Wolf settlement takes the air out of the polar extremes of Idaho, Montana debate

The hardest challenge for advocates of one position or the other is bringing your allies along when you come to the point of compromise.

That’s where 10 environmental groups found themselves this week when they decided to settle with the Obama Administration and allow wolves in Idaho and Montana to be delisted. After building a sense of outrage over the idea of allowing Idaho and Montana to manage wolves and to allow hunting, the groups have to explain to their supporters why they will allow it to happen.

Many wolf advocates have called the groups sellouts and suggested their leaders will now have wolf blood on their hands. But the groups that settled said without the agreement, a bill in Congress that delisted solely on political grounds was all but certain.

The 10 groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, agreed to ask U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to restore the delisting they successfully fought in Montana and Idaho so the Endangered Species Act can still be used to protect species that aren't as popular as wolves.

Kieran Suckling, the usually unyielding leader of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has won so many Endangered Species Act-based cases, gave in when he got what he wanted. Wolves in Oregon and Washington will be afforded to the full protection of the law.

He made the astute political judgment that those two states would support wolf recovery and allow a second large wolf population to grow and keep the population expanding, perhaps into California. Utah wolves also are under full ESA protection as are Wyoming’s.

The 10 groups got no guarantees that Congress won’t act, though if Molloy goes along it there is less political pressure in support of delisting legislation. They got a process for scientifically determining how many wolves should be in a Rocky Mountain population before their five-year deal runs out.

But they gave up solid floors for the wolf population above the 150-wolf minimum set when the Idaho and Montana plans were approved early in the century. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar held the line and said no when they wanted to put in the pact the 520 wolf goal Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game set in a 2008 plan aimed at establishing a hunting season. Instead it references the 2008 plan, but says the federal government can allow the states to implement other management plans it "deems to be satisfactory."

That was one of the reasons the Western Watersheds Project and its bombastic executive director Jon Marvel did not go along with the deal. Western Watersheds also could not agree to the delisting of wolves along state boundaries. It regularly argues in court that decisions on wildlife and public land cases should only be made on the science and the law, said Brian Ertz, a spokesman for the group.

Had Interior allowed the 520 Idaho floor for wolves in the deal, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter would have likely used it as grounds to oppose it. In other words he could have made a good case not to take yes for an answer to a hunting season this fall.

He still will not like the fact it leaves open the chance for environmentalists to sue in the future and place wolves back on the list in Idaho. That alone could make it hard for him to say much good about the deal, let alone support it as Montana Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer has.

But when he announced the agreement during a speech to the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday, the crowd of about 50 business leaders there applauded, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported.

Some sportsman groups also likely will continue the push for a legislative fix, especially since Utah and Wyoming are on the outside looking in. In fact, the many different political pressures coming from all sides will help keep all sides honest as they move forward.

But first Molloy has decide to go along.

Enviro-elite cannot be trusted

This is not an agreement, it is a stall tactic. The enviro-elite have conveniently split into two camps on this. The one side plays possum and shows compromise while the other, backed by Marvel is ready to cut loose the legal dogs. Congressional modification of the ESA is a shoo-in right now with political and public sentiment's backing. The enviros know it and are playing good cop bad cop looking to buy time and hope for a political swing in their favor. Tell them to go to he11 on this agreement and let Congress modify the ESA. That will be the only permanent remedy to Idaho's wolf debacle.

Political Tactics, Bad Science, & the ESA

You are right, stones. This is not about wolves, it is about bad law and agenda-based science. The ESA is in serious need of revision, and has been for a number of years. It is based on bad politics and bad science, and has done far more harm than good. The wolf issue has brought many of its short-comings to public attention, and now would be a good time to reconsider those problems and help bring them to resolution.

Importing gray wolves from Canada is genetically no different than barred hoot owls flying into spotted hoot owl territories, hatchery salmon indiscriminately breeding with their so-called "wild" counterparts, local differences in regional pocket gopher colonies, or slight differences in isolated crawdad population issues. These are not "endangered species"; they are political proxies.

There are far more differences in physical appearances, vocalizations, physiology, preferred habitats, and historical prey bases between Pygmies and Swedes than between localized varietions of these politicized animal species. Gray wolves are gray wolves, salmon are salmon, gophers are gophers, and hoot owls are hoot owls. Let's stop having opportunistic taxonomists, agency "scientists," nonprofit organizations, lawyers, and other members of the environmental industry continue damaging our rural economies, common sense, and educational systems at taxpayer expense.

The time has come to put an end to this costly ignorance, whether initially well-intentioned, or not. Too much damage has already been done, and now is a good time to begin repairing that damage. Making control of imported wolves legally possible in only two States at this late date only emphasizes the political (as opposed to "scientific") nature of the ESA. Endangered species do not vote in state or federal elections, in Idaho or Montana or Oregon or anywhere else; but taxpayers do. And they (taxpayers) can -- and should -- use email, blogs, telephones, and common sense to fix this festering nonsense before too much additional damage is done.

