May 28, 2023

Dr. Charles Kay: “Isle Royale Conditions Are Not Applicable Any Place Else in North America”

*Editor’s Note* – The following article from “The Outdoorsman” Bulletin Number 60, June-November 2015, is republished here with permission. Please respect the copyright of this work. If you would like to ensure that The Outdoors remains in circulation, please donate to the cause. It is extremely worthwhile. Please click on The Outdoorsman “Subscribe” button to the right of this screen. Thank you.

Dr. Charles Kay: “Isle Royale Conditions Are Not Applicable Any Place Else in North America”

By George Dovel

In 2009, following an ongoing 2008 celebration of 50 consecutive years of wolf-moose research on Isle Royale, Research Leader Rolf Peterson warned that the island’s record low estimate of 500 moose could not provide enough sustained food for the 24 wolves they had counted. He predicted the wolf population could become extinct.

His prediction was based on basic facts from his research, which began as a graduate student in 1970 when there were 1,045 moose to feed only 18 wolves. That was nearly twice as many moose as the 30-moose-per-wolf that researchers had learned were required to feed them on a sustained basis.

But as inevitably happens when there is abundant prey and a healthy wolf population, the wolves rapidly expanded at a rate which far exceeded the reproductive rate of the moose. However that was not the only factor causing a rapid decline in the moose-to-wolf-ratio.

During Several Severe Winters, Deep Snow Trapped the Prey Species – Allowing the Wolves to Kill up to 3X the Prey They Killed during Normal Winters

In a 1985 article titled, “How Delicate is the Balance of Nature?” *, L. David Mech described how two decades of studying wolves in Michigan’s Isle Royale and in Northern Minnesota had taught him that a so-called “balance of nature” never lasts long. Instead, he learned that ratios of wolves and prey animals eventually fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically.(*see Jan-Feb 1985 National Wildlife or May 1985 Alaska Magazine)

Several severe winters with abnormal snow depths in the Lake Superior area allowed Minnesota deer and the Isle Royale moose to be killed easily by wolves. Killing sprees resulted in up to three times as many deer or moose being killed as in a normal winter – with little or nothing eaten from some of the carcasses the researchers examined.

By 1980 the Isle Royale wolf population had increased to 50 wolves in five packs – with only 788 live moose left to feed them. That <16 moose-per-wolf was the lowest ratio ever recorded on Isle Royale at that time, and the starving wolves began invading neighboring packs’ territories and killing each other in their search for food.

Regardless of any other contributing factors, it was obvious from the records both Peterson and Mech kept, that the wolves’ excessive killing depleted their primary prey species causing the 1980-82 crash in wolf numbers in both locations. The graph below shows that crash in Isle Royale, and the failure of inbred wolves to recover after the starving moose herd crashed 18 years later in 1998 Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Populations 1959-2015.

Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Populations 1959-2015


In 1988, 30 years after Mech’s Isle Royale wolfmoose research began, the agencies and groups involved finally decided to capture, radio collar, and take blood samples from Isle Royale wolves for three years. The object was to determine whether food shortage, disease, or genetic loss was causing the wolves to decline.

Although they found Parvovirus antibodies present in only two wolves only during the first year of testing in 1988, it did not prove the disease was active in the 1980-82 wolf population crash – or whether the wolves encountered it and other diseases after the crash as a result of their mass starvation from lack of prey.

However several members of the Study Support Group immediately began to claim the 1980-82 crash was caused by one or more hypothetical tourists who brought an infected dog to the island. But all five of the principal researchers, published a research paper in the August 1998 Journal of Mammology (18 years after the crash) attributing the 1980-82 wolf crash to the obvious shortage of prey – with parvovirus as a probable contributing factor.

The Corruption of Science

When wildlife biology professors emphasize to their students both the glory and the financial benefits of announcing an exciting new discovery, an increasing number fail to warn them of their responsibility to consider all of the facts they encounter. Sadly, instead of enriching our knowledge and our understanding of the natural world we live in with what is often a slow painstaking process of unbiased investigation, charlatans who pretend to be motivated by science often ignore that part of the process.

When Dr. Val Geist forwarded a May 14, 2013 erroneous article claiming the Isle Royale study area was a “Pristine Wilderness” to Dr. Charles Kay, Dr. Kay’s reply addressed the gross misrepresentations that have been a part of the world famous wolf-moose study since it began.

He pointed out that the entire island had been privately owned – with mining, logging and commercial fish camps. The original Native owners/administrators of the island had been replaced by various commercial interests, yet retained a senior right to hunt, fish and gather.

Dr. Kay explained that the state of Michigan had acquired most of the land and donated it to the National Park Service in order to create a national park and provide more income from tourists. Yet, like the Indians before them, a few of the white settlers retained use of their property, buildings, and even commercial fishing rights.

But once the National Park was created followed by Wilderness designation for the ~400 island land area, the Park Service prohibited all forms of travel on the land areas except hiking, canoeing and kayaking. Instead of providing increased income to Michigan from park visitors as was planned, Congress soon cut the NPS staff funding.

Dr. Kay had previously pointed out that importing uncontrolled moose to Isle Royale, where the largest predators were coyote and lynx, had resulted in wholesale destruction of critical browse for moose and other species. This caused the moose population to crash and made the survivors susceptible to deformities and disease.

And wolves also had very infrequent access to the island – an assurance of their ongoing debilitation and eventual self-destruction through inbreeding. Dr. Kay’s final comments to Dr. Geist express his frustration:

“The entire study has been a waste of time because it is a unique situation and the results are not applicable any place else in North America…and anyone who says it is applicable to other areas is committing scientific fraud. I was going to write an article on all this, but the publisher has had second thoughts. – Charles”

Why True Facts about Isle Royale Are So Important

Back in 1937 as part of his doctoral program, graduate student Durward Allen conducted a two-year study of skunks living on a poultry farm and bird sanctuary owned by Michigan State College. He concluded that skunks that were killing chickens should not be controlled, and he opposed controlling predators or re-stocking prey to restore depleted game populations for the rest of his life.

He was also a lifelong advocate of reducing human populations and creating new restricted “Wilderness” Areas to protect wolves and other large carnivores from human activities. In 1954, when he couldn’t get grant funding as a US Fish and Wildlife Service researcher to study the newly arrived wolves’ impact on moose on Isle Royale, he resigned as Assistant Chief of Wildlife Research for FWS to join the faculty at Purdue University.

By 1958, he had obtained funding from National Geographic and the National Science Foundation for a 10- year study. He coached PhD candidate L. David Mech, who began the study during a 3-year-period when both wolf and moose numbers appeared to be stable – with each increasing slightly.

But instead of directing Mech to continue the study for the full 10-year-period – when he would have seen the moose population begin to crash while the number of wolves skyrocketed – Allen was determined to jam his predator preservationist philosophy down the public’s throat during the first three years, and again two years later.

His actions resulted in Maurice Hornocker doing exactly the same thing with mountain lions and deer from 1964-67 – except the mule deer population in his Central Idaho study area was already nose-diving. Instead of using the Idaho Fish and Game deer counts, he substituted highly exaggerated figures to claim the lions were incapable of limiting deer numbers after only three winters of research.

Farley Mowat’s 1963 “Never Cry Wolf” fiction published as fact, claimed wolves were misunderstood mouse eaters. It paved the way for widespread propaganda campaigns by federal agency employees and intellectuals promoting the continuing Isle Royale study as being vital to understand all predator-prey management elsewhere.

The May 14, 2013 article titled, “Wolves Teach Scientists Their Limitations,” that Dr. Kay received from Dr. Geist, shows the far-reaching scope of that propaganda. It was published in the Washington, D.C.-based The Chronicle of Higher Education, which claims to be the number one source of news, information and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators.

The weekly Chronicle newspaper has more than 64,000 academic subscribers with more than 315,000 total readers, and the daily website reports more than 1.6 million unique visitors each month. The article by Science Editor Paul Voosen perpetuated the myth that prolonging the 57- year-old study is the only way mainland Minnesota moose managers can find out why their moose herds are declining.

For example, Voosen’s article said the Northeast Minnesota moose population had plummeted by two-thirds during the previous three years while quoting Isle Royale Co-Project Leader John Vucetich as saying the nearby Isle Royale moose population had increased by 80% over roughly the same period. Yet Vucetich admitted that genetic repression of Isle Royale wolves from inbreeding “might” be “part of” the reason for the Moose increase.

In his 2013 article Voosen also claimed the Isle Royale researchers only “recently” discovered the spinal deformities* caused by inbreeding that makes walking or running painful for the wolves. Yet in an April 7, 2009 Scientific American article, Vucetich said researchers had been examining wolf carcasses for 50 years, and back in the 1960s about one-fourth had the spinal deformity. And in 2013 he wrote: “we haven’t found a wolf with a normal spine for the past 15 years.” (*see photos below)



Upper left photo shows a cranial view of normal C7 vertebra on spinal column, while upper right shows C7 vertebra of Isle Royale wolf #3529, with part of it resembling a C6 vertebra (arrow). Unlike normal C7, this painful deformity, called “LSTV,” is a result of inbreeding which impairs movement of the tail and hindquarters.

The bottom photo shows a ventral view of LSTV in wolf #3387. The red line (“gray” if you’re viewing this in black & white) drawn between S1 and S2, illustrates the painful malformation that pinches nerves and affects normal movements.

But this and several other spinal deformities are not the only major impacts from continued inbreeding of the stranded wolves on Isle Royale. Others include greatly increased vulnerability to disease pathogens such as Parvovirus and Lyme Disease, and increasing loss of the ability to breed and produce an adequate supply of healthy surviving replacements.

New Wolf Introduced New Genes to Inbred Wolves

In February of 1998, Isle Royale researchers noticed a different and larger “Alpha Male” leading the Middle Pack which resulted in increasing that pack size to 10 in 1999. That pack also forced another pack out of existence that year and vigorously protected its territory.

While on a surveillance flight in 1999, the pilot and researcher saw the new Alpha male defecating as his pack crossed a frozen lake. When the pack moved on, the pilot landed and they collected the scat (droppings), labeling it from the Alpha Male designated as #93.

The Alpha male began breeding a daughter, #58, in 2002, and other sons and daughters began forming packs and producing young with each other. The brief genetic advantage was soon reversed because, by 2002, five of the six breeding pairs on Isle Royale were either from wolf #93 and his daughter, or his other offspring.

Wolf #93 died in 2006 after eight years as the “Alpha Male” of the Middle Pack, siring 34 offspring, including 21 with his daughter #58. Following #93’s death she began breeding with one of her sons, #152.

Several years after #93’s death, his scat collected in 1999 was finally tested and he was not from Isle Royale.


Large almost white Wolf #93 center, led Middle Pack for eight years, sired 21 offspring with daughter #58 at left side of photo

Several years after #93 died, researchers admitted his offspring were breeding each other because inbreeding had caused the existing Isle Royale wolves to be in such poor condition they were almost incapable of reproducing. Yet the new batch of inbreeding soon destroyed the ability of #93’s offspring to produce their own healthy offspring.

The following is a photo of a severely deformed C7 vertebra in a five-year-old female wolf that was viciously attacked by two pack members several times, and finally escaped via an ice bridge to the Minnesota mainland in February of 2014. It illustrates the return of severe inbreeding and LSTV by Wolf #93 and his offspring.


This wolf was reportedly shot numerous times with an air rifle and one of the pellets entered its lungs between two ribs causing internal bleeding and death. This occurred on private land owned by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who delivered the carcass to the Park Service. The necropsy (autopsy) that discovered the fatal pellet by X-ray and recorded the spinal malformations, was performed jointly by the Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the Park Service Chief Veterinarian.


Photo of abnormal damage to young female wolf’s teeth was part of necropsy report.

In a 6-page research report published in Biological Conservation 142 (2009), and titled, “Congenital bone deformities and the inbred wolves (Canis lupus) of Isle Royale,” Swedish canine anatomy expert Jannikke Räikkönen published the analyses of 36 wolf skeletons collected by Isle Royale researchers from 1964-2007.

Except for skeletons collected in 2006-7, portions of the tail end were missing in many of the spinal columns. Yet she found sufficient evidence of spinal abnormality resulting from inbreeding in the Isle Royale skeletons to conclude that the number of wolves affected had grown progressively worse with each generation.

During the 15 years from 1964 through 1978, only one skeleton out of seven (14%) had malformed spines;

During the 19 years from 1980 through 1998, 13 skeletons out of 17 (76%) had malformed spines;

During the five years from 2003 through 2007, 11 skeletons out of 12 (92%) had malformed spines.

In the 6-1/2 years since the Räikkönen et al study results were published, Isle Royale researchers report that 100% of the spines they located have been malformed. Also, one of only three remaining live wolves observed from a distance this past winter was obviously malformed.

Räikkönen conducted her study with assistance from: (a) Rolf Peterson who had been studying Isle Royale wolves as a student in 1970, and was put in charge when Durward Allen retired in 1975; (b) Ecologist John Vucetich who joined the project 20 years later; and (c) Environmental Philosopher Michael Nelson who has been the official Philosopher and Historian for the Isle Royale wolf and moose project since 2005.

Ms Räikkönen addressed the lame excuses her coresearchers used to claim Isle Royale wolf spinal columns did not contain abnormalities caused by inbreeding. Yet she accepted their version of events at Isle Royale, and even altered her report with Vucetich’s suggested changes.

For example, the researchers’ report published in 1998 – 18 years after the 1980 Isle Royale wolf population crash – repeated their initial conclusion that food (prey) shortage was the primary cause of the crash. Yet in 2004, those same researchers began pretending that canine parvovirus – theoretically introduced by one or more undocumented tourists who illegally brought their infected dog(s) with them – was the sole cause of the 1980 crash.

The fact that Isle Royale wolf researchers spent nearly half a century collecting, cleaning and cataloging wolf skeletons, yet claimed they saw no evidence of spine malformations resulting from inbreeding, should have raised serious questions about their real agenda. Unless you believe we should not be allowed to harvest the renewable natural resources we own, and whose management we pay for, you share a responsibility to expose their real agenda.

The environmental extremists who claim to be documenting the wolf-moose relationship on Isle Royale are instead addicted to the destructive agenda promoted by Durward Allen (i.e. that protecting wolves is always necessary and beneficial to moose populations regardless of density or ratio to their prey).

In 2006, Peterson and Vucetich joined two environmental professors from Pennsylvania publishing a “Study Paper” solely blaming “human induced Parvovirus in 1980 or 1981” for the 1980 Isle Royale wolf crash. Because the Parvovirus already existed in wolves and dogs on the surrounding mainland in both the U.S. and Canada, and they still do not have factual evidence when or how it got to Isle Royale, in 1996 they were still claiming visitors had transported it to Isle Royale on their boots*. (* see “Science Times” in the March 19, 1996 New York Times.)

Their 2006 7-page Study Paper published in Ecology Letters claimed the few remaining Isle Royale wolves were still valuable by reducing the impact of global warming on the moose, and by reducing the impact of the moose on their forage. But like the other Isle Royale study predictions, the next few years proved the researchers’ new predictions were just as inaccurate as others had been.

From 2006 – 2015 the wolf population nose-dived from 30 wolves to only three, allowing the moose population to increase from 450 to 1,250. Despite two severe back-to-back winters out of the last four, the four year moose increase averaged 22% per year – more than double any other annual increase since wolves first began killing moose on the Island more than 60 years ago.

