Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Killing Wolves: A Hunter-Led War Against Science and Willdife

"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes, something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” -- Aldo Leopold, 1949

We Americans, in most states at least, have not yet experienced a bear-less, eagle-less, cat- less, wolf-less woods. Germany strove for maximum yields of both timber and game and got neither.”  -- Aldo Leopold, 1935

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." -- Aldo Leopold, 1949

2014: Idaho Fish and Game recently hired a bounty hunter to try and eliminate two packs of wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States. Idaho hunters have organized wolf-killing competitions and killer co-ops to pay trappers to kill wolves. The state legislature and governor declared wolves a "disaster emergency" and have allocated $2 million to killing wolves. More recently the department conducted secretive aerial shootings of wolves from helicopters with no public knowledge or input and spent $30,000 to kill 23 wolves. Idaho Fish and Game is doing this and more in an ongoing effort to appease many ranchers and hunters to protect livestock and maintain artificially high and unhealthy numbers of elk for hunters to shoot at.

One of the cornerstones of our "North American Model of Wildlife Conservation" -- which hunters and hunting-based organizations love to tout and claim to support -- is that wildlife, all wildlife, be managed based on good, sound science.  That good, sound science shows that the return of wolves to much of the western United States has resulted in significant overall, long-term benefits to wildlife and the habitat that sustains them -- including the species we love to hunt. (Check out: "How Wolves Change Rivers.")

Elk populations are increasing in most of the West. In Idaho, the fish and game department is expanding elk hunting to reduce elk populations while simultaneously killing wolves under the guise of protecting and boosting elk numbers. Where elk populations do appear on the decline there are plenty of factors to consider in addition to wolves: Changes in habitat; the previous existence of artificially high elk populations at levels beyond the viable carrying capacity of the land; lack of mature bulls and low bull-to-cow ratios in herds (often resulting from early season hunting and too much hunting pressure on bull elk) which influences the timing of the rut and breeding behavior, the timing of spring calving, and often results in increased vulnerability of elk calves to predation; influence of other predators including mountain lions, black bears and grizzlies; unanticipated impacts of various hunting regulations and hunting pressure, and changes in behavior and habitat use by elk in the presence of wolves. And more.

Where I hunt, the growing presence of wolves has changed the behavior and habits of elk. Elk bunch up more for safety, and move around more to evade and avoid wolves. They are a lot more wary. I have adapted and adjusted to these changes and have no problem finding elk.This is part of the beauty and value of hunting within wilderness -- to adjust, adapt and be part of the landscape; to be, as my friend David Petersen put its, part of the "bedrock workings of nature."  We render the wilds a diminished abstract when we alter it to suit our own needs and desires and, in the process, make it less healthy and whole. There are those who espouse the virtues of backcountry hunting and yet seem apathetic or supportive towards the destruction of backcountry integrity. Those who understand the wilds know how critically important predators are to the health of the land; to remain silent about the nonscientific, politically-based killing of wolves in the wildest of places is to be complacent towards the degradation of what we claim to cherish.   

Yet hunters, in general, hate and blame wolves for pretty near anything and everything including their own lack of skill, knowledge and effort in hunting elk. Science is shunned and ignored. David Allen, the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,  a national hunter-based conservation organization, claims wolves are "decimating" elk herds and calls wolves the "worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison" despite research funded by the organization that shows otherwise. Most of what many hunters claim to know and understand about wolves and wolf and elk interactions is based on myths, lies and half-truths; they rapidly and angrily dismiss logic, facts and science as coming from "anti-hunters," "wolf-lovers" and "tree-huggers" from "back East." Most hunter-based conservation organizations and state agencies avoid the topic for fear of being pegged "one of them." Many actually help perpetuate the lies and half-truths to boost and maintain membership. Some try to come across as reasonable by stating that they think wolves should be managed just like other wildlife, such as elk. 

But wolves are not elk; being a top predator they have altogether different, and self-regulating, reproductive and survival behaviors and strategies. "Other" wildlife, such as elk,  are managed based on science -- based on what we know about behavior, ecology, breeding behavior, habitat use and selection and other factors. Wolves are being managed purely based on politics driven by ignorance and hate.  Many hunters and others in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho long advocated for the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act and turning management over to the states. It happened. And now these states -- particularly Idaho -- are doing what they can to kill as many wolves as possible, science be damned.

