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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
If You Haven't Seen This
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Impeach the President?
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It's the system, stupid!
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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.

Wolf management decision in MT often based on opinion & politics

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 06:22:39 AM MST

That's one of the central points in a new paper titled "Hunting Wolves In Montana - Where Is The Data?" released by Montana indy wolf biologist Jay S. Mallonee.   Mallonee's review paper was published on September 3, 2011, in Nature and Science, a peer reviewed scientific journal, and can be downloaded over at Clean | Green | Sustainable.  
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Atlantic on Reverberations of the Wolf Rider

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 06:40:53 AM MST

From Skylar Browning, Missoula Independent Blog:

The Atlantic went ahead and declared the key environmental issue for the 2012 elections: endangered species.

Forget climate change, writes Associate Editor Nicole Allan. Democrats have invited a potential political problem ever since Montana's own Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Simpson championed the wolf rider, which delisted the gray wolf in the northern U.S.

Allan points out that the rider has created two major problems. The first is a rush of other proposals to delist species that may hold up development. Here's one example:

Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and James Inhofe (Okla.) have proposed amendments to an economic-development reauthorization bill that would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from extending ESA protections to two species prevalent in oil and gas country.

The other problem is something that's already riled some of Tester's former supporters.

By courting Western voters, however, the Democratic Party runs the risk of alienating its environmentalist base of donors and activists.
Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Cry, Wolf: How a campaign of fear & intimidation led to the gray wolf's removal from the ESA

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 13:35:48 PM MST

By James William Gibson
Earth Island Journal, Summer 2011


Discuss :: (0 Comments)

New Report Highlights Need for Changes in Predator Management Policies

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue May 24, 2011 at 11:38:18 AM MST

(Riding herd used to be a noble occupation ... - promoted by Rob Kailey)

A new report, which provides a synthesis of the latest science and research concerning predator management, highlights the need for changes in predator management policies throughout the western U.S.

The report was written by George Wuerthner, a former Montana hunting guide who previously worked as a biologist and botanist for several wildlife and land management agencies.  Wuerthner is also the author of 35 books dealing with natural history, conservation and environmental issues.  The report was commissioned by Big Wildlife, a non-profit conservation group working to protect predators throughout the west.

Key findings in the report include:

• Current state wildlife policies often maintain predator populations above extinction levels, but well below maximum biological carrying capacity.

• Predator policy typically ignores the ecological influence of predators in terms of their critically important influence upon ecosystem heath and organization.

• Management of predator populations, without consideration of the social organization of top predators, can lead to great conflicts with humans and livestock.

• Simple animal husbandry techniques have been shown to greatly reduce livestock losses from predators; unfortunately, many ranchers don't use these practices.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)


by: Rob Kailey

Thu May 05, 2011 at 16:28:41 PM MST

As if on cue, the Drama Queen presents us with the people's will to stop ... the people's will.

Oh, that's right.  It's not the people's will.  It's just one more damned action to legally challenge what has been scientifically decided by those who think everyone else too stupid to tell the difference.  The DQ even takes several cheap shots at myself for pointing out that I have been right when he's been full of ...

This lawsuit has nothing to do with science.  It has nothing to do with rational control of wolves.  The DQ is wailing and moaning that I'm just supporting Jon Tester.  No.  My intent is somewhat other than that.

Wolves are recovered in the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region.  Somehow, animals recovered should come off the endangered species list.  Otherwise, the very term means absolutely nothing.  So, the righteous are suing on Constitutional grounds, and there is no way anyone can stand before their clever might.

This lawsuit might go somewhere, it might not.  I'm hoping it doesn't because I'm tired of these lying assholes telling us about science while making us pay for things that have nothing to do with any science ever. For half a decade, now, the lawsuits concerning gray wolves have had  nothing to do with science, but everything to do with forcing the minority opinion on the majority. So, here's my prediction:

Those who tell you that Congress shouldn't have the power to regulate wolves, already handed them the keys to make that very thing happen.  It would have been nice if the defenders of wolves had been able to make the case that this species has special needs regarding control factors.  They chose lawsuit instead, which sets an immediate binary opposition.  But, hey, I've been schooled that I'm just pulling this stuff out of my ass, so why listen to me?  Just because I've been correct for years now ...


The rider is above review based on what has already been reviewed, that some states have more ability or will to manage wolf populations than others.  To be honest, I expect this point to be the next to result in lawsuit ... since this is all about the science, of course.

OH HOLY SHIT!  I was right on the money, wasn't I?  Well, yes.  Simply, Yes.  This lawsuit is nothing other than a stalling tactic.  It has nothing to do with biology.  It is one more effort to force minority will on the majority.  That's no defense of Tester.  It's simply what is.

