Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wolves of the Day (Family Portrait)

Canadese wolf Berlijn Zoo IMG_0918 
Canada wolf family 

Wisconsinites Needed for Petition Drive!!!

By Rachel Tilseth 

October 1, 2014

We have a paper petition circulating thought-out Wisconsin that calls for the removal of the dogs from the Wolf hunt.

We are currently seeking more volunteers to work on this important cause.

If you are ready to help make positive changes for wolves email us at and joint us in the fight to #BanWolfHounding in Wisconsin.



#Wolves Win AGAIN! Wyoming wolves stay under fed jurisdiction

State’s attempt to reverse decision is rejected Tuesday.

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014
If Wyoming leaders had their way, today would have been the opener of the 2014 wolf hunt. But the hunt will not go on.
After two years with wolves under state control, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson affirmed Tuesday that Wyoming’s wolves would be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — for now, at least.
Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and pro-hunting groups had requested that Jackson reconsider her Sept. 23 ruling. The state issued an emergency rule over the weekend that was intended to address her concerns.
In response to a 2012 lawsuit, Jackson ruled last week in favor of six conservation groups, stripping Wyoming wildlife managers of authority to manage the state’s wolves, calling it “arbitrary and capricious” to “rely on the state’s non-binding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves.”
Gov. Matt Mead responded to Jackson’s affirmation of the ruling with disappointment.

“Wyoming has been successful in its management of gray wolves,” Mead said in a statement. “There were more wolves in Wyoming at the end of 2013 than in 2012. Wyoming has managed wolves well above the minimum and buffer population numbers.
“Overturning the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] delisting decision on a technicality highlights Wyoming’s concerns with the Endangered Species Act,” the governor said.
Hunting advocates dismayed
Wyoming hunting advocates shared his concerns.
Bob Wharff, executive director of Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, was discouraged that there could be an extended period ahead when wolves cannot be hunted.
“It’s amazing to me that we can win on the major challenges and lose on a technicality,” Wharff said. “Her ruling clearly stated that wolves are not threatened or endangered, and that they’re clearly recovered. She said that the challenge that the predator zone was a significant portion of their range was unfounded.
“Yet she chose to hang her hat on a technicality,” he said. “It doesn’t bode well for our system of laws. To me this was legislation from the bench.”
According to The Associated Press, Jackson’s decision leaves Wyoming and the Fish and Wildlife Service with the choice of appealing or developing a revised management plan. The planning can take years and will require more public comment, during which time Wyoming wolves will remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Wyoming wildlife managers said they will join the fight to regain control.
“We will continue to work with the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to address relevant concerns and ensure wolf management is returned to the state,” Brian Nesvik, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s chief game warden, said in a statement.
Wolf numbers healthy
In two years of hunting Wyoming’s wolf population stayed mostly stable. At last assessment wolf numbers within state jurisdiction had swelled by about 5 percent, increasing by 13 animals to 199 wolves running in 30 packs.
About another 100 wolves live in Yellowstone National Park and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Conservation groups applauded word that the judge had upheld her ruling.
The law firm Earthjustice argued the case on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Fund for Animals, Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.
Ralph Henry, deputy director for litigation at the Humane Society of the United States, told The Associated Press his group believes it’s time for state and federal regulators to take a new approach to Wyoming wolf management.
“We think that the federal court was right to put the brakes on that effort,” Henry said.
The Humane Society, Henry said, was concerned that Wyoming’s management plan showed the state was acting aggressively and recklessly to reduce wolf numbers to the bare minimum.
Wyoming managers had been looking for a population of 160 wolves. Models predict that 140 wolves are necessary to ensure there are 10 breeding pairs in the state, which was a condition of the state’s delisting agreement.
Wharff is standing behind Wyoming’s management plan, which includes a shoot-on-sight “predator zone” that covers more than 80 percent of the state.
“I think that environmental groups are extremely naive to think that Wyoming is going to be doing anything different,” he said.
“I’m just hoping sportsmen will not lose their faith in the system and take the law into their own hands,” Wharff said. “A lot of people are talking about the three S’s” — shoot, shovel and shut up — “I don’t condone that type of activity, and I can’t advocate that. We’re a country of laws.”


