Update On ”Love-In” Held By Montana FWP With Anti-Wolf Crowd….

It’s been over a week since Montana FWP held a “Love-In with the anti wolf crowd at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena. The purpose, besides sucking up to the hunting and ranching groups, was to form a coalition of anti-wolf stakeholders. At first I thought it was a joke. Seriously, a state agency lobbying to the anti crowd, to form a coalition? No more pesky lawsuits for them, they want to change things on the Congressional level and strip wolves of their ESA protections.

This is the same state agency that authorized killing entire wolf packs killed for agribusiness. Who increased the now halted wolf hunt quota from 75 to 186 wolves and threw in a wolf archery season for good measure.  They gave Wildlife Services control to kill wolves for livestock depredation without having to contact them first.  So I can’t say I’m surprised by all the coalition building with the wolf hating crowd but c’mon, this is wrong on so many levels. 

Not much has been reported on what was said at “the meeting”‘ but oh would I have loved to be a fly on the wall. The handwringing, the complaining, the brainstorming trying to figure out ways to bypass, circumnavigate, detour, go around the barn,  elude, dodge, or skirt Judge Molloy’s decision to relist the gray wolf. 

Ten groups were represented, including the Woolgrowers Assoc. and RMEF.  How about the Cattlemen’s Assoc. and SFW?  Those are good guesses. Sadly, I wasn’t invited because I don’t have the right wolf hating credentials. I happen to believe living in wolf country is pretty special, kind of an honor. 

One thing that’s bothering me is how the heck those select groups found out about the meeting ? As I recall, the date and time were reported by the press just one day before it took place. How did that crowd show up at 10 am the next day in Helena? Was it mental telepathy? Like  “Close Encounters of the Third Kind“?

Or something like “Field of Dreams”‘, if you schedule it, they will come?

Well it’s all a big mystery how they found out. I was under the silly impression if the state holds a meeting concerning  all citizens of the state, they would actually tell them, not just a select bunch.

“The delegates to the Constitutional Convention made a clear and unequivocal decision that government operates most effectively, most reliably, and is most accountable when it is subject to public scrutiny…

While on any given occasion there may be legitimate arguments for handling government operations privately, the delegates to our constitutional Convention concluded that in the long term those fleeting considerations are outweighed by the dangers of a government beyond public scrutiny.”

Justice Terry Trieweiler for the court in Great Falls Tribune v. Day – 1998

Or

  “All meetings of all agencies (includes boards committees and subcommittees) must be open to the public. MCA 2-3-202″

Or

Open meetings

“The legislature finds and declares that public boards, commissions, councils, and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the peoples’ business. It is the intent of this part that actions and deliberations of all public agencies shall be conducted openly. The people of the state do not wish to abdicate their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.”[20

Another disturbing aspect of the “coalition” is it was formed in one day.  Call me picky but don’t the Montana Sunshine Laws make it clear that decisions concerning issues effecting the public, must be open for public comment first? Just asking?

 The Open Meetings law affords “reasonable opportunity to participate in the operation of governmental agencies prior to the final decision of the agency” (2-3-201).

To summarize, a meeting was held by Montana FWP in Helena, Montana on August 2oth,  with the express purpose of forming a coalition with anti-wolf stakeholders, yet barely any notice to the public was given and a coalition was formed on the same day. Sounds very fishy to me.

So then we have to ask this question:

Does Public Information in Montana Need Better Enforcement?

The question was raised by the executive director of the Montana Newspaper Association in the organization’s most recent newsletter. The organization sponsored Freedom of Information (FOI) Hot Line is getting an increasing number of calls from media, citizens and even government officials, and usually the questions are “straightforward.” And, the answers are “clear as a bell.””

“Has the time come to remove the onus for enforcing public information and open meeting laws from the citizen or media complainant and put the burden on government?

It seems this isn’t the first time this issue has come up.

So what came out of all the coalition building?