Idaho is proving over and over that their state cannot handle the scientific, sustainable management of wolves. No public agency should have the power to decide such things as Idaho Fish and Game is doing with so little public accountability and oversight. They are acting on behalf of a small, but politically-influential segment of our population based on pure politics, lies, myths, misconceptions and half truths about wolves and ignoring what we do know about wolf biology, ecology, behavior and interactions with and impacts to elk.

As an avid and passionate hunter in Montana (who has killed and eaten 26 elk over the years) I am absolutely disgusted that no hunter-based conservation organization -- most of which claim to support and defend sound, science-based management of wildlife -- are speaking out against this slaughter which is a clear violation of the North American model of wildlife management these organizations claim to uphold. At best, many hunters and hunting-based organizations are remaining silent for fear of being ostracized; at worst, most hunters and hunting organizations are supporting this. More and more I feel like an anti-hunter who hunts. It's embarrassing, appalling and outrageous.

Even groups I support and respect, including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and National Wildlife Federation are ignoring and avoiding this clear violation of science-based wildlife management and our North American Model of Wildlife Conservation they claim to uphold and defend -- I can only assume as to not upset their membership base.

As Aldo Leopold so aptly put it more than 50 years ago: "The sportsman has no leaders to tell him what is wrong. The sporting press no longer represents sport; it has turned billboard for the gadgeteer. Wildlife administrators are too busy producing something to shoot at to worry much about the cultural value of the shooting."

I am growing increasingly disgusted and angry towards my so-called fellow hunters, and most hunter-based organization, for continually talking "Aldo Leopold" and the "North American Model" out of one side of their mouths while ignoring or even supporting this sort of political, nonscientific "management" of a critical keystone, umbrella wildlife species that plays a critical role in shaping, maintaining and influencing healthy wildlife and wildlife habitat for all species -- including the species we love to hunt and the habitat that sustains them.

This is one of the flaws of our current and mostly good system of wildlife management in which states generally have full authority over managing their wildlife. State fish and game departments, such as Idaho Fish and Game, are overseen and controlled by state politicians and game commissioners (who are often ranchers and hunters) appointed by politicians -- and the hunting and ranching industries have more influence over state decisions than others. Aldo Leopold, widely considered the "father" of modern wildlife management, warned against such things more than 50 years ago.

A recent report about the flaws of the North American Model summed it up this way: "The scientists also express concern that the interests of recreational hunters sometimes conflict with conservation principles. For example, they say, wildlife management conducted in the interest of hunters can lead to an overabundance of animals that people like to hunt, such as deer, and the extermination of predators that also provide a vital balance to the ecosystem."

It needs to change.

More than half a century ago Leopold wrote: "I personally believed, at least in 1914 when predator control began, that there could not be too much horned game, and that the extirpation of predators was a reasonable price to pay for better big game hunting. Some of us have learned since the tragic error of such a view, and acknowledged our mistake."

We still haven't caught up to Leopold.

If we hunters truly believe in sound, science-based wildlife management, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, and the ideas and principles preached and promoted by the likes of Aldo Leopold, then it is time to speak up.

54 comments:

  1. Diane Bentivegna, Ed.M.March 6, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    Thank you for this refreshingly honest and well-supported essay. Clearly, the men and women who comprise the hunting community in the 21st century bring a great deal of integrity to the national conversation about the North American Model of Conservation and its principles.as well as state-level wildlife management as it is presently practiced throughout our nation. It is my hope that we all can work together to bring your message to a table of many stakeholders who will commit to working together to improve policy, protect habitat and conserve our wildlife. Kudos!

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    1. Thank you, Diane, for your kind feedback. I hope the hunting and wildlife-management community will someday catch up to Leopold.