Let me offer another prediction here.  I have no idea whether this lawsuit will be upheld or not.  But I can state, with no reservation, that the ESA will be changed by Congress in ways most really don't like.  Tester's rider 'subverted' the ESA to get an animal already recovered cleared from lawsuit.  The continuing lawsuits will cause a complete change to the law.  I invite you to tell me that I'm wrong, two years from now.  But if I'm right, then don't expect sympathy for your whining.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Oregon Gov's Wolf Rider Letter to President Obama

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed May 04, 2011 at 07:15:28 AM MST

( - promoted by Rob Kailey)

April 18, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your hard work with Democrat and Republican leadership crafting a bipartisan budget package and averting a federal government shutdown. As the proposed Continuing Resolution (CR) moves to you for final consideration, I write to express serious concern over the inclusion of policy language unrelated to the budget.

Specifically, using policy "riders" within the budget to de-list gray wolves in the Northern Rockies region from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and eliminate the Free Choice Voucher program within the Affordable Care Act sets a highly undesirable precedent for making decisions on important social and natural resource issues that deserve open and informed debate.

A six-month budget resolution negotiated through backroom discussions is clearly the wrong vehicle to make permanent changes to significant public policy.  For nearly 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has assured decisions about our nation's natural heritage are driven by science, fish and wildlife professionals, and public input. Removing protection for an endangered species by congressional mandate, much less through a budget bill, stands in unprecedented contrast to this history. This action erodes the integrity of the ESA, excludes important public involvement, and usurps the agency structure, established based on a balancing of executive and legislative branch power, that exists to undertake important decisions affecting America's wildlife.

Similarly, budget negotiations are no place to decide health care policy. Improving the delivery of health care, reducing costs and improving outcomes are of critical importance to working people across Oregon and America. The ink is barely dry on the Affordable Care Act, and the Free Choice Voucher program would have improved access to more affordable health care by increasing flexibility and expanding choices. It's the wrong time and wrong process to undo important policy gains.

I raise the above matters as specific examples of bad precedent to be avoided in the future. The urgency surrounding the federal budget is no excuse for tacking on non-budgetary issues that deserve their own venue and public debate. I look forward to discussing how to avoid repeating such an approach to policy decision-making.


John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.

c: Oregon Congressional Delegation
Ken Salazar, U.S. Department of lnterior
Robyn Thorson, USFWS, Pacific Region Director

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Reap What's Been Sown

by: Rob Kailey

Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 16:14:13 PM MST

I stand corrected concerning some of the things I've said about Twitter.  I thought there was little chance to lay out an idea adequately, but apparently one can with Chirpstory, and @Dirk2112 certainly did.

Difference between Liberalism and Progressivism.

Hat tip to Angry Black Lady.

No doubts, many discussions could be had over the distinctions and verbal classifications that Dirk2112 draws in his thesis, which must have been a real pain to tweet.  But the takeaway is pretty obvious.  Ofttimes the biggest impediment to change and/or progress resides with the left, not the right.  The deepest divisions stand among those who think themselves like-minded.  Some would have it that I am finely agreeing that 'Democrats are really the problem'.  No, that's a failure to actually define what the problem is, and working to solve it.

This is important to realize with all the caterwauling currently being done over wolf reintroduction.  It's not just online.  It is truly a region wide issue, important to many people.  It is damned important to me, and has been since well before wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone.  They were already moving back of their own accord, and had no action been taken to reintroduce them, we'd still be facing these issues.

Matthew Koehler helpfully points out that Idaho Governor Otter signed a bill allowing him to declare a "wolf disaster emergency".  Rather unhelpfully, however, Koehler links to a sensationalist, and truly false, HuffPo piece attributed to Rueters that states Otter has declared such an emergency.  That's not "pants on fire" false, but it certainly isn't the truth.  Otter has done no such thing.

I'll freely admit that I personally enjoy finding such holes in the narrative coming from the liberal environmentalist groups, given the number of times I've been told that I don't really understand these issues.  Yes, I do, as do many on the left when they're not being lied to or talked down to.  All many of us have wanted was rational local control of a predator species in a prey rich environment.  That is a progressive goal, downright democratic even.  It is the recovery of a species such that it no longer needs the blanket of being "endangered". It should be obvious at this point that the goal of the liberal environmentalist is something different.  That is actually defining the problem, and it would appear to be among the left, not the right.

Seeking a solution to the problem, as seen by a progressive, continually stands against the disingenuous presentation of goals by the liberal.  The most pernicious is the "Science" canard.  Read the comments in the link from Suzanne Stone, and you'll see what I'm discussing writ large.

Stone said Otter's decision is "based on unjustified hysteria rather than sound science. We need our leaders to focus on resolving conflicts, not perpetuating them."

Notice please that Stone's latter sentence has nothing to do with science, and her defense of science is based on an Ad Hominem lie.  This is strictly my opinion, though probably shared by others, but the Ad Hominem in defense of meaninglessness is habitual to the environmentalist liberal.  It doesn't respond to the demand for Science in any meaningful way. Here's what does.  Wolf numbers have increased far beyond expectation in the region.  Wolves are spreading to other states and will well establish themselves throughout the Northwest without a whole lotta help from humans.  That is, they will do so if we don't hurt them by 'helping them'.  Stone herself admits that Idaho's wolf population is stabilizing.  That would be the 'science' right there.

