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Twenty years ago, conservationist Whitney Tilt worked to build "a popular consensus" for bringing wolves back to the northern Rockies. Today, frustrated by squabbling amongst environmentalists and other groups, he believes it is important to take stock of how far the region has come with wolf recovery. He believes success and taking the animals off the federal protection list is a cause for celebration, not acrimony.

Celebrate Wolf Recovery, Delisting, And Stop Slinging Arrows

In 1987, when Yellowstone wolf reintroduction was a hope, not a reality, I was one of a small group of wildlife conservationists seeking to work cooperatively with the federal land managers and the state wildlife agencies to create a popular consensus for wolf reintroduction.

At the outset, we recognized that while recovery of an endangered species was both legally required and ecologically desirable, there was an overall need to build a popular support for wolves among the humans who would have to live with them as neighbors. We recognized that it was not sufficient merely to speak of “the national interest” or cite the faceless millions who might gain satisfaction from merely knowing that the wolf exists in someone else’s back yard. Our experience told us that successful wolf recovery required the citizens of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to be convinced that sharing the land with wolves worked in their best interest and need not result in socioeconomic loss.

Twenty years later, the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction has succeeded beyond anything we could have imaged in 1987. The wolves have proven themselves to be adaptable, resilient and generally good neighbors. Many dedicated people have toiled on their behalf. So with the news that the gray wolf is proposed to be delisted, why aren’t the wolf supporters celebrating? Instead of champagne we have threatened law suits. Instead of “congratulations” and “thanks yous” to ranchers, forest rangers, and environmentalists – all who played a role in the wolf’s success– we get doomsday forecasts and changing agendas.

We now have wolves where the original restoration plans stated we wanted them—in and around Yellowstone National Park. We should welcome the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming assuming management – the goal of the Endangered Species Act is to recover species not enshrine them as wards of the federal government. Rather than inventing scenarios of how each state “might” manage wolves, let’s turn our energies to working cooperatively with the states to conserve wolves in balance with other lawfully protected uses of public and private lands including ranching, hunting, off-road vehicle use, and other activities. One specific concern is funding as wolf management is expensive and could prove a major drain on already stressed state wildlife management budgets. How can we work to ensure adequate funding for our state wildlife agencies?

Here is a good use of our energies: Wolves and the people who live with wolves don’t need lawsuits to determine how they will live together in the future. They need to be left alone. If a land owner feels threatened by the presence or actions of a wolf, then he or she should be allowed to protect their land and property – either by taking direct action themselves or calling for assistance. As for the future of wolves in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding national forest lands, there is a dedicated cadre of professionals overseen by a wide range of constituencies. They don’t always agree, but they manage to muddle through, in spite of the disagreements.

So give the lawyers some time off, and celebrate a milestone of wildlife management. Better yet take a rancher or local county commissioner to lunch as a small way to say thank you. America is blessed with a system of public lands and wildlife management agencies second to none in the world. Dare to trust the overall commitment of the citizens of the Northern Rocky Mountains to continue to ensure the wolf’s presence in Yellowstone and dare to believe that the wolf is here to stay.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whitney Tilt lives in Bozeman following a long and distinquished career in conservation that has taken him around the world. He is a former director of conservation for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. As a former conservation specialist with the National Audubon Society, he worked on gray wolf and grizzly bear issues in the Northern Rockies, as well as endangered species recovery efforts ranging from whooping cranes to Asian tigers from 1985 to 2002. In the late 1970s, he ranched in Tetonia, Idaho.

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  1. Thank you for an outstanding dose of common sense. You seem to be all about the wolves. Others seem to use wolves as a wedge issue for other purposes such as anti-cattle, anti-ranching, anti-hunting, anti-development, etc.

  2. Thank God, someone with a brain and a heart and they are working in tandem. Why is it when Defenders, et al actually win a massive victory, they end up bringing in a slew of environmental law firms and pretending they have a massive problem.

    When it becomes about the wolves and the people then maybe the arguments will cease, unfortunately it is about fund raising and public relations not preserving wildlife and rural cultures.

  3. Great article! To the true Environmentalists this is a victory. To the radicle environmentalists it is a loss of control. It’s not about the wolves or recovery it’s about control of the land.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. A breath of common sense! So many wounds could be healed if environmentalists followed your advice and then contributed significant money to the wildlife funds of the three states to help with the costs. In my state of Wyoming a half a million residents total are expected to take on this expense by themselves.

