November 24, 2017

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:

IsleRoyaleMooseGraph

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.

Donley

 

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.

CostToHuntGraph

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.”

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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)

From: fred.trevey@idfg.idaho.gov
To: mcmule@msn.com
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.

SPORTSMAN’S COFFEE —– SEPTEMBER 9, 2014
–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 http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/internal/email/contact/confluence/2014_0521_IDFG_ConfluenceCafeSummary.pdf 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 http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/internal/email/contact/confluence/IDaho_ISTS_PTD.pptx). 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)

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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.

Epilogue

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 http://www.farcountrypress.com/details.php?id=575 – 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

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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.

Oldhistorical

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.

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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

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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

Note: The link to the right of this page for The Outdoorsman will provide a PDF copy of what can be printed out and mailed to subscribe to The Outdoorsman.

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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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Why Do Hunters Keep Supporting the Culture of Corruption in Our State Fish and Game Agencies?

*Editor’s Note* The following article appears in the May-July 2013, issue of The Outdoorsman, Bulletin 52. It is republished here with permission from the author. I encourage every reader to subscribe to The Outdoorsman. You can see instructions and information in the right sidebar on the front page of this blog. Thank you.

The Commercialization of Hunting & Fishing

In his article titled, “Why Johnny Won’t (Be Able to) Hunt,” in the Dec 2012-Apr 17, 2013 Outdoorsman, John Street said evidence of the start of “Commercialization of Hunting (and Fishing)” points to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although that is the period when state fish and game agencies began to misuse limited draw hunts and other schemes to increase their income, the commercialization actually began as World War II ended in 1945.

The arms and ammunition and other manufacturers of the tools of war realized they were losing their number one customer – Uncle Sam. They joined with assorted manufacturers, airline and other travel companies, and retailers that provided food, lodging and outdoor recreation supplies in a massive campaign to create new markets.

The Wildlife Management Institute, run by the former first Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Ira Gabrielson, was funded primarily by arms and ammunition manufacturers. After visiting two-thirds of the states and two Canadian Provinces, Gabrielson provided each with an individual book of game management recommendations that claimed to be based on biological science.

Yet a common theme in his recommendations was increasing the number of non-resident big game hunters to harvest surplus animals in remote areas that he said were adversely impacting their natural food supply.

For example, he said mule deer and elk populations in Idaho’s Primitive Area exceeded the carrying capacity of their winter range. He also said populations elsewhere in the state provided plenty of animals for residents to harvest, and pointed out that creating a second $1.00 deer tag on the Middle Fork had not justified the extra money required for locals to access that area by pack string or airplane.

Concerns for Idaho Big Game

But in the Big Game Section of its Twenty-first Biennial Report for 1945-46, IDFG pointed out nearly a 100% increase in nonresident hunters in one year, from 422 in 1945 to 824 in 1946. Then it expressed the following concerns:
“The nation has had the greatest sales publicity program that so far has been experienced. Resorts, dude ranches, airlines, railroads, sporting arms manufacturers, sporting magazines and many other concerns have used game popularity as an aid in their advertising. Game and fish are definite attractions meriting public enthusiasm, but it is time to give some thought to how we can meet this increasing demand.

“Discriminating use of airplanes for removal of game from mountains near state and forest landing fields in remote areas has been desirable. However in 1946 we suddenly experienced a large increase in plane use…especially private planes. Planes fly to remote areas from out of state, obtain game, and fly out without ever stopping in Idaho except to land and hunt in those areas. Local planes fly in and out with little likelihood of being checked by game department personnel.”

Vulnerability is the Key

Before WMI and biologists began to exploit our big game, our wildlife managers knew that vulnerability is the most important consideration when establishing season lengths. By 1945 and 1946, deer hunting seasons in eastern Idaho, where hunters had reasonably easy access to mule deer, lasted only 10 days, from October 21 to October 30.

Less accessible deer and elk herds elsewhere with more ability for animals to avoid hunters were hunted from Oct. 5 to Nov. 10 and the most remote backcountry deer herds were hunted from Sept. 25 to Nov. 10. Panhandle deer, mostly white-tails, were hunted from Nov. 1-30.

Because Idaho big game check stations historically recorded only about one-third of the deer hunters kill, the 1946 deer kill of 26,936 reported at check stations reflected an actual statewide deer harvest of perhaps 80,000 deer. The 26,936 was considered excessive so the Idaho Fish & Game Commission cut the 10 days in November from the tail end of most deer seasons in 1947, reporting it was done to reduce stress and excessive weight loss during the rut when mule deer are much more vulnerable.