From the Helena IR: 

Groups form coalition on wolf issue

By EVE BYRON Independent Record helenair.com | Posted: Saturday, August 21, 2010 12:00 am |

Representatives of livestock producers, outfitters, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts promised Friday to present a united front with the state of Montana as it moves forward as quickly as possible, on multiple pathways, to try to regain tools needed to control growing gray wolf populations.

Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Bob Lane, FWP attorney, said they’re planning on filing a motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn an Aug. 5 U.S. District Court ruling that put wolves in Montana and Idaho back on the list of animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. While that appeal is pending — which is expected to take a year or longer — the state also will ask the federal government to issue “take” permits in Montana that would allow for some public hunting.

The state also is considering entering into discussions with plaintiffs in the case over what it would take to return full management of wolves to the state; seek federal legislation to change the status of gray wolves in Montana; and ask Congress to make it clear that delisting of wolves in one state, but not in an adjoining one, is part of the flexibility allowed under the Endangered Species Act.

In addition, officials will ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to consider wolves a threatened species rather than endangered in the northern half of Montana, which allows for more management latitude. They’re considered an experimental population in southern Montana, which means wolves can be shot on sight when caught preying on livestock.

Maurier added that what both Montana and Idaho officials probably won’t do is try to convince Wyoming to lift the predator status of wolves in that state, because at a meeting among leaders of the three states Thursday, Wyoming officials made it clear they weren’t planning on making any changes at this time.

“Our intent is to be more aggressive than we have in the past and we’ll see how that works,” Maurier said. “… We are going to work our tails off as long as I’m here to do whatever we can to provide a clear path forward and resolve this problem. If there was a silver bullet we would have used it by now.

“The bottom line is we can’t do it alone … and that’s why we brought you here today.”

While members of the 10 groups at Friday’s meeting agreed with some of the tactics Maurier outlined, many were resoundingly opposed to any type of talks with the 13 environmental organizations that filed the lawsuit to return wolves in Montana and Idaho to the list of endangered species.

“How do you negotiate any kind of settlement with those folks that is binding for any kind of long period of time?” asked David Allen, president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Anyone with a computer, attorney and blog can become an environmental group overnight. What’s to stop that group from becoming another group and suing you?

“… I just figure what’s the point with those folks? They have shown no propensity to sit down and deal like big boys and girls.”

While acknowledging Allen’s point, Maurier added that it doesn’t hurt to at least open discussions.

“It never hurts to talk, maybe for educational purposes, if nothing else,” he said. (How open minded Mr. Maurier, the idea that the rest of Montana’s citizens have a right to speak, what a concept!)

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which handled the reintroduction of gray wolves into the Northern Rockies ecosystem beginning in 1994, declared in May 2009 that wolves in Montana and Idaho no longer needed federal protection status, and took them off the list of endangered species. As part of the two states’ management efforts, they each held their first-ever hunting season last fall, and wolves that were harassing livestock were able to be shot without permits.

However, Wyoming’s wolf management plan declared them to be predators in most of the state outside of Yellowstone National Park, and allowed them to be shot on sight as long the state retained a minimum population of about 75 animals, or 15 packs of at least five animals each. That wasn’t acceptable to the USFWS, and they remained protected under federal law.

In his ruling earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy wrote that the wolf population can’t be considered “recovered” and delisted in Montana and Idaho, but not in Wyoming.

Lane said he thinks that argument won’t stand up to an appeal, since wolves are considered only threatened in Minnesota, but endangered in Michigan and Wisconsin. Montana and Idaho will appeal Molloy’s ruling on that basis, he said, but added that if it is remanded back to Molloy, other issues raised by the environmental groups also would need to be resolved, which could take a few years.

That’s why the state and groups will also take their case to Congress, seeking fast-track clarification that partial delisting is allowed under the Endangered Species Act. Both Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Denny Rehberg have announced plans to introduce legislation to give more control of wolf management to Montana. Maurier said those bills probably will be reconciled as they pass through the House and Senate. (Do they really think trying to gut the ESA won’t be met with a fight?)