  5. Finally, common sense from a lifetime of conservation work. A breath of fresh air. Needed. But I suppose now Mr. Tilt will pay for being an infidel as the radical wolfists cry for jihad in Biologistan.

  6. A very well thought out article on the truth of the situation, both sides are so polarized that neither side will stand back take a breath and realize what has been accomplished, the wolf reintroduction is indeed a success, now energies must be put to the state management of the wolves, instead of padding the pockets of lawyers on both sides, there are many important issues in the environment that demand the attention of the conservation groups, this one is a success, now it is time to move forward.

  7. Well Whitney, you’ve gotten applause for your opinion from the usual Republican illuminati. It’s unfortunate that you’ve missed what’s actually going on with the wolf lawsuits.

    Your heros, ranchers and county commissioners, and I suppose big game outfitters, not to mention the other sagebrush rebels, for whom no undeveloped land shall be left unruined, have deliberately spiked the management plans of the States of Wyoming and Idaho in ways that are both illegal and unscientific.

    I assume you’ve read the relevant wolf documents going back 20 years; rest assured, so have I and other conservationists. So I won’t bother to import long quotations from them. If the illuminati want to know what’s in the documents, they can do their own research.

    Wyoming’s dual status law–trophy game in northwest Wyoming, predatory animal status in the rest of the State–violates both the Endangered Species Act and the 1994 final rule for reintroduction. The former requires restoration of T&E species to their historical ranges, not to arbitrarily and politically determined lines in the sand; the latter specifically informs Wyoming that predatory animal status will prevent delisting.

    The original Wyoming wolf plan, written by the Trophy Game biologists in the Wyoming G&F Department, called for trophy game status throughout the state, which would have been legal. However, the livestock and outfitting industries, plus their minions in the State Legislature, wanted different and overruled the biologists–they were determined to try to keep wolves locked up in Yellowstone National Park and kill every wolf that steps over the line, which these days, is most of the wolves.

    I hope you won’t try to deny that bureaucrats, politicians, and other industry apologists have stated their intent to keep wolves at the bare minimums in public, using primarily aerial gunning. (The Wyoming G&F Department just admitted this in a story published in the Casper Star Tribune yesterday. Look it up). I take them at their word. They’ve kept their word on such things, such as elk feedgrounds and bison slaughter. When it comes to following the orders of the Republican oligarchy, G&F toes the line.

    Of course, until Dirk Kempthorne took over at Interior, the FWS kept rejecting Wyoming’s dual status plan because it was and is illegal. It’s sudden arbitrary and capricous flip flop to approve dual status might, I suspect, get a judge’s attention, which is one reason for suing.

    Scientifically, Wyoming and Idaho’s plans deliberately obstruct the functioning of a wolf metapopulation throughout the recovery area. The determination of the States to reduce wolf populations to the so-called minimums is the primary piece of evidence for the states’ intent to obstruct the metapopulation.

    In short, we are going to court because the FWS has failed to follow the law and its own rules, and because the states of Idaho and Wyoming are determined to break the law.

    It is tragic. Had Wyoming applied trophy game status to wolves throughout the state, with enforceable rules for SUSTAINABLE harvest of wolves, and had Wyoming and Idaho not proclaimed their determination to manage wolves at the most minimum numbers they could wrangle out of the FWS, wolves would have been delisted successfully five years ago.

    But no, thanks to their intransigence, Wyoming and Idaho have delayed delisting for who knows how long?

    There is a price for ignorance and arrogance.


  8. The problem is that wolf management still done more like a century ago instead moving into the 21st Century. All of the state wildlife agencies are incapable of managing predators. Yes they will keep them from going extinct–but their attitude is one where predators are still seen as the unwanted guests. Until these attitudes change–and are reflected in the way predators are managed–you can count on more law suits. Thank god some groups have the guts to challenge archaic wildlife management practices and try to move them into the next century.

    And it’s also time to bring the ranchers into the 21st Century. No longer will the rest of continue to subsidize their operations by killing predators. It’s time for them to adopt animal husbandry practices that preclude and minimize predator conflicts. Until the welfare ranchers around the West stop externalizing their operational costs on to the rest of us, including the costs of reducing predator opportunity, you can expect others to push back.