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    2. War on Wildlife by Hunters and Ranchers and their supportive Ilk is strong right now and probably always has been as our forefathers marched acress this land killing everything in sight and routinely killing predators. Now sportsmen are essentially farming ungulates, particularly elk, under the mistaken not proven idea that it works, by marginalizing and even attempting to eradicate predators again. I have met many hunters and ranchers and outfitters in my country, Montana, who have nothing in their heads but folklore, lies and myth which they just keep repeating and the papers parrot what they say instead of printing some truth, doing some investigative reporting. The feelings for woles is a visceral hate and maybe even fear. I do have some acquaintances who are hunters who are disgusted by trophy hunting and predator persecution and would rather hunt in the truly wild rather than the farmed wild and know of a few ranchers who would live with wildlife instead of against it although that is not their tradition. Even MT FWP via their magazine in the March-April 2014 issue on the Wolf: Striking a Balance, finally told their readers that elk numbers are at or above target levels in all parts of the state. Now if only the wolf massacre states of MT-WY-ID-WI-MI would leave the wolf numbers alone, I think they would stabilize and manage their own population levels as they have in YNP and OR. Oregon has the model wolf management policy of the nation with emphasis on non-lethal management and killing only particular problem (chronic) wolves or packs. It is good to hear some integrity and sportsmenship from some hunters and some ranchers.

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    1. Right on the money, Dave. Hunters are just people. The hunting subculture precisely reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the mother culture. And as a national culture we have grown stupid, selfish and arrogant, with the rise of the Tea Party as evidence. Hunting can only be morally justified today if wildlife management strives first for science-based ecosystem balance and health, not tag sales, income and politics. You neglected to mention Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) which is leading the call for extermination of wolves and other predators that RMEF, SCI and other pseudo-sportsmen groups are marching behind. The concept of a "thoughtful sportsman" in the Leopold mold is becoming an oxymoron. Yet, we are out here and you are one of us. Thanks for the truth. --Elkheart

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    2. Thanks Elkheart! You have been a good and positive influence on the way I think.

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  3. This was very well written and I largely agree.

    The position of the RMEF doesn't really surprise me, but the silence of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers does. I think I know what their positions are though. Because of the special circumstances that brought the wolf back to the western landscape (an agreement that USFWS would be involved in management) the wolf has a different criteria in terms of what is ethical within the North American Model than do other critters. Legally I think this is a fact, but ethically I think it is time to treat wolves like we so other game animals, and we should be strictly using hunting as our management tool. Paying people to slaughter wolves is bad for everybody.

    Though it's not really relevant to central point in this post, I'm curious as to whether you are opposed to wolf hunting in general?

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    1. Thanks for your good, honest feedback. I have concerns about wolf-hunting in general, and I would never kill a wolf myself. However, I do recognize that there are times and places where it is appropriate and perhaps even necessary to kill some wolves. In those cases, I support the efforts if the actions are justified, based on good, sound science and the hunting is conducted in accordance with our democratic and fair-chase hunting traditions.

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  4. Great piece David. As a hunter I was taught to be brave, honest and resolute. These seem like lessons that are no longer taught or honored. And just as we have to differentiate between ethical hunters and shooters, we have to call out those groups--like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation--who cloak themselves in camouflage while acting more in concert with the interests of the livestock, timber, energy and mining industries and commercial guides. I will share around. Bob Ferris--Cascadia Wildlands

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  5. Unfortunately, hunting has evolved to be a huge multi-billion dollar industry, so dollars control far too many management decisions. I agree that it is also unfortunate that the national conservation community is not "up in arms" about what is going on with respect to the Gray wolf. We as taxpayers, have spent millions of dollars to repatriate wolves to the Rocky Mountain west, and now state agencies and spending tax dollars to try to exterminate them. So much just doesn't make sense these days.

