It’s Time to Tell Our Elected Officials to Watch That Movie and Remove Their Blinders
By George Dovel (Republished with permission)
Nearly a year ago, University of Idaho Professor Emeritus Ashley Lyman sent letters to the two elected federal officials from Idaho who have reputations of being staunchly conservative. The letters expressed Dr. Lyman’s concern about the adverse impact of rapidly expanding wolf populations since they were first transplanted from Canada in 1995.
Congressman Labrador’s Response
Rep. Raúl Labrador was the first to respond and his Dec. 9, 2011 letter contained the following comment:
“Many people value animals for their beauty and their contributions to local biodiversity as well as for the legitimate purposes of food or traditional sporting activities. All related activities should be done in such a fashion that does not damage the overall population.”
Congressman Labrador also added:
“I understand that states and their wildlife management divisions are best prepared to determine species management on a case-by-case management rather than federal bureaucrats.”
Senator Crapo’s Response
The response from Senator Crapo, dated Jan. 4, 2012, included the following comment:
“I remain committed to ensuring that wolf management is conducted in a way that benefits both the species and Idahoans, by balancing the interests of the wolf, livestock owners, sportsmen and our big game herds.”
Sen. Crapo’s response also included a brief history of wolf introduction in Idaho, ending with passage of the Simpson rider, and the concern that it still must be finalized by the Secretary of Interior by June 14, 2011. Because Crapo’s response was dated seven months after that deadline passed, it was obviously a form letter written many months earlier and never updated.
On Feb, 7, 2012, Dr. Lyman circulated an email expressing his disappointment at the two political replies, apparently designed to appeal to extremists as well as to citizens who deal in facts. My email answer pointed out that former Representative Crapo’s extended hearings to determine the cause of the Clearwater elk decline resulted in legitimizing the false claim that it was lack of habitat.
My email was forwarded to Crapo’s natural resource advisor who responded with a vitriolic claim that I was attacking his boss. He said he agreed completely that the problem was predation – not habitat – yet he defended the Senator who does not even mention controlling predators to restore depleted game herds, or using salvage logging to restore healthy forests, because of threats from environmental extremists and their allies in the media.
Crapo’s letter referred Dr. Lyman to the FWS Rocky Mountain Wolf website for more information about wolves, and both his and Labrador’s letter also referred Lyman to their respective websites for more information. Both referrals ignored Dr. Lyman’s expertise.
Labrador’s Website Doesn’t Even Mention Renewable Natural Resource Use by Rural Counties
Under “Natural Resources and Energy” Labrador states: “Carbon-neutral biomass from the Northwest is an abundant resource that I hope will grow like our wind and solar industries. We must invest in various forms of clean energy to help increase competition among energy suppliers making it more affordable for all Americans.”
He did not mention the fact that federal subsidy of wind and solar electrical generation and the ethanol added to our fuel have substantially increased – not decreased – the overall cost of the energy we are forced to use.
Nor did he mention the harvest of wild game and fish, timber and forage – or using water along with naturally occurring chemical compounds to grow crops and livestock feed. Use of these renewable natural resources, plus extraction of minerals and fossil fuels, represented the prosperity of rural counties and rural states until excessive federal and state regulation began to hurt – not help – them.
Sen. Crapo – “Abundant and Healthy Wildlife”
An Oct. 1, 2012 news release from Crapo at his website says he grew up camping, hunting and fishing and shared this heritage with his sons and daughters. But then he cites the highly inflated figures from the FWS Survey, which falsely claim that wildlife “watching” generates billions of dollars more revenue than either hunting or fishing.
Finally, Sen. Crapo’s news release states:
“Hunters, fisherman and outdoor recreation dollars help pay for wildlife management which produces abundant and healthy* wildlife populations.”
(*The use of politically correct clichés is no substitute for telling how hunting and fishing excise tax dollars have been illegally used for everything from transplanting Canadian wolves into Idaho and Montana to providing an illegal match for federal nongame funds. Not using these dollars properly to provide abundant and healthy mule deer and elk herds for hunters, has resulted in the lowest reported harvest of both species in Idaho since seasons were shortened and female harvest was halted during the late 1970s-early 1980s.)
Facts Caused Angry Retorts
In a series of emails, Crapo’s advisor lambasted me and called me ignorant because I dared to point out the disappointment Crapo’s caving in to extremists’ pressure caused among Clearwater citizens. He listed several beneficial bills the Senator had sponsored but said he supported my point of view “despite my many detractors.”