  9. As I see it, these confrontations were inevitable. The reintroduction did not address the trigger point for management measures and nor did it address the method for management once the trigger point was reached. All of this should have been hashed out at the beginning so that the recovery could be universally celebrated.

  10. There has been no delay in delisting so far, that will be determine by the Judge, who will have to order and injunction, which has not happened yet, in order to that to happen, he must feel their is merit to the case and it stands a good chance of prevailing. Time will tell which way this goes, but I also agree, that Wyoming should not have classified them as predators…in most parts of the states, but I suspect this may change in the future.

  11. Craig

    Go back and read the original documents, particulary the Gray Wolf FEIS and the 1994 Final Rule for Reintroduction. You can find these documents on the FWS Gray Wolf Site.

    These issues were in fact hashed out in detail, using the 10j rules. For example, the trigger point for controlling wolves that depredated on livestock was the achievement of 6 breeding pairs in each of the three recovery areas.

    What’s happened is that George Bush took over the US government and the administration started breaking the rules, the most important of which was, and is, basing management on science, not the worst sort of politics. This is true across the board of all public policy issues.


    You make an excellent point. A 21st century approach to predator management would account for the ecological benefits of predators, which must involve and take advantage of the predator-prey-habitat relationships that evolved over hundreds of thousands and millions of years. We’re already seeing those benefits in Yellowstone National Park. We’d see those benefits more clearly outside the Park if wolves weren’t so heavily controlled.

    Quite frankly, it’s time we stop subsidizing the livestock industry. It’s time that it learns to stand on its own four legs without raiding the public purse. Without subsidies, those ranchers that adapt, will thrive. Those that don’t, won’t. And that’s how it should be. After all, the rest of us have to follow those rules.


  12. Save Bears

    Having lived through the entire wolf recovery process in Wyoming, it seems to me that until Wyoming is forced to adopt trophy game status for wolves throughout the entire state and to implement a plan that sustains wolves throughout the entire state, we are going to continue this impasse over delisting.

    Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal could have cut this process short by vetoing the dual status law, but like most politcians, what matters to him is re-election. So he has to take some responsibility for this mess. After all, he was formerly the US Attorney for Wyoming; he knows what’s legal and what’s illegal. He’s just stringing this issue out for his political welfare.


  13. As a Montana resident, I would love to see the delisting severed and taken on a state by state basis, I have long felt we are where we are currently at due to Wyoming’s flawed plan, we should be able to see the fruits of a better plan move forward and until such time we all pay the price…

  14. Well Whitney, sadly the Environmental folks who I felt would surely give your article some thought & try to ease some of the conflict is being trashed. I guess the wolf introduction really is about controlling other people, and getting rid of ranchers.
    Robert ,they brought in more than 6 packs to both Wyoming & Idaho, Montana already had them. Several pairs had pups the first spring. The wolves were to be controlled after predating twice on the same property.

  15. Well, Mr. Tilt, see what you get for being a conservationist with a conscience?

  16. Wolves have proven to be more adaptable than the anti-wolf humans. After all the money (subsidies) and effort that federal agencies bestowed upon livestock interests, not much has changed. One could certainly argue that attitudes are worse than 20 years ago. Social engineering our way to better public land management hasn’t worked. Deregulation (delisting) won’t either. Delisting won’t make life any easier for wolves to survive, and it certainly won’t make sheep and cattle ranchers any more friendly toward wolves and other predators. Many ranchers can’t even share the grass with deer and elk. Sorry Mr. Tilt, premature delisting is little more than a false (political) victory for federal bureaucrats and industry. It’s way too soon to celebrate.

  17. please keep me updated on the wolf issue. i am in love with them. they are fabulous. i wish them all the best. they are more kind , and family like than humans. nancy butler

  18. Robert,

    If the management plan had been included there would be no argument over delisting or over hunting. Those decisions would have been triggered by wolf population reaching a target number. Personally, I find it distasteful that they are now going to be shot. The Montana proposed regualation, I believe, allows for the meat to spoil in the field while recovering the head and hide. The cries of pain from wounded canines is sickening to me. I have witnessed ferral dogs being shot. I want no part of it.

  19. Craig

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Let me restate: had Wyoming gone with trophy game status statewide, with regulated take statewide, its wolf plan would have been legal and would have been approved long ago, and wolves would now be delisted. Delisting requires a reasonable distribution of wolves over the recovery area. With a wide distribution, densities if not numbers would be lower than what we have now.

