Is Gassing Wolf Pups Better Than Hunting Their Parents?

Environmentalists force a tough choice in the Northern Rockies.

Bozeman, Montana—My father shot the neighbors’ dogs when they formed packs and turned wild at night, killing our sheep. It wasn't something he liked to do, and our neighbors certainly didn’t like it. But most of them understood it was his right to shoot the marauding canines when they began to destroy his property. The same rules can and should apply to wolves owned by the taxpayers, something environmentalists and others are having a hard time accepting.

There haven't always been wolves at Yellowstone. After a lot of lobbying, environmentalists managed to get them reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. This was a good idea. Wolves had been extirpated in the 1920s as a menace to livestock and wildlife like elk. Hunting is forbidden in the park, so without predators to control their numbers, the population of elk and bison expanded, causing damage to the park. For example, elk began fearlessly lounging around stream sides munching on young willows and aspen, drastically depleting their numbers. With fewer willows and aspen to forage, beavers became rarer. Once wolves were reintroduced, elk became warier and spent more time hiding in forests. This has allowed willow and aspen stands to recover which in turn has resulted in an increase in beavers. In addition, the charismatic wolves are attracting tourist dollars to the regional economy.

Of course, wolves do not prey only on dietarily-traditional elk and other wildlife. They also go after cows and sheep on ranches surrounding the park and the national forests in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Hunters also did not want to have to compete with wolves for elk. Consequently, lots of ranchers and hunters in the Northern Rockies opposed the reintroduction of wolves.

In an effort to address the concerns of ranchers and other locals, one environmental group, Defenders of Wildlife, set up a private program to compensate ranchers and farmers for livestock killed by wolves. Over the past 14 years, Defenders paid out $1.4 million to cover livestock killed by wolves. Nevertheless, many ranchers were not satisfied with the program. Why not? Consider the situation of generally pro-wolf ranch manager Todd Graham in Montana’s Madison Valley: A pack of five wolves moved onto the ranch he was managing and began preying on his cattle. Killing cows is bad enough, but the presence of wolves also agitates the herd. Anxious cows are skinny cows. Lost weight equals lost money. Graham estimates that this amounted to an uncompensated loss of around $200,000. Graham tried using a variety of techniques to coexist with the wolves, but they continued to kill his cows and so he eventually got permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to shoot them.

The population of wolves in the Northern Rockies has boomed, rising from 66 introduced wolves to more than 1,700 today. As a consequence, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled in 2008 that the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were “no longer an endangered or threatened [PDF] species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act” and that the restored wolf population “has exceeded its biological recovery goals, and all threats for the foreseeable future have been sufficiently reduced or eliminated.” The FWS agreed to allow the Montana and Idaho state game agencies to manage wolf populations in the future which would include limited hunting. Idaho and Montana authorized managed wolf hunting in 2009, with 72 wolves harvested in Montana and 185 wolves bagged in Idaho. Both states planned to go ahead with a second wolf hunting season in the fall of 2010.

Wolf hunting infuriated many environmentalist groups—including the Defenders of Wildlife, who opposed the FWS ruling that the wolves were no longer endangered by filing a suit in federal court. In August, a federal district judge in Montana vacated [PDF] the FWS decision, declaring instead that wolves still merited endangered status. The judge’s ruling turned on the technicality that while the FWS had decided Montana’s and Idaho’s wolf management plans were acceptable, Wyoming’s was not. In effect, this means that Wyoming’s wolves are still “endangered.” The judge essentially decided that if some Northern Rocky Mountain wolves are “endangered” then all Northern Rocky Mountain wolves are endangered. Head of the environmental consultancy Conservation BenchMarks and Montana resident Whitney Tilt dismisses the judge’s decision as being “without biological merit.” He adds, “Wolf numbers are way past recovery targets with or without Wyoming on board.”

The environmentalist victory in federal court may backfire on wolf advocates. After the judge ruled in its favor, Defenders of Wildlife decided to end its livestock compensation program. The group said its program was no longer needed since the federal government set up a similar $1 million fund in 2009. And since hunting seasons are outlawed, state game agencies are now considering other options for managing wolf populations. Some proposals for controlling wolves include gassing wolf pups in their dens, sterilizing adults, and authorizing “research” hunts. Tilt maintains that wolves should be managed as a protected core in Yellowstone National Park and the seven National Forests immediately around the park. Outside that area, management policies should be linked to the desires of local citizens as expressed through their state governments.

