Idaho For Wildlife
About The Author George Dovel
No. 43 Mar-May 2011 New wolf Bill-a wolf Hunt Bill, Not a Recover Wildlife Bill
No. 42 Jan-Feb 2011- Mule deer group supports feeding deer to predators instead of restoring healthy herds
Bulletin Number 26 Jan-Mar 2008
What They Didn’t Tell You About Wolf Recovery
by George Dovel
One of four wolves shot by USDA Wildlife Services personnel north of Mountain Home, Idaho in September 2006 after the wolves continued to kill cattle on a rancher’s private land in July and August. This wolf, the alpha male of the newly formed “Danskin Pack”, was not weighed but its weight was estimated at 120-130 pounds.
During spring of 2006 an Idaho rancher reported wolf activity on private land several miles north of Mountain Home, Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) confirmed it was a new pack containing two adult wolves and three pups. During July and August 2006, USDA Wildlife Services (WS) examined four of the rancher’s calves that were killed and confirmed that at least three and probably the fourth were killed by those wolves on the rancher’s private land.
In September 2006 the two adult wolves and two of the pups were killed by a Wildlife Services helicopter team and the other pup was not located again. Studies in 1985 and 2003 reported that only one in 6.7-9 wolf-killed calves are discovered in time for FWS to determine the cause of death and enable compensation to be paid.
How Many Wolves are Enough?
By 2006 many people in the West were aware that minimum estimated fall wolf numbers in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming already exceeded the criteria for delisting wolves by several hundred percent. But few seem aware that the FWS agenda to allow this to happen was exposed by wildlife ecologist Dr. Charles Kay way back in 1993 – before any Canadian wolves were transplanted into the three Northern Rocky Mountain states.
In an article entitled, “Wolves in the West – What the government does not want you to know about wolf recovery” in the August 1993 issue of Petersen’s Hunting, Dr. Kay asked the question, “If wolves are brought back how many are enough?” He pointed out that the federal government’s recovery plan announced that when 10 breeding pairs (approximately 100 wolves) existed in each of the three recovery areas for three consecutive years, wolves would be declared recovered and removed from the Endangered Species list.
Then Dr. Kay also pointed out that to prevent harmful inbreeding and protect against random environmental changes, most scientists believed that a minimum population of 1,500 wolves must be achieved. When he attempted to find out why such a low number was being sought for recovery FWS could not produce evidence of any scientific research to justify such a low recovery number.
Kay reasoned that when recovery goals of 100 wolves in each area were achieved, wolf activists could rightfully claim that the goals were inadequate and win lawsuits to keep them protected. He wrote, “Needless to say, 1,500 to 2,000 wolves will have a much greater impact on ungulate numbers, hunting opportunities and livestock operations than that projected in government reports.”
In “Wolves in the West,” Dr. Kay citied abundant scientific studies and facts to disprove the government’s claim that expanded wolf numbers would have limited impact on big game populations and harvests. He argued that with 50,000 wolves already occupying North America, wolves were not a biologically endangered species and their listing served personal agendas that had nothing to do with conservation.
Scientific Game Management Threatened
He urged readers to provide their input to the Wolf Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with copies to their Congressmen and Senators demanding the government stop spreading misinformation and tell the public the true impacts of wolf recovery. He added, “It is also time for sportsmen, livestock operators, and other concerned citizens to form a coalition and launch a national educational campaign or scientific game management will be only a memory.”
FWS Attacks Dr. Kay
Six years after the 10 breeding pairs per area was established as the criterion for delisting, Wolf Project Leader Ed Bangs included Appendix 9 in the draft EIS stating that a questionnaire had been mailed to 43 wolf biologists in Nov.-Dec. 1992 asking whether they agreed with the minimum criteria of 10 pairs established in 1987. The names of the 25 biologists who reportedly responded and the specific answers they provided were not included.
Meanwhile Bangs initiated a letter-writing campaign to discredit Dr. Kay among his peers and elsewhere. Instead Kay’s scientific associates defended him and rebuked Bangs for his attempt to destroy Dr. Kay’s scientific reputation while also attempting to suppress legitimate scientific opinion.
10 Breeding Pairs - an Elaborate Deception
In 1996 Dr. Kay wrote “Wolf Recovery, Political Ecology, And Endangered Species” in which he described a scenario where both environmentalists and FWS knew that people would refuse to accept 1500-2000 wolves yet also knew courts would insist on having that many or even more wolves to constitute a minimum viable population (MVP). Kay presented strong evidence, which has never been refuted, that the 10 breeding pairs per area or 300 wolves in the three states was simply an elaborate deception designed to establish core wolf breeding areas to populate the entire West with wolves.
Following the 2007 announcement by FWS of its intention to de-list the wolves in 2008, the agency issued a minimum estimated wolf population in the three states of ~1500. And on May 8, 2007, the nonprofit environmental law clinic, Earthjustice, sent FWS a documented 35-page objection to delisting wolves in the three states.
A major objection to de-listing was that wolves in all three states do not meet the MVP of 2,500-5000 that computer models indicate is necessary to insure survival of any species for the next 100 years. The Objection, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and the Humane Society of the U.S., points out that the 1979 Minnesota population of 1,235 wolves in 138 packs did not qualify for delisting and asks how only 300 wolves in 30 packs in three states could possibly meet delisting criteria, which should be comparable to Minnesota.
The Prophet Was Ignored
In 1996 Dr. Kay cited the same example as well as a federal court ruling that approximately 4,500 spotted owls (2,180 breeding pairs) were needed to meet ESA requirements. Everything that he predicted has come to pass and the wildlife managers in at least two of the three states continue to promote higher wolf populations.
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When big game and upland bird populations and harvests reached record lows in the late 1960s and early 70s, I edited and published The Outdoorsman, with subscribers in every state, to help restore science-based wildlife management.