – dampening a sense of entitlement in some public employee groups to close budget gaps and reach parity with industry in a world economy; take steps to reduce power in the super wealthy and cut tax cuts for the wealthy, and ultimately hang the bastards who created this problem in the financial markets and prevent it from happening again.

        If D’s and Independenents can get pissed off enough and motivated, maybe it will happen.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Immer are you saying that with a straight face? ONLY the rich caused the meltdown of the housing and financial markets? WHAT? How about the politicians, how about the scum bags what knew they couldn’t afford the realestate they “qualified for”, the losers who lied about there income to buy homes. The evil rich are only one part of the equation. Come on now!

      • JB Says:

        I hope this will be the nail in the coffin of this argument. The non-partisan think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities recently analyzed the relationship between state budget deficits and the percentage of the states workers that belong to unions; they found no relationship (p = 0.21) between budget deficits and union membership.

        I could not find a figure on their website, but did find one adapted from this data on another policy blog, here:

        http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/02/the_relationship_between_union.html

        _ _ _ _ _

        I share your hope that democrats and independents are motivated by the actions of their elected officials. However, the obstacles are stacking up: gerrymandering, loss of seats in traditionally blue states, free speech rights to corporations, and attacks on people’s ability to unionize. I hope you are paying attention America?

      • WM Says:

        JB,

        The monkeycage.com analysis looks at all unions, not just public employee, for the rather flat correlation. I will say, the data point for WA is completely erroneous! The aerospace union percentage of the unionized workforce (machinists and SPEEA engineers) is undoubtedly at least four times the size of the teacher workforce, and dwarfs the public sector. That datapoint is an outlier, and I suspect there are others, for example NV, and uniquely DC (which should not eve be in the data set and most improperly sucks that regression line way down with erroneous data since it is a federal obligation).

        The better and more thorough analyses are linked in the comments of the monkeycage material. Seems there is one in there that speaks very specifically to the unfunded state worker pension obligations some states have. The analysis was performed on data thru fiscal year June 2008 by the Pew Center. That likely means the number of states as well as the severity of EACH state’s individual unfunded pension obligation has VERY likely increased. The collective gap through June 2008 was $1 Trillion. These legislators who hate to say no to increased health benefits and pensions in light of pressures from state workers, AGAINST THE ADVICE OF THEIR OWN ACTUARIES, continued to allow the benefits to grow without tracking a tax obligation or ensuring funding. How in the hell is that gap to be closed, especially as the principal is drawn down by those who are retiring and beginning to take benefits from these empty state piggy banks?

        I was once involved in review of a labor settlement. A very arrogant in-house lawyer for the defendant, in explaining a $25M settlement package, said, “Well, we gave them two years of pension credit (for some early and allegedly wrongfully terminated employees) from the company’s over funded pension fund, which was like giving them the sleeves off our vest.” He was very proud of having negotiated this provision. My response was, “Well the fund may be over funded today, but what happens when that reverses and the fund becomes underfunded by more than what you acknowledged in the settlement?” That was fifteen years ago. That same fund is now under water, and that settlement provision has probably cost them about $75M – to date.

        The defined benefit pension obligation is a huge albatross around the necks of state and local governments, as well as industry, and is one very significant reason some states (and businesses) find themselves in this incredibly tenuous situation today. Do also recall that Social Security is considered a pension fund by some, and is/will be underfunded very soon.

        Yeah, all this has to do with underperforming financial markets, and, in part, the financial meltdowns on Wall St.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        WM,

        My father is a member of SPEEA. It is a non-striking union. I’m not sure what kind of power the union wields outside of performing collective bargaining for the white collar workers represented in several states. I don’t think most of the SPEEA members have any kind of defined benefit pension plans. My father has worked there for almost 35 years and I don’t believe he has one. In my opinion, it is a good union because they have power, but not the kind of power to hold Boeing over the barrel to the point that they have to make a concession that will damage the company and the general public over the long-term (Government Motors).

