Archive for November 2016
LANSING — Michigan’s 2014 wolf hunt law is unconstitutional, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in an opinion released Wednesday.
In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the court said the law providing for a Michigan wolf hunt violates the “title-object clause” of Michigan’s constitution, which says “no law shall embrace more than one object,” and that object “shall be expressed in its title.”
The court said a provision of the law allowing for free hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses for qualified members of the military is unconnected to the law’s object of providing for scientific management of game, fish and wildlife habitat. The entire law must be struck down, because it isn’t clear the law would have been approved if that provision had not been included, the court said.
The ruling in favor of the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected overturns an earlier ruling by the Michigan Court of Claims.
In 2011, the federal government removed the gray wolf from its endangered species list in Michigan, but the group that challenged the law says there are fewer than 650 gray wolves left in Michigan and they should not be hunted.
After earlier failed efforts to add wolves to the definition of “game” in Michigan, the Michigan Legislature in 2014 adopted a voter initiative backed by Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, which gave the Michigan Natural Resources Commission joint responsibility, with the Legislature, to name new game animals. The law, which took effect in March 2015, included a $1 million appropriation, making it immune from being challenged through another referendum.
Two wolf hunt laws that were on the ballot in 2014 were rejected by voters.
Keeping Michigan Wolves Protected challenged the law, alleging misrepresentations were made by petition circulators and violations of the state constitution. But the Michigan Court of Claims rejected those arguments.
In the new Michigan Court of Appeals ruling, the panel says that Keeping Michigan Wolves Protected essentially viewed the law as “a Trojan Horse, within which the ability to hunt wolves was cleverly hidden.”
The court said that “however accurate the plaintiff may be in its assessment of why (the law) came into being, our analysis is not about policy,” but “based on an analysis of the dictates of Michigan’s constitution.”
Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, said the law “was a blatant power grab by politicians to take away voting rights from Michigan citizens,” and “we are delighted the court has rejected the Legislature’s outrageous attempt to subvert the will of the people.”
She said the ruling “restores the people’s decision, in two statewide votes, overwhelmingly rejecting the trophy hunting and commercial trapping of the state’s small population of wolves.”
A spokesperson for the group that pushed for the law, Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The court’s panel consisted of Judges Donald Owens, Joel Hoekstra and Jane Beckering.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.
Posted on November 24, 2016 by Leslie
I’ve become fascinated by cougars. Maybe because they are elusive, secretive, more akin to a ghost than an animal of flesh and blood. Which of course, begs the question: How do you get people to care about and protect an animal that they never see, nor probably will never see in their lifetime?
Mom and six month old kitten
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park can be almost guaranteed, if they are persistent and patient, to view wolves and bears, elk, bison, and bighorn sheep. But only the rare individual will have the opportunity to see a cougar in the Park. They’ve been spotted at Calcite Springs, hanging on the basalt walls and occasionally through a scope from the Hellroaring overlook. Usually the Park sightings are called in by wolf watchers. Once radioed around, tourists hear about it through the airwaves, then flock to those locations. Sometimes the cat might be hanging out, either on a kill or just sunning himself, for hours.
In all my winter tracking I’ve done, I’ve never seen a cougar. In fact, the people I know who have seen cougars, it’s usually from the car when a cat suddenly runs across the road at dusk.
I sat down with Jim Halfpenny for an interview about cougar tracking stories. Jim is a famous tracker who lives in Gardiner, Mt. As a Mammalogist and expert tracker, he has worked all over the West and Canada. His puma tracking includes the deserts of Arizona and Utah as well as the mountains of the Greater Yellowstone.
Jim used to live and work in Colorado. His interest in cougars began in 1982 when the Forest Service called him in to investigate a bear-killed horse within the small town of Nederland CO. Jim told them “this is not a bear that mauled the horse. It’s a cougar” The Forest Service thought the kill was made by a bear because there were five claw marks on the horse’s neck. If you look at a cat paw, there are four claws and a dew claw high up, like on a dog. On a cougar print, the dew claw doesn’t show and it’s not bone attached, it’s tendon attached. But Jim knew that dew claw, called ‘the killer claw’, would show on a kill because it wraps around it’s prey. Thus the five marks. Jim asked himself “What is a cougar doing in a town?” and so began a research project.
