December 13, 2019

Moore Rebuts Whiny, Wimpy, Wolf Wuvers

This from Virgil Moore, Director Idaho Department of Fish and Game:

It’s important for state agencies to understand and respect differing points of view. But when a few advocacy groups try to grab headlines by skewing Idaho Fish and Game scientific wolf monitoring data in ways that simply aren’t true, it’s also important to set the record straight.

Here are the facts:

* Idaho has more than 100 documented wolf packs and over 600 wolves. Idaho’s wolf population far exceeds federal recovery levels of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves.

* After meeting federal recovery levels in 2002, Idaho’s wolf population grew largely unchecked for the remainder of the decade, resulting in increased conflicts with other big game populations and livestock.

* After 4 harvest seasons since the 2011 delisting, livestock depredations have declined. Wolf predation continues to have unacceptable impacts to some elk populations, but there are signs elk populations are responding positively to wolf management.

* Wolves in Idaho continue to be prolific and resilient. Idaho will keep managing wolves to have a sustainable, delisted population and to reduce conflicts with people, livestock, and other big game populations.

Despite these facts, a few advocacy groups chose to take the breeding pair metric out of context to make claims that Idaho wolves are “teetering on the brink of endangered status once again.” That’s hogwash. And it’s the kind of polarizing misinformation that undermines responsible wildlife conservation and management in Idaho.

Confirming a pack meets U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s narrow definition of a “breeding pair” is costly and labor-intensive. With vast reductions in federal funding to the state and Nez Perce Tribe for wolf monitoring, Fish and Game has focused our effort on demonstrating Idaho has at least 15 “breeding pairs” to comply with federal recovery requirements. Idaho closely surveyed 30 packs and confirmed that 22 of them met the breeding pair standard at the end of 2014. Because Idaho has shown it is well above federal recovery levels, we may rely on less intensive monitoring for the other 70 + packs as we complete our final 2014 population estimates. One can assume these 70+ packs include some additional breeding pairs. We will publish our annual monitoring report in March.

As trained scientists, Idaho Fish and Game stands by our data and our wildlife management plans. We manage wolves to ensure we keep state management authority and address conflicts with people, livestock, and other big game populations.

I hope people who truly care about wildlife conservation ignore the exaggerations and misinformation and help Fish and Game focus on the real issues affecting Idaho’s wildlife.

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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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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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Idaho Fish and Game: Contempt, Corruption, Collusion, or Just Outright Incompetence?

A guest blog by Barry Coe –

Having been born and raised in Idaho and as a lifelong sportsman of this state, I have had many issues with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) over the years. I have witnessed their actions on several issues that have directly lead to diminished fish and wildlife, and diminished sporting opportunities. In attempting to be involved and to protect our culture and interests, I have had one very consistent attitude and response from the agency that has become very proficient at taking whatever position they seem to think will best further their own agenda. That attitude is pure and raw contempt. And no other issue has exposed and proven this contempt more than the Canadian wolf introduction has.

IDFG has attempted to take the ‘we hold no blame’ position concerning wolves in this state. I feel it has been well proven that they, in fact, hold a large percentage of blame. A prior director actually wrote support letters to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and drafted an illegal permit that allowed the Canadian wolves to be dumped into this state in a blaring contempt for Idaho state code. It was so contemptuous that the Idaho state legislature actually reacted to the action, although they failed to implement accountability. Yet those were the days before the Internet and the ability to transfer information quickly and thoroughly throughout the population. Those were the days of running under the radar and outright collusion between state and federal agencies. There is little doubt in my mind, and I suspect anyone with more than a cursory knowledge of this issue would agree, that outright collusion between IDFG and the USFWS did, and continue, to take place. Wolves, grizzly bears, soon to be wolverines and all other claimed endangered species are a vast source of federal dollars and we all know, IDFG loves nothing like they love the federal dollar.

In a recent article, Jim (salt shaker) Hayden (IDFG Panhandle Regional Wildlife Manager) made yet another revealing comment. In this interview “Salt Shaker” Hayden seemed surprised that about 50% of the wolves harvested in this current wolf season have come from areas that IDFG didn’t even know contained wolves. Now, on the surface this comment may seem unimportant, yet when one considers the past 16 years, it’s importance is almost undefinable.

I have to ask this question of Mr. Hayden. Just exactly how can you manage a declining elk population when you obviously have no concept of the level of predation impacting those elk?

