Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What the feds are up to this week re: wolves

October 05, 2011

Feds find money for Minnesota wolf control

The federally funded wolf-trapping effort in Minnesota that ran out of money and shut down Friday could be running again within days after the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture pledged new money for the program.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
The federally funded wolf-trapping effort in Minnesota that ran out of money and shut down Friday could be running again within days after the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture pledged new money for the program.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told the News Tribune on Tuesday that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pledged to use money from the agency’s operating budget to restart the wolf trapping and killing program.
“Secretary Vilsack has assured me that he has found the money to extend the program out to the end of the year,” said Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We need this program to keep Minnesota livestock and residents safe. … The gap in that coverage was unacceptable.”
Klobuchar said her focus now is to push forward an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “delist” wolves as an endangered species by the end of 2011 and give management back to state and tribal natural resource agencies. The state then could begin more-aggressive wolf management efforts, including allowing the public to shoot wolves causing trouble.
U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., agreed.
“I commend the USDA for temporarily continuing essential resources for operations to protect private property and ensure public safety from problem wolves while we work to delist the wolf from protected status in Minnesota,” Cravaack said in a statement, also urging Congress to legislate Minnesota wolf delisting rather than wait for the Endangered Species Act protocol to unfold in coming months.
Because expert federal trappers are able to pinpoint their efforts near where farmers and pet owners are having problems, Klobuchar said she also hopes to keep federal money available for the trapping program even after the state assumes management of wolves. State officials and some farmers have asked for the federal government to split the cost of focused trapping.
Carol Bannerman, a USDA spokeswoman, confirmed the program extension, but only for Minnesota. USDA trapping efforts in 16 other states that are normally funded through earmarks, including Wisconsin, have not been restored.
The USDA trapping program has been killing wolves in Minnesota since 1978. Last year alone, the program investigated 272 complaints and killed 192 wolves. In 2009, it killed 199 wolves. This year it was up to 189 until the federal budget year ended Friday and the current congressional earmark for the program ran out of money.
Supporters say the wolf-trapping program acted as not only pinpoint response but also as a safety valve to relieve social and political pressure among people who don’t like wolves and might otherwise take matters into their own hands, killing wolves indiscriminately with poison or guns.
Killing wolves is allowed, even though wolves are a federally protected species, because Minnesota wolves are classified as threatened, a step removed from endangered. In Wisconsin and Michigan, trapped wolves are relocated away from farms.
Peak demand typically occurs starting in April when calves and lambs are born and continues through summer. But trappers get calls every month.
There are an estimated 3,200 wolves in Minnesota, about 800 in Wisconsin and 700 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, many more than federal officials expected when the animal first received federal protection in 1974.



Obama administration proposes delisting Wyoming wolves

By Rocky Barker

Published: 10/04/11

A gray wolf. 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to remove the gray wolf population in Wyoming from the endangered species list.
The plan protects wolves as trophy species in part of the state year-round and in an expanded area from Oct. 15 through February when wolves are dispersing.
"After years of hard work by the Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners to achieve the successful recovery of wolves in the northern Rockies, Wyoming wolves are ready to stand on their own under the management of the professional wildlife biologists of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "We expect Wyoming's wolf population will be maintained well above recovery levels under state management, and we have worked with the state to develop a strong post-delisting monitoring and management plan to ensure that this remarkable conservation success endures for future generations."
The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population has more than 1,650 wolves, 244 packs and 110 breeding pairs, the federal agency said. It has exceeded recovery goals for 11 consecutive years, fully occupies nearly all suitable habitat and has high levels of genetic diversity.
In August, the service and the State of Wyoming announced an agreement that served as the basis for a revision to the state's management plan. Finalizing this proposal to delist will be dependent on changes to Wyoming statutes and regulations necessary to conform to and implement the wolf management plan.
If the changes deviate significantly from the approved state wolf management plan, the service may withdraw the delisting proposal or reopen the comment period to provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on that information. Until a final decision on this proposal is published, wolves in Wyoming will remain fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Under the state plan, wolves will continue to be under federal management in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, and within the National Elk Refuge. Outside of the parks and refuge, wolves in northwestern Wyoming will be managed as trophy game animals and human-caused mortality (including hunting) will be regulated by the state. Collectively, this area encompasses nearly all of Wyoming's current wolf-breeding pairs, the vast majority of the suitable habitat, and is large enough to maintain Wyoming's share of a recovered wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director, said the Obama administration should not be removing protections for wolves in Wyoming under these circumstances.
"The proposed delisting rule effectively endorses a state management plan that permits unmanaged wolf killing across the vast majority