Quite effectively, Stone's argument is this: Even giving the power of control to those we have chosen to have that power can (will) upset that balance of science. That's not science.  It's speculation.  More insidiously, it's finger pointing.  If something bad happens then it is someone else to blame.  Koehler's original comment pointing to this horror in Idaho was precisely an attempt at that very thing, finger pointing.  This all is happening as consequence of Jon Tester's rider to the budget continuation bill.  But that is the problem with the chain of cause and effect.  One can actually choose to look a little further back then another would wish, and that's why obfuscation and fallacy are so very important to the 'liberal' environmentalist.  They don't want the light shown on themselves as being part of the problem.  But they actually are.

Two plus years ago, Secretary Salazar of the DOI actually paid attention to the science, and asked for wolf control plans from the three states wolves were recovered in.  Wyoming's plan was less than stellar.  So, wolves were delisted in Montana and Idaho given the caveat that those states would follow the plans submitted.  14 environmental groups sued because those plans involved wolf hunts, the killing of wolves.  They got what they wanted which was an injunction against wolf hunts based on an interpretation of the Endangered Species Act.  I've written that so many times my fingers are sore.  But they really don't want anyone else to question whether that's best for science or the species or progress or change.  Simply put, and obviously exposed, it's not good for any of the above.  They got what they wanted and couldn't stop what they'd unleashed.  As Dirk2112 pointed out so clearly, that was very liberal of them, but not very progressive.

I pointed out earlier that the goals of the liberal environmentalists and progressives aren't the same, and that's the actual opposition at play here.  The goals of the liberal environmentalists have been defeated.  They didn't want rational or scientific management of wolves.  They wanted no management at all.  No hunts, no controls, and no concern whatsoever for those whose lives were actually impacted by a predator in the region.  They sued to get no management, Molloy agreed that there should be no management until Congress would act, and Congress acted.  The protections for wolves would have been vastly better with the original deal between the states and Salazar before the lawsuits.  The protections for wolves would have been vastly better had the deal struck between the DOI and the 10 environmental groups been accepted.  As a particular Drama Queen pointed out, the remaining 4 groups didn't have to sign on because they had won, and screw you all.  Uhh, they've lost now, and so have the rest of us.  Now comes the finger pointing.  It is Otter's fault, but really it's Jon Tester's, aned most certainly mine.  No, It's the fault of liberal environmentalists for not paying attention to science, or their fellow humans in a democratic republic, or the needs of a stable wolf population or anything but really their own need to fight for a principle which really isn't principled at all.  The Bozeman Chronicle had an editorial last Friday which wrote basically the same thing I have here, and I will post it should it ever be displayed online.  The punchline was this:  Be careful what you wish for.

I have written papers and screeds and editorials about the difference between conservationists and the preservationists.  I will not play that argument out here, at least not yet.  But the reader would be well advised that on many issues the liberal environmentalists/professional left are more than happy to lie to you, attack you and shoot you in the foot to get what they want which will hurt what you want.  I have followed wolf issues since the mid 1980s when they were reintroducing themselves into Montana. I have studied it very well.  The results we see here today are not as tragical as portrayed, but they certainly don't serve anyone very well.  If you wish to play the blame game, then you'd be well advised to examine who really is being paid to point fingers, and why they're being paid to do it.  Simple truth, it ain't for your benefit.

Discuss :: (41 Comments)

A Job Well Done

by: Rob Kailey

Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 14:30:39 PM MST

I can't believe that this got posted to Fark before it made it to any Montana blog.

Ed Bangs is retiring.  I suspect that most who read this post will know who Ed Bangs is, but if you don't, then here's the short form.  Ed Bangs is/was the wolf reintroduction coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife service, and has been for the last 23 years.  Though the Helenair article gets a few facts wrong, the profile of the man is well worth reading.

I attended one of Bangs' presentations when I was a student at MSU, lo many years ago.  His humor was evident as was his rather infinite patience.  He was asked at least a dozen times a question to the effect of "So, they're going to stay in the Park, right?"  I noted that because the question came from those who supported reintroduction as much as from those who opposed it.  One of his responses was (paraphrased) 'Just because there's a big old gate in Gardner doesn't mean there's a fence attached to it.'  He was terribly honest about what wolf reintroduction meant, to the Park, to the northern Rockies and to Montana.

My very favorite NOVA interview was the first I watched with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  But this one with Ed Bangs comes in a close second.

I know that nerves are a little raw about the whole 'wolf issue' right now, but it's worth reviewing Bangs' opinion on delisting:

"The bottom line is science is being followed," Bangs said recently, sitting behind his desk still covered with scientific journals, studies and reports, many of which he's authored, and walls dotted with awards and art. "The heavy lifting is over, and that's cool. My upbringing was to complete your job; when we started there were 10 wolves near Glacier. Now there's 1,700 in six states and they're being delisted. That's pretty rewarding."
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Action Alert: Senator Tester and his wolf rider

by: Matthew Koehler

Fri Apr 15, 2011 at 08:22:07 AM MST

Yesterday, Senator Jon Tester's shameful and undemocratic tactic of attaching his wolf rider (anti-Endangered Species Act rider) to the US Senate's must-pass budget bill succeeded.

As the New York Times reported, "Congress for the first time is directly intervening in the Endangered Species List and removing an animal from it, establishing a precedent for political influence over the list....The rider is the first known instance of Congress' directly intervening in the list....The rider also precluded judicial review of this provision."

Senator Tester has now opened up the floodgates for more politicians just simply (and quietly) attaching riders to must pass bills to remove other endangered animal and plant species from ESA protections.  Are salmon next? Desert tortoise? Leatherback turtles? Puma? Black-footed ferret?

Senator Tester's actions are a great gift to developers, the resource extraction industry, other special interests and politicians that don't like the ESA and could really give a toot about protecting native wildlife and plants.  The message is clear: just pass a rider and close the court house door like Montana's Senator Tester!

Senator Tester also forever closed the court-house doors and removed the possibility of any judicial review of his wolf rider, meaning wolves are delisted forever, no matter how low their populations may plummet.  Until Senator Tester, this was never done in the 38 year history of the ESA.

Please make sure to contact Senator Tester directly and let him know how you feel about his wolf/ESA rider.  Thank you.

Click here to send an email: http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/

Senator Tester's D.C. Office phone number is:   (202) 224-2644

To speak with someone at Senator Tester's Missoula office, call or visit:
130 W Front Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003

The Endangered Species Coalition has put together a simple-to-use action alert right here:

Discuss :: (20 Comments)

Donald Molloy Maintains Judicial Integrity

by: Rob Kailey

Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 17:10:28 PM MST

Also somewhat lost in the budget shuffle was this.  Yesterday, Saturday April 9th, Federal Judge Donald Molloy again ruled that the only ones who can change the will of Congress regarding the Endangered Species Act is, in fact, Congress.  Wolves will remain protected in Montana and Idaho, regardless of a deal struck earlier between the Department of the Interior and several environmental organizations.

I can't say that I was all that surprised by this ruling.  In fact, I can't say that I was surprised at all.  The only ones I read talking the contrary were those who have vested interest in maintaining fear concerning the issue.  I would be greatly interested in hearing from any who really didn't think Molloy would rule as he did.

For the record, this judgment goes beyond a simple defense of wolves in the Northern Rockies.  This was a defense of the federal separation of powers and the integrity of the judicial branch.  So, the legislative efforts move forward, precisely as Molloy said they should or shouldn't.  That's up to Congress, as it should be.  

Discuss :: (19 Comments)

Tester attaches wolf rider to $1 trillion Continuing Resolution

by: Matthew Koehler

Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 06:38:22 AM MST

According to the Missoulian:
"U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has inserted language into the Senate's Continuing Resolution - the bill that funds the entire national budget - declaring the gray wolf a recovered species in Montana and Idaho.  The $1.077 trillion, seven-month spending bill is expected to reach a full Senate vote on Tuesday, and then return to the House of Representatives."

In response, Defenders of Wildlife issued the following press release:

Senate includes wolf delisting bill in must-pass funding pack age:
Provision would strip ESA protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana

Washington, D.C. (March 4, 2011) - In the latest effort to strip federal endangered species protections from gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, a Continuing Budget Resolution to fund federal government operations for the remainder of the fiscal year was unveiled in the Senate today. The provision directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the 2009 delisting rule, which was struck down in 2010 by a federal district court, and would insulate the reissued rule from further judicial review. If enacted, wolf management authority would be returned to all states in the region other than Wyoming. Idaho and Montana have made clear that wolf numbers will be drastically reduced in those states, and Wyoming has thus far refused to produce a wolf management plan that passes muster under the Endangered Species Act.

The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

"What do wolves have to do with critical funding for our federal government? Absolutely nothing. Congress should be focused on keeping our nation's essential services up and running, not going back on America's commitment to restore wolves to Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.

"This provision would hand over responsibility for wolves to the states when their approach of late has been anything but responsible. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has repeatedly stated his intent to kill as many wolves as possible in Idaho, and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently encouraged ranchers to take the law into their own hands and kill wolves on sight. We should not be rewarding these states for thumbing their noses at the conservation of wolves, wildlife that belongs to all Americans.

"This provision sets a dangerous precedent for legislating on Endangered Species Act protections that could leave countless other species vulnerable to attack. And, by blocking any further judicial review of wolf delisting, this provision sends the message that complying with the law doesn't matter. If Congress adopts this measure, it will be a tragedy not just for wolves and other endangered species, but for the rule of law in America.

"Congress's last-ditch attempt to force wolf delisting through on a budget bill only opens the door to other riders that eat away at the foundation of our nation's environmental safeguards."

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Please Speak Up For Wolves in Helena

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:54:53 AM MST

(From the Western Wolf Coalition - mk)

On Thursday, March 3, the Montana Senate Fish and Game Committee will hear testimony on HB 471, a bill that sets a maximum wolf population in the state at 15 breeding pairs. This bill would significantly reduce wolf populations in Montana.  We believe wolves should be managed like other native wildlife, as a valuable part of Montana 's wildlife heritage, not as pests to be destroyed.  Please email the Senate Fish and Game committee in Helena and urge them to VOTE NO on HB 471.

