Saturday, May 28, 2011
ABOVE...WOLF BOOTLEGGERS AT WORK, BREWING UP ANOTHER BATCH OF ILLEGAL WOLF STEW
Following Is A LOBO WATCH Editorial Release That Was Written Last October...And Published Here By Popular Demand
By Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH
If it looks like garbage...smells like garbage...and leaves a nasty taste in your mouth like garbage - then it must be garbage. And that pretty much describes the "Wolf Stew" also known as the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project. From the day this project first had heat hit the bottom of the cauldron, it was destined to be little more than a foul smelling witches brew, thanks mostly to simply having way too many chefs.
Without a sufficient base, or stock, a wild array of wolf experts, wildlife biologists, conservationists, smug academic geniuses, environmental organizations, one very abused justice system, unqualified wildlife managers, legal wranglers, a broken Endangered Species Act, naive residents, over ambitious politicians, a crooked federal agency, a far removed public, an egotistical judge, and a way too out of touch hunting industry have thrown in a ton of this, hundreds of pounds of that, an overly generous dash of ego, a pinch of manipulated science, way too much greed, and not nearly enough common sense or forethought. The resulting stew has become so rank that it is now getting tougher to shove this gruel down the throats of those who now have to live with the stench. Here is a look at some of the chefs who have turned this "Wolf Stew" into a bona fide disaster.
Posthumously, good ol' Walt Disney can be credited with the base, or stock, for this poorly mixed concoction.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, Disney produced a large number of fictitious wildlife films, making wildlife more humanlike to a naive public starving for more shows about wild animals. Wolves, mountain lions and bears were always some of his favored subjects, and he and his crew bent over more than backwards to make them look like the All American Family - with a daddy, a mommy, and a kid or two. What this film maker presented was far from the real life of his wildlife subjects. When it came to major predators, like wolves, Disney failed to show what they do most - hunt. And that all wolves consume is meat. To bring home the bacon for the kids, mommy and daddy wolf had to kill, and kill a lot, of other wildlife. Walt Disney's lack of honesty when portraying these apex predators left America with a very false image of the wolf, which his films presented as a kind, caring, loving, warm and sociable animal. In short, his portrayal of the wolf provided a very bland, tasteless base or stock for the "Wolf Stew" project that lay ahead.
Then, through the 1970s and 1980s along came a number of social changes in America, and many of Walt Disney's brain washed young followers became young adults - some moving into the world of academics...some becoming more involved with ecology, to save the World from themselves. And during this period, the Endangered Species Act was established to protect endangered and threatened wildlife species. Which, in itself, is not a bad thing. However, the manner in which it became manipulated has been extremely bad, especially in the way some academic geniuses have used it to force wolves back into ecosystems that have benefited greatly from their absence.
Enter - the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project of the 1990s. The goal, to bring wolves back into the Greater Yellowstone Area, and all along the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana. And to bring this project (a.k.a. "stew") to a boil, a panel of "wolf experts" was assembled to write the recipe for the mix. In a manner of speaking, these were the "sous-chefs" of the wolf kitchen in which they conceived the "plan" (a.k.a. "recipe") for "Wolf Stew". This was the team of under chefs , headed by lead sous-chef Dr. Robert Ream, also the head of wildlife studies at the University of Montana, that determined the mix, the timing, the amounts, the substitutions, and everything else to be thrown into the wolf pot.
So, who has been the chef de cuisine, or executive chef, of this wildlife version of "Hell's Kitchen" ?
That would probably be U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ed Bangs, who has been head of the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project since its inception. And he has been the head pot stirrer all along, doing some major substitution of ingredients along the way.
Two of the ingredients that really sour this "Wolf Stew" have been the lack of official funding and the manner in which the key ingredient, wolves, were brought into the U.S. When Congress failed to authorize funding for the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project, it kind of looked like USFWS would have to shut down the stove. That is, until the agency discovered another source for the millions of dollars needed to keep their kitchen open - they simply robbed the pantry of another kitchen, known as the Pitman-Robertson funds. The money accumulated in this till came from the excise taxes collected annually on firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, archery gear, and other hunting and fishing products. (In 2009 alone, those funds amounted to more than $700-million.) This money has been earmarked to be used exclusively for wildlife habitat and fisheries improvements.
Through the early to late 1990s, USFWS illegally helped itself to as much as $60-million dollars from Pitman-Robertson monies to fund a number of unauthorized projects - one of them the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project. And, if that isn't enough to leave a bad taste in mouths of Americans, especially the sportsmen who provided the money, how they spent that money taints the "Wolf Stew" even more.
