August 17, 2019

The 2013 Elk Plan – IDFG Biologists Continue to Blame Gross Mismanagement on Declining Habitat

*Editor’s Note* – This article from the Outdoorsman is being republished only with the permission of the author/editor of The Outdoorsman. Please click on the brand and icon to the right of this article and subscribe to the printed addition of The Outdoorsman. The magazine cannot remain in publication without your support. Thank you.

The 2013 Elk Plan – IDFG Biologists Continue to Blame Gross Mismanagement on Declining Habitat

By George Dovel

My Introduction to Idaho Fish and Game Biologists

Discharged from the U.S. Army late in 1956, I established Gem Helicopter Service in Boise and put on an informal one-helicopter air show at Gowen Field.

The plastic “bubble” of my new Bell helicopter was painted with a clown face and topped with a cowboy hat. I demonstrated vertical and horizontal capabilities of the machine with simulated forward and backward loops, followed by forward flight with rapid stops and then hovering motionless at various altitudes.

I still have several 35 mm color slides of me lifting a cowgirl from a speeding convertible using a two-rung rope ladder that I dropped to her shortly before I deposited her gently on the tarmac near the tower. And my final demonstration involved placing a dime on the concrete near the tower, taking off and climbing to 1,000 feet, and then cutting the throttle and executing a 360-degree autorotation with a “dead-stick” landing straddling the dime.

Following the demonstration, I was approached by Idaho Power engineers, surveyors and wildlife biologists
who envisioned a saving of time and money by hiring our service. Idaho National Guard Brig. Gen. George Bennet, a decorated combat veteran, eagerly questioned me about my experiences in Korea and revealed his interest in acquiring Army fixed wing and helicopter proficiency.

Wildlife Biologists Claimed North Idaho Shrubfields No Longer Provide Adequate Forage and Cover for Elk

That was 57 years ago and Idaho was still a game paradise. Yet the biologists, who had quietly taken over all aspects of game management, insisted there was not enough winter habitat to feed the deer and elk in Idaho’s roadless backcountry areas – but offered no evidence in support of that claim provided by the Wildlife Management Institute.

They said the north Idaho shrubfields created by large, hot destructive fires in 1910, 1919 and 1934 had
matured and no longer provided the winter forage and escape cover needed by elk and deer. Now, 57 years later, a new crop of biologists claim habitat is still deficient in Idaho’s 2014-2024 elk plan – again with no proof offered.

The Clearwater Region in North Central Idaho provided more than 45% of Idaho’s total elk harvest for
nearly half a century. But by 1956, a decade after IDFG biologists began implementing WMI President Ira
Gabrielson’s recommendation to radically increase the back country elk and deer harvest by non-resident hunters, the famous Clearwater elk herd had already taken a nose dive.

Instead of blaming their own doubling the either sex back country deer and elk hunting season lengths,
adding multiple deer harvests, and radically increasing nonresident elk and deer hunters; IDFG biologists continued to blame the transition from seral stage (temporary) increases in shrubfields back to the climax stage of conifers that they claim existed when the 1910 fires hit.

Despite Biologists’ Claims, Abundant Forage Existed

Finally in 1963, IDFG initiated the first five years of the 22-year Clearwater Elk Ecology Study to determine the best method of rejuvenating the shrubfields to provide adequate forage and escape cover for elk. According to the research reports, the area studied was representative of the areas in which more than half of Idaho’s elk were harvested.

But in the five years, researchers found utilization of winter forage by elk and deer in the study area never exceeded 25% of the forage that was available to elk during the winters! Yet the elk population in the study area declined another 85% during those five years!

More research from 1968-1972 revealed high conception and calf birth rates but very poor post-hunting
season calf survival. In 1973 an intensive study began to determine the cause of all elk calf deaths in that study area during the first six months of life.

Predators – Not Poor Habitat – Destroyed the Elk

Over the next five years, average calf birth weights exceeded the minimum required for 90% survival by 6%
and the newborn calves gained about two pounds per day. But two-thirds of the calves were killed by predators – 84% of those during the first two weeks after birth when they are most vulnerable.

Five different predators killed those elk calves, but 75% were killed by black bears, so in 1976 the researchers temporarily relocated many of the bears, which numbered two per square mile in the study area. This jumped post hunting season elk calf survival from the three-year average of 21-calves-per-100-cows to 61:100 in 1977!

Battle to Restore Sound Management Took Its Toll

Meanwhile, after 13 years of working with our Fish and Game biologists and watching them continue to
destroy the big game herds that had taken half a century to rebuild, it was obvious to me that someone had to stop it. I put together a team of volunteers and, with one full-time and several part time employees, we began publishing The Outdoorsman in May of 1969.

A legislative audit found that IDFG knowingly exaggerated published population and harvest statistics to
cover up its destruction of Idaho deer and elk herds. In May of 1971 F&G Director Dick Woodworth was forced to resign and his replacement, Joe Greenley, ordered 10 years of inflated harvest data replaced with just the number of animals hunters had actually reported killing each year.

Then, as now, IDFG had developed supporters in the legislature and in selected sportsman organizations, and they fought every effort to restore honest management. The Outdoorsman achieved a 30,000 circulation, but the cost to my family, to Rob Donley and others who stood with me, and to state and federal govt. employees who dared to tell the truth was extremely high.

Greenley Plan Halted Cow Elk Hunting, Shortened allSeason Lengths and Dramatically Reduced Predators

When Idaho outdoorsmen finally won the battle, Joe Greenley implemented a plan that promised to restore
Idaho deer and elk herds by 1985. His plan involved dramatically shortened deer and elk seasons with limited female deer harvest and no female elk harvest except for short either-sex seasons in the Panhandle Region.

Units where even a 3-day bulls-only season might result in excessive harvests were closed to elk hunting, and most controlled deer and all controlled elk hunts were eliminated except for a small number of bull elk permits in some of the closed units.

Both residents and non-residents were allowed to take two bear in Units 8, 8A, 9A, 10, 10A, 12, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 19, 20, 20A, 23, 24, 25, 26, 34 and 39, using a regular and extra bear tag. In Units 19A, 33, 35, 43 and 44 a resident hunter could kill two bears without a bear tag, and could kill one bear without a tag in all the units that now make up the Southeast and Upper Snake Regions.

When Greenley retired in 1980, he was replaced by Jerry Conley who began to increase back country season
lengths and sell a few antlerless permits. But when both Greenley’s Elk and Deer Restoration Plan and the 22-year Clearwater Elk Ecology Study ended in 1985, elk populations were at or near record highs in many units.

Hansen and Kaminski Used Record-High 1985 Elk Data to Support 219 Wolves in Central Idaho PAA

Graduate students and former Montana Wolf Biologists Timmothy Kaminski and Jerome Hansen dated the end of their Idaho wolf-prey study as 1984. But then they identified and added Idaho’s 1985 elk population data,
and used it to justify adding 219 wolves that could be supported in the 20,700 square mile “Central Idaho
Primary Analysis Area.”

For example, in 1985, Units 10 and 12 (now the Lolo Zone) had a post hunting season elk population of
20,115, a harvest of 1,430, and the elk were increasing at the rate of 805 per year. Dividing the 805 elk by an estimated kill of ~17 elk or deer per wolf per year, showed the area could support about 45 of the 219 total wolves – if management remained the same.

But by 1989, F&G increased the annual Lolo Zone elk harvest by 38% and eliminated bear control resulting in a decline of 24% in the Lolo elk population – which now totaled only 15,270. The loss of 4,845 elk averaged over the four years reflected an annual loss of 1,211 elk instead of the annual gain of 805.

Biologists Hide Massive Prey Declines From Citizens

This meant Units 10 and 12 could no longer support any wolves! Yet Hansen, who was now employed by Idaho F&G to provide accurate wolf prey data to FWS for its 1993 Draft Wolf Environmental Impact Statement,
made no effort to change the 1985 figures he provided to FWS Wolf Team Leader Ed Bangs.

Kaminski assisted Bangs for the next nine years, and then served as Congressional staff for the next two
years when transplanting Canadian wolves was approved and the wolves were relocated in Central Idaho and
Yellowstone Park. Yet he kept pretending the 10-year-old elk figures were still accurate.

