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January 25, 2008

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Breaking News: Feds Green Light Shooting of Western Wolves

From the Los Angeles Times:
State game agencies and private citizens would be allowed to kill federally protected gray wolves that threatened dogs or seriously decreased deer, elk or moose populations in parts of the northern Rocky Mountains, under a federal rule announced Thursday.

The regulation comes a month ahead of the expected federal decision to take the gray wolf off the endangered species list, which would allow wolves to be hunted. That decision is likely to face protracted litigation.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services officials said Thursday that the revised provision would allow for states to deal with areas where wolf activity is affecting wildlife populations while delisting is tied up in court.
Several groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity are fighting the decision.

From the Helena Independent Record:
“The Bush administration is giving a blank check to the states to slaughter wolves for doing what they need to do to make a living — which is eating deer and elk,” said Louisa Wilcox with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The government spent millions of dollars to reintroduce wolves to the wild in the Northern Rockies, and now it wants to spend millions more to kill them. That’s crazy.”

But Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said that’s not the case.

“Everybody’s crying wolf,” he said on Thursday. “We expect the number killed will be less than we currently kill now for livestock depredations. . . .”

Several news articles reporting this announcement hint at hunting opportunities, but do not confirm or describe them explicitly. So I called Ed Bangs this morning to clarify whether this rule allows the states to set open seasons. “No,” he said. “This absolutely does not open the door to a public hunt.” However, he confirms that states can conduct cull hunts and may enlist some private citizens to participate.

Your reaction?


Blue Ox

I like wolves. My dog is half wolf. I give them utmost respect as a fellow hunter, 'cause when you get down to it, we're out in the woods doing the same thing.
But that's just me & my two cents.


Hey Ox, I had a dog that was half coyote. She was the smartest dog I have ever seen. How bout yours? Man it a tough call. We spend money to put them back and we spend money to take them out. Sounds like a vicious cirle? Hell I dont know??!!

Blue Ox

I may call him my big dummy, but he's way too smart for his own good.


Greg quote:We spend money to put them back and we spend money to take them out. Sounds like a vicious circle?

Hell Greg, that's the Washington way!

In areas were wolves are causing problems I see no problem with protecting yourself, your family or your livestock.



Gov. Intelligence huh Jim?


Greg quote:Gov. Intelligence huh Jim?

Actually Greg, I believe Government Intelligence would be an oxymoron, with the emphasis on moron.





Easy to rethink the past decisions, but this one is probably right. Ed Bangs is dead on with his statement above too.

In CA, since the Mt Lions have been protected, more have been killed on depredation permits than were ever taken due to sport hunting. I would expect the same to hold for wolves... legalize hunting them, kill the stock-killers, and manage them like all the other wildlife.

Politics and emotion have NO place in wildlife management policies.

Tommy S.

I am slightly confused about one thing here.
I don't want anyone to think I am gonna say "don't shoot the wolves!"
If I understand correctly; one of the main reasons we legitimize hunting deer and elk is; to keep their numbers low, to keep them from over-browsing, and to keep herds from becoming diseased.
So then, if that is true, why then can we say we need to hunt wolves because they are killing too many deer and elk?
This seems to me to be contradictory.

It seems to me that we could kill two birds with one stone here. I love to hunt deer. I really love to eat venison, but weren't wolves hunting deer and elk long before anyone in this country ever bought a hunting license?

Mike Diehl

I think it demonstrates that ESA listing can be benficial to a population, and that n.plains states G&F management practices are pretty good. If wolves have recovered enough to issue permits to hunt 'em, who could complain?

