A New & Welcome Chapter in the Wolf Saga

David Cassuto

I’ve blogged a fair bit about the ill-advised delisting of gray wolves as endangered species in the northern Rockies, as well as about the lawsuit that followed.  When last we left the story, the district court had denied a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the wolf hunts that subsequently took place in Montana and Idaho.  The judge did indicate, though, that the plaintiffs had a strong chance of prevailing on the merits (the standard for a preliminary injunction is formidably high, as discussed here).              

Well, the plaintiffs have indeed prevailed on the merits.  The short skinny is that when the government delisted the gray wolf in Montana and Idaho (which ostensibly had wolf management plans) but not in Wyoming, it  divided a distinct and protected population segment in contravention of the Endangered Species Act.  According to the court’s ruling, the wolf must either be delisted across all 3 states (not currently possible given Wyoming’s lack of a plan) or listed in all 3.  So, for right now, it’s the latter.

This is good news but must be tempered with realism.  Appeals will likely follow, although the law seems pretty clear here and I would expect the plaintiffs to prevail on appeal as well.  However, all that has to happen to put the wolf back in peril is for Wyoming to craft a management plan.  And, as we saw with Montana and Idaho, that plan can include hunting

But that’s still at least a little ways off.  Furthermore, Wyoming’s plan will likewise be subject to challenge.  For now, we can hope that Governor Otter of Idaho will have to find something else to do than shoot this particular species of defenseless animal — at least for the near future.

h/t Daily Kos

25 Responses

  1. From ground zero in the wolf war (western MT)- it doesn’t get uglier or more stupid than this:

    “Malloy needs a head exam. Tree hugging loser that he is, quit being such a %$#** and do whats right for once.

    “I hope you encounter a wolf someday. One of you bunny hugger environmentalist please offer 1 good LEGITIMATE reason for having these half bread canadian wolves? MT has always had wolves and the fact that we brought these in and let them destroy our landscape in conjunction with the canadians laughing at us is getting old. If you and loser boy Malloy can’t see the problems you are clearly not educated.

    Hunting is still the same shoot, shovel and shut up. My gun still holds 5 wolf tags anyway!!”

    And this, from “PackAssassin”: “Malloy – You are an idiot, however, this doesn’t change my wolf hunting plans for the year. It’ll just be cheaper now that I won’t have to pay for an overpriced varmint tag. This will work kinda like a stimulus package for hunters. That’s 19 extra dollars I’ll spend at a local area business.”

    Imagine being an animal activist in this environment. These comments and many, many more at the local paper–The Missoulian.

  2. When the wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, it was a mistake. Now, we need to manage that mistake. If each of your issues would be taken to the source, it would be more productive discussion and debate. Try to not lose your cool, but work through a problem, together.

    Just now, as I watch two deer come by my window, feeding on my garden plants, I understand that we are all, human and wildlife, share this planet. Humans have a responsibility and duty to ACT as adults, restraining the villification and mistatements

  3. The reintroduction of wolves–a keystone species– to Yellowstone a mistake?

    ” Wolves have helped to control the overgrazing done by elk, both by reducing their populations and also changing their behavior in what has been identified as “the ecology of fear.” As a result, young aspen and willows are beginning to grow along streams for the first time since the 1920s. This will also help control erosion and lead to more beaver dams, researchers believe, and ultimately affect everything from birds to insects and fish, by improving their habitat.”

  4. […] a few weeks ago, a federal judge in the U.S.  ruled that gray wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies violated the Endangered Species Act.  Guess what then happened:  U.S. wildlife officials proposed a “research hunt” to […]

  5. […] a few weeks ago, a federal judge in the U.S. ruled that gray wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies violated the Endangered Species Act. Guess what then happened: U.S. wildlife officials proposed a “research hunt” to kill the […]

  6. My name is Jeannette H. and I have been a fan and have also fighting for the wolves for many, many years. I am against them being killed and will do everything to let the animal laws know; that they are only hurting because man-kind is walking on there homes. I have watched many animal shows were they make it seem that its the animals fault for their killing human and other domestic animals. But if you really look, we took over their homes, hunted them down. No I’m not saying that man-kind deserves it, but really look at the picture clearly.

  7. Wolves here in Montana are fine until their population out grows their food source and then livestock here will be next. All these dam save the poor little wolves people need to see what I go through every year. I’ve had newborn calves running around with their guts dragging on the ground. Imagine the pain that calf was in. Wolves have no natural predators and hunting is good for everyone, so just remember there are two sides to every story. I think wolves are great and good for Montana but not this many of them.

  8. These wolf hunters actually have this insane idea that wolves are actually dangerous, Ha ha, take away their guns an then send them to fight a pack of wolves then we will see how brave they are.

