Calls for help have been largely ignored as the agenda of the expansion and overpopulation of apex predators continues by our powers that be, as does the havoc it wreaks.
The Buck Stops Nowhere … One Man’s Thoughts
Ah, where to begin with this conundrum in a quagmire that is grizzly bear management in Montana? I can assure you that this isn’t a story that can be told with few words. For the sake of time I am going to give you the short version.
Let us go back 30 or more years to a time before our State and Federal wildlife and land agencies took up residence with what has been deemed as “environmental” organizations. A time before nearly 100 years of sound wildlife and forest conservation was abandoned along with the North American model of hunting. A time when said agencies had the respect of the people that paid their wages, a respect that was earned based off their performance. A time when hunting organizations were actually hunting organizations, not decoy groups for environmental extremist organizations whose mantra is- “the end justifies the means.” A time when the livelihoods of all Montanans was considered. Starting to lose you? Please be patient and I will do my best to explain.
In those days, Montana was a place that captured the heart and soul of every outdoor enthusiast, hunter and fisherman that lived there or who visited. It had it all. Wide open spaces that traveled seemingly endless across its badlands and into the Great Plains and prairies before finally being interrupted by one of multiple mountain ranges, each with its own unique characteristics and beauty, and none more iconic than or as large as the Rocky Mountain range. In all, these mountains held over 80,000 square miles and Montana as a whole encompassed just over 147,000 square miles. Streams and rivers for endless miles to the delight of many an angler and recreationalist. An abundance of wildlife, even grizzlies. It was a place whose heritage of Native Americans, hunting, fishing, ranching and farming rang so loud the whole world could hear it. It ran in the veins of so many people that called this place their home. Like grizzly bears, it was a big part the essence and pride of modern-day Montana.
In many ways, the same holds true today but it has had a special kind of twist added to it. Moving forward now to the year 1995, when the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan was implemented. I am sure some of you reading this are wondering what wolves have to do with grizzly bear management. Stay tuned as I give my best explanation in this too short of space. Honestly, it would require a novel to give it the explanation it deserves.
This was the transition period that changed everything. The years following this “non-essential” and “experimental” wolf recovery project began to reveal that something very different was going on with the agencies/departments that manage our wildlife and land. This was the time when grizzly bears should have been taken off the Endangered Species List (excluding grizzly in areas that should have never been put on the list in the first place) to be managed in an appropriate manner that ensured their existence in Montana’s vast landscape for all the years to come, while also taking into consideration their impact on human livelihood. A time when our governing bodies should have taken a stand to uphold the oath they took.
Instead something very different happened. This became the time when the buck stopped nowhere. Something that continues today as an agenda seemingly from hell for many people in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington and the Mid-West, continues to unfold. A time when the ranchers, hunters and people in general were betrayed. As the years rolled by it became a time when heavy losses of deer, elk, moose, pets and livestock were witnessed in the western parts of Montana, all of Central Idaho, and into its northern regions and also Northwest Wyoming. This epidemic is now being realized in eastern Oregon as well as Eastern Washington and other parts of our nation. These losses have been well documented by many people although it rarely, if ever, makes the headlines. Calls for help have been largely ignored as the agenda of the expansion and overpopulation of apex predators continues by our powers that be, as does the havoc it wreaks.
So what went wrong with this “non-essential” and “experimental” project? The deal that was made: 100 wolves or 10 breeding pairs (later changed to 150 wolves or 15 breeding pairs) in each of the three states (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) was broken. This deal was stated and agreed upon by collaborators such as MT FWP, IDF&G, other state and federal agencies/departments, USFWS, and “environmental” organizations. As soon as that “goal” or “objective” was met the agreement was that management of these cherry picked wolves from northern Canada (canis lupus occidentalis), which were introduced on top of our native wolf (canis lupus irremotus), was to be handed over to each prospective state. Well, that goal or objective was met in each of the three states by the year 2002 (and that is being conservative) yet management did not begin until 2009 and it was lackluster at best. In 2010, “environmental” organizations filed yet another lawsuit and successfully stopped management efforts for that year. Between the years 2002 and 2010 these non-native and unchecked wolf numbers exploded and they were allowed to do a magnitude of damages that may never be forgiven by many people. As seen above this was not enough damage for the environmental extremist organizations nor was 10 times (at least) the wolf numbers than was agreed upon.