For years IDFG took the politically correct avenue of clinging onto the obviously and intentionally low official numbers of wolves. As hunters and outdoorsmen screamed from the rafters that those numbers were so far off it was incredible, IDFG turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. After all, the federal bucks were rolling in and the hunters were still buying licenses and tags. All was well and good at IDFG. Biologists were being hired (most directly out of the wolf introduction program) and the rumblings were contained to a small population of people who never knew how to get the truth out, especially in the face of IDFG and green eco-groups. The old tactic of ignoring and marginalizing was rolling along just fine.

It was only in the last year or two that IDFG was forced to admit that, ‘well, golly, okay, so our wolf population is around 1000 wolves’. Again the sportsmen and sportswomen of Idaho claimed that number was also an intentional down playing of the actual number of wolves in Idaho. As we witnessed the great elk herds disappear from first hand observation, IDFG still clung to the deceit that all was fine. They twisted a few numbers here, changed a few “objectives” there, rewrote a few algorithms, adjusted some seasons and continued to play both sides of the fence. After all, this has always been the status quo for this department. The level of contempt IDFG obviously has for anyone outside of the department or the federal system is amazingly apparent.

Wolf math just is not that hard. They breed like rabbits, yet have no predators. The lie just became too hard to cover up anymore and so, the science changed – I use science here with my tongue stuffed soundly into my cheek. For a decade we had manipulated science stuffed down our throats that exonerated their revenue generating wolves from any cause of any problem we were experiencing anywhere in the state they inhabited. When it became obvious that the truth was coming out, and that delisting was imminent, in spite of the department’s best efforts to keep them listed, and even drafting and submitting an illegal wolf management plan, they decided to flip over. In typical IDFG fashion, the wolves were now the cause of it all! Boy, aren’t we happy that they finally have seen the light! After all we have been telling them this for 10 years.

But, they now face a wiser and more connected sportspeople. We’re not buying it and they know it. We are now very informed and politically connected; we have communication outlets and media connections. But again, in true IDFG fashion, they have decided to try another avenue to generate their revenue. They want nothing worse than to have the hunters of this state out of the equation. We no longer forget past actions or play in the manner they want us to, paying more for less. They now turn to the tactic of pandering and collusion.

In what seems on the surface to be a politically correct action of seeking information concerning wildlife management in the state of Idaho, they have committed a few obvious mistakes that exposed their true intention. Their highly publicized ‘Summit’ was rolled out as that meeting. Conducted DURING hunting season, and with invitations extended to several anti-hunting, eco-green groups, and a group of actual past and present IDFG employees, IDFG now wants input on wildlife management. And, they want that input from everyone that doesn’t pay for it or expect the department to do anything other than perpetuate predators and sustain their job at all costs.

Rumor has it that this little summit has caused a rift in the ranks. It seems to have been generated right from the new director Virgil Moore; or at least that is where all the fingers are pointing. It seems that this long-time employee of IDFG, and new director, is attempting to return to the status quo of ignore and move forward. Instead of moving in the direction of attempting to get out from under the wolf issue, he now seems to want to change gears and get back in bed with the green, wildlands agenda, and he wants their money. Public input on management? How quaint! If only it didn’t reek of corruption, contempt and collusion. If, in fact, this is the brain child of Mr. Moore, he just flatly needs to go; it is far past time to get a director that is not a long time member of the IDFG’s good old boys club. We have flatly had enough! I suspect if our legislature is not willing to overhaul this department, the time has come to turn to the citizen and the ballot box. We have one very powerful tool at our disposal; initiatives, which are binding if passed and can be used to circumvent a lack of appropriate action by those in government. They do have the ability to change this department in ways that will both form the department in a manner the citizens of Idaho want and to also bring accountability to this long-time rogue department. The good old boys club must be dismantled.

Actual wolf numbers? Let’s return to Jim “Salt Shaker” Hayden for a few moments. I have heard sportsmen and women, who spend an immense amount of time in the outdoors, claim the wolf numbers in Idaho are at least double what IDFG claims. It now seems “Salt Shaker” Hayden has validated those claims. And in that claim, his statement speaks volumes. It is very sad that a department that is charged with the management of Idaho’s wildlife have failed so miserably, and stayed the course of ignoring sportspeople to the extent they have. There are but a few explanations for this miserable failure: Corruption, Collusion or outright incompetence. I will leave it to you to decide which it is or how much longer you are going to stand for it.

Barry Coe
Save Western Wildlife

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