Wolves are being massacred in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
In the most recent hunting and trapping season alone, these three states slaughtered more than 700 wolves by brutal means like strangulation snares.
At least 25 of them were killed simply for stepping outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park, where they’re safe. Pups as young as eight months old were executed.
It’s taken decades for Yellowstone’s wolves to regain a foothold in the wildlands surrounding this cherished landscape. But a wave of cruel policies enacted by states in the northern Rockies have unleashed the worst massacre of the region’s wolves in 100 years.
The Center for Biological Diversity fought tooth and nail to restore protection to wolves across the lower 48 states, but that restored protection excluded wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. So we’re doing all we can to save them, too.
Without federal protection, more wolf packs in the state will be decimated, more packs will be torn apart and more pups will be killed sleeping in their dens.
But there’s hope: The Biden administration can save the wolves who remain.
The Center filed an emergency petition to protect northern Rocky Mountains wolves under the Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service missed its deadline to respond. So now we’re in court to save these intelligent, social animals, who are crucial to helping their ecosystems thrive.
Entrusting wolf management to states has resulted in a bloody war on wolves.
Idaho and Montana both passed laws aimed at liquidating their wolf populations. In Idaho hunters, trappers, and private contractors can kill up to 90% of the state’s estimated 1,337 wolves, using cruel hunting methods that used to be illegal — and should be again — including chasing wolves down with hounds and snowmobiles.
In Montana new rules may open the door to killing about 85% of its 1,100 to 1,200 wolves.
We haven’t come all this way to save wolves just to see rogue states wipe them out.
The best way to save these wolves is to protect them under the Endangered Species Act and we are calling on Biden’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make that happen.
Will you join us?
Tell the Service to immediately restore protection to wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
At the start of 2022, most gray wolves across the lower 48 states were void of federal protection, save for a small Mexican gray wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico.
But that changed in February when a federal judge struck down a Trump-era delisting rule to restore Endangered Species Act protections to thousands of wolves. While this was a massive victory in protecting wolves, the decision reinstated federal protections in only 44 of the 48 contiguous states.
The ruling didn’t apply to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where the war on wolves is ongoing and being waged most intensely. Especially since 2021, when emboldened politicians in Montana and Idaho passed a slew of controversial laws and regulations. All of which were actively aimed at decreasing the wolf population with longer hunting seasons, higher limits, and year-round trapping seasons.
They legalized snaring, hunting wolves at night on private land, killing newborn pups and nursing mothers, reimbursement payments for killing wolves, and even using snowmobiles and ATVs to chase down wolves to kill them. In Montana alone, hunters responded during the 2021-2022 season by killing 273 wolves, including Yellowstone wolves, considered the “most-viewed” wolves worldwide.
Montana and Idaho’s newly enacted policies were not going unnoticed by wildlife advocates nationwide, and after two petitions were filed to list these wolves, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responded. In September 2021, the federal agency acknowledged these wolves’ grave challenges and initiated a 12-month status review of wolves in the western United States, stating that “a listing action may be warranted.”
Although it’s been over a year, USFWS has maintained radio silence. Wildlife advocates have continued to fight tirelessly, with some measures of success, but the fight is still ongoing, and there’s a clear path for you to help that fight.
Join us in calling for the Biden administration to enact an emergency listing of wolves in the Northern Rockies.
In a world where we increasingly understand the importance of predators and our ability to coexist, the Biden administration mustn’t continue to turn a blind eye to what is happening in states bent on delegitimizing science and killing wolves.
Wolf recovery requires us to develop a healthy relationship with wolves and each other. We must recognize the ecological importance of wolves, advance non-lethal measures to help foster coexistence with them, and refrain from unjustified persecution.
Urge the Biden administration to immediately issue emergency relisting protections for wolves in the western United States.
President Joseph ‘Joe’ R. Biden
Secretary Deb Haaland
Director Martha Williams
Please immediately enact an emergency listing of wolves in the western U.S.
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a lifelong supporter of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and someone who cares deeply for our nation’s wolves and wildlife, I am writing to urge the Department of the Interior to enact an emergency listing of wolves in the western United States.
Wolves are a critical keystone species, and the extirpation of wolves and large carnivores from large portions of the landscape is a global phenomenon with broad ecological consequences. A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that top predators play critical roles in maintaining a diversity of other wildlife species and, as such, the composition, function, and resilience of ecosystems.
Yet wolves in the Northern Rockies have faced brutal attacks from increasingly extreme and controversial hunting legislation in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
Wyoming allows a virtually unrestricted hunt. Montana has authorized hunters to slaughter up to 85% of its wolves and even permits baiting, trapping, and hunting on the border of Yellowstone National Park. And in Idaho, where the state is offering a bounty of up to $2,500 for each wolf killed, hunters may slaughter up to 90% of the state’s wolf population using unethical hunting practices such as snaring and even using snowmobiles and ATVs to chase down wolves to kill them.
These extreme hunts have been highly controversial and particularly detrimental to wolves residing in Yellowstone National Park. The 2021 decision to eliminate quotas in areas surrounding Yellowstone brought a sizeable increase in the death toll of Yellowstone’s wolves. Hunters killed at least 25 park wolves during the 2021-2022 season, including several members of the “most-viewed” wolf pack in the world.
The Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Obama has called on the Biden administration for an emergency listing. He stated in an Op-Ed that “what is happening in Idaho and Montana is not hunting. It is pure, unbridled cruelty,” and called out their extreme wolf management policies as “ecocide.”
It’s past time to bring our wildlife policies into the 21st century.
Wolf recovery requires us to develop a healthy relationship with wolves and each other. We must recognize the ecological importance of wolves, advance non-lethal measures to help foster coexistence with them, and refrain from unjustified persecution.
The Department of the Interior has the authority to enact an emergency relisting. I urge you to immediately issue an emergency regulation to restore federal protections through the Endangered Species Act to the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS of the gray wolf.
In a world where we increasingly understand the importance of predators and our ability to coexist, you mustn’t continue to turn a blind eye to what is happening in states bent on delegitimizing science and killing wolves. I’m counting on you to enact an emergency relisting immediately.
2 minute readNovember 29, 20223:32 PM ESTLast Updated an hour ago
Conservation group says U.S. should assess status of endangered wolves
Iconic predator is still threatened by loss of habitat and conflict with humans, group say
(Reuters) – The Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to prepare a plan to protect endangered gray wolves, arguing the agency has repeatedly attempted to remove protections for the animal despite persistent threats from loss of habitat and human conflict.
The environmental group said in a lawsuit filed in District of Columbia federal court the agency has never developed a nationwide plan to guide recovery efforts for the wolf, which are now listed as endangered, despite a requirement that it do so in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Instead of drafting an adequate protection plan, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said the government in recent years has attempted to remove protections only to be blocked by the courts. In 2020, the Trump administration said the wolves had adequately recovered and moved to remove protections, which opponents said appeared to be an attempt to win over Midwestern voters days before that year’s election.
The lawsuit seeks to force the government to develop such a plan and to conduct a long overdue status review, which is required every five years by the ESA.
“The Service can’t rely on its outdated, unambitious, and piecemeal approach to wolf recovery any longer,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the CBD, in a statement.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing protections after the last status review, conducted in 2012, and in 2020 issued a final rule doing so, according to the lawsuit. That final rule was challenged in court by CBD and other environmental groups, and a D.C. appeals court vacated that ruling earlier this year.
The wolves occupy less than 15% of their historical range in the contiguous United States with a total population of likely less than 7,000 individuals, according to CBD. The group said that represents an improvement since 1978, but that “grave threats remain.”
Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. Haaland, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:22-cv-03588.
Martha Williams is at a crossroads. As director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act, Williams is arguably the most important official in Washington for saving wildlife amid the ongoing mass extinction crisis. Last year, her agency announced a review to determine whether wolves in the Northern Rockies should regain federal protection under the landmark statute after Montana and Idaho launched the most aggressive wolf hunts in recent history.
The circumstances would be delicate for any director. While the presence of wolves has been a battle in the West’s culture war for generations, the fight has taken on an intensity unlike anything the region has seen since the animals were first reintroduced there in the 1990s. For Williams, the assessment has added significance requiring her to delve into her own past as the head of Montana’s game agency.
Williams’s review is probing the conduct, regulations, and science of a department she once led and shaped, in a state she still calls home. As a top attorney and later as a director, Williams’s career is defined by her years in Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks, better known as FWP. Across a decade and half of service, Williams earned respect on both sides of the wolf wars and helped craft a legal framework for protecting the state’s most political animal. Now a top federal official, Williams’s supporters are pulling her in divergent directions, while critics are questioning her credentials and calling on her to step down entirely.
Last year’s changes in wolf hunting and trapping regulations were felt particularly hard in Yellowstone National Park, which weathered its deadliest season in living memory. With a new Montana wolf hunting season underway and park researchers studying the unprecedented levels of human-caused mortality, the deadline for the federal government’s review has now passed, and environmental groups have filed suit demanding that Williams take action.
Two policy decisions from Williams’s Montana years are central to the assessments she is making in her Endangered Species Act review. The first has to do with how wolf populations in the region are estimated. The second is the unique category that wolves occupy under Montana law: Originally designed as a protection during Williams’s years as an FWP attorney, the special category paradoxically made wolves more vulnerable to controversial hunting techniques following her tenure as FWP director.