When wolves attack

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 

Landowners have been reporting wolves on the prowl, attacking livestock in areas that include Aitkin, Isle and Malmo

This photo was taken with a trail camera one-half mile west of the Heimark farm.
A normal morning on the farm for John Walters nearly turned tragic when a pack of four wolves descended on his dog, Silo.
The wolves first focused their attention on the dog, but when the tractor John was operating didn’t seem to scare off the wolves, Walters also put himself in harm’s way.

“I’ve seen a lot of wolves in my day,” said Walters, a fourth-

This photo was taken with a trail camera one-half mile west of the Heimark farm.

generation farmer on a piece of property near Bear Lake northeast of Isle. “But I’ve never seen them that aggressive.”

Walters said he was working in a wide-open hay field and was hauling wood when he saw the wolves take notice of Silo from about a quarter of a mile away. Walters’ tractor sustained some damage from the field as he tried maneuvering the piece of equipment to scare off the wolves.

In the end, Silo, a golden lab weighing 96 pounds, escaped with a few bite marks and some rips and tears to his hind end.

But it was the reaction of the wolves to the tractor and their bold attempts to attack the tractor that got Walters’ attention.

John’s wife, Sandy, took Silo to the vet and made sure he was up on his rabies shots – although wolves don’t carry the virus, John said, “you never know.” John added, “my wife seeing the attack … that was kind of crazy for her.”

The dog was lucky to survive, but the Walters may not have been so fortunate had the wolves been at the property 20 minutes earlier when the cattle were in the field.
John said he doesn’t want to make a habit of having to bring a gun with him while he’s on the tractor, and he said the attack won’t change his habit of working out in the field.

Reporting encounters

No report was filed by Walters after the incident with his dog, but already this year the Department of Natural Resources in Aitkin has confirmed three depredation events.

When a depredation occurs with wolves, a conservation officer is sent out to investigate, explained Robert Gorecki, District 10 wildlife supervisor for the DNR.

On Sept. 15, conservation officer Scott Fitzgerald was notified by William Reese that the remains of a cow had been found which had been missing for over a month. Fitzgerald went to the farm just a few miles outside of Aitkin and was able to determine from damage to the carcass that wolves were involved. Canine tracks consistent in size and shape with a wolf and multiple tracks were found at the scene. Neighbors had also reported seeing wolves and had pictures on trail cameras.

In Glen Township, John Apple saw a neighbor’s cow being eaten by a wolf and shot the wolf on site. He reported it to Eric Heimark, who owned the calf. Heimark then reported the incident and officer Gorecki responded. The attack occurred in a pasture less than 50 feet from a road, 100 feet from the barn and 300 feet from Heimark’s house.

Early in September a miniature horse was killed by wolves in Malmo Township on the property of Karen Elias.

Once a confirmation of wolves is made, a trapping zone can be set up that is regulated by state or federal trappers. A farmer can also be reimbursed for a lost animal through a Farm Service agent.
In all three cases in Aitkin County, a federal trapping zone was set up, and thus far two wolves have been trapped in Malmo Township, four wolves have been trapped near the Heimark residence and no wolves have been trapped near the Reese property. All three trapping zones are still active.

According to Gorecki, all three instances of wolf depredation have had paperwork filed by the owners to receive reimbursement to get fair market value of the animals.

Within the state of Minnesota, two wolf zones – A and B – operate under different circumstances for private land owners to kill a wolf.

In the A zone, which covers most of the northeast portion of the state and half of Aitkin County, farmers or animal owners must first witness a wolf actively stalking or attacking before shooting a wolf.

In the B zone, farmers and property owners have more lax rules on taking wolves – if a wolf is in proximity to an animal, the owner has the right to kill the wolf, according to Gorecki.

“Owners cannot trap on their property unless they’re within a regulated state or federal program,” said Gorecki.

Anyone living in a wolf-populated area should be aware this time of year as wolf pups are quite active, said Gorecki, adding, “They’re leaving the dens, but reports aren’t worse than previous years, and overall instances are pretty low.”


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Conservation Groups Oppose Wyoming Wolf Management

Wyoming Wolves
Conservation groups are urging a federal judge not to allow the state of Wyoming to regain control of wolves. The groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012. They're challenging the agency's acceptance of Wyoming's wolf management plan, which classifies wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas. "There's a real disagreement between what the science of wolf management is and what the political decisions are that are being made," Adrienne Maxwell, a Montana lawyer representing the conservation groups, said Monday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., last week entered an order returning wolves in Wyoming to federal control. Jackson agreed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wolves in the Northern Rockies have recovered. And she accepted the agency's finding that wolves aren't endangered or threatened within a significant portion of their range. But Jackson ruled the federal agency shouldn't have accepted Wyoming's nonbinding promise to maintain at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Wyoming moved fast last week to try to get Jackson to reverse the decision.

