Hundreds of Scientists Denounce Congress’ Attempt to Undermine Endangered Species Act

Union of Concerned Scientists Weighs In

Attempted political assaults on the Endangered Species Act in Congress, as exist in recent budget bills, are being denounced by scientists all over the country.

Hundreds of Scientists Denounce Congress’ Attempt to Undermine Endangered Species ActUCSW Press Release 3/30/11

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2011) – Nearly 1,300 scientists today urged senators to oppose efforts to undermine the scientific authority of the Endangered Species Act, which they fear would threaten the long-term survival of all species protected by the law.

Read the letter to Congress signed by 1293 scientists

61 Responses to “Hundreds of Scientists Denounce Congress’ Attempt to Undermine Endangered Species Act”

  1. Woody Says:

    This is an important and strong endorsement by scientists. I hope our senators read and heed the message.

  2. Mooseboy Says:

    I love this move by these scientists. If the senators don’t get the message then god help us all, or better said god help our wildlife.

  3. cina white Says:

    Wow! Right on scientists! This many can not be wrong- Thank you all for proving science should dictate law. Not bias!

  4. Virginia Says:

    Good for them! The key word here is integrity – the integrity of the science and the integrity (or lack of )of the decision makers and Congress. It is a word that has been lost on many people – some of my students have never heard the word used.

  5. Gary R. Allan Says:

    This is a very necessary reply but many of these senators & other politicians are threatened by science because they do not like the outcomes & it takes too long. Also, do not forget, these are not very good critical thinkers.

  6. MAD Says:

    while I am glad that these sentiments were memorialized and sent to politicians, I am a supreme skeptic and agree with Gary’s comments. I honestly feel that you could line up a million scientists and the crew of politicians wouldn’t give a crap. Scientists don’t contribute to their campaigns, aren’t an assembled voting block and can’t do anything for them, so why listen?

  7. REChizmar Says:

    Was Doug Smith’s name on this or any of the other’s who started, implemented and/or who currently coordinate YNP Wolf Re-Introduction? Just curious, and if not, is there a particular reason why said individuals did not sign? – perhaps they were not asked? or are they precluded from entering this political debate by virtue of their employ?

  8. Dude, the bagman Says:

    This might not impress the people it needs to impress. Flat- earth types (or those who represent them) will just see it as a conspiracy of self-interested scientists trying to keep their jerbs.
    “Them scientist probly beleeve in evolushun to.”

    • Salle Says:

      This is true. There was a similar action taken by numerous scientists a couple years ago and it didn’t get much traction but, perhaps, the Hon. D. Molloy may have taken it into consideration… I think that the judiciary may be the key with all this anti-science rubbish.

  9. cina white Says:

    I hope they listen to the scientists as it is TRUTH! However we all know wolves can’t vote and don’t fund campaigns. 😦

  10. Cody Coyote Says:

    I’m searching my neurons trying to recall any notable Republican post-Reagan whose policy votes have been swayed by a good science argument. I’m not coming up with many , if any. It seems the GOP conservative political DNA is antagonistic to science , unless it comes with a slick business plan promising hefty profits for select investors.

    Schmoozing up to genetically modified crop producers like Monsanto , or maybe Big Pharma , are about the only instances where I can see Republicans getting behind ‘science’ at all. The science is just a means to an end ( the big money ) in those narrow takes.

    • timz Says:

      Yet most of the bills in Congress now designed to gut the ESA are being introduced by Democrats.

      • timz Says:

        And in case anyone has forgotten the current Sec. of the Int. who seems to support most or all of this crap is also a Democrat.

      • Salle Says:

        Ignorance, much like HIV/AIDS, is an equal opportunity disease. Ignorance by choice is a psychosis, I believe.

  11. Cody Coyote Says:

    A big P.S. here— the brain trust over at Tom Remington’s inflammatory anti-wolf Black Bear Blog have given the scientists opposing changes to the ESA its coveted ‘ Golden Horse Excrement ‘ award.

    Which shows very well just how important science is to BBB and how much Remington and his followers understand science. The principles of ecology that apply to Grey Wolf reintroduction as a keystone species can be comprehended by a 7th grader, usually , so what does this say about anti-wolf science accumen?