Tilt believes that by opposing reasonable solutions, activists “are doing more to kill wolves by increasing citizen anger against wolves than last year’s wolf hunt.” Ranchers should be allowed to protect their property from wolves, just as my father protected our sheep from our neighbor’s dogs.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Go, Team Edward!

  • canada goose outlet||

    I have to say: your post is amzing!How glad I've read your article.Thanks for the sharing.

  • ||

    Oh, cute little doggie. Does someone need a hug?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Shoot, shovel, and shut up.

  • JD||

    + .30-30

  • ||

    I heard that many environmentalists wear the "three wolves moon" shirt.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Oh, man the comments on Amazon about that are hilarious...

  • Almanian||

    Oh, those were more than hilarious...

    "My son was born without bones. I bought this shirt..."

  • BakedPenguin||

    I loved this one:

    "I bought this in a kids size and put it on my third daughter. The next morning, she had turned into a boy.

    Now I have the son I always wanted. "

  • Jekyll||

    Here's another
    "The effect that this t-shirt has on women is pretty impressive. Unfortunately its natural healing powers reversed my vasectomy and I impregnated nine women in two weeks before I realized. They all had twin boys. Now I have 18 sons and spend most of my money on child support and condoms. "

  • Jen||

    "I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show."

  • ||

    There haven't always been wolves at Yellowstone. After a lot of lobbying, environmentalists managed to get them reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. This was a good idea. Wolves had been extirpated in the 1920s as a menace to livestock and wildlife like elk. Hunting is forbidden in the park, so without predators to control their numbers, the population of elk and bison expanded, causing damage to the park. For example, elk began fearlessly lounging around stream sides munching on young willows and aspen, drastically depleting their numbers. With fewer willows and aspen to forage, beavers became rarer. Once wolves were reintroduced, elk became warier and spent more time hiding in forests. This has allowed willow and aspen stands to recover which in turn has resulted in an increase in beavers. In addition, the charismatic wolves are attracting tourist dollars to the regional economy.

    Science, Ron, you really are a tree hugger, aren't you?

    Do wolves ever kill human beings? Since the odds are that it won't be you being killed, it is a sacrifice you are willing to make at the expense of someone else? If a couple of people you don't know get killed by wolves that is OK cause you really like willows and aspens?

  • ||

    Read that passage more carefully. Ron isn't pro-wolf so much as he is pro-beaver.

    Ron Bailey really, really likes beavers.

  • ||

    Oh, well, can't fault a man for loving beavers. I am quite fond of my wife's, and then it wants to build a dam.

  • ||

    marshall's gottabe a troll. everyone knows married sex is dull to none hun.

  • Abdul||

    Fool! After an in-depth New Yorker investigative report, we know that all libertians are really into Koch, not beavers.

  • Ecolibertarian||

    Do wolves ever kill human beings?

    Essentially, no.

  • SIV||

    Essentially, no.

    Translation:YES

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yes, if you fuck with one. Do gators kill people?

  • SIV||

    Yes. Even when people don't fuck with them.

  • Mr Whipple||

    IIRC, they hunt down the "people eaters". It is not a normal occurrence for gators to hunt people, but it has been a long time since I lived in Fla.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I used to work in an office building by a lake, which had gators (not uncommon for Florida). Some of the lesser lights among my co-workers were actually feeding the damn things. They had to put up signs telling them to stop.

  • cynical||

    So do peanuts. ERADICATE THEM.

  • ||

    Well, I live in state that still has natural levels of wolves.

    Wolves are shy, but also opportunistic. They killed and partially consumed a young school teacher last winter. There have been a number of scary encouter with people walking their pets, but generally these ended with the pet dog being eaten rather than the owner attacked.

    So, 99.9% of all wolves are incredibily shy, but if you meet that 0.1% and game is scarce you can become dinner.

  • Abdul||

    They killed and partially consumed a young school teacher last winter

    Oh, so they're not all bad?

  • Invisible Finger||

    +1

  • ||

    Well, I suppose the wolves did save the Alaska about $1-2m in pension costs.

    The problem is that wolves are only scared of humans because there is a history of hunting. Greenies of course are appalled by all hunting, but particulary wolf culls. We didn't used to read about wolves eating pets in Anchorage (w/ 300K inhabitants!), but now we do.

    BTW, I'm not sure why having a butcher kill a cow for you is morally superior to shooting a wolf for its coat. A 7 mm magnun thought the skull is a much kinder death than the butcher "gtives" the cow.