Cougar print has only four paws showing. Dew Claw doesn’t show
Big cat print
I asked Jim if he had tracked cougars without dogs and still seen them. “Oh, many times. I’ve hardly ever used dogs. He told me several of those stories but two stand out.
“I got a phone call from a woman when I lived in Boulder. There was some snow on the ground but it was thin, only about 2 inches. I followed the tracks, and soon I was about 50 yards from the back of this cougar. He looked up and his face said ‘Who are you, what are you doing following me?’
That cougar took a few strides and disappeared but I observed he was cutting a big letter ‘C’; so I cut across the ‘C’, and began following his tracks till they suddenly disappeared. I looked around. No tracks. And then I looked up and there he was, in the tree, looking at me. I got some good photographs of him in that tree. I’ve got more photographs in the wild than anybody not using dogs or set cameras.”
Puma uses his vomeronasal organ on the roof of mouth to pick up smells better
Halfpenny told me another great story from the Boulder era. “I got a phone call from a woman who said she watched a cougar kill a deer from her window. It was three in afternoon went I got there. I found that deer and chained it to a tree. Then I did a necropsy on it and saw it was pregnant. I walked one hundred steps off the carcass and sat down. Pretty soon that cougar returns. He’s knows I’m there, and begins trying to pull that deer away to a hidden spot. And he’s pulling for all he’s worth, but that deer is chained to the tree. The cougar looks like ‘What! I don’t understand this. I just killed the thing, and I can’t move it!’
“I watched that cat way into the night, filmed and photographed her. After dark, in came mature kittens. Our crew took turns watching from Friday 3pm to Monday 3pm. Over that time we had foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs and the cougar. It was as if all these animals were waiting on the edges to come in. There were multiple cycles of this.”
Cougar caught on camera
Most of us will never see a cougar in our lifetime, even if they are living right around us. I intend to write more about cougars with the hope that people will know them and feel the urge to protect them.
Source – The Human Footprint
Including Yellowstone Stories and Images
Saturday, January 2, 2016
The State of the Wolves, 2015-2016
Wolf image public domain via Pixabay
For wolves and their advocates, 2015 was a year of triumph and tragedy. The year began with the glow from a great victory: wolves had been placed back under federal protection in four states where they had been slaughtered. The year ended with advocates breathing a tired sigh of nervous relief that wolves had not been stripped of that federal protection through a last-minute, cagey congressional rider.
Meanwhile, wolves did what comes naturally: dispersed in search of mates and territory. Wolves returned to their home in a state where they had not walked in ninety years. In other wolf states they dispersed into new areas.
And we humans also did what comes naturally: we let our wide-ranging beliefs about these essential predators bring out our best and worst. In one state, pro-wolf and anti-wolf groups met regularly to try and find common ground. In another state, a poacher in his truck chased an innocent wolf down, shot it, turned himself in, and was fined a measly $100 for killing an endangered animal.
Here is a wolf-state-by-wolf-state report on the triumphs and tragedies of 2015. As well as a glimpse into what 2016 may hold in store for wolves and their advocates.
Pups from California’s Shasta pack. (CDFW)
In May and July, trail cameras in Siskiyou County recorded images of two adult wolves and five pups. California’s first wolf pack was named the Shasta Pack. Their scat was analyzed, and DNA revealed that the Shasta pack’s breeding female was born into Oregon’s Imnaha Pack, that state’s first wolf pack.
Any wolf that enters California is protected under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will encourage the use of non-lethal methods to minimize livestock losses from wolves. This welcoming of wolves was, for Patricia Herman, founder of California-based Protect the Wolves advocacy group, “…our biggest success after fighting for so long with so many states to stop killing them. When we found a state that actually welcomed the idea of wolves it was a dream come true.”
The gray wolf is native to California. Records from 1750 to 1850 show that wolves roamed California’s Coastal Range from San Diego to Sacramento. From 1850-1900, they were spotted in Shasta County and in the central Sierra Nevada.
California has plenty of room for more wolves. The Klamath-Siskiyou and Modoc Plateau regions in northern California and southwestern Oregon could support up to 470 wolves, according to a study conducted by the Conservation Biology Institute and reported by the California Wolf Center.