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  6. My compliments on a thought provoking and very well written article. I also disagree with the approach IDF&G took with "wolf management" in the Frank. It seems to me that if there is one place in the lower 48 that we should strive towards some semblance of hands off game management, this would be it. That being said, I don't find IDF&G's actions so surprising or even unorthodox for that matter. No state game agency acts on science alone, public opinion/input is, has always been and necessarily will continue to be a significant component of the policy making equation. Presently the majority (at least the vocal majority) of Idahoans are not happy with current wolf population numbers within their State, which even after this removal of the 8 or 9 wolves from the Big Creek watershed, are still significantly above recovery objectives .
    I also do not always agree with every statement/decision made by David Allen, however I do feel the RMEF remains a very viable and important advocate for conservation. Namely the RMEF has carved out a financial position for themselves that often enables them to facilitate habitat protection at a scale other conservation organizations simply can not. And ultimately, without habitat the arguments about what is and is not sound game management are simply moot.
    Finally I support "sticking to your guns" (if you will) and advocating for sound, scientifically based game management. I feel that your essay above is a fantastic way of accomplishing just that and I plan on sharing it.

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    1. Shannon: Thanks for your good, thoughtful feedback. You bring up many good points.

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  7. Well done-bravo. "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Thanks for the great post

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    1. Thanks. It's time to start really listening to Leopold!

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    2. He resonates more today than ever....

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  9. Dave, You both challenge and inspire us. That seems to be a habit of yours.
    T.R. once observed: "The best thing to do is the right thing. The next best thing to do is the wrong thing. The worst thing to do is nothing." In predator conservation the hunting community, as you point out, has gone straight to T.R.'s 'next best thing.' If held to a strong public accounting hunters can be brought up their back-track to do the first best thing. Only through brave, moral leadership can hunters avoid having to live out the polite-but-biting indictment of Americans: "Americans will always do the right thing - after they have exhausted all other options." (said by Winston Churchill who knew us too well.)
    If a moral, natural hunting way of life survives further into the 21st Century I predict a time will come when amoral relics such as the B&C point system will fall into the dustpan of history, and the ability to hunt and kill a master game animal like a wolf or cougar without use of gadgetry will be the master's standard of a hunter's mettle. And we will honor these animals as most worthy adversaries in the hunt rather than despising them. For if the hunted is without honor how can the hunter attain any such distinction?

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  10. Dave, this is an excellent and well written piece. I am by no means a hunter and would go so far as to call myself a dedicated environmentalist/conservationist. I don't hunt myself, but most of my extended family both here and on the east coast are avid hunters and even though I am personally opposed to the act, I can still appreciate their enthusiasm for the sport - as well as yours.
    I've always found it odd that those who are so for a lifestyle that takes them out of doors and into nature would want to remove certain features of that landscape and heritage.
    I think that the hunting community, as well as the conservationists, would be surprised at how well both sides could get along given an approach such as the one you presented here.
    BTW, I just finished reading 'Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West' by Bryce Andrews which documents alternative ranching methods (another sore subject for some) and interactions with the wolves in MT.
    Thanks again for the great read.

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    1. Thanks. I agree that we could all get along. Theodore Roosevelt did not always see eye-to-eye with John Muir, and Muir often took potshots at Roosevelt for being a hunter. But when the two got together in Yosemite in 1910 they not only became friends, but they became a united and potent force for conservation. We could learn a lot from them. I will check out "Badluck Way." Thanks for mentioning it.

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  11. Dave, I certainly don't think BHA is avoiding the issue. For example, here in Alaska, our chapter has been very vocal about extreme predator control plans that seek to put a moose and caribou behind every tree and rock.

    The wolf reintroduction in the states has unfortunately been a boon to the anti-predator mindset. It's spread to Alaska in many ways too. Who'd of thunk that we'd be trapping bears and shooting bears from helos? That all started due to the influence of some of the kill-the-predators orgs.. "Make more pie" for hunters and all that. Sadly, it's a pretty easy sell to too many hunters. That's why the new name for bears up here is "calf-killer."

    In hindsight, I wish the wolf reintroduction in the states had never happened. It's allowed the extremists to rule the roost and con/force other orgs into their corner, like RMEF, who really know better. Certainly they should know better. The tide is not in favor of science or reason.
    Mark Richards

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    1. Mark,

      Thanks for you good, thoughtful reply. I am glad to hear that BHA is taking on predator control in Alaska. I stand corrected. I am a member of BHA and greatly admire and respect the organization and its leaders, many of whom are friends. BHA represents the best of hunters and hunting. However, I am frustrated by conversations with BHA leaders who have told me they will not get involved and comment on the events in Idaho for fear of losing membership, which is unfortunately probably true.