  • ||

    i dont need to outrun the wolf, just reiner.

  • ||

    That's why I want to my in-laws from California camping.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    Oh wolves have been killing — and eating — people for thousands of years. The great majority of the time the sub-species known as Canis lupus familiaris. (You knew there was a technicality.)

  • Warty||

    I would be shocked if buffalo haven't killed many times as many people as wolves.

  • IceTrey||

  • Mr Whipple||

    Stupid people. I think many people simply do not have a healthy respect for nature. If you fuck with a wild animal, it will fuck right back. I learned that lesson as a little boy when I tried to feed a skunk. I think that was the first time I heard my Grandmother say "fuck".

  • ||

    That was a disproportionate response from the bison. He should be put down.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Wolves hunt in packs, and no, they don't hunt humans. Sour meat, I guess. If a lone wolf is confronted, it will almost always run, until it is cornered.

  • Leroy||

    I hope I get this link right

    wolf attacks

  • Leroy||

    Oh, and in case you were wondering it links to a downloadable pdf of an ancient new york times article.

  • Mr Whipple||

    That's why they have these:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borzoi

  • ||

    LOL - A New York newspaper article (about four column inches) from 1917 about mean old wolves attacking people in Russia?

    OMG - the wild murdering wolves are going to kill us all.

  • Doc Merlin||

    No, our meat is very much like pork which wolves love. The reason they don't hunt us is we killed them for thousands of years, so they have evolved some amount of fear. The longer we go without killing them, the more likely they will start hunting us again.

  • ||

    Except they did kill and partially consume Candice Berner new Chignik Lake...

  • GRRRR||

    She knew that there were wolves in the area... and if she didn't she must have been stupid.

    Don't come to Alaska and think that you can frolic in the wilderness without at least a .45 on you.

  • ||

    There's been many accounts throughout history of wolf attacks. They're predators. No need to overreact either way....

    I'm all for (competent) wildlife management through protective measures and hunting.

  • ||

    I would rather say unlucky than stupid.

    According to people who knew her, she had been carrying as a precaution against bears, but stopped once they went into hibernation. Also, some have thought that she might not have been attacked if she had been walking instead of jogging...

  • Gray Ghost||

    Had always heard that running in Alaska marked you as bear food, and hence was something not to be done. Interesting to see that it works the same way with wolves.

  • Bob||

    So you retards would rather subsidize the ranchers who rent public land for nothing than let nature work?
    Reactionary anti environmentalism is par for the course here not surprised you don't know the whole story.

  • ||

    Are you suggesting culling the ranchers?

  • ||

    I too live near an area (northern Wisconsin) where the wolf population has expanded beyond management goals and has been preying on livestock. The state was in the process of designing a management plan when the Montana judge's ruling came along. Apparently, that decision on the Rocky Mountain packs also gives "endangered" status to wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.

    As it often does in wildlife management decisions, sentiment has trumped science.

  • ||

    Facts: Domestic dogs kill more livestock than wolves do.. look it up. Uncle Sam compensates Ranchers for livestock killed by wolves. Many of these kills take place on Federal lands, which ranchers lease from YOU AND I.

  • Wegie||

    "Many of these kills take place on Federal lands, which ranchers lease from YOU AND I." YOU AND I do not own federal land we just pay for it and have no say in how it is used.

  • SIV||

    Domestic dogs are far more common than wolves.

  • Robert||

    Me.

  • ||

    Tell that to the ranchers who are having stock killed on their own property. That happens and is also fact.

  • ||

    And those domestic dogs are hunted down and killed. No questions asked. No protests. No court ruling. Just protection of property rights. Therein lies the difference.

  • ||

    I'm not sure, but I don't think wolves have natural predators. As such, humans have the duty to improve the fitness of the wolf population and restore the balance of nature by keeping the number of wolves at an environmentally sustainable level. My guess would be that a rifle chambered in .308 Winchester would be a fine tool for keeping our natural world in harmony.

  • Almanian||

    All my rifles are 30-06 Springfield and 30-30 Win.

    Will those be acceptable? They work great managing the whitetail deer population here in MI.

  • ||

    Yes to both.

  • ||

    Marshall Gill: Please provide specific examples of people killed by wolf packs, and then compare those insignificant numbers against how many people see wolves up close. Opinions without supporting data are just that... opinions!

  • ||

    While it hasn't happened in Yellowstone yet google "woman killed by wolves" and you will get plenty of hits. It happened in August in Alaska, IIRC.

