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.

Wolf of the Day


A U.S. Plan to Sacrifice Wolves for Lumber

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 28, 2014
A proposed USFS logging auction threatens this wolf subspecies (Photo: Hyde?)
A proposed USFS logging auction threatens this wolf subspecies (Photo: Hyde?)

Today’s New York Times reports on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plan to cut most of the remaining virgin forest on Prince of Wales Island Island in the Tongass National Forest on the Alaska coast.  Conservationists say the proposed auction, called Big Thorne, threatens a wolf population that’s already in trouble:
In the island’s northern half, nearly 94 percent of the biggest stands of virgin forest have been cut down. Big Thorne will clean up some of what remains; the 9.7 square miles of woodlands marked for cutting are sprinkled over 360 square miles, much of it clear-cut in decades past.

The conservationists’ lawsuit argues that the Forest Service ignored the law and its own rules in choosing tracts of forest for logging in Big Thorne and five other sites. Example 1, they say, is the Alexander Archipelago wolf. [N.B., my link. The NY Times linked to the USFS site for the subspecies.]

The wolf, a smaller, many-colored cousin of the timber wolf, relies on the Sitka black-tailed deer for food. The deer winter in the island’s old-growth forests, where big trees and underbrush provide forage, shelter from snows and cover from the island’s hunters.
Federal rules require the Forest Service “to maintain viable populations” of the wildlife on its lands. For the wolf, that means having enough deer

for itself and deer hunters, too — 18 per square mile, the Forest Service said in 2008. But at the same time, the lawsuit argues, the agency downgraded that 18-deer requirement to a guideline, one the suit claims it disregarded in Big Thorne and elsewhere by proposing to auction off prime deer habitat.

The lawsuit seeks only to enforce the deer habitat requirement on Forest Service lands. But it could tie up at least some auctions in court — and, should conservationists win, even send Big Thorne back to the drawing board.


Column: Still plenty of problems with the wolf hunt

Wyoming's reckless 'shoot on sight' of its wolves is no longer tolerated as the following press release states from one of the organizations that filed the lawsuit.

WASHINGTON— Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated today after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2012 statewide Endangered Species Act delisting of the species. The ruling from the U.S. District Court halts the management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies.

This is good news for wolves.

It is about time states are held accountable for their cruel treatments of wolves, a recently endangered species. Delisting wolves federally put them in the hands of states that haven't learned from past mistakes. This surely is the beginning of the end for wolf hating state agencies in charge of wolf management.

Wisconsin's DNR is in the same category as Wyoming's by demonstrating the same, 'hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies.' This is all because DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp's handpicked Wolf Advisory Committee (WAC) is stacked with wolf haters.

Several scientists wrote a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services cautioning that vital information is missing from DNR wolf slaughter statistics.

Stepp booted several important scientists from her WAC that could have prevented vital information from being left out of DNR wolf slaughter Statistics in the first place.

Oh, but wait there's more.

Now Stepp wants the DNR to find out if dogs are really killing wolves in the woods. So listen to this, Stepp's solution is (to paraphrase) to ask wolf hunters to let federal wildlife officials watch them skin their wolf.

This latest blow for the health of Wisconsin wolf population makes it apparent Stepp's leadership skills are below standards, to the point of a complete loss of ethics. The Oxford dictionary defines 'ethics' as 'A branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.'

The western schools of ethics break it down into three concepts or codes. The first being virtues such as justice for one. Then the second is duty such as morality. Thirdly that the principle of conduct for the benefit of the greatest number.

We now have a DNR administration completely unable to monitor or enforce if dogs are killing wolves. It is illegal for hunting dogs to engage and kill wildlife. Remember that US Fish and Wildlife Services are supposedly monitoring how well DNR can manage its wolves. After all, wolves were extinct or extirpated from our woods a few short decades ago and certainly could happen again if not managed wisely.

Stepp's WAC committee is run by citizen pro-wolf hunters that lack a moral compass. It is important to know that these fringe hunters are crafting this wolf hunt to suit their own agendas. Asking the wolf hunters to voluntarily submit to an inspection is outrageous and almost comical. Do you really think any hunter whose dogs just killed a wolf will volunteer for this sham?

This can be compared to asking a serial killer to volunteer to present his human kill to a medical examiner. Where is the professional conduct in this? Where is the justice for the illegally killed wolf/wolves?

