28 Jul 2008, 8:58pm
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Report the Truth About Wolves for a Change

The Admin at Wolf Crossing [here] is a dedicated environmentalist and animal lover. A recent journalistic cow flop [here] captured her attention and raised her hackles. In the following letter my friend and fellow blogger Laura Schneberger scolds the sorry journalist for his many deficiencies and lack of integrity, and sets the record straight about the Mexican Gray Wolf program in New Mexico:

Dear Mr. Coates,

I am not sure whether you listened to Barbara Marks very well in your interview with her for your ‘wolf numbers lagging’ article. At no time do suspected wolf attacks lead to removal of a livestock depredating wolf. There must be 3 confirmed wolf kills; then and only then will one wolf in a pack possibly be removed. Mere suspicions have never been and will never be the cause of removal of a wolf, regardless of what Michael Robinson may say.

In fact, the majority of the time, even with numerous bite sizes on a bovine victim, only one wolf at a time in a pack may be given a depredation incident strike that may eventually lead to removal. Only one wolf, even if the entire pack is confirmed to have been involved in the attack on the dead animal. Is that fair?

More to the point, is it truthful to report otherwise? Does the public know about this manipulation of stated policy designed to raise the bar on wolf removals?

NO, they don’t know, because they aren’t told. Certainly not by journalists who misrepresent the truth.

The policy is not written that way; it is only implemented that way because agency personnel know that bending the policy in favor of depredating wolves won’t be reported by biased journalists.

Does this unreported manipulation of the policy cause more wolves to kill more livestock? Probably, because depredating wolves are left in the area to kill more livestock. Does it require more removals in the long run? Probably, because the entire pack becomes habituated to killing livestock.

Does it cause more financial and emotional damage to the human victims? Absolutely. Has it caused ranches to fail. Yes.

Were these policies put in place to placate ranchers as wolf advocates claim? My response when I read that in your article was “What?!” Nearly unlimited destruction of cattle and calves before one wolf at a time is removed does not placate ranchers; it destroys them.
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19 Jul 2008, 2:17pm
by admin

Genetics Defective in Wolf Re-listing

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction, throwing out the delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and putting them back on the Endangered Species list.

Molloy’s decision is [here]. It is a judicial scientific mess. He based his ruling on a faulty understanding of genetics in wolf populations. A quote:

Plaintiffs argue (1) even though the environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction specifically conditions the delisting decision on a Finding of Subpopulation Genetic Exchange, the Fish & Wildlife Service delisted the wolf when there is no plausible showing of that genetic exchange between the Greater Yellowstone core recovery area and the northwestern Montana and central Idaho core recovery areas. …

As recently as 2002, the Service determined genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone, northwestern Montana, and central Idaho core recovery areas was necessary to maintain a viable northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in the face of environmental variability and stochastic events. The Fish & Wildlife Service nevertheless delisted the wolf without any evidence of genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone core recovery area and the other two core recovery areas.

The problem is that wolves breed like dogs, and with dogs, coyotes, and everything else dog-like. Genetic purity can only be maintained within limited populations. When wolves are allowed to roam all over, their genotype gets polluted with dog genes.

They become wolf-dogs, like in New Mexico, or wolf-otes, like in Minnesota.

The science of genetics is little bit over Judge Molloy’s head. He is not familiar with alleles, mitochondrial DNA, clades, genomes, etc. That stuff is all too technically scientific for a law judge. Molloy stepped into a prideful trap. He thinks he is an expert in something he totally lacks expertise in.

For a monograph on the genetic complexity of wildlife populations, I suggest Variation in Mitochondrial DNA and Microsatellite DNA in Caribou (Rangifer Tarandus) in North America, by Matthew A. Cronin, Michael D. MacNeil, and John C. Patton, Journal of Mammalogy, 86(3):495–505, 2005 [here]. Granted Cronin et al. were studying caribou, but the same concepts apply to wolves, only more so. If you understand that paper, or even if you don’t, you should grasp the idea that genetics is not a cut-and-dried issue.

Judge Molloy thinks that if there are tens of thousands of wolves in 3+ states, they will be genetically preserved as a species, or at least as a Distinct Population Segment. However, that is exactly wrong. I repeat, the ONLY way genetic purity can be maintained is via a LIMITED population, especially when millions of dogs and coyotes are already present in the region.

The genus Canus gets it on. They are famous for that.

Indeed, wolf populations in the Northern Rockies are growing anywhere from 25 to 50 percent per year. There already are thousands of wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and breeding pairs have spread to Washington and Oregon. They are decimating deer and elk herds and attacking sheep, cattle, horses, pets and other domestic animals.

They are introduced wolves, too, not native. The federal government dumped them there. Now they are multiplying like dogs are wont to do. They are manifestly not endangered, but are endangering other life forms. They are terrorizing rural residents. Wolves carry rabies and a variety of other diseases. They kill for sport on killing sprees, not for food, evidenced by the fact that wolves take a bite or two from their dead (or almost dead) prey and move on.

But Judge Molloy has decided that he is a geneticist and an expert on the allele drift in canids. Manifestly he is not.

In a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals [here], an impaneled jury of judges proclaimed that they are not scientists, not expert in technical scientific matters, and must defer to real experts.

But Judge Molloy paid no attention to that decision and let his misplaced pride cloud his judgment. Speaking of clouds, here’s a bit of doggerel from Molloy’s decision:

This case, like a cloud larger than a man’s hand, will hang over the northwest states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming until there has been a final determination of the complex issues presented.

He fancies himself a poet, too, evidently. But the judge is not a poet nor a geneticist and has overstepped. This case must be appealed. At some point some rational jurist has to get over himself and deal with real facts as presented by real experts, not those offered by posturers and pseudos.