    How many people are you willing to sacrifice? The point isn't if bees or dogs or buffalo, kill more people, the point is that shit-bag anti-humans brought the wolves back. If even one person dies from wolves reintroduced into Yellowstone it will be the result of human actions. No problem, a few strangers is a price you are willing to pay? Since you won't be paying it?

  • Chad||

    The number of people killed by wolves in North America is absurdly small....two to be exact. I am sure your beloved automobiles killed more people in, oh, the last hour.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35913715/

  • ||

    And more people are killed slipping in the tub and falling out of bed. What does this have to do with actions taken by others?

    As a representative of the collective you have determined that a death or two is worth it?

    I suppose you mean that you would be fine with someone you know being killed by wolves for the borg collective? Perhaps your life would be an adequate sacrifice to Gaia?

    Mountain lions used to range the entire continental US. I think we should repopulate the area near you because I would really like to see one up close. If you or someone you know or love gets killed as a result, I am willing to make that sacrifice.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Wolf meat make good stew.

  • ||

    Actually not stew, they make good coats.

  • Chad||

    The people being eaten only have themselves to blame. Nothing is more environmentally destructive than people building their McMansions in pristine wilderness. God forbid they live in an urban apartment like me. So yes, I can live with a few red staters being eaten. No one is forcing them to live there.

  • Chad||

    I love spoofs I agree with.

    Yes, if you want to live out in the wild, you had better learn to deal with it.

  • Doc Merlin||

    "Yes, if you want to live out in the wild, you had better learn to deal with it."

    "Dealing with it" is called killing the dangerous wildlife.

  • Ron L||

    There must be a sleazier person than chad somewhere in the world, but it'd take some looking:

    Chad|9.7.10 @ 8:08PM|#
    "The people being eaten only have themselves to blame. Nothing is more environmentally destructive than people building their McMansions in pristine wilderness."
    Regardless of your truly global ignorance, humans are part of the environment, and they build dwellings where they please.

    "God forbid they live in an urban apartment like me."
    God forbid anyone is anything like you.

    "So yes, I can live with a few red staters being eaten. No one is forcing them to live there."
    I can only hope you get run down by some vehicle and suffer greatly before you die.

  • ||

    Cast you eyes to D.C. and you'll find about 400 sleazier people all inthe same building.

  • ||

    Feeding politicians to wolves is the moral equivalent of poisoning them with cyanide compounds. It's inhumane to the wolf.

  • Chad||

    Yes, a death or two every century is "worth it", but I don't even concede the "death or two" in the first place. The free population control services provide by wolves keep the elk, deer, etc populations down, and thereby reduce car accidents.

  • SFC B||

    I'd think you'd be all about car accidents. Anything to raise the negative externalities in car ownership.

  • ||

    Yes, but when humans are allowed to control both dear and wolf populations, there is a nice harvest of tasty meat and warm furs.

    Wolves actually do a pretty poor job of controlling game populations, since generally either over- or under- control said populations...

  • Invisible Finger||

    As a representative of the collective you have determined that a death or two is worth it?

    Chad won't change his mind until an 80-year old blind woman is killed by wolves.

  • Wegie||

    The most dangerous animal to humans is other humans....by millions!

  • SIV||

    Alpha Predator Bitchez

  • ||

    IRS agents!

  • ||

    Stephen: Who "restored the balance of nature" before people lived in Montana and Idaho?

  • Almanian||

    Captain Planet??

  • Steve Smith||

    STEVE DID, THROUGH CONTROLLED RAPE. MUCH MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY THAN GASSING.

  • JD||

    If you've ever been unfortunate enough to be nearby when STEVE SMITH breaks wind, you know just how true that statement is.

  • JEP||

    tyrannosaurus rex

  • ||

  • FedEx||

    Double Bullshit. I've personally seen a group of hippies fight a T-Rex and rescue a hot blonde hippy chick.

  • Apogee||

    Damn posting name.

  • ||

    Wearing a wolf skin bikini.

  • ||

    Actually, adult T-rexes may have been mostly scavengers. Movement studies have suggest they were not terribly quick, but they did have an efficient gait and large olifactory centers...

  • ||

    Actually, adult T-rexes may have been mostly scavengers. Movement studies have suggest they were not terribly quick, but they did have an efficient gait and large olifactory centers...

  • ||

    Before people lived in those places, there were no regulations banning hunting in certain geographic areas. The levels of prey animals dictated the levels of predator animals. Now that we've artificially raised the level of prey animals, an overabundance of predator animals has followed.

