January 18, 2017
Senators from Midwest and Wyoming introduce bill to strip protections from endangered gray wolves
NAGEL PHOTOGRAPHY / SHUTTERSTOCK
“This “War on Wolves Act” would allow for the same unregulated killing that nearly wiped out the species in the first place.”
December 16, 2015
(credit: Jupiter Images)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal that would have taken gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list did not make it into a massive year-end congressional tax and spending package, an omission that surprised its backers but was welcomed Wednesday by groups that support maintaining federal protections for the predators.
U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, Reid Ribble, R-Wisconsin, and some other lawmakers had hoped to attach a rider to return management of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming to the states, which could have opened the door to a resumption of wolf hunting in those places. The provision would have undone federal court decisions that restored the animals’ protected status in the four states despite repeated efforts by the federal government to remove them from the list.
Peterson said budget negotiators dropped the provision from the final bill, which was unveiled late Tuesday, because the White House had threatened a veto if the bill contained any changes to the Endangered Species Act.
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” Peterson said. “We thought it wasn’t going to be a problem because the Fish and Wildlife Service was supporting it.”
Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said supporters will have to regroup and decide on their next step. He said a stand-alone bill probably could pass the House but he’s not sure about the Senate. It’s also possible an appeals court could overturn the lower court decisions, he added.
While livestock interests supported removing federal protections for wolves, wildlife groups lobbied against it.
“It certainly was a pleasant surprise,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Backers of the rider were trying to use a tactic that succeeded in 2011 when Congress removed wolves in Idaho, Montana and sections of Utah, Washington and Oregon from the list.
“Cooler heads prevailed in Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He said a letter written by Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, and signed by 23 other senators including Gary Peters, D-Michigan, helped make the difference.
The combined wolf population in the western Great Lakes region is estimated at 3,700, including about 2,200 in Minnesota, while Wyoming has around 333.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled last December that the western Great Lakes states didn’t have suitable plans to safeguard wolves, and that the animals haven’t come close to repopulating their former range. Her decision prevented Minnesota and Wisconsin from holding sport wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall. Michigan hasn’t held a hunt since 2013. Another federal judge issued a similar decision in September 2014 in a Wyoming case.
The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal.
The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.”
A similar appeal is pending in the Wyoming case. Pacelle said his group, which filed the lawsuit in the Midwest case, will keep up the fight.
“This is not the end of the process, but it’s a good outcome because Congress is showing restraint and not trying to cherry-pick a species and remove it from the list of endangered animals,” Pacelle said.
Source / CBS Minnesota
From: Duluth News Tribune
February 22nd, 2015 by Lisa Herthel-Hendrickson
Much of what’s in the media regarding wolf hunting is propaganda. “Propaganda” is biased with undertones promoting a particular cause. The statement in a Jan. 14 letter that “city people don’t understand wolves” was propaganda at its finest. The assertion was narrow, lacked credibility and failed to consider the larger picture.
I rarely see mentions of the complexities surrounding pack instincts and wolf communities. Killing one wolf impacts a larger system. Are we as a civilized culture defending practices that have devastating repercussions on ecosystems based on the premise humans are a superior life form responsible for population control?
I have lived in rural Minnesota most of my life and now live in Duluth. In 15 years I’ve seen two wolves. Recently, a colleague caught a glimpse of a lone wolf in her yard that frightened off when she approached. Wolves are shy and elusive creatures. Rumors and misinformation abound.
Sport and population-control hunting causes an increase, not a decrease, in livestock and pet predation. Individual wolves, especially pups, depend on their pack (and not just the alpha, contrary to popular belief) to learn hunting and social skills required for survival. Wolves are more likely to prey on easier targets such as domesticated or livestock animals when their packs are compromised.
Under the recent federal ruling, it remains legal for an individual to kill wolves deemed a threat to human life. Even a perceived threat suffices. No one challenges the right of livestock owners to kill wolves posing a threat to their livestock.
I raise the question: What’s the wolf hunt actually about? In northern Minnesota, where anti-wolf sentiment is on the verge of hysteria, I can’t help but believe it’s about human predators perpetuating values that disrespect natural order and fellow species important to intricate ecological systems of life.
From: Wadena Pioneer Journal
Jan. 02, 2015 by Erik Osberg
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association said they are “deeply discouraged at the recent ruling. Our position has been and continues to be in support of the Minnesota DNR‘s management of the wolf population based on factual science though hunting and trapping. We will be watching the courts and advocating for a reversal of this decision.”