By 1989 IDFG biologists had added 14,665 bonus elk permits statewide but only 9% were for bulls only!
Another 20% allowed the killing of either-sex and a whopping 71% allowed only a cow or calf to be taken!
Three years later, in 1992, money-hungry IDFG biologists increased the number of Idaho limited draw elk
permits to 20,400 – with 80% only allowed to kill a cow or calf! In just three years The Lolo Zone elk population had dropped another 4,073 to only 11,197 yet IDFG still pretended nothing was wrong.

State Officials Supported F&G, FWS Lying To Public

In my 1993 written testimony to FWS Wolf Team Leader Ed Bangs, I included three pages of proof that the
Central Idaho ungulate populations claimed in the Wolf EIS were exaggerated by as much as 600%. Bangs never responded.

In a September 24, 1993 draft letter to Wolf Project Leader Ed Bangs, IDFG Director Jerry Conley
admitted that IDFG personnel had provided the data and the analysis in the Wolf EIS concerning the limited impact of introducing 100 wolves into central Idaho. He added, “We believe these analyses provide a realistic picture of the probable environmental consequences of a recovered wolf population…based on the best available data.”

I pointed out to Wolf Oversight Committee Co-Chairman Bennett that “the best available data” had changed dramatically since 1985 and it was doubtful that depleted elk and deer populations in Central Idaho could
support any wolves – much less the 100 Conley’s letter claimed. He said they would correct Conley’s letter and I thanked him.

But the final letter was sent to Bangs on Oct. 12, 1993, and the only change was replacing the words
“realistic picture” with the vague “reasonable estimate.” Deer hunters were already complaining about the massive starvation loss of more than half of Idaho’s mule deer during the 1992-93 winter, and despite the loss of thousands of elk to starvation from eight years of drought followed by the worst winter in 40 years, IDFG increased the number of special draw elk hunts to 23,995 in 1993!

In a February 17 1994 meeting with Sandy Donley and me, Wolf Oversight Committee member Don Clower told us the WOC knew the prey population figures were highly inflated when they were given to FWS but said that
was necessary to support the rapid build-up of wolves that would occur in the Nonessential Experimental Recovery option. Then he said he saw nothing wrong with lying to the public to accomplish that goal.

In a March 19, 1994 letter to Bangs, signed by Co-Chair Jack Lavin, the Wolf Oversight Committee endorsed
the 10J Nonessential Wolf Recovery option instead of the Natural Recovery of wolves that already existed.

The supporters of transplanting Canadian wolves were obviously afraid Congress would learn that depleted
mule deer and elk herds in Central Idaho would no longer support wolves and not approve the introduction. So in the August 16, 1994 Federal Register Ed Bangs wrote: “Millions of acres of public lands contain hundreds of thousands of wild ungulates (Service 1994) and currently provide more than enough habitat to support a recovered wolf population in central Idaho.” (emphasis added).

Four WOC Members Say 10J Plan Illegal

On Sept. 27, 1994 in Boise, Bangs held the final hearing on FWS transplanting Canadian wolves into
Central Idaho. My testimony and exhibits clearly proved there were now far fewer wild ungulates than were
claimed in the EIS and I spent an intermission alone with Bangs asking why he had made such an absurd claim to Congress.

He admitted that the deer and elk numbers were “probably exaggerated,” but said if Congress didn’t approve the transplant and funding quickly it would probably never happen. On that same day IDFG’s Director approved the FWS plans in writing and issued a permit for FWS to transplant up to 15 wolves per year into Idaho.

These secret actions by Conley directly violated Idaho Code Sec. 36-715 and should have been rejected by
WOC members. But regardless of who did or did not approve his illegal acts, nearly three weeks later four
members of the Wolf Oversight Committee sent a signed letter to Bangs’ FWS office in Helena, Montana stating that the FWS 10J wolf plan was illegal.

Their 4-page letter, dated October 17, 1994, listed the provisions of Sec. 6 of the ESA and Sec. 17 50 CFR
that were not complied with. It also listed consequences not addressed in the FWS plan, including allowing Idaho’s ungulate herds to be plundered with no certain controls on the result; making no provision to reduce wolf populations should they exceed the stated population goals; failure to address the wolves’ impact on private property rights including livestock; and preventing similar problems in
other states as a result of wolves migrating outside of Idaho Montana and Wyoming.

Finally, the letter stated that unless FWS corrected these deficiencies, it was the group’s intention to urge the State Legislature to retain the Code language prohibiting IDFG from participating in any wolf recovery activities – and to further prevent any state agency from any activity that would support the federal wolf recovery effort.

Neither Bangs nor anyone else in FWS responded to – or even acknowledged receiving the letter. The state
agency’s unrestricted approval of the FWS 10J plan – which threatened a stiff fine and/or serving time in a federal penitentiary for even throwing a rock at a wolf attacking livestock on private land – opened the door for FWS to do anything it wanted.

Congress Approved FWS Plan But Failed to Fund It

During the Joint Legislative Resource Committee Hearings, the WOC members who had refused to endorse the plan testified that it was basically an invitation to the feds to turn wolves loose in Idaho without adequate protection for game herds, livestock or private property rights. Legislators were also understandably upset with all Idaho F&G Commissioners, who had endorsed the 10J plan unanimously at their December 1994 meeting, and approved publication of statements claiming wolf recovery would not have a negative impact on Idaho’s economy.

The end result was that Congress approved the FWS 10J Plan to start transplanting about 15 wolves per
year into both Idaho and Yellowstone Park in January of 1995. But Congress failed to appropriate any funding for the project.

The FWS solution was to steal $45-$60 million from dedicated excise taxes that were scheduled to be
apportioned among the states, and spend a large portion of that stolen money on their wolf recovery project. As wolves began to multiply for the next seven years, no evidence was offered that they were having any impact on Idaho’s deer and elk populations.

Pauley’s Warning to Halt Excessive Harvests Ignored

When the Deer and Elk Teams were formed in 1996 to find solutions to declining mule deer and elk populations, I was an observer who received all minutes, memos etc. I received a copy of Clearwater Research Biologist George Pauley’s April 30, 1996 memo to Clearwater Wildlife Manager Jay Crenshaw warning him they must stop overharvesting elk in 10 of the 11 Clearwater general season elk units.

Pauley’s two-page memo compared Clearwater elk population surveys from 1987-1992 with those from 1993-
1996. In 10 of the 11 general elk season units, cow numbers had remained fairly stable but bull numbers had declined 25% in the four years and calf recruitment had declined 34% causing a 41% decline in yearling bull numbers.

Pauley’s memo commented, “We obviously are not experiencing an increase in bull survival, and I would not call a 25% decline an acceptable management situation.” Then he explained that while the situation
resulted in a higher ratio of mature bulls to yearling elk in the hunter harvest (which IDFG officials claimed indicated a healthy herd that could support increased bull harvest), continuing to harvest even the same number of elk would continue to destroy the population.

Biologists Exploited Clearwater Region Wildlife

But instead of heeding Pauley’s warning to harvest fewer elk, Crenshaw left the same bull seasons as 1995 but increased the number of Clearwater cow/calf permits from 1,550 in 1995 to 3,675 in 1996! This included a change from 350 cow/calf permits in Units 10 and 12 to 1,900!

The extreme 1996-97 winter caused severe death losses in elk and deer in the Clearwater Region. As the
snow began melting along the Lochsa River in Unit 12 local residents saw dozens of elk carcasses exposed and asked Crenshaw to drop the 400 Unit 12 antlerless permits to save some breeding stock to help restore the elk herd.

Instead, Crenshaw responded in a May 29, 1997 Lewiston Tribune article with the claim that IDFG biologists had been monitoring the Lolo Zone elk since January 1997 and said total losses did not exceed the normal 5-10% winter loss. He increased the 400 permits in Unit 12 to 450 beginning Oct. 20 and ending Nov. 24, and kept the same 1,500 permits in Unit 10, with 375 of them good through Nov. 30.

The following chart illustrates how F&G biologists – not wolves – destroyed the Lolo Zone elk herd. When the few elk left produce a few calves, more wolves return.