“What Montana has done is they basically turned that regulatory mechanism on its head, and they are now using it effectively as a threat to wolves, not as a protection,” Dan MacNulty, associate professor of wildland resources at Utah State University, told me. “That’s very concerning, and I think it should concern the Fish and Wildlife Service in terms of whether or not Montana is living up to the commitment it made with respect to that delisting rule.”
Fish and Wildlife Service announced the review of a petition to relist wolves in the Northern Rockies in September 2021, eight months after Williams had become the agency’s acting leader. The review followed dramatic regional changes in state hunting and trapping regulations. Under pressure from environmental organizations to appoint a confirmed leader at FWS, President Joe Biden nominated Williams the following month. The nomination was celebrated by both environmental groups and an array of hunting interests. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, and Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, bothurged their colleagues to vote for confirmation.
Dave Parsons, a retired wildlife biologist who led the FWS reintroduction of wolves in the Southwest in the 1990s, was one of the few voices of public dissent. For nearly a year, Parsons, along with Bob Aland, a retired attorney and environmental activist, have been waging a two-man campaign to remove Williams from the position. The reason, they argue, is that she is unqualified under the law. Federal statute requires that the director of FWS have “scientific education and experience” and be knowledgeable in “the principles of fisheries and wildlife management.”
While Williams’s experience is undeniable, her educational background is in philosophy and law, not science. “My primary concern on the surface is not her as an individual,” Parsons told me. “My interest is saving the agency from this now dark path, where the precedent has been set that you can put in a person without biological credentials in violation of the law.”
The issue has come up before. In 2018, Greg Sheehan stepped down as principal deputy director of FWS under President Donald Trump after then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sought to have him take full leadership of the agency. Zinke’s effort failed due to Sheehan’s lack of a science degree. How Williams navigated the requirement is unclear. (FWS declined to make the director available for an interview or to comment on the appointment.)
In December, Parsons wrote an op-ed describing how every FWS director going back to the Nixon administration had met the scientific education requirement. “I’m trying to save my old agency, for crying out loud,” he said. “Try to imagine Trump Act II and that law just thrown under the rug.”
In the weeks leading up to Williams’s confirmation hearing, he and Aland informed aides on Capitol Hill that Williams lacked a scientific background. They contacted the White House, the Department of the Interior, and FWS.
When Williams appeared before lawmakers in November, the issue never came up. She was confirmed in a bipartisan 16-to-4 vote in February.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams speaking at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, in Washington, D.C., in November 2021.
Photo: Michael Brochstein/Sipa via AP Images
was the culmination of a long career enmeshed in the legal wrangling surrounding wolves and the Endangered Species Act.
Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho under the law in 1995, after a government extermination campaign led to their near-total extirpation decades before. Williams joined Montana’s game agency three years later and, over the next decade and a half, represented the state in its delisting efforts.
Under the terms laid out by FWS, wolves in the Northern Rockies — Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming — would be considered recovered once there were 30 breeding pairs raising at least two pups each for three consecutive years. In 2002, the agency announced that the criteria had been met. Before the transfer of management authority could happen, however, the states needed to prove that they had a regulatory framework in place to support continued wolf recovery.
The first wolf arrives at Yellowstone National Park in a pen carried by, from left, Mike Phillips, Yellowstone Wolf Project leader; Jim Evanoff, Yellowstone environmental protection specialist; Molly Beattie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director; Mike Finley, Yellowstone superintendent; and Bruce Babbitt, secretary of the interior, in January 1995. Photo: Jim Peaco/NPS
In Montana, the solution Williams and her colleagues came up with was to categorize wolves as a “species in need of management.” The special designation had surfaced a year before, in a bill passed by the Montana Senate, which aimed to carve out a space for wolves once they were removed from the state’s endangered species list.
Categories are key to wildlife governance. Generally, “game” animals, like elk or deer, can be hunted but not trapped, while “furbearers,” like otters or bobcats, can be trapped but not hunted. In many states, “predators,” like coyotes, can be killed anytime, anywhere without a license or a defined season. In a 2003 environmental impact statement that Williams consulted on, Montana made the case that wolves would stand apart as a “species in need of management,” receiving “full protection” as a non-game animal. Once wolves were recovered, the state’s game commissioners would decide which of Montana’s more conventional categories fit the animals best.
In 2009, the Obama administration announced the delisting of wolves in Montana and Idaho, but not Wyoming, which continually failed to come up with a plan that didn’t involve treating the animals as predators that could be shot on sight. “Montana did an outstanding job of describing, in detail, its regulatory framework and its commitment to wolf management,” FWS noted in its rule.
The delisting was immediately challenged and in 2010 struck down by a federal judge.
Williams was recruited to her first Interior Department stint the following year. She had once again joined a government agency facing a historic moment for wolves. That same year, Tester, the Democratic senator from Montana, attached a rider to a federal budget bill that reversed the court’s decision to reject delisting and prohibited any other judge from undoing the reversal. The move was unprecedented and political: Tester was up for reelection in one of the most important races of 2012, facing an opponent who claimed that he was out of touch with rural voters on the wolf issue.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., walks through the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 6, 2022.
Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tester won the race, and wolves have been off the Endangered Species List in Montana ever since. Williams returned to her home state as a law professor at the University of Montana soon after. In 2017, she was nominated by then-Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to serve as director of Montana’s FWP, the first woman in the position.
Williams created a review committee in 2018 to study whether the array of hunting and trapping regulations that FWP produced each year were in line with state law. She also presided over the implementation of a new model for estimating wolf populations in the state. Both efforts would play key roles in the wolf review she is now overseeing as director of the nation’s most important wildlife agency.
Aimee Hawkaluk was a staff attorney at FWP from 2012 until January of this year. She served on the committee that Williams convened to review regulations. Speaking in a personal capacity and not as a representative of her former or current employer, Hawkaluk said the committee ultimately determined that years of wolf hunting and trapping regulations in Montana misrepresented the law, and that the problem related to the “species in need of management” categorization developed in the early 2000s.
The original idea was that wolves would have a higher degree of protection until they were recovered, at which point they would be reclassified as a furbearer or game animal. “That’s never happened,” Hawkaluk told me, “so they’re just kind of stuck in limbo as a species in need of management.”
The upshot was significant. Following the 2009 delisting, FWP issued regulations each year explaining to hunters and trappers what they could and could not do in pursuit of wolves. Among the prohibitions were the use of aircraft and radio telemetry equipment — the kind of gear biologists use to find and monitor wildlife. Those prohibitions, however, were effectively copied from the state’s game animal regulations. As a non-game species in need of management, wolves did not have those protections, Williams’s committee determined. In the department’s view, the warnings amounted to an ongoing, decadelong mistake.
The review committee conducted its work over two years, reaching some of the critical conclusions on the technology that could be used to hunt wolves after Williams packed up for her return to Washington in 2021. The timing was critical. Despite the many opportunities already offered under the law, Republican lawmakers and a subset of hunters and trappers had long argued that Montana’s regulations did not go far enough. They agitated for wolves to be treated as predators that could be killed with little restriction.
“I had a bill that was going to place wolves on the predator list — make them a predator, just treat them as predator,” Bob Brown, a Montana state senator, said at an FWP Committee hearing last year. But after speaking with the governor’s office, FWP, and others, he concluded it was not the right approach “because it could lead to relisting.” Instead, the senator introduced legislation to slash Montana’s wolf population by giving hunters and trappers the authority to kill an unlimited number of wolves using bait, snares, and, on private land, authority to hunt at night with bright lights and night-vision goggles.
“I think a lot of folks of whatever view on wolves are probably a bit concerned about opening the can of worms. And so here we stand.”
It was the kind of extreme proposal that normally died on the governor’s desk in Montana, but things had changed the previous fall. Voters elected Greg Gianforte as Montana’s first Republican governor in a decade and half. Gianforte stacked the most important posts in Montana’s wildlife decision-making apparatus — from Williams’s old job atop FWP to the commissioners who create policy for the department — with campaign contributors, a former running mate, and representatives of aggressively pro-wolf hunting interests. He then went on to sign Brown’s bill and a half dozen other measures targeting the state’s most iconic predator.
In response, nearly three dozen veteran Montana wildlife managers, many of them Williams’s former FWP colleagues, published an essay decrying Montana’s “anti-predator hysteria” and the “partisan political intervention that overturned decades of sound wildlife policy.”
Despite the pushback, Gianforte’s commissioners approved the most aggressive regulations in recent Montana history for last winter’s wolf hunt. At the same time, the results of Williams’s review committee came to fruition in the form of the state’s 2021 wolf regulations.
Advocacy organizations soon noticed the prohibition on aerial hunting had disappeared and called on a Montana judge to issue an injunction to stop the practice. At a court hearing in February, Hawkaluk described how Williams’s review committee concluded that wolves were not in fact protected from aerial hunting under state law. (The practice remained illegal under a federal statute, though FWP’s regulations omitted that fact.)
The original idea of a “species in need of management” had been twisted beyond recognition. Instead of bestowing protections, the designation made the animals vulnerable to a tactic used for the culling of feral hogs. “It doesn’t seem to fit what that law was created to do,” Hawkaluk told me, reiterating that she was speaking for herself.
For Hawkaluk, the trajectory of wolves within Montana’s bureaucracy reflects the contentious politics that surrounds the animals. “I think it’s just so convoluted now that it would take an overhaul to crack that, and I think a lot of folks of whatever view on wolves are probably a bit concerned about opening the can of worms,” she said. “And so here we stand.”
Aerial hunting wasn’t the only tactic to disappear from Montana’s regulations last year. Without public notice, the prohibition against using radio telemetry equipment was also gone. There is at least some evidence that hunters may have attempted to take advantage of the new opportunity.
