January 20, 2016 – Folkbladet
Vargstammen är fortfarande för liten, skriver debattören TT
När myndigheter fattar beslut om jakt på en hotad art måste det ske restriktivt och med bakgrund av vetenskapliga underlag, skriver Johanna Sandahl, ordförande för Naturskyddsföreningen i ett debattsvar.
Ynqwe (C), Berg (M), Tysklind (L) och Oscarsson (KD) skriver i Folkbladet 14/1 att de är oroliga för att regeringen ”överväger att återgå till den tidigare ordningen för överprövning av beslut om skydds- och licensjakt”.
Det som skribenterna syftar på är att miljöorganisationer tidigare kunde överklaga Naturvårdsverkets beslut om jakt på varg. I fjol infördes dock ett överklagandeförbud för miljöorganisationerna. Detta förbud har nu upphört att gälla.
Men det är inte den svenska regeringen, utan Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen, som den 18 december 2015 slagit fast att miljöorganisationer återigen ska få överklaga domar om jakt.
Domstolen skriver i sitt beslut att överklagandeförbudet står i strid med EU-rätten. I och med domstolens beslut gäller överklagandeförbudet inte längre. Miljöorganisationer har därmed återfått rätten att pröva storskalig jakt efter varg och andra hotade djur i domstol.
Möjligheten att få till stånd domstolsprövning av myndigheters beslut är en grundbult i alla rättssamhällen och en fundamental del i skyddet för demokratin.
Det är också en självklar princip i en demokrati att domstolarna ska vara fristående. Regeringen varken kan eller får påverka domstolarnas beslut.
Som medlem i EU ska Sverige följa EU:s regler. Vi tycker det är bra att naturskyddet i EU är starkt.
De regler som skyddar svenska vargar skyddar också delfiner i Medelhavet, skogar på kontinenten och våra flyttfåglar när de flyger över Medelhavsländerna.
Vargen har en viktig roll i naturen. Därför behövs en livskraftig vargstam. Vi anser att det i dag samlade vetenskapliga underlaget, som inkluderar vargstammens genetiska situation, visar att vargen i Sverige för närvarande inte har gynnsam bevarandestatus.
Den vargstam som lever i vårt land är fortfarande för liten, alltför geografiskt och genetiskt isolerad, och därmed sårbar för att tåla omfattande avskjutningar.
Vi är inte emot all jakt på varg, men när myndigheterna fattar beslut om jakt på en hotad art måste det ske restriktivt och mot bakgrund av vetenskapliga underlag.
Jakt på hotade arter behöver också kunna prövas i domstol, varför vi välkomnar att Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen tydliggjort att det nu återigen är möjligt.
För att få en hållbar rovdjursförvaltning är det viktigt att se framåt och finna lösningar som fungerar. Ett konkret förslag vore att se till att tamdjursägare får förbättrat stöd för förebyggande rovdjursavvisande stängsel; ett förslag som både Naturskyddsföreningen och Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund driver.
Ett annat förslag är att starta upp den tidigare vargkommittén, där både partier och intresseorganisationer ingick, och som lyckades enas om långtgående förslag i vargfrågan.
Vi tror det kunde vara en god utgångspunkt för en konstruktiv och lösningsorienterad dialog framåt.
January 8, 2016 – Source
Room to roam?
OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014. Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The wild mountains, plateaus and forests of northeastern California are becoming a stronghold for wolves dispersing from Oregon.
This week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that yet another wolf — a three-year old male — appears to be “exhibiting dispersal behavior” in Modoc County.The latest report comes after the agency said a small pack, including two adults and five wolf pups, has set up a territory in Siskiyou County.
The Modoc County wolf left his birthpack in northeastern Oregon in April, was in southwestern Oregon by December and recently crossed the border into California, according to wildlife conservation advocates.
“California is clearly wolf country because they keep coming here from Oregon. This is a great moment to celebrate,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Perhaps they are following a scent trail from other wolves that have come here the past couple years but, whatever the reason, it makes it all the more necessary to ensure they have the protections needed to thrive once they get here.”
The gray wolf is native to California but was extirpated from the state by the mid-1920s.
In June 2014 the California Fish and Game Commission voted in favor of the petition, making it illegal to intentionally kill any wolves that enter the state. In 2012 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife convened a citizen stakeholder group to help the agency develop a state wolf plan for California, and recently released a draft plan for public comment.
“With the establishment of the Shasta pack and now with OR-25’s presence, it is all the more critical that the state wolf plan provide management strategies that will best recover and conserve these magnificent animals,” said Weiss.
