Proposed Removal of Gray Wolves’ Endangered Status a Case Study in the Politicization of Science by James William Gibson

NatureColdWarriors_Alpha male  Credit Courtesy of Jeff Turner River Road Films Ltd

The lengths USFWS has gone, to justify the delisting of wolves across the lower forty-eight,  is truly mind-blowing. Did someone drop a couple hits of LSD and come up with “the fairytale proposal”? 

car1 crackeddotcom

“Okay, Frank. Are you absolutely, completely, 100 percent positive you didn’t dose my coffee this morning? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure I just took an off ramp into the Metaverse here. I’m just sayin’…”…

Thank you Bill and Earth Island Journal for trying to make sense of this mishegas!


Proposed Removal of Gray Wolves’ Endangered Status a Case Study in the Politicization of Science

by James William Gibson – June 17, 2013

US Fish and Wildlife Service relies on taxonomical shenanigans to appease wolf haters

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent announcement that it is beginning the process for removing gray wolves across the country from the protection of the Endangered Species Act surprised no one. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s mid-1990s reintroduction of gray wolves — a species virtually extirpated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho marked a triumph for conservationists and ranks as one of the most striking fulfillments of the Endangered Species Act. But as I have reported here and here, the wolves quickly met enemies.

Photo by US Fish and Wildlife ServicesThe Fish and Wildlife Service is making a rather bizarre claim that the agency wasn’t really serious when, back in 1978, it listed gray wolves as endangered across its historical range.

By the early 2000s a loose coalition of hunters’ groups, outfitters, and ranchers — along with the many disaffected men embracing militia groups, local “sovereignty” and states rights, particularly rights to use public lands without federal regulation — coalesced around the idea that wolves represented icons of the hated federal government. The wolves, they all-but-screamed, constituted lethal threats to deer and elk, livestock, and ultimately, people. The long, bitter wolf war reached its climax in the summer of 2011, when Congress took the unprecedented act of removing the wolf populations of the Northern Rockies from the endangered species list. In May 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service, weary of the many problems involved in wolf management (or, rather, public relations management), delisted gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes states, where some 4,400 wolves resided.   Idaho, Montana and Wyoming subsequently initiated hunts and the use of government marksmen to reduce wolf numbers from around 1,700 to a much lower level.

The FWS’s proposed delisting of gray wolves across the country is simply the continuation of the agency’s long retreat in the face of wolf hater intimidation. Still, it’s important to understand how the FWS legitimizes its abandonment of wolves. A close examination of the FWS’ proposed rule change is a case study in the politicization of science. The FWS report excels at cherry picking, choosing certain scientific studies while rejecting others. It’s also an excellent example of bureaucratic hand-waving, simply dismissing long established facts whenever they become inconvenient. The final result is like a weird game of scientific Twister: The FWS bends itself into all sorts of contortions to conform to a political agenda.

Repetitive and often inconsistent, the 215-page proposed rule makes two stunning claims.  First, the FWS says “new information on C. lupus taxonomy” published in 2012 reveals that the gray wolves (C. lupus) do not constitute “either an entire species nor an entire single subspecies.” Simply put, C. lupus “does not represent a valid species under the [Endangered Species] Act”  — and thus cannot be listed as endangered. Having decided that gray wolves are not a valid species, the FWS then deconstructs the category, saying all wolves formerly called gray actually belong to one of three subspecies of wolves and one new species.

The FWS then makes the rather bizarre claims that the agency wasn’t really serious when, back in 1978, it listed gray wolves as endangered across an historical range covering most of the lower 48 states (except Minnesota, where it was listed as “threatened”). Rather, the agency now claims, the 1978 reclassification “was undertaken to ‘most conveniently’ handle a listing that needed to be revised because of changes in our understanding of gray wolf taxonomy, and in recognition of the fact that individual wolves sometimes cross subspecies [geographic] boundaries.” Now, the FWS argues, “this generalized approach to the listing … was misread by some publics as an expression of a larger wolf recovery not required by the Act and never intended by the Service.” Evidently the FWS never really had wolf recovery as a goal.

In place of this unintended “larger wolf recovery,” the FWS in its newly proposed rule lists three subspecies and alludes to one new wolf species, each with a limited population size and a clearly limited range.  Conceptually, deconstructing the gray wolf category constitutes a containment strategy, a way to scientifically legitimize small, remnant wolf populations restricted to finite ranges; wide-ranging wolf dispersal is eliminated as a possibility. This containment appeases politicians, government administrators, businesses, ranchers  and hunters — all those who fear disruption from  wolf recovery.

What the FWS used to call the gray wolves living in Northern Rocky Mountains, — a “Distinct Population Segment” in biology nomenclature —  is now conceptualized as the wolf subspecies,  C. l. occidentalis.  Wolves classified as occidentalis , according to the FWS, “currently occupy nearly the entire historical range of the species.” In what I can only call an act of scientific chutzpah, the FWS therefore argues that these wolves are considered fully recovered. And since they are fully recovered and are occupying their historical range, then any occidentalis  that disperse to Washington, Oregon or Colorado are classified as a non-native species. Although individual states might choose to list them as endangered—Washington and Oregon have done this — they will not qualify as a federally protected Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves. That’s because the FWS no longer considers gray wolves to be a valid species. Nice circular logic, that.

