Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Teaming with tribe to protect cattle – Working directly with a north-central Idaho cattle producer, Defenders coexistence expert Russ Talmo and Nez Perce Tribal Wildlife Biologist Jim Holyan helped erect turbo-fladry and motion cameras around a cow camp on a mix of leased state and private lands. This producer sought assistance with nonlethal options to deter members of the Chesimia Pack from coming in contact with resident cattle dogs and to prevent wolves from becoming habituated to this human-inhabited area. Fladry is an effective tool for preventing conflicts with wolves, particularly when used in conjunction with other deterrents like air horns, spot lights, blinking lights and human presence. Kudos to the producer for being proactive in preventing conflicts and seeking ways to coexist with area wildlife.

Cow Camp
Setting up fladry at a "cow camp"
Powerful voices defend wolves – This week we saw diverse allies speaking up for gray wolves from many different walks of life. First, our very own Suzanne Stone was featured on Boise State Public Radio. She recorded an interview for Idaho’s StoryCorps, including her first-hand account of reintroducing the first gray wolves in the state back in 1995. Though the release went smoothly in the end, there were moments when Suzanne and other team members thought she might be dodging bullets! Listen to her story here:

The North Face Founder Doug Tompkins and Black Diamond Equipment CEO Peter Metcalf also teamed up to write an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune opposing wolf delisting. As respected leaders in the business community and avid outdoorsman, they know that wildlife tourism can help strengthen local economies: “Seeing wolves often entails filling up the gas tank, grabbing breakfast at the diner, booking a room, and hiring a guide. Wolves are big business in this part of the country.” But they also recognize that there’s much more at stake than tourism dollars: “Wolf restoration epitomizes our country’s true commitment to restoring the nation’s wildlife patrimony. And we have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the wild American landscapes from which we so effectively exterminated wolves.”

Carl Cannon at RealClearPolitics took another approach by looking at the history of wolf hatred that led the federal government to intentionally exterminate the species in the early 20th century. He blames Old World ideology and mythology, as well as a desire to clear the land for hunters and ranchers:
“To the great detriment of wolves, Europeans brought their superstitions across the ocean with them. They persist to this day. Notwithstanding the idyllic image of the creatures in “Dances With Wolves,” Hollywood contributes to the ancient mythology. In “The Bourne Legacy,” a malevolent pack tracks the protagonist for many miles. “You should have left me alone,” the man says before ensuring the alpha wolf is killed by a missile fired from a drone. In “Centurion,” a low-budget action movie, two wolves actually stalked two armed men—a scenario for which there is no precedent.
But killing wolves in the New World was never about protecting humans; it was about protecting domesticated animals. Wolves didn’t tend to discriminate between livestock and wildlife, and when the American frontier (originally all land west of the Allegany Mountains) was opened to farming and ranching, humans removed wolves from the land with no more emotion than when clearing trees.”
Finally, Chris Woolston with Nature News called on several wolf experts to assess whether gray wolves have been fully recovered in the lower 48. John Vucetich, a wolf biologist at Michigan Technological University, said delisting wolves could prevent them from expanding into more areas with suitable, unoccupied habitat. While Robert Wayne, a wolf geneticist at UCLA, said wolves need large populations and a broad range to maintain genetic diversity. He noted that some 380,000 wolves once ranged across the western United States and Mexico.

These experts lend credibility to what we’ve been saying all along – that it’s too soon to delist! But there’s still time for you to weigh in as well. Visit www.defenders.org/DelistingDisaster to learn more about the upcoming public hearings and how to submit formal written comments.

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