Early one morning last February, a group of ecotourism guides gathered with their clients north of Yellowstone National Park’s boundary line. They were hoping to spot a mountain lion when a flash of unusual human activity caught their attention instead.
A man had pulled up in a pickup truck. He parked, stepped out of the vehicle, and raised above his head what looked like a radio antenna. He had neither the uniform nor the vehicle of a government official. As the truck pulled away, a third guide recognized the driver as one of the area’s most well-known proponents of aggressive wolf hunting north of Yellowstone.
The guides were concerned. By that point, hunters and trappers had killed an unprecedented 19 of the park’s wolves, many in and around the area where they now stood. The guides sent witness statements to an FWP game warden. When I visited Yellowstone in late May, word of the incident had spread among the park’s research and touring community. I interviewed the guides and reviewed their statements to FWP, then asked the department about the claims and whether hunting wolves with telemetry equipment was now legal.
“FWP game wardens looked into the report and found no functional telemetry equipment or evidence of violation,” Morgan E. Jacobsen, a spokesperson for FWP’s southwest region, said in an email in July. As for using telemetry in wolf hunts, Jacobsen added: “This would not be lawful while in the act of hunting under Montana’s statute on two-way communication.”
In the portion of Montana that abuts Yellowstone Park, the death toll of 19 wolves marked a 342 percent increase from the previous decade’s annual average of four.
The following week, The Intercept published an investigation revealing that the final Yellowstone wolf to die in last winter’s hunt was a radio-collared animal, killed by a veteran backcountry park ranger in the same gulch where the guides had seen the hunter with the antenna. The ranger told me that, following his kill, he became the subject of a National Park Service investigation in which he and other Yellowstone law enforcement officials were accused — falsely, he said — of sharing location information on collared wolves with hunters outside the park. NPS declined to comment on the claims, citing an ongoing investigation. FWP, meanwhile, said its Helena-based special investigations unit was conducting a separate investigation into the wolf’s killing.
The day before the story broke, Brian Wakeling, FWP’s game management bureau chief, wrote to the guide who had recognized the hunter and explained that hunting wolves with telemetry gear was legal in Montana — contradicting the statement his colleague gave to The Intercept just six days earlier. “The department cannot enforce laws that are not applicable and did not wish to imply that the regulation applied to wolves,” Wakeling wrote.
Ecotourism guides weren’t the only ones concerned about the issue. On July 20, the day The Intercept’s wolf investigation went live, Cam Sholly, the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, sent a letter to Montana’s game commissioners arguing that using telemetry to hunt wolves violated the fair chase principle, which holds that human hunters do not take unfair advantage of nonhuman prey, and requested that “this prohibition be re-inserted into your regulations.”
Montana’s wolf season was over by that point. In the portion of the state that abuts Yellowstone Park — where longstanding quotas on wolf kills were eliminated entirely — the death toll of 19 wolves marked a 342 percent increase from the previous decade’s annual average of four.
Wolves at Blacktail Pond at Yellowstone National Park, in 2019.
Photo: Jim Peaco/NPS
At a Montana
House hearing last spring, Republican state Rep. Paul Fielder voiced support for Brown’s legislation to slash the state’s wolf population, pointing to a “new and improved model” for estimating those numbers, which he claimed showed an increase of approximately 300 animals.
Montana had “about” 1,164 wolves — a problem, Fielder argued, since the state’s wolf management plan referred to just 15 breeding pairs and 150 individual animals. “Basically, we have four times as many wolves in Montana as the wolf management plan calls for,” he said. “So what this bill does is it gives us some more tools to manage wolves, and we’re not talking about necessarily ethical management of them. We want to reduce wolf numbers.”
Fielder failed to note that the figures cited in the state’s management plan reflect a minimum threshold for the state’s wolf population. An official liaison between the Montana Trappers Association and FWP, the state lawmaker was in the middle of passing his own legislation expanding the “tools” — like indiscriminate neck snares — that could be employed in Montana’s not “necessarily ethical” campaign to kill hundreds of wolves.
How many wolves roam the Northern Rockies and whether state policies promote recovery are the central questions Williams’s endangered species review must consider. Few people have had as close a relationship to those questions as David Ausband.
As part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program, which partners graduate students and state fish and wildlife agencies for research and technical assistance purposes, Ausband is both a federal employee and a faculty member at the University of Idaho. Prior to taking the job in 2018, he was a senior wildlife research biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Before that, he worked in Montana in a USGS unit focused on wolf recovery post-delisting.
In the early days, Ausband explained, monitoring wolves in the Northern Rockies was straightforward. There were fewer packs and the ones that were on the landscape usually had collared members, which made them easier to find. As time went on, things got complicated. Wolves learned to avoid the traps researchers used and, with the legalized hunting, the breakup of packs became increasingly common. “It just got harder to keep collars out,” Ausband said.
With delisting, Montana and Idaho entered a five-year period of federal supervision to ensure the states were complying with the Endangered Species Act. Ausband was among a group of officials from Idaho, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park who gathered each year to sort out which packs belonged to which jurisdictions. Though the work was tedious, it was also critical. In annual reports required under the act, the experts highlighted the existence of “border packs” — as opposed to “resident packs” — whose potential for double-counting could throw off the accuracy of population estimates. There was a lot of wrangling to figure out whose packs were whose, Ausband said, but “they were explicitly accounted for.”
During the transition to state wolf management, Montana and Idaho relied on millions of dollars from the U.S. FWS for the resource-intensive work of monitoring radio collars in the field. As the supervisory period wore on, however, the money ran dry. “It was like a slow decay,” Ausband said. He added, “The states were trying to come up with new, cheaper ways to keep monitoring their population but that wouldn’t break the bank.”
The supervised delisting period and the resources that came with it ended in 2016. Williams returned to FWP as director the following year. With end of federal supervision, the efforts to sort out border packs ended too. “Each state estimates their own population and there’s really none of those debates about border packs anymore,” Ausband said. The question is not whether wolves migrating across state and international borders are being double-counted by the states, it’s to what degree and whether the double-counting has meaningfully impacted the statistics being trotted out by lawmakers to justify extraordinarily aggressive wolf hunts.
“It’s a great question, and I honestly can’t answer it,” Ausband said. “It’s a source of bias. How big it is, I don’t know.”
In 2020, during Williams’s final year as FWP’s director, Montana began using a new system to estimate its wolf population: the “integrated patch occupancy model” — iPOM, for short. Used only in Montana and only for wolves, iPOM was the state’s answer to the problem of diminished resources, supplementing reduced radio-collar tracking with an increased reliance on hunters reporting wolf sightings in the wild.
“The problem is that they don’t know if the hunters are sighting resident packs or nonresident packs,” said MacNulty, the Utah State University researcher. For the past year, MacNulty has delved deep into the modeling system that served as the basis for politicians’ calls to make deep cuts to the wolf population. If you don’t know how many wolves there are on the land, he asked, “then how are you going to evaluate the threats to that population?”
“We can’t take wolf recovery for granted. Because the people who want to see a reduction in the wolf numbers are very serious about it.”
MacNulty is not the only one concerned. In his letter over the summer, Sholly, the Yellowstone superintendent, described a “lack of scientific data and low confidence” in Montana’s wolf-counting methodologies. Scott Creel, a large carnivore population ecologist with Montana State University, has also found problems in the state’s model, describing “considerable doubt about the accuracy of population estimates from the iPOM” in a critique published last year.
In March, Daines, the Republican senator and proud backer of last winter’s wolf hunt, urged Williams to take bold action on the Endangered Species Act — not to relist wolves but to delist grizzly bears. In August, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the director for failing to meet the deadline in the wolf status review. Both Daines and the center supported Williams’s nomination, and both have vastly divergent expectations of the director now that she’s in power. Together their demands reflect the contentious state of predator politics in the Northern Rockies. At the center of that fight is the highly anticipated conclusion of Williams’s review.
For years, MacNulty believed that the region’s wolf population was secure. Right-wing politicians could push for predator-style management, but they were likely to fail. That’s no longer the case. Montana and Idaho now under legal obligation to reduce their wolf populations, and lawmakers have made clear their intent to cut those numbers to the bone.
“We can’t take wolf recovery for granted,” MacNulty said. “Because the people who want to see a reduction in the wolf numbers are very serious about it, and they’re using these flawed outputs to support their positions.”
Time will tell if Williams, another veteran of the West’s wolf wars, agrees.
Target: Deb Haaland, United States Secretary of the Interior
Goal: Demand all wolf hunting be banned to protect this important species.
A Montana woman, Amber Rose Barnes, reportedly bragged about killing what she “thought” to be a baby wolf. In a Facebook post, she apparently wrote how excited she was about the opportunity to “take another predator wolf pup,” seemingly expecting to be celebrated by the online community. However, in the extremely disturbing photos posted to accompany the text, one thing is made blatantly apparent—Barnes did not slaughter a wolf puppy, but instead, had seemingly hunted and skinned a domestic husky puppy.
Barnes is a part of a subculture of people who seemingly do not understand the ecological significance of these species—who apparently take pride in killing beautiful animals and are enabled to do so without any regard for the animals’ welfare by the law. While on February 10, 2022 several federal protections were reinstated for wolves in much of the contiguous United States, these protections were not restored in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region. This region, however, is the site where over 80% of wolf hunting occurs, with over 1,000 wolves being slaughtered here on a yearly basis.
