Rhetoric doesn't match changing reality in national wolf debate

Wolves are no longer federally protected in Idaho!

The Defenders of Wildlife, the group whose patient, calm and thoughtful campaign helped lead to wolf reintroduction in 1995, has a different approach now that wolf numbers in the region are at 1,600 and growing.

Its press release was headlined: “Wolves in the cross hairs again.”

Rodger Schlickeisen, its president said he was “outraged and dismayed.”

The rhetoric is similar to last year but the facts have changed and I’m not surprised Schlickeisen is dismayed. It’s no longer the Bush administration that is pushing delisting. That makes fund-raising on the issue a lot harder.

The focus is no longer on Wyoming’s bad behavior and even Idaho and Montana are becoming only a smaller part of a national debate. Wolves also were delisted in the Great Lakes where more than 4,000 are running around and environmentalists plan to sue to reverse that decision too. No hunting planned there.

Now the debate is about delisting only a portion of the nation’s wolf population. That focuses attention on the places where there are no wolves. It focuses the attention on wolf genetics throughout the continent.

Are there wolves in Maine? In the Adirondacks? How about the Sierras? Some may ask, actually Rep. Mike Simpson has asked, what is Defenders doing about that?

Back to the rhetoric. Defenders suggests that today that the Northern Rockies wolf population is more likely to be gunned down by helicopter gunners working for the federal government now than when they were listed.

In fact, the Idaho Fish and Game Department has put on the shelf its helicopter gunning plan to reduce wolves in the Lolo area to aid elk. They won't bring it back unless the wolves are relisted.

In other words, the Fish and Game Commission won't spend tens of thousands of dollars it doesn't have to hire helicopter gunners unless the environmentalists win their lawsuit. The commissioners always have preferred to manage wolves like they do other game animals through hunting.

They have committed to be more aggressive about addressing livestock depredation and have identified 26 packs that attacked livestock three or more times last year. Environmentalists and many biologists believe non-lethal means of control would be more effective and both methods are costly.

But environmentalists suggest the current plan is to eliminate 26 packs immediately.

“We couldn’t do that if we wanted to,” said Jim Unsworth, Fish and Game deputy director.

And make no mistake, they don’t want to because they know a wolf killing campaign will only feed the rhetoric that makes wolf management so tough.

Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, suggests it is possible and perhaps even reasonable to assume the Idaho and even Montana plan a massive wolf killing campaign as soon as they think they can get away with it.

“It allows all but 300 – of an estimated total of 1,343 – of the wolves in Idaho and Montana to be killed,” Stone said. “These numbers do not even account for the new pups being born as we speak, who are easy targets for those who would wish them harm.”

Idaho isn’t going to protect the pups? What kind of fiends are these?

In Idaho we call them poachers

Actually Idaho plans to open a hunting season this fall. When, or if, the allocated number of wolves is killed in an area the season will be closed.

The anti-wolf people are still out there too and they have their own brand of rhetoric. Can our elk population survive until hunting season so we can shoot one?

In a lot of ways the wolf debate is like the nation's ideological debate in the wake of the Obama election. Polarized voices are losing their audiences and people in the center are getting their voices back. But that doesn't stop people from trying.

The rhetoric has never matched the reality, from either side

Hence my endless diatribes against knee jerk alarmism.

Truth is hard to come by

As opposed to

thoughtful alarmism

I get your point

But through the lens of history, how many times have you seen that?

Truth is hard to come by

Winston Churchhill

in the 1930s about the Nazi threat. The world's scientists first about ozone and then about climate change.

Ahh, ozone

Yeah, you don't hear about that anymore do you? Is it because we fixed the cause of the problem? Not really, it's because DuPont managed to get the laws changed so their new patented product could make money when the old patent ran out on their refrigerant. It was a bunch of over blown unscientific hype as well. I know that chlorine messes with the ozone layer, but I also know that the process that makes ozone is MASSIVELY productive. I never saw the math actually adding up on that one, especially when the ozone hole was only in one spot, and that spot wasn't near any industrialization, and happened to be above a volcano that was shooting millions of tons of chlorine straight up into the air. No harm no foul on that one, CFCs were always a minor part of the industrial process to begin with anyway.

Hitler, ok, your right about that one. However, while we were busy with Hitler we missed our chance to contain Stalin, who turned out to be just as bad. I guess it was because the liberals were to busy calling him Uncle Joe and trying to model the U.S. after him.

Climate change. Climate change has been happening since before we walked the earth. Any concern over it, other than how to respond to the inevitable is knee jerk alarmism (IMHO). Besides, I was asking about historical alarmism, GW is a current issue.

Truth is hard to come by

Everybody is looking for the ozone. Maybe a different one.

Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his Ninth Symphony. Rush Limbaugh is profoundly hard of hearing.

Millions of people like Beethoven.

Stone cold propaganda

In numerous stories lately I've seen Ms. Stone's misinformation quoted profusely, while the writer ignores easily found facts on our own F&G website. The propaganda is tiresome and false. Buzzwords like 'helicopter gunning' are akin to outright lying to the public.

Its refreshing to see a blog that recognizes the desperation for donations and the silliness of extremists on both sides.

Good job Rocky.

Have you hugged your wolf today?

Please do so, he might be hungry.

Maybe he'll just hump your leg.

Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his Ninth Symphony. Rush Limbaugh is profoundly hard of hearing.

Millions of people like Beethoven.

Wow, a thoughtful commentary

Wow, a thoughtful commentary from Rocky Barker. If I were religious I would think the apocolypse were on its way. It is bothersome however that you somehow drag global change warming climate, or whatever it's called now and Nazism into the argument with your post article responses. I guess even the sun shines on a dog's a...nevermind. Same old chicken little...err..Rocky, different article.

If they don't have a massive wolf killing campaign

If they don't have a massive wolf killing campaign here in Idaho because it would feed the rhetoric from Defenders, I'd say that is a very favorable outcome. So the argument assumes that Defenders' heated rhetoric is indeed serving to keep the Idaho wolf population from being greatly reduced.

That outcome (just a small reduction) is fine with me.