The public perception is that dogs are killing wolves and that's illegal. And rules to monitor this controversial method of hunting should have been in place for the first wolf hunt. We are now approaching the third wolf hunt season.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Stepp must resign for dereliction of duty, because she willfully refuses to carry out her duties as DNR Secretary.

Citizens want wolves in Wisconsin and do not approve of the use of dogs in the wolf hunt. Public input must be respected.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wolf of the Day

Red wolf (Canis rufus) 

Wolf impact on elk keeps heat on wildlife managers

Since wolves were reintroduced to Idaho in the mid-1990s, the predators have been in direct competition with hunters for Idaho’s elk. (Associated Press)
Idaho elk hunters have had to adapt to a “new normal” that looks a lot different from boom years of the 1990s, when the harvests topped 25,000 three times, in 1991, ’94 and ’96. Those were record harvests dating back to 1935. 

Not coincidentally, the number of Idaho elk hunters also peaked in 1995 at 101,500 hunters.
Those peak seasons roughly coincided with the reintroduction of wolves in 1995-96, and the two species have been intertwined ever since. 

Idaho’s golden years of elk hunting were from 1988 to 1996, when elk harvests never dipped below 20,000 animals. Since then, they’ve topped 20,000 just twice — in 2005 and 2006. 

Many hunters have blamed wolves for the crash in elk populations in some areas. Surely they were a factor, but the predators can’t take all the blame.

In 1996, the last year the elk harvest topped 25,000, Idaho had about 42 wolves, according to Fish and Game statistics. 

By 1999, the elk harvest dropped to 17,500, a 30 percent decrease. And Idaho’s wolf population that year? About 156 wolves, according to Fish and Game statistics.

It’s a stretch to correlate a 30 percent reduction in elk harvest to a statewide increasae of 114 wolves over three years.

But since then, wolf populations exploded and elk harvests, along with hunter numbers, trended downward.

Elk hunting seems to have bottomed out in 2011, when hunters had the smallest elk harvest in 30 years, and there’s been a modest rebound.

But like all things involved with managing and hunting elk, it’s complicated, and the data often become more a point of argument than enlightenment.

For example, elk hunter success rates improved from 2009-12 while the statewide harvest declined.
Fewer hunters took fewer elk, but on a percentage basis, more hunters were successful.

By contrast, the statewide elk harvest bottomed out in 2011 at 15,155 and increased to 16,418 in 2012, then held steady in 2013 at 16,437.

But Fish and Game sold 5,500 more elk tags in 2013. So while the harvest held steady, the success rate dropped, but was still a respectable 21 percent overall.

Why did hunters buy 5,500 more elk tags? Fish and Game’s state wildlife manager Jon Rachael credits the bump to hunters seeing more elk.

This year’s harvest may continue that, and there may be a modest increase in the harvest, which, however slight, would still be three straight years of increased elk harvest.

Out of Idaho’s 29 elk zones, Fish and Game reports 20 are meeting or exceeding the department’s population objectives for cows and bulls. Eight are under objectives, and one zone splits with some areas under and some areas meeting objectives. 

Fish and Game said game managers are seeing improved calf numbers in some zones that have recently been depressed, such as the Sawtooth Zone.

Hunters have reacted by buying up the quota of tags for that zone. “That’s very encouraging,” Rachael said.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wolf depredation strategy clicking

The number of livestock killed by wolves has declined more than 70 percent since the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regained authority to lethally target livestock-killing wolf packs in January 2012.

According to DNR records, the number of "agricultural depredation" cases fell to 15 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 this year, resulting in 18 dead cattle, calves, sheep, goats or other four-legged livestock. In contrast, during those same months in 2011 — when the DNR couldn't kill problem wolves — the agency recorded 48 farm-depredation cases and 68 dead animals.

The DNR also recorded 48 depredation cases the first eight months of 2012, but the number of kills dropped to 50. During the same months in 2013, the DNR reported 36 cases and 44 deaths. Meanwhile, the number of bear-hunting hounds killed by wolves this year surpassed 20 for the second straight year when a female Walker killed Sept. 14 in Bayfield County boosted the toll to 21. Hunters reported 23 wolf-killed hounds in 2013.

Why are livestock losses declining while hound losses are climbing or static? With the numbers going in opposite directions, it's impossible to attribute either trend to the state's hunting/trapping season on wolves.

The most likely answer is that the DNR is actively removing "livestock-killing behavior" from the landscape whenever possible. Landowners also can kill wolves to protect livestock. Livestock depredation is considered a learned behavior, so removing "educated" wolves prevents them from teaching other wolves to do it.