Executive chef Ed Bangs seems to have ignored the claims of residents in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming - that pockets of native wolves (Canis lupus erremotus) still existed - and turned to north-central Alberta, Canada to bring in a more robust and more aggressive substitute wolf (Canis lupus occidentallis). Bangs and the Department of the Interior ignored that this would be a violation of the Endangered Species Act. Likewise, USFWS failed to file their own mandatory Form 3-177, which would have documented the origin of the wolves, and the true number of those ingredients thrown into the pot. Without that mandatory documentation, there's no real way to put a true cost on this questionable brew, or how USFWS spent the stolen money.
Adding to the cost of this simmering slop bucket, more than a dozen environmental organizations, such as the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity, have managed to keep wolf management tied up in federal court - and hunters from reducing wolf numbers back closer to the recovery goals established for the "Wolf Stew" plan. That goal was reached seven or eight years ago. Still, these groups fight any attempt to control wolf numbers. Not so much for any real conservation purposes, but so they can push for a meatier mix, with tens of thousands of wolves from coast to coast.
Well, that and for the money.
These organizations have used the wolf as a "cash cow", milking wolf litigation for tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, through a derailed act known as the Equal Access to Justice Act. This very abused federal program allows these "not for profit" organizations to file for reimbursement of their legal costs to keep environmental issues, including wolves, bogged down in court. They've also learned how to generously claim some extremely exaggerated legal expenses. During a six-year period spanning the mid 2000's, dozens of such organizations and groups filed more than 1,500 such lawsuits, mostly against the U.S. government - for which they were rewarded $4.7-billion in reimbursement and restitution. And as hard as "Wolf Stew" may be to continue swallowing, it has become an extremely expensive dish.
One individual who tends to love the smell and taste of this noxious blend of lies and deceit is U.S. District Court judge Donald Molloy, of Missoula, MT. And the environmental groups keep his palate salivating with the ongoing environmental and wolf cases that flow through his courtroom like a well orchestrated never ending evening dinner service. He seems to relish the fact that, despite that the cost of this "Wolf Stew" has been largely funded with money that USFWS literally embezzled...or that the USFWS Environmental Impact Statement and the Northern Rockies "Wolf Stew" recipe that were concocted by very pro-wolf researchers are both rife with misleading and false claims...or that Canadian wolves were illegally brought across the border...and that wolves are now destroying decades of wildlife conservation efforts...this wolf scowl faced federal judge repeatedly decides in favor of those who are plucking U.S. taxpayers of every dollar they can haul back to their lair.
The manner in which Molloy ignores all of the illegal ingredients which have made "Wolf Stew" toxic now has many wondering if he receives a generous tip for the manner in which he chooses to serve "his" justice. Many sportsmen in the Northern Rockies now refer to him as "King Molloy", mostly because of the rich taste he has acquired for power.
These same sportsmen have now also lost their taste for how state wildlife agencies in Montana and Idaho have too willingly allowed USFWS and the environmental groups to freely toss whatever they want into the stew pot. The heaping amount of lies dished out by MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the ID Department of Fish and Game, in their attempts to hide the true number of wolves in these two states, plus to down play the degree of devastation wolves are dealing big game herds, has made it hard for sportsmen in these two states to swallow anything these agencies now serve. Many hunters now feel these agencies no longer serve them, and they are now beginning to throw their rotten garbage back at them.
The longer the heat is applied to this pot of stinking "Wolf Stew", and the more wolf issues continue to decay, the more dangerous the situation becomes. As wolves traverse great distances every day and night, they season the landscape with millions of Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm eggs, increasing the chances of human residents and recreationalists of contracting cystic hydatid disease - or any of more than 30 other diseases wolves carry and spread. During any given 24-hour period, a wolf can cover between 30 and 50 miles of their territory. And any pet that gets in their way stands to end up on the menu...and as big game populations continue to dwindle, humans could as well.
Perhaps it is time to dump the "Wolf Stew" cauldron, and go back to the wildlife conservation recipe that was working all too well - before so many inexperienced wolf chefs jumped in to write their own chapters in introducing a non-native and non-endangered predator into the Northern Rockies. No matter how much well intending greenie wildlife biologists try to write a tasteful recipe for the wolves to fit in with other wildlife populations and a ranching community, wolves only see elk, deer, moose, other wildlife, and livestock as a food source. And it is the wolf's insatiable hunger and lust for killing that continues to spoil any chance of us ever reaching an acceptable balance between wolves and all other living things.