Background on HB 471 (Sponsored by Rep. Dan Kennedy).

• HB 471 sets and artificial cap on the number of wolves in Montana by capping the number of breeding pairs at 15.

• HB 471 will override Montana's wolf management plan - a plan that was derived after an extensive and open public process that included Montana sportsmen, conservation groups, ranchers and many others.

• Overriding Montana 's federally-approved Wolf Management Plan will only delay the day Montana gets to manage wolves.

Nearly a dozen other wolf-related bills have already been drafted in Helena.  Besides increasing the killing of wolves in Montana, these bill hearings provide a forum for anti-wolf types to vilify wolves, carnivores and endangered species generally.  That is why your legislators in Helena need to hear from you!

A handful of special interests are falsely blaming wolves for killing too many elk and livestock. In fact, elk populations have increased 60% statewide in Montana since wolves were reintroduced and 18% in the region (see:  http://www.westernwolves.org/u... ). Furthermore, livestock lost to wolves represent less than 1% of livestock losses in the Northern Rockies.  It's time to put the scare tactics aside, and manage wolves based upon reality, reason, and science.  Thank you for speaking up for wolves and Montana 's wildlife heritage!

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

The Root Of The Worry

by: Rob Kailey

Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 14:03:17 PM MST

It struck me this morning reading Matthew's post here that in the recent discussions we've had about wolves, there's been something missing.  Many words have been posted in reaction to Brian Schweitzer's letter to Interior Secretary Salazar, but no links to or text from the actual letter itself.  Let me correct that right now:

Governor Notifies Interior Of New Wolf Management Directives.

You knew I wasn't bring this up without a point, didn't you?  So let's get to it.

Earthjustice writes:

In your February 16, 2011 letter to the Secretary of the Interior, and in numerous follow-up interviews with local and national media outlets, you suggested that Montana did not intend to follow federal law, nor honor its commitments under either Montana's wolf management plan or its memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to wolf management.  Your statements could jeopardize Montana's continued authority to manage wolves under its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

What Schweitzer actually wrote:

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.


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.

Earthjustice writes:

More troubling, your statements may incite Montanans to violate the Endangered Species Act.


In Northwest Montana, it is illegal for anyone other than authorized wildlife agents to harm, harass, or kills wolves.

Fair enough.  Save that Governor Schweitzer writes:

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.

There is a point here, just not one that's palatable to many environmentalists.  What Schweitzer just "incited" was civil disobedience.  Schweitzer paraphrased: 'if your livelihood is at stake, you can choose to trust the government which has failed you time and again, or take steps to protect yourself, and I won't fault you for the latter'.  Though it's probably a discussion for another time, I would point out that his decree is the same as argued by many progressives with remarkable frequency.  If Salazar wishes every wolf kill to be investigated by the FBI, then he'd best get off his ass and do something about it, yes?  All Brian said is that he ain't gonna do the dirty work for the federals.

Earthjustice says:

Nowhere is it permissible for individuals to kill wolves in a response to an alleged threat to elk herds.

You have to love good hyperbole.  Read Schweitzer's letter.  At no point does he call for any such thing.  Note please, as Earthjustice glosses over, that it is within the power of Montana FW&P to do such a thing as directed by the Governor.

Schweitzer says:

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.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little bit of fun seeing environmentalists get poked in the ribs a bit.  I find it a little to a lot fun to poke any true believers, myself. I'd also be lying if I didn't find these pronouncements from Brian to be rather loathsome.  But there are a few things that might need to be dealt with.

First, wolves are social predators.  Learning to predate on stock animals can't be 'unlearned', just because one or two of them get shot.  There are times that removal of entire packs could well be necessary.  I hate that fact, but accept it for what it is.  It never fails to surprise me how many who hail biology as the arbiter of animal husbandry have a great blind spot to the nature of the animal in question.

Second, and this is the biggie, Elk populations in the southern areas of Montana, especially around Yellowstone, continue to decline. Wolf populations in some regions continue to decline as well.  But the silly political point is this:  Most folk have made up their mind.  While biologist waffle, shrugging their shoulders and saying "Idunno", the people who own, rely on and hunt the elk become increasingly frustrated.  (Own in the sense that the American people own the elk, not biologists or environmentalists.)  Biologists beg more money to study, while people grow fearful.  The real biological cause of decline may not matter, and won't a whole people crow and cry if it is wolves taking the young?  This is a powder keg, and it's easy to say that the common person doesn't understand.  

Here's what they do understand.  Their elected representatives are supposed to serve their interests.  Lawsuits cost them money, and their interests still aren't being served.  Schweitzer writes:

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.

Is he really that wrong?  

UPDATE:  Steve Kelly left a comment below the implications of which have been weighing on me, a lot. Let's assume, for a moment, that doing nothing is not an option.  No cheating, just do it.  Let's likewise assume that reacting to wolves in the same violent manner that has been demonstrated before is not an option.  I ask sincerely, how then do we deal with this animal in Montana?  If anyone wants to do a diary about this question, I'm eager to promote such ... hint hint.  And for the record, this might be the reasoned debate that JC and I both wish to have.