Yet far fewer people would disagree with the facts I and others publish if our elected officials in Washington, D.C. would tell the whole truth instead of substituting the self-serving propaganda provided by bureaucrats or other lobbyists. How can a politician ever convince others to join in abolishing or seriously amending the ESA unless he or she arms themselves with facts and makes those facts available to everyone – instead of keeping them secret?
The “Blame It on Conley” Excuse
On Feb. 7, 2012 I received emails from several concerned citizens containing a criticism by Idaho Rep. Marv Hagedorn for their blaming IDFG for problems that began 18 years ago. Rep. Hagedorn’s 460-word post, reportedly on the Lobo Watch Facebook blog, included the following opening paragraph:
“Remember, the people that were involved in this are gone (Connelly died a few years ago, but was out as the Director soon after this happened). Continuing to blame the people that are in the department now for deeds done by others 18 years ago isn’t the answer to fixing the problem.”
Conley did not die until Oct. 5, 2012 and continued to influence game management from his return to Idaho until shortly before his death – see IDFG photo below:
Birds of a Feather
2010 photo of Jerry Conley with then Director Cal Groen and Idaho Statesman Environmental Reporter Rocky Barker.
Cal Groen was taught his duties as Director of the Nature Conservancy’s Idaho Conservation Data Center, and hired by Conley in 1990 to assume those duties. IDFG Staff who supported Conley’s illegal Agreement and Permit to FWS to transplant larger Canadian wolves into existing territory of smaller native wolves, included Groen, Lonn Kuck, Steve Huffaker Virgil Moore and many others.
While it is true that Conley left Idaho for Missouri as part of an alleged agreement not to be fired, in 2008 his former IDFG accomplices, including Cal Groen as Director, quadrupled the minimum number of wolves IDFG agreed to maintain. That illegal wolf plan, which was never approved by the legislature as the law required, was sent to FWS by Idaho Gov. Otter, along with exhibits and his letter promising to manage for more than four times as many wolves as had been approved by FWS.
Even after our repeated publication of this illegal activity forced Gov. Otter to stop supporting this debacle in Dec. 2010, IDFG officials refused to kill enough wolves to halt the mule deer and elk decline.
Promises F&G Had No Intention of Keeping
In Feb. 2009 Research Biologist George Pauley promised hunters in both Idaho and Montana that IDFG would use Wildlife Services to kill 80% of the Lolo Zone wolves each year for five years – leaving only 20-30 remaining wolves in 3-5 packs each year. In March 2010, after a helicopter census found the Lolo Zone elk had declined by another 57%, Director Groen’s op-ed news release said: “Fish and Game will do what it takes to restore the health of the Lolo herd.”
In his May 17, 2011 “Business Plan” new Director Virgil Moore promised the Commission and Idaho big game hunters that F&G would also initiate wolf control in other zones in 2012 “where wolf predation is known to be preventing achievement of ungulate goals.”
Wolf Estimate Indicates Removing 80-100 Wolves
On Dec. 16, 2011, IDFG estimated there were from 75-100* resident wolves and at least seven packs in the Lolo Zone. Only three of those packs were actually counted and they totaled “at least” 31 wolves – less three wolves that were later killed.
(* includes estimated wolves that were not part of packs – but does not include wolves in 6 of the 8 border packs that hunt in both states, but are claimed by Montana)
If Idaho added even one-third of the shared wolves in Montana’s border packs and their non-pack members to its 75-100 Lolo Zone estimate, the estimated wolf total would have increased to 100-125. The combined 80% kill by hunters, trappers and Wildlife Services would then be 80-100, leaving 20-30 wolves as planned.
By mid-February 2012 when the Wildlife Services helicopter gunner crew was called in to remove the wolves, hunters and trappers in Idaho had killed only 22 wolves in the Lolo Zone. More than half of those were killed before the year-end estimate of 75-100 wolves was calculated and published on Dec. 16th, and would not have changed that estimate.
From mid-February, during the remaining month and a half of trapping season and 4-1/2 months of hunting season, only six more wolves were killed in the Lolo Zone by hunters and trappers. Even if we ignore the wolf kill that occurred before the end-of-year December 16th population estimate, subtracting the entire 28 killed from the 80-100 (80%) that should have been killed would still have resulted in Wildlife Services having to kill between 52 and 72 wolves.
Instead, Deputy Director Unsworth told Wildlife Services to stop killing wolves on the third day, after it had killed only 14. Killing only 42 total wolves in the 2011-12 season protected the rest of the wolf population, including all of the 2012 pup increase, from humans.
Although only 14% of the Lolo Zone is wilderness and the wolf hunting and trapping seasons are 10 months and 4-1/2 months long, the fact that hunters were only able to kill 12 wolves and trappers only 16 is more evidence that the restrictions placed on sport hunting and trapping make it impossible to make a dent in the wolf population.
What Could Have Been – But Isn’t
Biologists’ 2008 plan to reduce Lolo wolf numbers by 80% and maintain ~25 wolves per year for five years meant killing about 105 wolves initially. But it also meant that an estimated 3,600 or more of the 5,110 Lolo elk that were counted in 2006 would still be alive.
If bears and lions were strictly controlled, the ratio of 25 wolves to 3,600 elk – one wolf for at least 144 elk for the next five years – would have allowed enough elk calves to survive to get a good start at rebuilding the declining Lolo elk herd. Instead, the 2011 Lolo Zone elk harvest was down 95% from the highs of 1989 and 1995!
The biologists’ repeated failure to recommend a legitimate wolf control action and their years of false promises, posturing, and misrepresentation of facts, should make it obvious to everyone that IDFG officials have no intention of controlling wolves to restore healthy game populations in the Lolo Zone, or anywhere else.
Instead they spent thousands of dollars of sportsmen license fees trying to convince hunters to attend the “Wildlife Summit” and then ask elected officials to fund their anti-hunting agenda with general tax revenues.
Increasing Wildlife Destroyers’ Role, a Slap in the Face
Probably the biggest slap in the face to families of hunters in the West, who are watching their once bountiful harvest of wild game to feed their families being deliberately destroyed, was the Western Governors putting these natural resource destroyers in charge of energy exploration and virtually every other beneficial activity on both public and private lands.
With help from the Nature Conservancy and other radical groups who profit from the acquisition of private land or so-called “Conservation Easements”, our state game biologists have already designated thousands of square miles as proposed core wilderness areas and wildlife corridors. Yet the only wildlife these areas will protect are apex predators, including wolves, and theoretically one token species – the sage grouse.
Sage Grouse – the New “Spotted Owl”
Unable to drive farmers and ranchers off of their land in agricultural areas with wolves, the sage grouse has become the new “spotted owl” to destroy rural livelihoods. But instead of going through the time-consuming process of holding months of hearings on a federal Sage Grouse Plan and having the states file countless objections, FWS and its radical groupies wrote their plan and gave it to each state governor to “tweak”.
Wyoming, which for years had the reputation of providing the best big game hunting in the West, accepted federal grant bribes and, after excluding its existing oil and mineral extraction, copied the bulk of the “sample” FWS Sage Grouse Plan which places severe restrictions on all new development. This includes not only energy exploration, but building new fences, developing stockwater tanks and a host of other activities that may ultimately destroy many small, family-size operations.
The governor of each state with sage grouse populations, used Wyoming’s finished plan as a model and exempted certain established practices or even core sage grouse areas in their state. That plan requires that millions of acres of improved land be converted back to sagebrush habitat to promote new sage grouse nesting areas, leks, etc.
In Idaho a thriving sage grouse area in Washington and Adams Counties was exempted to protect the rural communities and surrounding farms and ranches. But people who live in the rest of the 10 million acres in Idaho designated as “Core” or “Important” sage grouse habitat were not given that option.
Under CHZ Wildfire ii., the Plan Otter submitted, states: “Only human safety and structure protection shall take precedence over the protection of sage-grouse habitat.”
That means that, no matter whether it’s a few or hundreds of big game animals and/or livestock on public or private land that are threatened by wildfire, federal, state, and local firefighters must first protect any threatened sagebrush in Idaho’s 5.7 million acres of Core Habitat Zones – even if this results in the valuable animals and their habitat being destroyed.
“Judgment at Nuremberg”
The four elected officials I named in this article have all backed recent legislation supporting states’ rights and all four received NRA endorsement for their support of our right to own, carry and use firearms. Marv Hagedorn, now an Idaho Senator, strongly supported making hunting a Constitutional right, and provided a PC and contributed his time and PC skills to help me continue publishing facts.
But like the German officials and citizens who ignored the “criminal behavior” of the Nazis in the movie “Judgment at Nuremberg,” these four elected officials, and many others like them, choose to ignore the unlawful behavior of our natural resource managers.
Although it is a crime to squander our states’ natural resources, the lack of specific penalties for state employees allows them to pretend, as the Nazis did in Germany, that they are only accountable to one person. If they convince that person (the Governor) they are doing their job, state legislators must start doing their job.