About The Photo - This USFWS/NPS photo shows Yellowstone National Park biologists Doug Smith (squatting at left) and two others as they prepare to release non-native Canadian wolves into the Yellowstone ecosystem...in the name of a "natural balance". Since the first of those non-indigenous wolves were released in 1995, the area has lost 80-percent of its elk population and more than 90-percent of the moose.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Before making the move to Montana almost four years ago, it was the beauty of the mountains, wide valleys, fast running clear streams, wooded ridges and back country lakes that had drawn me here again and again, year after year. Right at the top of all the natural draws which kept me returning was an abundance of wildlife. On any given day in the western half of this huge state, I could possibly see elk, mule deer, buffalo, whitetails, mountain goats, pronghorns, black bear, bighorn sheep, and Shiras moose - with the occasional chance of spotting a mountain lion, grizzly, wolf, or possibly even a wolverine.
Being an avid hunter, it was the diversity of hunting opportunities that finally helped me to decide that Montana is where I wanted to live the rest of my life. Well, that and one very sweet Montana gal with which I had fallen in love. She loves the outdoors every bit as much as I do. And we get out as often as we can, camping just about every weekend during good weather...and often even when it's not so good.
With this said, the title of this piece might make you wonder, "What has changed?"
Unfortunately, a whole lot. And that change began back during the 1970s and 1980s, with the introduction of the non-native Canadian gray wolf into the Northern Rockies. Now, you are probably saying to yourself, "But the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project did not begin until the release of the first wolves in 1995."
But, did it really? There are growing suspicions, and evidence, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, without any authorization whatsoever, released small "experimental" populations of Canadian trapped wolves into remote areas of Montana, Idaho and into Yellowstone National Parks itself in northwest Wyoming. And there is also a growing feeling that those efforts were aided by wildlife studies academics with the University of Montana. Of course, such unauthorized release of wolves is illegal, and that's exactly why USFWS and U of M environmentalists covertly made those transplants in their zeal to re-establish wolves in the Northern Rockies.
The subsequent transplant of wolves, under the auspices of an "authorizied" and "approved scientific based" wolf recovery project was merely a facade to hide the earlier unauthorized transplants and slowly growing wolf populations. Overzealous UM wildlife academics hailed the earlier pockets of illegally transplanted wolves as "discovered" remnants of native wolves, or as wolves which had walked down to Montana from Canada on their own.
According to who is making the claim, there are now somewhere between 1,700 to nearly 5,000 wolves inhabiting the Northern Rockies. The lower number being claimed by those who lied outright about when and where this project got its start or where wolves were released...those who never did document the true number of Canadian wolves dumped into Montana, Idaho and the northwestern corner of Wyoming...or how they literally stole between $45- and $60-million from sportsmen provided excise dollars to, in part, illegally fund the Wolf Recovery Project in the Northern Rockies. The higher population figure of 4,000 to 5,000 wolves is now being claimed by the sportsmen who have seen many elk herds destroyed by as much as 80-percent by uncontrolled (and unknown) wolf numbers, and by livestock producers who have seen a four- or five-fold increase in wolf depredation of cattle and sheep over the past four or five years.
But, that's not what is being written about here. Remember, this is about why anyone looking to visit Montana, or Idaho for that matter, just might want to consider going somewhere else.
If seeing abundant wildlife is what draws you to the Northern Rockies, be warned that the sightings have gotten mighty thin - even in what was once America's wildlife wonderland...Yellowstone National Park. Before the release of those non-native, and certainly non-endangered, Canadian wolves, into the Greater Yellowston Area, the northern Yellowstone elk herd numbered right at 19,000 elk. Due to ever growing wolf numbers, extremely inadequate (more like non-existent) wolf control, and escalating depredation of that herd by wolves, the 2011 count for this herd has dropped precipitously to just 4,400 elk. And the number will drop even more dramatically this coming year, thanks to another elk calf crop that will be right at "0", and elk that are growing dangerously old without the recruitment of young-of-the-year. In 1995, the average age of this herd was 4 to 5 years. Today, the average age is 9 to 10 years, and these elk are reaching an age where reproduction becomes impossible.
The same is happening with elk, moose, deer and other big game populations up and down the northern Rocky Mountain chain.
As wildlife populations plummet, wolves are turning more and more to domestic stock - cattle, sheep, llamas, horses, and especially pet and working ranch dogs. When game becomes scarce in an area, wolves will feed on just about whatever they can run down and kill. And they don't even worry about the killing part. As often as not, they will pull down an animal and eat on it while it is alive - then leave it to die a lingering death. (These are not the wolves Walt Disney sold you, are they?)