Discuss :: (17 Comments)

EarthJustice's letter to Gov Schweitzer on wolves

by: Matthew Koehler

Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 13:27:49 PM MST

On February 25, 2011 lawyers from EarthJustice wrote Governor Schweitzer a letter on behalf of twelve organizations involved with litigation involving wolves and the Endangered Species Act "to express our deep concern over your recent statements regarding Montana's wolves....Unless and until wolves are lawfully delisted, Montana's wolves are protected under federal law."

The letter was written on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for  Biological Diversity, The Human Society of the United States, Jackson  Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the  Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Network and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.  Click here for PDF copy of the actual letter.

Below are some additional snips from the actual letter. Also today, the Missoulian had this article.

"In your February 16, 2011 letter to the Secretary of the Interior, and in numerous follow-up interviews with local and national media outlets, you suggested that Montana did not intend to follow federal law, nor honor its commitments under either Montana's wolf management plan or its memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to wolf management.  Your statements could jeopardize Montana's continued authority to manage wolves under its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

More troubling, your statements may incite Montanans to violate the Endangered Species Act.  Wolves are still protected under that act. In Northwest Montana, it is illegal for anyone other than authorized wildlife agents to harm, harass, or kills wolves. In other parts of the state, individuals may only kill wolves that are in the act of attacking their livestock or pets. Nowhere is it permissible for individuals to kill wolves in a response to an alleged threat to elk herds.

We urge you to correct the misimpression left by your statements that it is no longer a crime to kill wolves. If you do not, Montanas following your lead may be punished under federal law by substantial civil and criminal penalties.... Wolves in Montana should be managed as an essential part of the ecosystem, not in opposition to it."

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Rehberg SOP, as if on cue.

by: Rob Kailey

Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 16:44:54 PM MST

Right on down below there, Matthew Koehler posted up about some Arizona fish-wrap having an issue with Jon Tester and Dennis Rehberg concerning the wildlife management of wolves in the northern Rockies.  The comments are worth a read.  One of the issues I had with the editorial remains consistent throughout my interactions on the InterTubes.  I'm beyond tired of other folk ignoring their own representatives while being so eager to tell me, Democrats and the President  how to deal with mine.  See, I know my representatives, and I know their worth.

Dennis Rehberg has always called a good fight, and then left it to others.  That's what he does, and that's why he's actually 'written' next to nothing in his decade in the House. He's a piggy-backer, the guy who buys the next round (and drinks both, apparently.)

The other night, Rehberg announced that he's running for the Senate against Jon Tester.  This was not a surprise; it hasn't been for a quarter year or more.  What also isn't a surprise is that he would say something so stupid as to call for federal judges to be on the endangered species list.  Yup, that's what he did before the Montana legislature.

But here's the key to this concern.  He did so while attacking the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg R-Mont., speaking to the Legislature on Monday, attacked the policies of the Obama administration, defended states' rights and said a federal judge in Montana belongs on the Endangered Species Act for his ruling on wolves. [...] "My job as your congressman to defend the states' rights principle in Washington," he said. That means keeping Washington off people's backs, such as ending federal management of the grey wolf population here in Montana, he said to applause. He blasted "environmental obstructionist" for finding a federal judge in Missoula, Donald Molly (sic), whom he didn't identify by name, who ruled that the wolf had to remain on the Endangered Species list. "When I first heard his decision, like many of you I wanted to take action immediately," Rehberg said. "I asked: how can we put some of these judicial activists on the Endangered Species list?"

In truth, the point goes beyond Rehberg's bravado.  He stated, as promise that he would submit legislation to remove the Grey Wolf from protection of the Endangered Species Act.  And in true Rehberg form, he never had to act at all.  Idaho Representative Mike Simpson (R- kicks puppies) did it for him, as a rider on a the House Republicant budget bill.

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.

It was added to the budget bill by Rep. Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican who chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Interior Department.

Let me be clear.  Some legislation is necessary to break the gridlock concerning wolf management.  I, for one, would prefer it not come from the Republicant House.  Regardless, this rider is likely to pass, and guess who signed on without ever having to do a damned thing for it.  Rehberg?  Was that your guess?  How clever you are.  That's what he does.  He co-opts the loathsome efforts of others and then hides while touting his bravery.  Meanwhile, he relies on us lefties to attack our own for doing what is up-front and clearly owned by Montana representatives when it's the same damned thing.  Rehberg is vastly more an acolyte of Max Baucus then Jon Tester is or was.


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Arizona Republic: Montana pols could imperil wolves

by: Matthew Koehler

Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 12:01:54 PM MST

Today the very mainstream Arizona Republic editorial board took Senator Tester and Congressman Rehberg to task for "trying to look more appealing to anti-wolf factions" in Montana.  The entire editorial is below.  It's well worth a read to see how other parts of the country view Montana politics, and also to see how either Rehberg's Idaho and Montana Wolf Management Act of 2011 or Tester and Baucus'  Delisting Gray Wolves to Restore State Management Act of 2011 would negatively impact endangered species recovery in other parts of the country, and for far more than just wolves.