Chad Love

A whole host of environmental groups who would much rather see wolves eat deer and elk than us...


living in MT gives me a different perspective than those who might live out of the region. we read weekly of wolf predation throughout the area around Yellowstone, where the wolves were reintroduced in the 90's. the northern Yellowstone elk herd which numbered over 19,000 in 1990, prior to introduction of the wolves is now at around 6,000. the wolf census is about double the carrying capacity the biologists (Ed Bangs) projected. tommy s, in his post is correct, emotions have no place in the debate. WY, MT, and ID need a viable way to control this new, highly efficient predator especially during calving season. hunting the wolves is the only reasonable answer. it costs approximately $500 a wolf for the federal boys to perform depredation hunts. there's lots of guys willing to pony up 25-50 bucks for a wolf tag. open the season today. remember too, these wolves don't stay put. SD has reported wolf sightings and a wolf from Yellowstone (wearing a tracking collar) was found dead along I-70 in Colorado. open the season yesterday.

Chad Love

Sorry, I couldn't resist, Mike left it open for me...
Actually I'm all for both wolves eating as many deer and elk as their needs demand as well as proper management of wolves as a species.
I admit, I am enthralled by predators and I have always been a big fan of the wolf recovery program. I don't begrudge them their nature and some day I would be thrilled to hear one howl once again on the plains of Oklahoma (Teddy Roosevelt actually went on one of the last wolf hunts in Oklahoma).
However, there are a lot of extremely naive people out there who believe a hands-off approach is feasible when it's clearly not.
Phillip above mentioned the lion situation in California.
Look at the black bear hunt controversy in New Jersey, where the prevailing wisdom is that somehow we can condition bears to stay away from humans if we just sic enough little dogs to bite their asses and run them off every time they tip over a trash can.
See, problem solved and we don't need a hunt.
Well, hell, where are they supposed to go? Somewhere else? It's full-up with people, too.
Do I personally have any desire to shoot a wolf? No. Not in the least, and if given the opportunity I'd decline.
But I'm a pragmatist, and I recognize the necessity of balancing the needs of wolves with the needs of people.
This is the same argument, damn near verbatim, that these groups like the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity and the NRDC make with other species that are candidates for ESA listing (I know this is a delisting situation for the wolf but the points are the same).
I don't consider environmentalism a dirty word, and I really support and admire a lot of what these groups try to do. And unlike a lot of hunters I truly don't think the majority of them have a specific anti-hunting agenda.
It's just that these groups see environmental issues in black and white, i.e. if a species is in decline why hunt it? If a species is attempting a recovery, why hunt it? With species after species they fail to understand all the cultural, environmental and economic consequences of what they're proposing.
Or maybe they do and they justify their actions from a purely empirical standpoint, that external factors shouldn't matter.
Either way their intractable stance ends up alienating the very groups they should be reaching out to.
Mike mentioned the ESA, which I think should be renamed the law of unintended consequences.
I hate to ramble here, but for example there are a number of prairie species in my area that right now are the subject of lawsuits against the USFWS, lawsuits that are attempting to force through litigation the listing of these species under the ESA.
This despite an overwhelming desire by virtually every wildlife agency, landowner, conservation organization and research facility in the region to keep these species off the list.
Why? Because once a species is listed it eliminates virtually all options for managing it, and then once that's gone you've engendered resentment and lost the one group you most needed to court: the landowners.
I've been covering the issue for a long time, and not once have I ever seen a representative from the Center for Biological Diversity at a public meeting. I don't know if they've ever been out here at all. Apparently all they know how to do is file lawsuits and issue press releases.
I know, because I get them all the time, and all the landowners know is that a bunch of out-of-state activists are trying to shut down their operations, even if how they're operating is actually beneficial to the species in question.
I realize I'm going off on a tangent here, but all you have to do is substitute "prairie dog" or swift fox" or "lesser prairie chicken" with "wolf" and exact story could have an Oklahoma dateline.

Dave in IDAHO

While this is short of the (at least in Idaho) eagerly anticipated opening of a wolf hunt, it is a step in the right direction. If the states could sell wolf tags then it would not cost millions to correct the egregious error of releasing Canadian wolves.

maybe it's time to reread Farley Mowat's "Never Cry Wolf."



The wolf probably spends more time cleaning up carrion than actually "hunting" game such as deer and elk. Wolves in packs can and will take juvenile game. Only rarely will they take a healthy, full grown animal. Their main diet is small game and carrion!
They have little, if any, effect on large game species other than occasionally taking sick and injured animals!
Yes, open a wolf season!