CDFW is preparing for the return of wolves by developing a wolf management plan. “But the plan steps far outside the bounds of credible research and into the world of special interest-driven politics when it calls for authorizing the state to kill wolves when the population reaches as few as 50 to 75 animals,” says Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity. The deadline to comment on California’s plan is February 15, 2016.
Wolf from Oregon’s Wenaha pack. (ODFW)
By early 2015 Oregon had 81 wolves in nine packs, most in eastern Oregon. OR-7’s Rogue pack lives in the southwestern part of the state. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) confirmed that two new wolves were spotted traveling in territory near the Rogue pack.
Oregon’s response to the return of wolves has been positive. “Oregon has been the only state in the nation with a meaningful wolf population that did not kill them despite having the authority to do so,” said Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild.
But that may change. In November, ODFW stripped Oregon’s wolves of state endangered species protection. Wolves remain fully protected in the western two-thirds of state under the federal Endangered Species Act. In Northeast Oregon, where most of the wolves live, ranchers can still only shoot a wolf caught in the act of wounding, biting, killing, or chasing livestock. The state still makes non-lethal deterrence the first choice for resolving conflicts between ranchers and wolves.
To delist wolves, ODFW had to show that wolves were not in danger of extinction or population failure. The agency claims it did that. Klavins says ODFW did not. “They ignored substantive critiques from world-renowned scientists while justifying delisting based on a few sentences (in some cases cherry-picked) from a small number of selected experts of varying levels of credibility. They ignored over 20,000 public comments and overwhelming public testimony in favor of continued protections. They ignored troubling conflicts of interest and likely violated important legal requirements. The agency was dishonest with conservation stakeholders. Governor Brown was silent.”
On December 30, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal challenge to the removal of protection from gray wolves under Oregon’s Endangered Species Act.
Pups from Washington’s Diamond pack. (WDFW trail cam)
By early 2015, Washington had at least 68 wolves in 16 confirmed packs in the eastern and central portions of the state. Though Congress stripped wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections in the eastern third of the state, all wolves remain protected under Washington’s ESA.
But, as elsewhere, protection hasn’t stopped the killing. According to the Seattle Times, at least half a dozen Washington wolves have been killed by poachers since 2012. This includes a Whitman County poacher fined a measly $100 last September. Another wolf was struck and killed on Interstate 90. State sharpshooters in helicopters shot and killed seven wolves in one pack in 2012 for preying on livestock.
The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) went to court to stop such state-sponsored killing. WELC sued Wildlife Services, a federal extermination program under the USDA, challenging its authority to kill wolves in Washington. In late December the Seattle Times reported that a federal judge ruled that killing wolves “to reduce predation on livestock is not only highly controversial, but highly uncertain to work as intended, given the ongoing scientific dispute about the policy. Therefore, the agency must complete a full environmental-impact statement before engaging further in “lethal removal” of wolves…”
As of early December, north-central Washington has a new wolf pack. The Loup Loup pack was identified after numerous reports of wolf sightings prompted wildlife officials to investigate the Methow Valley. Biologists tracked up to six animals traveling together. Because this pack is in western Washington, the animals are protected under the federal ESA. Officials plan to outfit at least one wolf with a radio collar.
Wolves have also been spotted in the North Cascades, where they have been moving back and forth across the Canadian border. Scientists have identified more wild landscape in Washington that wolves could occupy, including on the Olympic Peninsula.
Idaho wolf. (IDFG)
The most recent official count found 770 wolves surviving in Idaho at the end of 2014. In that same year, hunters killed 256 wolves, wildlife agents killed 67, and 19 other wolves died at the hands of humans.
And 2015 looks to be as deadly. Wildlife Services has removed 70 wolves and as of early December 120 wolves have been shot or trapped, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. And 145 more could still die.
The cost of hunting licenses reveals how Idaho values wolves. A wolf tag costs $11.50, while a turkey tag costs $19.75. A tag to take an elk costs $30.75. Hunters may buy up to five wolf hunting tags per year and use electronic calls to attract wolves.