Currently, about 1,700 wolves roam throughout Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, eastern Oregon and Washington. Montana is home to about 525 wolves and plans to manage for 400 or more; Idaho has about 835 wolves, with a management goal of 520; and Wyoming has about 320. (How pathetic is it that Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are complaining about having 1700 wolves when the  Great Lakes Region of  Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have over 4500 wolves?)

Those at Friday’s meeting said wolves have dramatically lowered elk and moose populations in some parts of Montana and are preying in ever increasing numbers on livestock. They fear that as the number of wolves continues to rise, so will conflicts.

“We have screwed around with this far too long,” Allen said.

I couldn’t agree more Mr. Allen!

======= 

*blue italics mine

Photo: Courtesy First People  

Posted in: Montana wolves, gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: gray wolf, Montana FWP, anti-wolf coalition, open meetings, Montana Sunshine Laws

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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Make it legal and people will abuse the system, make it illegal and people will disobey the law. To give up simply because of bullying and acts of violence only allows the problem to grow, making the issue harder to remove in the long term. *But break enough wrists and the people will learn (*please note: metaphor).

    These types want NO COMPROMISE. They try to sound as if they marginally agree with pro-wolf side, talk nice, say that wolves are beautiful and other such pathetic attempts at flattery. It falls apart when they say they want wolves ‘managed’. You’re right Nabeki when you say it has nothing to do with elk, cows or pets. They want them destroyed down to the point where they can’t see them any more and to hell with whatever anyone who actually enjoys viewing them wants.

    Oh and concerning Alaskan wolf hunting, some hunters say they just buy a tag and will shoot one if they see it while hunting something else. I mean how bloody cold do you have to be to say that? Damn near have no compassion at all. Doesn’t matter if you’re the nicest social person or how well chiselled your chin is. What kind of psychopath would get a thrill out of ending life? Its an answer most of us here want to know. If I am wrong please point me out.
    In Alaska they have made an annual event called the “Fur Rondy”, where trappers and hunters from all over the state come to show off and sell pelts.
    Did the people there have ANY realisation that these skins belonged to living social animals? They didn’t give a JACK! To me the fur industry is EVIL. Fur is not murder, its mass global GENOCIDE. Ok so I wear leather shoes, but, I do so knowing that the animal that died was eaten and not just as a ‘look good after the fact’ deal as what the AKFG did by giving the ‘culled’ wolf carcasses to the native tribes for meat (the hunters/trappers responsible for the killings kept the pelts though).

    Entitlement, management, control, harvest…do the people doing this have any thought that these are living beings? Nature is cruel, but it does not make it a conscious thought of it! Wolves do not say at the beginning of the year: “Ok lads, let’s hunt…1500 deer this year, we’ll need to kill more in the lowlands because they’re eating themselves out of their territory and Grey Nose here says we’ll have to cull those pesky darn coyotes because he said the report from the Sawtooth pack stated that they didn’t get a good hunt last year primarily because of the coyotes…”

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    • John…very well said. The culture of killing exists in many areas of the country. I guess you can ignore it if you’re not involved in trying to save one of the most iconic and hated animals on the planet. They see wolves as an impediment, competition. something they can’t control. I would bet many of these people are huge control freaks. If you grow up in that environment where there is no empathy accorded wild animals and believe that humans have dominion over this earth then they care less for a wolves life then swatting a fly.

      You can’t reason with these people. They pay no attention to the facts. I’ve been writing the stats over and over concerning wolves and depredation. Wolves are a blip concerning depredations yet I could stand on Mt. Everest and shout that and they still wouldn’t listen because they don’t care. They hate wolves, period. There is no rhyme or reason to it, except wolves are convenient scapegoats.

      N.