    Wildlife management = good sight picture.

  • ||

    Actually, not quite.

    Wolves eat a wide range foods, so that they can locally wipe out certain prey animals (e.g. moose) while thriving on other prey such as shrews, rabbits, etc. For example, in Denali "National" Park about 1/6 of a wolf's diet is salmon. In lean years this percentage rise dramatically, such that overly large wolf populations exist. These wolves then wipe out nearly all of the mosse calves in the spring. Pretty soon, there are no moose, with all sorts harmful impacts...

  • Ron L||

    What is the "balance of nature"?

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    In one word: starvation.

  • Joe||

    Starvation, too many wolves would have equaled not enough food for said wolves, they would have starved or stopped breading. This is no longer applicable today as we have sheep and cattle farms where the density of livestock is far higher than it would naturally be. We have thrown off the balance of nature but in more than one way...

    Besides that isnt even the issue, this is a personal property rigths issue. Farmers have every right to defend their property.

  • Chad||

    So if I dangle a piece of red meat in front of your dog, can I then shoot him?

    Or how about if dangle some candy in front of your child?

  • Chris Hansen||

    "Or how about if dangle some candy in front of your child?"

    Why don't you have a seat Chad?

  • Chris||

    thread winner!

  • Leroy||

    A pig is a dog is a boy.

  • TallDave||

    TODAY'S HOROSCOPE:

    FUCK YEAH

  • ||

    Wolves are far less dangerous to people than deer. The number of people killed or injured each year from dodging or hitting deer is far greater than those injured by wolves, bears, and mountain lions combined. Each of these do kill and injure people, but the numbers are very small. R.D Lawrence, a Canadian author once found himself walking through a huge wolf pack, which expressed no interest in killing and eating him.

    The question is, without cattle, chickens, and domestic pets to eat, what population of wolves does the area support, so that the wolves, elk and deer remain in balance?

  • ||

    Nature doesn't balance. In nature animal population rise and fall. Balance is always a result of intensive game managment.

  • Chad||

    I am sorry, Ron, but I have to disagree. If these ranchers can't coexist with the environment, they have to adapt and deal with it. It is not their right to change it in ways that either spill beyond their property borders, or result in (or likely result in) long-term harm.

  • Ron L||

    I am sorry chad, but I have to disagree. If those wolves can't leave the livestock alone, they'll have to deal with the results. It is not their right to stray into areas where livestock is being raised. They will suffer long-term harm.

  • Doc Merlin||

    "adapt and deal" in this case, likely means killing wolves.... it has for thousands of years.

  • Wegie||

    All the tough guys bragging about their high powered rifles and how they are going to kill the big bad wolf! You mouse dicks are sad.

  • SIV||

    A rimfire works just fine. As always, shot placement is the key.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Rimfire? You guys are fags. OO buckshot. Up close and personal, bitchez.

  • ||

    +.22

  • ||

    +.22LR

  • ||

    Of greater concern here is what impact the increased number of wolves is having on sheep populations.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Sheep fucker?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    You try spending a long cold winter in a ranch house, and then tell me that you still haven't sampled a "Montana Blond"

  • Animal Planet||

    Hmmm...Wolf Wars?

  • Mr Whipple||

    In an effort to address the concerns of ranchers and other locals, one environmental group, Defenders of Wildlife, set up a private program to compensate ranchers and farmers for livestock killed by wolves. Over the past 14 years, Defenders paid out $1.4 million to cover livestock killed by wolves.

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy them some Russian Wolfhounds, and pick up the food and vet bills? Russian Wolfhounds are very good at keeping wolves away, and they are very pleasant animals. I knew a breeder.

  • Doc Merlin||

    Would work for sheep, would it work for cows?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Indeed. There are many ways known the the ancients for keeping the wolves away...or at least reducing their success rate to acceptable levels.

    No need to kill the wolves to protect your livestock...

    Ranchers need to take the world in which they raise animals into account when calculating costs. A rancher/shepherd that goes out of business cuz of wolves is just a bad business wo/man.

  • ||

    Came here to say this.

    Thank you.

    If ranchers (or anyone) didn't take the local wildlife into account before moving in, they were irresponsible.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    What about the guys who bought their ranch between 1920 when the wolves were exterminated and the 1990's when they were re-introduced?

    I guess they should have remembered that it is only a matter of time before the government did something stupid and planned accordingly.