Sign this petition to demand legislators restore vital protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies and prevent despicable people from partaking in their ruthless slaughter.
Dear Secretary Haaland,
A Montana woman by the name of Amber Rose Barnes reportedly killed and skinned a husky puppy by mistake when hunting for wolves. This incident comes after the decision earlier this year to restore federal protections for wolves in some—but not all—of the United States. These protections were not reinstated in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, where over 80% of wolf hunting occurs and over 1,000 wolves are slaughtered each year. We should not be encouraging people to commit unnecessary acts of violence against wolves. Not only are they beautiful, highly social creatures, but they are extremely important to the ecosystems of which they are a part and have formidable impacts on entire geographical regions.
We are asking you, Ms. Haaland, to protect wolves in all regions throughout the U.S. and stop allowing this bloodshed.
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WildEarth Guardians and our allies scored a major legal victory for gray wolves on February 10, 2022 when a federal court restored Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf across the lower 48 states after they were eliminated by Trump in 2020.
Unfortunately, the ruling does not apply to wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains because a 2011 Congressional rider stripped this wolf population of ESA protections and even stipulated the rider “shall not be subject to judicial review.”
Guardians and wolf advocates have filed an emergency petition to relist Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves under the ESA, but the Biden administration has refused to take action. Please write the Biden administration today, then share this action alert with your friends, family, and networks to have the biggest impact for wolves.
Photo Credit: Gray wolf photo by Jacob W. Frank/NPS; graphic element added by Gus O’Keefe
Despite a recent interpretation of Montana state law that aerial hunting of wolves is not prohibited, doing so runs afoul of federal law.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks argued in state District Court recently that state law does not prohibit aerial hunting of wolves. FWP’s arguments came as legal justification for the agency removing language from the state’s wolf regulations that had stated hunting wolves from aircraft was barred. The agency says that inclusion of that language in the regulations for a decade was an error.
In response to media reporting on the case, a number of readers pointed to federal law addressing aerial hunting. The Airborne Hunting Act of 1972 “prohibits shooting or attempting to shoot or harassing any bird, fish or other animal from aircraft except for certain specified reasons, including protection of wildlife, livestock and human life as authorized by a federal or state-issued license or permit.”
“It is accurate to say that, under the federal Airborne Hunting Act, hunting wolves or other animals from the air is prohibited in most circumstances,” Jessica Sutt, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in an email. “The law allows for permitted federal or state agents to shoot from aircraft for defined management purposes. The average person with a hunting license can’t shoot from an aircraft under AHA.”
In response to a question about the federal law, FWP spokesperson Greg Lemon wrote in an email, “The federal law that prohibits aerial hunting has an exception for state-permitted activities. We believe FWP (is) exempted from that law.”
In an effort to clarify the state’s position, the Montana State News Bureau asked the agency whether “permitted activities” meant licensed hunters could use aircraft. FWP spent more than a week in part doing legal analysis on the question, Lemon said, and replied on Wednesday: “Aerial recreational hunting of wolves is currently prohibited by federal law.”
Outside of state or federal agents shooting from the air, the federal law does come with exceptions that have led states to allow the public to shoot from the air under certain circumstances. Language in Montana and other state programs describes the activities as management for livestock or wildlife depredation.
The Montana Department of Livestock offers aerial hunting permits specifically for coyotes and foxes. Licensed pilots may purchase a permit via an application that includes a request from a livestock producer. The application specifies the permit does not allow shooting coyotes or foxes for recreational purposes.
Alaska developed “intensive management” programs for certain areas where it has determined moose or caribou populations are below desired levels. The public may apply for permits that allow a pilot and gunner to shoot wolves, or bears in some cases, from the air in an effort to bolster ungulate numbers. In several places, however, Alaska states that aerial hunting is prohibited outside of the intensive management areas and without the permit.
“These permits allow for aerial shooting by a backseat gunner,” one management plan states, as well as spotting wolves from the air, landing and immediately hunting.
Idaho uses language stating that recent efforts to expand methods of take for wolves do not include aerial hunting, citing the federal law.
“These expanded methods do not currently include aerial shooting of wolves, which is subject to the Federal Airborne Hunting Act and not allowed in Idaho,” according to Idaho Fish and Game. “If Idaho should allow aerial hunting of wolves, it would be specific to designated control actions and by permit from the Idaho Department of Agriculture, which is authorized through the Federal Airborne Hunting Act.”
The issue with Montana’s wolf hunting laws and regulations arose as FWP and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission are facing a lawsuit from two wildlife advocacy groups. The groups say they were denied the right to participate when FWP removed language that had previously appeared in wolf hunting and trapping regulations stating that aerial hunting was prohibited by a rule made by the commission. The groups argue in part that regulation changes should have gone through the open commission process rather than be done unilaterally by FWP.
According to testimony from a former FWP attorney, an agency review found the commission had not passed such a rule and likely lacked the authority to do so. The review concluded that the state Legislature, rather than the commission, would need to make a change in order to prohibit aerial hunting of wolves under state law, according to testimony.
The Montana Legislature has enacted state bans on aerial hunting for “big game” animals, such as elk and mountain lions, as well as “furbearers” like as bobcats and beavers. But wolves are legally defined by the state as a “species in need of management,” and the Legislature has not enacted a similar prohibition for wolves, state wildlife officials said in testimony and court documents.
The current wolf regulations do not mention the federal prohibition on aerial hunting. FWP does not have authority to enforce federal law but in some cases has passed rules and regulations through the commission shaped by federal law, such as regulations for hunting migratory birds, or a game warden having authority to write a ticket for driving off road on federal land.
Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies still face brutal slaughter
OAKLAND, CA—Today, a federal court restored Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf after they were eliminated by the Trump administration in 2020. The ruling orders the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to resume recovery efforts for the imperiled species. Today’s decision redesignates the gray wolf as a species threatened with extinction in the lower 48 states with the exception of the Northern Rockies population (map), for which wolf protections were removed by Congress in 2011.
The most recent data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its state partners show only an estimated 132 wolves in Washington state, 173 in Oregon (with only 19 outside of northeastern Oregon), and fewer than about 20 in California. Nevada, Utah, and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain functionally absent from their historical habitat in these states. In 2020, Colorado voters directed the state to reintroduce wolves by 2023.
“The nation has witnessed the brutality that happens when ‘management’ of wolves is returned to anti-wolf states like Montana and Idaho, which have implemented an aggressive eradication agenda, including surrounding Yellowstone National Park,” said Lindsay Larris, Wildlife Program director at WildEarth Guardians. “Restoring federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves is essential to their recovery throughout their historic range, so while we are thankful for this ruling we also call on Secretary Deb Haaland to issue emergency relisting protections for the Northern Rockies wolf population to halt the senseless slaughter taking place.”
“The science is clear that gray wolves have not yet recovered in the western U.S. By design, the Endangered Species Act does not provide the federal government the discretion to forsake western wolf recovery in some regions due to progress in other parts of the country,” said Kelly Nokes, Western Environmental Law Center attorney. “Today’s decision will bolster recovery of western wolves – a keystone species wherever they exist – and improve ecosystem health more broadly.”
From the decision: “…the Service did not adequately consider threats to wolves outside of these core populations. Instead, the Service avoids analyzing these wolves by concluding, with little explanation or analysis, that wolves outside of the core populations are not necessary to the recovery of the species… In so concluding, the Service avoided assessing the impact of delisting on these wolves.” Opinion at 11.
In delisting wolves, the Service ignored the science showing they are not recovered in the West. The Service concluded that because in its belief there are sufficient wolves in the Great Lakes states, it did not matter that wolves in the western U.S. are not yet recovered. The Endangered Species Act demands more, including restoring the species in the ample suitable habitats afforded by the wild public lands throughout the western U.S. Wolves are listed as endangered under state laws in Washington and California, and only occupy a small portion of available, suitable habitat in Oregon.
“This ruling is a huge win for wolves in states like California, Oregon, and Utah where they have yet to achieve stable, robust populations,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and executive director with Western Watersheds Project. “We are relieved to have staved off premature delisting with this case, but there is still a huge amount of work ahead to protect wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming where they face some of their biggest threats.”
The conservation groups have long been active on wolf recovery issues in the western U.S., including working with western states to develop science-based wolf management plans, mounting cases to rein in rogue federal government wolf-killing programs, promoting recovery efforts in the Southwest for critically imperiled Mexican gray wolves, and working with local governments and landowners to deploy non-lethal tools that prevent wolf-livestock conflicts.
“Over the past two winters, we lost icons of wolf recovery when OR-7 and his mate OR-94 passed away in southern Oregon’s Cascades. These two wolves represent the first generation of wolves in western Oregon in nearly a century,” said Michael Dotson with the conservation group Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center based in southwest Oregon. “Delisting is premature and obviously politically driven.”
“Wolves are an integral part in the health and resilience of western ecosystems,” said Adam Gebauer, Public Lands Program director at The Lands Council. “Local land managers, state wildlife offices and the federal government must work together and rely on science and not politics to ensure their recovery. Wolves are our allies in the conservation of wildlands.”
“Today’s victory injects hope and resources into ongoing efforts to restore wolves across their historic range,” said Bethany Cotton, conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands. “We look forward to engaging with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure wolf management is guided by sound science, not prejudice.”