In response to the introduction of Rehberg's bill, Defenders of Wildlife - a very respected, mainstream voice for wildlife and habitat conservation - issued this press release "Rehberg sets the stage for nationwide wolf eradication".

Meanwhile, when the Tester/Baucus bill was introduced last fall, Defenders had this to say, "Senate bill would short-circuit Endangered Species Act protection for wolves: New legislation could set back wolf recovery, undermine federal protections for wildlife."

Montana pols could imperil wolves
Arizona Republic - Editorial, Feb. 14, 2011

Montana's 2012 Senate race could doom wolves in Arizona. It's politics. And it stinks.

The long-fought effort to restore endangered Mexican gray wolves to the wilds of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico is threatened by posturing between two politicians. Montana's Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who intends to run for Senate, are each trying to look more appealing to anti-wolf factions in that state. Wolves are pawns.

Let's be clear: The situation for the Mexican gray wolves is very different from that of wolves in the northern Rockies. Wolves in the northern Rockies are in far better shape than the 50 Mexican gray wolves who stand between the species' survival and its elimination in the wilds of the Southwest. These wolves need more protection, not less.

Wolves in the northern Rockies are much more plentiful, yet efforts to remove them from the endangered-species list were overturned by court decision last August. Since then, Tester has been trying to satisfy the concerns of those who are not happy about the increasing numbers of wolves in Montana and its neighboring states.

Legitimate concerns about wolves need to be addressed. But Tester's efforts late last year included a move to simply exclude those wolves from the Endangered Species Act - not through a bill that could have been debated, but as part of a larger omnibus bill.

Rehberg is upping the ante. As a newly announced candidate for Tester's Senate seat, Rehberg says the federal government should have no say in state wildlife issues. This is nonsense.

The Endangered Species Act is a recognition of the value of species diversity as part of every American's national heritage. States don't trump that national interest. Yet Rehberg wants Congress to exclude all wolves - including those in Arizona and New Mexico - from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups say this effort could also be tacked onto a larger bill without debate.

Both these efforts circumvent the role of Congress as a place to openly debate matters that affect the nation. They also run around a careful process for species delisting that is built into the existing law of the land.

This approach could create a precedent of excluding animals based on politics instead of biology. It would neuter the Endangered Species Act, which is recognized as one of the world's premier environmental laws. Rehberg's scheme would doom the Mexican gray wolves.

Democrats - including the Obama administration - have been allowing Tester to build his states' rights bona fides as he seeks re-election. The president and Democrats in Congress should show some spine and serve a higher interest than Tester's political future.

The American people benefit from a healthy Endangered Species Act and a healthy population of wolves - including Mexican gray wolves.

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Wuerthner: Do ranchers have a right to predator free landscape?

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 09:18:45 AM MST

Look for the silliness surrounding the Great Wolf Debate to continue long after Montana's 2010 general big game hunting season ends at little after sunset this coming Sunday.

We've all seen the flood of emotionally-charged, less-than-accurate letters to the editor from some unsuccessful Montana hunters blaming their empty freezer on wolves.  Yep, apparently, in a state with a landbase of 147,000 square miles, approximately 600 wolves will kill 150,000 elk and about a 1,000,000 deer if we don't do something about it.  But don't you have to wonder how in the world some of these hunters can't find any of the 150,000 elk or 1,000,000 deer roaming the state, yet these same hunters claim to see wolves and wolf-tracks everywhere? Seriously, does this add up?

Unfortunately, the silliness will continue as we have the upcoming bi-annual state legislative session to look forward to, where one can assume that numerous anti-wolf bills and meaningless resolutions will be put forward by the Republican majority.

Yet, for a political party that likes to champion "personal responsibility," one can bet the Montana Republican Party won't be calling on Montana's ranching community to take some rather simple and straight-forward steps to greatly reduce or eliminate livestock predation on account of wolves.

With this in mind, ecologist and former Montana hunting guide George Wuerthner has an excellent new essay "Do ranchers have a right to predator free landscape?" over at NewWest.

Below are some highlights from that essay (emphasis added):

Killing predators to appease the livestock industry is nothing more than another subsidy to an industry that is already living off the public largess, in part, because most predator losses are completely avoidable with proper animal husbandry techniques.

For instance, prompt removal of dead animals from fields, and burial of the remains can significantly reduce attracting predators. One recent study in Oregon showed a very strong association between wolf packs and bone piles-places where ranchers dump dead cattle.... One study in Minnesota found that rapid removal of dead animals from livestock operations could reduce a second predation event by 55 times!

In Europe where many countries ban the killing of predators like wolves, livestock producers have adopted other measures to reduce predator losses. The use of guard dogs with shepherds is particularly effective, again significantly reducing predation losses. One study found that the combined use of these techniques could reduce predation losses by better than 90%. When you are talking about only several hundred wolf attributed livestock losses a year in each of the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, a 90% reduction would bring these losses down to a negligible figure-and one that would remove nearly all demand for any predator control.

