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Updated…Of Wolves and Junk Science

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This LOBO WATCH Release was first circulated in July 2011.  Here is an updated version, sharing some new population guesstimations…and taking a look at how the two 2012 gubernatorial candidates in Montana differ in their views of MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks…and managing wolves.

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It is now very apparent that when plans were first being made to bring wolves back into the Northern Rockies, knowledgeable “wolf scientists” must have been extremely rare – and extremely far and few in between.   When one takes the time to mull over the so-called Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan, and especially the long and drawn out 1994 Environmental Impact Statement filed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, drafted before the first wolves were released into the Greater Yellowstone Area in 1995, and compares the “facts” within those two documents with what we now know has happened and continues to happen, it becomes very clear that the chosen experts knew little if anything about wolves.

In those days, the team of wildlife biologists, managers, ecologists and environmentalists pushing to “reintroduce” wolves into the Yellowstone ecosystem and throughout the Northern Rockies definitively established that to achieve a recovered wolf population it would take 100 wolves, with a minimum of 10 breeding pairs, in each of three states –  Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.   And that goal was achieved in 2002.  At that time, according to the “Recovery Plan” and the 1994 EIS, management was supposed to have been turned over to the state wildlife agencies.  But, it was not.

Although the team of “scientists” and “wildlife biologists” who drafted both of these official documents signed off on the recovery goal numbers well before the first wolves were released, intervening environmental groups, including the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, began filing lawsuits to prevent wolf management hunts.  And this is even though the wildlife agencies of these states had voluntarily planned to insure a minimum of at least 15 breeding pairs in each state.  And that battle continues to this very day.

By the time wolves had reached the agreed upon recovery goal in 2002, it was already evident that those scientists who drafted the plan and EIS had missed their predictions, their claims and their promises to a concerned public by a country mile.  Hunting is not just a recreation in the Northern Rockies, it is a way of life, with many families relying heavily on the harvest of elk, deer and other big game to supplement how they keep their family fed.  It is also big business.  In fact, in Montana alone hunting is an annual $230-million-plus boost to the state’s economy.  And well before the first 17 wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park in 1995, Congress proclaimed that the planned project was to “not hurt hunting”, to “not hurt ranching”, and that the release of wolves in the Northern Rockies was not to threaten any other endangered species – i.e. the grizzly bear.

Wolf impact on other wildlife resources was realized by 2002.  One of the first elk herds to be severely impacted by wolf depredation was the Northern Yellowstone elk herd.  In 1995-96, when the first wolves were released, that herd numbered between 19,000 and 20,000 – and as wolf numbers quickly grew in and around the park, elk numbers dwindled quickly.   That summer when wolves reached their recovery numbers, this herd was already down to 12,000.  Currently, the Northern Yellowstone elk herd numbers right at 4,000 animals.

The so-called wolf experts who contrived the Recovery Plan claimed that the average wolf would kill around 14 big game animals yearly.  Subsequent research, observing what was actually happening once the wolves had far surpassed the recovery goals, established that the average wolf was killing between 20 and 30 big game animals annually – for sustenance.  Likewise, they were killing nearly the same number – simply for the sport of killing, eating nothing.  That meant the average wolf was killing between 40 and 60 animals each and every year.  The “scientists” who drafted the plan failed to even address what is now referred to as “sport killing” or “surplus killing”.

These same wolf specialists also failed to address other aspects of wolf impact that just may prove to have an even greater impact on elk, moose, deer and other big game populations – and that is the stress the wolves put on pregnant females.  With the reintroduction of the wolf into the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains, the spring calf to cow ratio has nose dived.  In many areas where the survival rate was once 30 to 50 calves per 100 cows, it is now down into the single digits – 6 to 9 per 100 cows.  Elk biologists realize that it takes at least 30 to 35 calves per 100 cows to sustain a hunted elk herd.  Just to sustain itself without being hunted, a herd must realize an 18- to 20-percent calf survival.

Wolves, mountain lions and grizzlies all account for a high rate of calf loss during late spring and early summer calving.  However, where wolves very likely make the biggest impact on the calf-to-cow ratio is through the winter,  prior to calving time.  Wolves put continual pressure on its prey base during the lean months of December, January, February and March.  Constantly kept on the move, there is little time for elk to fatten up for the harshest weather of the year.  And as cow elk become heavier with a calf fetus inside, the stress of that constant pursuit is now causing a high number to abort the fetus.  And this is an impact factor that our wolf “scientists” either purposely ignored, or were not knowledgeable enough about wolves to even realize.

Another oversight was just how this would affect the overall health of big game herds, especially elk.  When USFWS brought in the first Canadian wolves into the Yellowstone area, the Northern Yellowstone elk herd averaged 4 to 5 years of age.  Due to the excessive loss of calf recruitment, the herd has gotten much older on the average – now between 8 and 9 years of age.  Many cows are now reaching an age where reproduction becomes biologically impossible.

Math is an integral part of science, the part which can be most easily manipulated.  That can now be witnessed with the “guesstimated” wolf populations that now roam the upper two-thirds of Idaho, all along the western half of Montana and in the northwest quadrant of Wyoming – and which are now moving into Washington, Oregon and Utah.  Our experts claim the region is now home to around 1,700 wolves – even though the wildlife agencies in these states do not have the technology or the manpower to accurately assess.  The hundreds of thousands of sportsmen who spend most of the year in the outdoors say that number wouldn’t even account for half the wolves in the Northern Rockies.  And one of the most respected wolf scientists in the world, Dr. L. David Mech, of Minnesota, tends to agree with them.

Mech was deposed as an expert witness for the 2008 wolf delisting hearings, and in his declaration he established that even with natural death losses, and wolves culled by hunters and animal control officers, the Northern Rockies wolf population was, then, more than 3,000.  Today, the number is more like 4,000 to 4,500 – with as many as 1,600 to 1,800 in just Montana.  Still, the wolf specialists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks continued to downplay the wolf numbers, claiming in early 2011 there were “at least” 566 wolves in the state.  As the agency got closer to the 2011 wolf season, they admitted that the population could be around 800.  Next door in Idaho, wildlife managers also touted a number far below the real number, claiming  around 900 as the state went into the fall 2011 wolf hunting season.  Sportsmen in these two states say that combined there are “at least” 3,000 to 3,500 wolves in Montana and Idaho.

The “science” Dr. Mech presents that scares the daylights out of those who continually push for more wolves is the level of reduction it’s going to take in order to stop the destruction of other wildlife populations.  In that same declaration, he stated that to just stop the growth rate of depredation could mean eliminating upwards of 50-percent of all wolves in the Northern Rockies.  To pull big game populations out of what is referred to as a “predator pit” situation would require culling 70-percent or more of existing wolves.

Plaguing the science of the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project even more is the wolf which USFWS chose to transplant from north-central Alberta, Canada as the replacement wolf for the “reintroduction”.  It is not the same subspecies as the wolf that was native to the region.  Prior to the importation of those non-indigenous Canadian wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis) , the native wolf of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming was a smaller subspecies (Canis lupus irremotus) .  Many residents of the region have stated there were still several small pockets of the native wolf in remote areas when USFWS began bringing in the larger and more aggressive non-native Canadian wolves – and that those native wolves were soon eliminated  by the invasive species.

Sportsmen are now seriously questioning how USFWS chose to bring in an entirely different wolf to repopulate one of the richest wildlife ecosystems in the U.S.  They tend to feel that bringing in that subspecies would be no different than if the agency arbitrarily chose to truck a few thousand pronghorns from the plains of Wyoming down to Mexico to supplement the endangered Sonoran pronghorn, or to help out the endangered Florida Keys Deer by transplanting noticeably larger whitetails from the Midwest.  Then there’s Idaho’s extremely endangered woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), will USFWS come to their rescue and transplant Central barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) from the Canadian Arctic?  Is this science…or playing God?