If camping is in your plans, should you still decide to come and enjoy the beautiful scenery and fishing, be advised that you might want to bring along some armament. The best would be a good 12-gauge pump-action or semi-autoloading shot gun loaded with "00" buckshot loads - and keep it loaded and handy at all times when in camp, and especially if taking a walk with the family and pet dog or dogs. As much as it may mentally scar young children to see dad or mom shoot one or more of those sweet, loving and cuddly wolves that are hell-bent on eating the family dog, or heaven forbid, to attack a small child that may have fallen, and crying in distress, you have to think about the consequences of not taking a shot or several shots.
Still, even that is not the biggest danger. Wolves are known carriers and spreaders of more than 30 infectious diseases, including rabies, mange, and trichinosis. Perhaps the most dangerous to all other living things is hydatid disease. This is caused by the Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm that has been carried by more than 60-percent of all wolves examined in the Northern Rockies - through the eggs of this parasite which are spread widely by the scat (feces) wolves leave behind everywhere they travel. It is not uncommon for each wolf to cover 30 to 40 miles every 24-hour period, spreading hundreds of millions, if not billions, of those eggs EVERY DAY.
The Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm eggs are microscopic, and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Being that small, they can become airborne with just a gentle breeze - and widely spread by the stiff mountain breezes that are common for western Montana and northern Idaho. Likewise, the eggs can easily be transported by all the free flowing streams of this region. When breathed in or ingested by big game or livestock when grazing, or drinking, the eggs collect in the lungs, liver, blood stream and even the brain, where they can cause puss filled cysts. And once deposited into the ecosystem, these eggs are resilient enough to withstand a variety of climatic changes for a period of several months.
These eggs can also be passed on to humans who would drink right out of a mountain stream, or possibly breath them in when the eggs are airborne. However, the most common transfer of Echinococcosis granulosus eggs to humans likely occurs when people love on their pets, which likely collected the eggs in their hair or fur while frolicking in the wilds also frequented by wolves. Dogs especially will roll in the feces (scat) deposited by other canines, and wolves are canines the same as dogs. We all enjoy loving on our pet dogs, but that may have to be curtailed when you live in or camp and hike where there are wolves. If you allow your dog to lick you on the face, you greatly increase the chances of breathng in or ingesting the eggs of this tapeworm - which could lead to contracting cystic hydatid disease, and forming the cysts in your lungs...on your liver...and possibly on the brain. The latter can be fatal unless the cysts are surgically removed.
It should be noted that your dog can also become infected by the Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm, especially if it is allowed to eat on the internal organ offal left behind when a hunter "field dresses" an elk, deer or moose that may have been riddled with hydatid cysts - or the remains of such left from a wolf kill. So, if you are contemplating spending some time in the "Great Outdoors" of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, or anywhere else there is a thriving wolf population, make sure that little "Fluffy" has all of its inoculations up to date, as if shipping the dog off to war - because in a way you are taking them into a war zone!
But then, you're also headed into the same battle.
Montana and the other "wolf states" of this country appreciate and rely on out of state tourism, and enjoy sharing their outdoors. Unfortunately, thanks to an infestation of wolves which radical green driven groups, like the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife, have fought to allow the populations of which to grow to troublesome numbers, there are now physical and health dangers to take into consideration - for both your family and your pets. Likewise, wolves are quickly pulling down big game numbers, and seeing wildlife has become more and more challenging.
If your goal is to see a wolf, then your chances have increased greatly. But, you have to work at that. Wolves are very secretive animals, running mostly at night...while you're snuggled in your sleeping bag, with your pet curled up against you, inside your tent. Just be sure to keep that buckshot loaded 12-gauge and a good bright flashlight within easy reach...just in case wolves rush in. Or...should a grizzly decide to pay you a visit. Did you know that within Montana's prime grizzly habitat and range, the density of the big bears is greater than across all of Alaska? Or that, with more than 1,000 of the big bears in that range, the number of human maulings and deaths have increased every year?
Again, this is primarily due to the fact that the so-called environmental groups have fought management of the bears, which no longer have any fear of humans. But, that's an entirely different story. -
About The Photo Above: Our neighbor, Lisa, loves to fish...and so does her pre-school aged daughter Laynie. I snapped this photo of the two fishing for Arctic Grayling on a high Montana mountain lake during the Memorial Day weekend in 2009. The area is one of the harder hit areas now being devastated by an uncontrolled wolf population...and when fishing here I now insure that I either have my .44 Magnum strapped on...or my "00" buckshot loaded 12-gauge real close at hand.