      • WM Says:

        Daniel,

        You are going to want to review SPEEA history, as I think you are somewhat incorrect on nearly all points in your last post. While it has a history of being less volatile than IAM (machinists), they do have a rare history of strikes, because they let IAM be the bad guy (these collective bargaining agreements track each other fairly closely, as do benfits to non-union workers who also benefit). The last was a 40 day strike in 2000, I think. It was, in fact, the fear of longer term labor problems-strikes or fear of them affecting delivery schedules (which is one huge reason the 787 is late, in that case IAM), that, in part, drove Boeing to select South Carolina for its second 787 line, and possibly a non-union work force (that issue is still up in the air for both yet to be hired machinists and eng/prof. classifications later this year, I think). Boeing sold off assets to a company called Spirit (which employed the same Boeing people who were now employees of that company) because of collective bargaining issues, including SPEEA risks. It all has to do with labor costs.

        You father is lucky to have a 35 year run with one employer. The employment for life model has long been abandoned by large employers, largely because of entitlements that come with seniority. His pension is very likely defined benefit, entirely.

        A defined benefit pension plan guarantees a monthly pension benefit (based on a forumla of years service and something like last 3 year or highest salary) regardless of how the investment markets perform, and puts the company at risk to continue to fund pension obligations – hence so many underfunded pension obligations in the US. Detroit automakers learned this the hard way, and far too late.

        Alternatively, a defined contribution plan means a company will put so much forward to support a pension obligation, without providing the guarantee of a projected finite monthly sum, years into the future.

        Most companies (the ones continuing to even offer pensions) over the last fifteen years or so, have moved to defined contribution, because both the employer and the employee share the risks of underperforming markets.

        Some GOVERNMENT pensions carry forward as defined benefit plans, because the people who award them, legislators under pressure from public employee unions, have yet to get the clue, because there is little accountability for spending taxpayer dollars. It is more about keeping or getting votes for some.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        WM,

        Geez, I stand corrected. I was incorrect in my recollection of discussions I had with my dad on this subject years ago. I just talked with him and he confirmed that they can strike, but only have very rarely. I was not aware of the strike in 2000 because I was out of state and my dad did not participate because of personal financial difficultly.

        He also does have a DBPP. I was also mistaken there because he has invested in retirement outside of the DBPP and I misinterpreted those investments as his sole source of future retirement income.

        I’m now just going to pretend I didn’t make that comment. Thanks for the correction.

        He is lucky to have had a job at the same company for 35 years and be relatively content. I’ve heard that he’s an exceptional software engineer. I hold no such hope that I will be 35 years at any one place of employment.

    • JB Says:

      Looks like the Governor’s political grandstanding backfired, and now he’s backpedaling. Western legislators screaming about the federal government and the ESA is nothing new.

      It always amazes me that the masses elect these people and cheer their silly, symbolic, tirades while the foundations of their society crumble.

    • Savebears Says:

      Wolf Moderate,

      I can see you were not career Military, I was not reservist, I was full active, I graduated from West Point in 1979 and retired as an O-6 in 2006, I spent 13 years active, then 13 years as non active subject to recall training officer..during my time of non-active service, I got my degree in Biology and went to work for a state agency…and that is where the problems began!

      I am very familiar with the retirement program, but it does not always work out quite the way you think it will, especially when you piss certain people off..in other agencies..

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Fair enough SB. Don’t really follw how you expect to retire when you only have 13 years active—they don’t have the non-active thing—At least for us enlisted folk🙂. I guess things were different back then. Things have really changed. I was in relatively recently 1999-2007.
        Good luck getting what you deserve. I was speaking in generalities not specifics. Overall things are really f’d up, but of course there are lots of exceptions.