More and more, people who live in the Northern Rockies are accusing USFWS of actually violating the Endangered Species Act by introducing, not reintroducing, a wolf subspecies that never lived in the region.  And that those non-endangered Canadian wolves have destroyed any chances of ever truly re-establishing a population of the native wolf.  The manner in which USFWS, with the encouragement of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife, pushed for such an accelerated recovery project of wolves in and around Yellowstone National Park has many residents suspecting their agenda has much more to it than re-establishing a wolf population.  More now claim it is all a part of the spurious “Wildlands Project” (now called the Wildlands Network) and the United Nation’s “Agenda 21” – with goals to greatly reduce human utilization of rural lands.

Last year, one prominent NASA scientist,  James Hansen, was accused of illegally accepting more than $1.2-million from well funded environmental groups to support their “Stop Global Warming” agendas.  The manner in which some state wildlife agency biologists now seem to be favoring the “let nature balance itself agenda” has many sportsmen, who are the primary financial supporters of these agencies, wondering if the “selling out” problem has now come much closer to home.  In the same light, many overly radical environmental professors who are teaching our future wildlife scientists are now under public scrutiny.

A new area of wolf-related science that is just now surfacing is the threat of the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm – which close to 70-percent of all wolves tested in the Northern Rockies now carry – and spread widely during their long ranging hunts.  Every pile of scat left by these wolves could deposit thousands of the tapeworm eggs, which can result in cystic hydatid disease in elk, moose, deer, livestock – and even humans.  The eggs of this parasite can cause health and life threatening cysts on the lungs, the liver and on the brain.  Once contracted, detection of hydatid disease could take years.  Having the cysts surgically removed presents a new danger.  They are filled with a cloudy liquid, filled with tiny tapeworm heads, and should one burst, either during surgery or on its own, leads to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylatic shock – and possibly death.  When a cyst does burst, it can spawn the growth of multiple new cysts, making surgery a tricky procedure.

As wolf numbers continue to grow in the Northern Rockies, so will the chances of contracting the disease.  It already has many outdoor oriented people afraid to enjoy harvesting and eating wild berries and mushrooms, which could be covered with microscopic tapeworm eggs.  Several cases in humans have now been reported, and a growing number of hunters are finding the cysts on the lungs and livers of elk, deer and moose harvested.

In Montana, the junk science that severely taints the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project is now under full attack from those who are disgusted with the 70- to 80-percent loss of elk herds and other big game populations in the western regions of the state.  Democratic 2012 gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock feels MT FWP’s “more aggressive” 2012 wolf season, which also allows trapping, is definitely a step in the right direction to bring down wolf numbers in the state.  Several hundred thousand sportsmen disagree, claiming it is not enough – and so does Bullock’s opponent in the race for the governor’s office.  Republican candidate Rick Hill has his own idea of wolf management, which would treat the wolf as a non-protected predator across the eastern half of the state, and would more aggressively manage wolf numbers up and down the western side of the state.  Hill also says that, as the Governor, he would push hard for a complete overhaul of the state’s wildlife agency.

Science is a wonderful tool when it is used for the right reasons.  But when it is used to lie and deceive, to cover up what’s really happening, and to support a radical agenda, perhaps it should be handled as a criminal offense.  Montana resident Robert Fanning, the founder and C.E.O. of  the group known as the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd refers to the science used throughout the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project as “scientific fraud!”

The evidence says he’s right. – Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

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Fears…And Echinococcus Granulosus Are Now Spreading…

Photo Above Shows The Lungs Of A Hunter Harvested Elk That Is Infected With Hydatid Cysts – Formed From The Eggs Of The Echinococcus Granulosus Tapeworm That Were Ingested By The Elk.  The Eggs Of This Parasite Can Infect Humans As Well.  Wolves Are The Primary Carrier Of The Tapeworm In The Northern Rockies.

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Recently, a resident of Sweeden sent an e-mail to two friends of LOBO WATCH – to Dr. Val Geist (University of Calgary) and author Will Graves (“Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages”).  Following is that e-mail…

“Dear friends,

We just overheard a  conversation where one of the speakers claimed that the American authorities failed to successfully treat all the imported wolves from Echinococcus before implanting them in the northern states of the US. Furthermore, the speaker claimed that as many as 80% of the Idaho wolves are now infected – a serious health hazard for people and live stock.

Your input here would be very much appreciated. We are facing a situation where the government wants to import pups from Russia and apart from the risks of getting aggressive and giant supporting genes, Echinococcus is a serious issue. So if you have details on the above, don’t hesitate to send me a note.

If it’s a fact that the authorities failed to disinfect these wolves, we must inform the public of these possible and negative consequences.

All the best,

Jan”

Since the issue concerned wolves in the U.S., Canadian wildlife ecologist Dr. Geist passed on answering…and Will Graves turned to one Montanan who has pretty much devoted his life to studying the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm…and the dangers it presents all other living things in the Northern Rockies…including humans.  That person was Clay Dethlefsen, Chairman and Executive Director of the Western Predator Control Association.

“Dear Jan,

Will has asked me to reply so I will try to synopsize a very extensive and multifaceted topic.

The short answer is that the wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have Echinococcus granulosus (E.g.) tape worms in over 68% of the wolves with the major portion of infected wolves being less than 2 years old.  In some areas as we have over 84% of the wolf population infected.  Also, the wolves introduced were not properly treated for this tape worm or any of its sister species.  About 36% of the Wolves have worm loads of less than 100,  17 % have loads between 100 and 1,000 and the 47% have worm loads over 1,000 with the average of these wolves having about 5,000 worms in their small intestines.

Hence, if your Government is going to inject wolves (wild canines) or hybrid wolf dogs from Russia or any other part of the world which harbors Echinococcus granulosus, multilocularis, vogeli, etc. (there are 7 species of Echinococcus), you in a Nutshell are faced with a very serious situation.  By the way the wolves we had injected are identical to the wolves in eastern Russia, it sounds like you are about to get a similar wolf.

In 1947 wolves were classified by taxonomy and it wasn’t until the 1980’s when DNA designations were created that this changed .  This transition took us from having over 27 different species of wolf to having only 5, and this realignment consolidated the Canus Lupus Occidentalis, Columbianus and Irremotus into one grouping now called the ”Gray Wolf.”  This is like grouping different pain treatment medicines into one group simply because they all treat pain.

These wolves as you mentioned are a great deal more aggressive, hunt as full teams and often kill excessive numbers of ungulates as sport or in frenzy killing sprees.  This a great deal different than what the wolves we had here (which were nearly eliminated in our areas by the 1930’s) did.

These wolves have become a great deal more reproductive than the US Fish and Wildlife Service and our State Fish and Game Departments said they would.  These statements they made when they knew they were not generally true.  Yet they have been able to convince the uneducated that they were/are factual. This is what we call “value Added Science” which is diametrically opposite of objective Scientific Method base research.

The Fact that these allegations by our program staffs’ were not completely true but were accepted as the whole truth was partly due to L. David Mech’s statements made after he published his doctorial Dissertation at Purdue University, after he completed his research in late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Note: He was directly involved at the beginning of an 18 year (1958 to 1976) study, the “Wolves of Minong” headed by Durward Allen, at that time Professor at Purdue, on the wolves on Isle Royale, Lake Superior, Minnesota.

