Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 18 May 2012
Don't mess with these ladies! Suzanne Stone, Kylie Paul and Erin Edge (left to right) get suited up frontier-style for a tour of wolf country.
Wolf women travel the Wild West – These women look tough enough to send Calamity Jane running for the hills! We’re just lucky they’re on our side… Defenders wolf advocates Suzanne Stone, Erin Edge and Kylie Paul have been touring the Yellowstone region this week, visiting project sites and learning more about opportunities for people and wildlife to share the landscape. All three will be busy this summer working with ranchers and other partners to promote and implement nonlethal deterrents that make it easier for wolves and livestock to coexist. Next week, we’ll get the full scoop on their travels!

Setting a bad example – Gallatin County is a gateway to Yellowstone National Park with gorgeous scenery and unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation. It’s known for being a hub of environmental activism and wildlife conservation, thanks to all the people working to protect its natural beauty. So we were quite disheartened to see Gallatin commissioners succumbing to anti-wolf rhetoric that has led other counties to post bounties for killing wolves. Gallatin should set an example for the rest of the state, much as Blaine County and Teton County have done in Idaho and Wyoming, by demonstrating ways for people and wildlife to coexist rather than caving to anti-wolf extremism. We’ll be organizing wolf supporters in the area for the county’s May 30 meeting to discourage unnecessary anti-predator policies and improve tolerance for wolves.
Keeping a watchful eye over sheep is vital to deterring wolves.

What not to do with livestock – When you live in wolf country, leaving pregnant ewes and newborn lambs unguarded and spread out in small groups is a recipe for disaster, especially for hungry wolves. As our wolf expert Suzanne Stone told the Idaho Mountain Express, “It’s almost like setting the picnic table, ringing the dinner bell and shooting the guests…It’s not a question of will they have [predation], it’s a question of how much they will lose.” Even though rancher John Peavey has been using fladry, our experts will be helping to implement better nonlethal deterrents on his property this summer as part of the expanded Wood River Wolf Project. That should keep his livestock safe and prevent Wildlife Services from being called in yet again to needlessly kill more native wildlife.

Cool it, Montana! – As I mentioned last week, Montana has given tentative approval to more liberal hunting regulations for next year. See what author and wolf advocate George Wuerthner had to say about the meeting of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission where the proposed regulations were discussed. His scathing column for The Wildlife News compares the treatment of wolves to the classic Harper Lee story, To Kill a Mockingbird, in which ignorance and irrational fears win the day instead of facts. Wuerthner sums it up like this:
“In the novel to Kill a Mockingbird, the indiscriminate killing of mockingbirds represented the unnecessary and thoughtless destruction of animals and humans based on old biases. The sad truth is that in Montana we are still killing symbolic mockingbirds by our archaic and irrational attitudes towards predators like the wolf.”
If you live in Montana, don’t miss your chance to get your questions answered about the proposed regulations during several public meetings next week (details here). Written comments can also be submitted here until June 25.

Happy Endangered Species Day!
Posted: 18 May 2012
In case it somehow slipped off your calendar…today is Endangered Species Day! Last year we celebrated by launching a blog series called “Can’t Live Without ‘Em” to highlight critters small and large that contribute to keeping our planet healthy. This year, we’d like to take a quick trip down memory lane to look at five incredible victories that YOU–our members and supporters–helped us achieve over the last year to protect America’s endangered species.

1. Defeat of Extinction Rider
Last summer, anti-environmentalists in Congress made a sneak attack on more than 260  imperiled plants and animals. A provision was initially included in the FY2012 House Interior Appropriations Bill that would have prevented species awaiting listing from being protected under the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, the so-called “Extinction Rider” was eventually stripped from the bill thanks to an amendment led by environmental stalwart Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) along with cosponsors Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii). The Dicks amendment received solid bipartisan support, demonstrating that Americans from both political parties continue to support strong protections for all our nation’s endangered species.

2. A wolf in California?!?

Speaking of California…if you had told us last year that a wolf would soon be living in California, we would have thought you were crazy. But reality is often stranger than fiction. OR-7, the now infamous lone male wolf from Oregon, began his long journey away from home last fall and before the end of year had made it into California. It’s been more than 80 years since wolves were eradicated in California, so the return of OR-7 is a testament to the successful restoration of wolves over the last two decades made possible by the Endangered Species Act.

3. More Mexican wolves

Mexican Gray Wolf
The struggling Mexican wolf population in the Southwest increased for the second year in a row, taking recovery another step in the right direction. Mexican gray wolves are some of the most endangered animals on the planet with only 58 surviving in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. But that’s an improvement from just 50 wolves the year before and only 42 at the end of 2009. With a science-based recovery plan in the works and ever-increasing tolerance from local community members, we’re hoping the population is finally on a path toward long-term sustainability.