The 3 Remaining Wolves Are No Longer Impacting Moose, Which Will Severely Damage the Forage Again

Wolves are no longer making a measurable impact on Isle Royale moose. If the 22% annual moose increase exists for the next three years, moose numbers will nearly double causing severe damage to the forage. Before wolves arrived, uncontrolled moose caused extreme forage damage and crashed from 3,000 to 500 in 1934 (Adolph Murie).

Both researchers and residents reported sighting a significant number of moose on the Island after the 1912- 1913 winter. At that time it was speculated that the moose had crossed from the Canadian mainland on an ice bridge but an employee of a private railroad was interviewed and said his boss had paid him to capture the moose, build shipping containers and ship them by railroad and then boat to Isle Royale to provide moose hunting.

That employee’s statements were being considered by National Park Service officials when Outdoorsman No. 59 was mailed, but have since disappeared from the record. In order to determine whether moose appearance was a socalled “naturally occurring event,” which they support, or “human caused,” which they oppose, it is also necessary to understand the confusing rules for designating a National Park and for creating a quasi Wilderness.

Those rules are further complicated by the fact that Congress and the National Park Service approved the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, but the NPS remains undecided about whether or not to reintroduce wolves into Isle Royale National Park.

The major difference is that Isle Royale is an island surrounded by several hundred tiny islands, with the closest mainland 15 to 40 or more miles away. The single large predator – the wolf – normally has no escape from the island, and no alternate large prey besides the moose. The wolves multiply much faster than the moose, which finally forced the moose into a “predator pit.”

A Remote Island is a Poor Place to Raise Wolves

When the ratio of moose to wolves fell below about 30:1, there were no longer enough moose to provide sustained nourishment. With no place to go, the starving wolves began to invade each others’ territory searching for food – resulting in wolves killing and eating other wolves.

As mentioned previously, being malnourished also caused the inbred wolves to be more susceptible to disease pathogens, and less likely to breed and produce healthy offspring. The injection of new genes from Wolf No. 93 in 1998 resulted in only a very temporary reduction in the percentage of inbred wolves on Isle Royale.

Also, moose calves that are born following a severe winter weigh less and mature to produce calves that also weigh less and are considered substandard. Skeletons of these young moose exhibit premature crippling arthritis when they are only five years old, making them much easier prey for the inbred diseased wolves.

Isle Royale Biologists Ignore Other Wolf Research

In 1960, Alaska wildlife biologists transplanted two pairs of wolves onto SE Alaska’s Coronation Island in an experiment designed to reduce forage damage by blacktailed deer. During the following summer, a commercial fisherman shot both of the adult female wolves but biologists then discovered wolf tracks made by pups mixed with the two sets of adult male wolf tracks.

Articles in Outdoorsman No. 35 by an Alaska science editor explained how these wolves had three litters over several years, and how 11 or more wolves had finally killed all but three of the formerly abundant deer that had ultimately taken refuge on a steep brushy cliff at the other end of the island.

Dr. Val Geist had shared an office with the research project leader and he confirmed how the wolves killed seals, and finally killed and ate each other after the seals stopped hauling out on the beach. The last remaining wolf starved and Alaska biologists learned not to introduce wolves to an island where there is no opportunity to leave once the wolves decimate their sole source of large prey.

Denali National Park Wolf History Also Ignored

But Isle Royale biologists ignored that as well as the long term Denali National Park research by David Mech and or Layne Adams et al, when protected wolves drove once abundant caribou, moose and Dall sheep populations into a “predator pit”. Despite the establishment of buffer zones* outside of the Park to protect wolves that strayed outside of the park boundary seeking food, 60% of Denali wolves that die each year are killed and eaten in the Park by other hungry wolves defending their territory. (* Buffer zones were established outside the NE boundary of Denali Park but were discontinued by the Board of Game in 2010, not to be reconsidered until 2016.)

Snared Wolf Prompts Petition to Restore Buffer Zones

In 2012, long time Alaska big game guide and trapper Coke Wallace caught one of two breeding females from the Grant Creek wolf pack in a snare outside of the Park. The pack’s other breeding female was found dead from “natural” causes near its den site in the Park that same spring and the two deaths plus the remaining wolf pack moving their new den away from the road in 2013, resulted in a further decline in wolf viewing success from a record high of 44% in 2010 to only 4% in 2013.

After the Park’s name was changed to Denali and its size tripled in 1980, officials recognized the danger to tourists from getting out of their vehicles to get a closer look at wolves that weren’t afraid of humans. They used bus tours for viewing wolves to better control the tourists.

That, plus the negligible impact of hunters and trappers killing a maximum of only one or two Park wolves compared to the much larger number that die from cannibalism and other “natural” causes, were two major reasons given for eliminating the buffer zones by 2010.

Trapper Wallace reported that the female wolf he snared in 2012 was severely malnourished with hip bones and backbone protruding, but a Park Biologist disagreed. However, long time wolf advocate/biologist and former ADFG Game Board member Vic Van Ballenberghe publicly agreed with the trapper’s assessment.

He said the Denali wolves all looked very thin in 2012 and all three big game species they depended on to survive were very low compared to past numbers. Park biologists estimated the total number of wolves in the six million acre Park had declined from 143 in 2007 to only 70 in 2012, and now, three years later, to only 48 in 2015.

The excuses Denali Park biologists used to try to justify their hands-off “natural (ecosystem) management” instead of maintaining a healthy ratio of predators to their prey, produced the same results they have in Yellowstone, Banff, Jasper, Wood Buffalo, Isle Royale, Vancouver Island, and every other place where protected wolves are allowed to exceed a healthy ratio to their prey.

In Mark Hebblewhite’s ten-year study of the impact of returning wolves to the Banff ecosystem in the 1980s, he recorded an annual decline of 8% of moose and a 90% drop in elk numbers – with several woodland caribou herds becoming extinct. But instead of restoring healthy wildlife management in national and provincial parks, Professor Hebblewhite and his fellow extremists insist game managers must allow predators to drive the prey species into predator pits outside of the parks as well (see Outdoorsman No. 38).

Otherwise, he says, there will be more wildlife on the outside than in the parks, and this would discourage visitors from spending money for a remote chance to view a handful of semi-tame “Watchable” wolves in the Parks. That is exactly what has happened in Denali Park.

Why Not Manage for Healthy Wildlife in the Parks?

Even with only 48 wolves in 6 million acres of Park, there are still not enough large prey animals left to feed them year-around on a sustained basis. Yet in the 4.2 million acres of adjacent Game Management Unit 20A that is open to hunting, there are about 300 healthy wolves and 10,000 healthy moose.

In a guest editorial in the 03-29-2015 Alaska Dispatch News, retired forester, biologist and former Game Board member Pete Buist pointed out that the 10,000 moose in Unit 20A provide a human harvest of several hundred moose every year in addition to the estimated 2,000 moose per year that are killed by the 300 wolves.

His editorial explained why the Board of Game’s recent rejection of a petition by primarily outside interests to restore buffer zones to protect Park wolves outside of the Park, was both legal and logical. He also explained why the petition was simply an anti-hunting anti-trapping fund raiser for an extremist group rather than a sincere effort to increase the number of wolves in the Park by restoring a healthy balance of wolves with their prey.

He compared the declining prey and the starving wolves in the Federal Park with the abundant healthy wolves and the human harvest of thousands of pounds of healthy wild game meat by the State in GMU 20A. Then he asked why, if the petitioners wanted more wolves in the Park, they didn’t simply encourage the same healthy management in the Park as existed in 20A.

In 2008, the Isle Royale research/propaganda team consisting of Michael Nelson, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich published “The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project: Fifty Years of Challenge and Insight” revealing years of underhanded activities in the George Wright Forum*. In 2011, a second version titled: “The Isle Royale Wolf– Moose Project (1958-present) and the Wonder of LongTerm Ecological Research” can still be found at: http:// Nelson2011ISRO.pdf as this issue is being printed.

Both versions contain harsh criticisms and namecalling of people who control wolves, as well as the claim they also slowly torture the wolves as part of the price for their evil existence. The 4-yr.-old report also documents the researchers’ brazen refusal to quit the study and leave Isle Royale three times when ordered to by two different Inrterior Secretaries and by their FWS boss.

Then a 2012 article by Rolf Peterson published in Moral Ground titled, “Will There Be Wolves in Paradise?” stated the following “On the Fourth of July in 1981, a dog brought illegally to Isle Royale by a visitor on a private boat carried a new mutant virus—canine parvovirus—to the island. The wolf population was devastated, and most wolves died.”

His comments falsely implied that a human and his dog brought parvovirus to the island and caused the radical 1980-82 wolf decline. Yet of the 36 wolves that died during the two-year crash 20 were recorded several months before the alleged July 1981 trip to the Island with a dog.

The truth is that all of the Isle Royale National Park Svc. Wolf research leaders from Robert Linn in 1956- 1957, Durward Allen in 1958-1975, Rolf Peterson in 1975- 2001 and John Vucetich from 2001 to the present, have tried to convince the public that humans – not wolves – have caused both the moose declines and the wolf declines.

But remember David Mech’s 1985 article cited on Page 1 of this article in which he referenced the Isle Royale wolves doubling to 50 by 1980 while the stunted yearling and two-year-old moose were totally vulnerable to excessive killing by wolves during the series of extreme winters. Mech continued, “Then the population of Isle Royale wolves crashed as expected.”

What Did They Expect?

The fact that the malnourished wolves were killing each other or starving to death once they destroyed too many moose during the series of extreme winters was never questioned by the researchers until after Vucetich and Nelson joined the group and increased its “blame civilized humans” agenda.

During the past few months I have read several dozen pages of their publicized efforts promoting green energy and denouncing bona fide wildlife experts, including Val Geist for his support of hunting and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. They propose to change the “North American Model” so that it has no connection with hunting.

The Organization they formed, “The Conservation Ethics Group,” is actively seeking to convert our energy source to solar panels while outlawing fracking, exploration, development and use of fossil fuels, and promoting their radical vision of Conservation Ethics and Sustainability Ethics.


Read How We Got Where We Are – Then Use Just Two Facts to Expose the Truth about Wolves

*Note* – The following article is published on this website with the consent of the author. Please support The Outdoorsman by clicking on the link to your right on the computer screen and subscribing to the print publication. The only way this honest and accurate work can continue is with your support. Thank you.

by George Dovel

If knowledgeable outdoorsmen had easy access to just two indisputable facts from bona fide wildlife experts, they could use just those facts to discredit the self-serving clichés from the quasi-environmentalists and self-proclaimed “wildlife conservationists.”

The two facts referenced in this article have been verified by long-term studies conducted by acknowledged wildlife experts on both sides of the wolf issue. This makes them virtually impossible to refute so the radical must resort to attacking you or your source of information.

If you go on the offensive for a change and arm yourself with just these two facts, and the names of the wildlife experts who provided them, there is no need to engage radical wolf preservationists in further discussion. Your job is to present facts – not to expose yourself or your sources to ridicule for errors in grammar, lack of academic credentials, etc.

Fact #1 – Failure to Properly Control Wolves to Maintain Healthy Balance with Their Prey Eventually Decimates Prey and Starving Wolves Kill Each Other

Thirty years ago, internationally recognized wolf authority L. David Mech published an article titled, “How Delicate is the Balance of Nature?” (see National Wildlife Vol. 23, No. 1, and the May 1985 Alaska Magazine). In that article, Mech admitted that his initial three year 1958-1962 wolf-moose study as a graduate student on Isle Royale helped fix the balance of nature idea in the public mind.

Mech wrote: “During two decades of wolf research, conducting studies in northern Minnesota and on Isle Royale in Michigan, I have learned that, far from always being ‘balanced,’ ratios of wolves and prey animals can fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically. Wolves may actually starve after killing off almost all the moose and deer in an area. This explains why wolf-control programs may sometimes ensure greater and more stable numbers of both wolves and the animals they hunt.”

Mech then described how the once famous white-tailed deer population in northeast Minnesota began to crash after wolf control was halted. He and his students flying in a ski-equipped plane radio-tracking collared wolves saw fewer deer every year.

Most of the deer in the 1,500-square-mile northeast region were not accessible to hunters during hunting season, and seven severe winters made the deer far more vulnerable to wolves. Mech and his students observed deer killed by wolves with little or nothing eaten, and the wolves increased and prospered until they ran out of deer.

Then a starving pack of wolves looking for prey invaded another pack’s territory resulting in wolves killing wolves. Meanwhile, malnourished juvenile wolves continued to starve to death or succumb to diseases instead of replacing adults that died.

The few wolves that survived had turned to killing moose and beaver and a similar scenario with the white-tailed deer and wolves in Northeast Minnesota was also playing out with moose and wolves on Michigan’s Isle Royale. Human killing was not a significant factor in either location.

In his 1985 article, Mech wrote: “However, there is little disputing the results of a recent well-controlled experiment in Central Alaska. Some 38 to 60 percent of the wolves were removed each year from a test area while wolves were not controlled in several adjoining areas. Moose and caribou calves and yearlings increased two- to four-fold where wolves had been taken compared with their numbers before wolf control and were consistently higher than in areas with no wolf removal. Actual moose and caribou herd sizes followed the same trends.”

“Control programs allow recovery of both prey and wolves so that each could live over a longer period. It is something I am reminded of every time I fly over my Minnesota study area and look at lake shores that were speckled with deer and wolves in the late 1960s, and that now lie empty.”

The following graph was photocopied from the 2014-2015 Isle Royale Report by Vucetich and Peterson:


Contributors to the Balance of Nature Myth Starting on the left side of the graph, the first five black squares and five white diamonds indicate a four-year average of about 600 moose to feed an average of 22 wolves. That reflected an average ratio of only 27 moose per year per wolf but that ratio increased slightly to about 33 moose per year per wolf in 1963.

Using only the three years of wolves observed, and guessing the number of moose based on limited wolf kills that were mostly found by volunteers during the summer, did not prove Mech’s and Durward Allen’s National Geographic claim that wolves maintained a “balance.”

Mech’s bias was evident in two articles published in the June and July 1960 issues of Pennsylvania Game
News promoting the “Balance of Nature” as a supposed fact even before the brief Isle Royale study was completed.

In 1930, Charles Elton, the father of modern Wildlife Ecology, wrote, “The ‘balance of nature’ does not
exist and perhaps never has existed. The numbers of wild animals are constantly varying to a greater or less extent, and the variations are usually irregular in period and always irregular in amplitude (being ample).”

Yet 33 years later, an unproven hypothesis by Durward Allen and his student, catapulted them into instant fame and fortune when it was published in National Geographic. It also brought forth a series of “me too” biologists and others who ignored or altered facts to make it appear their favorite predator needed special protection.

The Craigheads “Sick and Crippled” Theory

In 1958, I spent several months transporting a USGS Tellurometer crew by helicopter between mountain peaks in Yellowstone National Park and adjacent high country. I became good friends with two Rangers and the YNP Biologist, who explained in detail how increasing grizzly bear numbers were reducing the little known YNP Madison-Firehole elk herd that wintered entirely in the Park on the upper Madison River.

He invited me back in May of 1959 to watch grizzlies and even a black bear pursue and easily catch and
kill those cow elk that were calving in late May and early June. That was the same year the Craighead twins, Frank and John, assisted by graduate student Maurice Hornocker, began to study grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park.