“The politically driven delisting of wolves in the Northern Rockies by Congress incorrectly included all of eastern Washington, east of US Highway 97. It was an arbitrary decision then and it still is today,” said Timothy Coleman, director of Kettle Range Conservation Group and former member of the Washington state Wolf Advisory Group. “Eighty-five percent of wolves killed in Washington were from the Kettle River Range, where unfortunately the gray wolf is still at risk despite the court’s excellent decision. And though Washington has kept state endangered species protections for wolves, that clearly provides little protection. Had wolves retained federal Endangered Species Act protection, entire wolf families would not have been slaughtered and could have dispersed into unoccupied areas of the state with excellent habitat such as southwest Washington, Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park.”
“California’s wolves are just starting to return home,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Today’s decision means these animals will have the help of federal wildlife managers to establish a true foothold in their historic habitat in the state.”
“We must learn to coexist with gray wolves. These highly intelligent and social animals play a key role in balancing entire ecosystems,” said Kimberly Baker of the Klamath Forest Alliance. “Federal protection is paramount to safeguarding this nation’s rightful heritage.”
Unfortunately, today’s decision will do nothing to stop the ongoing slaughter of wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming—including surrounding Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. These states removed wolves’ endangered species protections via federal legislation. The current war on wolves in the northern Rockies shows the stark reality of what happens when “management” is turned over to states hostile to wolves.
In just the past few months, at least 23 Yellowstone wolves—more than 20% of the park’s entire wolf population—have been killed outside the park, causing widespread outrage and condemnation from Yellowstone National Park’s supervisor, wolf researchers, and wildlife professionals. Hunters in Montana and Idaho can lure wolves out of Yellowstone with bait, strangle them with snares, and shoot them at night on private land.
Both states have established wolf bounties and in Idaho it’s legal to run down a wolf with ATVs and snowmobiles. While celebrating today’s positive ruling for wolves, the groups also call on the Biden administration to immediately issue emergency relisting protections for the Northern Rockies population of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
The coalition of western wildlife advocates involved in this legal challenge includes WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Klamath Forest Alliance, and Kettle Range Conservation Group, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.
Maggie Howell is the executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center.
Wolves are being slaughtered with a zeal that goes beyond the typical thrill of the hunt. Last month, Oregon state police asked for help and nonprofits offered a reward of nearly $50,000 for leads in identifying the criminals who poisoned two wolf packs, killing eight of these noble creatures in one of the slowest, most horrific ways possible.
Such slaughters have ramped up since the Trump administration removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in October 2020. The change took effect in January 2021, leaving a patchwork of state regulations and wolf populations vulnerable not only to newly sanctioned hunting but to poaching, or illegal hunting, as well.
Meanwhile, states like Montana and Idaho have green-lit baiting and trapping and allow hunters to use vehicles — like ATVs and helicopters — to chase down wolves. In Idaho, hunters can use packs of dogs and shoot wolf pups in their dens. To encourage wolf hunting, the state will even reimburse hunters for as much as $2,500 in costs for each wolf killed, essentially offering a bounty. Though these types of hunting practices are banned for certain species, state governments have perplexingly decided to allow them for wolf hunts — policies that swiftly followed Trump’s removal of wolf protections, all led by Republican legislatures.
Opposition to protecting wolves tends to come from ranchers and some hunters, who see the wolves as threats to livestock and game. As Idaho State Senator Van Burtenshaw put it, “There’s a wave of wolves coming in, and we just want to slow that wave down, minimize our costs, and bring back the ranching family.” But data show that wolves can easily coexist with cattle, sheep, and other animals. There are many options for non-lethal wolf management, like erecting flags around cattle pens to scare off wolves. And the reality is that wolves are not a major threat: Studies show they are responsible for just 1 percent of livestock deaths (dogs are responsible for more losses than wolves). Meanwhile, ethical hunters who understand ecology appreciate wolves because they make deer and elk populations stronger by selecting for weaker members of the herd.
Unfortunately, wolf management is no longer simply a debate among farmers, ranchers, and wildlife conservationists. Wolves have become politicized. After Montana Governor Greg Gianforte illegally slaughtered a wolf last spring, Vox reporter Benji Jones noted that “The wolf debate doesn’t seem to have much to do with science-based management. Instead, it comes down to how people view wolves … and how their politics inform those views.”
What’s driving hunters to kill as many wolves as possible in the most torturous ways possible is another facet of our bitterly divided country. Gianforte trapped and killed a banded wolf that had wandered across the border from Yellowstone Park — he was in violation of a licensing requirement but received only a warning letter. This fall, he expressed his frustration with the federal government reconsidering wolf protections, tweeting, “We don’t need Washington coming in” to manage wolves. U.S. Representative Liz Cheney complained about “Efforts from the radical environmentalist left to re-list the Gray Wolf.” Wolves seem to have become a focal point for those railing against big government, a symbol of coastal elitism encroaching on rural values. When I talk to hunters from my home office in Westchester, New York, they will offer a version of “how would you feel if we put wolves in Central Park?”
In the wilderness, however, wolves are what’s called a keystone species, meaning they have a disproportionately large impact on their entire ecosystem. It only takes a few of these apex predators to effectively manage populations of deer, elk, and bison, which in turn ensures a healthy level of vegetation to sustain smaller animals like beavers, songbirds, and fish.
Prior to the 1900s, roughly a quarter of a million wolves thrived throughout the lower 48 states. Without really understanding the ecological consequences, settlers nearly killed them all by the mid-20th century, reducing their range to a small portion of the Great Lakes region. Thankfully, with the Endangered Species Act of 1973, we began giving this animal opportunities to recover.
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, scientists found they rejuvenated the landscape. Freed from predation for 70 years, the elk and bison populations had exploded. The aspen trees, willows, and cottonwoods were stripped bare, leaving nothing for the smaller animals, and the landscape degraded. Without the structure that trees and plants offered, the soil lost its integrity and riverbanks collapsed, redirecting waterways. Countless other animals vanished when the food they had depended on had been overgrazed. The return of the top predator kept those big herbivores moving, allowing habitats to rebound.
Each year, Yellowstone draws an estimated $35 million from people who visit specifically to see the wolves. Yet hunters have killed 23 during this winter’s hunting season; just 91 remain within the park.
The current anti-wolf frenzy is not based on economics, and it’s not based on science. It’s driven by something deeper and darker. Some of my peers have received anonymous emails with graphic photos of slaughtered wolves, and such pictures with celebratory comments are not uncommon on social media. Former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe, who supported lifting wolf hunting restrictions but has since called on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to authorize an emergency relisting, said, “What is happening in Idaho and Montana is not hunting. It is pure, unbridled cruelty.”
There was no valid scientific reason for delisting the gray wolf in the first place; it was purely a political move to mobilize Trump’s base days before the 2020 election. Biden can easily reverse this by emergency order. We don’t even need to wait for the year-long review being undertaken by U.S. Fish & Wildlife — the inhumane trophy hunting can be temporarily halted tomorrow.
The larger challenge will be helping people see the wolf as an ecosystem guardian rather than a fairytale villian. If people feel that the government is encroaching on their freedom, taking out anger on our country’s majestic animals won’t solve it.
The views expressed here reflect those of the author.
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“The initial investigation revealed that the wolf likely died as a result of being shot,” state police said. “The wolf, OR 106, was a two-year-old collared female. OR 106 was a lone wolf that dispersed from the Chesnimnus Pack.” (OSP)
A concerned citizen reported finding a dead wolf wearing a tracking collar January 8, 2022, on Parsnip Creek Road, southeast of Wallowa. The area is in the Sled Springs wildlife management unit.
Oregon State Police troopers and Oregon Department of Wildlife staff investigated.
“The initial investigation revealed that the wolf likely died as a result of being shot,” state police said. “The wolf, OR 106, was a two-year-old collared female. OR 106 was a lone wolf that dispersed from the Chesnimnus Pack.“
State police ask anyone with information in the case to call the Oregon State Police Tip-line at 1-800-452-7888, *OSP (*677), or email at TIP@state.or.us in reference to case #SP22006179.
People who turn in wolf poachers qualify for 5 preference points or a cash reward in Oregon.
Wolf advocates at the Center for Biological Diversity called on the state to investigate and hold the people responsible accountable, noting “only three illegal wolf killings in Oregon have resulted in a prosecution and conviction.”
“This wolf’s lonely death highlights why Oregon needs to establish a special prosecutor’s office for wildlife-related crime,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Oregon’s wolves are in extreme danger from illegal killings, and the killers often escape consequences. In the past 21 years, 30 wolves have been illegally killed, and the deaths of two others were deemed mysterious. The state needs to do much more to investigate and punish these sickening crimes.”
recipient: Barbara Pompili, France’s Minister of the Ecological Transition
In December of 2021, nine wolves tried to escape their small enclosures at Trois Vallées zoo. They didn’t pose any immediate threat to humans nearby, but simply destroyed safety hatches and climbed a fence. In fact, they never even left the zoo. But four were almost immediately shot dead for “dangerous behavior” by park workers. This is what happens when you run a zoo without animal welfare or safety concerns in mind — innocent animals end up dead.
Sign now to demand Barbara Pompili permanently shut down the Trois Vallées zoo!
This isn’t the first time Trois Vallées zoo has come under public scrutiny. In fact, just over a year ago, the zoo was ordered to close over animal, staff, and visitor safety concerns due to “security breaches,” but a court order allowed it to reopen. There is little evidence the zoo has taken any steps to improve the safety or wellbeing of the animals living at the zoo. Four dead wolves is the final straw.
Following the incident, the zoo is temporarily closed, but supposed to reopen in less than a month, according to its social media page. Now is the time for the Minister of the Ecological Transition to step up and shut down this dangerous zoo — which repeatedly shows a lack of concern for animal life and wellbeing – for good.