  • Juice||

    They can adapt without wholesale killing of wolves.

  • ||

    NM: Actually, Todd Graham referenced in the column tried a number of techniques including dogs to protect his cows and they didn't work in this case.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ron,
    That doesn't seem to justify a policy of trying to keep wolf numbers down overall, however. It seems the default should be trapping and relocating that wolf pack, prior to killing it off.

    Nature changes and throws various challenges at those trying to live off of it. Sometimes the efforts by humans to adapt their business to the new situation fail. That doesn't, in my mind, justify capriciously harming the environment to minimize that challenge.

    It is, in a sense, an attempt to get a discount on the externalizations of your business. If you allow ranchers to ignore the cost to the environment, then, yes it is cheaper to kill the wolves...but if you factor that cost in, then wolf-proofing costs are part of the cost of doing business (and that includes losses to the herd).

  • ||

    The story of the proposed 'management' of wolves is the story of insanity.

  • Ron L||

    Yep. The presumption that a 'balance' ever existed and it's somehow to human advantage to 'restore' it is a conceit beyond reckoning.

  • ||

    There are places where it works quite well. But invariably those are places where managers occasional have to shoot some (not all) wolves.

  • Environmentalist||

    Sings we a dances of wolves, who smells fear and slays the coward. Sings we a dances of mans, who smells gold and slays his brother.

  • Ron L||

    sings we a stupid non-sequitur...
    (BTW, I'll take the gold)

  • cynical||

    I think it's a pop culture reference of some sort.

  • ||

    What is it with the pro-wolf fetish that most environmentalists seem to have?

  • ||

    See the cool wolf shirt on Amazon.

  • ||

    As someone who actually lives in Idaho and knows the back-country, wolves-shmolves as "man-eaters." I've seen wolves twice cross-country skiing around the Lost River range in winter, once they didn't even realize we were there and the second time they high-tailed it as soon as they saw us.

    Probably thought we were Fish and Game bubble-gummers out to stick'em with a tracking collar; all in the name of some worthless senior thesis in "environmental policy" or some shit. I would've run too.

  • Zippy||

    +2 wolf pelts.

  • ||

    SSS

  • mbt footwear sale||

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ranchers should be allowed to protect their property from wolves, just as my father protected our sheep from our neighbor’s dogs.

    Communicating to the neighbor that he needed to control his dogs or he would end up paying for any sheep lost?

    Or killing the dogs and depriving the neighbor of his property?

    Which one is more in line with libertarian principles?

    Protecting the sheep by killing the wolves shows a lack of imagination. Ron,

    You are constantly talking about how farmers/ranchers are smart, tech-savvy folks (they are). What makes you think they can't figure out a solution that preserves the wolves and their livestock? (they can)

    http://www.sheep101.info/201/predatorcontrol.html

  • Chad||

    Good point, Neu.

    Yet again, you have caught libertarians claiming "The All Powerful Market God can innovate us out of any mess we create...except one created by government regulation, that is. In that case, our God wilts like a flower in the face of the eeeeeviil bureaucrats."

  • ||

    You are such a sad little man.

  • Matrix||

    Chad, you ahve to be the biggest idiot to visit this site. Look where government interventionism has gotten us... a shattered economy on the brink of total collapse, a police state rife with paranoia, an education system that is shameful when compared to other other countries, and an infrastructure in dire need of repair. Yet, you stand on the side of the government, all knowing and all powerful, despite the fact that it cannot solve our problems and only continues to make bad situations worse with more regulation and more control. No no, free markets are evil. Governments are good, despite the fact that they murdered hundreds of millions of innocent people last century.

  • ||

    NM & Chad: Are you all forgetting that government fish and wildlife agents and government bounties are the chief reasons wolves were eliminated in the lower 48 in the first place?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ron,
    What has that got to do with my comment?

    (hint: nothing).

    More importantly, what does the Fish & Wildlife Service have to do with environmentalists? In case you didn't notice...the post at the top of this page is about how environmentalists and the government disagree about what to do about wolves. Their history of poor management (with an emphasis on managing "resources" rather than thinking environmentally) is one of the reasons environmentalists don't look too favorably on on FWS, in general.

  • Joshua||

    "Communicating to the neighbor that he needed to control his dogs or he would end up paying for any sheep lost?"
    The fact that you need to control your dogs goes without saying in the farm environment. Getting a neighbor, unless a friend, to pay for sheep lost would be a legal nightmare. The fees alone would cost more than the livestock. Therefore, if the dogs are trespassing & destroying property, it is entirely appropriate to kill them. The neighbor did not control his property & thus he was deprived of it.

