*Editor’s Note* – The below is perhaps the most comprehensive, historic, and accurate account of events surrounding the introduction of wolves and Idaho wildlife management, ever presented. Readers should bookmark this page as a resource to reference facts in this regard. Thank you George Dovel.
By George Dovel – The Outdoorsman: Republished with permission, all rights reserved.
In October of 2007, Biology Letters published a research report by UCLA Professor Robert Wayne and his former PhD candidate Jennifer Leonard titled, “Native Great Lakes wolves were not restored.” It described two years of nuclear genetic testing of 68 Great Lakes area wolves, and finding that most were crossbreeds of coyotes and a Canadian subspecies of wolf.
The report said 69% of them did not have any of the same genes found in 17 wolves collected from the Great Lakes area between 1905 and 1912. Unlike the 17 100-year-old wolf samples, none of the 68 more recent wolves tested were all wolf.
The realization that protected wolf subspecies have been replaced with a Duke’s mixture of mongrel canids shocked many who read it for the first time, including the media. But when the media contacted Eastern Gray Wolf Recovery Team Leader Rolph Peterson for his comments concerning the “startling news”, he said they had known all along that the wolves were cross breeding with coyotes.
In fact both Peterson and wolf expert David Mech were members of Professor Wayne’s research team 17 years earlier when they published their conclusion that wolves in the wild often bred dogs or coyotes that produced fertile offspring. A 1970 study report by Mech was cited to help support that 1990 conclusion.
Mech Provided 24 Alleged North American Wolf Sub-species to American Society of Mammalogists in 1974
On May 2, 1974, the ASM published a list of 24 North American wolf subspecies provided by Mech, which was originally produced by Goldman from 1929-1941. Although many taxonomists argue there is only one gray wolf species, or at best a handful of gray wolf subspecies, having such a long list would have allowed more wolves to be listed as threatened or endangered in more locations.
Dr. Val Geist has often explained to hostile judges and lawyers that a different subspecies, regardless of changes in body size and/or appearance, can only exist if there is a genetic adaptation to a different environment. Temporary changes in appearance, body size, etc. occurring because of a change in environment, but not involving changes in genes, are simply adjustments that will be reversed after a few generations if the species returns to its original environment.
In a 1992 article in Great Britain’s prestigious Nature magazine, Geist warned that taxonomists’ failure to correctly identify species and subspecies would allow lawyers and judges to determine what species or subspecies are legal, and allow them to decide which listings will be protected. During the next 22 years, Geist and other senior scientists continued to publish the criteria for listing subspecies, but their expert advice has been largely ignored.
In Response to criticisms that some of the wolves on Mech’s 1974 ASM list did not qualify as separate subspecies, he agreed yet nothing changed. During the two decades before Canadian wolves were transplanted into Idaho and Yellowstone Park, Department of Interior solicitors (lawyers) changed the number of listed Gray Wolf subspecies to from five to only a single species.
Citizens often asked, “If there is only one or even a handful of grey wolf subspecies and biologists say there are up to 65,000 in North America, why are they endangered?” The vague answer was, “They create healthy ecosystems.”
Wolf/Dog Hybrids Officially Not Protected
In 1996 FWS began promoting a proposed rule to protect wolf hybrids if the hybrid’s actions and appearance resemble the parent that is being protected. But the proposal was never finalized so FWS withdrew it in February of 2001, and issued an official statement that wolf/dog hybrids would never be protected.
Throughout the West, that official position on wolf hybrids has been more or less adhered to. For example in Montana in 2006, two sheep ranchers in the Jordan, area experienced heavy adult ewe losses plus about a 60% reduction in their lamb crop.
When the predator was verified to be a wolf, they each filed claims exceeding $20,000 in losses. But a DNA test reported it was a hybrid and neither claim was paid.
Further proof of biologists’ objection to the existence of hybrid wolves in the wild was seen in the NE corner of Washington State in March of 2014.