    A lot, actually…

    • william huard Says:

      All this and more from the latest SH%^&bagging state. Maine has a terrible record when it comes to wildlife management, including one of only a few if not the only state to allow baiting, hounding, and trapping of bears for sport. Maine, Gov Lepage and Remington deserve each other. Percival Baxter is rolling over in his grave

  12. wolf moderate Says:

    Spot n’ stalk hunting for bears is very unproductive and a very poor way to try and manage bears. W/o baiting and hounding (which I do not view as “hunting”), the population increases drastically. In Oregon, where I am from originally, the population of bears has increased drastically since the ban on hounding took place. Now I buy cougar and bear tags to use while elk/deer hunting, and have taken bears incidentally while elk hunting. My little way of trying to keep the population down. I do not view this as “hunting” per se, because I don’t enjoy killing animals like cougars, wolves, and bears, but more of a duty. Just my view on the subject and I think it’s ok to voice it. No need to get hostile bunny huggers 🙂

    • william huard Says:

      Better to be a bunny hugger than a sh&^bagger. No need to get hostile I know you can’t help it

    • Linda Hunter Says:

      Wolf Moderate you say that “. W/o baiting and hounding (which I do not view as “hunting”), the population increases drastically.”

      How did you come to this conclusion? The bears in the wild places of the northwest seem to be declining to me. Last summer of tracking bears all summer yielded three poached carcasses and maybe one live bear. The backcountry has been so invaded in Washington by commercial pickers that the bears have migrated to private property and suburban areas where they can feed at night in peace. I only found signs of one bear who seemed to be hanging out in a low area of the national forest. . all other tracks were closer to town. This does not mean the population has increased, but the few remaining bears have had to move. When we decide on our own to remove animals because we think there are too many it can be a big mistake. Please think a bit before you manage animals on your own.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Hi Linda,

        I agree that the market for bear parts could have an effect on populations. Not sure if it has had any effect however, because I try to stay out of Oregon. The speed limit is 55 everywhere other than 84 and I5….Grrr!!!

        Here in Idaho while elk hunting I saw quite a few black bears. More than I’ve ever seen in Oregon. Fun to see bears in the wild. They always look way smaller than you would think.

        Thanks for bringing up the illegal bear trade. I forgot how big of a problem it has become, though there are still thousands of bears in Oregon. Not familiar w/ Washington at all.


      • bret Says:

        Linda, Washington has one of the highest bear populations in the lower 48, states somewhere around 25-30k . The bear and cougar population and range has expanded after the passage of I 655 in 1996. 40,000 tags are sold each year but the success rate is quite low.

        I do agree the number of pickers and the garbage they leave behind is a problem.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        There’s been an increased demand for locally foraged items in Washington State. Salal, Huckleberries, truffles, mushrooms, etc. At the farmer’s markets last year in late summer/early fall they were selling five pound bags of huckleberries. They claimed to have several chest freezers full of them. It must have been quite an effort to collect that many.

      • Salle Says:

        They claimed to have several chest freezers full of them. It must have been quite an effort to collect that many.

        Can’t help but wonder how many bears that could have fed.

  13. william huard Says:

    With all the States Rights and Constitutional Principles rhetoric one thing the teabaggers have going for them is balls. Their blatant hypocrisy- railing against gov spending as they have their hands out for those farm subsidies! Nice!

    • wolf moderate Says:

      At least they have ONE thing going for them! Them dems/liberals sure are perfect on the other hand… Is Guantanamo still operational, is the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over etc…? Hmmm. Weird. Seems like hypocrisy is a prerequisite for higher office. They are all used car salemen that will do whatever it takes to get into office.

      Anywho, it’s been fun, but the weather is finally nice. Gonna go for a bike ride.

      Have a good day!

  14. Immer Treue Says:

    Just took a peak at BBB. Mr. Fanning said Nobody from Montana with any credentials signed. NOBODY.
    Oh well, I might as well join the fray. 7 Ph.D’s in there.

    With that line of thinking, I guess we can all , including Mr. Fanning, dismiss the advice of Jim Beers, who has a Bachelors in Wildlife sciences from Utah State, and a Masters in Public Administration from University of Northern Colorado.


    Heather Adams, Ph.D.
    Montana State University
    Bozeman, MT

    Jennifer Belovsky, M.S.
    University of Notre Dame
    Charlo, MT

    Norman Bishop
    Master’s Candidate
    Yellowstone Center for Resources
    National Park Service
    Bozeman, MT

    David Chambers, Ph.D.
    Center for Science in Public Participation
    Bozeman, MT

    William Costain, M.S.
    U.S. Forest Service
    Helena, MT

    Scott Creel, Ph.D.
    Montana State University
    Bozeman, MT

    Edith Dooley
    Master’s Candidate
    College of Forestry and Conservation
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT

    Christopher Frissell, Ph.D.
    Pacific Rivers Council
    Polson, MT

    Alexis Gibson
    Doctoral Candidate
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT

    Mark Hebblewhite, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Wildlife Biology
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT

    Matthew Jones, M.S.
    Research Scientist
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT

    Sara Jones, M.S.
    Missoula, MT

    Timmothy Kaminski, M.S.
    Wildlife Biologist
    Mountain Livestock Cooperative
    Montana, MT

    Karen Laitala
    Master’s Candidate
    Project Coordinator
    Powell County
    Noxious Weed Board
    Deer Lodge, MT

    Twila Moon
    Doctoral Candidate
    University of Washington
    Big Sky, MT

    Kylie Paul, M.S.
    Missoula, MT

    Kali Pennick
    Master’s Candidate
    College of Forestry and Conservation
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT

    Justin Runyon, Ph.D.
    Bozeman, MT

    Scott Samuels, Ph.D.
    University of Montana
    Missoula, MT

    Pamela Spinelli, M.S.
    Senior Wildlife Ecologist
    Garcia and Associates
    Bozeman, MT

  15. Immer Treue Says:

    Just took a peak at BBB. Mr. Fanning said Nobody from Montana with any credentials signed. NOBODY.
    Oh well, I might as well join the fray. 7 Ph.D’s in that list.

    With that line of thinking, I guess we can all , including Mr. Fanning, dismiss the advice of Jim Beers, who has a Bachelors in Wildlife sciences from Utah State, and a Masters in Public Administration from University of Northern Colorado.

    • JEFF E Says:

      You’re giving half dozen cretins sitting in the far dark corner of a cave too much validity. A severe case of blog envy is about all that seems consistent.

      • Savebears Says:

        Well Bob, may not consider my Master’s degree as credentials, but my name is on that document…

      • jon Says:

        It’s nice to see Scott Creel and Hebblewhite’s names on there. Good for you for putting your name on that sb. I can tell you right now there are already people out there claiming that all of these scientists are wolf lovers who are using the wolves as a cashcow. in these people’s minds, you aren’t a real scientist unless you hate wolves. As I said, kudos to you for putting your name on this,

      • Salle Says:

        I would be surprised if Bob even knew what credentials are let alone knowing whether they were credible or not…

      • Immer Treue Says:


        No validation at all. Made a simple deduction based upon an observation. Now one can wonder if this deduction induced another event, to be observed. Analogically, driving a dullard to a pique by putting him in a round room and telling him to find a corner in which to sit.

      • JEFF E Says:

        But if the dullard claims to have found a corner……

  16. c white Says:

    I hear the hunt is on anyway today.There will be repercussions for this defiance in these western states HOLDING Yellowstone….I hear people are boycotting Montana Beef now and Idaho potatoes in MASS and any other product they can find they export. These two states standing defiant on the ESA and other laws along with Chemtrials will see a HUGE economic loss over all their actions. It’s spreading like wildfire on social networking sites and the web. Not too smart as they just poked their own eyes out. Yellowstone is boycotted too I hear and used to bring in approx 30million a year in tourism- kiss it goodbye locals!

  17. Elk275 Says:

    A number of years ago I was sitting on the front porch of my best friend’s home in Red Lodge, MT. Turning off the sidewalk onto the walkway of the home were two gentlemen in their Sunday best. They were no black name tags with white etching with “elder so and so” engraved, hum. They introduced themselves are Jehovah Witnesses and they want to talk about evolution. I was offered a large hard bound book that was the work of over one thousand prominent scientists who had denounced evolutionary theory, they wanted to talk we me about the fallacy of evolutionary thinking. I protested. They said “there are over thousand scientists some of whom have Ph.D’s who think evolution is wrong and wrote this book”. I said “Do you believe that the earth, and mankind is only 4000 years old and that the dinosaurs and humans live side by side”. “Yes, it says in the bible and the bible is god’s word”. Well they wanted me to kept a copy of the book and wanted me to pray with them before they left. I said “take your book and find someone else”.

    Anyone can find a group of people to support a cause

    • Savebears Says:


      I have had those same visitors at my house, and I agree 110% with your assessment. I don’t think that the science of the ESA should become a political movement, now don’t take me wrong, I believe 100% that wolves are recovered and they need to be taken off the list, to continue a listing based on politics is nothing more that a prostitution of a law that was passed and has done good, the wolf issue needs to have new minds looking at it, because I don’t think there are any non-biases parties involved anylonger..we need a new working group, to look at what has happened, and what is happening and what could happen..

      • Phil Says:

        SaveBears: I have not agreed on much with you, but I do on this one. I also believe that a population of 1,600-1,700 wolves is a recovery number, but delisting should come with proper management and not from the hostility from the states and other certain people. This is the main reason why I would have to chose that wolves should still being listed for protection. But, as you mentioned, there needs to be new groups of people, minds, etc working on the issue. Maybe this list f scientists that signed off on this list would be helpful to the wolf issue?

      • Savebears Says:

        Well Phil,

        I just think we need to look at this whole situation with some new perspective. And if it makes anyone feel better, Jon, just pointed out to me, that I am being bashed right along with everyone else on the Bear Blog..

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside, eh?

      • Savebears Says:

        Actually I find it quite funny…

      • Savebears Says:

        The way the person bashing me phrased his comments, almost sounded like I now have a cherished place on the hit list! LOL

      • Ken Cole Says:

        Don’t feed the trolls SB.

      • Daniel Berg Says:


        I’m sure it’s a blast to be in a crossfire of criticism on this issue. If you’re not getting it from one side, it’s the other!

      • Salle Says:

        Ha, I just wasted a few minutes looking at the said blog and all I can say is, wow, what a sorry bunch of self-aggrandizing blowhards… a waste of good air that could be put to better use by endangered species! They seem to have copied and pasted parts of this section of the thread to elaborate on how intelligent they are and how they come trolling on this blog for entertainment. Moderators take note. They also commend Wolf Moderate for somehow being allowed to continue to troll on this site. They also seem to think that everyone on this blog is a welfare recipient of some kind. I wonder what my employer would have to say about that…

      • Brian Ertz Says:


        it’d be nice if the issue could be dealt with by a group of rational decision-makers …

        of course, that’s kind of what wolf advocates have advocated for – and the reception has been chill – with voices like your own suggesting that “both sides are off base”.

        anyone who would suggest that wolf advocates have not approached the issue with a genuine willingness to work out a reasonable settlement of the issue is ignorant to the effort thus far .

        it is entirely reasonable to require a management regime that ensures actually scientifically verifiable viability of a species coming off the list. no such management regime has been put forward for consideration.

        it’s a nice ‘safe’ place to look at the issue and say that both sides are too “extreme” … and play the ‘moderate’ angle … that’s always the easy path to take with the political, because you don’t really have to consider the legitimacy of what either interest advocates, against science and law — you can just split the difference … but to do so is to ignore the history of what has taken place, it ignores the reality of how each’s position squares up to science and law in favor of a blind ideological call for moderation …

        a blind call for moderation is a political position …

        it doesn’t work that way. “moderation” is only a legitimate position when it squares up with science and law. to lift it out of that standard grants those irrational voices the leverage they use to skew the outcome away from the science and the law.

        today … we’re somewhere outside of the reasonable … rational … it has entered the political and unless wolf advocates are willing to play ball – to galvanize – to use the only currency this political economy understands ~ i.e. conviction ~ then we will lose the rational, science-based approach to these decisions.

        sometimes you gotta be willing to fight – even if it means people who aren’t aware are willing to attempt to marginalize you with ideological calls for moderation .

      • Savebears Says:

        Brian Said:

        “it’d be nice if the issue could be dealt with by a group of rational decision-makers”

        Problem is Brian, I am starting to think that groups of rational decision-makers are becoming few and far between these days, which I why I think a whole new group should be taking a look at this issue, most of us are far to involved on one side or the other, it has become to polarized by most of us that follow these issues, myself included..

      • WM Says:


        I am always amazed at how you try to claim the moral high ground. There probably is a very wide range in what scientists think is a “recovered” NRM wolf population that meets the ESA standard, a minimum so to speak, or something more running the spectrum to as many wolves on the ground in as high a density as can occur, without any human control (envision this polar position as the one advocated by HSUS, because they will settle for nothing less).

        So, even if there is middle ground it is not going to mean, just splitting the difference between the polar views. A recovered NRM wolf population, and management of them by the three states (individually or togehter) will not mean the same thing for everyone, and that is what we are confronting now. Judge Molloy may still be the arbitar of what constitutes a “recovered” population, maybe with oversight continuing a decade or beyond, with the contentious views that abound.

        If the legislative options go away (as they well might in the near term), would the non-settling parties agree to join those which are proposing to settle, with what appears to be a fairly “middle ground” position?

      • Salle Says:

        If the legislative options go away (as they well might in the near term), would the non-settling parties agree to join those which are proposing to settle, with what appears to be a fairly “middle ground” position?

        I know you posed this question to Brian but I have to ask you, why would they? It still leaves Idaho and the other two states to do as they please, which is not to allow wolves to thrive ~ with the trade-off of leaving them listed elsewhere. They, the states, keep screaming nullification of federal laws that they don’t like, which include the ESA and anything that doesn’t allow them to go on a wholesale wolf eradication rampage. And they will seek options on this until hell freezes over regardless of the actual consequences. If you’re looking for rational minds from that direction it might take longer than you’d imagine.

      • WM Says:


        A settlement of sorts between FWS and the plaintiffs would set the new formula to be met in terms of numbers and essential management functions for the NRM DPS. I guess it would substitute for the “scientific recovery goal” that Molloy might otherwise have to determine should the remainder of the claims in the complaint pending in his court be argued.

        As for its practical enforcement, who knows how that would play out. It would be the same political/management framework for ANY alternative.

        The ESA makes it pretty clear states are to play a role in conserving species, and FWS does not want day to day management of a recovered wolf population, which is why they will continue to pressure WY. So, if any state chooses not to participate (probably not an issue for MT, but certainly so to this point for WY, and maybe ID, if Butch doesn’t change his mind), then we get right back to the DPS issue that is on appeal for the moment. That is really not workable solution for a species that seems to be increasing in numbers and range, without any real fear of backsliding, unless the numbers get too big for acceptance by those who have to live with them.

        I guess I don’t see a formal solution that involves states doing anything voluntary unless it is reasonable (however that is ultimately defined). If one or more decide not to play, what are the sanctions? Practically there are none, nor will there ever be (somebody please correct me on this if you know different), except wolves go back on the list.

        Frankly, if the science suggests the numbers and genetic connectivity mean there is recovery, BUT the institutional technical argument of the DPS breakup prevents delisting, I guess I could even see each state being emboldened to doing its own control in violation of federal law.

        Don’t believe it? Wait two years and if this DPS appeal thing comes back from the 9th Circuit approving Judge Molloy’s ruling, with no opportunity for states to control numbers beyond those in their agency plans (not legislature 100/10 minimums), like ID at 500+, I would expect to see massive state control actions – yes, even in violation of the ESA. Then there would be individuals offering to “help.”


        Who can describe how this scenario will evolve over the next five years (if there is no negative change to the ESA), states cannot manage if one doesn’t have an approved plan and thus the DPS cannot be delisted, and the numbers exceed what would be considered a “recovered” population as measured by range, genetic connectivity and numbers?

      • Immer Treue Says:

        One possibility that no one takes, or let’s say very few take into consideration is self regulation of the wolf population. Yes, they may spread into Washington, Oregon, and Utah, but the wolf population will not increase beyond a certain limit. Pups just won’t survive. Population growth in the three state area has already slowed down. How much of it is due to both government and illegal actions? How much of it is due to natural limitations?

        I think not allowing Idaho and Montana to hunt wolves was a blunder. Lost was a second year of data in terms of overall impact on wolves, where folks on both sides of the issue could look at the numbers, and draw some conclusions. “Science” could then adjust up or down. All we have had is another year of animosity, and are we any closer to a workable solution?

        I have not changed my philosophy about wolves.

      • JB Says:


        States will come around. There is too much at stake not too. Recall that in 1883, the year that the bison was declared functionally extinct in the West, more than 5,000 were turned in for bounty in Montana alone. Almost 20 years later, when MT re-instituted its bounty, more than 4,000 wolves were turned in for bounty in MT.

        In the absence of compromise and legitimate state management, we may be caught between legislative attempts to remove wolves from ESA protections, and/or designed to provide federal protections for wolves (akin to the wild, free-roaming horses and burros act or migratory bird treaty act).

      • JB Says:

        I will add that people need to consider the alternatives sans federal protections. Currently, Idaho Code declares that, “[all wildlife] shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed.” I do not see how a state could claim to meet this statutory obligation without at least maintaining a minimum viable population of a species. Note: this language is codified in Idaho law AND (at minimum) implied by the public/wildlife trust doctrine.