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      • Nabeki,
        I find myself agreeing with the anti-wolf types on one thing though.. its the stance of no compromise. There is no need to just go out one day, look for a wolf and shoot it. I have seen all manner of disrespectful, sadistic and what can only be described as inhuman behaviour from [particularly] predator killers, thought I imagine this is just the tip of the iceberg. Predator extermination policies, totalitarian livestock grower control in wildlife affairs and sport hunting interests have brought ruin to my country’s natural beauty – it only saddens me that so many other countries follow suit, even when they were given one of the rarest and most precious of opportunities: to mend the mistakes of the past. Of course, it is uplifting to know there are people who will take a stand and say enough is enough!
        HOWLS!

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      • John, I completely agree. Why should we compromise away wolves to the haters? The destruction brought upon our native carnivores and other wildlife by the horrible policies of agribusiness is what got us into this mess with wolves in the first place. They don’t want ANY predators on the landscape and the USDA’s Wildlife Services kills millions and millions of our wildlife and birds in the name of the ranching and farming gods.

        That’s why I was stunned beyond belief to hear DOW wants to sit down with these people and make some kind of deal on wolves. What the heck are they thinking?

        N.

        Like

      • Matt Skoglund’s Blog

        Take Action to Protect Idaho’s Wolves
        Print this page
        Posted August 31, 2010 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places
        Tags: biogems, dougsmith, graywolves, idahofishandgame, idahowolves, wildlifeservices, wolves, wolveselk, yellowstonewolves
        Share | |

        Earlier this month, Wildlife Services, a misleadingly named agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (its primary “service” when it comes to wildlife is “lethal removal”), issued a Draft Environmental Assessment (“Draft EA”) regarding its involvement in the management of gray wolves in Idaho.

        Ultimately, Wildlife Services is proposing to help the State of Idaho reduce its wolf population by roughly 40% — from around 843 wolves to about 500. This high level of killing is predicated upon, among other things, an alleged need to protect livestock, increase elk and deer numbers, protect human safety, and prevent the transmission of disease.

        When you dig into the meat of the Draft EA, however, many of the bases for preemptively killing over 300 wolves melt away.

        Wolf conflicts with livestock make up a miniscule percentage of livestock losses, and several nonlethal methods to prevent conflicts exist. In the Draft EA, Wildlife Services fails to consider the full range of nonlethal practices available, draws hasty conclusions about the effectiveness of many techniques, and neglects to mention others altogether.

        Regarding elk, the premier big-game species in the West, an Idaho Fish & Game Newsletter released just a few weeks ago discusses the effect of predators on elk in Idaho. Contrary to the popular myth that wolves are singlehandedly devastating elk herds across the Northern Rockies, Idaho Fish & Game reports that only a minority of elk populations in Idaho are declining — and wolves are only the primary cause of elk deaths in a few of them. In fact, 23 of Idaho’s 29 elk zones are above or within management population objectives. And the report explains that other factors — habitat conditions, weather, and hunter harvest — also play a huge role in elk numbers.

        As for human safety, the Draft EA expressly states, “There are no verified instances of wolves having attacked and seriously injured people in the lower 48 United States.” The threat posed to humans by wild wolves is basically nonexistent. If, on the other hand, a wild wolf, in an extremely rare case, becomes habituated in some way and begins to exhibit threatening or unusual behavior, such an animal can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Yellowstone National Park, for example, receives over 3 million visitors annually, many of them camping, backpacking, fishing, hiking, etc. In May 2009, Yellowstone, for the first time since it reintroduced wolves in 1995, euthanized a wolf that had become habituated (likely food-conditioned) and was exhibiting abnormal behavior. Removing the odd wolf in Idaho that becomes habituated, should it occur, makes sense; justifying reducing wolf numbers based on a threat to human health does not.

        With disease transmission, reducing Idaho’s wolf population would do nothing to reduce the spread of disease to livestock, domestic dogs, other wildlife, or humans. In fact, conspicuously absent from Wildlife Services’s discussion of disease transmission in the Draft EA is any mention of chronic wasting disease (“CWD”), a horrible wildlife disease moving west. Had Wildlife Services analyzed the potential effect of wolves on CWD, it would have found that multiple wildlife experts think wolves will help stop the spread of CWD as it moves farther west. According to Doug Smith, the legendary Yellowstone wolf biologist, “Wolves are probably the single best way to stop the spread of CWD.”