After learning that a large sheep guard dog had climbed a seven-foot “non-climbable” orchard fence twice to be with two female wolves in heat, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife biologists used a helicopter and a dart gun to capture the two radio-collared wolves to see if either wolf was pregnant. One pregnancy was confirmed, and WDFW Large Carnivore Manager Donny Martorello explained to the media that spaying her immediately was a better choice than trying to catch and kill all of the pups later after they were born.
But if the second female wolf was bred by the guard dog near the end of her estrous cycle, not enough time had passed for either ultrasound or blood tests to determine possible pregnancy. And what about other female wolves in heat where there are no high fences to keep them from mingling with other tame dogs?
Genetic Identification Required to Prove It’s a Wolf
X-Rays of a 97-pound wolf-like carcass found on private property and reported by a rancher in Oregon’s Grande Ronde Valley in March of 2012 did not establish the cause of death. An Oregon newspaper article later claimed that if DNA tests showed it was a wolf-dog hybrid, it was perfectly legal for an Oregon landowner or his/her agent to kill it. But if it contained only wolf genes, killing it was a “Class A” misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in Jail and a maximum fine of $6,250.
Six weeks later, on May 3, 2012, newspapers from Maine to Oregon carried versions of the same story. A reported necropsy (autopsy) of the carcass by IDFG at Idaho’s Wildlife Health Lab in Caldwell, Idaho determined the death was caused by a “person” committing “a criminal act.”
On July 12, 2012 the Oregon State Police issued a bulletin that University of Idaho DNA testing proved it was a gray wolf that originated from the Imnaha, Oregon Pack, and solicited information about the killing from the public.
We see other “news” stories describing incidents in the West that match one of the three examples cited above. Yet with all of the opportunities wolf biologists have to collect samples for molecular DNA analysis, none appear willing to provide that information to the citizens who pay for management.
“Distinct Population” Wolf Designation by FWS – An Attempt to Cover up Extinction and Wolf Hybrids
By 2003, it was obvious to FWS that the New England wolf subspecies it had listed as endangered no longer existed. And once the word got out concerning the listed Great Lakes wolf subspecies that was now a crossbred mixture of Canadian and U.S. wolves and western coyotes including some dog genes, the mess it had created needed a quick solution.
Although FWS had proposed to list the Great Lakes and Northeastern wolves as separate small “Distinct Population Segments” in 2000, in 2003 it decided to try to “solve” the mushrooming mess it had created by down-listing all gray wolves in most of the lower 48 states. To do this, it proposed changing “Subspecies” gray wolf designations to the following three “DPSs” in the April 1, 2003 Federal Register:
1. Eastern Gray Wolf DPS – included all states in the East and Midwest, except for all or parts of 16 southern and eastern states that gray wolves reportedly did not occupy historically.
2. Western Gray Wolf DPS – included the remaining states in the West.
3. Southwestern Gray Wolf DPS – included the endangered Wolves in Mexico and small portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Wolf Activists’ Proposal Rejected by FWS
In that same Federal Register, FWS proposed that all of the gray wolves in the Eastern and Western DPSs that were still listed as “Endangered” would be downgraded to “Threatened”, with the intention to de-list them next. Wolf activists, who had been pretty much “calling the shots” in return for their support, told FWS they would not sue if it agreed to restore the separate 2000 DPS proposal to recover the Northeastern Timber Wolf.
FWS responded that the few “wolf-like” animals that were occasionally seen in the Northeast were either: dogs, coyotes, or wolf hybrids. It refused to return to its 2000 proposal so the activists sued.
Federal Courts in Oregon and Vermont Voided the FWS Scheme with Its Large DPSs
In 2005, two Federal District Court Judges, first in Oregon and eight months later in Vermont, sided with the Plaintiffs (wolf activists). They found that in 1978 FWS had used its authority to declare that gray wolves were endangered throughout their former range in at least 21 Eastern states and all or portions of 19 states in the West.
They also found that the FWS had not used sound science in creating the two large DPSs, but was using them as an excuse to illegally downlist and then delist gray wolves in most of the “Lower 48” states.