In contrast, the DNR simply issues warnings and pinpoints kill locations whenever wolves slay bear hounds. Most wolf-killed hounds die during July and August while training for bear season. Few die during bear season itself in September and October, as wolves become less aggressive.
Further, no hounds were killed in December 2013 during the state's first hound-hunting season for wolves, which bagged 35 wolves.

Since 1985 in Wisconsin, wolves have killed or injured more than 300 hounds and pet dogs, of which 70 percent were hounds. Of those, about 75 percent died before mid-September's bear-hunt opener. Further, about 90 percent of pet dogs are killed before bear season. In all, about 80 percent of wolf-killed dogs fall before hunting season.

Maulings by wolves follow similar patterns. In 2010 and 2011, for example, five of eight injured hounds (62.5 percent) and eight of 10 pet dogs (80 percent) were mauled before mid-September. In all, 13 of the 18 (72 percent) maulings occurred before hunting season.

The past two years of 20-plus reported bear-hound deaths followed a low of seven wolf-killed hounds in 2012, even though the wolf population hit a modern-day high of about 850 that year. The 2014 post-winter wolf population was estimated at about 675 after the state's first two hunting/trapping seasons for wolves.

No one can say with certainty why the number of reported hound deaths dropped in 2012 after several years in the high teens and low 20s, but a contributing factor was likely near-record heat and drought-like conditions in the Northwoods. It's likely that fewer hunters risked running their hounds in such conditions.

Others speculate that fewer hunters reported wolf-killed hounds that summer because the DNR was embroiled in an emotional administrative battle and legal challenge to the first regulated wolf season. Houndsmen possibly kept quiet about their losses for fear of drawing the attention of those suing to prevent hounds from being used to hunt wolves.

After all, when wolves kill hounds that are hunting bears or being trained for bear hunting, their owners are eligible for compensation up to $2,500 per hound.

Only bear-hound hunters are begrudged such payments, even though bird hunters, rabbit hunters, pet owners, ranchers, farmers and others also are entitled to compensation for animals lost to wolves.
Speaking of our controversial wolf- and wildlife-compensation programs, contrary to popular belief, taxpayers do not fund them. When lawmakers created the wolf season in 2012, they directed that wolf-depredation compensation come from funds paid for wolf-hunt applications ($10 each), and resident and nonresident wolf hunting/trapping licenses ($49 and $251).

The $10 wolf-hunt applications provide the most funding. Roughly 21,000 people applied in 2012 ($210,000), but applications declined to about 16,000 in 2013 ($160,000) and 14,500 this year ($145,000).

Compensation revenues totaled $268,920 in 2013, more than covering the $151,333 dispersed in wolf-depredation payments. Of that amount, the DNR paid bear-hound owners $56,000 for 23 dead dogs ($2,435 average); and livestock owners $87,180 for 105 dead or missing calves, cattle and veterinary bills ($830 average).

Compensation won't be paid if dogs die during the hound-trailing season for wolves, which opens Dec. 1 if the quota isn't reached.

Although it's too soon to credit Wisconsin's hunting and trapping season for any changes in wolf behavior, the numbers suggest we're learning something: Removing depredating wolves while controlling their population in farm country might keep wolves from becoming overly troublesome neighbors for most people.


Wolf of the Day

Black Wolf 57 
Black wolf

Wolf Weekly Wrap Up by #Defenders of Wildlife

Wolf, © Michael S. Quinton, National Geographic Stock

Victory for Wyoming’s Wolves: This week we won a major victory in Wyoming when a federal judge reinstated Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the state! It’s wonderful news and will be the difference between life and death for countless gray wolves in Wyoming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) delisted gray wolves in Wyoming in 2012. We have been working on this issue in the courts since 2012 claiming that the delisting violated the terms of the ESA. And this week we won! But much work remains. We expect Wyoming, the Service and perhaps even Congress to work to overturn this victory. But this week’s court ruling makes it clear that the Service violated federal law in carelessly approving Wyoming’s flawed wolf management plan. Stay tuned.