During the 1980’s and early 1990’s our US Fish and Wildlife Service developed and had approved a plan to inject wolves captured in Canada into our three State area (i.e. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho).  They contended that the wolves WOULD NOT DO many things that historical research and scientific investigations, including Allen’s and Mech’s, had already substantiated that they would do.  Yet because our Program Leaders had already decided that no matter what the objections they were going to force these wolves, in 1995 and 1996, upon us; hence, the plan was executed.  The program is still being executed under full Government protection and we now have a situation that is, and can easily be characterized, as completely out of control.

Bottom-line is that instead of having a population of not more that 450 wolves with 45 breeding packs, which was their second guarantee, we now have in our three plus state area over 245 packs and over, 4,000 Canadian Gray Wolves.  We, also, are now faced with a severe expansion of these numbers, into surrounding States, simply because of the migration habits of wolves (including habits as “loner wolves” and as “mating pairs”).

The devastation brought by these wolf numbers is extremely serious not only from the depredation of our Wild Ungulate populations (i.e. Moose, Elk, Deer, etc.) but from the ever increasing habituation and acclimatization of the new generations of wolves which have caused serious livestock depredation and a disease-vector explosion.

We are now in the 10 to 20 year post introduction bracket for these wolves.  This is the period when we find that our urban and residential areas are being routinely invaded by these extreme carnivores.  Numerous people have had very close physical encounters with these wolves with some close interactions showing that  we will shortly see human attacks and physical injuries, not just backyard pet killings and casual pursuits of humans.

The wolves we now have are very infected with Echinococcus granulosus (E.g.).  In 2008-2009 a laboratory evaluation of 123 wolf carcasses was done.  The results were that 63% of the wolves had the disease.  In addition we have determined that a large percentage of our wild ungulate population has come down with Hydatid Cysts, and as you may know you have to have both of these elements to establish and maintain an E. g. life cycle.  From the interface of these two host, definitive (canine) and intermediate (ungulate), we get the real problem—the fully established, wide spread and maintained Life Cycles.

Recently, two additional and separate evaluations were done and in several areas we are finding that 84 plus % of our wolves now have the tapeworm and the Cyst phase is becoming more prevalent in our wild ungulates.  Next we will discover the Cyst in Domestic Livestock and hybrid wolf-coyote and wolf-dog canines.

The original wolf injection consisted of 66 wolves which were placed in our Yellowstone National Park (32) and in a Wilderness area (34) in Central Idaho.  These original 66 are now most likely dead (in the wild wolves rarely live past 9 years and are definitely dead in 13 to 15 years).  So what we are currently dealing with is their offspring.

When the wolf “Recovery Plan” was about to be enacted, Will sent a letter to Edward Bangs, who was the program manager, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, warning him of the problem of bring wolves into a new area before evaluating fully the potential for zoonotic diseases, which leads to health and safety emergencies.  Bangs sent a copy of Will’s letter to a Russian Wolf Scientist in Russia.  I have examined very constructively both Will’s letter and the response.

The reply letter was a very generic Country to Country response and it noted that the Russian’s could not find support documentation for all the facts that had been cited in the book “Wolves in Russia; Anxiety Through the Ages,” even though Russian points of contact had help extensively with the background research.

As an indirect result of this letter and a direct result of incessant other wolf-introduction-supporters from the United States and Canada, Ed Bangs stated that the wolves would be treated for diseases before they were released and that these wolves would not cause any increase in the spread of diseases carried by wolves including Rabies.  Of course this statement was subjectively founded not objectively based and done in a hurry.

In fact what the Environmental Impact Statement, released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service stated was: “a Finding of NO Significance” as regarded wolves disease spread.  This written conclusion was scientifically unfounded but became the concrete subjective conclusion and thus wolves were injected.

Concurrent with this injection we had a viable migratory population from Canada of Gray Wolves that had existed in the northern part of Montana for many years before the 66 were injected.  These wolves were never treated for anything and the probability of many of these migratory wolves having the Echinococcus granulosus disease was nearly certain.

The treatment that was given to the Wolves prior to their release into the wild was focused on immunizations and shots that would keep the wolves from getting disease that would kill them before they could establish a enduring population.

The treatment they actual received is unavailable to us at this time.  But even if they did give these wolves treatment for tape worms they were only given a universal de-wormer which had a very low efficacy for removing the E. granulosus (E.g.) tapeworm.  To kill this tapeworm, with a 90 % or higher probability of ridding wolves of the tapeworm, requires three treatments with praziquantel at a dose of 10 mg/kilogram of canine weight, over a 12 week interval with the feces from the treated wolves being evaluated for coproantigen by a PCR-DNA or ELISA test, and if antigens are found, this means the wolves still have the worms in their small intestines and the treatment cycle needs to be repeated.  This goes for domestic dogs as well.

Two points bear noting: First canines are again susceptible to tape worm load immediately after completing treatment and secondly, that during this treatment the canines are expelling viable eggs and/or progollids (a pouch like segment), which contain thousands of the microscopic eggs or egg segments.  So to avoid exposure all feces must be picked up and burned with the areas of droppings being likewise cleansed

These wolves, which were captured in British Columbia and adjacent Canadian provinces, were released after only ten (10) weeks and there is no information available to the public that allows us to see if they were tested post treatment, and/or if at any time a determination to see if they were completely free of E. g was done.

When we look at the latest government published data on wolf pack locations we see that our residential areas are surrounded by wolves and there is hard evidence that individual wolves are now and have been for about 5 years dropping their infected feces in and around our living areas.  Our very conservative calculations have determine that every infected wolf every day drops over 2,400 viable E. granulosus eggs in our environment of which at least 1,600 remain viable/infectious to humans for over 9 months.

We have been experiencing a rather intense pollution in our wilderness areas for only 3-5 years, and we have not reached the point at which the potential for human Cyst Disease has become assured or diagnosable. But we are fast getting there.

The eggs after ingestion, inhalation or injection into a person generally are not detectible as Hydatid Cysts for over 10 years, except if they grow in the brain or grow large enough to cause vital organ function problems—breathing for example.

Many patients have no symptoms for longer periods.  It has been noted that patients can live for over 50 years with undiagnosed Cysts.  There are various reasons for this primary of which is that the medical professionals are not looking for the disease and hence they treat for other ailment.  A secondary reason is that they are not encouraged by health rules or laws to look for the disease.

We have posted our latest presentation slides for wolf’s attacks of humans and E. granulosus disease evolution and impact on our web site.  If you have access to the web, our web site address is:  www.wpcamt.org .

We have also posted here three articles which give more information to our citizenry.  Please look these over and if you think they may help you overcome reintroduction let me know and I will be glad to give you the detailed script for a complete presentation, or I could come over, not actually.  But some day I would like too, I have friends in Sweden who resided with me during the completion of a project to upgrade the GSK research facility here.

Even if an area has had years of egg pollution in its overall environment, people still have to be exposed to the pollution. Next they have to come into contact with the eggs and they have to internalize (inhale, ingest or be injected) the eggs.  In this regard women and children are the most susceptible to infection from domestic dogs or wild canines that bring the eggs into a residential area.

Those people who venture out into the areas where wild canines have the tape worm are also susceptible to infection but not to the extent that those people in rural, urban, suburban and residential areas are.

When assessing the potential for human infection it is important to determine the distribution of feces, as well as it being critical to determine the density of fecal matter and/or eggs.  Once this is done it is critical to determine the concentration areas of viable eggs like water sources, livestock grazing areas, riparian areas, etc.  It is also very important in residential areas or places frequently visited by people to determine where egg-soil saturation parcels exist.