Both courts found that by claiming that gray wolf recovery in three Great Lakes states and three Northern Rocky Mountain states satisfied the FWS requirement for restoring the gray wolves in all 40 or so states where it had listed them as “Endangered,” was a willful action to ignore the ESA.
FWS argued the ESA did not require it to restore wolves where they no longer existed. Yet it had claimed just the opposite in the 1978 Federal Register when it suddenly listed nonexistent gray wolves as “Endangered” in more than two million square miles of the Lower 48.
At the risk of losing the readers I am trying to reach with an article that is too long for many to read in one sitting, it has been suggested that I cite examples of nearly 50 years of wolf research reports, Federal Registers and news releases to provide undisputed facts needed in order to understand and correct “the mess” that exists.
The Mess FWS Created – and Congress Approved
References to “The mess FWS created” began when Congress passed the Endangered Species Protection Act of 1966. In 1967 FWS decided to restore two subspecies of grey wolves that it said already existed in the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes area.
In 1974, following passage of the new Endangered Species Act, FWS listed two wolf subspecies as endangered in five states, and as threatened in Minnesota. In 1976 it added two more subspecies, the so-called “red wolf” in the Southeast, and a gray wolf that reportedly had existed in Texas.
But in 1978 it suddenly ignored subspecies and listed the Gray Wolf as endangered in all but Minnesota in the lower 48 States. Declaring that extinct wolves have been “endangered” in the Lower 48 States for the past 37 years, yet with no chance to recover the non-hybrid wolf species that became extinct, is the mess with no solution that FWS created and Congress tacitly approved.
McClure, No Wolf Protection Outside of Core Areas
Idaho’s late U.S. Senator Jim McClure voted yes on all of the FWS wolf proposals and in 1988 he told the media, “Wolves are a natural part of an ecosystem that will function better with their presence.” But despite reports indicating there were already wolf packs and reproduction in both Idaho and Montana, FWS still had not submitted its revised plan to transplant Canadian wolves just into Yellowstone National Park.
In April 1990 McClure authored a bill to introduce a nonessential experimental population of wolves into YNP, and into core areas in Glacier National Park and the Idaho wilderness areas. It would have imported three breeding pairs in each location and removed all wolves from listing (protection) outside of those three core areas.
His legislation was strongly supported by wolf supporters in the media, and by most of the wolf activist groups, including Defenders of Wildlife. Although a few objected to the initial introduction of only three breeding pairs in each core area, they boldly publicized the fact that this could easily be increased later if it became necessary.
Ranchers, hunters and legislators in Idaho and Wyoming did not trust the McClure bill despite the fact it only protected wolves inside the boundaries of three small core wolf areas. McClure’s Wolf Bill failed to pass but it provided FWS with the incentive to introduce wolves, but without McClure’s citizen protection outside of core areas.
A New Committee with a New Federal Wolf Plan
In Nov. of 1990, Congress directed appointment of a federal Wolf Management Committee, composed of three Federal and three State members plus four members representing special interests, to develop a new FWS plan for wolf introduction in Yellowstone Park and the Central Idaho wilderness areas. Most of those Committee members, including Idaho Fish and Game Director Jerry Conley, strongly supported severe FWS penalties for anyone who even threw a rock in the direction of wolves attacking their livestock!
As with all such committees representing diverse interests, the few members who disagreed with the extreme penalties and could not be convinced to support them were simply outvoted by the carefully chosen majority. Once the FWS plan was approved, Conley hired fledgling Montana wolf biologist Jon Rachael to help him convince Idaho’s 7-member Wolf Oversight Committee to copy the new FWS wolf plan in an Idaho Wolf Plan.