53tablegeorge

In the early 1900s, what is now the Lolo Zone was grazed by herds of domestic sheep whose herders constantly controlled the bears to prevent predation losses to their sheep. When the sheep were finally removed in the 1940s, bears began to multiply.

Extended Hunting Seasons and Excessive Ratios of Predators to Prey Destroyed Famous Elk Herds

Overharvesting the elk without controlling their major predators resulted in the Lolo elk calf-to-cow ratio declining dramatically by the late 1950s. This excessive ratio of predators to prey is exactly what happened during the late 1800s and it was corrected by killing predators and establishing short deer and elk hunting seasons until the game species recovered.

Yet it took 22 years of research to prove once again that excessive harvests and predator imbalance was
causing the elk decline. Pauley’s additional elk research through 2007 provided ample evidence that habitat was not a significant factor in the decline of any elk population in Idaho and that should have ended the debate – but it didn’t.

In fact the 10J Wolf Control Plan for 2010 and 2011, repeated the claim that habitat was not a factor in the elk decline in any elk herd in Idaho. Written by IDFG biologists, including Pauley, and submitted to FWS, it contained multiple proof of that statement (see Pages 6-8 in Outdoorsman Bulletin No. 40).

Biologists Continue to Repeat the Habitat Lie In Order to Conceal Their Real Agenda from Urban Residents

At the same time the Aug. 2010 Lolo Wolf Control Proposal on the IDFG website showed the world there was
no evidence habitat reduced the number of elk in the Lolo Zone, page 3 of their August 2010 Idaho Fish and Game News on the same website said “In the Lolo Zone deteriorating habitat and other factors contributed to a long population decline, dropping from about 16,000 in 1988 to fewer than 8,000 elk in 1998.”

Why didn’t the IDFG report compare its 1985 Lolo Zone elk count of 20,115 with its Feb 2010 count of only
2,178 – which reflected an elk decline of 89%? And why did it claim deteriorating habitat contributed to the decline when it was caused by years of excessive harvests?

The answer is that under our unique form of citizen controlled government the power rests with the citizens to make changes by contacting their elected representatives and giving them the facts. If F&G agencies can convince urban citizens – who far outnumber rural dwellers – that poor habitat is the cause of their mismanagement, the urban representatives will outvote the rural minority and give the wildlife agencies a free ride to promote their own agenda.

While it is true that subdivisions and intensive farming practices have reduced wild game populations in
many populated areas, thousands of square miles of public lands in Western states can still produce healthy wildlife populations where extended seasons and unhealthy ratios of protected predators have not taken their toll.

Exposure to the IDFG Agenda Was a Real Shocker

As a member of the Big Game Emergency Feeding Advisory Committee and an observer on the Deer and Elk Teams formed in 1996, I was shocked to learn the real IDFG agenda. There were two private citizens serving on each Team and those who had not already subscribed to the Wildlands/U.N. Biodiversity agenda were told their Team was not going to use anything that was in the Idaho Fish and Game Code.

When Upper Snake Region Wildlife Manager Ted Chu suggested one of their purposes was increasing elk
numbers to provide feed for bears, his suggestion was enthusiastically approved. But when Citizen Team Member Dr. Bill Chetwood suggested their purpose was also to provide deer and elk for hunters to hunt, he was instantly reminded that his suggestion was not appropriate.

As the Elk Team agenda evolved, they still did not recommend using any of their arsenal of biological tools that were available to restore elk and mule deer populations. Their sole effort was directed at placing severe restrictions on rifle hunters while giving archery hunters virtually unlimited opportunity to hunt elk during the rut and kill either sex.

Because Colorado’s elk herd had been increasing, along with more nonresident elk hunters than Idaho’s total of all elk hunters, Colorado researcher David Freddy was invited to come to Idaho and share their secret to success. Freddy told the Team it was closing all antlerless hunting and not shooting any bull that was less than 2-1/2 years old.

Colorado Expert’s Warning Ignored

When asked about Colorado’s A-B-C tag system, Freddy said it had nothing to do with restoring elk herds. He explained it was designed solely to accommodate up to an additional 200,000 nonresident elk hunters and split them up into three elk/deer seasons so resident hunters could choose one and not complain about overcrowding.

Freddy warned that this stratified hunt scheme was strictly designed to increase income from nonresident
hunters and urged the Elk Team not to adopt it. Yet they ignored his advice and chose it to provide extra income.

When they presented five management options to the F&G Commission, they were instructed to scope those
with hunters and return with the two preferred choices. Instead, they manipulated scoping and returned with the two worst choices – A-B Zone Tags and Limited Controlled Hunts – which were both approved.

Although hunters in the Panhandle Zone and most outfitters supported the A-B Zone Tag because they
believed it would stop other hunters from hunting in their area, it has been a costly nightmare to administer and has not increased elk numbers – even with 50%-67% caps.

The only time capping tags or selling limited controlled hunt tags are justified biologically is when there is not a huntable population in an area, or rarely to distribute hunters. Both are schemes to raise extra income for F&G.

More about North Idaho Seral Shrubfields

The role of fire in establishing and subsequently rejuvenating seral shrubfields in north Idaho was thoroughly studied and the results published by IDFG Researcher Thomas Leeds from 1968-1979. Assisted by Mike Schlegel and others during the Lochsa Elk Study, Leeds documented that fires beginning in 1860, including severe fires in 1888, 1889, 1910, 1919 and 1934, re-established the shrubfields in 67% of the Clearwater National Forest.

One-fourth of that forest was impacted by severe burns that occurred at least once every 30 years during the past century and a half. In the Cook Mountain area of the Clearwater, researcher Barrett documented a history of severe burns dating back at least 350 years.

Leeds’ research revealed the need for controlled burns in the shrubfields once every 10-15* years to
maintain their role of providing optimum food and cover for wildlife. (* Burning at five-year intervals decreases the vigor of most shrubs)

The Big Question

So why hasn’t the Clearwater National Forest been conducting realistic controlled burns on its shrubfields for the past 34 years?

The Truthful Answer

It’s because the Forest Service has also adopted the wildlifers’ hands-off utopian philosophy of ecosystem
perfection absent of all human activity, which Dr. Val Geist refers to as “Intellectual rubbish that raises the hackles on my neck!”

For the past 23 years I have watched state wildlife biologists pretend they are managing our wildlife while they continue to destroy it. In this lengthy article I have attempted to point out the radically reduced seasons and the massive control of predators that was required to rebuild game populations in the early 1900s and again in the 1970s and 1980s.

Even if the Forest Service did its job and burned the tens of thousands of acres of shrubfields to restore the quality elk habitat in the Clearwater Forest, it would be a waste of time and money without conducting the long term predator control to allow the depleted elk herds to escape the predator pit they are in.

What disturbs me the most are the hunters who enjoyed the wonderful hunting that resulted from those of
us who spent our time and money demanding the short seasons, an end to female harvests, and statewide predator control – yet too many of those same hunters now insist that killing predators to restore balance is not necessary.

One ray of hope on the horizon are the copies of several letters I have received from hunters concerning the 2014-2024 Elk Plan, which address the criminal activities Fish and Game employees are engaging in while attempting to float another fee increase to support those activities. I believe the following letter from Ed Lindahl fairly represents the comments from the other letter writers.

2014-2024 Elk Plan Input
By Ed Lindahl

Dear Commissioners:

The 2014-2024 Elk Plan is heavy on habitat analysis (excuses), tag sales, antlerless harvest opportunity,
long seasons (August-December), and light on predator management/control and accountable/realistic objective targets for elk units and zones.

The Conleyesque “blame the habitat or lack of it” boilerplate has been around since the 1980s and continues today. Likewise, the Conleyesque sale of the resource continues so that an excessively generous department payroll is met in spite of declining elk herds. Nothing new there including never-ending seasons, excessive antlerless harvest and the full array of super hunts, governor’s tags, etc.

The last review of the late 1990’s Elk Plan contained unit objectives which were so broadly ranging that units with declining herds were considered as continuing to meet objectives. That concept generally continues today. Low expectations breed subpar results.