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  12. I am a resident of Austria, Central Europe (right next to Germany). Here, the last wolf was killed more than a century ago, the equally exterminated, but slowly returned lynx are fighting for survival, our critically endangered and strictly protected brown bears just "vanished" thanks to irresponsible poachers... the biggest predator left is the red fox, mercilessly hunted under various cheap excuses. Add to it centuries of agriculture, landscape management, exploitation of all natural ressources, timber farms with non-indigenous, fast growing trees and persistant industrial pollution, and you end up with one third of all animals and HALF of the plants being endangered, critically endangered or locally extinct. Take a walk in or along some forest, and what you will see are deer, roe, rabbits and in some areas wild boars. You will hear traffic noise, chainsaws, in fall gun shots (if you dare to enter the forest during hunting season) and mostly the same birds you could also hear in a park in the mddle of a city. Is this really the future American hunters and hunting organizations want? Semi-sterile timber & game farms and continually fading biodiversity? Really nothing MORE than that? Come and visit Austria - and take a CLOSE look at our "lush nature" before you decide.

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    1. Thank you, JoDeKay, for your most eloquent & true comments. While there may be some hunters out there who view themselves as good, ethical, perhaps the time has come for them to lay down their weapons, in light of what is happening with global climate change and the worldwide decline of most large species (and many small ones). If there are some :"ethical" hunters out there, their hunting industry and their "management" agencies are still exterminating the wildlife. Increasing numbers of people like myself do not accept the new mantra by some hunters who claim they are not part of the problem. If a hunter (or trapper) really has had an epiphany about what is happening to native wild animals, the best solution would be to stop hunting/trapping and join the side of the non-humans.

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  13. I cannot thank you enough and I plan to share this article with everyone I know. Bravo to you.

    My heart is heavy over the recent 23. There have just GOT to be enough liberals in Idaho to vote some of these bastards out. There has to be. Because, it seems, conservatives cannot be educated. They don't want to know the truth.

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  14. Thanks for posting this, Mr. Stalling. So much false information, ignorance, negativity and sadness relating to the plight of the wolf seems to dominate the news these days. I am always grateful to read anything that is positive or uplifting.

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  15. Hunters and trappers have been calling themselves conservationists, and there are a few and ranchers too but they are few, on a more frequent basis it seems and cite early efforts to save game species (birds and ungulate herds) and fishes and on-going efforts. Some early "hunter-trapper conservationists" of considerable note were early pioneers in conservation: Teddy Roosevelt was one but he also founded numerous national parks and wildlife refuges to protect wildlife from hunter-trapper sportsmen. Aldo Leopold was one, hunter and naturalist, who became more enlightened about protecting the wolf and other predators and their place in the ecology. George Grinnell was one and also founded national parks including Glacier. I have met, know some hunters, that like a balanced ecology of predators and prey, a true wilderness in which to hunt, and who disagree with trophy hunting-- and one who compares killing wolves to shooting his neighbor's German Shepherd. But such hunter-sportsmen are far from often on the landscape; most have a very irrational, uniformed, visceral hate of wolves in particular and predators in general and want to minimize, marginalize, or exterminate them and farm ungulates and game birds. Some even hate raptors who take their birds and their fish, as they view ungulates as their elk or deer. Nebraska only has about 70 cougars yet is embarking on a vigorous "management" campaign, as is SD with only 170 cougars. Alaska is killing wolves just outside national parks. Since wolves have been turned over to state "management" 2700 wolves have been killed plus another 3435 by the rogue USDA Wildlife Services which kills a million animals a year in the name of control. Organizations of sportsmen such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has offered bounties and cooperative agreements with agencies for wolf killing and the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife recently donated $15,000 o Wildlife Services for killing wolves and coyotes; and sportsmen organizations are silent on predators if not unashamedly hostile but loud on protecting and farming game species. States like ID-MT-WY-WI-MI have vigorous unscientific, political drive-down-the-wolf-population policies, trapping, extended seasons, and liberal kill policies year around. Much of this wildlife killing is done by trapping, a barbaric, horrendous way to kill and mostly unjustified. Trapping on public land is mostly done for "recreational" sports killing, the fur trade, trophies, with little regard for ecology and the interests of the general public, wildlife viewing, safety of the general public, and it takes a large toll in collateral damage to non-targeted animals, and is overly touted as need to control.