Conley also hired Montana biologist Jerome Hansen, a co-author of the 1984 Kaminski-Hansen Idaho wolf-prey study, and assigned him to help Rachael provide its 10-year-old deer and elk population statistics to the FWS Wolf Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Wolf Oversight Committee and FWS Wolf Leader Ed Bangs Refused to Correct Exaggerated Prey Claims
Massive Central Idaho mule deer and elk losses resulted from sustained over-harvesting during the 10 years following the 1984 Kaminski-Hansen research, and from IDFG refusal to use its dedicated emergency feeding fund properly during the extreme 1992-93 winter. But instead of using current 1993 and 1994 helicopter counts in the Wolf EIS, Idaho biologists used the 10-year-old information that was now grossly inaccurate.
As chairman of the Boise County Wildlife and Endangered Species Committee, I presented IDFG, FWS and the Idaho Wolf Oversight Committee (WOC) with IDFG records showing the radical decline in the average total deer and elk density by 1993. But instead of complying with our request to halt the excessive harvest, IDFG added another 2,150 bonus deer permits and 3,955 bonus elk permits to 1993 Idaho hunting seasons.
And instead of correcting the Wolf EIS, as we requested in both 1993 and 1994, FWS and the IDFG biologists continued to publish the much larger figures from the 1984 study – claiming they were from 1994.
WOC Member Clower Told Us Lying was Justified
On Feb. 17, 1994, WOC member Don Clower arranged a meeting with Vice-Chairman Sandy Donley and me an hour before we were scheduled to testify before Rep. Golden Linford’s House Resources Committee. He told us Linford had suggested he come and talk to us (not verified) and Clower asked us not to air F&G’s “dirty linen” at the hearing.
In response to our questions, he said the WOC was aware that the deer and elk populations in the EIS were highly exaggerated. But he claimed that was necessary to “support” the rapid build-up of wolves that would occur in the FWS Nonessential Experimental Recovery option.
Both Clower and retired Boise Forest Supervisor Jack Lavin were appointed to the WOC by Conley. On March 19, 1994, WOC Co-Chairman Lavin sent a letter to FWS Wolf Team Leader Ed Bangs stating, “We would prefer wolf introduction with experimental status to no wolf introduction…”
In the August 16, 1994 Federal Register Bangs wrote: “Millions of acres of public lands contain hundreds of thousands of wild ungulates (Service 1994) and currently provide more than enough habitat to support a recovered wolf population in central Idaho.”
On Sept. 27, 1994 during the final FWS hearing on its plan to transplant Canadian wolves into Idaho, I spent an intermission with Bangs asking him to explain why he wrote “…contain hundreds of thousands of wild ungulates (Service 1994)” when he had proof it had not been true for 10 years – if ever. He responded that Congress had not yet approved funding for transplanting Canadian wolves, and said if it learned there were not enough elk and deer to maintain 100+ wolves, it would not fund the transplant.
Conley’s Written Support of the Strict FWS Wolf Plan and Permit Approving Five Years of Wolf Transplants Gave FWS Permission to Release Wolves in Idaho
At the same Sept. 27, 1994 FWS hearing by Bangs, IDFG Director Conley brazenly violated I. C. Sec. 36-107 by secretly providing Bangs with a signed and dated letter stating:
“For the record I would like to take this time to acknowledge our support for the Experimental Rules on proposed establishment of nonessential, experimental populations of gray wolves in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Specifically, a nonessential, experimental population area would be established in Idaho through regulation by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. In accordance with the Experimental Rule, we will work with the FWS, to the extent allowed by Idaho law, to reintroduce wolves from British Columbia and/or Alberta into the Idaho experimental population area.
“If you have any questions regarding this matter, please don’t hesitate to call me or one of my staff working on the wolf recovery program.”
A permit addressed to Bangs on that same day, authorized the release of a maximum of 15 wolves per year for up to five years from B.C. or Alberta, Canada at jointly agreeable Idaho release sites. It was signed and dated under Conley’s typewritten name and title by F&G Wildlife Bureau Chief Tom Reinecker.
Conley Approved the Strict Plan He Helped Write
In other words, Conley signed unconditional Idaho approval of a federal wolf plan that allowed penalties of up to a $50,000 fine and/or one year in the penitentiary for ranchers who committed any one of multiple “offenses” they were not allowed to use to protect their livestock from “nonessential experimental” wolves in the act of killing them – even on their private property.