Kill all 'em ar woffs!



I think it's great that the wolf population has made such an impressive recovery, but steps should be made to ensure that the population doesn't get out of hand.

If the biologists are saying that the area is past its desired carrying capacity, I think there are three prudent options - 1) open a regulated hunt with a set number of tags to control the wolves killed; 2) start trapping some and moving them to other areas that could use predators, or 3) a combination of #'s 1 and 2.

There used to be wolves in Tennessee. There was a wolf hunt in Shelby County (outside Memphis) around the turn of the 20th century, where the sheriff killed the last known wolf in the county. Should wolves be restocked here? Probably not, since there isn't enough territory for them here anymore for the most part. Are there other states where that might be a reasonable option? Perhaps.


I think they tried to reintroduce red wolves in Land Between the Lakes in Western KY. It did not turn out at all. Seem like they did it in the Northeast somewhere too and they interbred with coyotes so bad it just wasnt viable. In most areas I believe coyotes and or humans have filled the niche wolves used to fill.



Talk to me Bud!


John R

Chad that was some good fodder to read. I think Ed Bangs hit it right on the head "Everybody's crying wolf".
Phillip said it correctly that politic and emotion have no place in wildlife management.
Leave wildlife management to those who are trained and dedicated to do so within the "big picture" of the US as it exists today.


Its about time they allowed the legal protection of property (livestock, pets, etc.) in the western states. Also, this is necessary in order to prevent the depletion of other game species (and ultimately the demise of wolves themselves).

The next step is to allow the states to set up their own limited hunting seasons, to manage wolves in the same manner as any other game species. I know I would love to be part of that management effort, and I would be one of the first to put my name in the raffle for a wolf tag.



I can see that your last two posts were sarcastic in nature.

But you have your facts wrong: Wolves do indeed spend time cleaning up carrion. But that carrion is most often the result of a recent hunt by the very pack doing the cleaning up. I personally know a hunting guide from Montana who watched as a pack of wolves took down a mature and perfectly healthy and strong bull elk.

"Yes, open a wolf season!" You may be saying these words sarcastically, but taken at face value, they are (or should be) music to the ears of environmentalists, conservationists, landowners, hunters and taxpayers alike.
Because once wolves are de-listed, they can then be managed properly. They can be given a fear of humanity that is necessary to keep them from predating on livestock and pets, and their numbers will be kept at a level that will not cause strain on the prey species (elk, deer, moose). At the same time, it will be a more cost-effective way of managing wolves than having Uncle Sam, or one of his 50 Sons do the work of managing wolf populations. Hunters will pay to hunt wolves. Let the funds derived from this source pay for the management, just like it helps to with deer, elk, antelope, goat, sheep, moose, cougar and bear.

alberta hunter

Farley Mowat was exposed as making up most of his crap about wolves. Its been proven they hunt for sport and often seek out the biggest game to take down. here in Alberta we have been able to shoot them freely for years and cannot get the numbers down and they continue to decimate elk and moose. wherever you see elk tracks you see wolf tracks. if you want a balance predators need to be controlled so we dont have the vicious natural balancing that sees numbers drastically swing back and forth. your f and g department duped you into believing wolves didnt exist in MT and Idaho and u needed some of ours. now you see what effiecient killers they are. enjoy.


Regulated hunting has never wiped out a species. I'm all for the wolves being reintroduced, but when a population can be hunted it should be. The money generated can go back into conservation.

I don't like the idea of using Federal or State officers. If the population can take a hunt, then let the public at large get the tags.

Seems like depradation hunting is pretty widespread and this should be where the environmental groups spend their energy. I would think that any public hunt would mostly take wolves that would be killed by depradation permit. Hunters, or a good chunk of them, don't range too far from civilization to hunt and would tend to pick off those animals closest to farms and towns.

One option would be to give the permits to the farmers who have experienced a loss. Then the farmers could sell them to recoup losses, provide hunting opportunity, and reduce wolves near the farm. It would then give farmers some economic incentive to not poach the wolves.

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