Republican Gov. Matt Mead's administration last week pushed through an administrative rule that started the process of making the state's wolf plan legally binding. The state then pointed to that new rule in asking Jackson to amend her decision.

Jackson has set a hearing for Tuesday to consider the state's request and other matters.

The state told the judge it wanted to resolve the issue quickly because it has scheduled a wolf hunt starting Wednesday in a trophy-hunting zone bordering Yellowstone National Park. The state game commission has approved letting hunters kill up to 43 wolves in the hunting season. Public hunting is not allowed under federal management.

Mead emphasized last week that state management is working. He said the state had almost 190 wolves and 15 breeding pairs after the first hunting season in 2012 and just under 200 wolves and 15 breeding pairs after last year's hunt. "We're managing wolves correctly," Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael said. "But part of managing wolves is you have to kill some of them." 

Lawyers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday filed papers with Jackson saying they didn't believe she needed to scrap state management entirely to address whether the state's minimum population guarantee was binding. Lawyers for the Safari Club and other hunting groups also supported continued state management.

Maxwell said the state's response to Jackson's order doesn't solve the problems with the state wolf management plan. She said the state and federal agency should craft a new plan.

The federal government reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transferred wolf management to state control in Montana and Idaho years ago. Congress specified there could be no legal challenge to management plans in those states, which also allow hunting.

Wolf of the Day


Mexican gray wolf pup

Oacoma man fined for killing gray wolf in Canada

September 25, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — An Oacoma man will pay a $5,000 fine for killing a gray wolf in Canada without a license.

The U.S. attorney's office in South Dakota says 35-year-old Anthony Nogy also must pay $750 in restitution and be on probation for a year.

He pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the U.S. Lacey Act.

Prosecutors say Nogy was moose hunting last September in Ontario when he shot the wolf. He bought a wolf tag the next day and had it flown to his camping site where he attached it to the animal. When he stopped at the U.S. border, Nogy declared a moose he had killed on the trip but didn't declare the wolf hide.


Gray Wolf Accidentally Killed:

Governor Mead Appreciates Judge Jackson’s Swift Response to Wyoming’s Emergency Rule on Gray Wolves


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming established an emergency rule to address Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision on Tuesday, September 23.  Judge Jackson recognized the urgency of this matter and acted quickly to hear arguments on Wyoming’s request that she reverse her order returning management of gray wolves to federal control.  All parties were required to submit comments by noon today.
Judge Jackson ordered a hearing set for tomorrow, September 30, 2014.
“I believe that Wyoming’s success in managing wolves for the last two years, the emergency rule and the commitment by the Game and Fish Commission to make a permanent rule shows Wyoming’s resolution to manage wolves effectively,” Governor Mead said. “I appreciate the decision by Judge Jackson to address Wyoming’s motion quickly.”


Monday, September 29, 2014

Idaho Wolf, Coyote Hunting Derby Wants Larger Area

A group that overcame a court challenge last winter to hold a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby is seeking a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to roughly double the area for a second event this winter. "There's no excuse for not allowing us to hunt," said Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife. "It's on federal land. If we didn't have a derby, people are allowed to hunt it anyway." 

The tentative dates for the derby in the east-central part of the state near Salmon are Jan. 2-3, he said.
The BLM said a permit is required because a derby is considered a competitive event with prizes. Last year, the hunting group offered two separate, $1,000 prizes — one for the hunter who killed the biggest wolf, the other for the hunter who bagged the most coyotes. Alder said prizes haven't been determined for this winter's event that's expected to draw more than 300 people, about 100 to 150 of them hunters.

The BLM plans to make public an environmental analysis Thursday and take public comments for 15 days. The agency said about 1,500 square miles are involved. "We are anticipating that lots of people have comments," BLM spokeswoman Sarah Wheeler said. "It's very polarizing. What people have a hard time understanding is that the BLM doesn't regulate hunting. We're looking at the impacts it's going to have on public lands."  Alder said the impacts would be "minimal."