The reason for these last two assessment is that the exterior surface of these eggs is very sticky and they can easily cling to surfaces like shoe bottoms, pant legs or dog feet and thereafter be deposited in a house for ingestion by hand or other means by women, children, toddlers or crawling infants.  Same goes for backyards.

In researching the Hydatid Disease from a worldwide data collection, we determined that women and children are most susceptible to infection.  In review of hundreds of medical-case histories we found many many examples of children with Hydatid Cyst Disease.  Of these examples  123 cases detailed children with brain cysts and of these children 23 were from 2.5 years old to 16 years old. One child of 6 years of age had a brain cyst that was nearly 4 inches [10 cm] in diameter (you can see this operation on the video on our web site).

A good source of medical information on this disease and its sister diseases is Chapter 3, Hydatid Disease (Echinococcus), published by the Tropical Medicine Central Resource (TMCR) Organization at USUHS. This chapter gives a very thorough background into what any country or area that is about to bring in the wolf-vector is going to be faced with within ten years or so of introduction.

We say ten years as a discussion point but our research shows that from the point of having no E. granulosus tape worm to the establishment of a full life cycle where the reintroduce wolves have the worm [or from when the tape worm free wolves are introduced into an area with disease] takes between 10 to 15 years.  Thereafter it takes about 5 to 15 years for eggs to interact with humans such that exposure, contacting and contraction issues to become significant. These two time lines can over lap, however.

These sliding scales and associated figures were pragmatically determined after assessing 36 worlwide variables and parameters. Note: however, that even though the disease causes significant human infection, not all of these parameters are represented in all the areas we examined.  The listing of these 36 factors, including geographical, enviromental, weather and ecological, appears in our web site’s disease presentation.

Also, it only takes a few of these characteristics to drive the human infection train.  But the only one you must have is the Life Cycle and it must be extensively interfaced with the human population.

I hope that this information, although cropped and somewhat simplistic, helps you with your efforts to combat the problems with which you are faced.

Please let me hear from you!

Sincerely,

Clay Dethlefsen, AS, BS, MBA, MMS, PI, PS, IT, MCC Licensed

Chairman and Executive Director

Western Predator Control Association

415 West Main Street

Hamilton, Montana 59840, USA”

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Our state and federal officials have purposely downplayed the severity of wolves spreading the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm and its eggs for far too long.  Most people in this country still have no clue of the health danger when they head out with the kids for a weekend of camping in the wild, or allowing the family dog (especially in a rural area in “wolf country” ) to come into the home and romp around with family members, or something seemingly as harmless as eating an apple while taking a hike on a mountain trail.  All offer ample opportunity for ingestion or inhalation of the extremely microscopic Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm eggs.

Those of us who live in the valleys of the inter-mountain West all too well can remember how ash from forest fires 20…30…40 or more miles away can literally cover everything not inside or under cover.  The microscopic E.g. eggs are just as easily spread by mountain breezes.  If you live anywhere in the Northern Rockies, where there are wolves, you may not even have to leave home to become infected.  As likely as not, those tapeworm eggs can be found in the grass of the same yard where your children and pets play.  With the number of wolves now realized to exist in this region of the country, they are literally spreading billions of E.g. eggs annually – and these eggs can resist all degrees of weather for months.

Don’t wait for those who have dumped this danger on us to start waving a red flag.  Educate yourself on the best ways to prevent contact and how to lessen the chances of ingesting or inhaling the eggs of these deadly parasites.  Best of all, forward the link to this page to your local newspaper and to your state representative or senator – and see if they choose to become a part of the problem, and say nothing, or part of the solution and work to lessen the threat of the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm.  –  Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH      

Topic of the Week…Why Environmental Groups Don’t Want You To See “The Grey”

Yesterday, January 27, 2012, I went to the first matinee showing of the movie “The Grey” here in Missoula, MT.  This morning, I posted my thoughts about the movie…and whether it was realistic or not.  Please go to the following link, and then come back here to share your thoughts –

http://www.lobowatch.com/adminclient/WolfImpact8/go

If you’ve seen the movie, or plan to see it soon, share with us… Which do you think more accurately portrays wolves…”The Grey” or “Never Cry Wolf”

Toby Bridges

LOBO WATCH

MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks “Adaptive” Wolf Management Is Just Another Lie

Yesterday, January 12, 2012, I spent the afternoon attending the Environmental Quality Committee meeting at the Capitol building in Helena.  Mt Fish, Wildlife and Parks was called in front of the committee to update the legislators on the status of the 2011 Wolf Season, which was originally scheduled to close December 31, 2011.  That season has been extended to until February 15th.  And it is very unlikely that it will meet the set quota.

The state senators and representatives who make up the EQC have been catching a lot of flack from their constituents about getting the wolf problem under control.  But, as long as MT FWP remains the same, trying to reduce wolf numbers through a wolf season with an established quota, that is never going to happen.  Still, MT FWP Director Joe Maurier says he doubts if we will ever have the opportunity to take wolves whenever there is an opportunity – 365 days a year.  However, study after study from around the world has found that is the ONLY way to possibly ever reduce wolf numbers to the point where game populations can rebound – OTHER THAN AERIAL GUNNING.

The greatest obstacle in bringing wolf numbers down has been that MT FWP really has not had any real wolf experts.  When it comes to controlling wolf numbers, they honestly have no clue how to get it done.  Another major obstacle is that after 17 years of living with Canadian wolves, FWP has really not learned much about wolves.  The agency continues to try “managing” the wolf population by treating these apex predators as a big game animal.  And that has never been done anywhere on this planet.

Several good things were brought to light at the meeting.  One is that FWP is now considering having a wolf trapping season, much like Idaho’s.  Another consideration is to allow the use of electronic calls.  And still another is to allow hunters to purchase more than one wolf permit.

For more on the meeting, and the topics of discussion, along with some of the same ol’ MT FWP idiocy, go to – http://www.lobowatch.com/adminclient/Legislation10/go

Please take a few minutes to read that post…then come back here and share your feelings on what needs to be done, why and how.

Toby Bridges

LOBO WATCH

Topic of the Week – Facebook Is A Failed Social Experiment…

Facebook has many great qualities…many great features…many great ways to communicate…and many great problems.

The LOBO WATCH Facebook page has grown like crazy in recent months, and that’s because for those on Facebook who have grown sick and tired of losing so much of our hard earned wildlife resources to wolves and other predators, the page has given them a place to sound off – and to challenge the idiocy behind allowing uncontrolled predator numbers.  And that has not set well with radical  pro-wolf environmentalists.

Facebook allows pro-wolf zealots to come onto an open page such as LOBO WATCH and attack those fighting for wolf control, and they have using every degree of vulgarity, physical threats, and one lie after another.  And if they are challenged on the page, guess who gets censored.  I for one have gotten more than a fair share of “Facebook Warnings” for telling someone who just posted how much they would like to shoot me…to “Go to hell!”   Those warnings have come with the threat of losing Facebook “privileges”.

Facebook is severely flawed.  Those who administer the pages feel they can control society by censoring opinions. 

I’m an extremely opinionated person, as I am sure you can see through the posts on this blog, and on the LOBO WATCH website at www.lobowatch.com .  And for that reason, I’ve decided to use Facebook less and less and less.  Instead, I will encourage the thousands who I communicate with to come to this blog and to address issues concerning wolves…poor wildlife management…political predators…radical environmentalists…and how to fight these problems which now plague the American outdoor lifestyle.

And we will do so by posting a “Topic of the Week” which we will try our best to get published here on Wednesday of every week…so here’s your first topic.  Become a regular follower, and come here to discuss the issues that are important to us.  Rest assured, we will monitor comments – and will be quick to omit or delete any comments which are overly vulgar…threatening…or too far off topic.  What we won’t censor are your feelings and emotions, those are the passions of life.