Despite an increase in the number of hunters in 1947, the statewide harvest recorded at check stations decreased by 8,041 deer to 18,895. Reducing the 37-day seasons by the 10 days in the rut when the deer were more vulnerable reduced the recorded harvest by 30 percent.

Statewide harvests recorded at check stations for the next three years stabilized at 21,924, 22,285 and 22,578, indicating sustained annual harvests of about 67,000 deer. But nearly 50 years of restoring big game herds was about to undergo a dramatic change.

WMI Restructured State Fish & Game Agencies

In 1951, Gabrielson and his D.C.-based biologists were again hired by the 33 State and Provincial wildlife managers to re-organize their agencies. These changes included putting both fish and game management under a single boss, and hiring biologists to provide input to allow maximum sustained harvests of optimum game for the available food supply (see IDFG 1951-1952 Biennial Report).

In 1951, IDFG biologists doubled the deer harvest on the Boise River and increased the statewide harvest recorded at check stations by 47%, from 22,578 in 1950 to 33,250 in 1951! That also included a record white-tailed deer harvest of 3,786 (11 % of the total recorded deer kill).

That represented a probable kill of 100,000 deer and the 33,250 deer was, and still is, the highest number of deer ever checked through Idaho big game check stations in a single hunting season. Despite record snow depths in the winter that followed, the biologists convinced IDFG Director Murray not to feed the starving deer and elk “in order to prevent damage to the winter range.”

The massive starvation losses set their increased harvest program back, but they continued to offer thousands of permits to hunt elk, deer and antelope in 12 game preserves. They also expanded either-sex general elk and deer seasons and in 1954 replaced controlled hunts and bucks-only hunts with lengthy general either-sex seasons.

The Owyhee County Mule Deer Slaughter

In 1946, IDFG Wardens had trapped 172 mule deer at a Boise Valley feed site and released them near Murphy in Owyhee County to supplement the local herd. Then, curtailed hunting and intensive predator control, including widespread use of 1080 poison, resulted in excessive deer populations in much of Owyhee County.

In 1956 game wardens recommended opening a three-day hunt on the State’s general season opening date to prevent excessive numbers of hunters from harassing Owyhee deer that had never been hunted. Instead, biologists scheduled the hunt before the statewide season opener and widely advertised it in California and other states to attract thousands of hunters and would-be hunters.

On opening day, 4,600 deer were checked through just the Marsing check station, with the 3-day kill at all three check stations on the access roads at 9,960! The kill recorded at the same three Owyhee check stations in 1957 was 8,756 in a 3-day hunt again described as “a war zone.”

Several buck racks appeared to qualify for Boone and Crockett listing yet none of them were ever recorded. In the mid-1950s large mule deer racks from the Owyhee, Big Creek and Soda Springs areas were common but most hunters expressed no interest in having them scored.

The Trophy Mania

As deer and elk populations and harvests declined, outdoor writers made it appear that all a person needed to collect a trophy elk or deer was to book a hunt in a remote area, with guides that were automatically skilled hunters and trackers. Lawyers and businessmen from the East and California, along with a smattering of construction workers, firemen, etc., began to replace the handful of bona fide trophy hunters who hunted Idaho’s remote country.

When I began outfitting and guiding to help a back country neighbor who was trying to sell his ranch and outfitting business, it was easy to call in one or two bull elk daily during the mid-September portion of the hunting season. But by 1966, mature bull elk were becoming very scarce, although it was still possible for an experienced guide to find two mature 4-point mule deer bucks for each hunter in a few remote areas (see photo below).

twohunters

Author with two hunters from Texas posing with the first two partially-caped mule deer they killed in a remote part of Unit 26, on the first day of their September 1966 hunt in Idaho.

In my experience, most hunters given the opportunity to kill mule deer of either sex before the rut, will select a prime mature buck over a female or yearling buck. But the media-generated obsession to take home a buck with a large rack after the rut has rendered the meat less desirable, is called “trophy mania” by Dr. Val Geist.

In addition to being North America’s undisputed authority on deer species, Val Geist has been a lifelong big game hunter. He accurately predicted that holding special “trophy hunts” during the mule deer and elk ruts would threaten public lands hunting and scientific management.