This same time period, 2002 through 2010, was when the buck literally stopped nowhere. State agencies blamed the Feds and the Feds blamed the deal-breaking environmentalists, whose endless lawsuits and campaign to “rewild” America with apex predators pressed on as their in-house judges ruled in their favor 95% of the time. All the while the collaborators collaborated on, and still to this day blame one another for the fall out of the ill fated deal. Something worthy of noting is that these introduced wolves – canis lupus occidentalis (the largest sub-species of wolves in the world) are now being referred to as canis lupus irremotus, our once-native wolf that, contrary to popular belief, did still exist but has now been lost forever due to illegal introduction of a non-native species. Just one example of many of the scientific fraud that has been committed within the criminal enterprise known as wolf reintroduction. Genetic connectivity, right? Got to hand it to you all, that was a good one . I can already see the thrashing as people rush to disprove these claims with false “facts” that have been plastered all over the Internet while the truth has been scrubbed. I got a feeling there are some hard copies that are saved though.
I am just curious, is there anyone else out there who has wondered if the real intent of this rewilding agenda was an intent to compromise the ranching and hunting industry and perhaps rural living in general? Perhaps even to destroy it all together? Just a thought.
Through this time period, state wildlife officials really showed their true colors to the sportsmen of Montana and Idaho as well as many of its ranchers and rural Americans. There are many examples of this, but one prime example is that instead of advocating for us, they lied to us and the world about how many wolves were on the landscape and about the true amount of wildlife loss, how many were left on the landscape, and how their calf recruitment was doing (elk and moose). A loss due to depredation largely by an overpopulation of introduced wolves, but also by unchecked populations of other apex predators such as grizzly bears. This may sound like just an opinion to some, but for many it is a reality they lived, myself included. I have many personal experiences relating to this both in the field and with communication of multiple biologists and game wardens, as well as by paying close attention to what information these agencies/departments and “environmentalists” were releasing to the public at the time. What they didn’t share with the public is what concerns me the most. There are many people who can attest to this and many who have tried, only to have their voice silenced by our bias mainstream media, the “environmental” (indoctrinating the masses specialists) organizations, and of course by those who were supposedly serving us – the people. There is evidence of this that has been archived by more than a few people.
Many people in Montana live east and north of and in Idaho south of where the impact of wolf introduction has been felt. I am sure to some of those folks and many others this all seems at least somewhat irrelevant. Anyways that has been my experience with many people I have encountered regarding wolves and other apex predators…they really never were too concerned until the impact reached them…such is human nature I suppose.
So what does all this have to do with grizzly bear management now? Today these same entities are still collaborating together and we really don’t need any more of their “experimental” projects.
Moving on to nowadays. Let’s do a short review of what has happened regarding the agenda of spreading apex predators across the west and midwest. I am going to put the focus on Idaho and Montana because that’s what I am most familiar with and there are others that will be offering information about other areas, but keep in mind this is a small sample. Let’s start with the Lolo elk herds of Idaho. Over the years I have been in contact with many people of this area who have lived and hunted there all or most of their life. I have personally visited the area myself. The destruction of wildlife there, particularly elk due to introduction of non-native wolves and their gross mismanagement is something that will continue to bring shame to IDF&G and their collaborators for decades to come. Where their Johnny-come-lately attempts to correct the mistake are appreciated and a step in the right direction, the damage was already done. Still, it is more than can be said regarding Montana’s efforts to rectify the mistake. The local people’s lives have been impacted to levels they will never forget and I can assure you the betrayal will never be forgotten by many of them.
Lolo elk herds 17,000+ strong have been decimated to levels that will take generations to recover under proper management of all wildlife. The black bear population there has reached a saturation level, they have lived large over the years off the surplus kills of the non-native wolves. Wolf numbers remain strong there even after eating themselves out of house and home and even after their massive dispersal over the divide and into Montana and west to Washington and Oregon, where they have continued their destruction of other wildlife, pets and livestock. A hungry apex predator is a dangerous predator to humans.