    The 30 breeding pairs/300 wolf number was nothing more than a “trigger” for delisting; it was never intended to be a cap, or a “promise” that that would be all the wolves there would be. The FEIS clearly envisioned more wolves than the “delisting trigger” and a much wider distribution than Yellowstone National Park. (That is, no one promised wolves would never leave the Park. That’s just one of the many rural myths about wolves you hear). The map of the recovery area includes the entire state of Wyoming, for example; the recovery area was not limited to the Greater Yellowstone, as the FWS is now trying to argue for.

    However, the delisting criteria were a lot more involved and complex than just a “trigger number” of 30 breeding pairs across the recovery area. Appendix 11 of the FEIS lays out in a few pages just what those criteria were.

    I think to a degree, Wyoming’s intransigence over dual status influenced Idaho’s plan, but Idaho had the smarts to be a lot more vague about its intent (at least until Butch Otter entered the Governor’s mansion), and that’s why its plan was initially approved. With time, the problems with Idaho’s plan have become more clear, as the intent of Idaho State government has become more clear. Quite frankly, the brouhaha over bighorn sheep and canned elk hunting in Idaho has merely deepened the lack of trust people have in Idaho’s commitment to wolf conservation, or wildlife conservation in general.

    Quite frankly, the abandonment of meat is legal for all trophy game animals in Wyoming, or the equivalent in other states. I’ve eaten mountain lion, which isn’t bad, and if you’re going to hunt lions, then you should keep the carcass and cook it up. Bear is too fatty for my taste, but a lot of people do eat bear meat. Few people would or do eat wolf. I myself have never tasted wolf, but I have heard it is deplorable–what is sometimes called “starvation meat” in Alaska and Canada.

    However, taking the meat is not legally required. Of course, what gets left behind is scavanged pretty quickly.

    Feral dogs are legally fair game; everyone around here shoots them if the chance presents itself without a second thought. If a feral dog got into my horses, I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot it, although I believe in one bullet, one kill. Some people do shoot to wound, and that’s unconscionable.

    Feral dogs are actually more of a threat to livestock than wild canids, especially to sheep, since sheep tend to die if you just look at them cross-eyed. Feral dogs kill far more sheep in Wyoming than coyotes or now wolves.

    To get back to wolf management and delisting, I guess what I’m saying is, if the ranchers and county commissioners and the outfitters hadn’t been so intransigent about wolf management and conservation over the last five years, we’d have delisted them a long time ago. Now it’s too late to be kissy-kissy, as too many “collaboration and consensus” conservationists now want. The issue has now moved to the courts, and that’s where it will be decided.


  20. No Robert, no plan is acceptable to wolf proponents. They are not dwelling on our wolf plan they are dwelling on numbers. the number of 100 per state 300 overall was the number they wanted when the wolves were brought in, now they want 2000 (which is probably a more accurate count) to 3000, in a couple of years when we have that they will want 30,000 because there aren’t in in NYC yet. They feel they need those wolves for “diversity” despite the wolf packs breeding back and forth like a swingers club.
    It is about control of other people period, there is not and has never been the slightest intention of delisting, that was just lies to get them hauled in. If you have studied much Wyoming history, you would know that it was notoriously difficult to kill wolves even for the wolfers who made a living full time at it. Even trying hard we will never see them brought down to where they supposedly are now. Read any early history of the difficulties with the wolves. Try reading copies of Otto Franc’s diary, or Calvin King’s Reasons for the Decline of Wildlife in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming. Learn the truth, this is not a Disney movie and the ending is going to be disastrous for our ungulates.
    They can’t control them in Alaska even with liberal trapping laws and where they are considered what they are….a predator.
    Unfortunately they will file their lawsuits in their environmental judges court and get what they want.

  21. Marion:

    The reason that I, and many other wolf supporters, want to see more wolves is not about controlling people. We feel that state wildlife agencies are not managing predators based upon good ecological science, but rather upon out dated and archaic ideas about predators based largely on the premise that predators need to be controlled.

    Rather than using ecological knowledge in their management plans, the state wildlife agencies have defaulted to the old predators need to be controlled bias that has dominated predator-human relations for decades.

    Unfortunately, the state wolf plans in all cases will INCREASE human conflicts rather than reduce them because they are based on archaic wildlife management ideas. Shooting wolves disrupts social networks, skews remaining wolf numbers towards younger age, and greater pup production, that in turn results in greater likelihood of livestock predation, and even greater need for killing prey.

    So if you want to make sure you have human conflicts than you follow the archaic plans put forth by state governments. What these plans will do is beget more killing, and the more you kill, the more conflicts you will have, and the more support there will be for even more wolf killing.

    It is not unlike the same situation that exists with coyote control–which has been shown by research to contribute to greater predator conflicts with livestock owners–yet it continues to be the dominant management paradigm because ranchers refuse to believe in science and agencies like Wildlife Services do not want to reduce funding for their bureaucracy, so of course, do nothing to educate ranchers to change their views. Instead coyote killing persists despite its failure to halt predator conflicts.

    I don’t want more conflicts. I want humans and predators to have a better relationship. Unfortunately that will not happen under the proposed management paradigm that dominates state wildlife agencies. That is why I am opposed to delisting of the wolves.

    Marion, since you are always a staunch defenders of the livestock industry, I would think you would oppose state management plans as well–since they will by design increase predator conflicts.

  22. That is a misleading insinuation. Most people want delisting at some point. I think Tester is no different – hell most enviros want it to happen at the right time in the right way. But the Kempthorne hurry up offense has turned everyone off. There are numerous examples of state coalitions building consensus so as to work together whether to manage wildlife or forest, even water usage. The problem, seems to be that Kempy jumped the gun and Wyoming and Idaho politics riled up interests and unilaterally came up with plans. The divisive politics have created the litigation – and this will be in court until at least November ’08 elections. I don’t think we are too far beyond consensus, but the current plans have certainly provided a set back to good management policy.
    Marion, that is ridiculous.

  23. State and federal agencies continue to count numbers of wolves (and other T & E species) with little regard for the quantity or quality of the habitat. One of the problems of the computer age, I suppose. It is a lot to expect of any wildlife species to survive in impaired habitat. These areas of impaired habitat need to be addressed, and improved, to make any reintroduction/recovery plan more likely to succeed.

  24. craig,…notice the Senator’s stress on MONTANA;s plan. MT has a much more cool headed approach, but the politicization of this issue in other places is concerning. As I said, I think most enviros even want delisting at the right time, with intelligent plans. The problem seems that science played a BIG role in writing the reintroduction policy, but when political leaders change, so do agendas. Politicos, scientists, AND communities can work to do the right thing here. But, Kempthorne’s excitement to hurry with this just tastes bad and people know it.

  25. A lot of what Whitney says is just fact; what he does not say or acknowledge is that the governments of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are anti-wolf and their initial wolf mis-management plans were intended to hammer each and every wolf population possible. The threat of lawsuits and vocal opposition has caused at least Idaho to rethink its initially very flawed plan (we hope).

  26. Ben, the “good move” Tester is commenting about is the Kempthorne action.

  27. quote:”A lot of what Whitney says is just fact” end quote by Jerry.

    Alright you guys it is time to knock off dealing with facts, we can have none of that here! What we are supposed to be dealing with is what someone thinks might possibly, perhaps, could happen. No more facts now! Goodness.

  28. Marion, you mean like the fact that Dem Senator, Jon Tester, is in favor of killing excess wolves in accordance with the Montana management plan?

  29. The whole premise of the delisting is that you have to accept teh fact that wolves have been “restored”. Wolves once roamed coast to coast in this country.How can we delist an animal that inhabits a fraction of it’s former habitat? Is a fraction of it’s former numbers? That is constantly in danger of extermination and the hands of ranchers,poachers, and other irrational wolf haters who still believe the Earth belongs to humans only?

  30. Funny NIMBY claim. Can’t science and community input coexist?

  31. Matt, if you want wolves across this great land, by all means start loading them up and hauling them away. They aren’t going to get there from here otherwise. It is rather idiotic to insist that we have to have them denning under our houses becasue there aren’t any in DC yet.
    They need to be controlled to prevent disease, to protect people and domestic animals, to protect wildlife. Come out of the fog and face reality.

  32. Arrgh. Hyperbole, again.

  33. Ben, arrgh? Don’t you mean ‘woof!’

  34. Marion,

    Of course we won’t put them in DC, but we can put them in the smokies, the Ozarks, the Adirondacks, etc. It’s time to fix what we have ruined.