Mexican gray wolf and pup, © Joel Sartore
Thank You For Standing Up For Mexican Gray Wolves! We asked and you answered! 50,563 Defenders members submitted comments to the Service in response to its proposed plan to change the way Mexican gray wolves are managed. Although the Service’s proposal does some good by creating new release sites and giving the wolves more room to roam, it ultimately would make recovery impossible by allowing more wolves to be killed and keeping them out of the habitats they need to recover. The comment period closed this Tuesday, but the huge number of submitted comments on this proposal proves one thing: one of Defenders’ greatest assets is the conviction and dedication of its members. Thank you for your tireless work and support in protecting America’s wildlife!

Leonardo DiCaprio to Produce True Animal Rights Tale American Wolf

Source: The Hollywood Reporter
September 26, 2014

Following his turn as Jordan Belfort in last year's The Wolf of Wall Street, star Leonardo DiCaprio is taking on another true "Wolf" tale, albeit one with a literally lupine protagonist. The Hollywood Reporter brings word today that DiCaprio is set to produce American Wolf, based on the upcoming book by Nate Blakeslee.

American Wolf, which just sold to Crown publishing, tells the true story of 06 (Oh-Six), a female alpha gray wolf who, after being studied and tracked for years, was killed in 2012 just outside Yellowstone National Park, one year after the species was removed from the endangered list.

DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran will produce through Appian Way alongside Kevin McCormick of Langley Park. There's no word yet on whether or not DiCaprio has any interest in starring in this one, but check back for updates as they become available.

(Photo Credit: Adriana M. Barraza / WENN.com)


Michigan! - Vote No on Proposals 1 and 2

By Jill Fritz
Director, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected 
This November, Michigan voters will find two referendum proposals that, if passed, would strip voting rights and declare a trophy hunting season on wolves. But, we’re confident that when Michiganders review the facts carefully, they’ll say no to the trophy hunting of wolves and no to this power grab by politicians to take away their voting rights.

Proposal 1 would designate gray wolves as a game species, and allow a trophy hunting and trapping season on them. There are fewer than 650 wolves in Michigan and they’ve just come off the endangered species list. After being shot, trapped and poisoned nearly to the brink of extinction, the wolf has been protected in Michigan for almost 50 years. But they’re still recovering. Since their protected status was removed in 2012, more than 1,000 wolves have already been killed in aggressive hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes states.

Responsible hunters eat what they kill, and nobody eats wolves. The use of painful steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves all may be in store for Michigan’s wolves if Proposal 1 is approved. Let’s not let that happen.

Politicians and state officials exaggerated and even fabricated stories about wolf encounters with people in Michigan to justify opening a wolf hunting and trapping season. Nearly two-thirds of all wolf incidents in the U.P. occurred on a single farm, where the farmer baited wolves with cattle and deer carcasses. And genuine threats to human safety by wolves are extremely rare—wolves are naturally fearful of humans and stories of them stalking U.P. residents have independently been exposed as false—and in fact, no physical attack has ever occurred in Michigan.

The fact is wolves are already effectively managed in Michigan. It’s already legal to kill wolves when they threaten livestock, pets or human safety. Non-lethal measures, including guard donkeys, dogs and fencing, have also been effective. All told, even before Michigan’s first wolf hunt began last fall, wolf/livestock conflicts in the U.P. had already reduced by more than 80 percent. Simply put, there is no scientific justification to hunt wolves to address conflicts. A hunt would be driven by a desire for a trophy, or out of fear or hatred, and there is nothing scientific about that.

Proposal 2 would grant the Natural Resources Commission the power to designate wolves and other animals as game species to be hunted, without legislative approval. The members of the Natural Resources Commission are not scientists or experts – they are political appointees, unaccountable to the public. In a contemptuous move to circumvent a public vote, the Legislature passed this law, giving the unelected NRC unprecedented power to open new hunting and trapping seasons on wolves and almost any other protected species. If Proposal 2 is approved, the NRC can make decisions without any input from citizens. Voters would be left out in the cold because there is no referendum process when it comes to the NRC’s decisions.

A group calling itself “Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management,” backed by trophy hunting, hounding and trapping lobby groups and businesses, submitted an initiative that was rubber-stampeded by the Legislature to circumvent the public’s right to vote. This law is unconstitutional and we plan to pursue legal action to strike it down, ensuring that wolves remain protected and that voters keep their constitutional right to vote. Michigan lawmakers have voted for wolf hunting three times in the last two years, and Michigan residents have twice stopped these laws by placing the referendums on the ballot. Now, voters can demonstrate the importance of maintaining constitutionally mandated checks and balances on critical wildlife management matters at the ballot box by voting NO on Proposals 1 and 2.

Wolves are safe from a hunt this year, but it is imperative that Michigan residents reject the two referendums on the November ballot with a NO vote. Between now and November 4, there will be a lot of rhetoric and fear tactics designed to confuse voters. We trust that the people of Michigan will sift through it all, learn the facts and reject Proposals 1 and 2.

The voters of Michigan—not politicians and bureaucrats—should have their voices heard on whether our state’s fragile wolf population of 650 is needlessly hunted. The wildlife of our state belongs to all of us. Facts not fear, anger and hatred should dictate proper wolf management. Our immediate task is to win the ballot measures for November, to save the lives of wolves in Michigan and restore rights of voters to weigh in meaningfully on important wildlife decisions. Vote NO on Proposals 1 and 2.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Wolves of the Day

Wolf Laser Lock 
Ready or Not, Here I Come
Wolf At Attention


Government will decide if Southeast Alaska wolves should be labeled 'endangered'

Feds agree to decision deadline for protection status of southeast Alaska wolves

POSTED: Sep 24, 2014 
Marieke IJsendoorn-Kuijpers / CREATIVE COMMONS
The federal government has agreed to a late 2015 decision on whether a rare species of southeast Alaska wolves warrants protections as threatened or endangered species.
KFSK reports the federal government filed a settlement agreement Monday, saying it will complete a 12-month finding on the Alexander Archipelago wolf by the end of next year.
The filing stems from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and two other conservation groups earlier this year to force a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether the rare wolf should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The Alexander Archipelago wolves are a subspecies of gray wolves that live in old-growth forest of southeast Alaska.
Plaintiffs have said the government is long overdue on a listing decision.
Information from: KFSK-FM, http://www.alaska.net/~kfsk/

Missoula man "explains" hitting wolves with van; still under investigation


MISSOULA -- Toby Bridges, the Missoula man who ran over two wolves and posted pictures on Facebook recently, has come under national scrutiny for his post on the Facebook page for Lobo Watch, an organization he founded in 2008 for wolf-control advocates.

The September 16th posting references an incident on August 14th, when Bridges hit two wolves while driving on Interstate 90 near the Idaho-Montana border, killing one of them. 

Bridges talked with MTN News on Thursday, and explained, "A mature cow elk and a calf ran out onto the interstate. I slowed down and took my foot off the gas."

That's when he spotted four wolves. He wrote in the post that he let off the brake and hit the accelerator, because he was going to "save that calf." 

Bridges told MTN News that he did not actually intend to hit any wolves, but rather hoped to scare them off; he says hitting the wolves was unavoidable. 

He explained, "My goal was to get it up there and to either haze those wolves off those elk, or get in between those wolves and those elk. I had no intention of hitting a wolf. There was no stopping, there was no opportunity to stop, even the greatest NASCAR driver out there in the world couldn't' have prevented running into some of those wolves."

As far as posting the images to Facebook, Bridges said, it was to send a message to pro-wolf advocates: "They don't have any problems going after us all the time. I did it, I'll be honest with you...I did it just to aggravate them. I wanted them to do something. I wanted them to step across the line, and they did. So I got what I wanted."

He also posted to the Lobo Watch Facebook page: "My original post on this incident on this Facebook page has accomplished exactly what I had hoped...it's built a new fire beneath the wolf control cauldron."

In a press release sent out on Thursday morning, Bridges states: "Like the vast majority of highway collisions with wildlife, it was purely an accident - with the animals running right out onto the roadway in front of the vehicle."

Bridges also notes in the press release that he spent "about 30 minutes" with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2 game wardens last week; FWP is still investigating the incident.


New Paper for Download: Spatial Heterogeneity in Human Activities Favors the Persistence of Wolves in Agroecosystems


  • Mohsen Ahmadi,
  • José Vicente López-Bao,
  • Mohammad Kaboli mail
Published: September 24, 2014
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108080 

Download complete PDF at this LINK

Public input sought for wolves on Flathead Reservation

Sep 25, 2014 by Brin Merkley - KAJ News
PABLO - A Tribal Wildlife Management Program is seeking public comment on Wolf Management on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The program is starting a process to update the Tribes' Northern Gray Wolf Management Plan for the area, which was approved by the Tribal Council in 2011.

While tribal officials say the plan has worked well in addressing wolf attacks upon domestic livestock, there are still some needs for modification to adapt the plan to an increasing wolf population on the Reservation and adjacent areas.

The Tribal Wildlife Management Program is now seeking input from the public in an attempt to thoroughly address relevant wolf management issues.

Comments and suggestions are asked to be provided by Oct. 30. More information on the plan can be found here, or by calling the Tribal Wildlife Management Program at wildlife@cskt.org.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wyoming governor asks court to reverse wolf ruling

Associated Press
The federal judge's order was the latest setback for Wyoming, which has been stymied over the years in attempts to gain control of its wolf population.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Responding to a stinging legal setback, the governor of Wyoming on Wednesday asked a federal judge to reverse an order ending state management of wolves and returning them to protections under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington on Tuesday sided with conservation groups and entered an order agreeing that Wyoming’s wolf management plan was inadequate.
Jackson’s order immediately returned wolf management in Wyoming to federal control. The order was the latest setback for Wyoming, which has been stymied over the years in attempts to gain control of its wolf population.

Many sportsmen and ranchers in the state say wolves are a threat to livestock and wildlife.
Wyoming took over wolf management from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 under a state management plan that designated wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in most areas. The state classified wolves as trophy animals in a zone bordering Yellowstone National Park and has allowed licensed hunters to kill scores of them in the past two hunting seasons.

Although Wyoming had pledged to maintain at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation, Berman noted that promise wasn’t legally binding.

“The court concludes that it was arbitrary and capricious for the service to rely on the state’s nonbinding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves when the availability of that specific numerical buffer was such a critical aspect of the delisting decision,” Jackson wrote.

Earlier this year, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead released a survey prepared by the state Game and Fish Department that said there were at least 306 wolves in at least 43 packs — including more than 23 breeding pairs — in the state at the end of 2013.

Mead on Wednesday started the process of making the state’s minimum wolf population pledge legally enforceable. He signed and filed an emergency rule to that effect which could last up to 240 days.

Mead’s office announced that the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission initiated a formal rulemaking process to make the emergency rule permanent. “Now that Wyoming has resolved the court’s concern, I hope the court will amend its ruling and allow Wyoming’s continued management of gray wolves,” Mead said in a prepared release.

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office filed a request with Jackson asking her to change the order. The request states that reaction among the groups that sued against Wyoming’s management plan was mixed. It states that Defenders of Wildlife opposed it while the Humane Society of the United States needed to see the content of the emergency rule before it could respond.

Attempts to reach a lawyer for Defenders of Wildlife after business hours on Wednesday weren’t successful.

Several groups including Safari Club International and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation entered the lawsuit to support Wyoming’s original wolf management plan. They likewise support the state’s move to make its minimum population promise legally enforceable.

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


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wild Animals Belong In Our Hearts and Minds: A concept that our government wildlife agencies need to learn


From the blog: The Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

By Rachel Tilseth

Lack of ethical science in our government wildlife agencies is prevalent today more than ever. Or is it? Is there science in wildlife management but is this science lacking empathy for the creatures it manages? Let’s look at the leading expert of chimpanzee behavior, Dr. Jane Goodall, who refused to call her subjects by a number. Dr. Goodall gave every single chimpanzee she observed a name and refused to call them “it.” Please take a minute and view the video on this topic called, “Being With Jane Goodall” http://youtu.be/0Qu7Wn1mRYA

Our government agencies that are in charge of wildlife lack empathy. This is true because how else can they justify the millions of wild animals they “removed” or “harvested” in the name of management. Government wildlife technicians have some sort of wildlife degree that quality them to do the work. But are they expected to act with a lack of empathy in order to manage these wild animals? They view these wild animals as “non-beings” and refer to them as “it’s” for the purpose of management.

It’s a cold reality and never more apparent than in today’s conservation ethic. This is obvious with our WDNR allowing wolves to be chased down by large packs of free ranging dogs with out any rules, regulations and little or non existent enforcement.

Wolves, a once endangered species is now an “it” harvested as a game animal without any thought of them belonging to a family. Where did this coldness towards wild animals start? This has been the the norm for far too many decades and or centuries.

Here is one widely accepted definition of conservation: “Wildlife conservation is an activity in which people make conscious efforts to protect earth’s biological diversity.” http://definitions.uslegal.com/w/wildlife-conservation/. Does managing for biodiversity mean that human beings have the right to manage non-beings as things to “harvest?”

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold, “A Sand County Almanac.”

There you have it called “land ethic” and its a community we all care about and live in. Wild animals are “beings” that live within communities just as human beings do. Using the word “harvest” psychologically removes the emotional responsibility of taking the life of a living breathing being.
Ethical Hunting has been used as a method to feed our families for centuries but that has changed. Hunting in today’s world has become recreational for fun and entertainment. Something to do out of doors in nature to recreate. This is all managed by our government agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Managements Division that have become: hardened towards the life of the creatures they are suppose to be conserving.

Our government agencies go through the motions of acquiring scienctic knowledge but they lack the emotional integrity to fully apply the science. And this becomes “the heartless” anti-wildlife management we see today.


The photo of the postcard is from Dr. Jane Goodall and was sent to me in 1998 in response to a letter I Sent her about Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel

Settlement promises Southeast Alaska wolf decision by end of 2015

Yereth Rosen

Conservationists and environmental groups have long sought Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves of the Alexander Archipelago, such as this animal, photographed in Prince of Wales Island. A recent settlement calls for a decision on listing by the end of 2015. U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a decision by the end of next year on whether to give Endangered Species Act protections to wolves dwelling in the coastal rainforest of Southeast Alaska under a legal settlement filed in federal court on Monday.

The settlement would resolve a lawsuit filed in June by conservation groups seeking Endangered Species Act listing for the Alexander Archipelago wolf, an animal the environmentalists say is losing habitat to logging and the construction of logging roads in Tongass National Forest.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and an eco-tour company doing business in Southeast Alaska, The Boat Company. The groups filed a petition in August 2011 and followed it with their lawsuit after FWS missed a 12-month deadline for a decision.

In March, FWS issued a 90-day finding, a preliminary action determining that further review was justified to see if protection was warranted.

That finding is evidence that federal regulators are taking a new look at the wolves and their habitat, said FWS spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros. The service is evaluating effects of logging practices on the wolves and their prey, she said.

However, FWS action on the listing question has missed Endangered Species Act deadlines, said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

“They were already two years late, so that’s why we filed the lawsuit, because we were afraid that this would go on indefinitely,” Noblin said.

The Alexander Archipelago wolves, genetically and geographically distinct from other gray wolves, depend on the old-growth forest habitat found on Southeast Alaska’s coastline and islands. Their primary food sources -- deer and salmon – are also concentrated in the old-growth habitat, according to government biologists.

Environmentalists claim logging and logging roads fragment the habitat, and that logging roads give access to illegal hunters targeting deer and wolves.

The fight over Tongass wolves goes back at least two decades.

The first petition for listing was submitted in 1993. FWS determined in 1995 that no Endangered Species Act protections were warranted, citing wolf protections that it expected to result from an updated Tongass management plan issued by the U.S. Forest Service. After a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups resulted in a court order for a new review, the service again rejected listing in 1997.

But the protections that were supposed to have been in the Tongass management plan “never came to pass,” Noblin said. “The forest plan continued to give wolves the short end of the stick.”

A new looming threat to the wolves, Noblin said, is the pending Big Thorne timber sale given final approval by the U.S. Forest Service last month, a year after the agency issued its record of decision in favor of the sale. The multiyear sale targets “a very critical area for wolves” on Prince of Wales Island where wolf numbers are already declining, she said.

Environmentalists have already sued to overturn the Forest Service’s decision to hold the Big Thorne sales. One lawsuit, led by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, was filed Aug. 22; a second, filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and The Boat Company, was filed Aug. 26.

Gov. Sean Parnell announced last week that the state is seeking to intervene to defend the sales.
“Any delay to the Big Thorne project not only prevents the timber industry from contributing to a diverse and robust economy, but also reduces vital funding for schools and roads in our rural areas,” Parnell said in a statement then. “It is important that we take an active role in the litigation and represent the interests of Alaska’s families and communities.”


More Than 71,500 People Speak Out for Endangered Mexican Gray #Wolves

For Immediate Release, September 23, 2014

Contact:  Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017
Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter, (602) 999-5790
Drew Kerr, WildEarth Guardians, (312) 375-6104
Emily Renn, Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, (928) 202-1325
Kevin Bixby, Southwest Environmental Center, (575) 522-5552

More Than 71,500 People Speak Out for Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves 

New Rules Expand Area Mexican Wolves Can Roam, But Also Allow Increased Wolf Killing
TUCSON, Ariz.— More than 71,500 people submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of stronger protections for Mexican gray wolves during the comment period ending today. In July the agency proposed a new rule updating management of the wolves that would, for the first time, allow releases of captive-bred animals into New Mexico and allow wolves much more room to roam than they’re currently allowed. Scientists and citizens have long urged adoption of these measures.