Band-aids and crocodile tears are too little, too late. Time for some traditional science and legitimate politics (and journalists?) to shine some real light on these issues.

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

Here's how another blogger views this issue:


Rocky: What are your thoughts on the AP printing "anonymous news" that has every indication of being a self-serving press release put out by the pro-wolfers? As a journalist, is there any way to discover who actually penned this "news" and is hiding their identity? And why they are doing so?

Molloy being petitioned to take action in an area for which he has no jurisdiction?

The potential for non-signers to continue litigation-based "management" strategies?

The actual purpose of the five-year "cease fire" (for some, but not for the Big Guns)? Why five (and only five) years?

Seems like stones has the insight on this issue. If so, some might question whether you are simply being duped by these activists, or are actually an advocate and active participant yourself (aka, a "wolf in sheep's clothing").

These really aren't "polar extremes" at all, Rocky -- more like "variations on a theme." I'd be interested in your thoughts on these questions. Are you being used or, worse, trying to use your readers?

My thoughts

There's no conspiracy here. AP gets its info from its members and its own reporters. Sometimes they rewrite press releases just as I do.

Anytime we journalists shorten a description of any of the factions involved in an issue we get in trouble with someone. I call the 13 groups environmentalists, wildlife advocates or wolf advocates.

I can't call the groups that sue over salmon environmentalists because they also include sportsman's groups, Indian tribes and fishing industry groups so I call them salmon advocates. To me their is no inference about the folks on the other side, which include federal fishing agencies, Indian tribes and others who clearly care about salmon too.

Molloy can decide if he has jurisdiction. the federal government has already resolved the Johnson case by offering to negotiate again with Wyoming.

I am trying to inform my reader and if that's of use to people on either side of these debates so be it. I call them like I see them and you get to comment because I sign my work. I appreciate Bob that you sign yours.

Thanks, Rocky

I appreciate the feedback and insights into your thinking.

And yes, I think anonymous posters are something like counterfeit money. They can say anything and claim anything they want under the "protection" of not having to be personally responsible for their words or assertions; but I'd rather have a real dollar -- or even some loose change -- than a fortune in Monopoly money.

I would, however, never call wolf advocates "wildlife advocates." They are wolf advocates -- and maybe more particularly, "wolf relocation advocates." Same with hoot owl advocates and snail darter advocates. When a single species or sub-species or localized subsection of a sub-species is the focus of specific actions, then that is far (far) different than being an advocate for all wildlife in general -- or even an advocate for a single species of wildlife. Spotted hoot owls vs. barred hoot owls is one obvious example; hatchery salmon over "wild" salmon is another. Many spotted hoot owl advocates, for example, are willing to shoot barred hoot owls on sight; or kill hatchery-born salmon in deference to those born in streams (or born in hatcheries, but not having their fins clipped).

French poodle advocates are not the same thing as Great Dane advocates is an obvious analogy.

Bob & Rocky

I agree,and am not afraid to be identified next to my opinion... Mark Hribik


No one deserves to be threatened or stalked because of posting on the internet. Those who need to know who I am do (including Rocky.)

In my humble opinion, this "compromise" smacks of politics not science. The science has been saying for years that the wolves have recovered. Wolves have saturated the prime habitat and have expanded into marginal habitat (around private property and rural communities.) When wolves live near people they become habituated.

Wolves were howling yesterday morning not far from our home.

To each his own (milkbone)

Some anons run rings atound the others and you were praising me last week ; p

Must be Libya...


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

Yes, it's Libya

fo: I think it probably is a good idea for you to maintain your anonymity, for lots of obvious reasons. I am mostly concerned with the people that use anonymity to make ad hominem attacks on others (cowards), or to present their "scientific" viewpoint (phonies). YPMule also presents good arguments for retaining anonymity; but neither of you are into attacking others or authoritative posturing.

I like the fact we know who Rocky is, and that others (such as myself) identify themselves when they present credentials or other means to bolster their own opinions -- particularly when those opinions involve the capabilities or implied intentions of other posters or people in the news. Politicians and lawyers are always fair game, of course.

cause and effect

Rock wrote, "I call them like I see them and you get to comment because I sign my work."

We're so lucky!

So if you didn't "sign your work" we couldn't comment on it?