IDF&G and USFWS, if you are still continuing to blame habitat loss for the decimation of the Lolo herds, please stop. Leave the lies up to the environmental extremist organizations…they are much better at it than you. The gig is up on that excuse and it only serves as fuel on the fire towards the resentments of your betrayals.
I want to touch on the Northern Yellowstone elk herds of Southwest Montana. There are others that will be covering this area in detail so I will save the space. In short, it has suffered heavy losses and I can assure you the sentiment of the people of that area is similar to the sentiments above.
As for our moose populations in northwest Wyoming, western Montana, central and northern Idaho, and inside Yellowstone National Park and out, the decimation of their numbers due to an overpopulation of apex predators is a shame you will never live down so my advice is don’t even try… just own it and wear that badge proudly because you earned it. Forever the champions of the eco-terrorists… and believe me they are celebrating it as a great success and victory.
As for our ranchers here in the west and the massive losses many of them have suffered, I want to remind all of you who are directly responsible for the war you have waged on them, it has been well documented and it will not be forgotten anytime soon. A legal rectification is in order.
It is at this point where I should make an important acknowledgement. While referring to said agencies/departments both State and Federal, I have used the terms you, our and their quite loosely. Because the fact of the matter is many of the men and women working within them are some very good people. Average every day American people who are just trying to get by like the rest of us. Many of whom have recognized the dysfunction within but who also have careers, some long, with pensions and their livelihood to protect… some of whom have retired. They are people that were forced to go along or else. Something that is well documented in their minds I am sure. Then, there are others that simply belong behind bars for their contribution and involvement in the greatest wildlife disaster of modern times. Mixed in with these departments/agencies are some new age and not so new aged people that have had the finest training radical environmentalism has to offer. A weeding session is in order.
Starting to see the correlation between wolf introduction and overpopulated grizzly bears yet? Let’s put the focus directly on the grizzly bear. First, I would like to point out that no one I have ever spoken to has ever expressed the wish to see them eliminated from Montana’s landscape, so let’s be clear on that. They will always have a home here.
As to how these bears should be managed well, that is open to a great debate. One thing that has been made very clear is that management of grizzlies has been grossly mishandled for so many years, with the very broken, misused and abused Endangered Species Act as the excuse. (I wonder how much the Yellowstone Park Service killing of 240 grizzlies between the years 1971 and 1972 has to do with the poor decision making of grizzly bear management since?) Perhaps one of the best examples of this lies on the eastern front of the Rockies in Montana. An area that has always had an abundance of grizzly bears that were never endangered. Due to gross mismanagement, grizzly bear population in this vast landscape has exploded to numbers well over 4 times the threshold. Said bears have been dispersing for a number of years out onto the flats well over 100 miles way across human inhabited land including towns and small communities. In the most recent years, grizzly bear and human conflict has soared. Some ranchers are now experiencing heavy losses of their stock–more on that in a bit. Schools in long-established Montana towns are having to put electric fences around their playgrounds in an attempt keep the children safe. A fear of safety by many who call this area home has developed.
The right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has been compromised by the desire of some within our wildlife agencies and by “environmental” organizations who continue to push an agenda that “creates the opportunity of connectivity to other ecosystems” for large apex predators who very much pose a threat to human livelihood and safety. I want to know this: who gives these people the right to make these calls? A paid off judge? Some person working for some agency or department? Some “environmental” organization? – Or, perhaps the people they have spent millions upon millions of dollars indoctrinating with false information as they rake in their donations? People most of whom have no idea how life actually is in the places that are literally being affected.
From the many areas in this vast landscape that are feeling real repercussions from grizzly overpopulation, I would like to focus on one example: the Black Leaf area west of Bynum, Montana. Here on one ranch that only amounts to a pin point on the map of the greater area of the eastern Rocky Mountain Front, a MT FWP confirmed (by camera) number of 36 different grizzly bears are holding this rancher’s sheep operation under siege. This is the minimal number of grizzlies in this area, with a strong likelihood of more considering game cams only cover a small portion. This rancher’s losses continue to mount up despite his large investment in sheep guarding dogs. There has been, from my viewpoint, a very lackluster effort by wildlife agencies to do anything to help this man with the overpopulation on and around his ranch. Orders to trap bears was issued and two indeed were trapped, only to be released to some other area for someone else to deal with and with a strong likelihood of returning to wreak more havoc on this man’s livelihood. Such has been the protocol for so many years by the governing bodies that “mange our wildlife.”