The management for the payroll bottom line philosophy of the department has been a priority for every department director since Director Conley, with the brief exception of Director Mealey. Non-game and non-essential programs have bled the cash cow of resident and non-resident hunter, angler and trapper license, tag and related fee dollars to the point that elk management-related aerial elk herd counts
have not been adequately conducted. Until recently, the department hid from sportsmen non-game and nonessential program siphoning of their revenues.

The fraud of the reputed, broad support for The Compass and its implications increased the need to divert
sportsmen’s dollars from 2005 to the recent Wildlife Summit and beyond.

Recommendations.

1. Sell significantly fewer tags for antlerless elk harvest statewide. Sell antlerless tags only for units which have agricultural depredation. Do not allow selling second elk tags for hunting in another zone/unit.

2. Dramatically reduce season lengths for archers, black powder and rifle hunters. Eliminate rut and early winter hunts for all categories of hunting weapon choice.

3. Implement the Predator Policy and forget the part related to habitat. Manage and control wolves with generous tags for hunting and trapping wolves twelve months per year. Control wolf pups with gas in dens and seek safe and appropriate poisons for limited applications for additional take by professionals.

4. Increase bear and lion hunting opportunity. Explore limited bear and lion trapping as a method of take.

5. Accurately and completely count elk by aerial or other means on a repetitive basis.

6. Pay department personnel a hazard bonus to those performing aerial counts for all species requiring such counting.

7. Report with honesty the amount of sportsmen’s dollars supporting non-game and non-essential programs.

8. Narrow the range of “meeting objectives” for elk zones so that hunters can have confidence in the department’s successes and learn from failures related to elk management.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

Ed Lindahl
Sagle

(NOTE: I have not discussed these issues with Ed Lindahl and several other letter writers for some time and it is encouraging to read their frank comments to the Idaho F&G Commission.

Although I do not believe the Commission has the knowledge and the courage to properly address these
issues, especially Commissioner Budge who parrots the so-called “conservation science” agenda, letters such as this one from Ed Lindahl will hopefully encourage other knowledgeable outdoorsmen and women to expose the corruption that is destroying our once valuable wildlife resource along with our newly acquired Constitutional right to hunt.

Until the ecosystem worshipers who presently draw IDFG wages are purged from this agency, it behooves all of us to publicly expose their efforts to destroy our heritage and our formerly abundant wild game.

As the hunting seasons wind down, make notes of your observations and discuss them with the legislators you elected. A paragraph or two in your local paper – or in all the papers in Idaho – will start the process of informing others with facts. – ED)

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Finally: A Small Reward for Someone Who Has Earned It!

By George Dovel

*Editor’s Note* – The following article is being republished here with permission from the author.

fishing

Author has just netted one of many sockeye salmon caught by his wife using an artificial fly on stretches of Alaska’s Kenai River in July.

When I began researching, writing and publishing this non-commercial version of The Outdoorsman nine years ago, it required my full time. Some months there are enough donations to exceed expenses, but trying to increase circulation and send complimentary copies to an ever increasing list of elected officials soon used up our limited savings forcing us to seek additional income.

For a couple of years, both of us worked for wages in traffic control maintenance on road construction jobs until all the work became part-time. For the past five years my wife has had to work for a north Idaho company at remote locations on the Salmon River to get a living wage.

Patti is an ardent and skilled hunter and angler who out-fishes me. She will spend hours catching salmon or steelhead, or trout, bass or even crappie and perch when others, including me, have given up.

We visited her cousins in Alaska several times and brought home frozen red salmon and halibut, but recently we realized we hadn’t done that for seven years. As her responsibilities have increased at work she has had less time for fishing, especially during the past two years.

Because she was required to be available 24/7 at her last job location, we saw each other only 3 or 4 days a month or less, and communicated by phone or email. When she mentioned how much she would enjoy visiting her cousins and catching some fish for a change, I insisted she book the flight immediately if it worked out for them.

I spent time in the North Country years ago, including visiting a son who lived and caught halibut in SE Alaska, and I always enjoy being around people who still “tell it like it is.” But when we landed in Alaska in July her cousins’ boat was being repaired and the sockeye were late so Patti was getting anxious when the run finally started.

The commercial fishermen and their nets block off the entire river for several days at a time but eventually the bite is on for sport fishing and it resembles combat fishing in Idaho in the more popular locations. Younger friends from the Garden Valley area in Idaho joined us a week later and they had a knack for exploring and finding remote fishing spots where there were few or no other fishermen.

Readers who haven’t fished for sockeye may not be aware that they will “mouth” a fly or yarn or even a bare hook in shallow water, but they don’t swallow it as their normal ocean food consists of small crustaceans, plankton, squid and a few small fish (per many sources).

The fisherman needs to flip the fly with a small amount of line in front of him repeatedly, feel for the bite as a pinch-sinker or split shot skips along the bottom, and set the hook fast when the line stops moving or the bite is felt. These fish, fresh from the ocean, often go airborne and shake the hook – especially if they’re given any slack.

Most sockeye fishermen there use fairly stiff fly rods but our friends from Garden Valley feel they can detect a light “mouthing” or “bite” better with a favorite bait casting rod, reel and line combination.
We were fishing in Cook Inlet in the Kenai where each household of residents is allowed to net 25 red (sockeye) salmon for the “Personal Use” permit holder, plus 10 more for each additional household member. Patti and I took advantage of our cousins’ offer to go dip netting with them, but as non-residents we could not legally net the fish or steer the boat.

cousinnetting

Patti’s Cousin Dale and his daughter, Brandi, operating dip nets at the mouth of the Kenai River, were entitled to net 90 total red salmon free of charge based on their family sizes.

pattisockeye

Patti displays two of the sockeye netted by her cousins four days earlier. Note both tips of each tail fin clipped and 4-foot diameter net used on each side of boat. The T-handles in upper photo allow the netter to quickly rotate the net 90-degrees to keep from losing the fish as it is hoisted up into the boat.

Similar “Personal Use” fishing with no charge is allowed to residents in many Alaska locations for finfish or shellfish, using gill or dip net, seine, fish wheel, long line or other means defined by the Board of Fisheries.

The only opportunity we had on this trip to catch halibut happened on a choppy day with swells high enough to make it very bumpy with water pouring over the cabin. Patti quickly caught her two halibut while the rest of us caught mostly an assortment of other bottom feeders. Despite the rough ride both ways, we enjoyed the fishing and watching an acrobatic whale show off.

Our friends from Garden Valley went out for halibut in a larger boat the day we left and all seven fishermen limited out. But the consensus among the few boat operators we talked with was that the halibut they catch are running smaller than they were a few years ago.

While driving to and from fishing, we saw two small bunches of caribou plus a number of moose, including the following young bull Patti photographed on the day we arrived:

moose

We saw two cow moose with twin calves, and Patti’s cousin Deanna took this photo of a nearly white cow moose with twin calves a month before we arrived.

moosetwins

Patti and I thoroughly enjoyed our Alaska trip, the good fishing and the good companions. We also enjoyed the boxes of frozen sockeye filets and frozen halibut we brought back as baggage. The trip and article are a tribute to my wife for all the physical hardships and deprivation she has endured to keep this newsletter coming to readers.

Please consider making a donation and/or subscribing to The Outdoorsman. It is arguably the most accurate outdoor publication on the planet. Click this link for a printable form to fill out and subscribe.

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Trophic Cascades from Wolves to Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone?

Commentary by George Dovel

*Editor’s Note* The following is republished on this website with permission from the author. Please consider subscribing to The Outdoorsman. Information can be found in the right sidebar on the home page of this website. Thank you.

In Outdoorsman No. 51, the article on pages 8-9 Titled, “Top Wolf Scientist Charges Wolf Researchers Have Become Advocates Rather Than Scientists,” tells how Dr. L. David Mech charged that when wolf advocates began to claim the wolves’ presence was vital to restore healthy native ecosystems, a large number of university researchers invaded Yellowstone Park with the intention of proving trophic cascades caused by wolves.