Sarah McMillan of WildEarth Guardians disagreed, and said her group and others will try to stop the derby through comments, or legal challenges should BLM officials approve the permit. "We don't believe these kinds of activities are appropriate on our public lands," she said. "We're hopeful that the BLM won't approve the killing contest." 

Linda Price, a BLM spokeswoman in Salmon, said the agency expects to make a decision by Nov. 5.
McMillan said that environmental groups could respond quickly with legal action should the BLM approve the permit. "We are able to mobilize quickly, and we would because we would want to try to stop it from happening again this year," she said. 

Environmental groups lost in federal court last year when a judge ruled the hunting group didn't need a permit from the U.S. Forest Service because derby promoters were encouraging use of the forest for a lawful activity.

The Dec. 28-29, 2013, event drew 230 people, about 100 of them hunters, who killed 21 coyotes but no wolves. McMillan noted the date was particularly galling for environmental groups because Dec. 28 that year marked the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which once protected wolves in Idaho.

Alder said he's already contacted the U.S. Forest Service and been told the derby could be held without a permit from that federal agency. Having permission from both federal agencies, he said, would make the logistics easier of determining where participants could hunt.

He said the main targets are coyotes, which are classified by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as a predatory wildlife and can be hunted year round with no limit.

Wolves are classified as big game and require a hunter have a special tag. The state has set harvest limits in some management zones, meaning the season ends when the limit is reached. Federal managers could take over management of Idaho wolves if the state falls below 15 documented breeding pairs. "It's just insane to think we'll have chance to take a wolf," Alder said. "It would be wonderful for someone to take a wolf, but I don't expect it."

Win for Wolves in Alaska

The Federal District Court in Alaska just issued an Order granting our motion against the Tongass National Forest, stopping four old-growth timber sales in Southeast Alaska for a second time because of concerns related to logging effects on wolves, deer, and subsistence hunters.
So raise a glass! The Scott Peak, Traitors Cove, Overlook and Soda Nick timber sale, near the communities of Petersburg, Ketchikan and Hydaburg on Alaska's rainforest archipelago, are back off the chopping block. 
This case has been a mini-saga showing the fun & maddening ways environmental litigation works. Cascadia and Greenpeace, represented by the top-notch legal talent at CRAG law center, first sued back in 2008. It took a couple years of legal ping-pong until, in 2011, we finally got our win in the 9th Circuit. The court found the Forest Service had not explained how the project, which we had argued reduced deer habitat capability far below the established thresholds (18 deer/ sq mi), was in compliance with their own Forest Plan. The Forest Service had been mis-using a computer model in a way that masked those effects. 
So, the court kicked it back to the Forest Service to correct its model and explain itself (in legalese: a "remand"). If the Forest Service could adequately explain how the sales were kosher with the Forest Plan, then logging could proceed. 
Trouble is, the sales aren't really consistent with the Forest Plan. Combined with past logging, not enough old-growth would be left for deer to achieve the promises they've made about wolves and subsistence. The best science says the computer model needs to show 18 deer/ sq mile to have enough actual deer to feed wolves and human subsistence hunters. Remove too much habitat, and the whole system unravels. Places like these are at that breaking point.
So again, the Forest Service tried to obscure the problem on the ground with clever paperwork, applying the wrong rule to their new decisions. 
That all took another couple years. When we saw the Forest Service hadn't really corrected its errors, we filed a motion to enforce the mandate on remand, which is what the court granted yesterday.
The Forest Service now has a choice whether to invest more taxpayer money pushing these sales forward, or to let it drop. Theoretically they could re-do their anlysis, do it right, and log the sales. 
That's the frustrating thing about environmental law, the only things you can win on are procedural. The government gets infinite chances to try and make things square with the law. 
But fundamentally I hope Forest Service leadership recognizes that the underlying problem here is not legal procedure. There is a fundmantal contradiction between the political desire to use the forest to feed a timber industry, and the reality that the forest ecosystem is at a breaking point. Deer hunting in some of these areas is already highly restricted, and wolves (who feed on deer) are on a path to an ESA listing or extinction. The only way you can rationally decide it's OK to continue logging the Tongass is to make a mistake.
So the struggle continues on many fronts, but for now, we're celebrating a nice victory. Alaska's subsistence hunters, deer and wolves are a little safer today than they were yesterday. That's movement in the right direction.