    As far as elk roaming coast to coast, we are restoring them to the east too, which is the right thing to do.

  35. I don’t care where you want them, why do we have to keep raising more and more until they get crowded to where you want them. If you want them, load up some, and haul them there, jsut like these got brought here. That way they don’t get killed by either humans or other wolves fighting for food.
    Did you read the elk report out today? 6200 elk left and only 1/3 of them left in Yellowstone, that is just over 2000. We used to see that many grazing in meadows and on hillsides in one day. They have moved north to escape the wolves. That borders on criminal.

  36. A lot of good comments here. When I wrote the article, it was to dare us to celebrate what we have accomplished with wolf restoration in the Yellowstone region. I firmly believe that delisting is the celebratory act intended by the Endangered Species Act. It is an action we have done too few times in the years since 1973. Instead we put species on the ESA list and make them perpetual wards of the federal government. This box score approach to management of rare and endangered species does little for the species — though it gives plenty of non-profit organizations a raison d’être.

    I have more faith in the state fish and game agencies, including Wyoming Game and Fish, than many of the responders. These are the agencies that day in and day out deal with all wildlife. Like the federal agencies, they do some things well and some things less so, but they are closer to the ground and often the most knowledgeable about wildlife. Let’s also not forget that the core of the Yellowstone wolf population will continue to be the responsibility of the National Park Service and the USDA-Forest Service will continue to have an important management role.

    Last I would like to restate my belief that the wolf is its own best spokesanimal. Let’s get out of the way and let the wolf and the property owners work it out. I’m willing to bet it will work as well or better than the current group grope.

  37. It is becoming mroe and more clear that the issue is not a speicies is it about money and control. And control by people who are not chosen in anyway except by themselves and the money and power they have gotten from misuse of the courts and certain judges. The same judges tend to be the ones they file their suits in over and over.
    Earthjustice neeeds to change their banner from “taking back the country”, whatever that is supposed to mean to “taking over the country”, because that is what they are attempting, and unfortunately succeeding at.

  38. Whitney

    I had hoped you would have addressed the argument, which is a serious one, that delisting is illegal and has little scientific merit. But, I suppose it’s easier to ignore the law and science, as the so-called Greater Yellowstone Coalition has done, in favor of “breaking bread together in trust and fellowship.”

    (I did see that GYC has put out a pretty little tourist map for the Cody country to promote economic development, as if the Cody country needs more touristic boosting. Nice to know where GYC’s priorities are).

    The only thing I trust the Stockgrowers, the Woolgrowers, and SFW (front for livestock and outfitting industries) to do is force G&F to kill every wolf that moves.

    In Wyoming, were wolf management solely up to the G&F biologists, I wouldn’t have a problem with delisting. The Redshirts are by and large good guys and gals who take their jobs of wildlife conservation and management seriously, and do the best they can.

    After all, the biologists pushed for wolf trophy game status and regulated take throughout the State, but were overruled unceremoniously by the bureaucrats in Cheyenne, who answer primarily to the Stockgrowers and whomever else their careers and high salaries depend upon.

    You’re just flat wrong on this one.


  39. Robert, EXACTLY what is illegal about a delisting that according to the original plan was supposed to have taken place over a thousand wolves ago? Details would be appropriate.
    I know it would have been illegal to introduce them according the the ESA if they had not developed the 10j rule that allowed them to introduce a species outside of it’s current range. I’m not at all sure how they slipped around the importing exotic animals from a foreign country ban.

  40. Whitney:

    I would celebrate if the attitudes of the various state agencies had changed from the last century. State wildlife agencies still see wolves as a “problem” rather than welcoming wolves as a critical and important element of a healthy ecosystem.

    Keep in mind, Whitney, the same ignorant local people now now want to kill wolves are the ideological descendants of the same kinds of people that opposed the creation of Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier. If it had been left to these states, we would not have wolves there now.

    State wildlife agencies are incapable of managing wolves and other predators. They have demonstrated this over and over again. Look at the way they handle mountain lions, coyotes and a host of other species. The management they are advocating will invariability make for greater conflicts with humans. Indiscriminate killing of wolves disrupts social organization–predators are not just numbers of animals. They have very complex relationships. State wildlife agencies act like they are some kind of interchangeable cogs in a wheel. Killing wolves skews wolf populations towards younger wolves, producing more pups, which in turn leads to greater livestock predation. If you wanted to ensure that wolves continued to get a bad rap, you would do exactly what state wildlife agencies are doing. And wolves will have to suffer because of these policies.