While Wyoming wildlife managers denounced the use of mule deer and elk “trophy” hunts scheduled in the rut or on winter range, IDFG biologists nearly doubled the length of the either-sex mule deer and elk seasons in the back country. Instead of admitting the harvest declines in both species, they ignored the obvious downward trend in check station and hunter reports, and began to exaggerate published harvests in their flawed phone survey (see back-to-back examples over 2 decades in the following chart:)

chart

I quit outfitting in 1967 and, believing that truth would triumph over the bureaucrats’ lies, began publishing The Outdoorsman in tabloid format in May of 1969. Then as now, biologists spent a lot of their time and sportsmen’s license money attacking the whistle-blowers, but 4-1/2 years later it was obvious that many thousands of hunters from the lower 48 States and Alaska cared enough about the wildlife they owned and harvested to demand an end to the biologists’ corruption and lying.

IDFG Admitted Falsifying Known Harvests

A Legislative Audit of IDFG conducted by James Defenbach from 1968-1971 reported that IDFG officials admitted they knew population and harvest figures were much lower than the figures they published. F&G Director Dick Woodworth was fired by Gov. Cecil Andrus and his replacement, Joe Greenley, instructed his biologists to remove the exaggerated phone survey figures and use only the mandatory report totals for the preceding decade.

He also insisted they continue to publish only the actual animals reported killed by hunters until a survey, designed by an expert and verified to maintain statistical accuracy over time, was in place. But after he retired and was replaced by Jerry Conley in 1980, Greenley’s policy of providing accurate information was abandoned.

From 1980-1985 inflation increased actual costs by about 30%, yet in those five years Conley doubled the money IDFG spent annually. This resulted from dozens of UN/Nature Conservancy programs he implemented while his biologists falsely assured the F&G Commissioners they had secured donations and grants to pay for them.

Ignoring Biology – IDFG Added Thousands of Limited Controlled Hunts Solely to Increase Its Revenue

Instead, they increased the number and cost of hunters’ license, tag and special permits fees to pay for the environmental programs. But even worse, they added an average of more than 8,000 limited draw deer hunts and more than 10,000 limited draw elk hunts to the handful that existed in 1980 when Greenley retired.

Most of these hunts were simply “bonus” hunts in units where one or more general season hunts already existed for that species. They provided a special privilege hunt during a period when the deer or elk were more vulnerable for those who were willing to gamble for the chance to hunt when more game is available to fewer hunters, and less effort is required to harvest an animal.

The Result of Selling Chances for Special Privilege Trophy Hunts Instead of Managing Wildlife

When Idaho Representative Dr. Fred Wood was an Idaho F&G Commissioner, he praised his special draw hunt for a mule deer buck in Nevada where few, if any, other hunters were encountered and the chance to harvest a mature 4-point buck was good. Unlike Dr. Geist, Commissioner Wood apparently believed that allowing a limited number of hunters to kill trophy bucks when they are most vulnerable would perpetuate them without maintaining a healthy ratio of predators to prey.

The failure of NDOW biologists to properly control predators, even with a fund legislators appropriated for that purpose several years ago, has been cited by bona fide experts as the primary reason for the current decline in Nevada mule deer and sage grouse. On Jan. 30, 2013, As a result of this ongoing dispute, NDOW Director Ken Mayer resigned as directed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Greedy Biologists Have Created a Terrific Mess

Meanwhile Idaho continues to top other states in destruction of its former billion-dollar renewable wildlife resource, and perversion of the so-called “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.” For several decades it blamed farmers and ranchers for its own mismanagement and, beginning in the 1980s, IDFG used a combination of general seasons and limited controlled hunts extending from mid-Summer into December to raise extra money.

A classic example of this continuing through 2013 is the 2,615 square mile unit 39 with five general and four controlled deer seasons from Aug. 15, through Dec. 16; and three general and three controlled elk seasons from Sept. 8, through Dec. 31. There are only four days in that 4-1/2 month (138 day) total season when hunters cannot legally kill one or both species, and several of the seasons either allow or require the killing of female deer or elk.

With elk and deer populations and harvests hitting a new record low in 1993, and the longest big game hunting seasons in nearly a century, many farmers and ranchers suffered extensive hunter-caused damage. The change from reasonable seasons to much longer total seasons also interfered with the harvest of crops and/or the grazing, gathering and handling of stock, so landowners who had previously allowed limited hunting shut it off.