  9. The wolf is my favorite animal and I know a lot about them. They wont attack a person unless the person attacks them first or unless they are starving. So all of you wolf hunters are doing nothing but severlly pissing them off! All the wolves are trying to do what is necessary to survive. People cant say anything about them eating livestock when we butcher animals everyday in oreder to have things such as bacon or burgers! It makes me sick when I see wolves being hunted, it’s just wrong. Unless its for self defence (which I doubt it ever is) you shouldnt’ be killing them!

  10. Dear Wolf Lovers,
    Having lived and hunted my entire life in Montana and watched the deer elk and moose be decimated by wolves i feel the need to correct you because you have been fed a bunch of bull. You most likely have had no interaction with wolves except what you see on tv and read on blogs like this one. You really have no idea what wolves actually do and cannot be blamed for being misinformed. To sum it all up wolves breed like mice and they kill like Osama Bin Laden. The reason they are eating our bacon and burger is because they have eaten all their resources and have nothing left to kill for fun. wolves kill for something to do they kill non-stop. When they were first introduced they went for the weak easy animals but after a while there was no weak easy animals because they would kill the animals and leave them without even taking a bite. Was that necessary to survive? Soon they were taking out completely healthy animals that had no intention of dying anytime soon. The only weak animals now are the new born calves, the babies that are defenseless. The future generations of elk. Do you think the wolves spare those? Last spring when i should have seen hundreds of elk i saw three cow elk that should have had calves with them but mysteriously were alone. Also do you have a furry little pet that you love? perhaps a dog or a cat? maybe even a rabbit? well when wolves show up in your backyard and you find your pet dead then lets see how you feel about the wolves. Severely pissing them off? Wait are you saying that wolves are like a group that can be pissed off and make intelligent decisions? So we should just get Barack over here to talk with their leader or what? it doesn’t work that way. And is the land not our home too? If a wolf pack trotted into New York and claimed they were taking back there home because they used to live there too that used to be their home are we going to pack up and leave? Its the same deal here in Montana, wolves are unwelcome and always will be if they are not regulated as what they are varmints, we don’t need them to balance out nature that can be done by giving more tags out each year. The decline of big game in Montana also has affected the economy because we no longer have out of state hunters coming in to hunt big game. In my opinion we should have started shooting that day in 1995 when the wolves were first released. Wolves were slowly trickling back into Montana from the north and they would have been here naturally soon and not in overwhelming numbers because it would have given the wildlife time to get used to a new predator. there was no need for the introduction and the fact that the locals had no say in the reintroduction of the wolves was not right. I would rather go out and see tons of elk moose and deer happily frolicking through the meadows than go out and see deserted overgrown meadows with 20 fat wolves that have just come from their steak dinner courtesy of the local rancher. The only people that like the wolves around here anymore are blind and Yeah wolves haven’t targeted humans yet but it will only be a matter of time…

  11. @people who believe wolves should be killed.

    Despite what you all may think the wolves are doing what they can to survive, they aren’t like us and can’t just go down to the grocery store to buy meat for the night, no, they have to hunt for it.

    They’re following their instincts to survive. They aren’t causing the elk to go extinct are they? No. They’re trying to survive.

    Wolves are a big part of the forest ecosystem, and without them the deer/elk population would probably be too high. Then what would you think?

  12. writing from Mongolia. As i know wolf, wolf is been killed by person who has more vivacity. we have too much steppe and there is too many wolf live. In countrysite every family has gun. wolves are not endangered but they balance animal world. it means they eat weak sick ones. sorry my poor english

  13. how can people hunt this creature, with out it, the food chain will go into a big tail-spin. And, i am a treehugger and treehuggers are cool, thank you very much kathleen

  14. pio lesio to ebale auto????

  15. Do the goddamn research people. Wolves account for LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT of cattle deaths. Coyotes claim 22 percent. In MN in 2009 wolves killed roughly 50,000 deer. MAN KILLED 260,000! They are not a threat! Even domesticated dogs statistically kill five times more cattle than wolves! DO THE RESEARCH!

  16. And Tanner, your argument suggests that wolves are somehow magically polar opposites of everything biology tells us they are. They cannot amass in number to decimate a population. Simply because wolves kill each other. A pack too large chases out old members, and a pack that invades another packs’ territory is killed (or kept away). A pack at max may be 30, at an absolute maximum. They command a territory of up to 1,000 square miles. ALSO, there are only roughly 500 wolves in the entire state of Montana. In 2010 the total (white tail and mule) deer population was estimated at upwards of 500,000. Elk estimated at upwards of 100,000. Now lets use our brains and think a second, ok? Wolves kill about 15-19 full sized deer a year, per pack. Lets say the average pack is 15, half of the ‘absolute max’ size, equaling about 33 or 34 packs. Lets also assume they kill all 19 of these deer (assuming deer is the largest of their prey; estimate about one elk in place of two deer). So if all 34 packs kill 19 wolves each year WOLVES ARE KILLING A WHOPPING….650 deer a year in the state of Montana…. thats less than 1 %.

