In 1833 Henry Clay introduced and passed through congress a bill to grant all public lands to the states. The great states rights President Andrew Jackson did a pocket veto of the bill. On May 20, 1862, the first homestead law was enacted. By this means the arid west was officially opened up for settlement. This western landscape was soon controlled by livestock interests who sought desperately to wrest control of the public lands from federal control to the control of the newly formed states. This happened even though in their charters as states, these states did recognize the dominion of federal control of public lands in their state. Still to make the formula more complicated, the smaller livestock interests often feared the states gaining control of the public lands in their states. Once the federal Government began to withdraw larger segments of the public domain into reserves to further control of the resources, the western states and the livestock holders resisted fiercely as they envisioned the large loss of grazing land and other exploitative rights to the land. The federal government responded by offering the grazing interests compromises which culminated in the Hoover administration offering the states all unallotted lands in the west - albeit under strict conditions. This give and take between livestock dominated western interests and the federal government was symbolically honored by the sacrificial eradication of the wolf from all western states as well as practically all areas of the United States. This was carried out by the formation of a large, unwieldy but beholden bureaucracy - beholden to the livestock interests.
One must understand the developments of how and why this came about. Colorado is a good example of how this settlement of Colorado under livestock interests took and how and why attitudes developed.1 Even during the days of the area of Colorado being under the control of a territorial governor, the territorial authorities always approved money for bounties on wolves. Even so, early on there were protests of such expenditures from people with experience with bounties such as N. F. Cheesman.2 Even with such reasoned judgments, the new state of Colorado passed a bounty bill on wolves and coyotes during its first session. This and subsequent additions to the bounty bills was vetoed by Colorado's Governor Grant in 1885. He set the tone by insisting on individual and local governing responsibility on this matter:
The state is under no more obligation to clear the farmer's ranch of poisonous weeds, under no more obligation to protest the herdsman's flocks against wolves and lions than it is to pump the water from the silver and lead mines to free the coal mines from poisonous gasses. These bounty laws represent a species of provincial legislation to those counties whose citizen have displayed such aptitude in scalping wolves and harvesting loco-weed.3
The livestock interests however saw a need to present a state wide effort against major predators so as not to allow areas to remain as breeding reserves or sanctuaries for these large fast moving predators. The bounties were restored. They represented a harbinger of things to come when individual western states sought an effort to carry out nation-wide predator control-especially in those public lands they felt restricted from carrying out such controls themself.4 The larger livestock owners generally favored the federal government giving all these public lands to the states anyway. The smaller livestock interests knowing how the state legislatures worked, believed any such land transfers would just lead them being parceled out to the larger monopolies and livestock interests of the areas. Indeed the National Livestock association in a 1898 meeting in Denver expressed just such fears.5
In the first Theodore Roosevelt administration, a letter was sent out to fourteen hundred Colorado stockmen regarding the federal holding of public lands in the west. Of this number, one hundred twenty-nine replied that federal ownership of federal land should continue while only twenty-four wanted no federal control of the land.6 Still, as will later be touched upon, this relative ambivalence to answering the questionnaire, dealt more with suggest regulations under which the federal government would part with the lands than with true views on what should happen to the public lands. This is especially evident in the creation in 1891 of the forest reserves. Except for a brief period under the Garfield administration, when grazing was banned from the forest reserves, the main anger of the stockmen and state legislatures was direct at the federal grazing fee on public lands, the loss of resources in timber areas, the lockup of western lands and their mineral resources that had no trees on them, the failure of the federal government to compensate the states and local governments for public lands held in their area, and the perceived lack of access to predator control on those lands.7
Predator control was begun on forest preserves by forest ranger in 1905. From 1909 to 1915, forest rangers killed 68 wolves in Colorado. The federal government also essentially contracted with the individual livestock owners of the area in 1908 in this regard-at the exclusion of the states. This process quieted the ranchers. Especially since almost unlimited access to national forest lands was allowed. This situation didn't peak until 1918. Still, an overwhelming condition of resentment prevailed in the western mountain states like Colorado. In 1980 over half of the 1,163 million acres in the west were public domain lands. From 1880-1930, 600 to 700 million acres of this western public domain went into private allocation. Most of this was in the Dakotas and Kansas. The western mountain states and the livestock holders there were increasingly frustrated with federal ownership of vast areas of their states.8
The developing battlground between state versus federal ownership of the land came next in the U.S. Congress. In the 58th Congress on Feb. 25, 1904, the state of Wyoming presented several memorials of the legislature of Wyoming to the U.S. Congress to advocate that the federal government destroy predatory animals on it's public land holdings in Wyoming. In it, they also expressed the idea that the federal government should be responsible for the lands it holds in states, in reference to what the interests of those states are:
Whereas the legislature of Wyoming has for many years past has from time to time enacted stringent laws for the destruction of predatory wild animals and is now making a large appropriation for the same purpose covering the period of two years from March 31, 1905 and the government control of the forest reserves would practically render in operative this provision of the state law and work irreparable damage to the livestock interests which is the leading industry of the state at the present time.9During the same year congress refused to act on President Roosevelt's offer to take over all aspect of the control of the public domain.