So, what are your issues with Facebook?

Toby Bridges

LOBO WATCH

Caution – We Will Show Photos Of Dead Wolves & Photos Of Wildlife Destroyed By Wolves!

Wolves…Shoot On Sight 365-Days A Year!

          

          Sportsmen, wildlife watchers, ranchers and other rural residents of the Northern Rockies have had to come to grip with a stark realization and ask themselves an extremely tough question – are elk, moose, deer and other big game animals more important to them than beavers and songbirds? 

          With the introduction of the Canadian gray wolf into the Northern Rockies ecosystem, in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, big game populations in this part of the country have taken a precipitous nose dive.  Many of the great elk herds of this region are now barely 20-percent of what they were when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the first of the Alberta wolves trapped and transported to the U.S. for release into the Greater Yellowstone Area in 1995.  One of the hardest hit herds has been the Northern Yellowstone elk herd, which numbered close to 20,000 when the first wolves were released.  Today, that herd is down to about 4,000 – and continues to drop.

          That is the degree of damage to all wild ungulates along the northern U.S. Rocky Mountain chain these days.  As wolf numbers continually escalated, the numbers of prized game animals sank lower and lower.  Many areas of Idaho and Montana are now literally wildlife wastelands, where the wolves have even left due to the lack of enough prey to keep them fed.  And that has created yet several other growing problems.  As game animals have moved in closer to human populations to escape continual pressure from wolf packs, where the prey has moved inside of city limits, the wolves are now following.  And those that don’t have stepped up depredation of cattle and other livestock.

          Could these losses and new dangers to the residents of the region been circumvented, or was it just inevitable that wolves would eventually re-colonize the rugged landscape anyway?  Those who have lived with wolves since they were unleashed on them are now pointing an accusing finger at USFWS and state wildlife agencies, claiming that these wildlife managers did not know enough about wolves to undertake such a gamble, with other wildlife resources and ranching at risk.  They also blame environmental groups, such as the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, for keeping wolf management tied up in court for years, allowing wolf numbers to grow even more.

          According to the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan, and the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement filed prior to the first release of imported Canadian wolves, management (or control) of this “endangered species” was to be turned over to state wildlife agencies once the numbers reached 100 wolves, with a minimum of 10 breeding pairs, in each of the three states.  That did not happen, largely due to legal intervention by a dozen or so environmental groups.  In fact, the wolf population met the recovery goal in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by 2001.  Still, no management or control hunts were conducted until 2009, and by that time the “at least” number of wolves in the region was around 1,600 – with residents, based on the negative impact wolves were having on big populations, claiming the number was “at least” twice that estimate.

          The same coalition of environmental groups successfully managed to stop a 2010 wolf hunt, but several federal courts upheld the right of states to manage wolf numbers in Idaho and Montana in 2011.  As this is being written, those hunts continue.  In Idaho, where wolf numbers are now “at least” 1,000 to 1,200, a quota has not been assessed for most hunt units.  However, next door in Montana, the state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks established a quota of 220 wolves to be taken statewide, claiming the number represented a 25% decrease in the state wolf population.  The season was originally slated to end December 31, 2011, but has been extended to February 15, 2012.  Even so, as of January 6, 2012,  Montana wolf hunters have only shot 125.  Next door in Idaho, where hunters are allowed to take two wolves during the current season, and trapping is now being allowed, just 207 wolves have been taken.  Several hunt zones closed on December 31, in 9 others the season is scheduled to close on March 31, 2012.

          In the Selway and Lolo hunt zones, the season runs all the way until the end of June.  Both of these zones have been hard hit with wolf depredation, especially of newborn calves.  More than 75-percent of the elk numbers within the Lolo zone have been lost to major predators, primarily to wolves.  The goal of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game looks to take at least 60 wolves out of this management zone.

          The sportsmen who spend a great deal of time in the outdoors, and who have witnessed the destruction of big game herds, now openly challenge the effectiveness of controlling wolf numbers by treating these apex predators as a “big game animal”, and hunting them only during a regulated season.  Many now realize the intelligence of wolves, and their ability to remain hidden in the thick cover of the Northern Rockies – and to disappear in the blink of an eye.

          Several hundred thousand elk, deer and other big game hunters participate during the big game seasons held in each of these two states, but once those seasons come to an end, not many will venture out just to hunt wolves.  In Montana, the general firearms elk and deer seasons closed on November 27, and at that time 100 of the 220 wolf quota had been taken.  A few had been harvested earlier during archery hunts, but the vast majority of those wolves were shot by hunters looking to hang their tag on an elk or deer for the table during the 5-week long gun season.  During the six weeks since the close of that season, just 25 additional wolves have been culled.

          What are the chances of the 220 quota being filled, and if it is, just what real impact will it have on the wolf population and depredation of game and livestock?

          Montana residents now feel that the quota will not be filled, and would be extremely suspect if MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks claims that is has been.  Likewise, these very outdoor oriented people fully know that the real wolf population of this state is more like 1,400 to 1,600, and that eliminating just 220 wolves will only insure that more wolves are on the landscape come the birthing of wolf pups in the spring.  At just a 25-percent birth rate growth, that would put the summer wolf population at “at least” 1,475 to 1,725 wolves.  If the birth rate jumps to 30- to 35-percent, which it often does, there could be as many as 1,800 or 1,900 wolves roaming Montana next fall.

          Sportsmen are now calling for more sensible control of wolf numbers.  They feel an established season and quotas will never gain any control of burgeoning wolf numbers.  Many want wolves to have the same status as coyotes – shoot on sight 365-days a year, no license or permit required!  Only this approach has made any impact on wolf numbers in Canada, where wolves have always been a major problem.  Here is what one 2005 Canadian study established about wolves, and what our Lower 48 states have to look forward to as wolves are allowed to freely spread across the country – and that’s the goal of many environmental groups.

1. Wolves destroy 90% of the elk populations.

2. Elk slaughter by wolves increased in proportion to the severity of the winters.

3. 60% of the elk stopped migrating.

4. Wolves destroyed 56% of moose populations and nearly eliminated calf recruitment.

5. Wolves decimated woodland caribou, bringing that species to ultimate extirpation.

6. Wolves stole 57% of prey kills by grizzlies.

7. Any attempt to manage ungulate numbers anywhere near pre wolf times is a not feasible.

8. Increasing quality habitat for elk had no effect on increasing numbers with wolves present.

9. To begin replenishing ungulate populations, wolf numbers need to be reduced every year by at least 70%. The reduction has to be ongoing, forever.

10. Wolf hunts utilized to control wolf populations are ineffective.

During the 72nd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, held in Portland, OR in 2007, the University of Montana’s Mark Hebblewhite presented a study on “Predator-Prey Management in the National Park Context:  Lessons from a Transboundary  Wolf, Elk, Moose and Caribou System”, and stated ” Based on experiences in BNP (Banff National Park), I show that wildlife managers face tough choices ahead and must come to terms with the truth that maintaining prewolf ungulate harvest regimes may be a fantasy in postwolf landscapes…”

           He went on to state, “ The typical conclusion of previous studies where wolves limited prey densities to low numbers was usually a recommendation to reduce predation via large-scale wolf control . While there is some controversy over the success of wolf controls, there is some experimental evidence that wolf control—when applied consistently to reduce wolf populations by greater than 80 percent over huge areas for long terms (5-years) at great financial costs can be partially successful at enhancing ungulate populations for short periods of time. I feel compelled to reiterate, however, that the main conclusions of the authors of perhaps, to date, the best executed wolf-control study in the Yukon  pointed out the seeming futility of their wolf-control program as a long term solution to ungulate population declines. Within 2 years of the end of wolf control, wolf densities and ungulate vital rates returned to precontrol levels. To be successful, wolf control needs to be conducted for long periods of time with greater than 70 percent of the wolf population removed from huge areas. While future harvest plans for wolves once delisting occurs will undoubtedly include some wolf harvest, it remains difficult to conceive of states being able to conduct wolf control at the spatial and temporal scales required to even obtain short-term increases in ungulate populations.