The FWS is also playing this same shell game in the Western Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Wolves living there formerly were classified as a Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves.  It used to be that if any of these wolves migrated outside these states — say to North and South Dakota — then they received protection by the Endangered Species Act. Now, under the proposed rule change, the wolves in the Western Great Lakes are classified as Canis Iupus nubilus. Although the FWS acknowledges that C. I. nubilus does not occupy all of its historical range — a vast area that once included the Southern Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the coastal ranges of the Pacific Northwest — the agency still makes the case that the subspecies is present in sufficient numbers in the Western Great Lakes and Canada to be considered fully recovered. So it shouldn’t be protected by the ESA, either.

Interestingly, although the FWS considers eastern Canada to be part of the range of C. l. nubilus, it now argues that no wolves of this subspecies ever settled south of Quebec, in New England and upstate New York.  Instead, the FWS says an entirely different wolf species, Canis lycaon, once lived there. No population estimates of Canis lycaon are given; nor does the FWS name areas where packs have been sighted. The FWS does not even propose listing at the present, saying “we must first address outstanding science and policy questions.” It’s not at all clear if real wolves belonging to Canis lycaon exist. But if the Northeast is classified as belonging to the historical range of Canis lycaon, then any gray wolves (C. l. nubilus) that migrate into the region will not be protected by the ESA.  Once again, the FWS proposes creating a new species in order to remove protection for another one.

 (If you’re having problem tracking all of these different species and subspecies, don’t feel bad. All of the taxonomical shenanigans seem designed to confuse the public.)

Click HERE to read more:


We have until September 11, 2013 to comment on this outrageous insult to our intelligence. Don’t be  bamboozled by the USFWS word-games, this is wolf persecution pure and simple.

Speak out firmly against this. America loves wolves but sadly their recovery has been hijacked by a small group of well-funded-wolf-hating-zealots. Don’t let them get away with this!

HOWL FOR THE WOLVES…use the link below to flood the site with your comments!!

Removing the Gray Wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf by Listing It as Endangered!docketDetail;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073


Snail Mail:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0073
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM
Arlington, Virginia 22203


Top Photo: Nature Cold Warriors Credit  Courtesy of Jeff Turner River Road Films Ltd

2nd Photo: Courtesy crackeddotcom

3rd Photo: USFWS

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: USFWS, Who’s On First, Politics Trump Science, Earth Island Journal, James William Gibson, Wolf Persecution

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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes that was devastating news…I have been trying to get ahold of Greenpeace…does anyone here know how?

  2. Left my comment with FWS. Could not be more disgusted about this if I tried.

  3. Read this earlier. I cannot believe how the USFWS is twisting and contorting science to conform to the selfish, misguided desires of the minority of wolf haters. Do they really think we can’t see through this shameful charade? I’ve never read such utter BS in my life! This agency and this administration are doing unprecedented damage to the Endangered Species Act and to wildlife by allowing politics to trump science. They have proven themselves to be entirely incapable of protecting wildlife and wild diversity, and are a complete and absolute disgrace.

    • I don’t think it has to do with being incapable. I think it is malicious intent because this administration despises, and will try to destroy, any life that cannot keep it operating at it’s obscenely corrupt and evil level. This administration is about death.

      • I agree, so because of their malicious intent, they are indeed completely incapable of “managing” wolves or any other predator.

  4. Howling For Justice wrote:


    • Posting a slogan here doesn’t help!! Get active, now!

  6. Thank you for exposing the truth about this messed up department. Please go to their FB page and share your disgust. I have commented several times and sure I’m considered a terrorist in their eyes.!/usfws

  7. Just contacted the Center for Biological Diversity and the Coalition for Endangered Species. These groups have actually gone to court on behalf of the wolves.

    • good for them I wouldn’t be able to stand a chance.


  8. Reblogged this on Carinas space and commented:
    Left my comments to USFWS. Glad you’re back! Missed your blog. Thanks on behalf of the wolves.

    • sAVE WOLVES!

      • Send your slogan to all elected official and remind them that you vote!

      • I pray for Wolves every day!


      • Whoever you pray to is not the one who is making laws to kill the wolves, coyotes and any other of Mother Nature’s animals that get in the way!

      • There is no way that you will see jailed hunters and trappers until the current laws are changed, it is a “legal sport” currently.
        What everyone needs to do is to contact all their elected officials and ask them to answer this question ” do you support the delisting and slaughter of wolves and coyotes”, demand an answer. Remind them that you vote.
        What you will get back will be a lie and a request for a campaign contribution. Keep up the pressure and VOTE!
        “How can you tell if a politician is lying? They are in office!!”

  9. Hope you are well Nabeki. You were sorely missed. You fight so hard for the wolf, that sometimes a brak is needed in order to purchase new ‘ammunition’.
    Welcome back!!!!

  10. The sad thing is that no matter how hard they are hit with the truth, USFWS may still ignore science and placate those who don’t want wolves. I pray that I am wrong and will do my best to help stop it. This is unfair and wrong, and it sickens me that Democrats are involved in it and don’t have the spine to stand up to them.