Each year the Craigheads were aware that after the grizzly bears emerged from hibernation, they were killing large numbers of Madison-Firehole cow elk that were ready to calve. Yet their 1968 National Geographic article included a photograph of a grizzly covering a bull elk carcass with dirt and grass with the following comment:

“The grizzly’s keen sense of smell enables it to detect and locate carrion from afar. Rarely does a grizzly kill a healthy adult elk, but it may fell a sick or disabled one.”

This change from managing our wild game to benefit humans, to researchers lying about the impact of
excessive predator-to-prey ratios, needed to be brought to the public. But the larger circulation national hunting and fishing magazines including Outdoor Life and Field and Stream declined to print factual articles about this, telling me they were “too controversial.”

In 1969 we began publishing The Outdoorsman and did what was necessary to send thousands of
complimentary copies to licensed hunters in the lower 48 states and Alaska. Our list of paid subscribers and their elected officials soon reached 30,000 and our publication of facts began to produce results.

In May of 1970 Rob Donley and I photographed grizzlies killing pregnant cow elk just before calving on the upper Madison, including evidence of bears ripping the fetus out of the womb and eating all but the lower legs of that delicacy. We invited outfitter Steve Jordan along to shoot 35 mm movies of a spectacular chase in the open during which a grizzly covered half a mile while the group of pregnant elk he was chasing ran little more than half that distance before the bear caught up with them.

Following the 1970 calving season, the biologist again contacted me to advise that he had recorded 90 of those elk killed by grizzlies. He also described how the bears killed all 11 calves from a small group of elk plus several of the adults.

He voiced his belief that the Craigheads’ failure to even mention bears killing the Madison-Firehole Elk was the result of their promoting the “sick and crippled” theory of academic biologists.

He also said the Craigheads were tagging and studying only those grizzlies habituated to garbage dumps rather than the wild grizzlies in remote areas in the Park. They opposed the Park Superintendent’s plan to close the remaining garbage dumps and eliminate black bear feeding by the public to cut down increasing injuries to humans. They recommended leaving two major garbage dumps open for another ten years plus shooting elk and bison to feed the bears.

But despite their efforts to discredit YNP officials, those same officials refused to issue their 1971 permit to conduct research in the Park which ended their bear study.

Outfitter Charges Hornocker Claims Not True

Back in 1964, the Craigheads’ assistant, Maurice Hornocker, secured his grants and hired local lion hunter Wilbur Wiles to study the relationship between mountain lions and deer in Idaho Unit 26 on Big Creek in the Idaho Primitive Area*. (*now the Frank Church Wilderness)

Deer and elk populations in Unit 26 had been severely depleted by multiple deer harvests and 90-day either-sex deer and elk seasons extending into the deep snows of mid-December. The ratio of mountain lions to deer far exceeded the healthy one lion per 360 deer that Leopold had recorded in his 1933 study in California.

Despite decreased hunter harvests, deer numbers continued to decline each year, and the study offered the opportunity to confirm whether excessive lion populations were a primary cause of that decline.

As the 3-year study unfolded during the 1965-1967 winters and was then extended for two more years, an ongoing letter-writing feud between outfitter Steve Jordan and Hornocker was published in the Idaho Statesman. Hornocker claimed the Unit 26 deer and elk populations were increasing while F&G helicopter counts continued to report sharp declines.

Governor Requests Evaluation of Big Creek Study

Idaho Governor Don Samuelson provided Rob Donley and me with a copy of Hornocker’s third-year and then his five-year study report, and asked us to investigate and report back to him with an evaluation by June 1, 1969. The June 1969 Outdoorsman contains a copy of our report as well as an article entitled, “The Great Cougar Controversy.”

In his research, Hornocker reported that 25-30 lions were captured repeatedly in the 200-square-mile study portion of Unit 26. He classified them as “residents” and said that any lion they captured only one time was considered a “transient.”

Rob Donley and I removed two large male cougar traveling together several miles outside of the study area boundary in Unit 27 (see photo below). Only one of them had been captured and tagged by the researchers once but was never seen by them again.



These two adult male cougar had been preying on an isolated group of elk in my Unit 26 outfitter area that was inaccessible to hunters once Thanksgiving week or earlier snows closed the passes to horseback travel. The curious lions ran right at us and then tried to kill Rob’s dogs but that’s another story.

I mention this incident on the Unit 27 side of the pass in Marble Creek to point out one of several flaws in Hornocker’s study reports. He coined the term “Mutual avoidance behavioral mechanism,” to claim that male lions never fight each other or travel with one another.

During an earlier year, I discovered evidence of two cougar fighting in the summer, with one bleeding steadily. Hornocker’s coined phrase was another example of alleged but non-existent “social regulation” that was claimed by Allen and Mech, the Craigheads, and Canada’s wolf advocate-environmentalist, Douglas Pimlott.

Highly Inflated Deer Estimates in Big Creek Study

Instead of searching for facts to prove or disprove the hypothesis that uncontrolled cougar benefited deer and elk, Hornocker ignored the radical decline of both species reported in IDFG helicopter counts. He substituted his own set of “estimated” deer figures claiming that both prey populations were increasing dramatically.

In 1967 he claimed the Unit 26 deer population had increased from 1,099 in 1966 to 2,595 in 1967 yet a four-day IDFG helicopter count in 1967 recorded only 466 total deer. He also claimed there was a ratio of 163 deer and 71 elk to each one of the 25-30 resident cougar.

On a “biomass” (relative bulk) basis, this equaled 358 deer – almost exactly the healthy 360 deer per cougar Leopold had reported in California back in 1933.

But if Hornocker had multiplied the claimed 163 deer and 71 elk times even the minimum estimate of 25 resident cougar, it would have required a minimum of 4,075 deer plus 1,775 elk to equal his claimed healthy balance.

Conflicting Claims Re: Cougar “Social Regulation”

The February 1970 issue of Field and Stream included an article by Associate Editor Ted Trueblood praising Hornocker’s “myth-shattering conclusion” that “predation by lions is inconsequential in determining ultimate numbers of elk and deer.”

Trueblood described Wiles’ and Hornocker’s actions as the hounds trailed and then treed a lion that had killed a cow elk. He then offered conflicting statistics in a confusing attempt to support Hornocker’s false claim.

But 30 years later, following 10 years of research, two of Hornocker’s associates, Logan and Sweanor, repeatedly emphasized in their 2001 book “Desert Puma,” that mountain lions do not socially regulate. Yet in the material Hornocker has published and in his recent media interviews, he has continued to insist that the lions he studied in Big Creek did socially regulate themselves – allowing their prey to increase and prosper.

Starved Cougar Illustrates Lack of Prey

I stopped outfitting and guiding at the end of the 1966 season because my conscience would not allow me to charge hunters for such a slim chance to kill a branch-antlered bull elk or even a mature buck. The lack of deer was emphasized when Rob and I discovered a dead female cougar in Unit 27 that had left an odd track in the snow.

About one foot of the tip of its tail was encased in ice and had dragged in the snow and in the icy water when it waded out in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River to scavenge a deer skeleton. The skeleton, wedged in a pile of debris below the Mahoney airstrip, had already been picked clean by ravens, and we followed the emaciated cat’s back-trail for several miles for more clues to its fate.

It had hunted two side drainages from the mountain top to the river, but we did not see any deer tracks in either drainage. During the 1950s, several hundred deer were harvested and hauled from the Mahoney airstrip each season by pilots flying from dawn ‘til dark.

But in 1962, the deer harvest from Mahoney declined dramatically and I suggested the Commission stop selling the extra deer tags in Units 26 and 27, and cut a month off the tail end of both deer seasons. I was helping IDFG with a Bighorn sheep study at the time and I explained that the hunter-killed deer I examined had no fat reserves resulting from constant hunter-caused stress in a 90-day season, and that extra stress would cause many more to die even during only a moderately severe winter.

However Big Game Manager Roger Williams insisted that killing even more female deer would solve the problem. The Commissioners approved his suggestion to add a Middle Fork Antlerless tag in Unit 27 and leave the either-sex season open through mid-December in both units.

That allowed a hunter to kill three deer in Unit 27; four deer by also hunting in its Big Creek tributary; and five deer by also hunting in one of several other selected Idaho units. My USAFE courses in Forestry and Zoology had not prepared me for this massive exploitation of wild game, yet hunters could also kill up to five more mule deer by hunting in Nevada after they killed their limit in Idaho.

This is Pertinent Information – Not “Ancient History”

On Jan. 28, 1970, about 300 hunters attended an Idaho Senate Resources Committee hearing with one-third forced to stand or spill out into the Capitol rotunda hall. Although Chairman Sen. Warren Brown kept calling F&G “damage control” witnesses to praise the agency’s “professionalism,” hunters who had been waiting for several hours to testify angrily demanded he call the witnesses in the order they had signed up.

Like other politicians then and now, who protect the bureaucratic agencies and special interests rather than the citizens who elected them, Brown continued to try to limit testimony that described the wanton destruction of the wildlife resource. But when the marathon hearing ended at 1:00 A.M., the attendance by 300 citizens had convinced a majority of the Senators it was time to find facts.

Multiple Harvests of Bears & Lions Restored Game

A three-year performance audit by Legislative Auditor James Defenbach reported F&G had knowingly published highly exaggerated big game harvest statistics during the preceding 10 years. The F&G Director was forced to resign by a new Governor, and Joe Greenley, the new Director, ordered the inflated 10-year harvest statistics be replaced with only the actual kills reported by hunters.

He either closed or dramatically shortened deer and elk seasons, and eliminated all female and juvenile elk and deer harvests except in Idaho’s Panhandle. He also implemented multiple bear and lion harvests statewide to increase the number of surviving juvenile deer and elk.

During the 1972 Idaho legislative session, a bill authorizing payment of a $7.50 bounty on 10,000 Idaho coyotes over a two-year period passed the House by a 44-22 vote. Based on inflation to 2015, that would equal $42.45 per coyote today but the bill was held in the Senate Committee for several weeks while IDFG and other lobbyists mounted a massive campaign to defeat it.

Finally, according to woolgrower Senator John Peavey, the F&G Director agreed to double the amount spent by the Department for federal predator control, and the bounty bill failed 18-17 in the Senate based on that promise. But only $10,000 was added to the $25,000 paid to federal Wildlife Services for coyote control, and it was used solely to settle a dispute about whether coyotes or drownings were killing deer on Dworshak Reservoir ice.

Gubernatorial hopeful Peavey then sent a letter to the Idaho Statesman explaining why he had voted “no” on the coyote bounty. He said that he had talked with IDFG Director Joe Greenley, and, “unlike his predecessor, Greenley believed in active predator management as a tool in providing adequate game for Idaho hunters.”

But in a Statesman Guest Editorial, Greenley responded: “Although predator control has long been an integral part of wildlife management in Europe, it is a sensitive subject, particularly among ‘wildlifers’*…Most American wildlifers have a strong ecological background embracing the full diversity of the natural world – they are hesitant over extreme single value alteration of the biotic community for game.” (* “Wildlifer” is the name of the Wildlife Society’s weekly newsletter to its members who also call themselves “wildlifers”)

The Exploitation of Wild Game in North America

Back in 1946, Ira Gabrielson resigned as the first Director of the new U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to accept the position of President of the nonprofit Wildlife Management Institute (WMI). The manufacturers and service providers who had depended on Uncle Sam buying their products during four years of war, now realized they had to create a vast new market for their products.

They became major financial supporters of the WMI and Ira Gabrielson returned the favor by directing WMI staff studies of the organization, authorities and programs of 31 state and two Canadian game agencies. Was it just a coincidence that the widespread WMI recommendations said excessive populations of game were destroying the habitat in remote areas, and non-resident hunters must be invited to harvest the surplus animals?

State Game Warden Expresses Concerns

In Idaho’s Twenty-First Biennial Report, the State Game Warden cited a 100% increase in non-resident hunters just from 1945-46 and warned that our big game is limited and expendable. He wrote: “The nation has had the greatest sales program for hunting that so far has been experienced. Resorts, dude ranches, airlines, railroads, sporting arms manufacturers, sporting magazines, and many other concerns have used game popularity in their advertising. Game and fish are definite attractions meriting public enthusiasm, but it is time to give some thought to how long we can meet the increasing demand.”

Now fast forward to 1970. After involving powerful international organizations, that he helped create and fund, in North American game management, Gabrielson retired as WMI President to head up its Board of Directors. He was replaced by Daniel Poole who, in his 1973 annual WMI workshop, criticized biologists for their failure to sell their “management” programs to the public.

The North American Wildlife Policy of 1973

Then Poole introduced Wolf Professor Durward Allen to present the “North American Wildlife Policy of 1973.” The New Policy emphasized the protection of all predators by either giving them game status or by prohibiting “indiscriminate” predator control.

In addition to outlawing predator bounties, and the use of poison except in emergencies such as a rabies epidemic, the 1973 Policy refused to recognize the need for predator control to benefit populations of game. Instead, it stressed the need to provide prey species to feed the predators which, it said, have high esthetic values.

Now fast forward 23 more years to the Idaho Deer and Elk Teams supposedly formed to halt declines in deer and elk populations and hunter harvests. On June 24, 1996, when Upper Snake Regional Biologist Ted Chu said one of the purposes in their Mission Statement was, “To provide elk and deer to feed bears and other large predators,” it was endorsed unanimously by all of the Team Biologists.

But when sportsman Elk Team Member Bill Chetwood suggested providing elk and deer for hunters to harvest (per I.C. Sec 36-103), none of the IDFG Biologists agreed and Facilitator John Gahl stated: “We’re not going to use anything that’s in the law as part of our Vision Statement or our Mission Statement.”

In the preceding 58 Outdoorsman Bulletins I’ve provided numerous examples of biologists’ refusal to control predators to protect and perpetuate game species. For a period of several years during the 1970s, desperate biologists even blamed families that vacationed together and harvested healthy wild game for the freezer for the lack of game caused by the biologists’ continued adherence to the WMI 1973 Wildlife Policy.

Hunting in Idaho Has Become a Sport for the Wealthy; Nearly Half of Households Can’t Afford Licenses, Tags

In their “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Reflections From a Non-Hunter” presentation to the Wildlife Management Institute Annual Workshop in Phoenix in 2008, and to the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society meeting in Moscow in 2009, IDFG employees Michele Beucler and Gregg Servheen presented the following 2007 survey results:

Hunter retention rates declined sharply in the nearly half of Idaho households with annual incomes of $40,000 or less.

Zero decline in hunter retention of individuals from households with $100,000 or more annual income.

Instead of charging the hunter and fisherman the $11 in 1969 license and tag fees plus just the inflation since then (a 2007 grand total of $62.15), and using all of that money to manage our wild game and fish resource, he or she is now charged nearly three to four times that much* to hunt the same wild game species – but with even lower populations and harvests. (* depending on whether a $124.25 sportsmen’s package is purchased initially or more expensive licenses and tags are purchased separately)

Then the extra millions of dollars are robbed from license fees and used to help support the dozens of former “nongame” biologists on the Fish and Game payroll who refuse to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage our wild game as the law requires.