Then Mech rebutted their claims with facts. He pointed out that the addition of 27 days of growing season in Yellowstone in recent years undoubtedly created healthier and taller willows and aspens and said there was no scientific evidence that wolves were responsible for creating more food for other predators.
He cited a study of 19 chapters of reviews concerning the ecological role of large carnivores, and said a research team concluded that scientists likely will never be able to predict cascading impacts on biodiversity other than prey. After a review by other wolf scientists, it was then accepted for publication in Biological Conservation on March 12, 2012.

But despite Mech’s pointed claims being published a year ago, a new study by William J. Ripple et al claims that wolves reducing the number of elk browsing on serviceberry provided more food for grizzly bears.

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The Ripple study said it measured 778 bear scats in 2007-2009 and determined from those measurements that the bear stools contained more fruit than were found in older studies before wolves were introduced.
The study also determined that the serviceberry bushes grow taller and have less browsing than were found in previous years. That, of course, correlated with the 27-day annual increase in the Yellowstone Park growing season provided by Mech.

The study published by the British Journal of Animal Ecology on July 29, 2013, included a series of unproven hypotheses that: elk and grizzly bears competed for berry-producing shrubs; after wolves were introduced there would be a decrease in elk and an increase in berry-producing shrubs; and the percent of fruit in the grizzly bear diet would be greater after wolves were introduced.

In reality, the killing or alleged relocation of elk by wolves resulted in far fewer elk available as prey for the grizzly bears when they emerged from hibernation and desperately needed the protein provided by elk prey until green-up occurred.

Such thinly veiled attempts to try to promote the trophic cascade myth illustrate how far science has been prostituted by the current crop of students and professors who lack the wisdom and integrity to be scientists.
—–
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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In Spite of Directors’ Claims, Idaho Fish and Game Refuses to Control Wolves Decimating Elk Herds

Republished on this website with permission from the editor/author.

The Outdoorsman – Bulletin Number 51, Dec. 2012 – April 17, 2013 Pgs. 1-3.

In Spite of Directors’ Claims, Idaho Fish and Game Refuses to Control Wolves Decimating Elk Herds

by George Dovel

In January 1999 I attended a predator symposium in Boise co-sponsored by the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Assn., Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game and eight other groups. Like many of the 17 panel members whose unsupported testimony claimed wolves would have limited impact on deer, elk and moose numbers, Wolf Education Center’s David Langhorst claimed poachers kill 10 times as much game as wolves do.

But Wildlife Ecologist Dr. Charles Kay provided facts to support his testimony – that the wolves transplanted from Canada would eventually drive Idaho’s already declining big game populations into a predator pit.

Beginning with his August 1993 Petersen’s Hunting article titled, “Wolves in the West – what the government does not want you to know about wolf recovery,” Dr. Kay had published extensive research exposing federal and many state biologists’ false claim that protecting wolves would create healthy game populations.

Biologist Can’t Refute Facts – Attacks Messenger

Unable to refute any of Dr. Kay’s expert testimony, one biologist publicly confronted him and implied that his testimony was not valid because he was not a biologist.

But Dr. Kay snapped back at him, “I’d be ashamed to admit it if I was, the way you biologists have destroyed our wildlife.”

Pretending that a simple degree in wildlife biology bestows the wisdom, integrity and judgment needed to recommend real solutions ignores reality. And attacking the credibility of the messenger is a tactic used by those who lack facts to defend their position.

These two observations are based on half a century of working alongside and closely observing wildlife biologists. Deceiving the citizen hunters who pay their wages has become a specialty with most of them.

Geist – Wolves Caused ~90% Decline in Deer Harvest

But like Dr. Kay, Dr. Valerius Geist, the featured speaker at the 1999 Symposium, strived to enlighten rather than deceive. He spent a couple of hours patiently explaining to those in attendance how the return of wolves to Vancouver Island resulted in nearly a 90% decline in the number of black-tailed deer harvested each year by hunters.

He warned the audience that strict control of wolf numbers in Idaho must occur to prevent a similar decline in Idaho big game populations. IDFG Director Steve Mealy, who was the Symposium facilitator, summed up the consensus that wolf predation is largely additive and wolves must be limited to preserve healthy game populations.

Despite being provided ample opportunity to question Dr. Geist, Idaho biologists and Commissioners remained quiet. Yet a group of them confronted me a few minutes later and said, “He told us what was going to happen but he didn’t tell us what to do.”

Two months later, Mealey was fired by a 4-to-3 vote, and replaced with a series of pro-wolf Directors. But on Jan. 5 2006 Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed an agreement with Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne designating Idaho to act as its agent, and directing IDFG to “implement lethal control or translocation of wolves to reduce impacts on wild ungulates in accordance with the process outlined in the amended 10J Rule.” (emphasis added)

That was seven years ago and during those seven years, IDFG has had the authority and the duty to lethally control wolves to reduce their impact on elk, moose and deer – either using the 10J Rule with the 2002 Wolf Plan as a guide – or following the 2002 Wolf Plan during the two periods, including now, when the wolves were/are delisted.

So How Many Total Wolves Has Idaho Lethally Controlled to Reduce the Impact on Wild Ungulates During the Past Seven Years?

The answer is only nineteen – all in the Lolo Zone.

That 19, plus the few wolves harvested by hunters and outfitters in the Lolo Zone, failed to halt the dramatic annual decline in its elk population and harvest. Yet in the following exchange of communications dated Jan. 21, 2013, Moore tells Viola sportsman Jim Hagedorn that many people have simply not been exposed to the Department “science” on managing wolf predation on Idaho’s elk.

TV Interviewed Moore, Stone – Ignored Citizens

On Jan. 17, 2013 KTVB published interviews with IDFG Director Moore and Defenders of Wildlife wolf promoter Suzanne Stone at IDFG Headquarters in Boise. Moore said hunters have done a good job controlling wolves in farm and ranch areas, but said wolves are increasing and further reducing elk populations in back country areas “like the Clearwater, Lolo and Selway.”

He announced the F&G Commission had removed $50,000 from a research project and directed it to be spent killing and trapping wolves in remote areas like these. Of course Stone disagreed and said the $50,000 should be spent on non-lethal methods which she falsely claimed were more effective than lethal control.

As always happens in the urban media, KTVB ignored the majority of Idaho citizens who share ownership of the wildlife resource, and the multi-million dollar loss the exploitation of that resource by both Moore and Stone is costing them every year. This understandably upset Viola sportsman leader Jim Hagedorn who, along with many others, contributes a great deal of time and money seeking honest scientific wildlife management.

On Jan. 20, the following letter from Hagedorn to Director Moore appeared in the Forever Free Press:

A direct question for Virgil Moore:

“[IDFG’s] job is actually to conserve wolves,” says Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife. “We propose that commission use the money for non-lethal tools that are more effective in reducing livestock losses, and certainly more effective in reducing the impact on wildlife, including wolves,” Stone said.

“Moore says he’s putting together opportunities for advocates like Stone to talk to Fish and Game biologists about their management techniques.”

Director Moore, would you please explain to me why you would waste your time, your IDFG employees’ time, and MY MONEY, by opening a channel of communication to your (or MY) employees so a clearly deranged individual (Stone) who can NEVER seem to get her facts straight with the media, or anyone else for that matter, can have ANYTHING to do with advising FISH and GAME management in Idaho?
——

The following day, Hagedorn emailed a copy to Moore and to several legislators, commissioners and other knowledgeable individuals. The subject line said simply, “How about an answer Virgil?

He quickly received the following response from Moore:

Jim,
I decided to go over the science that wolves are important predators to elk. Based on the testimony at the Commission meeting last week by 16 individuals it is apparent to the Commission that many people simply have not been exposed to the Department science on managing predation on Idaho’s elk. The meeting with folks concerned about our wolf reduction efforts is to allow a more in-depth opportunity to present Department information and answer questions that could not be addressed at the public meeting.

Ms. Stone is looking for an opportunity to do more of the non-lethal management that has been tried in the Blain (sic) County area. It certainly will not work for wildlife depredation and does not work in most livestock grazing situations either. Her statements do not represent what we are trying to accomplish by providing the correct information on hunting, trapping and aerial methods of reducing wolf numbers.