The Plan’s refusal to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves, or for reduced calf production and decline in weight gains from stress caused by wolves, was an obvious “taking” without compensation. And the candid admission by FWS biologists that there were more than 60,000 gray wolves in Canada and Alaska indicate they were neither endangered nor threatened.
The FWS Wolf Plan that Conley helped draft in 1990 also ignored the rural citizen protections that were part of the previous proposal. This became obvious when official requests from Ada, Owyhee and Boise Counties for inclusion of protections in the Idaho Wolf Plan were rejected by Jon Rachael, and publicly ridiculed by Don Clower.
Boise County Got Protection for Other Animals
But our County Endangered Species Committee continued to insist that other domestic animals (e.g. fowl, swine, goats, etc.) and pets (i.e. dogs or cats) on private land receive the same degree of protection as other livestock (i.e. cattle, sheep, horses and mules).
The FWS Final Rule published in the Federal Register on Nov. 22, 1994 included statements that a wolf attack on domestic animals taking place on private property twice within a one year period, after five or six breeding pairs of wolves had been documented, would result in declaring it as a problem wolf and it would be removed from the area. Another attack by the same wolf would result in removal from the wild or killing.
Today, with wolves delisted, owners or agents of domestic animals including pets have authority to kill wolves that present a threat to their animals on private property without obtaining permission from any agency.
Idaho Citizens and Their Elected Representatives Knew That F&G Officials Strongly Supported Recovery
It was no secret to anyone involved in the wolf issue, including Idaho legislators, that every IDFG official at the state or regional level strongly supported wolf recovery. That is why the Idaho Legislature included the following language in Idaho Code Sec. 36-715 in 1988, “Duties of the department of fish and game regarding the endangered species act:
“(1) Since wolf-dog hybridizations are known to exist in Idaho—and are not protected by the U.S. endangered species act, a biological evaluation shall be required of the animal to determine priority before IDFG may take action in accordance with the United States ESA.
(2) The department of fish and game shall not be authorized to expend funds, transfer assets, or enter into a cooperative agreement with any agency, department or entity of the U.S. government concerning wolves unless expressly authorized by state statute.
“(3) If a wolf is sighted, the burden of proof concerning the reported presence of a wolf within Idaho shall rest with the observer and the IDFG shall take no action to enforce the U.S. ESA regarding wolves in the absence of that proof.” concerning the reported presence of a wolf within Idaho shall rest with the observer and the IDFG shall take no action to enforce the U.S. ESA regarding wolves in the absence of that proof.”
Although the language restricting IDFG from participating in wolf management was eventually removed to support the legislature’s 2002 Idaho Wolf Plan, creation of the Governor’s “Office of Species Conservation” in 2000 gave the authority to negotiate ESA agreements with federal agencies to OSC – not to IDFG. It also required IDFG to work with the OSC Administrator – the primary voice in endangered species management decisions.
In other words, IDFG officials have not had legal authority to do what Conley and Reinecker did without legislative or OSC approval since early 1988 – nearly seven years before they committed the illegal acts.
Bombshell by Three of Seven WOC Voting Members Was Too Late to Undo Conley Letters to FWS
Copies of Conley’s letter to Bangs were sent to the members of the Wolf Oversight Committee. After a majority of four voting members declined to challenge his illegal actions, the minority of three voting and one non-voting member sent a strongly-worded four-page letter to the Gray Wolf Reintroduction HQ in Helena, Montana.
It was signed by WOC Co-Chairman George Bennett and by members Ted Hoffman, DVM, Stan Boyd, Idaho Woolgrowers, and non-voting member Lois VanHoover from the Independent Miners Association.
The letter stated that many hunters and hunter organizations had contacted them and expressed bitter opposition to the proposed plan because it allowed a wildlife experiment with the potential to plunder Idaho ungulate herds with no certain controls on the results. No provision was made for reversal in the event of excessive wolf numbers, and the assumption was made that wolf recovery is desirable contrary to historical outcomes.