Instead of bragging about the travesty of so-called wolf recovery, they should be held accountable for feeding Idaho’s endangered Selkirk caribou to bears, mountain lions and wolves and for introducing multiple diseases into Idaho wildlife where there is no evidence they ever existed in or were spread by Idaho’s wild animals before.

The Compass Guaranteed Non-game “Management” Would Remain IDFG’s Number One Priority

In 2000, after 10 years of changing all state game agencies’ top priority from hunting and fishing to non-game activities, the [International] Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (later shortened to AFWA) used new Idaho F&G Director Rod Sando to implement “The Compass” – a 15-year Management Plan to make that change permanent.

During a 2001 Commission meeting, Natural Resource Policy Bureau Director Tracey Trent introduced Michele Beucler to the Commissioners. She gave them a presentation claiming that 85% of Idaho citizens supported increased emphasis on non-hunting/fishing as outlined in The Compass, while only a few “Utilitarians” supported only hunting and fishing and a few “Greens” did not support either.

Conspiracy to Get Hunters to Approve “The Compass”

Although Commissioners Nancy Hadley, Gary Power and John Watts supported The Compass, the other four Commissioners did not. Watts made a motion for outgoing Chairman Hadley to appoint two or three Commissioners to help Deputy Director Mansfield and Tracey Trent “tweak” The Compass to make it more acceptable to license buyers.

The motion passed and Hadley appointed Power and Watts and gave them instructions to make the necessary changes and get it back to her before her term as Chairman expired. On Dec. 23, 2004, with assistance from Mansfield and the two Commissioners, Tracey Trent changed the Funding and other portions of the controversial document, “The Compass,” in order to get license-buying sportsmen’s approval for the full Commission to pass it as follows:

“Page 8 – Funding
The Department’s main funding source comes from one segment of the population – hunters and anglers – primarily through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. This money has been – and will continue to be – used to manage fish and wildlife for hunting and fishing.

The Department will not use hunting and fishing license fees to meet all the desires of the public, other agencies and local governments for managing fish, wildlife and native plants.” (emphasis added)

“Page 10 – Objective
Maintain or improve game populations to meet the demand for hunting, fishing, and trapping.
? Manage predation to achieve a balance between game and predator populations.
? Collaborate with tribes, private landowners, and agencies to manage populations and harvest for long-term sustainability.

“Page 17 – Objective
Improve funding to meet legal mandates and public expectations.
? Continue to use revenue generated by hunters, anglers, and trappers for programs that benefit hunting, fishing, and trapping.”

The stipulations on Pages 8 and 17 that revenue generated by hunters, anglers and trappers would be used for programs that benefit hunting fishing and trapping are uniform and understandable.

Yet 2-1/2 years later, on July 3, 2007, F&G Commission Vice Chairman Wayne Wright, and IDFG Director Cal Groen told an ad hoc Legislative funding committee that Nongame funding provided only 25% of the money F&G was spending on non-game, and the rest was being taken from sportsmen license fee funding of law enforcement, fish stocking and other hunting and fishing programs. Then Director Groen candidly admitted this had been going on for the previous 15 years.

The license fee and predator-prey balance promises written into “The Compass” were not worth the paper they were printed on. The obvious solution was to stop stealing sportsmen’s license fees and reduce their license, tag and permit costs by at least 50% so the less affluent families could continue to hunt and fish. But that was not what Beucler had in mind.

Not long after the F&G officials confessed they had been robbing the excessive license fees – which forced lower income families to give up hunting – Beucler was recommending to The Wildlife Management Institute and the Wildlife Society that they recruit non-sportsmen to replace the license buyers who were being forced out of hunting by excessive costs and lack of game to harvest.

In 2010, as the new President of the Organization of Wildlife Planners, Beucler wrote an article titled, “The Death of Wildlife Management?” in which she proposed an end to wildlife management that benefits hunters and fishermen. She wrote, “Hunting and fishing will remain important threads of the American Tapestry regardless of how many people participate,” and cited false figures to claim that the percentage of licensed hunters and fishermen was already declining rapidly.

That, of course, proved to be another lie when the national survey showed an increase of 9% for hunters and 10% for combined hunters and fishermen. Yet she recently worked closely with Director Moore to have the Management Assistance Team teach IDFG employees to prepare for changes that reduce the number of hunters.

Legislative Investigation That Was Never Completed

The January 2009 Outdoorsman No. 32 published the unlawful use of $231,338 in P-R/D-J funds by just two IDFG Bureaus in FY 2008. An Idaho Legislator contacted me at the beginning of the 2010 session and said the Legislature was investigating F&G’s illegal use of Federal Excise Tax funds as a match for nongame/endangered species projects, and asked for additional proof.

I obtained and photocopied public documents that showed the illegal use of $427,534.00 in sportsman excise tax dollars in FY 2008 to match nongame and endangered species funding. In the June-Aug 2010 Outdoorsman No. 40, I published photocopies of these documents and described how alarmed Director Groen and Deputy Unsworth became when I requested additional information, and how they destroyed the original documents to hide their misuse of the P/R and D/J funds.

During the 2011 Legislative session I asked how the investigation was progressing but I’ve never received an answer.

Fee Increases since 1969 Nearly Triple Inflation Cost In order to understand what has happened since 1969, please study the following chart carefully, including the footnotes and the few comments. Once you understand what has happened, you will realize what must be done.


Except for a handful of game preserves with limited elk hunting, from 1966-1970 my wife and I and our older sons could each hunt and fish in any open season in Idaho for everything except trophy species for $11. It cost only $8 for my wife and sons who normally didn’t hunt elk, but if they chose to kill a second deer in limited units, they could by paying another $2.

When Joe Greenley was rebuilding Idaho’s wild game and fish populations during the 1970s, changing license & tag fees from $11 to about the $21.76 Consumer Price Index Cost of Living increase in 1979 was proper. But charging hunters to hunt lions and bears which had formerly cost nothing was not.

And giving muzzleloader and longbow hunters special early and late seasons when the game was far more vulnerable, and charging them extra money for that special privilege harvest opportunity established a bad precedent.

When Jerry Conley replaced Greenley for the next 15 years, and then a growing list of subsequent Directors replaced each other, Game Biologists threw science out the window and began creating all manner of bonus special privilege hunts/seasons requiring special weapons permits and/or drawings with a limited number of permits awarded.

Abundant Game Numbers = Abundant Nongame

For the first half of the 20th Century when so-called sport hunters and dedicated game wardens restored the game species that had been decimated by a small number of market hunters, everyone saw an abundance of non-game. It wasn’t until excessive game harvesting combined with refusal to maintain a healthy ratio of game to its predators, that declines in both game and non-game species became evident.

But instead of restoring that healthy balance, biologists continued to increase the hunting and fishing fees, but use the extra money in a futile attempt to rebuild nongame numbers by manipulating habitat.

Brave Commission Action Does Not End Corruption The ray of hope in all of this was when the F&G

Commission forced Deputy Director Jim Unsworth to seek employment elsewhere, and forced Director Moore to tell his employees to stop “stirring the pot” and obey the law to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage Idaho’s wild game and wild fish for hunters, fishermen and trappers to harvest (see Aug-Oct 2014 Outdoorsman No. 57).

I have provided all of the foregoing information to try to make the reader understand that these two corrective actions by the Idaho Commission were still not enough to dismantle the corrupt system that is dedicated to destroying our heritage of hunting (i.e. for all but the few wealthy individuals who may continue to support it).

The Commission’s next opportunity to restore IDFG’s lawful mandate to manage wild game and fish for hunting, fishing and trapping began as Agenda Item 13 in the May 20, 2015 Commission meeting in Lewiston. It is the process of re-writing the State Wildlife Action plan for another 10 years and Sagle resident Ed Lindahl recommended adding a statement describing the Department’s first priority as “providing surpluses of wild game and fish for those who hunt, fish and trap in Idaho.”

In March of 2004 when Rita Dixon gave her presentation about the federal grant money her group had already received to prepare Idaho’s first State Wildlife Action Plan, Commissioner John Burns asked her if any sportsman license dollars would be used. She responded that the matching funding had already been secured but failed to answer his question or mention the alleged source(s) or amounts of the alleged matching funds.

In the Lewiston Commission meeting on May 20, 2015, she bragged to the Commissioners about the millions of dollars in matching funds her nongame group has received to match the dollars it has received from the feds.

But what she failed to tell Burns in 2004 or the Commission in May 2015 was how much of that matching money has been stolen from license fees and excise taxes paid by Idaho sportsmen – a deliberate violation of the Congressional legislation that created the grants.

Despite all of the gimmicks (from “chipmunk” donations to specialty license plates) only a tiny handful of nongame supporters are willing to donate any money for their special privilege wildlife viewing areas, etc. Managing nongame endangered wildlife is NOT a function of a GAME Department and should be transferred to the Governors Office of Species Conservation – the Idaho agency that is legally mandated to handle them.

If you understand the chart comparing the radically increased fees charged to sport hunters and anglers with what they should be charged according to the Consumer Price Index, you must realize that state game management agencies are being destroyed from within by nongame and non-hunting activists posing as biologists.

Do not be deceived by their false claims that this expensive program was forced on them by the federal govt. Remember it was non-hunting activists posing as Idaho & Montana biologists who allowed wolf introduction.

Until we stop letting the non-governmental groups from the Washington, D.C. beltway and the MAT training center in West Virginia dictate what we manage and how we manage it, our Constitutional right to hunt, fish and trap will continue to be destroyed.

If enough concerned sportsmen from each state would take the time to write their elected representatives in Congress and ask them to stop voting to appropriate funding for the State Wildlife Grants, it could restore our hunting and fishing heritage. Why not give it a try?

More Research Supporting Fact No. 1

Dr. Val Geist’s study conclusion of wolves’ return to Vancouver Island resulted in the annual black-tailed deer harvest declining from about 25,000 to only 3,000.

The same scenario that has occurred with wolves in Idaho played out in Southern Alberta about 15 years earlier when the northern wolves repopulated SW Alberta. Initially they found abundant prey, but Canadian researcher Mark Hebblewhite spent 10 years documenting the destruction of the area’s big game herds by wolves in the Banff ecosystem.

He recorded a 90% decline in elk numbers, slightly less in moose populations, and extinction of several caribou herds. And after half a century of research involving Canadian wolves, Tom Bergerud’s undisputed conclusions that uncontrolled wolves destroy herd after herd of woodland caribou, are accepted even by those who advocate keeping big game herds in a predator pit.

To learn why Dr. Charles Kay insists Isle Royale Research is not appropriate; to read the claim that moose were originally transported by train and boat to Isle Royale; and to read Fact #2 – Why Wolves Cannot Exist near Human Settlements, don’t miss “The Outdoorsman No. 60.”


Idaho Fish and Game Commission Directs Agency to Return to Citizen Mandated Consumptive Wildlife Management

IDFGLogo2*Editor’s Note* – George Dovel, editor of The Outdoorsman, is the master of truthful, accurate reporting/journalism of Idaho’s outdoors. With his life-long pride of accuracy and substantiation of information made available to the public, his reputation cannot be outdone by anyone. It is for this reason, “someone” sought out Mr. Dovel in order to allow him to break to the public this news, that, quite frankly, still has me baffled.

I am deeply humbled that Mr. Dovel has provided to me his story with a request to publish it beyond The Outdoorsman and offer my own comments. He writes: “I’m emailing this to [you] now and I hope you publish it with whatever comments you may choose.”

I had not seriously thought such an action as is described below was possible. In addition to remaining the perpetual skeptic that I was born to be, this action to return Idaho’s fish and game management to what it was voted to be in 1938 by the citizens of Idaho and reinforced in 2012 with a constitutional amendment to protect hunting, trapping and fishing, I cannot believe that this effort will not go unmolested by those, I am sure, who must be boiling with anger inside.

While not a cure all, and is sure to have little effect on the mass movement to “create new knowledge” and “change the way we discuss wildlife management,” which is the foundation of the destruction of real, scientific wildlife management, what an incredible bright spot, in consideration of the bravery of those Idaho commissioners, and seemingly IDFG’s Director Virgil Moore, that the windfall of brainwashed paradigm-shifted, nonsense being perpetuated by agenda-driven environmentalists, hasn’t completely taken over everyone’s minds.

What has, at least since wolf (re)introduction, been the co-option of normal fish and game management by post normal science management into Idaho’s Fish and Game Department, we can certainly expect real opposition to this effort and creative ways to destroy what has now been started.

George Dovel has written for years that IDFG did not have the right to rewrite or make up how they wanted to operate as a government wildlife management agency. I have read so many times his words, they are burned into my brain – “IDFG has to get approval from the Legislature” to alter management of wildlife.

It is not mere coincidence that we are now seeing Dovel’s efforts pay off.

If for no other reason, please, please, please, subscribe to The Outdoorsman and/or make a donation so that this valuable resource will never be lost. It costs lots of money to create and publish this work and it can’t be done by one man and his meager resources. Please click on the link to the right of this page, print out a subscription form and help support this valuable cause. Thank you!

The NEW Idaho Fish and Game Agenda
Please Read This Carefully and Save It
By George Dovel

(NOTE: In March of 2004, I quit working within the system as Gov. Phil Batt had recommended nine years earlier, and began publishing this new version of The Outdoorsman. Thirty years earlier when we halted the original paid publication, it had accomplished its goal and a new Fish and Game Director, with help from thousands of hunters and their legislators, demanded a return to honesty and scientifically managed game populations.

The following emails forwarded from Commission Chairman Fred Trevey to former F&G Commissioner Tony McDermott last month, prove what can happen when Fish and Game Commissioners with courage and integrity are provided the facts they need to do their job: – ED)

Subject: FW: The Contact-September 2014
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2014 16:30:17 +0000

Tony–FOR YOUR INFORMATION. Below are my comments to our sportsman’s coffee last week and the communication to all employees we asked Virgil to send out. The message is clear—we are in the fishing, hunting and trapping business. I’ll send you some more info stuff later as we dial in direction that reflects the commission’s expectations.

–LAP will remain unchanged (brief background) –Focus on Mission–75th anniversary
75 years ago, the Fish & Game Mission was set by citizen initiative in 1938. It is set forth in Idaho Code 36-103 (a) “Wildlife Policy. All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”

This mission statement provides a clear and definitive statement directing the conservation of all of Idaho’s wildlife and also equally clear direction to manage wildlife for “continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping”.

The majority of Idahoan’s values relative to wildlife have remained essentially unchanged over the past 75 years.
The initiative creating the mission was approved by 76% of voters in 1938 and the Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt, fish and trap passed by 75% in 2012. Further, the amendment highlights the preferred method of managing Idaho’s wildlife populations is regulated hunting, fishing and trapping.

However, today there is a small group of folks that do not believe in consumptive use of wildlife and would prefer management that permits a “let nature to take its course” philosophy. They especially disagree with predator management.

The Commission firmly disagrees with this philosophy.

Our current economic model of funding based predominantly on hunter and angler user fees has long served us well and it is the main reason wildlife populations recovered after market hunting nearly wiped out big game early in the 20th century.

From time to time in the life of any organization it is important to step back and take stock of how well the organization is holding true to its mission.

Given the pressures the Commission experiences that seek to change or at least adopt modifications to the basic mission, (which by the way we have no authority to do—only the legislature can and I very much doubt that will happen any time soon) we decided to ask the Director to help us reconfirm the Department’s dedication to the basic mission and focus Department personnel on managing our fish and wildlife resources, using scientific principles, for PEOPLE as job number one. It has been proven through the years that if this job is done well, then all wildlife benefits, thereby satisfying both consumptive and non-consumptive desires. Sportsmen need to be proud of their support and accomplishment through the years.