It should be noted that this individual has been ranching this area for many years. Dealing with life with predators including grizzly bears has always been something of a normality for him. Dealing with an overpopulation of this level has not. He is now not only concerned for his operation’s livelihood but also the safety of his family and himself every time they step out the door. Examples like this one do not stop here, it spreads far and wide to areas of the west and it is truly a disgrace that is owned by those who are supposed to be serving us as they uphold the oath they took.
The food our ranchers raise feeds not only this country but also the world. Ranchers are very important members to our society and our economy and they are often the best conservationists of the land. In part because their livelihood depends on it, but also due to their deep connection and love of the land. They have been forgotten by many. Many of them have been put out of business by this agenda of increasing and expanding apex predator populations. Something I want to point out to those people who insist that ranchers live on wildlife’s land and that they should either just accept predators killing their stock or move – whether you folks realize this or not, the fact is that most all of us who live in this country live where wildlife of all sorts once roamed, even the big cities. Here in the west, perhaps unbeknownst to many people who are not from here, there are vast areas of land that are not and will never be inhabited by man that is more than capable of sustaining grizzly bear populations for the rest of time. The idea that they should be able to sprawl out into human inhabitance here is unreasonable and it begs the question of those who disagree: do you want them in your backyard? If so, perhaps we can arrange that because we have plenty to spare.
This is a call out for help to all of our governing bodies to end this blatant discrimination of so many of the fine people of rural America as well as the discrimination of sportsmen who carry on a tradition that captures the essence of all of our existence. Yes, hunting has always been a normal part of human existence. This is a request to these bodies to put an end to radical environmentalism that has caused so much damage to this country’s pristine forests and cherished wildlife due to the failed policies of the past 30 or more years. We are tired of watching our forests burn and tired of breathing the smoke (to those who remember, the spotted owl saga comes to mind). Please put an end to these organizations’ ability to continue to pimp our wildlife for their political and personal gains, often times at the expense of the American tax payer. Also, PLEASE hold them accountable for their crimes, a large scale investigation is in order. Please put an end to the unnecessary expansion and overpopulation of apex predators. Please delist all apex predators that are not endangered and restore sound conservation and management for all wildlife and land. Please stop locking us out of our public lands and please stop poisoning our mountain streams with the quest of getting rid of the Eastern Brook Trout. Why are they not okay but a non-native wolf is? Creeks that once teamed with fish are now sterile. What impact has this had on the native sculpin, aquatic bugs, and the native cutthroat, who co-existed for many years with the Eastern Brook Trout? From what I have observed it doesn’t look good.
I would like to call out to all Americans, regardless of your political affiliation or beliefs, regardless of your race or religion. Regardless of your recreation of choice. A call to all ranchers and to all stock and cattle associations, to all non-decoy sportsmen’s organizations and to all sportsmen. To anyone this reaches who can relate to the above, to anyone that wants to help people who are being affected by this war on the west. We need to come together as one voice and stand against this agenda and any agenda that stands in the way of our right as humans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is time for America to once again come together, united as one. We cannot erase the wrongdoings and the mistakes of the past, we can only learn from them. Together we can forge a future that works for all of us, wildlife and land. Now is the time to let your voice be heard!
The debate over public lands has been hijacked by “environmental” organizations and their affiliates who could truly care less about our public land rights and who vehemently appose hunting. In fact they are involved with the countless “wilderness studies” that keep us locked out of much of our public lands with gates galore. We now have so called “sportsmen’s” groups or organizations that receive most of their funding from these organizations. Do not be fooled by this decoy deception. As sportsmen, to which there are many of us in this country, we will never completely agree on every aspect of how things should be, but if we stand divided we risk losing our way of life. We must stand united as one. The gap between sportsmen and private property owners will not be bridged by these organizations. Sportsmen share way more in common with ranchers and private property owners than we do organizations who oppose hunting. Just food for thought.
Where does the buck stop?
Jim Carrell is a Hunter, Angler, Conservationist and Constitutionalist American who writes about issues related to natural resources and wildlife management. He is a strong advocate for both private and public property rights.
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