A group of hunters with the misleading name Idaho for Wildlife was planning a January 2016 wolf and coyote killing derby on public lands near Salmon, Idaho. The contest included a $1,000 prize for whoever kills the most wolves and another $1,000 to the killer of the most coyotes. But in mid-November the group canceled the derby after being challenged in the courts by the Western Environmental Law Center, representing WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Boulder-White Clouds Council. Four other groups—Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and Project Coyote—also sued the Bureau of Land Management, contending the permit opposes the federal government’s wolf-reintroduction efforts.
Both lawsuits continue since the derby organizer has said that the derby would be held in January—but on private ranches in the Salmon area and on U.S. Forest Service land that doesn’t require a permit.
In early-August, conservation groups won another victory for Idaho wolves. Earthjustice, representing Ralph Maughan, Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity, had filed a federal lawsuit to halt the killing of wolves in Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Idaho wanted to kill 60% of the wolves in this federally protected area managed by the USFS. But the USFS has told Earthjustice that Idaho will kill no wolves in the area in the winter of 2015-2016.
Wolf from Montana’s Smart Creek pack. (MFWP)
The number of gray wolves in Montana continues to fall under state management. The verified population at the end of 2014 (latest data) was 554, as compared to 627 wolves at the end of 2013, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP). In 2011, the year wolves were stripped of ESA protection, there were 653 wolves in Montana.
In 2014, 308 wolves died; 301 at the hands of humans. Wildlife managers, including Wildlife Services, killed 57 of those wolves. Hunters killed 206 during the state’s expanded 2014-15 hunting season. A wolf-hunting license costs $19 for residents, and 20,383 wolf licenses were sold in 2014. The combined maximum hunting and trapping bag limit is five wolves per person.
Conservation groups saved some wolves from hunters. In July of 2015 The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission reduced from three to two the number of wolves that can be killed each year in two hunting districts near the north border of Yellowstone National Park. These districts are two of the three more tightly controlled wolf-hunting districts in the state. The third is near Glacier National Park, which already had a quota of two wolves. This quota reduction represents ongoing success: In 2014 wolf advocates were able to get the quota in those two units adjoining Yellowstone reduced from four to three wolves.
Also in 2015 MFWP brought together groups that want to protect wolves (for example, Wolves of the Rockies, Bear Creek Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Montana Audobon Society) and groups that want to shoot wolves (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Bowhunters’ Association, and Montana Stockgrowers’ Association). The groups discussed, among other issues, whether non-hunting conservation groups and hunter conservation groups can find common ground. “This is a promising move forward in working together for the betterment of wildlife management and is open to the public to attend,” said Kim Bean, vice-president of Wolves of the Rockies.
Wolf from Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon pack. (Mary Strickroth)
At the end of 2014 (most recent count), Wyoming had 229 wolves in the state with an additional 104 in Yellowstone National Park for a total of 333 wolves.
In 2014 Earthjustice, representing Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Biological Diversity, fought in court to keep Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming. The coalition won and stopped the killing of Wyoming’s wolves. The federal government and the state of Wyoming have appealed. “Wyoming appears determined to defend its uniquely hostile approach to wolf management,” said Tim Preso, managing attorney for Earthjustice.
History supports Preso’s statement. The federal government turned wolf management over to Wyoming in 2012. Most of the state was designated a predator zone, where anyone could kill any wolf, at any time, and for any reason. In less than two years, more than 200 wolves were slaughtered, according to Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife. Among the early victims of Wyoming’s killing spree was 06, the famous alpha female of Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon pack.
The return of ESA protection has not stopped the killing. Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, reported in late-October that 55 wolves have been killed in Wyoming—mostly by Wildlife Services—and that is the largest government-funded wolf killing in eight years.
In mid-November, two U.S. senators (Republicans from Wyoming and Wisconsin) vowed to push to strip federal protection from gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states—and to prohibit courts from intervening in those states on the embattled predator’s behalf.
The Great Lakes States
Wolf photo by USFWS
In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) estimated that 3,722 wolves live in the three Great Lakes states, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. About sixty percent of those wolves roam Minnesota. The remainder is split almost evenly between Michigan and Wisconsin.
In December of 2014, all of those wolves came back under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. Relisting was a huge victory for wolf advocates, but fighting to keep them listed, says Rachel Tilseth, of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, has been the biggest challenge of 2015. She told Wisconsin Public Radio, “Can states be trusted to manage wolves? I think not, and many other scientists agree that individual states cannot be trusted.”