           Within national parks, where management objectives are often ecosystem based, low- density elk populations may be consistent with long-term management objectives. However, in the managed lands surrounding national parks, management objectives include both consumptive and nonconsumptive wildlife use. In this context then, low-density population of elk may not meet historical agency management objectives. This contradiction will become a common management problem in ecosystems with recovering wolf populations.”

          Mark Hebblewhite is one of the professors now teaching future wildlife managers and biologists at the University of Montana, in Missoula.  More and more, the sportsmen who have funded state wildlife agencies are seeing a change in management practices that they really don’t like, and that is a move to supporting the agendas of radical environmental groups rather than the sportsmen who have footed the bill for wildlife conservation.  Hebblewhite’s study does a great job of exactly identifying what’s happening inside Canada’s Banff National Park, as well as in Yellowstone National Park – and that is a move to permit nature to balance itself – by allowing major predators to dramatically reduce big game populations.  Only problem is, the practice has spilled outside of park boundaries, and those who have strongly supported the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation for the past 75 years are now witnessing state wildlife agencies literally robbing them of hunting opportunities.

          The sad truth is, this is all by design.  The University of Montana is one of more than a hundred collaborators of the “Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative”, along with anti-hunting organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club,  and The Wildlands Network.  It is their goal to establish a near human free wild corridor nearly three times the size of California running from Yellowstone National Park all the way into the Yukon.  This corridor would be returned, as much as possible, back to wilderness, where wildlife could move freely North-South for more than 2,000 miles – and where wolves, grizzlies and cougars would serve as the wildlife managers.  The Y2Y followers neither endorse nor condone the hunting of large carnivores.  For many Northern Rockies hunters who have lost all trust in IDFG and MT FWP, it does not come as any surprise to learn that those two state wildlife agencies are also listed as collaborators of this environmentalist dream world.

          So, what will it be…elk, moose, deer, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats?  Or, will it be wolves, beavers and warblers?  According to “experts” like Mark Hebblewhite, we’re not supposed to play any role to enjoy an abundance of both.  –  Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

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Addendum – Here are the beginning two paragraphs of Hebblewhite’s study he presented at the 72nd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference…

 

Wolves (Canis lupus) are recolonizing much of their former range within the lower 48 states through active recovery (Bangs and Fritts 1996) and natural dispersal (Boyd and Pletscher 1999). Wolf recovery is being touted as one of the great conservation successes of the 20th century (Mech 1995; Smith et al. 2003). In addition to being an important single-species conservation success, wolf recovery may also be one of the most important ecological restoration actions ever taken because of the pervasive ecosystem impacts of wolves (Hebblewhite et al. 2005). Wolf predation is now being restored to ecosystems that have been without the presence of major predators for 70 years or more. Whole generations of wildlife managers and biologists have come up through the ranks, trained in an ungulate- management paradigm developed in the absence of the world’s most successful predator of ungulates—the wolf. Many questions are now facing wildlife managers and scientists about the role of wolf recovery in an ecosystem management context. The effects wolves will have on economically important ungulate populations is emerging as a central issue for wildlife managers. But, questions about the important ecosystem effects of wolves are also emerging as a flurry of new studies reveals the dramatic ecosystem impacts of wolves and their implications for the conservation of biodiversity (Smith et al. 2003; Fortin et al. 2005; Hebblewhite et al. 2005; Ripple and Beschta 2006; Hebblewhite and Smith 2007).

 

In this paper, I provide for wildlife managers and scientists in areas in the lower 48 states (where wolves are recolonizing) a window to their future by reviewing the effects of wolves on montane ecosystems in Banff National Park (BNP), Alberta. Wolves were exterminated in much of southern Alberta, similar to the lower 48 states, but they recovered through natural dispersal populations to the north in the early 1980s, between 10 and 20 years ahead of wolf recovery in the northwestern states (Gunson 1992; Paquet, et al. 1996). Through this review, I aim to answer the following questions: (1) what have the effects of wolves been on population dynamics of large-ungulate prey, including elk (Cervus elaphus), moose (Alces alces) and threatened woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus tarandus), (2) what other ecosystem effects have wolves had on montane ecosytems, (3) how sensitive are wolf-prey systems to top-down and bottom-up management to achieve certain human objectives, and (4) how is this likely to be constrained in national park settings? Finally, I discuss the implications of this research in the context of ecosystem management and long term ranges of variation in ungulate abundance.

         

 

To read the entire study, go to the following link –

 

http://www.wildlifemanagementinstitute.org/PDF/14-PredatorPrey%20Management%20in….pdf    

 

New Montana Sportsmen’s Organization May Not Be Exactly What They Claim

This is the day that the USFWS threw sound wildlife management right out the door…and released the first of those Canadian wolves into the Greater Yellowstone Area.  Some radical environmentalists call the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project a great conservation success story…those who have witnessed the loss of game and the damage wolves are now doing to livestock production call it something else – THE GREATEST WILDLIFE DISASTER OF OUR LIFETIMES!

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MONTANA HUNTERS AND ANGLERS ACTION

With the national elections now less than a year away, most of us really expected the campaign mudslinging to shift into high gear. Here in Montana, we will elect a new Governor in November 2012, and there will be a lot of jockeying for the state senator and state representative seats. However, the most hotly contested spot in Montana politics will likely be for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Jon Tester. His primary opponent is current U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg.

The mud is already flying in this battle. And leading the charge against Rehberg is the most unlikely group, calling itself Montana Hunters and Anglers Action.

So, just who is Montana Hunters and Anglers Action? Well, a lot of this state’s sportsmen have been asking themselves that very question. Those who hunt here have watched the quality of the big game hunting in western Montana disintegrate, from some of the best in North America to some of the absolute worst – thanks to a wolf experiment gone wrong. Likewise, many of this state’s fishermen are less than thrilled by fisheries management, especially in some large lakes where an all out effort is being made to destroy thriving lake trout populations, to make room for more of the native bull trout – a fish which many fishermen feel is the trout equivalent of the carp.

Are these some of the issues that concern those making up the 501 (c) (4) not-for-profit Montana Hunters and Anglers Action? Apparently not, their agenda is far more political. Currently, this new group is making an all out attack on Congressman Rehberg’s support of H.R. 1505, legislation which would provide stronger security of America’s borders. The television ad many have gotten tired of listening to calls the bill the “Rehberg Land Grab”, claiming that sportsmen could be shut out of nearly a third of Montana’s public lands.

Chuck Cushman, Director of American Land Rights, says, “A bureaucratic turf war between federal employees is putting national security and private property at risk. H.R. 1505 ends the turf war by giving border patrol agents access to the border on federal lands to do their job. But radical environmentalists who don’t support private property or secure borders are up in arms because this law prioritizes national security over their pet environmental laws.”

Could Montana Hunters and Anglers Action be simply a front for what is really just another radical environmental group? A group with a political agenda? Let’s take a look at those who head this pseudo sportsmen’s organization.