Jim – I believe some of these folks can be moderated by the correct information based on my discussion with some of them at the Commission meeting- as they do not have the correct information to judge the Department program properly. I do not believe, as you do, that Defenders of Wildlife can be convinced though but the discussion of what we are planning is open to public discussion and public input and we do have an obligation to meet with folks when appropriate.

I hope this helps. Let me know if we need to talk and I’ll give you a call.

Virgil
——

The Facts

The Department “science” on managing wolf predation of elk is a myth.

Every authority on wolf-ungulate management – including L. David Mech – who has advised IDFG on this issue, has warned that 70-80% of wolves must be removed initially, and the reduced numbers maintained for at least five years in order to restore healthy ungulate populations.

When the Lolo elk herd was still estimated at about 4,000 animals, IDFG biologists carefully prepared a 10J Plan to lethally remove 75% of the wolves from the Lolo Zone the first year, and kill enough wolves for the next four years to maintain 20-30% of the original number. But instead of implementing the plan to rebuild the Lolo elk herd, the Commission voted to use it only as “leverage” (i.e. blackmail) to FWS to insure they would be allowed to manage wolves as game animals.

They got the “on again – off again” right to hold a wolf hunting season but hunters killed only 13 Lolo wolves and the Lolo elk population went down the tube. Anyone who takes the time to compare IDFG’s published annual elk harvest statistics will find that elk harvests have also nose-dived every year in all back country units since the Commission approved the 10J plan – but refused to use it.

And Moore’s promise to the Commissioners and the public when he was hired as Director two years ago that he would also implement wolf control in 2011 in the Selway and other units where wolves were also impacting elk – was never kept. Between 2006 and 2011, both of Moore’s predecessors, Steve Huffaker and Cal Groen, made similar promises that were also never kept.

It is worth noting that at the same time former Director Steve Mealey was telling a packed Commission Meeting audience that wolves were having a detrimental effect on Idaho elk herds, his Wildlife Bureau Chief Huffaker was standing in the back of that room telling a reporter that wolves had co-evolved with elk for ten thousand years and would “reach a balance” without man’s interference.

In February of 2006 when the IDFG plan to remove 75% of the Lolo Zone wolves was being “scoped” by the public, a letter writing campaign by radical pro-wolf groups supplied then Director Huffaker with the excuses he needed to convince the Commission not to control the wolves.

A Feb. 14, 2006 letter from Tami Williams of Wolf Haven International at Tenino, Washington, reminded Huffaker of the large cost of paying (Wildlife Services) to control 75% of the Lolo wolves. She speculated IDFG would get a hunting season if it waited and said, “With patience, wolf control could end up as a revenue generator rather than a revenue drain for IDFG.”

Instead of obeying Idaho Wildlife Policy in I.C. Sec. 36-103 (to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage all wildlife), Huffaker and his biologists chose to listen to the wolf advocates and sacrifice the Lolo elk herd. Large Carnivore Coordinator Steve Nadeau prepared a 2006 10J wolf control plan claiming that declining habitat – not over-harvesting and later wolf predation – was the primary cause of the elk decline.

Nadeau’s lie ignored Clearwater elk research biologist George Pauley’s long-term and well documented research concluding that allowing hunters to kill too many bull elk was the cause of the steady decline in Lolo elk from 1986 – 2005. Read “IDFG – No Evidence Links Lolo Elk Loss to Habitat!” on Pages 6-8 of Outdoorsman No. 40.

Ignoring Pauley’s 1996 warning to stop over-harvesting bull elk, Clearwater Region Supervisor Herb Pollard increased the number of 1996 antlerless elk permits in the Lolo Zone from 350 to 1,900! In Dec. of 1996 when Steve Mealey was hired as IDFG Director, he replaced Pollard with Natural Resources Policy Director Cal Groen to halt the deliberate over-harvest.

But in 1997, Groen reduced the 1,900 antlerless permits by only 50 and changed 525 permits so hunts would end on Nov. 30 instead of Nov. 13. See results of Pollard’s and Groen’s mismanagement in harvest chart below:

elkharvestidaho

The 2006 10J wolf control plan could easily have been corrected by replacing Nadeau’s false claims with Pauley’s facts, and then submitting it to FWS. But even two years later, in 2008, IDFG Director Groen and F&G Commissioner Gary Power told the Legislature and the media that IDFG had no intention of controlling wolves in Idaho’s wilderness areas.

The appointment of Groen to the Governor’s staff in 2007 was apparently seen as an opportunity for IDFG to ignore Idaho law and the Legislature. Groen’s direction to Nadeau, to write an IDFG Wolf Plan containing massive changes to the only wolf plan approved by the Legislature, and Groen’s failure to transmit that plan for legislative approval or rejection, reflects his willingness to ignore state law and the welfare of Idaho wildlife.

The IDFG conspiracy that bypassed the lawful process and resulted in Groen, Otter and Otter’s Office of Species Conservation telling FWS Director Dale Hall that IDFG will manage for five times as many wolves as agreed to in the FWS Recovery Plan, happened without public or legislative input.

Idaho’s 2002 wolf plan emphasizes several times on pages 21 and 23 how extremely important it is for IDFG to conduct an annual census of selected important prey species. The Lolo Zone elk met every criterion for annual monitoring – yet in the 11 years since that plan was approved by the Legislature – IDFG has conducted only two counts in Unit 10 and three counts in Unit 12!

And when Nadeau wrote the bastard wolf plan in 2007 – approved unanimously by the F&G Commission on March 6, 2008 – the “annual count” language was changed to once every three to five years, plus it allowed biologists to wait another three years before taking any action! On May 22, 2008 Groen gave Nadeau an “Employee of the Year” Award for “outstanding management/leadership.”

In February of 2009, Pauley met with Montana sportsmen and the media and said there were 130-150 wolves in the Lolo Zone. He advised that the State of Idaho was making a request to shoot about 80% (104-120) of them, and would leave a minimum of 25 wolves.

Although Pauley said the 10J proposal would be presented to FWS shortly and Unsworth confirmed it, neither had any intention of controlling wolves. This was simply designed to show hard core wolf advocates they had better not oppose delisting or IDFG would kill 100 wolves in one location.

Even after Senator Jeff Siddoway forced IDFG to commit to control Lolo Zone wolves during the 2011-2012 winter, Deputy Director Unsworth ordered the helicopter control halted on the third day despite ideal conditions. Only 14 wolves were taken in that brief control action and Wildlife Services told me I would have to talk to Unsworth to find out why. The wolf control figures Unsworth claimed would reduce big game predation in the Lolo Zone were far too low to have any measurable impact.

Note: This article and many more like it can be found in The Outdoorsman magazine. Please click this link to a PDF page where you can print out a form and subscribe to the magazine. The work of George Doval, editor of The Outdoorsman, is arguably the finest work to be found anywhere in print or online publications.

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Top Wolf Scientist Charges Wolf Researchers Have Become Advocates Rather Than Scientists

Dr. David Mech, the man who invented “balance of nature”, refutes his own claim. Says “Balance of Nature” a Myth.

Top Wolf Scientist Charges Wolf Researchers Have Become Advocates Rather Than Scientists
by George Dovel
The Outdoorsman – Bulletin Number 51 – Page 8

Republished on this website with permission from editor/author.

During a May 7, 2010 Boise State University Radio interview, Idaho Fish and Game Predator Biologist Dr. Hilary Cooley stated emphatically that wolves – not hunters – are necessary to manage elk herds.

Speaking with authority, as if she were part of a team of scientists whose research prompted her statements, Cooley stated:

“We saw this in Yellowstone – when we had tons and tons of elk they could change the entire landscape. We saw songbird densities changing, we saw beaver populations changing – everything responds to that and so while some people like to have high, high densities of ungulates, it’s not always good for the rest of the ecosystem.”

What Cooley was referring to are the alleged “trophic cascades” that many ecologists and most conservation biologists now claim are the stabilizing benefits provided to ecosystems by wolves and other top predators. The basic theory is that the top predator (wolf) reduces the number and/or alters the habits of its prey (elk), which provides more habitat for other species such as beaver, song birds and smaller predators.