In November two groups of scientists wrote letters about whether the gray wolf should be delisted as an endangered species.
First came a letter signed by 26 wildlife scientists urging the federal government to strip ESA protection from gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region. The scientists sent the letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Dan Ashe, director of USFWS. Among those writing the letter were David Mech, a wolf specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota. The scientists say that the integrity of the ESA is undercut if species aren’t removed when they’ve scientifically recovered. They believe that the combined population in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin represents recovery.
Less than a week later a group of 70 scientists and scholars wrote an open letter disagreeing with their colleagues. These scientists said that removing ESA protection from wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin could be justified if and when the USFWS “uses the best available science that justifies delisting,” But, they added, ”Currently, it does not.”
“Quite simply, wolves still fit the legal definition of endangerment in the Great Lakes region and nationwide,” said the scientists, including John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University, leaders of a long-standing study of wolves at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.
The Associated Press reported that in the rebuttal letter, the scientists said public tolerance of wolves has risen substantially since they were given protection. Any suggestions that patience is wearing thin are spread by “special interest groups that are vocal, but small in number.”
Michigan wolf (MDNR)
Michigan has about 630 wolves and all were believed to reside in the Upper Peninsula. In September, the website Michigan Live reported that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) confirmed that a second gray wolf has reached the Lower Peninsula. Genetic testing of male wolf scat found that this dispserser may have originated in northeast Ontario. Though wolves have moved into the Lower Peninsula, there’s not yet evidence of a breeding population.
Meanwhile, in Isle Royale National Park, the wolf population has fallen to three, including one deformed from inbreeding. In 2014, park officials hoped that new wolves would come to the island across ice bridges, but that didn’t happen. “There is now a good chance that it is too late to conduct genetic rescue,” John Vucetich told UPI. Vucetich and Rolf Peterson suggest that fewer and smaller ice bridges as well as development on the mainland may hinder repopulation.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said in August that the state’s wolf population estimate has not varied “significantly” over the last three years. The latest survey estimates that 2,221 wolves live in 374 packs within northern and central Minnesota. That estimate is down from the previous winter’s estimate of 2,423 wolves.
In June, wildlife officials announced that the state’s wolf population is close to an all-time high. Preliminary surveys conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) place current wolf numbers between 746 and 771, about a 13 percent increase from last year’s 660.
In August, WDNR reported that a pack of three to four wolves resides in the Wisconsin Dells area, according to WiscNews. Except for one other location in the state’s southwest, this is the farthest south that wolves have migrated in Wisconsin.
A Look Ahead to 2016
Here’s how some of the advocates contacted for this report see 2016 shaping up.
Wolf photo public domain via Pixabay
“Sadly, our wolf, wildlife, and environmental issues will play out in the political arena based largely on special interest and politics, not on science, conservation, or preservation,” says Dr. Robin Chriss of Chriss Wildlife Consulting. “We need to be there in solidarity as wolf advocates, to be a voice. If not, we will lose a lot in 2016.”
“Corporate ranchers and farmers,” says Patricia Herman of Protect the Wolves, “don’t want to learn to coexist with wolves. They just want to continue to take more and more land, until there is no room for wildlife anywhere.”
“Keeping the Great Lakes wolves under federal protection,” says Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, “is and will be the biggest challenge of 2016.”
For Oregon Wild’s Rob Klavins, 2016 looks scary. “Anti-wolf interests and their political allies have brought anti-wolf legislation every year since wolf recovery began. They’ve promised to do so again, and wolves have lost some of their champions in recent years.”
Kim Bean from Wolves of the Rockies believes the attack on the ESA will continue and “wolves will most likely be delisted nationally.” This leaves the states to manage wolves without any federal help. “We as advocates,” advises Bean, “need to stand and fight even harder, and will need the help of an empathetic public to do so. We need one loud and powerful voice.”
In the Temple of Wolves
by Rick Lamplugh
More than 225 Five-Star Reviews
Amazon Best Seller
FWS Proposal is a Disaster for the World’s Most Endangered Wolf
On September 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced its proposal on the fate of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. To say that I am disheartened would be putting it mildly. I’m a lot closer to: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
While the FWS tried to spin it that they are still committed to recovery of the red wolf, the agency’s proposed actions speak much louder than their rhetoric. Here’s what FWS proposed – and what’s wrong with it.
