Sponsored by: 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 all that 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” were 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 between $60- and $70-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. – Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH