© Didier J. Lindsey

A temporary success story for gray wolf advocacy, but a deadly loss for red wolves…

You heard our cry! – We’ve asked you to join our advocacy effort protesting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to strip federal protections from most gray wolves in the lower 48 states and you came through with flying colors! Hundreds of supporters showed up at this week’s wolf hearings in Denver and Albuquerque, proving one thing: one of Defenders’ greatest assets is the conviction and dedication of its members.

Here’s the breakdown:

Wolf supports show up for the Denver Hearing outside of  Paramount Theater.
Supporters line the streets in advance of the public wolf hearing in Denver this week.

On Wednesday, in Denver, nearly 100 people joined Defenders’ pre-hearing event to prepare testimonials.  The energy of the night was fueled by a series of motivating speeches delivered by supporters and wolf experts alike as supporters lined the city block around Paramount Theatre in advance of admittance to the hearing.  In total, there were close to 400 people in attendance. This just goes to show a passionate base of support for the gray wolf and underscores the dedication and commitment of the folks at the event – many of whom are Defenders’ supporters.

For almost 3 hours, the USFWS heard from predator-friendly ranchers, ethical hunters, children, grandparents, teachers, biologists, and Coloradans who ardently spoke about the value of having wolves in the wild. Children as young as 7 years old told the Service that they were the “voice of their generation” and talked about the intrinsic importance of predators on the landscape.

Even if you were not there in person, your voice was heard. Jonathan Proctor, Defenders’  director of the Rockies and Plains Program gave a great testimony on behalf of the 4,500 Coloradans who signed Defenders’ letter of protest. Only one person (a representative from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) spoke in support of the delisting. In a word: we rocked!

The fun continued on Thursday, in Albuquerque, where we had a similarly great turnout at our pre-hearing prep event, with 110 supporters signing in and walking to the hearing together. In total, 500 folks attended the event, 69 of whom testified — 48 in favor of continued federal protection and 21 opposed.  The Koch brothers-funded, Tea Party-esque group Americans For Prosperity, was present at the event and attempted to use government protection of wolves as a tactic to support their larger anti-government agenda. For example, they also asked attendees to sign a statement saying “Exempt Me” from Obamacare.  David Speady with AFP stated “big carnivores simply can’t live in populated areas, and the lower 48 are settled. There’s a reason we don’t have grizzlies in CA–they can’t coexist. Same for wolves.”  As always, their testimony was grossly inaccurate and displayed a deep lack of understanding about how the natural world works.

There are two more hearings set to take place Friday, November 22 in Sacramento, and Tuesday, December, 3 in Pinetop, Az. We’ll provide you the highlights in the coming weeks, but all in all, if this week has proved anything, it has shown that Defenders’ strength lies in the hearts and minds of the passionate individuals and members who represent this organization across our country. Thank you for your continued and unwavering support as we continue to fight for the gray wolf.

red wolf
A rare red wolf at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina.

Nearly 10 percent of the wild red wolf population killed since January 1, 2013 — While we can savor temporary success with our gray wolf advocacy, we did get some bad news about the plight of red wolves in the east. On Monday, November 18, North Carolina authorities found a red wolf dead in Washington County, N.C., killed by a gunshot wound. In addition, this week officials also found a broken collar of another red wolf, but have been unable to locate the wolf’s body; they suspect the animal was killed and the collar cut off the body. The wolf’s body found on November 18th is the fifth wolf killed in the last month and a total of eight red wolves have been shot in North Carolina since January 1, 2013. That’s approaching 10 percent of the 90-100 estimated wild red wolf population.

The likely reason for this surge in deaths is North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s newly adopted hunting rule which allows hunting of coyotes by day and at night with spotlights in wolf territory. Since coyotes and red wolves are very similar in appearance and stature, this rule puts red wolves at risk of being shot accidentally. In 2012, Defenders and several other groups  filed a court challenge against the NC Wildlife Resource Commission requesting a suspension to this rule. While the rule was temporarily suspended in 2012, it went into full effect this summer, and we are seeing the deadly effects.  We continue to work the legal angles on this issue, and we need your help.

Click here to support our work and help us end these senseless killings.