      • Brian Ertz Says:


        your interpretation of the Idaho Code does not square up with legal advice already solicited as to its enforceability, nor of the statute as exercised, nor would it trump statute as codified in the wolf management plan, a plan which prescribes reduction in numbers to just over 100 wolves. we can not count on the public trust doctrine, it has not been tested to a degree which provides any assurance at the state level.


        the settlement is not “middle-ground” nor is it legal. As to whether our group would be willing to join others should threat of legislation wane, I couldn’t answer.

        it’s not middle-ground because it’s not specific — it doesn’t assure wolves won’t be slaughtered wholesale, it doesn’t assure much of anything. the question has always been the degree to which a settlement is explicit in its “trip-lines” for relisting, or delisting, or any action. it hasn’t been specific for any… each and every one of the meaningful terms that the pro-settling wolf advocates might point it is vague … they rely on nothing specific, granting entirely too much deference to the determinations of hostile parties – or parties that have overwhelmingly demonstrated themselves to be subject to political interference/intimidation.

        think of it like this: can you imagine the hell of trying to enforce any of the stipulations of that agreement ? NO … it’s a WEAK settlement document … it’s a settlement for settlement’s sake – the pro-settling groups took a look at the mean glare of the anti’s and folded – it’s not a document that protects wolves.

        your assessment of Idaho’s would-be management is way off base, out of accord with statements and indications demonstrated over the past several years by key decision-makers – and is an optimistic to the point of outlandish — at best. The state has shown no indication of their willingness to do anything other than use what language of science they have as a thinly-veiled front to gain control …

        the bottom line is simple — both of your positions are rational if the rules of the playing field were governed by reason and good faith. they are not. that’s where your assumptions fail – i.e. in assuming that the actors are using rational-based policy-making decisions. in the absence of reasonable assurances of previous experience which would give cause for trust, demonstrable acts of good faith, etc. it is incumbent upon any group claiming to serve the interest of wolves and those who advocate for their and the general environmental well-being to secure explicit language codifying those assurances.

        we can not “trust” that the states will act on good faith.

        they have not. they will not. given experience, it is UNreasonable to assume that they will.

        the bottom line as to what that means for advocacy ? wolf advocates — hell, not even wolf advocates, but rational actors — have a heck of a lot more influence at the federal level – while federal rules of public oversight and regulation clearly apply. once that focal point of management is turned over to the states (once again, if you’ve been paying attention: less-than rational actors) — even with federal oversight as proposed in a post-delisting period (5 years …), it is going to be a hell of a lot more difficult to regain those rational mechanisms of management than it is to hold on at the federal level now — it is not wise, nor we have argued before a federal judge, legally permissible given the clear direction of statute – to cut loose a species into such a legally obscure/vague management regime – particularly given the flagrant hostility that exists — hostility, it might be added, that is directly identified in the original recovery plan/document as being fundamentally responsible for the wolves’ imperilment in the first place.

        most folk – and you (WM) especially – seem to forget. The ESA does not simply require that a population meet recovery goals. It also requires that recovery be assured into the future. That’s where the states are currently falling short – they’re not willing to ensure viable numbers. 100-150 wolves in Idaho is not supported by credible science.

        the goal: insisting on meaningful, codified assurances that ensure science, public oversight, and other enforceable provisions of law not only provide for a viable population now —- but ensure a viable population into the future.

        is anyone so naive as to believe that given the current political climate it would be politically realistic to ‘relist’ under the conditions of a vague, politically charged lack of determination of viability should the states over-reach ? no … once wolves are let go to the states, it will be much more difficult – a hundred times over – for scientists, advocates, people who give a rip about ANY wolves being present on the landscape in even a marginally relevant way – to have ANY input into how wolves are managed at all.

        for wolves’ sake — and for the ESA’s sake — it is NOT advantageous to take the position that this animal is too politically hot, and that it is wise to release this population to the flagrantly hostile states in the absence of clear – legally determinate – bounds by which the states must operate.

        both of your positions WREAK of political exhaustion – which is fine on an individual, even a rational level. we can agree on a great many of the realities to that effect which would support your conclusions. we can speculate on the likelihood that wolves’ populations will be halved, or less – or more … or that congress will act, or not act … or that people will hate us – or love us … or that wolves will in effect be better served, or less well served … but in terms of the law and the willingness of myself and the organization for which i work to react — i will be advocating based on basic contract theory — the basic theory of regulation. that is – protections counted on are best explicit and enforceable – written down. expectations are best made explicit.