16 Jul 2008, 1:38pm
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Please Donate to the Cause

W.I.S.E. is non-profit. Heck, we’re damn near non-income. But we are endeavoring against all odds to save forests and spread good information and knowledge about stewardship of our forests and landscapes.

We’re trying to save forests. We’re trying to stop or reduce the megafires that are ravaging our forests. We’re trying to make this planet a more habitable place for all life forms.

To that end we have created and are managing 12 websites. Our most recent site, W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking, is building records of the major fires burning this year, so that we can evaluate those fires after the season is over and seek ways to lessen the destruction.

We have not shirked from controversy. We have pushed the envelope. We have berated the Powers That Be for their incompetence and misguided policies that destroy forests, both public and private, and incinerate homes, farms, and ranches, and pollute the air and water, and cripple economies, and drain the Treasury.

We have endeavored to post the best, most cutting edge science, so that visitors can learn the facts for a change instead being pepper sprayed with rude and a-scientific propaganda all the time. We are a beacon, a light in the smoky darkness of a thousand forest fires burning at once.

W.I.S.E. is free. Our sites are open to all, free of charge, without a fee, buy in, ticket charge, or gate receipt.

But it is not free to do all this work. It is time consuming. Moreover, the expertise displayed here is the result of hundreds of years of combined professional effort. All of the experts published at W.I.S.E. have contributed their knowledge for free, and we are deeply grateful, but we also recognize that their expertise is hard won and represents lifetimes of dedication.

Your financial contributions are also deeply appreciated. We share this wonderful letter we received today, with gratitude:

Dear Mike,

Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $200. I hope it will help to keep your great sites going and allow you to continue to share wisdom and expertise.

As I promised myself, “a dollar a day” contribution will hopefully assist this endeavor to spread the word about forest health in particular and the rational study of the environment in general.


We send Randy a big Thank You. He would never admit it, but he is a victim of excruciatingly bad forest policies. His home and landscape are under tremendous threat. His area has been visited by fire storms emanating from mis-managed federal forests and hundreds of his neighbors’ homes have been incinerated by those fire storms. There is little he can do to change those terrible policies on his own.

But W.I.S.E. is attempting to do just that. We want to save rural homes from predicted, preventable fires. We desire to save the taxpayers $billions in emergency fire costs by encouraging the application of restoration forestry to millions of acres, thereby rendering forest safe and resilient to fire and far less prone to catastrophic destruction by holocaust. We wish to protect, maintain, and perpetuate forests, wildlife habitat, watersheds, airsheds, recreation opportunities, and all the other amenities and values that forests provide us. We are deeply cognizant of the heritage of our landscapes, and promote the respect and restoration that our heritage deserves.

That is our quest. Little by little we are having an effect. Top policy makers are reading our sites. The pendulum is being swung, the elephant is slowly moving.

Your contributions make it possible for W.I.S.E. to pursue this quest. Our budget is threadbare. We can barely pay our monthly Internet fees. But with your help we will persevere.

Your contributions are tax deductible. The Western Institute for Study of the Environment is a 501(c)(3) non-profit collaboration of environmental scientists, practitioners, and the interested public.

W.I.S.E. provides a free, on-line set of post-graduate courses in environmental studies, currently fifty Topics in eight Colloquia, each containing book and article reviews, original papers, and essays. In addition, we present two Commentary sub-sites, a news clipping sub-site, and the W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking site.

Our mission is to further advancements in knowledge and environmental stewardship across a spectrum of related environmental disciplines and professions. We teach and advocate good stewardship and caring for the land.

Please help us out. Please visit our donations page [here].

Thank you.

10 Jul 2008, 2:10pm
by admin
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Is Delisting Rigged?

by Dr. Charles Kay, Utah State Univ.

Published in Muley Crazy Magazine, July/Aug 2008 [here]

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced that wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming will be delisted by the end of March 2008. According to a recent USFWS news release, wolves in the Northern Rockies were to be delisted when there was a “minimum of 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves for at least three consecutive years. That goal was achieved in 2002, and the wolf population has expanded in size and range every year since. There are currently more than 1,500 wolves and at least 100 breeding pairs in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. While most sportsmen think that delisting is long overdue, a consortium of eleven environmental groups has said they will sue to stop delisting because there are not enough wolves! Apparently “wolf recovery” has been a fraud from the beginning!

When I published my first article on wolves in Petersen’s Hunting back in 1993, USFWS’s Ed Bangs called my Department Chairman, as well as the President of the University, and asked them to fire me because I had suggested that the 30 pair, 300 wolf figure was a con game between the feds and pro-wolf groups. To quote from my 1996 monograph on wolf recovery,

“The government proposed 100 wolves in each area [Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming] knowing that the numbers would not be enough to meet ESA [Endangered Species Act] requirements of minimum population size, and environmental groups did not object [they did not], knowing that 300 wolves would raise less political opposition than 1,500 to 2,000 wolves. Wolves arrive and increase to 300. The government moves to delist. Environmentalists sue and win. The wolf population is allowed to reach 1,500 wolves or more. Environmentalists are happy, the federal agencies are happy, [more federal control and bigger budgets], and the public realizes — too late — what has happened.”

So I was right! No wonder the USFWS wanted me fired! But I was also wrong, for the Greens do not want 1,500 wolves, as they already have that, now they want 6,000 or more wolves as one interbreeding population in virtually every western state!

… I hate to say I told you so, but I TOLD YOU SO 14 years ago and no one did anything except to try and have me fired! It is time for sportsmen to wake up because we have been and are being played. … [more]

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