This week the Director will provide direction to all Department personnel concerning the expectations outlined in the 1938 Mission statement. And, that the Department’s primary role and responsibility is to manage fish and wildlife for people to have the opportunity to continue to enjoy hunting, fishing and trapping.

From: Moore,Virgil Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 1:20 PM Subject: The Contact-September 2014
Idaho Fish and Game Director’s Newsletter September 2014 From the Director’s Office [Director Virgil Moore]

Director Responds to Confluence Café Report

I have reviewed the Confluence Café report from the 2014 ISTS and I promised to share my perspectives about the input provided, and how I intend to put it to use. The theme of ISTS this year was to focus on Fish and Game’s financial state (“Are we in business?”) and an evaluation of our budgeted activities (“What business are we in?”). I focused on the results that are related to the Idaho Fish and Game mission from Round 4 of the Café that asked the questions: What most needs our collective focused attention and what will this require? and Suggested Actions of the Café as information for IFG leadership to use as it rolls up the collective thinking of IFG staff to strategically position programs and revenue. Information about our financial state and internal communication actions from this Café exercise will be a separate communication coming out soon.

We structured the ISTS to provide you with an overview of, and refresher about the Idaho Fish and Game mission, our public trust responsibilities, including hearing from trustees (Commissioners and legislators) and beneficiaries (hunters, anglers and various publics) so we as managers would better understand our legal responsibilities to this public trust. I believe the speaker panels illustrated the challenges we face in meeting those responsibilities. While I am committed to using many of the suggestions you collectively identified in the Café document to help all of us be a more effective management team, there are several key themes in the Café report that I will not take any action on. These are specifically related to our mission, agency name and use of general tax funds. Some examples from the Café summary are:

· The role of the Department is to provide wildlife opportunities (e.g. harvest, viewing) to the public. This broader view is inconsistent with the current funding model. · The scope of Fish & Game services goes beyond sport activities. The Department’s name and brand should reflect the breadth of its services.

· Change the name of the Department to better reflect its mission (the mission is beyond “fish and game”).

· Modify the mission statement to explicitly include management of wildlife habitat (not just wildlife), and recognition of the intrinsic values and non-consumptive uses of fish and wildlife.

· Get general funding or sales tax for non-game and plant habitat work.

My message to all of you about our name and Mission is simple and hopefully crystal clear – I do not support any actions that recommend a change in the Fish and Game name, Mission, components of our logo or moving away from the user pay/user benefit funding model as our dominant revenue stream to the Fish and Game budgets.

The Fish and Game Mission and name were set by citizen initiative in 1938, gaining approval of 76% of the voters. The Mission Statement therefore belongs to the public and it is not within agency or commission purview to change. The Mission not only includes a clear and definitive statement directing the conservation (preserve, protect, perpetuate) of all of Idaho’s wildlife, but provides clear direction to manage wildlife for “continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping”. The Mission was further reinforced by the overwhelming support (75% of voters) for the 2012 constitutional amendment that preserves the public’s right to hunt, fish and trap and states this is the preferred method of managing Idaho’s wildlife populations via regulated hunting, fishing and trapping.

In this day and age of polarization on many issues with narrow margins, the overwhelming support for hunting, fishing and trapping gives the conservation and management message of the Idaho Fish and Game mission strong contemporary support. This continues to help us as an agency in meeting the vast majority of our public’s expectations. We are a public trust management agency providing benefits to Idahoans with a specific direction to preserve, protect and perpetuate (i.e. conserve) and once that is done, our paramount role is to provide for continued supplies for hunting, fishing, and trapping; harvest of wildlife is implicit in the Mission statement.

Idaho Fish and Game, both the agency and Commission, continues to garner one of the highest levels of positive public opinion relative to other entities dealing with the conservation of Idaho’s natural resources, well over 70% in a 2013 poll. I believe this is due to the work all of us have done, and collectively do, for the beneficiaries of that public trust – Idaho citizens. Our current economic model of funding based predominantly on hunter and angler user fees for Fish and Game’s management activities has long been a key and successful aspect of the North American Model of Wildlife Management in Idaho – the most successful approach to wildlife conservation ever taken on a large scale in the world.

So, coming from this perspective, quite frankly I was troubled by a number of outcomes from Confluence Café exercise focused on these issues. The café was intended to provide a venue for folks to give input to our agency leadership about the important conservation and management work we do for Idahoans as the managers of this public trust. By and large I believe we missed that mark by failing to consider our role is as the manager of Idaho’s wildlife public trust. Clearly we are in business and our “business” is the effective conservation (preserve, protect, perpetuate) and stewardship (management) of Idaho’s wildlife, providing benefits for hunting, fishing, and trapping that come with healthy and secure wildlife populations.

The Commission (via Governor appointment) and the legislature are the trustees of the public’s wildlife. The Commission’s role is to provide the public, as the trust beneficiaries, with sustainable use of that trust. As fish and wildlife (trust) managers, we have to be responsible to our legal role to advise the trustees, ascertain what constitutes sustainability, and determine to the best of our ability what kind of trust output the public (beneficiaries) desires (see ISTS Public Trust Doctrine presentation While we all care deeply about the agency and have invested some or most of our professional lives to it, it does not make it ours. It’s the people’s agency. In my view, our highest priority role is to effectively communicate with both beneficiaries and trustees on what constitutes stewardship, and to do so with a strong scientific foundation. Once the Commission or legislature makes a decision, our role is to implement it effectively. We have an exceptionally talented and highly trained work force, and that is what we are hired to do.

To sum this up, the Department’s primary role and responsibility is to manage wildlife for people. We all know our mission is broad, and it includes all wildlife – but managing fish and wildlife for people is what we are charged to do and we need to make sure that continues to be done, and done well. As an agency, we have been exceptionally successful under the guidance of our Mission statement that all wildlife of Idaho “…shall be preserved, protected and perpetuated and managed”. Indeed, Idaho’s wildlife resources are world class, both in terms of diversity and representation of species, and in terms of the opportunities and experiences it affords Idahoans and our guests. That’s testimony to the work you do, and the work of our predecessors, adapting to changing times and societal demands as we implement the North American Model of Wildlife Management. Our success is a large part of what makes Idaho such a special place to hunt, fish and generally enjoy wildlife. A success predominately supported by the people who are hunters and anglers and carried out by you, as Fish and Game staff, who are the best and most dedicated professionals anywhere.

For my 37 years with Idaho Fish and Game, our Mission statement has been the single most important guide to me in all aspects of my activities as a fishery and wildlife management professional. It is the rock I come back to relative to who we are and what we do for the public we serve, and I refer to it regularly. Please take a few minutes to do the same, and use it to guide your daily activities as we strive to make Idaho a better place for fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers, and all of the citizens who benefit from this incredible resource.

Virgil Moore, Director

(NOTE: Director Moore enclosed a copy of the 1938 mission statement declared to be Idaho Wildlife Policy as I.C. Sec. 36-103. That mission statement is strongly reinforced in its last sentence which states, “The commission is not authorized to change such policy but only to administer it.”

My wife and I wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners and to all who have made this first important step possible. We still need and sincerely appreciate your donations to help support the vital information we provide and distribute. – ED)


The Outdoorsman Book Review: The Real Wolf

*Editor’s Note* – The below article appears in the Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 54, Oct.-Dec. 2013. It is republished here with express permission from the author. Please honor the protection of intellectual property and copyright. The Outdoorsman is the leading publication of truth concerning outdoor issues. To the right on this webpage is a link to follow in which readers are encouraged to subscribe to the print publication. Money is necessary for the continued publication of this important work. Thank you.

The Real Wolf
The Science, Politics and Economics of Co-Existing with Wolves in Modern Times
Book Review by George Dovel

When Will Graves asked me if I would consider writing a chapter for The Real Wolf, which he co-authored along with Ted Lyon, my first reaction was that it would be a wonderful opportunity to provide factual information to countless people who have been bombarded with fairy tales about living with wolves.

But after learning the names of several bona fide experts from various fields who, like Graves, had already agreed to provide their facts, I felt that anything I added to the book would be coming from a researcher rather than an expert.

In late November of 2013, Ted Lyon sent me a manuscript of The Real Wolf and asked me to write a review in The Outdoorsman. When I took the time to read the manuscript thoroughly, I was amazed by the straightforward collection of facts presented without anger, apology or attempts at political correctness.

I agree with comments by Tom Remington in his “Foreword” that The Real Wolf is loaded with resources from several of the most renowned scientists, researchers, investigators, and historians the world has to offer. I also share Tom’s confidence that this book is destined to become the encyclopedia of wolf facts for readers who have never had the opportunity to read the whole truth.

Ted Lyon Did Not Believe Horror Stories at First

After briefly sharing his outstanding 37-year career as an attorney representing clients in more then 150 jury trials, Lyon said he always relied on the truth. Then he confided that he did not fully believe the horror stories he kept hearing about wolves until after he bought a second home in Montana and experienced that reality himself.

His background as an avid hunter, including a period long ago as an outfitter and guide, probably influenced the amount of time he spent researching and verifying the information he has collected. The fact that he reported FWS biologists providing false information about wolves, and later, state biologists in Idaho and Montana lying to support what FWS said, reflects his intent to report all of the facts.

The Real Wolf also includes documentation by experts other than scientists of frequent radical changes in what was considered the legitimate wolf species to be protected. For example, Jim and Cat Urbigkit documented the existence of the original Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf, Canus lupus irremotus, on their sheep range in Wyoming before the larger Canadian wolves were introduced.

Cat Urbigkit reminds us that they presented their information through the courts, and Federal Judge William Downes finally ruled that introduction of Canadian wolves was illegal. He also ordered immediate removal of all Canadian wolves that had been introduced two years earlier, along with their offspring.

But several days later he put a stay on the removal order until it was appealed. And several months later the new court held that FWS had authority to change the subspecies that was being preserved, and the charade continued.

Chapters by Arizona’s Laura Schneberger and Catron County New Mexico Wildlife Investigator Jess Carey are vital to explain why wolves that are crossbred with dogs and raised in captivity represent a special threat to livestock and humans. The calculated non-reimbursed losses for livestock in both locations should end efforts to continue the wolf transplants – but they haven’t.


On November 1, 2013, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wrote the “Epilogue” to The Real Wolf. Part of that document follows:

“There have been few issues during my 40 years in public life that have provoked the raw passions of so many people from around the world as the debate over wolves. I was deluged with some of the nastiest, most disparaging, and truly hateful letters, emails and phone calls from well-meaning but badly misinformed folks, who saw wolves only as big beautiful dogs harmlessly pursuing their majestic lives in the trackless wild. Wolves are an essential and misunderstood part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem, many argued, and we owe it to our Western heritage to enable wolves to once again roam freely in the Idaho wilderness.

“The problem is that wolves don’t stay put. Their enormous range, high reproductive rate and insatiable hunger for ungulates inevitably draw them out of the woods to interface with man. As their numbers spiraled far beyond expectations, so did the conflicts, and so did my determination to manage wolves as we do any other species – with an eye toward the bigger picture of a balanced ecosystem that includes man.

“I’m grateful to Ted and the many good people who feel a strong affinity for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the other states where wolves were another government-imposed challenge to overcome. It was a problem created by “conservationists” who speak floridly about the primal necessity of having wolves in our midst, but for whom the real goal is raising money and disrupting or shutting down such traditional multiple uses of public lands as grazing, logging, mining, and especially hunting. It was a problem created by “conservationists” who consistently move the recovery targets, forum-shopped for
a sympathetic judge, collected millions of taxpayer dollars to pay their lawyers, and looked for any opportunity to abandon their commitment to pay for our ranchers’ losses to wolves released in Idaho.

“Ted, and many others who recognize that reality, fought tough odds to turn the tide on the wolf issue. Now Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are managing wolves – wolves that never should have been here in the first place. But since they are, the happy ending to this story is that the people most affected by their presence now are managing them in a way that’s far more balanced and reflective of the realities of today’s West. They will never be “our wolves,” but at least now we have a primary role in controlling their population and impacts.

“It’s my sincere hope that The Real Wolf will help open some eyes to the bigger problems with the Endangered Species Act – a once well-intentioned but incredibly flawed law that undermines the real interests and values of conservation by placing the well-being of humans and their livelihoods far down the food chain.”

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter
November 1, 2013
(NOTE: The Epilogue that Governor Otter has supplied tells it ‘like’ it is in my opinion. Yet I remain concerned at his repeating our Fish and Game biologists’ standard phrase that they intend to manage wolves as we do any

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other species. I’ve been very close to this for a lot of years and I know of no place in the world that has ever been able to manage wolves as our wildlife managers do with other species.

When the ratio of wolves to elk – their primary prey species in Idaho – got higher than it is in any other place in North America, we needed to lethally remove at least 75%-80% of the wolves in those high density areas. Maintaining very few, if any, wolves for five years until recovery occurred was essential.

But now that our primary elk populations are in a predator pit from which they cannot recover, and wolves soon find them and drive them down each time they produce a few calves, we must initiate really aggressive control until elk numbers have reached the desired goal in each depleted area.
I am pleased that Gov. Otter has taken this step which will allow recovery IF he selects the proper individuals with the sole motive to lethally remove wolves with all of the tools at their disposal until our elk and deer populations have recovered.

I believe anything else would be a serious mistake at this point in time. – ED)

Dear hunter,

No matter what state you live in, I urge you to visit – then read about The Real Wolf and order at least one copy.

The price is $21 for the Soft Cover or $30 for the Hard Cover and I know of no book of this quality for sale anywhere near this low price. Once you have had the opportunity to read it, I urge you to get a copy into the hands of your resource committee members, or at the very least, to the state legislators who represent you.

Thank you,
George Dovel


Fish & Game is Decimating Our Natural Resources!

By George Dovel

*Editor’s Note* – The below article appears in the Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 54, Oct.-Dec. 2013. It is republished here with express permission from the author. Please honor the protection of intellectual property and copyright. The Outdoorsman is the leading publication of truth concerning outdoor issues. To the right on this webpage is a link to follow in which readers are encouraged to subscribe to the print publication. Money is necessary for the continued publication of this important work. Thank you.


F&G is Decimating Our Natural Resources!
By George Dovel

The photo at right[above] was taken about 1895 by A. G. Wallahan of his wife Augusta (“Gusty”) posing with one of the numerous large buck mule deer she reportedly killed over the years. The single shot Remington-Hepburn rifle she is posing with is a far cry from the scope-sighted bolt action repeaters in use today but this didn’t seem to deter her from getting her share of bucks.

I downloaded the photo titled: ‘Augusta Wallahan Grocery Shopping’ from the Jan. 5, 2014 issue of Crittter News, but was unable to trace it back to its original source for further details.
About five years after this photo was taken, Idaho shortened antelope, deer, mountain goat and bighorn sheep seasons and set each bag limit at four animals per year. The elk season was three months long with a two elk bag limit.

By 1945, almost all Idaho big game seasons ran 37 days from Oct. 5 – Nov. 10, with Chamberlain Basin opening 10 days earlier. A bag limit of one elk, where allowed, and one deer existed, except on the Middle Fork of the Salmon where taking two deer was legal.