        the settlement and the delisting rule both fall irretrievably short of that very basic, very rational standard.

        make no mistake – wolf advocates have proposed exceptionally reasonable, many might might even suggest overly generous, terms that accounted for and responded to each and every one of the principle complaints that anti-wolfers have voiced. terms which provided clearly defined conditions under which the states could exercise control. those terms, which directly responded to rational anti-wolf qualms, were rejected over and over again.

        the states don’t want clear terms.

        you are free to speculate as to the rest.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Wow! I have no affilitation w/ BBB or whatever. I am w/ Save Bears, ELK, and others that love wolves and enjoy them in the NRM, but feel that they are a “recovered” species, thus should be placed under state control. Which, by the way means using hunting as an effective means of “managing” the population.

        I post only this blog and the Primos bowhunting forums. Most other blogs/forums both pro and anti have turned me off. The morons on most hunting sites are completely clueless and the same w/ many pro wolf/conservation (?) blogs…

      • Salle Says:

        My, Ill have to try and present this in segments with regard to different points made above.

        I see this issue, partly, as a cultural issue with the faction of those who disapprove of wolves at all times for some belief they have… often based on some kind of cultural mythology Europeans brought here with the rest of their cultural norms. Only this is cultural disapproval on steroids at the present time. The faction who disapproves of wolves are so dead set against them that they have demonized the species as some nonwildlife thing that is nothing but pure evil and they must be destroyed before they bring ruination to the culture and its world. They use little, if any, viable scientific evidence to back any of their arguments and only use what they see as science-based information ~ reinterpreted to fit their argument ~ as their scientific database. Most of the argument is based on nonfacts such as the claim that wolves eat everything in sight and then turn on each other; or that wolves breed several times a year and will soon be eating children at bus stops (a Larry Craig favorite).

        From what I have seen on the advocacy side is that there have been numerous attempts ~ too numerous to count ~ at compromise with the opposing faction with the compromises coming from advocates (including the 10j rule) and none offered or given by the opposing faction. Each compromise was met with yet more demands from the opposing faction for more compromise from the advocacy faction.

        State and federal agencies were a mixed bag of views from legislative MOUs deeming wolves the enemy and forbidding agency personnel to have anything to do with them to concerted efforts to comply with the ESA and processes of management. Then there were the “other” federal agencies, WS in particular, that had other ideas.

        The scientific community were all aflutter with this great new opportunity to study this charismatic but mysterious species more than they had ever had a chance to.


        Few people, especially with this argument, have actually read the ESA, the whole thing, and understand what it says, why it was enacted and what the definitions of recovery and endangerment encompass.

        As for the factual evidence that the past 17 years or so of research since reintroduction… wolves do self-regulate their numbers within packs, they base this pack size on amount of prey within the established range they inhabit. This is accomplished by dispersers, deaths and not reproducing during some years. In addition, wolves have been found to benefit ecosystems in ways unimagined previously by returning elk herds, and other ungulates, to their natural mode of activity which is to become roving ungulates once again instead of stationary cattle in predictable places where they devour riparian systems and cultivate disease among their numbers as examples. (This point is one of contention for the anti-wolf hunting crowd – not saying all hunters make this claim but those who blame wolves for their dismay in hunting success will – because they too have grown accustomed to elk acting more like cattle than in their natural role. Wolves keep them on the move which is what needs to happen, it keeps their numbers from exploding and becoming a detriment to their habitat and themselves which perpetuates disease and starvation. Hunters don’t seem to like their mobility as far as I can tell. Also, how do you hunt wolves without disrupting their pack dynamics? they are a social animal and the young must learn how and what to hunt from their parents. How would hunters know whether they are about to shoot an alpha or a subadult? Who will educate these hunters on the reasons why knowing the difference matters? With animals who have intellect to such a degree, how is it that they should be hunted at all? because they can’t be trusted by humans? Because they are evil? Really? Their self – regulation for the sake of survival indicates, at least to me, that this activity is unnecessary and unrealistic.

        As for the ranching community, I think that those who rely on WS to do their bidding when confronted with their own lack of effort to protect their livelihood should clean up their act and do their jobs. the Dept of Ag should scrutinize their management practices before sending out a hit squad – at a major expense to the taxpaying public on public lands no less – for them to avoid actually doing their jobs. Any other workforce would be subject to job performance review, apparently ranchers get some sort of get out of work free pass and get rewarded for failing year after year.