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    1. Roger,

      I've been a trapper in Alaska for thirty years now, and don't consider it barbaric and horrendous. In fact, I firmly believe it has put me more in touch with my surroundings and made me a better hunter-conservationist. Pigeonholing trapping and painting it with a broad derogatory brush is not a justified or smart way to oppose what is going on with wolves in Idaho or anywhere else, imo.
      Mark Richards

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    2. Though your indentationless tirade might have made you feel better, it vastly overgeneralizes sportsmen and sportswomen.

      Yes, the wolf has brought out the negative side of many hunters and hunting organizations, and its too bad. The good news is that though much of the management practices we are seeing regarding the wolf are unethical, the wolf isn't going anywhere. Despite three years of anti-wolf hunting organizations screams to the contrary. Hopefully, everything dies down and eventually we use what we should be using for our management tools-fair chase hunting.

      Make no mistake though, no cohort of the population has done as much for wildlife as the hunter. Hunters are the ones preserving the vast majority of country that is ripe for development out there - millions of acres. When certain segments of the population are trying to sell off our public lands, it is sportsmen guarding the gates. When people try to shut us out of our lands and streams, it is by and large sportsman fighting back. When it comes time to study wildlife -both game and nongame species- it is almost entirely sportsman dollars funding the research. When it comes to habitat improvement, you guessed it.

      Your Wuerthner-esque paragraph above points out that the sportsman who gave us our public lands legacy set aside areas devoid of hunting, which is true. For example, 84 Million acres exist in the National Park System, but you leave out the other roughly 600 million acres of federal land that is open to hunting.

      The reaction to wolves has not been good, though, it should be noted that prior to introduction it was agreed upon that the USFWS would be involved in management, for better or worse. Slaughtering packs, contracting out the killings, and engaging in sensationalism makes hunters look bad. But if you think sportsman are "essentially farming ungulates", you don't know a damn thing about hunting in the west, and this whiny denial of the real and positive effects of the heritage of hunting when it comes to public lands and the wildlife we have in the west makes you seem like an apologist for what is an obvious anti-hunting agenda-no matter the type.

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    3. Dear Anonymous Alaskan Trapper - I don't KNOW you, so no point in attacking you personally. Just a few questions, as you are an "experienced trapper" after thirty years: Would YOU place traps close to recreational areas, camping grounds or well frequented hiking trails? Or would you place a baited trap right ON the border of a National Park, knowing fully well the ONLY "target animals" would come OUT OF that Park? Would you leave those traps out there unchecked for a week or even longer? Do you trap during breeding and rearing season? Or would you place traps after "a few beers", simply forgetting their location? What do you do with - possibly injured - NON-target animals in your traps? IF a collared dog got caught in your trap, given that you place your traps close enough to inhabited areas to endanger pets - would you bother to inform the owner, just let the dog limp off or kill it and dispose of it in some ditch? Not to mention, would YOU intentionally trap and cripple your neighbor's dog because "it sniffed around in your backyard"?
      As you say you are a hunter, too - would YOU shoot five times at a collared dog, with the owner yelling at you to stop that, because you "thought it was a wolf"?
      I am sure you know the reason for those questions. I admit, I am an opponent of trapping in general - but there ARE things going on even long-time hunters or trappers considering themselves as being "conservationists" SHOULD be opposed to!

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  16. hunters and trappers are anti-wildlife terrorists. They are a scourge to wildlife

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    1. I'm 100% for the wolves and the environment as well, but this is just trolling - whether you truly believe this or are just a hunter posing as something else.
      This, as well the article "Should Wolves Remain Protected" the author links off in the margin, are both excellent perspectives on the topic at hand. I would hope that people on both sides of the aisle will read them and I plan on sharing them with as many as I can.
      Thanks to David for his writing.

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    2. Are you Mark Richards??