    Maybe you're too urban to understand. Imagine I had an automatic lawnmower & it got out of control & started mowing down your hedges & the only way you could stop it was by destroying it. Would you let it continue to mow your hedges, or would you destroy it?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Spent many a summer on Grandpa's ranch. I understand the situation. Neighbors compensating neighbors doesn't have to involve courts...particularly in small town America. Indeed, shooting the dogs can just as easily land you in court as suing to get compensation. (You would win, no doubt, but if you are worried about court costs neither solution avoids the possibility).

    In a farm (or urban) environment it is important to develop a good working relationship with you neighbor whether they are a friend or not.

  • ||

    I don't see what the deal is here over shooting wolves. Wolves aren't dumb, you pop one or two if they're dining on your livestock and aside from desperate hunger-type situations, the wolves don't come back. Neither does any other social predator that learns from the mistakes of their fellows.

    Look at lions in Africa, figured out a long time ago that people and the animals associated with them are a bad scene, stay away. Mountain lions are the same way in the 'States. Large population here in Idaho, and I've seen one once in my whole life out in the sticks. They just know better.

    Problems with wolves getting shot stem from trigger-happy gun-nuts (militia-lite types) that like shooting critters...that's the problem there.

    The greenie-boppers hate the militia-lites, and the general zeitgeist (no pun!) I pick up from the whole brouhaha is the greenie-boppers putting wolves in places where they know the militia-lites will shoot them, which gives the greenies an excuse to make more PBS specials about the plight of the wolves, cry a lot, write a thesis, and maybe take the militia types to court (Federal land = Federal court).

    Essentially, the wolves are an existential political prop by which the most grapenut lefties and Palin-esque Red State Colluge hicks can get their culture war on, all via public subsidy.

    It's all bullshit, or should that be wolf shit? Sheepshit maybe?

  • ||

    The majority of farmers/ranchers as well as many of the homeowners who live in these areas DID take the local wildlife into account. Wolves weren't part of it--they were re-introduced.

    Because wolves are dangerous animals who do, in fact, prey on man if the opportunity presents itself(we're around deer sized and we can't run for shit, of course we're meat), we got rid of them.

    Being able to get rid of things that would prey on us is the only thing that maintains our precarious perch at the top of the food chain(and, without the right tools, we're NOT at the top of the food chain).

    Wolves once preyed on humans quite naturally--there's a reason a howl sends that delicious chill up your spine--we put a deep fear of man in them by killing them whenever we encountered them. But they don't have that fear naturally--it's gotta be trained into them with wolf corpses.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Killing them whenever we encountered them. This explains why every domestic dog in the world is a genetic descendant of the wolf.

  • ||

    I can't really buy into this concept of wolf-as-man-eater type thing. They just aren't like that, at all. Like most higher-intelligence animals, wolves are very wary of people. Not scared (that's not an accurate description either), but I guess you could say they're smart enough to know better.

    And just for the record, wolf in a one-on-one situation vs. a healthy adult male human is not a shoo-in win for the wolf. Wolf bigger than 100 lbs is freaky-big. Compared to prime-time "wolfy" domestic dogs like Akitas or GSD's, wolves are neither huge, fast, nor especially strong. They are wild and appropriately think every confrontation with another living thing is a fight-of-your-life...that's about there most dangerous feature.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Not allowing hunting is an extremely short sighted policy.

    If you allowed a limited amount of hunting, wolves would become a valued asset to the local community. Hunters would come to Montana and Idaho to hunt for the wolves and would spend money there. Locals would begin to look at the wolves as a source of income (bars, hotels, guides, etc.).

    Look at Africa as an example of what happens when you ban hunting. Countries that allow big game hunting have surpluses of critters. Countries that ban hunting have no critters because of poaching and locals shooting "nuisance" animals.


    In 1989, countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia had elephant populations threatened with extinction. Elephant populations in certain nations in southern Africa, however, were not in danger. Botswana has about 60,000 elephants, about one-tenth of all elephants in Africa. In fact, these countries have programs that involve regulated hunting, mostly by foreigners who pay for hunting licenses, with local community decision-making and participation. Because of the monetary resources derived from limited hunting and community use, these countries are in a better position to afford better patrolling facilities and monitoring because of increased funds. In addition, the local residents are less inclined to kill elephants because they are receiving revenues from "sustainable" use of elephants. Some are even of the mentality that because they have such a high impact; they must "pay their own way". "Communities sell access to their elephants to hunting of photo safari operators, they are increasingly obtaining real benefits from elephants and in return are investing resources to defend their elephants against poachers."