The blood of four dead wolves is on the hands of the zoo, and ultimately, Barbara Pompili if she does not act to stop this murderous institution from reopening. Sign now if you agree!
On October 25, 2021, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in favor of the wolf and halted the state’s wolf hunts scheduled to commence only 2 weeks later.
Idaho passed legislation in the spring of 2021 that incentivizes and sanctions the slaughter of 90% of Idaho’s wolf population using a variety of cruel tactics like chasing wolves with dogs and automobiles until they tire out.
In Montana, the state government has sanctioned the killing of up to 85% of its wolf population starting in fall 2021.
The new laws allow for the use of choke-hold snares and extend trapping and hunting further into breeding season. Montana Governor Gianforte personally slaughtered a Yellowstone wolf in violation of state law and was given a warning by state agencies. So far over 25 wolves have been confirmed to have been killed in Montana, including at least 3 Yellowstone wolves around the boundary of the park.
Nevertheless, Wyoming is allowing a virtually unregulated hunt in 2021. In 85% of the state– including regions that border Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park– hunters can slaughter wolves using “whatever means necessary,” including snares, explosives, and ATVS to capture and kill the animals.
Myths vs. Fact
The federal government consulted all relevant stakeholders when deciding to delist wolves
President Trump did not consult Indigenous representatives when he chose to delist wolves, even though wolves are sacred creatures in many Native American cultures. By delisting wolves without the consultation or consent of Tribal nations, the federal government ignored its treaty and trust obligations.
Non-lethal methods provide another option for addressing livestock depredations. Implementation of nonlethal tools, like range riders and fladry, which involves creating a perimeter of colorful flags around livestock, combined with other techniques like strobe lights and loud noises have effectively reduced interaction between livestock and wolves. However wolves can become habituated to nonlethal tools over time, therefore, proactive methods to prevent wolves from being attracted to a livestock operation – such as removing bone piles – can further minimize livestock loss to wolves.
Wolves threaten the livestock industry.
Wolves are killing all of the elk in the Northern Rockies, making it more difficult to hunt large game.
Wolves and elk can live in ecological balance, as predator-prey relationships stabilize the populations of both species. Elk naturally defend themselves from the risks of predation by adopting more cautious behaviors when faced with predators. These behavioral adaptations help sustain the elk population.
The wolf population has already bounced back to a stable size. As such, the species does not need the protections of the Endangered Species List.
While the wolf population has reached the recovery thresholds that were determined in 1978, these metrics are woefully outdated. As the field of conservation biology has evolved and climate change has posed new threats to endangered species, it is critical to update recovery thresholds according to modern science.
Dan Ashe, the former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director who oversaw the delisting of wolves in the Northern Rockies, has argued that the wolf population is in jeopardy because state hunts “are erasing progress made to conserve this species.” Ashe has publicly called for the federal government to reinstate protections for American wolves.
Data-driven science helps determine state wolf-hunt quotas in order to prevent massive population declines
Across the country, state legislatures have established wolf hunting quotas that ignore the recommendations of biologists and land managers.
In October 2020, the Trump Administration officially removed the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list as part of its broader goal of undermining and weakening the Endangered Species Act. Since then, states like Idaho and Montana have passed legislation that both allows and encourages the mass slaughter (up to 90%) of wolf populations.
The wolves that live in Norway and Sweden today are actually Finns, as extensive studies of their genetic make-up have shown.
Hunters wiped out the original Norwegian wolf population in the wild around 1970.
Solitary gray wolf / grey wolf (Canis lupus) hunting in the snow in forest in winter -Norway
“The original Norwegian-Swedish wolves probably had no genetic similarities with today’s wolves in Norway and Sweden,” says Hans Stenøien, director of the University Museum of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Stenøien is the lead author of a new report that looks at the genetic makeup of the Norwegian-Swedish wolf population in much more detail than has previously been the case.
“We did the largest genetic study on wolves in the world,” says Stenøien.
This is part of an extensive report on the wolf in Norway commissioned by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) in 2016. But by that…
PORTLAND, OREGON—Conservation and animal protection groups and individuals are offering a combined $42,977 reward for information leading to a conviction in the deliberate poisoning and killing of eight gray wolves in eastern Oregon earlier this year.
On Feb. 9 Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Troopers found the five members of the Catherine wolf pack — three male, two female — dead at a location southeast of Mount Harris in Union County. On March 11 troopers detected a mortality signal in the same location and found a slain wolf: a radio-collared female that had dispersed from the Keating pack.
Two more collared wolves were subsequently found dead in Union County. In April an adult male wolf from the Five Points pack was discovered west of Elgin, and in July a young female wolf from the Clark Creek pack was found northeast of La Grande.
According to the Oregon State Police, toxicology reports confirmed the presence of differing types of poison in both wolves. Investigators determined the death of the young female wolf may be related to the earlier six poisonings.
“Poisoning wildlife is a profoundly dangerous and serious crime, putting imperiled species, companion animals and people all at risk,” said Bethany Cotton, conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands. “We call on those with information about this reckless killing to come forward to protect Oregon’s wildlife and our communities.”
“These despicable poisonings are a huge setback for the recovery of Oregon’s endangered wolves, and we need an all-out response from state officials,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Catching the culprit is critical, but Oregon also needs to think hard about what more can be done to protect these incredibly vulnerable animals. We hope anyone with info on these killings steps forward, and we hope wildlife officials see this as a wake-up call.”
“This is a cowardly and despicable act,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, an Oregon based national wildlife advocacy nonprofit. “It is absolutely critical that the perpetrator of this crime be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The Oregon State Police should aggressively pursue all leads that will help bring the individual who carried out these atrocities to justice.”
“We are devastated by the egregious illegal poisoning and killing of the Catherine Pack and members of the Keating Pack, the Five Points Pack, and the Clark Creek Pack,” said Kelly Peterson, Oregon senior state director at the Humane Society of the United States. “These eight individuals had rich social lives and families that depended on them and contributed to the health and biological diversity of our environment. Wolves are one of the most misunderstood and persecuted species in North America; yet we know that Oregon’s wolves are beloved by the majority of Oregonians, and we urge anyone with information about the person or persons responsible for this heinous crime to come forward.”
“A majority of Oregonians are disgusted by poachers and those who would indiscriminately poison and kill wildlife,” said Danielle Moser, wildlife program coordinator at Oregon Wild. “Unfortunately, there remains a persistent culture of poaching in Oregon. This culture is emboldened by politicians and interest groups that demonize imperiled wildlife like wolves and then turn the other way when laws are broken. When people are told that native wildlife should be resented and feared, it’s no wonder they take matters into their own hands in the incredibly ugly fashion that we see here.”
“It is tragic that we are losing so many wolves in Oregon, as wolves continue to be lethally targeted both here and nationally,” said Lizzy Pennock of WildEarth Guardians. “The loss of these wolves, in addition to extensive lethal removals at the hands of the Department this year, is a stark reminder of the need to enhance proactive nonlethal measures in wolf management to foster coexistence.”
“We are furious and appalled. These poisonings are a significant blow to wolf recovery in Oregon. Such a targeted attack against these incredible creatures is unacceptable and we hope our reward will help bring the criminals who did this to justice,” said Sristi Kamal, senior northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife.
Anyone with information about this case should contact the Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888 or *OSP (677) or TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us. Callers may remain anonymous.
The $36,000 in combined rewards are offered by the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Oregon Wild, Predator Defense, WildEarth Guardians, Wolves of the Rockies, Trap Free Montana, The 06 Legacy Project, Hells Canyon Preservation, the Humane Society of the United States, and private donations.
This past year Montana’s governor and the Legislature, led by representative and trapper Paul Fielder from Thompson Falls, passed a series of reckless bills aimed at decimating the wolf population in our state, despite the fact we have record numbers of deer and elk requiring extra-long hunting seasons.
Testimony at the Legislature warned legislators that if they passed wolf slaughter bills, the federal government would intervene. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife is undertaking a 12-month review of the wolves’ status to determine relisting the wolves as endangered. Currently the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks — in desperate need of reform — has decided to allow anyone with a license to kill 20 wolves, 10 by shooting and 10 by trapping. Our state is sanctioning the torture and eradication of animals of tremendous intelligence and beauty. Destroying packs, which will lead to more livestock depredation, is designed to make wolves the cultural enemy.
But it’s not just Republicans who can hang their hat on this slaughter. If you examine the process, you can’t avoid seeing the handiwork of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. It is Sen. Tester who moved to delist wolves and return them to state control in 2011, an effort that has proven to be a disaster. But Tester has long seen his tough reelections dependent on killing wolves, not thriving wildlife. His actions against wolves are a disgrace and deserve more sunshine and less double talk.
Many people I have spoken with believe wolf protection flows through the Interior Department. That is true to a certain extent, but it seems clear that the Interior Secretary would like to reinstate protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho. The problem seems to be coming from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency that will soon have as its director a person shepherded by Jon Tester — Martha Williams, former director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Williams’ reign at FWP showed little support for wolves and more talk than action about moving the agency out of the stone age and into the real world of allowing species to be self-regulating. There was no action to curb the rampant power of the NRA and trophy hunting and trapping organizations that control the agency and directly fund its narrow mission.
Now, thanks to Tester, Williams will be appointed director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after only a few years in wildlife management. The reason is simple; Tester does not want wolves placed back in protection. Tester’s refusal to meet with constituents on this seems based on the mistaken belief that he understands the will of people across Montana on the issue of wolves.