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  17. Thank you David Stalling for a well written piece. It is so refreshing to hear your words coming from a perspective that is usually anti wolf. I do understand there are many responsible and reasonable hunters out there. They just typically have something very different to say. So thank you for stepping up and forward. I have shared your words and will do so whenever possible. It would be great for our wild lands and wild life if the majority of those who wish to enjoy them could do so with this kind of attitude.

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  18. Dave

    Well said, science coupled with the fair chase ethic. As a traditional bow hunter who pursues the prey to celebrate them and my own humanity, I couldn't have said it better. Being in the wild without top end predators diminishes the experience. Your right "silence is not an option". Keep it up.

    Semper Fi
    Mike Herdering
    Col. USMC (ret)

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  19. Thank you. I live in Newfoundland. Thanks to the actions of hunters there are no wolves here. They were hunted to extinction. Thanks for speaking up.

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  20. Thanks for speaking up against what is. I have to question US interest groups are paying bounties in Canada to encourage wolf hunting in Alberta http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/scientists-criticize-alberta-wolf-bounties

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  21. In a way, I long for hunters to step up and start to courageously take on the hunter conservation pretenders. On the other hand, if they don't, I can see the groudswell of anti-hunters growing in response until it is a force that cannot be stemmed. It will mean the end of hunting when that happens.

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    1. Very true. Let's hope the "Leopoldians" among us prevail.

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  22. I absolutely agree with the comment made that if hunters cannot speak out against the hunter/ conservation pretenders, anti-hunters will, in time, step into the void and eventually end hunting. There are far fewer hunters than non-hunters and if the rhetoric remains polarized and heated enough, non-hunters could win out via strength in numbers. This is not the hoped for outcome, but if both sides remain committed to their points of view and escalate the action/reaction element, then one side will have to "win," and the other will "lose". Mr.Stalling, I hope that cooler heads prevail because this situation is becoming entrenched and subject to emotional, rather than intelligent, outcome. I hope more hunters band together to speak out against this non-conservation movement and ensure responsible hunting for generations to come.

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    1. Well said Donna! Thanks for the good feedback.

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    2. I agree but it seems that Dave is a diamond in the rough. One of the few who are educated, eloquent and brave all rolled into one package. What a man!

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  23. This is an impressively eloquent statement. It's refreshing to read an article by a man who has his head on straight; you have earned my respect. I've shared this on as many platforms as I can. I wish more hunters who didn't buy into the anti-wolf propaganda would have the courage to speak out as well.

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  24. Hey David. Just found your blog-page. Insightful essay on killing wolves - I would expect nothing else from you. I shared on Facebook & hope that it gets a few more readers. This deserves wide circulation! Hope you winter is going well, lots of snow here in Cooke, but scary Av. conditions.
    Jesse Logan

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    1. Jesse! Thanks for the nice feedback, and great to hear from you! I hope all is well. We need to catch up. Please email me at: stallingd@gmail.com

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  25. Eloquent and beautifully written. I have sent on down the line. Thank you!

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  26. I grew up in Idaho (Pocatello); junior high school, high school and college. I remain astounded by the ecological illiteracy displayed in the Gem State today.

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  27. Dave- Thanks for your well written and honest assessment of the state of Hunting in the US right now....Seems quite a bit passes for "hunting" today that really bears no resemblance to what I saw growing up.......Today several States have brought back the bounty......We see coyote killing contests where fake sportsmen pose behind a pile of dead coyotes.....They call this "helping farmers" or "keepin coyotes in check" because everyone knows they are eating all the deer and elk fawns.....They completely ignore the tenets of the NAMWC.......http://www.petersenshunting.com/2014/03/07/coyote-contests/

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  28. I have long wondered why ethical hunters have not publicly spoken out against the senseless wolf persecution that is now being carried out by states such as Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The collective voices of ethical hunters would certainly carry a lot of weight as it relates to this issue. Thank you Dave for saying what needs to be said. We need more ethical hunters to find the strength and courage to publicly oppose (and expose) the inexcusable wrong that is being done to wolves.

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  29. I may not agree with hunting generally, but I'd share a few beers with you. Well said, good on ya, eh.

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