First, the FWS proposed “to move quickly to secure the captive population of red wolves, which we now know is not sustainable in its current configuration.” This was, in our book, very clearly a ‘red herring’ for the red wolf and here’s why:
- By looking at the FWS’s own Population Viability Analysis (PVA) – an assessment frequently used in conservation biology to determine the probability that a species will go extinct within a number of years – there is no more than a 0.5 percent chance that the captive population of red wolves will go extinct over the next 100 years.
- The same analysis shows that without immediate action, the wild population of red wolves could perish in less than ten years.
Next, the FWS proposes “to determine where potential new sites exist for additional experimental wild populations by October 2017.” While expanding release sites and recovery locations throughout the red wolf’s original range in the Southeast makes total sense for the species, giving up on wolves in North Carolina absolutely does not. That move makes me howling mad.
- A recent poll shows that 81 percent of voters statewide agree that: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help the endangered red wolf population recover and prevent its extinction.”
- Additionally, 27 legislators from North Carolina wrote to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in August 2016, asking that the agency redouble its efforts to recover the red wolf.
This program was once the model of success for wolf recovery efforts in the United States. Despite the efforts of dedicated on-the-ground staff, poor decision-making by FWS’ Southeast Regional Office has caused this program to crumble. As a result, the population of wild red wolves in North Carolina has crashed from a high of 150 to less than 45 wolves today. That’s reason to fix the program, not to close it down. It will take years to build new recovery programs and public support for wild wolves in other locations, and in the meantime, we could be learning from an expanded effort in North Carolina.
FWS also proposes “to revise the existing experimental population rule to apply only to the Dare County Bombing Range and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge…” What does this actually mean for wolves on the ground in North Carolina?
- Starting in 2018, FWS plans to reduce the habitat of the world’s only population of wild red wolves from 1.7 million acres spread over public and private lands, down to 200,000 acres of public lands in one county. This reduces the red wolf recovery area and habitat to just 12 percent of its former range.
- Additionally, FWS wants to round up any red wolves outside of Dare County and put them into a captive breeding program in zoos across the country.
This is a complete disaster for wild red wolves. Restricting wolves to one small space in the wild doesn’t put them on the road to recovery and goes against their very biology. Thankfully, our legal team working with our conservation partners recently won a preliminary injunction against the Service, limiting how red wolves can be removed from private land. But the fact that officials would even suggest this measure doesn’t bode well for future management decisions.
Finally, FWS proposes to “complete a comprehensive Species Status Assessment and five-year status review for the red wolf (by Oct. 2017), building on the foundation of work accomplished over the past two years and past history. This will guide the Service’s recovery planning in the future.”
All I can say is this is a massive game of kick the can down the road. This proposal is, essentially, a plan for extinction. Clearly, the current administration is backing away from a nearly 30-year investment in recovering red wolves in the wild and passing the buck to the next administration. The FWS decision undoes nearly three decades of work to recover the red wolf in North Carolina. The Red Wolf Recovery Program was the example for wolf restoration efforts in Yellowstone National Park and for the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest.
There will be public comment periods on this proposal once the FWS begins to make official decisions. When this happens, we’ll be calling on everyone who cares about red wolves to tell the FWS to do its job and recover endangered species in the wild, not just in captivity. We will be organizing red wolf supporters to stand up for their native wolf. And we will continue working with private landowners, elected officials and the public to build on the strong support for red wolves in North Carolina.
It is time for the public and the conservation community to stand firm and united behind red wolf recovery. Together we can lead this program towards a better future, and save the world’s most endangered wolf from extinction.
SPEAK UP FOR RED WOLVES
Red wolves are dangerously close to extinction in the wild, and they need your help. Insist that FWS recommit to red wolf recovery – before it’s too late!
Ben Prater, Director, Southeast Program
Ben Prater supervises and directs Defenders’ efforts to protect imperiled wildlife and their habitats in the Southeast. He is also building on the outstanding work of our Florida and legal teams throughout the region and expanding our work into the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama which are home to sensitive habitats and many endangered species.