January 6, 2016 – Source
This image provided by the National Park Service shows a gray wolf in the wild.
The USFWS suggests in a November Species Status Assessment that the Alexander Archipelago wolf population occupying Prince of Wales Island declined by 75 percent between 1994 and 2014, from 356 to 89 individuals.
The agency identified a number of stresses impacting local populations, but “most of them have the potential to affect wolves indirectly, not directly.” Notable stresses included timber harvest, climate-related events, road development, and wolf hunting.
And while climate changes and timber clearing can limit the population of deer, the wolves’ main food source, wolf hunting is the only stressor with direct mortality. Road development may seem like an arbitrary stressor, but the USFWS says it gives hunters and trappers better access to wolf populations.
All of these stresses affect individual wolves either directly or indirectly, but the USFWS said in a Tuesday press release that the island wolves don’t qualify for ESA protection because “the population does not persist in an unusual or unique ecological setting; loss of the population would not result in a significant gap in the range; and the population does not differ markedly from other populations based on its genetic characteristics.”
But wildlife advocates say the USFWS is giving up on the Southeast Alaska wolves.
“We think the US Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t get it right and that they’ve overlooked some important things,” Larry Edwards, a Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace, told Alaska Public Media. “It’s very odd to us that the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges a 75 percent decline in the Prince of Wales wolf population and then basically writes that population off.”
The USFWS predicts the overall population of Alexander Archipelago wolves to be between 850 to 2,700 individuals, with approximately 62 percent living in British Columbia and 38 percent occupying southeastern Alaska. But advocates for Alexander Archipelago wolf protection under the ESA say the USFWS’s wide range estimates of population levels prove their lack of knowledge about the species’ actual status.
And in an indirect way, the USFWS has admitted to sacrificing this smaller wolf population.
“We do have concern for the wolf population on Prince of Wales Island,” Drew Crane, the Regional Endangered Species Coordinator at USFWS, told Maine News. “But Prince of Wales Island in general only constitutes six percent of the range-wide population of the Alexander Archipelago wolf.”
The USFWS predicts the current population of Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island will continue to decrease by another eight to 14 percent over the next 30 years.
To some Alaska lawmakers, this sacrifice is just fine with them. If the USFWS had found the Alexander Archipelago wolf worthy of endangered species status, the listing process would have limited or entirely prevented timber sales in the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States.
“…The attempt by some environmental groups to list the wolf seemed to be an effort solely to end the last of the remaining timber industry in Southeast Alasaka,” US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska, said in a press release Tuesday. “Fortunately, it did not work.”
VIDEO link: http://launch.newsinc.com/share.html?trackingGroup=90962&siteSection=csmonitor_nws_non_sty_dynamic&videoId=29928299
January 5, 2016 – Source
Matthew Simmons and Dr. Lorin Lindner at Lockwood Animal Rescue Center with Wiley, a wolfdog they saved from being euthanized. (Photo: Jennifer Dallas)
About 90 minutes north of Los Angeles at the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC), healing magic happens every day. Nestled on acres of scenic land inside theLos Padres National Forest, LARC’s Warriors and Wolves program offers combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder the chance to bond withwolves and wolfdogs that have been rescued from abusive situations or abandoned because their wild roots make them poor pets. Together they heal and gain a sense of belonging — and a second chance at life.
“Combat veterans have been paid to be predators, much like wolves,” says LARC co-founder and Navy veteran Matthew Simmons. “Many come home with this inner war inside them. They don’t know if they’re an infantryman or a husband. And my wolves don’t know if they’re a wolf or a dog. That inner turmoil they’re both suffering bonds them together and they form a partnership that helps them both.”
A LARC veteran bonds with wolfdog Cochise who was relinquished by his owner for being a problem pet. (Photo: Sarah Varley)
Life after trauma
Simmons is intimately familiar with the horrors of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After serving in the Navy, including a stint in Desert Storm, he returned home and launched a computer company. He felt focused and successful, but the harrowing memories of combat lay buried, waiting to surface. He began waking at night soaked in sweat and felt strangely agitated after business meetings.
As his sleeplessness and emotional turbulence grew, Simmons consulted a psychiatrist who prescribed sleeping pills. He was soon popping a few at a time and washing them down with wine. “By this point I’d sold my computer company and was in turmoil, drinking too much and taking too many pills,” he says.