        What needs to happen, whether new participants join the discourse or the same participants continue, is that everybody calm down, remember that they are adults and realize these basic truths; things will not be as they were during the few decades prior to reintroduction of the species for hunters, ranchers, wildlife advocates and the general public. These participants also need to look at the scientific evidence, favorable to their views or not, and realize that this reintroduction was enacted with the understanding that the ESA requires recovery efforts and that judicial review is the remedy for dispute as stated in the Act contrary to some popular claims of over-use of the courts. Our society has messed up our own environment and there are some who would like to halt the destruction and try to retain some of what’s left.

        In my opinion, I find that this should be a no-brainer but I was, in the past, sadly mistaken about the vehement rejection by those who feel that wolves are somehow not a species of merit. What I take issue with is the crowd that claims that the world is coming to an end because wolves have returned to part of their native range. They haven’t returned to more than 7 – 9% of their overall range to date, therefore, I don’t call this a significant portion of their native range and thus not recovered.

        Where I find the ESA slightly deficient is in the lack of anticipation of the opposing factions and their manner of making their voices heard. Bullying and violence and threats of violence against advocates and wolves is what the advocacy is up against in general. It’s not about the biology or the law at this point, it’s about culture and whether those who can’t accept that change is a part of life and that a culture of non-change is no longer an option. I know a biologist who told me back before 2000 that he heard all the same arguments against cougars before the wolves came back. It’s that there is a certain faction of people who can’t accept that predators are good for the environment and that the health of the environment isn’t subject to human whim, it’s either healthy – regardless of convenience for humans – or it is not. There’s no in between here and this is a point that few are willing to accept. But that is also the biggest part that needs to change.

      • JB Says:


        I understand the public/wildlife trust doctrine is “untested.” It is telling that in his recent decision regarding the delisting of grizzly bears in the GYE, judge Molloy does not even consider the doctrine as an enforceable regulatory mechanism. However, you should know that those trained in wildlife science and management are aware of the obligation, as is the scientific society that credentials them. In fact, the Wildlife Society has been encouraging states to codify in law both the notion of collective ownership and states’ obligation with respect to their citizen-beneficiaries for a number of years.

        FYI: Since this doctrine derives from a combination of state, federal and common law, I would not be so quick to dismiss it as unenforceable against the state.

    • WM Says:


      I doubt you will see any effort put forward by states, at least the Western states, to acknowledge any kind of “public trust” wildlife duties. This is likely especially true for MT, which even now has been pushed into that corner with the recent BFC/WWP (not sure who the plaintiffs are since it has been several months since the complaint was filed) trying to stick it to MTGFP for turning over to Ted Turner the first batch of disease free bison to quarentine in exchange for a portion of their offspring (the state claims not to have money for this, and the offering of some genetically pure bison to this known operation would surely have been an enticement). The issue, there, if I recall correctly was privatization of public wildlife. Don’t know where that case is in litigation at this point, but I would predict a loss.

      I think states (politically) will be taken kicking and screaming with any attempts to formally acknowledge a public trust doctrine for wildlife, even on the recommendation of their respective wildlife management agencies, because there will be attempts to apply the doctrine in ways not anticipated at the time the doctine is created/acknowledged. Sad, but true.

      Even your own paraphrasing of the Idaho Code regarding their statutory obligations toward wildlife suggests second guessing what a state intends. No way will states box themselves in like that. I think that is even true for the state of CA, which had some litigation a couple years back in which challengers attempted to construe and convince a state court of a public trust obligation, where none existed.

      • JB Says:


        I don’t expect any effort on the part of state governments (though there already has been movement to codify elements of a PTD for wildlife, thanks, in part, to the Wildlife Society). What I expect is that challenges will come (this is already happening, as you note) and, courts will eventually recognize that collective ownership of wildlife comes with an obligation to conserve. I don’t expect this to happen over night, but the analogy to water law is unmistakable for anyone with their eyes open (in fact, there are already a number of law reviews that have argued for the direct application of the PTD to wildlife). States may try not to “box themselves in” but I suspect courts will take a different view.

        P.S. I don’t know the facts of the Montana case, so I won’t be making any wagers. 😉

  18. Meag Says:

    Since the baggers are not so big on the whole ‘logic’ and ‘science’ side of the spectrum, I can only hope that this has not come far too late.

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