    When state wildlife agencies demonstrate they are willing and capable of managing wolves as real animals, not just statistics, than I’ll give them management authority. In the meantime, they don’t deserve the honor of having any control over the fate of these wolves.

  41. In the first place George, the residents and F&G of the three states have kept their word, and held up their end of the bargain. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it would be if the environmentalists would actually stick to their word. I guess that is expecting too much. You tend to think we are as deceptive as you are.
    When the few elk left inside of Yellowstone are gone and the wolves follow, you will never accept responsibilty for it and you will insist that it has to be someone else’s fault.
    I do not know of anyone except maybe a few eastern railroad magnates that did not want YNP, quit trying to cover your own lack of honesty.

  42. One should be flexible in management to react to new research and new insights. That, at least is what my objections are about with delisting.

    Wildlife agencies are operating with regards to predators much as they did a half century ago. We know a lot more about genetics, wildlife habitat uses, how wolves affect other wildlife, and the social interactions of wolves among packs and with other wildlife. Yet much of that insight is not reflected in current state agency wolf management plans.

    Would you want your doctor to operate as they did a half century ago, or would you want them to revise their practices to reflect new medical research?

    I think we should expect the same from wildlife managers, but unfortunately, whether because of political interference, bias, or other reasons, the state wildlife agencies are not up to speed when it comes their management plans reflecting predator ecology.

  43. Geo, it’s sort of telling that you combine your opposition to delisting wolves along with diatribes against ranchers. Seems to me that biological recovery of wolves is not your primary objective. More likely is that you and others of your viewpoint seek to maintain control while furthering your anti-ranching ideology.

    I’m a fourth-generation Montana rancher who raises cattle on land my grandparents bought back in the 1920’s. They worked their fingers to the bone to make the place work and still nearly lost it in the Depression. Cattle ranching remains a business with low profit margins and a high amount of risk. Compared to the exploding real estate prices, what ranchers make on their cattle is a pittance. It would be far more lucrative to sell out and live on the nest egg than to continue ranching in many cases. It’s more about maintaining a ranching lifestyle for you and your family; along with continuing a family heritage of working on the land than it is about maximizing profit.

    All the anti-ranching propagandists refer to people who raise livestock as “welfare ranchers”. Please be more specific about what “welfare” I receive from the government for raising cattle? I don’t graze federal lands by the way. Federal grazing leases are a separate issue. Allowing states to have a hunting season on wolves would actually generate money for the state through selling of licenses and the economic activity associated with hunting. It would help pay for wolf management costs just as hunting pays for the management of other wildlife species now.

    As for me personally, I’m certainly not anti-predator. During my three decades on the ranch, I have never shot a coyote despite countless opportunities to do so. My father is actually rather pro-coyote claiming that they help control the ground squirrel and mice population so maybe I’ve been influenced by him. I haven’t hunted mountain lions or bears either for that matter. They haven’t posed a significant threat to my livestock and I rather enjoy seeing them on occasion. The wolf situation threatens to be a different matter however. With wolf populations expanding 30% every year and dwindling numbers of ungulates in the Northern Yellowstone region, it’s just a matter of time before they show up in my area to prey on livestock as they have in neighboring counties. Yet these radical “environmentalist” organizations want to force the populace in the Northern Rockies to accept unlimited numbers of wolves and deny them the right to protect their property even on their own land. As others have previously pointed out, it’s more a matter of control, raising money from donors through emotional bambiesque pleas, and inflicting maximum damage on ranchers than it is about biological recovery of the species.

  44. Meanwhile in the real world away from the political battles and mountain of lies by landgrabbers using the wolf as their needle nose pliers to steal our private and public lands and dominate them with an iron fist and force us to eventually go live in some city away from the re-wilded agenda 21 of the U.N. charter Internationally owned thru appearing real legal theft and the crushing of our Constitution and Bill of Rights by some American people whom not only sell themselves out to Communism, but sell us all out as well. Lenin and Trotsky are back and at it again. When these little Marxists can longer go hike in those beautiful mountains I wonder if they will realize they did this to themselves. I doubt it, they will blame some dead guy like me. After we save America from these fools who destroy her we might want to consider this next link of fact finders to ponder.

    Funny how when the train wrecks and crashes off the tracks the political hacks jump off and point at one another while avoiding the truth and refusing to except fault, only thing is each one of us humans while pointing at the other has three fingers on their own hand pointing right back at themself…..

    Im on the ground in Idaho, snow machine, ski’s, shoes, dirt bike, and mostly horse back, and I’m wondering who will pay for the re-introduction of the Rocky Mountain elk, other wise known as Wapiti, that I assure you are going missing. Idaho does not have 175,000 elk, this is a political lie. We have been flying Idaho, and driving Idaho, I have hunted elk my entire life, I can find Elk, and that is the point, I have not found 175,000 elk, I have found maybe less than 10,000 elk. Now if the IFG could produce 175,000 head of elk, and FWS, and these wolf Advocates as well, well then PROVE IT. Lets go now.

    They can not hide in all that snow, so PROVE IT. Those of us whom know the truth and see thru this vail of lies KNOW YOU CAN NOT PROVE NOTHING.

    Oh by the way while tossing this spear to see you all duck, keep in mind I raised a wolf in the 70s, and love and admire the wolf, and would like this program to work out, BUT I WILL NOT LIE FOR THE WOLF political hacks and whine about false science, I will just stay on the ground and keep an honest count . Maybe the environmental side checks out a dictionary and looks up integrity, They better, because their pet is gonna starve soon, and then they will expect us rural folks to keep a wolfie dish on the porch with doggie biscuits in it. Wait, I already am.

  45. Greg

    I checked out your website, Save Our Elk. It was the first time I’d seen it.

    As a hunter and a naturalist, I am reminded once again of how alike the fundamentalist wolf haters and the fundamentalist anti-hunters are (not to mention the fundamentalist anti-abortion crowd). That is, you all have a passion for the visual pornography of death but no passion for the truths of natural history, the most important of which is that death happens and is essential to life.

    Your photos are simply photos of natural predation, something that all of us who spend time in the woods come across frequently. How is wolf predation on elk different from the predation of mink on muskrats or the predation of weasels on chipmunks or the predation of hawks on rabbits?

    If it looks messy, well, last time I checked, God didn’t issue .30-30s and a box of ammo to wolves. They have to use the teeth that God gave them.

    I am reminded further of an interesting fact from research that Stephen Kellert did for the Fish & Wildlife Service in the 1960s. He found that the class of people who knew the most about wildlife and natural history was fur trappers. He found that the classes of people who knew the least were sports hunters and animal rights activists, who were about equal in their ignorance.

    It appears that Kellert’s findings are still relevant.


    P.S. What truly bothers me in the photos is that you folks are using polluting snowmobiles in the Forest (which Forest I can’t tell), and are probably also violating winter range closures.

  46. Of course the snow machines bother you Robert, you cannot tolerate anyone else being able to use the forests….only those you deem “good enough”.
    You can be assured that the wolves will leave Yellowstone probably in less than 10 years, why? No elk and no moose to eat. A few may finally start killing buffalo, but most will go out of the park looking for elk further away and of course livestock. Some of those will be killed as they eat horses, sheep, cattle, etc, and it will be the “greedy rancher” who has destroyed them. And never once will you look in the mirror and see those that wanted more, more , more to try to push everyone else out are the ones responsible.
    I don’t understand how folks that think elk simply must be controlled, are totally oblivious to the need for control of wolves (an most predators) and buffalo.

  47. That was LOVE AND ADMIRE THE WOLF Robert, not hatred. I am also not a violater of closed areas or wilderness with my snow machine as suggested, sorry no criminal here, just pointing to the truth of elk decimation taking place in the West. Of course Im used to TRUTH BEGETS HATRED in America. I suppose your SUV is ok on designated roads in route to some trail head of your choice. I better go feed your wolfie, he is whining at my back door.

  48. I see Marion is up to the same tactics here as she is on other forums. Oh my, look it’s that 100/300 number again Marion. As usual you’re distorting the facts to your favor. Maybe you should find something more worthwhile to do with all the time you obviously have on your hands instead of hiding behind a computer screen.

  49. So what is your interpretation of the 100/300 number Jennifer? It always seems to amaze enviros that anyone took that number seriously.
    I am retired after working for 50+ years and I am horrified how environmental groups with no investment, no responsibility, and nothing to lose have gained so much control over private property in this country. I will continue to speak out and try to regain some common sense… it or lump it!