IDFG Hired First Biologists in 1938

In 1938 when Idaho Wildlife Policy was adopted and five Commissioners were appointed to assure that the policy was followed, the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game had 73 employees. There were 11 headquarters personnel, 38 game wardens, 20 fish hatchery personnel, and four “technicians” who were hired to think of ways to take advantage of the new Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by hunters.
Hunters in every state were enthusiastic about taking control of their state fish and game agency from some local politicians who wanted to use license funds for their own pet projects. The chance to receive an additional $3 in excise taxes for every dollar they spent for restoration of wildlife sounded almost too good to be true.

But state game wardens who had spent 40 years rebuilding game populations using tools like controlling excessive ratios of predators to prey, soon realized there were strings attached to the extra “federal” dollars. The Wildlife Management Institute, funded partly by arms and ammunition manufacturers, conducted a “study” of wildlife management in our Western states and insisted they invite non residents to harvest their “excessive” game herds.

The arms and outdoor equipment manufacturers and related industries conducted a massive ad campaign, inducing sportsmen to travel to the remote areas in the western states and take trophy bull elk and buck mule deer, and catch monster trout from “pristine” streams.

Empire Building by Fish and Game

In 1938 IDFG employees trapped and sold pelts of predators and other furbearers and found other ways to support their nearly $300,000 annual budget. Although elk populations in some of the rural areas had not reached capacity, they were abundant in back country areas and mule deer populations had already reached record highs in locations like the South Fork of the Payette River.

If IDFG operations had remained the same fifty years later in 1988, the rate of inflation based on the consumer price index would have increased the budget to $2,517,021. Instead, biologists had taken control of the agency and the 1988 actual expenditures increased to $24,674,500 – 9.8 times the 1938 cost and total inflation!

And eight years later when F&G Director Conley was finally forced to resign, actual IDFG expenditures were $45,258,200 – 13.6 times the base plus $3,333,298 inflation since 1938! For the second time since the late 1940s, biologists had oversold hunter harvest of healthy game herds that had taken many years to rebuild.

In addition to large payments received from both federal and private dam builders to compensate IDFG for flooding big game winter range with their reservoirs, biologists had learned they could also get more money from hunters by making them enter a lottery to draw limited chances to hunt once game became scarce.

Not only were new fisheries created in the reservoirs, but the mitigation money was not used to improve the remaining winter range for big game and other wildlife. The 1990 change in priorities from sustaining annual game harvests to emphasizing non-consumptive use of wildlife was a major reason for this, and also made it even easier to convince hunters to enter a lottery for a better chance to kill scarce game.

Limiting Hunters Is Not Managing Wildlife

It is almost impossible to find a hunter now who has not accepted thousands of hunters drawing for a limited number of controlled hunt permits as a valid tool for managing wildlife. But with the exception of protected wild game that has never been hunted, or where there is not a huntable population, selling chances to draw a limited number of permits is simply a greedy scheme used to increase F&G income from thousands of hunters, while only a handful get to hunt the scarce game.

When game was managed properly, most resident hunters hunted year after year in the same area fairly close to home. But because unguided nonresidents generally head for spots with the highest reported harvests, successful states, including Wyoming, generally limited the number of nonresidents hunting elk in each region to prevent hunter overcrowding.

Older hunters, who remember Idaho’s fantastic general season deer and elk hunting lasting several decades, also remember that biologists expanded the 37-day either-sex elk or deer seasons to 3 months to include hunting during the rut and on winter range. By 1970, this had decimated both elk and mule deer populations.

They also remember the 1970s cure, which included reducing the number of predators, reducing season lengths, and eliminating hunting in the rut and female harvest until the herds had recovered. But even they do not realize that IDFG biologists added nearly 40,000 elk or deer permits on top of general and special weapons seasons in 1996 shortly before Conley resigned.

It is very difficult for most Idaho hunters to accept the reality that their Fish and Game Department biologists stopped managing Idaho’s wild game 20 years ago and have been misleading the hunters who pay their wages ever since. That is especially confusing because IDFG does sort of manage sterile “catchable” non-native trout hybrids and warm water species released in streams or artificial ponds, as well as “put-and-take” pheasants on WMAs.

In other words, they are competing unfairly with commercial shooting and fishing preserves, while making hunters and fishermen subsidize the expenses. But they are letting nature and predators decimate our native wild game.

Pretending that setting hunting seasons and bag limits is the only tool used to manage wild game is like trying to sit on a three-legged milk stool with two of the legs removed. Adding a second leg (habitat improvement) without the third leg (maintaining a healthy predator-to-prey ratio) is simply a waste of time and money.

Governors Deceived About Wildlife Corridors

In February 2007, The Western Governors Assn. (WGA) unanimously approved Policy Resolution 07-01, Protecting Wildlife Migration Corridors and Crucial Wildlife Habitat in the West.” It did this after being assured in written pamphlets that the system would protect the states’ annual income from hunters, fishermen campers and wildlife watchers, and that the “corridors” it referred to were migration corridors between summer and winter range – not the Wildlife Corridors promoted by the “Wildlands Initiative” and “Spine of the Continent.”

Yet six months later, Gregg Servheen sent a letter to NorthWestern Energy outlining 18 broad requirements for a proposed electrical transmission line. These included determining “effects on large carnivore (grizzly bear, wolf, wolverine) populations and habitats, including linkage corridors and genetic interchange, between Yellowstone Ecosystem and Central Idaho Wilderness areas.”

And absolutely nothing was done to protect the states’ annual income from hunters, fishermen, etc. Their assurances to the governors weren’t worth the paper they were written on.

In fact in their “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” presentations to the Wildlife Management Institute on March 28, 2008 and to the Wildlife Society on March 12, 2009, Gregg Servheen and his co-presenter Michele Beucler insisted managing deer and elk for sustained yield is unhealthy. They encouraged wildlife managers to replace hunters with non-hunters and wrote: “Below we give several reasons why we think state wildlife agencies should modulate hunter recruitment and retention efforts.”

Do Western Governors Realize What They Did?

On June 29, 2008, during their annual conference held at Jackson, Wyoming, the Western Governors’ Association, with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter as President, voted to proceed with a 142-page plan to implement their 2007 Resolution to designate and survey critical core wildlife habitat and connecting corridors. The “Corridors Initiative” directed the Governors of all 19 states in the WGA to involve their state wildlife agencies in virtually every phase of the plan.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s largest elk populations are now decimated, existing in a predator pit, and IDFG has lost over $3 million per year just in license, tag and permit fees from non-resident elk hunters. Instead of reducing excessive populations of wolves and other predators to help restore elk and attract the nonresidents who hunt them, IDFG is promoting a 20% fee increase scheme from residents which will penalize those who can least afford it.


Youth Coyote, Wolf Derby Brings Death Threats

By George Dovel

*Editor’s Note*I inadvertently published an incomplete article with this title from The Outdoorsman. My apologies. Sometimes in the rushes and distractions of this work, buttons get clicked, things get deleted and/or published without my knowledge. Such was the case. Below is actually the complete article as it appears in The Outdoorsman, Bulletin 54.

The below article appears in the Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 54, Oct.-Dec. 2013. It is republished here with express permission from the author. Please honor the protection of intellectual property and copyright. The Outdoorsman is the leading publication of truth concerning outdoor issues. To the right of this webpage is a link to follow in which readers are encouraged to subscribe to the print publication. Money is necessary for the continued publication of this important work. Thank you.

Pages 19-20 of the Jan-Mar 2008 Outdoorsman, included a letter from Salmon, Idaho outfitter Shane McAfee in which he discussed discrepancies in the wolf study being conducted in the vicinity of Salmon by Gary Power and Jason Husseman. McAfee reported observing nine wolf-killed elk carcasses that Husseman later claimed were lion kills, and the outfitter reported unmistakable evidence they were killed by wolves – not lions.

McAfee also compared his 1996 opening weekend harvest of nine branch-antlered bull elk by 10 hunters with his 2007 elk hunt when they saw no elk for the first 15 days and only one hunter harvested a young bull during the season. He also reported the impact wolves were having on non-resident elk hunters but the F&G commission ignored his warning and approved a new plan to protect five times as many wolves as the Idaho Legislature and FWS had agreed to.

The next time I heard from Mr. McAfee, he was understandably upset by his discovery that the lungs of the elk his hunters killed in 2012 were infected with E. granulosus hydatid cysts. He asked me if he could ship the lungs to me to forward to a reputable facility but I explained I could not keep up with the spread of the disease as more Idaho areas became saturated with wolves.

McCafee Takes Action

Unlike many others who merely complain “to the choir,” McAfee worked with officials in the nonprofit Western Predator Control Association (WPCA) and began sending the elk lung samples to the pathology lab at Colorado State University. He and his associates also developed a “Public Warning” poster (see following page) and an education program conducted by WPCA officials Clay Dethlefsen and veterinarian Dr. Jack Ward, and by Dr. Charles Kay who 20 years ago accurately predicted the dire outcome of wolf reintroduction in the “Lower 48.”

WPCA also published an informative booklet titled “Predator Diseases” as a guide for outdoorsmen to recognize and protect themselves from many of the diseases transmitted to other animals and humans from predators. And WPCA’s “Canine Diseases – Part 1” and “Wolf Attacks – Part 2” provide an excellent reference for those who either missed Dethlefsen’s presentation, or who want to refresh their memory of the extensive subject matter later on.

Biologists Repeat Wolf Advocates’ Lies

As Dr. Val Geist pointed out, the multiple impacts of introducing large wolves that are accustomed to killing large prey animals did not happen all at once at every location. But the fact that state agency wildlife biologists continued to repeat the myths of the wolf worshippers gave them an aura of credibility that neither deserved.

And once our Western Governors authorized the biologists who had decimated our wildlife to implement the UN/Wildlands agenda to block virtually all development, rural Idaho communities like Salmon and Elk City were left with no recourse other than their county government and their own ingenuity to survive.

Voters Supported Otter’s Defiance of the Wolf Hunt Being Canceled – But Failed to Realize the Result
In October of 2010 when Idaho Gov. Otter was running for re-election, his failure to go ahead with the IDFG 10J plan to kill wolves was very costly to rural Idaho. His letter to Interior Secretary Salazar refusing to manage wolves after the court blocked delisting allowed the wolves another full year to multiply and spread their diseases to elk, deer and humans without any control.

Voters showed their approval of Otter’s last minute “defiance” of the Judge’s order when they re-elected him overwhelmingly 15 days later. But they should have been paying attention to his written claim that Idaho could live with the 518-732 wolves he and IDFG had illegally agreed to maintain if the sport wolf hunting season was reinstated.

Outdoorsman No. 40, distributed in September of 2010, published the truth that the 2008 IDFG/Otter wolf plan was never provided to the Legislature for approval or rejection as required by law. It also documented why F&G could not allow the 518 wolf minimum, and showed proof of other serious F&G wrongdoing including the illegal use of nearly half a $million in P-R and D-J excise taxes.

I sent that issue to several trusted friends and political allies of Gov. Otter and on Dec. 8, 2010 he officially reversed his position. That same day the F&G Commission discarded its 2008 plan to manage for 500+ wolves and returned to the legal 2002 plan to manage for 150 wolves that was approved by the Legislature.

The Commission instructed IDFG to move forward with its 10J Plan to reduce wolves to protect ungulate herds. Yet thanks to Otter abandoning wolf management, the 2010-2011 winter, spring and summer arrived and ended without even one wolf being removed.

The 2011-2012 wolf seasons showed an increase in the number of wolves taken but it was too little – too late. The back country elk herds were already in a predator pit from which they could not escape and the Salmon Region elk were already infected with the hydatid cysts discovered by McAfee in the 2012 hunting season.

After failing to reduce the wolves enough, Gov. Otter’s office did not respond to the pleas from rural communities where wolves were entering yards and school grounds at night to kill elk and deer. At the same time, these wolves deposited their infected feces where the E. granulosus eggs could be passed to children and their pets.


In Elk City, two of Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings’ deputies killed their first wolf on June 25, 2011 and killing wolves has become a top priority to protect the small community ever since.

Coyote/Wolf Derby Announced in Salmon

In Salmon, the emphasis has been on education and as head of the local chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, McAfee announced its intent to hold a coyote and wolf derby on December 28-29, 2013. The USFS did not require a permit but the BLM responded in writing that it did not have time to advertise and hold public hearings and complete the lengthy process by the end-of-December hunt date.

Hunting coyotes and wolves on land administered by BLM was already legal on those two days and the Derby process, from registration through award of prizes, occurred on private land in Salmon. But IFW modified the rules to advise that no animal taken on land administered by BLM would qualify for the Derby and dropped the mandatory provision for a $20 registration fee for each two person team.

The teams generally consisted of a youngster and a parent or other adult acting as a mentor to guide the youth through their unique introduction to hunting predators. Reportedly included were a $1,000 first place prize for the most coyotes killed and another $1,000 for the largest wolf killed.

“Medicine Hunter” Sends Hate Mail

This was a very popular event among Salmon area residents and was sanctioned by the Regional IDFG Supervisor and by the Forest Service. But as soon as local sponsors were identified, they began to receive the usual death threats, many from out-of-state and other countries, if they failed to withdraw their support.

The threats reported by the news media included hanging the owners/operators with a noose, and setting fire to their store after making sure they were inside. These were similar to the bomb threats sent to Clay Dethlefsen and Dr. Ward earlier if they showed up to their workshop about hydatid disease spread by wolves.

Other emails involved wishful thinking including: “Sick (—–) like you need to be removed from the planet. I hope a pack of wolves eviscerates you and leaves your worthless carcass to die slowly, painfully and alone.”

Because I am neither a member of nor affiliated with IFW and had nothing to do with the Derby in Salmon, I was mildly surprised to receive the following email to me from Chris Kilham dated Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:16 P.M.:
“Idaho for (killing) Wildlife” is a hate group.
You, as an advocate, are a wildlife hater.
May you and your kind rot in hell.
Have a bad day
Chris Kilham

For those who do not recognize Kilham’s name, he is paid by cosmetics and health medicine manufacturers in France and elsewhere to visit primitive societies and obtain herbal ingredients for use in manufacturing cosmetics or herbal alternatives to prescription medicines. With frequent appearances on Fox News and the Dr. Oz TV show, Kilham is known as the “Medicine Hunter” and he has also devoted considerable effort and several books promoting use of aphrodisiacs and mind altering drugs, including marijuana.

I can forgive him and his animal rights activist wife for their possible ignorance of the unacceptable consequences of refusing to control excessive wolf numbers. But I do not condone the stupid arrogance of that email sent from their website ignoring the labor, dollars and equipment I and other family members have donated to restore healthy wildlife populations for half a century.

Shane McAfee and Others Displayed Courage

Readers who have followed these events in the media are already aware that U.S. Magistrate Candy W. Dale rejected the Plaintiffs’ request for a restraining order on Dec. 27, 2013, and the Derby took place with an expanded law enforcement presence. When the Derby ended on Dec. 29th IFW reported that more than 200 hunters in the field harvested 21 coyotes and no wolves.

I applaud Shane McAfee, IFW, and the citizens and officials of Salmon and Lemhi County for their courage in standing up to both the greedy hate mongers who pretend they are conservationists and the politicians who try not to offend a radical segment of voters. Instead of continuing to plead for help from a governor who had not offered a valid solution by then, they fired one small shot heard around much of the world for a return to sanity.

Activism Was Successful

And I suspect the Derby at Salmon, the pressure from Idaho County Commissioners, passage of HB 343 in 2011, Sheriff Giddings’ wolf control at Elk City, the 176 Siddoway sheep killed by wolves in August 2013, and publication of The Real Wolf (see page 11) all influenced Gov. Otter’s Jan. 6, 2014 request to the Legislature to appropriate $2 million to control wolves in Idaho.

According to Idaho Senator Jeff Siddoway, the $2,000,000 general fund appropriation, which will include funding for wolf control in FY 2015, will be administered by a state board co-chaired by the IDFG Director and the Idaho Department of Agriculture Director. He says a representative of sportsmen and a representative of livestock owners will be appointed by the Governor along with a member at large who will likely represent the interests of wolf advocates.

In subsequent years, $110,000 in funding will be provided by members of the livestock industry who recently announced an increase in brand renewal fees to cover that cost, and that $110,000 will be matched from sportsman license fees.


Youth Coyote, Wolf Derby Brings Death Threats

By George Dovel

*Editor’s Note* – The below article appears in the Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 54, Oct.-Dec. 2013. It is republished here with express permission from the author. Please honor the protection of intellectual property and copyright. The Outdoorsman is the leading publication of truth concerning outdoor issues. To the right of this webpage is a link to follow in which readers are encouraged to subscribe to the print publication. Money is necessary for the continued publication of this important work. Thank you.

Pages 19-20 of the Jan-Mar 2008 Outdoorsman, included a letter from Salmon, Idaho outfitter Shane McAfee in which he discussed discrepancies in the wolf study being conducted in the vicinity of Salmon by Gary Power and Jason Husseman. McAfee reported observing nine wolf-killed elk carcasses that Husseman later claimed were lion kills, and the outfitter reported unmistakable evidence they were killed by wolves – not lions.

McAfee also compared his 1996 opening weekend harvest of nine branch-antlered bull elk by 10 hunters with his 2007 elk hunt when they saw no elk for the first 15 days and only one hunter harvested a young bull during the season. He also reported the impact wolves were having on non-resident elk hunters but the F&G commission ignored his warning and approved a new plan to protect five times as many wolves as the Idaho Legislature and FWS had agreed to.

The next time I heard from Mr. McAfee, he was understandably upset by his discovery that the lungs of the elk his hunters killed in 2012 were infected with E. granulosus hydatid cysts. He asked me if he could ship the lungs to me to forward to a reputable facility but I explained I could not keep up with the spread of the disease as more Idaho areas became saturated with wolves.

McCafee Takes Action

Unlike many others who merely complain “to the choir,” McAfee worked with officials in the nonprofit Western Predator Control Association (WPCA) and began sending the elk lung samples to the pathology lab at Colorado State University. He and his associates also developed a “Public Warning” poster (see following page) and an education program conducted by WPCA officials Clay Dethlefsen and veterinarian Dr. Jack Ward, and by Dr. Charles Kay who 20 years ago accurately predicted the dire outcome of wolf reintroduction in the “Lower 48.”

WPCA also published an informative booklet titled “Predator Diseases” as a guide for outdoorsmen to recognize and protect themselves from many of the diseases transmitted to other animals and humans from predators. And WPCA’s “Canine Diseases – Part 1” and “Wolf Attacks – Part 2” provide an excellent reference for those who either missed Dethlefsen’s presentation, or who want to refresh their memory of the extensive subject matter later on.

Biologists Repeat Wolf Advocates’ Lies

As Dr. Val Geist pointed out, the multiple impacts of introducing large wolves that are accustomed to killing large prey animals did not happen all at once at every location. But the fact that state agency wildlife biologists continued to repeat the myths of the wolf worshippers gave them an aura of credibility that neither deserved.

And once our Western Governors authorized the biologists who had decimated our wildlife to implement the UN/Wildlands agenda to block virtually all development, rural Idaho communities like Salmon and Elk City were left with no recourse other than their county government and their own ingenuity to survive.

Voters Supported Otter’s Defiance of the Wolf Hunt Being Canceled – But Failed to Realize the Result
In October of 2010 when Idaho Gov. Otter was running for re-election, his failure to go ahead with the IDFG 10J plan to kill wolves was very costly to rural Idaho. His letter to Interior Secretary Salazar refusing to manage wolves after the court blocked delisting allowed the wolves another full year to multiply and spread their diseases to elk, deer and humans without any control.

Voters showed their approval of Otter’s last minute “defiance” of the Judge’s order when they re-elected him overwhelmingly 15 days later. But they should have been paying attention to his written claim that Idaho could live with the 518-732 wolves he and IDFG had illegally agreed to maintain if the sport wolf hunting season was reinstated.

Outdoorsman No. 40, distributed in September of 2010, published the truth that the 2008 IDFG/Otter wolf plan was never provided to the Legislature for approval or rejection as required by law. It also documented why F&G could not allow the 518 wolf minimum, and showed proof of other serious F&G wrongdoing including the illegal use of nearly half a $million in P-R and D-J excise taxes.

I sent that issue to several trusted friends and political allies of Gov. Otter and on Dec. 8, 2010 he officially reversed his position. That same day the F&G Commission discarded its 2008 plan to manage for 500+ wolves and returned to the legal 2002 plan to manage for 150 wolves that was approved by the Legislature.

The Commission instructed IDFG to move forward with its 10J Plan to reduce wolves to protect ungulate herds. Yet thanks to Otter abandoning wolf management, the 2010-2011 winter, spring and summer arrived and ended without even one wolf being removed.

The 2011-2012 wolf seasons showed an increase in the number of wolves taken but it was too little – too late. The back country elk herds were already in a predator pit from which they could not escape and the Salmon Region elk were already infected with the hydatid cysts discovered by McAfee in the 2012 hunting season.

After failing to reduce the wolves enough, Gov. Otter’s office did not respond to the pleas from rural communities where wolves were entering yards and school grounds at night to kill elk and deer. At the same time, these wolves deposited their infected feces where the E. granulosus eggs could be passed to children and their pets.


Idaho F&G Commission Supports Plan to Penalize Residents Who Can’t Afford a License Every Year

By George Dovel

*Editor’s Note* – The below article appears in the Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 54, Oct.-Dec. 2013. It is republished here with express permission from the author. Please honor the protection of intellectual property and copyright. The Outdoorsman is the leading publication of truth concerning outdoor issues. To the right of this webpage is a link to follow in which readers are encouraged to subscribe to the print publication. Money is necessary for the continued publication of this important work. Thank you.

Idaho F&G Commission Supports Plan to Penalize Residents Who Can’t Afford a License Every Year
by George Dovel

After IDFG officials and most other employees spent 14 months promoting the August 2012 Idaho Wildlife Summit, fewer than one-tenth of one percent of Idaho’s sport license buyers attended either the Boise event or one of the six simultaneous regional events. And despite the countless requests for citizen input into the IDFG Draft 2014-2024 Elk Plan that evolved during the 15 months since the Summit ended, the lack of sportsman response to the Draft Plan has also been dismal.

IDFG Failed to Accurately Report the Actual Cost of Planning, Advertising and Holding Its Wildlife Summit

Instead of reporting the actual wages, benefits, travel, use of IDFG communications and other facilities, etc., paid for by license purchasers and used by the several hundred IDFG employees who spent countless hours during the 14 months promoting the Wildlife Summit and soliciting donations, the online IDFG expense report states the following:

“Our records show more then $100,000 of personnel time was spent in support of and planning for this event. These payroll costs are covered by license and other funds already appropriated to Idaho Fish and Game.”

But the fact that license funds existed to restore depleted wild game populations, does not mean it was legal to rob that money from the mandatory annual elk counts, emergency winter feeding fund, restoration of predator-prey balance, etc. and spend it to create another source of income for IDFG from the general public.

That same Wildlife Summit Cost Report – As of September 30, 2012 lists expenses for the three day Summit as $117,673, with pledges from donors to pay $108,385 of that amount. However, more than half of the amount pledged was by the Department or its controversial fund raiser – the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

But the Wildlife Summit expenses did not end when the Summit ended. The time required to present the limited public input changed from days to weeks to months and a final recommendation to charge non-license buyers a fee for their increasing use of WMAs (Wildlife Management Areas) – yet still charge license buyers for the total cost of operating the WMAs – understandably met with strong resistance from the few license buyers who responded.

The “Freeloaders”

One weekend a dozen or more years ago, every vehicle leaving the 2-1/2-mile access road from Horsethief Reservoir in SW Idaho, including ours, was stopped and checked to see how many, if any, of the occupants had purchased some form of sport license from IDFG. My wife and I and our two fishing and camping companions all had licenses but we were certainly in the minority.

During that weekend, 80% of the people using the limited camping and recreation facilities at what was formerly one of Idaho’s top big trout locations had not purchased any form of license from IDFG. Yet they were using the campsites with potable water, rest rooms sanitized daily, and well-maintained roads for camping, boating, etc., while the 20% who bought licenses were footing the bill.

Then as now, IDFG was going through the motions of temporarily appeasing the license purchasers who had paid for the acquisition of the reservoir, for its development as a prime trout fishery, and for the annual maintenance and operating costs. An IDFG employee conducting the vehicle survey even told us they were doing it to calculate the size of fee that would be charged those who were using Horsethief, but were not reimbursing IDFG for their share of the annual operating and maintenance expenses.

Two of Many “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”

But, since 1990 when the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (now AFWA) hired a bird watcher and non-hunters to change state agency priority from hunting to “non-consumptive use” of wildlife, wild game harvests have declined dramatically. After 23 years of substituting this policy, which defies many states’ laws, license buyers are still paying for the free services provided to “the freeloaders,” including some who oppose hunting.

Another “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” that is no longer promoting managing wild game to provide sustained
harvests for hunters is the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). Although there are three other regional fish and wildlife associations (Northeast, Southeastern and Midwest) whose leadership is impacting AFWA, WAFWA is the oldest and its illegal promotion of the alleged rights of non-hunters over hunters is slowly being adopted by the other three.

Originally formed in 1922 as the “Western Association of State Game Commissioners” to protect the states’ exclusive right to manage their wild game, WAFWA added “and Fish” in 1957 to reflect WMI President Ira Gabrielson’s insistence that each state game agency should also manage its fish.

The Delayed Bombshell That Nobody Recognized is Now Used to Destroy Management of Wildlife

In 1978, claiming it was “reflecting the new set of values emerging,” the Western Association changed its name again from “Western Association of State Game and Fish Commissioners” to “Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.” Also in 1978, Western wildlife biologists easily convinced several state legislatures to change their legal definition of “Wildlife” from Webster’s “mammals, birds and fish hunted by man,” to the U.N. definition “any form of animal life, native or exotic, generally living in a state of nature.”

The change sounded innocent enough – simply using a universally accepted way to define wild animals as “generally living in a state of nature,” as opposed to domesticated animals living in pens or fenced enclosures. But hunters and their legislators appeared not to realize that “animal life” includes not just mammals but several hundred thousand reptiles, birds, insects, protozoa etc.

In Idaho Wildlife Policy Code Section 36-103, the original definition “all wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds and fish” was left alone. But the definition of wildlife was changed in 36-201(g) where its new meaning would soon be used to destroy the wild game management Director Greenley was then using to restore depleted game.

WAFWA’s Student Propaganda Program

And the following year (1979), to make sure a new generation of hunters wouldn’t oppose the biologists’ plan to permanently halt wild game management for hunting, WAFWA joined with the radical environmental group the Council of Environmental Education (CEE) to teach new generations its claim that civilized interference in natural resources was “destroying formerly ‘healthy’ ecosystems.”

WAFWA agreed to let CEE use youngsters’ fascination with wildlife as a way to reach them, and then train them to “recognize human activities that (allegedly) damage ecosystems.” In their Project Wild lesson plans for children from Kindergarten through Grade 12, they subtly preach that it damages an ecosystem to extract fossil fuels, or to control predators in order to obtain a temporary increase in desirable prey species.

For example in the chapter (lesson plan) in their 537-page Project Wild Curriculum titled “Changing Attitudes” they explain: “predator control was more or less taken for granted 60 years ago…but now it is more generally recognized that predators have a role in the health of all ecosystems.” They point out that predator control is now generally limited only to *specific predators that can be identified as causing damage.

(* that scenario has been adopted, without legislative input, as part of most Western state predation management plans, and most predators are now protected, with severe federal fines and prison sentences for humans who harass or harm them)

Project Wild Includes Anti-Hunting Propaganda

Like many other parts of the Curriculum Guide, the chapter titled “The Hunter” ignores the federal law that prohibits spending sportsman license or P-R excise tax dollars on projects that question the morality of hunting. Instead it requires the students to read or listen to a short story based on the depression era in which a young hunter takes aim at a buck – but then asks himself if he has the right to kill a beautiful deer that survived a severe winter, just to provide meat to feed his family.

The students are also required to read comments from three groups that either oppose some or all hunting, as well as a “lukewarm” endorsement of hunting from Ducks Unlimited and comments from the NRA that hunting of animals that would otherwise die is a healthy experience both physically and spiritually. Then each student must write an ending to the depression era deer hunt story, poll citizens to get their opinion of hunting, and then debate whether or not hunting is too cruel to be allowed.

“Death of Wildlife Management” Agenda

Since 1983 when Project Wild first became operative in several western states, its expansion and portrayal of civilized man’s alleged destruction of healthy ecosystems has destroyed the ability of an entire generation to make rational judgments about the conservation and wise use of natural resources. WAFWA still pretends it is helping recover species but a look at those species now reveals its real agenda is the death of biological wildlife management.

The Pygmy Rabbit Recovery in Washington began in 1979 before the animals were even listed as threatened, with millions of dollars wasted buying land, improving habitat and attempting to discourage predators rather than control them. By 2004 the rabbits were extinct in the wild and efforts to introduce genetically healthy Idaho rabbits without intensive predator control continue to fail.

The Mule Deer Initiative introduced by WAFWA in 2005 has included a series of magazine-length WAFWA publications in which mule deer biologists insist restoring native plants and animals – including large predators – will automatically restore healthy mule deer populations. But after eight years, predators continue to decimate mule deer.

WAFWA then told the states with sage grouse populations to copy and then adopt severe restrictions on human activity written by federal biologists, where each state had only a minority vote to make minimal changes. Idaho’s and Wyoming’s attempt to exclude several small areas from extreme grazing restrictions has already been overturned by activist Judge Lyn Winmill, who in 2012 ordered the BLM to immediately place the needs of sage grouse above the needs of cattlemen.

Under CHZ Wildfire ii., WAFWA’s Grouse Plan submitted by Idaho Gov. Otter states: “Only human safety and structure protection shall take precedence over the protection of sage-grouse habitat.” No matter whether it’s deer and elk or sheep and cattle on public or on private land threatened by wildfire, if any sagebrush in the newly designated 5.7 million acres of core sage grouse habitat in Idaho is threatened by wildfire, federal, state and local firefighters must first protect the sagebrush before attempting to protect big game or livestock.