Conversely, Howling For Wolves Founder and President Dr. Maureen Hackett called the ruling “exciting news for the survival of the gray wolf population, which is a vital part of our ecology. We’re glad the reckless and unnecessary wolf hunt in Minnesota is over this year, and hope smart non-lethal wolf management strategies will be implemented in the future.”
So who’s right? And where do we go from here? I was fortunate enough to be part of a conference call that included some of the world’s top wolf experts. Including: Dr. L. David Mech, senior research scientist, U.S. Department of the Interior, author and vice chair of the International Wolf Center, retired Wisconsin DNR wolf biologist Dick Thiel and Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund and project leader for wolf restoration in Yellowstone National Park.
The panel stopped short of saying whether the ban was a good or bad thing, but each offered what they feared would happen and what they felt should happen. The general consensus was that the gray wolf population in in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is healthy. They cited numbers suggesting the population in these three states is above the levels that were to be achieved in the restoration process. However, Mike Phillips said he believes the court ruled as they did is because when one looks at the entire lower 48 states, the gray wolf only “inhabits 15 percent of it’s historical range,” or to put it another way, “the gray wolf is absent from 85 percent of it’s historical range.” But is it realistic to think the wolf population can be restored to its “historical range?” Dick Thiel pointed out that if we were to try to restore the Bison population to its “historical range” there would be Bison in our wheat fields. It was suggested that the goal for the wolf population management should be that they inhabit a “significant portion of range where habitat is suitable.”
The panel all expressed a concern for an increase in the illegal taking of wolves because of the ruling. They went on to say they believe that is the last thing hunters would want to do.
Perhaps the most unfortunate part in this saga is the fact that the whole situation seems to be a series of bureaucratic semantics and unreasonable logic. And there is plenty of blame to go around. Phillips pointed out that on page 95 of the official ruling the Judge cited a lack of U.S. Fish and Wildlife due diligence. The panel all agreed they hoped for a reasonable coordinated national solution.
Caught in the middle of all of this are people like Matthew Breuer of North Country Guide Service and Promotions. Matt makes his living in the great Northwoods and says he sees the impact of wolves all around him. According to Breuer: “The wolf population in Minnesota is getting borderline out of control. During the late portion of the hunting and trapping season for timberwolves the season ended abruptly due to people doing so well harvesting them. That alone should tell us that the population is beyond the DNR’s target number of wolves in the state. They are a beautiful and majestic creature, but people need to keep the harsh reality in mind… wolves are predators, and they destroy deer and moose populations when not kept in check. Not to mention that they will readily kill a hunting dog if they cross paths. I’ve seen wolves in the wild, I’ve watched them hunt, I’ve come across dozens of wolf kills. People who have only seen wolves on TV or the internet should not seal the fate of those who live amongst them.”
Outdoor Report’s Erik Osberg and Wes Gall contributed to this story.
From: The Humane Society of the United States
Dec. 19, 2014 by Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; email@example.com
Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over
Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of wildlife protection groups, including Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the USFWS’s premature December 2011 delisting decision. The decision threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region—where state politicians and agency officials have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.
Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said, “In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”
In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species. The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.
Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt ended this year after killing 154 wolves – 80 percent of them in leghold traps. And in Minnesota, 272 gray wolves were killed – 84 percent of the wolves in this year’s late season were trapped.
The Michigan legislature also passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. However, in response to a referendum campaign launched by The HSUS and other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, the 2014 wolf hunt was canceled and voters in Michigan soundly rejected sport hunting of wolves in the recent November election.
Despite rhetoric from state politicians about wolf depredation of livestock, a new study of 25 years of wolf data has shown that hunting wolves may increase livestock losses. Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season, and had to apologize for misleading statements.
Today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows another ruling by the same court in September that rejected the USFWS’s decision to delist wolves in the State of Wyoming. The HSUS was also a plaintiff in the Wyoming litigation.
The plaintiffs in the Great Lakes lawsuit were represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.
Dec. 09, 2014
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Department of Natural Resources is closing the late wolf season a second hunting zone, where hunters and trappers have exceeded the season target.
Hunters and trappers in the northwest zone had registered 96 wolves killed by late Tuesday afternoon, 14 more than the zone’s nonbinding target of 82. DNR wolf specialist Dan Stark says it’s not clear why there’s been a surge since late last week.
The northwest zone streches from northwestern Minnesota to western St. Louis County, including all of Itasca and Koochiching counties.
The DNR last Friday closed the northeast zone, where hunters and trappers registered 40 wolves, five over the zone’s target of 35. The small east-central zone remains open. One wolf has been registered there with a target of nine.
Late-season hunters and trappers have now registered 133 wolves statewide. Hunters killed 124 in Minnesota’s early hunting-only season.
The combined statewide harvest target was 250.