This was compounded by the purchase of Idaho farms and ranches by wealthy non-hunters from other states. Many of them not only closed their property to all hunting but halted access across it to public lands.

LAP Tags – Part of the Unresolved Mess

Landowner Appreciation Program (LAP) tags were theoretically implemented to be sure landowners in units with no general season got a tag to hunt the species on their own land every year. But in reality, about one-third of the 3,000 or so LAP tags for deer, elk and antelope are for limited antlered or either-sex controlled hunt permits that are highly coveted by wealthy trophy hunters.

Although Idaho law prohibits any tag holder from selling their tag to another person, it also allows the F&G Commission to proclaim the annual LAP rules. Both I.C. Sec. 36-104(b)5(B) and the 24-page proclamation titled, “Idaho 2013 Landowner Appreciation Program,” clearly allow the landowner to designate an “agent” who will receive the tag and use it.

The F&G Commission recommends charging an access fee to hunt on the landowner’s property as a monetary reward to the landowner for allowing people to hunt there. If large bucks and/or bulls are there during the season, this fee could be very high to the designated hunter – especially if no one else is allowed to hunt there.

But what can the landowner charge if the animals are not present during the hunting season? The LAP tag allows the hunter to hunt anywhere in the unit or units covered by the limited controlled hunt, so he can hunt on public land – or on other private land where the animals are if he satisfies that landowner’s monetary requirements.

LAP tags for bucks or bulls in some Units are highly desirable with a high success rate and a high percent of four-point or larger deer and 6-pt or larger elk. Drawing odds of one-in-ten or higher make these LAP permits very valuable and the high number of LAP tags in these units prompt LAP recipients to keep lobbying for the right to advertise and sell them.

Are There Any Trophies That Qualify for B&C?

If any deer or elk with antlers qualified for entry in the Boone and Crocket Record Book exist in Idaho today, they are probably in areas closed to general public hunting. To produce trophy racks repeatedly, a unit must not only have animals with the proper genetics and nutrients, it must also limit the killing of males younger than eight years old in order to produce trophies in the future.

The attempt by states like Utah to let landowners and even state parks produce valuable record-book heads for sale to the highest bidder ultimately raises the entry bar even higher for other trophy hunters. Among the things IDFG officials have tried to bribe me with, to make me stop telling the truth about their corruption, is telling me where to take my family to harvest big game.

I have rejected their bribes for two reasons: First, my goal is to stop the corruption and restore honesty – not become part of the problem; Second, I know far more about game in my area than any biologist as do several readers who communicate with me from other areas.

The following photo, taken on February 14, 2013 before the buck had dropped its antlers, shows an Idaho mule deer with the type of antler growth that might qualify for the B&C Record Book in another few years if it continues to avoid hunters and predators:

muledeer

Idaho Mule deer buck with does and fawn, photo by Outdoorsman reader who I respect enough not to publish his name or location.

One reason this buck has survived even this long is no hunting is allowed during the rut in the unit it inhabits. Another is the deer are scattered on hard-to-access summer range during the limited hunting season.

Current Spending Even Higher Than Conley

From 1980-2012 inflation increased actual costs of equipment, labor, etc. by 178.6% or 2.786 times the 1980 F&G budget of $10,335,300. Yet actual IDFG expenditures in 2012 were nine times higher and the agency can’t keep blaming that on Jerry Conley who left in 1996!

IDFG’s claim that it was forced to accept these extra programs is a flagrant lie. As we have thoroughly documented, it either lobbied the Legislature to approve every one of these programs – or brazenly violated Idaho law to install and operate The TNC Conservation Data Center, authorize wolf transplants, participate in the CWCS/State Wildlife Action Plan fiasco, etc.

I also documented the fact that, in these extremely costly programs, IDFG lied to the F&G Commission when it claimed to have adequate donations to match the federal money. At its website under “wildlife/nongame” it says: “The Wildlife Diversity Program works to protect almost 10,000 species. That is 97% of Idaho’s biodiversity! From songbirds, raptors, bats, squirrels, frogs, and lizards, to thousands of insects and other invertebrates, as well as Idaho’s native plants.”

With another record low mule deer harvest in 2012 and no biologically sound attempt to correct it, hunters who have not already quit hunting continue to support the F&G lottery to help pay for the destruction of their game and their hunting heritage. If you are one of them, I urge you to read the following article describing how our wildlife agencies support and implement the United Nations Agenda 21, Sustainable Development and Biodiversity.

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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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