How do you rationalize the nearly 100 cows and calves that burned to death near Fairfield in August, or the deer and elk that had to be put down, or had already died like the cattle, when aerial tankers and other fire-fighting equipment’s top priority was protecting sagebrush? In my experience, this priority elminates the ability to prevent thousands of acres of fire destruction by using helicopters or hot shot crews to extinguish critical small fires.

WAFWA Promoted False Public Trust Doctrine

In 1985 WAFWA began surveying all citizens, rather than just hunters and fishermen, and in 2004 it used P-R/D-J funds to determine that most college-educated women living in larger cities approved using hunter license fees to fund the ladies’ bird-watching activities (duh!). Michele Beucler, who organized the survey in her dual role as “Human Dimensions” specialist for both WAFWA and IDFG, used the Colorado State University survey results to justify The Idaho Compass, with its change in emphasis from managing Idaho’s wildlife scientifically to ignoring biological management.

With increasesd emphasis on Human Dimensions rather than continuing to manage wildlife, WAFWA made the decision to replace most licensed hunters with citizens who do not hunt or fish. Because all non-hunters already have the same access to wildlife and to the Commission as those who buy sport licenses, WAFWA and Beucler began to circulate the claim that managing wildlife for sustained harvests for hunters deprived nonhunters of their ability to enjoy their nonconsumptive use of wildlife.

On July 26, 2006 WAFWA adopted a resolution agreeing to use the Public Trust Doctrine as a tool to force “democratic” access to wildlife for everyone. The resolution included a commitment to work with AFWA to pursue the legal language to make the PTD effective.

In 2008 Beucler’s presentation to the Wildlife Management Institute titled, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Reflections from a Non-hunter,” pulled no punches in declaring their intention to end wildlife management that benefits hunting.

In her presentation, she and IDFG non-hunting Wildlife Program Coodinator Gregg Servheen insisted that managing to provide continued supplies of wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping resulted in “persecution, reduction, and extirpation of predators; introduction of non-native and invasive species; habitat damage from an overabundance of herbivores; artificial propagation of game animals; and several others.”

Although it is contrary to published information, Beucler falsely claimed repeatedly that management of wildlife for hunting violated the Public Trust Doctrine. The anti-resource-user group, “Western Watersheds,” promptly began to parrot her claims.

Beucler also told her audience that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation must be modified because of its failure to address more serious 21st Century conservation issues such as “increasing housing development” and “nature deficit disorder.” In 2009 she and Servheen gave that same “Mirror, Mirror” presentation to the Wildlife Society at its annual meeting in Moscow.

Beucler: “It’s Time to Bury Wildlife Management And Find a New Path into the 21st Century”

In 2010, as President of the Organization of Wildlife Planners, Beucler wrote the lead article in OWP’s “Wildlife Tracks” titled, “The Death of Wildlife Management.” Using the same false claims of ecosystem damage and declining participation in hunting and fishing as in her workshops, her article said the time has come to bury wildlife management and find a new path into the 21st Century.

She proposed that instead of mourning the death, it should be considered a “transformation” and she suggested managers take advantage of the Transformation Teams at “MAT” that were already being set up. The Management Assistance Team (MAT) is an affiliate of the national Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Washington, D.C. but it has been located at the National Conservation Training Center at Shepherdstown, West Virginia since 1999, and run by FWS with help from various NGOs.

It is funded by part of the $6 million-dollar annual grant of federal P-R and D-J excise taxes called “State Wildlife Grants” (SWGs) that Congress took from sportsmen and gave to AFWA to administer. The SWG funds are supposed to help hunters and fishermen but are being used instead to destroy the wild game and fish that were abundant in the late 1940s – 50s and in the mid 1980s.

MAT provided the expertise to help Virgil Moore make the “Transformation” more than a year ago in a special workshop with restricted attendance. If you check out the AFWA and MAT websites you will find that managing deer, elk, moose, caribou, etc. is no longer part of either agenda and you will find that seven supervisory employees in IDFG have taken special training at the National Conservation Leadership Institute in the past seven years to join a special network of 207 “Fellows.”

Finally, if you live in the 19 western states, three western Canadian Provinces or the Yukon Territory and believe the Western Association understands your problems and represents you – nothing could be further from the truth. WAFWA is located near Washington, D.C. on the infamous “Beltway” at 2903 Saintsbury Plaza in Fairfax, Virginia, and is a consultant to FWS, USFS and to virtually all of the pseudo-government agencies like itself that are “slopping at the same trough.”

Biologists’ Waged War on “Meat Hunters”

During the late 1960s, selling extra hunting opportunity with deliberate over-harvesting caused Idaho’s mule deer and elk populations to reach record lows. A three-year legislative audit and legislators who understood the value of our renewable natural resources, forced replacement F&G Director Greenley to discard 10 years of false harvest estimates and instruct his biologists to stop lying to the public.

But his biologists responded by pretending the families or groups of friends who spent their annual vacation in hunting camps securing game meat for their family were the reason for declining game. F&G designed hunter surveys that emphasized minor reasons for going hunting and ridiculed the hunter who said he valued the opportunity to obtain healthy wild game for the table.

Biologists implied that “meat hunter” described a greedy individual who did not respect the big game animals he or she killed for the healthy protein to feed their family, and did not pay them enough for the privilege of harvesting it. Hunters became so sensitive about saying that their reason for hunting was seeing enough game to know they had a reasonable chance to harvest, that it was rarely listed as a major reason.

Meat Hunters Jumped From 22% to 56% in 7 Years

In 2011 when Virgil Moore told the media and environmental activists that the reason for his promoting the 2012 Wildlife Summit was the ongoing decline in hunters, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation Survey had already announced that the number of hunters who bought licenses in the U.S. since its 2006 survey had actually increased by 9.3% and both hunt and fish increased 10%.

It has taken a generation for meat hunters in the West to get over the stigma biologists attached to the “meat hunter” label. But a comparison of RM’s (Responsive Management’s) 2006 and 2013 surveys of the primary reason hunters hunt, shows a 59% increase in the percent of United States hunters who claimed getting wild meat was the primary reason they hunted last year (see below).


But the 59% jump from 22% to 35% of all hunters still does not tell the whole story. The RM survey found that Idaho was one of seven states that reported the highest percent of increase in resident hunters so it did another survey of those seven states, but asked respondents to state their own primary reasons for hunting – instead of choosing an answer from supplied multiple choice answers as they had the first time.

In those seven states an average of 56% said they went hunting for meat or food. So instead of 35%, the percent of reported meat hunters increased from 22% to 56% when hunters were allowed to provide the most suitable answer. This illustrates how Fish & Game multiple choice surveys twist the truth to suit its agenda.

Today’s Highly Inflated Costs to Hunt and Fish

When two of our older sons first attended school in Garden Valley, Idaho in 1970, the opening day of deer season was a school holiday for hunters. It cost $11 for anyone to hunt and fish for everything except four rare limited-hunt “trophy” species.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, licenses, tags and permits to hunt, fish and harvest the same species in 2013 should cost $66.08 now for either an adult or a juvenile hunter. But, purchased separately in 2013, a juvenile hunter/fisherman must now pay IDFG $164.50 to hunt and fish for exactly the same species, and an adult must pay $214.75!

Even if a discounted “Sportsman’s Package” is purchased up front, it now costs each juvenile or adult almost twice what it should based on the value of our dollar. But the thousands of Idaho households who can’t afford to spend $124.25 for each hunter in the family half a year before they can even receive tags to hunt, are forced to pay 2-1/2 times as much for each youth and 3-1/4 times as much for each adult hunter just to be able to hunt the species they could in 1970 with the same weapons.

Nearly Half of Idaho Households Can’t Afford Fees

When Michele Beucler gave her “Mirror, Mirror…” presentations, she admitted that hunting has become a rich person’s sport that nearly half of Idaho households with annual incomes below $40,000 cannot afford. She offered proof that households with $100,000 annual incomes retained all of their hunters yet those with Idaho’s median or lower incomes did not.

But instead of suggesting IDFG stop overcharging hunters and stop using hunting fees to support freeloader programs, she proposed state wildlife agencies should stop managing wildlife and reduce their efforts to solicit and retain young hunters.

The “North American Model…” was built on the concept of allowing every resident who wants to hunt, fish or trap, regardless of wealth or status, an equal opportunity to hunt and harvest wild game. But Beucler claimed the agencies should instead be modifying the Model to encourage the vast majority of citizens who do not hunt to join them and thus “garner their financial and political support.”

Her justification for this was the false claim that “Wildlife values are shifting away from wildlife use towards wildlife protection.” But despite teaching this lie to our youngsters and to any adult who will listen, in 2012 a whopping 73.4% of Idaho voters approved making hunting a Constitutional right and the number of residents calling themselves hunters who buy a license some years is increasing along with our population!

State game departments and quasi-government groups like WAFWA, AFWA and the WMI (Wildlife Management Institute) keep pretending they support the North American Model and the State’s Wildlife Laws that manage for sustained yield. Yet they have forced some of the most ardent and potentially skilled young hunters to quit hunting because they can no longer afford to pay the extreme cost of purchasing a reasonable chance to harvest a deer even once every five or more years.

The bottom line is that Idaho and many other states already charge fishermen and especially hunters absurdly high license fees, yet refuse to use the money as promised in The Compass on Dec. 23, 2004, “solely to manage fish and wildlife for hunting and fishing.” Using a variety of deceptions to hide what they are doing, they misuse (steal) several million license dollars every year and spend that money pretending to “manage” ecosystems.

In a November 17, 2013 news segment, Times-News reporter Brian Smith wrote: “Idaho Department of Fish and Game brass will pitch a new way to squeeze more revenue from hunters and anglers by creating incentives for them to purchase a license every year.” Under the new proposal, Fish and Game would raise all resident licenses, tags and permits by 20 percent in 2015, but then lock in rates at 2014 prices for those who continue to buy an annual license and tags every year.


Photo of Deputy Director Sharon Kiefer, explaining proposed fee increase penalty to F&G Commissioners on Nov. 14, 2013.

Many less affluent families are already forced to require youngsters and even some parents to take turns hunting and this would force them to pay the 20% increase in all fees when it was their turn to hunt. This is an obvious move to force more hunters and fishermen to buy the Sportsman’s Package every year for the discounted price of $124.25, rather than pay the $149.10 which will be charged beginning in 2015, reportedly for 3 to 5 years.

In his Jan. 29, 2013 discussion with legislative budget writers reported by Betsy Russell, Virgil Moore said: “Only 10 percent of people in our license database have had a license every year for the last five years – that surprised me. I thought it would be higher. It certainly shows that we do have a huge customer base out there.”

Idaho sells about 300,000 resident licenses a year to adults but it has about 750,000 different names in its database of residents who’ve purchased licenses within the past five years. There is little doubt that a large segment of the 90% who do not buy resident licenses every year are the families that have been forced to take turns hunting because it is too expensive with such lousy odds of harvest.

Moore’s claim that youths’ interest in electronic games over the last 20 years has caused them to stop hunting despite plenty of hunting opportunity is an excuse with no proof. Over-harvesting mule deer and elk followed by the severe 1992-93 winter and IDFG’s refusal to feed, caused populations and harvests to nose-dive. Refusal to manage game for the last 20 years has kept game at or near record lows and youths can’t eat “hunting opportunity.”


The Monument

*Editor’s Note* – This article is republished on this website with permission from the author/editor. Please respect copyright laws. In addition, please click on the link to the right for The Outdoorsman and subscribe and/or donate to keep this important publication in circulation. Thank you.

By George Dovel

Beginning with the last issue, Bulletin Number 52, I decided to lighten the subject matter in each issue with a story and photographs of some of my experiences flying, pulling a pack string, snow shoeing or otherwise enjoying remote places I have visited – or lived.

I began flying Si and Ursula Simonds into their remote back country home on Monumental Creek in my helicopter in the Spring of 1956. Because there was no place to land near their cabin at that time, I had to land three-quarters of a mile down Monumental Creek at their former neighbor, Frenchy’s, cabin and help them pack their supplies up to their home.

Si and Ursula were like a father and mother to me and I fell in love with the country that was covered with

tower1 - Copy

Monument on Monumental Creek in the Frank Church Wilderness

snow for five months every year. This later became the Frank Church Wilderness but it was classified as the Idaho Primitive Area at that time.

I acquired a small mining property further upstream and later sold my helicopter and airport so I could
move the family back there to share the experiences. One of the most remarkable natural wonders I have encountered in my travels was located about an hour’s walk upstream from our property, yet few Idahoans have ever heard of it and only a handful of those who travel the Monumental Creek trail have ever seen it.

This massive structure and two shorter monuments that cannot be seen in the photographs, were apparently
formed when the land was covered with water and the water began to disappear. The huge boulder on top
remained suspended on a column of what appears to be talc, decomposed rock and smaller rocks that has withstood extreme winds and storms for countless centuries.


I have a photo of several of our sons standing at the base of the structure, which cannot be seen in the photo at left[top photo], and they appear tiny.

Old timers in the area named the monument after the appendage of a horse, which it appears to resemble, and that may partly account for the State of Idaho’s reluctance to publicize it’s existence. It is visible from the air if you fly close to the treetops, and can also be viewed a few feet from the Forest Service trail but I have never seen a sign indicating its location.


Wolves in the U.S. are doing better than you think

*Editor’s Note* – The below article is republished on this website with permission from the editor of The Outdoorsman. Please click on The Outdoorsman branded logo to the right to subscribe to or donate to The Outdoorsman. All proceeds go to make sure the right people get a copy of this publication. Thank you.

By Larry Kline

(Retired FWS Biologist Larry Kline was involved with endangered species for ten years prior to his
retirement. I believe his article responding to an opinion published in Virginia newspaper on October 1st is an example of the type of input that is needed to silence the wolf advocates who oppose delisting. – ED)

I read with considerable interest the letter from Robert Wilkinson in the Oct. 1 Free Lance-Star regarding
continued protection for U.S. populations of the gray wolf [“Wolves deserve continued protection”]. Like Mr. Wilkinson I am a lifelong hunter. I share his interest and appreciation in predator-prey relationships involving the wolf and other large predator species. I believe as he does that we should not begrudge the taking of game species by predators necessary to sustain their populations, with the
caveat that both predator and prey populations should be maintained in reasonable balance. That often requires management by man.

I am a wildlife biologist retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service following 30 plus years of federal service. I spent the last 14 years of my career in the Arlington office of the FWS. Ten of those years were in the Office of Endangered Species and four were in the Office of Management Authority.

I disagree somewhat with Wilkinson regarding the status of the wolf and regarding ongoing management. He
speaks of the wolf being “pushed to the brink of extinction in much of the United States.” I believe “extirpation” is a more accurate term since there has always been a large and secure population of gray wolves in much of Canada and Alaska. He also suggests that full recovery has yet to be achieved in the Lake States and the Northern Rocky Mountain populations when in fact it has been significantly exceeded for several years.

De-listing would have been completed several years ago if not for frivolous lawsuits brought by the
Humane Society of the U.S. and its allies. It is past time that management should be turned over to the range states like every other resident species. Keeping species on the ESA after recovery objectives have been met does nothing but harm the credibility of the act. Appropriately, the Mexican wolf in New Mexico and Arizona will continue to be listed as endangered.

Larry Kline


I urge Outdoorsman readers to donate any amount, no matter how small, to reimburse us for the cost of providing mailed copies to the elected officials and others who are directly involved in managing your wildlife.

Thank you,
George Dovel

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