Desperate to stop his downward slide, Simmons visited another psychiatrist who diagnosed him with PTSD and suggested getting immediate help through the Veterans Administration (VA). PTSD can develop after traumatic events, including combat, and may cause nightmares, flashbacks, detachment, angry outbursts, addiction and sometimes suicide.
“I didn’t know what PTSD was, nor did I necessarily think I had it,” Simmons says. “I was a big tough guy.”
But he heeded the advice and connected with the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles where he soon found himself volunteering to care for abandoned parrots and other exotic birds living on-site in the Serenity Park Sanctuary. Run by licensed clinical psychologist Lorin Lindner, the eco-therapy program helps traumatized veterans and traumatized birds recover together.
The experience changed his life. “That’s where I met the three animals I believe have kept me safe, sane and sober,” Simmons says.
The first two were Maggie and Ruby, feral parrots from San Francisco that had barely survived a brutal raccoon attack. “I watched them physically heal, and whether I was cognizant of it or not, I watched them forgive and let go,” Simmons says. Gaining their trust and nursing them back to health helped him release his own emotional wounds.
His third guardian “animal” was Dr. Lindner, now his wife.
Lindner and Simmons pictured at Lockwood Animal Rescue Center with a rescue horse Megan and Huey, a good-natured wolfdog found abandoned on the streets of Houston. (Photo: Jennifer Dallas)
Eco-therapy for the soul
In 2007, the couple bought a remote property outside Los Angeles in Frazier Park, known for its panoramic mountain views and pristine beauty. They started LARC, a privately funded non-profit, and began rescuing abused horses. At the same time, they learned about captive wolves and high-content wolfdogs (wolves with dog heritage) also in need of forever homes. Many are bred as exotic pets, only to be relinquished to shelters or permanently chained outside for exhibiting natural “wild” and “aggressive” wolf behaviors rooted in their DNA. Wolfdogs aren’t eligible for adoption at shelters so are usually euthanized.
After saving a wolfdog named Wiley minutes before he was to be destroyed, Simmons started taking him on visits to the VA. He was amazed at Wiley’s positive impact on everyone there. “The doctors acted different, the guys in my support group acted different, the security guard acted different, and so did I,” he says. “Absolutely everything changed.”
The couple decided to launch the Warriors and Wolves program at LARC, patterned after Lindner’s successful parrot program, to help veterans with PTSD who needed additional help. “These guys usually have a drug and alcohol problem,” Simmons says. “They’re disenfranchised from their families, often homeless, and many are suicidal.”
The couple also continued rescuing wolfdogs, including 29 that had spent their lives chained in a small enclosure at a roadside wolf attraction near Anchorage, Alaska. Former game show host and long-time animal activist Bob Barker donated $100,000 to fund the rescue.
The cornerstone of Warriors and Wolves is the idea that nature can heal a broken spirit. Veterans — who are either employed by LARC or volunteer — go on nature hikes and participate in stream-bed restoration, but the heart of their work is caring for the wolves and wolfdogs, who, like them, are outsiders and often misunderstood.
Veteran volunteers cut up raw meat for LARC’s wolves and wolfdogs. Meat is obtained from the Landfill Diversion Program — mostly overstock and sell-by-date cuts that would otherwise be tossed by grocery stores. (Photo: Matthew Simmons)
Most quickly bond with one specific wolf or wolfdog. “The animal selects the veteran, and it’s a unique selection to that veteran,” Simmons says. “They usually have similar trauma and similar physical ailments. There’s no way they could know that. Some sort of cross-species communication goes on between them.”
Most remarkable is the special solace and healing they find together — a bond that lasts for life. And it’s not just with their soulmate animal; veterans are also accepted into the wolf pack where they learn about family and trust.
Many of the veterans go on to good jobs, often working with animals. Those who need more time can transition to the New England Wolf Advocacy and Rescue Center (NEWARC) in New Hampshire, which Simmons and Lindner started in 2013. Veterans live and work there for six months to a year, earning a good salary and continuing to heal. Many are able to reconnect with wives and children they pushed away during their PTSD battles and repair damaged relationships.
“Our program heals veterans who would otherwise probably die,” says Simmons. “And the wolves get to live out their lives and maybe share it in a special way with another sentient being who’s also suffered. It’s magical and special.”
Like many wolfdogs, Willow Girl was turned over to a shelter by her owners and slated to be euthanized. She now lives freely in a 3-acre natural habitat enclosure at LARC. (Photo: Renae Smith)
By Sidney Stevens