The science-supported provisions in the proposed rule, however, would be undermined by provisions arbitrarily limiting wolves to south of Interstate 40 in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as language increasing the circumstances in which wolves could be trapped or shot despite scientists’ recommendations that the Service must decrease excessive human-caused removal and mortality rates.

“We’ve got to let wolves roam, find the best habitat with their own noses and paws — and frankly, we’ve got to stop the slaughter of wolves by both government and private citizens,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The proposed rule falls short of what is needed, and we hope the government will listen to the tens of thousands of citizens requesting they follow the science and let these lobos raise their pups, travel freely and contribute to the balance of nature without persecution.”

“The Endangered Species Act and the hard work of wildlife biologists and individuals and groups throughout the country have given these endangered wolves a lifeline, a second chance,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Now we need the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do its part — to reject these arbitrary borders, to stop the excessive killing of wolves, and to afford them the protections that are necessary for their recovery.”

Comments from conservation groups and thousands of citizens urged the Service to allow Mexican wolves to roam freely in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado; redesignate the small and vulnerable reintroduced population in the Southwest as “essential” under the Endangered Species Act; and spare wolves from trapping, snaring and shooting by the government and private individuals.

“The Service must decide how to manage the reintroduced Mexican wolf population based on the best available science,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “The science shows that to recover, lobos need multiple populations in the American Southwest, freedom to roam their native habitat in the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies regions, and more protections from shooting and trapping.”

Said Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project Executive Director Emily Renn: “Multiple studies, including peer-reviewed science published in Conservation Biology just last year, show that the best available habitat for recovery of these special wolves is north of I-40. Many thousands of U.S citizens understand this, so why doesn’t the agency responsible for the wolves’ recovery?”

At last count, after 36 years of the government’s recovery efforts, just 83 wolves, including only five breeding pairs, survive in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico. 

"Wolf supporters throughout the U.S. are united in wanting to see Mexican wolves roam throughout the Southwest so their howls can be heard again in every canyon and mountain range, and they can once again fulfill their important role as a top predator in maintaining the balance of nature in southwestern ecosystems," said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center.


Under a 1998 rule, the Service reintroduced Mexican gray wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. In accordance with a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Fish and Wildlife Service has now proposed to revise this rule and must finalize it by Jan. 12, 2015. 

The proposed rule allows release of captive wolves directly into New Mexico, which was previously only allowed for recaptured wolves. This should allow the release of more wolves from captivity, which is badly needed to bolster the genetic diversity of a wild population suffering from inbreeding depression and consequent lower reproductive rates.

The proposed rule also expands the recovery area across Arizona and New Mexico, and south to the Mexican border. By limiting wolves to the area south of Interstate 40, however, the proposed rule falls short of what scientists recommend.

A recovery team formed by the Service drafted a Mexican wolf recovery plan in 2013 that called for creating additional populations in the Southern Rockies and Grand Canyon regions. In response to objections from the states of Utah and Colorado, the agency neglected to finalize this recovery plan. Conservationists are pursuing litigation to obtain a final plan. 

The proposed rule would liberalize take of wolves by allowing states to dictate wolf removal in response to wolves eating their natural prey such as elk and deer, and by allowing livestock owners greatly increased latitude to kill wolves, even those not involved in depredations.
In their comments, conservationists recommended the following:

• Designating Mexican gray wolves as “experimental essential” under the Endangered Species Act to bolster their legal and on-the-ground protections; 
• Allowing wolves to roam into habitat north of Interstate 40;
• Requiring ranchers to remove or render inedible (for example, through lime) the carcasses of non-wolf-killed livestock before wolves can scavenge and become accustomed to eating livestock; and
• Disallowing take of wolves until the population reaches a science-based population threshold, in accordance with recovery recommendations the Service has ignored.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Sierra Club is now the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization -- with more than two million members and supporters.
WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.
The Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project is dedicated to bringing back wolves and restoring ecological health in the Grand Canyon Region.
The Southwest Environmental Center speaks for wildlife and wild places in the southwestern borderlands.

The following organizations also generated comments for Mexican wolf recovery:
Sierra Club-Rio Grande Chapter, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, White Mountain Conservation League, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Endangered Species Coalition, Wolf Conservation Center and Mexicanwolves.org