Tester does not understand the love for, emotion and passion that people bring to the table in their support of wolves. His written responses to constituents are tone deaf to concerns. He ignores the financial power wolves generate for Montana.
It’s not easy to be hard on a senator who has done so much for Montana. His votes on infrastructure, health care and many important issues have been bold and important, but his efforts to stop the protection of wolves need to be challenged.
Wildlife is the real treasure of the Treasure State, and wolves are valuable not only economically and environmentally, but also for disease control. Chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis are on the rise. Can we really afford to destroy wolves, the only known defense?
Most Montanans, including ranchers, find the wolf slaughter repugnant. The time has come for leadership that allows wolves to coexist.
Senator Tester, this is your chance to get right with wolves.
Stephen Capra is executive director of Footloose Montana.
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – November is two weeks away, and with the new month comes the start of Wisconsin’s wolf hunt. But this hunt comes as a concern to conservationists and indigenous people after hunters exceeded the established wolf hunting quota last year.
In February, Wisconsin hosted its first legal wolf hunt in decades after gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list. But in the first several hours of the hunt, hunters killed nearly 100 more wolves than they were allotted. Now, the Ojibwe and conservations are suing the state to stop this year’s hunt all together.
Both groups allege the state Department of Natural Resources does not know the exact population of gray wolves, making it impossible to set a kill quota.
“There’s too much uncertainty in the wolf population count to be able to proceed,” said Michelle Lute, a National Carnivore Conservation Manager for Project Coyote — one of the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit.
The Natural Resources Board originally approved a quota of 300 wolves for the November hunt, but the DNR has the final say. On Oct. 5, the DNR approved a quota of 130 wolves for the hunt. But given last year’s runaway killings, the tribes and conservationists want to stop thsi year’s hunt all together.
“We have filed a motion for preliminary injunction,” explained Gussie Lord, a managing attorney for Earthjustice — who is representing the six Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin. “We are asking the federal court to stop the federal wolf hunt.”
Not only is the hunt a violation of the tribes’ off-reservation treaty rights, Lord says the Ojibwe also have a cultural and spiritual interest in protecting the state’s wolf population.
“The Ojibwe believe that what happens to the gray wolf happens to the Ojibwe,” Lord said. “What happens to the wolf happens to humanity. And so it’s important for the wolf to be healthy and regain its place in the landscape in Wisconsin.”
NBC15 reached out the DNR twice for an interview, but they declined to comment on the lawsuits.
According to the Associated Press, the DNR policy board voted not to hire outside attorneys during a closed session meeting.
BOISE, IDAHO—The Biden administration has defended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services’ actions in Idaho after the agency preemptively killed eight wolf pups from Idaho’s Timberline pack in response to complaints from a rancher grazing livestock on public lands.
“Killing these wolf pups was inhumane, unscientific, and indefensible,” said Joe Bushyhead with WildEarth Guardians. “Wolves face enough persecution in Idaho already at the hands of the state. The Biden administration should not be using federal resources to make a bad situation even worse.”
“We are shocked that the Biden administration condones the slaughter of weeks-old wolf pups on public lands at the behest of private livestock interests,” said Talasi Brooks of Western Watersheds Project. “Wolves–especially wolf pups–pose no significant threat to livestock.”
Conservation groups learned that Wildlife Services started pursuing the pack in May when an agent killed the first three pups at the densite. The agency killed five more pups over the next two months. Conservation groups urged USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop Wildlife Services from slaughtering weeks-old wolves on public lands. In yesterday’s letter, Secretary Vilsack rejected the request, responding that killing wolf pups is a “humane management option.”
“The mission of Wildlife Services ‘to improve the coexistence of people and wildlife’, not killing defenseless puppies in their den, especially when there are so many effective nonlethal alternatives,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, director of the International Wildlife Coexistence Network based in Idaho. “We are deeply disappointed in this administration’s response.”
High school students at Timberline High School in Boise were devastated when they learned that Wildlife Services killed the Timberline pack’s pups. The school adopted the pack as its mascot when the school was founded in 1998.
“It’s disheartening to see the USDA justifying killing our pack’s innocent pups as ‘humane management.’ The data from Idaho’s Wood River Wolf Project study should’ve been enough to persuade politicians of the efficacy of nonlethal methods, yet the USDA and Biden administration continue to practice inaction”, said Michel Liao, Timberline High School student. “It’s this very passivity that’s allowing people to eradicate all the pups from Timberline High School’s wolf pack this year on our public lands. It must stop.”
“We tell our students that science is key in wildlife management, yet scientific evidence tells us that killing or disturbing stable wolf packs leads to more livestock conflicts, not less and it undermines our native ecosystems,” said Dick Jordan, Timberline High School science advisor. “We expect more from the Biden administration and our Department of Agriculture. Killing wolf pups is not humane by any sense of the word. And doing so while Idaho is working to eradicate its wolf population is supporting the state’s new war on wolves.”
Yet, the Secretary’s letter yesterday confirms that Wildlife Services will continue these unscientific and inhumane activities.
“All wolf killing is predicated on a lie that wolves cause significant livestock deaths,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “They don’t. Wolves cause only a fraction of a percent of livestock deaths. And here Secretary Vilsack is compounding the travesty of this misnamed USDA program called ‘Wildlife Services’ by defending the killing of even pups. It is painfully obvious that Wildlife Services has fully embraced the cruel and self-serving demands of ranchers in Idaho. Americans should be outraged.”
“It’s disturbing to see state and federal officials openly supporting the killing of wolf pups. There is no scientific rationale for such barbaric measures,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With its new laws clearly intended to decimate our wolf population, it seems that with Idaho’s war against wolves, there are no limits to the state’s cruelty.”
“The Biden’s Administration’s response to our groups’ concerns was alarming, and the action that the administration stands behind is hideous,” said Katie Bilodeau with Friends of the Clearwater. “There are non-lethal wolf-predation deterrents that scientific testing has shown to be effective. Instead, federal and state officials chose the extreme and dubious alternative of killing pups in hopes that the parents would leave. We are grieved at the inhumane violence that federal and state officials dealt towards a social, family-based species like the wolf.”
MISSOULA, MONTANA—Today, as the wolf hunting season begins in Montana—and Idaho continues its year-round slaughter of up to 90% of the states’ roughly 1,500 wolves—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced positive initial findings on two petitions filed seeking Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the western U.S.
According to a press release from the agency, USFWS determined that “the petitions present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review of the gray wolf in the western U.S.” A copy of the two petitions are here and here.
“We are encouraged that the relentless pressure of the conservation community and the public has resulted in a response from USFWS on petitions to relist wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and beyond,” said John Horning, Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians. “It’s tragic—and perhaps not coincidental—that this finding comes on the same day that the state of Montana has unleashed hunters to kill hundreds of wolves throughout the state, including on the edge of Yellowstone National Park.”
“We now need USFWS to not just issue this statement of intention, but to take swift action in moving forward with the relisting process in order to prevent wolves from being pushed back to the brink of extinction,” explained Horning.
Last month, Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission finalized rules to expand hunting season, eliminate a cap on the number of wolves that can be killed in hunting and trapping zones bordering Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park and allow individuals to kill up to 10 wolves per season. In July, Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission implemented new hunting regulations – in line with state legislation – to allow a new year-round wolf hunting season, which would enable 90% of the states’ population to be slaughtered through various cruel methods such as traps, snares and even with snowmobiles.
“On the day that Montana opened rifle hunting season on wolves, the USFWS has finally taken their head out of the sand and recognized the tremendous threats to wolves across the West,” said Sarah McMillan, Montana-based Conservation Director at WildEarth Guardians. “Unfortunately, it’s unconscionable that the USFWS thinks a commitment to make a decision in 12 months—when the agency is on full notice that up to 1,800 wolves will be killed in Montana and Idaho in the next few months alone—is an adequate response to what is clearly an emergency situation.”
WildEarth Guardians issued a separate press release earlier today regarding the start of the general wolf hunting season in Montana, which is available here.
Gray wolf in winter in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Sam Parks.
Despite @POTUS saying he is NOT going to protect wolves, the USFWS are considering it seeing the petitions, etc they’ve received & because Idaho & Montana’s new horrific regulations & planned hunts, threaten their populations. 🙏🏼 @USFWS protect them. https://t.co/3FCKLfoGEy
For Indigenous people the removal of Endangered Species Act protections and impending decimation of #wolf populations by trophy hunters isn’t simply an “environmental” or “wildlife” issue—it's a social justice issue. Watch this video, the ACT: https://t.co/rePB96YHlKpic.twitter.com/F2fquJbFE9
Yesterday, animal welfare and conservation groups announced a reward of $15,000 for information on the poaching of the breeding female of the Wedge wolf pack. Today, Peace 4 Animals and WAN contributed $5,000 to raise the reward to $20,000 to bring justice to this slain female wolf. The mother wolf was found dead of a gunshot wound on May 26th in the Sheep Creek area of Stevens County in northeast Washington state.
Biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife discovered that the female wolf likely gave birth to pups earlier this year. It is speculated that the pups would not yet have been fully weaned and that her litter might not be able to survive on their own. Tragically, the female wolf’s death is thought to mark the demise of the Wedge wolf pack, as she was likely the only remaining female left. Now, it is thought that only one male wolf remains.
While gray wolves were prematurely stripped of their federal Endangered Species Act protections, they remain protected under state law in Washington. Despite those legal safeguards, since 2010, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlifehas confirmed at least 12 poaching deaths of state-endangered wolves. Annual wolf reports issued by the agency over the same time period show that another eight to 16 additional wolves were found dead of “unknown causes.” Just a single poaching conviction resulted from these cases.