The next big push in congress came in 1915 with the push to fund the extermination or control or predatory animals and destructive rodents by funding to the Bureau of Biological Control the money needed to set up such a program.10 The main points made to the members of the Senate side of Congress was that the government controlled 200,000,000 acres of the western lands and paid no taxes to the states- nor were the affected municipalities compensated. It was noted that in state after state in these western lands, large sums of money was being appropriated by the states themselves for predator and rodent control.11 The insertion in the Congressional Record of the article The Wolf at the Stockman's Door -- sheep and Cattle Killers Breed in the National Preserves by S. W. McClure is interesting in two aspects. First it ranks the coyote as the greatest killer of and destroyer of livestock and suggests that its adaptation to civilization will make it hard to eradicate. Secondly, McClure ranks the wolf as dead last of the problem predators of the west. He also acknowledges that the wolf is unable to adapt to the march of civilization.12
The real surprise of the Feb. 25 session however came from Senator Thomas of Colorado. Indeed Senator Thomas seems to hearken back to the attitudes of the former Governor of Colorado Grant. Like Grant, Senator Thomas feared that the individual states would give in to federal control things he felt was best not carried out by the federal government. While Senator Thomas makes some impassioned statements for the need of the common man and of the states to be free on an ever controlling federal government, he touches on the exact reason this whole day's session was being held. This reason or purpose was to establish a federal bureaucracy which would take on a life of its own and be beholden to special interests - in this case the livestock holders!
Mr. MYERS. I hope this will prove no exception to the Senators experience, because I believe there is a great merit in this appropriation. The Senator from Colorado [Mr. Thomas] for whom I have the very highest esteem for his ability and sincerity, seems to have a nightmare of fear that this government is going to put on a vast army of officials and employees every time a new appropriation is brought before this body. I do not believe there is anything in the fear that we are going to have more officials and employees in this country than private citizens, although that seems to be the Senator's fear... Mr. THOMAS. I think the fear is pretty well founded. I recall that a few days ago a Senator, referring to this subject, said that officer seeking and office holding had become an organized industry of constantly increasing dimensions in the State, a statement which is confirmed by my own experience in other parts of the Union.13As to the formation of a beholden bureaucracy, Senator Thomas couched it in exact terms of an organization out of control: Mr. THOMAS: And they got along until a few years ago without any at all from the Agriculture Department. Now, the activities of the Agriculture Department in proper directions are not only to be approved but encouraged; but they are misdirected when they are used for appropriations, of which this is not the only one, for this bill and other bills teem with appropriations of many sorts that are really designed to spend the public money in different localities of this country, which depend upon each other for passage. We have here an establishment of the old principle, "You scratch my back and I will scratch yours," which makes the aggregate of these bills so enormous, and which encourages appropriations that otherwise would not be thought of.14 The result of this legislation was indeed the formation of the Predator and Rodent Control Branch of the Bureau of Biological Survey.