The effect of cause

pimp2: I think if Rocky didn't sign his work, no one would read it. Plus, his employer probably wouldn't sign his paycheck, either -- so there's that, too. I disagree (a lot) with many of Rocky's opinions and assertions, but I do admire the fact that he is open to public criticism, allows others to have their say, and even responds from time to time with those of us who disagree with him. In those regards, I think we are kind of "lucky" -- wide open discourse on wolf introductions, Apocalyptic Global Warming ("AGW"), environmental politics, salmon, Wilderness, highway trucking, and his adventures with grammar. It's a fun and informative blog with lots of different opinions and even some humor -- some intentional -- here and there. Because he signs his work (and allows his critics to remain anonymous).


Bob, I like your comments and am glad some people like you post here to add to the discussion.

My point was Rocky's statement doesn't make sense and is condescending to those who post anonymously.

I will remind everyone, Rocky has deleted posts critical of him, such as mine- not just the ones where I call him an idiot either. One I pointed out he basically copied parts of Popkey's article- deleted; and other similar criticism- deleted. Oh well, Statesman owns the site.

Often when someone asks a direct question to him, it goes unanswered- such as you asking him, above, about an apparent 'self-serving anonymous' press release. "There's no conspiracy" doesn't exactly answer the question. That's more like a politician's answer- diversion and a redirect.

Anonymity I think adds to the value of these forums- as long as people are civil.
A principal at XYZ High School is not going to come on here and be critical of the school administration using their real name. Whether YPMule signs as YPMule or Joe Smith in YellowPine is irrelevent. He (under his moniker) adds something regardless of the name used. And that is true for every 'poster'. Does anyone really want to know who FO is? That may be better left a mystery. Even the people who use their "real name", are you sure? It reminds me of the early Internet ad- "Do you really know who you are doing business with on the Internet?" and then it shows a dog in front of the computer.

Franklin James Foreignoregonian


I am in general agreement with your post on anonymity: "Anonymity I think adds to the value of these forums- as long as people are civil."

Civility is one key, but authority is another. When people presume a scientific (especially) authority in their opinions, and then do so under a pseudonym, I think that is unethical. Even when they properly cite the work of others, I would not trust anything they have to say. Same with anonymous ad hominem attacks. I was unaware that Rocky removed some posts (Rocky!), but I do agree that he often evades direct questions -- such as the example you've given.

And no, no one wants to know FO's real name. (FYI, YPMule is more likely to go by Jenny Smith than Joe.)

PS It's easy to tell if people like Rocky or me are using our "real names." That's why Gore invented Google.

Who is Franklin James?

Not Joe...JO


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

YP would be shocked

as would likely her husband, to find out that she is a man. :)

I still think it would be fun for you, me, and Rocky to go up to Yellowpine and say hi.

Truth is hard to come by


The Rock writes, "Sometimes they rewrite press releases just as I do."

"Rewrite" is that what you call it?
I hear the kids say it's just copy/paste or "c/p" for short.

As a reader of your 'environmental journalism' (only because you are the only 'environmental writer' at the Statesman- our only daily paper) I would prefer you just provide the link since it's difficult to tell what you are copying word for word, what you interpret as news, and where you are trying to provide an opinion.

Their leaders will now have wolf blood on their hands.

Not to worry, all one needs do is use some hot water lots of soap and the blood washes right off of your hands.

Trust me. Use a scrub brush and it washes off clean as if it was never there.

Now don’t you all feel a lot better. Just remember to always wash your hands after every wolf.

At least they don't smell like onions


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

You were wrong

Dear Judge Molloy,
Now we think you are wrong!

Please change your mind, even though the law has not changed. You clearly interpreted the law incorrectly and NOW we are here to tell you how it really is.

The Wolf Lovers

Geez, at least stand on your principles (or paws in this case).

Wussies and arrogant.
It's like they think "WE decide how it should be."

If Molloy doesn't stand his ground he proves he is a wussy too.

Feed The Bears

(The NFL ones)


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

You are right

The groups that have been consistent regarding principles are Western Watersheds and the other 3 groups that will not go along with this political turnabout. Love them or hate them, they did not bend when the political wind changed.

Judge Molloy Denies Deal

No surprise. Media hype or politics?

Molloy did the right thing

If he would have reversed his earlier decision based on some hare brained scheme he had no control over he would have lost all credibility as a political hack. The enviros overplayed their hand with that lawsuit, and were trying to do a take back with a decision that was no longer theirs to make. The arrogance that made them think they could just show up to Molloy's door and tell him what to do now is simply breath taking.

Congress did the right thing and passed a law to do what Molloy couldn't. It all works out in the end.

Justin Boggs

Truth is hard to come by

Thanks, Justin!

I think ("hope") you're right on target. Both Molloy and the Enviros deserve each other, and it would be great if we could just leave them to their own devices and leave the rest of us out of it. They've caused too much harm and confusion already, and it's past time for a little common sense to take hold again.

No hot new comments? Did somebody die in their slleep?


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!