November 5, 2016 by: Alicia Graef
Wildlife officials have officially confirmed a new pair of wolves in the northeastern part of the California, which has brought more hope that their presence will be restored in the state.
Wolves once ranged widely throughout California but were persecuted, shot, poisoned and otherwise eradicated from the landscape almost a century ago. That changed in 2011 when a lone wolf wandered down from Oregon and became the first known wolf to venture into the state since 1924.
The return of that wolf, OR-7, helped clear the way for the safe return of others of his kind. His appearance sparked widespread curiosity and support for wolves. Wolves were later protected under the California Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to harm, harass or kill them in the state.
Now, it looks like OR-7′s son is carrying on his legacy as a far-ranging adventurer.
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), genetic testing of scat samples released this week have confirmed that the male in the newly discovered pair is one of OR-7′s pups who was born in 2014.
Although it’s not known where the female originated, officials suspect she may have dispersed from another western state.
The two now join members of the Shasta pack as residents of the state, who were the first to be confirmed last year in Siskiyou County, but the whereabouts of that pack are currently unknown. While there’s currently no evidence the latest arrivals have had any pups this year, they may yet become the state’s second official pack.
“This is another landmark day for wolf recovery in California,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scientists have long said California has great wolf habitat; wolf OR-7 proved that with his historic travels here between 2011 and 2014, and now his son and his son’s mate are helping create a legacy. The female in California is particularly exciting because she’s bringing genetic diversity that’s essential for achieving long-term recovery for wolves in the Golden State.”
Photo credit: Thinkstock
NORTH CAROLINA: DON’T ABANDON RED WOLF RECOVERY
October 28, 2013 by JAMES WILLIAM GIBSON
Graphic Photo: Vigilantes in Wyoming Enact “Justice” Against Wolves
“Fed Up in Wyoming” reads the caption under this stunning photograph posted on a hunter’s Facebook page (reproduced here under Fair Use). The photo is yet more evidence that, two years after political reactionaries led a successful campaign in the House of Representatives and then the Senate to remove the North Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the endangered species list, the slaughter of wolves continues to escalate as wolf hunters fall deeper in their paranoid fantasy that the wolf represents a liberal conspiracy against rural communities.
The Facebook page that originally posted the image belongs to two Wyoming hunting outfitters, Colby and Codi Gines. The Gines run CG Wilderness Adventures, headquartered in a highly remote part of Wyoming’s Bridger Teton National Forest, bordering on the southeast section of Yellowstone National Park. “Wyoming is God’s country, and we invite you to come see it for yourself,” says the Gines’ website.
Their invitation evidently does not extend to wolves. Driven extinct in most of the continental US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the wolf returned to the American landscape in 1995, when the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 66 wolves captured in the Canadian Rockies to Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Conservationists saw as the return of the wolf as a crowning accomplishment to renew the wilderness, and millions of Americans came to celebrate the wolf’s comeback. But by 2009 a virulent opposition movement opposed to the wolf had formed. Made up of hunters and outfitters, ranchers, and far-right groups, these forces coalesced around a cultural mythology in which wolves became demons — disease ridden, dangerous foreign invaders — who served as icons of the hated federal government. (Read Cry Wolf, our in-depth report on this issue.)
With the Klan-like hoods and the ostentatious display of the American flag, the photo is a glimpse into the mentality of those behind the anti-wolf campaign. There is, apparently, a cohort of people who view the destruction of wild nature as something to be celebrated, something quintessentially America. They are play acting at both patriotism and rebellion. And, in their play-acting, they reveal a great deal about the paranoid fantasies that have gripped some people in the age of Obama.
The Facebook comments following the photo are especially revealing. Among those who LIKE this page is Sportsmen Against Wolves, a group whose “About” statement is, “Sportsmen against illegally introduced Canadian Gray Wolves.” Here’s one wolf-killing friend, J. Weeks, commenting on the photo: “Kill all federally funded terrorists. ” To some, the reintroduction of wolves represents Washington’s treason against civilization itself: “Yet another brilliant bleeding heart program…reestablish the bloodthirsty critter that every civilization from the dawn of time has tried to eliminate,” says Johnny W. To Sarah H., the wolf killing is just self-defense: “I imagine they don’t want any wolfies to come after them or their families!” Then Haines complained that only one had been killed — there “should be a pile of them tho!”