The letter also stated the four signers’ belief that the proposed rule was illegal, failing to fulfill the requirements of Sec. 6 of the ESA which required cooperation with the states to the maximum extent practicable, and Sec. 17 50 CFR which required agreement to the maximum extent practicable.
It charged that the consultation and cooperation by FWS has been inadequate or nonexistent. It listed two pages of deficiencies that must be corrected to prevent the four WOC members from recommending to Idaho legislators that they reject the FWS proposal and retain the existing language in I.C. Sec. 36-715 that prohibited the IDFG from participating in any wolf recovery activities without approval of the legislature.
Their letter said they would urge the legislature to further prohibit any state agency from any activity supporting the federal wolf recovery effort and that also happened when FWS ignored their request. At that point, FWS NRM Wolf Recovery Official Ed Bangs had the consent he needed from Idaho to introduce Canadian wolves, but the opportunity to get Congressional funding was apparently lost.
FWS whistle-blower Jim Beers, whose past duties included apportioning the Pittman-Robertson funding to the states, later testified twice to Congress that FWS stole $45-$60 million of P-R excise taxes from the states and used part of the stolen money to fund the trapping and transplanting of Canadian wolves into Idaho and YNP.
Reader Seeks Proof and Takes It to Post Falls Commission Meeting to Get Answers
When one of my Outdoorsman articles reported the restriction in Idaho Code Sec. 36-715(2) prohibiting IDFG from entering into any cooperative agreement with any federal agency concerning wolves, and discussed the illegal letter and permit written by Conley, a reader from North Idaho sent me a letter asking if I had proof of this.
I mailed him photocopies of the documents and he brought them to the next F&G Commission hearing in Post Falls, demanding an explanation of why Conley was allowed to disobey the law. When former Director Steve Mealey was hired to replace Conley who was forced to resign, he explained why Idaho would not have wolves if Conley had not authorized FWS to bring them here.
But Mealey was no longer living in Idaho so F&G Commissioner Randy Budge, a lawyer, claimed that Idaho was going to get wolves anyway “because they were forced on us by the federal government.” He had already tried that excuse in testimony before the House Resources Committee but Rep. JoAn Wood firmly corrected him.
Yet during the January 2010 Commission meeting, Budge insisted the information provided by citizens at two previous hearings was not accurate and encouraged his fellow Commissioners to have a fact sheet to distribute before each hearing “proving” the charges were inaccurate.
Commissioner Wheeler Sets the Record Straight
At that point Commissioner Cameron Wheeler said, “I’d like to shed a little light on it. There was a document signed by Conley at that time and I’ve read it and I know a couple of Commissioners that were on the Commission at that time – they did not give him the authority to do that, but it was signed and I’ve seen it – several legislators got it. So that’s where this comes from.
“You can like it or not like it, but that’s the truth. The feds had to have some agency that was willing to put their ‘John Henry’ on it, that’s what he did. It’ll never die.”
Commissioner Wheeler was asked, “Cameron, was the agreement that he signed they were going to introduce them whether we like it or not and so this was an agreement we will participate in management?” Wheeler responded: “No. The agreement that he signed was an agreement to cooperate in the introduction.”
None of the other Commissioners had any personal knowledge of the history of wolf recovery but despite Wheeler’s explanation of the facts to them, three insisted on handing out a “fact” sheet with limited information before each public meeting to stop the public from lambasting the Commission – rather than admitting what actually happened.
Another Commissioner asked Wheeler, “So you agree that perhaps more disclosure might be best – and state all the facts – put as much sunshine on it as we can – and present that and live with it as a principle rather than, as Randy said, try to not necessarily hide it but to disclose less than the whole story?”