The Director of Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is George Cooper, a senior vice president of a major political lobbying group in Washington, D.C. The President of this sportsmen’s group in Land Tawney, who also happens to sit on the Montana Sportsmen for Obama Committee, and is a member of Senator Jon Tester’s Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel. Elected state senator Kendall Van Dyke (D-Billings) serves as the group’s Secretary, and also sits on the Montana Sportsmen for Obama Committee. Treasurer Barrett Kaiser is a former staffer for Senator Max Baucus, and served as a consultant to Senator Tester’s 2006 campaign.

Theirs is truly a politically driven agenda. But what could be the motivation of a “sportsmen’s organization” which seems to ignore issues which are truly impacting the quality of hunting and fishing in Montana?

Tiptoe through the Montana Hunters and Anglers Action website at http://www.montanahuntersandanglers.org and it does not take long to realize that this group is all about wilderness. This state is very blessed to have the truly wild places we have. But there are those who feel that we need even more “wilderness” areas. One extremely radical agenda, known as the Wildlands Network, would turn approximately half of the U.S. into wilderness areas or into “Wildlands Corridors”, providing connective passageways for wildlife from one area to another. Part of that big scheme would be to establish what has been dubbed the “Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative”. This would turn much of western Montana and most of northern Idaho, plus a good share of western Canada, into one huge wild corridor…where human activities would be severely curtailed or eliminated. And dozens of environmental organizations are collaborating to see this through by chipping away at “public use” of “public land”.

Now, a secure border between the U.S. and Canada would kind of throw a wrench into those plans…wouldn’t it? Could it be that opposition to H.R. 1505 by those of Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is due to their zest to “re-wild” the American West? Or does their political agenda go even deeper, with an all out effort to see that Denny Rehberg is not elected to the U.S. Senate?

“These groups will stop at nothing to misrepresent this good law as something it is not, and they’ve already spent a quarter of a million dollars in Montana to spread their lies. If you support private property, and if you support secure national borders, you should support H.R. 1505,” claims Chuck Cushman of American Land Rights.

He says that Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is a fake group, established to confuse Montana voters and defeat Denny Rehberg. – Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

Candidates Running For Election On The 2012 “Wolf Ticket”

Following the big game herds, which have abandoned much of the high country to move into human inhabitated valleys, the wolves are now coming into back yards and into town – and the residents of the Northern Rockies are now pressuring politicians to resolve the problem. 

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It becomes more and more evident every day that Montanans have had their fill of the wildlife conservation experiment gone bad known as the “Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project”. Back seven or eight years ago, there were still plenty who supported bringing wolves back into the wilds of this state, and any discussion about wolves often resulted in something of a debate, often getting very heated. On one side, there were those staunch liberal environmentalists who felt the ecosystem needed balanced, by bringing back a major predator. On the other side were those who enjoyed the vast array and abundance of wildlife, along with those who ranched or made their living off the land. They saw no need for a predator as destructive as the wolf. Still, pro-wolf advocates continued to claim that wolves would be good for the environment, making the ecosystem stronger and healthier.

Unfortunately, things have not quite worked out that way. Wolves have not followed the script written for them by academic type new wave wildlife managers and biologists trying to write their own chapter in wildlife management. In fact, growing wolf numbers have had just the opposite effect on wildlife populations. Once great elk herds, like the northern Yellowstone herd, the Lolo herd, the West Fork of the Bitterroot herd, and others are now a mere fraction, maybe 25-percent, or what they were when wolves were first released into the Greater Yellowstone Area. While all the damage cannot be blamed on wolves, with growing numbers of bears and mountain lions also making a severe impact, wolves are the primary reason for the dramatic decline of elk, moose, deer and other big game populations all along the northern Rockies of Montana.

With the loss of game, growing and spreading wolf numbers are now turning more and more to livestock, and ranchers are feeling the loss as well. Many elk no longer return to the high country, choosing to live close to smaller communities and ranch sites, where the presence of people reduces the chances of the animals being pursued by packs of wolves. However, that’s even failing to make a difference these days. Wolves have followed the game, and are now ever more present in human inhabited areas. Wolf-killed whitetail deer…fresh wolf scat…and 6-inch long wolf tracks have been found and photographed right in or adjacent to the city limits of Missoula. Wolves are now being seen, or felt, in areas where the “experts” who came up with the Wolf Recovery Plan once claimed the wolves would not inhabit. And that has residents more concerned than ever about the safety of their families and pets.

Public opinion polls, conducted the past year or so by television stations and newspapers around the state, reveal that close to 80-percent of Montana’s residents now want more stringent wolf control. They want a significant number of wolves eliminated, allowing game numbers to return, and wolf related depredation of livestock lessened. In the same light, they want the fear of wolves showing up in their back yards to be properly addressed by the politicians they elect to office, and they want that concern alleviated.

Most residents of Montana, and in the wolf country of Idaho and Wyoming for that matter, have absolutely no faith in state and federal agencies to resolve the wolf problem. Many are now putting a great deal of pressure on local, county and district politicians to come up with some answers, some solutions.

Such wants, needs and fears of the public were very evident during Montana’s 62nd Legislative sessions this past winter and spring. A number of bills were introduced which addressed wolf and other predator issues, or were strongly tied to predator losses. One dark cloud that hangs over any state taking care of problems created by wolves and grizzly bears is the Endangered Species Act. Both wolves and grizzlies have been federally protected, literally taking the right to manage their numbers away from the state. State politicians who represent the citizens of this state went as far as to introduce a bill that would claim state’s rights, and nullify the Endangered Species Act in Montana. That bill passed through the House of Representatives with a 61-39 vote. But this bill, and others which would have worked in the direction of the state taking full charge of managing (or controlling) all predators, endangered or not, in the end did not make the final vote, or were vetoed by the governor.

One bill in particular was drafted solely to authorize stringent control of wolves – S.B. 414, also known as the “Montana Wolf Control Act”.

 The bill, introduced by MT Senator Chas Vincent (R-Libby), addresses how the 566 wolves claimed to be in Montana by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in 2009 was nothing more than a “minimum estimate” – and that the true number of wolves in the state was believed to be far greater. S.B. 414 also points out… “wolves have had and are having an unacceptable negative impact on game herds, hunting opportunities, livestock production, the health and safety of people engaged in outdoor work and recreation in Montana, and the Montana economy.” The legislation goes on to establish that… “the United States is responsible for injuries caused by federally released wolves in Montana, including but not limited to the loss of game animals, livestock, or pets, other injuries to animals, injuries to persons working or recreating in the state, and economic injuries to the people of the state.”

During the first House reading of this bill, on April 12, it was defeated by the narrow vote of 49 “Yeas” and 51 “Nays”. This so irritated those already angered over the unnecessary devastation of wildlife and damage to the state’s livestock industry, that those legislators who voted against the bill were inundated by e-mails, electronic messages and phone calls, and on April 13 the House held a reconsideration vote. This time S.B. 414 received 62 “Yeas” and 38 “Nays”. However, when it went to the next reading, the vote narrowed to 53 “Yeas” to 47 “Nays”.

During the final reading, the Montana Wolf Control Act failed to make the grade – losing to a vote with 54 against the bill and 45 for the bill, with one vote excused. When time is taken to analyze how the different state representatives voted on this bill, it’s easy to determine which of those members of the House are totally out of touch with the wants and needs of an extremely outdoor oriented populace.