    Revisiting the Ivory Ban

  • ||

    It's cool seeing wolves and other wildlife in the outdoors. Mountain lions are starting to trickle into the area, too. I've seen more wildlife in the city limits of Minneapolis than I ever have when I was livin' out in the sticks.

    This didn't get much news locally but a homeless dude killed a Canada goose in a park to eat and was busted. Those things are outright pests when they've acclimated themselves to urban habitation (I'm talkin' about the bird, wise guy).

  • Invisible Finger||

    All we need is the wolves to backfire on them.

  • Bob||

    What percentage of the livestock killed was on public land? That is the real question. If we didn't basically give away land to ranchers we wouldn't even be talking about this. So all you good libertarians should be all for the wolves eating the government subsidized cows. There is a lot more douchebag bravado than small government sense here.

  • ||

    It seems that the system did not work. Therefore, the logical thing that will happen next will be that the wolves will be killed wihout government supervision. That means that the numbers will go down below what people want. Is this against the law? Sure, but who cares if the law is not working? I would think that it will be more dangerous to be a Fish and Wildlife agent now as well.

  • ||

    But beef is so much better than elk!

  • ||

    That is a matter of taste.

  • ||

    First, the government is pushed into putting Wolves into a setting where (AS ALL THE RANCHERS IN THE AREA SAID WOULD HAPPEN), they began to eat livestock. The BLM did this at the pressure of out of the activists who never have to deal with the dirty details of their liberal fantasies. Then they sue when the government responding to reality allows the wolves to be hunted. Again, I am confident that not much Montana money went to pay those legal bills, even though the plaintiffs were technically from Montana.

    I remain firm in the belief that the people who have to live there should get to be the primary rule makers. If I have 10,000 acres and 500 head of cattle, and I have wolves attacking them, I feel that I have a right to protect my property and family's livelihood. Even if Liberals don't like it.

    Second, the federal lands that are rented to ranchers are not always the best land. The average Cow-Calf Unit in Wyoming is 30-50 acres. Compare that to Nebraska Sandhills where its about 11 acres, or eastern Nebraska, where its about 5 acres.

    If land is 1/3 as productive, its going to rent for 1/3 the cost of better land. The feds own land that sucks (because they couldn't sell it to homesteaders or railroads). It should not surprise anyone that they can't get more for rent.

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  • Wolf Nanaki||

    Wolves are there to maintain a natural and healthy balance in our land's ecosystem.
    We showed up and put a bunch of defenseless cows and sheep right in wolf territory, and then get pissed off when the wolves take notice and start to attack them.
    We threw them out of their natural environment and hunted them to near extinction, people. All because we wanted more elk and cows for ourselves. Thanks to that, we nearly killed off the Yellowstone. And now you're debating if gassing wolf pups is better than hunting them? Are you kidding me? I'll spell it out: they're BOTH WRONG.
    Illegal hunting is wrong, shooting from helicopters is wrong, killing pups is wrong, and blaming a wolf for man-made problems is all kinds of wrong.

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  • ||

    This high maintenance non-endangered non-threatened killer does not belong around Cattle.... no matter what! Even the 2.5 million acres of Yellowstone could not contain the wolves that were released there! Wyoming has the correct Management Program & I hope they do not change a thing..... Montana & Idaho ranchers and sportsman need to realize that they have been lead astray by their game managers. Have the Wyoming ranchers been let down? Their state pays peanuts compared to the millions Montana & Idaho pays.... Montana and Idaho need to put presure on there legistators to send all wolf management back to the feds. That will send a message that there is absolutely minimal local support for this killer!

  • ||

    Some years ago, Minneapolis was having a problem with deer stripping the vegetation in city parks. The ecological answer was to reintroduce wolves into the city. As I recall, other solutions were found. These days, I'd probably vote for such a measure as they would probably eat more Progressives than Conservatives.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    In Africa the pastoralists have older boys/young men stand watch over their cattle. It looks to me like our cattlemen are going to have to hire people to stand watch over their cattle. Between cattle losing weight thanks to stress, cattlemen losing cattle to cougars and wolves, and the cost of setting guards on the cattle expect beef prices to go up.

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