Groen interrupted Wheeler before he could answer and proceeded to verbally attack the individuals and groups who brought the issue up and said they weren’t interested in hearing facts. Trying to prevent full disclosure which could also have incriminated him, Groen said:
“And regarding that letter that came up at Post Falls – what that letter was, it states that we did not want to get ‘em (i.e. wolves) and we stood strong there for when they were ready to be put in no matter what. It was a letter that would keep our authority and the Director at that time signed that letter – I guess you’d call it, Jim, a ‘Transport Permit’ or whatever – and it was ‘kinda’ just to try to keep our hands in it.”
A small part of Groen’s claim was partly true concerning the desire to keep “their authority” – but they had absolutely no authority for years – only responsibility to assist in preparation of an Idaho Wolf Plan. The claim that Conley’s letter stated that F&G did not want to get wolves was simply a lie.
I’m Not Real Sure We Want to Get in the Way of Truth
During the years that I attended Commission meetings, I often watched a similar scenario unfold. With the exception of Directors Greenley and Mealey, every Director or Acting Director manipulated the Commission to pass only those rules supported by IDFG, and quickly did whatever was necessary, including lying, to change the discussion if it appeared to be headed the wrong way.
Groen was brought to Idaho by Conley to organize and operate the Idaho chapter of The Nature Conservancy’s “NatureServe” international data base of Endangered and Threatened species. More than half of the total cost was paid for with license fees or excise tax dollars from hunters and the name was changed from “Natural Heritage Program” to “Natural Resource Policy Division” to make it sound more like a legitimate bureau hunters would support.
Wheeler stated, “The decision (by IDFG to help introduce wolves) really runs deep into the fiber of both the sportsmen and policy makers of this state.” He questioned use of a document on sportsmen who come to Commission meetings and said, “I’m not real sure that we want to get in the way of the truth.”
But, without bringing it up as a motion to be voted on, Commissioners Tony McDermott and Budge insisted the handout was a good idea and Chairman Wayne Wright directed Groen to prepare the handout advising they would use it with discretion.
Yet the minutes concerning consideration of the wolf testimony the following morning contained only two sentences:
1. “Comments about wolves and elk and the frustration people are feeling.”
2. “There is concern on inaccurate information from the public regarding wolves; suggestions of a fact statement regarding the history of wolves to be read at the beginning of a Commission meeting.”
In the next issue of The Outdoorsman – No. 38 – I published photocopies of Conley’s letter and permit, the appropriate Code Section prohibiting what he did, and part of the 4-page letter from the minority of Wolf Oversight Committee members citing the numerous requirements for protection of citizens that were ignored by FWS and IDFG.
F&G responded in its “Wolf Management/Status Timeline online by listing abbreviated comments regarding Idaho Code changes that confuse – rather than enlighten. Then it provided links to Conley’s Sept. 27, 1994 letter to Bangs emphasizing that IDFG will work with FWS “only” to the extent allowed by Idaho Law, to reintroduce wolves into Idaho under the experimental population rules.
Do people not realize that the entire letter violated Idaho law?
And the link to the Special Permit signed by Tom Reinecker says it was a courtesy by IDFG issued in accordance with state law and with the Idaho Wolf Plan currently being drafted by IDFG and the WOC.
In my opinion that is similar to a banker who is charged by law with protecting his depositors’ money, giving a permit to a gang of thieves to come in once a year and rob the bank.
There was no mention in the Permit of a plan “being drafted.” In fact a state wolf plan was not approved by the Idaho Legislature until 7-1/2 years later. Yet instead of admitting it violated Idaho law in its Timeline, IDFG blames the legislature and, by inference, the minority members of the Wolf Oversight Committee for the fact that it did not get to “manage” wolves sooner.
Even after Conley was forced to resign, given six months severance pay and hired as Director of the Missouri Conservation Dept., his co-conspirators in IDFG continued to sacrifice elk and deer to protect wolves and promote non-consumptive wildlife recreation. During the past nine years 11 IDFG Department heads, including Ex-Deputy Director Jim Unsworth and Sharon Kiefer, have taken a special nine-month course including two weeks at the FWS MAT training center in Shepherdstown W. Va.
They are now part of an “elite” national team of “NCLI Fellows” you will read about in The Outdoorsman.