        The Draft EA is flawed in other ways as well (see here for NRDC’s full comment letter), and because the widespread reduction of wolves in Idaho will have a significant effect on the environment, Wildlife Services, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, must withdraw the Draft EA and prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement.

        Wildlife Services is seeking public comments on the Draft EA through today, August 31st.

        Please stand up for Idaho’s wolves and send a message to Wildlife Services to go back to the drawing board and prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement.

        http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mskoglund/take_action_to_protect_idahos.html

        Like

      • Thanks for posting this Jon. Today was the last day for comment, I hope everyone gave them their two cents. Personally I believe Wildlife Services couldn’t care less what the public thinks, at least the non-wolf hating public. They seem to be operating with impunity.

        Matt did a great job outlining the absurdiy of their Draft EA. One thing that may stop what they’re doing is the 10j litigation that is now going forward. The main focus of that litigation is to strip the 10j of the “Prey Decline” excuse to kill wolves. which was added in 2008. If Judge Molloy rules “Prey Declines” should be removed from the 10j language, it will put a serious cramp in Wildlife Services plans to slaughter one third of their wolf population. Also the plaintiffs in the litigation may ask for Judge Molloy for an injunction, until the merits of the case are decided.

        N.

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  2. I’m in the process of reading the Olsen book “Slaughter the animals, Poison the earth”. It is depressing. Some of these stockgrowers are evil sadistic degenerates. My favorite quote is still from Predatory Bureaucracy- “Either we missed em or it was a case of the fairy tales again.” These idiots get their kicks out of torturing coyotes and wolves. I hate them.

    Like

    • I really wouldn’t want to meet these people or I think I would lose all my good sense.I sure wonder how they view other people when their values are different than theirs.”Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” Albert Schweitzer–People just turn their heads,walk away and let the wild life hit men do what they want.

      Like

      • They’ve had their way for so long Rita, they think they can do anything.

        N.

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    • William….That sounds like a depressing book but unfortunately that’s what we are doing to the animals and the earth.

      I can’t stand these people either. If you saw any of the pictures from the Predator Derbies last year, it’s enough to make you sick. You have to be twisted to slaughter animals that way and it should be illegal. How many serial killers started off torturing animals?

      N.

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  3. This underhanded action taken by a major state should come as no surprise. God only knows what might transpire in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives! As it stands, I personally believe that both houses of congress are acting
    to please special interest groups and socially moral issues that they need to keep their damned noses out of, e.g. abortion, stem cell research, gay marriages, and other issues which fall into the perview of the late “Moral Majority Leader”, Gerry Falwell.

    The secretary or head of the Montana FWS could not, would not make such a stupid, idiotic move as they did without the governor’s permission, who also wants all of the wolves in his state eradicated!!! The governor, with the help of the state representatives and senators, combined with Sec. Salazar of Dept. of the Interior and the Dept. of Agriculture, will not only introduce a bill but will fight for their cause to the death….and we need to do the very same.

    When an ex-con breaks the law and is handed a sentence he or she knows that they’d better toe the line or risk additional time. Likewise, when a U.S. Federal judge hands down a ruling, regardless of the issue or its nature, states and their governmental departments must adhere to the ruling or face possible Federal charges at the hands of the U.S. Prosecutor’s Office. The state governor along with his team should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for breaking the law just as the law breaking ex-con would have to face a state suprior court.

    Case in point: though he’s still on trial in a Federal court the governor of Illinois brought the troubles on himself and his family!

    Like

    • It’s a mess.The state and federal can be bought.They do not want the wolves and will do what they can to get rid of them or just have their token wolves.To much money in the lining of their pockets,they can’t lose that and the admiration of ranchers and hunters.

      Like

    • David, I think they’ve done this before but received little push back, so they are arrogant enough to think they can just shut certain people out and pick the ones that agree with them. What about the rest of the citizens of Montana, they have nothing to say about what happens to wolves? How blatant is that?