This revival of the “Balance of Nature” myth promoted by Durward Allen and his graduate student David Mech in their 1963 National Geographic article, began when Robert Payne coined “keystone species” in 1969 and “trophic cascades” in 1980.

In 1985 Mech Admitted Balance-of-Nature is a Myth

Meanwhile after several more years of research with wolves and moose on Isle Royale and wolves and deer in Minnesota, Mech found that his “balance-of-nature claim had zero validity. Both wolves and their prey were in a constant state of changing from population peaks to radical declines, yet Mech waited until 1985 to publish the truth about what was occurring in both states but with different prey species.

And instead of publishing the correction in National Geographic or major news media – or at least in scientific journals – Mech’s startling confession that he was the cause of the balance-of-nature myth appeared only in National Wildlife Vol. 23, No. 1, and in the May 1985 Alaska Magazine. In that article titled, “How Delicate is the Balance of Nature,” Mech wrote, “Far from being ‘balanced,’ ratios of wolves and prey animals can fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically.”

Several years later, I photocopied the article, including its B&W and color photos, and sent it to the leadership of all 27 organizations in the Idaho Shooting Sports Alliance. But those groups were understandably still so upset with IDFG for letting half of Idaho’s mule deer and thousands of elk die from malnutrition during the 1992-93 winter, they failed to even consider what would happen with wolves 10-20 years down the road.

Misleading Headline: “Wolves Not Guilty”

Because the National Wildlife Federation was promoting wolf recovery, and Mech’s 1985 article emphasized the need to control wolves to prevent the radical swings in populations, his choice of magazines was perhaps understandable. Canadian wolf transplants into Idaho and Wyoming (YNP) would not happen for another 10 years, but the biologists promoting wolves were enlisting all the help they could get from environmental activists to lessen public resistance to restoring wolves.

Twenty years later, Mech’s team of student Yellowstone Park researchers (wolf advocates) issued a news release with the headline, “Wolves Not Guilty,” saying their unfinished research revealed that bears were the major predator of newborn elk and moose calves.

When the study was finally completed, Mech explained that bears killing most newborn elk or moose calves had been documented for several decades. But based on the volume of mail I received from Alaskans who read the “Not Guilty” article, it was too late to change their new opinion that wolves had been wrongly accused of killing elk and moose.

Mech 2008 Testimony Refuted DOW Claims

Mech has always recognized the necessity for state wildlife managers to control wolves that adversely impact either livestock or game populations. And when Defenders of Wildlife and 11 other preservationist groups sued FWS to shut down wolf hunting in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Mech’s May 9, 2008 22-page testimony destroyed every one of their arguments.

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that federal and state wolf promoters have “been in bed with” for several decades, now oppose the same recovery plans they helped design during the early 1980s. They have parlayed wolf recovery into a never-ending billion-dollar enterprise, and used tainted science and activist judges to support their destructive agenda.

Mech realized that the states’ failure to control wolves to numbers that are biologically sustainable has generated extreme opposition to their very existence in the areas where they are causing problems. The difference between the make-believe world of indoctrinated biologists like Hilary Cooley, and the real world where wolves eventually destroy the wild prey necessary to sustain their numbers, caused Mech to take drastic action in 2011.

On Oct. 26, 2011, Mech submitted an article to the editor of Biological Conservation titled, “Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf.” He also sent copies to eight wolf scientists for review and suggestions, and on Feb. 29, 2012, the slightly amended article was submitted to Biological Conservation and was accepted for publication on March 12, 2012.

In his article, just before he dropped his bombshell on wolf preservationists who falsely promote the image of the wolf as a saint, Mech mentioned that North America’s wildlife manager, Aldo Leopold, continued to recommend bounties on wolves in 1946 to increase abundance of big game populations. Leopold also warned that extermination of large predators could result in over-browsing.

Propaganda Changed Wolf Image from Devil to Saint

But in 1967 the wolf was listed as endangered and one of the most effective propaganda campaigns of all time began. Mech points out that the image of the wolf changed from a devil to a saint and wolf advocates began to claim that the wolves’ presence was vital to restore healthy “native” ecosystems.

He said that his library has more than 30 books written about wolves and that 27 NGOs have been formed to promote wolf preservation. One of Mech’s reviewers commented on the millions of dollars raised by these groups, and could have commented on the dollars many of them receive for reimbursement of legal fees from the feds each time they sue to halt delisting or hunting.

Mech also said that a large number of researchers have invaded Yellowstone Park with the intention of proving the existence of trophic cascades caused by wolves. Yet he asserts there is not even one YNP study with evidence proving that a cascade actually took place beyond the wolf and its prey.

For example he says the claim that wolves would kill most of the coyotes and replace them with smaller predators has not happened. Instead, after the initial coyote decline they have repopulated the Park with the same number of coyote packs.

Do Wolf Kills Really Benefit Scavengers?

According to Mech the claim that wolves benefit other scavengers by providing more kills ignores the fact that wolves consume most of the prey they kill. If the prey animal died from other causes, the scavengers would have 7-10 times as much meat as is available from a wolf kill.

And he reminds us that as the wolves kill more of the available prey, the scavengers have fewer – not more – animals available for food.

What Really Caused the Restoration of Beavers

Similarly, the claim that wolves killing the elk and/or creating a “landscape of fear” would reduce elk depredation on willows and aspen, which would cascade to restoring beavers, which would, in turn, raise the water table has been highly advertised – but it has never been proved according to Mech.

He points out the reality that there were no beavers in the Northern Range of YNP when wolves were introduced in 1995. He responded to recent unsupported claims that wolves caused beavers to return to the Northern Range and raise the water table with the following excerpt from a recent study:

“What has had little publicity, however, was that the rapid re-occupation of the Northern Range with persistent beaver colonies, especially along Slough Creek, occurred because Tyers of the Gallatin National Forest released 129 beavers in drainages north of the park.”

Mech referred to other research pointing out that the combination of these beaver colonizing in the Park and raising the water table, and a reported 27-day addition to the YNP growing season, were valid reasons for increased growth and height of willows, and aspen. “It should be clear from the above examples that sweeping, definitive claims about wolf effects on ecosystems are premature whether made by the public or by scientists” said Mech.

Mech continued, “Once findings claiming wolf-caused trophic cascades were published, scientists competed to find more. Teams from several universities and agencies swarmed National Parks and churned out masses of papers, most of them drawing conclusions that wolf advocates considered positive toward the wolf.”

He explained that after synthesizing 19 chapters of reviews relating to the ecological role of large carnivores in 2005, a research team concluded, “Scientists will likely never be able to reliably predict cascading impacts on bio-diversity other than prey.” Mech continued, “As one reviewer of this article put it, ecologists (and particularly conservation biologists) do seem obsessed to the point of blindness with predator-induced trophic cascades.”

The extreme bias of their studies is reflected in Mech’s comment that the only wolf study results he can recall that might be considered negative by the public is the 2003 Idaho study by Oakleaf et al who found that in central Idaho, ranchers discovered only one of eight calves that were killed by wolves. That study gained little popular press.

Although Mech candidly named several wolf scientists whose research reports are tainted by their “wolf is a saint” agenda, his closing comments reflect his own agenda. “National Parks are protected from most hunting and trapping, logging, grazing, agriculture, irrigation, predator control, pest management, human habitation, and mining, all of which wreak pervasive, long-term effects on ecosystems.” (emphasis added)

By the time tens of thousands of young biologists and journalists and a hundred million other youngsters have spent 80% of their lives being taught that all human activity destroys healthy ecosystems, they believe that starvation, cannibalism and widespread disease make up a “healthy” ecosystem. Is this the legacy you want to leave to future generations – or are you just too “busy” to care?

Note: This article and many more like it can be found in The Outdoorsman magazine. Please click this link to a PDF page where you can print out a form and subscribe to the magazine. The work of George Doval, editor of The Outdoorsman, is arguably the finest work to be found anywhere in print or online publications.

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DNA Studies – Smaller Native Wolves Existed in Northern Rockies before Canadian Wolf Transplant

By George Dovel (Republished with Permission)

In the Jan-Mar 2008 Outdoorsman Bulletin No. 26, the lead articled titled, “What They Didn’t Tell You about Wolf Recovery,” described the ongoing deception by federal and state biologists in their scheme to fill rural areas in the lower 48 states with wolves.