    PLEASE USE YOUR BRAINS when blaming other species for your shortcomings.

  17. Also, for those who are wondering, if every wolf brought down 19 deer that would be a total loss of 9,000. Which is almost 2% of the deer population in Montana.

  18. you (the hunters) are so stupid that it cant be truth.how kould you kill such a beautiful animal?!?!?!?! My mind is racin !!!!!!

  19. To answer so questions on the wolf lovers side,

    Preconditioning is generally why people hate wolves. We are taught from a young age, by stories, parents, or ‘mee maw’, that wolves are dangerous and harmful creatures. The big bad wolf. Most people grow up thinking that this animal is a monster, so all they know is a monster. In all honesty, its a lot like racism. For example, a white person may believe that a black college graduate, though a college graduate, is stupid simply because they were brought up by a family that told them ‘all black people are stupid.’ Another comparison I like to use is religion. Most kids adopt their parents religion, not because of their own choosing, but because thats what they know.

    We can’t blame everyone for their preconditioned hatred. What can be blamed, however, is the unwillingness to learn on some of their parts. The best we can do is teach people about this animal, and its lack of actual threat, and try to do away with these preconceived, false, notions.

  20. Theo, in all reality there are truly many more wolves in Montana than what the government claims. And yeah they might need only need to kill 15-19 deer or elk each year but they don’t take only what they need. There is a resident in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge who recorded a pack of 7 wolves killing 28 moose in the three winter months that the pack stayed there. That’s about 13 to 9 more animals than what that pack needed, also she most likely did not witness every kill that the pack made so who knows how many they actually killed. All in only three months. Moose hunting permits are no longer given in this area because there is not a steady population. In regard to your assuming that deer is their largest prey i’m sorry to inform you that they have not effected the deer population. It is not very often that a pack hunts deer, it is simply not enough to feed the pack. The populations that they have effected the most are elk and moose. Packs do chase out older members and the weaker younger members. When this happens, (assuming that a hunter doesn’t get to them first) a new pack is created. While packs do have large territories, many overlap which causes a large concentration of wolves in one area. If you truly want to learn about these animals, i suggest you come out and ask around. Most ranchers and hunters know the real story. Knowledge is what you read, but experience is what you do. Don’t always count on knowledge to get yourself through life. You won’t get very far.

    Vasko, yes wolves are a very intelligent and beautiful animal but they, just like any other animal need to be regulated which as of right now they are. 220 wolves will be legally harvested this year, Many more will be illegally harvested and left in there place to disappear over time.

  21. Animals are more important then us fucking ignorant people on this earth today. They take care of our planet better than we ever will. They work together as a team. We as people can never come together and work as a team. Politicians don’t give a shit about how you want to help a or your community. They are. trying to collect your vote by mind fucking you into believing somethings are going to change, when really these heartless people won’t. Please help these animals before these dirty humans do. Of course we are not all the same, but all animal lovers out there want to help. Each time I see a dead animal…hurts my insides. I can’t stand see this type of sick shit on the Internet. If you hunt wolfs, thats why they want to hunt you!!!!

    Imagine somebody walking into your house killing your family and friends. Your the only one that survived but you know who did it. are you gonna become great buds together you are going to tell people this man is dangerous. Animals see us as a threat because they know we are probably capable of, This is why wolfs eat humans because were over taking there territory. Think about it people, if you were a wolf, would just starve or go eat the deer feeding from your garden. Its beautiful thing but its also nature. We slaughter cows, chickens, pigs, do you think thats a pretty sight.

  22. Cat, you seem like a very intelligent and caring person. we need more people like you in this world and you are very right. However this is not going to change any time soon and for the benefit of other animals we need to correct our mistake of reintroducing wolves. It has unbalanced the ecosystem more than anyone could have imagined. No matter what you hear about how they are good for the ecosystem, it is untrue and irrelevant. The government is acting as if it is a spoiled teenager that doesn’t want to admit they were wrong. In time wolves would have naturally moved back into Montana.

  23. I don’t think reintroducing wolves was a mistake. I’m glad they’re here.

    I don’t think regulated hunting for them is a bad idea. They will continue to survive just fine.

    As with many issues, people with more strident opinions about wolves — on either side — will never be satisfied.


  25. Wolves are magical, beautiful, innocent, and majestic creatures who shouldnt be hunted down. They’re sweet, but protective and only have a bad reputation. They should be honored not hunted.

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