The white hoods, with their echoes of Jim Crow-era terrorism, were actually celebrated by some commenters. “Redneck KKK” wrote Austin T. One fan, Julia G., argued that the wolf hunters should be more brazen, posting, “Next time they go full REGALIA.”
For their part, the Gines prefer to call the hoods the sign of “Vigilantes,” a way of “Trying to make a statement!…Frontier Justice! Wyoming hunters are fed up!” John P. concurred, “Yeehaw…looks like modern day Wyoming rangers taking care of business!!!!!”
Some commenters suggested that the wolf hunters wore hoods to protect themselves from government persecution. One supporter of masked men posted, “I fully understand the masks…Keep on killing guys.”
It would seem that wolf hunting is the wildlife version of George Zimmerman’s vigilantism – self appointed keepers of order waging a battle against an imaginary enemy.
Or maybe it’s worse, and the wolf hunters with their KKK masks are more like shades of Timothy McVeigh. The cammo gear, the rifles – it’s as if the wolf hunters were fighting a guerrilla war against Washington. As if they were worried that at any moment a US Fish and Wildlife Service black helicopter would swoop down and a SWAT team emerge, assault rifles blazing.
But it’s a phony rebellion against a phantom menace. The wolves aren’t actually any danger to people or much of a threat to ranchers’ livestock. And the US government permits them to be killed. There’s no real transgression here requiring a mask. It’s all theater meant to self-impress.
In April, 2011, the House and Senate sponsored a “rider” on a federal budget bill that removed gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Here’s the very long story in short: Democratic Senator Jon Tester faced a rough challenge in the 2012 Montana election, and sacrificing wolves as expendable was deemed politically expedient to win the race. Wolf hunts renewed in Idaho and Montana that fall. Legal challenges by environmental groups against the delisting failed.
Wyoming took until 2012 to win full federal approval for a plan to declare the lands near Yellowstone a “trophy zone” with wolf quotas. In most of the state, wolves can be killed year round without limits. The Gines’ hunting operation is in “Wolf Hunt Area 3.” In late October they reported killing two wolves, filling its quota of three wolves (one had been hunted earlier). Whether the wolf in this photo is one of the three legally killed is not known.
The Northern Rockies have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites, and idiotic environmentalists — the members of these latter two categories being “two-legged” wolves. The sheer extremity of the hatred shown to wolves, and the bizarre juxtaposition of the KKK-like hoods and American flag, plainly expose this movement for what it is: A scapegoating of the wolves by men and women who have succumbed to their own rage against imagined enemies. And while the failure of federal, state and local political leaders to denounce the anti-wolf movement illuminates their moral failure, history offers encouraging instances of public indignation creating change from below.
Take, as just one example, the eventual take-down of Senator Joe McCarthy. After years of cynical Red-baiting, including accusing high ranking military and intelligence officials of treason, McCarthy was eventually brought to a kind of justice. McCarthy accused the US Army of harboring Communists and, in June 1954, in the course of a televised Senate investigation of the Army-McCarthy conflict, McCarthy accused a young lawyer working for Army counsel Joseph Welch of being affiliated with communism. After McCarthy repeatedly pressed his accusations, Welch savaged McCarthy: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch’s indignation broke the spell McCarthy had cast upon the nation and ended his political career.
Perhaps this latest wolf snuff photo will bring a similar kind of justice and force the public to declare, in no uncertain terms, that wolf killing is un-American. Maybe it will force people to ask: When will this indecent killing come to an end?
P.S. This is what it would look like if wolf management was left to stateside hunter’s association groups and not in federal care! I’m in no way claiming that USFWS have no faults but I’m quite sure that the U.S. would have even more trouble with poaching, trapping etc, than they do today. This is my personal opinion. Colbby and Codi Gines Facebook page does not exist anymore, although their website does: http://www.cgwildernessadventures.com/index.php?page=home
I took it upon myself to write a shocontact infort e-mail to them in which I conveyed my own point of view to them and how utterly disgusting I think their line of business is. If there is anyone else out there who feel like doing the same you will find their contact info on the last page.
It makes me sick to see such a majestic animal murdered in cold blood!