“There are currently a minimum of 178wolves remaining in Washington state,” Julia Smith, Wolf Coordinator at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told WAN.
“It’s incredibly important to the agency to bring wildlife poaching to justice. This helps put a spotlight on poaching, and we will do anything to stop it. Poaching of any wildlife is despicable. In many cases, with help from the public, we have been able to bring poachers to justice. Any sort of help or tips we can get is greatly appreciated,” continued Smith.
Since wolves began recolonizing Washington state in 2007, humans have been responsible for the majority of their decline. Wolves have also been killed by ranchers for conflicts with livestock, as well as by hikers and hunters in so-called “self-defense,” even though wolves try to avoid humans and are not known to attack people.
“Sadly, it’s not surprising, after months of expanded and legalized wolf-killing across the country, that a criminal would be emboldened to poach a wolf in Washington,” said Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner for WildEarth Guardians.“We hope for justice for this wolf, but we know that even more wolves will die nationwide, legally and illegally, until Endangered Species Act protections are restored.”
Anyone with information regarding this sickening incident should call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (360) 902-2928, report a violation on the department’s website, or text WDFWTIP to 847411.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg
A new study in Wisconsin suggests the predators keep prey away from roads, reducing crashes by 24 percent
Each year, nearly 20,000 Wisconsin residents collide with deer each year, which leads to about 477 injuries and eight deaths annually. (Photo by Ken Mattison via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
smithsonianmag.com May 26, 2021
Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights an underappreciated benefit of wild wolf populations: the large predators frighten deer away from dangerous roadways, saving money and lives in the process.
According to the analysis 22 years of data, a county’s deer-vehicle collisions fall by about 24 percent after wolves take up residence there, Christina Larson reports for the Associated Press. Nearly 20,000 Wisconsin residents collide with deer each year, which leads to about 477 injuries and eight deaths annually. There are 29 counties in Wisconsin that have wolves.
“Some lives are saved, some injuries are prevented, and a huge amount of damage and time are saved by having wolves present,” says Wesleyan University natural resource economist Jennifer Raynor to Ed Yong at the Atlantic.
The study estimates that wolves save Wisconsin about $10.9 million in losses each year in prevented car crashes, which is far greater than the compensation paid by the state to people who lose pets or livestock to wolves.
“Most economic studies of wolves have been negative, focusing on livestock losses,” says wolf expert Dave Mech, who works at the U.S. Geological Survey in Minnesota and was not involved in the study, to the AP. “But wolves also reshape ecosystems in many ways, although that’s hard to measure economically.”
Most of the reduction in collisions was due to the “landscape of fear” that wolves create. Wolves tend to follow clear paths through the landscape, like streams. In an area that has been developed by humans, wolves follow roads, trails and pipelines. Deer adapt to the wolves’ presence by staying away, which would reduce the chance that they would get hit by a car.
“The icing on the cake is that wolves do this work all year long at their own expense,” says Western University ecologist Liana Zanette, who was not involved in the study, to the Atlantic. “It all seems like a win-win for those wolf counties.”
Wolves killing deer only accounted for about six percent of the drop in deer-vehicle collisions, reports Jack J. Lee for Science News. The drop in collisions didn’t just happen because wolves kill deer, so culling deerduring hunting season wouldn’t necessarily limit car collisions to the same extent as having wolves present.
The deer that the wolves do manage to kill would likely be the least risk-averse, and most likely to run in front of cars. But a detailed understanding of wolf and deer behavior would come from research that tracks the animals with collars, which was not a part of the new study, says University of Wyoming ecologist Matthew Kauffman to the Atlantic.
The research stands out from other studies of wolves’ impact on the environment because it highlights a benefit that wolves bring to the humans that live nearby. The regions that support wolf reintroduction tend to be urban, while rural communities generally oppose it. That was the case in Colorado, where wolf reintroduction narrowly passed in a vote in November. In sharp contrast, the Idaho state government recently passed a law to kill 90 percent of its wolves.
“The most interesting thing to me about choosing Wisconsin as a case study is that this is a human-dominated landscape,” says Raynor to Science News.
The estimated savings to Wisconsin are about 63 times higher than the cost of compensating people for losses caused by wolves. Raynor adds to Science News there are economic factors that weren’t taken into account in the new study, like the cost by deer to agriculture and through Lyme disease.
Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin, tells the AP that the study “adds to growing awareness that scientists should consider both the costs and the benefits of having large carnivores on the landscape.”
Help Mexican gray wolves by showing your support for translocating the Negrito Mexican gray wolf family to Ladder Ranch, where they can be safe and free! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) plans to move the bonded wolf family (M1693, F1728, and their young pups) onto the excellent habitat – away livestock grazing – that Ladder Ranch offers.
Currently, Mexican gray wolves within the wild population are as related to one another as full siblings. The captive population, however, is more genetically diverse. So, to address the genetic bottleneck facing the wild wolf population, the Mexican wolf Recovery Team selects captive wolves for release to capitalize on the remaining genetic potential available in that population.
Since 2016, USFWS excessively reliant on just a single strategy to release captive wolves to the wild – their cross-foster initiative. Cross-fostering is a coordinated event where captive-born pups are introduced into a similar-aged wild litter to be raised by surrogate parents. But cross-fostered pups can only eventually spread their genes to the greater population if they survive to adulthood and have wild pups of their own.
With the translocation of the Negrito pack, USFWS is allowing this family to establish a territory where there will be fewer threats presented by livestock grazing. They are also giving Mexican gray wolf M1693, a cross-foster wolf himself (from 2018) who has unique genetics, a chance to fulfill his potential in aiding in the genetic rescue of endangered subspecies!
Please join us in thanking the USFWS for doing the right thing for this wolf family and ensuring they have a chance to raise their pups in the wild where they belong!
Anyone can submit a comment to USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator Brady McGee, regardless of geographic location! The deadline for public comments is May 24, 2021.
Tell USFWS you support the Ladder Ranch Reserve 2021 Wolf Translocation Plan for the Negrito Pack (M1693, F1728, and their young pups)
Thank them for helping this wolf family return to the wild where they belong! Tell them you support the release of bonded family groups to aid in the genetic rescue of endangered Mexican gray wolves.
Tell them this wolf pack will make a positive genetic contribution to the wild population.
Tell them the Ladder Ranch offers excellent habitat for wolves and will ensure that this young wolf family can thrive in the wild away from human activities and livestock grazing.
Please personalize your message. Nothing is as effective as speaking from the heart!
Support for the Ladder Ranch Translocation Proposal
Dear [Decision Maker], As a lifelong supporter of Endangered Species Act (ESA) and someone who cares deeply for our nation’s wolves, including endangered Mexican gray wolves, I am writing to express my support for the Ladder Ranch Reserve 2021 Wolf Translocation Plan for the Negrito wolf family (M1693, F1728, and their young pups). * Personalize your message
I applaud USFWS for taking these steps, and look forward to cheering USFWS on as you proceed with your full authority to translocate this wolf family onto the excellent habitat – away from livestock grazing – that Ladder Ranch offers.
115 Top U.S. Wolf Experts, Scientists Urge Biden Administration to Restore Federal Protections for Gray Wolves
State Wildlife Agencies Reject Science, Demonstrate Inability to Sustain Wolf Populations
WASHINGTON— More than 100 scientists today called upon Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate federal protections for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.
Wolves lost their federal protections when the Trump administration finalized a national delisting rule in January. Since then, management of wolves has fallen to state wildlife agencies. The letter explains that “state governments have clearly indicated that they will manage wolves to the lowest allowable standards.”
Under the Endangered Species Act, all decisions about the listing of imperiled species must be based solely on the best available science. The scientists’ letter calls upon the federal officials to reinstate federal protections for wolves and “reverse recent and broad trends that have disregarded best-available science with respect to the ESA.”
The letter is endorsed by 115 scientists with expertise in areas related to wolf conservation, such as ecology, population dynamics and genetics. The letter is led by John Vucetich, a professor at Michigan Technological University, and Jeremy Bruskotter, a professor at Ohio State University.
“It’s very clear. The best-available science shows that gray wolves in the lower 48 states do not meet the law’s requirements for recovery,” said Vucetich. “Not being recovered, combined with hostile treatment of wolves by states such as Montana, Idaho and Wisconsin, indicates the need for federally guided conservation of wolves.”
“Emerging science and our experience with wolf conservation indicate there is far more suitable habitat for wolves than was once believed,” said Bruskotter. “Recovering wolves in other suitable areas depends critically on wolves dispersing from existing recovery areas. The recent politicization of wolf management in states like Idaho and Montana puts long-term recovery of wolves in jeopardy by reducing the probability of such dispersals.”
On his first day in office, President Biden ordered a broad review of the Trump administration’s anti-wildlife policies, including the decision to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves. Since then, hundreds of wolves have been killed under state management. The Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to issue any official review of the gray wolf delisting rule.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Endangered Species Coalition’s mission is to stop the human-caused extinction of our nation’s at-risk species, to protect and restore their habitats, and to guide these fragile populations along the road to recovery.
Even some hunters, don’t like this wholesale slaughter of wolves. A group called Hunter for Wolves have put up billboards in Wisconsin saying ‘Real hunters don’t kill wolves’. We hope the majority of silent hunters agree.🤞🏻 https://t.co/qHG0oUfZhM
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