During the next sessions of Congress covering predator control, the whole sessions were pro forma. More and more money was appropriated each year by Congress for the Bureau of Biological Survey's work. More and more attention is paid to the destruction of the prairie dog.15 In 1929, the Herbert Hoover administration came out in favor of returning the unreserved public lands to the states. The states and the livestock concerns however saw that the conditions imposed on such a transfer were impossible. Without the valuable forest lands or title to the subsurface mineral rights in the unreserved lands, those interested saw that taking possession of such lands would be more of a major burden than a blessing. Even after the federal government offered the states the subsurface mineral rights, the western interests saw that the restrictions imposed on developing or using the mineral resources was prohibitive.16 For example, in an otherwise declarative statement as to how beneficial sheep had been to the range conditions in the west, the Idaho Wool Grower's Association had this to say in the Congressional Record about the land deal:
Our experience with grazing regulations by federal agencies has been so unhappy and expensive, that we want no more of it. If the federal government desires to make a gift to the State, not Greeklike in its nature, then let it return to the states their natural heritages -- its forests, its mineral lands, and its grazing lands. If it is willing to do this, we pledge our hearty acceptance and our full cooperation in making these great resources a source of eternal usefulness to the people of the west, as well as an important and natural source of taxable wealth.17
The 71st Congress carried out hearings to pass Public Act 392. This bill was to give the Bureau of Biological Survey a guaranteed 10 year program of one million dollars a year to carry out the eradication, suppression or control of predatory animals and destructive rodents on private and public lands of the United States. Perhaps this was just consequential action; however in light of Hoover's contrite offer to give unreserved land back to the states with impossible conditions placed on them. this action may have been a securing of grazing rights with minimal losses on federal land due to controllable factors. Still we again see suspicion of the formation of an out-of-control bureaucracy. Representative Cochran of Missouri had this to say:
Mr. Speaker, we have passed legislation today of almost every character, but at this late hour it seems to me the House is called upon to pass a measure which could well remain on the calendar. At a glance it is doubtful what fitting title should be given to the bill, but it certainly can be classed as a destructive measure, Its purpose is to destroy -- destroy everything in the way of wild animals from a mountain lion to a field mouse. It is another obnoxious Federal-aid Measure, increasing the fund for the destruction of wild animals to $1,000,000 a year over a period of 10 years. I suppose some of its friends will call it on aid to unemployment, as the final section creates more jobs, even in the District of Columbia. The Biological Survey now has an efficient organization in the District of Columbia, but this extends the right to employ more help. If we continue, where will we end? As my friend from Pennsylvania remarks, about 1 in every 12 of our citizens is now on the payroll of either the city, county, state, or federal government.18On May 21, 1930, the American Society of Mammalogists held a major symposium on predator animal control.19 And it is important at this juncture to begin to discuss how this eradication program of the wolf was carried out. With some reference to this as well as previous material, the contributions of Stanley Paul Young to this burgeoning bureaucracy will be examined. It will be looked upon how Stanley Paul Young represented his job as well as how he represented the livestock industry, with which the Bureau of Biological Survey Division of Predator and Rodent carried out the majority of their work for. Stanley Paul Young was a longtime worker for the Bureau of Biological Survey and from 1929-1939 held positions of leadership and management in this division of the Survey! From Box 345 of his papers stored in the Western History section of the Denver Public Library, there is a cut out section of what appears to be a think piece in an inner -departmental memo. From the bottom of the last page, there is references dating the article to around August 29, 1927. Here is the body of the work:
SUBJECT: What should be the policy of the Biological Survey in predatory-animal and rodent work -- eradication or control? Recommendation 7: That the policy of the Biological Survey in predatory-animal and rodent work be one of Control. COMMENT: There are some predatory animals and rodents that, because of their great harm to agriculture and livestock, must be eradicated from large areas of the country. For example, the gray wolf and the prairie dog in their operations so deleteriously affect agricultural interests that their presence in large numbers can not be tolerated. Other species, such as the coyote and the ground squirrel, are so prolific and occur over such wide areas that although their reputation for destructiveness is well known, no one in the Biological Survey would have the temerity to assert that these animals could be exterminated. The idea of extermination of any species is abhorrent to thousands of people throughout the United States, and the use of the word "exterminate" should, I think, be eliminated from our vocabulary. We know full well that there will continue to be left many wild areas where the mountain lion, the coyote, the bobcat, and many species of rodents will perhaps always be present, and I feel sure that the members of the Biological Survey will be just as happy in the assurance that these animals are on such areas as will the nature lovers of the country. The fact remains that we must work for the eradication of certain species from areas where their destructiveness is so impressive in an economic way that no other policy of handling them there could be followed, and we should frankly admit this fact to our critics, pointing out, on the other hand, that we are not embarked upon a general extermination program, and that our main objective is so to control the predatory animals and the rodent pests as to reduce to a minimum the economic losses for which they are responsible. P. G. R. SUBJECT: What should be the policy of the Biological Survey in the control of predatory animals on national parks, wilderness areas, national monuments, and other like areas controlled by Federal, State, or private agencies? Recommendation 8: That predatory-animal control on these areas be considered the duty of the Biological Survey, subject to the request of the organization concerned (See also Recommendation 2 in report of Committee No. 4. P. G. R.20
The 'P. G. R.' initialing the reports is apparently Paul G. Redington the head of the Bureau of Biological Survey from 1927-1934. As to this policy, in all his books Stanley Paul Young maintains that there are areas in the continental United States proper where wolves can live.21 He also states the opinion that wolves in remote areas was not being bothered or controlled.22 He mentions that the red wolf still has room in which to live in the south around Texas. Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri. Given his preface that wolves will remain in these areas as long as civilization does not impede upon the areas, the Missouri Conservationist 52 (220): 5-7, Jan 1961 in an article entitled Missouri's Vanishing Wolves, noted the observation that all animals trapped between 1940-1960 were coyotes, not red wolves. Dr. John Paradiso of the U.S. Museum studied the status of the red wolf in 1964. The skulls he studied showed no red wolves among them. This even though the PARC trappers reported large wolves periodically killed.23 David E Brown in his book about the Mexican wolf has this to say:
Certainly some later administrators can be faulted for not having a more enlightened attitude. No real justification can be given for continuing to take wolves into the 1940's, 1950's and even the 1960's -- especially in places such as Fort Huachuca, some Indian reservations and in Mexico. It should have been apparent that the wolf had been reduced to a manageable menace. There was no need to get the last wolf any more than it was necessary to take the last wolves from Grand Canyon National Park and Game Preserve during the deer irruption in the 1920's24
To follow it up more, from an article in the December 41, 1922 issue of the Rocky Mountain News to an article in the Washington Star dated March 27, 1937, Mr. Young continually wrote stories that portrayed wolves as wanton killers who are just like the gangsters of the time.25 In the Nov. 14th issue of the Journal of Mammalogy in 1939, Stanley Young reports the taking of very isolated and few in number of Mexican wolves from the border area.26 So, the major points here are that Mr. Young held out the hope that wolves could stay alive in wild areas of the United States, while at the same time he knew that this was false. He knew that the red wolves were not in existence in many areas he said they might exist in. He knew that the Mexican wolf was being exterminated and that the poison and trapping campaign was being extended to Mexico.