Those who voted against S.B. 414 straight across the board in all four votes were MT. State Representatives: Dick Barrett (D-Missoula); Tony Belcourt (D-Box Elder); Bryce Bennett (D-Missoula); Carlie Boland (D-Great Falls); Pat Connell (R-Hamilton); Virginia Court (D-Billings); Robyn Driscoll (D-Billings); Ron Ehli (R-Hamilton); Tim Furey (D-Milltown); Steve Gibson (R-E. Helena); Edward Greef (R-Florence); Betsy Hands (D-Missoula); Ellie Boldman Hill (D-Missoula); Cynthia Hiner (D-Deer Lodge); Brian Hoven (R-Great Falls); Chuck Hunter (D-Helena); Margaret MacDonald (D-Billings); Gary MacLaren (R-Victor); Sue Malek (D-Missoula); Bill McChesney (D-Miles City); Edith McClafferty (D-Butte); Mary McNally (D-Billings); Robert Mehlhoff (D-Great Falls); Mike Menahan (D-Helena); Pat Noonan (D-Ramsay); Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman); Jean price (D-Great Falls); Michelle Reinhart (D-Missoula); Diane Sands (D-Missoula); Trudi Schmidt (D-Great Falls); Jon Sesso (D-Butte); Frank Smith (D-Poplar); Carolyn Squires (D-Missoula); Kathleen Williams (D-Bozeman); and Franke Wilmer (D-Bozeman).

The 36 Representatives who voted “Nay” with every vote on S.B. 414 included 30 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

When pressured by their constituents to reconsider their “Nay” votes during the first reading of the bill, the following 13 legislators changed their votes to “Yea”: Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip); Liz Bangerter (R-Helena); Rob Cook (R-Conrad); Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls); Kelly Flynn (R-Townsend); Galen Hollenbaugh (D-Helena); Walter McNut (R-Sidney); Mike Milburn (R-Cascade); Mike Miller (R-Helmville); Ken Peterson (R-Billings); Sterling Small (R-Busby); Wayne Stahl (R-Saco); and Max Yates (R-Butte).

Of those 13 who felt the wrath of the citizens they represent, and changed their vote in support of S.B. 414, 12 were Republican, and only 1 was Democrat. However, when it came down to the final vote on this bill, during the last reading, just three of these representatives stayed true to the wishes of their constituents – Kelly Flynn, Mike Milburn and Sterling Small. The other 10 found reason, personal or otherwise, to go back to their original “Nay” vote.

Many of these politicians will be running for re-election in November 2012. It’s a good bet that those sportsmen, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts who have been negatively impacted by wildlife losses to wolves will remember who voted against their wishes when it’s time to mark the ballot.

One race which could be dictated by the 2012 “Wolf Ticket” will be the election of a new governor. Many Montana residents feel our current governor has done little to tackle the issue. To many, it seems as if he runs scared of the federal government, afraid they will cut off funding for this or that should the state stand its ground and proclaim… “No More!” That’s especially true when the topic turns to wolves, and strong wolf control.

The sportsmen of Montana have lost all faith in Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Over and over again, sportsmen and sportsmen organizations have caught the agency downright lying about wolf numbers and the degree of damage wolves have dealt wildlife populations. One recent example is how FWP commented to the state’s media about how the opening weekend of the 2011 general elk and deer season was about on par with the “past 5 year average”. Strangely enough, in 2009, it was acknowledged that the harvest in Region 2 was down 45- to 50-percent from that same 5 year average. Until last year (2010), “opening weekend” was simply just the first Sunday, since the season opened on Sunday. Now, the agency is comparing hunter take to a two-day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and the best they can claim is that it is “about on par” with the past 5 year average.

It is this kind of smoke and mirrors cover up which leads the sportsmen who provide the financial support for MT FWP to realize that the agency is no longer being straight forward with them. A growing number of those who spend a great deal of time in the outdoors have grown increasingly disgusted in the manner in which FWP tends to ignore what hunters, fishermen and other outdoor recreationalists tell them about what they see – and don’t see. What they’re seeing are far more wolves, far more wolf sign, and far more dead wildlife due to wolf depredation. What they are not seeing are the record numbers of elk and other game which MT FWP keeps touting.

Governor Brian Schweitzer has final say so in FWP policy. If the cover up of wolf depredation and the true number of wolves in the state is now standard FWP operating procedure, then the governor is behind it 100-percent.

What many Montana sportsmen do not know is that MT FWP has become an active participant in an extremely radical environmental project – known as “The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative”. This pipedream, by a long list of environmental groups and organizations, is to establish a near humanless corridor running from the Greater Yellowstone Area, up through most of western Montana and Idaho, across southern Canada, all the way to the Arctic regions of the Yukon Territories. Those who reside inside the planned corridor would be forced off the land; infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, and cities would be removed; plus access and human use of this corridor would be extremely restricted. The list of “collaborators” includes not only MT FWP, but also the University of Montana – Missoula and Montana State University – Bozeman. The two schools of higher learning are well known for their education of future wildlife managers and biologists – who are trying to rewrite wildlife conservation.

Also on that list of “collaborators” are extreme anti-hunting organizations, such as the Defenders of Wildlife, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and the Natural Resources Council. Another collaborator is the Wildlands Network, which has set its goal to return nearly 50-percent of the U.S. back to human free wilderness areas and “wildlands” corridors.

Coalitions between state agencies and such radical organizations should throw up red flags for the residents of the Northern Rockies. Perhaps some elected officials can’t foresee a problem, but the sportsmen who have footed the bill to finance the past 75 years of very successful wildlife conservation in Montana, and every other state, should question the motives of public servants and state agencies when they work hand in hand with those who are working to put an end to the hunting heritage of a state. That is especially true when said agency comes under the directives of the governor.

In Montana, there is now a growing resentment towards MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and towards the current governor. The 2012 gubernatorial race will very much be a “Wolf Ticket”, as will be the battle to win any other seat in office. Those who have supported wildlife conservation programs in Montana have grown weary of the idiocy behind the wolf introduction, and those who are now apparently working to destroy the state’s once strong outdoor based economy.

Two 2012 gubernatorial candidates have taken a strong “wolf control” platform, and both have publicly stated that overhauling MT FWP should, and would, become a priority. One is Ken Miller, of Laurel, MT. During an exchange of communications with LOBO WATCH founder Toby Bridges earlier this year, Miller agreed that FWP was severely broken, and that it would take a tremendous revamping to turn the agency around, to get it back on track – and that is to serve those who have supported FWP since its inception. Back in February and March, Ken Miller was pretty opinionated about the need for more stringent wolf control, but in recent months the candidate vying for the Republican slot on the ballot has quieted down considerably.

The most open candidate on wolves has been Tea Party runner Robert Fanning, of Pray, MT. He is the founder and c.e.o. of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, and has lived first hand with the destruction wolves bring to big game herds. Fanning and his group have chronicled the constant decline of the once famous elk herd, which was recognized as the largest migratory elk herd in the world – before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unleashed non-native Canadian wolves on America’s wildlife wonderland. His “Wolf Ticket” bid is to force state control of wolves and other predators, to completely overhaul Montana’s wildlife agency, and to move a totally revamped  MT Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks under the legislative branch rather than the executive branch of state government.

Roughly, one year from now Montana voters will be casting ballots for the candidates of their choice. Now is the time to determine who will best address your needs, and who will best represent the Montana lifestyle. Whether running for governor, state senator or state representative, every candidate will make the same old campaign promises – to attract new jobs and to insure better education for our children. Just as importantly, we need to elect those ready and willing to fight for our way of life, even if it means standing up to the federal government. If they can do that, the employment and education opportunities will be there. If they can’t, there is not much hope that things will ever get any better. – Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

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For more on Robert Fanning’s proposed overhaul of MT FWP, go to:
http://www.skinnymoose.com/bbb/2011/08/25/robert-fanning-candidate-mt-governor-reveals-his-proposals-for-fish-wildlife-and-parks-department/

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