      • Savebears Says:

        Wolf Moderate, I did not retire until 2006, I was suppose to retire in 2005, but was extended for another year, my classification was due to my specialty, I did a lot of training stints in the 13 years that I was classified as non-active subject to recall. They classified me as that, so I could still teach specific courses in close quarter urban combat environments. My specialty was and still is in demand in the Army and Marines, so I didn’t get let off the hook early, not that I wanted to…

        I have several friends that I served with over the years, that were wounded in various ways, and they are still subject to recall and they do training when needed, and like I, they are not classified as reservists, they are also officers of various ranks, with unique specialties that are currently being used in our theaters of operation..

        After I was wounded in 1991, they figured I would want to leave service, I didn’t…

        I actually saw one of the guys I trained today on CNN, he is the only blind officer currently serving in the Army. He lost his eyesight in a blast, but didn’t want to leave the military, so they worked a program out to use his skills with his specialty, that still benefits the efforts and he will be able to retire with full benefits…

  46. IDhiker Says:

    That’s for sure!

  47. MAD Says:

    The whole issue of “nullification,” it’s history and its attempted use by certain people today is pathetic. There are A LOT of laws that I don’t like and would rather not abide by, but I think it’s childish to say that each person or group can determine exactly which they’d like to follow and which to disregard.

    That sort of sounds like anarchy to me. And what these brilliant folks don’t understand is that if you take these actions to their logical conclusion, then I can just drive up to your home, kill you and burn down your house and business because I don’t like you, or you are doing things I don’t like – just because I don’t think the laws on property ownership, murder and arson are just and I refuse to acknowledge them.

    • mikarooni Says:

      It’s worse than mere anarchy. It’s anarchy powered by concealed racism behind a facade of false amiability.

  48. Richard G. Says:

    Hey guys I work for a large city union ,and we do not have the 220 law, a law which gives the right to compare our profession with outside industry. Now certain private unions have this,electricians.stationary engineers, plumbers, so we do not get paid what outside industry makes. Now another thought,the city does not send us out for training,reason if they did,people would go to outside industry for more money. At least ths is is the way it was, as of now it might have changed,due to the out sourcing of industry. One more thought why the city has so many out sourced projects.This happens because this is federal money, our salary comes from city taxes, they do not want to piss off the tax payers. O.K. ;so we have job security and health and benifits,but that is the trade off,plain and simple.

  49. Richard G. Says:

    Remeber the thing about labor is the 220 law, most unions do not have this,so they cannot get the same wage as private industry.

  50. Nancy Says:

    some fun facts on government employment:
    http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs041.htm

  51. Phil Says:

    Immer: At the local school district I work at, each year for the past 4 school seasons the teachers who have high seniority and make a pretty nice income are offered early retirement so that they can hire fresh teachers who would make the lowest paid income for a teacher. It is not buying out someone as you mentioned, but it is right along those lines. It is really sad, because most of the teachers do not want to retire because they have a dedication to work with children, but the offer is there and it would not be any better if they retired 2-3 or so years down the line.

    To look it at from the other side, it does give opportunities for younger people to begin their careers. The dilema is there with pros and cons.

  52. Phil Says:

    Sorry, but should have added an extra (m) in dilemma.

  53. WM Says:

    I said I was done with this topic earlier (not the original topic of the thread, but our departure to discussion about public employee compensation, unions and all).

    Very interesting piece on MSNBC, which tracks some of my dialog with JB earlier. This just isn’t WI and OH anymore. The issue of institutionalized public employee pay (total compensation) and the huge financial burden of pension obligations and healthcare premiums, albiet championed mostly by R’s, has taken front stage. And, yes, older workers are a part of this complex “puzzle.”

    As we count the states, more will be contronting these budget shortfalls as Federal stimulus money dries up and states have to cover the cost from woefully inadequate state/local tax revenues.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41736531/ns/politics/

  54. Dan Says:

    I thought that a hunting season for wolves managed by professional state biologists was a good compromise, but the issue was pushed and now look at where we are at. Neither side is never going to get everything they want. The antiwolfers are never going to get wolves eradicated and the pro folks are never going to get packs that are not managed. So, I don’t now why we can’t get a decent compromise finished so everyone can get on with solving some of the world’s bigger problems e.g. global warming, fossil fuels, etc.


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