      N.

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  4. I can’t believe a state organization is doing something like this. Down where I live there was a big ordeal about an official advertising a business, where all sorts of people were speaking out about it. The same should be happening over this.

    All the Best,
    Wolve

    Like

    • Hi Wolvendeer….I think people are upset about this and not just ignoring it. The minutes to the meeting must be interesting reading.

      N.

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  5. Still i cant believe everything i read. One state and some Wolfs haters organize all this in order to kill all the Wolfs or as much they can. Well i hate them with all my heart and the most disappointing is this they are some people few organizations who want to change the rules of ESA where are all the others citizens of Montana? they have voice too. Please we must find a way to let them speak i am pretty sure a very large amount will be all ready disappointed with Governor or with all the actions have been taken by some people who think they can buy the world…

    Like

    • Vasileios….People are definitely paying attention. We’re talking about it here on the blog. It’s outrageous they want to change the ESA to suit their narrow minded purpose. They are pulling out all the stops and have shown their true nature. If this case ever ends back up on Judge Molloy’s desk, I think he might be interested in a state agency forming a coalitioin with special interest groups.

      N.

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  6. I’m sorry Nabeki, but I still say and will maintain my belief that there is but one way to deal with the hunters and trappers.
    Please don’t scrap my opinion this time Nabeki as I’d really like some feedback from the folks who love the wolves as we do…I sure miss my two!

    Like

    • I’m sorry, but I believe that if we should choose to handle this in the same way as people such as the Montana Freemen then we’ll end up the same way as them. Violence against a living being is never the answer, even in reaction to other violence. Even in the best case scenario we would only be stooping to their level and thus hurting our own cause.

      It is my opinion that the only way to stop them is to hurt them where it counts, their wallet. Target them and anyone who does business with them until you’ve broken down enough of their business deals that they listen to your point. This should be done nonviolently and without arson. You can’t prove the point that life is precious if you advocate violence.

      All the Best,
      Wolve

      Like

    • Hi David,
      So sorry but I had to delete most of your post. Believe me I’m as frustrated as you are but we can’t advocate violence on this blog. I’ve gotten death threats and it’s not fun. Please don’t take this personally. I’m going to up date “Please read before commenting” so we’re all playing by the same rules. Hope you keep posting. HOWLS

      Like

  7. These Anti-wolf hate groups arent going to back down and they arent going to go away.
    The part of this post where you metioned how they complain about having 1700, where as the other party has 4500 wolves and havent said a word about them.
    This just shows how hypocritical the antiwolf party is, and how desprate they are. They stoop so low as to try to circumvent the ESA.
    Their arguments are biased, and they suck up to the big boys. Not very surprising considering that they arent willing to comprimise. Their complaining makes my ears bleed. Especially all of those redneck hypocrites on saveelk.com .

    Oh, and I was wondering Nabeki, you said you lived in a wolf state? Hm…I wonder why they would’nt let you in the hate gathering.

    Like

    • Sadly Leia I was not invited to the haters meeting but hey, I’m not offended. I would love to have been a fly on the wall though, can you imagine the handwringing, the whining?

      You are right, the anti wolf groups aren’t going away but then neither are we. Wolf advocates are just getting started. We haven’t reached the peak ouf our influence yet. We’re like a sleeping giant that has just woke from a slumber. The other side has had their way far too long. We have been excluded at almost every level. Our wildlife is being slaughtered annually for agribusiness and I don’t just mean wolves. Wildlife (Dis)Services kills millions of animals and birds each year.

      It’s sheer carnage yet most people have no idea who Wildlife Services is. They even killed critically endangered Mexican gray wolves.

      The battle will be long but we have no choice but to see it through. Wolves and other wildlife have no voice, we must speak for them.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  8. […] been coalition building by Montana FWP with ranching and hunting lobbies, to find ways around Judge Molloy’s ruling. There’s wolf hysteria in Idaho County, Idaho, […]

    Like


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