In Minnesota where there are nearly double the number of wolves that are found in the entire northern Rockies states of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana combined, farmers there are encouraged to adopt measures that reduce predator opportunity in order to qualify for state livestock compensation. After a depredation, a state official visits the farm, and discusses any measures that could be adopted to reduce future livestock losses. The farmer must sign an agreement to implement any changes in order to qualify for any future compensation payments.

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Cows or wolves? Which Impacts more wildlife?

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 06:52:54 AM MST

(This can become a very dicey and emotional issue when people's livelihood is involved.  Keep that in mind when contrasting this piece with the recent vote on I-161.   - promoted by Rob Kailey)

(This column from Montana writer Todd Wilkinson first appeared in the News & Guide...sorry, but I couldn't locate the link. - mk)

"Dad, are we going to see many birds?"

I hope so, son. It looks like a good year.

Every parent knows that the hours we have with our offspring are fleeting. You cling to the bonding times, the moments when you make discoveries together that will provide opportunities for reflection later on.

For our family, some of the more memorable autumn afternoons have unfolded in pursuit of mountain blue grouse.

Bushwhacking through downfall and across high meadows is exhilarating, particularly with what you look forward to seeing along the way.

It matters less that we arrive home with wild game birds to eat. What's important is that the grouse are there, where they should be, in the national forest, on public land.

This year, as last year, as the one before it, there was no trace of birds at our favorite destinations, only broken clumps of juniper; brome mowed down to the dirt; trees rubbed bare of bark by bovines; a proliferation of cow pies; spotted knapweed rising from the disturbed soil; and trampled streamsides that used to harbor frogs.

The side valley I mention is akin to many each of us knows.

According to the revised local national forest management plan, cattle grazing is not supposed to come at the expense of achieving favorable habitat conditions for native wildlife and watershed protection.

I am a sportsman. Some organizations make claims - unsubstantiated by science - that reintroduced wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are a "foreign" wolf subspecies never native to these parts. I've also heard of some Montana stockmen referring to bison as "exotic animals."

In what category, then, do they place beef cows and wool sheep?

Cows in the public land dale which we formerly nicknamed "grouse valley" are taking forage that would normally go into the bellies of elk, moose, and mule deer.

Tributary creeks left muddied by concentrated hoof traffic send silt into bigger streams important to native trout, clotting their spawning cobble with muck. Mountain grouse do not tolerate cattle well. The herds scatter skittish avians off of the ridge tops where they would normally be, and eat away their grassy cover where they lie in wait during the fall for grasshoppers.

In fact, amid the Forest Service meadows where cattle have been all summer, we encountered very little wildlife of any kind. There are no wolves or grizzlies to blame.

Ranchers who graze livestock on public lands get a great deal. Most pay below private market rates for the grass their cattle eats; their animals roam almost anywhere untended; and they get taxpayer subsidized predator control.

It was difficult to find a spot in grouse valley that did not resemble a private pasture peppered with cow poop.

To those who will try to distort my words, let me be clear: I am not anti-livestock grazing, anti-cow, or anti-rancher. As a sportsman and wildlife watcher, I am pro-wildlife and pro-habitat on public lands.

Should one's private livestock be allowed to impair the camping experience on public lands? If yes, then why? Should cows be allowed to sully a stream corridor (the richest wildlife habitat on a landscape), thereby marring hunting and wildlife watching opportunities?

Should the welfare of private non-native bovines be given precedence over native predators on public lands such as grizzlies and wolves?

Last year, 75 percent of the 20 wolf-related cattle depredations in Wyoming happened on public land and 42 percent of the 195 sheep losses occurred on national forests, Bureau of Land Management tracts or other public parcels.

When assessing the best use of a national forest, there shouldn't be any blind spots or sacred cows. Some of the most outspoken critics of government and condemners of wolves are those who use public lands to make a living and get a sweet deal doing it.

Many are responsible stewards gracious for the privilege; some are not.

If we in the West are going to have an honest discussion about wolves - and we should - then we ought to also have a truthful conversation about the costs of livestock grazing imposed upon taxpayers, the public land, and the corresponding loss of public values including wildlife diversity, especially in Greater Yellowstone.

The impacts of domestic livestock grazing on wildlife inhabiting public lands are huge and far greater than wolves. If we're going to have an honest accounting and blunt discussion, let's put everything on the table.

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Anti-Wolf activist, SaveElk.com founder accused of felony elk poaching

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 14:11:43 PM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

From today's Idaho Mountain Express:

Anti-wolf activist accused of poaching:
SaveElk.com founder charged with felony in killing of trophy elk

by TERRY SMITH, Express staff writer

The founder of a Twin Falls-based, anti-wolf Internet site has been charged with a felony for allegedly killing a trophy bull elk out of season last year in the Alturas Lake area of northern Blaine County.

Anthony J. Mayer, 59, is charged in a criminal complaint filed in Blaine County 5th District Court in September with "flagrant unlawful killing and possession of a trophy bull elk." He is also charged with the misdemeanor crimes of hunting without an elk tag, hunting without an archery permit and unlawful possession of protected wildlife.

Click here to read the whole story.

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