The article referred to 20 years of Dept. of Interior Solicitors (lawyers) changing the number of N. American wolf subspecies covered in the Endangered Species Act from 24, finally to two and back to four – and then to any or all wolves called “gray wolves” or “Canis lupus”. Then it told how FWS reclassified ESA-listed wolves as members of two “Distinct Population Segments”, which it later changed to three until a federal judge denounced the obvious attempt to circumvent the ESA.

The ongoing debate between wildlife scientists who classify species, concerns whether subspecies of elk (red deer), North American bison, grey wolves, etc., exist. Bona fide expert taxonomists include Dr. Valerius Geist who points out that changes in location, habitat, size and appearance alone do not necessarily change the genetic make-up to qualify an animal as a separate sub-specie.

However the Northern Rocky Mountains wolf subspecies – C. l. Irremotus – was documented by physical comparisons of skulls, etc., from larger wolves in 1959:

Page 2 of the 146-page FWS Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan dated August 3, 1987, contains the map showing the historical distribution of Canis lupus Irremotus in the lower 48 states, plus the 1987 distribution in black. It depicts immigration of Irremotus from southern British Columbia into Idaho and from B.C. or southern Alberta into the northwest corner of Montana.

It also shows the two 1987 Irremotus population areas in central Idaho, one of which included the three wolf pack territories mapped by Tim Kimmery between 1988 and 1991 (see Outdoorsman Bulletin No. 35).

Historical Impact on Wolf Subspecies

During the most recent (Pleistocene) ice age, water evaporating from the oceans became part of the glacial ice covering the land. Ocean levels dropped 300 feet or more and the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska dried up.
The exposed land bridge with little snow, later named Beringia, became a refuge for hardy Siberian animals and plants for several thousand years (see below).

Many scientists believe Beringia included a small human population from Siberia that was prevented from continuing into North America for 5,000 years by the North American ice sheets. Geologists report these continental ice sheets were 5,000-10,000 feet in depth and extended south in some places to the 40th Parallel below what is now the U.S.-Canadian border.

The artists’ three views of Beringia published by “Wikipedia” illustrate the changes that have occurred in the “Bering Land Bridge” during the last 18,000 years. But there is still disagreement among biologists about when, where and how several current mammal species first arrived on the North American Continent.

Subspecies Had Limited Opportunity to Crossbreed

Since 1995 a number of wildlife biologists have accepted the determination by Nowak that five subspecies of gray wolf (Canus lupus) inhabited North America during the early 20th Century. There is also agreement that Canis lupus occidentalis (the large gray wolf transplanted to Yellowstone and Central Idaho by FWS in 1995) had virtually no opportunity to influence the genetic make-up of coastal wolves in SE Alaska and Yukon and portions of five other Canadian Provinces where it existed.

For thousands of years the ice between interior Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia and the coastal area prevented the occidentalis wolves from mixing with the smaller wolves defined as C. lupis ligoni by Goldman in 1944. And the intensive efforts to kill all wolves in the early 1900s also left few of the large wolves alive in most areas where they might have mixed with the native wolves.

The map below in the study titled, “Legacy Lost: genetic variability and population size of extirpated U.S. gray wolves (Canis lupis),” published by Leonard et al in the 2005 Vol. 14 issue of Molecular Ecology, shows the five primary subspecies that existed in the early 1900s. The bold black line indicates the northern limit of gray wolf eradication that occurred in the 48 contiguous United States and Canada.

In 1995, C.l. nubilus, the primary subspecies common in the U.S. and Canada mainland included ligoni from the west coast of Canada, irremotus from the Northern Rocky Mountains and labradorius from Labrador. The “a” to “z” letters scattered on the map represent original locations of the various museum specimens whose DNA were recorded in the study.

A similar study titled, “Phylogeography of wolves (Canis lupus) in the Pacific Northwest”, by Weckworth et al (published in the 2010 (2) issue of the Journal of Mammology) used basically the same map, along with an expanded inset to illustrate locations of testing for the genetic difference between the smaller coastal wolves and the 30% larger occidentalis wolves from the Alaska and Yukon interiors.

Both of these DNA studies emphasize that the nubilus wolves migrated northward to populate Canada as the ice sheets and glaciers melted. They point out that the smaller wolves existed in the south before the larger wolves migrated into northern Canada, and the Weckworth study suggests the coastal wolves should be listed as a separate individual subspecies.

Court Allows Transplants – Then Orders Removal

Readers who actively opposed the FWS option to import Canadian wolves may recall the following events:
In 1994 the Farm Bureau, Audubon Society and other plaintiffs asked the Wyoming Federal District Court to halt wolf introduction because it could not legally occur where naturally occurring wolves already existed per the 10J Rule. But instead of issuing an injunction to halt the process while the arguments were presented, Judge Downes allowed FWS to go ahead and transplant Canadian wolves into Central Idaho and Yellowstone Park for three years until he issued his ruling in December of 1997.

Then after setting aside the final wolf introduction rules as unlawful, Judge Downes ordered FWS to remove all Canadian wolves and their progeny from both experimental population areas. This ruling was met with loud criticism by the wolf activists, including the state and federal wildlife agencies who apparently believed they could get by with ignoring both state and federal laws when it suited their agenda.

Judge “Passes the Buck” to Appeals Court

They quickly pointed out that it would not be possible to even locate most of the wolves – much less capture them. But even if that were possible, both Canadian Provinces refused to allow the wolves to return and there were not enough zoos willing to accept several hundred wild wolves so killing most was the only option.

Judge Downes could have prevented this disaster from occurring by simply putting wolf introduction on hold three years earlier until his decision was reached. But the second time he did essentially the same thing by later staying execution of his removal order pending an appeals decision by the 10th Circuit Court.

On January 13, 2000, five years after the first large Canadian wolves were introduced, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the December 1998 Wyoming District Court ruling that the reintroduction program was unlawful and should be revoked. The appeals court admitted that the evidence showed native irremotus wolves already existed when the larger Canadian wolves were introduced, but said FWS had the authority to determine what constituted a population.
The fact that the resident wolves coexisted with abundant big game populations and with negligible impact on livestock and human activity was already a matter of record in 1994. But on August 12, 1994, FWS Wolf Leader Ed Bangs sent a letter to Charles Lobdell telling him to stop issuing statements to the public advising that the number of reported resident wolves was increasing.

Bangs’ letter advised that FWS planned to introduce wolves from Canada and said: “From this day forward…confirmed wolf activity (will only include) individual wolves or members of packs that have been examined, radio-collared and monitored in the wild.” He also said he had transferred $9,000 to the FWS Boise Field Office to search for wolves and organize flights to locate any radio-collared wolves that might be in Idaho or the Yellowstone area during the summer and fall.

Bangs also included key issues to be presented to the public consistently by FWS:
“1. (I)t is likely that wolf populations would ultimately recover without reintroduction and breeding pairs of wolves would likely occur in Idaho before they would occur (in) Yellowstone.

4. Experimental populations will not knowingly contain a significant portion of the territory of any naturally occurring breeding pair that has successfully raised young. However once wolves are released all wolves in the area will be treated as experimental animals.”

Despite reported wolf sightings by more then 120 outfitters, trappers and others in less than two months, most in the same location where Kemery mapped three wolf pack areas from 1988-1991, and despite the USFS road closure to protect existing wolves (see Bulletin 35), Bangs dumped Canadian wolves halfway between the two known native wolf locations guaranteeing their extermination.

In February of 2012, I forwarded the Weckworth DNA study, without comment, to Dr. Valerius Geist. The following was his reply:

“Thank you, George, I have seen this study. To me it suggests that there was indeed a remnant of native wolves in Idaho that were finally done away with by introduced wolves from Canada. The native wolves would have been of the same clad as the coastal wolves. Anyway, that’s testable since some museum specimens of native Idaho wolves are still available for genetic analysis. However, somebody competent and trustworthy needs to do it. Cheers, Val Geist.”

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