  11. Doesn’t it appear as if the wildlife agencies tend to appease those who are weapons carriers?? And is that possibly because those macho gun toters have loud, obnoxious and hair-trigger personalities? Well! Their upcoming planned march across the bridge into Washington DC on July 4th…..ARMED…. In protest of gun laws….should prove very interesting!

    • Not all gun carriers are obnoxious, hair trigger personalities. The vast majority hunt for food, kill paper targets and are armed for protection against natures most dangerous predators, the human animal.
      It is past time for a total climate change in our government and the way it does business!!!!!!!!
      Read my blog, listed in my profile.

    • Adam Kokesh, the planner of the armed march on D.C. is a wack job. Anyway, he cancelled his big march.

  12. No matter what happens, regimes change and politicians and department secretaries change with them, and are voted out. There is always a chance to get wolves relisted. I know we will never give up, and will just watch for a chance for these guys to trip up. And they will.

    • If we wait for a regime change, it will be too late, look at how long most of those assholes have been in office!!!!!
      Some campaigning for the 2014 and 2016 has already started. Get active, attend their town hall meetings, visit their headquarters, take them signed petitions, flood their offices with calls, emails and copies of you voter registration. Raise hell!!!!
      Wolves can’t speak and don’t vote but we can!

      • Nobody is saying to wait. Of course we need to do our best to reverse this terrible course – but these groups holding power won’t be able to forever. Who voted for them anyway?

  13. I have signed many papers and sent letters and made phone calls to save this beautiful and very necessary nonhuman animal. I can only hope that someone in government has enough smarts to see how the eco system of the planet truly needs wolves.

  14. For more ideas on how to right the wrongs that are perpetrated daily by your elected officials at all levels of government, visit my blog–“Syd’s Sarcastic Symposium” on google+, post titled “Vote! Or else” dated 10/3/12.

    Get Active!

  15. Thank the Obama Administration. A shameful act if they let this happen. This really saddens me.

    • Send him a message telling him so!


  17. I’m outragef again omg I’m for sure speaking out again my God some were they have got to get a break and for once have USFW do there Dan job!

  18. Reblogged this on Think like a wolf.

  19. I will admit that I’m glad the USFWS is finally recognizing the wolf subspecies and are not just saying “a wolf is a wolf” anymore.

    With that said, I completely oppose this plan to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List. I am extremely frustrated on how the USFWS is cheery-picking, distorting, and misrepresenting the science to support their political agenda. Did you hear that the scientists whose studies are being used by the USFWS are not happy with how it is being interpreted?

    I briefly looked at the plan and noticed how the USFWS keeps mentioning Canada and Alaska as justification for wolf delisting, even though the proposal is for the Lower 48 States, where wolves only inhabit a small portion of their former range. I understand that it is not possible to restore wolves to all parts of their former range, but there is still plenty of unoccupied, potential wolf habitat in the Lower 48 States that the species can be restored to. Wolves should be allowed to colonize that former habitat. Last time I checked the purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover native species and ecosystems. A species that is absent from a significant portion of its range in the Lower 48 States is not recovered by any means within that region, nor will Canadian populations fulfil the specie’s niche in the Lower 48 States, as they do not inhabit ecosystems in that region. Therefore, gray wolves are not fully recovered in the Lower 48 States. Plus, wolves were common in Canada when they were first listed in the Lower 48 States due to their rarity in the Lower 48 States, regardless of their status in Canada. Why a sudden change in policy?

    And how does the Pacific wolf population not qualify for continued protections when they are genetically distinct from the Rockies wolves? Isn’t protecting distinct populations part of the ESA requirements?

    As for the Eastern Wolf, the USFWS should finish its studies before determining what the animal’s classification and status should be; to make these decisions before completion of the studies would be extremely premature, to say the least.

    The only good that will come out of this plan is that the Mexican Wolf will finally receive more protection, but even then that should be a different action plan and not be included in this plan. I find it extremely sneaky that they have this in the same plan to delist other wolves and I don’t understand why they wouldn’t list the Mexican Wolf as a separate subspecies earlier, when they were petitioned to do so.

    I definitely will be writing a comment in opposition of this plan during the public commenting period, and I will be fighting it every step of the way! It is just so angering that they want to abandon the wolves even though recovery is not complete – the exact opposite of the ESA’s intent. We cannot allow those politicians to away with this!

  20. I can’t take this much longer, buck all this noise about WI upping the slaughter. Yeah letter writing is for leftist constantly chanting for peace, action on the other had is for any one who gives a buck ferton about wildlife or any cause. Don’t be a letter writer, be an activist.

  21. This just keeps getting more insane by the day. A USFWS spokesperson denies that politics trumped science. Just ignore the scientific working groups recommendations, don’t invite scientists and biologists to the discussions- just have FG managers invited whose sole purpose is to provide hunter opportunity and killing licenses to hunters and trappers and the USFWS doesn’t see the problem with that approach?

  22. All those who can please attend this rally for the wolves!

    I am truly HOWLING MAD!

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