Tomorrow, beginning at around 9 a.m. Missoula, Montana time, Judge Donald Molloy will begin hearing testimony in a case that will determine many things but initially whether or not the imported Canadian gray wolf will be returned to Federal protection or remain under the management of the states within the Northern Rocky Mountains, Experimental Non-Essential, Distinct Population Segment, excluding Wyoming.

The Wolf Wars began some time ago but as I’ve written the army is being assembled and readying for war. A protest is planned for the courthouse in Missoula tomorrow morning and I’ve learned that carpooling is coming from as far away as locations in Idaho.

If you plan to stand up against the army fighting to get control of the wolves and restore game herds, you best be on your best game. These people are well educated in their fight, sharp as tacks and see no distinction in the political stripes you might wear. If you support wolf protection, you are the enemy in this battle regardless of anything else.

A potent weapon of choice by the army of truth seekers is communication. In a rash of recent emails discussing strategy, Montana Senator Bruce Tutvedt, a republican representing District 3, offered some comments.

I would like to comment from the perspective of a citizen and now senator who has been in the trenches of this wolf battle for 15 years.

Tutvedt went on sharing some history and what he perceived as some difficulties that might lie ahead in the wolf wars. But then the Senator began pointing fingers and offering support in places few within the anti-wolf coalition could agree.

The pro hunting and livestock groups are correct to give Judge Malloy[sic], Senators Baucus and Tester, Governor Schweitzer and his appointees all the credit for the mess we are in on the wolf reintroduction. The Montana FWP [Fish, Wildlife and Parks] permanent staff has been, in my opinion, very professional in trying to put reasonable practices in place to manage the wolf.

Tutvedt finishes by offering his solutions to the wolf problems:

The folks back east in the Democrat party will take notice if we replace their democrat senators and governor as soon as possible. The ballot box can have a huge impact.
Support the hunting and trapping of wolves. Support a greater take of wolves and other large predators that are impacting our big game herds.
Avoid curtailing the delisting process. The Montana wolf management plan will work if Montana FWP is allowed to use it liberally. While not perfect, it allowed Montana to have a hunting season that killed 73 wolves last fall. Those are 73 wolves that will not be reproducing, and it could be up to 216 wolves killed this year. Something is better than nothing.

This kind of talk doesn’t necessarily sit well with those that have been mired in this battle for years. Many on the side of stricter wolf control feel they have compromised and received nothing in return but more lies and broken promises.

Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, fired back immediately foisting blame on the Montana Legislature and on Sen. Tutvedt for voting against anti-wolf bills.

In the 2009 session, MSSA had a serious anti-wolf bill presented and carried by Senator Joe Balyeat, SB 183. You voted against SB 183 twice. You may have even spoken against it on the floor of the Senate, and perhaps being responsible for recruiting other opponents to kill the bill.

So, we not only have a problem with the wolf advocates, we also have problems with our supposed friends who don’t support, even oppose, state-driven wolf solutions when those are directly presented.

Robert T. Fanning, Jr., Chairman and Founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, and one who has been in the trenches for many years in this war of wolves, didn’t let Tutvedt’s comments go unanswered either. In a response, Fanning pointed out the years that Drs. Geist, Kritzke, Moyer, along with USFWS retired Jim Beers and wolf researcher Will Graves, have spoken out warning officials that wolves carry serious disease and was never addressed or was simply disregarded during the drafting of the Environmental Impact study. Fanning states that recently Tutvedt scoffed at any notion of the seriousness of disease.

You stated for the record: “I believe that there are some who wish it … to be the silver bullet to remove the wolf,” said state Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell. “And it isn’t going to work.”

Fanning further chastises:

Do you actually think that these esteemed scientists are scheming and conniving to “remove the wolf ” or that instead, the real issue is that of the public health and safety and healthful environment guaranteed by Article 2 Section 3 of Montana’s Constitution and your collective voices and oaths to uphold it? Do you actually believe that fatalities in Alberta, Canada is “overhype” or that a young Idaho trapper currently crippled with the disease feels government had an enormous role in his health crisis when the political class looks at the wolf protection rackets as a way to raise “several million dollars in out of state campaign contributions”? Has wolf protection rackets payola and pay to play oozed down to the Legislative branch campaigns too?

Lynn Stuter, a Washington resident, writer and activists shows where many on the wolf control side stand. She disagrees with Sen. Tutvedt’s claim that something is better than nothing and takes him to task as to why.

With all due respect, Sir, I beg to differ with your contention that “something is better than nothing”. Our ungulate herds, across the NRM DPS, are being decimated and pushed into a predation pit by wolves. Whether the wolf count is 60 or 600 makes little difference when young-of-the-year retention in the ungulate herds is zero or only a few. We can rationalize and say, “well, 500 wolves is better than 1500” but if the ungulates are in a predation pit, whether there are 500 or 1500 wolves makes little difference, the ungulates are still in a predation pit and there they will remain to extinction or until the wolf numbers are brought down to a point that young-of-the-year retention in ungulates returns to numbers sufficient to ensure the growth of the herds.

The reason I refer to what is about to befall the Northern Rockies Region as Wolf Wars, is because of the obvious frustration of those who believe there are way too many wolves and far too little control. Gone are the days of attempting to sit down and negotiated and compromise – the some is better than nothing mentality. The environmentalists have only themselves to blame in this war. Their demands persisted, never once willing for compromise or for understanding, only demanding and expecting the other side to give in.

Well, the “other side” gave in, compromised and for the most part have done nothing (speaking of the general population) hoping things would turn out alright. Now that people are seeing the results and being witness to the very things they were warned about and yet those warnings were disregarded, the fight has begun.

These groups are uniting and coming armed to the battle with more than rhetoric and fast talk. They have facts and a rapidly growing base of support, not only from the general citizenry but the scientific community. If all goes well, the Wolf Wars will turn the environmentalists on their heads and restore some sense of intelligence and logic to game and wildlife management.

If you think you are going to try to pull the wool over the eyes of this group, you’re in for a rude awakening. Hang on! It’s about to get bumpy.

Tom Remington