In an article being prepared called The Saga of Predatory Animal Control , a 1956 copy on page 109 is written as: Such vicious deeds as well as the enormous losses inflicted in the depredation prove the unfitness of wolves for life in any but remote wilderness areas. On page 129, he changes the logic and sense of the concept to: Although they are animals of exceeding interest, their habits are so destructive both to domestic animals and to game that as with the Mountain lion, they cannot fit in with the complete occupation of any region by manThus in one draft he sees the wolf as an unfit animal in what can only be described as in a moral sense. In the second passage, Stanley Young sees the wolf as having some biological realities to its makeup that is justifying eradicating it in populated areas! Indeed this relates to the article entitled The Wolf at the Stockman's Door -- Sheep and Cattle Killers Breed in the National Reserves by S.W. McClure that I mentioned was inserted in the February 25. 1915 Congressional record. McClure not only states that the wolf is dead last as a livestock killer but at that time there appeared to be few large numbers of wolves in the west and as pointed out in the end notes it was know that most wolves did not kill livestock. For Mr. Young to make moral judgments on the wolf, he shows his lack of professionalness and his lack of a sound understanding of scientific methods. It would tale Adolph Murie to study the coyote in Yellowstone and the wolf in Denali National Park in Alaska to set the standards of sound scientific judgments. As for Mr. Young, no concrete action displayed itself in his stated desire to see the wolf survive in not only the wilderness of Canada and Alaska but sections of the United States as well as Mexico. At no time was it discovered any effort along the line to speak for the species continued existence. Mr. Young worked for the Government in a position of authority and had the esteem of his experience in the field and by his books. At no time did he use this to champion for the wolf during a period when the last wolves were being eradicated from the United States and Canada but up in Canada and Alaska as well.27
Stan, the three examples given above are typical changes in control.. Our problem in Colorado is people., not predators. We are being forced to regulate our use of control tools so drastically in areas of high public use that many of our most valuable control tools are nearly lost to use or so strangled that they are ineffective. Our problem in the future is providing a degree of control with full consideration for multiple use of public lands and safety.
The District agent brings up a very interesting point. By the 1960's, the monopolistic control of the public lands by the livestock owners are being challenged by other groups. Although the agent seems still beholden to the livestock interests, he is obviously being pressured to acknowledge other interests. So ironically, the very agent Mr. Young saw in the demise of the wolf which was the march of civilization, was the same agent that offered the diversity that may have allowed the wolf to live. There also has been suggestions in the paper and end notes that there may have existed not only bad science on Mr. Young's part but just enough question of his veracity to suggest a man more beholden to his special interest groups, the livestock people, than to any higher form of action or thought. As Dr. Charles C. Adams said at the 1930 Predatory Animal Control Symposium:
The impression is very general that while there have been hundreds of thousands of dollars available for destruction, there have been only a few thousand dollars used for Scientific studies, not only of their food, but for every other aspect of the problem. The fact that there was no money available may be the whole explanation but that point has never been adequately brought out. The Bureau has simply defended its policies. I imagine that there is something in the back ground that we have not been told at these meetings.28In the settlement of the arid west, federal and states rights clashed. To accommodate the dominate controlling interests of the west, the livestock industry, the federal government opened up areas to overgrazing and contracted out to form a bureaucratic organization to help the western states control or exterminate the predator and rodent pests on federal lands. The wolf and the prairie dog were offered up as symbolic sacrificial victims to seal this pact. The wolf with its large size, total carnivorous diet and its more predictable behavior was seen as vulnerable and was taken out. The prairie dog while massively reduced in population and extent of its range, held on. Still this offered the western rancher enough placation to satisfy him for some time The Bureaucracy established to control or eradicate these predators and rodents was given the free reign and authority it needed to take off. In doing so, it saw its continued existence only threatened by being able to acquire large appropriations. These were largely controlled by the livestock interests. The agency was controlled and corrupted by the livestock industry and their agents. This came about in an atmosphere of a total lack of any significant opposition groups or even a diverse multidimensional society. The fact that wealth of the nation due in part to the livestock industry was the factor in developing this diversity in society is an ironic footnote in history.
An outstanding figure in the operations of the Division of Predator and Rodent Control of the Bureau of Biological Survey was Stanley Paul Young. Ironically there wasd also was the deep respect that Mr. Young developed for the wolf. He said he always supported the wolf's continued existence as a species. However the facts show he never ventured beyond those relatively safe remarks to speak out or act for the wolf! To do so would have probably sullied his image to the livestock interests he knew his loyalty was so important in - mainly important to himself! As far as the wolf went, the lack of such an organized, efficient and wealthy group such as the livestock industry eventually saved the wolf in Canada and Alaska!
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This page last updated on April 5, 2001.